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A Tour of My New(ish) Desk!

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Hello my friends, and Happy Friday! Today I'd like to give you all a little tour of my new desk. :)

Well, I call it "new" because I've only been using it for a couple of months, but the desk itself is not new. Actually, it's been here since the house was built back in 1985! (We've been here since 2013.) It's a great spot for sure, but I resisted situating myself here because, A. up until recently I had a (portable) laptop computer and, B. "sitting down time" was pretty scarce. (If I found myself sitting down there was usually a Little Bear in my lap!)

Also, I really didn't want to clutter up this corner of our family room ... it's the main gathering room in the house and it's hard enough to keep it neat without adding my own parpahernalia to it. And if you know me, you know I am someone who has a tendency to amass a bit of clutter - nice-looking clutter if I may say so, but still, clutter indeed. Ahem.

Anyhoo, when my beloved Macbook died in August (thankfully leaving behind its hard drive), circumstances lined up in such a way that I "inherited" my 17yo son's computer. (He was building himself a new PC per his dearest birthday wish.) So now I really did need a desk for my desktop computer (as opposed to a kitchen counter where I usually parked my laptop) and I suddenly saw this built-in desk in a whole new light. Sure it's smack dab in the family room where all the FAMILY usually is - but it turns out that's OK. It's hard to sneak away and get stuff done for any length of time on my own, though I had a good run there for a while when Little Bear was napping regularly (I'd work on my laptop in a chair parked next to his crib). But these days if I'm going to sit down and spend some time working (or let's be real, surfing) on my computer, it's going to be accomplished with my kids all around me. So these days - case in point, this day - I'm sitting here at this desk while Little Bear and Earlybird play with trains and Matchbox cars and there may be an episode of Peppa playing in the background ...

(Side note - there is a matching desk on the other side of that window seen in the above photo. This desk is used by Earlybird and that too is getting spruced up for his computer time and homeschooling! More details in a future post.)

Now, before I get on with the tour, I want to note that I am still getting settled in, so things may get moved around a bit. I like how things are working so far though ... and I do find myself sitting here quite comfortably when the opportunity arises!

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So the monitor is parked in the middle, natch. Along the wall I have a month-at-a-glance calendar on the left - and to be completely honest I don't really need a wall calendar but I loved the look of this one - crisp white with LINED boxes and soft gold dots. (Plus, you know me and calendars.) I got it at Staples. On the right side of the monitor is a bulletin board which I will discuss in more depth in a moment. (Martha Stewart brand, also found at Staples.)

I bought the decorative boxes recently at Joann Fabrics where they were on sale and I could hardly resist. The artwork is so pretty and the shades complement the desk nicely. (Speaking of color, another side note - I do love the painted woodwork here. All through the house actually. The former homeowners did a bang-up job choosing paint colors and this green, as well as the green in my kitchen, is probably my favorite - mostly because I know I wouldn't have thought of it myself!)

Inside those boxes I have extra office supplies like pencils, pens, hi-lighters, post-it notes and washi tape. These are the ones I use the most ... my main stash is just beneath in a cabinet - along with stickers, binder clips, glue sticks and clothespins. (See below.)

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(You might recognize that yellow ball as our Michaelmas meteor ... yes, that had to go into immediate hiding once the younger boys wouldn't stop fighting over it. I had forgotten I stashed it in there when I went to take this picture, lol!)

Back to that corner for a moment, though! 

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I also have a small index card bin here (with monthly dividers and a card for each day colored according to the liturgical season) ... favorite mini binder clips are perched on the edge of the bin and my new daily prayer book sits just behind. :)

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If I'm going to be working at my computer for any length of time, I take my Day Designer (my daily planner) with me. I park it in the space to the left of my keyboard. (I usually keep my DD at the kitchen counter so I can check in with it frequently throughout the day.)

Above the monitor is a banner I made recently - an important reminder! - and an overhead light that doesn't work presently. (We're working on getting the right bulb for that fixture and then this whole work area will be much brighter!)

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So a bit about the screenshot, lol, because I know you're probably wondering! That is a very pretty planner I puttered around with on the Blue Sky website. A spiral-bound, monthly-weekly affair one can personalize and then order online. I REALLY don't need another planner, but oh ... isn't this pretty? :)

Ok, to the right of the monitor is my bulletin board and more storage ...

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Fyi that bulletin board is very easy to put up with adhesive tabs on the back. I found some shimmery copper push-pins to use here - to hold some visual inspiration (I tend to hoard lovely greeting cards and so display them with the seasons) as well as a few notes re ~ library password and Bookworm's class schedule, etc. Also here (beneath the owl card) is Little Bear's most recent pediatrician's report which gives his vitals, doctor contact info. and dosage information.

