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February 2012

My Favorite Magazines

A few folks have asked me to share what magazines I read on a regular basis, and of course, I'm happy to do so!

Magazines 2

To begin with, above you see the magazines pictured in yesterday's tea post. These are my "pretty" magazines:

British Country LivingMy ALL TIME favorite magazine - the pictures are above and beyond beautiful! And I love the "seasonal" aspect to each issue - the recipes, gardening, homespun ideas. I also like reading about British agriculture and small businesses. I share this subscription with my Mum.

Artful BloggingA lovely, once-in-a-while treat that usually gives me serious blog envy, lol! I bought this issue for myself with birthday monies. :)

VictoriaI've subscribed to Victoria since I was a young girl! To begin with, my grandmother and I shared a subscription ... and I was so upset when they went out of publication. I was therefore delighted when they started up production again a few years ago. I don't find the new issues as captivating as the older editions ... but I won't complain. It's nice to have Victoria back.

Country HomeThe American version - my mother subscribed when I was a kid and I just loved it. I was always reading it, and thinking about my "someday home" and the recipes I'd like to try. In fact, I still have many of those issues saved! The look and feel of CH has changed over time, but I do still enjoy it very much.

Sew BeautifulThis is a gorgeous catalog that appeared in my mailbox the other day. I have no idea how I got on this mailing list but I'm very happy I did. :)

The Baking SheetThe King Arthur Flour newsletter - a must for seasonal bakers!

Mollie MakesI just discovered this delicious British craft magazine a few months ago. Seriously, no one does magazines like the British! I love how MM includes a small craft project with every issue.

Teatime BlissThis arrived in the mail just the other day ~ it's a special Victoria edition all about Tea!


Now, I'm the first to admit I'm a bit persnickety about my magazines ...

Magazines 1

I keep all current (and recent) magazines in this roomy basket, and they are stacked in a very particular order. Over the weekend there is a pile of "weekly reading" on top which includes sections from the Sunday Globe, our Parish bulletin, new catalogs, Time, People and Entertainment Weekly.

Other magazines I read regularly include Everyday Food (my *favorite* food magazine), Martha Stewart Living, Everyday with Rachel Ray, Food Network Magazine, Mary Janes Farm, Family Circle and Woman's Day.


I'm often asked what I do with all these magazines - do I save or recycle?

Well, I pass some of them on, and I recycle most of the rest (after I've clipped things I want to save). I do keep my issues of Everyday Food, British Country Living, The Baking Sheet and Martha Stewart Living. (And I only save MSL because I have every issue dating from her very first one!)

As for all those clippings, well I save them in my journals ...

Magazines 4

And I've been keeping these journals for years and years. They're a compilation of notes, mementos and magazine articles, pictures, quotes, etc. Seasonal stuff, mostly. I started keeping them when I was a teen ... I guess they're like personal scrapbooks or idea books. (Maybe these were my "blogs" before I was blogging, lol.) They cover about a few months' worth of "stuff" at a time.

Here's a page from my current journal, going back about a month or so. I have here a sweet message from my Crackerjack (I found it in his papers - it was a "rough draft" of my birthday card), a pretty calendar page, and a recipe I wanted to try that weekend (but alas, did not).

Magazines 5

In the back of the journal (which is just a plain, old 3-subject Mead notebook) are stashed clippings that still need to be filed. I try to work in my journal at least once a week. I find it a very relaxing and satisfying hobby.

It can be hard to find time to sit and read, I will admit that. But I can be patient. As you can see I often have many magazines in my pile "to be read." I try to find a few hours over the weekend to catch up ... and then I keep that basket in my reading corner to read through when I can. I often find time to do a little reading when the boys are having lunch or in the evening after I've started supper.

As for subscribing over buying ... well I'm currently in the process of subscribing to most of the magazines I read. It makes sense since one saves a good deal of money with a subscription. Though I do love visiting the newsstand and there's just something so fun about spying a brand new issue, all stacked fresh and pretty on the shelf. (I'm sure some of you know what I mean!)


Well, such is my affection for magazines! For as long as I can remember I've been quite an addict a fan. I love the format of magazines ... the feel of the pages, the layout and text, the photography ... all the creativity and inspiration. I love how - by their very "timely" nature - they capture a certain time in our life: current news, recent trends. I love the excitement that arrives with a new issue and the spark of energy that comes with new ideas and information ...

But now my friends - now that I've virtually chewed your ears off, lol! - I'd love to hear about your favorite magazines! What ones do you read regularly? Or perhaps once in a while as a little treat? If you have a  moment, leave me a comment and let me know ... :)

For now though I'm going to sign off ... the day's getting late. And as a matter of fact, it's snowing like crazy here right now! The first snow we've seen in weeks ... months? Looks like March will indeed come in just like a lion ...

So have a good night and as always, thanks for stopping by. I'll see you again very soon!

Tuesday Tea & Home Comforts

Tea & magazines 4

Today's pretty tea.

Tea & magazines 1

Today's food for thought.

Tea & magazines 5

Today's home fragrance.


Today's garden surprise.

Tea & magazines 3

Today's cozy companion.

Well I hope your day was a nice one, my friends. Ours was quite busy so I was extra glad I found some time for tea. As it was steeping on the counter, Crackerjack walked through the kitchen and said, "Why do I smell peaches? It smells like summer in here."

That made me smile. :)

Allrighty, I'm off! I have a supper to cook, and I must work around dishwasher installation! Thanks so much for stopping by ... I wish you all a good evening!

