Monday, June 29, 2009

A Very Brief Photo Essay

A quintessential summary of what I believe most people do when they finally arrive at their vacation destination. Especially when the Bay Bridge traffic had slowed to a crawl and added an extra hour and a half to the expedition.

Of course, before even unpacking the car, it is mandatory to check out the beach.
And what a beautiful beach it was. We stumbled upon this little known place about three years ago; I was looking for pet friendly accommodations somewhere in or around the Ocean City, Bethany or Rehoboth Beach area. Lucky for us, we discovered a jewel, called "Broadkill Beach". It is one of the few beaches around that seems to be unspoiled by crowds-each day we seemed to be the only ones there. I was spellbound by the beautiful sky and the cloud formations......
Someone eloquently described Broadkill Beach like this: "a quiet beach that's reminiscent of the movie classic 'Summer of '42'. The beach is reached by a charming wooden walkway over the dunes. Sheltered by Cape Henlopen on the south and Cape May on the north, its waters are relatively calm. And best of all, the beach is rarely, if ever, crowded. Families build campfires on the beach; and well-behaved pets are welcome. While Broadkill Beach is 'away from the madding crowd', it is far from being totally isolated. Broadkill's general store is just a short walk from the house, and carries a little bit of everything including wonderful homemade donuts on weekend mornings. And if you have a desire for first-class shopping or a taste for the variety and excitement of the larger resorts at any time during your stay, Lewes, Rehoboth, and Dewey can be reached within 15 minutes or less."
I brought my parents, uncle and aunt here for their first visit this year. They immediately fell in love with it just as the kids, Rick and I had the first time we arrived.

Thursday, June 25, 2009


So my sister is on "vaca" this week with her family, my Mom and Dad, Nana and Aunt and Uncle. She emailed me last week to see if I wouldn’t mind posting as a guest blogger. I am her younger sister and live in SC. As I have been thinking about what to write, the appropriate thought of the "quintessential" family vacation came to mind since this is why my sister is absent in posting this week. I couldn’t help but be nostalgic about vacations past.

In our family we were fortunate enough to have parents that took us for the week at the beach every year. Most years I think we were lucky enough to have 2 weeks at the beach! Usually we went to northern Ocean City, MD - 136th street to be exact.
We always stayed in the same condo every year and it was always oceanfront. Now we didn’t have a lot of money growing up - but our father worked long hours and saved all year long so that we could all look forward to going to the beach each year. And while we were there we lived it up! Ironically though - my dad didn’t and doesn’t even really like the beach. He would only come for long weekends to get us settled in or to help us pack up because he didn’t want to take too much time off of work and he didn’t care for baking in the sun on the beach all day long. The days he was there with us he made huge country breakfasts. In the afternoons he and my grandfather would make an assortment of snacks and a cooler of bloody marys for the adults and bring it down to the beach.

After a long day of sun and sand we’d all come back to the condo and get ready for the night’s festivities. Traditionally we rotated throughout the same things each year: Jolly Roger on 28th street (where one time they had to stop the apple turnover ride and get me off because I was screaming my head off in fear), 45th street village shopping, Rehoboth Beach, Bethany Beach, the all-you-can-eat Phillips Seafood buffet and always, of course the infamous "boardwalk" in OC -- perhaps my favorite of all of the vacation evenings each year. We’d start out with Thrashers french fries loaded with salt and vinegar - always in the tall paper cup. Then we’d hit Fisher’s popcorn for the buttery caramel delight a little later on. Somewhere during the evening we’d stop at the Candy Kitchen for a box of salt water taffy or mints. Then we’d get some tokens and head to the end of the boardwalk for rides and games. We’d always hit the Kite Loft and get a new rainbow colored windsock or kite to fly on the beach the following day. Walking up to the Kite Loft I always remembered the wooden swirly things twirling in the evening breeze outside the store. Later we’d stroll along the rest of the boardwalk and take in the sights and sounds: the smell of Ban De Soleil and Coppertone sunburn spray; the religious sandman carving his sand creations adorned with colorful lights;
The train going up and down and the "clink clink clink" of it going over the boards; the hoards of people talking about what bathing suit they just found in what store, or what they planned on doing the next day; the gossiping old folks out on the rockers in the old hotels fronting the boardwalk; the delicious smells of various restaurants and pubs along the walk; the seagulls; the waves breaking on the sand - the warm breeze blowing through our hair. I also remember the big sand crawler machines with headlights that drove the length of the beach raking the sand and picking up trash from the day. Inevitably we’d always end up losing my grandfather somewhere along the walk. And each time we’d always find him an hour later in the same place - The Ocean Gallery - as he was a self-made artist and always wanted to see what treasures he could find.

