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Advent Tea, Week 1: Stones, Stars & Shortbread

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Hello my friends and Happy Friday! Did this week go by REALLY fast or is it just me? Seriously - it feels like we were just finishing up Thanksgiving dinner and now here we are nearing the end of the first week of Advent! 

Well, at any rate - welcome! Thank you so much for stopping by and, goodness - please come on in out of the cold and let me offer you something warm to drink. Or maybe it's raining where you are ... or perhaps it's perfectly sunny and warm? But whatever the weather, please do come in! Let's pause together for some rest and refreshment ... time passes too quickly nowadays. We should sit down and savor the season while we can!

Now, my Tea theme this week, as you've probably gathered from the post title, is reflective of where we are in Advent this week. As described in yesterday's post, our family's Advent is a celebration of God's beautiful creation, because the whole world waits together for the miracle of life (and light) to return! Just as the earth goes quiet and dark at this time of year, we too slow down and turn inward, looking for ways to light the path before us ...

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2:43 p.m. and yes, the sun is going down ...

So this week we are focusing on the beauty of "earth and sky" - stars, stones, shells, sun and soil. We'll be making crafts that utilize and rejoice in these blessings of creation. Because when you take the time to really observe and think about these things - particularly if you look through the eyes of a child - you get such a sense for how wondrous our world truly is.

And for me personally, I really do relish crafting with natural materials ... these kinds of projects, most of which become gifts or tree ornaments, just seem especially meaningful to me. :)

Ok, so I have several things to tell you about, but let's start with my tea mug this week ...

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This mug is an oldie but goodie and some readers might recognize it since I've shared it a few times before! But it's my favorite and most comfortable mug. And though it feels wintry to me, I use it all year round. And today in this mug I'm enjoying another old Advent favorite - Harney & Sons' Holiday Tea. This is a black tea blended with subtle spices with a lovely vanilla-type of taste. (I don't believe there's any vanilla in the tea itself, but it just seems creamy and comforting to me.) It's GREAT with a wee bit of sugar and a healthy dose of whole milk. :)

The shortbread you see on the plate - one piece for me, one for Little Bear - was baked Wednesday in honor of St. Andrew (of Scotland). Maybe it's because I'm part Scottish (my maternal grandmother was born in Edinburgh), but shortbread is my hands-down favorite type of cookie! I just love the simplicity of shortbread - the flavor and texture is perfect to my mind (or I should say, palate). I'm always tempted to dip the ends of the bars in melted dark chocolate or thick caramel but then never do. Maybe I'll try that for Christmas this year.

In these pictures you can see I was sitting in a rather sunny spot ...

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The kitchen table gets such wonderful light all day. Usually I "take tea" in the library, but this is where I spread out yesterday - it was bit of a "working" tea. ;)

Here is a closer picture of our Advent Garden-in-progress ...

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Last year we set up an Advent Garden on the patio and while I enjoyed having it there very much, I decided to do something different this year. (Ok, truth be told I had a much larger scale project in mind originally - turning a small section of the yard into a grotto of sorts - but that was deemed a project better suited to spring!)

So instead, we're bringing our garden indoors. Throughout Advent, each week we will add a new layer of creation to this terrarium bowl. This week we've added stones (and soon to come soil), then next week will be plants (aka moss from the garden). In the third week of Advent, we'll add some small animal figures, and then finally, in the last week before Christmas, we will celebrate our own kingdom of creation, humankind - with tiny peg people and little wooden houses.

I'm really excited for this project and I love how it's being done in stages ... really highlighting the "waiting" aspect of Advent. It's certainly piqued the curiosity of my cats and kids ... and even guests to our home!

Now the candles around the bowl technically number 23 instead of 24 - but you didn't hear that from me. *wink* It's all I could scrape up! I had purchased glittery battery-lit tealights for this project but then they didn't really all fit ... size-wise nor sense-wise. (Glitter is lovely but not necessarily, natural.) Then I remembered my collection of beeswax tealights and thought how much more fitting they would be. Some have already been burned a little but that's ok. We'll light a candle each night throughout Advent (one will be lit twice) and that will be another nice way for us to pace ourselves a bit. To gather around the supper table and talk about the good things that happened that day ...

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Here are a couple of stories we're reading during this week of "stones and stars." Three Pebbles and a Song is actually one of our November books but I kept it aside just for this week. It is such a sweet little tale, perfect for this time of year - all about preparing for the long winter and appreciating that we all have gifts to offer. The illustrations - in grays, blues, browns and beige - perfectly suit these bleak days of early December. And another favorite book is this retelling of the fairy tale The Star Child - with its gorgeous illustrations and heartwarming tale of generosity and selflessness. I love how the little girl in the story is so selfless and never once hesitates to hand over something of her own to help another in need. Little ones might fret a bit over the girl's condition (as she slowly sheds her belongings) but her reward at the end of the story is simple and satisfying. 

