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April 2012

March 2012

Out Like a Lamb?

Blue light 1

And how does March leave you this year? Like a lamb, as the proverb promises? Or is the weather more like a lion where you live?

As you can see from my photo, we are enjoying a soft springy evening here ... with air that's fresh and cool (but definitely not cold), and a soft setting sun ... it's really quite lovely.

So with March on his way out, tomorrow brings April 1st ... and Palm Sunday! In celebration of this beautiful day - the day that kicks off Holy Week - we are planning a special little breakfast for just after Mass, as well as some some simple, family activities ... I'm sure I'll have pictures to share. :)

And April is Autism Awareness Month - a time to encourage more understanding and acceptance (and hopefully compassion) in the world - a world in which one in every 88 children is affected by autism. Because our Earlybird is on the autistic spectrum, every day is "autism awareness day" for us, lol! But April 2nd has been dubbed National Autism Awareness Day ... so we'll all be wearing our blue shirts, and we have our blue porch light all ready to go as you can see. You can read more about the Light it Up Blue campaign here, it's such a fantastic project! 

Well, I'll leave you all for now, but I'll be back again soon ... enjoy your Saturday night, my friends! I hope March leaves you not only with calm weather, but with calm in your heart, too ...

Peace. It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.

{As the mother of an autistic child, this is my motto!}

Good night and God Bless, everyone!

Housekeeping Routines (Daily & Weekly)

Well, first of all, Happy Weekend, everyone! I had hoped to get this post up last night, but alas, it was not meant to be. (I like to think I have a good grip on time management, but sometimes I'm overly optimistic, lol.) Also, I do not mean to ignore all your lovely comments ... I will be catching up with them this weekend, and I thank you for your time and kind attention! :)

So, a few people have asked if I would share what my housekeeping routines look like, and though I've posted about them before, I thought it would be fun to revisit the subject. (It's one of my favorite subjects!) And I do tend to update my lists now and again, - for instance, when I spy Crackerjack's filthy fingernails at Sunday Mass, I -- well, first I cringe -- and then I make a mental note: "Add nail check to Saturday's routine." ;)

Now, first off, Kristie asked me to list my own "6 Things to Do Everyday," so I'll cover those first. I don't think they're all that different from Martha's (in fact, I commented on "her things" in this post), but here are what I consider six daily tasks helpful in keeping a bit of order in the house:

1. Make beds every morning.

2. Keep kitchen sink empty/counters clear.

3. Sweep floors (edges/corners).

4. Put toys (etc.) in their place at end of day.

5. Neaten mail/newspaper pile and kids' work/books.

6. Clean up towels and bathroom surfaces.

I'm sure you all have a similar list - but I'd love to hear what you consider "must-do's" in any given day. I'm always looking for new ideas and perspective! And for a look at our daily rhythm (what gets done when), read this post here.


As for weekly chores, I generally divide the overall housekeeping by rooms/themes. And please bear in mind, I don't do all this myself! I am very good at delegating. ;) Also, we don't always get all these things done ... some week's it's just a "lick and a promise." :)

Monday: Bedrooms & Laundry

* clean bedrooms (boys do their own - mostly)

* air out beds (open windows if possible)

* start laundries

* change bedding

Tuesday: Bathrooms & Laundry

* clean bathrooms (sink/toilet/tub/counters, etc.)

{Note: The downstairs bathroom is currently under construction so I only have one bathroom to worry about at this time.}

* put out fresh towels

* sweep/mop floor (actually, Bill usually mops for me and he does that on the weekends)

* empty bathroom trash

* continue laundries

* organize library bag

Wednesday: Kitchen & Trash/Recycling

* clean kitchen - wipe down surfaces

* weed out fridge/freezer and kitchen cupboards (toss/compost old stuff)

* scrub sink

* sweep/mop floor (see above mopping note :))

* organize trash & recycling

* start marketing list

* pick up/return library books

* get milk, meat and pizza dough (quick shop with EB)

* finish - maybe? - laundries

Thursday: Dining Room & Family Room

* put out trash & recycling

* clean off dining table/wipe down

* sweep/vacuum dining room

* dust/wipe bay window and front doorway

* neaten "stuff" in family room (books/videos/toys)

* vacuum family room

* wipe down tables, desk, lamps

* look over store flyers

* organize coupons

* start next week's file folder

* think about next week: faith/nature activities

* think about next week: dinner menu

* update marketing/errands list

Friday: Learning/Sitting Room

* neaten "stuff" in learning/sitting room (books/magazines/desk items)

* sweep/vacuum

* wipe down tables, desk, lamps

* refresh library corner

* refresh nature shelf

* finalize menu/marketing list

* prepare newspaper payment

* organize pocketbook/tote bag

* homemade pizza and family movie night

Saturday: Playroom, Marketing & H/G/A Maintenance

* put out newspaper payment envelope

* run errands/food shopping

* neaten "man cave" aka downstairs playroom

* organize receipts

* go over budget and bills

* prepare parish collection envelopes

* boys: hair trims (if necessary), fingernail check!

