29 May, 2008

Adorable Birds

I've been spotting our baby cardinal this week, but have not gotten a photo of him, until today. I decided to fill only the feeders at the deck so that I'd have a better chance of viewing more birds. It worked! Little guy was back today, and he seems to be getting redder now. He looks a little worn as he moults from his baby feathers. This photo is smaller resolution than my original.

Because of limiting the feeders, the birds are patiently waiting in line for each other. It looks like the last one is thinking, "Could you hurry up already?" Different birds would take turns like this all day long. It was really funny!

Then Mr. Woodpecker showed up for his turn at the bugs near one of the feeders.

Two more treats of the day:

I have about 35 shots of this mama feeding seeds to her not-so-small baby. In some of the shots, it is obvious that his tail is still very short. When he flies, his wings move rapidly as he flits about.

surprised by red finches

I'm becoming spoiled by these sites.

28 May, 2008

Garden Progress

These were taken about a week ago, maybe a little more, so you can imagine that the tomato and squash plants are even larger, now.

The veggies enjoyed our TX heat last week, and we've been able to have some lovely salads with our meals.

Our cute little strawberry plant is doing pretty well, too!

27 May, 2008

A fun blog meme

Tim's Mom has created a neat meme! I was tagged by my friend, Katie at CM, Children, and Lots of Grace.

If you came to our house--You would see:

Many interesting textures and multiple tableaux of things:

Curtains tied up to the curtain rod by raffia. My pottery and pitcher collection atop the TV armoire; A very old color TV; feathers in an old spool displayed like flowers in a vase; Old World framed map; map of the state birds of America; Cello, mandolin, guitar, banjo or other instruments standing about; percussion instruments on shelves; baskets on shelves of musical instruments, some from various parts of the country and world; small heirloom tea set from my grandmothers on a tall bookshelf; Harvard classics; Set of Waverly Novels; framed photos of people and places taken by family members, including a couple of large family portraits; stacks of books down on the floor and coffee table, as well as many bookshelves in nearly all the rooms of our cottage; miniature books; dried herbs hanging up-side-down, tied to a stick-bar hanging from a shelf; Americana; butter churn, large crocks, washboard; washtub bass - really! paintbrushes in a small pitcher for a table centerpiece; Local Handcrafted pottery; Ansel Adams Prints in the bathroom; many unfinished projects which one might not notice upon first glance! My collection of red-handled, old kitchen tools hanging all 'round the top of the wall near the ceiling for decoration; thrift store furniture that you'd not recognize as thrift store furniture; calendars, artifacts, books, and little trinkets from trips to various countries; sand and shells from various beaches, some foreign (Mediterranean, Adriatic, and Caribbean seas); Nature baskets with neat little finds displayed; an old bucket filled with bean bags and beanie babies for friends with small children who visit. They can do bean bag toss or just play with the beanies; a vase or two of wildflowers in season; old books everywhere; A white board in the family room for my Spanish classes; Our orange, fluffy kitties "Tigger" and our grey-striped "Mittens." A large, wooden sword made for a British Lit. class. It stands in a "sculpted" hand hanging on our wall; Art posters from Florence, Italy. Spanish Language Magazines on the coffee table, along with Smithsonian Magazines and a couple of poetry books, Texas Wildflower books.

We'd probably feed you:
New Mexico roasted Green Chile, Greek Food or Veggie stir-fry, then finish the meal off with Brownies.

And offer you this to drink:
Filtered water, or Freshly brewed coffee, espresso, or tea.

We'd undoubtedly ask if you'd read:
Billy Collins' poetry, William Faulkner, Mark Twain, Jane Austen, C.S. Lewis, Francis Schaeffer, Emerson, Thoreau, or Louisa May Alcott.

We'd want to play this music for you:
Original guitar or mandolin music, played on one of the mandolins that hubby made from scratch. Classical music station or Celtic music, depending on the mood. If you came early while I was still tidying up for your visit, you would catch me cleaning to Paul Simon's live album in Central Park, which is a wonderful compilation of many of his best songs, some set to African Drumming.

We'd want to tell you the latest about:
Our experiences with blackberry picking and preserving this year. Our plans for the upcoming homeschool year and what you may be planning, as well. We could discuss politics a little bit and talk about how we plan to save gas by making fewer trips into town and downgrading to a smaller, more economical car or even a scooter. Just don't go into town! I strongly disagree with my president. Don't shop more than absolutely *necessary!* JUST say NO to daily driving!! hahaha. Most of America just cannot do that.

