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February 2014

A "New" Family Heirloom

Good Friday evening, my friends - I hope the week treated you well!

I've been wanting to show you all a "new" rocking chair of ours, a gift from Bill's folks, so I spent a few minutes today taking pictures. Unfortunately, I didn't get as close a picture of the rocker as I would have liked - clearly the camera honed in on something else - but I'll share what I have for now (and I'll have more to show when I do my library "tour" in an upcoming post).

O in rocker 1

Now, this beautiful rocking chair once belonged to Bill's paternal grandmother's mother, or Marmee as she was known to her family - so that makes it over 100 years old! It was recently (and lovingly) refurbished by Bill's mom and dad, and we are so honored and thrilled to have it as a part of our home ...

O duck book 4

 Originally we were going to keep it up in our bedroom - aka the spot for middle-of-the-night rocking - but I felt this chair is just too pretty to hide upstairs. So we placed it in a corner of the library, instead.

O in rocker 4

In these pictures Little Bear is perusing a sweet little board book, and also, I should point out, the soft yellow "duckie" blanket that surrounds him belonged to his own daddy many, many years ago.

O duck book 1

(You know, I find once I start taking pictures ...

O duck book 2

 ... it's sometimes hard to stop.)

O duck book 3

I love family heirlooms, don't you?


Wishing you all a very happy weekend, and thanking you sincerely for stopping by!

See you here again very soon ...

Thursday This & That

From the "food pages" ... I'm loving all the suggestions for our "Kitchen Chat" series, which begins on Monday. I wanted to announce that our first topic of discussion will be "seasonal eating" as it seems to be a very popular concept! I also want to stress that I will simply play host(ess) for these chats - I don't mean to profess any sort of expertise in any area! I will share my own take on the topic and then open the "thread" up for comments. So please think about your own idea of "seasonal eating" and if you have any questions or thoughts to share on the subject ... on Monday we'll begin our conversation!


In "baby news" ... Little Bear had his 9-month check-up today and it went great! We talked with our pediatrician about finger foods, as LB is at that transition stage - from smooth to chunky. I always find this a challenge - figuring out what are good (safe) options to offer. (Suggestions?) We actually gave LB some steamed butternut squash the other night ...  and despite the faces he's making here, he seemed to like it!

O finger food 3

O finger foods 2

O finger food 1


A quick "weather report" ... things got a bit crazy this afternoon! We had a sudden whiteout ... and then five minutes later it was bright out!

Squall 1 Squall 2


And finally, in "family faith" ... Lent begins next week ... are you ready to bury the Alleluia?



Hope you all have a nice evening ... see you here again very soon!


Little Bear is 9 Months Old Today!

O 9 mo 2

Nine months is such a short time, yet it's hard to remember life without him. Our Little Bear just fits in perfectly and makes our family complete!

Today I'm feeling so grateful that God blessed us with this beautiful child, our fourth little boy ...

A few new feats: He's crawling now (!) and cruising (with help) ...

O 9 mo 1

Starting finger foods (steamed butternut squash last night - mostly a hit), working the sippy cup and his babbles are making a bit more sense - Dada, Mummmma, Keeeeeh (cat).

And I'm so happy to say - we're still nursing! :)


"Don't wait to make your son a great man - make him a great boy."

~ Author Unknown


A Picture Book Giveaway!

Morning tea and books

Good Wednesday morning, my friends! A cold winter's morning here, and I have a giveaway to tell you about, so please read on!

I'm up early (natch) - it's still dark - and I'm sitting here in my little library, surrounded by beloved books and baby things - this is "my" room, and this is my time. When Earlybird is up (but quietly playing in the other room) and the rest of the family (Little Bear included) is still sleeping. The heat is clanging in the pipes, the tea is hot in my cup, and the cat is nestled into the loveseat beside me ... It's barely six o'clock, and sure, there's a part of me that wishes I was still sleeping, too ... but there's a bigger part of me that's grateful to be awake and feeling well (if not exactly well rested), with a little time to gather myself together before the day starts rushing at me ...

