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January 2012

Tuesday Tea ... and Soup!

Good afternoon, my friends ... I hope you all had a nice day!


Tuesdays are generally a quiet day for us, and happily today was no exception. I always get the baking bug on days like this when I feel I can spend a little time and energy on a few homey activities. My first impulse was to bake some oatmeal-raisin cookies (Bill's favorite) but alas - I had run out of eggs! So instead I opted to make some break-apart chocolate chip cookies. They were easy, that's for sure - but they were a nice treat for the boys after lunch - and for me too, at tea! :)

(Along with that cookie, I also had a little clementine and a cup of orange-spice tea. And this "town library" mug is one of my favorites to drink from - particularly my morning coffee. Also, if you notice, I "took tea" at my new desk today, rather in my comfy reading chair. It was a nice change - I watched the birds through the windows and looked at the computer ... but this was most likely a one-time thing. It was just not quite as relaxing!)

So it was a nice day overall ... quiet on the home front, and quiet on the weather front as well. In fact, it was mild enough that the boys clamored to take "recess" outside, lol. Therefore, fueled on chicken nuggets and the aforementioned cookies, the younger two headed out back after lunch ...


... while the cats watched from the door ...


... and I got started on the evening's soup!


I'm following a recipe found in this fantastic cookbook for "superb squash soup with parmesan croutons." I prepped all the vegetables and herbs while making lunch and set the rest of the ingredients out on the counter. I also readied my pot. (I know we've talked about this before, but it makes things so much easier when we set out the supper-prep - or even do some of the supper prep - earlier in the day.)

So I am very excited to serve soup tonight! It's such a wintertime staple ... soothing for the soul and all that. In addition to the soup - which, let's be honest, the younger boys may or may not eat - I'll make grilled cheese and turkey panini as well. Now, on a health note, the soup has no dairy, which is good for my Bill, who is lactose-intolerant.

{And if anyone would like the recipe, just let me know ...}

So friends, here's a random little question for you ... if you have the time and inclination to answer ... what is your favorite kind of soup?

I'm on a real kick this year (so far anyway!) to include more fruits and vegetables in our family diet, and to that end, I want to make more soup. I think soup is a very comforting, yet healthy meal - high in nutrition, low in cost. (Generally speaking.) I truly love the whole idea of soup ... and I'm forever clipping out soup recipes ... but for some reason I just never get around to making it!

So I'll have to let you all know how this squash soup turns out ... but I'm going to log off now, drain my tea and head to the kitchen to get things going. I hope you all had a nice Tuesday, and that you found some time today to take tea - or cocoa or a latte or whatever suits your fancy ...

What I'm really trying to say is, I hope you found time for you!

Have a good night, everyone ... I will see you again sometime soon!


Household Files and Binder Tabs

Hello, and Good Morning, my friends!

HB tabs 4

I've had a couple of requests to share what categories I keep in my (new) household file drawer, as well as in my (old) home management binder.

And so that's just what this post will address. :)

In my household file drawer I have the following categories ...









special needs







{I also have recipe storage in this drawer; I can do a separate post on that later.}


And in my home management binder I have the following tabs ...

1. cover page/contact information

2. current season planning page

3. month @ a glance calendars

4. seasonal planning pages

5. home management:

routines/cleaning notes

emergency information

room by room notes

gardening notes

entertaining notes

6. menus and marketing:

master grocery list

family dinner menus

in season overview/local sources

holiday/seasonal baking notes

idea lists: snacks, desserts, breakfast, lunch

pantry checklist

7. budgetkeeping:

monthly budget

family financial information

spending diary

upcoming expenses

8. phone and addresses:


soccer team list



passwords & pin numbers

9. faith at home:

liturgical seasons/yearly overview

feast day celebrations

patron saints

family Sacraments

our parish

"Sundays are Special"

 family goals/mission

10. learning with nature:

weekly themes

activities list

supplies list

nature shelf

places to visit/explore


newsletter project

11. family facts:

family tree

info. for each family member 

12. personal pursuits:


file crate system




craft storage/supplies list

books to read list


13. family jaunts:

day trips/excursions

vacation plans

14. And in the very back I have a pocket for miscellaneous things - future tabs, etc.


Well, I hope this post was helpful, or maybe interesting to some! :)

But either way, thank you so much for stopping by. Thank you also, to those who joined in with the Downton discussion - what fun it is to follow this show all together! I love reading all your thoughts and theories on what happened this time ... and what might happen next. But the season is really flying by, isn't it? What on earth will we do when it's over, lol?

(So glad to hear a Season 3 is in the works - and how fantastic that Shirley MacLaine will be playing Cora's mother! I'm guessing a wedding brings the American grandmother overseas ...?)

