Night Sky Feed

Seasonal Planning: Why the Moon?

During the Planning Chat Workshop this morning, someone asked why I write the moon phases in my planner ... and it's a very good question! Because it got me thinking about why I enjoy seasonal planning so much ... and in the case of the moon's phases, while we may not be amateur astronomers or anything, I still find it useful information to have on hand ... and here's why. :)
For one thing, the full moons, as named by the Native Americans, are tied in with the season in which they fall (Sap Moon, Pink Moon, Flower Moon, Thunder Moon, etc.) and sometimes I include them in our nature study plans. So for example, we might schedule a maple sugaring field trip (a popular local tradition), during the week of the Full Sap Moon ... and that week might be assigned the theme, "melting/sap/thaw." Actually, there's a lot of science and history to be tied in with this topic! We could investigate what conditions are needed for the sap to start running (freezing nights, but day temps above 50) and what it signals to the trees (and the rest of us): Spring is truly on its way! Or maybe we'd learn how the early colonists "discovered" maple syrup (thanks to the Native Americans) and I might even plan a maple-based dinner one night. The younger boys have such fun with all of this, but I think the older boys enjoy these family activities as well.
It's also helpful to know when a new moon will occur (which means, no moonshine) because it's easier to see the stars on a "moonless" night. And perhaps that's something I would like to do with the boys as part of our home learning that week or as one of our family "adventures." There are also several meteor showers that occur throughout the year and some are easier to view than others - especially when they take place during the darker sky of a new moon! So it's handy to know whether the moon is waxing or waning when scheduling these kinds of seasonal activities in my planner.
Beyond all that though, I like the idea of my planner serving as an old-fashioned "almanac" of sorts, so I include weather notes and simple observations of the nature around us. (Two deer in the yard just now ... heard a raven in the woods ... spotted a fisher cat on Main Street this morning!) I even check the Weather Channel app on my iPhone when doing my weekly "look ahead" planning!
Another example of seasonal planning, and this one applies to both nature's seasons as well as those of the Church ... this week we'll be celebrating the Feast of St. Agnes, and our weekly theme is "snowflakes." For years now I've tied snowflakes with this saint's day (because of the tradition of St. Agnes's "flowers") and there are certain crafts and comforts I like to weave into our week. Snowflake science, baking and stories, so many options! Not must-dos, but may-dos. And as it appears we may be in for some snow here late next week, I'll make a point to get the boys outside to really experience the season, this depth of winter ... does it smell like snow? Feel like snow? Look like snow? What signs are telling us snow is on the way?
(Now, I was just writing these very notes in my planner for next week and that reminded me I have a half-written post in which I show you how I'm using my printable planning sheets. (In other words, with the spaces filled in!) I am also going to make the monthly calendars I showed you in my planner tour available as PDFs this week in case you'd like to use those as well ... so stay tuned!)
So anyhow, this question really made me smile and think for a bit about why I spend so much time finding out about nature and then working it into our family plans. It's something that brings me a lot of personal joy - tying my energy and inspiration to the season - but it's created a lot of fun traditions with my children as well! :)
So if your family, like mine, enjoys checking out the night sky from time to time, here's a great calendar for 2016 astronomical events, including full moons and shooting stars, etc. And as of today (or tonight) we are on the way towards the January full moon WHICH -  according to my planner - takes place next Saturday. It's the Full "Wolf" Moon this month and there is some very interesting history tied into that ... but I'll stop there because as usual, I'm getting carried away!
But speaking of the Planning Chat Workshop this morning - it was such fun! I hope you could join us, but there is still a way you can listen in - click HERE to sign up for the replay as well as the links Mystie, Jen and I shared from our blogs. I would love to follow up on some of the points and questions that came up during the talk, so please leave me a note or zip me an email (bysunandcandle AT gmail DOT come) if there's something you'd like to see in a future post!
For now though, I am going to sign off and enjoy the rest of this slow, snowy Saturday ... I hope you do the same! But thanks so much for stopping by! I will see you all here again very soon ...
🌛 🌝 🌜🌚

November Nightfall

It comes so early now ... the night. And some might say too early, but it's all just part of that rhythm. Outside there's a fading of color and a sharpness to the air ... while inside we have our lights burning and there are extra blankets on the beds. At this time of year the comforts of home seem all the more comforting, but the outside is still welcoming too, especially on evenings like these ...

November sunset 1

November sunset 2

November sunset 7

November sunset

November sunset 3

November sunset 4

Sunset, 4:20 p.m. Sunday. Just before the Patriots Game.


How wonderful for a little one to get all rosy-cheeked and leaf-littered on a cool autumn evening ... then to come inside for a warm bath and a good supper before bed. I love teaching my children to appreciate our days in ALL seasons and by "teaching" I mean, sharing my own joy right alongside them. That's the best lesson, I think - what we show them. Because those little eyes watch us so closely! Little Bear might not read his mama's blog yet, but I know he can read my moods ...