* misc. (seasonal) home/garden maintenance

* auto maintenance (gas, other)

* date-night for mom and dad ❤

Sunday: Family & Faith Day

* family breakfast after Mass

* lesson plan/look at week ahead

* sort through in-boxes

* switch up file folders (move contents/retire folder)

* read Sunday papers

* clip coupons

* work in (have fun with) clippings journal

* catch up on correspondence/blog comments

* brainstorm blog posts for week ahead

Keeping a busy household in balance means having some routines in place. I know this is not necessarily true for everyone, but familiar routines are very helpful to me! I know my family is not as large as some - though I think having all boys AND a special needs child "ups" my challenge factor a bit, lol! But any size family can benefit from some established routines, because it's all stuff that needs to get done at some point, one way or another. By assigning set times to these tasks I find it easier to keep up with it all. It doesn't always mean things get done according to schedule (if done at all!), but it does help me keep things somwhat in balance.

Aside from thoughtful routines I also find having help of utmost importance - thankfully, Bill and the boys are pretty good about pitching in. (And having this all written down is really helpful for those times when I'm down and out - due to illness, surgery, etc.)

Also helpful? Good energy and a very positive attitude! You really can't beat those things at all.


Well friends, this post has gone on long enough, so I will do another post about monthly, seasonal and annual routines sometime soon. I hope this post was helpful or interesting to some folks ... I know I love to read about other people's housekeeping methods, so please do share what works for you! Here in my comments box or via a link to your blog. It's a big job we're handling, being in charge of all these people and the place they live and the things they need to do. But it's the best job on earth, in my (humble) opinion!

Ok, so I'll be off for a bit, but I hope you all have a great weekend ... take care of yourselves and your loved ones! I'll be back here again very soon ...

Friday Lunch Break

Rice ball

Well, today was our last "Fishstick Friday" until next year ... next Friday (Good Friday) we'll have a simple soup and crackers for lunch. So the boys had their fishsticks and I had a spinach and goat cheese rice ball (shown above). I've never had a rice ball before - it was quite tasty, and very filling! I got it at the wonderful Italian market Mum and I shopped at this morning. (Papa came over to "supervise" the boys while we ran a few Easter errands.) We ordered the ham *and* turkey, and purchased special candies from the "special candy store" (which have since been stashed away). At the aforementioned market I also bought some nice things for this Sunday's (Palm Sunday's) breakfast: fresh asparagus and new potatoes, a lovely ricotta/ham pie and some pretty glazed pastries (taralli, I think they are called?).

Now we're home again, and the boys have finished their lessons - and lunch! - and the rest of the day stretches before us filled with bright sunshine and promise. I've got lots on my to-do list so I'd best get along with the to-doing.

Hope your day's going well, everyone ... see you here again later on!


Pretty Planners in Progress

Slowly but surely, it's all coming together ...

Coordinated planners 1

At the very least it's quite color-coordinated!

Coordinated planners 2

So, on the bottom is the binder that holds my month @ a glance calendars, and on top is the daybook "Prototype B" (lol) I just had bound at the copy shop ...

Coordinated planners 3

Situated in between (below), is my weekly file folder.

Coordinated planners 8

(I've realized I'm quite needy - perhaps a little greedy? - when it comes to planners ... and I'm OK with that. It's fun to figure out what works best.)

I really like the size of my "new" daybook much better than my last (remember the one that got chocolate-milked?). This size is so much easier to handle and much more portable. (It's made up of legal size paper, cut in half ... so, it measures 8.5 x 7 inches.)

Coordinated planners 5

Now, I'll get into what's inside in a later post (not much yet), but I was so excited to get it all cut, bound and ready to go yesterday, I just had to put this post up.

Isn't the paper pattern adorable?

Coordinated planners 7

So old-fashioned, and cheerful. :)


Well, my friends, I should have another post for you later today ... a few folks have asked me to share my own housekeeping routines ... and I would be very happy to do so. (I know I've shared them before, but they've been tweaked a little bit.) I actually started a post yesterday but just did not have time to finish ... figure that, lol ... but hopefully I'll get it up later today.

In the meantime, let me wish you a very Happy Friday ... I hope your day goes well! I will see you all again very soon ...

Morning Funny

Archie reading comics

The first thing the older boys do the moment they wake up ... all bleary-eyed and rumpled with sleep ... is to stagger out to the kitchen counter to find (maybe fight over) the morning funnies.

(Even Archie gets in on the action. See above).


What's your favorite comic strip? These days, or when you were a kid?