Well, I'm off! But have a great day, everyone ... I'll be back later today with my weekly Teatime post. Until then, take care and be well ... I'll see you again very soon!

Last Night's 'Downton' ~ Oh My!

Good Morning, everyone!

Downton abbey

Well, that was quite an episode. I'm very eager to hear what you all thought ... I'm working out my own thoughts this morning and, once I do, they'll be in the comments below.

Also, if you have a Downton blog post or website to share, please leave me a link and I'll post it right here.

In the meantime, have a great Monday, my friends ... I will see you very soon!


Outfitting a Home-Centered Desk


But first, a Good Sunday evening to you all. :)

Here we are at the very close of the week, and I finally have a desk post to share with you! It was such a nice sunny day (and fairly mild, too), so I had lots of light and fresh air to work in ...

And here's my new desk, situated in the southwestern corner of our learning/sitting room:


As you can see, I now have an honest-to-goodness "desk chair" for my desk! Bill and the boys brought it home from Staples today, and it's very comfortable, I'm happy to say.

So first off, I worked on filling in (i.e. organizing) all the drawers ... 


The lower drawers are for file folders. On the left I will keep recipe storage and household information. (Seen in the picture at the top of this post.) And on the right is my File Crate System (my weekly file folders).

The top drawers are devoted to the various materials I need as "home manager." On the left: a correspondence basket, stickers and labels, and a master to-do pad (suspiciously empty at the moment, lol).


On the right: my budgetkeeping drawer.


(It may not look very organized, but honestly - it is!)

There is a metal basket nestled in there, and inside that is another small basket holding coupons and gift certificates. Also in the metal basket are current bills to pay, weekly church envelopes, business cards (held together by a binder clip) and my calculator. In the front section of the drawer is a plastic zip-top envelope in which I will (temporarily) store shopping receipts. On the left side of the drawer is a stack of monthly statements (held together by a binder clip - boy, do I love binder clips, lol!). 

Now, I showed you the right hand side of the desk when I first arranged it the other day. It looks pretty much the same, only I made that little letter holder a bit more purposeful. (It now holds a task binder, the "active" weekly file folders, my notecards, shopping notebook, and daily routine index cards.)

Above the desk I hung my projects clipboard.


On the windowsill, just behind this side of the desk, I used those pretty planter pots for some tiny desk accoutrements. :)


Orange holds tiny multicolor clothespins (for a neat project I'll tell you about soon), yellow holds small binder clips, green holds nothing at the moment but I had stuck my reading glasses in there, and blue holds medium size binder clips.

(So far the cats have left these little pots alone, but that could all change in a moment - most likely an after-midnight moment - so we shall see.)

Now, the left side of the desk I've kept mostly open because I can't decide what I want to put here, but for now, I have a small crate with my clipping journal.


(Which was promptly taken over by Archie.)


I think I'd like to get a two-tiered inbox for this spot. A place in which I'd keep things to look at - correct, address, file, etc. I'm thinking about getting something like this.

So here's the desk view to the left ... my reading (and tea) corner.


And here's the desk view to the right ... the family reading corner.


A closer look at Earlybird's February "library" nook:


Underneath that table there are nature puppets, a portable dvd player and a basket of videos, puzzle buckets and a few games.

So I think it's coming together quite nicely! The desk fits in well here, and it feels great to have a space devoted to home management. The family computer is located here, so the boys do share this desk with me sometimes. In fact, as I finish this post, I'm sitting in my reading chair working on my laptop, while the boys are at the desk, laughing at some Star Wars website ...

And Archie's still in that crate!


Well my friends, I hope you enjoyed this tour of my new desk, but I'm going to sign off now as it's getting late and I've kept you here long enough! I'm looking forward to a quiet Sunday evening with my fellas, having supper and watching TV ... but I'll be here bright and early tomorrow to kick off our Downton discussion, so I'll catch up with all again then! 

*★ Good night! ★*

A Winter Thought

"The shortest day has passed, and whatever nastiness of weather we may look forward to in January and February, at least we notice that the days are getting longer. Minute by minute they lengthen out. It takes some weeks before we become aware of the change. It is imperceptible even as the growth of a child, as you watch it day by day, until the moment comes when with a start of delighted surprise we realize that we can stay out of doors in a twilight lasting for another quarter of a precious hour."

~ Vita Sackville-West

Standing at February's doorstep, I can feel the days getting brighter ... can you?

Sunny and cold here today ... a good day to be out and about. Just finished breakfast, all bundled up, list in one hand, bag in the other ... grabbing one more coffee to go!

Have a good one, my friends!



{Late} Friday Felines

{Sneaking this in at the very end of the day!}

Before I begin though, I want to thank you again for your kind thoughts and prayers for our cold-infested kitties. They are both doing much better ... but because they are still sneezing (a bit) we will keep them on another week of antibiotics. Just to be sure the infection is completely kicked out of their systems. :)

Now, looking back a week or so, here's Archie getting his first "taste" of Winter:


Ollie, understandably, felt left out ...


