Moments of Peace Feed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anyhoo.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But how about January's full moon?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

More comforts and joys ...

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These guys - 'nuff said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A final thought before I go -

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

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

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


Tea @ Dawn's ~ Fading Light, Cranberries & Frost ❤

Hello my friends, and Happy Friday! Thank you so much for joining me ... I am so pleased to welcome you to "my place" for Tea. ❤IMG_9532 (1)

As I announced last week, I am bringing back my blog "Teatimes," in a celebration of Late Autumn,Winter Holidays ... and the very comfort and joy that is Tea!

By necessity of course, my Teatimes are virtual -  but my hope is that my words and pictures will make you feel like you have truly popped in for a cozy visit. And I like to imagine you're savoring something you love while you read my post - perhaps a cup of freshly brewed coffee, mulled cider or hot chocolate if you're not one for tea. :-)

Here at my home I'll always have a pretty mug of tea in hand, and a sweet or savory seasonal snack to share ... as well as many seasonal snippets revolving around: current projects, nature news, corners of my home, kitchen notes, holiday preparations, my kids, my journals and my seasonal planners, etc.!

I am also hoping some of you will join me this season in sharing your tea virtually - whether in pics, thoughts, recipes, etc.! I am happy to include your submissions here in my post and/or link to your own post elsewhere. And please feel free to share my Teas wherever you'd like! I am grateful to my dear friend Kim of Ordinary Days of Small Things for her lovely post - I knew I could count on Kim for her enthusiasm and support! And MY goodness, just take a peek at her beautiful Teatime banner! I am quite honored by her kind words and creative design. ❤

* And this just in! Please stop by Kim's for her Teatime post today! It is chock-FULL of wonderful seasonal ideas! (Thanks so much, Kim!) *

Now, for today, I would like to offer you a comfy cup of my favorite autumn brew ... the very gently spiced and soothingly citrus, Constant Comment. Today I am serving it in a sweet little pumpkin mug (a Stop 'n Shop find!) because ... 'tis the season for pumpkins!

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Did you happen to pass these pretties on your way up my drive? It's such a lovely New England tradition - pumpkins lined up on a stone wall in the fall!

And speaking of pumpkins, the treat I'm serving at Tea today is not a slice of pumpkin bread as you might suspect ... but rather, an apple-squash variation! I followed my favorite quick bread recipe using up some leftover butternut squash and spiced applesauce from our Halloween party. The two flavors combined beautifully and the bread turned out tender and moist. This easy recipe is always a hit in our family, especially because it makes not one but TWO loaves!

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On Sunday I am planning to bake up an old family recipe called, Poor Man's Cake. It's something my grandmother made quite often and was a favorite of my grandfather's. I like to bake this for Martinmas (the Feast of St. Martin) which is this coming Monday. It's actually quite delicious and especially nice with a cup of strong Irish tea! (Grampa's beverage of choice.)

 

✨Fading Light✨

Now, if you've followed my blog for some time then you know we like to live and learn around a rhythm of weekly seasonal themes. When my boys were little this made up the bulk of our homeschooling "curriculum,"  but as they grow, I continue to keep the seasons by fostering awareness and appreciation in our home while tweaking activities to fit our family members' interests more authentically.

So this week our seasonal theme is "Fading Light," in honor of the darkening days at this time of year. I always schedule this theme for right before or just after Daylight Savings Time ends. (We pushed the clocks back last Sunday.)

Here are some of my ideas for this week's activities as noted in my Late Autumn bullet journal:

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This page shown here is my seasons keeping page, found smack dab in between the two-page weekly planning spread! (Please see last week's post for a more thorough explanation of how I set up my journals.)

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Happily, Fading Light  is a theme that is very easy to explore, because there are so many nuances to the concept!

In Late Autumn, the earth is slowing down and nature needs her rest - the shorter and darker days means better sleep! (This is a wonderful theme to weave into storytelling with the children, especially those that are sad to see their gardens wither.)

And just like the natural world around us, we have our OWN need for rest in what is usually a very busy time of year! It can be hard to resist the pull of the "hustle and bustle," but quieter evenings and solid sleep are often just the fuel we need to keep our own inner lights burning.

Around our homes we find special ways to bring extra light into our life ... making colorful homemade lanterns, twining strings of lights through leafy garlands, setting tea lights in dark windows, taking the time to notice and honor the sunset - perhaps with a special prayer of thanks for another day together here on earth ...

Stopping the car just to marvel over a soft, milky sky...

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November's sun may be weaker than June's - but it's certainly no less lovely!

One of our favorite November pastimes is to make lanterns for Marintmas. Yesterday Little Bear and I sat down in the (sunny!) kitchen to do just that ...

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I like to try a new lantern craft every year, but this time we kept it super simple. We took a piece of watercolor paper and attached some leaf shapes with a dab of glue stick. Then Little Bear started painting (with watercolors) ...

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This boy could paint for hours - he's a big fan of Bob Ross, fyi! I love the playful shades he chose ...

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After the picture was dry we carefully peeled off the leaves ...

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And then we stapled the ends of the paper together to form a lantern shape.

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It was fun to line up lanterns from festivals past as we watched the sun go down ...

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At 4:30 p.m.!

It's a lovely, peaceful thing to sit quietly in a darkening room, appreciating the lights - and the darkness!

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(Here are two older posts  - Martinmas Day with My Boys and Lovely Lanterns for Martinmas - which show a few different lantern options. It's a very simple yet satisfying craft! One of my favorite Martinmas traditions is the lantern walk we take at dusk on November 11th. It's just us - with our lanterns - traipsing about our yard as the sun goes down, but it's yet another sweet, seasonal memory I hope my children carry with them as they go about making their own lives.)

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We can bring light inside our hearts too ... by doing things that fire us up!

❤ favorite hobbies and pastimes

❤ spending time with people we love

❤ doing things together that makes us happy

❤ remembering to be grateful for the many blessings in our life

❤ finding ways to give to others in need ... 

Kicking off the month of November with this theme of light and darkness, I thought it would be nice to weave light into our annual gratitude project! So here's what I put together ...

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Burlap ribbon runner in the front window √

LED votive candles, one for each day leading up to Thanksgiving (28) √

Kraft paper leaf cut-outs (lots) √

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Every day we write on a leaf (or leaves) something we were grateful for and/or something we did to help someone else. We place those leaves beside a candle and light it once the day grows dark.

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(The silver votives represent Sundays - when we reflect a little more deeply on the blessings we have received, and hopefully bestowed.)

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Adding one light each night, our window will be brilliant come Thanksgiving eve! Oliver apparently approves. :-)

Now speaking of Thanksgiving ...

 

✨Cranberries✨

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Next week our seasonal theme will be At the Autumn Bog  - aka Cranberry week! I'll be sharing more ideas over at Instagram in the days to come, but to begin with, here's an old post from 2011 with some ideas for exploring this tiny tart berry.

And what you see above is our attempt to create a signature "mocktail" for Thanksgiving! We'll have a lot of young kids this year at our holiday table so I wanted to have something special for them to drink. (Aside from the usual apple juice and milk!) 

We're calling this fun, festive drink a "Frosty Cranberry," and we're still tinkering with the final recipe! For one thing, I'm planning to use citrus zest-infused white sugar not this decorative red but you get the idea. (P.S. I use India Tree (plant-dye-based) Sparkling Sugars in my holiday baking.) 

Now, full disclosure: I loosely based this mocktail on a ginger-beer-based drink I saw on Pinterest, but I wanted to make it a little more child-friendly. We took a glass and wet the rim with a cut orange. We then dipped the rim in the sugar and filled the glass with ice. Next, we poured in cranberry juice, about halfway up the glass. Lastly we added crisp, apple-flavored sparkling water and it foamed and fizzed quite prettily!

The initial taste test went ... ok ... but Little Bear felt it was a tad too tart, so after I took pictures we added some orange juice which not only made it sweeter, it changed the shade of the beverage to a gorgeous "autumn sunset" red-orange. I think the kids will like it  and I am going to find some cute acrylic "glasses" for them to use - for safety reasons, natch!

In the meantime, next Tuesday night I'll mull a pot of cranberry-apple cider on the stove in celebration of The Full Beaver Moon. And you're probably thinking: what might beavers have to do with cranberries? But see I'm going with the whole "bog" theme next week ... cranberries grow there, and beavers live there!

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(Spotted at our Audubon Nature Class this week!)

Despite the fact that we live in a state rich with cranberry bogs, I'm not planning to trek my kids down to Cape Cod next week. Instead we will visit a local "quaking bog" which if nothing else features a really lovely, late autumn landscape. We do happen to have plenty of ponds and creeks in our town and if we wish, we can easily observe a beaver's lodge from a safe distance.

But, moving on ... because November's full moon is ALSO known as the Full FROST moon ... the next theme we'll be exploring is:

 

✨Frost✨

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I cannot tell you how happy we were to see that first frost this year! I think I mentioned in an earlier post how challenging outdoor activities had become here in Massachusetts (and many surrounding communities) with an escalating and extreme threat of mosquito-borne viruses. Now that we've finally had a hard frost, we can relax for a while.

