Previous month:
December 2012
Next month:
February 2013

January 2013

Cat on a Cool, Wood Beam ...

(Too bad it's not Wordless Wednesday ...)

Ollie on beam 2

So Ollie took it upon himself to scale the ceiling beams this morning, and see what the skylights are all about ...

A fun little project for 5 a.m.

Ollie on beam 3

Crazy cat.

Fyi, he made it down fine - jumped to the mantel first, then the floor from there. After walking the beam back and forth a few times and mewing at me pathetically ...

(And yes, I took the pictures before figuring out how to get him down.)

Meanwhile, Archie stood below watching, positively green with envy: Why hadn't he thought of that first?

Quite a start to my day ~ woke me up better than a 2nd cup of coffee!

Have a great Thursday, my friends ...


Organizing the Nest Survey, Part 10 ~ Correspondence


Happy Wednesday, my friends ~ hope your week's going well!

So at last we have my final "organizing" survey, and my subject today is correspondence ~ written communication with friends, family and acquaintances through both traditional and more newfangled methods. :)

So without further ado, here are my questions!

1. Where do you keep your incoming/outgoing mail?

2. Where/how do you store your address book?

3. Where do you store your "mail" materials? (Greeting cards, note paper & envelopes, stamps, etc.)

4. Do you still hand write letters and snail mail greeting cards or do you primarily utilize e-mail (or social media) for these things?

5. Do you schedule time for keeping up with correspondence?


Now if you'd like to revisit previous survey comments (to read through or add your own), please click on the following links:

1. to-do lists (daily and someday)

2. family food

3. calendars

4. file folders and paper management

5. family finances

6. homeschooling

7. seasonal planning

8. arts, crafts & hobbies

9. reading materials

(Remember - each time you comment your name is entered in the contest!

Friday morning I'll go through every survey post, and jot down the name attached to each comment. ALL those names will be thrown into "a virtual hat" from which two lucky ladies will win one of these:

Where women create bookBook of Organization

I'll announce the winning names on Friday, roundabouts noontime. :)


So my thanks again to each reader who has helped me out with this project. I'm thrilled the survey has been fun for so many of you, too ... sharing ideas is really one of the best things to come out of the blogging phenomenon, in my humble opinion.

Have a good day, everyone ... and I'll see you back here again soon!


 What a wonderful thing is the mail, capable of conveying across continents a warm human hand-clasp.

~ Author Unknown

Organizing the Nest Survey, Part 9 ~ Reading Materials


Just a couple more posts and our survey will be done!

(Though feel free to leave me suggestions for further survey subjects - we could always continue after the giveaway has wrapped.)

Ok, so! Today's survey focuses on reading materials: personal reading, library loans, kids' books, school books, blogs & websites, newspapers, magazines, etc.


1. What kinds of materials do you read regularly, and how do you read them - on paper or electronically? Via purchase or loan?

2. How do you organize/store your personal reading *and* how do you make time for personal reading?

3. How do you organize/store your kids' books *and* how do you encourage reading in your home?

4. What are you reading today? :)


Now I absolutely love to read, but the truth is, I don't read nearly as much as I'd like to. I spend a lot of my reading time on newspapers, magazines and kids' books, and though I use the library faithfully, I often return items before making use of them. One of my favorite spots in our home is my "mama chair" in the learning room beside which sits my "beloved" reading basket. In this basket I store all my current reading materials - magazines, newspapers, catalogs, and usually one select novel. (Currently I'm reading Inkheart for Crackerjack's book group.)

I'd love to hear about your reading habits so please leave a comment if you have time. :) 

And if you'd like to revisit previous survey comments (to read through or add your own), please click on the following links:

1. to-do lists (daily and someday)

2. family food

3. calendars

4. file folders and paper management

5. family finances

6. homeschooling

7. seasonal planning

8. arts, crafts & hobbies

(Remember - each time you comment your name is entered in the contest!)


Well my friends, thanks so much for stopping by today and have yourselves a good one! A snowy morning here in New England ... a great day for curling up with a cup of tea ... and a good book!


 "The love of learning, the sequestered nooks, and all the sweet serenity of books."


Masterpiece Monday: Downton Abbey Season 3, Episode 4

Tuesday update: I have now watched the episode and my "rantish" thoughts are in the comments box below. I am still in shock ... and my nose is still stuffed up!

Da 3
Good Monday morning, my friends ...

Now, I have not yet had a chance to watch last night's show and from the buzz around the internet this morning, it seems to have been quite an emotional episode. I don't want to watch it on my own (like I did last week!), so Bill and I will be catching up tonight ...

In the meantime, please feel free to leave your thoughts on last night's episode in the comments below and I will catch up with you all tomorrow morning. :)

(And fyi, a "survey post" will be up in a bit ...)

Blessings to you all on this brisk winter's day!


Organizing the Nest Survey, Part 8 ~ Arts, Crafts & Hobbies


Happy Monday, everyone!

Today's survey focuses on the time, space and materials involved in arts, crafts and hobbies. Speaking in FlyLady terms, this is another "hotspot" for me. I love collecting (Bill might say amassing) craft supplies of all kinds, but I'm not always careful with how I store them ...

And finding time to fit crafting into an already pretty full schedule is no easy task either. When the boys were little we crafted regularly as part of our homeschooing week, but now that they're older it's not as big a part of our curriculum. I love to dabble in crafts and Earlybird really loves art projects - the messier the better! - and I suspect with the new baby coming, I'll l be back on the "kiddie craft wagon" before long. :) So I'm itching to get my supplies in order and figure out an easy (easier?) way to fit crafting - creative expression - into our week.

So, my questions for you all today are as follows ...

