Thanksgiving 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":

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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 ...

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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!

Our Thanksgiving Day!

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Hello and Happy Friday, my friends! I hope you all had a nice week and for those who celebrate, a wonderful Thanksgiving, too. We had a really nice time with our family yesterday, and as usual, I took a whole lot of pictures that I'd like to share here at the blog!

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We worked on a thankful garland all month, Earlybird and I (and the rest of the family at times, too), but we carried this neat tradition with us into our family celebration. Every place setting had a leaf and a crayon. I was very happy to have the boys' help with cutting out all those leaves!

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And early Thanksgiving morning, EB assisted me in preparing an apple crisp ...

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Had to get it in the oven ahead of the turkey!

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My mother's birthday fell on Thanksgiving this year, so I made up some spice cupcakes too!

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Each year we have a "signature cocktail" at the holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter). This year it was an Apple Cider Margarita - with cinnamon-sugar rims and a tweak of orange inside ... absolutely delicious!

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Here's the table we set up in the living room, to seat six. I went with blue, gold and red to complement the colors of the room.

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A pretty turkey platter that's been in the family for generations ...

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As I arranged the flowers, I kept a few itty bitties in cordial glasses - something nice for my kitchen windowsill!

Turkey tea lights

I found these tiny turkey tealights in a bag of silk leaves - completely forgot we had them!

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A coffee station was set up in the living room ... my folks brought up their Keurig for the day. :)

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You all know how I feel about punch! There must be punch at all parties. This one was a simple mix of cranberry juice concentrate, Sprite and sparkling apple-cranberry cider. Apple slices floating on top made a nice touch!

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The bar was set up on the kitchen jetty, on the kitchen nook side so as to keep traffic out of the kitchen proper (where my Mum and I were busy getting stuff done!) ...

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But not so busy we couldn't pause for a picture - and a cocktail!

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Speaking of cocktails - aren't these the prettiest cocktail napkins you ever did see?

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Dinner was served!

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The dining table, in browns, golds and magenta ...

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I LOVE November mums! Especially mine ... :)

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Desserts were served in the living room as window candles came on all over the house ... we had an assortment of pies, the aforementioned cupcakes and apple crisp, sticky toffee pudding and even pumpkin ice cream!

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From my family to yours ... Happy Thanksgiving! Looking forward to celebrating Advent with you all starting next week!

Thanks so much for joining me here today and letting me share our holiday with you. I hope you all had a nice day, too, and that your weekend ahead will bring some peace and refreshment. I will have a follow-up "simplicity tea" post to share tomorrow and then on Monday ... our first Advent Tea! We'll be talking about "gifts from the heart" and I would love to hear from you on that subject ... and any other tea notes you'd like to share. 

See you all here again very soon ...

My Thanksgiving Tea Journal, 2015

Thanks tea button

Happy Monday, my friends! It's Thanksgiving week here in America, quite possibly my favorite week all year! All over the country, folks are traveling home to their families, looking forward to a day of togetherness, thankfulness ... and feasting! I love spending this week spiffing up my home and setting tables and baking stuff and listening to music ... but most of all, I love that deep sense of just HOW blessed we are to be doing all of this in the first place. To have loved ones to gather with, and a warm, safe home to gather in ... food to put on the table, with some extra to share.

So today I am kicking off my Advent Tea Journal, with a post that is - ok, yes - several days ahead of Advent. But I wanted to start our journey before we get swept up in the season! Does a weekly teatime sound good to you? A brief time each week to sit down (in our cozy nests) and share how we're living the season? 

Well here's what I'm dong on my end! On this Monday and those to come in December, I will share my tea journal notes along with some photos of my home and holiday preparations ... and then I will touch upon our weekly discussion theme. (This week: Simplifying the Season.) And I would LOVE to have you join me! You can leave me a comment here, or send me an email with your own notes and pics, or perhaps link me up with a post at your own blog! (Feel free to grab the tea button here or in this post.) We'll continue our conversation throughout the week, and I'll add you in as the days go by - no rush to get me something by Monday!

> bysunandcandle AT gmail DOT com <

Now onward with our Thanksgiving Tea ... are you settled in and ready to chat? :)

What refreshments am I enjoying this week?

Thanks tea 5

My Thanksgiving Tea shown above is a bit "rustic and random" - not quite the "Victoria" moment I had originally envisioned, lol - but all that color and clutter is who I am these days! A sturdy (inexpensive) acorn mug and some ginger cookies to share with my little guy ...

And here's my cute little tea box, a gift from my sister-in-law:

Thanksgiving tea 3

I keep a LOT of tea on hand - some of you might remember my tea drawer from years back? Well nowadays my main tea stash is kept in my pantry, but I like to use this nifty box for holding the teas I'm drinking currently. It holds plenty of packets and fits nicely in a kitchen cabinet. (You could do something similar with a basket or divided tin.)

As for the cookies, well, you all know I love to bake ... but sometimes baking a batch of scratch cookies just doesn't mesh with the overall busy-ness of the household. (And this would be one of those weeks!) But these break-apart cookies are made from natural ingredients so Earlybird can enjoy them along with the rest of us. They could be frosted but honestly, they're even better on their own - they're quite yummy and the seasonal spices really come through!

What am I reading this week?

Thanks tea 4

Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids

I've had this book on my shelf for a while now - almost two years! - and I've read bits and pieces, but I'd like to go through it chapter by chapter, slowly but surely. This premise resonates with me, yet I'm a great one for making things more complicated than they need to be. With an eye toward the New Year (as I think about general goals and plans for the months to come as well as our home environment) I'm trying to create a slower world for myself and my kids. More on that as we move forward through the season!

What am I listening to this week?

Do you enjoy listening to music in your nest? I find my normal "household soundtrack" provides plenty of erm, stimulation so to say, so any added sound can be a bit much ... but I do love some music at the holidays!

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This traditional song is pretty much is all I need, and belted out with gusto by small voices is best. This is a page from a beautiful little book of poems, a thoughtful and generous gift from a reader last year. But I also love listening to music from A Charlie Brown Thankgiving and George Winston's Autumn as well as this gorgeous song. Do you have any favorite Thanksgiving music?

What am I working on this week?

We have the honor of hosting our family's Thanksgiving so that's my focus this week! There's a lot that goes into planning a season or holiday, and trying to keep things simple is a challenge! But I have found by starting early, I have a much better chance of maintaining a less frenetic atmosphere - for myself and those around me! And this "peace" contributes greatly to a simplified season. So here are some of the things I've been working on ahead of Thanksgiving ...

