Calendars & Planners Feed

A Cute Easter Craft & Holiday Plans!

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Hello my friends, and Happy April! I hope you are all doing well. :-)

Today I'd like to share a couple of quick things with you:

~ a cute little craft my mum and I did with the younger kids, and ...

~ a peek at my notes for the upcoming Easter holiday!

First though - aren't these pansies just gorgeous??

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Earlybird and I purchased them at a local nursery yesterday and I just think they are the cheeriest little flowers! Bill and EB will plant them in the pair of black urns that stand on either side of our front door. Those beautiful shades of purple and white and yellow ... they speak to me of spring! And how fun they will be to sketch in our journals this week! 

In fact, this would be a nice poem to memorize in April:

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But now for that cute little candle craft we worked on this past week!

There were two parts to this project - the eggshell candles and the painted wooden egg cups. I'll start with the eggs as I got these ready a day ahead. Basically I just followed instructions I found online to make these candles. I started by coloring fresh eggs with a PAAS coloring kit. (And by "fresh" I mean, I didn't hard boil them or blow out the yoke first.)

If you follow me on Instagram you might have gotten a peek at my eggs the other day ...

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And I must mention these sweet little egg custards made with maple syrup and milk - one of my favorite treats to serve in March, when the hens start laying and the sap starts running! And yes, those are our hens' eggs in that basket on the right. :-)

Now, I did all of this on Wednesday, because my mother was coming over on Thursday to help with the craft. I know Mum loves custards and I also remember fondly all the times she would make them for my grandmother (who found eating difficult in her last years). This custard is just so smooth, comforting and nourishing and my grandmother just relished it. I did too!

Don't you just love family recipes like that? πŸ’•

Ok, now for the next part ...

First Mum and I cleaned out the eggs' innards. We did this by poking the top of the egg with a teeny-tiny screwdriver I found in Bill's hardware drawer and then made the hole bigger with our fingers, scrambling and then dumping out the yolk.

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(Unsurprisingly, the kids did not want to help with this part!)

Next we peeled the shells down so the egg had a small cup shape, and once fully dry, I prepared the eggs for the beeswax ...

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For this craft, I ordered candle wicking from Amazon and it came with stickers for the metal disk at the bottom of each wick (to secure it to the base) as well as wooden sticks drilled with holes for keeping the wick straight as the wax sets.

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We next melted a few beeswax bars in a makeshift double boiler - a clean can with tin foil molded to the bottom sitting in a small pan of simmering water. The tin foil helps keep the can from scraping the pan. (I learned that lesson the hard way, lol!)

Once the beeswax was liquid, we carefully poured the wax into the egg shells. This is very tricky - you need a steady hand! - so I had Bill help me with this part. He used tongs to hold the can because of course, it was very hot!

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Now as the egg candles cooled, we set up to paint with the kids at the table. I had purchased some unfinished wooden egg cups on Amazon for this craft. Mum, the kids - and even Bill! - and I set about painting them in any way we wished. We mostly chose springy colors and themes. The egg candles were ready by the time we finished up and so here's the final results:

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These little egg candles will be set on our dining tables on Easter Sunday. I'm so pleased with how they came out! 

Ok, now for a peek into my planner ... :-)

Pictured here is my go-to, all-around, everyday planner. It is a Wonderland 222 planner plus notebook. I keep both books in a leather/canvas cover and I love the ease of flipping back and forth between my monthly/weekly planner and my daily journaling pages. This particular section shown below is in my journal and as you can see I've devoted a two-page spread to my Easter plans and notes ...

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The floral paper is something I added in myself - I have a whole pad of these lovely papers, but for the life of me I can't remember where I found them! I used a Tombow adhesive applicator to adhere the stationary to my planner page. On this page I simply brainstormed all the preparations I'd need to make leading up to Easter Sunday.

On the right-hand page I jotted down pertinent dinner details (date/time/guests) and added (again, with Tombow) a pretty pastel week-at-a-glance. I always like to plan the nitty-grittiest of details in the final week before any big event!

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Also on this page I've started a list of cleaning tasks. I will obviously be referring back to this spread very often over the next two weeks!

Lastly ...

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I found a sticky note pad with - yes, coordinating colors! I'm using it to work out the menu. It's still a work-in-progress as  you can see!

Well, my friends, I hope you enjoyed this post, and I hope wherever you are and however you celebrate, you are able to enjoy this new season of new life and loveliness. I also hope and pray you and your loved ones are happy, safe and well. πŸ™πŸ»

Thanks so much for stopping by ... I will hope to see you again very soon!

Love,

~ Dawn


How I use my homemade planner ... a tour!

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Hello, my friends and Happy Sunday! I hope this post finds you all happy, healthy and safe. :-)

In my last post I shared the PDF links to my monthly planning sheets for 2022 and today I'd like to dig a little deeper. For those new to my blog, I have been sharing my homemade planner for several years now. In addition to this weekly planner (which includes monthly calendars) I also have shared many seasonal and holiday planning worksheets over the years. (Check out my PRINTABLES archive for more details.)

I absolutely love designing these planning sheets and it makes me so happy to share them here with you all. They are in no way a "professional" product (not at this point anyway!), just a work of my heart ... a "tool" I myself use in order to ...

slow myself down

savor the seasons

focus on my home and family ...

and mindfully prepare for each week of the year!

So today I'd like to walk you through the process of taking these printed-out sheets and transforming them into a personal planner. Then I'll share a few of the completed pages "in action" so to speak!

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Ok, shown here in these first pictures is my final planner. I first printed out each PDF (the front section + each of the monthly sections), and then chose a piece of scrapbooking paper (cardstock weight) for the cover. I used similar paper for my monthly dividers. (You'll see an example of these further down in this post). Lastly, I added a thick piece of chipboard as a sturdy back cover.

I had a little fun creating a unique cover design, using some papers and stickers I had on hand ...

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I absolutely love a vintage aesthetic, especially woodsy, botanical images. These lovely papers are part of the "Nature Notebook Collection" from Graphic 45 - except for the  black and white floral cover which was purchased at Michaels many years ago.

Some years I keep my planning sheets in a 3-ring binder, but I usually have it bound at Staples. In general, it takes about 20 minutes and costs about $6.

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Back at home I added adhesive tabs to the monthly divider pages as well as a clear pocket to the inside cover. I decorated that pocket with some stickers personalizing my planner (just for fun!). Currently I have some note papers here I may want to use in my planner, but have not yet figured out how.

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The front section of the planner includes a title page, a dated yearly calendar (which I found on Pinterest) and some annual planning pages ...


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I used a highlighter on the dated calendar to remind me of our homeschooling schedule. The new year page has some goals written down and to keep them private I just used a pretty piece of scrapbooking paper to cover them. 

Next is an undated calendar for keeping track of ALL the events happening this year ... and then an outline where I can plan out our weekly seasonal themes.

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The following section is for sketching out a weekly and daily rhythm. I have not filled these in yet since we're awaiting a possible change to our son's therapy schedule. Once I have that information I will be able to complete this section.

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The last page in the front section is a monthly homekeeping task calendar. I must stress that this is an IDEA of what should/could be done throughout the year but suffice it to say -  have never EVER done it all. I just use these as gentle reminders as I go about planning out a new month!

And speaking of ... here we begin the monthly planning section and - slacker that I am - I completely missed the first two months of the year by the time I got around to making my 2022 planner! So this time around, I begin with March ...

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I use this divider page as a kind of "inbox"  - if there is some information I need to remember for a certain month, but I'm not actively working in that month yet, I jot it on a sticky note and place it here. Things like - appointments, movie/tv or book releases, random reminders and such. Once I've recorded the info, I remove the sticky - so March (my current month) has no stickies. April, however, is full of them!

(Note: I am always asked about these pretty vintage-style papers and unfortunately they can be hard to find. This particular print is from a collection called "Children's Hour" and while that is out of print, I am happy to report there are many lovely prints to choose from. Just search for "Graphic 45" at Amazon to see what's available at this time. I purchase 12x12 pads and cut the papers down to planner size, which is 8.5" x 11". 

Now, flipping this divider page, we find ...

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The monthly title page!

When I make up my planning sheets I have such fun looking on Pinterest for vintage designs and seasonal quotations! I have decided to use the backside of the divider page as a spot for a monthly nature diary. I have a phenology wheel here attached to some dot-grid notebook paper, which was then attached to the divider using a Tombow adhesive applicator. I plan to add some photos or perhaps sketches here as well. 

And now we come to the first monthly calendar spread!

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I edge each monthly calendar with washi tape so it stands out and here is where I attach the adhesive monthly tab. I like to do a little doodling in the open spaces and maybe add some pretty paper cutouts. In the notes column I create a little almanac - listing things special to each month, such as flower, gem, moon, seasonal themes and new releases to look forward to. (I am a big fan of historical romance!) 

And here's a peek at the next spread ...


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The left page is a monthly vision board - and I just covered it up with some images I found on Pinterest as well as some photos. This is a collage of my March "blessings" ... Irish soda bread on my grandmother's Irish china, pussy willows, melting/mud, maple sugaring, spring teatime, snowdrops, leprechauns and the return of the red-winged blackbirds. :-)

The right page is actually an overview of the month but instead of filling that out, I attached an outdoor almanac here, printed out from our local Mass Audubon website. (I strongly encourage you to tweak the planner to your own specifics! It's easy enough to add special papers here and there ... and I think it adds visual interest, too!)

Ok, and now we have the heart of the planner - the weekly planning spread!

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I haven't really played around with this design too much over the years. It still works pretty well for me, covering the main areas of my life. I know some folks prefer a "Sunday start" but honestly, I just see Monday as the first day of my week. 

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The left side of the spread is where I kind of sketch out ideas and make lists. I signify what's of note for the week (events, appointments, anything outside of the norm), as well as the week's seasonal theme ...

This week (3/14-3/20) we'll be exploring the concept of "Thaw" in honor of Friday's Full Sap Moon. Most of my themes are pretty timely (or seasonal, I should say), but sometimes they're completely spot on! Case in point - it's 30 something degrees today and BLUSTERY as all heck - plus, there is still snow and ice on the ground! But, we are expecting a week of sunshine and temps in the 50s and 60s and so we should see a LOT of melting and dropping and mud and all that comes with it! We'll learn about maple sugaring (which relies on the combination of mild days and freezing nights to get that sap running) and we'll search our woods for signs of spring. (Because of course, as I'm sure you realize - the vernal equinox arrives next Sunday morning!)

I create a meal plan for the week, noting any special seasonal foods to consider making/purchasing ...

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And I list out all kinds of ideas for creating seasonal connections and celebrating special days as a family - for instance, St. Patrick's Day and St. Joseph's Day as well as the ancient spring feast known as Ostara.

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The right hand side of the spread is where I "see" my week at a glance and manage my schedule. I use colored pens to designate when I'll be going somewhere  - or when my husband or one of the kids are going somewhere. And then there is a nice big column for notes ...


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This can be used as an open space or the lines can be separated into daily notes if you wish. I often use it as a space for lesson planning. I haven't filled out this week's plan yet, but here is a peek at last week's ...

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***

Well, there you have it! A little (or maybe a lot) about how I make and use my own homemade planner. Please see this post if you are interested in checking out my planning sheets for yourself. They are free for your personal use! I just ask that if you share about them online you give me a tag or a link back to my blog. Thanks so much!

Now, some folks have asked me about daily planning ... and well, that's a great question, but I think I'll tackle that topic in a future post! I will however  give you a quick peek at a daily planning page I designed for myself ... but more on that (plus that pretty notepad just purchased today) in an upcoming post!

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For now I wish you all a wonderful, late winter evening and thank you sincerely for stopping by to read and maybe say hi. I hope you enjoyed the post and I really hope you enjoy my planning sheets!

Please let me know if you have any questions ... but for now, I will say "bye!" Take care of  yourselves and your loved ones, my friends ... see you here again very soon!


My 2022 Planning Sheets! (FINALLY!)

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Good Monday morning, my friends! Well - at long long last, here are ALL of my 2022 planning sheets!

I am working on a follow-up post with details on A. how I assemble my own planner using these sheets - and, B. how I maintain and utilize the planner itself! That post is still in draft form, and as I didn't want to delay any further in getting these sheets to you all, here they are! (And just a day shy of the new month!)

I hope you enjoy my work, and as always, please feel free to use these sheets for your own personal use. If you share them online, please tag me or link back here to my blog. And if you have any problems uploading the PDF links, please let me know! Leave me a comment here or shoot me an email at drhanigan AT gmail DOT com.

Ok, here we go! Happy New(ish) Year, everyone! Talk again soon ... Love, Dawn

Front Section

January 2022

February 2022

March 2022

April 2022

May 2022

June 2022

July 2022

August 2022

September 2022

October 2022

November 2022

December 2022


My Homemade 2021 Planner + Free Printables!

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Hello my friends and Happy New Year! I hope you and your loved ones are all safe and well. :-)

As I announced yesterday on my Instagram and Facebook, I have posted links to all my 2021 planning sheets - at long last! I have them all pinned at the top of this page - which, you might have noticed, has gotten a bit of a makeover ...

New year, new design!

Anyhoo - my apologies for getting my planning sheets up so very late this year. My hope was to post the PDFs last weekend, but computer issues bogged me down ... and then Thursday morning, as I was chugging along getting very close to the finish line, Earlybird became suddenly quite ill. We ended up taking him to the emergency room and then staying overnight at the hospital. Not quite the way we wanted to spend New Year's Eve, but perhaps rather fitting for the infamous year that was 2020!

Most importantly though, Earlybird is home now and doing much better. He'd been diagnosed with a sinus infection Tuesday at the pediatrician's, but by Thursday morning his face had swelled up and he'd developed a high fever. At the hospital he was diagnosed with "facial cellulitis" and immediately put on intravenous antibiotics. As you can imagine, this experience was incredibly difficult and frightening for Earlybird (as well as his parents). Thankfully the hospital staff was excellent - sensitive and supportive - and EB was so brave, a real trooper! Unfortunately, his fear of needles made it impossible to continue the IV treatment on Friday once the first portal became corrupted, so we were sent home with oral medication and instructions to monitor his recovery closely. So far, (two days post-discharge), he has improved quite a bit. I have been begging prayers all around my social media platforms and I will ask them of you all too, if I may. If you could think of my EB and send him positive thoughts and healing energy, and any prayers if you can spare them - that he continues to heal fully and without any further complications ... I would be so very grateful!

Ok, now - enough of all that, let's take look at my planner, shall we? 

This is the fourth or fifth year I've made up a homemade planner like this, and I must say I am especially pleased with the results this time around! And I know I say this every year, but I really do hope to make this planner available for purchase sometime in the near future. I think I've really got the hang of making it now, I just need to figure out the "logistics" of setting up shop! (Watch for a planner mailing list later this winter for interested folks!)

In the meantime however, please feel free to use these sheets any way you wish, as long as it's for personal use. And if you post about them online, please give me a tag!

Ok, so let me walk you through how I put this planner together ...

First of all, I use a higher quality printer paper for printing out my planning sheets. This year I used Xerox "Bold Professional Premium Quality Printer Paper" (24 lb., 98 bright). I purchased it at CVS. I find that if I use a lower quality, "copy" paper, the planner pages are somewhat see-through, a little rougher to the feel and don't take my pen-ink well.

I use this paper to print out the 12 monthly PDFs plus the Front Section PDF and stack them in order.

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I then choose a pretty piece of scrapbooking card-stock weight paper for my cover. I decided to go with a soft bluish-green plaid paper this year ...

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... and I used some glittery, soft-aqua letter stickers as well. :-)

Ok, next!

I then create 12 monthly divider pages using thicker card-stock paper. This is not strictly necessary - you could edge the monthly title pages with washi paper to make them stand out - but I like the extra strength and stability those thicker dividers lend to my planners.

For these divider pages, I like to use vintage-style scrapbooking papers I found on Amazon years ago. The particular designs I used have gone out of print, but Graphic 45 always has lovely collections to choose from! As an example, here is the January divider:

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(Note: as these collections come in 12"x12" sheets, I cut them down to fit my 8.5"x11" planner.)