A Project for 7 Sundays ...

... making a "stained glass" cross.

Stained glass cross 6

Some of my readers might remember this project from four years ago (though for the life of me I can't find that post, lol). Anyhoo, it was fun and pretty and I thought we might do it again this year ...

 You see, we have large glass doors in our family room that are paned, and the middle section of the middle door has just the right number of panes for this project (seven panes for seven Sundays). Now, that's not to say you couldn't do this project without window panes! It's just the design of the door was what inspired this project. :)

So each Sunday between the First Sunday of Lent and Easter Sunday itself, I will make one panel of our cross. Each panel will feature the same overall design and colors, but the center image will be different, symbolizing something from that week.

I used just a few simple materials:

Stained glass cross 2

Black construction paper, transparent vellum paper and multi-colored art tissue. Decoupage glue is shown above, but I ended up using a glue stick instead.

I cut a frame out of the black paper (sized to fit the both the window pane and the vellum sheet) and then I looked for an image for the center of my panel. I chose a daffodil for this week, to go along with St. David's Day.

Stained glass cross 3

I centered and adhered the image onto the vellum sheet and then stuck torn bits of tissue all around - this created the "stained glass" effect.

Stained glass cross 4

Then I placed the final results in the door ...

Stained glass cross 7

(I love how this project emphasizes the return of the light at this time of year.)

Stained glass cross 8

Six more to go and we'll have our cross for Easter!

It's not a hard craft to do, but it is time-consuming and a little bit fussy. I wouldn't want to make all of the panels at once, but making one for each Sunday is pretty do-able. In fact, I like how the cross will be built up all throughout Lent ... and to lend to the "suspense" I'm keeping the weekly images a surprise for Bill and the boys. ;)


Well my friends, I hope your Tuesday is off to a good start ... it's very bright and cool here this morning, but it definitely feels a little like Spring. I'll be back here again later today to share a spot of tea with you all ... until then, thanks for stopping by, and have a nice day!

A Lent Chart for Earlybird

Foam lent path 2

EB and I worked on this very simple project after lunch today. I wanted to give him something of his own to work on this Lent, and I thought a little chart might do. My hope is it will help him keep track of the days (because Lent is a long season!) and keep his focus on managing everyday behavior.

We used a large sheet of white foam (the base of our chart), a piece of sticky-backed gold foam, and peel-and-stick felt letters and foam shapes.

Foam lent path 1

So I cut a cross out of the gold foam and put it in the upper right corner of the white sheet. Then I used the purple felt letters to 'title' the chart. I then spaced 43 foam shapes on the chart to be sure they'd fit ... popped them in a ziplock ... and then EB and I added the first five shapes to represent the days of Lent so far.

Each afternoon until Easter, EB will get to add another foam shape on his path. First we'll talk about what good things he did that day (helping others, showing love) as well as how he behaved himself (trying hard, listening). Once we've talked about all those nice things he did, we'll add another shape to the chart (which will eventually look like it does in the top photo).

And if it's been a tough day - and we certainly have those! - we'll talk about that too. What could he have done differently? Who needs to hear an "I'm sorry?" Praising him for good behavior is very important, but I think equally important is helping him understand what he might have done wrong, and then helping him to make amends ... 

These days get a foam shape as well. :)

Once we had the chart ready, I hung it in his reading corner:

Foam lent path 3

So today, for instance, EB worked very patiently on a puzzle and he very nicely asked Crackerjack to help him. They worked on the puzzle together for some time, and not only did they not squabble, lol - but they finished it! That was a nice effort on EB's part - very deserving of a foam shape!

Foam lent path 4

(Oh, and please disregard CJ's torn pants ... the boy just will NOT give these up! His "lounge pants" he calls them, lol. He changed into them directly after Art class this morning.)


Well friends, I'd best be off now as I have much to do before evening descends. Tomorrow I'll show you the "stained glass" project I worked on this morning and of course, as it's Tuesday, there will be tea in the afternoon. I do hope you'll join me!

So have a good night, everyone  ... see you here again very soon!

Masterpiece Monday: The Old Curiosity Shop

Masterpiece logo

So ... what did you think?

It was certainly much different from Downton, but of course that was to be expected. And it was a Dickens tale ... so it was a rather grim tale. Though I was surprised by just how grim it got ... and I must admit I'm glad the tale concluded in one night.

I'll jump into the comments a bit later on ... but I'm curious to know how you all enjoyed (or not) last night's Masterpiece Classic. And I am wondering what we are up for next week? I think it is South Riding (according to my satellite schedule) which looks very interesting! 

(But, the previews for Great Expectations looked simply fantastic!)


Have a great Monday, my friends!

Sunday Evening Chit-Chat

(A little bit of this and that.)

Just popping on quickly to remind you that I'll be hosting "Masterpiece Monday" here tomorrow, so if you'd like to join us, be sure to tune in to "The Old Curiosity Shop" tonight and then come on back in the morning to chat.


Also, while I'm here (and before supper comes out of the oven), I wanted to talk briefly about next week. There's lots coming up!

KGdaffodilFirst off, we have Leap Year on Wednesday, which is always kind of neat. (For the record, this is a very cute movie - and the scenery is gorgeous!)

Then March comes in (perhaps like a lion?) on Thursday.

Thursday also brings the Feast of St. David of Wales. We always mark this day with special food and dragon stories. (A red dragon is the symbol of Wales.)

