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Announcing the Giveaway Winners!

Happy Friday, my friends! Happy April, too!

Today I'd like to announce the winners of my "Happy 10 Years Blogging Giveaway!" I picked them randomly (using an online number generator) and below are the names of the 11 ladies who won a giveaway prize. I will be in touch with each of you soon to arrange mailing details. :)

I want to thank everyone who took the time to comment and tell me a little about how you found my blog and what kinds of posts you like to read best. I am so grateful to have such kind and supportive readers! My hope is always that this blog is a place of warm welcome and that my posts are of interest to some folks!

I though am pleased to be able to name so many winners in this giveaway, as always, I wish I could send something to everyone ... and, that said ... I will be contacting each of you who left me a comment in my Celebration post to ask for your mailing address ... I'd like to pop a little "spring note" in the mail if I may! :)

Ok, without further ado, here are the 11 giveaway winners ...

Baby's Morningtime book and CD - Kellylynn Vega

The Life Giving Home - Irina

Collection of children's books - Terri

Montessori & Oak Meadow books - Amanda

Break in at the Basilica and Lost in Peter's Tomb - Maria R

Seashore journal and sticker book - Jess McCarthy

Organic baby food books - Grace

Children's Books of Prayers & Blessings - Cassidy

Little Boys' Bible Book - Sarah Reed

Golden Children's Bible - Teresa in Ohio

Downton Abbey DVD - Sara R.

 ***

Well my friends, I thank you all for taking part in my blog's birthday celebration! This was so much fun! And to all who stop by, I thank you for spending a little of your time here with me. I will be back again before long with a new post, but for now I wish you all a wonderful weekend. Take care of yourselves and your loved ones and I will see you here again very soon!


Celebrating 10 Years of Blogging! (and 11 Giveaways!)

10 years blogging thank you!

Hello, and Happy Tuesday, my friends!

Well I can hardly believe this, but it was 10 years ago TODAY that I wrote my very first post here at By Sun and Candlelight! I remember being so nervous to make this leap, taking my private life and making parts of it public ...

Who would read this? Would I have time? Would I embarrass myself (or my family)? Was it even safe?

But boy am I glad I got up the nerve, because this has been such a wonderful adventure! I love chatting with you all here - always wishing we were really sitting in my living room with pots of tea and lots of books and goodies to show and tell about - like planners and journals and nature notes and cookbooks and favorite resources and of course, our precious kids! I've loved meeting new friends through this blog and hearing from readers who've been with me from the beginning (or thereabouts). As a blogger, I've enjoyed being a little more creative than I might otherwise would be - and being curious, testing out new ideas and exploring familiar passions. Reporting in, and hearing back. Sharing pictures and memories and goals and my various attempts at this project or that. Maybe a new way to celebrate a season or a different way of keeping track of those daily to-dos?

But perhaps most of all I LOVE that with this blog, I have a very thorough family scrapbook of the past 10 years! I love reading back over all the memories ...

When I started here, this is what my boys (only three of them then) looked like:

Boys 2006

(And now these little guys are 20, 16 and 14 years old ... while Little Bear will be 3 in May!)

So, today I'd like to bless my readers with a wee bit of the joy I myself have found through blogging. One of the ways blogging has blessed me is in finding and sharing wonderful resources - so here I have a set of 11 such resources, and I'm offering them all as giveaways! If you are interested, take a look at the picture below and then leave me a comment telling me which numbers (further described below) you are intrested in. I'll choose a winner for each giveaway from the names of those interested.

(So, say you like #s 1, 4 and 7 - I will enter your name when drawing for each of those "prizes.")

All I ask is that you let me know how you found me and what you've enjoyed seeing here at my blog - and what you'd like to see more of in the future! This will help me shape upcoming posts ... I have a crazy number of ideas but I love getting a little "direction" when I can. :)

Ok, so now, here are the giveaways ...

11 giveaways for 10th birthday!

⭐️ No. 1 The Baby's Good Morning Book & Baby's Morningtime CD  ... my all-time favorite baby's book, a collection of nursery rhymes and poems, beautifully illustrated in sunwashed shades by Kay Charao. The CD features all these poems set to music, sung by Judy Collins. These are second copies I came to own unexpectedly and would love to pass on ...

⭐️ No. 2 The Life Giving Home by Sally and Sarah Clarkson ... a new book I purchased recently, but have not had time to read, and really want to bless someone else with what I can see is a lovely and life-affirming (home-affirming) book. I'll borrow a copy at a later date ... when I have more time to read!

⭐️ No. 3 A collection of favorite children's books - some of our go-to reads of which we have extra copies to spare! I'd love for other children to enjoy them as much as we have/do. (Click on the picture to get a better look.)

⭐️ No. 4 Montessori Play-and-Learn Handbook and The Heart of Learning (K-3) which is an introduction to Oak Meadow in the youngest grades. I have extra copies of the latter and I no longer need the former, so I'd like for someone else to enjoy them!

⭐️ No. 5 Break-In at the Basilica and Lost in Peter's Tomb ... fun mystery novels for kids set at the Vatican! My older boys enjoyed reading these many years ago (there was a time when they were fascinated by Vatican architecture), and now we'd like to pass them on to another family.

⭐️ No. 6 This is a sweet little journal I picked up on clearance - a soft, beribboned, shell-print cover protecting a tidy notebook lined in blue and red. I think this might make a handy seaside diary! The Seashore Sticker Book was never used by my boys and I think it would make a nice companion to the journal ... a way to inspire some summer nature adventures, perhaps?

⭐️ No. 7 Organic Baby & Toddler Cookbook and La Leche League's Whole Foods for Babies and Toddlers ... two really great healthy-eating cookbooks for those precious early years. I'd love to pass them on to another organic-minded mama!

⭐️ No. 8 A Child's Book of Blessings and A Child's Book of Prayers ... I forgot we even had these! They turned up recently and I would love to share them with another family. They are very pretty little board books filled with sweet words of faith and grace and charming illustrations by Susan Wheeler of Holly Pond Hill fame. :)

⭐️ No. 9 A Little Boy's Bible Storybook (for Mothers and Sons) ... I read this many years ago with my older boys but have since moved on to other resources for my younger boys. This is a colorful and easy-to-use book of bible stories for little boys (with suggestions for follow-up talks with mom).

⭐️ No. 10 The Golden Press Children's Bible ... I'm sure many of you have copies of this beloved, old-fashioned children's bible - we have three or four copies, including both Bill's and mine from when we were young! I'd love to offer one of my extra copies to another family to enjoy with their children!

⭐️ No. 11 Downton Abbey, Season 1 DVD ... my dad just gifted us with a set of seasons 1-3 so this is an extra I'd love to pass along! Plus a pretty bound notebook which would make a neat little journal for all manner of things - daily gratitude, a running to-do list, a shopping notebook for your purse?