(He's actually yawning, but we think it looks like he's yelling. Something like "Hey, don't hog it all, Archie!")

I love this picture of the two of them. You can really see the difference in their coloring. People often remark how alike they look, but really, to us, they look so different now. We see it in their faces, their body size and especially their coloring ... Archie is more yellow-orange, whereas Ollie is more "buff."


You can see the difference a little better in this photo:


"Oh yeah?" says Archie. "Ollie might be "buff" but I'm agile!"



So remember we had Chinese last week? Well, Oliver was just obsessed with the chopsticks. First he stalked them for a while, and then he picked them off the counter one by one ...





Once he cleared the counter, he was unsure what to do next:


So Crackerjack helped him out:



And here are the two of them, "helping" Bill unpack my new desk:


(They love to "help," these two.)

And finally, here are a couple of shots by the older boys ...

This one was taken by Bookworm - Archie sleeping, while hiding his face:


And this was taken by Crackerjack just a few hours ago - Oliver close up.


(aka Oliver being rudely awoken by a camera all up in his face.)

 >^.^< ❤ >^.^< ❤

Well, my friends ... I do hope you had a nice Friday, and I wish you all a happy weekend. I will check in at some point, but until then, thanks so much for stopping by!

I'll see you again sometime soon ...


Planning a New Week

Good morning, my friends ... and Happy Friday!


I'm hoping to get a Friday Felines post up later today, but I don't have a draft started yet, so I can't say for sure. But I thought I'd pop on really quickly this morning, and talk a bit about next week. There's a lot coming up!

Looking at the week of January 30-February 5, 2012, my notes are as follows:

Days of the Blackbird

February begins!

St. Brigid's Day

Candlemas/Groundhog Day

Crackerjack's Book Group

My Haircut :)

Focus on the Feeders Weekend

Parish Pancake Breakfast

(National Weatherman Day)

(World Nutella Day)

Superbowl XLVI!

What a fun week! February can be a tough month to love, so it's nice to have fun things - familiar things - to look forward to. I'm working on a few projects this weekend - setting up my desk (yay!), reorganizing my household binder (post to come!), and preparing for next week (of course) ...

To that end, today I'm finalizing our dinner menus for next week, and writing out the shopping & errands list for Saturday. Another thing I usually do on Fridays, ahead of weekend errands, is to organize my pocketbook and coupon collection. Now, I'm usually on top of the pocketbook pruning, but I'm afraid I've become a bit lax in the coupon department. I think the holidays threw me off, but really I can just blame my own laziness. I'd like to get back to it though, since one of my New Year resolutions is to be more efficient with the household budget - and family food takes up a lot of that budget!

I was recently reminded of my coupon failings when I spied a woman at the grocery store who had a whole binder devoted to coupons! Literally, a big black binder was perched in the child seat of her shopping cart, and it appeared to be filled with sheet protectors holding all kinds of coupons. I commented on it as I passed by - "Wow, that's quite a neat thing you've got there!" (hint, hint: tell me all about it, lol!) - but she didn't say much in return. (I think she was quite engrossed in the produce she was weighing.) Has anyone tried this - using a binder for your coupons? I find the concept fascinating, but I bet this is for hard core coupon queens ... whereas I'm a dabbler at best. ;)

Well, anyhoo there's some food for thought for the day, but for now I must be off! My friends, I hope you all have a great Friday ... I'll check back in just as soon as I can.


File Folder Migration

Well, I took a few steps towards setting my desk up today! First off, I moved the file crate system (sans crate) into its new home:

File folder drawer 1

The folders fit perfectly in this drawer. :)

File folder drawer 2

Now, you all might remember how hard Bill worked to set me up with an under-counter, in-cabinet, rolling-cage scenario last year? (God bless that man, he is good to me!) Well, I am happy to say I made this file folder "migration" with his blessing. When he found this desk online and showed it to me, the first thing(s) he pointed out were the TWO file folder drawers!

(And not to fret - that rolling cage thingy will be put to good use - he's thinking he might keep his "upstairs" tools in the crate for easy access. OR we might keep seasonal baking supplies under here ...)

I also started laying out a bit of my "stuff" on the desktop to see how it would look.

New desk top 2

I'm really trying to keep my penchant for clutter under control, so I'm doing this little by little. (Carefully arranged and color-coordinated "clutter" is soothing to me, lol - but I know open spaces are more efficient, and to most eyes, more attractive.) Helene asked about a lamp and a chair ... and we're thinking on that. I'm not sure I need a lamp here, since we do have two soft lights in either corner of this room, as well as an overhead light. And then of course, there are all those sunny windows! But Bill mentioned something about a task light so we'll see ...

