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A Tale of Four Carts ... ❀


Hello everyone, and Happy Hump Day! If you follow me on Instagram you may have seen one or more of my recent posts in which I gush over my brand new rolling "caddy" carts. Well, I'd like to share them here too, because I'm having such fun setting them up!

But a bit of backstory first ...

I have admired these rolling carts for years now, ever since longtime reader, and Moscow-friend, Mic shared hers for my "Autumn Cozy Nest" series. Mic's pretty cart, in that iconic robin's egg blue, lives in her family's study room and holds all kinds of happy desk and craft supplies. When I saw Mic's picture - with her neatly stored pens, notebooks and purse, plus a couple of my favorite books tucked in there too - well, my heart just went all a-flutter! And then later on my friend Jen shared how she was using her own lovely cart on Instagram - and once again I found myself coveting another's cart just a little! Well, since these pretty carts were made by IKEA, I made a mental note to get myself right over to our local IKEA, only ... I never seem to get over to IKEA! (It's actually not quite local, but a bit of a drive from here.) But those carts have never gone off my radar ...

So then recently I was shopping at Michaels Arts & Crafts for Easter stuff when I found these remarkably similar carts made by a company called Recollections and they not only looked well-made but came in a wide-range of soft colors - PLUS they were ON a really good SALE! So honestly, what could I do but buy one? Or ... um, four?

Well, I did start with just one ... I hemmed and hawed a bit over the color, finally deciding on the charcoal grey because I planned to park it in my family room and we have a lot of gray in that room. Back home I set Bill (and his helper) to work putting the cart together ...



Bill said it was a cinch to assemble (how could it not be with that kind of help, right?) and seemed quite solidly made. In fact, he was so impressed with the cart - and my plans for it - he hardly twitched an eyelid when I returned to Michaels the very next weekend (before that sale ran out!) and came home with a few more!

(Ok, each cart was on sale for $23 and change so, not exactly a cheap investment, but I made sure I had specific intentions for each cart before I splurged. I don't mean to make it sound like it was nothing to drop $100 on home storage!)

Anyhoo, here's a little tour of our carts and their new homes ...


In the family room: The GRAY cart quickly became Little Bear's because he just loved it so. It's already logged many miles! This cart holds (a portion of) our vast cars and trucks collection as well as LB's favorite vehicle-themed books. I used a few bins I already had here too, so LB can lift out a bin at a time (in theory) and keep things a little tidier than they might otherwise end up. He can also wheel his car collection to other rooms if he wishes.

The bottom bin holds "monster trucks" and the middle bin holds the interchangeable parts of a set of wooden, buildable trucks while the bin at the very top holds assorted matchbox-sized cars (and planes). We actually own far more than the vehicles seen here (we've been raising boys for the past 22 years so this should not come as a surprise!) but I whittled down the family room assortment to these few bins. We can switch trucks out every so often to keep things fresh!

And next ...


In the learning room: The AQUAMARINE cart holds the younger boys' curricula and various educational resources including my lesson planning notebook, teacher guides, Earlybird's clipboard (which holds his daily seatwork), a current board game and a few favorite flash card sets. I've parked this cart near the worktable where EB works with his therapist every day. (You'll hear more about this cart in my "Learning Room Tour" post coming up soon!)

Now the white cart ...

IMG_6058 copy

Ended up in the library! And it holds my 17 yo Crackerjack's academic materials - binders, textbooks, reading assignments, etc. - so they don't clutter up his (already cluttered) desktop. CJ was a little skeptical about his need for this cart (he keeps most of this in his backpack) so I may end up finding a different use for it ...

And finally ...


In the kitchen nook: The ROSE-GOLD cart sits by my command central and holds various notebooks, post-its and notecards. I also parked my week-at-a-glance calendar here but have since moved it back to the countertop. I roll this cart out of the kitchen to my computer desk in the family room from time-to-time - if company's coming or on weekends when command central closes up shop. Of course I can't help but notice this cart's shade matches the coil-binding in all of my favorite notebooks! :)


Ok my friends, I guess that's a wrap! I hope you enjoyed seeing how I'm using my new rolling carts - as I mentioned above, I'm really quite happy with the way they are made and the way they look and the way they are organizing several areas of our family home! Toys, books, notebooks, and more books! I can always use help in corralling these types of things. Little Bear's play is more creative (and the mess is easier to manage), our lesson-times (and my lesson planning) are smoother and I'm able to quickly pick up my planning paraphernalia when needs be.

