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March 2014

Kitchen Chat, Week Five: Kitchen Style!

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Good Monday morning, my friends!

I am so excited to share this post with you! This whole series has been fun, but today's post is truly special because I have many contributors helping me out this week. Today we're talking about "kitchen style" and so, first off, I have a bunch of questions for you all ... and then I have my own "take on the topic" ... and finally, I have a whole lot of pictures to share!

So! Let me start by posing our questions for this week ... if you have the time to share your thoughts, please leave me a comment below. I'd love to hear about your kitchen and how you feel about kitchen style ...


In as many (or as few!) words as you'd like, please describe your kitchen.

What kitchen "style" do you like best? (e.g. country, retro, modern, etc.)

What do you like best about your kitchen?

If money was no object, how would you change/improve your kitchen?


 You've all seen snippets of my kitchen since we've moved here, but I did share some new pictures at the bottom of the post ...

What I like best about my kitchen is the space. I was very fond of my old kitchen but it was a bit small for the amount of cooking I like to do (and the amount of children I have, with whom I love to cook and craft). Our new kitchen has a healthy amount of counter space as well as a lot of storage. Not that it's well organized mind you ... but it will be ... someday!

If money was no object, I would love to replace some of the appliances - notably, the double ovens, fridge and cooktop. I'd really love an induction cooktop someday ...

And now it's time for some pictures!  

I had several kind readers send me pictures of their kitchens ... some folks had one picture to share, some had a few ... and some had lots to say, while others had just a simple reflection. I loved EVERY submission and I am very grateful to all the ladies who took the time to help me out with this project. I'm so pleased this post struck a chord with so many!

So without further ado, please join me for a little kitchen tour ...

From Marianna:

Kitchen chat 1

"The kitchen is truly the heart of the home here so I’m thrilled to be able to share mine. This was taken during dinner prep one night last week. I couldn’t resist the way the sunlight was coming in." 

From Michelle:

Kitchen chat 2

Kitchen chat 3

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"We hold almost all family gatherings at our house becuase we built this kitchen so that many family and friends could gather together. My husband runs a resturant so we are used to cooking for a lot of people. I would say 90% of my family's day is spent in the kitchen area. The kitchen table is to the right (where you see the tip of the chairs) and to the left back of the picture there is a seating area with two couches, t.v., and a fireplace. A view of fireplace and the sitting area and the couches are behind my boys. I LOVE my kitchen! It is warm and cozy. I love cooking, baking, and canning in my kitchen, but most of all I love it when there are many people gathered around eating good food, talking, laughing, and making great family memories!"

From Andrea:

Kitchen chat 4

"Our kitchen is small (not a lot of counter space), and it doesn't have a dishwasher. Those are the things I look forward to having one day! But apart from that, I like my small kitchen. It's painted yellow, and it has a window and screen door (lots of lovely light). And since I don't have a window over my sink, I put up a bulletin board that I love (top right in the photo). It holds my recipes, so it's very practical. But it also allows me to put up photos, Scriptures, quotes, and hymns. We added a small shelf below the bulletin board that holds the remote for my kitchen radio, a candle and a vase for small flowers. My kitchen also has some shelves where I store some of my most-used cookbooks and some other supplies and decorative items. So even though my kitchen is small, it has a very homey feel, which I'm thankful for."

From Elizabeth:

Kitchen chat 5

Kitchen chat 6

"Here are pictures of the kitchen in my new house. Top view is looking out toward the great room and the bottom one is looking toward the breakfast room. I love the extended island my husband had made for me. The counter tops have a touch of pink in them, my favorite color. My mixer is pink. :) My sink is a deep black farm house sink. The appliances are black."

From Tanya: 

Kitchen chat 7

"This is one of my favourite rooms in our (relatively) new house and was the thing I loved the most when we moved in last year. Our previous kitchen faced out at the next door neighbour's siding ... not a favourite view! Our new kitchen faces out towards a 1924 house across the road and a large stand of ancient Garry Oak trees. I love it! I also love our kitchen cupboards space and am so pleased at how we were able to set it up when we moved in. The only downside to our kitchen is that lovely large island which so easily gets cluttered up with papers and whatnot."

 From Divina:

Kitchen chat 8

A serene spot in her kitchen .. a sunny windowsill with a St. Francis statue.

From Mary:

Kitchen chat 9

"A picture of one of my favorite spots in my kitchen ... It is my wing-back reading chair near the fire place. I love to sit here and read and pray and jot down notes and sometimes just plain collapse! ;-) When my son was young he would cuddle up on the chair and cover himself with the quilt while I made breakfast. Also, many a visiting mom has enjoyed nursing a baby here ... including me! The chair has a lot of nice memories. And who knew it when I purchased it so many years ago as a single woman. On the little table next to the chair I keep my various notebooks nearby to make my lists, etc. along with a few books that I am perusing. The table is hand carved and was found by my Mom many years ago on one of our many "junking" adventures. ;-) I remember it in our home as a child."

From Heather, a handcrafted treat from her kitchen:

Kitchen chat 10

"I put together this little platter for our Bible study group that meets our house on Thursday nights. The hand-dipped straweberries took less than ten minutes from start to finish and that delightful Lindt bunny came out of hiding last night to adorn the platter. He's an Easter gift for our kids."

From Jo:

Kitchen chat 11

A peek at the corner where she bakes with her children. :)

From Shirley Ann:

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A few favorite spots in her kitchen (which is in England, so naturally I'm especially enthralled!).

From Arlene:

Kitchen chat 13

Kitchen chat 14

"A favorite spot in my kitchen. Living in a townhouse, we do not have a huge kitchen but I like it! I have white cabinets, gray granite countertops and black appliances. I needed additional storage so I found this cute hutch at Hobby Lobby. It is filled with my Bachelor Button Louisville Stoneware and topped with my favorite blue and white ceramics that are scattered through out my kitchen. I love pears so my kitchen is "popped" with some bright green touches. I love how it looks with the blue and white ceramics as well as my black appliances. (Bottom photo) My "Purse Bench". I got this little bench and painted it bright green, put it in the hallway from the garage. Now I have a place to put my purse and anything else I am carrying so it does not get dumped on the kitchen cabinets or table!!"

From Erin:

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"First photo: This is a corner of my counter space, which I have recently found to be much more functional if it has very little on it! I used to have a bread machine out here, and since clearing it and other things off the counters, I have enjoyed the space much more. I have my cookbook stand, a pretty bird tray, and a pottery canister made by my old college roommate in her pottery class - I like to keep it there because it matches the birds on the tray! 

Second photo: My handy shelf along one wall of the kitchen ... this was here when we moved in, and I found, after years of keeping decorative knick-knacks on it, that it was much better for keeping canisters of grains, seeds, etc. Plus my pottery cup that matches the canister in the previous photo, my catch-all home for writing utensils in the kitchen. And just for a bit of decor, my very first tin of Republic of Tea's Earl Greyer tea, my very favorite type. I have saved this tin since 1998, according to the date on the side, and have gone through several more cans of it over the years!

