Birds Feed

Advent Tea, Week 3 ~ Finding Joy in Creation ❤

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Hello and happy weekend, my friends! Welcome to another Advent Tea ... may I pour you a cup of something tasty and warm? :)

Well, our third week of Advent has arrived and the pink candle has been lit ... Oh Joy! And you know how they say "all good things come to those who wait?" Well, that old adage is perhaps never more true than during the season of Advent, because in these special weeks we are a people who wait and wonder ... enjoying the here and now, yet knowing there is a greater joy that lies ahead ... 

Which is why this mug seemed perfect for today's Tea ...

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:)

Now, I am not a patient person by nature, but like most moms I've had plenty of opportunities to work on developing this particular habit. I've learned that life is easier when patience is a daily practice, not just an admirable (if abstract) idea or something left to people with loftier ambitions and/or holier lives than mine. Patience is perhaps the greatest of all virtues when one is a parent ... and if I may so, especially when one is a special needs parent. (Progress can be slow ... perfection is overrated ... patience is essential.)

But whether we're born with a patient nature or not, the world-at-large rushes us all right along, urging us onward with its message of now-now-nowInstant, immediate, super fast results ... no waiting necessary!

If we're aware of this influence we can recognize when it is affecting us falsely or adversely. It's good to pause and ask, whose time clock are we following anyway? Sometimes time is of the essence, but it's important, I think, to remind ourselves to appreciate the here and now ... to savor the wait if you will. Learning to be patient is an excellent exercise in humanity - and humility - and I think one of the greatest teachers of patience (aside from our children!) is nature. As you all know I love nature! I respect its cleverness and consistency. It doesn't rush ... it always has a plan. A plan that has worked for ... well, eons. It glories in every turn of every season, knowing everything happens in its own time ...

"Adopt the pace of nature. Her secret is patience." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Case in point - yesterday was brutally cold with temps barely in the teens, and this morning it's snowing! It's the Saturday before Christmas ... and the weather is just not getting on board with my to-do list! But admittedly, it is doing my spirit a world of good. Because it's been a long - and, frankly tiring - week. We've all been running here, there and everywhere, getting our busy-ness accomplished. But now nature is advising me to sit back and take it slow. Leave the errands for later. Breathe in, breathe out ... maybe let Amazon Prime do the leg work today.

Even my page-a-day calendar is sending me a message ...

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So, ok. Balance is necessary. We can't always rush and we can't always lag ... managing my time and energy accounts is an-going #lifegoal for me! 

But ... that's a topic to explore further, in the new year perhaps. For now, let's get back to the here and now. We're deep in Advent, halfway through December, and it's snowing ... I'm happy in a well-insulated snow globe today. :)

Here's a look outside my window this morning ...

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So glad we made sure to fill our feeders yesterday!

As I've been describing, 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. So in our first week of Advent we explored the wonder of earth and sky, and in the second week it was the serenity of plants and trees ... and this week we are finding joy in the beautiful wildlife with which God has graced our earth ...

And as we've ambled along our journey, our Advent Garden has slowly been coming to life ...

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Stones and soil were topped with moss and trees ... and now we spy a pretty deer in this tiny forest. Meanwhile, outside there is much evidence of creation all around!

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We've been enjoying a snowy December here in New England and the boys have fun checking for tracks left behind by the creatures who call our habitat home. Mostly it's the usual suspects, but you never know ... sometimes there's something new to investigate!

Now from my pictures you can probably guess we live in a woodsy area, and that's true. We live next to a state forest and our town, while suburban, has old agricultural roots. Our own property is not quite a farm per se - though we are sort of heading that way! This past spring we began keeping hens and I must tell you - they just bring us such joy! The fresh eggs are wonderful, but our girls are such dears ...

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I do relish my "farm chores" such as they area ... walking out to the hen pen to bring them food and checking their water. 

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Good morning, pretty girls!

And how fun to gather eggs with my fellas ... we're still getting several eggs a day even though we were warned they would stop for the winter. Not sure what our girls' game plan is but we're thrilled with our daily harvest!

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I love to tour the corners of our yard and I especially love the mornings when the sun is just rising in the east ...

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Those are my neighbor's horses - aren't they lovely? They also own three goats, six dogs, a flock of ducks and lots of chickens! They are the very nicest people, too. I took this picture yesterday morning as I was visiting the hens. I was channeling a little bit of Tasha Tudor here, walking about my own homestead and tending to my critters, the domestic and the wild. (Only I was in a parka and pajama pants ... not quite Tasha's pretty red cloak!)

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We regularly set out several types of food - black oil seed, suet cakes and nyjer seed for the finches. We use a variety of feeder designs - both tubes and trays - and I throw out seed on the deck every day ...

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Yes, my beloved squirrels get fed right alongside their feathered friends - I don't play favorites! (Well, except when it comes to predators like hawks, owls and foxes. Those creatures I shoo off as best I can.)

But speaking of Tasha Tudor, this is a page from the beautiful book, Forever Christmas, the chapter called, "The Animals' Christmas" ...

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This is a wonderful book, full of old-fashioned goodness and gentle reminders to slow down and let nature be our guide. Tonight we're watching the video Take Peace, which is a tour of Tasha's Corgi Cottage at Christmas. And then perhaps we'll catch the latest episode of "The Great American Baking Show." (Anyone else watching that?) 
 
