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Recent Reader Recs

Happy Friday, my friends!

Just a quick post this morning ... I wanted to share a few links with you all, some recent recommendations that are really neat!

Jen mentioned The Butterfly Project sponsored by the Holocaust Museum of Houston. And it's a very meaningful concept ~ they are collecting handmade butterfly crafts through December 2012. They have 900,000 so far, but their goal is 1.5 million, to represent the number of children who perished in the Holocaust. The crafts can be dropped off or mailed, and all will be on display at the museum in 2014.

• Van linked me to a free vintage (1906!) nature diary pdf at Homeschool Freebie of the Day. Lovely resource - great site!

• Amy pointed me to this article on book suggestions for DA fans: Three Downton Abbey Readarounds, Including a New Fay Weldon Novel. (The book by Fay Weldon is actually being published next week, not January 2013 as the article states. It looks sooo good.)

• And my mum recommended a show to me: the BBC's Twenty Twelve, a comedy centered around the 2012 London Olympics. It stars Hugh Bonneville (aka Lord Grantham!) and she and my dad are enjoying it very much. I believe they watch it on Comcast "On Demand."

So that's it for now! Do you have any recs to make? Books, shows, websites, etc?

Please drop me a note if you do!


And have a great day ...


Sunday Evening Chit-Chat

(A little bit of this and that.)

Just popping on quickly to remind you that I'll be hosting "Masterpiece Monday" here tomorrow, so if you'd like to join us, be sure to tune in to "The Old Curiosity Shop" tonight and then come on back in the morning to chat.


Also, while I'm here (and before supper comes out of the oven), I wanted to talk briefly about next week. There's lots coming up!

KGdaffodilFirst off, we have Leap Year on Wednesday, which is always kind of neat. (For the record, this is a very cute movie - and the scenery is gorgeous!)

Then March comes in (perhaps like a lion?) on Thursday.

Thursday also brings the Feast of St. David of Wales. We always mark this day with special food and dragon stories. (A red dragon is the symbol of Wales.)

Friday is Dr. Seuss Day (also known as Read Across America Day), and if we could, we'd go see The Lorax, but instead (and in true spirit of the day) we'll read the book. What is your favorite Dr. Seuss book? I'd have to choose Green Eggs and Ham - it happens to be the first book I ever read!

And speaking of green eggs and ham, I'd like to make a spinach and ham quiche for Friday (aka green eggs and ham!) but as it's Friday (and Fridays are meatless for us during Lent) I'll probably serve that dish on Thursday instead. Then I'll switch the leek-and-potato soup (for St. David's Day) to Friday. That will taste nice with grilled cheese. :)


Other baking plans this week include making refrigerator bran muffins and homemade pretzels. Crafting plans include working on those Lenten banners I mentioned in this post, and we'll make the first panel of our "stained glass" doorway cross. (One panel for each Sunday through Easter.)

Learning plans include reading this book for Book Group on Friday (my turn to lead!) and kicking off a four-month, four-elements study ...

March = air

April = water

May = earth

June = fire

We'll explore the way the elements affect our everyday life, the world around us and even how they are part of our Faith. I'm really looking forward to it. :)


Oh, and one more quick thing! One of our Lenten goals this year is to spend more of our family time doing things together other than just watching TV. So last night we sat around the table and played a really wonderful game, Around the World: The Ultimate Global Board Game. It was so fun and quite educational! Some of the questions were ridiculously easy but they only illustrated the point that information we take for granted other people might not know as readily. Certainly we were stumped on many questions that focused on lands and cultures unfamiliar to us ... it was a great eye-opening exercise!


Well, now I will wrap up and bid you all a good night. I hope you've had a nice weekend and feel ready to start a new week! I'll see you all again soon ... and remember, if you watch Masterpiece Theater tonight, do stop by sometime tomorrow - I'll do my best to have the chat post up as early as possible.

Thanks for stopping by, my friends ... Good Night, and God Bless!

A Few Friday Thoughts ...

First of all, Happy Weekend, my friends! Any special plans on the docket?

As I sip my coffee this morning (I'm on cup #2), I've got lots of thoughts tumbling around in my head ~ so here I am to share them with you all!

Our last soccer game of the year is tomorrow ~ and the weather should be terrific!

We must not forget to "Fall Back" bright dark and early Sunday morning ...  

Crackerjack has Book Group today; the kids read Thimble Summer this month. Next month will be Bud, Not Buddy - and since I'm leading the December discussion I'd best get reading! :)

Speaking of reading, I'm also working through Last Child in the Woods - our homeschool support group meeting this month will focus on this book. (A topic about which I feel quite strongly!)

I'm also having a haircut today - just a trim, but I'm well overdue!

We've been watching that new show "Once Upon a Time." It's pretty interesting, and the boys are enjoying it. Bill and I also checked out "Grimm" but that's definitely a grown-ups only show. 

