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A Tea for Shakespeare's Birthday

KG boy and girl with garland

As I mentioned in my earlier post, today is England's National Day (aka St. George's Day), and it is also the birthday of one of the most famous Englishmen, William Shakespeare. As an American of English descent (on both sides!) as well as a self-confessed Anglophile, I feel this is a fantastic day for my family to celebrate! (It's also the feast day of a great Catholic saint - Crackerjack's favorite - so there's that as well. :))

So I pulled out my olde Norton Anthology of English Literature from my college years (which I've since given to Bookworm for "Brit Lit") and perused some of the Bard's sonnets. I even read a couple out loud in case anyone was listening. (I don't think they were, lol.)

 Now, I have a St. George's Dinner planned for tonight, but I thought I might incorporate some kind of dish to represent Shakespeare. So I googled a little but alas, all I could find was a "Shakespeare's Tea." Apparently it was mentioned in The Winter's Tale (act 4). I don't have the specific herbal ingredients on hand, but I thought I might add them to my garden plans this year. They are all readily available, easy-to-grow plants.

Here's the recipe, just in case you're curious:

Ingredients

    • 1 cup dried lavender flowers
    • 2 cups roughly cut dried peppermint
    • 1 cup dried summer savory
    • 1 cup dried sweet marjoram
    • 1 cup dried whole calendula flowers

Directions

  1. Here is a dried tea blend to keep you young and warm-blooded all winter!
  2. Collect your herbs mid-summer and rub off the stems when dried.
  3. Crumble the Peppermint leaves to match the size of the other greens.
  4. If your Calendulas are huge, break in half when dry.
  5. Use 1 tsp per cup.
  6. In a pot add 1 tsp per person and 1 for the pot!
  7. Steep 3 minutes.

KGappleblossoms

How neat! 

And if you happen to have a copy of China Bayles' Book of Days (an absolute favorite of mine) for today's page there is a checklist of herbs and flowers to include in a Shakespearean-themed garden. They all show up in one way or another throughout his works.

(If you don't have that boo,k and you're intersested in the checklist, let me know in the comments below - I'd be glad to type it up and send it to you. :)

Now, I may not devote a whole garden to this particular theme, but a few planter-pots would be fun! Maybe a windowbox devoted to the herbal tea mentioned above? Ooh, I can just imagine the possibilities! This would make a great summer homeschooling project, methinks! I can see a whole notebook devoted to Shakespeare ... poems, narrations, research ... nicely embellished with pressed herbs and flowers related to his works. In fact, I just requested this lovely little book from our library, and I've added a project page behind the May tab in my Yearbook binder ...

But I'm getting carried away now (as I'm wont to do), so I'll wrap up what was meant to be a quick mid-morning post!

I hope you're all having a lovely Monday - rain or shine, busy or no. Thanks so much for stopping by ... I will see you again very soon!


My Lenten Binder ~ A Place to Plan & Ponder

Sweet-pea-blooms

Good Friday morning, my friends!

So, as I've mentioned a few times now, I've put together a little Lenten binder for myself. I made this up as a special place in which to keep track of our activities through the season. Avery just so happens to make nifty little "half-size" binders in all kinds of colors, so I chose purple, which is the liturgical color for Lent.

Lent book 1

On the front cover I placed a pretty butterfly, a traditional symbol of Easter ... and inside the binder I have a couple of pockets, some dividers and filler paper.

Lent book 2

Inside the front cover I stuck an Easter card we received from our pastor, and in the pocket on the right, I tucked our parish Lent/Easter schedule.

Then I have some general notes up front:

A Spring Cleaning Checklist

Lenten Nature Notes

Goals (Personal, Family)

Craft & Activity Ideas

Meatless Meals Planning

Lent book 3

Then I have five divider tabs:

Our Lenten Journey ~ a page for each day from Ash Weds. through 3/31

Holy Week ~ a page a day for Palm Sunday through Holy Saturday

Easter Celebrations ~ Easter Vigil through Easter Night

Through Pentecost ~ Celebrating the Rest of the Easter Season

The Stations of the Cross

**

And that's that!

(If you'd like me to expand on any of my binder sections, just let me know.)

But now I must be off. Our day is underway, and I have a bunch of things to catch up on. Later today I hope to post an update on my planner/calendar/file folder situation ... but I'll have to see where they day goes. My to-do list is quite long this Friday ... and things always seem so 'do-able' before noon!

Either way though, I'll be back very soon ... enjoy this day, everyone!

Violet-blue-butterfly


Ash Wednesday Traditions

And so Lent begins ...

Ash wednesday 2

If you follow my blog, then you know that seasons and traditions are a big part of my family's life. We honor and celebrate seasons (both natural and liturgical) and we include traditions (big and small) in our everyday life. Today being Ash Wednesday, we welcomed the season of Lent.

We received ashes at very early Mass, and then at home we made some ashes of our own. We just burned one of last year's palms (from Palm Sunday) until we had ash. 

Ash wednesday 3

This sparked lots of good questions (a little impromptu science lesson in fact), and just for the record, I kept a very close eye on this and only I handled the matches. Also, I kept a cup of water within reach, and the windows were open to air out the room.

Next I cleared off the nature shelf and set up a simple Lent corner:

Ash wednesday 9

Here I have a jug filled with barren branches - but I added no water, lest they bloom too soon. I also set our Lent binder here, as well as a planter pot full of dirt (with a pinch of the palm ash), our rice bowl and a plain beeswax candle. The cross hanging on the wall is made of simple grapevine.

This is pretty much how this space will look all throughout Lent ... though the cross will start to "sprout" little bits of greenery (silk ivy leaves) as we move closer to Easter. On Palm Sunday we'll plant seed in the pot and I'll add water to the jug (with fresh branches if need be). During Holy Week we'll work on "dressing up" the candle for our Easter table.

And on Easter morning there will (hopefully) be blooms on the branches and new growth in the pot ... the candle will be gilded and the cross will look something like it does in this postBut as for the tradition of the "missing alleluia" well, this year it went well and truly missing on me! 

Lol, I can't find that pretty little plaque anywhere, so I had to make up something else on the spot. I grabbed a plain cross shaped box from my craft supplies and I photocopied a page from one of the boys' song books.

Ash wednesday 5

I cut out the "alleluia" and placed it inside the box ...

Ash wednesday 6

Secured it all with twine ...

Ash wednesday 7

And we "buried" it in the back of a file folder drawer.

Ash wednesday 8

We do this because we do not say (or sing) "alleluia" at Mass until Lent is over. When we "resurrect" this tiny package on Easter morning, we'll find it all sparkly and fine, inside and out.