As I got older and my family moved towards the quieter Outer Banks, I was a teenager and didn’t want the quiet. I ventured off family schedule for a few years to go with my best to her grandfather’s home on Monroe Bay in Colonial Beach, VA. For those of you unfamiliar with this beach it is an old sleepy town right where the Potomac River meets the Chesapeake Bay. It was truly a fabulous adventure for a couple of high school girls wanting a little summer adventure. My friend’s grandfather was a generous guy - he bought a jet-ski for us to use before either of us had our driver’s licenses! He also had long dock off the back of his house along with a pontoon boat. My friend’s Uncle would take us out in the evening for midnight boat rides where we’d gaze at the stars and be amazed at all the glittering phosphorescence in the dark water. There was also a private beach within walking distance of the house. We’d often go there in the day and try our best to upgrade our tans. At night we’d meet friends and have bonfires on that same beach and drink Boonsfarm Strawberry Hill wine. Once we had a good tan going we’d take the jet-ski or drive into town (once my friend got her license and a shiny new red convertible - also from her grandfather). One summer we met some "locals" - - handsome tanned lifeguards that were close in age to us. We ended up befriending these guys and ended up making some long lasting friendships. They came up to our homecoming dances, colleges and even visited us after we moved away from home. We all still keep in touch now. I was so enamored with this little town that I even wrote a high school essay about it which I will share with you now. When I found the essay - it was a little worn around the edges - the corners are folded and the ink is bleeding a bit. But it’s a nice treasure after all these years and it seems like only yesterday. It’s perhaps because of these great memories that I made the decision to be on a permanent vacation and move to Hilton Head Island, SC 11 and ½ years ago.

Enjoy your summer everyone!

Essay from English Class, 1993

Our truck smoothly drove down the route at a quickening pace. The desolate road contained no sign of what lay a few miles away. The sun beamed down on the dark red interior and was radiated throughout the cab of the truck. The radio was playing a variety of classic rock songs. Different country produce stands made a break in the endless empty scenery. A little bridge brought a stagnant smell of the marsh grasses that fluttered in the warm summer breeze.

As we turned down the main street of the mysterious river town, signs dotted the telephone polls and street lights. The signs were made largely of luminous yellow and orange colored strips of fabric which reflected the sunlight onto different antique shop windows. A tarnished silver diner on the corner welcomed the tourists and the townsfolk with a florescent flashing "open sign".

The boardwalk was overgrown with grasses and weeds hiding the ruins of a century-old motel. Broken glass and bottle caps filled in the crevices of the cement sidewalk. The air smelled of salt and of a food stand that was at the end of the walk. Various beach novelty shops waited for customers to buy any of the cheap ugly items that were of no use.

Suddenly, a child’s scream caught my attention. I turned to picture a big, yellow water slide that looked as if it may have been there since the beginning of time. The miniature golf course which lay on the opposite end of the boardwalk revealed splintered, weathered wood, cracked plastic figures and statues, and faded signs advertising the price of a game.

Sounds of water lapping a the rocks and sand surrounded the air as I stepped onto the dock. The floorboards and railings and engravings of people who had strolled down the dock years before. Seagulls flew above the rocks searching for the perfect place to land. I approached the edge of the creaky wooden structure and looked below at the less-than-inviting water. Thousands of jelly fish with mile long tentacles painted the surface. A smell of motor oil and gasoline encircled me as an old fishing boat took off from below carrying a large red dog. The dog ran back and forth on the edge of the boat snapping at the waves as they crashed upon the side. In the distance, I could see the lifeguards sitting in their big white chairs and children romping around in the shore in brightly colored bathing suits and towels. Music and splashing were apparent as some children went down the yellow waterslide. A pink and blue jetski zoomed by at full throttle spraying water. A huge man was driving the ski and he periodically screamed to an orange pontoon boat edging close behind him. As I breathed in deeply to taste the salt air, I thought that this would be the beginning of a wonderful week at Colonial Beach.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Remembering the details

When my sister asked me if I wanted to be a guest blogger for a day or two while she was on her vacation, I hesitated. I read the invitation again, and asked a few questions. Would it be the whole week? One day? What would the subject matter be? Andi quickly answered and said it could be one day, two days, whatever. She told me I could write about anything. I accepted, but had to think about what I would say, to make everything seem, you know, interesting and thought provoking. After all, I am a guest, and want to do this blog justice. My sister does a wonderful job at blogging, and keeps your attention with the smallest details that seem to be swept away in today’s rat race, unless you really focus and pay attention. Stick with me for a moment…

I have very little time to devote to things of this nature, and often find things like facebook and myspace to be huge time wasters. I continue to be poked by people I know: “What? You’re not on Facebook?!? Why not?” Come on - who needs to know that I am headed to the store to buy a gallon of milk? My wife knows when I have gone to the store or my neighbors might see me drive away, but now as a tweeter or someone on facebook, it is standard practice to report such things to the world. I remember the days when such pieces of information weren’t a secret, but surely nobody needed to know.

