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Friday Bits and Bobs ~ Domestic Bliss

Tea puttering st. patrick's day

Good morning, my friends and Happy Friday! I hope your week is going well. We're still slogging through a cold (flu?) virus of some sort here. Thankfully, Little Bear is MUCH better and aside from a bit of a runny nose and occasional cough, seems fine. My mum is also feeling better, thank God. Earlybird, however, has started coughing ... and I have come down with it as well. Ugh. Its been a while since I've been sick but last night's fever was a real doozy! Very kindly Bill has told me to stay in bed today and he's working from home. So here I am. In bed, surrounded by tissues and cough drops and cats and my giant mug of tea. :)

Anyhoo, enough of that - I am here to share a few photos, just some little moments from yesterday. As you can see I'm having fun with text bubbles again! (Click on the image if you can't read the text!) Above is a glimpse of my workspace on the kitchen counter. I'm really trying to pare down what I have out at any one time, not that you could tell that from the picture! In an upcoming post I'd like to talk more about our home keeping binders and why I have the daybook back on my counter in place of my homemade planner ...

Tea roses with blurb

I love hanging herbs and flowers in my kitchen window, and I absolutely adore these tiny yellow tea roses, leftover from my cousin's baby shower. I thought I'd try drying them and using the petals in a homemade potpourri - perhaps blended with lavender and chamomile or other herbs from the garden. In the meantime, I think they look very pretty hanging over my kitchen sink!

Archie sampling tea with blurb

Now that the weather is warming up, I love sitting in the sunroom every chance I get. Here I was working out an Easter menu ... must check in with Mum to get her thoughts ... but meanwhile, Archie helped himself to my tea. The silly thing.

Tablecloth with blurb

A new tablecloth for the aforementioned sunroom. Aren't these colors gorgeous? :)

Tea break with blurb

Rest assured, this picture was taken before the Archie shot! This is an old mug from my grandparents' house and it seemed rather fitting for St. Patrick's Day. :)

Victorias on bureau with blurb

And here we have a whole bunch of April issues of Victoria magazine - dating back to the 90s! I set them on my bureau for inspiration, hoping to find some time to page through them ... I may get my wish later today. :)

Well my friends, I hope you enjoyed these snippets of my day ... it was a rather quiet day spent at home, nursing Little Bear's cold, enjoying the sunlight and open windows. Spring feels so close ... and yet, New England is expecting a snowstorm late Sunday (the Vernal Equinox, of all days!). Fingers crossed we don't get too much and that the mild weather coming next week takes care of any white stuff lickety-split! I'm hoping for nice weather, Easter Sunday ...

Thanks so much for stopping by, everyone, and I wish you all a wonderful weekend!

See you here again every soon ...


Winter Weekend: Warmth & Wonder

Winter weekend 1

Happy Weekend, everyone!

Now, you may have heard about the gigantic blizzard that is hitting certain parts of our country - parts that aren't used to this kind of thing! I do hope everyone who is in the storm's path is staying safe and warm. We're only getting a couple of inches overnight here in New England, though the winds will be high. Remember, stay home and "weather the weather" as best you can! It's the safest way ... and enjoy all that snow! :)

So I'm just popping in quickly this morning to share a few photos and say "hi." Above you see my cheerful mug which is holding a gallon or so of hot tea - sitting on top of two things that came in the mail yesterday which made me so very happy: my Isabella catalog and Green Parent magazine. I have a lot on my "to-do" list this weekend, but I will be making time for perusing these two publications at some point! (Over a giant cup of tea, of course.)

And how about a slice of this, too ... ?

Winter weekend 8

Dark and spicy gingerbread - a result of our Friday baking. A Trader Joes mix, easy-peasy to make with the kids, and it made the house smell amazing! (Even better with a dollop of freshly whipped cream ...)

Winter weekend  4

And this sweet little book is one of Little Bear's favorites right now. We pulled it from our Winter Book Basket and have been reading it over and over through the week ... as you can see below, we have a lot of animal tracks in our yard at the moment!

Winter weekend 3

Winter weekend 9

Winter weekend 10

Before the snow hits this afternoon, I plan to take the boys out so we can figure out just WHO ALL has been traipsing through our yard! I have lots of books on my nature shelf for doing just that - filled with great illustrations of the various prints. And while we're out there, we'll refill all the bird feeders so our feathered and furred friends will be well fed through the storm. If they don't have to search so hard for sustenance, they can conserve a little of their precious energy!

Winter weekend 7 (1)

Also on my weekend agenda - if I can eke out a little spare time - is to work in my big seasonal planning binder. I aim to finish up the Deep Winter section (cover page shown above), so I can turn my eager thoughts to Early Spring. Why am I doing this now? Well, it is the second to last weekend of the month and that is when I do a little forward planning: calendar updating (in this case, February) as well as seasonal planning (in this case, early spring). One of those planning "tasks" that really need a spot in the schedule to call their own ... otherwise they never "fit" in!

Winter weekend 6

And finally, another peek into a favorite vintage book of mine, Round the Year with Enid Blyton ... this one was a gift from my dear friend, Kimberly ... and I just treasure it. Especially as I plan out nature activities for the upcoming seasons. This is a page from the Winter section, all about "Foot-Writing in the Snow." How lovely!

Well my friends, I will be off now, but I hope you are all doing well and that your weekend will be a good one for you - with some rest and refreshment perhaps, and a little "recharge" of the batteries. What's on your plate this weekend? Are you in the path of some "weather"? Are you hunkering down or heading out? If you have a moment, please leave me a comment and let me know how you are doing ... I would love to hear from you!

