Previous month:
August 2013
Next month:
October 2013

September 2013

Monday Bits-n-Bobs (+ a few leftover from the weekend)

Happy Monday, my friends!

I hope you all had a nice weekend. I have a whole bunch of notes and pictures to share this evening, things I "jotted" down while I could ... :)

* Bought our spring-flowering bulbs at the nursery Saturday morning. Hope to get them in the ground sometime this week (but more likely next weekend).

Bulbs 1

* On Sunday I made an apple-blackberry crisp in honor of Michaelmas ...

Apple blackberry crisp 1

As legend goes, when St. Michael threw the devil out of Heaven, he landed in a blackberry bush, and so, those fruits are cursed (i.e. no good for eating) after Michaelmas Day. I love to serve blackberries in some form around - but not after! - this feast.

Apple blackberry crisp 2

This recipe was new, but proved to be a keeper for sure!

(Note: I used Macintosh apples, not Granny Smith as did the author.)

* Ok, another gratuitous Little Bear pic ... 

Owen trouble 1

Here comes trouble, indeed! ;)

* Did you hear that HRH Prince George (Kate and Will's little one) will be christened on October 23rd? What a special day that will be for the royal family - and for England as a nation. Fun to watch for the rest of us, too! (It happens to be a special day for Bill and me as well - it's our 20th wedding anniversary!)

* Our priest's homily on Sunday was so beautiful, it moved me to tears. Half of it has already leaked out of my brain, but I know the message was to A. appreciate the small things (slow down and see them) and to B. see Jesus in everyone and allow that to lead us to do good works. I'm wildly paraphrasing but nothing beats a really good homily to inspire your week. :)

* So apparently it was National Coffee Day yesterday, and how on earth did I not know this? Well, I have marked it down in my calendar for next year. (And yes I do have a 2014 calendar already!)

* In each of the houses we've lived (there have been four), I gather together a mini "acorn family" made up of acorns found in the yard. I keep them on the nature table, sometimes on display, sometimes tucked in a treasure jar. Well now we have our new little family for this house - complete with one extra acorn this time!

Acorn family

* One last thing: Don't forget Rabbit-Rabbit tomorrow!


Enjoy your evening, my friends ... see you all again sometime soon!

My Autumn Giveaway Winner!

Good Monday morning afternoon, my friends!

Sorry to be so late with this post ... Little Bear had his 4-month check-up very early this morning and the in-and-out, out-and-about has set me back a bit today! (He did very well, though!)

Here's a quick picture, taken before the shots ...

Owen @ checkup


So! I'm very happy to announce the winner of my Autumn giveaway:

Kara has won my extra copy of Fall!!!

Her "baby days" comment was so lovely ...

My favorite baby pastime, strange as it may seem, is walking around the house (or rocking, depending on the babe) - those sways, dips, bobs that make up the "mama dance" in the early mornings and sometimes late at night. The house is quiet, baby is getting ready to (hopefully) rest and it is so nice, so sweet to have that time, to cuddle, to gently dance together. I'll miss it <3

Not strange at all, Kara - I know just what you mean! There is nothing quite so satisfyingly sweet as walking about our home with our babe in our arms. I find this time around with Little Bear I am savoring so much more, aware of just how fleeting these days - moments! - truly are. Just holding him close - he's too little to fidget down from my arms - is precious. We have our little stops around the house as we walk - the mirror, the window, the bookcase with all its little displays. Right now as I type I have him in the Baby Bjorn and his warmth and weight feels so good. :) 

So thank you Kara - thank you ALL - for taking the time to share your thoughts with me. I enjoyed reading about all your own baby loves and memories. And Kara, I will be in touch soon to arrange mailing details ~ I hope you enjoy your copy of Fall as much as we have!

Take care everyone, and enjoy this beautiful Monday ... I have a Bits-n-Bobs post coming later today!


Friday Bits-n-Bobs

So yesterday may have been a day for apples but I made use of another autumnal orchard fruit instead ~  a couple of pounds of ripe and juicy Bartlett pears! I baked two dozen pear muffins with the pearsauce I'd made earlier in the week.

Pear muffins 1

And oh my goodness! I had one (maybe three) of these in the afternoon, with a cup of decaffeinated English Teatime, while sitting by an open window soaking in the fresh air and warm autumn sunshine ... just glorious!

(I've also got apples aplenty to use up - a whole bunch of Macs we bought at a favorite farm a couple of weeks ago ... I'll make them into a cobbler for Bookworm who'll be home from college this weekend.)