Friday is Dr. Seuss Day (also known as Read Across America Day), and if we could, we'd go see The Lorax, but instead (and in true spirit of the day) we'll read the book. What is your favorite Dr. Seuss book? I'd have to choose Green Eggs and Ham - it happens to be the first book I ever read!

And speaking of green eggs and ham, I'd like to make a spinach and ham quiche for Friday (aka green eggs and ham!) but as it's Friday (and Fridays are meatless for us during Lent) I'll probably serve that dish on Thursday instead. Then I'll switch the leek-and-potato soup (for St. David's Day) to Friday. That will taste nice with grilled cheese. :)


Other baking plans this week include making refrigerator bran muffins and homemade pretzels. Crafting plans include working on those Lenten banners I mentioned in this post, and we'll make the first panel of our "stained glass" doorway cross. (One panel for each Sunday through Easter.)

Learning plans include reading this book for Book Group on Friday (my turn to lead!) and kicking off a four-month, four-elements study ...

March = air

April = water

May = earth

June = fire

We'll explore the way the elements affect our everyday life, the world around us and even how they are part of our Faith. I'm really looking forward to it. :)


Oh, and one more quick thing! One of our Lenten goals this year is to spend more of our family time doing things together other than just watching TV. So last night we sat around the table and played a really wonderful game, Around the World: The Ultimate Global Board Game. It was so fun and quite educational! Some of the questions were ridiculously easy but they only illustrated the point that information we take for granted other people might not know as readily. Certainly we were stumped on many questions that focused on lands and cultures unfamiliar to us ... it was a great eye-opening exercise!


Well, now I will wrap up and bid you all a good night. I hope you've had a nice weekend and feel ready to start a new week! I'll see you all again soon ... and remember, if you watch Masterpiece Theater tonight, do stop by sometime tomorrow - I'll do my best to have the chat post up as early as possible.

Thanks for stopping by, my friends ... Good Night, and God Bless!

Organizing Spring Crafts

Happy Weekend, everyone!

Well this afternoon I sorted through my Spring craft supplies, so I thought you all might like to see a few things I'll be working on in the upcoming weeks ... 

These styrofoam eggs will be covered with colorful sequins and adorned with a golden ribbon. (Following the same idea as this Christmas project.)

Lent crafts 1

They may be given as gifts, or simply hung as Easter decorations.

Below are framing mats, vellum paper, ribbon and an electric candle ...

Lent crafts 3

These materials will be assembled into a small Spring lantern. My friend Kim described this craft to me the other day over the phone and I knew I just had to try it. What I will also need are images for the lantern "windows" which I will find using clipart and/or stickers. (Remember that Kate Greenaway clipart book I received for my birthday? That might work nicely here.)

But speaking of stickers, here are some pretty Spring faith-and-nature themed stickers I found:

Lent crafts 2

(I'll use these in all kinds of ways ... I just love stickers.)

These tiny wooden crosses I bought at Michaels, for about $1 apiece.

Lent crafts 4

I plan to paint them (one for each of my boys) and back them with bright art tissue or vellum paper. Then we will hang them in our learning room windows to catch that wonderful Spring light.

This here will be a family monogram ...

Lent crafts 5

I plan to paint it and (perhaps) embellish it with stickers. I chose a deep red paint and a golden-red glitter - colors to match the sitting/learning room.

This project will be a small family "intentions" candle set.

Lent crafts 6

It's hard to see, but behind the butterfly there is a small wooden dish, three glass votive candleholders and a spool of golden ribbon. I chose battery-lit votives as they are safer for children to use.

And below are the makings of some Lent & Easter banners ... 

Lent crafts 7

I have here several pieces of felt in shades of purple and glittery white, as well as sequins, stick-on letters, ribbon and wooden dowels. These will be two-sided banners - Lent on one side, Easter on the other.

I've listed these craft projects in my Lenten binder and over the next several weeks I'll plug them in where I (we) have time. I can say, I plan to work on the banners with EB this week. (Ideally I'd already have them up but that nasty virus set us back a bit.)

Once I had all my supplies sorted, I tucked them in this handy storage box ...

Lent crafts 8

I like to use clear bins for storing craft supplies and I usually separate materials by type (i.e. knitting crafts in one box, painting materials in another ...). But I also like to have one handy bin that is devoted to crafts that are timely or seasonal. As in the case of my "Spring Crafts" seen here. :)


Well, I hope you are all having a nice weekend! Have you been out and about? Or perhaps catching up on the homefront? We're doing a little of both here ... but the weather has been just crazy! Bright and blustery as all get out - wind speeds around 60 mph! It makes me realize how close we are to March 1st, which of course traditionally comes in "like a lion." With the roaring of the wind outside, I'd say he's knocking on our door already!

So enjoy your night, my friends, and your Sunday tomorrow ... I will see you again very soon.

Friday Felines

Well, I'm afraid I'm not going to get that planner/calendar/file folder post up this afternoon - maybe over the weekend? - but I do have a few minutes to put up a quick Friday Felines. It's been a while since I've shown off our cats. ;)

The theme this week seems to be "getting in trouble." 

First off, we have the two of them making themselves all kinds of comfortable in the front window ... 


Completely oblivious to the havoc they're about to cause ...



(Of course I made sure to get the picture before rescuing the conservatory.)

This next picture was taken after a brief encounter with pure catnip:


We won't try that again anytime soon.

And below we have Ollie (left) and Archie (right) hunting down a ladybug in the light fixture. You can really see how different they look from each other here ...


(Or maybe that's just me, lol.)