Beneath the board is another pretty storage box (I'm a sucker for these can't you tell?) and in this one I have craft materials for current or upcoming projects. Right now there are vintage Halloween cards to send with Earlybird, a set of paper turkeys for a Thanksgiving project and materials for our Advent countdown. The trick is to remember I put these things here, lol - but it's vital to keep these things out of the line of my younger boys' vision. ;)

In the rectangular basket I keep bills to pay, statements to review, correspondence to answer, a plastic pouch for monthly receipts and my little shopping notebook. Also tucked in here is Mama's Pink Stapler, and all my business/appointment cards held together with a binder clip ...

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Tucked in the very corner of this desk is my Catholic reference book-of-the-moment and two lovely notebooks I bought at the Paper Source recently. Let me show them to you a little closer up ...

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You know how sometimes you find - and I'm talking to my fellow paper-nuts here - a notebook that just works really well for you? The size, shape and feel of it is perfect and you just want to find all kinds of uses for it? Well, this is what happened to me with these little beauties. I bought the blue one a few weeks ago and have turned it into a "to-do" kind of journal. I then ordered the pink one online (did not dare visit that store again in person - too tempting!) and am turning it into a daily joy journal of sorts.

Ok, back to the desk ...

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When I established myself at this desk I realized I needed a writing/work space as well as a computer area. I had Bill move an old table of ours (originally my grandparents') to the right of my desk chair. I like to turn to my planner/binder as I work and this is a fairly efficient set-up for me.

So on that table ...

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A lamp, which casts a very cozy if not very bright light on the area! My favorite page-a-day calendar, my stack of current magazines (piled in order of read first to last, favorites on bottom!), my homekeeping binder, file crate and an in-basket.

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I will have to do a separate post about how I'm using my binder as part of my overall planning system. I think I've finally found a daily-weekly combination that works for me! (Monthly-weekly-seasonal planning in the binder ... as well as my daily journaling ... but the daily nitty gritty planning takes place in my Day Designer.) 

My file crate sits nicely here on the table ...

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Weekly file folders, seasonal file folders, teacher's planbook standing up in front along with printable nature-study calendars and in the way back of my crate I have a folder for all our homeschooling particulars - any correspondence, HSLDA paperwork, town/school paperwork, etc. The in-basket holds things - any old things - I come across through the week that I want to look at during my weekend "office hours." In there right now is last month's journaling pages for review, a couple of pieces of mail to look at, a storytime craft made by Little Bear (not sure how that ended up in there, lol!), my Advent book for perusal and planning, and a "just moved" announcement from a friend.

Above this work table is a framed Tasha Tudor print ...

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My grandparents had this framed for me as a high school graduation gift back in 1987. It brings me such pleasure for so many reasons!

Oh, and while I'm here, let me show you yet another storage box I bought just yesterday and slipped under my work table ...

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This one will be for Christmas planning and prep ... I've already stashed a couple of catalogs in there!

I keep my "briefcase" on the floor ...

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(In here are this month's home learning books ... I try to find all the books we'll be using ahead of time and pull them out as we need them.)

Now, looking around my "corner office" I have a nice view out the window to my left ...

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... although that couch is very tempting!

And there's a small seating area behind me for "client meetings" ... ;)

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The table and chairs were originally my parents' and they are actually patio furniture but I love how they look here and the wicker is surprisingly comfortable. I envision having the boys sit with me here individually to review homework and perhaps talk about the week ahead, expectations etc. For Little Bear it's mostly about sharing Mama's tea and playing with puppets. :)

Above my desk are bookshelves full of the older boys' books and a few special nicknacks ... some of that aforementioned "clutter!"

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I added those pretty wooden leaf lights just the other day - they add a nice touch on gray days and dark autumn evenings!

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And if you're thinking that's a glass of wine right there in that last picture, well ... you'd be guessing right. :)

Last shot ... office motto:

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💙

Well my friends, this was a rather long post and I thank you for stopping by to read and share in my "desk joy!" Aside from needing a little more light, it's working out very well for me. I've been here at the desk all morning (well, since 6 a.m. till now which about two hours later) since Earlybird and I are the only ones up and he's out here in the family room using his iPad and watching PBSKids. I'm on my second - make that third - cup of coffee but it's now time to rally the troops and get our Saturday started! Soccer game and family lunch ... applesauce in the pot and meatloaf in the oven ... much to do and many memories to make!

Hope you all have a great weekend ... see you here again very soon!


Let's Talk ... Pocketbooks!

Aka - purse, handbag, bag, tote, and/or satchel! Whatever you might call it (and what do you call it? I'm curious!) let's talk about the thing you use to lug around all your STUFF when you leave the house. (I was surprised at how many readers didn't recognize the term "pocketbook!" I guess it must be a "Yankee" thing?)