Frost may kill off mosquitos (and flowers and other tender plants) but it also brings back our dear little snowbirds, the Juncos - a species we look for every year in late October. Dark-eyed Juncos are lovely little birds that fly north for the summer (leaving around Easter) and return to New England just as the cold weather returns.

I spotted my first Junco around Halloween, but have yet to get a decent picture. Here's one little fella perched in a pear tree yesterday morning!

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So this week we'll talk a little about ol' Jack Frost - I have some sweet verses to read, and a peg doll story to tell - and weather folklore in general. Isn't that vintage illustration above sweet? I plan to show it to Little Bear and weave a little story about the Chipmunk who wasn't quite ready to hibernate ... he was too busy helping his jolly friend Jack paint those leaves!

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And now for a few random things I'd just like to share ...

(By now I'm sure you all need a fresh cuppa ... and please help yourself to another slice of apple-squash cake!)

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Digging into my reading basket! It's my favorite month of the year for magazines! What magazines do you like to read?

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And here's a sunny window set up for seasonal exploration ...

We read In November every year during the first week of the month and it's just such a lovely book - that happens to feature an illustration of Juncos(!) which of course ties in nicely with our nature study. Windows is another perennial favorite - a sweet and simple tale following a young boy on an evening walk through his neighborhood, finding comfort and joy in all those glowing, interesting windows. I like to pair this book with a "windows walk" of our own one night! Our Little Bear is a wee bit afraid of the dark, so we're always looking for ways to soothe his anxiety and reassure him there is nothing to be afraid of, if we can look for the lights - while understanding the dark a little better.

And in the foreground is our gorgeous nature poetry book (a daily staple in our homeschool!) open to this week's poems. Timely too, since we had a merry bonfire just last weekend, another annual tradition around the first of November. Last week's theme was "goodnight, garden" so we were burning branches from a Halloween windstorm as well as plenty of withered garden debris.

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I was simply enchanted by this beautiful artwork, found online - and it's now my phone wallpaper! I suppose one might look at this painting and find it a little eerie, but honestly, I see it as rather comforting. In the midst of all that dark and fog, the house with its beaming window, a loved one looking out from within, represents a safe, solid harbor. Dotted in the landscape are more bright beacons, welcoming other weary travelers home. 

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And speaking of welcome ... it's such a universal, human thing, to breathe a sigh of relief when we finally turn that last bend and our favorite place in this world comes into view ...

I was just pulling up our drive after dropping Earlybird at school, but I had to stop and relish that gorgeous foliage-enhanced light. I was tired (EB had me up super early and I had a whole host of things I wanted to attend to once I got home) and yet, how could I not pause and absorb all this lovely, autumnal light? How could I not take a moment to feel thankful for my blessings - for my very breath - and yes, even for the busy-ness of my day ahead. All the little things that would need my attention after one more deep and gratifying inhale/exhale ...

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And finally, here is my Little Bear at his Audubon Nature Class this week - simply thrilled to hold a garter snake! Our autumn classes have now come to an end, but we'll return to the sanctuary in January, eager to explore the wonders of the winter woods with our amazing Audubon teachers and homeschool families! 

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Well my friends, I am so very thankful to you all for joining me for tea today. I know this was a very LONG post, but I do hope you enjoyed it! I truly enjoyed sharing all these thoughts and pictures with you all ... and of course, the pumpkin-squash-apple-orange-spice ALL KINDS OF AUTUMN GOODNESS Tea! ❤

Remember, if you'd like to join me in my Late Autumn & Winter Teatimes - I'll be posting here every other week through the season - just zip me an email with your submission (or link).

drhanigan AT gmail DOT com

And of course, I'd love to hear from you in a comment below!

Enjoy the weekend ahead my friends ... I'll see you here again very soon!


From Nest to Nest ... ❤

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Good Wednesday morning, my friends! I'm up super early here (thanks to my Earlybird) which means a little writing time before sunrise. :) I would love to share a couple of cozy corners from my readers today ... it's going to be a wet, foggy and cold day here in New England - perfect nest weather! What's it like where you live today?

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First from, Lisa ~ a link to her lovely website where she is talking about the Danish concept of "hygge" and how she and her family are living Advent in their home, aka "Wit's End." I'm honored to share a little of her post here, but invite you to click over and read the rest of her wonderfully cozy details ... :)

"I'm planning to devote some time during the lovely upcoming winter months to delving deeper in hygge, learning more about its origins while celebrating all those hygge things I already embrace: candlelight, comfortable chairs, pools of warm lamplight (as opposed to that horrid, harsh overhead lighting), teatime, books, leisurely dinners with friends and family, warm blankets, the fire crackling in the stove."

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"This is where I read - on my own and to my kids (I was reading this book to my older sons when my water broke with my youngest twelve years ago). Watch tv, write occasionally, sip tea, watch the fire, stare out the window. I've even been known to fall asleep here on occasion (especially on late Christmas mornings, following the early rush)."

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"This is where I do nearly all my writing - a fan for noise control year round, a small space heater by my feet during the winter months."

 
Oh my gosh, Lisa - the lighting, the colors, the softness of the whole room! This is just so lovely. Your chair looks so comfy, and I love the fabric! And I also love how you have your desk placed at a kitty-corner facing the room ... that gives me a little idea for my own writing desk which I was rearranging yesterday. This is such an inspiring post, and I thank you for joining our happy Nest party!
 
Friends, to read more of Lisa's thoughts (and see more of her gorgeous photos), please pop on over to Wit's End and have a look around. I'm sure you'll want to settle right in for a spell! :)
 
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And now, let's hear from cath ...
 
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"My nest is empty, so making a nest and filling it with feathers was a comforting idea for me!  

I am watching the day go by as the sun starts to lower in the western sky. First day of buck season, man and the boy in and out ... Wondering when he's going to ask for baby girls hand? (It is coming... This trip?)

Baby girl and the boy are home for the Thanksgiving week, thank you God for safe travel in over a 10 hour drive! Thank you God for warmer than usual weather as they soon will travel north back to their nest.... Thank you God for this wonderful visit! 

Today I enjoyed watching baby girl while she watched one of the Star Trek movies and wrapped Christmas gifts ... (I hear we are a minority, never having watched them). I piddled around at the kitchen table with her in view and was in charge of the yarn ribbons when the time came. 

Outside my kitchen window, the chickadees have found the newly filled bird feeders.... Sunflower seeds. Waiting to see who else shows up in the next few days.

We kicked off Advent with Ann Voskamp's "the night before Advent" hot cocoa party and soft jammie bottoms for baby girl and the boy... Fluffy socks and a candle for my nest. I'm excited to begin the journey this Advent with Ann as the story of Christmas will unfold. Also slowly reading The Women of Christmas by Liz Curtis Higgs... And filling my journal with prayers and thoughts.  

The house is all decorated which frees me for lots of craft time from that empty nest ... I have it lined with lots of feathers to keep my hands busy while I promise myself to enjoy as many Christmas Hallmark movies as I can! Counted cross-stitch ornaments, white lights on white, warm candles aglow ...  

Filling my head with plans for tomorrow as as a car travels north .... Time to share her with the boy's family ... Lots of feathers to fluff, lots of things to focus on until the January wind blows and we celebrate a late Christmas Eve ... 

On the bright side of the empty nest....
  More time to cross-stitch....
  More time to enjoy the tree....
  More time to watch movies and attend all the Christmas rush of things so that once again we can be with just her :)
 
 

***

Oh, cath - such a beautiful post! Your love for your family shines through and your Christmas preparations sound so soothing and satisfying ... unfolding at a steady pace. I love the way you described "piddling" in the kitchen while your baby girl wrapped gifts. There is such love in working alongside each other, immersed in our own things, but keeping company just the same. I'd love to hear back sometime if you have a chance on who else shows up at your birdfeeders! This is the season to watch for those new feathered friends! 

Enjoy this special time, cath, and thank you again for inviting us into your nest ... :)

Dear friends,

I have so enjoyed seeing and hearing about your cozy nests ... I'm so glad it's something we can all work on together and share how we're preparing for the long winter ahead. Today I will be puttering around in my own nest (with a toddler underfoot!) as I clean the corners and dust the drapes and tidy the shelves as best I can. In another week my nest room will become The Christmas Room, and I want to make room for all the decorations (most notably the TREE!) and ALL those book baskets! :)

I would love to see your cozy corner, too, if you have a moment sometime! Or perhaps hear about your Advent Tea? Please send me your thoughts at:

bysunandcandle AT gmail DOT com

I look forward to hearing from you, and wish you all a good day! Tomorrow I will tell you all about our outdoor Advent calendar ... the boys are enjoying it very much so far! :)

❤


From Nest to Nest ... ❤

Cozy nest button

Hello, and Happy Wednesday, my friends! We've one more day till Thanksgiving and it will be a busy one for me - but I wanted to pop in while I had a moment and share this lovely nest post from Amy. It is full of her sweet, homey blessings, and this is a perfect day to reflect on our own - I hope you enjoy!

