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September 2010

Cat Break

Good afternoon, dear readers ...

I am currently working on a file folder post but I'm afraid I won't have it done today ... I've also made up a holiday planner, but that too isn't quite "postable" yet ... so in the meantime, I thought I'd put up this picture of our cat, Smokey. Actually the boys insisted, claiming it's been too long since I've posted about the pets. ;)


He's a grizzled old thing, but so gentle and sweet. He consistently forgets he's been fed ... he meows uncontrollably at 4 a.m. everyday ... and he's never caught a mouse in his very long feline life. 

He also loves to nap in my magazine basket, enjoying the sunshine and a bit of a breeze ... 

Do you own a cat? :)

Wondering Wednesday

I thought a random meme would be and easy and fun post today. If you do this meme at your blog, please leave me a link! :)

1. What's your middle name?

It was Michelle, now it's my maiden name.

2. What's your favorite magazine?

It's too hard to pick just one! I might do a post on magazines soon ...

3. What are you wearing right now?

A Red Sox t-shirt, navy blue shorts, no shoes. 

4. What color are your bed sheets?

Pale blue. 

5. Who was your third grade teacher?

Miss Ciman. (She was awesome!)

6. What is the weather like right now?

Clear and muggy. Ground is wet from overnight rain.

7. Do you know how to ski?

Not well.

8. What was the last thing you drank?

I just took a sip of my coffee.

9. Dream vacation?

In the States ~ Vermont. Abroad ~ Ireland/England.

10. Favorite article of clothing?

For comfort ~ my big soft orange hoodie. For style ~ my new short sleeve, dark gray turtleneck sweater. :)

11. Do you prefer baking or cooking?

I like both, but I prefer baking.

12. Is your hair above or below your shoulders?


13. What drink do you order when out?

A glass of red wine.

14. What book are you reading?

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins.

15. What did you dream about last night?

It's hard to remember - I think it involved cats.

16. What was the last movie you went to?

Hmm ... it may have been How to Train a Dragon.

17. Any injuries at the moment?

Aside from a mosquito bite, nope.

18. What color is your bathroom?


19. What's the state of your laundry right now?

Ugh, it's neverending. I have a huge pile to fold and a good size pile to throw in the wash.

20. Do you take vitamins?

Not anymore.

21. Where do you love to shop?

Barnes & Noble, Whole Foods, Michaels, Williams-Sonoma.

22. How often do you buy groceries?

Once a week at least. Usually a big shop on Saturday and then a quick stop midweek.

23. Do you have a pet/pets?

We have a 19 year old cat named Smokey and a 2 year old fire-bellied toad named Figaro.

24. If you are married, when is your next anniversary?

We celebrate 17 years next month!

25. How do you take your coffee and/or tea?

Coffee ~ extra light with one sugar; tea ~ milk and one sugar.

26. Mac or PC? Desktop or Laptop?

Macbook. :)

27. Favorite month of the year?


28. Do you have a hobby?


29. What salad dressing do you prefer?

Blue cheese if I'm splurging, otherwise a light vinaigrette.

30. Live or fake Christmas tree?

We're going back to a real one this year.

31. Did you walk or take a bus to school?

I walked to grammar school, took a bus to high school.

32. Do you have any phobias?

I'm not so good with heights. Escalators - and to a lesser degree, elevators - freak me out.

33. What's your favorite snack food?

Savory ~ bell peppers and dip. Sweet ~ Peppermint Patties

34. When do you take your shower/bath?

Late afternoon (4-5 p.m.).

35. What time did you get up this morning?

Woke at 2:30 and 4:30 (thanks to Earlybird), but finally got up at 5:30.

36. What's your favorite animal?

The little red squirrel, of course. ;)

37. Have you ever broken a bone?

Two toes a couple of years ago and I cracked a rib this spring.

38. Do you wear makeup?

Yes, but only if I'm going out: blush, eye pencil, mascara, tinted lip gloss.

