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A Bunch of Autumn Bits & Bobs!

Autumn equinox cookies

Hello, my friends and Happy Friday! And Blessed Equinox, too! ✨ 🍂 🌞 🌻 🍁 🍎 🐿 🍄🌛🍂✨

I'm popping in today to share some autumnal thoughts and photos with you all ... but first, thank you so much for all the incredibly kind comments left at my learning room post. I had such fun putting that post together and I'm so glad you all enjoyed it! There will, of course, be plenty more pics and posts to come as we wind our way through the new year ... but for today, let's talk a bit about AUTUMN, which just began here about 20 minutes ago! To celebrate I made up the plate of "equinox cookies" seen above ...

Now, this was not my idea mind you - I saw a few variations of these cookies on Pinterest. I just took some vanilla cookies we had in the pantry and dipped them in some melted chocolate chips (also from the pantry) and gave them a good sprinkling of autumnal jimmies. (A mom can never have too many jars of colored sprinkles on hand!) One pretty china plate and a bunch of silk leaves later and I had a festive treat for our Friday teatime! :)

Autumn books 2

Oh, children's books ... how I love organizing children's books! Last weekend I had Bill bring up the Autumn book basket (actually, a rather heavy wooden crate!) and I spent some time reacquainting myself with old favorites. I have a post to come (hopefully this weekend) with a look at our September book lists and plans ... I've had some requests since I've been sharing lots of book shots here and on social media lately! 


I ask you - what is sweeter than chubby toddler hands?? Especially when they're trying to grab more than they can hold? This is actually an older photo but it popped up in my Facebook "memories" today and I had to include it ... it's always been a favorite of mine. :) 


And look how those little hands have grown! Here we are on the couch the other day enjoying one of Little Bear's new board books. The sweetest little forest-themed board book I ever did see!

Kitchen autumn blessing

Now, if you follow me on Facebook and/or Instagram you've probably seen some of the photos in this post, and you might have heard me talk about my "Autumn Blessing" week. Well, I decided since the first day of Fall fell on a Friday, I would use the week leading up to that special day to prepare my home with a little cleaning and "cozifying." Basically, I just cleared each room of any extraneous stuff (aka clutter) and then swept corners and wiped surfaces as best I could. (It wasn't a super deep cleaning, more of a freshening up.) Finally, I added some warm autumn touches here and there ... :)

Above you see the kitchen on Monday evening ... and let me tell you ... it took me ALL day to get it that neat! (Because no, my house is not normally super tidy ... we really LIVE here ALL WEEK, if you know what I mean!)

Autumn blessings library

On Tuesday I worked on the front rooms: foyer, library and ...

Dining room

... dining room! :)

Autumn blessing family room

On Wednesday and Thursday, I worked in the family room ... and as you can see, Archie approves of the "autumnal" changes!


Heading back outside, here's a shot of Little Bear at a local farm we visited recently ... it was a beautiful crisp day here in New England!


We also swung by a gorgeous sunflower field ... aren't they breathtaking? And can the sky really possibly be that blue? Nothing like an Autumn blue sky ... though this technically was taken in Summer. ;-)


Here's a picture collage from our first day of home learning this year ... and that's alphabet pasta up top in case you're wondering, lol! I made Crockpot Alphabet Soup for supper that night. :)


And here are some pics from Little Bear's first "official" nature walk of the new year. Honestly, I can't think of anything I like better than spending a "school day" roaming our yard looking for curiosities and wonders!


And finally, here's a book I borrowed from the library recently. Making Peg Dolls is a craft I've wanted to try for a long time now and as you can see, I've got the supplies well in hand! At least the wooden peg part ... I need to see about getting some more felt and thread - perhaps a few more bottles of paint - and then I'll be good to go.

Something else I like to do in early Autumn is to come up with a few hobbies to carry me through the winter ... and brainstorm homemade Christmas gift ideas ... because as we all know, the Autumn will absolutely FLY by and suddenly we'll find ourselves knee-deep in Advent. Plus, it will get dark and cold fast (at least here in New England it will) and it's nice to have some cozy handcrafts to work on during those short afternoons in between busy and bed. ✨🌝✨

Oh, and before I go!


This is my lovely new Autumn "go-bag!" I bought this - a bit of splurge - at Barnes and Noble a couple of weeks ago. I just fell in love with the look and size of this tote! (And if you read my #fridayintroductions post at Instagram this morning, you know how I feel about tote bags!) It fits my handbag and a few notebooks and planners and I just find that sharp navy blue paired with the "Autumn Rose" print so striking. When I considered the price (not too bad as large bags go) and the fact that it not only fit all my stuff but it also matched my minivan ... AND my kitchen ... well, there was just no way I could pass it up! :)

Ok, I will be off now my friends as I've kept you here long enough! As always though, I thank you for stopping by and I wish you all a good evening (or day as the case may be). Take care of yourselves and your loved ones ...

I will see you here again very soon!

Summer sunset

The last sunset of Summer, 2017 ...

✨ 🍂 🌞 🌻 🍁 🍎 🐿 🍄🌛🍂✨ 

A Late Winter's Tea ... (and a Winner!) ❤


Hello my friends, and Happy Friday! Goodness, is it ever a BEAUTIFUL day here in New England! The temperature, as I type up this post, has soared to a balmy 73 ° ... the sun is shining ... the birds are singing ... the snow is melting ... we even spied a chipmunk darting across the backyard! What a tease this weather is though, as I'm sure we still have plenty of winter ahead (March can be quite snowy in our parts!). Still, this is a lovely break - a fresh mental breeze to awaken one's winter-weary spirit. 

But in spite of this day's decidedly spring-like behavior, I'm here to share a cup of Late Winter's Tea with you all! And at the very end of our Tea I will tell you who won my Day Designer giveaway! You can of course, jump down to the end of the post to see who that might be ... ;)

So for today's tea I am using a very pretty cup and saucer set - a gift from my dear friend, Emma. I love the red toile pattern and shape of this set - especially the handy little nook for a snack! Today's snack is a couple of oatmeal-raisin cookies - but as you can see - and as I noticed after I took this picture! - someone had made off with one of the cookies! Ahem! ;) The tea is a new one for me - Newman's Own English Breakfast. Not my usual afternoon tea as this one is fully caffeinated and rather bold-flavored, but on this particular day I was in need of an energy boost!