But for now, I will leave you all with my fondest farewell and a hope to see you here again sometime soon!


A Glimpse of Autumn ...

Hello my friends, and welcome! I hope your week's going well. :) I have a few fun things to share with you all this fine Thursday morning ...

Pre-autumn 1

I spied my first glimpse of Autumn yesterday as I paged through the newest PaperSource catalog ... I LOVE "seeing" fall on the pages of my magazines and catalogs, even if I'm not quite ready for Summer to end. It makes me happy and eager to plan the next season!

Speaking of planning ...

Pre-autumn 2

With the school reports out of the way, I've started working on my lesson planner for the academic year ahead. It's a rather humble and homespun affair (using stuff I had on hand), but I'm hoping it will serve me well. I will share it here with you all soon.

Pre-autumn 3

And here's one of those very fine, early Autumn issues! My Victoria never disappoints, but I especially love its annual British issue. 

Pre-autumn 4

And finally, I had to snap a picture of this spot in my bedroom because it just looks so pretty and cozy. I'm in love with my "new" quilt and shams - and I must say Thanks to my Mum for her generous donation! This lovely set was in her guest bedroom until I "borrowed" it and couldn't seem to give it back. ;) And I love that the window is open - because the air is so fresh and cool this morning - and there's a bit of reading stacked on the night-side table. (There's even more in the basket sitting on top of the hope chest at the foot of the bed.) And I had to turn on the light because it was just a bit too dark for a good picture without it. I liked that, too ... that tells me the daylight is changing as we move closer to fall ... :)

Well, my friends - I must be off for now, but thanks so much for stopping by. Blessings on your day and see you here again very soon!


A Wintry Weekend ...

Happy Sunday, my friends!

Frosted window

Well, we're in the early stages of another monster snowstorm in New England ... and boy, do I feel like I've said that before. ;) It started snowing here yesterday as I was running some errands and it will snow continuously today ... tonight ... and tomorrow ... and tomorrow night! Leaving us with about two feet of snow when all is said and done Tuesday morning ...

Yes, you read that right: we're getting TWO FEET of snow. Which will be added to the TWO FEET of snow we already have on the ground!

❄️❄️❄️❄️❤️❄️❄️❄️❄️

(I do love ALL the seasons so much - they all have their charms, after all - I just wish Winter might stop being quite so "charming" for a bit, lol.)

So I just have a few photos to share today, but I mostly just wanted to stop in and say hi. Thank you again for all your wonderful comments, suggestions and encouragement ... I am working on my next Q&A post and hope to have it up soon!

In the meantime ...

Around the year book

I was working on my Lenten plans last evening ... with some tea, natch, in the relative quiet of the dining room. Are you familiar with the above treasure of a book? I'm so happy our new library system has it "in stock!" Just picked it up yesterday and have already dug in. This might be my third or fourth reading, but it's been a couple of years. I think I can renew it enough to last me through Lent!

ME calendar page

 From my ME page-a-day calendar ... is this not so very true? ❤️

O project 38 2

Thinks my bundled-up Little Bear: "It's snowing again?"

Archie in his corner

Thinks my cozied-up kitty: "Wake me when it's Spring."

Wintery weekend

And here's my own cozy spot this morning, as I sit by the kitchen window, watching the birds in a frenzy at the feeders. (Rest assured, there are breakfast dishes behind me but I'm not thinking about them at the moment ... ) I have a couple of lovely British mags that hint at the promise of spring ... my sweet squirrel mug with a new tea to try ... and my new African violet sitting in the safety of a glass cloche. The violet is February's flower. :)

Snowy driveway

Well, my friends ~ from my house to yours, I'm wishing you all a wonderful Sunday. What's the weather like where you live today? Drop me a note if you have the time ... 

Thanks so much for stopping by ... see you here again very soon!


More Q & A: Magazines!

Happy Weekend, my friends ...

Magazines 1

Several posts back there was some conversation about magazines and folks wondering what I read and if we might talk a bit about magazines in general ...

And of course, I'd love to! But let me start with some questions for you, all:

1. Firstly, what magazines do you read? What are your regulars - those not to be missed? And what magazines do you splurge on when you have a little extra pin money to spend on yourself? 

2. Do you subscribe or pick them up at the newsstand/supermarket?

3. How do you organize your magazines - where do you keep them, where do you read them and when finished, do you store or recycle them?

**

I have loved magazines since I was a kid. There was Teen and Young Miss (and occasionally, ahem, Tiger Beat) and then the "creme de la creme" ... Seventeen. Oh, how I loved that one especially. Back in the 80s they still ran domestic features about holiday parties, craft projects and recipes. And the back-to-school issue was THE best of the year. It was my favorite thing to read ... and I wasn't 17 until 1988, mind you, but my mother allowed it because back then teen magazines were more innocent than they are nowadays. (Or so I suspect ...) I started reading my mother's magazines, too ... I was reading Better Homes & Gardens and (our favorite) Country Living in high school and dreaming of the day I'd run my own home.

Fast-forward a whole lot of years and I still adore magazines. I love the pictures, the articles, and even the ads - as long as they're not perfumed! I have many "favorites" that I read each month, and I keep them in a neat pile (in a certain order, of course) and read through them one at a time. I keep a magazine at my workspace and flip through as I can through the day - clipping items of interest as I go. (The things I clip I add to my domestic journal as we've discussed  - or save in a file for future use.) If there's an article I want to read fully, I set it aside for when I have more time.

Here is my list of current mags - I'd love to hear about yours! 

