Loveliness Fairs Feed

Windows, How I Love Them ~


Paula is hosting today's Simply Lovely Fair, and though I don't always get to participate in these fairs, I knew this one was a definite. Windows?? If you've been reading my blog for even a short time, then you know how much I loooove my windows. ;)

Not because they're fancy; they're not. And not because they're brand spankin' new; they're not that either. (In fact, most of them are pretty old.)

Simply put, the reason I find my windows so lovely is because they are a portal to the world around us - most notably the natural world. They keep us in touch with the seasons, the weather, and the nature all around us. You know, there's a whole lot of nature that can be observed without ever leaving the comfort of the couch. :)   

Windows also connect us with the subtle changes of the day. We watch the light move across the room as the morning unfolds. The golden light of late afternoon reminds us it's time to start supper. Through our open windows we hear a spring storm approaching, or the tree frogs deep in the woods. We might smell rain in the air, or maybe the smoke from a distant brush fire. We see frost on the panes some mornings; on others we feel the humidity rising with the sun.

But whatever the world outside hands us - be it wind or rain or worse - we close our windows and we are safe. They warm us in the winter, cool us in the summer, and they lock us up tight when night falls.

Well, I could wax poetic for some time about windows (obviously), but I think at this point I should start sharing pictures. :) It's been rainy here the past few days, but finally we have some nice weather, so as the sun rose, I started snapping my favorite window spots around the house ...

The first thing I like to do in the morning, just as soon as it gets light, is to raise the blinds in all the bedroom windows. This one is Earlybird's:


The valance was made by my mother-in-law (EB's room has a lighthouse theme). I must say the one thing that stymies me about windows is window treatments. Very few of my windows actually have curtains - I tend to keep them bare and just hang things like vines and little lights along the top. This is mostly because A. I don't like to obstruct the view and B. I have no sense of style whatsoever.

Coming back out into the kitchen for another cup of coffee, I find the morning light spilling in ...


My kitchen is on the north side of the house, so it can be dark in the morning. We are toying with the idea of putting in solar tubes to let in more light, which as any homekeeper knows is essential in the kitchen - for efficiency as much as atmosphere. Still, I love my view of the woods. :)

And here is the family room, just waking up ~


These are the biggest windows in the house, and despite my previous statement about our house having old windows, these are relatively new. We put the family room on about three years ago (or is it four?). The one stipulation was lots of windows - I wanted to feel like I was living in my woods. Notice my cup of coffee in the lower right corner. This is where I enjoy my morning cuppa(s).

You might notice these windows still need to be trimmed. It's on the list. ;)

Next we have our French doors, which are not actually French doors, but a slider with extra big sidelights. They offer us plenty of light (that's the sunrise) and a nice view of the backyard.


Here's that same shot, an hour later:


I so love the morning light. :)

And last but not least, our learning room windows. These are my most favorite of all:


Just outside these windows is the huge spruce tree from which hang - at last count - eight birdfeeders. Through these windows we've identified birds of all kinds. We've observed the (sometimes bizarre) behaviors of squirrels - back, red and gray. We've spotted toads and bugs bigger than big. We've saved critters from cats, watched turkeys scale a fence, and we've spied on our nocturnal neighbors as well. (Just to clarify, I mean raccoons and skunks.)


It's a wonder we get any learning done around here. ;)

The way I see it, through these windows we experience life - the quiet everyday nature of life that passes almost unseen by most of the world. These windows allow us to be privy to that - in a small, but not insignicant way. The world is a big place, and learning all about it takes a long time. It's best to start small. Because that world begins just a step outside the back door - or I should say just beyond the window screen. :)

Well, I thank you very much for stopping by today, and my apologies to Paula for being so late with my Fair entry! Her Fair was just lovely without me though - I hope you'll pop on over to check it out! And ... I hope you all have a good night ~ I'll see you all again sometime soon.

Simple & Lovely ~ Spring-in-a-Pot


Susan is this week's Fair hostess ~ her theme is Flower Pots. :)

Our gardening plans are still very much in the planning - rather than the planting - stage, and so I have no true pots (in the ceramic or cedar sense of the word) to show you just yet. I will eventually though, (fingers crossed), because we hope to do a good bit of container gardening on our deck this year ...

But for now, I would like to show you our very simple marigold seedlings. They perch cheerfully in the learning room windows, reaching for the sunlight, seemingly grateful for the dribbles of water they receive daily. Bookworm keeps a close eye on them, and in fact, just thinned the seedlings out yesterday. We planted these last month, on The Feast of the Annunciation, with plans to move the grown plants - aka Mary's Gold - to a simple Marian-themed garden in the spring. I have seen beautiful gardens done in large wooden containers, and this is what I first had in mind, a cedar barrel of some sort and size ...

Although ... a large terra cotta pot might do nicely, too. Especially if it is first embellished with the children's handiwork. And this brought to mind a craft we did over a year ago ...

I hope it's not considered cheating to link to a post from my past, but I think these fingerprint-ladyug pots would be darling for a Mary garden, one the children might tend to themselves. Here I show a small size pot holding a candle, but this could be done in the same way (without the ribbon) using a larger pot meant for holding plants out-of-doors. (I would think a protective shellac of some kind would be needed.)


In light of our recent beetle adventures, this might be a fun way to remember Our Lady and our ladies, at the same time. :)

Stop by Susan's later today for a refreshing dose of spring-in-a-pot, and mark your calendars for the next Lovely Spring Fair ~ it will run on April 30th at Paula's, and the theme is Windows. (And you all know how I feel about windows!) :)

Also, please stay tuned for more about our container gardens ~ a few more weekends and we'll be ready to plant!

Have a great day, everyone!

Lovely Laundry ~ Remembering Grandma's Way


Today, Colleen is hosting the first Simply Lovely Fair of the Spring ~ the topic this week is Laundry. How can we make laundry less of a dreary chore and more of a pleasant endeavor?

I've been thinking a lot lately about how I manage my household, and as I do, I find myself remembering the way my grandmother ran her own home. She probably didn't think about it half as long or hard as I seem to - and yet, her home was tidy, clean and comfortable. She was always on top of things, and her family's needs were always met. I can stand to learn from her example in so many areas, but for today, I'll focus on her laundry; she had quite a way with it ...