So yes, there is much joy in creation to be found, all around us and even right in our own backyards - but it's awfully bitter today so let's head back inside! I'm greeting you in the kitchen, wearing my favorite winter apron, a gift from my parents ...

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I find such joy in cooking for my family, especially in preparing seasonal foods! And though I love baking from scratch, sometimes you just have to cut a few corners, right? For example ...

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Last Tuesday was the feast of St. Lucia and once again I did not make the traditional saffron buns as I'd hoped to - BUT! I did throw some cinnamon rolls into a tube pan, baked them, glazed them, decorated them, and then set them aflame. Voila - feast day morning joy!

More joy in our week ... Earlybird celebrated his 15th birthday on Wednesday! Yes, this little boy is now FIFTEEN years old ...

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(That was a book about trains, his FAVORITE subject. He was very happy to receive a couple of books about the planets as well.) And I thought this birthday card was rather fitting - true in every word but also, such a lovely woodland design!

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Ok, since I'm keeping you so long, how about another cup of something hot?

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Snow days call for cocoa, don't you think? Tea soothes me, coffee revives me ... and cocoa brings me joy! And ding-ding-ding ... this is another one of those giveaway gifts! Yes, there will be a tin of this "Warm Me Up Chocolate & Cream Cocoa" in my Winter Comforts Basket! (More giveaway details at the bottom of this post.)

Oh, and that pretty blue notebook sitting beneath the tin?

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There will also be one of these in that giveaway basket! I have strong opinions on notebooks, and this is a notebook I just love! It's so nice to write in - smooth paper, soft lines - with a solid spiral-binding. I also have a pink one (that says, "Create a little magic everyday") that I'll use for a new diary project, but I use this particular blue notebook for my "to-dos, weekend plans and projects." I know I've been asked to post a little more about how I use this notebook and I will ... soon. :)

But since we're talking about notebooks and planners for a moment, let me give you a quick glimpse at a new planner I picked up recently ...

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(If you're thinking I might have a bit of a planner problem ... well, you might be right.)

I found this Woodland Tales planner at Barnes & Noble - it was the last one on the shelf, but I've also seen it online. I liked the layout and just could not resist the charming design! It's a smaller size - nice for the pocketbook - and it's specifically for week-at-a-glance planning. This will be used in addition to my Day Designer and my master planning binder ... and all that too, will be blogged about after the holidays!

Now, getting back to Advent, how about a look around our Christmas room (aka the library) where a woodland theme reigns ...

Starting with the children's nativity set where "all creation waits ... "

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You can just imagine the kinds of stories that get played out in this corner!

This display is set up on a table behind our loveseat and stretched out along the wall behind that is one of my favorite Christmas books, Woodland Christmas ...

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A lovely (and long) fold-out book that tells the tale of the animals preparing for Christmas. It is an Advent countdown too - with flaps on one side and labels for all the creatures on the other. I highly recommend this book if your children love animals! The drawings are soft and pretty but quite realistic.

Now our Christmas tree has a woodland theme going as well ...

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A ribbon of gold encircles the whole tree - featuring a holly-bedecked red squirrel! - as well as several strands of wooden cranberries. We've collected woodland ornaments since we were first married and some of these ornaments we've had for many years. (The birds above are from when I was little!) The reindeer lantern was new this year, though - the boys found it in one of their Advent pockets last week. :)

Even my daily Advent reading has a nature theme this year ...

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All Creation Waits - the very theme of our Advent! - has been a wonderful read so far. Every chapter (25 in all) presents a short meditation on one of God's creatures as it adapts for the long cold winter ahead - never fearing the darkness, knowing there is a new beginning ahead. Accompanied by gorgeous woodcut illustrations ... these reflections are certainly a new take on Advent, but they resonate deeply with me. 

And while we're speaking of books - I am so thrilled for this one! I stumbled across it at B&N yesterday ...

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Yes, a little early Christmas present to myself! Earth Psalms is a weekly devotional reflecting on how God speaks to us through nature. I am beyond excited to read it this year and I don't even feel badly I splurged on myself! (It was 50% off!) Now, I did offer to wrap it up and place it under the tree, but Bill let it slide ... ;)

Another early gift, this one from my husband who knows how much St. Francis means to me ... 

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Such a lovely wooden rosary bracelet. Something comfortable - and comforting - to wear every day. :)

Now, before I go (and yes I am planning to wrap this huge post up!) I'd like to share pictures of my very favorite animals of all - our cats, Archie and Oliver. It gives me such satisfaction and true joy to care for these two sweet boys ...

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Oliver by the heating element, tucked behind the loveseat in the library ...

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And Archie, snuggled up next to the chimney in the dining room. :)

**

Well my friends, as always I thank you for stopping by and I leave you with my wish that each of you are filled with joy, wherever you might find it. I hope your weekend brings you the rest and relaxation you need ... snow or shine, whatever challenges you might face, whatever comforts you crave ... may your time be full of the things that mean most. :)

I'll be back again on Monday - we've a week more of Advent Teatimes to go! I may even double up some of our friends as more readers share their cups with me ...