***

Dawn, thank you so much for another opportunity to blog on your blog... since mine is wholly neglected. This is an especially helpful and timely assignment (to find ourselves a nest and to feather it for the season) as I was truly just planning to write out some thoughts to myself about our big old house. I do believe that this giant abode came to us as a gift from our Heavenly Father, it's quite a story how it all happened. And yet, it's big! It's cold! It needs so many repairs! The size of our house is rather inefficient, and I know families with far more children who have much smaller houses, and I can't help but wonder, what are we doing here? And so I wanted to write out our house story and try to look at the bigger picture, try to recapture God's vision for our family at this time and in this house. I thought that it would also help with my feelings of being overwhelmed, if I could maybe grasp at God's purposes.

And so this assignment from you was just the impetus for me to get started. Just yesterday I noticed the gorgeous warm sun streaming through the window over the couch where I often sit, and I knew I had to photograph it. Here are two photos of my regular sitting spots (the third being the kitchen table) with the blessings I was suddenly able to realize. I hope you don't mind my sharing the blessings as the way to explain my "nests." Hopefully someone else will be uplifted by reading this, too, which really is the main reason I visit the blogs of other women!
 
The first photo shows our living room couch, which I sit in often during the day to read stories with our youngest, or at night to do something quiet. It's nowhere near the TV, for which I am very thankful! My night activities (if I get any at all) would mostly include reading a book, knitting, perhaps writing a letter or working things out for myself on paper, or very rarely some internet browsing on my laptop. There are usually some lap blankets there as well but our two-year-old has gotten into a hoarding habit and he has those someplace else in his "tool pile." 
 
Cozy corner amy 1
 
When I look at this photo, I see:
 
- The southern exposure picture window, which lets in sun for most of the day;
- The radiator that my husband lovingly salvaged when we redid the heating system a few years ago - we didn't want to use modern (boring) heaters in this beautiful old home. And this radiator works wonders!
- The bookshelf full of quality picture books, many of which we've been reading for 19 years now. It also houses plenty of saint biographies and homeschool overflow, and puzzles!
- My "end table," again a quality toy which we received as a gift when our oldest was turning one year. We added the second box of Duplos a few years ago. It's just right to be a modular surface. :)
- The mug, which my oldest daughter gave me for last Christmas, full of hot tea, which was soon to be replaced by a paper cup full of decaf Starbucks - thanks to my thoughtful husband! As much as decaf is a disappointment, Starbucks seems to do an acceptable - sometimes even tasty - version.
- Under the couch, the electric keyboard which has kept all five children entertained easily and quietly at different points over the years, and inherited from my eccentric great aunt.
 
The second photo shows the rocking chair next to another bookcase, which really used to be my husband's "nest" and sometimes still is, though I've been sneaking into it during the days when I think I have a few minutes - often when the kids are engaged in the kitchen with a snack. :)
 
Cozy corner amy 2
 
In this photo I see these blessings:
 
-The old rocker from my own childhood, which is just the perfect fit for my husband's frame. He loves that chair and I can see him in it for many more decades.
-The CD player that my husband bought for me to replace our old one, so that I could keep using physical copies of music when he and our older children were going completely digital. I didn't feel that I had good access that way - and now, my youngest stands in that chair listening to his "nap music" for many tracks at a time.
- Attached is the radio receiver, which allows me to absorb quality Catholic programming at any hour of the day! What a blessing that has been, so edifying! 
- My knitting, which I've been able to start up again now that our littlest is becoming (slightly) more independent. (He's hanging on me right now, singing an impatient song...) Though it seems like I'm never accomplishing anything, the minute or two I spend on a single row accumulates into a full-sized heirloom product. 
- The stacks of books: my husband's home brew books mingling with my Bible and classics. Like the knitting, a minute or two stolen away for reading a few sentences does build up over time, and I managed, in those stolen moments, to read a 400+ page biography!
 
Not shown in the photo is another great blessing, another nest, in our living room: the fireplace! We restored it when we moved in, and fit it with an insert, and we've had 8 winters of kids piled up on the floor in front of it with their favorite books. It was also the favored spot for our oldest daughter to do her homework once she was in the public high school. Seeing that fireplace yesterday and remembering all the hours she sat sitting there, maybe reading some Shakespeare for her own enjoyment, has excited me for her return home to us this weekend!
 
May you have a splendid feast with your family, and may all your readers be reminded of God's goodness to us in all the small things.
 
***
 
Amy, thank you so much for welcoming us into your nests - they are lovely! And thank you for sharing your thoughts, I especially love what you say here:
 
"And so I wanted to write out our house story and try to look at the bigger picture, try to recapture God's vision for our family at this time and in this house."
I am of a similar mind when I consider my own home. Our move here 2 1/2 years ago happened in such a crazy flurry of quick decisions - we literally went from planning a remodel of our old home - because we truly loved it there and couldn't imagine moving - to very suddenly deciding to move, then bidding on the third house we saw a week later, and then closing on said house two months later! In a way I felt like we were on auto-pilot, following a plan that we had resisted initially, to reality suddenly making perfect sense. I was so resistant to the moving idea, but woke one morning feeling at complete peace and with an urge to find a more suitable place. I knew this was God helping me make the decision I hadn't been able to make on my own - and giving me deep peace over it. Sometimes I wonder how it all happened in that way! Two months after that morning epiphany we were settled into this new house  - HOME now - and we did it all with a newborn in tow! Anyhoo, I didn't meant to go on like that, only to say that your idea resonated with me ... I want to sit down and write out that whole experience and remember how we came to live in our forever home in a unique and memorable way.
 
But to get back to your post, I love how you interpreted this "assignment." By looking at your nest and seeing the blessings therein ... and what a great lesson for all of us! How does our nest bless us (nourish us), and how can we use it to bless/nourish others? I LOVE this. I will have to ponder this idea a bit - my own new assignment! :)
 
My friends, please drop a note for Amy if you have questions or comments ... and how about you take a look around your own nest today and see all the things there that bless you? The comforts, the joys, the reminders of all the dear people in your life. I hope maybe tonight, on this eve of Thanksgiving, that will give you some peace and perhaps inspiration as well. There is always room for more gratitude in our hearts!
 
Well, everyone, I must be going, but my sincere thanks to Amy for sharing her nest with us, and to all of you for stopping by. I will be offline for a bit while we celebrate the great holiday tomorrow, but you know I will be back here again very soon!
 
❤

From Nest to Nest ... ❤

Cozy nest button

Happy Tuesday, my friends!

As I write (type), the sun is still fairly bright in the sky, it's a chill 42°, and my youngest is (finally) sound asleep. With the rest of the family off fending for themselves, I'm finding some quiet time to sit and work on a post. My mind is straying to the cleaning and baking that needs doing before Thursday, but that all can wait for an hour or so ... because I have another nest to share. :)

This sweet nest belongs to Gill and she enjoys it way across the globe in snowy Norway! (Isn't the Internet grand?) Please read on and enjoy ...

***

Dear Dawn,

Here is my little corner nest, where I have my work basket and magazine rack close to hand. We actually have bright sunshine today after weeks of fog, and the snow is dazzling outside!

Cozy corner gill 1

When I sit here I can see bird feeders in the rowan and birch trees and the view is across two fields to our barns and then to the river, with hills behind. There was a greater spotted woodpecker on the feeder earlier, but now just the usual selection of tits, sparrows, finches and a nuthatch or two. There are usually a few of my hens underneath, foraging for spilled seeds and nuts too!

My mantleshelf is always decorated for the season and beside it, just out of the photo is my small writing desk with my Bible, prayer books and framed family photos on it.

Cozy corner gill 3

As soon as I got up to take the photos for you our smallest kitten hopped up to take my place! She is one of three, now nine weeks old. The curtains are knotted up as a deterrent to curtain climbing (although a previous batch of kittens discovered that they actually make a cosy hammock to sleep inside!). I have my tea in my favourite Emma Bridgwater mug that says, "Mother."

Cozy corner gill 2

It is a peaceful spot, and I can relax to the sound of the clock ticking (it just chimed two) and the whir of the heat driven fan on top of the woodstove. There is a contented purring from the kittens' mother cat as she nurses another kitten and a clattering and scrabbling from a more adventurous one as he explores the room. But now his siblings have scampered off to join him and my geriatric cuckoo clock has called three! It is no longer able to tell the correct time, or even coordinate its calls with the time on the dial, let alone the real time, but it has been a happy accompaniment to my children's whole lives and I love to hear it still! 

This rest time, from two to half past, usually, is always spent in this corner, reading or writing in my journal, or catching up a little online. ðŸ˜‰ In the evenings I sit and work at my knitting, crochet or sewing here.

Thank you for inviting us all to tea! I am looking forwards to the chatting later.

Gill.

***

Gill, there is so much I love about your nest I hardly know where to start! Well, actually, yes I do - I'l start with that KITTEN. Oh my goodness, such sweetness. As you know, I am a cat person too, and I do love black kitties very much. Our first cats were black and whites and calicos - including one all-black, handsome fella. Though I adore my marmalade boys, Archie and Ollie, my first cats will always have a special place in my heart. :)

But back to your nest, Gill! I love these colors, so much. I usually say yellow is my favorite color, but I am always so drawn to red. Especially red paired with cozy colors ... like the tartan plaid of your blanket and the granny squares of your pillow and the pretty embroidery on the napkin tucked under your mug. (LOVE Emma mugs!)

I like how you have so many fabrics at play here, too ... such a great way to add comfort and eye-appeal. And second in cuteness to that kitten is your adorable beehive tea cozy!