:)

I also packed away the Winter books this morning, and set up EB's corner with good seasonal reads:

Ash wednesday 10

On the sill, and in the basket ...

Ash wednesday 11

(I'll update my sidebar booklists asap!)

Here's a craft basket I put together last weekend, filled with materials for making various projects throughout Lent ...

Lenten crafts 1

... and here's the last section of our Lent binder: the "Stations of the Cross."

Lent binder 3

For this project I used 4x6 prints purchased from CHC several years ago, and I printed out station passages found at Domestic-Church.com. I adhered the images and words to folded ivory copy paper and fitted the pages inside sheet protectors. I really like how it came out, and my hope is that we'll take time each Friday afternoon to sit down and do the stations together.

**

And so Lent begins ...

A quiet and still season ... a time when we patiently await signs of new life. The journey can seem long, but these little traditions remind us where we're going, and keep us together on the path.

While we make fond family memories along the way!

Well, have a great day, my friends ... and thanks so much for stopping by. I'm going to sign off for now, but I will see you here again very soon...

Violet-blue-butterfly


Signs of Life

February crocus at home
Hello my friends, and Happy Sunday!

Yes, there are signs of life here again, inside and out ... we are slowly making our way back to 'normal' and thank the good Lord, Bill and Earlybird have remained healthy. (Thank you SO much for your prayers! May I be greedy and ask for your continuance?) The older boys are just about A-ok - though Bookworm is still eating far less than usual! I myself am still feeling shwiped (another one of those 'family vocab' words) and my stomach is tolerating a little bit of bland food, but considering how poorly I felt on Friday and even yesterday, I'll take it! (To give you a good picture just how aggressive this bug really was ... I lost seven pounds over the past three days. o.O)

Anyhoo! It's a cold and sunny Sunday here - lovely, really - and I wanted to share a few photos with you ... as you see above we spotted "signs of life" in our front yard ... crocus shoots under the big maple!

And early this morning I spotted a pair of male robins engaging in what I assume to be spring courtship behavior. They were fighting - over territory or a female I couldn't be sure - but they were big and red and just looked like Springtime itself sitting high up in our tree.

Fighting robins 3

I so wished I would hear them sing - nothing says Spring like robin song - but they were far too busy sparring to sing for me.

Here's a picture of my lunch, kindly made and arranged by Bill (who has picked up a LOT of slack these past few days while I was down for the count).

Mama's lunch

There's chicken noodle soup in the mug, and that's a half a grilled cheese sandwich. Bookworm got the other half. ;)

After lunch I found I had a little energy so instead of cleaning as I really NEED to do (using cleaners I bought specifically for anti-viral cleanup), I sat at my desk and did a little "pretty puttering."

Valentine flowers 1

Valentine flowers 2
Monthly binder

Martha binder stuff

(What you see directly above has to do with couponing ... and I can't wait to show you all about it. This was an idea I got from my friend, Kim. :))

I can show you the spine of the binder, though ...

Marketing binder 1

And before I go, how about a couple of cat shots, since I didn't put up a Friday Felines last week?

Cats watching bird at feeder 1

Focusing on a fluffy finch at the feeder.

Archie hunting birdies

Archie, aching for avian achievement.

Ollie in front window

Ollie, wondering where I went ...

Ollie in sunny basket

And Ollie again, basking in a basket.

>^.^<

Well I think that used more brain cells than I have to spare at the moment, so I'll wrap up, now, lol ...

Before I go, I can tell you all, I will definitely be watching Downton Abbey tonight - provided things stay status quo. That special I mentioned a while back - Secrets of the Manor House - is on at 8, so we'll record that while watching Once Upon a Time with the boys. (For Lost fans, the actress that played Claire - mother of Aaron - is guest starring tonight on OuaT. She's playing Beauty (as in, Beauty and the Beast).)

So, you may expect my "Morning After" Downton post to go up early as usual tomorrow.

:)

Until then, my friends, have a good night and stay safe and well. I'll see you all again sometime soon ...


A Look at My New Daybook

Well, my "2012 Daybook" is finally done and ready to use ... so I thought you might like to take a peek. :)

Very simply, this is a homemade, spiral-bound planner - with a page devoted to each week of the year, as well as a page for each day. It does not contain a month @ a glance calendar, because that's something I like to have out in view at all times, so it needs to be separate. (More on that later.)

Here's how it looks from the side ...

DBook1

(I had the plastic "coil" binding done at Staples - it cost me $4.77.)

The daybook itself is made up of scrapbooking paper (cover page, dividers) and regular copy paper (planning pages). I used "ivory" copy paper (rather than standard white) because, to me, it looked softer, and more "vintage." I also used a firm cardboard "back" piece to give the daybook some solidity. (For this, I re-used a bit of cardboard that came inside a package of binder pages.)

The cover page is a collage of scrapbooking papers, in shades I love - soft reds and yellows. And I chose these lovely crocheted roses for the front cover ...

... but!

DBook2

Unfortunately, they are too bumpy! When I go to work in my planner, the flowers make the writing surface unlevel - which will drive me crazy! The whole reason I prefer a spiral-bound planner over a three-hole binder is so I can lay my pages flat.

So - as much as I adore these pretty flowers - I decided to peel them off and do something different for the cover.

And here's what I came up with:

DBook22

Not as pretty, but it will do the trick. :)

Ok, so now let's look inside the daybook ...

DBook3

On the left I have a spot where I'll write my personal contact information (name, address, phone, etc.). On the right-hand side is the cover page for the January-February (Deep Winter) section ...

A pretty blue gingham check with little calendars ...

DBook21

Then we have the meat of the planner ... the planning pages!

Each week of the year has four pages (so there are 208 pages in all). 

The order is this:

DBook4

1. My Week @ a Glance.

I used a ruler and black pen for most of my page designs. I also used some pretty vintage clipart for embellishment.

DBook14

So this page has space for planning "Special Days," "Dinners," "Nature Notes," "Shopping & Errands," "Home & Garden Tasks," "Correspondence," and the week's "Budget."

After the weekly planning page, I have:

DBook15

2. A Daily Worksheet.

A page for each day of the week:

DBook5

The daily planning page includes space for an agenda (divided into a.m./noon/p.m.), chores, spending, learning/living notes for each of my children, things "to-do and remember," the night's supper and random notes.

DBook16

DBook17

After Sunday's daily page, there is the next week's planning page - and so on!

DBook6

Each season has its own divider - a piece of colored scrapbook paper with tiny calendars designating the time of year. 

