Posts Tagged ‘flowers’

Summer_Sun1_000002It’s finally summer vacation!!!

I want to apologize for disappearing from the blog without any warning.  It wasn’t my intention, but life just got so hectic there at the end.  The end of this school year seemed especially busy for some reason.  But it all turned out fantastically well, and I’m so happy to be enjoying Day 2 of summer vacation. I have so much to update that I almost don’t know where to start.  I guess I’ll do a bit of a weekend update, and then take it from there.

Friday was my last teacher workday, which is always a nice, easy way to end the school year.  I was out of there by noon, and then spent the next several hours vegging out on the couch.  My sister and I went to go see The Fault in Our Stars, which I really enjoyed.  I loved the book, and the movie did a great job with staying true to it.  The actor playing Augustus Waters was phenomenal.  It was a great way to kick off the summer.

Saturday was all about sprucing up my yards.  My dad came over at 9am, and he and I worked until 3:30, stopping only briefly at 2pm to eat a quick lunch.

We started off transplanting groundcover from the backyard to the front.  This plant grows prodigiously, so I thought it would be a great way to thin out the backyard groundcover and fill in some spaces in my front yard.  It worked really well, and once it settles in and takes root, it will look great.  I’m not sure if it shows up, but this plant has tiny hot pink flowers that bloom during the summer. (That bush in the middle of the photo was already there – I’d purchased those back in April to replace two diseased bushes that I’d had the gardeners remove.  Even though I’m a renter, I don’t mind purchasing this kind of thing to make the house look good, because I get a lot of enjoyment out of a pretty yard. Plus, I can dig the bushes up if I ever move).

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Next, my dad and I headed to OSH to buy hoses, sprayers, planters, spliters, potting soil, etc.  You can see the soaker hose (black hose) in the photo above.  $153 later, we had plenty of essentials. Once the groundcover grows a bit more it will hide the hose, which will look better.  The soaker hose is cool because you can turn it on and leave it for 10 minutes and it slowly waters the groundcover.  After OSH, we headed to Summerwinds, the best nursery in our area.  I bought lots of full sun annuals and flowers for the hanging pots I’d bought on a whim at OSH ($77).  Before we headed home we realized we had nothing to hang the pots I’d bought, so we made a quick pit stop in Ace to buy chain, light bulbs (a few bulbs had blown out that I needed my dad’s help to reach), and some hooks to hang the pots ($35).  Whew! My summer garden was going to look beautiful, but it was expensive, at $265!  Much of that expense was the planters and hoses/sprayers, all of which I can keep, so it doesn’t make me feel quite as bad.  Plus, I consider this a gift to myself every summer, because I’ll spend my entire vacation (and beyond) enjoying the way my yards look.

When we got back, it was time to get to planting.  Sofi absolutely loved that my dad and I were in the backyard, playing in the dirt.  LOL. We started with the terra cotta planter, because that was going in the front yard, and I wanted it to look perfect.  The inspiration for all of this planting were these pots that my parents surprised me with when I got back from Hawaii:

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My mom had found the planters when she was out shopping, and from there it became a family affair.  My dad found the cement tiles to anchor them to, my niece picked out the Martha Washington geraniums, and my dad planted them.  When I got home and saw them, I was so happy!  I knew I needed to fill in the dirt (with the groundcover from the backyard), and move my huge terra cotta planter from the back to the front.

2014-06-08 06.59.22I love the way the terra cotta planter turned out! I found this great ficus ivy for the front, which will eventually hang down. I knew I wanted big blooms, and when my dad found those large zinnias, I knew they would be perfect.  I can’t wait for it to fill in.

I hated the hose I had in the front yard, because it was really inflexible and always kinked up.  The hose holder was also falling off the wall, so it was time to replace all of that, especially since we were buying the soaker hose and splitter anyway.

I had no idea you could even put a splitter on a hose.  My dad knows so many tricks!

I had no idea you could even put a splitter on a hose. My dad knows so many tricks!

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I love the black scroll work on this hose holder, and I really like that the hose blends into the background. They only had a 50-foot hose in this color, so I have way more hose than I need. My dad said we could cut the hose to make it the length I want, so that’ll be a mini project for another day.

