Number Four is at the Door….


…Be this an autumn or a spring

My wisdom loses way

One side of me the nuts are ripe

The other side is May

(from The Ones that Disappeared are Back by Emily Dickinson)

DSC_0321 2

With our fourth Nor’easter, it’s now apparent that March does indeed intend to go out with a roar!  I’m not complaining, getting to sleep in as school was cancelled, leisurely drink coffee while enjoying spelt-blueberry pancakes, in no rush to be anywhere, is fine with me.


I’m not sure how the flowers and budding trees will feel about it, but it is what it is, so I decided to capture a few pictures and watch the progress as we have transitioned from morning sleet to now thick flakes, on this second day of spring.


Above, one of our many squirrels enjoying his fair share of sunflower seeds before the rain turned to snow, and below “red” enjoying some seeds of his own in a different spot…

red-bellied woodpecker

The picture of the cardinal and finches below is blurred by the window panes, but they are a such a cute trio I had to include them…


The mourning doves are gathering seeds as the snow falls around them…


A strange sight to see snow on such vibrant pink….


Ferns, a fun hiding place for Gabby, seeing yet another snowfall…


Maybe this will be the last snowfall, who knows….but it’s all beautiful nature just the same.  A very happy day to you all, whatever your weather may be!

Until next time!


∼ Jen

Morning Time…January-February

male and female Eastern towhee

With three Nor’easters in the last several weeks, March has certainly come in like a lion. It still remains to be seen if this transitional month will exit like a lamb-one can only hope!  As I look out my widow, spring is literally budding forth…time for one last look back at this year’s winter memories.

female Eastern towhee enjoying sunflower seed

American robin, below, enjoying morning sunlight on rocks before getting drink from waterfall…

DSC_0055 2



Geese oblivious to the icy waters…


A variety of birds decorate the bare branches like natural ornaments…


Tufted titmouse enjoying a sunny morning at the feeder…


Sparrows breakfasting together…

DSC_0102 2

Grey squirrel gone rogue… enjoying an acorn instead of raiding my bird feeders…


Male cardinal enjoying what’s left of beauty berries…


…and posing beautifully on dried hydragenea blooms….


Downed holly tree, one of a handful that fell in creek in past few months…lots of spring clean up awaits, but on the bright side, our main creek view has greatly increased….


The hammock became a convenient platform feeder during the deep snows..


And many other seeds were enjoyed under the protection of a sleeping vine…



Blue jays continually beautified our landscape….



The below adorable site I happened to catch one morning made me really glad I have not gotten around to fixing this bird home….



I was so glad my husband came to get me one morning to watch a flock of robins enjoying the holly tree berries…

DSC_0044 2

Our bench sat vacant as a silent watcher over the frozen creek and snowy landscape…


And so, another winter is almost past in our part of the world, and the beauty of spring now begins to bud forth, replacing one natural beauty with another.  Whichever natural tapestry God is weaving in your part of the world, I hope you enjoy the daily show!


Until next time!


My Tiny “Scrap” Kitchen Garden

As I sit here typing, a Nor’easter is blowing up a storm, literally, outside my window, snowflakes are sparse but fat, our wood-duck nesting box is submerged by the creek, but daffodils are blooming, despite it all, across the street in my neighbor’s yard.


I have been gone off and on for the past week with my dad having surgery in the Baltimore area, and it feels good to have a free morning to prop my feet up and write before  I tackle my  chores.  On that note, I have to say I enjoyed reading my blogger friends’ posts as I sometimes sat in a waiting room, so thank you all for sharing your many talents!

