Previous month:
October 2013
Next month:
December 2013

November 2013

My Thanksgiving Journal: Photos & Notes

Happy Friday, my friends!

I hope you all had a nice Thursday, however you spent it. Here in my corner of the world, we celebrated a beautiful Thanksgiving Day - it was quite bright and brisk! Very cold for this time of year - a taste of things to come? - but despite the chilly day outside, it was warm and cozy inside. And how much fun I had organizing our first holiday in our new home! My mum, as always, was a huge help to me ... coming over almost daily to assist with the children and the chores around the house. Lots of work, yes, but a lot of fun, too.

So if you'll bear with me, I have many, many photos to share. As you know, this blog serves as my family scrapbook (as well as my creative outlet!), so in my posts you'll find lots of family photos mixed in with pictures of food and "finery".

Well enough of my rambling, here's what Thanksgiving looked at my house this year.


 Lots of decorations were set out around the house ...

Thanks 2

Thanks 6

Thanks 9


Thanks 50

Thanks 10

Thanks 48 

Thanks 49

And the rooms were (re)arranged for entertaining ...

The "bar" was set up in the sunroom (as well as a tv for parade and football viewing) ...

Thanks 4 

Thanks 53

Our signature Thanksgiving cocktail this year: the apple-ginger whiskey sour:

Apple ginger whiskey sour

(This picture was taken on Thanksgiving eve, when Bill got a sneak peek, or should I say, taste.) We also served a sparkling cranberry punch that was non-alcoholic.

Desserts and coffee were served in the living room ...

  Thanks 51 

And there were appetizers in the family room ...

Thanks 17 

Two tables were set; one for eight in the breakfast nook ...

Thanks 52

And another for 11 in the dining room ...

Thanks 54

At each place setting, a paper oak leaf was tied to the napkin; these were used for writing down our blessings after dinner.

Thanks 24

The turkey went in around 7:30 a.m. ...

Thanks 12

It would be served (in part) on this lovely platter, which once belonged to my grandmother ...

Thanks 11 

Meanwhile, as the cooking got underway, Little Bear snuck in a nap ...

Thanks 13

  Around noontime, our family arrived to mingle and make merry ...

Thanks 16 

Thanks 28

Thanks 20

Thanks 27

Thanks 21

Thanks 22

Thanks 46

Thanks 27

Thanks 29

Thanks 30

Thanks 31

Thanks 39

Meanwhile, the turkey came out and more good foods went in ...

Thanks 26

 Like these thyme-roasted cippolini onions ... 

Thanks 23

(I thought the colors were lovely.)

And just look at this adorable "turkey" veggie platter!

Thanks 15 

(I found the idea in a magazine and my aunt put it together for our party.)

Oh, and look who woke up!

Thanks 14

Thanks 18

Thanks 34

Finally (once a few "oven issues" were worked out), dinner was served!

The buffet was arranged on our countertops ...

 Thanks 35

Our dinner menu this year: turkey & gravy, stuffing (with cranberries, apples and sausage), mashed potatoes, roasted brussels sprouts, roasted onions, corn, butternut squash, broccoli casserole, cranberry relish, biscuits & crescent rolls. Everything was so good if I may so - and I may because I really had not a lot to do with it! My mum cooked the bulk of the meal, and a few side dishes were brought by relatives. I made the cranberry relish and breads.

Here we all are, gathering together ...

Thanks 36

Thanks 37

Love all these people, so very much. Every year we're together is a blessing.


Now, after we digested a little, it was time for dessert!

Thanks 38 

There was plenty to choose from, as you can see: pumpkin pie, pecan pie, apple pie, vanilla and eggnog ice cream, lemon bars and blondies. Oh, and a crazy toffee-marshmallow pie I made on a whim. There was also, of course, lots of freshly brewed coffee.

As we enjoyed our desserts, I gathered the "thankful leaves" and read them aloud - we tried to guess who wrote what. I then tied them to a length of twine along the mantel.

Thanks 40

 One last shot - as my family gathered inside, I stole outside to take a picture of the window candles we put up just that morning. I thought the house looked awfully cozy as the sun set in the west ...

Thanks 41


Well my friends, there in a rather large nutshell, was our Thanksgiving Day! It was a truly wonderful holiday - the kind of day that leaves you feeling full in tummy and heart. :)

Thanks so much for letting me share our day with you. And I hope you enjoyed a closer look at our new home - we're still settling in (the garage is still filled with boxes!) but it definitely feels like "home" now ... and with each family gathering, it will a little more.

Have a good evening, everyone ... see you here again very soon!

Bountiful Blessings ...