🌞

Whenever I do a giveaway, I always wish I could name more than one "winner" and now I can! But, why the number 11 you might wonder? Well, there's one giveaway for each year of blogging ... plus one "to grow on." :)

So, my friends - I hope you are excited about these giveaways! And I hope you'll comment and let me know which of the 11 you are interested in. (You can "vote" for all, or one, or however many you'd like! Just name the numbers in your comment.) You are also, of course, more than welcome to comment even if you have no interest whatsoever in these giveaways! I'm just hoping all of these items will find good homes, and I know there are many such homes to be found with my readers. Let me know what you think, when you can ... drop me a note, cast a vote ... I will be taking a break from blogging till after Easter, but will announce the winners on Friday, April 1st. So spread the word if you will and of course, best of luck!

And as always, THANK YOU, so much, for being my readers ... my listeners ... and such very kind friends. I wish each of you a wonderful Easter and am keeping every one of you in my prayers.

In Peace,

~ Dawn


And the Book Party Giveaway Winner is ...

Vintage books

Happy Tuesday, my friends! And Happy March! Rabbit-rabbit and all that! :)

Today (as you probably guessed from the post title) I am here to announce the winner of my Book Party giveaway, and I'm very happy to report that the winner is ...

DENISE!

Congratulations, Denise! I have a little "pre-spring" package to send you and I will be in touch soon to arrange mailing details. :)

And thank you to everyone who participated in the Book Party - it was such a fun project made all the more interesting and enjoyable thanks to your thoughts and pictures. I am grateful for your support!

I have so much to post about this week, but it's a busy one, so I hope to be back again soon! But for now, thanks for stopping by and enjoy your Tuesday, my friends!


My Advent Tea Journal ~ Magic & Meaning

Advent tea magic 1

Happy Monday, my friends! I hope your week is off to a great start! It's time for another Advent Tea, but first off ...  how on earth did it get so far in the season?! Honest-to-goodness, time seems to pick up speed as we get closer to New Year's!

Well, on Sunday (Gaudete Sunday) we rejoiced to light our third (pink!) Advent candle. What a great time to stop and take joy in our life today - right this very minute! Joy is such a gift, something we give others and something we receive as a blessing from God. I love when He opens my eyes to the joy around me ... because sometimes I can get so wrapped up in the trials and tensions of everyday life, I forget to look around for the JOY.

Wouldn't this be a great prompt for a new year's journal?

>> What brought you joy today? How have you made this day joyful for others? <<

Advent candles snowmen

(Clearly, some of these snowmen get it, while others do not.)

I have such love for this week ... because for one thing, I love that pink candle! (I don't see a lot of pink in my life, lol.) But also, on this Sunday we are still very much in the heart of Advent ... I'm still able to take peace in the season that is now ... not fret over the season to come. (Ok, truth be told - I'm fretting a little. I really am a wee bit behind.)

But most of all, I love this Sunday because it almost always arrives right around my Earlybird's birthday ... and he is as joyful a boy as you will ever meet. In fact, this very DAY happens to be his actual birthday (he turns 14 on the 14th!). So it's a very special day in our household! :)

Well, this week I'd like to talk a little about sharing Christmas with children ... the magic of the season, as well as its deeper meaning. Christmas comes for all of us, but how very special it is for the children in our life. They are so ready to soak it all up and just BELIEVE ... what they see, what they hear, what they are told ... and that's sometimes a good thing, but other times not so much. How do we hone the message they receive at this time of year?

>> How do we shape their joy? <<

Speaking of joy, we have these lovely pink, sparkly letters that spell out JOY - I made them several years ago and I always bring them out on this particular Sunday. Unfortunately, I seem to have misplaced one of the letters ...

  Advent tea magic 15

... and the message isn't quite what I meant. At least, not on most days. But it gave us all a good chuckle!

So before I go any further, here are some Advent questions for you, in regards to our theme this week: 

What are your children's favorite aspects of Christmas?

How do you share with them the true meaning of Christmas? In what special ways do you pass on your Faith traditions?

How do you keep your family from burning out before the Christmas season has even begun?

For me, it's all about pacing and balance. Filling the weeks before Christmas with quiet delights for the senses: warm lights in the growing darkness, soft music in the background, good smells and tastes from the kitchen ... and of course, a touch of season's magic. Our Advent countdown message, a mystery unfolding in the empty manger, flickering candles, books appearing each week, packages arriving in the mail, a letter posted to Santa ...

Where is Santa right this minute? When will he come HERE? What is the angel saying? What is the candle in the manger all about? Who are the rocks and the plants and the animals all waiting to see? What do they all know that I don't ... (yet)?

Children respond so deeply to magic and mystery and anything that attracts their developing senses. They're like super-curious sponges! And boy, do they love a good story ...

But I think my children enjoy the family traditions we've created most of all - they look for them and request them every year - which makes me think that all these "little things" we've done through the years have possibly made a big impression. Living a quieter life, a bit outside of the mainstream in some ways, we are able to avoid the commercial side of Christmas that colors so much of the season these days. To a comfortable degree, anyway. We attend Mass, and soak in the atmosphere of our Parish and the words of our Pastor. I try to weave liturgical events and meaning into our days, as I do every week of the year ... 

We eat certain things and read certain words ... light special candles and believe amazing things ... and we wait, and we wonder ... because we are Catholic, and this is what Christmas means to us. It's a privilege to live this way, and though we may be entertained by the world around us, we are sustained by what we share with each other.

Christmas lights are a good example of "magic and meaning." Without a doubt, those sparkling lights are a hallmark of Christmas - shining through the darkest nights of the year. They are SUCH magic - especially for children - but why do we light them? What is their meaning? How can we make our own inner lights shine as brightly?

Here is a beautiful passage shared by my friend Michelle M., from Vermont, in which she describes an Advent walk she shared with her family and special friends. This is EXACTLY what I am talking about when I say I want my children to experience a season full of magic and meaning ... 

"I am paring down the usual Advent festivities and just trying to find quiet. With some sadness and a whole bunch of relief, I decided not to host our beautiful Advent spiral walk in the lovely round building we usually use. This has been the most lovely and spiritual part of my Advent for years and years, watching the children grow up walking in the candlelight circle. But there is just too much happening and the children are growing and transforming, so our rituals must too. I decided to invite one special family two nights ago to wander up our hill in the dark, drink hot cocoa from real mugs, light a tea light in a squat Bonne Maman jam jar, and place it somewhere in the dark while whispering a prayer or wish or hope. It was a vision now etched in my forever memories to see those sweet children's faces bent over their candle in total silence in the dark. Of course, this mood was soon changed as they came together over one jar and descended into bathroom noise humor...but that's all part of the journey, no?!"
 Thank you for sharing, Michelle! What a lovely memory for you all! :)

I'll have more thoughts on this topic in time, and I hope to post more as the week goes along, but for now - because this post is already running long! - here are my tea journal notes:

What refreshments are you enjoying this week?

Advent tea magic 4

This week my "tea" - in the spirit of childhood - is a cup of creamy, minty homemade cocoa! Earlybird LOVES our fire pit and so as a birthday surprise, we had one last bonfire out back yesterday afternoon. I used our old favorite snowman mugs (Crate & Barrel, from before we had kids!) and added a natural candy cane "stirrer" as an extra-special treat. 

O project 12-13 2

Just before Bill lit the fire pit, I had the boys gather 'round the Advent garden so we could light the third apple's candle, and check today's rock. Our prayer for the week: God, please help us spread joy to those who need it most!

