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My 2022 Planning Sheets! (FINALLY!)

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Good Monday morning, my friends! Well - at long long last, here are ALL of my 2022 planning sheets!

I am working on a follow-up post with details on A. how I assemble my own planner using these sheets - and, B. how I maintain and utilize the planner itself! That post is still in draft form, and as I didn't want to delay any further in getting these sheets to you all, here they are! (And just a day shy of the new month!)

I hope you enjoy my work, and as always, please feel free to use these sheets for your own personal use. If you share them online, please tag me or link back here to my blog. And if you have any problems uploading the PDF links, please let me know! Leave me a comment here or shoot me an email at drhanigan AT gmail DOT com.

Ok, here we go! Happy New(ish) Year, everyone! Talk again soon ... Love, Dawn

Front Section

January 2022

February 2022

March 2022

April 2022

May 2022

June 2022

July 2022

August 2022

September 2022

October 2022

November 2022

December 2022


Hello, February!

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Hello, my friends and Happy Monday! I'm here - at last! - on this bright and frigid last day of January to share my February planning sheets with you all. I had hoped to post these much earlier today (much earlier PERIOD!), but my 12-week old puppy had a thing or two to say about that ... ;-)

Seriously though, I do apologize for posting these much later than I intended. I want you to know I do not plan to do this every month! In fact, my goal is to get the whole set of my 2022 planning sheets to you all just as soon as I can! Thanks so much for your patience. I know some of you use these sheets as your primary planner!

Ok, without further apologies and explanations, here are my ...

February 2022 Planning Sheets!

As always, they are free for your personal use. If you'd like to share them online, please tag me or link back to my blog. And lastly, please let me know if you have trouble with the links or have any questions!

Sometimes I have these sheets spiral-bound at Staples, and I may still do that once I get the rest of them created, but for now I am keeping them in a 3-ring binder.

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Now, while I have you here, I thought I'd share a few things we've been up to recently! Here is a look at the coffee/tea cupboard I cleared out and re-organized yesterday:

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Oh my GOODNESS was this cupboard a mess!!

I first took everything out and wiped down the insides with a damp cloth. Then I decided what we actually needed on a daily basis. (Extra teas and flavored coffee went to the downstairs pantry.) Finally I found some containers for keeping certain things organized: coffee beans, nut-based creamer, honey and other sweeteners, some flavored syrups, decaffeinated tea bags, loose tea, a tea carafe, vanilla sugar and cinnamon sticks.

I'm working my way around the kitchen - slowly but surely - so stay tuned for more decluttering pictures! :-)

***

Now, as some of you might know, New England had a big snowstorm this weekend and today Little Bear and Fenway and I had a super fun nature walk romp through the yard!

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Meanwhile, the girls were not amused with this deep winter weather!


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***

Back in the kitchen, we warmed up with some hot while chocolate - celebrating National Hot Chocolate Day!IMG_7515And Little Bear helped me make Nana's Penuche frosting ...

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For supper tonight: a roast of turkey kielbasa, potatoes, multi-colored carrots and peppers plus a loaf of crusty bread. A wintertime favorite around here!

Well my friends, I'd best sign off now but I hope you are all keeping well and that your winter is going wonderfully so far. I'll be back with more planning sheets - and more late winter comforts - very soon!


Happy New Year, and ...

... can you believe how big these young people are getting??
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The Hanigan Kids, November, 2021

Hello, my fond and faraway friends - long time no see! I cannot BELIEVE it's been an entire YEAR since my last post here!

This was definitely the longest "break" I've ever taken from blogging - unintentional, certainly, but that's just the way the ball rolled around here this past year! As for most of you I suspect, 2021 - much like 2020- was an up and down kind of year for us. (I'll share a family update in an upcoming post.) But for today I wanted to get my January 2022 planning sheets posted here for those readers who like to use them!

My apologies that A. they are so very last minute, and B. I only have the first PDF (January) to share so far. #dontmakepromisesyoucantkeep 😬  I do have the whole year in draft form and I will be adding more PDFs here over the next few weeks. Watch for that pinned post at the top of this page to update soon!

Ok, here is the first in a 12-part installment:

2022 Planning Sheets: January

Please feel free to print and use these at home for your personal use. If you share the sheets online, I'd appreciate a tag or link back to my blog (or IG acct.) and as always, let me know if you have any trouble opening the files! :-)

(Speaking of IG - or Instagram - if you are able to access that platform, I post there almost every day. Do check my feed for a peek at some of our "doings" this past year.)

Ok and now, finally, since I have you here ... I would like to share some very happy news that just unfolded over the past couple of weeks ...

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We have a dog now!!

My friends, please meet, Fenway! This is our yellow Lab puppy who is all of 8 weeks old and just came home to live with us yesterday. Isn't he handsome??

It's kind of a neat story how his arrival came to be, and if you'll indulge me a moment or ten, I'd love to share it!

About a month ago we decided we wanted to get a dog, but it all came about after a few twists and turns! Little Bear (as you know, an avid animal enthusiast) had been campaigning for some kind of pet he could handle (as in, hold, pet, play with) in a way the cats (bless 'em) don't really allow. So that ruled out fish, turtles, birds and lizards (though each were considered, briefly) and then hamsters and guinea pigs also seemed a bad idea (re - the aforementioned cats) ... and then finally we seemed to settle on the idea of a bunny. Bill even purchased an adorable used bunny hutch and we started planning for how to go about getting ourselves a bunny and how (on earth) we would keep and manage that bunny.

Then I had a very important conversation with a dear friend who owns a bunny as well as three dogs, and after that chat I realized A. a bunny was not a great fit for our family (or at least, Little Bear's needs) and B. we might actually be ready for a dog!

What happened next was a very quick and fortuitous thing. We started out looking at many different adoption options. Our priority was choosing a breed that was known to be gentle, good-natured and comfortable with a large, busy family. Healthy, happy and hale, and as easy-care as possible. So we started searching different prospects online, when one day, Earlybird and his therapist bumped into our neighbor who introduced them to her new lab puppy. When she learned we were in the market for a new puppy, she told them there was one still available from her breeder ... soooo we called right away and spoke with said breeder, and because we had the reference of our neighbor she offered him to us!! All the other pups were spoken for ...

So we visited this pup the very next day and absolutely FELL IN LOVE! ❤

Fast forward two weeks to yesterday, the day our pup was ready to be brought home and now - here we are! 

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What do the cats think, you might wonder? Well ... it will be a slow warm-up I think. So far, they are mostly just curious and perhaps a little on edge. Both parties are aware of each other, but we are not allowing any contact yet. All "socializing" is done through gates and crate doors. 

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So we are going to take the introduction slooowly. Fingers crossed, they'll at least learn to tolerate him - and yes, he does match the cats - even the chickens are "buff" colored! 😅

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Anyhoo - as I mentioned above, I will have a family update for you in an upcoming post (hoping to do some Wintertime Teas), but let me just say briefly, that we are all doing well. Crackerjack actually tested positive for Covid the morning after Christmas, but he has been in isolation since (feeling much better now) and the rest of  us knock on wood are fine. (Little Bear, who has a bad cold, tested negative yesterday.) We are all vaccinated (even LB, who gets his second dose this week) and very careful about where we go and always wear masks in public. But such is the state of things now, nearly two years into this pandemic - breakthroughs are happening and a countrywide surge is upon us again. Let's hope and pray 2022 brings better days!

Be safe and well, my friends and I wish you all a very Happy New Year! I will see you here again very soon ...

xoxo ,

~ Dawn


My Homemade 2021 Planner + Free Printables!

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Hello my friends and Happy New Year! I hope you and your loved ones are all safe and well. :-)

As I announced yesterday on my Instagram and Facebook, I have posted links to all my 2021 planning sheets - at long last! I have them all pinned at the top of this page - which, you might have noticed, has gotten a bit of a makeover ...

New year, new design!

Anyhoo - my apologies for getting my planning sheets up so very late this year. My hope was to post the PDFs last weekend, but computer issues bogged me down ... and then Thursday morning, as I was chugging along getting very close to the finish line, Earlybird became suddenly quite ill. We ended up taking him to the emergency room and then staying overnight at the hospital. Not quite the way we wanted to spend New Year's Eve, but perhaps rather fitting for the infamous year that was 2020!

Most importantly though, Earlybird is home now and doing much better. He'd been diagnosed with a sinus infection Tuesday at the pediatrician's, but by Thursday morning his face had swelled up and he'd developed a high fever. At the hospital he was diagnosed with "facial cellulitis" and immediately put on intravenous antibiotics. As you can imagine, this experience was incredibly difficult and frightening for Earlybird (as well as his parents). Thankfully the hospital staff was excellent - sensitive and supportive - and EB was so brave, a real trooper! Unfortunately, his fear of needles made it impossible to continue the IV treatment on Friday once the first portal became corrupted, so we were sent home with oral medication and instructions to monitor his recovery closely. So far, (two days post-discharge), he has improved quite a bit. I have been begging prayers all around my social media platforms and I will ask them of you all too, if I may. If you could think of my EB and send him positive thoughts and healing energy, and any prayers if you can spare them - that he continues to heal fully and without any further complications ... I would be so very grateful!

Ok, now - enough of all that, let's take look at my planner, shall we? 

