Seasons Feed

My Early Autumn Planning Sheets (Printables!)


Happy Sunday, everyone! I hope you are all enjoying your weekend! :)

Here in America we are celebrating Labor Day weekend, which means tomorrow is a holiday for most of us. It is also considered the unofficial "end of summer" since most children have returned to school by now. (We return to lessons Tuesday!) We're still summery though, weather-wise - after some rain and wind from Hurricane Hermine tomorrow, we are expecting a return to the 90s for the balance of the week! But this is how it goes at this time of year ...

The mornings and evenings ARE cooler and the light is different now, too. The signs of seasonal change are subtle, but -  if you pay attention - then over time instinctually you can tell when these little shifts are taking place. It feels good to be connected with the rhythm of the year. Like being privy to some vital (though often overlooked) information ...

But anyhoo - I am very happy to FINALLY present my next set of seasonal planning sheets to you ... once again with my sincere apologies to be so VERY last minute. sigh My computer crash definitely slowed me down this summer, but honestly, it just took me a while to get around to ironing out all the details! (Not just the plans themselves, but the colors and the clipart!) I have such fun, thinking about these kinds of things, though ... I have always maintained that if we don't plan for joy as carefully as we plan for work, then we might just miss out on a lot. Too much. There are way too many things I LOVE about autumn that I want to share with my children. And I now have a good idea just how fast the years fly ... my oldest "baby" is 21, while my newest is a very busy and delightful THREE. How did that happen?

I may not ever do everything in my plans but I am grateful for what we can do and glad I have made myself (and my family) aware of these kinds of things. These are the things that enrich the ordinary ... make the everyday special ... set one day apart from the next ... and remind us just how BLESSED we are to get to do it again, year after year ... as long as God allows.

Well, ok - time to get down to the nitty gritty! Here are the planning sheets for the next season ahead, which I call "Early Autumn" (September and October). I have my "themes and plans" overview first - one with my notes and one that is blank for you to fill up with your own ideas (though you're welcome to try mine!). Then there are the multi-week planning sheets - an overview that allows for space for you to plan a weekly theme, days of note, home & garden tasks, comforts & joys, meal plans and to-do's ... along with a little vintage clipart and a snippet of an idea from me. :) These go from this coming week (9/5-9/11) through the last week of Early Autumn (10/31-11/6).

And finally, there is a home learning planning sheet in complementary colors. You might use this differently if you don't homeschool - maybe just notes for each of your kids. Goodness knows our kids always have a lot going on! I myself have three boys I'm currently homeschooling so there is room for their lesson notes as well as a day-by-day overview. And if you need a different number of boxes, let me know - I can tweak my original and email you a new copy. :)

Early Autumn Overview (Dawn's)

Early Autumn Overview (clean)

Early Autumn Planning Sheets

Home Learning this Week (Early Autumn) 

I do hope these are of some use to you - I'd love to hear feedback if you have a minute! And please let me know if the links are wonky - I check on my end, but who knows what glitches might come to pass in cyberspace!

I will be back next - PROMISE - with the 52 seasonal themes. (I think that's the third time I've promised them!) And in another month or so - hopefully sooner than later! - I will be back with my last set of seasonal sheets, Late Autumn (November and December). It is my fond hope to publish these on the early side and include some holidays sheets in there too. But we shall see. So please stay tuned,  and thanks so much for stopping by! 

I will see you here again very soon ...

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 ...
πŸŒ› πŸŒ 🌜🌚

Living in Season: Creating A Cozy Corner

Cozy corner 1

Happy Wednesday, my friends! I hope your week's going well! 

So I talk a lot here about embracing the seasons and the changes they bring to our lives - the way we dress, eat, feel, pray, etc. I love how with each passing season there is a feeling of something new and yet a comforting familiarity as well. There's a first snowfall every year ... but somehow it's always full of magic. The daffodils return every spring ... but they're always such a miracle. ❀

But I think it's fair to say that some seasons are easier to embrace than others ... and this time of year is a challenge for some folks as the light fades and the days grow short and the weather is often unfriendly. So I thought I might start posting about the things we can do to create a more enjoyable season - for ourselves and our families. Simple, little things that might brighten our days ... if only figuratively. :)

My friends, will you join me? Shall we learn to live "in season" by accepting the changes and adjusting our mindset a bit? What if we saw every change - the long nights, the soggy days, the frequent storms and the early sunsets - as a reminder we're here to see another season? That we've been blessed with another year on this earth and all that comes with it - the light and the dark?

(Ok I'm getting a bit deeper than I meant to, so let me step back for a moment!)

Why don't we start very simply this week by creating a cold season cozy corner ... this will be our first "assignment."

How about over the next few days we find a nice spot in our homes where we will build a little nest. This will be a spot where we can sit down, think a bit, read a while, or just take a breather. A spot where, on these dark afternoons, we can get off our feet and surround ourselves with a humble helping of comfort and joy.

Where would this be in your house? Do you have a spot like this already?

It would be wonderful to make "nesting" a daily ritual - late afternoon, just before supper? - but if daily is inconvenient, or too much to attempt, what about once a week? On which day of the week can you carve out an hour to spend in your nest?

Here in this nest you will have added some wonderful feathers: throw blankets - slippers, perhaps? - good things to read, a notepad and pen, perhaps some hand lotion rich with the scents of the season? Lights are important here - a good one for reading - but I also like to have candles around, too (LED for me, since I have a toddler in the house). I like the ones that turn on as the sun dips low in the sky - a glowing reminder to slow down and rest, just as nature is doing.

More to consider:

There should be a good spot where you can safely put down your chosen refreshment. Since I'll be taking tea in my nest, and there is the aforementioned toddler afoot, I will need to place my tea well past the edge of the table.

Sitting by a window is ideal, I think, if you can manage it. A seasonal view and a good dose of natural light is good for the soul! Hanging a bird feeder here would also be lovely!

