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November 2012
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December 2012

Holiday Break

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas! Ours was very nice, but as usual, it flew right by!

I wanted to let you all know that I am going to "close up shop" for a bit so I can concentrate on home and family ... but I'll be back in a week or so. :)

Take care of yourselves and your loved ones ...

See you here again very soon!

Holiday Greetings!

Of all kinds, shapes and sizes ...

Christmas card wall 3

One of my favorite parts of Christmas is receiving all those wonderful holiday cards. Hearing from family and friends - and seeing how the kids are all growing! - is such a joy. I try to find a fun way to display the cards every year, so that we can keep these beautiful greetings in "heart & mind" every day. This year I just used Earlybird's cork board wall and clear pushpins, and when I ran out of cork I just used bits of tape to hold up the "overflow" (but don't tell Bill, lol).

What do you do with your Christmas cards? Do you display them in some way? How do you store them when the holidays are over? I have a big tin in which I keep our Christmas greetings from year to year, but I was thinking it might be nice to make up little albums for each year's cards, photos and notes ...

A nice winter project, perhaps?


Enjoy the rest of your weekend, my friends ... I will try to stop in one more time before Christmas!

Holiday Blessings to you and yours ...


Happy Winter Solstice!

Winter solstice

At 6:12 this morning, Autumn gave its final bow and Winter settled in for good. And yes, I was awake to "see" it happen (the Solstice that is), but since it's dark at that time of day, AND rainy this morning to boot, there was not much to see. That picture above was taken a couple of years ago after a proper snowfall. (We haven't had one of those yet this year. According to the forecast, maybe next week.)

So, plans for the day?

Well, per family tradition, the boys woke to the smell of "Solstice Rolls" for breakfast ...

Solstice rolls

NOT homemade this year, just a can of Pilsbury - but hey, the sentiment's there! One of these years I'll make homemade yeast rolls filled with fragrant fruits and earthy spices ... but this would not be that year. ;) 

I also lit the Solstice lanterns:

Solstice lanterns

The older boys made these lanterns many years ago, when EB was but a baby! We attended a Solstice party thrown by homeschooling friends, and this was one of the projects for the kids. The night before, the family had filled old soup cans with water and then let them freeze - the kids then punched holes along the sides using hammers and nails. (Adult supervision and assistance was required, of course.) When the ice melted, a "starry" lantern was left behind. We light these every year on the Winter Solstice, in honor of the returning light and in fond remembrance of our friends.

Later today, we'll make some suet treats for the birds - though perhaps not as elaborately as this post describes! (Simple is my motto this year!) I picked up some suet at the market yesterday and I have some mixed fruits, nuts and seed on hand. Suet's not always easy to find, but if you ask your butcher I'm sure he'll be able to provide you with some.

And while the rain pounds and the wind roars, there will be good books to read - see my "Winter Basket" at left - and we'll also work on our Snowflakes for Sandy Hook ... I've got paper plates, glitter, and glue set aside for that craft. :)

For dinner, we'll have our traditional Solstice supper ~ a potato-topped cottage pie, crusty rolls, small salads (for the picky eaters) and a lemon sun cake for dessert.

(And one of these years I'll make this very cool bread wreath, but - again - this will not be that year!)

Oh, and we'll have some hot spiced cider, of course! Our own "family wassail."


Dear readers, how do you feel about this season? I myself love Winter - "O king of fireside enjoyments and homebound happiness" - though I admit I find myself eager for Spring come the first of March! What kind of Winter do you have where you live? New England Winters are usually snowy and cold, though last year was quite the anomaly - aside from a freak Halloween storm, we had no snow to speak of!

Well my friends, I'd best be off - I've a busy day ahead and my boys are all up now.  (Tucking right into those rolls, of course!) Thank you for your visit and your kind words about my new "look" here at the old blog ... I'm still tweaking, but I'm liking the change so far. :)

So Happy Friday and Bonne Hiver! 

See you all here again soon ...


Snowflakes for Sandy Hook ...

A friend of mine shared this on Facebook and I wanted to pass it along to my readers:

Newtown snowflake project
What a wonderful and meaningful project. A perfect craft for the Winter Solstice tomorrow ~ creating snowflakes for the Sandy Hook children. Earlybird does not know about the tragedy, but he certainly knows what it means to make something special for someone who needs it. :)

Blessings to you all on this last day of Autumn ... 

~ Dawn

Just a thought ...


"Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle."

~ J.M. Barrie

Anger only fuels more anger - while Kindness breeds tolerance and respect. Everyone is so quick to judge and feel slighted these days, but maybe if we all showed a little more compassion - even in the smallest, most (seemingly) insignificant moments - there would eventually be less conflict in the world.

When tragedy rocks us, we look for the big answers, but maybe we need to start small?

