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May 2012

Bookworm's SAT Prep

Hello again, my friends ... I hope your Tuesday went well! A few people have asked me to share how Bookworm prepared for the SAT exam (which he took earlier this month), and I am very happy to do so!

Now, as crazy as it sounds, our Bookworm (this kid!) will be 17 next month, and as a (homeschooled) junior, college is looming large on the horizon. As this would be his first formal testing experience - since, oh, 1st grade I think (the one and only year I used testing as our method of evaluation) - we obviously wanted to help him prepare as best we could.

 So here's a quick rundown of what he did ...

First of all, we registered with this website and signed up for the SAT Question of the Day. (I get these daily emails myself - but to be honest, I only do the language questions - I skip the math ones entirely, lol!)

Then last fall Bookworm took a 12-week SAT prep workshop, which was offered at our homeschool tutorial center. (The older boys take classes here a couple of times a week - electives, mostly - art, drama, etc.) His teacher was wonderful - she was homeschooled herself and now teaches Spanish as well as the SAT workshop. She was a great mentor, and had some really helpful advice for the kids. She used this book with the kids, and just before Thanksgiving they held a "mock" SAT. (It was run just like a "real" SAT.)

So the workshop wrapped up in November, and after the holidays, Bookworm continued working through the Gruber Guide on his own, and he registered for both the May and June exams.

*Note: One thing we had not been aware of at first - students need a photo i.d. to show at the exam. In fact, they cannot take the exam without it. Since BW does not have his driver's permit yet (that's on the summer to-do list!), nor does he have a passport, we got him a state photo i.d. at the RMV. This only took a few weeks to arrange, but we did it well ahead of the testing date.

In April, Bookworm paused his current math curriculum to concentrate fully on "SAT math." The SAT exam includes algebra and geometry, which BW completed in 9th and 10th grade, respectively. Bill (who unlike me, IS a math person), found himself in this same situation when he was of "SAT" age. He ended up struggling a bit with the math portion of the exam because he found his algebra and geometry skills to be a bit rusty. So he made the excellent suggestion that Bookworm stop his pre-calc curriculum for a few weeks and instead, "brush up" on his algebra and geometry.

(I need to make a plug here for Saxon Math, which we have used since Bookworm was in 2nd grade. It's an excellent curriculum - and as a non-math person, I like the straight-forward manner in which the lessons are laid out. That said, it is also a curriculum that a math-oriented kid like Bookworm can do independently once he or she is comfortable doing so. There are even videos you can purchase (by DIVE or Saxon Teacher) that give instruction for each lesson, and we've used those now and then.)

So as we got closer to the exam date, Bookworm did some practice testing at home - some days, he just practiced in bits and pieces, but we also did a 4-hour mock exam one day. (As in, he worked straight through, taking only the suggested break times in between sections.) I think practicing how to concentrate for longer periods of time was helpful for a homeschooled student who's not only used to a more flexible learning environment but has had less standardized testing experience as well.

We also went over the list of what he could and should bring - i.e. pencils, sharpener, calculator, snack. We debated over a watch - he wanted to keep track of the time, but we were afraid his watch would beep and get him in trouble, lol! (Apparently they're real sticklers about any noise-making devices.)


So Bookworm took his first SAT on May 5th and as I happily reported last week, he did great. :) He's signed up for the June exam, too - and though he's not quite as, erm, excited to take the exam this time, he is hoping to nudge up his scores a little. (They allow you to submit the best of your scores.)

In the fall, he will take a couple of SAT Subject tests ... most likely math and a science. He has not yet started preparing for those, but I see there are study guides devoted to those individual tests. For now he's gearing up for another SAT and we're making summer campus visit plans.


Well, my friends, I hope this post was helpful to some of you in some small way. Obviously Bookworm's prep was tailored to his own situation and style of learning, but I hope you find some of these resources and links handy. As a homeschooling family, we're a bit out of the loop when it comes to things like this, so I'm glad we found that workshop and got our act together as early as we did. (And considering how early many kids start preparing for this, we were actually a little behind schedule!)

So thanks for stopping by and taking the time to read my rambles ... I'll be off now as there's a young fella waiting on me for tucking in bed. But I wish you all a pleasant evening ... good night and God bless!