**Have a great Thursday, my friends!**

Coffee, Flowers, Cats and Books ...

Happy Wednesday, my friends!


The sun's been such a tease today - as it can be at this time of year - slipping in and out of the clouds. We had a few sprinkles, then bright sun and now dark gloomy skies ... there's a chill in the air, but not so much you'd need a warm jacket ...

This feels decidedly March.

And this is my last "Teatime" in March - for next week we'll be in the first week of April! (I'm feeling a butterfly theme for next week.) But instead of tea today, I snuck some leftover coffee from the carafe and added a new creamer I bought. Now, I'm not usually one for non-dairy creamers, nor do I generally like flavored coffee, but considering that delicious "Caramel Almond" iced coffee I had at Dunkin Donuts recently, I thought I'd give this stuff a try. I happened to have a coupon last week and it was on sale and it promised all-natural ingredients ... all this to say ~ I'm a sucker for a good marketing campaign, lol!

Anyhoo, the resulting concoction actually wasn't too bad - though it will probably taste better cold - and with my crisp, little almond-flavored cookie I dunked in it, it did have that yummy flavor I was looking for. (Not to mention a little kick of caffeine!)


A few more notes from my day ... I thought this made a fine little posy:


It's a plain glass votive (for candles) with a small bunch of snipped forsythia tucked inside. Wouldn't this be pretty at the Easter table? I'm thinking a thin ribbon could be tied around the middle of the "votive vase" to dress it up a little. But how simple a project, and so inexpensive? You could make up a whole bunch of them to scatter along a dining table, in between candles, or perhaps on a buffet. The votive can be found at the craft store for about a dollar, and of course, forysthia (in most parts of the country) is readily available right now ... but the thing is this ... will there be forsythia still in bloom come Easter?!

So I enjoyed my coffee and my cookie and a quiet half-hour while my kids were occupied in one way or another. I'll admit, I considered a catnap, but in the end, I left that to Archie ...


(Is he not the cutest?)

I was also tempted to work on my Easter plans, but I knew that would get me revved up instead of relaxed, so I decided to just to sit and drink and nibble and think ... :)

And when Bookworm returned, he brought home my library "holds," two wonderful Easter story books:


Petook we've enjoyed for many years now, but The Colt and The King was a new find for us. And I will tell you, that as I read, I wept a little, because it is honestly such a touching story. The tale is told by an old donkey, who, when just a young colt, carried a very kind man - a great king, he soon realized - into the city of Jerusalem. But amid the cheers and shouts and waving palm branches, the little colt grew terribly afraid ...

"Jesus saw me tremble.

He came and stood beside me,

his hand upon my back.

In his voice was a river of quiet;

in his touch, a shelter of peace.

And my fear flew away

like a bird set free."

{How absolutely beautiful is that quote? I think I might have to frame it.}

 And as the colt carried Jesus further, he quickly realized he didn't want to leave him with this "worrisome crowd," but instead, to take him to his own hillside home where he could enjoy peace and quiet. The story ends with the colt - now a grown donkey - acknowledging that though he's not seen Jesus since that day, he knows that he will again someday ... and when he does, he'll share all that he has with his friend ...

 "My hillside will be a throne for him, and at night the stars will weave him a crown."

(And now I know what I'll read to EB on Sunday.)

I have a real fondness for books like this, that weave the natural world we know so well, into the Faith we hold so dear. I think they are wonderful for young children who so readily love animals and the great big outdoors ... but are just getting to know the ins and outs of their Faith. I know my own Earlybird really responds to these kinds of stories. All my boys have ... nature nuts we are and always have been. :)


Well, my friends, I've taken up enough of your time, so I'll wrap up ... but I do thank you for stopping by and sharing "tea" with me - and more than just a little conversation. I hope your day was a good one, and I wish you all a pleasant good night ...

See you here again very soon!

Spring Cleaning Lists

Good morning, my friends! I wanted to share with you all these great cleaning checklists I spotted over at Martha Stewart's website. I don't follow them to a tee, but I think they're very helpful in honing one's own housekeeping routines ...

6 Things to Do Everyday

Weekly Cleaning

Monthly Cleaning

Seasonal Cleaning

Spring Cleaning

Do you have set of cleaning routines you follow? How do you keep track of what needs to be done when? I have my routines written down in my big household binder and I also have them written out on multi-colored index cards. I keep the day's card posted near my kitchen counter "command center."

Cleaning card 1

And before you ask ... no, I don't get it all done all the time! Lol. But having the tasks written down and assigning them a specific timeframe does bring me one step closer to getting them done. :)

Also, by posting this card somewhere "public" the rest of the family can help me get through those chores. (Theoretically speaking, of course. ;))

Ok, I'm going to pop off for now and get my day going, as my fellas are now all awake. ("What's for breakfast, Mom?") But I plan to be back later this afternoon (closer to evening, I'd guess) with a little tea post to share ... in the meantime, I hope you all have a nice day!