A basket with notecards and stationary would be handy - this could be a time to pen a note to a friend or relative. Maybe get a head start on those Season's Greetings? :)

 And finally, how about some artwork? A picture or sculpture upon which you can reflect? This might be something representing your faith or the season at hand ... a quote for the month, or simply a photo of your loved ones.


However your nest is feathered, it will be different in style and content for different people. Some like things streamlined while others prefer a bit of clutter. Some want things formal and some not. Some of us will be wedged in a corner of a room filled with other people ... while others might secure a spot of privacy somewhere in the house. And some of us have little ones we can't escape all around us and that needs to be taken into consideration, too. 

Well, lets take a look at what I've set up for myself today ..

Cozy corner 3

My nest is set up in the living room (aka library ... aka playroom), and my chair is old and squishy, but comfy as all get out. For as much as I'd like to make my cozy corner a somewhat private affair, it's silly for me to think it always (or even often) will be. But that's ok. This is the season I'm in! I am the mother of a little one and he's growing so fast ... some days I will get some time to myself (if LB's napping or busy with Bill or the brothers) and that will be enough. To sit here and relax will be nice, and because there are plenty of toys about, I can sit, and Little Bear can play in the room or perch on my lap and "read" his own books ...

I also have a basket of magazines here ... and BOY do I love those fall-holiday magazines!

Cosy corner 2

As well as the Thanksgiving basket, filled with our books for the holiday at hand.

(Truth be told, I love reading through them even by myself!)

Cozy corner 4

And right behind my chair is yet another basket full of books. These are Little Bear's favorite board books - he likes to stand on my lap and pick through his collection ...

On the windowsill I have displayed favorite Thanksgiving cards (never sent or received, just part of my collection), and under the lamp I have my page-a-day calendar as well as a stack of favorite reads.

Cozy corner 7

At day's end ... living by the light!


My friends, I'd love to hear about (or see!) your cozy nests - please leave me a comment below or consider sending me a picture (email: bysunandcandle AT gmail DOT com). I would love to share this endeavor with others and carry on throughout the fall and winter, visiting each other's nests from time to time and chatting about seasonal ideas. I will continue to post little "assignments" now and again - and of course you'll be seeing more of my nest as we being our Advent Teas very soon!

Speaking of tea ... tomorrow - or Friday at the latest - I will have a post up with more information on my upcoming Advent Tea Journal. Monday's tea will be ahead of Advent, with a focus on Thanksgiving, and our theme for discussion will be "simplifying the season." I plan to have my post up on Monday afternoon and would LOVE to have you all join me!

Ok, I think I've kept you all here long enough! Thanks so much for joining me and also, thanks for the kind words about my podcast with Pam! I am so glad I did it ... I'm pleased I was able to step outside my "comfort zone" and join in the fun. And those podcasts are SUCH fun. What a service Pam is doing for the homeschooling mama community - and I am honored to have taken a small part!

Enjoy your evening, my friends ... see you here again very soon!

Tea Parties & Plans ...

Oak leaves branch

Good Thursday morning, my friends! I hope your week's going well. :)

First up - in Planner Party news, I'm eager to hear from more of you and am very happy to share more planner posts, so if you have some thoughts or pics to share, please send them to me at:

bysunandcandle AT gmail DOT com

I have a bit more to share on the subject myself - in fact, I'm currently working on a post about my binder tabs ... but of course, mid-way through I decided to completely overhaul the whole thing. ;) So that post will be up soon, I hope! 

Now, about my next "party" ...

Advent tea

I was thinking it would be nice to bring back my Advent Tea Journal from last year ... and I'd love to have you all join me again! If you'd like to see how we "took tea" last year, here is a link to my Tea Journal (and here is a link to my Advent archives for good measure). This year I will follow a similar format: there will be a theme to each week, a topic to discuss. I will share my own thoughts and photos, and I invite you all to do the same, whether by e-mail or comment or by posting at your own blog and linking up ... :)

And just like last year I will begin with a Thanksgiving Tea! Join me here on Monday, November 23rd to share some afternoon refreshment and take a collective breath before the busy holiday week gets underway. Our Advent Teas will follow over the next four weeks and then there will be one final Christmas Tea before we conclude our party. :)

Here are the Tea dates and topics:

Thanksgiving Tea: Monday, November 23rd ~ "Simplifying the Season"

Advent Tea, #1: Monday, November 30th ~ "Gifts from the Heart"

Advent Tea, #2: Monday, December 7th ~ "O Christmas Tree"

Advent Tea, #3: Monday, December 14th ~ "Magic + Meaning" (Advent for children)

Advent Tea, #4: Monday, December 21st ~ "Welcoming Winter"

Christmas Tea: Monday, December 28th ~ "'Tis the Season!"


My friends, I welcome you to send me your thoughts on our weekly topics (along with photos if you care to share them) and if you blog, I hope you'll consider posting about our Teatime and sending me a link. I'll also collect comments as they post and add them into each post ... so there's a way for just about everyone to participate!

In the week leading up to each Tea I will post reminders (where, how and when to send things) and describe more fully each topic. And I'm going to try to make up a pretty Tea button of some sort ... but I haven't done that in a long time, so I hope I remember how! 

I think this will be such fun - a nice chance to pause and reflect on the season while indulging in a little teatime together. I'm hoping by organizing this all now I'm giving myself (and you!) some time to digest and think ahead ... I hope you'll join me if you can!

For now though ... well, Advent seems pretty far off ... it's a damp and dark (dare I say dreary?) day here. Very mid-November. Most of the leaves are gone (from the trees, that is ... there are plenty plastered to the wet ground). But December is just around the corner! I'm not one to rush things (and certainly not seasons) but there is prudence in getting things set, at least in your mind if not also on paper. Because as much as I don't like rushing I really don't like scrambling ... and that's what happens when I leave things to just happen without planning ahead! I want my seasons to be simple, yes - but also satisfying ... and that takes a little forethought, I think.

