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February 2016

Themes & Plans for March (updated!)


{Happy Monday, my friends - and Happy Leap Year, too! I have started the process of updating my old Themes & Plans series (eight years old and in need of some pruning!) and I thought I would start with March since that month begins TOMORROW! So I'm fixing broken links, adding new ones, and correcting dates to correspond to 2016 ... I hope you find these posts useful or at the very least provide something happy to read. 😊} 

March brings breezes loud and shrill, stirs the dancing daffodil ...

So tell me friends, how will March greet you this year? As a LION or a LAMB? Or perhaps somewhere in between? Pansyegg_2

Here in New England we've enjoyed a relatively mild Winter and this week looks to follow a similar pattern. Tomorrow (March 1st) is forecast to be sunny and 50° - not too lion-ish I'd say!

Though Old March can be fickle - chilly and gray one day, mild and bright the next - he brings with him Spring's first tender tidings - a soft breeze, a few bits of green, and the stirring of hope in our hearts. And so, with faith in Spring's return, I offer you some ...

~ Themes and Plans for March (PDF) ~ 


  • a quiet gray landscape, awaiting its green garb
  • the old March wind arrives to blow winter away
  • blackbirds returning (that squeaky gate sound)
  • drip, drip, drip - melting underway
  • pussywillows along the riverbank
  • mud, mud and more mud!
  • potholes that will eat your car in one gulp
  • forsythia blushing yellow
  • little pots of shamrocks at the grocer's
  • The Full Sap (or Worm) Moon (23)
  • migrating salamanders on mild, wet nights
  • robins hopping in the yard
  • maple sugaring in the woods
  • the first colorful crocus, tiny jonquils, too ...
  • the sun gains warmth; the days lengthen
  • skunk cabbage in wetland areas
  • fox sparrows passing through
  • lambing time at the farm
  • a surprise snowstorm is not out of the question ... ?


  • March gem: aquamarine
  • March flower: jonquil
  • March comes in like a lion, goes out like a lamb.


  • potatoes
  • carrots
  • turnip
  • radishes
  • spring onions
  • early rhubarb
  • leeks
  • meatless Lenten Fridays
  • egg custards
  • maple syrup
  • shamrock shakes
  • Girl Scout cookies
  • corned beef and cabbage
  • Irish soda bread
  • Irish coffee
  • oatmeal scones
  • sloppy joes
  • donuts for St. Joseph
  • fig tarts on Palm Sunday
  • Hot Cross Buns on Good Friday
  • cheesecake
  • ricotta pie
  • lamb cake
  • baked ham


  • Month of St. Joseph
  • Liturgical seasons:
    • Lent
    • Eastertide
  • St. David (1)
  • Laetare Sunday (6)
  • St. Patrick (17)
  • St. Joseph (19) 
  • Holy Week:
    • Palm Sunday (20)
    • Holy Monday (21)
    • Holy Tuesday (22)
    • Spy Wednesday (23)
    • Holy Thursday (24)
    • Good Friday (25)
    • Holy Saturday/Easter Vigil (26)
    • Easter Sunday (27)


  • Rake winter debris from yard.
  • Sweep porches, doorsteps, decks and driveways.
  • Inspect yard and home exterior for winter damage.
  • Clean birdfeeders thoroughly.
  • Plan garden plots.
  • Start seeds indoors.
  • Arrange for mulch delivery.
  • Purchase fresh sandbox sand.
  • Put windowboxes up; fill with hardy pansies!
  • Launder spring bedding.
  • Plan Easter dinner.
  • Order ham.
  • Order basket goodies.
  • Buy Easter lilies at the nursery.
  • Organize Easter clothes.
  • Shampoo rugs.
  • Take down storms; hang screens.
  • Wash windows
  • Polish woodwork with beeswax.
  • Re-stock craft supplies for the spring.
  • Organize rainy day play gear.
  • Start planning summer vacation time.


  • National Craft Month
  • National Hobby Month
  • American Red Cross Month
  • National Nutrition Month
  • Irish-American Heritage Month
  • National Umbrella Month
  • March Madness
  • Peanut Butter Lovers Day (1)
  • Dr. Seuss's birthday (2)
  • Alexander Graham Bell's birthday (3)
  • Antonio Vivaldi's birthday (4)
  • Elizabeth Barrett Browning's birthday (6)
  • National Mario Day (10)
  • Daylight Savings Time begins (13)
  • Uranus discovered (13)
  • National Pi Day (14)
  • Albert Einstein's birthday (14)
  • The Ides of March (15)
  • Return of the Swallows to San Juan Capistrano (19)
  • National Agriculture Day (20)
  • First Day of Spring (20)
  • National Waffle Day (25)
  • Make up Your Own Holiday Day (26)

Book Basket

Field Trips & Outings

  • Maple sugaring demonstration
  • Visit new lambs & fresh eggs at farm
  • Children's Passion Play at church
  • Museum of Science: Planetarium

Crafts & Activities

Crocus clipart

Now, I'd like to clarify that my family will not be observing each and every one of these March ideas! (Who ever could?!) But having them in mind - and even better, on paper - is a big help when I'm trying to weave a little seasonal awareness, organization and fun into our family life! I like to sit down once a month (usually the second to last weekend) to do a little planning ahead on the seasonal front. I make it part of my weekend "office hours." :) It might seem silly to work "seasonal planning" into an already busy family schedule, but honestly - if I didn't, it's unlikely I'd remember or even try to fit it in!

Well my friends, I've rambled long enough ... thanks so much for stopping by and I hope your March is just lovely, whether wild or mild!

P.S. I wasn't on Pinterest back when I first wrote this post in 2008 - maybe it didn't even exist yet? - but I now have boards for "storing" seasonal ideas such as the ones linked above. I will go through these links to be sure the are still valid and then add them to my March & April board.)

A Fresh Start: Early Spring Planning (Printables!)

Fresh start button smallMy friends, I am very sorry it has taken me so long to get these planning sheets posted! I've had them in "draft" mode for so long, and I thought I'd be able to just whip them up quickly during one good sit-down session - but that's not how it played out! So here we are on the very doorstep of Early Spring - four days left! - and I have only just finished them up. Once I post this, I will print out a fresh set for my binder. :)

So I hope the PDF links work for you, and please let me know if they don't. Here's a quick glance at the shades I chose for this season: buttery yellow, robin's egg blue and spring green. :)

A quick note on the format of the sheets ... I have provided "clean copies" so you may use them for yourself, but naturally my own sheets are personalized to match my own seasonal plans! If you look at "Dawn's Overview" you'll notice that in each weekly box I've listed several "ideas" as well as days of note. These are little writing assignments for myself - things I've blogged about before or hope to write more about this year - but I'm sharing them in case they might be of interest to you. 

Well, without further ado, here are the links - there's a planning sheet for each week of March and April as well as an Early Spring Overview and a color-coordinated sheet for "Home Learning this Week." I hope you enjoy them, and I'd love to hear what you think!

*Note: As I mentioned in my first planning printables post, the vintage images I used were found on Pinterest and to the best of my knowledge, are free for any personal use. So please keep it personal ... :)

Early Spring Overview (Dawn's)

Early Spring Overview (clean copy)

Home Learning this Week (Early Spring)

Early Spring Planning Sheet: Week 10 (2/29-3/6)

Early Spring Planning Sheet: Week 11 (3/7-3/13)

Early Spring Planning Sheet: Week 12 (3/14-3/20)

Early Spring Planning Sheet: Week 13 (3/21-3/27)

Early Spring Planning Sheet: Week 14 (3/28-4/3)

Early Spring Planning Sheet: Week 15 (4/4-4/10)

Early Spring Planning Sheet: Week 16 (4/11-4/17)

Early Spring Planning Sheet: Week 17 (4/18-4/25)

Early Spring Planning Sheet: Week 18 (4/26-5/1)


Also, here's a link to my first set of printable planning sheets: Deep Winter, 2016. I will be happy to share my Late Spring sheets (for May and June) once they're ready and hopefully that won't be quite as last minute! :)

Well my friends, that's all for now, but as always I thank you for stopping by and I hope you all enjoy the rest of your day. I appreciate that you spent a bit of it here!

See you again very soon ...

Masterpiece Monday: Downton Abbey, 6.8

DA season 6 poster

Hello my friends, and Happy Tuesday! Time for our second-to-last Downton recap!

I'm going to try a different format this time since I don't have a lot of time for condensing this morning, so here are my notes, as is, from last night's viewing - kind of a live tweeting thing, lol! I hope it makes a little BIT of sense, but I understand if it's not your cup of tea. :)


Boy, I'm going to miss these opening credits ... that soft music, the bell ringing, the dog's sweet behind. :)

Opening conversation between a strolling Cora and Edith. First thought - is this the two sisters together? But then - no way is this Mary and Edith walking together, they'd never do such a thing ... and isn't that kind of sad? I almost feel like the director started with this far away shot so we'd have this very thought. And then I paused the scene so I could stare at their parasols and dresses. (So pretty.) I can hardly believe Edith is grappling with this issue - how is there any question in her mind? Telling Bertie the truth about Marigold? There's no way she can allow such "a lie at the heart of her marriage."

Ok, here's the Sargent come to see Mrs. Patmore - and didn't I CALL IT? That was an adulterous couple staying at her inn! Oh the poor woman - her B&B labeled a house of "ill-repute" and it's been hardly open a month!

Wait a minute - who died of malaria now? Edith's beau Bertie Pelham is out of a job? Lord Hexham (the dead marquess) was his employer. Wait, he was his cousin ... ? WOW - so Bertie's the new Marquess! "Golly gumdrops, Edith would outrank us all!" crows Robert. And Mary is ... speechless. (Fuming, more like.)

Anna and Bates laughing at Mrs. P's situation (everyone's laughing) and Molesley needs time off for his classes.

Lord Merton comes to see Isobel to talk about the family issue - he thinks his daughter-in-law (to be) is a "kind and gentle soul?" Hahahaha ... he's not a very good judge of character is he? (Anyone else think of Hermione Grangier's cat when they say, "Cruikshanks?")

Anna and Mrs. Hughes still laughing over Mrs. P. ... and now Mary, too. Ok people, you've had your fun. Let's be a little sensitive to Mrs. Patmore's distress!

But Daisy got high marks! Good for her. I'm still sore over her recent poor treatment of, well, everyone, but this is a nice thing for her.

Carson was kind of ugly to Mr. Molesely abut his needing time off to teach. "What makes you think he would be good at it?" What an ass he can be! (Sorry.)

The sisters and their beaus ...  now it's going to be even harder for her (Mary) to accept marrying "down" when her younger sister will be marrying up ... way, way up.

I kind of feel like Edith should know her potential betrothed well enough to trust that he will be accepting of Marigold. How well do they know each other anyway? She doesn't know his family. She's so concerned that any outcome will be "regrettable" and I think we all can see the writing on the wall. Mary will confirm her suspicions of Marigold's parentage and use the "secret" to ruin her sister's chance at such happiness.

Best line of the night goes to Robert: "Poor old Edith who couldn't get her dolls to do as she wanted."

(OH, I laughed so hard over this!)