So I prepared my cup and moved out to the library where I've been busy cleaning this week - haven't really done that since this was December's "Christmas room" - and I'll have a post with a tour in a bit because it's slowly becoming our Spring room. :) I just got our Lenten mantle organized and I'm now working on our homeschool shelves and my writing desk ... as well as our liturgical bookcase! Yes, this room was in dire need of a lift! (Not to mention a good dusting and sweeping!) I love the light here at this time of day though ... the sun sets just behind the woods outside the window shown above and below ... the light lingering later and later each day. I use this desk as a spot to sit and write ... rather than compute (my computer desk is out in the family room). It's a more feminine "mother's desk" and I love changing things up as the seasons turn ... :)


Also shown in the these photos is my brand new spring purse! I had some birthday money just burning a hole in my pocket, and spotted this pretty bag at TJ Maxx. Honestly, I was just running into the CVS next door but that robin's egg blue really reached out and grabbed me, right through the store-front window! What I really love about this bag (aside from the color and the affordable price) is the softness of the bag itself. Very flexible but with a sturdy bottom. And roomy! Plenty of space inside for all the things I like take along with me when I'm out and about ...

(A more detailed Spring purse post to come!)


It's not often I can spend a lot of time here puttering in notebooks and writing out letters, but I try to get here a few times a week. I have some things set up in this room to keep Little Bear busy (toys and puzzles, puppets and books) while I sit for a bit, and there's always the promise of "a story or two" once Mama is done. :) 

Speaking of books ...


I have a small table at the end of the desk which holds reading materials and an in-basket. A small bin holds notecards and seasonal cards. In the foreground are two sets of our favorite seasonal picture books - one set by Gerda Muller and the other by Eva-Maria Ott-Heidmann. These are wordless picture books with the loveliest illustrations celebrating the many nuances of the year. My boys have loved these books for years - we just pore over them and talk about what we see in the pictures, what might be going on. I try to keep them together and out of the general stash of board books- not just to keep them in good shape, but also so I can look through them myself from time to time!

Also in this picture you can see we have our window open ... that made tidying this room all the more enjoyable! The little baskets were Little Bear's doing - he was collecting (wooden) eggs to set aside for Easter. :) And an open window always invites the kitties out from wherever they're slumbering ...


Needless to say we got ourselves outside for a bit!


Late winter is such a special time of year ... spring comes so slowly, and each little hallmark is a treasured gift. The brighter days, the softness of the air, the change in the birdsong ... the dripping and melting ... and resulting muddy puddles!


The boys attempted to shovel away any lingering snow patches from the driveway ... while I just closed my eyes and enjoyed the warmth of the sun, the freshness of the air. What a glorious day! (Note the double-trunked tree in the background - my favorite oak.)

Ok, now before I go and before I get to announcing my giveaway winner ... here's a look at a little project I'm having fun with right now:

Homemade planner 1

Homemade planner 2

Some of you might remember last year I made myself a homemade weekly planner. I loved that notebook so much - though I ended up not using it as I'd hoped to. Well, I determined to try again ... so I ordered myself the very same notebook!


These Fringe notebooks really do it for me. They're just beautiful - inside and out - and perfect for my needs. Love the binding, the paper, the covers! So I am tweaking how I organize the insides (learning from last year's mistakes!) and taking it very slowly. So far all I've done is this ...


A dated reference calendar washi-taped into the front cover. :) I'm counting pages and sketching grids now, and will share more details very soon. (Would you all like a how-to post on diy planners?) This one, which is meant to organize our family's seasons, will run Spring through Winter, and since we are on the very doorstep of March I'd best get cracking!

More to come on this project, but for right now I'd like to finally announce just who won my extra Day Designer planner! And so after a random drawing I am happy to announce that the giveaway winner is ...


Congratulations, Beth! I hope you enjoy the planner! I will be in touch this evening to arrange mailing details and then get this planner out to you ASAP!

And my sincere thanks to everyone for taking the time to leave me such wonderful comments. I loved reading each and every one of them and am grateful you took the time to share your thoughts with me! Your very kind words, thoughtful suggestions and interesting questions are all much appreciated. And you've all got me percolating with ideas and inspiration! So I printed out the comments thread and highlighted each topic area mentioned (color-coding them, naturally). I will keep these pages in my binder and work up a list of "posts to come." I will say you definitely like organizing and planning posts the best! There was also many mentions of homeschooling, seasonal celebrations, meal planning, homemaking and weaving our family faith into everyday living. Lots of tea and chat posts, too! 

DSC03340 (1)

So stay tuned for all kinds of posts to come ... but for right now, before I go, I'd like to answer one question that popped up a couple of times ...

"Why do you call your mother, "Mum" which sounds so very British?" :)

Well, I have to say I think it might be a New England thing as I have other local friends who call their moms "Mum," too, but I think for us it's just a family thing. My mother called her mother "Mum," and her mother (my grandmother) did the same. My maternal great-grandmother was Scottish - as in, came here from Scotland - so I'm thinking perhaps this is where it began.

So there's that! :)

My own boys call me Mama - although as they've grown older that has pretty much morphed into, "Mom." :)

So that's all for today, my friends ... but I do hope you've enjoyed my post and as always I thank you for stopping by! Take care of yourselves and your loved ones ...

I will see you here again very soon!

My Weekly Planning Routine: Part One (of Two)


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

Recently, Rebecca left a thoughtful question and I'd like to address it here in this post ...

How much time do you think you spend on your planner (not journaling) per week? It looks like a lovely planner, but I wonder how much time it takes up?