One of the things I do in this me-time is to check my email and a few favorite websites, and a recent find, which I mentioned earlier this month, is the charming spot - beauty of the picture book. In her postings, Divina explores and celebrates those precious picture books - the ones we love to share with our children (but will happily read on our own). My library here is filled with such picture books - on display wherever I can fit them - familiar friends who visit for a time depending on season. And I'm always happy to "meet" (buy or borrow) new friends!

Well, in today's post, Divina introduces us to a lovely young lady, Miss Lydia Grace Kadar-Kullen, who has recently illustrated her first publicly available picture book, Saint Felix and the Spider. There is a wonderful interview to read and pictures of the process to peruse ... and, an exciting giveaway to enter! By leaving your comment at Divina's post, you are entered in a contest to win a copy of this beautiful book! They'll be accepting comments until 5 p.m. next Wednesday, March 5th, so hurry on over and take a look - enjoy the read, and throw your virtual hat in the ring!


In the meantime, I'm going to savor these last few sips of my cooling tea and watch the skies brighten out my windows. I'll have a little "tour" of my library for you in a future post ... I'm quite happy with how this room turned out.

Blessings on your day, my friends ... see you here again very soon!

Mondays in the Kitchen ...

Primroses on sill

Good Monday afternoon, my friends!

So I have a little idea I thought I'd throw out there and see what you all think. I'd like to start a new series of postings (on Mondays), to bridge the gap between Downton Abbey and Call the Midwife ... how about we talk about a new "kitchen" topic each week?

We'll officially begin next Monday, giving us four weeks to chat, and four topics to address. I thought I'd kick off this idea with a picture of my kitchen window view above. I was gazing out it this morning as I washed dishes and it struck me how much I enjoy my kitchen. I really loved my old kitchen so I was pleased to realize this new one now feels ... not so new anymore .... but really, very much like home. :)

So I'm open to suggestions - what kitchen topics are you keen to discuss? Meal plans? Pantries? Kitchen style? Lenten recipes? Kitchen memories? Kids in the kitchen? Those are just a few thoughts, but I'd love to hear your ideas if you have a moment to share them ...


Thanks for taking the time to stop by, everyone ... see you here again very soon!

MM: Downton Abbey Season 4, Finale

Da season 4

Good morning, everyone!

Well, as usual, I have not yet watched last night's episode, but wanted to get the conversation started because I know many of you did. Hopefully, if the kiddoes nod off early tonight, I'll be able to catch up and join you in the comments tomorrow morning. In the meantime, I'm avoiding internet spoilers as best as I can! 

Hope you all had a nice weekend ... see you here again very soon!


Spring in our hearts - and our windows!

While running errands this morning, I stopped in at a local nursery for a birthday gift and - oh my goodness! The sun pouring in through the greenhouse roof, the earthy smell of the humid air and the riot of color all around me ...

Nursery trip 1 

What a balm for a winter-weary heart! Honestly, if you're in need of a shot of spring - seek out your nearest nursery stat. Ten minutes breathing in that warm, damp air - smelling that soil and greenery - it will do you wonders, I swear!

Nursery visit 2

In addition to that aforementioned birthday gift, I took home a few primroses along with some pussy willow branches and - of all things, lol - a venus fly trap.

(If you're thinking that last item is for the boys, well you'd be right. Next week's botany lesson!)

Nursery visit 7

Once home, I set the colorful plants in the kitchen windowsill (out of the cats' immediate reach).

Nursery visit 3

 And the pussy willows, nestled in a rustic brown vase, I placed in the library - in a bright window facing west.

Nursery visit 6

We may be still very much in Winter's firm grasp, but we're jump-starting Spring in our hearts ... and our windows!


My friends, I hope you are all enjoying your weekend, and while I'm here I'd like to thank you again for all the wonderful laundry comments! I have some catching up to do - with your comments and my laundry! Also, I'm wondering - how's the weather where you are? Ours is just glorious - sunny and 50 degrees (plus!) here in New England ... however ... we must temper our excitement ... because next week looks to be frigid once again!

Ah, Winter. You are a wily one, that's for sure ...