Now the front looks really good:

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The only thing I want to add are some small solar lights, because I think they’ll look really nice and add the perfect bit of twinkle.

Now it was time to tackle all the pots for the backyard.  If money was no object, all of the my planters in the back would be terra cotta, too, but since I have other things I want to buy this summer, I’m using these plastic planters that mimic terra cotta.  They look sort of cheap, but they’re okay for now.  Eventually I’ll replace them. I think the backyard looks really happy now:

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These sun-loving annuals are bright and happy, and I love the mix of colors.  They go well with my roses and my hydrangeas, which are looking so pretty:

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I’d had this New Guinea impatien in one of the other pots, but moved it to this great watering can planter in a shady spot of the garden. We had a couple flowers left over, so I planted them in with my mint plant.

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The impulse purchase yesterday were these hanging pots. My sister has a couple of hanging pots in her back patio, and I really like the way they looked.  And then when we were at OSH yesterday, I saw these planters, and fell in love.  They were pricey, at $17.99 each, but I knew I was going to splurge on them, because they’d add so much to my patio.  I absolutely love the way they turned out, and can’t wait for them to grow and start falling over the edges of the pots.

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All in all, it was a long, tiring day, but very worth it for the end product.  I definitely want to have lots of people over this summer, so that everyone can enjoy the beauty of this garden.

Sunday my plan is to go on a 2- or 3-mile walk with my mom this morning at 8:30, and then spend the rest of the day cleaning the house.  It is in desperate need of a major cleaning.  I’m talking top to bottom and every room in between.  I let it go over the past month, and I want to start out the summer with a clean house.  One thing I love about summertime is that once the house is clean, I can tackle cleaning it a bit at a time – bathrooms one day, floors another, dusting a different day.  Once it’s spotless, keeping up with it isn’t a big deal, and insures that the house always looks immaculate.  My reward for all the hard work in store today is going to be a bit of a binge watch of Orange is the New Black.  I’ve watched the first episode of Season 2 already, but I love watching a bunch of them in a row, so that’s the plan for later this evening.

All in all, I’m starting summer in wonderful way – beautifying the house and gardens.


I have a bunch of blog posts swirling in my head, so get ready for an onslaught of writing from me over the next few days:

  • getting back on track with my food & exercise routine
  • PopSugar MustHave Box reveal/review
  • 20-mile bike ride adventure
  • Diamond Head hike adventure (yes, two months later!)
  • Graduation NSV
  • Bottle Rock music festival discoveries
  • Bella in T.O.Y.land music mix
  • weekly workout plan
  • weigh-in update




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Happy Easter! I love this season because of the inspiration I get from the sense of rebirth and renewal that’s all around – it’s refreshing! I hope you spent the day, as I did, enjoying the day with friends & family!!!


Yesterday my sister and I spent time planting spring flowers in my front yard.  Here is my front porch container;  I love the mix of colors.


Ranunculus are so beautiful, and since they’re one of my favorite flowers, I knew I wanted to plant them this year. I added asters and a cool variety of daisy to their containers. I can’t wait for them to settle in a bit really start thriving.


I know I had a shot like this last week, but since these are a fresh bouquet of flowers, straight from the front yard, I figured I’d share them again.

My contribution to our Easter brunch – a beautiful berry salad – strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries.

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{I’m going to save my weigh-in update for later in the week. As you guys know, I was one pound away from the goal that will get my file on the surgeon’s desk. I’ve been working hard all week to get that pound (plus more) off, and I’m going in to my local Kaiser to get my weight officially documented. So, I’ll write my weigh-in post after I have those results}.

bilbl_mainI know I’ve been pretty absent on this blog, and on commenting on everyone else’s blogs. I’m so sorry for that. It’s been really busy for me at work, and when I’m off, I’ve been concentrating on getting these pounds off. Ever since the time change, I’ve been feeling so tired and drained and have been heading to bed earlier than normal. Still, I need to be better about writing and commenting, because blogging is one of my great loves, and I don’t want to slack on it right as I’m achieving everything that I’ve been working so hard for.