You know, I've been working on that book of mine, and trying to figure out just where I'm going with it ... getting distracted sometimes, or maybe even a little defeated ... but when I look back at this post, I can see it. This is what makes me tick, and this is where I zoom in: on the simple, little joys ... the easy, homey comforts. Every week brings something new to learn and share ...

As organic as it seems it should be to just follow the seasons and accept nature's rhythm, I find that Life As We Know It often gets in the way. So I create a little structure - weekly themes and file folders - and hope that by planning ahead we'll make more of the moment. The seasons pass so quickly - not to mention the years! So this week we're watching our world get sleepy and dark and we're feeling grateful for things like light and warmth (and peace) ... in nature we're observing a fallen log and exploring the tart curiosity of cranberries, while baking breads to bring to neighbors across town ... 

November days - are they dark? Yes, they can be. But dull? No, they don't have to be. There's much to be thankful for and so many ways to explore this big, blessed world. It is my hope to highlight these joys in each week of the year ... to work them into my "plans" so they become more than just ideas, but actions ... and then to share them all with my family, and you!

So anyhow ... that's where I'm at right now. I mostly just wanted to share all these happy photos and then I got carried away. (You all know how I get.) And now I'm watching another (early) sunset, lighting a candle on our seasons shelf, and conjuring some good smells in the kitchen ...

And putting the laptop down, for now. But I'll be back here again sometime soon ...

(Good Night!)

Halloween Ideas: A Paper Chain Countdown!

A bit of a long post ahead - I really had fun with this!

Halloween paper chain 5

Hello my friends, and Happy Tuesday!

Here is an overview of the Halloween Countdown Paper Chain I made for Earlybird to help him keep track of how many days he must wait for the holiday, which, in his opinion, should be here right NOW, as in today, no more waiting! I also wanted to shape his awareness of this holiday which to my mind is often overblown and over-commercialized (not to mention, downright inappropriate) when presented by the mainstream. As we happen to be studying the ancient Celts and our own Celtic ancestry this year, it is a perfect opportunity to learn where this holiday originated and how/why they celebrated it.

Ok ... here's how I put it together!

Halloween paper chain

I used regular construction paper, in Halloween shades, and cut out as many strips as there were days left till Halloween. (Ideally I would have started on October 1st, but this idea just came to me the other day as EB got itchy about the holiday's arrival.) Using coordinating Sharpies, I wrote the number of days left on the outside of the strip and on the inside (hidden from view) I wrote a simple activity or an interesting fact about the holiday ...

Halloween paper chain 2

It only took a few hours to pull together, and I think the daily "Halloween moment" will temper EB's impatience a bit. To keep it as easy as possible (because we all know fitting "extra" stuff into an already busy day is a challenge), I tried to consult my calendar as I worked out the ideas. For example, some things would work better on weekends (when Dad could come-with or help out), and some things could be woven smoothly into our weekly rhythm (e.g. nature walk on Monday, painting on Thursday, baking on Friday, etc.). It was fun coming up with these ideas! 

Halloween paper chain 3

(I think I said that already, but honestly, this stuff gets me so excited!)

So here is what each slip says - I hope you find some nuggets of fun for your family!

26 ... "Halloween began a long time ago in the country of Ireland. Find it on our map!"

25 ... "What sound does a ghost make? Write out your answer for me!"

24 ... "Halloween is sometimes called All Hallow's Eve. What is it the eve of?" (Check calendar if he can't recall what happens on November 1st - All Saint's Day.)

23 ... "Spiders are a symbol of Halloween. Let's do a fun worksheet about spiders for our science notebook!" (I've prepared a simple worksheet with labels, facts and shapes.)

22 ... "What do you think Halloween smells like?" (We'll make a collage of Halloween smells using pictures from old magazines of things like ... candy corn, pumpkins, apple cider, woodsmoke, autumn leaves, tree bark, mushrooms, chocolates, etc. I'm not sure how he'll answer so I'll try to have a wide array of foods and nature smells.)

21 ... "Did you know that a long time ago, the first Jack o'Lanterns were not made from pumpkins but turnips?!" (We'll find a turnip at the farmstand and try to carve it at home - and/or cook it for supper!)

20 ... "Today we will bake some special Halloween cupcakes for Bookworm to take back to college." (Earlybird LOVES to bake with me, and with Bookworm home for the weekend, this will be a good opportunity to use all the colorful sprinkles and gels we have collected.)

19 ... "Today we will listen to some fun Halloween music while driving around town." (Wee Sing for Halloween - a longtime favorite with my kids!)

