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


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!


(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 ...


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.)


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


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


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 ...


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


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 ...


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 ...


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




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?


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 ...


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


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 ...


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 ...


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


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.


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


... 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 ...


These guys - 'nuff said.


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 ...


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.


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!

#52 Weeks: My Cookbooks & Recipes ❀


Hello and Happy Tuesday, my friends! I hope your week is going well!

Well I've been terribly lax on the progress reports, but I am still following the "52 Weeks to an Organized Home Challenge!" We just received our decluttering calendar for March and I am sooo excited about the upcoming target areas - laundry, cleaning, household routines, and ... gulp basement! All things I need to work on for sure! But first let's catch up with February's missions ...

So at the beginning of the month we were assigned "Cookbooks and Recipes," and then came "Trash/Recycling," "Coupons" and most recently, "Meal Planning" (our current week's mission). I loved the Cookbooks and Recipes challenge especially, though it did take me some time to get all the way through it. The Trash/Recycling mission I kind of skimmed over since we're pretty good in that area - didn't actually take any photos, though I can if anyone's really interested in how we do trash and recycling! :) As for coupons - currently I'm not doing them because honestly, I just wasn't using them and it was taking up a lot of time and creating a lot of clutter! That's not to say I don't use a few store-produced coupons on occasion - most notably, the craft stores, the supermarket and Bob's clothing store (for the boys). Those I just keep clipped to my errands notebook and that's worked out well. I will say I would like to revisit the "Price Book" challenge because I think that's a good thing to have in one's meal planning/money-saving arsenal ...

But for today, let me share what I did to declutter and organize my cookbook collection and horde of amassed recipes ...


Cookbooks were easy enough - I tackled them not too long ago, back when I ran a blog series called, "Kitchen Chat." But as you can see, I have added many more cookbooks to my shelf than I had in that earlier post! (Many were still packed in moving boxes until recently.) This might look like a lot of cookbooks to you, or maybe not that many, but all of these are valuable to me and if nothing else, I like the way they look in my kitchen. :)

DSC02226 (1)

Now, my recipes on the other hand ...


Well, they hadn't been addressed in some time ...

I had basically been setting aside recipes to try, as well as recipes tried and liked, AND recipe cards from friends and family, together in a bin. Or bins, I should say - there were more than just this one to begin with! And at one point I had some things in file folders but that system had pretty much fallen apart ...

Well, I took ALL those loose things and went through the whole big pile of them! This took several days because it was a rather time-consuming activity - though quite a pleasurable one! I found so many things I thought I'd lost or had forgotten! So for a week or so, in the late afternoons, I'd make a cup of tea, sit in the family room with the boys and just sort through all these clippings one by one. I purged a lot of things - found a lot of things I'd been missing! - and kept a pile of things to organize by type.

While I was doing this I also went through my rather large collection of "foodie" magazines, whittling it down to what I truly wanted to keep on hand. First and most importantly was my Everyday Food mags ...

Everyday food mags

Everyday Food - published by Martha Stewart but sadly, no longer in print - is hands-down my favorite food magazine. I have every single issue! This was a small-sized monthly publication filled with wonderful, useful, and family-friendly recipes. And best of all, lots of seasonal flavor. (Eg. rhubarb in May, tomatoes in August and squash in the fall.) I store the bulk of my EF collection in the library along with my main magazine "stash" but I've brought the current and upcoming months out to the kitchen to keep in a small basket situated between my cookbooks and recipe binders (more on those down below).


My other favorite foodie magazine (which is also, unfortunately, out of print) was King Arthur Flour's The Baking Sheet ...


I don't have every issue, but I do have a lot! At first they were published in a rather small size (seen above on the left) but eventually they changed it to a larger format as seen in the photo below ...


The Baking Sheet is filled with baked good recipes, obviously, and the recipes range from easy to more advanced - but what I loved most was their wonderful seasonal flavor and the many traditional New England recipes they shared. I was so disappointed when KAF stopped publishing The Baking Sheet ... I haven't quite warmed up to their newer publication, Sift. Sift is quite lovely - and large - but awfully expensive.

Anyhoo ... I keep a great deal of my TBS issues in a handy binder (a gift from my folks) and the whole collection has also found a home on my cookbook shelf. I guess that tells you how important Everyday Food and The Baking Sheet are to me! :)


But let's get back to recipes - and that overstuffed bin! I took that pile of clippings - still hefty but now, purged ...


... and set about separating it out into recipe types ...




Once I had them all sorted, I stacked them back in a pile (separated by sticky notes - you can see this pile in the very top photo) and dashed off to Staples for some binders ...


I went in thinking, "plain white binders" and came out with these beauties!


I have such a fondness for a bright, feminine floral set against a dark background - just like this one! (I'd love a Vera bag in this pattern!) I also liked how this floral picked up my soft green cabinets and black appliances. :) These binders are part of the Cynthia Rowley collection at Staples and have very smooth-working D-rings. (D-rings are so much better than regular round rings!) I also bought a few coordinating binder pockets, tabbed dividers and sheet protectors.

Now, this is where things stalled for a while as I decided how to set up the binders! But then eventually - aka this morning - I got down to organizing the three binders. I had all the clippings separated by recipe type in this way:

main dishes - beef, poultry, pork, seafood, vegetarian

side dishes - vegetable, other

vegetables, general


baked goods





ice cream/sorbet


pickles & preserves

food gifts

holiday spreads (entire articles focusing on a particular holiday)

non-food recipes (eg. cleaning products, natural egg dye and play dough, etc.)

sentimental (family and/or handwritten recipes)

general food information/meal planning


I used a purple pen for the tabs - not just because it matched the floral binders, because it reminds me of my late grandmother. πŸ’œ  Purple was "her" color and my mum often uses a purple pen, especially when we're writing out holiday meal plans. It just felt special to me. :)


I found it handy to use small sticky notes to move the categories around as I decided which binder would hold which tabs.