And what a sweet mantelshelf to gaze upon, and the view from your windows sounds lovely, too. As I read this passage I thought, Gill's feeders sound exactly like mine - including the hens! (Though "my hens" belong to my neighbors.) And here we are a whole ocean apart ... :)

Gill, thank you so much for taking the time to photograph and comment on your own cozy nest. I so enjoyed seeing it and you have given me some ideas for my own - like digging my Gram's afghans out of the hope chest for starters!

My friends, I hope you enjoyed this tour of Gill's nest ... won't you consider sharing yours, too? Maybe you have a spot of your own, that you always return to (or home, keeping in theme!) or perhaps these posts will encourage you to organize something like this for yourself. It's the perfect time of year to do so!

Please leave a comment for Gill or myself below, and/or you are welcome to email me your thoughts/pics/links anytime that's convenient for you - I'll be posting about nests all season long!

bysunandcandle AT gmail DOT com

(Feel free to grab the "nest button" at the top of the post.)

Enjoy the rest of your Tuesday, my friends ... see you here again very soon!

❤


My Thanksgiving Tea Journal, 2015

Thanks tea button

Happy Monday, my friends! It's Thanksgiving week here in America, quite possibly my favorite week all year! All over the country, folks are traveling home to their families, looking forward to a day of togetherness, thankfulness ... and feasting! I love spending this week spiffing up my home and setting tables and baking stuff and listening to music ... but most of all, I love that deep sense of just HOW blessed we are to be doing all of this in the first place. To have loved ones to gather with, and a warm, safe home to gather in ... food to put on the table, with some extra to share.

❤

So today I am kicking off my Advent Tea Journal, with a post that is - ok, yes - several days ahead of Advent. But I wanted to start our journey before we get swept up in the season! Does a weekly teatime sound good to you? A brief time each week to sit down (in our cozy nests) and share how we're living the season? 

Well here's what I'm dong on my end! On this Monday and those to come in December, I will share my tea journal notes along with some photos of my home and holiday preparations ... and then I will touch upon our weekly discussion theme. (This week: Simplifying the Season.) And I would LOVE to have you join me! You can leave me a comment here, or send me an email with your own notes and pics, or perhaps link me up with a post at your own blog! (Feel free to grab the tea button here or in this post.) We'll continue our conversation throughout the week, and I'll add you in as the days go by - no rush to get me something by Monday!

> bysunandcandle AT gmail DOT com <

Now onward with our Thanksgiving Tea ... are you settled in and ready to chat? :)

What refreshments am I enjoying this week?

Thanks tea 5

My Thanksgiving Tea shown above is a bit "rustic and random" - not quite the "Victoria" moment I had originally envisioned, lol - but all that color and clutter is who I am these days! A sturdy (inexpensive) acorn mug and some ginger cookies to share with my little guy ...

And here's my cute little tea box, a gift from my sister-in-law:

Thanksgiving tea 3

I keep a LOT of tea on hand - some of you might remember my tea drawer from years back? Well nowadays my main tea stash is kept in my pantry, but I like to use this nifty box for holding the teas I'm drinking currently. It holds plenty of packets and fits nicely in a kitchen cabinet. (You could do something similar with a basket or divided tin.)

As for the cookies, well, you all know I love to bake ... but sometimes baking a batch of scratch cookies just doesn't mesh with the overall busy-ness of the household. (And this would be one of those weeks!) But these break-apart cookies are made from natural ingredients so Earlybird can enjoy them along with the rest of us. They could be frosted but honestly, they're even better on their own - they're quite yummy and the seasonal spices really come through!

What am I reading this week?

Thanks tea 4

Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids

I've had this book on my shelf for a while now - almost two years! - and I've read bits and pieces, but I'd like to go through it chapter by chapter, slowly but surely. This premise resonates with me, yet I'm a great one for making things more complicated than they need to be. With an eye toward the New Year (as I think about general goals and plans for the months to come as well as our home environment) I'm trying to create a slower world for myself and my kids. More on that as we move forward through the season!

What am I listening to this week?

Do you enjoy listening to music in your nest? I find my normal "household soundtrack" provides plenty of erm, stimulation so to say, so any added sound can be a bit much ... but I do love some music at the holidays!

Thanksgiving tea 3 (1)

This traditional song is pretty much is all I need, and belted out with gusto by small voices is best. This is a page from a beautiful little book of poems, a thoughtful and generous gift from a reader last year. But I also love listening to music from A Charlie Brown Thankgiving and George Winston's Autumn as well as this gorgeous song. Do you have any favorite Thanksgiving music?

What am I working on this week?

We have the honor of hosting our family's Thanksgiving so that's my focus this week! There's a lot that goes into planning a season or holiday, and trying to keep things simple is a challenge! But I have found by starting early, I have a much better chance of maintaining a less frenetic atmosphere - for myself and those around me! And this "peace" contributes greatly to a simplified season. So here are some of the things I've been working on ahead of Thanksgiving ...

Thanksgiving tea 4

Once we know how many guests to expect, we can decide which tables to use and where to arrange them as well as what tablecloths and napkins to prepare. About a week ahead of the holiday I find a day when I will be home for several hours - then I can wash and dry and fold the linens without any lag time in-between. We all know what happens when we only finish part of the laundering cycle - smelly, wrinkled linens! Then out comes the iron or we have to start all over again ...

The other thing is, if I leave this task too close to Thanksgiving, it feels like a chore ... I feel rushed and even (in my less generous moments) a bit put-upon. By doing things like this well ahead of time, at a time of my choosing, I focus instead on the beauty of it. I think about the people coming to dine with us, at our table, and how nice the setting will look for them. In this way, I focus on the pleasure of the chore, not the pressure of it.

How about tablescapes then? This is another thing I like to think about early, so I can be a little thoughtful and creative with it ... as well as economical!

Thanksgiving tea 1

There will be flowers for sure - I can never resist fresh blooms at the holidays - but I also like to tap into the treasures to be found in our very own yard. Acorns, pinecones, dried flowers and weeds, interesting rocks, colorful leaves - the possibilities are endless! A lovely activity would be to take the children on a "gathering walk" early in the month of November. (Earlier the better if you want a small share of the acorn crop!) Here we have some glass bowls filled with our acorn stash and a small beeswax tea light candle. I may even tuck some autumn leaves under the globes. Now, you could use any bowls you have on hand ... and if you can't find acorns, cranberries from the market would also be beautiful! Once Thanksgiving is over, we will scatter these seeds on the deck ... and watch them disappear!

Here are some of my pretty baking pans - easy to collect, hard to give away!

Thanksgiving tea 6

 But when we're blessed, we want to bless others back. It's a great theme to work on at this time of year, especially with children! Because the simplest way to celebrate this season (and the next) is to just give. Give to others, give of ourselves ... it's a sure path to joy! That's a message I want my children to learn and practice in their own life as they grow. There will be more on this particular theme next week, but for now, how about setting aside time to bake together and make some extra for those people who have helped us or befriended us in some way?

Here's a little bit of a story, but I hope you'll indulge me. So this is a big deal for my 13-year-old Earlybird: making friends and learning to be a friend. He's autistic and we're working with a wonderful therapist on getting him out in the community, learning how to conduct his affairs in a polite and practical manner. Well, those folks who take the time to help him - even just a friendly greeting each time we see them - are blessing our son in ways they don't even realize. So this year we're baking breads (something EB loves to do) and bringing them to those special people in our life ...

Like the librarian who patiently helps him check out his planet books and train DVDs, the pizza place owner who greets him heartily and lets him visit the kitchen (and asks after EB when he's not with us), the grocery store clerk who gives him a high-five and tells him he's doing a great job (and then quietly tells me the same), the neighbor who lets him visit her henhouse and take home an egg, the therapist who works with him every single day and tells him over and over how awesome he is ...

These people can't know just how deeply they are blessing us, and a bread is a pretty small gesture, but one I hope will bless them back, even a little. No, it won't make my week simpler to bake with my son and deliver breads around town, but it will make us feel good ... and maybe a few others, too. :)

What's happening in nature?

Now this was the part where I was going to attempt sharing a short video ... but alas, I did not get very far! (In other words, Bill left for work before I got his help with it!) I would very much like to try this sometime soon, and as it happens Bill is home all week after today ... so we shall see! I can tell you it is bright and brisk here today, very "Thanksgiving in New England." :) A beautiful buck crossed our road on the way to Mass early yesterday morning ... he stopped and looked back at us from a frosty field. Gorgeous. And birds are furiously flocking to the feeders (squirrels, too) but no wild turkeys to report ...

Thanks tea 1

Well, except for these guys who I found at CVS for $2 each. I buy these foil-wrapped candies every year "for the kids" but they lend a little color and whimsy to our buffet. :)

A project with the children this week ...

Thanksgiving tea 7

Here's our living room mantle, adorned with a garland of family blessings. We're in the home stretch now - there are only a few blank leaves left in the basket! This was a very simple project, but the message I'm hoping it imparts to my children is that we are grateful for all of God's blessings, and that every good thing comes from Him. Some blessings are BIG, but lots of them are little. In fact, if you were to read through our leaves they would not impress you with meaningful remarks on the Big, Important Things ... but they might make you smile with their simple, sweet, smallness:

"the cats "

"pears and hot dogs"

"packages in the mail"

"dirty boots"

"rain"

Sometimes I think by focusing on the simple joys in life, we train ourselves in a kind of habit - a mindfulness that prepares us to see the big things for how great they really are. I think this is something really important to share with our children, but equally important to remember ourselves.

