Birds Feed

Off to a Snowy Start ...

Snowstorm driveway 1

"Announced by all the trumpets of the sky, arrives the snow ... "
(Frost)
 
What a snowstorm has descended upon the northeast! We're expecting a foot or so over the next 24 hours ... and it's already piling up! As much as I loathed the idea of shopping on New Year's Day, I did get over to the supermarket yesterday to pick up a few things before the storm hit - milk, bread, beef, coffee - essential stuff! Now we can just sit tight and watch it come down ...
 
Well, I hope your New Year is off to a good start! Have you spied any birds yet? A friend of mine whose son is an avid birder told me about this neat New Year's tradition - the first bird you see on New Year's Day is "your" bird for the year. For good luck and whatnot I presume. Well my bird for 2014 is the Tufted Titmouse, a rather common songbird in these parts, but a lively little spirit, quite fun to watch at the feeders.
 
Tufted titmouse 2
 
 I took the photo above many years ago in our old house and just for fun, here's a cheery painted titmouse on one of Christmas dinner plates:
 
Tufted titmouse plate
 
:)
 
I think it would be neat to "adopt" a family bird to "study" throughout the year, don't you?  What a fun project this could be! It could include seasonal observation, research, photography, sketching, literature/legends, conservation status ... you could choose the first bird you see this year (if you didn't see one yesterday, start looking now!) or take a family vote and decide which bird you'd like to "befriend" this year.
 
If you have a moment, let me know in the comments if you've seen a bird yet this year (and what kind) ... and I'd love to hear about any New Year's traditions or activities you enjoy. I think this is such a fun time of year!
 
Blessings on your day, my friends ... see you here again sometime soon!

The Meet & Greet

Archie spies one of the hens from next door ...

Archie and hen 3

Archie and hen 1

:)

Enjoy your Wednesday, my friends! And thank you for all the kind words and wishes for my Mum on her birthday. It's a busy day ahead ~ lots to do (make/bake/clean) for the holiday tomorrow. All my boys are home and Bill has the day off, and with that storm raging outside (just rain and wind now) it will be nice to stay cozy (and productive!) inside. 

What are you making today, anything yummy or fun?

See you here again very soon ...


Owls and Chickens and Turkeys, Oh My!

Happy Friday, my friends ~ I hope you are all well! I have a little nature story to share with you all today ...

So Mum and I were sitting at the breakfast nook earlier, drinking our tea, chatting about Thanksgiving, and enjoying the drizzly November day ... 

Breakfast nook

When suddenly Mum exclaimed, "What on earth is that thing sitting on the fence?"

Owl watching hens 2 

The very large size of the creature seemed to suggest it was too big to be a bird ... but upon closer inspection, we realized it was indeed a ginormous owl! From its perch upon the paddock fence, it was quietly (perhaps sneakily) watching "the ladies" (our neighbors' hens), who were visiting our yard for their "afternoon tea."

So what did I do? Well as I'm sure most of you can guess, I flew outside with my camera ...

Owl watching hens 1

... and got as close as I could, snapping away. It was almost eerie, the way this HUGE bird turned his head to stare me down!

I got just a few shots before he spread his wings and took off. He was aiming right for the hens, so I gave a loud hiss and at the last minute he veered off into the woods. The ladies, understandably flustered, ran off in a line, clucking and crashing through leaf piles as they headed home.

I came back inside with a few pics, wet socks ... and a thumping heart! 

(Our neighbors occasionally share fresh eggs with us ~ I think we've earned our next dozen!)

***

Oh, so where do the turkeys come in?

Well, my mum was telling me about a flock of turkeys she saw on her drive up that morning; they were milling about in a farmer's field not far from here. We were joking that the turkeys were pretending to be cows, as close as we are to Thanksgiving. 

;)

Have you had any wildlife encounters recently? What was the last bird you spied - at home or while out and about?

Enjoy your weekend, my friends ... it will be a homey-but-busy one for us, as we prepare for the holiday next week. We're also keeping our eye on our Earlybird (who continues to do well) and praying about his upcoming tests. (One in a couple of weeks, another after the first of the year.) Thank you again, for all your kind thoughts and prayers.

 See you here again very soon ...

**


Tuesday Tidbits

Happy Tuesday, my friends! I hope your week's going well! I have just a few things to share on this bright and breezy October day ... a little bit of this and that. :)

*

Well, somebody started solid foods last night! And despite what the middle picture might suggest, it was a hit!

