---> rhythm: hearth & home: "fading light"
---> organize string lights, candles and lanterns 🌟
---> rhythm: hearth & home: "fading light"
---> organize string lights, candles and lanterns 🌟
Hello and Happy Friday, my friends! I am back with those planning sheets as promised, so before I get on with my post, here they are:
Celebrating Advent & Christmas Planning Sheets (a 14-page PDF document)
And here's a second set of Advent planning sheets for writing down daily reflections:
And now, a little about why I made up these sheets and how I'm going to use them ... :)
Very simply, I love planning - paper planning in particular - and now that I've figured out how to create personalized planning sheets with a seasonal flair ... well I must say, I'm a little addicted! I've created planning sheets for each week of the year and recently, a Thanksgiving Day planner, too. Needless to say, Advent deserves a few planning sheets of its own!
But the tricky thing about Advent is - it's such a special time of year and so highly anticipated - but too often our reality falls far short of our "vision." So we have all these meaningful intentions but then all of a sudden it's Christmas Eve and ... we're not at Midnight Mass or sipping cocoa by the fire (or in bed early!) as we'd hoped. Instead, once again, we're scrambling to run last-minute errands and finish all those Christmas to-dos. Feeling all edgy and exhausted and maybe even - dare I say it - a little bit scroogey.
So the first step in sticking with a vision is a plan. A plan is always a good place to start ... but a realistic plan is even better! And by realistic I mean - something that will reflect your family's real situation, not what everyone else seems to be doing. Praying over an Advent wreath each night might seem right for your family ... but maybe not. Perhaps a star-lit walk through the forest is more appealing? Or a car-ride to look at the neighborhood lights. Younger children rely on us to start (and keep) traditions but older kids may have their own ideas and expectations. So talk with your family about their own seasonal hopes! What does their Advent vision look like? What makes the holiday - and the days leading up to it - for each of them? How can you pare down the have-tos to make room for the hope-tos? Maybe get everyone on board with a little more family-time this month? Then - together - build space into the family schedule for the wants and the needs. (And I mean this literally - work with a calendar and mark out those times!) Divvy up some of those holiday tasks, too. If you're like me, you may feel like most of it needs to be done by you ... or it just won't get done right. Well, that's not doing anyone any favors, least of all us! (I admit - I'm a bit of a control freak, lol.)
Try to organize some in-home, family-only activities - an evening movie with popcorn, an hour of gift wrapping followed by hot cocoa, a baking afternoon with favorite music - those times need to be scheduled as much as any outside commitment! I say this from experience! Create rituals and visuals that help keep everyone in the Advent spirit and on the Christmas ball ...
As with all the year's seasons - but especially at Advent - there's just so much to enjoy, and so many little things that might get swept away with the rushing of time and to-dos. This is why I make up seasonal planning sheets. They are my gift to myself and my family - a way of slowing us down and keeping us aware of the smallest blessings. I'd guess my schedule is as busy as anyone's, but I am happiest when I am feeling a part of the season - not standing aside watching it pass by. And you all know what they say about a happy mama ... !
As for how I plan to use these sheets, - well, just as I do with my weekly planning sheets, I'll be filing them in my homekeeping binder. In the spirit of keeping things simple, I'm trying not to spread my thoughts and my stuff out too far. Keeping my "tools" to a minimum, so to say. Because my binder is open on my kitchen counter all the time, and because I'm already in there keeping my family's week in order - then this is where I'll be planning our Advent.
(Or at least, that's the general idea.)
Note: When I print out the documents, I choose two-sided and then three-hole punch the sheets to fit in my binder. You might print them the same way but use a slimmer binder devoted to holiday planning. (Decorating the cover with some pretty stickers or clippings from magazines perhaps.) Or you could print the pages one-sided and keep them on a handy clipboard. As for making them portable, the slimmer binder would be easy enough to pop in your bag or you could do as I do - I take a picture of the pages I need with my phone and then I have the information available to me when I'm out and about.
Now here are some planner visuals, just because ... :)
The pretty December cover page in my binder - I love vintage scrapbook supplies! Purple flag marking the Advent planner's place in the binder ...
Which is just behind this floral cover page, in front of the December calendar ...
Here's my homekeeping binder on the left, parked next to my Day Designer ...
And here it is as it looks today - November @ a glance calendar on the left, and this week's planning sheet on the right.
And finally, here the binder is open to the Advent planning section itself.
Well since I went on so long, in a follow up post - sometime next week - I will talk about each page of the Advent planner and how I plan to "tackle" all those boxes. Just some of my thoughts on each area of Advent planning. :)
But for now I'll wrap up because I've kept you quite long and I know you all have other things to do besides listen to me ramble! I myself am going to make another cup of tea and ... fold some laundry! Whoo ... I know, I'm living it up here today! Actually though, we spent the morning at a salt marsh with our homeschool Nature Club positively SOAKING in the glory of this beautiful November day. Even the car ride over and back was nice - nobody argued (I packed snacks) and we played the very last chapter of our current audiobook as we neared home. So the rest of the day stretches before me ... as does my task list! Because the house - which we left in a rush this morning - is in quite a state. Very glad I got in a little seasonal appreciation earlier today! So I'm off ...
Take care of yourselves and your loved ones, my friends ... see you here again very soon!
Hello my friends and Happy Thursday!
Today I'd like to share another set of my seasonal planning sheets with you - and this time we're heading into Late Autumn, as hard as that is to believe! The end of the year already? How the weeks have flown ...
So this is my last set of seasonal sheets since I began this series back in January, but this time around I'm very happy to share an extra set of sheets for Thanksgiving planning! My family hosts this annual holiday, and there's a lot that goes into planning such an event. Every year I make up a planner of some sort for myself but this year I decided to go beyond loose-leaf and make something more streamlined and printable. I had such fun putting this planner together, so naturally I wanted to share it with you all! (There are just four weeks till Thanksgiving, fyi!)
I am also working on a set of planning sheets for Advent and Christmas, and was really hoping to have them ready to share today, too - but alas - time got away from me! I will aim to post that set sometime next week ... :)
And not to get ahead of myself but, I will be tweaking ALL the seasonal sets from the past year to coordinate with next year's dates. (You can find them all in my Printables archive.) But more on all that in a moment! Here now are my Late Autumn planning sheets - eight weeks in all, running from Monday, November 7th through Sunday, January 1st (2017!).