What's the next movie in your Netflix queue? Ours is Thor - Bill and I will preview it and then see if it's OK for 12 yo Crackerjack to watch (it's rated PG-13). (If you've seen it, I'd love your opinion!)

As for going TO the movies, I'm looking forward to seeing Breaking Dawn, pt. 1 later this month (date night with Bill!) and the boys are eager to see Sherlock Holmes 2, coming out in December.

In planning news, think I have a new weekly planning sheet "prototype" in the works! I'm tinkering with it and trying it out with next week's folder. I'll keep  you all posted!

We simply MUST get those spring bulbs in the ground this weekend! That ground won't stay "diggable" much longer ...

Bill's taking some time off next week so he can get the flooring done in the dining room. (It's the same wood we used in the sitting/learning room.) Think he can get it done by Thanksgiving? Let's hope so!

As for tonight's supper menu? Grilled turkey burgers, cornbread stuffing, maple carrots & parsnips, and cranberry sauce. You all must think we eat nothing but turkey burgers, lol - but honestly, we love them. And it's supposed to be a nice day, so we'll take one more grill if we can!

And looking ahead to next Friday ...

Martinmas, or, the Feast of St. Martin, will be here! The legend behind this saint is lovely, especially for this time of year. As per tradition, I'll bake horseshoe cookies and we'll place our lanterns in the window, to spread light against the darkening sky. (Ours will be fairly humble, but here are some pretty "lanterns" that would make beautiful holiday centerpieces.) Despite a predicted warm spell ("St. Martin's or Indian Summer"), I'll have new pajamas for each of the boys - a symbol of warmth and caring in the face of a coming winter. We'll also spend the week filling a box with donations for our parish food drive.  

Well, my boys are up now, and breakfast requests are being made, so I'd best be off. (My breakfast? Well, there's COFFEE ... and then, toasted tuscan bread with just a bit of butter - delicious!)

I hope you all have a GREAT Friday, dear readers ...

Take care, and I will see you all again very soon.


Friday Odds and Ends


Well, my posting plans went completely awry this week! Busy-ness got the best of me, I guess. It was my turn to host Book Group, so I found myself reading every spare minute I got - taking notes, preparing questions, etc. Our clubs met yesterday afternoon; in Crackerjack's group we discussed Hoot, while Bookworm's teen group chatted about the Maximum Ride series ...

(By the way, speaking of books - don't forget another Barnes & Noble Educator Discount Week begins tomorrow! Anything new on your can't-wait-to-read-list?)

We also had a late night Wednesday - I was a chaperone for a "Night Hike," that the older boys participated in. Really fun night! Pizza first, then as the sun set (beautifully, I might add) we headed into the woods where we hiked for an hour - with 17 kids, 5 adults and plenty of flashlights to see by. Kind of spooky, a little treacherous in spots - but so very cool. The waterfall was my favorite part. :)

And soccer started this week - our first game's tomorrow! Bill's coaching Crackerjack's team again this year (with my brother as co-coach and Bookworm as coach's assistant). I'm team "secretary," lol - photocopying schedules, field maps and fielding messages from players who need rides, etc. The weekend weather looks to be beautiful so it should be a great season kick-off!


Now, unfortunately, with all this running around, Earlybird and I didn't get to do many of the "Eggs and Nests" activities I had planned. So I'll stretch that theme into next week (which is tentatively our "Spring Cleaning" week). I know I've said this before, but "more on all that soon." :)


While I'm here I'd like to post the delicious Penuche Frosting my mum used for the Rose Sunday cake. This is for Jennifer. :)

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1 1/2 tablespoons milk

1 cup confectionary sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Melt vanilla in saucepan. Add brown sugar and stir until blended. Slowly add milk, mix well and bring to boil. Cool 10 minutes. Add confectionary sugar and beat until smooth.

This frosting - atop whatever cakey vehicle you choose - tastes especially divine with a cup of coffee. The flavors together remind me of a caramel latte. Yum.


My mum brought over some small picture frames for me yesterday, and among them was this - my 2nd grade school picture! The boys got a kick out of seeing such a "young" Mama, but Earlybird was insisting it was a picture of Crackerjack, lol! (Which, understandably, didn't please CJ too much.)


(I had long hair for most of my childhood, but this was that "Dorothy Hamill" so very popular in those days. And just look at those teeth, lol! This was pre-braces, obviously.)


Now, both Mary and Lynette have recently left comments about planners ... this is the time of year when the academic planners start showing up in the shops. Blue Sky was my favorite month-at-a-glance planner for years - and I'm always tempted to jump ship (new planners are like my kryptonite, lol) - but for now I'll stick with my homemade binder. It's working well for me so I'll keep plugging on. :) I do need to pick up new file folders for the crate, however - I do the change up next season (May-June) so I'll be needing fresh supplies very soon!