I will see you again very soon ...

Remembering Memorial Day

Good Tuesday Morning, my friends!

What a lovely, long holiday weekend that was! Very festive and fun - but it's hard now to shift back into the "workweek!" Before I launch into my busy Tuesday, I thought I'd share a few pictures from our holiday ...

Mem day 16

I just liked this shot ... our front door open to let in morning light, the neighborhood waking slowly ...  Bill hung our American flag yesterday, and the cats were absolutely fascinated! I didn't get a shot of it, but Ollie in particular just could not take his eyes off this big, new, strange, waving thing ...

Eventually, they curled up and fell asleep in the doorway - I could not resist a picture of this:

Mem day 15

Midday, we hosted a cookout for family and friends ...

Mem day 14

I love setting up the buffet. :)

Here we have leftover Pentecost cupcakes - candles removed, flags inserted - made into Memorial Day treats!

Memorial cupcakes

I love the label on this ketchup bottle ...

Mem day 12

The dining table set with a patriotic display ...

Mem day 11

For our meal we had hamburgers and hotdogs, pasta salad, baked beans, chips, dip - the usual cookout fare. After lunch, we all meandered outside - some to sit and chat, some to play ...

Mem day 9

I served desserts on the deck ...

Mem day 8

There were cupcakes - both the aforementioned vanilla and sprinkle-topped chocolate (brought by Uncle Matt's lovely friend, Erin) - as well as ice cream with fresh berries and homemade raspberry sauce. Yum!

Love this picture of Crackerjack (with Bookworm in the background) ...

Mem day 7

Later on, after the guests had left, the kids lingered outside - it was such a beautiful, "summery" evening ...

Mem day 6

Bill tossed the football around with the boys, while I spied on our robin's nest ...

Mem day 5

Isn't it gorgeous? It's tucked just inside the lilac bush, sitting securely on the fence railing.

The sunset was lovely ... golden and soft. 

Mem day 3

A Memorial Day to remember ~ for family, friends, food, fun ...

Mem day 1

... and the blessing of freedom to enjoy it all!


Hope you all have a GREAT Tuesday ... see you here again very soon!

Memorial Day Monday

American Flag

It's Memorial Day here in the US ~ a day of parades, cookouts and cemetery services. On this day, we honor those who have fallen, and give thanks for all those who serve. Freedom is not free ... but it sure is precious.

Today is also the "unofficial" start to summer when pools are opened and grills are fired up. We don't have a pool, but you can be sure we'll be grilling today!

However you plan to celebrate - playfully, prayerfully, patriotically - I hope you have a wonderful Memorial Day!

And God Bless America, our Home Sweet Home.

Pentecost Sunday Supper!

{The Feast of Pentecost celebrates the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the 12 Apostles and Our Lady, 50 days after Christ's Resurrection. In the Catholic Faith, this marks the birth of our Church, as well as the end of the Easter season.}

We've had a full and lovely day ... Mass was beautiful this morning ... the vestments and altar linens were all done in red, adorned with golden flame and white dove. There was a display of fruits and burning candles on the altar. And our pastor gave a wonderful homily about finding God in silence ... remembering to quiet ourselves and our souls so we can hear Him. And as he spoke, he quoted Mother Teresa:

"We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature - trees, flowers, grass - grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence ... We need silence to be able to touch souls."

I'm not sure I've ever heard that before, but it really speaks to me. :)

After Mass, as detailed in this post, we visited the graves for Memorial Day, and throughout the balance of the afternoon we worked around the house and yard. One "emergency" trip to Staples for printer ink, but otherwise just a fairly typical, quiet Sunday. :)

But this is a special feast day for us, and so our dinner menu reflects that distinction. Tonight we're cooking over flame (chicken and veggie kabobs), and enjoying a fruit salad ...

Pentecost 6

... and ending our meal with delicious "birthday" cupcakes!

Pentecost 5

(One for each Apostle, plus one for the Blessed Mother. Tender white cake, buttercream frosting, and a flaming candle set atop each.)

"Fire gives us light and warmth, and that's just what the Apostles were given: light to understand all that our Lord had taught them and the warmth of the love of God which made them ready to give their lives to spread His Kingdom over the world."