Ham ... or Not Ham?

 (Planning Easter Dinner)

Easter menu 2

This is the question my mum and I first ask ourselves as we sit down to plan Easter Dinner each year. Bill and I co-host the holiday with my folks, in that, we always hold it at my house, but my mum does most of the cooking. We plan, shop and prep together ...

... it's always so much fun. :)

And we always have a large crowd (18 this year!), which is lovely, but it all takes a good bit of planning and "do-ahead." So with Easter Sunday fast approaching, we started the conversation last week ... and we're honing the finer details just now ... but the answer to the above query was ...


 (But there might be turkey, too.)

So on paper, our Easter Menu looks like this at the moment:

* Cocktails and Appetizers *

a big fruity Easter punch - something pink and refreshing - that can be made a bit more "lively" with a splash of light rum or sparkling wine

assorted soda//beer/wine

artichoke dip with French bread

assorted cheeses served with fruit and fig butter

fresh cut vegetables and herb dip

parmesan cheese straws with pesto

* Dinner *

ham (and possibly turkey)

roasted spring vegetables

mashed potatoes


devilled eggs

baked beans

Irish soda bread

toasted dinner rolls

assorted condiments

* Desserts *

freshly brewed coffee

rhubarb grunt

Guinness cake

bird nest cupcakes


assorted Easter candies


So, as you can see above, I have my Easter Planning folder all ready to go. I used spring colors because they make me happy - yellow folder, ivory and aqua paper, vintage sticker. :) And on that paper I wrote out our menu, things to do, errands to run, etc. Inside the folder I have last year's checklists (for reference) and magazine clippings and printouts with recipes and ideas I'd like to use. I also have a list of Holy Week plans and activities stapled on the inside cover.

So it all looks very organized, which is a good first step! The trick now is scheduling those to-do's over the next two weeks so it all actually gets done. I want Easter to be a glorious day of celebrating with good food and family, but I also want to keep myself grounded, relaxed and with a very open heart. I don't want to lose sight of the true beauty of Easter because I'm trying to frost those darn cupcakes, lol! This is why I find a detailed "do ahead" plan so helpful - for any day, really, - but especially at the holidays.

And when it all comes together with energy and good cheer ... then we can all relax and rejoice ... Alleleuia!


Well, I hope you're all having a nice Tuesday ... it's bright and brisk here again (only in the 40s!) so it feels more like March. I don't think I'll get my Teatime post up today, but I will definitely do so tomorrow ... I hope you'll join me if you can!

Take care, my friends! 

Yellow, More Yellow, Purple and Green ...

Hello again, everyone ~ and how has your Monday been?
It's been lovely here - it's a happy feast day, for one thing - and for another, it's just as bright and brisk as only a Spring day can be ...
I had planned to plant seeds with the boys today, but there was just not time in our day to do it! So instead we took note of "new life" wherever we went, and we very happily found there was much to acknowledge and admire ...
A host of daffodils growing along a stone wall ...

Yellow-purple-green 1

So very New England.

And a tiny cache of eggs snuggled in the boughs of a forsythia ...

Yellow-purple-green 2

(Now - true confesson - I snuck this "pretend" nest into the forsythia just for this photo op ... EB thought I was very sneaky, trying to "trick the birds." Lol.)

But truly, the forsythia is in full bloom right now ... and it's so very early!

Yellow-purple-green 3

This neat little thing was found behind our fence at the edge of the woods. I think it's a hyacinth that self-seeded here (with the aid of a bird or critter most likely).

Yellow-purple-green 4

 But what a neat surprise! 

Everything is coming to life it seems ... buds and leaves are sprouting everywhere. Here is one of our lilac bushes:

Yellow-purple-green 5

So no, we didn't get those seeds planted, but tomorrow should be a quieter day so perhaps we'll work that activity in somewhere.

I also had thought of making a ring cake today (in honor of today's feast), but not only did I not have the time (I sound like a broken record!), we already have a good bit of dessert in the house, and I don't like to overdo. But we did have a big waffle breakfast yesterday (another traditional feast food) so I guess we'll count that. ;) 

Well, tonight's supper is already baking away  - a beef pie from a local farm is in the oven and it smells AMAZING. Beef pie might seem like a rather "wintry" dish, but really, on a blustery day like this - and paired with spring vegetable sides - it feels just right. :)

So I'm going to sign off for just now ... but I'll be popping into the Masterpiece Monday thread a bit later tonight. Looking forward to catching up with you all there ... and here again of course, sometime tomorrow ...

Masterpiece Monday (& OUaT)

Masterpiece logo

Well, we here in the Boston markets did not see MT last night - on any of our PBS stations - so I don't have much to discuss on that front ...