This is the fourth or fifth year I've made up a homemade planner like this, and I must say I am especially pleased with the results this time around! And I know I say this every year, but I really do hope to make this planner available for purchase sometime in the near future. I think I've really got the hang of making it now, I just need to figure out the "logistics" of setting up shop! (Watch for a planner mailing list later this winter for interested folks!)

In the meantime however, please feel free to use these sheets any way you wish, as long as it's for personal use. And if you post about them online, please give me a tag!

Ok, so let me walk you through how I put this planner together ...

First of all, I use a higher quality printer paper for printing out my planning sheets. This year I used Xerox "Bold Professional Premium Quality Printer Paper" (24 lb., 98 bright). I purchased it at CVS. I find that if I use a lower quality, "copy" paper, the planner pages are somewhat see-through, a little rougher to the feel and don't take my pen-ink well.

I use this paper to print out the 12 monthly PDFs plus the Front Section PDF and stack them in order.

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I then choose a pretty piece of scrapbooking card-stock weight paper for my cover. I decided to go with a soft bluish-green plaid paper this year ...

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... and I used some glittery, soft-aqua letter stickers as well. :-)

Ok, next!

I then create 12 monthly divider pages using thicker card-stock paper. This is not strictly necessary - you could edge the monthly title pages with washi paper to make them stand out - but I like the extra strength and stability those thicker dividers lend to my planners.

For these divider pages, I like to use vintage-style scrapbooking papers I found on Amazon years ago. The particular designs I used have gone out of print, but Graphic 45 always has lovely collections to choose from! As an example, here is the January divider:

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(Note: as these collections come in 12"x12" sheets, I cut them down to fit my 8.5"x11" planner.)

I also use a sturdy piece of chipboard for the back cover of my planner.

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Just for fun, I made a cozy little date-stamp for the back cover:

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(I can't remember exactly where I purchased that nest sticker but it might have been at Paper Source.)

Once I have all the pages of my planner in order, I bring my planner to Staples to have it spiral-bound. This costs about $5 and is usually a pretty quick service. I was happy to have a choice between black and blue coil-binding this year - and I went with the blue!

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(Note: I have also used these sheets in a 3-ring binder. I love that option for the flexibility, but I find writing in a spiral-bound book much easier than writing in - and carrying around - a binder.)

Ok, here is a look-see through my planner!

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Title Page

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New Year Thoughts Page

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January Cover Page

(Note: I search Pinterest for *vintage "month" images* to use in my planners. As long as I'm not profiting from these planning sheets I believe the images are free to use for personal use.)

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Two-page monthly calendar spread (right side).

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January Notes Calendar

(This was my original month-at-a-glance calendar before I figured out how to make a two-page spread! I've used this in different ways over the years - for dinner menus, nature notes and even as a habit tracker.)

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January Overview: To-dos, Home & Garden Goals, Budget and Seasonal Ideas.

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The weekly spread, left side (overview) ...

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The weekly spread, right side (agenda and notes).

(Beginning with the coming week (1/4-1/10), there is a spread like this for each week of the year. In addition to the monthly pages shown above, there is also a monthly review page as well as a couple of extra lined planning pages for each month.)

In a follow-up post I will show you some of my completed planner pages to give you an idea how I actually USE this planner! But for now I will wrap up, and bid you all a fond farewell on this dark, snowy Sunday night. Please let me know if you have any troubles with the links for my planning sheets - I should mention that sometimes the files can be slow to load. But I do hope you enjoy them and I will look forward to talking "planners and planning" again here with you all very soon!

Take care, my friends! Be well and at peace.

❤


Seasonal Learning, Spring Week 2: "Spring Is Soft"

(A free printable!)

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March comes in like a lion, and goes out like a lamb ... (traditional folklore)

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Hello, my friends ... I hope this post finds you and your loved ones safe and well. What a long strange week it's been ...

We're all doing fine here ... still hunkered down of course, as is most of the world these days. Counting our blessings, while praying fervently for an end to this awful virus ... 

Anyhoo, I wanted to pop in today to share the next installment in my Seasonal Learning series, and this week we're exploring the idea that "Spring is Soft." You'll have to check out my PDF (linked below) to find out just what I mean by that!

A few highlights: pussy willows, lambs and baby animals, gentle rain, warm sun, soft earth and fresh air! Plus we're getting ready for Easter and we're doing some spring cleaning as well!

Ok, here 'tis:

March 30-April 5, 2020: "Spring Is Soft"

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Please let me know if you have any questions or problems with any of the links. (I've had some trouble getting mail from Typepad, so feel free to email me directly: drhanigan AT gmail DOT com.) As I mention in my plans, I have a Pinterest board for each week's activities and you can find this week's pins here. :-)

As always my PDF is printable and free for your personal use and is filled with many links to stories, activities and recipes, etc. Also, as always, I must note that we do not plan to do everything on this plan! But I do find it fun to brainstorm these ideas and I do hope you find it useful for you and your own dear ones!

Ok then, I'll be off - but thanks so much for stopping by today ... I pray your week ahead is a good (safe and healthy) one!

Take care of yourselves and your loves ones, my friends ...

I'll see you here again very soon!


Seasonal Learning, Spring Week 1: "Sleepy Seeds"

(A free printable!)

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Hello, my friends ... I hope this post finds you well.

And, my .... what a few weeks it's been. I hope and pray you are all safe at home with your loved ones and that you're all feeling well. We are all ok here - just taking things day by day and trying to be as careful as we can be. Massachusetts, like many other states and countries around the world, is now under a stay-at-home advisory, so aside from going out for groceries and essential supplies (medications and such) we are just not leaving our home these days. Thankfully, Bill can work from home and the older boys are doing their college classes online, and Earlybird is working with his ABA each day for several hours. Renee has been an amazing support for us through all of this and we are grateful ABA is considered an "essential business."

In the meantime, Little Bear and I are plugging along with our homeschooling, enjoying the novelty of having everybody home at the same time as well as the lovely surprise of an early spring. As I mentioned in my last post, I am going to be sharing our nature-based lesson plans with you all here, in case they might be helpful to someone, especially those who are new to the whole homeschooling gig! Most of our activities and books are geared toward younger children but as you will see, some of the ideas can be easily adapted to include older kids, too. For reference, Little Bear is six years old and we are doing first grade at home.

My hope (and my goal) is to publish these posts weekly, as we go along in our own homeschool journey. The PDF below is for this current week, but aside from the connection to The Feast of the Annunciation, the theme of "seeds" can be explored at any time throughout the spring.

Ok, here it is, the first weekly installment:

March 23-29, 2020: "Sleepy Seeds"

Please let me know if you have any questions or problems with any of the links. (I've had some trouble getting mail from Typepad, so feel free to email me directly: drhanigan AT gmail DOT com.) As I mention in my plans, I have a Pinterest board for each week's activities and you can find my sleepy seeds pins here. :-)

Well, I'll be off for now, my friends, but thank you as always for stopping by. I say this every time, but I've never meant it so sincerely: please take care of yourselves and your loved ones ...

I'll see you here again very soon!


My Printable Lesson Planning Spreadsheet ❤

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Good morning, my friends. I hope you are all feeling well and safe.

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I'm popping in today to share a printable lesson planning sheet I created a few years ago, in case it might be helpful to anyone currently or suddenly homeschooling:

Seasonal Journey: A Lesson Planning Worksheet

You could use this form to sketch out your weekly plans, or use the "theme" column for the days of the week (M-S/S). Please see this post in which I share a few other forms and describe my thoughts behind using this particular planning worksheet.

As I mentioned on Instagram and Facebook yesterday, I am working on a resource which will outline the weekly themes Little Bear and I will be exploring throughout the spring and summer. This printable PDF will include some suggestions for books (and/or story prompts), nature study, crafts, family activities, etc. I hope to have that resource available here at the blog within the next week to so, so please stay tuned!

Blessings to all ... and please be safe and stay well!

 

XoXo

~ Dawn


Tea @ Dawn's ~ Early Spring Ponderings + Free Printables!

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Hello my friends, and Happy March!

Well, despite its extra day, February really seemed to fly by - and here we are beginning a new season. In the liturgical world, Lent began last week and in the natural realm, we are just 18 days away from the start of spring. (This year the equinox falls on March 19th - the earliest since 1896!)

Most of us in the northern hemisphere know however, that winter absolutely loves to linger ... and spring is perpetually running late. And here in New England our weather has been a little messed up - in that, it's not actually been all that messy! It's been a fairly mild and practically storm-free winter, and case in point here is my local forecast for next week:

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Please excuse me while I knock on wood - because that forecast is astounding for the first week of March! (And the week after that looks just as mild, if perhaps a bit more showery.)

So ... "in like a lion?" Maybe not so much. And an early spring in the cards? Well, so said the groundhog, and if it comes to pass, I for one will be very pleased. Because the only thing I don't like about New England winters - and yes, I do like them! - is that most years they just don't know when to quit! By March we're often still knee-deep in snow and I am positively longing for even the subtlest signs of spring ...

Speaking of ...

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This was last week in my little Katie Daisy journal, which I'm currently using mostly for nature notes. I've been trying to jot down every little nuance we notice - and we notice a lot as you can see! There have been plenty of little signs of spring's approach - chipmunks scampering, owls hooting, skunks digging, woodpeckers drumming ... and holy moly, the red-winged blackbirds have returned to the marsh!

