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February 2009

The Simple Woman's Daybook ~ February's End


~ Do stop by Peggy's for all the Daybook links this week. ~
Outside My Window ... The birdfeeders are shamefully empty right now, so there's not a lot of traffic this morning. I do see a purple finch pair at the tray feeder, and a young female cardinal on the ground underneath. It's going to be a nice day, with temps nearing 60! More snow melt will occur, leaving us with very little if any white on the ground. Though there is that pesky forecast for snow coming early next week ... looks like March will definitely come in like a lion.

I am thinking ... about March, and the changes I'm going to make to the learning room this weekend. Hearts and snowflakes will come down - shamrocks and rainbows will go up. :)

I am thankful ... for quiet days at home.*
*Let me revise. I am especially thankful for days like this one ... when the sun is bright and the wind is wild and the air is cool (not cold) and fresh. My goodness, I have the windows open all over the house - so lovely!!

From the kitchen ... I'm going to try making my own fish nuggets for dinner this evening. I've never done this before, but it seems simple enough. I bought a pound of fresh fish last night at the market, and I plan to follow this recipe here. On the side I'll serve herb-roasted potatoes and peppers, and for dessert we'll have some Girl Scout cookies.

I am wearing ... jeans and a Celtics t-shirt. Friday is cleaning day. :)

I am creating ... a basket full of spring craft materials - for inspiration and convenience.

I am reading ... The Secret Garden - still and again. This coming Thursday brings Book Group and SG is the younger group's title of the month. And it's my turn to lead ...

I am hoping .... (and I know I sound like a broken record here) that the snow in the forecast for Sunday-Monday isn't much and doesn't last. Please, please Old Man Winter give us a break!

I am hearing ... the wind is picking up outside, and on the next steet I hear some roadwork going on. I also hear Earlybird crashing his monster trucks and Bookworm flipping the pages of The Hobbit.

Around the house ... I'm going to do my usual Friday "pre-weekend" cleaning, but today I'll focus on the learning room. I want to refresh the room for a new month starting next week. I'll clear and de-clutter the shelves and surfaces. I'll wipe the windows and tabletop, and tonight I'll have Bill shampoo the rug.

One of my favorite things ... The dull March landscape. Honestly! 
I really don't mind the scrubby hedgerow and lackuster lawn. To me it's like a blank canvas full of promise - and it's a welcome sight after so many months of snowcover. I also love looking for signs of spring once we round the horn of February. This weekend - before the snow starts on Sunday (grimace) - Bill and I will take the boys down the bike trail looking for subtle changes that mean winter is nearing its end. We'll look for that owl nest and I will cut some pussy willow and forsythia branches for the nature table.

A few plans for this week ... Well, this weekend we have several errands to run and Crackerjack has a birthday party to attend. On Sunday, for St. David's Day, I plan to make a daffodil cake. Yum!

Here is a picture thought I am sharing ...
Our Lenten cross that will slowly come to life over the next several weeks.

Have a great weekend, everyone! I'll check back in again soon!

Meet Charlie ...


... the robotic dog the boys made at their Lego Engineering class yesterday. They built and programmed "Charlie" to bark and even wag his tail!
Next week is our final class - when all the teams will work together to build a robotic zoo.
(You can be sure I'll have pictures to share!)
I hope you're all enjoying your week ... ours has been pretty busy so far. Later today the older boys will attend the first meeting of their new "Pokemon Club" and the youngest has his social skills class. This means an easy supper will be in order - I'm thinking take-out pizza might just do the trick! ;)

*v* ~A Late Winter Nature Study ~ Owls~ *v*


Before I launch into my owl notes, I first wanted to address a more general nature study question. I was recently asked how I go about choosing our nature study subjects - specifically, if am I following a timetable listed in a book or a type of science curriculum. Although I do have countless nature-related resources in my posession, I don't follow any one text to a "T." What I do, generally speaking, is to follow the seasons, because it's so easy to learn when you're excited about the natural year.