I also use a sturdy piece of chipboard for the back cover of my planner.

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Just for fun, I made a cozy little date-stamp for the back cover:

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(I can't remember exactly where I purchased that nest sticker but it might have been at Paper Source.)

Once I have all the pages of my planner in order, I bring my planner to Staples to have it spiral-bound. This costs about $5 and is usually a pretty quick service. I was happy to have a choice between black and blue coil-binding this year - and I went with the blue!

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(Note: I have also used these sheets in a 3-ring binder. I love that option for the flexibility, but I find writing in a spiral-bound book much easier than writing in - and carrying around - a binder.)

Ok, here is a look-see through my planner!

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Title Page

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New Year Thoughts Page

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January Cover Page

(Note: I search Pinterest for *vintage "month" images* to use in my planners. As long as I'm not profiting from these planning sheets I believe the images are free to use for personal use.)

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Two-page monthly calendar spread (right side).

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January Notes Calendar

(This was my original month-at-a-glance calendar before I figured out how to make a two-page spread! I've used this in different ways over the years - for dinner menus, nature notes and even as a habit tracker.)

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January Overview: To-dos, Home & Garden Goals, Budget and Seasonal Ideas.

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The weekly spread, left side (overview) ...

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The weekly spread, right side (agenda and notes).

(Beginning with the coming week (1/4-1/10), there is a spread like this for each week of the year. In addition to the monthly pages shown above, there is also a monthly review page as well as a couple of extra lined planning pages for each month.)

In a follow-up post I will show you some of my completed planner pages to give you an idea how I actually USE this planner! But for now I will wrap up, and bid you all a fond farewell on this dark, snowy Sunday night. Please let me know if you have any troubles with the links for my planning sheets - I should mention that sometimes the files can be slow to load. But I do hope you enjoy them and I will look forward to talking "planners and planning" again here with you all very soon!

Take care, my friends! Be well and at peace.

❀


Advent Plans in my Bullet Journal + 2021 Planner News!

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Hello my friends, how are you?! I hope you are all staying healthy and safe. My family and I are all doing fine - though I cannot believe it has been more than two months since my last post!

Time certainly flew by this fall ... but I'm happy to say that the eye strain, headaches and neck pain that kept me from spending long periods of time on my computer or working in my planners, these past several months seems to be finally subsiding. I just wrapped up about 8 weeks of physical therapy and that seems to have made such a difference! Home exercises plus postural changes -  as well as an awareness of when I'm overdoing it - will hopefully keep this condition under control and in the new year I hope to be a more consistent blogger! :-)

Now, something else that's hard to believe? The Advent season is upon us! And of course Christmas is just around the corner ...

As some of  you might remember, a few years back I made up a multi-page printable Advent planner and I'd like to share the link (updated for 2020) today with you all:

Preparing for Christmas (a Dawn@Home Planner)

As for my own seasonal planning this year, I have been working a lot in my little bullet journals lately. Goodness, but I missed them this summer! I was able to get back to bullet journaling a couple of months ago and I'm happy to say I completed a whole journal for September and October. These two months together I call the season of "early autumn," and so I am now currently working on a new journal for Late Autumn (November-December). And this is where I've been doing most of my Advent planning! Would you like to see a few of my pages?

First, here is a spread I made for two special seasonal countdowns - Gratitude Month (November) and Advent (December):

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And here is a peek at my December monthly calendar:

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Next, and as seen in my top photo, here is our main Advent themes overview:

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As I've discussed through the years, we follow a nature-based, Waldorf-inspired Advent tradition. Each week leading up to Christmas, we explore and wait alongside creation - moving from one natural realm to another.

I found these lovely images on Pinterest:

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And the Advent verse is from the Winter Kindergarten book from Wynstones Press.

On the right-hand page I jotted down my ideas for each week:

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And here is this week's planning spread, reflecting our seasonal theme: "Sticks, Stones & Garden Bones."

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The page shown above is meant for weekly "seasonskeeping" notes as well as any nature observations and photos I'd like to save. I fold it in half so I can still see the right-hand page of my weekly spread.

And speaking of that right-hand page!

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In my next post I'll share pictures of our Advent activities and decorations, but here is a quick peek at some of my crafting materials:

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❀ 

Ok, now for that planner news I mentioned in my title!

So ... the bad news is ... I had hoped (really, really hoped) I would have a little shop (of some sort) open this autumn which would allow me to sell my homemade planners. Alas, the aforementioned health issues pushed that goal somewhere way, way off-track. I am absolutely not giving up however, and will shoot for a "dawn at home" planner product to sell sometime mid-next year.

There are a lot of variables to figure out - and I could certainly use advice if anyone has any! - but I will keep you all posted! In fact, in early January I will start a mail-list for those who are interested in purchasing a planner once they are available. So - and I know I say this A LOT - please stay tuned!

But ... all that said ... I WILL have 2021 planning sheets to share with you all, as usual, and they will be printable and free for your personal use! I will post those PDFs just as soon as I'm able along with a post on how to make up your own homemade planner, as I do, using these sheets in either a binder or by having them spiral-bound at the copy shop.

And that my friends, is all I have time for today, but I thank you sincerely for joining me! And I thank you, as always, for your patience and kind support and encouragement. I hope you and your loved ones are safe and happy - please be well and take care of each other!

Peace & Light,

~ Dawn

drhanigan AT gmail DOT com


This Year's Lesson Planner ... and HELLO!

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My goodness, my friends! I cannot believe it has been so very long since I've been here sharing and just chatting with you. What a long, strange several months it's been, and I sincerely hope you (and your loved ones) are all doing well ... staying safe, keeping healthy, feeling positive and finding peace and joy when and where you can. πŸ§‘

So I have a fun little lesson planner post for you all today, but first I want to just give you a little update on how we are all doing here. And I'm glad to say we are all doing fine. All of us are home ... working at home, remote learning at home and (of course) homeschooling at home! I cannot believe however, I have been away from this blog as long as I have. This is definitely a record for me. I hope to be back to blogging a little more consistently in the season ahead, because there is always so much to talk about! 

Unfortunately I've had to slow way down when it comes to enjoying my favorite activities - reading, writing, journaling, close-up work of any kind etc. - due to some rather extreme eye strain and tension headaches I developed this summer. It's a long and boring story but I'm glad to say I am finally on the mend and slowly finding my way back to "normal" (or as normal as we can be in these trying times!).

Anyhoo - let's talk about that planner! You might have seen my post on Instagram back in May after I purchased this pretty thing at Target. (Or through Target (.com) because back in May we were still barely leaving the house):

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So as you might remember, I am a HUGE fan of Blue Sky Planners - and I always find their academic year lesson planners especially impressive. And I really like the extremely reasonable price of these planners which is generally around $13. This one came with a multi-colored polka dot cover as you can see - definitely cute, but not really my style. Happily though, it turned out the cover was actually removable! So inside the front clear pocket I slipped a piece of my favorite β€œvintage style” scrapbooking paper which I plan to change up every month. 
 
(This particular planner does not seem to be available anymore, but there are similar versions still available at www.target.com.)
 
Now, since I’m a homeschool mom, I tweaked a few pages to better suit my needs. So here’s a little flip-through with deets on each pic:
 
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Inside the front cover (showing the pretty back of the October design), is the planner title page. I wasn't a huge fan of the polka dots, but I really love those rainbow stripes!
 
Next two pages:
 
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I used the dated calendars to highlight time "in school" and our "off" days. Quick tip - my highlighters wouldn't dry properly on the laminated page so I covered the area with some clear packing tape. This kept things set!
 
The righthand page was for recording school information and contacts, which isn't really something I need as a homeschooler, so ... I covered it up with some dot-grid paper (fastened to the page with some cute alphabet washi tape) and set up a tracker for recording days spent homeschooling. 
 
Here's a closer look:
 
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Ok, next spread:
 
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A bunch of monthly holidays and special dates are outlined on these pages, to which I added family birthdays, feast days and full moons. :-)
 
And then we have, one of my favorite spreads!
 
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The page on the left was for "class birthdays" but I decided it would be a great space for listing out my weekly seasonal themes!
 
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(I'll have a post about these themes coming up soon - I hope!)
 
And the right hand page of the spread is for mapping out your weekly activity schedule, and so that's just what I did ... :-)
 
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After this page comes the monthly calendars of May, June and July at which point the weekly spreads kick in. Here is how my October calendar looks:
 
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Obviously I had fun with those seasonal stickers! πŸŽƒ
 
And here is a look at the colorful weekly lesson planning spread:
 
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I am a big fan of this colorful spread!
 
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And then the rest of the planner is filled with monthly calendars and weekly planning spreads through June 2021, followed by a final laminated page showing annual holidays (through 2023) and a map of the United States and capital cities. 
 
And there you have it, my "tweaked" lesson planner for the academic year 2020-2021!
 
In my next post I will share my Early Autumn Bullet Journal in which I flesh out all those seasonal themes - aka the heart of our nature-based learning at home!
 
Thanks so much for joining me here today, my friends and as always, I thank you for your patience! Please drop me a note if you have time and let me know how you are doing and of course, if you have any questions!
 
Stay safe and well everyone ... I will hope to be back here again very soon!

Setting Up a New Week with My Homemade Weekly Spread!

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Hello my friends, and Happy Sunday! :)

Today I'd like to talk about how I "work" my weekly planning spread, shown above. As I mentioned in last week's post, I'm keeping my homemade planning sheets in a 3-ring binder because I just find that to be most convenient these days. I don't take the binder out of the house - I have a smaller purse-sized planner for that - but I like how this set up allows me to see so much of my weekly responsibilities in one glance. 

(Note: Before I get too far, if you are interested in using my homemade planning sheets, here is a post all about my 2020 collection.)

Now, I try to start setting up my spread by the end of each week (ideally, Thursday) so that I may use the weekend to focus on prep. Very often though, I find myself just sitting down to figure it all out on a Saturday or Sunday before a new week begins!

Case in point, yesterday afternoon ...

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(He's such a good helper.)

I like to use the kitchen table for spreading out homeschool materials (there are stacks of them in this sunny nook) and deciding what can be filed away and what will be needed in the days ahead. 

I also pull out my notes for the coming week's seasonal theme:

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One of my favorite weeks of the year - Winter Citrus Week! When we're nearly through deep winter and zesty citrus is a sweet reminder of warmer places and sunnier days ahead.🧑

I wrote up quite a few ideas for this theme in my bullet journal last winter, so as I planned, I referred back to those notes. (I'm not currently keeping my bullet journals as dated planners - though I absolutely LOVE making them, I just don't have the time it takes to plan in that way right now!)

I also poked through a bright orange folder which contained all kinds of print-outs re ~ crafts, recipes and books to check out from the library. I also pulled out the books I needed for this week from my own "seasonal stories" bookshelf:

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(Desperately in need of tidying!)

I placed the books on a sunny windowsill and had Little Bear help me string up a garland of dried orange slices - something we made back in December during our "Advent Plants" week.

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I LOVE finding ways to "catch" the sun at this time of the year! 

And when I came back to the kitchen, ready to get down to business ...

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Not budging! 

Alrighty then let's get on with the subject of the post. Here are the last two weeks' spreads:

1st Week of February Week: 2/3-2/9

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"Owl Moon Week"

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2nd Week of February: 2/10-2/16

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"Valentines" Week

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And finally, here is the spread for the coming week:

3rd Week of February: 2/17-2/23

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"Winter Citrus" Week

OK, now to break down how I set up and use the two pages ...

Page One:

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(You might notice the borders here are a deeper green than in the previous spreads, and that would be because my favorite highlighter is running dry so I used a different pen! To conserve ink (while I order a new set) I used my new Zebra Midliner in "Blue Green." For the record, I prefer the softer shade, but I'll deal! #firstworldproblems)

(Fyi, I use the green for the current liturgical season: Winter Ordinary Time. Next week I can use purple!)

Ok, the left page is for serious nitty-gritty info. The left hand column is where I write out our schedule for each day of the week, and in the right column I jot down Little Bear's lesson plans.

Page Two:

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Here's where I flesh out the "feel" and needs of the week: events of note, seasonal theme, weather and moon phases, housekeeping, meal planning, to-dos and the crafts and comforts that support the aforementioned seasonal theme. Post-it notes allow me to further organize outings, record expenses, plan posts and projects, etc.

If you follow me on Instagram I'll post "Story" updates on my spread all week! But about the REST of that binder, well ... that will be a topic for a future post. :-)

By the way, at February's end, I will pull the entire month's planning sheets out of the binder and file them (paperclipped) in my file crate. I find this the easiest way to gain quick access to those spreads should I need to look back at them!

Well my friends, I hope you've all had a nice weekend and thanks as always for stopping by! Enjoy the week ahead - for many of us, it's February vacation - and I will see you here again very soon!


My File Crate & February Calendar ❀

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Hello my friends, and Happy Sunday! I hope you are all doing well. :-)

I'd like to share a quick peek at a couple of things I'm working on this weekend, beginning with my file crate!

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Longtime readers will remember this old workhouse - my plastic, tabletop file crate. In it I keep labeled file folders, one for each week of the year. In the back of the bin I store my clipboard and planning binder and in the front I hang a liturgical calendar. It's a "system" that has worked really well for me through the years, though depending on how consistently I use it, some years it's more productive than others.

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So in my Tea post from January 26th, I shared a picture of my "Home Care & Comforts" calendar, which is a schedule I created for organizing our myriad household responsibilities. I have no idea if I'll actually be able to keep up with it all, but I needed to get ALL the things down and ordered in what I hope is a manageable way. I will say I did ok in January!

And now in February I'm tackling the updating and tidying of our household files. I do have a drawer filled with more topical files - things like "taxes," "education," and "auto" etc. - and I do plan to address those files this month too, but since I found myself the other day trying to file an important piece of information for the first week of March only to find I had no March 2020 folders available (!), I realized I'd better first tackle the more time-sensitive tickler files first.

Now I do love me some fresh file folders, but I just reused a set I kept from a couple of years ago. Not only were they still in relatively good condition, I had used erasable ink on the tabs so it was very easy to edit the dates for 2020. The first thing I did was to pull out all the old folders and then I wiped out the whole crate. I'll go through the old files tomorrow (or more likely sometime next week🀞🏻) to see what needs permanent storing, what needs recording and what can be tossed in the "to-be-recycled" paper pile.

Next, I labeled the folders with the dates for each WEEK of the year (underlining the dates in liturgical colors) and divided them into six hanging folders, one for each SEASON of the year:

Deep Winter: January-February

Early Spring: March-April

Late Spring: May-June

High Summer: July-August

Early Autumn: September-October

Late Autumn: November-December

I'm often asked just what-all I keep in my folders ...

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... so here's what's stored in the folder for this coming week (pink), and the folder from last week (lavender):

In last week's folder I have:

call sheets for library books we checked out

paperwork from a recent doctor's appointment

printed receipt from some work I had done on my phone

printed obituary with wake/funeral information

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In this coming week's folder I have:

a printed email from Little Bear's new speech therapist

Earlybird's IEP which needs signing and returning

a library call sheet for a book I want to pick up from an out-of-town library

paperwork re an upcoming medical test

printed email with info re ~ Little Bear's Book Group

printed info re ~ an upcoming Town Meeting

a BIG batch of library call sheets, for books I'd like to check out sometime, kept together with a large paperclip*

a cleaning supply list I found online (for updating my own supplies)*

paperwork from the local police department re a special needs database*

(The items that are starred* have been transferred from week to week. Once they are no longer necessary they will be filed elsewhere (or recycled). The rest of the items are timely to this coming week.)

Where do I keep my folders when they are "active?"

Well, usually (and currently) I keep them inside my homekeeping/planning binder, tucked right inside the inner pocket, along with the current PBS program guide:

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By Friday afternoon I like to pull the coming week's folder and start moving things around.  Some years I've used a planning sheet stapled to the front of the folder but that was an idea that never really too off.