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Once we know how many guests to expect, we can decide which tables to use and where to arrange them as well as what tablecloths and napkins to prepare. About a week ahead of the holiday I find a day when I will be home for several hours - then I can wash and dry and fold the linens without any lag time in-between. We all know what happens when we only finish part of the laundering cycle - smelly, wrinkled linens! Then out comes the iron or we have to start all over again ...

The other thing is, if I leave this task too close to Thanksgiving, it feels like a chore ... I feel rushed and even (in my less generous moments) a bit put-upon. By doing things like this well ahead of time, at a time of my choosing, I focus instead on the beauty of it. I think about the people coming to dine with us, at our table, and how nice the setting will look for them. In this way, I focus on the pleasure of the chore, not the pressure of it.

How about tablescapes then? This is another thing I like to think about early, so I can be a little thoughtful and creative with it ... as well as economical!

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There will be flowers for sure - I can never resist fresh blooms at the holidays - but I also like to tap into the treasures to be found in our very own yard. Acorns, pinecones, dried flowers and weeds, interesting rocks, colorful leaves - the possibilities are endless! A lovely activity would be to take the children on a "gathering walk" early in the month of November. (Earlier the better if you want a small share of the acorn crop!) Here we have some glass bowls filled with our acorn stash and a small beeswax tea light candle. I may even tuck some autumn leaves under the globes. Now, you could use any bowls you have on hand ... and if you can't find acorns, cranberries from the market would also be beautiful! Once Thanksgiving is over, we will scatter these seeds on the deck ... and watch them disappear!

Here are some of my pretty baking pans - easy to collect, hard to give away!

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 But when we're blessed, we want to bless others back. It's a great theme to work on at this time of year, especially with children! Because the simplest way to celebrate this season (and the next) is to just give. Give to others, give of ourselves ... it's a sure path to joy! That's a message I want my children to learn and practice in their own life as they grow. There will be more on this particular theme next week, but for now, how about setting aside time to bake together and make some extra for those people who have helped us or befriended us in some way?

Here's a little bit of a story, but I hope you'll indulge me. So this is a big deal for my 13-year-old Earlybird: making friends and learning to be a friend. He's autistic and we're working with a wonderful therapist on getting him out in the community, learning how to conduct his affairs in a polite and practical manner. Well, those folks who take the time to help him - even just a friendly greeting each time we see them - are blessing our son in ways they don't even realize. So this year we're baking breads (something EB loves to do) and bringing them to those special people in our life ...

Like the librarian who patiently helps him check out his planet books and train DVDs, the pizza place owner who greets him heartily and lets him visit the kitchen (and asks after EB when he's not with us), the grocery store clerk who gives him a high-five and tells him he's doing a great job (and then quietly tells me the same), the neighbor who lets him visit her henhouse and take home an egg, the therapist who works with him every single day and tells him over and over how awesome he is ...

These people can't know just how deeply they are blessing us, and a bread is a pretty small gesture, but one I hope will bless them back, even a little. No, it won't make my week simpler to bake with my son and deliver breads around town, but it will make us feel good ... and maybe a few others, too. :)

What's happening in nature?

Now this was the part where I was going to attempt sharing a short video ... but alas, I did not get very far! (In other words, Bill left for work before I got his help with it!) I would very much like to try this sometime soon, and as it happens Bill is home all week after today ... so we shall see! I can tell you it is bright and brisk here today, very "Thanksgiving in New England." :) A beautiful buck crossed our road on the way to Mass early yesterday morning ... he stopped and looked back at us from a frosty field. Gorgeous. And birds are furiously flocking to the feeders (squirrels, too) but no wild turkeys to report ...

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Well, except for these guys who I found at CVS for $2 each. I buy these foil-wrapped candies every year "for the kids" but they lend a little color and whimsy to our buffet. :)

A project with the children this week ...

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Here's our living room mantle, adorned with a garland of family blessings. We're in the home stretch now - there are only a few blank leaves left in the basket! This was a very simple project, but the message I'm hoping it imparts to my children is that we are grateful for all of God's blessings, and that every good thing comes from Him. Some blessings are BIG, but lots of them are little. In fact, if you were to read through our leaves they would not impress you with meaningful remarks on the Big, Important Things ... but they might make you smile with their simple, sweet, smallness:

"the cats "

"pears and hot dogs"

"packages in the mail"

"dirty boots"


Sometimes I think by focusing on the simple joys in life, we train ourselves in a kind of habit - a mindfulness that prepares us to see the big things for how great they really are. I think this is something really important to share with our children, but equally important to remember ourselves.

Words to inspire:

 "Life holds so many simple blessings, each day bringing its own individual wonder."

~ John McLeod

What a lovely quote for my season's journal ... it says perfectly what I'm always rambling on about in a very roundabout way. ;)

Oak leaves branch
Well, my friends, I'd best let you go ... I've kept you here long enough! But 
I hope you enjoyed my Thanksgiving tea Journal ... and I would love to hear from you, too!

What refreshments are you enjoying this week?

What are you reading this week?

What are you listening to this week?

What are you working on this week?

What's happening in nature this week?

Any projects with the children this week?

(and finally)

Any quotations to share, some words to inspire?

I'd love to see your tea, hear about your tea, your week and/or your thoughts on keeping it simple. This will be a good topic to discuss as we head into the "most wonderful time of the year." Is there ever a time when "keeping things simple" is harder to manage than in the weeks leading up to Christmas?

Comments, email, links - ooh, and nest pics! - all are welcome! More on Advent and simplifying our seasons in my following posts. We have many weeks of tea to come and lots of areas to discuss! I am hoping to use this weekly "refreshment" as a chance to sit back and take stock. Am I keeping it real? Am I staying true to the season?

For a look ahead, please click over to this post for my full tea schedule. And remember, all are welcome - brief comments or lengthy posts. I appreciate each and every contribution.

Thanks so much for stopping by, my friends! Enjoy your tea, and the evening to follow, and I will see you here again very soon!

Thinking out loud: Thanksgiving plans

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Good Wednesday morning, my friends! It's quite early here ... as in, really, really early. Our aptly pseudonym-ed third son, Earlybird, has been rising well before 6 a.m. lately so our days have been getting a real "efficiency" boost. I know most people don't see the appeal in getting out of bed while it's still dark and cold - and, quite frankly, it really isn't all that appealing in the moment because that bed is just so darn cozy - but by mid-morning, when I've gotten a nice head start on my daily tasks and I'm on my second third cup of coffee - well by golly, I am just HUMMING right along.

