The Mystery of the Missing Eggs

So, we have fifteen chickens and we’re suddenly only getting an egg or two a day. I think their hiding them somewhere. I’ve looked high and low, in every nook and cranny. I can’t find the eggs anywhere! We  let them free range later in the day, but it’s too late for all of them to be waiting to lay eggs out there. What do you think? Have any of you chicken raisers had your whole flock suddenly stop laying for no apparent reason? Help please! Leave a comment if you have any thoughts or ideas!

Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy day to consider my dilemma! We eat a lot of eggs here… I’m going to have to go buy some soon!

Love you lots!

Michele

 

 

Salem-Ota Week

Last Saturday we welcomed a new member  to our family.  No, no, no… not a new baby, or a new pet, we welcomed a wonderful young girl named Shino. She was visiting from Ota City in Japan. Every year residents of the city of Salem, Massachusetts and the city of Ota visit each other in a unique exchange program. Ota is Salem’s “sister city” and for the past twenty or so years the two cities have fostered an ongoing relationship.  Groups of middle and high school age children and adults travel across the globe to visit each other’s cities.  When the students visit they stay with host families. We have served as a host family for three years. It’s an amazing week full of cultural exchange, family time and fun!

Throughout the week the Ota students travel in the Boston area. During the day their group visits historical spots in Salem . They also travel in to Boston to see Fenway Park, the State House and lots of other interesting and important attractions. The students meet and have lunch with our Mayor and our State Representative.  In the evenings the families are invited to accompany their student to optional family activities like Y night, mini-golf and a lobster pot luck supper. It’s a chance to spend time with families that we wish we saw more often.

The week begins with an opening ceremony and greeting at the House of Seven Gables. Here’s my gang just after we met Shino.

The students experience a week of typical American life.

They become familiar with our food, customs and traditions. It must be a huge adjustment for them, but they rise to the challenge with so much grace and kindness.

The kids made bracelets and watched the Olympics together. It was fun to have them visiting during the Olympics. 

They hung out in the yard. Shino is a baton  twirler and she treated us to a wonderful demonstration!

We made s’mores over the grill. What could be more American than s’mores?

Many of the families met the students at Canobie Lake Amusement Park for a day.

These girls had just experienced the big splash at the end of the Yankee Canonball (except for my little one who was still dry).

The families relaxed and picnicked under the trees.

At the end of the week the students  hold a Sayonara (good-bye) party for the host families.

They served Japanese food and shared aspects of Japanese Culture.

We saw a wonderful karate demonstration.

Learned about origami.

and traditional Japanese games.

The dancing was wonderful! 

At the end of the presentation the students sang for us in English and Japanese.

There were speeches by students,  teachers and members of the Salem-Ota Club.  It was a wonderful party!

Just like the students we’ve hosted before, Shino became a member of our family.

The good-bye, or as we say in the Salem-Ota Club “until we meet again”,  was the hardest part of the week. It always is, but it’s worth every tear.

As the bus pulled away from the curb taking the children back to their families in Japan, the parent standing next to me said “this is what the world needs, there could never be too much of this”.

What a perfect way to summarize our week together!

Free Family Fun! The Salem Maritime Festival

Tomorrow is the Salem Maritime festival at the Salem Maritime National Historic Site!

Participation is a long-time tradition in our family, as my husband has coordinated parts of it since it began in the early 90s.

There are knots to tie!
The Friendship will be open for tours.

You can explore the beach,

listen to great music,

and visit with animals.

There’s  kite making

and flying!Last year Blackbeard visited!

There are historical re-enactors

and kayakers!

It’s always a wonderful day!

My focus is on the kid’s activities, but there’s  also lots of traditional crafts people who adults can visit with and learn from.

It’s a wonderful celebration of maritime tradition!

And, if you need a quiet moment, be sure to check out the Derby Garden (right behind the Derby House)…

Hope to see you there!!

Michele

Dream House

When I think of my dream house, it’s this one. I’ve gone by it for years and I’ve always loved it.

It’s right on the ocean, here in Salem. 

The borders and architecture are beautiful with just the right mix of colors and textures. Every detail is perfect.

 I love the way the pots of flowers welcome visitors all the way up the steps.

Imagine sitting on this bench and enjoying the view.

And turning around to see the beach!