As for the chair, well the one we're using here is just a stand-in till we get a proper desk chair. (It's a lovely chair - an old family piece - but it's low and very hard!) Actually, we bought a desk chair at Staples a month ago for EB and it was not too expensive but very comfy and nice looking. Though I love the idea of a white, wooden "swivel" chair I'm going to opt for comfort over style ... or hopefully, a happy marriage of the two. :)

So the stuff I set up today included my Mary Engelbreit page-a-day calendar, which I set upon a slice of tree branch. The branch gives the small plastic calendar a little more presence, and compliments the woodsiness visible through the windows. I also set my pens, pencils and scissors in an old candle jar. The red goes with the room, of course, and I love the star motif.

New desk top 3

Also added, was this pretty metal letter/file holder. I used to keep it up on the kitchen island, tucked against the wall corner. In this, I keep odds and ends - some practical, some pretty - but I do display my current ("active") file folders here.

Keeps them handy and visible!

New desk top 4

Then of course I laid out my primary planning tools:

New desk top 5

The month @ a glance calendar, my household binder and my Daybook. The daybook is open to next week's planning page because that is what I worked on today. (I start my "next week planning" on Thursdays.) The little notebook is my "weekend errands" notebook. I start working on that on Thursdays as well.

And you can't see them too well here, but there are tiny ceramic plant-pots on the windowsill. I bought these at the nursery for all of $2 apiece! We may plant seed in them on Candlemas (or perhaps Ash Wednesday) or I may just use them to hold little desk things like camera batteries, flash drives, binder clips and such.

So that's all I've done so far! The other three drawers are still empty and the other side of the desk is still open. I'm slowly working my way around ... :)

Well, my friends, thank you so much for stopping by ... I hope your Thursday was a good one! Our day was busy (in and out, back and forth), but we're home now and the sky's growing dark - though it seems to stay "light" a little longer these days ... and that's a very welcome thing! 

So have a good night, everyone ~ I will see you again soon!

Flowers at the Office ...

My goodness, but it was a long and busy day! But I wanted to pop on quickly and show you a better picture of my desk ... as well as these pretty things:


Remember the tiny white carnations yesterday? Well, ladies and gentlemen ~ we now have ourselves rainbow flowers! (Honestly, they started turning color after only 30 minutes! I think the short stems do the trick.)

Anyways, here's a better view of my new desk, a birthday present from Bill:

My new desk!

I'm very glad it fits in this corner so well! Bill took numerous measurements to be sure that it would fit, but it can be tricky ordering furniture on the internet. And I like the location of the desk ~ the windows let in lots of natural light and give us a nice view of the birdfeeders (so of course, the cats think of this as one big window seat, lol).

So the learning room has changed quite a bit from when I first started this blog! Some of you might remember the deep wine-colored walls and the large, dark table. I can be funny about change - I tend to like things to stay as they are - but these changes have been gradual, so I'm feeling comfortable with it all.

And our needs as a homeschooling family have changed - one large table around which all the kids work is no longer necessary (or even sensible, lol). The older boys like to work at the kitchen island, while Earlybird and I "learn" all over, depending on what we're working on at the time. I've enjoyed sitting with EB on the loveseat with a library book, a magazine, the iPad, or just watching the birds. The wood flooring is ideal for puzzles and games and other random projects. I also like sitting here in my chair (as I am now) while one son is reading comics on the loveseat, another is playing on the computer and a third is talking to me from the family room just beyond ...

So it's all good! 

(And when it's all tricked out - with a few desk accessories and just a wee bit of clutter - it will be even better. ;))

But of course, this is still a learning room, so I still have baskets of books, puppets and seasonal displays like the nature shelf:

January nature shelf

As well as a special spot for the class mascot:

Archie in shelves

(Who seems to be feeling better ... thank you for your prayers!)

Well, Bill just got home so it's time for me to sign off. I hope you all have a great evening ... thanks so much for stopping by ... I will see you again very soon!

Hot Cocoa, Handcrafts and a New Command Center!


We enjoyed such mild weather today! It was so sunny, and the air felt soft (if that makes sense) and smelled almost like Spring. Even so, the boys and I thought it was a good day for cocoa! So my "Tuesday Tea" this week was hot chocolate with a dollop of whipped cream and a small shake of cinnamon sugar. This mug was a gift from another homeschooling mom years ago ... it was made locally and I just love its earthy colors and texture. :)

And speaking of gifts, I'd like to show you some lovely things made for me by two kind and thoughtful friends ...

The first is this pretty tea towel, hand-sewn by Elizabeth:


Isn't it beautiful? The colors are just perfect with my kitchen! And the nostalgic pattern reminds me of my new set of mixing bowls:



And Theresa crocheted these sweet kitty toys for my Archie and Ollie:


As you might expect, the kittens are simply smitten with them ...