World peace is a noble ambition, but the power of peace is within each of us. If we can find it within ourselves, why not share it and spread it around?

Weekly Bits of Domestic Bliss

VH nest 1
Of Note

Winter Solstice (21st), Fourth Sunday in Advent (23rd)


Alas, it's looking more and more like a green Christmas. After a chilly, rainy start the week, we may see some flurries over week's end.

The Solstice brings the shortest day of the year. We'll make time to watch (and record) the sunrise and sunset. We'll also make some homemade nutty-fruity treats for the birds & squirrels.


Finalize Christmas Eve/Day menus.

Order ham.

Major fridge clean-out.

Party food/libations shopping over weekend. 

Last batch of Christmas cards mailed out.

Write out checklist for pre-Christmas cleaning.

Organize Christmas outfits.

Christmas Baking later this week!

Last minute online orders.

Dinner Menus:

M - baked ziti, leftover meatballs (from EB's party), salad, toasted rolls

T - squash soup & grilled cheese/turkey panini (leftover deli from EB's party)

W - grilled chicken tenders, rice, roasted vegetables (leftovers make great wraps for lunch the next day)

T - homemade pizzas, tossed salads

F - Solstice Supper: beef cottage pie, solstice bread, spiced cider, lemon "sun" cake

S - *leftovers a la Daddy*

S - turkey meatloaf, mashed potatoes, green beans, corn muffins, cranberry sauce

Dear Baby ...

(17 Weeks)

You are a very active baby, my little one! I'm feeling lots of movement every day - little pops and twirls. Daddy and I were watching a documentary on The Beatles and you seemed particularly rambunctious! So much so that Daddy could feel you from the outside!

Mama has some labwork this week and we're praying everything is OK.

Learning Themes:

The Winter Solstice

"Animals of Christmas" continued - donkeys!

Excited About ~ Working On:

Watching Christmas specials with the kids, when it gets dark in the mid-afternoons. I love it when the house is lit only by Christmas lights.

Beginning my Winter Journal ... brainstorming homey, cozy thoughts for January and February. :)

Choosing/organizing a new 2013 calendar.

Making time for a Christmas "Tuesday Tea" this week, whether it's Tuesday or not.


My heart is so heavy this morning, so full of sorrow over the tragedy in Sandy Hook. Praying for those dear little souls, such beautiful children ... I can think no further on it, nothing makes sense and it's all too terrible to process. Just feeling very protective of my own children and praying for all those involved, especially the families of those lost.

Angel ornament

Well my friends, I hope your week's going well ... thanks so much for stopping by today. I know we're all busy, especially as we enter this last week before Christmas, so posting will be slow for me ... but please know I am always thinking of you all and keeping you in my prayers.

And have yourselves a merry little Monday ...


Wordless Wednesday (Well, Nearly)



Digging for ornaments ...


Earlybird was a huge help decorating the tree this week! I let him "have at it" and then just adjusted a few "ornament clumps."

(Friends and family, please note the fresh "Christmas buzz" haircut!)


Clearly, this ornament is meant for me. ;)


As suspected, the cats are having a ball with the tree again this year. They enjoy sleeping beneath it, chasing each other around it, and pawing the lower ornaments off it when nobody's looking. Or when somebody is ... they honestly have no shame.


A new ornament this year - so pretty.


Well, good morning, my friends!

I haven't been here in a few days, but that's only because things have been busy and I'm fighting a little cold. But I hope your week is going well! I will post here again just as soon as I can.

Happy 12*12*12!

From My Advent Notebook (Week 2)

Vh advent angel{Notes for December 10th ~ the 16th}

        * At CCD and at home, read The Lady of Guadalupe in honor of Saint Juan Diego (feast day 12/9), and light our lovely OLoG candle.

* Wish our neighbors a Happy Hanukkah this week. :)

* Attend a homeschool field trip to see A Christmas Carol, a wonderful local musical. Enjoy a little "Dickens feast" for supper that night (roast beef, potatoes & roots, Yorkshire puddings, and mini mince pies). Listen to Inside Fezziwig's, a wonderful collection of merry olde Christmas music.

* Celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe (12/12) with a poinsettia ornament project, cinnamon-sugar tortilla stars served with fresh pineapple salsa, and soft chicken tacos for supper. This is also National Poinsettia Day so we'll read The Legend of the Poinsettia today.

* The lovely feast of light, St. Lucia Day (12/13) is a favorite in our home. We always have a scented (and candle-lit) breakfast bread on this morning - something homemade with citrus and cranberries or simply some refrigerated orange-cinnamon rolls if the day is busy. A few special books are placed about (Lucia and the Light, Christmas in Noisy Village, The Tomten) while our wee star boys will be on display ... and for supper there will be Swedish meatballs over noodles and hot (child-friendly) glogg!