Third photo: This is just a zoomed out shot that shows the location of the wall shelf. I have debated putting hooks on the underside for hanging teacups/mugs, but it may look too cluttered. Maybe I need to lose the corkboards to open it up a bit!
Fourth photo: The view through my kitchen sink "window." Most kitchens have a window over the sink that looks into the yard, but mine looks into our sunroom, which was an addition to the house before we moved in. I have my little chicken decorations hanging above it, and in the sunroom, I can see my lisence plate collection hung up as a border along the top of the wall, which makes me happy to look at ... and the sunroom lets lots of light in for a cheerful view!

Last photo: This is the same counter space as in the first picture, which makes itself available to keep birthday cupcakes and other such goodies."

From Jen:

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Kitchen chat 21

Kitchen chat 22 

"The "island" is an old workbench that I rescued from the trash. I cleaned it up and finished it with a protectant to the wood so we could use it in the kitchen. We added casters to the bottom and an old shutter as a shelf so I would have more storage. I use it as a kitchen workspace and we eat at it all the time. Stools are just a Target find.

The shelf underneath holds my beloved Kitchen-Aid mixer a few other bits and bobbles. I use an old Coca-Cola crate to store my spices. They are in small glass jars with labels on top. They are actually very handy in that spot!

The red hutch is a hutch that was in our home when I was growing up. I painted it red and distressed it a bit. It now holds my collection of white dishes."

From Helene:

Kitchen chat 24

"Here is our kitchen. We had a small "renovation" last year when our dishwasher leaked and ruined our flooring and cabinets. We had to replace nearly everything but the best part was that we added an island! I didn't think our kitchen was big enough for this, but we we're told it would be fine. And now I don't think I could live without it! The extra storage underneath and the extra countertop space are indispensable for our big family."

From Sylvia:

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Kitchen chat 28

Pretty splashes of color! :)

From Lorelei:

Kitchen chat 29

Kitchen chat 30

Kitchen chat 31

"Our log house was built entirely by my husband. He cut the trees, milled the wood into "logs" (square) and lumber for the floors, cabinets and trims. It seems the kitchen is the heart of our homes. Mine is no exception. The eating area is just next to the counter. Open concept, with the patio doors opening to the deck. If you lived closer, I would love to invite you for coffee on our deck, watching the sun as it descends. My favorite place. No need for traveling to exotic places ... I already live there."

From Emily ... who offers a lovely tour of her kitchen in this post:

"My husband is an Orthodox priest and we live in a rectory that is attached to the church building and fellowship hall. Our kitchen is very beautiful and far more than we deserve. The property was originally a house and business for a man who ran a tile installation company and his home was his showcase for all of the beautiful tile work that he did. Everything was in pristine order when we moved in two years ago, which was good because the parish had to take on a monumental task of converting a three car garage, office, and bedroom into our sanctuary!"


And finally, from Dawn (me): 

My kitchen 2

My kitchen 6 

My kitchen 3

My kitchen 1

My kitchen 8

My kitchen 9

I feel very much at home in my new kitchen ("new" as of last summer). When we first saw it last spring, I liked it immediately, even if at first glance I would not have picked the color scheme for myself. (I have since come to appreciate the soft colors and black accents.) I love spending time in here, which is a good thing considering I find myself here more often than not through the day!

Top picture shows my kitchen sink and the window above that looks out at the back yard and woods beyond. I love this view, and the light (and breeze) that comes in through here ...

Second and third photos show the breakfast nook, another spot where we spend a lot of time. Little Bear's high chair tucks in nicely here and he divides his time looking out the window and   watching all the "action" around him. In the lower photo he's having a snack with his Daddy.

Fourth photo shows the pantry cabinets which line the wall between the breakfast nook and dining room. (That's the family room just beyond.) Lot of great storage here which is something I really yearned for in our old kitchen. I've got Yankee blood in me, I like to stock up on supplies. :)

 Next photo shows the island and other end of the kitchen. In all honesty, the counters are never quite this clean, lol! The peninsula, roomy as it is, tends to get littered with newspapers and mail and whatnot. (Tanya, I feel you on this!) We're trying to figure out a better way of storing all that stuff - in a drawer? Or a basket? Hmmm ...

Final photo, my sturdy little cross with one of my favorite scripture verses ... it sat above my old kitchen sink as well and it brings me peace and energy when I need it.


Well, ok then!

That was quite a long post, but I do hope you enjoyed it! I had such fun putting it together and am very grateful to all the lovely ladies who sent in photos for me to share. And thank you to all who stop by to read and say hi! If you have a moment, please join the conversation and fill us in a little on your kitchen ... just leave a comment below! :)

As for next week's topic ... I'm thinking food storage perhaps? Pantry/freezer/fridge ... but more on that later. For now I'm ready to start the morning ... with a hot cup of coffee and a wedge of raspberry crumb cake leftover from Sunday brunch! 

Care to join me? :)

See you all here again soon ...

p.s. I have not yet caught up with Call the Midwife which began a new season last night on PBS. So I'm torn over posting "Masterpiece Monday" at the moment ... I don't want to "spoil" myself until I've watched, so please bear with me while I do just that. I'll have a chat post up as soon as I can. :)

Rose Sunday Lunch (on Saturday)

Happy Rose Sunday, my friends! 

Well we had a wonderful day with our family yesterday, celebrating "Rose Sunday" one day early ... may I share a few pictures with you?

Rose sunday 14 

Here we all are, gathered at  our dining room table ... my folks, Bill's folks, Bill's sister Ami and her boyfriend Eric, and all our boys of course. (Bill was taking the photo.)

Rose sunday 20

I am laughing at myself because I forgot the rest of the doilies! But anyhoo, here are my "pink roses" and a joyful centerpiece filled with soft candlelight and pretty candies. (Yes, those are my liturgical sheers serving double duty as a table runner!)

Rose sunday 13

 The meal was set out in buffet style ... I made American Chop Suey, my mother made meatball subs and my mother-in-law brought the salad and a really yummy avocado dip! And for dessert, I served an easy-peasy, lemon-lemon cake ...

Lemon cake

(This photo was taken right as the cake came out of the oven - it was later glazed with a simple powdered sugar icing.)

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Naturally, Little Bear stole the show for most of the day ... but how can you not just ogle the baby in the family? He's always doing something adorable! Like grabbing his toes in delight ...

Rose sunday 5

 Or "swiping" his big brother's trucks ...

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... who returns the favor by checking out the baby's new toys. ;)

Rose sunday 11 

LB getting smooched by his Grandma and Aunt!

Rose sunday 16 

And it was so good to have Bookworm home with us - he only has about six weeks left in his freshman year! This year has truly flown by ...