Then I started filing those pages into sheet protectors and adding them to the appropriate binders!


Naturally, I had help ... :)


Oh, forgot to show you the binder pocket!

Cookbooks binder pocket

Each binder has one of these - to hold recipe cards and small or oddly-shaped recipes like the punch booklet shown above.

At last the binders were ready to go up on that shelf ...


I used a beige "vintage-look" sticker to dress up the binder labels ...



Now I have another area of recipe storage to tackle, and that I will save for a separate post because it's a rather complicated affair ...


If you've read any of my posts on journaling then you know I have a habit of storing pretty/interesting/timely/seasonal recipes in my domestic journal. I know many journal-folk who set up an "index of information" to use when they want to find something in particular from a random journal page. My indexing has been fairly hit or miss over the years so I am currently embarking on a quest - yes it's that epic, lol! - to comb back through ALL my journals and create a master index of information and observations. Well, I'll begin with recipes anyway ... :) 


My current journal shown above and a few older ones shown below ...


DSC02228 (1)



So more recipe talk to come ... though it will be a bit before I get through all the journals. I think I'll try to comb through them a seasons' worth at a time and then do separate posts - like say, "Early Spring Journals" and then "Late Spring Journals" and so on. Otherwise that would be one monster of a post!

And speaking of monster-like posts, I'd best wrap this one up! I do hope you've enjoyed this progress report and would love to hear about how you organize your cookbooks and recipes. Also, if you have any questions, please let me know - I will try to get back to you as soon as possible. Drop me a note in the comments box below if you have time ...

For now I wish you all a nice afternoon and a pleasant night ahead ... hope to see you here again soon! :)

A Tour of My New(ish) Desk!


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

Back to that corner for a moment, though! 


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


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

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


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

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


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

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

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


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

New notebooks

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

Ok, back to the desk ...


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

So on that table ...


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


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

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


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

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


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

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



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

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


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

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


... although that couch is very tempting!

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




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

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


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



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

Last shot ... office motto:



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

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

Friday Bits and Bobs ~ Domestic Bliss

Tea puttering st. patrick's day

Good morning, my friends and Happy Friday! I hope your week is going well. We're still slogging through a cold (flu?) virus of some sort here. Thankfully, Little Bear is MUCH better and aside from a bit of a runny nose and occasional cough, seems fine. My mum is also feeling better, thank God. Earlybird, however, has started coughing ... and I have come down with it as well. Ugh. Its been a while since I've been sick but last night's fever was a real doozy! Very kindly Bill has told me to stay in bed today and he's working from home. So here I am. In bed, surrounded by tissues and cough drops and cats and my giant mug of tea. :)

Anyhoo, enough of that - I am here to share a few photos, just some little moments from yesterday. As you can see I'm having fun with text bubbles again! (Click on the image if you can't read the text!) Above is a glimpse of my workspace on the kitchen counter. I'm really trying to pare down what I have out at any one time, not that you could tell that from the picture! In an upcoming post I'd like to talk more about our home keeping binders and why I have the daybook back on my counter in place of my homemade planner ...


Tea roses with blurb

I love hanging herbs and flowers in my kitchen window, and I absolutely adore these tiny yellow tea roses, leftover from my cousin's baby shower. I thought I'd try drying them and using the petals in a homemade potpourri - perhaps blended with lavender and chamomile or other herbs from the garden. In the meantime, I think they look very pretty hanging over my kitchen sink!


Archie sampling tea with blurb

Now that the weather is warming up, I love sitting in the sunroom every chance I get. Here I was working out an Easter menu ... must check in with Mum to get her thoughts ... but meanwhile, Archie helped himself to my tea. The silly thing.


Tablecloth with blurb

A new tablecloth for the aforementioned sunroom. Aren't these colors gorgeous? :)


Tea break with blurb

Rest assured, this picture was taken before the Archie shot! This is an old mug from my grandparents' house and it seemed rather fitting for St. Patrick's Day. :)


Victorias on bureau with blurb

And here we have a whole bunch of April issues of Victoria magazine - dating back to the 90s! I set them on my bureau for inspiration, hoping to find some time to page through them ... I may get my wish later today. :)


Well my friends, I hope you enjoyed these snippets of my day ... it was a rather quiet day spent at home, nursing Little Bear's cold, enjoying the sunlight and open windows. Spring feels so close ... and yet, New England is expecting a snowstorm late Sunday (the Vernal Equinox, of all days!). Fingers crossed we don't get too much and that the mild weather coming next week takes care of any white stuff lickety-split! I'm hoping for nice weather, Easter Sunday ...

Thanks so much for stopping by, everyone, and I wish you all a wonderful weekend!

See you here again every soon ...

Winter Weekend: Warmth & Wonder

Winter weekend 1

Happy Weekend, everyone!

Now, you may have heard about the gigantic blizzard that is hitting certain parts of our country - parts that aren't used to this kind of thing! I do hope everyone who is in the storm's path is staying safe and warm. We're only getting a couple of inches overnight here in New England, though the winds will be high. Remember, stay home and "weather the weather" as best you can! It's the safest way ... and enjoy all that snow! :)

So I'm just popping in quickly this morning to share a few photos and say "hi." Above you see my cheerful mug which is holding a gallon or so of hot tea - sitting on top of two things that came in the mail yesterday which made me so very happy: my Isabella catalog and Green Parent magazine. I have a lot on my "to-do" list this weekend, but I will be making time for perusing these two publications at some point! (Over a giant cup of tea, of course.)

And how about a slice of this, too ... ?

Winter weekend 8

Dark and spicy gingerbread - a result of our Friday baking. A Trader Joes mix, easy-peasy to make with the kids, and it made the house smell amazing! (Even better with a dollop of freshly whipped cream ...)

Winter weekend  4

And this sweet little book is one of Little Bear's favorites right now. We pulled it from our Winter Book Basket and have been reading it over and over through the week ... as you can see below, we have a lot of animal tracks in our yard at the moment!