So I will try my best to be concise in this post, but you know how I get when I'm talking about planning! What I decided to do was to take pictures as I go through my week-ahead planning routine. I didn't actually time myself, but I hope this gives you an idea of just what is involved when I plan out a coming week.
I first look at my current month-at-a-glance calendar and see what next week will bring ...
What activities and events are coming up? What is our seasonal theme for next week?
I then begin planning out the weekend ahead ...
Because a great week starts with a good (productive) weekend! Monday through Friday we're quite busy with work and the kids, so the weekends are where we "catch up" and hopefully, catch our breath. I use the small notebooks shown above to organize our Saturday and Sunday. Where are we going? How busy will we be? Where can we squeeze in tasks and to-dos? What ARE those tasks and to-dos? What errands need to be run and which purchases need to be made?
So the smaller notebook is for listing errands and groceries and the slightly larger one underneath is for weekend planning. We call this duo our "POW" (plan of the weekend) because ... well, we're silly like that. ;)
Next I add tiny post-it notes to the top of a notebook page (one page per weekend). (There are three notes here rather than two here because Bill has a long weekend.) I jot down the agenda for each day like so ...
Pretty simple stuff, but it works! 
And then beneath the notes I write down our weekend to-do list. I had only just started this list in the picture above, but what I also do is add little circled initials to indicate if a task is for Bill or myself (or one of the boys).
Now, to formulate this list I look at last week's POW page for any tasks that didn't get done or moved to the current week's to do list. I then look at the current week's to-do list on my planning sheet (shown below).
DSC02266 (1)
By mid-week I can usually identify a few tasks that are best moved to the weekend.
(This notebook gets left open on the kitchen counter all weekend so any and all can look and see what's what. We also have "pow" meetings on Friday evening and Saturday/Sunday morning - to give everyone a chance to add their own goals and set expectations.)
On the little errands pad I start writing down places I know I need to go and the things I need to pick up ...
On the lefthand side I write groceries (my last stop is always the supermarket) and on the righthand side I note other shopping errands. These would be things like a library pick up, a post office visit, or stops at local shops like the craft store or clothing store. These lists will reflect ordinary goods as well as particular items we need for projects and events.
Now, if I'm really firing on all cylinders, then I also plan out next week's menus so I can be as efficient as possible in my grocery shopping.
I do this on my weekly planning sheet. I list what is "of note" for that week - for example: holidays, a day when Bill is working at home (meaning I could schedule something he cooks), and any busy evenings which would require an easy, quick supper. Sometimes I can't decide what I want to serve each night but still jot down meal ideas on a sticky note and leave it here on this page.
DSC02447 (3)
I use my menu plan to jot down ingredients we need in my errands notebook - for example: ground beef, russet potatoes, fresh mint, heavy cream and dark chocolate.
Next I pull out the coming week's file folder ...
... and look over the papers I've filed (if any). I highlight pertinent information with a highlighter pen ...
DSC02392 (1)
In this week's folder I found:
A bluebird treat recipe.
A library record for the next audiobook to request.
An info. sheet for Crackerjack's service project with deadlines and due dates.
A recipe for National Mint Chocolate Day (Feb. 19th).
Letters from Earlybird's neurologist that need responses.
Using these highlighted notes I add to-dos and reminders to my POW notebooks and next week's planning sheet (shown below).
So for example ...
Ingredients for the bluebird treat and mint-chocolate mousse are written down in my errands notebook.
Project due dates/deadlines get noted in my calendar.
Action items go on their appropriate lists:
    "Request Snow Queen" goes on my POW list - I want to do that over the weekend.
    "Reschedule June appt." and "Call Dr. F to discuss R's med" both go on my to-do list for next week.
Note: planning sheets for each week of the year are all kept in my homekeeping binder, divided into monthly sections. I can flip to any week and jot down an idea or activity as it comes up.
Now I gather any books we'll be using in our homeschool next week ...
I store our books and other home learning resources in various ways - on display in the learning room, in tote bags and in themed baskets. Some things we keep out all year and other items get cycled in and out according to learning topics and season.
As I consider each book, I begin filling in next week's home learning worksheet.
And bring books that need photocopying to the printer station ...
I place photocopies for the week ahead on a clipboard ...
The copies are a combination of work pages for the kids and things for me to read and hi-light and refer to throughout the week.
Photocopies on my clipboard this week:
"Snow Queen" coloring pages
A Valentine verse for circle time (cut and glued to an index card)
A "Winter Walk" nature study (from Golden Books: Nature Hikes)
This week's Earth Psalms activity page
"Making Friends with the Birds" (from Round the Year with Enid Blyton)
Unit 62 "What Shall We Eat and Drink?" (from Natural Science through the Seasons)
"State Birds and Flowers" coloring pages (midwest states)
Now, these are all steps I try to get done, ideally, before the weekend. This allows me to use the weekend hours most efficiently and really get a head start on the new week. Sometimes though, I get distracted or busy or - let's face it - lazy, and find myself scrambling early Saturday morning to make thoughtful lists.
As I said, I didn't time myself but if I had, I'd say all of these steps might have taken about an hour. In my next post I will describe the rest of my planning routine which I do over the weekend and into Monday morning.
Well friends, I hope I was not too rambly, but please let me know if you have any questions or would like me to clarify any points. Remember, this is what I TRY to do, but not every week is as cooperative as I'd like!
So as ever, I thank you all for stopping by and wish you all a pleasant evening ... morning, day, what have you! Hope to see you here again very soon!

A Tour of My New(ish) Desk!


Hello my friends, and Happy Friday! Today I'd like to give you all a little tour of my new desk. :)

Well, I call it "new" because I've only been using it for a couple of months, but the desk itself is not new. Actually, it's been here since the house was built back in 1985! (We've been here since 2013.) It's a great spot for sure, but I resisted situating myself here because, A. up until recently I had a (portable) laptop computer and, B. "sitting down time" was pretty scarce. (If I found myself sitting down there was usually a Little Bear in my lap!)

Also, I really didn't want to clutter up this corner of our family room ... it's the main gathering room in the house and it's hard enough to keep it neat without adding my own parpahernalia to it. And if you know me, you know I am someone who has a tendency to amass a bit of clutter - nice-looking clutter if I may say so, but still, clutter indeed. Ahem.

Anyhoo, when my beloved Macbook died in August (thankfully leaving behind its hard drive), circumstances lined up in such a way that I "inherited" my 17yo son's computer. (He was building himself a new PC per his dearest birthday wish.) So now I really did need a desk for my desktop computer (as opposed to a kitchen counter where I usually parked my laptop) and I suddenly saw this built-in desk in a whole new light. Sure it's smack dab in the family room where all the FAMILY usually is - but it turns out that's OK. It's hard to sneak away and get stuff done for any length of time on my own, though I had a good run there for a while when Little Bear was napping regularly (I'd work on my laptop in a chair parked next to his crib). But these days if I'm going to sit down and spend some time working (or let's be real, surfing) on my computer, it's going to be accomplished with my kids all around me. So these days - case in point, this day - I'm sitting here at this desk while Little Bear and Earlybird play with trains and Matchbox cars and there may be an episode of Peppa playing in the background ...

(Side note - there is a matching desk on the other side of that window seen in the above photo. This desk is used by Earlybird and that too is getting spruced up for his computer time and homeschooling! More details in a future post.)

Now, before I get on with the tour, I want to note that I am still getting settled in, so things may get moved around a bit. I like how things are working so far though ... and I do find myself sitting here quite comfortably when the opportunity arises!


So the monitor is parked in the middle, natch. Along the wall I have a month-at-a-glance calendar on the left - and to be completely honest I don't really need a wall calendar but I loved the look of this one - crisp white with LINED boxes and soft gold dots. (Plus, you know me and calendars.) I got it at Staples. On the right side of the monitor is a bulletin board which I will discuss in more depth in a moment. (Martha Stewart brand, also found at Staples.)

I bought the decorative boxes recently at Joann Fabrics where they were on sale and I could hardly resist. The artwork is so pretty and the shades complement the desk nicely. (Speaking of color, another side note - I do love the painted woodwork here. All through the house actually. The former homeowners did a bang-up job choosing paint colors and this green, as well as the green in my kitchen, is probably my favorite - mostly because I know I wouldn't have thought of it myself!)

Inside those boxes I have extra office supplies like pencils, pens, hi-lighters, post-it notes and washi tape. These are the ones I use the most ... my main stash is just beneath in a cabinet - along with stickers, binder clips, glue sticks and clothespins. (See below.)


(You might recognize that yellow ball as our Michaelmas meteor ... yes, that had to go into immediate hiding once the younger boys wouldn't stop fighting over it. I had forgotten I stashed it in there when I went to take this picture, lol!)