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And here's our young master Crackerjack! He's growing so fast ...

Rose sunday 8

Speaking of growing ...

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Guess who's trying valiantly to walk on his own? 

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There is never a shortage of joy when Little Bear's around ...

Happy Rose Sunday, my friends!


p.s. I'm writing up tomorrow's Kitchen Chat post right now ... we'll be talking about kitchen "style" and I'll have some questions for you all! And I'll also have a whole bunch of kitchens to show you all - 14 so far! Thank you to everyone who has sent pictures - if you've not heard back from me you will very soon - I'm working my way through emails this afternoon.

 What fun we'll have tomorrow ... be sure to check back in the morning! :)

Feline Friday & a Gentle Reminder ...

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This is Oliver, who has been enjoying the cat gym now that the sunroom is open and relatively "warm" again. I get the feeling he thinks he's a much smaller cat than he actually is, lol ...

Well, my friends, I hope you all have a wonderful weekend ... and if I may mention a gentle reminder ... if you'd like to share a photo of your kitchen for Monday's "Kitchen Chat" post, please send it to me asap (but hopefully by Sunday evening at the latest), at ...

bysunandcandlelight AT comcast DOT net

I am thrilled to have several submissions already, so please join us if you can ... a picture of your kitchen - or a corner or spot you enjoy - would be wonderful to see! But either way, I hope you will join us on Monday to talk about our next topic, which is "kitchen style." I think it will be a really fun conversation!

And on that note, I now must get back to scrubbing my countertops.


See you all again very soon!

Tuesday Tidbits

Well my friends, this day did not go even remotely as planned ... but still, there were lots of nice moments ... bright little blessings in amongst all the "dailiness." :)

So naturally, I have a few pictures to share ... :)

Morning glory seeds 2

Here we have some morning glory seeds soaking in water ... they were supposed to be for planting today (a tradition on the Feast of the Annunciation) but A. I forgot to soak them last night and B. I realized I have no potting soil. So the planting part will wait a day or two ... or three.

Last bit of snow on deck

Our deck was caked with snow for the entire winter and at one point, it reached and exceeded the window frames! I am so happy to see there's just that one little strip of stubborn crusty snow left ... we've been eyeing it for days now ... and with temps in the 50s over the next several days, it's a goner!

Easter folder 2

Shown above, is my Easter planning folder ... I finally got it together! I've been stashing clippings and lists in my weekly file folder up till now, moving them along week to week ... but it was time to get serious! Pretty paper, isn't it? :)

Carrot soup in tea cups

Here's one of the recipes I have stashed in that folder ... I think this carrot soup sounds delicous and looks so lovely served in tea cups!

Kitchen garden and herb books

Two beautiful books from the library that alas, had to go back today. They are both illustrated by Tasha Tudor and I enjoyed them very much. They got my "spring gardening wheels" turning!

Robin in bush

A jaunty robin who somewhat hidden in the bushes as we headed out today ... he let me get close enough to get a few shots, but flew off chirping once I stepped just one step too far. I think he's claiming our yard as his own ... looking for his missus. ;)

O in car seat with toys

I just loved this little visual ... a little boy and his little toys!


Well my friends, I hope the day's been kind to you ... I'm going to sign off now and do my best Little Bear-willing) to get as good a night's sleep as I can. I wish you all the same.  

Oh, but before I go!

I just checked in with the Kitchen Chat post and there are some wonderful comments in there! Lots of great ideas, thoughtful suggestions and delicious recipes ... I hope you'll take a look if you have time! And remember - if you'd like to send me photo(s) of your kitchen (or a spot in your kitchen) for next week's chat, you can do so at this address:

bysunandcandlelight AT comcast DOT net

I hope to hear from you!

And I also hope you all have a nice evening ... see you here again sometime soon.

Kitchen Chat, Week Four: Recipes

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Happy Monday, my friends - hope your week's off to a great start!

Well, let's carry on with our kitchen chat, shall we? A favorite topic of mine is on tap for today - RECIPES! I just adore recipes - of all kinds, but especially those focused on seasonal baking. And I collect them like crazy - I find them addictive!

So pull up a chair won't you, and join me for some refreshments and conversation. Tea or coffee, it's up to you, but I myself have a rather large mug of Bill's freshly brewed coffee ... extra light and a bit sweet, just how I like it! And in the oven we have a warm apricot tart baking ... tender and sweet, it will be so nice on this blustery March morning.

But let's get down to brass tacks - here's what I want to know:


Where do you find your recipes?

How do you store them/keep them organized?

Do you have a signature recipe, a dish you're "known" for?

Would you care to share that recipe, and/or a favorite recipes of yours?


 Ok, so I find my recipes everywhere ... mostly in magazines, the Globe's weekly food pages, cookbooks, online and of course, through family and friends. I love to clip and save recipes - I hoard them, really. In fact, it's getting to be a bit of a problem ...

Recipes 2

I used to have a nice set up - a drawer in my desk full of hanging folders labeled by food type. But for some reason which wouldn't have anything to do with me being lazy I stopped using them. I found it much easier to just toss them in a basket such as the one shown above.

(Note I said easy, not efficient!)

What I would LOVE to do, is to have binders for my recipe collection, sorted by type, and carefully stored in sheet protectors. So a binder for main dishes, another for vegetables and sides, one (or more) for baked goods, and another for soups and salads, etc. I think that would be such a great system ... does anyone do something like this? I would think it's pretty labor-intensive to set up, but more manageable as you go forward ...

One thing I do now that I find works fairly well is - any recipes that are seasonal (that I want to use within a month or so) and timely (I'd like to use that week), I keep together and paper-clipped inside my active weekly file folder ...

Recipes 1

If I use a recipe, I retire it to either the seasonal folders (example, a saint-related dish) or one of my catchall baskets. The rest get moved along to the next week's folder.

Now, I also have a small collection of recipe cards, and these are like treasures to me. The food is full of memories, but even moreso is the penmanship - things written by my mother's and grandmother's own hands.

Recipes 3

That piccalilli recipe card is my favorite of all - I'm not sure who typed it out, but it's my grandmother's (Mill's) recipe and we would make it on many a Labor Day morning.

I think recipes cards and storage boxes are lovely - have you seen these? oh my! - but I just don't have time to write all those recipes out onto cards. I remember my mother's little tin recipe box, though - so fondly, that yellow and green/blue pattern, and all those wonderful handwritten cards jammed inside. I used to pore over that box all the time ...

Now, I'm not sure I have a "signature" dish - though I do make my artichoke dip very often and it's usually a hit. It's from a Susan Branch cookbook (can't think which one at the moment), and it's just so super tasty and simple:

2 jars marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped + 2 cups Hellmann’s mayonnaise + 2 cups shredded Parmesan cheese ... Mix all ingredients together and pour into ovenproof dish. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes. Serve with crusty French bread. Enjoy!

