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Perchance to dream ...


Like Jenn, Elizabeth, Ruth and Margaret before me, tonight I am sharing what's by my bedside. :)

I had planned to photograph the whole bed, kit and caboodle, as I expected my new bedding would have arrived by now - but only the "kit" arrived today; the "caboodle," according to UPS, is still somewhere in Minnesota. See that tiny bit of blue blanket in the lower right hand corner? That part's new. :)

Back to the nightstand, though. I have the usual things here - a lamp, a small clock (with an alarm I have no use for), a statue of Our Lady, my Badger Balm and my most favorite, all-purpose, unscented lotion. Also, my January and February issues of MSL and several books:

That's all - it's a very small nightstand, I'm afraid. On rare occasions, there might also be a mug of something hot here, but that creates a rather dicey situation. For one thing, there's the inevitable spillage - and no cup of tea is worth that much extra laundry. And for another thing, nothing draws children's attention faster than their mother resting in bed with a hot cup of tea. It's like an imbedded sensor goes off or something:

Hey! Mother's resting *and* she has tea! Let's go get her!

All righty then, enough talk - it's now officially time for bed! Friday's winding down and the weekend stretches before us ... I hope it's a very happy one for you and yours. :)

The Loveliness of Handmade Gifts

There's an old saying that goes, "It's not the gift, but the thought that counts." TheLoveliness_logo_4 true beauty of a handmade gift is, it's both. Because a gift that comes from your hands, comes by way of your heart ~ it's a little bit of your love all wrapped up in ribbons.

I am so pleased and honored to be your hostess for The Loveliness of Handmade Gifts. Before we begin, I'd like to thank everyone who contributed to today's Fair! Reading through your varied and valuable ideas, I have to say, your families are truly blessed to have you crafty and generous ladies! And we are blessed to have a peek into your holiday plans, for they are very inspiring!

So fire up your glue guns, everyone ~ Christmas is just 48 days away! Those seven weeks will fly by, but there's still plenty of time to crank out at least a few handmade gifts this year. I urge you to grab a pen and some paper (not to mention a hot cup of tea) before you begin perusing all the lovely links in this post. I know you will come away raring to craft and create!

But that's enough from me, let's get started with our first handmade gift idea, some heavenly soaps from Genevieve ...

"Last year my daughter Annie (then 7) and I experimented with making handmade gifts using melt-and-pour soap! We bough blocks of clear and blocks of white soap from and lots of different molds, colorings and scents. We checked books out of the library to inspire our designs. We ended up perfecting a guardian angel soap that was a huge hit with our family and friends. Using white soap, we made cherubs with wings, which we then embedded in oval bars of clear soap. We scented them with a soft fragrance and wrapped them in heavenly blue opalescent transparent papers. For the men, we used gold-colored soap and frankincense and myrrh fragrance and eagle molds. All the recipients expressed delight over the beauty and fragrances of their gifts. Hope this inspires some! This year we may try candles!"

Now let's stop by Rebeca's and admire her beautiful handsewn quilts. She has wisely learned that it's all about the found moments and fond memories.

Sarah and her family are also finding time for crafting, continuing a special Christmas tradition by knitting for the world.

Stop by and see Ann's handmade Christmas - family treasures abound, from homemade cards to a gorgeous nativity set, sunny window stars, and a Madonna and Child ornament I can't wait to try!

Over at Tracy's Pinewood Castle, she's pressing summer flowers into service - as glorious pressed flower bookmarks!

Maria shares a sneek peek at the special knitted surprises in store for her family this Christmas. (Shhh, don't tell!)


A basket of homebaked cookies, presented in pretty wax bags ...

Therese's mom tells us about her favorite handmade Christmas gift ~ thread crochet snowflakes:

"I don't have a camera that allows me to scan photos of them, but they make a lovely, relatively easy-to-make gift. The simplest ones take only a few basic stitches, but as your skills advance, they can become very elaborate and even three-dimensional." They sound lovely!

Ooh, and wait till you see the prettiest little potpourri pies made by Cay and her girls! They're delicious and darling!

Mary Ellen's gifts will feed you body and soul ~ check out her beautiful jars filled with herbal goodies and coffee delights!

Jessica's children will have lots of fun making ornaments and the whole family will enjoy treats from the kitchen - all yummy, and all made with love!

Candace shares lots of ideas for clever and creative homemade cards, and in a second post, some scrumptious homemade treats!


Gods-eye ornaments make nice gifts for a pastor or teacher ...

And Beth shares these ideas ...

"Both my sons requested their own oven mitts for Christmas. I have made a few pair in the past, and they want some for all their cooking adventures. My youngest also requested a chef's hat. Of course I love to make lots of handmade items including felt animals, pin cushions, coasters and mostly baby/lap quilts. I've done some mini quilts as well. They can be viewed throughout my blog."

Nori is following in her grandmother's footsteps by working on lots of crafty ideas this Christmas. I can't wait to try out that old fashioned punchneedle hobby!

These hand-sewn ballet bags by Megan are too-too adorable! What lucky little girls!

And speaking of lucky little girls, Cici's daughter will be so blessed by her own little homemade sewing kit!

Meredith reminds us that handmade is best, sharing fabulous foodie gifts and linking us to her (lovely!) new handcraft blog, Threads of Love.


A plate of lemon snowballs with a stash of lemon tea tucked around.

Amy very kindly left me a comment with her exciting ideas for the season ...

"I'm making terrariums for my friends out of antique mason jars. They will have beautiful miniature red rose plants inside the jars. I will be baking up a storm, giving work/school acquaintances, neighbors and the mailman self-decorated sugar cookies and ginger snaps wrapped in cute little white paper lunchbags (purchased at the Dollar Tree store, of couse!). I am planning on making handmade photo books for the family with pictures from our annual beach trip. I've never done handmade book binding before so this will be an experiment. Oh, and I will be knitting mittens for my friends out of this gorgeous recycled silk yarn I got from eBay for next to nothing. We are also making homemade moonshine for our mutual friends and giving out honey from our hives (we're backyard beekeepers!)."

Jennifer's lovely daughter Marianna models a sheer and shimmery stole - just perfect for a day at sea (or otherwise!).

Stef's post is positively chock-full of handmade gift ideas - delicious foods and handmade rosaries, packaging tips and thoughts on theme baskets, too!

Colleen shares wonderful thoughts on why a handmade Christmas is in order for her family this year. Her plans sound lovely!


Styrofoam + sequins = pretty ornaments for someone's tree ...

Terry has started a blog just for sharing her Posh Baskets and wonderful gift basket ideas (lucky for us!).

Cindy shares a beautiful array of handmade cards - in all kinds of styles! I am thrilled by her wreath instructions, too - I'm hankering to try that very craft!

Michelle got an early start on her handcrafted Christmas, but she still feels she has miles to go ... one thing's for sure, she has lots of family support!

Erin shares the tale of her son's gift to his mother ~ a special surprise, hand-built with love.

Laura has been busy crafting Christmas - with colorful soaps, candy bark, dipped spoons, etc. - but wait till you see the beaded rosary made by her husband!

Ann shares the (beautiful!) instructions for making a peace dove Christmas card, and tucked inside are words that describe the best gift of all.

