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November 2011

October 2011

Happy Halloween Donuts!


Well, this was all kinds of fun!

A batch of freshly baked pumpkin donuts, glazed and adorned with a few "tricks and treats!"

Donuts are a traditional autumn food - they're soft, sweet and SUCH a treat! My favorites are freshly baked cider donuts - they are simply a must at the farm in the fall! Dunkin Donuts always does fun holiday-themed donuts, but Earlybird - though enthralled by those ads and what he sees in the shop windows - can't have commercially prepared donuts. He asks for them, of course - he's a child after all, and they look good! - but I explain that he can't eat those particular donuts. I tell him that they're made with things that would make him feel crummy. I always have a plan though - something to take the sting out of missing out - so I suggested a homemade alternative ... delicious donuts made at home, with good things he can eat!

Now we've baked donuts before (remember these pretty things last Christmas?), but for this time of year I wanted a pumpkin spice donut. So I just googled "baked pumpkin donut" and found lots of options. The recipe I found here sounded awesome, so I decided to try it out.


One really neat trick I learned from this recipe was to pipe the donut batter into the pan using a ziploc bag (with the corner snipped off). This made it so easy!

I will also mention that I used squash puree instead of pumpkin since I had it on hand (despite what the kids think, squash really is no different from pumpkin!). Also, I did not make a maple-cinnamon glaze as the recipe suggests - though it sounded lovely, I wanted something plainer. So I just used vanilla instead of maple extract and left out the cinnamon.

After baking (for about 14 minutes - we made ours dense), I set them to cool in the front window ...


And while the donuts were cooling, I made the vanilla glaze ...


Doesn't that early morning sunshine look pretty? :)

We raided the holiday candy stash for embellishments - but I left one plain for EB. (Funnily enough, though he loves the look of the decorated donuts, he'd rather eat something less textured.)

Crackerjack helped me with the garnishing:


You can see our final designs in the top picture - notice the one in the upper left corner? That's our homage to the "frost snow on the punkin" this year! ;)

Now obviously these donuts would be a real treat even without all the candy and sprinkles, etc. That was just in the spirit of the holiday at hand. ;)

But considering the donuts are baked, and made with minimal fats, they're really not all that bad for you! In fact, I was thinking that these spiced "squash" donuts would be lovely on Thanksgiving morning ... Munching on spicy, warm donuts while watching the Macy's parade? Sounds like a plan to me!

Well my friends, I wish you all a good Monday, and a Happy Halloween as well! I hope you all have a nice day (and night). Be safe and have fun!

I'll be back again sometime soon ...


When the frost is on the punkin ...


(Or, snow, as the case may be.)


At the soccer field yesterday, we watched the sun fade, and the sky become dark and overcast. Huge flocks of birds flew southward overhead (clearly, they got Winter's urgent memo), and after a cold, wet afternoon, the snow moved in just about nightfall. It was pretty to watch, but when the trees started cracking and crashing in the woods, we realized this was no average snowfall! In our town, we lost power through most of the night, and in our yard, there's plenty of debris to clean up ...

SO crazy for this time of year!


On the bright side, the sun has come out, and melting is underway ... and I have a pot roast to start in the crockpot around noon - should the power stay put! And of course, there's the Patriots game later today ... Go Pats!

So for now, I'm off - just had to pop on and share our "frosty punkin" with you all. :) I hope all my readers are safe, warm and dry wherever they may be ... and I wish you all a wonderful Sunday.

See you again very soon!

November is upon us ...


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

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

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

~ Elizabeth Coatsworth

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

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

But this is just crazy.

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

Look under logs ... visit a bog.

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

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

Display our Thankgiving books.

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

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

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

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

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

Take time to enjoy the sound of geese flying overhead.

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

Order mixed dried fruit for making fruitcakes.

Mix up mulling spices:

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

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

(From China Bayles' Book of Days)

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

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

Hang our Gratitude Banner to work on all month.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Things on a Dreary Day

It's quite a miserable day here - weatherwise, I mean. We're having an unpleasant mix of steady rain, cold air, dark skies... and yes, there is some snow in the forecast. Eek!

I'm working on a rather long planning post, addressing some recent - and not so recent - questions on the FCS (et al), but it's taking me a good bit of time to get it all wrapped up. So in the meantime, and in light of this dull day, here are some happy things to share with you all ...


A few pretty Thanksgiving cards ~ I have myself a little collection. :)


A hardworking honeybee, making the most of these last autumn days.


A fading - yet still gorgeous - hydrangea blossom, basking in the setting sun.


Our Archie, sound asleep on the "cat" window seat. He could care less that it's raining.


Also fading - and also still gorgeous - golden chrysanthemums ... the subject of my new blog banner. (And please pardon my appearance while I reconstruct here a little - I'm pretty rusty on Typepad template tweaking.)


Some very yummy Thanksgiving magazines. I'm such a sucker for magazines, but especially at this time of year.


The view through my back family room window ... can you imagine, Bill wanted to chop this tree down?


We'll have our first cups of cocoa this afternoon, in (dubious) honor of the first snowflakes heading our way. (As I mentioned above, this evening we expect a wintry mix - nothing that will stick, but enough to gnarl traffic.) I bought this packet of "pumpkin pie" hot chocolate up in Maine (I think at Stonewall Kitchens - I went a little nutty in there, so it's hard to be sure). The boys are very eager to try it, though I will probably enjoy a cup of plain homemade cocoa with Earlybird. That's a little more my speed. 

Well ...

I hope you enjoyed sharing in my little "happy thoughts" for today. And I do hope you all are having a nice Thursday, whatever it looks like out your window. I'm going to sign off for now ... I'm getting peppered with lunch requests, and goodness knows those grilled cheeses won't toast themselves!

See you all again very soon ...


A Cheesy, Tasty Quiche

For you, Heather Ann!


Cheeseburger Quich

(From the 10/1/11 issue of Family Circle)

1 refrigerated piecrust (from a 15-oz. pkg.)