Back to that corner for a moment, though! 


I also have a small index card bin here (with monthly dividers and a card for each day colored according to the liturgical season) ... favorite mini binder clips are perched on the edge of the bin and my new daily prayer book sits just behind. :)


If I'm going to be working at my computer for any length of time, I take my Day Designer (my daily planner) with me. I park it in the space to the left of my keyboard. (I usually keep my DD at the kitchen counter so I can check in with it frequently throughout the day.)

Above the monitor is a banner I made recently - an important reminder! - and an overhead light that doesn't work presently. (We're working on getting the right bulb for that fixture and then this whole work area will be much brighter!)


So a bit about the screenshot, lol, because I know you're probably wondering! That is a very pretty planner I puttered around with on the Blue Sky website. A spiral-bound, monthly-weekly affair one can personalize and then order online. I REALLY don't need another planner, but oh ... isn't this pretty? :)

Ok, to the right of the monitor is my bulletin board and more storage ...


Fyi that bulletin board is very easy to put up with adhesive tabs on the back. I found some shimmery copper push-pins to use here - to hold some visual inspiration (I tend to hoard lovely greeting cards and so display them with the seasons) as well as a few notes re ~ library password and Bookworm's class schedule, etc. Also here (beneath the owl card) is Little Bear's most recent pediatrician's report which gives his vitals, doctor contact info. and dosage information.

Beneath the board is another pretty storage box (I'm a sucker for these can't you tell?) and in this one I have craft materials for current or upcoming projects. Right now there are vintage Halloween cards to send with Earlybird, a set of paper turkeys for a Thanksgiving project and materials for our Advent countdown. The trick is to remember I put these things here, lol - but it's vital to keep these things out of the line of my younger boys' vision. ;)

In the rectangular basket I keep bills to pay, statements to review, correspondence to answer, a plastic pouch for monthly receipts and my little shopping notebook. Also tucked in here is Mama's Pink Stapler, and all my business/appointment cards held together with a binder clip ...


Tucked in the very corner of this desk is my Catholic reference book-of-the-moment and two lovely notebooks I bought at the Paper Source recently. Let me show them to you a little closer up ...

New notebooks

You know how sometimes you find - and I'm talking to my fellow paper-nuts here - a notebook that just works really well for you? The size, shape and feel of it is perfect and you just want to find all kinds of uses for it? Well, this is what happened to me with these little beauties. I bought the blue one a few weeks ago and have turned it into a "to-do" kind of journal. I then ordered the pink one online (did not dare visit that store again in person - too tempting!) and am turning it into a daily joy journal of sorts.

Ok, back to the desk ...


When I established myself at this desk I realized I needed a writing/work space as well as a computer area. I had Bill move an old table of ours (originally my grandparents') to the right of my desk chair. I like to turn to my planner/binder as I work and this is a fairly efficient set-up for me.

So on that table ...


A lamp, which casts a very cozy if not very bright light on the area! My favorite page-a-day calendar, my stack of current magazines (piled in order of read first to last, favorites on bottom!), my homekeeping binder, file crate and an in-basket.


I will have to do a separate post about how I'm using my binder as part of my overall planning system. I think I've finally found a daily-weekly combination that works for me! (Monthly-weekly-seasonal planning in the binder ... as well as my daily journaling ... but the daily nitty gritty planning takes place in my Day Designer.) 

My file crate sits nicely here on the table ...


Weekly file folders, seasonal file folders, teacher's planbook standing up in front along with printable nature-study calendars and in the way back of my crate I have a folder for all our homeschooling particulars - any correspondence, HSLDA paperwork, town/school paperwork, etc. The in-basket holds things - any old things - I come across through the week that I want to look at during my weekend "office hours." In there right now is last month's journaling pages for review, a couple of pieces of mail to look at, a storytime craft made by Little Bear (not sure how that ended up in there, lol!), my Advent book for perusal and planning, and a "just moved" announcement from a friend.

Above this work table is a framed Tasha Tudor print ...


My grandparents had this framed for me as a high school graduation gift back in 1987. It brings me such pleasure for so many reasons!

Oh, and while I'm here, let me show you yet another storage box I bought just yesterday and slipped under my work table ...



This one will be for Christmas planning and prep ... I've already stashed a couple of catalogs in there!

I keep my "briefcase" on the floor ...


(In here are this month's home learning books ... I try to find all the books we'll be using ahead of time and pull them out as we need them.)

Now, looking around my "corner office" I have a nice view out the window to my left ...


... although that couch is very tempting!

And there's a small seating area behind me for "client meetings" ... ;)




The table and chairs were originally my parents' and they are actually patio furniture but I love how they look here and the wicker is surprisingly comfortable. I envision having the boys sit with me here individually to review homework and perhaps talk about the week ahead, expectations etc. For Little Bear it's mostly about sharing Mama's tea and playing with puppets. :)

Above my desk are bookshelves full of the older boys' books and a few special nicknacks ... some of that aforementioned "clutter!"


I added those pretty wooden leaf lights just the other day - they add a nice touch on gray days and dark autumn evenings!



And if you're thinking that's a glass of wine right there in that last picture, well ... you'd be guessing right. :)

Last shot ... office motto:



Well my friends, this was a rather long post and I thank you for stopping by to read and share in my "desk joy!" Aside from needing a little more light, it's working out very well for me. I've been here at the desk all morning (well, since 6 a.m. till now which about two hours later) since Earlybird and I are the only ones up and he's out here in the family room using his iPad and watching PBSKids. I'm on my second - make that third - cup of coffee but it's now time to rally the troops and get our Saturday started! Soccer game and family lunch ... applesauce in the pot and meatloaf in the oven ... much to do and many memories to make!

Hope you all have a great weekend ... see you here again very soon!

Let's Talk ... Pocketbooks!

Aka - purse, handbag, bag, tote, and/or satchel! Whatever you might call it (and what do you call it? I'm curious!) let's talk about the thing you use to lug around all your STUFF when you leave the house. (I was surprised at how many readers didn't recognize the term "pocketbook!" I guess it must be a "Yankee" thing?)

Anyhoo ... here's a little tour of the bag(s) I'm using this Summer. With a toddler in tow these days I need something roomy and sturdy!

Summer bag 3

 This is called a "Bean's Reversible Tote, Medium, Bandana Print" ... I can't link it because it appears it is out of stock. Which is a shame because it's a really excellent bag! (Scratch that - here it is - and it's on sale! I was torn between the green and orange ...) I am quite partial to LL Bean tote bags, as longtime readers know. They last FOREVER and are incredibly versatile.

For a wallet, I have been using this handy little thing for ages ...

Summer bag 4

 It's a Vera Bradley "zip-around wallet" in Kensington print. It has a pouch for my cell phone which makes it indispensable. I can just grab this (and wrap the loop around my wrist) when I need to run in somewhere quick.