But oh, yes! So about that giveaway ...

At the start of the year I will be sending out a "Winter Comforts Basket" to one lucky reader. This basket will be filled with little random seasonal comforts and joys. I've been giving you "sneak peeks" each week during my Friday tea posts, and there will be one or two other surprises, as well. To enter the giveaway, all you have to do is send me a picture of your favorite cup or mug - whatever you use to drink your beverage of choice in the cold winter months. Please email me your picture(s) with description here ...

drhanigan AT gmail DOT com

I will share your submission in one of my daily teatime posts and then on New Year's Eve I will announce a winner!

I hope to hear from you! In the meantime, take care of yourselves and your loved ones ...

I will see you all here again very soon!


Playing Catch Up!

Hello my friends, and Happy Tuesday! And for that matter ... Happy June! :)

Gosh, it's been a while since I've posted ... and I'm sorry about that. Everything is fine here, we're just extra busy as the year winds down and a few computer issues have slowed me down a bit, too. I hope to find more blogging time this Summer because I have an awful lot of ideas and things I want to talk with you all about!

But for today, I'd like to play a little catch up and share some pictures from the past few weeks, as this will give you a glimpse of what's been going on around here ... most significantly ...

THIS!

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Our baby chicks arrived three weeks ago! Aren't they sweet?

We ordered six one-day-old pullets and they sent us seven. Unfortunately, one of them didn't make it so we now have the original six. They are doing quite well, I'm happy to report! They are getting so big and Bill and the boys are working hard to finish the coop and pen! 

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We've got a few more weeks to get it done ...

Here are my "Full Flower Moon" cupcakes from a couple of weeks ago. We baked these as part of our seasonal homeschooling rhythm. (That week's theme was "Spring Flowers.") You probably saw these if you follow me on Facebook, but they're too pretty not to share again! :)

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More flowers from the spring garden .... also gathered during "Spring Flower" week.

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I love pretty vases and old pitchers, but nothing is more charming than a plain old Mason jar. :)

Here is a lovely pond in our neighborhood ...

Morning pond

On this walk I had Little Bear with me as you can see. We were saying "Good Morning" to the geese and frogs and turtles and blackbirds ... and whoever else we could hear on this breezy May day!

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Some of the pretty purple phlox that bloomed last month ...

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Oh, and here is Little Bear's birthday cake! My mum made the cake and I supplied the trucks and "rock wall." Mum added Oreo crumbs to make the construction site!

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And here is a close up of a braided rug set we purchased for our kitchen - I am so in love with these colors! Bill and I stopped in at a moving sale up the street and I just could not pass these rugs up. (Two runners and an under-table rug.) They look great in the kitchen! Braided rugs just say "cozy home" to me ...

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Thankfully, Archie approved the purchase ... ;)

Kitchen table with peonies

The largest rug fit our breakfast nook perfectly! It means a little more vacuuming, but I'm ok with that. :)

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Oh and did I mention, Bookworm (our college boy) is home? He arrived mid-May and is with us till the end of August. It is SO good to have him home - to have ALL my chicks back in the nest! And of course, Little Bear is just soaking up all the extra big-brother attention. 💙

But back to the garden ...

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I love this little herb-and-flower patch, which I'm hoping to expand this summer. The yellow flowers are Yarrow, and the purpley things are Coral Bells, which the hummingbirds absolutely adore. They drink deep from those tiny pink blooms!

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On the other end of the scale - here are my gigantic pink blooms, our lovely Peonies! I wish they would linger longer ... they are the most photogenic flowers and do they ever smell heavenly!

But my Foxgloves are really stealing the show this Spring ...

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Foxgloves pink

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Foxgloves are biennial so they didn't bloom last year and the year before that was their first so they were fairly small. This year though, boy oh boy are they doing well! (And to think, we almost pulled them up thinking they were weeds!) Also known as Fairy Thimbles (or properly, Digitalis purpurea), this plant is one of my all-time favorites ... it reminds me of Beatrix Potter and Tasha Tudor ... a sweet, old-fashioned, country cottage kind of flower!

One last shot, here they are this morning under our glorious American flag ...

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(Happy Flag Day!)

Ok, and finally, a little more wildlife news ... we have a woodchuck family living in our backyard!

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This is the mother - who, I think, wintered under our old shed on the hill and then spent the spring making herself a few dens here and there around our property. (We'd see her hurrying across the yard, with her mouth full of leaves!) Well, yesterday we watched her and her THREE babies enjoying our plentiful (organic, weedy) grass! They are so cute I can't stand it!

This picture doesn't really show them that well, but it was hard to get a picture through the sunroom window ...

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I can't wait to watch them this Summer!

We also have a red squirrel family that visits our deck every day for the seed I scatter ... there can be up to six squirrels at a time! There are also lots of chipmunks and gray squirrels, of course. The usual songbirds - goldfinches, chickadees, titmice, mourning doves, woodpeckers, wrens, cardinals - and a pair of HUGE ravens that are so incredibly majestic.

Oh, and a gorgeous fox trotted through our yard the other night as we sat in the kitchen nook enjoying our dinner. We have never seen one before!