So now how about a peek at my February calendar?

Below you see my two-page monthly spread:

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I have found it convenient to keep my homemade planning sheets in my 3-ring binder. I keep this binder open on my kitchen counter throughout the day so I can quickly stop and peek at it or work in it as I need. Here is a link to the February planning packet: February 2020.

(You can find all of my seasonally-inspired planning materials in my Printables archive or check the post pinned at the top of my blog for my most recent uploads.)

The calendar starts out rather plain, so I have a little fun with it  ... adding post-it notes, cute stickers and washi and a few seasonal quotations.

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I use markers along the edge of the weeks for denoting liturgical seasons and erasable highlighters for indicating whether an activity is something Bill or one of the kids is doing (blue), something I am doing or attending (green), or something special such as an event we're hosting, etc.

Now, I'd love to share how I set up my weekly spread next, but  in an attempt to keep this post to a reasonable size, I will save that discussion for next time!

Here's a quick peek at last week, though!

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Well my friends, that's all for today, but I hope you enjoyed a little "planning" talk on this mid-February Sunday. I hope you all have a good week, and thanks as always for stopping by - I will be back here again very soon!


Birdfeeding, St. Brigid & Cute Candlemas Crafts!

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Hello everyone, and Happy Sunday! I'm popping in here today to share a few things with you all on this cool and cloudy Candlemas afternoon ... but first, how is the weather where you are? And what did your groundhog have to say? I say "your groundhog," because as I understand it there are a few of them out there - weather-predicting rodents, I mean - though I believe Punxsatawny Phil is perhaps the most famous. And happily, according to Phil, we are to expect an early spring this year, a prediction that was seconded by the esteemed Ms. G of Massachusetts, the lady groundhog who lives in Lincoln, at Drumlin Farm Sanctuary. πŸ˜Š

Continuing with a weather folklore theme, we can also turn to a old lovely verse for a hint of what's to come ...

If Candlemas Day be fair and bright,
Winter will have another flight;
But if it be dark with clouds and rain,
Winter is gone, and will not come again.

Well, it just so happens it was indeed "dark with clouds and rain" here in Massachusetts today so knockonwood perhaps an early spring truly IS in the offing!

(p.s. This Wednesday is National Meteorologist Day, so why not write a letter to your favorite weather guy or gal and let them know you appreciate them? Maybe ask them if they put any stock in groundhog predictions or other ancient weather "wisdom?")

Alrighty then, on with our post ... and how about we all offer a warm welcome to February?! Because I'm not sure about you, but January seemed awfully long. Not terribly stormy or anything, but February is just that much closer to spring - aka the actual Equinox which occurs on March 19th this year. #markyourcalendar!

And did you remember to say rabbit-rabbit yesterday? I did - though unfortunately I had already muttered a few words after midnight, such as "go back to sleep," please make coffee," and "no, it's not time for breakfast." (That last one was to the cats.) I think it still counts if you say rabbit-rabbit at some point on the first day of the month, but maybe it brings extra good luck if you remember to say it before anything else! 

Anyhoo.😜

I wanted to share a link to an absolutely wonderful resource for anyone who loves nature and following the seasons of the year, but especially perhaps for those of us who enjoy sharing that passion with children:

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The WILD KIDS February issue is here!

So remember in my last Tea post I shared a picture of Little Bear with a chickadee perched in his hand? Well, I wrote up a short article about our experience hand-feeding wild birds last month and my friend Alicia Bayer (author of Wild Kids, as well as several books on foraging and other nature-related topics) invited me to share it in her magazine!

Here's a link to the issue, and a little bit about the magazine, from Alicia:

This month, we have information on how to feed wild birds by hand, instructions to make a simple shell or stone sundial, info abut aloe and mallow, and vintage wild bird collectible cards, along with the usual seasonal poems, botanical coloring pages, nature journal pages and more.

This issue is 22 pages and as always, it is ad-free and 100% free to read online or print out.

I was so honored to be asked to contribute to this amazing magazine, and I hope to do so again in the future!

Now as you all know, nature is a huge part of our family life - observing and caring for the flora and fauna around us, and paying attention to seasonal nuances as the years come and go. We weave those nuances into our home life, our homeschooling and even in the way we practice our Catholic faith. I've posted many times through the years about the strong connection I feel to creation and the how-s and why-s of our seasonal homeschooling, but for today I'd just like to share some of the things we got up to last week! 

So last week's theme was "frost and fire," which had us focusing on the deep cold of winter and the blessing of home and warmth. I like to assign this theme to the week leading up to Candlemas since we're usually making candles and talking about fire and fire safety. And a neat counterpoint to the cozy warmth within, is the frozen world without - because at this time of year frost (along with its cohorts ice and snow) is commonplace. All creation must adapt to withstand the cold - animals outside, and humans (mostly) inside. This is a wonderful theme to explore on so many levels!

We were also focusing on two special liturgical events this week: St. Brigid's Day and Candlemas (February 1st and 2nd, respectively) and there were a few fun holidays mixed in here and there - plus we were busier than usual to boot!

Here's a quick peek at my weekly lesson plan and agenda:

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I'm working on a post about how I've been using my homemade planner lately, so I'll get into this page a bit more deeply very soon. In the interest of time though, I will move on with our week!

First, there was National Chocolate Cake Day on Monday ...

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And we celebrated with cake, natch!

This cake was also baked in celebration of my mother-in-law's birthday. I took a video of the boys singing "Happy Birthday," and if you hop on over to my Instagram page you can not only hear them sing, but also read my behind-the-scenes story of why this was such a very special "milestone" moment for our Earlybird. πŸ’™

And then Wednesday brought National Carnation Day ...

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True story: I couldn't find white carnations at the store, so this is actually a picture from last year! I love this experiment and for some reason it always works really well for us, though I hear from many folks who can't get good results. I can only say we make sure to trim the stems very short and use very small containers (baby food jars work great). We use McCormick's food coloring (found at any grocery store) and we definitely don't skimp on the drops of coloring when doctoring the water!

Also on Wednesday, we were off to our Audubon class ...

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Little Bear and I are both enjoying this weekly nature program very much! This past week we learned about "Winter's Herbivores" - deer, mice, rabbits, and groundhogs, etc.. We discussed how these plant-eating animals survive the winter and then we looked for signs of their presence throughout the sanctuary by searching for scat, seed caches, as well as chewed and stripped bark.

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I am so grateful to the Massachusetts Audubon Society for offering these wonderful classes. It's been a fantastic experience for Little Bear (and his mama) and he's learning so much - and we're meeting some really nice folks, too!

On our way home from class, LB and I stopped at the library to pick up a few books about groundhogs:

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And on Thursday we took a field trip to the garden center, to buy a few things AND soak in all that humid soil-scented air!

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Little Bear picked out a small succulent (immediately named, "Planty") and I picked up some paperwhite bulbs. We also popped into the craft store on our way home and I couldn't resist grabbing a few supplies for a Lenten craft I have in mind.

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(Still working on the details, but I hope to have our Lenten plans put together - and ready to share - by mid-month.)

Thursday also happened to be National Croissant Day ...

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... and we just happened to have a can of crescent rolls in the fridge so we whipped up these tasty treats lickedy-split! (This is not the recipe we used, but pretty close.)

Friday is usually our home-all-day day, so sometimes I plan more involved crafting for this day. So on Friday we made candles for Candlemas!

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First we made our usual melted-beeswax/mason jar candle using up some beeswax bars I had on hand as well as a cute little reusable jar. (You can find a detailed post on our process for this craft here.) This little candle will play a quiet and hopeful part in our Lenten table ...

I also happened to have a candle-making kit on hand, so I pulled that out, figuring Little Bear would love it - unfortunately, however, the craft proved a little too fiddly for his little fingers!

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So I set to work rolling those beeswax sheets, while Little Bear was put in charge of the paperwhite bulbs!

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The bulbs now live in my kitchen window by day and on top of the fridge by night - since paperwhites are poisonous for kitties and my kitties are very naughty when it comes to nice things like plants.

But at the end of the day we had a nice bunch of candles ready for blessing!

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Saturday brought February 1st and I began setting up my new calendar ...

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(More on my calendar in my next post!)

We also had some lovely traditions for St. Brigid's Day to uphold ...

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We first hung our Brigid's Cross (made last year using dried grasses from our yard) on the front door ...

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And, in honor of St. Brigid, patroness of Ireland and dairy farmers, we made butter!

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We do this every year and honestly, it just never gets old! Nor does this wonderful picture book ...

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p.s. Speaking of this feast day, I recently realized I left a page out of my Deep Winter Planning Booklet and though I've since updated the PDF, here is the missing two-sided planning sheet itself: St. Brigid's Day & Candlemas PDF.

And so that brings us to today, when I was planning to make custards for Candlemas following my mother's lovely recipe using my own hen's loverly eggs, but two things kept me from that culinary endeavor:

One, I was nearly out of eggs and two, my hens aren't laying yet!

So instead, I made some buttermilk scones (from a mix!) and served it with lemon curd (from a jar!) as well as some freshly whipped cream. (That was from scratch.)

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And yes - they were as good as they look!

Another Candlemas tradition we enjoy is walking the yard and looking for signs of spring ...

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(Inspecting a caved-in groundhog burrow.)

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(Inspecting some left-behind seed shells.)

Not much to report, but it was nice to walk the property anyway now the snow has melted and there's the faintest whiff of spring in the air ...

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And by faint I really mean non-existent, but still - just look at that smile and those rosy little cheeks! Brigid's Day and Candlemas (or Imbolc as some folks call/called it) might have once been considered a time of changing seasons - winter's end, spring's debut - but that's just not the way things roll around here. Sometimes I forget we actually live in New England and not England proper - where February is quite milder and where one might actually expect to see things like tender little snowdrops underfoot. In these parts at the start of February we mostly just have actual snow underfoot ...

But we must not lose hope! There is always hope and there are alway signs ...

Such as the owl I heard calling just this morning!

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I wish I knew how to share a video here, but even after 14 years (come March) of blogging I simply have no idea how to manage such a technological feat - so I would encourage you if A. you're on Instagram and B. you are interested - to check out my IG Stories to hear what I heard at six a.m. this morning!

I had JUST been reading this article regarding the nesting behavior of owls and enjoying my third cup of coffee when I heard it ... a great horned owl calling from somewhere in our woods. According to the article (which included a link to an owl call soundbite), owls are among the first birds to begin laying nests in the late winter. So to my mind -  and groundhog's proclamations aside - here is solid, scientific evidence that spring truly is coming!

(If you can't get on Instagram, here is the link to the soundbite. My owl sounded EXACTLY like this.)

Back inside, a bit later on in the day I began working on a little handcraft I've had in mind for some time ...

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Little Bear has been fascinated lately by the concept of a dream catcher - Bookworm still has one he made when he was young hanging in his bedroom - and though I don't believe LB's actually plagued by any bad dreams, I decided to use up a bit of my felt stash and make him a sweet-dreams pillow.

I started with a small rectangle of felt, some sheep's wool and dried lavender from the summer garden. I had LB mix the herbs with the wool while I started stitching ...

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Mind you, I'm no seamstress of any measure - I can barely thread a needle to be honest - but I figured this kind of basic stitch couldn't be too hard to do. (Notice I'm not showing you the back of this sachet!)

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Little Bear really loved the smell of the lavender and the feel of the sheep's wool ...

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And I think he really liked watching me make this. There's something very comforting, I think, about watching a parent working with their hands ... the quiet productivity, the rhythm of the needle or - as the case may be - the paintbrush or hand saw. I myself feel soothed when I work with my hands, and I love the questions he asks:

Mama, what will it be? Mama, can I help? Mama, how can you do that without stabbing yourself?

So we'll tuck this under his pillow and see how it goes!

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A couple of things I try do to when crafting: use natural materials as much as possible, and make items that are meaningful in some way to myself or someone else. I also really, really love it when a craft is made using something from a season before or perhaps is made to be used in a season yet to come. Case in point - the cross we made using grasses gathered from our garden (and soaked with snow melt). Or the candles we made and blessed on Candlemas which will appear again in our springtime Lenten journey. And the lavender we dried last summer provided a special touch - as well as a fragrant memory - to our cute little Candlemas craft.

I find it very satisfying to craft in this way, to carry a message through the year (and years) that everything is connected. We're all connected to each other, and we're all connected in many ways to the earth. Slowing ourselves down won't slow time itself, but it can leave us more open to these connections. I hope all these little moments and traditions foster a feeling of belonging in my children and that it encourages them to learn and love the cycle of the seasons, to glory in the amazing world to which we all belong. I sure am grateful I get to begin them on their pathways because everything I do for them only strengthens my own journey.

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And goodness, but this post got much longer than I originally intended! Did I say I was "quickly" popping in? - I think I'd best take that part out. As always though, I thank you for reading and I hope you are all doing well! I also hope that wherever you are, the day's weather has been just to your liking and that the week ahead will be a good one!

Take care of yourselves and your loved ones, my friends ... see you here again sometime soon!


Tea @ Dawn's ~ Shortbread, Schedules and Deep Winter Sleep ❄️

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Hello my friends, and Happy Sunday!

Thank you so much for joining me here today, on this bright and beautiful winter afternoon. As I type up this post, the sun is taking turns with a few dark, dramatic clouds and the temperature is near 50Β° ... not bad for January here in New England!

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Today I'd like to share with you a wee "Scottish Tea," in honor of Burns Night, which my family celebrated at supper last night (January 25th). As I'm part Scottish, we've enjoyed incorporating this fun holiday into our family's winter calendar - but more on the Tea in a moment!

Today I'd also like to share a few fun things with you: a little about what we've been up to, some thoughts on seasonal sleep, plus some new planning ideas for the year ahead, beginning with a brand new PDF!

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Yes, I've made more seasonal planning pages - I can't seem to help myself! πŸ˜‰

So if you remember back in December, when I posted this year's planning sheets, I mentioned that I removed all the extra "monthly event" pages in order to give the planner a bit more "wiggle room." What I aim to do instead is to share seasonal "booklets" that will serve as supplements to my main annual planner. It's a joy to make up these pages and very easy to pull them together since I'm utilizing templates I already have on hand, and just spiffing them up with some sweet vintage artwork found on Pinterest. That said, I apologize that the January bits are mostly moot at this point - but I do hope you enjoy them for next year!

Ok, here 'tis ...

β™₯Deep Winter Seasonal Planning Bookletβ™₯

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I will be sharing more of these seasonal booklets throughout the year - and I will do my best to have them available before a new season begins!

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The above "schedule" is something I made up as I thought about my seasonal teas, and how often I might be able to host (post) them. I've decided I will aim for monthly posts and since this year I'm focusing on the "art and blessing" of keeping a home, at each Tea I will share a little of what I'm doing on that front. :-)

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More on homekeeping in a moment, but for now, let's talk a bit about today's Tea, pictured at the top of this post. I'm sipping from very pretty thistle-adorned china called "Queen O' Th' Highlands," and this cup originally belonged to my grandmother. I am blessed to own many of her vintage teacups! Gram was the person to introduce me to the pleasure of tea and the joy to be had in making a little ceremony of it.

Now, I didn't have any Scottish tea on hand, but I did use an Irish blend I like very much made by Barry's Tea. It's a decaffeinated black tea, with a lovely yet bolder flavor than my regular tea. I prefer to drink this brew with a splash of half-and-half and a wee spoonful of cane sugar.

As for the shortbread - well, that was all (or mostly) Little Bear's doing!

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Now, this is not the recipe we used but I am eager try it next time we bake: Classic Scottish Shortbread from King Arthur Flour. The recipe Little Bear and I used did not have oats and to my taste had a bit too much salt. The rest of the family seemed to like the cookies very much however!

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Shortbread is a great cookie for baking with children. It's a very easy recipe and the kids have such fun pressing the dough into the pan ... and then of course "stabbing" the cookies with the tines of a fork! Little Bear was quite proud of his tray of shortbread bars ... :-)

While we waited for the cookies to come out of the oven, we also looked through a wonderful book I purchased a few years ago, The Wee Scot Book: Scottish Stories & Poems by Aileen Campell. It has the loveliest illustrations!