And here's how I pack up my bag ...

Bags 7

This is the bottom layer if I'm taking Little Bear out with me for an extended period of time. In that case I pack diapers and wipes as well as a change of clothes and baby-safe sunscreen, board books ...

Bags 10

And here's the rest of the stuff (it holds a lot!) ...

Bags 11

  • wristlet wallet (phone, change, cards, money, i.d.)
  • tissues, tinted lip balm
  • aforementioned diapers and wipes, hand santizing wipes, board book, sunscreen
  • sippy cup with water (for LB)
  • bubbles
  • my current book
  • shopping notebook and coupons/receipts pouch
  • pocket-size appointment book
  •  blue zippered pouch holds: emergency kit, hand cream, dental floss, hand sanitizing spray, a feminine pad, emery board, antibiotic cream, band-aids, citrus drops, small tube of ibuprofen

 In the top picture you see the outside zip pocket. In here I have my keys and another lip balm. (I can never pack too many lip balms!) I also keep sunglasses *and* reading glasses in there because I need them to read labels, credit slips and such!


Now, this is a smaller - but still roomy - Summer tote I bought a few years ago at T.J. Maxx. I use this if I don't need the really big bag - or if it matches my outfit, lol. (I have several tops that coordinate with this bag!)

Bags 8

And here is a very pretty little cross-body bag I bought several years ago, along with a matching wallet ...

Bags 9

It reminds me of Cath Kidston, a British designer I love - but it's from Target! I use this if I'm out without kids - running a quick errand, at a hair appt. or some such. For example, this very morning I used it when I met a dear childhood friend for coffee. It held all I needed and nothing more!

So ... there are my Summer pocketbooks in a nutshell. And now let's hear from some friends who sent me thoughts and pictures to share ...


From Arlene:

Bags 2

Bags 13

Dawn, I LOVE purses and I love organizing. I like this purse because it has a double zipper, hence the name the Dooney and Bourke Zip Zip Bag. I chose the bright green for spring. I do have to put things inside north south instead of east west to get them to fit. My Vera Wallet, my Dooney chevron stripe make up pouch and my Vera glasses holder which I keep my sunglasses in! I also carry a little paper notebook as I am not good at putting notes on my phone. And my phone fits in its own pocket in this purse but it was not there as I was using it to take the photos.  I have ordered a new Vera fall purse that should arrive this week. 

 Arlene, I love this pocketbook!! I love the vibrant color, the shape, and the way you fit everything in so neatly ... and I would love to see your fall purse sometime! I do love me some Vera! :)


From Amy:

Bags 1

 Fun topic!  Here's a picture of my summer handbag - I do change it out for every season. I LOVE my summer handbag, just purchased this summer. I love the bold navy and white rugby stripes, the preppy red monogram and the fact that it holds a few file folders (work related) along with my travel makeup bag. The fabric is also coated so it can withstand a summer surprise rainstorm. I purchased it at Lands' End.

Amy, this bag is right up my alley! I love roomy totes, navy and white stripes are so summery, and that bright red monogram is wonderful! I have a soft spot for monograms!


From Shirley:

Bags 3

Bags 4
Bags 5
What fun to be able to contribute to one of your blog posts again. I also love talking (and seeing) handbags and what's inside, planners etc. I have 5 handbags in rotation - depending on mood and season of course. Three of them are really good (but not designer) bags and the other two are what I would term as 'fashion handbags'. I love having 'fashion handbags' in my wardrobe as they are inexpensive and oh-so-pretty. 
I have just moved into one of my 'Fashion handbags' for the summer. It's a really cute black and white stripy bag. It has a stiff bottom section which is great as it doesn't flop about and fall over and then a fun stripy fabric top - as you can see in the picture.
Peeking inside you can see that I really only carry the essentials. This summer we have a few friends from South Africa visiting so there is going to be quite a bit of sightseeing. I don't want a handbag that is too heave to carry around. So I'm keeping it light and only carry around what I really need.
Taking a closer look you can see my gorgeous fluro pink Filofax (planner). This is my newest addition to my Filofax or ring- binder planner system. Like my handbags I like to swap my planner into season relevant binders. It's just fun ☺. The fluro pink definitely screams 'summer' to me. On top of my filofax planner is my Windows phone which I love - for the summer it has a cute little floral case.
  I have my purse with all my cards and cash (when I carry it), a little makeup bag which has my lip liner, various lipsticks, a touch-up set of make up (although I don't generally wear a huge amount of make up other than mascara and lipstick so I think that might have to come out) and and emery board inside. There is a little tin which has some headache tablets, band Aids and some womanly necessities. Sunglasses {natch} and happily I have had to use them quite a bit this summer already lol - not always the case in England! I have a small bottle of hand sanitizer and some aromatherapy headache gel which I prefer to use before popping a tablet. I also have a small notebook (the little floral one in the picture) which is my shopping list book. This one often lives on the kitchen counter so that I can jot things down as I need them. Then it gets slipped back into my handbag when I walk out the door. 
BTW I had to google what a 'pocketbook' was lol. Here in England a pocketbook is simply a little notebook, but in the U.S it seems to refer to a wallet, purse or handbag!
Shirley, your bag is gorgeous! And I also love the vivid pink planner as well as the floral phone case! I am still trying to find the "perfect" size planner to take out with me ... I will have to think on that a bit, but you have inspired me! :)


From Melissa:

"My Backpack Purse"

I have used the same purse (I call it my backpack) for about 10 years. I had a similar one for 2 years prior to that which I replaced when it fell apart. What happened in my life 12 years ago that caused me to move from years of using a purse like this? 

Bags 14

You probably have guessed it, a baby.
I didn’t want to tote around a diaper bag all the time, I can’t stand to have a purse hanging off my shoulder (they don’t stay put and I was used to being hands-free!) and small backpacks were in stores everywhere. It was enough to fit a diaper or two and other “baby stuff”. So began my tiny backpack life.

Bags 15     Bags 16

Here’s a tour of my backpack, right now, without cleaning out anything that may be embarrassing! 

Bags 17

Zipper #1 – smallest on the front

I rarely use this zipper. I keep in it important things that I don’t need often. 
1. My son’s small brush for cleaning his braces. (from diaper to braces!!)
2. A key change thing that fell off a long time ago.
3. A note about a documentary I read about somewhere.
4. This GREAT macro lens for my phone camera!

Bags 18

 Zipper #2 – larger zipper on front

I use this zipper a million times a day. This is the spot I have to clean every few days or it gets to be full of all sorts of things, mostly receipts.
1. Wallet. I always use tiny wallets, some cards and that’s all that fits.
2. Lip stuff.
3. Hotel room key (business trip!)
4. A coupon that needs to be moved to my coupon file in the car.
5. Cash. I usually don’t have cash but I got some cash back at a store a few days ago. I sometimes have coins it the bottom of this zipper area but I prefer not to so I try to empty it out often.