18 ...  "What are the important rules for trick or treating safety?" (We'll talk about expectations for the night and write down important rules for having fun and staying safe.)

17 ... "Today we will read a special book about Halloween." (I have a very old book from when I was a little girl, Let's Find Out about Halloween. It even has my "notes" for a Halloween party I was hosting, roundabouts 3rd grade!)

16 ... "Today we will listen to The Legend of Sleepy Hollow." (I have requested the unabridged book on audio CD from the library but this might prove too intense for EB - in which case, I have the old Disney movie, The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad ready to play instead.)

15 ... "Let's make a Halloween pizza for supper tonight!" (Following this recipe from Taste of Home ... and as a special treat, I'll have picked this up at the library: Martha's Halloween Ideas - EB's a HUGE Martha fan, as his is mum!)

14 ... "Today we will design and make costumes for you and Little Bear!" (As of now, EB wants to be a ghost, and he has declared LB should be a dragon ... I figure starting two weeks ahead gives us time to get them ready ...)

13 ... "Today we will go on a family "Halloween Woods Walk!" (Our homeschool habitat for the month of October is "deciduous woods," so we'll use this activity as a means of observing this particular environment. Why do the woods seem spooky sometimes? What do we hear? Scuttling leaves, animal noises, the wind in the trees ... We will also notice signs of death and decay in nature ... fallen leaves or a rotting log, for example.)

12 ... "Let's write a Halloween poem!" (I will have holiday-related words cut out for him to put together as a "poem" and glue on a sheet he can decorate.)

11 ... "Today we will do some fun Halloween word puzzles!" (I've ordered Halloween Mad Libs Junior from Amazon - it will be a good way to reinforce parts of speech!)

10 ... "Let's make Halloween Ornaments!" (We'll use Halloween cookie cutters to cut out holiday shapes from a salt-dough, bake and decorate - perhaps with melted crayons, details here. I will bring a branch inside so we can hang the ornaments as a fun foyer decoration.)

9 ... "Today we'll paint a Halloween sky picture!" (We'll set up on the patio, late in the afternoon ... using natural plant-based watercolor paints. We'll hang them to dry in a tree.)

8 ... "Let's have a special Halloween tea with Nana!" (We'll serve autumnal goodies like apples and cheese, iced squash muffins, pear cider and orange-spice tea. I'll have EB help me prepare the goodies and serve to his Nana.)

7 ... "Today we'll mail Halloween cards to our friends!" (I have a pack of sweet, vintage Halloween postcards - we'll work together to sign and address them, add stamps, stickers, and bring them to the post office.)

6 ... "How about a visit to a pumpkin patch today?" (After church we'll head to a local farm to sit in a "real sincere" pumpkin patch ... back at home we'll watch It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!")

5 ... "Today we'll rake leaves and make a crow craft!" (Halloween, in its roots, is an agricultural festival, important to people who lived by the land. We'll read a book called Scarecrow and make a cute crow craft using Little Bear's hands and feet!)

4 ... "Tonight's the Full Hunter's Moon! Let's take a walk after dark, observe the night sky and listen to the night sounds." (Back inside we'll read Whoo's There? A Bedtime Shadow Book ... and make "spooky" shadows on the wall!)

3 ... "This morning we'll search for spiderwebs on the lawn and make a spiderweb craft!" (We'll make these cute Paper Plate Spider Webs - I have black plates and sparkly yarn on hand - and maybe some spiderweb cookies, too!)

2 ... "Today we'll make some Halloween lanterns!" (We're going to use this simple craft idea, with jars I've saved and tissue paper I have on hand. The jars will be placed on our front steps to light the way for trick-or-treaters.)

1 ... "Today we'll put our garden to bed and there will be a bonfire at sunset!" (I love the idea of raking, composting, and tidying up the yard before winter ... Samhain (as it was called by the Celts) in fact means, "Summer's End." Crops were brought in for the winter and livestock driven between fires to ensure their protection. Our Halloween bonfire will take place on our patio, around our fire pit as the sun sets. We will add some of the herbs from our patch to the flames and enjoy that last smell of summer! A hearty supper will follow ...)

~* Happy Halloween! *~

Halloween is on a Saturday which is really convenient - Daddy is home with us all day. :) We will start our day with a walk through a local graveyard ... to pay our respects, and observe the quiet beauty of the place, how the earth is settling in for its own rest. We may make a headstone rubbing before we go - there are some beautiful, Revolution-era graves in this particular cemetery. Our day will also include carving pumpkins, roasting seeds, baking our Halloween cake, having a special supper with friends, dressing up, trick-or-treating/passing out candy, and watching some Halloween specials on tv ...

All good fun!