Once the words were said and the fire was lit, I took Little Bear for an amble around the yard. We had some nature walking to make up for after a rainy, head-cold kind of week!

What are you reading this week?

Advent tea magic 9 (1)

It's all about the children's books these days, and on our coffee table I have an array of books featuring "Animals in Advent" (our "Advent in Nature" theme this week). Many of these we own, but I request several books each week from our inter-library loan. (I often joke/worry that our librarians either love us or hate us ... but we sure do love them!)

I also parked a couple of our rather LARGE seasonal book baskets in my library nest ...

Advent tea magic 10

One basket for Winter books ...

Advent tea magic 11

And another for the bulk of our Christmas books proper. These get divided and dispersed to certain corners and baskets around the room as themes pop up through the season.

What are you listening to this week?

"Christmas Piano Music" on Pandora. I had a facial this week (finally using a gift certificate my boys gave me LAST Christmas!) and this was the music my esthetician was playing. So beautiful and calming!

What are you working on this week?

Planner in car

 Getting my 2016 planner in order! I just had it spiral-bound at Staples today. (Needless to say, there will be a great big post all about it in the very near future!)

There is also, of course, much Christmas to-doing this week, as we get down to the wire. Making teacher gifts is the top of the list this week.

What's happening in nature this week? 

Well, as I've mentioned, we've all been sick, and the weather has been a bit miserable, so outdoor time has been limited. It's been very mild for November, though, and the plentiful winter moths are ... shall we say, a bit disconcerting.

Advent tea magic 16

Meanwhile, we are happy to see so many acorn caps!

Advent tea magic 13

Advent tea magic 7

This means we should have well fed squirrels this winter! (I brought in a whole bunch of caps to set on our nature shelf to remind us our critter friends will be eating well! I'm also googling lots of "acorn cap craft ideas" ... and if you follow me on Pinterest, you know what I mean!) 

Any projects with the children this week?

We have some more handmade gifts to be finishing, and this week we'll be working with the theme, "Animals in Advent." We will be taking special care of our cats and assembling a donation to a local animal shelter ... as well as migrating our barn animals to the manger ...

Advent tea magic 2

Advent tea magic 8

Advent tea magic 17

Also, we'll be organizing our Solstice Tree for next week ... but that will be a topic for another post!

Any quotations to share, some words to inspire?

In addition to all those children's stories, I am (re)reading a lovely little book called Festivals with Children. It is a small book written in the Waldorf tradition with a focus on the Christian festivals (or feasts) of the year. Needless to say - right up my alley!

I love, in particular, how the author describes the season of Advent:

"The calm and quiet which is prerequisite for every "inner becoming" is under attack everywhere today but especially during Advent. Today it can only be achieved by conscious effort ... There are so many customs and suggestions for the celebration of Advent that we must choose consciously to meet our particular situation. This period of time is in danger of losing its own characteristic mood. The atmosphere of preparation is often overwhelmed by the Christmas mood of fulfillment itself. Children have often already had enough by Christmas. Too often Christmas Eve is experienced as a hard-to-achieve climax followed by exhaustion, making the celebration of the twelve days of Christmas very difficult."

***

I've found that constant activity really takes its toll - not just on me, but my children. And boy do I hate feeling tired of Christmas before it's even arrived. Community is important, absolutely, and it's hard to pick and choose among so many wonderful opportunities: a tree-lighting here, a card-making there, a cookie-baking marathon somewhere else. But as with anything (and especially with children) less often means more. The one great thing you do with your family this Advent will make an equally great memory ... eighteen great things will just make a blur. These days I try to choose carefully where we spend our energy and leave ample space in our December for rest ... so we might learn to appreciate the mood of the season as well as the magic.

As always, I'd LOVE to hear your thoughts on this week's topic and of course, get a peek into your Tea Journal, too. Please leave a comment below or - even better! - send me an email with your thoughts and/or pics and I'll share them here at the blog. You can reach me here:

>> bysunandcandle AT gmail DOT com <<

And I'm still hoping to do a little video tour of our Christmas library (tree and all) but that didn't get accomplished in time for this post. Hopefully I will have it for you later this week, but for now here are a few "quick pics" ...

Advent tea magic 9

Advent tea magic 12

Advent tea magic 12 (1)

:)

Now, before I go I have one more thing - no, make that TWO more things to tell you!

The first is to announce the winner of my Christmas Books Giveaway! I so enjoyed reading all the "hellos" and "heys" and "howabouts" from you all! I wish I could send everyone a package, but for today, I must choose one ...
 
So the randomly picked winner of the giveaway is:
 
CAROLYN!

Here's Carolyn's question which I LOVE and will definitely address soon ...
 
Hi Dawn!
Happy Advent! I've really been enjoying your blog these last 2 months! What homeschooling resource books would you recommend for a young mom looking at starting homeschooling kindergarten next fall?

Thanks,
Carolyn
 
Oh, such a fun time in a homeschooling family's life - kindergarten! I've been there three times so far, and am thrilled to revisit it with Little Bear in a few years. I have some definite favorites when it comes to resources and will get a post up as soon as I can, Carolyn. :)
 
And I'll be in touch soon to arrange mailing details ... hope you enjoy these books with your family!
 
Now, before I go, I also wanted to remind you all that TOMORROW I am participating in a live planning workshop with Mystie Winckler of Simplified Organization and Jen Mackintosh of Wildflowers & Marbles! We've got an hour to talk about all kinds of planning topics - and answer questions as we go along! You can watch our chat and submit questions by signing up HERE. There will also be a chat replay and you will receive a link for that as well.
 
Ok, well, as usual I have just gone on and ON and I thank you very much for your time and kind attention. I will be off now because as I mentioned, it is our Earlybird's birthday and before the littlest wakes up I have a few presents to wrap and a chocolate cake to frost ... :)
 
But I'll see you here again very soon!

A Christmas Books Giveaway!

Happy Wednesday, my friends! It's a good day for a giveaway!

Christmas books giveaway

As I was going through our Christmas book collection I set aside some duplicates to pass on to someone else:

Merry Christmas, Strega Nona!

Dear Rebecca, Winter is Here ...

Christmas in Noisy Village

And I'd like to offer them to one of my readers! So someone will win a pretty little package from me, filled with these books and perhaps a few other seasonal delights, too ... :)

If you would like to enter your name in my Christmas Books Giveaway, please leave a comment below. I'd love to hear a suggestion for the blog - a post topic or question you might like me to answer - but you can just say, Hey, Happy Advent, too! ;)

I will announce the giveaway winner in Monday's Advent Tea post!

(And speaking of ... folks who send (or have sent) me Advent Tea comments/pics/links get entered in the giveaway twice!)

You can leave a note for me here or send me mail at:

>> bysunandcandle AT gmail DOT com <<

Enjoy the rest of your Wednesday, my friends ... hope to hear from you soon!


Let's Get the (Planner) Party Started!

Planner post 2 (1)

Happy Friday & Hooray! Our Planner Party is underway!

(I've been looking forward to this all week!)