(From The First Christians: The Acts of the Apostles for Children by Marigold Hunt)


Well, my friends, I hope you've all had a nice weekend! If you're from the US, then tomorrow you'll (most likely) enjoy one more day "off," as it's Memorial Day, a very important national holiday. We'll all be at home, and Mum and I have a nice cookout planned for midday. There are many things to be thankful for this weekend, including the brave men and women who serve our country as protectors of freedom. We'll remember them in our thoughts and prayers ... especially as we raise our flag, and watch those fireworks over the woods late at night ... we have much to celebrate ... much to appreciate!

See you all again very soon!

On the Last Sunday in May ...

After Mass this morning (Happy Pentecost Sunday!), the older boys and I accompanied my folks as they visited family graves. This is a tradition in many families at this time of year. I grew up helping my grandmother attend to the myriad family graves ... I especially enjoyed hearing all the stories about "who was who," and "who lived where" and "who did what." I probably heard the same stories again and again, but that didn't matter ... I was soaking up family history and spending time with my Gram. :)

So our first stop was at a favorite florist to buy plants - next year I *will* make something homemade! - and then it was on to the first cemetery.

Graves 1

It was a beautiful morning to begin with, very bright and mild ...

Graves 2

The boys helped neaten the gravesites by pulling weeds around the headstone ...

Graves 3

Here is where my mother's parents are buried (along with her paternal grandparents). 

Graves 4

And in another cemetery in the next town, we visited the grave of my maternal great-grandparents and beloved great aunt. I never knew my great-grandparents, but I was quite close with Great Aunt Dolly was when I was a very little girl. ...

Graves 5

This statue does not belong to my family, but I thought it was beautiful.

Graves 6

Crackerjack asked if we could stop so he could get a picture of the veterans' graves. My mother's cousin is buried here.

Graves 7

And lastly, we visited the grave of my father's parents and uncle. (Yes, there are Riley's on both sides of my family ... unrelated of course!)

Graves 8

Cemeteries can be hard for people - perhaps children especially - as they are reminders of something painful, a loss of a loved one. But they are also quite beautiful and peaceful ... they offer us a chance to remember those loved ones, and respect the very life with which we've all been so blessed. Goodness knows it goes by so fast ...

I hope you are all having a nice Sunday ... I'm off now to frost feast day cupcakes and mix up a big fruit salad. It's chicken on the grill tonight!

See you all again soon!

A Day at The (Science) Fair!

This post is about our homeschool group's Science Fair - and all the neat exhibits and nice kids - but most of all, it's a post about Earlybird and how he participated in his first science fair ever!

Sci fair 3

(The Fair was held in the community room of a local library. Unfortunately, there's not much natural light in this room, so my pictures are all rather dark.)

So to back up a bit, when I first got wind of the Fair, we - or rather, I - decided to do a tree project with Earlybird. I thought this would be easy since trees are readily available to observe. They are also something familar to EB and of which he is quite fond. There are other "scientific" things he likes - such as planets and steam engines - but he's a bit obsessive about those subjects. I thought we'd "branch out" a bit and choose something a little more low-key.

Ideally, when it comes to science fairs and the like, a child chooses his own subject. But EB can be funny about these things. Knowing that he'd balk at the idea of "doing a fair" or making all these activities "more important" than they seemed to be ... I kind of kept the Fair itself under wraps.

So we just started talking about and looking at trees everyday, and on Arbor Day, we conducted the "Tree Poll" at my blog. Then over this past week, leading up to the Fair on Friday, I kind of kicked things up a notch and we started creating a presentation from all our work. (At this point EB knew we were going to the library on Friday *with* Daddy because he had the day off, and that we'd see our homeschool friends there ... he still didn't know his tree project would be on display!)

And speaking of displays, here it is!

Sci fair 2

I chose an end corner next to the doorway for EB's display, because I wanted it to be easy for him to duck in and out of the room.

Our exhibit consisted of this:

A binder entitled "Trees by Earlybird" (only, we used his real name, natch) which contained many pages of tree-related information and activities (quotes from books we read, bark rubbings, worksheets, maps, pictures of "our" trees, a bibliography listing books we read, a favorite tree quote, etc.).

