Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Nest Building Time

My son is only two years old, but he is already fascinated with nature and the Great Outdoors.  He notices flowers and bugs and birds and trees and all the little things that I tend to walk by without noticing.  Trying to see the world through his eyes has made me a better observer, too.  I love to watch him play in the yard, as I can see the wonder on his face as he attempt to "take it all in."  This time outdoors has become very special to us both.  So, I never want to miss an opportunity to turn our time outdoors into a fun project or lesson that I hope he enjoys. 

A couple of weeks ago, he was awe stricken by some of the birds who have taken up residence in our yard.  We talked about birds and how some birds live in trees and others in special houses.  As we discussed them, I decided to have him put together a "Nest Building Basket" for the birds.  We put all types of things we thought a bird might be able to use to build a nest:  pieces of twine, twigs, fabrics and fibers, straw, etc.  We put it in a wire basket and suspended it from one of the trees in our back yard.  Imagine our delight the first time we saw a bird checking out the supplies!

Today, I was reminded of our project as I sat in my office, glanced out the window, and saw two small finches building a nest on the side of a tree amongst the ivy.  I am anxious to watch them over the course of the season, and I like to think that our Nest Building Basket helped out an equally productive bird or two in our own back yard.

Happy Spring!
Photo Courtesy of:  Squidoo

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Getting Ready for Spring

I love spring!  I get so antsy as the weather turns a bit warmer and the daffodils start to peak up through the ground.  I usually can't wait to dig around in the yard and the flower beds.  And, according tomost gardening experts, now is the time to get out there!  A common mistake many people make is waiting until the weather turns much warmer and flowers are beginning to bloom to pay attention to their yards.  Unfortunately, by then, it is too late to really prepare for your yard to show at its best.  At the end of February and early March, I begin the season by doing the following task list before I do anything else:

I'm in Zone 7, so this may not fit everyone's March to-do-list.  Those of you a little further north will want to wait a month or so...

  • Remove all the leaves, twigs and fallen branches that have accumulated in the yard over the winter months.  Even though I removed all the leaves in the fall, there will still be some in the spring that have blown in over the winter.
  • Trim up the foliage on the summer blooming perennials that are above the ground.  I normally trim up my evergreen herbs like rosemary, etc. during this time.  I also prune most of my roses in March.  Keep in mind that it is too late to prune your spring blooming perennials and shrubs (forsythia, quince, etc.)  - prune these later after the blooms have gone.
  • Dig out all the weeds that have started to spring up in the flower beds.  As hard as it is to believe that those suckers can grow in February...they do.  Weeding now will reduce your job in this regard later in the year!
  • Cut back vines and ivy that has grown out of its territory.
  • Cut back ornamental grasses, including liriope, and the dead stems of perennials (I always leave these during the winter for the birds and other wildlife) to a few inches high.
  • Loosen the old mulch with a cultivator (or in my case, a gloved hand) acorns and other dried plant matter that has accumulated around my shrubs and perennials.  Air needs to be able to better penetrate those roots!
  • Reseed and fertilize the lawn.
  • Fertilize my spring bulbs.
Here are some photos of our yard in spring and summer.  We are still in the planning and planting phases of our landscaping, and there is so much more to do, but we are quite proud of what we have accomplished.

Happy Gardening!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Jane Austen Meets Twenty-First Century Technology

 I have had an obsession with the novels of Jane Austen since I was a young girl.  I remember the first time I read Pride and Prejudice:  so began my maddening crush on Mr. Darcy that would last until...well...now.  The first time I watched the BBC's on-screen version of the novel, I fell instantly and madly in love with Colin Firth.  I mean, what woman couldn't?!   So, for the better part of my life, I have been a true Janeite.  I love having a membership to JASNA, the Jane Austen Society of North America, although my husband seems to have no understanding of this.  I pity him.  I cannot imagine my life without the influences of Jane Austen and her wonderful literary characters.  It was through reading the works of Austen that I first realized I wanted to major in English Literature in college.  And it is against those same works that I measure every other novel I have ever read. 

So, just imagine my excitement when I read about the BBC releasing a new interactive game for facebook based on Jane Austen and the characters of her novels!  Truly!  I was so astonished (in a good way), that I had to copy the press release here.  Read for yourself!