And four carts are a lot, I know - but I AM thinking of getting yet one more cart (should they go on sale again) in our kitchen proper ... we're getting rid of an old trash compactor and one of these carts would fit perfectly in it's place. I think it might be a good spot for storing produce that usually ends up (all over) our counter - apples, onions, potatoes, garlic, etc. But we shall see!

Well always, thanks so much for stopping by, everyone ... take care of yourselves and your loved ones ... I'll see you here again very soon!

Summery Thoughts & Pics ... 🌞

St. johns wort 1

Happy mid-July, my friends! I hope everyone is doing well and enjoying their Summer so far ...

I know my posting has been very slow lately, but all is well here - it's just a very busy, hands-on season in my life! Days begin early - end later than I'd like - and I'm afraid naps are just not a regular thing anymore, lol. I'm finding it a challenge to carve out blogging time these days ... but I am still here! And I appreciate all your thoughts and queries, both here and at my Facebook page. I do not have my blog email working yet, so if you need me, please contact me by leaving a comment here or at FB for the time being. :)

Well, I'm popping in today to say hi and share a few photos if I may. I'm working at the kitchen table right now, sipping some cold coffee and listening to my boys all around me. Little Bear is singing a Spiderman song with Crackerjack while they work on a puzzle on the family room floor ... Earlybird is working hard on math skills with his therapist in the sunroom ... and Bookworm is weaving in and out of the kitchen, getting his own day going ...

Free time might be hard to come by these days, but I'm awfully grateful to be here in this season of life. These full and blessed days go by all too fast ...

Ok. First up - here's a sun craft I made for the Summer Solstice:

Sun plaque 2

I have always loved those colorful sun and moon plaques you see hanging on the sides of sheds or garden gates ... but goodness, they are expensive! This one is handmade (and rather humbly so) with salt dough. We left it to finish drying outside under its namesake. I haven't had the courage to paint it yet, but once I do and it is sealed against the weather, I will hang it somewhere in our garden ...

Speaking of my garden, it's doing very well, too!

Bee balm

Above is the Bee Balm which started blooming just before Independence Day. I think it looks like little firework explosions! And boy, do the hummingbirds enjoy them ...

The herbs we planted last year are quite plentiful - I've been gathering them on dry days to hang over my kitchen window.

Herb basket

In my basket above is St. John's Wort (seen in top picture, too), Thyme, Lavender and Rose petals. The rose bushes out front really did well this season - in fact they are now mostly covered in hips!

Rose hips 1

I'll be researching what to do with rose hips, but in the meantime, I used the petals I collected to make some rosewater:

Rosewater 1

Doesn't that look pretty? 

Rose water 2

Very easy to do - I placed a cup of rose petals in a glass bowl, covered them with 2 cups boiling water and then allowed them to steep (with a dinner plate resting on top) until cool. Then I strained the water into a jar as seen above. I purchased some amber glass spray bottles which I plan to fill with a couple of different herbal concoctions, one of them being a "rosewater refresher" for hot summer days. :)

And here is the "pretty pink forest" growing in my front yard ...

Astilbe 1

These lovely blooms are Astilbe, and there is tons of it growing beneath the family room windows. And out back the Spirea is a veritable pink explosion:

Spirea 1

This whole area (which stands right beside the chicken coop) is a bumblebee haven!

A little more pink to be found along the front walkway ...


These are Cottage Pinks! I love their clove-like scent - and that they remind me of my grandparents' garden AND that they were a favorite of Tasha Tudor's. So much of gardening is creating and recreating fond memories, isn't it?

 Now, here's a very "interesting" visitor we had in our yard recently ...

Fox in yard 1

Yes, that is indeed a red fox - and we've never seen one before (even at our old house) but wouldn't you know, the year we finally get chickens ... this fella shows up?

One more garden pic ...

Faerie flower

This tiny plant popped up all on its own beside my herb patch, and I wasn't sure what it was, but after consulting google - and helpful friends on Facebook - we've identified it as "Straw Foxglove!" A tiny cousin to these beauties out front ...

Foxgloves 1

I love that it's a mystery how it got there ... :)

And here's a pretty picture from my living room, taken on Independence Day morning ...

4th of july morning

The summer weather has been wonderful here in New England - bright and hot for the most part. Maybe a bit too hot this week (mid 90s by Friday) ... so as much as I love open windows, I'm very grateful for air conditioning!