A bin holding "Tree Things" we collected: acorns and helicoper seeds, spruce cones (with fresh sap), bark, leaves, etc.

A maple tree sapling, complete with roots. (Pulled up from our front lawn.)

Also on display, our Tree Poll results!

Sci fair 4

Bill helped EB and me take our raw data and turn it into this great graph! (He used the Numbers program on my Mac to do this.) And as it turned out, maple trees are the most popular tree! (My own pick is the sugar maple - for its gorgeous, orange fall foliage - though I also love oak, apple and hawthorne trees, too.)

Just for fun, I had EB decorate a small tub with leaf stickers and we set up a small voting station as part of the exhibit. (Maples won, once again!)

Science fair 6

Fyi, the orginal results were as follows:

Maple ... 13 votes

Oak & Cherry ... 9 votes each

Birch & Willow ... 5 votes each

Dogwood, Apple & Eastern Redbud ... 4 votes each

Magnolia, Redwood & Japanese maple ... 3 votes each

The rest of the trees got 1 or 2 votes apiece: Poplar, Crepe Myrtle, Plum, Christmas, Banyan, Pine, Palm, Aspen, Ginko, Lemon, Lime, Mango, Carambola, Jacaranda, Pecan, Cedar, Balsam, Hemlock.


So the older boys and I had arrived ahead of time to help with set up. Bill brought Earlybird over a bit closer to the start time ... and as predicted, he completely changed his mind as they approached the library.

"No, I don't want to go to the Library! I just want to stay home!"

Fortunately, as EB gets older, it's easier to snap him out of these bouts of indecision and obstinance (they usually concern transitions of some kind). In this case I just took his hand and suggested a quiet turn about the library - no pressure, just walking around - and this seemed to re-set his batteries. Once he let go of that tension he was ready to try again ... in fact, look how excited he was to check the Fair out!

Science fair 1

Unfortunately (but not surprisingly) he would go nowhere near his own exhibit (or that of his brothers - seen below, to the left of EB's tree display) so I could not get a picture of him *with* his own project!

Science fair 20

I think he was quite over trees by now, lol. But he found the other exhibits very interesting!

Naturally, the solar system presentation was a huge draw.

Science fair 24

As was the shark exhibit ...

Science fair 9

 (He really wanted to get his hand in that blue water!)

As the room filled up with presenters and observers, EB got itchy, so Bill took him over to the children's room to decompress.

Science fair 11

Nothing beats a little train-table time for finding his "quiet" again.

Science fair 18

Meanwhile the kids finished setting up. I think there were 20 presenters in all! If I may, I'd like to give you all a little tour ...

Here we have a display about Bridges.

Science fair 10

And another on Migrating Birds.

Science fair 12

This one was all about The Human Heart.

Science fair 13

And this was an experiment on Current Electricity.

Science fair 14

This presentation was all about Aerodynamics ... that is a flight simulator program being demonstrated on the laptop. How clever!

Science fair 23

Here's a presentation on Robots ...

Science fair 16

... and another on Alchemy, an early form of chemistry, practiced in the Middle Ages.

Science fair 17

This was a very cool River Delta demonstration.

Science fair 25

And this was a super cool Magic Milk experiment!

Science fair 26

Some of the kids prepared talks to go along with their displays. This first talk was on Solar Energy - it was very enlightening! (And wonderfully dramatized!)

Science fair 27

This was perhaps the most adorable presentation I've ever seen. This little boy (I'm not sure of his age, but as you can see, he's quite young) prepared an exhibit all about the Saber-Tooth Tiger. His talk was very informative and focused. As he talked, he showed us his saber tooth fossil which looked just like the real thing - a tooth that could grow to be about 19 inches long! Unfortunately, however, as this young lad pointed out, his fossil tooth was only 10 inches long ... because they ran out of clay. :)

Science fair 29

And here are my older boys in the midst of their talk on Steampunk Science, aka "Victorian Era Science in Fact and Fiction, and How It Compares with Modern Day Reality." They talked about the Industrial Revolution, steam power and machines like submarines and airships as they were first imagined and then later invented. They brought books by Jules Verne and Scott Westerfield so they could give examples of science-influenced literature. And of course, they built Legos - a "steam-powered" airship and a scene from a famous "steampunk" movie, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

Science fair 28

Not shown, but also present, were exhibits on the largest flower on earth, first aid, tsunamis, as well as a great ball contraption.