March is chock-full of interesting nature, and while we're on that topic - here are two resources I think you'll enjoy:

Wild Kids Magazine March 2020

And, this great nature calendar from The Massachusetts Audubon Society:

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(I use this every month with Little Bear to see how much we can observe!)

By the way - have you seen the preview of the 20-21 Katie Daisy planner cover? It premiered on Instagram this week, and I just love the blue floral design - with touches of my favorite yellow!

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(You can pre-order on Amazon, and I believe the publication date is May 8th.)

Ok moving on now - As you can see in my top picture, on this bright and brisk St. David's Day I am enjoying a cup of Barry's decaf black tea in my beloved Royal Tara china. (The set I inherited from my grandmother - the set I supped from as I learned to love tea as a child.)

Traditionally I like to make daffodil cake on this feast day, but that was just not in the cards today. (I might make it next weekend when Crackerjack is home for spring break.) Instead I nibbled on some Girl Scout cookies, a treat my husband picked up at the grocery store yesterday. (Though they're called "shortbread" cookies now, long-ago Girl Scout that I am, I prefer to call them by their original name, Trefoils!)

So as I enjoyed my tea by a sunny window, I set about editing my latest seasonal planning printables ...

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And here they are, fresh off the presses!

Early Spring Planning Packet

My 14-page booklet includes forms for organizing various seasonal events, brainstorming comforts and joys that are special to this unique time of year, tracking early spring phenology and exploring the March and April full moons. My planner is also peppered with seasonal quotes and vintage illustrations (found on Pinterest) and is free for your personal use!

Also, since Easter is just around the corner (6 weeks and counting!) here are some extra Easter planning sheets from my Printables archive:

Easter Prep Worksheet A

Easter Prep Worksheet B

Easter Sunday

Easter Memories

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I really have such fun assembling these planning sheets, and I hope you also find them fun - and useful!

(Next up will be Late Spring and I hope to have that posted by the end of April.)

Now for the liturgical season ... Lent is upon us! And I thought I'd share a couple of things we did (and did not do) this past week, in the spirit of "keeping things real." Because as usual, my best laid plans went seriously awry and I had to make a few "adjustments."

So you might remember in my last post, I had originally planned to take Little Bear to Mass on Ash Wednesday morning so we could receive ashes at church. Then we would swing by the craft store so we could pick up the supplies for creating a new and "glittery" ALLELUIA for "burying." (An old Catholic tradition.)

And what happened instead was ... well, not quite that.

After an extremely stressful morning with Earlybird (who is back to resisting school and having a very hard time with the side effects of a certain medication - which he is now weaning off of ) we just could not make it over to church. We didn't hav the time and I didn't have the wherewithal to be perfectly honest. As it was, I had to have EB's ABA therapist come to the house to help me get him ready - ride with us even - and we arrived at school quite a bit little later than usual.

Clearly Mass was not going to happen, so instead Little Bear and I made ashes at home. :-)

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To do this, we simply burned one of last year's palms and mixed the ashes with little holy water.  I found some instructions in The Catholic Home, a lovely book I've had on my liturgical shelf for ages. Then I said a little blessing and made the sign of the cross on Little Bear's forehead. Then I let him do the same to me.

It was a simple activity and perhaps a tad unconventional, but Little Bear seemed to enjoy the experience very much. And to be honest, I relished the quiet togetherness, and appreciated the reassuring comfort of home.

Then came the time to craft a new Alleluia ... but we couldn't dash over to the craft store because I needed to be near the phone (in case Earlybird's school called), so instead, I mined my craft stash to see what we could use ...

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Happily, I found some golden alphabet stickers - had to fudge a few, making an E out of a B, and I out of an F and some Ls out of various letters - and then cut some purple construction paper into a paper cross shape.

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We then piled the letters in the middle of the cross, and folded the ends in order to make a kind of pouch. (Thereby, "burying the Alleluia.")
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Last step - a butterfly to hold the pouch closed and then we placed it on our Lenten mantle. 

(Spoiler alert: I will use those letters to make a colorful banner for Easter morning!)

Moral of the story - life does not always unfold as originally planned. I was really looking forward to attending Ash Wednesday mass with Little Bear, but what was most important that morning was figuring out how to best help Earlybird find his calm and courage. Once I had EB safely at school, I next focused my attention on Little Bear - reassuring him all was well, while listening to his worries. He's at the age where he's maturing beyond his autistic brother and we're trying to help him see and accept that EB's behaviors do not always reflect what we know is in his heart.

So for our giving gesture that day, we talked about how Earlybird acts out when something makes him feel scared or sad. And right now he's a little scared of going to school, and he feels sad to leave home. Those feelings are hard for any child but especially overwhelming for a child with autism. Earlybird can sometimes act out in very inappropriate ways.

We also talked about how all this makes Little Bear feel - nervous he said, and a little mad and a little sad. Feelings very similar to his brother's. I tried to reassure him that no feelings are wrong, because nobody can help their feelings ... but we can help how we react to them. And children need tools for managing their reactions. Little Bear can talk to us and he can pray with us and he can let Earlybird know, in different ways, that we're always, always on his side.

So we decided to make a card to encourage EB:

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I told Little Bear I was proud of HIM for trying to see things from his brother's point of view, and for forgiving him when he says things that are not very nice or when he raises his voice or makes a mess because he's mad. Or when his behavior gets in the way of something we really wanted to do. Just like his oldest two brothers before him, Little Bear will have lots of opportunities to learn patience, tolerance, forgiveness ... and I hope to help him find ways to connect with a brother whom he likes a lot  - but sometimes resents for rather "unlikeable" behavior.

There is no easy fix, and this will be a lifelong journey - we can only take each day as it comes and take it as easy on each other (and ourselves) as well can.

Written in my journal later that day, a quote I came upon, a rather timely reminder ...

"Have patience with all things, but first of all with yourself." St. Francis de Sales

❤ How perfect and lovely is that? â¤

Well my friends, I hope your new month is off to a good start, and I thank you as always, for stopping by my little "home"on the web. I am grateful for your time and attention and if I may ask for you to remember our Earlybird in your prayers and thoughts and send him a little positive, happy energy. And may I ask - how are you doing ... how is your family? Have you watched any good television lately? (Sanditon, anyone?) And how is the weather where you live?

Drop me a note if you have the time, and I'll be in touch again just as soon as I can. :-) 


Tea @ Dawn's ~ Shortbread, Schedules and Deep Winter Sleep ❄️

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Hello my friends, and Happy Sunday!

Thank you so much for joining me here today, on this bright and beautiful winter afternoon. As I type up this post, the sun is taking turns with a few dark, dramatic clouds and the temperature is near 50° ... not bad for January here in New England!

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Today I'd like to share with you a wee "Scottish Tea," in honor of Burns Night, which my family celebrated at supper last night (January 25th). As I'm part Scottish, we've enjoyed incorporating this fun holiday into our family's winter calendar - but more on the Tea in a moment!

Today I'd also like to share a few fun things with you: a little about what we've been up to, some thoughts on seasonal sleep, plus some new planning ideas for the year ahead, beginning with a brand new PDF!

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Yes, I've made more seasonal planning pages - I can't seem to help myself! ðŸ˜‰

So if you remember back in December, when I posted this year's planning sheets, I mentioned that I removed all the extra "monthly event" pages in order to give the planner a bit more "wiggle room." What I aim to do instead is to share seasonal "booklets" that will serve as supplements to my main annual planner. It's a joy to make up these pages and very easy to pull them together since I'm utilizing templates I already have on hand, and just spiffing them up with some sweet vintage artwork found on Pinterest. That said, I apologize that the January bits are mostly moot at this point - but I do hope you enjoy them for next year!

Ok, here 'tis ...

♥Deep Winter Seasonal Planning Booklet♥

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I will be sharing more of these seasonal booklets throughout the year - and I will do my best to have them available before a new season begins!

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The above "schedule" is something I made up as I thought about my seasonal teas, and how often I might be able to host (post) them. I've decided I will aim for monthly posts and since this year I'm focusing on the "art and blessing" of keeping a home, at each Tea I will share a little of what I'm doing on that front. :-)

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More on homekeeping in a moment, but for now, let's talk a bit about today's Tea, pictured at the top of this post. I'm sipping from very pretty thistle-adorned china called "Queen O' Th' Highlands," and this cup originally belonged to my grandmother. I am blessed to own many of her vintage teacups! Gram was the person to introduce me to the pleasure of tea and the joy to be had in making a little ceremony of it.

Now, I didn't have any Scottish tea on hand, but I did use an Irish blend I like very much made by Barry's Tea. It's a decaffeinated black tea, with a lovely yet bolder flavor than my regular tea. I prefer to drink this brew with a splash of half-and-half and a wee spoonful of cane sugar.

As for the shortbread - well, that was all (or mostly) Little Bear's doing!

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Now, this is not the recipe we used but I am eager try it next time we bake: Classic Scottish Shortbread from King Arthur Flour. The recipe Little Bear and I used did not have oats and to my taste had a bit too much salt. The rest of the family seemed to like the cookies very much however!