One of my favorite recipes to share however, is the mix-and-match quick bread I blogged about here. That's another easy recipe, but what I love about it is its versatility and the fact that it makes two loaves, not one!


Well my friends, I'm finishing this post up as Little Bear naps and I can hear him stirring a bit, so I'd best wrap things up ... but before I go, may I remind you that NEXT week we'll be talking about "Kitchen Style" (details here) and I'd love to see (and share) a picture of your kitchen in that post! If you are interested, please email me your photo(s) at bysunandcandlelight AT comcast DOT net - by this Friday if possible. I've already received a few submissions and I am positively giddy about that! :)

So I'll talk to you all soon, one way or another! For now, let me wish you all a pleasant Monday ...

I'll see you here again very soon!

Eight years ... and counting!

Window box
Happy Saturday, my friends!

Today's a "big" day for my little blog - it turns eight years old! It's seems a bit crazy to me that I've been blogging for eight years, but clearly I've found things to share - there are over 4,000 posts in my archives! So I guess my blog's not really so little anymore!

Back in March 2006, I was a 30-something mother of three boys - ages 10, 6 and 4 - and we were in the thick of our homeschooling years. Our youngest had just been diagosed with autism and we were confronting a whole new set of challenges. At that time I was part of a vibrant online community of Catholic homeschoolers, and several women had started their own blogs ... beautiful, interesting places to visit and ponder. I was quickly enthralled with this new medium, and tempted to try it myself ... but I remember thinking, how on earth will I have time to do this? And what on earth will I talk about ... will anybody listen? Will anyone (gulp) "talk back?"

I began with little posts (and tiny pictures!) about nature, poetry and homeschooling, and things built from there. I do still talk about those things but lots of other topics, too. (I tend to "hopscotch" around as you know.) Blogging was, and is, a great creative outlet for me - but most of all it's been a fun way to "scrapbook" the days of my family's life. It's given friends and extended family a chance to see what we get up to, and watch our kids grow ... and it's allowed me to write about things that interest and inspire me.  

This eight year journey has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life - I've met wonderful people, made dear friends and learned all kinds of new things ... so to everyone who has ever stopped by and read, perhaps left a comment, participated in a "chat" or linked to me from someplace else ...

Thank you.

I am so grateful that you spend some of your precious time here. Goodness knows I understand how precious "free time" is these days! Thank you for lending me your ear, sharing your thoughts, helping me hash things out and offering your prayers when I've asked. Having your company here has made my blogging journey all the more exciting and rewarding!

So happy birthday, little blog - thank you for keeping my "wheels turning" all these years! Here's to - God wiling! - many more.

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

p.s. Not that I tweet myself, but here's a fun fact - Twitter had its own 8th birthday yesterday! I am on Facebook however, so please join me over there if you'd "like." ;)

A Kitchen Chat Update

Happy Friday, my friends ...

My Little Bear is feeling a bit under the weather this morning, so I'll have to be brief, but I wanted to announce upcoming topics for our Kitchen Chat series.

This coming Monday, March 24th, our KC topic will be ... Recipes!

Let's discuss ... where we find recipes, how we store them/keep them organized, maybe share a favorite recipe or two. 

And then the following Monday, March 31st, our KC topic will be ... Kitchen Style!

Let's share ... descriptions of our kitchens and how we'd change them if we could (what's on our wish list?), how we make them as efficient as possible, but still add those homey touches. 

But, wait! There's more ...

Here's what I was thinking ... to make our conversation a little more personal and fun, perhaps you all - or some of you - or a few of you! - would like to email me a picture of your kitchen (or a spot in your kitchen that you particularly like). I will then include those pictures in the body of my post. 

Wouldn't that be fun?

So if you'd like to send me a picture (or pictures) of your kitchen, please email them to me at bysunandcandlelight AT comcast DOT net, along with a description of what's in the picture (and any other comments you'd like to make). I'll include it all in my post.*

*Alternatively, if you have a blog and would like to do a kitchen post there - let me know and I'll link you up! :)

If possible I'd like to have all "submissions" by next Friday, March 28th. That would give me the whole weekend to piece it all together. 

So I hope to hear from you! I'll post reminders of course, and look forward to our recipes discussion in the meantime. I'm off now to soothe my snuffly babe.

Enjoy your Friday, everyone! See you here again very soon ...


Baby's Early Spring Wonders

Spring morning

Happy 1st Day of Spring, everyone!

 Well, it will be Spring in just a few hours ... 12:57 p.m. to be exact! The Vernal Equinox is upon us, and despite the chilly temperatures and the patches of snow on the ground, we are at very last, done with Spring proper. Of course, when has Spring every acted properly?

Anyhoo ... I've been writing out some notes about nature "moments" to enjoy through the years with my Little Bear (who'll be 10 months next week!) and I thought you might like to see them. Just some brainstorming here ... nothing too formal yet ... things will take shape as we move along through the seasons. :)

(Note: These ideas are for March and April - aka, Early Spring.)


* On the 1st day of March ... lions roar! have fun with roaring sounds, lion pictures/stuffed animals. Read How Loud is a Lion? together.

* Maple sugaring - visit the woods in all their late winter glory - patches of snow, bare branches, old leaves - and befriend a sugar maple, feel that rough bark!

Maple sugaring 6

* Melting - slushy spots along the driveway, puddles where ice had been, drip-drip-drip sounds

* Mud - push bits of things (twigs, pebbles, leaves) into the newly formed mud out front ... ooh, it's squishy! Squelchy sounds! Read Mud! 

* Make (paper plate) masks for Mardi Gras - play peekaboo!

* Go for a wind walk on a blustery day. Read When the Wind Blows

* Go for a rain walk on a showery day (brief, just to feel it)

* Look for puddles, throw things in to *splash* (might be too cold yet for piggy dips)

* Watch the forsythia bushes for buds and blossoms ... snip some branches to force indoors

* When the nights get milder, open the window and listen for peepers in the vernal pool out front

* Watch the night sky for the full sap (March) and pink (April) moons.

* Make a pinwheel and/or a kite for windy spring days

 * Visit new lambs at our local farm, and back at home, look for soft things like fleece, yarn, cotton balls. Read Mary Had a Little Lamb.

* Find pussy willows to feel and admire - so silky soft! Like kitty cat paws. :) Might find some near the marsh growing wild ...  if not, bring some home from the market. Cut branches to place in a vase at home. Read Pussy Willow.

* Explore sweet, earthy carrots - steamed and mashed/chunked, baked into mini pancakes or muffins, start seeds for the garden, read The Carrot Seed.

* Look at smooth eggs - so many sizes and colors! - and try some homemade egg custard (Nana's recipe). Visit neighbor's chickens and see eggs in the nest.