1. What kinds of arts/crafts/hobbies are part of your life?

2. Where and how do you store crafting supplies?

3. Time-wise, how do you fit crafting into your life? (On your own or with kids?)


Now if you'd like to revisit previous survey comments (to read through or add your own), please click on the following links:

1. to-do lists (daily and someday)

2. family food

3. calendars

4. file folders and paper management

5. family finances

6. homeschooling

7. seasonal planning

(Remember - each time you comment your name is entered in the contest!)


Thanks so much for taking the time to participate in my survey! I'll have a few more posts this week and then I'll announce the TWO winners on Friday. :)

Have a great Monday my friends ... see you here again sometime soon!


p.s. That crockpot cake I made yesterday came out great! Even after Earlybird unplugged the crockpot for an undetermined length of time ... it recovered beautifully! :)

Organizing the Nest Survey, Part 7 ~ Seasonal Planning


Well, it's the weekend at last ... and I hope it brings you a little rest and relaxation. :) Too often we try to squeeze in all kinds of activity over the weekend - the should do's and could do's - and find ourselves anything but refreshed come Monday morning ...

But that's a topic for a future post!

Getting back to our survey, today's question is about seasonal planning, which as many of you know is a bit of an obsession of mine! And by "seasonal planning" what I mean is thinking ahead about activities and celebrations, observances and special foods ... those experiences that connect our family with the season at hand. Familiar traditions belonging to either nature or faith, or maybe both.


1. Do you plan ahead for seasonal fun and tradition?

2. Where do you write down these ideas?

3. Where/how do you store resources for seasonal planning (ideas, print-outs, magazine clippings, craft & baking items, etc.)?

4. What are some of your favorite seasonal planning resources?

5. What season do you look forward to most?


I'm looking forward to hearing your responses! When looking for ways to enhance our yearly rhythm, I find planning ahead to be most invaluable. I can get a little lost in it, actually. ;) Holidays are wonderful, but often it's the "every days and little ways" that are best of all ... when we weave small yet meaningful moments into our family year, it brings such joy and makes the very best kind of memories.


Now if you'd like to revisit previous survey comments (to read through or add your own), please click on the following links:

1. to-do lists (daily and someday)

2. family food

3. calendars

4. file folders and paper management

5. family finances

6. homeschooling

(Remember - each time you comment your name is entered in the contest!)


My friends, I hope you enjoy the rest of your weekend. Thanks so much for stopping by ... I'll see you here again very soon!


p.s. I thought I shoud mention, tomorrow is National Chocolate Cake Day! It also happens to be Bill's mom's birthday ... and even though we can't be together tomorrow, we'll bake a chocolate cake in her honor. A crockpot cake perhaps, with fresh whipped cream on top ... Perfect for a cold winter Sunday. :)

Friday (Frigid) Photo

Frosty sunrise 3

Sunrise through a frosty bedroom window ... another cold day upon us!

Taking a breather from our daily survey posts ~ stopping in to say hello and check in ~ and wish you all a happy weekend!

Any special plans for this bitter winter's day?

It's "Burns Night" in the UK (and elsewhere), a time to toast the beloved Scottish poet, Robert Burns. I'm American of course, but I've got a good deal of Scottish in me, and I love to share that part of my heritage with my boys . My beautiful grandmother would always make sure people knew she was Scotch-Irish when discussing her ancestry - her mother, my great-grandmother, was from Scotland, in fact. :)

Now I don't go so far as to make haggis or even neeps and tatties, but I can make a fairly nice shortbread ...

Shortbread 1

In fact, Jamie Oliver has a lovely sounding recipe here for a "Cranachan Sundae" which I may have to try. It involves berries, cream, oats, honey, shortbread and a splash of whiskey. All marvelous things on their own - all the better together - and all things we just happen to have on hand ...


So I'll be putting myriad male hands to work on that dessert (following a typical American supper - sloppy joes, waffle fries and corn) because it's a few days more "rest" for me.

And while I rest (by the fireplace, I might add), I'm knitting and sipping cup after cup of warm earl grey tea (decaf, natch) ... I'm also catching up with all your wonderful comments, working through my reading basket and writing out a layette list for the wee babe ...

And I'm focusing on all the blessings in my life ... the baby's doing great and I'm very fortunate to be able to relax, surrounded by the comforts of home and the support of my family. "Going slow" and "letting go" can be hard for me, but like any mother, my children come first - and right now this little one needs for me to go slow. So I'm enjoying these quiet, homebound days ...

Quiet being a relative term in a family of three (soon-to-be-four) boys!


So I wish you all a bonny day, and I thank you for stopping by. Take care of yourselves and your loved ones, and I will see you here again very soon!

O my Luve's like a red, red rose,
That's newly sprung in June:
O my Luve's like the melodie,
That's sweetly play'd in tune.

(Robert Burns)


Organizing the Nest Survey, Part 6 ~ Home Learning (& an Internet Query)


Hello there everyone, and Happy Thursday!

So let's talk about home learning, a subject near and dear to my heart - *raises hand* - 12-year veteran right here! There's a lot to manage when you add home education to your family's already full plate - so naturally, there's a lot to discuss when it comes to organizing it all - but I tried to keep my questions simple. ;)

And so as not to leave anybody out, I have an "internet" question at the end of the post that I've been meaning to ask for a while, so if you'd like to leave a comment for the giveaway, please feel free to check that out ...

So my "organizing" questions for today are as follows ...

1. Do you work with a formal lesson plan each week?

2. (And if so) where do you write down/keep these lesson plans?

3. How do you keep your kids on task/aware of their responsibilities?

4. Do you have a separate learning room or space?

5. How do you keep "school stuff" in order? What do you find hardest to organize?

6. Do you find it a challenge to balance time spent outside the home (field trips, get-togethers, clubs, etc.) with time spent on academics at home?


