Monday, March 28, 2011


We acquired these three little cuties last week.  Brother Bo and Big Daddy have been raising them since they lost little Tasha and they have been rapidly multiplying.  These are the first hatchlings from their finch family and when Steve and I visited he fell in love with them.  Since there are more eggs in the original nest, there are more to come - it started out with four and now there are nine plus.  My Dad's father raised canaries and had an aviary in the basement so I am sure this brings fond memories for him. 

hawaiian finch

They wake up a little after 7 in the morning.  I bring them in the dining room where they can be around the action and have the sun shine on them.  Since we are remodeling, the room is quite empty and their sound is magnified.  The cutest thing was when the sparrows, finches and cardinals from outside started peeking in our window to see the little guys.  Nature is so entertaining.  I placed the swing in the center of their cage and they take turns performing for us. 
golden finches

Finches are one of the most common birds and have a long history of being kept for their beauty and lovely vocalizations.  The society finch was being bred in China at least 500 years ago.  Wealthy members of Victorian Britain once kept finches as status symbols in their homes to liven the decor.  Although they do not bond to humans like parakeets and parrots do, finches are considered excellent pets.  They learn to tolerate the presence of people but tend not to like being touched or handled.  In fact, finches prefer the company of other finches rather than that of humans.  Although finches require daily care and observation, they don't mind if you go to work and leave them with their pals all day. 
wild zebra finches

The word finch has come to mean 'any variety of small seed-eating birds with a stout bill.'  The name finch has been applied to at least 11 different families of birds around the world, although there is really only one group of 'true finches', the taxonomic family Fringillidate.  Surprisingly, this family includes the popular canary, which few people would think of as a finch.  My Dad often refers to them as canaries and we buy birdfood that is labeled for finches and canaries.  Canaries are actually 'true finches'.  Finches weigh from 7 to 30 grams and their length is between 3 and 8 inches.  They have beaks that are designed for seed husking, although most of them eat insects as well. 
owl finches

Finches have relatively short lives and tend to live from 4 to 9 years.  Finches are sensitive birds and although they can come to feel comfortable around humans, they do not enjoy being scratched or held.  A healthy finch will be alert and active.  They are busy birds, moving about their enclosure constantly.  Most finches make peeps and beeps throughout the day and some may sing in the mornings and evenings.  Males are more brightly colored than females.  They are more aggressive and sing in courtship.  Females don't sing and they do lay eggs. Finches will learn to recognize you and perhaps even interact with you, but they will always prefer other finches for company. You should always have at least two finches.  You can teach your finch to trust you and maybe even fly to your fingers.  You will have to spend a lot of time near the cage, sitting quietly to start with so that the finch learns not to worry about your presence.  Then begin offering them treats.  I have been reading my books right near them and they are already comfortable with me.  They quiet down when Thumper comes by for they are still not sure of her, but it doesn't take long and they resume their activity, for she sits nearby as if protecting them. 

strawberry finches

In caring for finches, their cage should be longer than it is high, leaving open space for zipping back and forth.  Finches need sunlight so keeping a cage near a sunny window that isn't drafty is excellent.  In the warmer months, moving the cage onto a patio or other safe and sunny place is wonderful for finches.  Sunlight is an important factor in the health and well-being of the little birds. Just make sure the cage is protected from direct sunlight and that some part of the cage remains in the shade.  Perches should be no more than 3/8 to 1/2 inches wide.  Plastic perches should be avoided for it will make them difficult for the birds to grasp.  Take care not to place them over food and water bowls so that the birds do not defecate in them.  Four or five perches in a cage are sufficient.  Newspaper is best for the bottom of cages. Plastic is the least desirable choice for bowls; stainless steel is better.  A ceramic or stainless steel bowl should also be left out for bathing. Cage covers should not have frayed edges or loose strings as finches searching for nesting material can get tangled in the thread and injure themselves.  Lighting is important, especially if you are breeding finches.  Length of day is a critical factor in giving finches time to eat enough to maintain energy required to raise a brood of chicks.  Natural light is a means of generating esential vitamins and overall well-being.  Some finches will not come into their full colors unless they have enough natural light.  For nesting, many finches prefer a wicker-type nest.   Unlike parrots, parakeets and cockatiels, finches don't really play with toys, but ours love the swing.
firetail finch