* Listen to Celtic music while driving in the car, or dancing at home - Celtic Dreamland

* Sweep, sweep, sweep! This is the way we sweep our house (steps/walk) clean, wonderful activity on bright dry days.

* Wipe and polish, do our part! For family spring cleaning leading up to Easter, little cloth rags and natural beeswax polish, This is the way we clean our house ...

* Make fingerpaint rainbows with natural dyes/watercolors ...

* Look for rainbows on showery/sunny days

* Enjoy clay play - homemade play dough, natural dyes (rainbow shades)  

* What do frogs say? Peep, croak! Where can we find frogs? Read The Tale of Jeremy Fisher.

* Notice where robins appear - and how they hop! Can we hop like a robin? Can we make a tidy warm nest like a robin?

* Check branches for new buds and shoots - where is life resurrecting itself?

* Visit the pond to see ducks! Quack, quack, quack! Read Make Way for Ducklings. Perhaps ... visit the ducklings statues in Boston's Public Garden.


There's so much to explore in early spring! What "comforts and joys" do you look for at this time of year? If you have any ideas to add to my list, please leave me a note below. I'm currently working on a list for late spring (May and June) and I'll share that in a future post, too.

Well my friends, I hope you enjoy this first - much-longed-for - day of spring. What's it like where you live? Is it springy? It's a bit showery and gray here this morning, but NOT cold and that's nice for a change! Skies are supposed to clear later and I bet there will be lots of melting. Can't wait to see all this white gone for good! (At least until December ...)

See you all here again very soon ...

Time to make the donuts ...

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On St. Joseph's Day we like to bake donuts, and that's just what we did this morning, Earlybird and I ...

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This is a very simple, baked donut ...

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After cooling just a bit, I dipped them in a light maple glaze, but I left one plain for Little Bear ...

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Very small bites ... a new taste and texture to enjoy!

Cake Donuts

2 cups flour, 3/4 cup sugar (I used 1/2 cup vanilla sugar), 2 tsp. baking powder, 1 tsp. salt, 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter (melted), 2 eggs (beaten), 3/4 cup milk (I used whole), 1 tsp. vanilla, 1/4 tsp. cinnamon, 1/4 tsp. nutmeg

Preheat oven to 325. Lightly spray donut pan with cooking oil (aka Pam). In bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt. Add butter, eggs, milk, vanilla, nutmeg and cinnamon. Beat until well blended. (I used a rubber spatula.) Fill each donut ring 2/3 full. Bake for 8 minutes or until tops spring back lightly when touched. Cool. Remove from pan and dip into glaze.

I adapted this recipe from one found on the back of my Wilton donut pan. For the glaze, I just mixed some confectioner's sugar with cream and maple syrup. I pressed the donuts into the bowl of glaze (face-down) while they were still warm, then set them on a plate to cool.

And they were DELICIOUS.


Blessings to you all on this Feast of St. Joseph ... see you again sometime tomorrow!

Maple Sugaring ~ Little Bear's 1st Field Trip!

My friends, what a nice day we had yesterday! It was bright and brisk as only March can be - perfect (if perhaps a bit chilly) for getting out of the house. So in the late morning we packed ourselves up (in multiple layers) and joined our homeschool group at a local state park to see how maple syrup is made. This was Little Bear's very first field trip, and I'm happy to say he enjoyed himself very much. :)

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 All bundled up and ready to go!

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 Very interesting demonstrations, the kids asked great questions and offered thoughtful answers.

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Little Bear was absolutely fascinated by the bark on this tree. I think that's a good sign, don't you? ;) Another little nature nut just like his brothers (and Mama)!

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The woodsman demonstration is always a hit with the kids - learning about how wood was handled through the years (and today). They especially like the part where they get to try out the two-man saw!

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 This picture is actually from 2008, but it shows that two-man saw in action. That's our Crackerjack in green and Bookworm in red - how little they were back then!

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I just liked this view. :)

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 And this one ...

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And this!

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In March, there are maple sugaring tours all over New England, and we've been to a few different operations over the years. This one was run by a state park located just outside of Boston. A really beautiful place that offers a lot of family-oriented programs.

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At the end of the tour, which brought us through the woods and into a working sugar shack (where the sap actually gets boiled down into syrup), visitors are given a pancake and/or popcorn soaked in pure maple syrup. I gave Little Bear a tiny taste ...

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And it may not look like it here, but he really did enjoy that tiny bite!

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It was so amazing to watch his little face take in all the different people and new sights ... the feel of the wind and the sway of the trees. There's nothing quite like experiencing the wonders of the world through the eyes of a child ...

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Crackerjack had a great time, too! He got to catch up with friends he had not seen in some time. :)

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One last shot at the park - a selfie of Mama and her Little Bear. I'm going to tuck the memory of this lovely day in my heart for safe keeping - and future reference. :)

Back at home ...

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I had our "maple-themed" books displayed in a bright window ...

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And I also opened up a favorite book to these beautiful pages depicting an old fashioned maple sugaring scene ...

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I bet you can tell who drew these charming pictures!

There is so much to see in these pages, so many lovely details in the borders - like red-winged blackbirds, chipmunks and pussy willows - all spring harbingers we ourselves "encountered" last week. :) If you love seasonal stories and illustrations, Springs of Joy is a book you will want to include in your family library!


Well my friends, I hope you enjoyed hearing about our maple sugaring trip! I'd like to mention that many of these photos were taken by Crackerjack, since I had my hands full (of baby!) most of the time. I think he did a fine job. :)

Enjoy your Wednesday, everyone ... I'll see you here again very soon! 

Keeping up with everyday tasks ...

Daily tasks pagemarker

Good Tuesday morning, my friends!

So in yesterday's Kitchen Chat post, Michelle P. asked me about the multi-colored index cards I once used for managing weekly household chores (described in exhausting detail here). Now I do still have those cards - safely tucked in my file box - but they're not what I'm using right now. Right now, I'm using what is shown in the photo above.

What you see there is a pagemarker made out of sturdy printed cardstock onto which I've adhered a list of household chores, divided by day. (The tasks I listed on those cards are listed here instead.) I use this pagemarker in my planning/journal binder to mark where I'm at in my daily log - the page I keep open for notes through the day. (More on my binder here.)

I use the little yellow sticky note to keep track of repetitive but necessary daily tasks - the cats, EB's meds, LB meals, the mail, the daily paper, the dishwasher, trash. Turning the note on its side, I made a column for each day, Monday - Sunday. I just check things off as we do them. The meds get 2 checks (a.m. and p.m.), LB's meals get 3 (breakfast, lunch, dinner). It sounds very simple and it is - but it's been working well for me lately, so I'm sticking with it! (For now.)