One of the things that has brought a smile to my face lately is my little scrap garden I have growing in a tray in my kitchen, so I thought I’d share.  For those of you who don’t know what a “scrap” garden is, it’s getting new plants to grow from kitchen scraps you would normally throw away.

celery, beet, ginger, carrot

I like to juice as often as I can, daily when able, so I have lots of scraps, and discovering how to grow a scrap garden is just another of the benefits. I am fortunate that I am able to buy all these plants locally, organic and non-gmo…otherwise, they don’t go in my juicer.

this always reminds me of sand art, liquid form

My favorite juice recipe is carrot, celery, beet, lemon, ginger, and green apple, and several of those ingredients can be regrown. Basically you just cut off the bottom portion of say celery, or beet, place in shallow bit of water, set to the side and let the transformation begin. Call me weird, or too easily amused, but when  I see the tiny little leaves emerging I get absolutely thrilled!

DSC_0117 2
new celery leaves emerging

Last year I started this “garden” late, maybe mid-summer, and though I don’t have pictures to share, my celery grew beautifully when planted outside. Our property is mostly wooded, so pots that get some sun are it for a garden, and the celery filled one nicely. The stalks really were too thin and woody to enjoy outside of soup, maybe lack of water, but the leaves were prolific and tasty and made for a delicious chickpea salad, which I’ll share the recipe for below, and soups as well. Read here for the many health benefits of juicing celery.


Beets are anti-inflammatory, a good cleanser and digestive aid, to name just a few of the benefits. The beets I planted last year from this method really didn’t develop, again only the leaves, but the leaves are very nutritional as well – read here to see how they compare to kale.


Ginger is my best friend when I am flying or riding in mountainous terrain….for someone who gets motion sickness, I cannot suggest this wonderful herb enough!  During cold and flu season I like to make my own ginger/clove/elderberry infusion and drink throughout the day.  It is a powerhouse of nutrients which you can read about here, so I like to add about a thumb size to the juice.  This is a good article on how to grow ginger…a new houseplant…one that will nourish you when you wish to dig up a bit of the rhizome.

new leaves forming to left of carrot

Lastly I have the mighty carrot!  I don’t have high hopes for eating the carrot itself once I plant them outside, but again, the leaves will offer a great deal of nutrition which  I read about in an article just last week, which included a recipe for carrot top pesto.  Carrots are the bulk of the juice I make, and we are all aware of just how great they are, from cleansing the liver to helping to prevent cancer, read more about them to be inspired to juice them, or roast them-my favorite way to eat them cooked.

Screen Shot 2018-03-02 at 11.36.53 AM
chickpea salad

As promised, the link to the recipe for the chickpea salad is at  I actually use the recipe from her cookbook, which I highly recommend, but simply substitute out the parsley for the celery leaves, and use raw red onion instead of the peppers and olives.  It is wonderful after sitting overnight especially, and looking at this picture now I think I need to go soak some garbanzo beans!


Until next time, drink to your health!


Re-blog from The Rabbit Patch:

The tender sprouts are an emerald green and do not seem to hold a grudge against the cold February nights, as people often will.  ∼ Michelle, Rabbit Patch Diary

I found Michelle’s blog early on in my blogging and am so happy that I did!  Her words paint such vivid pictures of nature you feel as if you are part of the experience, but what I love the most is she sees the beauty in everyday life…beauty that others may simply pass over.  I asked her permission to reblog her post on “February” and with less than ten days to go in go in this usually unappreciated month, I hope it inspires you to enjoy what’s left of it as it did for me.  Enjoy!!

For the Love of February

Beautiful, Healing Foods…

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”― Hippocrates


I am passionate about people living a life of health and vitality and am saddened when I see those living in pain or less than the optimal life they could be enjoying. For that reason, I have been wanting to do a blog post about the life-changing, and sometimes life-saving role our diets play in our quality of life for quite some time. After binge-watching a few Netflix (links below) with my husband over the last few nights, I couldn’t put off a post like this any longer!

Screen Shot 2018-02-08 at 12.05.35 PM

Growing up, my maternal grandmother was one of my favorite people in the world.  I loved spending time with her in the summers listening to her stories, making Christmas ornaments in the winter, and eating chocolate mint ice-cream and Russel Stover chocolates in any season! Sadly, she died at what would be considered young today, her body hunched over and joints crooked with painful arthritis while she dutifully consumed the myriad of prescription drugs prescribed to make her life somehow more pleasant.  I vividly remember sitting at her kitchen table with her one day as she sorted through her many medications, and somehow, even at a young age, I knew there was something very wrong with that picture.  Had I known then what I know now, I would have done my very best to convince her to get rid of the processed foods and lay aside at least some of the Russel Stover to make room for some more fruits and veggies.

