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March 2013

Good Friday & Baby News

Some hot cross buns for afternoon tea ...

Hot cross buns

Actually, these are easy-peasy blueberry scones, with some homemade frosting piped on top in the traditional cross shape. Note the odd one in the back - the one with the O, rather than the ? That was Bill being frisky, an attempt to play tic-tac-toe while I prepared the buns.


Well, I hope your Easter weekend is off to a nice start! Bill's home today and we're having a quiet afternoon, preparing for our family gathering on Sunday. This morning I had a midwife appointment and there we talked about lots of things - including my weekly appointment schedule from here on out (every Friday till the end of May) and a possible induction date (considering my super-fast deliveries of both Crackerjack and Earlybird). I have a feeling I will go sometime before my due date anyway, but we'll know more as the weeks go by. What was really neat at today's visit ~ my mum came with me so she not only got to meet my midwife, but she also got to hear our little Baby-O's* heartbeat. He's always so scrappy when they use that doppler wand ... flipping around and giving a little show!

So all is going well ... I'm going to start on a magnesium supplement and daily protein shakes ... we'll wait on the thyroid testing to see how things go and/or if any other symptoms arise. And I had the echocardiogram last night and it went well ... that is, the test was smooth and the technician was lovely (an old high school classmate as it turned out!) but I'm waiting to hear what the cardiologist made of things. My midwife assured me that palps and an obvious heartbeat are very common in pregnancy and that all this testing is just to be extra cautious. That made me feel better!

*Now, for the time being, here at the blog we'll be calling the little guy "Baby-O," and yes, the "O" refers to his real name, which we chose some time ago. I don't mean to be so secretive, but we've always kept our boys "real names" private. Well, as you know, there aren't many "O" boy names out there, and I can tell you we're especially fond of Gaelic (Irish) names ... so maybe that will give you a little clue? If you'd like to guess, leave a comment below and I'll let you know if you're right. ;)

Enjoy the rest of your Friday, my friends ... and a happy holiday weekend to all!


Our Easter Menu this Year

Good (Holy) Thursday, my friends!

Easter lily

Well, we're getting ready for the big day here - just a few days to go! And I'm trying to balance all the "outer bustle and busy-ness" with an "inner awareness and peace." Balance is always a tricky thing, but never more so at the holidays.

All this "bustle" of course is in preparation for our big family dinner ~ we're hosting it here at our house and expecting 20 people this year! I'm very much looking forward to seeing everyone and enjoying the holiday together. :)

Here is the menu I've organized with my mum:

Appetizers & Cocktails

sparkling peach sippers


a simple punch for the kids

hot artichoke dip

shrimp dip

salsa & tortilla chips

fresh veggies & spinach dip



baked ham and smoked turkey

hot fruit compote

roasted potatoes with onions



roasted asparagus

Annie's mac and cheese (per Earlybird's request)

assorted condiments

soft rolls and biscuits



pineapple upside down cake

lemon cake


chocolate coconut "nest" cupcakes

salted caramel Easter popcorn

assorted candies



Weather permitting, there'll be an egg hunt for the kids, and maybe a little walk down the bike trail. The weather for Sunday is still looking good: highs around 50, sun giving way to clouds with perhaps a late day shower. I can live with that, especially now that he snow has all melted!

So early this Holy Thursday we're washing china and wine glasses, cleaning out the fridge, organizing table linens and neatening the boys' rooms. Meanwhile, Crackerjack is fighting a virus and Bookworm has a couple of classes to get to ... and this evening I have my echocardiogram. I'll keep you all posted on how that goes.

So, there's lots going on ... but I do have my quiet moments planned.


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


Backyard surprises ...

A few things the boys found in the (finally, mostly snowless) backyard yesterday ... an owl pellet (ew), a dead robin (aw), leaves fossilizing in the sandbox (neat!) and a snowdrop growing by the chimney ...

Snowdrop by chimney


The weather is quite seasonable this week - partly sunny, with temps in the high 40s/low 50s. And as of this morning they're calling for a sunny, mild Easter Sunday! That would be so lovely ...

A bit later today Soon I will post our Easter Dinner Menu ... just have a last few nuts and bolts to work out with my mum.


Have a great Tuesday, my friends!

Menu Monday ~ Holy Week

Easter egg pink sunrise

Wasn't this morning's sunrise just lovely? It was in our neck of the woods, anyway. We call this "Easter Egg Pink."