We hung the paper chain in the family room, out of Little Bear's reach - unless he climbs the hearth which, while unlikely, is not out of the realm of possibility! And each morning Earlybird will take a link off the chain and read what is up for the day ... :)

Halloween paper chain 4

 Note: I kept a list of my "paper chain agenda" in my planner so I can refresh my memory - don't want to be caught unawares! - and prep for any activities that day. (I can also change things up if I really need to.) I plan to look ahead before each weekend so I can pick up any materials we might need.

Now, I already have a "blessings" project in mind for November - a new twist on a beloved tradition - and I will post about that soon! In the meantime, I am almost ready to get my Masterpiece Monday up (really have to change up that name), as we watched Home Fires last night (LOVED it) and tonight we will watch Indian Summers ... so tomorrow I should be able to get that reaction post up. I am very curious to know what you all think!

Good night for now, my friends - what a sunset outside my windows! I love how the light is so low and golden at this time of year, setting the foliage ablaze ... chilly now, though it was a mild day ... and tomorrow looks to be a bit warmer!

Take care of yourselves and your loved ones - see you here again very soon!

Summery Pics & Nature Notes

Golden party flowers 2

 Happy Monday, my friends! I hope you all had a lovely weekend. Ours was very nice - we spent Saturday at Bill's folks' golden anniversary party, and what a special day it was - perfect August weather and lots of family and friends, celebrating a happy, loving couple. I'm not sure if I've mentioned it here at the blog but Bill's dad had a stroke last fall and has been recuperating ever since. It's been a very hard road for him - for Bill's mom, too - but he's come such a long way and is doing very well. We're all so happy he's home now and that they were able to celebrate this beautiful day together - they even renewed their vows on the front lawn and it was just a lovely ceremony ...

Anyhoo, the flowers above are from a beautiful arrangement my sister-in-law had delivered on behalf of all the "kids." My mother-in-law sent me home with a small portion and I just love looking at the pretty blooms sitting my kitchen window. The sweet pansy was a Sunday morning gift from Little Bear, a treasure found "for Mama" on a walk with Daddy. :)

Speaking of pretty flowers, here are some from my mother-in-law's garden ...

Golden party 10

Golden party 6

She has quite the green thumb as you can see!

Also this weekend, I found these neat plastic page finders at Staples. (Ah, the siren's call of Staples at this time of year ...) I usually make my own out of scrapbooking paper, but these are quite sturdy and fit a 3-ring binder perfectly. I have one in my home keeping binder for marking my place in my domestic journal (my daily notes/clippings log) and another marks where I have current project plans. I also stick post-it notes to the page finder for various things ... but more on all this when I do my binder tour!

Pagefinders 1

And here's a very cool - kinda weird! - plant that grows in our woodland garden. It's called Indian Stovepipe, or Ghost Plant (or Corpse Plant, ew!) and it pops up from beneath the leaf litter in late Summer. It feeds on fungus in the soil below and does not use chlorophyl as most plants due, hence its lack of color ...

Indian stovepipe ghost plant

And this might be a little more "ew," but I find it fascinating, and so do my boys ...

Snakeskin 1

A beautiful snakeskin found in one of our stone walls ... there's a garter nest in there apparently. I love how complete the skin impression is! Can you see the tiny eye marks?

(Note: I must publicly apologize to my mother who, I know, is shuddering to see that snakeskin, and who, to this day, wonders where this bug-snake-dirt-and-rocks loving girl came from, lol. I've always loved nature, but it was all flowers and fluffy animals when I was young ... but you know, I grew up to be a mom to four boys - I had to get right down there and explore with them, and flowers don't intrigue them nearly as much as an exoskeleton or snakeskin! And I find I do love all of nature, and find it so fascinating - miraculous! - even the less "pretty" parts!)

Speaking of nature, don't forget The Perseids are coming this week! (Actually, they're already here, but peaking around 8/12-13.) This annual meteor shower brings beautiful shooting stars to the dark night sky ... read more about them here.

Well my friends, that's all I have time for right now ... but thanks so much for stopping by, and have yourselves a great day! I will see you here again very soon ... :)

Happy Saints' Day! (and Hello!)

Hello, my friends, hello! I hope you are all doing well!

It's been a very long time hasn't it? Weeks now ... my goodness. And I apologize for being away so long ... I do wish I could tell you all is well with my computer but sadly - frustratingly, maddeningly - it is not. Still a work-in-progress, I'm afraid ... so I am currently hijacking Crackerjack's computer so I can write up this post!

While I'm here, I thought I would share a few photos from our weekend, beginning with some Halloween pictures. What a fun evening it was - I hope yours too was happy and safe!


Here is our Little Bear - aka Tom Brady of the New England Patriots - all of 17 months and looking like quite the little man on his 2nd Halloween!