March-April (Early Spring) is a soft aqua:

DBook7

May-June (Late Spring) is a pretty grass green:

DBook8

July-August (High Summer) is a sunny yellow:

DBook9

September-October (Autumn) is a warm, chestnut brown:

DBook10

November-December (Holiday) is a cheerful red:

DBook11

And at the back I have a page for the New Year:

DBook12

And here's that back cardboard piece I mentioned above:

DBook13

The planner sits out on my counter next to my homekeeping binder. I like to keep the binder open to the month at hand, and the planner open to the current day.

DBook20

Eventually, once my new desk arrives, I will have this all set up in my "home office" corner.

*

So, there you have it - my Daybook at-a-(long, detailed)-glance. :)

And yes, for those keeping track (because goodness knows, I go back and forth on these matters!), this planner does take place of the "MomAgenda" I had been using. It also incorporates the planning sheet I had stapled to the front of my weekly file folders. So far I'm really enjoying it - I love the look and feel of it, and the design seems to make sense. Because I thought long and hard about what I need to plan for (think of, attend to) in a given week and on a daily basis, I have a spot for writing out the tasks and reminders I truly need. I'll keep you posted on how it's working for me as we move through the year!

*

Now, as I've mentioned, I've recently had trouble leaving comments here at my blog. Well, I finally heard back from Typepad and the solution was very simple - and the issue was kind of embarrassing! I had somehow marked my own comments as "spam," lol!

So I got a couple of my comments out of "spam jail" and posted them - I will work through the rest of them as time allows this week.

Well, I hope you all enjoyed this peek at my new daybook, and I hope you are all having a nice week. Very bright and chilly here today ... but a storm's moving in late tonight. I have my fingers crossed for snow - it always snows on January 12th! ;) - but it sounds like it will mostly be rain.

Oh well ... the Winter's still very young!

So have a great Wednesday, my friends ... I will see you again very soon!

:)


Talking Shop*

*i.e. file folder and calendar questions. :)

Autumn-leaves

Good Thursday morning, my friends!

I'd like to catch up on some more blog comments, so if "shop talk" is not your cup of tea - feel free to skip this rather lengthy, detail-oriented post. I'm very sorry I've fallen so far behind on addressing reader questions - this is one area of organization I obviously need to work on! ;)

This first one's from Michelle ...

Thank you for the filing posts! I am feeling much better about mine now, because you showed pictures of where you keep your papers. My countertop looks a lot like yours. I like the idea of keeping folders in the basket as well. Do the big paper clips hold the bills to be paid? Also, do you keep your daily calendar open on the countertop? That seems to be my big dilema... going back and forth from the papers in the calendar to the papers in the files. I do love the feeling of being organized!

Michelle, thank you so much for commenting! I love the feeling of being organized too, which is why I'm constantly tweaking my "systems" to make them work as well as they can. I know I can never be on top of it all, but feeling some sense of control really makes my days flow more smoothly. And then "mama" feels happier ... so then everyone feels happier! ;)

Now, to answer your questions ... 

Yes, one of the binder clips holds our bills to be paid and there's another one holding business cards (from various health professionals, our hairdresser, the vet, etc.). I LOVE binder clips - I use them constantly, and keep an assortment of sizes on hand at all times!

As for my calendar ~ I do keep it out on the countertop, with the file folder just beside or beneath it. I generally keep my calendar open to the week at hand - so I can quickly see the day's agenda (aka, where we have to go) and specific daily to-do's (i.e. clean out the freezer, bag up the recycling, mail check, etc.). 

Weeklyplanning1

And this topic leads me to a question asked some time ago by a reader, Briar (such a pretty name!), about how often I repeat information ...

My other issue is that my calendar and to-do lists are online. This *mostly* works for me, but I find that it makes dealing with the paper aspects of my life difficult, because they aren't in sync. Which leads me to a question: how often do you repeat information? What things get written in the your calendar versus what gets written on the planning sheet? If, say, you have a book group meeting, does that go in your calendar, or just the planning sheet, or both? Do you also write that down in the lesson planner? I love the idea of the FCS, so I'm really hoping I can figure out a way to make it work for me this year.

This is something I struggle with, Briar. I love putting pen (or as the case may be, pencil) to paper, so it's very easy for me to get carried away. Graphophilia aside, and in the interest of time and efficiency, I do try to limit myself and keep things as streamlined as possible. And yet, I often find myself writing some information more than once. 

For instance, as you mention above, when I write down our Book Group event, I first write it down in my month-at-a-glance calendar:

"Book Group, 12:45"

> This information is helpful when I'm scheduling appointments, get-togethers and other activities. <

> I'll do this ahead, once I know when Book Group will be. <

Later, as I prepare for a new week ahead, I first consult that month-at-a-glance calendar. In my week-at-a-glance calendar (another section in my MomAgenda) I write the event/time in the Friday column, and if there's something I need to remember for that day - something I need to bring or do on the ride over or back, I jot it down here, too.

"Book Group, 12:45-2:00 - atm/gas" 

> This information is helpful when I'm planning out my day. <

> I'll do this several days ahead. <

Next I prepare the weekly planning sheet (the one that attaches to the front of my file folder), and here I write (under "Of Note") the event, along with a little more information:

"Book Group - Bridge to Terabithia"

> This is helpful when going back and writing end-of-year reports. <

> I do this on the Thursday before. <

So I do repeat the information, but I use it in different ways in each instance. The month @ a glance helps me schedule ahead, the week @ a glance helps me manage my day, and the weekly (file folder) planning sheet helps me give shape and feel to our week. It also helps me reflect on our week when I go back at year's end - I write yearly academic reports for the school system.

Now, all that said ...

I think it would be much more efficient and convenient to combine the second two actions - the week @ a glance calendar and the weekly planning sheet - thereby keeping all "weekly focus" in one place. I have yet to make that happen, but I'm working on it! It would have to be something of my own design - something that would work within the framework of the weekly file folder.

Because ultimately it would be great to have a (portable) month @ a glance calendar and a weekly file folder with all the planning space I need for the week, in general, and the days of the week, specifically. Then I'd just be writing down information twice - once on the monthly calendar and once on the weekly file folder. But until I get that all straightened out (envisioned/created*) I will go with what's working well for me now.

(*I'm thinking the inside file folder cover would be a great place for that week @ a glance calendar ...)

Weeklyplanning3
Now, if I haven't bored you all yet, lol, I'd like to also quickly address a relevant question left by by Trish a while back, about why I choose paper planning over computerized ...