 I am so grateful to Elizabeth and Theresa for their lovely and thoughtful, gifts. I will treasure them always! ❤

Now, before I go I must give you all a peek at my new desk - aka "command center!"

Here's how it looks from my "tea corner" where I'm sitting at this very moment ... that's Bill figuring out the wiring underneath.


I think it fits the corner very well!


(My "corner office," lol.)

I will do a follow up desk post (more than one, most likely) once I have all my 'stuff' arranged. I love how clean and clutter-free it looks, and I'll try to keep that in mind as I arrange. ;)

Well, my friends, thank you so much for stopping by today! I hope you all had a nice Tuesday, and I hope your night brings you much comfort and rest. Tomorrow is a busy day for us ~ we're hosting Bookworm's Brit Lit group here in the morning, so I may not "check in" till after lunch. So if I don't make it on early - have a good Wednesday as well!

Magic Flowers and Morning Notes


Longtime readers may find this photo a little familiar ... and that's because we do this "experiment" every year! ;)

We call them our magic flowers ... we take tiny white carnations (January's flower smells oh-so-good) and turn them into "rainbow carnations" with just a little water and food dye. This annual activity lends itself to a nice conversation on plant structure, while looking very pretty in the window! It's also a fun way to bring a little light and color into our normally cold and gray winter.

Well, I hope you all have a nice Tuesday ... the Downton comments are still coming in, so be sure to check in for new thoughts and theories. Also, while I'm thinking of it - tomorrow is both Robert Burns Day *and* Irish Coffee Day, so we'll brainstorm a little on that. And in case I haven't mentioned it in the last 24 hours, lol - my new desk is scheduled to arrive sometime this morning!

So I'll be back later today with my Tuesday Tea post - and hopefully a little peek at my new desk!

Have a great one, my friends ...

Just for Fun

On National Handwriting Day, I have a special message for you all:



Well, as I say in my note above, I do hope you all had a nice day! Our day was busy - a little crazy here and there to be honest, so I'm happy to see it winding down. In celebration of the "Year of the Dragon," we just enjoyed a delicious Chinese supper, and now we're kicking off the evening routines. (Say ... what's your favorite thing to order at a Chinese restaurant? I myself am quite partial to scallion pancakes - I can eat those things like nobody's business!)

So I'll see you again tomorrow ... before I sign off though, I'm going to pop into the Downton Abbey post and see what you all have to say. I'm eager to read all the thoughts and theories. :)

Have a great night, my friends!

A Little Downtown Discussion

Good Monday morning, my friends!

Downton abbey

So, what did you think of last night's DA?

My thoughts are in the comment box below. They're not as in-depth (i.e. wordy, lol) as usual because we're getting a late start here this morning, and CJ needs my help finishing up an art project. Lots of things tumbling around in my mind though ... interesting developments last night!

Can't wait to hear what you all thought ...


p.s. If you notice at the top of the comments section there is a "feed" you can subscribe to (in email) that will send new comments made to this post right to your inbox. (As I understand it, that is.) I just wanted to point that out in case it would make it easier for you to follow the conversation. Also, the Mr. Linky thing is still a bit of a puzzle to me so for now, if you have a post (or know of a post) about Downton, please leave me a link below and I'll tack it to the bottom of mine.


Bobbi at Revolution of Love has a wonderful post on her Downton thoughts - check it out here. She also has an interesting post on the "Catholic connection" to Downton. (Thanks for the link, Bobbi!)

Late Sunday Post

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

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


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


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


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

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

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

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


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


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

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

My poor little fellas!


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

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

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


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

Only then will I return to Staples, lol. 


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

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


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


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

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


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

Snowflakes on Saturday ...


... the kind that fall from the sky, as well as the kind that come from the pizzelle press! (Or the bakery, as the case may be.)

Today we enjoyed both kinds of snowflakes! First off, a storm pushed through New England, bringing several inches to our area ... and then today happens to be the Feast of St. Agnes, so we had "snowflake cookies" in her honor. (Once upon a time, snowflakes were called "St. Agnes Flowers.") I just dusted vanilla pizzelle cookies (store-bought, not homemade) with powdered sugar and voila ...


Snowflake cookies!

To continue our "snowflake theme" of the day ...


I put up these Martha Stewart Craft Snowflake Window Clings. So pretty, and appropriate now that our New England Winter has finally kicked in ...



This is nice. This feels like January to me. :)

Now, I must confess, the whole day did not feel quite so nice - not when I, somewhat unexpectedly, had to take our sweet Archie to the vet!


(This is my little guy in the cat carrier, en route to his appointment. He was not happy about this.)