Screen Shot 2018-02-08 at 10.15.34 AM
Great food blog and cookbook…

I’ll skip many details of my own health journey or this post would be way too long. I will say, however, I was fortunate to be raised by a mother, a nurse by profession, who was  very much in tune to the role of proper nutrition and diet in a healthy lifestyle.

Screen Shot 2018-02-08 at 11.21.24 AM
recipe from

Last winter I had a bit of a health scare, and thankfully it was just a scare, but for the week of uncertainty I spent many hours researching health sights on the web and found this gem:  This site is loaded with nutritional information and video testimonials of people who all beat cancer through diet and some also with alternative remedies.

Screen Shot 2018-02-08 at 10.21.53 AM
Another great cookbook and food blog

I decided to try this plant-based diet, and my husband also joined in.  The great news for him was that at his next doctors visit six weeks later he had lost 11 pounds, but even better his blood pressure had dropped 40 points…enough to keep his doctor from prescribing blood pressure medicine, yahoo!!  For myself, I noticed that the mysterious leg pain that was so bad it would keep me awake at night disappeared, as well as the sometimes intense hip pain.  I would have considered myself a really healthy eater even before this…organic, non-gmo food, very little processed foods, occasional juicer, but switching to this plant-based, sugar-free diet was the real health ticket for me-no pain, yes please!

Screen Shot 2018-02-08 at 10.33.53 AM
From son of Dr. Esselstyn in movie Forks over Knives

One thing I learned in the Chris Beat Cancer series, is that processed dairy raises the risk of breast and prostate cancer, a fact which has been scientifically known since the 70’s.  Immediately what came to my mind were all the cute little pink ribbons found in the dairy aisle…funny, I’ve never seen even one in the fruit and vegetable aisle, hmm.  I’ll let you draw your own conclusions about that one, but my less than noble conclusion was verified in the documentary we watched last night, which I highly recommend, called What the Health.  This video was a real eye-opener, it will make you mad, but that can be a really good thing if it stirs you to action to improve your health.  It is also filled with some very inspiring stories though, so I promise you’ll be smiling at the end!

Screen Shot 2018-02-08 at 10.34.31 AM
Engine 2 blog/recipes..

Two other great documentaries: Forks Over Knives, which has some seriously jaw-dropping studies, and the really inspiring and definitely entertaining one: Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead.  Both sites have many resources listed, as well as links to the movie, the second can be viewed free on the site for a limited time, so go enjoy!

Screen Shot 2018-02-08 at 10.47.36 AM
From Engine 2 recipe index


 Lastly, I highly recommend the incredibly informative video series called The Truth About Cancer which can be found at this site:  Face it, sadly we all know of people who could benefit from this info. and for so many ailments other than cancer.

Screen Shot 2018-02-08 at 12.12.43 PM
The Wimpy Vegetarian blog

In closing, let me just say that I am very thankful I live in an age where we have life-saving  medicines and technology, but the fact remains that there are many, many diseases that can be prevented altogether, and in many cases even reversed with the food choices we make.  The good news is…

God has filled our earth with wonderful, natural medicines just waiting to be consumed, and that my friends, is really, really something beautiful.

Screen Shot 2018-02-08 at 11.26.14 AM
ohsheglows blog

Until next time!


So, I think I’m supposed to add a disclaimer here, but very important, nonetheless, Please check with a doctor and be monitored before deciding to decrease or stop any medicines or adding herbal remedies!  


Seeing Blue




Over the past few months one bird has appeared very prominent in our backyard…the rascally bluejay.  I’m sure it has nothing to do with the peanuts I put out to lure him in or the sunflower seeds placed strategically about. Whatever the reason, I’m glad he and his many cohorts are decorating the scenery with their beauty and are affording me many pictures of their antics.