39. Do you speak any foreign languages?

Not really. I knew French pretty well at one point but I've lost it.

40. Have you ever played a sport?

Not by choice, lol - though I was a cheerleader for several years.

41. Your last UPS package contained ...

Bookworm's lab supplies from Oak Meadow.

42. What's on your desktop?

Autumn leaves.

43. What is your home page?

44. Extrovert or introvert?

I'm actually pretty shy.

45. Favorite board game?

I loved Clue and Yahtzee when I was a kid. I like Taboo now.

46. What class did you like best in high school? In college?

French in high school, and journalism in college.

47. What would you do with an extra hour each day?

Read, probably.

48. Do you have allergies?

I'm allergic to almost every antibiotic known to mankind lol.

49. Are your nails painted? 

Fingers, no. Toes, yes.

50. Where are you right now?

Technically I'm in the dining room, but I'm standing at my kitchen island.


Thanks for checking in today ~ I hope you all have a nice Wednesday! :)

Morning Moaning

So, not the brightest of mornings ... first of all, it's dark, dreary and damp here ... and I woke up with a nagging sore throat, feeling achey all over ... which meant I had to cancel a visit with friends scheduled for later today ... and to top it all off, our Direct TV receiver (the "new" one they sent us a few weeks ago?) burnt out ... again.


But I'm not going to wallow or worry ~ instead I'm going to look on the bright side of things ...

I'm going to start my holiday planning today. :)


(This is an old picture - I'm not this organized yet, lol.)

So I'll be back later (most likely tomorrow) with my progress.

Hope your day's off to a better start than mine!

(ETA - our TV is working again! It was a simple issue Direct was able to fix over the phone. :))

Fun Times at Lego KidsFest


We took the older boys into Lego KidsFest Boston yesterday and it was a really fun time! Lots to see and marvel over - and lots of inspiration for our Lego-crazy kids. :) Rather than slog down this post with the 30-odd pictures I took though, I made up a photo album with pics from our visit. If you'd like to check it out, it's over there on my right-hand sidebar.

Did you all have a good weekend? Ours was nice - busy but fun. I didn't do a lick of lesson planning over the weekend - or any kind of planning for that matter! - so I'm pretty much flying by the seat of my pants this week, lol ...

Anyhoo - things are off to a dark, rainy start here in my corner of the world. Really feels like Fall today and this kind of weather puts me in such a nesting mood. Flannels for the beds, candles for the windows ... definitely an "afternoon cup" kind of day. :)

Well, that's all I have time for at the moment ~ hope your week's off to a good start!

Now, about those index cards ...


Several readers left questions about the weekly index cards I mentioned in Wednesday's post so I thought I'd talk a little about how I use them ... as well as how I've used them in the past ... and how I might use them again in the future. Lol, confused yet?

So, you all know how much I love planners and planning systems, but have I ever confessed how addicted I am to office supplies? I think I probably have - which leads me to believe I've blogged about index cards before - but I can't locate the exact post, so I decided to write up something new ...

I first read about an index card-based chore system years ago in Sidetracked Home Executives. ("We change lives with 3x5's!") This book (originally published in 1977) is a real gem - wonderfully funny and filled with great ideas and plenty of helpful lists. It was after reading the S.H.E. book that I went out and purchased my first few packages of multicolored index cards, tabbed dividers and a small plastic file box. I got it all set up ... tried it for a couple of days (maybe a week) ... and then decided it didn't quite work for me. All the same, I kept the supplies on hand.

(Side note ~ I think a post on office supplies would be fun, don't you?)

Then, a couple of years ago I read a reader tip in Family Fun magazine about using multicolored index cards as a sort of daily to-do planner. I thought it was a fantastic idea so I tried something along those lines (using those stowed away supplies), and again - it worked for about a week - but then I fizzled out.