1 pound lean ground beef

1/4 cup ketchup

1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

1 medium red onion, diced

(Note: I used a milder yellow onion.)

2 packed cups baby spinach

1 cup grape tomatoes, halved

1/4 tsp. each salt an pepper

5 large eggs

3/4 cup 2% milk

(Note: I used 1%, as we had it on hand.)

2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard

(Note: I used a honey mustard instead.)

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese


Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Unroll crust and roll out slightly. Fit into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch deep pie dish. Flute edge. Line crust with nonstick foil. Bake at 400 for 12 minutes. Remove foil.

Meanwhile, cook beef in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, 5 minutes, breaking apart with a spoon. Spoon into bowl and stir in ketchup and Worcestershire sauce. (Note: I did this the night before and stored the mixture in the fridge.)

In same skillet, cook onion for 5 minutes over medium heat. (I used a bit of olive oil instead of residual beef fat.) Add spinach and tomatoes; cook 3 minutes. Season with 1/8 tsp. each of the salt and pepper. Stir in the beef.

Transfer beef mixture to crust. In medium bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, mustard, and remaining 1/8 tsp. each salt and pepper. Sprinkle cheese over filling. Carefully add egg mixture. Bake at 400 for 35-40 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before slicing.

Serves 6.


(Note: This was great at Sunday brunch, but tasted almost better warmed up the next morning!)


Well, thanks for stopping by, everyone ... I wish you all a wonderful Wednesday!

I'll be back again very soon ...


p.s. If you're up, and you live on the US east coast ~ just LOOK at that vibrant sunrise! It's sure lovely to look at, but we should take heed ... "Red in the morning, sailor's warning," after all. ;)

This Year's Holiday Planner


It's hard to believe how fast Fall has flown by - Halloween is just six days away! Have you squared away your costumes? Laid in your candy stores? Picked out your pumpkins?

Now according to the local mall, I'm waaaay behind schedule, but now that October is coming to a close, I'm ready to set my sights on Thanksgiving and Christmas, the busy, bright and beautiful holiday season ...

To that end, I recently assembled my holiday planner, and placed it in the front section of my homekeeping binder. I keep it here, in this "place of honor," since I'll be concentrating on holiday plans now through the end of the year.

In our home, we host Thanksgiving dinner and a Christmas afternoon gathering. These are the two "big" entertaining events for us. At this time of year I'm also planning for a few feast days, a meaningful/magical Advent, and a homey/happy New Year's celebration.

Lots of fun to be had! Lots of plans to be made!

And so, as family "cruise director," I really depend on my holiday planner ...


Behind the cover page, are all my planning pages. I used my greenroom legal pads (with soft green and blue accents) for these pages.

(A list of those planning pages is included below.)


I also added in a print-out of Martha Stewart's Thanksgiving and Christmas checklists.


And I used some pretty scrapbooking paper to make a November and December calendar.



(I doodle a lot - I'm silly like that.)

Next, I set up an open folder for the various holiday "clippings" I collect - recipes, catalog pages, craft ideas and the like. I just used a leftover bit of scrapbook paper and folded it in half, like a bill-fold.

A small metal clip holds it all together.


In this way, it's easy to flip through the assorted pages and see what's what.

I stuck the clippings in my counter basket, where it's right in-view and in-reach. I've been adding things regularly - in fact, just this morning I added a recipe for mini mince pies. :)


The planner itself rests on the countertop - alongside my weekly file folder and calendar. Behind the holiday planner is the rest of my homekeeping binder. After New Year's I'll retire the whole planner to the back of the binder. (And next year I'll review and start afresh.)


Here's a list of the planning pages, in order:

(Green = Thanksgiving ~ Blue = Christmas ~ Red = New Year's)

This year's Grateful Tree project

Notes for November feast days & birthdays

Thanksgiving Dinner: guests, menu, make-ahead and cooking times

Shopping list (items/itinerary)

Table notes - seating/decor

House cleaning & prep list

Random to-do's

Activities & family traditions

Special words

This year's Advent Calendar project

Advent Sundays

Notes for December feast days & birthdays

Christmas to-do's: general, weekly

Christmas Cards 2011

Holiday newsletter-blog notes

Christmas Gifts 2011

Shopping list (items/itinerary)

Decorating: inside, outside

Gifts to make and bake

* Cheerful Hearts *

Activities & family traditions

Christmas Eve/Day timetable

Christmas Buffet: guests, menu, make-ahead, cooking times


Welcoming 2012

New Year Family Goals

* Charitable Hearts *


It seems like a lot, doesn't it? Well, the holidays do take some work, after all ...

Of course it's easy to go overboard, but hopefully with a cushion of time and perspective, we're able to keep things in balance. Because it's such a special time of year, and I don't like to spend it rushing around, stressing out or feeling low. If starting this far ahead and making all these lists brings us a little more peace and contentment this Christmas, then I'm all for it!

Well, I hope this post posed some ideas that might be useful for you. I'm sure we all have different lists - not to mention expectations - for the holidays, but I hope you enjoyed this all the same. :)

I also hope you all have a great week, and that you enjoy these last days of October. Our foliage here is just past peak, but with a rainstorm in the forecast for Thursday (not to mention a bit of snow!) I'm sure the trees will be bare before week's end. Such is the passing of seasons ~ and Autumn certainly goes out in a fiery hurrah!

As always, thanks so much for stopping by today. I wish you all well, and I look forward to being here again with you soon ...


A Few Quick Q & A's ...

Happy Monday, my friends! I hope your week's off to a great start!

First of all, I'd like to say thank you for all the "happy anniversary" wishes! It was a very nice day - then and now - and I'm glad you all enjoyed seeing a few of our wedding photos. As many of you remarked, we were (are) indeed blessed - and I try to remember and give thanks for that every day!

Now, currently we're in the midst of our "crazy" day here - "Mad Mondays" we like to call them, lol. It's two minutes to four, and my kitchen's a MESS! - but I wanted to take a moment to finish up this post, addressing a few recent questions.

