Previous month:
August 2012
Next month:
October 2012

September 2012

Michaelmas Jam

Michaelmas jam 4

Happy almost-October, my friends!

I saw a recipe in The Herb Quarterly for a "Spiced Blackberry Spread" and I thought - wouldn't that be lovely at Michaelmas? Since blackberries are tied into Michaelmas legend, I thought I'd rename my attempt, "Michaelmas Jam." :)

Anyhoo, I got some nice local blackberries and this weekend I cooked up a pot of this "jam" or "conserve" or "relish," if you will. It's not a sweet concoction, mind you ... something you'd eat alongside a meat dish perhaps. I was thinking (hoping) it will be nice next to our roast chicken tonight. (If anyone would like the recipe, please let me know in the comments below.)

And aren't these jars gorgeous?

Michaelmas jam 3

Here's a peek inside at the fruit ...

Michaelmas jam 1

I also made cupcakes for a party we attended this weekend, but I left some at home so the boys could enjoy their traditional "Michael's Sword Cakes." (These are just devil's food cupcakes, topped with buttercream and pierced by a cocktail sword - just as St. Michael slew the terrible dragon.)


Tonight is also the Full Harvest Moon - my favorite moon of the year! - alas, it's raining here, so I guess we'll be missing it. Nevertheless, in its honor we are also having a medley of roasted harvest vegetables alongside that roast chicken and spiced jam ... and if I'm feeing especially ambitious, I just might make a dragon bread, too. (Though as the day goes on, that looks less and less likely, lol.)

So my friends, I thank you for stopping by and I wish you all a Happy Michaelmas ... any special plans for the evening? We here are quite excited for the season premiere of Once Upon a Time and then, thanks to our dvr, Bill and I will check out that new PBS show, Call the Midwife. I'll have a Masterpiece Monday post up tomorrow morning so we can all chat about that. :)

So take care of yourselves and your loved ones, and I'll see you here again very soon!

p.s. Don't forget - "Rabbit, Rabbit" in the morning!

Ever Wonder about Wolves?

Good morning, everyone! Did you know it's National Dog Week?

I myself had no idea, but it very conveniently coincides with our current dogs/foxes/wolves study. :) Another happy happenstance, we were kindly invited on a field trip to Wolf Hollow this week! Long time reader and friend, Melissa R, arranged the visit for her homeschool group and invited the boys and I to attend. I am so glad we were able to make it - it was great to meet Melissa and it was nice to be reacquainted with the wonderful wolves of Wolf Hollow.

This morning, if I may, I'd like to share a few photos from our visit with you ...

Wolf hollow 11

(Bookworm and Crackerjack, standing beside the info board.)

Despite his current interest in wolves, Earlybird declared this field trip, "kinda too scary," lol. So he stayed home with Nana. He's been loving all the pictures, though, and has said he might want to go "next time." Baby steps ... :)

Shown below is the Alpha Male, Weeble.

Wolf hollow 2

Isn't he gorgeous? He is getting on in age, but quite obviously held a position of respect. At the same time he seemed quite gentle, and he was the only one to howl for us.

A few of the wolves were quite feisty ...

Wolf hollow 4

The black male on the right is Grendel, who will most likely be the next Alpha. (All these wolves are "gray wolves" despite the variation in fur color.)

In a confrontation such as this, the wolf with a higher pack position holds his tail higher ...

Wolf hollow 5

Below, on the right, is the Alpha Female, Nina - aka "Mom."

Wolf hollow 6

(You can meet all the Wolf Hollow wolves here.)

In a wolf pack, it is the Alpha Female who bears the puppies. One very interesting (and slightly shocking) thing we learned, was that a female wolf is able to sense the overall pack situation (food availability, etc.) and only birth a managable amount of pups. Apparently her body will reabsorb any extraneous pups. That's kind of incredible! o.O

Another interesting thing we learned was that wolves have evolved to have an inborn fear of humans. As our speaker pointed out, if we happened to be walking in a forest where wolves were living, we would never see them. They would steer clear of us - our smell, our sounds, our very existence.

