Sunday, July 31, 2011

Butterfly factory! Look close, I think there will be about 5 butterfiles eventually

These little guys are busy eating my parsley but I'm okay with the herb sacrifice. I'll be enjoying the end result soon. BUTTERFLIES!


The Butterfly Life Cycle

Let’s explore a butterfly’s life cycle in detail, including all four stages of life. All butterflies have "complete metamorphosis." To grow into an adult they go through 4 stages: egg, larva, pupa and adult. Each stage has a different goal - for instance, caterpillars need to eat a lot, and adults need to reproduce. Depending on the type of butterfly, the life cycle of a butterfly may take anywhere from one month to a whole year. You can print out this Butterfly Life Cycle coloring page to follow along as we talk about the 4 stages.

Butterfly Eggs on a Leaf The First Stage: The Egg

A butterfly starts life as a very small, round, oval or cylindrical egg. The coolest thing about butterfly eggs, especially monarch butterfly eggs, is that if you look close enough you can actually see the tiny caterpillar growing inside of it. Some butterfly eggs may be round, some oval and some may be ribbed while others may have other features. The egg shape depends on the type of butterfly that laid the egg.

Butterfly eggs are usually laid on the leaves of plants, so if you are actively searching for these very tiny eggs, you will have to take some time and examine quite a few leaves in order to find some.

Butterfly Caterpillar The Second Stage: The Larva (Caterpillar)

When the egg finally hatches, most of you would expect for a butterfly to emerge, right? Well, not exactly. In the butterfly’s life cycle, there are four stages and this is only the second stage. Butterfly larvae are actually what we call caterpillars. Caterpillars do not stay in this stage for very long and mostly, in this stage all they do is eat.

When the egg hatches, the caterpillar will start his work and eat the leaf they were born onto. This is really important because the mother butterfly needs to lay her eggs on the type of leaf the caterpillar will eat – each caterpillar type likes only certain types of leaves. Since they are tiny and can not travel to a new plant, the caterpillar needs to hatch on the kind of leaf it wants to eat.

Caterpillars need to eat and eat so they can grow quickly. When a caterpillar is born, they are extremely small. When they start eating, they instantly start growing and expanding. Their exoskeleton (skin) does not stretch or grow, so they grow by “molting” (sheding the outgrown skin) several times while it grows.

Caterpillar Becoming a Chrysalis The Third Stage: Pupa (Chrysalis)

Monarch Caterpillar Becoming a ChrysalisThe pupa stage is one of the coolest stages of a butterfly’s life. As soon as a caterpillar is done growing and they have reached their full length/weight, they form themselves into a pupa, also known as a chrysalis. From the outside of the pupa, it looks as if the caterpillar may just be resting, but the inside is where all of the action is. Inside of the pupa, the caterpillar is rapidly changing.

Now, as most people know, caterpillars are short, stubby and have no wings at all. Within the chrysalis the old body parts of the caterpillar are undergoing a remarkable transformation, called ‘metamorphosis,’ to become the beautiful parts that make up the butterfly that will emerge. Tissue, limbs and organs of a caterpillar have all been changed by the time the pupa is finished, and is now ready for the final stage of a butterfly’s life cycle.

Daisy keeping watch over Elsie and Annabelle Beep-Beep

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Annabelle Beep-Beep is one year old today

A year ago today a little puppy was born in Florida. Here is Annie in the garden. I love this little dog but she is the perfect image of a Chihuahua. She's an ankle-biter, a yapper, and is aggressive towards Elsie.
Seriously, when someone comes in the house, she wants the attention and will run along their feet and bites ankles. How do I break this habit?
She recently discovered her voice and will bark at random every now and then, at nothing. Well, maybe her bionic ears hear something and she has a valid reason to bark but to me, it seems like she's yapping to just yap. Of course, then Elsie gets in on it and I have even more yapping.
Agressiveness; She and Elsie play all the time which is what I wanted, a companion for Elsie. They get rough sometimes and you hear the growling and yips of 'back off bitch' too. However, the 'I'm going to rip your face off' aggression is what freaks me out. This happens once a day or every other day. Elsie is not aggressive at all and just takes the abuse. It usually happens when they are both on my lap or if a toy or chew stick is involved. How do I break this bad behaviour?
Overall, I do love this little dog and am happy I have her. However, she is the reason that many people do not like Chihuahuas. Maybe as she gets a little older she will calm some and realize that she does not have to be, nor is she Top Dog.

She loves to play in the garden. Digging holes is a skill she learned from Elsie and she is very good at this task.

She wants to dominate Elsie. In this photo one might think 'ohhh, cute, she's protecting Elsie' when in fact, she's sitting on her, trying to get her to move.

She likes to be right next to me and that causes conflict with Elsie (and sometimes Daisy too). She is adorable but she's a feisty little thing.


Sunday, July 24, 2011

Our flight is delayed but we made the most of it

It's hot in the city, let's go to the beach

Monday morning and it is our last day of vacation. I've always wanted to check out the beaches from Coney Island to the Hamptons so I decided to take the opportunity on this trip. I think it was a great ending to a fabulous trip to New York. First, we had to get to JFK to rent the car. We took the subway for one last time to the AirTrain. That connection drops you at the airport. We loaded the car and off we went. I brought Tom with me and he finally kicked in and helped us navigate although I have to admit I didn't use him a lot and made him mad by going off his route. He got over it.

