(I was going to make this a "Wordless Wednesday" post, but I'm too excited not to babble a bit!)
So today's big news - since the smoke was black and not white :) - Earlybird and I just spotted the first chipmunk of the year! As I'm sure most of you know, chipmunks go into hibernation in mid-fall, and emerge at winter's end. We like to keep track of when they leave and return - and it's always a cause for celebration when they are spotted sometime in late winter/early spring. We're big fans of chipmunks around here!
So take heart my northeastern friends - spring can't be too far away! And boy is it ever a lovely day here in New England - the light is bright and the ground is nearly clear of snow. And the air! Oh, the air ... soft and cool, but not cold. I have a few windows open because the temperature is near 50 degrees!
Can you tell I'm just a wee bit excited for spring?
(And no, I'm not paying any attention to those snowflakes in next week's forecast. Nope. None at all.)
Is March arriving like a LION where you are (as the saying goes)? It's actually quite mild here - temps in the 40s and just a little breeze. Not so bad!
I took this picture yesterday afternoon with Earlybird. We were on our way to pick up Bookworm from class and on a whim, I decided to trudge through the snow and check the ground beneath the big maple out front where we usually spy our first crocus. And sure enough - there they were! Lots of tiny green shoots poking up through the winter debris ... we were absolutely delighted. In fact, EB was so excited that upon returning home with Bookworm he dragged his big brother over to "come see the crocus!!" I love instilling an awareness and appreciation for nature in my kids. :)
If you, like me, are perhaps itching for spring and looking for some ideas and inspiration, here are a few posts I've done in the past:
And before I go, here's a great recipe for refrigerator bran muffins - I spied this online just this morning, but I have a similiar recipe somewhere in my files. Have you had these before? My grandmother always had a big bowl of batter in her fridge - and the freshly baked muffins were oh-so-delicious! I'm going to make up a batch this weekend ...
(In fact, I'm kind of wishing I had one right now - I have my glucose test this morning and, while I don't have to fast, I am trying to keep my blood sugar low. Of course naturally, I'm starving, lol!)
Have yourselves a good day, my friends ... and here's to a happy new month!
As Winter grows near, I like to "set the stage" for cold day comfort. One of the ways I do this is to place freshly laundered and neatly folded fleecy blankets someplace in the family room - ideally near the fireplace, and close to favored seating.
Well, as you can see, Archie is taking advantage of the blankets himself!
"You put these here for me, right?"
The fireplace-end of the sectional has been my favorite spot to "nest" lately. I can be close to Earlybird (couch-schooling is all the rage, don't you know?), and I keep a basket of books and mags (for him and me) close at hand. I/we have the tv to watch, as well as the birds at the window feeders ... and should the mood strike - which it often does these days - I can nap at a moment's notice. ;)
Are you feeling the urge to "nest" lately? Where is your favorite place to "hunker down" when the days grow dark, and the weather turns cold?
We've just returned from the library - driving through snow of all things! So beautiful, how the tiny flakes mingled with falling leaves on this dark and windy day. Also beautiful - and quite surprising! - were these brilliant pink roses still in bloom, just outside the library itself. Just a tiny cluster, at the top of a thorny, hip-laden bush. How many people stopped and noticed them I wonder?
Well, I'm sure you're not surprised I simply had to get out and take a picture. :) And in another part of this bush (not shown in my picture) ... sat one solitary, plump-breasted robin. How very dear! He let me get close and chat with him a moment ... but he just would not sit still for a photo!
That's ok, though - it was enough just to see him - for I'll carry this happy little moment in my heart until Spring.
Enjoy the rest of your Wednesday, my friends ... I'll see you here again very soon!
I'd like to share a few pictures from our Halloween, if I may. It was a lovely day - and a dry, cool night. A real mix of clouds and sun (and clouds and moon) and that crisp October air. Very autumnal.
We always begin our holiday by making note of the sunrise ...
We were out and about earlier in the day, and then after lunch it was all about finishing up lessons and getting ready for our night!
Usually, Bill does the pumpkins with the boys, but with the hurricane and all, it just did not get done. So it was up to me to oversee the project - and wield the knife! - though I told the boys I drew the line at handling pumpkin guts, lol.
The cats were fascinated with the whole process. :)
Here are Crackerjack's designs: one "funny face" and one "fearsome face."
These two jacks were placed on our front steps, nestled into garden planters on either side of the front door.