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Now, I'm a shortbread purist myself - no chocolate coating or caramel-dipped ends, thanks - but Little Bear thought the cookies would be so much more interesting if we added some sprinkles, and so - that's just what we did. And in the colors of Scotland's national flower, of course!

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So moving on, according to my Home Care & Comforts Schedule, January brings ...

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(I didn't actually make the vanilla milk as originally planned - but I do explain that lovely beverage later in the post!)

January homekeeping focus: MASTER BEDROOM

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Voila, the north side of my master bedroom!

So I've been working in this room quite a bit since Christmas and I'm happy to say it's finally getting there! My bedroom suffers quite a bit over the holidays because it basically serves as Santa's Workshop between November and December 25th, which is to say, it gets to be QUITE the mess. So January is the perfect month to tackle this zone. 

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I'm also pretty keen to clean out that closet shown above - note the doors are closed! - because Bill has offered to turn it into book storage for me. (Not to worry, I have another closet for clothing in the opposite corner of the room.) At this time this closet full of random things like photographs, packing supplies and old journals ... but I think it would be a great place for storing all my paperback novels (of which I have many). Bill is more than willing to put up the shelves - I just need to get to decluttering the space!

I've still got the other side of the room to deep clean - and this includes two overstuffed bureaus! So I hope to share more pics in my next post, although in February I'll be concentrating the younger kids' bedrooms ... 

Speaking of kids and bed ...

I've been talking a lot about sleep lately because it's something our family finds ... challenging at times. Maybe you saw my instagram post last week, in which I described how Earlybird, our 18 year autistic son, has struggled with sleep issues for many, many years. Actually, his parents are the ones who struggle with it - he doesn't seem to be phased by his odd sleep patterns at all, which I guess is a blessing. Long story short - EB used to wake up around 2 a.m. and stay awake for a couple of hours before finally falling back to sleep - but only for a few hours. Several years ago he started sleeping through the night but waking extremely early - hardly ever after 5 a.m. Occasionally he goes through a week or so of waking closer to 6 or 7 but those times are rare. Very often he gets stuck in a pattern - as he is now - of waking FOR THE DAY between 2 and 3 a.m. (And by that I mean he doesn't go back to sleep, he's just up ... and because he can't be left unsupervised, so are we.)

I won't get too far into that story (though I will return to it in a future post) but let me just say this before I start waxing poetic about sweet and special bedtime rituals ...

Sleep issues are serious and can be debilitating for many families, and they exist in both children and adults. Even if you can identify what the issues are, it's not always easy to change things. For most human beings, at bedtime we're pretty exhausted and not in our most flexible frame of mind.  So fixing a sleep issue is not always as easy as changing up one or two environmental factors or trying out a new "hopefully helpful" schedule. For some people it goes far deeper than that and also, for some, it carries over into the next day. Bad sleep usually also means a rough morning after ...

Anyhoo, as I said, I don't want to get too deep into the sleep struggle issue - for today I'd like to just offer a few thoughts on making your Winter Bedtimes a little more special. I don't mean to suggest these little "tips" will help someone who is dealing with a serious sleep challenge, but maybe an idea or two might help a reluctant sleeper ...

Either way, I think it's always nice to consider the more routine parts of our day and envision how we might make them a little more special for ourselves and our loved ones. And perhaps use these everyday moments to connect more deeply with the season at hand.

A few ideas for possibly promoting easier (and happier) bedtimes:

✨ Get a good dose of fresh air and outdoor activity each day! 

✨ Keep the window shades open through the day to allow in plenty of natural light.

✨ Limit the amount of artificial light as the sun goes down.

✨ Limit screen time after 4 p.m. (for everyone!).

✨ Eat supper at an earlier time, allowing for better digestion as well as time for a simple evening "tea" ritual. And this would be decaffeinated or herbal tea naturally, but a lovely, child-friendly alternative is steamed milk (organic whole milk brought to a simmer in pan) with just a touch of vanilla and maybe a dollop of honey.

✨ Enjoy an evening tea ritual while listening to an ongoing read-aloud or perhaps gazing together out at the night sky. Or, ask Alexa to play "classical bedtime music." (Try it!)

✨Visuals are great - such as bedtime checklists and token boards - but making it into something really fun and creative can weave true bedtime magic: visualizing together how an evening winds down, what each steps looks like and who does what. Make note in your story of "cozy" seasonal elements (the summer evening breeze, frosty windowpanes on a winter morning, etc.). As you spin the tale, reassure your child that all is well and he/she is safe and sheltered from the cares of the day.

✨Assess the bedroom setting for good sleep: comfortable temperature, thoughtful lighting (some kids need a night-light, others are actually kept awake by it), and preferred comfortable bedding. Have toys been put away, is the floor clear of clutter, have window shades been gently pulled down?

✨Make seasonal bedding part of your family tradition! We make a big deal about "changing the beds" in the spring and fall. Laundering and then washing up cotton bedding for cool sleep in the warmer months, and warmer textiles for the colder nights of the year. 

✨ Make up a little lavender water and keep it in a designated spray bottle. As you turn down the beds, spritz the sheets with just a touch - allow your child to help and let him or her know this will promote good dreams and happy sleep. (I'm not a fan of the "monster away spray" idea!) 

✨Make up a special basket just for bedtime reading. Decide together what - and how many - stories to include in your bedtime ritual. In our home, Daddy is the bedtime reader and Little Bear is read two stories. Or instead of books - maybe try your hand at storytelling? A simple tale about a little person or creature and how they end their day would be enthralling but not overly stimulating.

✨End your bedtime ritual with a simple prayer said together or a recollection of the day, perhaps naming something for which each of you was grateful. Saying a blessing over your child is a truly lovely way to say goodnight and nurture tender feelings of protection and peace.

Now, we certainly don't do all of these things, and currently employ only one or two - but some years we're better at bedtimes than others! Please don't think we have it all figured out ... oh my goodness, no. But I hope maybe one or two of these things might inspire a new idea for your family's bedtime routine. I think a lot of these points could be helpful for adults as well - we could all benefit from treating bedtime as a special and important of our day - not just an after-thought. 

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Now, something else I like to focus on in January is creating and updating my calendars and reviewing my planning system(s). And this too deserves a whole separate post, but allow me to share a few pictures from my progress, starting with this crazy pic:

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Post-it note mega-planning!

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An overstuffed homekeeping binder ...

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Colors = Concerns

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To be filled out once I gather all my little scraps of paper ...

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TBD ...

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Six columns for six people ...

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Calendar-keeping and color-coding ... a topic to be continued!

And this probably all seems rather cryptic, but I'll share more once I get my own story straight!

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And finally - here are a few pictures of our Homeschooling this week

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Celebrating National Squirrel Appreciation Day!

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Walking into the woods with our weekly nature class ... 

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... and OH MY GOSH hand-feeding birds!

I'll be sharing a bit about this incredible moment in the February issue of Wild Kids - I've been invited to contribute a short piece about our experience! So please stay tuned and I'll post a link at my FB page when the new issue comes out!

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OK, almost done I promise! Before I go, here are a few links to older posts filled with crafts, books and recipes for Deep Winter holidays:

Happy Epiphany!

A Wee Tea

Tea & a Craft for The Days of the Blackbird

Happy Carnation Day!

A Citrus Craft for Candlemas

Bits, Bobs and Mittenstrings

Good Candlemas Morning!

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And now I'll be off ... I hope you enjoy the rest of your Sunday, my friends and thanks, as always, for stopping by! Take care of yourselves and your loved ones ... and I'll see you here again very soon!


Tea @ Dawn's ~ Birthdays, Bluebirds & Sweet Winter Blessings

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Hello my friends, and Happy Sunday! Thank you so much for joining me today - may I offer you a freshly brewed cup of hot tea?

On this breezy - and strangely balmy - January day, I'm pouring a tasty new brew called, "Winter Wake Up Tea." It was a gift from my brother, and I must say - it's delicious!

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(Truth be told, since caffeine and spice are things I have to be careful about - I cut my tea with a little plain black decaf and an extra large splash of lowfat milk!)

So I have to tell you, our Tea today is extra special because January 12th just so happens to be ... National Hot Tea Day! Yes, it's a real holiday ... or at least it has been since 2016. #whoknew πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™€οΈ 

Also happening today, rather serendipitously, is a day-long Jane Austen "extravaganza" airing on my local PBS station! So if you'd care to join me while I put on the kettle, I have this playing on the kitchen tv ...

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I'm sure many of you can name that beloved movie on sight - it's one of my all-time favorites! You might recall from my last post there's a whole bunch of fun programming coming up this year, and something I'm really looking forward to is "Sanditon," a new Masterpiece series that premieres tonight at 9 p.m. (An air-time which is sadly after my bedtime so I'll be catching each episode a day (or two) after its first airing.)

Anyhoo.

May I offer you a little something sweet to go along with our tea? How about a thick slice of birthday cake?

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Yep, on this lovely day honoring hot tea AND Jane Austen, I'm also celebrating ... my 51st birthday! :-) 

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First of all, I can hardly believe I just typed that number - because wow, I am now decidedly "in my 50s." (And holy crow, how did that even happen? No, honestly. Wasn't I JUST in my 30s?)

Anyways - today I'm raising my glass, er mug, to a brand new year - and a new profile pic! ;-) Had to snap a selfie yesterday because I had just gotten home from the hairdresser and my hair never has a better moment than in that first hour after leaving the salon. Soon thereafter it's back to unruly curls and cowlicks, lol.

Hair issues aside, I'm giving sincere thanks today for so many things - most of all the gifts of Life, Love and Wonderful Friendships. I'd like to say thanks to all of YOU for the kindness and encouragement you've all shown me through the years. For helping me make this a happy and homey little corner of the web. How I have loved keeping this blog going for the past 13 (almost 14) years!

But before I get too far off-topic let's discuss the pretty cake I'm right now setting out on my favorite Irish china plates ...

"Penuche" Cake is a specialty of my mum's. We're blessed to have her as the Family Baker of All Birthday Cakes and though we all have our favorites, she always asks what cake we'd like this year. I usually request Penuche Cake, and since we had a good bit leftover, I'd love to offer you a slice - it goes wonderfully with a hot cup of tea! (As you can see from my first photo - it had disappeared before I got that final shot!)

If you're interested in the recipe - check out this birthday post from 2016. I've posted the frosting recipe in the comments.

And if I may revel in my birthday joy a moment or two longer, here is the card the boys made me ...

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Pretty sure I need to have this framed ... I love all those colors!

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Ok, now that we have our tea and cake, let's settle in and have a nice little chat. I thought I'd share some of the things I've been thinking about and noticing these past couple of weeks. As you all know, I assign each week of the year a seasonal "theme," and right around my birthday I like to contemplate "winter comforts and joys." Because it's mid-January and we've just finished Christmas and now the long winter looms ahead - so I like to brainstorm the ways we might celebrate the season rather than bemoaning it as too cold or dark or dreary. Not that it isn't some or all of those things at one time or another - but I'd rather focus on the blessings of the season rather than the burdens, if you know what I mean. :-) 

In my Deep Winter bullet journal then, I have a whole page devoted to these kinds of thoughts ...

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I take such comfort from the simplest traditions and rituals - little things like saying "rabbit rabbit"on the first of the month, and creating a new planner at the start of the year. Hosting a New Year's roast lunch for my family and watching for the Bluebirds to return, as they usually do, right about this time of the year ...

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Aren't they gorgeous? They visited our feeders for all of five minutes one day last week ...

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Birdwatching is fun all year long, but there is something extra wonderful about winter birdwatching. When it's hard to get outside in nature (due to severe cold or stormy weather) it's easy enough to sit ourselves beside a window and watch the comings and goings of the local wildlife ...

And as winter rambles on, we get to know the "regulars" - the Finches, Woodpeckers, Chickadees, Titmice etc. - while also looking forward to the more seasonal visitors. There are Bluebirds in mid-winter, and then roundabouts February we'll start hearing (and hopefully seeing!) the resident Barred Owl. One day near spring we'll hear the familiar "squeaky wheel" of the Red-winged Blackbird returning and then before we know it, come April or May, a flash of orange will announce the Orioles are passing through ...

I also take joy in observing and exploring nature phenomena ... like the January thaw which we are enjoying today (it's 70Β°!) and all the monthly moons and the folklore attached to them. For instance, the Pink Moon in April really does look pink - like an Easter egg! And the Sap Moon brings on sugaring season, while the Harvest Moon is always huge and as orange as a pumpkin ...

But how about January's full moon?

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Here is the best shot I could get of the Full Wolf Moon as it rose over our woods Friday night. But did we howl at it? Why, you betcha we did! 

And here are the notes I scribbled in my seasonal journal - ideas for celebrating this moon, this week, and this time of year, with my family ...

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And per family tradition, we read this book EVERY year as we celebrate the Full Wolf Moon:

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The Story of the Kind Wolf is hard to find but if you do find a copy - grab it! 

We also baked some fun "Wolf Paw Cookies" on Friday afternoon ...

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I got the idea for these on Pinterest, and they are basically a sugar cookie with Ghirardelli melting wafers and chocolate chips arranged to create the look of a paw. I'm not sure how well they achieve this, but needless to say they were a hit with my kids! (We left the candies off some of the cookies for those among us who are tragically unable to eat chocolate - the plain ones we called, Full Moon Cookies.)

So a book, a cookie, a moon view and a howl - all easy things to do, all sweet traditions to keep.

I've been doing these kinds of things since my children were tiny and it just never gets old, at least not for me! Obviously as the young ones get older their participation in and enjoyment of each "tradition" changes a little. But I still involve everyone who's home - Bookworm is away visiting friends right now, but Crackerjack is home on winter break and though he didn't howl or read the book with us - he happily partook of the cookies and he did watch the moon rise alongside us. 

I like to think these pastimes create lasting memories as well as a subtle yet meaningful awareness of the turn of the year. I hope most of all it adds a happy kind of glue to the days of our year - the ones that seem to go by too fast, while my boys quickly grow into young men.

I love doing for my family but there are also things that bring me personal comfort and joy, in the deepest days of winter ...

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Favorite magazines ... with such lovely, wintry covers.


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My favorite weekly "paper" - how I love Maria Shriver's writing! It arrives in my inbox early each Sunday morning, and I try to carve out time each week to savor her words and explore her links.

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My planner basket ... helping me feel a little more in control of my time and my responsibilities ...

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... and the miracle of the sunrise, which blesses us every day without fail. :-)

I stopped the car while driving Earlybird to school the other morning, just to snap a pic and absorb this peaceful moment. And I must confess, I was not at that moment feeling very peaceful, because it was not an easy ride that particular morning. EB was balking at going to school (kind of a new and challenging thing) and I was a jumble of over-caffeinated, over-tired nerves ...

Will he get out of the car this morning? Will he calm down and relax? Will I get a call from the school nurse today?

But the sunrise was still glorious as it is most days, and that golden orb rode silently alongside us, so I chatted with EB about what a really nice day it could and would be. He calmed - I calmed - and the eventual drop-off went about as well as it could. #phew

More comforts and joys ...

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These guys - 'nuff said.

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Keeping in touch with family and friends is important to me, though I wish I was a more timely correspondent! But how I love organizing a little correspondence basket - a place to stash stationary and stamps, a thick address book and the bundles of letters and notes in want of a reply.

I love to take pleasure in the little things but ...

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Most of all this. THIS is my favorite kind of comfort and joy.

I had just come home from that tense drive with EB and was working in the kitchen - half paying attention to the Today show as I got my own "today" going - when an  interview with a panel of older women who were all reinventing their careers caught my attention. They were all lovely women and the segment was certainly inspiring - but I paused to consider the fact that while I too am "getting older," as a full-time, homeschooling mom, I haven't had an actual "career" to speak of in nearly 25 years. 