And though I did watch Once Upon a Time last night with Bill and the older boys, I must admit I was rather immersed in (i.e. distracted by) a current project, and only paying half-attention ... so I'd love a recap if someone can share! I know this episode featured the "Mad Hatter," and the kidnapping of Emma and Mary Margaret, but I'm wondering what his story means to the overall plot. Despite his "madness" he seemed a bit more "aware" (re ~ the curse, etc.) than other Storybrooke characters.

So it was a slow television weekend for me, but did you watch anything good? And have you been to see The Hunger Games? I'm very curous about that film (enjoyed the books very much) as there's much buzz about the PG-13 rating. (Bookworm has read the books, but not Crackerjack - they're a bit too dark for him just yet.) I'm wondering just how graphic the movie gets.

But here's some good news ... there's only one more week till Masterpiece resumes with all new programming! First up, Great Expectations ...


 You can see a preview here ...

I think it looks amazing and I'm sure we'll have much to discuss!

Well, have a great Monday, my friends ... hope your week gets off to a good start. I'll see you back here again sometime soon!

A Sunday Morning Hello

This is a quick, easy (and tasty!) activity to go along with this week's gospel (as well as Easter in general) ... Resurrection Rolls! I posted about it a few years ago ... just thought I'd mention it this morning in case it might be helpful to someone. :)

So Happy Sunday, everyone ... I'm working on my Easter menu and holiday plans today ... I'll be back soon to post about that!


(Oh, and p.s. It's International Waffle Day ... we had ours this morning with that strawberry-rhubarb sauce I made the other day. Delish! :))

Home Office Day: in the Afternoon

Hello, my friends ... I hope you're having a nice weekend!

Well, yesterday got completely away from me, so I was not able to get my "afternoon" post up ... and today has been quite busy (running errands, etc.) ... but here I am finally sitting down to catch up!

As promised, I took pictures through our day of how I (we) work in and around the "home office." I thought you all might like to see them. :)

First of all, I'm not the only one who makes use of this "office" space ...

HO afternoon 4

Here we have Crackerjack working on a book report at the family computer, and Bookworm reading his current Brit Lit assignment. (Archie is working on "nature study" - aka birdwatching.)

While Earlybird - already on to something else - had been busy on the floor ...

HO afternoon 3

Up at the kitchen counter I began working on next week's file folder ...

HO afternoon 2

... and I pulled a recipe from this week's folder to work on during lunch.

HO afternoon 5

The kitchen is a natural extension of my "workspace," because goodness knows I do much of my "work" in there! Today I had a tuna-pasta dish cooking, good ole mac-and-cheese, as well as a strawberry-rhubarb sauce.

HO afternoon 8

Once the sauce started bubbling, I snapped a picture and sent a quick email to Bill at work ... I thought it might make him smile.

HO afternoon 9

(It did!)

I spent some time organizing my marketing binder ...

HO afternoon 6

... while Earlybird watched a Reading Rainbow episode on the computer.

HO afternoon 7

At last it was time for my lunch break!

HO afternoon 10

Two favorite mugs - one from my mum, one from my mother-in-law. I often eat lunch at my desk ... or next to my desk, lol.

The boys always take an outdoor break after lunch (weather permitting) and the weather was so glorious yesterday I joined them. I was pleasantly surprised to find the forsythia in full bloom!

HO afternoon 17

I brought a few branches inside, but they had to be tucked up high out of (Archie's) reach.

HO afternoon 14

On top of these shelves I also have a basket of saved school work and a basket of tealight candles. (The ones we had blessed on Candlemas.)

I sat down with next week's folder and looked up a few ideas for celebrating the Annunciation and Palm Sunday.

HO afternoon 11

I also spent more time clipping coupons ...

HO afternoon 15

... and I played around with a few new notebooks.

HO afternoon 12

(Temporary daybooks - more on that later.)

I like to keep my planning tools out on the island counter during the day (the bridge between the office and kitchen), as it's easier for me to stand at the counter and work when I have a moment. But at the end of the day, it's good to have a place where I can stash everything ~ notebooks, papers, planners, etc.

HO afternoon 26

(My "Martha" corner, I like to call it. :))

On Fridays I change up EB's reading corner - putting away last week's books (St. Joseph's Day, Spring Equinox) and setting out a few new ones (ducks, rain and salamanders).

HO afternoon 16

Earlybird (who obviously prefers working on the floor!) looked through some of these books. (With Archie's help, of course.)

HO afternoon 18

A bit later on, he did some drawing in his nature notebook.

HO afternoon 19

(I feel compelled to point out - that's dirt on his face, from playing outside. He did get cleaned up at the end of the day. :))

Part of my Friday housekeeping routine is to clean the sitting/learning room (aka my home office), so I did just that ... neatening corners, wiping surfaces, sweeping the floor.