I love Elena's idea this year to write more handwritten and heartfelt notes. What a beautiful tradition to begin - and at the best time of year!


Easy-peasy no-sew puppet curtains, in prints reflecting the seasons.

And if I may quote from Elena in my own farewell note for the day ...

"Sharing one's self is always the best gift of all!"

So give it some thought ... what hobby comes from your heart? Why not make it a handmade holiday this year?

Thank you so much for joining me today! I hope you all, like me, are positively inspired by all the creative, loving ideas shared here! There are just two days till the weekend, my friends ~ shall we meet at the craft store bright and early Saturday morning? You bring the checklist, I'll bring the coffee!

Have a happy, crafty day! :) 

Fruit & Flour: Summer at its Best!

In honor of The Loveliness of Summer Food, hosted by Sarah at Plainsong today, I'veLoveliness_logo_2 been considering the delicious delights that only a season of long warm days can bring ... and to my mind there is no finer summer food than the bountiful harvest of farm fresh fruits and vegetables. Particularly those gems of the earth that can be used to prepare an endless array of scrumptious baked goods:

  • strawberries
  • cherries
  • raspberries
  • blackberries
  • blueberries
  • peaches
  • plums
  • nectarines
  • melon
  • corn
  • squash
  • apples (August varieties)

Now there are some who say that when produce is at its peak, you really need no embellishment - that the perfect way to enjoy a piece of sun-ripened fruit is when it's simple and fresh. Well, I like fresh fruit as much as the next gal, but add a little flour, sugar and butter and now you're talking summer! :)

So here are my three favorite ways to enjoy (or as the case may be, use up) the lovely fruits of the season ...

~ First would be a Fruit Crisp Topping, one you can keep handy in an air-tight container should you find yourself blessed with a glut of, say, soft peaches or early apples. A baked fruit crisp is perhaps my husband's favorite dessert of all - especially when paired with either vanilla yogurt or lemon sorbet (I myself would not say no to a dollop of freshly whipped cream).

~ Second on the list would be a delicious pie crust in which to bake all manner of summer sweets and savories. One fine August day, you might find yourself with a bumper crop of berries and wouldn't it be ideal if you had a few dough balls in the freezer for just such a happy occurence?

My Grandma's Basic Pie Crust

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 whole egg, lightly beaten
  • 4-5 tablespoons cold water

Place flour and salt in mixing bowl; cut in butter (tablespoon size pieces) until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the eggs and water, stiring the mixture with a fork to make a dough. Add a little more water if it is too dry. Divide into two balls, wrap each in plastic wrap and chill 30 minutes. Makes 2 9-inch crusts.

~ And third, our good old standby:

Mix-and-Match Quick Bread

  • 3 cups flour (whole wheat and white make a nice blend)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 teaspoons cinnamon (we play with this element ~ ginger, cloves etc.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup oil
  • 2 cups sugar (we cut this down and see very little difference)
  • 2 cups Mix-N-Match (see list below)
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla (use pure vanilla not imitation)
  • 1 cup chopped nuts or seeds (we leave these out)

Sift together dry ingredients. In separate bowl, beat eggs; add oil and sugar; cream together. Stir in Mix-N-Match and vanilla. Add dry ingredients; mix well. Stir in nuts. Spoon into two well-greased loaf pans. Bake at 325 degrees F. for 1 hour. When cool, wrap bread in foil; label and freeze. Makes 2 loaves.

Mix-N-Match (one of more of the following to equal 2 cups) *we've used this ingredient before

  • Apples, grated or chopped*
  • Applesauce*
  • Apricots
  • Bananas, mashed or chopped*
  • Berries*
  • Carrots, cooked and mashed or grated*
  • Cherries
  • Coconut
  • Cranberries, dry or raw, chopped*
  • Dates or figs, pitted and finely chopped*
  • Lemon, 1/2 cup juice
  • Marmalade (omit one cup sugar)*
  • Mincemeat
  • Oranges, chopped
  • Orange juice, 1/2 cup juice
  • Peaches, fresh or canned, chopped* (we've also used peach butter)
  • Pears, fresh or canned, chopped* (we also like to use pearsauce)
  • Pineapple
  • Prunes, chopped
  • Pumpkin, canned* (we like fresh, cooked and mashed too)
  • Raisins*
  • Rhubarb, finely chopped (add 1/2 cup more sugar)*
  • Strawberries, well drained* (I dice them)
  • Sweet potato or yams, cooked and mashed or grated*
  • Zucchini, grated and well drained*

~ And lastly, I'd like to add a blurb in here from a post I did some time ago, imagining A Year in a Baker's Kitchen ...

Summer finds us spending more time outside than in, and that's as it should be ... but there's still plenty of opportunity for baking! Fresh produce is at its most plentiful, so stop by the farm stand and pick up a bunch, a bushel or peck!

Summer days bring simple but glorious delights, like ...

Now, don't forget to stop by Sarah's for the Loveliness of Summer Food! You might want to grab a few blank recipe cards while you're at it! ;)

Have a fabulous Sunday, my friends!

The Loveliness of Fathers ...

Loveliness_logo... is up at Paula's Catholic Harvest today! Stop by for a tour of posts dedicated to honoring the men in our lives. Thank you, Paula ~ you did a wonderful job!!

Our Father's Day was very nice. We surprised Bill early in the morning with his rock (see earlier post) and told him to keep it on his desk at work to remind him that we think ... he rocks! :)(This was Crackerjack's idea, by the way ~ I think it was a cute one!)

After Mass we had mum and dad back for a big breakfast - scrambled eggs, bacon, pancakes with blueberry syrup, fruit salad, yogurt, granola and hot coffee. Yum! The boys handed out cards they had made with pictures of bicycles they had drawn and cut out from the sales flyers. This is our gift to Bill this year - a new bike to replace his old (really old) one. Considering how much he enjoys bike rides with the boys this will be a very useful gift! My folks gave him Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - on 23 CD's! He's thrilled ~ he loves listening to books-on-tape during his commute.

But instead of rushing out to purchase a new bike yesterday Bill_at_workafternoon, Bill decided to do some research into what kind he should get. Instead, as soon as he'd changed into his work clothes, he ran over to the hardware store and bought loads of lumber with which to frame (finally!) our family room windows! He spent the rest of the afternoon measuring, cutting and hammering away. Now, this might sound like no way to spend a Father's Day - laboring instead of relaxing - but actually, Bill was pleased to do so. He loves woodworking, but it seems he hardly ever finds the time to do it! And of course I'm pleased to have my family room (almost) finished off at long last. It might be time to start looking for curtains! ;)

I made one of Bill's favorite suppers last night - baked chicken (coated with cheddar cracker crumbs) with yellow peppers and roasted potatoes. For dessert - chocolate-chip pan cookies. Yum, once again!

Before I go, I'd like to share with you a prayer card that was handed out at church yesterday morning.

Dear Father in Heaven,

May we remember that children need:

Time and Attention,

Love and Patience,

Discipline and Guidance,

Caring and Affection,

Trusting and Security,

Laughter and Play.

Like Joseph, father of Jesus, may we also be a good role model and be the best example for our children.


A good reminder for all of us who are blessed with children in our lives. Have a lovely day, everyone!

Field Day ~ The (Late) Late Spring Edition!


"In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous."