It’s really a little bit of heaven!

What does your dream house look like?

What’s Happening In the Garden– July 20th

It’s time for the Rose of Sharon to bloom!

These are  everywhere right now.

Mine are extra special to me because my sister sent them in an envelope a few years ago when they were about nine inches tall.

We had two Rose of Sharon trees growing in this little spot. We moved one last fall (more on that in a minute)..

This one needs to be moved out away from the Hemlock tree, centered to the left, and the area cleaned up.  Our neighbors took a very large arborvitae tree out of that corner recently.

Sounds like a good fall project!

Just below is a photo of the Rose of Sharon that we moved. It’s kind of hidden behind the swing set and fell off of my radar screen in the hot, dry weather.

Now it’s a bit yellowed and worn. This is a good reminder to water often for at least a year or two after transplanting a tree or shrub!

These are quite hardy so I’m sure it can be saved but I need to get on it and stay the course.

Over in the garden, the carrots are coming right along.

See the little cleome plants in there that are still re-seeding from a few years ago?

Michael put one pumpkin seed in the ground “just because” and here it is!

I saw bees pollinating it recently. I’m hoping that it’s not too late for pumpkins to grow on that vine. I’ll keep you posted…

The snapdragon that I planted in front of the chicken coop poofed up!

The asparagus is now a beautiful fern. We just couldn’t eat any more asparagus and there are  other veggies to enjoy.

The red day lily is blooming. I love this color!

The plant in the center is a pretty chrysanthemum. We’ll see it blooming in a few weeks.

And the butterfly garden is thriving. It’s always a little wild and in need of some thinning but the butterflies seem to love it!

What’s blooming in your garden this week?

Share in the comments section… I love to hear about how things are going for all of you!

Enjoy Everything!

Love,  Michele

Awesome Camping, Right Here in Salem!

I love camping! This week I decided to pack the kids up and head down to Winter Island for a few days.  Winter Island is a city park that is an island (connected by a causeway) right on the ocean.  It has a few amenities like a very rustic bathhouse and a camp store but it’s really all about the beach, the water and a little bit of history.

We’ve been going to the beach there for twenty five years but had never family camped. I was amazed that I could be so “on vacation” this close to home.

Our campsite was wooded and spacious.

And  the  views are spectacular!

This is looking in toward Derby Wharf and the city.

The island was historically a fort and more recently a coast guard base.

Here’s a post about it’s history that was written by  Salem blogger Beth Melillo a few weeks ago:

http://connectshore.com/2012/07/03/winter-island-a-personal-and-public-history/

There’s always something interesting to ponder.

Was this building used to store munitions or was it used for holding prisoners?

We really need to research that and figure it out.

Here’s the old sea plane hanger…

and a view from the back with one of the Salem Community Gardens sites in the foreground.

There’s the old barracks. I’d love to see this building restored and used again.

My kids have grown up playing at the playground.We used to go down for an hour before lunch and nap time when they were little.

There are flowers blooming all over the island.

One of the former caretakers loved to plant things and his handiwork is everywhere!

Casey’s gardens make me feel right at home.

The kids spent lots and lots of time exploring the tide pools…

Here’s a close up of some star fish that they found.

My little guy spends hours out there.

We did have to watch out for the critters that came out at night.

There were ground hogs and wharf rats. One night a skunk wandered right through our site as I was tucking the kids in.

We knew it was time to head home very early yesterday morning when Michael caught a raccoon pulling a bag of marshmallows through this hole that he (the raccoon) had chewed in our tent!

A little duct tape to repair the hole is nothing compared to wonderful family time and views like this!

Whether you spend a few hours or a few days, Winter Island is a perfect place to relax and get away!

Salem 101: Bewitched!

This statue has become a landmark in Salem. Can you tell who it is?

 

Here’s a closeup of her face

Of course, it’s the late Elizabeth Montgomery portraying Samantha Stevens on the Bewitched TV show!

What child of the sixties doesn’t remember watching Samantha and all of her adventures? In June of 2005 this statue was installed and dedicated here in Salem. It was donated to the city by the TV Land Network. There was quite a bit of controversy in the days leading up to the unveiling. Only two Bewitched episodes were said to be filmed here, so it’s relevance to our city’s history was widely questioned.  Some felt that it took away from the seriousness and tragedy of the  witch trials.