Speaking of stories ....

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Another thing I'm doing this year is creating an Advent nature story to share with my younger boys - in particular my Little Bear who loves to snuggle and "hear stories."  I bought a couple of bags of "river" stones at the craft store (they're cleaner and more uniformly shaped than our yard stones!) and each stone is painted with a symbol from nature. The story is very simple (just a few lines a day) but it leads us towards Christmas in a way that meanders through creation ...

So ... we begin with a sleepy sun, a friendly starfish, a lonely rock, and a generous star ... and then next week we'll meet proud trees and humble plants ... later on there will be hungry birds, silly crows, clever bees ... and at last ... a humble home, a friendly barn and a very loving family. :)

I'm storing the stones in the 24 little drawers of that wooden Advent tree seen below, and each day we'll pull out a stone, tell its tale (Earlybird can read the card) and then nestle it in amongst the green branches.

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I'm having a lot of fun with it so far! And the boys seem intrigued. :) And since my artistic talents are somewhat limited, I have enlisted our resident 17 year-old artist, Crackerjack, to help me out with painting the stones ... 

Now I have one more thing to show you ... something that will be part of my "Winter Comforts Basket" giveaway!

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These pretty soaps are made by a company called Hand in Hand, and whether you buy them for yourself or a friend (online or at Target), they are a gift that truly gives back. Because for every purchase, HiH gives a month's worth of soap and clean water to a needy child.  These soaps are so well-crafted, softly-scented, earth-friendly AND gorgeously-wrapped. (I love the subtle colors and natural themes!) I'm giving several people on my gift list a bar of this beautiful soap, and ...

... whoever wins my "Winter Comforts Basket" will receive one as well!

(Remember - to enter my Winter Comforts Basket giveaway, all you have to do is send me a picture of your favorite mug or cup. It can be a special one you use at the holidays, throughout the winter, or any old day. You can send me your picture by attaching it to an email (send to drhanigan AT gmail DOT com). Feel free to tell me as much as you'd like about your mug - we love to talk tea here! (And cocoa, coffee, mulled cider, etc.!) I will share these pictures in my weekly Tea posts and then, on New Year's Eve, I will randomly pick a winner! 

So without further ado, here are this week's Tea Friends ... :)

From Elizabeth: "I'm sending you a picture of my favorite mug that I use all the time. I love to enjoy hot chocolate, herbal tea and spiced apple cider in the evenings. Especially with a good book or favorite episode of a beloved TV show or movie."

Friends Tea 1

 

From Lauren: "For your tea post, I wanted to share my favorite tea cup that I use during the winter season."

Friends Tea 2

 ❤

From Heather: "I have to share more than one ... They are all perfect for the season! Happy Advent!"

Friends Tea 3

"My Pioneer Woman Christmas Tree Mug."

Friends Tea 4

"My 'Home is the Nicest Word There is' Mug."

Friends Tea 5

"My Mary and Martha "Lovely" Mugs."

Friends Tea 6

"And these little glass mugs in our hot chocolate bar!"

 ❤

And from Gill:

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"This is a photo of the corner of my kitchen, where I stand to make tea or coffee, cook and bake, or turn 90' to wash up! I spend many contented hours exactly here working or dreaming or gazing out of my window to the front yard, where the dog, cats, hens and wild birds all interact!

In the summer the troughs against the yard wall are overflowing with flowers, now they are stuffed full of daffodil, crocus and narcissus bulbs, covered over with pine branches. The tree is the one we went into the forest to cut down last weekend. The bird feeders are usually busy. It is the funniest thing that the wild birds throw down seed to the hens beneath, and the hens keep the cats away!

You can just see that I have hung my Christmas curtains and that they are swathed with fairy lights. I have my breakfast ready: Norwegian brown goats cheese on bread and a cafe latte in my favorite Emma Bridgewater JOY mug. The board I have my bread on says " A friendly word can work wonders" which is so very true. I had just poured my coffee when your post pinged in, so I snapped the photo and hope you won't mind an Advent breakfast instead of tea!

Wishing you a very peaceful Advent ..."

***

Oh my goodness, wasn't that fun? I just love talking "tea" (etc.) with friends. I do so wish we could all sit down in person and chat, but I guess for now this is the next best thing. (Maybe someday I'll figure out that periscope trend, lol ... or maybe host a "seasonal tea" webinar??)

My sincere thanks to Elizabeth Mary, Lauren, Heather and Gill for sharing their beautiful cups! I loved seeing them and hearing their thoughts on this cozy, happy topic!