Mary and Tom out "agenting" and she seems distracted - is she mulling over Henry or Edith? Or both? In conversation with Tom, and ... ACK she finds out. Yep, now she's getting ugly. Turning on Tom. Come on now, Mary - your friendship with Tom is about all that's redeeming you these days!

(Robert and Rosamund again at each others throats. It's a sibling thing.)

We have "reason" coming back into it - Tom speaking with Mary and Rosamund speaking with Robert. But in each case "reasonable thinking" is pushed away for "the way things were done." Mary's clinging fast to the old ways.

Bertie shows up and wants Edith to accompany him to the funeral. I still don't see the rationale here ... will Edith then lie to Marigold her whole life? Allow her to think she's an orphan with no natural mother or blood relations? Won't this affect her ability to "marry well" someday? Worse than lying to Bertie is lying to Marigold, I think.

Thomas, the poor man - still no luck in his job search.  And Mr. Molesley having a harsh time of it at the school. To be fair, this is a tough age group.

Edith and Bertie are having a nice talk - she wants him to know she understands if he needs to look "higher" than her. His mother sounds like a tough biscuit. A cock-a-hoop? I think I'll refrain from googling that term.

(Note: Have the Downton grounds ever looked prettier? And again with the parasol! Must have been a mid-20s thing.)

Ooh and here comes Henry! Woo hoo! Go get her, Mr. Talbot!

Carson and Mrs. Hughes speaking with Mrs. P. - and oh come ON Carson. Making Mrs. Patmore feel worse and insinuating she wasn't being careful? He's so full of hot air - like he couldn't have made that mistake. He can be so awfully pompous. It's no wonder Mary's his favorite.

Puppet show for the children ... too funny. I'm going to sound rather Victorian and say how lovely it was that this simple kind of entertainment was all that was needed to keep children happy, once upon a time ... (And now I'm drawing up plans for a puppet theater in the library.)

Back to school now, and oh no, Mr. Molesley! He has lost complete control of the classroom! (Like we don't all see that coming.)

Oh my gosh, this is an awful scene with Mary and Tom and Henry. I don't know if he's doing the right thing with this sudden appearance or not. He's fighting for them, insisting on it ... and boy is she resisting. Ugh. I STILL like him for Mary because she needs someone like this in her life. She needs someone who doesn't give a FIG where they stand socially - he loves her, end of story. But she just hates being told what to do and feel ... and now I think she'll get nasty. Yup - the scene in her parent's dressing room? Nasty. I think we'll all hate her a bit before she redeems herself somehow ... Shame on you coming from Tom - yes! Oh boy, Tom is ticked! In the stairwell now with Henry ... oh he's being honest. "Aren't you better than that? Rather small not to marry a man for his lack of riches?" Ooh, he's hitting her where it counts - the truth! But Mary's still smarting from Tom's comments, feeling cornered ... and slash! Out come the claws!

Later, Anna nails it:

"She loves him but she can't control him. That's what frightens her. He's stronger than she is, really." 

And Bates in response:

"She's a bit of a bully, your Lady Mary."

(But there's another side to Mary and Henry sees that. That's what love does.)

Next couple. We have Edith and Bertie now, in the hallway. She: "My life is not that simple" which begs clarification, but still - the answer is yes. YES, she'll marry him ... but no mention of Marigold ...

Next morning Henry's gone. Good for him. Mary seems stunned. And now we have a very injured and downcast Mary, sensing the air of happiness about Bertie and Edith ... she's about to strike you can see it coming ...

And yes, it came ... ooh. She can be so awful. The proverbial cat's out of the bag.

Well done Mary. Now, who else can you make miserable?

Later now, and what a nice idea from Rosamunde and Cora. Great thinking, ladies! They'll do a family lunch at Mrs. Patmore's establishment thereby lending their good name and approval. Another example of how they all do truly care for each other. The upstairs and downstairs. Despite stations and class, they root for each other. (Except perhaps for the outcast, Thomas.) 

Edith and Bertie having the dreaded conversation before he gets on that train. Well we all knew what would bother him was that she wasn't honest with him - not their difference in station or her past. She didn't trust him as she should have done. And so it comes to this: he can't marry her because he can't trust her. Goodbye, we shan't meet again and Edith's off to London.

      (Please excuse the weird formatting here - I attempted to insert a vocabulary definition and the copy-paste went awry.)
      Ok, and here's Mary and now Tom is going to have it out with her. Go Tom!
      "Don't lie - not to me!" and then, "You just can't stop ruining thing for Edith and yourself!" but best of all, "You're a coward. Like all bullies you're a coward."
      (Yes - unfortunately, yes - to all this.)
      (Wait, what's going on with Thomas ... he doesn't look so well.)
      And here we have Mary and Edith's confrontation. Right! They have to have it out and BOY do they have at it! And there it is -  the B word! OH MY the b-word again! Go Edith! So much wisdom in her parting shot. Gah. That blow-up was a long time coming ...
      Mrs Patmore is summoned to the library. Whenever she or Daisy are called up in this way I'm always struck by the stark plainness of their uniforms (hair and makeup etc.) in contrast to the fancy decor and family dress.
      But I loved Cora calling out Carson ... and this, another "best line of the night" from Robert:

"Mrs. Patmore has been loyal to this house and now we must be loyal to her."

BRAVA, Robert! And God bless her, Mrs. P. is crying!

But here come more tears I fear (mine) as something bad is definitely happening with Thomas.

Baxter notices Mr. Barrow's in a funny mood. (Thank goodness someone worries for him.) Go Baxter! Get to him!

But, oh no ...

Oh my gosh, SAVE him please - Andy get help! Go get the doctor. Oh dear ... oh no. Thomas has slashed his wrists and is unconscious in the tub. I am sobbing. Thankfully it appears he will survive ... surely this will wake them all up to his despair?

Over to the school now - and Daisy is listening in to Mr. Molesley's teaching. Talking with the students - confessing his roots - clicking with them. Good stuff.  Loved Daisy's words to Mr. M. "You're a kind man Mr. Molesley. It's about time you were rewarded for you kindness."

Now Carson informs the family of Thomas's predicament, and they are all suitably affected. How very sad. Mary WAKE UP ... but nope. She's still lashing out ... at her father. Throwing about guilt because she's needing to hurt others right now.

A bit later on Mary has a kind of breakdown with Anna as she readies for bed. She looks terrible and feels worse, clearly. I think she's realizing how awful she's been and how wrong she's been. She's miserable. But apologizes to Anna who clearly, means so much to her. 

Now we have Edith with her editor, and this "Cassandra Jones" is coming for tea. But who is this secret personality? Was anyone expecting Spratt?? Lol, what a surprise! I guess looking back now we can see he was always looking at the paper and definitely had a secret to hide. But what a laugh this was. Bananas, indeed!

Mary bringing little George to visit Thomas was very sweet. And how similar these two characters have been! Lonely, angry, sad. Isn't this often the root of outwardly ugly behavior? What he said should ring very true with Mary. (Master George is so adorable.)

Now this next scene with Carson (bemoaning the adulterous situation at the B&B) and Mrs. Hughes (pointing out there have been "adulterers" upstairs) was sweet. Because Carson's crusty behavior has been tiresome, but when he asks his wife if she's gone "off" him she responds with a kiss. Because he may be a curmudgeon, but he's "her curmudgeon." This was sweet and honest. Don't we all have moments like this with our loved one? They can drive us crazy sometimes but they're ours, and true love means loving through faults. :)

(This will be an important lesson later on I think. Hello Henry and Mary and Edith and Bertie!)

And hooray, the Dowager is home! And thank goodness Grandmama is here! The conversation with Mary was so necessary. Mary breaks down and we knew this was coming - all her fears and grief over Matthew. Their love (and his loss) was enormous and left its impact. I love the respect Mary has for her grandmother, and that she (Violet) helped her (Mary) figure out her truth. She knew it - she just needed to hear it from the right person. Another "best" line from Lady Violet:

"First make peace with your sister, and then make peace with yourself."

And yay, Mr Barrow can stay! I'm glad Carson and Robert acknowledged they'd been unfair. "I didn't credit him with any feelings." Well duh, Carson. He IS human. How often we don't look past someone's outward behavior to see what is lacking inside.

So Mary has sent for Henry ... but will he come? I'm half expecting him to refuse her at this point! Honestly I think she has a bit of a nerve sending for him - she should go to him!

But first, a visit to Matthew's grave ... what a sign this series is nearing its end. What a touching scene, as Mary talks with Matthew and then Isobel. Blessings are given and the path seems open now ... we just have to hope Henry has not gone off this whole thing!

Cute scene with the Granthams at Mrs. Patmore's establishment ... right down to the paparazzi outside!

Ok, and now here's Henry. Good man. Tom excuses himself, "I've been part of this courtship for long enough." But I fear this is too easy. Will this go as Mary is hoping? Ok maybe it will .... his heart is pounding! That's a good sign, right?

And they KISS!! Yes!! And woohoo they can get married - like, tomorrow! So oh MY GOSH there's going to be a wedding! But where they heck is Edith? Oh - here she comes!

And now the sisters have the moment we've been waiting for ... apologies and confessions, and this:

"Because in the end you're my sister. And one day only we will remember Sybill or Mama or Papa or any of the people of our youth. Our shared memories will mean more than our mutual dislike."


And that's being practical and honest. I think Edith made this easier on Mary than she could have ... but to forgive is divine and so the truce has been called and it's on with the wedding!

Pretty setting (must go aback and absorb details) and Mary looks lovely. Camera panning all the pews ... and all these dear faces .. how I'll miss them!

But now we must wait to see how Edith's story turns out ...

The previews gave away nothing but there are lots of smiles, so that seems hopeful. And I was thinking - if there is a marriage for her and Bertie it's kind of nice they left it till the end ... Mary had her big wedding with Matthew, now this will be Edith's turn in the spotlight ...

We must wait two weeks (sigh) till that two hour finale (sob), but in the meantime, the "manners" show look interesting next week! :)


Well my friends, I know this was awfully long and probably quite tedious to read. I apologize I was not able to summarize things better - but time is just not mine today! (Both younger boys were up earlier than usual and there was a bit of a peanut butter incident in the kitchen ... and the hall ... and the family room ... that commanded mama's energy first thing this morning.)

I would love to hear your thoughts if you have time ... and as always, I thank you for stopping by!

See you here again very soon ...

Book Party: More Books & Nooks!

Vintage books

Happy Monday, my friends! I'm a bit behind on things, so here is the post that was meant for the weekend and tomorrow I'll report in on Downton. I will be studiously avoiding Facebook today lest I be spoiled! ;)

Now, today we will visit two friends and their own lovely book nooks ... please welcome Denise and Valerie to our party! Many thanks to both ladies for joining in the fun! Remember friends, all are welcome to share their pictures and thoughts here (via drhanigan AT gmail DOT com) and you have another week to do it! Next Monday is the Book Party deadline, and on Tuesday (March 1st) I'll announce a winner of my giveaway, a pretty little package filled with some pre-spring goodies. :)

But, without further ado, here are more books and nooks for you to peruse!


First we hear from Denise!

Dawn, What a wonderful party to host! I have enjoyed seeing the posts thus far! I wish I could just visit each one personally & peruse, visit, read, sip tea!! This is a great way to share though, and is most enjoyable!