And before I go, I'd like to report in for Elizabeth (and anyone else who suffers from fruit flies as we do) that "Petey," our Venus fly trap, is not doing too much for the situation. Not yet, anyways. At last count - and to our best knowledge - he's eaten only one fruit fly so far. I'll cut him some slack, though - he is only one plant after all - and the fruit flies number in the dozens at least! I will say, Bookworm has found fair success using a handheld vacuum to chase the little buggers down, and I'm considering trying something like this. I really must get these flies out of here before Easter - they are completely obnoxious in general, but especially when it comes to dinner parties!


Oh, and one more thing! I can't believe I almost forgot to tell you all about this ...

Last week, Erin left me a comment and linked me to an Etsy shop featuring lovely wooden saint dolls: Saint Anne's Pixies. You simply must take a look. The tiny dolls are beautifully hand-painted and there are so many to choose from! Something for everyone, very reasonably priced and a portion of the shop's profits go to Food for the Poor. I ordered a "Saint Francis" for our nature table and (shhhh ...) a "Saint Emily" for my cousin's daughter who'll make her First Holy Communion at the end of the month ...


Ok, so there are my "odds and ends" for this Friday. Rambling and random, but there you go. I hope your week has been a good one, busy or quiet, or somewhere in between. Thanks so much for stopping by ... I'll see you again very soon!


This, That and Another Thing

Good Tuesday Morning, everyone!

Well, this last week of March is off to a flying start. We had a very busy weekend so I didn't get much "plan-and-prep" done. And maybe spring fever is setting in, I don't know - but I'm feeling a bit scattered today. Before I address my pressing "to-do" list, though, I thought I'd share a few random thoughts here this morning ... 



First of all, this is great news. Our prayers continue, Sue!


On Friday we say goodbye to cold and wintery March and welcome a - fingers crossed! - mild and gentle April. I recently bought the cutest book for Earlybird - it was just published this month, and I showed it (albeit in shadow) in my last post. You might remember, we focused on the whole lion/lamb theme this month so reading this book will be a perfect way to change months on Friday. I also picked up some EB-friendly marshmallows at Whole Foods this weekend, so we can make a little lamb craft/snack together. (Ironically, the forecast is calling for a raw, windy day on Friday - so it looks like the lion will hang on a bit longer.)


Speaking of big grizzled felines, our cat Smokey turns 20 on Friday. Twenty! A birthday cake has been requested (by the boys, not the cat) and EB and I are working on a handmade felt catnip toy. :)



Bike season is almost here! Our family loves biking - and this spring our homeschool group is forming a Bike Riding Club. We're kicking it off with a field trip to a local cycle shop this week. The kids will get a tour of the shop and hear about bike maintenance and road safety.


I'm planning a spring family lunch for Rose Sunday. Details to come ... lots of good food of course - I'm thinking rhubarb for sure - and I can tell you EB and I are making our own little Sunday "roses." (More soon on that too - it's our craft for later today.)


And finally, below is a bird (photo by Bookworm) that we are trying to identify. He's bigger than the average sparrow, with long legs and orange-brown coloring. He's very shy and easily startled, and we only ever see him this early in Spring. But we see him *every* year without fail! We're thinking he might be a migrant? Any help would be much appreciated!


Well, I'd best be off. Those calzones are just not going to make themselves, and the boys are now ready for subject changes. Actually, I think I'm going to let them run around outside for a bit before lunch. It's too nice a morning not to enjoy - bright sunshine, fresh air and nearly 50 degrees ... plus, it will give me some time to correct and clear the math off the island and maybe get my baking done. ;)

Hope your week is going well ... I will see you all again very soon!


Monday Morning Memo

On my mind this COLD Monday morning ...


What happens to boiling water when it hits frigid air?

The brutal cold - ideal for reading The Days of the Blackbird.

Midweek snow - where are we going to put it?

February - it's only a week away!

Lasagna - it's what's for supper.

My van - how big (and $) an issue will it be?

The fireplace - my favorite corner of the house these days.


What's on your mind this Monday morning?


A Few (Random) Friday Thoughts

Heading into the long holiday weekend, enjoying a quiet day here at home, watching the skies for signs of Hurricane Earl. Still organizing photos from the beach trip the other day - I'll post those over the weekend. :)

~*~ Working in my journal today - I've been neglecting it lately. I also have a bunch of magazines piled up in my reading basket: a lovely new Victoria, The Autumn Baking Sheet from King Arthur Flour, Mary Jane's Farm, Living Crafts, Country Home (SO excited this is being published again!) and the Jamie magazine from England. 

~*~ Speaking of Jamie Oliver - my new favorite TV show is Jamie at Home on the Cooking Channel. (I have his book of the same name on hold at the library.) I love the backdrop of this show - it's set in his English home, against his English garden. His cooking is earthy and fresh and I love all the British-isms, too. :)

~*~ Recently we got a new sectional for the family room (in a deep chocolate brown) and my favorite thing to do in the evening is to curl up on the chaise end and watch some TV or read. I can't wait till it's cool enough to have a fire in the fireplace and add a soft throw blanket or two at the end of the seat. :)

~*~ Calling around to local farms enquiring about green tomatoes - I was really hoping to make piccalilli this year! (It's kind of a Labor Day tradition for us.) So far it's been a fruitless search - nobody seems to have green tomatoes on hand! 