BBC Worldwide Limited

Jane Austen’s Rogues and Romance coming to Facebook this Spring

LOS ANGELES, CA (February 23, 2012) – BBC Worldwide is preparing to bring the world of Jane Austen to Facebook in a new interactive game inspired by her work. Developed in partnership with Legacy Interactive, Jane Austen’s Rogues and Romance will re-create the world of her novels allowing players to take part in an imaginative adventure that follows the path of Elizabeth and Mr Darcy after they are married.

For almost 200 years Jane Austen’s work has stood the test of time with legions of fans worldwide enjoying her witty character portrayals and depictions of 19th century English society. Her novels have inspired countless adaptations, prequels and sequels including The Jane Austen Book Club; Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Clueless. Jane Austen’s Rogues and Romance will mark the first time her works have inspired an online social game.

Robert Nashak, EVP, BBC Worldwide Digital Entertainment & Games, explains, “Social interaction is at the core of Austen’s work and we felt that was a concept we could explore that had a natural synergy with Facebook. Rogues and Romance is a fun romp of a game that celebrates the world of Jane Austen.”

“I am a ‘Janeite’ of long standing and thrilled to be able to translate my secret obsession into a fun social game,” says Ariella Lehrer, CEO of Legacy Interactive. “We are determined to deliver an experience that passionate Austen fans will love, as well as gameplayers who know of Austen but have never read her novels.”

Jane Austen’s Rogues and Romance is set to launch on Facebook this Spring. The game takes Pride and Prejudice as its starting point following the newly married Elizabeth and Mr Darcy on a hidden object adventure with an intriguing twist. Players will be able to take their place in society leaving calling cards, attending and hosting receptions and pursuing courtships. Each player will have their own manor house and be able to indulge their penchant for fashion with a choice of Regency-era costumes.

For more information, please contact:

About BBC
BBC Worldwide Limited is the main commercial arm and a wholly owned subsidiary of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). The company exists to maximise the value of the BBC’s assets for the benefit of the licence fee payer and invest in public service programming in return for rights. The company has six core businesses: Channels, Content & Production, Sales & Distribution, Consumer Products, Brands, Consumers & New Ventures and Magazines, with digital ventures incorporated into each business area. In 2010/11, BBC Worldwide generated profits of £160 million on sales of £1158 million and returned £182m to the BBC. For more detailed performance information please see our Annual Review website:




So, for all those other Janeites out there, mark your calendars for March!  I know I will be counting the days!  :-)

And do, please, leave a comment for me, as "my idea of good company is the company of clever, well-informed people who have a great deal of conversation; that is what I call good company." (Jane Austen).

Dreaming of Darcy,

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Wire Baskets: My latest fetish

You know, I am thankful that I can admit when I have a problem.  I am not sure that it helps the situation, but at least I CAN admit it.  My latest problem is:  I CAN'T STOP BUYING ANTIQUE (or antique-looking) WIRE BASKETS!!  I love them. I love the way they look.  I love the way I can store things in them...pretty things or useful things.  Things. I love things, too.  So it is important that I can store them in something fabulous. I adore the two above from The Pottery Barn.  They're the perfect size for the kitchen.

My most recent purchase of wire baskets were the two great looking ones from One Kings Lane.  They are treasures, and I use one of the larger ones on the kitchen cabinet to hold all of my cutting boards - it works perfectly. 

From Hudson Goods (hudsongoods.com)

I also recently purchased an antique, German apple picking basket.  It's in my husband's bathroom, and I use it to store his towels.  I roll the towels, and it's actually a pretty way to display something needful. 

Another one of my favorites is in our family room holding all of my magazines.  And I have others.  I am just waiting to try to decide what I can use them to hold or display.

And there will be more.  In fact, I just can't seem to help myself when I see one for sale.  I have found a terrific place for finding old wire baskets and other special vintage finds.  If you have a fetish like me, I promise you it will be well worth your time to visit Hudson Goods.  Be impressed.  This is a wonderful place!

Would love to hear about how others use their fantastic wire baskets! 

Happy Tuesday!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Books by Lamp Light?

I saw this on the HGTV website and fell in love with it.  I have a similar lamp that I purchased a couple of years ago at a craft fair, but I ADORE the shade on this one...or the lack thereof. It seems to be an old, wire apple-picking basket.  HGTV has even offered instructions on how to make this cutie.  Click here for a visit.