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Happy, Happy February!

Snowdrops vintage artwork

And Happy Monday, everyone!

Well, it's quite a day here in New England - we're waking to another snowy morning (a foot or so expected by dark) and another Superbowl win for my beloved Patriots!! So as you might guess, we're just a WEE bit excited around here! :)

I'm so enjoying the magazine comments in my last post - I'll be in there shortly to catch up - but I'm running on fumes this morning after three late nights in a row (we had a night owl baby on Friday and a college reunion dinner on Saturday) so I'm behind on EVERYTHING. Feeling grateful for well, first of all - coffee! but also - my lists and my habit of planning ahead. It's keeping me a little bit focused as I gather my wits this morning.

Also, it's is Candlemas and Groundhog's Day - and as I understand it, Punxatawny Phil saw his shadow so we're in for six more weeks of winter. (Like we couldn't have guessed that, lol! I'm surprised he was able to dig his way out of his den!) And on Candlemas I like to have a new supply of tea lights blessed at church ... unfortunately I won't be getting out the driveway in time for morning Mass! I bought these wonderful beeswax tea lights that I plan to use in a seasonal/liturgical way this year ... I might stick them in my purse and see if Father can bless them next Sunday. :)

Candlemas 2

Also, February 1st is the Feast of St. Brigid, patroness of Ireland and dairy farmers. We'll be reading the wonderful Brigid's Cloak at some point today, Irish tea, and there may be "shepherdess pie" for dinner. :)

Ok, I'd best be off as the house wakes up around me ... off to grab another cuppa and finish my marmalade toast! I hope you all have a great day, and once again before I go, I must say ...

O in pats hat



A Slow, Snowy Sunday

Snowy sunday morning

Well, after that very brief taste of Spring, we're back in the clutches of old man Winter once again ... it's another snowy Sunday here in New England! I hope you're all having a nice weekend ...

It will be a quiet, homey day for us ... I'm doing my "mid-year review" of our curriculum and some lesson planning for the rest of the winter quarter (with an eye towards spring). I do this every year, looking back at the ed. plans I submitted for each child and then seeing where we're at/how things are going. I make adjustments and then plan out lessons and activities for the next several weeks. We tend to get off-track around the holidays so it's a good idea for me to take stock about now. The process always starts out a bit sobering, but usually I feel pretty energized by the time I'm done.

But speaking of feeling "energized" ... we're also anticipating a very BIG GAME here later today! GO PATS!!! Whatever the outcome, this should be an epic re-match between Brady and Manning, two amazing quarterbacks in the prime of their careers. And since a snowy "Patriots Sunday" always calls for a hearty supper, I'm making a rich beef stew, to be served over potatoes, and shhhh don't tell the boys but I'm also making some "Patriots" cupcakes for dessert.


So, just popping in to say hi and share that snowy picture with you all ... I'm sure I need not remind you all that Downton is on tonight ... followed by the much anticipated return of the simply amazing Sherlock! I am going to try very hard to stay awake for DA but I can pretty much guarantee I'll be catching Sherlock tomorrow online ...

Either way I'll have a chat post up tomorrow morning so we can all share our thoughts on the latest Downton developments!

Enjoy the rest of your Sunday, my friends ... see you here again very soon!

Late Sunday Post

Good evening, my friends! I hope you've all had a nice weekend. I have just a few things to chat about before the day gets away from me ... and before I retire to the couch to savor this week's installment of Downton. :)

First of all, heartfelt thanks for the Archie well-wishes and prayers! He's seems to be doing OK - still sneezing like crazy, and he loathes the whole medicating process, but that was to be expected, of course.


(He certainly felt well enough to "help" EB and me with this puzzle!)


Now, as for tomorrow, did you know it's Chinese New Year?


We always enjoy celebrating this holiday in some small way. This year I purchased these cute notepads and pencils for EB and I'll find some fun printables online. We'll have to watch the Little Einsteins "Dragon Kite" episode - yes, he still loves Little Einsteins! - and we'll also look at some books about China's geography (particularly mountain ranges and rivers). EB is all about geography this year - so as with any interests he assumes - we run with it!