Hi Dawn ... I have a question for you. I notice you have a MacBook (I do too) and was curious why you don't use iCal for your planning purposes? I go back and forth between paper planners and iCal and can't seem to figure out which I like best! I love the physical act of writing (I was an art major in college long ago and understand the joy of writing on nice paper!) but I also enjoy the wonderful portability and ease of the MacBook/iPhone combination... especially at the grocery store and out running errands. Any thoughts?

Tirsh, while I find digital planning intriguing - especially in the case of grocery shopping as you mention above - I can't seem to give up my paper paraphernalia!

First, there's my aforementioned paper passion - but there's also my overall comfort level. I just find it easier to check in with my planner stuff as it is spread out on my counter - than it is to hop on my computer.

Then there's the whole trust issue - plainly put, I don't fully trust my computerized tools! Recently my MacBook crashed (due to a crimped wire inside the hard drive) and I could have lost all kinds of things. (Thankfully, I didn't!) Sure it's pretty easy to misplace a list or a folder, but in the end, I'm just more comfortable using my low-tech systems.

For example, I have this handy little shopping notebook - it's small enough to fit in my purse, but big enough for a good amount of notes. In it, I write out a weekly grocery shopping list which includes other errands like the pharmacy/library/etc. 

Now, I know I could keep this list on my iPhone, but I really just like using that notebook! I clip timely coupons to it - I jot things in it through the week as I think of them. I keep it in my hand - or propped up in the child seat of my carriage - as I walk around the store. All these actions just seem easier to me in notebook, rather than phone, form.

Now, I don't mean to disparage digital planning as a whole - I think it works fantastically for some people! (In fact, here's an article on digital planning at Parents.com.) And it probably is more efficient overall - and it's certainly less environmentally taxing. I won't rule out that someday I might be converted - but for now my paper junkie nature still rules, lol!

~****~

 Ok, that's all I have time for right now - I do have more reader comments and questions "on file" and will be getting to them just as soon as I can.

In the meantime, I hope you all have a lovely day ~ stay safe and be well!

I'll be back again very soon ...

:)


This Year's Holiday Planner

Hplanner1

It's hard to believe how fast Fall has flown by - Halloween is just six days away! Have you squared away your costumes? Laid in your candy stores? Picked out your pumpkins?

Now according to the local mall, I'm waaaay behind schedule, but now that October is coming to a close, I'm ready to set my sights on Thanksgiving and Christmas, the busy, bright and beautiful holiday season ...

To that end, I recently assembled my holiday planner, and placed it in the front section of my homekeeping binder. I keep it here, in this "place of honor," since I'll be concentrating on holiday plans now through the end of the year.

In our home, we host Thanksgiving dinner and a Christmas afternoon gathering. These are the two "big" entertaining events for us. At this time of year I'm also planning for a few feast days, a meaningful/magical Advent, and a homey/happy New Year's celebration.

Lots of fun to be had! Lots of plans to be made!

And so, as family "cruise director," I really depend on my holiday planner ...

Hplanner2

Behind the cover page, are all my planning pages. I used my greenroom legal pads (with soft green and blue accents) for these pages.

(A list of those planning pages is included below.)

Hplanner3

I also added in a print-out of Martha Stewart's Thanksgiving and Christmas checklists.

Hplanner4

And I used some pretty scrapbooking paper to make a November and December calendar.

Hplanner5

Hplanner7

(I doodle a lot - I'm silly like that.)

Next, I set up an open folder for the various holiday "clippings" I collect - recipes, catalog pages, craft ideas and the like. I just used a leftover bit of scrapbook paper and folded it in half, like a bill-fold.

A small metal clip holds it all together.

Hplanner8

In this way, it's easy to flip through the assorted pages and see what's what.

I stuck the clippings in my counter basket, where it's right in-view and in-reach. I've been adding things regularly - in fact, just this morning I added a recipe for mini mince pies. :)

Hplanner10

The planner itself rests on the countertop - alongside my weekly file folder and calendar. Behind the holiday planner is the rest of my homekeeping binder. After New Year's I'll retire the whole planner to the back of the binder. (And next year I'll review and start afresh.)

Hplanner9

Here's a list of the planning pages, in order:

(Green = Thanksgiving ~ Blue = Christmas ~ Red = New Year's)

This year's Grateful Tree project

Notes for November feast days & birthdays

Thanksgiving Dinner: guests, menu, make-ahead and cooking times

Shopping list (items/itinerary)

Table notes - seating/decor

House cleaning & prep list

Random to-do's

Activities & family traditions

Special words

This year's Advent Calendar project

Advent Sundays

Notes for December feast days & birthdays

Christmas to-do's: general, weekly

Christmas Cards 2011

Holiday newsletter-blog notes

Christmas Gifts 2011

Shopping list (items/itinerary)

Decorating: inside, outside

Gifts to make and bake

* Cheerful Hearts *

Activities & family traditions

Christmas Eve/Day timetable

Christmas Buffet: guests, menu, make-ahead, cooking times

Epiphany

Welcoming 2012

New Year Family Goals

* Charitable Hearts *

*†*†*†*†*†*†*†*†*†*†*†*†*†*†*†*†*†*†*

It seems like a lot, doesn't it? Well, the holidays do take some work, after all ...

Of course it's easy to go overboard, but hopefully with a cushion of time and perspective, we're able to keep things in balance. Because it's such a special time of year, and I don't like to spend it rushing around, stressing out or feeling low. If starting this far ahead and making all these lists brings us a little more peace and contentment this Christmas, then I'm all for it!

Well, I hope this post posed some ideas that might be useful for you. I'm sure we all have different lists - not to mention expectations - for the holidays, but I hope you enjoyed this all the same. :)

I also hope you all have a great week, and that you enjoy these last days of October. Our foliage here is just past peak, but with a rainstorm in the forecast for Thursday (not to mention a bit of snow!) I'm sure the trees will be bare before week's end. Such is the passing of seasons ~ and Autumn certainly goes out in a fiery hurrah!

As always, thanks so much for stopping by today. I wish you all well, and I look forward to being here again with you soon ...

**


A Few Quick Q & A's ...

Happy Monday, my friends! I hope your week's off to a great start!

First of all, I'd like to say thank you for all the "happy anniversary" wishes! It was a very nice day - then and now - and I'm glad you all enjoyed seeing a few of our wedding photos. As many of you remarked, we were (are) indeed blessed - and I try to remember and give thanks for that every day!