Owens first solids 1

Owens first solids 6

Owens first solids 3

Last night he ate several spoonfuls before firmly closing his mouth, lol - but this morning he ate nearly the whole bowl! And he was grabbing the spoon and humming right along just as happy as could be. :)

(On a serious note, though ... I've seen some headlines about concern over arsenic levels in rice. Does anyone know if this affects infant rice cereal? We use Earth's Best Organic brand, but I don't know if that makes a difference ... I really need to look into this issue, just thought I'd ask if any of my readers can share any thoughts ... )

*

Here are some potted-up raspberries to transplant this fall. My mother-in-law very kindly dug up several shoots from our old house for us to plant here.

Potted raspberries

Now to figure out where to plant them!

*

The "ladies" were back this morning ...

Chickens on patio

I think they like our grass!

*

 I thought this made a cute picture ...

  Book worms

(Another homeschooler in the making!)

*

 And finally, a picture taken by Crackerjack of Archie ...

Archie close up

Our church does a Blessing of the Pets every year on (or around) The Feast of St. Francis. We did not take our kitties because they do not tolerate car rides/the cat carrier very well. Maybe next year we'll just bring a picture?

*

Well, that's all for now, folks. Many blessings on your day!


Friday Bits-n-Bobs

So yesterday may have been a day for apples but I made use of another autumnal orchard fruit instead ~  a couple of pounds of ripe and juicy Bartlett pears! I baked two dozen pear muffins with the pearsauce I'd made earlier in the week.

Pear muffins 1

And oh my goodness! I had one (maybe three) of these in the afternoon, with a cup of decaffeinated English Teatime, while sitting by an open window soaking in the fresh air and warm autumn sunshine ... just glorious!

(I've also got apples aplenty to use up - a whole bunch of Macs we bought at a favorite farm a couple of weeks ago ... I'll make them into a cobbler for Bookworm who'll be home from college this weekend.)

* And for supper last night I made a pan of ziti and a pan of baked chicken using up some spinach dip and whole grain bread crumbs ... along with a pan of roasted "early autumn" vegetables: squash, sweet peppers, onions, carrots, potatoes ...

  Potatoes 1

Now, a quick disclaimer - I don't want anyone to think I'm cooking like this every day. Hardly. I'm still trying to get into some routines here with a new(ish) baby and a new(ish) home. I'm just so tickled I did all that cooking yesterday I wanted to share it!

* Speaking of baking though, I must rave again about the King Arthur Flour Baking Sheet. If you enjoy baking - particularly seasonal baking - this newsletter is a must. Well, apparently I forgot to change my address when we moved so when I realized I missed the Autumn issue, I called to remedy the error ... and two days later I had my new copy! Wonderful customer service from KAF.

* Now, on Wednesday you know how I told you all about the little mouse we found (or rather the cats found) in our dining room? Well yesterday morning we had another interesting nature sighting ... this gorgeous Barred Owl!

Owl 3

I was upstairs in the bedroom with Little Bear when I first spotted the owl in the trees near the edge of our property. I promptly got myself outside (and the baby in a bouncy seat where Crackerjack could watch him) and took a few snaps. The owl immediately zeroed in on me so I only had the chance to take a couple of passable shots. He then turned his back on me ...

Owl 2

And just flew off into the woods. What a wingspan! He was enormous.

* Oh, and the Michaelmas daisies! Have you seen any where you live? Around here they are abundant along the roadsides. Apt timing of course, seeing as how Sunday is Michaelmas Day ...

Michaelmas daisies 1

Love that pale purple, so pretty against the goldenrod which is also all over the place. One thing I love about this time of year is how we have fall foliage starting - there are hints of red and gold in the treescape - but we still have the bright beauty of September's last roses and dahlias and hydrangeas and such. The best of both worlds ... nature's last lively dance!

:)

Well that's all that's new from me today ... thanks so much for joining me this week as I ease my way back into regular blogging ... have yourselves a GREAT weekend, and I will see you all again sometime soon!

**


Ladies Who Lunch

You know those eggs I showed you on Monday? Well yesterday the beautiful free range hens who laid those very eggs jumped the fence and spent lunchtime ambling about our backyard. We were at the breakast nook, Mum and I, when she spotted them.

How fun - and picturesque!

Chickens in yard 1

Chickens in yard 5

Chickens in yard 2

Chickens in yard 3

Chickens in yard 4

And this gives you a closer look at our backyard. I will have to do a full tour sometime in the near future. This shot is directly behind our house and you can see the edge of the brick patio. We have about 2 acres in all ...