I also plan studies around our Homeschool Nature Club schedule, which is one of our favorite monthly activities. So, for instance, in March our group will be visiting a maple farm and we'll learn all about maple sugaring. (So I can't help but think: trees and their gifts, local farms, evaporation, leaf buds ...) In April we'll be spending a night watching for salamanders (amphibians, night noises, the spring woods, vernal pools). In May we're going to learn about New England geology (rock collecting, dirt samples, erosion, stone walls) and in June we'll visit flower gardens (seeds, flower parts, gardening, pollination). 

As you can see, this schedule gives me a whole bunch of great themes around which to plan our ongoing nature study!

Since our current study focus is owls (see our owl pellet post here), I've made lots of notes on owl-related learning activities. I'd like to share them with you all today. (Activities mentioned in blue font are the ones geared toward my littlest learner, Earlybird.)


*v*First of all, as with anything we do, there are always books - lots and lots of books! Some we own, but many more we borrow from the library. I am already hunting down maple-related resources for next month. I display them in our learning room, and a select few will be featured along the top of the nature shelf. Please see my sidebar book list at left for owl titles.

*v*Earlybird enjoys playing with puppets and it just so happens we have two owl puppets in our basket - a big hand puppet and a small finger puppet. I'll make up a few simple stories for "the owls" to "tell," possibly in conjunction with a few other critters. For example, the mouse puppet could make a narrow escape, and the crow puppet could abandon its nest to the mother owl. I try to take actual facts and weave them into the stories.

*v*Another thing I like to do with Earlybird is act out the animal itself. What does the owl say? Can you hoot like an owl? Can we pretend to be owls, flying silently through the night sky?  

*v*Along the same lines, we might make up "an owl nest" using blankets and pillows. Since owls nest in tree cavities, I will probably clear out the cupboard beneath the china closet and let EB pretend to be an owl in his nest. I might even encourage him to go "hunt" for prey - small puppets hidden around the house (you could use pictures if you don't have puppets) - to bring back to his "nest."

*v*We could listen to and learn an owl poem. A famous one, of course, is "The Owl and The Pussycat." (We have the Jan Brett version somewhere around here ...)

*v*A short simple handmade book about owls can be assembled - with construction paper pages, possibly stored inside a sturdy binder. The pages will hold pictures (colored, drawn or printed out) and owl terms: eyes, ears, feathers, claws, beak, hoot, nest.

*v*We've long subscribed to a wonderful nature magazine, My Big Backyard, and we have serveral years' worth of back issues on our bookshelf. The inside back cover always has a colorful fact page about something "in season." The January 2006 page is all about the Great Horned Owl. I will color-copy the page and hang it as a focal point on our nature board.

*v*The boys can color realistic owl illustrations such as the ones found in the Dover coloring books: A Walk in the Woods and Birds of Prey. I brought home simpler line drawings for EB to color from the owl pellet class last week.

*v*Speaking of owl pellets - you could order a kit online and do an owl pellet dissection at home. We placed the baggies of bones the boys brought home from their class on top of the nature shelf for now.

*v*We will use our Birdsong Identiflyer to listen to various owl calls. The Raptor card features several owls, including the Barred Owl who paid us a visit the other night. If you don't have an Identiflyer, you can find owl calls readily online. Once the weather warms a bit, and we can open our windows in the evenings, we'll start listening for night sounds in the woods - like spring peepers and possibly, owls.

*v*On a mild day we will take a walk in our woods to look for potential owl nests. Clues would be large cavities and owl pellets on the ground near the base of a tree.

*v*I'm going to pick up a package of feathers at the craft store and make an owl mask with EB. This would have been fun to do today as it is Mardi Gras! I've also bookmarked a couple of cute owl crafts at The Crafty Crow:
*v*The boys can read about owls in folklore and mythology. There is also lots of amazing information here. I'll also ask the older boys to write a short report about an owl species of their choice. For reference, they can use the books we have on hand and/or the information we find online.

