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April 2015

File Crate System: Refreshed & Ready to Go!

Fixing File Crate 1

Happy Tuesday, my friends! I hope your week is going well ...

I have a quick post to share today - just a glimpse of my file crate all spiffed up for the spring. :) But what has me really tickled this morning is I just figured out how to add "text"  or "talk bubbles" to my photos! Lol, I've only been blogging, what - nine years now? - and finally figured out how to do this!

Anyhow, it's been a while since we talked "file folders," and though I have been using mine, it's been somewhat neglected ... sitting out in a corner of the living room on a desk I'm never at ... so I decided to move it front and center on the kitchen counter where i do most of my work. I also just added new folders for the coming year and got them all written out and it just all looks so pretty (I think anyway ...).

Fixing File Crate 4

(Aren't those talk bubbles neat?)

I use plain manila folders and hanging folders in a "recycled" brown shade. Each hanging folder holds one season (two months) worth of folders. Generally, that's about eight or nine folders.

Fixing File Crate 2

I found a really neat washi tape with a "date" stamp that works well here! And it lifts easily so I could most likely reuse these folders next year. I also used another tape that has the months printed in rainbow colors - this works well, too. In each hanging folder there is first, a folder for general seasonal things - clippings, printouts and planning pages - and then come the individual weekly folders.

I park the crate itself (a plain plastic bin I bought at Staples) right on my kitchen counter, in front of my work station. It's a bit of clutter, yes - but I can move it very easily somewhere else if needed. I will do a separate post about the rest of this work area - which currently includes a master planning binder, my reading pile, a bills basket and ... a calendar ... or maybe two.

I'm having a bit of a calendar crisis which I need to hash out with you all, lol.

Fixing File Crate 3

I have my main planning calendar in my binder (shown above) but there is also the one hanging on front of the file crate ... and the one hanging on the kitchen wall ... and the one sitting on the counter NEXT to my binder .... sigh. I'm hopeless, lol!

Ok, this is all I have time for now and I do apologize (yet again) that I am so slow at posting these days. I honestly think about this blog and all of you all the time ... but free time just does not materialize on most days! I know I don't have to tell you all this - and I know you all are in the same boat, lol! Busy people we all are - busy with the important things, first and foremost - our families! I will never not blog though, so even when it's been a bit of time, please know I will be back! I'm also trying to devote time each week (if not each day) to writing that book I'm always talking about ... and I've toyed with the idea of taking a blog hiatus while I do that ... but! I think instead I will just try to post on occasion, as I can, and put more of my writing time and energy into the "book" project. Because as much as I like to imagine it might - it's not going to write itself, lol!

As always, I thank you for your patience and understanding ... and for reading! Always, for reading ... and please leave a comment if you have time! Are you using a file crate these days? How is it working for you?

Looking forward to catching up again soon ... take care and be blessed! 

Scenes of Spring ...

Happy Monday, my friends! I hope your week is off to a great start. :)

Are you enjoying the unfolding of Spring as much as I am? Oh my goodness, it's just one happy surprise after another ... and yet there's such a comforting sense of familiarity as well. This is what I love about the seasons ... there's so much joy to be found on so many levels! I've been out and about taking pictures like crazy (with my phone, that is - unfortunately my camera is on the fritz) and I'd like to share them this morning if I may ... 

Purple and white crocus

Prettiest little crocus I've ever seen - love how these tough little blossoms push their way through all manner of leaf litter and rocky soil.

Forsythia joy 1

Forsythia branches for the nature shelf ... they keep getting moved as Oliver (the cat) keeps finding them and knocking them over.

Flower books

 Some inspiring library books - we're planting lots of flowers this year!

Grunt 2

Remember that lovely rhubarb I showed you last week? I finally got around to using it on Sunday ... Bill was outside chopping wood (a felled tree to make way for an apple orchard!) and I had soup simmering on the stove ... the boys were all around the house and the windows were open and it all felt so homey and good. Just as a Sunday should. :)

Felling trees 3

Bill had lots of helpers once the "felling" part was over. :) And I'm busy googling "things to do with fallen trees and branches" on Pinterest. Can't let all that good wood go to waste!

Light it up blue

 This is our blue light for the month of April (Autism Awareness) ...

Bunny chocolate

This is Mama's Easter chocolate, because it's white. :) I finally succumbed to temptation and had a few nibbles with my tea ...