And, my question for those who don't have homeschooling comments to share, is about two online activities - Pinterest and Instagram. Are you using either of these sites, and how do you use them? I'm somewhat familiar with Pinterest but I really have no idea how Instagram works. It seems as though everyone's using one of these sites these days - or both!

Information, please? :)

Now if you'd like to revisit previous survey comments (to read through or add your own), please click on the following links:

1. to-do lists (daily and someday)

2. family food

3. calendars

4. file folders and paper management

5. family finances

(Remember - each time you comment your name is entered in the contest!)


Well my friends, it is BEYOND frigid here in New England today - a high of 19 today, I think? We'll be in the deep freeze for some time, but there is relief in sight for next week. Rain, too - but I'll take it if it means temps in the 40s! I'm getting itchy for spring which is kind of dangerous when it's still only January! As for me and the babe, I'm still taking it easy here, and things have quieted down nicely. Well, except for the little boy himself who is VERY active inside his mama! He's now moving around so vigorously that others can feel him from the outside, and you can even SEE him moving my tummy around. (Sorry if that's TMI, lol!) It's a miracle, honestly - each day I give thanks that we have been blessed this way once again. Late May seems way off and yet, things seem to be moving along pretty quickly!

 Friends, please have yourselves a nice Thursday ... I'll see you here again very soon!


ETA - It seems some folks are having trouble leaving comments, and I have no idea what's up with Typepad, but I appreciate all the more the time and effort involved in leaving your thoughts! No survey post tomorrow - look for one over the weekend! :)

Organizing the Nest Survey, Part 5 ~ Family Finances & Budgeting


Good morning, my friends ... and so we continue! :)

Today I'd like to focus on household finances ... an extremely important area of family life to keep organized! So I have quite a list of questions for you this morning ...

1. Where/how do you store incoming bills?

2. Where/how do you store receipts and statements?

3. Do you have a pre-determined household budget (weekly or otherwise)? Where do you write it down? How often do you refer to it?

4. Where do you keep financial goals and/or money-saving ideas?

5. Do you and your spouse talk about finances on a regular basis?

6. Any favorite financial books/resources to recommend?


Once again (and I know I sound like a broken record!) I want to thank everyone who has been participating in this survey. I have found your comments so interesting and helpful! I've taken to printing them out so I can read them a little more closely - reading glasses on, and hi-lghter in hand!

If you'd like to revisit previous survey comments (to read through or add your own), please click on the following links:

1. to-do lists (daily and someday)

2. family food

3. calendars

4. file folders and paper management

(Remember - each time you comment your name is entered in the contest!)


Now just to clarify, I'm not doing this survey for any other reason than to encourage the sharing of ideas between like-minded friends. (That and I'm kind of nosy when it comes to these things.) I'm not collecting data for a book on organizing ... in fact, looking around my house at the moment, that would seem like a rather humorous idea. ;)

But while I have you, I would like to mention a little book I just ordered for myself after seeing an excerpt in Parents magazine. The book is called, Family Inc.: Office-Inspired Solutions to Reduce the Chaos in Your Home (And Save Your Sanity!), and though I've only just started reading, I'm really enjoying it so far! The book revolves around a couple who found themselves quite disorganized and stressed out until they started meeting weekly to talk about family needs and responsibilities. They were both working outside the home at the time, and employed some of the strategies they used to keep on top of things professionally, in their household. I will report in again on this book once I've read the whole thing! :)

Well, until next time my friends, thanks so much for stopping by. Enjoy your day, and I will see you all again sometime soon!


Organizing the Nest Survey, Part 4 ~ File Folders & Paper Management


Good morning, my friends! Hope your week's off to a great start. :)

I must thank you all again for the wonderful comments you've been leaving throughout this survey. I'm just relishing each one, and I truly appreciate the time you've taken to leave such thoughtful and thorough responses. My plan is to follow up this survey with a post (or more likely, posts) detailing my own answers to all these questions - and while that sounds rather ambitious at the moment, lol, that's my intention! I'll need some time to digest (and tweak!) before I start posting my thoughts, but I will definitely be addressing all these topics from my own perspective. :)

(Fyi, upcoming survey topics include family finances, home education, seasonal planning (faith & nature), arts/crafts & hobbies, reading materials, correspondence, domestic storage: clothes/toys/etc.)

Ok, then! Our 4th organizational topic is file folders - those plain or colored (or even patterned) manila tabbed folders that we use in a filing cabinet (or basket, bin, drawer). These basic office supplies have been around for ages for good reason - they're practical, flexible and really quite indispensible!

I'm quite a file folder fan as you can tell. :)

I'm also touching upon paper management - how do you tame the paper tiger in your household?

So, I have 4 questions for you today:  

1. Do you use file folders for organizing?

2. Where/how do you store them?

3. Where do you keep the "paper materials" you need to handle in a given week?

(Ex. info for activities, recipes to try, permission slips, things to act on/follow up on/read?)

4. Where do you keep "paper materials" you don't need on a regular basis?

(E.g. warranties, insurance matters, health records, sports & clubs info, education plans, etc.?)


Now, I've blogged A LOT about how I use file folders (as part of my file crate system), but I also use them for our general household files and temporary recipe storage. I absolutely adore file folders! And if the number of "hits" my file folder posts get is any indication, so do a lot of you! ;)

Currently I'm fine-tuning how I use my file folders as part of my overall planning. I just love my weekly folder and its contents and its planning page - it really helps me focus on this ONE WEEK, which is really the way I regard our home and educational life: What is THIS WEEK all about?

(For a quick look at how I set up my "FCS" folders and what I keep inside them, please this post and its follow-up.)

And to comment on -  or read comments on - the previous topics in this series, please click on the following links:

1. to-do lists (daily and someday)

2. family food

3. calendars

(Remember - each time you comment your name is entered in the contest!)


