Palm Trees and Stuffing Part I!

Our family at Highland's Hammock State Park
Our family at Highland’s Hammock State Park

As our plane began its descent for landing, they came into focus . . . my beloved palm trees! It’s not only that I absolutely love palm trees, but also what they represent . . . my family is near! Wes and I disembarked the plane, and with bags in tow, quickly made our way to the food court to where my parents, along with my niece and nephew, were waiting for us. We managed to sneak up on my parents, but Tyler quickly saw us and announced, “There’s Aunt No No and Uncle Wes”! Then there were big hugs all around! A couple of hours later we were home in Okeechobee and out in my parent’s backyard playing with the kids, and enjoying the beautiful weather. Later my brother, Marshall, and my sister-n-law, Alicia, joined us. The entire family, along with my sister, Hayley, and her fiancé, Justin, enjoyed a delightful supper together.

After breakfast the next morning, several of us headed to nearby Grassy Island Trail, which is a beautiful trail for hiking and mountain biking, that my brother helped make. It was a gorgeous day with clear, blue skies above and a cool, gentle breeze blowing, as we walked through the hammock. We stopped to admire a Box Turtle, which the kids thought was wonderful and Tyler was excited to hold. We inspected old cow bones scattered along the trail and made sculptures out of them.  We climbed trees and made “redneck birthday cakes”, which were made by me and the kids placing sticks in the numerous cow patties scattered about. We stopped while I made a small pine tree “talk” to the kids, which they really enjoyed, and carried on a happy conversation with Mr. Pine Tree. As we went along I made mental notes of the stunts I wanted to ride on, when we returned later that week with our bikes. After walking the trail and exploring, we had worked up an appetite, and so we headed to Five Guys for lunch. That afternoon was spent in my parent’s backyard, playing with kids, while Wes and dad worked on removing big piles of the water lettuce that had taken over their pond. Then the kids and I got into the canoe, where we got pushed and worked our way to the middle of the pond, then Wes would pull us in real fast with a rope until we hit the muddy edge, and the kids would excitedly exclaim “Do it again Uncle Wes!” This went on until Wes needed a much-deserved break!

Haydyn carries her "flag" on th eGrassy island Trail
Haydyn carries her “flag” on the Grassy island Trail photo
Tyler holds a Box Turtle found along the trail
Tyler proudly holds a Box Turtle found along the trail
photo of grassy island trail
Aunt No No makes Mr. Pine Tree talk with the kids
photo of grassy island trail
Obviously a family of monkeys!

Wednesday morning, the entire family headed over to Sebring, FL, to eat lunch and spend the afternoon at one of my all time favorite places, Highlands Hammock State Park. We were blessed with another gorgeous day, as we enjoyed walking around the trails, through the dense tree-filled hammock. One of the first nice finds from the boardwalk was a beautiful Cottonmouth laying at the base of a Cypress Tree, soaking up the warm sun. We saw and heard lots of birds, including a Barred owl, which I called to, and it answered me a couple of times. While walking along the last trail, we finally saw an alligator, which really made my day! We enjoyed a picnic supper in the lovely picnicking area surrounded by lots of tall pine trees. Then it was time for the little and big kids to play on the playground. The highlight was taking turns on the tall, spiral slide, and every time I came down it, I would get full of static electricity, and when I touched any thing metal or another person, it made sparks. My dad thought it was really funny to touch me the first few times I reached the bottom, until the time the sparks really flew, then it wasn’t so funny anymore, and he started running as soon as I got to the bottom, where I commenced to chasing him! Upon leaving there we went to the mall so the kids could see the Christmas decorations and Santa. However, my precious nephew, Tyler, was very disappointed when Santa told him he couldn’t make it snow for him for Christmas.

photo of a cottonmouth
A beautiful Cottonmouth sunning himself
highlands hammock
I love this spot, where the tree is “eating” the boardwalk!
cypress catwalk trail
Alicia takes a photo of me while I take one of her
photo of a live oak
Tyler and Haydyn by one of the large Live Oaks in Highlands Hammock
raccoon photo
Dad and Tyler sneak up on a raccoon enjoying a small feast
spider photo
A gorgeous little spider along one of the trails

Thanksgiving, we were blessed with another gorgeous day, while we all enjoyed eating our big lunch together, which featured my mom’s delicious homemade cornbread dressing . . . yummy!! The rest of the day was spent enjoying the outdoors and playing, while burning off some of the calories we had all just consumed! Wes built the kids a playhouse which they loved, and it even had a built in fan if someone was hot. It consisted of a large palmetto fan which Tyler pulled down and up to create a breeze. Of course there were more rides in the canoe for the kids and me, while Hayley’s dog, Sugar Lily, chased us, and tried to climb into the canoe, while Tyler exclaimed “No Sugar!”  Then Wes would remove more of the water lettuce that made it’s way close to the shore. The entire time, my parents four, beautiful chickens enjoyed walking around and finding tasty treats at the edge of the pond while we were all out there. Later, Dad made us a path meandering through the woods behind the pond, which we all had to walk on on and explore several times.  This is just part of our adventures.  I’ll share more of them next week!

Uncle Wes, Haydyn and Tyler enjoy the playhouse
Uncle Wes, Haydyn and Tyler enjoy the playhouse
Lucy looks for tasty treats while Wes, dad and Haydyn work in the background
Lucy looks for tasty treats, while Wes, dad and Haydyn work in the background

Fresh off the easel: It has been another tough week for Wes as our malfunctioning computer ended up requiring another two trips to Knoxville. It ended up needing a new hard drive so Wes has spent most of the week restoring everything back the way it was … or as close as we can get it with our backups! We are both back to working on commissions now and I have posted below a couple of paintings we finished last month that I missed highlighting on the blog.

Butterfly painting miniature
“Pipevine Swallowtail on Obedient Plant” by Wes
3½ x 2½ inches
miniature painting of turkeys
“A Matter of Pride” by Rachelle
3½ x 3½ inches

Come See Our Paintings This Week:

Until December 22, 2012: The Yadkin Cultural Arts Center, Yadkinville, NC

Until December 31, 2012: Hiram Blauvelt Art Museum, Oradell, NJ

  • 22nd MonDak Heritage Center’s Miniature Art Show

Until December 29, 2012: The MonDak Heritage Center, Sidney, MT

Until January 6, 2013: Ironwood Gallery at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Tucson, AZ


To view all our upcoming exhibits:


 Have a loved one or a beloved pet you would like captured in miniature? Contact and commission us!

Don’t forget to “Sign Up” to receive an email each time I update the blog!

Until next time ~ Rachelle


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