Please let me know if you have any trouble opening these PDF files or if you notice any errors. (I looked them over and over but inevitably something escapes me!) Also, I'd love to hear if you're using these sheets and how you like them! :) As I mentioned above, I'm going to update all of last year's sheets so they can be used in 2017 and I'm changing things a bit to make them (hopefully) more efficient and easier to use. One thing you'll notice straight away (starting with this last seasonal set) is I'm using photos instead of clipart. I really loved the vintage clipart but going forward it will be easier to use my own "artwork," if you will - especially when it comes to copyright issues and such. Also, as you'll see in the Thanksgiving planning sheets, I've finally learned how to add lines to my boxes! Hooray for Bill who figured this out! I really love planners with lined spaces (I'm a stickler for neat handwriting - it just works better with my brain!) and so next year's set of planning sheets will also feature more soft lines for guiding lists and notes.
Before I go, here is a picture of this week's sheet "in action."
As I grow more and more fond of my printable planning sheets, I've been thinking about how to use them along with my current systems. I would like to discuss this further in a future post but for now, briefly ...
I keep the current week's sheet in my homekeeping binder - opposite the current month-at-a-glance (a neat printable found here). I have this binder open like this all day so I can refer to it as needed. To the right (not seen in this picture) is my Day Designer which organizes all the hourly nitty-gritty details of my day!
So, there you have it - and I hope you enjoyed it! As I said, I really had a lot of fun creating these pages and I'm eager to get the Advent-Christmas planner pulled together as well. I will share that with you just as soon as I can, but for now, I wish you all well and thank you, sincerely, for stopping by ...
Please take care of yourselves and your loved ones, and I will see you here again very soon!
Happy Sunday, everyone! I hope you are all enjoying your weekend! :)
Here in America we are celebrating Labor Day weekend, which means tomorrow is a holiday for most of us. It is also considered the unofficial "end of summer" since most children have returned to school by now. (We return to lessons Tuesday!) We're still summery though, weather-wise - after some rain and wind from Hurricane Hermine tomorrow, we are expecting a return to the 90s for the balance of the week! But this is how it goes at this time of year ...
The mornings and evenings ARE cooler and the light is different now, too. The signs of seasonal change are subtle, but - if you pay attention - then over time instinctually you can tell when these little shifts are taking place. It feels good to be connected with the rhythm of the year. Like being privy to some vital (though often overlooked) information ...
But anyhoo - I am very happy to FINALLY present my next set of seasonal planning sheets to you ... once again with my sincere apologies to be so VERY last minute. sigh My computer crash definitely slowed me down this summer, but honestly, it just took me a while to get around to ironing out all the details! (Not just the plans themselves, but the colors and the clipart!) I have such fun, thinking about these kinds of things, though ... I have always maintained that if we don't plan for joy as carefully as we plan for work, then we might just miss out on a lot. Too much. There are way too many things I LOVE about autumn that I want to share with my children. And I now have a good idea just how fast the years fly ... my oldest "baby" is 21, while my newest is a very busy and delightful THREE. How did that happen?
I may not ever do everything in my plans but I am grateful for what we can do and glad I have made myself (and my family) aware of these kinds of things. These are the things that enrich the ordinary ... make the everyday special ... set one day apart from the next ... and remind us just how BLESSED we are to get to do it again, year after year ... as long as God allows.
Well, ok - time to get down to the nitty gritty! Here are the planning sheets for the next season ahead, which I call "Early Autumn" (September and October). I have my "themes and plans" overview first - one with my notes and one that is blank for you to fill up with your own ideas (though you're welcome to try mine!). Then there are the multi-week planning sheets - an overview that allows for space for you to plan a weekly theme, days of note, home & garden tasks, comforts & joys, meal plans and to-do's ... along with a little vintage clipart and a snippet of an idea from me. :) These go from this coming week (9/5-9/11) through the last week of Early Autumn (10/31-11/6).
And finally, there is a home learning planning sheet in complementary colors. You might use this differently if you don't homeschool - maybe just notes for each of your kids. Goodness knows our kids always have a lot going on! I myself have three boys I'm currently homeschooling so there is room for their lesson notes as well as a day-by-day overview. And if you need a different number of boxes, let me know - I can tweak my original and email you a new copy. :)
I do hope these are of some use to you - I'd love to hear feedback if you have a minute! And please let me know if the links are wonky - I check on my end, but who knows what glitches might come to pass in cyberspace!
I will be back next - PROMISE - with the 52 seasonal themes. (I think that's the third time I've promised them!) And in another month or so - hopefully sooner than later! - I will be back with my last set of seasonal sheets, Late Autumn (November and December). It is my fond hope to publish these on the early side and include some holidays sheets in there too. But we shall see. So please stay tuned, and thanks so much for stopping by!
I will see you here again very soon ...
Happy Wednesday, my friends! I hope your week's going well!
So I talk a lot here about embracing the seasons and the changes they bring to our lives - the way we dress, eat, feel, pray, etc. I love how with each passing season there is a feeling of something new and yet a comforting familiarity as well. There's a first snowfall every year ... but somehow it's always full of magic. The daffodils return every spring ... but they're always such a miracle. ❤
But I think it's fair to say that some seasons are easier to embrace than others ... and this time of year is a challenge for some folks as the light fades and the days grow short and the weather is often unfriendly. So I thought I might start posting about the things we can do to create a more enjoyable season - for ourselves and our families. Simple, little things that might brighten our days ... if only figuratively. :)
My friends, will you join me? Shall we learn to live "in season" by accepting the changes and adjusting our mindset a bit? What if we saw every change - the long nights, the soggy days, the frequent storms and the early sunsets - as a reminder we're here to see another season? That we've been blessed with another year on this earth and all that comes with it - the light and the dark?
(Ok I'm getting a bit deeper than I meant to, so let me step back for a moment!)
Why don't we start very simply this week by creating a cold season cozy corner ... this will be our first "assignment."
How about over the next few days we find a nice spot in our homes where we will build a little nest. This will be a spot where we can sit down, think a bit, read a while, or just take a breather. A spot where, on these dark afternoons, we can get off our feet and surround ourselves with a humble helping of comfort and joy.
