April 25, 2011

A Visit To The National Aquarium

What a great place to visit and the weather was absolutely perfect. We wanted to rent a paddle boat after our visit to the aquarium but the line was way to long and I was afraid one of my kids would jump in the water while waiting.

Getting photos of all the kids is tough. No one ever listens.

Inside a sharks mouth. I wonder what Jonah must have felt like inside the belly of a whale for 3 days?

Posing with a lizard. Only a tween would strike a pose with a scaly lizard.

That lollipop in my little guys hand is homemade by a friend of mine. She makes these all natural treats and dropped three off on my porch one day last week. A sweet treat that I tucked into my purse for later. They proved to come in handy when my youngest who hadn't had a nap started having a melt down in the overly crowded aquarium. Thanks Greenhearts Farm! The kids LOVED them!

Oh.... is that an alligator?

No it's not it's a Caiman Crocodile.

A visit to the Immersion Theater. There was blowing snow, bubbles, spraying water and air. If you visit the aquarium make sure you buy tickets for the total experience which includes a theater show and the dolphin show.

Cubby in a trance. It was during this movie that a shark leaped out of the water to capture a seal on the run and caught it. My son says, "That's one happy shark." Everyone seated by us got a good laugh out of that comment. He also asked, "Why does everyone keep squirting us?"

Where's Reagan? She's in there. I love those glasses. They are quite the fashion statement.

Posing with sting rays. They're in there somewhere. I promise.

 She got sticky sucker in her hair courtesy of her little brother. Not happy.

Dolphin Show. These are such amazing creatures.

I love how they can swim on there backs and hold a ball none-the-less.

Daddy and his girls on the pier.

Daddy and his baby on the pier.

There are some great looking buildings on the harbor. We stopped at the Cheesecake Factory and picked up a couple of slices of cheesecake to share while overlooking the water.

The kids enjoyed running around outside after exiting the aquarium. It was so packed because it was spring break week.

I wish I would have had the camera turned to capture all three. It would have been such a cute shot.

I'm always trying to get a photo where everyone is looking at the camera. Almost but not quite. I'll continue to work on that. Always the photographer never the subject.

Thanks for stopping by Blue Sky Confections!

Jenny K.

April 22, 2011

Good Friday, Lilacs & A Sick Kitty

Good Friday is here and the skies are dark and gloomy and it's much cooler than the last few days have been. Rain is in the forecast but it always seems to go to the North and to the South of us leaving this area in a state of drought. I sure hope this summer isn't like 2010. I'll be praying for rain.

We spent a night in Baltimore near the Inner Harbor and took the kids to the National Aquarium this past week. (pictures to come) The weather was perfect and everyone really enjoyed themselves so that's a happy note. However, I took our kitty to the vet on Monday because he just has not been himself for the last couple of weeks. The vet did some blood work and we found out he is in a state of kidney failure and since that time has been quickly deteriorating. The mood in our house for those of us acutely aware of what is going on is one of great sadness. He has been a wonderful pet. Always good with the kids and friendly with anyone that extended a hand toward him. Our oldest is cherishing each moment she has with L.B., holding him for hours at a time and stroking his head and back. He was her 5th Birthday present.

Even with the cloud over our house I've been keeping everything moving forward with spring being so busy this year and trying to get so much done before the hot, summer, sun starts blazing. My lists keep getting longer and the yard work keeps expanding. There are invites to all kinds of events, and holidays to celebrate. There's a garden to be planted, landscaping to tend to, client projects that need to be finished up and now Easter is here. That means Easter Sunday outfits, Easter Baskets, our annual egg hunt, Easter egg coloring and a big Sunday dinner. But wait... I'm aware that this is not what Easter Sunday is all about. I realize that we're celebrating our Risen Savior and that it's a glorious day with or without all the trimmings. The traditions are always fun but time is limited so we'll see if I'm able to go good on all of this.

This morning I went out and cut some blooms for the house. We planted four lilac bushes four years ago and I thought by now I'd have large billowing shrubs full of beautifully scented blossoms each spring. The nursery said they were easy growers but I've had a lot of trouble with them. Each year only a few of the branches leaf and bud out and the remainder appear dead. So I've had to cut a lot of the wood back leaving me with one or two branches. Definitely not the shrubs I dreamed of when planting them. We transplanted two of the four last year hoping that less sun would make the difference. They survived the winter and produced some flowers but the other two that seemed to be doing well last year have lots of dead wood this spring with only a branch or two full of purple and green.