Tammy asked about housekeeping lists ...

By any chance, did you post the seasonal housekeeping besides October anywhere? I'm looking for Spring, Summer, Winter ones too.

Tammy, please check out this archive in which you'll find my collection of monthly "Themes & Plans" posts. I include a housekeeping list for each month of the year (as well as garden, nature, faith and food lists).

Here are direct links to each monthly post:

November Housekeeping

December Housekeeping

January Housekeeping

February Housekeeping

March Housekeeping

April Housekeeping

May Housekeeping

June Housekeeping

July Housekeeping

August Housekeeping

September Housekeeping

October Housekeeping

You know, I wrote these lists over four years ago, but except for the movable dates (i.e. holidays and such) I find them pretty timeless. In fact, I refer to them every year as I plan a month or a season ahead! For easy reference, I printed out all the posts and filed them in my homekeeping binder, under my "Living" tab. :)


Teresa inquired about pens ...

Dawn, What is the brand of your favorite pen??

Teresa, I can be quite (ridiculously) obsessive about pencils and pens! (And don't get me started on paper, lol!) Currently my favorite pens are made by Uni-ball and they are called Jetstream pens. I like the blue ink best, but I always keep a few black and reds handy.


In the background are shown a few of my Crackerjack's favorite pens ... the Papermate "Flair" (medium tip). He seems to have inherited his mama's finickiness when it comes to writing instruments! (He uses his for drawing however, whereas I use mine primarily for writing.) Also, for labeling things (like file folders and binder tabs) I like a Sharpie Ultra Fine Point marker (not shown). 


And finally, Kristie asked about the notepad shown in this post ...

Where did you find the notepad with the date and list on the left? Looks like a very useful tool!

Kristie, I buy these notepads at Target - they have quite an array of office supplies! These pads are made by a company called "greenroom," and they come in a soft ecru with aqua or avocado accents. They are indeed a very useful stye of notepad! Perfect for to-do lists or project planning pages. I also love "greenroom" notebooks - I use a small one for my weekly shopping diary and a larger one for my weekly planning sheets. 

Here's a close-up ...


(This is a page from my holiday planner - post under way!) 


Well, that's all I have time for today, but I hope these bits and bobs of information were helpful to you! Thanks so much for stopping by ...

I'll see you all again very soon!


18 ... and Counting!


There are 18 pictures in this post ... I was 18 when Bill and I met ... and as of today ... we've been married for 18 (wonderful, way-too-fast) years!

So this morning after Mass, we had my folks and my brother over for a little brunch. It was such a beautiful day - just like the day of our wedding - bright and cool with the foliage at its peak. Celebrating with food, family and fond memories was such a nice way to celebrate our special day ... I'd like to share a few pictures with you, and a few flashbacks as well ...


In the front window I set up a collage frame filled with wedding day pictures, our anniversary cards and the flowers Bill gave me this morning. (Very pretty flowers for sure - but they are now sitting on the front steps since the cats find them absolutely delectable.)

And on the kitchen island, my go-to buffet surface, I spread out the brunch goodies ...


Oh my goodness ... this quiche. SO delicious!

It's called a "cheeseburger quiche" and if anyone would like the recipe I'd be happy to post it - it was easy to make, and so very tasty!

I have to point out the flowers barely visible in the background of the above picture. These are hydrangeas from our front garden ... full, lush and perfectly purple and green. How I love hydrangeas!

In fact, I will always think of hydrangeas as our wedding flower. We had a really wonderful florist - he had recently opened a nursery in a nearby town and we were quite taken by his natural, seasonal, "earthy" arrangements. We were only his second or third wedding, but he came highly recommended. Best of all, when we described our dream of a very "autumnal" wedding - pumpkins, bittersweet, kale and the like - he was right on board! For the bridesmaids' bouquets he suggested hydrangeas because they really are the star of the fall garden. So I spent the weeks leading up to our wedding studying (sort of stalking, really) neighborhood hydrangeas - observing how they were changing in hue. By October 23rd they looked something like this ...


And they really made a beautiful bouquet, mingled with other complimentary flowers (autumn roses, etc.).

Back to the buffet though, the menu also included ...


Fresh grapes, granola, dried cranberries and yogurt. Raspberry turnovers and crumb cakes as well as Nana's special scrambled eggs ...


Hash browns, bacon and chicken-apple sausages, and soft downy biscuits.

And just for fun ...


... a few dishes of seasonal candy. :)

For liquid refreshment ...


Sparkling cider - straight apple, and apple-cranberry. This is what we served for our wedding toast, and it's nice because not only does it taste lovely, but it is free of alcohol so everyone can enjoy a sip or more. :)

Now, I don't have our wedding photos scanned in, but I thought I'd share a few of the pictures from that collage shown above. When I look back at these photos I know why our parents and grandparents all called us "the kids" - we looked so young!

And I guess we were. :) 


Bill and I are on either end of this picture - our "scarecrow selves" are in the middle! My mother-in-law made these fantastic creations - they stood outside the reception hall and as guests came up the long winding drive, they saw the "bride and groom" welcoming them in all their autumn finery. More than one guest thought - from a distance - it was actually us!

Here I am with my dad on our way to the church ...


His good friend Skip did us the great honor of driving us on this day in his gorgeous, vintage car. Wish I had an exterior shot to show you - it made quite the set of "wedding wheels!"


The gazebo at my folks' - also decked out in autumn regalia.


Here we are with our grandparents: on the left, are my Grampy and Bill's Grammie, and on the right stand my Grama and Grampa (who became "Damee and Pa" to our boys). All of them are gone now ... though sometimes that doesn't seem real. I miss them all every day.


It's hard to see in this shot, but this is the wedding party table, and it seems this was the "toast moment." Directly behind me stand the maid of honor and best man, Sabina and John, our best friends from high school. On the left are my dear friends - college roommate, Kathy and cousin, Amy. And there are those aforementioned pumpkins and bittersweet!