Where would this be in your house? Do you have a spot like this already?
It would be wonderful to make "nesting" a daily ritual - late afternoon, just before supper? - but if daily is inconvenient, or too much to attempt, what about once a week? On which day of the week can you carve out an hour to spend in your nest?
Here in this nest you will have added some wonderful feathers: throw blankets - slippers, perhaps? - good things to read, a notepad and pen, perhaps some hand lotion rich with the scents of the season? Lights are important here - a good one for reading - but I also like to have candles around, too (LED for me, since I have a toddler in the house). I like the ones that turn on as the sun dips low in the sky - a glowing reminder to slow down and rest, just as nature is doing.
More to consider:
There should be a good spot where you can safely put down your chosen refreshment. Since I'll be taking tea in my nest, and there is the aforementioned toddler afoot, I will need to place my tea well past the edge of the table.
Sitting by a window is ideal, I think, if you can manage it. A seasonal view and a good dose of natural light is good for the soul! Hanging a bird feeder here would also be lovely!
A basket with notecards and stationary would be handy - this could be a time to pen a note to a friend or relative. Maybe get a head start on those Season's Greetings? :)
And finally, how about some artwork? A picture or sculpture upon which you can reflect? This might be something representing your faith or the season at hand ... a quote for the month, or simply a photo of your loved ones.
However your nest is feathered, it will be different in style and content for different people. Some like things streamlined while others prefer a bit of clutter. Some want things formal and some not. Some of us will be wedged in a corner of a room filled with other people ... while others might secure a spot of privacy somewhere in the house. And some of us have little ones we can't escape all around us and that needs to be taken into consideration, too.
Well, lets take a look at what I've set up for myself today ..
My nest is set up in the living room (aka library ... aka playroom), and my chair is old and squishy, but comfy as all get out. For as much as I'd like to make my cozy corner a somewhat private affair, it's silly for me to think it always (or even often) will be. But that's ok. This is the season I'm in! I am the mother of a little one and he's growing so fast ... some days I will get some time to myself (if LB's napping or busy with Bill or the brothers) and that will be enough. To sit here and relax will be nice, and because there are plenty of toys about, I can sit, and Little Bear can play in the room or perch on my lap and "read" his own books ...
I also have a basket of magazines here ... and BOY do I love those fall-holiday magazines!
As well as the Thanksgiving basket, filled with our books for the holiday at hand.
(Truth be told, I love reading through them even by myself!)
And right behind my chair is yet another basket full of books. These are Little Bear's favorite board books - he likes to stand on my lap and pick through his collection ...
On the windowsill I have displayed favorite Thanksgiving cards (never sent or received, just part of my collection), and under the lamp I have my page-a-day calendar as well as a stack of favorite reads.
At day's end ... living by the light!
My friends, I'd love to hear about (or see!) your cozy nests - please leave me a comment below or consider sending me a picture (email: bysunandcandle AT gmail DOT com). I would love to share this endeavor with others and carry on throughout the fall and winter, visiting each other's nests from time to time and chatting about seasonal ideas. I will continue to post little "assignments" now and again - and of course you'll be seeing more of my nest as we being our Advent Teas very soon!
Speaking of tea ... tomorrow - or Friday at the latest - I will have a post up with more information on my upcoming Advent Tea Journal. Monday's tea will be ahead of Advent, with a focus on Thanksgiving, and our theme for discussion will be "simplifying the season." I plan to have my post up on Monday afternoon and would LOVE to have you all join me!
Ok, I think I've kept you all here long enough! Thanks so much for joining me and also, thanks for the kind words about my podcast with Pam! I am so glad I did it ... I'm pleased I was able to step outside my "comfort zone" and join in the fun. And those podcasts are SUCH fun. What a service Pam is doing for the homeschooling mama community - and I am honored to have taken a small part!
Enjoy your evening, my friends ... see you here again very soon!
Good Thursday morning, my friends! I hope your week's going well. :)
First up - in Planner Party news, I'm eager to hear from more of you and am very happy to share more planner posts, so if you have some thoughts or pics to share, please send them to me at:
bysunandcandle AT gmail DOT com
I have a bit more to share on the subject myself - in fact, I'm currently working on a post about my binder tabs ... but of course, mid-way through I decided to completely overhaul the whole thing. ;) So that post will be up soon, I hope!
Now, about my next "party" ...
I was thinking it would be nice to bring back my Advent Tea Journal from last year ... and I'd love to have you all join me again! If you'd like to see how we "took tea" last year, here is a link to my Tea Journal (and here is a link to my Advent archives for good measure). This year I will follow a similar format: there will be a theme to each week, a topic to discuss. I will share my own thoughts and photos, and I invite you all to do the same, whether by e-mail or comment or by posting at your own blog and linking up ... :)
And just like last year I will begin with a Thanksgiving Tea! Join me here on Monday, November 23rd to share some afternoon refreshment and take a collective breath before the busy holiday week gets underway. Our Advent Teas will follow over the next four weeks and then there will be one final Christmas Tea before we conclude our party. :)
Here are the Tea dates and topics:
Thanksgiving Tea: Monday, November 23rd ~ "Simplifying the Season"
Advent Tea, #1: Monday, November 30th ~ "Gifts from the Heart"
Advent Tea, #2: Monday, December 7th ~ "O Christmas Tree"
Advent Tea, #3: Monday, December 14th ~ "Magic + Meaning" (Advent for children)
Advent Tea, #4: Monday, December 21st ~ "Welcoming Winter"
Christmas Tea: Monday, December 28th ~ "'Tis the Season!"
My friends, I welcome you to send me your thoughts on our weekly topics (along with photos if you care to share them) and if you blog, I hope you'll consider posting about our Teatime and sending me a link. I'll also collect comments as they post and add them into each post ... so there's a way for just about everyone to participate!
In the week leading up to each Tea I will post reminders (where, how and when to send things) and describe more fully each topic. And I'm going to try to make up a pretty Tea button of some sort ... but I haven't done that in a long time, so I hope I remember how!
I think this will be such fun - a nice chance to pause and reflect on the season while indulging in a little teatime together. I'm hoping by organizing this all now I'm giving myself (and you!) some time to digest and think ahead ... I hope you'll join me if you can!