I happen to love doing laundry, though I do find it hard to keep up with. I love the way good, fresh laundry looks, smells and feels, and I love the way it serves my family. Laundry done well means drawers full of clean clothing, closets hung with neatly pressed clothes, and beds made with sweet-smelling linens. It brings comfort in both the physical and emotional sense of the word. Plainly put, when the laundry is caught up, my maternal psyche can rest. :)

When I was young, I watched my grandmother work absolute magic with laundry. She had a way - a system I guess - of keeping up with it all. First of all, her laundry never piled up. As with the rest of her household, things in the laundry area were kept tidy and running smoothly. The area was in the basement - a small, but efficient space. The ironing table was always set up, ready to go, just beneath a clothesline where Gram would line dry many items inside. (There was also an outdoor clothesline just outside the cellar door.) In one corner stood the freezer (filled with berries, pie crust and applesauce, etc.) and in the other stood a utility sink, where items could be rinsed out and where Grandpa could wash his hands when he came in from the garden. A tall set of shelves held the few items she needed for laundering. She didn't experiment much - she didn't need to. She didn't waste a lot of time looking for the perfect thing, she went with what was useful and good and made it work for her. And for her it was a box of powdered Tide and Bounce dryer sheets. I think there was some kind of stain remover, and I remember a Fels Naptha bar as well as a glass shaker for ironing. I have that glass shaker on my shelf now - of course I have no idea what to do with it. ;)

Her linen closet (a thin, tidy cupboard in the hallway) was a sight to behold: neatly stacked medical supplies, bedding, towels and paper goods. So much was stored here, and yet never too much. Her bedding was most notable, though. I never slept so well as I did in a bed made up by Gram. In the summer, the sheets were cool and smooth as silk; in the winter, the flannel blankets were soft as butter.

I never gave any of this much thought until I was older; as a child you take all these things for granted. But when I was first married, and learning how to manage a home on my own, my grandmother would often take home a pile or two of our laundry to do for us. She would return it to us, and we would hardly recognize our own clothing! It was so clean, soft and smelling as fresh as a new spring day ...

So I began to pay attention. :)

Here are a few notes on laundering, a la my Grandma's ways ~

~ Never over-fill your washer.

~ Check clothing before adding to washer (empty pockets, etc.)

~ Let the washer fill up a third of the way; then add your detergent.

~ Once detergent has worked into the water, then start adding clothing.

~ Don't let clothes sit in the washer; set a timer if you need to.

~ Shake out each piece of laundry before tossing it in dryer.

~ Hang what you can on a clothesline (inside or out).

~ Don't let clothes sit in the dryer; retrieve and fold them promptly.

~ Choose your clothing and linens wisely; you don't need a lot. Buy well made items that will wash well and last.

Now, here are a few notes about where my laundry can stand improvement:

~ We need to make less of it. I only have three children and yet it seems like I do laundry for a football team! (Of course they're boys and I think boys count twice when it comes to laundry.)

~ To make less laundry we need to own less clothing. I must find time to weed out our clothing and fill bags for donation. We also need to be better about addressing clothing more responsibly at night; if something is not dirty, it should be put away properly, not left underfoot or in a pile.

~ Our clothing and linen storage areas really need to be overhauled ~ closets, bureau drawers and seasonal storage boxes. This is a (huge) topic for another post.

~ I need to be better about keeping up with the laundry process. I tend to start laundry and then not complete the cycles. So, all too often I have laundry that needs to be rewashed or laundry that sat in the dryer and got cold and wrinkled. I go back and forth on how to address this. I sometimes think doing one load each day of the week is the ticket, but I feel maybe one or two full laundry days a week is better - days I know we'll be home and I can keep up with each part of the process. Using the kitchen timer is so helpful, and having an area to spread out and fold, too.

When I'm feeling brave, I will photograph my laundry area, a project in progress. Bill is re-doing the kids' playroom, and at the same time we are re-vamping the laundry and pantry areas. It will be nothing fancy or formal, but simple and efficient (and lovely) - just like Gram's I hope. :)

If you're looking for more thoughts and ideas on laundry, I hope you will stop by Colleen's Fair today! I know I will be there later, with a cup of tea in one hand, and a pencil in the other - ready to add tips to my list. :)

Happy Friday, my friends!

The Loveliness of Planning

"A good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow."

How much do I love this quote? I really must remember it. Because Loveliness_buttonwhen it comes to planning - which, you might have noticed, I do a lot - I can easily spend far too much time trying for perfect, when I could be making do very nicely with good.

So I'm going to resolve to make my plans good today; I'm going to forget trying to make them perfect tomorrow. What a huge waste of time it is trying for perfect! What an opportunity for grace and humility it is to do my best and accept that it will never be perfect ... but it might be just good enough.

Of course, I can still spend my time planning, and thinking about planning. :) And to that end, when the lessons are done later today and the boys are off to play, I'll pour myself a hot cup of tea and sit down with Sarah's Loveliness of Planning Fair ~ it's full of tips and ideas and most importantly, support.

Because that's the key. Supporting one and another as we strive to do our best by our families. We may never find the perfect system at someone else's blog, but we will find encouragement. We'll find ideas - maybe even life changing ideas - or maybe we'll just find a smile. It's just nice to know we're all walking a similar path, tripping over the same stones ...

My new mantra: never mind making perfect, just make do. Because perfect is not just a fairy tale; it's really not even on the table ...

Perfect is for Him, not for me.

I'll be back later to share my progress. (And I hope you'll do the same!) Whatever I come up with, it might be good (or it might not, lol) but it definitely won't be perfect.

And that's ok. :)

The Holiday Home ~ Preparing


The last crumb has been swept up and the wineglasses are all back on the shelf ~ another Thanksgiving has come and gone. So it shouldn't come as a shock (but somehow it always does) that Christmas is just 31 days away! It's high time we mother birds get busy - our families are depending on us! It's time for us to feather our holiday nests ...

To that end, I began my holiday preparations this weekend, and I'd like to share what I've been up to. :)

Early this morning, just before I did the grocery shopping, I ran into the bookstore and bought our Christmas cards. This is such a highlight of the year for me! I looove Christmas card shopping, and I usually mull over the decision for days (weeks?) upon end, but this year I really want to get our cards out early. So I didn't dawdle, but made up my mind on the spot (buying two kinds just to be safe) and hoped Bill would agree they were lovely. (He did!)

Tomorrow I will make up a basket in which to store the cards and all the necessities like my address book, holiday stamps, a favorite pen and pretty stickers for the envelopes. I've written up a schedule for myself, too ~ to work on a few cards a night beginning tomorrow night. As a treat I'll have a cup of tea each night while I work and maybe a little peppermint patty as well. ;)

I also made visits to my favorite craft stores to stock up on items for upcoming projects. Once home, I made up a box for these supplies. This is just a cardboard storage box that I got at the office supply store. It will hold anything I need for upcoming projects - but that's all! (I'm thinking I might need more than one box!)