Thanks again for stopping by, everyone ~ see you here again very soon!

Let's Talk Laundry, Shall We?

Yes, let's.

O in laundry 1 

Little Bear suddenly regrets asking to help with the laundry ... there's just so much!

O in laundry 2 

Nothing but laundry as far as the eye can see ...

O in laundry 3

 You mean, we have to fold ALL of it?

O in laundry 4

Well, I'll just sit here and look cute. It's what I do best.


My friends, how are you keeping up with your laundry these days? Is it something you do once a week, on an assigned day? Or do you do a little daily till it's done? Or do you wait until there are absolutely no more clean clothes available - aside from swimsuits and mismatched socks - then really get down to business?

I'm just curious ... our laundry feels pretty out of control these days. According to my "housekeeping routine," Mondays and Tuesdays are supposed to be my laundry days. But really, I'm doing as much as I can over the weekend and then a load or two through the week as opportunity (and/or need) presents itself.

My biggest issue, as odd as it sounds, is clean laundry. I get the whole wash-and-dry cycle going pretty well but the crucial step of "folding and putting away" somehow escapes me. The stuff sits in a laundry basket (or two ... or um, three) and we pick out what we need through the week. It's clean - but obviously, quite wrinkled. Well, we're heading into another weekend which means squeezing in as many loads as I can, and so laundry's on my mind ... and my to-do list ... and I thought I'd ask what you all do.

Thanks for your thoughts if you have time to share them ... but either way, I'll see you here again very soon!

Throwback Thursday ~ Thinking about March

(And maple syrup!)

Maple cupcakes 1

Well, I am just thrilled! This morning we signed up for our homeschool group's annual maple sugaring field trip - a sure sign that spring is not that far away. We haven't been on this tour in years, but it's always been a favorite event of ours. It will take place in mid-March which is a fickle month in our parts - some years we're walking though snow or ducking in and out of the freezing rain - but it's such a wonderful seasonal tradition. The sap starts to run in late winter, when the days (at least some of them) get above 50 degrees, and the nights remain below freezing, signaling those beautiful sugar maples to start doing their stuff! 

Anyhoo, for "Throwback Thursday" I thought I'd look up an old maple sugaring post - this one is from way back in 2007! If you're planning some maple-themed activities for your family next month, search my archives for "maple sugaring" and you'll find a lot of ideas and activities! (The search box is on the lefthand sidebar.) I also just put up a maple-month booklist over there on the right.

Oh! And those cupcakes shown above are featured in the aforementioned post. They are absolutely deeeelicious. :)

Enjoy the rest of your day, my friends!


My Downton Thoughts ...

Good Tuesday morning, my friends! Hope this "note" finds you well.

Now, I left my Downton comments beneath yesterday's post, but I wanted to post them here, too, in a more visible way. I so enjoyed this week's episode, how about you?

Before I get to my thoughts, though - I also wanted to show you my Downton Abbey page-a-day calendar. I'm having such fun with it!

Da calendar

Da calendar 2

Every day is a different scene or definition or description from the show/era. It's a wonderful way to get "a little Downton fix" every day! And the back of the pages are perfect for notes, shopping lists, etc.

It's just a little thing, really, but it makes me so happy! :)

Ok, now for my ramble-y re-cap:


What a wonderful episode!!

First thought - it was a beautiful episode, a real treat to watch! Shades of the first season, too, in all its soft opulence. - the church bazaar with its village camaraderie and all that glorious eye candy! Even the dresses the women were all wearing - though more modern in style - reminded me of those soft pastel shades from those classic first season pictures. (Remember the rose competition between Violet and Cora?) Seriously, I could (and may) go back and re-watch the scenes from the bazaar just to get a closer glimpse at all the stalls and decoration.

Ok. Bates-Anna-Green. Call me crazy, but I'm not convinced he did it. I half-thought he might be in York buying a ring or something for Anna. I mean, we're obviously meant to think it was him, but y'know ... it was all kind of done before, the whole - did Bates commit murder scanario? Maybe Green just tripped, maybe Bates got revenge ... I don't know ... but it seems perhaps that storyline is over, apart from Anna's continued healing.