This next little series of photos captures another recent confrontation ... Archie was NOT pleased to find Ollie horning in on "his" basket:





And just to show you they're not always causing trouble, here are two final shots:


Ollie, sleeping in the laundry. (Clean laundry, mind you.)

And Archie, curled up in an Amazon box.


Antics aside, they really are so very sweet. :)


Well folks, I'm going to sign off for the night. And what a wet, rainy night it is, too ... a good night for staying in, making pizza and hanging out with my guys. I'm so glad it's the weekend at last ...

So have a good one, my friends ... stay safe and be well. I will see you here again very soon!

My Lenten Binder ~ A Place to Plan & Ponder


Good Friday morning, my friends!

So, as I've mentioned a few times now, I've put together a little Lenten binder for myself. I made this up as a special place in which to keep track of our activities through the season. Avery just so happens to make nifty little "half-size" binders in all kinds of colors, so I chose purple, which is the liturgical color for Lent.

Lent book 1

On the front cover I placed a pretty butterfly, a traditional symbol of Easter ... and inside the binder I have a couple of pockets, some dividers and filler paper.

Lent book 2

Inside the front cover I stuck an Easter card we received from our pastor, and in the pocket on the right, I tucked our parish Lent/Easter schedule.

Then I have some general notes up front:

A Spring Cleaning Checklist

Lenten Nature Notes

Goals (Personal, Family)

Craft & Activity Ideas

Meatless Meals Planning

Lent book 3

Then I have five divider tabs:

Our Lenten Journey ~ a page for each day from Ash Weds. through 3/31

Holy Week ~ a page a day for Palm Sunday through Holy Saturday

Easter Celebrations ~ Easter Vigil through Easter Night

Through Pentecost ~ Celebrating the Rest of the Easter Season

The Stations of the Cross


And that's that!

(If you'd like me to expand on any of my binder sections, just let me know.)

But now I must be off. Our day is underway, and I have a bunch of things to catch up on. Later today I hope to post an update on my planner/calendar/file folder situation ... but I'll have to see where they day goes. My to-do list is quite long this Friday ... and things always seem so 'do-able' before noon!

Either way though, I'll be back very soon ... enjoy this day, everyone!


Banana Bread Day!

Well, friends, today is National Banana Bread Day so I'd like to share my favorite quick bread recipe with you. Are you a fan of banana bread?

To be perfectly honest, I could take it or leave it, but my family just loves it. It's lucky this recipe makes two loaves because one is always gone just as soon as it's cooled!

The other nice thing about this recipe is its versatility; you can truly "mix and match" all kinds of fruits and flavors. Recently I tried blending chopped strawberries into my banana bread mix which was quite a hit ... and I think peanut butter would be a tasty addition, maybe even with a handful of chocolate chips. (In fact, here's a recipe I saw the other day for just that thing.) I'd also like to try making a "tropical" blend, folding crushed pineapple into the banana batter and topping the finished bread with a light glaze and a sprinkle of toasted coconut ...

I actually bought extra bananas last weekend in hopes they'd be ready for baking today, but alas, they are not. I am planning to bake some pan cookies however, as we are expecting friends here later today. "Pan cookies" are simply chocolate chip cookie dough baked in a 9x13 pan and then cut into squares. We've always called them "pan cookies," but I think they might also be known as "blondies."

Do you have a baking day in your household? I like to assign "chores" to certain days, but very often things get done when, and as, they can. Ideally, I'd bake on Fridays and Saturdays, in preparation for Sunday and a busy week ahead. I'm trying to get better at sticking to my routines - in fact, I've made it one of my Lenten goals. I've also assigned myself a Spring cleaning schedule that I really hope to accomplish ... it feels good to think about these things at this time of year! But now I'm getting off-topic so I'll save those thoughts for another post ... :) 

Before I go though, let me wish you all a nice day ... enjoy your Thursday, my friends, and I'll see you here again very soon!


Ash Wednesday Traditions

And so Lent begins ...

Ash wednesday 2

If you follow my blog, then you know that seasons and traditions are a big part of my family's life. We honor and celebrate seasons (both natural and liturgical) and we include traditions (big and small) in our everyday life. Today being Ash Wednesday, we welcomed the season of Lent.

We received ashes at very early Mass, and then at home we made some ashes of our own. We just burned one of last year's palms (from Palm Sunday) until we had ash. 

Ash wednesday 3

This sparked lots of good questions (a little impromptu science lesson in fact), and just for the record, I kept a very close eye on this and only I handled the matches. Also, I kept a cup of water within reach, and the windows were open to air out the room.

Next I cleared off the nature shelf and set up a simple Lent corner:

Ash wednesday 9

Here I have a jug filled with barren branches - but I added no water, lest they bloom too soon. I also set our Lent binder here, as well as a planter pot full of dirt (with a pinch of the palm ash), our rice bowl and a plain beeswax candle. The cross hanging on the wall is made of simple grapevine.

This is pretty much how this space will look all throughout Lent ... though the cross will start to "sprout" little bits of greenery (silk ivy leaves) as we move closer to Easter. On Palm Sunday we'll plant seed in the pot and I'll add water to the jug (with fresh branches if need be). During Holy Week we'll work on "dressing up" the candle for our Easter table.

And on Easter morning there will (hopefully) be blooms on the branches and new growth in the pot ... the candle will be gilded and the cross will look something like it does in this postBut as for the tradition of the "missing alleluia" well, this year it went well and truly missing on me! 