I got this idea from my friend Jennifer who once described a craft-storage bureau with drawers for each season. I thought a storage box could stand in for a drawer. And since it's portable I can keep it handy in the learning room (where we do most of our crafting) and quickly whisk it away when company is coming.

Here's a peek inside:


Then I began working on our windows. If you've read my blog for a while, you know how much we love our windows! I decided to start our holiday decorating here.


I dug up an old grapevine wreath (this would be the very same one we use for the Lenten crown of thorns) and purchased a new 5 foot strand of "woodberries" at the craft store.


I didn't do anything other than wrap the berry strand around the wreath and it held. Easy as pie. I hung it on a thumbtack (which was already in place) and added the cute little bird-on-her-nest that you see in the top picture. I placed a burgundy gingham bow at the top. (I love gingham in country shades.)

I then tied up a length of twine across the windows and attached miniature clothespins (another craft store find). I remember seeing this idea somewhere (blog, magazine, I can't recall) and I thought this would be a fun way to display the Christmas cards we receive.


The twine stretches over the wreath and is held in each corner by a thumbtack and ribbon.


And as if on cue, our very first Christmas card arrived in today's mail! I don't have a picture of it in this post, but I placed a ceramic pie dish at the head of our table. Each day I will place any cards that arrive into the dish and at supper we will open them all together. We'll say a prayer for that family and hang up the card on our line. If we are so fortunate as to receive more cards than one line can hold, then we'll string another line along the front set of windows! :)

But perhaps the most exciting thing we did today (in the kids' minds anyway) was the putting up of the Christmas tree! We don't usually put it up this early, but I really wanted the lights - so lovely and warm on these dark afternoons. We won't hang ornaments for a while - for now, we'll just bask in its glorious light.


It's a good start, but there are many more feathers to add to our nest. None very grand, mind you - just those humble little things that make a family Christmas what it is - the most wonderful time of the year. :)

The Loveliness of Handmade Gifts

There's an old saying that goes, "It's not the gift, but the thought that counts." TheLoveliness_logo_4 true beauty of a handmade gift is, it's both. Because a gift that comes from your hands, comes by way of your heart ~ it's a little bit of your love all wrapped up in ribbons.

I am so pleased and honored to be your hostess for The Loveliness of Handmade Gifts. Before we begin, I'd like to thank everyone who contributed to today's Fair! Reading through your varied and valuable ideas, I have to say, your families are truly blessed to have you crafty and generous ladies! And we are blessed to have a peek into your holiday plans, for they are very inspiring!

So fire up your glue guns, everyone ~ Christmas is just 48 days away! Those seven weeks will fly by, but there's still plenty of time to crank out at least a few handmade gifts this year. I urge you to grab a pen and some paper (not to mention a hot cup of tea) before you begin perusing all the lovely links in this post. I know you will come away raring to craft and create!

But that's enough from me, let's get started with our first handmade gift idea, some heavenly soaps from Genevieve ...

"Last year my daughter Annie (then 7) and I experimented with making handmade gifts using melt-and-pour soap! We bough blocks of clear and blocks of white soap from and lots of different molds, colorings and scents. We checked books out of the library to inspire our designs. We ended up perfecting a guardian angel soap that was a huge hit with our family and friends. Using white soap, we made cherubs with wings, which we then embedded in oval bars of clear soap. We scented them with a soft fragrance and wrapped them in heavenly blue opalescent transparent papers. For the men, we used gold-colored soap and frankincense and myrrh fragrance and eagle molds. All the recipients expressed delight over the beauty and fragrances of their gifts. Hope this inspires some! This year we may try candles!"

Now let's stop by Rebeca's and admire her beautiful handsewn quilts. She has wisely learned that it's all about the found moments and fond memories.

Sarah and her family are also finding time for crafting, continuing a special Christmas tradition by knitting for the world.

Stop by and see Ann's handmade Christmas - family treasures abound, from homemade cards to a gorgeous nativity set, sunny window stars, and a Madonna and Child ornament I can't wait to try!

Over at Tracy's Pinewood Castle, she's pressing summer flowers into service - as glorious pressed flower bookmarks!

Maria shares a sneek peek at the special knitted surprises in store for her family this Christmas. (Shhh, don't tell!)


A basket of homebaked cookies, presented in pretty wax bags ...

Therese's mom tells us about her favorite handmade Christmas gift ~ thread crochet snowflakes:

"I don't have a camera that allows me to scan photos of them, but they make a lovely, relatively easy-to-make gift. The simplest ones take only a few basic stitches, but as your skills advance, they can become very elaborate and even three-dimensional." They sound lovely!

Ooh, and wait till you see the prettiest little potpourri pies made by Cay and her girls! They're delicious and darling!

Mary Ellen's gifts will feed you body and soul ~ check out her beautiful jars filled with herbal goodies and coffee delights!

Jessica's children will have lots of fun making ornaments and the whole family will enjoy treats from the kitchen - all yummy, and all made with love!

Candace shares lots of ideas for clever and creative homemade cards, and in a second post, some scrumptious homemade treats!


Gods-eye ornaments make nice gifts for a pastor or teacher ...

And Beth shares these ideas ...

"Both my sons requested their own oven mitts for Christmas. I have made a few pair in the past, and they want some for all their cooking adventures. My youngest also requested a chef's hat. Of course I love to make lots of handmade items including felt animals, pin cushions, coasters and mostly baby/lap quilts. I've done some mini quilts as well. They can be viewed throughout my blog."

Nori is following in her grandmother's footsteps by working on lots of crafty ideas this Christmas. I can't wait to try out that old fashioned punchneedle hobby!

These hand-sewn ballet bags by Megan are too-too adorable! What lucky little girls!

And speaking of lucky little girls, Cici's daughter will be so blessed by her own little homemade sewing kit!

Meredith reminds us that handmade is best, sharing fabulous foodie gifts and linking us to her (lovely!) new handcraft blog, Threads of Love.


A plate of lemon snowballs with a stash of lemon tea tucked around.

Amy very kindly left me a comment with her exciting ideas for the season ...

"I'm making terrariums for my friends out of antique mason jars. They will have beautiful miniature red rose plants inside the jars. I will be baking up a storm, giving work/school acquaintances, neighbors and the mailman self-decorated sugar cookies and ginger snaps wrapped in cute little white paper lunchbags (purchased at the Dollar Tree store, of couse!). I am planning on making handmade photo books for the family with pictures from our annual beach trip. I've never done handmade book binding before so this will be an experiment. Oh, and I will be knitting mittens for my friends out of this gorgeous recycled silk yarn I got from eBay for next to nothing. We are also making homemade moonshine for our mutual friends and giving out honey from our hives (we're backyard beekeepers!)."