Here are the remaining bridesmaids:


Unfortunately, the picture slid off center - but on the left are Amy and Kathy again, and to my right is Sabina, my cousin Kate and sister-in-law Ami, and in front is my cousin Kara - our sweet little flower girl!

Now this next picture is quite fuzzy and at first glance it might seem like nothing much is going on at all, but for me it will always be one of those unforgettable wedding moments ...


What we have here is me in the middle with my two friends (and editors) from the paper where I worked at that time. The formal pictures were done and we were trying to tie up my bustle before heading into the reception. But oh my gosh, we just could NOT get that darn thing to cooperate! And oh, how we laughed ... we just laughed ourselves silly, hiding behind the hedges, fighting with that blasted bustle. Betsy and Martha kept me calm and in good spirits and yes - we did finally get that bustle to behave itself!

And now here we have the wedding cake ...


... garnished with a garland of autumn leaves. It was a delicious carrot cake with a soft cream cheese frosting. For brunch today I had planned to make a triple layer carrot cake, but at 7 a.m. it was either take a shower or bake a cake before church ...

Needless to say, I went with the shower and promised the boys I'd make our "family birthday cake" sometime this week. :)

Now, for a few bits of random wedding trivia:

Our favors were Yankee Candle "Spiced Pumpkin" votive candles.

Our wedding party was introduced to the theme from "Northern Exposure" because it was our absolute favorite TV show at the time (of all time, really).

For our first dance we spun to "At Last," by Etta James; our last dance was set to "Shower the People," by James Taylor.

We went to Colonial Williamsburg for our honeymoon. We drove there in Bill's old Saab ...


... the streamers and cans only lasted a mile. ;)

Well, we may not look like "kids" anymore - and we have a few of our own now - but I wouldn't trade one wrinkle or gray hair for even one precious moment of the last 18 years ...


Honey, I love you. I hope and pray our next 18 years are as blessed!


Dear readers, thank you for allowing me this rather long and rambly bit of reminiscing ... it was a lovely indulgence, to spend a few hours this afternoon remembering this special day and all the wonderful people who helped us make it so. 

So I'll wrap up now and be off ... but I'll be back next time with a post on my holiday planner ... that was one of my many plans for the weekend but, well, let me be frank: not many things on that list got accomplished this weekend! (I tend to wear rose-tinted glasses when it comes to making up weekend to-do lists, lol.) I will post about my planner sometime this week - hopefully tomorrow but certainly as soon as I can.

Have a great night, my friends ... and as always, thank you so much for stopping by.


A Few Plans for the Weekend ...

Plant spring bulbs (narcissus, "Tete a Tete").

Take yard pictures for next year's garden planner.

Gather sugar maple leaves at Mum and Dad's.

Look for acorns in the woods.

Clean birdfeeders and refill.

Prep dining room for painting ("Farmhouse Yellow").

Post about holiday planner.

Finalize costumes for All Hallow's Eve.

Catch up with blog comments; update template. 

Celebrate our 18th wedding anniversary!


Whatever your plans, dear readers, I hope your weekend brings you much rest and refreshment!


See you all again very soon ...

~ Dawn

Thinking Ahead for Thankfulness

~ Making a Gratitude Banner ~

With a quick glance at my calendar, I see there are only 13 days till Halloween ~ which means ~ there only 14 days till November! And on November 1st we begin our annual gratitude project - so now's the time to get our materials together!


Every year we like to do something a little different for this project. I particularly like making "thankful trees," using bits and pieces of real nature - i.e. branches, waxed leaves and the like - but with a pair of mischievous kittens in the house this year, I think it will be best to keep things simple. Or at the very least, inedible.

So last weekend I bought some cardstock in pretty autumn shades, and I plan to cut out 24 leaves in a variety of colors, one for each night through Thanksgiving. Each square piece of paper should allow for two leaves, going by the size and shape of my template. (Which is just an oak leaf shape I drew and cut out from tag paper.) 


Now, the plan is this ... 

Every night at supper, we will take a leaf from our pile (neatly nestled in a pretty basket) and talk about what we are thankful for that day. I will write down all our responses and then hang that leaf on our "gratitude banner."

Our banner will be, very simply, a long string of grapevine ball lights. I'll have Bill hang it above the windows in the learning room.


I'm sure you can guess why I say "above" the windows and not "around."



Each leaf will be hung from the garland - but! - the lights will not actually be lit till Thanksgiving night. (On Turkey Day we'll add our final leaf and ask our dinner guests to join us in expressing our gratitude for all that we have.)

I think it's sort of nicely symbolic to wait till the banner is full - of blessings and gratitude - before lighting it up. We'll let thankfulness fill our hearts (and our windows) and on Thankgiving night - as we head into the darkest nights of the year - our banner will shine all the more brightly. 

So this is the plan and the prep (save for the cutting which I'll work on this week - and the light-stringing which I'll nag ask Bill to do over Halloween weekend). I'll post about the execution stage of the project on the first (or maybe the second) of November!

Now, speaking of gratitude projects, I must point you all to this lovely article over at - a collection of 20 cute crafts to say "thanks" with your kids. In fact, one of the projects might seem a little familiar to some of my readers ~ our "Gratitude Seeds" from last year is idea #10. :)

Well, I hope you all had a nice Tuesday! Our day began cool and raw and I was wondering where the anticipated "lukewarm" weather could be ... but just after lunchtime the skies cleared up and the sun shone strongly. The temps did indeed rise to near 70. Such a treat!

And I did get my 2011 holiday planner assembled today - and of course I took plenty of pictures! - so I will post all about it in another day or two. For now, I must be off ... but I will see you all again very soon!


St. Luke's "Little Summer" (and more)

It's the Feast of Saint Luke! And according to legend (as well as the Boston forecast), we'll have a touch of unseasonably warm weather today. With a cold and dark winter just around the corner, we'll take every day like this we can get!

So, our plans for today (and moving forward) ...