(Who here wouldn't love for them to have a baby???)

Mary and her "desire" of suitors ... I'm loving it! It's perhaps a bit overdone - the men are all SO smitten - but I'm still enjoying the heck out of it and can't wait to see who waits her out. I'm thinking Tony is truly deeply in love with her (though I still think that was fast) but Blake is feeling more than just flirtatious as well. I like them both - Tony is safer but Blake might be better for her. I'm not really counting Evelyn Napier in all of this because he doesn't seem to be of any interest to Mary, not like the other two.

Rose and Jack - I kept saying to Bill, I hope she's not using him!! I had a feeling. I do think she liked, maybe even loved him, but she was using him. I was glad of that scene between Jack and Mary because I didn't want to see him get hurt - and I was glad to know he was aware and already resigned to the cold hard facts. He was a great character though and I wish his part wasn't over (of course, maybe it isn't, who knows).

And for the record, Rose still irks me. Lol.

Edith and the pregnancy ... I *loved* it that Violet figured it out. She's such a smart lady and has seen enough of human nature to know a cover up when she sees it. I also loved that she was so supportive of Edith. Edith's plan to give the baby to the farmer - does he have a wife? we haven't seen her - seemed rash. I still can't believe anyone in this family would want to see their flesh and blood raised in a lesser situation than what they can offer. I guess propriety rules over ... well, everything. I wonder if this Swiss plan will come to be or if there will be another option. And how far along is Edith? She can only be a month or two, right?

Tom and that new lady teacher ... not a fan of this pairing ... yet. I just don't like her. And that might be partially because she's not Sybil, but I find her brash and snobby in a reverse kind of way. I think it's obvious she's going to be a love interest for Tom - whom I do hope finds his footing soon, I like him so much ... but I hope that she softens a bit.

Very glad to have the Ivy-Daisy-Alfred situation cleared up at last. (We're discounting Jimmy at this point, right? He's such a tool.) And I was so proud of Daisy - so glad to feel good about her character again. And the love Mrs. Patmore showed for her - when she said she could not be prouder if she was her daughter - that made me tear up! The love and support the staff shows for each other is just beautiful and brings us back to the roots of the show. They are always there for each other ... remember Mrs. Patmore's blindness? And Mrs. Hughes breast cancer scare?

Isobel and Lord Merton (sp?) ... how lovely is this?! I had been thinking she needed a good storyline ... and perhaps a little triangle of her own, if we involve the good doctor who has expressed interest in Isolbel before? Hmmm ....

Well, I think I addressed most of the plot points. Overall it was a fantastic episode - could be my favorite this season - and the peek at next week looks wonderful, too! So sad to think it's almost over again for another year, though.

I'll just finish by reiterating that the whole bazaar was a splendid feast for the eyes and a nice link to the show's earlier sense of sweetness and light.

So until next week, then!


When you take a kid to Whole Foods ...

Whole Foods Market is Earlybird's favorite place on earth (aside from his Nana and Papa's, of course), and he asks me constantly if we can go there, when can we go there, who can come with us and whose car we'll take. We usually have the whole trip discussed, imagined and planned out days - even weeks - before we even step foot in the store. ;)

Well, it occured to me that such an avid interest presents a wonderful learning opportunty for Earlybird! Building on what appeals to him - with simple, relatable activities - makes learning easier and more fun (for us both). So I started brainstorming some ideas for a little "Whole Foods Curriculum" and thought I'd share my list here in case it's helpful to somebody else with a child who just loves to food shop!

*Quick disclaimer: I'm a homeschooling mom, not a curriculum expert or special needs pro. I don't mean to present this as anything other than a humble and hopeful collection of home-grown ideas. I'm just going by what might work for my own son and his particular interests and learning/life needs.


27 learning activities inspired by Whole Foods

β€’ Make a list of things we need to buy.

Practice spelling and penmanship, expand vocabulary. When we check our pantry and fridge/freezer before making our list we practice good food management and decision-making while taking responsibility for our family's needs (all important life skills).