Lol, I can't find that pretty little plaque anywhere, so I had to make up something else on the spot. I grabbed a plain cross shaped box from my craft supplies and I photocopied a page from one of the boys' song books.

Ash wednesday 5

I cut out the "alleluia" and placed it inside the box ...

Ash wednesday 6

Secured it all with twine ...

Ash wednesday 7

And we "buried" it in the back of a file folder drawer.

Ash wednesday 8

We do this because we do not say (or sing) "alleluia" at Mass until Lent is over. When we "resurrect" this tiny package on Easter morning, we'll find it all sparkly and fine, inside and out.


I also packed away the Winter books this morning, and set up EB's corner with good seasonal reads:

Ash wednesday 10

On the sill, and in the basket ...

Ash wednesday 11

(I'll update my sidebar booklists asap!)

Here's a craft basket I put together last weekend, filled with materials for making various projects throughout Lent ...

Lenten crafts 1

... and here's the last section of our Lent binder: the "Stations of the Cross."

Lent binder 3

For this project I used 4x6 prints purchased from CHC several years ago, and I printed out station passages found at I adhered the images and words to folded ivory copy paper and fitted the pages inside sheet protectors. I really like how it came out, and my hope is that we'll take time each Friday afternoon to sit down and do the stations together.


And so Lent begins ...

A quiet and still season ... a time when we patiently await signs of new life. The journey can seem long, but these little traditions remind us where we're going, and keep us together on the path.

While we make fond family memories along the way!

Well, have a great day, my friends ... and thanks so much for stopping by. I'm going to sign off for now, but I will see you here again very soon...


Tuesday Tea ~ A Touch of Spring


The afternoons are so different now from when I first began these teatime posts. Back in December, the day was dark and the room was aglow with soft Christmas lights ... and now here we are, two months later, and our afternoons are much longer and lighter.

It just feels so nice - in fact, with temps in the 50s, it feels very much like Spring!

So I'm enjoying today's tea in a cup that once belonged to my grandmother ...


I love the soft colors, especially the pale yellow blooms. :)


So because it felt so springy today, I walked around the yard while the boys played outside after lunch. I was looking for signs of life ... and so I was quite excited to find a snowdrop coming up by the chimney!


Back inside, I put these letters up in the window ...


Lent is a wonderful time for growth. We see changes happening outside, while we make changes within. These plain wooden letters will stay unfinished throughout Lent, but come Palm Sunday ... well, we shall see what happens then. ;)

I also must show you this pretty little plaque I found at Michael's this weekend:


A beautiful reminder to Make Each Day Your Masterpiece.

Not that every day is a party of course, but every day is certainly a gift. What we do and how we live is the 'creative' touch we put on each day. In fact, the quiet days are perhaps the most special of all because they're ours to do with what we wish.

(Within reason of course!)


Well, my friends, I'm going to sign off now ... this chair is awfully comfortable, but I have a house to tidy, and some pancakes to make in honor of Shrove Tuesday (aka Carnival/Mardi Gras/the last day before Lent). Alongside those pancakes there will be crisp sausages and hash brown potatoes ... and lots and lots of freshly whipped cream.

A feast before the fast!

So have a great night everyone ... I will see you here again very soon!

Now that Downton is done ...

Good Morning, my friends! I hope your day's off to a good start. :)

I've been reading through the Downton discussion this morning, and it seems many of us are eager to continue 'meeting' each week to discuss some excellent television. Downton was undeniably excellent, but it will be nearly a year before we have new episodes to enjoy ...

So I would like to propose that we continue to chat about Masterpiece Theater here, each Monday morning. I know it's unlikely another show will capture our attention (and hearts) as Downtown did, but I think it wold be fun all the same.

Arlene and Betsey suggested this very idea in comments last night and I had entertained similar thoughts, after reading an article entitled, "What to Watch Now That Downton Abbey is Over."

Stay tuned to Masterpiece: Maybe the easiest way to fill the Sunday night gap that "Downton Abbey" leaves behind is to simply continue to tune in to PBS at the same time each week. Fans of period pieces and emotional plots have a lot to look forward to. Next Sunday night Masterpiece kicks off four weeks of Charles Dickens stories with "The Old Curiosity Shop." "Great Expectations" and "The Mystery of Edwin Drood" follow. Then, once the early Victory Dickens tales are over, Masterpiece has something to really appeal to the "Downton" fans during the last weeks of April with "Birdsong," a two-part miniseries based on Sebastian Faulk's World War I era love story.

This all sounds quite appealing to me! I actually re-read Great Expectations just last month, as it was my turn to lead Bookworm's 'Brit Lit' discussion group. I was quite enthralled with the story - something I definitely don't remember feeling when I read it in high school and college, lol. And the brief preview for "The Old Curiosity Shop" shown at the end of Sunday night's Downton did indeed look intriguing ... 

So ... my "motion" is we continue to discuss great 'period' television - Sunday night Masterpiece Theater - here at my blog. Not to get ahead of myself, but how about we call our meetings, "Masterpiece Mondays?"

If you're at all interested, please let me know! Or just come along and we'll see how it goes. :)

Masterpiece logo


For now though, I must be off as my household is stirring, but I will be back here again later today with a spot of Tea to share with you all ...

Have a good one, my friends!

Shaking things up ...

Shamrock shake

I simply had to sneak in one of these before Lent begins ...

So Bill picked one up for me on his way home from buying one of these:

New vacuum 1

(And yes, this means Bill is feeling much better!)