*v*I've asked Bill to make a log-sided owl house with the boys. The plans can be found in The Curious Naturalist. We'll set it up at the edge of the woods out back.

*v*For a family movie night, we'll watch Hoot, which is about burrowing owls in the Florida everglades. (It was also a great book!) Two other videos I have on request at the library:
*v*Just for fun, one afternoon I'll put together a little Owl Tea with woodland themed treats such as the Owl Pellet cookies I found in Small Wonders:

Mix together 2 cups white flour and 2 cups chopped pecans. Set aside. Cream 1 cup butter. Add 1/2 cup sugar. Mix in 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1 tablespoon water. Gradually add flour/nut mixture to batter. With lightly floured hands, shape dough into small "owl pellet" shapes. Bake at 325 F. for 25-30 minutes. If you like, while still warm, roll cookies in sugar (white or confectioner's). 

*v*On order from Acorn Naturalists, and due to arrive any day is this owl food web poster. I'll put it up in the learning room.

And goodness me, but I think that's all I can think of - for now! Lots of ideas here - not all will get done of course - but we'll have fun in whatever we do. And in a few weeks we'll know a lot more about owls than we do now!
I'm always on the lookout for more ideas, though ~ so if you have any owl study suggestions - you know I'm all ears! :)

Thanks for stopping by today ~ Have a great evening, my friends!

*A recipe for REALLY yummy cookies*


I know I said my next post would be the owl study post, but since it's taking me a while to finish that up, I wanted to tell you all about these amazing carrot cookies I baked today! I got the recipe recently from my friend and fellow homeschooling mum, Laura - who brought a batch of these delectable things to one of our recent Tufts classes. (We mums sit upstairs and drink coffee and chat while the kids are at class.) One bite and I was scrambling for a pen so I could jot down the recipe! (Which, happily, Laura had committed to memory.)

They are basically a soft "drop" cookie made with white whole wheat flour and mashed cooked carrots. Sounds kind of basic, doesn't it? Well, the extra special something comes in their unique orange-vanilla flavor, which is provided by a 1/2 teaspoon of a special flavoring, Fiori di Sicilia. You can order it through the King Arthur Flour Baker's Catalogue - $7.95 for 1 oz. 
That seems like a lot for so little, but you don't need to use much, and it lasts almost indefinitely. Which is lucky for me - because it just so happened I had a bottle of this stuff in my fridge! Never opened, never used - it just seemed like a good idea to order it last Easter! And I'm so glad I did, because it really makes all the difference in this recipe, I think - the citrus flavor is out of this world. (I believe it is the traditional flavoring used in Italian panettone - but Bookworm says it tastes just like a creamsicle, lol!)


The recipe calls for a cup of mashed cooked carrots; I steamed a bunch of organic baby carrots this morning. (If I was ever asked to name one thing I always have in my refrigerator, it would be baby carrots. My boys - Earlybird especially - eat them like there's no tomorrow! I guess there could be worse things to binge on, lol.)


And here's the rest of the recipe:

*Orange-Carrot Cookies*
 (Yield: approximately 30 cookies)

1 egg (room temp. works best)
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 - 3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. Fiori di Sicilia or 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 cup mashed, cooked carrots
2 cups white-whole wheat flour
2 tsp. baking powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
Combine flour and baking powder; set aside.
Cream the egg, butter, sugar and flavoring. Add carrots and blend well. Slowly incorporate flour mixture - be careful not to overmix.


Drop by tablespoons (or by cookie scoop if you have one) onto ungreased cookie sheets. (I use a Silpat.) Bake 10-12 minutes.


After a minute or so, remove cookies to a wire rack to cool thoroughly. (I think this keeps them soft but not soggy.) 