One thing we quickly learned is that there are no free beaches or beach parking along this route. At this stop, we had to park in a lot reserved for condo residents. We ran up to the boardwalk, looked at the beach, snapped a few photos and got back to the car before it was towed or ticketed!

We started at Rockaway and stopped at many beaches between there and Southampton. We could see the beach and water here and there but weren't able to get on the beach without paying and since we were limited on time, we didn't get out. Lesson learned: next time, take the train from the city to Rockaway or Coney Island and spend some time on the beach.
We drove for a few hours and of course got hungry again so we stopped at the Massapequa Diner. From there we continued east to Southampton and shot this photo on some beach, somewhere along the way.

Here is one of the small beach cottages you find in Southampton. Isn't it adorable? Seriously, this area is gorgeous. I can see why the city dwellers escape here. I could escape here - if I could afford it. We walked around the village and bought a few books at the quaint bookstore. I picked up a few real estate magazines - not really magazines, more like books. The properties inside range from 800K to over 40 million. Beautiful homes but dang, they are HUGE and in some cases ridiculous.

The little black car in the back is our rental car. We are parked in a lot which is private and requires a sticker for parking. Note the cool surfer truck. I need to meet the owner of that truck! Stickers were present which means this person lives in one of those little beach cottages.

The next few photos don't truly represent the beauty of this huge roadside garden at someone's home. This garden wrapped around the corner and was in full bloom.

Many of the homes were surrounded by huge hedges. Many of these hedges were being trimmed while we were there. I guess it was hedge-trimming day?On the road into the village there was an interesting yard-art store. Of course we had to stop for the photo opportunity.

Lady Liberty IS a lot smaller than she looks!
Dinosaurs in the Hamptons!

We embraced the subway, many times every day... love the train

Only two photos for this most important topic. . . We were on the subway constantly. I love being able to walk a couple of blocks and get on a train that takes you where you want to go. No car required. It's not cheap though. We bought 7 day unlimited passes for 29.00 and about wore out the cards.
The fare is 2.50 - every time you go through the gate.

Lincoln Center, Columbus Circle, and a couple of free drinks

We spotted this written on the street on our way to the train station!

We took the train to Lincoln Center and looked in the windows and enjoyed the fountain.
This is our last evening in the city and we are tired but don't really want to leave. There is so much to see and do. I'd love to live here for about 3 months. I'd probably still not see everything but I'd whittle the to-do list more. This trip I was able to cross many things off that list - and added more. It is a list-in-progress for sure. I love the city and can't wait to go back.

After we returned to the hotel, I used my coupon for 2 free drinks that was given to me upon check-in. You have to be 21 to go in a bar in NYC (just learned this!) and they thought Bailey was of age until I ordered her a diet coke. She went next door to buy us some snackie cakes and I decided to just do a double shot of tequila, quick and easy, and then we headed to the room for our nightly 20 minute shower (not really but seemed like it and felt so good), packing, and planning our next day. What's next? We head to JFK and rent a car and go someplace I've wanted to see for many years. . . . The Hamptons.

Sunday Morning, off to the Hell's Kitchen Flea Market, Brooklyn Bridge, and back to the Village

Shopping at the flea market.

We then took the subway to the station nearest the Brooklyn Bridge and we walked across the bridge.

After we finally made it to the other side (it's not really that far, it was just REALLY HOT and we stopped a few times to sit in the shade) we walked to the next train station and headed back to the village. We sat in Washington Square Park for a while before heading to dinner. We passed the Terra Blues club and one of my favs was smiling at me from the window:

Various food we sampled in NYC

Pho Soup with a thin layer of grease due to the fatty beef used. Not terrible but I've had better. Vegetable curry. yum

This was a cucumber/avocado roll. Was.
Cheesecake at the Film Center Cafe. The cheesecake at Juniors was yummy and HUGE - no photo - sorry - you'll have to go there and try it yourself. This cheesecake was very tasty and creamy. We had no problem eating it.
Ferrara Chocolate Dipped Cannoli
Sorbet and fruit refresher at Ferrara's . . . before the pannini and cannoli

Cannoli we had before we headed to Coney Island - after our dinner at Zen Palate. Wish I had shot photos of that dinner.

At Zen we ordered a few things but the prettiest was the pineapple fried rice which they served in a hollowed, half pineapple. Not only was it beautiful, it was fantastic tasting. I'd go back to this place too.

We also enjoyed Tapas at a place in the village (bad photo, sorry) and that is a place I would visit again if given the chance.

There are so many wonderful restaurants, on every corner, every street, that you could eat someplace different for years - never have to try the same place twice unless you really wanted.