β€’ Try to find items on a prepared scavenger list.

"Made from oats." "Came from the sea." "Smells good." etc. (reading practice, creative/logical thinking)

β€’ Look over store flyer and organize coupons.

Good reading practice, and discerning information (what's on sale, what's fresh?). Using coupons to save money - sorting, organizing, budgeting. Simple subtraction (item price minus coupon amount).

β€’ Use a calculator to add up a small order.

I wouldn't try this with a big shopping trip, but for a basket-ful of items - using a calculator to predict how much the cashier will ask for. Math - estimation, addition, calculator-use.

β€’ Make reusable shopping bags.

O and r at wf 4

Earlybird with his own reusable bag, a birthday gift.

  Using inexpensive cloth tote bags (from a craft store), decide on design/colors. Great creative/art experience. Discuss why reusing bags makes good sense (environmental science).

β€’ Draw a map to Whole Foods from our house.

Creative project using all kinds of skills - geography, measurement, memory, arts & crafts. Use a large sketch pad and colored pencils. Write out directions to go along with map.

β€’ Whole Foods A and Whole Foods B - which is closer?

We're lucky enough to live near(ish) not just one, but two Whole Foods stores - I know which one we prefer (size, selection, layout) but which one is closer? Observe odometer at start and finish for each trip, record travel times.

β€’ Practice clear and polite communication.

Think of potential questions and ask for help, make conversation with staff and other patrons (language skills, social skills).

β€’ Practice good cart management.

Earlybird loves to use the cart himself, but this takes a little skill sometimes! The store can be busy, aisles can be crowded (gross motor skills, social skills, patience).

O and r at wf 2

Little Bear is amazed by all the sights to see!

β€’ Learn: What does organic mean?

Look for the word "organic" on labels, store signs, flyers. Ask someone to explain what it means (call ahead of time) and/or research at home. Visit the library to research further - ask the librarian to help us look up information: How is organic healthier for us? For the earth? Make up a short "report" with Mama's help. (environmental science, research skills, clear communication, observation, composition/grammar/spelling/vocabulary)

β€’ Tour the store.

Ask for a tour with a store manager (or other store staff). Call ahead to ask. After tour, narrate experience (Mom types in) and add drawings, photos. Write thank you note afterwards. (patience, attention, social skills, penmanship/spelling/vocabulary)

β€’ Film a pretend commerical.

O and r at wf 1

Little Bear is all business when discussing yogurt.

Ask manager for permission to take video (on phone) while walking around the store. At home, make up a "script" and signs/props for commercial. Talk about what we like about Whole Foods. Record commercial to share with friends and family (language skills, reflection, creativity, oral presentation, diction).

β€’ Look for products from around the world.

Make a list of all the countries we find represented, and write down what products came from where. Use a world map to mark discovered countries. What country has the most products? Find out if there are available statistics for that information (ask manager). (geography, observation, communication/language, simple math, research skills)

β€’ Where are Whole Foods stores located across the US?

Research store chain locations - which state has the most stores? Look at US map as we research. (geography, observation, simple math)

β€’ How do receipts work?

How much money do we spend at Whole Foods? Look at receipt from recent visit, what does it show? Use cash to show the amount of money spent. (math skills, life skills, money management)

O and r at wf 3 

Earlybird and Little Bear on a recent trip to Whole Foods.

β€’ Visit a local farm that supplies food to Whole Foods.

Ask the store manager for a list of local suppliers. Visit one (or more) of the farms in the spring and ask about the farm-store connection. Calculate distance from farm to store - ask about how the food/items are transported. Take pictures and write up a "report." (social skills, communication, language, math, geography, community, environmental science)

β€’ Tour the individual store departments.

Visit the store and write down the name of each store department. Over following visits, investigate just one department at a time. What is the seafood counter all about? What can we find in the dairy? Talk to a staff member associated with that department - have some questions prepared. Make up a booklet at home describing the information and communication. Use photos, drawings and narration. (observation, list-making, language, organization, communication, social skills, creativity, memory/reflection)

β€’ Make up a Whole Foods cookbook.