For now though ... well, Advent seems pretty far off ... it's a damp and dark (dare I say dreary?) day here. Very mid-November. Most of the leaves are gone (from the trees, that is ... there are plenty plastered to the wet ground). But December is just around the corner! I'm not one to rush things (and certainly not seasons) but there is prudence in getting things set, at least in your mind if not also on paper. Because as much as I don't like rushing I really don't like scrambling ... and that's what happens when I leave things to just happen without planning ahead! I want my seasons to be simple, yes - but also satisfying ... and that takes a little forethought, I think.
Well that's all for now, friends ... my little one's due to wake any moment. So I must be off ... but I thank you, as always, for stopping by and I will see you here again very soon!
Hello my friends, and Happy Thursday!
I hate to wish time away, but I do love the promise of a new week! So on Thursdays I try to schedule myself an "office hour" in order to sit down and look at "what's what" for the coming week. So today, as I was combing through some of my favorite seasonal resources (searching for a dragon bread recipe for Michaelmas next week), I remembered that a few folks have asked me to share a list of said resources. So below I've done just that ...
In addition to my books, I also rely on old journals, some magazines, a few websites and good ol' google when planning our family's seasons. There's more information and inspiration out there than one could possibly need in a lifetime! The trick, I think, is identifying what will click with YOUR family at THIS time, and knowing how to balance ideas with reality ...
Now, I've had most of these books for years, and I've read them so many times I could probably recite them in my sleep, but I still like to page back through them from time to time. Sometimes an idea pops out at me that perhaps didn't resonate before ... sometimes I just enjoy reading the words of someone who is enthralled with the same things as me. :)
When I'm brainstorming ideas for celebrating the seasons, I like to use a wide blend of resources - Catholic, Waldorf, Nature/Science, Home/Garden, New Age or Earth-based traditions. When I'm looking for seasonal ideas I don't worry if the author and I differ on fundamental life issues. In every year there are so many things to observe and honor in both the natural and liturgical season ... so I look all over for ideas ... you never know what will strike a chord! Obviously I do have many Catholic books since A. we are Catholic and B. we follow the Church calendar of feasts and observations ... but the rhythm of nature is embraced by people of all walks of life. Some folks are more attuned to that rhythm than others, but honoring nature is just being human - aware, interested, awed.
Anyhoo ... I was going over thoughts and ideas for October in general and next week in particular - which is such a busy week for my nature-loving, Catholic homeschooling family! We have a bunch of neat things coming up - a Full Hunter's Moon (a Blood Moon-Supermoon-Lunar eclipse to boot!), the Feast days of the Archangels (aka Michaelmas), St. Therese, the Holy (Guardian) Angels, and - AND - our family patron saint, St. Francis. Oh! And the new month of October begins, so don't forget:
I won't try to do every last thing of course - the dragon bread may wait till next year - but I will certainly pick a few activities to plug into our week. I've been busy in my lesson planner, consulting my calendar and the weather app on my phone - looking at where we'll have a chance to get outside ... where we might have a chance to sit down and craft or bake or read a special book ... what we might pray over or talk about ... all those little moments that take some forethought and preparation, perhaps a bit of extra energy ... but have us looking back later on and saying ...
"Yeah, that was a really good week."
Well my friends, the night is now approaching and I'm taking too long to finish this post, so I'll stop here ... and hope I made sense. ;) But at least there's the book list! I'd love to hear about your favorite seasonal resources ... drop me a note if you have a chance!
In the meantime, as always, thanks so much for stopping by ... take care of yourselves and your loved ones ... I'll see you here again very soon!
Happy Wednesday, my friends! Sorry I've been a bit out of touch lately ... we've had a lot going on here at the house these days!
We're gearing up for a new year of home learning, and we're getting Bookworm ready for his move back to BC, and we're starting Earlybird on a new, daily, home-based, fairly intensive, behavioral therapy. All very good things, but all things requiring a lot of time, energy and attention. (And did I mention, energy?) Also, as August winds down, we're trying to squeeze the very last drops of goodness out of this fast-fleeing season ... we'll have warm weather here for several more weeks, but for all intents and purposes, Summer pretty much ends after Labor Day.
So I thought I would share some of my notes for this week with you all! As I have mentioned before, I enjoy shaping my family's year by assigning seasonal themes to each week. This helps me weave in all the little comforts and joys of the season I might otherwise overlook. And though I really get into planning these themes out with all kinds of details, I try not to set my expectations too high. Because real life often runs over my plans, and a particular "theme" might not get explored very much ... so some years we might manage something small (a special recipe, perhaps) while other years we might go all out and really work that theme into our homeschooling and home life! Either way, I think it's always good to have a plan. And to be aware ... I think as seasons pass, the beautiful rhythm of the year truly wraps itself around my family however much attention we pay it. That is my end goal! :)
Anyhoo, this current week is devoted to the very timely topic of CORN. In New England (and I suspect, across much of the country) corn is in its peak season these days. Corn-on-the-cob is just heavenly right now - partaking daily is not out of the question - and cornstalks will factor into our home decorations in the coming weeks ...
But enough gabbing on my part! Here are some of my thoughts:
The Full Green Corn Moon will rise on Saturday, August 29th @ 2:35 p.m., and it's a Supermoon this month! We'll have to be sure to look for it after dark and plan a special farmstand supper - starring corn, of course! - for that night.
We'll visit a local corn field ... we drive by it often and always marvel at its size. This time we'll stop the car and get out - observe the field, its sounds and smells. What wildlife is flying overhead or scurrying underfoot? What do we hear? (Is that the corn making that sound?) What can we smell? (Vegetation, earth?) How does the air feel right now? (Hot, humid?) Now, we won't touch these stalks because we don't have permission, but we might visit a local farm and ask to do just that. I'll see what our schedule allows and how much interest has been piqued. Before we go, we'll take pictures of the cornfield from various angles.
We'll visit our favorite farmstand and buy plenty of ears of fresh corn. We'll ask where the corn comes from and how many ears they sell each day. We'll buy some to eat and some to use for exploration/activities ...
At home, we'll pile some ears on the table and take out our colored pencils and sketch pad: "Still Life with Corn!"
We''ll enjoy some nice books from the library all about corn:
(These might be in a basket or set up as a display on a nature shelf.)
We'll play some pretty lullabies ... and discuss how/why corn was so important to Native Americans.