Everyone worked so hard on their projects and everyone was so good about paying attention and showing respect to others. They really are a great group of kids - and familes! - and we're blessed to be learning and living alongside them.

As for Earlybird, well wouldn't you know it, he ended up having a GRAND time at The Fair! He would dart out of the room if it got too crowded (or too quiet if a talk was being given) but he really enjoyed looking over all the exhibits and asking the kids to tell him all about what they had done. We were very proud of how well he handled himself, and the day, from start to finish!

The Fair wrapped up around 2 p.m. At this time we broke down the displays and tables, gathered our stuff, said our goodbyes and headed home.

And that was our Day at the (Science) Fair!

Now, before I go (and I know I've kept you here long enough!), I'd like to show you what EB and I set up in his room today ... see the third shelf down?

Space shelf 2

This is the kit that was used by the boy who did the Solar System exhibit - the one EB loved so much! It's called Smart Lab: Stars and Planets. My friend Patricia told me where to find the kit and today I picked one up!

And when I got home, EB and I set up a little "science fair space" in his room ...

Space shelf 3

He's quite pleased, as you can see ...

Space shelf 1

I think the wheels are already turning for next year!


Well my friends, I hope you enjoyed this (not-so-little) tour of our Homeschool Science Fair! Thank you so much for reading and letting me share the joy we found in our day. It really was such fun - a great experience to remember and build on.

Hope you're all having a good weekend ... I'll see you here again very soon!


It's National Wine Day!

Wine day 1

And Happy Weekend - it's Friday at last!

We're celebrating a really nice day here ... Earlybird participated in his first ever Science Fair, and he did so very well! (BIG post coming tomorrow all about it!) While Bookworm got his first ever SAT scores back this morning and he did SO very well! And Crackerjack - though he told me he was nervous to speak at the Fair - found his voice and spoke right up to add his own thoughts to his and Bookworm's presentation. Good job, CJ! So we're celebrating our three sons tonight and telling them how proud we are of them all ...

(Of course, only the grown ups are having the wine ... the boys are enjoying more child-friendly treats!)

So as mentioned above, I will be back tomorrow with a post chock-full of pictures from today's Science Fair. It really was a fun day - filled with lots of neat exhibits and cool experiments ... and that wonderful feeling you get when you're part of something really special and good. :)

So have a great night, my friends - take care of yourselves and your loved ones!

I'll be back here again very soon ...

p.s. In the spirit of the day, may I ask ~ What's your favorite kind of wine?

Happy Holiday Weekend!

Ok, technically, the holiday weekend doesn't officially begin for oh, another 24 hours or so ... but Bill has taken tomorrow off, so we're starting our holiday early! And this makes me so happy ... as does finishing up Earlybird's science fair project today! So I thought I'd pop in to say hello, and share a few photos with you all on this fine Thursday evening.

Summer bag

My new summer bag. I'm in love with those colors!

Magnifying tree

Earlybird conducting "tree research" today.

Basket of school supplies

I love how appealing school supplies look "basking" in the sun.

Catfight 1

Our little scamps - in the middle of a "friendly disagreement."

(Note the terse ears.)

Catfight 2

Look away, Mother. You don't want to see this.

And how sweet are these pansies?

Pansy face

And one more thing ... I found this bracelet today while I was cleaning a drawer in my bedroom. Bookworm (and Bill) bought this for me at a craft fair when my firstborn was ... oh, two maybe three?

Mama bracelet

It's quite dingy and worn, but that's only because I wore it ALL the time for many years. It sure brought a smile to my face to see that bracelet again. :)


Well, my friends, I hope you've all had a good day, and I hope your evening is stretching out nicely before you. I'm going to sign off till tomorrow ... but thank you so much for stopping by. I'll see you again very soon!

Kitchen Cabinets & Pantry Shelves

Pantry post 1

Wednesdays are my usual "kitchen days," but I actually worked a little on my pantry yesterday. I was looking for the nutmeg (for a soup I was starting in the crockpot), and not only could I not find it, but things just kept falling out or tipping over and then I noticed the oregano had spilled everywhere ...

