It's only 10 days until Christmas . . . ooh! It's hard to believe that the holiday is so close. It seems like just my last post when I was talking about Thanksgiving . . . oh, wait, maybe it was! :)

Our new Whippet puppy, Gracie, is happily chewing on one of her toys as I write this. She is quite curious about everything, and seems to think it's her business to steal socks and then chew on them. She is so cute!

Lately, I've been working on memorizing the first sixteen lines of the Twas the Night Before Christmas poem in French. It's difficult---I've got ten lines down well but the rest are still evading me. I'll keep trying!

Happy Thanksgiving!

I’m pleased to say that it’s Thanksgiving once again. The snow had been on the ground here at the farm, but has melted considerably due to a welcomed warm-weather period.

I watched the National Dog Show on television today and was pleased that the Whippet made it to the finals in Best of Show. Since the arrival of our new Whippet puppy, I have fallen in love with the breed!

I wish you all a happy and peaceful day.


Lately I have been watching squirrels run around in the great outdoors, trying desperately to gather enough pinecones for winter. They are so cute. One red squirrel in particular seems to think that it is necessary to bury pinecones in multiple nests and then transport them back and forth as she sees fit!

Here's a photo I took of a red squirrel who has decided to live near our house.

This post is a little belated, but a late post is better than no post at all, so . . .

I'm happy to say that the USA went home (on the women's side) with three gold medals and two bronze medals. Not bad! The U.S. won the team gold, the all-around gold with Jordyn Wieber, and the vault gold with McKayla Maroney. The bronzes were for Jordyn Wieber on balance beam, and Alexandra Raisman on floor exercise. What a group of talented girls!

This afternoon marks the first day of gymnastics competition at the Pan-American Games. I can't wait to see Shawn Johnson perform in an international competition for the first time since 2008! Good luck USA!

Check out my new guest blog post at Fresh from the Farm, Fox Hill Farm's official blog!

The World Championships are approaching rapidly . . . 6 days to go!! The U.S. women's team is in Tokyo, Japan, where the championships are being held; and aside from the team, 2008 Olympic All-Around Champion Nastia Liukin will be attending the highly anticipated event. In fact, Nastia was on the U.S. Worlds team selection commitee.

I've been looking forward to this competition for a long time, and it's really exciting that it's finally getting close.

As for the Pan-American Games, which will be held after the World Championships, there has been a setback for the U.S. team. Chellsie Memmel, 2008 Olympic veteran, was forced to withdraw from the competition due to her shoulder injury (which occured at the 2011 Visa Championships). Chellsie had surgery on September 23rd, and we all hope she will have a safe recovery.

I made some ponies happy this morning by offering sugar cubes. They were snatched up most delightedly.

It makes my day to make a pony's day!
 
I also have some exciting news. My family is looking for a new puppy! Among my favorite breeds are Pembroke Welsh Corgis, Dachshunds, Chihuahuas, Italian Greyhounds, and Whippets. Right now we are considering a female Whippet puppy, although we haven't found Little Miss Perfect yet. We'll keep trying! :)



 
Every year, the gymnastics World Championships is held in October, and I look forward to watching the intense competition and amazing athletics. Gymnastics (especially the women’s, which I’m more interested in) is a wonderful sport, and I have been following it for quite some time now. My favorite gymnast is Alicia Sacramone, a 2008 Olympian and 2010 World Championships medalist on vault---and she made this year’s Worlds team!

The list of the women who made the team was announced last night via USA Gymnastics on Facebook. The members are:



1. Alicia Sacramone

2. Jordyn Wieber

3. Anna Li

4. Gabrielle Douglas

5. Alexandra Raisman

6. McKayla Maroney



I was very pleased with this list. Jordyn Wieber won the all-around at the 2011 American Cup (over 2010 World all-around gold medalist Aliya Mustafina of Russia), and she definitely deserves to be on the team. I sent Jordyn a fan letter congratulating her on her American Cup win this year, and, to my surprise, she sent me a signed photo of herself! So it’s extra nice for me seeing her reach such a great height.