Anyhoo ... here's a little tour of the bag(s) I'm using this Summer. With a toddler in tow these days I need something roomy and sturdy!

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 This is called a "Bean's Reversible Tote, Medium, Bandana Print" ... I can't link it because it appears it is out of stock. Which is a shame because it's a really excellent bag! (Scratch that - here it is - and it's on sale! I was torn between the green and orange ...) I am quite partial to LL Bean tote bags, as longtime readers know. They last FOREVER and are incredibly versatile.

For a wallet, I have been using this handy little thing for ages ...

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 It's a Vera Bradley "zip-around wallet" in Kensington print. It has a pouch for my cell phone which makes it indispensable. I can just grab this (and wrap the loop around my wrist) when I need to run in somewhere quick.

And here's how I pack up my bag ...

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This is the bottom layer if I'm taking Little Bear out with me for an extended period of time. In that case I pack diapers and wipes as well as a change of clothes and baby-safe sunscreen, board books ...

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And here's the rest of the stuff (it holds a lot!) ...

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  • wristlet wallet (phone, change, cards, money, i.d.)
  • tissues, tinted lip balm
  • aforementioned diapers and wipes, hand santizing wipes, board book, sunscreen
  • sippy cup with water (for LB)
  • bubbles
  • my current book
  • shopping notebook and coupons/receipts pouch
  • pocket-size appointment book
  •  blue zippered pouch holds: emergency kit, hand cream, dental floss, hand sanitizing spray, a feminine pad, emery board, antibiotic cream, band-aids, citrus drops, small tube of ibuprofen

 In the top picture you see the outside zip pocket. In here I have my keys and another lip balm. (I can never pack too many lip balms!) I also keep sunglasses *and* reading glasses in there because I need them to read labels, credit slips and such!

***

Now, this is a smaller - but still roomy - Summer tote I bought a few years ago at T.J. Maxx. I use this if I don't need the really big bag - or if it matches my outfit, lol. (I have several tops that coordinate with this bag!)

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And here is a very pretty little cross-body bag I bought several years ago, along with a matching wallet ...

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It reminds me of Cath Kidston, a British designer I love - but it's from Target! I use this if I'm out without kids - running a quick errand, at a hair appt. or some such. For example, this very morning I used it when I met a dear childhood friend for coffee. It held all I needed and nothing more!

So ... there are my Summer pocketbooks in a nutshell. And now let's hear from some friends who sent me thoughts and pictures to share ...

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From Arlene:

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Dawn, I LOVE purses and I love organizing. I like this purse because it has a double zipper, hence the name the Dooney and Bourke Zip Zip Bag. I chose the bright green for spring. I do have to put things inside north south instead of east west to get them to fit. My Vera Wallet, my Dooney chevron stripe make up pouch and my Vera glasses holder which I keep my sunglasses in! I also carry a little paper notebook as I am not good at putting notes on my phone. And my phone fits in its own pocket in this purse but it was not there as I was using it to take the photos.  I have ordered a new Vera fall purse that should arrive this week. 

 Arlene, I love this pocketbook!! I love the vibrant color, the shape, and the way you fit everything in so neatly ... and I would love to see your fall purse sometime! I do love me some Vera! :)

***

From Amy:

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 Fun topic!  Here's a picture of my summer handbag - I do change it out for every season. I LOVE my summer handbag, just purchased this summer. I love the bold navy and white rugby stripes, the preppy red monogram and the fact that it holds a few file folders (work related) along with my travel makeup bag. The fabric is also coated so it can withstand a summer surprise rainstorm. I purchased it at Lands' End.

Amy, this bag is right up my alley! I love roomy totes, navy and white stripes are so summery, and that bright red monogram is wonderful! I have a soft spot for monograms!

***

From Shirley:

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What fun to be able to contribute to one of your blog posts again. I also love talking (and seeing) handbags and what's inside, planners etc. I have 5 handbags in rotation - depending on mood and season of course. Three of them are really good (but not designer) bags and the other two are what I would term as 'fashion handbags'. I love having 'fashion handbags' in my wardrobe as they are inexpensive and oh-so-pretty. 
 
I have just moved into one of my 'Fashion handbags' for the summer. It's a really cute black and white stripy bag. It has a stiff bottom section which is great as it doesn't flop about and fall over and then a fun stripy fabric top - as you can see in the picture.
 
Peeking inside you can see that I really only carry the essentials. This summer we have a few friends from South Africa visiting so there is going to be quite a bit of sightseeing. I don't want a handbag that is too heave to carry around. So I'm keeping it light and only carry around what I really need.
 
