Tea and Crafts Feed

Tea with Friends ... ❤

Good Sunday morning, my friends! And a Happy Advent to you!

Today I have a few "tea and nest" notes to share, beginning with a link to a post written by my dear friend Martha, about her lovingly restored "thinking chair":

Cozy corner martha 1

Wouldn't this be a nice spot in which to curl up and dream? :)

By the way, Martha and I worked together eons ago at my very first post-college job, on the "features desk" at a Boston-area newspaper. Martha was, in fact, my editor! And oh my gosh, did we have fun ... "The TAB" is where I first tested my fledgling writing skills on the subjects of food, holidays, home, gardens and kids - before I even had kids! Martha, and our first editor, Celia, were so good to me, allowing a very "green" journalist to try her hand at a new passion. But those were good times - I learned a lot! - and I remember them fondly. Today Martha owns PulpArt, a fantastic Etsy shop where she sells plantable paper crafts - gift tags, ornaments, party favors, and cards, etc. All handmade by Martha, using ancient paper-making techniques - pop on over and take a peek!


Now here is a wonderful Thanksgiving Tea shared by Denise ...

Thanks tea denise 1


Thank you for inviting us all to Tea Time! I don't have the opportunity to have daily tea with my grands any longer. So, tea time is a bit different now-a-days. I don't have tea every day either (well, in autumn/winter/spring I normally have something hot to start the day!) During this time of starting the Holy Day season, I love that we start with giving of thanks! Thanks to the One who is Creator & Sustainer of all! And oh, the naming! So many things to be named, so many things/people to be grateful for, just leads me into worship of the One who provides the good gifts! Which helps prepare my heart for the Holy Day of Christ-mass!

It is an overcast, windy day. I heard it will be snowing in a couple of days. Much to be done! Moving hay, fixing the well-house (heat lamp or heater?), stacking wood by the woodstove. All of that will have to wait until this afternoon, as I am finishing up in the home office this morning. I had a few tasks for a client and our own to tend to. After I finish this post, I will be heading out of doors!

I normally have several tea varieties. Today I had a cup of orange-spice. I haven't had time to bake, although if I wanted, I have some oatmeal cookie dough ready to pop in the oven. It is time to replenish my dough stash! I like to have several on hand for when I have the pleasure of having the Grands or company!

I just finished reading a novel, light reading. I will be doing reading for Advent & Christmas next. Ann Voskamp's The Greatest Gift AND Unwrapping the Greatest Gift. I am looking forward to receiving a blessing through them!!

Listening to:
During this season, I tend to revisit some old hymns Come Thou Fount, Come Ye Sinners, Be Thou My Vision. I've been enjoying these as recorded by Fernando Ortega. So rich.

Working on:
We are in the "work the plan" phase of Thanksgiving! We started by enjoying our daughter's family last night. Family supper & card games. Oh, and a new made-up game by my grandtwin girl (10yo)! Such fun! I popped back and forth through the grands! Granddaughter/13 was busy making accessories for a Christmas present for her younger sister. 
Grandtwin girl/10 dictated a Thanksgiving letter to me for her dearest friend and cousin. Oh how I miss those days! I was "employed" by her quite often! When she was about 6 she said "When we are working on my books, can you just call me Boss?" (LOL!) Grandtwin boy/10 read a couple of passages from a new book he is reading for school. He also typed me out a paragraph in which I was supposed to correct the misspellings! And Grandson/15 & I walked out towards the pond to see if we could see any geese. He is really wanting to get one this year! I will begin preparing more for Advent & Christmas during the Thanksgiving break. Plus, I will be starting to work on setting up my 2016 planner which I lamented about on one of your Planner Party posts! Something I normally take great pleasure in & I do again thisyear, I'm just not real sure how this is going to go & I am having a hard time getting started. Silly me.

Happening in nature:
As I stated: Windy, overcast today. Blowing in some possible snow or ice. We were trying to identify some new sweet, small birds yesterday. We didn't come to a conclusion.

With the (grand) kids:
I've attached a picture of our "Thanksgiving Table." This is a table in a sitting area, looking out our south-facing windows. We all add to the Thanksgiving tree, you will see in the picture. We will be finishing up the Thanks Living Box. They enjoy that year after year!

Here are my sentiments I sent out in my Thanksgiving greetings, to family & close friends.

"To the end that my glory may sing praise to Thee, and not be silent, O LORD my God, I will give thanks unto You forever." Ps 30:12 Oh! Let me not be silent! The end of all we experience in this life:  To sing praise to Him and give thanks, FOREVER!! Praise His holy name!

Keeping it Simple:
For us this year, we are again in mourning. So, we will definitely be keeping things low-key and home-centered. We will have the obligatory functions to attend, and we will do so with a grateful heart, just not as many scheduled as what we might do. We will focus on just the immediate family, for the most part; with the exception of looking to see who we can offer some blessings. A favorite thing for us to do.

Thank you for letting me share tea with you & your readers today!!  I've been working on this email for a while. I was thankful you hadn't set a deadline!



Thank you, Denise! I love hearing about your family and how you take tea and where you find inspiration! I appreciate your participation, and I love your enthusiasm! Your family is blessed to have you! :)

And here, my friends, are some Tea Notes from Helena ...

What refreshments are you enjoying this week?
My morning cup of Tasha Tudor's Welsh Breakfast tea, and the odd cup of apple cider with the kids. It's been a bit hectic around here, so I'm happy just to have that!

What are you reading this week?
Just finished the latest in a cozy mystery series I enjoy (The Stitching Hour) and also Teaching from Rest.

What are you listening to this week?
I may have broken my own rule about no Christmas music before Thanksgiving to sneak in a little bit of Josh Groban's Noel in the car. :)

What are you working on this week?
Getting ready for the holiday and also working on a proofreading assignment.

What's happening in nature this week?
I'm down in FL, so a bit different from you guys right now. It actually was chilly the other day (overnight low of 48, that's cold for us). The first strawberries of the season are coming in from the fields, our garden is actually doing well so far, and our neighbor's tomatoes and peppers look great. We're starting to see some of our winter visitors at the bird feeder (our female painted bunting appeared the other day, though no sign of her handsome husband yet) and the Canada geese are appearing on the farm ponds across the road.

Any projects with the children this week?
My husband helped my daughter rearrange and clean out her room, does that count? :) Hoping to get some Indian corn in to soak so the kids can string it for necklaces or garlands, but have to figure out how to get it off the cob first!

Any quotations to share, some words to inspire?
"The true way to live is to enjoy every moment as it passes, and surely it is in the everyday things around us that the beauty of life lies."  ~ Laura Ingalls Wilder


Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Helena! I'd love to hear how that Indian corn activity turns out!
And now let's hear from Amy's Tea Journal ... :)

Hi Dawn,

What refreshments are you enjoying this week?
For tea I'm drinking Republic of Tea's Cranberry Ginger tea - tangy and delicious!