  • Victoria
  • Martha Stewart Living
  • Real Simple
  • British Country Living
  • (American) Country Living
  • Yankee
  • Everyday with Rachel Ray
  • The Food Network Magazine
  • Woman's Day
  • Family Circle
  • Better Homes & Gardens
  • Taste of Home
  • Parents
  • Family Fun
  • Mary Jane's Farm
  • LandLove and Landscape (on occasion)
  • Babybug :)

Magazines I miss: Everyday Food, The Baking Sheet, Country Home, Mary Engelbreit's Home Companion, Faith & Family, Living Crafts, MS Kids

I try to subscribe when I can because it's much more economical and convenient. A few of the British magazines I like (including the occasional Jamie) I can order though this website. They're excellent - reasonable and quick! Sometimes, if I have a gift card or if it's "Educator Appreciation Week," I might pop into Barnes & Noble and indulge in a few magazines I don't usually buy ... Green Parent (UK), Mollie Makes, Artful Blogging, Organic Gardening, Romantic Home, Where Women Work/Cook ...

I keep them in the library - it had been on an end table but they've since been moved to the edge of my writing desk now that Little Bear's reach has expanded. I have other things I add to the top of my pile - the local weekly paper, a few Sunday Globe inserts, People (shared with my mum) and Entertainment Weekly (shared with Bookworm) as well as Time (shared with Bill and the boys) and my parish bulletin. The Boston Parents Paper (a freebie I pick up at the market), my WGBH Program Guide (PBS shows), and any new catalogs go here too. I do also receive Vanity Fair and Town & Country, but I don't care much for them - I got them as freebies when I subscribed to something else.

Oh! And one magazine I never clip is Martha Stewart Living - I have every issue going back to her first publication!

 *** 

Well, I'm sure there is more I could say about magazines, but I'll leave it here for now. This was probably more than you ever needed to know about my magazine habit, lol! Anyhoo, if you'd like to join the conversation, please leave a comment below. :)

Speaking of conversation, there's some great stuff happening in the comments box from my last post. I just LOVE that so many of my dear readers are happy to jump in and share their own styles and suggestions. I wish I could make the sharing part easier, but I don't know that Typepad has a different format for comments. But please, check that thread out if you have a chance ... we're gearing up for a big post on household routines.

:)

Well, my friends - I must be off, as my (younger) boys will be rising soon. It's quite early here and still dark outside my windows ... the wind's been howling and I can see it's lightly snowing ... time for another cup of coffee in my sweet squirrel mug!

Squirrel mug 1

See you here again very soon ...


Bits-n-Bobs: Blessings

Counting my blessings tonight ... thought I'd share a few happy things with you all!

It was rainy here this morning, quite dismal and gray ... but roundabouts noontime, the skies cleared and all that autumn sunshine poured forth ...

Autumn sunshine yard

Looks even prettier glinting off that rain-soaked foliage!


(As we took these photos, Earlybird and I, we heard off in the distance, of all things, a train whistle. Well, as some of you know, EB is a HUGE train buff so he first went absolutely still - then his wide eyes swung to mine and we both exclaimed, "A TRAIN!" We have no idea where the nearest tracks are, but they're near enough we could hear that whistle! So very exciting.)

:)

Had a lovely visit today with Nana (my mum) and two special aunties. We shared cups of tea and recipes, sitting by the sunny kitchen window. Visits with dear friends and family do so much to refill the tank, do they not?


Uncle Matt (my brother) sent along some delicious "pumpkin toaster pastries" - which will make a perfect Halloween breakfast tomorrow morning!

Pumpkin toaster pastries

And a lovely surprise! A houswarming gift from a dear friend ...

Hearth 1

(A peek at our family room hearth, as well!)

Blessings plaque

Blessings, indeed!

And some yummy magazines arrived in the mail today ...

Yankee + magazines

That's the Yankee with the Susan Branch article I mentioned a few days ago ... cannot wait to sit down with a cup of tea and dig in!

And finally, nothing quite so beautiful as a sleeping baby ...

Sleeping baby

(And nothing quite so crazy as the mother who wakes said baby when she snaps that must-have picture!)

Have yourselves a lovely evening, my friends ... see you tomorrow on All Hallow's Eve!


Weekend Journal ~ Fall, Food & Furniture

Hello, my friends, and Happy Sunday!

First let me say I'm sorry my posting has been slow lately - to be perfectly honest, I've been pretty slow myself! Little Bear has been waking every two hours at night for the past couple of weeks and frankly, I'm exhausted! Lol.

Anyhoo, I have a few minutes to pop in to say hello and share a few things with you all.

:)

First of all, how is the weather where you are? It's been quite nice here in New England - very autumnal with brisk air and bright skies. I'd say the foliage is just past peak now ... the wind has been littering the streets and yards with droves of crisp, crinkled leaves. All the subdued color, bared bark and dark chilly afternoons make me think of Thanksgiving ...

*3 quick links*

A lovely article at Susan Branch's blog about a "behind the scenes" article in the upcoming Yankee magazine. Lots of pictures to drool over - her home on Martha's Vineyard is so cozy, all decked out for the holidays.

Another web article, this one about grocery savings. I know I'm preaching to the choir here, but I find it helpful to remind myself on these points from time to time. How are you all doing with your meal planning and marketing these days?

And for my last link ~ how about some Spiced Ghost Pancakes on Halloween morning? 

And finally, remember my beloved red furniture from the old house?

