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May 2011

My Most-Viewed View

(My take on this week's Snapshots around the World theme.)


I see all kinds of things from this spot ... the woods, the sunrise (through the woods), the deck with the herb planters, hummingbird feeders and grill. I can also see into the yard where the boys play. I spend a lot of time here through the day - cleaning things, washing hands, preparing things to cook. I do a lot of thinking here too. I like this spot a lot. :)

My kitchen is on the back of our house, facing north, and unfortunately this room does not get much light. There is a very brief time however, on a clear morning, when the rays of the rising sun hit the kitchen window. These are the brightest moments in my kitchen all day. It's a nice time for it, too - the house is still pretty quiet, and the kitchen is relatively clean. I'm still sipping my coffee and getting my focus on the day ahead.

So here in my corner of the world (Massachusetts, USA), this is my kitchen windowsill/view. Pop over to the SatW blog to see their (beautiful) entries and others from all around the globe.

Such fun! I'm in the mood for kitchen posts now! :)

Thanks for stopping by today ... I hope your Tuesday's a good one!

Well, this has been quite a week ...

Firstly, thank you all, so much, for your heartfelt sympathy about Smokey. I can't tell you how comforting your condolences have been to us.

As many of you suggested, we're focusing on how long and happy his life was. Someday, when we're ready, we'll get another cat (most likely two), but for now we'll work on adjusting to life without pets. It's a very odd feeling for animal lovers like us. I'd like to think there's a special place in Heaven for beloved pets ~ because Goodness knows they are such a big part of family life and family love


Now, I had another stressful situation happen this morning. A situation that pales in comparison to losing Smokey - more of an inconvenience really - but it left me with a horrible feeling inside: I had my pocketbook stolen while grocery shopping!

I still can't believe it - it happened so fast, just a rapidly unfolding mess. I was at my regular supermarket, where I do my shopping every Saturday morning ... I had been about halfway through the store when I found myself in the cookie aisle pondering, of all things, Teddy Grahams. I couldn't remember if they were on the Feingold diet or not, so I took my phone out of my purse and called home. For about a minute or so, I spoke with Bookworm who looked up the information I needed re ~ the cookies. (Fyi, they're Feingold-friendly.) I was literally standing right next to my cart, though I was turned away. I had my pocketbook propped up in the child seat - with my shopping notebook and coupon pouch sitting atop it. After I ended the call, I turned back to my cart and immediately noticed my bag was gone. For a second I looked around me as if I had left it somewhere else but within moments I realized it had been taken.

Ugh, what an awful feeling.

Well, I flew to customer service, nabbing a manager's attention along the away. This set off a flurry of activity. They immediately checked the parking lot and the store itself, the trash cans, etc. Nothing. My pocketbook was gone, and so was the (shameless) person who did it.

Oh my gosh, I just never pictured this happening to me ... I'm usually so careful with my personal effects! And I'm hardly ever on my cell phone. I really only use it for quick questions - to my mind, they are expensive distractions - but in this case, it was distraction just long enough. In under two minutes I'd been robbed.

So I called home to Bill of course, who sent my parents to fetch me (yes, the car keys were in my purse). Meanwhile he called the credit card companies, and I filed a police report. I also mentally recalled what I'd had in my bag:

> credit cards, bank cards, checkbook <

> (thankfully) no cash <

> driver's license, health cards, library card, various store rewards cards <

> keys to Bill's Prius and the house <

> my shopping notebook (with various household notes) and coupon collection <

> a prescription I'd picked up just that morning <

Luckily I had my phone in my hand ... though that's some iffy luck considering my phone got me in trouble in the first place!

So now it's several hours later ~ we've canceled all the cards, and put a "stop payment" on the checks. I got another prescription (the pharmacists were so kind and made the refill fast, no charge). We've had the Prius towed to the dealer (that was the only key we had) and started the reprogramming process. And most importantly, Bill installed a brand new lock on our front door.

As much as possible (on a long holiday weekend) things are taken care of - but I just feel so sick about this. I feel naive - and dumb, really - that I let this happen. I feel angry that someone would do this to me - to anyone. The nerve! The absolute brazen gall! I wish once they'd seen there was no cash they just dumped my bag somewhere, but it hasn't turned up yet and I doubt it will. (It was my LL Bean "starfish" tote, my favorite summer pocketbook.)

But again, like my dad very wisely reminded me as he and my mum drove me home - this was all just an inconvenience. And in light of the harrowing, horrible experiences people have had lately - that people have every day - this was small potatoes. I wasn't harmed. We took care of our accounts and next week I'll replace what I can, and make more calls to assure the safety of our credit.

So it's true - it was a hassle. It was off-putting, and maddening, really. But in the end, it was just a blip in the big picture.