They really are amazing animals, and they live very much like a family - looking after, and out for, each other ... It's disturbing how misunderstood they've been through the years and continue to be in this day and age. 

Wolf hollow 8

We truly enjoyed our visit to Wolf Hollow, and came away with a renewed sense of respect and responsibility. I look forward to exploring wolves (and their brethren, foxes and dogs) more at home with the boys. If you'd like to learn more about wolves, please check out the Wolf Hollow website.


Well my friends, thanks so much for stopping by! I hope you all have a nice Friday ... see you here again very soon!

A New Season of Tea ... on Tuesdays!

(But sometimes Wednesdays.)

TT 3

Happy MidWeek, my friends!

I'm so happy to get back to my weekly tea posts ... I really had such fun with them last year! My schedule this fall is a bit busier than it was last year, but I'll try not to let that deter me ... in fact, I think I'll need that weekly "tea hour" all the more!

So my "tea" today focused on cold cider, not hot tea, in honor of Johnny Appleseed Day (and the mild weather). I took my mug and goodies out to the deck to enjoy alongside the gusty wind and shifting sun ...

TT 2

The cider was so crisp and tart-sweet, just right for this lovely fall day.

Now, when I "take tea" I like to gather up some fun and pretty things to look over or maybe just look at. :)

Today I had a few new books to peruse ...

For EB, two B&N clearance specials:

Squirrel's Fall Search and Goonight, Mouse ... sweet, autumnal animal stories.

And for me, a library find: The Happiest Mom ... mostly because I loved the look of the book!

... as well as ...

A recent Amazon splurge: Williams-Sonoma Family Meals: Creating Traditions in the Kitchen ... because it's just gorgeous and filled with great recipe ideas.

Rounding out my tea "atmosphere" today was a lovely pocketbook that once belonged to my grandmother. I just love the vibrant embroidery, set against the dark chocolate background ...

 TT 4

 (And I couldn't help but notice how nicely my new nail polish ("Angora Cardi") matched my "new" purse.)

TT 5


My friends, if you're taking tea, what's your brew of choice these days? Do you like the same thing year-round, or do you change it up according to season? I'm always looking for new "tea" ideas!

Have a great night, everyone ... see you here again very soon!

It's Johnny Appleseed Day!

Here are a few apple-y activities for your consideration ... :)

Go apple picking!

Bake apples for breakfast or an afternoon snack.

Make apple picking totes.

Conduct an apple survey.

Learn about Johnny Appleseed.

Read about apples:

Apple book 1
Apples for Everyone

Apple book 2
How Do Apples Grow?

Apple book 3
The Life and Time of the Apple

Bake your own cider donuts.

Learn fractions with apple slices.

Look for apple stars.

Make up an apple poem:

All the apples bright and red,

They’re hard as rocks, just like your head!

The stars inside, they shine so bright.

The apples glow from their light.

~ By Crackerjack, age 8

What are your favorite apple activities? Do you have a favorite apple variety - for baking or snacking? The Macintosh will always be my favorite in any capacity. :)

Have a wonderful Wednesday, my friends! See you here again very soon!

Money $ Monday: Marriage Matters

Good morning, my friends! I hope your week's off to a good start!

So my "money question" for you this week is this:

How does money figure into your marriage? Is one of you better with finances than the other? Are you on the same page when it comes to spending and saving? Has this changed over time?



I'd guess a lot of us start out one way and then through the years gravitate towards the middle. For example, I was never a frugal person (and I'd daresay I'm still not) but over time, I've become more mindful about spending. Bill is decidedly the thriftier spouse, but he's loosened up through the years. And as for handling the monies - this might sound awfully old-fashioned, but I leave most of that up to him. It's just what works for us.

So Bill earns the family income, and he handles the investing and saving. Though we do discuss things, especially big decisions (like, should we refinance or not). Meanwhile I do my best to manage the household budget. 