I usually don't like to cut flowers from my shrubs because I like my yard to look as pretty as possible  but since the shrubs themselves were not spectacular I thought cutting the flowers that I did have and bringing them inside so I could smell their wonderful perfume would make me happy. I snapped a few pictures of them in an old pitcher my mom gave me years and years ago.

Happy Easter and thank you for stopping by Blue Sky Confections!

Jenny K.

April 19, 2011

Planting - Seventh Week

Thyme Spent in The Garden

I think I might just be getting some tiny flower buds on some of my Petunia's. That is so great to see especially considering the week I've had and it's only Tuesday.

The Coleus-Versa continue to make me smile with their beautiful, variegated leaves and lovely colors.

So far it looks like I've got four color varieties. Over time I'll see how much they change and if my hunch proves to be accurate.

The Petunia-Bacopa blend also looks like it might start budding. I think my heart might just go pitter patter when I see the first little flowers.

I planted some Hyacinth Bean Vine and some Moonflower a couple weeks ago. The Hyacinth is doing well but the Moonflower hasn't even shown itself. I'm starting to wonder if the seeds are any good.

The variety of pepper plants is coming along nicely. I have some in a couple different stages. I can't wait to see how they do.

Lots and lots of tomatoes getting ready to stretch their legs in the raised garden bed that you see below. I'm going to plant some in my side yard and some in our raised bed at the community garden and then sell some to raise funds for the community garden and plant the remainder in the community section and the Food Bank section.

I need to add some more soil to the bed, churn it a bit more and I think I'll be in business. The square raised bed that you see in the center is the herb garden. All the herbs were graciously donated by CFC Farm & Home Center. Isn't that awesome?!?!? Several of my garden neighbors have already planted their gardens. I start getting anxious like I'm being left in the dirt. (pun intended) BUT when I've been in the nurseries and garden centers and I've talked to formidable gardeners and people more mature in years than I, they all say they don't plant until the end of April, first of May because of the chance of frost. So I will continue to be patient. Until then my handsome hubby and I need to devise a plan to stake all the tomato plants. I've seen a couple different options. The cages just don't seem to do that well. Any suggestions from fellow gardeners?

Thanks for stopping by Blue Sky Confections!

Jenny K.

April 18, 2011

Strawberry Shortcake Cookies

Strawberry season is right around the corner for those of us that live in Virginia. The stores are chock-full of well-priced beautiful, plump, juicy berries from other regions of this great nation but if you live in VA you'll soon be able to pick your own. Check your local listing for a farm near by and their hours of operation.

Each year our family heads to our local berry farm the first part of May to fill up 3 or more flats with strawberries. Our children manage to eat a few as we pick. How can you resist? Then I make chocolate dipped strawberries, freezer jam, strawberry shortcake and last year I happened upon this recipe in LIVING by Martha Stewart and I was sold.

I made a batch today using store bought strawberries and they are every bit as good as they were last year. The recipe calls for sprinkling sanding sugar over the tops of each before baking. I did not do that this go-around and last year I drizzled white chocolate over the top of each cookie and I would recommend that to anyone giving this recipe a try.

The dough is almost pie crust like and calls for the use of a pastry cutter, or your hands, when mixing the butter into the flour/sugar mixture. I don't own a pastry cutter so I used my hands and it was actually very therapeutic to blend each cube of butter until I got the course crumb mixture the recipe calls for before adding the heavy cream and diced berries.

Add this recipe to your stash if you want a portable dessert that's not overly sweet and closely resembles strawberry shortcake.

We'll be heading out to pick in a few weeks so maybe we'll see you at the farm.

Thanks for stopping by Blue Sky Confections!

Jenny K.

April 14, 2011

A Four Year Old - Where Does The Time Go?

I meant to get this post up at the beginning of the week but again I ask the question... Where does the time go?

My little guy turned FOUR last weekend. I love him so much! He's the happiest, friendliest little guy you'd ever meet. He's never met a stranger and he's oh so kissable. Here are a few photo's from his Birthday Party!

A friend of mine had him hold up four fingers and snapped a pic and my oldest daughter came running over to tell me I needed to do the same. So I did.