And then my littlest guy wandered into the kitchen, fresh from his bed, still clad in his footies and all sleepy-eyed he said, "Mama, I need a hug."

Which of course was a need easily, and joyfully, met by this mama.

And that my friends, is one of the sweetest and most rewarding perks of my decades-long "profession" - the comfort and joy of being there for my kids when they need me. It's a blessing to be sure, and I don't take it for granted, not for one little minute. I am grateful I can be here - for their sakes as well as my own - and that I can devote my time and my energy to the business - and art - of keeping family and home.

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A final thought before I go -

Every day is a gift and every new year a blessing! And while  January is still fresh and new, I find myself looking forward to making some fun wintry memories ... and of course, sharing more cups of winter's tea with you all! 

As always, I thank you for joining me here today, and I wish you all a lovely week ahead. I'll be back with a fresh pot of Tea a little later this month, but you can always find me on Instagram and Facebook in between posts. 

Take care of yourselves and your loved ones, my friends ... I'll see you here again sometime soon!


Tea @ Dawn's ~ Cheers to a New Year + 3 Giveaway Winners!

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Hello my friends and Happy New Year! I hope your 2020 is off to a great start!

I'm here today to share a cup of New Year's tea with you all, and to announce the three winners of my latest planner giveaway!

So I'll just start by putting us all out of our suspense, shall I? :-)

The three readers whose names were drawn randomly for my giveaway are:

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1. Mary Alice Phillips

2. Michelle M.

3. Van

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Hooray! And congratulations, ladies! I will be in touch later this weekend to ask about cover choices and mailing details. :-)

Thanks to all who participated in my giveaway and for all the kind, cozy comments. You all shared so many wonderful and inspiring ideas for enjoying the winter season. I have made note of each idea and look forward to contemplating them all in my upcoming Deep Winter Tea series ...

Speaking of ...

Here's what I'm planning for our next series of seasonal Teas!

I'll be sharing a cup of wintry Tea here at the blog every other Sunday afternoon. No more Fridays I'm afraid, friends. I decided Fridays were just too "full," usually coming on the heels of a rather busy week, and it seemed I usually needed an extra day or two to finish my post! So Sundays it will be ...

Here is my proposed series schedule:

January

12th

26th

February

9th

23rd

I'm still considering the themes for each Tea, so stay tuned on that! I'll most likely announce them on Instagram & Facebook early next week.

So I do hope you'll join me on these upcoming Sunday afternoons! I'll have the kettle on of course, and there will be something yummy to go along with our sweet, steaming brew. I will discuss a little of this and that ... wintry delights, homey thoughts, current crafts and children's books - plus of course, there will be planner peeks!

Speaking of ...

Here is how my own 2020 planner came out:

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I was really taken with this golden "brocade" paper and decided it would make a very pretty planner cover! I love vintage florals as you all know, so this sprawling damask rose pattern really resonated with me, especially in light of my chosen "Word of the Year" which is ...

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This year I decided to use a word generator (thank you, DaySpring!) and I was very happy with my result. First of all, I liked that the site had me answer a series of questions before generating my word because it makes the results seem more authentic. Although at first glance I thought, "Huh, bloom? Well, haven't I already done that ... since here I am a soon-to-be 51 yr old married and happy mom of four?"

But then I looked up the meaning of the word, and considered how I might apply it to my new year ...

🌸 to mature into achievement of one's potential

🌸 to flourish in youthful beauty, freshness, or excellence

🌸 to shine out : GLOW 

🌸 to become more apparent or fully expressed

Now, I'm not so sure what I can do about the "youthful beauty" part lol, but I do try to take good care of my skin! And in fact, I plan to chat about "skin care regimes" in an upcoming post. :-)

As for the rest of it ... well, I really like the sound of all those words and phrases. They're all so lovely and encouraging and I think it all just might fit with my 2020 hopes and goals ...

Because I have some big plans this year and I'm going to need to be brave - I'll need to push myself a little and I'm not really a pusher! - but the time has come for me to try to bloom and, dare I say, flourish - a little. See, I was thinking ...

A flower only blooms when it's been nurtured and shown patience. It needs quiet time in the darkness, and it needs a little room to sink its roots. It enjoys the cozy and quiet ... and it's all very safe and comfortable. But eventually that tender seedling has to be brave enough to grow - to push through its earthly barrier - and seek LIGHT and therefore, Life.  

A flower in bloom is truly living its best life then, the life it was preparing itself for all along!

So I just really, really love that metaphor - cliche though it may be. And this year, I'm going to try very hard to live like that little plant ... to acknowledge my anxieties, but be brave, by drawing strength from my (well established) roots. I hope to break out of my comfort zone this year and stretch myself a little ...

But most of all, I hope to become more ... ME. The "me" I've kept planted in my heart since I was little ... the me I've perhaps left untended a little too long.

What I've done so far is to draw up a page in my bullet journal - not ready for sharing yet, but I will - with the word BLOOM in a center circle and then sections (or petals, if you will) of "passion and purpose" spread out all around it. On that little page I hope to iron out more concrete 2020 goals and incremental steps to take - and around that center circle I've written the words:

"Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished." Lao Tzu

And on the practical side of things - I do hope to actually grow a flower garden this year! I say this every year - THIS year I will grow FLOWERS! - and every year I find other things to do but grow flowers. (Or let's say, they find me.)

So this year gosh darn it - I WILL grow that flower garden. And maybe I'll learn another life lesson or two as I do.

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Now, have you chosen a word for 2020 yet? I'd love to hear about it if you'd care to share!

Back to my planner now though ...

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Here's a peek at my January title page ... set amongst some colorful, home learning paraphernalia. (Yes, we're back to business next week!)

I'm really quite happy with how my planner came out this year, and I will have a full tour for you all in an upcoming post.

In the meantime, here are a couple of New Year traditions I enjoy keeping each year, and first thing I do ...

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I always make note of the first bird I see each year, and this becomes my personal "Bird of the Year." This year it was the bird shown above, huddling in the azalea bush outside my front window, awaiting his turn at the feeder ...

The White-Throated Sparrow!

And once again, my first reaction was less than impressed ...

"OH, a sparrow. How ... common."

But then I looked up the symbolism of the sparrow and boy, did that make me smile! Because according to folklore, Sparrow’s message is this ...

β€œWe do not have to be the loudest voice in order to be heard.”
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(I like that - a lot!)

Also according to folklore (legend/myth what have you),  the Sparrow symbolizes:

creativity
simplicity
joy
protection
friendliness
community
productivity

And that’s just a nice long list of worthy goals to weave into my 2020!
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What was the first bird you spied this year? It's not to late if you haven't seen one (or noticed one) yet. Take a peek out your window right now! (And then come back here to let me know what you saw!)

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Another favorite (personal) tradition, is beginning a new journal on New Year's Day, and I almost always include this pretty clipart on the very first page ...

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I've been using my little bullet journals as the place for notes, lists and random clippings. Do you keep a journal as well And if so, where do you keep it?

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Now, our New Year's Eve is usually quite calm - i.e. we stay home and go to bed early - but we do love a little celebrating on New Year's Day, itself! Over the years it has become a family tradition to have my folks and my brother over for a family luncheon, and this year our menu was as follows:

New Year's Day Citrus Punch

English Roast with Carrots, Potatoes and Thyme

Brown Rolls and Biscuits

Garlic Couscous

Roasted Butternut Squash

Eggnog Cake

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I've linked the roast and cake recipes above but the punch is just something I made up. I used a large bottle of Cranberry-Blood Orange Juice Cocktail, plus some plain orange juice and a liter of Sprite. I added some sliced Cara Cara oranges for a festive touch!

A social media tradition I've come to treasure each year is the popular "Best Nine" or "Top Nine" grids. Here is how mine came out ...

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As I said in my original Instagram post (thank you, TopNine!) I think this grid nicely sums up my social media self - because I'm all about my kids, my planners, and our special needs journey!

Clockwise from top left: Earlybird's first successful Target shopping trip, EB practicing phone skills with Nana and Papa, my filled-to-the-brim planner carts, a still from the video of EB's end-of-year awards ceremony, EB's first day EVER at school, EB and me on our way to (or more likely from) school, my planning-the-planners post-it note outline,  EB's well earned smile and in the center, yours truly surrounded by my dear children on my 50th birthday last year!

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Now before I go I should make sure to mention the TEA in my very first picture! (This is a Tea post after all, lol.)

What I'm drinking today (or yesterday actually, when I first sat down to type up this post) is a plain old black decaf - what I had near at hand, in other words! I have a bit of a sinus thing going on right now - no fever, so not quite an infection knock on wood but a lot of pressure and a little bit of pain - and in addition to frequent steam showers and Sudafed, and the neti pot and twice-daily Emergen-C, I'm drinking a LOT of fluids and mostly a lot of hot tea.

(Would love your prayers/healing thoughts that this goes away soon ... some of you might remember I'm allergic to nearly all antibiotics! My fingers are tightly crossed I can fend this off with natural remedies.)

My tea snack shown on my plate is part of one of my near year's resolutions - or goals as I prefer to call them - a handful of blueberries and an orange. Trying to be better this year about my nutrition! Better fuel = better energy!

Also shown in that top photo, the corner of my homemade planner and - another New Year's tradition - this year's Mary Engelbreit Page-a-Day calendar! I honestly can't remember how long I've been using them, but I simply cannot do without this sweet little daily calendar. It's something I truly look forward to each and every day .... :-)

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Something else I'm very much looking forward to ...

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I'm going to see this on Sunday! And I can't hardly wait. I'm not sure anything can replace the 1994 version of this story in my heart - because that one is lovingly entwined with a memory of my dear maternal grandmother, with whom I first watched "our" Little Women brought to life. But the trailers I've seen for this most recent depiction look oh-so-amazing and the reviews have been out of this world!

Have you seen it yet? What have you seen most recently? Are there other things you're looking forward to on the big (or little) screen this year?

I am quite looking forward to an upcoming Masterpiece series, Sanditon, based on an unfinished final novel by Jane Austen and interpreted by screenwriter Andrew Davies (Pride and Prejudice, Little Dorrit, Les Miserables). It looks to be an 8-episode series, and begins on PBS on January 12th - so Happy Birthday to me! Another MP multi-episode series to start later this year, Miss Scarlet and the Duke, also looks amazing! See the trailer for the former here and the latter here.

I'm eager, too, for Dr. Dolittle later this month, starring one of my longtime favorites, Robert Downey Jr. (How I WISH he would make one more Sherlock Holmes movie!) And coming to Netflix at some point this year is a series I am SO excited for - The Bridgertons. It's a little known fact (at least outside certain circles) that I am a HUGE historical romance fan, and one of my favorite authors is Ms. Julia Quinn. Her eight-novel series about a fun and fabulous family living in regency England - The Bridgertons - is just wonderful and I am beyond thrilled to see it on screen!

Well my friends, I have kept you here far long enough, but I thank you, as always, for stopping by to read and "take tea." I hope you all have a lovely weekend ... and Congratulations again to Mary Alice, Michelle M and Van!

As I go, I will leave you with one of my favorite Alcott quotes:

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I will see you here again very soon!

❀


My 2020 Printable Planning Sheets + a Surprise Giveaway! 🌞

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Hello my friends, and Happy New Year's Eve eve! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. :-)

I'm here today to share printable planning sheets for 2020 - hot off the presses! Below you will find 12 separate PDF links - one for each month of the year. Although I do proof-read the sheets several times, it's inevitable I miss an error or two - remember, this is very much a "homespun" affair. ;-)

Anyhoo, I offer these sheets with the hope that they may be useful to someone else. And as always my planning sheets are free to print, but for personal use only.

Now, a couple of things about this year's batch:

I removed some of the "extra event" planning sheets, because I wanted to slim my planner down a bit. I usually end up keeping holiday planning sheets on clipboards or in folders anyway, along with recipes and other things that pertain to a special day. I'll still make printable holiday planning sheets available, but they will be offered in separate PDFs. I will post them here just as soon as I'm able!

All that said, there are still a few blank planning sheets at the end of each monthly section, as well as several extra note pages at the end of the planner. So all in all I probably didn't end up saving much space, lol - but I hope all this results in a less bulky planner.

Also, I changed around the weekly planning spread a bit! The content is the same, but I switched the agenda and overview pages from left to right and vice versa. I found I really liked having the agenda visible on the far left side of my spread, and my to-do list on the far right.

I also changed the planner title page ...

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... because I made up a new photo collage!

I used some fun, favorite blog photographs, and I tried to choose images that captured what I post about most: the seasons, home baking, gardening, nature study, planners, cozy corners - though curiously I left out a proper cup of tea ...

(There is however a cup of tea on the very last page of my planner - my end page!)

Ok, without further ado, here are the links to my monthly planning sheets!

Please read on for instructions on setting up your planner AND some news about a New Year's Giveaway!

🌞The By Sun and Candlelight 2020 Weekly PlannerπŸ•―

January

February

March

April

May

June

July

August

September

October

November

December

*β˜•οΈ*

There are a few different ways you can use my planning sheets. I myself like to have them bound at the copy shop but I have also used them in a 3-ring binder. Another idea would be to keep them on clipboards, or even in a file folder crate.

If you are interested in using the whole collection as a spiral bound planner, here is a brief rundown of what I do:

I first print out all the sheets, and then I add:

β€’ a pretty cover page

β€’ 12 monthly divider pages

β€’ a sturdy end page

β€’ adhesive monthly tabs

Note: For printing the planning sheets I prefer Staples-brand letter-size (8.5" x 11") "Premium Bright White Inket & Laser Paper" (28 lb., 98 Bright). I find this paper allows the colors to stand out but not bleed through and it takes a pen (I prefer this one) very nicely. For the covers and dividers, I like to use a heavier scrapbooking paper or "cardstock." You can find such paper at any arts and crafts store, or even on Amazon. (My favorite resource is a company called Graphic 45. They sell beautiful collections of vintage-design papers.)

I use a piece of chipboard for the back cover or end page of my planner which I also order from Amazon. Adhesive tabs for the monthly divider pages can be found at Staples or on Amazon. I personally love Erin Condren's pastel-hued tabs for my planners!

If you have any questions about my sheets or how I set up my planner, please don't hesitate to ask. I've been making them for a few years now and every year I work out a new kink or two! Unfortunately I am not in a position to sell my planners at this time, but hope that you will find them easy enough to print and use yourself through the links here at my blog.

Ok, now about the aforementioned giveaway!

As you all know I held a planner giveaway earlier this month, as part of my Late Autumn Tea series, and Shelly in WI won a copy of my planner (all dolled up and bound just like my own). Well as I worked on our planners - one for Shelly and one for myself - I realized I had some extra supplies on hand so ...

✨I have 3 more planners to give away!✨

(Hooray! I love making planners for people!)

Now if you are interested in winning  planner - all spiral-bound and "dolled up" with dividers, etc. - please leave a comment on this post, answering the following question:

❄️What is something that brings you comfort or joy in the Winter?❄️

I will use your answers as inspiration for my upcoming Deep Winter Tea series!

I will announce the three winners here on Friday, January 3rd and then will mail off these planners just ASAP. Unfortunately, you will be missing the first week or so of planning, but it's the best I can do! I really love sharing these planners, and hope others will enjoy using them, too!

Well my friends, I wish you all the best in 2020! Thanks so much for stopping by, and for all your kind words and encouragement. I am grateful for all your support and the opportunity to share a little of my life through this blog. Here's to many cups of tea and nice long chats in the new year to come!

❀


Tea @ Dawn's ~ Advent Week 1 "Heaven & Earth"

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Hello my friends and Happy Sunday! I'm sorry I had to postpone our Tea for a few days ... Little Bear had a miserable chest cold this past week, which in addition to being awful for my little guy to endure, really put us off our usual routine. The things I usually post about here - nature play, baking, crafting, planning - just were not really happening at all! But by the end of the week we were feeling a bit more like ourselves, and we began getting back on track, starting with a little ...

