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April 2011

Tree Thoughts & Memories

A Happy Arbor Day to you!

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 There is always Music amongst the trees in the Garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it. ~ Minnie Aumonier

It's tradition to plant a tree on this day, but that's not always a possibility. It's nice though, to at least take a few moments to admire one ...

Do you have a favorite? A tree that is "yours?" I have always had trees that were special to me. When I was little, it was the Hawthorne that grew in our front yard. It bloomed twice a year, with the prettiest pink blossoms. I remember I thought they looked like little fairy bouquets. :)

I also loved the Silver Birch that grew beside my grandparents' house. It caught the sunset each evening and almost seemed to come alive, all twinkly and golden. 

Today, I am quite partial to Sugar Maples for their vibrant colors at my favorite time of year. (And of course the sweet syrup they give us each spring.) I'm also a big fan of the majestic Oak Tree - for its great stature, little acorns and lovely leaves. 

The Apple Tree is another tree dear to me ... for its soft, fragrant blooms and of course its fall fruit. Apple trees feel homey and comforting, and they're just the right size for climbing. :)

And finally, the tree that means the most to me these days is the enormous Spruce Tree that grows on the west side of our house. "Birdy," as we affectionately call him, is very tall and very old. He provides wonderful shade and shelter, and is home to the many birds and critters we enjoy watching from our windows. 

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He appears to be crying here, but generally speaking we believe he's quite a content tree. :)

I leave you with one of my favorite pictures of Earlybird - taken a few years ago during a walk through our woods. He was just marveling over the trees, and spent a good bit of time hugging them.

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A boy after my own heart. :)

And now I'll wrap up, but speaking of EB, he had us up ridiculously early today (I won't tell you how early just suffice it to say it was ridiculous). On the upside however, I got to watch the Royal Wedding this morning! How fun. To all my British readers may I say, "Congratulations!" Kate looked absolutely beautiful, William was quite handsome and they just seemed so sweet together. I am so happy for the lovely couple. May God bless them with as many children as their hearts can hold and many happy, healthy years together.

Enjoy your Friday, my friends. I'll be back again sometime soon.

:)

It is not so much for its beauty that the forest makes a claim upon men's hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air that emanation from old trees, that so wonderfully changes and renews a weary spirit. ~ Robert Louis Stevenson


For Tree Week: An Arbor Day Centerpiece

Our Tree Week is keeping us very busy these days! Yesterday Earlybird and I made a "tree plant" in honor of Arbor Day. We thought it would make a nice centerpiece for our Learning Room table. :)

We worked out on the deck, since this project was a little messy.

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EB filled a terra cotta pot with potting mix. We could have used stones, birdseed, marbles, seashells, etc., but since our branches are still blooming, we decided to use soil.

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Next we "planted" our tree branches:

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We chose pussy willow branches, since we're particularly fond of a small willow that grows beside the river behind our house. I actually purchased these branches at a the market just before Easter, but any smallish twigs or branches would do. You'll probably find plenty in your backyard at this time of year. A nice activity would be a walk to collect fallen branches to use in your pot. (Very young children might like the concept of "saving" these scattered branches and giving them new life.)

Next we cut out small colorful tags for our tree:

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And on each tag we wrote something that trees give us ...

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The pot now sits in the middle of our learning room ...

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And tomorrow, on Arbor Day, it will be adorned with many tiny tags (tree blessings!), pretty bits of yarn and a few other simple decorations.

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Other activities this week include:

A "Trees of our Backyard Meet-and-Greet."

Arranging tree photos in nature journal.

Making bark rubbings.

Reading favorite tree books.

Researching who lives in a tree.

Making a "Trees of America" map.

Writing tree poems.

**

The weather is so very springy this morning ... soft sunshine mixed with clouds, a steady breeze, mild air, the promise of rain later today. At the moment EB and I are on the couch, watching the wind move through the woods. We can't decide if the trees are dancing or waving, but in any case, they're lovely to watch.

:)

Have a great Thursday, my friends!


Tree Week!

First of all, I hope you all had a nice weekend, and a lovely Easter Sunday. :)

Today begins "Tree Week" in our homeschool ... and that would be because, A. Friday is Arbor Day and, B. we just ❤ trees!