~*~ But speaking of Labor Day, this is always the last day of summer vacation for us, and it's also always the day we revise the chores lists for all family members. Who's been doing what - and who can stand to do more - that kind of thing. :) 

~*~ Before he left for work this morning, Bill brought in our bikes, and took down our tent and secured outdoor furniture and any stray toys. We're not expecting the full brunt of Hurricane Earl, but the winds are supposed to be pretty high overnight.

~*~ Do you know what I love? I love the smell of the dryer vent outside my kitchen windows - it reminds me of being a kid, playing outside and smelling that distinct homey smell. Knowing my mother was just inside (or my grandmother perhaps), at home with us, keeping the household humming. Very comforting. :)

~*~ Thank you for all the Lipsmackers tips and reminiscences! I'll be scouring online to see if I can find that Toasted Marshmallow flavor I loved best of all. For the record, I also liked Bubble Gum and Sour Grapes. ;) Oh and yes, Penny I remember Love's Baby Soft as well! It was the first fragrance I was allowed to wear on a regular basis - the small bottle of Tinkerbell cologne spray I kept on my vanity paled in comparison to the pretty pink parcel I received for Christmas that year - I believe the set included a set of eau de perfume, powder and ... maybe it was lotion? I can't recall. But I can recall the lovely fragrance that made me so feminine and so grown up! My mum wore beautiful perfumes - and I always loved the way she smelled, especially when she was going out somewhere with my dad. But best of all I loved her Jean Nate after-bath splash. That's another smell from my childhood. :)

~*~ Oh, and for Melissa from Australia, who asked about s'mores ... S'mores are a delicous treat, and I believe, the name came from a contraction of "some and more" - as in, you'll want some more! They are, traditionally, a camping treat because they're so portable and easy to make: two layers of graham cracker, a layer of chocolate bar and stuck in the middle is a marshmallow that's been toasted over an open fire. They are soooo good. I never thought about it, but perhaps they are an American thing?

~*~ And finally, here's one of my precious red squirrels snacking on the withering raspberry vines this morning ...


I hope you all have a lovely, safe weekend - holiday weekend if you live in the States. Be back again just as soon as I can ...

Weekend Project:


Going through my old journals and tagging things for future reference.

I spent sooo much time yesterday hunting for a lantern craft I just KNEW I had somewhere ... taped into the pages of one of my journals. Between today and tomorrow I hope to peruse these old notebooks and add small post-it tags where I find projects and recipes I might want to try in the future. Not the most organized system I know, but these journals are not, after all, meant to be organized - just a hodgepodge of thoughts and ideas. Still, if those ideas are going to be useful, I need a way to refer back to them in the future ...

I did finally find the lantern instructions - AFTER I made our May Eve lanterns, lol! I am putting together a post on this neat little beading craft I undertook yesterday. I worked on it through the day, and after dark (and after our first grilled supper of the year) we lit the lanterns to watch them sparkle in the night. The boys also marched them around the yard, an impromptu lantern walk on a lovely spring eve. :)

Also, later this weekend I will share our lesson plans for the new week ahead. I had a wicked toothache this past week (resulting in sleepless nights and an emergency root canal on Thursday) so our plans for last week kind of went by the wayside. We'll be playing a bit of catch up next week ...

Oh! And while I think of it, recently a reader asked me where I store all these journals - well, here's a peek:


So as you can see, there are quite a lot of them! (The lower shelf holds my old large-style notebooks; the shelf above holds the smaller journals seen in the picture at the top of this post.)

So all that's all that's on the docket for today and tomorrow ... along with all our usual weekend activities ... and oh, by the way ... Happy May! Have a great weekend and see you here again sometime soon!

Tuesday Tidbits

Just a few things that have been rattling around in my head (and my camera) ...


Above you see our March Nature Table ... still pretty bare, but hopefully that will change over the next few weeks. For now, we have a small bouquet of daffodils (the March flower), a shell found at the beach a few weeks ago, a slab of wood from a felled tree in my late grandparents' yard (it came down in the recent windstorms), and our Spiderwick Field Guide open to the section on leprechauns ... of course. ;)


Earlybird's March Bulletin Board ... there's lots o' green to be seen, but still a bit o' the white as well. As March tends to be around here.


Remember the Paperwhites Bill and the boys planted for me on Valentine's Day? They are doing beautifully in our sunny front window.


And the smell just can't be believed!


OK, now for a little March madness ... I ordered the above nail polish set through Amazon, just for fun! I wore the shade on the far right ("Mad as a Hatter") to the movie last Friday. It was actually very pretty - just a clear coat filled with sparkly glitter. (Tough as cement to get off though.) 