He started sneezing on Friday - like, constantly - and though he ate and behaved normally this morning, around lunchtime his right eye began to weep. And then he got quiet.

(At least "quiet" for Archie.)

After a little hemming and hawing, I called our vet who, thankfully, had office hours today. So just after setting out those pretty pizzelle cookies, I whisked Archie into his carrier, out into the storm, and off to the vet ...


(Between the roads, my nerves - and that little face! - my knuckles were white on that steering wheel!)

First, may I say, that Archie was as good as gold at the vet - though he growled a bit when they took his temp., lol. His lungs sounded clear which was really good news, but because he had a slight fever, and his "excretions" bore signs of infection, we were sent home with eye ointment and an antibiotic.

Bottom line ... he'll be fine with proper treatment and, of course, lots of LOVE. (And I would deeply appreciate any prayers you can spare for our Archie!)

I'm so glad I didn't hesitate to take him right in when things didn't seem right, because not only will the medicine kick in that much sooner, but I'll sleep better tonight!

And as for Archie, he's just glad to be home ...


Well, my friends, I hope you're all having a nice weekend ... it's time here for supper now, so I'll be off. Thank you so much for stopping by ... I will see you all again very soon!

Friday Felines: Care to join in?

This week's Friday Felines is brought to you by Whole Foods shopping bags ... which apparently make a purrrrfect cat playground!

(Sorry, couldn't resist!)

So last Saturday I went food shopping at Whole Foods, as you can see. I brought in all the bags which immediately caught Ollie's attention.

Here he is sniffing at an empty bag ...


And here he is inside the (no longer) empty bag:


Archie came over to investigate what on earth his brother was doing ... it looked like fun and it didn't involve Archie.

(And, that just wouldn't do.)


A slight movement from inside the bag, (most likely Ollie, cursing his bad luck) and Archie pounced!


I'm gonna gitcha ...


Hmm ... but HOW can I 'git' ya?


I know! I'll tear into the bag with my super-sharp kitty teeth!




Oh, hello Ollie!

Here, let me chew on your ear.


Ollie peeked out from inside his no-longer "secret" spot ...


... and Archie attacked him (of course).


But wait!


Can I fit in there too? Move over Ollie!


No, seriously - let me in.


Ollie! Get your paws off me and let me in!


Nom nom nom.

Finally, Ollie gave up.


Archie had the bag all to himself now ...


But, where's the fun in that?


A hollow victory, it seemed.


What are YOU lookin' at?


Ok, I'll try something else. This bag looks promising ...


Ooh, Mama got the good stuff! I smell carrots!


Meanwhile, as Archie was occupied elsewhere, Ollie attempted to move back into his bag. Shwrecked, though it was.


(Note: I don't really think "shwreck" is an actual word - it just makes sense to us so we use it frequently. Not generally in public though, just amongst ourselves. You see, "shwreck" denotes a greater level of ruin than just plain old "wreck.")

(I bet you all have words like that too ... or maybe we're just a strange family, I don't know! Other words in our "self-stylized" vocabulary include: exhaustified, dramatical and shmuckled.)

But back to the cats ...

Just when it seemed Archie would not allow Ollie a moment's peace ...


... he gave up and moved on ...


... leaving Ollie behind with the bag, thoroughly ripped into ruin.


So much for that playground!

Here's what we had left of the bag. 


And I will say it was a good old bag. It served us well, and it served our cats even better. It gave its life to the food it carried and the cats it kept entertained - so what more could we ask? It's in the recycle bin now ... where it will hopefully move on to greener pastures.

 I actually had a few other scenarios to show you - one involving Ollie and a chopstick, for example - but this post got awfully long. Well long, but hopefully not awful, lol. So I'll end it here for this week - and save my other stories for a future Friday.


But, I have two more things to talk about before I go ...

First, on a serious note, I would like to dedicate this edition of "Friday Felines" to a dear little cat, Toby, who was put to sleep earlier this week. He belonged to very close friends of ours, and we feel so badly about his sudden loss. He was a beautiful cat, and so very sweet. My boys kind of grew up playing with him because whenever we'd visit our friends, they'd spend half their time playing with the cats! (Our friends do the same here - we're all cat people.)

Our friends are very sad of course, but I hope they can take comfort in knowing what a wonderful life they gave Toby. Memories, too, will bring comfort ... though right now it's hard to think and not feel. We know this all too well, having lost several cats ourselves over the past few years ...

The pain will fade in time ... but the love never will.

Rest in peace, Toby. We'll miss you!


And the second thing I want to talk about today is this little linky situation at the bottom of the post. Last week Chrissy suggested I make "a linky" for my FF series and I wasn't quite sure what that meant. So I did a little googling and (hopefully) figured out how to do a "Mr. Linky" here ... which will enable my readers to join in on the feline fun!

