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December 2012

November 2012

Friday Photos & Feast Day Food

On St. Andrew's Day ...

Saint andrew 10

We made a big batch of Scottish shortbread. :)

{Earlybird loved helping - and truth be told, his batch came out best!}

Saint andrew 2

I savored my absolutely favorite British mag - which just arrived today - along with a sweet little board book I ordered for our wee one.

Saint andrew 3

I set up more indoor Christmas lighting, including window candles ...

Window candles

And a new garland along the mantel, but little did I know these tiny "cystal" stars not only change colors - but blink! And quite rapidly!

Crazy star lights

This picture does not capture the frenzy at all, but oh my ... they're a bit "carnval" for me, lol, but the boys love them - they said they remind them of Disney. :)

Saint andrew 13

And in honor of St. Andrew, patron saint of Scotland, I had my afternoon cocoa in my grandmother's "Highland Queen" teacup. The shortbread is not a family recipe, but rather, one I found here. Shortbread is my favorite kind of cookie - buttery and a bit plain but oh-so-gooood.

Well, my friends ~ Happy Friday! I hope you all have a lovely weekend. Take care of yourselves and your loved ones, and I'll see you here again very soon!


From My Advent Notebook ...

Vh advent angel 

{Notes for December 2nd ~ the 8th}

        * Set up the children's creche in the learning room.

    * Fill Advent calendar boxes with little messages or treats.

    * Decorate Christmas tree ~ I love natural decorations, and these would be lovely!    

    * Light our first Advent candle ~ Add sprigs of (kitty-safe) greenery gathered on this week's nature walk.

* On St. Barbara's Day (Dec. 4th) ~ Gather bare branches to force in a bucket of water, in hopes they'll bloom by Christmas Day.

    * On St. Nicholas Day (Dec. 6th) ~ Hang candy canes in the tree - one for each boy - with a little note describing something he has done this year of which he should be proud. Also, place a new Christmas book for our collection under the tree.

        * Mail Christmas cards ~ Prepare a plate of cookies for the lovely ladies at the post office. :)

     * Begin "Animals of Christmas" with Earlybird ~ Organize notebook, visit "our" farm, add wooden animals to creche, and read books centering on animals of the manger.

    * Honor the Feast of the Immaculate Conception (Dec. 8th) ~ Make some pure vanilla cookies (I get these aptly named treats at Whole Foods), hang our symbolic ornament on the tree and listen to this song which never fails to move me to tears.

* Set up our Christmas card display ~ Hang felt ribbons along the windowpanes with tiny clothespins attached.


As the first Sunday of Advent approaches, I'm reminding myself that this can be a time of quiet and peace, despite the "hustle and bustle" of the cultural norm. I'm trying to focus on family- and home-centered activities ... less "out and about," more "in and within." I'm also considering our Advent home atmosphere ... the sights, sounds and stimuli that surround us. Being pregnant has added a whole new dimension to the season for me - in the practical and personal sense. I am truly relishing this time of year ... waiting, watching, wondering ... there are some very special weeks just ahead.

Have a lovely weekend, my friends!

Weekly Bits of Domestic Bliss

VH nest 1
Of Note

Mum's birthday (26th), Cyber Monday (26th), A Charlie Brown Christmas on ABC (28th), Full Beaver Moon (28th), Feast of St. Andrew, Patron of Scotland (30th), B&N Educator Discount Day (1st), First Sunday in Advent (2nd)


Quite chilly, in the 40s - mostly sunny. Flurries on Tuesday.

Beautiful bittersweet vines growing alongside the river out back.

Make plans (themes/practical considertations) for winter nature walks.

Watch for the full moon Wednesday night.


Put up Christmas decorations.

Do outdoor lights/decorations.

Begin online Christmas orders.

Organize boys' holiday outfits, haircuts.