O Tom Brady

And here's our pumpkin this year - designed by Crackerjack and carved by Yours Truly.

Halloween 2

The treats table all arranged in the foyer ...

Halloween 5

This is a bit blurry - Bill was trying to catch the pretty sunset in the background, as well as the boys and me in my (good) witch's hat. :)

Halloween 3

The evening was cool but not cold, and cloudy with just a hint of milky sun. As night descended, things got rather spooky!

Halloween 7

Little Bear was fascinated by the pumpkin lights lining our front walk ...

Halloween 8


So another All Hallows' Eve come and gone ... and this morning brought us a new month. And a day all dark, wet and dreary as November is known to be - Rabbit, rabbit! But as lousy as it gets outside, it is always cozy and warm inside. In honor of today's feast (All Saints') and tomorrow's feast (All Souls') I baked an autumn cake ...

All Saints Cake

The boys were rather pleased.


Also, before I go, here's a quick peek at our gratitude project this year ...

Gratitude project 1

I will post more about that as soon as I can!

Hope this "note" finds you all well ... take care of yourselves and your loved ones ... and see you here again sometime soon!

Weekly Bits of Domestic Bliss

VH nest 1
Of Note

Mum's birthday (26th), Cyber Monday (26th), A Charlie Brown Christmas on ABC (28th), Full Beaver Moon (28th), Feast of St. Andrew, Patron of Scotland (30th), B&N Educator Discount Day (1st), First Sunday in Advent (2nd)


Quite chilly, in the 40s - mostly sunny. Flurries on Tuesday.

Beautiful bittersweet vines growing alongside the river out back.

Make plans (themes/practical considertations) for winter nature walks.

Watch for the full moon Wednesday night.


Put up Christmas decorations.

Do outdoor lights/decorations.

Begin online Christmas orders.

Organize boys' holiday outfits, haircuts.

Dinner Menus:

M - pesto pasta, crescent rolls (boys' fave), leftover meatballs

T - meatball/tortellini soup, garlic rolls

W - pulled chicken salad wraps, leftover soup

T - taco potatoes (ground turkey), fiesta salads

F - homemade pizza night, raw veggies/dip

S - *takeout*

S - pork roast, potatoes & squash, apple-cheddar muffins

Desserts: Scottish shortbread, oatmeal-fruit cookies, peppermint-brownie sundaes (Sunday Sundaes)

Dear Baby ...

(14 Weeks)

I felt you move for the first time on Thanksgiving morning! Oh my, what a wonderful feeling!

Feeling much less nausea these days! Just a little when I take my prenatal vitamin and sometimes around suppertime.

Keeping to home as much as possible - a quiet schedule helps my energy level!

Earlybird has noticed Mama's belly, but when he asked "What's wrong with your belly?" and I answered, "Well, it's getting kind of big, isn't it?" he simply shrugged and said, "Yeah, wow!" Nothing else, lol.

Learning Themes:

Waiting for Winter

"Animals of Christmas"

Work on using nice language - how we speak matters.

Christmas "food shopping" lists with EB.

Excited About ~ Working On:

A simple, peaceful Advent ~ reducing noise and clutter, both visual and auditory.

Bill set up "Classical Christmas" music for me on my phone - I park it on the kitchen counter with little speakers ... soothing background music for this time of year.


Bring home the tree this weekend!

Address/stamp Christmas cards.

Watch Take Peace: A Corgi Cottage Christmas (on loan from library).

Brainstorm "teacher gifts" with the boys.


Happy Tuesday, my friends! I hope your week is off to a great start! I apologize I am so behind on comment replies ... I will be catching up over the next few days. (I always seem to think I have much more time (and energy) than I actually do!) I truly appreciate the time and thought you put into your messages. :)

Well, have yourselves a good day ... I will see you here again very soon!

Friday Photos: Farm, Food & a Full Moon

Happy Friday, my friends!

Here in the States it's Labor Day weekend, also - and perhaps less fondly - known as the last summer weekend. (I'm actually thrilled - this is my favorite weekend all year!) Bill has some time off from work, so I was able to run out on my own this morning to get some pre-weekend errands done.

My first stop: our local farm, where this sunflower field caught my eye ...

Brooksby sunflowers

Isn't it lovely?

But my farm business today was all about these beauties ...

Green tomatoes 1

Fifteen pounds of green tomatoes, just the right amount for picalilli!

(I love to make picalilli at this time of year - my mum and grandma and I used to do this together and it holds many fond memories for me. And we all love picalilli served with our favorite fall suppers ... pot roast, meatloaf, sour cream chicken, etc.)

I'll blog about the process on Monday - I'm still gathering all my supplies. :)

Next up: a quick stop at the bookstore, where I treated myself to a quick bite to eat ...