Thanksgiving card 2

Happy Thanksgiving, my friends! I hope you all have a wonderful day ~ safe travels and joyous gatherings with your loved ones. We are so excited to host our first Thanksgiving in our new home ... we have MUCH to be grateful for this year.

Blessings to you all! I'll see you here again very soon!

"As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them."

~ John Fitzgerald Kennedy

The Meet & Greet

Archie spies one of the hens from next door ...

Archie and hen 3

Archie and hen 1


Enjoy your Wednesday, my friends! And thank you for all the kind words and wishes for my Mum on her birthday. It's a busy day ahead ~ lots to do (make/bake/clean) for the holiday tomorrow. All my boys are home and Bill has the day off, and with that storm raging outside (just rain and wind now) it will be nice to stay cozy (and productive!) inside. 

What are you making today, anything yummy or fun?

See you here again very soon ...

A Special Day for Nana ~ and Little Bear, too!

My friends, today is my dear mother's birthday! And I don't think she'll mind me telling you that she's 70 (I think she looks amazing for her age!). It is also our Little Bear's "1/2 birthday" ... which means he is six months old today!

  Mum, owen and me 1

Half-birthdays are super-important when you're a kid - I think it's neat that LB will always celebrate his on his Nana's special day. :)

I have just a few pictures to share this morning, from a lovely birthday breakfast on Sunday:

Mum's birthday 11

(It's been fun entertaining in our new home ... finding out what spots work best for serving and seating, etc. In our old house the kitchen island usually served as the buffet and here we find the "peninsula" is convenient in the same way.)

Now, my mother loves maple-walnut ice cream, so I always try to have that for her on her birthday ... but since this was breakfast, I skipped the ice cream and served maple-walnut scones instead. Not my recipe, mind you ... but Whole Foods'. ;)

And even though she was the party honoree, she's still the best at making eggs, so we put Nana to work! (These were fresh eggs from my neighbor's chickens - out-of-this-world good!)

Mum's birthday 5

Little Bear "photo-bombing" Papa and Uncle Matt ...

Mum's birthday 4

And catching up with "the rock star" ... his college freshman big brother around whom Little Bear just lights up!

Mum's birthday 14

A streusel-topped coffee cake to wrap things up ...

Mum's birthday 13

Nana and her boys ...

Mum's birthday 3

Nana and everyone! (Except for Bill, who was taking the picture.)

Mum's birthday 2

Happy Birthday, Mum ... Nana ... Maureen!

Mum's birthday 1 

It's your special day, and we hope it is a happy one! :)

Mum's birthday 12


Enjoy your Tuesday, my friends ... see you here again very soon! 

Owls and Chickens and Turkeys, Oh My!

Happy Friday, my friends ~ I hope you are all well! I have a little nature story to share with you all today ...

So Mum and I were sitting at the breakfast nook earlier, drinking our tea, chatting about Thanksgiving, and enjoying the drizzly November day ... 

Breakfast nook

When suddenly Mum exclaimed, "What on earth is that thing sitting on the fence?"

Owl watching hens 2 

The very large size of the creature seemed to suggest it was too big to be a bird ... but upon closer inspection, we realized it was indeed a ginormous owl! From its perch upon the paddock fence, it was quietly (perhaps sneakily) watching "the ladies" (our neighbors' hens), who were visiting our yard for their "afternoon tea."

So what did I do? Well as I'm sure most of you can guess, I flew outside with my camera ...

Owl watching hens 1

... and got as close as I could, snapping away. It was almost eerie, the way this HUGE bird turned his head to stare me down!

I got just a few shots before he spread his wings and took off. He was aiming right for the hens, so I gave a loud hiss and at the last minute he veered off into the woods. The ladies, understandably flustered, ran off in a line, clucking and crashing through leaf piles as they headed home.

I came back inside with a few pics, wet socks ... and a thumping heart! 

(Our neighbors occasionally share fresh eggs with us ~ I think we've earned our next dozen!)


Oh, so where do the turkeys come in?

Well, my mum was telling me about a flock of turkeys she saw on her drive up that morning; they were milling about in a farmer's field not far from here. We were joking that the turkeys were pretending to be cows, as close as we are to Thanksgiving. 


Have you had any wildlife encounters recently? What was the last bird you spied - at home or while out and about?

Enjoy your weekend, my friends ... it will be a homey-but-busy one for us, as we prepare for the holiday next week. We're also keeping our eye on our Earlybird (who continues to do well) and praying about his upcoming tests. (One in a couple of weeks, another after the first of the year.) Thank you again, for all your kind thoughts and prayers.

 See you here again very soon ...