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Shortbread is a great cookie for baking with children. It's a very easy recipe and the kids have such fun pressing the dough into the pan ... and then of course "stabbing" the cookies with the tines of a fork! Little Bear was quite proud of his tray of shortbread bars ... :-)

While we waited for the cookies to come out of the oven, we also looked through a wonderful book I purchased a few years ago, The Wee Scot Book: Scottish Stories & Poems by Aileen Campell. It has the loveliest illustrations!

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Now, I'm a shortbread purist myself - no chocolate coating or caramel-dipped ends, thanks - but Little Bear thought the cookies would be so much more interesting if we added some sprinkles, and so - that's just what we did. And in the colors of Scotland's national flower, of course!

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So moving on, according to my Home Care & Comforts Schedule, January brings ...

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(I didn't actually make the vanilla milk as originally planned - but I do explain that lovely beverage later in the post!)

January homekeeping focus: MASTER BEDROOM

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Voila, the north side of my master bedroom!

So I've been working in this room quite a bit since Christmas and I'm happy to say it's finally getting there! My bedroom suffers quite a bit over the holidays because it basically serves as Santa's Workshop between November and December 25th, which is to say, it gets to be QUITE the mess. So January is the perfect month to tackle this zone. 

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I'm also pretty keen to clean out that closet shown above - note the doors are closed! - because Bill has offered to turn it into book storage for me. (Not to worry, I have another closet for clothing in the opposite corner of the room.) At this time this closet full of random things like photographs, packing supplies and old journals ... but I think it would be a great place for storing all my paperback novels (of which I have many). Bill is more than willing to put up the shelves - I just need to get to decluttering the space!

I've still got the other side of the room to deep clean - and this includes two overstuffed bureaus! So I hope to share more pics in my next post, although in February I'll be concentrating the younger kids' bedrooms ... 

Speaking of kids and bed ...

I've been talking a lot about sleep lately because it's something our family finds ... challenging at times. Maybe you saw my instagram post last week, in which I described how Earlybird, our 18 year autistic son, has struggled with sleep issues for many, many years. Actually, his parents are the ones who struggle with it - he doesn't seem to be phased by his odd sleep patterns at all, which I guess is a blessing. Long story short - EB used to wake up around 2 a.m. and stay awake for a couple of hours before finally falling back to sleep - but only for a few hours. Several years ago he started sleeping through the night but waking extremely early - hardly ever after 5 a.m. Occasionally he goes through a week or so of waking closer to 6 or 7 but those times are rare. Very often he gets stuck in a pattern - as he is now - of waking FOR THE DAY between 2 and 3 a.m. (And by that I mean he doesn't go back to sleep, he's just up ... and because he can't be left unsupervised, so are we.)

I won't get too far into that story (though I will return to it in a future post) but let me just say this before I start waxing poetic about sweet and special bedtime rituals ...

Sleep issues are serious and can be debilitating for many families, and they exist in both children and adults. Even if you can identify what the issues are, it's not always easy to change things. For most human beings, at bedtime we're pretty exhausted and not in our most flexible frame of mind.  So fixing a sleep issue is not always as easy as changing up one or two environmental factors or trying out a new "hopefully helpful" schedule. For some people it goes far deeper than that and also, for some, it carries over into the next day. Bad sleep usually also means a rough morning after ...

Anyhoo, as I said, I don't want to get too deep into the sleep struggle issue - for today I'd like to just offer a few thoughts on making your Winter Bedtimes a little more special. I don't mean to suggest these little "tips" will help someone who is dealing with a serious sleep challenge, but maybe an idea or two might help a reluctant sleeper ...

Either way, I think it's always nice to consider the more routine parts of our day and envision how we might make them a little more special for ourselves and our loved ones. And perhaps use these everyday moments to connect more deeply with the season at hand.

A few ideas for possibly promoting easier (and happier) bedtimes:

✨ Get a good dose of fresh air and outdoor activity each day! 

✨ Keep the window shades open through the day to allow in plenty of natural light.

✨ Limit the amount of artificial light as the sun goes down.

✨ Limit screen time after 4 p.m. (for everyone!).

✨ Eat supper at an earlier time, allowing for better digestion as well as time for a simple evening "tea" ritual. And this would be decaffeinated or herbal tea naturally, but a lovely, child-friendly alternative is steamed milk (organic whole milk brought to a simmer in pan) with just a touch of vanilla and maybe a dollop of honey.

✨ Enjoy an evening tea ritual while listening to an ongoing read-aloud or perhaps gazing together out at the night sky. Or, ask Alexa to play "classical bedtime music." (Try it!)

✨Visuals are great - such as bedtime checklists and token boards - but making it into something really fun and creative can weave true bedtime magic: visualizing together how an evening winds down, what each steps looks like and who does what. Make note in your story of "cozy" seasonal elements (the summer evening breeze, frosty windowpanes on a winter morning, etc.). As you spin the tale, reassure your child that all is well and he/she is safe and sheltered from the cares of the day.

✨Assess the bedroom setting for good sleep: comfortable temperature, thoughtful lighting (some kids need a night-light, others are actually kept awake by it), and preferred comfortable bedding. Have toys been put away, is the floor clear of clutter, have window shades been gently pulled down?

✨Make seasonal bedding part of your family tradition! We make a big deal about "changing the beds" in the spring and fall. Laundering and then washing up cotton bedding for cool sleep in the warmer months, and warmer textiles for the colder nights of the year. 

✨ Make up a little lavender water and keep it in a designated spray bottle. As you turn down the beds, spritz the sheets with just a touch - allow your child to help and let him or her know this will promote good dreams and happy sleep. (I'm not a fan of the "monster away spray" idea!) 

✨Make up a special basket just for bedtime reading. Decide together what - and how many - stories to include in your bedtime ritual. In our home, Daddy is the bedtime reader and Little Bear is read two stories. Or instead of books - maybe try your hand at storytelling? A simple tale about a little person or creature and how they end their day would be enthralling but not overly stimulating.

✨End your bedtime ritual with a simple prayer said together or a recollection of the day, perhaps naming something for which each of you was grateful. Saying a blessing over your child is a truly lovely way to say goodnight and nurture tender feelings of protection and peace.

Now, we certainly don't do all of these things, and currently employ only one or two - but some years we're better at bedtimes than others! Please don't think we have it all figured out ... oh my goodness, no. But I hope maybe one or two of these things might inspire a new idea for your family's bedtime routine. I think a lot of these points could be helpful for adults as well - we could all benefit from treating bedtime as a special and important of our day - not just an after-thought. 

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Now, something else I like to focus on in January is creating and updating my calendars and reviewing my planning system(s). And this too deserves a whole separate post, but allow me to share a few pictures from my progress, starting with this crazy pic:

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Post-it note mega-planning!

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An overstuffed homekeeping binder ...

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Colors = Concerns

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To be filled out once I gather all my little scraps of paper ...

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TBD ...

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Six columns for six people ...

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Calendar-keeping and color-coding ... a topic to be continued!

And this probably all seems rather cryptic, but I'll share more once I get my own story straight!

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And finally - here are a few pictures of our Homeschooling this week

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Celebrating National Squirrel Appreciation Day!

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Walking into the woods with our weekly nature class ... 

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... and OH MY GOSH hand-feeding birds!

I'll be sharing a bit about this incredible moment in the February issue of Wild Kids - I've been invited to contribute a short piece about our experience! So please stay tuned and I'll post a link at my FB page when the new issue comes out!

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OK, almost done I promise! Before I go, here are a few links to older posts filled with crafts, books and recipes for Deep Winter holidays:

Happy Epiphany!

A Wee Tea

Tea & a Craft for The Days of the Blackbird

Happy Carnation Day!

A Citrus Craft for Candlemas

Bits, Bobs and Mittenstrings

Good Candlemas Morning!

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And now I'll be off ... I hope you enjoy the rest of your Sunday, my friends and thanks, as always, for stopping by! Take care of yourselves and your loved ones ... and I'll see you here again very soon!


My 2020 Printable Planning Sheets + a Surprise Giveaway! 🌞

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Hello my friends, and Happy New Year's Eve eve! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. :-)

I'm here today to share printable planning sheets for 2020 - hot off the presses! Below you will find 12 separate PDF links - one for each month of the year. Although I do proof-read the sheets several times, it's inevitable I miss an error or two - remember, this is very much a "homespun" affair. ;-)

Anyhoo, I offer these sheets with the hope that they may be useful to someone else. And as always my planning sheets are free to print, but for personal use only.

Now, a couple of things about this year's batch:

I removed some of the "extra event" planning sheets, because I wanted to slim my planner down a bit. I usually end up keeping holiday planning sheets on clipboards or in folders anyway, along with recipes and other things that pertain to a special day. I'll still make printable holiday planning sheets available, but they will be offered in separate PDFs. I will post them here just as soon as I'm able!

All that said, there are still a few blank planning sheets at the end of each monthly section, as well as several extra note pages at the end of the planner. So all in all I probably didn't end up saving much space, lol - but I hope all this results in a less bulky planner.

Also, I changed around the weekly planning spread a bit! The content is the same, but I switched the agenda and overview pages from left to right and vice versa. I found I really liked having the agenda visible on the far left side of my spread, and my to-do list on the far right.

I also changed the planner title page ...

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... because I made up a new photo collage!

I used some fun, favorite blog photographs, and I tried to choose images that captured what I post about most: the seasons, home baking, gardening, nature study, planners, cozy corners - though curiously I left out a proper cup of tea ...

