Spring has Sprung!

Spring has Sprung!

Today is the first full day of Spring, and oh how ready I am to welcome it!

It may still be a little brown and chilly outside, but I put the snowies away and brought out the flowers and bunnies and birds.

I got this sweet tray and floral and bunny from my friend Anne’s Farmhouse Primitives shop at Berry Vine Gifts.

The amazing candle is from Antique Candle Co. in the most luscious fragrance of Country Pear by Cotton Stem.  It is one of the most wonderful smelling candles I have ever had!

These little bunnies are from a recent trip to Hobby Lobby.

And I love this Springy green wreath I also found in Anne’s shop at Berry Vine Gifts.  It replaced the cotton stem wreath I had here for Winter.

And what do you think of this fun little stack of books I made?  I’ve been seeing them on Instagram on a few feeds I follow, and it turns out I had everything needed to make them myself.  In fact, I might be making more to sell at Berry Vine Gifts and through our McKinneyX2Designs Etsy shop.  So many possibilities of quotes and personalized messages can be made.  For my first try, I did my favorite life message, “Cherish the Moments.”

Welcome Spring!

Breathe in the fresh air.

Soak in the warmth of sunshine.

Bloom and blossom like the flowers.

Whistle a happy tune with a spring in your step.

Cheers & Hugs,



Sometimes I Wonder

Goldfinch and Grosbeak at the feeder - Mars, PA - June, 2017

Goldfinch and Grosbeak at the feeder – Mars, PA – June, 2017

I wonder
how you put up
with me.
Then I remember,
oh I put up with you.
So we’re even.

Author unknown

Lovingly dedicated to a guy I call “Merv.”
He calls me “Gert.”
I put up with him.

He puts up with me.
Let’s do it until eternity. ❤

Cheers & Hugs,

Brilliant Bird Banter

Purple Finch - Mars, PA June 2017

Purple Finch – Mars, PA June 2017

Brilliant Bird Banter.

Rise early.
Sing a joyful tune.
Share with your friends.
Spread your wings and soar.
Spend time in the woods.
Make a cozy nest.

(This is just one of the many beautiful purple finches  that visit our backyard.  He’s enjoying a sunflower seed from a feeder that hangs on our deck.  We so enjoy sharing our woods and yard with our bird friends, and we can learn a lot from them too!)

Cheers & Chirps,

There’s a New Bird in Town

breakfast bird wings

There’s a new bird in town visiting our backyard feeders these days.

The wintry colors and spots and the delicacy of the bird’s wings remind me that

life imitates art

and art imitates life….

that life is art…

and art is life.

breakfast bird chatter

What do you think these two were chatting about over breakfast?

breakfast bird

They are the new bird in town.  Looks to me like it could be the European Starling?

Any experts out there know?

They sure are bringing joy and beauty and artistic inspiration.

Cheers & Hugs,

Gold Finch Mountains to Climb

gold finch watercolor card

After painting Spooky earlier this week, I still felt like doing more.

I was on a watercolor roll.

So while the paints and brushes were still out,

I saw a Youtube video by The Frugal Crafter.

Lindsay made painting a gold finch

look like a cinch.

So I made the one above.

Then I felt like Jodi’ing it up a teensy tinch,

which meant loosening it up and splattering a pinch.

So I went at it again – on my own this time.

That’s why this original is having a bit of a bad hair day…

Oh dear…..

I sure have mountains to climb!

gold finch watercolor bad hair day

Cheers & Hugs,


Just let it roll off your back

Brown Headed Cowbird, Mars, PA

Brown Headed Cowbird, Mars, PA

The brown-headed cowbird is another member of the menagerie that hangs out in our backyard.  Our son Nick claims this is his favorite.

The cool thing about this bird is the iridescent nature of its silky black body.  Sometimes he looks blue or purple depending on the lighting or angle. Such a beauty he is – eh?

The other day when it was pouring down rain, he was perched so regally above the feeder with the rain just rolling off his slick, drenched feathers.

He didn’t seem to mind at all, and I thought about the great lessons we can learn from nature…

about letting go of negative…

letting adversity just roll off our backs…

standing tall and proud no matter the circumstances….

looking good even with wet hair… 😉

Singing and dancing in the rain…

Thanks Mr. Cowbird!

Cheers & Hugs,

Old Fashioned Peach Dumplings

peach dumpling

What is better than a warm apple dumpling with a scoop of vanilla ice cream?

How about an old-fashioned peach dumpling with ice cream and peach brandy in the caramel sauce?!?!

peach dumpling 4

O M G are these amazing!

Hubby loves peach pie, and I had some peaches getting very ripe on the kitchen counter Father’s Day morning.

peach dumpling 1

So I decided to make him this special treat of flaky pie crust wrapped around sweet juicy fresh peaches stuffed with brown sugar, cinnamon, butter and vanilla and drizzled with a creamy, caramely, brandy infused sauce.

Is that Merv a lucky guy or what??!!

peach dumpling 2

It was a great weekend, beginning with my boss winning Entrepreneur of the Year Friday evening at a gala I was so fortunate to attend with him and some of our colleagues and friends, and ending with having the kids over for Father’s Day.