As we visit the store through the year, keep note of what is in season when. Devise/collect recipes for seasonal foods (baked apples in winter, grilled corn in summer, etc.). Ask for a seasonal list of foods (if available) and use that as a guide. Keep all these recipes and information (along with pictures we take as we cook) in a binder. (observation, list making, language, creativity, communication, life skills, environmental science)

β€’ Make a well-balanced meal.

Plan out a healthy meal and write out a shopping list. Talk about how much we'll need, think about how many people will be eating the food. Make sure to include all food groups and talk about why that is important. Talk about the connection between good health and healthy food. Discuss how we feel after we eat a nutritious meal (energized? full?). (list-making, organization, language, decision making, science, healthy habits, self-awareness)

β€’ Practice time management.

Plan a very early trip to the store (like, 8 a.m.) and devise a plan for getting there on time. How early do we need to get up? What things have to happen before we can leave the house? What do we need to bring with us? Make a list and post it. On the day of the trip, time each activity that leads up to leaving the house. (life skills, time management, independence, responsibility)

O and r at wf

 EB can be a big help with his little brother. 

β€’ Rules are important.

Does Whole Foods have rules? Look at the entrance for any signs (no shirt/no shoes/etc.). Talk about why rules are important. What are some of our family/household's rules? (life skills, responsiblity, community living)

β€’ Write a poem about Whole Foods.

Brainstorm words about Whole Foods - nouns, adjectives, verbs, etc. Print out the words and cut out so that we have lots of single words on little pieces of paper. Play around with the words and make up rhymes. (language, creativity, grammar)

β€’ Conduct a taste test-survey.

Choose a sampling of foods (perhaps WF store brand vs. name brand or another store brand). Invite friends/family to try the foods (decide how best to do this - blindfolded?) and make a note of reactions. Tabulate "votes" and make up a graph to show survey results. (decision-making, organization, communication, math skills, creativity)

β€’ Host a Whole Foods party.

A nice late spring/early summer event - decide on date/time, plan out guest list, make invitations, devise menu, write out shopping list, create decorations, etc. (calendar skills, decision-making, communication, language, creativity, patience, social skills)

β€’ Have a meal at Whole Foods.

Our local Whole Foods has a cafe where patrons can buy drinks and snacks and enjoy them at a table. Plan an outing with Daddy for an early weekend morning (before it gets busy). What do we need (money)? How shoud we behave? After eating, give Daddy a tour of the store. (social skills, patience, money management, hygiene)

β€’ Plant a Whole Foods garden.

In the spring, notice the gardening items that Whole Foods offers: seeds, plants, tools. At home, plan out and create a small garden plan (pots, easy-to-grow items). Purchase seeds and small seedlings at Whole Foods. Peruse tools and other garden implements and decide if they are something we need or not. (list making, organization, environmental science, nature study, creativity, exercise/fresh air, decision making, money management)

β€’ Write a letter to Whole Foods.

Find out how to contact the "head' of Whole Foods (look online) and write a letter expressing our fondness for the store, as well as any suggestions or ideas. :) (language, creativity, research, social skills, life skills, US mail)


Well, I guess I'd better stop there, because this post is getting awfully long! Thanks for letting me share all of this ... I hope maybe someone else finds it useful! Lots of ideas, and some of them will work better than others ... we will try them out over the next several months as opportunity (and energy) presents itself! And of course, I'll let you all know how it goes ...

Thanks so much for stopping by today ... have a good one, my friends, and I will see you all here again very soon!

MM: Downton Abbey Season 4, Episode 7

Da season 4

Good Monday Morning, my friends!

I so wished to stay up last night and watch the new episode, but in hindsight it was a good thing we got to bed when we did. Little Bear had us up ... then Earlybird ... then Little Bear again ... and now our day is beginning bright and early. (Actually it's quite dark out at this time of day!)

Anyhoo ... please come on in and share your thoughts on last night's show in the comments below, and I will jump into the conversation just as soon as I can ...