 

NATURE PLAY ❄️

The other big story of the week was the arrival of our first really big snow! As you can imagine, Little Bear was simply champing at the bit to get outside and play, nevermind his coughing and sniffles. Happily, by Friday I was able to bring him outside for about 20 minutes  - for a short nature trek during which we watched birds, observed tracks in the snow, and just generally stomped about enjoying the pretty winter preview. (Technically it's still Autumn for 13 more days!)

At one point it started snowing again lightly and we just looked up and watched the tiny flakes swirling down ...

"Like angel kisses from Heaven," I told Little Bear who, admittedly, looked at me a bit askance at that out-of-the-blue metaphor. But I love looking to nature for connections with our faith and sharing them with my children. Our whole Advent celebration is intimately tied with the different realms of creation. So we also talked a bit about Heaven itself - which is a really big and somewhat scary concept for a small child to ponder, and one that I'll keep very simple and light for now. (Heaven is where God lives and it's also where people we love go when they die.)

I also explained to LB that often we refer to the sky and the universe itself as "the heavens" ... and this includes all the wonderful things that exist therein: the sun, the earth, the moon, the stars, and so forth.

Speaking of ...

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Here's my sun & moon wind-chimes bearing the brunt of the snowstorm! I have always loved sun and moon images, especially those that entwine the two icons together. 

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And here is my Little Bear ... so happy to be outside, even if it was only for a short while!

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These are some tracks we spotted in the driveway. Deer, perhaps? We haven't looked them up in our field guides yet.

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You know, if you have to be trapped inside on a cold snowy day, a wonderful way to pass the time is by watching the birds at your feeders. Here are a few of the photos we took this past week, beginning with this handsome Cardinal pair. Some folks believe that Cardinals are messengers from Heaven, a sign a departed loved one is thinking of us. True or not, I know I always think of my grandparents when I spy a Cardinal pair. They introduced me to birdwatching when I was just a little girl, and how I loved sitting at their kitchen table, drinking tea and watching the birds visit, becoming familiar with all the different varieties. My grandparents lived not too far from the city of Boston but because they reliably filled their feeders, they attracted a wide assortment of species. Northern Cardinals and Purple Finches were particular favorites of my grandmother, as I recall. ❀

Here are a few more ... I really couldn't help myself!

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White-throated Sparrow (with Chickadee in background).

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A female House Finch, eyeing me over her shoulder. I can just hear her saying, "Ahem, yes - may I help you?"

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The White-Breasted Nuthatch, a rather jaunty fellow related to woodpeckers.

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A Mourning Dove sitting high in a tree, but not so high she didn't notice me with my big camera in the kitchen window!

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The sweet little Black-Capped Chickadee - so energetic and friendly! He also happens to be the Massachusetts State Bird.
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A pair of Goldfinches, toughing it out at the height of the storm. It amazes me how resilient birds are - in the depths of a snowstorm, they're flocking to the feeders because literally every minute of every day counts when it comes to survival!
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Peek-a-Boo little Tufted Titmouse! These birds are pretty bold. The only ones aside from Chickadees who don't fly away when I'm right in the window snapping shots.
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And finally, two birds who are rather dear to me: the Dark-Eyed Junco and the Carolina Wren. The Junco is a true harbinger of seasons changing - and you all know how I feel about the seasons! Juncos leave New England right around Easter (journeying north) and return just after Halloween.

I had thought the Carolina Wren was also a migrant (to the south, though) but we have a pair of them who seem to be staying put. Wrens are so loud and cheerful and this one's song is especially vibrant, quite recognizable once you're aware of it. If I do this right, you should be able to hear it here. (I'm referring to Song #1.)

Anyhoo, back to our Tea now, and the theme of our week which, as my post title informs, is "Heaven & Earth." Our Advent is really getting off to  a slow start - we have all our Christmas decorations down from the attic but they're just sitting in my bedroom at the moment. (And what a mess, THAT is!)

We do have our tree up but it's still standing bare in a corner of the family room. I am not at all - well, not very - anxious about being so "behind" in our decorating, though. This "soft start" actually works pretty nicely with my intention of keeping things slow and simple in the weeks leading up to Christmas. We did set up the children's nativity corner and our earthy little Advent garden. More on those topics below, but first let me tell you a little about my tea shown in the top pic ...

But for Heaven's sake - where are my manners? I have yet to offer you all, my dear readers and friends, a cup of your own! Please do sit down and be welcome ... take a cup and a tart and let's get comfortable. I'm apt to chat on for a bit, as you know ...

 

BAKING 🧁

Today's tea is a truly delicious blend, a new twist on an old favorite: Earl Grey with Lavender. I am drinking it with a little honey and perhaps some steamed vanilla milk if my husband has a chance to make some before be runs out for an errand. This would be much like a "London Fog Latte" which some of you might remember (because I mention it all the time) is my favorite after-dinner drink.

Beside my tea (again, referring to the top photo) is one of the star tarts I made with Little Bear just this morning. So VERY yummy and quite easy-peasy, anyone can make them in no time!

Here's what we did:

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I used pre-made dough I happened to have in the fridge (courtesy of Thanksgiving pies that never came to be) and we simply rolled out the dough and used cookie cutters (approximately 3" size) to create little shapes. We placed a dollop of apple pie filling in the round shapes (having chopped up the apples a bit) and orange marmalade in the stars. 

Next we crimped the edges with the tines of a fork, brushed the tops with a mixture of lightly beaten egg and whole milk and then finally sprinkled the tarts with raw sugar.

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Into a 400Β° oven they went and they baked for about 17 minutes.

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Aren't they cute? Like little homemade pop-tarts. :-)

(Full disclosure, I found the general idea for these goodies on Pinterest. I just kind of went with what I had on hand and the "star" theme we were working on this week.)

And OH! Speaking of baking ... did you all know that this coming Thursday (12/12), on ABC, a new season of The Great American Baking Show: Holday Edition will be airing? The show runs at 9 p.m. - and for those with young ones (or young hearts), just before the show  beginning at 8 p.m. are two children's specials: Olaf's Frozen Adventure (8) and Toy Story That Time Forgot (8:30).)

I make note of these kinds of things in my planner(s) because if I didn't ... I'd kick myself for missing out! Thank goodness for DVRs though - with my early bedtime, I'll be viewing these shows during daylight hours!

So let's talk a little then about ...

 

PLANNING ✍🏻

Here's a little more about our Advent themes, beginning with a page in my bullet journal showing my four-week outline:

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So you don't have to squint, here is a breakdown of our weekly themes:

Week 1: (Hope) Earth & Sky (stars, stones, shells, soil, sun/son)

Week 2: (Peace) Peaceful Plants (evergreens, holly, herbs & spices, poinsettias, etc.)

Week 3: (Joy) Animals at Advent (solstice tree, animal gifts, manger animals, caring for creation)

Week 4: (Love) Loving Hearts & Helping Hands (home, doing for others, the holy family)

Pictured below, a little scribble from my weekly spread ...

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... a quote that works very well for this first week's theme! ✨

And here's a look at my December calendar which I must confess was completely BLANK until yesterday. 

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This is my seasonal bullet journal (Late Autumn: November-December 2019). I juggle it with a few other planners, as most of you know. Is it the simplest of systems? No. But each platform is satisfying to me - though, the "juggling" isn't ideal. I'm hoping to streamline things in the new year ... as if you all haven't heard THAT line before!

Now, before I go I'd like to talk a little about our crafting this week, since we did actually manage to squeeze a bit in, and it very nicely tied into our theme ...

 

CRAFTING 🀲🏻

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Oh yes, first. This - the before pic. The craft cupboard exploded all over my kitchen table. πŸ€¦πŸ»β€β™€οΈ

Do you ever go to start some little project, something that shouldn't really take you too long, and then get completely sidetracked by a whole 'nother thing? Well, this is what happened to me the other morning. I wanted to find one particular crafting item - contact paper I believe it was - and when I pulled open the "Craft & Candle" cupboard in my kitchen I was alarmingly reminded of the holy mess that it had become. Stuff started dropping to the floor - including glass things and fragile things, and broken things in need of repair - and a tangled mass of twine, garland and ribbon landed right on my head. So that was it, enough was enough!

So I took a little time - say four hours or so - and straightened the whole thing out! And while I was at it, I grabbed a couple of "craft-ish" bins I had stashed - ahem - under my bed, too.

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But here's the after pic! Much better, yes? (And oh my goodness, who let the cat up on the table?)

Here's a closer peek ...

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Aaahhh ...

The remaining (and bulkier) craft items were stashed in a bin and bag ...

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.... and a pretty "vintage" decoupaged suitcase:

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And guess what I found? Not just one but SIX rolls of contact paper! Now we were able to get ourselves crafting ...

It's one of my favorite aspects of Advent - working with our hands, thinking with our hearts, to create meaningful decorations and gifts. Whenever possible I try to implement materials found in nature, such as these lichen-covered branches ...

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To make a little twig star!

And then with that contact paper, we made some sparkling suncatchers ...

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I find these kinds of craft projects go more smoothly if I have things prepared a bit in advance.

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Paper shapes cut out, tissue paper bits ripped ... this way it's a more enjoyable activity for both of us and we can reap the results more quickly!

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I talked with Little Bear about stars in the sky, including the Sun, our biggest and most special star. It's been fading for months now and on these dark December days, "catching" the sun where we can seems all the more important. 

I love how these little gem-filled star-shapes make the most of that gorgeous, sleepy sun ...

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Light is so precious these days! We try to notice the sunset every evening we can, especially during the seasons of Advent and Lent.

And here are the stars the next morning!

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Another craft we worked on just this very morning was a shell candle ...

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We've made beeswax candles many times over the years, and it's just such a magical process!

First I melted two small bars of solid beeswax in a makeshift double boiler. (A clean empty can sitting in a pot of simmering water.) Once the solid wax was entirely liquid, I carefully poured it into the shell while Little Bear held the candle wick straight. (I made sure he knew not to put his hands anywhere near the hot wax.)

I took over once I disposed of the can and after a few minutes the wax had set enough that the wick stayed straight.

Then we added the candle to our children's creche corner:

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Just behind the shell candle is one of our favorite storybooks for this week, The Star Child, illustrated by Bernadette Watts - who, by the way, is one of my absolute favorite children's book illustrators, particularly of folk and fairy tales.

I will show you more of our children's creche in my next post - we just moved it to this spot this weekend and we're still getting it all set up! Suffice it to say though, each week we add a little more to the creche - in layers, according to each week's theme - leading up to Christmas and ending with the Christ Child. (Actually, ending with the wise men who will soon begin their journey in the far east corner of our home.)

This all ties in with our over-arcing theme of "all creation waits." In a similar way, our nature-based Advent Garden gets brought to life, a little more each week of the season ...

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This is a simple, shallow glass bowl sitting nestled in a grapevine wreath. This week we added the "earth" layer - stones and shells. Next week we will add "plants" in the form of moss or perhaps lichen. After that, some tiny creatures will appear and then finally of course there will appear a little village ...

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It's such a small thing but I love how it connects nature and faith in a simple yet meaningful way. I find children often respond really well to symbols that represent an idea ... something they can take in and turn over ... come to understand in their own way. Our Advent Garden will take some time to fill in - we'll have to be patient - but isn't that one of the greatest lessons of this season of anticipation? Good things come to those who wait? ❀

Before I go (and I will be going soon, I promise), here is a craft we made a few years ago for this week of Advent ... it's become one of my most treasured decorations.

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All the details can be found in this post from 2015.

Now, before I go - for real this time! - I wanted to remind you that I am running a little giveaway here at my blog through the 22nd of December. I will be sending someone a box of "Winter Comfort & Joy" along with one of my homemade planners. I will be announcing a winner on Monday, December 23rd ... if you are interested, please check out this post

Here is my humble little Tea logo if you would like to share my news. (You get entered each time you comment and share!) Just please tag me wherever you post so I can keep track of who's sharing where. :-)

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Email is welcome too! You can reach me at drhanigan AT gmail DOT com. 

I look forward to hearing from you - even if you just want to say hi, or ask a question, or whatever! And I do hope you enjoyed our Tea this week. I will be back on the 20th with my next Teatime, though I may be back before then - we'll see how this week goes!

So ta for now my friends ... I will see you here again very soon!


Late Autumn Tea Journal: 11β€’1β€’19

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Hello, my friends and Happy November!

I am writing to you on this first day of a brand new month - and a bright new season - and it is my dearest hope that this "note" finds you all doing well. ❀

I'm here today to kick off a new series of Teatimes, and to give you all a little tour of how I set up my Late Autumn bullet journal. I am hoping to share a "Tea Journal" post every other week throughout this lovely season of late autumn and the winter holidays. Here is my tentative schedule of upcoming dates and seasonal topics:

11/8: Fading Light/Cranberries/Frost

11/22: Cozy Nests/Earth's Bounty/Thankful Hearts

12/6: Heaven & Earth/Holiday Greenery/Christmas Trees

12/20: Winter Solstice/All Creation Waits/Gingerbread

1/3: Winter Stars/Comfort & Joy/Word of the Year

In each Teatime post I will share a pretty cup of tea and perhaps a special seasonal goodie (virtually, natch!) and I will also share some of my recent bullet journal/planner pages, focusing on current seasonal themes.

So today is just a quick "working tea" because I'm all business when I have a new journal to prepare! You see my pretty mug up top and a little peek at my current journal. I've really just got the bones in place so far - this weekend I'll work on filling things in.

I've been posting about my pages over at Instagram and a few folks have asked me to share how I set up my bujo/planner. So before I get to my photos, here's a little bit about that ...

MATERIALS:

  • journal - I like this one for its smooth paper, sturdy binding, and convenient size
  • ruler - one of my dad's old engineering rulers!
  • pen - I always use Frixion Erasable pens.
  • assorted post-it notes/adhesive tabs/washi tape/paper clips/binder clips
  • pastel highlighters (also erasable) and colored pencils

PROCESS:

1. Choose my journal timeframe. I know many people use their bullet journals with no particular begin/end date in mind. They just start where they are and when they run out of paper, they move on to a new journal! I myself like to create seasonally-specific journals, so this current journal is organized for Late Autumn (the months of November and December).

2. Create a journal content list. What kinds of things do I want in my journal? See below for my content list - which is based on my own needs and priorities, though I do get a lot of wonderful inspiration over at Pinterest. I love coming across a cool idea for organizing my content in a way I hadn't considered before!

3. Mark off journal sections before putting pen to paper! I use post-it notes to set apart different sections of my journal, so I can be sure all my content will fit!

4. Label journal. Some folks create very lovely and fancy front covers for their journals. I like the look of these simple, pastel stickers I found at the craft store. Each season gets its own special hue and primary "purpose."

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5. Create page spreads. I like to sit somewhere comfortable with a large clipboard in my lap and all my supplies around me before I get started. Oh, and tea! I like to have a hot cup of tea by my side. It helps me think! This particular aspect of bullet journaling - the designing and drawing part - probably requires the most amount of your time, but once you get it all set up, you're good to go! And you know, I can honestly say ... I love it! All the measuring and counting and drawing out lines. I don't find it tedious or boring - rather, it soothes me in a way I think might be comparable to knitting or sewing. I try to pick a time for this when I can really bang out most of the planner ... but in reality I usually have to set it aside and continue my progress as I can.

6. Establish a journaling routine. Once you get your bujo set up, it's helpful to make journaling a part of your weekly (daily?) routine. I try to "work" in my journal a little each morning and again in the afternoon. This would be updating the phenology wheel, calendar spreads and writing in the actual journal portion - jotting down notes and adding clippings. I try to carve out time on the weekends for reviewing and catching up in my journal as well as checking in with some of the more goal-oriented spreads.

So just what all do I have in my seasonal journals? Well, let's take a look at this one!

MY LATE AUTUMN JOURNAL CONTENTS:

title page (1)

monthly overviews: Nov/Dec (2)

seasonal themes and brainstorming (1)

phenology (1)

teatime planning (1)

personal wellness page (1)

November calendar (2)

December calendar (2)

weekly spreads (4) x 10 weeks

reading log (2)

Thanksgiving planner (2)

Christmas planner (4)

journal index (1)

brain dump/clippings (remaining pages)

(The bracketed numbers indicate how many pages this content item will need.)