The bottom line is, I really do like (need) to have some form of daily planning in my life, but it's hard to find a product and/or system that feels right. I'm running a home not an office, so I don't need to plan in 15 minute increments - but I do need a place to write down things to keep in mind on any given day. Lately I've been using a spiral-bound page a day planner (seen in this post) but I remain intrigued by those colorful cards and their possible uses.

(Spoken like a true office-supply junkie, lol!)

For now, I'm using index cards as a means of displaying my weekly routines. On multicolored cards (as shown below) I wrote down my weekly household chores - one card per day of the week - and I posted them near where I work ("command central," as we've discussed). They're a great visual reminder of what to do each day.


Now, we moms tend to keep our household routines somewhat straight in our heads, but I personally find reminders very helpful. Some days my head is in so many places, it's easier to look at a list than it is to pick my brain for my next thought or action. These cards (which can be laminated for longer life) are also helpful when a mom gets ill - or is away from home for one reason or another. 

My own weekly routine is as follows:

Monday: clean bedrooms*, start laundries

Tuesday: clean bathroom*, continue laundries

Wednesday: clean kitchen*, start menu/marketing list, finish laundries, organize recycling

Thursday: put out trash/recycling, clean living room and family room*, look at grocery store circular, organize coupons, prepare next week's file folder

Friday: clean learning room*, finalize menu/marketing list, prepare newspaper payment, clean out pocketbook, gather library returns

Saturday: put out newspaper payment, food shopping/errands, library run, clean playroom, home/garden maintenance, begin lesson/week plan

Sunday: bake, clip coupons, finish lesson/week plan, organize materials, work in journal, organize DVR

(*These tasks are further broken down into individual steps on the card - i.e. dust/wipe surfaces, vacuum, strip beds, etc.)

(Now please let me stress that it's rare - so rare - that I keep up with all the tasks on my cards! My household is hardly a model of efficiency! Still, everything I write down does need to be done, ideally. Some tasks are more pressing than others - the food shopping must happen, whether I prepare for it or not. Do I need to go through the pantry? Look at the circular? Organize the coupons? Write out a dinner plan? Not necessarily, but when I do, the whole process goes more smoothly - from the shopping itself to getting wholesome dinners on the table all week. I know I'm preaching to the choir here, but sometimes it's nice just to acknowledge that what we do really does matter. Even the little things add up to make life run more smoothly for our families.)

So I use just the one set of weekly routine cards at present, but in the interest of this post, I set up the file box in the top photo as if I was following a daily card system. The weekly routine cards are propped up in the lid (the current day facing front), and the main portion of the box is filled with cards for each day of the year, separated by monthly tab dividers.

When a task or appointment comes up, I can quickly find the corresponding card, jot down the information, and re-file it in my box. The "dummy" card I made up yesterday for the sole purpose of this post, shows how I would use it, showing notes like:

11:00 dentist appointment

send blurbs to newsletter editor

check Crackerjack's cleats 

remember to have the boys look at the full moon

These tasks were all time-sensitive - specific to this particular Friday - and this is why I find a daily planner helpful.

The system is not really portable as a whole, but the day's card can come with you when you are out and about; you could simply slip it in your pocket or purse. I've also seen card keepers and cases (I may even have *ahem* bought one once) that can hold dozens of cards at a time. 

Well, I guess I'd better wrap things up since this has now become a monster of a post, lol! I'm pretty happy with the planning system I'm using now, but I do think index cards can be a wonderful tool for planning your days and keeping your housekeeping on track. I'll keep you all posted on how things are working (or not) for me and in the meantime, I'd LOVE to hear from readers who use index cards in one way or another. Or better yet - whatever your system - how do you keep yourself on track during the day?

My thanks, as always, for stopping by - I hope you are all enjoying your weekend. I probably won't post again until Monday (tomorrow is a super busy day) so until then, stay safe and be well! :)

Programming Note (& a Friday Photo)


The Full Harvest Moon rising last night, roundabouts 7 p.m.