And speaking of (the movie), I liked it very much. It was a bit darker than I expected, but visually - i.e. set design and special effects - it was just incredible! I enjoyed the actors' performances as well - particularly Johnny Depp's and Mia Wasikowska (the young lady who plays Alice).

Have you seen the movie, and if so what did you think? 

Have a great Tuesday, everyone! :)

Thursday Thoughts ...

It's one of those late afternoons when I'm positively itching to post, but sadly have nothing to say. Nothing of importance, anyway. But I really feel like saying hi, so I'm going to do just that, and maybe as I type inspiration will strike ... :)

It's just about dark here in the east. Bill's on his way home from work and I'm heating the oven up for supper. The snow squalls have come to end, and boy, I wish you could see this amazing sky. Well, wait - let me snap a picture and see if it comes out:


It was a very wintry day - moderately cold and mostly bright - and what a wicked wind! We came home to find our trash bins waaay down the street, snowbound in a neighbor's yard. I am so glad I have a teenager who can now do things like fetch wayward trash bins for me!

In the mail today: a bunch of bills and the February MSL - all covered in pastel cupcakes, it looks good. (Truth be told I haven't even read the January issue yet. Yes, it's a been a busy few months.) 

Speaking of busy, it was quite a day. We had to be at Book Group by 12:45, and since it was my turn to lead the kids in discussion, I spent the whole morning putting the study questions together. (Nothing like leaving things to the last minute!) But a sidetracked mama meant the boys were left to their own devices, which in turn meant very little work of any kind was accomplished and so we came home to a wreck of a house. I'll have my work cut out for me tomorrow!

Let's see what else?

The cold that Earlybird had seems to have skipped the rest of us, thank goodness. I felt it coming on earlier in the week, but took evasive action as soon as I felt the first sniffle. It was zinc to the rescue again! This is the second time this winter I've taken zinc at the mere threat of a cold and escaped completely unharmed. I am officially swearing by it from now on.

Crackerjack just informed me we still have three cartons of eggnog in the fridge. (It's no longer being stocked - so we panicked and hoarded.) Looks like we'll be making eggnog bread tomorrow. (Easy, delicious recipe can be found here.)

Thank you, by the way, for all your wonderful responses to my recent planner and file crate posts. I will be getting back to the questions that were left for me soon. Hopefully over the weekend ...

Well, I think I have run dry of Thursday thoughts, so I guess I'd best call it a night. It's still snowing here, though the sky is now perfectly clear - how does that happen? - and the sunset is soft and serene.  Thanks for stopping by, I hope your night is a nice one. 
I'll see you all again very soon. :)

You are all so very kind ...


I am completely overwhelmed by the many lovely comments that were left after my last post. I feel so encouraged, inspired and humbled by your constant support ~ THANK YOU all for being so sweet! You really are the very best readers any blogger could ask for, and I am lucky to have you. :)

It's well after lunchtime here on this cold, gray November day. It's just Earlybird and I this afternoon - Bill has the older boys off to an MIT class. (Well, technically, just Bookworm is attending the class - a Lego Robotics lesson - Crackerjack is spending the afternoon at a friend's.) And as you can see from the picture above (my view from where I sit as I type up this post) I am spread out at the table with all my Thanksiving planning stuff. As well as a hot cup of tea, and my cat - who, honestly, does know better than to get up on the table, but still - she's a cat. Cats go where they please, don't you know.

So a quiet afternoon stretches ahead, and then tonight a little treat for me - after supper, I'm meeting a dear friend at Barnes & Noble for coffee. I can hardly wait! It will be fun to browse sans children, and it will be good to catch up over a small gingerbread latte. Of course I'll let you all know if I pick up any good books. ;)

Thanks again, everyone - you've all really made my day. I certainly don't plan on giving up blogging anytime soon - and I don't plan to change how I blog either. It would be too much like work - I can't be anything else but me. Thanks for letting me know that's a good thing.

Blessings to you all ~ I will see you again soon!

So how was your day?


There is absolutely no rhyme or reason to this post; I just felt like saying hi. :)

And ask, how was your day? Ours was nice, though it did not go as originally planned ...

Things got off to a rocky start when Bill woke me with the six words I never ever want to hear - particularly not at five in the morning:

"Honey, we're all out of coffee."


Thankfully, we don't live too far from a Dunkin Donuts and, mercifully, they open their doors at 6 a.m.

Next up in weird kitchen mishaps - our toaster went kaflooey. It was an old thing anyway, and appliance death doesn't usually bother me so much (unless it's the coffeemaker) - but I quickly realized I couldn't make my everyday (without fail) breakfast: a whole-wheat English muffin slathered lightly spread with peanut butter. I made one for myself anyway, letting the defunct toaster warm the muffin if not quite crisp it. It still tasted nice, and I nibbled away at my breakfast, watching the morning sun creep across the front yard ...

But then the sun disappeared, and by 7 a.m. it was raining.