These cookies are so tender and fragrant and delicious! I can see these making a wonderful and relatively healthy Eastertime treat. Very child-friendly, too - as my boys can attest. :)

Speaking of the King Arthur Flour Baker's Catalogue, the mail just arrived and their "early spring" issue came today! It is filled with all kinds of Easter goodies! It's just the little breath of spring air I needed today, because the sun barely came out, the temperature barely budged 30 and the wind was like something out of the arctic! 
A good day to bake ~ and a good day to dream a little dream of spring. :)

Guess whooo paid us a visit last night?



He's a Barred Owl (we're pretty sure), and my mum spotted him in a tree on our street around sunset last evening. Isn't he gorgeous?! 

And isn't this sighting just completely serendipitous?

Because, as I've mentioned, we are focusing on owls right now for our current winter nature study. Last week we attended an owl pellet program, and this week I have all sorts of owl-related activities planned for my boys. In fact, that was - and is - going to be my next post. 

I have also mentioned that though we are certain we have owls living in the woods out back (having heard them on several occasions) we have never seen one - and we have no idea what type of owl lives out there ... until now. :)

He was HUGE (which makes me wonder if he was actually a female). He was awake. And he was seemingly entirely unconcerned with the flurry of activity going on below his perch high up in our neighbor's tree. He made not a sound, though the male cardinal just to his left (not seen in the picture) was making quite a racket - sounding the alarm, I would guess. He did peer down at us occasionally, and he even once swiveled his head almost 360 degrees! 

According to the site I linked at the top of this post, 

"Barred Owls call year-round but courtship activities begin in February with breeding occurring between March and August."

So I guess this guy was out looking for a date! ;)

Bill took the picture at the top - his came out best of all those we took. I took the ones below, but I think in my all my excitement I just wasn't at my best photography-wise. 



I can't wait for the next mild day when we can trek out into the woods to see if we can locate his nesting cavity. (I think I know just the tree to check, too.) We could check the ground around the base of the tree for feathers of even (gulp) regurgitated owl pellets ...

Speaking of which, the only downside to this sighting is that now I am in fear for the lives of my precious red squirrels! That would be one circle-of-life lesson I would not want to explain to - or experience with - my boys. Well, maybe these owls will ignore our little red tails and just stick to the moles, voles and mice.

Anyhooooo ...

I hope you all have a lovely Sunday. Thanks for stopping by today and sharing in our delightful discovery! I'll see you all again sometime soon. :)

Friday Nature Spot ~ Our Little Winter Wren

"The Carolina Wren's loud and varied repertoire and shy nature mean that it is more often heard than seen. The best opportunity for viewing this energetic and cheerful wren is when it sits on a conspicuous perch while unleashing its impressive song. Pairs may perform lively duets at any time of day and in any season. The duet often begins with introductory chatter by the female, followed by innumerable, ringing variations of tea-kettle-tea-kettle-tea-kettle from her mate." (Birds of New England)

We are blessed to have a pair of Carolina Wrens in our little backyard habitat. I think they might be nesting in our neighbor's front bushes - but they love to visit our feeders. They are particularly fond of the suet and seed-cakes. Their song has become stronger these past few weeks. I've heard them all winter long, but I like to imagine they're getting ready for spring.
(By the way, you can hear their pretty song at this neat website here. And sorry about the slight glare to this photo - it was taken through our learning room window.)

Earlybird and I have enjoyed spotting the wren (and/or his mate) every day at our feeders. He's easy to spot, but shy for the camera. When we hear his song we know to start watching the windows. Next week I'll be picking up a copy of Luba and the Wren to read with EB, and we'll make up a wren page for his Nature Book.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend. I'll be back again sometime soon!

February Nature Study Club: Owls by the Sea


Truth be told, the fact that we were by the sea had little bearing on the Nature Club theme of the month, but it made a catchy title and I just had to show you the view from the place where we met ...
The Atlantic is gorgeous in the winter. Cold, yes - but gorgeous. :)

All this to say, our Nature Study Club held its February meeting today, and our theme this month was owls. We met at a wildlife refuge located along a salt marsh.