For craft day we'll make a corn husk candle - a small glass votive surrounded by corn husks with a tiny beeswax tealight tucked inside. That will look nice on our table! (We could also try making this or this ...)
Or we could try making a corn husk doll (and research the history behind it) ...
We will pop popcorn for snack ... and we might even make marshmallow popcorn bars for a tasty treat!
We might do a taste test: boiled corn vs. grilled corn.
On baking day we will make a pan of corn bread, and serve it with honey butter.
We'll learn a poem called "A Green Cornfield" by Christina Georgina Rossetti. We'll add that poem to our nature journal, along with our pictures/sketches.
The earth was green, the sky was blue:
I saw and heard one sunny morn
A skylark hang between the two,
A singing speck above the corn;
A stage below, in gay accord,
White butterflies danced on the wing,
And still the singing skylark soared,
And silent sank and soared to sing.
The cornfield stretched a tender green
To right and left beside my walks;
I knew he had a nest unseen
Somewhere among the million stalks.
And as I paused to hear his song
While swift the sunny moments slid,
Perhaps his mate sat listening long,
And listened longer than I did.
We'll consider "Kansas Corn Field," a painting by artist John Steuart Curry in 1933:
I also have notes for some Indian Corn activities but I'm not sure if I can get it at the nursery yet. Also, those might wait for a later week in the fall. This week is really more about fresh, or green, corn. :)
So there, in a nutshell (or a kernel!) are my simple ideas for celebrating the goodness of corn during this last week of August. Remember - they're all just possibilities! I can't imagine fitting them all in in any one given year.
How do you enjoy corn at this time of year? Perhaps you grow it yourself or have a favorite recipe ... let me know in the comments below! In the meantime, and before I go, I wanted to mention my book briefly, because I've had a few people ask recently about how my progress is going ...
So, I have been working on it this summer - here and there, not as often as I'd like! - but it took me a while to get going because I wasn't entirely sure WHAT I wanted to write about. I have a few subjects I enjoy very much and there are a few topics people ask about more than others ... well, I finally found my focus! And that enabled me to get rolling ...
I am going to do a book about the file crate system - describing how I do it (and why) and the basics of setting a system up for yourself. That will be the first half of the book ... the second half will focus on seasonal learning (and living) ... and how I use my FCS to manage my family's year. So my hope is to have an outline of 52 (weekly) *seasonal* themes to present along with activities and books and observations. And tips for using the folders to make it all happen! (Or most of it ... some of it ... well, you get the picture!)
Sometimes when I describe this it all sounds so straight forward and simple - these are my two favorite topics, after all! It seems like the two sides of the equation should work well together ... I need the folders to make the plans happen! But it's possible I may need to separate the two topics ... goodness knows I can get wordy!
(Case in point, this post.)
I will most likely be self-publishing so I'll need to do a WHOLE lot of research into that. I have my eye on a neat contraption that will allow me to bind things at home ... and I am looking into permission for using things like scrapbook papers and poems, illustrations, etc.
Much to do, much to do! But I'm excited ... so I wanted to update you all .. and I will of course keep you all posted. For the time being, if you have a prayer to spare, or good energy to send, I would be grateful ... I'm desperately trying to find the time in my new schedule to just ... get 'er done!
Thanks so much for stopping by my friends ... enjoy the rest of your Wednesday and I will see you here again very soon!
Happy Thursday, my friends! I hope this note finds you well, and enjoying this last week of Advent. Things are fairly quiet on our homefront, and I'm grateful for that. These days I'm trying very hard not to "stress" over the many things left un-done on my to-do list ... trying to re-set my expectations ... and remember that the true spirit of Christmas can be found without spending a cent or stepping outside of my home.
To that end, I continue to find a little joy and peace each day, when and where I can find it ... here are a few recent moments I'd like to share with you:
Advent calendars - the simple old fashioned kind - one for each child, and a chocolate for each day. (I eat Little Bear's, natch.) With thanks to my brother who surprised the boys with these on Thanksgiving Day.
The wise men, starting their long journey in a sunny, south-facing window. I find two or three of these guys on the floor every morning. Thanks to Oliver who is oddly fixated on the nativity set.
The three kings will start their trek on Christmas and by Epiphany they'll have made their way 'round the room to the hearth ...
And here are a bunch of winter books for Saturday's solstice. I've been displaying seasonal books on my desk and I love the way they look - even if we don't get to read them, they're so good to see ... like old friends, you know?
My wintertime "boy-friendly" tea set ... love how it looks in the late afternoon light. I set it on top of a hand-painted tray which is set upon a ruby-red brocade ottoman. It makes me all kinds of happy that I have this little set up in my house. :) Looking at it makes me think of the long winter to come, and afternoons filled with hot chocolate, good books and kids.
And here we have a paper parade of vintage snowmen, perched along the windowsill... I love Christmas decorations that will suit the winter as well.
A very pretty garland featuring softly painted, slightly glittery Victorian birds - strung along the mantel on an ivory ribbon. This is a gift from my parents, another wonderful "Vermont" find. It looks so, so pretty in this room - my library. :)
A beautiful window at dusk ... on these short, dark afternoons, little lights like these are so comforting. The tree candle is energized by a battery and it turns itself on at the same time each day. I think that's neat - when I see it on, I know it's "that time" of day.
Our lamppost all covered with snow - a Narnia moment, don't you think?
Another candle - this one smells of peppermint and I've been burning it on the kitchen windowsill as I work towards supper. I find the smell of peppermint invigorating, and yet calming at the same time - it reminds me of Christmas treats, winter snow and my summer herb garden. (Because I love to grow mint!)
And finally, this lovely ornament is new this year - I bought it as a gift but loved it so much I bought a second for our own tree. I think it's so pretty, and a perfect reminder for those days when I'm rushing about trying to make Christmas something more than it needs to be.
Well my friends, I wish you all a pleasant evening - or day if you're across the sea! Thank you so much for joining me here, and finding a little peace and joy alongside me. Take care of yourselves and your loved ones ... I'll be back again just as soon as I can!