And thank you all for joining me today ... I hope you enjoyed our teatime and hearing a little more about my family's Advent rituals. I will share Tea again here next Friday, and all are welcome to partake. If you'd like to send me a picture for the post (and giveaway!) please do so at your earliest convenience, by attaching a photo to an email addressed to ...

drhanigan AT gmail DOT com

I hope to hear from you! Until then, have a happy and restful weekend and I will see you all here again very soon!


How about a Planner Post ... Party? (+ a giveaway)

But first, a word from our sponsor ...

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... whose generous afternoon nap brought you today's post.

:)

Well, I just had to start with that sweet little face in the adorable acorn hat - a lovely gift from my dear friend, Kelly. Some kids are just hat kids - and Little Bear is definitely one of them! All summer long it was baseball caps, or straw hats, or floppy-brimmed bucket hats ... every day he was outdoors - with a hat! But now that there's a chill in the air, we're all about warm, knitted things ... such as this gorgeous, handcrafted treasure.

How happy does he look? How very "fall" is this photo? How lucky am I to have such generous and talented knitter-friends?!

(Kelly has blessed our LB with a treasure, and I truly treasure her friendship!)

Ok, now, back to the topic at hand ... planners! (Or calendars, if you prefer that term.) I am in a real planner/calendar mood lately ... I've been scoping out Pinterest for ideas and tweaking my main planning binder and loving (still!) my new daybook, and now, I'm eager ready to chat. I have a draft-post in the works - and you all know I can talk at great length about planning - but I am curious to see/hear what you have going on planning-wise!

So, how about I host a "planner party" here next week?

I'm thinking near to the end of the week, so we all have time to get our planners together. All "dressed up and ready to party," so to speak. Here's what I'm thinking:

I want to know what you are using for a calendar/planner (or planners as the case may be) and how you like it (them) or not. I would also love to see your planner(s) if possible - so if you are able, you might send me a picture or two? (Or three, or four, I'm not picky.)

I will do a post about my own calendars and planners and then share what you all have sent me in my post. I will only publish your first name (or a pseudonym if you prefer), your words and your pic, if you sent one - or more. (I can't stress enough pics are welcome! I think we all love to see people's planners!)

So, please send me an email with your planner input here:

bysunandcandle AT gmail DOT com

I'll bug nag remind you about the post over the next several days. I'm thinking Friday for the actual posting, so I'd appreciate submissions by Thursday please.

Now, not to bribe you or anything ... ahem ... but I may just have a little "autumn bliss giveaway" as an incentive for those who participate. Just a little something fun I have in mind ... Join the party and you've entered your name!

(Note: If you'd rather not email,  you are also welcome to write your thoughts in the comments box below ... I will add these to the post next week.) 

Well my friends, the aforementioned nap looks to be nearing its end, so I'm going to wrap up for now. The autumn sun outside my window is nearing the tops of the trees, which means it's time to shift gears, stretch limbs and get back on track! First up - a diaper change and a couple of good books. Then we'll start in on supper. :)

But I thank you as always for reading, and I wish you all a pleasant evening ...

See you here again very soon!

ETA! Here is an exciting update to the Planner Party Post GIVEAWAY information!


Creating Seasonal Themes: Corn Week!

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(Plus a bit of book news at the end!)

Happy Wednesday, my friends! Sorry I've been a bit out of touch lately ... we've had a lot going on here at the house these days!

We're gearing up for a new year of home learning, and we're getting Bookworm ready for his move back to BC, and we're starting Earlybird on a new, daily, home-based, fairly intensive, behavioral therapy. All very good things, but all things requiring a lot of time, energy and attention. (And did I mention, energy?) Also, as August winds down, we're trying to squeeze the very last drops of goodness out of this fast-fleeing season ... we'll have warm weather here for several more weeks, but for all intents and purposes, Summer pretty much ends after Labor Day.

So I thought I would share some of my notes for this week with you all! As I have mentioned before, I enjoy shaping my family's year by assigning seasonal themes to each week. This helps me weave in all the little comforts and joys of the season I might otherwise overlook. And though I really get into planning these themes out with all kinds of details, I try not to set my expectations too high. Because real life often runs over my plans, and a particular "theme" might not get explored very much ... so some years we might manage something small (a special recipe, perhaps) while other years we might go all out and really work that theme into our homeschooling and home life! Either way, I think it's always good to have a plan. And to be aware ... I think as seasons pass, the beautiful rhythm of the year truly wraps itself around my family however much attention we pay it. That is my end goal! :)

Anyhoo, this current week is devoted to the very timely topic of CORN. In New England (and I suspect, across much of the country) corn is in its peak season these days. Corn-on-the-cob is just heavenly right now - partaking daily is not out of the question - and cornstalks will factor into our home decorations in the coming weeks ...

But enough gabbing on my part! Here are some of my thoughts:

The Full Green Corn Moon will rise on Saturday, August 29th @ 2:35 p.m., and it's a Supermoon this month! We'll have to be sure to look for it after dark and plan a special farmstand supper - starring corn, of course! - for that night. 