We've explored this refuge before, but this is the first time we've been inside their discovery museum. As you can see on my left-hand sidebar, we have a little owl study ongoing - a post full of notes and ideas is coming on that very soon - but for today, the older boys learned how to dissect owl pellets. 

The museum classroom was set up with interesting owl-related stations. These three plaques showed (from left to right) the talons, prey and feathers of an owl.


This poster showed the owl pellet cycle in action:


Crackerjack played with a beautiful snowy owl puppet:


Here is an owl skull replica with an owl egg in the background:


Our teacher today, Mary, gathered the kids around to talk about owls for a while. What they knew, what they wondered about ... in this picture she's talking about how some owls have tufts that look deceptively like ears.


One of the really neat things we learned was that owls are absolutely silent in flight. This is because the tips of the wing feathers have tiny bristles that create micro-turbulance - a phenomenon that negates any sound the wings might make.


Mary showed the kids some beautiful stuffed snowy owls:


Then it was on to the pellets! Each child was given one pellet and various dissecting tools. 


Crackerjack was somewhat hesitant, but he got into it after a while.


Not surprisingly, Bookworm jumped right in.

(I have to make a confession. You see how both my boys are wearing dark gray fleece shirts? Well, I'm not in any of these pictures, but I was wearing a charcoal gray turtleneck and sweater today. But I swear I did not mean to color-coordinate with the owl pellets - it just worked out that way, lol!)

We learned that an owl pellet consists of the fur, feathers and bones that an owl cannot digest. These materials find their way into the owl's gullet - and when the gullet is full, the muscles contract and the pellet is regurgitated (i.e. the owl vomits). The kids were given reference charts to help in identifying the bones.



This was not an activity that Earlybird could participate in, but I did bring home some nice coloring sheets for him. (He stayed home with his Nana and they talked - what else? - planets.) But I do have lots of owl-related activities planned for next week - and many are kinder friendly - so stay tuned for more about our current nature study!  
For now, thanks for stopping by - I hope you have a good night!

The Simple Woman's Daybook ~ February 18th


~ Do stop by Peggy's for all the Daybook links this week. ~
Outside My Window ... the snow cover is slowly receding - large patches of lawn are visible, the frosty grass sparkling in the morning sun. A nuthatch hangs upside down at the suet cage and a female goldfinch is perched at the tube feeder.

I am thinking ... about my Spring Cleaning, which I plan to accomplish during Lent.

I am thankful ... for my blog readers who take the time to stop by and see what we're up to each day. :)

From the kitchen ... Around 11 a.m., I'll start a beef stew in the crockpot. We'll have it for supper tonight, served over egg noodles, with popovers and a salad on the side.

I am wearing ...  aqua blue pajamas - it's still early here! I plan to change into my "cleaning clothes" after my shower - ripped jeans and an old college t-shirt of Bill's. Not pretty, but sturdy and comfortable!

I am creating ... a new (and hopefully more efficient) weekly marketing list on my new word processing software.

I am reading ... The Secret Garden. It's my turn to lead Crackerjack's Book Group next month, and this is the book I chose. It's one of my favorites and a perfect story for this time of year. :)

I am hoping .... the snow event this evening turns to rain before it can accumulate much. We're just seeing the grass for the first time in months!

I am hearing ... a Carolina Wren somewhere in the yard. He has an unbelievably loud song for such a tiny bird.

Around the house ... I've shaken up the housekeeping routines, and made Wednesday a mini-cleaning day. Today I'll empty trash bins and clean out the refrigerator (freezer/cabinets). I'll also scrub the kitchen sink and wash down the counters and stovetop. Later today I'll start a meal plan for next week and a shopping list for Saturday.