Happy Wednesday, my friends! I hope your week's going well. :)
I put the learning room back together today - meaning, I moved out the "table for four" from Easter Sunday, and returned the loveseat to its rightful place. (Mama's reading chair, too.) It felt good to sweep up, sort out, and then settle things back where they belong. :)
The library corner needed to be set up again, so I retired the "March" books and set out the April nature-related books. Our theme this month is "our marvelous earth."
The books you see above are as follows:
Naturally Fun Parties for Kids (I just got this book the other day and Earlybird is enthralled! I can hardly get it back in "my" pile, lol.)
Now, yesterday we met up with some of our homeschooling friends and took our kids on an informal nature walk. ("Informal" in that, the parents walked and talked - the kids mostly ran ahead.) I provided a "scavenger" list of things for the kids to look for at this time of year, and I'd like to share it here with you all in case it might be something you can use. :)
Take a look around and see what you can find ... use all your senses to “Search for Spring!”
signs of nest building
a spring flower
three shades of green
a fresh smell
tracks in mud
a new bird sound
an early spring insect
a fiddlehead (young fern)
a migrant bird
an amphibian or reptile
running, dripping or trickling water
a cold spot
a warm spot
something that has more than 3 colors
Have fun, and remember to be gentle with Nature!
I hope this list might inspire you and your kids to go outside and "search for spring." We had a lot of fun finding it for ourselves!
Have a wonderful evening, my friends ... I will see you here again very soon!
Did you remember to turn your clocks ahead this morning?
We changed our clocks before we went to bed Saturday night - I don't like to attempt mental math before I've had at least one cup of coffee - and boy, did the morning come fast! (There was a whole lot of yawning at church, lol.)
So I thought I might take a few minutes today to list a few of my favorite Spring Things. I've so enjoyed reading about all of yours ... especially since we are all from so many different corners of the word. But it seems, wherever we're from, Spring is quite special to all of us. :)
Spring Things I Love:
All the planning and preparing for Easter, especially working with my mum.
The hope and promise of a new garden: making plans, starting seeds, turning soil.
Hearing peepers in the woods at night.
The smell of Easter lillies.
The taste of white chocolate.
The change of light ~ the new brightness to the days that lasts into the evenings.
Seeing the first chipmunk appear after winter hibernation.
Hearing (and maybe seeing) a flock of red-winged blackbirds passing by.
Baking rhubarb crumble.
Watching the goldfinches go from beige to bright yellow.
Setting up the Spring book baskets.
Seeing new lambs at the farm.
Visiting a local sugarshack - bringing home a new supply of maple syrup.
Organizing holiday clothes: buying new things, laundering and ironing it all so everything's fresh and crisp for Easter Sunday.
Holy Thursday evening ~ attending the Mass of the Lord's Supper.
Watching The Ten Commandments as a family, one night before Easter.
Watching the boys search for eggs in the yard on Easter morning. The neighborhood is so quiet ... the sunrise is so soft and lovely.
The way the air smells these days ... like fresh dirt and green, growing things.
Looking for - and finding! - pussy willows down by the river.
The way the neighborhood comes alive on those first sunny, warm weekends.
Visiting the local nursery in mid-May ... coming home with some new things for the garden.
Spring Cleaning. (Honestly ~ I love it!)
Those few days in May (usually around Mother's Day) when the lilacs are at their peak.
Finding tiny violets and johnny-jump-ups in the lawn.
Our annual "Search for Spring" nature walk.
Celebrating Easter Sunday with our family.
Well, my friends ... I'm sure I could go on with my list, but I'll stop here for now. It was especially fun working on this list today - as it truly feels like the perfect Spring day. Sunny and mild-ish with just a bit of a cool edge to the air. The rest of the week looks to be absolutely amazing around here - sunny and up around 70! :)
So I'll be off now, but thank you so much for stopping by, and for all your kind and thoughtful comments. Have a great Sunday night ... and I will see you all again in the morning!
Sometime last night (12:30 a.m. to be exact), Winter arrived - and not as quietly as one would think - but with violent thunder, lightning, and a hard pouding rain! The storm woke up both Bill and I - though surprisingly the boys slept through it - and my first thought when I looked at the clock, was: Wow, Winter's really coming in with a bang!
Just a few hours later, though - storm over, sun on the rise - Bill slipped outside and plugged in these lights ... such fun for the boys to see when they first woke up!
And while Bill fired up the suns, I started the Solstice Cider:
This is just a blend of apple cider and cranberry juice, which I brought to a boil on the stove. I placed mulling sachets and cinnamon sticks in our pinecone mugs ...
And five minutes later the cider was ready to sip, so it was time to rustle up some boys! I also toasted some cranberry English muffins and lathered them with Crofter's Blood Orange spread. (This stuff is SO good. If you like marmalade, as I do - but are not fond of the chunky peel, as I'm not - you'll love this spread! I bought my jar at Whole Foods.)
Now our day will be pretty quiet, but I do have a few things planned. This morning we'll set out treats for the birds (our favorite Winter friends) and a bit later on, the boys will make a gingerbread house with Nana. (That's the "surprise" on their Advent scroll today!)
And while the boys are out, I'll do some pre-Christmas cleaning - it will be a nice day to open windows and air things out a bit. After my 4:00 tea break, I'll start supper: a beefy cottage pie. And for dessert, I'll bake a yummy "oats & apples" crisp.
Now, today's weather is not very wintery at all - not for New England anyway. In fact, today will be sunny and rather mild, in the 50s. And while I can appreciate the unseasonable (but comfortable) weather, Crackerjack is just distraught we'll likely not see a white Christmas! Of course I reminded him that before long we'll have more snow than we can shake a fist at - for goodness sakes, remember last year?
So I'm off for now, but I do wish you all a Happy Solstice! And whatever Winter brings to your corner of the world, I hope it's kind to you this year! Which now has me wondering ... what is Winter like where you live?
Have a good day, my friends... see you back here sometime soon!
Brew me a cup for a winter's night.
For the wind howls loud and the furies fight;
Spice it with love and stir it with care,
And I'll toast our bright eyes,
my sweetheart fair.
~ Minna Thomas Antrim
And November goes,
With the last red berries
And the first white snows.
With night coming early,
And dawn coming late,
And ice in the bucket
And frost by the gate.
The fires burn
And the kettles sing,
And earth sinks to rest
Until next spring."
