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May 2008

A little house, a house of my own ...


... out of the wind's and the rain's way." ~ Padraic Colum

For the past hour or so, we've been watching a pair of small brown birds fly in and out of my Mother's Day birdhouse - with nesting materials in their tiny beaks, no less! We think they might be a pair of house wrens, and you should hear the beautiful songs coming from them! (They sound exactly like this!)

We'll be keeping a close eye on this very exciting situation ~ and you can just bet we'll keep you posted on all the new nesting details!

A Very Happy Weekend to All!

A Few Little Things ~


I just love it when I fill up a whole entire notebook and then it's time to start a new journal. For one thing, it's satisfying to have kept so many notes and mementos in one place, and for another, I really enjoy making journals! For my latest journal, I picked a very summery print which complemented the red cover of my very plain notebook. I added a gingham check place ribbon, as well. It's such a little thing really, but fun all the same. :)

Other fun little things today ~

~ Bookworm has an orthodontist appointment which means we can stop in at our favorite Italian bakery on the way home. I have a thing for those buttery little colored cookies - you know, the bright pink, green, yellow and brown ones? This bakery also sells amazing bread and pastas, so I'm thinking I might pick up a few things for an Italian dinner tomorrow night.

~ Because tonight's dinner will have to be quick, mostly leftovers I think, since I'll be off to the movies with the older two this evening! We are going with Bookworm's Tween Group to see Prince Caspian and I can hardly wait! I'm hoping the movie is not too dark, as Crackerjack tends to be sensitive about those things. I'm also hoping there will be good previews - maybe for the new HP movie this fall?

~ And because we will be at the moves tonight, Bill will record the two-hour season finale of Lost; we'll watch it tomorrow after the kids have gone to bed. I seriously hope they don't kill off Sawyer - but I have a bad feeling about that. And I dread seeing Sun and Jin say goodbye - so sad! I'm hoping Lost returns in September - none of this February nonsense again. (P.S. At the bottom of this post there are several sneak peeks for tonight's episode.)

~ The weather here is gorgeous today - sunny, windy and warm (in the 70s). I feel like summer is here, but we still have several weeks of "school" left before we can officially call it a break. I'm quite ready for a break this year ...

Well, that's all for now. I am still working on the next Mitten Strings post. I'll have it up just as soon as it makes any sense. ;)

Have a lovely day, everyone ...

The Simple Woman's Daybook ~ May 28th


~ Peggy is taking a Daybook break this week, but I wrote up a fresh post anyway. :) ~
Outside My Window ... a crisp and bright morning, full of spring promise.
I am thinking ... about the last six weeks of our "school" year.
I am thankful for ... my husband, who takes such good care of us.
From the kitchen ... organic sweet potato breads.
I am wearing ... a sea-green t-shirt, khakis and keds.
I am creating ... a pretty project planner to keep track of all my plates in the air.
I am going ... to fold every last bit of laundry today and remake all the beds.
I am reading ... the new issue of Mary Jane's Farm (yum).
I am hoping ... no news is good news.
I am hearing ... the chime of the mantel clock, the chatter of my boys, an airplane flying low overhead.
Around the house ... all the windows are open, I have morning glory seeds soaking, things need to be tidied after the long lazy weekend.
One of my favorite things ... sneaking outside early to walk around the yard, fill the birdfeeders, and see what's growing where.
A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week: orthodontist and dentist appointments, an evening showing of Prince Caspian with Bookworm's Tween group, the National Spelling Bee ...
Here is a picture thought I am sharing ...
Some plants I bought at the farm this weekend.
I hope you all have a wonderful day!

My Mother's Day Gift ~


I have been so eager to show this to you all, but I wanted to wait until Bill got it put into place. I have wanted a birdhouse like this one for ages - surrounded with flowering things and fluttering wings - and this year, for Mother's Day, Bill and the boys made that dream a reality. :)

Even more fun ~ my gift is more than just the house (three nesting spots inside, by the way) - eventually, it will be a whole bird-friendly garden beneath:


It's still under construction, of course ...

In the background, against the fence (which will eventually be replaced with something wooden and white) is our raspberry patch. It looks so healthy and lush this year! Bill built a support system for it, and I hope that helps it to be even more prolific (I'm thinking raspberry jam, etc.)