I think with the speed of life at this stage in the developing world, we crave these details about our friends and other people because our real ‘contact’ with them on a daily basis consists of some strokes on a keyboard, buttons punched on a blackberry or messages left on a voicemail system. We savor such tiny personal details (think gallon of milk example), like the song someone is listening to at the moment. It’s pretty crazy. Try and think back to when you last received a real, hand-written letter, sent through the USPS, and it was one that was written days before the mailman dropped it off at your house.

So this, in a sense was what I decided my subject was to be today. The details of a life that is going by, and getting run over by technology. The little things in life are what a lot of us miss out on, if our schedules are too busy. My sister is very good at reporting these things, and reminds us with almost every post she makes. This is also what my sister is doing as I write this. She’s at the beach with her family, the dogs, our grandmother, our Mom & Dad. They are probably enjoying a glass of wine and at dinner, enoyed a grilled steak that my brother in law marinated, they are likely watching an old classic movie, sitting around and talking on the sand, and listening to the waves cycle along on the shore, through their screen door. Vacations are what we look forward to for a reason: They allow us to slow down and catch our breath, recharge our batteries, and to have the time to focus on and appreciate the details of what life really has to offer. My sister, and the rest of the family that are there deserve to be on vacation. It is hard earned, and is long overdue.

Today, I ran with my 10 year old daughter, A. Now when I say run, you may think, ‘fast’, but when I say run, I mean 9.5 minute miles, and only TWO of them. Real runners go about 6 or 7 minutes per mile, and they go forever. My speed (to anyone who regularly runs) would say I am walking, and basically, I am. The point is that I was delighted that she would and could join me, and this is the kind of detail I will remember forever. We walked (I mean ran) along quietly, on the sidewalks in our block, and watched as the neighborhood settled into a lazy summer evening. Afterwards, we walked over to the nearby college pool and splashed a bit with my wife, M and son, S. We had dinner, and walked our dog Maggie, and we read a chapter in a story to the kids before bed. This is the kind of detail I want to tell people about. Not that I went to the store to get a gallon of milk…

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

it's such a fine and natural sight

Here is a cute shot of our silly boys. Sovereign is on the left and Pie is on the right. It was a wet spring day and they have mud splattered about. Hopefully, when Andi returns from her holiday she can come meet them at Honeysuckle Faire. Below is a picture of artwork in the garden. Horses, art, there anything else? I have enjoyed my time as a guest poster. Thanks for inviting me - it was fun!

Monday, June 22, 2009


The sun is shining again here in Pennsylvania. Hopefully it is equally lovely at the beach for Andi and her family! Here is a beach painting I did from my favorite "Little Golden Book", Corky. Even when I was small I loved the green hat on the annoyed woman in front. She is angry, but her baby and her hat are smiling at Corky and his antics! Hooray!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

wasting my days in a caravan

Hi! This is Julie of Honeysuckle Faire. I am a guest poster today, due in large part to these muddy Wellies and a teal coloured mini-van. What?! Here is the fun story:

My grandmother gave me and my family a mini-van three years ago. It had low mileage and was a unique aqua shade. Ubiquitous, yet practical, we were in no position to decline this generous gift. This month, my parents kindly bestowed upon us another mini-van, with even lower mileage! Yes, it is true. We are mini-van magnets. They fall from the sky into our drive. We could not keep both so my husband, Brian, took some photos and listed the teal van on Craigslist. He walked into the house from his office and the phone started ringing. It was Andi, owner of this blog, inquiring about the van. This was 2 minutes after Brian had posted the listing! Andi and her daughters immediately set off on the 45 minute trek from their house to ours to check out the van. (Read her post here about having to settle for the very practical, yet unanimously un-sexy mini-van.) We loved Andi and her effervescent personality instantly. That was last Saturday afternoon. On Wednesday, Andi, her husband and daughters, and Brian and I and our daughter, Maizie, all met at the home of a poor, unsuspecting notary somewhere in the outskirts of Dillsburg to transfer the van title. We crowded in this man's tiny, tiny, tiny home notary "office" - Andi's family of four, ours of three, the notary and my crazy green Wellies. Someone commented about the Wellies. I had just turned out the horses, I explained. (Wellies are a horse conversation magnet, I know this from past experience. If you want to talk about horses, wear Wellies!) Well, Andi and I just started bubbling out of control in conversations about owning Thoroughbreds and blogging and farms and England and all our amazing commonalities! (We didn't even know at that point that we were both artists!) Our families were equally involved in the wild exchange of coincidental facts and we all were laughing and talking at the same time. The very patient notary was calmly trying to obtain the necessary signatures amid all the confusion. After we were concluded with the paperwork, our families and conversations spilled out into this man's driveway. There were just so many uncanny similarities and we couldn't talk fast enough! The man came outside because he needed to go somewhere. We were still talking as he drove away, shaking his head!

Isn't life wonderful? You just never know when you are going to meet other people who are living similar existences with common interests and philosophies.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Carrots, Anyone?

Our last visit with Dancer and the gang before our trip to Broadkill Beach; I am blessed and honored to have some dear family and friends who will be "guest posters" during the week I am gone; my brother, Ian, my sister Jenni, Julie from and Holly from Highbridge Farm. I know we are all in for a wonderful treat!

While I look forward to the sun, sand and ocean and the time to regroup, I will be missing everone,(both two and four legged.)

Until I return-Cheerio, old chaps!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Things You Don't See Everyday

I've been meaning to put this up for a couple of days; this is a beautiful heron's nest I pass every day on my way to the barn to see Dancer. It makes me think of so many things; being a parent, teaching your kids to fly for the very first time, and just having faith that everything is going to turn out okay. Lots of heavy stuff for just driving by a nest! Herons are one of my very favorite birds-I love watching them fly, with their legs streaming out behind them in flight. I was hoping to take a picture of them every day, to document their progress, but alas, I have not had the discipline to do this; we've only been able to simply enjoy passing by every day, seeing the babies and their parents huddled together.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I Love My Girl

Of course my human girls and my aussies are pretty special, too! My poor husband, he is outnumbered by all us females. Oh wait, Moose is a boy mouse! Its six to two in our house. Lily mouse is of course, a girl so she has to be included-after all, however small, she is part of the family.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Giving In

Yes, folks, I finally did it-I swore I never would, but God is having His fun with me-I am getting a VAN!

I had so wished for a suburban,

or an extended cab F-150:
But, unfortunately, our budget just wouldn't allow for it. Sigh!

Nevermind that I have two little girls who are involved with activities that make a van absolutely the ideal and practical choice. When I had told people about my hopes of purchasing a truck, they politely reminded me that I have children. Really? Oh, right! Those two adorable girls over there are mine, aren't they?

I guess I will have to put my dreams on hold for a little longer. (Begin playing violin here.) Alas, I am such a country girl at heart and was secretly planning on my next purchase after the truck to be a two horse trailer-just a little ole' tiny one!
When I shared my thoughts with my husband, he shot me one of those sideways glances like, "Are you out of your mind? That isn't even an option. And by the way, you only have one horse, Andi, or are you not telling me something?"

All I wanted was something to pull Dancer to the battlefield for those trail rides. But lets be realistic; she really should have some company-and, I was only thinking of my dear husband's best interest! He loves the Gettysburg Battlefield so much and what better way to see it than from horseback, and, on his very own horse! He doesn't know it yet, but he would sooooo enjoy tagging along with me. And, we would be spending that "quality time" together, riding off into the sunset.
See, here's the horse I had picked out.....

A girl can dream, can't she? I've been told many times I like to drink champagne on a beer budget.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Love This!

Imagine a pair of 900-pound horses photographed in a furnished,
carpeted house unpacking their suitcases. Meet Romeo & Juliet, two real horses who talk, laugh, stick out their tongues, smile and eat cake with a fork. By following their hearts, they escape their mundane, barnyard lives and find friendship, fun and
home sweet home.
Romeo paints on canvas with a brush in his mouth and has appeared in magazines, newspapers and on television. Juliet joined Romeo as his first student and has her own, unique painting style. Their paintings hang in homes worldwide. Romeo & Juliet are both Paso Fino horses, aged 12 and 6, respectively. Visit their website at

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A Couple Quotes for the Day

"Living in the moment brings you a sense of reverence for all of life's blessings."