Keeping too many birds in your cage is an easy way to instantly have cleaning issues.  Overcrowded cages are not only dirty but dangerous.  Birds can easily get ill and may even get aggressive with one another. Grape seed extract makes a wonderful safe disinfectant.  If you lose a finch outside, chances are you won't get it back.  Getting lost outside is pretty much a death sentence for these little birds.  If your lost finch is still around and has a mate, you can put the cage outside and see if the finch will come back to land on top of it. 
purple finch

Every day you should supply your finches with a variety of fresh seeds, dark green, leafy vegetables (we use spring greens) chopped orange vegetables, a variety of fresh fruit, fresh water, calcium and gritt.  Finches love millet spray.  Spinach greens may provide a bath in wet leaves.  Carrots, yams, peas, pumpkin and cucumbers can be diced into small pieces as well as apples, melon and grapes.  You can add almost any fruit or vegetable except avocados, which are toxic to birds.  Stay away from sugar, salt, fatty human foods, chocolate, avocado and alcohol and caffeinated beverages.  Eggs are another great supplement for finches.  Not only are they high in protein, but if you leave the shell as part of the package, they also have the added benefit of calcium. Boil eggs for at least half an hour before serving in order to kill any bacteria that might be in the egg.  The boiled egg can be crushed, shell and all, and served.  Eggs should be only an occasional treat.  Some 'people food' that can be beneficial can be found in bread soaked in milk, cheese, and whole wheat bread.  As for live food, mealworms and fruit flies are one of the most common addition to finch diets, as are wax worms and crickets.

gouldian finches

Don't clip your finch's wings.  You may think they would be easier to catch and tame, however, finches cannot climb on the bars of their cages like a parrot. They have no way to get around without their wings.  They need them to hop around from perch to perch and to feel secure.  Finches that are clipped will be clumsy and stressed.  If you have a pair of finches, chances are the hen will lay eggs.  Even if you have a hen without a mate, she may lay eggs (although these eggs will not hatch.)  Finches don't have to breed, however, just avoid giving them nests and nesting material.  Remove eggs as they are laid.  The birds won't mind.  If you want to breed, the eggs should hatch 12 to 15 days after the pair has started to incubate them.  The chicks will break their way out into the world on their own slowly and ease themselves out of their egg shells.  All chicks are completely dependent on their parents.  Do not disturb the nest for at least three or four days after the birds hatch.  Finches, especially new parents, may abandon their babies if disturbed.  Abandoned babies will die.  Most finches will open their eyes when they are between 5 and 8 days old.  After this, their feathers will start to come in.  The chicks will then begin to pop their heads out of the nest and check out the world.  When they have all their feathers, they will begin to explore. 
It's important to keep a reference book handy to research any concerns.   The joy these little guys bring is precious.  The other day one of them was dancing ~ bopping around to the music from an Xfinity commerical.  Simple pleasures. xo

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

it is finished

The Sawyer home beloved by the Nalepa and Wind families has officially passed on to  new owners.  It was their home for 70 years and now it will provide shelter and warmth to a family that is excited to begin their journey here.  They already have their mail sent to this address so you know they are anxious.  LOL  Good ~ now the time, money and energy spent on this place can go toward our own. 
our love nest

Plenty of bonding happened in this room.  Those were the days, my friend.
most revered room

It would not have gone so smoothly without bestowed blessings.  Our gratitude will never cease.
found many treasures here

The cleared closet is waiting to be filled by another.
old coal shed

 We left some items for their future use.  Pay it forward.
Thank you, St. Joseph.  xo

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

orange glazed blueberry biscuits

orange glazed blueberry drop biscuits


3 3/4 cups Trader Joe's buttermilk baking mix
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) softened salted butter
1 1/2 cups cold milk
3 tablespoons orange zest
2 cups blueberries

Add baking mix and butter to a large bowl.  Using a pastry knife, cut butter into the mix until lumps resemble coarse meal (the butter can be pinched with your fingers.)  Add orange zest, mix together then add milk.  Mix again and gently stir in blueberries.  Using an ice cream scoop, drop dough onto a baking pan. Bake in oven at 400 degrees for 15 minutes or until golden brown. 


Stir together 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar and 3 tablespoons orange juice.  Brush over baked and cooled biscuits.  Serve warm. 
Lazy doggies by me while I chat on the phone with Carrie ~ 57 minutes.
Our geese have returned and made themselves at home again.  I cleaned up the backyard but Wayne-O was right last fall when he said 'pay me now or pay me later' ~ there was minimal work to do.
Our new addition ~ three finches from Big Daddy and Brother Bo.  They are adorable and they sound so sweet and lovely. 