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We'll visit a local corn field ... we drive by it often and always marvel at its size. This time we'll stop the car and get out - observe the field, its sounds and smells. What wildlife is flying overhead or scurrying underfoot? What do we hear? (Is that the corn making that sound?) What can we smell? (Vegetation, earth?) How does the air feel right now? (Hot, humid?) Now, we won't touch these stalks because we don't have permission, but we might visit a local farm and ask to do just that. I'll see what our schedule allows and how much interest has been piqued. Before we go, we'll take pictures of the cornfield from various angles. 

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We'll visit our favorite farmstand and buy plenty of ears of fresh corn. We'll ask where the corn comes from and how many ears they sell each day. We'll buy some to eat and some to use for exploration/activities ...

At home, we'll pile some ears on the table and take out our colored pencils and sketch pad: "Still Life with Corn!"

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We''ll enjoy some nice books from the library all about corn:

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The Life and Times of Corn

Corn book 1

Corn

Corn book 3

Corn is Maize

Corn book 4

The Popcorn Book

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Raccoons and Ripe Corn

(These might be in a basket or set up as a display on a nature shelf.)

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We'll play some pretty lullabies ... and discuss how/why corn was so important to Native Americans

Corn music

Under the Green Corn Moon (Native American Lullabies)

For craft day we'll make a corn husk candle - a small glass votive surrounded by corn husks with a tiny beeswax tealight tucked inside. That will look nice on our table! (We could also try making this or this ...)

Or we could try making a corn husk doll (and research the history behind it) ...

We will pop popcorn for snack ... and we might even make marshmallow popcorn bars for a tasty treat!

We might do a taste test: boiled corn vs. grilled corn. 

On baking day we will make a pan of corn bread, and serve it with honey butter.

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We'll learn a poem called "A Green Cornfield" by Christina Georgina Rossetti. We'll add that poem to our nature journal, along with our pictures/sketches.

 The earth was green, the sky was blue:
I saw and heard one sunny morn
A skylark hang between the two,
A singing speck above the corn;

A stage below, in gay accord,
White butterflies danced on the wing,
And still the singing skylark soared,
And silent sank and soared to sing.

The cornfield stretched a tender green
To right and left beside my walks;
I knew he had a nest unseen
Somewhere among the million stalks.

And as I paused to hear his song
While swift the sunny moments slid,
Perhaps his mate sat listening long,
And listened longer than I did.

🌽 

We'll consider "Kansas Corn Field," a painting by artist John Steuart Curry in 1933:

Corn 2

***

I also have notes for some Indian Corn activities but I'm not sure if I can get it at the nursery yet. Also, those might wait for a later week in the fall. This week is really more about fresh, or green, corn. :)

So there, in a nutshell (or a kernel!) are my simple ideas for celebrating the goodness of corn during this last week of August. Remember - they're all just possibilities! I can't imagine fitting them all in in any one given year.

How do you enjoy corn at this time of year? Perhaps you grow it yourself or have a favorite recipe ... let me know in the comments below! In the meantime, and before I go, I wanted to mention my book briefly, because I've had a few people ask recently about how my progress is going ...

So, I have been working on it this summer - here and there, not as often as I'd like! - but it took me a while to get going because I wasn't entirely sure WHAT I wanted to write about. I have a few subjects I enjoy very much and there are a few topics people ask about more than others ... well, I finally found my focus! And that enabled me to get rolling ...

I am going to do a book about the file crate system - describing how I do it (and why) and the basics of setting a system up for yourself. That will be the first half of the book ... the second half will focus on seasonal learning (and living) ... and how I use my FCS to manage my family's year. So my hope is to have an outline of 52 (weekly) *seasonal* themes to present  along with activities and books and observations. And tips for using the folders to make it all happen! (Or most of it ... some of it ... well, you get the picture!)

Sometimes when I describe this it all sounds so straight forward and simple - these are my two favorite topics, after all! It seems like the two sides of the equation should work well together ... I need the folders to make the plans happen! But it's possible I may need to separate the two topics ... goodness knows I can get wordy!

(Case in point, this post.)

I will most likely be self-publishing so I'll need to do a WHOLE lot of research into that. I have my eye on a neat contraption that will allow me to bind things at home ... and I am looking into permission for using things like scrapbook papers and poems, illustrations, etc. 

Much to do, much to do! But I'm excited ... so I wanted to update you all .. and I will of course keep you all posted. For the time being, if you have a prayer to spare, or good energy to send, I would be grateful ... I'm desperately trying to find the time in my new schedule to just ... get 'er done!

 :)

Thanks so much for stopping by my friends ... enjoy the rest of your Wednesday and I will see you here again very soon!