Also, the list of the women who made the Pan American Games team was also announced last night. The members are:



1. Bridgette Caquatto

2. Jessie DeZiel

3. Brandi Jay

4. Shawn Johnson

5. Chellsie Memmel

6. Bridget Sloan



This is also a fantastic list. I’m so glad for the new American stars (Bridgette, Jessie, and Brandie), and also thrilled for the 2008 Olympic team veterans (Shawn, Chellsie, and Bridget), who have been making successful comebacks.

Until very recently, I did not know that Bridget Sloan was returning to the sport this quickly, but I’d seen Shawn Johnson and Chellsie Memmel at the Visa Championships, where they both looked incredible. I hope that all four Olympic teammates (including Alicia Sacramone) can be seriously considered for next year’s Olympic Games. I think this is highly possible, if they keep improving from where they are now.

Congratulations to all the gymnasts! And I hope that Mackenzie Caquatto, (who most likely would have made the Worlds team if not for her injury), gets better soon. :-)

I can’t wait for the competitions to begin!



 
I went for a walk today, and saw purple and white asters, tansy, fleabane, goldenrod, and other wildflowers. The apples are just about ready to be picked, because I opened a few that had already fallen off, and the seeds were brown. Yes!!

I hope everyone is having as pleasant a Labor Day as I am. J

I am so thrilled about how my projects did at the county fair last week! These are the results:

1. Poem about horses (1st place)

2. Poster on wildflowers (1st place)

3. Knitted pillow (3rd place)

4. Pencil sketch (1st place)

5. Crayon picture (1st place)

6. Story sequence of 5 pictures (1st place)

7. 5 pictures of animals (1st place)

8. My best photograph (1st place)

9. Another poem (1st place)

10. Poster on my top 10 favorite books (1st place)

11. Book review (1st place)
My book review, on "Katie John," originally appeared on this blog.

12. A display showing project work (1st place, and Best of Show!!)

My display was of the ribbon bookmarks I make. This was the description I gave for my display, along with the bookmarks I set out:

For my self-determined project this year, I've been making ribbon bookmarks.

To make my bookmarks, I bought velvet ribbons, clamps, and jump rings from online shops. I constructed them by cutting out about 10" of ribbon and then attaching clamps to each end. I did this with pliers.

Then, I collected vintage charms and fastened these onto the clamp by using a jump ring, and securing it with the pliers.

I showcased my bookmarks at the Land O' Lakes Art Impressions show on July 23rd. I sold a few, and it was an interesting experience.

Thank you!


I'm really happy with how well my projects did. I look forward to entering more at next year's fair.


I finished my county fair projects yesterday. This is what I ended up doing:

1. A poem about horses
2. A poster on wildflowers
3. A knitted pillow
4. A pencil sketch
5. A crayon picture
6. A story sequence of 5 pictures
7. 5 pictures of animals
8. My best photograph
9. Another poem
10. A poster on my top 10 favorite books
11. A book review
12. A display showing project work.

I am pleased with how my entries turned out!
Ooooohh.......the county fair is August 13th. I'm not ready yet!! :)

I plan to work on my various projects today. My goal is to finish every single project by August 10th. That gives me just a little over a week . . . . can I make it?

I'll keep posting updates on my progress. I hope I can reach my goal. Fingers crossed! &
A while back on my blog, I posted about having written 3,000 words on a writing project. Then I checked back later and said that I'd written 6,000 words.


I completed the project on June 11th (finally!) and it ended up being approximately 15,008 words. I'm so pleased!



TITLE: Piper Reed, Rodeo Star

AUTHOR: Kimberly Willis Holt

COPYRIGHT: 2011

ORIGINAL PUBLISHER: Henry Holt and Company, LLC

NUMBER OF PAGES: 149

PLOTLINE: Piper Reed gets a surprise one day: her parents are going on a second honeymoon to France! Piper and her sisters, Sam and Tori, will have to stay with their two sets of grandparents in the little town of Piney Woods, Louisiana.

Even though it might be lonely spending winter break---and Christmas---without her parents, Piper comes up with a surefire way to have fun. She’s going to have four adventures while she’s in Piney Woods.

It turns out that Piper and her family have several adventures together, not counting when they have to trek to Uncle Leo’s house to check their e-mail (why don’t their grandparents have a computer?)

But the biggest adventure of all comes when Piper’s parents arrive home with a surprise . . . and this time, it’s a good one!

