Lexington Virginia – A short business trip

Not very long ago I had to go to Lexington, Virginia for a short business trip (on-site work) and I managed to get out and take a short walk the one night I stayed in town.

Downtown Lexington

Downtown Lexington

I lived in Lexington for a short time (less than a year) just over ten years ago. It’s a really cute little town with a lot of interesting architecture. I did not get around to touring the neighborhoods- where there are many wonderful old homes- but I take a walk around the downtown area while it was lightly raining.

Detail Bricks

Detail Bricks

The sidewalks are paved with these wonderful bricks that (I think I remember) were made locally. The designs are supposed to help with traction when it gets icy.

Stonewall Jackson House

Stonewall Jackson House

The reason I lived in Lexington was that I worked here- at the Stonewall Jackson House. It has since been absorbed into the VMI museum system. It was closed for the day when I came by, but they have a wonderful garden in the back.

Presbyterian Church

Presbyterian Church

The Presbyterian Church in downtown is an imposing structure. The sanctuary actually burned in 2000- if I remember rightly, it started from workers restoring the church using heat guns to strip paint. Old wood + too much heat = fire.

Gate at Episcopal Church

Gate at Episcopal Church

I made a large circle around the downtown (there aren’t that many streets) and most of the shops close around 5 PM. At the other end of the downtown area, both VMI and Washington and Lee University are right next to each other. This episcopal church is right at the edge of the W&L campus.

Giant Viburnum

Giant Viburnum

I’m much more aware of landscapes now, and I took note of this giant viburnum outside the church. It was huge and had these beautiful clusters of bright seeds.

Liriope

Liriope

Further down, on the W&L campus, I found these Liriope with giant flowers. It really stood out to me, I’d love to try and find the variety.

Detail Liriope

Detail Liriope

The Washington and Lee campus is very traditional looking, and has a great lawn. I saw many critters- rabbits and squirrels and birds- everywhere.

Washington and Lee Campus

Washington and Lee Campus

Lee Chapel and museum has some wonderful collections.

Lee Chapel

Lee Chapel

Outside the museum entrance is the marker for Traveller, Lee’s horse during the Civil War. Someone left him an apple.

Apple for Traveller

Apple for Traveller

People are serious about the civil war here. I stayed at the Sheridian Livery Restaurant and Inn, and had a wonderful experience. I recommend both – and not just because the owners were sweet enough to make me hot chocolate in the evening when I asked for it. I drove back around midday, stopping at the scenic views on 64 while passing over the blue ridge mountains.

Selfie at Scenic View

Selfie at Scenic View

I actually packed myself a picnic lunch, to eat at these stops. I never get tired of the Blue Ridge mountains. (Click on the picture for the full panorama).

Scenic View Blue Ridge

If you are ever traveling through western Virginia, I highly recommend a stop in Lexington.

A Very Birdy Christmas

Calusa Wildlife Refuge

This Christmas was a very birdy Christmas.  I saw many many birds, both at my house, and in California.

As gifts, I received a couple of nice birdfeeders and seed, which have added to my (and the cats) viewing pleasure.  I noticed when we first moved in that the owners had left a little platform outside the family room window, and a container full of birdseed.  I put some out and was astonished to see how many different little birds were coming to visit.

Cats Bird Watching

Cats Bird Watching

When my parents came to visit, I think we counted 11 different species in one short time period.  So for Christmas, I asked for more bird-feeding related items so that I could have even more little visitors.  I put it out…and they come!

Chickadee at Feeder

Chickadee at Feeder

We have a loveseat in the “sky room” and sitting very comfortable I have a great view of this new feeder.  I just sat with my camera and waited and recorded all sorts of activities.  A little later, I plan on putting out a new bird house I received, and maybe find a few more little feeders.

In California, I saw thousands of birds at the Colusa Wildlife Refuge just north of Sacramento.

Calusa Wildlife Refuge

Calusa Wildlife Refuge

It was a beautiful day and the scenery was just gorgeous.  There was an area that you drive around, and also a short walking path.  We drove first, and saw…

Great White Heron

Great White Heron

…a very large Egret….

Green Herons

Green Herons

…a whole bunch of green herons nesting by a river…

Green Herons Sleeping

Green Herons Sleeping

Flock of Snow Geese Flying

Flock of Snow Geese Flying

…a flock of snow geese flying in…

So many Snow Geese

So many Snow Geese

…so many snow geese…thousands of them winter here…

Detail Snow Geese Flock

Detail Snow Geese Flock

Red Tailed Hawk Keeping Watch

Red Tailed Hawk Keeping Watch

…and a red tailed hawk making sure no one intrudes.