I have always enjoyed reading, since I was a young girl. It is a favorite pastime of mine. You could say I'm addicted. My husband would definitely say I'm addicted. I suppose my favorite series as a child was The Boxcar Children series. :-) I have tried to share my love with my children, grands, nieces, nephews, great-nieces, nephews, etc! Curling up in our big chair, with a read aloud, and some of my grands around - one of my favorite things. Much harder to do now that I don't see them on a daily basis. My standard baby shower gift is: books. :-) (And baby nightgowns, boy or girl, makes night time changes so much easier!)

I have a homeschool bookshelf, it is tall and has a 'ledge' about 24" from the ground. This set up is actually a shelf that sits on a cupboard. (Homemade by a friend of my brother-in-law.) I usually have several kids' books laid out on that ledge! I put seasonal books on our table in the sitting area. I didn't take a picture of that because it is *full* of the
winter village (that will be taken down soon) that a certain, dear grandtwin girl (10) loves to play with! It is a disaster right now because I am not homeschooling this year and so I didn't do the summer clean & clear of the shelf unit!  I am procrastinating on addressing it, it seems, probably because I don't want to admit that season is over. :-)

Book party denise 1

Above is a picture of books at my bedside, this changes. The Bible remains, but other books change. :-) (The cute little snowman is supposed to be a hanging but the dowel I hang it on broke, so ...) These sit on a sewing machine (my first, at age 17) cabinet Dad built me! I love that piece!

I have a short bookshelf that is dedicated to fiction books. It is also in my bedroom, in a little nook. I have a rocking chair (my Mom's chair she used to rock her babies, and I used to rock my grands!). I pretty much stash books wherever I can. I didn't take pictures of my many stashes, the ones by my "nest" (as we shared a while ago) which changes with my current reads. I'm actually looking at flea markets (one of Mom's favorite things to do, about the only thing I get her to do these days ~smile~) for an old magazine rack, which is wooden & has a handle. Then I can put all my current reads (books, magazines, articles people give me) in it & tote it with me to wherever I want!

The shelf in my office, I have sent a picture before, I'm sure. It holds my current journals. Some favorite books, books I keep on hand to give away. As I look over at it right now it has numerous titles relating to prayer, which happens to be my Lenten focus! I need to select a couple to move out to my current stash, I see!!

Thank you for opening your blog for this wonderful party! Happy reading, friends!
~ Denise

Wonderful post, Denise! I love hearing about your book traditions and how you share your love of reading with your family. Those dear children are certainly blessed (in many ways) to have you in their lives! I smiled when I read of your flea market hunts - Bill and I adore combing through "antiques" found at flea markets. An excellent source of book displays (and books!) of all kinds. We have a great big rambling market up here in the next town over that runs from April through December ... I have quite a wish list tucked in my purse - things to "look for" when we're there. :)

Thanks so much for joining us, Denise and sharing your books and nooks with us!


And now, we'll hear from Valerie!

Hi Dawn!
You inspired me to go snap some pics with my phone. I may even tidy up!

Book party valerie 1

A favorite sight - a boy reading on the couch. These shelves were built for us by my father in law and were originally more for display, but as our book collection grew, well, you know! Among the books and photos are my dad's baby shoes and my great grandmother's Bible.

Book party valerie 2

In the same room, a rather messy book shelf - but well used! The corner cupboard was originally home to a collection of Victorian mustache cups but I'd rather let my kids play nerf basketball in that room now.

Book party valerie 3

Oh my! I can't believe I didn't tidy this one up before taking the picture. 😀 This is directly behind my desk and houses a lot of our homeschool books. (Believe me, we have more!)

Book party valerie 4

My older son's school work area on the other side of my desk. Books they use every day stay in the red baskets. 

Book party valerie 5

And lastly, a closer view of the living room shelves. Our wedding picture and me with each of my boys on the first day I was able to go out after breast cancer surgery. Reminders of God's great blessings!!
~ Valerie

Oh, Valerie, this was a fantastic post! I love all your book nooks ... and I know exactly what you mean about shelves meant for display being filled up with books! I am always thinking, "Well, I could arrange a few pretty/meaningful items here on this (or that) shelf ... " but then I find I rather prefer using the space for more books! I think you've created a nice blend of both here, between the beautiful photos and beloved objects. I really like those red baskets, too - the ones holding the resources your children need everyday. I use a similar approach, with large tote bags. :) Thank you so much for taking the time to photograph these lovely corners of your home ... it was so fun to "visit!"


Well friends, I hope you'll drop a note below for Denise and Valerie - how nice to see how they encourage an atmosphere of reading in their homes! I hope you enjoyed our post today and I also hope you might consider adding a post of your own too! You send me your pics and thoughts and I'll do the rest ... :)

I will be off for now, but as always, thanks to all for stopping by! Enjoy the rest of your Monday - hope your week gets off to a great start!

See you here again very soon ...


Friday Bits and Bobs

Flowers in vases

Happy Friday, my friends! Popping in early to share a few links with you all ... :)

Now, are you looking for some meatless menu planning inspiration today? Here are a couple of older posts of mine with lots of great reader suggestions in the comments:

Meatless Menus? (2011)

Lenten Meal Planning (2015)

And here is a wonderful post from my friend Meredith, "Meatless Meals for Lent." Lots of links and ideas there! And also not to be missed is this post - "Five Meatless Dinners" from my friend, Chris! There's a Lenten link-up at the end of that post with even more meatless ideas!

Here's another spot for Lenten meal inspiration, Leaflet Missal's post, "8 Delicious Lenten Recipes for Meatless Fridays." I can't wait to try the hot cross buns on Good Friday, and the Passion Fruit Cheesecake on Passion Sunday!

Speaking of Leaflet Missal, here are "7 Ideas for Celebrating Lent Your Way" - filled with simple Lenten suggestions - and one of them was mine! I was so honored to be asked to participate in that article. :)

And here's a wonderful, witty and thoughtful post from my friend Karen called, "Five Reasons Lent is Hard on INFJs"- I read this with much interest, as I happen to be an INFJ too! (What is an INFJ you might wonder? Click over to Karen's and find out!) So much of her post had me chuckling and nodding my head ... 

And leaping away from Lent for a minute, there's another post I've been meaning to share with you all for some time, especially because recently someone asked me about my "mid-year review" and how I go about it. And to be perfectly honest, I am quite behind this year! I am hoping to work on this important project this weekend - a wee bit past the mid-year mark, ahem - but here's an old post of mine describing my process ... BUT! Even better, here's a fantastic post from my friend Mary Ellen about her mid-year review AND there are printables!

Ok, final link! (I think!) My friend Shirley Ann has updated her blog, Under an English Sky, and you must pop over and take a look. It is just lovely and always filled with great ideas, pretty crafts and lovely tours of England. She has a new series called "The Crockpot Chronicles" and her first recipe is perfect for Lent! I will be avidly following this series as I LOVE using my crockpot at this time of year.

(Speaking of crockpots ... I made this yesterday and it was so delicious. Next time we'll have some some crusty bread to sop up the soupiness, but it paired very nicely with rice pilaf. I just adore artichokes!)

Well I lied, lol - this will be my final link! Have you noticed my new nest button over on the lefthand sidebar? I have started a separate blog called Our Family Field Guide where I am storing nature notes and pictures. I won't be posting quite every day, but hopefully often enough to capture that "rhythm of the year" I find so fascinating and nurturing. I recently found this quote and it struck such a chord with me ...

"There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature." ~ Rachel Carson

Yes. :)

So I hope you'll stop by once in a while and see what we're up to, what we're discovering in this beautiful world all around us. 

Well my friends I will let you go at last - but I hope you all enjoy this day and I thank you for spending a bit of it here. This weekend I have a couple of Book Party posts in queue - and I can't wait to share them! (Would love to hear from you, too!)

See you here again very soon ...

Book Party: Dawn's Books & Nooks

Vintage books

Hello again, my friends! It's time for another Book Party post! I've had such fun reading all the posts so far, and today I'm excited to share a few of my own book-filled nooks ... :)


Like many of you, I have books all over my house - beside my bed, in the kids' rooms, on the family room shelves, stored away in basement bins - but the best reading spots can be found in the library. Now, one might call this a living room, or even a parlor, but we are optimistically coining it "the library" because we hope to have lots and lots books stored in here one day! And by "stored" I mean - arranged in a way that is well organized and inviting. I want this to be a room that celebrates books and encourages hours spent in joyful reading, whatever the season or time of day. This room is on the west side of the house so it gets fair natural light (as well as a nice view of the sun setting behind the woods), but good lamps and overhead lighting are important! As, of course, is comfortable seating ...

SO here we go!

Book party dawn 1

These are the two larger bookcases in the room and they are situated to the left of my writing desk. They belonged to my husband's dear grandmother and we have beautiful glass doors for the front of each - something for the future when our littlest is no longer little! The one on the left holds books we use for homeschooling: history/geography, science/nature study, myths/legends, picture books and classic literature, poetry/fingerplays and some of my general homeschooling resources (Charlotte Mason and Waldorf, for the most part).

A closer look at the shelves (which, it should be noted, were neatened specifically for the purposes of this post):

Book party dawn 21

Book party dawn 22

Book party dawn 23

Book party dawn 24

The bookcase on the right is known as "Mama's," and holds books about homekeeping, seasons, crafts, nature, New England, Tasha Tudor, gardens, vintage style and, well ... many of my favorite things! My novels, however, live elsewhere: (most) in storage and (some) in a basket at the foot of our bed.

A closer look at these shelves:

Book party dawn 13 (1)

Book party dawn 14

Book party dawn 15

Book party dawn 16

The bottom shelf holds my most current issues of Martha Stewart Living (I have all of them actually, going back to her premiere in 1990!) as well as an assortment of favorite magazines I'm keeping (rather than clipping).

Book party dawn 2

I have to share a couple of pictures of the "nest I built" under the south-facing window. The foundation is a rather large beanbag type of chair that is actually meant for the family room (where the tv is) but for various reasons we moved it out here. The gray suede-like cover was not a good fit for this room so I covered it with a beloved afghan in the coziest of colors. To make it even more enticing, I placed a pillow and a couple of Little Bear's soft toys here as well. Crawling into this nest - which easily fits two of us - is a joy! All the books are at our disposal, and there is such nice light ...

Book party dawn 17

This is not the most flattering of pictures, lol - but I had to share it. It was snapped this morning by my Crackerjack, as I read to Little Bear in our nest. It's such a snuggly space ... 

Now, in the center of the room, on the coffee table, I have my personal reading basket:

Book party dawn 3

I've always had a reading basket for current magazines and books I'm trying to spend time with ... if not everyday, then at least a few times a week when I find a little downtime. On Sundays I clean it out a bit and refresh the selections if necessary. Not shown is the book I'm reading in bite-size pieces each night before falling asleep - the one I wrote all about in this post. That book I keep on my bedside table.

Now here is our Catholic bookcase on the other wall ...