*****

“ ‘Zero plus five equals five,’ Sam said.

‘That’s right, Einstein,’ I said.” - Piper Reed, Rodeo Star

In the past week, I've sighted three hummingbirds in our garden. Two of them hardly ever come by, but one female bird has been quite busy in bee balm, lilac, and rosebushes.

I think she must be inspecting possible nest locations. I read in Birds's Nests, by Hal H. Harrison (Houghton Mifflin Company, 1975) that male ruby-throated hummingbirds do not take part in nesting activity, so it would make sense that this female hummingbird is searching for a spot by herself. She's been active in many places around here, I think this must be the case.

I'm very certain that she's not a rufous hummingbird, since she appears to have no spots on her chest, and the other birds I've seen her with have identical green coats. (Male rufous hummingbirds have reddish-brownish coats.)
I took some pictures yesterday of a few swallowtail butterflies. They were flying near some lilac bushes, and I managed to get a few decent photos . . . I discovered later that my favorite picture was out of focus!







Early summer is always a beautiful time of year, and some of the prettiest things to see are nature's cute creatures. Here are some attractions I've been seeing lately:

  • Swallowtail butterflies
  • Dragonflies
  • Bumblebees and honey bees
  • Baby red squirrels
  • Whitetail deer
  • Birds, including
    • sparrows
    • red-winged blackbirds
    • robins
    • bluebirds
    • goldfinch
    • osprey
    • bluejays
    • vultures
    • eagles
I also saw a large pink-and-white spider this morning . . . but it wasn't exactly a "cute creature." :-)



There’s a page on this blog called “Farm Girl Rosie’s Favorite Books” and it lists my top ten favorite novels ever. They are Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery, Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild, The Family at Caldicott Place by Noel Streatfeild, Friendly Gables by Hilda van Stockum, From Anna by Jean Little, Gemma and Sisters by Noel Streatfeild, Hitty: Her First Hundred Years by Rachel Field, Jill’s Story by Jean Fielder, Ramona Forever by Beverly Cleary, and What Katy Did at School by Susan Coolidge.

But there are several other books that were right out of my top ten, and I decided to list them here. Enjoy!

1. Patty Fairfield by Carolyn Wells

Patty Fairfield, age fourteen, visits her four aunts in turn to see how she wants to run her own home someday---with some funny results.


At first, Katie John Tucker doesn’t want to live in a boring little town in Missouri, but she changes her mind by the end of the summer because of some highly interesting adventures that she gets into!

3. Rebecca and Ana by Jacqueline Dembar Greene

Rebecca Rubin’s cousin, Ana, has just arrived from Russia to live in New York City! Rebecca is excited to begin with, but soon she begins to wonder how to cope with the change.

4. Dancing Shoes by Noel Streatfeild

Rachel and her sister Hilary are sent to their Aunt Cora, who is a renowned dancing teacher. Immediately, problems arise when the girls can’t get along with spoiled cousin Dulcie.

5. The Cricket in Times Square by George Selden

Through a series of wild circumstances, a cricket named Chester ends up in a bustling New York subway station. He’s not sure how to ever get back to Connecticut, until new friends help him out.

6. Theater Shoes by Noel Streatfeild

Sorrel, Mark, and Holly Forbes are siblings who are uprooted to a new home with their actress grandmother. After the eccentric lady decides the children must learn to act as well, they find it difficult to adjust to their amazing new lifestyle.




One of my all-time favorite series of books is The Saddle Club, a collection of novels chronicling the adventures of a trio of best friends: Carole, Stevie, and Lisa. They all love horses, and decide to form a club that honors this love.

There are 101 books in this series (wow!) and 7 Super Editions (which are longer than an average Saddle Club book). The more I read them, the more I appreciate how well-written they are.

Here are some brief reviews on my three favorite books:

TITLE: #1, Horse Crazy

AUTHOR: Bonnie Bryant

NUMBER OF PAGES: 135

YEAR PUBLISHED: 1988

PLOTLINE: Lisa Atwood is a new rider at Pine Hollow Stables. She doesn’t know anyone there, and honestly, she doesn’t want to learn how to ride. But Lisa does want to make friends with Carole Hanson, a no-nonsense girl who loves horses. There’s only one problem: Carole is friends with Stevie Lake, who pulled a dangerous trick on Lisa at her first riding lesson. Maybe the answer is to avoid them both, and start hanging out with the rich Veronica diAngelo . . .