Also, I bought chopsticks and we plan to try them out on some Chinese take-out Bill will bring home. And did you know it's the Year of the Dragon? My boys were pretty excited to hear this, because they're just fascinated with dragons. (It would be neat to do a little unit study on dragons as seen by different cultures. Wouldn't that be a fun late winter project?)

Tomorrow also happens to be National Handwriting Day and there are plenty of fun things you could do with that ... I can't think of any at the moment, but I'm sure there are plenty!

Actually, I do plan to hand-write a note someone tomorrow ... I even bought some pretty new note cards today just for this particular endeavor. I happen to love handwriting things, as opposed to typing things. I don't text, I'm not on any social networks, and while I do email I'm slow at it ... blogging is the most "tech-y" thing I do! I can't help it, but I just like paper and pen for my writing and paper and ink for my reading. ;) And I will admit, I obsess over my handwriting a little. I generally write very small and as neatly as possible when writing things in my planner, or writing out checks, addressing things, etc. - but if you were to spy my hastily scribbled notes and journal entries - oy!


And here's my Oliver who fell asleep on my Daybook. I was cringing to think he might be smudging or crimping the pages, but I didn't have the heart to move him ...


Mostly because he's just so cute, but also, he's not feeling so hot.

Alas, Ollie started sneezing last night - woke me up around midnight with a round of hearty a-choos - so it appears he's caught Archie's cold. I put a call in to our (wonderful) vet who rang me back (on a Sunday no less!) and advised us to start Ollie on meds too.

My poor little fellas!


Now, speaking of the Daybook (which I was just before, albeit briefly) I've been asked to explain how the it fits in with the file crate system as well as my month @ a glance calendar. So I'll be working up some planning posts later this week. As you all know (because I can't stop mentioning it) I'm getting my new desk on Tuesday!

And one of the things that I already love about my desk is that it has not one, but TWO, file folder drawers! So one drawer will hold my FCS and the other will be used for household files and recipes (and such). 

In preparation, I splurged on some new hanging folders today:


Luckily, I had Crackerjack with me who kept me in check as I passed the Martha Stewart aisle. As much as I'd love to splurge on new office products for my "new home office" I really need to be patient and get things all set up first. Then I can assess what I have and what I (truly) need ... 

Only then will I return to Staples, lol. 


OK, one more thing - because just as I am about to press that publish button comes the news that THE PATRIOTS ARE GOING TO THE SUPERBOWL!!!

Oh my goodness, such happy news! From what I saw (from behind my laptop and through my fingers) the Ravens played a very good game. They were certainly very tough contenders! Thankfully though, the Pats were able to hang on, and for the first time in four years we're going to the Superbowl!


^That's me with my party hat on.^


Allrighty then ... time to downshift and get ready for Downton. I know Bill's going to want to watch the 6:00 NFL game (which will determine who we'll be up against on February 5th) but I'm not about to miss a minute of my Downton! (Honestly, what did we ever do before Tivo?)

So I'll have a "morning after" post up as early as I can in the morning ... I'll be eager to share reactions on tonight's show!


Have a great night my friends, and thanks so much for stopping by. See you all again very soon.


So it's all over ... my beloved Pats lost to the Jets tonight.


No more football for me until August - the season officially ends when the Pats games do, lol - by which time I will be ready for some football again. I offer sincere congrats to Jets fans ~ your team played well and won handedly ~ but for now I have only one thing to say ...

Opening Day is only three months away! 


Have a great night, my friends ... I will see you all again very soon!

Sunday Stuff

First, and most importantly, GO PATS!!

Ok, now that I've gotten that off my chest (*wink*), here are a few pictures from my sunny, snowy Sunday. Just a hodgepodge of things from my day, today. :)

When we got back from church, Earlybird alerted us to something "funny" going on on the deck. At first glance, nothing seemed amiss - the snow was piled high, the morning sun was casting shadows across the wide expanse of white ...