Some treats of the healthy kind ...
And otherwise. ;)
Throughout the afternoon I tidied the house, decorated a Halloween cake, and baked a couple of carrot breads with Earlybird. I also put on my favorite Halloween movie of all time ~ Meet Me in St. Louis, which may seem a strange choice, but if you remember the Halloween scene ("Tootie's the most horrible! She's the bravest of them all!") you'll know why I love it. :)
At last the sun began to set ...
And Halloween night was upon us!
We live in a quiet, sprawling neighborhood so we get a LOT of trick-or-treaters. I'm always anxious over the amount of candy we've purchased - will it be enough? One year we nearly ran out, and I was rifling through the boys' snack stash to see what I could add to the mix!
And we are very fortunate to have wonderful friends gather with us each year for tricks-or-treats. It's fun to see how the kids have changed each year! The dads take the kids around the neighborhood while the moms stay at home to pass out candy (and chat).
Bill took this picture (with his phone) of our younger boys out and about:
Earlybird was a soccer player - though he insisted he was "just Earlybird" - and Crackerjack was a skeleton.
Once the gang got back from trick-or-treating, we had cider and cake ... and then the candy-trading commenced!
Our group shrinks a bit each year as the older kids get busy with various activities - for instance, Bookworm was at class last night and it felt strange not to have him with us! But that's what happens as life moves on - things necessarily change. Of course, next year our ranks will grow again - we'll have a new little one joining us! I mentioned that last night and Crackerjack piped up:
"I can't wait to take the little papoose out trick or treating!"
Well, now Halloween's a thing of the past, and we have two lovely feast days to celebrate: All Saints today, and All Souls tomorrow. By necessity, I'm keeping plans simple this year ...
Today we'll clean and fill our feeders and spruce up the nature corner in honor of our family patron, Saint Francis. And those of us who can make it will attend morning Mass.
For tomorrow, I'll arrange our altar of remembrance - we have little baby food jars all clean and ready to turn into votives. And if the weather's good and we have time, we'll stop by the cemetery to pay respects and maybe do some grave rubbings. And perhaps I'll bake those donuts I usually bake on Halloween morning (but did not this year) and of course there will be "Mexican" for supper. :)
Simple joys, really - little ways to stay connected to our Faith and all its lovely traditions. I just love this time of year ... it feels like an ending of one season and the beginning of another. And so it is - we're nearing the start of the holiday season as well as a new liturgical year ... and of course, the natural year is winding down swiftly as well.
Well my friends, I'll be off. I hope this week's been kind to you, and I wish you all a good day ...
My friend Jenney has a lovely blog called Journey Towards Simplicity - she's a wonderful writer and has many great natural living ideas over there! I thought this postwas particularly timely since so many people I know - and live with - are dealing with terrible colds at the moment. I'm going to make up some of Jenney's "Mama's Chest Rub" this weekend ... a quick trip to Whole Foods should provide me with the few simple ingredients I need.
Now, so far I have eluded the currently circulating cold, but I'm sure it's only a matter of time ... because if it's not this cold, it may be the next one. And I'm kind of living in fear of it, to be honest, because this time around I can't take any medicine! (Dayquil is usually my one true salvation when a cold hits. Hardly a "natural" remedy, but it works wonders!)
So I stand here at the brink of cold & flu season - surrounded by sick people, lol - and thinking about both sides of infection (preventing + soothing). I'm looking to arm myself with information and advice ...
My friends, what are your favorite natural (homemade) cold remedies? What should I add to my Whole Foods list?
Here's what I have so far ...
lots of fluids
fragrant oils for steam
(I'm not a fan of eucalyptus, so maybe something else?)
vitamin c and zinc?
lemon & honey
*I'm a little nervous about herbal/vitamin supplements - only because I don't know what's safe for pregnancy and what's not. I'm sure if I "google" the issue I'll find plenty of (possibly conflicting) information, but I'll turn to my friends and readers first ... as well as my midwife, of course.
Well my friends, I hope this week's been treating you well. I have my first OB appt. today so please wish me luck! I'll ask about "nursing a cold when you're pregnant" and let you know what she tells me.
Have a great Thursday, everyone ... see you here again very soon!
The picture directly below was taken around 7 a.m. when the frost was on the punkin ... and just about everything else, including our lovely hydrangeas. I loved how the frost made the petals sparkle in the morning sun ...