And behind the fence is our big beloved spruce, home to most of our birdfeeders. Inside the corner of the house you see pictured there is our learning room, so yes, I can see my future bird garden from "my side" of the table. :)

As you can see, Bill made a good size bed. So far, all we have planted is a viburnum (in the back left corner) and a rose bush at the base of the pole. I read that viburnum is a "berried" bush, and a particular favorite of birds. It also promises spectacular autumn foliage. And I am so excited about the rose - it's the first English Rose I've ever owned!


William Shakespeare, it's called.

I also have morning glory seeds soaking; these I will plant at the base of the pole tomorrow morning. Otherwise, I've been working on a list of things that will attract birds and butterflies to our yard. Here's my list so far, and please, if you have any suggestions, drop me a note below!

  • poppies
  • purple coneflower
  • columbine
  • cosmos
  • Chinese lanterns
  • butterfly bush
  • asters
  • sedum
  • and various herbs, tbd

I saw most of these plants at the nursery early Monday morning. Over the next couple of weeks we hope to get this bed planted with plenty of flowering things - and then we'll just wait for the winged creatures to arrive!

Well, I hope you've had a nice Tuesday. It so feels like summer here. It was muggy all morning, and we saw our first dragonfly. And then, right around 3:00, the skies turned black and the wind got fierce - a band of strong storms moved through. Now it's 5 and Bill's almost home (with a pizza no less). The sun is back out too, rainwater glistening on all the greenery ...

A lovely evening to you, my friends. See you all sometime tomorrow.

ABC, Easy as 123 ~

I saw this meme at Paula's, so I tagged myself!

A is for age:
Let’s just say I'm still in my 30s. ;)

B is for burger of choice:
Turkey with tomato and bacon, on a honey-wheat bun.

C is for what kind of car you drive:
A Toyota Sienna (i.e. a minivan)

D is for your dog's name:
I have cats now, but growing up it was Duncan and Natasha.

E is for essential item you use everyday:
My Cuisinart Grind-and-Brew ;)

F is for favorite TV show at the moment:
Lost, of course.

G is for favorite game:
Crossword puzzles - I love 'em.

H is for HomeState:

I is for instruments you play:
Ahem. I whistle rather well ...

J is for favorite juice:
Apple cider

K is for whose butt you'd like to kick:
Well, I don't like to get political here ...

L is for last restaurant you ate at?
We ordered Papa Gino's last week, does that count ...?

M is for your favorite Muppet:
Oh, I have to say Prarie Dawn. :)

N is for Number of Piercing:

O is for overnight hospital stays:
Tonsils when I was 4 or 5, three childbirths at 26, 30 and 32.

P is for people you were with today:
All my guys.

Q is for what you do with your quiet time:
Read and journal.

R is for biggest regret:
I honestly can't think of one, but I don't like to dwell anyway.

S is for status:
Happily married, SAHM.

T is for time you woke up today:
6:15 ~ Bill let me sleep in (I've been under the weather).

U is for what you consider unique:
You, me and everyone. We're all unique. :)

V is for vegetable you love:
Red peppers (especially with ranch dip).

W is for worst habit:
Procrastination. It gets me into more trouble.

X is for x-rays you've had:
Dental, mostly. A few ultrasounds lately.

Y is for yummy food you ate today:
An organic brown sugar toaster pastry.

Z is for zodiac sign:
Carpricorn - earthy and efficient. :)

Have a great day, everyone! :)

Happy Things


This is my dear 17 year old cat, Midget (the one who had the echocardiogram last week). Beneath him is the pretty pet bed I bought at Homegoods - the one that seemed too high for him to climb onto until just this morning when I found him all curled up, for all the world like the king of the hill. Isn't he handsome? His tests showed he has an enlarged heart but no signs of heart failure at present. They put him on all kinds of meds to keep things in check, and so far he seems to be tolerating it all well.

By the way, the bed is kept under the dining table where the kids do a lot of their work during the day. He likes to lie here to be near us, and now he can do this much more comfortably.

After lunch yesterday we headed over to my friend Mary's for a playdate ...


I had to snap this picture of my tea cup. I absolutely love her china ~ it's the epitome of an autumn garden.