Winter weekend 3

Winter weekend 9

Winter weekend 10

Before the snow hits this afternoon, I plan to take the boys out so we can figure out just WHO ALL has been traipsing through our yard! I have lots of books on my nature shelf for doing just that - filled with great illustrations of the various prints. And while we're out there, we'll refill all the bird feeders so our feathered and furred friends will be well fed through the storm. If they don't have to search so hard for sustenance, they can conserve a little of their precious energy!

Winter weekend 7 (1)

Also on my weekend agenda - if I can eke out a little spare time - is to work in my big seasonal planning binder. I aim to finish up the Deep Winter section (cover page shown above), so I can turn my eager thoughts to Early Spring. Why am I doing this now? Well, it is the second to last weekend of the month and that is when I do a little forward planning: calendar updating (in this case, February) as well as seasonal planning (in this case, early spring). One of those planning "tasks" that really need a spot in the schedule to call their own ... otherwise they never "fit" in!

Winter weekend 6

And finally, another peek into a favorite vintage book of mine, Round the Year with Enid Blyton ... this one was a gift from my dear friend, Kimberly ... and I just treasure it. Especially as I plan out nature activities for the upcoming seasons. This is a page from the Winter section, all about "Foot-Writing in the Snow." How lovely!


Well my friends, I will be off now, but I hope you are all doing well and that your weekend will be a good one for you - with some rest and refreshment perhaps, and a little "recharge" of the batteries. What's on your plate this weekend? Are you in the path of some "weather"? Are you hunkering down or heading out? If you have a moment, please leave me a comment and let me know how you are doing ... I would love to hear from you!

But for now, I will leave you all with my fondest farewell and a hope to see you here again sometime soon!

A Glimpse of Autumn ...

Hello my friends, and welcome! I hope your week's going well. :) I have a few fun things to share with you all this fine Thursday morning ...

Pre-autumn 1

I spied my first glimpse of Autumn yesterday as I paged through the newest PaperSource catalog ... I LOVE "seeing" fall on the pages of my magazines and catalogs, even if I'm not quite ready for Summer to end. It makes me happy and eager to plan the next season!

Speaking of planning ...

Pre-autumn 2

With the school reports out of the way, I've started working on my lesson planner for the academic year ahead. It's a rather humble and homespun affair (using stuff I had on hand), but I'm hoping it will serve me well. I will share it here with you all soon.

Pre-autumn 3

And here's one of those very fine, early Autumn issues! My Victoria never disappoints, but I especially love its annual British issue. β€

Pre-autumn 4

And finally, I had to snap a picture of this spot in my bedroom because it just looks so pretty and cozy. I'm in love with my "new" quilt and shams - and I must say Thanks to my Mum for her generous donation! This lovely set was in her guest bedroom until I "borrowed" it and couldn't seem to give it back. ;) And I love that the window is open - because the air is so fresh and cool this morning - and there's a bit of reading stacked on the night-side table. (There's even more in the basket sitting on top of the hope chest at the foot of the bed.) And I had to turn on the light because it was just a bit too dark for a good picture without it. I liked that, too ... that tells me the daylight is changing as we move closer to fall ... :)


Well, my friends - I must be off for now, but thanks so much for stopping by. Blessings on your day and see you here again very soon!

A Wintry Weekend ...

Happy Sunday, my friends!

Frosted window

Well, we're in the early stages of another monster snowstorm in New England ... and boy, do I feel like I've said that before. ;) It started snowing here yesterday as I was running some errands and it will snow continuously today ... tonight ... and tomorrow ... and tomorrow night! Leaving us with about two feet of snow when all is said and done Tuesday morning ...

Yes, you read that right: we're getting TWO FEET of snow. Which will be added to the TWO FEET of snow we already have on the ground!


(I do love ALL the seasons so much - they all have their charms, after all - I just wish Winter might stop being quite so "charming" for a bit, lol.)

So I just have a few photos to share today, but I mostly just wanted to stop in and say hi. Thank you again for all your wonderful comments, suggestions and encouragement ... I am working on my next Q&A post and hope to have it up soon!

In the meantime ...

Around the year book

I was working on my Lenten plans last evening ... with some tea, natch, in the relative quiet of the dining room. Are you familiar with the above treasure of a book? I'm so happy our new library system has it "in stock!" Just picked it up yesterday and have already dug in. This might be my third or fourth reading, but it's been a couple of years. I think I can renew it enough to last me through Lent!

ME calendar page

 From my ME page-a-day calendar ... is this not so very true? β€οΈ

O project 38 2

Thinks my bundled-up Little Bear: "It's snowing again?"

Archie in his corner

Thinks my cozied-up kitty: "Wake me when it's Spring."

Wintery weekend

And here's my own cozy spot this morning, as I sit by the kitchen window, watching the birds in a frenzy at the feeders. (Rest assured, there are breakfast dishes behind me but I'm not thinking about them at the moment ... ) I have a couple of lovely British mags that hint at the promise of spring ... my sweet squirrel mug with a new tea to try ... and my new African violet sitting in the safety of a glass cloche. The violet is February's flower. :)

Snowy driveway

Well, my friends ~ from my house to yours, I'm wishing you all a wonderful Sunday. What's the weather like where you live today? Drop me a note if you have the time ... 

Thanks so much for stopping by ... see you here again very soon!

More Q & A: Magazines!

Happy Weekend, my friends ...

Magazines 1

Several posts back there was some conversation about magazines and folks wondering what I read and if we might talk a bit about magazines in general ...

And of course, I'd love to! But let me start with some questions for you, all:

1. Firstly, what magazines do you read? What are your regulars - those not to be missed? And what magazines do you splurge on when you have a little extra pin money to spend on yourself? 

2. Do you subscribe or pick them up at the newsstand/supermarket?

3. How do you organize your magazines - where do you keep them, where do you read them and when finished, do you store or recycle them?