Words to inspire:

 "Life holds so many simple blessings, each day bringing its own individual wonder."

~ John McLeod

What a lovely quote for my season's journal ... it says perfectly what I'm always rambling on about in a very roundabout way. ;)

Oak leaves branch
Well, my friends, I'd best let you go ... I've kept you here long enough! But 
I hope you enjoyed my Thanksgiving tea Journal ... and I would love to hear from you, too!

What refreshments are you enjoying this week?

What are you reading this week?

What are you listening to this week?

What are you working on this week?

What's happening in nature this week?

Any projects with the children this week?

(and finally)

Any quotations to share, some words to inspire?

I'd love to see your tea, hear about your tea, your week and/or your thoughts on keeping it simple. This will be a good topic to discuss as we head into the "most wonderful time of the year." Is there ever a time when "keeping things simple" is harder to manage than in the weeks leading up to Christmas?

Comments, email, links - ooh, and nest pics! - all are welcome! More on Advent and simplifying our seasons in my following posts. We have many weeks of tea to come and lots of areas to discuss! I am hoping to use this weekly "refreshment" as a chance to sit back and take stock. Am I keeping it real? Am I staying true to the season?

For a look ahead, please click over to this post for my full tea schedule. And remember, all are welcome - brief comments or lengthy posts. I appreciate each and every contribution.

❤

Thanks so much for stopping by, my friends! Enjoy your tea, and the evening to follow, and I will see you here again very soon!


From Nest to Nest ... ❤

Happy Weekend, my friends! I am so pleased to share a couple more cozy corners with you ... :)

From Chrissy:

Cozy corner chrissy 1

"This is where I curl up most of the time. End of the couch by a window overlooking the marsh ... "

That nest looks so cushy and inviting, Chrissy! I love the soft lighting ... and I bet that marsh is a wonderful window on the changing seasons!

And here's a peek at Denise's corner:

Cozy corner denise 1

"How wonderful to share each other's homes in this way, Dawn!  I so enjoy "visiting" others in this way!  I've attached a picture of my current cozy corner.  The only time I am in it these days seems to be early, early morning (from 4-6am) and evening (I shoot for 9ish to start winding down.) I say "current cozy corner" because it seems to change with the seasons! I like to sit right by the woodstove in late autumn through winter! We try to heat solely by wood, and this spot is the warmest. I took the picture this afternoon, since my afternoon schedule was rearranged for me. Unfortunately, I only had time to write one of the last few Thanksgiving greetings & take a few sips of hot tea, then took the hot tea back to our home office where mounds of work awaited me! The cozy corner looks straightened up!  Normally it has a stand up work station in the corner, also. I had already rolled it back to the office. And my journals were elsewhere. :-)

The morning session is my "communion" time. This is when I read God's Word, study, pray and worship. Of course, I journal a lot of it ... The evening is a time to reflect on the day, on God's goodness to us through this day, to record positives and negatives of the day, to worship, to pray. When I was homeschooling, this is where we would gather for read alouds, practicing math factors, extra reading helps. This is also where I would listen to my grandchildren read to me, with one or both of the now 10 year-old twins on my lap! (I must say, I really miss those days!)

I too enjoy capturing the "firsts" of each season. I must say embracing the autumn and winter are much easier for me! I've attached a sketch from my planner capturing the first fire in the wood stove ...

Cozy corner denise 2

First cup of my dear friend's tea recipe AND first bowl of chicken-wild rice soup! Yum!! 
October 30th was very chilly here!"

~ Denise

What a lovely nest, Denise! Wood stoves are wonderful! I grew up with one, and although I was no fan of moving/stacking wood, lol, I did love the warmth and coziness of that family room stove! Thank you for sharing your sketch as well - I love it! What a nice way to capture the spirit of the season! And you have me curious about your friend's tea recipe ... and that chicken-rice soup! :)

***

Well my friends, I'm back in my own little nest at the moment ... dark here now, and I just heard my first "What's for dinner?" So I'd best be off ... 

But I'd love to hear from you if you have a moment, and perhaps you'd consider sending me a picture of your own cozy nest? And don't forget, we've got Tea coming up next week! (See post below.) Lots to discuss and look forward to!

You can reach me at:

bysunandcandle AT gmail DOT com

Enjoy the rest of your evening, my friends ... I will see you here again very soon!


From one nest to another ... ❤

Nest dawn 2 (1)

Good Thursday evening, my friends! I hope your day's been a good one. :)

Yesterday I showed you all where (and how) I'm feathering my winter nest, and today Dawn V. has invited us to peek into her own lovely spot!

A note from Dawn:

My little corner that allows me to relax, unwind and reflect ... I have found these wonderful candles at Yankee Candle Shop called "Radiance." As they burn, you hear a faint noise of crackling. I sit here in my little nest enjoying the candle's scent, glow and gentle crackling sound. Through the window I see my backyard (forest) and deck. I feed many forms of wildlife from the deck and ground. I never-ever sit in my nest without a cup of coffee ...

Nest dawn 1

Nest dawn 3

Nest dawn 4

Nest dawn 5

 ***

How absolutely beautiful, Dawn! Your corner is beautiful and so inviting! I can just imagine how nice it must be to sit here and relax, watch your birds and relish your surroundings. I, too, live next to a forest and what a blessing it is! I love all your seasonal touches, and the lighting is so soft and warm. I wish you many happy hours in your cozy nest, Dawn!

My friends, how nice is this, to share our nests with each other? I hope you will consider sending me a photo of yours, too ... (bysunandcandle AT gmail DOT com) ... in the meantime, I love all your comments as well! Thanks to you all for your encouragement and support!

At this very moment I'm writing to you from my own nest ... it's almost 4 p.m. and there's a big mug of "American Breakfast" tea by my side. (I don't usually do caffeine this late in the day but I'm kind of dragging today! Plus I'm out of my favorite decaf blend.) Bill and I just got back from getting my van at the shop (ack, it's on it's last legs!), and now he has the younger boys outside doing leaves. And by doing leaves I mean, he's raking and they're jumping in piles! I can hear them just outside my window ... a bit of high-spirited chaos.

And it's quite a dark day here - we're expecting rain any moment. I'm wearing my favorite gray cardigan, there's a cat by my feet, (another behind my head), and I can hear the heat clicking on in the registers ... as well as the clicking of a mouse as Crackerjack plays on his computer. So it's not exactly quiet here, but it's warm and bright and alive ...

It's home.

❤

 Well, tomorrow I'll have a post up with more information about my Advent Tea Journal - which kicks off this coming Monday! (Yes, it is still a week or more until Advent, but I want to "talk tea" ahead of time!) So I'll have a few more details on the schedule (questions to consider, themes to ponder) and just how you all can join me in what I hope will be a wonderful, weekly gathering of tea cups and conversation. Let's press the "pause button" now and again as the busy weeks ahead unfold ... :) 

Oh, whoops - and there's the door now:

"Wow, it's so warm in here! Coats and boots off first, boys! Little Bear, you have to put down the truck before we can get off your coat ... Where's Mama??"

And so life resumes ... I'm off to the kitchen! See you here again tomorrow, my friends!


Living in Season: Creating A Cozy Corner

Cozy corner 1

Happy Wednesday, my friends! I hope your week's going well! 

So I talk a lot here about embracing the seasons and the changes they bring to our lives - the way we dress, eat, feel, pray, etc. I love how with each passing season there is a feeling of something new and yet a comforting familiarity as well. There's a first snowfall every year ... but somehow it's always full of magic. The daffodils return every spring ... but they're always such a miracle. ❤

But I think it's fair to say that some seasons are easier to embrace than others ... and this time of year is a challenge for some folks as the light fades and the days grow short and the weather is often unfriendly. So I thought I might start posting about the things we can do to create a more enjoyable season - for ourselves and our families. Simple, little things that might brighten our days ... if only figuratively. :)

My friends, will you join me? Shall we learn to live "in season" by accepting the changes and adjusting our mindset a bit? What if we saw every change - the long nights, the soggy days, the frequent storms and the early sunsets - as a reminder we're here to see another season? That we've been blessed with another year on this earth and all that comes with it - the light and the dark?

(Ok I'm getting a bit deeper than I meant to, so let me step back for a moment!)

Why don't we start very simply this week by creating a cold season cozy corner ... this will be our first "assignment."

How about over the next few days we find a nice spot in our homes where we will build a little nest. This will be a spot where we can sit down, think a bit, read a while, or just take a breather. A spot where, on these dark afternoons, we can get off our feet and surround ourselves with a humble helping of comfort and joy.

Where would this be in your house? Do you have a spot like this already?

It would be wonderful to make "nesting" a daily ritual - late afternoon, just before supper? - but if daily is inconvenient, or too much to attempt, what about once a week? On which day of the week can you carve out an hour to spend in your nest?