Our oldest son, Jake, grilled an amazing pork tenderloin he marinated in fresh herbs and lemon, and he also brought over his homemade macaroni salad (one of hubby’s faves).  Our  daughter-in-law, Colleen, brought hubby more goodies – homemade apricot turnovers and homemade cinnamon swirl bread.  He’ll be set for a while!  And this is all after being treated out to breakfast at one of his favorite spots with our youngest son, Nick.

Unfortunately, I ended up getting some kind of nasty “crud.”  It started Friday evening at the gala when my voice started going and my throat got scratchy and sore.  I woke up Saturday morning with my right eye sealed shut, coughing up a storm, and absolutely no voice.  I tried to take it easy, and we had to cancel Saturday evening dinner plans with friends.

I’m still feeling pretty punk, but oh well – still bucked up and prepared this yummy treat and enjoyed visiting with the family and playing Cranium and laughing way too much!  Did you ever try to do a humdinger challenge with no voice?!  Thank goodness whistling worked!

peach dumpling 3

But back to these amazing peach dumplings…

I am the queen of improvising in recipes and had not had a chance to go to the grocery store this weekend feeling like I did, so when the recipe I found (at A Flock in the City) called for heavy cream in the sauce and I had none in the refrigerator, I decided to try substituting vanilla ice cream.  Where there is a will there is a way!  And I’m not sure I’d do it any other way after this!!  I made a few other tweaks – using my own standby pie crust recipe, blanching and peeling the skin from the peaches, leaving out the nutmeg, and adjusting a few quantities of sugar and butter, but I really liked this recipe I found.

peach dumpling

Hubby loved them, so I’m glad I made this treat for him.  I also got him a new bird feeder – a Squirrel Buster (thanks for the recommendation Jo) and an Oriole feeder, so the birds are sure having a good time.

The squirrel however…..  well – just watch this video (thanks Nick for allowing me to share!)

Old Fashioned Peach Dumplings


  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup vanilla ice cream
  • 1/2 cup peach brandy
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt


  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and blanch peaches for 2 minutes.  Immediately remove to ice water.  The skin will slip right off to peel the peaches.
  • Cut peaches in half and remove pit.
  • Roll out pie crust and cut into 6 squares (approx 4″ x 4″) or large enough to wrap peaches
  • Place one peach half in center of each square, and fill with brown sugar and cinnamon, a dollop of butter, and a drizzle of vanilla.
  • Place second half of peach on top, and wrap entire stuffed peach with dough – sealing to keep juices in.
  • Place in 9 x 13 rectangular baking stone or dish.
  • Prepare sauce by melting brown sugar and butter.  Bring to a boil.
  • Add vanilla ice cream and stir until melted and boiling again.
  • Add peach brandy, and continue boiling for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add vanilla and salt.
  • Pour sauce into bottom of baking dish around dumplings.
  • Bake at 450 degrees F for 35-40 minutes.
  • Serve warm with a dollop of ice cream or whipped cream.

Hope you all had a nice weekend celebrating Fathers and families.

Cheers & Hugs,


A Love Story…

woodpecker love affair

They are so romantic…
it is better than a rare love story film.

They each peck at the feed for a moment or two,
then meet up in the middle to peck each other.

You say one is feeding the other,
but I see them each feed themselves.

Some say why feed them in the summer
when they can find their own food.

But then I would miss this kissing…
Woodpeckers falling in love.

Cheers and Hugs and Woodpecker Kisses,

This photo is being shared in the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Off Season

PS  On my daily morning call with my Dad yesterday morning, I was telling him about how cute these woodpeckers are eating and “kissing.”  As we were talking, a woodpecker flew by him on his porch.  We were watching the woodpeckers at the same time in our homes an hour apart.  He asked, “Why haven’t we seen a picture of it yet?”  You see, he reads my blog every day, and we often talk about it.  So here it is Dad!  I ❤ You!

Who Needs an Office with a Window?

…when you are fortunate enough to work from a home office.

I often start out early in the morning on the back deck where the morning sun is bright and warm.

home office back deck

But when it gets too hot there, I move to the side porch for some shade,

home office side porch

or the front porch to swing a bit while typing.

home office front porch

Sometimes it’s necessary to work in THE actual home office…

home office

but I also might sit at the kitchen table,

home office kitchen table

or more often stand at the kitchen counter,

home office kitchen counter

or even curl up on the couch.

home office couch

And though I so terribly miss my little four-legged co-worker, buddy, and pal, Mikey who was constantly by my side,

Mikey and the ice

many of you have asked about our new neighbor, the baby cardinal.

baby cardinal day 2

Well – she visits often.  She has learned to eat from the feeders and is growing fast.

baby girl cardinal growing up
Isn’t she cute?!

She hangs out with the menagerie of other cardinals, goldfinches, grosbeaks, woodpeckers, orioles, and all the others that flutter about in our backyard.

So who needs an office with a window – eh?

I am so fortunate to have my office at home tweet home.

Cheers & Hugs,


(Some of you commented about enjoying my “behind the scenes” photo the other day, so I thought you might enjoy a few more behind the scene photos.)