Maybe that person was desperate - I doubt they have the kind of blessings and comforts I have in my life. I bet they don't have the kind of support and love I have in my life. I'd even say they aren't very happy and, who knows, they might not even have their health. There's no telling what drives people to do these things. I mean, I know it's easy to say it's all about greed, but whatever the reason, this person felt they had to do this. I feel sorry for them, really. 

(I'd like to kick them in the shins, but I do feel sorry for them.)

Well, friends, thanks for letting me vent - and thank you again again for your sympathy and all your support. I hope you all have a lovely, long, holiday weekend ...

Stay safe, be well, and appreciate all you have. So many people have so much less.

I'll see you again sometime soon.


The house seems so empty.


Friends, it is with a very heavy heart that I write this post ... yesterday we had to have our dear Smokey put to sleep.

As I posted last month, Smokey has slowed down quite a bit recently, but has also seemed healthy and most of all, happy. He was such a wonderful cat - so affectionate and always up and about, making his presence known with his chatter ... curling up near us wherever we were, curious about whatever we were doing. He was gentle and frisky and fun ... and he truly relished the comforts of his home, especially the attentions of his family. And we all relished him just the same.

In the past 10 years, we've gone from a house filled with five cats, to now, a house with none. It just doesn't feel right here this morning ....

Goodbye, Sweet Smokey. We miss you so much.


"I love cats because I love my home, and after a while they become its visible soul." 
- Jean Cocteau

Our Happy Hummers

Well, I'm afraid I might be inundating you all with hummingbird pictures this summer ~ we just can't stop admiring our newest little feeder friends! The female, in particular, seems quite pleased to be admired. "Hazel" loves to perch in the pussy willow branches to preen and pose, while "Harry," a bit shier, prefers the old tomato stake at the far corner of the deck.

I find myself enthralled ...


This looks like the same photo, but if you look closely, you'll see she fell asleep.


(Honestly. How precious?)

Bookworm took this next picture, at our kitchen window.


He also took this picture of Harry, the more elusive male. 


And one more picture of Hazel. I swear she was looking right at me as I snapped my numerous pictures. 


"Is this my best side?"

By the way, here is the homemade hummingbird nectar recipe I use for our feeders. It's very quick and simple to make; I keep it stored in the fridge (for up to 3 weeks):

Boil 4 cups fresh water and then stir in 1 cup sugar. (Do NOT use honey!) Boil the sugar-water for five minutes then let the solution cool before filling the feeders.

(Found in Welcoming Wildlife to the Garden: Creating Backyard and Balcony Habitats for Wildlife - a wonderful book, btw.)

Now, just to balance things out, here's a picture of one of our red squirrels, taken by Crackerjack. It was a mild, muggy day and this fella was all tuckered out.


Well, Summer is now knocking at our door here in New England (temps in the 80s for the next several days), and the long Memorial Day weekend stretches before us. We're planning some outdoor fun, some work around the house, and I'm hoping to get some pots of herbs and flowers planted on the deck. Maybe some vegetables too.

But today I'll be baking before it gets too warm ... some delicious goodies for a gathering tonight, and a couple of quick breads just because. :)

I hope you all have a lovely Thursday! See you again very soon.

A notebook to go with all those folders ...


Well, it's that time of year again ... I just replaced all my file crate folders - and oh, how pretty they look, all bright, fresh and crisp in my crateThe FCS (File Crate System) has always worked well for me, there no doubt about that - I love the way my weekly folders "tame the paper tiger," to coin a phrase. Having a place to put things is certainly a big help - there's less clutter, and less slips through the cracks - but the real trick for me is finding a good place to plan. A comfortable and convenient spot to plan ahead and work in throughout the week at hand. In case you hadn't noticed, I'm a bit fussy about that - hence the frequent posts regarding calendars and planners, both purchased and homemade. ;)

So this past weekend I found myself fiddling with my latest "vehicle" for weekly planning. Most recently I had a section devoted to this in my homekeeping binder - but it really just wasn't convenient. I found myself flipping back and forth between the month @ a glance and the weekly planning section. Also in the past I've made up weekly planning sheets and attached them to the front of the file folders. That seemed like such a great idea - but it was inconvenient not having the weekly plans all together in one place. I also didn't like having to fish out a particular folder if I needed to write something down for the future - say, an idea for a Memorial Day outing, or a book sale at the end of the summer.

So anyhoo, I'm trying something new (yet again!), and so far I like how it looks and feels. I'm still working on the inside pages, but the outside came out so pretty I had to show it to you all. :)

Basically, I just gussied up a plain, spiral-bound notebook (shown below at far left) with some paper, stickers and ribbon. 


I used decoupage glue for adhering the paper to the front cover:


I added a pretty, sheer red ribbon as a page-marker ...


