Locks of Love

I finally did it, my long (and sometimes very frustrating hair) has been cut off and donated to Locks of Love!! It was a bit of a shock but so far I am loving not getting my hair stuck in things (like jackets, doors, purses and jewelry), not getting stuck in it while sleeping, not having to deal with huge rats nests, and using a lot less shampoo and time to get ready (plus I finally look more like my real age which means getting carded at the bar a lot less, an unexpected bonus).
The before (with a good friend at the Blackbird Cafe)
The Hair!
The end result



Photo taken by Tara Freeman, SLU photographer
The girls and I doing the traditional cap throw
A week later and the fact that I am officially a college graduate has not yet sunk in. Maybe if I stare at my degree for long enough!



A few shots from school. I almost got a picture of a squirrel running around with an entire cookie in his mouth, but alas it was not meant to be.


Upstate New York

There were so many gorgeous barns, many surrounded by lilacs, I had to get at least one picture showing some of the charm of upstate NY.
The bridge from Vermont to New York.
After crossing into NY you are met with this sign which I find hilarious and a pretty good indicator of exactly how upstate "Upstate" NY is (Canada is 1 mile away at this point).
This weekend was Commencement and the big drive to upstate New York. While it is an obnoxiously long drive, it is a beautiful one and even though I've made the drive many times, I ended up taking the wrong exit which turned out to be a happy mistake. Saving myself another hour on the highway I instead got to wend through a picturesque part of Vermont (near South Alburgh) and could have easily added another hour to the drive by stopping to take pictures.


Okay, so I have a problem...

I clearly am addicted to taking pictures of plants and flowers, and I would say I could stop anytime I want, but I think that would be a lie. So here you go...

The "Honey Tree" is almost in full bloom!
Our rhubarb, if only it knew it was about to become a delicious strawberry rhubarb pie.
Lilac, my favorite!
Bleeding hearts, I think these and weeping willows are in a competition to see which plant can be the most depressing (while also being quite lovely of course)


Not feeling herself

This is her more serious "philosophical face" it's about as contemplative as you can expect from someone who drinks from the toilet. This is her pouty face, I think she has the puppy dog eyes down to a science.
I think Fiona is upset about my new job, and how it prevents me from spending the whole day rubbing her tummy and letting her in and out. She's also trying to figure out how many of her people are supposed to be at home (all the coming and going seems to upset her and she'd like it if we all just stayed put). Last night she didn't even eat her dinner till I came home at ten, which means a full bowl of food was sitting there for five hours in front of the dog who normally woofs down all her food in five seconds. Poor pup, maybe she's just sick of the democratic primaries and wants it to be decided once and for all. Either way, I'm hoping it's nothing a trip to the lake and a slim jim can't fix.


The greatest place on earth!

The "John Deere-A-Saurus"
Mama and babies, just in time for mother's day (she wasn't a fan of me taking pictures of
her little girls, didn't she know I'm not Annie Leibovitz?)

Hellooooo! Think he's related to Mister Goat from India? Maybe it's his kid brother (some puns were not meant to be resisted!)

I haven't been posting as much lately (or sleeping, cooking or running as much for that matter) because I started my new job and it's a bit of a handful. I'm working for an answering service (something I didn't even know existed before I took this job) and at first it was really overwhelming because I handle several hundred accounts, each has it's own unique protocol or strange rules, and every day comes with difficult clients (I've worked at a coffee shop though where the people are cranky and caffeine deprived, that's a whole different type of difficult). While I'm finally getting a handle on things and the job is becoming more fun (it is the ultimate in vicarious living and as a life-long people watcher this is in a way my dream job) there was a really rough patch in there and there was at least one day where I really didn't want to go to work. Luckily for me, half way through my twenty minute commute there is the ultimate in pick-me-ups... Smiling Hill Farm!!

A local family run business, Smiling hill sells all types of dairy goods (my favorite cheese is the Rosemary Waltz), including flavored milk like strawberry, chocolate, blueberry, banana, vanilla and coffee. We buy all our milk, half and half, and cream from Smiling Hill (either at the store or from the grocery store) and in addition to getting to buy local the milk comes in awesome glass bottles. Returning the bottles to the store makes a great excuse to buy lots of cheese, and (here comes the best part) get a milkshake! Their ice cream is phenomenal any way you scoop it, but my favorite form is as a super thick frappe and this has been my guilty indulgence lately (I pretend to not notice that it's made with whole milk!) So on this day when the idea of work just seemed like way to much, I decided to bribe myself with a milkshake (knowing full well it probably wouldn't even last the drive) and as an extra bonus for me, the animals had come in that day. Challenging the milkshakes for the title of greatest thing ever for cheering me up, comes baby animals, and every spring and summer Smiling Hill gets an assortment of unbelievable cute goodness for a little petting zoo. So what are you waiting for? Go to Smiling Hill and check out the yummy goodies and the adorable goodies (just remember, no matter how cute the lambs are the are NOT for eating).