Now, here's the thing about planners - they come in all shapes and sizes. SO many shapes and sizes! A planner might be a paper product or it could be a tech device ... it might lie flat on your desk or hang on your fridge or perhaps it simply slips into your pocket. Homemade or store-bought, spiral-bound or 3-hole-punched ... or maybe just a stack of sheets on a clipboard? The variety - and possibilities - are endless! And for some of us (yours truly included) this can be somewhat of a problem ... 

What to use? Which is best? Will it work? Should I try something else?

But whatever our planner looks like, many of us are using something to manage our busy lives. The trick is finding something that fits our needs and works well, but also makes us happy.

*Life is short - your planner should make you happy!*

Another neat thing about planners is - even when they're driving us crazy - we sure do love talking about them! I know I'm not the only one, because my planning posts attract more traffic and get pinned more than any others. You all know I LOVE to talk about planners, and I LOVE to see other people's planners ...

In fact, if I could, I would invite every single one of you here to my house ... I'd bake up some pretty cookies and brew up a big pot of tea (or perhaps decant a large vat of wine), and then we could all chat and spread out in one big ol' planner show-and-tell ...

*sigh*

(I haven't caught up with the Periscope trend yet, but I'm giving it some thought!)

:)

Happily, I had a great response to this planner party idea, so I have a lot of "planner thoughts" to share - and that's not counting my own! So here's what I'm thinking ... today I will share the lovely planner comments folks left here at the blog ... and then, because several of you sent me wonderfully detailed descriptions, including photos, of your planners, I am going to share each one of those submissions separately, in posts to follow over the next week or so. This way we can really pace ourselves and digest each planner post thoroughly ...

So our "party" will keep on keeping on ... I have about 10 days of planner posts ready to roll ... and yes, one of them will be mine! ;)

Oh, and also! At the very bottom of this post is the name of the Autumn Bliss giveaway WINNER! Every one who left a comment or sent an email had a chance to win, and this morning I drew a name from the bunch. So please read on and I hope you enjoy!

(p.s. You are welcome to join the party! You may add your own planner thoughts in the comments box below - and of course emails are always lovely! Drop me a note at bysunandcandle AT gmail DOT com and I'll add you to my planner queue!)

 ***

From Sherrylynne:

Here is my embarrassing reply to the calendar/planner/etc implementation question.
1.) Moleskin notebook used for my daily morning prayerbook. I journal the date, saint of the day with some sort of quote or reflection from Butler Lives of the Saints, and a quote from scripture chapter. I work my way thru the Bible one chapter per day. Then I write a prayer.
2.) At night, I close each day with a Simply Charlotte Mason calendar at my bedside recording what I am grateful for each day. I do this before my night prayers.
3.) Each child has a lesson planner which becomes there permanent record of daily studies with weekly grades, biblio, extra-curricular activities (and hours) and their semester grades. I staple in the year-end standardized tests as well.
4.) I keep a blue sky weekly calendar in my "morning basket" to record my rough plan of action for studies we do daily together and then either scribble in the extra material I tossed in on a whim or cross off what we didn't get to forward to the next time.
5.) THEN...there is my Erin Condren planner which is more like my daily plan and record. I.E. The repairman came to fix the dryer and make notes what to do to the washer this week. Borrowed a book to a neighbor. Mail a sympathy card etc. Holds my weekly menu plan, Christmas shopping list, etc.
6.) I do keep a 3 ring Liturgical Year planner from the now defunct website Sanctos Simplicitus that hold all the great ideas I collect from this blog and others that I look at before the beginning of each month to plan cool things to do to mark the season, practice our Faith, celebrate important events and people in our lives.
7.) Lastly, I keep a family monthly calendar that is the appointment calendar for the family. I use one monthly file folder as a catch all for sales flyers, festival notices and ideas to consider that my husband and I review each Sunday in our "Family Executive Committee" meeting before we have a general family meeting to go over the coming week and get everyone on the same page before the new week starts. Phew!!!
But i LOVE it!

There is nothing embarrassing about that reply, Sherrylynne! It's wonderfully descriptive and there seems to be a planning spot for every part of your life. I love the idea of a "family meeting" each weekend - we try to do that, too!

From Leah:

"As for planning? I have not been satisfied with a planner in a long time. Possibly the first year I homeschooled and it was an off-the-beaten-path planner (I think it was the first one I ran across that was specific to homeschooling.) I used to love Franklin Covey, but that was when I was working full time and the set-up made sense to me. Before that, well, that was ancient history and I didn't even have the internet to get me sidetracked...the year started with a "19"!

Right now I am using free printouts until I can find something, but I only print them out a week at a time and they are undated. I need something that is flexible, but not too open-ended, lest I stop using it entirely. I need commitment, but nothing too strict (glad I have a laid-back husband!) I would love to see what others use. It's a shame planners don't come in quarters or seasons rather than by the year! I think I could commit to three months of the same format ;-)

Leah I was a Franklin Covey planner person, too! Back in the mid-90s - first job - and I loved it. I completely outgrew it when I had my first child, so I know what you mean. And it's interesting that you mentioned planners coming in quarters ... I have been experimenting with that a bit. Adding a small section of the year to my master binder but not the whole year at once. I can convince myself I need the whole year in a heartbeat though, so it hasn't stuck.

From Arlene ...

Dawn, I have been coveting an Erin Condren planner but I really cannot justify the price. (You know us organized paper lovers are all about planners!) Right now I am using a small planner I found at Ross for $3. I got some stickers from the $1 aisle at Target and dressed up October ... I think a planner party would be lots of fun!!

Arlene, I too have been eyeing the EC planners - they are so pretty and colorful! I hesitate to buy anything that expensive because I know myself - I know I will find fault with it and feel the need to try something else, which would be an awful waste of money.  

From Sarah:

Hi Dawn! I don't really use a planner. I have three months of Calendar pages tacked up neatly in my kitchen (the current month and the two upcoming). I write down all important activities and appointments for our family of seven. I decorate each page with themed stickers, just to pretty them up and make it festive. I also keep a small note book open on my counter with my lists: chores, shopping, etc. I'm not sure it's the best system, but it works for me right now.

That's the best thing though - it works for you! I love the simplicity of it ... I am awful at keeping my tools to a minimum and I think that's a big part of my planner problems!

From Gill:

I used Martha Greenes Yearbook for the Homemaker and an a4 file when I was homeschooling. Later I switched to a5 hard backed journals with blank pages for a household planner, keeping a weekly menu plan and each day's tasks, recipes, thoughts, prayers and crafts noted, with space for addresses and a reading book list at the back. These worked great for me and I often referred back to them. I covered each one with seasonal fabric and wrote the date and book number on the spine when full. Now I am using a midori lookalike that my daughter crafted for me. I love it; the sensory effect of the leather cover, the neatness of the design and the clip that holds a pencil right there inside it. But I don't like the temporary feel of the notebook inserts, and I don't see them being easy to store on the bookshelf with all my previous journals. Although I love the chocolate brown leather cover, I miss the cheery hit of colour that the seasonal covers gave. 
Soooo, I think I will go back to my hard backed notebooks, and retire the midori to another purpose.

Gill, my favorite planners are always the notebooks I convert into planners. I get such satisfaction from them! I love how they encompassed so many areas of your life - the tasks, recipes, prayers, crafts, and personal pursuits. I love having everything at my fingertips. 