(There is however a cup of tea on the very last page of my planner - my end page!)

Ok, without further ado, here are the links to my monthly planning sheets!

Please read on for instructions on setting up your planner AND some news about a New Year's Giveaway!

🌞The By Sun and Candlelight 2020 Weekly Planner🕯

January

February

March

April

May

June

July

August

September

October

November

December

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There are a few different ways you can use my planning sheets. I myself like to have them bound at the copy shop but I have also used them in a 3-ring binder. Another idea would be to keep them on clipboards, or even in a file folder crate.

If you are interested in using the whole collection as a spiral bound planner, here is a brief rundown of what I do:

I first print out all the sheets, and then I add:

• a pretty cover page

• 12 monthly divider pages

• a sturdy end page

• adhesive monthly tabs

Note: For printing the planning sheets I prefer Staples-brand letter-size (8.5" x 11") "Premium Bright White Inket & Laser Paper" (28 lb., 98 Bright). I find this paper allows the colors to stand out but not bleed through and it takes a pen (I prefer this one) very nicely. For the covers and dividers, I like to use a heavier scrapbooking paper or "cardstock." You can find such paper at any arts and crafts store, or even on Amazon. (My favorite resource is a company called Graphic 45. They sell beautiful collections of vintage-design papers.)

I use a piece of chipboard for the back cover or end page of my planner which I also order from Amazon. Adhesive tabs for the monthly divider pages can be found at Staples or on Amazon. I personally love Erin Condren's pastel-hued tabs for my planners!

If you have any questions about my sheets or how I set up my planner, please don't hesitate to ask. I've been making them for a few years now and every year I work out a new kink or two! Unfortunately I am not in a position to sell my planners at this time, but hope that you will find them easy enough to print and use yourself through the links here at my blog.

Ok, now about the aforementioned giveaway!

As you all know I held a planner giveaway earlier this month, as part of my Late Autumn Tea series, and Shelly in WI won a copy of my planner (all dolled up and bound just like my own). Well as I worked on our planners - one for Shelly and one for myself - I realized I had some extra supplies on hand so ...

✨I have 3 more planners to give away!✨

(Hooray! I love making planners for people!)

Now if you are interested in winning  planner - all spiral-bound and "dolled up" with dividers, etc. - please leave a comment on this post, answering the following question:

❄️What is something that brings you comfort or joy in the Winter?❄️

I will use your answers as inspiration for my upcoming Deep Winter Tea series!

I will announce the three winners here on Friday, January 3rd and then will mail off these planners just ASAP. Unfortunately, you will be missing the first week or so of planning, but it's the best I can do! I really love sharing these planners, and hope others will enjoy using them, too!

Well my friends, I wish you all the best in 2020! Thanks so much for stopping by, and for all your kind words and encouragement. I am grateful for all your support and the opportunity to share a little of my life through this blog. Here's to many cups of tea and nice long chats in the new year to come!

❤


🍂 ~ Thanksgiving Memories & Advent Plans ~🎄

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Hello, my friends and Happy Friday! I'm popping in with a quick post on this bright and brisk day-after the big Thanksgiving feast! I wanted to share some pics from our family's gathering and I also wanted to share a couple of links with you all since Sunday not only brings us December - it also begins the much anticipated season of Advent!

Goodness - where has the year gone, I ask you?!

Now before I get started on sharing a bajillion or so family photos, here's what I'm also working on today - as I sip my tea and put up my feet - a little Advent planning!

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These special pages are part of my December 2019 planning sheets, but if you'd like just the holiday planning section, here is the separate PDF:

Preparing for Christmas 2019 

Also, if you are looking for some family-friendly Advent ideas, here are a couple of activity guides:

Advent Countdown: Stories & Simple Activities

24 Nature-Based Advent Activities

These were created over the past couple of years so their timeliness (re ~ Advent weeks and dates) might be a bit off, but since I myself am looking over these guides as I work on our December plans, I thought you might find them helpful, too!

Today however, we are in "recoup" mode - recharging our batteries you might say - and tomorrow we will be getting our tree before a storm hits Sunday night! I've been poring over the pictures taken yesterday and feeling such gratitude for another holiday spent with our loved ones. It was a truly enjoyable day and possibly the largest gathering we've had in recent memory! We spent the day cooking, eating, laughing, eating some more - and cleaning up over eggnog and coffee!

People often comment that it must be an awful lot of work to pull together a holiday gathering of such a large size - and it is, certainly. But we are blessed to be surrounded by many helpful hands and so this is all very much a team effort. Bill and I ready the house - but everybody cooks (especially my Mum) and several folks pitch in to help clean up. I am also thankful for our son Crackerjack who took these lovely pictures!

First a little look at the set up:

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I like to spread the food and drinks around the house so people move around and mingle. For most gatherings, Bill's desk gets turned into a pretty spot for serving punch and special seasonal drinks ...

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We enjoy serving a "signature cocktail" at our parties and this year we had not one, but two! First we had these delicious fruit wines purchased from a favorite local orchard, and then across the room, where desserts were served, I set up a smaller punch bowl next to the coffee urn. I  filled it with a couple of bottles of delicious (yet potent!) Trader Joe's Egg Nog, courtesy of my brother, Matt who works for the chain!

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Now, if you're a long time reader then you know how I feel about punch - if it's a party there must be punch! Usually I follow a particular recipe but this one was literally thrown together at the last minute. I just mixed some fruit punch with sparkling cider and tossed in some sliced apples and oranges ... and it was quite refreshing! I think I will serve something like this at Christmas, perhaps with a bit more citrus and a pretty ice ring filled with cranberries and herb sprigs ...

I must admit, I really enjoy all the cleaning and prep before a holiday ... well, maybe not the cleaning as much, but I do love decorating my home with the little knickknacks we've gathered through the years ...

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In this particular bookcase, messy piles of homeschool books made room for a cozy seasonal display!

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And here is our gratitude tree for the family's blessings - branches gathered by my boys and leaves organized by my cousin Caitlin. As a family we enjoy sharing our thankful thoughts after dinner each year, but here's a little shocking confession ...

We forgot to do them this year!! ðŸ˜³

And here I thought I was begin so clever with that vase full of branches, lol. Usually I place a leaf and a crayon by each place setting and then gather them up after dinner to be read over coffee, but I guess out of sight equaled out of mind!

So alas - our gratitude will have to be carried silently in our hearts, while these leaves will go into a little storage bag and we will be ALL SET for Thanksgiving 2020!

Now as you can imagine, seating for 26 can be a little tricky ...

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But we managed it!

In the dining room proper, we set a table for eight, but pushed it towards the front-facing windows. This made room for a second table which served as a buffet.

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The kitchen table got an extra leaf and was also pressed into service for eight.

(Tip: Flowers can be expensive so I like to use candles and other items I might have on hand for centerpieces when I can. On this table we filled a cornucopia basket with shiny red apples!)

We also set up three small rented tables in the family room - I didn't get a good pic of this set up - and these provided seating for 12 people. In the center of each of those tables I placed a mason jar with a couple of sunflowers, as well as a small tea light candle.

Now for some food shots - but first, here is our head chef, the woman without whom none of this would be possible - my mum.

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(We didn't even plan the coordinating tops, I swear!)

So yes, Mum does most of the cooking - with my Dad handy for temperature-testing and carving - while I run around and help where I can!

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Oh, and by the way, my ovens died - momentarily - just after we took out the 22 lb. turkey to rest! 

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(My ovens are OLD and badly need replacing. Maybe I should speak to Santa about that?)

Thankfully though, after a brief rest, the ovens rallied and we were able to heat all the side dishes ...

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There's my Dad getting the carving underway! As you can see, we combined a ham with that large turkey this year, and my mother-in-law also cooked and brought up an eight lb. roasted and stuffed turkey breast!

Bookworm also does a lot of the cooking - in addition to a fabulous sweet potato dish (topped with ricotta cheese, pecans and dried cranberries) and a scrumptious peanut butter pie, he also made this cute and quirky dish ...

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Charlie Brown Thanksgiving Chocolate Bark!

So if you're familiar with the beloved holiday special, you might remember that Snoopy serves the gang - spoiler alert! - a Thanksgiving dinner of buttered toast, popcorn and jelly beans. You might also remember that Peppermint Patty balks rather ungraciously at this admittedly, untraditional meal - thus providing the dramatic tension that leads to a thoughtful lesson from Linus - meant for us all - in tradition, history and respect.

(You might also recall I take my Charlie Brown special very seriously!)

Ok, moving on - we were very blessed this year to have a house-full of youngins and as you can imagine, Little Bear was in his glories!

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(Always in motion, these two peas in a pod!)

You know, I remember when these two (below) were the "younger kids" and now look at them!

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Crackerjack (20) home from college and Earlybird, 18 in two weeks ... this is a little sneak peek corner of our Christmas photo! (Full reveal at Tea on the 20th!)

Now for some more family photos ... ðŸ§¡

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And last but not least, we sang "Happy Birthday" to Mum!

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(Spice cake decorated with spice drops, served with maple-walnut ice cream - her favorite!)

And so that was our Thanksgiving! And now ... we're on to Christmas!

Well, Advent to start of course, but before we know it, December 25th will be here and we'll be gathering together once again, to rejoice and reconnect before 2019 comes to an end.