So here I am at 7 a.m. and I've gone over my agenda and I've made a few checks on my task list and I've read through my daily devotions - both spiritual and practical - and I thought, you know, I should really get a start on my Thanksgiving folder. We're only 15 days away from the big day, after all!

So what does a Thanksgiving folder do, you might wonder? Well, I make one up every year, and it's really not slick or snazzy or even a particular unique idea, but it works for me.

You know, of all the holidays, Thanksgiving is my favorite. For one thing, I love all it celebrates (gratitude, family, harvest, home) and for another, it often falls on my dear mother's birthday (11/26)! So it's a double celebration for our family, and some years we have close to (or more than) 20 people! Hosting a gathering of this size is a blessing and privilege, but it can be a little overwhelming - we want the day to be special and relaxing for everyone! - so my aim is always to start early and be organized! Then, come Thanksgiving, I'll be less consumed with the dinner details and more focused on the deeper meaning of the day. 

(Now, that might be the third cup of coffee talking, but I hope you know what I mean. Anyhoo, back to that folder!)

So inside this folder I place any recipes or crafts or other information I might like to use this year - these are mostly clippings from magazines or print-outs or photocopies. Sometimes there are a few paper-clipped recipe cards. Along the folder tab I place a strip of washi tape on which I have written something clever like, "Thanksgiving, 2015." I also add a pretty turkey sticker because it makes me smile. :)

To the front cover of the folder I staple a sheet (sometimes two) of loose-leaf paper. Here is where I start making my lists: guests • menu (dinner, apps/cocktails, dessert) • table arrangements • serving notes • decorating notes • cleaning • errands • grace

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I even have a tiny calendar in the corner which represents the days left before the holiday and which ones are available for errands or house cleaning or cooking, etc. 

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Now this folder is mainly for "hostess" notes - lists pertaining directly to the family gathering and dinner itself. But there are many other things I plan out ahead of Thanksgiving: crafts/activities with the kids (ex. a gratitude project, table decorations) • parish/community events (ex. a food or clothing drive) • weaving nature in (ex. autumn walks and material gathering) • atmosphere/decoration (ex. garlands and lights) • extras (ex. When will A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving air?) • our Thanksgiving cornucopia of books

Now, all these notes find their collective home in different places at different times. I go back and forth about where it makes the most sense to keep seasonal plans such as these. The main homekeeping binder? The Late Autumn (Nov-Dec) binder? My homemade planner, if I can find the room? In my file crate, perhaps?

Because when a holiday, feast or season is upon us, I like to have my planning pages close at hand - not in some storage spot in the next room. I need to refer to those notes to keep on top of our plans but most of all - whatever does or doesn't get done - all that seasonal inspiration is good for my soul! :)


Well, I could add more about my Thanksgiving prep and I probably will in another post, but as it is now mid-day and I still don't have this post up, I will wrap up  and press "publish." 

But before I go, here's the "help" I had while getting this post done ...

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Good help really is hard to find - especially when it's this cute!


Enjoy the rest of your Wednesday, my friends! I will see you here again sometime soon!

p.s. Oh, I forgot to mention! I have a new "post party" in mind ... with the days growing dark and cold, and the urge to settle in taking hold ... I'm thinking it might be a good time for tea? A weekly gathering to chat about holiday plans? Details to come!

In November: a basket of blessings, a branch of light ...

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November's family focus ~ gratitude and remembrance. Today I will show you one of the projects we have underway ...

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 Like many families, we do an annual gratitude project in the month of November. It has taken many forms over the years, but I generally come back to colorful construction paper and autumnal shapes and themes. This year I decided a blessings branch would be a wonderful thing, and I'm also thinking it might be something we end up using all year long ... but I will get into that at a later date ... for now, here's what we're doing this month.

I began with, as you can see above and below, an array of oak leaves, cut from multi-colored construction paper.

Blessings basket 1

 In addition to (hopefully) fostering an "attitude of gratitude" in my family, this activity will also (hopefully) help my special needs son pace his excitement (and anxiety) and understand just how long it will be before the holiday is here ...

So after cutting out 26 leaf shapes, I placed them in a small basket.

Blessings basket 5

 I told Earlybird that when the basket is empty, Thanksgiving will be here. And I set the basket on the living room windowsill where I have all kinds of seasonal books and decor on display. It is just out of the toddler boy's reach. ;) 

Here's a look at our Thanksgiving window ... 

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Blessings basket 9

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 You might notice there is a space there in the book display - that would be so Oliver (the cat) can get up in the window and look outside at the birds. This is one of his favorite lounging spots and he'd only be knocking over books if I didn't leave him a little space. ;)

Ok, so what about this branch then, you must be wondering?

Well, a couple of weekends ago I chose a good-sized branch from our log pile - one with no apparent bugs and only a small amount of lichen - and asked Bill to drill four evenly spaced holes ...

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A few minutes later (truly, it took him less then 10), I had this:

Blessings branch 3

Four tea-light holes!

Blessings branch 2

I filled those holes with some lovely beeswax tea lights, purchased at a farmer's market this summer. When lit, or warm from the sun, they smell heavenly ...

The branch is now sitting on our living room mantle which has been decorated for the month of November ...

Blessings basket 8

Blessings branch 15

Blessings branch 13

Now, here's where the blessings part comes in ...

Each day we'll take one leaf out of the basket and write down what each of us is grateful for on that day. Then we'll hang the leaf on a length of twine that is strung along the front of the mantel.

Blessings basket 10

(I keep the hole-punch handy for this purpose.)

On Sundays - there are four between November 1st and Thanksgiving Day - we will light one of our candles and look over the leaves from the week. We'll say a little prayer, remembering it is God we have to thank for all these good things! And before we know it will be Thanksgiving Day, and we'll have a whole row of pretty leaves to admire!


Our other November project is one that fosters remembrance, and I will have a post up about that sometime soon. I can give you a sneak peek, though ...

Remembrance 1

More to come soon!

Well my friends, thanks so much for stopping by ... I hope you are all having a good week! Tomorrow I will be back with another guest planner post ... hope to see you here then!

Our Thanksgiving Day, 2014

  Thanksgiving 50

Happy Friday, my friends!