But then just a bit ago, I found my beautiful blossoms looking like this:
It certainly was a killing frost!
Has Old Jack Frost been to your neck of the woods yet? This was our first hard frost, and today it was mighty chilly, I tell you. I'm loving this fall weather, though I must admit I'd enjoy a touch of "St. Luke's Little Summer" later this week. :)
I hope you're all having a nice weekend - I bought myself a pair of "Sea-Bands" this morning (as well as a box of Preggie Pop Drops) and so far they seem to be helping quite a bit!
Have a lovely evening my friends ... see you all again very soon!
As the nights start to cool, I like to make up our bed with this pretty fall bedding. Typically I do this on the autumn equinox, unless of course we're having unseasonably warm weather. Our days are nice and mild right now, but the evenings are rather nippy. This sheet set is as soft as butter and makes a nice bridge between summer and fall - it's bright and sunny, but warm and cozy as well.
Well I wish you all a pleasant Sunday ... I have just caught up with a week's worth of comments and I once again must apologize for taking so long. I really am finding our fall schedule a bit overwhelming and my routine feels all "off." I'm hoping it's just a matter of me finding my rhythm again and not an unmanagable schedule. We're only a few weeks into the new year after all ...
I hope to have a "Money Monday" post up tomorrow morning, but my plan for the following week is to revert back to "Masterpiece Mondays" as I'll be watching that new series, Call the Midwife on Sunday nights. It premieres on 9/30 and I can't wait to check it out!
In my early years of homeschooling I would have been absolutely panicked had our curriculum not arrived by Labor Day, lol. Nowadays I'm pretty confident we can fill our hours with all kinds of things to keep us busy - learning and living and observing and envisioning - with a curriculum or without.
(Still, I was glad to see that box on my doorstep!)
It's a simply gorgeous morning here ... sunny and warm, the air abuzz with insects and soft with morning haze. I want to soak up these last lovely days, and relish them for what they are: still ripe with summer, but coy with the promise of fall ...
Have a good one, my friends ... I'll see you here again very soon!
Do you use a "boxed" curriculum, and if so, what do you use?
I don't can much aside from picalilli, but I really wish I did. There's something so satisfying about seeing all those pretty jars lining your pantry. But picalilli is about more than just using up summer produce for me - it's about fond family memories and food that looks, smells and tastes like this time of year.
Are there any favorite pickles or preserves you make every year?
Now, I believe picalilli has numerous interpretations (it may vary by region, I'm not sure), but this is how my mum and I make it. We follow my grandmother's recipe which she followed for years - though I'm not sure where she got it originally. That's a picture of Gram below and a very old recipe card that belonged to her sister, my Great Aunt Frannie).
(I use this tiny glass rooster stand for holding my daily chore cards - I like to keep Gram's picture here too because - well, for one thing, I miss her - and for another, doing my daily chores makes me think of her; she was a wonderful example of a loving, earnest and truly happy housekeeper. When I take care of my daily tasks I think of my gram and let her spirit encourage me. ❤)
Ok, but back to the picalilli!
So I started with 15 pounds of green tomatoes which I purchased from a local farm. I don't grow my own tomatoes - not for lack of trying, mind you - but my grandmother would use tomatoes from my grandfather's garden. In later years, after my grandfather passed, we would start stalking local farms in August to determine who could provide us with the green (unripe) tomatoes we'd need. (Sometimes you have to ask - not all farms put the green tomatoes out front.)
In addition to the tomatoes, I chopped up three red peppers and three lbs. of organic onions ...
I had to divide the vegetables between two large pots because I didn't have a kettle large enough for the whole mix! (It's on my list for next year!)
So I did this Sunday night, and then sprinkled a cup of salt over the vegetables (half over each pot) and then let them sit overnight.
On Labor Day morning, the salted vegetables had sweated quite a bit, so first we (my mum and I) drained off the accumulated liquid. Then we added one bunch of celery, chopped fine, as well as one quart of cider vinegar and a bag of pickling spice.
(We use McCormick's Pickling Spice - the whole 1.5 oz. jar divided, and wrapped in cheesecloth bags.)
Then we added seven "teacups" of sugar ...
This was the measurement my grandmother used, her Irish china teacup ...
We gently mixed the ingredients and then set the pots to high, just to bring the temperature up, then back to medium to cook for 45 minutes.