Saturday night in the city

After Memphis and saying goodbye to the Penneys, Bailey and I headed to the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA). I was excited to see what was behind those walls. We were both a little tired and a little hungry but we decided to go for it. We had to walk a few extra blocks because the address provided on the internet was not correct. WHAT? Yes, google was wrong. LOL We found it though and headed into the cool air. We worked our way up, up, up and looked at every room. We could have spent hours in there reading about the artists, etc. MOMA houses Picasso, Pollock, Kahlo, VanGogh, Dali, Warhol, Mapplethorpe, and 1000s of other artists; it is an amazing place. I asked Bailey if she could take home ONE, just ONE item in the museum what it would be and right now I can't recall the name of the sculptor. I do know the piece is a beautiful gold sculpture. My choice was easy. Oh-so-easy. I want the Warhol ELVIS. I want a poster of this print to frame and put in my kitchen. I need to start my google search now for this poster. What do you think?

After MOMA, we headed out for FOOD because we were STARVED now. Directly across the street was an Asian restaurant and of course we both wnated to go there. It wasn't terrible but it wasn't the best I've had. You can't go wrong with a veggie sushi roll but the Pho soup was greasy - a no-no. Her curry was good but again, we've had better.

After dinner we headed south down 5th to do a little more window shopping and went in a few stores before they closed. We walked through Rockefeller Center (or maybe that was earlier in the week?!?! my days are blending together now) and headed to Times Square to do a little more shoe-watching. I was having fun looking at all of the people and their various shoe choices. From flats to the highest heels, combat books to ugg boots, flip flops to birkenstocks, converse to nikes, wedges, pumps, moccasins, you name it, we saw it.

Two tired girls then headed to the hotel for a much needed night's rest. Oh, but first, a pit stop for some fruit and other snackie cakes.

Saturday morning, let's sleep in a little!

Saturday morning we didn't have to be anywhere except the Memphis box office at 10am to buy student tickets. So, we took advantage of this and slept in a little.
After the ticket purchase we went to Times Square and did a little shopping (Levi's, H&M, Forever 21, etc.) We quickly tired of that and headed back to the hotel to meet M&J. They had an early tour of the NBC studios. Today is their last day in the city so they also had to pack and get their bags on the bus. Our show was at 2pm and it was wonderful. Student tickets for this show are always in the first row which sounds great except that the seats are almost against the stage and you kinda get a pain in your neck craning to see what is going on . . .but for the price, no complaints. I love this show.

Central Park bike ride, carriage ride, and dinner at Film Center Cafe

We rented bikes and mom waited for us somewhere on 5th near central park. We were gone only an hour. John lost us twice on this ride and the second time I didn't try to find him! Bailey and I worked our way through part of the park and rode out of the park to see the Metropolitan Museum of Art and then back in to weave our way back to mom. We returned the bikes and I had decided earlier that I wanted to rent a horse and carriage to take mom through the park since she didn't get to see any of it.

The driver was nice and knowledgeable about the points of interest in the park and I thought it was a nice, relaxing way to end the tour of Central Park. I still haven't seen the entire park. Another item to add to the to-do list. Next time I want to rent bikes for 2 hours and take a leisurely ride through the park. :)

After the carriage ride we walked south to Hell's Kitchen (area just a couple of blocks from our hotel) and ate dinner at the Film Center Cafe. Another nice restaurant with great food. Thanks to for the coupons. I randomly picked three restaurants from a list of 100s and so far, the two coupons we used (FCC and Zen) were wonderful.

Is it Friday already? The Penney's last full day in NYC

Today we walked a couple of blocks east to 5th and then south to the Empire State Building. The Chryslter Building is in the distance behind mom and john. We arrived at the Empire State Building and the crowd had not yet formed. Riding the escaltor up to the ticket floor.

We bought our tickets and worked our way through the displays on the way to the elevator. This is kind of a staging area for when the place is packed. Lots of facts to read, photos to examine, etc. We then boarded the first elevator which takes to you the 86th floor I think. Then you get on a second elevator to the viewing area.

That pointy building in the center of the photo is the Chrysler Building again.

Finally a photo of me with the parental units. I bet you were beginning to wonder if we were really on vacation together, huh.

Bailey loves mirrors and the reflective glass was perfect. :)

Some views from the top:

After we left the ESB, we took the train to the World Trade Center site. The construction is in process and the site is surrounded by chain link fence. We didn't stay long. Mom and John wanted to go to Yankee Stadium so we sent them on the orange train north which I learned later did not go all the way to the stadium for some reason but the conductor helped them transfer and get off. Then, they discovered that the dang museum wasn't even open because Paul McCartney was in town and for some silly reason they had to close it. weird. They then took the green train south to central park and waited for us.

We headed to Chinatown and then walked to Little Italy. I wanted to see the tenement museum but we didn't have enough time. Something to add to my list for the next trip to the city. I wanted to eat at Ferrara Cafe and we found the place a few blocks away. The food was wonderful and I had my first chocolate covered cannoli. The third cannoli of the trip. It was worth every dollar.

We then headed to SOHO to meet a friend for a snack. My first Pink Berry ice cream (or is it yogurt?). We also did a little shopping while waiting. SOHO is pretty once you get away from the store fronts! Back to Central Park to meet the Penneys and go for a bike ride through Central Park.