Cozy corners 2

Well, we finally sold that dear old house this past week so that meant we could move up the final bits of furniture we'd left behind ("for ambiance"). Feels so good to have my Mama's chair back! We've arranged the set in the living room, a room that's slowly becoming "my room" as it's filled with my desk and reading materials ...

Cozy corners 3

(Yes, I went a little nuts with the subscribing when we moved!)

Well my friends, that's all I have time for right now ... please know I'll be here just as much as I can. I'm always thinking about posts and things I want to say (new ideas or answers to comments) but those free moments are not as plentiful as they once were!

Enjoy your evening, everyone ... I'll see you here again very soon!

**


Friday Bits-n-Bobs

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

Pear muffins 1

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

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

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

  Potatoes 1

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

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

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

Owl 3

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

Owl 2

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

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

Michaelmas daisies 1

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

:)

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

**


Organizing the Nest Survey, Part 9 ~ Reading Materials

Nest2

Just a couple more posts and our survey will be done!

(Though feel free to leave me suggestions for further survey subjects - we could always continue after the giveaway has wrapped.)

Ok, so! Today's survey focuses on reading materials: personal reading, library loans, kids' books, school books, blogs & websites, newspapers, magazines, etc.

Questions:

1. What kinds of materials do you read regularly, and how do you read them - on paper or electronically? Via purchase or loan?

2. How do you organize/store your personal reading *and* how do you make time for personal reading?

3. How do you organize/store your kids' books *and* how do you encourage reading in your home?

4. What are you reading today? :)

***

Now I absolutely love to read, but the truth is, I don't read nearly as much as I'd like to. I spend a lot of my reading time on newspapers, magazines and kids' books, and though I use the library faithfully, I often return items before making use of them. One of my favorite spots in our home is my "mama chair" in the learning room beside which sits my "beloved" reading basket. In this basket I store all my current reading materials - magazines, newspapers, catalogs, and usually one select novel. (Currently I'm reading Inkheart for Crackerjack's book group.)

I'd love to hear about your reading habits so please leave a comment if you have time. :) 

And if you'd like to revisit previous survey comments (to read through or add your own), please click on the following links:

1. to-do lists (daily and someday)

2. family food

3. calendars

4. file folders and paper management

5. family finances

6. homeschooling

7. seasonal planning

8. arts, crafts & hobbies

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

***

Well my friends, thanks so much for stopping by today and have yourselves a good one! A snowy morning here in New England ... a great day for curling up with a cup of tea ... and a good book!

**

 "The love of learning, the sequestered nooks, and all the sweet serenity of books."

(Longfellow)


Friday Photos & Feast Day Food

On St. Andrew's Day ...

Saint andrew 10

We made a big batch of Scottish shortbread. :)

{Earlybird loved helping - and truth be told, his batch came out best!}

Saint andrew 2

I savored my absolutely favorite British mag - which just arrived today - along with a sweet little board book I ordered for our wee one.

Saint andrew 3

I set up more indoor Christmas lighting, including window candles ...

Window candles

And a new garland along the mantel, but little did I know these tiny "cystal" stars not only change colors - but blink! And quite rapidly!

Crazy star lights

This picture does not capture the frenzy at all, but oh my ... they're a bit "carnval" for me, lol, but the boys love them - they said they remind them of Disney. :)

Saint andrew 13

And in honor of St. Andrew, patron saint of Scotland, I had my afternoon cocoa in my grandmother's "Highland Queen" teacup. The shortbread is not a family recipe, but rather, one I found here. Shortbread is my favorite kind of cookie - buttery and a bit plain but oh-so-gooood.

Well, my friends ~ Happy Friday! I hope you all have a lovely weekend. Take care of yourselves and your loved ones, and I'll see you here again very soon!

❤ 


Thoughtful Thursday ~ on Summer's Bounty

KG picking peaches 1

"If produce had a holiday, it would be August. All of August. There's just no better time to eat melons, corn, tomatoes, zucchini, peaches, and every other fruit and veggie you can pluck from your garden or pick up at a farmer's market ... Enjoy!"

(From Better Homes & Gardens, August 2012)

I was flipping through my BH&G, waiting for the oven timer to ring, when I came across this quote and I thought it quite lovely ... and so true! I was just thinking about our neighborhood farm stand and what might be fresh there this weekend ... I'm itching to make zucchini bread, and perhaps some peach butter.

How do you take advantage of the bountiful produce at this time of year? Do you preserve it in some way or simply enjoy it fresh while you can? Perhaps you do a little of both?

I haven't done much preserving myself, though some years I put up several jars of my grandmother's picalilli. That's a Labor Day family tradition I would very much like to honor this year! 

Anyhoo, while I'm here, two more things to share - a link and a recipe ...

From Simple Pleasures of the Garden by Susannah Seton, a recipe just perfect for this time of year:

Vegetable Gratin

2 1/2 tbsp. butter

2 tbsp. olive oil

1 medium onion

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1 medium-size green bell pepper, diced

8 smallish summer squashes (such as crookneck, pattypan, ronde de Nice, or zucchini), about 2 lbs. total, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

kernels from 2 ears of corn

Salt and pepper to taste

1/4 cup flour

1/2 cup cornmeal

4 tbsp. fresh basil or thyme, or a combination of both

2 eggs, beaten

1 cup lowfat milk

3 tbsp. freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a shallow gratin dish or other baking dish with 1/2 tbsp. of the butter. Place 1 tbsp. butter and the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, and green pepper; saute over medium-high heat for 5 minutes.

Add the squash, corn, and salt and pepper; saute another 4 to 5 minutes, until the squash is nearly tender. Remove from heat and set aside.

