A Little Garden Therapy

Lately, I’ve been battling more anxiety than usual. It’s typical that my anxiety goes up and down, yet it always seems like a surprise when it comes back. I know why it’s been worse, there’s been some stressful situations as of late, but no time to sit down and write about it, which I know I need. In fact, today isn’t the day to discuss panic either… Today, I want to talk about some beautiful gardens, and how a little nature, beauty and family time can wipe the blues and nerves a way.

harvest

Saturday was Husband’s 30th birthday. We did a lot to celebrate his big day, and it all began at Cheekwood Botanical Gardens. We try to visit Cheekwood at least a few times a year. Fall is one of the best times to visit because it is stunning! The leaves are changing and Chrysanthemums of every color are planted everywhere! There is also a “Cheekwood Harvest” throughout the month of October.

bridge

The Harvest includes family ‘art’-tivities, live music, storytime, garden tours, museum tours, a pumpkin patch and a lot of locally made scarecrows. My original plan was to arrive early, and hit every single activity, as well as a reserved lunch in the Pineapple room restaurant. Bbuuuttttt as my good plans go lately, it was an epic fail. Between all of us being sick, trying to get sleep, a late Birthday breakfast of bagels and everything else that comes with a baby, we didn’t get to Cheekwood until lunch time. I wasn’t feeling very calm or peaceful when we finally arrived. I felt like Husband’s Birthday plans were very quickly falling apart. And, because I was already down, it just made me feel like a failure.

luna and dad

 

Something happened when I entered the gardens. Something changed. I stepped into the sunlight and felt it warm my skin. The scent of a myriad of flowers and herbs filled the air. I couldn’t help, but dance a little to the live music wafting through the gardens. I looked at Husband, looked at Luna, looked around at the other families enjoying the beautiful Saturday and began to feel grateful. Happy and grateful. Nature does that to me sometimes. I don’t know if it’s the fresh air, the vitamin D or the walking, but with every step I took I felt more and more like myself. The more we toured the more I noticed my beautiful family and the less I noticed that nasty panic monster. Sometimes a sunny day with the people I love just washes the anxiety away. Even if it’s temporary, it’s lovely.

my outfit

We had a great day at Cheekwood. Everything we’ve previously done seems brand new now that we can experience it with Luna. We let her play on the pumpkins in the patch, which she drummed on to her hearts content.  We walked around the scarecrows and tried to guess which each one was before reading the descriptions. Most were easy (especially the 4 Olaf’s), others were a little harder to decipher.

scarecrow
Look at dat wittle baby scarecrow????
Harry Potter
Clearly, one of my favs

pumpkin patch

The day just kept getting cuter. Luna danced her little booty off to some live bluegrass in the herb garden. She also had her second art lesson. She “learned” to use tissue paper to stain paper, glue and do some more water color. Although, she was much more interested in eating her art than actually making it…

dancing luna's art

Cheekwood was a great start to Husband’s 30th Birthday celebration and a therapeutic trip for me. I think we will be back soon.

me and luna

Cheers!

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Giant Bugs That Don’t Terrify Me

summertime

We spent our Saturday at Cheekwood Art & Gardens. It was our first visit in a year. We love Cheekwood and I CANNOT believe it’s been an entire year since we went to “Light. This summer’s trip instantly beat out last years because this trip included Luna. My in-laws, Husband, myself and Luna all spent the warm summer afternoon walking around the gardens, the mansion and the really cool sculptures.

This little girl loved playing in the bamboo.
This little girl loved playing in the bamboo.