* Earlybird's 11th birthday arrives! How can this little boy be 11 already? We'll have Daddy's "flying flapjacks" for breakfast, and he'll get to choose supper (most likely, Dominos pizza, lol). There will be cupcakes with friends mid-week and a family party over the weekend. His birthday theme this year is "The Winter Woods" :)

* If we can swing it, schedule-wise, we'll be seeing The Hobbit at our earliest convenience. The boys (and I) are ridiculously excited to see one of our favorite novels brought to life!

* And there's Gaudete Sunday to close out the week ~ which means we light the pink candle! A little party for my CCD class. Las Posadas begin on this night ... another favorite book to read aloud!


Our Tree, stage one (lights only so far) ... :)

Tree lights 1

Looking forward to a quiet, mostly-homey week ... Are we halfway to Christmas already?

Have a lovely Sunday, my friends!


And Speaking of Giveaways ...

My friend Charlotte alerted me to this absolutely adorable giveaway just now and I wanted to share it with you all here. And not just because it will enter my name in the giveaway (wink!), but because these things are so darn cute you really all must take a peek ...

Hosted by Jessica Thornton @ HousewifespiceA Diaper Cake $25 Gift Card Giveaway!

These cute little confections are created by ediapercakes, a home-based business, and how brillant! I've never seen these before, but of course, I've been out of the baby loop for some time. ;)

Which cake is your favorite?

Sunshine cake

I'm quite partial to the "You are My Sunshine Cake" myself. :)

The winner of the giveaway will be announced at Jessica's site next Friday, December 14th. Which happens to be my Earlybird's birthday, so I consider that a very lucky day.

* Whoever wins the $25 gift certificate will be lucky indeed! *

And you know, this makes me wonder ... I've been chatting up my pregnancy here for a few months now, but I'd love to know how many of my readers are pregnant as well, and if so, when are you due? It seems from the buzz I hear, here and there around the internet, there are plenty of us pregnant this year!


Well, my friends, I must be off. Apparently there are hungry mouths to feed and that means I'd best get off this couch! But I hope you all have a nice weekend, and thanks so much for stopping by ...

I'll see you here again very soon!


Christmas Candle Winner!


Well that was so much fun! I loved reading through all your comments, and many of you brought up scents I hadn't thought of right away. For instance, as much as I love evergreen, I too love the smell of citrus combined with cranberry with maybe a little spice on top. Kind of like my homemade cranberry relish, or the lemon-spice bread I sometimes make for the Solstice. All of those smells bring home Christmas for me. :)

But now, for the point of my post! And without further ado, the winner of the Peppermint Bark candle is ...

 - {drumroll please} -

Nicole, from My Life in the Mensroom!

(Isn't that a great name for a blog?)

And Nicole's answer to my question was ...

"Gingerbread, cinnamon and cranberries. I love baking so usually our home smells really nice during the holidays!"

I love to bake, also - especially at the holidays - and nothing smells better than a busy baker's kitchen!

(Hmm ... that might be the subject of a future post ...)

So CONGRATULATIONS, NICOLE! I will be in touch soon to arrange mailing details.


In the meantime, I thank all my readers for taking the time to participate in our giveaway. And I'm sorry it took me all day to get this post up ... it's been a busy one, that's for sure. I had an appointment with the midwife early this morning (all's well ~ tests next week) and then Crackerjack had book group after lunch. (This month's title, The Hobbit.) So that was just enough "extra bustle" to put me a wee bit behind. ;)

Well, I hope you all have a lovely weekend ... hopefully I'll have some tree pictures to show you by the end of it ... So take care of yourselves and your loved ones, and I'll see you here again very soon!


Scents of the Season & a Candle Giveaway!

Yankee candle giveaway 2

Don't you just love Yankee Candles? :)

Well, Crackerjack bought the above candle for a Secret Santa gift - cute, right? - and wouldn't you know it, but there was a special that day at the Hallmark store: "buy one get one free." So CJ gave me permission to "raffle" off the extra candle at my blog!

Now, to enter our giveaway contest, please answer the following question:

What is your favorite Christmas (or winter holiday) scent? And how do you work that particular scent into your season?

As for me well, I'm not sure I can pick just one! I love peppermint and gingery spices, but perhaps my favorite of all the lovely holiday scents is the fresh smell of evergreen ... and my favorite way to experience it is in the form of a Christmas tree!

We tried a fake tree for a few years (for allergies and cat reasons) but I truly missed that wonderful evergreen scent. There's just nothing like it at Christmas. :)

By the way, Crackerjack's favorite Christmas scent is "eggnog," while Bookworm's is "gingerbread" ... and Earlybird's is very simply, "cookies!" And I bet you can guess the way they all like to experience those kinds of smells. ;)

So how about you? What scent makes the season for you?