 I decided the blue beauty was worthy of his own post and looked through the many    pictures I have of him to pair up with the following poem by Emily Dickinson. I hope you enjoy!

The Blue Jay – Poem by Emily Dickinson

No brigadier throughout the year
So civic as the jay.
A neighbor and a warrior too,
With shrill felicity


Pursuing winds that censure us
A February day,
The brother of the universe
Was never blown away.


The snow and he are intimate;
I’ve often seen them play
When heaven looked upon us all
With such severity,


I felt apology were due
To an insulted sky,
Whose pompous frown was nutriment
To their temerity.

DSC_0685 2

The pillow of this daring head
Is pungent evergreens;
His larder — terse and militant —
Unknown, refreshing things;

DSC_0675 2

His character a tonic,
His future a dispute;
Unfair an immortality
That leaves this neighbor out.

– Emily Dickinson


Until next time, if a jay’s in your corner of the world, buy some peanuts to welcome in this fun neighbor!

And Time Keeps Marching On…

So, this week I officially enter a new phase of parenting…my youngest is now an adult, gasp, where did those years go??!!

DSC_0820 2

I always said I could have bought a second home in the islands if I had a dime for every time I took my kids to the grocery store and an older mom said to me…”enjoy these days, they go by quicker than you know.”  They would always look at my kids with longing smiles and eyes seeing long-ago made memories brought fresh to the surface at the sight of my little ones-and now, I am that mom.


Yes, I am guilty of saying that exact same thing to moms I see with little ones in tow.  And as I’m saying it, I’m thinking to myself, when did I become that mom, the older one, with kids no longer with me as I shop or run errands.  Yes, it does indeed go by more quickly than we could ever even begin to imagine.


With each stage of their lives comes a new set of joys and concerns….the joys hopefully outweighing the concerns.

Screen Shot 2017-07-01 at 4.20.34 PM

  I taught pre-school before staying home with my own children, and I have to admit, it was the irony little, rascally boys that always brought a smile to my face. When the other teachers were wringing their hands and shaking their heads, I was laughing just a little on the inside at their harmless, mischievous little antics, totally oblivious to what my future held. Oh yeah.


Be careful what you wish for it’s often said, and before long I had my own little rascally boys, and oh what a ride it has been! I am convinced, though, that God needs fun-loving mischievous little boys in the earth as well as proper little chaps, and He seemed to know just the mom to give them to!

This belief was challenged just a bit when high school rolled around and I was convinced the school office had my cell number on speed-dial.  I’m sure my hair color consumption tripled as the gray hairs seemed to increase exponentially during these years.


 But now here were are, four months from having high-school behind us as well, and like the other stages of their lives, I’m sure it too will go by in a blink.  I will greatly miss sharing an afternoon cup of coffee with my younger son as he relates the tales of his school day, and the tears of laughter I shed as he impersonates some very colorful characters.  Yes, for all the gray, I’m sure the laughter he inspires has added years to my life.


So to my youngest son, happy 18th birthday “little buddy.”  The joy, love, and laughter you have brought to my life and others far exceed what I could put into words. Follow those big dreams, climb those seemingly impossible mountains, use all those talents God blessed you with to enrich the lives of others, and always, always carry a bit of that playful, fun-loving little boy with you, as time keeps marching on.




“Gladiator Gabby” and Sub-zero Temps.


“Mom, Gabby has escaped.”

Those were the words that awakened me from my sound, cozy, oblivious to the -1 degree temperatures outside at 2 a.m., sleep. “What? Are you sure?”  Yes, he was sure…and, he was, unfortunately, right.

A little back-story on Gabby…

She showed up one hot, summer day at our old home about 6 years ago, emaciated and timid, lurking in a row of trees behind our above-ground pool.  My older son was the first to spot her so he named her Gabby.  Now, I know the rule about not feeding strays, but I just can’t look at an innocent animal, half-starved, and not offer them a bite to eat.  Not sure of her temperament, we put the food down and stayed at a bit of a distance, though we soon found out, that was how she was going to keep us anyhow.