I know to some it may seem silly to actually write down and check off little chores like that - things I do every single day, you'd think they'd be ingrained in my brain, right? Well, my friends, my brain is not the place it used to be, lol ... there's a lot up there fighting for space and attention, and it's pretty tired most of the time, so I find it quite helpful to have a visual reminder of those tasks that really need to get done. And making those little checks feels good, too! I won't deny it. ;)

Anyhoo ... there's a quick post on this topic ... I'd love to know, how do you magage your everyday tasks? Do you find it's helpful to write them down, or check them off in some way? Please leave me a comment if you have thoughts to share and the time to share them. :)

In the meantime, I wish you all a bright and blessed day ... see you here again very soon!


Kitchen Chat, Week Three: Clean Kitchens!

 🍀 Happy Monday, my friends - and a top o'the morning to you! 🍀

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For this week's conversation, how about we talk about keeping the kitchen clean? It's not the most romantic or inspiring topic perhaps, but it's something we all have to do, right? As in ... all the time ... day after day ... meal after meal. ;) So let me pour you a nice cuppa tea (Irish Breakfast?) or a fresh mug of joe (Jo Jo's Java?) and plate you up a warm pumpkin scone - there's some sweet cream butter here if you need it - and let's chat!


 Ok, my questions for you are as follows (though certainly, feel free to say what you'd like on the topic! I'm just trying to get the ball rolling ...):

What is your kitchen cleaning routine like? How often do you clean it - i.e. what gets cleaned daily, weekly, monthly, seasonally?

Do you have particular methods (a la FlyLady) or materials you use (Mrs. Meyer, Seventh Generation, homemade)?

What spot(s) challenge you most - stovetop, sink, oven, counters? (high chair, lol?)


Obviously kitchens need daily attention ... and if you, like me, are at home a lot, meaning, you're feeding your family at home a lot, then your kitchen is getting a lot of use. 

So in order to keep things hygenic (if not spotless), every day I/we try to ... 

run the dishwasher/empty the dishwasher

clean up/wipe the kitchen sink

keep counters as clear as possible

sweep along edges of floor (mostly because I now have a crawler!)

wipe any spills on counter/floor

neaten breakfast nook table & chairs (baby's things, newspapers, dirty dishes left behind)

clean Little Bear's high chair tray

So there are the daily chores then, but also, a deeper weekly cleaning is a good thing, too. I like to schedule my kitchen day around our trash day - cleaning the day before trash pickup. And periodic tasks like pulling the fridge out to clean behind, freshening the disposal, etc. are important as well. I don't always keep up with these as I should because they're not so immediately necessary, but I find if I actually schedule them into my calendar I have a better shot at getting them done.

I follow no particular method, though I do love reading about the cleaning routines described in Home Comforts. (I'm not even close to her standards of clean, but a girl can dream, lol.)

For materials, we tend to stick with Seventh Generation "Free & Clear" because of Earlybird's sensitivities, but I like the idea of homemade cleaners very much. I just never seem to get around to making any.

As for challenges - I'd say trying to keep the stovetop and refrigerator shelves clean drives me nuts. Also, the cabinet fronts - they get spilled on and smudged constantly, but I never seem to wipe them down as often as I should. 

And oh yes, that high chair ... it should really be sand-blasted daily!


Ok, I think that's all I have time to write right now ... but I do look forward to hearing your take on the topic! If you've written about this topic at your own blog, either presently or previously, please feel free to leave me a link. (And if you'd like, you're welcome to grab the "Kitchen CHat" button displayed above, too!)

So I'll catch up with you again, my friends ...I'm off to get breakfast started. :)

See you here again very soon ...

CD Giveaway Winner!

Well, I had such fun reading through all your "morningtime" comments! But very early this morning, I drew a name randomly from the interested parties, and I'm very happy to announce that:

Lacey won my extra copy of Baby's Morningtime

Baby's morningtime 2

Lacey, I will be in touch to arrange mailing details - I hope you enjoy your copy!

And thanks to everyone for taking the time to leave your thoughts on the whole early bird vs night owl debate ... :)

I'll see you all here again very soon - in fact, later this morning with a Kitchen Chat post!


Coming up next week!

Happy Saturday, my friends!

Popping in briefly this morning to announce our Kitchen Chat topic for Monday - meant to post it much earlier than this, but, well, I plum forgot! How about next time we discuss a topic we all have to deal with, on some level - "Keeping the Kitchen Clean."

I think there's a lot we could cover with that topic, so please give it some thought and join me on Monday for a little "kitchen chat." Also on Monday, I'll announce the winner of the Baby's Morningtime CD - there's still time to leave a comment and enter your name here!


Lots coming up next week, actually ... St. Patrick's Day, a maple sugaring field tripSt. Joseph's Daythe Vernal Equinox ... and maybe a little "blog birthday," too! ;) We'll also be watching the waning Sap Moon and expecting some mild, showery weather around here ... sounds like March to me!


Hope you all enjoy your weekend ... see you here again very soon!

A Tour of our "Library"

Good Friday morning, my friends! And cheers to the weekend ahead!

Today I'd like to show you around my favorite room in the house - our living room, or what we now affectionately call the "library." This is where we gather to read (or type as I am at this moment) and it's also where I showcase our children's books. It's a sunny, "roomy" room, and we all seem to migrate here throughout the day to work on this and that, or just sit around and chat.

So it's taken some time, but I now have it set up to my liking - with a lot of (though certainly not all our) books, my desk and the kids' computer, as well as the baby's "stuff," because this is also Little Bear's main playroom. Not quite the "formal" room I originally envisioned, but then, our life isn't very formal these days anyway!

So, starting off at the doorway (entering from the foyer) ...

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One of my favorite things about this room is that big picture window - my "window on the world" as it were. (It faces the front yard.) It would be a great spot for displaying picture books, except that the cats like to sit up here (birds rest in the shrubbery below) and I got tired of picking up all those felled books. Also, I find it's a nice spot for parking my laptop and planner/journal, folder, magazine etc. through the day. I can peruse it all when I have a moment to stop as I walk by with a baby on my hip. :)

Straight ahead is the liturgical bookshelf, which I showed you in an earlier post, but here are two new touches ...

Purple sheers 4 

A sheer embroidered valance, in a lovely Lenten hue ...

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... and holy cards for this month's devotion (St. Joseph).

Now, just about everywhere I can fit them, I have books on display ...

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 This is an unfinished console table which will - now that it has a home - be painted a soft white this spring. It has some larger hardcovers displayed on top - illustrated by favorite authors like Tasha Tudor, Will Moses, and Charles Wysocki. And beneath the table are a couple of newer baskets I purchased at HomeGoods (around $15 each) holding seasonal collections ...

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March books up front, of course.

(Most of these titles you can find listed along my blog's sidebars.)

Now, this is the coffee table that stands in front of the red-checked loveseat seen above, but I fear this picture is a bit misleading ...