I hope you all had a nice week - and a lovely Thanksgiving Thursday, if you are American like me. We had a wonderful holiday and I'd like to share a few some a LOT of pictures from our day if I may ... some food, some family and some festive touches around my home. :)

Thanksgiving 4

Love this sign my mother bought ~ I'm grateful for all those things!

Thanksgiving 8

 This is my grandmother's crystal punch bowl, filled with this year's "signature holiday cocktail" -  a Bourbon Wine Punch. I am such a sucker for punch! This was a mixture of chilled white wine, bourbon, cranberry juice, lime juice, sprite and frozen grapes. I added sliced apples for an autumn touch. It was so very yummy.

Thanksgiving 6

Thanksgiving cupcakes - made by my mum and decorated by my boys. My initial plan had been to make "turkey cupcakes" but as the hour drew late, I called uncle. I think I like them like this even more. The chocolate frosted ones were made in such a way that my sensitive EB could still indulge.

Thanksgiving 3 

Some pretty candies on the windowsill ...

Thanksgiving 10

My brother in his silly turkey hat. :)

Thanksgiving 9

Crackerjack with my Aunt Marcia who brought, amongst other things, this delicious shrimp dip - a family favorite.

Thanksgiving 61

Mum and me - two cooks in the kitchen! But I bet you can guess which one of us was responsible for this situation:

Thanksgiving 11

This would be burnt crostini tossed onto the front doorstep ... in a snow-filled planter, no less. There were smoke alarms blaring inside and I might have panicked a bit. Lol.

(Luckily I bought a LOT of French bread!)

Thanksgiving 13

Here I am with my Earlybird, who had a great day after a bit of a rocky start. Party prep sets him on edge, but once his loved ones arrived, he relaxed and enjoyed himself.

Thanksgiving 20

My cousin, Kate and her husband, Paul - their first Thanksgiving as husband and wife!

Thanksgiving 46

We served appetizers and drinks in the sunroom ... I like spreading the party out as much as possible. Keep bodies - and conversation - moving!

Thanksgiving 48

The aforementioned shrimp dip ... so good. I have a real weakness for this stuff.

Thanksgiving 14

A Thanksgiving Blessing Snack Mix: Bugles, pretzels, sunflower seeds, dried cranberries, m&m's. I think there was supposed to be candy corn too, but they got used up on the cupcakes. I found the recipe on Pinterest.

Thanksgiving 15

 Cranberry jam-goat cheese toasties - a recipe from Family Fun Magazine.

Thanksgiving 16

 Desserts of all kinds lining the windowsill ... pies, cake and cookies!

Thanksgiving 64

This is a Gingery Pear-Apricot Pie , a recipe I found in Woman's Day Magazine. It called for a crust made up of overlapping pastry cut-outs - which looks neat, but is very labor-intensive. It had a nice filling though - pears, dried apricots, golden raisins, real grated ginger, orange zest ... 

Thanksgiving 17

 Yes, that's snow you see out there - we had a white Thanksgiving this year!

Thanksgiving 56

We had two tables for our party of 14; the first was set for eight in the dining room ...

Thanksgiving 23

And the second was set for six in the living room.

Thanksgiving 41

 I like how this table fits in this room, and might keep it here for crafts and homeschool projects. Without the china and glass, of course. 

Thanksgiving 49

 Our Bookworm, home from BC, where he is a sophomore this year.

Thanksgiving 60

 Little Bear was napping till the very last minute - he woke up just after grace!

Thanksgiving 24

"Who's coming to my house?"

Thanksgiving 29

 Loving a new ride-on toy, a gift from Grandma and Grandpa.

Thanksgiving 28

Hard to believe this little guy is now 18 months old. Such joy he brings to our family!

Thanksgiving 34

My mother's birthday cake - a cranberry spice cake with cream cheese frosting, dried cranberries and golden candles ... November's colors!

(Note my brother photo-bombing the shot.)

Thanksgiving 36

The living room mantel all aglow at the end of the day ...

Thanksgiving 38

 My four boys, relaxing after dinner ... so good to have them all home!

Thanksgiving 25

Pretty lights ... a taste of things to come. :)


Well my friends, thank you so much for letting me share these pictures (and my thoughts) with you all. I just love Thanksgiving - it is perhaps my favorite of all the holidays! But I am now turning my attention to the season of Advent which begins this Sunday! And I will be back on Monday with my next Tea Journal post and some thoughts on the new season ... until then I wish you all a very happy weekend!

See you here again very soon ...

My Tea Journal ~ Thanksgiving Week

November tea 13

Happy Monday, my friends, and welcome! I'm so glad you could stop by. Would you care to join me for tea? 

This is one of my favorite weeks all year. Thanksgiving is upon us and folks are bustling about, making their way homeward. Families are reunited, nostalgia abounds, and home cooks are doing what they do best: taking care of their families ... feeding them, body and soul! 

I think it's clear I am someone who likes to look for the simple joys in life. I have always felt this way and try to bring that positivity to my blog as much as I can. We all know life is not always (often, ever?) perfect or easy - but there is always much for which to be grateful. Family and home, good health, good work, good food, good friends. And always, above all, God's love and grace. More than anything, I hope and pray my boys are blessed by all of these things throughout their lives ...

In my weekly teatime journal, I hope to sit down and take a moment to feel grateful for, not just the "biggies" (as mentioned above) but also, the little things that I might easily overlook or take for granted. I would love to have you join me when you are able. :)

(And let me just say right here and now, I am grateful for every one of you dear people who take the time to stop by and read whatever I might have to share. I am humbled to think you spend some of your time here and honored by your encouragement and friendship.)

Now, I'm still sort of piecing together how these teatimes will work ... how I'll make them happen for myself and how I will share them with you all. (I fear this first one is a bit rambly.) So please bear with me as I find my way, but for today, here are some pictures of my teatime and the happy things surrounding me right now ...

November tea 5

 Thankgiving decorations along the mantel ...

November tea 2

A few favorite seasonal books ...

November tea 4

Vases along a sunny windowsill, stuffed with a last bit of autumn. 

November tea 7

A lovely "vintage book" filled with children's poems and prayers.

November tea 8

One pretty tablecloth, fairly new ...

November tea 12

And another, fairly old ... but much loved. This woven cloth belonged to my grandmother and was one of her most often used kitchen linens. It's faded now, but so very soft, and I love the memories it brings to mind ... 