I took this from inside my car as I waited to get on the highway, lol. (I always have my camera within reach!) I was on my way to meet friends at Barnes & Noble for a little "coffee talk" - running a bit late, and the traffic was fierce - but oh what a lovely evening. Warm, breezy and bathed in moonlight. 

(By the way, my new beverage of choice at Starbucks is a tall steamed milk with vanilla. It's absolutely delicious, and caffeine-free!)

So, I have but a scant few minutes to post this morning, but wanted to check in and let you all know I'm working on a post about the index cards I mentioned the other day. There was lots of interest in how those little cards work. :)

In the meantime, I hope you all have a wonderful Friday! We're expecting highs in the 80s here in New England ~ a little touch of Summer in late September!

Happy First Day of Fall!

Would you care for a Harvest Spice muffin? :)


I whipped up a batch of these beauties yesterday in honor of Autumn's arrival (which, according to my sources, happened sometime before midnight last night). I had help from my littlest baker (natch) and together we had fun measuring and mixing and smelling and spooning and watching them rise ...

But I especially had fun setting up this fancy thing:


I decorated my Wilton cupcake stand with pretty silk leaves and then nestled the freshly frosted muffins into the display. A dusting of natural decorating sugar lent just the right festive touch.

Here is the recipe in case you'd like to try making a batch for yourself!

Harvest Spice Muffins with Cream Cheese Frosting

3 cups flour
 1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon baking power
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil (I used a little less)
1 cup sugar
1 cup pear baby food
1 cup squash baby food
3 teaspoons vanilla

Sift together dry ingredients. (I use a giant whisk). In separate bowl, beat eggs; add oil and sugar; cream together. (I do this in my Kitchen Aid stand mixer.) Stir in pears and squash and vanilla. Add dry ingredients; mix well. Spoon into 24 muffin cups (sprayed with Pam or lined with paper cups). Bake for 15-20 minutes at 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Test with a toothpick or cake tester. Let cool before frosting.

 (Note: this recipe is based on one found in Frozen Assets by Deborah Taylor-Hough)

Cream Cheese Frosting can be found here.

(Though I should mention, this recipe makes more frosting then you'll need for the 24 muffins. But having extra frosting on hand isn't such a bad thing, is it?)

Earlybird can't have oranges but THIS frosting recipe would also be wonderful paired with these muffins!


Now, I made these just for fun - for my family to enjoy this week - but they would be lovely at all kinds of fall functions: bake sales, harvest fairs, Halloween parties or on Thanksgiving Day itself. If you try them out, please drop me a line and let me know how you like them! :)

In the meantime ... Happy Fall, everyone! I wish you all a season filled with family fun, peace and plenty, and many memorable moments ...

"Autumn, the year's last, loveliest smile." ~ William Cullen Bryant

Wednesday in the Kitchen


First of all I want to thank everyone for the many thoughtful comments left in yesterday's crockpot post. I appreciate your input very much! I will be reading through the advice and checking out the links over the next couple of days ... and I also warned Bill we might be buying a new slowcooker this weekend!

The picture above I took yesterday in preparation for a planner post I'm working on, but I figured it would be fun to post a kitchen shot this morning. According to my daily routine, Wednesday is my kitchen cleaning day. Weekly kitchen chores include:

Sweeping and spot cleaning the kitchen floor.

Wiping down appliances.

Washing countertops.

Scrubbing in and around the sink.

Shaking baking soda down the disposal, letting it sit, then running with boiling water.

Going through the refrigerator and freezer - tossing/composting old food.

Going through the cabinets - tossing old food.

Starting a menu plan/marketing list for next week.

(I will also pull out all my spices and miscellaneous baking supplies today and make a list of what needs to be replenished this Fall.)

By the way, I keep a set of index cards at my work area (one color for each day of the week) that outline routine household tasks. Wednesday's card happens to be yellow. :)

Oh, and one last thing, on tonight's dinner menu: homemade whole wheat pizzas, tossed salad and leftover apple crisp. A homey, humble Autumn meal.