* And for supper last night I made a pan of ziti and a pan of baked chicken using up some spinach dip and whole grain bread crumbs ... along with a pan of roasted "early autumn" vegetables: squash, sweet peppers, onions, carrots, potatoes ...

  Potatoes 1

Now, a quick disclaimer - I don't want anyone to think I'm cooking like this every day. Hardly. I'm still trying to get into some routines here with a new(ish) baby and a new(ish) home. I'm just so tickled I did all that cooking yesterday I wanted to share it!

* Speaking of baking though, I must rave again about the King Arthur Flour Baking Sheet. If you enjoy baking - particularly seasonal baking - this newsletter is a must. Well, apparently I forgot to change my address when we moved so when I realized I missed the Autumn issue, I called to remedy the error ... and two days later I had my new copy! Wonderful customer service from KAF.

* Now, on Wednesday you know how I told you all about the little mouse we found (or rather the cats found) in our dining room? Well yesterday morning we had another interesting nature sighting ... this gorgeous Barred Owl!

Owl 3

I was upstairs in the bedroom with Little Bear when I first spotted the owl in the trees near the edge of our property. I promptly got myself outside (and the baby in a bouncy seat where Crackerjack could watch him) and took a few snaps. The owl immediately zeroed in on me so I only had the chance to take a couple of passable shots. He then turned his back on me ...

Owl 2

And just flew off into the woods. What a wingspan! He was enormous.

* Oh, and the Michaelmas daisies! Have you seen any where you live? Around here they are abundant along the roadsides. Apt timing of course, seeing as how Sunday is Michaelmas Day ...

Michaelmas daisies 1

Love that pale purple, so pretty against the goldenrod which is also all over the place. One thing I love about this time of year is how we have fall foliage starting - there are hints of red and gold in the treescape - but we still have the bright beauty of September's last roses and dahlias and hydrangeas and such. The best of both worlds ... nature's last lively dance!


Well that's all that's new from me today ... thanks so much for joining me this week as I ease my way back into regular blogging ... have yourselves a GREAT weekend, and I will see you all again sometime soon!


Baby Days & an Autumn Giveaway!

Owen 4 months

Today our Little Bear is four months old!

When I think that at this time last year I was newly pregnant (and yet, still unaware) I am reminded how quickly time passes. I would never have thought that the following September we would be so very, very blessed!

So to celebrate today I have a little giveaway to share ... I was setting up our Autumn books display and came across a duplicate of one of my favorites: Fall (part of the Four Seasons Series). It is such a beautiful paperback - published in English (but written by a Spanish author) it has a "European feel" to the description of seasonal enjoyments. The text is simple and sweet and the illustrations are just gorgeous - like watercolor paintings capturing all the best moods of the season.

Fall book

Anyhoo, clearly I love this book! So I'd like to offer my extra copy to one of my readers, and to do so I will ask anyone interested to leave a comment below and I'll draw a name on Monday morning.

My question for the giveaway is this:

What is/was your favorite baby pastime? What game or activity do/did you particularly enjoy sharing with your wee ones?

Currently Little Bear enjoys tummy play (as above), mirrors, music, board books and "itsy bitsy spider." As much as I wish to slow down time, it is fun to see how he changes and matures as the weeks go by. How new things click and familiar things just light him up. These are such special days, my friends!

So leave me a comment if you'd like and I'll add your name to the book drawing. (If you want to comment but are not interested in the book, just let me know.) On Monday I'll announce the lucky reader who'll be sent this sweet book!

Have a great Thursday, everyone ... see you here again sometime soon!


Wednesday Bits-n-Bobs

And here I was thinking it might be a slow news day, but then we had ourselves a little morning adventure: our first mouse in the new house!

Mouse 1

All I can think of is Ratatouille when I look at this picture, lol.

Archie and Ollie were skulking around in the dining room all morning, but I wasn't really paying much attention ... after tripping over a cat for the third or fourth time though, it started to sink in that something was up. They were really stuck in this one place, and they were focusing intently on something behind the china cupboard, so I mentioned to the boys that they must sense a mouse in the wall. But as it turned out, they more than sensed it - they had that little critter trapped against the wall!

So after an appropriate amount of screaming (by me) and scrambling about (by us all) we managed to get the cats out of the room and trap the tiny mouse in a tupperware container.

Mouse 3

He was awfully cute I must admit.

Now, as it happened, Bill was working from home today, but taking a call outside, he was completely oblivious to the commotion inside. Once I had the mouse in the container I trotted him right outside (took pictures, natch) and turned him over to my husband - who, as I understand, deposited the creature in the woods out front. (Of course, I'm sure he'll just find his way back in!)