I kept our "tree" activity for today very simple (since it was rainy and cold and we were all plumb tuckered from weekend festivities). So after dropping Bookworm at the library (where he volunteers once a week) the younger two boys and I stopped at our local supermarket to search for things that come from trees ... 

To this end we found: apples, pears, dates, oranges, lemons, limes, coconuts, bananas, nuts - ETC. - as well as magazines, newspapers, toilet paper, paper towels, tissue paper, packages of copy paper, cardboard cereal (cracker, cookie, etc.) boxes, paper shopping bags, store flyers, and even my purchase receipt ... phew

Trees give us a lot, we decided!

Here are a few fuzzy photos we (Crackerjack and I) took on my new phone:

These would be the apples and pears.

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This would be me.

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This is Earlybird walking (dejectedly) away from a bin of marshmallows. (And he was so sure there were such things as Marshmallow Trees, too!)

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Pretty sure "Cheese Puffs" don't grow on trees either ... but we still bought a bag.

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And so our Tree Week is off and running! More details to come, but for now I wish you all a happy new week, and wonderful start to the new Easter season!

Have a great night, everyone ...

:)


Rhubarb on a Rainy Day

It's been a dark day here - rainy and raw. The older boys are at a birthday party, while Earlybird (still feeling poorly) and I are just home this afternoon. Taking it slow, keeping it quiet. He's watching a Disney movie on TV at the moment and I just put a rhubarb grunt in the oven. Dreary as it is outside, I must say it feels pretty cozy in here ...

Sometimes it takes a sudden stomach bug to make you realize what really needs to happen, and when it's time to put on the proverbial brakes. I've pared down our commitments this week so I can focus on what's most important: getting EB better, keeping the rest of us well, and preparing our hearts and home for Easter ...

So tonight I'll just quickly share that rhubarb grunt recipe with you all. I posted it here, a few years ago. Whole Foods had lovely stalks of ripe, red rhubarb this weekend and though it was pricey, I splurged ... because there's nothing like fresh rhubarb in season.

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Have a lovely evening, my friends.

:)


Hello!

I'm just popping in quickly to say I'm here and all's okay - just having some computer issues, and yesterday Earlybird came down with a stomach bug. I hope to post again this week, but in case I don't have time, please know I am thinking of you and wishing you all a Happy Holy Week.

Threebirdsinnest

Easter Blessings to You and Yours!


A (Mostly) Quiet Sunrise with Earlybird

One of our "spring learning" activities this week was to spend a quiet morning outside, watching the woods and waiting for the sun to rise. We did this on Tuesday morning, and it was just magical ...

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We crept out to the deck just before six (the sun was set to rise at 6:09).

Earlybird brought his binoculars so he wouldn't miss a thing ...

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As we waited, we saw (and heard) ducks flying overhead, a lone crow passing over as well as a flock of squeaky blackbirds.

There was a single chickadee serenading us from the maple tree - we tried to answer him in kind, but he fell silent once we did.

We could hear morning traffic passing by on a neighboring street, and the coffeemaker beeped at 6:07.

The woods crackled in anticipation as a stiff wind (and a few squirrels) moved through ... 

 And then suddenly, there was a faint light ...

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EB spotted it first!

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A vivid orange glow at 6:09 - like a burst of flame in the trees:

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Sunrise. 

We gathered our blankets and headed back inside - a little hungry, a bit chilled, but quite refreshed and invigorated. It was such a nice way to start the day ...

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Hope your day unfolds just as nicely. Have a good one, my friends!

:)


Making a Paper Egg Diorama (Part 2)

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Now, the second half of this project was MUCH easier than the first, and far less messy! Above you see the finished product, and I think it came out pretty cute! If I had the time (and energy, patience, etc.) to do it again, I think I would. I do think these dioramas would make lovely Easter gifts for the special people in your children's lives - something a grandparent, godparent or family friend would treasure.