Because I no longer display magazines here on this table, as much as I love to! I relish my magazines truly (they're my weakness, as you know), but so does Little Bear. He loves to cruise around the edge of this table and whatever is in his reach quickly becomes baby "fist fodder." So the magazines have been moved out-of-reach ...

Here's the back wall of the room ...

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(And there's Bookworm home on spring break!)

My favorite seasonal poetry books line this wall ...


 The thin edge of the wainscoating bordering the room is very convenient for displaying books!


A small table wedged between the chair and loveseat holds various necessities - tissues, lamp, led candle, kitty portrait, hot drink, baby monitor and, of course ... more books. Beneath the monitor are Little Bear's favorite board books of the moment.

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A couple of baskets for blankets and colorful books, and a roomy tote bag for miscellaneous toys.

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In the far corner of the room ... a playpen, another bookcase with "mama's" books (housekeeping, cookbooks, seasonal idea books, etc.), and that pretty rocker I told you about last week.


I love, love, love the light this room gets. Such a bright, happy spot for floor play.

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Old-fashioned, softly drawn picture books to peruse together ...

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A few hardcovers I especially adore ... books that must be shared with mama (or daddy). The top book though, First Meals, I am currently re-reading since Little Bear has moved into finger foods. :) 

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More special board books, more favorite authors: Gyo Fujikawa, Sibylle von Olfers and Eloise Wilkin ... 

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My "Mama" bookcase holds my favorite non-fiction books. I love to revisit them when I can - for information, ideas and inspiration!


The swing, parked beneath a sunny window. Truth be told, LB is outgrowing this already. He's just too "busy" these days to hang out in a swing very long. The braided rug beneath was made by Bill's grandmother, and you can see along the wall to the right of the window there are some more loverly books ... a great big hardcover all about the world of Peter Rabbit  as well as my Flower Fairies collection and a few more Tasha Tudor books ...

You know, even when I don't have time to read (and that's true a lot these days) it does my soul good to be surrounded by books we treasure. And I think (hope) it sends a good message to my children ... books are important, they are to be valued and included in our everyday life.

The curtains, by the way - or maybe they're drapes, I'm not sure - were left here by the previous owners which was very generous. I just love them, but I have no idea how to care for them - they're kind of silky/satiny in texture? - and I would never have picked them out on my own. But I'm very glad to have them. :)

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Remember my white desk from the old house? Well, here it is!

The computer actually belongs to the kids - or I guess I should say, Crackerjack since Bookworm is off at BC, and Earlybird has his own iPad. I never really sit down at this desk anyway - I'm more apt to work in a comfortable chair - though I do have it outfitted with my special things ...

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A framed picture of our boys (our Christmas card from last year), with a jaunty wooden dragon standing beside. My boys have loved dragons since they were little ...

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My basket of notecards and whatnot ... ribbons, stickers, etc.

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Page-a-day calendars, mugs full of pencils and pens ... and of course, all kinds of books! I like to change the assortment here to reflect the current season/color of the month. Green-blue-aqua are the shades right now.

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And of course, I have my file crate parked in this spot!


I love this little sign, a gift from Bill's mom ... it's so very true! The vintage paper in the lower lefthand corner is my homemade lesson planner - a very simple collection of spiral-bound sheets with a pretty cover.

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Another row of books - they line every wall (just about)! 

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And here's the hearth wall, another spot for seasonal decor. Right now I have a rustic vase filled with pussy willows, a little pot of shamrocks ...

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... a  new "vintage-looking" sign ...


We love birch trees and the logs you see in the fireplace as well as on the mantel were from the river-wood by our old home. Years ago Bill found a fallen birch and collected some of the logs. The saw clock was painted by my late grandfather ...

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And of course I have my pinecone tea set here in this room! Currently it set upon a handpainted tray which is resting on an ottoman beside the fireplace. I love how it looks here, but I fear it is not going to be here much longer, because this guy ...

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... this little fella is starting to cruise around, and boy does he make a bee-line for that tea set!


Ok, well we're finally done with the tour ... sorry it got so long! As you can probably tell, I do enjoy spending time in this room very much. In fact, as I finish this post I am sitting on the very rug pictured above - laptop in lap, baby by my side. He's itching for a change of venue however, so I must be off ...

But thanks so much for stopping by and joining me in my "library." I do hope you'll come again! In fact, I am planning to host a Spring Tea here later this month, so please keep your eyes peeled for your invitation!

And have yourselves a lovely Friday! See you here again very soon ...

Baby's Morningtime ~ A CD Giveaway!

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Good Thursday morning, my friends!

I am especially excited to offer this giveaway, because this CD is just so precious to me. And now I have an extra to share so I'd love to offer it to one of my readers ... please read on if you're interested!

The lovely artwork above is from the front case of Baby's Morningtime ... a collection of 26 poems and nursery rhymes set to music, and sung by Judy Collins. This CD has such a special place in my heart - I can't believe I forgot all about it! I've listened to it so many times if I hear one song I know immediately what comes next. Of our many, many "children's cd's" this is by far my favorite.

(Have I gushed enough, lol?)

But see, what happened was ... one of those sweet songs popped into my head the other day ...

♫ "Will there really be a morning? Is there such a thing as day? Could I see it from the mountains, if I were as tall as they?" ♫

... and I suddenly thought, "Where on earth is that CD?" It's been years since I've played it, or even seen it, but when my older boys were babies (particularly, Crackerjack and Earlybird) it was a big part of our day. And I thought, my goodness, Little Bear would love it, too!

So I started looking, but between the years passed and our move last summer, I just couldn't find it ... so I checked Amazon and was oh-so-relieved to find they had a few copies in stock. A couple of clicks later, and I had a fresh CD on its way. (They make that too easy, don't they?) But then a couple of days later, Bill finally found the original copy! So - sweet serendipity! - I now have a CD to pass on to somebody else!

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(My original CD is on the right  - note the cracked case! - and the new CD is on the left, still wrapped in its packaging, and now with a lighter design.)


Ok, so! If you'd like to enter my Baby's Morningtime CD giveaway, please leave a comment below, answering the following question:

Are you a morning person? Y or N?

(Feel free to expand on your answer!)


Also ... please feel free to answer my question even if you don't want to enter the giveaway ... just let me know in your comment. For the record, and this comes as no surprise, I'm sure ... I am very much a morning person. And not just because my kids get me up crazy-early ... I've always liked getting a dawn-ish start on the day. :) Except for perhaps, during college ... I remember a good ol' lie-in once or twice back in the day. ;)

So on Monday morning (just before a new "Kitchen Chat" posts) I will announce a randomly drawn winner ... so stay tuned, and good luck!


And to everyone who stops by here, I thank you - for your time and attention and your words if you care to share them. Here's hoping your day's a good one, however early it started!

Be back again very soon ...

Family Nature Connections

Nature pyramid 

Oh my friends, I have Spring on the brain! I saw this neat graphic on Facebook yesterday (via Richard Louv) and wanted to share it here. I think it's a wonderful framework for a family nature "curriculum" ... sounds very do-able.

