As I announced last week, I am bringing back my blog "Teatimes," in a celebration of Late Autumn,Winter Holidays ... and the very comfort and joy that is Tea!
By necessity of course, my Teatimes are virtual - but my hope is that my words and pictures will make you feel like you have truly popped in for a cozy visit. And I like to imagine you're savoring something you love while you read my post - perhaps a cup of freshly brewed coffee, mulled cider or hot chocolate if you're not one for tea. :-)
Here at my home I'll always have a pretty mug of tea in hand, and a sweet or savory seasonal snack to share ... as well as many seasonal snippets revolving around: current projects, nature news, corners of my home, kitchen notes, holiday preparations, my kids, my journals and my seasonal planners, etc.!
I am also hoping some of you will join me this season in sharing your tea virtually - whether in pics, thoughts, recipes, etc.! I am happy to include your submissions here in my post and/or link to your own post elsewhere. And please feel free to share my Teas wherever you'd like! I am grateful to my dear friend Kim of Ordinary Days of Small Things for her lovely post - I knew I could count on Kim for her enthusiasm and support! And MY goodness, just take a peek at her beautiful Teatime banner! I am quite honored by her kind words and creative design. ❤
* And this just in! Please stop by Kim's for her Teatime post today! It is chock-FULL of wonderful seasonal ideas! (Thanks so much, Kim!) *
Now, for today, I would like to offer you a comfy cup of my favorite autumn brew ... the very gently spiced and soothingly citrus, Constant Comment. Today I am serving it in a sweet little pumpkin mug (a Stop 'n Shop find!) because ... 'tis the season for pumpkins!
Did you happen to pass these pretties on your way up my drive? It's such a lovely New England tradition - pumpkins lined up on a stone wall in the fall!
And speaking of pumpkins, the treat I'm serving at Tea today is not a slice of pumpkin bread as you might suspect ... but rather, an apple-squash variation! I followed my favorite quick bread recipe using up some leftover butternut squash and spiced applesauce from our Halloween party. The two flavors combined beautifully and the bread turned out tender and moist. This easy recipe is always a hit in our family, especially because it makes not one but TWO loaves!
On Sunday I am planning to bake up an old family recipe called, Poor Man's Cake. It's something my grandmother made quite often and was a favorite of my grandfather's. I like to bake this for Martinmas (the Feast of St. Martin) which is this coming Monday. It's actually quite delicious and especially nice with a cup of strong Irish tea! (Grampa's beverage of choice.)
Now, if you've followed my blog for some time then you know we like to live and learn around a rhythm of weekly seasonal themes. When my boys were little this made up the bulk of our homeschooling "curriculum," but as they grow, I continue to keep the seasons by fostering awareness and appreciation in our home while tweaking activities to fit our family members' interests more authentically.
So this week our seasonal theme is "Fading Light," in honor of the darkening days at this time of year. I always schedule this theme for right before or just after Daylight Savings Time ends. (We pushed the clocks back last Sunday.)
Here are some of my ideas for this week's activities as noted in my Late Autumn bullet journal:
This page shown here is my seasons keeping page, found smack dab in between the two-page weekly planning spread! (Please see last week's post for a more thorough explanation of how I set up my journals.)
Happily, Fading Light is a theme that is very easy to explore, because there are so many nuances to the concept!
In Late Autumn, the earth is slowing down and nature needs her rest - the shorter and darker days means better sleep! (This is a wonderful theme to weave into storytelling with the children, especially those that are sad to see their gardens wither.)
And just like the natural world around us, we have our OWN need for rest in what is usually a very busy time of year! It can be hard to resist the pull of the "hustle and bustle," but quieter evenings and solid sleep are often just the fuel we need to keep our own inner lights burning.
Around our homes we find special ways to bring extra light into our life ... making colorful homemade lanterns, twining strings of lights through leafy garlands, setting tea lights in dark windows, taking the time to notice and honor the sunset - perhaps with a special prayer of thanks for another day together here on earth ...
Stopping the car just to marvel over a soft, milky sky...
November's sun may be weaker than June's - but it's certainly no less lovely!