A Monday Hello ... and Tea notes

Mary melcher card

Isn't this the sweetest illustration? Doesn't it capture the colors and feel of a November day? This is a detail from a Thanksgiving card designed by one of my favorite artists, Mary Melcher. Are you at all familiar with her work? She mostly does greeting cards but has also illustrated a few children's books. (One of Little Bear's favorites, in fact: Good Morning, Sun.) I can never resist her cards - they're hard to find, but I snatch them up when I find them - and those I wish to actually send I buy in double!

:)

Alas, November does not look quite so lovely today as it does in that card; it's a cold, wet and rather gloomy Monday here in New England! A good day to stay in and fortify oneself with warm socks, comfort food and hot cups of tea ... if at all possibile. :)

And speaking of tea, a week from today we'll begin our Advent Tea gatherings. Advent does not actually begin until November 30th, but I thought it would be nice to have tea during Thanksgiving week. So next Monday we'll talk about gratitude and sharing life's blessings, as well as our hopes for the season ahead. I usually have tea (baby-willing) around 4 p.m. so my post will go up around then (or just thereafter). If you have a blog and would like to join me at tea, please send me a link and let me know! Or, blog or not, if you'd like to send me pictures and comments to include in my post (how do you do tea?), I would love it. You can send me submissions for our November 24th Tea here:

bysunandcandlelight@comcast.net

**

But for now I will wish you all a good day and hope to see you here again very soon. And as always, thanks so much for stopping by!

Enjoy your Monday, my friends ...


happy little hedgehog ❤

It's hard to justify new baby clothes when one is having her 4th child of the same gender, but really ... when the clothes are this cute, how can one possibly resist?

Hedgie 1

Hedgie 3

Hedgie 2

Love the autumnal colors and I've always been quite fond of hedgehogs! Tagging Penny from VT and Shirley Ann from England on that! ;)

***

And speaking of Michaelmas (which I was the other day), Bookworm texted me a picture of this gorgeous statue of St. Michael the Archangel which stands in one of his classroom buildings at BC.

Michael statue

* And finally, our supper tonight has an "Octoberfest" feel: turkey kielbasa roasted with diced potatoes, zucchini and red peppers, served with crescent rolls and Octoberfest beer (for the grownups, natch).

Have a great evening, my friends!

**


National Lighthouse Day!

I had no idea that yesterday was National Lighthouse Day (or that it existed at all), but in its honor I'd like to show you all a picture of Earlybird's bedroom door ...

Lighthouse door

My mum painted it before he was born. :)

And here are lighthouse curtains made by Bill's mom ...

Lighthouse curtains

And even a lighthouse lamp!

Lighthouse lamp

(In case you couldn't tell, Earlybird's bedroom is done in a lighthouse theme!)

Also, here's a link to my Portland trip last September - my friends and I visited several lighthouses that weekend, so naturally there are tons of pictues! And here's a link to the "Open Lighthouse Day" website - lots of great links to explore there! (Fyi: Maine's annual "Open Lighthouse Day" is Saturday, September 15th this year.)

Finally, how about a few "lighthouse book" recommendations?

The Little Red Lighthouse and The Great Gray Bridge

North American Lighthouses Coloring Book

Lighthouses for Kids: History, Science and Lore

Keep the Lights Burning, Abbie

The Lighthouse Cat

**

Have you ever visited a lighthouse before? They're such an interesting part of our maritime history!

Well, my friends ... have yourselves a wonderful Wednesday, and I'll see you again sometime soon!


A Crafty Gift for Teacher

Teacher gift 5

It's that time of year again ... another academic year's coming to a close, so it's time to think about teacher/coach/instructor gifts. It may come as a surprise to some, but most homeschoolers also take classes - and therefore have teachers! - outside of the home. My kids have all taken outside classes - here and there, now and then - so we too have teachers to thank at the end of the year.

Anyhoo ... today we worked on a craft for the older boys' art teacher. Mrs. James teaches art at their tutorial center and she is just the nicest woman. AND she's a wonderful teacher! I'm planning to bake cookies for her later this week, but the boys wanted to make something for her, too.

And so, after much discussion and brainstorming, we came up with a handmade planter pot. It was a very easy and quick craft, so I thought I'd share it with you all.

:)

So we settled ourselves on the deck on this LOVELY afternoon and set to work ...

Teacher gift

Last week I bought plain terra cotta pots (at Michaels, $1 apiece) and a bag of tiny craft seashells (approximately, $2). The rest of the supplies we had on hand - paints, brushes and glue. We also bought a flower plant this morning at the farm.

Crackerjack and Earlybird set right to work ... both of them LOVE to paint!

Teacher gift 13

Here are the flowers we chose, because they remind us of Mrs. James - sweet "Marguerite" daisies in a shade of vibrant yellow. :)

Teacher gift 12

Crackerjack worked on the base coat of his pot ...