November's Favorite Flower

Mum 1

The chrysanthemum is the flower of the month ... and my favorites are "football mums," those ginormous blooms that arrive just in time for Thanksgiving (and homecoming games, for which they are named). These amber hued blossoms look especially nice in my old beanpot ... they made a lovely centerpiece at last Sunday's luncheon.

Just something nice for today ... I wanted to share.


In the language of flowers, the Chrysanthemum means: "You're a wonderful friend, cheerfulness and rest."

a new day

Sunrise through cedars 2

On any other morning this would be just another sunrise, but this morning it feels special to me. Because I watched it from the family room with Earlybird by my side, and boy, was it extra glorious.

Yesterday I watched the sun rise over the highway as we drove from one hospital to another. Though my thoughts were not so much on the sunrise - striking as it was - but on my dear little boy who was somewhere further up the road in the back of an ambulance. A reality I could hardy wrap my head around.

And so as you can imagine I am deeply grateful to be here this morning with my Earlybird, watching the sunrise, making our biscuits and eggs, running down the drive to get the paper. Doing all those things that are too easy to take for granted, simple things we do every day ... but in light of yesterday's traumatic events, I'm relishing them all the more.

Thank you all SO much for your prayers and messages of love and concern - they mean the world to me, honestly. Last night I was up with Little Bear around 2 a.m. and when he wouldn't settle easily, my mind started wandering ... my ears were pricking for sounds/silence from EB's room ... and my nerves began fraying just a little. To distract myself, I opened up my blog and read through your comments ... and my friends, your words soothed me, your prayers lifted and calmed me.

Bill and I are blessed to have such a support system around us - beginning with each other and extending to our boys, our family and friends and yes, to my dear readers, too. I don't know how we'd be as able and mindful as we are without all this support - on any given day, but especially at times like this.

 I will definitely be posting updates as we go along and as life gets back to normal. We're waiting to hear from the neurologist (hopefully today) about setting up testing for EB. I'm so eager to get that underway, and see what we can find out.

In the meantime, thank you for keeping our Earlybird in your prayers ... be assured that I remember you all in my own.

Blessings, all ... see you here again very soon.


Prayers, Please, for Earlybird

My friends, this afternoon I am counting my blessings after an absolutely harrowing morning ... and I am asking for your prayers.

Earlybird had a seizure at 3 a.m. - he fell out of bed and was completely unresponsive. At first we had no idea what was wrong but they were without a doubt, the scariest moments of my life. We called 911, and he was taken by ambulance first to a local hospital and then into Children's in Boston. Everyone who worked with him/us was wonderful. So caring and kind. 

Bottom line - he's OK and we're home. There are no effects from the seizure, and he is 100% himself (and was good as GOLD throughout all of this) but we are having further testing done asap: an e.e.g. as well as an MRI. Those will come in the next week or so. I would so appreciate your prayers as we try to figure this all out and hope he has no further episodes ... he's never had anything like this happen before.


Thank you, God, for hearing my fervent and frenzied prayers this morning ... for comforting me and giving me strength to focus and "keep it together." For my husband who rode with EB and took charge of the hospitalization. For my folks who came immediately to be with us, and support us, in whatever way we needed ... and for our Crackerjack who was such a big help - especially with Little Bear.

Most of all, thank you God for our beautiful, brave and sweet Earlybird. For that dear boy who thanked every doctor and nurse who poked, prodded and queried him. Who waited patiently for hours in a tiny exam room ... and who is sitting at his computer right now, with his snacks and his comic books, just so pleased to be home. Please continue to watch over our dear son ... as well as all his brothers.


I'll of course keep you all posted, and thank you in advance for your prayers!

Weekend Journal ~ November Joys

Good Monday Morning, my friends! I hope you all had a nice weekend ~ here are a few snapshots from ours!

Little Bear and his Daddy enjoying the crisp autumn air ...

Owen november day 

We're outside as much as possible these days, while the weather is still agreeable!

And speaking of getting outside, I love this interesting "poster" shared by Oak Meadow recently on Facebook:

Playing Outside

Wonderful food for thought ~ a nature-based curriculum right there in the making!

Back inside, here's a cozy autumn table ...

November lunch

On Sunday I hosted a luncheon for several dear college girlfriends - it was wonderful to see everyone and catch up! The "girls" got to meet Little Bear (who was such a little flirt) and see our new home. I served squash soup, calzones and salad, and we enjoyed several delicious desserts brought by my friends: butter-and-whiskey cake, brownies, cookies, and an assortment of Italian pastries. There was spiced cider, wine and lots of tea of course, too! It was such a delightful day ...

And look at these precious little gems! The tiniest little cones from a bank of evergreen trees along our drive way ...