One of our favorite November pastimes is to make lanterns for Marintmas. Yesterday Little Bear and I sat down in the (sunny!) kitchen to do just that ...
I like to try a new lantern craft every year, but this time we kept it super simple. We took a piece of watercolor paper and attached some leaf shapes with a dab of glue stick. Then Little Bear started painting (with watercolors) ...
This boy could paint for hours - he's a big fan of Bob Ross, fyi! I love the playful shades he chose ...
And then we stapled the ends of the paper together to form a lantern shape.
It was fun to line up lanterns from festivals past as we watched the sun go down ...
At 4:30 p.m.!
It's a lovely, peaceful thing to sit quietly in a darkening room, appreciating the lights - and the darkness!
(Here are two older posts - Martinmas Day with My Boys and Lovely Lanterns for Martinmas - which show a few different lantern options. It's a very simple yet satisfying craft! One of my favorite Martinmas traditions is the lantern walk we take at dusk on November 11th. It's just us - with our lanterns - traipsing about our yard as the sun goes down, but it's yet another sweet, seasonal memory I hope my children carry with them as they go about making their own lives.)
We can bring light inside our hearts too ... by doing things that fire us up!
❤ favorite hobbies and pastimes
❤ spending time with people we love
❤ doing things together that makes us happy
❤ remembering to be grateful for the many blessings in our life
❤ finding ways to give to others in need ...
Kicking off the month of November with this theme of light and darkness, I thought it would be nice to weave light into our annual gratitude project! So here's what I put together ...
Burlap ribbon runner in the front window √
LED votive candles, one for each day leading up to Thanksgiving (28) √
Kraft paper leaf cut-outs (lots) √
Every day we write on a leaf (or leaves) something we were grateful for and/or something we did to help someone else. We place those leaves beside a candle and light it once the day grows dark.
(The silver votives represent Sundays - when we reflect a little more deeply on the blessings we have received, and hopefully bestowed.)
Adding one light each night, our window will be brilliant come Thanksgiving eve! Oliver apparently approves. :-)
Now speaking of Thanksgiving ...
Next week our seasonal theme will be At the Autumn Bog - aka Cranberry week! I'll be sharing more ideas over at Instagram in the days to come, but to begin with, here's an old post from 2011 with some ideas for exploring this tiny tart berry.
And what you see above is our attempt to create a signature "mocktail" for Thanksgiving! We'll have a lot of young kids this year at our holiday table so I wanted to have something special for them to drink. (Aside from the usual apple juice and milk!)
We're calling this fun, festive drink a "Frosty Cranberry," and we're still tinkering with the final recipe! For one thing, I'm planning to use citrus zest-infused white sugar not this decorative red but you get the idea. (P.S. I use India Tree (plant-dye-based) Sparkling Sugars in my holiday baking.)
Now, full disclosure: I loosely based this mocktail on a ginger-beer-based drink I saw on Pinterest, but I wanted to make it a little more child-friendly. We took a glass and wet the rim with a cut orange. We then dipped the rim in the sugar and filled the glass with ice. Next, we poured in cranberry juice, about halfway up the glass. Lastly we added crisp, apple-flavored sparkling water and it foamed and fizzed quite prettily!
The initial taste test went ... ok ... but Little Bear felt it was a tad too tart, so after I took pictures we added some orange juice which not only made it sweeter, it changed the shade of the beverage to a gorgeous "autumn sunset" red-orange. I think the kids will like it and I am going to find some cute acrylic "glasses" for them to use - for safety reasons, natch!
In the meantime, next Tuesday night I'll mull a pot of cranberry-apple cider on the stove in celebration of The Full Beaver Moon. And you're probably thinking: what might beavers have to do with cranberries? But see I'm going with the whole "bog" theme next week ... cranberries grow there, and beavers live there!
(Spotted at our Audubon Nature Class this week!)
Despite the fact that we live in a state rich with cranberry bogs, I'm not planning to trek my kids down to Cape Cod next week. Instead we will visit a local "quaking bog" which if nothing else features a really lovely, late autumn landscape. We do happen to have plenty of ponds and creeks in our town and if we wish, we can easily observe a beaver's lodge from a safe distance.