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Now, before I go I want to remind everyone that I have a Giveaway going on through December 22nd! Please read this post for all the details - and please note - a comment here will be considered another contest entry! :-)

A week from today (12/6) will brings my next Tea @ Dawn's post and my themes will be Heaven & Earth, Holiday Greenery & Christmas Trees. I'm so looking forward to it!

Well my friends, thanks so much for joining me here today, and I wish you all a happy end to November ... enjoy the weekend and I will see you here again late next week!


Looking for My Printable Planning Sheets? 📌

Links to more planning printables - coming soon!

Annual Planning Sheets

Planner Front Section

January 2021

February 2021

March 2021

April 2021

May 2021

June 2021

July 2021

August 2021

September 2021

October 2021

November 2021

December 2021

Seasonal Planning Extras!

Early Spring Seasonal Planning

Deep Winter Seasonal Planning

Seasonskeeping Workbook: Our Journey through the Year

The Year at a Glance (blank worksheet, undated calendar year)

Nature Themes Planning (blank worksheet, undated calendar year)

Homekeeping Routine Worksheet

Weekend Office Hours Worksheet

 


Early Autumn Homekeeping - a printable PDF! 🧡

IMG_5609Hello my friends, and happy Sunday!

I'm popping in today to share with you a special homekeeping booklet I made up in case you might like a copy for yourself. It's called "Early Autumn Homekeeping," and it's 34-pages-full of forms for organizing your seasonal home-centered tasks. It's similar to the booklet I made up for Summer, but I've tweaked things a bit and added some extra fun planning pages.

Mixed in with the home-oriented sheets, is a page devoted to self-care (seen pictured at left) ... because as important as it is to be good stewards of our family's resources, it's also vital we carve out time for ourselves when we can.

From page nine of my booklet:

"As passionate as I am about celebrating the seasons with my family, I always take time for my own private observations. These are very simple, yet satisfying, rituals that connect me with the turning of time and the unique beauty of each passing season. I certainly don’t do all of these things in any one given year, but keeping mindful of them lifts my spirits, and each week I look ahead at my schedule for ways I might squeeze in a little seasonal “me” time."

I hope you enjoy my Autumn Homekeeping booklet - as always it's free for your personal use and if you'd like to share it online, just let me know. And please let me know if you have any trouble printing it! :-)

Ok, here it is:

Early Autumn Homekeeping (printable PDF)

In my next(ish) post, I will share where I store this little planner and how I'm using it alongside my other planning sheets. Spoiler alert: it involves a 3-ring binder!

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

p.s. Will I make booklets for each season? Yes! Next up is my "Holiday Homekeeping" booklet (for November and December) and that will be posted later this fall.


My (printable!) Summer Housekeeping Planner 💛

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Hello everyone, and Happy Spring-nearly-Summer!

Well, it has been almost four months since I last posted - and that just might be a record for me 😳 - but boy has it been a busy Winter & Spring! I have not found the time to write full length posts lately, but I do post pretty regularly over on Instagram (though perhaps a bit less so on Facebook). If you are on those social networks I'd love to "see" you over there!

So clearly I have a lot of catching up to do - and I hope to do just that throughout the summer - but for today I'd like share a printable, 38-page "Summer Housekeeping Planner" I made up for myself just in case it might be useful to someone else! This particular planner will include forms for the months of June, July and August. (Future seasonal housekeeping planners will be shared just as soon as I get them designed!)

Ok, here it is, my ...

Summer Housekeeping Planner

Full disclosure - as pretty as that binder shown above is, I've decided to keep my Summer Housekeeping booklet in my master Homekeeping Binder/Planner. It just seems more convenient to have the bulk of my home/family planning in one place. Once September arrives, and I am on to Autumn Housekeeping, I will store the booklet in this "summery" separate binder.

Ok, then! I'll have a follow-up post to come soon with my thoughts on how I'm using all those planning pages, but for now, I will wish you all well and hope that your spring has been lovely! Here's to a happy summer ahead ...

See you here again very soon ...💛


Advent Countdown: Stories & Simple Activities

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Hello my friends and Happy Thursday! I know we're but a few days away from the 1st of December, so you probably have your Advent plans already in place, but here I am anyways, to share what my Advent project looks like this year ... :)

In addition to a few treasured traditions, I really enjoy coming up with something new for my boys every year! (Check out my Advent Plans & Crafts archives if you'd like to see past projects.)

So this year I decided to revolve our Advent countdown around picture books - meaningful and beautiful stories we've enjoyed as a family for years. As I've blogged about before, we have an awful lot of books - longtime homeschooling family that we are! - and though they are indeed spread out all over the house, I do like to organize them by subject and season.

Case in point - here's our Christmas book bin:

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True confession: there are more books now than can fit in this pretty rolling bin ... and yes, those are my slippered feet in the bottom of the pic!

So, as you can see, we have many, many Christmas books  ... so what I did first was to go through the WHOLE stash and pull out the ones we (ahem, I) love best. Then I looked over our December calendar, considered our weekly seasonal themes and then organized the books into separate piles ...

1st pile: WEEK ONE "cozy nests, stars/sticks/stones" (St. Barbara, St. Nicholas)

2nd pile: WEEK TWO "seasonal spices and Christmas trees" (OL Guadalupe, St. Lucia, EB & Papa's B.day)

3rd pile: WEEK THREE "welcome winter & advent animals" (Winter Solstice, Full Yule Moon)

4th pile - WEEK FOUR (which is just 12/24) "O Holy Night" (Christmas Eve)

I realize this all sounds rather complicated, but there is a method to my madness, I promise! Here is the low-tech spreadsheet I made up for myself as I worked it all out ...

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And here's a corner of my December month-at-a-glance calendar, showing how I note our weekly themes ...

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Next, once I had my 24 books all assigned to their dates, I placed them in a basket so I could get down to work ...

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Naturally, Archibald offered to help ...

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I went through each book and chose an illustration to photocopy, something that would hopefully be rather easy to identify ...

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Then I gathered the rest of my materials: poster board, washi tape, stickers, post-it notes, glue stick, pen. All items I already had on hand!

I figured a post-it was a good size for a small illustration, so I first made sure I could fit 24 on the board and then I started cutting out my illustrations! 

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(Remember - these are photocopies!)

Once I had all my picture squares, I placed them in order and then decorated the edges of the poster board.

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I used an Elmer's glue stick for this and it worked just fine adhering the copy paper to the poster board ...

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I used Christmas-y washi tape to jazz up the poster board a bit. I also used up some old stickers I had on hand as you can see below ..

Next I placed a plain white post-it note over each illustration ...

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And then ... I placed a log slice sticker on the bottom edge of each post-it. The post-it notes hide the illustration and the stickers keep that post-it note from flipping up and revealing any hints!

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Close ups of the poster/post-it/sticker situation ...

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Festive, yes? :)

Lastly, I used a red pen to number each sticker ...

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And secured Archie's approval, natch ...

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And that's it!

Well, actually ... there is much more to it and I will now get to all that. :)

Honestly though, this was a super easy project to pull together this morning. The photocopying took the longest time I think.

Here's how (I hope) my plan will unfold ...

Each day the boys will pull the day's post-it off and, using the revealed illustration, will head to the Christmas Library to try to find the book of the day. (I may also stick a number on the day's book to make it easier for my boys who are pretty young and might need help with this. Little Bear is not yet so familiar with the Christmas book collection and Earlybird may not recognize the illustrations.)

We will then all read the book together! (Please see my book list below.)

I am taking it a little further by planning a simple activity to go along with our Advent reading each day. I am not sharing this "Advent Agenda" with the boys beforehand however, because, as I've learned in the past, it's best to determine first if an activity will work - given the time/energy/weather/mood of the boys - and their mama! I have included my ideas below, next to the book titles.

I hope you enjoy the list and maybe can use an idea or two!

The PDF: Advent Countdown: Stories & Simple Activities

❤️

December 1st

Celebrate Christmas: With Carols, Presents and Peace by Deborah Heiligman

*Set up our Advent Garden.*

❤️

December 2nd

The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg

*Watch The Polar Express and drink hot chocolate!*

❤️

December 3rd

The Light of Christmas by Richard Paul Evans

*Make beeswax candles for Advent Garden.*

❤️

December 4th

An Early American Christmas by Tomie dePaola

*Nature walk: gather twigs and other natural craft materials.*

❤️

December 5th

Angelina’s Christmas  by Katharine Holabird

*Take an evening stroll around neighborhood  - deliver holiday cards.”

❤️

December 6th

Santa’s Favorite Story by Hisako Aoki

*Saint Nicholas Teatime: mulled cider and speculaas cookies.*

❤️

December 7th

Song of the Stars by Sally Lloyd-Jones

*Make twig stars and other natural-material ornaments.*

❤️

December 8th

Night Tree by Eve Bunting

*Go to The Farm and get our Christmas Tree!*

❤️

December 9th

Country Angel Christmas by Tomie dePaola

*Cookie Baking Day with Nana!*

❤️

December 10th

The Animals’ Santa by Jan Brett

*Decorate a Solstice Tree for the backyard Animals.*

❤️

December 11th

The Golden Christmas Tree by Jan Wahl

*Make golden glitter tree ornaments.*

❤️

December 12th

The Legend of the Poinsettia by Tomie dePaola

*Visit the Nursery to see poinsettias. Make cinnamon-sugar tortilla stars with fresh pineapple-mint salsa. Tacos for supper!*

❤️

December 13th

Gingerbread Friends by Jan Brett

*Bake and decorate gingerbread folk.*

❤️

December 14th

My Wonderful Christmas Tree by Dahlov Ipcar

*Write and perform  a Woodland Christmas puppet show.”