(And let me just add in the disclaimer here that I was the English major, while Bill studied economics and today works in finance. So clearly we play to our strengths in this department.)


So if you have a moment, please chime in and let me know how money matters in your marriage. I'm especially interested to know what your "spending personality" is like. :)

Thanks so much and have a great day ...

See you here again very soon!

Autumn Comforts

Autumn bedding

As the nights start to cool, I like to make up our bed with this pretty fall bedding. Typically I do this on the autumn equinox, unless of course we're having unseasonably warm weather. Our days are nice and mild right now, but the evenings are rather nippy. This sheet set is as soft as butter and makes a nice bridge between summer and fall - it's bright and sunny, but warm and cozy as well.

Well I wish you all a pleasant Sunday ... I have just caught up with a week's worth of comments and I once again must apologize for taking so long. I really am finding our fall schedule a bit overwhelming and my routine feels all "off." I'm hoping it's just a matter of me finding my rhythm again and not an unmanagable schedule. We're only a few weeks into the new year after all ...

I hope to have a "Money Monday" post up tomorrow morning, but my plan for the following week is to revert back to "Masterpiece Mondays" as I'll be watching that new series, Call the Midwife on Sunday nights. It premieres on 9/30 and I can't wait to check it out!

Other things to look forward to this week:

Michaelmas, aka The Feast of Archangels

Tuesday Teatime resumes!

A very interesting field trip ...

Autumn nature painting ...

... and the Full Harvest Moon!

My friends, I'll see you all again very soon!

Peace be with You!

September 21st is International Peace Day, so I thought I'd share one of my favorite sayings today. It's actually a magnet on my fridge:

Peace magnet

I know this holiday is about world peace in particular, but I truly believe peace begins in the home, and that a peaceful future rests in the hands of our children. Because if we don't show them how to be peaceful people, who will? Certainly not the media, and probably not their peers ...

I'm actually using a "peace-curriculum" with Earlybird because this is a real issue for my autistic son - handling chaos and keeping in control. My goal is to help EB find and maintain his own peace, even when his mind and body are telling him otherwise. We're also exploring what it means to be part of a peaceful community - whether that be a family, a group of friends or the outside world at large.

These are big concepts - and the steps are small - but every little bit helps.


So each morning when I reach in my fridge for my half-and-half, I take a moment to look at that magnet. Some days this concept is easier live by than others - and some days it feels near impossible! But I honestly feel if I can keep some peace within myself, I can (hopefully) share it with others as I go through my day. Most importantly, my own dear sons.

So on this beautiful Friday in September, I wish all of you peace in your hearts and your homes ...

Have a great weekend, my friends!

Friday Photos by Bookworm

Bookworm recently enrolled in an eight-week photography class and these are a few of the photos from his first class ...

Bw class 1

Bw class 2

Bw class 3

(That shot reminds me of the tree ents in LotR!)

Orb web spider

That last picture was taken by me, actually. This is a gorgeous (and ginormous!) orb weaver spider that lives in our backyard. We've been watching it all week and we are just fascinated! Bookworm helped me pick settings on my camera so I could get a fairly clear shot. :)

I'm looking forward to watching Bookworm catch the "shutterbug" as I have, and I am excited for him to learn more about using my camera! (He's using my Sony Nex 5 for this class.) I only use the very basic settings so we both have a lot to learn!

Well, have a great Friday, my friends ... see you here again very soon!

Silence is (apparently) golden ...

Eb at Petsmart

A trip to the pet store was part of our science study this week (current topic: classification). So we're walking around Petsmart, observing all the myriad species and how they differ (fur/scales/fins/feathers), but Earlybird totally catches on that I'm trying to make this a "teaching moment."

EB: "Mom, look! It's a Nemo fish!"

(EB points out a bright orange fish of some kind or another.)

Me: "Wow, that's so cool. Yeah, that fish is a lot like a clownfish because it's small and orange and its fins are kind of ..."