 So that's a peek into my kitchen today ... how are things in your neck of the woods?

Crockpot Concerns?

Good Tuesday Morning, everyone ... 

I wanted to share this comment from Stacy and see what my readers might know about this troubling subject. This is the first I've heard of it ...

Dawn, I recently read a post on another blog regarding crockpots. Supposedly, some crockpots contain lead! EEK!! I didn't know that! I've had my crockpot for YEARS. It was a wedding gift. I noticed a long hairline crack in it the last time I used it a few weeks ago. I'm thinking about retiring that one since it's smaller than I'd like and then buying a new one that's guaranteed to be lead free. Do you know if your crockpot is lead free and if so, what brand/style is it? Can you buy stainless steel crockpots? I love cooking with stainless steel products. I look forward to your reply. Have a great week :-) ~ Stacy

Hi Stacy, and thank you for your comment. I've had my Rival slowcooker for a few years now, but I have no idea if it is lead-free. It's not something I had worried about (till now)! But I use my slowcooker A LOT (especially through the colder months) so I'd like to find out more about the issue if I could.

A quick google search provided me with conflicting information and a quick stop at Amazon showed lots of "stainless steel" slow cookers but from what I could tell they still have ceramic inserts.

Dear readers, do you know anything about this concern? And/or do you have any suggestions for a lead-free slow cooker?

Thanks for any insight ... 

~ Dawn

My New Fall Bag

A few of my readers noticed I mentioned a "new fall pocketbook" in a post last week - but then I didn't offer a link or a picture! Well, without further ado, here it is:


I ordered the "Rangely Embroidered Tote in Corduroy" from LL Bean. I use a very similar bag in the summer months (orange starfish stitched on beige canvas). I loved the size and shape of my summer tote, so I was very happy to find a bag just like it, but of a more autumnal nature. And yes, those are little red foxes embroidered against the brown corduroy. Most of my readers know my penchant for all things "woodland." :)

So let's take a look inside shall we?


It's quite roomy actually, and the zippered portion in the back panel holds a lot.


Tucked inside my bag I have: my daily planner (more portable than my large month-at-a-glance calendar), my menu/marketing notebook, wallet, coupon pouch, hand cream, Rolaids, lip glosses, and blush (held together with an elastic band lol). I usually have my cell phone with me too, but it was charging when I took these photos. 

Now, if I need to bring my larger calendar and/or weekly folder with me somewhere (i.e. a planning meeting or a coffee night with the girls) I take my large quilted backpack instead. Case in point, the older boys had a lengthy orthodontist appointment this morning so I packed up my backpack with things to occupy my time ...


... sections of the Sunday paper to look through (including coupons to clip), alongside my monthly calendar (with weekly folder tucked inside). 

But for most of my everyday errands the smaller tote does me just fine. For instance ...


(I felt a bit silly taking this photo, but I figured an "action shot" would be fun.)

So those are my bags at the moment. If you've ever done a "what's in my bag" post at your blog, please leave me a link in the comments below - I LOVE seeing other people's bags!

Hope your week's off to a great start! :)

St. George & Michaelmas Posts

I happened to be working online just now when a comment pinged into my inbox ~ and since I have a few minutes to myself, I thought I'd take a moment to answer ...

Dawn, I think you and I are kindred spirits. I've been reading your blog for years, now. At least three. I love it! And I wish you had a search function on it, because I have SUCH a hard time going through the archives and tags to find what I'm looking for. Today, I'm specifically looking for all your things on St George and Michaelmas. I can't find anything!

Thank you so much for this very kind comment, Herbwifemama!

First of all, I apologize for not having a search tool on my blog. I know it would be very helpful, and you are not the first reader to ask about this. I did have one installed here a few years ago, but it seriously slowed down the blog loading time. If anyone has a suggestion for a search tool that might not slow things down I would be happy to try again. I know my archives can be a bit ... erm, haphazard, lol. ;D

Now, as for your question about Michaelmas and St. George entries, Herbwifemama, you would find them under the Saints and/or Liturgical Seasons archives (though I realize those are huge archives). I would also suggest looking under my September and April archives ... 