Daily fresh air and exercise/play ...

Weekly nature walks/study/garden care ...

Monthly park visits/picnics ...

Yearly family adventure!

I have started some notes on sharing the wonders of nature with Little Bear ... it's been many years since I've had a baby in our nature study loop ... and as you can imagine, I'm all kinds of excited about that! I'll post my early spring baby notes later this week.

But right now, I'm going to bundle up the little guy and walk down to get the paper ... it's gray and chilly here this morning and a rainstorm's on its way, so if we're going to get our "daily fresh air" we'd best do it now!

Hope you all enjoy your Wednesday ... see you here again very soon!


Nature Notes, YouTube & Long Lost CDs!

(How's that for a mixed bag?)

Well, good Tuesday morning, my friends! I hope your week's going well ...

First order of business ... Nature Notes! Remember that little log I used to keep on my sidebar over there on the left, just beneath my picture? Well, I'm going to start those back up again, now that Spring is coming and we have a new property to explore. Look for that sidebar list to reappear sometime later today (roundabouts naptime, lol).

Here's a little preview though, a happy sight this morning:

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Secondly ... are you all aware that Susan Branch (of blog and books fame) has a YouTube channel? Oh my goodness, what fun!! Bill has a way of playing YouTube videos on our bedroom TV, and we watch together in the evening - after supper when Earlybird has gone to bed and Little Bear is on his way ... I'm cozied up on the bed with my laptop and Bill is rocking LB on his shoulder. Lately we've been watching British realty shows and electric car videos, but tonight he found the SB channel for me and ... I was just ... ENTHRALLED.

O watching susan branch

(So was Little Bear!)

SB has all these short videos posted - little vignettes she narrates, showing us her home and beautiful surroundings. Making sugared pecans, collecting bittersweet, sharing favorite mugs and angel chimes at Christmas ...  and her trip to England!! If you are a fan of Ms. Branch, you will absolutely love watching these videos, I promise. They really bring her books to life. 

I took a picture of this scene just to show you what I mean ... 

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This video was entitled, "Petals." So lovely.

Over the years I've had folks ask if I might consider doing YouTube, but I've never really seen how that would work. Watching these videos last night, though has opened my eyes. Not that I'd have even a fraction of what SB has to offer, but I can see how fun it would be to show "in person" some of the things I try to share through photos and words. I'll have to think on this one a bit more, but with Bill's help I think I could do it ... so stay tuned!

And finally, I am so excited this morning because I just found a long-lost, much beloved CD of baby music and I can't wait to play it for Little Bear! I'm actually listening to it right now on my laptop, as I just uploaded (downloaded?) it to my iTunes ... and oh, the memories! I listened to this disc over and over and OVER with my babies and it is such a sweet reminder of baby-days-bliss. I thought this CD was lost, so just the other day I ordered a new copy - and then this morning I found the original! How funny ... but I bet you know what that means ... I'm going to do a giveaway!! I will post all the details very soon, but it will be such fun!


Ok my friends, that's all I have for now ... Little Bear's morning nap is ending (as the noises from the monitor suggest) and lunchtime is nearing ... but I'll be back again soon! As always, thanks so much for stopping by and have yourselves a great day ...

Blessings to you and your loved ones!

Kitchen Chat, Week Two: Menu Planning

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Good Monday morning, my friends ... I hope this post finds you well!

Welcome to week two of Kitchen Chat! I have a fresh pot of coffee waiting - as well as a hot pot of tea - so please pick your poison and pull up a chair. Care for a warm slice of banana bread?


This week's topic of discussion is menu planning, and that's just a huge area to explore, but here's what I want to know ...

What are your feelings on menu planning - is it something you do (or avoid), and if so, do you enjoy it? Or does it drive you crazy, and how so?

What works well for you? What confounds your menu planning?

Do you find any websites or books helpful? (Please name names.)

What's on your menu plan this week?


Menu planning

I do try to menu plan as much as possible - I love to be as organized as I can, especially in areas that directly affect my everyday life. A neatly arranged linen closet is wonderful, but at the end of the day it doesn't contribute to my well-being. Having my family's meals figured out and ready to go? Now that makes me (and them) happy. :)

I've talked about menu planning in the past (archives here and here) but I think menu planning is one of those things that we can hash out repeatedly. I'm always looking for new ideas - trying to do it better or make it simpler and shake things up now and again. Because goodness knows, my meal plans get tiresome!

So my overall feeling about menu planning is - it interests me (absorbs me, even) but it also drives me crazy because it's hard to keep on top of it. If I don't devote adequate time to menu planning, it all goes awry and then the kids are asking me what's for supper and I just have no idea. Or I'm spending way too much money on take out and/or ignoring good food in the fridge, which will soon evolve into science experiments.

I'd say time constraints confound my meal planning most of all (not taking or having the time to put thought and energy into it), whereas what I've found to work well is ...

1. Having a dinner plan in place before shopping (thereby shopping for items that will make dinner-making easier and more efficient). At least one week planned is a hope, but a whole month is a goal. (And having a list of my family's favorite/regular meals to work from is also helpful.)

2. Coordinating with our calendar as I write out the week's menus. I can see what nights somebody might be out or late coming home - what nights are better for more time-consuming meals vs. nights that demand something simple. And of course, any seasonal or holiday events that dictate a special meal.

3. Having a well-stocked pantry, fridge & freezer - for obvious reasons. This might be a topic for a whole separate post.

4. I think that's it.


Websites - I love the Taste and Tell blog as well as - they both feature really fantastic seasonal and holiday recipes. I don't do Pinterest (yet), but I have "liked" a lot of food-related pages on Facebook, and get a lot of recipe ideas in my news feed. And of course, there are my magazines - by their very nature they are great for seasonal ideas.

 And finally, my menu plan this week:

Monday: turkey kielbasa with roasted potatoes/carrots/peppers/onions 

Tuesday: homemade pizzas, vegs & ranch dip

Wedesday: grilled panini (cheese/turkey or ham) and squash soup

Thursday: TBA

Friday: cheese ravioli, lemon-butter broccoli and parsnip pie

Saturday: chicken caesar kabobs, ice cream & raspberry sauce

Sunday: Irish Brunch - still working on menu!


So there is my take on menu planning, my friends ... I'd love to hear yours! I think there is much more I could say, so I will probably jump into the comments when and as I can.

Remember - in addition to leaving your thoughts here, you are welcome to use my Kitchen Chat button (generously dontated by the lovely Divina!) and link back here from your own blog. Perhaps you'd like to do a post of your own? Maybe you've written about menu planning in the past? Any way you want to share, I'm all ears!

In the meantime, have yourselves a good Monday, and thanks so much for stopping by! I'll see you here again very soon ...