What are you reading this week?

I'm reading a seasonal mystery: November Hunt by Jess Lourey. Her seasonal series is hilarious! Also, my stash of old November "Victoria's"

What are you listening to this week?

Thanksgiving channel on Pandora!

What are you working on this week?

I'm a full-time librarian so am prepping Thanksgiving a little bit at a time during the week (tonight: defrosting the turkey breast, defrosting the cranberries, and hard boiling eggs). Went to Trader Joe's yesterday for cranberry chevre and four other types of cheese for Thanksgiving. I'm a DAR member, so sent off a box of necessities for a VA hospital my DAR chapter is sponsoring.

What's happening in nature this week?

I work on a leafy college campus and when I leave work at night the air is so deliciously cold and smells like autumn. The drive into work is lovely too - often very foggy and cool.


Thank you for sharing, Amy! You've inspired me to dig out some of my own Victoria collection - they're pretty much perfect "nest" reading in my mind. :)

Friends, I hope you enjoyed this collection of "tea & nest" notes! I love sharing our thoughts on the season and how we find time to nourish ourselves - in simple, meaningful ways. I look forward to talking more tomorrow as we begin our Advent Tea Journal ... I will be "here" around 4:00, but you are welcome to join me whenever! I'd love to hear about your nest ... I hope it's a cozy spot where we can ponder Advent, and take a break from the world! I'll share my own tea and notes, and pics of course! Our discussion theme will be giving "gifts from the heart" and I look forward to brainstorming with you on that! (And I might have another nest "assignment" for you, too!)

I hope you'll join me this week ...

Tea Journal details can be found here, and please send me your thoughts/pics/links here:

bysunandcandle AT gmail DOT com

I look forward to hearing from you!

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

❄ Snowflakes for St. Agnes ❄

Tuesday was the Feast of St. Agnes, a day that is special to my family, so on a frigid "snow day" at home, we took some time for a craft and some cake. May I share a few pictures from our day?

St. agnes 1

This is my Crackerjack (who is just getting over a wicked cold), sketching an image of St. Agnes for the craft. We usually honor this feast day with some kind of snowflake-themed craft and/or treat, because snowflakes are known as "St. Agnes' Flowers."

After CJ finished his sketch, we cut it to fit the inside of a wooden snowflake ornament (leftover from Christmas). I added some sparkly "snow" (mod-podge + kosher salt) to the plain wood. (Still haven't found my acrylic paints and glitter!)

St. agnes 4

  I think it came out quite nice just the same ... :)

And since cake is always a treat on a feast day, I set to work in the kitchen. It had been a while since we'd had cake ... I never did get around to making those Patriots cupcakes on Sunday ... for obvious reasons, lol.

St. agnes 7

I chose to make an orange cake - honoring Our Lady of Altagracia who shares this feast day with St. Agnes and using up an old mix I had on the pantry shelf. For Saint Agnes, it's topped with a thick snow-cover: homemade buttercream frosting and natural snowflake sprinkles.

While we enjoyed some cake, I pulled this beautiful old Catholic dictionary from the liturgical shelf to show the boys ...

St. agnes 5

It belonged to my dad growing up! Though I fear it's not in the best shape - the binding is loose and frayed - so we have to be quite careful with it. I plan to use this dictionary with Earlybird as part of his faith-at-home program. He was thrilled to learn it was once his Papa's.


In the late afternoon, while Little Bear "chilled" in his happy little playspace ...

St. agnes 11

I kicked back with a cup of (decaffeinated) tea ...

St. agnes 13

Midwinter is a harsh time of year in some parts of the world ... it's cold (often very cold) and snowy/sleety/slippery or just generally hard to get out. Cabin fever is just around the corner it seems. So it's nice to indulge in some pastimes that make Winter more of a friend than a foe. Crafting, baking, enjoying books & tea ... looking a bit of joy in the every day, whatever that day might look like outside!

You know, I went back through my archives to refresh my memory on how we've celebrated St. Agnes Day before, and it was a little bittersweet. Simple crafts and seasonal "teatimes" were once a big part of our weekly routine, but with Bookworm off to college and Crackerjack in (homeschool) high school, our routine is quite different these days. I'm glad those times were a part of my boys' childhood, but I miss those days dearly ...

Happily I find I am still able to weave many simple seasonal activities into our family calendar ... and of course with our Little Bear, I will have plenty of chances to revisit those "younger" crafts and activities in the years coming up. In fact, I'm currently re-organizing my planner for these types of seasonal/liturgical things. I've been a little lazy on that front lately, and it feels good to get my ideas and materials in order. (You can be sure I'll be posting more on that subject just as soon as I have more to share!)


Well my friends, thanks so much for stopping by and letting me "ramble on" and reflect on my day. And thank you again - still! - for all the wonderful replies regarding Little Bear's sleeping habits ... I'll keep you all posted on that subject, too.

Many blessings on your day, and see you all here again very soon!

Crowned Cupcakes for Today's Feast

This feast day snuck up on me! Autumn has flown by and suddenly it's the last Sunday on the Catholic calendar! (Next week we begin Advent, and with it, a new liturgical year.) It was during the homily today at Mass that I found myself envisioning a quick but easy treat in honor of Christ the King (today's feast). (Not to suggest Father's homily wasn't interesting, but sometimes I find myself getting little ideas as I listen and it's all I can do not to whip out the post-it note pad, lol.) So I mentally surveyed my craft supplies and thought of golden doilies which would make nice little crowns. It being Sunday - a day for family dinners and special desserts - I thought I would make some delicious cupcakes, and "crown" them with a little help from the kids.

Now, Bookworm and Bill were off very early to Cambridge today, where BW is participating in a neat program at MIT. They'll be there all day, so the younger boys and I ran a few errands and while we were out I picked up some gold cupcake liners and edible glitter.


At home I dug out those aforementioned doilies and some colorful sequins (for "crown jewels"). Then I set in on making the cake ...

Now for spontaneous baking like this, I usually rely on a chocolate package mix that's EB-friendly, but I really wanted to make white cupcakes. (The liturgical color for today's feast.) So I used the "tender white cake" recipe off the back of the King Arthur Cake Flour box and though it's a little more work, it makes such a wonderful cake! It uses both vanilla and almond flavoring and the texture is so light and tender ... and the cakes bake up nice and golden:


So while the cupcakes cooled, I set the boys to work on the crowns. I gave them each some doilies, scissors, glue sticks and sequins and let them have at it.


(Note Crackerjack's divided attention - he's watching Scooby Doo in the background, lol.)

So the boys cut the doilies in half and then swiped the smooth front with a glue stick. Then they pressed on the colorful sequins.