A dangerous assignment

I know the amount of photos I have taken of the gardens in the last couple days is starting to border on obsessive, but I'm just too excited about all the blooming signs of spring! Going outside to capture yet another day in the life of the magnolia aka Honey Tree, I realized the shrub at the top of the driveway was in full bloom. Normally I steer clear of this shrub and it's inch long thorns but I didn't think a couple of pictures would hurt. As I set up my first shot, I realized there was a huge bee in the picture, stepping back I saw that the whole shrub was actually abuzz with some of the fattest bees I've ever seen. Rather than running inside I decided to brave it out and try to get a few good pictures of these chubby and very busy little pollinators at work.

More Spring goodness!

TGIF- Thank goodness it's Friday (and my day off) and thank goodness it's flower season!!


Spring is really here!

We've been taking a lot of photos of the garden lately to make sure Tom doesn't miss any of the bulbs or blooms while he's still in the Czech Republic. The second and fourth pictures are of the Magnolia tree that has been nicknamed "The Honey Tree." Honey was our first family dog and she passed away two years ago, we were all absolutely heartbroken since for some reason we were under the impression she would live forever. In memory of her we planted the tree in her favorite spot in the yard. My Mom came rushing in the other morning as I was getting ready for work and pulled me outside saying "you have to see the Honey tree!" Once I was in front of the tree she had me reach out my hand and pet the buds on the tree, they were just as fuzzy as Honey ever was. It turns out the tree was the perfect pick as a memorial to Honey the Wonder Dog.



Untitled: 2006
I said a while ago I would post a picture of the one painting I've ever done. I have since realized that this is a lie since I have actually done three paintings, this just happens to be the largest and my favorite and the only one I have deemed worthy of framing (and you can see just a bit of the frame on the left hand side since my hands aren't the steadiest in the world). Done in watercolor and ink, the painting was an assignment for a Gender studies class (she wanted us to get creative) and illustrates a passage from Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye.


A promise made

My last night in the Czech Republic was a bit of a stressful one. I was staying in the hotel in Prague with Tom, and had been pretty sick for two days. Tom had a meeting in the Old Town, and originally I was going to go with him, but given how ill I was, we decided it was best I stay in bed. Falling in and out of sleep, I finally woke up enough to look at the clock and realize that Tom should have been back already. In a foreign country, already feeling sick and delirious, it was not a great time to start panicking about the whereabouts of the only other person Iknew within 3,000 miles. However, panic I did, after emailing my Mom and sister and getting the number of the hotel owner who could help me call the police I started to pray (while I was a religious studies major I am not religious myself and I save praying for dire situations). In a feverish state I promised God that if he helped Tom get home safely, I would donate $100 to charity. Twenty minutes later Tom knocked on my hotel room, found me in tears and explained that his meeting had started late and then he had gotten lost. I thanked the Lord and considered it a job well done on his part.

The next day was our flight back to the U.S. and we had a 30 minute connection in Paris (an airport Tom already despised for how difficult it is to navigate). Our connection time got whittled away first as the plane was late to board, then again as the flight was late to depart, then we managed to lose even more time in the air. Since Tom only had a week at home before having to return to the Czech Republic, it was really important that he not loose out on another day because we got stranded in Paris (although on another trip I think I'd rejoice at this opportunity). In the middle of shoving our way onto a shuttle bus, sprinting through the airport, and yelling for people to move out of the way (I was not on my best behavior at this point) I thought it was time to see if God could help us out again. "Hey God, remember me? Well I just wanted to let you know you did a great job last night, and if you help us get home safely, I'll donate another $50 to charity, sound like a plan?" He (or she, I'm not really particular) must have found the terms agreeable, because we showed up at the gate right as they were about to finish boarding, and we squeaked our way in and made it home to our own beds that night.

So why is this all relevant now? I finally made good on my promise to God and found a cause I was very happy to donate too (I tacked on a little extra to make up for it's lateness). Through The Literacy Site you can either purchase goods where a proceed goes to charity, make donations to important causes like illiteracy, hunger, and animal welfare, or even simpler you can just click on the toggle and sponsor money will go to charity. There's so much good that you can do on just this one site so please check it out!


A late rabbit rabbit and belated birthday?

Do you know the superstition where on the first day of the month you're supposed to say "rabbit rabbit" before you say anything else and this will bring you good luck? Well I always forget to do that, but driving home from work yesterday I had the great idea that I could do a post that had "rabbit rabbit" and that would be a similar good luck granting experience. Once I got home though the dog needed attention and plants needed to be put outside and I forgot. Guess I'm not destined to accumulate any extra luck!
While I'm on the subject of things I forget to do... here's a picture of dessert from my wonderful birthday meal a couple days ago. We went to Fore Street in Portland for an amazing dinner and even though I was stuffed I finished with a trio of creme brulees (pink peppercorn, malted chocolate espresso, and vanilla cinnamon) it was fantastic!