As the picalili bubbles away on the stove, I just love inhaling that spicy-sweet smell ...
Once the picalilli is finished cooking, we removed it from the heat and then filled our prepared jars:
(Prepared as in, washed and sanitized through the dishwasher, then dried well.)
We processed the sealed jars in a hot water bath for 10 minutes. Note: my grandmother never used to do this, but Mum and I decided to take this extra step.
Final product: eight jars of Labor Day Picalilli!
Picalilli is a tangy-sweet relish, a lovely condiment to all kinds of meals. Last night Bill had some on his burger and dipped his steak fries in it as well. Tonight I'll serve it with meatloaf, baked potatoes and farmstand corn - as part of a special "back to school" supper. It's truly a seasonal and sentimental favorite!
Well my friends, I hope your week's going well. Are your kids back to school? Are you working out a new routine? It's hard to believe summer - for all intents and purposes - is over, but honestly? I'm more than ready for fall. :)
Thanks so much for stopping by ... I will see you here again very soon!
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 ...
Isn't it lovely?
But my farm business today was all about these beauties ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
So I stopped in at JoAnn Fabrics this weekend and was very happy to find a wonderful sale on fall decor ... I also happened to have several coupons to use so I splurged a little!
First, below you see a new tablecloth I got for the picnic table ...
I love how it coordinates with the chair cushions and planters, and I adore the folksy pattern! It's made from a flannel-backed vinyl, so it's great for the outdoors - and crafts, snacks and nature study etc. on the deck.
I also purchased these pretty clip-on silk sunflowers ...
They were about a dollar apiece. :)
This autumnal table runner also caught my eye ...
The print's a bit "70s" but I like it!
I also bought an olive green canvas messenger bag and a pretty embroidered floral patch to iron on it.
Won't that make a nice "homemade" fall bag?
And finally, and this has nothing to do with fall decor, but I wanted to share ...
Bill brought me flowers on Saturday, just before Crackerjack's party.
Aren't they lovely?
Well my friends, thanks so much for stopping by and letting me share a few early fall touches around my home. And thank you for all the wonderful "work at home" comments as well! I'm really enjoying reading your responses, and I hope you all are too!
Have a great Tuesday, everyone ~ see you here again very soon!
Congratulations, Lynn - you are the winner of my extra copy of British Country Living! I will be in touch soon to arrange mailing details - and I hope you enjoy it!
Here's Lynn's wonderful answer to my question about this time of year:
Summertime...lovely with late evenings outside/fireflies/watermelon/berries/lemonade/going to the lake/good books while the kids are swimming/ less routine/4th of July cookouts/baseball games/and rootbeer floats. I sadly see you go away sweet summertime, but this year you were brutally hotso I am looking forward to your older sister's arrival - Awesome Autumn... a new school year full of new promise, stew for supper, and cinnamon tea, football, cozy fleece pullovers, golden leaves and crispy nights.
It's all good! And so is God!
Perfectly put, Lynn!
Thank you all for participating in this giveaway ... I so enjoyed reading through all your comments about this time of year when the seasons are ready to change. Change is always good, but sometimes it's hard to let go ... and sometimes it's a welcome relief.
I relish this time of year because it's the best of both worlds ... we're still enjoying all the blessings of summer and yet we're heady with the anticipation of fall and all its comforts and joys. Also, I think there's nothing quite so refreshing to the human spirit as a fresh start and that's just what September feels like to me. :)
Well, my friends, have a great Monday ... I have one or two posts more for today, so I'll see you here again very soon!
To celebrate the arrival of Summer, Earlybird and I worked on two simple, seasonal crafts today. The first thing we did was to make a pitcher of "Sun" Tea ...
We set this on the deck as the heat began to build (it's a doozy of a day here - high's near 100!). We just filled a clear pitcher with plain water and added five tea bags ...
Then we let The Sun do its work!
And about four hours later ...
We had fresh, naturally-brewed Sun Tea!
EB had no interest in trying the tea himself, though he did like smelling it, and he did enjoy helping me "doctor" it with ice, sugar and lemon.
I thought it was absolutely delicious!
Now, the other craft we worked on was a festive, fruity kitchen garland ...
We (meaning me, weilding a serrated knife) sliced lemons and clementines into 1/4-inch thin rounds, and then threaded them with twine ...
Then we strung them up above the kitchen sink to dry!