So if you would like to share a picture of, or post on, your cat(s) from your blog, please leave me your name, and a link to that post below! (And comments are always welcome and much appreciated, too!)

Fingers crossed I did this right - if not, I'll keep tinkering!

{ETA: It worked! I hope it's easy to use, and I hope some of my readers will use it - I'd love to hear about/see your felines, too. And now I'm thinking this Mr. Linky thing would be GREAT for Tuesday Tea ... Downton Abbey ... even File Crate posts!) 

Have a great weekend, my friends - thank you so much for stopping by!

Craft Night!

Well, I'm more than a little groggy this morning, but last night's Craft Circle was so much fun! In fact, as I type up this post I am enjoying my coffee along with a piece of the deep, dark gingerbread my friend Kim brought last night. It soooo delicious with a dollop of whipped cream. (Because, really - what's a Craft Night without delicious treats such as this?)

Now, my pictures are very dark because, a. I took them at night, and b. I was distracted by my "hostessing duties," so I didn't pay attention to things like flash settings and such.

Nevertheless, I'd like to share them with you!

I was expecting about eight women, but between illness and other responsibilities, only five could make it. So it was a nice cozy circle. :) Crafts included a sewing project, fashioning felt flowers, crochet and knit projects, paper crafting and as for me ... I worked in my clippings journal.


(A very little.)

So to prepare for Craft Night I set up the sitting room for tea and refreshments.  


I moved the round table into the (future) desk corner and here I set out some goodies:


And in the opposite corner I set up a tea station ...


(Inside the bear there are cocoa packets - isn't he cute?)

The family room I cleaned as best I could (of toys, clutter and whatnot) so that we'd have space to settle in and spread out. And of course I vacuumed the life out of the carpet!


And this picture really just does NOT do it justice, but on the platter below are thick pieces of that freshly baked gingebread (Kim's recipe can be found in this post):


Dear me, was it good! I only had smidge last night because I don't like to eat at night, but this morning I couldn't wait to indulge!

So we all sat and sipped and nibbled and chatted - and crafted a bit. It was a wonderful evening, the kind that relaxes you and recharges you at the same time. :)

We kept the "snow lights" on so we could see the first flakes fall, and I got to show off our flying squirrels. (They paid the feeders a visit during the meeting!) I also showed off my kitties a little (well, they showed off themselves). They were eager to be part of the group ...

Archie investigating a bag ...


... quite thoroughly.


The two of them ...


... they can be such trouble.


I think they gave the ladies a good idea of just how much trouble they can be! (Jumping on tables, knocking stuff over, scrabbling up the backs of chairs, (play)fighting, etc.) But they did it all looking incredibly cute, of course.

(Speaking of - cats, trouble, cuteness, etc. - I have a "Friday Felines" to go up later today. Probably much later today.) 

And by the way, I really enjoyed reading all your responses about what you'd bring were you coming last night! (And wouldn't that have been fun? We should have a virtual "craftalong" some day ...)

What a wonderful thing it is to have a craft in your life - and some time, now and then, to spend on it. I sense a common theme among moms, though - we all try to find time for it, but as busy as we are, and as full as our lives are, it's quite hard to do that. I find when I can spend an hour or two just sitting (and sitting in itself is a treat!) and puttering over my "stuff" - I sort of reset my system. It's a way of getting in touch with something that is just me - it lifts my spirits and fires up my mind. Blogging makes me feel this way, too. :)

Ok, well I'd best be off - we're getting a late start here - I haven't even checked my email! Oh, and I jumped the gun on the desk delivery - I rearranged my day completely yesterday (even enlisting my mum to help with kid transport) because I knew I had to be here to sign for it. Unfortunately in the midafternoon I received a call from the delivery company - it will be delivered NEXT Tuesday instead. 

So those desk posts will come next week!

In the meantime, my friends, have a nice day ... I will see you again very soon!


Thursday This and That

Good Thursday morning, my friends!

Pink roses

I hope your week's going well. I won't be online much today because I'm hosting a gathering here at the house tonight and in between the boys' lessons and activities and a quick grocery stop - there will be much neatening and setting things up! The meeting I'm hosting is our homeschool support group's monthly "support" meeting. The host gets to choose the theme of the meeting and I have chosen to make this night a "Craft Night." :)

I'm not sure what I'll be working on myself - aside from making calendars, I haven't been doing much crafting lately! I may work on my journal, or I may just look through some "idea" books and magazines. Whatever I end up doing, I'll have fun though - just setting up the tea and refreshments and getting to chat with some lovely friends of mine.

{Now, here's a quick question for you, if you have a minute to answer ~ if you were coming to my Craft Night, what would you bring to work on? I'm always curious to know what people do when they craft!}

Also, while I'm here and before the morning tide pulls me away ... I wanted to answer a couple of questions. Folks are wondering where I find out about the special "national" days that celebrate things like "Winnie the Pooh," "squirrels" and "popcorn," etc.