Then we let them dry, and I headed back to the kitchen to whip up some buttercream frosting.

To decorate and assemble the cupcakes, I first spread some of the edible gold glitter (simple decorating sugar) on a plate:


CJ dipped the frosted cupcake into the glitter:



Then he placed a crown on top, bending it to shape, and gently nestling the edge of the crown into the frosting. (It held easily - no need for toothpicks.)




Happy Feast Day!

I think these would be fun for any party that had to do with royalty - whether it be knights and castles or princesses (fairy or otherwise). They were so easy to make and I think the final result is pretty festive!


Well, my friends, I hope you all had a nice weekend. Now, as for my next post, it will be "cranberries" for certain! I know I keep promising that post - and truly, I have it all written - but I was so pleased with today's last minute project I just had to share it!

So I hope you all have a nice night ... Bill and Bookworm just got home, so I'm off to hear all about their adventures. (And start supper!)

Take care, and as always, thanks so much for stopping by ... I'll be back here again very soon!


Devil's Food Cupcakes and Blackberry Punch ...

It must be Michaelmas!


And a very happy Michaelmas to all!

We started our celebrating a little early this year ~ we had some dear friends over for a visit yesterday afternoon, and so, in honor of the feast day upon us, I made up some sweet, symbolic treats.

The "devil's food" cupcakes are topped with buttercream frosting and pierced by colorful cocktail swords. (Miniature replicas of Michael's own valiant weapon.) At the top of the tier I placed an image of the archangel himself (something I found online and printed out on cardstock), and at the very bottom of the arrangement, lurking beneath, you see one of our (many) dragon toys. 

Then I mixed up some blackberry punch ...


This is simply an Ocean Spray 100% juice blend (cranberry-blackberry-blueberry), mixed with ice, fresh blackberries and a splash of club soda. It was very refreshing on this warm autumn day!

If you're familiar with the legend of St. Michael, then you know blackberries are no longer fit for consumption after his feast day. And this would be because the devil, as he was cast out of heaven (at the hands of St. Michael), landed in a thorny blackberry patch. He spat upon the berries, thereby poisoning them for the rest of the harvest year.

My boys get such a kick out of this feast day! They always have and I hope in some way they always do. :)

Later today Earlybird and I will make a small Michaelmas lantern ...


We've made lots of lanterns through the years - some made from glass, some from paper, some from tin. Some were quick and easy - some were more ornate. Well this time our lantern will be very child-friendly. I found this little plastic "paint bucket" at the craft store. (It was near the wedding paraphernalia.) Today we will cover it with a thin layer of glue and some torn bits of colorful tissue paper. Once dry, and as the light fades from the day, we will pop in a battery-operated tea light and place it in a window to shine.

Simple, seasonal fun.


Have a great Thursday, my friends ... see you again sometime soon!

Dear Winter ...


Enough already, all right?

I know I have no right to ask that. This is January after all ... and this IS what Winter does in New England at this time of year. But the snow and the cold have been relentless lately!

So yes, as you can see from forecast above, we're getting several inches MORE snow today ... on top of all the snow we already have ... and then there will be FRIGID temperatures after that ... and let's not even discuss the "major storm" cooking for next week!


Now, dear readers, you know I love snow, but this weather is really cramping our style! We had to cancel our January Nature Club meeting - the day was just too cold and conditions too icy for a winter walk in the woods. And we also had to postpone our "Greek Mythology Night" to next week, because of poor travel conditions and inadequate parking on our street. (The plows will surely be busy this evening.)

Grumble. Grumble.

OK, I'm done complaining. It's Friday, after all. We're healthy and happy and (thanks to telecommuting) we'll all be home together today. And in addition to it being Squirrel Appreciation Day (those little guys will be hard at work keeping warm and full today!), it also happens to be the feast of St. Agnes, a saint near and dear to our hearts.

If you're interested in celebrating this feast day, here are a couple of posts from my past describing the crafts we made and snacks we ate in honor of St. Agnes:




Before I go, l'd like to wish a very happy birthday to my friend Penny in Vt, a longtime reader and one of my most frequent commenters. Penny, my dear, did you "order" birthday snow, too? ;) Either way, I hope you have a lovely day!

Thanks so much for stopping by this morning, everyone! Keep warm and safe wherever you are ... we'll do the same here. :)

See you all again very soon ...

Doves for Sunday

I was sifting through my (ridiculously messy) craft bins earlier today and found my dove-shaped cookie cutter. Right after I mentally added "clean out craft bins" to my weekend to-do list, I remembered making these cookies ...


... and this craft ...


... three years ago.

I then realized these projects go along with this Sunday's Mass. (Has it really been 3 years?!)

You could also use the cutter to make dove shapes out of toast and spread them with cream cheese (a snipped raisin or mini chocolate chip could serve for an eye). And the hanging paper doves would make pretty Valentine's decorations. :)

I'll pop back on sometime over the weekend - I've got lots of puttering to do and projects to work on. And of course there's a Pats game to watch on Sunday afternoon - though I'm sending Bill to my folks' house so he can watch the big game in relative peace with my dad. ;)

So have a great weekend, my friends! I'll be seeing you all again very soon!

Bringing in the May ~

“The moon shines bright and stars give light,Lilyofthevalleyarrangement_3

A little before the day

So God bless you all, both great and small

And send you a joyful May.”

(From a traditional English May carol)


I'm still working on that May Themes & Plans post, but since May Day (and Ascension Day!) is upon us, I thought I'd share a few of our plans for today. :)

In the backyard ...

Look for dandelion puffs to blow (if there are any left after last night's frost!). Blow bubbles up into the sky. (I'll be mixing up a homemade solution, using a lavender-scented dishwashing detergent as the base.) Climb the play "tower" and watch the clouds passing by. Look for the corners of our property - and beat the bounds* in old English tradition. *I believe willow was traditional, but we'll use pruned forsythia branches. ;) In the northwest corner, I'll spend a little time tidying up the Mary garden.

At the craft table ...

Earlybird will do some blue, purple and white finger painting. The older boys will work on a small map of our backyard; on it they will mark the boundaries and note where we've found neat things so far this spring (like big worms, buried acorns and a mysterious tunnel). I'll be making a tin can May basket to set on our nature table (wrapping it with spring-shaded yarn). Then we'll fill it with whatever is blooming including branches of the Ascension flower (lilacs).

For teatime ...

I'll whip up some little meringue "cloud" cookies, and serve them with a fruity "May Punch." We'll read our Magnifikid for this Sunday's Mass, and the boys will start learning a new Marian prayer. I'll move the statue of Our Lady to our mantel and place some (silk) flowering vines around it.

And there's our day in a nutshell! I'll be back soon with more themes and plans ... but for now, a very Happy May, and many Blessings to you!