Don't they look pretty in the soft window light? I plan to hang some small bunches of herbs here (from our garden) as the summer goes along. I told EB that this fruit - so juicy and jewel-like right now - would dry out (preserve) as time went on. Of course, the fruit flies think they've died and gone to fruit fly heaven ... so we'll see what breaks first - my patience or their perseverence!
Earlybird and I also looked at the calendar and talked about the cycle of the year ... how we're just about mid-way through, and that at the opposite end of the year we'll arrive at the first day of winter. I suggested we save the (eventually) dried citrus rounds to use in a homemade holiday potpourri. We even marked it down on the calendar - a craft for the winter solstice - so he can see how time passes ...
And so we'll turn Summer's bounty into Winter's gifts. :)
So a very Happy Summer to you all! I hope this new season brings your family much joy and contentment. Summer is notorious for flying by so enjoy it while you can!
Thanks so much for stopping by ... see you again very soon!
Yes, there are signs of life here again, inside and out ... we are slowly making our way back to 'normal' and thank the good Lord, Bill and Earlybird have remained healthy. (Thank you SO much for your prayers! May I be greedy and ask for your continuance?) The older boys are just about A-ok - though Bookworm is still eating far less than usual! I myself am still feeling shwiped (another one of those 'family vocab' words) and my stomach is tolerating a little bit of bland food, but considering how poorly I felt on Friday and even yesterday, I'll take it! (To give you a good picture just how aggressive this bug really was ... I lost seven pounds over the past three days. o.O)
Anyhoo! It's a cold and sunny Sunday here - lovely, really - and I wanted to share a few photos with you ... as you see above we spotted "signs of life" in our front yard ... crocus shoots under the big maple!
And early this morning I spotted a pair of male robins engaging in what I assume to be spring courtship behavior. They were fighting - over territory or a female I couldn't be sure - but they were big and red and just looked like Springtime itself sitting high up in our tree.
I so wished I would hear them sing - nothing says Spring like robin song - but they were far too busy sparring to sing for me.
Here's a picture of my lunch, kindly made and arranged by Bill (who has picked up a LOT of slack these past few days while I was down for the count).
There's chicken noodle soup in the mug, and that's a half a grilled cheese sandwich. Bookworm got the other half. ;)
After lunch I found I had a little energy so instead of cleaning as I really NEED to do (using cleaners I bought specifically for anti-viral cleanup), I sat at my desk and did a little "pretty puttering."
(What you see directly above has to do with couponing ... and I can't wait to show you all about it. This was an idea I got from my friend, Kim. :))
I can show you the spine of the binder, though ...
And before I go, how about a couple of cat shots, since I didn't put up a Friday Felines last week?
Focusing on a fluffy finch at the feeder.
Archie, aching for avian achievement.
Ollie, wondering where I went ...
And Ollie again, basking in a basket.
Well I think that used more brain cells than I have to spare at the moment, so I'll wrap up, now, lol ...
Before I go, I can tell you all, I will definitely be watching Downton Abbey tonight - provided things stay status quo. That special I mentioned a while back - Secrets of the Manor House - is on at 8, so we'll record that while watching Once Upon a Time with the boys. (For Lost fans, the actress that played Claire - mother of Aaron - is guest starring tonight on OuaT. She's playing Beauty (as in, Beauty and the Beast).)
So, you may expect my "Morning After" Downton post to go up early as usual tomorrow.
Until then, my friends, have a good night and stay safe and well. I'll see you all again sometime soon ...
Sometime last night (12:30 a.m. to be exact), Winter arrived - and not as quietly as one would think - but with violent thunder, lightning, and a hard pouding rain! The storm woke up both Bill and I - though surprisingly the boys slept through it - and my first thought when I looked at the clock, was: Wow, Winter's really coming in with a bang!
Just a few hours later, though - storm over, sun on the rise - Bill slipped outside and plugged in these lights ... such fun for the boys to see when they first woke up!
And while Bill fired up the suns, I started the Solstice Cider:
This is just a blend of apple cider and cranberry juice, which I brought to a boil on the stove. I placed mulling sachets and cinnamon sticks in our pinecone mugs ...
And five minutes later the cider was ready to sip, so it was time to rustle up some boys! I also toasted some cranberry English muffins and lathered them with Crofter's Blood Orange spread. (This stuff is SO good. If you like marmalade, as I do - but are not fond of the chunky peel, as I'm not - you'll love this spread! I bought my jar at Whole Foods.)