But, moving on ... because November's full moon is ALSO known as the Full FROST moon ... the next theme we'll be exploring is:
I cannot tell you how happy we were to see that first frost this year! I think I mentioned in an earlier post how challenging outdoor activities had become here in Massachusetts (and many surrounding communities) with an escalating and extreme threat of mosquito-borne viruses. Now that we've finally had a hard frost, we can relax for a while.
Frost may kill off mosquitos (and flowers and other tender plants) but it also brings back our dear little snowbirds, the Juncos - a species we look for every year in late October. Dark-eyed Juncos are lovely little birds that fly north for the summer (leaving around Easter) and return to New England just as the cold weather returns.
I spotted my first Junco around Halloween, but have yet to get a decent picture. Here's one little fella perched in a pear tree yesterday morning!
So this week we'll talk a little about ol' Jack Frost - I have some sweet verses to read, and a peg doll story to tell - and weather folklore in general. Isn't that vintage illustration above sweet? I plan to show it to Little Bear and weave a little story about the Chipmunk who wasn't quite ready to hibernate ... he was too busy helping his jolly friend Jack paint those leaves!
And now for a few random things I'd just like to share ...
(By now I'm sure you all need a fresh cuppa ... and please help yourself to another slice of apple-squash cake!)
Digging into my reading basket! It's my favorite month of the year for magazines! What magazines do you like to read?
And here's a sunny window set up for seasonal exploration ...
We read In November every year during the first week of the month and it's just such a lovely book - that happens to feature an illustration of Juncos(!) which of course ties in nicely with our nature study. Windows is another perennial favorite - a sweet and simple tale following a young boy on an evening walk through his neighborhood, finding comfort and joy in all those glowing, interesting windows. I like to pair this book with a "windows walk" of our own one night! Our Little Bear is a wee bit afraid of the dark, so we're always looking for ways to soothe his anxiety and reassure him there is nothing to be afraid of, if we can look for the lights - while understanding the dark a little better.
And in the foreground is our gorgeous nature poetry book (a daily staple in our homeschool!) open to this week's poems. Timely too, since we had a merry bonfire just last weekend, another annual tradition around the first of November. Last week's theme was "goodnight, garden" so we were burning branches from a Halloween windstorm as well as plenty of withered garden debris.
I was simply enchanted by this beautiful artwork, found online - and it's now my phone wallpaper! I suppose one might look at this painting and find it a little eerie, but honestly, I see it as rather comforting. In the midst of all that dark and fog, the house with its beaming window, a loved one looking out from within, represents a safe, solid harbor. Dotted in the landscape are more bright beacons, welcoming other weary travelers home.
And speaking of welcome ... it's such a universal, human thing, to breathe a sigh of relief when we finally turn that last bend and our favorite place in this world comes into view ...
I was just pulling up our drive after dropping Earlybird at school, but I had to stop and relish that gorgeous foliage-enhanced light. I was tired (EB had me up super early and I had a whole host of things I wanted to attend to once I got home) and yet, how could I not pause and absorb all this lovely, autumnal light? How could I not take a moment to feel thankful for my blessings - for my very breath - and yes, even for the busy-ness of my day ahead. All the little things that would need my attention after one more deep and gratifying inhale/exhale ...
And finally, here is my Little Bear at his Audubon Nature Class this week - simply thrilled to hold a garter snake! Our autumn classes have now come to an end, but we'll return to the sanctuary in January, eager to explore the wonders of the winter woods with our amazing Audubon teachers and homeschool families!
Well my friends, I am so very thankful to you all for joining me for tea today. I know this was a very LONG post, but I do hope you enjoyed it! I truly enjoyed sharing all these thoughts and pictures with you all ... and of course, the pumpkin-squash-apple-orange-spice ALL KINDS OF AUTUMN GOODNESS Tea! ❤
Remember, if you'd like to join me in my Late Autumn & Winter Teatimes - I'll be posting here every other week through the season - just zip me an email with your submission (or link).
drhanigan AT gmail DOT com
And of course, I'd love to hear from you in a comment below!
Enjoy the weekend ahead my friends ... I'll see you here again very soon!