Book party dawn 4

The bottom shelf is for display, set behind these lovely sheers which I change up according to season (purple for Lent at present). The two bookshelves above contain my liturgical resources - the very top shelf contains books for grown up use, while the next shelf down holds books for the younger children. To the right of the tiny tote bag are the story books that we use throughout the year (after year) - for feast days and such. I try to keep them organized by date.

Now, below you see Little Bear's main book basket - which is now at the perfect height that he may peruse and decide which book he'd like read. Most often these days it's a book about trucks. :)

Book party dawn 5

There are even more books on the other side of the chair!

Book party dawn 18

In the smaller basket in front of the curtain I have our various field guides. The larger basket under the table holds oversized picture books. And the very small basket near my mug has LB's most requested reads. :)

Book party dawn 8

(Different day, different mug!)

On the opposite wall from "my" chair is the fireplace, and in front of it we have our nature puppet collection, our peace basket (slowly filling up) and the seasonal board books basket. 

Book party dawn 7

Tucked behind the loveseat is the larger seasonal book basket ... these are titles for January through March. I use these books with our weekly seasonal themes, pulling out what I need when I do my weekly planning ...

Book party dawn 6

Fyi this week's theme is "windowsill gardens" and the books I'm using, Linnea's Windowsill Garden and Linnea's Almanac, are actually not in our basket - but on request from the library! :)

We've collected a lot of wonderful books through the years and I find it very helpful to organize them, as much as possible, by season. Off-season baskets are kept downstairs in the basement. Books are often set up on display in the front windowsill, or perhaps on the top of a table ... 

Book party dawn 12

Book party dawn 20

Oh, and before I go, here are my cookbooks - kept in the kitchen!

Book party dawn 11

I keep my favorites here, and I will confess, I often read them more for pleasure than practice! (I use Pinterest for recipes nowadays.) There are more cookbooks in storage downstairs ... in fact, there are quite a lot of books still in storage downstairs! It will be three years since we moved here this June and it really is getting ridiculous that we still have boxes to unpack!


Well, my friends, as usual I've gone on longer than I intended, but I hope you enjoyed seeing all (or most) of my books in their special nooks today! I would love to see yours - to hear about where you keep your books, how you encourage your family to read and make time for reading yourself! If you'd like to join our Book Party, please send me your thoughts/pics at ...

bysunandcandle AT gmail DOT com

I'll pick one of the party guests to win a little Pre-Spring Giveaway (just a package of goodies I'm putting together). I'll draw a name randomly and announce a winner on Tuesday, March 1st ... So there is plenty of time left to join in our Book Party. I do hope to hear from you!

But for now, thanks so much for stopping by and enjoy the rest of your day ...

I will see you here again very soon!

Masterpiece Monday: Downton Abbey, 6.7

DA season 6 poster

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

I am in need of one more viewing to fully discuss this week's Downton Abbey, but I wanted to get the chat post up in case anyone was itching to talk about it! :) I did watch it Sunday night but I confess it was with a half-asleep toddler on me so the sound was turned down and I didn't catch much dialogue! I am going to re-watch it tonight and compose my thoughts in better form for tomorrrow ...

But please feel free to start the conversation in the comments below, if you'd like. You won't spoil me - as I said, I think I got the gist of most of what happened. It looked like a good episode with lots of developments - some better than others!


And here is where I try to make sense of my notes! :)

Lady Violet - I love how she ferreted out the truth about Miss Cruikshanks’ true motivation! I loved watching her “at work” and I loved how this showed what a truly good friend she is to Isobel. Nobody messes with her own! Also, I have to give her credit for realizing she was angry and that she needs a little breathing space. Isobel admires this too: "Your self-knowledge is an example to us all.” What a GREAT quote! But even better was this: 

Isobel (on Miss Cruikshanks): "I suspect she's quite a tough nut.”

Lady Violet in return: "And I'm quite a nutcracker.”

Haha! Isn’t that the truth!

And that scene with Miss Cruikshanks was absolutely delicious. Lady Violet was just not having it: "You’re a cool little miss aren’t you? I should feel sorry for Larry if I didn’t dislike him so much.” Oh my! And when the tart little Miss C. acknowledges things might be awkward in future meetings (since they shall meet again - inferring herself in the Grantham's circles) Lady V. returns:

"Not if I see you first.”

Ooooh … BURN!

I also loved that the Dowager Countess told Isobel she will write only to Tom, as "He’s the most sensible.”

Note: I’m getting tired of the snippiness between Edith and Mary - aren’t you? Enough already, from both of them! Act like grownups for goodness sakes. I don’t have a sister, nor do I have daughters, so I guess I can’t really speak to this type of relationship but honestly, I find it quite tiresome. 

Now, most importantly perhaps, we have the Mary and Henry situation. I can’t help it - I like him. I really do, and I think he IS right for Lady Mary, despite all the opinions to the contrary. He’s wearing his heart on his sleeve - inviting her family to the race, showing up at dinner, calling her in distress because he MUST know where he stands - and it breaks my heart that she broke his. I think she is holding onto her deep-rooted snobbishness - thinking they couldn’t possibly match up - but more than that, I think she’s just plain afraid. I think she does truly love him (or is getting there quickly) and the idea of losing a loved one again is too much for her. I didn’t like it that Anna nixed him - I think that impressed Mary a lot. (Solidified her apprehension.) But so what if their lifestyles don’t mesh? Times were changing then! (This has been the theme all season.) And there's much attraction and care for each other. Her very conflict over his racing (and worry) suggests she does, in fact, care for him very much. The crash was awful - so sad for his jolly friend, Charlie Rogers - and I think a big part of why she broke up with him was her fear. But I guess we can’t blame her - after everything with Matthew. Had Henry not pressed her as he did, given her a day or two, maybe her decision would have been different?

Tom (who I suspect, has a bit of a man crush on Henry!) was so disappointed. Acknowledging her fear (aligning it with his own) but insisting it's ”... no reason to give up the man that’s right for you.”
{Ok, remember what Lady Violet said about who she would write to ... and why?}
Speaking of Tom - are we to suspect they’re lining him up with Edith's editor? She seems to be his type, I guess, but I hope we get to know her a bit better if this is in fact, her role. She reminded me a little of that Miss whateverhernamewas, that awful teacher from the village who enraged ... well, everyone. Only with less edge of course.

And so Edith’s beau (finally caught his name, Bertie Pelham!) proposed. But, though clearly thrilled, Edith didn’t say yes and she also didn’t tell him the truth about Marigold. Will that be a problem for him? (If it is, I say good riddance - but I don’t think he’s like that.) However, will he accept that Edith wasn’t truthful with him? That might pose more of a problem ...

And now, Mrs. Patmore's opens her inn - and it seems to be going so well! I’m so happy for her! But you know, there has to be some kind of complication ... so who was that man lurking outside with the notepad? A roving restaurant reviewer? Or maybe a private investigator spying on the couple staying at the inn - are they having an affair perhaps? Will whatever he’s up to mean trouble for Mrs. Patmore? (Next week's previews suggest it does ...)

Note: Can I just say how much I love the friendship between Mrs. Hughes and Mrs. Patmore? Well, I do … I just love it. It’s been such a nice example of true camaraderie and caring … remember when Elsie went through the cancer scare? 

As for Mrs. Hughes and Mr. Carson - I’m finding their situation a little tedious. He’s been something of a jerk to be sure, but the whole injured hand thing was a bit contrived. And a bit underhanded. I don’t know … I guess it was meant for laughs but I wish it had been something else that made him realize (if it worked) he’d been unfair to Elsie, and that domestic duties are not as effortless as he must have thought them.

Unfortunately, Daisy is still a pill. I didn’t forgive her for her snottiness even though she confessed she’s anxious over losing Mr. Mason’s love. Because she hasn't had much of it before. I thought she was intelligent? 

As for the kind hearted Mr. Molesley - well he OWNED that exam! And he’s now been offered a teaching position - how fabulous! I saw this coming I will admit, and I’m so glad. “I never think I deserve anything! Perhaps I’ve been wrong all along.” Aw. I’ve always like him!

(And might this situation open a job up at Downton which would allow Thomas to stay on?)

Finally - a new puppy for Robert? How wonderful is that? I never even wondered when or if they might get a new dog, but how nice that his Mama was the one to think of it.

Final note: I really wish hats would come back into fashion. I'm in LOVE with these hats on these women. Hats are long due a return. I remember my grandfather always wore hats and a dress coat when we went out … and my grandmother had a fascinating closet full of hat boxes … so stylish. :)

Now, before I go - how many episodes are left? I think I might be off on my episode numbers. I have this recap as the seventh installment in the sixth (and final) season, but PBS has it listed as episode six. And I believe there are nine in all? Hmm. My main concern is, when do we have to say goodbye??
Well my friends, I  must be off - I hope this made a little bit of sense and I'd love to hear from you if you have a moment or two. But as always, thanks so much for stopping by!
I'll see you here again very soon ...


Masterpiece Monday: Downton Abbey, 6.7

DA season 6 poster

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

I am in need of one more viewing to fully discuss this week's Downton Abbey, but I wanted to get the chat post up in case anyone was itching to talk about it! :) I did watch it Sunday night but I confess it was with a half-asleep toddler on me so the sound was turned down and I didn't catch much dialogue! I am going to re-watch it tonight and compose my thoughts in better form for tomorrrow ...

But please feel free to start the conversation in the comments below, if you'd like. You won't spoil me - as I said, I think I got the gist of most of what happened. It looked like a good episode with lots of developments - some better than others!


HomeCrafts: Candles for Candlemas!

Candles 9

Earlier this month, over at my Facebook page, I shared a picture of the candles we made for Candlemas, along with a promise to do a follow-up post at the blog with all the project information ... but it just occurred to me this morning, I never actually did that! Well, here I am now to share all the details - because I think many of you would enjoy this craft and also, I'd like to do it again myself. :)

Ok, here we go!

So ... I knew I wanted to make candles in early February (with the hope of having them blessed at Candlemas) and I knew I wanted to use natural beeswax, so I googled a little and found this post, written by Jill Winger at The Prairie Homestead. I added it to my Deep Winter Pinterest board and started gathering materials ...

Candles 1

{Beeswax is so lovely, isn't it? We are so blessed by those industrious little bees!}

Candles 2

I already had the wicks and beeswax on hand, having planned this as an Advent craft (that never came to be). I also bought a few tiny glass jars at the craft store ($1 each) and found an old coffee tin in the pantry (previously used for steaming brown bread).

First step:

Candles 3

Add beeswax to the tin and set the tin in a simmering stockpot of water. The water should come about halfway up the can. (Too much water will tip the can.)

Slowly melt the wax ...

Candles 4

{Keep an eye on it, but it didn't take more than 20 minutes or so.}

Candles 5

Now, while the wax was melting, I hot glued the wicks to the bottom of the jars. Then, once the the wax was completely melted, I carefully poured it into the four ready jars ...

Candles 11

(Using a kitchen mitt of course!)

I was pleased the wax filled all four jars! 

Candles 6

I placed dowels on either side of the wicks to keep them straight as the wax cooled.

Candles 7

Love how the wax went pale as it solidified!

I placed the candles up in the window and once the wax had fully cooled I trimmed the wicks.

Candles 8

And that was that!