*****
TITLE: #3, Horse Sense

AUTHOR: Bonnie Bryant

NUMBER OF PAGES: 135

YEAR PUBLISHED: 1989

PLOTLINE: Carole, Stevie, and Lisa have only been friends for a little while, and their club, The Saddle Club, is still a very small organization. That’s when Lisa gets the idea to change it into a big club, with rules and a constitution and everything. But Stevie and Carole seem to be ignoring her, because they have projects of their own. Lisa gets upset, and decides to hold meetings without her friends. Could this be the end of The Saddle Club---when it’s hardly even the beginning?

*****

TITLE: #101, Best Friends

AUTHOR: Bonnie Bryant

NUMBER OF PAGES: 149

YEAR PUBLISHED: 2001

PLOTLINE: The Saddle Club is busy preparing for the upcoming horse show in South Carolina, and it’s also very close to Christmas. Carole, Stevie, and Lisa have enough trouble getting money for Christmas presents, but how can they all pay for the horse show entry fee, too? None of the girls wants to let each other know about the situation, but it’s hard to keep it a secret, especially when Stevie needs new riding boots, Carole needs a new halter for her horse, and Lisa’s parents are struggling to pay bills. Can the girls help each other in time? Or is it too late?

*****

These are the three best books in the entire series, in my opinion. Bonnie Bryant is an excellent writer, and they’re great stories.

The Saddle Club was also made into a television series, and Seasons 1 and 2 are on DVD available from http://www.amazon.com./ I highly enjoy watching them, although they are quite a bit different from the books. I recommend both the novels and the TV episodes!


Lately I've been browsing through our county fair book, trying to decide what to enter this year. These are some of the things I'm thinking about entering:

1. A poem about horses
2. Two red peppers
3. Two green peppers
4. Cut daisies
5. A poster on wildflowers
6. A yarn craft
7. A pencil sketch
8. A felt tip drawing
9. A book review
10. A poster on my top ten favorite books

Hopefully I'll be able to put a few more ribbons into my scrapbook!




TITLE: The Pleasures of Staying in Touch

AUTHOR: Jennifer Williams

COPYRIGHT: 1998

ORIGINAL PUBLISHER: Hearst Communications, Inc.

NUMBER OF PAGES: 176

This is a lovely book that really makes you want to write letters! I’ve read The Pleasures of Staying in Touch numerous times, and it never grows stale.

Have you ever wanted to know how to respond elegantly to an invitation, or how to properly thank someone for a gift? Search no further for an extremely comprehensive guide to writing. The book also covers which letter-writing materials are best (such as light blue stationery) on certain occasions, and just what to put in letters to relatives.

The Pleasures of Staying in Touch is also sprinkled with quotes from illustrious writers, and has many examples on what some letters should sound like. I absolutely recommend this beautiful book!

*****

“In the end, writing a letter is an adventure to be embarked upon with a happy, expectant heart. It will give your life more joy and meaning than you can imagine. So, go quickly! Write a letter now, even if it’s just a few lines to propose a picnic, relate a dream, or share a sudden thought, joke, inspiration, or memory.” - The Pleasures of Staying in Touch



Awhile back, I wrote a post that said how I'd written 3,003 words on a book project so far. Well, now I've written more, and the count is up to about 6,000 words! I'm very excited about this project and hope it is done soon.





TITLE: The Best Horse

AUTHOR: Elizabeth Van Steenwyk

COPYRIGHT: 1977

ORIGINAL PUBLISHER: Scholastic Inc.

NUMBER OF PAGES: 91

PLOTLINE: Wendy loves horses, and rides them all the time on her mother’s ranch. That’s why she is especially pleased upon receiving the big news: there’s going to be a rodeo in town!

Wendy immediately decides that she’s going to enter the barrel racing event, but her mom won’t let her, and won’t say why. Wendy can’t enter without Mom’s permission, and the rodeo is approaching quickly.

Soon, Wendy gets desperate, and ends up making terrible mistakes that she ordinarily would never have made. If only she could understand why Mom won’t let her become a barrel racer . . .