You know, in the 20+ years we've had cats not one of them has ever caught a mouse. I'm not sure if that says more about my cats or my housekeeping, but I think this move "up country" will be very entertaining for Archie and Ollie. I'm sure this won't be the last mousie to find his way inside as Winter's chill seeps into town!


Well, I thought I might have one or two other things to mention to you today, but that's all I've got for now. Actually, that's all Little Bear's giving me time for right now ... as I finish this up he's getting rather impatient in the baby swing next to me! 

More to come tomorrow, my friends ... have yourselves a good night!


Tuesday Bits-n-Bobs

* Walked down to get the paper and haul in trash/recycling bins with Crackerjack this morning (and Little Bear in the carrier) - what a crisp beautiful morning! We first spied a woolly bear on the driveway and promptly moved him aside so Dad wouldn't squish him on his way out to work! What's that old proverb about woolly bears and winter weather? We have tons of them around here!

* We also spotted more deer - three of them leapt out of our front yard and crossed the street into the woods. Beautiful!

* And finally, we heard geese overhead - our first geese honking at the new house! What a lovely sound, especially at this time of year.

* Neat bit of trivia ~ On the back of my oatmeal packet I read: "What device measures the speed or force of the wind?" The answer: anenometer, a word which was not immediately familiar, but which made me think of "Anenomes" which are also, and aptly, named "wind flowers.

* Speaking of oats, I'm trying to eat some every day as I read that they are good for lactation. I'm thinking oatmeal-raisin cookies are next!

* It was a big day for our family - we got our new library cards! I can hardly wait to dig into the new system. The library is old fashioned and lovely (though a new one is in the works) and the librarian is very friendly ... and apparently quite good at reading people. She had us pegged as homeschoolers straight away! Lol. Crackerjack also volunteered to help out once a week, picking up the community service baton set down by our Bookworm.

* Last bit (or bob?) for today ... a picture Bill took of Little Bear and myself a few weeks ago in front of the house. A little glimpse at our front door, and a rather disheveled "new"mama!

Owen and mama by the front door

The blue feet, yeah. Those are my beloved slipper socks. :)

Have a great night, my friends! 

Monday Bits-n-Bobs

Just sharing some thoughts from my day ... :)

* Walking around the yard yesterday with Little Bear, we encountered a beautiful fawn. All speckled and a little bigger than the ones we saw over the summer, this one was all alone. She just looked at us while I cooed her and told LB what we were looking at ... the fawn just flicked her fluffy white tail and walked peacefully into the woods. Such a moment ...

* Spotted this creature (a praying mantis, I believe) on our way back in from getting the mail today - he was GINORMOUS. I'd guess 6 inches or so? Positively prehistoric. ;) It took some cajoling to get Earlybird to walk by him back into the house! (He was clinging to the front door frame - the bug, not EB!)

Praying mantis 1

* And this Thursday is Johnny Appleseed's birthday which means some humble apple cake, fresh apple slices and warm cider for snack. A few favorite books and this old Disney movie that Earlybird loves. 


Happy Autumn!

Today is the first day of Fall - hooray! :)

Fall is a great time for visiting outdoor festivals and fairs, and yesterday we did just that ... and just look who came home with a brand new (adorable, autumnal) hat!

Owens new hat 2

(the back)

Owens new hat 1

I have so many things I could say about Autumn - so many ideas and plans I'm excited about - but for now here's a link to my Autumn archive. There are several years' worth of Autumn love to be found there ...

Enjoy your Sunday, my friends!


Ladies Who Lunch

You know those eggs I showed you on Monday? Well yesterday the beautiful free range hens who laid those very eggs jumped the fence and spent lunchtime ambling about our backyard. We were at the breakast nook, Mum and I, when she spotted them.

How fun - and picturesque!

Chickens in yard 1

Chickens in yard 5

Chickens in yard 2

Chickens in yard 3

Chickens in yard 4

And this gives you a closer look at our backyard. I will have to do a full tour sometime in the near future. This shot is directly behind our house and you can see the edge of the brick patio. We have about 2 acres in all ...

The fence in the back of the pictures frames a pen once used for a horse by the original owners. There is a very old (dilapidated) shed there too, which we plan to renovate and make into a proper potting shed. And perhaps one day (in a year or two once Little Bear's a bit older) ...

We'll see about getting chickens of our own.


Enjoy your Wednesday, my friends!

Our First Week: A Bit of a Bust!

Yes, to be perfectly honest, our first week was pretty much a flop, lol.