I must say, we were quite glad of these little candles when a few days later a storm knocked our power out!

Candles 10

Now, I did add a bit of essential oil to the jar as the wax was added, but I don't think it added much scent. As I understand it, essential oils don't do well with high temps. I might fiddle with that a bit because I'd love to make some more of these candles with seasonal scents ... 

Also, (and I don't have a picture of this but wanted to mention) you can easily screw the lids on the candles and give them as gifts. Add some ribbon or twine around the jar and a pretty label on the top of the lid with your wish for a Merry Christmas, Happy Mother's Day, or Blessed Birthday! Etc.

I love it when a craft you're very keen to make works out just as you'd hoped ... and, even better, when the end result is something quite useful and meaningful. I will definitely be making these again (for myself and as gifts) and would love to experiment with adding herbs from my garden. My friends, have you made candles before at home? I'd love to hear about it if you have! Please leave me a note in the comment box below. :)

In the meanwhile, and as always, thanks so much for stopping by today! I hope your Monday is a good one, and I will see you here again very soon ..

A Few Crafts for the Cross ...

But first, Happy Valentine's Day, everyone! Happy Sunday, too! I hope your weekend's going well ... :)

Today I'd like to share some of the pictures I have piling up on my phone, and the crafts we worked on last week. Each one was a suggestion from our purple cross countdown, a chance to spend some time each day doing a little something nice for someone else ...

On Thursday, I began the day with a quick, last-minute craft for Our Lady of Lourdes ...

OL Lourdes 1

A tiny paper baking pan + printed image + craft moss + a few rocks + a paper river + a candle = a little grotto of sorts! I kept it lit on the Lenten altar throughout the day.

(Note: Before lighting, I swapped the beeswax tealight for an LED candle since this whole situation was quite flammable!)

Later in the day we followed the suggestion of our daily post-it to create a donation box for the foyer. Here's how that went:

Donations box 1

I covered an old moving carton with plain white wrapping paper and added some sticker sentiments around the outside of the box (give, help, lift, love). Then I asked the boys to help me draw happy things ...

O project 2016 2-11 1

Since Little Bear's favorite things right now are volcanoes (complete with hot "la-blah") he requested I add a couple of those ...

O project 2016 2-11 2

It's certainly a colorful box!

Donations box 2

It now resides in our foyer where each week we'll add items for various collections in which we're participating.


On Friday, we continued our commitment to care for creation, by making some edible valentines for the birds ...

Valentine birds 4

After lunch I asked all the boys to pitch in with this very simple craft. We threaded cheerios onto pipe cleaners, bent them into heart shapes ...

Valentine birds 2

And then looped them all together ...

Valentine birds 5

Even the youngest could do it!

Valentine birds 3

(Well, the cheerios kept him busy anyway ...)

Finally, we hung our valentines outside for the hungry birds ...

Valentine birds 6

(Translated: Mama threw on her boots and her parka and braved the arctic wind to hang the valentines where we could see them from the windows. It really is SUPER cold these days in these parts!)

And finally, yesterday we worked on sharing our love, by making small hearts written out with the reasons why we love each other. I kind of did this secretly - making up the small red paper hearts early in the day and then passing a batch of five to each family member. (Well, except for the 2 yo and the 20 yo off at college.) As the hearts were completed and "turned in" I glued them onto pretty doilies and then - trucking outside in those boots once again - I snipped some magnolia branches for a vase.

Valentine branch 2 edited

And this was our Sunday breakfast centerpiece! I loved watching the boys faces as I read aloud the hearts. :)

Well my friends, I hope you enjoy the rest of your Sunday! We're quite hunkered in because it's all of 8 degrees at the moment (and only because the wind isn't blowing) ... but the sun is shining and the snow is sparkling and our home is warm and full of people I love ... so you'll hear no complaints from me! 

But as always, I thank you all for stopping by and taking the time to read ... take care of yourselves and your loved ones ...

I'll be back here again very soon!

Book Party: Marianna's Books & Nooks

Vintage books

Happy Friday, my friends! Who's ready for the (long, holiday) weekend? :)

I am so pleased to bring you another Book Party post today, and this one is from Marianna. But before we get to her lovely photos, I'd like to announce that I am extending the giveaway deadline to Monday, February 29th! (Winner to be announced March 1st!) I've heard from a few folks who'd like to participate but could use a little more time, and that is fine - boy, do I hear ya! ;) I truly would love to hear from more of you (I know we all would, because isn't this fun?), and all the Party details can be found here. Please send me your book love (thoughts, pictures, a link to your blog?) whenever it's convenient, here:

bysunandcandle AT gmail DOT com


Now, let's hear from Marianna!

Books are a major part of my home. They are in pretty much every room! 

Book party marianna 1

Main bookshelves. I love the way the light hits them in the afternoon. 

Book party marianna 2

A little bookshelf at the end of a hallway. 

Book party marianna 3

The kitchen shelf. 

Book party marianna 4

Books in baskets. 

Book party marianna 5

Books under lamps. 

Book party marianna 6


Book party marianna 7 (1)

A basket for the coloring books! 

Book party marianna 8

Library books stay on the coffee table. 


I love all of your pictures, Marianna, but that first one - with the sunlight hitting all those shelves, is just beautiful! This is a perfect example of what I meant when I asked, how are we creating an atmosphere of joyful reading? By thinking about where we store and display our books, how we arrange them - in which materials and in what lighting - so as to only further increase our enjoyment ...  as well as to entice those around us to settle in and join us. I mean, I could (and pretty much do) put books in any room of the house, but there is something special about books that are organized into an especially inviting nook. And you have created several, Marianna!

My friends, this is such fun, seeing each other's book collections and cozy corners. I think one of the things I like best about these Book Party posts is that they connect us to each other in such a comforting and happy way. Our book pictures are so intimate - this is where we live and learn and let ourselves ... well, be ourselves! So when we get to peek into someone else's baskets and bookcases, it's just such a privilege. I feel as though we've been treated to a glimpse into a very personal part of each other ... so I thank each of you who have taken the time to share your books so far. And I hope more of you feel encouraged to do the same!

 Do you love books, too? Is reading a hobby you try to cultivate - for yourself and your children? How do you do that? Where do you do that? Would you tell us ... or perhaps show us in a future post?

All mail can be sent here - bysunandcandle AT gmail DOT com - and I will share your thoughts (however lengthy or brief) and pictures (as many as you care to send) in a future Book Party Post. :)

Speaking of, I have just taken a real slew of library pictures this week so my own Book Party post is coming up, too!

But for now, and as always, I thank you so much for stopping by ... enjoy your evening and do have a nice weekend. I will see you here again very soon!

And so Lent begins ...

Lenten altar 7

Happy Thursday, my friends! I hope this post finds you well. :) I'd like to share some more pictures with you today, if I may ...

Pictured here is the fireplace mantel in our living room, and yesterday I cleared it off completely, dusted it a bit (ok, a lot), and took down the print hanging on the wall above. Here is where we'd set up our Lenten altar ...

Lenten altar 4

First, per Ash Wednesday tradition, we "buried" the Alleluia ... a word that disappears from all worship until Easter. This is something we've done in different ways through the years, but this year I just simply wrote the word on a strip of paper (using a gold Sharpie) and we placed it in a plain butterfly-shaped box. (Easter morning the box will be transformed - with gold paint and bright stickers! - and a beautiful banner will be found inside.)

Now, I wanted to keep this altar pretty sparse, but there are a few special objects here: the butterfly box mentioned above, a brass crucifix that was made by my great-grandfather, and two glass jars - one for collecting alms and one to hold our purple post-its as they are pulled off the cross. Hanging above the mantle is our grapevine cross ... 

Lenten altar 10

And just below is a plain white pillar candle standing in a bowl filled with soil and blessed palm ash. To be honest, we were out of potting soil so that last bit has to wait for a weekend trip to the nursery. The candle will be left unlit and plain until Easter, and the cross will slowly come to life through the coming weeks. (I will secretly add smalls sprigs of greenery as we walk our journey through Lent. On Easter it will be blooming with fresh flowers and the "Alleluia" will be hung here as well.)

Just below the mantel I hung our Stations of the Cross collection.

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I used to keep these 4x6 cards in a small purple binder, but I wanted to have the images more visible this year. I decided to hang them along the mantel, secured with clothespins to a length of twine. (I'm hoping to make some simple wooden shrines so they can be used for an outdoor "Way of the Cross" on Good Friday.) 

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Lenten altar 2

My friends, as always I thank you so much for stopping by and if you have a moment, I'd love to hear from you. How is your Lent going so far? (All of two days in!) How about your February? Are you trying something new this year? Reading something new? Is this a season you embrace or endure? I think some years it's one or the other - or perhaps a little of both. I'd love to pray for your intentions ...

I will be back again before long - because I always have things to talk about! And more pictures to share, too. But for now, I wish you all a pleasant evening and hope to see you here again very soon!

Our Shrove Tuesday Fun!

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Lent has begun, my friends! And our countdown is underway, but I first wanted to share "the feast that came before the fast" ... so here are a few pictures from our Shrove Tuesday at home. :)

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Our afternoon activity: Mardi Gras mask-making! This is a long-standing Shrove Tuesday tradition in our home, and I always rope as many of my boys into it as I can. ;) This year, the older boys were elsewhere (one at college and one at a homeschool class), so it was just the younger two and myself ... well, and the cat, as you can see above. You know, the cat who is NEVER allowed on the kitchen table ... ahem.

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After lunch I set the boys up at the table and they were eager to pitch in! (They do love crafts, these two.) So after I cut the eyeholes, they set right to work on their masks ... and, as you can see from his expression, Little Bear was quite excited to be allowed the use of markers, a rare treat in our house!

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Woohoo! Mardi Gras Masks!

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With a little planning and prep, this is a simple, 20 minute craft. Materials include paper plates, scissors, popsicle sticks, markers, stickers, (you could provide glitter if you are brave), tape ... and that's it! Actually, I stapled silk flowers to mine and boy did the boys get a kick out of Mama in her mask, all incognito. Pity, we didn't get a picture of that ...

We were going to make crowns too, but interest and energy waned (theirs and mine, respectively) so I didn't push it. I did however find these old frames in my stash, made several years ago and painted in Mardi Gras colors. I had to squish two of the boys into one frame since our brood has grown by one Little Bear since 2007. 💜

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For supper, we had pancakes with whipped cream, maple syrup AND colored sprinkles. There was bacon, too ... and there was meant to be homemade hash-browned potatoes but I completely forgot.

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(None of the boys complained about the missing vegetable component.)

Last touch - a Mardi Gras "lantern" I made with a green Ball jar and a colorful star garland I had in the cupboard.

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Now, this morning it was a different story around here ... I swept the table of sprinkles and fallen stars, and we pulled our first post-it from the kitchen cross. We found it instructed us to "abstain from meat and set up our Lenten altar." So that is just what we did ... and I have some more pictures to share but as I've already kept you quite long here, I will save all of that for tomorrow. :)

But as always, I thank you very much for stopping by and I wish you all a very pleasant evening.

See you here again very soon!