(And yes, we are planning to keep our chickens in a pen! They will be allowed to roam "free" with supervision.)

***

Well my friends, that's all I have time for right now! I hope you enjoyed seeing these pictures and I thank you so much for joining me. I can't promise when my next post will be up, but I hope it won't be too long ... I would like to do a Q&A roundup and show you all how the Day Designer is working for me now that I've used it for a whole two weeks. :)

I do hope you are all enjoying your June so far - has your Summer begun yet? - and I wish you all a pleasant evening (or day as the case might be) ...

See you here 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!


Scenes of Spring ...

Happy Monday, my friends! I hope your week is off to a great start. :)

Are you enjoying the unfolding of Spring as much as I am? Oh my goodness, it's just one happy surprise after another ... and yet there's such a comforting sense of familiarity as well. This is what I love about the seasons ... there's so much joy to be found on so many levels! I've been out and about taking pictures like crazy (with my phone, that is - unfortunately my camera is on the fritz) and I'd like to share them this morning if I may ... 

Purple and white crocus

Prettiest little crocus I've ever seen - love how these tough little blossoms push their way through all manner of leaf litter and rocky soil.

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Forsythia branches for the nature shelf ... they keep getting moved as Oliver (the cat) keeps finding them and knocking them over.

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 Some inspiring library books - we're planting lots of flowers this year!

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Remember that lovely rhubarb I showed you last week? I finally got around to using it on Sunday ... Bill was outside chopping wood (a felled tree to make way for an apple orchard!) and I had soup simmering on the stove ... the boys were all around the house and the windows were open and it all felt so homey and good. Just as a Sunday should. :)

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Bill had lots of helpers once the "felling" part was over. :) And I'm busy googling "things to do with fallen trees and branches" on Pinterest. Can't let all that good wood go to waste!

Light it up blue

 This is our blue light for the month of April (Autism Awareness) ...

Bunny chocolate

This is Mama's Easter chocolate, because it's white. :) I finally succumbed to temptation and had a few nibbles with my tea ...

Spring pajamas

Remember those "pretty spring pajamas" I mentioned in relation to the washing machine fiasco earlier this month? Well thankfully they made it out in one piece, and surprisingly none the worse for wear. I love them so much - the print is called, "Dawn Floral." :)

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Final photo - we had a lovely sunrise visit from a pair of mallards the other morning! The Mrs. was quite brave and waddled about the yard while the Mr. enjoyed the temporary vernal pond in our front woods. I rushed from window-to-window snapping pictures and I think I startled her because she very suddenly ran back towards the pond and the pair of them took off into the sunrise ...

Well my friends, I must be off, but I hope to see you here again in a few days. I'll try to have a housekeeping post up later this week ... or maybe a file crate post as I'm working on the new folders right now ... or perhaps something for Earth Day, St. George's Day or Arbor Day? :)

So please stay tuned!

And thanks so much for stopping by ~ Blessings on your day!


Seeds, Snowflakes and a Cake for St. Agnes

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Well, in the midst of all this journal talk, life at home is marching on to a familiar and happy beat. Yesterday was the Feast of St. Agnes as well as National Squirrel Appreciation Day ... representing two sides of our family's seasonal life - liturgical and natural. For the squirrels we made a seed craft, and for St. Agnes, we contemplated the prayer card handed out at last Sunday's Mass and made a snowflake cake in her honor ...

Naturally, I have pictures to share!

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I had some wooden snowflakes leftover from Advent so, when I was thinking about making  "critter treats" with the kids for Squirrel Appreciation Day, I remembered those snowflakes ... and I thought, hmmm. That could work. And, as it happens (according to one legend anyway), snowflakes are known as "St. Agnes Flowers" ...

So, there you go!

To keep the craft kid- and critter-friendly, I made up some homemade paste. Then we smeared those snowflakes with the paste ...

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And stuck those sticky snowflakes in a mix of seeds and dried fruits ...

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 (Messy crafts are always a hit with the boys!) 

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A short while later we had a tray full of rather seedy looking snowflakes ...

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Bundled up, we headed outside with the treats and leftover seed mix.

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Little Bear immediately found a leaf to hold onto - lol, he's done this since he was tiny. If we're outside he's got either a leaf or a stick in his hand!

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Marching over to hang his snowflake in the bush ...

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They kind of blend in, don't they? I suppose we could have tinted the paste with some natural food dye and that would have been pretty. Maybe next time!

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 The birds loved the snowflakes, but the squirrels (including my dear little red shown above) liked the scattered seeds and fruit best!

Back inside it was time to start our Feast Day cake ... my best helper is Earlybird who just LOVES to bake. Someday this boy and I will run a little baking business together!

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I followed a simple online scratch yellow cake mix recipe. We took our time measuring out the ingredients ...

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While my littlest fella clung to my legs, lol. He wanted "Pup!" which is how he asks to be picked up. He wanted to be a baker, too!

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At last we had cakes cooling on the counter ... and just before supper I assembled our cake:

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A glossy layer of apricot jam in the middle, some buttercream on top ...

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And the final touch: a sprinkling of snowflakes - aka St. Agnes's flowers!