We'd probably suggest a game of:
Nerts or Mexican Train (dominoes) although we really don't play many games, but are game if others are!

We might show off:
Our cool espresso maker from Italy, restored vintage books, homemade instruments, home made tools, other projects like blackberry jam or pear butter, LOL.

We might get on the computer and show you:
We would not get on the computer while you are here, not unless we were so curious about something that we just had to "Google" it right away; you know - for song lyrics or a recipe or something of immediate import.

If it was a long enough visit, we might watch:
each other play and sing music together, hymns and gospel music, old songs, whatever! We would not bust out a movie until your second or other subsequent visit.

UPDATE: p.s. In the kids' rooms:

Boys: football pictures, hammocks, legos, airsoft guns, desks and old laptops.

DD: hand-painted projects by her friends and herself. Dried flowers. Italian "PACE" rainbow flag. bulletin board of favorite cards and notes from friends. a few band posters or pictures. Stacks of books everywhere, everywhere.

What would a visit to your house be like?

I tag Donna Jean, if she's not too busy, TeacherBrit, or Señora Smith! You're it!

26 May, 2008

Preparing blackberries for various uses

The joy of eating fresh blackberries, alone or with granola, is one of which we cannot get enough! However, we cannot eat the fresh ones completely before they spoil, so gallons have been flash frozen for later usage with whole-grain pancakes, muffins, fruit desserts, etc. I've also begun making jam. I hope to finish that up today. In the first photo, I am drying the berries before lightly mashing them to cook into jam.

I have set larger ones aside (in the small plastic container) to go with the homemade cake for individual cups of blackberry trifle that we will have with our Memorial Day meal today.

Pound cake made by The Hubster! We were both in the mood to cook something up.

I decided to throw a few frozen berries into a sparkling berry drink, to see how it worked and tasted. It looks pretty festive, and it was very tasty! I ended up adding more than this, and a few of them were quite tart.

Here, I am scooping the hot jam into jars for canning. I have a couple of more containers full to cook up, so will be busy again today. It's such a "good" busy though, and I find that I am sleeping better after all this harvesting and prepping! It is all very satisfying, and a sure sign that summer is officially upon us!

How has your summer begun?


25 May, 2008

Favorite wildflowers

Spiderwort - one of my top five favorite wildflowers

(Lemon) Horsemint is the name of the layered purple flower in the back. There are meadows of these located in the park where we picked so many wild blackberries.

You can see the random critters that we often bring in with our flowers. The spider on the Indian Blanket above is raring up in defensive mode to warn me that he is not happy with my messing with his happy home in the flowers. If you look closely, you can spot the inchworm in the middle photo.

24 May, 2008

The compulsion of Blackberries

“Give you a reason on compulsion! If reasons were as plentiful as blackberries, I would give no man a reason upon compulsion, I.”

~ William Shakespeare

Wouldn't you want to keep picking them, too? Look how large the largest ones are! They are organic...and basically free. How many have been harvested, you may ask? At least twelve gallons worth, amongst ourselves and our friends who've joined us multiple days this whole week...

Let the jam and pie making begin!


22 May, 2008

Blackberry Quote

"The running blackberry would adorn the parlors of heaven,"

~ Walt Whitman in Song of Myself

Blackberry Memories

As I've wondered once again about the "circle" of life, of the home-goings of another of our family patriarchs (just within this past week) and thinking of my own aging parents and in-laws, I've also pondered the mighty blackberry. What do the two have in common? The life cycle, God, Heaven, and Childhood memories (just to name a few things).

The harvest is abundant this year, and I have had a flash or two of picking berries as a youngster in Oklahoma, or as a teenager in Missouri. I also remember picking them at my inlaws home each spring when our oldest was very young.

We, like everyone, have felt the choking hand of inflation as the prices of goods and products keep soaring whilst paychecks everywhere are being scrutinized or frozen so that companies, employers, and in our case, schools can "cut back" in the name of being practical with their almighty dollar. I can wish all day long that society would reward good teachers and let them know how much we appreciate and *value* what they do. NO we can't do that...instead (and I can't believe that I have joined the ranks of those who always say this) corporate executives make insane amounts of money, hiding some of it in "legitimate" or not-so-legit investments, while the regular office workers barely get by. Something is terribly wrong with that picture.