Tea & a Craft (& Supper!) for the Holy Father


To honor his birthday (today) and his visit to our country (this week)!

We began shortly after lunchtime - after I hauled called the boys inside from the yard (it's glorious here today!) - with some apple strudel and an easy coloring craft ...

But, a word or two first about the strudel - I had hoped to make some homemade, in honor of our Pope's German heritage, but it just wasn't to be. Oh, I had plenty of apples and raisins on hand ... but, try as I might, the extra time to scratch-bake never materialized. (Fancy that.) So instead I had Bill pick up some strudel at the grocery store on his way home from work last night - and technically, it was a danish, but that's ok. :)

While the boys munched, I showed them several interesting and child-friendly articles I'd saved about the Holy Father and his visit to the U.S. They especially liked the ones that discussed his favorite things and what he was like as a "regular person."

We found where Bavaria was on the world map ~


And placed a foam sticker there to remind us.

The gorgeous weather was distracting beckoning us, so we moved the "craft part" of the day to the deck. I had found a neat article in the Sunday Globe that discussed Pope Benedict's coat-of-arms in detail. I displayed it for the boys and gave them sheets to color as they wished. In true form, Bookworm colored it to match the picture as closely as possible, while Crackerjack used whatever shades struck his fancy. Earlybird was still eating lunch, and couldn't be lured from his mac-and-cheese to participate. :)


Inside we hung up the final products ~


And I read a lovely book aloud to the boys. I bought Joseph and Chico some time back, with this week specifically in mind. Oh, what a nice story! We are proud owners of 3 (once 5) cats, so the boys were thrilled to learn their Pope was a cat lover!   


This next photo doesn't really fit here, but I thought it looked so nice, I stuck it in anyway. ;) This is the tablecloth I wanted to use for our dinner tonight - it needed airing, so it spent the day hanging out in the spring sunshine.


And before we knew it, it was time for supper ...


Bill brought home some German wine (love the label!), and some Orange Fanta for the boys (we read it was the Pope's favorite!) ...

And I cooked up a German(ish)-themed meal ~


Sausage with apples, potatoes and peppers roasted in a cider dressing, pumpernickel bread and applesauce. Very yummy, I must say ...

But not quite as yummy as the Black Forest cake!


This afternoon I Tivo'd (real word, yes?) a special on EWTN, called Joseph Ratzinger: A Pope from Germany. My thought was that we'd sit down atogether to watch it tonight after supper. But it will have to wait for tomorrow, because here we sit now, at 8 p.m. ~ and between all the sun and the fresh air today (and who am I kidding the enormous meal, lol) we are all feeling sleepy and ready for bed. In fact, Earlybird's already there!

So I'm off! But as always, thanks for stopping by and sharing in our day. I hope you all had a good one, too. :)

Cake and a Craft for The Annunciation


To be perfectly honest, I was a bit tired after yesterday's shindig, but I still wanted to do something special with the boys for today's Feast, The Annunciation of the Lord, (technically, a Solemnity, but a day to rejoice nonetheless). On this day last year we brought roses (and, ahem, rocks) to a nearby Marian statue, but this year I was determined to stay in. Between the rain and the snow, it was downright unhospitable for even a brief outing, so while the flakes fell fast and furious, and the boys finished their math, I got started on the cake.

Now, you're probaby saying to yourself, "She baked a cake? Didn't she say they had a whole bunch of desserts leftover from yesterday's party?"

(Well yes I did ... and we did (still do) ... but nothing Earlybird can eat, and I wanted him to have something fresh and festive for today. Besides, I love to bake.)

Anyhoo. I had wanted to try making homemade angel food cake, which is a traditional food for today, but at the last minute I realized I don't own a tube pan! (How can that be??) I wasn't sure if a bundt pan would cut it, so instead, I reached for a lemon cake mix I had on the shelf. So easy, and I kind of liked how golden it came out. :)

And with all the time I saved using a box mix, I made up some lemon whipped cream with EB:


(Picture by Bookworm.)

Then, I turned a Ziploc bag into a makeshift piping tube ...


And got fancy with the whipped cream ... :)


(More photos by my Bookworm.)

And we fished blueberries out of the fruit salad to place all around ...


All that was needed was a pretty centerpiece - so I plucked a few leftover tulips (aka "Mary's Prayers") and voila ~


A fun, yummy feast day treat!

As the boys ate, we read about the Angelus, and I showed them this famous painting. I also showed them the Daily Missal you see below; it has just come into my happy possession. It was printed in 1959 and belonged to my grandfather. (Thank you so much, Mum and Uncle George!)


Here's the lovely page for The Annunciation:


And then it was time to get our hands dirty!


I read a suggestion in this lovely book to plant marigold seeds on this feast. (Marigold = Mary's Gold.) The boys have been itching to plant something, so a few dixie cups and some potting soil later, and we were good to go! :)


Note the variety of Marigold = Crackerjack! Which of course, made his day. ;)

First we scooped the potting soil into the cups carefully:


Next we fished out the seeds:



And each of my boys prepared his own special cup:


Bookworm added the water:


And now the cups will sit in a window full of spring sun. (Once it returns!)


And there you have it, our day in a (rather large, chatty) nutshell. (Though I left out the part about the flock of wild turkeys that passed through ... that caused some excitement around here!) I hope your day was a good one, too. Good night for now ~ I'll see you all sometime tomorrow.

Tea & a Craft for Palm Sunday


But before I get to the craft - or the tea for that matter - I must show you a few pictures from our "recess" today. It wasn't very warm out, but we're just so in the spring mood these days, we couldn't help ourselves. Admittedly, there was not a lot of spring to be found, but we did spy, of all things, a spider (alive!):


The boys inisisted I show you the spider, even though I felt it didn't really go with the whole tea-drinking, craft-making theme of my post. But I suppose this is a household of boys after all ... :)


Earlybird and Crackerjack were mighty glad to get back in the saddle!


While I headed in to make lunch, the boys filled a bowl with all kinds of treasures for the nature shelf ~ spruce cones and needles, bark, acorns and maple tree buds. They also found evidence of a skunk visit, and several small but deep burrows which must belong to either a mole or a chipmunk. (Or maybe something else? Any ideas?)

After lunch, it was time for our tea-and-a-craft; our focus this week, Palm Sunday.


I saw a neat project in The Big Book of Catholic Customs and Traditions for Children's Faith Formation ~ a Palm Sunday banner made of green paper hand (or palm) prints. I thought this would make a nice decoration for the learning room this week.

Now, one of my fellas was a bit too squirmy to have his hand traced (I'm not naming names!) but he did acquiesce to having his palms photocopied, lol!