One of my favorite things ... a stack of new magazines, a cup of tea and a comfortable seat by the fireplace.

A few plans for this week ... Most of our outside classes/activities are cancelled this week due to public school vacation. We do have our Nature Club meeting tomorrow at a local wildlife refuge (this month's theme: owls). If the weather holds I will take lots of pictures!

Here is a picture thought I am sharing ...
Because this just cracks me up. That is one mean-looking minifig. ;)

Guess where Daddy took Earlybird today?


They never made it inside the museum ... EB spent the whole time marveling over this:



My dad is a model railroader ~ I guess that grandapple doesn't fall far from the tree. :)

My heart is warm with the friends I make
And better friends I'll not be knowing;
Yet there isn't a train I wouldn't take,
No matter where it's going.

~Edna St. Vincent Millay~

Happy St. Valentine's Day!

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. 
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.

I love thee to the level of everyday's
Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right; 
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise. 

I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints, I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! and, if God choose, 
I shall but love thee better after death.
*Elizabeth Barrett Browning*

Winter Window Dressing

I just dusted and polished our bay window (and boy did it need it!) and set up this sweet little conservatory. I filled it with cheerful primrose plants, reminding us that spring is not so far away ...




The plants should enjoy this spot - it receives southern sunlight all day long. The added bonus is the cage construction should keep the cats away from the plants. ;)

Happy Friday, everyone!

Thoughtful Friday ~ Love & Light


Candle light, moon light, star light,
The brightest glow is from love light.
~Grey Livingston~

(I have no idea who Grey Livingston is, but isn't that a beautiful quote?)

I took this picture around 6 a.m. ~ the moon was still up, still glowing in the western sky this morning. Earlybird and I (the only two awake so far) have been marveling at it from our learning room windows. As we watched the clouds slowly pass over the bright orb, I pointed out the dark markings on the moon's surface and mentioned, casually, that we might be seeing the "Man in the Moon." EB turned to me with wide eyes, and then fled the room. I think I significantly freaked out my youngest son for the day, lol.

Well, yesterday was one of the busiest days we've had in a long time. Bill was home for the day and we took the boys to our homeschool group's Valentine's Day party. It was loads of fun!

Here's Earlybird working on a project at the craft table:


(I took more pictures than just this one of EB, but the light was funny inside the church hall, so the photos did not come out very well. Suffice it to say, it was a wonderful time - games, crafts, food, Valentine mailboxes ... great friends.)

Later in the day, the older boys attended a birthday party while EB participated in his weekly social skills group. Dinner was a brief and late affair last night, and then it was early to bed!

Today will be busy, too - getting ready for Bookworm's Activity Night which we're hosting this month. We'll have about 10 kids between the ages of 11 and 14 here for pizza and a movie. 

All this to say, I know posting has been brief this week, but it's been crazy around here! I have an "organization" post waiting in the wings ... hopefully I'll get around to that this weekend.

And speaking of the weekend - I hope you all have a lovely Valentines Day! I will see you all again sometime soon. 

Something happy before I go to sleep ...

The week is breezing by, and I can hardly keep up! Not much time for an organized post tonight, just a catchall of photos and notes. In fact, this was almost a Wordless Wednesday post but I had too many things to say about the photos, lol. :)


Last night I attended my monthly Knitting Circle at my friend Kim's house. As usual, she created a lovely tableau ...

This month's theme was Valentines. We all brought our wedding photos (except for yours truly who forgot). We also shared our wedding songs (that I remembered; ours was At Last by Etta James). We dined by candlelight - hot tea and plenty of sweets to choose from - notably, Kim's heart-shaped brownies served with whipped cream and strawberries. (Yes, we are totally spoiled.) And Hayley even brought a wedding cake she made! 