Now our day will be pretty quiet, but I do have a few things planned. This morning we'll set out treats for the birds (our favorite Winter friends) and a bit later on, the boys will make a gingerbread house with Nana. (That's the "surprise" on their Advent scroll today!)
And while the boys are out, I'll do some pre-Christmas cleaning - it will be a nice day to open windows and air things out a bit. After my 4:00 tea break, I'll start supper:a beefy cottage pie. And for dessert, I'll bake a yummy "oats & apples" crisp.
Now, today's weather is not very wintery at all - not for New England anyway. In fact, today will be sunny and rather mild, in the 50s. And while I can appreciate the unseasonable (but comfortable) weather, Crackerjack is just distraught we'll likely not see a white Christmas! Of course I reminded him that before long we'll have more snow than we can shake a fist at - for goodness sakes, remember last year?
So I'm off for now, but I do wish you all a Happy Solstice! And whatever Winter brings to your corner of the world, I hope it's kind to you this year! Which now has me wondering ... what is Winter like where you live?
Also, please, if you have the time and inclination, stop by this post and take part in our "Cookie Poll" today ... I'll be drawing a winner tomorrow morning!
Have a good day, my friends... see you back here sometime soon!
Brew me a cup for a winter's night. For the wind howls loud and the furies fight; Spice it with love and stir it with care, And I'll toast our bright eyes, my sweetheart fair. ~ Minna Thomas Antrim
I took this picture on our way home from the library late this afternoon. It's a landscape I drive by numerous times in any given week but something made me stop my car and really look today. Maybe it was the vibrant colors, maybe it was the low gray sky ... most likely it was the feeling that this autumn moment will be over and gone all too soon. In a week or two this pretty vista will be bare and dull, maybe wet or even frosty - as only November can be. Time flies, seasons change, life moves on ... I'm glad I spent the three minutes it took to pull over, park and snap a few pics. :)
On a completely random side note, did you know today is World Pasta Day? I happened to read that in China Bayles' Book of Days. (Fyi, I often find quirky holidays like this at this website here.) And, as it just so happened, I made baked ziti for supper tonight - a quick and easy meal before the boys headed out to soccer. It's not my favorite pasta dish, but the boys absolutely love it. Plus it's the one thing I make that all THREE of the kids agree on! (Except that Crackerjack doesn't like cheese baked on his portion of the pasta, lol.) It's also hands down the easiest meal I make. Perfect for days when we've been super busy or out and about ... or the rare evenings when one or some of us have somewhere to be.
Personally I love a good old-fashioned lasagna - meat yes, veggies no - but I haven't made one of those in a long while. I think it makes an especially nice cold weather dish. When I was younger I absolutely loved fettucini alfredo - but I find it too rich for me now. A nice angel hair spaghetti tossed with garlicky oil and sauteed shrimp and vegetables would be another preferred pasta of mine.
So now that I've given you all kinds of *ahem* food for thought - :) - I find myself wondering ~ what kind of pasta does your family enjoy? Do you make your own sauce? And have you ever made pasta from scratch?
Well, I'm going to head out, but I'll be back again soon. I hope you're all having a good week - the very last week of October!
Our Nature Study Club met for the first time this (academic) year, yesterday here at our home. We started the meeting in our backyard, but then walked the kids down to a trail behind our home. Our September mission ~ to say goodbye to Summer and look for signs of Fall ...
As usual, we had a wide range of ages attend Nature Club - a few teens, several middle schoolers and plenty of little ones. Twenty-eight children in all, which was a fantastic turn-out! I made up a trail checklist* for the kids to work off of, listing things they might be able to observe on our walk. I also prepared a bunch of clean baby food containers (small plastic tubs with fitted lids) to serve as miniature collection boxes.
Here's one of the tables I had set up in the yard:
In the left corner are the collection boxes and checklists.
And in the right corner is an assortment of autumn books and nature magazines.
*Here's the list of items I had on my handout:
Ferns and/or moss?
Wildflowers ~ how many different kinds/colors?
A nest or sign of nesting activity?
Fungii ~ where is it growing? What kind?
Trees ~ how many kinds can you identify?
Any sign of fall foliage?
Insects ~ see, hear, or other evidence?
Seeds ~ in travel, on the ground, on a plant?
Spider webs ~ what kind? Is the spider visible?