My overall design really is pretty simple. I don't embellish or sketch very much even though I definitely admire layouts done so creatively. For me, if I'm going to actually use the journal I must keep it simple. I don't have a lot of time to journal and I tend to obsess over getting something "just right." So it's better for me to keep to straight lines and little bullets, stars and hearts!

Ok - now for the photo tour! (Remember, I'm just getting started on this journal so much of it is still blank ...)

COVER:

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Not much to say here - I just really love those labels!

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TITLE PAGE:

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Title Page - pretty basic! I resisted getting too complicated here - just getting that tea mug as I liked it was stressful enough, lol! As you can see, I chose three colored pencils to shade in some of my writing: russet, plum and pine green. ❀❀❀

MONTHLY OVERVIEWS:

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I really like this basic spread because it gives me, in one glance, the real nitty-gritty of the season ahead. I've used post-it notes here for miscellaneous monthly happenings.

SEASONAL BRAINSTORMING & PHENOLOGY:

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I think it's safe to say this is my favorite spread in my whole journal! On the left is a page just all about the absolute joy that is the season of Late Autumn. I've listed our weekly seasonal themes at the top, and just below that is my seasonal brainstorming blurb ... 

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I love writing down all the little comforts and joys that occur in a season ... some are universal and some are more personal. All make me eager for a new season ahead!

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I found the phenology wheel template on Pinterest. Just do a search for "phenology wheel" and many designs will pop up. As you can see I have filled out today's slice of the wheel. I record the moon phase, the weather (my little icon indicates partly cloudy with wind), high temp and sunset time. Across the outer rim, the dates will be shaded according to my color-coded weather chart. (I forgot to do that this morning!) Here's a completed wheel from earlier this year ...

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Nature nut, color-lover and weather geek that I am - I find this hobby enormously satisfying! :-)

BLOG PLANNER & WELLNESS PAGE:

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I'm using post-it notes on this spread, because I often find it easier to organize my initial ideas with post-its! Both of these pages will require a lot more information than what I've jotted down so far, so I'll revisit this spread in a future post. To be honest, I haven't had much success keeping up with these pages in previous journals - perhaps because it's all rather personal and it can be hard to make time for "self-care," especially at this busy and stressful time of year. With that in mind, I'm committing to reviewing this spread each weekend and making sure I'm keeping up with my goals - posting as promised, and taking care of my physical and mental health!

MONTHLY CALENDARS:

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This journal is devoted to just November and December, so I only need two monthly calendar spreads. I got November's template done but I still have much to do for December!

Here are a few closer looks ... I did have a little fun with sketching (not my strong suit!) and penning out seasonal quotes (more my fortΓ©!).

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I always love to list monthly folklore like birth flowers and gemstones. My mother's birthday is this month so I have a special fondness for "mums" and golden topaz jewelry. :-)

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(Fyi, First Frost is one of my all-time favorite books! I just adore Sara Addison Allen and am counting the days till she publishes a new book!)

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What a wacky turkey, lol ... I copied him from one of the boys' books. He doesn't look like a very happy turkey, does he?

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December to come ... by the way, I used a pretty washi tape to set apart these particular spreads since I look for the monthly calendars quite often.

WEEKLY SPREADS:

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This section is really the heart of my journal planner! I have a three-page spread for each week in the season. I like a vertical layout - it helps me SEE where I'm busy and not - and yes, I prefer a Monday-start. Not everyone does! I just SEE my weeks beginning on Monday and ending with the weekend. I like a to-do column up front at the start of the week, too. 

The middle page is for weekly planning: inside the fold I list out ideas for seasonal living (this week's theme is "goodnight, garden") and homeschooling lessons. The fold shown above is for "housekeeper" planning - errands, meals, cleaning and current projects. The backside of this folded page is for weekend plans and miscelleneous notes.

At the top of each page in the outer corner I list the dates of the week, the month at hand and the weekly theme as well as the moon phase. The spaces below each daily column are for to-dos specific to that day. I also list monies spent at the bottom of the to-do column.

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Naturally I couldn't help but embellish this week a little! You can also see here in this picture, the tabs I used for organizing the rest of the journal after the weekly planning section. None of these sections have anything to show yet, so I will just tell you that I have a two-pages spread for Thanksgiving planning, a four-page spread for Christmas planning, a page for my reading log, and then the rest of the journal is for ... well, journaling! :-)

***

Well my friends, I hope you've enjoyed this not-so-brief tour of my Late Autumn Journal! And I thank you, as always, for joining me here ...

Before I go I'd like to remind you all that when it comes to things like bullet journaling and seasonal planning - everyone does things in their own way! Some of us do similar things, some of us do wildly different things, but all of us are doing our own thing and that's the best part about it! I think that's what I love best about "bullet journaling" is how you can customize things to suit your very own preferences.

I share the above photos and information with you all not to say ... "this is how you do a bullet journal" ... but rather ... "this is how I do my bullet journal!"

But maybe something I show you will give you a better idea of what you want, or help you see things in a new light. Or maybe you're looking this all over thinking, Hey - this gal's on the same page as me - we're like kindred spirits! And, well ... that's swell, too! :-)

Oh, and also! If you'd like to participate in a Teatime, you are most welcome! All are welcome to stop by and read/comment but I'd love to hear your take on my topics! You could post something at your own site and send me the link or you could send me a picture and your thoughts, and I will include them in my scheduled post. You can reach me by emailing me at drhanigan AT gmail DOT com. You can also reach me via Instagram direct message.

Thanks again my friends, and I hope you all have a great weekend! I also hope you said "Rabbit-rabbit" this morning! - I'm looking at you, Penny! - and to all a Happy Late Autumn ...

See you here again very soon!


My (printable!) Summer Housekeeping Planner πŸ’›

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Hello everyone, and Happy Spring-nearly-Summer!

Well, it has been almost four months since I last posted - and that just might be a record for me 😳 - but boy has it been a busy Winter & Spring! I have not found the time to write full length posts lately, but I do post pretty regularly over on Instagram (though perhaps a bit less so on Facebook). If you are on those social networks I'd love to "see" you over there!

So clearly I have a lot of catching up to do - and I hope to do just that throughout the summer - but for today I'd like share a printable, 38-page "Summer Housekeeping Planner" I made up for myself just in case it might be useful to someone else! This particular planner will include forms for the months of June, July and August. (Future seasonal housekeeping planners will be shared just as soon as I get them designed!)

Ok, here it is, my ...

Summer Housekeeping Planner

Full disclosure - as pretty as that binder shown above is, I've decided to keep my Summer Housekeeping booklet in my master Homekeeping Binder/Planner. It just seems more convenient to have the bulk of my home/family planning in one place. Once September arrives, and I am on to Autumn Housekeeping, I will store the booklet in this "summery" separate binder.

Ok, then! I'll have a follow-up post to come soon with my thoughts on how I'm using all those planning pages, but for now, I will wish you all well and hope that your spring has been lovely! Here's to a happy summer ahead ...

See you here again very soon ...πŸ’›


Welcome Spring Week!

(A peek at how I plan my seasonal homeschooling!)

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A few days ago I shared a picture on Instagram which shows the primary picture books I'll be using with Little Bear this week. Our seasonal homeschooling theme is "Welcome, Spring!" (in honor of the Vernal Equinox this Wednesday) and so I chose five favorite books that highlight the spirit (and science) of the new season ahead. I also promised to follow up with a breakdown of how I used these books to create an easy and enjoyable lesson plan for the week. So today I'm here to describe my proposed plans for the week, and chat a bit about our style of homeschooling in general.

Now, the heart of our seasonal homeschooling is really found in embracing annual traditions, observing subtle changes in our habitat, acquainting ourselves with local flora and fauna, and enjoying our large collection of seasonal picture books. Reading the same stories at the same time of year, year after year, reinforces family memories while connecting us with the cycle of seasons.

So the books I chose for this first week of spring are:

Monday: And Then It's Spring by Julie Fogliano

Tuesday: When the Earth Wakes by Ani Rucki

Wednesday: The Spring Equinox: Celebrating the Greening of the Earth by Ellen Jackson

Thursday: The Seasons: Spring by Nuria Roca

Friday: A New Beginning: Celebrating the Spring Equinox by Wendy Pfeiffer

I keep the current season's books in a special basket, but I like displaying the "books of the week" on a separate shelf ...

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When I started formulating my seasonal lessons - and this all goes back MANY years seeing as how my oldest is now 23 years old! - one of the first things I did was to begin collecting high quality books that reflect the seasons and natural phenomena. I buy as many books as I can, but I also make note of titles we can reliably borrow from our local library. All these books (divided by season into bins) provide a wonderful base for our seasonal homeschooling. These days we have a rather large collection,  but I am always happy to add a new book if it has a meaningful message and lovely illustrations. For instance, I just purchased this book because we so enjoyed the winter tale by this same author!

Equally important to my planning is our established weekly rhythm and pre-selected weekly seasonal themes. With all of this in place I am able to organize my ideas more efficiently and realistically.

You can find a list of my 52 weekly seasonal themes in this post from 2016, and below is the weekly rhythm I pin our home lessons around:

  • Monday: Nature Walk
  • Tuesday: Crafting
  • Wednesday: Storytelling
  • Thursday: Cleaning
  • Friday: Tea
  • Weekend: Family Time

Once I've chosen the stories for the week's theme, I flip through each book to get ideas for follow-up activities. I write things down on sticky notes and then arrange those notes in my planner (see photos below). Here's what I jotted down for each book this week:

And Then It's Spring - observing the brown all around, planting seeds

When the Earth Wakes -  wooden bear mama & cub, drawing of four seasons

The Spring EquinoxAnglo-Saxon legend of Ostara, goddess of spring and dawn

The Seasons: Spring - making a weather chart

A New Beginning - special food celebrations including eggs

Next I expand on each day's activities, giving thought to our schedule, as well as the holidays and events that will shape our week.

🌱Take pictures of backyard; repeat each Monday throughout spring. (Mon)

🌱Bake donuts for St. Joseph's Day, an annual tradition. (Tues)

🌱Sing a sweet "Winter Goodbye" song (found in this book) on the last day of Winter. (Tues)

🌱Carefully pack away our winter books. Bring out the Spring Book Basket. (Tues)

🌱Make a pretty spring wreath for the front door. (Wed)

🌱Sweep and clean up our front entryway, in anticipation of spring visitors. (Wed)

🌱Tidy the nature table - make room for spring treasures. (Wed)

🌱Prep vegetables for Pasta Primavera (our traditional spring equinox dinner). (Wed)

🌱Use my story apron and wooden animals to retell the story of "The Rabbit and the Carrot" (as found in this book). (Wed)

🌱Create a paper chain countdown - just one month to Easter! (Note: I keep a list of daily activities in my planner for this countdown.)

🌱Paper chain day 1: Make birdseed eggs to hang in our garden (Thurs)

🌱Begin spring cleaning! Start by organizing our natural cleaning supplies. (Thurs)

🌱Paper chain day 2: Let's have an Early Spring Tea. Perhaps invite nana and papa? (Fri)

🌱Bake seed bread/cake and mix up honey butter. (Fri)

🌱Slice boiled eggs. (Fri)

🌱Brew Spring Tea with Mama. (Fri)

🌱Listen to Vivaldi's "Spring" during teatime. (Fri)

🌱Paper chain day 3: Set up greenhouses in sunroom with Daddy (Sat)

🌱Paper chain day 4: Do yard work with Daddy; rake the yard clean! (Sun)

If you notice, many of these ideas involve the whole family or parent and child working together. I feel these kinds of learning/living activities are every bit of important as more "child-centered" things they might do on their own. This instills a sense of how important the season is to the household at large and the family's sense of togetherness and well being.

Here are some pictures of my planner page showing how I organize my week:

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Left side of the weekly spread shown above - where I make note of weekly events, theme, dinner menus, homekeeping, crafty/comforting ideas and to-dos.

And then on the right-hand side ...

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I have the week's agenda in a vertical column and next to that, a lined note-space. I added a bit of washi tape just for fun. :-)

Now, this week I am using my homemade planner for lesson plans. Recently I've shown you how I use the Erin Condren teacher's planner as well as my bullet journal for lesson planning. The EC planner is very specific to academics while my bujo is a rather free-form kind of planner/journal. The planner shown above falls somewhere in between. It's less structured than the EC planner, but it also has more writing space than my bujo. Needless to say I'm still trying to figure out which platform works best for my planning!

Well my friends, I hope you've enjoyed a peek into our "Welcome Spring" week, as well as a breakdown of how I work out our seasonal homeschooling. Let me know if you have any questions! Drop a note here or email me at drhanigan AT gmail DOT com. And if you are interested in my homemade seasonal planner, check out this post for my 2019 printable planning sheets. 

As always I thank you all for stopping by! I hope to see you here again very soon ...

HAPPY SPRING!


Post-Its, Planning and Very Full Plates!

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Hello my friends, and happy Sunday! I hope you are all doing well. 😊

I've posted about planning here for many years now (13 years next week in fact!) but that in no way makes me an expert on the subject. I often struggle with time management and staying on top of it all - especially when I have a lot going on and/or our status quo is changing. But it is a topic that keeps me thinking and strategizing and striving for improvement - so today I'd like share a (hopefully) helpful idea for when you're feeling overwhelmed by all the things for which you are responsible and are perhaps struggling to keep on top of it all.

For instance, right now I feel like my current planning system is just not adequately meeting my current planning needs - and so I've been shifting back and forth between one planning platform and the next. At times, I'm juggling several planners (all meeting different needs) and at other times I try to rely on one single planner to meet all those same needs. Hoping that by simplifying my planners I will somehow simplify my life ...

If only it were that easy, right??

So I decided to take a deep breath and step back and take a look at just WHAT ALL I am attempting to manage. I've done this before so this might look familiar to some of you. It might seem like overthinking things, but I find the exercise truly helpful when I'm feeling a little off balance. It's a bit like a brain dump for planning ... getting it all out there and then looking at it all with (hopefully) new eyes.

Now, as most of my readers know, I am the mother of four sons and each of them are in completely different stages of development and have widely varying needs. Our oldest (23) is out of college and juggling the new demands of adulthood, while our second oldest (19) is a freshman in college and adjusting to a more independent lifestyle plus more challenging studies. Our third son, Earlybird (17), has autism, and has been homeschooled all his life with the support of a wonderful in-home ABA team these past five years ... but this very week - tomorrow in fact - we are putting our Earlybird in school. Yes, I just wrote the "s" word, and yes, that's the big change I've been alluding to in recent social media posts!

Certainly this new educational "adventure" will be the topic of an upcoming post, but I can tell you all that this is a good thing, and that we made this decision very mindfully and cautiously. We are still homeschooling our EB, but he will be attending our local high school for a few hours each morning so he may take part in a special needs life skills program. We are praying this will be a good fit for our boy whose needs have changed and increased in recent years and will only continue to become more challenging in the future. It is our dearest hope that we can find support, community and guidance for our son as he nears and enters adulthood.

Every parent has to face the hard truth at some point that we can no longer "do it all" for - and be everything to - our child, but this is perhaps especially so for a special needs parent. This realization in part is what led us to explore other options for EB ... but I'll get into more details in that forthcoming post. I just wanted to mention this new development because it's a big part of why I feel I am at a point where I need to re-evaluate my routines and take stock of all my plates in the air! Kids change, parents change - and our planning must always be flexible!

(Note: Of course our homeschooling continues not only with Earlybird, but with our youngest son, Little Bear who at five is still in the midst of his kindergarten year! I am in the process of taking stock of where he is at and what our educational goals are for the spring and summer. In September he'll begin first grade at home.)

But back to the post-it notes!

Now, this activity might not work for everyone, but for me, it's a good way to slow down and simplify. I start with the very basics of planning and that is by asking myself ...