How cute is this?
I only got a few rows of my scarf knit (or is it knitted?) before the night was over, though I'm not surprised. Our group is usually too busy chatting (and eating!) to start in on any serious knitting before 9.  
OK, and today ... let's talk about the weather! Here in New England we hit 60 degrees! It honestly felt - even smelled - so much like spring. In fact, just lookee what I spied this afternoon:

Yes, that's an honest to goodness unfurling bud! I think the trees are doing their happy dance this week. Especially those sugar maples - I bet the sap will be running soon! 

I took the above picture while waiting for the boys at their Tufts Lego Engineering class. We mums usually wait up in the campus coffehouse, but the day was so nice we decided to sit outside and soak up the sun.


Above you see a lovely cookbook my friend Laura is letting me borrow. I really want to incorporate more soup meals into our menu plan.

And here's what the boys worked on in class today:
I'll let Bookworm explain:
"We finished our programming lessons and today we worked on our own creations. The only requirement was that it had to have gears that turned. Crackerjack and I built a small area called "Lego Land" with two towers, a few neat items placed around them, a pair of walls with spinning gears and a machine that played music I wrote on the computer."

Back at home, just as the light was fading fast, I snapped a picture of the pussy willow twigs Kim let me take home last night. I'm hankering to walk out along our woodland trail and see if any changes are underfoot. There are several pussy willows that grow along the river ...


Before I go, let me catch up with a couple of questions from previous posts:

And now I'm off to pop that ziti in the oven and get ready for the night. Lost is on at 9 my friends - glad I had that latte this afternoon!
I will see you all again sometime soon ...

The Simple Woman's Daybook ~ February 10th

Wow, it's been a while since I've done one of these! I think my last daybook entry was waaaay back in November, roundabouts Election Day! Well, it's about time I got back to my Daybook ~ it really is a fun and creative journaling exercise!


~ Do stop by Peggy's for all the Daybook links this week. ~
Outside My Window ... the shadows are giving way to the light. It's going to be a bright sunny day, seasonable for February - around 40. Maybe some rain by evening. The birds are arriving at the feeders now; a sparrow is pecking around in the raspberry hedge.

I am thinking ... about my friend Beth, whose birthday is today:
Happy Birthday, Beth!

I am thankful ... my husband's job is safe after a recent bout of layoffs at his company.

From the kitchen ... Hmm, that's a good question! I don't have a menu plan in place this week - just kind of making things up as I go. I have Knitting Circle tonight, and a late afternoon haircut, so I will have to do something easy. I'm thinking leftovers, or possibly homemade pizza. (ETA: Ham and cheese panini it is!)

I am wearing ... my favorite Levis, a white cotton shirt, black mules.

I am creating ... a new spring scarf with some greenish-purpley yarn.

I am reading ... The pile of books on my bedside table is absolutely ridiculous but lately I haven't had much time to read. That didn't stop me from picking up this at the library today. (It's a retelling of the Scandinavian folk tale, "East of the Sun, West of the Moon.") Still plugging through Midnight Sun with Bill ... his copy of New Moon on audio won't be available anytime soon (he's like 15th on the waiting list at the library) so we'll probably move on to reading that out loud after MS. 

I am hoping .... the groundhog was wrong and we get an early spring after all.

I am hearing ... the soft strains of Martha Speaks from the family room, lol ~ Earlybird's new favorite show.

Around the house ... my new weekday motto: sweep, swipe, straighten.

One of my favorite things ... the earliest stirrings of spring - more daylight, active birds, milder air.

A few plans for this week ... EB's therapies, hairdresser appt., Knitting Circle, Tufts Lego Engineering class, Homeschool Group Valentine's Party, Abraham Lincoln Celebration at the library, EB's social skills group, neighbor's birthday party, 11-14 yo Activity Night at our house (we're showing National Treasure 2), Valentines breakfast this weekend with Mum, Dad and Damee.

Here is a picture thought I am sharing ...
My new tote bag. :)

Holds a lot, as you can see. (There's that new spring yarn.)