Well, enough "PR" for now, lol - here's the nitty gritty:

First, I made sure the balloon was completely dry, and then I drew an oval shape on one side for a window:

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Using sharp scissors, I cut out the window (the balloon popped at this point):

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I pulled out the spent balloon and string, and here's what the inside of the egg looked like:

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Next we took squares of tissue paper, scrunched them into tight little balls, and glued them to the edge of the window:

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Almost done ...

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The final touches: a glittery green ribbon for the top, shredded paper "grass," a couple of Easter toys (part of Crackerjack's rubber ducky collection) and on Easter Sunday there will be a big, bright butterfly perched on top:

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If you have older children who love doing crafts (or younger ones with lots of patience!)  this would be a really wonderful spring project. Something special for Holy Week - a quiet activity for Good Friday, perhaps?

Well, thank you so much for stopping by today ... I hope you are all having a nice week. See you again very soon!

:)


Making a Paper Egg Diorama (Part 1)

This is a really neat (though decidedly messy) craft!

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Perhaps not for the younger (and less patient) set, but very cool all the same.

I found the instructions in that amazing resource, Family Fun magazine. Our egg might not come out as lovely as the one pictured in their instructions, but that hardly matters. It's all in the doing after all. ;)

Now, I haven't done paper mache in many years, though I do fondly remember making projects like this as a child. My mum was always crafting in one way or another, and I was always watching or helping. I do also remember Bookworm once made a life-size paper-mache mummy in a homeschool art class, but that was several years ago and I was busy chasing the younger two around, hardly paying attention ...

Anyhoo, I could see right away this was not going to be something my EB would participate in hands-on. MUCH too messy, finicky and time-consuming for his temperament. I did have him choose the colors (and he chose "rainbow" because he's all about rainbows these days) and he enjoyed watching me blow up the balloon. He also helped make the paper glue (a mixture of flour and water), but once I started getting all drippy and gloppy and staining my hands ("zombie" hands the older boys called them) he was outta there!

So let me walk you through what we (I) did. First, here are the basic materials:

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Colored tissue paper, a balloon, plain white paper, pretty ribbon, and something to nestle inside the finished diorama. Not shown ~ paper glue, string, scissors, Easter grass and other Easter scene materials.

The first thing we did after EB chose his colors, was to cut the tissue paper into 2" wide pieces. The same was done to the plain white paper. Then I blew up the balloon (ours happened to be blue, but it doesn't matter what color you choose) and tied it to a ceiling beam with some kitchen string. Lastly, EB and I mixed up the paper glue (1/4 c. flour + 1/2 c. water) and arranged all the materials into a small work station by the learning room table.

Then things really got messy ...

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I dipped a tissue paper square into the glue and then laid it flat on the balloon. (It was kind of tricky to keep the tissue flat and even. I found it helped to lay the piece flat, briefly, on the surface of the glue, rather than immerse it entirely.) Overlapping the tissue paper pieces, I covered the whole balloon in this way.

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This part was a bit fussy - the tissue could tear or bunch and wrinkle at times. And the glue (which I used up too quickly) got pretty, um ... colorful:

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It did get easier as I got the hang of it, and once the balloon was entirely covered with tissue paper squares, I added two layers of white paper squares. 

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I ran out of glue by the time I finished the first layer of white paper (shown above), so I whipped up another bowl of glue before starting in on the second white paper layer (shown below):

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Finally I applied one more layer of tissue paper. (Again, keeping things as smooth and even as possible - and again using too much glue, lol!)

I then left the balloon hanging to dry, and here's how it looked a few hours later:

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Now, as I write up this post (late Monday evening), it's still not dry. I think because I used so much glue it will take a little longer to set than was intentioned.

Hopefully by tomorrow it will be dry ... and at that point we will move on to the second part of this project post: creating the actual diorama!

***

And here it is, (very, very early) Tuesday morning ... I just checked the egg and it is nearly 100% dry and quite stiff! 

Looks like we'll be doing part two today, after all ... more on that later!

But for now, have a wonderful Tuesday, my friends ...

I'm off to "catch" the sunrise with Earlybird!