Dinner Menus:

M - pesto pasta, crescent rolls (boys' fave), leftover meatballs

T - meatball/tortellini soup, garlic rolls

W - pulled chicken salad wraps, leftover soup

T - taco potatoes (ground turkey), fiesta salads

F - homemade pizza night, raw veggies/dip

S - *takeout*

S - pork roast, potatoes & squash, apple-cheddar muffins

Desserts: Scottish shortbread, oatmeal-fruit cookies, peppermint-brownie sundaes (Sunday Sundaes)

Dear Baby ...

(14 Weeks)

I felt you move for the first time on Thanksgiving morning! Oh my, what a wonderful feeling!

Feeling much less nausea these days! Just a little when I take my prenatal vitamin and sometimes around suppertime.

Keeping to home as much as possible - a quiet schedule helps my energy level!

Earlybird has noticed Mama's belly, but when he asked "What's wrong with your belly?" and I answered, "Well, it's getting kind of big, isn't it?" he simply shrugged and said, "Yeah, wow!" Nothing else, lol.

Learning Themes:

Waiting for Winter

"Animals of Christmas"

Work on using nice language - how we speak matters.

Christmas "food shopping" lists with EB.

Excited About ~ Working On:

A simple, peaceful Advent ~ reducing noise and clutter, both visual and auditory.

Bill set up "Classical Christmas" music for me on my phone - I park it on the kitchen counter with little speakers ... soothing background music for this time of year.


Bring home the tree this weekend!

Address/stamp Christmas cards.

Watch Take Peace: A Corgi Cottage Christmas (on loan from library).

Brainstorm "teacher gifts" with the boys.


Happy Tuesday, my friends! I hope your week is off to a great start! I apologize I am so behind on comment replies ... I will be catching up over the next few days. (I always seem to think I have much more time (and energy) than I actually do!) I truly appreciate the time and thought you put into your messages. :)

Well, have yourselves a good day ... I will see you here again very soon!

Holiday Weekend Photos

Happy Sunday, my friends! I hope you've all had a nice weekend - holiday weekend, if you're American. :)

We had a great Thanksgiving, and I have just a few pictures to share from our holiday. This year, dinner was hosted by my folks ~ and I cannot thank my mum enough for relieving me of all holiday duties this year - she just took it all on and made me take it easy!

Their home looked lovely and the food was delicious and it was so great to spend time with our family and friends.

My mum set several beautiful tables ...

Thanks wknd 8

Thanks wknd 11

Thanks wknd 9

And here's the 20 lb. turkey in all its golden glory!

Thnks wknd 6

These adorable coffee spoons were made by my cousin, Kate ...

Thanks wknd 12

The light was low in the above shot, so here's a better picture:

Thanks wknd 7

I brought a few home. :) Full directions can be found here.


On Friday - a gorgeous fall day here in New England - Bill and I took Earlybird for an afternoon nature walk ...

November walk 6

November walk 8

Running and jumping with Daddy. Dads are so good for those kinds of things.

November walk 2

Ok, here I am with my "little bump."

November walk 1

I'm 14 weeks along and clearly, I've popped. ;)

I have a soft spot for bittersweet ... it grows wild everywhere around here.

Thanks wknd 6


Now today after Mass (celebrating "The Feast of Christ the King, the last Sunday of the liturgical year), we had a little breakfast in honor of my mum whose birthday is tomorrow ...

I made her a simple spice cake ...

Thanks wknd 4

And the boys helped me set up a "breakfast beverage bar."

Thanks wknd 1

We had the usual spread ...

Thanks wknd 3

Nana's "cheesey eggs," bacon and sausages, toast, strudel, fruit/yogurt/granola and roasted onion-potatoes.

(And I'm very happy to report, the cooking smells did not bother me - even the onions and sausages! I'd say that's a good sign, yes?)

Me and my beautiful mum ...

Thanks wknd 5

I'm so grateful to have her in my life. ❤


Well, I hope your weekend went well! We have been organizing our Christmas decorations, inside and out. We usually wait until the first Sunday of Advent to do this, but logistically speaking, this weekend just worked out better. I must say, I adore having the house lit by window candles and strings of Christmas lights - or "fairy lights" as they call them in England. (I just love that!)