*****

“ ‘Oh,’ {Wendy} began. ‘I’ve been saving my allowance and most of my Christmas money that Aunt Sally sent me.’

{Wendy} hoped that Mom wouldn’t do any sudden calculations about money she’d blown at the 4-H fair last spring, or at the Sunday School picnic game booths on Memorial Day.” - The Best Horse




TITLE: The Stolen Sapphire

AUTHOR: Sarah Masters Buckey

COPYRIGHT: 2006

ORIGINAL PUBLISHER: American Girl Publishing, Inc.

NUMBER OF PAGES: 171

PLOTLINE: Eleven-year-old Samantha Parkington and her sister Nellie are sailing to Europe on the R.M.S. Queen Caroline. Samantha soon finds out that an extremely valuable sapphire is being taken to Europe by the professor who located it in South America.

One night shortly after Samantha and Nellie board the ship, the sapphire goes missing. Anyone could have taken it---but who would have done such a terrible thing?

The two girls have their own ideas about who stole the sapphire, but they need proof. And how do they get proof when they’re arriving in Europe soon and there are no clues available?

*****

Jack looked at her skepticaly. ‘I considered that theory,’ he admitted. ‘I could just see the headlines: ‘MONKEY STEALS BLUE STAR SAPPHIRE!’ ’ He sighed. ‘It would’ve been a great story.’

‘But it’s possible!’ protested Samantha.

‘In a dime-store novel, maybe,’ allowed Jack.” - The Stolen Sapphire




Lately I’ve been reading a book called A Guide to Enjoying Wildflowers by Donald and Lillian Stokes (Little, Brown & Company, 1985). It’s a very interesting and highly informative book about wildflowers. The guide covers how different flower varieties came to North America, why flowers have certain names, where to locate some wildflowers, and more.

These are five entertaining facts I’ve learned from the book:

1. Daisies were originally from Asia.

2. Black-Eyed Susan flowers have rough stems to keep the plant moist.

3. Skunk cabbage is only found near streams.

4. Dandelions do not fully open until 8:00 AM.

5. In the Middle Ages, the Iris was a symbol of French royalty.

I can’t wait until the first flowers around here start blooming!



Ta da!

This is a little pink bookmark I made this afternoon . . . I thought it turned out looking very cute.



TITLE: The Painted Garden

(published in the United States as Movie Shoes)

AUTHOR: Noel Streatfeild

COPYRIGHT: 1949

ORIGINAL PUBLISHER: William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd.

NUMBER OF PAGES: 320

PLOTLINE: Ten-year-old Jane Winter is upset when her parents inform her that their family is temporarily moving. They’re going to live for six months in California with Aunt Cora, whom Jane and her siblings don’t even remember.

Jane has always lived in the shadow of her sister, Rachel, and her brother, Tim. Everyone thinks Rachel’s got a successful dancing career ahead of her, and everyone thinks Tim plays the piano extremely well. Jane knows that she’s considered by people to be the untalented one in her family, and also knows that the trip to California won’t change anything about it.

Then something does change. Jane and her family are very surprised when she’s offered the leading role in a movie version of The Secret Garden. This is a big opportunity for Jane: she’ll finally get to be important. Now the tables are turned, and it’s Rachel who’s jealous of Jane.

But Jane isn’t sure she can handle such a large responsibility, and Rachel’s upset because nothing nice is happening to her. Will they ever be happy in California?

I just finished reading this book last night and it’s wonderful. It has many interesting characters, and is very well written.
*****

“ ‘Has this aunt you’re staying with got a piano?’

Tim thought that a stupid question.

‘A piano! Every house has a piano.’

‘On the contrary, very few houses have pianos.’ ” - The Painted Garden











TITLE: Piper Reed, Campfire Girl

AUTHOR: Kimberly Willis Holt

COPYRIGHT: 2010

ORIGINAL PUBLISHER: Henry Holt and Company, LLC

NUMBER OF PAGES: 148

PLOTLINE: Piper Reed is excited about Halloween this year. Possibly more excited than she’s ever been before. That’s why she’s disappointed when her dad tells her that their family is going camping---on Halloween!