Now, you all know how much I enjoy a rainy day - relish it even - but when the rain falls on our Nature Club day, not so much. I happened to be leading this month's meeting and my plan was to have the kids "Find Fall" with their cameras and sketch books. Not really a wet weather activity. So I hemmed and hawed and checked in with my co-coordinator - and finally made the decision to postpone Nature Club till next week. I sent the cancellation out over the airwaves (or the e-chain in this instance) and settled in for a nice long rainy day at home ...

And then the rain stopped.

And the sun came out.


Anyhoo. What was done, was done. By lunchtime we were finished with lessons and I was tidying up the kitchen. I noticed our apples were getting soft, so I decided to make up some applesauce - and after some consideration (time? energy? patience level?) I decided to have the boys help me.

Here are a few pictures from that adventure:





And at 1:30 p.m., as we stood at the stove stirring the apples, I heard a pitter-patter from the deck - and the air coming in the kitchen windows was a bit cooler, a bit sharper.



It was just a passing shower, but it made me feel marginally better about the Nature Club cancellation. Plus, several families were not going to attend due to family illness (there's a right nasty virus making its way through our crowd). So I am pretty much ok with the postponement.

(Can you tell I'm trying to make myself feel better, lol?)

I hope it doesn't sound like I am complaining - I was just musing over all the setbacks that crossed my path today. But, despite all those little trials (and they were very little), truly my day was a good one. Blessed even.

Sure, we were out of coffee, but ... I have a wonderful husband who gladly drove off into the cold, dark early morning to get me fresh coffee.

Yes, my toaster died this morning, but ... I have good food in my pantry and I have money in the bank to buy a new toaster.

True, the tricky weather wrecked our fun plans, but ... I'm lucky to be at home in the first place, and even luckier to have the time and energy to make applesauce with my kids.

And now, as I wrap up this post, the sun is shining again, my house smells like apples and spice, and Bill just walked in the door.

My day may not have gone according to plan - not my plan anyways - but it was a good one all the same.

I hope yours was, too. :)

A Few Little Things ~


I just love it when I fill up a whole entire notebook and then it's time to start a new journal. For one thing, it's satisfying to have kept so many notes and mementos in one place, and for another, I really enjoy making journals! For my latest journal, I picked a very summery print which complemented the red cover of my very plain notebook. I added a gingham check place ribbon, as well. It's such a little thing really, but fun all the same. :)

Other fun little things today ~

~ Bookworm has an orthodontist appointment which means we can stop in at our favorite Italian bakery on the way home. I have a thing for those buttery little colored cookies - you know, the bright pink, green, yellow and brown ones? This bakery also sells amazing bread and pastas, so I'm thinking I might pick up a few things for an Italian dinner tomorrow night.

~ Because tonight's dinner will have to be quick, mostly leftovers I think, since I'll be off to the movies with the older two this evening! We are going with Bookworm's Tween Group to see Prince Caspian and I can hardly wait! I'm hoping the movie is not too dark, as Crackerjack tends to be sensitive about those things. I'm also hoping there will be good previews - maybe for the new HP movie this fall?

~ And because we will be at the moves tonight, Bill will record the two-hour season finale of Lost; we'll watch it tomorrow after the kids have gone to bed. I seriously hope they don't kill off Sawyer - but I have a bad feeling about that. And I dread seeing Sun and Jin say goodbye - so sad! I'm hoping Lost returns in September - none of this February nonsense again. (P.S. At the bottom of this post there are several sneak peeks for tonight's episode.)

~ The weather here is gorgeous today - sunny, windy and warm (in the 70s). I feel like summer is here, but we still have several weeks of "school" left before we can officially call it a break. I'm quite ready for a break this year ...

Well, that's all for now. I am still working on the next Mitten Strings post. I'll have it up just as soon as it makes any sense. ;)

Have a lovely day, everyone ...

Facts in Five

~ FIVE neat little things for today ~

1. My Earlybird slept from 8 p.m. last night until 5:30 a.m. today; that's 9 1/2 hours, people! That was the most normal night's sleep he's ever had in his life. (And, more significantly, that I've had in 6 1/2 years!) What a clever boy; he's been showered with attention this morning and is he ever chipper and chatty. Some of you reading know just how early a riser my EB can be (i.e. 4 is the norm). I think - hope, pray - this new schedule (no naps/time change), has finally worked a little bedtime magic. I could get used to this well-rested feeling ...

2. My blog turned 2 last week! I was thinking that today was the day, but actually it was March 22nd. I posted 3 times the first day, and 7 times the next, lol! I am stunned to think I've had something to say almost every day in those two years. (I think I've missed maybe 5.) I am really very grateful for this blog - especially for the folks I've come to know through it - it's been the most rewarding hobby, I must say. Here's how we celebrated ONE last year ...