And speaking of loving English things, tonight on PBS there is a special called Downton Revisited. Anyone else watching that? IF I can stay awake, I will be. We first have to get through the 8-9 hour watching Once Upon a Time with the boys. So I may have something to say about Downton tomorrow, or I may not. Check my Monday domestic notes post to find out. :)

Ok my friends, I'm going to run along ... I am woefully behind on comments (not to mention email!) so I'll spend the rest of my day catching up. But thanks so much for stopping by! I always appreciate your visits. :) 

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

Wishing you all ...

Peaceful thanks 2

Dear Friends,

I'm counting my blessings today - there are many this year! - and as I do, I remember all my dear readers who have always been so lovely to me. Thank you for visiting me here and encouraging me with every word and kind thought. On this day of sincere gratitude, I wish you all much comfort and joy ...

I'll be taking a little holiday "blog break" for a few days, but will see you all again very soon!


Weekly Bits of Domestic Bliss

VH turkey bounty

Of Note

Thanksgiving Day (22nd), Black Friday (23rd), Small Business Saturday (24th), The Feast of Christ the King (25th), Stir Up Sunday (25th)


A beautiful week is forecast! Sunny skies and milder temps - around 50 degrees which is very nice for New England at this time of year. I really love these days ... the weak sun hovers low in a milky sky ... there's more gray and brown, but that only makes the small bits of autumn color stand out all the more - the deep russet, auburn and gold. Beautiful!

Get a small potted evergreen tree for the deck.

Keep the feeders filled - start our "winter guest book."


Bake apple crisp.

Prepare cranberry-orange relish, artichoke dip and celery dish.

Assess outdoor holiday decorations.

A quick last-minute shop before Thanksgiving.

Order fruitcake ingredients and supplies.

Arrange autumnal flowers in vases.

Have artist-son make a Thanksgiving card for our pastor.

Dinner Menus:

M - baked ziti, leftover chicken, rolls

T - beef fajita wraps with Spanish rice (prepared)

W - homemade pizzas, salad

T - Thanksgiving Dinner!

F - roasted turkey kielbasa & mixed autumn veggies, cornbread

S - *leftovers night*

S - slowcooker soup (veggie) & meat/cheese calzones

Desserts: caramel apple cider, crockpot bread pudding, golden crown cupcakes

Dear Baby ...

13 Weeks today!

According to my books, you are the size of my closed fist this week!

Learning Themes:


Working Together

Excited About ~ Working On:

Seeing our loved ones on Thanksgiving Day!

Thinking about loved ones who can't be with us this year.

Writing out my "Advent Joy" newsletter.

A crown craft for Sunday's feast day.


Though I don't like to rush Christmas, it's practical to urge the boys to get their Lists together around this time. Sometimes they hope for a special item that must be ordered in advance or even be hunted down. :)

This year I'm going to make fruitcakes! I'm researching recipes and ingredients ...

Watch A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving with the boys.

Buy "Batman toys" for the 7 yr-old boys whose "angel tag" we chose from the Giving Tree.

Pay library late fees with "food for fines."


Good afternoon, everyone ~ I hope you're all having a nice Monday! How does your week look so far? Are you busy with holiday preparations or travel? Are you ready for the hustle and bustle to begin?

Well, wherever these days take you - far from home or close to the hearth - I wish you all a happy, healthy and heartwarming week!

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

Crockpot Chicken - Al Fresco!

Crockpot al fresco

Thanks to some great advice from Jen, we are using our crockpot again!

As I've mentioned before (probably more times than necessary), I just cannot stand the smell of cooking right now - particularly meats, veggies and anything breaded or fried. Ugh.

But November nights are perfect for a nice slowcooked supper, and of course half the joy of using your crockpot is how wonderful your house smells as the food cooks! (The other half is how incredibly easy it is to prepare a meal in this way - throw everything in, turn the pot on and you are pretty much done!)

Anyhoo, Jen suggested moving the crockpot outside, and doesn't that make all kinds of sense? :) Jen does this to escape the heat (she lives in Key West, after all), but it would also keep all that "cooking smell" out of the house!