The most prominent part of Cheekwood this summer is the giant bug sculptures exhibit. There are huge wooden bugs scattered throughout the grounds, all made of wood and some our even large enough to explore. There is a beehive, a treehouse and an enormous butterfly that everyone is actually allowed to touch, climb, swing and slide down. And, by everyone, I mean adults too.

davidrogers

 

spider

We pushed the stroller around, but only to carry our bags, water and camera because Luna wanted to be carried around so she could look at the world. It was a hot Saturday, but luckily we found lots of shade to sit and relax. Luna even got to dip her feet in one of the water gardens.

water

Besides the giant wooden bugs there was also a crazy stick house created by Patrick Dougherty. The house was created on the property and is made of all sticks and twigs tangled together.

patrick

Thank God there is a mansion in the middle of the gardens to offer some relief from the 93 degree weather. The Cheekwood mansion is always lovely by itself, but it also holds different art exhibits throughout the year. It’s currently hosting Andy Warhol silkscreen painting of flowers, and I swear they’ve never looked so beautiful as they did in the air conditioner that day. Luna seemed to really enjoy walking around and gazing at all the photos with her Grandma.

These are, of course, real flowers, not painting, but taking photos of the paintings is forbidden.
These are, of course, real flowers, not paintings, but taking photos of the paintings is forbidden.

There’s just so much to look at in the Gardens we saw a crazy outdoor train set, the Japanese gardens, the herb garden, the dogwood garden and more. Then there’s lots more we didn’t even get to this time around. I guess we will just have to go back and maybe pack a picnic basket next time.

our family

For my local friends (or my traveling friends) keep in mind that Cheekwood has extended hours on Friday nights and several other summer events for the whole family. It’s beautiful there, seriously, you don’t want to miss it. In fact, if you go, let me know, maybe we can meet you there!

cheekwood

Cheers!

Cherry Blossoms and Trouble Making

No matter where Husband and I go, we always find a way to get into trouble. By “we” I obviously mean “Husband”. He is always climbing something, jumping to and from things, rummaging random cabinets and trying every closed-door. Getting reprimanded by an authority figure comes as no surprise when on an outing with Husband. The problem is that Husband’s trouble-making ways have rubbed off on me a bit, and I often fail to even recognize when I’m breaking a rule.

During our recent visit to the New York Botanical Garden, I was extra careful and made sure that Husband was on his best behavior. I love this Garden and there is no way I’m going to get a bad rep here, which is why I didn’t budge when I heard an older angry woman screaming “No!” during part of our visit….

There are a few giant rocks in the new Native Plant Garden that I had used in the morning to relax and warm-up. After lunch, I returned to the rocks to take a few photos. I was at the top of the rocks when I heard the scary employee shouting at someone who was obviously breaking a rule. I looked around to spot the perpetrator, but found a furious employee glaring at me instead. I quickly ran down the rock, shocked to have been scolded, and found Husband laughing at the whole scene. As we walked past the strict elder staff member, she loudly told the guests in her tour group how “necessary it is to stay on the obvious path” and how “inconsiderate it is to veer off”. I get it lady, you’ve made your point.

As we left the native plants, I made a point to steer clear of any funny business…Husband made no such decision.

walk

We walked a couple trails that were new to us, found a beautiful waterfall and ended up in a field of cherry blossoms! My spring coat matched the blooms perfectly, so we took the time for a much-needed photo shoot.

bridge

cherrytrees admiring

yaypedals closeup cherryblossums

As we left the cherry blossoms, Husband had a very mischievous idea…He had me walk ahead of him and our friend Dan. As they walked behind me, Dan had the camera and Husband jumped up to shake a branch on the tree. He thought a few falling petals would make a beautiful photo. He got a lot more petals than he bargained for, but the photo did turn out beautifully!

rainingpedals blendin

I couldn’t believe the rainfall of pink petals and turned around with excitement to find Husband under the tree surround by a ridiculous amount of fallen petals/evidence. Just as I was about to announce that we should skiddaddle, an adorable family came running over. They thought the petal idea was the cutest thing they have ever seen and just had to take a similar photo with their daughter.

adad lilgirl

NOW, it was definitely time to make ourselves scarce, before Miss Garden-Party-Pooper showed up. So, we headed to the most innocent section of the Gardens, the Family Garden.

sleeveless bunny

We managed to spend the rest of the day out of trouble and escaped without getting arrested for tree de-petaling. It was a lovely day, and the perfect last visit to the Gardens before moving….especially since I may never be allowed to return after this post. Sorry about that.

Cheers!