And then we saw a little fluffy gray puff in the middle of the snow ...


... and then a bit more ...




The squirrel had dug himself a very deep burrow - getting down to the seed thrown out a week ago or more. He'd dive down and practically disappear, then pop back up again (covered in snow - he was quite a sight) to nibble on his treasure.


Such a clever fella. ;)

Later on, around lunchtime, I arranged some bright orange carnations in a quickly embellished jam jar:


(I just glued an ecru lace flower to the front of the jar.)

Did you know that the carnation is the official flower for January, and National Carnation Day falls on the 29th of this month? It would be fun to do this carnation experiment (more details here) during the last week of January. Start it on the Monday (maybe give each child a separate flower and cup with his own shade of dye) and by Saturday (the 29th) your flowers should be deeply tinted. If your children keep nature notebooks, they could draw sketches (or take photos) and keep notes on the project.

Carnations are my favorite cut flower ~ I especially love their sweet spicy scent ~ and by the way, carnations mean fascination, love and good luck. Not bad for such a humble little flower!

After the flower arranging (that sounds so Victorian, doesn't it?) I sat down for a delicious cup of decaffeinated vanilla tea (my new absolute favorite) and some not-quite-so-delicious yogurt:


Lol, I've never had Icelandic style yogurt before, but the orange & ginger flavor sounded so intriguing I forewent my usual Stonyfield and bought a few cups of this. It was not as sweet as I like, and the texture was much thicker than I was used to ... still, with some honey stirred in and a bit of whipping, it made a nice snack in the end.

By the way, I purchase Harney & Sons teas at the Barnes & Noble cafe, though you can find them online too. I really want to try this Valentine's blend next month - made with chocolate and rosebuds!

And just look how our amaryllis is doing:


We started the bulb last month, and to be honest I had no idea if anything would come of it. I was pretty sure I planted it all wrong ~ in an ill-fitting container, with barely enough soil. But the plant thrived in our front (south-facing) window, and just today we were rewarded with this bold bloom:


And lastly, while Bill was cleaning out the linen closet today he found this:


I haven't seen this figurine in years ~ it used to be on the bathroom vanity, but as our children moved into their (active and curious) toddler years, it proved to be too much of a temptation. It must have somehow been placed in the closet and promptly forgotten ... but isn't it lovely? It was a gift from my mum at my first baby shower (for Bookworm), oh so many years ago. I think it's safe to move back out now. :)

(As for what possessed my husband to take on such a project today I have no idea, but when voluntary cleaning's involved, I ask no questions).

Before I go, here's a glimpse of just how icy it is here:


This is the birdfeeder that hangs outside one of the family room windows. It faces west so it doesn't get a lot of sunlight through the day. Needless to say, the ice has been well preserved!

So there are a few snapshots from my day. It's been a cold and bright Sunday ... a good day for puttering inside. My "puttering" included arranging the flowers and decorating the "vase," clipping Sunday coupons, and baking an artichoke dip for Bill to take to my folks' (where he and Bookworm will be watching the big game). I also put the final touches on my brand new "home+faith+seasons" binder and added a few new hanging folders to the file crate. (I've already started posts on both those projects, so look for details sometime this week.)

Well, I hope you all are having a lovely long weekend. If you're not a New York fan, please say a prayer for my beloved Pats ~ that they play their best and have a great game!

And if you are a New York fan, well ...

"May the best team win!" ;)

See you all again very soon ...

Soccer Surprise

Crackerjack had his first soccer game of the season yesterday, and the good news is A. he had fun and B. his team won, but the highlight of the morning was the sighting of an enormous raptor at the game! Not only did it land smack dab on the concession stand in the midst of it all, but it politely posed for the cameras for a good half hour or so. It was so funny - there we were, sitting on the sidelines, keeping an eye on CJ (who was playing defense at the time) when I noticed him elbow his co-defender and point to something in the distance, just behind where we were sitting. Then I heard him exclaim (bear in mind the game was stalled at the other end of the field at this moment) ...