In all the years we've been homeschooling we've never had a new year get derailed so early on ... but that's just what happened. After that first semi-successful day (see brownies post below), the rest of us came down with the cold virus brought home by Bookworm. (And by cold "virus" I mean, feverish congestion, sore throats and coughing.)

Even dear Little Bear got sick ~ which is a scary thing for such a young baby particularly when high fevers are involved. :(

So ... Crackerjack missed all his first week classes (he's taking Biology, Art and American History outside the home) and aside from a few light assignments and missed homework he just tried to rest and get better.

I asked nothing of EB after Wednesday, and once LB and I got sick on Thursday, I just called the week done.

Now, the good news is - we're all feeling much better! And since I have not much else to report I will share some pictures with you all this morning. Just some shots I took early last week before it all went to pot. ;)

First week 8

Our homeschool motto on proud display in the breakfast nook.

Which is where we'll do our seatwork ...

First week 10

(And where I'm typing up this post at this very moment!)

First week 1

A brand new planner I purchased at Amazon - lots of squares to fill in! I no longer need to plan lessons for Bookworm of course, but I am making notes of things to do with Little Bear. Little fingerplays and folk songs and such. :)

First week 9

And this lovely journal is for recording what actually got done (our live/love/learn experiences) ...

First week 2

Autumn leaf window clings are a must every year ...

First week 7

I drank a lot of tea last week!

Fresh eggs 1

The other day we found a dozen fresh eggs in our mailbox - a gift from our neighbors who raise free-range chickens! They are so lovely (inside and out) and now we've kicked off a mini unit about chickens and egg-laying. :)

First week 11

In the living room (our someday "library" once we get more bookcases up), we have some comfy seating and a whole coffee-table full of Mama's magazines.

First week 4

Earlybird and I looked at a book called Autumn: An Alphabet Acrostic.

Owen and riley 1

Sweet brother love. 

(Aka, the moment the cold passed from EB to LB!)

So there's a little look around the house this past week ... I am hoping to get back on track and I will report back in just as soon as I can. In the meantime, have yourselves a good Monday - a very cool and gray day in our corner of the world - and I will see you here again sometime soon!


First Day Brownies!

Happy Monday, my friends!

Well, it's our first day "Back to Homeschool" and it's been a good one, if not exactly quite what I'd planned. For one thing, Crackerjack is sick - he caught the cold Bookworm brought home from college this weekend - and spent most of the day under blankets. But Earlybird and I got some nice work done this morning, and to celebrate we baked a batch of brownies together.

First day brownies 1

First day brownies 2

(It's hard to tell, but that's a thumbs up!)

First day brownies 4

First day brownies 3



I'm still behind on lesson plans, and you all know how I love planning, but sometimes, and especially with Earlybird, just "winging it" and expanding on what comes up in a day works out really well. Today we learned about canyons (the Grand Canyon in particular), bridge repair, China and measurements. We also put up our world map, read an acrostic poem and looked through the Boston Globe for stories to explore.

But mostly today - this week! - is about refreshing attitudes and reminding ourselves that learning is fun and work is rewarding! All much needed things after a long, lazy summer!

Hope your week's off to a great start, everyone ... see you here again very soon!


A Bit of This & That

Happy September my friends!

Oh how I love this month ~ it's time for "back to school," new routines and gorgeous weather ... and the autumn holidays are just around the corner ...


It might be the best time of year! How is your September going so far?

Well, we're all doing well here ...  Bookworm is all moved in at BC!

Liam in dorm

And he's doing great - this Mama is doing the best she can with her oldest "baby boy" off to school. It's so very strange, and unsettling. But I'm trying to relax and not be too anxious ... thank goodness for texting and cell phones!

The rest of my boys are all doing well, too - enjoying their last week off before (home)school starts again. Most schools around here are already back in session but we really, really needed one more week to get ready. And we're not even ready, but I guess we'll just wing it! (More on our new school year in a future post.)

And here's my littlest guy who has recently discovered his feet:

Owen and his socks 2

Owen and his socks 1

Rolling over is great fun!

One more shot - I got myself a new haircut!

Owen with mama 1

I had four inches taken off and it feels great! A basic, layered bob - nothing too fancy, but easy to wash and style with minimum fuss.


Are you setting up some new routines this fall? I'm trying to find something that works for us - with this new house, less time, and one less hand around here to help out!

Well, as I type these last lines out, I hear my Little Bear through the monitor - so it's time for me to sign off, but at least I got this post done! Hooray! But I'll have to hit "publish" after the next diaper change ... ;)

See you all again very soon ...