Speaking of gratitude ...

Magnetic letters

It's been many years since we've had magnetic letters on our fridge! I LOVE this age, don't you?

And how about a family pic? 

Happy birthday dad

We celebrated Bill's birthday last weekend, and I just love this shot of him surrounded by all his boys (and me)! In case you can't tell, he's lighting the candles on his cake - we couldn't fit all FIFTY on there! ;)

(Any longtime readers here astounded (as I am) at how big my boys are all getting? They were tiny when I started this blog!)

Parting shot, taken at my local Michaels craft store recently ...

Fall at michaels

Mind you, this was taken BEFORE the 4th of July! I am all for planning ahead - and you all know how much I love autumn - but even for me this is just a wee bit too early!

β€œLive in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of the earth.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

(His birthday was yesterday - aka National Simplicity Day - and this is a topic for a whole 'nother post!)

Well my friends, I am going to wrap up now, because if I don't push "publish" soon there's a chance it will be another day or more before I get this post up! (Remember how I was sipping cold coffee back in that third paragraph? Yeah, it's taking me a while to get this post done!)

Plus, I have supper to make, and tonight it's sloppy-joe biscuits, corn on the cob and waffle fries - a real "boys' favorite." I've been a little lax in the meal planning department and really need to get back on track. I'm at the food store more than I'd like these days! 

(Another topic for another day!)

But as always, I thank you for stopping by and reading, and I hope this post finds you well ...

See you here again very soon!

My New Day Book! (post one)

Day designer 1

Happy Tuesday, my friends!

(I teased this pic on Facebook the other day, but wanted to share it here, too!)

So this is a new daily planner I bought at Target over the weekend because - well, first off - I'm absolutely weak when it comes to Target, especially in the planner aisle - but also, I have been feeling really out of control with my daily planning lately. I have so much "to control" each day - so much on my plate - and I use a lot of tools to keep track of it all - the cleaning, dinners, homeschooling, appointments, tasks, budgeting, writing, seasonal ideas, etc. So when I flipped through the Blue Sky Day Designer I found it quite tempting ...

I liked the colors, the font, the paper, the overall set up ... with my Target goggles firmly in place, I could envision it working for me, perfectly. Now, whether it proves to be perfect remains to be seen, but I am hoping to use this agenda (modeled after the Whitney English Day Designer) for as many areas of my planning as I can - maybe even a bit of journaling. There seems to be plenty of space to play with ...

(You know, I have been truly out of the loop when it comes to popular planners - so stuck on making my own, I guess - but apparently Erin Condren, Emily Ley, and Whitney English have really cornered the market when it comes to pretty/efficient planners! Pinterest is full of ideas on how to use them to your liking ... let me know if you're using any of these! )

Anyhoo, I am only just starting to use it - like, yesterday - but I will do a very thorough post in the near future about just how I am using it and how I am liking it and what I'm doing to make it work for me. (Going on the premise that it WILL work for me, lol.)

Note: It was $19.99 for those interested, which I don't think is a bad price at all for a daily planner, because that's a lot of pages! (It runs from July 2015 - June 2016.) And it's quite sturdy and portable, with metal coil binding and plastic covers. There were also other styles in this "Day Designer" line - very pretty florals and interesting shapes (including a horizontal weekly planner I found appealing). They're worth a look if you're in the market for a planner!


In the meantime, I am valiantly trying to finish up the school reports this week ... the year-end progress reviews and next-year ed. plans I send in every August. I'm about halfway through and hope to be mailing things off next Monday. Once I get that major challenge out of the way I will be turning my attention to PLANNING and not just with this day planner but with the whole "school" year ahead. One thing I am realizing (and I do this every year but for some reason don't take myself seriously) is how very much I NEED to be much more organized with our home learning materials and records. Because once again it is nearly August and I am scrambling to remember what-all we actually did last year ... because I know we did stuff! We did a lot, if memory serves! But why didn't I take better notes??

So on top of this day book I am also re-organzing my homeschool binder and the way I plan and review our lessons each week and how I store materials, etc. Next Summer I want to be able to breeze through these reports - with less stress and time away from my family - because I have so much information to draw upon!

So more on all that very pretty soon ... :)

I hope you are all having a good week ... it's VBS week in our parish ... and hot as you-know-what in New England. Every day brings 90Β° and high humidity and afternoon storms ... but you know what? This is Summer! The dog days of Summer are here to stay it seems ... and I'm glad for it, to be honest.