Now, currently we're in the midst of our "crazy" day here - "Mad Mondays" we like to call them, lol. It's two minutes to four, and my kitchen's a MESS! - but I wanted to take a moment to finish up this post, addressing a few recent questions.

Tammy asked about housekeeping lists ...

By any chance, did you post the seasonal housekeeping besides October anywhere? I'm looking for Spring, Summer, Winter ones too.

Tammy, please check out this archive in which you'll find my collection of monthly "Themes & Plans" posts. I include a housekeeping list for each month of the year (as well as garden, nature, faith and food lists).

Here are direct links to each monthly post:

November Housekeeping

December Housekeeping

January Housekeeping

February Housekeeping

March Housekeeping

April Housekeeping

May Housekeeping

June Housekeeping

July Housekeeping

August Housekeeping

September Housekeeping

October Housekeeping

You know, I wrote these lists over four years ago, but except for the movable dates (i.e. holidays and such) I find them pretty timeless. In fact, I refer to them every year as I plan a month or a season ahead! For easy reference, I printed out all the posts and filed them in my homekeeping binder, under my "Living" tab. :)

***

Teresa inquired about pens ...

Dawn, What is the brand of your favorite pen??

Teresa, I can be quite (ridiculously) obsessive about pencils and pens! (And don't get me started on paper, lol!) Currently my favorite pens are made by Uni-ball and they are called Jetstream pens. I like the blue ink best, but I always keep a few black and reds handy.

Pens1 

In the background are shown a few of my Crackerjack's favorite pens ... the Papermate "Flair" (medium tip). He seems to have inherited his mama's finickiness when it comes to writing instruments! (He uses his for drawing however, whereas I use mine primarily for writing.) Also, for labeling things (like file folders and binder tabs) I like a Sharpie Ultra Fine Point marker (not shown). 

***

And finally, Kristie asked about the notepad shown in this post ...

Where did you find the notepad with the date and list on the left? Looks like a very useful tool!

Kristie, I buy these notepads at Target - they have quite an array of office supplies! These pads are made by a company called "greenroom," and they come in a soft ecru with aqua or avocado accents. They are indeed a very useful stye of notepad! Perfect for to-do lists or project planning pages. I also love "greenroom" notebooks - I use a small one for my weekly shopping diary and a larger one for my weekly planning sheets. 

Here's a close-up ...

Notepad1

(This is a page from my holiday planner - post under way!) 

***

Well, that's all I have time for today, but I hope these bits and bobs of information were helpful to you! Thanks so much for stopping by ...

I'll see you all again very soon!

:)


A notebook to go with all those folders ...

Fcsnb1

Well, it's that time of year again ... I just replaced all my file crate folders - and oh, how pretty they look, all bright, fresh and crisp in my crateThe FCS (File Crate System) has always worked well for me, there no doubt about that - I love the way my weekly folders "tame the paper tiger," to coin a phrase. Having a place to put things is certainly a big help - there's less clutter, and less slips through the cracks - but the real trick for me is finding a good place to plan. A comfortable and convenient spot to plan ahead and work in throughout the week at hand. In case you hadn't noticed, I'm a bit fussy about that - hence the frequent posts regarding calendars and planners, both purchased and homemade. ;)

So this past weekend I found myself fiddling with my latest "vehicle" for weekly planning. Most recently I had a section devoted to this in my homekeeping binder - but it really just wasn't convenient. I found myself flipping back and forth between the month @ a glance and the weekly planning section. Also in the past I've made up weekly planning sheets and attached them to the front of the file folders. That seemed like such a great idea - but it was inconvenient not having the weekly plans all together in one place. I also didn't like having to fish out a particular folder if I needed to write something down for the future - say, an idea for a Memorial Day outing, or a book sale at the end of the summer.

So anyhoo, I'm trying something new (yet again!), and so far I like how it looks and feels. I'm still working on the inside pages, but the outside came out so pretty I had to show it to you all. :)

Basically, I just gussied up a plain, spiral-bound notebook (shown below at far left) with some paper, stickers and ribbon. 

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I used decoupage glue for adhering the paper to the front cover:

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I added a pretty, sheer red ribbon as a page-marker ...

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And some stickers for the front label:

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It fits quite nicely in the front of the crate. :)

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So now I'm working on setting up the inside, corresponding the dates with the file folders (May 2011 - May 2012). There are plenty of pages so each week is assigned a 2-page spread. I also bought a brand new academic month @ a glance calendar - actually, it's an old style I used (happily) for years. It's thin, light, portable and practical. It, too, fits nicely in the front of the file crate as well as the folder bin I keep at the side of my desk - and I'll be "personalizing" that next. :)

I'll post more about how I'm using the weekly notebook in conjunction with my weekly folders just as soon as I can. But for now I wish you all a lovely ... and safe ... week. Especially as we head into the holiday weekend - and especially in light of the storms ravaging so much of our country. May God be with us all!

**


Comments and a Really Cool Video!

I'm catching up on my comment replies this morning, but I wanted to pop on and link you all to this NEAT journalmaking video Barb left me recently. It appears to be a clever product line called "Smash" but basically it's what I've been doing with my plain old Mead notebooks - making messy but meaningful journals. :)

So take a peek and enjoy! I'll be back later today with another post (I think, I hope) ... just wanted to stop in and say hello this morning. 

Have a great Wednesday, my friends!

Journals 



Weekend Project:

Wkndjournals 

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

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

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

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

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

Journalshelf

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

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


A Special Offer for my Readers!

Well this just about made my day! The wonderful folks at Night Owl Paper Goods left this comment on my Happy Things post today ...

Dawn,

Thank you so much for featuring our doily stars jotter, made from eco-friendly, sustainably-harvested wood! We’re so happy to see so many people choosing earth-friendly alternatives nowadays!

To thank you for your support, we’d like to offer you and your readers 10% off all wooden journal and jotter orders placed before January 20! Check out our selection of wooden journals and jotters at http://nightowlpapergoods.com/home.php?cat=7 and simply enter the coupon code "happythings” at check-out.

Here’s to staying organized and making a positive impact in 2010!

How sweet is that?! I am honored and thrilled to post this special offer here at my blog!

Please do take a moment to pop in at their charming website - I was perusing it the other day and there all kinds of fun things to check out. Whimsical paper goods, cards for every occasion - as lovely as they are earth-friendly. Currently I'm in the process of organizing a nice little correspondence basket for myself - I'm resolving to be better about letter-writing and card-sending this year! In fact, I just mailed out this very card to a fellow Capricorn friend this week. I loved the pattern, the citrusy shades and the feel of the paper - which was actually made from 100% recycled cotton! 

