Thursday, April 30, 2015

Zoo Membership

I absolutely love going to the zoo.  Riverbanks Zoo and Gardens in Columbia, SC is my favorite.  I’ve been going there since I was a little kid, and every year Nick and I go on or near my birthday.  The zoo is one of my happy places.

Last year we decided to become members.  We bought a fairly low-level membership since it’s just the two of us.  Basically our membership pass allows us both as many regular visits as we’d like, one visit to the holiday lights, access to any members only events, and six guest passes.  It also gives us a discount (usually half off) if we choose to visit other zoos.  It’s good for one year. 
We didn’t go as much as we’d hoped to last year since we had a lot of unusual things going on, but we did go for one Members Night Out event, and we were able to use one of our guest passes when my friend Crystal went with me. 
After much discussion we decided to renew our membership at the same level when it expired earlier this month.  We anticipate being able to go a few more times this year, and we really enjoyed the Members Night Out.   
I think it will be good since we both love the zoo so much, and it’s a great excuse to go since we don’t want to waste our visits.
So what about you?  Do you enjoy visiting the zoo?  Would you sign up for a zoo membership?

Wednesday, April 29, 2015


I have an ever-evolving relationship with yard work. As a child, I loved raking leaves. I think this was due in large part to my dad’s genius way of capitalizing on child labor. As a teenager and into my late 20s I hated yard work. I couldn’t understand why people would waste their hard-earned money, and their time, working in the yard. Then we bought our house and had a little yard of our very own.

That’s when my attitude toward yard work began to change. The first spring and summer we were here, I didn’t really do anything with the yard. Nick mostly kept up with cutting the grass. I made a few half-hearted attempts to maintain the flowerbeds that we here when we bought the house, but I’m pretty sure I did more harm than good.

The following year, Nick’s grandmother (GrandMommy) got involved. I think she pitied our poor yard. GrandMommy has a knack for growing things, and a very practical approach to yard work. If she’d even hinted at all of the things we’d eventually be doing in yard back then I’d probably have been tempted to go along with Nick’s idea of concreting everything and calling it a day. Fortunately she didn’t, and we started slow.

The first year GrandMommy got me set up with my first ever herb garden. I think that was brilliant on her part. It was small, and meant that one small part of the yard became something I enjoyed and actually wanted to take care of. It also helped that most of the herbs seemed very easy to grow, and that I love to cook.

After that, we began adding something else in every year. Some years we’ve added a few things. It seems to be a very practical approach; start small, learn as you go, and don’t start so many new things at once that you can’t manage them. We’ve cleaned up and added flower beds, as well as raised beds for growing vegetables. And we’re slowly taking out things that just don’t work for us

With GrandMommy’s help, I’m learning which flowers I like, and how to properly care for them. I find myself enjoying the yard and being proud of how it looks. I’ve come to enjoy the flowers, and now I think the effort involved in growing them is absolutely worth it. I’ve finally had the experience of walking into the backyard and picking fresh vegetables to make for dinner.

It’s still a little early in the season for quite a few things here, but there’s still plenty of color and beauty right now. The azaleas and some of the peonies are blooming. Some of the basil and tomato plants are in the raised beds (with more waiting to be planted), and it’s almost time to plant the squash and zucchini seeds. I’m hoping to do that this weekend.

The biggest change in the yard this year, though, is how much I want to be in it. I want to plant things and fill the yard with colorful flowers. I find myself wanting to plant things and pull weeds when I come home from work. In previous summers, my "reward" for cutting the grass was getting to go inside, the promise to myself that once it was done I didn’t have to do more yard work for a while. This year, even though cutting the grass is hard and sweaty work, I don’t mind it as much. And my "reward" for getting that job done? Planting flowers, pulling weeds, potting little flower arrangements for the porch. I never thought I’d feel that way.

The yard actually wasn’t my original plan for my Y post, but I’ve been spending so much time in lately that it just seemed like the perfect post. And I’m ridiculously pleased with the little potted arrangements on the porch. I love the colors of the pots and the color combinations of the flowers. This is the first time I’ve potted arrangements myself, and I have to say I’m very pleased with the outcome.

So what about you? Do you enjoy working in the yard? Do you have very many things in bloom right now?