Just WHAT ALL do I need to PLAN?

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I love using post-it notes when I'm working out a project of any kind. The tiny ones (like these) are especially helpful for organizing individual steps or ideas.

Here's a brief rundown of my method:

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This will be different for everyone of course, but here's how mine shaped up:

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Categories:

  • personal matters
  • family matters
  • bloggy business
  • household matters
  • to-dos (and projects)
  • time management (calendars, agendas)
  • financial and security issues
  • routines and house cleaning
  • homeschooling (education)
  • nature and faith

I then started thinking about all the things I need to focus on and how pressing they might be. Big or small, I wrote it down, and here's how my post-it page ended up ...

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As I outlined three pictures above, I tried to group the post-it notes according to how often I need to access each kind of information. So the notes on the far left are things I need to think about or look at the most often (every day), while the next column to the right is for items of a more weekly nature and so on.

Now, this is as far as I got, to be honest! But I wanted to post while I had some time today at my computer. 😊

My next step will be to add more post-it notes as I think of other activities/responsibilities. As strange as it may seem, sometimes it's hard to think of all these categories! I think we parents often go on auto-pilot when it comes to caring for our home and family but when we stop to think about it, there really is a LOT to manage. For example, most of us enjoy travel and fun family outings, but without a little (or a lot) of forethought and planning, this kind of activity is not bound to happen - at least not in my family!

(Feel free to use my ideas pictured here but also check out Pinterest for more ideas. Use a search time like "home management binder" or "planner contents.")

Next I will be figuring out WHERE DO I KEEP ALL THESE PLANS?

Which of these post-it notes work best together and what kind of platform would serve each type of planning best. Binder, folder, bullet journal, formal planner, phone ... there are so many platforms to consider.

Ideally, I'd like to keep my planning system as streamlined as possible. Currently I seem to have too many parts in play! (And this is, of course, impacted by my *ahem* ongoing planner addiction. I know many of you can relate to this struggle!)

Once I have my platform(s) in place, I will give some thought to planner maintenance - aka WHEN DO I DO ALL THIS PLANNING?

It's great to put things on paper, but I need to find time in my schedule to actually do all this planning!

Where in my daily routine do I make time for writing in my domestic diary, jotting down nature notes, reviewing lesson plans, looking over our family calendar, popping onto social media, sitting down to think and pray?

What day of the week do I devote to meal planning? Budgeting? Catching up with correspondence? Going through my "slush pile?" 

I'll check back in as I make progress on this project so I hope you'll stay tuned! I'd also LOVE to hear from you and how your own planning "system" is working for you these days. Have you found something that works really well? Are you dissatisfied with your current planner(s)? Are you feeling overwhelmed by all the "to dos" and "to remembers" in your life? Drop me a note if you have a moment and we'll catch back up in my next post - you can leave a comment here or send me an email at drhanigan AT gmail DOT com.

And yes - I'll be back to tell you more about how Earlybird is doing on his new "learning adventure" ... please keep him in your thoughts and prayers if you would!

For now though, thanks as always for stopping by and have a great week, my friends!

See you here again very soon ...


Blending Curriculum + Seasonal Lesson Plans

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As I mentioned in my last post, I have not been using my Erin Condren teacher's planner on a regular basis this year. It is a beautiful planner to be sure, but sometimes it's just a little TOO much planning for me, if you know what I mean! Some weeks I appreciate the freedom of working off a big "brainstorm" list - no plans set in stone, just working within our own happy weekly rhythm. And honestly, some weeks I just don't have enough time to fill in yet one more planner!

All that said though, I feel like our homeschooling has been off-track since the holidays - those big lists aren't translating into productive days - so I thought perhaps I'd return to a more structured planning format and see if that gets our weeks running a little more smoothly.

So since it was a very pretty, sunny weekend, I took pictures of my lesson planner as I worked, and popped over here to share! I also am including pictures from my seasonal bullet journal where I began our weekly planning with a little seasonal brainstorming!

(Reminder - we are doing kindergarten this year with our youngest (5yo Little Bear), while our 17yo Earlybird (who has autism) joins in (with support from his ABA therapist) as he can. Big news on the EB front however, there are some very big changes for our boy coming up in a few weeks and I will share more on that very soon!)

Ok, here is my planner spread, alongside our battered and beloved Oak Meadow Kindergarten syllabus. (I think it's about 15 years old!) As you can see in the top picture, as I worked here at the kitchen table I was joined by the ever-helpful (yet, napping) Archibald Fred.😸

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Left-hand side of the spread ...

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I love how this planner shades its pages in correspondence with the month - eg., blue for January, pink for February and then green for March, etc.

Right-hand side of the spread which I "gussied up" a bit with some stickers. I don't usually do this but since I knew I was going to post my spread this week I was inspired!

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I do love seeing all those plans all neat and tidy. The lined boxes and smooth paper make for a very nice writing experience. As the week goes along I will check off lessons as we complete them, βœ… cross things off that we skip ❎ and put an arrow next to those items we'll push forward.➑️

Close up of how nice the blocks look all filled in!

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As you can see, I also like to incorporate seasonal homeschooling activities into our weekly plan. This week's theme is "winter citrus," and I hope to balance our Oak Meadow lessons with some activities that let us explore this particular theme.

Here are some pics to show you how I organized those ideas late last week ...

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1. Gather resources: storybooks, recipes, verses, playthings, craft materials, snack ingredients and instructions.

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2. Make and organize photocopies for activities.

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3. File photocopies into weekly lesson plan folder.

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4. Write out seasonal ideas in my "Deep Winter" bullet journal.

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5. Request books we'll need from the library. (I did this late last week. Orange in January is "in transit" as I type!)

Once I had my seasonal homeschooling ideas in order, I checked our schedule for the coming week and any "events of note." Then I
looked through our current Oak Meadow lesson, identified individual actions and jotted them down on small sticky notes. 

(I know this seems like maybe a bit of extra work and even a waste of paper, but it really helps me fill in my planner when all I have to do is sort those sticky notes!)

Referencing both the citrus ideas and OM lessons I then filled out the EC teacher planner.

And then I took pictures, natch, and threw everything in my teacher tote. Next week I will launch into our plans and do my very best to keep up with them!

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Well my friends, as always I thank you for stopping by and hope you are all doing well! I have a tour of my "planning spaces" coming up ... as well as a peek at some of my plans for our early spring living and learning, so for now I will say goodbye ...

... but hope to see you here again very soon!


My Bi-Monthly Bullet Journals

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Hello my friends, and Happy Wednesday! 
How is your winter going? How about your new year??

I'm so sorry it's been so long since I last posted! I have in fact had a draft open on my computer for the past couple of months (months?!) but free time has been thin on the ground lately. All that said, I'm sitting down today in the mid-afternoon, to do my very best to get that darn post up at the blog before nightfall! (Or bedtime - whichever comes first!)

Anyhoo - how are you all? I hope you are all well! We are doing just fine here if perhaps stretched a wee bit thin lately from busy schedules and non-sleeping children - but that's a post for a different day! Today I'd like to give you a little tour of my seasonal bullet journal system. I actually have several planning (and tea!) posts percolating, but I'm going to keep things as short and simple today as possible. (Longtime readers know I love long posts - but I also tend to overcomplicate things which keeps me from finishing!)

Ok, onto the bujos ...

So I've posted about my journaling habits here many times before, but "bullet journaling" is a happy little hobby (some might say, lifestyle) I've been exploring just recently. Do any of you keep a bullet journal? Or any kind of journal? I'd love to hear about it if you do! (I'd especially LOVE to hear about bujos you use as self-made planners!)

I'm really still feeling my way around with this concept, but I do LOVE the idea of a bullet journal. And the way other people's journals look on Pinterest. Oh my gosh, i could waste spend so much time on Pinterest drooling over other folks' spreads!

Journal envy aside however, the "bujo" format appeals to me personally for so many reasons - it's creative, flexible, comprehensive and unique! Plus as a life-long DIYer, I just had to give it a go!

Basically, bullet journals meet more than a few of my most pressing planner needs:

I need my planner to be portable - easy to grab and take with me.

I like my planner to be comprehensive - all aspects of my life-planning are in one place.

I enjoy being different. I like for my planner to look like MY planner.

I desire for my planner to be intensely seasonal, a tool for connecting with the rhythm of the season at hand.

I have a few other planners as you all know: a devoted daily planner, a pretty little weekly planner, a binder "household" planner, and let us not forget my own homemade seasonal planner! I have not yet let go of any of these other planners but have instead just set them aside - just for a bit. I've been feeling the need to simplify lately, and use my limited free time as wisely as possible. I bet many of my planner-junkie friends here know what I mean when I say, it's hard to find ONE system that really ticks all the boxes. But it's also hard to truly give a new planner a fighting chance when you have a few other "systems" already in the works!

So I'm on a little planner "diet" while I delve into my bullet-journaling and see if I can make it work all on its own.

(Naturally I immediately broke my "keep it simple" bujo rule, and came up with the idea of a "system" of six journals instead of one. But bear with me - there is a method to my madness!)

As you see in my top picture, there are six journals, and each one is focused on two months, or one season. I keep the current season's journal with me (or close at hand) while the others reside at my desk.

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(They fit very nicely in this rack set inside a rolling cart. Isn't rose gold so pretty?)

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Top shot. Love the look of fresh notebooks!

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This handy rolling cart is situated right next to my "corner office" - a tour of which will be coming next week! (Finally getting it deep-cleaned and re-organized now that Christmas stuff is safely packed away.)

And now for a quick walk-through of my current bullet journal for "Deep Winter" (January & February).

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Front cover. As you can see, I haven't done much with the cover(s) yet - I'm still deciding if I like them kind of plain or if I'd like to "collage" them a little. I did use a set of pastel adhesive labels to color-code each seasonal journal. I chose a soft snowy blue for Deep Winter.

That soft snowy blue is followed by a light spring green, then deep blossom pink, sunny golden yellow, warm harvest orange, and finally, a crisp frosty lavender.

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(Note: I found these notebooks on Amazon. They come in a pack of two for $12. I ADORE these notebooks! They are a nice size, the paper is wonderfully smooth, the dotted grid helps me keep things neat and the whole kit-and-kaboodle is spiral-bound. Spiral-binding is a must for me when it comes to journals, so this one really hits the journaling spot for me!)

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Title page - pretty self-explanatory!

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January and February, at a quick glance. Dated calendars above, events of note below.

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❄️Exploring Deep Winter nature!

On the left, I listed our weekly seasonal themes and devoted a little space to seasonal brainstorming. I just jotted down any thoughts that came to mind when I pondered the season of Deep Winter ... what we do, what we notice, things we eat, etc.

On the right-hand page I have phenology wheels for the months of January and February, along with a temperature chart. I found the wheel templates on Pinterest. I shaded in the moon phases and every day I draw/write in the weather icon, high temp for the day as well as the sunset time.

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(A note on my pens and pencils. In all my planners I use, exclusively, Frixion Erasable Fine Point Pens in black. For the temperature shading I use Raffine Colored Pencils.)

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I find using practical tools like paper clips, binder clips and adhesive tabs and flags not only increases the efficiency of a planner but also adds some visual interest! I like using the flags and tabs in the midst of my journaling - sometimes I like to pause and create a list or plan and it's handy to have a way to find that list when I need it! The paper clip's job is described a bit further down in my post.

(Note the next spread was a bit personal, having to do with personal New Year's Goals, so I am skipping that part of the tour. What I did was to write out some personal "Year 50" goals as well as some Winter Wellness ideas and break them down into simple actions to insert into my schedule. That might be a post for another time!)

Ok, next comes the monthly calendar spreads:

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And it's as basic as it looks! I just drew in the grids and wrote in the dates, etc. I added washi tape to the edges of this calendar section so it's easy to find it when making appointments or plans. In the leftover white space I added in seasonal quotes and information ... something I have yet to do in my February spread!

(Note: I use Frixion Erasable Highlighters to color-code activities. Green - I'm going somewhere. Blue - the boys are going somewhere. Pink - happy things/self care. Yellow - home-based entertainment/projects. I also have a lavender highlighter for feasts and faith-related activities but I've lost that darn pen!)

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Another thing that helps me find sections quickly - paperclips!

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I use a large metal paperclip to connect the monthly calendar wth the current weekly spread. This makes it really easy to flip back and forth between my two most used page spreads!

And directly after the monthly calendars comes the weekly planning section. I used three pages for each spread ...

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The page on the left side is for the first half of the week. In the top corner I noted the week's dates (always a Monday start) and seasonal theme. I highlighted the month in blue highlighter, indicating it's a "wintry" month. The week-at-a-glance begins with a To-Do column - which admittedly is a little narrow - but since I'm comfortable writing tiny it's no trouble for me. 

I wrote the agenda's hours alongside the spiral binding, and left space at the bottom of each column for pertinent daily notes.

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I like that these columns allow for timely planning - it lets me see how full a day might be, and where there is "white space" for other tasks and activities.

The very next page is used as a "middle insert." I think it's kind of like a "dutch door" concept but I don't make any cuts. Instead, I keep it folded so I can see both sides of a weekly spread. I keep it flat in off weeks so as not to add to the journal's bulk.

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The folded middle page allows for four sections of notes: seasonskeeping, home lessons, homekeeping, general notes.

The right-hand side of the weekly spread is for the rest of the week, Thursday through Sunday. In the upper righthand corner I have the week's dates and month again along with the current lunar cycle. (As you know, I'm such an "Ooh, look at the moon!" kind of person.🌝)

There are nine weekly spreads in this bullet journal, the very weeks that make up the season of Deep Winter. (Next season's bullet journal, Early Spring, begins with the week of 3/4-3/10.)

At the end of the weekly planning section I have a two page spread for a reading log, then another spread for my thoughts on Winter Homekeeping and connecting with the season of Deep Winter (a time for resting, rejuvenating).

Next comes a journal index page where I will note anything pertinent at the end of the season - information I'll need again and where to find it.

And then begins the true "journal" section of my seasonal bullet journal ... :)

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I chose a pretty image from a New Year's card I received from my cousin. (I took a photocopy and taped it onto the page.) 

And the rest of the pages are just being slowly filled up with my thoughts and any clippings I like! These are just a few examples ...

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I'm not very strict with my journaling - I don't even do it every day, though I really wish I would. I start with the date and the weather icon/temp. and then I just ot down whatever comes to mind. Things we did, people who visited, observations of nature, ideas for seasonal meals, etc. I want my journal to be something that when looked back upon years from now, there is a sense of me, and my family and home ... and time of year! They're certainly not very exciting and perhaps not all that interesting, but I do love looking back at my journals. It's such a great way to preserve memories and inspire seasonal awareness.

I've kept journals like these since high school, but I've mostly kept them separate from my planners. In recent years however, I have tried keeping my journaling notes inside a three-ring binder, along with planning forms. While I like that idea very much, it's just not very portable ... and so I tend to work in that platform a little less than I'd like. I'm finding this small book is fun and easy to carry with me and work in whenever mood strikes.

Here is my current journaling spread:

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I added that pretty February note page but have yet to use it! Not sure if it will be a list of goals for the month or a catch-all of monthly folklore and storytelling ideas. The blue post-it note was for monitoring yesterday's daily to-dos. (I know ... I KNOW. I used this simple little sticky note instead of using a page in my Day Designer and I felt ... well, a little guilty! But a little relieved, too.)

The right -hand page has clippings to be added and you can see the little binder clip I use to mark my spot in my journal. Another handy-dandy tool that helps me find my place fast!

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Back cover - the end! :)

Well, I hope you enjoyed this tour of my little seasonal journals! I will revisit them in a future post and let you know how I'm doing with them. I will also post again to update you on how all my other planners are faring. But for now - as the darkness descends out my windows and the ovens come to temperature ... it is time for me to move away from the computer and get my family's supper started!

Thanks as always my friends, for stopping by ... and thanks too, for your patience, when I'm unable to blog. I will always return no matter how long my "breaks" ...

See you here again very soon!