(Can't believe we're already nearing the end!)


p.s. Are any of you watching the Olympics? I'm only watching in snatches, but I'm really enjoying them overall! I especially enjoy the figure skating events and what a wonderful performance by Meryl Davis and Charlie White yesterday! I love watching them skate and am really rooting for them today!


Poetry Friday: "A Kitchen Window"

Kitchen window poem 2


She hears the twitter of the birds

Finding the largess she has spread,

She sees the beauty snow has wrought

Where winter berries flaunt their red.


The lonely cries of circling gulls

Touch minor chords in her own heart;

In lace-clad tree and crystal bush

She feels a magic counterpart.


She likes the snowman’s pixie charm

Created by her wee one’s hands;

And looks up from her homely tasks

To share the whimsey he commands.


She has a kinship with the earth

Though busy in her own domain,

And comprehends its noble plan

From just a kitchen window pane.


This poem was written by a Milly Walton in 1949. I found it in a charming little book my folks gave me - which they found while cleaning out their attic - The Beauty of Motherhood: Selected Writings About The Joys of Being a MotherI think it must have been my mum's, perhaps a present on one Mother's Day or another ...

But I was so struck by this sweet and thoughtful little poem - so perfect for so many of us! - I just had to share it here. The sentiment (and illustration as you can see above) is especially lovely for this time of year!


Well, my friends ... this is my little Valentine to you ... a wish for a simple, sweet moment like this. Delighting in the beauty of nature, and relishing the joy of your home. :)

Happy Weekend, my friends ... see you all again very soon ...

Happy St. Valentine's Day!

"A hundred hearts would be too few, to carry all my love for you."

~ Unknown

Flower hand 1

Good Friday Morning, my friends. I hope this note finds you well!

We'll spend our day shoveling out from yesterday's storm (and prepping for another on Saturday), but there will be time for celebrating, too. Today is a wonderful feast day! And I have a few things planned for my fellas ...

But first, I found this old picture the other day and thought I'd share it here ...

Bill and me 89

Me and My Valentine, 1989 - the first year we were "official."

Blessed we have been in our life together! 

Happy Hearts Day, everyone!

An Update on the File Crate

Fcs update 13

Hello, my friends! Thanks so much for stopping by. :)

I thought I'd do a quick(ish) post about my file crate system. It's been a while since I've talked about it, and recently I've noticed a lot of folks are coming here from links that lead to older fcs posts. Not too much has changed since those earlier posts, but I think it's a good idea to check in now and again and see if/how things are working (or not).

(Also, I just love to talk about the file crate!)

So ...

What's in the crate (or tote as the case may be)?

As you see above, I have my weekly file folders all labeled and organized in the tote. (The original plastic crate was passed onto college-bound Bookworm - I now use a fabric-covered, long-handled tote.) In the back of the tote I keep a Catholic calendar we get from our church each year - it lists all kind of liturgical information (feast days, fast days, solemnities etc.). Just behind that I store my favorite 12x12 scrapbook paper - simply because it fits here well and looks kind of pretty!

How are the folders organized?

Fcs update 7

I get these folders set up at the start of the year - sometimes it's by the calendar year (January start) and sometimes it's by the academic year (July start). I use plain Staples brand folders and write directly on the tabs - one for each week of the year.

The folders are grouped by (six) seasons (Deep Winter, Early Spring, Late Spring, High Summer, Autumn, Holiday) and each season's folders are placed in a hanging folder. In front of each of these folders there is yet another hanging folder for general seasonal things. (Things that pertain say, to Winter but not to January or February specifically.)

Fcs update 6

Describe a week in the life of a weekly file folder.

I keep the file tote on my desk in the library - out of the way but very accesible. On Thursdays I start planning out the coming week and my first step is to pull the next empty folder from the tote. (So tomorrow I will pull the folder labeled, "February 17 - February 23, 2014.") I take a look inside to see if I have any papers stashed inside. (Some weeks I do, some weeks I do not.)