The fence in the back of the pictures frames a pen once used for a horse by the original owners. There is a very old (dilapidated) shed there too, which we plan to renovate and make into a proper potting shed. And perhaps one day (in a year or two once Little Bear's a bit older) ...

We'll see about getting chickens of our own.

:)

Enjoy your Wednesday, my friends!


Lovely Little Hummingbird ...

Hummingbird at new house 1

Hummingbird at new house 2

Having our lunch at the kitchen table and watching the lovely hummingbirds fly back and forth to the feeder. Some of you may remember how fond we were of the hummingbirds at our old house - one female in particular whom we named "Harriet".

What shall we name our new pair of hummers , I wonder? (The female is pictured above, but there is a male too - he of the "ruby colored throat" - but he's a bit more camera-shy.)

Well, it was with very heavy hearts that we took down our birdfeeders this spring knowing we'd be moving and not wanting the birds to be so dependent on our feeding. I can't tell you how it saddened me to see the little red squirrel sitting on the branches outside the learning room, chewing a spruce cone because all the feeders were empty - and the hummingbird hovering outside our kitchen window most certainly wondering where the nectar she liked so much went ... :(

So I hope the next owners of our old house will feed the birds (I asked the realtor to put in a little plug for birdfeeding, lol - stressing how much we enjoyed a wide variety of birds through the years). But I can't dwell on that ... here at our new place I am over the moon to "discover" so many types of birds and critters in the short time we've been here ...

And flora, too ... very early this morning - before the heat got to be too much - Earlybird, Little Bear, Crackerjack and I walked around the property and started noticing all the different trees, plants and wildflowers (and weeds!) growing all over the place. For science this coming school year we will be studying Botany and we'll be starting our "research" right here in our very own 2-acre yard! That should be all kinds of fun ...

Spruce cones 1

Ok, I know I promised a "new kitchen" post and that will come very soon, but most likely after tomorrow's holiday. (Is it really the 4th of July already??)

Hope you're all having a good week ... see you here again very soon!

**


Settling In ~ Pictures & Notes

Good Tuesday Evening, everyone!

Well, my laptop broke last week so I've not been online very much ... but happily, the Apple Store worked its magic and I'm back in action. :) Just thought I'd post some pictures and notes from our second week settling into the new house.

First of all, Archie is doing so much better - he's back to his usual self, just a bit "holier" than he was before. (Lol, that was Bill's joke.) Seriously, though, he was so very lucky - the hole in his stomach was such a deep puncture wound, the vet said it stopped just outside the abdominal wall. We still have no idea how it happened ... we're just very glad he's ok.

Here he is "recouping" in his new favorite spot, on one of the kitchen chairs.

Settling in 8

And here he is with his brother. Remember all those window pics of these cats at the old house?

Settling in 2

I have a feeling we'll have lots of new window pics to share here ...

Like this one ...

Settling in 9

Just one day after hanging our hummingbird feeder we had ourselves a hummer!

She had been visiting these spiky flowers that are growing in a flower bed just off the back patio ...

Settling in 11

These flowers are also growing there ... might they be coneflowers?

Settling in 10

And I'm not sure what these cheerful flowers are growing out front ...

Settling in 5

Also seen out front ...

Settling in 1

A teeny tiny baby rabbit ...

(I think he lives under the ferns which I have forbid Bill from clearing.)

And a small "herd" of deer (a third deer is just off to the left) ...

Settling in 4

This is our front yard ... very woodsy as you can see!

Now how about the "wildlife" inside?

Settling in 6

Our older boys enjoying a hot dog supper in the breakfast nook ...

And introducing ...

Owen's 1st tornado warning 1

Settling in 7

"Little Bear"

... as Owen will now be known here at the blog.

:)

(We chose "LB" because ... he makes the cutest little grunty sounds - particularly when nursing - and he sounds just like a little growly bear cub!)

These pictures were taken yesterday when our community was under a tornado warning! We actually had to go down to the basement for a while! The weather's been so crazy lately ...

Ok, so that's all for now, but in my next post I will give you all a peek at my new kitchen!

Hope your week's going well ... thanks so much for stopping by!

**

p.s. I realize my blog sidebars are WAY out of date - I will be working on those just as soon as I can. :)


A Sign of Spring?

Robin in february 1

I know robins do spend their winters here in New England, but they're really not seen much until spring. (When those spring rains begin they come out in droves!) But since this is the first one I've seen in some time, I'm convinced he's a good sign - a sign that perhaps winter has turned a corner. (That's what the groundhog said, anyways.)