Book Party: Cath's Books & Nooks

Vintage books

Good Tuesday evening, everyone! It's time for another Book Party post! Hooray for books - those steadfast friends who keep us company on stormy days ... sunny days ... whatever the weather, we can always count on our books. All we need is a little light to read by - be it sun, lamp or candle - and our books are always good to go; they never "power down." ;)

Well, Cath has sent us some lovely pictures of her own book collection, and I'm so happy to share them with you all here. I've been working on my own bookshelves - mess that they are - and took some pictures today ... hope to get a post up in another day or two. But for now ...

Enjoy, my friends! :)

From Cath ...

"My books need much attention and are a bit scattered at this moment.....  I am planning on moving a lot of furniture in the near future from room to room ... I dread the idea of moving all these books but it would be nice to give them all a home once again."

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Goodness, I loved seeing your pictures, cath - all so cozy and softly lit. And bursting with books, which is as it should be! (Says one book lover to another ... ) I can imagine it must be a real joy to peruse your shelves, to sit down in your nest and dig in. I see a lot of wonderful titles here, too ... and I know just what you mean about giving them a home. That's where I'm at right now - trying to create dedicated spaces for the many "kinds" of reading materials we own. It's a challenge!

 Well, I thank you cath, for sharing your books at our Party! And friends, there is still time to jump in and join us ... remember, all you need do is comment, or email me some thoughts and pics on reading (full details here) and you will be part of the pre-spring giveaway. I may even extend the deadline a bit ... more on that in my own Book Party post coming up in a few days!

Enjoy your Tuesday evening, everyone ... see you here again very soon!

Masterpiece Monday: Downton Abbey, 6.6

DA season 6 poster

Happy (Shrove) Tuesday, my friends! Will you be celebrating Mardi Gras today? We'll be doing so here, in our own simple ways ... shoveling out from the storm, glad for the power still holding, thinking about paczkis and pancakes!

So, I sat down and watched Downton last night and enjoyed it very much ... but it's such a bittersweet feeling, because the more I settle in and enjoy these episodes, the harder it is to accept that this dear show is coming to an end. Just two more to go, I believe? sigh

But enough of that ... here are my thoughts on this week's developments!


So this time out we had "Open House Day at Downton Abbey" - what a crazy idea! And this came from Mary and Tom - so it seems all slick and smart only, it was a bit of a fiasco, wasn't it? Seems they hadn't quite thought it all through. Thankfully, Edith's beau stepped in and made some last minute suggestions that at least kept the crowd in control. I wondered about this whole spectacle though - a way of presenting the house as this kind of inanimate, impersonal thing. An oddity, questioned all over by the curious visitors. Why this? What's that? Who was this? And the family really didn't have any answers ... it was quite comical. Their lack of knowledge made them seem so superficial and separate from the house. Almost proving they're not quite as attached to this home as we'd think, which worries me. I feel like they're preparing us for a big move. As the little boy (cheeky rascal) who burst in on Robert asked: Why not move somewhere cozy? And Robert seemed to think he had a good point ...

 Meanwhile, there was much forward movement with the hospital business ... with the merge going through and Cora being named the new president AND Lady Violet being asked to step down. Eep! I thought the conversation between Cora and Robert about her accepting the position was interesting ... Robert suggesting she's not "like Isobel" in that she doesn't need a job, Cora taking a little offense to the notion she couldn't handle it. I think this will be good for her, but I wonder if it will drive a wedge between them ... remember how he reacted during the war? And especially with Mama on the warpath.

Then we had more Daisy drama and honestly, can they make her any less likable at this point? Well, I suppose she can slight Mr. Molesley next after all the help he's given her. She is SUCH a pill! So jealous and indignant and selfish. Trying to sabotage the friendship between Mr. Mason and Mrs. Patmore - going so far as to throw the note in the rubbish! And making Mr. Mason uncomfortable when he brought a beautiful basket of produce to Mrs. P. Ugh, I'm done with her. I don't care how she does on the exams, to be honest ... though I am rooting for Mr. Molesley to do well! Wouldn't that be nice for him to have a different future in education? And perhaps that would open up a door for Thomas to stay on at Downton ... ?

Although, goodness, poor Thomas. What a sad final scene that was, with him sobbing all alone in the darkness. I mean, I can understand that people are wary of him because of the ugly things he's done in the past, but now they assume he's taking advantage of Andy when of course we all know he's helping the younger man learn to read. He is such a lonely and sad character ... but look how kind he is with the children! There is so much good in Thomas but someone has to take a chance and show some confidence and trust in him. (As in Carson or Robert, the men he respects so much in spite of his poor behavior.) Or maybe he's just going to leave Downton and find his future elsewhere ... I really don't know how they're going to wrap up his storyline in two more episodes, but I hope it's happily. 

Now, next we have Mr. Carson and Mrs. Hughes and boy-oh-boy would I like to give that big old butler a shake! How Elsie hasn't lost her cool with him yet is beyond me! This is really serving to point out Carson's less likable side - the picky, perfectionst, snobbish side ... but honestly, he needs to be told this is just not right. A new husband does not encourage his bride to seek out another woman's help in learning how to manage "his" home "right!" I mean, this is a bit comical, but mostly my feelings are truly hurt for Mrs. Hughes. 

And thankfully Anna is ok after a little scare, but that served us well in getting Mary to London! And to see Mr. Talbot (at the expense of Evelyn Napier who looked none too pleased to see her leave with Henry at the end of dinner). She looked absolutely stunning in that long green dress! That whole scene was so shimmery and swanky ... but the scene in the alley way? Oh my, so swoony! I hope Mary is changing her mind about Henry - they make a great match. Or really, about that particular prejudice in general. Tom seems to be the voice of reason to which she'll listen!

(Speaking of Tom - does he know about Marigold? I can't remember for sure. Mary will be LIVID when she finds out that they were all keeping this from her.)

Well my friends, that's all I have to say for now - I'm wrapping this up with a 2 year old clinging to my back, lol - but I'd love to hear your thoughts! What are you thinking about all of the latest developments? Please leave a comment if you have a chance!

And as always, thanks for stopping by! I hope your day's going well!

See you here again very soon ...

Our Lenten Countdown: The (Printable) Daily Activities

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Happy Monday, my friends! We have another snowstorm here - near blizzard conditions, I hear - but we're hunkering down and hoping the power holds! Wherever you are I hope you are keeping well - and warm. :)

So here at last is a follow-up to Friday's post, a closer look at the purple post-its themselves. As I described here, each note will offer a simple suggestion - a way of living Lent together as a family. I tried to come up with ideas that would be meaningful but still manageable - things that would resonate with my children but not overwhelm them. (Or me!)

The focus of Lent is threefold - to fast, to give alms and to pray - so I included opportunities for these actions throughout the season. Inspired by the words and actions of Pope Francis, I also tried to weave in ways for for us to work together on the concepts of forgiveness, awareness, (less) consumerism and waste, and care for creation.

Now, as I mentioned before, the activities are quite particular to my own family, so they may or may not be something that would appeal to you and yours … but in the spirit of sharing, here they are:

Post-Its with Purpose: Our Lenten Countdown

(Since it appears the links don't show up in the PDF, I am adding the countdown text at the bottom of this post. Sorry for any confusion!)

I am happy if something here is helpful to you, and you are welcome to print my notes out if you wish. It may look like "a lot" when you open it up, but remember - the italicized dark purple text is what I’m writing on the actual post-it for the children to read. It's just a brief sentence or two. The text in violet is for me ~ my own notes and reminders for that day. You know me - when I'm planning something, I get wordy. :)

Well, Ash Wednesday arrives in two days, and I'm glad to feel a little more prepared for Lent, knowing I have this plan to follow with the children. I aim to review my notes each Thursday and see what will be happening in the week ahead. If need be, I can even tweak the post-its as we go along. Some of the activities will be pushing things a bit with our special needs son - he's not a fan of giving things up or doing extra chores! - but it's important to me that he live Lent along with us, in his own way. I tried to come up with activities that would work around (or perhaps with) his challenges and inspire him to do his best ... for those he loves, for God and for himself!

Ok, that is all for now, my friends! I missed Downton last night because my husband was watching the Superbowl, and I decided to watch (listen) along with him. Lol. I do plan to catch up tonight and post a recap tomorrow ... provided our power holds! I also have a lovely Book Party post in queue and hope to have that up mid-week.

So for now, and as always, thanks so much for stopping by! I wish you all a pleasant Monday and will see you here again very soon ...

❤ Post-Its with Purpose: Our Lenten Countdown ❤


Throughout each week there will be opportunities to:


PRAY ~ for someone, about something, or perhaps learn a new prayer

GIVE ~ monies (by reducing our wastefulness/consumerism), extra help and attention for those who need it

FAST ~ from meat/certain foods, from negative behaviors

OBSERVE ~ Faith traditions at home


Below is my outline for the 40 days of Lent, and as I mentioned before, the activities are quite particular to my own family, so they may or may not be something that would appeal to you and your children … but in the spirit of sharing, here they are! I am happy if something here is helpful to you, and you are welcome to print this out if you wish. The italicized dark purple text is what I’m actually writing on the post-it for the children to read - just a sentence or two. The text in violet is for me ~ my own notes and reminders for that day.

 2/10 “No meat today! Let’s set up our Lenten altar.” On Ash Wednesday we’ll bury the “Alleluia” (golden letters) in a butterfly-shaped box. This will rest on our mantel throughout Lent. We’ll also burn last year’s palms (as we've done before) and sprinkle ashes over a pot of soil in which stands a plain white candle. Set pot on Lenten altar (library mantel).

2/11 “Today we’ll set up a donation box in the foyer.” Our Lady of Lourdes. All help set up our family donation box to be kept in the foyer throughout Lent. Decorate with words and symbols of love.

2/12 “No meat or dessert today! Let’s make treats for the hungry birds, and watch a family movie together.” As “Friends of Francis,” our mission is to care for creation. We’ll make suet treats - a valentine for the birds! Tonight is family movie night: The Song of Bernadette.

2/13 “Gather donations for parish pet drive. Make hearts for St. Valentine’s Branch.”  On heart shaped doilies, we’ll each write things we love about one another. No peeking! Mom will gather the hearts and tomorrow morning they’ll be hanging from a pretty branch on the breakfast table.


Sunday, 2/14: At our family meeting, we’ll talk about awareness and consumerism. Instead of just giving money to charity, what if we also worked on buying less and wasting less? How can we respect our resources? Let’s learn about how children live all over the world. Some have much less than we do! Measure this week’s grocery bill against the average - any saved money goes in the alms jar. 

 2/15 “Help Mom clean out refrigerator. How much food waste did we find?” Create a pile of food that has gone by and tally the waste dollars. Later in the day I’ll introduce the idea of a “peace corner” where we’ll spend time learning how children live all over the world. Read Let There Be Llamas!

2/16 “Help Dad set up a compost pail for the kitchen.” Brainstorm ways to waste less food. Set up our peace board in library corner - let the boys decorate with flag stickers and add first prayer cards (made from plain index cards). As we find people and situations to pray for, we’ll decorate a card to post on our board.