So take care of yourselves and your loved ones, my friends, and please stay tuned ... I will be back here again to chat sometime soon!

Calendar News!

Good Tuesday morning, my friends! :)

I just wanted to pop in quickly and let you all know that Susan Branch is stocking her new 2016 calendars right now! I remember several of you inquired about the pretty desk blotter I got last year as well as the nifty little pocket calendar I carry with me in my bag ... and since they sell out fast (especially the blotter) I wanted to pass on the news!

Here are the links, in case you are interested ... 

Susan Branch 2016 desk blotter calendar


Susan Branch 2016-2017 (24 month) pocket calendar


Aren't they lovely?

It's a great time of year to talk calendars as many of us follow an academic year and so, our planners follow suit. The shops are filling up with all kinds of calendars and planners these days - along with back-to-school supplies! - and I find myself tempted by all those pretty new papers ...

Buy a planner, make my own? It's the eternal question!!

Well my friends, enjoy your day and thanks so much for stopping by! Let's talk calendars again in a future post ... what are your thoughts on calendars at this time of year? :)

I will see you here again very soon ...

(p.s. MomAgendas are back in stock, too!)

Paper Goods in August

 Good Tuesday morning, my friends! I hope your new week's going well. :)

Does it seem to you that this summer is flying by? August is here and back-to-school sales are everywhere you look ... in the stores, on tv and in the mail pile (a la catalogs and magazines). Everyone is gearing up for another "new year" which, for us, begins in another few weeks. I certainly don't like to rush the summer off, but I do enjoy all the anticipation as we round the corner toward autumn ...

On that note, I thought I'd share a few things I purchased this past weekend, at a local paper shop where, happily, I had earned a store credit ...

Paper goods 1

Beautiful scrapbook paper - a new look for my housekeeping binders.

Paper goods 2

I absolutely adore this soft "twine" and could have easily purchased every color.

Paper goods 3

Some of you may remember the little wooden "star boys" I made several years back, one for each of my boys. Well, obviously I need to make one more! Only I couldn't find the same shape/size peg so I bought four new ones. A project for a rainy day (or when the baby's sleeping). :)

Paper goods 4

Some lovely "vintage look" paper in a birthday boy theme.

Paper goods 5

This fabric was actually purchased at a nearby fabric store. I'm working with my mother on a skirt for a table (desk) in the living room.

Paper goods 6

And finally, have you all discovered Washi tape yet? I'm a little in love with it! A few of these rolls shown here I already had, but I added a couple more this weekend.

Paper goods 7

Love alphabet stickers - I find so many uses for them! For instance, when sprucing up the file crate ...

Paper goods 9

This year's folders are underway ...

Paper goods 8

And a fresh daily diary. A page for each day. :)


Well my friends, we're busy here this week as we prepare for Little Bear's birthday celebration this weekend. Fingers crossed for good weather!! I predict I'll be somewhat scarce online until the festivities have passed ... and then I am sure I will be back with lots of photos to share. :)

But for now, I wish you all a good week and thank you for stopping by ...

See you here again very soon!

Calendars: Comfort & Joy

Happy Tuesday, my friends! And how goes your day?

So as most of you know, I have a real love for calendars ... I talk about them ALL the time and I always seem to have a new one to describe and debate. Thankfully, I seem to have a receptive audience for all my prattering - because from years of conversations (online and otherwise) I know I'm not alone in my calendar obsession love!


Now, I like calendars in all shapes and sizes, whether I make them or buy them. In fact, I think it's safe to say I have a bit of an addiction ... because I just lose all sense when I encounter fresh, pretty calendars. I was at Paper Source the other day - ran in for a birthday card - and spent more time than I really had to spend just poring over their lovely calendar display. I'm so drawn to calendars for aesthetic and emotional reasons; simply put, they're nice to look at, and hold so much promise. I love to feel their paper and imagine how I could "doctor" them up a bit to make them work better for me ... with added pockets, sticky notes, tabs and whatnot ...

But anyhoo!

Today I want to show you the calendar purchases I made last week, and just arrived yesterday afternoon. I'll be talking more about calendars in the upcoming weeks, but for today here's what's making me smile ear to ear ...

Sb package 2

A Susan Branch 2015 Desk Blotter Calendar!