November tea 9 

And I think it looks rather pretty beneath an apple-filled cornucopia. :)

November tea 10

A lovely season's greeting card. (I like to prop special cards on a small art stand like this. Gets them out of the mail basket and into the open!)

November tea 11

 A cocktail napkin for Turkey Day, featuring Good Ol' Mister Tom, himself. 


 My Tea Journal for 11/24/14 

In the Natural World ...

The day started out drizzly and gray - wonderful tea-drinking weather! Though strangely warm for this time of year, as well and overcast skies parted as the afternoon waned. There's a rather large flock of robins in the neighborhood that seem out of place (though are quite welcome) in November.

What I'm drinking (and eating!) ... 

My cup (pictured at the top of the page) is an old favorite. Part of a set I grew up with, famliar in my parents' kitchen cabinets. They're mine (and Bill's) now and I think they originally came from Vermont. Which of course, makes them all that more special to me. :) Today I'm drinking Constant Comment Decaf - another old favorite of mine and just right for the holiday season: black tea + orange + spices. Quite fitting for Thanksgiving, too - the blend was first formulated by a home cook here in New England!

To nibble on: a couple of THESE COOKIES which OMgoodness I cannot stop eating. My parents gave me a box last month - well, they gave it to US, but they quickly became MINE - and I am hooked. Hooked, I tell you. For me, they are quite possibly the perfect cookie - buttery and dense with a scant touch of salt. The kind of cookie I truly have no business ordering in bulk.

 What I'm reading ...  

Not a lot right now - too busy! But I did get this from the library after reading an interesting review and I also picked up this today (again from the library). Magazines are piling up - the Christmas issues look amazing.

What I'm working on ... 

Aside from Thanksgiving Day preparations, I am also working on my Advent planner and the kids' Advent calendar. I'm using library pockets, index cards and stickers - and I will post about it very soon!

Words to inspire gratitude ...

 For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson  


And now, I'm very grateful to two dear friends, longtime readers, Michelle and Emma, for sharing their thoughts on teatime ...

From Michelle:

Good Afternoon Dawn! I am sitting here reading your blog with a hot cup of apple cider. So yummy on this wintery day in Indiana and to go along with it 5 inches of snow! It was so beautiful this morning to awake to a winter wonderland. This is our first snowfall for the season and my boys are loving it. I am so excited that you will be starting up your Tuesday teas again. When the boys were younger we would have tea/story time. I would try to coordinate the tea and sweet treat (of course) to go along with the book. One of our favorites was a gingerbread tea with a little dab of sugar. Precious memories! Thanks for letting me share.

 And from Emma:

 Dear Dawn. Thank you for making me even more mindful for all my everyday blessings, you and your blog are so dear to my heart. Tea time in my kitchen: a favorite cup of warm, sweet earl grey, a piece of pumpkin gingerbread cake, the last Autumn greeting to mail out later today, a shopping list  - and in the background a CD with Thanksgiving hymns and one of my very favorite Yankee Candle" Cranberry Chutney", so wonderful. A calm, joy filled moment. Thank you for inviting me, have a lovely afternoon.

November tea 16

Thank you for the lovely thoughts and kind words, Michelle and Emma!

I would be so happy to hear from more friends about their teatimes this week (or next week or whenever you are able). If you'd like to participate - with words and/or pictures - please send me an email at your earliest convenience ...

>> <<

I look forward to hearing from you!

Next Monday we'll begin our Advent Teas, so there will be lots to to talk about and share. Some thoughts on our hopes and ideas for the season ... so please stay tuned! 

But before I go, how about a recipe for the week? If you were all coming for tea I might make this since it is so seasonal and yummy-sounding! (I'm making it for Thanksgiving, so I'll let yo know how it turns out!)

Cranberry Spice Cake



1/2 cup unsalted butter

3/4 cup sugar

3 large eggs

1 cup currants

1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts

1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon cloves

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt 

1 cup jellied cranberry sauce 

1 tablespoon orange zest


 Cranberry Cream Cheese Frosting


1/2 cup dried cranberries, chopped

 3 tablespoons orange juice

 1/2 cup (4 oz.) cream cheese, softened 

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened

 Pinch of salt 

1 pound confectioner's sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a tube pan or two 8" round pans.


For the Cake


In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping the bowl after beating each egg in. Stir in the currants and nuts. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves, baking soda and salt; mix into the sugar mixture. Stir in the cranberry sauce and orange zest.

Pour evenly into the tube pan or divide between the round pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the cake begins to pull back from the edges of the pan(s). Remove from the oven and cool completely before frosting.

For the Frosting

In a medium microwave-safe bowl, combine the cranberries and orange juice. Microwave for 30 seconds in high, to allow the fruit to soak up the juice. In another medium bowl, mix the cream cheese, butter and salt until no lumps remain. Add the confectioner's sugar and mix well. Add any unabsorbed orange juice, and vanilla and mix until creamy. Use the cranerries for garnish or mix into the frosting as you please.

Yield: 16 servings

(From The Baking Sheet (published by King Arthur Flour) which is SADLY going out of print. I have many years' worth of back issues. Earlybird loves to read them as well.)


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


Thursday Thoughts & Dinner Plans

Thanksgiving plate

"Cooking demands attention, patience, and above all, a respect for the gifts of the earth. It is a form of worship, a way of giving thanks."

~ Judith B. Jones

This is a wonderful quote to ponder, don't you think? Especially so close to Thanksgiving!

Today I am working out the final details of our holiday dinner ... talking it over with my mum, looking through my folder, writing out final lists. We usually stick to a pretty familiar meal plan but we also like to work in a few new twists. There must, of course, be roast turkey - as well as stuffing, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie ... but we can have a little fun with apps, drinks, desserts and sides. Are you trying any new recipes this year?

I thought you might like to hear what we're serving next Thursday ... and if you have a moment, I'd love to hear about your dinner plans!

Drinks & Apps

Thanksgiving Cocktail: cran-apple bourbon punch

Also: cold beer, cider, wine, asst. soda

Shrimp Dip

Thanksgiving blessings snack mix

baked brie with figs and pistachios

cranberry jam toasties


sweet and sour cippolini with goat cheese on crostini

Main Meal

roast turkey

stuffing (plain and "dressed up")

cranberry sauce (canned and homemade)

mashed potatoes




peas and/or beans

soft dinner rolls

brown bread muffins


cheddar-chive biscuits



assorted pies (tbd)

cranberry spice cake

maple cream liqueur (if I have time!)

and perhaps ...

sweet potato cupcakes with toasted marshmallow topping

(because they just sound uncommonly good)


Now, my friends, I must stress to you all that I am not making all of this (or even most of it) myself! My mum does the bulk of the cooking, while family and friends bring along contributions. I generally make a couple of desserts and an appetizer or two, the biscuits/muffins as well as the signature cocktail. I do love to cook, but I especially enjoy organizing tables and dishes and centerpieces and trying to be sure the house is all tidy and arranged for comfortable socializing ...