So I spotted this handsome guy in our front tree very early yesterday morning and since then I've seen him a couple of times - again in the tree, and hopping about on the front lawn. I'd like to imagine he's getting on with his spring business which is to mark his territory and start scouting out a bride ... just in time for St. Valentines Day, of course. :)

Here in Massachusetts we had "Focus on the Feeders" last weekend, a bird counting survey sponsored by the Mass. Audubon Society. We take part in this every year and it's always such fun. I was a little upset with myself this year because we've been lax with our feeding lately so I knew our counts would be down - but still, we counted! And our tally results were as follows:

blue jay: 1

black-capped chickadee: 2

carolina wren: 1

dark-eyed junco: 6

downy woodpecker: 1

sparrow: 3

mourning dove: 1

northern cardinal: 1

red-breasted nuthatch: 2

tufted timouse: 2

white-breasted nuthatch: 1

***

Do you feed birds in your yard? Have you seen any new birds at your feeders this year? 

Well, I hope you're all having a nice Tuesday ... take care of  yourselves and your loved ones, and I'll see you here again sometime soon!

Nest1


Sunday ☼ Snippets

Just jotting down a few thoughts from my day ...

There's a PBS preview here ...with a bit more information on Downton Abbey AS WELL AS a new Martha Stewart Cooking show! As many of you know, the MARTHA show was cancelled this year, and though I must admit I was an infrequent viewer, I will miss that big pretty studio she had! Actually, I still like her original show best - the one set at Turkey Hill, where she just showed you stuff but didn't try to "banter" with celebrity guests. Still, it's nice to know she'll continue to be a presence on TV! (And here's another article about the new Martha show from way back in April. Clearly I've been out of the loop!)

This was a beautiful song sung at Mass this morning. I'm sure I've heard it before, but it really struck me today ...

I just love it. 

I have more skls/bnls chicken breasts in the crockpot today - which means more shredded chicken for salad, pizzas, wraps, etc. I'll keep my portion plain, since I'm pretty sure it was Bill's bbq sauce - or rather, the chipolte pepper in Bill's bbq sauce - that set off my crazy reaction.

(Note to self: call an allergist first thing tomorrow.)

☼ 

And Crackerjack took this picture of Archie ...

Sleeping archie 1

He's holding his own - still sneezing now and again, but also still acting completely normal otherwise (eating/drinking/playing, etc.). Hates the meds of course, but what can you do?

But I love how we all flock to the learning room, whether we're learning or not.

Sunday snippets 4

But really, when are we not?

The older boys are at a "big boy" birthday party this afternoon, so EB and I made crafts and had "Sunday Sundaes" at home. The boy just loves to paint, and he'll paint whatever I give him ... though funnily enough, he absolutely refused to paint rocks today, lol ...

Sunday snippets 5

And I had planned to do this frame craft mid-week, for the Feast of St. James, but we made them up today since the mood was just right. :)

Sunday snippets 6

EB did the painting, I did the pictures. :)

And in another window ...

Sunday snippets 2

I love putting starfish and sand dollars in the windows at this time of year. I'm not sure if this is strictly a New England thing, or more of a coastal thing, but I see them here and there and they always make me smile ... so I hope our "seaworthy" windows make passersby smile, too. :)


Going a bit further with the shell theme - since shells are a symbol of St. James - I'm planning to make lemon madeleines and scallops provençal this week, and we may make this adorable seashell koala craft. Of course, I've been hunting high and low for my madeleine pan without any luck ... but I did find the minifig cake pan! Just in time for CJ's birthday next month! (You're not going to believe this, but he'll be 13!)

Lately, we've been enjoying the goldfinches enjoying our lavender bed ...

Goldfinches in lavender bed 1

I had kind of been kicking myself (as I do every year) for not doing much with our large patch of lavender... but seeing how dearly the birds love it, I feel somewhat less guilty.

Also, I wrote out a rather lengthy post on how I get ready for a new school year, since I've had a few requests for a post of that nature. Alas, I was on Benadryl at the time, so it needs a little polishing before it posts, lol.

(It should be up sometime tomorrow!)

Well, I'm going to sign off now, my friends - I expect my older boys and Bill home any minute, and I'm sure they'll be eager for supper. I hope you all had a nice weekend ... and I wish you a lovely Sunday night. 

I'll see you here again very soon ...