Well, I hope to hear from you! Goodness knows I do love me some file folder talk!

Have a great day, everyone! See you here again sometime soon ...

Masterpiece Monday: Downton Abbey Season 3, Episode 3

Da 3

Good Monday morning, my friends!

Now, I must confess, I did a rather shameful thing ... I watched the latest episode of Downton without my husband! While Bill slept on early this morning (after making me coffee, and I do mean very early this morning, EB had us up at 4:00!) I found the episode online. Our plan was to catch up tonight because thanks - or really, no thanks - to the Pats game last night we skipped Downton. But when I realized I could watch it this morning on my laptop, I just could not resist! (Of course I will certainly watch it again happily tonight.)

It's the first time I've watched an episode on my laptop, rather than the tv, and I was quite surprised to find the small screen rather delightful! If only because the details of each scene were so vivid and close! I wanted to freeze the frames to closely inspect Isobel's front foyer, Mary's drawing room, Matthew's breakfast setting and even Daisy's pantry. :)

But enough of my confessions, let's get on with the conversation!

Lady Edith

Hooray for Edith! I love that she's found something to do! I think there will be very ineteresting opportunities ahead if she decides (and is not talked out of) this journalistic path. I love that Grandmama told her to stop whining! And I hated that Papa belittled her endeavor (and her voice). I think it will be terrific for her to find success in an area that no other Grantham - particularly her sisters - has before.

Mr. and Mrs. Bates

A happy resolution to a sad and frustrating situation. Their communication was the one thing they had getting them through this awful ordeal. To take that away from them - it was injuring them both so badly. I am so eager for this storyline to move forward - I really am anxious to see the mystery of Vera Bates unraveled. Of course, if and when Bates is freed, where will he go? Will he return to Downton? Will there be a place for him? But I suppose that's getting ahead of ourselves ... 

Mr. And Mrs. Branson

Well this is a rather ugly situation, isn't it? I really fear the outcome of this mess. Branson is so steadfast in his commitment to Ireland, I worry it will outweigh his responsibility to his wife and child. Sybil has had a taste of the danger involved in Branson's life and her instincts are to protect their child above all. How can we blame her for that? I fear Tom might, though. But what on earth does he expect her to do? Would he really go back to Ireland knowing he'd be arrested on the spot? What would that mean for his family? Nevermind what it would mean for the Granthams, I mean, how would Sybil cope with that loss? I'm nervous to see how things unfold between this couple.

Mr. And Mrs. Crawley

Tensions continue to simmer between Mary and Matthew. What was that brief conversation in the new drawing room (aka future nursery) hinting at? Mary had been to the doctor about hay fever? Hmmm ... I'm not buying that. And the way she shrugged off the (sweet, romantic) nursery comment Matthew made? Something tells me they are not on the same page when it comes to babies. (ETA - or maybe something's up with her cycles? Perhaps she'll have trouble conceiving?)

And then we have Matthew's inspection - and critique - of Downton's management. He's a businessman after all, and where he sees disorder he wants to put things right. But as Lady Violet wisely warns, this will put a lot of noses out of joint. (Mary's is already a bit bent, and Robert wanted to hear none of that talk.) Matthew as a character can be confusing I think, and I also think he's not fully invested in his role in the family. He has Mary as he wished, but I'm not sure he wanted all that came with her. On the one hand Matthew insists (as he did to Carson) that he's not to be involved in the running of Downton - he's just an investor - but on the other hand he's clearly going to advocate (push for?) change. Even if Robert seems loathe to hear it ...

Lord Grantham

Speaking of Robert, in addition to his stubborn addiction to "the old ways," what was up with that anti-Catholic sentiment? That seemed out of left field, and I wonder if it's some foreshadowing perhaps. He's really not my favorite character these days!


Another sad storyline! My heart goes out to this character and the life she's found herself trapped in. The scene when she said goodbye to her tiny son was a very tough scene to watch - especially for someone pregnant with her fourth son! I found myself torn between her choices. If I thought she had no hope of or help for a better life, I could see her sending her son to live with his grandparents - but I wish she would have accepted the money and kept her son. As did Mrs. Crawley whose heart is in the right place, but perhaps is still a bit fuzzy on the realities of the poor. As Ethel pointed out, Mrs. Crawley's son went to the top schools - in other words, who was she to press such advice? Of course, Ethel and Isobel are and were in completely different walks of life and so their choices would be limited by class in one way or another. The scenes from next week suggest Ethel goes to work for Mrs. Crawley - I wonder how that will work out?

The New Footman

Not sure what to make of him yet! He's good looking yes, and amiable, but is he a bit full of himself perhaps? I guess we'll have to watch and see. Thomas's smarmy attentions made me cringe - I really hope nothing comes of that! Not so much because Thomas is gay but more because of how slimy he is. You can see he's taken quite a shine to this new footman (for professional and personal reasons) and I really don't want to see him play that up. But from the previews it looks like Jimmy  - not James ;) - is put off by Thomas and his attentions, and he confides so in O'Brien ... who could do so much with that kind of information.

The New Kitchen Maid

Poor Daisy! The girl just cannot catch a break! I love her relationship with William's father - he's so kind and paternal. And I just wanted to slap Alfred because he is so blind to the situation! And then he's flirting with the new maid right in front of Daisy who, he should have realized, has been opening up to him! That's probably a lot to ask of a young man at that time though, lol! The new maid - Ivy? - seems nice so far. I wonder how big a character she'll be?


Ok, well, I've probably forgotten to mention a bunch of important points, but I want to get this post up as soon as I can so I'll stop here. I'm eager to hear your thoughts my friends, so please leave a comment below if you have the time! And now to wake Bill and confess that I've watched our beloved Downton without him ... wish me luck! ;)

And have a great day!