So thank you, Night Owl Paper Goods, for stopping by with your kind words and special offer - and best wishes to you for a Very Happy New Year! :)

And p.s. Thank you to my readers for your happy birthday wishes! My day was very nice - Bill surprised me by coming home early (when I thought he was going to have to work late!) and my folks had us over for a lovely birthday supper.

A few pics to share:

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The boys gave me a dozen red roses! I set them in our sunny front window this morning.

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The night sky as we arrived at my parents' house ... 

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My birthday cake - vanilla with buttercream frosting - my favorite! :)


A Few Happy Things Today ...

A new journal on the desktop ...
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It was finally time to start a new journal. (The last time I made one was in early October!) I chose a pale green, bird-themed paper and a pastel alphabet ribbon for my pagemarker. I've been remiss in my journaling of late. 

Something actually alive at the nature corner ...
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A touch of spring - courtesy the local market, not the backyard - makes the afternoon light all the more cheerful. 

New textbooks in the mail ...
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Bookworm's new algebra curriculum arrived a few moments ago via UPS. Yes, he really is happy about it! The kid lives and breathes math, lol.

The Squirrel-Go-Round gets some action!
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Our first - and only - customer took the bait, but figured things out and balanced himself pretty well. I think we expected more humor from the situation.

It's that time of day ...
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My kitchen timer keeps me on track through the day and here the clock is showing me a great time of day. Bill is on his way home, there are six more minutes till I start fixing supper and the oven has just finished preheating. What's for supper you say? Tonight it's meatloaf, baked potatoes, salad and garlic bread. (Have you noticed we eat garlic bread at every meal, lol? And nope, not a drop of Italian blood in our veins - we just love us some garlic.) 
Just before I sat down to finish up this post, I slipped an apple crisp into the lower oven. Now the kitchen smells really good. 

Hope your week's off to a good start. So, tell me ...
What made you happy today?

From My Desk: Pretty Little Notebooks

As addicted as I am to office supply stores and the myriad materials found within, nothing beats the fun in making my own desk accessories! So, remember the pretty papers I showed you last weekend? Well, here's what I've been up to ...

Notepads1 

The papers feature all those sherbert-y colors I love and the cutest little owls. I adore owls these days - and according to the scrapbook store lady, they are very "hot" right now. (Who knew, lol?) I bought several sheets in coordinating colors and patterns. These are all produced by a company called Sassafras. Check out that link - such cute papers! (They even have a blog here.)

So what kind of notebooks did I make up? We'll here we go ...

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A budget & marketing notebook. A page to write out the month's budget and all the weekly expenses/shopping lists in between. I even made up a coupon packet for the back cover:

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(I'll only add the coupons I'm planning to use each week. I'll take this notebook with me while I shop.)

Next comes a new gardening journal:

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(That middle image is a rub-on.) I attached a pencil with some twine. When I walk around the yard making notes it's handy to have a pencil.

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This will be a master-to-do list - just a running list of things to "remember."

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This is a small assignments notebook I bought at the start of the year. I had intended to use it as a place to write down brief "teacher" notes each day, but I haven't really been using it like I thought - or at all. Maybe the paper will make all the difference, lol! Peeking out from the bottom is an alphabet ribbon pagemarker.

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I am particularly excited about this little book. It is a blank "chipboard" tab book made by October Afternoon (a new favorite of mine) with 16 pages of soft, lined paper and 4 tabbed sections inside. I plan to fill it with notes for Earlybird's nature-based K-1 curriculum. Kind of a catchall for my thoughts regarding nature, learning, crafts and simple celebrations for each quarter of the year.

A peek inside:

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I stamped those tabs myself, in case you couldn't tell, lol. They're not done very well, but they'll do. :)

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I'm so scrap-happy right now, I had to use a little scrap to make a bookmark for myself. I added the monogram tag as an afterthought. 

Speaking of monogram tags, I added a new pagemarker to my current journal:

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Another little side-project today - gussying up my new clipboard (the one I posted about last year was long ago commandeered by the kids). 

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Those are scrapbook paper punch-out letters - I secured them with a length of clear mailing tape. I use this clipboard to hold any "action items" for the week.

Now, my final picture has absolutely nothing to do with the rest of this post, but I wanted to share it anyway:

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As you can see, we got a LOT of snow over the weekend! And in the foreground is one of my leftover birthday cupcakes ~ vanilla cake, penuche frosting. Oh, so very delicious. :)

Well, stay tuned! I still have lots of paper leftover, so there may be more notebooks to show you before long. In the meantime, I  hope you all enjoyed a lovely long weekend. Thanks for stopping by ~ I'll see you all again sometime soon!

More on Seasonal Planning (and The File Crate)

In a comment left after my last post, Jennifer asked: 

"Do seasonal binders mean the end of the file folders??"

It's a very good question, Jennifer, and one I asked myself, because I do try to limit the number of "systems" I use to keep my household on track. But for now, the answer is no, the planners will not replace the file system - but they will, hopefully, complement it. 

The seasonal planners are mainly places for note-taking and strategizing. Throughout the year, events, activities and projects come up that need more than a simple reminder - they need some detailed attention.

So, in the Winter this might be a mid-year review, a new hobby (bread-baking) or an impromptu unit study (wolves). In the Spring this might be Easter or a new garden plan or a First Communion celebration. In the summer this might be a vacation, a summer reading plan or a shell-collecting bag I'd like to make. In the fall this could be a home project, a bake sale or a Halloween party. And of course it goes without saying that the Holidays (November and December) bring major plans between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

It's all part of the job description of course. ;) As a full-time mother, this is what I do - I plan these kinds of things out for my family, and it's both a huge blessing and an enormous responsibility! But since I don't do well "last minute" and I don't have a lot of (any) extra time on my hands, I know that if I'm going to pull something off, I really need to plan and prepare ahead of time. I need a place to hash things out - to write my notes and make my lists, and unfortunately, the file crate isn't really the place to do this ...

It would be great if it could be - it would obviously make things simpler just to have the ONE place where ALL plans and information and reminders are kept. I tried to make it work - but keeping planning pages inside the folders was just a mess. Even making up special folders for holidays didn't work (out of sight, out of mind). I realized I really need to keep timely projects front and center - hiding them in the file folders didn't do that. 

So how do I decide where something goes? Well, let me try to briefly illustrate the difference.

If I get a reminder card from the orthodontist (or the vet or the eye doctor) in the mail, I pop it in the appropriate file folder (i.e. the week the appointment is scheduled). If I find a coupon for a special sale or a flyer for an interesting class, I do the same thing. An e-mail reminder for an upcoming field trip would also go in a folder, as would an invitation to a party.