We continued putting food out for Gabby, and she continued to keep her distance.  I noticed she would follow me, however, whenever I would go into a certain area of the yard and soon found out why.  I was taking care of our pet chickens one afternoon when I felt eyes on me.  Amazing how we can sense that, anyhow, I looked up and saw two pairs of the most adorable blue eyes staring back at me through the bushes to my left.  Gabby was a mom!


And, what a devoted mom she was! I was ever so glad I ignored the well-intentioned advice to not feed a stray, and she immediately gained my “mom” respect for taking such good care of her kittens even in her half-starved state.  As time went on, I continued to feed Gabby, and her kittens, now weaned, would come out to eat as well.  Only one of the three would allow me to pet her, and she quickly became my favorite.  She was so pretty we named her “Pretty Kitty” and her sister, the shy, feisty one, we named “Bittie.”

Screen Shot 2018-01-07 at 3.05.23 PM
Bittie in her glory days

Fast forward many months… my precious “Pretty” sadly died and my sweet dog, Princess, was now an accomplice to murder. Gabby was just allowing me to barely touch her, and Bittie, a.k.a. “Miss Pris” or “Fussikins” was slowly warming up.  I tried to find homes for the remaining two, as I am more accustomed to dogs, but quickly found out that cats are very hard to find homes for.  I got them both neutered, up on their shots, and added them to our menagerie of two dogs, seven chickens, and one rabbit, oh my.

Bittie soon showed she had no street smarts, literally, so was held captive inside for her own good.

 She has adjusted quite well…


Gabby would have none of it, so has remained an outside cat to this day.


She earned the nickname “Gladiator Gabby” after we moved into our present home.  We have a circular stone area below our back porch, and Gabby soon took to bringing her found objects of prey into the “ring” where she commenced to perform her gladiator show.  I and my sons have rescued what we could by a quick knock on the window, and I have to admit, I have secretly cheered as well when a battered mouse or mole escaped her clutches.

Screen Shot 2017-05-02 at 10.56.08 AM

Though she is now trusting of us and sweet, her love of hunting and the feeling of freedom has kept her from wanting to ever be confined to a house.  Last night, however, I gave her no choice. With temperatures predicted to dip to below zero, I lured her in, untrusting that even her heat lamp could keep her warm in that cold.


I have to wonder if those in the mid-west, or north-west states laugh at our reactions to these temperatures and snow.  It reminds me of a Texan friend I had while attending college in Missouri, where it snowed in November and the ground remained white until April.  On our first snowfall as freshman, we, that is those of us not accustomed to such snow amounts, were sure that all college classes would be cancelled. Not so. Leaving the dorm, my Texas friend fussed and fumed as we carefully picked our steps down the sidewalk to our classes.  This was not until after she had called her mother, reporting the un-Godly conditions, that she, her daughter, was forced to face. I’m not sure if she thought her mother could call the college and convince them to cancel classes or if she was just so overwrought she needed to vent…either way, we were soon on our way to face the elements. Now please don’t be offended if you’re from Texas. I love the grit and spunk of Texans, but my dear friend just happened to have a strong sense of fashion, and heels, not snow-shoes (though she didn’t own a pair, thus the dilemma) were more her style.


But, back to Gabby and her 2 a.m. escape.  She was put into a large, portable fenced area with a cozy blanket, food, water, litter-box, and a cloth covering to surely keep her from thoughts of escaping to wander the house.  She has, in the past, “claimed” a piece of furniture in a way that neither I nor the furniture appreciated, thus the enclosure.  Unfortunately, the fence was no obstacle for Gabby, and in the wee hours of the morning she was off to find another couch.