Well that's all for now, friends ... my little one's due to wake any moment. So I must be off ... but I thank you, as always, for stopping by and I will see you here again very soon!


Favorite Resources for Seasonal Planning

Seasonal resources

Hello my friends, and Happy Thursday!

I hate to wish time away, but I do love the promise of a new week! So on Thursdays I try to schedule myself an "office hour" in order to sit down and look at "what's what" for the coming week. So today, as I was combing through some of my favorite seasonal resources (searching for a dragon bread recipe for Michaelmas next week), I remembered that a few folks have asked me to share a list of said resources. So below I've done just that ...

The Catholic Home

Baking Bread with Children

All Year Round

Festivals, Family and Food

Ceremonies of the Seasons

Vintage Notions

Mrs. Sharp's Traditions

A Child's Seasonal Treasury

Book of the Seasons


The New England Butt'ry Shelf Almanac

China Bayles' Book of Days

A Book of Feasts & Seasons

Catholic Traditions in the Home & Classroom

The Nature Connection

A Continual Feast

The Nature Notes of an Edwardian Lady

The Ancient Celtic Festivals: How We Celebrate Them Today

The Catholic Parent's Book of Feasts

In addition to my books, I also rely on old journals, some magazines, a few websites and good ol' google when planning our family's seasons. There's more information and inspiration out there than one could possibly need in a lifetime! The trick, I think, is identifying what will click with YOUR family at THIS time, and knowing how to balance ideas with reality ...

Now, I've had most of these books for years, and I've read them so many times I could probably recite them in my sleep, but I still like to page back through them from time to time. Sometimes an idea pops out at me that perhaps didn't resonate before ... sometimes I just enjoy reading the words of someone who is enthralled with the same things as me. :)

When I'm brainstorming ideas for celebrating the seasons, I like to use a wide blend of resources - Catholic, Waldorf, Nature/Science, Home/Garden, New Age or Earth-based traditions. When I'm looking for seasonal ideas I don't worry if the author and I differ on fundamental life issues. In every year there are so many things to observe and honor in both the natural and liturgical season ... so I look all over for ideas ... you never know what will strike a chord! Obviously I do have many Catholic books since A. we are Catholic and B. we follow the Church calendar of feasts and observations ... but the rhythm of nature is embraced by people of all walks of life. Some folks are more attuned to that rhythm than others, but honoring nature is just being human - aware, interested, awed.

Anyhoo ... I was going over thoughts and ideas for October in general and next week in particular - which is such a busy week for my nature-loving, Catholic homeschooling family! We have a bunch of neat things coming up - a Full Hunter's Moon (a Blood Moon-Supermoon-Lunar eclipse to boot!), the Feast days of the Archangels (aka Michaelmas), St. Therese, the Holy (Guardian) Angels, and - AND - our family patron saint, St. Francis. Oh! And the new month of October begins, so don't forget:

Rabbit, Rabbit!

I won't try to do every last thing of course - the dragon bread may wait till next year - but I will certainly pick a few activities to plug into our week. I've been busy in my lesson planner, consulting my calendar and the weather app on my phone - looking at where we'll have a chance to get outside ... where we might have a chance to sit down and craft or bake or read a special book ... what we might pray over or talk about ... all those little moments that take some forethought and preparation, perhaps a bit of extra energy ... but have us looking back later on and saying ...

"Yeah, that was a really good week."

Well my friends, the night is now approaching and I'm taking too long to finish this post, so I'll stop here ... and hope I made sense. ;) But at least there's the book list! I'd love to hear about your favorite seasonal resources ... drop me a note if you have a chance!

In the meantime, as always, thanks so much for stopping by ... take care of yourselves and your loved ones ... I'll see you here again very soon!

Creating Seasonal Themes: Corn Week!

Corn 1
(Plus a bit of book news at the end!)

Happy Wednesday, my friends! Sorry I've been a bit out of touch lately ... we've had a lot going on here at the house these days!

We're gearing up for a new year of home learning, and we're getting Bookworm ready for his move back to BC, and we're starting Earlybird on a new, daily, home-based, fairly intensive, behavioral therapy. All very good things, but all things requiring a lot of time, energy and attention. (And did I mention, energy?) Also, as August winds down, we're trying to squeeze the very last drops of goodness out of this fast-fleeing season ... we'll have warm weather here for several more weeks, but for all intents and purposes, Summer pretty much ends after Labor Day.

So I thought I would share some of my notes for this week with you all! As I have mentioned before, I enjoy shaping my family's year by assigning seasonal themes to each week. This helps me weave in all the little comforts and joys of the season I might otherwise overlook. And though I really get into planning these themes out with all kinds of details, I try not to set my expectations too high. Because real life often runs over my plans, and a particular "theme" might not get explored very much ... so some years we might manage something small (a special recipe, perhaps) while other years we might go all out and really work that theme into our homeschooling and home life! Either way, I think it's always good to have a plan. And to be aware ... I think as seasons pass, the beautiful rhythm of the year truly wraps itself around my family however much attention we pay it. That is my end goal! :)

Anyhoo, this current week is devoted to the very timely topic of CORN. In New England (and I suspect, across much of the country) corn is in its peak season these days. Corn-on-the-cob is just heavenly right now - partaking daily is not out of the question - and cornstalks will factor into our home decorations in the coming weeks ...

But enough gabbing on my part! Here are some of my thoughts:

The Full Green Corn Moon will rise on Saturday, August 29th @ 2:35 p.m., and it's a Supermoon this month! We'll have to be sure to look for it after dark and plan a special farmstand supper - starring corn, of course! - for that night. 