:)


Eggs & Nests ~ A Spring Learning Week

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Pictured above is an assembly of things we'll be using in our spring learning this week. All of these activities are meant for Earlybird - but the older boys will most likely pitch in here and there. :)

Also, I should note - I'm certainly not this organized every week! But I love how much smoother things go when I am. To plan out the week, I worked off an "idea" list I had on the subject, and after looking at our calendar (and the forecast) I assigned certain activities to certain days ...

So here are the details:

Our Theme this Week: Eggs & Nests

Monday:

Monday is the day we clean bedrooms. So today we'll make up our own spring "nests" - with cool cotton sheets and blankets. (What makes a nice nest for humans?) We'll talk about animal homes ~ who lives in nests besides birds? And what are other words for animal homes? (Dens, burrows, hives, dams, etc.)

We'll have an "Egg in a Nest" for breakfast.

We'll make a paper egg diorama.

On our way home from the library, we'll stop at the market ~ for eggs (observing all the different kinds), rhubarb, a small carton of cream, beets and purple grape juice (for dyes), and some fresh chicken.

We'll read A Nest Full of Eggs.

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≈∞≈∞≈∞≈

Tuesday:

As the day is forecast to be warm and clear, we'll watch the sunrise this morning. We'll wait for it outside on the deck - it rises right behind our woods. We'll try to be as quiet as possible - to listen for birdsong and for the sake of our neighbors - and we'll wonder at its glory.

We'll then head inside to make quiche for breakfast.

We'll take a nature walk - to find small leaves and/or ferns for egg craft. We'll look for nests in the trees (pretty soon the leaves will be out and we won't be able to see them!)

We'll dye eggs with natural dyes using beets, red cabbage, yellow onions, spinach, tumeric and purple grape juice.

We'll read An Egg is Quiet.

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≈∞≈∞≈∞≈

Wednesday:

Today we'll prepare a dozen or so egg shells for seeding.

We'll make scrambled eggs for breakfast.

We'll plant spring seeds in eggs shells; each seedling "nest" will get a little sign, and will be set in a sunny window.

We'll set up a small Easter craft basket for Mama.

We'll play with our egg magnet set.

We'll read Eggs.

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≈∞≈∞≈∞≈

Thursday:

Today we'll prepare nesting material for the birds: bits of shredded newspaper, hair (from hairbrushes) and easy-to-spot yarn. We'll place the materials out in the yard, near the feeders.

We'll hard-boil eggs - and compare an egg pre- and post- cooking.

We'll make observations of an egg, inside and out (raw and cooked). We'll draw and label diagrams. 

We'll work on sparkly, sequined Easter eggs. (This will mostly be my craft, with EB observing/helping as he can.)

We'll read The Egg.

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≈∞≈∞≈∞≈

Friday:

This morning we'll visit the chickens (and rooster) at our local farm.

We'll make egg salad for lunch.

We'll make an egg-shell mosaic, oval-shaped frame.

We'll bake date breads for Sunday.

We'll read the lovely Petook.

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≈∞≈∞≈∞≈

So those are the plans for Earlybird's spring learning this week! We may or may not get everything done, but I find it's always helpful to go forth with a list.

Well, I hope you all have a nice Monday ... it's supposed to get to 80 degrees here in our part of New England! I can hardly believe it. We will have all our windows open, letting that fresh spring air inside - and we might even get a fan going before the day is at its end!

Thanks so much for stopping by ... I will see you all again very soon.

:)


Friday Odds and Ends

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Well, my posting plans went completely awry this week! Busy-ness got the best of me, I guess. It was my turn to host Book Group, so I found myself reading every spare minute I got - taking notes, preparing questions, etc. Our clubs met yesterday afternoon; in Crackerjack's group we discussed Hoot, while Bookworm's teen group chatted about the Maximum Ride series ...

(By the way, speaking of books - don't forget another Barnes & Noble Educator Discount Week begins tomorrow! Anything new on your can't-wait-to-read-list?)

We also had a late night Wednesday - I was a chaperone for a "Night Hike," that the older boys participated in. Really fun night! Pizza first, then as the sun set (beautifully, I might add) we headed into the woods where we hiked for an hour - with 17 kids, 5 adults and plenty of flashlights to see by. Kind of spooky, a little treacherous in spots - but so very cool. The waterfall was my favorite part. :)

And soccer started this week - our first game's tomorrow! Bill's coaching Crackerjack's team again this year (with my brother as co-coach and Bookworm as coach's assistant). I'm team "secretary," lol - photocopying schedules, field maps and fielding messages from players who need rides, etc. The weekend weather looks to be beautiful so it should be a great season kick-off!