* Earlybird and I will read two of Luke's gospel stories from Tomie dePaola's Book of Bible Stories: "An Angel Visits Mary" (Luke 1:26-38), and "Jesus is Born" (Luke 2:1-20).

* With the nativity story fresh in our minds, I'll bring out the wooden farm and a basket of related bits and bobs. We'll begin a unit on farm animals this week, and since St. Luke's symbol is the ox (and a winged ox at that!), we'll start with this mighty creature and how it was once an important source of farming "power."

* We'll read one of our favorite autumn books ~ The Ox-Cart Man ~ a fantastic farm-unit story! We'll also watch the Reading Rainbow episode online.

* (I have my eye on this sweet, small wooden ox - and I may order one later this week. I try to add a new piece to our nativity set each year.)


* I've requested these two books from the inter-library loan system:

The Ox and the Donkey

Old Crump: The True Story of a Trip West

* EB will begin reading Farmer Boy (with me) as well as some independent readers from the "My First Little House" series:

Winter on the Farm

County Fair

A Farmer Boy Birthday

* As St. Luke is the patron of butchers, I'll serve a beef pie for supper (we picked one up at a favorite local farm yesterday), along with baked potatoes, brussels sprouts, and a dark, crusty beer bread. (St. Luke is also the patron of brewers!)

* And since we'll be reading about the Christmas story today, there will be "Christmas" cookies for dessert tonight! Crackerjack just so happens to have an orthodontist appointment today and his orthodontist's office just so happens to be located above our favorite bakery WHICH just so happens to make THE best little butter cookies! :)

* I'll also set up my holiday planner this afternoon. It will take its place upfront in my homekeeping binder ...


(I'll do a post on my holiday planner later this week.)

Well, whatever your plans are for your day, I hope it's a good one! And if the weather unexpectedly warms up ... you'll know who to thank! ;)

See you all again very soon ...


Using my Weekly File Folder

Good Monday morning, my friends!


I hope you all had a nice weekend! Ours was nice - the weather was bright and windy, and the foliage is just nearing its peak ~ just right for October! Unfortunately, however, both Earlybird and Bill caught Crackerjack's cold and spent much of their time in bed. My poor fellas, feeling so miserable! Thankfully, CJ is feeling much better now, and fortunately neither Bookworm nor myself have shown any symptoms other than a few sneezes. These cold germs simply must understand - I just don't have time to get sick! ;)

It's a pretty busy week ahead for us and I was thinking this weekend, as I pulled together my weekly file folder, how much it helps to take some time to get ready for a new week. Whatever you do, and however you plan, it's always a good idea to prepare yourself for a new week - at least mentally, if not also practically. My file folders help me do just that; in fact, I'm just looking over my current folder now, trying to get a handle on the next several days ...

A brief overview of my weekly file folder change-up:

When, at the end of a week, I go through my file folder (before retiring it back to the file crate), I look for items that need to move forward and decide what can be left in place. (I did this yesterday afternoon while keeping an eye on the sickies and non-sickies alike.)

Things I left in last week's folder: library request sheets (helpful when constructing end-of-year book lists), a letter from my doctor (with test results that don't need follow up), the leaf fossil instruction sheet (as reminder for next year's Fossil Day), and my in-laws' travel itinerary (for rememberance and reference).

Things I moved forward to this week's folder: a pumpkin birdfeeder craft, a recipe for wheat pizza dough, instructions for homemade finger paint, an email re a class BW will take in December (I have not had confirmation yet), a library sheet for a book we have yet to pick up, a booklist from which I will choose December's book group selection.

All these are actions I hoped to get to (or tie up) last week, but for one reason or another did not. 

I then looked over the last week's planning sheet and forwarded (or copied) notes to this week's planning sheet (i.e. those "to-do's" that didnt get done).

Designated lists on the weekly planning sheet:


(Monday through Sunday)

"Of Note"

(Special days, events, appointments, etc.)


(Things to remember, things to get done.)

"Learning & Living"

(Lesson plans/Nature notes/Family, Faith & Fun)

"Housekeeping Notes"

(Domestic bliss/Household chores)

Now, oddly enough, Archie seems to have developed a penchant for knocking my folders (etc.) onto the floor at every opportune moment ...


He somehow seems to think all this is "his."


He also seems to think he's much smaller than he actually is!

And so this morning, last week's folder went into the file crate ... this week's folder is sitting up on my work counter, and next week's will come out at week's end. (Roundabouts Thursday so I can update my Saturday errands list, if needs be.)

It's certainly not a perfect system, but I do get a certain sense of comfort in performing these little rituals each week. Having my lists set and my things all in order (Archie's antics aside) makes me feel a little bit in control - and that's always a welcome feeling considering how crazy things can get at times!

Well, I hope you all have a magnificent Monday! I must be off now to get our day started ... and start in on all those aforementioned to-do's! :)

See you all again very soon ...


Quick question: Is anyone having trouble seeing my posts if you subscribe to the RSS feed? (Or otherwise?) It's been brought to my attention that the text has been showing up in a hyperlink format, and I can't figure out why ...

Fossil Day Fun!


In honor of National Fossil Day (which was yesterday, October 12th), Earlybird and I made some homemade, backyard "fossils!" 

I found directions for making leaf fossils online here ... and since the day was nice (and this craft was a bit messy) I decided to set up our work area outside.


We began by measuring and mixing the flour and salt ...


Then we dug up the next ingredient ~ dirt!



Earlybird (who is in dire need of a haircut!) added the dirt ...


... and then the water.


He mixed it all up ...


... and then kneaded the "dough" on some wax paper.


Once our "mud" was thoroughly mixed, we shaped it into egg-sized balls ...


... and lined them up on the wax paper.


(I won't tell you what we thought they looked like, but I bet you can guess!)

Next, we flattened our mud balls into 1/2-inch thick patties.


Now, Crackerjack was going to participate in this project too, but he's currently fighting a wicked cold and felt too "yucky" to pitch in. He did join us for a short walk around the yard, looking for leaves and seeds, etc. to "fossilize," but then hurried back inside "to get warm."