P.S. A quite humorous and thoughtful recap is here - the paragraph about the prison had me in stitches (and you'll know which line I mean). :)

Organizing the Nest Survey, Part 3 ~ Calendars


Happy Sunday, everyone!

 Continuing with my organization survey, today's topic is calendars... and as my regular readers know, this is a real hot-button topic for me!

Yes indeedy, I'm a bit of a calendar junkie ... forever trying to find (or make) THE perfect calendar. One that looks nice and feels right, and fits every possible need I might have as a woman/wife/mom/homeschooler, etc.!

But of course, this just doesn't exist (perfection that is, there are plenty of calendars out there), and yet - that doesn't stop me from searching! And it doesn't stop me from showing you all what new calendar system/style/brand I'm trying out next ...

Simply put, calendars make me crazy - but mostly in a good way. ;)

So! Today's survey questions are as follows:

1. How many calendars are you currently using?

2. What kind of calendar(s) do you use?

3. Where do you keep/store/display your calendar?

4. Do you take a calendar with you when you are out and about?


So clearly, we've discussed calendars here on more than one occasion, but I hope you'll still humor me! Also, some of your previous answers have been so wonderfully thorough that you may have answered my calendar questions already. If this is the case, just let me know below - ex. See my "to-do list" comment for calendar details. Today's comment will still count as another entry in the giveaway.


To comment on -  or read comments on - the previous topics in this series, please click on the following links:

1. to-do lists (daily and someday)

2. family food

(Remember - each time you comment your name is entered in the contest!)


Now, I anticipate the next topic in this series will be posted on Tuesday, as I'd like to devote Monday's post to our Downton Abbey chat. :)

So our Sunday evening is quite jam-packed with fun television-viewing - perfect for couch-rest! - the AFC Championship game at 6:30, Once Upon a Time at 8, and of course, Downton at 9. A power nap is on my afternoon calendar, that's for sure. :)


Have a great Sunday my friends, and ...


Organizing the Nest Survey, Part 2: Food for the Family


He is happiest, be he king or peasant, who finds peace in his home.

~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


First of all, I cannot thank you all enough for all your survey responses so far!! I have so enjoyed reading through your opinions and ideas about keeping track of all the things that need doing for our families. I'm excited to share the rest of the survey series with you all - this is going to be such fun!

Allrighty then! Today I'd like to talk about managing your family's food, so here are three questions for you:

1. Where do you plan out your family meals?

2. Where do you compose your grocery list?

3. Where do you keep your recipes?


If you have thoughts to share, please leave a comment below, and remember - with each comment your name will be entered in the giveaway (which is described here). If you'd rather not be entered in the contest, please let me know in your comment.

Also, to comment on - and/or read comments on - previous topics in this series, please click on the following the links:

1. to-do lists (daily and someday)


Well my friends, I hope you all have a lovely weekend ... Mine will be a quiet one for sure, as I've been put on "moderate" bed rest to quiet these Braxton-Hicks contractions! Apparently, the more babies you have, the sooner you can feel these harmless, but rather uncomfortable, contractions. I also got very dehydrated and that's probably what kicked them off. But rest assured - I saw the midwife yesterday and all is absolutely fine with the baby - I just need to take it easy for a couple of days. :)

See you all again very soon!


Organizing the Nest Survey, Part 1 ~ Plus 2 Giveaways!


Good Friday morning, my friends! I hope this week's been kind to you. :)

So I've been working on all my planning stuff, trying to pare down the number of "tools" I use to run my life/home/family, etc., and in so doing, I have been questioning just how I keep track of each of those plates I have spinning in the air. 

(I'm sure you know the kind of "plates" I mean: housekeeping, family meals, budgeting, home education, calendar-keeping, faith formation, celebrating seasons, overall health & happiness, ETC.)

So I thought a little research might be helpful - I'm always nosy curious about, and often inspired by, your own thoughts and methods, so I thought I'd turn to my readers!

At first I had this huge post filled with all my questions but I know your time is precious, and I don't want to overwhelm you (or myself!) ... so instead I'll break this all down into a series of 10 or so posts (each post focusing on one of those plates). And at the end of it all, I will enter everyone who commented in a giveaway to win one of two things.

Either ...

Book of Organization

Where Women Create Book of Organization: The Art of Creating Order


Where women create book

Where Women Create: Inspiring Work Spaces of Extraordinary Women

Both of these books are filled with photos of women's studios and workspaces - lots of organizational eye candy! I've had them for some time and would like to pass them on to someone else to enjoy. Each time you comment your name will be entered in the giveaway, and the two winners will be announced on February 1st!

OK, so let's get started! My questions for you today are about writing down "to-do's."

1. Where do you write down what you have to do "today?"

(Example: return a call, make a deposit, pick up dry cleaning)


2. Where do you write down things you have to do "someday?"

(Example - book a trip, call the realtor, get an oil change, research a purchase)

(And how do you manage those lists - how often do you update them?)


Now, have we talked about all this before? Well, yes, I'm sure we have once or twice. ;) But I know many of you are "organization" nuts like me and love to revisit the same issues again (and perhaps again). I think your comments will really help me with my current project and I hope they'll be helpful to others as well ...

So if you have thoughts to share, and the time to share them, please leave a comment below! Thanks so much for your help ~ I really look forward to hearing from you!


Archie & Oliver, January 2013

Kitties january 2013

I took this shot earlier this morning, when the sunlight was flooding the family room. I was actually taking Oliver's picture at first, but true to form, when Archie realized what was going on, he leaped up on the perch. He's never one to be left out. ;)

Archie's on the left, Ollie's on the right ... and they'll be two years old in April!


Have a great Thursday, everyone!