Here he is with Big Sis not sure what to make of all the attention. He's thinking, "She's never this nice".

 He was so excited to get that cupcake with the giant "4" cookie and those striped candles.

The bubble party at the close of the party was everyone's favorite. Just look at the joy on his face.

When they turned the bubble machine off my son was the first to ask that it be turned back on.

I made lemon cupcakes with lemon, buttercream frosting, topped with a brightly decorated sugar cookie. I made several stars and several number "4's". I topped all the cupcakes with the stars except the one for the Birthday Boy. He got the big "4" on his cupcake.

These almond flavored cupcakes with chocolate frosting and toasted coconut were made specially for the parents that attended. YUM! These are a favorite in our household.

Now he's got his very own car. He's thrilled to be able to drive to the playground, then drive himself to the swing, sit on the swing for a while, hop off and drive himself to the slide, make a trip down the slide and then drive himself over to his sister and say, "get in Rea, do you want a ride to the slide". I look at my children in amazement each day. They glean every bit of happiness and joy out of each moment in life. I LOVE IT! I wish I could be more like them.


April 12, 2011

Plants And Seedlings - Week 6

Tuesdays are fast becoming my favorite day of the week. I look forward to photographing the progress of my plant starting ventures and sharing them with my readers.

The Coleus-Versa are moving right along. I love seeing the variegation in the leaves and the color varieties. So pretty!

Just look at the rich color in these leaves. The only thing I will do differently is order my seeds the second week of January and start my flowers and landscaping plants the first of February. I will also need another greenhouse or a larger greenhouse. Once the plants start maturing they need to be transplanted into larger pots and I'm out of space.

My petunias made great strides this past week and are starting to encroach on their neighbors in a big way.

A handful of the peppers are starting to get some decent height but I don't think they'll be ready to put in the ground in two weeks. Maybe they'll surprise me.

The eggplant is also beginning to show signs of maturity but I don't believe these will be ready for planting in two weeks either.

However the cucumbers are ready to take over my house. They were ready to be planted a couple weeks ago. Yikes! They've already got the little feelers popping out looking for something to climb. I went ahead and planted another five last week and this is probably the time I should have started all of them. I got a little seed sowing happy I suppose.

The squash are another fast grower. They're only a week old and already the roots are popping out of the seed starter pucks. They definitely need to be started in bigger pots next year.

The tomatoes have already outgrown their tray as well. They need to be transplanted but again I have no space. I believe I've been over-watering them. I'm one of those nervous plant moms, wanting to make sure they have everything they need and I'm smothering them. They need to breathe a bit so I'm going to let them dry out for a few days. In the front, right tray I've got 10 ground cherries planted. They are slow growers. I'm interested to see how well they do.

Thanks for stopping by Blue Sky Confections!

Jenny K.

April 6, 2011

Outdoor Pillow Covers

To Freshen Up The Front Porch

Remember this post? I held true to my word and used the fabric I purchased in short order. One more thing I can cross of this list.

These are the fourth set of pillow covers that I've made for my front porch. It's a quick, simple and inexpensive way to add a little eye candy to the space guests see first when stopping by for a visit. I put together a simple tutorial back in the fall if you're interested. You can find it here. Then you can add whatever embellishments you like. I enjoy switching up the way I incorporate the grosgrain ribbon each time. I also stitched a little ric-rac on this go around for added whimsy. The selection of outdoor canvas fabric keeps getting better and better and I'm in love with this embossed, diamond patterned, cream fabric and I love how well it pairs with the bright blue floral.

Here's a detail shot to show you the way I looped the ribbon for a ruffle effect. I really love it!

Another up-close and personal shot. The ribbon I attached to the tops of each pillow will be used to tie them to the chair they will be resting on. That way I don't have to worry about them ending up in my neighbors yard when the spring storms come rolling through.

The ribbon and ric-rac also tie the two fabrics together on each set of differently sized pillows giving my front porch cohesiveness and I'm all about that. Neat and orderly is never a bad thing. Right?

I'll be putting these on display on my porch as soon as I get a fresh coat of paint on my rocking chairs. My handsome hubby fixed the wooden slats that were coming loose so now I have no excuse. I better get painting soon. Spring is upon us.

Thanks for stopping by Blue Sky Confections!

Jenny K.

p.s. I'm sharing this project here at Freckled Laundry and here at Centsational Girl.
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