A fruiting plant and/or a vine?
An animal ~ see, hear or other evidence?
Migration in action? (Look up!)
Sounds ~ birds, squirrels, human, elemental?
Can you find the temperature by cricket song?
(Count the number of chirps in 15 seconds + 38 = temperature)
Is there a breeze? In what direction is it blowing ?
Any nice or nasty smells?
Above is the "moms resource" table. I put out a variety of nature-related books, field guides, audubon guides etc.
And here are some photos from our walk, as you can see it was an absolutely beautiful day:
Goldenrod, a plant that grows all over New England in September.
Milkweed - the pods have not opened yet, but soon ...
I believe this is pokeweed.
And wild asters (or Michaelmas daisies), another September favorite.
One of the very observant children spotted this incredible caterpillar, munching on some goldenrod (and completely unaware of the tiny spider stalking nearby!).
No idea what kind of butterfly he'll be, but he sure is colorful!
We went off-trail for a bit, meandering into a field to listen and look for insects. There were many, many dragonflies darting overhead, grasshoppers and locusts hopping about and just look what the children found here:
A praying mantis!
I haven't seen one since I was a child! I remembered them as being green so I was surprised this one was pale brown. We wondered if he was camouflaged to blend in with the faded grass?
I couldn't get a close picture of this shy bird, but I think it is a flycatcher of some sort. Only rarely do we see them in our backyard.
The following picture shows the most startling discovery of all ...
Bill had spotted this animal jawbone earlier in the day. I told the kids to look out for it and sure enough, on the walk back home, they were able to find it. Out came the cameras and sketchbooks!
We wondered what it might be - and what might have happened - trying to determine if the teeth were sharp or dull. Guesses included coyote, fox, dog and deer. Bill looked online last night and actually this most closely resembles a deer jaw.
Do any of my readers have any thoughts? (Other than, ew, lol!)
Last photo - this a collection box that got left behind ... just look at all the little treasures that fit in here!
We made lots of neat discoveries, but the nicest part of the day was the friendship and good fun. When we returned home, the children played, the mums chatted and we all enjoyed some cold cider and cornbread. I'm just so thrilled to see another year of Nature Club off and running!
Thanks for stopping by today, and I hope wherever you live, you're enjoying the blessings of this lovely time of year. :)
It's misty here today, and cool - around 60 degrees - but the weekend promises much sunshine and warmth. (Or as warm as we can expect things to be at this time of year!) I've noticed that things have really popped here this week; the forsythia is vibrant and full, the azaleas and magnolias and other flowering trees are also in full bloom. The grass is finally greening and the leaves are just starting to come out on the trees. I think it's safe to say that Spring has finally sprung! Is it like this in your corner of the world - or are you still waiting on Old Man Winter's departure?
While I'm here, I'd like to share some pictures of our Nature Shelf this month:
That plant is actually a few sprouted bean seeds, a science project the kids did last month.
Butterflies, Salamanders and Spring - our themes of the month.
Spring soccer kicks off here tomorrow, and I'm feeling an urge to visit the local nursery for some seeds and plants. Much laundry to fold, several lessons to plan and a breakfast with some dear friends I haven't seen in far too long ...
I hope you all have a wonderful weekend ~ until next time, be well and be blessed!
Follow my family through the seasons of the year! I am Dawn ~ wife to Bill, and mom to 3 boys with a baby (boy!) on the way. ❤ Here I chat about lots of things - family, food, faith, nature, crafts, planning and home education. I hope you enjoy your visit!
Three beautiful deer in the neighbor's yard very early this morning! They were grazing beneath the bird feeders and my cats were positively glued to the window watching what I'm certain they thought were monsters of some kind. ;D
Another gorgeous day - after morning thunderstorms rumbled through, the skies cleared up and the sun came out. Should reach 70 today! We've been hearing peepers from the woods - really have to get out there to visit the vernal pool. :)
Beautiful spring day! Sunny and 60 degrees. Just had a wild turkey walk through the yard! Also spied a brownish butterfly floating past the kitchen window. :)
Click here! This link will lead you to a post where you can leave questions and comments on the file crate system. There is also a link to my FCS archive, which includes all the posts I've done on the system through the years. ❤
My Housekeeping Blog
Daily Bits of Domestic Bliss A place for me to keep all the nitty gritty housekeeping notes that will more than likely bore most readers, but may be of interest to some. :)