"Look at that HUGE bird!"




We're not sure what kind of hawk this is (and we're assuming it's a hawk, not a falcon or eagle, but we could be wrong), but it was easily the biggest we've ever seen. We looked it up in our favorite bird book and the closest we found was a red-shouldered hawk (not that his shoulders look all that red, actually). What do you all think?

And oh yes, I should show you a picture of Crackerjack in action:


And hey, while I'm thinking of it, did anyone notice the slight change to my blog template? Radical, I know, lol - but I am thinking of toying with it a bit more. It's only been like three years since I've changed anything about my design, lol!

So keep a sharp eye out for more changes around here - starting with some new sidebar book-lists later today!

Happy Sunday, everyone!

Crackerjack Moves Up!


Well, I hope you're all enjoying a wonderful Father's Day weekend! I had to pop in to show you this picture I took of our Crackerjack today. He and I just got back in from the soccer field (the cold, damp soccer field, mind you) where he played in his "moving up" game and received his trophy for the year. Because CJ turns 9 this August he will be moving up into the U-10 league in the fall. This means all boys on his team, a bigger playing field and a longer time playing on the field. They had a trial game today, and CJ loved every minute of it!

Our Father's Day has been very nice ... though it started very early ... Earlybird got Bill up at just before *four* a.m. Groan. I took over at 5:30 and let Bill sleep in till 9 (it was Father's Day, after all). Then we headed over to have brunch with my folks, my brother, my uncle and my cousin Caitlin, who was visiting from New York. CJ and I had to scoot out early to get to his game, but now we're home at last, and I'm almost warm again. (This cup of orange spice tea should help do the trick.) The boys are puttering (read: playing Wii) and Bill is napping ... storing up his energy for tonight's BIG game, no doubt. I'm planning to grill teriyaki-lime chicken for supper (on the Foreman) and I have a cold sesame noodle dish to serve alongside (Bill's favorite). I'd like to think I'm going to be able to stay up to watch the Celtics beat the pants off do their best against the Lakers tonight, but that's a mighty big IF.

So I'm off to get things put to rights around here and get that chicken marinating! Before I go, here is one of my favorite quotes, one I can't help but think of on Father's Day ...

"Nothing is so strong as gentleness, nothing so gentle as real strength." ~ St. Francis de Sales

Have a lovely Sunday evening my friends, and I'll see you all again sometime soon ...

Facts in Five

~ FIVE neat little things for today ~

1. My Earlybird slept from 8 p.m. last night until 5:30 a.m. today; that's 9 1/2 hours, people! That was the most normal night's sleep he's ever had in his life. (And, more significantly, that I've had in 6 1/2 years!) What a clever boy; he's been showered with attention this morning and is he ever chipper and chatty. Some of you reading know just how early a riser my EB can be (i.e. 4 is the norm). I think - hope, pray - this new schedule (no naps/time change), has finally worked a little bedtime magic. I could get used to this well-rested feeling ...

2. My blog turned 2 last week! I was thinking that today was the day, but actually it was March 22nd. I posted 3 times the first day, and 7 times the next, lol! I am stunned to think I've had something to say almost every day in those two years. (I think I've missed maybe 5.) I am really very grateful for this blog - especially for the folks I've come to know through it - it's been the most rewarding hobby, I must say. Here's how we celebrated ONE last year ...

3.  SouleMama's book (The Creative Family) is coming out in 6 days! You are probably familiar with her beautiful, crafty, cozy blog (the kind of blog I hope mine grows up to be, lol), but if not, please hop over and check it out. There's a link to her book in the lefthand sidebar; check that out too. I've had it in my Amazon cart ever since she first mentioned it sometime last year, and now shipping's just a few days away! I am downright giddy. :)

4. What we're watching/listening to right now ~ Here Come the 1,2,3's! from They Might Be Giants. Earlybird found this in his Easter basket, and it's a big hit, as I knew it would be. (He's loved the ABC version for a couple of years now.) Very catchy, perky songs - very parent- and older sibling- friendly. And the bonus is, the set includes a DVD to watch, and a CD for the car. EB, as some of you know, has a sensitivity to singing (in that, he yells, "NO SING, MAMA!" if I do so much as hum) so figuring out ways to get a little music into his life is a constant goal.