We'll visit a local corn field ... we drive by it often and always marvel at its size. This time we'll stop the car and get out - observe the field, its sounds and smells. What wildlife is flying overhead or scurrying underfoot? What do we hear? (Is that the corn making that sound?) What can we smell? (Vegetation, earth?) How does the air feel right now? (Hot, humid?) Now, we won't touch these stalks because we don't have permission, but we might visit a local farm and ask to do just that. I'll see what our schedule allows and how much interest has been piqued. Before we go, we'll take pictures of the cornfield from various angles. 


We'll visit our favorite farmstand and buy plenty of ears of fresh corn. We'll ask where the corn comes from and how many ears they sell each day. We'll buy some to eat and some to use for exploration/activities ...

At home, we'll pile some ears on the table and take out our colored pencils and sketch pad: "Still Life with Corn!"


We''ll enjoy some nice books from the library all about corn:

Corn book 2

The Life and Times of Corn

Corn book 1


Corn book 3

Corn is Maize

Corn book 4

The Popcorn Book

Corn book 5

Raccoons and Ripe Corn

(These might be in a basket or set up as a display on a nature shelf.)


We'll play some pretty lullabies ... and discuss how/why corn was so important to Native Americans

Corn music

Under the Green Corn Moon (Native American Lullabies)

For craft day we'll make a corn husk candle - a small glass votive surrounded by corn husks with a tiny beeswax tealight tucked inside. That will look nice on our table! (We could also try making this or this ...)

Or we could try making a corn husk doll (and research the history behind it) ...

We will pop popcorn for snack ... and we might even make marshmallow popcorn bars for a tasty treat!

We might do a taste test: boiled corn vs. grilled corn. 

On baking day we will make a pan of corn bread, and serve it with honey butter.


We'll learn a poem called "A Green Cornfield" by Christina Georgina Rossetti. We'll add that poem to our nature journal, along with our pictures/sketches.

 The earth was green, the sky was blue:
I saw and heard one sunny morn
A skylark hang between the two,
A singing speck above the corn;

A stage below, in gay accord,
White butterflies danced on the wing,
And still the singing skylark soared,
And silent sank and soared to sing.

The cornfield stretched a tender green
To right and left beside my walks;
I knew he had a nest unseen
Somewhere among the million stalks.

And as I paused to hear his song
While swift the sunny moments slid,
Perhaps his mate sat listening long,
And listened longer than I did.


We'll consider "Kansas Corn Field," a painting by artist John Steuart Curry in 1933:

Corn 2


I also have notes for some Indian Corn activities but I'm not sure if I can get it at the nursery yet. Also, those might wait for a later week in the fall. This week is really more about fresh, or green, corn. :)

So there, in a nutshell (or a kernel!) are my simple ideas for celebrating the goodness of corn during this last week of August. Remember - they're all just possibilities! I can't imagine fitting them all in in any one given year.

How do you enjoy corn at this time of year? Perhaps you grow it yourself or have a favorite recipe ... let me know in the comments below! In the meantime, and before I go, I wanted to mention my book briefly, because I've had a few people ask recently about how my progress is going ...

So, I have been working on it this summer - here and there, not as often as I'd like! - but it took me a while to get going because I wasn't entirely sure WHAT I wanted to write about. I have a few subjects I enjoy very much and there are a few topics people ask about more than others ... well, I finally found my focus! And that enabled me to get rolling ...

I am going to do a book about the file crate system - describing how I do it (and why) and the basics of setting a system up for yourself. That will be the first half of the book ... the second half will focus on seasonal learning (and living) ... and how I use my FCS to manage my family's year. So my hope is to have an outline of 52 (weekly) *seasonal* themes to present  along with activities and books and observations. And tips for using the folders to make it all happen! (Or most of it ... some of it ... well, you get the picture!)

Sometimes when I describe this it all sounds so straight forward and simple - these are my two favorite topics, after all! It seems like the two sides of the equation should work well together ... I need the folders to make the plans happen! But it's possible I may need to separate the two topics ... goodness knows I can get wordy!

(Case in point, this post.)

I will most likely be self-publishing so I'll need to do a WHOLE lot of research into that. I have my eye on a neat contraption that will allow me to bind things at home ... and I am looking into permission for using things like scrapbook papers and poems, illustrations, etc. 

Much to do, much to do! But I'm excited ... so I wanted to update you all .. and I will of course keep you all posted. For the time being, if you have a prayer to spare, or good energy to send, I would be grateful ... I'm desperately trying to find the time in my new schedule to just ... get 'er done!


Thanks so much for stopping by my friends ... enjoy the rest of your Wednesday and I will see you here again very soon!

Advent: Moments of Peace & Joy

 Happy Thursday, my friends! I hope this note finds you well, and enjoying this last week of Advent. Things are fairly quiet on our homefront, and I'm grateful for that. These days I'm trying very hard not to "stress" over the many things left un-done on my to-do list ... trying to re-set my expectations ... and remember that the true spirit of Christmas can be found without spending a cent or stepping outside of my home.

To that end, I continue to find a little joy and peace each day, when and where I can find it ... here are a few recent moments I'd like to share with you:

Advent calendars 2

Advent calendars - the simple old fashioned kind - one for each child, and a chocolate for each day. (I eat Little Bear's, natch.) With thanks to my brother who surprised the boys with these on Thanksgiving Day.

Wise men 1

The wise men, starting their long journey in a sunny, south-facing window. I find two or three of these guys on the floor every morning. Thanks to Oliver who is oddly fixated on the nativity set.

The three kings will start their trek on Christmas and by Epiphany they'll have made their way 'round the room to the hearth ...

Creche in hearth


Solstice books 1

And here are a bunch of winter books for Saturday's solstice. I've been displaying seasonal books on my desk and I love the way they look - even if we don't get to read them, they're so good to see ... like old friends, you know?