This quote by Aristotle is perfect for today, for the fleeting and frenzied season of Late Spring is indeed a marvelous time of the year. No matter where you live, wherever you look there's something amazing to see and to do! There are gardens to plant, flowers to pick, birds to watch, bugs to catch, woods to hike, creeks to cross and ... well, I could go on and on. But instead, I will let my Field Day friends do that for me. :)

First though, please let me thank you all for your patience and understanding throughout the Field Day postponement. I am grateful to everyone who participated and I appreciate your enthusiasm and support! (And if by some chance I missed you - if you don't see your post here - please send me an email, or leave me a comment, and I will remedy the situation ASAP!)

Without further ado, let's set out for our Late Spring Field Day! There are many wonderful posts to share, and, thanks again to my friend Marcie, many gorgeous photos as well. Field Day would not be the same without them!

To begin, let's check in with Silvia at Po Moyemu as she shares Images from Her Rural Life including an undercover turtle, a nest-that-almost-was, a busy bee and some very funny chickens. Next she describes the joys of Gardenschooling with her son - what a terrific home-learning day! And finally Silvia shares her surprise when she recently discovered a Skink in Her Yard!

Speaking of skinks (a creature I'd barely heard of before, and here I now have two to admire) ...


Marcie's husband found this fellow hanging out in their carport!

Becky at Farm School delved Into the Woods with her family and came home with a bountiful spring harvest ~ seven liters of morel mushrooms! We found some morels last year too, but we just stared at them, lol. Becky had the forethought to make the most of them, and in a most delicious way!

Rose at Pretty in Pink shares a montage of breathtaking pictures from her Victorian yard ~ and one can see why she has the perfect setting for a fabulous Late Spring Field Day. Stop by to admire her lush gardens - so colorful and interesting!

Jennifer at As Cozy as Spring also has a most lovely and lively garden - lovely for its blooms, lively for its visitors! Stop by and take a peek in her Backyard Guide Book. There are butterflies today ~ perhaps spiders tomorrow?


A butterfly resting in Marcie's Bradford Pear.

Jenny at Wildwood Cottage has seen a rainy spring, but it has hardly dampened the spirit of her lovely gardens. She was inspired by Tasha Tudor (one of my favorite authors) to take us on a late spring garden tour of her beautiful Flowers!

As a new mother, Melissa at Here in the Bonny Glen, was inspired to seek out special places to visit with her children ~ Some Breezy Open Wherein it Seemeth Always Afternoon. In her post, she remembers old haunts and treasured memories, while appreciating new memories in the making.

Joann at Ten Kids and a Dog shares many delightful photographs throughout her post describing the way Late Spring is unfolding in her neck of the northern woods.

While over at Cay's Cajun Cottage, my dear friend shares her lovely Gardens in Bloom. There's so much to see (and yes, almost smell!) with blossoms unfolding, in-waiting and in paint on paper!


A bumblebee greeting a bright lily.

Maureen at Trinity Prep School sent her children out in the yard to explore and take plenty of Fotos for their Far-Away Father. Stop in and cast your vote for your favorite shot - they're all lovely!

Divina at The Bean Sprout enjoyed a special day by the seashore with her family and shares why B is for Birds at the Beach. That's quite a list of birds to see, Divina! What fun your Little Man must be having.

Back in the April Early Spring Field Day, Theresa at Lapaz Farm, showed us how to construct inexpensive nets for a stream nature study. In today's post, she announces "We're Back with a Splash" and shares with us all the cool and interesting things they found in their stream. Don't miss their photobucket slide show for even more exciting images!

Alice at Cottage Blessings always has wonderful activities planned for her children, and recently, after a whirlwind spring "at the theater," she found it time to announce, a Return to our Regularly Scheduled May. First up ~ a lovely, sentimental walk through the grounds of a local and beloved garden.


A honeybee clinging to a thistle.

Spring has brought many delights for Dani and family at Artful Thoughts. In their Spring Nature Journals they have captured the sights and sense of spring itself (love the twig binding!). Her son Quinn's Spring Lapbook, filled with memories and information, will be an amazing keepsake for years to come. And I am sure Quinn will also long remember the adorable Fairy House crafted by his older brothers especially for him.

Meadowlarks, tanagers and buntings - oh, my! And how about those hummers?! Meredith at Nature's Sweetness has been enjoying myriad Backyard Bird Tales with her dear children. What a happy spring for them all, with so much bright color to behold and so many sweet songs to learn!

Mary Chris has found the joys of nature in her own Little Pocket as well as while out and about. She takes us along on a few Late Spring Field Days to see turtles, bluebells and some very smart fish. All that is quite exciting, but I have to say, I would just love to join Mary Chris for that morning coffee in the midst of her lovely backyard.

Nissa from Simple Gifts shares with us two lovely spring photos, capturing the busy-ness of spring. The first shows a nesting catbird in her family's French lilac:


And the next shows a "most perfect" beaver lodge and dam in the sparkling spring sunshine:


Next we have Jen at Daughter of the King, who shares some wonderful photos from a weekend spent enjoying Springtime in Maine. Beautiful flowers, scenic vistas and interesting wildlife to boot!

Suzanne at Adventures in Daily Living takes us on a Sunday Garden Tour with a list of all the beauties growing in her garden. What a lovely June afternoon, despite all the rain.

Susan at Chicken Spaghetti talks about three of my most favorite things in her Field Day post. In Bird Books for Children, you will find an extensive list of literature for children of all ages. I can't wait to check them out, for you all know how I feel about birds. In fact at this very moment I am straining my eyes to see just what bird that is perching outside my computer desk window ...

And Speaking of Perching, Michelle at Living Waters has been watching a lovely pair of songbirds along with her children who have dubbed the pair Derek and Odette. Could a nest be any more romantic than one situated in a basket of fragrant spring flowers?


Minding his own business, just being a frog. :)

Meanwhile, Leticia at Cause of our Joy has started a lovely new tradition - Sundays at the Nature Preserve. How fortunate are her children to have a father so knowledgeable and eager to share his love of nature with his family. I can't wait to see more!

Marjorie always has fascinating and inspiring nature posts at her blog, Lettres de mon Moulin. Today is no exception - as her family explores those Shelled Wonders - Turtles and Crayfish. Marjorie recounts their newly made armored acquaintances and offers excellent tips for our own study should the opportunity ever present itself. (Fingers crossed!)

Spring has arrived at long last up north, and Angela's dear family has shifted into summer mode. At Three Plus Two there are plenty of Birds, Bugs and Botany to observe and explore. I predict a very busy and happy summer for them all!

And here comes dear Waltzing Matilda who offers us some lovely photographs for Field Day, all hallmarks of the late spring season (well, maybe except for that "wolf," lol). Stop by to see a passing spring rain, vibrant garden blooms and a spectacular rainbow!

And speaking of rainbows ...


An evening rain brought this beauty to Marcie's neighborhood!

So much of the thrill in birding lies in discovering a new bird at your feeders. Ruth and family at Just Another Day in Paradise have had a wonderful time drawing in new birds to observe. Check out her Birdwatching archive to join in their excitement!

Donna at Moments Like These is also raising several Birders in Training. A recent trip to a nature preserve yielded many sightings of several new species. Take a peek at Donna's Baltimore oriole pictures - just lovely! She offers some great birding tips as well. (Ooh, and this just in - Birders in Training Part II! What a shot!)