So here we have it, seen above - our trusty crockpot, parked on the deck, just in front of the grill, industriously stewing away ...

Dinner will be ready at 5:30 p.m.


Although, I wonder if the cool outside temperature - high 40s today - will affect the cooking time at all? Any thoughts?

For the record, this is the recipe I'm using - I made it over the summer and it was a HUGE hit with my family. This time I had Bill do the skillet work while I got the peppers and spices ready. This dish makes a lot, and is wonderful served over linguine ... and with crusty garlic bread AND a glass of white wine IF you're not pregnant. ;)


More on the domestic front, we moved around our family room today! And by "we" I mean, Bill and Bookworm moved around our family room, while I sat on my duff and made "helpful" comments. ;)

Family room redo 1

Friends, family and longtime readers will remember our couch was facing away from the windows and the tv was in the opposite corner. But I like this arrangement a lot. It opens up the old TV corner for something else and makes a few cozy zones in an otherwise large-ish room. Plus, "my corner" of the sectional is now directly beneath a birdfeeder window and that will be so nice this winter. :)


Also, in between attending Mass, setting up the crockpot and moving around the family room, I taught CCD today. (Fyi: teaching 4th grade religious ed. is like herding cats on a bicycle - goodness me, how exhausting!) Anyways, we learned all about Advent this week - and boy did it get me excited! (The kids too, I think.) I am having a lot of fun brainstorming my ideas for this Advent season ... it begins just two weeks from today!


Well my friends ... I hope your weekend's been lovely. Have you seen any good movies? Are you watching anything fun on TV tonight? We'll be watching Once Upon a Time of course while recording Oprah's Favorite Things from 8-10 and Boardwalk Empire after that. The trick will be finding the time to watch all this good stuff later this week- and staying awake late enough, too!

That said, I'm off now to nap so I can keep alert for OUaT tonight!

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

My Kids Have Never Had Twinkies ...

... and now they might never have the chance!

Hostess, Maker of Twinkies and Ding Dongs, Says Closing Business


So I'm wondering if I should rush out and buy a box so my kids can at least try this longtime lunch-box treat. (If there are any left on the shelves - apparently they're disappearing fast!) I myself was never partial to Twinkies ... but I was rather fond of those swirly-topped cupcakes ... on occasion. ;)

There is hope it seems, that another company might pick up the trademark (and hopefully the recipe) and continue with the Hostess tradition. But will they still seem the same? Of course, in the event this doesn't happen, there is always the homemade alternative!

Will you miss Twinkies, dear readers? I may not have liked them much, but I'll miss them on principle, I think. Another "slice of Americana" gone by the wayside.


Allrighty, time to wrap up. I think I'll file this one under "Current Events" and "Needs More Coffee to Make Sense." :)

Have a nice Sunday, my friends!


Curriculum Check-In: 8th & 12th Grade

A recent question from Sylvia:

Dear Dawn, I was wondering if you are still homeschooling your two older boys or not any more. Rarely do you mention them and their subjects. Would love to hear about them more.

Sylvia, I am always happy to talk about my older boys! Here's a brief rundown of their studies this year:

Bookworm (grade 12):

*At Home*

Oak Meadow Goverment

Oak Meadow Health & Fitness

Oak Meadow World Literature

SAT Prep

*Outside Classes*

Calculus (evening classes at a community college)

Biology (small homeschooled class taught by a tutor)

Public Speaking (small homeschooled class taught by a tutor)

Photography (small homeschooled class taught by a tutor)

Bookworm is also vounteering at the library once a week, helping neighbors with pet sitting and lawn care, and teaching CCD (with me) twice a month at our church. He made his Confirmation last month and is also currently working on his driver's permit - and his college applications!

Crackerjack (grade 8)

*At Home*

Oak Meadow Civics 8

Oak Meadow English 8

Oak Meadow Physical Science 8

Saxon Math 8/7

Nature Study

Faith @ Home

*Outside Classes*

Middle School Art

Spanish I

Drama Class

Crackerjack performs with his Mime Troupe at area events, helps his older brother with lawn care and pet sitting, and attends his monthly book group when he can (this month they are reading The Hobbit). CJ is also thinking about joining our church's children's choir. (And he's fairly addicted to Minecraft these days, lol!)