Mix together the flour, cornmeal, basil and/or thyme. Stir in the eggs, milk and vegetables.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared dish and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a crust has formed and a knife inserted into the center comes out nearly clean. Dot with the remaining 1 tbsp. butter, sprinkle the cheese on top, and bake for 7 to 10 minutes longer, until the crust has browned slightly and the edges are bubbling and crispy. Serve hot or at room temperature. 

Serves 6.

Doesn't that sound delicious?!

I will certainly be making this sometime very soon ... I will pick the basil and thyme from my deck and I'll get the rest of the produce at the farmstand down the street. And I'll see what I can find for local milk, eggs, butter and cheese ... I can't wait to try it!

 ☼

Also, here's a follow up to the local-food challenge article I posted about earlier this month:

"Shop-Local Challenge Trickier than I Thought"

{I'm really enjoying reading about her journey!}

Well, my friends, thanks for checking in and leaving your thoughts if you have a chance ... I hope you all have a pleasant night! 

See you here again very soon!


Another {Little} Giveaway!

I know, I know ... I'm a bit crazy with the giveaways lately! Well, this time I have the brand new issue of British Country Living to offer ...

BCL

I recently subscribed and my first issue arrived the other day - only, I'd already purchased it! So I have an extra copy, and I thought I'd pass it on to one of my readers. I know there are a lot of Anglophiles out there like me!

So, my question for you today is this:

How do you feel about this time of year? Are you sad to see summer end or are you feeling ready for fall?

***

Please leave your answer in the comments box below, and you'll be entered into the giveaway. :)

These next couple of days will be very busy as we host the first of two parties for Crackerjack's birthday, so I may not be online much. But I'll leave this post up and announce a winner first thing Monday morning ...

I look forward to hearing from you, but either way, I wish you all a very happy weekend! 

~~

See you here again very soon ...


Sunday ☼ Snippets

I hope you're all having a nice weekend ~ thought I'd pop in to say, "hi."

Monarch comic strip

Do you read the funnies? My boys read them daily, and they often point out ones they find particularly amusing. Well, I added the above comic strip to my journal today ... I just thought it was so cute and seasonal to boot!

And here's some magazine bounty ...

Orange-green magazines

Do you ever notice that magazines tend to coordinate their covers each month? For instance, as seen above, the September crop of magazines are adorned mostly in shades of orange and green. I've noticed this trend over the years and wondered if it's just coincidence, or if there's some marketing genius at work here ... perhaps people buy more magazines if they all seem to match?

(I took a closer look at the parent publishers, and as it turns out, most of these are published by Meredith Corp. and a couple by Hearst. So maybe it's not such a coincidence after all ... but clearly, in my case, the "strategy" works.)


Here's our new bumper sticker:

Bumper sticker

Purchased at our local, much-loved, farm stand.

And finally ... 

Tracks on floor

I just had to snap a picture of these train tracks. I've been "building train tracks" upon request for many, many years now. Sometimes on the floor, sometimes on the couch, sometimes on the deck. I'm pretty sure I could do it in my sleep. I bet some of you can dress Barbies blindfolded while others can build Legos with one hand tied behind your back - well, my forte´ seems to be railroads ...

I'm kinda proud of that. :)

So, that's all for now, but I thank you so much for stopping by ... enjoy the rest of your Sunday, my friends ... and I'll see you here again very soon!



Tonight for Supper ...

Rhubarb-apple crisp

Well, dessert, really ...

I had a pound or so of locally-grown rhubarb sitting in the fridge, and three golden delicious apples sitting on the counter, just starting to go soft. Conventional wisdom suggested I do something about this situation, and so ...

This is a rhubarb-apple crisp, a recipe from The Baking Sheet, a newsletter published by the King Arthur Flour company. The Baking Sheet is one of my favorite resources for recipes, and I've been collecting it for years. What I love especially about this newsletter, is how seasonal it is ... the folks at KAF really know how to use up what's fresh and make it festive. And homespun ... there are lots of old-fashioned, ethnic recipes in here, too. Their catchphrase: For readers who bake, and bakers who read. 

That's me on both counts. :)

Anyhoo ... it was easy to throw this together and the house smelled absolutely fantastic as it cooked. Bookworm, walking in the door, declared, "It smells like Christmas in here!" Must have been the cinnamon and nutmeg ... and the brown sugar and the apples and butter ... ETC.!

So a light springy supper - shredded chicken-caesar salad wraps - followed by a decidedly autumnal dessert. Everyone's happy, and everyone's well fed. I can't ask for more than that!

Have a great night my friends ...

I'll see you here again sometime tomorrow!



Cleaning Up the "Mom" Corner

Fridays are the day I clean the learning/sitting room, and today I decided to spend a little extra time on my "mom" corner. It is, after all, Mother's Day weekend, and it is my sincere hope I'll be spending most of it parked right here ...

:)

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So, I pulled the chair out and swept in back there (found Earlybird's long-lost Percy train) and then took apart the book shelves, which had become quite disorganized and dusty.

As you can see, I had the usual help:

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On the top shelf I keep my collection of Everyday Food magazines, my favorite food magazine of all. (I have every issue!) I'm going to look through them this weekend for meal plan inspiration.

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Next shelf down, I have yummy books I own or borrowed, and a few DVD collections, too.

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Just a few momentos on this shelf ...

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On display I have one of my favorite pictures of the boys, my reading glasses, cheerful little knicknacks and my Mary Engelbreit page-a-day calendar.

And then there's the shelf where I keep magazines to look through, and my clippings journal:

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I keep a pair of small folding tables beside my chair when I'm "working" in this spot. The table on the right holds my laptop, and the table to my left holds whatever it is I'm working on at the moment. 

