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May 2009

Rainbow Connection

A little while ago, as the sun shone through a sudden downpour, I set down the laundry I was folding and Bill put down the spatula he was wielding and we took the boys outside to look for rainbows. 
We were not disappointed!


"The work will wait while you show the child the rainbow, but the rainbow won't wait while you do the work." ~ anonymous

Hope your weekend's been happy!

Nature Club Field Trip: The Arnold Arboretum


My apologies, dear readers. I'm still trying to get back on track with my posting. After an illness sweeps through a household it can be several days before all the cogs in the machine get put back to rights. First comes the household itself - laundries are caught up, groceries are replenished and rooms are cleaned. Then come the missed lessons and make-up work. And finally the hobbies fall back into place. I also had a meeting here the other night for my homeschool support group to prepare for ... our topic was "closing up shop" for the school year. I'll post about our conversation as soon as I can. :)

For today, I'd like to share some pictures I took last week while on a field trip with our Nature Study Club. For our May meeting we visited the Arnold Arboretum. It was a glorious - if unbelievably hot - day.

Inside the visitor center:





And onto the path:















Happy Friday, everyone!

Tuesday Morning Memo - I'm Back!

I hope you all had a nice holiday weekend! Was it nice where you live? It was lovely here in New England - sunny and warm. Thank you for all your well wishes - we are finally on the mend. It was quite a crazy bug - it really did take all of last week to feel better. And wouldn't you know it, I got it worst. 

Well, I hope to catch up with you all soon, but right now I need to get these boys ready to go. I'll just quickly share a picture of my new little herb pot I bought at Whole Foods:


Orange mint, chives and English thyme - pretty!
(Now let's hope I don't kill it, lol.)
Have a good day, everyone!

Monday Morning Memo

Sorry for the delay in posting over the weekend, I've had a stomach bug and now Bill has come down with it today. Keep your fingers crossed for us that the kids don't get it next!

Quick picture before I go - the wildflowers by the back fence are starting to open. This one erupts in beautiful lavender flowers and attracts hummingbirds and butterflies!


Hope your week gets off to a good start. I'll be back just as soon as I can!

*>Star Knit<*


Last night I went to see Star Trek with my friend, Kim. The movie was - to use my native tongue for a moment - wicked awesome. It definitely deserves all the great reviews it's been getting!

I had to show you the pretty knit dishcloth Kim made me. Every time I see Kim lately she's wielding needles and working up another cotton dishcloth. They're adorable, practical and use up that pretty Sugar and Cream yarn I love to collect. I'm hoping to try my hand at making one as the pattern seems fairly straightforward and easy to complete. 

My new cloth shown above is knit in a lovely shade of butter, but what I want you to notice is the raised pattern in the middle? Isn't that fun?

Live long and prosper, my friends. :)

Yoo-hoo, Orioles!


Truth be told this never works, but we try every year - hanging juicy orange halves in our trees in hopes of attracting the migrating Baltimore Orioles. (This is a blood orange, btw - hence the red flesh.)


They also like our cherry tree blossoms, and every year when those pink buds start to bloom I know the orioles are on their way north.
 While I was taking this very picture an oriole fly by and landed in the woods. They're not easy to miss with their vibrant black and orange feathers. Hanging as I was outside the open window - precariously I might add - I missed the shot.

 I was hoping to verify an oriole presence before the 2009 Mass Audubon Oriole Project kicked off. So far there have been no more oriole sightings, but the oranges have grabbed the attention of the woodpeckers, titmice and this curious critter:


I guess we'll keep watching and hoping to catch that little flash of "Halloween" in the middle of May. :)

Have a good Tuesday, everyone!

Pretty in Purple ~ Lilacs for Mother's Day


For as long as I can remember, Mother's Day has meant lilacs. My parents have a lovely bush growing beside their porch, and as a child, I would fill vases with blooms for the breakfast table on Mother's Day morning. I would set those flowers on the table, alongside the blue and white china and pink-hued wine glasses and the house would be filled with the most magnificent smell. To me, that sweet heady fragrance is the very essence of May.

Nowadays I feel very fortunate to have not just one, but five lilac bushes growing in my yard! They are all in full and fine bloom right now and as I watched them near their peak this week I formulated a little Mother's Day craft in my mind. I had seen a vase like this in a magazine recently (cannot for the life of me remember which one) and adjusted it to our own requirements.

I used cans of pumpkin as the vase base (emptied and washed out, natch). I also used wide pretty ribbon, small doilies and glue. That was all we needed for the vases - for the gift tags I gathered plain white tags, a red stamp pad and a black permanent pen.


Using just a touch of glue on the ribbon ends, I wrapped the clean cans with ribbon as tightly and as neatly as I could. I then glued a doily to the bottom of the cans. I set them to dry while the boys worked on the gift tags. Each of my boys pressed a thumb into the ink pad and stamped the plain white tags. I then used a black marker to turn their prints into ladybugs!


As a final step, I filled each can with freshly cut lilacs.


A closer look at the tags:


Now, the ironic thing in all of this is that Bill just so happens to be allergic to lilacs! So here I have all these wonderful bushes to take advantage of, but I can't keep the blooms in the house for any length of time! So I make sure to stop by the bushes on my morning walks around the yard - to breathe in their aroma and appreciate their varied and subtle shades of purple. As for today's lilac-filled cans - once they were assembled, they were placed in a basket and set out on the front steps to await the grandmothers' arrival. :)

Here are a few pictures I took as I cut the blossoms this morning. As you can see, the sun was just coming up and the bush was literally lit up from behind.