Mary hosted this gathering for a half dozen or so families - the kids played outside while we mums sat inside, sipped tea, nibbled snacks and talked. We are trying to start a little group for talking about food issues - menu planning, recipe sharing, seasonal eating, etc. We had a lot of fun. :)

Before I left I asked Mary if I could take a few pictures of her beautiful garden. I came home with lots of ideas for my own yard ...

Here is a bachelor button about to open:


And another one already open:


Next we have a poppy pod. I think Mary said they would be red.


These were my favorites - the columbine. So pale and delicate.


Well, I'd best be off ... lots on the docket today. I have some medical tests this morning (bleh) and later today Bookworm and I are meeting friends at the new Indiana Jones movie. I think I'm more excited than he is, lol! I'll be back later to tell you what we thought.

Happy Friday! :)

Rainbows and Rude Birds

Driving over to my Mitten Strings meeting last night, the rain was light and yet the skies were still bright; I had a feeling before long we'd see one of these:


It's faint, but can you see the rainbow there?

The funny thing was, as I drove, I passed two different people standing on their front walkways - necks craned, eyes watching the skies. I wondered, as I drove along, if they were watching for a rainbow. The skies were really just ripe for one. I was glad that I was not the only one tuning into the atmospheric conditions.

Speaking of tuning in, and while I have you here, I have to tell you a quick little nature story. This was going to be one of my Nature Notes, but it's involved enough to warrant a post of its own. :)

The other day, I was standing at the kitchen sink, the windows wide open as I worked. I could hear a band of blue jays making a fuss in the woods. As I watched, I could just make out their dark shapes, hopping from branch to branch - there had to be six or seven of them. Their sounds were not quite the screeches one is used to hearing from jays, but rather a soft and incessant chattering. I figured there must be a hawk or cat in the area making them nervous - for all their obnoxious behavior, jays are known to sound the alarm to warn other species of a predator close by. (We once witnessed a bunch of jays ward off a hawk one day, saving a tiny red squirrel in the process.) Anyway, I called the boys to the kitchen to listen to the strange sounds and Bookworm immediately remembered that last spring we watched the jays do a similar thing ~ and that it all centered around a brown-headed cowbird.

You see, here's the thing about the brown-headed cowbird; it has quite a little racket going. The female lays her eggs in another bird's nest - even kicking out one of the resident eggs while she's at it. She can lay up to one egg a day throughout the nesting season, and she never makes a nest of her own.

Apparently, some birds, the blue jay for one, are able to recognize this offense and remove the alien egg from its nest. Many birds have no idea though, and from what I understand this is called a parasitic behavior. Last year we watched several jays haunt a cowbird pair all around the top of our spruce tree. It went on all afternoon! At the time we didn't know much about cowbirds, we just figured the jays were being their usual pushy selves. Turns out they knew just what they were doing!

Fast forward to this year, and Bookworm's educated guess - and sure enough, about a half hour later, after the din of the jays had settled down, I could hear a strange bird song off in the woods. I did a quick google for "brown-headed cowbird song" and sure enough, that's what it was! We've been listening to the brown-headed cowbirds for a couple of days now. They are definitely present somewhere deep in the woods, but so far the jays have not taken further offense.

Moral of the story ~ another little nature mystery solved, another bird song learned. And I love that we connected with our environment in this way. Today I'm going to have the boys write up a story about this observation and we'll adorn their pages with drawings of the jay and cowbird. To that end, I'll print out images from this neat online coloring book I found at the Cornell site. Science and language arts in one neat little package!

Well, I hope you all have a nice Thursday ... looks to be showery here, but that will only make all this green even greener. See you all again sometime soon! :)