Our Holy Week Dinner Menus

Monday, March 25th (Holy Monday)

bbq beef biscuit cups, corn, tater tots

*leftovers instead - using up food from the weekend*

Tuesday, March 26th (Holy Tuesday)

homemade calzones, salads

Wednesday, March 27th (Spy Wednesday)

silver dollar pancakes, roasted kielbasa/potatoes/vegetables

Thursday, March 28th (Holy or "Green" Thursday)

spinach salad, roast beef & radish subs, lime sorbet

Friday, March 29th (Good Friday)

*hot cross buns in the morning*

baked potatoes, soup

Saturday, March 30th (Holy Saturday)


Sunday, March 31st (Easter Sunday)

Easter Dinner!

(separate post tomorrow)


(You may have noticed I'm not listing desserts this week - aside from Holy Thursday - because we're keeping things simple in preparation for Easter feasting.)

So this is the last "Menu Monday" for a while, my friends ... next week I'll put up a "Masterpiece Monday" so we can chat about the first episode of the new season of Call the Midwife!

Have a great day, everyone ... thanks so much for stopping by!


Some College News ... :)

As many of you know, this is our Bookworm's senior year, and this past fall he applied to several colleges. Well, I thought it would be a nice time to announce that we found out this weekend that BW was accepted to Boston College! And in January he received acceptance from Gordon College, which is located on Boston's north shore. We're waiting to hear from a couple more schools before he (we) make a decision, but it's exciting (and somewhat surreal) to have arrived at this moment in time ...

We've very proud of, and pleased for, our Bookworm!

Through the years, and especially as we continued homeschooling through high school, I have been asked on occasion: Do colleges actually accept homeschoolers? How does a homeschooler apply to a college? Well this was our first time out of course (Bookworm being our oldest), but through the experience of peers and general reporting of media, I knew that many colleges were in fact prepared to handle homeschooling applicants. We found the process of organizing Bookworm's credentials and application requirements - while not exactly easy, not overly difficult. I can do a post sometime on how we handled his high school years and how we organized the whole college application "adventure."


Well, I'll be off for now ... just wanted to share our happy news! I hope you all have a great weekend ... I'll see you here again very soon!


Feline Friday by Crackerjack (& a Few Easter Recipes)

"Archie, Center of the Universe"

Archie center of the universe 1

Archie center of the universe 2


While I'm here (resting in my reading corner, working in my Easter folder) I thought I'd share a couple of neat recipes I found online today:

Italian Easter Bread

Salted Caramel Easter Popcorn

DIY Peanut Butter Easter Eggs

Special holiday meals are full of flavor, memories and love -  but as much as we enjoy our familiar favorites, it's always fun to try something new. You never know what might become a new family tradition! Are you trying any new recipes this Easter?

Enjoy your weekend, my friends!


One Test Down, Two More to Go ...

Hello, my friends ~ I hope this Tuesday's been kind to you. :)

Just checking in to let you all know that I had my ekg this morning, and although it looked fine, the doctor is running a few more tests - the first being a heart monitor which I'm wearing at this very minute (and for 24 hours in total) and the second being an echocardiogram later next week. I'm sure all will be well, but naturally, it's a bit of a concern. The reason I'm having these tests is because last week I started having palpitations and at times, a racing heartbeat. (Or what feels like a racing heartbeat - apparently my puse rate is a bit high but not unusual for a pregnant woman.) The episodes are fairly random and not all that bothersome just off-putting, you know? I hated to mention them to my midwife, but wanted to err on the side of caution. And oddly enough they started up while we were watching "Oz" last Tuesday and they've continued ever since. I'm told that palpitations are not all that uncommon during pregnancy because our blood flow increases by something like 75% - wow! - and I've had palpitations before, but never when pregnant. Has anyone else experienced anything like this? 

So I wanted to post an update, since several of you very kindly offered your prayers and encouragement yesterday. I will certainly let you all know how it goes and "what's what" ... once I find out just what that is! (And of course, I always appreciate your prayers!)

Now on a happier note, before I go, how about a couple of cute kitty pics?

Archie tv 2

This is Archie, who for the first time ever has become aware of the tv! Earlybird loves a dvd called Kitten Party, and we noticed Archie paying rapt attention to the screen yesterday while KP was playing ... and next thing we know, he's got himself right up right in front of the tv, batting at the cats on the screen!

Archie tv 1

Archie tv 3

Archie tv 4

My cute, clever (sometimes crazy) cat. :)


So I'm off for now, but I hope you all have a good week. Take care of yourselves and your loved ones ... I'll see you here again sometime soon!


Menu Monday ~ updated with recipe links!

Good Morning, everyone! I hope you all had a nice weekend ...