Winter tea set

My wintertime "boy-friendly" tea set ... love how it looks in the late afternoon light. I set it on top of a hand-painted tray which is set upon a ruby-red brocade ottoman. It makes me all kinds of happy that I have this little set up in my house. :) Looking at it makes me think of the long winter to come, and afternoons filled with hot chocolate, good books and kids.


And here we have a paper parade of vintage snowmen, perched along the windowsill... I love Christmas decorations that will suit the winter as well.

Bird garland]

A very pretty garland featuring softly painted, slightly glittery Victorian birds - strung along the mantel on an ivory ribbon. This is a gift from my parents, another wonderful "Vermont" find. It looks so, so pretty in this room - my library. :)

Tree candle

A beautiful window at dusk ... on these short, dark afternoons, little lights like these are so comforting. The tree candle is energized by a battery and it turns itself on at the same time each day. I think that's neat - when I see it on, I know it's "that time" of day.

Snowy lamppost

Our lamppost all covered with snow - a Narnia moment, don't you think?

Peace candle

Another candle - this one smells of peppermint and I've been burning it on the kitchen windowsill as I work towards supper. I find the smell of peppermint invigorating, and yet calming at the same time - it reminds me of Christmas treats, winter snow and my summer herb garden. (Because I love to grow mint!)

Heart ornament

And finally, this lovely ornament is new this year - I bought it as a gift but loved it so much I bought a second for our own tree. I think it's so pretty, and a perfect reminder for those days when I'm rushing about trying to make Christmas something more than it needs to be.


Well my friends, I wish you all a pleasant evening - or day if you're across the sea! Thank you so much for joining me here, and finding a little peace and joy alongside me. Take care of yourselves and your loved ones ... I'll be back again just as soon as I can!

Spring Nature, Spring Books

Happy Wednesday, my friends! I hope your week's going well. :)

Earth day library corner 1

I put the learning room back together today - meaning, I moved out the "table for four" from Easter Sunday, and returned the loveseat to its rightful place. (Mama's reading chair, too.) It felt good to sweep up, sort out, and then settle things back where they belong. :)

The library corner needed to be set up again, so I retired the "March" books and set out the April nature-related books. Our theme this month is "our marvelous earth."

The books you see above are as follows:

Little Farm by the Sea

Grow It, Cook It

Wildlife Gardening



Miss Rumphius

The Golden Guide to Endangered Animals

A Guide to Northeastern Butterflies

Respect the Earth Flashcards

Mother Earth's Children

The Nature Connection

First Nature Encylopedia

Whoever You Are

This Year's Garden

Wonders of Nature 

 Naturally Fun Parties for Kids (I just got this book the other day and Earlybird is enthralled! I can hardly get it back in "my" pile, lol.)


Now, yesterday we met up with some of our homeschooling friends and took our kids on an informal nature walk. ("Informal" in that, the parents walked and talked - the kids mostly ran ahead.) I provided a "scavenger" list of things for the kids to look for at this time of year, and I'd like to share it here with you all in case it might be something you can use. :)

Take a look around and see what you can find ... use all your senses to β€œSearch for Spring!”


signs of nest building


a spring flower

three shades of green

a fresh smell


tracks in mud

a new bird sound

an early spring insect

a fiddlehead (young fern)

a migrant bird

an amphibian or reptile


running, dripping or trickling water

a cold spot

a warm spot

something red

something yellow

something blue

something purple

something that has more than 3 colors


Have fun, and remember to be gentle with Nature!

I hope this list might inspire you and your kids to go outside and "search for spring." We had a lot of fun finding it for ourselves!

BR nature walk 2


Have a wonderful evening, my friends ... I will see you here again very soon!

Springing Forward!

Spring forward 2

Did you remember to turn your clocks ahead this morning?

We changed our clocks before we went to bed Saturday night - I don't like to attempt mental math before I've had at least one cup of coffee - and boy, did the morning come fast! (There was a whole lot of yawning at church, lol.)

So I thought I might take a few minutes today to list a few of my favorite Spring Things. I've so enjoyed reading about all of yours ... especially since we are all from so many different corners of the word. But it seems, wherever we're from, Spring is quite special to all of us. :)

Spring forward 1

Spring Things I Love:

Spotting the first blooming crocus. (See above.)

All the planning and preparing for Easter, especially working with my mum.

The hope and promise of a new garden: making plans, starting seeds, turning soil.

Hearing peepers in the woods at night.

The smell of Easter lillies.

The taste of white chocolate.

The change of light ~ the new brightness to the days that lasts into the evenings.

Seeing the first chipmunk appear after winter hibernation.

Hearing (and maybe seeing) a flock of red-winged blackbirds passing by.

Baking rhubarb crumble.

Watching the goldfinches go from beige to bright yellow.

Setting up the Spring book baskets.

Seeing new lambs at the farm.

Visiting a local sugarshack - bringing home a new supply of maple syrup.

Organizing holiday clothes: buying new things, laundering and ironing it all so everything's fresh and crisp for Easter Sunday.

Holy Thursday evening ~ attending the Mass of the Lord's Supper.

Watching The Ten Commandments as a family, one night before Easter.

Watching the boys search for eggs in the yard on Easter morning. The neighborhood is so quiet ... the sunrise is so soft and lovely.

The way the air smells these days ... like fresh dirt and green, growing things.

Looking for - and finding! - pussy willows down by the river.

The way the neighborhood comes alive on those first sunny, warm weekends.

Visiting the local nursery in mid-May ... coming home with some new things for the garden.

Spring Cleaning. (Honestly ~ I love it!)

Those few days in May (usually around Mother's Day) when the lilacs are at their peak. 

 Finding tiny violets and johnny-jump-ups in the lawn.

Our annual "Search for Spring" nature walk.

Celebrating Easter Sunday with our family.


