Archive for trips, events & holidays

Minty the Candy Cane

If you’re a Conan fan, you might recognize this guy from last year– he’s Minty the Candy Cane and he may have fallen on the ground for just a moment or two. (Click here to go to Conan’s site if you are confused.) This is quite potentially the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever made…

Last year M was so taken with the idea of Minty and he sang the Minty song ad nauseam. When he started singing about Minty again this year, I decided he needed his very own Minty Christmas ornament for the tree. I constructed this guy out of felt and embroidery floss, and a real penny. (Please don’t tattle on me to the Federal Reserve.)

He even has an anatomically correct backside– bugs and all!

Happy Holidays– may they be most excellent and spent NOT on the ground and NOT covered in poo.


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A Partridge in a Fake Tree

I’m so tired of staring at this:

and so glad I can finally see more of this:

It’s a bit more colorful than your average partridge, but that’s alright. Everyone dresses up in reds and greens for Christmas, even the birds!

(I’m so tickled that they match.)

Though it’s a labor of love to do this every year, I get so much joy out of making ornaments for my loved ones. I think it reminds me of my childhood…Every year the school where my mom taught hosted an ornament-making night for families. You’d go into the cafeteria (which was also the gym) and move from station to station to make each ornament. I’ve kept everything I made over the years. I think my favorites are the weird ones– like a strawberry made from a walnut colored red with magic marker, felt leaves, and a yarn stem, which M rolls his eyes at every year when I hang it on the tree. There are some classics though, like an old-fashioned bead and lace candle and a snowflake made from styrofoam, chenille stems and sequins. I think ornaments like those give a tree character. I’d still hang my Kindergarten bow-tie macaroni wreath if it wasn’t so fragile. I have such fond memories of those times, Christmas as a child when everything was so much more simple.

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Procrastination Pinecones

Over Thanksgiving in between laughing with family and friends, eating turkey and pie, playing games, shooting guns and crossbows, and the annual “critter roast” and Charlie Brown tree decorating at my Godparents’ house, my momma managed to squeeze in some time to teach my future sister-in-law and I how to make these ribbon pinecone ornaments.

They’re super-easy and take exactly one Christmas movie length to complete one ornament. (Rather convenient, if you ask me!)

There are many other things that currently demand my attention: finishing up the laundry, unloading the dishwasher, getting organized for the Happy Housewives winter craftstravaganza on Friday, decorating the tree which sits in the living room illuminated with white lights but no decorations, (And considering it’s a pre-lit tree, that’s not much of an accomplishment.) working on my handmade Christmas cards or holiday ornaments (which are not pinecones, mind you) or really a number of other tasks which need to be completed. But instead I perch cross-legged on the couch watching one of eleven holiday movies currently taking up space on the DVR, cutting and folding ribbon and pinning it to styrofoam egg shapes, happily creating. My only regret is that I didn’t think to mix up something yummy to bake in the oven while I “work.”

One day soon, when the weather is less dreary, (and by less dreary I mean that it’s not dark enough to turn on the outside Christmas lights at 1 pm) I will take the time to take some step-by-step photos and make up a tutorial so that you can learn how to waste time making ribbon pinecones also.

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Happy Halloween!

A couple of weeks ago, M and I decided that we were going to make a scarecrow for the front yard. The flowers in the bed are gone except for some mums flanking the steps and the area was looking a little sparse. So that’s what we did.

And as soon as it was in the ground, Mr. Tucker promptly ran up and bit it. (Of course he would.)

They quickly became friends.

A funny story about Pepe… (That’s what hubby named the scarecrow.) One of the neighbors flagged me down the other day to tell me that he got very nervous when he looked out the window and saw someone standing in the yard with his pants hanging down low, looking like he was up to no good. When he came outside to investigate, he saw the top half of the body and laughed himself silly that he was concerned about a scarecrow. I told him that it has scared me half-to-death at least a dozen times so he shouldn’t feel foolish.

With the heavy winds and rain we got this weekend, Pepe fell over and the color in his face ran a little. (Note to self: Sharpie takes artistic liberty with the term “permanent.”) Anyway, we came home on Saturday to find him passed out on the hay bale with his pants halfway down, looking like a drunk. He’s been quite problematic, this scarecrow.

We’re expecting lots of trick-or-treaters tonight and I’m looking forward to handing out goodies. Mr. Tucker will be dressing up as monster dog again this year. He will be on his best behavior which means he will be locked in the bedroom, howling his beastly face off.