Spring pajamas

Remember those "pretty spring pajamas" I mentioned in relation to the washing machine fiasco earlier this month? Well thankfully they made it out in one piece, and surprisingly none the worse for wear. I love them so much - the print is called, "Dawn Floral." :)

Ducks 2

Final photo - we had a lovely sunrise visit from a pair of mallards the other morning! The Mrs. was quite brave and waddled about the yard while the Mr. enjoyed the temporary vernal pond in our front woods. I rushed from window-to-window snapping pictures and I think I startled her because she very suddenly ran back towards the pond and the pair of them took off into the sunrise ...

Well my friends, I must be off, but I hope to see you here again in a few days. I'll try to have a housekeeping post up later this week ... or maybe a file crate post as I'm working on the new folders right now ... or perhaps something for Earth Day, St. George's Day or Arbor Day? :)

So please stay tuned!

And thanks so much for stopping by ~ Blessings on your day!

Happy 4th Birthday, Archie & Oliver!

Four days ago, my friends, our (four-legged) boys turned four years old! :)

I thought I'd share some silly-sweet pics I took yesterday ... they are both doing well and enjoying the spring just as we are. Noses pressed to window screens sniffing that warm fresh air, eyes glued to the birds and critters at the feeders ...

Archie purring

 This is Archie on my lap, purring away if you can't tell. :)

Oliver close up

And here's Oliver, our extra-fluffy boy!


I hope you are all enjoying your week! It's been beautiful here ... bright, warm and breezy ... and we're soaking up every blessed moment!

See you here again very soon ...

Finally ... SPRING

 A few pictures from our Saturday, the springiest day we've had yet!

Rhubarb 1

Fresh rhubarb I found at the market! I can't wait to turn it into this.

Seeds 1

Garden seeds purchased at the local agricultural co-op. I am especially excited for the pickling cukes, mini pumpkins and the lovely lupines!

Mrs meyers apple

A new hand soap for my kitchen sink - Mrs. Meyer's newest scent: Apple. Heavenly!

O and daddy out in yard

Bill had the boys out in the yard today - which is nearly snow-free - to start the cleanup. Little Bear is just getting over a nasty virus (high fever, runny nose) but he was loving the fresh air ... and the plentiful "sticks."

Purple crocus

Beautiful purple crocus growing out back.

Washi tape rainbow

A rainbow of wash tape! (For my new file crate folders!)

Daffodils under log bench

Daffodil shoots growing beneath our log-bench ...

Vernal pool 1

Our vernal pool out front ... pretty soon it will be peeping!

Hummingbird nest

I found a bird's nest underneath a bush, lying on the ground. It has a unique shape - kind of high on the sides with a fairly small hole. Nothing inside at all ... might have been a dummy nest but clearly deserted. I was very happy to place it in my birthday cloche ...

And so begins a new year of nature study ... 


Some of you on Facebook saw my post this morning about my sunrise walk with Earlybird. Truly, it was magical. The day was just getting light and the sun was glowing warmly behind the woods ... we could hear so many songbirds! And ducks ... crows ... geese ... a woodpecker! It was a lovely way to start our day and I felt such a reconnection with the world. I did enjoy the long, snowy Winter (honestly!) but goodness, I am ready for Spring!

Dear friends, I hope you are all having a nice weekend - wherever you are and whatever your weather. Another nice day on tap for us tomorrow - and by Monday it will be 70!

Thanks so much for stopping by ... see you here again very soon!

Cozy Corners: Laundry Closet

A project in progress!

New laundry set up


The units above were just installed, but we are planning to re-do this laundry closet - spruce things up a bit and make it more efficient for the head washerwoman. (Aka, moi.) But it's been a bit of a funny story, getting these new units in place ...

What happened was, a few weeks ago I was running a wash when we suddenly noticed a strong odor from the basement. Kind of chemical-y, definitely burn-y. Well, we determined it was the washing machine and that the motor had burnt out. Both the washing machine and dryer had been here since we moved in (no idea when the previous owners purchased them) and were quite inefficient. Our clothes were never quite cleaned thoroughly (sometimes they plain smelled funky) and the energy drain was awful, too.

Moral of the story: it was high time to buy a new washer-dryer set!

So research ensued and we decided on Samsung, front-loading units - and last week, Holy Thursday to be exact, they were installed. I ran my first wash - a laundry comprised of Little Bear's baby things and my brand new pair of (very pretty) spring pajamas ... 

Some time later I went back downstairs to see if the wash was done ... and it was stopped so I assumed it was. I opened it up and realized it was still soaking wet! So I closed it back up and tried to start a spin cycle ... only everything just locked up! And then it stayed that way ...