Or, better yet ~ with Michaelmas but a week away ~ let me look for you. :D

Tea and a Field Trip on Michaelmas

D is for Dragons ~ Michaelmas Week

By George, it was Saint George!

We Slew the Dragons!

For St. George's Day ...

To be honest, I haven't yet made concrete plans for our family this year (I'll be in "planning mode" later today) but I do have this little set up in the front window:


I hope you're all having a lovely Sunday ... I've got a pot roast in the crockpot - the first one of the season - and the Pats are on later today. In addition to Michaelmas, we're also looking forward to the Equinox this Thursday, as well as the Full Harvest Moon. Lots to celebrate this week!

The View From Here


Late Friday in the Learning Room

I took this picture yesterday afternoon ~ as the light outside was fading, the shadows spreading through the house. This was my view from here ...


...  my cozy little nest with Earlybird, where we look at cooking magazines together, a favorite pastime of ours. (Of course, he doesn't realize I'm sneaking language lessons in as we ooh and aah over the glossy pages. :))

So ... it's Saturday at last. A busy week behind us, another busy week ahead. Weekend plans include making a crisp with all the apples leftover from Nature Club, putting away summer clothes, working on emails and lesson plans, picking up Catching Fire and some cornstalks and mums for the front door ...

 I'm also working on a pocketbook post (those are always fun!) and I hope to have it up by the first of the week. As you can see, I'm really trying to fit blogging back into my everyday (or every other day) life. Thanks for being patient with me while I find my writing groove again. :)

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Nature Study Club ~ September 2010

Our Nature Study Club met for the first time this (academic) year, yesterday here at our home. We started the meeting in our backyard, but then walked the kids down to a trail behind our home. Our September mission ~ to say goodbye to Summer and look for signs of Fall ...

As usual, we had a wide range of ages attend Nature Club - a few teens, several middle schoolers and plenty of little ones. Twenty-eight children in all, which was a fantastic turn-out! I made up a trail checklist* for the kids to work off of, listing things they might be able to observe on our walk. I also prepared a bunch of clean baby food containers (small plastic tubs with fitted lids) to serve as miniature collection boxes. 

Here's one of the tables I had set up in the yard:


In the left corner are the collection boxes and checklists.


And in the right corner is an assortment of autumn books and nature magazines.


*Here's the list of items I had on my handout:

 Ferns and/or moss?

Wildflowers ~ how many different kinds/colors?

A nest or sign of nesting activity?


Fungii ~ where is it growing? What kind?

Trees ~ how many kinds can you identify?

Any sign of fall foliage?

Insects ~ see, hear, or other evidence?

Seeds ~ in travel, on the ground, on a plant?

Spider webs ~ what kind? Is the spider visible?

A fruiting plant and/or a vine?

An animal ~ see, hear or other evidence?

Migration in action? (Look up!)

Sounds ~ birds, squirrels, human, elemental?

Can you find the temperature by cricket song?

(Count the number of chirps in 15 seconds + 38 = temperature)

Is there a breeze? In what direction is it blowing ?

Any nice or nasty smells?

 Other observations?


Above is the "moms resource" table. I put out a variety of nature-related books, field guides, audubon guides etc. 

And here are some photos from our walk, as you can see it was an absolutely beautiful day:


Goldenrod, a plant that grows all over New England in September.


Milkweed - the pods have not opened yet, but soon ...


I believe this is pokeweed.


And wild asters (or Michaelmas daisies), another September favorite.


One of the very observant children spotted this incredible caterpillar, munching on some goldenrod (and completely unaware of the tiny spider stalking nearby!).

No idea what kind of butterfly he'll be, but he sure is colorful!