So I decided it was time to do a little sorting!

First, I took everything out and grouped things in general piles, and then I vacuumed out the cabinet thoroughly. Next, I turned my attention to the piles ...

Old things went out (and oh my goodness there were some very old things), and overstock got moved downstairs the the big pantry. The rest of the stuff I moved back into the cabinet, as neatly as possible. Now this particular cabinet is situated to the left of our stove and it's what I'd call our "main" cabinet, housing the items we use everyday: coffee and tea supplies, baking goods and pasta-related things.

So here's a little tour ...

First up, bottom left shelf - baking goods:

Pantry post 3

Decorative toppings and chocolate chips, baking soda and powder, cinnamon and other most commonly used spices. The pull-out drawer seen at the very top of this photo holds seasoning packets and decorating supplies like food dye and gels.

Next shelf up, savory spices:

Pantry post 2

Whole things like nutmeg, cinnamon sticks, vanilla beans, and star anise, etc. Then, in back of the savory spices I have all the flavored extracts, save vanilla. The vanilla is up front in the lower right shelf - I use it so often I need it quite handy. 

Pantry post 4

This shelf also holds our salt/pepper, cocoa, instant coffee (for baking), honey and favorite tinned teas. In the roll-out rack just above, there are two containers of frequently used tea (black, regular).

Just above that shelf, we have prepared foods, jarred sauces and pastas ...

Pantry post 5

As well as the cooking spray and coffee beans.

The top shelves are for less frequently used items ...

Pantry post 6

Extra pasta, sauce-making things, pickling spices and preserves.

And to the left, bottled things like Worcestershire, sesame oil, rose water, molasses, minced garlic, etc. 

Pantry post 7

And since I was moving all this stuff downstairs, I figured it was a good time to neaten the "big" pantry ... which is really just a hodgepodge of shelving at the bottom of our stairs.

The lighting isn't great, so these photos are dark ...

Pantry post 8

On top of these cabinets, I have two open bins - one holds energy bars and hot cereal packets and the other contains an assortment of herb teas. These are easy to reach from the steps and so handy when someone needs to grab a power bar or if I have people over and want to offer a variety of tea.

Pantry post 10

This is just an old bookcase fitted into a space where a freezer used to be. I really want to replace that old freezer and move the shelves just around the corner. If we get a stand up, that is, rather than a chest freezer. (Still debating that point ...)

Pantry post 9

Collected here are also random kitchen appliances like the bread machine, foodsaver, ice cream maker, etc. And for some reason, a folding tray, lol.

So there you have it! It's not as organized as it should be, but at least now it's a bit neater!


Well, my friends, I hope you're having a good week! Thanks for stopping by today ... I'll be back here again very soon!


Getting Ready for the Fair ...

Tree books 1

Hello, my friends! I hope your week's off to a good start. :)

I wanted to let you know my posting may be a bit light this week, because we're preparing for our homeschool group's science fair this Friday. This will be Earlybird's first time participating in the fair (in any fair, actually) and I want to help him put together a really neat project. (If you remember, his theme is "the fantastic forest" - aka all about trees.)

So while I'm not quite taking a blog "break" this week, I don't think I'll have the time to post as much as usual. Just thought I'd let you all know what's going on. :) But please wish us luck, and stay tuned for more details on our project and of course, the science fair itself!

And have a great week, everyone!

Masterpiece Monday: Sherlock (!)

Masterpiece logoOh my!

What a masterful finale last night!

Are you as stunned as I am?

There are SPOILERS ahead, so read on at your own risk!


Well, first of all ... thank GOODNESS for that very last shot! The one at the graveyard, right after Watson told Sherlock (or, Sherlock's grave) that he needed him to fix this, to not be dead. (My heart was breaking for Watson - how I love that actor!) So as Watson turns and walks away, the camera pans off to the left and - *cue big sigh of relief* - there's the man in question, and he's very much alive.

How on earth he did it, I have no idea. But I'm so glad he did!

I mean ... in my heart of hearts I knew he could not be dead. First of all, the series would be over! Second of all, the show would lose legions of fans, angry over this turn of events. (Of course it wouldn't really matter because the series would be over!)