~ Elizabeth Coatsworth
Just after 8 p.m. last night, as we sat down to watch It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, we noticed the cats staring out the back window, peering into the darkness with a look of absolutely enchanted curiosity. We flipped on the outside lights to see what was up, and lo and behold - it was snowing!
I had just finished telling the boys about my favorite childhood Thanksgiving, when all the cousins went for a long walk after dinner and on our way back it started snowing. I've always held that memory dear - for the family togetherness as well as the perfectly timed first snow of the year. I do love a late autumn snow ...
But this is just crazy.
Snow in October? Snow before Halloween? We have a storm heading our way this weekend ... bringing with it anywhere from 1-3 to 3-6 inches, depending on its ultimate track ...
But let's focus on calmer, happier things, shall we? Let's embrace the season before us, and make ready for a new month to enjoy. I spent some time perusing my November notes recently, and I thought I'd share a few themes and plans for next month ... things that make November special for our family.
Give thanks to the birds ~ make them some homemade suet treats. Set them out on Thansgiving day morning.
On All Soul's Day (11/2), create a remembrance altar - tiny tealights (rosemary candles if I can find them/make them), marigold blossoms, framed pictures of departed loved ones.
Collect woodland goodies so the kids can make "Thanksgiving Potpourri."
Field trip! Visit a local cranberry bog ~ make a fragrant relish for Turkey Day.
Go on a nest walk: look for squirrel dreys and all kinds of (now visible) nests.
Observe varieties of moss and lichens in the woods (and backyard). Sketch in journals ... make a tiny terrarium for the Nature Shelf.
Display our Thankgiving books.
Launder soft throw blankets and place them in a handy basket.
Make watercolor post cards using soft, autumnal colors - russet, amber, gray, olive - and write Thankgiving greetings to send to friends and family.
Look for the returning juncos, our little snowbirds that herald Winter's return. (We spotted one the other day - so I guess this snow should not be surprising!)
Push our clocks back (11/5) and make way for shorter, darker days.
Take time to enjoy the sound of geese flying overhead.
Organize the pantry early in the month - make sure we have our holiday baking supplies in order.
Order mixed dried fruit for making fruitcakes.
Mix up mulling spices:
Mix: 2 cups dried orange peel, 2 cups broken cinnamon sticks, 1 cup whole allspice berries, 1 cup whole cloves, 4 broken star anise. Store in closed jar.
To use: Mix 1/4 cup spices per gallon cider, wine or apple juice. Simmer 30 minutes before serving.
(From China Bayles' Book of Days)
Clean, shop, cook for Thanksgiving. (That's oversimplifying things, but that's a whole 'nother post!)
Set up a knitting basket - start working on scarves for Christmas.
Hang our Gratitude Banner to work on all month.
Write out different autumnal and thankful words on small pieces of paper. Let EB make his own "November poetry."
On Martinmas (11/11), gather donations for the Parish Food Drive.
Work on Advent Calendar Project (ready to go 12/1).
And a Very Happy August to You!
(Did you all remember to say "Rabbit, rabbit" this morning? I made sure my kids did, but alas, I did not think of it in time for myself. I think my first words were something like, "Bill, move over, I need to get up." Lol.)
Just for fun, here are some of the things I love most about August ...
corn on the cob
big, beautiful dahlias
the whine of the cicada
the drone of the mower
bats at dusk
sea glass & seashells
(lots and lots of zucchini bread!)
new school supplies
It's such a lovely time of year! I hope your August is all you hope for ...
"That beautiful season the Summer!
Filled was the air with a dreamy and magical light;
and the landscape
Lay as if new created in all the freshness of childhood."
~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
The Summer Solstice arrives at 1:16 p.m. today, the longest day of the year. But from here on out, every day gets just a little bit shorter, so let's enjoy the light while we can!
Have a great Tuesday, my friends!
Yesterday I showed you the tiny crocus shoots we spied at the base of the big maple out front ... well, here's who I spotted under our feeders late Sunday afternoon:
Our first chipmunk of the year!
Chipmunks hibernate through the cold months, from (roundabouts) October through March. So at this time of year, when we spy a chipmunk in our yard, we just KNOW Winter is almost over. We also know the juncos will soon disappear - their time here is quite the opposite from that of the chipmunk's. In the Spring they fly north and in the Fall they return. This is why they are called "snowbirds." :)
In further "Signs of Spring" news, just look what Bill found in the shady northeast corner of our yard:
The absolutely beautiful snowdrop! These tiny flowers are my favorite of all the spring bulbs - perhaps because they're so very "British." :)
Speaking of snow, it's just about gone now, save for a few stubborn drifts. And oh, how the birds are singing these days! It's amazing how primal it is, the reaction we have to the subtle changes in season. I hardly know birdsong at all (i.e. who sounds like what), but I KNOW what I'm hearing now is distinctly, and instinctively SPRING.
Well, this is a busy week for a faith-living, nature-loving, home-learning family! We have feast days (St. Patrick, St. Joseph), random events (National Pi Day, Ides of March) and even natural phenomena (Full Sap Moon, The Spring Equinox) coming up!
I'm keeping things simple this year, so in case I don't have a lot of crafts to share this week, I thought I'd link some older posts describing the various ways we've celebrated these special days in the past.
As for our tentative plans this week ...
Tonight we'll be making (and eating) pies for National Pi Day - pizza pies for supper and a custard pie for dessert.
I'll be serving "Caesar salad" wraps tomorrow, the Ides of March. (As well as little baked mozzarella bites the boys can eat with "sword" toothpicks.)
I'm baking raisin-studded Irish Soda Muffins on Thursday to enjoy while reading favorite St. Patty's Day books, and I'll make a very simple shamrock craft with EB. Supper will be Irish-inspired ~ and we'll make "shamrock shakes" for dessert.
On Saturday morning we'll bake donuts for St. Joseph's Day and for supper I'm making "sloppy joes." At night we'll watch for the Full Sap Moon, and - no matter how cold it is! - we'll crack our windows to listen for peepers in the woods.
On Sunday, the long-awaited First Day of Spring, we'll take a nature walk after we get home from Mass. The boys will each receive a new nature journal and a tin of fresh colored pencils, and if the weather's nice, we'll spend our afternoon working in the yard. For dinner we'll enjoy "pasta primavera," and at 7:21 p.m. (the exact moment of the equinox) we'll have a ginger ale toast to the new season. :)
Wow, so this was going to be a very short post, but I ended up having a whole lot to say! I'm off for now - I hear signs of life from the other end of the house - but I hope you have a nice Monday. It's the last week of Winter, my friends - that is certainly something to smile about this morning.