HO afternoon 22

I love it when I can open the windows!

Now, I just gave the room a cursory "clean," but periodically (monthly or seasonally), I give it a deeper cleaning. This would include washing the windows, mopping the floor, cleaning/reorganizing drawers, vacuuming cushions, dusting the ceiling fan, etc.

 Once the cleaning's done, and lessons are done for the day ... I can sit down for a bit!

HO afternoon 23

I have my computer to my right - for checking email, the news and working on my blog. And to my left, I have my journaling stuff and a "to do" list for the weekend ...

HO afternoon 25

It's nice to putter like this when I can. :)

And one last shot ... the home office in the evening ... a glass of wine, a magazine and a little peace and quiet. 

HO evening 1

(Bill had the boys outside, lol.)

I love the softness of a Spring sunset ... can you see the forsythia *bursting* with life in the background? The light is so wonderful at this time of year!


So, a full day late, there's the rest of my "Home Office Day" post. I hope you enjoyed seeing our "workaday" unfold! Now this was a pretty usual Friday for us, for an "at home" day. Many days we are in and out, running to a class or activity.

I'm going to sign off now, as it's time to get supper underway. Thanks so much for visiting me today! I look forward to "seeing" you again soon. :)

Home Office Day: in the Morning

Today is National Organize Your Home Office Day!

I thought it would be fun to take pictures through the day as I work in, and clean out, my own little "office space." So to begin with, here are some pictures from early this morning (a typical morning) in my home office ... 

HO morning 1

This is my comfy reading corner (known to all in the household as "Mama's Chair," lol). In the very early mornings I have my coffee here ... 

I always open this window to let in fresh air and allow the cats their morning "bird fix."

HO morning 2

I love tearing a page off my Mary Engelbreit daily calendar. Her artwork and quotes always make me smile. :)

HO morning 3

And then, parked up at the kitchen island I have my laptop and assorted planning materials. I don't usually have my phone out, but my inbox was acting wonky this morning so I was checking mail on my phone instead. 

HO morning 4

At this early hour, I look over my calendar and start working on a daily page.


And now it's just about 9 a.m. and time to start up my own "office hours." :) I.e. it's time to get breakfast for my now-awake-boys ... and organize their lessons ... but I'll be back again later to chat more about my "Home Office Day." I hope your Friday is off to a nice start ... and THANK YOU all so much for your kind "blog-a-versary" messages yesterday! I appreciate your kind words and loving support very much!

See you again in a bit ... have a great day!

Now We Are Six ...

When I was one,
I had just begun.
When I was two,
I was nearly new.
When I was three,
I was hardly me.
When I was four,
I was not much more.
When I was five,
I was just alive.
But now I am six,
I'm as clever as clever.
So I think I'll be six
now and forever.

(A.A. Milne)


Dear friends, it was six years ago today that I started this blog!

And I know it's cliche to say this, but honestly, how time has flown. I had such fun going back through my archives to find a link for each number above. I am most amazed by how quickly my boys have grown!

When I started By Sun and Candlelight I had no idea what I was doing, but I figured I'd just have fun with it and see if it "took." I found I enjoyed the writing and the photography and the creative aspects of blogging very much ... but my main goal has always been to use this blog as a "virtual" family scrapbook. And looking back over six years' worth of memories, I'm so glad I've done this. I never would have written down all those little things that you think you'll remember, but never really do ...

All those little things that at the time seem so little, but in hindsight are really ...

What It's All About.

 So today I look forward to another year of blogging ... another year of catching memories where they fall and making time to enjoy it all. :) And I sincerely thank each and every one of you who has joined me on this journey ... for the time you spend reading and the comments you leave, your kindness and encouragement ...

I appreciate you all so very much.

Have a great Thursday, my friends ... I'll see you here again sometime soon!

A New Batch of Weekly File Folders ...

A "new year" all ready to go!

New batch of folders 1

Don't they look nice - all fresh and crisp? I love how ... empty ... they are and yet, so full of promise. 

As you can see, I went with plain manilla folders this go-around (rather than patterned, pastel or primary) because I am currently fiddling with the weekly planning sheet (to fasten to the front of each folder) and I thought a plain background would work best.

Now, speaking of "office stuff" don't forget, this Friday is National Clean Out Your Home Office Day. I plan to do a little spring cleanup of my own "home office" ... and then of course, I'll post all about it. :)

And if you do have a home office (room, corner, space), I'd love to hear about it! I know many of my readers are stay-at-home moms, and I've always felt we have as much a need for office space as anyone. A quiet corner, a special desk, a small portion of the kitchen counter ... even just a big, roomy tote! What we need is a place where we can keep track of what we're in charge of ... and as moms, we're in charge of a lot!