(EB sighs.)

EB: "Mom? Don't talk about it, ok? Just don't talk about it."

Me: *zips lips*
Do you ever find yourself making everything a teaching moment? It's hard to resist sometimes! Do your kids ever call you on it?
Have a great Thursday, my friends! See you here again very soon ...

Travel Journal: My Vermont Weekend

Hello, everyone!

Vermont 64

So for the past three years, my college girlfriends and I have enjoyed an annual "moms weekend away" somewhere in New England. In 2009 we traveled to Newport, RI ... and last year we met up on Cape Elizabeth, ME. Our destination this year was southern Vermont, one of my most favorite places on earth!

 Needless to say, this is a crazy-long post filled with lots and lots of pictures. So if vacation photos are not your thing, please feel free to skip this post and return when I've moved onto my next topic. ;)

So we left last Friday morning and arrived at the Castle Hill Resort & Spa in Proctorsville, Vermont around 3 p.m. The day was just glorious - perfectly sunny and warm.

*Arriving at Castle Hill*

Vermont 3

Vermont 4

Isn't this building (aka The Castle) beautiful? This was once the home of Governor Allan M. Fletcher (1912-1915). It was the first Vermont residence to have electricity which I thought was quite interesting.

Our first order of business, stretching our legs and ...

*Exploring the Grounds*

Vermont 23

Vermont 1

Vermont 15

Vermont 17

Vermont 18

My dear friends, and travel companions, Lynne and Dionne. Lynne is the one who researched and organized the whole weekend, finding us this wonderful spot. She also drove us - up to, around, and home from Vermont again. D. handled navigation and any money matters - figuring expenses and divvying up checks, etc.

Vermont 78

D. and I by the spa sign ... we never indulged in any spa services, but we left feeling refreshed all the same!

Vermont 19

(It was beautiful though! And oh my goodness, it smelled fantastic!)

Vermont 20

(Pretty natural things, inside and out.)

Vermont 22

And next we met up with the rest of our crew and settled into our suite ...

*Our Little Home Away from Home*

Vermont 21

More dear friends of mine: Kathy, Allison and Mo. :)

Vermont 24

The suite was quite spacious - and light-filled as you can see.

Vermont 25

Vermont 27

(Yes, those are my magazines on that bed. Lol, I brought about a dozen!)

After cocktails on the deck, admiring the view and catching up, we headed out for ...

*Our "Fancy Dinner" at The Castle*

Vermont 11

Such a beautiful setting ...

I was pretending (just a little) that I was visiting Downton Abbey. ;)

Vermont 5

Vermont 6

Vermont 7

Vermont 8

Vermont 12

Vermont 9

Vermont 28

Dinner was amazing! And after a late night of talking ... and talking ... we finally got to bed sometime around midnight. (Way past my bedtime as most of you know!)

Now unfortunately I just could not program myself to sleep in - no matter how hard I tried - so I was up around 6:30 Saturday morning. But fortunately, I was able to enjoy a beautiful sunrise as I sat on the deck, with my coffee and camera close at hand.

Vermont 29

Vermont 97

Vermont 98

Vermont 32

Vermont 30

After coffee and some "pumpkin streusel coffee cake," we piled into the minivan and were off for some ...

*Saturday Adventures*

Vermont 33

With Mt. Okemo looming in the distance, we headed south to Weston and our first stop:

*The Vermont Country Store*

Vermont 37

Where they truly have everything!

Vermont 42

 Homespun tablecloths ...

Vermont 34

... moose hats ...

Vermont 35

... long-forgotten soaps and shampoo ...

Vermont 38

... funny paper masks ...

Vermont 40

... storage supplies ...

Vermont 46

... maple syrup (of course!) ...

Vermont 43

... handcrafted mugs of all kinds ...

Vermont 39

... interesting history ...

Vermont 41

... household items for every imaginable need ...

Vermont 47

... lots of sweet stuff ...

Vermont 49

... and coffee!