The Final Garden Post, I Promise

There are a few details that I just did not have space to mention in the two previous posts. Take my shoes for instance….

They’re a lot more comfortable than they look.

I love these shoes, but I very rarely have an opportunity to wear them. Both Husband and Zoey told me that the Botanical Gardens were probably not the best location to show them off, but I just couldn’t wait any longer. I got comments on them all day (good and bad), so I was happy I wore them.

Something else I’d like review at the NYBG is their food. They have two cafes for dining or snacking in the Gardens. We had lunch at The Garden Café, and were mostly impressed with our selections. Between us we had veggie and meat chili, butternut squash soup, a veggie wrap, two different meat sandwiches, fries and coffee.

mmmmm…veggie wrap

The vegetarian chili was very good, the butternut squash soup, however, not so good. Now it was not bad, but it should definitely be listed under dessert. This soup is crazy sweet. It was a disappointment because I expected a different taste, but if I had ordered hot pudding it would have been completely acceptable.

Butternut squash pudding, anyone?
The French Vanilla Coffee was exactly what I needed

Besides the food in the restaurants, there is food found in the gardens! We found fresh apples that had just fallen from an apple tree, AND we found the “The Edible Garden”! This garden is meant for people to get down and dirty…in the literal sense, not the dirty sense. You can plant seeds, look for worms, and even do a little taste testing. We missed the cooking demonstrations, but I did find a few ripe grape tomatoes at the bottom of the vine, just waiting for me.

The Edible Garden

During our tour, we were very surprised to see thousands of bicyclists all gathered towards the exit of the Children’s Garden. We could not figure out what was going on, so naturally, we headed towards the free pizza and Powerade to solve the mystery. By the time I reached the pizza table I learned that we had stumbled upon the end of the Tour de Bronx. (It’s the largest free cycling event in New York State.)

The tour ended in a free musical festival at the garden.

That’s it, there’s nothing else I can possibly say about the NYBG. We loved our trip, and are already planning the next visit! Thanks again to the Gardens for sponsoring me!

Cheers!

Haunted Pumpkins, Oh My!

My main reason for trekking out to the NY Botanical Gardens was to check out their Haunted Pumpkin Garden. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that everything there was interesting and entertaining, and the Pumpkin Garden was just a fringe benefit.

The Haunted Pumpkins can be found in the Everett Children’s Adventure Garden. The second we entered through the Haunted gates, ordained with jack-o-lanterns, we were in awe. Hundreds of pumpkins were carved and shaped to create intricate designs, creatures, and creepy characters. About half way through my tour I discovered, that about half the pumpkins were not actually real pumpkins, but whatevs…it still looked awesome and spooky.

Sooo excited!

This picture does not do this caterpillar justice. It was over 10 feet long!
sunflower and toadstools
aww what a fuzzy lil’ cutie
This guy could stand to gain a few…

Moms and Dads, if you are looking for a photogenic spot to snap some autumn pictures of your kids, this is the place! Not only are there intricate scenes covering every inch of the garden, but also there are adorable sections full of natural props, perfect for any photo shoot. Is it sad that I’m already planning the costumes and photo angles for my own non-existent children? I just can’t wait to have a toddler in a Mickey costume!

Don’t we fit perfectly in these little log chairs?
our own photo shoot

I enjoyed sitting and people watching for a while too. There were tons of cute families, toddlers in funny costumes, and employees helping children learn and discover in the garden. There’s an indoor laboratory, a large maze, and SO much more!

Those are some roots!
learning the parts of a flower
getting lost in the maze

For this Halloween season they have a house made of pumpkins, a puppet show area, and a few hands-on learning stations. So cute!

House O’ Pumpkins….See the little cutie in the Mickey pants!?!?
Show time!
OF COURSE, I participated in a learning station! I learned all about how to plant a buckwheat seed.

The Haunted Pumpkin Garden turned out to be a little bit trick and a little bit treat; it’s certainly worth a trip out to the Bronx! Dress up your kids, pack some snacks, hop on a train, and have an awesome time learning and exploring in the Children’s Garden! (Kids not required…just look at us!)