We bought this new vac, because our old vac finally went kaput last week. We'd had it 10 years and it served us very well - it was worth every penny! (We're the type of multi-boy, multi-cat family that needs a serious vac, lol!) So yes, I'll miss that big ole purple thing ... but this new one seems to work even better. (EB ate popcorn this afternoon - I gave it a good test.)

But what is it with us and appliances lately? Our coffeemaker fell apart over Christmas, and our dishwasher seems to be calling it quits, too. Poor Ollie, we haven't broken the news to him yet ~ if you recall, he's rather attached to our dishwasher.

Now, after all the milkshake/new vacuum excitement, I put the finishing touches on my little Lenten binder ...

Lent binder 1

It's nothing fancy at all, just a place in which to keep track of our Lenten journey and some of my ideas for the season. I also have a section in the back for the Stations of the Cross - it's my hope we'll do them together each Friday afternoon through Lent. :)


Well, I hope you all had a nice Monday, and to those of us in the US, I say a "Happy Presidents' Day!" Are your kids on vacation this week? Much to my kids' disappointment we do not take this week off - mostly because there's really no need to, but also because I like to take time off when it's good for us. So for example, we take time off around Thanksgiving, and we also take off Holy Week, as well as a few days after Easter. It all evens out in the end. :)

Now, for supper tonight I'm making "American Chop Suey" (a wonderful recipe from my friend, Debbie) and I'm serving it with crusty rolls and a simple tossed salad. For dessert ~ "Patriotic Sundaes" which are just scoops of vanilla ice cream, topped with homemade raspberry sauce, whipped cream and a shake of red-white-and-blue sprinkles.


So have a good night, folks ... and sincere thanks to everyone who participates in the Downton Abbey discussion. It's just so much fun to compare our thoughts and opinions, and I really don't know what we'll do now that Downton is done ... we need another show to discuss!

(Any ideas?)

Well, thanks for stopping in today, my friends ... I will see you all again very soon!

Downton Abbey ~ Season's End

Downton abbey

I can't believe it's over!

I'm feeling quite melancholy about the end of this wonderful show - this lovely experience - but oh, what a way to wrap up! I think this was my favorite episode of all! :)

Obviously there is much to discuss, so I'm off to get my first cup of coffee and wake up a bit ... I'll be back here with my comments just as soon as I can ...

Can't wait to read yours!

A Boy and His Trains

{Or his Papa's trains to be exact.}

After church this morning I took Earlybird over to visit my folks. As I've mentioned many times, EB is a HUGE train fan ... he loves to read about them, watch them (in videos and in real life), and though he has yet to actually ride one, he's convinced they are the best way to travel, period. But did you also know that my dad is a train fan as well ... and a longtime model railroader, too?

(I don't think it's a coincidence EB was born on his birthday. :))

Anyhoo, it had been a long couple of weeks for EB - not getting out - due to his illness and that of his brothers (and his mother ... and now his father, too it seems). So this morning he and I stepped out into the bright, chilly sunshine and headed over to Nana and Papa's house. Earlybird loves spending time at his Nana and Papa's ... Nana cooks him good food and sits and chats with him, while Papa watches trains (and talks trains) with him. But today there was something extra special awaiting EB ... Papa had a new model railroad to show him!

Here are a few pictures of EB with my folks and my dad's layout, which, as you'll see, is still under construction, but very much up and running! 


(I should note - that is chapping around EB's mouth. He tends to lap his lips repeatedly when the weather is cold and dry. It's awful to get rid of, and though it looks painful, it's really more a nusiance than anything. Also, I am quite aware the boy is in dire need of a haircut ... that's just been low on the priority list lately. ;))

But oh, that face ...


He was just in awe. 


He wanted to know all about it ...


Nana explained Papa's diagrams showing the overall design.


There were two trains running today ... and Papa allowed EB to monitor the speed of this one.


He also got to blow the horn; Papa showed him which button to press ...


And press it he did!


As you can tell from the framework, the layout will be quite large once finished. It fills up most of the basement ...



And I think it's safe to say it will be very much enjoyed ...


... by train fans of all ages!

So now we're home again, and I'm puttering over my planner (and this post) while going through craft supplies and assembling my Lenten journal. All good Sunday things ... quietly productive things. It's a long weekend for many Americans as tomorrow brings Presidents Day, and goodness, am I glad it's a 3-day weekend ... we can surely use it around here!

And tonight of course brings another installment of our beloved Downton Abbey ~ the Christmas special (yay!) which will serve as the last show of the season (boo!). Dear ladies, what on earth will we do next Sunday, lol? 

Well, we'll worry about next Sunday next Sunday ... but tomorrow I'll be here to discuss how everything wrapped up ... and I can't wait to chat with you all!

In the meantime, I hope you all have a nice Sunday night, wherever you are and whatever your plans ... I'll be back here again very soon!

Marketing Binder ~ Test Run!

Test run 1

Well, I took my new marketing binder on the road with me today as I ran my myriad errands ... and I'm pleased to report it performed very well! :)

Since my current pocketbook was too small to hold the binder, I had to switch up bags. (Which was fine ~ I was in the mood for a "spring switch!") So I chose a tote I haven't used in some time, but was roomy enough to hold the binder and a wallet (as well as other sundries commonly found in any mom's bag). This bag would also be roomy enough to carry my month-at-a-glance binder, should I need to have that with me.

The nice thing about this set is, for one thing, the two pieces match - and for another, I can use a detachable strap and wear the wallet around my body as I shop.