As you can see the older boys are quite busy with their studies and activities this year! We have used Oak Meadow curriculum for years, but as they get older we take advantage of the many opportunities in our area for learning experiences outside the home - for example, state colleges offer dual enrollment, and a local homeschool center offers classes of all kinds. I think it's great for the boys to learn how to learn from different teachers, and to work independently, seeking out knowledge on their own. Most importantly, I want them to take responsibility for their studies. I am still in charge of course - with their input, I piece together their curriculum, and they coordinate with me each day over what they are working on and where they have to go.

So there's a look at what and how my older boys are learning this year! It's been a great, albeit super-busy, semester and I'm very happy to see them enjoying their different experiences. I'm also grateful they have been so helpful and understanding these past couple of months as I've had to slow down so much. All of my boys are truly wonderful young men, and it's been such a joy to watch their personalities, interests and opinions develop and mature over time. :)

Well I wish you all a very happy weekend ~ take care of yourselves and your loved ones ~ and I will see you here again very soon.

Friday Felines: Nesting ❤

Archies nest 1

 As Winter grows near, I like to "set the stage" for cold day comfort. One of the ways I do this is to place freshly laundered and neatly folded fleecy blankets someplace in the family room - ideally near the fireplace, and close to favored seating. 

Well, as you can see, Archie is taking advantage of the blankets himself!

Archies nest 2

"You put these here for me, right?"

The fireplace-end of the sectional has been my favorite spot to "nest" lately. I can be close to Earlybird (couch-schooling is all the rage, don't you know?), and I keep a basket of books and mags (for him and me) close at hand. I/we have the tv to watch, as well as the birds at the window feeders ... and should the mood strike - which it often does these days - I can nap at a moment's notice. ;)

Are you feeling the urge to "nest" lately? Where is your favorite place to "hunker down" when the days grow dark, and the weather turns cold?

Hope you're all having a nice day!

How are your planning tools working for you?

Fcs 1

I've not done a planning post in quite some time, but to be honest, planning has not been in the forefront of my mind lately. A busy schedule + a new pregnancy has kept me - well - busy and very tired!

But I have been using my tools in the very simplest sense ... my weekly file folders and my monthly planner, mostly. With the holidays upon us (and a new year soon after that) I am feeling the urge to get a better handle on things ... so I'm looking it all over and seeing what's what. Goodness knows, there are always things to tweak. ;)

So while I'm tweaking (and I'll give you a blow-by-blow later), I was wondering how things are working for you lately. Are you happy with your current planner/planning tools? Are you keeping up with everything or are things slipping through the cracks? Has this semester been smooth or a struggle?

(And are you, like me, seriously distracted by all those shiny new planners at Target?)


Well, I hope your week's going nicely, my friends ... I know posting's been a bit slow for me lately, but that's just where I'm at right now. I've been struggling with this - this need to slow down - but I know this time is brief. And I know when I listen to my body I feel better overall, and I'm sure that's all the better for baby. That said, I'm truly anticipating (hoping for!) a return of energy in a few weeks when I enter my second trimester. :)

So I'm off for now, but please take care of yourselves and your loved ones ...

I'll see you here again very soon!

Weekly Bits of Domestic Bliss

VH nest 1

Of Note

National Indian Pudding Day (13th), America Recycles Day (15th), Boston Archdioscese Pastoral Plan Announcement (15th), Waldorf School Holiday Fair (17th), Homemade Bread Day (17th), Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, Patron Saint of Bakers (17th), Giving Tree up at Church (18th), Oprah's Favorite Things (18th)


Fairly seasonal: milder to start, a showery Tuesday, then sunshine and cooler temps for the balance of the week.

Rake leaves, continue yard cleanup.

Winterize container garden.

Get nuts and suet for feeders.

Construct brush pile "shelter" for winter birds & critters.


Launder bedding ~ change over to flannels.