Our dinner was yummy and simple - baked ziti ("cheesey-pasta," my boys call it), steamed broccoli with lemon, crescent rolls and then of course, cake. Bill got home a bit late because he was working out of state, but we saved him a plate. :)

These are the quiet, homey days I love best. Not too much "out and about," the bulk of our day spent at home. We got some fresh air, made things, read books, baked stuff, and celebrated our faith ...

And we enjoyed our home, truly. I count that all joy!

Well my friends, I'm off for now, but I will give you an idea of the drafts I have in queue at the moment. Posts I'm working on ...

* binder breakdown

* lesson planning/assignments

* new household chore routine

* magazine love :)

* winter meals

* henkeeping advice

Let me know if there's any topics you'd like to chat about or if you have any more planner/journal issues to discuss. I'm always open to ideas!

Enjoy the rest of your Thursday, my friends ... see you here again very soon!


Good Morning! Happy Feast!

A few pictures to share with you on this bright and cold winter morning ...

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A pretty hen visiting our yard yesterday afternoon - love how her dark feathers look against the drab landscape. :)

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A St. Agnes prayer card, and our dinner menu featuring a snowflake cake in her honor. Today is her feast day!

It is, I must also mention, National Squirrel Appreciation Day, which is a favorite holiday in our household ... 

Squirrel nutkin

This is a page from a beautiful book we enjoy perusing called The Ultimate Peter Rabbit: A Visual Guide to the World of Beatrix Potter. This is a two-page spread all about that little rascal, Squirrel Nutkin. I am extremely fond of red squirrels (after my own cats they are my favorite animals) so we'll take a look at this page today and perhaps make some special treats to offer our little woodland friends - seed-filled snowflakes to hang in the trees! If we get it done, you can be sure I'll take pictures and tell you all about it. :)

Have a nice Wednesday, my friends - see you here again very soon!

p.s. I am *thisclose* to finishing our next Q&A post - answering my dear friend Emma's question about seasonal ideas and where/how they get stored. Hope to post later today!


Friday Photos ~ Happy & Homey

Happy Weekend, my friends! :)

Here are some photos I took over the past few chilly days here at my house. (Chilly outside, I mean. Thankfully, it's been fairly warm and toasty inside.) A few post notes at the bottom ...

O with hand in tea mug

Somebody experimented with a monster truck (not seen) and his Mama's half-full tea mug. :) This was late one dark afternoon, post-nap, while we rocked and read in the chair by my bed. It was such a sweet moment - ruined tea notwithstanding. ;)

Archie in sunny bowl

My Archie's favorite napping spot these days ... the fruit bowl on the kitchen table. I think the sunshine - though technically "less than" at this time of year - is truly worth more, seasonally speaking ...

Winter Sunshine > Summer Sunshine

Oliver in window 1

And a picture of Oliver, to be fair, because Archie's always hogging the sunlight spotlight. I just read that "Oliver" is the #1 cat name in America. Any other Olivers out there reading? You know, over their owners' shoulders? :)

Red squirrel on deck in snow

My sweet red squirrel, braving a fierce -5° morning to grab a little breakfast under the feeders.

Cardinal at feeder 2

And the lovely Lady Cardinal - a rare sight at the feeders. (Below our front bushes is where we usually spot her.)

Bird tracks in snow

What I spied upon stepping out my front door this morning! Wee bird tracks left in an overnight dusting! Not a clue which feathered friend they belong to, but lovely to see all the same ...

Bit of tree in sunny votive

My bright (yet absolutely filthy!) window above the kitchen sink - that's the last little bit of our Christmas tree, a reminder to take with us through the year ...

January page

A few pretty things on my kitchen counter desk ...

Pretty tape on page marker

I'm in absolute LOVE with this floral washi tape. (Purchased at the Paper Source last month.) I will use it wherever I can find room as I spruce up my planning binder ...

Tasha tudor package 2

Lovely early birthday gifts from my beloved. <3

Sunburst paper

The loveliest scrapbooking paper - a sunburst for the cover of my domestic journal pages. "Celebrate the everyday" (an affixed sticker) ... that's what it's all about, isn't it? 

Chicken books

And, yes. This is happening. Soon.

:)

Post notes ~ I've just realized that "National Clean Off Your Desk Day" is not today, but MONDAY and all I can say to that is PHEW. Lol. I'm not ready to get my desks post-worthy yet! And by desks, I mean the kitchen counter where I do 99% of my work, the computer desk where Crackerjack does his (+ hours and hours of Minecraft), the pretty writing desk that is used for seat lessons and the good-sized craft desk I am setting up in the library/living room.

I will be posting about my myriad desks and a bit more on my journal and some other stuff like that over the next week or so. I hope, in the meantime, you all enjoy your weekend. Is it as cold where you are as it is here?

(Siri says it's 27° Farenheit right now which is positively balmy compared to yesterday. Warming into the 30s with snow coming on Monday!)

Thanks so much for stopping by, my friends ... I will see you here again very soon!


A Bevy of Baby Birds

I spent some time visiting my aunt and uncle today, and as I first arrived they quietly pointed out a planter hanging by their front door. Nestled inside the pink impatiens were several baby house finches, about a week old. I used my iPhone to take pictures and was quite pleased to get a few good images!