I then attach a planning sheet to the front of the folder - I keep these sheets in my planning binder, behind a "Weekly Planning" tab:

Fcs update 8

 I have 52 sheets in this section (or I did, at the start of the year). They are very simple in nature - just loose-leaf paper with a hand-written outline of things to plan in a given week (dinners, days of note, activities, to-do's, seasonal ideas, spending notes and blog topics).

Fcs update 14

I have tinkered with various designs for this planning sheet - and one day I *will* get it just right - but for now I'm just writing things out by hand. Once I do settle on a design I'll produce it in such a way that I can print out the sheets with sections already blocked out and possibly embellished with illustrations/colors etc.

So back to Thursday - I take the sheet for the new week and attach (staple) it to the front of the folder.

Fcs update 9

I use post-it notes for the to-do list and post ideas, because generally I don't finish my to-do's in a week nor do I actually blog about all those ideas. So I move these along to the next folder each week. (Unless miraculously I finish them off in which case I start anew.) The notes shown above are blank for privacy purposes.

So now the new folder is all ready and the week is on its way to getting all planned out. (Further planning includes consulting the calendar -  What does the week look like? How busy will we be with outings? Appointments? Special days? What seasonal activities can we fit in? How about dinners - easy or elaborate? What kinds of things do I want to blog about?)

Then over the weekend I look through the contents of the current week's folder and either leave things filed or move them into the new folder. The old folder goes back in the tote while the new folder gets placed "in position."

Where do I keep an active folder? 

Fcs update 10

I keep the folder with my planning binder, tucked inside the left cover - so the half of the folder that is visible beside my daily journal page, shows dinners and to-dos.

Fcs update 11 

I generally leave the whole kit-and-kaboodle spread out somewhere (table, counter, windowsill, etc.) but if I have to pack up, I place the folder inside the binder cover pocket. The "active" folder stays "in position" through the week and then, as described above, gets retired over the weekend.

So what's inside the folders?

I'm often asked What kinds of things do I keep in the folders? And the answer is: all kinds of things! Right now, looking inside my current folder you'd find recipes I want to make this week (slowcooker paella, baked grapefruit donuts, whole wheat fruit cobbler), a pile of papers re ~ Earlybird's medical issues, things I want to read (Bookworm's first graded paper from Comp class, an article about emergency preparedness), directions for making modeling dough, an Abraham Lincoln coloring page, a catalog page showing curtains I want to order, Crackerjack's Mass participation sheet, a print-out from the pediatrician with baby-feeding guidelines, a couple of printed receipts for online purchases, a Valentine's card for you-know-who. ;) 

The folders in the tote hold things for the future (in future folders, natch) and things to keep on file (in retired folders). I just placed the following items into future folders:

* tickets for a play

* paperwork for the boys' dental appointments

* a recipe for Father's Day 

* a prescription refill reminder

* Spring cleaning recipes & Easter baking ideas (these go in the Early Spring hanging folder, not a specific week)


Finally, the folders are kept in place until the end of the year at which point I go through them all as I write up our year-end reports (for homeschooling). The notes I made and papers I kept help me remember the year we had and plan for the next year to come!

Fcs update 1

As with anything I do (and share here) this "system" is far from perfect and hardly original ... but it's something I've done for years and have tweaked to work - for me anyways - pretty well. I get the feeling a lot of people are doing something similar or at the very least are quite interested in this type of thing so I hope this update is helpful, or at the very least not too boring! 

(And yes, I fibbed - this was not a quickish post at all! But are they ever, lol?)

Well that's all I have time for today my friends ... I have restless children in need of bed, a kitchen to clean, and a Valentine to chat with before I myself retire ... :)

I hope your week's going well, and if you live along the eastern US coast - batten down the hatches! We're in for yet another storm tomorrow!

See you all here again very soon ...

MM: Downton Abbey Season 4, Episode 6

Da season 4

Happy Monday, my friends! Time for a little Downton chat?

I'll join you just a soon as I catch up, but please get the ball rolling! I'm doing my best to avoid internet spoilers today ... will jump into the comments once I'm up to speed.

P.S. On another note ... we watched the final Sherlock this weekend and OH MY what a sendoff. A very surprising twist there at the end!



I have watched the episode and added my comments below!