For today’s post, I figured I’d share some of the things that have been making me smile.


I took this one on a walk with Sofi last week. So many of my neighbors have beautiful flowers in bloom in their front yards, which really makes me love this time of year.


Sofi loves her indoor/outdoor doggie bed, but after a long, hot walk, she loves the cool grass even more. If given the choice, Sofi will choose to be outside every single time.

These next two photos were taken during last week’s Spring Fling dress up days.  I was one of the few teachers who actually dressed up, which I don’t understand, since the students love to see us looking goofy.  I had fun with it, as you can tell.


Monday was Crazy Day, and I think I aced that assignment. I definitely brought hte crazy!


Tuesday was Western Day. This was the first time I’ve ever worn a cowboy hat! It’s also the first time in years that I’ve braided my hair. I can’t believe how long it’s gotten!


This is Sofi’s favorite position on any given morning – tummy up, soaking up the sun. What a life!


Sofi’s 2nd birthday is on Tuesday, and my mom being the great Nonni that she is, had to celebrate it early by giving Sofi this fun toy. She wasn’t so sure at first, but she hasn’t been without it since yesterday afternoon when she got it.


My sister and I have tons of gorgeous lilies in our front yard, and I just had to make a quick spring arrangement for my dining table. I love bringing the spring inside!


Tulips are one of my favorite flowers, and I couldn’t help but snap this quick pic while Sofi and I took our early afternoon walk today.


I’ve been participating in #fmsphotoaday on Instagram, and today’s assignment was “Up.” Can you believe that bright blue sky, without a cloud to be seen? I’m so lucky to live here.

There you have it.  A bunch of reasons to smile today.  I hope your Sunday was just as happy.  Look for my weigh-in update tomorrow, and please cross your fingers & toes that the official weigh-in puts me well under the goal.

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Goal Style. Each week I use Polyvore to put together looks that I hope to wear when I get to goal. They serve as inspiration and motivation, and they help me develop my own sense of style along the way. I enjoying working with thematic groupings, so if you have ideas of style themes for future fashion Friday posts, please put them in the comments.

This week has been a bit cold and dreary around here, so I thought some bold color and a pop of floral would be the perfect way to brighten things up. I could see myself wearing this cute dress to a daytime wedding or other party, on a first date, to brunch, or just for a fun afternoon out with the girls. It makes me smile when I see it, which is the way clothes should make you feel, right?


Milly leather dress
$529 – my-wardrobe.com

Hoss Intropia short jacket
$126 – sereneorder.com

Red leather flat
$60 – dsw.com

Sensi Studio straw tote bag
£165 – matchesfashion.com

Chanel bracelet
€1.289 – lindestore.com

Lancome Juicy Tubes – Bolole
$18 – lancome-usa.com

Rhodes Acid Washed Frame
$42 – artgalleryframes.com

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Each year when I plant my summer flower garden, it’s the signal that summer is just around the corner.  Some years are so busy that I wait until after school gets out. Other years, my mom and dad have surprised me by planting all the flowers for me.  This year I decided the long Memorial Day weekend was the perfect time to plant my flower garden.

As is our yearly tradition, my dad and I met up in the morning and headed out to a few of our local nurseries to select, purchase, and plant the summer flowers.  This year I wanted to make sure there was plenty of color in both my front and back yards.  I’m so grateful for everything I have in my life – a wonderful family, a fabulous place to live, and soon a new puppy companion – and I wanted that joy to be vividly shown in my garden.

The photos were taken yesterday (and a few this morning) and I think they show just how successful we were in capturing that feeling.  See what you think:

First we’ll start in the front of the house.  My sister has a green thumb, and as I look out my window or front door every morning, I see a beautiful array of roses and lilies.  I wanted to make sure that my sister (and anyone else who might see my front yard) had a view that was just as pretty.  My front yard is mostly shade until around 4pm, when I get a few hours of hot afternoon sun.  I think the combo of flowers we selected will do really well with this light.

This is the view from my sister's house (front yard).