Taking a closer look you can see my gorgeous fluro pink Filofax (planner). This is my newest addition to my Filofax or ring- binder planner system. Like my handbags I like to swap my planner into season relevant binders. It's just fun ☺. The fluro pink definitely screams 'summer' to me. On top of my filofax planner is my Windows phone which I love - for the summer it has a cute little floral case.
 
  I have my purse with all my cards and cash (when I carry it), a little makeup bag which has my lip liner, various lipsticks, a touch-up set of make up (although I don't generally wear a huge amount of make up other than mascara and lipstick so I think that might have to come out) and and emery board inside. There is a little tin which has some headache tablets, band Aids and some womanly necessities. Sunglasses {natch} and happily I have had to use them quite a bit this summer already lol - not always the case in England! I have a small bottle of hand sanitizer and some aromatherapy headache gel which I prefer to use before popping a tablet. I also have a small notebook (the little floral one in the picture) which is my shopping list book. This one often lives on the kitchen counter so that I can jot things down as I need them. Then it gets slipped back into my handbag when I walk out the door. 
 
BTW I had to google what a 'pocketbook' was lol. Here in England a pocketbook is simply a little notebook, but in the U.S it seems to refer to a wallet, purse or handbag!
 
Shirley, your bag is gorgeous! And I also love the vivid pink planner as well as the floral phone case! I am still trying to find the "perfect" size planner to take out with me ... I will have to think on that a bit, but you have inspired me! :)

***

From Melissa:

"My Backpack Purse"

I have used the same purse (I call it my backpack) for about 10 years. I had a similar one for 2 years prior to that which I replaced when it fell apart. What happened in my life 12 years ago that caused me to move from years of using a purse like this? 

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You probably have guessed it, a baby.
I didn’t want to tote around a diaper bag all the time, I can’t stand to have a purse hanging off my shoulder (they don’t stay put and I was used to being hands-free!) and small backpacks were in stores everywhere. It was enough to fit a diaper or two and other “baby stuff”. So began my tiny backpack life.

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Here’s a tour of my backpack, right now, without cleaning out anything that may be embarrassing! 

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Zipper #1 – smallest on the front

I rarely use this zipper. I keep in it important things that I don’t need often. 
1. My son’s small brush for cleaning his braces. (from diaper to braces!!)
2. A key change thing that fell off a long time ago.
3. A note about a documentary I read about somewhere.
4. This GREAT macro lens for my phone camera!

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 Zipper #2 – larger zipper on front

I use this zipper a million times a day. This is the spot I have to clean every few days or it gets to be full of all sorts of things, mostly receipts.
1. Wallet. I always use tiny wallets, some cards and that’s all that fits.
2. Lip stuff.
3. Hotel room key (business trip!)
4. A coupon that needs to be moved to my coupon file in the car.
5. Cash. I usually don’t have cash but I got some cash back at a store a few days ago. I sometimes have coins it the bottom of this zipper area but I prefer not to so I try to empty it out often.

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Zipper #3 – front/top large compartment

This rarely gets used. Right now it has some stuff I got for a car trip.
1. Gum and tic tacs. I usually have a small pack of gum in here but the tic tacs are something new, I got hooked on them a few months ago.
2. Lollipop. Lollipop emergencies sometimes happen.
3. Tiny hair clip. For when my bangs end up a disaster and they need to be pulled back.
4. Hotel pen. 
5. Japanese wood pen. LOVE this pen. No one touches this pen but me! It was a Christmas gift from hubby. He always gets me cool stocking stuffers from JetPens.com.
6. Martha Stewart sticky notes which I got from my local recycle store for about 5 cents a pack! I was using them when I was reading one of Ben Hewitt’s masterpieces.

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Middle compartment – closes with a snap

1. This is a huge open space. Right now it’s empty. It usually has a few tissues at the very bottom. I use this area to carry my beverage o’ the day, a book, stuff I need to get from in the house to the car. It’s my main carry area. My keys clasp around the top of the strap and hang securely in this section. I always keep them there so I can always grab my backpack and go without looking for keys or digging around inside a compartment. They hang securely into the compartment so that they don’t jingle when I walk.

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Zipper #4 – tiny zipper inside large middle compartment

This is another rarely used spot. I keep very important things in here.
1. Credit Card Flashlight
2. Finger Flashlight (hmm, there seems to be a trend here!)
3. 2 tampons
4. Ricola drop
5. Elastic (for a MacGyver moment!)
6. Tax exempt form for purchases for my homeschool group
7. A Sacagawea dollar
8. A round piece of fake ivory from a scrimshaw class

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Zipper #5 top/back large compartment

1.Cinq-o dice game that has been in there for years for when we need something to occupy us.
2. Kashi bar
3. Playing cards (box is in tatters. The elastic, item 5 above, belongs around this box to keep the cards in). We use these often.