Now, I'd like to take a moment to say that I have great respect for women who work outside the home and also juggle responsibilites at home. I know I'm very fortunate to not have to work, and that I can make our home and family my sole focus. I try to never take that for granted, and I thank God (and Bill) every day that we are able to live this way. The thing of it is, all of us moms - wherever we work - without a doubt, we have a lot on our plates. You know, those many, many plates we keep spinning above our heads on any given day? So a home office - any size or scale - is a good idea for all of us!


Well, my friends,  I hope you all had a nice day ... and I hope to be here again sometime tomorrow. Thanks for stopping by ... have a good night!

Tuesday Tea ~ On the First Day of Spring

Good afternoon, everyone! I hope you've all had a nice day. :)

This was a busy day for me, and to be honest, I did not think I'd squeeze in that weekly tea break! But in the end I was able to, and though it was not a long break, it was just what I needed ...

And because I was dragging a bit, instead of my usual decaffeinated tea, I had a small cup of coffee. Just my regular brew, with a "half" sugar and a splash (or three) of cream. As I've mentioned here before, I'm a bit of a coffee fiend, but I don't often have it after mid-morning. However ... during one recent "errand day," I splurged on a "Caramel Almond Iced Coffee" at Dunkin' Donuts and it was ... So. Incredibly. Delicious.

I must admit I can't wait to try it again!

Well, I do adore almond flavor (not so much almonds though, oddly enough) ... and my "biscuit" today is a small Amaretti I picked up at our favorite local Italian bakery. To be honest, I found them a bit too sweet, so I think I might try making my own. This looks like a nice recipe here ... they'd be lovely at Easter, don't you think?

Now, for a few Springy thoughts ...

I thought the Mary Englebreit page-a-day calendar was especially lovely today:


And I thought my tiny snowdrops were quite charming, nestled in an old peppermint extract bottle.


I thought a lot about Easter celebrations today I set up a handy planning folder ... and Mum and I talked menus and seating arrangements this morning. :)


I thought it was time to hang our forsythia wreath on the front door ...


... and nestle some pretty "robin eggs" in a cozy basket:


Those are actually candy-covered, caramel-filled chocolate eggs! But shhh ... don't tell the boys that! At least, not till Easter. ;)

And earlier today, I prepped all the veggies for tonight's Pasta Primavera


Love all those fresh veggie colors!

And speaking of those veggies ... I have them in the oven now (tossed with olive oil and seasonings) and they smell awesome! (In fact, as I just typed those words, both Crackerjack and Bookworm started sniffing the air and wondering "what smelled so good?" I just smiled and said ... "Vegetables!" Bookworm gave a nod, but CJ did not look amused. Lol.)

Now, I didn't do much spring cleaning and I didn't get any seeds planted today, nor did I catch up on emails as I'd hoped ... and we only did math and English and just a wee bit of art ... but I did spend a lot of time with my boys outside ... and we did locate spring peepers in the vernal pool out back. (That was very exciting.)

So tomorrow I'll play a little catch up, but for now, I'll just appreciate what today was, and try not to worry about what it coulda-shoulda been.


My friends, I hope you have a nice night ... and as always, thanks so much for stopping by. I will see you again very soon!

Happy First Day of Spring!

And the weather here could not be more Spring-like today ... 75 for a high, with lots of bright, sparkling sunshine! I'm sure we'll find ourselves outside quite a bit today ...

Inside, I'll have the windows open, letting in that nice fresh air ... I'll work in a little Spring cleaning, start some seeds, and boil some eggs for lunch. And late this afternoon I'll sit by an open window and enjoy my Tuesday Tea ...

I'll be here later today to tell you all about it. :)


Oh, and two recipes to share before I go ... the "Guiness Cake" recipe can be found here, and the baked donut recipes can be found here. Enjoy!

 And have a good one, my friends. 

Fun Feast Day Food

Today is the Feast of St. Joseph, which in our house means ... 

Saint joseph donuts 1

... homemade donuts!

Now, zeppoles are actually the traditional St. Joseph's Day donut, but I have yet to try making them myself. There are many fine bakeries in Boston's North End that make these special treats, and one year I will make the trek in! For the time being though, I will stick with our own humble basic donuts ... quite plain, but still special!

I know I've told you all about these donuts before ... they're really quite yummy, and since they're baked (not fried), they're not so bad for you, really. And you can use your own fresh ingredients - which means nutritious flours, all-natural flavors and organic eggs and butter, etc. Really, I think they're pretty special ... because you see, Earlybird has a sincere love for donuts (cider donuts, especially), but he cannot have commercially prepared donuts. (And yes, we do live in the heart of Dunkin' Donuts Land!) So I improvised and bought this donut pan years ago specifically so we could make our own awesome donuts (like these and these on special holidays).