It's been a long while since I used a blotter-style calendar ... because although I do love the idea of desk blotters, I find them somewhat impractical to use. For one thing, I'm hardly ever sitting at my desk, and for another, that big pretty page is most likely going to get spilled on, scribbled on, scratched up or otherwise defaced by children or cats in some way that will drive me absolutely bonkers until I can move on to the next month.

But this calendar I just could not resist. I have coveted it since last year when I first saw it displayed on the Susan Branch website only to discover they were *gasp* sold out. (Nothing like the words "sold out" to fan the flames of desire!) So this year when it was announced on Facebook that SB had 2015 desk blotters in stock, I leapt at the opportunity to order one. I wasn't even sure how I'd fit it into my current calendar system, but I just knew I had to have this calendar. 

Because look how pretty ...

Sb calendar 1 

... and sweet.

Sb calendar 3

 So seasonal and homey ...

Sb calendar 2

How could I resist?

And while I was at it, I ordered one of these too ...

Sb pocket calendar

I'm using this very same pocket calendar right now (the 2013-1014 version - a gift from a sweet reader friend) in my purse and I've found it extremely handy. I don't like to tote my big master calendar out and about with me, so I keep this tiny one in my bag for making appointments at the dentist/doctor/hairdresser etc. Once a week (or so) I "sync" it up with the master calendar I keep at home.

So, there you have it!


Have you ever used a desk blotter stye calendar? Is there a particular style you return to again and again?

More calendar talk to come, my friends ... for now, have yourselves a great evening and thanks so much for stopping by!

See you all again very soon ...

When you take a kid to Whole Foods ...

Whole Foods Market is Earlybird's favorite place on earth (aside from his Nana and Papa's, of course), and he asks me constantly if we can go there, when can we go there, who can come with us and whose car we'll take. We usually have the whole trip discussed, imagined and planned out days - even weeks - before we even step foot in the store. ;)

Well, it occured to me that such an avid interest presents a wonderful learning opportunty for Earlybird! Building on what appeals to him - with simple, relatable activities - makes learning easier and more fun (for us both). So I started brainstorming some ideas for a little "Whole Foods Curriculum" and thought I'd share my list here in case it's helpful to somebody else with a child who just loves to food shop!

*Quick disclaimer: I'm a homeschooling mom, not a curriculum expert or special needs pro. I don't mean to present this as anything other than a humble and hopeful collection of home-grown ideas. I'm just going by what might work for my own son and his particular interests and learning/life needs.


27 learning activities inspired by Whole Foods

β€’ Make a list of things we need to buy.

Practice spelling and penmanship, expand vocabulary. When we check our pantry and fridge/freezer before making our list we practice good food management and decision-making while taking responsibility for our family's needs (all important life skills).

β€’ Try to find items on a prepared scavenger list.

"Made from oats." "Came from the sea." "Smells good." etc. (reading practice, creative/logical thinking)

β€’ Look over store flyer and organize coupons.

Good reading practice, and discerning information (what's on sale, what's fresh?). Using coupons to save money - sorting, organizing, budgeting. Simple subtraction (item price minus coupon amount).

β€’ Use a calculator to add up a small order.

I wouldn't try this with a big shopping trip, but for a basket-ful of items - using a calculator to predict how much the cashier will ask for. Math - estimation, addition, calculator-use.

β€’ Make reusable shopping bags.

O and r at wf 4

Earlybird with his own reusable bag, a birthday gift.

  Using inexpensive cloth tote bags (from a craft store), decide on design/colors. Great creative/art experience. Discuss why reusing bags makes good sense (environmental science).

β€’ Draw a map to Whole Foods from our house.

Creative project using all kinds of skills - geography, measurement, memory, arts & crafts. Use a large sketch pad and colored pencils. Write out directions to go along with map.

β€’ Whole Foods A and Whole Foods B - which is closer?

We're lucky enough to live near(ish) not just one, but two Whole Foods stores - I know which one we prefer (size, selection, layout) but which one is closer? Observe odometer at start and finish for each trip, record travel times.

β€’ Practice clear and polite communication.

Think of potential questions and ask for help, make conversation with staff and other patrons (language skills, social skills).

β€’ Practice good cart management.

Earlybird loves to use the cart himself, but this takes a little skill sometimes! The store can be busy, aisles can be crowded (gross motor skills, social skills, patience).

O and r at wf 2

Little Bear is amazed by all the sights to see!

β€’ Learn: What does organic mean?