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 And that’s the grand tour! My backpack usually weighs close to nothing, light as a feather on my back. It gets heavy when I have a drink and a book stuffed in there. About once a year I think about getting a new purse, but then I realize that this one still suits my needs 100% and is in great condition. Someday I will get back to using cute purses again!

Melissa, first of all - wow! Thank you so much for all these great details! I love that you outlined all the things you take with you in your bag. I appreciate these kinds of lists because they help me think about what I might want to take out myself! And you truly stick to that old "adage" - keep nothing you don't find to be beautiful or useful. I enjoyed the stories behind your stuff!

:)

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Well, my friends - I hope you've all had fun on our pocketbook tour! This is a favorite subject of mine! I am very grateful to Arlene, Amy, Shirley and Melissa for taking the time to share their bags with us ... and I am very happy to know I am not alone in my pocketbook obsession! I have many bags to choose from so it's hard to rationalize a new purchase, but with every season comes a "tug" to look for a new bag. Something that will reflect the mood and serve the needs of the season. For many of us, our bags stand in as a little "home away from home" while out and about ... and if you are a mom (or grandmom) you know that everyone will be looking to you when someone needs something ... a band-aid, a hand wipe, a distraction from a long drive or waiting room visit!

Always good to be prepared is my motto!

***

Enjoy your Tuesday evening, everyone! See you here again very soon ...


New Email Address!

Well, not new exactly - just not wrong! Lol, I am sorry if you had trouble sending me your pocketbook photos ... It seems I mis-typed the email address in my previous post. You can reach me here at:

bysunandcandlelight AT comcast DOT net.

Many thank to Melissa for bringing this to my attention!

Enjoy your evening, my friends ...

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Here's a peek at my lovely hydrangea bush for your trouble. It needs pruning, I know, but it's blooming like crazy this year! :)

See you all again very soon ...


A Pocketbook Post!

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Good Tuesday morning, my friends!

In yesterday's post I mentioned, very briefly, that I'd like to do a post about Summer Pocketbooks, but if you didn't read all the way to the end of the post (which was all about rhubarb crisp), you might have missed it!

(So here I am this morning to mention it again.)

Basically, I love to talk about bags (pocketbooks, totes, satchels, etc.), and what-all we might keep in there we women, mothers who work hard inside and/or outside the home ... and to my mind, each season has its own style of bag. So I'd love to hear from others about their own bags in words and/or pictures! Do you use the same favorite bag all year round or do you change them up with the seasons? Are in the market for a new purse, perhaps? Is that elusive perfect-bag still out there somewhere? 

Well ... if you'd like to send me something for the pocketbook post, you may do so at:

bysunandcandlelight AT comcast DOT net

I will run the post on Monday so you have until Sunday night to send me something, if you wish. I do hope you'll join the discussion!

Now, the bird pictured above has absolutely nothing to do with pocketbooks, but I wanted to show you all the new species we spotted at the feeder yesterday! It's a rose-breasted grosbeak and it's the first time we've seen one here at the new house. He's a really good-sized bird - about the size of a robin, with a thick beak and vivid markings. He ate well and peered in at Little Bear and myself as we had our afternoon snack ... kindly, he allowed me to get several shots before he headed back to the woods.

:)

Ok then, I will be off on my way, but I do hope to hear from you and I wish you all a very pleasant Tuesday ...

See you here again very soon!


A New Season of Tea ... on Tuesdays!

(But sometimes Wednesdays.)

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Happy MidWeek, my friends!

I'm so happy to get back to my weekly tea posts ... I really had such fun with them last year! My schedule this fall is a bit busier than it was last year, but I'll try not to let that deter me ... in fact, I think I'll need that weekly "tea hour" all the more!

So my "tea" today focused on cold cider, not hot tea, in honor of Johnny Appleseed Day (and the mild weather). I took my mug and goodies out to the deck to enjoy alongside the gusty wind and shifting sun ...

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The cider was so crisp and tart-sweet, just right for this lovely fall day.

Now, when I "take tea" I like to gather up some fun and pretty things to look over or maybe just look at. :)

Today I had a few new books to peruse ...

For EB, two B&N clearance specials:

Squirrel's Fall Search and Goonight, Mouse ... sweet, autumnal animal stories.

And for me, a library find: The Happiest Mom ... mostly because I loved the look of the book!

... as well as ...

A recent Amazon splurge: Williams-Sonoma Family Meals: Creating Traditions in the Kitchen ... because it's just gorgeous and filled with great recipe ideas.

Rounding out my tea "atmosphere" today was a lovely pocketbook that once belonged to my grandmother. I just love the vibrant embroidery, set against the dark chocolate background ...