But considering how we (and Watson) saw that climactic scene play out, there seemed to be no other possible result. Who would survive such a fall? And we all saw it was in fact him - we saw Sherlock jump - and we saw, not only his bloodied body, but his face as well. How on earth, could it not be him?

My thinking is ... it had something to do with Molly ... the pathologist friend to whom he went for help just before sending Watson off on the goose hunt (Mrs. Hudson being "shot" and near death). I have no idea what Molly did or how she helped him, but the fact that we were not shown what they did, or what he asked of her, tells me this connection must be key. 

But I guess we have to wait till next season to find out!

If you have time, I'd love to hear what you thought - your reaction and theories. I'll jump into the comments again later when I can ...
For now, I wish you all a pleasant Monday ... have a good day and I'll see you again soon.

Foxglove, Folk's Glove ...

Whatever you call it, it's lovely.

So I found a vibrant pink foxglove at the local supermarket this weekend and just could not resist snapping it up. I have loved these flowers forever - they tickle my Anglophilic heart, reminding me of the charming world of Peter Rabbit, as illustrated by Beatrix Potter.

I may be a lover of gardens and plants, but if you leave the actual planting to me, the poor specimen will perish before it gets in the ground. So Bill and Earlybird dug right in to help me out ...

Foxglove 1

This is the front birdhouse garden bed, where I hope to plant (or have planted) lots of butterfly- and bird-friendly things.

Foxglove 2

 Aren't they lovely?

Foxglove 3

"Foxglove, Foxglove, What do you see?"
The cool green woodland, The fat velvet bee;
Hey, Mr Bumble, I've honey here for thee!
"Foxglove, Foxglove, What see you now?"
The soft summer moonlight
On bracken, grass, and bough;
And all the fairies dancing
As only they know how.

("The Song of the Foxglove Fairy," from Flower Fairies of the Summer by Cecily M. Barker)


Well, my friends, I hope you've all had a nice weekend. Ours was very nice here - except for the part where the basement bathroom flooded due to sewer work being done on our street. Ugh.

We spent a good bit of time cleaning up. Luckily we have a lot of hands to help pitch in.

Bagster help 1

Looking forward to Sherlock tonight, and then to our chat in the morning!

See you all again very soon ...

Honk if you like happy endings ... :D

So, Bill walks by this same goose every day on his way in and out of Boston. He (the goose) is always hanging out by the side of a waterway ... looking kind of lonely. And as we know geese mate for life, we've been wondering if he was a "widower," or just a young fella who had not yet met his mate ..

Well, Bill sent me this photo the other evening ...

Two geese 2

It seems he (the goose) has found himself a lady friend! So that answers our question. (And rather nicely, too.)

And as Bill passed by the happy pair (after taking this picture), the orginal goose looked up, and gave Bill what he called, a rather "knowing" honk. ;D

Best Wishes, Gus and Gert!


Happy Weekend, my frends!

Our Afternoon Farm Stop

While Bookworm was at Art Class yesterday, Crackerjack and Earlybird and I took advantage of the gorgeous spring day, and paid a visit to a long-favorite farm. 

I say "long-favorite," because when Bill and I were first married we lived up in this area and this farm holds many fond memories for me. I would bring a baby Bookworm here once a week (at least!) to visit the animals and have a snack at the bakery.

Their main greenhouse is so lovely ...

Farm stop 1

And their bakery has many fresh and tempting selections. (Happily, the apple cider donuts are always in season.)

Farm stop 2

(Doesn't Crackerjack look so much older in this picture? It's hard to believe this kid will be 13 in August!)

At EB's request, I gave the boys pennies to throw into the farm wishing well bucket.

Farm stop 3

(I love that they still love to do this.)

And just look at all the vibrant dahlias!

Farm stop 4

I will definitely be returning to this farm over the next couple of weeks (before Memorial Day anyways, our traditonal planting time). There were so many wonderful annuals, perennials, herbs, vegetables, etc.

Farm stop 5

I was particularly thrilled to find out they will have morning glory plants for sale in a couple of weeks. I will definitely snatch up several of those!