Bags 22

Zipper #3 – front/top large compartment

This rarely gets used. Right now it has some stuff I got for a car trip.
1. Gum and tic tacs. I usually have a small pack of gum in here but the tic tacs are something new, I got hooked on them a few months ago.
2. Lollipop. Lollipop emergencies sometimes happen.
3. Tiny hair clip. For when my bangs end up a disaster and they need to be pulled back.
4. Hotel pen. 
5. Japanese wood pen. LOVE this pen. No one touches this pen but me! It was a Christmas gift from hubby. He always gets me cool stocking stuffers from
6. Martha Stewart sticky notes which I got from my local recycle store for about 5 cents a pack! I was using them when I was reading one of Ben Hewitt’s masterpieces.

Bags 20

Middle compartment – closes with a snap

1. This is a huge open space. Right now it’s empty. It usually has a few tissues at the very bottom. I use this area to carry my beverage o’ the day, a book, stuff I need to get from in the house to the car. It’s my main carry area. My keys clasp around the top of the strap and hang securely in this section. I always keep them there so I can always grab my backpack and go without looking for keys or digging around inside a compartment. They hang securely into the compartment so that they don’t jingle when I walk.

Bags 21

Zipper #4 – tiny zipper inside large middle compartment

This is another rarely used spot. I keep very important things in here.
1. Credit Card Flashlight
2. Finger Flashlight (hmm, there seems to be a trend here!)
3. 2 tampons
4. Ricola drop
5. Elastic (for a MacGyver moment!)
6. Tax exempt form for purchases for my homeschool group
7. A Sacagawea dollar
8. A round piece of fake ivory from a scrimshaw class

Bags 23

Zipper #5 top/back large compartment

1.Cinq-o dice game that has been in there for years for when we need something to occupy us.
2. Kashi bar
3. Playing cards (box is in tatters. The elastic, item 5 above, belongs around this box to keep the cards in). We use these often.

Bags 24

 And that’s the grand tour! My backpack usually weighs close to nothing, light as a feather on my back. It gets heavy when I have a drink and a book stuffed in there. About once a year I think about getting a new purse, but then I realize that this one still suits my needs 100% and is in great condition. Someday I will get back to using cute purses again!

Melissa, first of all - wow! Thank you so much for all these great details! I love that you outlined all the things you take with you in your bag. I appreciate these kinds of lists because they help me think about what I might want to take out myself! And you truly stick to that old "adage" - keep nothing you don't find to be beautiful or useful. I enjoyed the stories behind your stuff!



Well, my friends - I hope you've all had fun on our pocketbook tour! This is a favorite subject of mine! I am very grateful to Arlene, Amy, Shirley and Melissa for taking the time to share their bags with us ... and I am very happy to know I am not alone in my pocketbook obsession! I have many bags to choose from so it's hard to rationalize a new purchase, but with every season comes a "tug" to look for a new bag. Something that will reflect the mood and serve the needs of the season. For many of us, our bags stand in as a little "home away from home" while out and about ... and if you are a mom (or grandmom) you know that everyone will be looking to you when someone needs something ... a band-aid, a hand wipe, a distraction from a long drive or waiting room visit!

Always good to be prepared is my motto!


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

New Email Address!

Well, not new exactly - just not wrong! Lol, I am sorry if you had trouble sending me your pocketbook photos ... It seems I mis-typed the email address in my previous post. You can reach me here at:

bysunandcandlelight AT comcast DOT net.

Many thank to Melissa for bringing this to my attention!

Enjoy your evening, my friends ...

Hydrangeas 3

Here's a peek at my lovely hydrangea bush for your trouble. It needs pruning, I know, but it's blooming like crazy this year! :)

See you all again very soon ...

A Pocketbook Post!

Rose breasted grosbeak

Good Tuesday morning, my friends!

In yesterday's post I mentioned, very briefly, that I'd like to do a post about Summer Pocketbooks, but if you didn't read all the way to the end of the post (which was all about rhubarb crisp), you might have missed it!

(So here I am this morning to mention it again.)

Basically, I love to talk about bags (pocketbooks, totes, satchels, etc.), and what-all we might keep in there we women, mothers who work hard inside and/or outside the home ... and to my mind, each season has its own style of bag. So I'd love to hear from others about their own bags in words and/or pictures! Do you use the same favorite bag all year round or do you change them up with the seasons? Are in the market for a new purse, perhaps? Is that elusive perfect-bag still out there somewhere? 

Well ... if you'd like to send me something for the pocketbook post, you may do so at:

bysunandcandlelight AT comcast DOT net

I will run the post on Monday so you have until Sunday night to send me something, if you wish. I do hope you'll join the discussion!

Now, the bird pictured above has absolutely nothing to do with pocketbooks, but I wanted to show you all the new species we spotted at the feeder yesterday! It's a rose-breasted grosbeak and it's the first time we've seen one here at the new house. He's a really good-sized bird - about the size of a robin, with a thick beak and vivid markings. He ate well and peered in at Little Bear and myself as we had our afternoon snack ... kindly, he allowed me to get several shots before he headed back to the woods.


Ok then, I will be off on my way, but I do hope to hear from you and I wish you all a very pleasant Tuesday ...

See you here again very soon!

A New Season of Tea ... on Tuesdays!

(But sometimes Wednesdays.)

TT 3

Happy MidWeek, my friends!

I'm so happy to get back to my weekly tea posts ... I really had such fun with them last year! My schedule this fall is a bit busier than it was last year, but I'll try not to let that deter me ... in fact, I think I'll need that weekly "tea hour" all the more!

So my "tea" today focused on cold cider, not hot tea, in honor of Johnny Appleseed Day (and the mild weather). I took my mug and goodies out to the deck to enjoy alongside the gusty wind and shifting sun ...

TT 2

The cider was so crisp and tart-sweet, just right for this lovely fall day.

Now, when I "take tea" I like to gather up some fun and pretty things to look over or maybe just look at. :)

Today I had a few new books to peruse ...

For EB, two B&N clearance specials:

Squirrel's Fall Search and Goonight, Mouse ... sweet, autumnal animal stories.

And for me, a library find: The Happiest Mom ... mostly because I loved the look of the book!

... as well as ...

A recent Amazon splurge: Williams-Sonoma Family Meals: Creating Traditions in the Kitchen ... because it's just gorgeous and filled with great recipe ideas.

Rounding out my tea "atmosphere" today was a lovely pocketbook that once belonged to my grandmother. I just love the vibrant embroidery, set against the dark chocolate background ...

 TT 4

 (And I couldn't help but notice how nicely my new nail polish ("Angora Cardi") matched my "new" purse.)

TT 5


My friends, if you're taking tea, what's your brew of choice these days? Do you like the same thing year-round, or do you change it up according to season? I'm always looking for new "tea" ideas!

Have a great night, everyone ... see you here again very soon!