After cutting out all the hands (a tricky task which fell upon me) we lined them up along a long length of green paper, a "spine" for our palm frond and taped them all down. Bookworm made a Hosanna sign, and then we hung up our "palm of palms" in the windows (top photo).

And for tea? Irish decaf with plenty of sugar and milk and a batch of freshly baked oatmeal date cookies. As in palm dates, of course. ;)


As we munched, we looked over this week's Magnifikid and talked about the word Hosanna. I asked the boys if they recognized it (they did) and asked if they could name at which point it is said (or sung) during Mass (they could).

Our final plan for the afternoon was to run through their roles for the Passion Play this weekend, but a friend of Crackerjack's showed up on the doorstep so we put that off for a while. We still have a few things to tweak on their costumes, but I think they have their parts down pretty well. :)

Well, I'm going to wrap things up here now, as it's just T-20 minutes to Lost! (Is it true this is the last episode for awhile? That went fast.) Have a good night, everyone ~ I'll see you all sometime tomorrow. 

Tea & a Craft for the 5th Sunday in Lent


Today's weather could not have cooperated better if I had asked it to. A dark gloomy morning gave way to a bright and brisk afternoon ~ just in time for our weekly tea-and-a-craft! So, after our lessons were all done (more or less) it was time to gather the boys 'round the table for a little snack, a quick craft and some chat about this Sunday's gospel.


First thing first ~ I read aloud from our Magnifikid and then Bookworm read aloud the story of Lazarus from our Children's Bible. The boys were familiar with the story and recalled seeing it acted out at VBS last year.

This passage in particular stood out:

Jesus told her, "I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" (John 11:25-26)

(Now this certainly gave us something to discuss!)

Once our conversation slowed, it was time for some refreshement, and this time our snack doubled as our craft! I had heard of resurrection cookies before, but in this month's issue of Take Out magazine, I noticed a brief mention of something called resurrection rolls. They sounded intriguing, so I looked them up online, and found further instructions here.

In addition to a can of refrigerated crescent rolls, these were the main ingredients:


Cinnamon-sugar, melted butter and marshmallows; yesiree, the boys dove right in!



Each marshmallow was first dipped in melted butter and then rolled in cinnamon-sugar, before getting wrapped up in a triangle of crescent dough:


They baked at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.


Now, I think the rolls are actually supposed to stay closed; ours burst open as they baked (oozing marshmallow all over my cookie sheet). By the time they had cooled, and were ready to show to the boys, they looked like little caves and were definitely empty inside.

(Note: Next time I will be sure to get the 10 ounce can of crescent dough instead of the 8, and I will be more careful about pinching the dough tightly closed over the marshmallows. I might even cut back a bit on the cinnamon measurement - the mixture was yummy but a bit pungent.)

Here's Bookworm showing you his roll:


And here's Crackerjack's cracked open:


This was quite easy and fun ~ a nice symbolic craft for the season. It would be easy to do this with a group of children at an Easter party, and I also think it would make a special family breakfast on Easter morn. Quite delicious with coffee or punch (and portable for those backyard egg hunts). You could set out all the ingredients the night before, so the rolls are ready to assemble early Sunday morning.

Before I go, I must show you the beautiful Hellebore I purchased at the grocery store last night. I have wanted one for so long! (Especially since Rebecca showed us hers two years ago!)


The Hellebore is also called the Lenten Rose because it blooms right around Lent each year. An early bloomer is most welcome in the garden, especially up here in the northeast! I will do my best to tend my little "rose" until it warms up enough to plant it outside. (I have just the corner for it!) Sometime before I move it out though, I will have the boys sketch it for their field journals, as a sign of early spring.


Well, now I'd best wrap up; I've kept you all long enough! It's 4:00 anyway ~ time to tidy and cook. On the menu tonight: turkey meatloaf, maple acorn squash, roasted potatoes and garlic breadsticks. Good hearty late winter fare. :)

I hope you had a wonderful Wednesday, and I hope to see you all again sometime tomorrow!

Tea & a Craft for The Chair of St. Peter


For this week's tea & a craft, we focused on today's feast, The Chair of St. Peter. For "tea" we had hot milky cocoa in celebration of the snow (still falling fast and furious as I type) but no other treats were served. (We were all saving our "one sweet a day" for the cherry cobbler bubbling away in the crockpot!) We first read today's gospel, and then we read ahead for Sunday in our Magnifikid. And then, much to the boys surprise, I opened up my laptop ...

... for an online tour of St. Peter's Basilica!


The boys were fascinated by this floorplan:


We quickly found the Cathedra Petri on the map and opened its link:


The image of The Holy Spirit, in stained glass above the Altar is so striking.

I then remembered we had a great picture of the Basilica in one of our Discoveries books - it happens to be a fold-out multi-page section.


Next I pulled out a fun little paperback story, Lost in Peter's Tomb. Bookworm read this last year (and its sequel Break-in at the Basilica) but not Crackerjack. In fact, I had forgotten we had these books until just today! (You know, as much as I love to plan, half the time I'm making things up as we go, lol.)

Bookworm remembered a passage about the Chair of St. Peter in the book:


"There's another picture of a dove at the end of the church," observes an excited Delaney, pointing toward the very end of the basilica.

"Is that a giant's chair?" Delaney asks, seeing what looks like a chair floating in gold and silver clouds beneath the dove. Now Delaney is sure giants live here.

"That is the very famous and sacred 'Chair of Peter' or Cathedra Petri in Latin," says the workman.

"Did Peter actually sit in that chair?" questions Riley. "It looks awfully big. How big was Peter?"

"No, he wasn't a giant. Just a normal-sized person. I don't think he ever actually sat in that chair," answers the workman. "It looks to be about ten feet tall; much too big for the average man to sit in. That big chair more importantly symbolizing that this is the place where the head of the Church belongs. However, a chair that Peter really did sit in is enclosed inside that big bronze chair."

Next we set about making our craft for the day, our own "stained glass" dove:


I've shared this craft method before - it's a very common one, and a favorite of mine. Easy for the boys to do too, if I prepare things ahead. It's just bits of colorful tissue paper stuck onto clear contact paper, around a printed out image, and all set within a construction paper frame.

Our finished product:


Which we added to our Lenten cross:


So far we have a panel for St. Valentine, and now one for the Chair of Peter. Over the next four weeks we'll add the rest of the panels, colorful images representing special days of the season. Come Easter Sunday our cross will be filled with color and light!

Well, our day has now come to a close. The snow is still falling, and here we sit together, savoring these steaming bowls of cherry cobbler and watching a wonderful movie. A fitting choice for this time of year, as we long for the return of the spring. :)

Have a wonderful weekend, my friends!