Which is why I have all these lists!

Speaking of lists, I'm also working on my Advent plans this week because the season comes up rather quickly once Thanksgiving is over. Lots to think about, much to plan ... but I will talk more about that subject next Monday when we gather for tea.


Hope you all enjoy the rest of your Thursday ... see you here again very soon!

A Monday Hello ... and Tea notes

Mary melcher card

Isn't this the sweetest illustration? Doesn't it capture the colors and feel of a November day? This is a detail from a Thanksgiving card designed by one of my favorite artists, Mary Melcher. Are you at all familiar with her work? She mostly does greeting cards but has also illustrated a few children's books. (One of Little Bear's favorites, in fact: Good Morning, Sun.) I can never resist her cards - they're hard to find, but I snatch them up when I find them - and those I wish to actually send I buy in double!


Alas, November does not look quite so lovely today as it does in that card; it's a cold, wet and rather gloomy Monday here in New England! A good day to stay in and fortify oneself with warm socks, comfort food and hot cups of tea ... if at all possibile. :)

And speaking of tea, a week from today we'll begin our Advent Tea gatherings. Advent does not actually begin until November 30th, but I thought it would be nice to have tea during Thanksgiving week. So next Monday we'll talk about gratitude and sharing life's blessings, as well as our hopes for the season ahead. I usually have tea (baby-willing) around 4 p.m. so my post will go up around then (or just thereafter). If you have a blog and would like to join me at tea, please send me a link and let me know! Or, blog or not, if you'd like to send me pictures and comments to include in my post (how do you do tea?), I would love it. You can send me submissions for our November 24th Tea here:


But for now I will wish you all a good day and hope to see you here again very soon. And as always, thanks so much for stopping by!

Enjoy your Monday, my friends ...

My Thanksgiving Day Planner

Thanksgiving folder 1

Hello and Happy Wednesday, my friends!

I'm coming to you from Crackerjack's computer once again - good old CJ, he's very patient with his mom - but there's a light at the end of the indisposed-laptop tunnel. I.e. I might have it back soon!

What had happened you see - which I could barely stand to mention I was so distraught - was that when Bill did the backup, and then went to restore my saved "old stuff" (for lack of a more technological term) onto my brand spankin' new hard drive - only a few things actually transferred. Some documents, a few folders ... and that was it. NONE of our precious photo library seemed to have been saved ...

So as you can imagine, we were quite upset. Incredulous, frustrated  ... but mostly, just so very upset. Well, fast-forward several ideas, suggestions and keystrokes later, and - *knock on wood* *fingers crossed* - it seems we've recovered the photos and they are slowly being restored. 


So, anyhoo - on to today's subject. I thought I'd write up a quick little post about my Thanksgiving Day Planner. I've talked about it here before - I use the same format every year - but I thought for new readers (or those readers who, like me, can talk planners incessantly, lol) I'd revisit the topic.

Now, I suppose it's mostly folks who host the actual dinner who would be in need of a Thanksgiving Day "planner." But whether you're hosting or not - and especially if you have children - there can be a lot to work into the celebration of this beloved American holiday ...

Books to read, songs to sing, foods to enjoy, crafts to make, tv shows to watch - and traditions to uphold and begin!

Bill and I are blessed with a large family as well as the honor of serving dinner each year at our home. And we always have such fun with the endeavor - but admittedly, it's a lot of work! So a planner of some sort is a must if we're going to get it all done. There are lists to make and recipes to clip and craft ideas to consider ... and time is already a-tickin! So I set up my T-Day planner just before the first of the month.

I find a file-folder format most useful for entertaining events (holidays and parties, etc.). I can staple a master time-frame/brainstorm page on the front cover and inside keep all the loose items like lists and magazine clippings ...

It's as basic as that, but it works!

On the calendar I write in when we'll do what (shop, farm pickup, bake pies, set tables, polish silver, wash wineglasses, iron linens ...). I look at my master monthly calendar first (the one in my planning binder) and see where there is time to get things done - what days we'll be home and what days I can run errands. I also jot down random "Thanksgiving" joys that come to me.

And finally, of course, I add stickers and washi tape. Just to make it all pretty.


My planning lists include (in case you're interested):



Cleaning/To-Do List

Baking/Cooking Timetable

Crafts/Activities with Kids

Decorating/Table Settings




I'm keeping the folder front and center at my planning station so I can add to it/consult it each day.

Folder 4

So there you have it - a quick (ish) look at my Thanksgiving Day Planner!

Please let me know if you have any questions and as always, I'd love to hear about your Thanksgiving plans! 

In the meantime, thanks so much for stopping by, and take care ...

I'll see you here again very soon!

Counting our Blessings (2014)

Turkey 7

Many people enjoy creating and keeping a gratitude project throughout the month of November. For parents, this can be a simple but meaningful way to share the joy of a thankful heart with our children. (And a good reminder for ourselves!)

We've enjoyed gratitude projects for many years, and I always like to tweak things a bit - stretching my creative muscle and appealing to the boys on a new level. This year I thought I'd make something very kid-friendly, colorful and fun - I was looking to involve Earlybird especially as he seems to be really coming into his own this year. Leaving the sidelines and getting into the thick of things. :) So I decided to use the the kitchen wall as a base, which is a conveniently central location. No missing this spot, no sir!

I started with the red poster board hanging between our two maps - this has been the base for our sticky note classroom calendar. I made a turkey shape out of a paper plate bottom ...

Turkey 2

EB and I colored the bottom of this plate brown, orange and gold as you see ... I then used construction paper to cut out a turkey head, beak and wattle. The eyes I drew with a black Sharpie pen on plain white adhesive labels.

Next, I cut feather shapes - one for each day in November leading up to Thanksgiving (27 this year) ...

Turkey 3

(I used a library pocket to hold the feathers-in-waiting.)