Tuesday, April 28, 2015


I think it’s probably safe to say that X is one of the least looked forward to letters during the A to Z Challenge. Or is it just me? Were any of you looking forward to X? I certainly wasn’t.

This isn’t my first go round with the A to Z Challenge. 2012 is the only year I’ve actually completed the challenge thus far (though I have to say this year is looking promising at this point), so it’s the only time I’ve made it to X. I actually kind of liked my X post that year, and it seemed to be fairly well received, so I thought I’d re-visit the topic this year.

I have to say that I haven’t been as diligent about visiting as many different blogs lately as I have been before, but most of the X-rated things from before still stand for me.

Too much personal information – yes, we’re all sharing a lot about ourselves with a lot of people, but for me there are limits. 

Language – yes, there are times when only a four letter word will do, and I’m no stranger to them, but when the post has more words I wouldn’t be comfortable using in front of my mom or my boss, I’m not inclined to keep reading.

Tone – this is a much more subtle one, but if a blog’s main intent seems to be to educate the illiterate masses (i.e. those of us who aren’t the author of said blog), or to preach a religious doctrine, or to promote a political ideal I tend not to come back.

The only things I can really add this year are blogs that are crammed full of affiliate links. The ones that sort of pose as reviews or just general blogs, but then go on to say how you can’t possibly live without this life-changing dinglehopper (points if you got the reference to The Little Mermaid!). It has improved their life in every way imaginable, and here’s the affiliate link so you can buy your very own with them receiving a small fee, but of course they’d never recommend it just for that reason.

So what is it that makes a blog X-rated for you? What has you clicking the X in the corner to make your exit as quickly as possible?

Monday, April 27, 2015

Welcome Cookie & Dot

We’re foster parents again. It’s only short term, while the cat room at the no-kill shelter is being renovated. There’s a lot of work being done, so all of the kitties had to move out for it, which means Cookie and Dot are our house guests for the next week or so.

Dot is very nervous and has decided to take up residence underneath the armoire for the time being. We’re sure she’ll be fine once she’s had a little more time to adjust and get used to being in a new place. And I’ll share a picture as soon as she’s ready for her photo shoot.

Cookie is very friendly and outgoing. She seems perfectly happy to be here, and doesn’t seem to be the least bit concerned about being in a new place. She has been exploring their room and looking out the window. Hopefully Dot will follow her example soon.

We’re looking forward to spending the next week with these lovely ladies and pampering them. 

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Very Cute!

I ended up changing my "day off" during this week of the A to Z Challenge from Sunday to Saturday. We were having some internet issues last night. Too bad it’s too late in the challenge for a post about AT&T, but at least I do have some pictures of very cute fur kids for you. At least they’re a good way to end the weekend.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Unbelievably Beautiful

This wasn’t my original plan for my U post, but a few friends posted this song on Facebook, and I think it’s too beautiful not to share. I’ve always loved the song "Stand by Me", and I think Tracy Chapman has a gorgeous voice.

It’s been a long week, so why not end it with something unbelievably beautiful.

So what about you? Are you a fan of Tracy Chapman? Do you like the song?

Thursday, April 23, 2015


Yes, I’m aware that it’s April, and that Thanksgiving is a long way off. I have no desire to speed things up, but Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, and it just doesn’t get enough love, so I thought I’d make it my T post.

I absolutely love Thanksgiving. I think it’s really the perfect holiday. I love to cook, and I love spending time with family and friends, especially when I can cook for them. I also love the fact that Thanksgiving seems to come with no expectations, and it manages to bring out the best in people.

Thanksgiving feels magic. It’s at the beginning of the holiday season, when everyone still feels festive and cheerful. It’s a time to think about what’s good in our lives, and to be thankful for those things. It also seems to be a time when everyone is very conscious of including others, to invite people who may need a place to go to come share a meal and companionship.

Because of Nick’s crazy work schedule we sometimes have to get a little creative in celebrating Thanksgiving. We very rarely have our celebration on Thanksgiving Day, but we still manage to find a day to invite family and friends over for a Thanksgiving Dinner, even if it happens to be in March. It’s the people we spend it with who really matter. And it’s easier to send leftovers home with people at a different time of the year when they’re not already inundated with that kind of food. 

So what about you? Is Thanksgiving one of your favorite holidays? How do you celebrate it?