All these things warrant a brief mention on the calendar or maybe an action or two on the to-do list.

But let's take something more complex, say something like Easter. A holiday that means so much to our family, to our children in particular, takes some planning and forethought. There are books to read, crafts to make, special food to make, baskets to prep, Masses to attend and of course, a big family dinner to host. For an event like this, I need lists (how I love lists!), and clippings and space in which to work it all out. An "Early Spring" planner filled with plenty of paper and pockets for storing clippings (etc.) seems a good place to do that. 

Does any of this make any sense, lol? :)

I plan to keep the current season's planner out and about in my workspace so that it is always at my fingertips (in other words, the most timely projects are fresh in my mind). The rest of the binders will sit on that shelf I showed you in my last post - still close by, but out of the way. As I think up a new project or when a new event pops up, I will start a planning page in the appropriate binder and mark the project (event/activity) on the index page. 

I hope this helps clear things up a bit for you all. Thanks to Jennifer for asking the question and getting this ball rolling. :) I will be revisiting this topic again before long, I am sure, so please don't hesitate to leave me more questions if you have them. I certainly don't profess to be a home management expert (by any means!) but I keep trying to make things work a little bit better for my family. To my mind, we can all use a fresh idea now and again - you never know when it might be just the ticket!

Well, I hope you all have a good Wednesday. We are fighting a cold here and an snow-ice storm is moving through the area. Very wintry, indeed. 

See you all again sometime soon!

*Planners for the Seasons*

Seasons1

The other day I mentioned the seasonal planners I am setting up for the new year. I wanted to share a little more about them, since I now have them ready to go.

Before I get started though, can I just mention how nice the winter sunshine feels today? It's pretty cold here (31 at the moment) but the sun seems so much brighter than it did just a month ago. On days like these, it's easy to lull ourselves into thinking that spring might not be all that far away ... of course, there's a storm coming in tonight, so that will put us right back in our place.

Anyway, back to those planners! Each one is assigned a season (there are six in all), and the whole set is coordinated with my household journal:

Seasons2

(Those are tiny alphabet stickers I bought at Michael's last month - for an Advent project that will now have to wait till next year - but I've been finding lots of uses for them anyway. I love how old-fashioned they look - they work well with the paper I chose.) 

Setting up the binders was actually very quick and easy. I chose paper to match each season and cut them to fit inside the cover of a clear view-front binder. Then, inside each binder I placed a yellow index page, a print-out of my Themes and Plans for those months, looseleaf paper for project planning and the calendar pages. (I'll mark the individual projects with press-on tabs.)

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Lastly, I placed alphabet tags on the spine of each binder signifying the months held inside:

Seasons7

Six Seasons to Plan:

Winter ~ January & February

Early Spring ~ March & April

Late Spring ~ May & June

Summer ~ July & August

Autumn ~ September & October

Holiday ~ November & December

I made room for all of the binders on my workspace shelves - see them tucked in there on the 4th shelf down?

Seasons8 

They fit in rather well, and they're at an arm's length from where I sit when I work. (And by "work" I mean - teach, pay bills, plan meals, blog, plan, surf online ... etc.) 

Seasons10 

Well, I'm running out of time today but in a future post I'll list the projects that I have filed in each binder. Thanks for joining me here today. I hope your week is off to a good start! :)


Sunday Pleasantries

A bright and busy day comes to a close, and I have a few pictures to share ...

Busybright1

My sunny afternoon work-corner. 

I'm still plugging my way through Inkheart and - fingers crossed - I hope to finish before Book Group on Thursday. It's not that it's not a good story (it is), it's just that I can't find the time to get through it. Now I know that I could be reading right now instead of computing, but somehow, I find it easier to blog rather than read in the midst of all this hubbub ...

In the background is my "new" homekeeping binder (really just my old one - resurrected, reshuffled and spiffed up with a pretty new cover). I'm trying to streamline the contents and make it more user-friendly - in hopes that I'll actually use it. I pulled out the monthly planning sections, and made up a set of six binders for the seasons of the year:

Busybright6

More on these in a future post ...

I next have to tell you about the delicious treat we cooked up this afternoon:

Busybright3

Don't you just love Trader Joe's? I don't get there that often (I'm more likely to shop at Whole Foods) but it's always a fun trip when I do. (I'm one of those nutty folks who actually enjoys food shopping, lol.) 

Really though, if you have a TJ's near you, this stuff is not to be missed. A scoop of it, mixed into eight ounces of hot milk, made what could be the best cup of cocoa I've ever had. Seriously. The chocolate was rich, the mint flavor was light and (as the label promised) not in the least bit artificial tasting - because it was natural mint - which means, Earlybird can partake. (I understand this stuff is only available at the holidays, so I'm stocking up this week.) 

Bookworm, my fellow cocoa connoisseur, insists it was my homemade whipped cream that made all the difference:

Busybright5

To my mind, there's not much that can't be improved with a generous dollop of homemade whipped cream. I used to shy away from making it because doing so involved hauling my Kitchenaid down off the top of the fridge and then cleaning up all the mess after. But now I use this handy-dandy device that Bill gave me for Christmas last year. I also use it to chop arthichokes and the smoothies we make are awesome! When I'm done, I just click off the whip (or chopper thing, depending on what I'm making) and rinse it off. Done. The whole kit and caboodle goes back in the cabinet. (I swear I don't work for Braun, I just really love this machine!)

And one last picture, now that things aren't so busy or bright. This is the view to my left as I sit here finishing this post:

Brightbusy7

My favorite little winter candles, all soft and glowing in the dark. You might be surprised to know, those are not real candles in there. They are battery-operated tealights, possibly the most genius invention since sliced bread. They even flicker, for goodness sakes! I LOVE candlelight but with curious cats and a special needs child, an open flame just presents too much of a risk in our home. Enter these brilliant little things and I can have candlelight whenever I want - which is pretty much whenever the sun sets.

Well, I'm going to wrap this all up now and call it a day - I have three boys to tuck in and a movie to watch with my fella. I wish you all a lovely night ~ see you all again very soon!


About that picture ...

A few folks have asked me about the picture I used in my Daybook entry this week:

Prepared

This is a close-up of my homekeeping binder - or, more to the point, the cover of my homekeeping binder. I took a sheet of scrapbooking paper I found at the craft store and slipped it inside the clear-view cover. (What would I ever do without scrapbooking paper, lol?)