The Simple Woman's Daybook ~ May 21st


~ Do stop by Peggy's for all the links entered in this week's Simple Woman's Daybook ~
Outside My Window ... golden light is washing over the neighborhood. A crow is ambling down the sidewalk, his mate waiting on the phone lines above. Everything is so green now, but the lilacs are still blooming - I can smell them through the open window.
I am thinking ... about a Mothers Tea I'm hosting this summer.
I am thankful for ... my own mother, for too many reasons to name.
From the kitchen ... apple crisp with a crunchy oat topping.
I am wearing ... white t-shirt, green cardigan, light jeans, peds.
I am creating ... a cozy work corner for myself.
I am going ... to get back to all the people I need to get back to.
I am reading ... my new issue of British Country Living.
I am hoping ... for good weather this weekend.
I am hearing ... birds in the woods, the coffeemaker perking, the fireplace cycling off.
Around the house ... The kitchen is cleaned on Wednesdays ~ so the fridge will be cleared out, its shelves wiped down. The sink and counters will be scrubbed with my favorite lemon-herb cleanser. I'll keep the windows open wide as I work, and let in the cool spring air. I'll start a menu and shopping list for next week.
One of my favorite things ... watching the sun rise behind the woods (see picture below).
A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week: Homeschool Games day, Mitten Strings meeting, Nourishing our Families meeting, Indiana Jones matinee, Memorial Day weekend ...
Here is a picture thought I am sharing ...
I hope you all have a wonderful day!

In the May Morning Garden ~


         ~The Flower Moon~ 

Lilies of the valley

Ring each silent bell

When May’s bright moon

Lightens up the dell.

Furry-footed creatures

Scurry here and there

Dancing to the music

They can hear

Quite well. 

(From When the Moon is Full: A Lunar Year by Penny Pollock)

It was lovely watching the full Flower Moon rise in the eastern sky late last night. And it was even lovelier this morning to stumble upon lilies of the valley growing all along the southern side of the potting shed. I immediately thought of the above poem, which can be found in one of my favorite books of nature poetry for young children.

~ A few other things I noticed during my morning walkabout ~


Tiny newborn spruce cones, like papery brown flowers.


A small shady sprouting of morel mushrooms.


And right by the front door, a small patch of (flowering!) clover.

The May garden is just magical! Take a peek around your yard,and let me know what you find! :)

Mitten Strings for God: Chapter Nine

Wants and Needs


"The fact is that try as I might to stay centered and focused on what's really important, the world sometimes does win. At times I feel on the losing end of a tug-of-war: one one side, a desire to live simply, without fuss; on the other, the lure of social events, beautiful things to buy, new places to go."

This chapter is so meaningful - I have so much of it underlined! - and yet, I found it challenging to get this post done. (Obviously - I'm several days late!) I'm not sure why that is - other than the usual lack of time issue - but I think, I must admit, that even as a grown-up I find it hard sometimes to distinguish between wants and needs. It's an important concept to teach our children - and learn ourselves.

I think helping our children find - and really feel - contentment now, is vital to their happiness later in life. We grown-ups know, in our hearts, that contentment doesn't come from things, but rather, from having our needs met consistently. Because once those needs are met, we feel comfort, and comfort provides plenty of space for joy. (Did I just talk in a circle? Possibly, but please bear with me.)

There are so many places this post could go, but in the interest of time (mine and yours) I'll just offer up a few notes I jotted down for myself re this particular endeavor (and as always, these are just things I am trying - I don't presume to know what would work for your family):

1. Expose children to less media. It's only human nature - we know ourselves how easy it is to be manipulated by the media. It can be tough to explain why it is the media does what it does, and how it's not really presenting a realistic view - but even if we could get that message across, it doesn't necessarily lesson the temptation. The best approach - less exposure.

2. Shop as little as possible. The less time spent "shopping" the better. I try to contain my errands to one morning a week, and by necessity, for me that needs to be Saturday mornings. And since there are all kinds of better things to be doing on Saturdays than shopping - we keep it brief. I want the boys to get the impression this is not recreational but rather, a necessary task.

3. Make giving thanks a bigger part of our life. Brainstorm different ways to consider the ways we are blessed (there are so many), and then stick with what feels right. A friend of mine asks her boys to name what the best part of the day was was for them. I bet over time, it will be clear that rarely is it a material thing - but more likely a person or experience.

4. Donate and volunteer as a family. Help the boys understand not everyone is as fortunate as we are. Work to see that other's needs are met. Learn to appreciate how good it feels to give of ourselves.

I have a few other ideas, but if I want to get this post up, I'd better stop here. :) I'd love to hear your thought on this chapter. How do you help your children tell the difference between wants and needs? How do you keep your own focus?