We went off-trail for a bit, meandering into a field to listen and look for insects. There were many, many dragonflies darting overhead, grasshoppers and locusts hopping about and just look what the children found here:


A praying mantis! 

I haven't seen one since I was a child! I remembered them as being green so I was surprised this one was pale brown. We wondered if he was camouflaged to blend in with the faded grass?


I couldn't get a close picture of this shy bird, but I think it is a flycatcher of some sort. Only rarely do we see them in our backyard.

The following picture shows the most startling discovery of all ...


Bill had spotted this animal jawbone earlier in the day. I told the kids to look out for it and sure enough, on the walk back home, they were able to find it. Out came the cameras and sketchbooks! 

We wondered what it might be - and what might have happened - trying to determine if the teeth were sharp or dull. Guesses included coyote, fox, dog and deer. Bill looked online last night and actually this most closely resembles a deer jaw. 

Do any of my readers have any thoughts? (Other than, ew, lol!)


Last photo - this a collection box that got left behind ... just look at all the little treasures that fit in here!

We made lots of neat discoveries, but the nicest part of the day was the friendship and good fun. When we returned home, the children played, the mums chatted and we all enjoyed some cold cider and cornbread. I'm just so thrilled to see another year of Nature Club off and running!

Thanks for stopping by today, and I hope wherever you live, you're enjoying the blessings of this lovely time of year. :)

A Pretty Little Spot


No time this evening to put up my Nature Club post (today was our first meeting of the year) but, suffice it to say, it was a fantastic time! The weather was just spectacular, as only September can be - warm sun, cool breeze, blue skies, lots of things blooming and humming and chirping and buzzing away ... More on all that tomorrow. :)

I hope you all had a lovely day too ... see you again soon!

Here at Ground Control ...

I found this post interesting.

(I find the whole blog quite interesting, actually!) 

Do you have a "command central" and if so, where is it? (I'd love to hear about it in the comments box below.) I'm standing at mine at the moment ...

I have my laptop in front of me, a calendar to my left, a clipboard hanging beside me and a file crate to my right, a couple of "in" baskets under the window, and a worktable directly behind me.

And, of course, I have a hot cup of coffee in my hand ...

All systems go.

Have a good day, my friends! :)

On this day in September ...

In the Garden ...


Green tomatoes smell just like September to me.

On the Menu Tonight:

Meatloaf, baked potatoes with broccoli and cheese, butternut squash and corn muffins.

Today's Weather

Sunny and dry, near 70. I love that it's a bit darker in the evenings now ... I feel my hibernation instincts kicking in. :)

Working on:

An activity plan for the "Fall Kickoff" of Nature Club on Thursday - we have 27 children coming! Here, at my house! In my yard! Lol, I'm thrilled to have so much interest in Nature Study Club - hoping it will be a great year!

Excited About:

New natural markers and paints for Earlybird that arrived in the mail ... a coffee date with girlfriends next week ... a new Sherlock series coming to PBS this fall ... and my new fall pocketbook from LL Bean!

On Hold at the Library:

Handmade Home by the inspiring Amanda Soule.


Our dear cat Penny who passed away on this day last year ... 

Watching with Earlybird:

Animal Atlas Creepy Creatures

He watches the first segment for like, 10 minutes, then runs from the room exclaiming "I don't like spiders!" Still, he insists on watching it, lol.

A Post from my Past: 

Autumn Housekeeping Notes

Well, I hope this Tuesday morning post finds you, dear readers, in good health and great spirit ... Enjoy this lovely day and see you all again soon. :)

Monday This and That

Did you know that September is National Coupon Month?


This ^ is my coupon basket, nestled inside my larger "catchall" basket. Yes, it's a mess lol! But somehow it works for me. I throw things in here through the week - and then before I go shopping on Saturday I sort through it all and add my stash to my marketing notebook. It works fairly well. Do you use coupons too?