Sort through winter gear (coats/hats/gloves/boots) and see what needs replacing/donating.

Order Christmas cards and stamps.

Get ingredients for Thanksgiving baking (Whole Foods).

Add Christmas Planning Sheets to Homekeeping Binder.

Dinner Menus:

M - grilled ham/cheese panini & butternut squash soup

T - meatloaf, acorn squash, roasted potatoes, rolls

W - baked ziti & meat(loaf) balls, salad, bread

T - chicken stir fry, rice/wraps

F - takeout

S - leftovers -->calzones/pizzas, veggies/dip

S - crockpot chicken cacciatore, crusty bread

Desserts: oatmeal cookies, fruit turnovers, mulled applesauce

Dear Baby ...

12 Weeks today!

Nausea may be letting up a little, while tiredness is kicking up a notch.

Learning Themes:


Expressing Gratitude

Excited About ~ Working On:

Emma Bridgewater Pottery, especially this adorable mug. :)

Red squirrel mug

Re-reading The Hobbit with Crackerjack.

New project plan: Potting Shed Makeover (Spring 2013)


Thinking about getting a freezer (again/still) because, A. we have space for it downstairs, and, B. with a new baby due next spring, cooking ahead sounds very practical.

Close friends have come down with whooping cough ~ praying for their recovery and cautiously watching my own kids for symptoms. (So far, all clear.)

Must arrange a flu shot with the OB. (Have never had one before, but feel it might be important this year.)

Signing up Crackerjack for the Children's Christmas Choir.


Well, Good Monday morning, my friends!

I thought I'd try posting a weekly version of my daily housekeeping blog. I just have no hope of keeping up with the daily entries at this time, but I thought a weekly post might be do-able. So here's the first one!

I hope your week gets off to a great start ... golden sun and mild air here today - you should hear those birds chirping so sweetly!

Thanks so much for stopping by ... see you here again very soon!

Easy Little Martinmas Lanterns

November 11th is Veteran's Day in America, and Remembrance Day in the UK ... it is also the Feast of St. Martin, or Martinmas, and one of my favorite feasts all year. On this day we often make lanterns of one kind or another -  a small but comforting light to shine through the darkness of a dark November day. Well, this year I needed something super easy - and I also happened to need a "stained glass" craft for my CCD class - and this little project fit both bills!

All you need is about one quiet hour and - for each child - a baby food jar (empty and clean), twine or wire, Mod Podge (or a similar glue) and paintbrush, colorful art tissue and a tealight.

Martinmas lantern 2

First, we brush a thin amount of glue on a side of the jar, and then we stick little bits of tissue onto the surface, smoothing them out so they overlap a little but not so much that edges stick out. We work in small areas so the glue does not dry out. (For very young children, or children with fine motor issues, it's helpful to have the tissue already torn into small bits - some children love to tear it, though!)

Once the jar is covered with tissue, we tie some twine around the neck of the jar, fashioning a handle of sorts. (Thin wire can be used as well - with or without decorative beads.) And in this way, the lantern can be hung (from a tree branch, perhaps) or carried during a short Martinmas walk at dusk.

We use real tealight candles, but a battery-lit version would work just as well and of course, be less of a safety concern. But there's something so lovely about the smell of the candle mingled with the cold November air ...

Until Sunday evening, our lantern will hang in our front window, catching the light of the day and waiting for its moment to shine.

Martinmas lantern 1

I have not yet decided if I will do this craft with my class today. I have the supplies ready, but will have to judge their level of "antsiness," lol, as well as our time limits. I may perhaps save this for a class closer to Christmas.

Other plans for today's feast?

Well, in this week's file folder, I had a crockpot recipe for "Hungarian Goulash" (St. Martin was born in what became Hungary), but I know in my heart there's no way I can put up with a house filled with "stew smell" all day! So instead, we'll have a simple, prepared chicken pie, cranberry sauce, potatoes and soft rolls we can split and share.