***

Now, unfortunately, with all this running around, Earlybird and I didn't get to do many of the "Eggs and Nests" activities I had planned. So I'll stretch that theme into next week (which is tentatively our "Spring Cleaning" week). I know I've said this before, but "more on all that soon." :)

***

While I'm here I'd like to post the delicious Penuche Frosting my mum used for the Rose Sunday cake. This is for Jennifer. :)

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1 1/2 tablespoons milk

1 cup confectionary sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Melt vanilla in saucepan. Add brown sugar and stir until blended. Slowly add milk, mix well and bring to boil. Cool 10 minutes. Add confectionary sugar and beat until smooth.

This frosting - atop whatever cakey vehicle you choose - tastes especially divine with a cup of coffee. The flavors together remind me of a caramel latte. Yum.

***

My mum brought over some small picture frames for me yesterday, and among them was this - my 2nd grade school picture! The boys got a kick out of seeing such a "young" Mama, but Earlybird was insisting it was a picture of Crackerjack, lol! (Which, understandably, didn't please CJ too much.)

Mein2ndgrade

(I had long hair for most of my childhood, but this was that "Dorothy Hamill" so very popular in those days. And just look at those teeth, lol! This was pre-braces, obviously.)

***

Now, both Mary and Lynette have recently left comments about planners ... this is the time of year when the academic planners start showing up in the shops. Blue Sky was my favorite month-at-a-glance planner for years - and I'm always tempted to jump ship (new planners are like my kryptonite, lol) - but for now I'll stick with my homemade binder. It's working well for me so I'll keep plugging on. :) I do need to pick up new file folders for the crate, however - I do the change up next season (May-June) so I'll be needing fresh supplies very soon!

***

And before I go, I'd like to report in for Elizabeth (and anyone else who suffers from fruit flies as we do) that "Petey," our Venus fly trap, is not doing too much for the situation. Not yet, anyways. At last count - and to our best knowledge - he's eaten only one fruit fly so far. I'll cut him some slack, though - he is only one plant after all - and the fruit flies number in the dozens at least! I will say, Bookworm has found fair success using a handheld vacuum to chase the little buggers down, and I'm considering trying something like this. I really must get these flies out of here before Easter - they are completely obnoxious in general, but especially when it comes to dinner parties!

***

Oh, and one more thing! I can't believe I almost forgot to tell you all about this ...

Last week, Erin left me a comment and linked me to an Etsy shop featuring lovely wooden saint dolls: Saint Anne's Pixies. You simply must take a look. The tiny dolls are beautifully hand-painted and there are so many to choose from! Something for everyone, very reasonably priced and a portion of the shop's profits go to Food for the Poor. I ordered a "Saint Francis" for our nature table and (shhhh ...) a "Saint Emily" for my cousin's daughter who'll make her First Holy Communion at the end of the month ...

***

Ok, so there are my "odds and ends" for this Friday. Rambling and random, but there you go. I hope your week has been a good one, busy or quiet, or somewhere in between. Thanks so much for stopping by ... I'll see you again very soon!

:)


A Crafty, Cloudy Morning

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Actually, there was weak sunlight for a time, as you can see in some of the pictures. The morning air was mild, and the sky had that April mix of deep gray and soft light. While the older boys dug into geometry and science, Earlybird and I set aside our flash cards and dug out the paints ...

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Because of EB's sensitivities, we use all-natural, plant-dyed art materials whenever possible. The ones he's using above are made by Clementine.

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While EB worked on his watercolors, I set out my own painting project:

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Our word-of-the-month for April:

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I'm in a yellow mood as you can see!

Next we did some paper crafting and I changed up the bulletin board ...

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Our tree this month is an apple tree* (in March it was a sugar maple). I cut tiny leaves from two shades of green card stock, and scrunched up bits of red tissue for the tiny buds ... 