❤️

December 15th

Christmas Farm by Mary Lyn Ray

*Take a nighttime Christmas lights drive.*

❤️

December 16th

A Wish to Be a Christmas Tree by Colleen Monroe

*Watch the bird garden at sunrise while sipping hot cocoa.*

❤️

December 17th

The Christmas Bird by  Bernadette Watts

*Set up our children’s creche.”

❤️

December 18th

The Christmas Cat by Efner Tudor Holmes

*Make moon ornaments for Solstice Tree; watch moonrise tonight.”

❤️

December 19th

Corgiville Christmas by Tasha Tudor

*Bonfire night! Make magic pinecones to burn in fire.*

❤️

December 20th

Pussycat’s Christmas by Margaret Wise Brown

*Make homemade gift wrap.*

❤️

December 21st

Bear Noel by Olivier Dunrea

*Family Solstice Supper with hot wassail, cottage pie and sun cake.”

❤️

December 22nd

The Friendly Beasts: An Old English Christmas Carol by Tomie dePaola

*Go caroling!*

❤️

December 23rd

Christmas in the Stable by Astrid Lindgren

*Visit an outdoor nativity scene at night.”

❤️

December 24th

The Night Before Christmas illustrated by Douglas Gorsline

There will be new pajamas and slippers and steamed almond milk before bed!

*

I hope you enjoyed my Advent ideas! Please remember - my goal is not to do every single thing on my list, but rather, to use the "plan" to create an atmosphere ... a slower, peaceful and happy time of anticipation. The 24 days of Advent pass very quickly and I sincerely hope every one of them brings you much comfort and joy!

Well my friends, as always, I thank you for stopping by and wish you all a pleasant day ... see you here again very soon!


❤️Looking Ahead: Tea & Christmas Planning!

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Hello again, my friends!

Well, it's a rather dreary November afternoon here - sleety, cold, and DARK - so I'm taking a break from our Thanksgiving prep to sit down for a cup of tea and to share a couple of quick things with you all. The first thing is what you see above ... this year's Christmas Planner is ready to go!

🎄 Dawn's Christmas Planner for 2018 ðŸŽ„

Now, I'm really excited to dive into holiday planning - but I do like to live in season, and be mindful of our present blessings - so this week is all about thankfulness - and preparing turkey for 25! I also, however, like to get my ducks in a row asap, so I printed out a fresh copy - updated for the new year with a new, pretty cover (and back) page - and added it to my planning binder. There it will wait for me until Friday morning when I'll be raring to go! (Over a cup of mulled cider and leftovers!)

Okhere is a little sneak peek at the inside pages ...

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I hope this 16-page booklet will be helpful to you as you plan out your holiday season, but more than that - I hope it helps you think about HOW you want the season to feel. Christmas is about so much more than just the nitty gritty details - not that there's not a lot of things to do and keep on top of in order to make everyone's holiday  happy - but it's really about creating an atmosphere, crafting a vision, cultivating and carrying on with traditions that make the season so special for everyone. It is also, if I may be so bold as to suggest, a time for making time for ourselves. A time to connect with the true spirit of the season - whatever that may mean for YOU - touching base with the memories and values you hold dear. These weeks go by so fast, let's give this special time some real forethought and plan a Christmastide that will bring not only happiness, but harmony - inside and out.

Well ... more on all that in posts to come, but on that note ... the other thing I wanted to tell you all today is that I've decided to bring back my WEEKLY WINTER TEAS!

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And so ...

Tea at Dawn's will commence next Monday, November 26th and continue (fingers crossed) every week throughout what I like to call, "nesting" season.

I am still hammering out my thoughts on this special project, as well as my weekly Tea themes, but come next Monday we can start by sharing a little of our Thanksgivings as well as our hopes for the season ahead - not to mention, of course, a lovely cup of late autumn tea!

Guests are always welcome at Teatime - to simply read, or share thoughts, or to participate with pictures - so I hope you'll consider joining me! Grab that Teacup image above if you'd care to spread the word, and if you'd like to send me a picture, please email me:

drhanigan AT gmail DOT com

Our 1st post:

November 26th: "Thanksgiving Memories and Holiday Hopes."

Well friends, I will be off now as dinnertime has approached and I am actually now typing these last words with a five year old in my arms who is complaining of a bellyache! So for now ...

Thanks so much for stopping by, have a nice evening, and I'll hope to see you here again very soon!


My 2019 Planning Sheets: Printable & Free!

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Hello my friends and Happy Sunday! With just a little over a month left to the year, I would like to share my 2019 planning sheets with you all!

Please find all the PDF links below and read on for more information on how to print and assemble your own planner. (With more posts to come on planner "maintenance" as well!)

I believe this is my third (or fourth?) year sharing these planning sheets here at the blog and though I am getting a little more comfortable with the tech side of things, I always seem to scramble to make the sheets "post-able" just before year's end!

This year I'm happy to say I am able to share them in a much more streamlined way - and I hope this makes them easier to use!

Please let me know if you have any trouble printing the sheets or if you come across any typos or incorrect dates. As always, these sheets are very much a homemade affair - a rather personal project I create for myself first, and then make public in hopes others might find them useful. I'm a self-confessed planner addict for sure, but I really enjoy making my own planner because it allows me to create something with my own "mother and homemaker" needs in mind. There are so many gorgeous, wonderful planners out there - and yet I have not been able to find one that not only meets my specific needs but also suits my taste for a planner that's a little old-fashioned, specifically home-centered and has true seasonal "flair."

(To that end, in addition to seasonal quotes on each weekly page, you will notice that font colors change monthly to reflect the time of the year.)

These sheets are certainly not perfect but they do come straight from my heart and it is my dearest hope that they are fun for you to use and maybe inspire you to find a little more "comfort and joy" in the year ahead. ðŸ’›

Now as I mentioned last week, as much as I'd truly love to, at this time I'm not able to offer prepared planners for sale. I'm afraid I just don't have the kind of time I'd need to take on such a project. (Folks who have "won" a giveaway copy before can attest to how long it takes me to make it for them!) I'm definitely not saying never - just not this time around!

What I can do though, is share my planning sheets in PDF form, and make them available to readers for free! I can also give you an idea how to go about printing and assembling these pages into your own personal planner, in a form that makes sense. I myself have gone back and forth between using these sheets in a three-ring binder and having them spiral-bound at the copy shop ... but I'll talk more about that in a bit!. :)

Ok, without further ado, here we go! Each link is a printable PDF file and is free for your personal use.

💛 The By Sun and Candlelight Seasonal Planner for 2019

Front Section

January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December

Extra Blank Pages

 (Please note the November and December files are larger due to holiday planning and might take a little longer to load.)

And now for more details ...

I use HP ink and Staples brand "Premium Bright White" paper:

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The paper is smooth and has a nice weight to it. :)

Other materials I use when making up a planner:

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The planner includes title pages for each month of the year, but I find it handy to insert a thicker piece of paper to set apart the monthly sections. I like to use pretty patterned paper that has the thickness of card stock for this purpose. These papers tend to come in a larger "12x12" inch sheet so I just cut them down to size. I buy mine through Amazon or at the craft store.

As you can see, I really like "vintage" images ...

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(Note - if you have trouble finding paper you like, you could also use card-stock for your monthly dividers. I made up a separate PDF of my 12 monthly title pages in case you'd like to use those title pages as dividers. Just print the PDF file on white card stock so the pages have a thicker weight.)

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I also like to choose an especially pretty piece of paper to serve as my planner cover page:

Planner cover

I sometimes use alphabet stickers for "monogramming" the cover. I'm not a big sticker gal really, but they can be fun and add just the right touch of whimsy.

Now for a very important piece of the planner assembly, especially if you are binding your sheets at the copy shop ...

Chipboard

This is sturdy 50-point chipboard which will give your planner a very firm back cover. I got a package of 20 for $17 at Amazon. (In case you are wondering, a three hole punch does go through this material!)

Speaking of which ...

Three hole punch

If I'm going to keep my planning sheets in a binder, then I use a three-hole punch! The one I have is quite old, but I'm linking one that seems similar: Swingline Three-Hole Punch.

And as for a binder ...

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My favorite binder is a Martha Stewart 1-inch, 3-ring binder. It holds 275 sheets and is wonderfully sturdy and the rings work so smoothly. I honestly have not found another binder that works as well! They are all too stiff and the rings can be lethal! You can find this binder at Amazon but I buy mine at Staples for a much better price!

Last but certainly not least (because they give me such joy!) ...

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I use adhesive tabs for the monthly divider pages. I love these pretty pastel tabs made by Erin Condren. I buy them at Staples but they are also available Amazon and through www.erincondren.com.

Basically I just print out all the sheets and paper clip each section to keep all those pages in order. 

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I add the cover, monthly dividers (with tabs attached) and chipboard backing ... then I either bring the whole thing to the copy shop and ask for it to be "spiral bound" or I hole punch the sheets and file them into a binder. 