Sunday in a Very Large Garden

Husband and I have been so busy over the last year hitting up every tourist attraction in the city that we were starting to believe we’d done it all. That is, until I came across an advertisement for New York’s Botanical Garden. We have already been to the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, which was beautiful, so it kind of slipped my mind that New York had another big beautiful garden!

The ad was for their Haunted Pumpkin Garden. I LOVE Halloween and I have not had enough festivities in my life this fall so Husband and I  planned a trip (along with Zoey) for Sunday morning to check out the Gardens and the Haunted Pumpkins.

Our trip began on an empty train ride to the Bronx. Zoey and I obviously took advantage of the photo op.

Over an hour later, we arrived. Surprisingly, the weather had gone from a frigid 38 degrees the day before, to a beautiful and warm 70 by the time we walked through the front gates.

We began our day at the Herb Garden, which quickly led us to Monet’s Garden in the Conservatory. Various parts of the property have been renovated to highlight Monet’s life, work, and passion for gardening. Here, there were hundreds of thousands of plants in numerous climates. The most familiar in the exhibit were the water lilies, Monet’s most popular subject matter.

The bees and butterflies were everywhere today. I guess everyone got the warm weather memo.
Entrance to the Conservatory
Don’t you want to pick up a brush and start painting?

While walking through the Conservatory we ran into Husband’s Grandmother who was enjoy the Gardens with her friends…NYC is so much smaller than people think! Besides admiring the water lilies, we gawked over furry cacti, studied bright oddly shaped flowers, and even did a little fish whispering.

Flower Genius’s…any idea what this is? This challenge is for you, Steph!
The softest cactus I’ve ever felt
Here fishy, fishy, fishy….
Why hello, Grandma!

Just outside the Conservatory were a couple sculptures from Manolo Valdes. The sculptures looked like a combination of a jungle gym and a large bust. They were fun, and there were a few more dotted around the premises, all just as whimsical.

We began to realize we were spending way too much time in one area; this place is enormous, and we wanted to see it all! We walked to the Haunted Pumpkin Garden next which was so fun and creative that I am saving it for it’s own separate post.

Just a teaser….here’s the entrance

When we exited the Children’s Adventure Garden, we meandered around Daffodil Hill,  Crabapple Collection, and up to the Goldman Stone Mill. Luckily, we found ourselves at a tram stop. This place is so large that they provide free tram service around the garden with 9 stops. It’s really great because you can take the tram around, learn the layout, and then venture out on your own.

The Rockefeller Rose Garden, also known as stop #6, was far too beautiful and fragrant to pass. We took the term “stop and smell the roses” literally and spent an hour smelling every single rose. I had no idea there were SO MANY different rose species! One even smelled spicy!

My favorite section was the Howell Family Garden. It’s not an aesthetic garden by any mean, but it grows edible plants! If there’s any kind of plant I get, it’s the edible kind! Studying the tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, beans, lettuce, and basically anything you can find in a salad brought back memories of exploring the veggies in my Grandpa’s Garden. It was peaceful, and there was even a stranded boat left for us to relax and take a break.

Running out of daylight, we rushed to the Rondina, LoFaro, and Ross Gallery to catch a glimpse of two of Monet’s paintings, one of which, Irises, has never been displayed in the U.S! Better than the paintings though, was the photographs of Monet working in his garden in Giverny, France. There was also one of his original used palettes on display!

Our day ended just like a Disney park ride…in the gift shop. The gifts were impressive. We found pestos, jams, jewelry, books, and candles whose boxes can be planted to grow the plant that scents the candle.

Gardens, sculptures, carved pumpkins, paintings, trails, architecture, and shopping, what more can a girl ask for? Our day was perfect. It did take us an hour and a half to get home, but that’s only because we are clueless the second we get out of Manhattan.

Big thanks to Sandra at the New York Botanical Gardens for sponsoring me! Another big thanks to Husband and Lucky Dan for taking some gorgeous photos! Can’t wait to share more.

Cheers!