From  Melissa:

I know it's not very romantic, but I use an app on my phone called Cozi. While it does have it's limitations, I love that I can assign events to certain members of the family. It also has a menu planning space. I can see my calendar while I plan my menu and I can also save my recipes so I can come back to them. I can make as many To Do lists as I want and assign them to members of the family. I can also make shopping lists that allow me to check things off as I shop. The things it can't do I usually us a sticky note to jot down on. Thanks!

Melissa, I think a lot of people are very efficiently making great use of their phones nowadays. My Bill is NOT a paper person at all and is always trying to get me to use my phone for more of my planning! I will admit to using my Notes app sometimes for shopping lists. I find it convenient to use when I have a sleeping baby in my arms, and when pushing a cart around the store! :)

From Mary:

Hi Dawn, I'm using an inkwell press planner and do like it... although with our large family I find myself relying more on our Google calendar calendar everyday!

Oh, Mary ... what have you done, lol? I had never heard of Inkwell planners - but oh, that is a very nice planner! Very pretty and creative ... I will have to take a closer look! :) 

From Tracy

Hi Dawn! I use a Brownline Month-at-a-Glance planner. I have used this planner for years and years. It has nice big boxes every day for me to record appointments. And the back has several blank pages, which I label (and decorate) for each month of the year. It is here that I record notes, phone call conversations etc. that I may need to refer back to from time to time. I also keep a separate notebook of "to do" lists and a separate menu planner. The Seasonal Beehive looks just lovely!

Another planner I'd never heard of! What I love most about your comment, Tracy, is that you have used this planner for years and years. That tells me it is truly working for you - and that's the best feeling! :)

*****

Well, thank you so much for your input, ladies! I also want to thank the ladies who sent me emails with pictures - you will be seeing their posts over the next several days!

As for me, well, I am using a few different things and I will do my own "show and tell" soon. I must admit, I find shiny new planners (such as the Erin Condren planners Arlene mentioned) so very tempting. Truly, I have to avoid planner aisles when I'm feeling weak. But as much as I love new planners, I'm still stuck on the idea of making my own planner. I always come back to that ... and I think I always will! That said, I do have not one but TWO "commercial" planners in play at the moment, trying to see which is the better fit ... but as I said, I will get into my own planning situation in an upcoming post. :)

Well, for now, and before wrapping up, I would like to announce the winner of my Autumn Bliss giveaway WHICH includes a copy of the Winter Seasonal Beehive, generously donated by its creator, Cay Gibson ...

*drumroll please*

*

*

*

LEAH!!!

Congratulations, Leah! I will be in touch soon to organize mailing details ... I hope you will enjoy Cay's "Seasonal Beehive Winter Planner" and the Autumn Goodies I will send your way! Thanks again for sharing your thoughts on planners!

:)

To all who left a comment, sent an email, or just stopped by to read - I say thank you! And I wish you all a wonderful weekend ... I hope you are able to take some time to relax and refresh yourself ... and perhaps take a little time to PLAN for next week!

See you here again very soon ...


Exciting Giveaway News!

Happy Sunday, my friends! I hope your weekend is as lovely as the one we're enjoying here in New England - bright, brisk and brimming with color! We just got in from a fun family hike through the woods - and there will be pictures to share, natch - but for today I am popping in with a little update on my "Planner Party," which is coming up this Friday ...

Because I have some VERY exciting GIVEAWAY news!! :)

Now, just to refresh your memory - last week I asked to hear about what your planner (or calendar) looks like these days, and how it is (or isn't) working for you. I'm really hoping to hear your input on this subject - and frustrations are as welcome as adulations! Some people love planners, whereas some folks, not so much. But we all have a life we need to manage, and I'm interested to know how you're doing just that! Details on my "planner party" are here and you can reach me by comment box or email - and pics are more then welcome!

BUT!

Now here's the really fun news ...

Remember I mentioned that everyone who participates in the Planner Party is automatically entered in my Autumn Bliss giveaway? Well, I am about to sweeten the deal considerably!

My dear friend, Cay Gibson, author of several wonderful educational books, has been very busy putting together a beautiful and innovative series of planners ... and she is calling these planners:

The Seasonal Beehive

Seasonal beehive

(Isn't that just lovely?!)

Well, I am honored to announce that Cay has graciously donated the Winter Seasonal Beehive (cover, shown above) for me to offer as part of my Giveaway!!

Yes!! That means if you participate in my Planner Party and your name is chosen - you will win a package of Autumn goodies PLUS Cay's beautiful planner!!!

A bit more on the planner, in Cay's own words ...

"I want this seasonal product to compliment your favorite planner, not make it more burdensome or awkward. I want it to be more of a keepsake, something for you to look back on years from now and see those monthly praise reports and those intentional prayer requests and remember those moments you found yourself in nature and know how many times you turned to God and what you challenged yourself to do each season and what creative outlets you were intentional with, and what books and plans you spotlighted that season …
 
I call it a planner for lack of a better term but its primary goal is to make you focus on the things that deserve your mindfulness as you pass through each of life's seasons."

My fiends, I encourage you to take a closer look at Cay's series - I think it will be a wonderful resource for so many women looking to slow down and truly savor the seasons in a simple and meaningful way. She is currently working on the next issue (Spring), but Winter is now available (and you can see examples here). What a gift this planner would be to your busy and overwhelmed self. I think Cay's planner series will be a blessing to many!

So! I hope this makes my little "planner party" all the more enticing to you, dear readers! Remember, all you have to do is let me know what you are using for a planner/calendar these days and how you are liking it (or not). Or perhaps you are between planners - or like me, you're juggling too many planners! - and feeling frustrated as life slips through the cracks. Wherever you're at, whatever your planner looks like, I'd love to hear from you. I think this is a great topic to discuss and share ideas with each other!

You may comment here at the blog or please send me an email here:

bysunandcandle AT gmail DOT com

Pictures are welcome and I'd like all submissions by the end of the day Thursday, please. I hope to get the "Planner Party" started on Friday! I am really excited to talk about planners with you all - you know it's a favorite topic of mine, and I myself am currently somewhat frustrated with what I'm using, so I'll be eager to hear from you all!

Well I'll be off now, but I wish you all a pleasant Sunday afternoon/evening ... and I look forward to seeing you here again soon!


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

But first, a word from our sponsor ...

O in hat 2

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

:)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

bysunandcandle AT gmail DOT com

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

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

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

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

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

See you here again very soon!

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


Advent Tea Journal ~ Finding Joy in our Midst

(Or mess, as the case may be.)

Advent tea joy 20

"Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are."

~ Marianne Williamson

My friends, this day did not go as planned, and the "vision" I had for this post went seriously awry ... but what I ended up with was not only very real, but as I look back at my day, truly filled with joy. The kind of joy I am talking about here ... as is Ms. Williamson above ... is when things are really good. They are not always pretty or neat or well-rested - but they are always good. And there is always joy.

So today, as we take tea together - however we manage it, if we manage it - we are talking about Christmas joy. This is, without a doubt, the most joyous time of the year and there are as many reasons why, as there are people on the planet, but here are a few photos of my holiday joy, and my tea journal below, with some lovely input from a few readers and then ... drumroll please ... the winners of my book giveaways!