3.  SouleMama's book (The Creative Family) is coming out in 6 days! You are probably familiar with her beautiful, crafty, cozy blog (the kind of blog I hope mine grows up to be, lol), but if not, please hop over and check it out. There's a link to her book in the lefthand sidebar; check that out too. I've had it in my Amazon cart ever since she first mentioned it sometime last year, and now shipping's just a few days away! I am downright giddy. :)

4. What we're watching/listening to right now ~ Here Come the 1,2,3's! from They Might Be Giants. Earlybird found this in his Easter basket, and it's a big hit, as I knew it would be. (He's loved the ABC version for a couple of years now.) Very catchy, perky songs - very parent- and older sibling- friendly. And the bonus is, the set includes a DVD to watch, and a CD for the car. EB, as some of you know, has a sensitivity to singing (in that, he yells, "NO SING, MAMA!" if I do so much as hum) so figuring out ways to get a little music into his life is a constant goal.

5. And finally: the Red Sox won the season opener 6-5 in 10 innings! Hooray for spring!

Well, I must be off - the waffles have popped, and the coffeemaker just sounded "last call." I hope you all have a wonderful Wednesday!

Monday Afternoon Chit-Chat

By tradition, Easter Monday is a visiting day or a day for a nice walk, though I'd hazard a guess that many of us could simply use a day of rest. :)

Since it was quite chilly here today and we're all still on the mend, I opted not to do either. Though normally I'm completely on board with the fresh-air-cures-all school of thought, I'm feeling a little cautious after this truly nasty bug. Especially when one of my boys complains of being cold no matter how many layers he piles on, and ends up doing his lessons - not at the learning table - but pulled up close to the fire:


(Despite the cold, that spring light is a joy!)

So instead, we cracked open a window - just to hear the birds and feel the breeze for a bit - and sipped some "Easter Cocoa." This seemed to please everyone, and warmed up my little Crackerjack at last.


("Easter Cocoa" is just fresh whole milk warmed with a little sugar and a dash of almond extract - topped with pastel marshmallows of course!)

Completely off-topic (though I'm not sure this post has one, lol) I have to show you this lovely book that has captured my attention:



It's called A Mom's Almanac, and it is just beautiful - to look at and read. As you can see in the photographs, the pages are laid out in an old-fashioned charming way (think Kate Greenaway), but its information is completely up-to-date. I actually bought it as a gift for an upcoming baby shower, but I fear I might not be able to give it up - ahem! I linked it at Amazon but I got it at B&N for only $8.95! It is a perfect gift for a new mother - or a mother who will enjoy mothering no matter how big her babies grow! ;)

One more thing before I go, and I hesitate to post about it because it's something I've only just begun fiddling with. But the colors looked so pretty (and yes, matched the post) so I couldn't help snapping a picture ...


In my (seemingly) never-ending quest for the perfect organization system, I am trying my hand at index cards. I tried using them once years ago after reading the S.H.E. book, and I even started a thread at 4Real ... but for whatever reason they didn't stick. Then a few months ago I read a magazine article about a mother who used multi-colored cards to keep track of her daily to-do's, and even more recently, my friend Kim shared how she uses hers ~ and, well, it all got my gears turning! I didn't even have to run to the office supply store - I had all the supplies on hand. So I've been using them for a couple of weeks now, and so far so good. I'll post more about them after I've used them a little longer. (Does anyone else use index cards in this way?)

(Bill just peeked over my shoulder and sighed, "You're trying the index cards again?" Lol.)

So there's the update for now - and now it's time to get these kids (and me!) to bed. I hope you had a nice Monday. I'll see you all again sometime tomorrow. :)

A few notes while I'm trapped here ...

Lol, maybe trapped is too strong a word, but we have a plastering crew working at the Pinkbluebutterfly_2house today, and I'm somewhat sequestered here in the family room, behind a tarp that's keeping the dust and the noise down a bit. Bill is working from home today so he can be the go-to guy for the workers (I'm no good at fielding construction questions) and in a little while the boys and I will head out to EB's therapy and then lunch with Nana ...

All this to say, I have a little extra time at the computer this morning and I thought of a few things I've been meaning to mention. :)

~ I've been lately wrapped up in a little cocoon of family doings and minor illnesses etc., so I'm just getting around to answering comments that have been left in the past week or so. Please forgive my perpetual slowness in this aspect of blogging. I want you all to know I so appreciate each and every comment (and question) left here for me!

~ And speaking of comments, I have to ask once again, is anyone having trouble typing in my comment box? I swear, it's slow as molasses when I do, and I have resorted to typing my comment in a Word document first, and then cutting and pasting it here. I don't seem to have trouble leaving comments at other blogs, so maybe this is just an issue here at mine?

~ Also, a brief Mittenstrings memo ~ since this Friday is Good Friday, I would like to bump our discussion of Chapter 3 (Peace) to next Friday, March 28th. Thanks to all who have been participating - I hope you are enjoying the book!

~ Let's see, what else? I am also trying to update my sideboards - our booklists, etc. I have started updating my blogroll too, which, come to find out, is seriously out of date. I am deleting blogs that no longer exist, and updating URL's where needed. Hope that hasn't been too confusing for anyone!