As you all know, I love a good nature mystery, and Kimberlee at Pondered in My Heart had an intriguing Empty Nest Syndrome on her hands recently! Some thoughtful field work ensued, and the mystery was at long last solved ... what could have happened to those eggs? Stop in and find out!


The miracle of spring - new life unfolding!

Tiany at Less of Me ~ More of Him shares with us a collection of amazing photos from a Late Spring Field Day in her Backyard. What a habitat she has created - filled with lizards, frogs, butterflies, geese and more. Check out that butterfly bush - beautiful!

Kristen at Adventures in Bodenburg takes us along on a Memorial Day trip to a nearby creek. They had such fun and found some neat rocks! Next she shares a post about The Pumpkin Patch 2007 (and Seed Companies). I loved reading about her pumpkins which are usually thought of as a fall symbol, but part of the delight of spring is the promise it makes toward fall!

Maria at Tater Tots and Ladybug Love shares an absolutely charming photo essay, reminding us of the Lazy Summer Days in Late Spring. So true! I love how the seasons tread on each other's toes sometimes. Next she shares a family adventure which consisted of Bikes, Turtles, Blades and Burritos. What a fun day!

Beth at Woman of the Tiger Moon spends much time in her yarden (love that) with her dear little son, Larkin, a boy after his Mama's green heart! Grab a cup of coffee and join them for Reflections on One Good Spring Morning - and don't miss those bunny pictures!

Beth at Simply Sewn has lots of nature to share ~ inspiration on the farm (love the kitty!), strawberries and colorful quilts (again, love the cat), princes of butterflies and ladybugs, and a museum visit (complete with frogs) too!!

Plus Beth shares two grand photos of her kids enjoying the very best kind of Field Day - a real one!



I just had to wrap up my post with that above shot. It is truly the essence of nature study with children - getting them out there and letting them take such JOY in our marvelous world!!

As always, I thank you all for joining me on this Late Spring Field Day. I hope you'll consider a return visit later on in the summer - right about first harvest, perhaps? Mid-August or so?

For, already spring fever is winding down, and very soon the hazy-lazy days of summer will set in ...

The afternoons will hum with the drone of bees and cicadas. The sun will bare down on us, and we will retreat to the shade and the cool of indoors. Storm clouds will gather in the west and the wind will scarcely move - nor will we. So for now, relish the fresh air, the brilliant blooms and the busy energy of spring - tuck these sweet little things away in your heart, and carry them with you all year.

Little drops of water, little grains of sand,

Make the mighty ocean and the pleasant land.

Thus the little moments, humble though they be,

Make the mighty ages of eternity …

Little deeds of kindness, little words of love,

Help to make the earth happy, like the heaven above.

          (Julia A. F. Carney, 1845)

Scenes from a Late Spring Sunday

Well, I'm happy to report that Field Day is under construction and should be ready to roll bright and early tomorrow morning! By now I think I should have been in touch with everyone who sent me an entry. But if you did, and you have not heard from me, please leave me a comment below; our connection issues are still iffy, so I might have missed an email or two.

In the meantime, here are some nature photos from our yard this morning. I still mean to update my Nature Notes (has it really been more than two weeks since my last update?) but we are all in a flurry here with getting the boys their lunch and then off to soccer and ... I get to go out for a late lunch with several dear friends whom I have not seen in ages!! I can hardly wait to catch up.

Anyhoo, see you all in the morning ... and make sure to pour yourself a really big cup of coffee (or tea if you prefer), because this Field Day looks to be the biggest one yet! :)


A pink azalea in full bloom.


Our first (and hopefully not last) rose bud.


Just identified this - bittersweet nightshade.


A honeybee on a wildflower ...


Not sure what this is, but it's lovely with lavender stripes.


A juvenile ladybug - a good sign for the garden!


Not sure what this is - gorgeous color, though.


An electric blue damsel fly ... more good news. :)

I hope you all enjoy your Sunday. See you tomorrow!

What I Did on My (Blogging) Vacation ...

1. Supervised the catch-and-release of a lot of bugs via the bug vacuum.

2. Listened to d'Aulaire's Norse myths read aloud.

3. Proofread Bookworm's creative writing and played his graph paper games.

4. Watched Crackerjack read his first chapter book ever!

5. Watched Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, more than once.

6. Instead of spending the morning online, I read the Boston Globe every day (ok, skimmed it), and clipped out articles to share.

7. Instead of spending the evening online, I read Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix cover to cover.

8. Watched all the Martha shows I had on our Tivo.

9. Inadvertently (honestly) erased all of the Sopranos episodes Bill recorded. Oops.

10. Visited with friends we had not seen in a while and made some neat plans for the fall.

11. Found a missing library book long since paid (and apologized) for.

12. Wrote out the ed. plans for next year, including a neat alphabet curriculum for Earlybird (more on that later).

Well, I am back online, albeit somewhat sporadically. We had a Verizon technician out here yesterday for hours (hence the multiple viewings of Willy Wonka, keeping the boys out of his hair). I can now get online - but only here on the old dinosaur of a desktop parked in the family room (the one EB thinks is his, lol), but my laptop cannot connect. I have no phone (except for my cell of course). I now have access to email, however, and I have received several new Field Day posts (thank you!). If you have not heard back from me - hang tight - I will be (hopefully) in touch with you soon.

Undesired though it was, the break I had from blogging the past few days was, in a strange way, quite eye-opening. Though I missed "talking" with you all, it was, dare I say, sort of restful to just live the day without any back and forth (to the computer). I've been blogging steadily (a post a day at least) for over a year. I didn't think I was spending all that much time online, and yet, without the ability to actually connect - with the computer sitting closed and quiet off in the corner - I realized how much more time I have in the day than I thought. I got a lot more done on my daily list, I must admit.

And now I'm back, on what would have been my Late Spring Field Day, feeling a bit at odds, and not having a lot to say, actually! (Quite a lengthy post for someone with nothing to say, lol.) I will still plan to run Field Day this Monday, June 11th. I'm accepting entries up till Sunday night!

Today we have Bookworm's Homeschool Book Group meeting. We are discussing Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - and I'm leading the discussion. I'm bringing cream soda for refreshment ("butterbeers") and a few activities for the kids. They're such a good group, I'm sure it will be fun.

Thank you all for your kind words and wishes, and as always, for stopping by my little corner of the web. I hope you have a great Thursday. :)

A Little Laundry Line


"And she hung up all sorts and sizes of clothes - small brown coats of mice, and one velvety black moleskin waist-coat; and a red tail-coat with no tail belonging to Squirrel Nutkin; and a very much shrunk blue jacket belonging to Peter Rabbit; and a petticoat, not marked, that had gone lost in the washing - and at last the basket was empty!" (The Tale of Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle)

This passage came to me as I watched Bill hang my new clothesline this weekend - for it's a rather compact affair, only stretching a scant several feet between the house and the shed. Plus, it's set at the entrance to a corner of the yard fondly known as "critter corner." I could not help but imagine that this line was perfect in size and location for Mrs. Tiggy-winkle herself, and I half considered placing out a small wicker basket to see if any tiny garments might appear overnight. :)

But, enough of the imaginary, on to the sensible! Here's how my brand new clothesline looks in our rather overgrown corner:


As no laundry is hanging just yet, it might be hard to see, but it is there! :)

I've long admired backyard clotheslines, particularly my neighbor's, whose lines stretch wide across her entire backyard. Mine is quite small, as you see, but that is good for me - for now. I figure I can always expand my line if this new domestic endeavor "sticks." The line Bill put up is a retractible, 40 foot line. I plan, for now, to hang just some pillowslips, perhaps a sheet or two, and a few fine linens, like tea towels and doilies.