Here in this nest you will have added some wonderful feathers: throw blankets - slippers, perhaps? - good things to read, a notepad and pen, perhaps some hand lotion rich with the scents of the season? Lights are important here - a good one for reading - but I also like to have candles around, too (LED for me, since I have a toddler in the house). I like the ones that turn on as the sun dips low in the sky - a glowing reminder to slow down and rest, just as nature is doing.

More to consider:

There should be a good spot where you can safely put down your chosen refreshment. Since I'll be taking tea in my nest, and there is the aforementioned toddler afoot, I will need to place my tea well past the edge of the table.

Sitting by a window is ideal, I think, if you can manage it. A seasonal view and a good dose of natural light is good for the soul! Hanging a bird feeder here would also be lovely!

A basket with notecards and stationary would be handy - this could be a time to pen a note to a friend or relative. Maybe get a head start on those Season's Greetings? :)

 And finally, how about some artwork? A picture or sculpture upon which you can reflect? This might be something representing your faith or the season at hand ... a quote for the month, or simply a photo of your loved ones.

***

However your nest is feathered, it will be different in style and content for different people. Some like things streamlined while others prefer a bit of clutter. Some want things formal and some not. Some of us will be wedged in a corner of a room filled with other people ... while others might secure a spot of privacy somewhere in the house. And some of us have little ones we can't escape all around us and that needs to be taken into consideration, too. 

Well, lets take a look at what I've set up for myself today ..

Cozy corner 3

My nest is set up in the living room (aka library ... aka playroom), and my chair is old and squishy, but comfy as all get out. For as much as I'd like to make my cozy corner a somewhat private affair, it's silly for me to think it always (or even often) will be. But that's ok. This is the season I'm in! I am the mother of a little one and he's growing so fast ... some days I will get some time to myself (if LB's napping or busy with Bill or the brothers) and that will be enough. To sit here and relax will be nice, and because there are plenty of toys about, I can sit, and Little Bear can play in the room or perch on my lap and "read" his own books ...

I also have a basket of magazines here ... and BOY do I love those fall-holiday magazines!

Cosy corner 2

As well as the Thanksgiving basket, filled with our books for the holiday at hand.

(Truth be told, I love reading through them even by myself!)

Cozy corner 4

And right behind my chair is yet another basket full of books. These are Little Bear's favorite board books - he likes to stand on my lap and pick through his collection ...

On the windowsill I have displayed favorite Thanksgiving cards (never sent or received, just part of my collection), and under the lamp I have my page-a-day calendar as well as a stack of favorite reads.

Cozy corner 7

At day's end ... living by the light!

 ***

My friends, I'd love to hear about (or see!) your cozy nests - please leave me a comment below or consider sending me a picture (email: bysunandcandle AT gmail DOT com). I would love to share this endeavor with others and carry on throughout the fall and winter, visiting each other's nests from time to time and chatting about seasonal ideas. I will continue to post little "assignments" now and again - and of course you'll be seeing more of my nest as we being our Advent Teas very soon!

Speaking of tea ... tomorrow - or Friday at the latest - I will have a post up with more information on my upcoming Advent Tea Journal. Monday's tea will be ahead of Advent, with a focus on Thanksgiving, and our theme for discussion will be "simplifying the season." I plan to have my post up on Monday afternoon and would LOVE to have you all join me!

Ok, I think I've kept you all here long enough! Thanks so much for joining me and also, thanks for the kind words about my podcast with Pam! I am so glad I did it ... I'm pleased I was able to step outside my "comfort zone" and join in the fun. And those podcasts are SUCH fun. What a service Pam is doing for the homeschooling mama community - and I am honored to have taken a small part!

Enjoy your evening, my friends ... see you here again very soon!


November Nightfall

It comes so early now ... the night. And some might say too early, but it's all just part of that rhythm. Outside there's a fading of color and a sharpness to the air ... while inside we have our lights burning and there are extra blankets on the beds. At this time of year the comforts of home seem all the more comforting, but the outside is still welcoming too, especially on evenings like these ...

November sunset 1

November sunset 2

November sunset 7

November sunset

November sunset 3

November sunset 4

Sunset, 4:20 p.m. Sunday. Just before the Patriots Game.

:)

How wonderful for a little one to get all rosy-cheeked and leaf-littered on a cool autumn evening ... then to come inside for a warm bath and a good supper before bed. I love teaching my children to appreciate our days in ALL seasons and by "teaching" I mean, sharing my own joy right alongside them. That's the best lesson, I think - what we show them. Because those little eyes watch us so closely! Little Bear might not read his mama's blog yet, but I know he can read my moods ...

You know, I've been working on that book of mine, and trying to figure out just where I'm going with it ... getting distracted sometimes, or maybe even a little defeated ... but when I look back at this post, I can see it. This is what makes me tick, and this is where I zoom in: on the simple, little joys ... the easy, homey comforts. Every week brings something new to learn and share ...

As organic as it seems it should be to just follow the seasons and accept nature's rhythm, I find that Life As We Know It often gets in the way. So I create a little structure - weekly themes and file folders - and hope that by planning ahead we'll make more of the moment. The seasons pass so quickly - not to mention the years! So this week we're watching our world get sleepy and dark and we're feeling grateful for things like light and warmth (and peace) ... in nature we're observing a fallen log and exploring the tart curiosity of cranberries, while baking breads to bring to neighbors across town ... 

November days - are they dark? Yes, they can be. But dull? No, they don't have to be. There's much to be thankful for and so many ways to explore this big, blessed world. It is my hope to highlight these joys in each week of the year ... to work them into my "plans" so they become more than just ideas, but actions ... and then to share them all with my family, and you!

So anyhow ... that's where I'm at right now. I mostly just wanted to share all these happy photos and then I got carried away. (You all know how I get.) And now I'm watching another (early) sunset, lighting a candle on our seasons shelf, and conjuring some good smells in the kitchen ...

And putting the laptop down, for now. But I'll be back here again sometime soon ...

(Good Night!)


Advent Tea Journal ~ Peace Be with Us

  Advent tea peace 15

Happy Monday, my friends! Welcome to another afternoon tea. :)

Today we begin the second week of Advent, and it is also the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, one of those lovely Marian feasts we enjoy celebrating at home in small, thoughtful ways. At this time of year, we are reminded of Mary's motherhood and her role in the life of her son, Jesus. I have four sons, and they're my whole world; together with my husband, and our home, my life revolves around them. So I often find myself in prayer, thinking of Mary, asking her to guide me in her gentle, peaceful ways. Goodness knows, I can use all the help I can get!

Now, whether we're talking about world peace or inner peace, it certainly means different things to different people. But right now I'm thinking about peace in the weeks before Christmas: how we can find it (create it?) in the midst of all the holiday bustle? Not just for ourselves, but our loved ones as well?

Here are a few of my thoughts - and I'd love to hear yours!

 * Keep the December calendar as low-key as possible. I know it's hard to say no to the myriad invitations and activities that take place throughout the holiday season, but there has to be a limit. Make room for peace in your life by setting a less-busy stage.

* Create cozy corners in your home that encourage folks to sit down a spell. Stock some lovely books on the table beside a favorite chair or couch corner (Christmas books would be perfect of course), and add a pretty coaster that will remind you to make yourself a hot cup of tea (or cocoa).

* Find yourself noticing nature. I purposefully filled our Advent calendar with "nature moments" - watching the moon rise, walking in the woods, feeding the birds, apprecating the beauty of a poinsettia. Cultivate a habit of observation - brainstorm simple activities that connect us with nature and remind us to slow down as the earth stills itself for the Winter. 

* Light up the darkness - with string lights and candles, real or electric. The days are so short and dark now, I find my home all the more peaceful when there are soft lights to welcome us, and comfort us, late in the day. This only enhances the feeling that our home is a haven from the outside world. Sitting in a quiet room illuminated only by tree lights is one of my favorite things about these short December days.

* Make time to sit quietly in thought or prayer each day - 10 minutes before the kids wake or 10 minutes after they go to bed? Try not to let your mind go right to your to-do list, but instead, keep your thoughts on spiritual matters. A quick "thank you" for the day's blessings, a simple prayer for a loved one, a fond memory, a favorite carol. (This can be done with a sleeping babe in your arms, too!)

* (But, speaking of to-do's) make your list and check it twice. A well-organized list and an internet connecton are great for keeping stress down. Because let's face it - we all have things to buy or make or do, and lots of people rely on us to make their Christmas merry. Peace is hard to cultivate when you're panicking, and if we didn't start early, then the to-do's are best addressed sooner rather than later. Nothing wrecks my Christmas spirit like last minute shopping, whereas feeling prepared gives me true peace of mind. Noble? Maybe not. But realistic.

*❤*

Ok, here are a few peaceful moments from my day ...

Advent tea peace 10

Bill took this picture of Little Bear and me (without my knowledge!) and I just love it. This is quite early - if you can't tell by our "bed hair," lol - and we are starting our day as we usually do ... in the library, in "our" chair, with a few good books (and a cup of coffee for Mama). We're in this chair reading, many times throughout the day ... but there's something so special about that first snuggle of the day. :)

Advent tea peace 1

A little "sneak peek" at our Christmas card this year - it reads: "Peace on Earth." â¤

(I'll share the card in its entirety after we've mailed them all out!)