On Friday morning afternoon we will (randomly) choose a name from the comments and announce the winner here at my blog ...

So good luck, my friends! I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the "scents of the season" and as always, I wish you a happy day!


Weekly Bits of Domestic Bliss

VH nest 1
Of Note

Jury Duty (3rd), National Cookie Day (4th), St. Barbara (4th), St. Nicholas (6th), The Feast of The Immaculate Conception (8th), Second Sunday in Advent (9th), National Pastry Day (9th)


Mild for December! In the 50s most of the week, but rain coming this weekend.

At tree farm, notice different kinds of evergreens. (Bring a field guide?)

Sketch branch of our tree for nature journal.


Clean out medicine chest. Replace outdated items.

Clean out china cupboard. Dust and polish woodwork, wash Christmas china and set up display.

Work on Christmas Eve/Day menus.

Decorate tree!

Repair tree skirt.

Prepare Christmas cards for mailing.

Dinner Menus:

M - Chinese takeout :)

T - grilled beef & cheese panini with carmelized onions, steak fries

W - baked ziti, sauteed Italian veggies, garlic breadsticks

T - breaded/baked chicken tenders, homemade cranberry relish, roasted potatoes

F - homemade pizza night, salad

S - *leftovers a la Daddy*

S - sweet potato-sausage-kale soup, parsnip-onion tarte tatin, Mexican cocoa

Desserts: vanilla cookies, gingerbread snack cake, sorbet

Dear Baby ...

(15 Weeks)

We've started to think about names, but if/when we find out your gender later this month we will get more serious about that. ;)

Mama has some tests this week - praying all is well!

Learning Themes:

"Animals of Christmas" continued (birds).

Where is Winter? Crazy climate!

Read: The Lady of Guadalupe. Discuss example of Juan Diego.

Excited About ~ Working On:

My "Advent Peace" basket - I keep it tucked beside my couch corner. In it I have: my seasonal prayer journal, my Magnificat Companion, my comfort reading, and a few special dvd's.

I am loving Thomas's Cranberry Swirl toasting bread! I buy this every year ... and it's so delicious with a little butter. Tastes just like Christmas breakfast to me!

Can't wait to meet my brother's new cat, Martini  - he adopted her over the weekend.

So happy to learn Princess Kate is pregnant! Many blessings to the royal couple and prayers all goes smoothly. (And prayers for Kate's sickness relief!)


Doing some serious thinking about how (dis)organized I am. SO many things have fallen through the cracks lately - been forgotten or messed up - I can't even tell you. It's shameful. And when we have a few busy days in a row - as I had this past weekend (all-day mime performances on Saturday, a family party on Sunday, jury duty on Monday) I feel, and fall, so behind. I don't have any answers yet, just know I have to step up, get focused and get a better handle on things.

Thinking about my jury duty experience yesterday ... I was assigned a low number, so, after a brief "once over" by the judge, I was the third juror placed in the box. However, one of the attorneys (my guess is the defense) sent me back to the pool. It was an ugly case, too - the defendant was accused of domestic assault & battery. I felt lucky that, along with the other excused jurors, I was free to go at lunchtime, but I truly felt lucky on a few different levels. The things some families have to go through ... the lives some people are leading ... makes me all the more grateful for the stability and blessings I have in my life.

Sunday is National Pastry Day and I have such fond memories of my dad buying pastries on Sunday mornings after church. My favorites were the lemon danish (and as I recently revelaled these have been a consistent craving through all my pregnancies). I would love to learn how to make pastries someday, but for this Sunday I'll pick up some yummies at our favorite local bakery. :)

Very sad to learn Everyday Food magazine will be going out of print next year. :( This has been my favorite food magazine for years - in fact, I have every issue!


Well my friends, I hope your week's going well ... thanks so much for stopping by today. Have yourselves a Happy Tuesday, and be sure to tune in tomorrow ... I have a little giveaway planned! :)


In Today's Homily ...

Advent candles lit

... our pastor reflected on the season of Advent, and his words really touched me. I'm paraphasing here, because - though my memory is fuzzy these days - I felt funny whipping out my post-it-notes in the middle of Mass. ;)

"As Christians we don't just sit back and wait ... we are not a passive people ... but rather, we get ready and prepare. We actively give of ourselves in Jesus's name. In fact, the famous prayer of St. Francis is a perfect to-do list ..."

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury,pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.


Father went on to talk about the recent photo that made national news, of a NYPD officer giving a pair of boots to a homeless man. I had seen the photo of course, but today, the story behind the photo really moved me to tears. Sure, I'm hormonal but that's a truly beautiful story - and a wonderful example as well.

Advent in action right there.


So Happy Advent, everyone! And Happy New Year, too! In the Catholic Faith, our new liturgical year begins today. Gosh I love those crisp new missals ...

Have a lovely Sunday my friends!