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


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:


1. Mary Alice Phillips

2. Michelle M.

3. Van


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:







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:


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 ...

Bloom_Sharable (1)

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.


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 ...


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 ...


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 ...

“We do not have to be the loudest voice in order to be heard.”

(I like that - a lot!)

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


And that’s just a nice long list of worthy goals to weave into my 2020!
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!)


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 ...


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?


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


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 ...


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!


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 .... :-)


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



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:


I will see you here again very soon!


The Pirates and The Prius

Now that's a strange post title, isn't it? Hang on, and I'll explain. :)

This afternoon dear husband and I went to the movies, a rare and enjoyable treat for us! My mother, God bless her, offers her babysitting services whenever we need them, it's just finding the time to go! Well today we made the time, andPirates caught the matinee showing of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest.

And let me tell you, the reviews may have been iffy, but we found it to be highly entertaining! We're big fans of the first one (which we watched last night as a refresher), so we were really looking forward to this one, the second (of three) in the series. I gave it 3.5 stars out of 5, while dh says 7 out of 10. ;) You say tomato, I say tomahto ...

I will say this one is definitely darker (i.e. more gore, more violence and more adult themes) than the first one. Not one for the young'uns! (Not mine anyway.) But boy, I just loooove going to the movies - the popcorn, the previews, the 2-hours of peace, LOL!

And I do I love the swashbuckling genre ~ Pirates, Indiana Jones,Pirates_2 Lord of the Rings, The Mummy, The Princess Bride and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves come to mind. Enthralling (if not plausible) adventures and damsels in distress. (Call me old-fashioned.) But if asked - and no one's asking, but I'm telling anyway - my top five movies are hardly what you'd call action flicks ~ Emma, Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Little Women and Meet Me in St. Louis. Sense a theme? Chick flicks, some might call them; nary a swash or a buckle among them. But I can appreciate a good action-adventure, when it's fun and tastefully done. And Pirates 2, I'm happy to report, was both. :)

Now the other piece of the post puzzle is the Toyota Prius, my husband's new (well, 2 yo new!) car. Up till today I have only looked at it, and barely even sat in it ... haven't yet ridden in it, nor driven it! And he's had it a whole month! It's not that I don't like it - I do. And it's not that I'm not very happy he's realized a long-held dream to own an electric car - I am! But to be honest, I've been a bit timid about driving it.

I'm not a big car person. I like my van, I know my van - vans are what I know. I'll admit that this new vehicle parked so unassumingly in our driveway intimidated me! The whole hybrid-electric thing threw me:

"What do you mean there's no key?"

"What do you mean I push an ON button to start up?"

"What do you mean, I get 60 miles to the gallon?!!"

So today with dh by my side, giving excellent directions and quiet encouragement, I finally rode in, then drove the Prius! And I must say, it drives Priusvery nicely! Great pick-up too. Once I figured out the on/off and gear "shift" I was completely comfortable and can see myself using it for weekend errands (like he's wanted me to do). It's surprisingly quiet too - I almost ran over a pair of mourning doves in the driveway who literally didn't hear the car coming and had to be shooed away before I could pull in! And of course it's economical - it saves TONS of money on gas! And then there are all the environmental benefits to consider ... :)

So there are my reviews for the days folks! If you're in the mood for a movie, the latest Pirates film is a good bet, and if you're in the market for a car, the Prius is, to borrow a phrase from Bookworm, one sweet ride!

More from the Boys: The HOOT Review


Popcorn and lemonade are a big part of the movie experience!

Yesterday was a perfect rainy day for a movie. Nana came over to stay with Earlybird while I took the older two (10 & 6) to meet our Homeschool Book Group for the matinee showing of Hoot. We all enjoyed the movie very much, but once home, I pressed the boys for more specific details. Here are their remarks:

So how did you like the movie, boys?

Bookworm: Loved it. Five stars out of five.

Crackerjack: I say good. Ten thumbs up!

And what in particular did you like about it?

CJ: We liked everything. Just everything.

Did you have a favorite character?

CJ: The one who kept running. Whatshisname.

Mullet Fingers?

CJ: Yes, that's the guy I liked. He ran so fast!

BW: I liked Chuck Muckles.

You liked the bad guy?

BW: I liked the way his name rhymed with chuckles.

So what was your favorite part?

BW: I'd have to say the closet brawl between Roy and Dana.

The fight?! You liked the fight best?

BW: It was just so funny when the door suddenly bursts opens and there's this bright light pulling him out ... (laughter consumes him)

CJ: (Giggling) I liked that part too.

Any least favorite parts?

Both: None!

What was your favorite animal from the movie?

Both: The owls.

CJ: They were called Burrowing Owls.

Can you name some other Florida wildlife from the movie?

BW: Gator. Blue Heron.

CJ: The turtle who was on a rock and not a log. I forget the name of the big swimming thing. Wait, Bookworm do you know its name?

BW: It was a Manatee.

CJ: How do you know that?

BW: They're easy to identify. There's, like, nothing that looks similar to a Manatee. Except for a walrus, but not in Florida.

Do you think Roy did anything he shouldn't have? Could he have made better choices?

BW: Well, not from my point of view, but you should put in your own review because you have a ton of different ideas about it.

Interesting. Crackerjack, what do you think?

CJ: I want to be with Bookworm, so no.

Hmmm. What would you say was the biggest lesson in the movie?

BW: There's usually more than one way to do something ~ the easy way and the safe way.

(Mother's note to self: Come back to this point for further discussion.)

So boys, would you like to visit Florida someday?

Both: Yes!!!


Ready to go home, full of visions of owls and Florida!

Ice Age 2: The Reviews Are In!

But for educational purposes, I'm going to call them narrations ... 

Bookworm says:

"Yesterday I went to see Ice Age 2 with my friends. It was a really good movie! It was about how the ice age animals discover that their valley is basically a giant bowl about to flood, and that there's a boat at the other end of the valley which could get them out safely. The entire movie is about their escape. The old characters are all back but their personalities have changed a lot ... Diego is more scared this time, but still "worrisome" to the others in the herd. He was rather, let's just say, troublesome ... especially to Sid! Manny is much more worried about his species going extinct than ever before. Sid is now convinced that he has to do something about his respect, orIce_age  lack thereof. The new characters include two crazy and unbelievably annoying possums, and a mammoth who thinks she's a possum. I'd say there's a ton of funny parts, but not as many scary parts, in my opinion. My favorite part was one with Scrat, the crazy rat-squirrel, but I don't want to give away the ending. My least favorite part was, it was a lot more fresh than the first movie. I'd give it 4 1/2 stars."

Crackerjack says:

"I went with my friends to Ice Age 2 in the theatre. I sat next to my friend Yippie and Mama. I ate popcorn and I had lemonade, but I had to take my candy home for later. All of the characters are still in this movie but Sid is really upset that they don't think he can do some things. Diego is much more friendlier to everyone becuase he knew them more and they were sure he was part of the team. Manny was much more afraid of his species going extinct. There are two really annoying possums; one is called Crash and the other one is called Eddie ~ they're pretty funny! Ellie is another mammoth, she's a female and she thinks that she's a possum. There were two really weird creatures that look like an alligator except for some strange reason one was much bigger than the other. And one was purple and the other was green. They were pretty bad. My favorite part was at the beginning when Sid said to "Call me Squid!" But I didn't like it when they were fresh. How about I give it 3 stars?"


By the way, did you know that scientists recently discovered a species, a kind of rat-squirrel creature, that was previously thought extinct? Read about it here. My boys are convinced that Scrat (that crazed, squirrelly rat from the movie) has survived all these years!