Barnes & noble breakfast

A slice of quiche (delicious but very rich) and my first cup of pumpkin spice latte - they just started serving it yesterday! (And it was as yummy as I remembered.)

Now, this picture I took last evening ...

August blue moon

I'm awful at night photos, but I had to share this ... it's the waxing Blue Moon which will truly be full tonight. (It's not actually blue in color, but rather, it's rare because this makes two full moons in one month.) Be sure to watch for it rising this evening!

And August sure is going out in style ... the weather is quite hot today, 90 some-odd degrees, windy and dry. Tomorrow brings the first of September and, according to the forecast, some wonderful weather ... sunny and highs in the 70s! We are hosting Crackerjack's (rescheduled) birthday party tomorrow so that sounds just about perfect. :)

Well, my friends ... I'm off to get more things done on my list, but I wanted to stop in and share these thoughts and photos and wish you all a very happy weekend. Take care of yourselves and your loved ones ...

I'll see you here again very soon!

Midsummer Beauty

Midsummer 5
Midsummer 3

Midsummer 2

Midsummer 1

Midsummer 6

Midsummer 4

Yesterday was Midsummer's Day - also known as St. John's Day (the Birth of St. John). The weather was lovely and we spent a good bit of time outside ... I roamed the yard taking pictures of this and that. Above we have a tea rose blooming at sunset ... my pink and orange coneflower plants  ... an abandoned bird's nest ... the tiny bunny who calls our yard home ... and the Midsummer Eve moon - a milky crescent perched high in the western sky.

Today brings a gray and mild morning ... it feels nice, actually - the soft breeze coming through my window as I type up this post. Heavy rain will be arriving in a few hours - thunder and all - so we'll plan our day accordingly. How I enjoy having the freedom to do that. :)

Thanks so much for stopping by, my friends - I hope you have a wonderful day! Take care of yourselves and your loved ones ... I will see you again sometime soon!

Did you see that moon?!

Full strawberry moon

We did, albeit briefly ... the skies cleared just long enough last night for us to get a good goggle. And wow, did we goggle - it was so huge and bright! And the clouds were just whipping over and past it ... it was like something out of a movie, I tell you. 

(And this picture does it no justice at all. But I had to at least get a shot to remember it by.)

And there will be a partial eclipse of June's full "Strawberry" moon very early this morning, so check it out if you can. We're in for a few days of driving rain so I think we got our one and only shot to see this spectacular full moon last night.


Well, my friends, Happy Monday! Hope your week gets off to a great start!

See you here again very soon ...

The Full Flower Moon ~ It's Tonight!

Moon flowersGood evening, my friends, and Happy Weekend!


I am popping on very quickly to tell you all (in case you didn't know), that tonight's full moon, "The Full Flower Moon" is the largest we'll see all year. (Something to do with how close the moon is to the earth, I think? But I'm not 100% sure, I'll have to get back to you ...)

If you have a moment (and clear skies) take a peek - I bet it will be quite a sight!

See you all again very soon!

Tuesday Tea ... and Crafts with EB!

Good evening, my friends - and Happy Tuesday!

I meant to get this post up much earlier - and I did sit down at 4 (albeit briefly) - but then one thing led to another and I just had no time to work online. So here I am now, to share tea with you all ... as well as a few notes and photos from our day. :)


So my beverage of choice this week was Earl Grey, and as a snack I peeled myself a blood orange. Are you at all familiar with blood oranges? To be honest, I'm not all that fond of them - they are striking to look at, but I find them rather bland as citrus fruits go. And yet I get all kinds of excited when I see them at the market. They appear for a short time in the dead of winter (otherwise known as February) and for me, it's like a little ray of hope that we're moving closer to spring. So I always buy a few to bring home to my family. The boys' reactions are worth the money spent anyways - "Blood oranges? Why are they called that?!" Lol. (Note ~ I bet the segments would be good in a winter compote blended with other citrus fruits and spices.)

And my mug today is part of a set of mugs and bowls made by my cousin, Marty. She's actually my mum's cousin so I'm not sure exactly what that makes us, lol! But she's a very lovely lady, and one summer we bumped into her at a craft fair; we were on the spectator side, she was a vendor. She had some beautiful pottery for sale, and I snatched up these blue and white speckled mugs. They're all shaped a bit differently, but they are all well sized. Excellent for tea or coffee. :)

Now, the big news for tonight is the rising of the Full Snow Moon - and actually, it's already done just that! Take a look in your sky right this minute! Isn't it gorgeous? 

And since Crackerjack had to miss my Mum's Superbowl cupcakes Sunday night, I decided to splurge and make the boys a special cake for tonight's dessert. 

EB and I call it "The Full Snow Moon Cake."