I worked in my planner/binder and my file crate today and since it was bright and sunny I took a few pictures. :)
I'm feeling a little giddy about my new planner these days. It's really working well for me and it's starting to feel comfortable and familiar. Like I said in an earlier post, I did give up on the daily index cards but other than that, it's all making sense. I like having the weekly section open on my work counter, and the month @ a glance calendar doesn't feel too hidden in the front portion of the binder.
One thing I did do was to take the things I kept on my clipboard - my "action" items if you will - and add them to the inside of the front binder cover. I simply clipped the sheets (emails and whatnot) along with my master to-do-list onto the inside cover with a large binder clip as seen above.
It's one less item to have to keep handy - and though I do love a clipboard, I kept forgetting where I put it or I'd forget to look at it and some important deadlines would pass me by. As you can see in the picture above, these "to-do's" are quite visible with my planner open on the counter. And in sight = in mind ... in theory anyway, lol!
(As a quick aside ~ these "action items" are things I need to do something about in a timely fashion. Things like classes or field trips to sign up for, forms to fill out and return, an email to respond to - things like that.)
So then, it being just about mid-February, I decided to make up some planning pages for March and April (like the ones I made up for January and February as described in this post). I would like to do a craft store run this weekend (weekly coupons in hand!) and pick up some things for March events and Lenten activities.
The underside of the paper shown above holds brainstorming notes for the "early spring" season. Then there's a breakdown of March and April events (shown directly above) and next a planning page for celebrating the bigger events (i.e. Ash Wednesday, St. Patrick's Day, the Spring Equinox, etc.). The season of Lent already has its own (purple!) planning page - I started it last month. Easter Sunday itself has its own separate planning page as well.
Now, I'm sure you all know about this thing (especially avid binder-users), but I figured I'd show it anyway ...
This is my trusty three-hole punch "thingamabob" that makes it so easy to add things to my binder in a flash. I've had this for years ... and I still store it up on the very top of my very tall learning room bookcase. I'm paranoid about little fingers getting pinched in this thing - it's quite powerful!
And this is my weekly planning page for next week (yet to be filled out).
Eventually I would like to design and print sheets already marked with the planning sections for which I now use post it notes. I'm giving myself a month or two to fine tune just how I plan the week before I commit to a final page design.
Right now I use the apple post-it as a place to write what is "of note" this week (events, holidays, etc.) and I place it in such a way that it sticks out over the edge of the page, marking the week at hand (for when the planner is closed).
I use the other post-it notes for listing:
1. the week's dinners
2. to-do's pertinent to this week
3. Earlybird's life & learning goals
4. shopping needs/errands
In other words, the things I need to plan in a given week.
Oh, and one last thing ...
I added some wide hanging file folders to the back of my file crate. I've been meaning to do this forever!
I have them assigned to ...
* The boys' medical information and school contact information (approval letters etc.)
* Recipe clippings (eventually to be purged, with keepers filed in a recipe binder)
* General education information (driver's ed, college info, etc.)
* Places to go and visit (local daytrips, nature walks, etc.)
* Disney vacation info.
*EB's special needs information and files.
So it all felt very productive. And it was ... it was a good day. It was so bright and sunny - it felt so good to see the house filled with light. I hope you all had a nice Wednesday as well. How is your own current planner working for you? Are you happy with it? And if you use it, how about the file crate? Is it still relevant in your household management?
Well, have a good night, my friends, and thanks so much for stopping by!
I'll see you all again very soon ...
Check the link at 7:25 a.m. for the answer to the annual query:
Will we have an early spring?
Or six more weeks of winter?
Please take pity on us, Phil ~ we truly NEED an early spring this year!
(This isn't Phil - he's a groundhog or, woodchuck as we call them - that visited our yard a few springs ago. Isn't it nice to see all that clover?)
7:30 a.m. ETA ~ Phil did NOT see his shadow, so this means we'll have an EARLY SPRING!
Looking outside my window this morning, at the snow falling steadily - pretty as it is - I would love to believe this prediction will come true. An early spring would be a most welcome reprieve after the grueling winter conditions we've been having.
Case in point - we're expecting several more inches of heavy snow today before it turns to sleet and ice. Fingers crossed, prayers said, we don't lose power or trees!
Have a great Wednesday, everyone - keep safe and warm!
Rabbit, rabbit everyone!
Ok, so February can be a tough month to love. It's cold and snowy. Or it's cold and icy. Or it's cold and sleety. With a side helping of slush.
But there are nice things to say about this month, too ...
When I think of February, I think of snow, greenhouse flowers, bakeries, cherries, hearts, Chinese dragons ... seed catalogs, ice skating, snowmen and chocolate.
Those are all some pretty nice things!
Plus it's a short month - only four weeks to go, and we jump right into March, the first month of Spring ...
Our February learning themes will be: "Families," "Florida," "The Middle Ages," and "Measurements." And as you can see, I've been putting a "seasonal spin" on the learning room decor. (I've also added some new sidebars here at the blog, and I may change the floral banner. I'm thinking of primroses or violets ...)
So here's ...
February @ a Glance:
St. Brigid's Day
Chinese New Year
St. Valentine's Day
Full Snow Moon
February is ...
National Heart Month
National Birdfeeding Month
Devoted to The Holy Family
Well, I'm enjoying my coffee this morning (with a bit of that tartlet) and watching the feeder frenzy outside my window. I think the critters know we're expecting quite a storm between today and tomorrow. Before the snow picks up, we'll fill the feeders as best we can. Bill is working from home the next few days, which is a great convenience and a huge relief.
Later today we'll have an "Irish" snack in honor of St. Brigid, and I'm making a shepherd(ess) pie for our supper. Tomorrow brings us Candlemas and the annual Groundhog report (which I plan to take with a grain of salt, lol). I've got a candle craft in mind, and it will be a good day to kick off our light/shadow/color study.
Well, I hope your February starts out on a good foot - just watch where you're stepping, it's bound to be slippery out there!
Have a great Tuesday, everyone ... see you again very soon!