Tiny cones

They look like little brown roses! Such nice crafts I could make with these!

*wheels turning*


Well my friends, I'm off to get my week going ... a mild, windy and wet morning here in New England, the remnants of a savage storm that blew across the midwest this weekend. Thoughts and prayers for the communities and families suffering in its wake.


See you all again sometime soon ...

8 Random Things

Recently, I was asked by a friend to share 8 random things about myself. I thought it might be fun to post them here at my blog ...

Thanks for the tag, Wendy!


(If you have time, please feel free to share some random things about yourself in the comments below!)

1. My middle name was Michelle, but when I got married I officially changed it to my maiden name. 

2. I was an early education major when I started college (I wanted to be a nursery school teacher) but switched to English in my sophomore year.

3. I can say/sing the alphabet backwards really quickly - thanks to my 1st grade teacher.

4. I haven't worked - for pay Winking - since 1995. I was a newspaper writer/assistant editor before becoming a full-time mom. I'm very thankful we've been able to do this; living on one income is not always easy.

5. One of my ancestors came over on the second Mayflower.

6. I'm severely allergic to almost all antibiotics. This was discovered when I had pneumonia a few years ago.

7. I've never been to NYC and it's a dream of mine to stand outside the Today Show in Rockefeller Center with a sign and a cup of Dean & Deluca coffee. 

8. I have an irrational fear of bears. (Irrational, because I never put myself in situations where I might run into bears.)


(Bonus random fact: I did my list in my favorite colors.)

Hope you're all enjoying the weekend! See you here again sometime soon ...

Thankful Thursday: Small Things, Great Joy

Bc sunset moon

Bookworm texted this picture to me from the BC campus about an hour ago ...

Here at home I had just said to Bill, "Wow, look at that sunset!" (which looked much like the one from yesterday's post) when a few minutes later my phone buzzed with BW's text. He was on his way back from class and was similarly amazed by the striking evening sky. He snapped a picture and sent it home through cyberspace.

It makes me so happy to think that my years of "teaching" my kids to slow down and take notice of nature have made an impression. That I've instilled in these boys an awareness of, and an appreciation for, "the small things" ... things like full moons and first frosts, warmly lit windows on a rainy day ...

Bc gasson hall

... the surprise of sunlight and shadow ...

Bc bench in sunlight

... and of course, that beautiful night sky.

Bc sunset 2


I try to always be mindful of those small things that bring such great joy ... how blessed I am to have children who mirror and magnify that joy. 

(All pictures by Bookworm.)

Enjoy your Thursday evening, my friends ...

Happy November Things

Owen sunday best 1

You might remember a post from this summer, in which I showed you a beautiful baby sweater set, a handmade gift from a dear friend ... well, we finally got a picture of Little Bear wearing it and I wanted to share it here!

Isn't it gorgeous? The yarn is so soft, with a nice bit of stretch to it (I'm hoping it will still fit next spring) and the blue is almost the exact shade of Little Bear's eyes. Whenever he wears it out we are asked about it ~ my friend Cherice did a fabulous job, and we'll treasure this outfit always.


Also, yesterday was Martinmas, and for the first time in several years we did not make lanterns ... which makes me a bit sad, because I so enjoy making lanterns ... and now I'm remembering happy craft days with the boys through the years ... 

Martinmas lantern 3

Martin lantern 1

Martinmas lantern 4

Where do the years go?

And did you know that tomorrow (11/13) is National Indian Pudding Day? I did a post on it a couple of years ago, including a wonderful Susan Branch recipe found here. I have long loved Indian Pudding, a truly comforting dessert which is especially nice with freshly whipped cream.

Speaking of desserts, doesn't this make you want to bake pie?

Apple pie 1


Oh, and if you're a fan of Starbucks, you might want to know about a special offer they have going on later this week: between November 13th and the 17th when you buy one holiday beverage you get one free to share! Offer good between 2 and 5 p.m. Isn't that fun? I may have to plan a Barnes & Noble stop this weekend ...

Which drink would you choose? I myself am a huge fan of the Peppermint Mocha. Peppermint, chocolate, coffee and cream - what's not to love?

Last of all, look what happened this morning ...

Snow 2

Our first snow of the season! Hot cocoa all around!

It's already gone now, an hour later. But it was fun to see - Earlybird was all excited and you should have seen Little Bear's face! I'm sure we'll have more snow to marvel at before too long.

How's your weather in your corner of the world?

Have a Happy Tuesday, my friends ... see you here again sometime soon!


Sunday Moment

Owen walk with daddy

Bill took this picture a little while ago, while out on a walk with Little Bear. Such a beautiful autumn day ...