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 (And I couldn't help but notice how nicely my new nail polish ("Angora Cardi") matched my "new" purse.)

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 :)

My friends, if you're taking tea, what's your brew of choice these days? Do you like the same thing year-round, or do you change it up according to season? I'm always looking for new "tea" ideas!

Have a great night, everyone ... see you here again very soon!



Fall Fowers (of one kind and another)

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An embroidered floral applique, so lovely in rich autumn shades.

It inspired me to make myself a pretty pair of bags!

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A simple ecru tote and an olive green messenger bag. Both are (well) made of a light cotton canvas, and I got them both - as well as the floral patches - at JoAnn's Fabrics.
(What don't I get there these days, lol?)
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And before I go, here area some true fall flowers ...
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Cheerfully gracing our front walkway!

You know, it's wise to appreciate all the glorious colors at this time of year, because before long they'll be dimmed by winter wind and darker days ...
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Have a great weekend, my friends! Take care of yourselves and your loved ones, and I will see you here again very soon ...

**

An early touch of fall ...

Good morning, my friends!

So I stopped in at JoAnn Fabrics this weekend and was very happy to find a wonderful sale on fall decor ... I also happened to have several coupons to use so I splurged a little!

First, below you see a new tablecloth I got for the picnic table ...

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I love how it coordinates with the chair cushions and planters, and I adore the folksy pattern! It's made from a flannel-backed vinyl, so it's great for the outdoors - and crafts, snacks and nature study etc. on the deck.

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I also purchased these pretty clip-on silk sunflowers ...

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They were about a dollar apiece. :)

This autumnal table runner also caught my eye ...

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The print's a bit "70s" but I like it!

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I also bought an olive green canvas messenger bag and a pretty embroidered floral patch to iron on it.

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Won't that make a nice "homemade" fall bag?

And finally, and this has nothing to do with fall decor, but I wanted to share ...

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Bill brought me flowers on Saturday, just before Crackerjack's party.

Aren't they lovely?

~*~

Well my friends, thanks so much for stopping by and letting me share a few early fall touches around my home. And thank you for all the wonderful "work at home" comments as well! I'm really enjoying reading your responses, and I hope you all are too!

Have a great Tuesday, everyone ~ see you here again very soon!



Happy Holiday Weekend!

Ok, technically, the holiday weekend doesn't officially begin for oh, another 24 hours or so ... but Bill has taken tomorrow off, so we're starting our holiday early! And this makes me so happy ... as does finishing up Earlybird's science fair project today! So I thought I'd pop in to say hello, and share a few photos with you all on this fine Thursday evening.

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My new summer bag. I'm in love with those colors!

Magnifying tree

Earlybird conducting "tree research" today.

Basket of school supplies

I love how appealing school supplies look "basking" in the sun.

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Our little scamps - in the middle of a "friendly disagreement."

(Note the terse ears.)

Catfight 2

Look away, Mother. You don't want to see this.

And how sweet are these pansies?

Pansy face

And one more thing ... I found this bracelet today while I was cleaning a drawer in my bedroom. Bookworm (and Bill) bought this for me at a craft fair when my firstborn was ... oh, two maybe three?

Mama bracelet

It's quite dingy and worn, but that's only because I wore it ALL the time for many years. It sure brought a smile to my face to see that bracelet again. :)

***

Well, my friends, I hope you've all had a good day, and I hope your evening is stretching out nicely before you. I'm going to sign off till tomorrow ... but thank you so much for stopping by. I'll see you again very soon!



Marketing Binder ~ Test Run!

Test run 1

Well, I took my new marketing binder on the road with me today as I ran my myriad errands ... and I'm pleased to report it performed very well! :)

Since my current pocketbook was too small to hold the binder, I had to switch up bags. (Which was fine ~ I was in the mood for a "spring switch!") So I chose a tote I haven't used in some time, but was roomy enough to hold the binder and a wallet (as well as other sundries commonly found in any mom's bag). This bag would also be roomy enough to carry my month-at-a-glance binder, should I need to have that with me.

The nice thing about this set is, for one thing, the two pieces match - and for another, I can use a detachable strap and wear the wallet around my body as I shop.

Test run 2

Now, are you ready for some "action shots," lol?

{You are all so good to humor me.}

So here's my binder (and bag) on the car seat next to me ...

Test run 8

And here's my binder (and bag) in my shopping cart ...

Test run 7

(Note: The child safety belt is looped through the bag straps and secured - also, I'm wearing my wallet on me. I've learned my lesson in this area.)