Teacher gift 10

And then he added a pattern. He tried to use colors that would compliment the seashells.

Teacher gift 2

Earlybird gets very absorbed by the "paint" aspect of any craft. He really loves to mix and play with colors.

Teacher gift 9

That's Bill in the background, planting the herbs we picked up today at the farm: sage, English thyme, rosemary, basil, mint, etc. I think this is the fastest turnaround we've ever had - usually our plants linger (and wither) a good week or so before we get them planted.

After Bookworm had trouble getting the seashells to stick (his portion of the project) the boys roped Dad into helping ...

Teacher gift 14

The trick seemed to be applying a good dose of glue (we used Mod Podge) and then sort of smooshing the shells into the glue.

Teacher gift 3

Once the pot was dry, we planted the daisies.

Teacher gift 8

And here's Earlybird's pot ...

Teacher gift 7

(When I asked him who he made his pot for, he replied, "You!" And apparently we need to find "pink" flowers for this pot. )

The final project:

Teacher gift 6

A whole family collaboration!

:)

Well, my friends ... I hope you all had a nice weekend. Ours was very nice ... busy yesterday with soccer and house stuff ... then today started early with Mass followed by an RV ride up north to a favorite farm. We were home by lunchtime though - armed with herb plants and cider donuts - not bad!

I'm sorry I did not have time to catch up with comments this weekend, but I will do so just as soon as I can. I truly appreciate your time and thoughts, and as always, your support. :)

Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing in our day ... 

I will see you all again very soon!


A Happy Mother's Day Brunch ❤

MD brunch 1

Well, this has been such a lovely day!

We had an early start (natch) ... I savored my first cup of coffee in bed ... then headed into the kitchen to bake something special for brunch. And just before leaving for Mass, I pulled this buttermilk-blueberry breakfast cake from the oven ...

Md brunch 3

Earlybird helped, especially with the lemon zest and the tossing of berries with flour. (He has a special love for lemons, lol.) I highly recommend this recipe ... it's very easy to make and super delicious to eat!

MD brunch 10

In my big red glass decanter, I mixed up a cold, fruity punch - it was just a strawberry juice blend mixed with seltzer - simple, but special. There were supposed to be floating strawberry slices too, but alas - I forgot to buy fresh strawberries! I served this over ice, in our pretty green glasses, and it was a very refreshing drink. The moms got a splash of Malibu rum just to give it a little zing.

MD brunch 5

EB and I scoured the yard for our "floral arrangements." You really can't beat azaleas for bright, punchy color, and as for dandelions ... well, if you're a mom, there's a special place in your heart for dandelions. :)

The rest of the meal consisted of two homemade quiches (one plain, one bacon) made by my mother, and a plate of apple-chicken sausages grilled up by Bill. There was also fresh fruit, a few pastries and freshly brewed coffee. And then of course there was the aforementioned blueberry cake ... I made up some whipped cream, just to put it over the top!

***

And here's a handmade card from my boys ...

MD brunch 4

"Mom, like the parable says, you are the tree and we are the branches. You support us and help us in everything we do."

      (And here is my heart --><-- swelling with love.)

Here I am with my Mum ...

MD brunch 6

I will always count my mum as one of my greatest blessings in life. She not only gave me life - which, hello, you can't beat that as gifts go! - but she showed me how to live in a sincere and honorable way. She taught me how to be a lady, and that family always comes first. Today she supports my life in any way she's able ... she never hesitates to help or encourage, and she's the kindest person I know.

Without a doubt, the mom I am today is thanks to the mom she's been to me ...

I love you, Mum!


And here we have two special gifts ...

MD brunch 7

The pen was a gift from our pastor this morning - there was a basket filled by the door, a pen for every mom - and how I love the bright pink! (The message is lovely, as well.) And we will always know who this belongs to, because anything pink in this house must be mine, lol! ;)

Now, the item sitting behind the pen takes some explaining ...

Crackerjack, as you all know, is taking an art class this year. He enjoys it so very much and we've been pleased to see him take such pleasure (and pride) in his artistic endeavors. Well, a few months ago, the class worked on clay projects ... I'd pick up CJ from class and he'd be covered in bits of clay, and his hands were so dry they'd drive him crazy! But he told me - very sincerely - that he couldn't tell me what he was making ... but that "someday," I'd know.

(Every mother knows what this means, but we never ever give away that we do.)

Well, come to find out - though not in the way CJ meant me to - he made a little teacup for me, knowing how much I truly love tea. He made some swirly rose shapes for the edge, and painted it all in my favorite shades of yellow, orange and red. And once it was dry and "set," he brought it home, just in time for Mother's Day ....

But then he left it in his bag.

The bag that sat in his bedroom.

Under his brother's bag, and, as the days went by, a multitude of other things such as shoes, jackets, toys and a couple of books.