And though I've wanted a washing line for some time, it was Nissa's suggestion of a Fair celebrating their loveliness that prompted me to ask Bill to set one up for me to use. He was happy to do so, mindful of the potential energy savings. I can hardly wait to read through Nissa's fair; I'm sure it will be inspiring and informative.

Clotheslines have a special place in my heart - though due more to memory than acquaintance. I grew up knowing a clothesline at my grandparents' house - I can still feel the rough, silvery poles that held it up across their long sloping side yard. I remember standing beneath, and between, the myriad linens - which depending on the season were pale cotton sheets or colorful beach towels - and feeling them whip about in the breeze.

For me, a clothesline might be new and a novelty; for my grandmother it was matter-of-fact - just one element of her housekeeping routine. Her laundry line stood just outside the lower door. If you went in that door, you stepped into the cool, shadowy basement (a refuge on the hottest of summer days). Here was  - and still is - grandmother's laundry room, with its washer and dryer set just beneath a crank-open casement window, just beside the upright freezer, and around the corner from the pantry. To its right stood a tall set of shelves that held all the necessities to good laundry keeping - soaps, detergents, baking soda, brushes, vinegar and shaker bottles.

I'd skip past these corners on my way out to play, never giving a moment's thought to the work that went into my sweet smelling clothes - or the plentiful provisions or the freezer filled with fruit. Even as I grew older, I never really considered Grandma's way of laundering, though the memories of her bedsheets - the softest and finest I've ever felt in my life - linger with me still.

So at long last a clothesline has become more than a symbol of nostalgia for me, for I have one of my own. My plan is to clean up this garden corner and grow some herbs and flowers that will serve as a pretty and practical backdrop. I hope the next warm breezy day sees me out at the clothesline, enjoying the sunshine and the children running about ...

Maybe I'll meet you there? :)

Flowers for the Fairest

The Loveliness of Marian Devotion is up today at my friend Helen's blog, The Castle of theLoveliness_logo_2 Immaculate. A perfect hostess for this fair, Helen has gathered a loving bouquet of blossoms with which to crown Our Lady.

I am honored to be part of Helen's Fair and I just love the sunny daisies she picked on my behalf! :) Thank you Helen for a beautiful post!

What a lovely way to end the Marian month of May, and there are more Loveliness Fairs on the way. Please see this post at Elizabeth's for all the details.

A Late Spring Field Day!


It's time for a Field Day! And I cordially invite you to join us ...

Let's celebrate these final weeks of late spring, and share the world of nature around us. What's happening in the garden, woods, fields, by the pond or the shore? How about through your windows or just a step or two outside your back door? Nature happens everywhere, in ways big and little. What does late spring look like where you live? I hope you will consider telling us, for our next Field Day will run on Thursday, June 7th, rain or shine!

And just what is a Field Day you might ask? :)

Field Day is a nature-themed blog carnival. A carnival is a blogging event in which a host or hostess collects information about a particular theme (in this case nature) from other bloggers (and sometimes non-bloggers). She then organizes the information - links and photos, etc. - into one big post to share with everyone who stops by her blog on that day. It's a lot of fun - and the more the merrier - so I do hope you'll consider participating!

Your submission can be as simple as a photo, or as lengthy as a detailed post. And if you don't have a blog, you are still more than welcome! Perhaps you have a photo to share, or some thoughts you might like to write up?

Here are some ideas to get you started. You might share:

  • a review of a great gardening book
  • what's in your spring storybook basket
  • photos of spring in your yard
  • your nature study plans for the summer
  • a trip to a farm, a pond or anywhere you've noticed nature
  • a list of birds, bugs or mammals you've seen in recent weeks
  • a spring poem

For more ideas, you could peruse past issues of Field Day:

Also, I will be posting more of my Everyday Nature posts over the next couple of weeks, and some book reviews, too.

Now, the nitty gritty - what I need with your submission:

  • your name
  • your e-mail (not to be published)
  • your blog address
  • your post URL
  • a brief summary of your post or photo/entry

Please send all submissions to me at drhanigan AT verizon DOT net. Leave a comment below, too, if you'd like. I would like to have all entries by the end of the day, Wednesday June 6th.

And I'd love help spreading the word! Please copy the Field Day button at the top of this post and feel free to use it with your post or on your sidebar. (Thanks to my dear husband for designing this latest button!)

Thanks for stopping by, and I hope to hear from you soon! Enjoy this beautiful spring day. :)

Poetry Friday: "Our Tree" by Marchette Chute


When spring comes round, our apple tree
Is very full of flowers,
And when a bird sits on a branch
The petals fall in showers.

When summer comes, our apple tree
Is very full of green,
And everywhere you look in it
There is a leafy screen.

When autumn comes, our apple tree
Is full of things to eat.
The apples hang from every branch
To tumble at our feet.

When winter comes, our apple tree
Is full of snow and ice
And rabbits come to visit it . . .
We think our tree is nice.

This is a perfect time to begin an apple tree study - one that might last the whole year 'round! Do you live near an apple orchard, one that would be convenient to visit a few, or perhaps several, times a year?

A few Septembers ago, my dear friend Lisa suggested we conduct an apple tree nature study with our children. One fine autumn day we brought our children to a local farm and parked ourselves beneath an apple tree. Not just any tree, mind you - the children spent a good deal of time deciding just which tree would be the one to befriend.

Once we selected our tree, we made ourselves comfortable on blankets spread out underneath, and began sketching. Our idea was to visit "our" tree several times throughout the growing season and observe it in all of its stages - fruited, barren and blossomed. I am sorry to report, we let that project get away from us, but this year I would like to renew it(what do you say, Lisa?). :) We'll start with the flowers of spring.

Possibly the trees are just past bloom time, depending on where you live. But that's all right - anywhere you start in the year is a start. Within a year's time your tree will have covered the entire cycle of life. But if you begin soon, your children will have many months to observe their special tree and by autumn, its fruit will taste all the sweeter.

I'll post more on this idea in the future, but I wanted to mention it along with this week's poem - which I think would serve as a lovely cover page to an apple tree journal.

"Our Tree is by Marchette Chute, whose poems I have come to know through a tiny and beloved gem ~ A Small Child's Book of Cozy Poems. It is illustrated by one of my favorites, Cyndy Szekeres (are you familiar with Pippa Mouse books at all?) Several of her poems are featured in this lovely little book, which I highly recommend for the little ones. It's not a board book, but a real hardcover - and slim as it is, it's just the right size for small hands. Its page are filled with mice and other woodland creatures in all kinds of homey arrangements. My particular favorite is a poem called "Politeness" about a squirrel. Maybe that will be my poem next week! :)

Have a grand day, everyone, and be sure to stop by Kelly's Big A little a for the Poetry Friday Round-Up!