Let your mind be quiet, realizing the beauty of the world, and the immense, the boundless treasures that it holds in store.  All that you have within you, all that your heart desires, all that your nature so specially fits for you ~ that, or the counterpart of it waits embedded in the great Whole, for you.  Edward Carpenter

Smile and the whole world smiles with you. xo

Sunday, March 20, 2011

ode to spring

Happy Spring!

spring: rise up or issue forth suddenly; cause to leap or rise; the beginning or freshest time of anything ~ happy days indeed!  To celebrate, I share a poem by Donna Bamford with some of my springtime favorites.
Ode to Spring

The snowdrops came first,
then the crocuses
and daffodils
and finally the cascade
of harlequin tulips
and the light brighter
and so welcome after the pall of winter,
the April light shy and weak,
but May, everything one could have wished for
the ducks in the pond, sanguine
he so solicitous of her
following her around then on the lawn
we named them Horatio and Emma
after Nelson
my father's hero
such a beautiful garden this year
it did the heart so much good
and the sparrows playing
such a gentle bird
and the cardinals and the robins
It has a soul, the garden,
its own soul,
and the soul was happy. xo

Friday, March 18, 2011


This is my grand doggie, Ozis, a.k.a Gogo, Nuf Nuf, Mr. Galoo, tornado dog...because he is always on the go.  I like to keep him at our place during the day so he can enjoy the fresh air and entertain us.  One thing he likes to do is bark whenever someone comes upstairs, not naming names, but I decided to train him otherwise.  I used an old faithful method they teach in dog obedience schools and it only took a few attempts and he nailed it.  Genius. 
Just take an empty soda can and fill it with about a dozen pennies.  Tape the opening securely and insert can in an old sock and make a tie to secure the can.  Hide this contraption so doggie doesn't see you holding it.  Whenever Ozis barks at someone I throw the sock in front of him so he associates the bad behavior with the sound to distract his barking.  He must think he caused it by his barking and not me throwing it which is why it must be hidden.  When he stops barking I praise him.  This is important -  he gets positive reinforcement.  It only took a couple of times and he got the message. I tell him anyone living in the house is friendly and no barking allowed at them.  May I say it again?  Genius.
Ozis will have a baby brother in three months as Margarita winds down the second trimester and soon begins the final stretch (no pun intended.) As Darcy and I took all three doggies for a walk to enjoy the gorgeous weather, we met a new neighbor with a three-month old newborn named Brady.  Adorable.  Now Dillon will have a playmate. 
At 25 weeks, his hands are fully developed and he spends most of his awake time groping around in the darkness of the uterus.  Exploring the structures inside the uterus has become baby's prime entertainment.  Fascinated by the amount of tactile stimulation a fetus gives itself, baby touches a hand to the face, one hand to the other hand, clasps his feet, touches his foot to his leg, his hand to his umbilical cord.  Brain and nerve endings are developed enough now so that baby can feel the sensation of touch.  That doesn't mean he can feel it when his daddy pokes the stomach, so knock it off. LOL. 
Baby's arms and legs have grown to almost the proportions they will be at birth.  His nostrils, which have been clogged up until now, clear out, and he can practice breathing through the nose.  The structures of his spine are now made up of 150 joints, 33 rings and some 1,000 ligaments.  The capillaries, the teeniest blood vessels, are now forming, giving his formerly translucent skin a pink glow.  The blood vessels in the lungs also develop this week.  We'll know this to be true when he gives those lungs a workout in a few months!  The nerves around the mouth and lip area are showing more sensitivity now.  His swallowing reflexes are developing and baby can hear sounds outside the womb.  The inner ear bones have hardened so hearing is more acute.  Baby may hear his daddy's voice more easily than the mama's, as baby is sensitive to a deeper pitch.  Baby weighs about a pound and a half and is 13 1/2 inches long.  Bones are becoming solid and the brain is growing rapidly; the brain cells are starting to mature.  The sexual organs are fully developed. 

Happy days as we anticipate the arrival of our bundle of joy.  It took my breath away when I saw the little neighbor baby in person and realized that we will hold our little Dillon sooner than later. 

The joys of new beginnings.  Springtime, sunshine and grandsons.  Thank you, God. xo

Thursday, March 17, 2011

happy st. patrick's day

A pot of gold can be as close as the twinkle in your child's eye.  Look for it and count your blessings. 

Happy anniversary Dan and Darcy!

Thanks to all who are praying for our Uncle Bill - God is surely listening as he is recovering slowly, but surely.  He is a true testament of strength, courage and determination to live life to its fullest and an inspiration to us all.