Another Morning in the Garden ...

Just before Bill left for work, we took a little turn about the yard ... it was a beautiful morning, the light filtering softly through the garden as the sun rose behind the woods ...

Morning garden 1

These interesting plants are in the birdhouse garden, and for the life of me I can't recall what they are!

Morning garden 6

Can you help?

And here are the lovely purple coneflowers, which naturalized beautifully this year ...

Morning garden 2

These are some of my favorite summer flowers, because I just love orange and pink together. But I suspect they are also a favorite of the bunnies - not for their color, but their taste. Note the frayed petal edges? I don't mind really, as long as the plants are not harmed further. But speaking of bunnies, as I took these very pictures, a good-sized rabbit flew out of the raspberry hedge, tore across the road and into our neighbor's yard! Little white tail bouncing behind him ... :)

So after Bill left, Crackerjack and I headed out to the deck to fill the hummingbird feeders and check on our herb plants. We were thrilled to see (and hear) two gray herons fly over - we've never seen them travel in pairs!

Morning garden 5

(At least, I'm pretty sure they are herons - it's kind of hard to tell from this angle.)

The herb garden is certainly feeling the effects of this hot weather (aren't we all?) so we watered and checked over the plants. One of the plants - the Chinese Lanterns - was riddled with tiny, bizarre, crustacean-like bugs ...

Morning garden 3

We have no idea what they are! Any thoughts?

And how about your favorite non-toxic method for beating garden pests? I have several books here with recipes, but not sure which is the best.

As always, I appreciate your suggestions!

***

And another update on my dad ...

Well, he heard back from the surgeon's office last night and it looks like he not only *will* be having surgery next week, but most likely on both the neck and the lower back at the same time. Not sure what that will mean for his recovery time yet - my folks have a meeting with the surgeon on Tuesday to reassess and confirm all the details. In the meantime, they're starting him on a steroid to reduce inflammation ...

Thank you again, for all your kind thoughts and prayers. They mean so much to us. I will keep you all posted as best I can. I think right now we just wait ... and hope ... and pray.

Have a wonderful Tuesday, my friends. I'll see you here again very soon.


Friday Felines & Other Fun Things ... :D

All together now:

FF june 1 1

Awwww ...

FF june 1 2

Why yes, we did put those boxes under that bench, just for you guys. Why else would those boxes be there?

Ff june 1 3

This picture just cracks me up: Archie laying on top of Earlybird's stuff - backpack, sneakers and hat. He has a thing about being smack dab in the middle of things ...

FF june 1 4

Ff june 1 5

Ff june 1 7

Ollie, meanwhile, likes to curl up somewhere out of the way - for instance, in the basement windows:

Ff june 1 6

*

Today we had our last Book Group meeting of the year (June's title: A Wrinkle in Time). Bookworm gave the moms a break and led the kids' discussion this month (he's going to do this next year, too). After the meeting ended, my friend Jenney and I took the kids out for ice cream ...

Book group finale 1

Book group finale 2

A Beautiful Spring Friday - a great day to enjoy ice cream with friends. :) And while we were there we were visited by a red-winged blackbird.  

Red-winged blackbird

Later, back at home, we spotted this cool little moth(?) in the clover patch.

Orange moth on clover 1

And I'm very happy to report the lavender is blooming!

Lavender bed 1

*

Friday is desk day ...

Friday fun 1

Friday fun 4

Friday fun 5

 ❤ I'm a little in love with my desk. ❤

And guess what this is?

Friday fun 3

It's Crackerjack's new Lego Store Lego set!

Friday fun 2

He got this "exclusive set" last Saturday at the grand opening of a local Lego Store. It wasn't free, but you would get it for free if you spent $30 - which CJ was fully prepared to do. He and Bookworm had been saving money for some Lord of the Rings sets, so all in all, it was a pretty big day in this Lego neighborhood. :)

*

Well, my friends, I hope you've all had a nice Friday. Boy, did that week fly by fast! And now another weekend is upon us ...do you have any special plans? Bookworm is taking the SAT again tomorrow (prayers are much appreciated!) and Crackerjack's team (tied for 1st place) has its final regular game of the season. Also, my "little" brother turns 40 (40!) this Monday so we'll be having a special little dinner for him on Sunday.

Lots of nice things to look forward to ...

See you all 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!


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!


Some Happy Weekend Things

Hello, everyone ~ I hope you're all having a nice weekend! We're enjoying beautiful spring weather here in New England. It's bright and brisk and feels just like spring should. So I have some photos and thoughts to share with you ... just a few simple, happy things.