There was lots of excitement on the day of the reveal.  I didn’t attend, possibly because my fifth child was three months old  and the thought of taking five children under the age of eleven downtown to see a statue unveiled compromised my ability to breathe properly.  I believe that members of the cast were here, including the actress who played Tabitha. It was a big event!

It seems that Samantha has settled in comfortably. She’s become a landmark  in the center of a long row of wonderful restaurants. Salem’s downtown is hopping these days, and while Samantha doesn’t exactly represent the serious side of Salem,  she definitely adds a whimsical element to a city that is well-known for fun and whimsy.

Salem 101: A Walk around Salem Common

Yesterday I spent some time walking around Salem Common, a nine acre public park right in the middle of the city. It’s been public land for hundreds of years and was originally used as a pasture  in the 1600s, with ponds and a stream running though it. It was designated as a military training ground in the 1600’s and still hosts a military muster once a year. You can read more about the Common’s history here  at http://www.salemweb.com/guide/common/

As a former resident of the neighborhood it’s always fun to take a walk and take in the sights.

 People meet here to exercise, walk, ride bikes and play.

There’s a beautiful new playground..

When our kids were small and we lived a few doors away I spent many, many hours under that tree!

 There was a different play structure but the very same view. Such happy memories!

The walking path is covered by trees so it’s shady and comfortable.

here’s the view coming around the northwest corner

The common is lined with beautiful historic mansions.

Many of them were designed by renowned architect Samuel McIntire.

He created the original version of this  wooden archway as well.

It’s said to have been made for a visit by George Washington.

The Gazebo is the true focal point…lots of fun happens here!

Everything from the reading of the Declaration of Independence on the Fourth of July

to prom and wedding photos being taken!

The Salem Witch Museum is located on one corner (the two young people above both happen to work there)

The Witch Museum is a great place to gain a clear understanding of what happened during the Witchcraft Hysteria that Salem is so well known for.

The Common is quintessential New England, full of history and fun… a beautiful place to relax and unwind!

Hope you’ll visit soon! Hint, hint to all of my family and friends who are still planning their summer vacations  🙂

Have a great day! Enjoy Everything!

Michele

Peonies

There are lots of beautiful things blooming here in Salem this week and one of my very favorites is the peonies. Do I have any in my garden? No, I don’t. Why? Because they take time, space and patience.  I want to grow them. Every year I spend a good amount of time thinking about where I could plant some. I never seem to get it together and get them into the ground.  One of the great things about blogging is that I feel  accountable for what I say I’m going to do. So, here goes—  “I’m going to plant some peonies this year!!” If anyone has some that they’d like to share I’ll be by in no time to pick them up, now or in the fall… just let me know! Here are some of my inspiration peonies. My  dear friend Blaire has grown these in her Salem garden for years. Long before I knew her I used to lean over her fence every June to admire them. 



This is her first shot of this years’ blossoms… Wow! Perfection!!

Here’s a full view.. just beautiful!!


And one stem artfully arranged after a little damage from a hard rain… Leave it to Blaire to create something this pretty!

I would say that the patience and space needed is definitely worthwhile! Time to get to work! And many thanks to Blaire for allowing me to share these beautiful photos!

Enjoy Everything!

Michele

Salem 101: Where are We? On the Ocean!

I’m always surprised when friends and family really don’t know where Salem, Massachusetts is located. They often think that it’s in the western part of the state or in Boston or New Hampshire (there is a Salem in New Hampshire about an hour away).. We are actually about fifteen miles north of Boston, right on the coast. It’s a very convenient location. We can be in the city (we call Boston the city here) in about forty minutes, less in good traffic. The mountains of New Hampshire are two hours north, and Cape Cod is the same distance to the south. And we have the ocean and all that it offers. 

 

 

We love to  sit and watch the boats

Or relax on the rocks at Waikiki Beach, one of our favorite things to do! Here’s my little guy a few years ago

and more recently, he’s gets bigger and more adventurous all the time!

There are tide pools to explore!

We even have a polar bear plunge on New Years Day! (that’s snow on the beach in the background)

Salem is all about the ocean and the views here are beautiful, all year round!

There are several cities and towns called “Salem” in the United States, but this one is truly unique!

Enjoy your day!  Thanks for stopping by!  Michele