Here are our fossils in progress ...


We carefully and firmly pressed the leaves, seeds and feathers into the mud. (Full disclosure ~ I did this part; EB was too impatient, lol!)



We then carefully peeled the natural items away, leaving behind subtle imprints...



We moved them to a cookie sheet and brought them inside to dry overnight. And in the morning they looked like this:


Now, Fossil Day may have come and gone, but this is a great craft/science project to do with the kids at any time of year! 

In fact, I think fossilized autumn leaves would make lovely place markers and/or favors for Thanksgiving dinner! You could always make a plain, tinted dough (instead of one using dirt), using shades of green, gold, orange and brown. Poke a hole at the top while the dough is still soft and then thread a pretty ribbon through to serve as a loop. Just a thought!

Well, I hope you all had a nice day - it's very rainy and raw here, but the house feels quite cozy as I finish up this post. The lights are on, the boys are busy, the kitchen smells great and Bill just walked in the door. So that's my cue ~ I'm off till next time!

Have a great night, everyone ...


October Housekeeping


Start shopping (online) for Christmas cards.

Prepare materials for this year's Grateful Tree.

Walk around yard ~ make gardening notes for next year.

Plant spring bulbs.

Order Thanksgiving turkey at farmstand.

Brainstorm homemade gift ideas with the boys.

Launder all under-bedding and flannel sheets.

Turn and flip mattresses. Vacuum bed frame.

Clean out baking pantry; list items that need replacing.

Keep birdfeeders filled!

Clean carpets on a dry, breezy day.

Put away summer clothes. Sort through fall/winter clothes.

Purchase new slippers for all.

Make "autumnsauce," a spiced pear sauce. (EB can't have apples.)

Order natural Halloween candy early in month.

Organize Halloween costumes.

Plan Anniversary Brunch.

Prepare storm windows to go up November 1st.

Clean out gutters.

Rake. Rake. Rake.

(Jump in leaves and have hot cider after!)

Compost garden remains at end of month.

Have one last chiminea fire.

Drain garden hose; store away till spring.

Turn on gas fireplace.

Bring in rosemary, mint and thyme for the winter.

Visit pumpkin patch ~ make jack-o-lantern.

Watch It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown.


Monarch Monday

Now, before I launch into our monarch butterfly story, I wanted to tell you all (in case you didn't know), that this is National Earth Science Week. Also, this Wednesday is National Fossil Day. These special events offer lots of opportunities for good learning and fun!

Our younger two are focusing on earth science this year, so we've got that part sewn up. This week they're working on maps and globes, and they've started a sky log (Crackerjack) and a moon journal (Earlybird). (Bookworm, our 11th grader, is studying chemistry this year, but he's pretty involved in the sky observation, too.)

Our project for Wedneday will be to make leaf fossils ~ combining science with nature study, history and crafts. :)

Leaves are a big part of our autumn learning, as is fall migration. We've been reading about monarch butterflies (and tracking where their favorite food, milkweed, is blooming), so it was quite a nice surprise to find a real, live monarch on our deck late yesterday afternoon!




What was odd, was that the monarch was staying very still - and as you can see, we got very close to it. It was moving, so we knew it was alive, and as far as we could see it was not injured. Throughout the rest of the afternoon it just slowly made its way across the deck towards the steps. Before nightfall we got it to climb onto a pine needle branch and moved it up onto the table. I'm not sure why this seemed like a good idea, but it seemed somehow less vulnerable this way.

Unfortunately, this morning we found the monarch in the same exact place - and now it was most definitely dead.


But still so very beautiful, especially sparkling with dew.


We took the butterfly inside and gently laid it to rest on our nature shelf. 


While this story had a sad ending, it was a neat experience for the boys to see a monarch so up close. We talked about what might have happened to it ... we wondered if it was on its way south when it fell ill (or prey to a bird or beastie of some kind). 

We'll keep this lovely butterfly in a place of honor at our nature shelf (I might look into mounting it somehow) and we already made plans to plant a dedicated butterfly garden next spring. :)

On a happier note, we spied flying squirrels at the feeders again last night - three at least!

Here's the best picture I got:


(Click to zoom in.)

They're pretty cute and fun to watch - but they sure do spook easily! It was very hard to get a picture ... we couldn't be sure if it was our movement that startled them, or the owl we could hear hooting off in the woods. They have nothing to fear from us, certainly - but that owl would be very bad news for these tiny creatures!

Well, that's all for me today ... I've got to get my "4:00 tidy" on and see about supper. (Grilled turkey burgers, corn on the cob and steak fries - yum!) 

I thank you all for stopping by today and taking time to read about our little adventures. I hope your day was nice, too ... and I wish you all a peaceful evening.

See you again very soon!


A Fall "File Crate" Check-In


Happy Columbus Day, my friends! (And Happy Thanksgiving to my Canadian readers!) What a gorgeous weekend it's been up here in New England! Quite warm (like, 80s warm!) and so sunny ... the foliage is turning and falling and filling the up the yard and lining the street ... And that autumn light that glimmers and fades and slants so low at this time of year? I just love it! :)

So, here we are about halfway through October ... we've been "back to school" for over a month, and our new schedule is starting to feel familiar, if not quite yet routine. How are your organizational systems working for you this fall? Are you trying something new or sticking with what works, or has worked well before? I thought I'd take some time to talk about how my own "systems" are working for me ... you won't be surprised to hear I've tweaked a few things over the past few months. ;)

First of all, The File Crate ...


... is still housed in the cabinet below the kitchen island. Yes, it's a bit out of the way, but since I keep the current file folder out on my workspace, it's not so big a deal. It's easy enough to pull the crate out and file something away when I need ...