A bit pressed for time this morning, so without further ado, here are my dinner menus for the week ahead: 

Monday, March 18th

parmesan turkey cutlets, rice pilaf, sauteed spinach

leftover shamrock cookies

Tuesday, March 19th (St. Joseph's Day, Papal Inauguration)

sloppy joe empanadas, corn, salad

brownies w/dulce de leche ice cream

Wednesday, March 20th (Vernal Equinox)

pasta primavera, popovers

lemon souffle w/strawberry sauce

Thursday, March 21st

homemade pizzas, simple salads

fruit compote w/gingersnaps

Friday, March 22nd

spicy shrimp wraps

tropical fruit smoothies

Saturday, March 23rd


Sunday, March 24th (Palm Sunday)

roast, potatoes, asparagus, herb bread

Palm Sunday Cake


Before I go, a quick "programming" note ~ posting might be slow for a bit because I'm feeling very slow myself these days! I am 30 weeks pregnant today ... though honestly, it feels more like 30 months! Lol. Not so much in time - which seems to be flying - more in physicality! Goodness, I forgot what 7 months pregnant feels like! Also, may I ask for your prayers? I'm having an ekg tomorrow and although I am sure (as is my midwife) that all is well, I'm still a bit nervous. Just hoping the rest of the pregnancy is smooth sailing for the wee babe and me!

Have a wonderful week, my friends ... see you here again sometime soon.


Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Irish angel

May love and laughter light your days,
and warm your heart and home.
May good and faithful friends be yours,
wherever you may roam.
May peace and plenty bless your world
with joy that long endures.
May all life's passing seasons
bring the best to you and yours!
~ An Old Irish Blessing


Wishing you all a wonderful Sunday!

Looking at Next Week

Happy Friday, my friends! It's time to start planning a new week!

New file folder 1

Lots going on next week - in our schedule, in our Faith, and in nature, too. And the week not only closes with Palm Sunday, but we celebrate a Papal Inauguration as well! How lovely is that?

So yesterday I pulled the folder shown above out of storage, attached a weekly planning page to its cover, and starting "thinking things out."

Here are my thoughts and ideas ... :)

Events/Days of Note

19 - St. Joseph's Day

19 - Papal Inauguration Mass

20 - Vernal Equinox

22 - Blogiversary (7 years!)

24 - Palm Sunday


Dinner Menus

*Under construction - please see my Menu Monday post!



Plan CCD finale/Palm Sunday party.

Order natural egg dye kit.

Buy white eggs.

Spring cleaning, con.

Make card for our pastor.

Finalize Easter menu.

Books to Request/Display

Song of the Swallows

The Spring Equinox


Humphrey's First Palm Sunday



Watch papal proceedings on tv on St. Joseph's Day; serve "sloppy joe empanadas" for supper and "dulce de leche" sundaes as a special "Argentinian" dessert. :)

Talk with boys about "Friends of St. Francis" badge program - brainstorm ideas.

Observe spring equinox: watch sunrise, start a pot of seeds, set out nesting materials.

Take a family Palm Sunday Praise Walk - look for pussy willows by river, stop by vernal pond, observe signs of new life.

Watch night sky for comet: use printable sky map.

Work on amphibians & reptiles study: visit pet store (ask questions, look at turtles, snakes, frogs, lizards), begin "pond watch" at home (listen for peepers), investigate back fence/woods for salamanders.

Set up spring nature table.


So those are my notes for now ... they're just ideas and hopes, but the week will take its own shape and rhythm and we'll do our best to keep up. But I'm excited about all that's to come - it's a very special week in the year - one of my favorites!

Do you have any special activities in mind for next week? If you do, I'd love to hear about them!

Hope you all enjoy your Friday ... see you here again very soon!


Holy Smoke!

White smoke                                                                                                    photo credit: Boston Globe

 Just a few minutes ago, we learned that a new pope has been elected! What an exciting day for Catholics around the world!

Habemus Papem!!

We have a Pope!



Pope Francis I

With love and prayers for Pope Francis I!

Well, hello there little harbinger!

(I was going to make this a "Wordless Wednesday" post, but I'm too excited not to babble a bit!)

First chipmunk

So today's big news - since the smoke was black and not white :) - Earlybird and I just spotted the first chipmunk of the year! As I'm sure most of you know, chipmunks go into hibernation in mid-fall, and emerge at winter's end. We like to keep track of when they leave and return - and it's always a cause for celebration when they are spotted sometime in late winter/early spring. We're big fans of chipmunks around here!