We then took the short (maybe a mile total?) nature trail, and saw more geese flying in…

Flock of Geese Flying at Calusa Wildlife Refuge

Flock of Geese Flying at Calusa Wildlife Refuge

…a bunch of vultures hanging out…

Vultures

Vultures

…and we saw a Great Horned Owl resting in a tree.  I did not get a good picture of the owl, as he was in the shade and a little too far away for my camera.  Someone in the parking lot tipped us off that there was an owl sighting, which was very cool.  There were not that many people there, and we got there fairly early in the morning (for vacation time), so it was nice and relaxing and pleasant.  I highly recommend visiting!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cloth Pencil Case with Ribbon Tie

Fill with pencils

This Christmas I was lucky enough to spend with my sister and her new extended family in California!  When she got married this last Spring, she gained 7 siblings and countless cousins.  Mr. Lucky and I count ourselves as part of the family now too, and  invited ourselves to be included in this year’s festivities. With so many family members, they have a tradition of doing secret santa for Christmas, and so this year we got in on that too.  :)  I won’t say who I pulled, but she asked for anything arts and crafts related- my specialty!  So I took my time and raided my own stash of materials, as well as buying some new supplies at Micheal’s.  There was one thing I wanted to make rather than buy though, a pencil case.  So here is a short tutorial on how I made this simple, ribbon tied pencil case!

Turn right side out

First, I found two fabrics I wanted to use- both were scraps that I’ve had from other projects I’ve made.  The outer fabric measured approximately 14″ wide by 24″ long.  The inner fabric measured about 12″ wide and 23″ long.  You can make your own bigger or smaller, just make sure to give yourself plenty of room to fold over and make nice edges.

Fabric for Pencil Case

Fabric for Pencil Case

You can see in this picture the fabric laid out with the good sides facing away from each other.  I’ve folded over the bottom edge twice and pinned it.  Sew on the other side so that the “good” side is facing out when finished.

Next, I slit a very small hole at the “top” of the fabric, where I wanted to have the ribbon come out.  I folded over the fabric so I could see where I wanted the ribbon to be since I wanted it on the outside of the case.  Sew the ribbon to the fabric.  And make sure you have plenty of ribbon to wrap around the entire case at least once.

Sew ribbon to fabric

Sew ribbon to fabric

Here’s a picture of the back so you can see where I just doubled over the ribbon, and sewed it. I went over it many times in the hopes that it will never come out.

Backside of sewn ribbon

Backside of sewn ribbon

Fold over the top twice, to make a nice edge, and sew along the edge.

Fold over fabric and sew

Fold over fabric and sew

And here you can see that the ribbon is on the outside of the flap.

Ribbon on outside of flap

Ribbon on outside of flap

Now, fold over and pin both edges.  Sew at least as far down as the flap is going to be.

Fold over sides and sew

Fold over sides and sew

Fold the pencil case the opposite way of how you want it to go, and sew the two edges.  To not have the flap fold over like mine does, sew the sides on the outside edge of where the flap is.

Fold fabric wrong side out, sew sides

Fold fabric wrong side out, sew sides

Turn inside out, and you have a pencil case! Or really, any kind of case.  You could use this for travel, for makeup or accessories.

Pencil Case with Ribbon Tie

Pencil Case with Ribbon Tie

And for her gift, I filled it with colored pencils.

Fill with pencils

Fabric case filled with pencils

And here it is all tied up.

Tied cloth pencil case

Tied cloth pencil case

I’d like to thank Peanut for helping me with this project, she was there with me every step of the way…

Peanut Helping

Peanut Helping

Hope you had a Merry Christmas! and Have a great New Year!

Holiday Lights at Lewis Ginter

Blue Trees

Growing up, one of our family activities this time of year was to ride around and look at Christmas lights.  Most of the time we would just drive through neighborhoods without any plan, just trying to find nice displays.  Occasionally we would go to a drive-thru park that had been set up with all sorts of lights.  Once or twice, we made the trek to Longwood Gardens to see their fantastic display (and it is AMAZING).  This year, as my parents were visiting for Thanksgiving in our new home, I thought we could go to nearby Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens for their light display.  I had no idea what to expect, but it was quite nice!

Garden Lights

Garden Lights

We actually arrive before the sunset at 5 PM, and am so glad we did because we found a great parking spot and not much of a crowd.  We bought our tickets with no line to wait in, and immediately set out.  We saw some interior decorations first, so when we came out the sun had set and we were starting to see the show.

Reflections of Trees

Reflections of Trees

You walk around the entire park to view the lights, but it’s not very big so it wasn’t too bad in the chilly weather.

View of the Conservatory

View of the Conservatory

I’m sure that little kids especially would find the whole place quite magical.  There were places that were absolutely gorgeous.  I highly recommend it!

Blue Trees

Blue Trees

I also recommend going as early in the evening as you can, because by the time we left people were streaming into the building and parking looked like a nightmare (at 6 PM).  So if you are in or around the Richmond area, and you love looking at Christmas lights, go!