Look for the word "organic" on labels, store signs, flyers. Ask someone to explain what it means (call ahead of time) and/or research at home. Visit the library to research further - ask the librarian to help us look up information: How is organic healthier for us? For the earth? Make up a short "report" with Mama's help. (environmental science, research skills, clear communication, observation, composition/grammar/spelling/vocabulary)

β€’ Tour the store.

Ask for a tour with a store manager (or other store staff). Call ahead to ask. After tour, narrate experience (Mom types in) and add drawings, photos. Write thank you note afterwards. (patience, attention, social skills, penmanship/spelling/vocabulary)

β€’ Film a pretend commerical.

O and r at wf 1

Little Bear is all business when discussing yogurt.

Ask manager for permission to take video (on phone) while walking around the store. At home, make up a "script" and signs/props for commercial. Talk about what we like about Whole Foods. Record commercial to share with friends and family (language skills, reflection, creativity, oral presentation, diction).

β€’ Look for products from around the world.

Make a list of all the countries we find represented, and write down what products came from where. Use a world map to mark discovered countries. What country has the most products? Find out if there are available statistics for that information (ask manager). (geography, observation, communication/language, simple math, research skills)

β€’ Where are Whole Foods stores located across the US?

Research store chain locations - which state has the most stores? Look at US map as we research. (geography, observation, simple math)

β€’ How do receipts work?

How much money do we spend at Whole Foods? Look at receipt from recent visit, what does it show? Use cash to show the amount of money spent. (math skills, life skills, money management)

O and r at wf 3 

Earlybird and Little Bear on a recent trip to Whole Foods.

β€’ Visit a local farm that supplies food to Whole Foods.

Ask the store manager for a list of local suppliers. Visit one (or more) of the farms in the spring and ask about the farm-store connection. Calculate distance from farm to store - ask about how the food/items are transported. Take pictures and write up a "report." (social skills, communication, language, math, geography, community, environmental science)

β€’ Tour the individual store departments.

Visit the store and write down the name of each store department. Over following visits, investigate just one department at a time. What is the seafood counter all about? What can we find in the dairy? Talk to a staff member associated with that department - have some questions prepared. Make up a booklet at home describing the information and communication. Use photos, drawings and narration. (observation, list-making, language, organization, communication, social skills, creativity, memory/reflection)

β€’ Make up a Whole Foods cookbook.

As we visit the store through the year, keep note of what is in season when. Devise/collect recipes for seasonal foods (baked apples in winter, grilled corn in summer, etc.). Ask for a seasonal list of foods (if available) and use that as a guide. Keep all these recipes and information (along with pictures we take as we cook) in a binder. (observation, list making, language, creativity, communication, life skills, environmental science)

β€’ Make a well-balanced meal.

Plan out a healthy meal and write out a shopping list. Talk about how much we'll need, think about how many people will be eating the food. Make sure to include all food groups and talk about why that is important. Talk about the connection between good health and healthy food. Discuss how we feel after we eat a nutritious meal (energized? full?). (list-making, organization, language, decision making, science, healthy habits, self-awareness)

β€’ Practice time management.

Plan a very early trip to the store (like, 8 a.m.) and devise a plan for getting there on time. How early do we need to get up? What things have to happen before we can leave the house? What do we need to bring with us? Make a list and post it. On the day of the trip, time each activity that leads up to leaving the house. (life skills, time management, independence, responsibility)

O and r at wf

 EB can be a big help with his little brother. 

β€’ Rules are important.

Does Whole Foods have rules? Look at the entrance for any signs (no shirt/no shoes/etc.). Talk about why rules are important. What are some of our family/household's rules? (life skills, responsiblity, community living)

β€’ Write a poem about Whole Foods.

Brainstorm words about Whole Foods - nouns, adjectives, verbs, etc. Print out the words and cut out so that we have lots of single words on little pieces of paper. Play around with the words and make up rhymes. (language, creativity, grammar)

β€’ Conduct a taste test-survey.

Choose a sampling of foods (perhaps WF store brand vs. name brand or another store brand). Invite friends/family to try the foods (decide how best to do this - blindfolded?) and make a note of reactions. Tabulate "votes" and make up a graph to show survey results. (decision-making, organization, communication, math skills, creativity)

β€’ Host a Whole Foods party.

A nice late spring/early summer event - decide on date/time, plan out guest list, make invitations, devise menu, write out shopping list, create decorations, etc. (calendar skills, decision-making, communication, language, creativity, patience, social skills)

β€’ Have a meal at Whole Foods.