Well, my friends ... I'm sure I could go on with my list, but I'll stop here for now. It was especially fun working on this list today - as it truly feels like the perfect Spring day. Sunny and mild-ish with just a bit of a cool edge to the air. The rest of the week looks to be absolutely amazing around here - sunny and up around 70! :)

So I'll be off now, but thank you so much for stopping by, and for all your kind and thoughtful comments. Have a great Sunday night ... and I will see you all again in the morning!


Happy Winter!


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

November is upon us ...


"November comes 
And November goes, 
With the last red berries 
And the first white snows.

With night coming early, 
And dawn coming late, 
And ice in the bucket 
And frost by the gate.

The fires burn 
And the kettles sing, 
And earth sinks to rest 
Until next spring."

~ Elizabeth Coatsworth

Just after 8 p.m. last night, as we sat down to watch It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, we noticed the cats staring out the back window, peering into the darkness with a look of absolutely enchanted curiosity. We flipped on the outside lights to see what was up, and lo and behold - it was snowing! 

I had just finished telling the boys about my favorite childhood Thanksgiving, when all the cousins went for a long walk after dinner and on our way back it started snowing. I've always held that memory dear - for the family togetherness as well as the perfectly timed first snow of the year. I do love a late autumn snow ...

But this is just crazy.

Snow in October? Snow before Halloween? We have a storm heading our way this weekend ... bringing with it anywhere from 1-3 to 3-6 inches, depending on its ultimate track ...


But let's focus on calmer, happier things, shall we? Let's embrace the season before us, and make ready for a new month to enjoy. I spent some time perusing my November notes recently, and I thought I'd share a few themes and plans for next month ... things that make November special for our family.


Give thanks to the birds ~ make them some homemade suet treats. Set them out on Thansgiving day morning.

On All Soul's Day (11/2), create a remembrance altar - tiny tealights (rosemary candles if I can find them/make them), marigold blossoms, framed pictures of departed loved ones.

Celebrate the Full Beaver Moon (11/10): walk to the river, look for dams or other evidence of beavers; watch this fun movie.

Collect woodland goodies so the kids can make "Thanksgiving Potpourri."

Field trip! Visit a local cranberry bog ~ make a fragrant relish for Turkey Day.

Look under logs ... visit a bog.

Go on a nest walk: look for squirrel dreys and all kinds of (now visible) nests.

Observe varieties of moss and lichens in the woods (and backyard). Sketch in journals ... make a tiny terrarium for the Nature Shelf.

Display our Thankgiving books.

Launder soft throw blankets and place them in a handy basket.

Make watercolor post cards using soft, autumnal colors - russet, amber, gray, olive - and write Thankgiving greetings to send to friends and family.

Look for the returning juncos, our little snowbirds that herald Winter's return. (We spotted one the other day - so I guess this snow should not be surprising!)

Push our clocks back (11/5) and make way for shorter, darker days. 

Read about animal homeshibernation, and how they survive the snow.

Take time to enjoy the sound of geese flying overhead.

Organize the pantry early in the month - make sure we have our holiday baking supplies in order.

Order mixed dried fruit for making fruitcakes.

Mix up mulling spices:

Mix: 2 cups dried orange peel, 2 cups broken cinnamon sticks, 1 cup whole allspice berries, 1 cup whole cloves, 4 broken star anise. Store in closed jar.

To use: Mix 1/4 cup spices per gallon cider, wine or apple juice. Simmer 30 minutes before serving.

(From China Bayles' Book of Days)

Clean, shop, cook for Thanksgiving. (That's oversimplifying things, but that's a whole 'nother post!)

Set up a knitting basket - start working on scarves for Christmas.

Hang our Gratitude Banner to work on all month.

Write out different autumnal and thankful words on small pieces of paper. Let EB make his own "November poetry." 

On Martinmas (11/11), gather donations for the Parish Food Drive. 

Work on Advent Calendar Project (ready to go 12/1).

A couple more "snow" pictures from this morning ...

It might be crazy ... but it sure looks beautiful!

And as I finish this post (10 a.m.) the snow is all gone. The sun is shining and a seasonable day is ahead. Snow or no, I hope you all have a nice Friday ... and a happy last few days of October.
Take care, keep safe, and be blessed ... 
I'll be back again soon!

August Blessings!

And a Very Happy August to You!

(Did you all remember to say "Rabbit, rabbit" this morning? I made sure my kids did, but alas, I did not think of it in time for myself. I think my first words were something like, "Bill, move over, I need to get up." Lol.)

Just for fun, here are some of the things I love most about August ...


corn on the cob

heirloom tomatoes

soft peaches

morning glories

big, beautiful dahlias

shooting stars

hazy days

lazy days

the whine of the cicada

the drone of the mower

beach mornings

bats at dusk


sea glass & seashells

zucchini bread

(lots and lots of zucchini bread!)

new school supplies


It's such a lovely time of year! I hope your August is all you hope for ... 

Daisies-mug ~ Dawn

Happy Summer!

"That beautiful season the Summer! 
Filled was the air with a dreamy and magical light; 
and the landscape 
Lay as if new created in all the freshness of childhood." 
~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


The Summer Solstice arrives at 1:16 p.m. today, the longest day of the year. But from here on out, every day gets just a little bit shorter, so let's enjoy the light while we can!

Have a great Tuesday, my friends!


Spring Signs and Weekly Plans

Yesterday I showed you the tiny crocus shoots we spied at the base of the big maple out front ... well, here's who I spotted under our feeders late Sunday afternoon:


Our first chipmunk of the year!