Thought you all might like to see ... :)

Baby birds 1

"Mama!!"

Baby birds 3

I think I count about five birds here ...

Baby birds 4

So very sweet ... though I must admit they look a bit like muppets to me, lol!

Well, I hope you're all having a nice weekend ... it's just beautiful here, in the 80s with sunshine and low humidity. Lots going on - visiting, errands, housework, soccer, Mass and a shower for my very dear cousin. So glad there's nice weather on hand for all these endeavors. Oh, and I'm still having SUCH fun with Pinterest! Getting my boards set up (28 at last count) and filled with pins. How many boards are too many, lol? I fear I can't seem to stop.

Well my friends, thanks so much for stopping by - hope you enjoyed the nestlings pics! - and the rest of your weekend as well. :)

See you here again very soon!


Bits of Domestic Bliss: Bread Pudding

Good Monday evening, my friends ... I hope you've all had a nice day! It was a mild and muggy June day here but I still felt the urge to bake something warm and cozy! Something like ... old -fashioned bread pudding!

This dish made me happy for three reasons ... 1. it used up a good chunk of leftover French bread, 2. it's, as I said above, old-fashioned - nostalgic even, and 3. the flavors are some of my favorites: vanilla, orange, cinnamon and cranberry. :)

Here's the recipe link and a few photos I took as I prepared it ...

Bread pudding 1

Bread pudding 2

Bread pudding 3

I'm serving it tonight after supper with some freshly whipped cream ... but I might have snuck sampled a bit of it at lunchtime ... just to make sure it baked all the way through. ;)

***

Our dinner tonight:

crispy chicken legs (new recipe, sounds good!), sweet potato puffs, steamed broccoli with lemon butter, and the rest of the leftover French bread served up as garlic toasts.

(I bought two loaves of French bread to make overnight French toast for my brother's birthday brunch on Sunday - but unfortunately I didn't get around to making it. I'm glad it's not going to waste!)

Before I go, a note of sincere thanks to Rain, for helping me identify the birdsong I posted about this morning ... it appears we have a wood thrush in our midst! I have only ever seen a thrush once at our old house, so it makes me intrigued and pleased to know we have one here as well.

Have a great evening, my friends ... see you here again very soon!

**


Birdsong at dusk ...

VH nest 1

Good Monday morning, my friends!

I hope you all had a nice weekend. I'm just popping in quickly today to share a short video I took last evening. There is a bird somewhere in our yard that sings each evening, just as the sun sets, and I would love to identify it ...

If you have a moment, would you take a listen and let me know your thoughts?

(I couldn't get the video to paste in my post, so here is a link to my Facebook page which should open whether you have a FB account or not ... please let me know if it doesn't.)

Well, I hope you all have a great Monday ... it's rather showery and warm here, very much a June day.

:)

See you all here again very soon!


Welcome Home, Little Hummers!

Hummer 2

Hummer male 1

Good Sunday morning, my friends! I hope you're all having a nice weekend ...

So, the boys gave me new hummingbird feeders for Mother's Day - the old one fell one frozen morning last fall and smashed apart - and yesterday Bill placed them on the breakfast nook window. Now, sometimes it can take a while for birds to find new feeders, but we'd had a few "fly-by's" over the past week - which made me very eager to get up those feeders! I guess migrating hummingbirds can home. :)

And now this very morning we've had not one, but two little hummers visit the new feeders! We'd been watching a tiny female while we sipped our coffee and fed Little Bear first breakfast, when suddenly a male showed up - separately - to sip. Oh boy, we knew there'd be trouble! Soon enough they crossed paths and then the fighting began!

So the lower feeder shown above has since been moved to a spot about 20 feet away. Apparently hummingbirds are quiet territorial, but I'm hoping these two can "play nice and share" - at least at a safe distance!

**

I'm often asked if we make our own hummingbird nectar (we do!) so I thought I'd share the recipe we use which I found in Welcoming Wildlife to the Garden: Creating Backyard and Balcony Habitats for Wildlife. It's very quick and simple to make; I keep it stored in the fridge (for up to 3 weeks):

Boil 4 cups fresh water and then stir in 1 cup sugar. (Do NOT use honey!) Boil the sugar-water for five minutes then let the solution cool before filling the feeders.

Do you have any hummingbirds in your garden? They are such fun to watch. Here's a nice little article about hummingbirds with suggestions of plants to grow to attract them. I bought some bee balm and foxglove at the village plant sale yesterday, so I'm off to a good start!

Well my friends, thanks so much for stopping by ... I hope you enjoy your day and I'll see you here again very soon!


Tuesday Tidbits

Well my friends, this day did not go even remotely as planned ... but still, there were lots of nice moments ... bright little blessings in amongst all the "dailiness." :)

So naturally, I have a few pictures to share ... :)

Morning glory seeds 2

Here we have some morning glory seeds soaking in water ... they were supposed to be for planting today (a tradition on the Feast of the Annunciation) but A. I forgot to soak them last night and B. I realized I have no potting soil. So the planting part will wait a day or two ... or three.

Last bit of snow on deck

Our deck was caked with snow for the entire winter and at one point, it reached and exceeded the window frames! I am so happy to see there's just that one little strip of stubborn crusty snow left ... we've been eyeing it for days now ... and with temps in the 50s over the next several days, it's a goner!