A note on spiral binding ... I take my planners to Staples for binding. They offer this service for about $5.00 and depending on how busy the store is, it's a pretty quick job! The spiral binding is made from plastic but recently I was told that they can send out the planners to be bound with a metal coil instead. I have yet to try that but I think metal coils would add a nice sturdiness and a touch of "elegance" to the planner!

Here are a few glimpses of planner construction, but as I mentioned at the start of this post, I will be back with a follow up post to talk more about using the planner once it's all put together!

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planner assembly ...

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ready for the copy shop ...

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the first month of the new year ...

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menu planning and overview ...

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extra planning pages ...

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monthly review and holiday planning ...

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the weekly spread ...

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January shades of brown, blue and rose ...

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the month-at-a-glance ...

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color-coded events ...

Well my friends, that is all I have for today! I would love to hear your thoughts and any questions about my planner and/or planner-making process. As I said, I will be back with a follow-up post to talk more about how I use this planner - my "system" if you will - and I will be happy to address any questions in that next post.

In the meantime, thanks so much, as always, for stopping by - I wish you all well and will hope to see you here again very soon!


🍂My Thanksgiving Planner: A Free Printable!🍂

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Hello my friends, and Happy Tuesday! I meant to post this last week (or really, earlier this month!) but here I am today, with just a little more than a week to go, sharing my Thanksgiving Planner with you all ...

I hope you enjoy it!

🍂 Dawn's Thanksgiving Planner ðŸ‚

It's eight pages long and has space for ...

  • planning the meal
  • organizing a gratitude project
  • making time for holiday baking
  • incorporating family traditions
  • noticing November nature
  • managing hostess duties
  • cleaning ahead of the gathering
  • setting up a holiday timetable

Even if you're not hosting Thanksgiving at your house, there are plenty of ideas and activities to consider as we celebrate this beautiful time of year.

If you are interested in my planner, you are free to print it for your personal use!

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Note: It might take a bit to load the PDF, so if you have any trouble please let me know. You could keep these pages in a binder, on a clipboard or even inside a holiday folder.

Let me know what you think if you have a moment - about this planner and/or your own Thanksgiving plans! I will also be sharing an updated Advent/Christmas planner with you all just as soon as I can - but certainly before the first Sunday of Advent. :)

Ok, that's all for today, my friends ... hope to see you here again very soon!

p.s. My 2019 planning sheets will be ready to print by the end of the week!


Seasonal Homeschooling: A Few Printable PDFs!

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Hello my friends and Happy Wednesday!

I'm popping in again, just two days before the FREE "Inspire" Virtual Homeschooling Conference (mentioned in Monday's post), to share a few PDF's with you all that will assist with my talk on Seasonal Homeschooling: Cultivating a Gentle, Grateful Year. :)

First, here is a simple SEASONSKEEPING WORKBOOK (click on the link - it's a printable PDF!). In this packet you could brainstorm ideas for embracing the seasons of the year:

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There are two pages devoted to each season - one for listing monthly events and one for brainstorming ideas. (In my view, every two months make up a season - so I see the year as divided into six seasons rather than four.)

On the Events page you could list holidays, feast days, full moons, birthdays, anniversaries, sporting events (like the Superbowl or World Series), natural phenomena (such as meteor showers or lunar eclipses) ... really, anything goes! As for the Brainstorming page - well, it could look like a narrative ("Dear Deep Winter, here is what I love about you ...") or it could be filled with words that pop into your mind when you imagine that time of year. For example in the case of Deep Winter, those might be:

snow days • warm mittens • hot cocoa • handmade valentines • birds at the feeders • ETC.

You could ask your family to participate in this activity! The seasons are meaningful to each of us in individual ways. If you're stumped for ideas and looking for inspiration, you might consult your own nature journal or personal diary if you have a habit of jotting down lots of seasonal details (as I do!) or you could thumb through favorite resources or you could even google it! (Pinterest is full of inspiration for the seasons of the year!)

Next, here is the SEASONAL THEMES planning outline I use in my homemade planner:

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You're welcome to use my outline for guidance, but I also have a BLANK version for you to use since you'll probably want to come up with your own themes and ideas. Seasonal themes really resonate when inspired by one's local habitat as well as fond family traditions.example, in a deep and snowy New England winter, exploring themes like "hearthside delights," "glass gardens" and stormy weather all make sense and bring joy - but February might look and feel very different where you live! And of course, each family enjoys its own seasonal pastimes. Maybe you all like to ski in the winter? Well, "hearthside delights" would work great! But what if you'd prefer to escape to the tropics? Well, how about a week devoted to exploring "winter citrus?"

Now, I personally like to break down the year into 52 weekly themes because this just works well with my kids and our homeschooling style. But that might seem like a bit much for some folks, so instead you could simplify things and choose 12 monthly themes for the year. Say, "the autumn orchard" in September," "planting time" in May, or "hibernation" in November.

Also on my outline you can see that I list pertinent monthly events below the themes (in green text) and I use little keys to signify in which week the full moon falls as well as when liturgical events tie into our seasonal theme. For example -

✝️ I connect St. Martin's Day (aka Martinmas) with the darkening days of late fall, and the need to light our own inner lights. (This also ties in with Daylight Savings Time ending on 11/4.)

✝️ I tie in the "sticks and stones" of the early December garden with St. Barbara's Day (and the traditional gathering of branches for Christmas bloom).

✝️ The week of the Annunciation is devoted to "sleepy seeds," and we not only plant our own spring hopes in a potting tray, but we make a sweet seed cake to serve on that feast day.

✝️ For St. George's Day we learn about "dragons of the wood" - aka spring salamanders! (Which were once thought to actually BE tiny dragons!)

The liturgical year has such a beautiful rhythm - a time for all things and a reassuring repetition - and I am often overjoyed to find how neatly it dovetails with the familiar framework of the natural year! Both calendars bring me much peace and by following them with my family, we are continually reminding ourselves of the many blessings to behold in any given year. The very gift of another 365 days on this earth is perhaps the best blessing of all - something to remember as the year turns and we take delight in another first snowfall, first crocus, first branch of fiery foliage, or first bat fluttering across a summer night sky ... :)

Ok, moving on now - here is a SEASONAL PLANNING SPREADSHEET, a new form I made up for myself this year:

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I'm sharing this two-page planning spread even though I realize it's quite personalized, re homeschooling subjects and all. For each theme I have a box in which to plan:

  • Events of Note
  • Nature Study
  • Outings/Field Trips
  • Creative Play
  • Reading ...
  • Verse to learn
  • Language Arts
  • Science/Math
  • Social Studies
  • Crafting
  • Home/Family (bringing everyone into it!)
  • Art/Music
  • Notes

This list represents the elements of our weekly rhythm - one day is for nature study, one day is for crafting, etc. This is the framework of our kindergarten at home - but at present we are still working out a few scheduling details for our new homeschooling year. I may be adjusting our weekly rhythm as September rolls around ...

Well my friends, I am running out of time, so in tomorrow's post I will share a few more things in preparation for Friday's talk. Please let me know if there are any points you'd like me to clarify or expand upon! I'm off for now, but as always, I thank you for joining me and will look forward to seeing you here again very soon ...

Blessings


Printable Planning Sheets! Plus, WEBINAR news!

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Hello my friends and Happy Monday! I am so excited to share a couple of super fun things with you all today!

First of all, I have some more seasonal planning sheets for you! These are for the remaining months of 2018, and I do hope you enjoy them! (Please let me know if you have any problems opening these PDFs, or if - heaven forbid - there are mistakes!)

September 2018 Planning Sheets

October 2018 Planning Sheets

November 2018 Planning Sheets

December 2018 Planning Sheets

(Please stay tuned for info on 2019 Planners this fall.)

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And now for more details on the webinar I mentioned earlier this month, and that exciting event is coming up THIS FRIDAY, AUGUST 17th!

Here's a link with all the info and a sign-up form:

Homeschool Connections: Inspire Virtual Conference 

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"This FREE online conference will provide you focus to ramp up your planning efforts while invigorating your outlook for the upcoming school year."

(Did I mention this webinar is FREE?!?)

My dear friend Mary Ellen Barrett will be interviewing five different folks on various homeschooling topics, and honestly I am more than a little overwhelmed by the amazing company I am in: Jennifer Mackintosh, Dave Palmer, Tony Agnesi, and Bonnie Landry! I feel truly honored and humbled to have been asked to join this panel of gifted and accomplished speakers!

Now, when you sign up for INSPIRE, you can choose which talks you wish to "attend" - they begin with Jennifer's at 10 a.m. and end with mine at 2:45 p.m. (eastern time). My talk is titled, "Seasonal Homeschooling: Cultivating a Gentle, Grateful Year," and not surprisingly, I'm still working out my notes! I do hope to have some helpful thoughts to share, a few favorite resources to show you ... and well, you just KNOW I will have a big cup of tea in my hand! :-)

Ok, so that's all for today, but I will have another post (maybe two!) to share this week as we get closer to Friday. I have some PDFs in mind to create and there MAY be a GIVEAWAY in the works!! So please stay tuned, and I will see you here again very soon!

Thanks so much for stopping by!

p.s. Top photo: Sunday office hours - it was a "big mug" kind of day!