Full snow moon cake

He was ALL excited to make this with me, and honestly, it was more about mixing the colored frosting than actually eating the final results!


I had already frosted the cake with plain buttercream frosting but we set some frosting aside for the colors. (And by the way, as most of my readers know, EB is on a special diet - we avoid most artificial things like colors, flavors and preservatives. So for tinting frosting I use India Tree Nature's Colors. He seems to tolerate them well.)


Crackerjack - who is still on the mend - came over to take a peek at the proceedings. (And I must point out - in consideration of my morning post - that my sink, as you can plainly see, was a REAL hot spot today! *blush*)

Here's EB sprinkling our February full moon with snowflakes ...


Now, this was not so much a craft, as it was an impromptu science/nature study lesson. Bookworm and Earlybird "investigated" the state of the water in our yard. :)


And while they did their outside stuff, CJ rested and I started in on some candlemaking. (I think it's becoming an addiction, this candlemaking, lol.)

Now, EB and I had discussed making a "night sky" candle, one that we could light when the moon is full or if something really neat is happening in the sky. (Such as meteor showers or a planet appearance.) 

Unsurprisingly, I got a little carried away, but here's what we did ...


This side is the sunset - see the red sun at the very bottom?

(And see the extra help I had while doing this project?)


While EB painted his own project, I worked on the glass - but we chose the tissue paper colors together. (Trying to decide in what order the colors appear as the sun sets.)

He then decided the candleholder needed stars, so I let him have at it.


And here's the finished result!


See how the stars float up from the sun and into the sky? That was EB's idea. :)

And here's the moon side:


EB was quite proud of our creation!


Now, since I was in a real crafty mood, I decided to continue on and I whipped up this nifty little candle:


I am working on setting up a liturgical corner for the learning/sitting room and I thought it would be nice to have a candle just for this spot. So I used another battery-lit candle (like the one I used on Candlemas) and just glued on bits of tissue paper in liturgical colors - white, green, purple, red, pink and even blue for Marian feasts. I also added a small wooden cross (purchased in the wood section of my craft store) and embellished it a little with a golden doiley.


And ... voila!



Well, friends, that's all I have for now ... and I've certainly kept you here long enough! So I'm going to say goodbye ... But I do hope you all had a nice day ... and please let me know if you had a chance to "take tea" today.

Next week will be a "Valentine's Tea" theme, so keep that in mind! I'd love to have you all join me on that special day ...

In the meantime, please have a good night ~ Be well and God bless!

I'll see you again sometime soon ...

Friday Felines ...

 (Plus a few other things.)

Well, I couldn't let a Friday go by without posting a few pics of my fellas! They've been in mighty high sprits today (they must sense it's a Friday), and as I type up this post, Archie is furiously batting a pencil around the kitchen floor, while Ollie is staring down the dishwasher, which is currently operating in "heavy wash" mode - quite exciting. (You all know how he feels about the dishwasher.)

So here are a few recent photos of my kitties, in all their marmalade glory. :)


Archie, asleep in the front window.


Archie, the "school mascot."


Ollie, helping me arrange flowers.


Archie, striking a pose.


Ollie, helping me make the bed.

(Why yes, I keep my camera with me when I make the bed ... don't you?)

Now, the next few photos are just a few random things from today, things that looked pretty and made me smile ...

First is an illustration from one of my favorite childhood books, Oh, What a Busy Day! by Gyo Fujikawa.


Isn't that just the coziest snow scene?

(If you're not familiar with Gyo Fujikawa books, and you have little ones in your life ... you simply must check them out! Your library probably has plenty of copies - there are bajillions of them, and they've been around since the 60s or 70s. They are just the sweetest little storybooks, filled with happy, homey thoughts and cheerful illustrations.)

Next is my journal - I worked in it a little today. :)


Random clippings from here and there ... some Downton Abbey news, a spiced orange cocoa recipe, a winter car checklist and kitchen inspiration.

And finally, a couple of bright little primroses.


Buying primroses at the market is a January must-do!


So, it's late afternoon here now, just a few hours till the weekend ... any big plans on the horizon?

I hope to finalize my calendar designs, ink them up, and then start printing out pages. I'm anxious to get this project to the copy shop, but I'm really trying to take my time through the whole process.

And Sunday brings The Feast of the Epiphany so we'll write a blessing over our doorway, and have something special to eat after Mass. :)

Sunday also brings a new season of the aforementioned (and much discussed) Downton Abbey (!), a well as a new episode of Once Upon A Time, an ABC show we enjoy watching with the boys. We also got our Netflix movie in today's mail ... this time around it's Zookeeper. Not sure what it will be like, but the kids absolutely loved Mall Cop, another Kevin James film ... so we shall see!