Fall Fowers (of one kind and another)

Flower bags 2

An embroidered floral applique, so lovely in rich autumn shades.

It inspired me to make myself a pretty pair of bags!

 Flower bags 1

A simple ecru tote and an olive green messenger bag. Both are (well) made of a light cotton canvas, and I got them both - as well as the floral patches - at JoAnn's Fabrics.
(What don't I get there these days, lol?)
And before I go, here area some true fall flowers ...
Fall flowers 1
Cheerfully gracing our front walkway!

You know, it's wise to appreciate all the glorious colors at this time of year, because before long they'll be dimmed by winter wind and darker days ...
Have a great weekend, my friends! Take care of yourselves and your loved ones, and I will see you here again very soon ...


An early touch of fall ...

Good morning, my friends!

So I stopped in at JoAnn Fabrics this weekend and was very happy to find a wonderful sale on fall decor ... I also happened to have several coupons to use so I splurged a little!

First, below you see a new tablecloth I got for the picnic table ...

Joann finds 1

I love how it coordinates with the chair cushions and planters, and I adore the folksy pattern! It's made from a flannel-backed vinyl, so it's great for the outdoors - and crafts, snacks and nature study etc. on the deck.

Joann finds 2

I also purchased these pretty clip-on silk sunflowers ...

Joann finds 3

They were about a dollar apiece. :)

This autumnal table runner also caught my eye ...

Joann finds 4

The print's a bit "70s" but I like it!

Joann finds 7

I also bought an olive green canvas messenger bag and a pretty embroidered floral patch to iron on it.

Joann finds 8

Won't that make a nice "homemade" fall bag?

And finally, and this has nothing to do with fall decor, but I wanted to share ...

Joann finds 6

Bill brought me flowers on Saturday, just before Crackerjack's party.

Aren't they lovely?


Well my friends, thanks so much for stopping by and letting me share a few early fall touches around my home. And thank you for all the wonderful "work at home" comments as well! I'm really enjoying reading your responses, and I hope you all are too!

Have a great Tuesday, everyone ~ see you here again very soon!

Happy Holiday Weekend!

Ok, technically, the holiday weekend doesn't officially begin for oh, another 24 hours or so ... but Bill has taken tomorrow off, so we're starting our holiday early! And this makes me so happy ... as does finishing up Earlybird's science fair project today! So I thought I'd pop in to say hello, and share a few photos with you all on this fine Thursday evening.

Summer bag

My new summer bag. I'm in love with those colors!

Magnifying tree

Earlybird conducting "tree research" today.

Basket of school supplies

I love how appealing school supplies look "basking" in the sun.

Catfight 1

Our little scamps - in the middle of a "friendly disagreement."

(Note the terse ears.)

Catfight 2

Look away, Mother. You don't want to see this.

And how sweet are these pansies?

Pansy face

And one more thing ... I found this bracelet today while I was cleaning a drawer in my bedroom. Bookworm (and Bill) bought this for me at a craft fair when my firstborn was ... oh, two maybe three?

Mama bracelet

It's quite dingy and worn, but that's only because I wore it ALL the time for many years. It sure brought a smile to my face to see that bracelet again. :)


Well, my friends, I hope you've all had a good day, and I hope your evening is stretching out nicely before you. I'm going to sign off till tomorrow ... but thank you so much for stopping by. I'll see you again very soon!

Marketing Binder ~ Test Run!

Test run 1

Well, I took my new marketing binder on the road with me today as I ran my myriad errands ... and I'm pleased to report it performed very well! :)

Since my current pocketbook was too small to hold the binder, I had to switch up bags. (Which was fine ~ I was in the mood for a "spring switch!") So I chose a tote I haven't used in some time, but was roomy enough to hold the binder and a wallet (as well as other sundries commonly found in any mom's bag). This bag would also be roomy enough to carry my month-at-a-glance binder, should I need to have that with me.

The nice thing about this set is, for one thing, the two pieces match - and for another, I can use a detachable strap and wear the wallet around my body as I shop.

Test run 2

Now, are you ready for some "action shots," lol?

{You are all so good to humor me.}

So here's my binder (and bag) on the car seat next to me ...

Test run 8

And here's my binder (and bag) in my shopping cart ...

Test run 7

(Note: The child safety belt is looped through the bag straps and secured - also, I'm wearing my wallet on me. I've learned my lesson in this area.)

I did get a few strange looks as I took those pictures (though I tried to play it off like I was just checking my email). Nobody asked me about my binder - however, I noticed some second looks in the deli line. ;)

So yes, the binder worked well - my coupons were handy and easy to manage, and it was nice having my list right here in this spot, too. But I realized I need a place for receipts. I don't have room in my wallet for stashing receipts, and I don't like to just pitch them in my bag (which, ahem, is what I usually do). So I bought this "gusseted binder pocket" at Staples today for just this purpose. I'll keep it in the very back of the binder.

Test run 3

I also found my shopping list pages were too thin to withstand the flipping back and forth between sections. (I was using regular Mead lined paper to start with.) So I bought some Martha Stewart "project planner" filler paper to use instead. Not only is the MS paper much sturdier, but I like the design very much:

Test run 6

The design works for me because I tend to write my food list on the lefthand side of my page and use the right side for non-food stops - everything from the library to Petsmart to Michaels Arts & Crafts ...

And speaking of Michaels, I also spent a good deal of time there today, picking out some Lenten craft materials. (And using up some Christmas gift cards while I was at it.) I can't wait to show (and tell) you all about that ... maybe tomorrow if I have the time!

So that's all for now, folks ... but I hope this post was informative (or maybe amusing) to some. :) Time now to make supper for the troops ... and settle in for a nice quiet Saturday night. I hope you all have a good one ... I will see you again very soon!

Well, this was quite unexpected ...

Just look what found its way home!


Yes, that's my "summer" purse - the one that was stolen Memorial Day weekend! And you'll never guess what? Everything is still inside - not one thing is missing!

It's all a bit jumbled (obviously, it's been rifled through) and a couple of things are crushed, but literally, not even one coupon is missing!


So here's what happened ...

Yesterday afternoon the phone rang and I didn't recognize the caller - now, usually when I don't recognize a number I let the call go to the machine, but for some reason I decided to pick up. The person on the other end of the line told me they were calling from a local discount store and that they had my pocketbook there - it had "turned up" in their store!

I was stunned. Stunned! Literally, it took me a moment to find my voice!

I asked them if it was ruined (for some reason I pictured it rain-soaked and tire-marked, lol) but the woman said, no, it seemed to be all right. She asked if I had a yellow wallet (to which I answered, yes) and said that she found my contact information on my checkbook. 

And there was me ... still stunned!

So I arranged to have Bill pick it up on his way home from work, and he did ... and now, as you see above, it is back in my possession again.

Crazy, right?

