Category Archives: Colonial Heights

Food and Flowers

Just as I was starting to lament the end of dogwood blossom and azalea season the roses and irises bloomed. My spring veggies are just about ready and summer plants won’t be far behind.

APRIL

hyacinth

daffodils

sugar snap pea sprout

camellia bush

rhododendron

shade perennial by shed

lavender

dogwood blossoms

snowball bush in bloom.

azaleas

more azaleas!

lily of the valley

MAY

roses

herbs: parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme plus oregano, savory and marjoram)

strawberries

lettuce

radish

violas (edible flowers). spearmint. dumpster dive find compliments of Zoe.

swiss chard

basil. eggplant.

top to bottom: pepper plant. carrots. chives. strawberries. chard.

carrots and chives

pole beans sprouting!

tomatoes

chocolate mint.

the zucchini sprouted!

TO BE CONTINUED…

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Countdown to spring…

Only four more days to go folks and it will be official! This month we’ve enjoyed some beautiful sunny days mixed in with the cold and rain. We’ve made the most of the nice weather. We got a couple of flower beds ready and Highland Methodist Church’s softball team has started practice, which Don is thrilled about.

These pictures are from a walk around our neighborhood earlier this month. Normally Owen rides his tricycle (although he is now the proud new owner of a bike with training wheels, so we’ll keep you posted on that) or rides in the wagon. On this day he decided he wanted to “ride his horse.” It was a gift from Grammie and Owen loves it. This is was the first time he’d decided to take it beyond our yard though.

I love this sweater that was made by Owen’s NiNi. Isn’t she talented?!

Owen was proud of this pinecone he found at the Violet Bank Museum. He wanted to add it to “our pinecone collection.”

We saw a bunch of birds that let us get surprisingly close.

Owen decided to plop himself down for a break in someone’s front yard….

…. so he could “feed” his horse.

How have you been enjoying the sunshine?

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Long time no see….

Owen turned 3. Christmas was wonderful. New Years was fantastic. My friend Becky came from Cali and stayed with us for a couple of weeks. Alaska and Jensen came down from Ohio to spend New Years with us as well. Dane was accept to John Carroll University and will be living and working in Colonial Heights until summer. Don and I went to California with his folks and sister to visit Great Grandpa Mark. Owen had his first trip to Disneyland….

Did I mention that we are having another baby! Due date is July 17. A few more weeks and I’ll be able to post our 20 week ultrasound photo. This time around I’m seeing a midwife and it’s been a fantastic experience.

Now that the holidays, traveling and morning sickness are over I’m going to try to get back into the swing of this blogging thing. Besides, it’s snowing – again. Posting on here is probably a better idea than hibernate until spring.

Here are some pictures of Owen’s first snowman (or snow woman in this case). December 19th. The snow was fun the first time. Now I’m over it.

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Chicken Crazy.

Colonial Heights City Code says we can have up to three chickens. I also see we have to get a (revocable) permit. Not sure how to go about doing that yet. I would just skip the permit and have illegal chickens, but we have a corner lot, not to mention some really nosey folks around. One in particular does her morning walking picking up trash, which is super cool… until you met her. I’ll just call her “Fancy Pants.” It is a guarantee that the second we had hens in our backyard Fancy Pants would call City Council, the Police, and run us out of Colonial Heights on a rail. I don’t think chickens are in her plans for city beautification. Little Rhode Island Reds running around is exactly my idea of city beautification.

26484_slr_1478I spent some time looking at chicken coops on line and craigslist and discovered those suckers are expensive. I’m talking $650-1,500 expensive. I hate to tell the buyers of those coops that the chickens just don’t care. Mostly, a chicken coop just needs to keep the chickens safe. Growing up we used an old honey house as a chicken coop. Over time a Racoon tunneled in. It wasn’t pretty (it was really, really sad actually). The only one left standing was our ridiculously mean rooster.

There are some cute chicken coops, that I’m sure anyone with a high school wood shop carpentry skill level could make. I mean, it’s a box. Even if it has shingles and looks like a cottage, it’s still a box. Unfortunately, I can barely put prefab Ikea furniture together. Backyardchickens.com has a really inspiring photo gallery. A girl can dream right? My husband told me I was “chicken crazy.”  He’s probably right. This as been going on for about six months.

My Uncle Robin and Aunt Susan had city chickens when they lived in Monrovia, Ca just twenty miles outside of LA. They converted a greenhouse/shed the previous owner had and my grandfather built the run. I wish my grandfather was closer. I wouldn’t be typing this up, I would be posting pictures of a chicken coop. Aunt Susan suggested a booklet that Lehman’s carries. Side Note: Lehman’s is the coolest hardware store on the planet. If you ever find yourself in Dalton, Ohio go there. You’ll thank me.

Anyway, I didn’t see the booklet that she was talking about, but I did find The Chicken Tractor by Sue and Richard Merriam. Sue also has a great website on Organic Gardening and Homesteading if you are interested. You can order the book directly through her website for only $12.95. Her book gives you the plans and building materials list to make the cute little coop on the cover. And if you are a chicken raising novice (I could use a refresher course), she has lots of other information in there as well. DIY projects are not only much cheaper, but way more gratifying. A friends dad built his entire house, attached greenhouse and barn from salvaged and reclaimed wood. I’m hoping he can help me get my hands on the materials this winter.

tractor21A chicken tractor is a bottomless, mobile coop. You can move it around your garden bed or yard and the chickens free range, eating your weed seeds and dropping there magical fertilizer. It will allow our chickens to be free range, which is what gives them those yummy dark yellow yolks (loaded with vitamin A, beta carotene, omega 3 fatty acids, lower in cholesterol and taste like nothing you’ve ever bought at the grocery store), while still protecting them from neighborhood strays.