Here I have a planning binder with next week's file folder on top.

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And I have to show you the cleaning checklist I stapled to the inside folder cover:

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This was an idea I gleaned from a kind reader, Suusi. (I loved reading how she utilizes her weekly file folders - her thoughts can be found in this comment thread.) I'm not sure I'll end up using this checklist (I already have those daily chore cards and now my online diary) but I thought I'd give it a try. I basically just took the whole weekly chore list (divided by days) and printed it out on one sheet of paper. Then I stapled it to the inside front cover (the weekly planning sheet is on the opposite side). I envision checking things off as I work through the week ... but we shall see how it goes!

And finally, here is my reading basket. I've let a lot of things pile up recently. :)

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I'm really looking forward to poring over all these magazines, catalogs, newspapers, etc. and working in my clippings journal a little. Puttering like this is a little slice of heaven for me.

Aside from all this reading, my Mother's Day weekend will also include an early soccer game, a trip to the nursery, and breakfast with my family after Mass. It will all wind down with a Sunday supper I have not prepared, and then my two favorite shows of the week: Once Upon a Time (season finale!) and Masterpiece Theater. (Can't wait to see what Sherlock gets up to this week!)

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Well, my friends, I'm going to wrap up now, as my kitchen timer is ringing it's third alarm, reminding me I need to start supper early as it is the boys' practice night. So I'll be off ... but I thank you for stopping by ... and I hope you all have a lovely weekend!

(And if you're curious what I'm serving for supper tonight, pop over to my housekeeping blog. I'll be posting today's entry in just a few moments.)

:) 

See you all again very soon!


Some Happy Weekend Things

Hello, everyone ~ I hope you're all having a nice weekend! We're enjoying beautiful spring weather here in New England. It's bright and brisk and feels just like spring should. So I have some photos and thoughts to share with you ... just a few simple, happy things.

:)

First of all, I stopped at my favorite paper-craft supply store yesterday:

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And they kindly allowed me to take pictures. Doesn't it look yummy?

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When I visit this shop, I always feel a little like a kid in a candy store ... and very happily this time I had a gift coupon to use for my purchase!

Speaking of which ...

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I bought some lovely floral papers, vintage looking stamps, tea-themed stickers and a package of small, ivory doilies.

I also "splurged" on the newest copy of Where Women Create and The Herb Quarterly. The current issue of THQ focuses on "The 2012 Herb of the Year" which is the Rose. (Which is SO much easier to work with than last year's Horseradish, lol. Next year it's Elderberry, by the way.)

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And did you know that next week (as in, the week leading up to Mother's Day) is "National Herb Week?" I'm thinking a trip to the nursery is in order. ;)

There were also many "happy" things to find in the yard this weekend ...

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The lilacs are in full bloom (so early!), and just look at these little beauties ...

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Our lily-of-the-valley plants are really spreading out ... they have the sweetest spring scent.

Our red azalea bush is also in bright bloom:

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It will hopefully help entice our friendly little hummingbirds back to our yard. Remember Our Happy Hummers from last year?

We also put up our feeders yesterday, filled with freshly made hummingbird nectar. According to the Mass. Audubon Society this week is the perfect week to put out hummingbird feeders.

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Now we just sit back and wait ... 

Of course, Archie would take a more proactive approach.

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(He's actually crying at me because he does not like to be left inside while we're all outside. He so wants to be a real boy. Archie and Oliver are strictly indoor cats, however, so the screens are as close as they get to the great big outdoors.)

Speaking of my feline fellas, here are Archie (left) and Ollie (right) watching Bill work on the front steps this morning.

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I love how they're always all up in our business, lol.

And finally, one more picture to share, an early morning shot of our church ...

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It never looks prettier than it does at this time of year, when those twin trees flanking the entrance are in perfect bloom.

**

Well, my friends, I'm going to sign off for now, as it's getting quite late in the day. Early tomorow I'll have the "Masterpiece Monday" post up so we can get the conversation rolling (including Birdsong, part 2 and Once Upon a Time), and then I'll announce the winner of Earlybird's Arbor Day Poll & Book Giveaway. Thank you again for the terrific response! I find your votes so interesting, but I especially enjoy reading the little stories and memories behind your selections. It's quite clear we all have a real fondness for trees. :)

A file crate post is also in the works, because it's that time of year again! I almost had it done in time to publish today, but then I got busy with some thing or another. (Isn't that always the way, lol?) So look for that post coming up, too.

Have a good night, everyone! See you here again very soon ...


My Favorite Magazines

A few folks have asked me to share what magazines I read on a regular basis, and of course, I'm happy to do so!

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To begin with, above you see the magazines pictured in yesterday's tea post. These are my "pretty" magazines:

British Country LivingMy ALL TIME favorite magazine - the pictures are above and beyond beautiful! And I love the "seasonal" aspect to each issue - the recipes, gardening, homespun ideas. I also like reading about British agriculture and small businesses. I share this subscription with my Mum.

Artful BloggingA lovely, once-in-a-while treat that usually gives me serious blog envy, lol! I bought this issue for myself with birthday monies. :)

VictoriaI've subscribed to Victoria since I was a young girl! To begin with, my grandmother and I shared a subscription ... and I was so upset when they went out of publication. I was therefore delighted when they started up production again a few years ago. I don't find the new issues as captivating as the older editions ... but I won't complain. It's nice to have Victoria back.