2/17 “Use Amazon gift cards to buy toys to donate.” Go online and buy items for the community toy drive at the first of the month. (Use some of their Amazon Christmas gift money to do this.) While online, we’ll watch the Pope’s video, Care for Creation. Look through Children Just Like Me. Ask: Where would you live if  you could live anywhere in the world? Why?

2/18 “Choose a toy or book to add to the donation box today.” Encourage the children to choose at least one item each. Look through A Life Like Mine. What do we need to live safely and happily everyday? Make a list for our peace corner. Pray that all children, everywhere, have those things.

2/19 “No meat today! Help Mom launder clothing to donate.” Work together to clean the clothes we’re donating - fold them and place in donation box. Read What We Wear: Dressing Up around the World.

2/20 “Help Mom food shop today.” Encourage the boys to skip the snacks and processed foods. Compare food costs. How do we save when we’re careful to buy only what we need? (Money, excess trash, extra sugars and fats we don’t need.) Read What the World Eats.


Sunday, February 21st: At our family meeting, we’ll talk about forgiveness and examining our conscience. What might you have done that you are sorry for? (Inner thoughts.) Give this some thought this week. Can you ask for forgiveness - from the person you sinned against, from God, from yourself? Can you forgive someone who has wronged you? What does that do for your heart to let go of that hurt? Also, look at grocery bill for savings to be deposited in alms jar.


2/22 “No complaining today!” Chair of St. Peter. Stop yourself before complaining - if the urge arises, stop and write one thing you are grateful for on the white board. How many blessings came up today? (If time and interest, make a holy-spirit stained glass and/or learn about St. Peter's Basilica.)

2/23 “Forgive someone today.” This could be something that happens today or something that’s happened in the past -  tell them it’s ok and that you forgive them - and then let it go. Also, go to store with Mom to purchase diapers for community drive. Add to donations box.

2/24 “Ask for forgiveness today.” Think of something you wish you’d done better, or something you wish you hadn’t done. Apologize - to the person you wronged and/or to God and know you will do better. Forgive yourself for things you wish you could change. Promise to work on these things and feel good inside that you’re doing something positive!

2/25 “Do something for your brothers today.” Offer suggestions: neaten desks, make beds, fold laundry, clear dishes, clean lunch bag, play with the little one, let someone use your computer, make a welcome home sign for L. Read Brothers and offer thanks to God for each other.

15. 2/26 “No meat today! Pray the stations together.” We’ll gather in the library to look at the stations I’ve set up along the Lenten mantel. (Pinned to burlap garland.) First we’ll talk about what these pictures portray … ask how Jesus may have felt and what he might have needed? How would we have helped him if we could? What about now?

2/27 “Make pretzels with Mom. Family movie night!” Talk about why pretzels are a Lenten tradition as well as a wholesome, homemade snack. What other healthy snacks can we make instead of buy? Read Brother Giovanni's Little Reward: How the Pretzel Was Born. Watch The Bells of St. Mary's tonight.


Sunday, February 28th: At our family meeting we’ll talk about our local community (neighborhood, parish, family). How can we help those that live around us? How can we contribute to our community? Also, look at grocery bill for savings to be deposited in alms jar.


2/29 “Bring cookies to our elderly neighbors.” Include a note with our phone numbers in case they ever need us. Offer to help with spring yard work. At home, start our "pink roses" for Sunday.

3/1 “Take a clean up-walk through the neighborhood.” Walk the neighborhood and clean up trash that might have blown about. Bring trash bins back up driveways for neighbors. (Help mom make daffodil pins for St. David’s Day - or perhaps sit and color with Mom while she works.)

3/2 “Make a card for someone who needs cheering up.” Talk about who we know that might miss us or feel lonely sometimes. Make cards at home (say a prayer over each), then help Mom mail them. Be polite and cheerful with the folks at the village post office. How many smiles can we offer?

3/3 “Buy pajamas for library drive.” Go to store and buy pajamas for children whose families  can’t afford new clothing. What does homeless mean? Let’s add to our peace board today and give thanks for the comforts we enjoy in our own home.

3/4 “No meat today! Pray the stations together.” After praying the stations, read aloud from our parish bulletin and talk about the groups that need assistance. Where can we offer out time/talent/treasure? Tonight at supper read aloud from our local paper and do the same. Where is help needed? How can we pitch in?

3/5 “Think about this person and what they need.” Each person receives a name and is encouraged to think about what that person might need (physically, spiritually), then choose a way to help. Keep it to yourself, but do what you can as you can. Read One Hen: How One Small Loan Made a Difference.


Sunday, March 6th: Today is Rose Sunday! We will have a special family brunch after Mass. Nana's delicious egg custard will be served. Today let’s talk about our prayer habits and how we can make room for prayer in our life. Ask the grandparents about their favorite prayers. Also, look at grocery bill for savings to be deposited in alms jar.


3/7 “Learn a new prayer this week.” Each of us chooses a new prayer (have suggestions ready) to learn by heart this week, with the goal of sharing at next Sunday’s family dinner. Write them out on index cards.

3/8 “Pray for people who are sick and their caregivers.” St. John of God, patron of hospitals, nurses and the sick. Do we know anyone who is sick or recovering in some way? Do we know people who care for someone in need? These folks need special prayers!

3/9 “Write a letter to Jesus.” Set the table with paper, colored pens and stickers, and let’s write a letter to Jesus together. This can be about anything - giving thanks, saying hi, telling him a bit about ourselves. Attend Adoration in the evening (older boys and Mom).

3/10 “Fast from electronics tonight.” After supper, turn off all tech devices - and read, talk, sing - or just visit with each other. How are the prayers coming along?

3/11 “No meat today! Pray the stations together.” Look in our donations box - what can we add? Look at our local food pantry’s list online and add items to our Saturday shopping list.

3/12 “Do something nice for someone today in secret.” Shhhh! Encourage the children to engage in a conspiracy of kindness today. Offer quiet suggestions.


Sunday, March 13th: Daylight Savings Begins! Isn’t light wonderful? How is Christ a Light in our lives? Let’s talk about Easter Sunday - how can each of us pitch in and prepare? (If possible, have children present their memorized prayers.) Mention early rising time tomorrow - 6:30 a.m. Also, look at grocery bill for savings to be deposited in alms jar.


3/14 “Let’s have a sunrise prayer this morning.” Sun rises at 6:56 a.m. so we’ll gather shortly before in the family room - which will be fairly dark. As sunrise approaches, I’ll open a window so we can listen. We’ll watch the sun rise behind the trees and the light grow … I’ll read a little prayer thanking God for our new day. (If it’s mild enough, we may even walk outside.)

3/15 “Today we’ll drink only water.” I’ll keep a pitcher in the fridge and we’ll focus on the blessing of fresh, clean water at our disposal Read One Well: The Story of Water on Earth.

3/16 “Today we’ll prepare for St. Patrick’s Day.” The boys will work on a shamrock craft (how does it represent the Holy trinity?) and help Mom make scones for tomorrow.

3/17 “Let’s learn about our family today.” St. Patrick, patron of Ireland. Today we’ll have an Irish tea for Nana (scones, tea) and talk about our family history. Where in Ireland did our ancestors live? (Have a map ready.) Read Patrick: Patron Saint of Ireland. Irish supper tonight!

3/18 “Let’s surprise Dad with a big thank-you!” Fathers work so hard for their families! Make a big sign thanking Dad for working so hard for us. Surprise him with a text picture of the boys holding up the sign. (Also no meat, stations in the afternoon.)

3/19 “Help Dad with tasks around the yard today.” St. Joseph, patron of workers and fathers. We’ll have a simple St. Joseph’s supper tonight. Read Song of the Swallows.


Sunday, March 20th: It’s Palm Sunday ~ Holy Week begins! Also, it is the first day of Spring! Today we’ll bless our garden patch with a little of our Lenten soil (prepared on Ash Wednesday). The rest of the soil will be planted with grass seed. If the day is nice we’ll have a little procession around the property. Look for pussy willows by the creek. (English “palms.”) Read The Colt and the King. Also, look at grocery bill for savings to be deposited in alms jar.


3/21 “Today we spring clean: tables and chairs!” The first three days of Holy Week are spent preparing the house for Easter. We will use a natural cleaner to wash the dining and kitchen tables as well as all the chairs. If it’s a nice day, the windows will be open to allow in fresh air. Mama will launder the linens for Easter dinner. Read The Donkey's Easter Tale.

3/22 “Today we spring clean: windows and doorways!” Spring cleaning continues … note how brightly the sun shines through the clean windows. How much easier it is to let in that light when our windows are clean! (symbolism) Decorate doorways for spring. Read Petook: An Easter Story.

3/23 “Today we spring clean: floors and rugs!” Help mop and vacuum. It is also Spy Wednesday so we will have “silver dollar” pancakes for dinner. Read The Tale of the Three Trees.

3/24 “Create paschal candle today.” Decorate the plain pillar standing in soil pot on mantel. Eat dinner by candlelight tonight, using our baptismal candles. At the end of the meal, say a prayer together, and blow out candles. Sit in darkness for a few moments.

3/25 “No meat today! Pray the stations together.” It’s Good Friday, so this will be a quiet day, close to home. Hot cross buns for breakfast, and let’s walk the stations outdoors. (I will have this set up beforehand.) Read The Jesus Garden: An Easter Legend.

3/26 “Today we’ll take a Praise Walk.” It’s Holy Saturday, the last day of Lent! Today we’ll color eggs and bake for tomorrow’s feast! But we’ll take time to walk through the spring woods and look for signs of life, marveling at the wold God has made for us. Tonight we’ll light our Paschal candle from the Easter Vigil fire.



Snowy Saturday ...

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Happy Weekend, my friends! I thought you'd like to see some of the pictures I took just after yesterday's storm. As you can see we got a LOT of snow and the skies cleared just in time to enjoy a beautiful, pink sunset. Alas, our power went out, so we also got to enjoy dinner and bedtime by candlelight. Being Catholic comes in pretty handy at times like these - we always have plenty of candles on hand!

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That last picture was taken early this morning - a favorite tree in a nearby field. We still have no power, but boy is it lovely out there!

Hope you all enjoy your weekend and that you stay warm and safe ...

I will see you here again very soon!

Our Lenten Countdown: Post-its with Purpose!

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With Ash Wednesday less than a week away, I've been trying to come up with a project that will help my family live the Lenten season in a meaningful (yet manageable) way. Something that will remind us each day what this season is about, and help us grow closer to Christ ...

Now, I know there are a lot of great plans out there for families to follow - in books and online - and many are truly wonderful resources. I love all the sharing that happens when special seasons and events arrive in our liturgical life! But usually I find it most beneficial to work around my own family's particular needs - to create a plan that takes into consideration our autistic son, our wonky schedule, (our struggles), and what lessons will be most relevant to us. In addition, it's very helpful for my younger boys to have a visual reference for how close we are to any holiday. Six weeks to Easter is a long time when you're young ... meanwhile it flies by for mum and dad!

All this to say - after a little pondering and poking through my craft bins I came up with an idea that really "clicked." I decided it would be nice to make use of the purple post-it notes I've been hoarding for a year or more now - and since I have PLENTY of them (no really, anyone need a spare pack?) it just seemed to make sense that I could use 40 notes for the 40 days of Lent. That would be perfect!