Why chickens? I think the country girl and city girl in me are in conflict with one another. I like our manageable city plot, walkability, parks, friendly community and neighborhood kids running around our front yard after school. I also want to give Owen a taste of my childhood. While I can’t give him sheep and feeder calves, I can give him homegrown vegetables and chickens (and a rabbit. That’s a another story). That and I really want the manure. I’m obsessed with my compost pile and chicken manure is a much desired ingredient (this is actually where Mr. Rabbit comes into play as well). I actually paid a lady $.10 a pound for manure. Country people think that doing such a thing is ludicrous. Oh the things we take for granted. Eggs are a kind of bonus. A really tasty bonus.

I also recommend The City Chicken sight if you are a city slicker who is interested in have feathered friends of your own. Imagine, fresh eggs right in your own back yard. Not to mention the fact that chickens are more entertaining than television.

To Be Continued…

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A Tale of Two Costumes.

Still without a costume the day before Halloween I decided Owen was going to be a robot. We’d just spent Friday morning at a playdate and my friend Melissa had made a robot body out of a box and duct tape for her kids to play with. Owen thought it was really exciting. At home I didn’t have duct tape, but I did have tin foil. This is what I came up with…
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… It wasn’t fantastic, but it was good enough. Owen loved the robot body…

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…he refused to wear the robot head. We even tried scaring him.

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Which was fun, but didn’t result in Owen wearing the robot head.

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Don and I thought wrapping Owen’s bike helmet in foil was a good compromise. Owen disagreed.

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I ran to the store and bought face paint…

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and glued felt to his clothes and stuck gym socks to the side of his head…

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…and he was a puppy. A darn cute one too!

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Colonial Heights has a fantastic community Halloween event at the park. We went there first and played games and looked at all of the cute costumes, got candy and ate popcorn.

The weather was perfect.

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The volunteers let Owen cheat at bowling…

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…and at football.

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This is the closest I got to being dressed up.

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Joe was the cutest skunk on the planet!

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Drew and Shea dressed up as each other.

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This lady let stand close and throw the ball five times.

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The park filled up pretty quick and we moved on to Owen’s first time Trick-or-Treating. He got over being shy around strangers really quick. Ha! And he was good about saying “thank you” so folks could hear him (he usually whispers it when he doesn’t know someone). There was only one house he found too spooky to walk up to so they brought the candy out to him. He took it — suspiciously.

After on block of candy collecting we hung out with some friends and watched the kids coming up to their house. This was Owen’s favorite part of the night. He gave the other kids candy out of his bag and made commentary on the costumes. My personal favorite was, “That guy Crazy!”

How was your Halloween?

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These are the people in my neighborhood…

in my neighborhood. In my neigh-bor-hood, Oh! These are the people in my neighborhood. The people that you meet when your walking down the street….

This ended up being a big project. Thanks Gordon!!

This ended up being a big project. Thanks Gordon!!

This week Gordon fixed our clothes line and the screen door to our side porch. His wife Jane gave Owen some cute books that her grandkids had outgrown. They are so wonderful! They gave us the warmest reception when we moved in (I don’t think I ever posted about the bird house they gave us). Great neighbors are priceless. I’m very grateful for them.

Speaking of neighbors, Tuesday was the annual “Celebrating Safe Communities Night.” The event went well and I met more folks in our area. Aren’t small towns great?!

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It pays to support small business.

Colonial Heights, VA

Colonial Heights, VA

My super cool art teacher friend Beth informed me a month or so ago that the trim throughout the downstairs portion of our house was actually picture rail. Original picture rail! No need to poke holes in that plaster. No sir. I was really excited.

I stopped by our local Benjamin Moore Paint store to see Gary, the paint guy on Friday. He also does custom framing out of his shop. Gary gave was such a huge help when we were painting our living room and dinning room I wanted to see if he by chance had picture rail hooks before I stopped at Lowes or ordered them online.

Sure enough he had  six packs of 3 left. They were in faded, old packages and had probably been hanging there for ages. He said they were hard to find as they are discontinued. Newer homes just don’t have that kind of detail. They were just $1.25 a pack. I said I’d take them all and as I had my pen poised to write the total in my check book registry he said, “Nope. Just take them. A gift from me to your family for all your business here.”

I would’ve hugged him if he hadn’t been on the other side of the counter. Now would Lowe’s or Walmart have done such a thing?! Duh, what a ridiculous thought. Colonial Heights doesn’t have too many Mom-and-Pops left.  I asked our real estate agent where the local hardware store was and she said they didn’t have one anymore. What kind of small town doesn’t have a local hardware store?! Ice cream shop (you know those little seasonal dairy stands)? Nope. Gone. Replaced by Dairy Queen. The Boulevard looks like “everywhere USA” with chains far as the eye can see.

Pickwick Ave.

Pickwick Ave.

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Oh the possibilities.

There’s a little strip of shops off the main drag (Pickwick Ave) that has real potential. In fact it is the one and only quaint, redemable plot of retail/business in Colonial Heights. And it’s nestled smack dab in the middle of a residential area with sidewalks. Folks could walk there. Imagine that! There is one “For Rent” sign where an Antique Shop went under. I’m not holding my breath that it turns into a little used book store/coffee shop anytime soon …Or a co-op grocery store… a mini Ellwood Thompsons… a cute little soda shop… oh the possibilities. It could be an awesome little nook.

Be a conscious consumer. Please support your small business owners. Our communities depend on it. Just imagine what your neighborhood would be like without them.

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