Advent tea peace 2

The absolute glee on my little boy's face when he noticed the nativity stickers I placed on the window behind our chair ...

Advent tea peace 12

Where's the baby, Little Bear?

Advent tea peace 6

Working on the Christmas mantel, here's a pretty corner: flowers and stars for the Mother of God.

Advent tea peace 8

Our Oliver, mid-scratch. :) It's impossible to see in this picture, but there's a cardinal at the feeder just beyond this window. Also, it is lightly snowing and this is what I'm looking at as I drink my tea ...  a little bit of domestic tranquility, with some serene nature thrown in.

And speaking of tranquil ...

Advent tea peace 11

Here's what else I am looking at as I enjoy my tea ... a sleeping Little Bear who opted not to stay in his crib for the entirety of his nap. He slept for a good hour here while I sipped and worked on this post.

A happy, sleeping baby = a happy, refreshed Mama.

Peace personified.

:)

~ Tea Journal

In the natural world ...

A cold day of clouds and flurries here, and a Nor'easter arriving tomorrow! High winds and heavy rain in our part of the region (if it was snow, we'd be buried!). Here's our front walkway as I stepped out to get the paper this morning:

Advent tea peace 4

What I'm drinking & eating ...

Oh my goodness!

Well.

I wanted to do something white in honor of today's feast, so I chose a London Fog Latte for my beverage. I had heard from friends that it was a simply delicious drink - and now I can happily agree - it is! Sweet and milky, with a nice citrus-y bergamot flavor. And as you can see in the picture at the top of my post, I once again used a pretty "vintage" tea cup, another from my grandmother's collection. It is called "Yuletide," and fittingly, it was made by Royal Albert of England. :)

Keeping with the "British Christmas" theme - and more stars for the Feast! - I made mini orange-mince pies for a lovely holiday treat!

Advent tea peace 13

I have always loved the look of these traditional English confections, and knew someday I would try making them! (Though admittedly, pastry intimidates me.) Well, my dear friend Shirley Ann inspired me to give them a try this week, after she shared a picture of her own on Facebook! I made these up Sunday afternoon while the baby slept - very easy to do - and goodness, did the house smell like Christmas!

And I must tell you - they are so very, very yummy. A tender crust with orange flavor and a spicy-sweet filling ... gah, so good. Bill had one on his way out this morning and he absolutely loved it! And this is a man who had never before tried mincemeat because "it frightened him" lol. I will definitely be making a large batch of these for Christmas day ... I wonder if I can freeze them ahead?

What I'm reading ...

Advent tea peace 7

I've just started reading back through my annual domestic journal pages, which are kept in this gigantic binder. (Only the current month is kept in my primary binder.) Also, lots of board books. (A post on LB's favorites to come soon!)

What I'm working on ...

Well, the big thing this week is setting up the tree ... we just brought it home yesterday. Also, still packing away all the fall decorations and finding all the Christmas books. Then there's lunch for Earlybird and Dad on Sunday ... and oh, getting the Christmas cards mailed out! 

 Words to ponder ...

Peace:

It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. It means to be in the midst of all those things and still be calm in your heart.

~ Anonymous

I love this quote so much - I have the magnet, I have the mug! - it's kind of my personal mantra. And, it's a skill I'm working on all the time - because as nice as it is to slow down and "make room" for peace - life just doesn't always work that way. My life as a mum - a special needs mum, especially - is filled with all the things mentioned above. But I know how I want to be. I want to be a source of peace for my children, their beacon in any sea. It's important, especially as a mother, to carry peace with me, and keep it with me for when I - we - need it most.

(I plan to revisit the theme of peace next month. I'd love to hear your ideas on the subject.)

*❤*

And now, my friends, I'm finally going to stop talking, lol. This really was a rather long journal entry! But I'm so pleased to share my dear friend Mary's contribution to our Advent Tea Journal this week. Here are her thoughts on keeping peace in the season ...


What a lovely theme for a tea - Peace - especially since slowing down to make and drink tea can definitely bring peace into one’s life during the hustle and bustle that leads up to the Christmas season.

As a family, things that help us to find peace during this season is the simple process of eating a family supper together at night and starting by saying grace before we eat. We do this all year long but during this season, in particular, our family meal continues to serve as a wonderful anchor to slow us down, light the advent candle, and talk with one and other remembering to focus on all that we are grateful for.

We also enjoy walking around different “trails of lights” hosted by different towns around the Texas Hill Country. (We avoid the Austin Trail of Lights because it is a zoo - and definitely doesn’t bring peace to our lives!) The cool nights, the lights, and sipping hot chocolates as we all walk together as a family is always so peaceful.  

And this may sound funny - but we also enjoy walking around an open air shopping mall looking at the lights - and watching the other people hustle and bustle to shop. Instead, we walk slow, look at the lights, and chat. It’s funny how peaceful it is for us. At Christmas we exchange very few gifts freeing us of the need to rush and shop. It is so liberating - and brings peace to our lives. 

Here is a picture of me with our teenage son, walking around a festive open air shopping mall.

Mary tea peace 1 

On our Tea menu...we are continuing to enjoy Celestial Season's Peppermint tea and also some decadently rich double chocolate hot chocolate. And for a real treat - we twirl both with a candy cane!

Mary's tea peace 2

 Thank you so much, Mary, for this wonderful reflection on how you bring peace to your family at this time of year. I love the picture of you with your son - those smiles are beautiful! Family togetherness is a gift he will remember all his life!

*❤*

Thank you, all, for joining me here today. If you are so inclined, please leave a comment below with your thoughts on finding peace in the hoilday season. Also, what are you drinking for "tea" this week? Baking anything special?

Hope to hear from you, but until next time, take care of yourselves and your loved ones ... I'll see you here again very soon!


live * love * learn

Sunny walk

I just wrote about this little moment in my journal and wanted to share …
 
    "As we stepped outside, Earlybird took a deep breath and exclaimed "Oh wow! The air smells so good! Warm and ... fresh!" 
 
First of all - great language skills, EB! Nice pronunciation and descriptive words! But how about that wonderful observation? He absolutely nailed it - it is a perfect June day, sunny, breezy and warm. 
 
Continuing down the drive, we observed: a buzzing, leaping insect of some sort (grasshopper?), a plump green caterpillar, two “stuck-together” butterflies (ahem) and a brilliant blue damsel fly. EB also found a rock that he is absolutely *certain* is a meteorite. He brought it inside to clean up and set upon the nature shelf …"
 
☀ 
As I walked back up to the house, with one child ahead of me, hopping between sunlight and shade, and another child clinging to my hip, I wished I could freeze this moment in time. It felt precious to me. I didn't have my camera on me - not even my phone - so I closed my eyes and made a memory in my heart. Then I wrote in my journal.
 
Sometimes the "lesson plan" doesn’t go as planned … some days are rocky … some weeks work better than others. But moments like these remind me why we do this in the first place, this crazy thing called homeschooling. It's about more than just how we learn - it's about how we live and love, too.
 
Live * Love* Learn
 
R's meteorite
 
And always take time to smell the air.
 
:)

Advent: Moments of Peace & Joy

And here's my last post in the series, for Advent has come to a close! It's been such fun sharing my "found" moments of peace and joy with you all. Each day I'd wonder where I might look and what I might find ...

Like in my kitchen, where I spend so much of my time ...

Advent joy bowls

Sun shining on mixing bowls ... holiday goodies begin here. I didn't do half the baking I'd hoped to this Advent, but I still enjoyed looking at those bowls every day!

❤

Our stockings, hung by the fire ...

Stockings 2

 A riot of color (and clutter) and a new stocking among them. :)

❤

A found moment of quiet, a cup of hot tea ...

Advent peace mug on stairs

On the stairs, where I sit and listen for Little Bear while he naps. Every mother reading this knows the special joy of naptime. :)

 â¤

A bowl full of Christmas clementines ...

Advent joy clementines

Seasonal foods always make me happy ... because though fleeting, they always return and they never taste as good as they do in their moment.

❤

Speaking of happy ...

Advent joy brothers

 Have I mentioned how much Crackerjack adores his Little Bear?

❤

Our Solstice supper ...

Advent joy cottage pie 

A traditional cottage pie, baked with a "sun" of fresh thyme on top.

❤

My sweet Charlie Brown Christmas tree ...

Charlie brown tree 1

Bill surprised me today ... I was saying how I wished we had some colored lights somewhere  - the white candles and tree lights are lovely and calm, but I do love a little punch of color here and there. Bill hastily strung these lights while I ran an errand this morning ...

❤

And finally, taken but a few moments ago ...

Advent peace holy family

Peace & Joy in one special package!

Blessings to you all on this night of all holy nights ...

*❤*

See you here again very soon ...


Advent: Moments of Peace & Joy

 Happy Thursday, my friends! I hope this note finds you well, and enjoying this last week of Advent. Things are fairly quiet on our homefront, and I'm grateful for that. These days I'm trying very hard not to "stress" over the many things left un-done on my to-do list ... trying to re-set my expectations ... and remember that the true spirit of Christmas can be found without spending a cent or stepping outside of my home.