Thanks for stopping by today, and I hope you all have a pleasant evening. (And for those awaiting my Cranford post - it will come sometime tomorrow. I fell asleep last night only 10 minutes in!)

A pansy for your thoughts ...

Well, I made good on at least one of my promises this weekend ... I saved all the wild pansies in the front lawn, plucking their cheerful faces from the grass just moments before the mowing began ...


So now, what to do with all these pretty little blooms? Well, before they wilt, I will press them in between sheets of newsprint and stacks of large heavy books. The result will be lovely dried blossoms, ready for cards or bookmarks, or the pages of the family field journal.

Here are some I've already done:


(I couldn't help pressing some of the flowers with the roots still attached; I liked how earthy and authentic it looked.)

And while we're on the subject of flowers, don't forget to keep an eye out for the Full Flower Moon this evening! You know, I'm thinking some little moon-shaped (flower-topped) cookies will be just the thing to serve after dinner tonight ... :)

Happy Monday, everyone!

Weekend Outlook


Saturday morning here, and it's rainy and cool. Bill let me "sleep in" a little bit, which was so lovely. I actually didn't sleep - once I'm awake, that's that - but I did sit up in bed, with the lights on and the window cracked ... I sipped my coffee slowly and read a new book. Listening to the rain falling, a bird song I didn't recognize and then a crow off in the woods - it was such a nice, comforting way to wake up. Most mornings are, by necessity, 0-60, but today I let my circadian rhythms catch up with my plans.

So what are those plans? Well, it's the weekend (hooray!) and as usual I have all kinds of things on the docket...

~ Bill and I will be heading over to check out a horse farm where Earlybird will start hippotherapy soon. Mum's coming to watch the boys so that we can relax and concentrate. I'm really excited to see what this place is about!

~ Then, I have the usual run of errands to complete - including a stop at (big surprise!) Barnes & Noble, where they're holding a book for me. It's called The Mob (Book One in The Crow Chronicles), and it sounds very intriguing. I think it's considered "teen" fiction, so I will pre-read this before handing it over to Bookworm. (Who, by the way, will be a teen in a matter of weeks. Ack!)

~ We're getting close to planting weekend so I want to stop at the nursery at some point to pick up herbs, flowers and veggies. I will hold off from buying containers, though ~ I have asked Bill to pull out any planting pots we have on hand so we can take an inventory before buying anything new.

~ This rain is supposed to move out soon, so at some point Bill will be mowing the lawns (back and front). Before that happens I will take a quick walkabout to scoop up all the violets (etc.) sprouting up within the overgrown grass. There's no reason to waste all those pretty wildflowers!

~ We're also going to gather some clover from the backyard to press into our field journals. I thought this would be a nice way to spend Trinity Sunday afternoon. :)

~ Oh, and of course there will be Cranford tomorrow night! I'm sad this is the last week, I've enjoyed it so much. But I can hardly wait to find out how it all ends ...

Before I head out of cyberspace, a brief note on the top photo. Pictured there is my new summer mug - I found it on clearance at a local HomeGoods store. Isn't it pretty? I love blue and white. (Speaking of which have you seen the new issue of Victoria?) The mug has that perfect feel in my hand and was handpainted in Portugal so I don't think I'll be putting it through the dishwasher. This will be my herbal tea mug. :) Below the mug is some weekend reading - the Summer issue of Living Crafts (delicious), a new book about nature activities that I am loving (great ideas for Nature Club next year), and a quick little read about fairies. I saw this book at the bookstore recently, and though obviously aimed at girls - of which I have none, lol - it still looked so inviting, I couldn't resist. The illustrations were lovely but the title really grabbed my attention: Firefly and the Quest of the Black Squirrel. (You all know how I feel about squirrels.) And then on the first page I learned the little heroine of the story is homeschooled ... well, I had to have it. ;) And while we're on the subject of children's books, I'm going to try to carve out time to update our booklists on the sidebars - they are seriously out-of-date.

So there you are, my weekend in a nutshell! I hope you all have a great one, and I will be back again to chat sometime soon. :)

May Nature Study Club ~ Water & Woods


Yesterday afternoon, our Nature Study Club met at a local Audubon sanctuary to explore pond life and the splendor of the spring woods. I hope you'll enjoy these (many, many) pictures I came home with. :) As usual, it was an incredible experience ~ the day was beautiful - mostly cloudy and a tad cool, but with breaks of warm spring sunshine now and then. Perfect for a day at the pond!