I love how unique these square containers look. Flowers: impatiens, dianthus, fiberous begonias

Flowers: impatiens, dianthus, petunias, begonia

Flowers: impatiens, dianthus, petunias, begonia, fiberous begonia

Flowers - impatiens, dianthus, fiberous begonias

Next, we’ll go to the back yard.  My backyard is very lush and green, thanks to some nice plants and trees that have been there for years, but I have always thought that it lacked color.  Yes, the bird of paradise have color, but they in need of some serious pruning, and I really hate those plants, but since the landlord likes them, they stay.  Also, I enjoy the bottle  brush tree and the holly berry tree, but other than that, my backyard is pretty blah.  That is, until yesterday.  I think the combination of potted flowers really adds a lot of life to the yard.  I get great light all day in the back, but the sun really hits around 1pm and lasts the rest of the afternoon until sunset.

A view of the backyard, taken from my patio. I really am lucky to have such a nice-sized yard.

This is the memorial garden I made for Lulu; the hydrangeas were there (although now they're blooming). I added the sunflower pot.

Close-up of the sunflower pot. Flowers: dianthus, fiberous begonia

I love the firecracker red salvia!

These pots originally held the hydrangeas, but I repurposed them, and I'm very happy with the way they turned out. I get to see these beauties every morning when I look outside from my dining table.

I love the bright-orange zinnia coupled with the colorful petunias.

Whenever I'm on a walk, I'm always drawn to geraniums, so I decided to plant some of my own. They're coupled with petunias here.

This was the plant I had on my patio table, but I thought it would fill in the corner of the yard nicely and add some much-needed color.

This azelea has seen better days on my dining table, but I'm hoping it will come back now that it's roots have room to grow.

I can’t wait until all of my flowers really take root and begin to flourish!  As my dad and I were planting them yesterday, I started to think about how nice it will be to take a few quiet moments to water each of these plants and think about my day.  Right now, while school is still in and things are hectic, it will be a short relief from the stress.  Later, when summer is here, it will be a wonderful way to begin or end my day, reminding myself of the beauty that can be found in the simplest things.

As much as I say that I’m not a gardener, I do think I have the soul of one.  I love everything that goes along with it, even getting my hands dirty.  Maybe with a bit more practice and a dash of confidence, I’ll become a full-fledged green thumb after all.


Because I love to have plants and flowers in the house, too, I thought I’d share the newest additions.

Dalias have to be one of my favorite flowers ever, and this pink./yellow combo is gorgeous.

The thing I love about Pathos plants is that they thrive in low light. This one is going to do really well in my bedroom.

Do you garden?  What have you been planting, lately?

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Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket Yesterday began as a very difficult day, but after I ‘fessed up, I felt so much lighter.  And it must have shown, because I had two separate NSVs.

First when I was at my parents’ house dropping something off, my mom said, “you know, Bella, I  can really see the weight loss now.  To be honest with you, I didn’t see it until today.  I know how hard you’ve been working, and I have been so proud of you, but now it’s finally becoming really noticeable.”

And then later, my friend AD came over with her new, 10-week-old puppy, Riley.  As Riley and Minnie (my sister’s dog) were playing, AD said, “Bella, you look fantastic.  How much weight have you lost?” I hadn’t seen AD since before beginning Medifast.
Which showed me that even though I had a setback the night before, it doesn’t take away from the fact that I’ve made incredible weight loss progress in 9 weeks.  And hearing these comments fuels me to keep going, keep striving, and not let anything (including myself) stop me from reaching my mini-goal.  I’m even more determined now that I was before.

As a gift to myself after this realization, I decided to bring some of the gorgeous flowers we have in our garden inside the house.

The freesias were the bulbs I planted in November in flower boxes. The cala lillies are ones that LC planted for me from her old house.

These next three photos come courtesy of the roses in LC’s garden.  She transplanted them from her old house, and after a lot of hard work in December, they are coming in beautifully now.  I am thrilled that we’re going to have roses throughout the spring and summer.  The funny thing is, I never really appreciated roses, thinking they were so trite and overdone.  But seeing how much care and tending LC gives them, I can’t help but appreciate them.

I absolutely adore this photo. Something about the lighting and the contrast of the colors is just so striking to me. The roses look so dainty and beautiful, and they match my bathroom decor perfectly.