Test run 2

Now, are you ready for some "action shots," lol?

{You are all so good to humor me.}

So here's my binder (and bag) on the car seat next to me ...

Test run 8

And here's my binder (and bag) in my shopping cart ...

Test run 7

(Note: The child safety belt is looped through the bag straps and secured - also, I'm wearing my wallet on me. I've learned my lesson in this area.)

I did get a few strange looks as I took those pictures (though I tried to play it off like I was just checking my email). Nobody asked me about my binder - however, I noticed some second looks in the deli line. ;)

So yes, the binder worked well - my coupons were handy and easy to manage, and it was nice having my list right here in this spot, too. But I realized I need a place for receipts. I don't have room in my wallet for stashing receipts, and I don't like to just pitch them in my bag (which, ahem, is what I usually do). So I bought this "gusseted binder pocket" at Staples today for just this purpose. I'll keep it in the very back of the binder.

Test run 3

I also found my shopping list pages were too thin to withstand the flipping back and forth between sections. (I was using regular Mead lined paper to start with.) So I bought some Martha Stewart "project planner" filler paper to use instead. Not only is the MS paper much sturdier, but I like the design very much:

Test run 6

The design works for me because I tend to write my food list on the lefthand side of my page and use the right side for non-food stops - everything from the library to Petsmart to Michaels Arts & Crafts ...

And speaking of Michaels, I also spent a good deal of time there today, picking out some Lenten craft materials. (And using up some Christmas gift cards while I was at it.) I can't wait to show (and tell) you all about that ... maybe tomorrow if I have the time!

So that's all for now, folks ... but I hope this post was informative (or maybe amusing) to some. :) Time now to make supper for the troops ... and settle in for a nice quiet Saturday night. I hope you all have a good one ... I will see you again very soon!

Family Films and Friday Food

But no felines yet ... I still have to pull that post together (perhaps I'll do a 'Saturday Scamps?'), but I was thinking about movies today and I thought I'd share what we've been viewing lately. (And I'd love to hear what you and/or your kids have been enjoying - we don't watch much TV, but we do love movies! And we always appreciate suggestions. :))

First of all, the Netflix movie we just returned was Kung Fu Panda 2. The older boys and I saw that in the theater last year and we all agreed we liked even better than the first. I'm not much of a Jack Black fan - we couldn't even finish Gulliver's Travels - but he has the perfect voice for Po. The movie may be a bit dark and sad for young children (or sensitive kids like my EB) but we found it poignant, humorous and uplifting.

Now lately we've been watching The Fantastic Mr. Fox on quiet afternoons. For some reason this movie (which we love anyways) brought us much comfort while we recovered from the virus. Earlybird especially loves this movie. My parents gave the boys a portable dvd player which has come in very handy ~ we set it up in the corner of the sitting room. I'd start it up as the day grew dark and before long I'd have three boys gathered 'round to watch with me.

This picture was taken the day Bookworm got sick - Crackerjack was in recovery, EB was still a-ok, and (unbeknownst to me at the time) I was just hours away from my turn.

Afternoon matinee

Now other movies the older boys have watched recently and enjoyed:

Iron Man (1 and 2) ... a bit off-color in a few parts, and of course, there was violence (it's a superhero movie after all) but I allowed my 12 year-old to see both films. (They are both rated PG-13.) Both CJ and BW loved these movies. They are part of the "Avengers" series which also includes Captain America and Thor. (Those were both awesome, too.)

The Goonies ... which the boys received as a Christmas present from their Aunt Ami. :) We watched it one night a couple of weeks ago, and wow, did it take me back! I had forgotten most of the movie so it was kind of new for me again. (Maybe that's an upside of getting older, lol?) There was some colorful and suggestive language but nothing too bad. A little violent and gross at times ... (and come to think of it, this was the night CJ got sick!) ... but you know that kind of humor appeals to kids - especially boys - very much. ;)

Bill and I have been watching old James Bond films now and then. He really loves these movies, so the boys and I gave him a couple of boxed sets for Christmas. I particularly like the older ones, because I love seeing the 60s clothes and settings (though I have to laugh at the chauvenistic attitudes!). And they're really fun to watch together because we both grew up watching Bond. :)

We also purchased Breaking Dawn, Part I, which is part of the Twilight Saga. I loved the books and I find the movies - while certainly not great filmmaking - fun to watch. We haven't seen BD yet - the one film we missed in the theater - so it will be neat to see it for the first time this weekend. (This is a movie for Bill and myself - not the boys.)

Speaking of filmmaking, I have to show you my little Spielberg-in-the-making ...


Crackerjack loves making stop-motion Lego movies. He's working on a minifig version of "David and Goliath" at the moment.

(Gotta love the hat. What's a director without a great hat?)


Now, before I go, I have to just quickly mention that I've been working on my menu plan for next week (and corresponding market list) and I realized it's time to think about Lent! Actually, I thought it was neat that in every store flyer I perused, there was mention  - celebration, even! - of this upcoming liturgical season. I so love the anticipation, the feel of the season, I even cut out a few of the ads for my clippings journal ...

Lenten food planning 1

... because I'm silly like that. ;)

So I have several meatless Fridays to plan for ... so I'm brainstorming on that (looking back at this post which was so very helpful thanks to many readers' suggestions). There are other food "matters" to plan for in Lent - feast days (for example, Sts. Patrick and Joseph) and special baked goods (like homemade pretzels and hot cross buns). So I'm sure you'll hear more from me on all that sooner or later. I'm pulling together our "Lent plan" this weekend - that was supposed to happen last weekend, but you all know how that went ...