My thinking is that the woman who took my purse made a beeline for this store next and - realizing I had no cash in my bag - just walked it into the store, stuffed it somewhere, and then targeted someone else. 

And now, this many weeks later, some store clerk found my purse - relatively unharmed, and still totally intact - and now I have it back again!

I'd say it was an answer to a prayer, but I honestly didn't pray to get my pocketbook back. I figured it was long gone. I did however pray for peace of mind over this ... I was really shaken up by this experience. No, I wasn't mugged, or harmed in any way - my boys weren't even with me when it happened - and I didn't even see it happen, but still ... it really did unsettle me. It left me with an underlying anxiety that ruined my sleep and gave me palpitations for days. I felt guilt (and frustration!) over the endless hoops we had to jump through to protect our assets and secure our credit. The first time I went back to "my" supermarket I had a mild panic attack. I walked in just as easy as you please, and then my deli guy (the nicest man) asked how I was doing (having heard of the theft), and as soon as we finished talking I felt that adrenaline surge throughout my limbs and that restless feeling of just wanting/needing to leave; I finished my shopping quickly and got back home. The next couple of weekends were similar, but now everything feels normal again. I do feel peace and I do feel resolved (since the thief was ultimately identified and brought to justice) but I AM much more cautious with my belongings these days. This was a hard lesson learned ...

Don't be careless with your personal belongings and safety! Don't live in fear, but do be smart about things. No matter where you are - your comfort zone is not an impenetrable bubble. My little bubble got popped that weekend, that's for sure ...


Well anyways, there's my little story for today! I figured you'd all like to hear what hopefully will be the last chapter in my "pocketbook saga," lol. 

So for now, I wish you all a safe and smart Thursday ...

And I will see you all again very soon!


Where do you keep the kids' "school" stuff?


And by "school stuff" I mean the textbooks, workbooks, notebooks (etc.) your kids need in a given week of learning at home. Their curriculum, I guess is what I'm getting at. Do you use a shelf, a cubbie, a bin or maybe a bag, as shown above?

I happened to be taking pictures in the learning room today and I thought I'd show you this spot - I had just neatened it up and it looked bright and cheery. :) Here is where I display seasonal picture books and just below, are parked the three "school" bags. (Lol, I feel compelled to put "school" in quotes. We're not trying to "be" or "do" school - we like the term home learners - but it's just easier to phrase it this way.) On the left we have Bookworm's bag in green, Crackerjack's in red, and finally, Earlybird's on the right in blue. (Isn't it convenient my boys all favor three different, primary colors?) By the way, their real names are embroidered on the other side of each bag. ;)

I should say I'm pretty sure I've shown you all their bags before but it's surely been a while, and I know I have a fair amount of new readers - plus we've only just started using the bags again after quite a long break. Last year we used the baskets in the cubbies shown beneath the bench - but they just got way too heavy! Now those baskets hold paper, coloring books and other miscellaneous softcover books.

We started this year by simply stacking the books on the top of the bench in three separate piles, but that got rather unruly. I finally decided to haul out those old Bean totes (cleaning out the materials left inside from a couple of years ago!) and neatly stacked the boys' materials inside. They work great - though Bookworm's bag is a pretty tight fit, I must say!

Bookworm and Crackerjack's bags hold their Oak Meadow materials and a few other books. Earlybird's bag holds a combination of books, workbooks, magazines, drawing and writing pads, puzzles and picture cards and a big nature encyclopedia. I also have a bag - on the floor to the left of the bench is a large tote which holds all my educational materials: manuals, teacher editions, catalogs, etc. 

Now, truth be told, we have books all over the house - in every room except the bathroom, lol! We have two bookcases in the living room - one holds mostly novels, the other holds mostly reference books (science, history, etc.). We have a bookcase in the learning room which holds all our nature-related books (field guides, idea books and the like), and there is a large bookcase in the family room that holds Figaro's cage as well as Earlybird's trucks, our religion books, and family dvd's. Quite an eclectic collection in that spot!

Earlybird's room has only baskets of books, but the older boys have - oh, what is it now? - three or four bookcases in their bedroom. These hold their ginormous library of personal reading - as well as plenty of Lego creations and video games.

In our basement we also have boxes and boxes of stored books - and they are in desperate need of sorting/clearing out. One of my spring goals is to pare down our book collection drastically. I should probably start now though, if I have even a whisper of hope of getting that chore accomplished!

So back to the bags for a moment - they are working well for us right now. The older boys do their assignments up at the kitchen island - I tend to stack their books on the counter in front of them before they dig in. As they finish a subject, the books go back in the bags. 

Earlybird and I work at the dining room table where we can really spread out. And with him, less clutter the better. I set out one activity at a time and (as much as possible) clean up after we're done before we move onto something else. Too much visual stimulation is distracting for EB.

OK, this post has grown VERY long, so I'd best wrap things up. I hope you've all had a nice Tuesday. The flurries have passed and now we have clear skies at sundown. The light is very pretty glinting off the trees and sparkling on the ice. I find myself itching to take pictures. ;)

As for tomorrow ~ well, they've downgraded the projected snowfall amounts to 9-12 inches (from 10-15) ... thank goodness for small favors, right?

Have a wonderful evening, and thanks so much for stopping by. I will see you all again very soon ...

My Pretty Purple Bag


So of course you knew I was going to show you what I got at The Paper Store this morning. ;)

This is one of my favorite places to shop - it's like a candy store for women! If I'm shopping for a mom or an aunt or a sister or a friend, I know to come here and I'll easily find a perfect gift. In addition to the gift card from my parents, I also happened to have a birthday coupon the store sent me *and* some Hallmark reward points to cash in. Needless to say I was well armed and ready to shop!

And what a fun time I had perusing all the goodies on display, deciding what to buy for myself! Well, as I've mentioned before, I have quite a weakness for bags ...


And I kind of have this thing for purple lately, too ...

It was the lovely color that caught my eye first, but the embroidery really drew me in. It's a very generously sized tote - with a pocket on the inside as well as the outside. It easily fits all my "stuff" ... the items I lug around with me, to work on when I have a spare minute or five: my journal, clipboard, planner/binder, current book and some magazines and catalogs too.

As you might guess, I'm very happy with my new "birthday" bag. :)

After I got home from my shopping, Bill and Earlybird ran out to pick up some pizza for lunch. We're hosting a "Greek Mythology Night" later this week for our monthly homeschool activity night, and we found a local pizza place that specializes in Greek foods. This was a "trial run" of sorts. I've been staying away from pizza lately, but I tried a little spinach pie that was absolutely delicious. We're definitely getting some of that for our gathering!

Well, I hope you've all had a nice Monday. As I finish up this post, I'm smelling the soup cooking away in the kitchen - it smells SO good! No homemade bread for us tonight, though - we waited too long to start the machine. Pilsbury crescent rolls will just have to do. ;)

Have a great night, my friends ... thanks for stopping by! I'll see you all again very soon ...