My friend Mary led the group today (remember, each parent takes a turn leading the meetings throughout the year), and she did a fabulous job. She began by gathering the children in one of the sanctuary's barns for a talk about ponds and vernal pools. Below you see Crackerjack looking over his hand out. Mary chatted with the children about spring ponds - the wildlife, the food chain, and the effects of the environment on these amazing (and fragile) habitats.


Then it was off into the woods, a short walk to the first pond ...


The woods were quiet and mysterious. Crackerjack really liked this tree, and I had to agree:


Once we reached the pond (buckets, nets and field guides in hand) the children set about scooping up and inspecting the water. The spot was so lovely and secluded, nestled in the quiet woods. I had never been on this particular trail before so it was all new and exciting to me ~ while the kids fished around, I did too, looking closely at the surrounding nature.

I found an empty duck (goose?) egg by the water's edge:


I was so tempted to bring this home to our nature table, but the Audubon society asks that we always leave things just as we found them. And rightly so; I wouldn't want to disturb the balance of life here one bit.

Crackerjack and I spent some time marveling over the beaver lodge in the center of the pond:


And where was Bookworm? Well, he barely left the water's edge, so intent was he on his hands-on pond study! In the picture below he had called the group over to look at some eggs he spotted floating beneath the boardwalk.


Crackerjack did his own looking, too ...


The boys asked that next time we visit the pond we bring more than what I had packed for today (a glass jar, two spoons and magnifying glasses). A net or sieve would be good, and something better with which to scoop out the water. Duly noted.

Some of the kids found a damsel fly:


In general, you can tell a damselfly from a dragonfly by the way it holds its wings when at rest. A damselfly holds its wings straight and backward, whereas a dragonfly holds its wings out to its sides horizontally.

The lily pads were neat, and not actually green, but more reddish in shade:


We thought this flowering tree had interesting blossoms, like little white bells:


Here is a bug Bookworm found - check out its armored plates:


And another, a mayfly nymph, we think?


The aquatic creatures were truly interesting, though I found myself more drawn to the plant life that filled out the area. Like this moss, which Crackerjack thought looked like a tiny fairy forest:


And how about this tightly curled fiddlehead fern?


As we prepared to move from this pond to the vernal pool deeper in the woods, we had a brief visit from a gorgeous cardinal, his red all the more striking against the subtle spring landscape:


According to my boys, the highlight of the day was spotting a water snake resting near the pond's edge. It was hard to get a good photo, but if you look closely you can pick out his dark body beneath (and just sticking out of) the dark water:


Along the trail, we found an oriole feather. The colors are unmistakable:


And this fungus-ridden tree really caught our attention!


As we walked along, I was explaining to my friend Debbie that I have always wanted to see a jack-in-the-pulpit, when literally, not 10 seconds later, I spied one!


At the vernal pool - a shadier, and quieter spot, deep in the "forest primeval" - the kids were quite taken with this "monster frog," as they called him, peeking up at them from the murky depths below:


On our walk out of the woods, I snapped a picture of this leafy thing that seemingly grew everywhere. I don't know what it is, but I love the colors and patterns of the leaves:


And this one's for my friend Kim; the flowering trees are really spectacular right now:


Right before we ended our meeting, one of the boys netted a tiny ring-neck snake!


Once again, our Nature Club meeting was a memorable and meaningful experience. I am so, so enjoying this group - and not just for the nature study, but for the friendships as well. :)

This was our eighth meeting this (academic) year, and we have two more meetings in June. The first will bring us to the beach for some tidepooling and the second will have us back in the woods, hunting down all kinds of bugs.

It appears my friends would like to do Nature Study Club again next year, and I could not be more thrilled! I am going to host a planning meeting at my home one day this summer so we can sketch out the ideas for next year. When I think how long I waited to get this group going ... but everything has its time, right? This, apparently, is just the right time for our Nature Club. :)

And ah, yes, there was one more life form to observe - a stowaway discovered on the car ride home:


A dog tick: the bane of the spring woods.