Thoughts on, and from, My Kitchen ...

Happy Wednesday, my friends! What's up in your kitchen this week?

Are you trying a new recipe? Is your sink shiny, a la Flylady? Are you happy with how things are organized?

Well, it's a snowy winter's day here, which is lovely ...

Snowy kitchen day

... and a quiet homey day is just what I need. :)

According to my weekly routine, it's "kitchen day," but friends - my kitchen is in such a state, I can't tell you! I really haven't cleaned it much since Christmas. Or maybe even before that, I'm afraid ... Because first there was morning sickness slowing me down, and then there was the rush of the holidays, and then we got sick ... so I've mostly just been keeping up with the dishes, sweeping the corners, and giving the counters an occasional swipe - just to keep things somewhat sanitary. Clearly then, this room's due for a deep cleaning!

And as if I needed further inspiration, I came across a picture I had taken a few years ago - a snap for a post, I'm sure - and in this particular picture my kitchen is the cleanest it's ever been. It looks so fantastic! I showed it to Bill and the boys and they didn't even recognize it as our kitchen at first!

Clean kitchen picture

So I've posted that picture near my workspace as a reminder of what can be. The kitchen is the heart of our home and when it's looking its best, my "homemaker heart" feels its best. That may sound shmaltzy, but it's true - for me, anyways. And all that open space really makes me want to cook up a storm! Nothing fuels the urge to bake/cook/create like a ready-to-go kitchen ...


Now, I have a couple of cookie recipes to share ...

The first is a recipe I've shared off and on over the years: my favorite (and dare I say, signature) Christmas treats - lemon snowballs. Reader Joanna brought it to my attention that the posted link no longer leads to the original recipe. So I searched through my (seriously disorganized) recipe collection and found the print-out I'd kept. (Good ole paper to the rescue again!)

In case you're interested, here it is ...

Lemon Snowball Cookies

Cookie Dough:

2 sticks butter
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
2 cups flour


1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon Kool-Aid lemonade unsweetened drink mix powder
(Mix these together in a bowl)

Cream butter, sugar and flavorings. Add flour and mix until a dough forms. Roll into 1" balls and bake 1" apart on ungreased cookie sheet at 350 F. for 15-18 minutes. They will not be brown on top. While cookies are warm, toss them in the lemon powdered sugar mixture and put on a plate to cool.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

(My print-out does not say where I got this recipe, but I know I found it somewhere online. Also, when I make these, I roll a few in plain powdered sugar so that Earlybird may indulge if he wishes.)

Snowball cookies

And as I was searching through all those recipes - making plans for a major pruning and sorting - I came across one for lavender tea cookies. Generally speaking, I love the idea of herbal cooking moreso than I do the actual flavor, but I'd like to give this one a try. Because I read somewhere that the expecting Princess Kate has been craving "lavender biscuits" lately ("biscuits" meaning cookies in Britain). As you all know I'm a certified Anglophile as well as a big Princess Kate fan ... and I also happen to have a large lavender patch in my front yard. So yes, I'll be trying these cookies this summer ~ I've even made a note in my summer planning pages. (Had I managed to dry and save those lovely buds last summer I'd have some to try now, but alas, I must wait till my lavender's in season.)

In case you'd like to try this recipe as well, here 'tis!

Lavender Tea Cookies

1 cup unsalted butter

2/3 cup minus 1 tbsp. superfine sugar

1 egg, beaten

1 1/4 cup minus 1 tbsp. self-rising flour

1 tbsp. fresh lavender flowers

 Preheat your oven to 350 F. Cream butter and sugar, add egg and beat well. Stir in flour and flowers. Drop by teaspoonful on a parchment-lined cookie sheet, spacing widely to alow for spread. Bake 15-20 minutes until pale golden and edges tinge brown. They will be soft until cooled on waxed paper. Store in airtight tin.

(From The Summer Book by Susan Branch. I find all those SB cookbooks so charming - I've had my collection for years. )


Speaking of cookbooks, then ~ can you recommend any new/good ones?

I have The Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace on request once again ... Elizabeth Q. first mentioned this book to me some time ago, and today Elizabeth F. reminded me of it! I liked it the first time I got it, but as usually happens with me and library loans ... I only get a chance to skim a book before I have to return it. This time however, I'll make time to get through it.  :)

Also on my hold shelf - The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food from My Frontier and Meat-Free Monday: A Full Menu for Every Monday of the Year. The latter I read about in a magazine this week, and the idea of more meatless days really appeals to me. While the former is chock full of meat recipes, I'm sure - but hey, it's all about balance, isn't it? And finding what works best for my family. We'd never give up meat entirely, but we are trying to cut down on our consumption - for economic, environmental *and* health reasons. Ironically I was told to up my protein intake at my last OB appt., so I'm looking for ways to do this without just adding more meat. I've never been a big meat-eater really - except it seems when I'm pregnant. ;)


OK, one more kitchen topic before I go - how are your coupons working for you?

I myself am giving up on coupons ... for the time being at least. Yes, there, I said it. No more coupons for me. I'm just not finding the time to deal with all the steps involved in successful couponing - clipping, sorting, comparing, matching - and they get to be such a mess ...

So instead I'm concentrating on other methods for keeping grocery costs down ... cooking more from scratch, buying in bulk, meal planning, etc. Perhaps I'll revisit my Money $ Monday posts for more ideas? I'll let you know how it goes. :)


Well my friends, I guess I'd best wrap up this post. Goodness, I can be wordy!

I hope wherever you are - on this earth, in this day - you are feeling healthy, happy and hopeful ...

See you here again very soon!


Masterpiece Monday: Downton Abbey Season 3, Episode 2

Da 3

Good Tuesday morning, my friends!