5. And finally: the Red Sox won the season opener 6-5 in 10 innings! Hooray for spring!

Well, I must be off - the waffles have popped, and the coffeemaker just sounded "last call." I hope you all have a wonderful Wednesday!

It's Opening Day (sort of)!

And as I type, at 7:52 a.m., the Red Sox are playing the Oakland A's - in Japan! I'm not sureCap_2 if this counts, officially, as Opening Day, since it's not being played here in Boston. A quick check of my friend Lisa's blog (and her handy widget) tells me we still have 13 more days to go till the Home Opener.

Still, BoSox baseball is being played again - somewhere! Definitely a day to sport our team attire and maybe listen to this CD while we're out and about. I picked these up recently, but considering how much candy the boys have consumed over the past few days, I think I will hold onto them for April 8th; the Easter baskets should be well emptied by then. ;)

So, thinking ahead to (Home) Opening Day, I can't help myself but plan a little baseball-themed lunch. Here's a possible menu:

And, note to self ~ a few titles to request for our April bookshelf:

All right then ~ time to get this day started! (We're up 3-2!)

Have a good Tuesday, everyone. :)

The Agony of Defeat

Or make that, the feet ...


*Photo credit to a very sleepy Bookworm. :)

Sincere congratulations to my dear friend from Long Island, Mary Ellen! I wish the shoes socks were on the other foot feet but that's how it goes sometimes. :)

And as for my house ... well, we will always love our Pats! They've made us so proud and happy these past several months. What a wonderful season, and a wonderful team ~ we look forward to next August when it all starts again!

But for now ... well, how 'bout them SOX? ;)

Game On!

So, a dear friend of mine from Long Island recently made a little proposal to Helmet_2this Massachusetts gal. :)

You see, Mary Ellen and I have much to agree on, we share much in common. If we lived closer I am sure we would be inseparable. And yet, there's one insurmountable small problem ...

And that would be sports.

Because coming from New York and New England, respectively, Mary Ellen and I by nature must agree to disagree.

But, we can have a little fun while we're at it!

You see, a few days ago, right after the (ahem), undefeated New England Patriots won the AFC championship, assuring a trip to the Superbowl for the fourth time in seven years, I got an interesting note from my NY Giants-fan friend ...

Mary Ellen was kindly offering her sincere congratulations (as only one so lovely and thoughtful would do), but she also made an interesting suggestion: a proposed little wager between friends. Something to do with The Superbowl and a couple of pairs of socks ...


Well, I was. And of course, I readily agreed. (In the spirit of friendship and friendly competition.)

Mary Ellen has all the details of our agreement today at her blog ~ complete with pictures! Stop on over and check it out!

And in the meantime, won't you join us in voting for one team or the other? If you're a PATS fan, (as I'm sure you must be) leave a comment here ... and if you're a Giants fan, well, if you must, click over to Mary Ellen's and leave a comment at The Bonny Blue House.

But come February 3rd, we'll just see which team is hoisting the trophy ~ and which one of us is left wearing the socks!

Go PATS! :)

CD of the Month: Play Ball!

So we're going to game seven! And it's all about baseball (Go Sox!), football (Go Pats!) and soccer (Go Crackerjack!) around here today. :)Playball

Speaking of sports (which I rarely do, but in October one can barely escape it) I've been wanting to mention our favorite CD of the moment: Play Ball! (pictured at right). This is a fabulous recording of baseball themed-music and skits, done by the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra. We first heard a portion of this (possibly the best portion, Casey at the Bat, read by the awesome James Earl Jones) during Kids Hour on WCRB. The boys were in downright hysterics ("Fraud!" cried the maddened thousands, and echo answered "Fraud!" But one scornful look from Casey and the audience was awed ...) and begged me to find a copy at the library. None to be found there, so I turned to the internet and found a used copy online.