Well, I must be off now ~ thank you, as always for stopping by and sharing in our day. Before I go, an "administrative" note: I have not forgotten about Mitten Strings! I just have not had time to write out a post for the latest chapter. Look for it later this weekend. :)

Happy Friday, my friends!

What I'm Knitting Now ~

Well, to begin with, here's what I just finished ~ my first EVER completed project:


This is a short scarf I knitted for my grandmother. She's 94, and loves purple. :) It might seem kind of off-season for scarves, but Gram is often cold. My mum helped me with the button hole - some little tricky bit a few rows from the bottom. As you can imagine, this project was very easy - 15 stitches, knit the whole way.

Here's how it looks on, to give you a better idea:


*Photo by Bookworm.

It's very soft and comfortable, actually. I hope Gram likes it. :) (And by the way, the spring blend I started with last month was also made into a similar style scarf. I haven't added a button yet. And I forgot to take a photo.)

Because I am still new to knitting, I am sticking to things that are very easy, to get myself comfortable with the basics. I started another scarf, in a nice cotton green blend, but I got a bit carried away. Knitting it longer and longer at Aquarium school one day, it dawned on me it would make a cute stuffed toy. Crackerjack said he'd like it to be a snake.


I plan to stuff it and sew on little eyes, maybe insert a red ribbon tongue.

The thing I'm working on now is another - you guessed it! - scarf. ;) I picked up this "creamsicle" blend cotton yarn thinking how nice it would look with my favorite cardigan (see picture at top of this blog) and trusty old sweatshirt jacket shown below:


I wear this jacket a lot in the fall, but it's always great for nature walks in the woods. The orange really stands out, and it's quite warm. The boys said they think this yarn looks like candy corn. :)

Other projects on the horizon ~ I am still planning to knit Crackerjack those red cotton socks, but I need to pick up a pair of double-pointed needles for that. Also, my friend Mary wore a beautiful knitted shawl to our Knitting Circle the other night; she said it was one of her earliest projects, and that she still has the pattern. I'd love to try making one myself in a blend of plummy tones. (Or maybe greens, I'm never sure what colors are good for me.)

I am working up to something in this book ~ hopefully the Weasley sweaters, one for each of my three boys - and hopefully by October! But October is only five months away, so I guess I'd better get brave enough to move on from scarves. ;) 

Now, for a real (and really lovely) knitting project, stop by my friend Leigh's, and check out her soon-to-be-felted spring tote! The colors in her bag remind me of these ...


... which are so in season right now. We have them growing all over our yard. Unfortunately Bill is allergic to lilacs, so I dont bring them into the house, except, as in this case, for a picture. (These were intended for my friend Kim who hosts our knitting circle each month.)

Well, I'd best be off to get this day started. Much to do in the morning, and then we have our Nature Club meeting in the afternoon. I'll be back soon with pictures from our spring day by the river. (Keeping my fingers crossed these clouds rolling in are not bringing rain!)

Have a great day, my friends. See you all again sometime soon. 

Fox in the Morning


My friend Beth sent me this picture of a fox who has laid claim to an old woodchuck burrow near her home. (Whether the woodchuck gave up his den freely or under duress is not known.)

Isn't he (or she) adorable? I read this bit of information on fox dens in the Handbook of Nature Study:

The fox lives in a den or burrow. The only fox home which I ever saw was a rather deep cave beneath the roots of a stump, and there was no burrow or retreat beyond it. However, foxes often select woodchuck burrows, or make burrows of their own, and if they are caught within, they can dig rapidly, as many a hunter can attest.

We had a fox (or foxes, I would presume) in our woods a couple of years ago. On occasion I would see a streak of reddish fur bounding through my neighbor's yard, or along the trail out back. It was thrilling. I think foxes are beautiful and slightly mysterious; they are definitely one of my favorite wild animals. If I am asked, as I am on occasion, what animal I would be if I had to choose, I almost always say a fox (other times it's a cat). Not that I think I'm beautiful or mysterious, of course, there's just something about foxes I admire. :)

I have to wonder about this particular fox, though. From these pictures, I think he appears to be a juvenile, but Beth says he also appears to be alone. I read that from December to April is when fox litters are born, and that the families stick together until autumn. I am wondering if maybe something happened to this fox's mother? Or I wonder ... this wouldn't be a young fox mother, would it? If that were the case, Beth and her boys might have a whole family of foxes to observe before long ... now that would make for some interesting nature study!