:)

First of all, I stopped at my favorite paper-craft supply store yesterday:

HW4:28:1

And they kindly allowed me to take pictures. Doesn't it look yummy?

HW4:28:2

When I visit this shop, I always feel a little like a kid in a candy store ... and very happily this time I had a gift coupon to use for my purchase!

Speaking of which ...

HW4:28:8

I bought some lovely floral papers, vintage looking stamps, tea-themed stickers and a package of small, ivory doilies.

I also "splurged" on the newest copy of Where Women Create and The Herb Quarterly. The current issue of THQ focuses on "The 2012 Herb of the Year" which is the Rose. (Which is SO much easier to work with than last year's Horseradish, lol. Next year it's Elderberry, by the way.)

HW4:28:3

And did you know that next week (as in, the week leading up to Mother's Day) is "National Herb Week?" I'm thinking a trip to the nursery is in order. ;)

There were also many "happy" things to find in the yard this weekend ...

HW4:28:5

The lilacs are in full bloom (so early!), and just look at these little beauties ...

HW4:28:6

Our lily-of-the-valley plants are really spreading out ... they have the sweetest spring scent.

Our red azalea bush is also in bright bloom:

HW4:28:11

It will hopefully help entice our friendly little hummingbirds back to our yard. Remember Our Happy Hummers from last year?

We also put up our feeders yesterday, filled with freshly made hummingbird nectar. According to the Mass. Audubon Society this week is the perfect week to put out hummingbird feeders.

HW4:28:9

Now we just sit back and wait ... 

Of course, Archie would take a more proactive approach.

HW4:28:7

(He's actually crying at me because he does not like to be left inside while we're all outside. He so wants to be a real boy. Archie and Oliver are strictly indoor cats, however, so the screens are as close as they get to the great big outdoors.)

Speaking of my feline fellas, here are Archie (left) and Ollie (right) watching Bill work on the front steps this morning.

HW4:28:10

I love how they're always all up in our business, lol.

And finally, one more picture to share, an early morning shot of our church ...

HW4:28:13

It never looks prettier than it does at this time of year, when those twin trees flanking the entrance are in perfect bloom.

**

Well, my friends, I'm going to sign off for now, as it's getting quite late in the day. Early tomorow I'll have the "Masterpiece Monday" post up so we can get the conversation rolling (including Birdsong, part 2 and Once Upon a Time), and then I'll announce the winner of Earlybird's Arbor Day Poll & Book Giveaway. Thank you again for the terrific response! I find your votes so interesting, but I especially enjoy reading the little stories and memories behind your selections. It's quite clear we all have a real fondness for trees. :)

A file crate post is also in the works, because it's that time of year again! I almost had it done in time to publish today, but then I got busy with some thing or another. (Isn't that always the way, lol?) So look for that post coming up, too.

Have a good night, everyone! See you here again very soon ...


John James Audubon's Birthday ...

I just found out it's today!

The Massachusetts Audubon Society was asking its members to report in on chipmunk activity, and since we just spotted our first chipmunk of the year, I jumped into the conversation ... and that's when I noticed another member wishing the late Mr. Audubon "best birthday wishes."

:)

Well! As long-time members of the MAS (and life-long nature lovers), I consider this a great day to celebrate in some small way or another!

First, we could learn more about the man himself, and the society set up in his name. There are things to read online, but I also found a 55-minute documentary called, John James Audubon: Drawn by Nature. It is available on Netflix as "streaming" video, which means you can watch it immediately if you subscribe to that service (which we do). This will be something nice to watch with the kids after dinner!

There are (of course) a few books at the library I'd like to check out ...

The Boy Who Drew Birds: A Story of John James Audubon

John Audubon: Young Naturalist

John James Audubon's Journal of 1826: The Voyage to the Birds of America

*

And naturally, we took extra-special care to fill all our birdfeeders today!

Now, speaking of special days that are nature and history related ... tomorrow is Arbor Day ... and I have a very special post planned for that. :)

Hope you're all having a great day!


A Fine Spring Day

For many families in the US, this is Spring Vacation week ... but our homeschool does not take this week "off." Rather, we take a sizeable break during Holy Week, and a few days just after Easter. All this to say - technically this is a "school day" for us. However, I was ill yesterday with a (blessedly brief) stomach bug, and though I feel SO much better today I really did not have it in me to do much at all this morning. Since Bookworm was doing some lawn work for our neighbor, and the weather was just SO nice, I joined the younger two out back for some impromptu exploring ...