And some stickers for the front label:


It fits quite nicely in the front of the crate. :)


So now I'm working on setting up the inside, corresponding the dates with the file folders (May 2011 - May 2012). There are plenty of pages so each week is assigned a 2-page spread. I also bought a brand new academic month @ a glance calendar - actually, it's an old style I used (happily) for years. It's thin, light, portable and practical. It, too, fits nicely in the front of the file crate as well as the folder bin I keep at the side of my desk - and I'll be "personalizing" that next. :)

I'll post more about how I'm using the weekly notebook in conjunction with my weekly folders just as soon as I can. But for now I wish you all a lovely ... and safe ... week. Especially as we head into the holiday weekend - and especially in light of the storms ravaging so much of our country. May God be with us all!


Our Sunday Visitor


We finally got our hummingbird feeders back up, and so far we have at least one very active visitor! This is a female ruby-throated hummingbird ... isn't she just lovely?

I actually saw the male last week before we had the feeders up. I spied his tiny form zoom across the deck, making a beeline for the kitchen window (where a favored feeder hung last summer). I marveled to think he "remembered" where he got fed this time last year!

Above you see "Hazel" perched on a pussy willow branch. (Her mate we call "Harry.") Honestly, it was like she was posing for us - she stayed still for several minutes while we snapped pictures through the kitchen window.

But then she got down to business ...




Such a wondrous thing to watch, this fast, flying jewel ~ a bright blur of motion and color. (And by the way, Bill took these pictures while the rest of us oohed and ahhed behind him.) 

Before I go, how about a little Frost on this fine spring Sunday?

"A Prayer in Spring"

Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers to-day;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.

Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white,
Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night;
And make us happy in the happy bees,
The swarm dilating round the perfect trees.

And make us happy in the darting bird
That suddenly above the bees is heard,
The meteor that thrusts in with needle bill,
And off a blossom in mid air stand still.

For this is love and nothing else is love,
The which it is reserved for God above
To sanctify to what far ends He will,
But which it only needs that we fulfill.

I hope you all had a lovely weekend! I will see you again sometime soon ...


Friday (Animal) Fun

I have a couple of amusing/amazing animal websites to share with you today: Cute Overload (how I adored the red squirrel post this morning!) and Animal Tracks, a weekly photojournal at These are so much fun to share with the kids!

And remember - it's Endangered Species Day! We're adopting the Florida Manatee this year - we'll learn all we can and save what we can towards a donation. The "mysterious manatee" happens to be the cover story of the current issue of Your Big Backyard, and by the way, this is a great book all about endangered and extinct creatures --> Extinctosaurus: Encyclopedia of Lost and Endangered Species. A very colorful book, filled with interesting facts. We've had our copy for years so it might be hard to find ...

But for now, I'll leave you with a fun(ny) animal photo of our own:


(The top squirrel was either sleeping or playing shy.)

Have a great weekend, my friends!


Thoughtful Thursday ...

On Domestic Management and Systems:

"Housekeeping of today takes its place among the professions. The modern woman plans, directs, and guides the work of the home. She grasps the responsibility of her position, puts forth all her energy and ability in directing the home life as a business. Housekeeping is becoming more and more a matter of science, and the laurels are bound to fall to the woman who conducts her household in a business-like way. Home-economics

Good home management includes the selection and care of all materials used in the home and the keeping of accurate household accounts. If one is ignorant of the right kind of food to eat, of the proper clothing to wear, of the best kind of sanitary conditions of one's house, of the laws of health, of simple pleasures and the ways of right living, how can one spend wisely the necessary money for these things in order to make the home a happy, healthful place?

One of the most important features of good home management is a system. Another is a budget."

From Home Economics: Vintage Advice and Practical Science for the 21st Century Household (a neat little book I'm enjoying right now). 


A few random notes while I'm here ...

* Saturday is National Strawberries and Cream Day! I know just what I'm baking and what I'm going to splurge on while I run my Saturday errands. :)

* The first week of May was National Herb Week - so I'm late (we were in Disney that week) - but I'm currently working on my herb list for the year. Our lavender bed is coming back nicely, but the myriad herb pots on our deck are in need of much attention. Speaking of herbs, "Herb of the Year" for 2011 is horseradish. I don't know much about horseradish other than it's a hot/spicy flavoring for dressings, sauces and mustard. Next year's HotY will be Rose. Now that will be a much easier herb to work with! ;)

* Tomorrow, the 20th, is Endangered Species Day. A fun family activity would be to choose a species to "adopt." The kids could spend time learning about the species - doing research, writing reports, making art projects, and brainstorming ways to help. An awareness/fundraising event (such as a bake sale) could be planned for collecting contributions. 