Jennifer's lovely daughter Marianna models a sheer and shimmery stole - just perfect for a day at sea (or otherwise!).

Stef's post is positively chock-full of handmade gift ideas - delicious foods and handmade rosaries, packaging tips and thoughts on theme baskets, too!

Colleen shares wonderful thoughts on why a handmade Christmas is in order for her family this year. Her plans sound lovely!


Styrofoam + sequins = pretty ornaments for someone's tree ...

Terry has started a blog just for sharing her Posh Baskets and wonderful gift basket ideas (lucky for us!).

Cindy shares a beautiful array of handmade cards - in all kinds of styles! I am thrilled by her wreath instructions, too - I'm hankering to try that very craft!

Michelle got an early start on her handcrafted Christmas, but she still feels she has miles to go ... one thing's for sure, she has lots of family support!

Erin shares the tale of her son's gift to his mother ~ a special surprise, hand-built with love.

Laura has been busy crafting Christmas - with colorful soaps, candy bark, dipped spoons, etc. - but wait till you see the beaded rosary made by her husband!

Ann shares the (beautiful!) instructions for making a peace dove Christmas card, and tucked inside are words that describe the best gift of all.

I love Elena's idea this year to write more handwritten and heartfelt notes. What a beautiful tradition to begin - and at the best time of year!


Easy-peasy no-sew puppet curtains, in prints reflecting the seasons.

And if I may quote from Elena in my own farewell note for the day ...

"Sharing one's self is always the best gift of all!"

So give it some thought ... what hobby comes from your heart? Why not make it a handmade holiday this year?

Thank you so much for joining me today! I hope you all, like me, are positively inspired by all the creative, loving ideas shared here! There are just two days till the weekend, my friends ~ shall we meet at the craft store bright and early Saturday morning? You bring the checklist, I'll bring the coffee!

Have a happy, crafty day! :) 

Don't forget!

The Loveliness of Handmade Gifts is happening here in two days!

I have received a few submissions so far (and thank you very much!) but there is plenty of room for more! Please see my earlier post describing The Fair in full detail and how you can participate (whether you blog or not).

I had hoped to get my own creative juices flowing tonight at my homeschool group's craft circle, but alas, I've been waylaid by a lousy bout of food poisoning. (Ack, don't ask.) Instead, here I am mired in flannel and sipping ginger ale, while Bill (God bless him) works at home and tends to the kiddoes.

So consequently, I may not be back later today with another post, but I wanted to get the word out today that there's still plenty of time to send me something for The Fair! Remember, you can leave me a comment here, or send me something via e-mail (drhanigan AT comcast DOT net). I'd like all entries by Wednesday night, please. :)

Thanks, everyone. Stay well and keep warm!

Little Crafts for November


Before I begin, I want to thank you all for your concern, and assure you we are doing fine. The hurricane, such as it was, has come and gone. Technically it was only a Nor'easter by the time it got here, but we still got some heavy rain and wind yesterday. Folks that live down on the Cape bore the brunt of the storm; a dear friend of ours had a tree land on her house! (Thankfully, she is fine.)

It was all clear by morning ~ a bright November sun climbed the sky, and yet it was downright chilly! New England has been spoiled by a very warm autumn, but I think our time is up. We just got in from Crackerjack's last soccer game of the season ... and my teeth have only just stopped chattering!

Earlier today I worked on a couple of crafts I wanted to share with you. These are all tied to Thanksgiving, but can easily be adapted to the Christmas holidays. Since The Loveliness of Handmade Gifts is coming up in just a few days (!) I thought I'd roll up my sleeves and get a little crafty! :)

First I pulled out these cute mini loaf pans I bought at Michael's last month for all of 50 cents apiece:


Filled with freshly baked pumpkin bread, these will make nice favors for our Thanksgiving guests. They would also make cheerful gifts for neighbors, friends, teachers, etc. (The craft stores now have plenty in winter holiday themes.) Once the breads have cooled, they can be wrapped up in colorful cellophane and ribbon. (And this reminds me I'm low on cellophane and ribbon! Hmmm ... I'd better start a list.)

Next I worked on our Thanksgiving invitations ... 


I honestly had no real plan as I set into this project; I kind of just figured it out as I went. I had picked up the rubber stamp last year (it reads Come spend Thanksgiving with us). And just this fall I picked up the dark teal ink pad, russet-print ribbon, and fire-opal glitter (all Martha Stewart line at Michaels). I toodled around with it all, stamping the message on ivory card stock:


and adding a little glitter:


I hot-glued some ribbon to the borders of the card ...


And then cobbled the rest of it together:


Definitely homespun, but kind of festive and fun. :) I only got a few done, but hope to mail a batch out later this week.

Next it was a very quick craft for the month of November:


How I love unfinished wood letters! You can do almost anything with them. I painted these in autumnal colors, and set them up in our classroom window:



This craft took literally less than half an hour, and if I recall, each letter cost about $1. I was sorely tempted to glitter them, but I kept them plain and earthy for now. Come December 3rd, the first Sunday in Advent, the message will change and so will the colors, and most likely there will be liberal amounts of glitter. ;)

Well, I'd best be off ~ Sunday is rolling to a close here and I still have a chicken to roast and a week to plan! Actually, I spent Saturday sketching a lesson plan for the month of November - I'll share it here very soon.

Have a great night!

From the Heart of your Home ...

... come the loveliest of gifts, those that have been made with your very own hands ~ or perhaps the helpful little hands all around you. :)

Handmade gifts might come from the kitchen, the garden or the craft Loveliness_logo_3basket ... but whatever their source, they always come from the heart and they are always lovely ...

And so it is with great pleasure I announce that The Loveliness of Handmade Gifts will be right here next week on Thursday, November 8th! And I am cordially inviting everyone to join me!

Please share your thoughts and plans for making homemade gifts this year - or tell us about gifts you've made in years past. Bloggers and non-bloggers alike are welcome to participate (see below for my contact information).

Here are some ideas to jump-start your thoughts ...

~ What are your favorite homemade gifts to give and receive?

~ Do you plan to make some gifts this year?

~ Are you perhaps longing to do so but can't find the time? (A post about not making gifts is fine too!)

~ Do you have a signature gift for which you are "famous" within certain circles?

~ How about your thoughts on how handmade gifts can save a family money?