>.<

While I was out shopping yesterday, Bill tried valiantly to glue it back together for CJ ... but as you can see, there was nothing he could do. The cup was crushed - and so was CJ - he rushed to tell me about it the moment I walked in the door.

And oh my gosh, my heart just broke ... because he tried so hard to make this such a big and special surprise. But I assured my 12 year old son - my sensitive one, who truly takes everything to heart - that I loved this unique cup first and foremost, because HE made it himself. It was made by his hands - with me in his mind and his heart. And that no matter its original purpose, I would love it and cherish it all the same.

So now ... I have a really awesome paperweight! Something that will hold down a stack of papers to grade, or receipts to look through or maybe some magazine clippings to peruse ...

Best of all, it's something that will always make me smile, and that's something I can truly use, every day.

:)

Well, my friends, I hope you've all had a nice Sunday, and if you're a mom (in any capacity) I wish you all a happy and relaxing evening. My night looks to be fairly simple - just as I like it - a little reading, a little supper, a little TV. Can't wait to catch our two favorite shows ... and can't wait to come back in the morning to chat with you all about it!

So thanks as always for stopping by and sharing in my day ... I will see you all again very soon!


Crackerjack's Latest Art Project ...

Tay's art

(But I call it my early Mother's Day gift. ❤)

I'm sorry I did not have time for a second post today - it was just that kind of day. I didn't know if I was coming or going half the time! But it was a good day all the same ... and it certainly flew by!

And now we're all home and supper's getting "fixed up" in the kitchen ... a squash soup is simmering on the back burner, steak fries are sizzling in the oven, and Bill's got his Griddler out, toasting those apple-cheddar-turkey panini. I got it all started ... now he's finishing up ... and he just brought me a nice glass of wine.

*sigh*

I wish you all a very happy evening ... thanks so much for stopping by!

:)


A Lovely Little Painting

Sons and heroes painting 1

You might remember a while back I did a Spring Package Giveaway here at my blog. Well, the winner of the contest, EK White, sent me her own little "thank you" package in return! It arrived just the other day, a happy little parcel sticking out of my mailbox - and OH, how it made my day! Inside the package I found (in addition to a lovely note), this beautiful piece of artwork, which EK made herself. It's a mixed-media painting, done in soft blues and greens, and featuring a truly wonderful quote:

 "You don't raise heroes, you raise sons. And if you treat them like sons, they will turn out to be heroes, even if it's just in your own eyes."

~ Walter M. Shirra, Sr.

EK, thank you so much for this gift - I will treasure it always!

I'd like to mention, dear readers, that EK has a lovely Etsy shop where you can find paintings like this (and many other pretty things, too). You must take a look!

:)

And speaking of pretty things, may I direct your attention to the brand spankin' new banner at the top of my page? I'm so excited about this new banner! And let me tell you why. I have always admired photo banners, but I have never taken the time to figure out how to do one properly. So up till now, when I do a photo for my banner, the dimensions are such that the image gets tiled. Not quite the look I was going for, but the best I could do! Well, today I explained this issue to Bill and, as he is known to do, he took over and within five minutes had the whole thing figured out! He showed me what to do (with pixels and whatnot) and ... voila! I now have a full photo banner JUST as I've always wanted! I'm tempted to play around with new images, but I really like these pale flowers for now. I bought them at Trader Joe's this morning, where I was picking up some fresh edamame (our new favorite snack). I could not resist these lovely blooms - so delicate and sweet - I love the way their petals catch the sun.

Well, my friends, I hope you are enjoying your weekend. It's a lovely one here in New England - sunny and unseasonably warm. (Marathon Monday may hit 90 degrees!) Tomorrow I will be catching up on blog comments (I'm sorry I've once again fallen behind ...) and then, look for my "Masterpiece Monday" post to focus on this weekend's Titanic, more so than MC's Edwin Drood. I do plan to watch Edwin Drood at some point next week, but this weekend I'm all about Titanic.

 So have a good night, everyone ... take care and God Bless!

I'll see you again sometime soon ...



Masterpiece Monday: Great Expectations (2)

Masterpiece logoGood morning, my friends!

Now, I did not get to watch the second part of Great Expectations last night, so I will not be joining the conversation till tomorrow. But I wanted to get this post up, in case anyone wanted to start chatting. :)

In the meantime, I am working on an Easter Sunday recap post, which I hope to get up later today. Tonight, I will be watching GE with Bill and the boys, and then will jump into the comments here tomorrow morning.

Oh, and next weekend we have - not only a new Masterpiece Classic - but a Titanic miniseries produced by Downton Abbey's Julian Fellowes, as well. So there will be lots to discuss next week!

So please, come on in and review what you watched this weekend ... I'll catch up with you early tomorrow!



Masterpiece Monday (& OUaT)

Masterpiece logo

Well, we here in the Boston markets did not see MT last night - on any of our PBS stations - so I don't have much to discuss on that front ...