Now we continue to pray for Japan.  xo

Friday, March 11, 2011

it's a naked room!

Now that the "other house" is completely ready to go, I begin my renovating projects at our beloved sanctuary.  Just like Terry Bradshaw in the movie Failure to Launch, we joke about having our own space to do whatever we like; however, unlike him, our house is still full. This is as close as I can get to having a naked room;  not so I can run around naked, but all the heavy clutter is removed.  I can feel the burst of good feng shui energy flowing all over.  I like having an echo in the house without all the "stuff."
Mikey begins the huge task of repairing walls, priming and painting this much needed restoration.  He is a perfectionist and did a beautiful job on his own place, so I know it will be gorgeous when he is finished.  I have some great ideas about window treatments from a consultant which will be the icing on the cake.  Today I will browse for some pretty light fixtures and meet with a contractor to refinish the hardwood floors and plan the bathroom renovations.  Instead of painting the outside of the house, we decided to have it all aluminum sided to give it a fresh, clean look with long-term low maintenance.  We are not spring chickens and the less we have to do, the better. 
This is Robert, my massage therapist.  Thanks to him I am able to accomplish all these mighty tasks.  His healing hands brought back some much needed circulation after the horrendous ordeal at the other place.   It's funny how life's circles continually surround me.  Robert heals at the very same place I began my journey at The Goddess Touch when I had my wellness spa.  It is now called Celestine and owners Jen and Debbie have the joys of managing the place.  I still frequent my old stomping grounds for their services and feel right at home when I do so. 

Our spring is just around the corner and the sun inspires me to get out and about.  We just began the season of Lent, time of renewal.  Perfect. xo

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

show me the light

Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Light

Dear God,

Show me the light at the center of my brothers.
Show me the light at the center of myself.
Show me the light at the center of the world.
Where I see guilt, show me innocence.
Where I focus on mistakes, show me how to focus on efforts at good.
Help me have faith in goodness of others.
Help me have faith in Your spirit within me.
Thus may darkness be cast out.
May I cleave to the light that is my heart.
This is my prayer.
May I see the light in everyone.

Praying for someone is a gracious act.  It gives blessing to the one who prays, as well to the person who is prayed for.  Imagine life to be a camera:  the amount of light in the picture is determined by the size of the aperture at the time the picture is taken.  For most of us, most of the time, our experience of life and its potential for joy is severely limited by the constriction of our own hearts.  It is as though an aperture is shut, at least partially, that could be completely open.  The joy we seek lies less in something new happening and more in our opening our hearts more fully to the love in our lives already.  Only love can make us happy, and only we ourselves can determine its presence or absence inside our hearts.  To acknowledge love is to increase its capacity to heal us; to ignore love is to let it slip away.

Look around you while you are in public somewhere or gathered with loved ones.  Look into the faces of the people you see, and silently say:  The light of God in me salutes the light of God in you.  Do it for five minutes minimum, each day, and happiness will be yours. 

Wherever we picked up judgmental attitudes, they do not serve us now.  They do not serve God or the creation of a new world, and serving God is our only goal.  To serve God is to think with love.  Let us search our minds for the judgments we still hold, for the unforgivenesses, the places where we do not love.  The ego is sly and insidious.  It takes discipline and vigilance to do the mental work necessary to purify our hearts.  Honesty with ourselves and God, and the willingness to be healed by Him, form the crux of our journey.
Dear God,

I surrender to You my thoughts of judgment.
Please heal me of my temptation to blame Your children whom You adore.
Teach me to love as You do.
Teach me to see the reality behind the superficial masks, the truth in the hearts of all Your children.
May I see the innocence in all humanity, that I may see the world of Your creation, the world anew, the world that shall be.
I relinquish my miscreations.
I surrender my belief in guilt.
Bring me home to the truth at last.
May all God's children be innocent in my eyes for they are all my brothers.
May I see this that the world might heal.
Dear God, give me new eyes, Your eyes.  Amen.