Where do I find joy in the holiday season?

Advent tea joy 18

They say scent is the strongest sense when it comes to remembering. Well, I love both peppermint and vanilla, and to me, that is the smell of Christmas joy. Goodness knows I'm here at this sink a lot during the holidays (all the days!) so I take particular joy in the scent of these suds. (I also love the scents of clove, orange and evergreen. Those are also distinctly "Christmas" to me.)

*

When baking with my kids - even when it's chaotic and there's perhaps some yelling - there is such joy in creating for those we love ... with those we love.

Advent tea joy 6

Please excuse the mess - the one behind me and the one on my head, lol. Earlybird and I are working on fruitcakes here ...

Advent tea joy 7

And then there was supposed to be tea, after the baking, before the crafting, and during the baby's nap, but ...

Advent tea joy 11

Well, a clean kitchen was not to be part of today's joy. (And I do take great joy in a clean kitchen!) But to be perfectly honest, my kitchen still looks like this as I type up this post (without the running water, of course) and once again the baby didn't nap.

So ... THIS had to wait:

Advent tea joy 4

;)

Another year-long joy that seems especially rewarding at Christmas is crafting with my boys ...

Advent tea joy 2

Advent tea joy 10

No crafting happened today, though. These are the star-boys I began on St. Lucy's Day - very much a work in progress.

And there's much joy in receiving and sending Christmas cards each year ...

Advent tea joy 12

I love to post those wonderful faces where we can see them all season long. I love to talk about each family as we open and read each card. I love to pray for family and friends as I write out our own cards to them ...

There is SUCH joy in those connections.

And with the fruitcake finally in the oven, and the warm milk spiced with eggnog, I was ready to sit down and relax, and begin my post ...

But see, there was this little guy, and tea was not on his agenda.

Advent tea joy 13

A bottle of milk in his mama's arms was, though.

Advent tea joy 21

 And a good book or two ... and some toys ...

Advent tea joy 22

But then, hey ...

Advent tea joy 16

 Hmmm.

Advent tea joy 23

Slurp.

:)

So you know, if you had come to my house for tea today ... it would have been cold (because the heat's not working), and there would have been messes all over ... as well as one sick kid and one kid who wouldn't turn down the tv ... and a baby running a bit wild ... but.

There would have been joy. I guarantee it. 

:)

My Advent Tea Journal

In the natural world ...

It's a mild (40s) and mostly dry week for us here in New England. Which is fine by me. For now. I'd love to see some snow next week!

What I'm drinking ...

I saw this spiced eggnog mix in the Williams-Sonoma catalog a few weeks back and it intrigued me. I'm a big warm-milky-drinks fan, so I decided to give it a try and oh, I'm so glad I did! It is delicious ... comforting and custard-y tasting. You can have it cold or warm as I did (with whole milk) or you could add a spoonful to your coffee. My pretty mug is one of a set of six, a gift from my parents a few years ago. Also, coincidentally, from Williams-Sonoma.

What I'm reading ...

Lots and lots of children's Christmas books and lovely December issues of my favorite magazines.

What I'm working on ...

I can't wait to show you all this ... I am putting together a hand-drawn weekly home + seasons planner for myself for 2015! It is definitely a labor of love, but I'm enjoying all the line-drawing and calendar-checking. It's all quite involved, so I will have to do a separate post about it soon. Here are some of the materials so far:

Advent tea joy 19

Words to inspire joy ...

Please see the very top of my post. :)

*

And now to hear from Denise and Mary, two dear readers and friends, about their tea and seasonal joy this week. I love to hear from you all, honestly. I feel like I yabber on so much here and tell you all - well, probably more than you want to know, lol - so when I read about your thoughts and families and teatimes and faith ... I am so humbled and grateful.

Please read on ...

From Denise ...

Dawn, thank you for hosting this lovely tea theme! I enjoy reading
all the entries, and virtually visiting others' homes! This morning I am having tea by the Christmas tree. (This is my snow tree. The only tree I put up this year, due to not being home enough!) Such a lovely sight with all the lights, which seems to be my Advent theme.

 I normally have early morning tea, by myself, in communion with my Heavenly Father. Such a peaceful, restoring time, to sit, have something hot to sip, and to open His Word. Tea time with the Grands, well, now, that is a whole other story! I don't have a steady place to enjoy a cuppa & communion. It varies with the season and my mood. The actual cup is one my Mom & I found at a flea market. That's where all my tea cup and saucers have been purchased from. Over the years, having tea with my grands, some have been broken, so I have to replace them. ~smile~

This morning I am having Constant Comment, decaf. However, it has a taste of coffee (which I do not drink) in it, because I forgot to run a cup out of the Keurig (which was a Christmas gift to my dear husband). I have to admit, the last year or so has been hard. We have been dealing with a lot of family issues. So, I find myself this year, in the same place I was last year: Intentionally looking for JOY in this Holy Day Season.

As I discovered last year, even when our world is not right, we can STILL find JOY.  (Joy ¡V a passion for expectation of good!) This year I am finding JOY in the re-telling of the Christ story of old with my grandchildren (whom I help homeschool.) I am finding JOY in spending time homeschooling! I am finding JOY in spending time with family members. I am finding JOY in ministering to my mother. I am finding JOY in ministering to those I meet on the street, yes, even just with a smile. I am finding JOY in calling the young mom who needs encouragement to share a Scripture and a prayer with her. I am finding JOY in spending time with a youth group who are on a quest to find the LORD. I am finding JOY in spending time with dear friends whose wife half of the couple has dementia. I am finding JOY in coming home, just to be with my husband. I am finding much JOY in my early morning time with the LORD!

 The key for me has been to be intentional in finding, looking for,
seeking JOY, that passion that leads to expecting good to come!!! I
have found much JOY in the following Scripture:

JOY in that HE is our salvation! (Is. 61:10, Ps. 35:9, Ps. 21:1)
JOY in that regardless of what is happening in my life today, in
HIS presence, there is fullness of JOY!  (Ps. 16:11)
JOY in that one day there will be everlasting JOY, and sorrow &
mourning will flee away! (Is. 51:10)
JOY in that He is my strength!  (Neh. 8:10)
JOY in that HE defends me!  (Ps. 5:11)
    Let all those that put their trust in You rejoice, let them ever
shout for JOY, because You defend them, let them also that love Your name be joyful in You.
JOY in that HE promises JOY in the morning 
For His anger endures but a moment, in His favor is life; weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning. (Ps. 30:5)

 JOY in that HE restores JOY! Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation. (Ps. 51:12)

JOY for me, can be summed up in the following Scripture:  

Fear not, for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which will be to all people. (Luke 2:10)

God had good tidings of GREAT JOY to deliver to ALL people!  His name is
JESUS!!

Denise's joy tea

*

From Mary ...

What we are drinking...

We've expanded our repertoire to included some teas by Twinnings. I am usually not a huge fan of Earl Grey but I absolutely love this one. The Lady Grey (Love the name!) is also delicious...sort of a milder version of the Earl Grey.

And also ... I found some organic green tea on sale at Whole Foods and decided to give it a try. I was very pleased. It's quite smooth and mild. Very nice.