Now, once EB spied the play area, we settled ourselves in at a picnic table, because we knew he'd be a while. And that was fine, because we had at least an hour to kill. EB absolutely LOVES playing in sand (or dirt) with trucks, STILL at 10 years old. (Because he's developmentally delayed, he still enjoys toys, tv shows and activities that appeal to younger children.) But I have to laugh at this picture, because look at the little fella just behind EB, all hands-on -hips and furrowed brow ...

Farm stop 6

You see, when EB appoached the wooden play structure there were several younger children already engrossed in play. He wanted to use a couple of the sand trucks (which had been piled up on the caboose) and his "intrusion" was not so warmly received. At least, not at first ... after a few tense moments, EB had won the crowd over.

Because this is my child, when he first walked up to the crowd (my homeschooled autistic child, mind you) ...

"Hi guys! How are you doin'?"

"I'm [Earlybird]! Who are you?"

"What are you playing? Can I help, too?"

"Hey, guys - let's work together!"

And so forth ... :)

("Socialization" is highly overrated, lol.)

Meanwhile, CJ and I sat and chatted at the table for a bit ... I have no idea what I said to him here that prompted that face, lol. 

Farm stop 7

I guess he's just reaching that age where he's not all that keen on having his picture taken.

While EB played on, CJ and I checked out the farm animals ...

The goats ...

Farm stop 8

The chickens (and turkeys and rooster) ...

Farm stop 9

The pigs ...

Farm stop 10

And the bunnies - though I didn't get a picture of them, because next thing I knew, EB had had enough of playtime and wanted something from the bakery. So back inside we went ...

Farm stop 11

My guys ... how I love spending my days with them.

Farm stop 12

EB had a cider donut and CJ picked out a muffin - one for his older brother, too. I myself had a tall, creamy iced coffee ... which SO hit the spot!

Before we left the farm, we weighed and purchased our rhubarb, which I used to make last night's souffle. I LOVE the experience of buying food from a farm and then serving it that night at our table. We are really enjoying our farm "studies" this year. 


Well, my friends ... it was a much quieter day for us today. Not so much in-and-out ... and as much as I love truckin' about with my boys, I do relish those days when we can just get our stuff done here (theirs, mine) with few interruptions. I myself got a lot of housework done, in anticipation of a busy weekend. I loathe wasting weekends on housework, so whenever possible Friday is a big "catch up" cleaning day for me.

I squeezed in some fun though - I worked on my newsletter and my clippings journal. Catching up with my creative side is a priority, too ... whenever I can manage it!

And as I finish this post, the day's wrapping up, and it's practically the weekend! So I'm going to sign off for now ... but you know I'll be back very soon ...

Have a good night, my friends!


Popovers & Souffle for Ascension Day!

Ascension day meal 3

As I mentioned in yesterday's homekeeping post, for supper last night I served a chicken/veggie/pesto/pasta ... as well as, in honor of Ascension Day, a batch of popovers and a rhubarb souffle - my first ever souffle!

Naturally, I must tell you all about it.


First of all, the popovers came out better than ever - light and high-topped - and I think the trick was bringing the eggs and milk to room temperature. The recipe suggests it, but I always forget to do this ahead of time.

And here they are, fresh out of the oven:

Ascension day meal 2

("Poppin' fresh" as Crackerjack calls them!)

Now, the souffle was a bit trickier as recipes go, but was really not as hard as I feared. The prep is actually pretty straightforward (separating the eggs was the most challenging part, I have such trouble with eggs these days) and the cooking is brief ... about 15 minutes in a 425 oven.

And voila:

Ascension day meal 1

A warm, golden-topped, rhubarb souffle!

(Scrumptious with freshly whipped cream.)

And by the way, the pasta dish was nice, too. I used some of the shredded chicken we had on hand, and some of the vegetables left in the bin - snow peas, peppers, zucchini - as well as prepared pesto and bow tie pasta. Easy-peasy, plentiful and good!


Well, my friends ... Happy Friday! A glorious day is dawning here, so filled with promise. I'm going to pour myself another cup of coffee and go sit on the deck ... to see if I can't carve myself a few quiet moments before the day really gets going. 

I hope you all have a lovely day ... I will see you here again very soon.