When he came home we got lunch together for the boys ... grilled cheddar sandwiches, butternut squash soup and apple crumb pie for dessert. Oh so good.

And now I'm having a cup of tea, the skies have clouded over, and I'm thinking about my week ahead ...

Hope your weekend's been good to you ... see you here again sometime soon!


HomeKeeping: 3 Weeks till Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving clipart 1

Happy Thursday, my friends! I hope you are all well.

On my mind today? Organizing (naturally) and the upcoming holidays. Now, we've been hosting our family's Thanksgiving dinner for many years now - it's the holiday I look forward to most! - and yet somehow it always sneaks up on me. For instance, I woke up this morning and thought, Oh my GOODNESS there are just three weeks till Thanksgiving! Only three Thursdays left!

So I sat down and wrote out a list of things that need to be done and what can be done in the next week, specifically. I always feel so much better after making lists, don't you?


(Some of these things might not seem all that "essential" to getting dinner on the table come November 28th, but I'm looking at the big picture. The holiday's about more than just that one day.)

* If I haven't already (and I haven't) organize a folder in which to store holiday planning materials. A place for lists, recipes (like this) and project ideas (like this).

* E-mail our family & friends to formally invite them all up here for Thanksgiving. Make sure everyone has our new address.

* Take walks with the boys to "absorb the season" and gather natural materials for decorating and crafts. (Pinecones, leaves, acorns and the like.)

* Begin a tentative menu - consult with Mum!

* Read through November magazines and clip any new recipes to try.

* Look through pantry and figure out what needs re-stocking.

* Choose seasonal books to read over the next three weeks with Earlybird and Little Bear. Arrange them on display and set aside an afternoon hour for "tea" and stories.

* Revisit the story of the Pilgrims and chart a Mayflower course on our world map.

* Check family clothing - who will wear what? What needs mending/ironing, replacing?

* Once guest list is finalized, decide on tables/seating arrangements.

* Write out a master "chores" list to be accomplished over the next three weeks.

* Pull out (find) A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving to watch with the boys on a dark, gray afternoon.

* Order turkey (once party size is determined).

* Look at calendar and decide which days are open for cleaning and shopping/errands.

* Continue with daily gratitude garland.


How are your holiday plans shaping up so far? Are you hosting any gatherings this year? 

Well, thanks so much for stopping by, everyone ... see you here again sometime soon!

Our Thanksgiving Garland & a November Book

Hello, everyone!

Popping in today to expand a little on a couple of photos I shared last week. First of all, this is our Thanksgiving garland, draped in front of the library mantel ...

Thanksgiving banner mantel 1

Thanksgiving garland up close

This simple project is in lieu of a "grateful tree", and was inspired when I found a large batch of aged construction paper. (My folks found it in their attic, actually!) The paper was butter-soft and the colors were somewhat muted ... perfect for a November craft!

So I made a small ring of paper for each day leading up to Thanksgiving (28 in all) and stapled them closed. It's a bit like a traditional paper chain, only I didn't link them with each other, but rather strung them along a length of ribbon, one after another.

This is a two-part project, plus a learning tool to boot - each day we take off one ring and write on it something for which we are thankful. The pulled strips get placed aside, and as the garland gets smaller, Earlybird can see how time is passing. (Is it Thanksgiving yet, Mom?)

On the holiday itself we will have many "feathers of thanks" to pin on a paper turkey which I will set up. Dinner guests will be able to add feathers of their own.


Now, I also had a couple of folks ask about the book shown in this photo:

November begins 1

This is the November page from Around the Year by Elsa Beskow, one of my beloved "seasonal" books. I have a true love for books that celebrate the changing seasons, whether through recipes and crafts or poetry and pictures. I enjoy including them in our nature and reading displays.


Well my friends, I hope this post finds you well. Our week is off to a nice start so far, and I hope yours is too! Thanks so much for stopping by ...

See you here again sometime soon! 

Friday Photos ~ November begins!

What a blustery start to the month! It's surprisingly mild here, but the wind is gusting like crazy! Can't help but think of that Clare poem: "I love the fitful gusts that shake The casement all the day ... "

Just a few photos from this week ... how I love the colors at this time of the year! Not fiery and vibrant like October, but more subdued and mellow. Earth's getting sleepy it seems ...

Owen blustery day 3

Autumn sunset with chickens

November begins 1

November begins 3

November begins 4

Farm 10

Farm 12

Farm 13

Farm 15

Farm 17

Farm 18

Farm 20

 Don't forget to "Fall Back" this Saturday night! How will you spend that extra hour Sunday morning?

Have a great weekend, my friends!