Tea & a Craft for the Days of the Blackbird


I know many of my readers are familiar with the Tomie dePaola books - in certain homeschooling circles, they are practically a primary resource!! And why shouldn't they be? Each title is a gem ~ a great story combined with lovely illustrations, and always that certain Tomie sparkle. :)

We are fortunate to have many of his books on our shelf, but I think Days of the Blackbird: A Tale of Northern Italy might be my favorite. I love the story of course, a heart-warming tale of loving sacrifice, but the illustrations are so beautifully shaded. Every page is a visual delight.

Today, January 29th, the first of the three Days, I sat the boys down after lunch to read aloud this treasured tale. As soon as I opened the first page, Crackerjack piped up: "Hey, I remember this book!" And as soon as I got to the page where Duca Gennaro falls ill, Earlybird hit the road ~ he's not one for dramatic tension, lol.

Once I'd finished the story I sent the boys off to play for a while and got down to work, setting up a simple go-along craft. I only got the idea this morning while waiting for EB at speech, so I had to figure out what exactly I was proposing and what I needed for materials. Not much as you can see in the top photo.

I first cut a length of paper from the craft roll and sketched out a tree with branches:


Next, I photocopied a page from the book to get the right size and shape stencil ~ and then cut out four birds using heavy white watercolor paper.


I called the boys back to the table; EB came with his piece of pizza in hand (but not on plate):


I had the boys color one side of the birds with black crayons (first coloring the beaks and eyes in orange) ...


... and we ended up with birds that on one side represented the white La Columba and on the other, the sooty La Merla.


After hanging my tree sketch on our bulletin board, I asked the boys to think about the concept of sacrifice, particularly what it means in light of our Faith. We talked about the character of La Columba, and about her sacrifice for Duca Genarro (at the plea of his daughter Gemma). I asked the boys to write down the name of someone who makes sacrifices for us on the back of their birds, and after we each did that, we perched our birds on our tree:


As you can see, one of the birds remains white. That would be Earlybird's. He got mighty busy coloring his black construction paper with white crayons, so I might cut his bird shape out of that.

Once our craft was finished we sat down for tea, or cocoa rather ~ hot cocoa and cold ice cream. I am working on the hot-cold concept with EB and these two treats made for a perfect (and delicious) example.


There's nothing like a good story, but even better, a story that fits perfectly within the season, that expresses the feeling of the time of the year. Days of the Blackbird is just such a story. For one thing, the last week of January is certainly cold here in New England. And next week we prepare our hearts for Lent, a time of loving sacrifice for us all.

Now the day is fading, the boys are off to play, and I'd best get the supper started ~ Italian tonight, of course! Nothing fancy, just baked ziti and grilled sausages. Though, I might ask Bill to stop at my favorite bakery on his way home and pick up some tiramisu for dessert. ;)

Thank you so much for stopping by today, and I hope wherever you are, you are warm and well. See you all sometime tomorrow.

Tea and a Craft: Lovely Doves

“I saw the Spirit come down like a dove from heaven and remain upon him.” (Jn 1:32)


Remember the dove cookies I baked the other day? Well, we usually have our Tea-and-a-Craft days on Thursdays, but this week Thursday was an incredibly busy day. So instead, we set aside time Friday morning to sit, read, craft and eat. :)

I try to do this with the boys each week ~ to read aloud Sunday's Liturgy of the Word, so we can talk about it a little. Usually I prepare a simple craft to go along with our talk, something to make the readings more memorable. I often tie in (or sometimes focus on) a current or coming feast day. Quite often we also weave in a book we're reading (something from Cay's Catholic Mosaic, perhaps) or even a seasonal theme from nature. Nature brings its own beautiful inspiration to the table! (I know many of you are familiar with this activity, but since I have some new readers, may I link you to my Tea and Crafts archive?)

I use several resources to plan out these teas (which for lack of a better term is what I call them; we only sometimes have tea, though, lol). Online there is 4Real, and many blogs of course, as well as places like CatholicMom, Catholic Culture and Open Wednesdays. I draw from the books I've listed on the lefthand sidebar under Living the Liturgical Year and we also subscribe to Faith & Family, Take Out: Family Faith to Go and Magnifkid.

Now it goes without saying, I don't use everything at once! But I like to check through all the resources to see my options. Usually something sparks an idea and our weekly tea takes its shape ...

But always, without doubt, there is a snack to be shared. Nothing draws a bunch of boys to the table like something good to eat! Especially when there's frosting involved. :)

The craft this week came from The Complete Children's Liturgy Book: Liturgies of the Word for Years A, B and C):


And having decided on this craft (which reflects Sunday's gospel) I also decided to tie in our snack to the theme of the dove. My parents gave me a beautiful dove cookie cutter for my birthday, and so sugar cookies became the snack of choice this week. (A great idea is to collect cookie cutters (alphabet, religious and nature themes) and keep a stash of frozen sugar cookie dough in the freezer - you'll always have a snack at the ready!)

As the boys assembled their dove crafts, I read Sunday's Gospel aloud. And yes, my boys do the crafts readily. I get asked that a lot, lol. We've always done crafts, and they enjoy them! I keep them very simple and the promise of a delicous treat at the end also holds their attention. ;)

By the time we were done reading and making, the doves were ready to hang, and the cookies were ready to frost:


Crackerjack kept his plain, but Earlybird's (shown below) was generously adorned with crystal white sprinkles.


Speaking of EB, the poor kid, he is suffering a terrible cold. He didn't even want to eat this cookie - for him, it was really all about the decorating today.

Finally, the cookies were consumed, and the craft was hung on display:


Don't they look nice hanging from the beams?


Even better when there are so many smiling faces beneath them. :)

And now here's the weekend at last ... oh, the promise of a weekend! And a long weekend, at that! It's bright and early here as I finish up this post. EB is feeling better, thank goodness. He had a good night's sleep and I am sure that helped a lot. I have a long list of things to do today - little errands, catch-up chores - and then we'll be settling in for a quiet family weekend. Well, quiet except for the part where we cheer on our beloved Pats! :)

And don't forget, today begins the Barnes & Noble Educator Week! And, I hear tell, JoAnn's has a good sale going on too. Hmmm ... books, crafts and football? Sounds like a great wekeend to me!

I hope you all have a good one too! I'll be back again sometime soon.

Happy St. Nicholas Day!


So, what's the plan for the day? Well, I'm so glad you asked! ;)

This morning when the boys read their Advent tag, they were directed to search the Christmas tree for a special surprise. And there they found hanging - one for each of them - a shiny striped candy cane!


They are big, all-natural candy canes that I bought at Whole Foods! Now, I dont mean to sound like a candy cane snob, lol, but my Earlybird can't eat most candies due to food sensitivities, so I am always pleased to find natural alternatives when I can. You can't see it in the picture, but behind each candy cane's tag, I wrote the following stanza from a lovely blessing I found at the St. Nicholas Center:

Wherever these candy canes are hung,

On tree or wall or door,

May they carry with them

The bright blessing of God.