I have loved magazines since I was a kid. There was Teen and Young Miss (and occasionally, ahem, Tiger Beat) and then the "creme de la creme" ... Seventeen. Oh, how I loved that one especially. Back in the 80s they still ran domestic features about holiday parties, craft projects and recipes. And the back-to-school issue was THE best of the year. It was my favorite thing to read ... and I wasn't 17 until 1988, mind you, but my mother allowed it because back then teen magazines were more innocent than they are nowadays. (Or so I suspect ...) I started reading my mother's magazines, too ... I was reading Better Homes & Gardens and (our favorite) Country Living in high school and dreaming of the day I'd run my own home.

Fast-forward a whole lot of years and I still adore magazines. I love the pictures, the articles, and even the ads - as long as they're not perfumed! I have many "favorites" that I read each month, and I keep them in a neat pile (in a certain order, of course) and read through them one at a time. I keep a magazine at my workspace and flip through as I can through the day - clipping items of interest as I go. (The things I clip I add to my domestic journal as we've discussed  - or save in a file for future use.) If there's an article I want to read fully, I set it aside for when I have more time.

Here is my list of current mags - I'd love to hear about yours! 

  • Victoria
  • Martha Stewart Living
  • Real Simple
  • British Country Living
  • (American) Country Living
  • Yankee
  • Everyday with Rachel Ray
  • The Food Network Magazine
  • Woman's Day
  • Family Circle
  • Better Homes & Gardens
  • Taste of Home
  • Parents
  • Family Fun
  • Mary Jane's Farm
  • LandLove and Landscape (on occasion)
  • Babybug :)

Magazines I miss: Everyday Food, The Baking Sheet, Country Home, Mary Engelbreit's Home Companion, Faith & Family, Living Crafts, MS Kids

I try to subscribe when I can because it's much more economical and convenient. A few of the British magazines I like (including the occasional Jamie) I can order though this website. They're excellent - reasonable and quick! Sometimes, if I have a gift card or if it's "Educator Appreciation Week," I might pop into Barnes & Noble and indulge in a few magazines I don't usually buy ... Green Parent (UK), Mollie Makes, Artful Blogging, Organic Gardening, Romantic Home, Where Women Work/Cook ...

I keep them in the library - it had been on an end table but they've since been moved to the edge of my writing desk now that Little Bear's reach has expanded. I have other things I add to the top of my pile - the local weekly paper, a few Sunday Globe inserts, People (shared with my mum) and Entertainment Weekly (shared with Bookworm) as well as Time (shared with Bill and the boys) and my parish bulletin. The Boston Parents Paper (a freebie I pick up at the market), my WGBH Program Guide (PBS shows), and any new catalogs go here too. I do also receive Vanity Fair and Town & Country, but I don't care much for them - I got them as freebies when I subscribed to something else.

Oh! And one magazine I never clip is Martha Stewart Living - I have every issue going back to her first publication!


Well, I'm sure there is more I could say about magazines, but I'll leave it here for now. This was probably more than you ever needed to know about my magazine habit, lol! Anyhoo, if you'd like to join the conversation, please leave a comment below. :)

Speaking of conversation, there's some great stuff happening in the comments box from my last post. I just LOVE that so many of my dear readers are happy to jump in and share their own styles and suggestions. I wish I could make the sharing part easier, but I don't know that Typepad has a different format for comments. But please, check that thread out if you have a chance ... we're gearing up for a big post on household routines.


Well, my friends - I must be off, as my (younger) boys will be rising soon. It's quite early here and still dark outside my windows ... the wind's been howling and I can see it's lightly snowing ... time for another cup of coffee in my sweet squirrel mug!

Squirrel mug 1


See you here again very soon ...

Bits-n-Bobs: Blessings

Counting my blessings tonight ... thought I'd share a few happy things with you all!

It was rainy here this morning, quite dismal and gray ... but roundabouts noontime, the skies cleared and all that autumn sunshine poured forth ...

Autumn sunshine yard

Looks even prettier glinting off that rain-soaked foliage!


(As we took these photos, Earlybird and I, we heard off in the distance, of all things, a train whistle. Well, as some of you know, EB is a HUGE train buff so he first went absolutely still - then his wide eyes swung to mine and we both exclaimed, "A TRAIN!" We have no idea where the nearest tracks are, but they're near enough we could hear that whistle! So very exciting.)



Had a lovely visit today with Nana (my mum) and two special aunties. We shared cups of tea and recipes, sitting by the sunny kitchen window. Visits with dear friends and family do so much to refill the tank, do they not?


Uncle Matt (my brother) sent along some delicious "pumpkin toaster pastries" - which will make a perfect Halloween breakfast tomorrow morning!

Pumpkin toaster pastries


And a lovely surprise! A houswarming gift from a dear friend ...

Hearth 1

(A peek at our family room hearth, as well!)

Blessings plaque

Blessings, indeed!


And some yummy magazines arrived in the mail today ...

Yankee + magazines

That's the Yankee with the Susan Branch article I mentioned a few days ago ... cannot wait to sit down with a cup of tea and dig in!


And finally, nothing quite so beautiful as a sleeping baby ...

Sleeping baby

(And nothing quite so crazy as the mother who wakes said baby when she snaps that must-have picture!)


Have yourselves a lovely evening, my friends ... see you tomorrow on All Hallow's Eve!

Weekend Journal ~ Fall, Food & Furniture

Hello, my friends, and Happy Sunday!

First let me say I'm sorry my posting has been slow lately - to be perfectly honest, I've been pretty slow myself! Little Bear has been waking every two hours at night for the past couple of weeks and frankly, I'm exhausted! Lol.

Anyhoo, I have a few minutes to pop in to say hello and share a few things with you all.


First of all, how is the weather where you are? It's been quite nice here in New England - very autumnal with brisk air and bright skies. I'd say the foliage is just past peak now ... the wind has been littering the streets and yards with droves of crisp, crinkled leaves. All the subdued color, bared bark and dark chilly afternoons make me think of Thanksgiving ...