So here we had a soaking wet wash locked in the washing machine and nothing we did seemed to budge the situation one way or another. We called Samsung (the manufacturer) ... and they had us call Best Buy (the installers) ... and we finally got a repair appointment to come ...



Mind you, this was but a few days before Easter ... and I had table linens to wash! Not to mention Easter outfits and the usual array of dirty laundry a houseful of people creates. And meanwhile, that wash - the one with all those tender little clothes (and my brand new pajamas) - just sat in that broken machine.

Sopping wet. 

Anyhoo, I'm rambling on, and this is becoming another one of my long stories, but on Wednesday of this week the repairman came and opened the unit for us - informing us a defective sensor was at fault. Not in transport or installation or use, but right at the point of manufacture. Thankfully the clothes - though wet and a bit smelly - were not awful.

So fast-forward to yesterday, when a new unit was delivered and installed and I am happy to say it is working beautifully! I've run several loads and I am very pleased with the way the machines are cleaning our clothes! And that original (smelly) wash? It washed up just fine and does not smell at all - except for a slight hint of lemon ...


 I must pause here to express my gratitude to my dear mother who went above and beyond doing laundry for us while this whole fiasco unfolded. And by that I mean, LOTS of laundry. (You never realize how much dirty laundry you create until you have to load it up and hand it over to someone else!)

So the picture above shows you another cozy corner in my home - the laundry closet which is in the lower level - near the bottom of the stairs and mudroom - and a stone's throw from the "man cave," lol. I was so happy when we first toured this house because it was such a nice little spot. Not huge, but efficient - with doors that close the whole zone off entirely. Those wire racks were there too (we removed the lower one to make room for the taller units). 

We'd like to re-do this laundry "room" a bit by painting the walls a soft blue/green (that says "clean and fresh" to me) and installing some better shelving or perhaps cabinets. The "pedestal" drawers in the bottom of the units are wonderful storage areas - for detergents and the like - but since I have a toddler in the house we'll use them to store something non-toxic for now.

So please stay tuned for more laundry-themed posts! I'll keep you posted on our progress. :) I will also be organizing my laundering materials - the products we use (homemade is a goal!) and any equipment like an iron and folding table, bins/baskets etc.

(Perhaps an old-fashioned, outdoor drying line?)

I hope you'll be willing to share your laundry routines (and secrets?) as well!


Well my friends, I'll be off now ... but I wish you all Happy Friday and a very pleasant weekend ahead. We are beside ourselves with excitement here in New England because our forecast calls for several days of sunshine and temps in the 60s, near 70!

See you here again very soon ...

Housekeeping Calendar Q & A

  Cards q and a 1

Oh, my friends - this post has taken me so long to compose! I see my draft was originally started on March 5th! But let's talk about those cleaning cards, shall we? I currently have a crayon-wielding toddler climbing up my back but I should be able to type while he climbs ...


Now, I must admit, I sort of fell off the "cleaning cards wagon" back around Easter - not that I wasn't cleaning furiously for the holiday, but not at all according to my cards. I'm happy to say, however, I'm right back on track - in spirit if not yet totally in practice. And I still feel this system can and will work well for me. 

So I want to share this week's cards with you (and later, my master lists) and talk about the concept of "off weeks," but first I want to address some questions that were posted a while back ...

First question, from Leah:

Q. Did you write out the whole year's worth at once?

I am working on it, Leah! I would really like to have them all filled out ahead of time because it bodes better for me down the line. Firstly, I like the commitment of it - if they're all done ahead then I'm less likely to give up on them. Goodness knows I might fall off the wagon on occasion, but if the cards are already written out then they're available for me to use whenever I'm ready to climb back on that wagon. I'd like to think I will become devoted to my calendar, but I'm only human - and a human mother of four boys at that! But I know if I do get away from it, I'm much less likely to get back on track if I have to stop and write out cards first.

(Am I talking in circles, lol? I feel like my blogging "skills" are a bit rusty ...)

Q. And, assuming the tasks are the same next year, do you plan to rotate through the same stack again?

Well, yes - that's my plan, though I feel like I'm getting ahead of myself by saying that! But that's the heart of the matter, isn't it? Housekeeping is neverending - by its very nature it needs to be repetitive to be efficient. The tasks are all pretty basic but I may tweak things as I go along. Some tasks may not need to be done as often as I think while others may actually need more frequency.