I've kept you all here long enough, so I'll wrap up and say good night. I hope you all have a very nice weekend - stay safe and healthy! 

And I'll see you here again very soon ...

Two Lovely 'Lady' Reads

Vn + apronisms

One is tiny, one is big ... both are just delightful!

Vintage Notions: An Inspirational Guide to Needlework, Cooking, Sewing, Fashion and Fun ... is a book I take out from the library every so often. Eventually I will buy it, I think, as I'm only allowed to keep it for two weeks at a time! It's a thick, hardcover book, filled with old-fashioned illustrations and essays on all matters of homekeeping and femininity. Written for the woman of the 1920's (but completely enjoyable no matter the age), the book is divided by seasons, and a wide range of topics are addressed. Topics include: "The Secrets of a Perfect Pie," "Hats for the Season," "Planning Meals without Meat," "Making a Summer Purse," "The Festive Touch at Yuletide," and "The Well Dressed Table," to name just a few.

There's a good deal of information about sewing and needlework - particularly clothesmaking - and many patterns are included. And sprinkled throughout are feel-good, can-do messages, all set against a most charming design.

A quote I love is this ...

"Cultivate a sense of appreciation. Love your work, trust your work, keep in touch with today. Teach yourself to be practical, up-to-date and sensible. You cannot fail." ~ Henry van Dyke


Now, Apronisms: Pocket Wisdom for Every Day ... was an impulse buy at Amazon. It's a tiny little book - it fits in your palm! - but chock-full of sweetness and good sense. There are many colorful pages and cheerful thoughts and lots and lots of pretty aprons. It's filled with tips and funny little theories on life.

I liked this quote:

"Change the dishtowel. Hang a fresh dishtowel and your kitchen will look neater and cleaner, even when it isn't! Note the satisfaction you feel when draping an ironed towel on the oven door. Vintage tea towels. Embroidered beauties. Simple renewal."

{And while we're on the subject of aprons, here is a long-ago post I did on my apron - or my apron for the day. You know, that might be a nice Lenten project ~ making a 'spring cleaning' apron. Hmmm ... }


Well, Happy Friday, my friends! Today begins the Great Backyard Bird Count and also, this Sunday brings National Chocolate Mint Day. (Yes, I have plans for both!) Monday is President's Day and - I can hardly believe it - this week we begin Lent! Has time ever flown this winter ...

And I'm happy to report Earlybird is feeling MUCH better this morning. It seems he's past the worst of it ~ now for some rest and rehydration. (And perhaps a little fresh air, too - it's supposed to be 50 degrees here today!)

I may be back later today with some Friday Felines ... I have some cute photos saved up. But we'll see what the day brings. I do hope the day brings you, my friends, much joy and good health. 

And thanks for stopping by ... I'll see you again very soon!

Putting Paper in its Place

Tweaking the desk 8

I finally got around to reading my January Better Homes & Gardens the other day, and I stumbled upon a wonderful article called "In-Box Rx." It featured a family desk all decked out with nifty office products - bins, baskets, drawers and the like. Of course I enjoyed all the pretty pictures, but I found the accompanying sidebar, "Keep Track in an Action File" even better.

As most of you know, I keep a weekly file folder system, and this has worked brilliantly for me for many years. Now, those folders hold timely papers - items for specific weeks of the year. But then there are those papers that come into the house that aren't assigned a particular date, but need attention all the same. What about them? Where do they go?

In the past I've had a slush pile for these items (a phrase from my newspaper days) which is a very dangerous thing, because often said items need action sooner rather than later. Well, the BH&G article described a neat system for sorting papers like this, and I thought I'd give it a go ...

I'm using the two trays seen above and below, as well as a clipboard.

Tweaking the desk 3

Tweaking desk 2

Suggested categories: Pending, Do Later, Do Now.

Now, I'm just trying this out, to see how it works with my file crate system. It might be overkill, I'm not sure, lol! But I figured it was worth a try ... plus I really like using those alphabet stickers. ;)

(And for Sarah, who asked where I got those ABC stickers ... I bought them at my local paper craft store, but they are made by a company called, Pebbles - here's a link.)

So I'll post later about what kinds of papers I put where, but my "online" time is quickly running out this morning. Before I go, a quick peek at two more Martha products I've set up on the fridge ...

Tweaking the desk 4

I swear I don't get any kickbacks for all these product plugs, lol!

(Though wouldn't that be nice?)

On the left side is an adhesive dry-erase sheet - my new "Honey-Do List" - and under the calendar on the right is a handy adhesive pocket. The list is self-explanatory of course - ;) - and the pocket will be used for some random papers we always keep on the fridge. Things held by magnets that seem to constantly slip off. These would be the allowance tallies, Mass participation sheets and such. (The soccer schedule will go here in the spring.)

After I put up the board, I decided to amend my phrasing a little ...

Tweaking the desk 6

The Honey-Do (please) List. ;)

Well, my friends, I'm going to sign off for now and tend to my homefront. Earlybird had a very rough day yesterday, but thankfully he slept well last night. (Thank you all so much for the well wishes and prayers!) So far this morning he's kept down some weak lemonade and he's had a few sups on a homemade popsicle ... and now he's begging me to "Ask Nana to bring us chocolate milk," which tells me he's getting his appetite back. :)

So have a good Thursday, everyone ... I'll see you again very soon!