And finally, we are still enjoying our Celestial Seasonings Peppermint Tea ... it's a winner! Also, we're branching out and trying a Celestial Seasonings variety pack. The Sleepy Time is lovely and perfect for right before bed! ;-)

Have a lovely evening ...

Mary's joy tea 1

I am so grateful to both Denise and Mary for sharing their thoughts and photos this week ... and a bit of themselves, as well. I am so glad to know you both and look forward to more weeks of tea together!

And my goodness, I've made you all wait to the very end of my (typically) long post, but I am happy to announce the winners of my book giveaways!

So without further ado ...

Nori Coleman has won A Miracle for St. Cecilia's,

and ...

JeNae has won The Christmas Shoes/Christmas Blessing duo!

Nori and JeNae - congratulations! I will be in touch soon to arrange mailing details. I hope you both enjoy these books (I know you will!).

And now I will wrap up at long last and thank you all for reading today. I hope your week is off to a good start, and that your evening is restful for you. Until we "speak" again ... take care of yourselves and your loved ones ... see you here again very soon!


Some Fun Friday Giveaways!

Giveaway books 1

Happy Friday, my friends!

I'm so excited to share a couple of book giveaways today! All the details are below, but before I get to that, I also want to mention that Monday's Advent Tea Journal topic will be: JOY. How do we infuse our family's holiday season with a simple, sustainable joy?

(I bet you saw that coming, didn't you?)

;)

Now, about those books!

They are pictured above, and I'm offering them as two separate giveaways - A Miracle for St. Cecilia's is one, and The Christmas Shoes/The Christmas Blessing is another.

I enjoyed these books very much  - especially, A Miracle for St. Cecilia's, which is the first in a wonderful series of books about a small Catholic parish in Vermont - but since I find myself with extra copies, I'd like to pass them along for someone else to enjoy. If you would like to enter the giveaway contest for these books, please answer this question in the comments box below:

What holiday joy do you look forward to most?

 Baking cookies or cutting down the tree or lighting candles or visiting the creche? I'd love to hear your thoughts, and will include them in Monday's Joy Tea post. Feel free to leave me an answer of any length - a few words or a few paragraphs, either is fine! I will choose the two winners randomly on Monday afternoon.

And I will announce the winners in my Tea post Monday evening!

(Please feel free to comment even if you're not interested in the books, and also, if you have a preference of one book (or books) over the other, please specify which option.)

Also, for my tea-drinking friends, if you would like to send me pictures for my post, I would love it! I'd love to see what your tea looks like, and hear about what you're drinking (or eating) these days! Please send those pics and/or comments to me at ...

bysunandcandlelight@comcast.net

Thanks so much, everyone ... and have a good weekend! I'll be busy with family things - especially Earlybird's birthday! - but I will see you back here on Monday for sure!


And we have a winner!

I'm very happy to announce this morning that Beth B. has won my extra copy of You Are Your Child's First Teacher!

Beth, I will be in touch soon to arrange mailing details ... and sincere thanks to all for participating!

Have a glorious Monday, my friends ... see you later today with a nursery post!

:)

p.s. Ok, here's a thought ... I know many of you were interested in this book and its concepts, and as I happen to be re-reading it now, I think I will post chapter summaries and my own thoughts as I move along. I may not cover every chapter, maybe just the sections that really speak to me ... I will share here with you and then we can discuss. Does this sound good? I think it will be fun. :)


A Parenting Book Giveaway!

My friends, I have an extra copy of an absolutely wonderful book from which I've gleaned much parenting inspiration ...

First Teacher

You Are Your Child's First Teacher by Rahima Baldwin Dancy

I've had my original copy for well over 10 years now but last fall, when we found out I was expecting again, I really wanted to re-read that book ... however, I couldn't find it anywhere! So what did I do in a fit of hormone-fueled impatience? Well, I ordered a new copy, of course. And then what did I find just last week after coming across a box of packed books from the move? Yes, that would be my original copy!

So, I'd love to offer this new copy to a reader here at my blog. It's a thick paperback full of lovely ideas and suggestions for raising your young child in a gentle, Waldorf-inspired home ...

Creating a nurturing home environment, establishing soothing routines and a seasonal rhythm, encouraging imaginative play and meaningful creative activities.

The author comes from a Waldorf education background, and while I don't subscribe to the deeper philosophies of Rudolf Steiner (Waldorf's founder), I do appreciate the Waldorf approach to parenting, home life and to some extent, homeschooling. So much of this book resonates with me, though, and my own mothering style ... and when my older boys were little I read it again and again ... and now I'm thumbing back through it with my new little one in mind. It's a good refresher course for this "new again" mama!

So, if you would like a chance to win my extra copy of You Are Your Child's First Teacher, please leave me a comment below. Any comment will do ... just say hi! Or ask me a question, whatever you have time for ... and on Monday I will announce a (randomly chosen) winner!

YAYCFT2

And in my next post I will be sharing that long promised tour of Little Bear's nursery - we finally moved his crib into his bedroom last night! And he had a pretty good night's sleep ... woke a couple of times but was soothed back to sleep ... but best of all woke up SO happy in his new room! I watched him on the monitor, looking all around his room and making happy little sounds. I was glad to see he was OK with waking up somewhere other than Mama and Daddy's room!

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Well my friends, I hope you have a nice Friday, and be sure to leave a comment if you'd like a chance to win this book. I'll look forward to hearing from you, and good luck!

See you all here again very soon ...


CD Giveaway Winner!

Well, I had such fun reading through all your "morningtime" comments! But very early this morning, I drew a name randomly from the interested parties, and I'm very happy to announce that:

Lacey won my extra copy of Baby's Morningtime

Baby's morningtime 2

Lacey, I will be in touch to arrange mailing details - I hope you enjoy your copy!

And thanks to everyone for taking the time to leave your thoughts on the whole early bird vs night owl debate ... :)

I'll see you all here again very soon - in fact, later this morning with a Kitchen Chat post!

**


A Picture Book Giveaway!

Morning tea and books

Good Wednesday morning, my friends! A cold winter's morning here, and I have a giveaway to tell you about, so please read on!

I'm up early (natch) - it's still dark - and I'm sitting here in my little library, surrounded by beloved books and baby things - this is "my" room, and this is my time. When Earlybird is up (but quietly playing in the other room) and the rest of the family (Little Bear included) is still sleeping. The heat is clanging in the pipes, the tea is hot in my cup, and the cat is nestled into the loveseat beside me ... It's barely six o'clock, and sure, there's a part of me that wishes I was still sleeping, too ... but there's a bigger part of me that's grateful to be awake and feeling well (if not exactly well rested), with a little time to gather myself together before the day starts rushing at me ...

One of the things I do in this me-time is to check my email and a few favorite websites, and a recent find, which I mentioned earlier this month, is the charming spot - beauty of the picture book. In her postings, Divina explores and celebrates those precious picture books - the ones we love to share with our children (but will happily read on our own). My library here is filled with such picture books - on display wherever I can fit them - familiar friends who visit for a time depending on season. And I'm always happy to "meet" (buy or borrow) new friends!