Country HomeThe American version - my mother subscribed when I was a kid and I just loved it. I was always reading it, and thinking about my "someday home" and the recipes I'd like to try. In fact, I still have many of those issues saved! The look and feel of CH has changed over time, but I do still enjoy it very much.

Sew BeautifulThis is a gorgeous catalog that appeared in my mailbox the other day. I have no idea how I got on this mailing list but I'm very happy I did. :)

The Baking SheetThe King Arthur Flour newsletter - a must for seasonal bakers!

Mollie MakesI just discovered this delicious British craft magazine a few months ago. Seriously, no one does magazines like the British! I love how MM includes a small craft project with every issue.

Teatime BlissThis arrived in the mail just the other day ~ it's a special Victoria edition all about Tea!

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Now, I'm the first to admit I'm a bit persnickety about my magazines ...

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I keep all current (and recent) magazines in this roomy basket, and they are stacked in a very particular order. Over the weekend there is a pile of "weekly reading" on top which includes sections from the Sunday Globe, our Parish bulletin, new catalogs, Time, People and Entertainment Weekly.

Other magazines I read regularly include Everyday Food (my *favorite* food magazine), Martha Stewart Living, Everyday with Rachel Ray, Food Network Magazine, Mary Janes Farm, Family Circle and Woman's Day.

 *

I'm often asked what I do with all these magazines - do I save or recycle?

Well, I pass some of them on, and I recycle most of the rest (after I've clipped things I want to save). I do keep my issues of Everyday Food, British Country Living, The Baking Sheet and Martha Stewart Living. (And I only save MSL because I have every issue dating from her very first one!)

As for all those clippings, well I save them in my journals ...

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And I've been keeping these journals for years and years. They're a compilation of notes, mementos and magazine articles, pictures, quotes, etc. Seasonal stuff, mostly. I started keeping them when I was a teen ... I guess they're like personal scrapbooks or idea books. (Maybe these were my "blogs" before I was blogging, lol.) They cover about a few months' worth of "stuff" at a time.

Here's a page from my current journal, going back about a month or so. I have here a sweet message from my Crackerjack (I found it in his papers - it was a "rough draft" of my birthday card), a pretty calendar page, and a recipe I wanted to try that weekend (but alas, did not).

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In the back of the journal (which is just a plain, old 3-subject Mead notebook) are stashed clippings that still need to be filed. I try to work in my journal at least once a week. I find it a very relaxing and satisfying hobby.

It can be hard to find time to sit and read, I will admit that. But I can be patient. As you can see I often have many magazines in my pile "to be read." I try to find a few hours over the weekend to catch up ... and then I keep that basket in my reading corner to read through when I can. I often find time to do a little reading when the boys are having lunch or in the evening after I've started supper.

As for subscribing over buying ... well I'm currently in the process of subscribing to most of the magazines I read. It makes sense since one saves a good deal of money with a subscription. Though I do love visiting the newsstand and there's just something so fun about spying a brand new issue, all stacked fresh and pretty on the shelf. (I'm sure some of you know what I mean!)

*

Well, such is my affection for magazines! For as long as I can remember I've been quite an addict a fan. I love the format of magazines ... the feel of the pages, the layout and text, the photography ... all the creativity and inspiration. I love how - by their very "timely" nature - they capture a certain time in our life: current news, recent trends. I love the excitement that arrives with a new issue and the spark of energy that comes with new ideas and information ...

But now my friends - now that I've virtually chewed your ears off, lol! - I'd love to hear about your favorite magazines! What ones do you read regularly? Or perhaps once in a while as a little treat? If you have a  moment, leave me a comment and let me know ... :)

For now though I'm going to sign off ... the day's getting late. And as a matter of fact, it's snowing like crazy here right now! The first snow we've seen in weeks ... months? Looks like March will indeed come in just like a lion ...

So have a good night and as always, thanks for stopping by. I'll see you again very soon!


Happy Things on a Dreary Day

It's quite a miserable day here - weatherwise, I mean. We're having an unpleasant mix of steady rain, cold air, dark skies... and yes, there is some snow in the forecast. Eek!

I'm working on a rather long planning post, addressing some recent - and not so recent - questions on the FCS (et al), but it's taking me a good bit of time to get it all wrapped up. So in the meantime, and in light of this dull day, here are some happy things to share with you all ...

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A few pretty Thanksgiving cards ~ I have myself a little collection. :)

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A hardworking honeybee, making the most of these last autumn days.

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A fading - yet still gorgeous - hydrangea blossom, basking in the setting sun.

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Our Archie, sound asleep on the "cat" window seat. He could care less that it's raining.

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Also fading - and also still gorgeous - golden chrysanthemums ... the subject of my new blog banner. (And please pardon my appearance while I reconstruct here a little - I'm pretty rusty on Typepad template tweaking.)

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Some very yummy Thanksgiving magazines. I'm such a sucker for magazines, but especially at this time of year.

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The view through my back family room window ... can you imagine, Bill wanted to chop this tree down?

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We'll have our first cups of cocoa this afternoon, in (dubious) honor of the first snowflakes heading our way. (As I mentioned above, this evening we expect a wintry mix - nothing that will stick, but enough to gnarl traffic.) I bought this packet of "pumpkin pie" hot chocolate up in Maine (I think at Stonewall Kitchens - I went a little nutty in there, so it's hard to be sure). The boys are very eager to try it, though I will probably enjoy a cup of plain homemade cocoa with Earlybird. That's a little more my speed. 

Well ...

I hope you enjoyed sharing in my little "happy thoughts" for today. And I do hope you all are having a nice Thursday, whatever it looks like out your window. I'm going to sign off for now ... I'm getting peppered with lunch requests, and goodness knows those grilled cheeses won't toast themselves!