These donuts are so good all on their own - soft, dense and cakey - they really don't need anything else, but they are fun to frost. EB and I prefer ours plain - but the older boys spread some leftover cream cheese frosting on theirs this morning.

Saint joseph donuts 2

Who needs Dunkin' Donuts, anyways?


And for supper tonight? Why, "Sloppy Joes," of course! Though I'm sure Good Saint Joseph was not at all a messy man, lol ... I still like to serve these on this day.


Well, the weather was absolutely glorious today ... 76 degrees and bright sun! Spring may officially arrive tomorrow, but it truly felt like Summer today! (It actually arrives just after midnight, EST - so we can say, "Happy Spring!" when we awake!)

A few "Spring Heralds" we encountered today:

A Mourning Cloak Butterfly and a Cabbage Butterfly in our front yard.

Many turtles of all sizes sunning themselves on a log in the pond.

Pink azaleas bushes in BLOOM.

... and ...

The street sweepers were out in the neigborhood!

(According to my boys, that's a SURE sign of Spring.)


Well, my friends ... I'm going to sign off, as those sloppy joes are not going to make themselves. Ah, but would that they could ...

So please have a good night and I'll see you again soon!


Masterpiece Monday ~ & Once Upon a Time :-)

Masterpiece logoGood morning, everyone ... So what did you watch last night?

(Warning: Spoilers ahead!)

Once Upon a Time was pretty good last night, I thought. I like how the two storylines (the "past" and "present" lives) always seem to connect, and yet never run quite parallel. Like last night - Snow and Charming resolved the "lost love" between them, but then it ended on quite a cliffhanger: Charming was caught and Snow swore to find him. (Nice twist - her using his promise.) In "present day," David really messed things up and broke Mary Margaret's heart ... and we were left with yet another cliffie. MM told David to get out (can't say I blame her) and "escaped" jail (I wanted to throttle her! She'll only look guilty!). 

Now, let me ask this ... the heart is Kathryn's, but we all know the Queen keeps everyone's hearts in her special vault. A person is only dead when she destroys the heart (as she did with the Sherriff). So Kathryn is not necessarily dead, right?

(More OUaT thoughts inside later on ... )

As for Masterpiece, well, we watched the last part of South Riding last night, and to be honest, I'm glad to be done with it, lol. It's not that I regret watching it - but I was not very pleased with it. In the end I felt rather ambivalent. For example, this last installment was quite tragic, and yet I didn't cry. Now, I cry at everything, so this really says something! As I said to Bill last night, I think if I cared more about the characters I'd feel more sympathy/empathy about all this drama

There were some ends tied up nicely - I liked the shack family storyline, with Mr. Holly finding someone for his family (and himself) and young Lydia returning to school. I liked that Huggins and the other "schemers" got ripped off in the end. (Though I would have loved to have seen more public disgrace for that despicable man.) I felt badly about Carne - yet oddly enough, not so badly for Midge or even Sarah. I just never warmed up to either of them. I liked Askell a lot and was glad he left because he deserves someone better than Sarah (not that she led him on, but she would have just hurt him eventually).

Now, our previews for next week's Masterpiece showed Murder on the Orient Express for next Sunday. And I'm quite excited about that actually, because for one thing I've never seen it, and for another, Bookworm just read the book a couple of weeks ago. (He's become quite the Agatha Christie fan!) So there's something to look forward to, and in the meantime, we're getting closer to all that wonderful April programming!

So, my friends ... I'd love to know what you're watching and how you're liking it. If you have thoughts to share on Masterpiece, Once Upon a Time or any other shows/movies you've been watching ... please leave your comments below. :)

And of course, I hope you all have a good day. I'll be back here again later on ...

A Rose Sunday Hello

Today I baked a Guinness Cake ...

Guinness cake

... and played with my pretty, new papers.

Monthly calendar 3

I arranged some flowers for "Rose" Sunday ...

Rose sunday

... and spotted the first dandelion of the year.

First dandelion

I laughed with my kids about this ...

Ollie meets red squirrel 2

And I thought long and hard about this.

Tiny text 1

To sum up, I am feeling very grateful for an easy, happy day just like this.

 My friends, I hope you all had a nice weekend. I hope you find yourselves feeling refreshed and restored, ready to face a new week ahead ...

Tonight we are having our "St. Pat's" supper since yesterday went all kerflooey. Nothing fancy at all ... just corned beef and cheddar panini, roasted potatoes and salad ... and of course, that pretty Irish cake for dessert.

After watching Once Upon a Time with the older boys (EB will already be asleep), Bill and I will tune in to Masterpiece Theater, to catch (endure? lol) the last segment of South Riding. And as always, I'll be here bright and early tomorrow morning to talk about both shows ... perhaps other shows ... and whatever else stikes our fancy. :)

So have a good night, everyone ... take care of yourselves and your loved ones!