Even though she tries to convince her parents to postpone the camping trip, they’re off in their camper on October thirty-first. Piper’s friends, Nicole and Michael, are also coming, which makes it a little better. Then Piper finds out that Stanley, a new boy in her class, has been invited, too. Stanley is the most annoying person she’s ever met, because he talks so much!

Things keep going wrong after they reach the campsite. Piper gets poison ivy, discovers she doesn’t like fishing, and then her dog, Bruna, goes missing. Can she still have a good Halloween in spite of so many problems?

The next book in the series, Piper Reed, Rodeo Star is now available for pre-order from http://www.amazon.com/

*****

“{Tori} turned around and rolled her eyes. ‘Piper, Halloween is for little kids. I’m almost thirteen. I don’t do dress up.’

‘You mean you have to stop having fun when you’re a teenager?’ I was sure glad I was in fifth grade. That meant I still had a few good years left.” - Piper Reed, Campfire Girl



Here's what I'm going to do this weekend:



• Read The Painted Garden (this is a looong book!)

• Watch a movie and lots of TV

• Write on my most recent writing projects and create a few poems

• Play Yahtzee (and roll one!)

• Knit a stuffed animal-sized blanket

• Dust the family room (I love to dust!)

• Watch old home videos

• Hug my pony, Ruby : - )




TITLE: Piper Reed, Party Planner

(originally titled Piper Reed Gets a Job)

AUTHOR: Kimberly Willis Holt

COPYRIGHT: 2009

ORIGINAL PUBLISHER: Henry Holt and Company, LLC

NUMBER OF PAGES: 149

PLOTLINE: Piper Reed wants to get a job, so she can buy a clubhouse for the club she started. She decides to become a birthday party planner, which ought to be a really fun job.

But it’s not as easy as it looks. Her first customer, almost-three-year-old Brady, expects a lot more of Piper than she can handle. But Piper’s determined to fulfill her promise to plan a good party, so she gets her friends to help her.

As the birthday draws near, Piper tries to make sure everything’s set, but she has several dilemmas. She’s supposed to illustrate her little sister’s book, babysit the triplets that her older sister doesn't want to sit for, and write a school paper about someone she’s never heard of before.

Can Piper still plan a good birthday party despite so many problems?

*****

“ ‘Your deadline is September 12,’ Sam told me,

‘That’s three days before Brady’s birthday party!’

‘And two days before my book signing.’

‘Where are you going to do a book signing?’

Sam rolled her eyes as if she couldn’t believe I wouldn’t know. ‘At a bookstore.’

I didn’t have anything to worry about. No bookstore would allow a six-year-old to sell books, even if she was a prodigy.” - Piper Reed, Party Planner









































I can't believe I didn't write a single post all weekend . . . oops. I was doing lots of other things, like reading more of The Painted Garden, watching a movie, addressing invitations to a wedding, and playing Rummikub and Yahtzee.

Here's some news for book lovers: Three brand-new American Girl mysteries are now available for pre-order on http://www.amazon.com/. They are called The Clue in the Castle Tower, A Bundle of Trouble, and The Silver Guitar. I'm looking forward to reading them!

The picture above is one I took last spring . . . hopefully we'll be seeing more of this soon!


TITLE: Piper Reed, Clubhouse Queen

(originally titled Piper Reed, the Great Gypsy)

AUTHOR: Kimberly Willis Holt

COPYRIGHT: 2008

ORIGINAL PUBLISHER: Henry Holt and Company, LLC

NUMBER OF PAGES: 152

PLOTLINE: Piper Reed comes up with the best idea she’s ever had: her club will have a pet show in July. She plans to teach her dog, Bruna, some amazing tricks and win first prize.

But Bruna is more than a little reluctant to learn new tricks. As a matter of fact, she won’t perform even the simplest trick unless Piper’s two-year-old neighbor, Brady, tells her to.

Piper doesn’t think she can win first place now, but she really wants to do something that will make her dad proud when he comes back from Navy ship duty. And how can she devote extra time to teaching Bruna tricks when her teacher assigned her eight books to read during the summer?

*****

“Sam surprised me and said, ‘Yeah, let’s get the saddest {Christmas} tree and make it happy.’

‘A Charlie Brown tree,’ I said.

Mom eased down the trunk of the pretty tree. ‘That would be different.’ ” - Piper Reed, Clubhouse Queen