*3 quick links*

A lovely article at Susan Branch's blog about a "behind the scenes" article in the upcoming Yankee magazine. Lots of pictures to drool over - her home on Martha's Vineyard is so cozy, all decked out for the holidays.

Another web article, this one about grocery savings. I know I'm preaching to the choir here, but I find it helpful to remind myself on these points from time to time. How are you all doing with your meal planning and marketing these days?

And for my last link ~ how about some Spiced Ghost Pancakes on Halloween morning? 

And finally, remember my beloved red furniture from the old house?

Cozy corners 2

Well, we finally sold that dear old house this past week so that meant we could move up the final bits of furniture we'd left behind ("for ambiance"). Feels so good to have my Mama's chair back! We've arranged the set in the living room, a room that's slowly becoming "my room" as it's filled with my desk and reading materials ...

Cozy corners 3

(Yes, I went a little nuts with the subscribing when we moved!)

Well my friends, that's all I have time for right now ... please know I'll be here just as much as I can. I'm always thinking about posts and things I want to say (new ideas or answers to comments) but those free moments are not as plentiful as they once were!

Enjoy your evening, everyone ... I'll see you here again very soon!


Friday Bits-n-Bobs

So yesterday may have been a day for apples but I made use of another autumnal orchard fruit instead ~  a couple of pounds of ripe and juicy Bartlett pears! I baked two dozen pear muffins with the pearsauce I'd made earlier in the week.

Pear muffins 1

And oh my goodness! I had one (maybe three) of these in the afternoon, with a cup of decaffeinated English Teatime, while sitting by an open window soaking in the fresh air and warm autumn sunshine ... just glorious!

(I've also got apples aplenty to use up - a whole bunch of Macs we bought at a favorite farm a couple of weeks ago ... I'll make them into a cobbler for Bookworm who'll be home from college this weekend.)

* And for supper last night I made a pan of ziti and a pan of baked chicken using up some spinach dip and whole grain bread crumbs ... along with a pan of roasted "early autumn" vegetables: squash, sweet peppers, onions, carrots, potatoes ...

  Potatoes 1

Now, a quick disclaimer - I don't want anyone to think I'm cooking like this every day. Hardly. I'm still trying to get into some routines here with a new(ish) baby and a new(ish) home. I'm just so tickled I did all that cooking yesterday I wanted to share it!

* Speaking of baking though, I must rave again about the King Arthur Flour Baking Sheet. If you enjoy baking - particularly seasonal baking - this newsletter is a must. Well, apparently I forgot to change my address when we moved so when I realized I missed the Autumn issue, I called to remedy the error ... and two days later I had my new copy! Wonderful customer service from KAF.

* Now, on Wednesday you know how I told you all about the little mouse we found (or rather the cats found) in our dining room? Well yesterday morning we had another interesting nature sighting ... this gorgeous Barred Owl!

Owl 3

I was upstairs in the bedroom with Little Bear when I first spotted the owl in the trees near the edge of our property. I promptly got myself outside (and the baby in a bouncy seat where Crackerjack could watch him) and took a few snaps. The owl immediately zeroed in on me so I only had the chance to take a couple of passable shots. He then turned his back on me ...

Owl 2

And just flew off into the woods. What a wingspan! He was enormous.

* Oh, and the Michaelmas daisies! Have you seen any where you live? Around here they are abundant along the roadsides. Apt timing of course, seeing as how Sunday is Michaelmas Day ...

Michaelmas daisies 1

Love that pale purple, so pretty against the goldenrod which is also all over the place. One thing I love about this time of year is how we have fall foliage starting - there are hints of red and gold in the treescape - but we still have the bright beauty of September's last roses and dahlias and hydrangeas and such. The best of both worlds ... nature's last lively dance!


Well that's all that's new from me today ... thanks so much for joining me this week as I ease my way back into regular blogging ... have yourselves a GREAT weekend, and I will see you all again sometime soon!


Organizing the Nest Survey, Part 9 ~ Reading Materials


Just a couple more posts and our survey will be done!

(Though feel free to leave me suggestions for further survey subjects - we could always continue after the giveaway has wrapped.)

Ok, so! Today's survey focuses on reading materials: personal reading, library loans, kids' books, school books, blogs & websites, newspapers, magazines, etc.


1. What kinds of materials do you read regularly, and how do you read them - on paper or electronically? Via purchase or loan?

2. How do you organize/store your personal reading *and* how do you make time for personal reading?

3. How do you organize/store your kids' books *and* how do you encourage reading in your home?

4. What are you reading today? :)


Now I absolutely love to read, but the truth is, I don't read nearly as much as I'd like to. I spend a lot of my reading time on newspapers, magazines and kids' books, and though I use the library faithfully, I often return items before making use of them. One of my favorite spots in our home is my "mama chair" in the learning room beside which sits my "beloved" reading basket. In this basket I store all my current reading materials - magazines, newspapers, catalogs, and usually one select novel. (Currently I'm reading Inkheart for Crackerjack's book group.)

I'd love to hear about your reading habits so please leave a comment if you have time. :) 

And if you'd like to revisit previous survey comments (to read through or add your own), please click on the following links:

1. to-do lists (daily and someday)

2. family food

3. calendars

4. file folders and paper management

5. family finances

6. homeschooling

7. seasonal planning

8. arts, crafts & hobbies

(Remember - each time you comment your name is entered in the contest!)


Well my friends, thanks so much for stopping by today and have yourselves a good one! A snowy morning here in New England ... a great day for curling up with a cup of tea ... and a good book!


 "The love of learning, the sequestered nooks, and all the sweet serenity of books."


Friday Photos & Feast Day Food

On St. Andrew's Day ...

Saint andrew 10

We made a big batch of Scottish shortbread. :)

{Earlybird loved helping - and truth be told, his batch came out best!}

Saint andrew 2

I savored my absolutely favorite British mag - which just arrived today - along with a sweet little board book I ordered for our wee one.