May all who shall taste them

Experience the joy of God

Upon their tongues and in their hearts.

After breakfast (and after math), we'll set in to work on a craft for the day, a very simple, St. Nicholas bookmark. I thought that since this is our Book Group day, the craft would be timely and practical. I photocopied our St. Nicholas holy card (you can easily find similar images online), for the boys to cut and apply to a few leftover bookmarks from Monday's Cocoa Storytime. They can then decorate them as they wish. While they work, I'll read aloud The Night before Christmas, and when I finish reading, I'll hand the book over to the boys - their memory work for this month is to learn this beloved poem by heart! :)

We also packed up some peppermint goodies to share with our friends at the library today (Hershey candy cane kisses and starlight mints).


And of course no trip to the library is complete without filling up a sack-full of books! Here's my wish list for today:

This afternoon after returning home from Book Group, we'll have a little snack - gingerbread men (I bought, rather than made) and cups of Candy Cane Lane tea ~ except we do a slight variation, steeping the herbal tea bag in a cup of cocoa for a few minutes. Crackerjack does not care for peppermint, so I'll be making him a cup of warmed almond milk. His candy cane is actually cherry-flavored which will make a delicious stirrer!

Well, Happy Thursday ~ I hope your day is a good one ~ see you again sometime soon!

Tea, Crafts (and Pj's!) for Martinmas


A milky sky, a weak sun, a chilly wind ... November has us in its grip at last! Honestly, I love this time of year and I don't mind for an instant the dark early evenings ~ to me they're quite cozy and homey. Tonight we have the fireplace crackling, the oven roasting and there are pretty little lanterns in the window. It must be Martinmas! Now, the Feast of St. Martin technically falls on November 11th, but as the 11th is a Sunday this year, we'll have our Martinmas fun a few days early. :)

Since all three of my boys are struggling with a nasty cold this week, I scaled back on some of our plans. Instead of a lantern walk tonight, we placed our lights in the front window. And instead of sorting through closets and changing beds today, we'll start in on those tasks tomorrow.

Some nice things to do for Martinmas:

  • Start a family collection for charity.
  • Begin knitting something warm for someone who needs it.
  • Bag up clothing to give to the needy.
  • Change your beds from cotton to flannel.
  • Surprise your children with new winter pajamas.
  • Read aloud or re-tell the story of Saint Martin of Tours.
  • Invite friends on a lantern walk at dusk.

If I may, here are some pictures from our Martinmas teatime today ...


I baked a batch of St. Martin's horseshoe cookies, just like last year. Well, almost like last year. Lol, Bookworm tugged on my sleeves as I stood at the Kitchenaid and said, "No offense, but I didn't like those last year." Well, this year I remembered to use unsalted butter instead of salted, and I'm happy to say the cookies were downright delicious - buttery, oaty and tender. I also served the boys hot and honeyed pomegranate tea (excellent for their colds).

These packages piled at the head of the table caught the boys attention right away:


But I made them wait for Earlybird to wake from his nap before opening them.

I did however set them about a small copywork assignment: the words to "St. Martin" from We Sing and Dance.


Now it was time for the lanterns!


Last year we made our lanterns from watercolor paintings; this year I decided to try glass jars with tissue paper ...


The boys found it easy, if perhaps a bit sticky:


We set our finished jars in the window to dry just as Earlybird came down the hall:


NOW it was time to rip into the packages, and inside the boys found ...


Brand new slippers!


And fleecey pajamas to keep them warm all winter long!

Well, speaking of pajamas, bedtime is here, and it's time for me to be off for the weekend. As always, thank you for stopping by my little corner of the web. I wish you a warm and cozy night wherever you are. :)

Poetry Friday: October's Bright Blue Weather


O SUNS and skies and clouds of June,
        And flowers of June together,
    Ye cannot rival for one hour
        October's bright blue weather …

  O suns and skies and flowers of June,
        Count all your boasts together,
    Love loveth best of all the year
        October's bright blue weather.

The stanzas above represent the opening and closing of October's Bright Blue Weather, a lovely poem by Helen Hunt Jackson, one you can read in full here. It's perfect for this mid-autumn Friday, despite the rain lashing the windows ...

As I considered this verse bright dark and early this morning, I remembered a craft I had in mind to do with the boys sometime this fall: an autumn leaf suncatcher. It was the first thing we did this morning, even before math!

I set out just a few materials:


A few shades of blue tissue paper, double-sided tape and several clean Pringles can lids.

You might be wondering why I have a homekeeping book here. Well, it came in very handy ...


... it's been pressing tiny fall leaves for over a week! I collected these way back on our woodland adventure day, specifically with this craft in mind.

By the way, I got the idea for this craft from a charming little book called The Harvest Craft Book by Thomas Berger. Here it is open to the Transparencies page where a more complex (yet very beautiful) craft was described:


Our craft may be considerably more humble, but it required just the right amount of effort from the boys. Actually, I ended up doing most of the finish work as the bits of double-sided tape did prove a tad fussy. (Remember we did this craft early - I'd already had my coffee, but the boys were still waking up, lol!)

Quick directions: Cut a piece of tissue paper to fit inside the lid. Lay tiny leaves against the paper in a pattern you like; adhere them with a bit of double-sided tape. Stick slivers of d.s. tape along the inner edge of the lid and press down the paper with leaves facing down. Hole punch the top and tie a string through; hang where the sunlight will catch it:




Next time we do this craft we will choose brighter leaves - say vivid orange and fiery red - which will stand out more, I think.

There was a promise of blue skies 'round middmorning, but by lunchtime it was pouring again (thunder and all!).


It was time for a warm and hearty afternoon snack:


Grilled cheese sandwiches cut into oak leaf shapes, maple creme cookies, and mugs of mulled cider. It all hit the spot.


Let it rain all it wants today ... October's bright blue weather will return in all its glory tomorrow. :)

Two Crafts and a Cake for Today's Feast

This morning, on the Feast of the Holy Cross, the boys awoke to a new and shining symbol of our faith:


This started out as an entirely different and more complicated craft, lol. I had thought the boys could make stained glass panels to place in each pane of glass, forming a cross shape as shown above. This would be done by sandwiching (many) bits of torn tissue paper between (several) sheets of clear contact paper, cut to fit this multi-paned door. But then, early this morning, as I was guestimating just how long it would take to make enough panels, I discovered that we were completely out of contact paper!

So that changed everything. Instead, I surprised the boys by taping full sheets of tissue in each pane (in a few autumn shades) and as they woke up the morning sun was just flooding through ...

What day is it? Crackerjack asked, sensing something was afoot.