Here, There and Back Again

Outside, inside, underfoot and overhead ... Spring is here at long last! Lives_of_loveliness_logo_200612_2

I can't seem to stop talking about it lately - and, happily, I'm not alone. KC's gathered up a bouquet of posts exploring the Loveliness of Spring. Take a walk through her Cabbage Patch and revel with us in the nuances of the season.

"And Spring arose on the garden fair,
Like the Spirit of Love felt everywhere;
And each flower and herb on Earth's dark breast
rose from the dreams of its wintry rest."
       ~ Percy Bysshe Shelley

Carnival_literature_2In other blog-circle news, Jen Robinson is hosting this month's Carnival of Children's Literature. You know, one of these days I'm going to write something for that carnival, organized by (friend and children's author) Melissa Wiley. Hang on ~ I think I did once! But I see from the date-stamp that it was ages ago. It's been far too long since I joined in that fun, especially when you consider the sheer enormity of our children's literature collection (typical I'm sure for the average home learning family)! If you'd like to learn more about this particular carnival, stop by The Bonny Glen and click on Melissa's button; you'll find it in her lefthand sidebar.

Speaking of children's books, here's a peek at our books on display this week:


To sum up: volcanoes, robins and St. George.

Finally, (for now, I'm sure I'll have more before long), please consider Blog_badgevisiting my friend Maureen's donation page. She's doing the Relay for Life in June in an effort to raise money for the American Cancer Society.

Good for you, Mo, and Good Luck!

Ooh, one more thing! Today is St. George's Day, the feast of Crackerjack's patron saint and England's National Day. This meshes in so neatly with our history lesson this week (The War of the Roses), I could not have planned it better if I tried. It's also Shakespeare's birthday today, in case you were itching for a good reason to read a bit of the Bard - or to have cake! Have you got 443 candles handy? ;)

That's all for now ~ have a great day, everyone!

Spring has Sprung in my Heart ...


... and at long last, in my yard.

There is a butterfly floating by my window. I think it might actually be a moth, but the point is, a tiny gossamer-winged creature - a herald of spring itself - is flitting across the lawn, stopping at this bloom and that. It's been such a long time since I've seen such a sight.

I hear a bird singing it's dear little heart out somewhere close by. I believe it is the mockingbird who, just a few minutes ago, hopped down from the telephone wire to the lawn. The sunlight is so bright and golden, and after a long winter, it is so very welcome.

And what, perhaps, is even more striking than all this? My window is open. Because it is quite warm today, and the air has just the tiniest, kindest hint of coolness. Refreshing, really ... such a beautiful Sunday, and a glorious Earth Day indeed.

Because we have all our windows open, there is a slight chill filling the house. It feels good to us, but it alerts the heat to come on, and so, as I sit here typing beside the open window, the warmth spreads around my feet. It is a familiar feeling; this time of year is at once cool and warm. It is the hallmark of spring to be such a tease - but we love it all the more.

There are activities all over the country today, in honor of Earth Day, but we will just celebrate at home in our own way. For one, we will have our first cookout! And over supper we will discuss our environmental goals - take stock of how we've done since last year, and brainstorm how we might do better this year.

Here are a few ideas for celebrating spring, and our lovely, life-giving earth today, or any day:

  • If weather permits, open your windows wide and exchange the stale air for fresh.
  • Make up a new spring nest for each of your loved ones - trade flannel for cotton.
  • Set up a small nature shelf for the children. Let them add little treasures they find like nests, stones, and blossoms. Add a pretty beeswax candle (perhaps one they've made) and a small postcard with a seasonal theme.
  • Make up a basket for your field guides, and keep it handy!
  • Rise early and sit by an open window with a warm cup of tea. Listen to the new sounds and feel the new air - write down your thoughts in a journal.
  • Sit down as a family and discuss how you might be better stewards of the earth.
  • Carry canvas bags to the market instead of bringing home plastic. You can buy plain ones at the craft store and decorate them yourselves.
  • Find out where there will be farm stands this summer; try to buy local as much as possible.
  • Begin a compost pile.
  • Go on a neighborhood walk - bring a trash bin or bag, wear gloves and clean up trash as you go.
  • Plan to grow some food of your own; research organic growing methods.
  • Visit a natural foods store and look for environmentally friendly cleaners.
  • Look up your town's recycling guidelines; they might have changed! We just found out ours did - and there is much more we can recycle.
  • Read biographies of naturalists; there are many available for children.
  • Sit down with your grocery list (I use my store receipt) and consider each item you purchase regularly. How might you make a better choice (less packaging, better nutrition)?
  • Do an energy audit of your household. Where can you decrease your energy consumption?


Spring is the perfect time to reacquaint ourselves with the glories of God's awesome creation. Take joy in this day - and look for more joy tomorrow! And speaking of tomorrow, please check in at KC's Cabbage Patch for the Loveliness of Spring! I can't wait to hear how others enjoy this season ~ how about you?

Small Things, Great Joys

"Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies." Mother Teresa

My friend Angela is hosting a Carnival of Joy today at her lovely blog, Three Plus Two. I'm too late for this issue, but happily, she will be hosting it again next week - and each week all Eastertide long!

But even though I'm late, I couldn't help but think about all the little things that create glimmers of joy in my life, for "... it is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all." (Laura Ingalls Wilder)

Here's my quick list for today:Glad_heart

Autumn leaves, against an October-blue sky.

Books, books and more books!

Cats curled up on an afghan.

Daffodils dancing in the spring breeze.

Embers glowing in the fireplace.

Feast days!

Grace before meals.

Home comforts (too many to name).

Inchworms (especially that darling song).

Jam jars lined up in the pantry.


Letters written by hand.

Muddy footprints - oh, yes!

Nests in trees.

Organic strawberries, with homemade whipped cream!

Pillowslips ~ all cotton, and freshly ironed.

Trains (because they make my little guy so happy).

Unscheduled time, and lots of it.

Violets in the dewey grass.

Woodpeckers knocking away in the woods.

X's and O's. :)


Zzz's ~ especially when they're uninterrupted. :)

What brings you joy, the great and the small? Wouldn't a "joy journal" be a nice thing to keep with your children? Something you add to each night before bed?

Please check in at Angela's for more thoughts on joy, but for now, I'll leave you with this one:

"Joy is the holy fire which keeps our purpose warm and our intelligence aglow." Helen Keller

A Field Day Footnote!

As is far too likely to happen, when putting together so many links for Field Day, I am apt to make a mistake here and there. (Well, I make many, but most of them I work out before I hit "publish," lol.) Broken links are one thing, but my worst fear is I will somehow forget someone's submission. It happened once before, and, it was bound to happen again.

Well, unfortunately, it did, and I am so sorry to say, it was one of my dearest friends, Cay I forgot! Dear Cay, who, I must mention, was the FIRST one to get me her post and how did I reward her? By forgetting to plug in her link!

Oh, fiddlesticks!

So, one day late, but every bit as lovely and deeply appreciated, here it is. And it's a beauty, a balm for the winter-weary heart so many of us are carrying beneath those woolen and waterproof layers. Please stop by Cay's Cajun Cottage and enjoy the breathtaking loveliness of Spring in Louisiana. Cay, you give me a glimmer of hope, as we here in New England brace for one more Nor'easter this weekend ...