Saint andrew 3

I set up more indoor Christmas lighting, including window candles ...

Window candles

And a new garland along the mantel, but little did I know these tiny "cystal" stars not only change colors - but blink! And quite rapidly!

Crazy star lights

This picture does not capture the frenzy at all, but oh my ... they're a bit "carnval" for me, lol, but the boys love them - they said they remind them of Disney. :)

Saint andrew 13

And in honor of St. Andrew, patron saint of Scotland, I had my afternoon cocoa in my grandmother's "Highland Queen" teacup. The shortbread is not a family recipe, but rather, one I found here. Shortbread is my favorite kind of cookie - buttery and a bit plain but oh-so-gooood.

Well, my friends ~ Happy Friday! I hope you all have a lovely weekend. Take care of yourselves and your loved ones, and I'll see you here again very soon!


Thoughtful Thursday ~ on Summer's Bounty

KG picking peaches 1

"If produce had a holiday, it would be August. All of August. There's just no better time to eat melons, corn, tomatoes, zucchini, peaches, and every other fruit and veggie you can pluck from your garden or pick up at a farmer's market ... Enjoy!"

(From Better Homes & Gardens, August 2012)


I was flipping through my BH&G, waiting for the oven timer to ring, when I came across this quote and I thought it quite lovely ... and so true! I was just thinking about our neighborhood farm stand and what might be fresh there this weekend ... I'm itching to make zucchini bread, and perhaps some peach butter.

How do you take advantage of the bountiful produce at this time of year? Do you preserve it in some way or simply enjoy it fresh while you can? Perhaps you do a little of both?

I haven't done much preserving myself, though some years I put up several jars of my grandmother's picalilli. That's a Labor Day family tradition I would very much like to honor this year! 


Anyhoo, while I'm here, two more things to share - a link and a recipe ...

From Simple Pleasures of the Garden by Susannah Seton, a recipe just perfect for this time of year:

Vegetable Gratin

2 1/2 tbsp. butter

2 tbsp. olive oil

1 medium onion

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1 medium-size green bell pepper, diced

8 smallish summer squashes (such as crookneck, pattypan, ronde de Nice, or zucchini), about 2 lbs. total, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

kernels from 2 ears of corn

Salt and pepper to taste

1/4 cup flour

1/2 cup cornmeal

4 tbsp. fresh basil or thyme, or a combination of both

2 eggs, beaten

1 cup lowfat milk

3 tbsp. freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a shallow gratin dish or other baking dish with 1/2 tbsp. of the butter. Place 1 tbsp. butter and the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, and green pepper; saute over medium-high heat for 5 minutes.

Add the squash, corn, and salt and pepper; saute another 4 to 5 minutes, until the squash is nearly tender. Remove from heat and set aside.

Mix together the flour, cornmeal, basil and/or thyme. Stir in the eggs, milk and vegetables.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared dish and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a crust has formed and a knife inserted into the center comes out nearly clean. Dot with the remaining 1 tbsp. butter, sprinkle the cheese on top, and bake for 7 to 10 minutes longer, until the crust has browned slightly and the edges are bubbling and crispy. Serve hot or at room temperature. 

Serves 6.


Doesn't that sound delicious?!

I will certainly be making this sometime very soon ... I will pick the basil and thyme from my deck and I'll get the rest of the produce at the farmstand down the street. And I'll see what I can find for local milk, eggs, butter and cheese ... I can't wait to try it!


Also, here's a follow up to the local-food challenge article I posted about earlier this month:

"Shop-Local Challenge Trickier than I Thought"

{I'm really enjoying reading about her journey!}

Well, my friends, thanks for checking in and leaving your thoughts if you have a chance ... I hope you all have a pleasant night! 

See you here again very soon!

Another {Little} Giveaway!

I know, I know ... I'm a bit crazy with the giveaways lately! Well, this time I have the brand new issue of British Country Living to offer ...


I recently subscribed and my first issue arrived the other day - only, I'd already purchased it! So I have an extra copy, and I thought I'd pass it on to one of my readers. I know there are a lot of Anglophiles out there like me!

So, my question for you today is this:

How do you feel about this time of year? Are you sad to see summer end or are you feeling ready for fall?


Please leave your answer in the comments box below, and you'll be entered into the giveaway. :)

These next couple of days will be very busy as we host the first of two parties for Crackerjack's birthday, so I may not be online much. But I'll leave this post up and announce a winner first thing Monday morning ...

I look forward to hearing from you, but either way, I wish you all a very happy weekend! 


See you here again very soon ...

Sunday ☼ Snippets

I hope you're all having a nice weekend ~ thought I'd pop in to say, "hi."

Monarch comic strip

Do you read the funnies? My boys read them daily, and they often point out ones they find particularly amusing. Well, I added the above comic strip to my journal today ... I just thought it was so cute and seasonal to boot!


And here's some magazine bounty ...

Orange-green magazines

Do you ever notice that magazines tend to coordinate their covers each month? For instance, as seen above, the September crop of magazines are adorned mostly in shades of orange and green. I've noticed this trend over the years and wondered if it's just coincidence, or if there's some marketing genius at work here ... perhaps people buy more magazines if they all seem to match?

(I took a closer look at the parent publishers, and as it turns out, most of these are published by Meredith Corp. and a couple by Hearst. So maybe it's not such a coincidence after all ... but clearly, in my case, the "strategy" works.)


Here's our new bumper sticker:

Bumper sticker

Purchased at our local, much-loved, farm stand.


And finally ... 

Tracks on floor

I just had to snap a picture of these train tracks. I've been "building train tracks" upon request for many, many years now. Sometimes on the floor, sometimes on the couch, sometimes on the deck. I'm pretty sure I could do it in my sleep. I bet some of you can dress Barbies blindfolded while others can build Legos with one hand tied behind your back - well, my forteΒ΄ seems to be railroads ...