Chipmunks hibernate through the cold months, from (roundabouts) October through March. So at this time of year, when we spy a chipmunk in our yard, we just KNOW Winter is almost over. We also know the juncos will soon disappear - their time here is quite the opposite from that of the chipmunk's. In the Spring they fly north and in the Fall they return. This is why they are called "snowbirds." :)

In further "Signs of Spring" news, just look what Bill found in the shady northeast corner of our yard:


The absolutely beautiful snowdrop! These tiny flowers are my favorite of all the spring bulbs - perhaps because they're so very "British." :)

Speaking of snow, it's just about gone now, save for a few stubborn drifts. And oh, how the birds are singing these days! It's amazing how primal it is, the reaction we have to the subtle changes in season. I hardly know birdsong at all (i.e. who sounds like what), but I KNOW what I'm hearing now is distinctly, and instinctively SPRING.


Well, this is a busy week for a faith-living, nature-loving, home-learning family! We have feast days (St. Patrick, St. Joseph), random events (National Pi Day, Ides of March) and even natural phenomena (Full Sap Moon, The Spring Equinox) coming up! 

I'm keeping things simple this year, so in case I don't have a lot of crafts to share this week, I thought I'd link some older posts describing the various ways we've celebrated these special days in the past.

The Loveliness of St. Patrick's Day

Irish Brown Bread with EB and Me!

Top o' the Morning to You!

Food and Fun for Today and Tomorrow

Donuts and Crafts for St. Joseph

Poetry Friday: The March Sap Moon


As for our tentative plans this week ...

Tonight we'll be making (and eating) pies for National Pi Day - pizza pies for supper and a custard pie for dessert.


I'll be serving "Caesar salad" wraps tomorrow, the Ides of March. (As well as little baked mozzarella bites the boys can eat with "sword" toothpicks.)


I'm baking raisin-studded Irish Soda Muffins on Thursday to enjoy while reading favorite St. Patty's Day books, and I'll make a very simple shamrock craft with EB. Supper will be Irish-inspired ~ and we'll make "shamrock shakes" for dessert.


On Saturday morning we'll bake donuts for St. Joseph's Day and for supper I'm making "sloppy joes." At night we'll watch for the Full Sap Moon, and - no matter how cold it is! - we'll crack our windows to listen for peepers in the woods.


On Sunday, the long-awaited First Day of Spring, we'll take a nature walk after we get home from Mass. The boys will each receive a new nature journal and a tin of fresh colored pencils, and if the weather's nice, we'll spend our afternoon working in the yard. For dinner we'll enjoy "pasta primavera," and at 7:21 p.m. (the exact moment of the equinox) we'll have a ginger ale toast to the new season. :)


Wow, so this was going to be a very short post, but I ended up having a whole lot to say! I'm off for now - I hear signs of life from the other end of the house - but I hope you have a nice Monday. It's the last week of Winter, my friends - that is certainly something to smile about this morning. 


A Wednesday Workaday Post


I worked in my planner/binder and my file crate today and since it was bright and sunny I took a few pictures. :)

I'm feeling a little giddy about my new planner these days. It's really working well for me and it's starting to feel comfortable and familiar. Like I said in an earlier post, I did give up on the daily index cards but other than that, it's all making sense. I like having the weekly section open on my work counter, and the month @ a glance calendar doesn't feel too hidden in the front portion of the binder. 

One thing I did do was to take the things I kept on my clipboard - my "action" items if you will - and add them to the inside of the front binder cover. I simply clipped the sheets (emails and whatnot) along with my master to-do-list onto the inside cover with a large binder clip as seen above.


It's one less item to have to keep handy - and though I do love a clipboard, I kept forgetting where I put it or I'd forget to look at it and some important deadlines would pass me by. As you can see in the picture above, these "to-do's" are quite visible with my planner open on the counter. And in sight = in mind ... in theory anyway, lol!

(As a quick aside ~ these "action items" are things I need to do something about in a timely fashion. Things like classes or field trips to sign up for, forms to fill out and return, an email to respond to - things like that.)

So then, it being just about mid-February, I decided to make up some planning pages for March and April (like the ones I made up for January and February as described in this post). I would like to do a craft store run this weekend (weekly coupons in hand!) and pick up some things for March events and Lenten activities.


The underside of the paper shown above holds brainstorming notes for the "early spring" season. Then there's a breakdown of March and April events (shown directly above) and next a planning page for celebrating the bigger events (i.e. Ash Wednesday, St. Patrick's Day, the Spring Equinox, etc.). The season of Lent already has its own (purple!) planning page - I started it last month. Easter Sunday itself has its own separate planning page as well.

Now, I'm sure you all know about this thing (especially avid binder-users), but I figured I'd show it anyway ...


This is my trusty three-hole punch "thingamabob" that makes it so easy to add things to my binder in a flash. I've had this for years ... and I still store it up on the very top of my very tall learning room bookcase. I'm paranoid about little fingers getting pinched in this thing - it's quite powerful!

And this is my weekly planning page for next week (yet to be filled out).


Eventually I would like to design and print sheets already marked with the planning sections for which I now use post it notes. I'm giving myself a month or two to fine tune just how I plan the week before I commit to a final page design.

Right now I use the apple post-it as a place to write what is "of note" this week (events, holidays, etc.) and I place it in such a way that it sticks out over the edge of the page, marking the week at hand (for when the planner is closed).

I use the other post-it notes for listing:

1. the week's dinners  

2. to-do's pertinent to this week

3. Earlybird's life & learning goals

4. shopping needs/errands

In other words, the things I need to plan in a given week.

Oh, and one last thing ...


I added some wide hanging file folders to the back of my file crate. I've been meaning to do this forever!

I have them assigned to ...

* The boys' medical information and school contact information (approval letters etc.)

* Recipe clippings (eventually to be purged, with keepers filed in a recipe binder)

* General education information (driver's ed, college info, etc.)

* Places to go and visit (local daytrips, nature walks, etc.)

* Disney vacation info.

*EB's special needs information and files.