Happy Halloween from our house to yours!

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Mat Kearney at 9:30 Club

On Sunday night, M and I headed into Washington D.C. to enjoy a Mat Kearney show. Last month, I reviewed Mat’s latest album, Young Love, and fell in love with his music. Imagine how excited I was when a One2One Network community manager contacted me and offered me 2 complimentary tickets to Mat’s show! Of course, I said yes!

To say that Mat Kearney put on a great show would be an extreme understatement. The venue sold out and we were packed in like sardines– I even saw a few families with young children who seemed to be having as good of a time as the teens and adults. The show was a great mix of songs from all of his albums and even the slower songs were full of energy. It was impossible not to have a great time and dance along with the music. Mat encouraged the fun and upbeat atmosphere by inviting us to sing along for a number of songs and mingling with the audience, shaking hands, handing out high-fives and even singing on top of the bar for a bit. He cracked jokes throughout the show, made numerous references to Star Trek (seriously!) and during his Washington D.C. freestyle he worked in a joke about seeing Michelle Obama in the audience. Mat’s performance seemed effortless (talk about some performance chops!) and he seems like a down-to-earth, genuinely nice guy. I’d venture to say that he enjoyed performing for us as much as we enjoyed being there to see him.

Towards the end of the show the opening band, Leagues, took the stage with Mat Kearney and company and performed a cover of  Pumped up Kicks. The bands seemed to have a great time with this number and the audience did too. I actually prefer their version of the song over the one played on the radio!

I have to add in the mandatory legal disclaimer and let you know that I received complimentary tickets through One2One network. (A big thank you to them for such a fun opportunity!) The opinions expressed here are my own and, as always, honest. I enjoyed the show so much that after the concert I came home and downloaded his two earlier albums (with my own hard-earned money) and my iPod has been on Mat Kearney mode for the entire week. If that doesn’t speak volumes, I don’t know what will.

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Christmas in July

Just in case you need further proof that I am running behind on just about everything I’ll share with you this, my little respite from our sweltering heat-wave:

I’m working on Christmas ornaments! No folks, I’m not planning ahead. This is catch-up from last year.

Maybe sometime in December I’ll get around to this season’s yearly gardening post. (Maybe.)

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Wings of Fancy

Have you ever been so busy that you feel as if you are caught in a white water current and its carrying you down the river so quickly that you can’t even see the scenery? That’s how I feel lately. I’ve been having a lot of fun and getting a lot done, but I rarely have time to reflect. I’m trying to slow the pace a bit so that I can at least enjoy the scenery.

Two weekends ago (for the opening day!) M and I visited the Brookside Gardens butterfly exhibit, Wings of Fancy. It was lovely to be inside the conservatory with all the butterflies fluttering around us, sometimes even landing on an arm or head! We stayed in the conservatory for well over an hour before strolling around other parts of the gardens. When we returned home I was so excited to share photos of our day that I somehow managed to erase over 60 photos from my memory stick, luckily not of the butterflies themselves, but of the lovely azaleas and wisteria that I found so magical. Just another reminder to slow down…

My favorite species is from these first few pictures: the Leopard Lacewing. Maybe I’m biased because it landed on me. Or maybe it was just the brilliant orange colors.

We were also fortunate enough to be able to view freshly laid eggs! The eggs were laid that morning by the Julia Longwing, the orange butterfly pictured below. The eggs were tiny yellow sacs just a bit larger than a period.

We also saw these humongous Atlas Moths. They were stationary the entire time which was probably a good thing. With a wingspan of about 7 inches, I have a feeling I might have let out a little scream if one of these landed on me. The reason that they are so slow is because these moths get all the nutrients they need for their lifetime as caterpillars because in the moth form they don’t have working mouth parts. After mating, the females will lay eggs and then die. They only live for a week or less.

Chocolate Pansy

Brown Clipper

Blue Clipper

Lemon Pansy

Blue Tiger


Pipevine Swallowtail


Zebra Longwing

Paper Kite

In addition to my veggie and herb gardens, I have planted a flower garden designed to attract hummingbirds and butterflies. Lantana seemed to really attract the butterflies last year so it is definitely included! (See here, here, here, here, and here. Oh, and here too.) Shall I add that it was much less stressful photographing butterflies in a closed location with no wind than chasing them wildly through the front yard through swarms of bees? Yes, it most definitely was.

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