It was worth every penny - a terrific slice of Americana! Some of the selections include: Who's on First (Abbot and Costello), The Star Spangled Banner, Take Me out to The Ballgame, Centerfield and themes from Damn Yankees, Field of Dreams and The Natural.

Of course the question of the day is, will there be joy in Mudville Red Sox Nation tonight? We'll just have to wait and see ... :)

It's All Good ..

1. The Red Sox are going to the ALCS!

2. The Patriots are 5-0! Dallas here we come!

3. The juncos have returned for the winter - we spotted a pair under the feeders Sunday morning! These little snowbirds are almost always closely followed by Jack Frost himself. (What great story material.) Here's a neat little online bird quiz I found this morning.

4. Barnes & Noble's Educator Appreciation Week begins this Saturday. Let the Christmas shopping begin!

5. Susan Branch is going to be signing books in Plymouth, Massachusetts on the Saturday before Thanksgiving and I am so there!!

So, what's got you smiling this morning? :)

News from the Homefront

Living Arts

The boys are having a new friend over to play this afternoon, a little boy we met at VBS. As you can imagine, they are quite excited. So excited they won't mind picking up their room this morning, I hope? ;) We're going to run to the grocery store early to pick up a few things to serve for a snack, then we'll run back home to spiff things up around here.* It's Tuesday so, in housekeeping terms, it's Bathroom and Laundries day. The trick is fitting those weekly chores in around the many daily to-do's. Throw in a playdate and I get all off-track!

*Breaking news: I determined we have enough food on hand to make up some nice refreshments to serve our guests. Saved: time and money! :)


Did you see the moon last night? The Full Green Corn Moon rose in the eastern sky just about 8:30 last night. We first glimpsed it through the bedroom blinds as I read The Chamber of Secrets aloud to the boys. Once we realized the brilliant white light was actually the moon (and not, say, a helicopter - or a dragon, lol), we dashed outside (braving mosquitos and bat wings) to get a better look. Here's what we saw:


Food Pages

These last days of summer, Bill makes almost a nightly stop at the farmstand on his way home from work. Everything is just so good! The other day I found a nice recipe for spoon bread in Parenting magazine, one that bakes in little one-cup ramekins. I think I'll make these for supper tonight, along with some meatloaf muffins and steamed zucchini.

Here's the recipe:

  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 3/4 cup cooked corn, cut from cob
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Coat 4 one-cup ramekins with vegetable cooking spray. In a medium saucepan, bring 1 cup water to a boil. Slowly whisk in cornmeal, stirring well, and cook one minute. Remove from heat and stir in corn, butter, sugar and salt.

In a small bowl, whisk together buttermilk and eggs. Pour buttermilk mixture into cornmeal mixture and whisk for 1 minute. Divide batter among ramekins and bake 25 to 30 minutes, until bread is golden brown and knife inserted into center comes out clean. Makes 4 servings.


Bill has a big shindig coming up for work next month, a cocktail party in town. The good news is he is allowed to bring a guest (and guess whom he asked?), but the bad news is (or was or seemed to be) I had nothing to wear! And then I remembered a dress I wore many years ago to a friend's wedding - navy blue, with just a touch of glimmer:


It has literally sat in my closet since then, but I pulled it out last night and not only does it still look good (albeit wrinkled), but it fit! It's off to the cleaners today. I love it when you can make do with something you have, don't you? Not that I don't enjoy buying a new dress now and again, but honestly? I'd rather buy books. ;)


And finally, the Red Sox play the Yankees tonight in the first of a three-game series. A snoozer according to some, due to the Sox's, ahem, 8-game lead, but any game between these two teams is worth watching if only for the potential theatrics. Now you all know I love the Sox, but I know I have New York friends reading this blog, so I'm not going to say much else about this developing story.

7:05 game time. :)

Well, that's all the "news" for now ... hope your day is a good one!