To that end, I continue to find a little joy and peace each day, when and where I can find it ... here are a few recent moments I'd like to share with you:

Advent calendars 2

Advent calendars - the simple old fashioned kind - one for each child, and a chocolate for each day. (I eat Little Bear's, natch.) With thanks to my brother who surprised the boys with these on Thanksgiving Day.

Wise men 1

The wise men, starting their long journey in a sunny, south-facing window. I find two or three of these guys on the floor every morning. Thanks to Oliver who is oddly fixated on the nativity set.

The three kings will start their trek on Christmas and by Epiphany they'll have made their way 'round the room to the hearth ...

Creche in hearth

❤

Solstice books 1

And here are a bunch of winter books for Saturday's solstice. I've been displaying seasonal books on my desk and I love the way they look - even if we don't get to read them, they're so good to see ... like old friends, you know?

Winter tea set

My wintertime "boy-friendly" tea set ... love how it looks in the late afternoon light. I set it on top of a hand-painted tray which is set upon a ruby-red brocade ottoman. It makes me all kinds of happy that I have this little set up in my house. :) Looking at it makes me think of the long winter to come, and afternoons filled with hot chocolate, good books and kids.

Snowmen

And here we have a paper parade of vintage snowmen, perched along the windowsill... I love Christmas decorations that will suit the winter as well.

Bird garland]

A very pretty garland featuring softly painted, slightly glittery Victorian birds - strung along the mantel on an ivory ribbon. This is a gift from my parents, another wonderful "Vermont" find. It looks so, so pretty in this room - my library. :)

Tree candle

A beautiful window at dusk ... on these short, dark afternoons, little lights like these are so comforting. The tree candle is energized by a battery and it turns itself on at the same time each day. I think that's neat - when I see it on, I know it's "that time" of day.

Snowy lamppost

Our lamppost all covered with snow - a Narnia moment, don't you think?

Peace candle

Another candle - this one smells of peppermint and I've been burning it on the kitchen windowsill as I work towards supper. I find the smell of peppermint invigorating, and yet calming at the same time - it reminds me of Christmas treats, winter snow and my summer herb garden. (Because I love to grow mint!)

Heart ornament

And finally, this lovely ornament is new this year - I bought it as a gift but loved it so much I bought a second for our own tree. I think it's so pretty, and a perfect reminder for those days when I'm rushing about trying to make Christmas something more than it needs to be.

*❤*

Well my friends, I wish you all a pleasant evening - or day if you're across the sea! Thank you so much for joining me here, and finding a little peace and joy alongside me. Take care of yourselves and your loved ones ... I'll be back again just as soon as I can!


First Snow, A New Joy

We had our first significant snow here last night - almost a foot overnight! Little Bear was amazed, peeking out the bedroom window very early this morning ...

O first snowstorm 6

How I love experiencing the wonder of the world through my little one's eyes ...

O first snowstorm 4

And how he looks to his Mama for reassurance and explanation...

O first snowstorm 2

Someone with whom to share his joy ...

O first snowstorm 7

And radiate it right back at him.

This is Peace *and* Joy all wrapped up in one sweet, snuggly package!

:)

Blessings to you all on this beautiful 3rd Advent Sunday! (The "pink week" we call it!)

See you here again very soon ...


Advent: Moments of Peace & Joy

Some simple, joyful moments on St. Lucia Day ...

Advent joy saint lucia buns

Cinnamon rolls (the easy kind that come from a can that happen to also be the natural kind that Earlybird can have). One of these years I *will* make homemade Lucia bun. I mean it.

;)

Note the adorable "shooting star" beeswax birthday candle.

 Advent joy hook apron 1 

This brushed nickel hook - oh, how I've waited for it! Bill finally got the hook installed on the back of a kitchen door, so I can hang my beautiful winter apron here - a treasured "Vermont" gift from my parents last year ...

Advent joy hook apron 2 

I think it looks nice in this spot, close to the oven ... makes me want to bake!

Advent joy calendar 1

 And while we're in the kitchen ... my monthly wall calendar always makes me smile. I have it hanging on the fridge. The art of Susan Winget (Lang Co.) is just beautiful.

***

And now for a couple of moments today when I truly "took" peace ...

 Advent peace driveway

Walking back from getting the mail - cold air, icy ground, flurries in the midst - so still and quiet, as I made my way up our drive. I could feel Winter's approach ...

Advent peace tea

Back inside, a cup of tea for warmth and (soul) nourishment.

*❤*

And now we're at the weekend ... with a snowstorm pressing upon us here in New England. We have some quiet homey plans, a special boy's birthday to celebrate, a bit of a breather, I hope ... but I'll be back again soon to share the peace and joy I am stumbling upon ...

Blessings to you all! 


Advent: Moments of Peace & Joy

 First, a few moments of PEACE ...

Advent peace curtain over crib

I took this photo from my phone (retrieved from my pocket) as I was rocking Little Bear on my shoulder this morning ... looking out the window above his crib, admiring the soft, serene light ... grateful for the less complicated day ahead.

Advent peace milkweed

Another phone shot, Crackerjack and I took this picture yesterday outside the post office. We thought the spent milkweed pods looked especially lovely set amongst the snow, in the soft afternoon light. Late autumn greets early winter ...

Advent peace angel

And here's a gift from my parents ~ a sweet Christmas angel fresh from Vermont. <3

And now for some JOY ...

Advent joy ornaments from mum

 These are bags and boxes of beautiful Christmas ornaments ~ some on loan, some newly purchased, all brought over by my mother. I can't wait to "deck out" our tree!

 Advent joy snowman garland 

These funny snowmen are an old-fashioned paper garland; I have them sitting on my desktop. I was working on our Christmas cards when I took this picture. :)

Our lady guadalupe ornament

 Another painted wooden ornament, made in honor of today's feast. I'm having fun making these Marian-themed snowflakes! In fact, I have half a mind to make up a whole host of them for a pretty winter garland ...

Owen 6 month checkup 2

And finally, a "baby-joy" shot! Little Bear had his six-month check-up today, and I'm happy to report he's doing great! He had to have a whole bunch of shots though, and the poor boy cried his little heart out! As hard as it is to hear him cry, we did get to hear his first word: "Mummmm!"

*❤*

Well, we're at midweek already, and I hope it's been a good one for you so far. Things have quieted down here - for the moment, and that's all I can count on, right? The next few days we'll be working on our Christmas decorations, nursing head colds, and anticipating a sizable snowstorm this weekend. Bookworm has started his finals at BC, so we're praying him through those, and looking forward to his return next week!

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


Advent: Moments of Peace & Joy

{Earlybird update at bottom of post.}

PEACE

Advent peace sunrise 

I've noticed my "peace" moments tend to happen in the morning ... I think this is when my day is still fairly simple and it's easier to be mindful of the blessings around me. As the day progresses, things get a bit noisier and more active ...

For instance, right now, it's 8:30 a.m. and Little Bear has just gone down for his morning nap. The middle boys are in the midst of their breakfast and the funny pages ... there are chores to get to, and lessons to lay out, but I'm taking this little break for myself. I'm sitting somewhere quiet and typing away, feeling creative and connected ... But wait - I hear footsteps ...

Shhh, you don't see me here!

;)

Sometimes, though, peace can be found late in the day, too ...

As the kettle boils and the sun sets, I find myself busy in the kitchen ... I take a moment to breathe a short prayer, light a candle in the window. A real, honest-to-goodness, wax-and-wick candle, one that burns slowly and softly. Not as brightly as those electric candles, perhaps - it requires more thought and attention - but it's real. I can't ignore it, my eyes return to it, the children ask about it ... the lighting of a flame - an ancient gesture in a modern life.

Advent peace blue candle

JOY

Advent joy book 1

A sweet, old-fashioned Christmas ABC book ... those illustrations remind us how beautiful a simpler life can be.

*❤*

And a feast day craft - easy and rewarding:

Advent joy ornament 2 

A plain wooden ornament, painted with natural watercolors ... a precious picture printed out and cut to fit in the middle ... but no glitter to be found? How about a sprinkle of kosher salt?

Advent joy ornament 1

Looks so pretty in the lights of the tree ...

Advent joy o looking at tree

>>>Love<<<

*❤*

Now, for a note on Earlybird ...

He is doing well. He is taking the medicine better and better each day. He gets a dose every 12 hours (by dropper) and so far, aside from a decreased appetite, it doesn't seem to be affecting him adversely. Most importantly he has not had a seizure since last Tuesday night.

So tomorrow he has his first test - an EEG. To prepare him for the procedure, we have to keep him up till midnight tonight, then let him sleep till 4 a.m. - wake him then, and keep him awake until the test at 10 a.m. Now - his blog name is not Earlybird for nothing - this is a child whose self-imposed bedtime is 7 p.m. Who sometimes begs to go to bed. So we really have our work cut out for us tonight ...

 My friends, my deepest thanks for your continued prayers ... I will post an update on his testing as soon as I am able, but please hold my boy in your thoughts and prayers. This will be difficult for him and I'm sure confusing, too. Bill and I are taking this one step at a time, just doing what needs to be done to the best we are able and keeping EB as comforted as we can. Your support, suggestions and encouragement mean the world to us!

Well, I hope you all have a lovely Tuesday ... relish the blessings in your life today and look for those little moments as you are able. Drop a note and share them here if you have the time ... and I'll be in touch just as soon as I can.