Q. Do you keep a master list somewhere other than in the cards now that you are done?

Yes, I have master lists for all tasks, broken down by room/zone and frequency. (Discussed in this post.) The post-it note grid I made on posterboard has been transferred to paper as well - as a set of schedules (first week of the month, second week of the month and so forth). I keep those in my planning binder and use them to write out the cards as I move forward on the calendar.

Q. Do you have your basic daily chores (dishes, etc.) as a part of this system? 

Leah, daily chores are separate for now. I have a post-it note checklist in my master planner-binder (see below) that I use for marking off daily tasks as the day goes along. I use a new post-it note each week. It is absolutely low-tech, lol - but it works! It has occurred to me though, that I could list my daily chores on the back of each cleaning card ... I like that idea a lot, but that would mean even more time and energy put into creating the cards.

Rd q and a 2

(Note: as we discussed in an earlier post, this cleaning calendar is reminiscent of the system designed by Pam Young and Peggy Jones - aka the "Slob Sisters" - many years ago. Index cards are really indispensable when it comes to organizing tasks!)

So now for a question from Sue:

Q. I, too, tried Pam and Peggy's system, but found myself constantly refiling cards for tasks that did not get done. So, what if you do some but not all of the tasks on the card for that day?

Sue, this calendar is very much a work-in-progress and I am finding that many days I just can't get to all the tasks. It's still better than before when I wasn't even aware of whatall I should be doing! That said, if a task doesn't get done, typically I let it go until the next week (or next month). If it's a task that is assigned only a couple of times a year, however - for example: clean out bureau drawers - I try to fit it in somewhere, sometime soon. Typically his means pushing it onto the weekend ... where I hope with the assistance of other family members, it might get done.

So this bring up a thing I've been wanting to blog about for a while now, but have yet to mention. Bill set up the board shown below a while back ... It's called a "scrum board" based on a book/system he and his team are employing at the office.

Scrum board

(I don't think they use floral Washi tape on their board, however.)

We use this board to get a handle on what needs to be done - who's doing it and how tasks are progressing. On the weekend, we discuss (as a family, ideally with boys present) what we want/need to get done. We write each action/idea on a post it note - assign importance (low, medium or high) - and stick it up in the TO DO column. Then we all work together to make these things happen - either doing the task itself or supporting the person doing it. As tasks are in progress, the note gets moved to "DOING" and then finally, to "DONE!"

This is basically a "master to do list" but I have added some cleaning calendar tasks to the board - tasks I don't want to go undone and hope to get to at some point, assisted by my family. 

 (More on the scrum board in a future post!)

 Now, before I go, I just want to mention another thing: "off weeks" in the cleaning calendar. The calendar I designed is set up as a four week cycle; the 1st week of the month has its set of tasks - as does the 2nd, 3rd and 4th. As no month is exactly four weeks long, this system will get off balance. So I decided I will take "off weeks" on occasion. These weeks will coincide with holidays and vacations. Holy Week was one such week.


July 27th-August 2nd (vacation/summer project?)

November 23rd-29th (Thanksgiving week)

December 21st-27th (Christmas week)


March 21st-March 27th (Holy Week)

July 4th-July 10th (vacation/summer project)

September 5th-September 11th (1st week of school)

November 21st-November 27th (Thanksgiving week)

December 19-December 25th (Christmas week)


Well, this post has gone on rather long now, so I will stop here and in my next post (up on Friday, I hope) I will share a week's worth of cards with you all.


Ok my friends, wishing you all a pleasant mid-week and thanks so much for stopping by! Please let me know if you have any questions - about this topic, or anything, really. As always, I will do my very best to answer ...

Once I get the crayon-weilding, mama-climbig toddler down for his nap. ;)

See you here again very soon!


Easter Weekend Photos ...

Happy Monday, my friends! I hope you all had a wonderful weekend! And to my friends who celebrate - Alleluia! Wishing you all of Easter's bright blessings! I am so happy this new season is here ...

We had a very nice Sunday, starting with - well, baskets, natch - then, early Mass (oh, that light coming in through the stained glass windows ...), followed by an afternoon gathering of family here at our house. We usually have quite a crowd, but for various reasons, our group was a bit smaller this year. We missed those who couldn't be with us, while relishing the time spent with those who could. It was such a lovely day and I have some photos I'd like to share with you all ... :)

Easter 2015 11

The boys' baskets all ready for the Bunny, as light waned on Easter eve ...

Easter 2015 15

My pretty birthday cloche filled with Easter grass and chocolates ...

Easter 2015 45

Festive flora! I always light this garland on Easter eve as the boys head off to bed ...

Easter 2015 46

Pretty flowers awaiting vases ...