And though I did watch Once Upon a Time last night with Bill and the older boys, I must admit I was rather immersed in (i.e. distracted by) a current project, and only paying half-attention ... so I'd love a recap if someone can share! I know this episode featured the "Mad Hatter," and the kidnapping of Emma and Mary Margaret, but I'm wondering what his story means to the overall plot. Despite his "madness" he seemed a bit more "aware" (re ~ the curse, etc.) than other Storybrooke characters.

So it was a slow television weekend for me, but did you watch anything good? And have you been to see The Hunger Games? I'm very curous about that film (enjoyed the books very much) as there's much buzz about the PG-13 rating. (Bookworm has read the books, but not Crackerjack - they're a bit too dark for him just yet.) I'm wondering just how graphic the movie gets.

But here's some good news ... there's only one more week till Masterpiece resumes with all new programming! First up, Great Expectations ...

Greatexpectations

 You can see a preview here ...

I think it looks amazing and I'm sure we'll have much to discuss!

Well, have a great Monday, my friends ... hope your week gets off to a good start. I'll see you back here again sometime soon!



Friday Photos (and a Few Felines)

Happy Weekend, my friends -  I hope you all had a nice Friday! I have a few pictures to share with you before wrapping up the week ...

This first picture was taken by ...

Library shot

 Earlybird!

Well, I helped him take it, using my phone-camera. We were walking into the library today when he stopped us and said - "Look at that! The library is so beautiful!" So I whipped out the phone and together we got the shot.

And here he is about an hour later - inside the library, waiting for Crackerjack to finish with Book Group. This is EB's favorite aisle in the whole building - it's where you find both planet books and train books.

Library books

We also found several interesting books about flight. Since Crackerjack is working on a report about zeppelins and hot air ballooons, we decided to make the topic a family affair. :)

Here's our library corner at home:

Library books 3

And here's our Archie, just waking up ... love that tongue! 

FF2:3:1

A touch of early spring inside: pussy willows on the nature shelf.

Pussywillow1

A touch of early spring outside: crocus shoots in the ground!

Crocus shoots in feb

(I can't remember ever seeing them this early!)

And here is Bookworm's latest art class project, a landscape done in acrylics:

Acrylic landscape 2

He worked so hard on this - and he's very pleased with how it came out.

(We are too!)

So, remember I told you all I was thinking about getting an inbox (or basket) for the left side of my desk? Well, I found a great basket I already had on hand ... trouble is, guess who else thinks it's pretty great?

Inbox1

{Now, I must include a picture of Ollie, just to be fair.}

FF2:3:2

And I just love the following picture even though it seems pretty random ...

It was taken by Bill - roundabouts 5 a.m. This is EB and me sitting at the kitchen island very early the other morning. He's got it all going on as you can see ... fully dressed, already drawing, his iPad playing Fireman Sam. As for me, there are pajamas beneath that sweater, my hair's an obvious mess, lol, and my coffee is right there by my side.

Still. I like that this picture captured one of our very "everyday" family moments.

Earlybirds

:)

So, my friends ... I will be off for now, but I wish you all a pleasant evening and a lovely weekend as well. Thanks so much for stopping by ... I will see you again very soon!



This was such a sweet surprise!

A pretty little package appeared in my mailbox yesterday ... and inside I found this pretty little tissue cozy, a heartfelt, handmade gift from Sarah H. of Vermont:

Tissuecozy2

It's just beautiful - as well as perfectly practical! First of all, cold and flu season is right around the corner - not to mention, those pesky autumn allergies! - but tissues are always handy to keep on hand. And for some reason I seem to always be without them! As I said to Sarah, I am forever forgetting to pack tissues in my purse - and invariably one boy or another needs a tissue at church!

Tissuecozy1

 The cozy is made with two kinds of material - a soft antique floral (all pale peach and robin's egg blue) and a wonderfully contrasting, wheat woven cloth. A tiny adorable button (featuring a tiny adorable mouse) adorns the pouch's opening ...

Tissuecozy3 

... and a soft ecru measuring "tape" ribbon forms a loop at its side.

Tissuecozy4

Sarah's a SAHM and she runs a lovely Etsy shop called Sweet Sparrow. I hope you'll stop by and take a peek at all her wares. I, for one, think this tissue cozy would make a special "first day of school" gift for a student or teacher in your life. I know I will treasure mine always - for it's simple beauty, certainly - but for Sarah's kindness as well.

:)


Hello!

I'm just popping in quickly to say I'm here and all's okay - just having some computer issues, and yesterday Earlybird came down with a stomach bug. I hope to post again this week, but in case I don't have time, please know I am thinking of you and wishing you all a Happy Holy Week.

Threebirdsinnest

Easter Blessings to You and Yours!