(I also came across tiny wild pansies hidden underfoot. They always make me smile.)

Before I go, I'd like to share a few pictures from our Mother's Day brunch:


Above you see a pretty wrought iron bird's nest candelabra - set against a white doily tablecloth sprinkled with rose petals. The small stone birds once perched on the side of a bird bath that cracked long ago. (I bought the candelabra at Target a few weeks ago.)


I filled a teapot with "fairy roses" in shades of blush and orange, and set out the cream and sugar. A lit candle shone within a butterfly cloche (also a recent Target purchase -how much do we love Target?):


I am so in love with this candle holder.


For coffee I also set out my white china tea cups but instead of using the matching saucers, I placed the cups these small acrylic plates:






I bought the plates ($1.99 each) to use at our little nature teas. I figured they were the right size, botanical in theme and fairly unbreakable. These too make me so happy - it's always the littlest things, isn't it? :)

Speaking of happy little things, here's my Mother's Day gift from Bill and the boys:


Earlybird made the butterfly at his social skills class - the body is his foot and the wings are his hands! Crackerjack drew the flower on the present. :)

A final note about lilacs ~ later this month we'll be taking a field trip with our Nature Club to the Arnold Arboretum in Jamaica Plain (just outside of Boston proper). Today was their annual Lilac Sunday - and they certainly had a beautiful day for it. The arboretum boasts over 180 varieties of lilacs and I hope when we visit in a few weeks there will still be some in bloom - but even if the lilacs have passed, there will certainly be plenty to see and admire. The Arnold Arboretum is the oldest public arboretum in North America and a leading center for the study of plants. Perfect for our May nature study.

Well, I hope you all had a wonderful weekend, and I especially hope all the mamas had a relaxing and refreshing day. Thanks for stopping by my little corner this evening - I will see you all again sometime soon!

A Peek into my Pantry: The Corner Cupboard

Well, when I proposed sometime back that I would do a whole big post on my kitchen I honestly had only the best intentions. But then no matter how hard I tried, I would get the kitchen almost clean - photo ready so to speak - only to have it get messed up before I could work up a post.

(Kind of like how I can get my laundry caught up for, oh, about 10 minutes and then I have to start all over again?)

So, new tactic. I'm going to do my kitchen post little by little. I'm tackling corners of the kitchen one at a time and I'll post about each as I go.

Today's focus: the corner kitchen cupboard, currently known as the pantry.


As you can see our cupboards are a deep cherry color. I didn't pick them - the previous owners had them installed - but I do like the dark shade; I find it cozy. This cabinet sits in the corner of our kitchen, beneath the countertop (which is almond as you can see). 
Inside is a lazy susan type of device, and here's what we've got in there, turning the cupboard from left to right:


Here we have the toaster, various cooking oils and vinegar, shortening, canned pie filings, and a plastic container filled with sugars. (I had BIG plans for quick breads this Christmas, hence the many cans of pumpkin.)


Turning the cabinet a bit we have bread crumbs, soups and broth, pasta, canned fruit and spreads (fig and squash pictured).


And finally, pasta sauces, more pasta, the crockpot, flours and baking mixes.

Next up, we'll take a look at the sink area. :)

But while we wait, why don't you join me here at the island for a hot cup of tea? I'm brewing a fresh pot of this and I just took some rhubarb bread out of the oven.
Let's talk Mother's Day menus, shall we?

An Apple Study Starting in Spring

When one thinks of apples, one's thoughts typically turn to September, but really, this is a great month to start an apple tree unit. Just visit an orchard and see!


Look at all those pretty pink branches, spread out over the landscape like a blush. These trees are part of our town farm. I brought the boys here the other day in order to choose an apple tree to befriend. We'll follow it through the seasons of the year, and record our observations in our Tree Journal.

Here's the apple tree we chose:


Next time we visit we'll ask the farmer what variety of apple this tree bears.

And now for some close ups:


We immediately found a real "personality" hidden within our tree. See the face there?

The buds are just starting to open.


The structure of an apple tree is unique - stocky and sprawling.


I won't permit it of course, but this tree would make for good climbing!


Have you ever smelled apple tree blossoms? Heavenly.


A sparrow nesting up above ...


... strawberries growing below ...


... and lots of bees in between.


Goodbye for now, lovely orchard. We'll be back again soon!

In my next post I'll talk about some of our apple-themed seasonal activities!
Hope your week's off to a good start!


Homeschool Park Day #1

Our Homeschool Park Days have begun! Every other Thursday we will meet at a local park so the kids can run around and play. (The other Thursdays of the month are for Book Group and Nature Club.) Park Days will run through the spring before it gets too hot, and we gather in the early afternoon, before schools let out. (Smaller crowds.) Yesterday was an ideal first day - sunny, cool and breezy, about 70 degrees. The kids (from about 10 families) had a blast - swinging, climbing, scootering, playing pop-up tag, etc. 

Earlybird particularly enjoyed playing in the sandbox and on the swings, but for a little while, he and I walked to the river's edge to toss stones and look for neat bits of nature. Here's what we found ... 

A pretty woodland violet.

Tent caterpillar nests. Ew.

Pretty branches that looked like apple blossoms, but I think it was a shrub of some sort.

The River.

Lots of acorns were found (and pocketed).

The last day of April was a breezy, bright day.

A tree covered in some kind of fungus.

Another view of the river.

EB sitting on the riverbank.

We marveled at the river current ...

... and wondered if this was the work of a beaver?

A tiny nest tucked up high in a tree.

And ah yes - the kids on the playground.

May Day is here, and it's a mild, windy, gray day. Beautiful.
Happy Friday, everyone!