Well, in today's post, Divina introduces us to a lovely young lady, Miss Lydia Grace Kadar-Kullen, who has recently illustrated her first publicly available picture book, Saint Felix and the Spider. There is a wonderful interview to read and pictures of the process to peruse ... and, an exciting giveaway to enter! By leaving your comment at Divina's post, you are entered in a contest to win a copy of this beautiful book! They'll be accepting comments until 5 p.m. next Wednesday, March 5th, so hurry on over and take a look - enjoy the read, and throw your virtual hat in the ring!

:)

In the meantime, I'm going to savor these last few sips of my cooling tea and watch the skies brighten out my windows. I'll have a little "tour" of my library for you in a future post ... I'm quite happy with how this room turned out.

Blessings on your day, my friends ... see you here again very soon!


My Autumn Giveaway Winner!

Good Monday morning afternoon, my friends!

Sorry to be so late with this post ... Little Bear had his 4-month check-up very early this morning and the in-and-out, out-and-about has set me back a bit today! (He did very well, though!)

Here's a quick picture, taken before the shots ...

Owen @ checkup

:)

So! I'm very happy to announce the winner of my Autumn giveaway:

Kara has won my extra copy of Fall!!!

Her "baby days" comment was so lovely ...

My favorite baby pastime, strange as it may seem, is walking around the house (or rocking, depending on the babe) - those sways, dips, bobs that make up the "mama dance" in the early mornings and sometimes late at night. The house is quiet, baby is getting ready to (hopefully) rest and it is so nice, so sweet to have that time, to cuddle, to gently dance together. I'll miss it <3

Not strange at all, Kara - I know just what you mean! There is nothing quite so satisfyingly sweet as walking about our home with our babe in our arms. I find this time around with Little Bear I am savoring so much more, aware of just how fleeting these days - moments! - truly are. Just holding him close - he's too little to fidget down from my arms - is precious. We have our little stops around the house as we walk - the mirror, the window, the bookcase with all its little displays. Right now as I type I have him in the Baby Bjorn and his warmth and weight feels so good. :) 

So thank you Kara - thank you ALL - for taking the time to share your thoughts with me. I enjoyed reading about all your own baby loves and memories. And Kara, I will be in touch soon to arrange mailing details ~ I hope you enjoy your copy of Fall as much as we have!

Take care everyone, and enjoy this beautiful Monday ... I have a Bits-n-Bobs post coming later today!

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Baby Days & an Autumn Giveaway!

Owen 4 months

Today our Little Bear is four months old!

When I think that at this time last year I was newly pregnant (and yet, still unaware) I am reminded how quickly time passes. I would never have thought that the following September we would be so very, very blessed!

So to celebrate today I have a little giveaway to share ... I was setting up our Autumn books display and came across a duplicate of one of my favorites: Fall (part of the Four Seasons Series). It is such a beautiful paperback - published in English (but written by a Spanish author) it has a "European feel" to the description of seasonal enjoyments. The text is simple and sweet and the illustrations are just gorgeous - like watercolor paintings capturing all the best moods of the season.

Fall book

Anyhoo, clearly I love this book! So I'd like to offer my extra copy to one of my readers, and to do so I will ask anyone interested to leave a comment below and I'll draw a name on Monday morning.

My question for the giveaway is this:

What is/was your favorite baby pastime? What game or activity do/did you particularly enjoy sharing with your wee ones?

Currently Little Bear enjoys tummy play (as above), mirrors, music, board books and "itsy bitsy spider." As much as I wish to slow down time, it is fun to see how he changes and matures as the weeks go by. How new things click and familiar things just light him up. These are such special days, my friends!

So leave me a comment if you'd like and I'll add your name to the book drawing. (If you want to comment but are not interested in the book, just let me know.) On Monday I'll announce the lucky reader who'll be sent this sweet book!

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

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Organizing the Nest Survey ~ Two Giveaway Winners!

Nest2

So this morning I went through all the names attached to each one of the 243 comments (wow!) and then randomly selected two names as winners of the giveaway books ...

And I'm very happy to announce that ...

Louise

... is the winner of Where Women Create: Inspiring Work Spaces of Extraordinary Women!

*and*

Greta

... is the winner of Where Women Create: Book of Organization!

***

Congratulations, ladies! I hope you enjoy these books as much as I have. :) I will be in touch over the weekend (via email) so we can set up mailing details.

And again I offer my sincere thanks to all who took part in my survey. I wish I had something to award each of you, because I really appreciate the time and energy you spent answering all those questions. (And so many of you answered each and every post!) But hopefully you all have enjoyed reading through the many thoughts and strategies as much as I have! It has been SUCH fun to discuss organizing methods and household habits with you all. And as I mentioned before, I do plan to answer each of the survey questions myself in a series of follow-up posts ... they will come slowly over the month of February. :) 

And speaking of February - Rabbit, rabbit!

Today is the Feast of St. Brigid - patroness of Ireland, dairy farmers, midwives and babies. I'll for sure be reading aloud Brigid's Cloak at teatime today. (Enjoying Irish Breakfast decaf and sweet little "oat cakes.") How I love that beautiful book!

(A quick aside ~ had this baby been a girl, Brigit was one of the names we liked. As it happens, the boy name we've chosen is also very gaelic. ❤)

And tomorrow brings Candlemas, another lovely feast day when we have our candle supply blessed and take down the very last bit of Christmas greenery. It is also Groundhog Day here, when we wait with bated breath to see if Punxsatawny Phil sees his shadow or not (predicting a long winter or an early spring). This American tradition ties in nicely with the old English proverb ...

If Candlemas be fair and bright,

Winter will take another flight ...

But if Candlemas be cloudy with rain,

Winter is gone and won't come again.

(Or something like that.) 

And Sunday brings the Superbowl - not that we're paying all that much attention in our New England home. ;) Still. We'll probably watch some of it - until it's time for Downton of course. Actually we're more excited for Puppy Bowl IX on Animal Planet! Earlybird gets SUCH a kick out of this every year ...

Special weekend meals? Well, because we're going meatless today, I plan to serve the shepherd(ess) pie tomorrow night for supper, along with a cheesy loaf of bread and some lemon puddings for dessert. The lemon puddings are also in honor of Candlemas because they are bright and sunny, reminding us that Spring - no matter what Phil says - is not that far away. :)

So have yourselves a wonderful weekend, my friends. As always thanks so much for stopping by ... I will see you all again sometime soon!

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Organizing the Nest Survey, Part 3 ~ Calendars

Nest2

Happy Sunday, everyone!

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

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

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

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

So! Today's survey questions are as follows:

1. How many calendars are you currently using?

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

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

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

***

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

:)

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

1. to-do lists (daily and someday)

2. family food

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

***

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

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

***

Have a great Sunday my friends, and ...

GO PATS!!!


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

 

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

~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Nest2

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

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

1. Where do you plan out your family meals?

2. Where do you compose your grocery list?

3. Where do you keep your recipes?

***

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

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

1. to-do lists (daily and someday)

***

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

See you all again very soon!

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

Nest2

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

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

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

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

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

Either ...

Book of Organization

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

or

Where women create book

Where Women Create: Inspiring Work Spaces of Extraordinary Women

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

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

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

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

&

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

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

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

***

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

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

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