I'm kinda proud of that. :)


So, that's all for now, but I thank you so much for stopping by ... enjoy the rest of your Sunday, my friends ... and I'll see you here again very soon!


Tonight for Supper ...

Rhubarb-apple crisp

Well, dessert, really ...

I had a pound or so of locally-grown rhubarb sitting in the fridge, and three golden delicious apples sitting on the counter, just starting to go soft. Conventional wisdom suggested I do something about this situation, and so ...

This is a rhubarb-apple crisp, a recipe from The Baking Sheet, a newsletter published by the King Arthur Flour company. The Baking Sheet is one of my favorite resources for recipes, and I've been collecting it for years. What I love especially about this newsletter, is how seasonal it is ... the folks at KAF really know how to use up what's fresh and make it festive. And homespun ... there are lots of old-fashioned, ethnic recipes in here, too. Their catchphrase: For readers who bake, and bakers who read. 

That's me on both counts. :)

Anyhoo ... it was easy to throw this together and the house smelled absolutely fantastic as it cooked. Bookworm, walking in the door, declared, "It smells like Christmas in here!" Must have been the cinnamon and nutmeg ... and the brown sugar and the apples and butter ... ETC.!

So a light springy supper - shredded chicken-caesar salad wraps - followed by a decidedly autumnal dessert. Everyone's happy, and everyone's well fed. I can't ask for more than that!

Have a great night my friends ...

I'll see you here again sometime tomorrow!


Cleaning Up the "Mom" Corner

Fridays are the day I clean the learning/sitting room, and today I decided to spend a little extra time on my "mom" corner. It is, after all, Mother's Day weekend, and it is my sincere hope I'll be spending most of it parked right here ...


MD corner 10

So, I pulled the chair out and swept in back there (found Earlybird's long-lost Percy train) and then took apart the book shelves, which had become quite disorganized and dusty.

As you can see, I had the usual help:

MD corner 9

On the top shelf I keep my collection of Everyday Food magazines, my favorite food magazine of all. (I have every issue!) I'm going to look through them this weekend for meal plan inspiration.

MD corner 2

Next shelf down, I have yummy books I own or borrowed, and a few DVD collections, too.

MD corner 3

Just a few momentos on this shelf ...

MD corner 4

On display I have one of my favorite pictures of the boys, my reading glasses, cheerful little knicknacks and my Mary Engelbreit page-a-day calendar.

And then there's the shelf where I keep magazines to look through, and my clippings journal:

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I keep a pair of small folding tables beside my chair when I'm "working" in this spot. The table on the right holds my laptop, and the table to my left holds whatever it is I'm working on at the moment. 

Here I have a planning binder with next week's file folder on top.

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And I have to show you the cleaning checklist I stapled to the inside folder cover:

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This was an idea I gleaned from a kind reader, Suusi. (I loved reading how she utilizes her weekly file folders - her thoughts can be found in this comment thread.) I'm not sure I'll end up using this checklist (I already have those daily chore cards and now my online diary) but I thought I'd give it a try. I basically just took the whole weekly chore list (divided by days) and printed it out on one sheet of paper. Then I stapled it to the inside front cover (the weekly planning sheet is on the opposite side). I envision checking things off as I work through the week ... but we shall see how it goes!

And finally, here is my reading basket. I've let a lot of things pile up recently. :)

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I'm really looking forward to poring over all these magazines, catalogs, newspapers, etc. and working in my clippings journal a little. Puttering like this is a little slice of heaven for me.

Aside from all this reading, my Mother's Day weekend will also include an early soccer game, a trip to the nursery, and breakfast with my family after Mass. It will all wind down with a Sunday supper I have not prepared, and then my two favorite shows of the week: Once Upon a Time (season finale!) and Masterpiece Theater. (Can't wait to see what Sherlock gets up to this week!)


Well, my friends, I'm going to wrap up now, as my kitchen timer is ringing it's third alarm, reminding me I need to start supper early as it is the boys' practice night. So I'll be off ... but I thank you for stopping by ... and I hope you all have a lovely weekend!

(And if you're curious what I'm serving for supper tonight, pop over to my housekeeping blog. I'll be posting today's entry in just a few moments.)


See you all again very soon!

Some Happy Weekend Things

Hello, everyone ~ I hope you're all having a nice weekend! We're enjoying beautiful spring weather here in New England. It's bright and brisk and feels just like spring should. So I have some photos and thoughts to share with you ... just a few simple, happy things.


First of all, I stopped at my favorite paper-craft supply store yesterday:


And they kindly allowed me to take pictures. Doesn't it look yummy?


When I visit this shop, I always feel a little like a kid in a candy store ... and very happily this time I had a gift coupon to use for my purchase!

Speaking of which ...


I bought some lovely floral papers, vintage looking stamps, tea-themed stickers and a package of small, ivory doilies.

I also "splurged" on the newest copy of Where Women Create and The Herb Quarterly. The current issue of THQ focuses on "The 2012 Herb of the Year" which is the Rose. (Which is SO much easier to work with than last year's Horseradish, lol. Next year it's Elderberry, by the way.)


And did you know that next week (as in, the week leading up to Mother's Day) is "National Herb Week?" I'm thinking a trip to the nursery is in order. ;)

There were also many "happy" things to find in the yard this weekend ...


The lilacs are in full bloom (so early!), and just look at these little beauties ...


Our lily-of-the-valley plants are really spreading out ... they have the sweetest spring scent.

Our red azalea bush is also in bright bloom:


It will hopefully help entice our friendly little hummingbirds back to our yard. Remember Our Happy Hummers from last year?

We also put up our feeders yesterday, filled with freshly made hummingbird nectar. According to the Mass. Audubon Society this week is the perfect week to put out hummingbird feeders.


Now we just sit back and wait ... 

Of course, Archie would take a more proactive approach.