Easter folder 2

Shown above, is my Easter planning folder ... I finally got it together! I've been stashing clippings and lists in my weekly file folder up till now, moving them along week to week ... but it was time to get serious! Pretty paper, isn't it? :)

Carrot soup in tea cups

Here's one of the recipes I have stashed in that folder ... I think this carrot soup sounds delicous and looks so lovely served in tea cups!

Kitchen garden and herb books

Two beautiful books from the library that alas, had to go back today. They are both illustrated by Tasha Tudor and I enjoyed them very much. They got my "spring gardening wheels" turning!

Robin in bush

A jaunty robin who somewhat hidden in the bushes as we headed out today ... he let me get close enough to get a few shots, but flew off chirping once I stepped just one step too far. I think he's claiming our yard as his own ... looking for his missus. ;)

O in car seat with toys

I just loved this little visual ... a little boy and his little toys!

:)

Well my friends, I hope the day's been kind to you ... I'm going to sign off now and do my best Little Bear-willing) to get as good a night's sleep as I can. I wish you all the same.  

Oh, but before I go!

I just checked in with the Kitchen Chat post and there are some wonderful comments in there! Lots of great ideas, thoughtful suggestions and delicious recipes ... I hope you'll take a look if you have time! And remember - if you'd like to send me photo(s) of your kitchen (or a spot in your kitchen) for next week's chat, you can do so at this address:

bysunandcandlelight AT comcast DOT net

I hope to hear from you!

And I also hope you all have a nice evening ... see you here again sometime soon.


Could it be?

The one bird we never saw at our old house was the Eastern Bluebird, and so this species has been on my "feeder wishlist" for some time. Well, earlier today, we had what I'm pretty sure was a huge FLOCK of Eastern Bluebirds in our front yard! This picture is tiny and blurry - but that's what you get when you're aiming your camera through a window, with a baby tucked under one arm!

Bluebirds 1

 

What do you think?

:)


Off to a Snowy Start ...

Snowstorm driveway 1

"Announced by all the trumpets of the sky, arrives the snow ... "
(Frost)
 
What a snowstorm has descended upon the northeast! We're expecting a foot or so over the next 24 hours ... and it's already piling up! As much as I loathed the idea of shopping on New Year's Day, I did get over to the supermarket yesterday to pick up a few things before the storm hit - milk, bread, beef, coffee - essential stuff! Now we can just sit tight and watch it come down ...
 
Well, I hope your New Year is off to a good start! Have you spied any birds yet? A friend of mine whose son is an avid birder told me about this neat New Year's tradition - the first bird you see on New Year's Day is "your" bird for the year. For good luck and whatnot I presume. Well my bird for 2014 is the Tufted Titmouse, a rather common songbird in these parts, but a lively little spirit, quite fun to watch at the feeders.
 
Tufted titmouse 2
 
 I took the photo above many years ago in our old house and just for fun, here's a cheery painted titmouse on one of Christmas dinner plates:
 
Tufted titmouse plate
 
:)
 
I think it would be neat to "adopt" a family bird to "study" throughout the year, don't you?  What a fun project this could be! It could include seasonal observation, research, photography, sketching, literature/legends, conservation status ... you could choose the first bird you see this year (if you didn't see one yesterday, start looking now!) or take a family vote and decide which bird you'd like to "befriend" this year.
 
If you have a moment, let me know in the comments if you've seen a bird yet this year (and what kind) ... and I'd love to hear about any New Year's traditions or activities you enjoy. I think this is such a fun time of year!
 
Blessings on your day, my friends ... see you here again sometime soon!

The Meet & Greet

Archie spies one of the hens from next door ...

Archie and hen 3

Archie and hen 1

:)

Enjoy your Wednesday, my friends! And thank you for all the kind words and wishes for my Mum on her birthday. It's a busy day ahead ~ lots to do (make/bake/clean) for the holiday tomorrow. All my boys are home and Bill has the day off, and with that storm raging outside (just rain and wind now) it will be nice to stay cozy (and productive!) inside. 

What are you making today, anything yummy or fun?

See you here again very soon ...


Owls and Chickens and Turkeys, Oh My!

Happy Friday, my friends ~ I hope you are all well! I have a little nature story to share with you all today ...

So Mum and I were sitting at the breakfast nook earlier, drinking our tea, chatting about Thanksgiving, and enjoying the drizzly November day ... 

Breakfast nook

When suddenly Mum exclaimed, "What on earth is that thing sitting on the fence?"

Owl watching hens 2 

The very large size of the creature seemed to suggest it was too big to be a bird ... but upon closer inspection, we realized it was indeed a ginormous owl! From its perch upon the paddock fence, it was quietly (perhaps sneakily) watching "the ladies" (our neighbors' hens), who were visiting our yard for their "afternoon tea."

So what did I do? Well as I'm sure most of you can guess, I flew outside with my camera ...

Owl watching hens 1

... and got as close as I could, snapping away. It was almost eerie, the way this HUGE bird turned his head to stare me down!