At times I'm tempted to find a pretty basket crate that I could keep out on a table or even on the floor beneath the console table - but for now this works for me. Plus, I think of how long and hard Bill worked to install this FCS roller cage and I resolve myself to be happy with this particular arrangement. ;)

And this reminds me, several months ago a reader asked about how to manage the FCS when traveling for long periods of time (as in, a summer spent away from home). In this situation, I would suggest getting one of those portable file boxes (the ones that hold up to 12 or so folders, close tightly and have a handle). I'd take only the folders I'd need for the weeks I'm away, and leave a space at the back of the box to hold future information. Then when I return home, I'd just file those future items into their appropriate folders. I think this would work, though I can't be sure - I've never traveled very far with my folders. In fact, my longest trip to date was our Disney Adventure this past May, and I just left the file folders home. I did take my planner, of course. ;)

The Main Ingredients:


Shown above are the main components of my planning system. From left to right: my homekeeping binder, this week's file folder with planning sheet attached, the notebook in which I store those weekly planning sheets, and my personal planner.

Now, I don't normally keep these things here on this table, it's just where the light was best when I started taking pictures! Where I do keep these items (along with a few other things) is up on the kitchen island, spread out where I like to "work."


As shown in previous posts, I had been storing the binder in the file crate (in the cabinet below), but I found I hardly ever used it - let alone looked at it - anymore! Since I've removed the monthly calendar from the binder, I don't use it as "daily" as I used to, but there is still much timely information stored inside. (Current projects, seasonal ideas, sports schedules, etc.)

The weekly file folder is laid out on top with all the papers (reminders, etc.) I need for this week tucked inside. Also kept out in the open is my monthly personal planner. This might look new to some longtime readers - and it is "new" in the sense I haven't posted about it before, but I've been using it consistently since the beginning of August and I'm very happy with it!

You might remember me posting about the large, two-page, month-at-a-glance calendar pages I used in my homekeeping binder. I've used these pages on and off for many years - and I come back to them so often because I absolutely love them. They're just about perfect - in look, feel and function - but what they are not perfect in, unfortunately, is size. While I relished the ample writing space, I didn't love having to lug the whole big binder with me when I went out; I also didn't like using a "satellite" purse-size planner in its place. (Keeping two calendars "synced up" was time consuming and sloppy - things would very easily slip through the cracks.)

I'd been struggling with this issue - looking around at alternatives, trying to make do - and I finally determined I would simply make my own planner. (By gum, I'd done it before, and I could do it again, lol!) I had even created a template - added seasonal bits and bobs, started shopping for pretty paper - but you know how it goes. Time kept getting away from me and the planner "prototype" ended up sitting halfway done on my shelf.

Anyhoo, I happened to be at Staples one day in late July, helping Bookworm pick out a student planner, when these very pretty, very PINK planners caught my eye. Now, pink is not usually my color - but these planners were just so pretty I had to take a closer peek! (And truth be told, I am very weak when it comes to office supplies in general - but calendars in particular - at this time of year.)

The New Planner

So this planner is made by a company called momAgenda and the whole design, as you can see, is very feminine and appealing. Soft pastel pages, delicate fonts ...



I really liked its size - perfectly totable - and the lay-flat, spiral-binding. The paper felt great, too - light and smooth (paper nuts like me know what I mean by that) - but what sold me was the overall set up.

All the month-@-a-glance calendars are up front (through December 2012):


They're very similar to those big pages I had in my binder - wide blocks, light lines - and just look how pretty! I don't like a lot of clutter in my calendars - decor and whatnot. This understated soft blue and brown is very tidy and eye-appealing.

The weekly pages are great too:


I know this doesn't give you a close look, but basically, it's a two-page per week spread, with seven columns (again, lightly lined). The columns are broken up with an agenda area at the top and several blocks stacked below for additional notes. The momAgenda suggests using these for each family member's schedule, written out below your own personal schedule - but I like keeping all family activities in one place. (Since we home educate, most of our activities are overlapping if not all-encompassing.) So instead, I use these lines for specific daily to-do's - i.e. "Defrost ground chicken." - or - "Bring approval letter to Barnes & Noble on Saturday." (It's Educator Appreciation Week and I need to update my card.)

As I said, I've been using this planner for over two months now and it's really working well for me. I use it in combination with the weekly planning sheet stapled to the front of my file folder (seen at right, below).

The File Folder:


This is perhaps my favorite part of my entire planning "system" if only because it has worked so well, for so long. I know I've harped on said it before, but honestly, I've used the file folder system for YEARS and it has always worked so well for me! I've done many, many posts on just what kinds of things go inside these folders (aka, how I use them) so I won't go into all that now, but suffice it to say, they truly help me keep a handle on our household management.

Now, simply put, the weekly planning sheets are a place for working out the week ahead. Here is where I write out dinner menus, mark days of note, list my to-do's and housekeeping tasks and brainstorm any "learning & living" ideas. I still hand-write my pages - mostly because I just like it that way - but someday I may make up a computerized version, something I can just print out (and share). For now, I keep all my planning pages in one place, the floral notebook seen above (to the left of the pink planner). As a week approaches I tear the page out and attach it to the file folder for that week. (Note: I used to keep these planning pages in the homekeeping binder as well - I found it more convenient to keep them more accessible, yet still all in one place.)

The Rest of the Stuff:


Up on my counter I keep a couple of baskets that hold the rest of my planning/puttering paraphernalia. On the right is where I keep my clippings journal and at left is the basket in which I keep my coupons, shopping notebook, bills, receipts/stubs and address book. It's all out in the open, so one could say it looks a bit messy, but I don't mind a little bit of clutter when it's contained in such a pretty, colorful way. :)

And while I'm at it, here is how we're storing the homeschool curriculum this year ...

The Boys' Book Crates:


We finally outgrew the LL Bean tote bags and have now graduated to large wooden crates. The boys each have their own crate (designated by the monogram), and at present, the crates are parked on top of a bench in the dining room. As the boys do most of their work at the kitchen island and/or the dining room table, the crates are convenient to both of these work spaces.