Thank you Marianne Williamson, for Illuminata.
Hold them in the light with love and bless them to their highest good. xo

Sunday, March 6, 2011

couple cases of corona


My heroes!  These bulldogs took the bull by the horn as they loaded and stored the plethora of items from our house in the city.  Some of the furniture was unbelievably heavy but the guys are like Hercules and handled it with ease.  It didn't hurt that Mike brought a couple cases of Corona to motivate them, either.  They probably ascended and descended all 50 stairs at least 100 times throughout the day with the treasures to be stored from the attic to the basement and onto the truck.  No one ever complained how difficult or tedious the task was.  Who needs a stairmaster?  Not only did they spend the day with us, but afterward Jason went on to work all night, and I suspect the others continued their own missions as well.  Thanks so much, guys.  Love you all.
cousins (brothers of the heart) Ed (Bonyok) and Wayne-o

These guys are like brothers and spent their childhood running (literally) through the house and attending the numerous gatherings with their families.  They browsed through each room remembering the times they played and bonded, then more recently, painted and repaired the place and I could see the twinkle in their eyes reminding them of days gone by.  Afterwards they looked at each other and said "It's time," and chuckled at the notion of ending a long, long sojourn.  They held on to pieces of the old days with simple souvenirs of their ancestors, like the old cane their Grandpa used, or the old hat Uncle Steve wore when dabbling in house repairs.  Old being the operative word here. 
brothers of the heart~anthony and mikey

These guys are like miniatures of the aforementioned dudes.  They, too, had their share of repairing ceilings and painting and sanding walls at this abode.  Notice the reinforcement Mike is holding!   It doesn't take much to motivate them and they got down and dirty without a hitch.  Anthony and Mike work well together and there is nothing they can't handle.  It's a good feeling to know the next generation has the gumption to get 'er done, regardless of the challenge.  Their strength and tenacity makes us proud.
 the mighty truck

So long, Sawyer!  Once the loaded-to-the-hilt trailer truck was packed, it didn't take long to unload and store.  We celebrated the accomplished mission by dining at Home Run Inn for delicious pizza and chicken strips.  This was the hardest day ever and I must mention there was a moment when it could have been my last.  After I dropped Jason off so he could go to work, there was a long train on 63rd.  I waited patiently, even though every inch of me screamed home, home, home and just as I was heading on Harlem to get on I-55, I noticed an SUV with its hind on top of a grid rail, facing the other direction.  It staggered my mind how it got there and a few feet ahead of me were two cars stalled.  All of a sudden the car in front of me slid and jammed into a stone rail but kept driving away and then my Jeep started sliding and just as it was about to ram into or even over the guardrail into a huge drop, it stopped, as if my angels caught it.  I waited to see if another car would hit me from behind, but it did not, so I continued driving away from the black ice and got home safely.  My whole body was shaking uncontrollably and I heard the news mention enormous amounts of accidents and roads being closed because of the black ice.  I was saved last night, no doubt.  It was too close for comfort and today I will thank my Lord for His blessings. 

Once again, thanks to everyone who took part in this huge endeavor:  Wayne-O, Bonyok, Bobbie, Asad, Anthony, Jason, Billy, Danny, Mikey and most of all Jesus. 
You are the best! xo

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

dear mom helen

Helen and George

It has been three years on this day that you were reunited with the love of your life.  The time passed quickly, yet it seems like a long, long time since you took your last three breaths (one for each of your sons, and grandsons.)  We cherish the time you were with us in this life and hold tons of gratitude for the love you gave to our sons.  This priceless treasure of your time is instilled in them forever and they will continue your legacy with their own children.  I know you and Dad are playing with baby Dillan and in a few months we will know that joy.  I found some cute baby items, pictures of you with the boys and your beloved cruise trips, as well as some cute little notes from Wayne and Bobby.  I even found all your tax returns dating back to 1954 and a book of war stamps.  I placed them on the pink blanket that kept you warm while you were here.

As we prepared to exchange ownership on your beloved home, I discovered an immense amount of relics from your past.  I boast being an organized person, but you put me to shame with how you kept every single item in its place.   Your love for your home and family is evident in all the memories you contained in every box of your life, and Mom, you had a ton of boxes!  We will keep many of the family historical items, especially the lone trunk your Dad brought with him from Poland; it's priceless.  Mike went through all Dad's tools and will make him proud to carry on his mechanical expertise.  The new owner came by and the first thing he said was it was a lucky house - he felt it, too.  He was very impressed when Wayne mentioned all the generations that lived there for 70 years.
As we lovingly store your treasures until the boys settle in their own homes, know they will be cherished and your efforts to maintain them will have not been in vain.  Steve plans to decorate his place with most of your furniture - he loves that stuff!  Bobby is still grounded in your neighborhood and is doing beautifully thanks to Thresholds.  Now you have another cliffhanger with you, for Uncle Frank left this earth yesterday morning - he was 96! 

Keep smiling down on us and hold us in your hearts, as we do you and Bombhead. I know Wayne made you proud as he handled everything just as you requested.

  Give Dillan a smooch from me and when he is with us, I'll do the same for you.  xo