Our local Whole Foods has a cafe where patrons can buy drinks and snacks and enjoy them at a table. Plan an outing with Daddy for an early weekend morning (before it gets busy). What do we need (money)? How shoud we behave? After eating, give Daddy a tour of the store. (social skills, patience, money management, hygiene)

β€’ Plant a Whole Foods garden.

In the spring, notice the gardening items that Whole Foods offers: seeds, plants, tools. At home, plan out and create a small garden plan (pots, easy-to-grow items). Purchase seeds and small seedlings at Whole Foods. Peruse tools and other garden implements and decide if they are something we need or not. (list making, organization, environmental science, nature study, creativity, exercise/fresh air, decision making, money management)

β€’ Write a letter to Whole Foods.

Find out how to contact the "head' of Whole Foods (look online) and write a letter expressing our fondness for the store, as well as any suggestions or ideas. :) (language, creativity, research, social skills, life skills, US mail)


Well, I guess I'd better stop there, because this post is getting awfully long! Thanks for letting me share all of this ... I hope maybe someone else finds it useful! Lots of ideas, and some of them will work better than others ... we will try them out over the next several months as opportunity (and energy) presents itself! And of course, I'll let you all know how it goes ...

Thanks so much for stopping by today ... have a good one, my friends, and I will see you all here again very soon!

Amazing Grace & Girly Stuff :-)

Amazing grace 1

philosophy: life is a classroom. we are both student and teacher. each day is a test. and each day we receive a passing or failing grade in one particular subject: grace. grace is compassion, gratitude, surrender, faith, forgiveness, good manners, reverence, and the list goes on. it's something money can't buy and credentials rarely produce. being the smartest, the prettiest, the most talented, the richest, or even the poorest, can't help. being a humble person can and being a helpful person can guide you through your days with grace and gratitude.

This is what's written on the side of my brand new bottle of shower gel. I used it for the first time yesterday, and I fell in love with the product as well as the message. In fact, it really got me thinking - as I stood there, soaking in that wonderful warm water - and I wanted to share these thoughtful words here.


Now, I don't wear fragrance as a rule. For one thing, strong scents mess with Earlybird's sensitivities (behavioral and physical) and for another, my sinuses can be rather tetchy. So I don't wear perfume, but I do like lightly scented bath and shower products. Well, for my birthday last month, my mother gave me a jar of this because I had been complaining about my itchy belly ... and I absolutely LOVED it. I use just a small dab every morning and night, and not only does it moisturize my skin beautifully, but the scent is just so gentle and soft. 

So last week I ran out of my usual body wash - which, oddly enough, though I've been using it for years, started smelling "off" to me lately - and I decided to splurge a little (ok, a lot) and treat myself to a bottle of this.

As I mentioned above, I used it for the first time yesterday and I am quite happy with its very light scent - a clean, fresh and feminine fragrance. Much like the cream linked above, just a bit lighter ...

But it was that intriguing message on the front of the bottle that really caught my eye ... such a nice bit of inspiration, reminding us how to achieve true personal grace: by showing compassion and forgiveness, feeling gratitude and reverance ... displaying humility and good manners ...

And all this from a bottle of soap!

Doesn't matter where I read it though, it's lovely food for thought. Something nice to reflect on every morning as I get ready for a brand new day. :)


Dear friends, is there a particular scent that you love? Do you like to try different things or do you stick to what works? Please leave a comment below if you have the time to share your thoughts ...

And have yourself an amazing day!

An early touch of fall ...

Good morning, my friends!

So I stopped in at JoAnn Fabrics this weekend and was very happy to find a wonderful sale on fall decor ... I also happened to have several coupons to use so I splurged a little!

First, below you see a new tablecloth I got for the picnic table ...

Joann finds 1

I love how it coordinates with the chair cushions and planters, and I adore the folksy pattern! It's made from a flannel-backed vinyl, so it's great for the outdoors - and crafts, snacks and nature study etc. on the deck.

Joann finds 2

I also purchased these pretty clip-on silk sunflowers ...

Joann finds 3

They were about a dollar apiece. :)

This autumnal table runner also caught my eye ...

Joann finds 4

The print's a bit "70s" but I like it!

Joann finds 7

I also bought an olive green canvas messenger bag and a pretty embroidered floral patch to iron on it.

Joann finds 8

Won't that make a nice "homemade" fall bag?