~ Or perhaps what great lessons they teach children who give and receive them - patience and creativity?

~ Do you set up a "Santa's Workshop" for yourself? What supplies do you lay in for gift making?

~ What are your favorite gift making resources - where do you get your ideas? (Some of my favorites will appear soon on the sidebar at right.)

~ How about handmade cards and gift-wrapping?

~ What about gifts of time, love and energy?

(And for more ideas, please see last year's Handmade Gifts Fair!)

Any ideas about homemade gifts are welcome and I would love to hear from you! If you are a blogger, please send me a link to your post or leave me a link in the comments box below. And if you're not a blogger, you are also more than welcome to join in the fun! Just send me an email with your ideas about handmade gifts (and a picture if you'd like) and I will plug you right into the Fair!

Please send all submissions for the Loveliness of Handmade Gifts to drhanigan AT comcast DOT net. I would like to have everything by next Wednesday night so I can get the post up bright and early Thursday morning!

And please feel free to help me spread the word! Grab the Loveliness button above, and invite your readers to join us!

So let's get our creative engines going, ladies ~ Christmas is just seven weeks away! November is here and it's the weekend! Let's get those thinking caps on ... and get out those needles and that glue and those cookie cutters and that rolling pin ... ;)

Thanks for stopping by, and I hope to hear from you soon! :)

The Loveliness of Leaves

Leaf1_3Colleen is hosting this week's Loveliness Fair at Footprints on the Fridge later today ~ our subject this time: Autumn Leaves!

Here in New England, the fall foliage is having its last brilliant hurrah. A forecast of bright cool weather should assure us several more days of color ... and then the raking begins! Leaf4

(Personally, I think those clever leaves knew to stick around Boston for all the celebrating this week.) ;)

And please stay tuned for a post later today with details about next Leaf3week's Fair which will be hosted right here ... all about The Loveliness of Handmade Gifts! I'll be collecting posts about the upcoming holidays - and your plans and projects for making handmade goodies and gifts. More information to come, but I hope you'll consider joining me! Everyone is invited along! :)

Crafters Night!

I have no time to blog tonight, because I am on my way out to my very first Knitting Circle! Actually, luckily for me, all kinds of handcrafters are invited, not just knitters. Sure I've knitted before, but I'm sort of a random crafter - I dabble and dream more than I actually finish things. ;)

So, I have my bag all packed ...


.. with autumn-hued yarn, felt, embroidery thread and oatmeal-colored linen. Hopefully I'll feel inspired to start something!

But just in case I draw a blank, I am also packing a bunch of craft magazines and idea books, as well as my two most recent journals, in which I have taped loads of clippings and pictures from all kinds of places. I would like to at least maybe write out a handmade gifts list for Christmas. (Oh, and speaking of handmade gifts, ahem, the Loveliness Fair on this very subject will be right here on November 5th! Stay tuned for more details soon!)

Well, so much for no time to blog, lol. You know I can always eke out a paragraph or two, even on my way out the door.

Have a great night, everyone. I'm off to craft!


And Speaking of the Lovely Fall ...

This should keep us busy for for a while! :)

Below is the schedule for the upcoming Autumn Loveliness Fairs. Thanks to Elizabeth for putting it all together!

Please help us celebrate The Loveliness of ...

*September 24: Family Games (Marianne at Learning2Love)

*October 1: Comfort Drinks (Nutmeg at Life in a Nutshell)

*October 8: Natural Fibers (Katherine at The Onion Dome)

*October 15: All Things Apple (Kristie at A Walk in the Woods)

*October 22: Comfort Food (Brenda at Coffee, Tea, Books and Me)

*October 29: Leaves (Colleen at Footprints on the Fridge)

*November 5: Handmade Gifts (Dawn at By Sun and Candlelight)

*Novemer 12: Fall Sports (Mary Chris at Our Little Pocket)

*November 19: Pie (Cindy at Kelly's Klassroom Korner)

*November 26: Preparing to Prepare (Susan at To Order All Things)

*December 3: Gifts that Can't be Put in a Box (Kim at Starry Sky Ranch)

And don't forget, Alice Cantrell is hosting a series of Toymaking Fairs all the way through to Christmas!

You can always find a link to the current Loveliness Fair on my righthand sidebar (updated every Monday). Just look for the pink Loveliness logo and give it a click! :)

Comfort in a Cup


At this time of year, as the holidays grow near, it's so lovely to settle down with a hot cuppa something soothing and sweet. Why not find a moment to do just that? Wrap a warm blanket around yourself and lay a new magazine, or a good book, in your lap. Take a few moments just to drink in the glory of the season and relax. Of course, if you look too comfortable, your lap might not remain empty for long! ;)

Now, it goes without saying, as much as we love (and sometimes long for) those quiet moments of solitude, they are, not surprisingly, few and far between. How much better then to create moments like these to share with our children? If we show them how to slow down and relax - to appreciate a warming cup, to take comfort in a cozy spot, and find joy in a good book - we can enjoy these pleasures together.

Speaking of warmth, comfort and joy, Nutmeg is hosting tomorrow's Loveliness Fair, celebrating the pleasure of Comfort Drinks. At the risk of being repetative (but in the interest of time) please let me link you to two archived posts from last autumn. Each features ideas and recipes for special drinks to share with your children:

So as the days grow short and cool, keep your cupboard stocked with all the fixings for your favorite tea (or hot cider, cocoa or milk) and your baskets filled with good books. Drape a fleecy throw on the couch and make time - alone or with company - to sit, sip and savor.

Autumn is for Family Games

The other day, when it was just cool enough that the fireplace sparked on, and the shadows grew long in the back yard, Bookworm cast a thoughtful glance outside and said, "You know I think it's time we got back to our family games night."

And right he was.

Once upon a time, Friday nights were known as Game Nights in our family. We'd stay up a bit later than usual, and play a game of one child's choice or another's. I'm remembering lots of Star Wars Monopoly and a fair few games of Battleship, too. It's been too long since we've made time for quiet game nights, and with a long cold winter not far off, it's a perfect time to revive that tradition.

A Family Games Night is a swell way to just sit and be with your family. You don't even need to spend time searching for lost playing pieces or missing dice, you can just make one up on the spot (it's amazing what kids will come up with!) or play any number of old-fashioned parlour games like charades and the like. And it goes without saying Family Games Nights are made all the more special when they are proposed alongside a trayful of hot cider and buttered popcorn. :)Haba_halloween_trick_or_treat_gan_2

A few games we love:

But while we get our Game Nights going again, I'm also going to order several of these so the boys can make up their own games this fall. In fact, I'm going to order one for myself and work on a Nature Study game! (I have just the perfect squirrel playing piece, too!)

