Last spring my wife surprised me with an early evening airplane ride over Charlottesville. We flew over Carter Mountain where the apple trees were in bloom, past Jefferson Vineyards and Monticello, and then over to Pippin Hill and Bundoran Farm. It was amazing! All this snow is making me wish for spring again.
One year ago we adopted Sid! He was being fostered locally, but originally came from a small shelter in Pulaski County. Hence, his formal name, Sidney Pulaski Radifera. Other than some very intense guarding instincts which we have yet to manage, he has been a great addition to our family. The girls adore him and he is a loyal, playful pup. Now if we could just get him to let people into the house we’d be all set!
This past Christmas we spent some time in NJ with my in-laws. As we were admiring the beautiful Christmas tree, my father-in-law grinned and asked if we liked the okra icicles. I had noticed them but had no idea they were actually made from dried okra. My in-laws, amazingly resourceful and crafty, actually grew the okra, dried them, painted them and rolled them in glitter. I didn’t get a photo of the entire tree but there were about a dozen “okra icicles” and it looked really beautiful. So for you crafty gardeners out there, here is a project for you!
This fall has been particularly busy, both professionally and personally. Keeping my blog updated has unfortunately been put on the back burner. So if you’ve come looking to see what I’ve been up to, I apologize! Now that the busy season is starting to quiet down I am hoping to get the blog up and running again. If you are on Facebook, you may want to check here for some images of my most recent work. Thanks so much for visiting my blog!
Last weekend my wife surprised me with a flight over Charlottesville and the surrounding area. Here is one I really love with a great view of the apple blossoms at Carter Mountain Orchard.
In January my family adopted a puppy who had been rescued from a small shelter in a rural part of Virginia. He came with the name Sid, which we loved, and it suits him perfectly. He’s equal parts adorable and really, really naughty, in a puppy kind of way. We’re all still learning how to handle his endless energy, but also grateful for it. He has helped us heal from the loss of our first dog, Dez, who died from cancer last August. Here are a few photos of our boy Sid.
My image of the moon shining on Lake Cobbosseecontee in Winthrop, Maine was featured on the Maine Magazine Facebook page in October. My father-in-law has been vacationing on this lake each most summers for over 60 years!
One of my favorite shots I took of the Eiffel Tower during our trip to Paris in October.
My daughter Willa goes to a wonderful home-based Waldorf preschool in Batesville, VA called The Rose Garden. Sharifa Oppenheimer, owner and teacher, is an amazing source of knowledge and a constant inspiration to our family. We feel very lucky that both of our daughters have had a nature and play based preschool experience. Here are some photos from The Rose Garden field trip to Henley’s orchard for some apple picking.
Last spring Robert was working in DC for much of Eden’s spring break. Feeling guilty that not only were we unable to go away for a fun trip, but also that Robert was going to be super busy, we decided we needed a change of scenery for a day before he left. Part of the great thing about living in Central Virginia is that there are so many things to do. In the end we decided on a simple day of feeding the birds at Gypsy Hill Park in Staunton. If you have young kids, and you have never been…go! Go this weekend. Our kids (ages 8 and 4) could have stayed all day feeding the ducks, geese and the huge carp in the pond.
After lunch in town we headed over to the Camera Heritage Museum. If you are a photographer, amateur or professional, this place is a must see. Robert had a great time talking to David Schwartz, the owner of the museum, and an amazing source of knowledge. When Willa put herself to sleep in the corner we knew it was time to go.
It’s going to be another gorgeous weekend folks. If you are looking for something fun to do with your little ones, head over the mountain to Staunton. It’s an inexpensive trip and the kids will amuse themselves for hours.
I’m excited to have collaborated with my wife, Lauren, on a blog post about a short trip we took locally last year!
Last April my oldest daughter had a week off for spring break. Knowing that we couldn’t stray too far because of Robert’s work schedule, I started thinking about what we could do locally, but still feel like we were able to get away. It just so happened that the wonderful Tulip Festival hosted by EcoTulips in Brightwood, VA was going to be kicking things off right about the same time. Last year, the festival partnered with Brightwood Vineyard and Farm, which happens to have a small cabin on their property that they use as a bed and breakfast. It was everything I was looking for in a getaway…nearby (about a 45 minute drive), rustic, quiet, and a huge perk was that our kids could help out with some of the farm chores. Our 24 hour vacation was coming together; first a stop at the Tulip Farm and then a night at the Brightwood Farm cabin. What I hadn’t planned on were the unexpected and fun stops along the way.
If you’ve never been to Jeroen and Kerrian Koeman’s tulip festival you need to mark your calendars now. It is truly a site to behold (http://www.organictulipfestival.com). The Koemans own EcoTulips, the only organic tulip bulb source in the USA. Jeroen, affectionately known as the Tulip Man, hails directly from Holland where his family has been in the tulip business for generations.