Sorry about the delay ... all caught up now, and WOW what a show! A lot of developments in episode two, both surprising and not so surprising ...

I mean, we all knew Matthew would save Downton Abbey. For goodness sakes, Highclere Castle (the real-life abbey where the show is filmed) is practically a star in its own right. Not that the downsized "Downton Place" wasn't charming. Like Branson said (or mumbled beneath his breath) most folks would call it a "fairy tale castle." And while I'm sure the family would have adjusted - clearly some better than others - it was the servants I was most worried about. After all, they'd have to pare down their staff and I wondered just who would make the cut. I also worried for Anna because she'd be that much farther away from her Mr. Bates. 

And speaking of Mr. Bates ... good grief I'm a wreck over his ordeal! First off, he's made enemies - just his cellmate? or are there others? - but some quick thinking on his part (and a helpful tip) saved his skin. (What was placed beneath his mattress, anyway? I couldn't tell in that scene.) And from the previews next week it looks like someone might be messing with the mail and interrupting his and Anna's correspondence. But more importantly, I worry about the trouble he might find himself in - more than he has already. He's got quite a short fuse and there's a lot of pressure upon him. Anna's visit to Mrs. Bartlett was mostly unhelpful, as that lady seems convinced Mr. Bates did indeed kill Vera. And she intimated he had been violent before and that Vera had been quite afraid of her husband. I was hoping Mrs. Bartlett might have been in on it (Vera's plan that is) but it seems she was fooled. I hope we all haven't been fooled into being so sure Vera did in fact commit suicide. I don't want to think Mr. Bates is lying about what happened ... and I don't think he would. Not to Anna, anyway. Though he does seem pretty adament she move on with her life. But I think that's more about his fear/belief he will ultimately live out his life in prison. It's a sad, sad situation all around.

And another sad situation ... poor Edith!

Now, I've made no secret of my dislike of Edith's character (distaste is maybe a better word) but I felt SO badly for her last night. And I wanted to SMACK Sir Anthony right in the face! What a spineless, stupid man. I'm not faulting him for having fears about their marriage, but for goodness sakes - to end it all AT THE ALTAR? Nothing could be so cruel. It was such a horrible shock for Edith, but to be honest, I was not all that surprised. (And not just because I got spoiled on the internet yesterday!) Bill even said, in those moments when Edith was arriving and Sir Anthony was waiting at the altar - looking rather ill I might add - that this thing was just not going to happen. You could read it in the way the scene unfolded ... something was clearly going to go amiss ...

Well, good riddance, Sir Anthony, I say. Though I have to wonder if we'll see him again? I'd assume he'd make himself pretty scarce, socially speaking, from here on out. As for Edith's future, I do hope she finds happiness eventually. So much of her identity and esteem is wrapped up in how she compares herself to her sisters. I was glad to see her pull herself out of bed to get on with the day, even if she seemed rather resigned to her role as a "spinster." She does need to be doing something useful, I think. Look how wonderfully she rose to the challenge when Downton was turned into a soldier's rehab. Perhaps Edith will be the example of how women were establishing independence at that time? Not that I wouldn't like to see her happily paired off eventually. (Maybe that "Patrick" character will come back at some point?)

And speaking of independent women, Daisy is cracking me up. I love that she's questioning herself and her situation constantly. First her role in the household (when she went on strike, lol) and now how to speak out a little more. I think she's a bit sweet on Alfred, too - who seems like a nice enough guy if not maybe a little clueless.

The tension - to put it mildly - between Thomas and O'Brien will be very interesting to watch. I can't wait to see how/if she gets back at him! Remember these two snakes in the first season? They were thick as thieves. Now they're mortal enemies with competing interests ... who will strike next, I wonder?

And Isobel Crawley, in light of our recent quiz, has become all the more interesting to me. :) She can be pushy, yes - but I admire her forward thinking and sensible attitude. I like that she has a sense of respect and responsiblity for those "beneath her." What she is doing for those troubled women is wonderful. But what on earth is going on with that former Downton maid? She keeps saying she's not seeking help for herself, but rather, someone else? WHO? Another child? (Didn't her first child get taken on by the deceased father's family? Maybe I'm forgetting my facts ...) I can't wait to see what lies behind that door!

Oh, and Mrs. Hughes ... YAY for Mrs. Hughes! I was almost completely convinced she was going to have cancer. The show can throw its punches, after all. But thank goodness she is all right. I thought Mr. Carson was so cute in his "secretive" concern. Do any of you think there might be -  or could be  - more than friendship between them?

A few final thoughts ...

I thought the clothing was especially beautiful and interesting in episode two. I'd love to have a closer look at those hats and frocks - and thankfully, I have just the book to do just that!

Cora drives me mad sometimes - she's so pouty! But then she's really very gentle and kind-hearted - how she comforted Mrs. Hughes was just lovely. And I like that she kept such a level head about the financial crisis and potential move - yet she still respected the deep sorrow her husband felt over losing his home. She immediately supported her husband with soothing words and a confidence that he perhaps did not deserve. He did make a mess of things, after all, and she could have berated him for it. But that's not the kind of wife she is ... her priority is to support him and his needs.

(Yet it's times like these I still find myself so very mad at Lord Grantham for his discretion with that maid earlier in the series. I really have not felt the same about him since.)

Ok, last thought - the previews for next week. My gosh, the previews! What on earth is going on with Branson and Sybil?! As best Bill and I could tell, it seems Branson must escape Ireland (maybe some fallout from his political involvements) but he leaves Sybil behind. But where is she when she makes that phone call? And was his flight a mutual agreement, or did he - heaven forbid - run off on her? I can't imagine he'd go to Downton Abbey if he did. He had made such strides with the family, too ... I can't think this foible will earn him any points.