And that is exactly what I have been doing. Please be patient as I try to adjust from one routine to another. This is the first full week the kids are home and I am picking up more hours at one of the part time jobs I have been keeping. Trying to find that balance has been pretty challenging, but i don't want to sound cliche because I know everyone around me is pretty much dealing with the same thing.

I remind myself how thankful I am to even have some income, and as the song goes "You're gonna' miss this when its gone." One day, a long time from now, I am going to wish I had these times back.
Humans are so funny, aren't they? We never realize what we have until its gone.

I'm trying, Lord, I'm really trying.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

School's Out for the Summer; Lets Have a Yard Sale!

Its no secret how much I enjoy garage and yard sales. I love discovering a good find almost as much as I enjoy hosting a sale and watching others unearth their own little treasures. The clever folks over at have just launched an interactive website which enhances this experience. Not only can you easily locate a sale within your area with just a few clicks of a button, you can also advertise for free (for a limited time) if you are holding your own sale.
One of the features I especially like is that when you are posting information about an upcoming event, you have the opportunity to list specific items that will be available, such as computers, digital cameras, kids clothing,etc.,and then anyone searching for sales in the area can type in what they are looking for and narrow it down by item. What a time saver! There is also an option for contacting the seller if you have any questions. No more circling ads in the newspaper, driving from place to place searching aimlessly, wasting gas.
Here's an adorable little chandelier that I was lucky enough to snap up during one of my recent excursions:
The coolest part about purchasing items this way is that, A) It's a pretty safe bet that you are going to get a one of a kind item, and B) It is usually a fraction of the price you would pay in a store.
Often times,you have to think outside the box and look at an item and see the possibilities. A great example is clothing. For inspiration on what to do with the abundance of t-shirts gracing most yard sale tables, check out this clever book: Here's another great resource for turning trash into your own special treasure: In today's disposable world, it's refreshing to see the ingenuity and creativity people have as they transform ordinary, mundane, or seemingly hopeless items into fabulously functional pieces.
Not only can this be a fun pasttime for adults, kids can get in on the action too. Learning to recycle items in this ever-increasing green market is a building block that will make an impression for a lifetime. I will be going into more details about how to incorporate yard and garage sales into your children's summer activities in a future post. Until then, don't forget to visit for additional insightful tips and advice.

Monday, June 1, 2009

In Prelude to My Post About Sixth Grade Graduation

Every time I read this, I cry. Paul Harvey wrote it, that wonderful man. I don't think I could say it better than this-may you rest in peace, Paul. Thanks so much.

We tried so hard to make things better for our kids that we made them worse.

For my grandchildren, I'd like better.

I'd really like for them to know about
hand me down clothes
homemade ice cream
and leftover meat loaf sandwiches.

I really would.

I hope you learn humility by being humiliated, and honesty by being cheated.

I hope you learn to make your own bed
to mow the lawn
and wash the car.

And I really hope nobody gives you a brand new car when you’re sixteen.

It will be good if at least one time you can see puppies born and your old dog put to sleep.

I hope you get a black eye fighting for something you believe in.

I hope you have to share a bedroom with your younger brother/sister.
And it's all right if you have to draw a line down the middle of the room, but when they want to crawl under the covers with you because they’re scared,
I hope you let them.

When you want to see a movie and your little brother/sister wants to tag along,
I hope you'll let them.

I hope you have to walk uphill to school with your friends and that you live in a town where you can do it safely.

On rainy days when you have to catch a ride,
I hope you don't ask your driver to drop you two blocks away so you won't be seen riding with someone as uncool as your Mom.
If you want a slingshot,
I hope your Dad teaches you how to make one instead of buying it.

I hope you learn to dig in the dirt and read books.

When you learn to use computers,
I hope you also learn to add and subtract in your head.

I hope you get teased by your friends when you have your first crush; and when you talk back to your mother I hope you learn what ivory soap tastes like.

May you skin your knee climbing a mountain, burn your hand on a stove
and stick your tongue on a frozen flagpole.

I don't care if you try a beer once,
but I hope you don't like it…
And if a friend offers you dope or a joint,
I hope you realize they are not really your friend.

I sure hope you make time to sit on a porch with your Grand Parents and go fishing with your Uncle.
May you feel sorrow at a funeral and joy during the holidays.

I hope your mother punishes you when you throw a baseball through your neighbor's window and that she hugs and kisses you at Hannukah/Christmas time when you give her a plaster mold of your hand.

These things I wish for you –
tough times and disappointment,
hard work and happiness.

To me, it's the only way to appreciate life.