Well, first of all, if you google any date - along with the word "holidays" - you should come up with a few good hits ... but I like the following sites:

Holiday Insights

The Ultimate Holiday Site

I hope that helps!

Now, another bit of quick news - my new desk is being delivered today! So you can just imagine how excited I am about that. I'll share all about it once I have it set up ... lots of fun "desk" posts to come ... :)

Have a great day, everyone ... I'll see you again very soon!

Happy ... Today!

"What day is it?" asked Pooh. Pooh

"It's today," squeaked Piglet.

"My favorite day," said Pooh.

Today is the birthday of A.A. Milne, and therefore has been dubbed, "National Winnie the Pooh Day." It would be fun to dig out a Pooh book or two and have a little read, or maybe watch a favorite Hundred Acre tale on dvd. Elevenses are essential today though, whatever else you choose to do ... maybe some freshly baked biscuits with a little butter and honey? And some tea, of course, too.

Also - just looking ahead - tomorrow is National Popcorn Day. How might we celebrate that? Well, this is a nice book to read with the littles ... but everyone would enjoy popping up a fresh batch of popcorn. How do you like your popcorn? Salted and buttered? Sprinkled with cheese or a dash of hot pepper? Slathered with caramel and tossed with nuts? (Here are a few seasoning recipes.)

And of course I cannot forget to mention that Saturday is National Squirrel Appreciation Day. Longtime readers know how I feel about squirrels ... and I know many people do not share my fondness for these furry fellas ... but we shall just agree to disagree! Lol. For our part, we will offer our local squirrels some special treats on Saturday (nuts and the like), but for more squirrel ideas check out my "Squirrel Nutkin" nature study from a few years ago ...and my post from last year on Squirrel Appreciation Day. Or you could just do a "squirrel search" at my blog and you'd see just how crazy I really am about these creatures!

So there are a few things to consider this week. Just little things, but fun things all the same ...

"Sometimes," said Pooh, "the smallest things take up the most room in your heart."

Have a great Wednesday, my friends!

Winter Tea Tuesday ...

 January 17th, 2012 


Well, it's raining here now ... the morning snow has mostly melted, and now it's just a dark, drizzly afternoon. Yes, the weather is lousy, but I've decided to just romance the whole thing and pretend I'm living somewhere in England ... Winters are wet and chilly there, yes? 

Weather aside, it's easy to pretend such a thing with the beautiful cup and saucer set shown above. This was a very thoughtful and generous gift from my friend Emma from Norway. She and her children picked this set out for me and had it sent to me for my birthday - and it did indeed arrive on my birthday! (As I said to Emma, it's always fun to receive packages, but never moreso then on one's birthday!)

And isn't it just lovely? The cup is just the right size and delicate shape (reminiscent of my Gram's Irish china, the cups I drank tea from as a child) and the wide saucer plate allows for a sizable snack. Which is just what I did - I allowed myself a sizable snack. ;)

And my snack today (besides the Earl Grey tea), is some lavender-scented shortbread from Dancing Deer, a Boston-based cookie company. We send our non-local relatives gift packages from this company at Christmas, and we have always been thrilled with their service. And of course, the cookies are delicious! (They make brownies, too.) You can find them at Whole Foods - I recommend the molasses clove cookies, especially.

Now, I have to show you a couple of things before I wrap up ... one, is the "new" secretary we now have in our dining room. This is where I keep my new teacup set - along with some other special items:



This handsome piece of furniture (and I'm not sure it's actually a "secretary," maybe its called something else) belonged to Bill's grandmother, and it's long been residing in our basement storage. (For shame, I know!) But with our new dining room coming together we finally have a place for it. It looks especially nice with our dark dining table, and I just love how it looks set against all that yellow!

And something else really quick - here's the pile of books that are thoroughly distracting me from what I should be reading: 


Most of these are Christmas and birthday gifts, but one is from the library and one I've owned for years. (You can probably tell which one that is - the one with the creased binding!) All are tempting reads on a quiet winter's day ... and links will be found under "Mama's Reading" - a sidebar list I'll get up soon.

I also must point out the glowing angel candle in the righthand corner. My parents gave her to me for my birthday - she turns herself on when it gets dark, and then shuts off again after five hours. I find her light so soothing!

Well, my friends, I hope you've all had a nice Tuesday but I must be off. (I bet you knew I was going to say that, didn't you? ;)) My tea break is over and next on my agenda is ... starting the dishwasher, popping a lasagna in the oven, and then jumping into a nice hot shower - I have a new soap to try out!

So have a great night, everyone ... I'll see you again soon!