And speaking of nature, and blogs, I have added a new blogroll to my righthand sidebar. Linda, from Higher Up and Further In and Earth is Crammed with Heaven, very kindly invited me to submit my Nature Corner to her new nature blogroll - and I did! If you have an online nature journal, please see Linda's post here for details on joining the blogroll!

Now, my friends, I am heading to bed, and hoping I wake up a smidgen more organized tomorrow than I was today - or yesterday, or last week!

Good night, and God bless. :)

Field Day: The Early Spring Edition!


"If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant. If we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome." (Anne Bradstreet)

It's been an awfully long winter, has it not? And - I fear for many of us (me included) - winter has not quite let loose its grip. But it can't be much longer, my friends. It simply can't.

So let's bundle up (just a bit - leave the parka - grab the fleece instead!) and head out for an Early Spring Field Day! I have many friends joining me on this nature carnival, and we all have spring in our hearts ... if not yet in our yards. :)

We have photos a-plenty to share this time out! Marcie, Robyn and Heather (whose flowers grace the top of my post) have all contributed the most beautiful pictures today! For lovelier artwork, I could not have hoped. Thank you, ladies!


Beautiful Lake Martin, by Marcie

Let's begin up north, where Margaret captures the whims of the season with eloquence and lovely contentment. Snow in the morning, sunshine at dusk? Minnesota sounds a lot like Massachusetts these days!

Our next stop is down south, where Dana is reveling in the beauty of Texas wildflowers. Such warm and vibrant colors! Matilda has similarly beautiful scenes to share, as she waltzes through a spring daze of flora and fauna.

One of my favorite young ladies had a grand time recently looking for invertebrates! In Post One (the checklist) and Two (the results), Marianna shares some terrific scientific discoveries! Excellent lesson, Jennifer!

Spring, of course, means new life ...



Aren't these pictures precious? Please read on for Robyn's story ...

"We rescued a baby bunny from our dog, who found a nest of bunnies in our yard. We aren’t sure how many babies were in the nest but this baby was the last one left, so we found a nice cozy box filled with tissue paper and went to the feed store to get a bottle and food for him. The bunny was so young, his eyes and ears had not yet opened. We were torn between putting him back into his nest in the hopes that his mom would relocate him, and keeping him safe from the dog inside the house. He didn’t know yet he was supposed to be afraid of humans, and he let us gently hold him in our hands--- he was so small (about the size of a mouse). He nuzzled in our hands, drank a little milk and seemed happy enough in the box. The next morning, we searched online to find out more about baby bunnies. This site has a lot of information about wild bunnies:

We discovered he was actually a hare, not a rabbit. We found out that babies this tiny do not usually survive in captivity and that the mama would come back to the nest up to a week checking for her young if a nest is disturbed.  We decided to put him back in his hole for his mama to find him, knowing that it was his best shot at survival. So we said our goodbyes to our tiny houseguest and put him back on Saturday afternoon. We kept the dog on a leash, knowing that the first thing he would do is to go back to the nest so we protected the baby hare by making sure the dogs could not have access to him. On Easter morning, we checked the nest, and sure enough—the baby was gone, and we are assuming, reunited with his mama and in a new place."

As Robyn's family discovered, we often need look no further than our own backyards to experience the supreme joy of nature. Happily, Meredith's family has rediscovered the breathtaking wilderness in their midst. Oh, to be on that swing - viewing those views!

All about her lovely home, Cay shows us how beautifully spring has sprung in Louisiana. Oh my, I can almost smell those sweet blooms and taste that fresh lemonade!


A turtle sunning himself, by Marcie ...

Angela's family always has lots of interesting things going on in their backyard - and how neat that they tapped their own maple trees this year! What a wonderful learning experience for her gang (whom we had the pleasure of meeting recently)! They also kept a close eye on their feeders (love the chipmunk!) while inside, they worked together on a seed starting project. Wonderful!


Seedlings growing, by Heather ...

Spring's a great season for ducks, don't you think? These fine feathered creatures have certainly caught the attention of a few of my friends. After reading a perennial spring favorite, Michaela and her children made their way outdoors for some sketching by the lake.


Sunny daffodils, by Robyn ...

Lorri's crew also found time to stop and enjoy the ducks - in their own backyard! (Actually the ducks found them  - what a treat!) And, in pursuit of a scouting badge, Lorri's family has been keeping a close eye on the songbirds in their surroundings. Now's the time of year to see lots of new faces, as well as old favorites.

Speaking of birds, Dani shares some gorgeous photos of an egret and heron - white and blue, respectively - from her pier. What a blessing to live by the water - I can only imagine how varied and interesting the nature must be!


A Great Egret, by Marcie ...

Divina and her family have been out to the beach already this year. They've seen a wide range of sea birds - from mallards to a loon, and plenty of other examples of seashore life. But perhaps there's no better nature study than one so hands-on as sand play

Playing in the sand is an excellent form of earth science for youngsters, and I'm taking notes for my own little boys. We'll also be studying volcanoes, and we'll need to look no further than Susan's great list of books on that very subject. I always know to turn to Susan for wonderful children's book suggestions.


Flowering tree, by Heather ...

More spring science ideas can be found at Theresa's. Stop by to learn how to make three different kinds of nets for a stream study - the first two posts are here and here, and the third will be coming later today!

Now, on to one of my most favorite nature blogs - Marjorie's Letters de Moulin. She shares three lovely posts with us today. The first takes us on a tour of birds' nests - which are a welcome sight anytime of year, but especially so in spring. Next, it's up the mountain to explore the joys of the butterfly, another sweet harbinger of spring. And finally we look down from the heavens, and specifically under some rocks, to take delight in spring salamanders! Ooh, how I'd love to find one of those shiny little fellas.


A mockingbird - just after a bath! by Marcie ...

Brooke and her boys have a fun and educational spring ritual - birdwatching! They spent an amazing day at a national wildlife refuge - looking for eagles! She shares great tips for spring birding in her post.

And on with the hunt for spring! Joann and her kids spent some time looking for signs of life ... and what did they find? Tune in here to see. Sherry, too, took her gang out in search of spring - and a little patch of nature did the trick. Crisanne takes us on a tour of flowering trees - spring beauties that bring thoughts of God's love.

And speaking of love, what more joyous feeling can there be than a walk in the spring rain with our dear ones? Beth shares beautiful images and feelings from her day.


A Nutria at Lake Martin, by Marcie ...

Spring brings its own mysteries. What will this seedling be? Where did we plant the tulips? What was that flash of orange in the trees? Helen's daughter has made a mysterious treetop discovery - please stop by and check it out!


Yellow Iris, by Marcie ...

Spring sneaks up on us, in fond and familiar ways we must not overlook. From petals to pollen to screen doors wide open, MaryBeth has noticed all those subtle signs, the ones that tug at our heartstrings, and assure us that really, spring has returned home after all.


Robyn's front yard is the pinnacle of early spring beauty.

Thank you for joining us on this Early Spring Field Day! I would like to thank each and every person who contributed in some way - whether by post, by photo or plug. :) I appreciate your participation and I hope you will consider joining me again in another month or so for the Mid-Spring Edition!