So take heart my northeastern friends - spring can't be too far away! And boy is it ever a lovely day here in New England - the light is bright and the ground is nearly clear of snow. And the air! Oh, the air ... soft and cool, but not cold. I have a few windows open because the temperature is near 50 degrees!

Can you tell I'm just a wee bit excited for spring?


(And no, I'm not paying any attention to those snowflakes in next week's forecast. Nope. None at all.)

Enjoy your Wednesday, my friends!

Oz: The Great and Powerful

Oz 1

We finally saw this yesterday! I thought it was very good - an entertaining adventure with vivid scenery and some neat special effects. I have to say, I was not overly impressed with James Franco as Oz, but the three women playing the witches were fantastic. Though there was an awful lot of cleavage displayed for a kids' movie ... call me old fashioned, but I thought that was a bit over the top - literally. ;)

Have any of you seen "Oz" yet, and if so what did you think?

I will say however - this was definitely my last "big screen" movie until after the baby arrives. I don't know if it was the loud sound or the cramped seats but oh my, did he ever squirm and tumble throughout the two hour show!


Well, my friends, have yourselves a wonderful Wednesday ... see you here again sometime soon!


A Day for Apples!

According to the Farmer's Almanac, it's Johnny Appleseed Day - the day the American legend died, not to be confused with his birthday which takes place in September. September may seem the more fitting month to celebrate apples - it being harvest time and all - but it's always a great time to enjoy an apple! And though I do enjoy a fresh apple now and then, there's something about cooked apples that really appeals to me ...

Baked apples

They go so well with those homey scents and flavors like cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and clove ... 

I know people can be quite partial to one variety or another, and I have always been fond of McIntosh apples since they were the kind my grandmother cooked with the most. (Her "pink" applesauce was the best!) I think of them as a traditional New England apple, but it is my understanding they originated in eastern Canada. There are several varieties that have been bred from the original Mac - the Macoun, the Spartan, Cortland and Paula Red to name a few ...

So of course, now I'm wondering: Is there an apple you like best of all?

Here's a recipe for the apples seen above, a delicious baked version filled with dried fruit and honey. Wouldn't these make a cozy, nourishing breakfast on a cold March morning? And if you're looking for some more appley ideas, here's a link to a post I did on Johnny Appleseed Day last year.

In the interest of keeping it simple with little ones - why not head to the library to pick up a book or two on apples (there are bound to be lots!) and perhaps stop at the market to buy a few apples? (See how many varieties there are!) Or if the weather is cooperating, visit your local orchard and see how the apple trees are faring. Are they showing signs of life yet?

By the way, this is one of my favorite apple books, a lovely Swedish story:

Our apple tree

Our Apple Tree

Beautiful illustrations, and a sweet imaginative story. It nicely describes the different seasons in an apple tree's life.


So there's a few thoughts for this Tuesday, my friends ... but wherever your day takes you, I hope you enjoy it! Thanks so much for stopping by ... I'll see you here again sometime soon!

Menu Monday

Good morning, my friends!


Well, I hope you all weathered the time change, and that your week's off to a great start. Anyone else having Downton withdrawals? Counting the Sundays till the Midwives return? Anyone catch last night's Once Upon a Time? What an ending!

Anyhoo ... here are my menus for this week. Tonight's meal may be tweaked, as I have a couple of sickies in the house - nothing severe, just moderate head colds - and that usually requires a simpler supper. But doesn't the Spanish chicken roast sound yummy?


Monday March 11th

Spanish chicken and potato roast, soft breadsticks

sorbet/ice cream and raspberry sauce

Tuesday, March 12th

takeout pizza (friend coming for supper*)

*postponed from last Friday due to storm

chocolate chip pan cookies

Wednesday, March 13th

baked ziti, turkey meatballs, garlic bread

winter fruit salad

Thursday, March 14th (National Pi Day)

beef pot pie, rice pilaf, roasted asparagus

pumpkin pie with whipped cream diagrams :)

Friday, March 15th

grilled cheese/carmelized onion panini, shamrock soup, tater tots

black and white banana cake

Saturday, March 16th

refrigerator smorgasbord - aka leftovers!

Sunday, March 17th (St. Patrick's Day)

slowcooker corned beef and cabbage, buttermilk mashed potatoes, maple glazed carrots, Irish brown bread

apple-blackberry crumble


 How are your menus shaping us this week? Are you trying anything new? Planning a little Pi Day or St. Patrick's Day fun?

(p.s. Speaking of St. Patrick's Day, here's a link to the Gooseberry Patch's "Luck o' the Irish" Pinterest page. Lots of neat ideas over there!)

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