Most of the time, I like to focus on the better things; the positive things. But just how far can I stretch our dollars? We, now as much as ever, have to trust God's economy. He stretched loaves and fishes to feed over 5000, remember? It is far better that I rely on the Lord and see how He will surprise us. Trusting in His provision for us is not only faith building but exciting. He does not fail! This time his provision has come in the form of blackberries, which I showed you in my previous post. They are little miracles of flavor in a brier patch. It takes a little work to obtain them, I even got stung by a wasp today as I took more friends to the park to pick them, but they are so worth it. AND better that I got stung than the children who were along for our nature walk and field trip.

In honor of all our friends who are interested in knowing what to do with the blackberries that they're picking, I found a well-written article on Blackberries and Dewberries, complete with recipes. Let me know if you try any of these, and if the dish(es) turn out great or not.

I'll do the same. Right now, I'm just freezing them as I go, with the hopes of making some jam to save for a rainy day, when I am needing some Texas sunshine in a jar.

As for gas prices, I'm thinking that a Vespa would be great for those quick little trips to the grocery store for milk and cheese.



17 May, 2008


We went on a long hike today, and look what we found! Oh, *yes,* a SURE sign that it's almost summertime. We've got to share this with friends and go pick buckets more. The seeds aren't bothersome, if you don't bite them, extract the juice and let them slide down your throat!

Fantastic and sweet. We will savor them while we can.


15 May, 2008

What type of Mother Hen...?

I saw this on Katie's blog, so thought I'd play, too.

Thanks, Katie!

What type of Mother Hen Are You?
by Montessorimom.com: Educational Resource

Groovy Mom, Javamom ;-)

14 May, 2008

First Fruits

There *should* be four jalapeños in this photo, as well, but The Hubster snapped them up and ate them before I could shoot them!

The birds didn't take chunks out of the ripened roma tomato, or the one that was next to it that is almost ready for picking. I'm hoping that keeping those birds well-fed with seeds and grains has helped keep them out of the ripening fruit and veggies!

Thankful for His provision,


Día de las Madres

This is the card my family got for me. Isn't it beautiful? It plays a song that goes along with the poem inside. I don't recognize the song, but the syllables fit!! Our 13 yob made my favorite dessert for me: chocolate chip, fudgy brownies. We don't normally eat dessert, so a once-in-a-while treat is special.

I hope you all had a blessed Mother's Day. I cannot keep from thinking and praying for the mothers of the world. In fact, I ache for them. cyclone-ravaged Myanmar, earthquake stricken China.

Do keep them in your prayers and hearts. Take nothing for granted. Thank our Lord for each day with your families and friends. Pray that we can be the change that we ache for in this world. Even if only on a small scale, it is better than hiding away from the world or feeling like one person can do nothing.

With His Love,

Señora Javamom

08 May, 2008

time for another edition of "Garden Update"

Things are getting bigger! From left to right: marigolds, mint (from our old garden...came back along the rocks and edges), potatoes (not up, yet). Second row: lettuce, one cabbage, badly attacked by cabbage worms, squash. and cantelope. Third row: romaine lettuces, multiple varieties of tomatoes. Fourth row: romaine lettuces and pepper plants of various sorts. Fifth row: onions, onions, onions.

Herbs and strawberries

Pictures *are* worth a thousand words, right?! I love the shape of pepper blossoms.

Bell pepper

One iceberg lettuce. This was given to us as a seedling, and we had no idea what type it was at the time. The rest of the lettuce is Romaine, with one red-leaf lettuce plant.


05 May, 2008

Peaceful Saturday of Birding

I barely had to leave the house to photograph these events. I had recently put out birdseed in several new places. You can see the Frisbee on the deck railing and the feeder where the Cardinal and other birds visit daily. The blue jay was the funniest to watch, because he did NOT want to be caught with his beak in the "cookie jar" so to speak. He flitted about until I finally got a few shots of him standing at the bowl. I'll include the "in-flight" shots here, as they are more interesting.

This red-bellied woodpecker used to come around more often in the past, but I haven't put out seeds and nuts for several years, maybe that is why. He is also fast, but he crawls quickly, doesn't flit about like the blue jay.

Mr. blue jay is such a messy bird!

Mr. Cardinal is so very tidy and regal. I have shots of him and his wife feeding at the same time... but they still need to be resized in photoshop.

01 May, 2008

Target Practice ;-)

Too much fun! We are enjoying a more freed-up schedule. Before we know it, it will be too hot to be outside much, so we try to enjoy April and May as much as we possibly can.