For now, let me leave you with these timely words by Robert Frost:

The sun was warm but the wind was chill. Early_spring_07
You know how it is with an April Day
When the sun is out and the wind is still,
You're one month on in the middle of May.
But if you so much as dare to speak,
A cloud comes over the sunlit arch,
A wind comes off the frozen peak,
And you're two months back in the middle of March.

How true!

What we found when we looked ...

... under those leaves, like I talked about yesterday. I have to admit, I got a bit ahead of myself on that one. Because it wasn't what we found that made news, it was what we didn't.

Zip, zip, zippo, as Crackerjack said.

Nope, not a whole lot of anything going on under there. Just a lot of dry dirt, old leaves, cracked and scaly seed hulls and, pardon my French, cat droppings.

(Darn neighbor cat.)

So we didn't so much "muck around" out there as scuffle. Things are still pretty dry and cold. So, we note the conditions in our nature notebooks, and we wait a bit longer.


The boys did very much enjoy the investigation, as well as the cool air and bright sunshine. It's wonderful to "do" science out in our backyard while a robin hops by but a few feet away and the woods are whispering their spring song.

But you know, I was hoping for more. We are on the brink of yet another little snowstorm here (we won't mention the nor'easter due Monday), and we really could have stood to find something under there. More than that one tiny wiggly thing. Some little bits of life to encourage us that, truly, spring is here. Somewhere around here. I was sure of it.

So that's the lesson for today, my friends. We must have faith. And we must find the beauty in the here and now. It's the gift we've been given today.

Looking back over our photos we realized there's not a whole lot of color here. Mostly browns, and pale shades of green. But that's exactly the palette of early spring in New England. We won't see bursts of bright color till May when the lilacs and azaleas and cherry trees begin to bloom. And when it happens, it will be a feast for hungry eyes.

For now, we will content ourselves with the subtle signs of earliest springtime.


Tiny ferns growing under the leaves! So pale and lovely.


New chrysanthemum shoots finding their way to the sun.


Tiny but mighty crocus shoots! Theyr'e lifting the mulch as they grow!


The one wiggling thing we found - some kind of beetle larva, we guess.


No idea - but we love the color - like purple cabbage!

That's the thing about nature. You can't package it up all neat and tidy. Sure the calendar says April 12, but nature ... well, it's just going to do it's own thing, isn't it?

On the positive side, we are home today, and we have our Thursday tea planned. On Thursdays we read the Sunday gospel and eat some cookies and drink some tea or cocoa. I was hoping by now we'd have moved onto lemonade, but no such luck. No, a hot cup of cocoa sounds just about right. I think I will whip up a cup of spring cocoa - it's white and creamy and hot and just right for a blustery April afternoon.

In the meantime, please remember that Field Day is tomorrow! I am busily working on my post and having a grand time reading all of yours! Thanks to all who have sent me an entry - you make Field Day what it is! If you'd like to participate, you still have plenty of time - I'll be working late (ish) into the night. ;)

Also, tomorrow is the last day for voting at The 2006 Homeschool Blog Awards. When you stop over there, please read this post first, and keep Heather in your prayers. She needs them dearly.

Blessings to you, my friends. Breathe in, have faith and go give your loved ones a hug.

Button, Button ...

Two quick things before bed:

A reminder that Field Day: The Early Spring Edition will run this Friday, April 13th. (I told you I'd be nagging reminding you!) There's still ample time to get me a post or a picture about nature. Anytime up till Thursday evening (say 8-ish), is fine, though you know I'll surely make room for any latecomers! Check out my original post with all the details here, or you can click on the button on the right and that will take you there, too. By the way, help yourself to that button, to use as part of your post or to help spread the word. :)

In more button news, just below Field Day is the 2006 Homeschool Blog Awards button. It, too, is a link - one that will take you over to the voting page. I am humbled and honored that my blog has been nominated for a few awards: blog design, crafts/projects/plans, encourager and (goodness) super homeschooler. (I feel a little funny mentioning which awards, but there are many categories ... and I figure, if you were so inclined to vote for my blog, you'd probably want to know where to look!) Again, I say a BIG thank you to my nominators! Happily, many of my friends have also been nominated and ... I now have many new blogs to explore! And I must say the Awards site itself it just amazing - it's like a shiny, well-oiled machine over there. Voting ends Friday!

Allrighty, so that's it for the buttons for now! Take care, all!

A Few Quick Notes

I am slowly (and finally!) updating my blogroll. I've added 30 or so blogs just today! There are so many wonderful blogs out there now - it's hard to keep up! I've been combing the blogrolls of other 4Real-ers but my time is up and I must leave it as is (for now). If you see your blog is missing, please leave me a comment and I'll plug you in. :)

Also, I have updated our "Feasts & Fun" typelist for the week ahead, and I hope to be filling up my rather neglected photo albums throughout the week. (Because really, we have done more winter nature study than just that one leaf.) My booklists are in need of serious pruning, too ...

In other blogging news, next Monday is The Loveliness of Baking, hosted by my friend Cheryl at her Thoughtful Spot. This is one of my favorite subjects, so I will surely be drumming up a post (or two!) for that fair! Posts are needed by Saturday, so stay tuned for more details.

Ooh, and finally, I have joined a virtual wine tasting! This was a great idea of Macbeth's that caught on like wildfire, and now many of us have ordered our Bogo wines and are already sipping away. (Ours arrived last week, but we'll be cracking it open tonight!) Many years ago I attended a few wine (or vintner) dinners as a very green editor's assistant. I didn't know what I was talking about then, and I don't now, but it will be fun all the same - and our overall goal is to choose a nice wine for Easter dinner. So, bear in mind, it's a working wine tasting. :)

Well, off to make that Lenten chart. Have a great day!

Many Thanks!!!

I just want to take a moment to say *Thank You* to everyone who helped out with Field Day! It really would not have been possible without all of you. So, please consider yourself cyber-hugged! :)

Thank you also to everyone who stopped by to visit, and for all the lovely comments! I would also like to say I am very grateful to my family for granting me a little extra computer time these past few days! (Of course, they get the real hugs, lol!) Not to disregard all that winter inspiration, but I am now happily formulating early spring thoughts for the next Field Day (just after Easter, I think). :)

Field Days always provide me with a renewed urge to study nature ... to dig out the field guides, set up the nature corner, shake out our field bags, sharpen our pencils and crack open our notebooks!

And there's no better time to begin than the present, for this weekend is The Great Backyard Bird Count! It's really very easy to participate. Explore the site - there's lots of great information and fun activities for the kids. If you do want to join the Count, you can print a tally sheet specific to your postal code here. It has links to all the birds you might see, helping you with your identification. I will share our own feeder findings at my nature notes blog later this weekend.

Other weekend plans?

  • Lesson plan.
  • Catch up on emails.
  • Pop into the bookstore to spend my Valentine's gift. :)
  • Prepare for the Loveliness of Lent.
  • Bake Chinese Almond Cookies and order take-out tomorrow.
  • (You might want to try making Fortune Cookies!)
  • Have a special breakfast on Monday for Presidents' Day ...
  • With eggs and bacon for Collop Monday. :)
  • Write out my (Pre)-Spring Cleaning Plan.
  • Work on those tricky housekeeping schedules and ...
  • Enjoy Daddy's long weekend!

Have a great one, everybody!