Easter 2015 47

Eggs awaiting color!

Easter 2015 48

 I had truly meant to try natural egg dyes this year - bought the cabbage, beets, and onion skins and all - but time got pressing and thankfully, I had a PAAS package on hand!

Good ole PAAS, lol.

Easter 2015 43

My Earlybird (13) was a big help with the centerpieces (I cut, he "arranged") ...

Easter 2015 14

And the baking, of course! This was the beginnings of an orange pound cake made with fresh orange zest!

Here are the tables set up for eleven ...

 Easter 2015 19

And a close up of the main table centerpiece ... I mixed blue and white dishes, old family favorites. :)

Easter 2015 30

This brass crucifix was made by my great-great grandfather. I typically have it in a place of honor, but I've never thought to use it on my Easter table!

These jellybean-filled glass globes were also part of the table setting ...

Easter 2015 31

(Tiny tealights blessed at Candlemas!)

Easter 2015 44

I love this cross-section of basket goodies - very telling of my boys' ages .. from candy and Tolkien to finger puppets and Scarry!

Easter 2015 2

Little Bear had an early nap so was a bit disgruntled to wake to a house full of people.

(That is my new Easter blouse - funny how it is when you order something online and it is NOTHING like it looked in the catalog, lol ... but still. I loved the colors and it was quite comfortable.)

Easter 2015 16

Here's my veggie basket - a la Pioneer Woman - basket on loan from Mum. :) The dip was meant to be served in a hollowed-out red cabbage but alas, my "fiddling" time ran out.

And here's the dessert & punch table ... I love to serve desserts in our living room.

Easter 2015 35

Non-alcoholic strawberry-lemonade punch, rhubarb pie, orange pound cake (served with whipped cream, not shown), chocolate cupcakes and fresh fruit salad. Plenty of assorted candies, too!

Easter 2015 50

I simply cannot have a party without punch!

Easter 2015 49 

I used Gram's Irish china for coffee ... and placed some jaunty daffodils in a pretty white pitcher. My paternal grandmother made the white cabbage vase in a ceramics class. :)

Easter 2015 36

I love these sweet little cupcakes made by my mother ... EB can have them (he pulls the carrot candy off first) and they are SO delicious!

Easter 2015 21

Every holiday has its signature cocktail, of course! This year I wanted to use our pretty cosmo glasses and I loved the "spring-sky" shade of these "Tiffany Blue Cosmopolitans."

I set this table up in the sunroom as a place for drinks and appetizers. This was early on before it filled up ... there was artichoke dip and the aforementioned veggie basket, as well as hummus and pita, sweet grapes and goat cheese and assorted crispy, crunchy things.

Easter 2015 51

(Yes, we still have snow ... but it was a nice day, all in all. No rain (or snow!) to speak of and mostly sunny skies. Almost, but not quite, 50 degrees.)

Easter 2015 53

Main dishes were served from the kitchen ... we had baked ham and beef pie, mashed potatoes, roasted asparagus, baked beans, parmesan peas, soft rolls and deviled eggs. Homey fare, typical of New England holidays. :)

And here is (some of) my dear family, gathered 'round in our dining room. (Earlybird was camera shy!)

Easter 2015 9

 My cousin Kate (LB's godmother), Auntie Marcia, Dad and Mum ...

Easter 2015 5

Bookworm (19) and Crackerjack (15) ...

Easter 2015 8

 Little Bear on my lap (22 mos.) with Manuel and Kara (my cousin and EB's godmother) ...

And finally, the man behind the camera for most of the day - finally getting to sit down and have his cupcake! 

Easter 2015 39

What a blessing it is to spend a day like this with those we love ...

My friends, thank you so much for stopping by and sharing in our joy! I hope you all had wonderful Easter ... and I'd love to hear about your day if you'd care to leave a comment! I love hearing how families across the country (and world!) celebrate treasured days like this. For now though, I wish you all a very pleasant evening and a happy day tomorrow, too ...

I will see you here again very soon!

It's a Week of Changes ...

A change of the calendar ...

April calendar SB

Rabbit, rabbit! :)

A change underfoot ...

Crocus shoots 

Signs of life, at last!

And a change in season, come Sunday!

Easter card 1


My friends, I know I haven't been blogging as often as I used to, but I wanted to let you know I am going to take the next several days off for the end of Holy Week and the Easter holiday. I will be back next week for certain ... in the meantime, I am wishing you all a most beautiful and blessed Easter! I hope you have a wonderful weekend with your family and friends!

See you here again very soon ...