~ And finally, an admission: I have 1,135 emails in my inbox. That's crazy, isn't it?! I'd say it's time to tackle that "hot spot" too ...

Allrighty then, it's time to get EB packed up for therapy. I hope you all have a nice Tuesday. I'll check back in later today. :)

A Wee Bit O' Green!


On my way out to my Mittenstrings meeting last evening, a tiny flash of green caught my eye - our very first crocus shoots! This is the surest sign yet that Spring is on its way. :)

Today's a home day (at last!) and I have all kinds of things to think about and do ~

  • Finalize Easter menu; prepare errands list.
  • Prepare a post on "Morning" for tomorrow.
  • Finish up postcards - the last ones will be mailed this week!
  • Have tea-and-a-craft with the boys.
  • Finalize our Holy Week plans.
  • Look through store flyers; plan next week's menu.
  • Stay awake for Lost tonight.

I hope you all have a lovely Thursday. I'll check back in later today. :)

Thursday Thirteen: Miscellaneous Thoughts

Thirteen (little) things on my mind this brisk winter morning:Birdstophat 

1. SO much to chew on after our first book study meeting last night. It was wonderful, just as I knew it would be. These ladies are so dear to me; I am blessed by their friendship and support. Stay tuned for details about the online MFG discussion. I'm thinking maybe we can start with chapter one ("Dailiness") next week ...

2. As of 5:30 a.m., Crackerjack is laying in bed with a sippy cup of water and a "yucky" stomach. I'm hoping he just got up on the wrong side of the bed.*

3. We have Nature Club this afternoon at the park. Nature Sketching is the theme, and Bookworm is eager to use his fresh package of colored pencils. :)

4. A moderate snowstorm is on the way for Friday afternoon. This might put a crimp in our monthly Tween Night (movie showing: Far from Home ~ The Adventures of Yellow Dog).

5. Earlybird's speech therapist had her baby yesterday ~ a little girl! I can't wait to pick out something pink! We are very fortunate he will be seen by another therapist who knows him very well (from his social skills group) while D. is on maternity leave.

6. Re-assessing (and hopefully streamlining) my organizational tools. I really need to manage less stuff! I mean, how many planners can one mother have? ;)

7. Hippotherapy ~ we're looking into it for Earlybird.

8. Spring! (Wherefore art thou?) Making plans for a "kinder" garden, and combing through my Sharon Lovejoy books for ideas.

9. Tweaking our two-week menu plan to be more practical and varied. The Shaws flyer comes today so I hope to sit down and make a thoughtful list for my Saturday shopping. One of my main issues is I don't account for leftovers.

10. Late spring/early spring nature study plans. Making sure everyone has boots and slickers. (And that includes me.)

11. Our faith@home tea this afternoon (or tomorrow depending on Crackerjack's stomach). We'll be making a stations-of-the-cross notebook and watching more of The Animated Passion Trilogy.

12. Easter Sunday ~ it's just about a month away! I am sorely tempted to make up an "Easter" planning notebook, but trying to keep things simple (see #6). Stay tuned. :)

13. Shamrock Shakes are back at McDonald's! Bookworm and I love to indulge (once, maybe twice) in these annual treats. I see there's a homemade alternative ~ with natural food dye, this could be a treat for Earlybird, too!

*Update to #2 ~ Crackerjack officially has a stomach bug. So to this list I add clean the bathroom thoroughly. (When all is said and done, of course.) Nothing brings the state of your bathroom so sharply into focus as spending a half hour on the floor beside the toilet. (Ugh!)  CJ's one request before he crashed asleep ~ "I want Nana. Tell her to come at 12:00." And by golly, you can just bet my mum will be here today, Gatorade in hand, ready to comfort her boy. :)

So scratch #3; I'll have Bookworm sketch his ladybugs instead ... and I will be back when I can!

Notes from the Nest

On the dinner menu:Nest1_2

On the housekeeping list:

  • Clean kitchen sink & counters with lemony scrub.
  • Go through refrigerator and cabinets.
  • Begin marketing list & menu plan for next week.
  • Clean trash bins.

On the home learning list:

  • Lessons: math, language arts, history.
  • Work on US state notebooks.
  • Write out Valentines. :)
  • Watch first part of The Animated Passion Trilogy.

Other little notes:

~ Very disappointed The Globe came without the Food Section! Bill is going to ask around at work and see if he can scare up a copy for me.

~ Find a granola bar recipe for a delicious cherry-vanilla granola Bill brought home. (Will be perfect for Presidents' Day next week!)

~ Celebrate National Clean out your Computer Day one day late; go through (virtual) inbox. Neaten (actual) desk area.

~ Prepare for The Great Backyard Bird Count beginning this Friday. Print out forms and familiarize ourselves with rules.

~ Continue watching Pride & Prejudice with Bill tonight. :)