Well, thanks for taking a peek at my Daybook this week. I'm off now to start supper and get packed up for Knitting. (Yes, this post took me all day to complete, lol.)
Have a good night!

A Few Happy Things Today ...

A new journal on the desktop ...
It was finally time to start a new journal. (The last time I made one was in early October!) I chose a pale green, bird-themed paper and a pastel alphabet ribbon for my pagemarker. I've been remiss in my journaling of late. 

Something actually alive at the nature corner ...
A touch of spring - courtesy the local market, not the backyard - makes the afternoon light all the more cheerful. 

New textbooks in the mail ...
Bookworm's new algebra curriculum arrived a few moments ago via UPS. Yes, he really is happy about it! The kid lives and breathes math, lol.

The Squirrel-Go-Round gets some action!
Our first - and only - customer took the bait, but figured things out and balanced himself pretty well. I think we expected more humor from the situation.

It's that time of day ...
My kitchen timer keeps me on track through the day and here the clock is showing me a great time of day. Bill is on his way home, there are six more minutes till I start fixing supper and the oven has just finished preheating. What's for supper you say? Tonight it's meatloaf, baked potatoes, salad and garlic bread. (Have you noticed we eat garlic bread at every meal, lol? And nope, not a drop of Italian blood in our veins - we just love us some garlic.) 
Just before I sat down to finish up this post, I slipped an apple crisp into the lower oven. Now the kitchen smells really good. 

Hope your week's off to a good start. So, tell me ...
What made you happy today?

Monday Morning Museum Pics


You know, call me crazy, but I could swear the sun is much brighter these days. It feels different as it fills my house ... softer, lighter, warmer. It makes my winter-weary heart so happy to see these little signs of far-off spring.

And the bird song! Have you heard it? Very early in the morning, some little bird out there in the woods is seriously getting his groove on - just in time for Valentines Day, I guess. ;)

Well, thanks for all your well wishes. I am feeling back to 100% now! Bill and his folks brought the older boys to the Museum of Science yesterday, and Bookworm took lots of pictures. That top one is a luna moth looking out at Boston Harbor. How I'd love to see one of these beauties in our yard this summer!

Here are few more of Bookworm's pictures ...





Obviously someone else took this picture as Bookworm is in it! (My guess would be Bill.) That's Grandma Barbara behind BW.


Crackerjack, admiring the bones of a Triceratops.



The (almost) Full Snow Moon on the drive home.

The Museum of Science is a great place to spend a few hours on a cold winter Sunday. The boys had a lot of fun, and came home with some possible ideas for a spring Homeschool Science Fair. 

Lots to do this bright Monday morning, plenty to catch up on ... I will be back again sometime soon!

Notes at the End of the Day


Today's weather: The very essence of winter - cold and gray, with steady snow all day long. Really beautiful - though, truth be told - I think I've had my fill of winter at this point. Move along now please, February.

Tonight's dinner plans: Grilled steak and roasted veggies, served over butterfly pasta. For dessert - three mini pies I've had in the freezer since Thanksgiving (they're still good, right?) - pumpkin, apple and rhubarb cream.

In the mail today: The "2009 Summer-Flowering Bulbs" catalogue from Brent & Becky's. This year I'm determined to grow dahlias. My grandpa grew the most gorgeous dinner plate dahlias. They are, to me, the most beautiful late summer flowers. 

Music I listened to: During lessons the boys and I listened to In the Hall of the Mountain King (over and over, lol). As I type now I am listening to Love Story by Taylor Swift - I'm not generally a country fan, but I really like this song. (Fyi, the iTunes store is a downright dangerous place.)

Plan for tonight: I'll read chapter 9 of Midnight Sun to Bill after the boys go to bed and then we'll watch something on our Tivo list. (Possibly Jaws, which, strangely enough is one of my favorite movies of all time.)

Hope you all had a nice day. * See you again sometime soon!