Sharing and giving to others is a hallmark of this feast day. According to legend, when Martin was but a young soldier, he came upon a beggar huddled by the side of the road. Taking pity on this poor cold soul, Martin split his heavy cloak in two and shared it with the beggar. That night he had a dream in which Jesus appeared in that very cloak. Martin went on to devote his life to serving God and the less fortunate. He is the patron of (amongst other things) soldiers and the impoverished.

Now, in years past I have made a simple oat cookie baked in the shape of a horseshoe, and I just may do so later today. (I have the butter softening on the counter just in case!) This cookie has to do with the legend mentioned above - Martin was riding a great steed when he came upon the beggar. It's a very simple and tasty cookie (described in this post from 2007) and if anyone would like the recipe please let me know.

And later today I plan to order some new pajamas for the boys ... and we'll do a "winter coat check" and see who needs what. (We'll also put aside any coats we can donate this month.)

The boys will also spend time outside today, helping Bill with the yard - there are leaves to blow and rake and many little branches and sticks to gather and stack. Earlybird and I will work on our brush pile - a little winter shelter for the birds in our yard.

All good honest work to work up good honest appetites!


So my friends, I wish you all a happy Sunday and thank you all for stopping by ... no Call the Midwife tonight, so no "Masterpiece Monday" tomorrow though I may put up a post so we can chat about Once Upon a Time. But we'll see what the morning brings!

Have yourselves a nice day ... see you here again sometime soon!

Tea, Books & a Giveaway Winner!

Thanks to, I have a winner to announce!

Congratulations, Jamie Salvucci!

Jamie, I hope you enjoy these pretty colored pencils. To my mind, they are as lovely to use as they are to display! Thank you very much for taking the time to participate in my giveaway ... I will be in touch soon to arrange mailing details. :)

And thanks to all for leaving your thoughts and expressing your fondness for this beautiful holiday. I so enjoyed reading through your comments ... and I encourage all my readers to check out that thread - talk about a real Turkey Day pep talk! The comments are filled with great ideas and many little joys we might not think about, but relish all the same. (It might be fun to read through the comments with your children, and get them talking about their favorite Thanksgiving things!)

Well my friends, now that it's late in the day and the light's growing dim, how about a cup of tea?

Friday tea

Actually my "tea" this week is not tea at all ... but cocoa! Oddly enough I can't really drink tea these days ... it just doesn't sit right! I can do a little coffee first thing in the morning, but even that has lost its pizazz.

But with cold weather upon us and the days getting dark, I must have something hot to sip on - something warm and soothing to fill my mug and keep my hands warm and spirit soothed. And cocoa - with extra milk so it's not too rich - fits the bill.

(And it helps with the morning sickness, too!)

Behind my mug is a stack of some fun things I looked at today ... my journal (top) and my project notebook (bottom) and in between some lovely children's books ... a few of my Thanksgiving favorites.

My Book of Thanks by B.G. Hennessy (Candlewick Press)

Thanks book 1

This is my favorite gratitude book for children. It's not necessarily a Thanksgiving book, but its message is absolutely beautiful - simply stated and sweetly illustrated.

A Turkey for Thanksgiving by Eve Bunting (Clarion Books)

Thanks book 2

I have loved this book for years! The story is funny, suspenseful and warm, and the illustrations are just charming - infused with the look and feel of late autumn and lots of cozy details. 

Celebrate Thanksgiving with Turkey, Family and Counting Blessings by Deborah Heiligman (National Geographic)

Thanks book 3

Books like these really appeal to my Earlybird - the photos are clear and interesting and the text is straight-forward. The holiday is discussed thoroughly, but in easy prose (bolded vocab and quotations). The pages are busy, but not overdone. We have several of the books in the "Holidays Around the World" series and I especially like how multi-ethnic they are. The holiday experience is so different from region to region and from family to family, and I like for my children to understand that.


Well, I think I've kept  you here long enough! Maybe your day's fading as mine is, or perhaps it's quite late - but wherever you're at, I hope it's been a good one. Ours was quite nice - especially because Bill and I got to hear the baby's heartbeat at my OB appointment today! I'm not sure there's a more precious sound in the whole world, than that of your child's heartbeat ...