Well, before I go, please let me link you to Marianne's blog, Learning2Love, where the Loveliness of Family Games will take place tomorrow. She's collecting posts through tonight, so if you have something to share, please do leave her a link. This will be the first of the Fall Fairs, and for the whole Autumn schedule, pop on over to Real Learning where Elizabeth has all the lovely details. :)

A (Free) Museum Day!

Have you heard about this? I just read about Museum Day in my homeshool support group's newsletter. You can learn more at, but the gist of it is:

"Museum Day is a nationwide event taking place on Saturday, September 29, 2007 where participating museums and cultural institutions across the country offer free admission to Smithsonian readers and visitors, allowing for one day only, the free-admission policy of Smithsonian's Washington, D.C.-based facilities to be emulated across the country."

You can find out what museums are participating in your state here. Here in Massachusetts we have a LOT to choose from! I am very torn between the MFA and the Harvard Museum of Natural History. We've been to the former (though not in many years) but we've never visited the latter. Either would be great fun!

This, of course, means I'll be making up a basket full of books about museums! A few I have in mind:

Oh, and I just might stick in a copy of Night at the Museum for a fun movie night, too! ;)

I also remember a wonderful article on museum trips in an old issue of Martha Stewart Kids (why, oh, why they ever stopped publication is beyond me). I couldn't find a link to it, so here are some tips I gleaned from the article, which was authored by Theresa Robinson. And I must note, I offer these tips fully realizing that many of you are, in fact, seasoned and intrepid museum visitors; city-driving chicken that I am though, we are decidedly not. ;)

These are not my words, but straight from the article itself. I'm just quoting the sections I zipped with my highlighting pen:

(Some) parents seem to believe that a gallery-by-gallery six-hour grand tour is the only way to "get their money's worth" from the trip. In truth, the best way for you to benefit from museum visits with kids is to reset your priorities. Make it a goal to find one astonishing sculpture, one painting that prompts a conversation, one eye-opening exhibit. Then, leave if you'd like.

"Establishing a relationship with museums is the first step for children in their development of an aesthetic sense - their idividual appreciation of artistic beauty," says Sharon Shaffer, executive director of the Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center in Washington, D.C.

Gather information from the library or Internet about the exhibits you will be seeing, and talk about them in advance.

The museum's education department is a great resource for guides and brochures.

If your child will want to draw pictures or take photographs, call ahead and inquire about any restrictions.

(Neat website:

When you arrive, take a few moments to look over a map of the museum with your child.

Ask open-ended questions about what she is seeing. Jot down your child's own questions as they arise; part of the fun will be going home and finding the answers together.

A plastic sandwich bag hung on a clipboard with binder clips keeps colored pencils close at hand for making sketches or jotting down details like names and dates.

When you get home ... Set up a museum shelf or corner in your child's room where she can hang her own artwork and arrange exhibitions of objects ... Many children have a natural tendency to "curate" their own little exhibitions - selecting and arranging favorite items from among their possessions so that they go together somehow. Support and encourage this instinct; it teaches kids that by grouping objets in certain ways, they can tell particular stories.

I love this last idea most of all! I think a museum-themed learning center would be a great way to follow up our visit. Wherever we end up going, I am sure it will be a fun day -once we get past all that traffic, lol. So where do you think you'll go?

Before I go, I want to link to Cindy's Loveliness of Summer Vacations Fair. What a perfect week to relax and reflect on that time-honored tradition of family togetherness. I will have to live vicariously through all of Cindy's links since we, ahem, have not had a vacation in ... um, years? Yes, we're all about the day-trips around here, and speaking of - we're heading to the beach at the end of the week! Still, there's nothing quite like a summer vacation, is there?

Also, one more bit of housekeeping - is anyone having trouble with my blog loading or being slow? My friend Tami is having a terrible time with it (particularly, it seems, with my banner) and we want to figure out if the problem lies within my blog or her computer. Thanks in advance for your help.

Well, I'm off for now - to shuck some corn, grill some burgers and wash up a dish or two. I hope you all have a great last week of summer. :)

Back to (Home)school Supplies

"Don't you just love New York in the fall? It makes me want to buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address."

I've never even been to New York City, let alone in the fall, but I love this quote from one of my all-time favorite movies, one I seem compelled to watch at this time every year. (Do you recognize the movie? Take a guess!) I especially love the opening scenes in all their fall splendor, as the two main characters rhapsodize about things like coffee, Scotch tape and number two pencils ~ a few of my favorite things.

School supplies - no matter how old we get, no matter how far away from Apple_2academia we grow - will always seem an integral part of this time of year. Goldenrod and golden pencils. Crisp morning air and crisp packs of college-ruled paper. A landscape that comes alive in every shade of the crayon box. And let's not forget the traditional apple for teacher!

And so fittingly, this Monday, Kim is hosting the Loveliness of Back to School. I must confess, I've really been looking forward to this fair ever since the summer schedule was first announced several weeks ago. I wrote it down in my calendar and as I did I thought: when we get to that day in late August I will be in my happy zone - books will be strewn all about, curriculum orders will be on their way, fall schedules will be coming together, and my lesson planner will be open once again ...

Last month I posted about our plans for the new year; now it's time to talk "shop!"

The back-to-school supplies list for a home-learning family is bound to be different from the ordinary sheet of suggestions one might find at the local Staples superstore. And yet there's going to be overlap, too. What follows, then, is my list as it has shaped up so far. It's really more of a checklist than a shopping list as most of these items we already own. I like seeing the whole list at a glance, though, because it helps me envision possible storage strategies.