(He's actually crying at me because he does not like to be left inside while we're all outside. He so wants to be a real boy. Archie and Oliver are strictly indoor cats, however, so the screens are as close as they get to the great big outdoors.)

Speaking of my feline fellas, here are Archie (left) and Ollie (right) watching Bill work on the front steps this morning.


I love how they're always all up in our business, lol.

And finally, one more picture to share, an early morning shot of our church ...


It never looks prettier than it does at this time of year, when those twin trees flanking the entrance are in perfect bloom.


Well, my friends, I'm going to sign off for now, as it's getting quite late in the day. Early tomorow I'll have the "Masterpiece Monday" post up so we can get the conversation rolling (including Birdsong, part 2 and Once Upon a Time), and then I'll announce the winner of Earlybird's Arbor Day Poll & Book Giveaway. Thank you again for the terrific response! I find your votes so interesting, but I especially enjoy reading the little stories and memories behind your selections. It's quite clear we all have a real fondness for trees. :)

A file crate post is also in the works, because it's that time of year again! I almost had it done in time to publish today, but then I got busy with some thing or another. (Isn't that always the way, lol?) So look for that post coming up, too.

Have a good night, everyone! See you here again very soon ...


My Favorite Magazines

A few folks have asked me to share what magazines I read on a regular basis, and of course, I'm happy to do so!

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To begin with, above you see the magazines pictured in yesterday's tea post. These are my "pretty" magazines:

British Country LivingMy ALL TIME favorite magazine - the pictures are above and beyond beautiful! And I love the "seasonal" aspect to each issue - the recipes, gardening, homespun ideas. I also like reading about British agriculture and small businesses. I share this subscription with my Mum.

Artful BloggingA lovely, once-in-a-while treat that usually gives me serious blog envy, lol! I bought this issue for myself with birthday monies. :)

VictoriaI've subscribed to Victoria since I was a young girl! To begin with, my grandmother and I shared a subscription ... and I was so upset when they went out of publication. I was therefore delighted when they started up production again a few years ago. I don't find the new issues as captivating as the older editions ... but I won't complain. It's nice to have Victoria back.

Country HomeThe American version - my mother subscribed when I was a kid and I just loved it. I was always reading it, and thinking about my "someday home" and the recipes I'd like to try. In fact, I still have many of those issues saved! The look and feel of CH has changed over time, but I do still enjoy it very much.

Sew BeautifulThis is a gorgeous catalog that appeared in my mailbox the other day. I have no idea how I got on this mailing list but I'm very happy I did. :)

The Baking SheetThe King Arthur Flour newsletter - a must for seasonal bakers!

Mollie MakesI just discovered this delicious British craft magazine a few months ago. Seriously, no one does magazines like the British! I love how MM includes a small craft project with every issue.

Teatime BlissThis arrived in the mail just the other day ~ it's a special Victoria edition all about Tea!


Now, I'm the first to admit I'm a bit persnickety about my magazines ...

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I keep all current (and recent) magazines in this roomy basket, and they are stacked in a very particular order. Over the weekend there is a pile of "weekly reading" on top which includes sections from the Sunday Globe, our Parish bulletin, new catalogs, Time, People and Entertainment Weekly.

Other magazines I read regularly include Everyday Food (my *favorite* food magazine), Martha Stewart Living, Everyday with Rachel Ray, Food Network Magazine, Mary Janes Farm, Family Circle and Woman's Day.


I'm often asked what I do with all these magazines - do I save or recycle?

Well, I pass some of them on, and I recycle most of the rest (after I've clipped things I want to save). I do keep my issues of Everyday Food, British Country Living, The Baking Sheet and Martha Stewart Living. (And I only save MSL because I have every issue dating from her very first one!)

As for all those clippings, well I save them in my journals ...

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And I've been keeping these journals for years and years. They're a compilation of notes, mementos and magazine articles, pictures, quotes, etc. Seasonal stuff, mostly. I started keeping them when I was a teen ... I guess they're like personal scrapbooks or idea books. (Maybe these were my "blogs" before I was blogging, lol.) They cover about a few months' worth of "stuff" at a time.

Here's a page from my current journal, going back about a month or so. I have here a sweet message from my Crackerjack (I found it in his papers - it was a "rough draft" of my birthday card), a pretty calendar page, and a recipe I wanted to try that weekend (but alas, did not).

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In the back of the journal (which is just a plain, old 3-subject Mead notebook) are stashed clippings that still need to be filed. I try to work in my journal at least once a week. I find it a very relaxing and satisfying hobby.

It can be hard to find time to sit and read, I will admit that. But I can be patient. As you can see I often have many magazines in my pile "to be read." I try to find a few hours over the weekend to catch up ... and then I keep that basket in my reading corner to read through when I can. I often find time to do a little reading when the boys are having lunch or in the evening after I've started supper.

As for subscribing over buying ... well I'm currently in the process of subscribing to most of the magazines I read. It makes sense since one saves a good deal of money with a subscription. Though I do love visiting the newsstand and there's just something so fun about spying a brand new issue, all stacked fresh and pretty on the shelf. (I'm sure some of you know what I mean!)


Well, such is my affection for magazines! For as long as I can remember I've been quite an addict a fan. I love the format of magazines ... the feel of the pages, the layout and text, the photography ... all the creativity and inspiration. I love how - by their very "timely" nature - they capture a certain time in our life: current news, recent trends. I love the excitement that arrives with a new issue and the spark of energy that comes with new ideas and information ...

But now my friends - now that I've virtually chewed your ears off, lol! - I'd love to hear about your favorite magazines! What ones do you read regularly? Or perhaps once in a while as a little treat? If you have a  moment, leave me a comment and let me know ... :)

For now though I'm going to sign off ... the day's getting late. And as a matter of fact, it's snowing like crazy here right now! The first snow we've seen in weeks ... months? Looks like March will indeed come in just like a lion ...

So have a good night and as always, thanks for stopping by. I'll see you again very soon!