Well golly, I've exhausted myself, lol! There was so much in last night's episode, but I think I've touched upon all my points. :) I'm eager to hear what you all thought of the show and the most recent developments! If you have the time, please leave a comment below ...

And have yourself a healthy and happy Tuesday! 



Baby whale romper
First I wanted to let you all know "Masterpiece Monday" (my Downton Abbey post) will be up tomorrow because - as expected -I did not stay awake last night to watch! I slightly spoiled myself online earlier this morning - rats! - but it seems like it was quite a show. I look forward to chatting with you all tomorrow about it!

Second, I just had to show you the baby romper pictured above - Bill and I spied this when we were out on our "date night" and we just could not resist the CUTENESS! What a sweet summer romper - great colors, and just a little bit preppy, to boot. ;) 

I hope you all have a very nice Monday ... I will see you here bright and early tomorrow!


A Few Weekend Photos ...

Happy Sunday, my friends! I hope you've all had a nice weekend.

Mine has been just lovely - it was my birthday weekend! And my loved ones made sure it was fun, relaxing and filled with my favorite things. Here are just a few photos ...

First off, the "bump shot" as promised ...

Bump january

Twenty weeks ~ taken at my Mum and Dad's house earlier today.

On Saturday Mum took me out to a local yarn store where I picked up this yummy yarn for a baby blanket ...

Baby yarn 1

I am especially fond of that soft spring green (I have one more skein on order), and I'm thinking it will be this baby's "signature" shade. :)

On Saturday night, Bill took me out to dinner at our favorite restaurant where I very happily took advantage of eating for two ...

Birthday dinner

Birthday dinner 2

The lighting is very dark because it's a mostly candlelit restaurant. Lovely for atmosphere, awful for photos!

Before dinner we stopped in at a local baby store where we had tons of fun looking around and remembering all the little (and not so little) things the baby would need. We fell a little in love with this bedding:

Baby bedding

We probably won't go with this exact set - I wasn't crazy about the texture - but we are definitely thinking of a "woodland" nursery theme with lots of soft green and brown. Much more to come on that in the spring. :)

And today, after a busy morning of Mass and CCD, we headed over to Mum and Dad's for a delicious lunch, including a luscious fudge-topped birthday cake ...

My birthday 5

Fyi, I'm not worrying about calories at all this weekend. Not a one. I don't think birthday calories count, anyways. ;)

And then there were presents!

My birthday 3

A lovely sweater from a dear family friend.

My birthday 4

A sweet board book for the baby. 

And a little something my dad picked out for me ...

My birthday 1

The new Downton Abbey book! Such fun!

And speaking of DA, I'm going to try very hard to stay up to watch tonight but it's been a very busy weekend and I feel like I'm running on fumes. If I end up watching the episode, I will post "Masterpiece Monday" as early as I can tomorrow. If I end up konking out, the post will be up Tuesday for sure! That will give us one more day to digest. :)

Well my friends, thank you so much for stopping by and sharing in our fun! Enjoy the rest of your Sunday, and I will see you all again very soon!



Thursday's This & That

Well my friends, I've got a nasty cold this week, so posting will be light for a bit, but very quickly I thought I'd mention a few things this morning ...

I'm posting from my perch on the family room couch, aka my "nest" these past few days. Been watching lots of cooking shows with Earlybird ... and as much as we love Jamie and Ina, our new favorite is The Pioneer Woman. So fun! And she homeschools! Why haven't we watched this before?


Speaking of cooking, here are a couple of neat recipes I'm hoping to try when I feel up to it:

Sweet Potato Souffle

(I made my first souffle last May - ready to try again!)

Maple Apple Tartlets

Maple apple tartlets

(I've actually made these before, but the boys have requested I make them again - they are much easier than they look!)

Lemon Custard Cakes

(I have several Meyer lemons to use up - I just love citrus in the winter!)


While resting, I've been enjoying a book I received in the mail the other day, The Life and Times of Call the Midwife: The Official Companion to Seasons One and Two.

Call the midwife book

It's a fantastic and gorgeous look into the world of CtM - fashion & beauty, homes & food, nurses & nuns, faith & health - as well as a peek behind the scenes. I'm just loving it! And if you're a fan of this show, you will love this book, too. (Remember to mark your calendars for 3/31 ~ Easter Sunday night I believe~ that's when season 2 premieres in the US!)


Very exited about the weekend ... lots of fun planned, so I'm really hoping I've kicked this bug by then. For one thing, Mum and I are planning a trip to a local yarn shop on Saturday. I've been itching to knit for some time, but wanted to wait until we knew if this baby was a boy or a girl. Now that we know, I am hoping to pick up some lovely yarn with which to begin a simple project of some kind. Perhaps a blanket to start?


Now, a new "bump" shot has been requested ... so I'll see what I can do about that. ;) I feel like I'm HUGE for 20 weeks, but I think most pregnant women feel like that, lol. The baby's very active and according to my pregnancy book he's about the length of a banana, crown to toes. At 20 weeks - I'm halfway there! (As you can see from my little baby ticker parked at the top of my blog.)

And yes, we do have a name picked out out ... but we're keeping it under wraps till his birth. ❤ As for cravings? Pineapple salsa, barbecue, cheeseburgers and steak sauce! Yep, it's definitely a boy. :)


Also, I know I promised a look at the learning room and that post IS coming soon ... I'm just a bit behind on my new year "spruce up!" Also, I have been asked where we got my corner desk (the one shown in this post) and I can tell you Bill ordered it online from HomeElement. It arrived in a few big pieces and he and the boys put it together for me. :)

Desk 1


Ok, time to wrap up and return to my roost! I hope your week's going well ... the flu is on a rampage this winter, so please take care of yourselves and your loved ones ... stay healthy and safe!

I'll see you here again very soon ...