But where could I set up such a sizable project? Forty small post-its take up a surprisingly good deal of space ...

Well the answer - as I sat at the kitchen table, surrounded by the usual mayhem, with notes spread all around me - was staring me in the face. Right here where we are ALL the time - this is where our Lenten project should be! And just look at the lovely shape of our kitchen door ... those six panels forming a cross. Why, this would be perfect!


So here's the nitty gritty:

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Materials I used: the aforementioned purple post-it notes, white craft roll paper, spring-y stickers, and sparkly golden adhesive letters. Also ... tape, a ruler, a pencil and scissors ... as well as a teenage son to keep the younger boys busy while I worked. I found that last item absolutely essential. ;)

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First I made sure the 40 notes would fit where I was wanted them, and then I measured the cross shape on our kitchen door (77" long, 29" wide). Next I cut long strips of white paper to fit the space and taped them to the door. (You might also use white sentence strips here. Less measuring and cutting!)

So here was my base for all those pretty stickers!

Purple post-its 5

With the boys occupied elsewhere, I quickly covered the white cross with flowers, butterflies, and golden letters ...

Purple post-its 7

... then covered it all up with 40 purple post-its!

Purple post its 1

Starting at the bottom of the cross (the sooner we get beyond the toddler's reach the better) we'll pull a post-it each day and underneath the note will be written a simple Lenten suggestion for the children: something to give up, an extra task, a kind gesture or a special prayer to say. Perhaps a family activity that celebrates a liturgical event or faith tradition.

Purple post-its 2

Purple post-its 11

As the days go by and the post-its are removed the white cross will be revealed underneath ...  and it will be coming to life!

Purple post its 10

The last notes to go will be the ones at the very top and along the arms of the cross ... these will also reveal golden letters:

Purple post its 9

The lesson I hope my boys take from this project - aside from boy, does mom go crazy with the crafts at certain times of the year - is this: When we give a little something to Jesus each day - we're lifting that cross alongside Him. And as we lift - purple-note-by-purple-note - we will see that we're building a beautiful thing!   

(P.S. I have a list of the children's suggestions for each day - a work in progress, kept on my clipboard - and if anyone is interested, I'd be happy to share. Some ideas might be useful to you, while others may be too particular to my family's own situation, but I will work on setting up a page to share here just as soon as I can.)

So now when Earlybird asks for the umpteenth time of the day hour, "How many days are there until Easter, Mama?" I will point to the cross in the kitchen and say, "Well, how many post-its are left? That's how many days."

Purple post-its 15

And there it will be - there HE will be - right in the middle of it all. All the clutter and craziness of our everyday life. I'm so looking forward to living Lent as a family this year - with post-its and purpose!

Well, thanks so much for stopping by today, everyone! I hope you enjoyed this post and that you too are looking forward to Lent. I'm in the midst of organizing my reading basket - as well as our bookshelves - so I hope to do a Book Party/Nest post very soon ... I'd love to talk Lenten reading ... and I have not forgotten those planning sheets! Those are coming along, too. Very soon! :)

My friends, enjoy your Thursday evening, and I will see you here again sometime soon!

Book Party: Kelly's Books & Nooks ...

Vintage books

Happy Wednesday, my friends! How's your week going so far? :)

I am so pleased to bring you our second Book Party post today! This one is from Kelly and she has lots of creative book spaces to show us, along with wonderful notes on how books play a part in her family's life. I do hope you'll join in our party - we're discussing how we share our love for reading with our families and create (convenient, interesting) spaces where our books may live alongside us. Or maybe you - like me - are in a state of disarray. Too many books and not enough space! However big or small - a few words, a couple of pictures, or something even more - all party "submissions" are welcome. :) 

Remember, I'm collecting Book Party contributions by comment box or email or a link to your blog - and everyone who participates will be entered in a little pre-spring giveaway. (And that sounds cryptic, I know - but I'm still collecting things for the package: a few pretty magazines, some note-paper, spring stickers, etc.!) A name will be drawn on Monday, February 15th so there is plenty of time to add your two cents on the beloved subject of books ...

You can reach me here:

bysunandcandle AT gmail DOT com

But enough from me ... now let's hear now from Kelly!


Hi Dawn,

In our home, books are top priority. About three years ago, I became intentional about building up a large home library. I have it in the back of my mind that maybe some day I will have a homeschool lending library, but only God knows if or when that will happen. In the meantime, I love to provide great books for my boys, 10 and 7! 

Book party kelly 1

We use all available wall space in our two main living spaces for bookshelves. All of the books are in a database - around 4,500 or so - and they are all labeled based loosely on the Dewey 100s.

Book party kelly 2

I am in the process of adding special labels for some of the seasons and holidays, but I do keep our large collection of Advent/Christmas books in tubs. Even if I had the shelf space for them, I would keep them put away so they are a surprise for the season. :)

Book party kelly 3 

I am pretty picky about books for my kids; our collection allows them a lot of variety but I am able to make sure the books meet a certain standard. I have acquired most of these used and it has taken awhile! I am still adding books but at a much slower pace than the last few years. 

 I just created this area (below) over the weekend - the basket holds our seasonal books and the shelves hold beginning reader books (for easy access - my son put them there!) and our oversize atlases and coffee table books.

Book party kelly 4

Below is my personal reading basket. I keep it on my desk during the day and try to grab snippets of reading time, even just a page or two! It then goes upstairs with me at night for reading before sleep. I am currently reading: The Mysteries of Life in Children’s Literature by Mitchell Kalpagian; The How-To Book of the Mass by Michael Dubruiel; Home Education Volume I by Charlotte Mason; and I just chose The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot for my next fiction read. I don’t read on the Kindle normally, but have found it to be a great way to read on the treadmill - I am reading G.K. Chesterton’s Orthodoxy. (Behind the basket is our collection of Beatrix Potter tales - we are reading through them all in order!)

Book party kelly 5

These are some of our current read-alouds and lesson books, kept on the mantle:

Book party kelly 6

This cabinet houses lesson books read a bit less often, as well as some of my seasonal planning resources. The basket holds my boys’ daily individual lesson materials.

Book party kelly 7

This bookshelf is under the counter in my kitchen! It holds my cookbooks and binders (in need of some re-organization), and many of my planning binders.

Book party kelly 8

And these are some shelves in a cabinet next to my desk. They house some of my personal reading (when I get some extended time for study), my commonplace book and books awaiting entry. I also have an extensive collection of books about books (I just love booklists!).

Book party kelly 9

Book party kelly 10 

Thank you for letting me share!

 Take care,



Thank YOU, Kelly, for sharing with us! I so enjoyed seeing all your books and how you organize your vast collection! I think it is wonderful how you have them all cataloged and that you may one day offer a lending library to your homeschooling community. What a terrific and generous service that would be!

I like how - and I try to do this, too - you have dedicated spaces for the many categories of reading resources. I think when one's book collection is quite large, it's easy to lose track of what books we actually own and what's being read - or unfortunately, overlooked. Too often I'll find a bunch of books stashed somewhere (in the basement, since our move) and there will be titles I wish I had pulled out sooner ... it would be a huge undertaking (as I'm sure Kelly knows) but I would love to index all our titles someday!

Kelly, this was such a wonderful tour of your home and the books you love - thank you for taking the time to put it together! Dear readers, I hope you will leave a comment if you have time ... do you have any questions for Kelly? Do you have some ideas or strategies to share? Please let us know in any of the ways described at the top of this post.

In the meantime, I will wish you all a very pleasant day and hope to see you here again very soon! I will be posting about our Lenten cross  (the purple post-its project) in another day or two. :)

Be well and blessed, my friends!

Masterpiece Monday: Downton Abbey, 6.5

DA season 6 poster

Happy Tuesday, my friends! And holy moly, what an episode that was!

****** SPOILERS AHEAD *****

Now, I will have to add to this post a bit through the day - I did in fact watch the whole episode but I was not taking notes or working on a draft - I was holding and rocking my little Little Bear who had an awful tummy ache. :( He's still sleeping as of early this morning (though he slept fairly well through the night) so we'll see what this day holds when he wakes. May I ask for your prayers that he will feel better soon?

Well ... so much happened last (Sunday) night! Here are a few points to discuss:

So, is Mary falling in love with Henry Talbot? Or ... not so much? Last week I thought there was a real love match happening here but now she seems to be dragging her heels. Is it really all about status? Oh, Mary. Why do you have to be so Mary sometimes? I do remember she felt this way about Matthew in their beginning. She doesn't want to (or "won't") marry "down." But will she listen to Tom's advice (marry for love, ignore stations) or find out Henry has some hidden prestige that will make it all right? Or will she end up with Tom after all ... ? I just can't get a good read on the situation at this time. I will say I don't like how she is figuring out the Marigold issue ... what will she do with the information and will she actually be hurt that she was left out of the loop? (And am I wrong in thinking the staff all suspect Marigold is Edith's but don't know anything for sure ... ?)

And then we have Thomas, reminding us once again that he can be likable and kind. This time, to Andy who can't read and needs help if he's to become the pig farmer he hopes to be. Do you think he will be paired up with Daisy? It seems rather convenient, but Daisy is being a real pill at the moment.

Because, ugh! Sniveling, annoying Daisy! She is really stretching my patience this season. Between the way she acted over Yew Tree Farm and now sniping at anyone who's "pestering" her Mr. Mason. Um, hello Daisy - he might like a few friends other than you! And Mrs. Patmore would make such a nice match for him, too - she's lonely and he's lonely and boy he was happy to have her bustling about his kitchen!

The Baxter storyline sewed up quickly. What an odd side story that was. And the Denker-Spratt storyline, too. Ooh, she is an awful woman, isn't she? I thought I didn't care much for Spratt ... but that was before Denker came along!

And hooray for Edith! She finally has a nice fellow for herself and I'm excited to see where that goes. I bet Mary will be so jealous that Edith has found both independence and a nice man to love her. I'm eager to see how she reacts to this development, especially in light of her own touch-and-go romantic situation.

But oh my GOODNESS, we all know what we want to discuss most of all - and that was the biggest and most gripping scene of the night - something so shocking and emotional! I was sobbing as poor Robert lay there, shaking and covered in blood! What a graphic and (what I would guess to be) realistic scene - Robert vomiting blood all over the table - all over Cora! - as his ulcer burst and he fell to the floor, seizing. Gosh, that was just awful - but the tender words between him and Cora ... oh in that minute, so much can change ... and he's whisked off to the hospital, away from his home, those who depend upon him watching helplessly from behind ...

Will this change Granny Violet's mind at all? Will her own son's near-death experience remind her how important it is to have the best possible care available - and close at hand?


Well, this is as far as I think I will get for now ... but I'd love to hear your thoughts! I will add more in the comments as I can. The little guy is still not up so I don't yet know what my day will look like! But before I go, I want to mention this and see if any of you are planning on subscribing? I think I will and would love to discuss the series as it goes along. This all kicks off in April so we have time to recover from Downton's end. One would hope, lol. ;)

What else are you watching these days? Anyone watching Mercy Street? I'd love some suggestions if you have them! But for now, I'll be off, and wish you all a very good day. Thanks so much for stopping by!

I will see you here again very soon ...