Vermont 50

Bags in tow, we took a moment to "re-group" after shopping.

Vermont 51

To be honest, I could have stayed there all day, but it was time for a little refreshment, so we took a drive out to the ...

*Long Trail Brewery*

Vermont 52

(Had to snap the trestle bridge picture for Earlybird!)

Vermont 59

It was another gorgeous day, so we enjoyed our lunch out on the deck ...

Vermont 53

Vermont 55

Vermont 56

Vermont 58

I'm not much of a beer drinker myself, but when in Rome and all ... and actually, this pale ale was quite nice!

Vermont 60

Vermont 62

Vermont 63

Vermont 61

After lunch and a brewery tour, we all bought souvenir t-shirts and sampler packs for our hubbies, who had so generously stayed home to hold down the forts while we were off having fun. 

Next stop:

*Our Requisite Cultural/Historical Experience*

Vermont 65

But since I have sooo many pictures from the wonderful Calvin Coolidge Museum, I will put them all in a separate photo album, otherwise this post will just get ridiculously long. (Not that it's not already!) I'll get that album together later this week.

By evening we had returned to the suite and stayed in for dinner and a movie. It was the perfect quiet evening after a very busy day. Sunday morning we lingered at the suite as long as we could and then headed off to breakfast at ...

*The Hatchery*

Vermont 82

Vermont 83

Vermont 84

Vermont 85

(The apple cinnamon pancakes were fabulous!)

Vermont 86

Do these gals look refreshed or what? I just love these ladies so much!

This is a small sampling of our whole group - several women could not make it this year. We've all been friends since our freshman year in college ... and I won't tell you how long ago that was, lol - but suffice it to say, it's been a while! We're all moms now, and busy with our families and careers, etc. but when we come together like this, it just seems like the years and distance all melts away. I feel blessed to have these ladies in my life and so grateful we're able to do this ...

And speaking of feeling blessed and grateful, it goes without saying - but I'm going to say it anyway - I am SO thankful that Bill encourages me to do this. He is such a trooper about it - taking on all the responsibilities at home for two and a half days. It's a whole lot of work but he makes sure it all goes smoothly and that I don't worry or feel guilty about it. The boys are good about it too - though each time I called home, Earlybird would say, "I miss you Mama and I want you to come home."

Ok, so after breakfast we headed for home ... but there was one more stop to make ... the other Vermont Country Store! (It just so happened to be right on our way ...)

Vermont 87

(And who can resist just a wee bit more Vermont shopping?)

Vermont 88

Vermont 89

(I tried on a few of these hats and was very tempted to make a purchase.)

Vermont 90

Vermont 91

Vermont 92

Vermont 93

And then finally, roundabouts 4 p.m., I was truly back home! I brought back some yummy goodies for the family, a pair of new fleece slippers for myself, as well as a lovely new mug ...

Vermont 99

(Every time I use it I'll remember this wonderful weekend away.)

 So it's back to reality now, and I'm trying hard to catch up. But we're already making plans for and looking forwards to next year ...

Our 2013 destination: the great state of Connecticut! 


Well, thanks so much for stopping by, and taking the time to read. I know it was a lot to sift through, but as designated "weekend photographer" I wanted to make sure to catch every moment. Our memories are only so reliable these days!

Have a great Tuesday, my friends ... see you here again very soon!

By request ... :)

Vermont 30

Good Sunday evening, my friends!

I'm popping on very quickly tonight because I wanted to share that "pumpkin streusel coffee cake" I mentioned on Friday! I'm sorry I didn't respond sooner to the readers who asked me to share - just an hour after I posted my "Friday Photos" post, I was off for a long weekend away in Vermont!

So above you see the cake as it looked Saturday morning - sitting on a deck, with the gorgeous Vermont hills in the background. I can happily tell you, it was a HUGE hit!

Pumpkin cake

So here's the recipe ...