After coaxing her back into her enclosure, my son and I were quite the early-morning team of “walking” the fence to the nearest bathroom, with Gabby following along inside.  Despite her howls of protests, and a few more escapes, she, and I, eventually fell back into sleep.  I, dreaming of warmer days, and she, I’m sure, of future outdoor adventures.


Today I woke to -4 degree windchill, but it warmed up to a big °15 by 2:00. School is cancelled for a third day tomorrow, and I’m off to get a much needed 2nd cup of coffee. Gabby got her way and made it out today to play in the snow and has refused all invitations to come back inside, sigh. She is a gladiator afterall.

Until next time,

∼ Jen

Morning Time – December


Christmas decorations have been put away and the New Year has cheerfully been rung in around the world…now to mentally adjust to the new date of 2018.  I can still remember back in high school when we had an assignment on what we thought the year 2000 would be like….back then, that was like trying to imagine living in outer space. Eighteen years into this millennium and it still sometimes feels surreal to me.


We had our first snowstorm of the season in early December which gave me some beautiful pictures to look back on.  As I sit writing this, we are in the midst of our first blizzard, dubbed a “bomb cyclone.”  Thankfully, we have not lost power, and I have been baking off and on for two days.  Something about snowstorms puts me in the baking mood, which my family always appreciates.


I was out early the day after the December snowfall taking pictures before I even had my morning coffee….for me that’s saying a lot.  I wanted to get some pics before Princess and the neighbor’s dogs started leaving their tracks.


Something about the morning after a freshly fallen snow is just magical.


snow covered beauty berry

The snow was the kind that clung to the branches, and the snow-laden limbs overhanging the creek were indeed picturesque.


I had plenty of bird food, with one area in particular resembling a southern smorgasbord, minus the grits, of course. Between the sunflower seed, peanuts, a variety of suet cakes and mealworms I was a shoo-in for birder of the neighborhood.

downy woodpecker

Unfortunately, it has also become a natural hunting ground for the neighbor’s cats and at least one hawk. I try to keep everything in as safe an area as possible for them, which can be a challenge… a place with no hiding spots for the furry intruders but with a covered brush area for the ground feeders, to hopefully hide from dastardly Mr. Hawk.

tufted titmouse

Whenever I see the little dark-eyed junco around the feeders, I know a snow is in the near future-he certainly lives up to his nick-name “snowbird.”

dark-eyed junco

He was caught below doing his happy little “snow victory dance.”


This is a good article about how to welcome the little guy and other wintering birds that may come to your area.

male northern cardinal
carolina wren

The snow only lasted a few days before the weather warmed up, only to  plunge us into a bitter cold streak a week later. The birds kept me entertained as the cold brought them to the feeders early each day.

DSC_0776 2
carolina wren

The secret to keeping blue jays happy and continually coming back is found in the power of the peanut!

DSC_0644 2

Though the male cardinal is known for his beauty, I find the female equally beautiful…

northern female cardinal

The little group of finches gathered together at the feeder one morning reminded me of little old men meeting up at a country store to gab over breakfast…

house finch

The wood thrush is a rarely seen visitor, but he makes his presence known by his hopping about and flinging through the leaves so violently with its beak it’s a wonder he doesn’t give himself whiplash.

wood thrush

Besides birds, the squirrels are always good for a show, and I really don’t mind them raiding the bird feeders or grabbing the jay’s peanuts.


He was not the only wild mammal to visit our yard…before I had barely opened my eyes one morning I spied a fox trotting off with something in its mouth.  I was relieved to see it wasn’t my cat but a little sad to think one of my squirrels had just become his breakfast.


The geese didn’t seem to mind the frigid water temperatures and they delight me each morning as they honk their goodbyes when leaving the peninsula.  They don’t wander  into our section of the creek often, so I enjoy it when they do.

I end with a morning view from our anniversary getaway. The deck was obviously too cold to enjoy, but the scenery was well worth waking up to.


I hope my dear blogging friends going through the blizzard with me are staying warm and cozy and enjoying the beauty of the snow and the wildlife it highlights.


Until next time,

∼ Jen