I find myself closing my eyes when there's a moment of silence and remembering just what that "wooshing sound" sounded like:

Wush-ush-ush-ush-ush ....

Have a wonderful weekend, my friends ... see you here again very soon!

A Happy Little Giveaway!

Good Thursday morning, my friends!

I was shopping at TJ Maxx last weekend - I simply went in for socks, but came out with a new coat for Bookworm, a new bag for me, several Christmas gifts (yay!) and this neat little set of colored "bark" pencils ...

Bark pencils 1

These sets were so reasonably priced, I couldn't resist buying several for a bunch of little people on my List, and it just so happened I came home with one extra package ...

So I'd like to offer it as a giveaway!

All I ask, is you answer the following question in a comment below, and I'll enter your name in the giveaway. On Friday I'll draw a name and announce a winner!

So ... my question for you today is this:

"What's your favorite thing about Thanksgiving?"

(And there can be more than one!)

My answers:

I love that it's a day we Americans all share, whatever our faith may be. 

I love that there's nothing commerical about it - our sole purpose is to gather with loved ones and be thankful for what we have.

I love planning the menu with my mum.

I love watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

I love big football mums.

I love leftovers the next day.

I love Thanksgiving colors: russett, gray, auburn and gold.

And I LOVE it when we see a few flakes of snow at the end of the day!

VH turkey bounty
Well my friends, I wish you luck in this giveaway! And as I said, I will draw a winning name tomorrow afternoon - roundabouts teatime - so please stay tuned! :)

Have yourselves a good day - it's windy and snowy here, as best I can tell - its still dark out there as I wrap up this post!

Thanks so much for stopping by ... see you here again very soon!

Autumn's Last Roses

Roses in snow 2

We've just returned from the library - driving through snow of all things! So beautiful, how the tiny flakes mingled with falling leaves on this dark and windy day. Also beautiful - and quite surprising! - were these brilliant pink roses still in bloom, just outside the library itself. Just a tiny cluster, at the top of a thorny, hip-laden bush. How many people stopped and noticed them I wonder?

Well, I'm sure you're not surprised I simply had to get out and take a picture. :) And in another part of this bush (not shown in my picture) ... sat one solitary, plump-breasted robin. How very dear! He let me get close and chat with him a moment ... but he just would not sit still for a photo!

That's ok, though - it was enough just to see him - for I'll carry this happy little moment in my heart until Spring.

Enjoy the rest of your Wednesday, my friends ... I'll see you here again very soon!

Baking again ... :)

Election cake

I believe by historic tradition, an Election Cake is made with yeast and nuts and raisins ... and something like, 10 pounds of butter, lol ... but we just went with chocolate. I figured the flags lent the right patriotic touch. :)

I'm thrilled to be baking again, but "cooking's" still out ... if there is food in the oven - especially things like fish, chicken nuggets, french fries and the like - I am outta there. Windows must be opened, ceiling fans turned on, and I must wait for things to air out before I can re-emerge from my "safe zone." Still, I think things might be getting a little better overall. I still grapple with everday nausea and odd cravings/aversions but I seem to be getting hungry again and I read that's a sign your morning sickness might be easing. I like the sound of that. :)

And by the way, I'm 11 weeks and 2 days, today.

So today being Wednesday ("kitchen day" per my weekly routine), I will be working on a shopping list for my holiday pantry. About this time of year I like to take stock of my baking supplies and replenish what I need well before the holiday season begins. And since Thanksgiving is just two weeks from tomorrow, I'd best get my act together!

I will post more on my "holiday planning" very soon! I'm just getting things pulled together right now - checklists, brainstorming, catalogs, inspiration, etc. - but there's a brand new holiday basket now nestled at the foot of my reading chair. :)

It always feels rather sudden does it not - that day in the fall when the holidays are suddenly "just around the corner?" Time flies so quickly ... and I don't want to rush ... but I do find myself eager to start feathering our "holiday nest!"

VH nest 1

Have a good Wednesday, my friends ... I will see you here again very soon!