Well, I'm signing off for just now. I wanted to show you some of my knitting projects this morning, but I am waiting for the sun to rise so I have enough light for the photos. Knitting Circle was so much fun last night ~ a late night, though, and Earlybird had me up before 5. Groan. Off to grab another cup of coffee and get this day rolling ... I'll be back later to chat! :)

Cranford ~ What did you think? (Part Two)


My computer time is very limited these days, but I so hoped to get another Cranford review up this week. I don't have time to pick apart the particulars (though I hope you do!), but I will say, I enjoyed the second installment thoroughly. I am absorbed by the interwoven storylines (especially young Harry Gregson's - and I'm hoping someone nice shows up for sweet Mary Smith), the little Victorian touches (the parlor games and the Valentines!) and I am completely delighted by the humor (Miss Pole and the Jamiesons' poor dog!).

I hope this brief post will invite a little conversation about Cranford this morning, so if you have a moment and would like to share your thoughts on the latest episode (or the series in general), please do! And I will check back in later ...

*And as for Mitten Strings, Chapter 8 ~ I'm working on that too! Thanks for your patience. :)

The Simple Woman's Daybook ~ May 13th


~ Do stop by Peggy's for all the links entered in this week's Simple Woman's Daybook ~
Outside My Window ... a pair of Baltimore orioles, the first of the year!
I am thinking ... about a dinner menu for next week and marketing list for Saturday.
I am thankful for ... three healthy, happy boys.
From the kitchen ... there will be (fingers-crossed) pumpkin breads in the oven later today.
I am wearing ... my pale green floral pajamas (it's still early!).
I am creating ... pressed flowers and leaves for the field journal.
I am going ... to catch up on my emails this week. Promise.
I am reading ... the Twilight series (for myself), The Battle of the Labyrinth with Bookworm (we read separately but compare notes), and The Nixie's Song with Crackerack. I'm also listening to Tom Sawyer as Bookworm reads aloud to us all in the afternoons.
I am hoping ... my cat's echocardiogram tomorrow shows improvement.
I am hearing ... the dishwasher running, my cat purring, neighbors driving off to work.
Around the house ... today is Tuesday, so I will clean the upstairs bathroom and the living room, including the china cabinet if there is time (and energy).
One of my favorite things ... variegated yarn. I could buy every blend I see.
A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week: knitting circle, nature club, ladies' tea at church ...
Here is a picture thought I am sharing ...
I hope you all have a wonderful day!

Monday Morning Muddle

I am very slowly waking up from the reverie that was Mother's Day weekend, so my morning post is much later than usual. I hope your weekend was nice, too. :) Every year I request (and am generously granted) as much time as I'd like to just curl up somewhere quiet and read (or craft or journal, as the mood moves me). I was responsible for no meals or housework, and for the most part, Bill saw to the children's needs. It was very indulgent, and I admit, a bit hard to snap back to reality from. ;)

My slow start is also due to another blip in the usual routine. I had to fast last night due to some bloodwork this morning so I am only just getting to my coffee now. (10 a.m.) Ouch. It seems to be true as I feared - my brain really does need its regular dose of caffeine to kick into gear ...

So I'll be back later with posts that make more sense than this ... I have a Mitten Strings chapter to muse over, a knitting project to show you (my first ever completion!) and I'd love to know what you all thought about Cranford, Part Two. (I loved it again!)

Oh, but while I think of it (see that caffeine's kicking in!), do you have your apron on today? I think this might be National Wear Your Apron Day though I have read conflicting reports - some say the 14th, others the 12th. Whether it is or isn't Apron Day though, I will have to don mine later - at least figuratively speaking. Spending a weekend away from my usual domestic attachments does not come without a price, lol. There are counters to clean, beds to make and floors to sweep, etc ... it was entirely worth it though. :)

Before I go, here is my card from EB this year - a portrait of his Mama:


I think the likeness is uncanny, don't you? :)

Have a great Monday, my friends!