These blushing peach-colored roses are called Marilyn Monroe. They are so delicate and delightful, aren't they?

Since today is the 3-week anniversary of Lulu’s accident, I thought it was appropriate to put them on the table in what I now call “Lulu’s corner.”

It feels like it’s been 3 months since Lulu’s been gone, not 3 weeks.  I miss her so much, but the rawness of the pain only hits me once in a while now.  Seeing Minnie & Riley playing yesterday was so good for me.  And thinking about the new puppy I’ll get in June, Sofi, is also a comfort.  Nothing can replace Lulu in my heart, but there is definitely room for another puppy in there.  And I think Lulu would give her wag of approval for sure.

Yesterday I decided that I was going to take photos of all of the things that make me smile this spring.  As a celebration of life, as a way of “living in the moment” that Lulu taught me, and as a way of appreciating the beauty in every day.  I posted an album on my FB page, if you’d like to see.

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Things have been really intense and serious around here lately, and since the weather outside is gorgeous and it’s Friday, I thought I’d lighten the mood and tell you about some things that have been making me smile this week.

How much am I loving the fact that I have driven home with my convertible top down for the past 2 days?!  And I have those same plans again this afternoon.  I love feeling the sun on my face and the wind swirling all around me as I’m driving.  And yes, that temperature gauge does say it was 83 degrees after 5pm yesterday.  Ahhhh, spring!

Flowers always put me in a good mood.  They’re like bringing a bit of springtime into the house.  And in the past week, I’ve received lots of flowers.

A gorgeous bouquet from my vet's office, offering condolences for Lulu. They earned a client for life with this thoughtful gesture.

My sister gave me this tiny begonia because she was thinking of me yesterday. I put it in Lulu's corner.

My nieces (aged 8 and 3 1/2) were adorable and remembered that it had been 1 week since Lulu's accident on Wednesday. They clipped these from our garden and put them in a vase for me.

With all of this thoughtfulness and love all around me, how can I not be in a good mood?  The sun, the love, the convertible, Friday…all reasons to be grateful and happy.

What’s something that is making you happy today?

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What a great weekend! Especially today, so I thought it was time for another edition of Sunday Smiles, where I take photos of all the things that made me smile today.


It started off with me taking Friday off so I could see CTLB who was out from Boston visiting SF. We only spent about 2 hours together, but it was so good to see her in person and catch up a bit. I’m hoping that the next time we see each other there will be a lot less of me for her to see!

I raced home from San Fran in order to set up the Lulu’s 1st birthday party.  Those of you who are friends with me on Facebook might’ve already seen these photos, but for those who aren’t here are some highlights…

I didn’t expect to find puppy party supplies at the store I went to, but there they were, and of course I couldn’t resist.

I also made sure we had sweet treats for the puppies and the girls, too. The chocolate cupcakes are for the girls and the cookie cupcakes were for Lulu and Minnie.

And here are a few shots of the birthday girl herself, Miss Lulu.

This one is going to serve as a “before” photo someday soon.

And finally, you know it’s a good party when one of the pooches is pooped out!

Saturday was a nice day.  LC and I went to Zumba, I did a bit of household stuff, and generally relaxed, but nothing really noteworthy happened, other than making The Best dinner.

Oh, I also got some new shoes which I absolutely love!!!

Yes, they are furry, too.  They look just like Vans, but they’re from Payless Shoe Source.  I got another pair in solid canvas black.  So comfy and so sassy.

LC and I decided that we’re going to make going to the farmers market a regular part of our Sunday morning routine, so we started off there. The girls came along, too, and had lots of fun looking at all of the arts & crafts, flowers, and produce. I bought my new favorite – dino kale, as well as some savoy cabbage.

I’m always looking for a great plant for my dining table, and today I picked up a pretty, purpley-pinkish ranunculus.

Next up, we stopped at PetFoodExpress to get some food and a two-dog leash.  I’ve been telling LC how difficult it is to take both dogs at once.  And most of the time my parents and the kids come along, but some days they can’t/don’t want to, and I always feel badly about leaving Minnie out, so LC decided time to try a leash made for both of them. Here we are about to take off on our maiden walk.