I sprung it upon them that today was the Feast of the Holy Cross and then they knew one thing for sure: there would be cake. ;)

But next, we worked on a new family handprint cross. We made one last year on this day, but I thought it would be nice to update it with fresh paper and current hand sizes.

Last year we chose construction paper in signature colors; this year I chose scrapbooking paper in shades and themes that fit personalities:


From left to right: white posterboard for the cross base, an evergreen print for Bill, yellow gingham for me, a science theme for Bookworm, navy blue stars for Earlybird and a "cool" tie-dye pattern for Crackerjack (he chose this over fireworks).

Next I cut out a new cross base, and taped it together:


And then each of us had our hands traced on our select papers. Here the prints are all cut out and ready to apply to the cross:


You might notice EB found it hard to keep his hands still.

And here is our family handprint cross for the new year!


I like how it looks with all the patterns and, for good measure, I added a red gingham heart to the center. I also like the overall message: all hands to heaven or perhaps, many hands, one heart!

So naturally, there had to be cake. Here is the cross-shaped cake pan and the variety of sprinkles all ready to go:


And finally, here we have, freshly baked and cooled, our frosted and decorated cake. (Duncan Hines cake mix, homemade buttercream frosting, India tree sprinkles):


(That's supposed to be a heart in the center!)

Well, I hope you all have a happy weekend! Enjoy the September weather wherever you are, and hold those dear little hands (and hearts) closely!

Gingerbread & Cider: A Back-to-School Tea

Yesterday afternoon the boys and I had a little teatime in celebration of our first week back to "school." After our summer-send off last week, I wanted to serve something that just said fall - in spite of the soaring temperatures outside, lol - so first on the menu, in place of hot tea, was fresh-pressed apple cider. (It's back in the markets again - have you seen?!) I offered to warm it up but it was unanimously decided that cold crisp cider was just the ticket for such a warm September day.

Now for the snack ... I was thinking of an alphabet theme, especially for Earlybird who's beginning kindergarten at home this year. He just loves letters! Well, paging through one of my old journals the other day, I came across a clipping I'd saved from Family Fun magazine. According to the article, in Colonial America, when children learned the alphabet, their families celebrated by making gingerbread letters.

Well that sounded good to me! Any excuse to make gingerbread, right? :) And to use these lovely cookie cutters I've had for years and hardly used at all:


I bought our set at Williams-Sonoma years ago. They now come in a smaller tin which you can see here. These are great for cookies, obviously, as well as play dough (though I have a separate plastic set for playtime). A nice idea at the holidays is to give a beautifully wrapped box of iced cookies, spelling out a warm greeting such as PEACE or NOEL. (That is a Martha tip, as you probably know.)   


All the boys helped with the dough, which I made from a recipe that came with the tin. (I wasn't all that pleased with it, to be honest. No eggs and no molasses, rather stiff ... but it was ok for today!)

Above you see Bookworm helping with the rolling out of the dough. He really loves to cook and asked me if this year "cooking" could be one of his subjects. Hmmm, I thought, that fits in nicely with our chemistry study! (And then I envisioned biographies of famous chefs, a field trip to a bakery ... oh, the rabbit trail I could make out of this!)

Initially, our idea is to compile a binder for Bookworm filled with kid-friendly recipes that he can learn to make on his own through the year. In a future post I'll be soliciting such recipes from you all! ;)


The younger two got in on the action too, of course. Actually this was taken near the end of baking when the scraps were left to be played with.

Earlybird enjoyed shaping letters himself and then finding those cookies in the baked batch! His favorites were E, H and Z. :)


This is the smile of a boy who is thrilled it's apple cider season again, a culinary delight second only to the appearance of eggnog in late October.


I shooed the boys off to play and set up the table - the platter is a wooden pineapple tray that belonged to my grandmother years ago. The pineapple was a traditional symbol of welcome in Colonial America.

The cookies looked (and smelled) good, but it was the brightly wrapped package that caught the boys' attention first.


What could it be?


A back-to-school gift from mum and dad: The Dangerous Book for Boys! The boys were intrigued by the title ...

"Dangerous? What's so dangerous about a book?" asked Crackerjack.


They dug right in to find out. ;)

And so our new year was officially kicked off, and as if on cue, the mail arrived just as we finished up tea - bringing with it our approval letter from the town. What great timing!

That letter will be stored securely in our files, but the memories of today will be filed away too - slipped inside the yearbook of our hearts, a book I hope will grow fat with experiences all year long.

It is my job to envision and prepare for such experiences - to lay the groundwork and then to step back and watch. I am, after all, headmistress of a rather dandy (and not too dangerous) school for young boys ...

I seriously doubt I will ever lack for material. :)

Sweet and Simple


We had our weekly sit-down-to-tea yesterday (Wednesday) since today (Thursday) will be a busy one for us. This might remain a permanent change as Wednesday afternoons look to be the quietest of the week this fall. I like to have our tea when we've got the whole afternoon at home. This way I have time to prepare, and they have time to digest. :)

I didn't have a craft planned, or a picture book picked out, but I printed out the weekly coloring page at Catholic Mom.com, and we read aloud Sunday's Gospel (Luke 14: 1, 7-14) from our Magnifikid. The boys colored as I read and we all nibbled on the fruity snack I laid out.

It was quite warm here yesterday, and I had planned to serve this, our last "summertime" tea on the deck - but the lure of the AC was too great! Not shown is the refreshing "Zingerade" punch, the recipe for which I found in Parents magazine, a lovely last hurrah for the summer:

Bring 4 cups water to a boil. Add 4 lemon-zinger herbal tea bags and brew for 10 minutes. Discard tea bags. In a large pitcher, combine 1 can (6 oz.) frozen lemonade concentrate, 1 liter plain seltzer and tea. Serve with orange, lemon and lime slices.

As you can see in the photo above I served watermelon "sticks" and apple slices along with strawberry yogurt for dipping. (It was just too hot to bake!) I explained that these fruits formed a bridge between the seasons - juicy melon from summer and crisp apples for fall. Beginning next week, our table will adopt a distinctly more autumn feel.

In fact, the windows have already begun the transformation:



I picked up these garlands at Michaels along with the clip-on silk "fall" butterfly. I only got enough to do one set of windows, so I'll wait for the next store coupon to buy more. ;) I'd like to have Bill weave a strand of tiny white lights in with the garland. I think fall's dark afternoons will be much enhanced by soft lights twinkling above our workspace.

Well, I hope you enjoy these last few (unofficial) summertime days! So far the morning here is bright and breezy, a welcome foretaste of fall ...

Before it gets too warm (as it's bound to do), I'm going to get some banana breads in the oven. And, later this morning I'll place some calls to local farms to inquire about the availability of green tomatoes.

Labor Day means picalilli, of course! :)