Then I used several harvest-hued post-it-notes, some round, red-rimmed labels and colorful alphabet stickers to title our project: "Blessings." The purple underscore is a length of Washi tape. Have I confessed my passion for Washi tape to you all? :)

Turkey 8

 So here's how it looked on November 1st ...

Turkey 4

And here's how it will look eventually ...

Turkey 1

Except the feathers will all be filled out with our blessings ...

Turkey 6

No blessing is too small or silly ... we write them all down!


So far so good! It's fun to add our daily feather - a really nice way to get the boys thinking about the good things that happened/they noticed. And I love all that color in my kitchen! In fact, I'm thinking this might be a great spot for our Advent calendar at the end of the month ... I'll have to give that project some thought!

Tomorrow I will show you my Thanksgiving Planning Folder ... a place to keep all my lists and clippings for the holiday!


Thanks so much for stopping by today ... hoping your Tuesday's been a good one! See you here again very soon ...

Happy Saints' Day! (and Hello!)

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

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

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


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

O Tom Brady

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

Halloween 2

The treats table all arranged in the foyer ...

Halloween 5

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

Halloween 3

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

Halloween 7

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

Halloween 8


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

All Saints Cake

The boys were rather pleased.


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

Gratitude project 1

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

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

My Thanksgiving Journal: Photos & Notes

Happy Friday, my friends!

I hope you all had a nice Thursday, however you spent it. Here in my corner of the world, we celebrated a beautiful Thanksgiving Day - it was quite bright and brisk! Very cold for this time of year - a taste of things to come? - but despite the chilly day outside, it was warm and cozy inside. And how much fun I had organizing our first holiday in our new home! My mum, as always, was a huge help to me ... coming over almost daily to assist with the children and the chores around the house. Lots of work, yes, but a lot of fun, too.

So if you'll bear with me, I have many, many photos to share. As you know, this blog serves as my family scrapbook (as well as my creative outlet!), so in my posts you'll find lots of family photos mixed in with pictures of food and "finery".

Well enough of my rambling, here's what Thanksgiving looked at my house this year.


 Lots of decorations were set out around the house ...

Thanks 2

Thanks 6

Thanks 9


Thanks 50

Thanks 10

Thanks 48 

Thanks 49

And the rooms were (re)arranged for entertaining ...

The "bar" was set up in the sunroom (as well as a tv for parade and football viewing) ...

Thanks 4 

Thanks 53

Our signature Thanksgiving cocktail this year: the apple-ginger whiskey sour:

Apple ginger whiskey sour

(This picture was taken on Thanksgiving eve, when Bill got a sneak peek, or should I say, taste.) We also served a sparkling cranberry punch that was non-alcoholic.

Desserts and coffee were served in the living room ...

  Thanks 51 

And there were appetizers in the family room ...

Thanks 17 

Two tables were set; one for eight in the breakfast nook ...

Thanks 52

And another for 11 in the dining room ...

Thanks 54

At each place setting, a paper oak leaf was tied to the napkin; these were used for writing down our blessings after dinner.

Thanks 24

The turkey went in around 7:30 a.m. ...

Thanks 12

It would be served (in part) on this lovely platter, which once belonged to my grandmother ...

Thanks 11 

Meanwhile, as the cooking got underway, Little Bear snuck in a nap ...

Thanks 13

  Around noontime, our family arrived to mingle and make merry ...

Thanks 16 

Thanks 28

Thanks 20

Thanks 27

Thanks 21

Thanks 22

Thanks 46

Thanks 27

Thanks 29

Thanks 30

Thanks 31

Thanks 39

Meanwhile, the turkey came out and more good foods went in ...

Thanks 26

 Like these thyme-roasted cippolini onions ... 

Thanks 23

(I thought the colors were lovely.)

And just look at this adorable "turkey" veggie platter!

Thanks 15 

(I found the idea in a magazine and my aunt put it together for our party.)

Oh, and look who woke up!

Thanks 14

Thanks 18

Thanks 34

Finally (once a few "oven issues" were worked out), dinner was served!

The buffet was arranged on our countertops ...

 Thanks 35

Our dinner menu this year: turkey & gravy, stuffing (with cranberries, apples and sausage), mashed potatoes, roasted brussels sprouts, roasted onions, corn, butternut squash, broccoli casserole, cranberry relish, biscuits & crescent rolls. Everything was so good if I may so - and I may because I really had not a lot to do with it! My mum cooked the bulk of the meal, and a few side dishes were brought by relatives. I made the cranberry relish and breads.

Here we all are, gathering together ...

Thanks 36

Thanks 37

Love all these people, so very much. Every year we're together is a blessing.


Now, after we digested a little, it was time for dessert!

Thanks 38 

There was plenty to choose from, as you can see: pumpkin pie, pecan pie, apple pie, vanilla and eggnog ice cream, lemon bars and blondies. Oh, and a crazy toffee-marshmallow pie I made on a whim. There was also, of course, lots of freshly brewed coffee.

As we enjoyed our desserts, I gathered the "thankful leaves" and read them aloud - we tried to guess who wrote what. I then tied them to a length of twine along the mantel.

Thanks 40

 One last shot - as my family gathered inside, I stole outside to take a picture of the window candles we put up just that morning. I thought the house looked awfully cozy as the sun set in the west ...

Thanks 41


Well my friends, there in a rather large nutshell, was our Thanksgiving Day! It was a truly wonderful holiday - the kind of day that leaves you feeling full in tummy and heart. :)

Thanks so much for letting me share our day with you. And I hope you enjoyed a closer look at our new home - we're still settling in (the garage is still filled with boxes!) but it definitely feels like "home" now ... and with each family gathering, it will a little more.

Have a good evening, everyone ... see you here again very soon!

Bountiful Blessings ...

Thanksgiving card 2

Happy Thanksgiving, my friends! I hope you all have a wonderful day ~ safe travels and joyous gatherings with your loved ones. We are so excited to host our first Thanksgiving in our new home ... we have MUCH to be grateful for this year.

Blessings to you all! I'll see you here again very soon!

"As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them."

~ John Fitzgerald Kennedy

HomeKeeping: 3 Weeks till Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving clipart 1

Happy Thursday, my friends! I hope you are all well.

On my mind today? Organizing (naturally) and the upcoming holidays. Now, we've been hosting our family's Thanksgiving dinner for many years now - it's the holiday I look forward to most! - and yet somehow it always sneaks up on me. For instance, I woke up this morning and thought, Oh my GOODNESS there are just three weeks till Thanksgiving! Only three Thursdays left!