 A few other things while I'm here ... :)

We have a busy week ahead of us - soccer season is in full swing, so I'm planning around games and practices again. (Practice night is almost always "baked ziti" night - a fast and easy supper.)


We also have our first Nature Club meeting later this week. I'm hosting this month - we'll be sharing summer treasures and exploring the bike path that runs near my home. We'll look for signs of the arriving autumn (and the lingering summer) and we'll also scour a nearby field for insects, seeds and other interesting things.


This year I've taken on coordinating the monthly Teen Book Group - our September meeting was quite small, but I've heard from a few interested parties, so I'm hoping it takes off. Our October book selection is The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (I'm reading this at the moment and am absolutely riveted by the storyline so far).


My homeschool support group held its annual Planning Meeting last night and I volunteered to take minutes (which I need to type up sometime today!). Six-and-a-half notebook pages filled with great ideas and opinions. ... this meeting always gets me fired up for a new year. :)


Today is the season premiere of the MARTHA show. I'm having my mum record it for me because currently we are without a TV! (Our DirectTV receiver snuffed out last week and we're waiting on a replacement.) Speaking of Martha, apparently she has a new natural cleaning products line. Apparently they are available at The Home Depot ~ I'm eager to check them out!


Oh, and Crackerjack wants you all to know that this Saturday is National Talk Like a Pirate Day. :) Here's a site with some neat crafts for this fun day.


Well, that's all for now ... just thought I'd share some of the things rumbling around in my brain this morning. I hope you all have a fantastic week! I'll pop back in again just as soon as I can. :)

Friday Fun: Sleepy Hollow by way of Lego

Inspired by his favorite American folktale, Crackerjack created a Lego scene depicting the mysterious "demise" of Ichabod Crane ...

Here we have the final, climactic scene when Ichabod almost makes it safely across the old Sleepy Hollow bridge ...


Ichabod is wearing his signature tricorn hat, while his old horse Gunpowder flees the scene  ...


(Note the river reeds, lily pads and small splashes of water. :))


Alas, the tireless Headless Horseman never misses his mark ...

Crackerjack first became enamored with this tale watching the old Disney movie - remember the one narrated by Bing Crosby? - and then years later we purchased a beautiful picture book version illustrated by Will Moses. 


A timeless, spine-tingling adventure!

A Quiet Morning at the Beach

Last week was brutally hot so one sunny morning we headed up to a local beach just as early as we could. I baked a fresh batch of corn muffins to take with us since we were up too early to eat breakfast at home. We also brought fruit, string cheese and plenty of water.

As you can see, the rising sun was absolutely brilliant on the sand and the sea ...



Not surprisingly, we were the only ones on the beach this early!




We were warned by the gatekeeper not to go out past waist-depth due to the effects of a hurricane out in the Atlantic.



It was nearing low tide which made conditions just right for tidepooling ...


... and watching the gulls, who in turn, watched us with wary eyes.


We also enjoyed our breakfast ...


The gulls hoped they'd get a taste (they didn't).


We thought this small tidepool looked like an ancient volcano from this angle:


Bill complains there aren't enough pictures of me because usually I'm the one behind the camera, lol. If I turn it over to him though, he's always sneaking shots of me when I'm not looking - or sometimes, as in this case, when I am ...


The snails were making their morning commute ...


Very cool to watch. 


Lots of gull tracks in the sand ... Earlybird thought they were dinosaur prints! 


And here's a closer look at a tidepool we explored ...


Seaweed and barnacles were plentiful ...


Once the sun rose higher in the sky the heat started to build (it would later reach 97 degrees on this day!). We packed up and left just before the mid-morning crowds hit ..


And as always, we made sure to leave only footprints behind ...


It's a little sad to see another Summer go by - our boys will be that much bigger and older next year - but how blessed we are to have this time with them now. It's days like these I try to remember how to slow down, take notice and savor each moment that passes, preserve every memory that's made ...

"Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened." ~ Dr. Seuss