I did get a few strange looks as I took those pictures (though I tried to play it off like I was just checking my email). Nobody asked me about my binder - however, I noticed some second looks in the deli line. ;)

So yes, the binder worked well - my coupons were handy and easy to manage, and it was nice having my list right here in this spot, too. But I realized I need a place for receipts. I don't have room in my wallet for stashing receipts, and I don't like to just pitch them in my bag (which, ahem, is what I usually do). So I bought this "gusseted binder pocket" at Staples today for just this purpose. I'll keep it in the very back of the binder.

Test run 3

I also found my shopping list pages were too thin to withstand the flipping back and forth between sections. (I was using regular Mead lined paper to start with.) So I bought some Martha Stewart "project planner" filler paper to use instead. Not only is the MS paper much sturdier, but I like the design very much:

Test run 6

The design works for me because I tend to write my food list on the lefthand side of my page and use the right side for non-food stops - everything from the library to Petsmart to Michaels Arts & Crafts ...

And speaking of Michaels, I also spent a good deal of time there today, picking out some Lenten craft materials. (And using up some Christmas gift cards while I was at it.) I can't wait to show (and tell) you all about that ... maybe tomorrow if I have the time!

So that's all for now, folks ... but I hope this post was informative (or maybe amusing) to some. :) Time now to make supper for the troops ... and settle in for a nice quiet Saturday night. I hope you all have a good one ... I will see you again very soon!


Well, this was quite unexpected ...

Just look what found its way home!

Pocketbook!1

Yes, that's my "summer" purse - the one that was stolen Memorial Day weekend! And you'll never guess what? Everything is still inside - not one thing is missing!

It's all a bit jumbled (obviously, it's been rifled through) and a couple of things are crushed, but literally, not even one coupon is missing!

Pocketbook!2

So here's what happened ...

Yesterday afternoon the phone rang and I didn't recognize the caller - now, usually when I don't recognize a number I let the call go to the machine, but for some reason I decided to pick up. The person on the other end of the line told me they were calling from a local discount store and that they had my pocketbook there - it had "turned up" in their store!

I was stunned. Stunned! Literally, it took me a moment to find my voice!

I asked them if it was ruined (for some reason I pictured it rain-soaked and tire-marked, lol) but the woman said, no, it seemed to be all right. She asked if I had a yellow wallet (to which I answered, yes) and said that she found my contact information on my checkbook. 

And there was me ... still stunned!

So I arranged to have Bill pick it up on his way home from work, and he did ... and now, as you see above, it is back in my possession again.

Crazy, right?

My thinking is that the woman who took my purse made a beeline for this store next and - realizing I had no cash in my bag - just walked it into the store, stuffed it somewhere, and then targeted someone else. 

And now, this many weeks later, some store clerk found my purse - relatively unharmed, and still totally intact - and now I have it back again!

I'd say it was an answer to a prayer, but I honestly didn't pray to get my pocketbook back. I figured it was long gone. I did however pray for peace of mind over this ... I was really shaken up by this experience. No, I wasn't mugged, or harmed in any way - my boys weren't even with me when it happened - and I didn't even see it happen, but still ... it really did unsettle me. It left me with an underlying anxiety that ruined my sleep and gave me palpitations for days. I felt guilt (and frustration!) over the endless hoops we had to jump through to protect our assets and secure our credit. The first time I went back to "my" supermarket I had a mild panic attack. I walked in just as easy as you please, and then my deli guy (the nicest man) asked how I was doing (having heard of the theft), and as soon as we finished talking I felt that adrenaline surge throughout my limbs and that restless feeling of just wanting/needing to leave; I finished my shopping quickly and got back home. The next couple of weekends were similar, but now everything feels normal again. I do feel peace and I do feel resolved (since the thief was ultimately identified and brought to justice) but I AM much more cautious with my belongings these days. This was a hard lesson learned ...

Don't be careless with your personal belongings and safety! Don't live in fear, but do be smart about things. No matter where you are - your comfort zone is not an impenetrable bubble. My little bubble got popped that weekend, that's for sure ...

*~*

Well anyways, there's my little story for today! I figured you'd all like to hear what hopefully will be the last chapter in my "pocketbook saga," lol. 

So for now, I wish you all a safe and smart Thursday ...

And I will see you all again very soon!

:)


Where do you keep the kids' "school" stuff?

Schoolbooks2 

And by "school stuff" I mean the textbooks, workbooks, notebooks (etc.) your kids need in a given week of learning at home. Their curriculum, I guess is what I'm getting at. Do you use a shelf, a cubbie, a bin or maybe a bag, as shown above?