And WOW, has Spring ever sprung! Everything's popping up and leafing out and all a-buzz with birdsong and bugs. The air felt good - just a little bit cool - and oh my goodness, that glorious sun!

So it was fun to get reacquainted with our own backyard, and I thought you might like to see some of the pictures I snapped. This is a nice activity for the upcoming Earth Day - just walking around your own property, looking for new life and remembering what grows where ... and most of all, seeing all the possibilities. :)

So here we have perhaps the most exciting "find" of the morning ... dandlion fluff on which we make wishes!

Dandelion wishes

Meanwhile, Crackerjack got some serious height in the trampoline.

Jack in trampoline

But what is this?

Fine spring day 20

An inchworm dropped right into Crackerjack's hand!

Fine spring day 1

Marveling at the marvelous ...

Our bleeding hearts, so pretty.

Fine spring day 2

The deck - in need of a good scrub down/spruce up. Here's where we'll have our container herb garden.

Fine spring day 3

A tiny forest of purple.

Fine spring day 4

The lilacs are nearly ready ...

Fine spring day 5

Then, a dandelion discussion ensued:

Fine spring day 7

Can you eat them?

Why are they called dandy-lions?

Why would somebody eat them? 

Fine spring day 8

How come our yard is the only one that grows dandelions?

(lol)

Miniature maple leaves.

Fine spring day 9

Our "Friends of Saint Francis" corner.

Fine spring day 10

We filled the birdfeeders and then stood as still as we could ...

Fine spring day 12

The boys had given up but I got to see this little guy:

Fine spring day 11

While He-Who-Wants-To-Be-A-Real-Boy watched from the doorway.

Fine spring day 13

And the eldest worked hard next door.

Fine spring day 14

(He charges $10 an hour and he does excellent work.)

:)

Lovely little seedlings ...

Fine spring day 15

Hard to see, but the cherry blossoms are starting!

Fine spring day 16

As are the new spruce cones ...

Fine spring day 17

But still, best of all, there were plenty of these ...

Fine spring day 18

"Mama, YOU make a wish ..."

Fine spring day 19

Oh, if we could bottle these days ... so that years from now we might take a big sip and remember just how very sweet they were.


Well, my friends, that was a peek into our very fine Spring day ... I hope you enjoyed your day as much as we did!

And speaking of Spring, I am currently working on the Spring Newsletter, to which many of you have subscribed. Thank you again for your interest - and your patience! I hope to have it composed and ready to mail sometime next month. So please stay tuned!

For now I'll be off ... for there's a supper to start. But have a great evening, everyone ... thanks so much for stopping by ...

I will see you again very soon!


Late Afternoon, Mid-March

March pond 2

Well, this pond view actually looks pretty depressing - all damp, drab and dull -  but in reality, it was kind of lovely. We were on our way home from the library when I spied a few Mallards resting in this pond. So I pulled the car over, grabbed my camera and took a closer look.

You really can't see them in this shot (darn phone camera!), but there are about three of them there. And the air was damp, but not too cold ... and it all smelled so earthy and spring-like ... and I could hear blackbirds calling further off in the marsh ...

All in all, I was glad I pulled over, because it was a really nice moment.

:)

Now, speaking of ponds, if you live near any vernal pools this is the time to start listening for spring peepers. And maybe - if it gets warm enough - watch for "The Big Night" after a nice soaking rain. I plan to crack our family room windows each night this week and see if we can hear those unmistakable sounds in the woods ...

*

Well, I hope you've had a nice Wednesday, my friends ... I'm going to sign off now and start supper, but first let me again say THANK YOU, for all the interest in my little Spring Newsletter! I was not expecting such a response, but I am really so pleased and so very humbled. It will take me some time to pull it all together, but I will be in touch soon regarding mailing details. In the meantime, I guess I'd best get to work!

And as always, thanks so much for stopping by. I wish you all a pleasant evening and I hope to see you again soon!


Signs of Life

February crocus at home
Hello my friends, and Happy Sunday!