As home learners, we are, obviously, home a lot, and yet we also find ourselves out-and- about quite often, too. (Some weeks it feels like we're doing more carschooling than homeschooling, lol.) So I include in my list lots of home comforts and essentials of general family living. It all adds up in our book. :)

  • a work bag for each child
  • backpacks (for out-and-about)
  • a lesson planner for me
  • weekly work binders, one each for the older two
  • a dedicated workspace and comfortable seating (chair pads, maybe?)
  • bins/baskets or buckets for tablework supplies
  • crayons
  • colored pencils
  • a watercolor paint set
  • no. 2 pencils (the more the merrier!)
  • pens
  • rulers
  • glue (school glue, glue sticks, craft glue)
  • tape (masking, Scotch)
  • stapler
  • scissors (kids, adult, pinking)
  • a hole punch
  • stamps
  • writing paper and envelopes
  • loose leaf paper
  • graph paper
  • copy paper for the printer
  • ink cartridges for the printer
  • drawing paper
  • construction paper
  • watercolor paper
  • homemade play dough (and tools)
  • homemade finger paints
  • smocks
  • a clothesline for displaying artwork
  • magnetic clips for the fridge
  • a bulletin board and thumbtacks
  • rubber bands
  • paper clips
  • brads
  • a dictionary and thesaurus
  • a globe
  • a world atlas
  • wall maps (US and world)
  • seasonal window clings (fun for the kids, and ok, me)
  • a large family calendar
  • a classroom clock
  • a timer and/or stopwatch
  • stickers (of all kinds)
  • rubber stamps (alphabet and other)
  • cookie cutters
  • a children's cookbook
  • woolen felt
  • yarn
  • cotton string
  • a sewing kit
  • nature journals
  • magnifying glasses
  • a pair of binoculars
  • field guides
  • a science encyclopedia
  • multiple birdfeeders
  • nature puppets
  • an outdoor thermometer
  • a rain guage
  • a microscope
  • a telescope
  • a tape/CD player/radio
  • CD/tape storage
  • musical instrument(s) and songbooks
  • subscriptions to educational magazines
  • a subscription to a local newspaper
  • library cards
  • museum membership(s)
  • local audubon membership
  • maps of our local area and nearest big city
  • a computer
  • educational software
  • chore lists for each family member
  • allowance agreements ;)
  • cleaning tools
  • environmental- (and child-) friendly cleaners
  • beeswax polish for tables, shelves and chairs
  • hand sanitizing wipes
  • a first aid kit (for home and car)
  • a family Bible
  • a prayer corner
  • tealights
  • holy cards
  • a missal
  • a camera
  • (it goes without saying) BOOKS!
  • bookshelves
  • book nooks and reading baskets
  • a learning/book display area
  • multivitamins
  • a weekly menu plan
  • healthy, help-yourself snacks
  • portable snack containers/baggies
  • thermal travel mugs for hot drinks on cold car rides
  • warm autumn bedding
  • new pajamas and slippers
  • sneakers/comfortable shoes
  • rain and snow gear

Whew, my husband near about fell over when I read him that list! I was quick to remind him (and all my dear readers, too) that this list is comprised mostly of things we already own. I will still be making my annual trek to purchase a few new supplies - because nothing beats a fresh package of construction paper or a shiny new box of Crayolas ...

Except maybe that bouquet of newly sharpened pencils. That would be pretty neat. ;)

Late Summer in the Garden


My dear friend Ruth is hosting The Loveliness of Summer Gardens today, and though I fear my thumb is still a bit on the brown side, as usual, I wanted to add my two cents. :)

In these late summer days, backyard gardens - meadows and roadsides too - are simply bursting with color and life. But my favorite "flowers" will always be the bright little feathered ones. :) The garden beds, shade plants and other ornamentals I leave in my husband's capable hands; for me it's all about the fauna, rather than the flora. I've come to realize and accept that the type of gardening that interests me the most is the kind that is commonly referred to as "wildlife gardening."

It's not perfect roses and umblemished tomatoes I seek (though they would be lovely, to be sure) but instead, songbirds and small mammals like chipmunks and red squirrels, as well as the humble toad, the brilliant butterfly, the lowly worm and the busy bee. Even the garden snake is fine by me. The more we see, the more hospitable I know our garden is to all of God's creatures ...

  • songbirds harvesting seed from sunflowers
  • chipmunks filling their cheeks ahead of autumn's advance
  • crickets chirping the temperature on hot muggy nights
  • bats swooping through the yard at dusk
  • an owl screeching off in the woods
  • fluttering moths and industrious orb weavers by the night light
  • bumblebees lazily criss-crossing the lawn
  • monarchs passing through on their way down south
  • dragonflies hunting mosquitos

Our garden may not be filled with the rarest of blooms, but it will always be busy with life ...

For example:


Yesterday afternoon we observed the long-awaited return of our tiny red-breasted nuthatch. Oh, how we've missed him!


I've waited all summer for this particular shot! Here is one of our beautiful goldfinches, wearing his brightest coat of the year, enjoying a tasty sunflower snack.


Isn't he handsome? The boys and I sat in the window for a good ten minutes watching this finch eat his fill ...


Another thing I love at this time of year is the late summer sky. Below you see a storm is approaching ...


Which, of course, meant it was time to light the storm candle, another late summer tradition in our home:


At the base of our favorite birdfeeding tree (virtually the hub of our backyard garden) we found this strange looking thing:


Do you know what it is? Or what it was? (This is its exoskeleton.) On hot hazy days you can hear its call off in the distance ...


On misty mornings our front lawn is dotted - no, encased - by dewey webs. I looked up this particular kind of web in the Handbook of Nature Study, and I believe they are made by "grass spiders." (Perhaps so called because that is where they live?)

If this type of natural, wildlife gardening interests you too, please let me recommend THE most wonderful book on the subject ~ A Blessing of Toads by Sharon Lovejoy. It is worth its weight in gold for information and inspiration. I'll bet you are familiar with some of her other books - Sunflower Houses, Hollyhock Days and Roots, Shoots, Buckets and Boots (each one a treasure trove of nature projects for families). A Blessing of Toads is a collection of essays, a "gardener's guide to living with nature." I am currently on my third read-through!!

Stop by Ruth's later today for the Loveliness of Summer Gardens, and please tell us ~ what is living in your garden these late August days?

Clearing the Clutter: Post One

Now, don't let this post fool you - there's waaaay more clutter around my house than what I have pictured here. But this was all I had time to deal with show you this weekend. ;)

Really, though I do have lots of "before" pictures waiting in queue, but I'd like to wait to post them until I have the "afters" to go alongside. So Post One will be for Lorri's Loveliness Fair; Post Two will come soon ... I hope.

This is how the front of the refrigerator looked on Friday. A mish-mash of stuff that at one time or another was, well, timely:


Earlybird's speech therapy homework went out to the shelves where I keep his books. The party invitation went into last week's folder, while the VBS papers got filed in that of the coming week's. The miscellaneous artwork also got, ahem, filed. I removed a lot of visual clutter and we ended up with:


I just bought two more magnetic photo holders for the left hand side ($1 at the craft store) and as you can see I have yet to fill in the August calendar. Actually, I don't use this calendar much at all; I rely on my own spiral bound calendar for planning personal and family activities and I just bought a large hanging calendar for the kids to use this year in the learning room. So really this dry erase calendar is moot - and yet, I don't have the heart to part with it. I guess that would make it clutter, lol, but it's just so cheerful and cozy! The other problem with it is whenever EB gets even a whiff of dry erase marker the jig is up - and the markers end up all over the place, mostly on EB.