So, there you have it! A little (or long, lol) check-in with my current mode of organizing these days! I hope it was interesting to read through - I know I tend to ramble on - and if you have any questions please do leave me a note. I will try to get back to you as soon as I can. :)

In the meantime, I hope you all have a great Monday - what a nice start to the week! We're not taking this day off -  because even though the school kids are off, Bill is not - so it will be "standard operating procedure" around here. First up - watching a beautiful Monarch butterfly hopefully come to life on our deck today. She landed there yesterday and became quite still in the late day shade. She's still in the same place this morning, her delicate wings glittering with dew. I'm not sure if she's dead or just in some kind of stasis. We'll be keeping a close eye and of course, taking lots of pictures. This is autumn nature study in action, my friends!

Have a good one, and many blessings to you all ... I'll be back again very soon!

A Celestial Suncatcher


Earlybird has always had a "thing" for astronomy - I'd say his passion for space is second only to his love for trains! Not surprisingly then, we spend lots of time learning about the universe and all its myriad marvels ~ the planets and stars, the moon and the sun ...

So one of our favorite books to read on the Feast of St. Francis is based on our patron saint's beautiful hymn, "The Canticle of the Sun." The praise for God's creation paints such a striking picture, and the connection made between us and all of nature - "Brother Sun" and "Sister Moon," "Brother Wind" and "Sister Fire" - is quite memorable. I thought it would be fun to make a craft to go along with our reading - hands-on, visual learning is key with EB - so I conjured up this pretty little suncatcher.

Now, it's nothing fancy, but there are some tricky parts to the craft, so parental supervision and/or assistance is necessary.

Our main materials:


clear contact paper

scissors, craft knife

 pencil, fine black sharpie

paints, paintbrush

paper plates

tissue paper

I began by tracing a "window" design onto the plate (I used a template cut from another plate):




Then EB helped me fashion one side of the circle into a sun shape:


After cutting out the rays with EB, I used the craft knife to cut out the "windows" on either side of the craft. (I did this on a thick sheaf of cardboard to protect the workspace from my knife.)


Now we had our sun and moon shape, separated by a center strip:


And EB set to work painting his sun and his moon!


As we worked we talked about "hot" and "cold" colors:


Once EB was satisfied with his painting we left the craft to dry in the front window.


I next cut out a circle of clear contact paper to fit the back of the craft, sticky-side facing forwards:


Then I gave EB two separate piles of "cold" and "hot" tissue paper squares (which I had cut up in advance). 


Since EB balked at the feel of the sticky contact paper, I ended up adding the colorful squares to our window openings ...


Lastly, I wrote "Brother Sun, Sister Moon" down the center panel and the craft was all done and ready to hang!


It looked pretty in our learning room windows yesterday afternoon ...


But it now resides in EB's bedroom window, catching the early morning light as you can see in the top photo. :)

One thing we meant to do, but didn't due to a forgetful mama, was to add glittery silver stars to the moon's outer edge. We had scrapbook paper and a star-shaped craft punch, but stickers would work just as well.

Well, I hope you are all having a nice week. (Is it Wednesday already?) Our new day is getting underway here now so I'd best be off ... thanks so much for stopping by ... I will see you again soon!


Friends of St. Francis

Happy Feast of St. Francis, everyone!

And what a stormy start it was this morning! We woke to heavy thunderstorms passing through - wicked lightning and crashing thunder, hail hitting the deck, and our street completely flooded! (Luckily, no water got in our basement ... and the flooding has receded.)

Things are quieter here now - the sky might even be clearing up - which would be very nice since I have a few outdoor activities planned for today ...

Now, as I've mentioned before, Saint Francis is our family patron saint, for as a great lover of nature, he is the patron of animals and the environment - two big passions of ours!

So how will we celebrate this special day? Well, to begin with, we will think of his beautiful prayer ... and we'll spend time appreciating the nature all around us. It's always fun to go somewhere special - a park, beach or field - but I think this day is nice for appreciating the nature right under our noses. Speaking of, I have the nature shelf back up and running - and so far the kittens have ignored this spot, though I'm not expecting that to last, lol!


(The nature treasures are tucked inside that ball jar for the moment. Not easy to see, but safe from prying paws.)

And speaking of paws, we'll also appreciate our beloved kittens today. We have a simple blessing ceremony to perform, and "the fellas" (as we fondly call them) will get a special treat this afternoon. Though I have to tell you, Archie is running all over the house at the moment, just causing all kinds of havoc. Hunting birds through the windows (giving them a good whack now and again), stalking paint cups, dumping waste baskets and chewing math papers. The usual kitten mayhem, just upped a notch or two. We are convinced he knows it's "St. Francis Day" and that he thinks it gives him a free pass, lol!


I also have a neat craft to do with Earlybird today - a Brother Sun/Sister Moon suncatcher that will go along nicely with a reading of The Canticle of the Sun ...

Be praised, my Lord, through all your creatures!

Sir Brother Sun is the first. With him, You give us light of day.

For he is beautiful and radiant, he is full of splendor;

He is the symbol of You, Most High!

Be praised, my Lord, for Sister Moon and all the Stars!

You placed them in the sky; And made them bright and lovely and fair.

Such a beautiful prayer, and it would be a wonderful way to kick off a unit study of the elements! (The canticle goes on to praise God for "Brother Wind," "Sister Water," and "Brother Fire," etc.) Just imagine the notebooking possibilities!

(Note: I'll post our craft project results later.)

We'll make sure to fill all our birdfeeders today, and while we're filling the feeders, we'll neaten the area and make note of what needs attention or replacing. 

And for supper tonight - it's Italian! I have ground turkey on hand to use up, so I'll make meatballs ... and then I'll make our traditional St. Francis supper - sausage and rice stuffed peppers. I'm using a nice mild chicken sausage, whole grain rice and fresh veggies we picked up at the farmstand yesterday. Cheesy-garlic toasts will round out the meal followed by assorted Italian cookies and some "Italian" steamed milk. (Very simply - steamed milk with a little honey and hazelnut flavoring.)

So a fun feast day ahead ~ and now I'd best be off to get all these balls rolling! I hope yours is a good one, and thanks so much for stopping by! I will be back again very soon ...