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Then I placed our spring nature discovery cards all around the tree, and added the word APRIL at the top (yellow card stock, small butterfly stickers).

*I have a real soft spot for apple trees in the spring. We live not far from a beautiful apple orchard which we visit throughout the year. In April -  but even more so in May - an apple tree is just breathtaking. This book is an absolute favorite of mine for showing the changes an apple tree undergoes through the year.

Now, this has nothing to do with crafting, but I wanted to show you this:

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The boys picked ^ this ^ out when we stopped by the nursery this weekend. I was looking for pastel pansies and came home with a carnivorous plant instead! We have an overabundance of fruit flies in the house at the moment (thanks to Bill's overzealous composting) so the boys thought "Petey" might be able to help us out. EB, however, is completely freaked out by the "hungry," "bug-eating" plant and wants absolutely nothing to do with it, lol. 
***
Well, thanks so much for stopping by today ... hope your Wednesday is a good one!
See you again very soon ...
:)

An Early Spring Nature Walk

Well, thankfully all the snow is gone, but it still looks pretty much like Winter out there. If we look (and listen) closely, though, there are hints of Spring all over the place. I led the boys on our first "official" nature walk of the new year last week. Our mission: to look for as many signs of new life as we could ...

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Crackerjack found a neat rock by the vernal pool. It went right into his collection bag.

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We spotted vibrant green moss ...

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And a surprising amount of ferns ...

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Lots of skunk cabbage popping up along the riverbanks ...

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I have no idea what this is, but it was neat to see something blooming!

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This is a huge evergreen that fell straight across the river. Don't think it escaped my kids' attention it would make a perfect bridge.

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Some kind of fungus growing on a fallen tree.

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I love the way some things blush red before they turn green ...

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This is "our" vernal pool - it's located just a bit further than a stone's throw behind our backyard. Very soon we'll start hearing peepers at night.

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This garter snake was a really neat surprise! These harmless creatures hibernate through winter, so seeing them out and about again is a sure sign of spring! 

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So in the end, it was a more interesting walk than I thought it would be! Our plan is to take Friday nature walks every week we can.

Now, this is a terrible picture, but it's very meaningful to me. First of all, look at all those knobby little leaf buds! But even more exciting - see the little black birds dotting the branches? These are red-winged blackbirds - we had a huge flock of them descend on our neighborhood recently. They make quite a racket (they sound like squeaky gates) and startle at the slightest sound or activity. They return every spring and when they arrive we know winter is over.

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These next two pictures are from Saturday morning. We noticed some very large birds circling our street and luckily they perched right on top of our neighbor's chimney. Bookworm took these pictures:

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They are turkey vultures! And we're pretty sure this is courting behavior.

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And finally, just look who we saw strolling down our street this morning!

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Not to be confused with the aforementioned turkey vultures, this is a real honest-to-goodness wild turkey! I was just stepping out to get the morning paper, when I saw this handsome fella strutting past my neighbor's house just as casual as you please.

You just never know when you might have a neat nature moment!

Well, thanks so much for stopping by today - I hope your week's off to a good start. We're expecting a very mild, rainy day here - we might even hear a rumble of thunder! After the rain passes through, the rest of the week looks pretty sunny and mild - so there will surely be even more to see on our next nature walk!

Have a great day, my friends ~ see you all again very soon ...

:)


Our Rose Sunday Lunch

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And such a lovely day it was! The weather behaved itself quite nicely - the sun was shining and the air warmed to near 60 degrees. We held a family lunch here at our house, celebrating Rose (aka Laetare) Sunday and just being together.

Above you see the little pots of flowers EB and I put together last week. It's hard to tell from the pictures, but they did tint a soft shade of "rose" rather nicely. (And the edges of the petals were lined in soft red.)

I hung our forsythia wreath on the deck door early in the day. This just says "springtime" to me:

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This is the cake my mum made ~ homemade vanilla with penuche frosting (and white Wilton roses as garnish). It was absolutely delicious!