So I guess I'd better wrap up, and get myself back to "work," lol ... I have pizza dough relaxing on the counter, and there are veggies to chop ... though I must admit, I'm finding my chair oh-so-comfortable right now! Maybe just a few more moments, then ... I have the new Williams-Sonoma catalog by my side, and there's a little more tea in my cup ... plus the sun is setting and the sky just looks so lovely. Truly, the top half is all mottled with fast-moving clouds and the space right above the treeline is streaked with purple and pink ...


And so another Winter night wraps around us ... cold, dark and quiet ... windows glow with welcome, headlights turn down the road, and soon we're all together again. The comforts of home are never quite so comforting as they are on a Winter's night - would you agree?

So, my friends, I'll be off now, but I do wish you all a most pleasant evening and I thank you for spending a little of your time here with me ...

See you all again very soon!

Our 'Happy Winter Tree,' Part II


Well first of all, this has been quite a Monday! It started off pretty quiet, but before we knew it there were huge trucks arriving next door and loud engines starting up and oh my - trees were being felled! Like - really tall evergreen trees, literally right outside our family room windows! Then next thing we knew, the doorbell was ringing and packages were arriving and Nana stopped by and snow started falling - and this was all before noontime! 

If ever there was a week for "bustle," this is it ~ I love it!

It was also a busy morning in our kitchen as we set about making our Solstice Tree treats. Now, before I launch into the how-to's I'd like to mention that last week at our Nature Club meeting my friend Ketylina demonstrated a similar suet making project. I paid rapt attention and brought home the recipe as well as some ideas for making more projects at home.

 So here are the ingredients laid out by my stovetop. (And I apologize for the poor lighting in the next several photos - my kitchen is not very bright, unfortunately.)


In front is the package of beef suet* I bought at the market yesterday, and just behind, from left to right, we have: mixed bird seed, rolled oats, dried cranberries, currants, chunky peanut butter, hulled sunflower seeds, cornmeal, walnuts, hazelnuts and dried pineapple rings (the pineapple is actually for something else, lol).

(Notes: The recipe I followed came from this site, thanks again to Ketylina. *If you don't see suet at the meat counter, ask your butcher; he or she may be able to package some up for you. Alternatively, you can use lard in place of the suet.)

I first chopped the suet into small chunks and set them in a heavy saucepan over medium heat:


(Kind of gross, yes, but I tried not to think too much about it, lol.)

While the suet was melting (or rendering), I divided the "mix-ins" into one cup measurements (easier for small - and impatient - hands to deal with):


Here's how the suet looked once it was finished rendering (and lingering chunks were strained out with a sieve):


One pound of suet yielded about 2 cups liquid. Next, the boys had fun adding in all the mix-ins as I stirred the mixture with a strong wooden spoon ...


I poured the concoction into a glass measuring cup for easier handling ...


... and on the island I had some molds prepared:


Gingerbread men, donut rings ...


(Bookworm took a break from his work to gather pinecones for us from the yard.)

After filling the available molds we still had more left, so I pulled out some heart shaped ramekins and a Tupperware container to catch the remaining mixture:


(Note: I placed lengths of twine in the molds before pouring in the suet mix. Theoretically, this will make it possible to hang the shapes in the tree tomorrow.)

And here's our spread!


Into the freezer it all went ...


Tomorrow, on the first day of Winter, we'll take the frozen treats and decorate our Solstice Tree (along with a few other goodies we'll prepare in the morning). I think the birds and squirrels will be especially grateful considering they made themselves pretty scarce during all the loud tree work today!

One more picture before I go ...


Just in case the snow is gone by tomorrow, here's our Tree as it looked at 3 p.m. today. It sure looks and feels like Winter right about now!

And speaking of Winter, tomorrow brings not only December's Full "Cold" Moon - but a total lunar eclipse as well! (Details can be found here.) I may be up early enough to catch the tail end of it, but the trick will be remembering to look, lol!

Have a great night, everyone! See you sometime tomorrow. :)

Programming Note (& a Friday Photo)


The Full Harvest Moon rising last night, roundabouts 7 p.m.

I took this from inside my car as I waited to get on the highway, lol. (I always have my camera within reach!) I was on my way to meet friends at Barnes & Noble for a little "coffee talk" - running a bit late, and the traffic was fierce - but oh what a lovely evening. Warm, breezy and bathed in moonlight. 

(By the way, my new beverage of choice at Starbucks is a tall steamed milk with vanilla. It's absolutely delicious, and caffeine-free!)

So, I have but a scant few minutes to post this morning, but wanted to check in and let you all know I'm working on a post about the index cards I mentioned the other day. There was lots of interest in how those little cards work. :)

In the meantime, I hope you all have a wonderful Friday! We're expecting highs in the 80s here in New England ~ a little touch of Summer in late September!