I thought the design was neat and fitting, but I must confess, this is actually my old homekeeping binder cover. Since this picture was taken I've retooled the whole thing - kit and caboodle, contents and cover, inside and out.

Why would I do such a thing? Well, for one thing, I'm just crazy that way. ;) But for another, the binder really wasn't working for me, and I am determined to make it work for me. By golly.

So, how is your homekeeping notebook working for you? (If you use one, that is.)


September's Palette: An Autumn Wayside Walk

Oh, I wish I could really and truly share yesterday's "feel" with you all: it was a gray, breezy and warm day ... the promise of rain was thick in the air. So very September. :) We brought Earlybird to therapy and instead of sitting in the waiting room as we usually do (with books and notebooks and other things to keep us busy), we took a little jaunt out to the wayside - to an overgrown area near the roadway that was positively burgeoning with life, bursting with the miracle of autumn.

Wayside1

I've had my eye on this little area, suspecting there was more to it than just the blur of greenery we barely notice as we drive by, as we do once a week at least. I'm glad we finally made the time to take this walk because there really was so much to see! We'll add these photos to our nature notebooks, and turn to our favorite field guides for help with identification.

Please allow me to share with you our finds, a sampling of September's palette:

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A milkweed pod, releasing its seeds to the air.

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More seed pods and seed heads.

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A dragonfly so large it seemed prehistoric, lol.

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A bee perched on goldenrod, burrs below.

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Cattails hinted at wetlands within.

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Milkweed, perhaps?

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The delicate jewelweed vine.

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Not sure what this is!

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A dragonfly at rest.

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Doesn't this look like a seed fairy?

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A lovely little copper butterfly.

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Could this be an astilbe plant? Growing wild?

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Fly away home ladybug, to someplace warm!

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A mass of Michaelmas daisies, or wild asters.

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September's herald, goldenrod.

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These pretty seed heads look like jellyfish!

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Do you see the bird on the rocks?

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Purple loosestrife - pretty but very invasive.

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Tiny, young acorns.

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Deadly Nightshade - pretty but poisonous!

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Perhaps an owl nests in here?

Looking back over these photos, I can remember the stillness of the day, the increasing breeze that hinted at storms approaching, and the loud hum of insects that seemed to drown out the passing traffic. It was one of those mornings when I am particularly grateful we homeschool, because days like this are too fleeting - I'm glad the boys and I got to spend this time savoring September together.

Well, I hope you enjoyed our little autumn walk, and I hope maybe it inspires you to check out a little wild wayside near where you live. You'd be amazed how much is going on in there!

Ands always, thanks for stopping by ... I'll see you all again sometime soon! :)


~ Thoughts on Nature Journals ~

Many homeschoolers relish the practice - or at least the idea - of keeping a nature journal. Really, it's a wonderful tool for channeling those lessons learned through formal, or informal, nature study. Personally, I love the idea of a handmade journal, filled with notes and drawings and maybe even real-live (or once-live) specimens. This is my ideal form of nature journaling - for myself as well as my boys - but so far our attempts at paper journals have pretty much fizzled. We're good for a week or two, and then those new notebooks gets put aside.

I have not given up hope, though. (I'm nothing if not hopeful!) After much contemplation, I have come to think we will do better with one big family field journal instead of aiming to keep up three or four. After all, for the most part, we experience nature all together, and those experiences are all the more fruitful because they are shared. I think (and hope) the same reasoning will apply to a journal. This is our summer goal #1, and the cornerstone of our summer project, Forest School (details soon!), so stay tuned to follow along with our progress. :)

But in the meantime, I hate to see our nature study go by without chronicling it in some way, so I turn to the wonders of virtual reality; I post our photos and nature notes here at my blog (and in turn at my Nature Corner for storage). But because my boys don't regularly tune into my blogs, I also keep a nature shelf up-to-date with their little finds and other symbols of the season (books, puppets, etc.). In this way - through the notes and photos and tiny treasures brought home - bit by bit, we capture the everyday nature that makes up our world ...

If you love the idea of nature journaling, but find it a challenge to work it into your already busy home-learning life, consider an online journal (or in other words, a blog). You don't have to go public - it can be made private, and available only to those folks with whom you share your password. If you have a digital camera, uploading pictures is so quick and easy (believe me, if I can learn to do it, anyone can). And jotting down brief observations daily or every few days, could not be easier. For a better idea of the possibilites of online nature journaling, check out my Nature Blogroll over on my righthand sidedar - there are many lovely sites there to peruse. :)

But finally, it's on to my photos for today! I have scads of them piling up, and since Spring moves fast around here, I'd like to share them before they get outdated! Thanks for listening to my thoughts on nature journaling, and thanks for checking in to see what we're up to!

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The first tender shoots of what I believe to be lilly-of-the-valley.

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The bleeding hearts are, at last, in full boom.

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This is a red-winged blackbird at a local park.

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This is an earthworm the boys found; it was huge. (A nightcrawler?)

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The sky-view from where I stand as I push Earlybird on the swings. :)

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Tree buds a week ago - they've since opened!

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Another tree-in-the-sky shot. (I just love photographing trees.)

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A busy bee at a local park. (Unidentified tree.)

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Can you see the robin in the evening light?

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The last bit of sunset.

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Photograph by Bookworm ~ a baby dragonfly (?) resting on my hat!

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A killdeer we spotted at a nearby lake.

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A mourning dove pair nestled in an evergreen. (See his mate?)

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I loved the way these tree buds (blossoms, leaves?) looked in the sun.

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We found an owl pellet at the base of this tree, so we think this is a nest!

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These will become helicopter seeds in the fall!

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A lovely but unidentified flowering tree, pretty against the blue.

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A johnny jump-up I'm attempting to press.

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A morel mushroom we found in our yard; now it rests on our nature shelf.

As you can tell, I get as much pleasure - and education - out of nature study, as my boys do! And this is another good reason for working on one journal all together ~ none of us is an expert. Even though I wear the teacher's (and mother's) cap, we're all learning right alongside each other. As with so many things in our life, this is very much a joint venture. :)

Well, I must be off now, but if I may, let me leave you with a quote from one of my favorite nature handbooks ...

"The chief charm of nature study would be taken away if it did not lead us through the border-land of knowledge into the realm of the undiscovered. Moreover, the teacher, in confessing her ignorance and at the same time her interest in a subject, establishes between herself and her pupils a sense of companionship which relieves the strain of discipline, and gives her a new and intimate relation with her pupils which will surely prove a potent element in her success. The best teacher is always one who is the good comrade of her pupils." (Handbook of Nature Study, Anna Comstock)