And tomorrow (or as soon as I can) I will be posting the pictures from my Vermont weekend. The weather was perfect and we had a great time! I do this every year with several girlfriends from college - we call it our "moms weekend away" and it is always such fun.

So please stay tuned and thanks so much for stopping by. I hope you all had a nice weekend, too - wherever you spent it! 

See you here again sometime soon ...

Friday Photos

~ Around the Home & Garden ~

September nature 2

Sedum (Autumn Joy), starting to bloom.

Katydid 2

A katydid enjoying a chrysanthemum bud.

Star trek minifigs

Crackerjack's "Star Trek" minifigs.

Pencil sharpener

My favorite purchase of the new school year: a real pencil sharpener!

Ollie and minifig

Oliver, just because.

Pumpkin cake 1

The start of a very yummy breakfast cake.


Happy Friday, my friends ~ make it a great day for yourself and your loved ones!

And Now We Begin ...

... because this arrived yesterday:

Oak meadow package

In my early years of homeschooling I would have been absolutely panicked had our curriculum not arrived by Labor Day, lol. Nowadays I'm pretty confident we can fill our hours with all kinds of things to keep us busy - learning and living and observing and envisioning - with a curriculum or without.

(Still, I was glad to see that box on my doorstep!)

It's a simply gorgeous morning here ... sunny and warm, the air abuzz with insects and soft with morning haze. I want to soak up these last lovely days, and relish them for what they are: still ripe with summer, but coy with the promise of fall ...

Have a good one, my friends ... I'll see you here again very soon!

Do you use a "boxed" curriculum, and if so, what do you use?

Tuesday Tidbits

Ralph Lauren to Sponsor PBS 'Masterpiece,' Create 'Downton Abbey' Ads

Ralph lauren DA ads

Just look at all that vintage clothing - so gorgeous!

The funny thing is, I clipped this magazine ad for my journal last week ... I guess I was unknowingly drawn to that posh Downton spirit!

From the article linked above:

"Ralph Lauren’s sponsorship messages will begin Sept. 30 on PBS."

I will definitely be looking for them!


So I'm getting a rather slow, lazy start here ... there just doesn't seem to be enough coffee in my pot to wake me up. Well, we had a late, but wonderful, night out last night, at Bill's company's service recognition dinner. (He celebrates 15 years this year!)

A picture for posterity, if I may ...

Bill and dawn at fid party

And I so wished I had my camera with me, because the party ambiance was just breathtaking, but Bill obliged me with a quick shot off his phone. :)

Flowers at mfa

The flowers were absolutely gorgeous! Deeply hued dahlias, set against amber- and rose- colored tablecloths and lots of cozy, flickering candles. Amazing food and delicious wine ... it was such a treat to have a night out like this. Thanks to my mum for babysitting our boys!


And finally, but certainly most importantly, we're saying a prayer today for all those who lost their lives on 9/11, especially Chris, a friend and co-worker of Bill's. Prayers too for all those who love and miss them ...


Enjoy the rest of your Tuesday, my friends. I'll speak with you again very soon!

Money $ Monday: Handling the Holidays

In the midst of much busy-ness here, but I wanted to get this week's M$M post up before the day got away from me! 

So here we are nearing mid-September, and though it seems far away, the holiday season will be here in the blink of an eye. This is a busy time of year for most of us, so it's easy to get distracted and then head into the holidays unprepared - meaning, without a plan. And I know when I don't have a plan, I always end up spending more money!

Of course, the holidays - Chistmas, Hannukah, Solstice, etc. - by their very nature, have nothing to do with money. But as we decorate and celebrate and cook and clean and give and get, of course money comes into play. It's up to us to make choices that work for our families, both financially and spiritually ...

Keeping our holidays simple benefits not only our hearts but our budgets!

So my question for you all today is this: 

How do you plan for holiday spending? And how do you keep your holiday budget in line?


If you have a moment or two, I'd love to hear your thougts on this subject. I'm planning several posts on holiday planning for later this month, so I hope you'll check in when you can.

Have a great day, my friends!