Yes, there are signs of life here again, inside and out ... we are slowly making our way back to 'normal' and thank the good Lord, Bill and Earlybird have remained healthy. (Thank you SO much for your prayers! May I be greedy and ask for your continuance?) The older boys are just about A-ok - though Bookworm is still eating far less than usual! I myself am still feeling shwiped (another one of those 'family vocab' words) and my stomach is tolerating a little bit of bland food, but considering how poorly I felt on Friday and even yesterday, I'll take it! (To give you a good picture just how aggressive this bug really was ... I lost seven pounds over the past three days. o.O)

Anyhoo! It's a cold and sunny Sunday here - lovely, really - and I wanted to share a few photos with you ... as you see above we spotted "signs of life" in our front yard ... crocus shoots under the big maple!

And early this morning I spotted a pair of male robins engaging in what I assume to be spring courtship behavior. They were fighting - over territory or a female I couldn't be sure - but they were big and red and just looked like Springtime itself sitting high up in our tree.

Fighting robins 3

I so wished I would hear them sing - nothing says Spring like robin song - but they were far too busy sparring to sing for me.

Here's a picture of my lunch, kindly made and arranged by Bill (who has picked up a LOT of slack these past few days while I was down for the count).

Mama's lunch

There's chicken noodle soup in the mug, and that's a half a grilled cheese sandwich. Bookworm got the other half. ;)

After lunch I found I had a little energy so instead of cleaning as I really NEED to do (using cleaners I bought specifically for anti-viral cleanup), I sat at my desk and did a little "pretty puttering."

Valentine flowers 1

Valentine flowers 2
Monthly binder

Martha binder stuff

(What you see directly above has to do with couponing ... and I can't wait to show you all about it. This was an idea I got from my friend, Kim. :))

I can show you the spine of the binder, though ...

Marketing binder 1

And before I go, how about a couple of cat shots, since I didn't put up a Friday Felines last week?

Cats watching bird at feeder 1

Focusing on a fluffy finch at the feeder.

Archie hunting birdies

Archie, aching for avian achievement.

Ollie in front window

Ollie, wondering where I went ...

Ollie in sunny basket

And Ollie again, basking in a basket.

>^.^<

Well I think that used more brain cells than I have to spare at the moment, so I'll wrap up, now, lol ...

Before I go, I can tell you all, I will definitely be watching Downton Abbey tonight - provided things stay status quo. That special I mentioned a while back - Secrets of the Manor House - is on at 8, so we'll record that while watching Once Upon a Time with the boys. (For Lost fans, the actress that played Claire - mother of Aaron - is guest starring tonight on OuaT. She's playing Beauty (as in, Beauty and the Beast).)

So, you may expect my "Morning After" Downton post to go up early as usual tomorrow.

:)

Until then, my friends, have a good night and stay safe and well. I'll see you all again sometime soon ...


Monday Moments

These are completely random, but kind of fun, photos from our day:

Hawkonfence

Here we have a gorgeous hawk visiting the yard. Just look at that beady, orange eye!

Rednecksquirrel

The little red squirrel showed up much later, when the coast was seemingly clear. (You can never really tell with hawks.) Bookworm took this picture.

Archiesrednecksquirrel

We joke that Archie calls him "that darn 'redneck' squirrel." He takes particular offense to this critter - I think he senses how much I adore red squirrels - and it makes him bitter. 

He also takes offense to the ribbon I set up for Christmas cards.

Archieribbon

It gets in his way.

Crackerjack was SO excited his new winter pajamas arrived today! (And yes, he gave me full permission to post this picture!)

Newpjs!1

Here are the older boys checking the Advent Tree drawer for today.

Adventdrawer1

Today's scroll read: Tonight we'll watch A Charlie Brown Christmas AND Prep and Landing 2!

(These shows are on ABC tonight, and honestly, my kids still get excited about holiday specials. :))

And here's what's coming up tomorrow!

Gingebreadgoodies

Tomorrow brings the Feast of St. Nicholas, and though I usually bake homemade spice cookies to celebrate, this year it's just not in the cards. I did buy some of these lovely (and all-natural) break-apart gingerbread cookies, as well as a bag of gingerbread (!) marshmallows. 

Tomorrow's Advent scroll will read: Happy St. Nicholas Day! Today we'll bake ginger-spice cookies and drink steamed "gingerbread" milk!

And here's the birdhouse all wrapped up in Christmas greenery. It looked so pretty as the light faded from the day ...

Birdhouselights1

But oh my goodness - do you see the forsythia blooming behind the birdhouse???

(I forgot to cut branches to force yesterday for St. Barbara's Day - but I guess I didn't need to!)

So there are some snapshots of our day ... it was a nice day, weatherwise and otherwise. I hope yours was nice too.

Thanks so much for stopping by today ... I will see you all again sometime soon!

:)