So I sat down and wrote out a list of things that need to be done and what can be done in the next week, specifically. I always feel so much better after making lists, don't you?


(Some of these things might not seem all that "essential" to getting dinner on the table come November 28th, but I'm looking at the big picture. The holiday's about more than just that one day.)

* If I haven't already (and I haven't) organize a folder in which to store holiday planning materials. A place for lists, recipes (like this) and project ideas (like this).

* E-mail our family & friends to formally invite them all up here for Thanksgiving. Make sure everyone has our new address.

* Take walks with the boys to "absorb the season" and gather natural materials for decorating and crafts. (Pinecones, leaves, acorns and the like.)

* Begin a tentative menu - consult with Mum!

* Read through November magazines and clip any new recipes to try.

* Look through pantry and figure out what needs re-stocking.

* Choose seasonal books to read over the next three weeks with Earlybird and Little Bear. Arrange them on display and set aside an afternoon hour for "tea" and stories.

* Revisit the story of the Pilgrims and chart a Mayflower course on our world map.

* Check family clothing - who will wear what? What needs mending/ironing, replacing?

* Once guest list is finalized, decide on tables/seating arrangements.

* Write out a master "chores" list to be accomplished over the next three weeks.

* Pull out (find) A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving to watch with the boys on a dark, gray afternoon.

* Order turkey (once party size is determined).

* Look at calendar and decide which days are open for cleaning and shopping/errands.

* Continue with daily gratitude garland.


How are your holiday plans shaping up so far? Are you hosting any gatherings this year? 

Well, thanks so much for stopping by, everyone ... see you here again sometime soon!

Our Thanksgiving Garland & a November Book

Hello, everyone!

Popping in today to expand a little on a couple of photos I shared last week. First of all, this is our Thanksgiving garland, draped in front of the library mantel ...

Thanksgiving banner mantel 1

Thanksgiving garland up close

This simple project is in lieu of a "grateful tree", and was inspired when I found a large batch of aged construction paper. (My folks found it in their attic, actually!) The paper was butter-soft and the colors were somewhat muted ... perfect for a November craft!

So I made a small ring of paper for each day leading up to Thanksgiving (28 in all) and stapled them closed. It's a bit like a traditional paper chain, only I didn't link them with each other, but rather strung them along a length of ribbon, one after another.

This is a two-part project, plus a learning tool to boot - each day we take off one ring and write on it something for which we are thankful. The pulled strips get placed aside, and as the garland gets smaller, Earlybird can see how time is passing. (Is it Thanksgiving yet, Mom?)

On the holiday itself we will have many "feathers of thanks" to pin on a paper turkey which I will set up. Dinner guests will be able to add feathers of their own.


Now, I also had a couple of folks ask about the book shown in this photo:

November begins 1

This is the November page from Around the Year by Elsa Beskow, one of my beloved "seasonal" books. I have a true love for books that celebrate the changing seasons, whether through recipes and crafts or poetry and pictures. I enjoy including them in our nature and reading displays.


Well my friends, I hope this post finds you well. Our week is off to a nice start so far, and I hope yours is too! Thanks so much for stopping by ...

See you here again sometime soon! 

Friday Photos ~ November begins!

What a blustery start to the month! It's surprisingly mild here, but the wind is gusting like crazy! Can't help but think of that Clare poem: "I love the fitful gusts that shake The casement all the day ... "

Just a few photos from this week ... how I love the colors at this time of the year! Not fiery and vibrant like October, but more subdued and mellow. Earth's getting sleepy it seems ...

Owen blustery day 3

Autumn sunset with chickens

November begins 1

November begins 3

November begins 4

Farm 10

Farm 12

Farm 13

Farm 15

Farm 17

Farm 18

Farm 20

 Don't forget to "Fall Back" this Saturday night! How will you spend that extra hour Sunday morning?

Have a great weekend, my friends!

Happy Friday, My Friends!

Here's the view outside my window right now, as I savor my second cup of coffee and the silence of sleeping children ...

Deer out front 3


A few Several things on my mind as we head into another autumn weekend ...

* Here in New England we are indeed enjoying a St. Luke's Little Summer ... it will be sunny and 70 degrees today! This calls for a cookout, I think. I was able to find Earlybird's special hot dogs at Whole Foods yesterday, so that works out nicely.

 * Thinking about this year's Gratitude Tree, an annual project which almost always catches me unawares! I get distracted by all the Halloween hoopla and then suddenly it's the first of November, and time to focus on a new season of grace and gratitude. I'm not sure how we'll do it this year, but I've got plenty of past projects to consider as inspiration: a heart-shaped wreathdangling oak leavesgrateful acorns, happy handprints or perhaps a glowing banner.

* Also thinking about our Thanksgiving Day game plan. Every year we host the family dinner and we usually get quite a big crowd. This will be our first holiday in our new home, and we have more room(s) to play with so I'm very excited to plan out our day. Recently I found a few recipes I want to try this year and that means it's time to start my Turkey Day folder/planner ... I'll pull that together this weekend.

* We have our Christmas picture all set which is a huge relief! Now I'm tinkering with card designs online. I also stopped at the post office last weekend to pick up some holidays stamps which are now available. (Some designs, not all. I bought some "Virgin and Child" stamps, but I am also quite fond of not-yet-released the circular evergreen stamp!)

*  Tracy asked about "Stir Up Sunday" which I mentioned in my Seasonal Rhythm post. This is an old British holiday, traditionally celebrated on the last Sunday before Advent, during which the Christmas pudding is started. I love the idea, but like to follow it a bit differently - on the Sunday after Thanksgiving I like to devote time to homemade gifts and goodies, like perhaps a Christmas fruitcake a la Martha Stewart. (Full disclosure: I've never made said fruitcake, but I still like to "bake and make" on this particular Sunday.)


* And finally ...

Owen in bib 3

My aunt and uncle sent Little Bear an adorable set of Halloween bibs. Had to share this picture of my nearly five month old cub!


Well my friends, I must be off, but once again I'd like to wish you a Happy Friday and a Wonderful Weekend as well. How are things in your neck of the woods? How is your Autumn going? Have you started thinking about the holiday season at all? Or do you put that off until later in the season? I always find myself torn - I certainly don't want to rush things, but I also need to get myself organized as early as possible!

Thanks so much for stopping by, everyone ... I'll see you here again very soon!