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I had planned to make a rhubarb crumble for our lunch - because A. it's very "rosy" in color and B. it's so seasonally appropriate to early April. Or so I thought ... but I couldn't find it anywhere! Maybe I'm a bit early, or maybe Spring was a bit late - but I am now resolved to plant our own rhubarb this year. No more relying on local markets! ;)

Anyhoo, the menu came together quite nicely - we had chicken pie, asparagus, potatoes (with carrots and onions), tossed salad, rice pilaf ... and macaroni and cheese (for the pickier eaters among us). Bill picked up a cherry pie and I served it warm, alongside Mum's cake, with vanilla ice cream and freshly brewed coffee.

All very delicious!

But visiting with our family was the real highlight of the day. It had been some time since we'd all been together ...

Here are Uncle Matt and Earlybird (I think he was showing EB a game on his IPhone):

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Grandma and EB playing with EB's new train set:

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Bookworm with his nose buried in a book (as per usual), Crackerjack smelling his socks (don't ask), EB all pink-cheeked and spent after running around outside - and Aunt Ami just soaking it all in:

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Nothing like a little post-dinner couch time for bringing out the sillies:

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And while we're being a little silly, CJ asked me to show you his new "pirate" ducks:

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The two grandfathers going over upcoming travel plans - Grandpa on the left (Bill's dad) and Papa on the right (my dad):

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My beautiful mum, without whose help I'd never pull these things all together:

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All of us (or most of us) 'round the dinner table:

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EB just relishes family parties ... and ice cream. :)

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Some lovely pansies, a gift from my mother-in-law:

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And a last look at our little Rose Sunday "roses" ...

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They only blushed a little, but they looked and smelled so sweet. I also scattered fragrant, dried rose petals across the tabletop.

And now Sunday has come and gone, and our house is (relatively) quiet after all that happy commotion. (Actually it's quiet mostly because I'm writing this before all my kids are up, lol!) The day is dawning so prettily right now - the sky out my east-facing window is all peach, pink and soft blue. Such a nice way to start the day - thinking about my family, thinking about my day ... and savoring a hot cup of coffee in bed.

:)

Well, I thank you for stopping by and taking a peek at what we've been up to. A new week is upon us, and it looks to be another busy one! But whatever the week brings, I hope it's a good one for you. 

See you all again very soon!


Happy Birthday, Smokey!

  Smokeycupcake

(The likeness is uncanny, isn't it?)

As I mentioned earlier this week, our dear little cat turned 20 this week! Yesterday, in fact, was his birthday. I'm happy to report, he had a very nice day - lots of extra loving, a second can of food, long naps by the fireplace and a wee bit of catnip to boot. For our Friday baking, Earlybird and I made little lamb cupcakes - but I tinted a small amount of the frosting with a few teaspoons of cocoa powder and made one of the cupcakes look a little (a very little, lol) like Smokey.

Now, if you've followed my blog for any length of time you know that I'm a huge animal lover. I might have grown up with dogs (and birds, fish and hamsters) but after 20 years and five cats, I am now a truly confirmed cat person. It's hard to believe we only have one cat now, when we once had five ... yes, five! The story of how we came to own five cats is described in this long-ago post, a tribute to our first cat to pass, Mama Kitty. 

To be honest, Smokey is definitely slowing down. Having gone through four kitty deaths already I'm starting to recognize the signs - he's very thin, a little disoriented at times, and he's walking a bit lame. But he's also eating regularly, using his box, still jumping up on our beds, etc. He's basically doing pretty well, but I know our time with him is nearing its end. Whether we have months or even another year, it will never be quite enough. But I'm very grateful we've had him in our life - that he's lived so long and so well.

***

Well, thanks so much for stopping by today, ... I'm off now to get this day rolling. We have a busy Saturday ahead - lots to do, errands to run, a family gathering to prepare for ... 

Have a great weekend, everyone ~ I will see you all again very soon.

:)


April Fool's?

Aprilfoolsnow3

'Fraid not.

Just look at my precious little snowdrops smothered by all that snow! The poor things. Well, the good news is ~ the high temps for the next few days are 50, 55 and 65 degrees ...  so this will all melt really fast. And hopefully all the newly sprung blossoms and buds will hang in there. 

Off to get the day started ... be back again soon!

Happy April!