I got just a few shots before he spread his wings and took off. He was aiming right for the hens, so I gave a loud hiss and at the last minute he veered off into the woods. The ladies, understandably flustered, ran off in a line, clucking and crashing through leaf piles as they headed home.

I came back inside with a few pics, wet socks ... and a thumping heart! 

(Our neighbors occasionally share fresh eggs with us ~ I think we've earned our next dozen!)

***

Oh, so where do the turkeys come in?

Well, my mum was telling me about a flock of turkeys she saw on her drive up that morning; they were milling about in a farmer's field not far from here. We were joking that the turkeys were pretending to be cows, as close as we are to Thanksgiving. 

;)

Have you had any wildlife encounters recently? What was the last bird you spied - at home or while out and about?

Enjoy your weekend, my friends ... it will be a homey-but-busy one for us, as we prepare for the holiday next week. We're also keeping our eye on our Earlybird (who continues to do well) and praying about his upcoming tests. (One in a couple of weeks, another after the first of the year.) Thank you again, for all your kind thoughts and prayers.

 See you here again very soon ...

**


Tuesday Tidbits

Happy Tuesday, my friends! I hope your week's going well! I have just a few things to share on this bright and breezy October day ... a little bit of this and that. :)

*

Well, somebody started solid foods last night! And despite what the middle picture might suggest, it was a hit!

Owens first solids 1

Owens first solids 6

Owens first solids 3

Last night he ate several spoonfuls before firmly closing his mouth, lol - but this morning he ate nearly the whole bowl! And he was grabbing the spoon and humming right along just as happy as could be. :)

(On a serious note, though ... I've seen some headlines about concern over arsenic levels in rice. Does anyone know if this affects infant rice cereal? We use Earth's Best Organic brand, but I don't know if that makes a difference ... I really need to look into this issue, just thought I'd ask if any of my readers can share any thoughts ... )

*

Here are some potted-up raspberries to transplant this fall. My mother-in-law very kindly dug up several shoots from our old house for us to plant here.

Potted raspberries

Now to figure out where to plant them!

*

The "ladies" were back this morning ...

Chickens on patio

I think they like our grass!

*

 I thought this made a cute picture ...

  Book worms

(Another homeschooler in the making!)

*

 And finally, a picture taken by Crackerjack of Archie ...

Archie close up

Our church does a Blessing of the Pets every year on (or around) The Feast of St. Francis. We did not take our kitties because they do not tolerate car rides/the cat carrier very well. Maybe next year we'll just bring a picture?

*

Well, that's all for now, folks. Many blessings on your day!


Friday Bits-n-Bobs

So yesterday may have been a day for apples but I made use of another autumnal orchard fruit instead ~  a couple of pounds of ripe and juicy Bartlett pears! I baked two dozen pear muffins with the pearsauce I'd made earlier in the week.

Pear muffins 1

And oh my goodness! I had one (maybe three) of these in the afternoon, with a cup of decaffeinated English Teatime, while sitting by an open window soaking in the fresh air and warm autumn sunshine ... just glorious!

(I've also got apples aplenty to use up - a whole bunch of Macs we bought at a favorite farm a couple of weeks ago ... I'll make them into a cobbler for Bookworm who'll be home from college this weekend.)

* And for supper last night I made a pan of ziti and a pan of baked chicken using up some spinach dip and whole grain bread crumbs ... along with a pan of roasted "early autumn" vegetables: squash, sweet peppers, onions, carrots, potatoes ...

  Potatoes 1

Now, a quick disclaimer - I don't want anyone to think I'm cooking like this every day. Hardly. I'm still trying to get into some routines here with a new(ish) baby and a new(ish) home. I'm just so tickled I did all that cooking yesterday I wanted to share it!

* Speaking of baking though, I must rave again about the King Arthur Flour Baking Sheet. If you enjoy baking - particularly seasonal baking - this newsletter is a must. Well, apparently I forgot to change my address when we moved so when I realized I missed the Autumn issue, I called to remedy the error ... and two days later I had my new copy! Wonderful customer service from KAF.

* Now, on Wednesday you know how I told you all about the little mouse we found (or rather the cats found) in our dining room? Well yesterday morning we had another interesting nature sighting ... this gorgeous Barred Owl!

Owl 3

I was upstairs in the bedroom with Little Bear when I first spotted the owl in the trees near the edge of our property. I promptly got myself outside (and the baby in a bouncy seat where Crackerjack could watch him) and took a few snaps. The owl immediately zeroed in on me so I only had the chance to take a couple of passable shots. He then turned his back on me ...

Owl 2

And just flew off into the woods. What a wingspan! He was enormous.

* Oh, and the Michaelmas daisies! Have you seen any where you live? Around here they are abundant along the roadsides. Apt timing of course, seeing as how Sunday is Michaelmas Day ...

Michaelmas daisies 1

Love that pale purple, so pretty against the goldenrod which is also all over the place. One thing I love about this time of year is how we have fall foliage starting - there are hints of red and gold in the treescape - but we still have the bright beauty of September's last roses and dahlias and hydrangeas and such. The best of both worlds ... nature's last lively dance!

:)

Well that's all that's new from me today ... thanks so much for joining me this week as I ease my way back into regular blogging ... have yourselves a GREAT weekend, and I will see you all again sometime soon!

**