I happened to be taking pictures in the learning room today and I thought I'd show you this spot - I had just neatened it up and it looked bright and cheery. :) Here is where I display seasonal picture books and just below, are parked the three "school" bags. (Lol, I feel compelled to put "school" in quotes. We're not trying to "be" or "do" school - we like the term home learners - but it's just easier to phrase it this way.) On the left we have Bookworm's bag in green, Crackerjack's in red, and finally, Earlybird's on the right in blue. (Isn't it convenient my boys all favor three different, primary colors?) By the way, their real names are embroidered on the other side of each bag. ;)

I should say I'm pretty sure I've shown you all their bags before but it's surely been a while, and I know I have a fair amount of new readers - plus we've only just started using the bags again after quite a long break. Last year we used the baskets in the cubbies shown beneath the bench - but they just got way too heavy! Now those baskets hold paper, coloring books and other miscellaneous softcover books.

We started this year by simply stacking the books on the top of the bench in three separate piles, but that got rather unruly. I finally decided to haul out those old Bean totes (cleaning out the materials left inside from a couple of years ago!) and neatly stacked the boys' materials inside. They work great - though Bookworm's bag is a pretty tight fit, I must say!

Bookworm and Crackerjack's bags hold their Oak Meadow materials and a few other books. Earlybird's bag holds a combination of books, workbooks, magazines, drawing and writing pads, puzzles and picture cards and a big nature encyclopedia. I also have a bag - on the floor to the left of the bench is a large tote which holds all my educational materials: manuals, teacher editions, catalogs, etc. 

Now, truth be told, we have books all over the house - in every room except the bathroom, lol! We have two bookcases in the living room - one holds mostly novels, the other holds mostly reference books (science, history, etc.). We have a bookcase in the learning room which holds all our nature-related books (field guides, idea books and the like), and there is a large bookcase in the family room that holds Figaro's cage as well as Earlybird's trucks, our religion books, and family dvd's. Quite an eclectic collection in that spot!

Earlybird's room has only baskets of books, but the older boys have - oh, what is it now? - three or four bookcases in their bedroom. These hold their ginormous library of personal reading - as well as plenty of Lego creations and video games.

In our basement we also have boxes and boxes of stored books - and they are in desperate need of sorting/clearing out. One of my spring goals is to pare down our book collection drastically. I should probably start now though, if I have even a whisper of hope of getting that chore accomplished!

So back to the bags for a moment - they are working well for us right now. The older boys do their assignments up at the kitchen island - I tend to stack their books on the counter in front of them before they dig in. As they finish a subject, the books go back in the bags. 

Earlybird and I work at the dining room table where we can really spread out. And with him, less clutter the better. I set out one activity at a time and (as much as possible) clean up after we're done before we move onto something else. Too much visual stimulation is distracting for EB.

OK, this post has grown VERY long, so I'd best wrap things up. I hope you've all had a nice Tuesday. The flurries have passed and now we have clear skies at sundown. The light is very pretty glinting off the trees and sparkling on the ice. I find myself itching to take pictures. ;)

As for tomorrow ~ well, they've downgraded the projected snowfall amounts to 9-12 inches (from 10-15) ... thank goodness for small favors, right?

Have a wonderful evening, and thanks so much for stopping by. I will see you all again very soon ...


My Pretty Purple Bag

Prettynewbag3

So of course you knew I was going to show you what I got at The Paper Store this morning. ;)

This is one of my favorite places to shop - it's like a candy store for women! If I'm shopping for a mom or an aunt or a sister or a friend, I know to come here and I'll easily find a perfect gift. In addition to the gift card from my parents, I also happened to have a birthday coupon the store sent me *and* some Hallmark reward points to cash in. Needless to say I was well armed and ready to shop!

And what a fun time I had perusing all the goodies on display, deciding what to buy for myself! Well, as I've mentioned before, I have quite a weakness for bags ...

Prettynewbag1

And I kind of have this thing for purple lately, too ...

It was the lovely color that caught my eye first, but the embroidery really drew me in. It's a very generously sized tote - with a pocket on the inside as well as the outside. It easily fits all my "stuff" ... the items I lug around with me, to work on when I have a spare minute or five: my journal, clipboard, planner/binder, current book and some magazines and catalogs too.

As you might guess, I'm very happy with my new "birthday" bag. :)

After I got home from my shopping, Bill and Earlybird ran out to pick up some pizza for lunch. We're hosting a "Greek Mythology Night" later this week for our monthly homeschool activity night, and we found a local pizza place that specializes in Greek foods. This was a "trial run" of sorts. I've been staying away from pizza lately, but I tried a little spinach pie that was absolutely delicious. We're definitely getting some of that for our gathering!

Well, I hope you've all had a nice Monday. As I finish up this post, I'm smelling the soup cooking away in the kitchen - it smells SO good! No homemade bread for us tonight, though - we waited too long to start the machine. Pilsbury crescent rolls will just have to do. ;)

Have a great night, my friends ... thanks for stopping by! I'll see you all again very soon ...