See you all again very soon ...

:)


Friday (Animal) Fun

I have a couple of amusing/amazing animal websites to share with you today: Cute Overload (how I adored the red squirrel post this morning!) and Animal Tracks, a weekly photojournal at MSNBC.com. These are so much fun to share with the kids!

And remember - it's Endangered Species Day! We're adopting the Florida Manatee this year - we'll learn all we can and save what we can towards a donation. The "mysterious manatee" happens to be the cover story of the current issue of Your Big Backyard, and by the way, this is a great book all about endangered and extinct creatures --> Extinctosaurus: Encyclopedia of Lost and Endangered Species. A very colorful book, filled with interesting facts. We've had our copy for years so it might be hard to find ...

But for now, I'll leave you with a fun(ny) animal photo of our own:

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(The top squirrel was either sleeping or playing shy.)

Have a great weekend, my friends!

:)


Wednesday Q & A

Butterfly1 

Good morning, my friends ...

Well, Earlybird has the big-bad cold now - he woke up with a barking cough, and cranky as all get out, proclaiming, "I'm sick now!" So we're doing an impromptu mini-unit on germs this week - how we get sick, and how we can stay healthy. In the spirit of things I've set up a new book list called "Winter Health Study" and we'll be making some nutritious fruit smoothies and soup. Nothing like hands-on learning, right? ;)

Anyways, while I'm here, I wanted to catch up with some of the questions that have been left in recent comments ...

Oh! I've wanted to read Artful Blogging for the longest time! Do you like it? ~ Jen

It is an absolutely beautiful magazine, Jen. Lots of delicious eye candy, and some very inspiring stories and helpful suggestions. It's one of those magazines you can just flip through and absorb visually - and that would be enough - but even better when you can find the time to sit and read through the articles. Somerset magazines are quite expensive so aside from this gift issue I've only purchased AB once before. (I think it was a birthday treat to myself last year lol.) One thing I did come away with - besides maybe a bit of blog envy, lol - is a wish for a better camera. The photographs are just so clear and beautiful! My envy shames me a little though, because I am really very happy with my Cybershot. It's easy to use and that's why I use it so much - no lenses to mess with and I basically ignore the special settings. Still, I look at all those yummy pictures and ... sigh. ;)

Now, I have to admit to feeling a bit jealous that you have Where Women Cook....I have been searching high and low for it...here at home in Florida and points in between. I guess I'll have to order it. Are you enjoying it? ~ Mary Chris

Mary Chris, I received both Artful Blogging and Where Women Cook as Christmas presents, but I have seen them at Barnes & Noble. They are absolutely beautiful and so inspiring! 

Where Women Cook, like AB, is also filled with lots of "eye candy" ... beautiful pictures - of food, dishes, cooking spaces, and some yummy recipes as well. I've only skimmed this issue so far - but I'm excited to dig in and read more thoroughly. Some of the women featured in this month's issue include ~ Ree Drummond (The Pioneer Woman), Joy Stinger (who raises makes lovely honey and wax crafts), Serena Thompson (The Farm Chicks), and MaryJane Butters (MaryJane's Farm). Scrumptious recipes are featured throughout, too ~ like Blackberry Scones, Meaty Lasagna and Saltine Caramel Bars.

Both Where Women Cook and Artful Blogging are splurges for sure, but well worth the money spent - for the information and inspiration!

I have 2 questions from older posts since I have exhausted my own search. 1.) Where do you purchase the 2010-11 Academic Daily planner and did you add the tabs yourself? 2.) I loved those autumn sheets. What brand? ~ Sherrylynne in Mpls

Sherrylynne, I buy the daily planner at my local Hallmark Paper Store, but I found it online here, too. And yes, I added the tabs myself - I think I bought them at Staples - possibly Target.

The sheets are from LL Bean, but I don't think they carry them anymore. For the record, they are incredibly soft and wash up so well. I definitely recommend LL Bean bedding in general. :)

Did you make those pizellecookies? They look yummy as does that poundcake. I'd like to try them both ~ Jan

I didn't make the pizelle cookies, Jan - they were an impulse buy at the supermarket down the street, lol. I've always wanted to try making pizzelle cookies - I'm not a big fan of anise (which is, I believe, the traditional flavoring for these delicate cookies) but I do love pizzelles made with vanilla or citrus. I like to serve them on the Feast of St. Agnes - a saint who is special to us - as "St. Agnes Snowflakes."

I've had my eye on this pizzelle maker for some time ... and I also like the idea of making homemade ice cream cones with pizzelle cookies. Especially since EB can't eat commercially made cones. 

It is funny that you posted a food post today because I read a book this week that reminded me so very much of you. It is called The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister. Have you ever read it? Such a lovely book! ~ Jackie

I have not read that book, but my library has a copy so I'll definitely be checking it out! Thank you for the recommendation!

Not that I have a lot of time for reading, but I am always grateful for good book recommendations, so please readers, if you have some - lay them on me! ;)

I was checking out some of my favorite sites and found this place and immediately thought of you. These are the cutest journals. ~ Nancy

Nancy, that is such a neat site! I loved looking through the journals they have posted there ... very inspiring! Thanks for the link. :)

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OK, I think I've caught up with all the questions and links left for me recently. Thank you SO much to everyone who stops by, and special gratitude for those who leave an encouraging comment, or a helpful link. I appreciate each and every one of my visitors.

Have a wonderful Wednesday, everyone ~ hope your week is going well!