* Also, Memorial Day is right around the corner - and that means a trip to the nursery is in order! This weekend I plan to take stock of the yard and see what's what. Next weekend, weather willing, will be planting time.

Well, that's all for now. Have a great Thursday, my friends ... see you again very soon!


Oh my goodness, it's done!

I finally finished our Disney vacation blog! Every spare minute I had this past week I was working on it, and it just went live a few minutes ago. If you'd like a peek at what Disney was like for us (and how we fared during the long, long drive there and back) please feel free to peruse our pictures and notes. I must warn you, there's a whole lot of pictures to sift through, and, true to form, I use a lot of words, lol. We had a wonderful time, and I wanted to be sure to make note of every detail - the big and the small ...

I hope you enjoy it!


File Crate Friday


I'm still working on our vacation blog (hoping to post it this weekend!), but for today I thought I'd check in with the file crate. I have been terribly out-of-touch with my file crate lately. Things got so busy here last month - between celebrating Easter and getting ready for our trip - I often found myself running on autopilot (and sometimes on fumes)! The household really does suffer when I forgo my folders - I get so disorganized and papers pile up. Too many to-do's slip through the cracks ...

So, yesterday morning I decided it was time to get back on the file-folder wagon. I went to grab a new folder from the crate to prepare for next week - BUT - was quite surprised to realize I had none! No new folders! I had come full circle, having used up all 52 folders. (Boy did that come up quick!)

Fortunately, I had already purchased my packs of new folders (back around Christmas when I had a bunch of Staples rewards to use up):


First, I emptied the crate and damp-dusted it clean.


The old folders I set aside to go through when I write the year-end reports, while the new folders I pulled out and sorted by color.


(I get a little crazy when it comes to color coordination, lol.)


Next I dated each folder for one week of the year:


Finally, I filed them all in the crate: two months of folders per one hanging folder.

May & June --> Late Spring

July & August --> High Summer

September & October --> Autumn

November & December --> Holiday

January & February --> Deep Winter

March & April --> Early Spring

Well, I feel much better having taken care of all that! I'm now finagling with the weekly planning sheets. At one time I kept them stapled to the front of each folder, but I didn't like having them so out of sight (filed away in the crate as they were). I currently have them stored in my big planning binder, but I'm not so sure that's the best place for them either. I think I may try making up a notebook for just those weekly sheets - a "guide" to the file folders (the weeks of the year), if you will. I'll let you all know what I decide. :)

But for now, I'm off - this week's coming to a close and there's still much to do. Priorities this week have been unpacking, laundering, cleaning, organizing photos, hitting the books, and using up trip food, etc. ... getting back on track as best we can.

I hope you all have a lovely weekend - since we were on the road last weekend, we're celebrating our Mother's Day this Sunday with a special breakfast after Mass. I'm looking forward to relaxing and enjoying some quiet time with my family. :)

Have a good one, my friends!

Good Tuesday Morning!

Oh, I can't tell you how good it feels to be back home! Especially to sleep in our own beds again! Not that we didn't sleep well in Disney, but there's just nothing like your own bed for true comfort and peace. :) 

(And yes, in case my "Pinecone Mickey" wasn't clear in its message - that's where we've been for the past several days. We took the family to Disney World! And lived to tell all about it, lol!)

At the moment, I'm knee-deep in laundry, trying to get the household back in order - trying to get the kids (and me) back in "homeschool" mode. Slowly but surely things are getting back to normal ... but I just can't believe how quickly that week flew by! It seemed like it was taking forever to come, and then one minute it was Easter Sunday and the next thing I knew we were driving off on a clear, cool spring morning ~ beginning our great big Disney adventure ...

I can't wait to share all our pictures with you, and tell you all about our experience. I've set up a new "vacation" blog just for this purpose and I will share the link as soon as it's ready. I must warn you though - I took an awful lot of pictures!! 

So it will be a little quiet here until I get the blog all ready - every free moment I have I'm working on it. I want to pull it all together while the memories are still fresh. In the meantime, I hope you all have a wonderful week. It's a little drizzly here this morning but everything's so pretty and green. All the flowering trees and shrubs are in full bloom, too - pink, yellow, purple and white. As lovely as Florida was (and it was very lovely), I truly missed the glory of Spring in New England. :)

Have a great day, everyone! See you again soon!


Cinderella's Castle at The Magic Kingdom.

Happy May!


Bring flow'rs of the fairest,
Bring flow'rs of the rarest,
From garden and woodland
And hillside and vale;
Our full hearts are swelling,
Our Glad voices telling
The praise of the loveliest
Rose of the vale.


Isn't it lovely when May Day falls on a Sunday? I hope you all had a wonderful weekend ~ enjoying your family, your home, the newness of spring.

See you again very soon!