So it all felt very productive. And it was ... it was a good day. It was so bright and sunny - it felt so good to see the house filled with light. I hope you all had a nice Wednesday as well. How is your own current planner working for you? Are you happy with it? And if you use it, how about the file crate? Is it still relevant in your household management? 

Well, have a good night, my friends, and thanks so much for stopping by!

I'll see you all again very soon ...


Question of the Day:

What say you, Phil?

Check the link at 7:25 a.m. for the answer to the annual query:

Will we have an early spring?

Or six more weeks of winter?

Please take pity on us, Phil ~ we truly NEED an early spring this year!


(This isn't Phil - he's a groundhog or, woodchuck as we call them - that visited our yard a few springs ago. Isn't it nice to see all that clover?)

7:30 a.m. ETA ~ Phil did NOT see his shadow, so this means we'll have an EARLY SPRING!

Looking outside my window this morning, at the snow falling steadily - pretty as it is - I would love to believe this prediction will come true. An early spring would be a most welcome reprieve after the grueling winter conditions we've been having.

Case in point - we're expecting several more inches of heavy snow today before it turns to sleet and ice. Fingers crossed, prayers said, we don't lose power or trees!

Have a great Wednesday, everyone - keep safe and warm!


Happy February!


Rabbit, rabbit everyone!

Ok, so February can be a tough month to love. It's cold and snowy. Or it's cold and icy. Or it's cold and sleety. With a side helping of slush.

But there are nice things to say about this month, too ...

When I think of February, I think of snow, greenhouse flowers, bakeries, cherries, hearts, Chinese dragons ... seed catalogs, ice skating, snowmen and chocolate.

Those are all some pretty nice things!

Plus it's a short month - only four weeks to go, and we jump right into March, the first month of Spring ... 

Our February learning themes will be: "Families," "Florida," "The Middle Ages," and "Measurements." And as you can see, I've been putting a "seasonal spin" on the learning room decor. (I've also added some new sidebars here at the blog, and I may change the floral banner. I'm thinking of primroses or violets ...)

So here's ...

February @ a Glance:

St. Brigid's Day

Candlemas/Groundhog's Day

Chinese New Year

Focus on the Feeders

The Superbowl

Lincoln's Birthday

St. Valentine's Day

Full Snow Moon

The Great Backyard Bird Count

President's Day

Washington's Birthday


February is ...

National Heart Month

National Birdfeeding Month

Devoted to The Holy Family


Well, I'm enjoying my coffee this morning (with a bit of that tartlet) and watching the feeder frenzy outside my window. I think the critters know we're expecting quite a storm between today and tomorrow. Before the snow picks up, we'll fill the feeders as best we can. Bill is working from home the next few days, which is a great convenience and a huge relief. 

Later today we'll have an "Irish" snack in honor of St. Brigid, and I'm making a shepherd(ess) pie for our supper. Tomorrow brings us Candlemas and the annual Groundhog report (which I plan to take with a grain of salt, lol). I've got a candle craft in mind, and it will be a good day to kick off our light/shadow/color study.

Well, I hope your February starts out on a good foot - just watch where you're stepping, it's bound to be slippery out there!

Have a great Tuesday, everyone ... see you again very soon!


An Ode to October ...

Dear October, how I love you ...

"There is no season when such pleasant and sunny spots may be lighted on, and produce so pleasant an effect on the feelings, as now in October." ~ Nathaniel Hawthorne


Brilliant leaves in the trees, on the ground, whirling in the air ...

At the orchard we pick the last of autumn's apples ~ for sauce, for pie, for just plain good eating.

Squirrels scamper and chipmunks scurry - preparing for hard times ahead. We watch and an ancient instinct kicks in ...


There's a distinctive crunch underfoot; weekends are spent raking (and jumping in) the leaves. Tiny bulbs are planted in fertile hope of a distant spring.


Lazy days are over - it's all bustle and busy-ness now. Our thoughts turn from sandcastles to schedules.

The mornings are much colder ~ a sweater is a must before the sun rises and warms the air.

And sometime overnight, Old Frost left his kiss on the last blooms of fall ...


We return from a walk in the earthy damp woods, our pockets full of acorns and other fall treasures. We relish time spent outside before winter shuts us in.

But more often, the kitchen is the place to be these days ~ warm, bright and smelling so good. A hearty supper lures us inside before dark ...

Pumpkins are plentiful in the field and at the farmstand ~ which one should we pick? 


"October is nature's funeral month. Nature glories in death more than in life. The month of departure is more beautiful than the month of coming - October than May. Every green thing loves to die in bright colors." ~ Henry Ward Beecher  


Standing in the bleachers, watching the big game, clutching a cup of hot cider to warm us inside and out.

Distant honking draws our eyes to the skies ... a familiar V passes overhead and pulls at our heartstrings.

The landscape is ablaze with color - from orange to yellow to red. 


We make journeys big and small ~ a leaf peeping tour through the country, a canoe trip down a quiet river, a hay ride through the farm.

We visit the Country Fair and come home sticky and tired and grinning ear to ear - remembering giant pumpkins, ferris wheel rides and prize-winning hens. 


At home we dig out candles, and craft baskets and change cotton for wool.

Our thoughts turn to the holidays ... and making plans for guests, goodies, and gifts.

We create cozy corners to invite readers and nappers alike. Our need to nest these days is strong ... 


October's blessings are many ... as rich and varied as the palette itself.


How lucky we are it returns every year. 

Happy Autumn to all of my readers ... I hope your October is off to a great start!

Nature Study Club ~ September 2010

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?

 Other observations?


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. :)

Happy Summer!


(And a happy hummer!) 

The Solstice arrived at 7:28 this morning ... though it's felt like summer for weeks now, it is now officially a brand new season!

I'm sorry to have been missing these past two weeks - we've been quite busy trying to catch back up after all that "time off." Our academic year has not quite come to a close ... but we're getting there. ;)

I'll post again soon - hope your week is off to a good start!