I was definitely keeping my fingers crossed, but I never had anything to worry about:

And here’s a bit of video so you can see it in action:

And of course, since tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, I spent a bit of time writing cards to my family:

Maybe next year I’ll have a true valentine to give a card to.  If it’s right, it’ll happen.

A perfectly lovely day, not to mention the fact that I’ve resisted quite a few temptations this weekend and stayed 100% on Medifast (and it’s showing on the scale), but I’ll save that for the Wednesday Weigh-In post. All in all, lots of simple moments that put a smile on my face today.

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I mentioned last week that I wanted to start buying myself a bouquet of flowers every Wednesday to celebrate my weight loss.  This week I decided that I wanted to start the tradition, and instead of celebrating, I was going to use the flowers as incentive for staying on track all week.  Every time I look at them I will remind myself of my goals for the week, and hopefully it will be that extra little push I need to get me toward my weekly goal.

Because this past week was incredibly disappointing, I decided to get two:

A happy, spring bouquet.

These freesias are my favorite of the two, because they’re so pretty.  The photo is much more pink than the actual flowers.  The real ones are more purple-ish.  Plus, they smell amazing.

Buying flowers is one of the best ways to get me out of a funky mood.  What’s yours?

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Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket Happy Tuesday, everyone!

I am loving spring!  The weather is warmer (although we’re expecting a bit of a cold front to come in tomorrow and the next day 😦 ), the days are longer, and people just seem to be in a better mood, don’t they?  It was a long winter for everyone, and even though I didn’t have to live through “snomageddon 2010,” for a while I thought I had somehow moved to Seattle, with all the rain we were getting.  (Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love the city of Seattle, but I don’t think I could handle all of the precipitation).

Spring also makes me want to dress nicer.  I mentioned a few weeks ago that my business trip required me to dress up a lot more than I normally do, which meant buying a few new dresses and things.  I really loved the way I looked and felt in the dresses, and I vowed that I was going to start taking a bit more time and attention to detail in my daily wardrobe.  I have been doing it for two weeks now, and I love it.  I’ve always been the type of person to take great pride in my appearance, but somehow this winter, I sort of let that go.  It was just so much easier to grab jeans and a sweater or sweatshirt when the weather outside was lousy.  I was totally uninspired to dress nicely.  Now that the weather is warmer, I want to shed those layers and show my style.  The other plus is that the more form fitting clothes keep me motivated to keep up with my workouts and food plan!

I mentioned yesterday that I spent quite a bit of time this weekend cleaning, and it feels so great to come home to a spotless, organized house.  The next spring project that I want to take on is planting flowers in my front yard.  I have a window box, as well as two pots that I put on my front stoop.

One of last year's pots, right after planting.

I have to choose flowers that will deal with shade, because I only get morning sun.  I usually end up choosing impatiens, because they do so well, but I think I’m a bit bored with them after three years.  Any ideas of other shade-loving flowers I could try?

This spring I also want to bring back a weekly treat that I used to give to myself some time ago – a new bouquet of flowers each week.  I used to buy them on Fridays after work, to enjoy all weekend.  I think I’m going to change it to stopping at the store on Wednesdays after work, as a reward to myself for another good week on plan.  This works perfectly because I weigh myself each Wednesday, and Tuesdays/Wednesdays are the days when my local grocery store gets their new floral deliveries.  So, my Wednesday afternoon flowers will be a great way to inspire myself to remember that I’m a work in progress, a flower that’s still blossoming (ok, was that too cheesey?).  Plus, I just love flowers, so having a fresh floral bouquet always puts me in a great mood.

Spring also inspires me to get outside for my activity, and I’ve been enjoying the longer, sunny days by walking outside or biking around the neighborhood after I get home from work.  Even a few minutes helps me clear my mind and be thankful that I get to live in such a beautiful climate.

I’m also looking forward to Spring Break, which will be here in about 3 weeks – 19 more days, to be exact.  The rest of the school year flies by after Spring Break, and then summer is here.  Ah, glorious summer.  But I won’t get to far ahead of myself.  For now, I’ll just enjoy these beautiful spring days…

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