Next we have my coupon packet which was stuffed with long-expired coupons:


Do you know what I did? I set Bookworm to work on the problem. In no time flat he had all the expired coupons discarded and the envelope all buttoned up neatly for me:


I realize this is probably not the best way to organize coupons - they are all rather jumbled in there - but I have yet to find an organizer I like. At one time I had one of my grandmother's (from the 70s, I think) and I loved it. Unfortunately it fell apart after much use. (Any suggestions for coupon booklets, dear readers?)

And now a brief photomontage on the evolution - and devolution - of dining table clutter:


The dining room table Friday morning: admittedly, a mess.


The dining room table Friday afternoon: not so bad.


The dining room table Saturday morning: spic and span! But can it last?


The dining room table Saturday afternoon: alas, cluttered again! But in a good way!

You see, I simply can't live without a smidgen of clutter - it keeps the creative wheels turning - but I also find it hard to live with much more than that smidgen. The trick is finding the happy medium.

Well, stay tuned for more of my clutter-busting adventures and in the meantime, stop by the Mac and Cheese Chronicles for the Loveliness of Clearing the Clutter Fair. I know I will - it is sure to be just the shot in the arm I need!

Cookies and Cockles on St. James's Day


For me, one of the key things to remember when celebrating the liturgical year, is to keep things as simple as possible. Certainly some weeks - especially those around Christmas and Easter - the projects will be more involved: Advent calendars, O Antiphon houses, Lenten charts and Paschal candles. But for the most part, on most weeks, I like to keep our plans really easy - because if they're easy to do and prepare for, then they are easy (or easier) to fit into an already busy week.

Today, the Feast of St. James, was a good example of keeping things simple. On the one hand I had lots of ideas. (Which tends to happen when you know so many wonderful resources and own as many idea books as I do.) And, if all I had on my plate this week was to plan a feast day celebration, it might have made sense to tackle some of the more involved projects. Then again, maybe not. I do find that the weeks things are kept simple and understated are the ones that my boys enjoy the most.

For today, I planned a little after-lunch treat, some nice madeleine cookies I found at the store. These are plain butter cookies baked in the shape of a shell. (The scallop shell is the symbol of St. James, and you can read more about why further down in my post.)

Now, in my orginal notes I mentioned some crazy idea about purchasing a madeleine cookie pan and whipping up these cookies from scratch. Then reality set in and I realized the pan was a bit expensive, and the recipe too time-intenseive. Thankfully it is quite easy to find madeleines at the store; these were from my regular supermarket and by golly, they were good. (More like little pound cakes than cookies.)

Next we set about making a small, easy St. James Grotto. Again, lots of ideas swum in my head - most involved holy cards, cardboard boxes, seashells and a piping hot glue gun. Now, I do have all these things on hand, but I decided to go with something much easier to prepare:


A small glass candle holder set upon a white china plate. I placed a tealight inside and let the boys "embellish" the inside and outside with craft shells. The tiny size filled in right around the candle, while the small white shells fit perfectly around the edge of the plate. This was a particularly nice project for Earlybird, who often finds the crafts we do beyond his attention span. But spilling and sorting shells? Right up his alley.

I'd like to share with you this passage about the tradition of making small shell-and-candle grottos on this day:

"Why grottoes? St. James, like all the other Apostles except for St. John, was eventually martyred for his faith. He met his death in the year 42 in Jerusalem at the hands of Herod Agrippa. His body was later brought to Spain and buried there. The journey was a difficult one by sea and so the symbol of the saint became a scallop shell. The place of his burial  - Compostella in Spain - rapidly became a great centre of pilgrimage. Today the great shrine still stands and still attracts thousands of pilgrims every year. In the middle ages, many pilgrims went there from England. To raise money to help the poorer pilgrims, it became a tradition to build small grottoes of scallop shels - people would pay a penny, light the candle in the grotto, and say a prayer for the pilgrim." (Source: A Book of Feasts and Seasons)

Now, I don't allow my children to light candles just yet, but for fun, I had them rustle up some change and "pay" for the privelage of blowing out the flame, which they actually enjoy even more than the lighting. We set up a large shell and one by one the boys plunked down their coins, said a quiet prayer for the poor, and then blew out the flame. I acknowledged each generous gesture and promptly re-lit the candle for the next "pilgrim." This was great fun and a memorable way to honor the day. On Sunday, the boys will drop their "shell money" in the poor box at church.


Another quick and easy centerpiece for the day would have been our red novena candle (the liturgical color for today) similarly surrounded by shells. We bought ours at the same grocery store where I found the cookies. They're nice to have on hand - look for them in the ethnic foods aisle.


There are plenty more St. James Day ideas and information at my friend Jenn's, and do check out her food blog for recipe ideas. I know this feast day is associated with eating oysters, but I was glad to read that any shellfish is appropriate for today (not a big fan of oysters, myself). So Bill is bringing home scallops from a local take-out place for supper, along with corn from the farmstand and a batch of crispy fries. It will make a tasty, fun meal. :)

If you wanted to tie today's feast into the natural world (something I enjoy doing), you could plan a picnic by the sea. Spend the morning collecting shells and then dig into a pasta salad (shell-shaped of course!) for lunch. Or if it's raining, you could stay home and spend an hour or so making shell candles (we did back in January, as shown in this post).

Now with all this talk about seashells, I want to take a moment to mention the upcoming Loveliness Fair, celebrating the joys of the seashore at A Wink and a Smile. (Such a lovely blog ~ I could sit and listen to that music all day! Love Harry Connick.)

All told, this week's liturgical "tea and a craft" took about half an hour. Time well spent, I think, and some nice memories made.

Well, have a lovely evening, my friends. See you sometime tomorrow ... :)

The Joys of Little Boys

"A mother of little boys works from son up till son down."Loveliness_logo

But it's the very best kind of work, in my humble opinion. :)

Around here we know one or two (or three!) things about little boys, so I am eager to read through Monica's Loveliness Of Little Boys Fair, which is up today at Small Things.

Because as well all know, there's way more to little boys than snips and snails and puppy dog tails. OK, there might be some of those things (save for the dog tails, Heaven forbid) but there's also plenty of laughter and unlimited love. Some would say we mothers of little boys are lucky, I would say we're divinely blessed!

And mark your calendars for the next summertime Loveliness Fair - the Loveliness of Summer Reading. It will be hosted by Sarah at Just Another Day of Catholic Pondering next Monday, July 23rd.