After we left the tulips we headed down the road to Brightwood Vineyard and Farm (http://www.brightwoodvineyardandfarm.com) owned by Susan and Dean Vidal. Susan met us at the main house and guided us down the driveway to the cabin. Let me tell you, the cabin, the setting and the accommodations, completely exceeded my expectations. Though it is very small (I like to say cozy), it is beautiful and the attention to detail is amazing. Eden immediately found her way to her single bed loft, and our youngest, who was still two at the time, fit perfectly in her portable crib in the corner of the bedroom. We hadn’t even set down our bags yet and already I was scheming about when I could come back with just Robert…though Eden would never forgive us for not taking her too.
Once we were settled, we met up with Susan again, who let Eden help her gather some eggs. Willa tried too but the concept of setting them down gently was lost on her…ooops.
It was time to start thinking about dinner and while there are dining possibilities in Culpeper and a few on Rte 29, I didn’t want to wander too far and take time away from exploring the property at Brightwood Farm. Then I remembered that Jeroen (the Tulip Man) had mentioned that the Brightwood General Store sold good pizza. Perfect, we’ll buy a pizza and bring it back to the cabin where we’ll sit out on the front deck and listen to the Robinson River pass us by.
Well, that was a good plan until we actually pulled up to the place. I knew when I walked in and heard Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” playing, this was no ordinary general store. I was smitten, in love, in awe…with a general store. Usually words like “quaint” and “charming” are used to describe a country general store. The Brightwood General Store is totally rock ‘n’ roll, in a charming, quaint kind of way of course. The owner, Dave, greeted us with a big, wide grin and began chatting up Robert, who as part Jamaican and part Malagasy, stands out a bit in these parts. They hit it off immediately, and instead of ordering a pizza to go, we stayed and ate at the store. Dave knew every person who walked through the door and introduced us like we were like his special guests, although I suspect this is just part of his charm. On weekends there’s live music and there is even a sizeable outdoor area you can rent for events/parties. Noticing the sun was starting to fade we reluctantly said goodbye to Dave and the wonderfully quirky Brightwood General Store and headed back to the cabin.
On our way back to the cabin I yelled “STOP THE CAR!”. Poor Robert, I think he thought we had hit something. It was the amazing view (see photos below). Sunset + mountains + horses= me exploding with giddiness. I had to get out and take it all in.
The next morning, Gretchen, the farm intern, delivered a basket full of goodies for breakfast. There was homemade elderberry jam, cheese, homemade bread, fresh juice, coffee and fresh eggs of course. We filled our bellies and then met Gretchen at the main house to begin our morning of farm chores.
Eden was so excited. She fed the sheep, the goats, the donkeys and the ducks. She collected duck eggs and even helped clean up the donkey poop from the barn. What more could a seven year old nature girl want than to scoop donkey poop? It was the highlight of her day (I am serious).
This trip was perfection. I knew we would have a good time, but I hadn’t anticipated that we would all have a truly great time. We accomplished what we set out to do…we had a 24 hour adventure that didn’t break the bank, gave us a change of scenery in an amazing setting and the girls got to have some new experiences. Like scoop donkey poop, the highlight of the trip according to our wannabe farm-girl, Eden.
Hmmm….where to next?
Remember the Baby Groucho maternity shots I did of my friend Alice a while back? Baby Groucho turned out to be a Grouchette. Welcome Elinor Grace!
Last weekend my 8 year old daughter had a few friends from school over for some Valentine’s Day cookie decorating. Our February has been pretty hectic so we ordered cookie kits from Kelly Trout of One Creative Cookie. If you haven’t had one of Kelly’s cookies, you are seriously missing out. The kits came with unfrosted cookies, frosting in various colors and sprinkles. The girls had a blast and created concoctions we could not have anticipated. For snacks we gave the girls heart shaped rice crispy treats and pretzels. Well, it turns out nothing was off limits when it came to cookie decorating and before we knew it they were adding their snacks to their cookies. Even our three year old found her own method, which was frost the cookie, lick off the frosting, and repeat. Our only mistake was not ordering an extra kit so Lauren and I could enjoy the cookies as well. They are so good our own kids aren’t willing to share. www.onecreativecookie.com …check it out for your next event.
Check out my interview with Ed Sykes from NBC 29 Charlottesville. It was very cool to meet him. I received over 100 pictures. Can’t wait to put my project together!
Many thanks to Sherry Taylor of 95.1 for taking the time to talk to me about the Jump for Team Talia event this Sunday at Explorations Play Studio.
Here’s my PSA for our Jump For Team Talia fundraiser. Please watch it until the very end. It runs about 5 minutes.
Thanks so much.
Here’s my interview with Amy Vigness-Eastlack of SuzySaid Charlottesville . I said ummm a few too many times but all in all I think it turned out great. Thanks to Michael Bisceglia for making me sound good. Also want to recognize Nicole Root of Explorations Play Studio. Nicole, Talia’s father, and I have been friends since we were 14 years old. To have this opportunity to work together for an old friend is really awesome.
Click here to listen: SuzySaid Podcast