And finally, and this has nothing to do with fall decor, but I wanted to share ...

Joann finds 6

Bill brought me flowers on Saturday, just before Crackerjack's party.

Aren't they lovely?


Well my friends, thanks so much for stopping by and letting me share a few early fall touches around my home. And thank you for all the wonderful "work at home" comments as well! I'm really enjoying reading your responses, and I hope you all are too!

Have a great Tuesday, everyone ~ see you here again very soon!


A Corner of the Corner Office

Desk corner 1

Well, it's wicked hot here today (or super-duper hot as EB would say) so we've got the ole AC going ... After supper we'll open up to enjoy the evening air for a bit, muggy though it will undoubtedly be. Then, come bedtime, the AC will go back on so that sleep is easy to come by ... Triple H weather continues over the weekend, and into next week, so this will be our routine for some time. I do hope wherever you are you're able to stay cool, too!

Now, Friday is the day I clean up the learning room, so that's what I've been up to since lunchtime ... and as I puttered and pruned, I realized I never followed up on the file bin I showed you some weeks ago. You might remember I got a new desk back in January (as a birthday gift) with a drawer made just for my year's worth of file folders. (Well, not my file folders - I didn't consult the designer or anything, lol - but file folders in general.) I do like keeping the FCS in this drawer because it's so efficient and neat - and yet - I do miss having those folders at my fingertips. I do keep my "active" folder in my planner, but I often find myself filing things for the upcoming weeks, and not that it's a hardship to stoop down and open the drawer, but it somehow seems a little bit out of the way ...

I had actually been thinking about moving the files back up onto the desk (digging out that old plastic bin) but I was tousling over form vs. function - handy files vs. cluttered desktop. This issue had been pinging around in the back of my mind for some time.


When I was at Target that day, perusing their fabulous office supply aisle, I spied this sturdy cloth bin. (Honestly, what did we do before Target? Spent less money, that's what.) The bin has a frame inside, specifically meant for hanging folders and the whole thing's covered in a smooth chocolate brown canvas. I simply loved the look of it and the trim size, but what really got me were the handles!

Desk corner 3

It doesn't take up too much space on my desktop, and it holds several hanging folders quite nicely. I am using this bin to hold the current season's folders - only two months worth, or about eight or nine weeks. There is a colored folder in front that pertains to the season on the whole (not one specific week). So right now we're in "High Summer," which includes the weeks within July and August.

Just to give you an idea, the "High Summer" folder has a summer nature almanac from Mass. Audubon, a July-August night sky guide from Sky & Telescope Magazine, our local farmstand calendar, as well as seasonal crafts and recipes that I would like to do sometime this summer. (For example, I just added this cool idea.)

Behind the folders I have room for my 2012-2013 homeschool planner (currently under construction).

Desk corner 2

So the bin is usually found up on top of the desk, but sometimes it sits on the floor by my chair. Those handles make it pretty easy to tote along with you if you have the need to do so. (I recently grabbed it when I was heading out with the kids to the library.)

And it's been nice having those current folders so handy. Instead of setting things aside in a pile to file later ... I've been filing things right away - pretty much, anyways. Recently I added recipes for Monday's feast day (7/16), a doctor's appt. reminder (7/23), a recipe for Crackerjack's birthday (8/13), and information on viewing the Perseids next month (8/11).


In front of the bin is my reading basket (magazines only) which earlier today I emptied, vacuumed and reorganized. I usually keep this basket on the floor beside my reading chair ... and speaking of, I'm going to hop off the computer now - get supper started - and then sit for a bit to read. It is nearly the weekend after all. ;)

So I'll leave you at that, with my thanks for stopping by and my hope that you all have a nice weekend. Take care of yourselves and your loved ones ...

I'll be back here again sometime soon!

A Little Slice of Whole Foods Heaven

Whole foods

Speaking of hot spots, the boys had an art workshop today, and while they were at class, I spent a whole hour and a half ... ON MY OWN ... at Whole Foods. Oh my goodness ... such bliss! And if you regularly shop with children in tow, you know what I mean by that.

So I spent extra time in the "smelly" aisle (as my boys call it) ... and smeared myself with some thick, herb-y lotion. (Then promptly found the ladies' room and washed it off before the smell drove me crazy, lol!)

I examined the bulk foods aisle ... even reading the literature provided! Who knew they had so many neat things in those bins ... my "pantry wheels" started turning.

I perused the gluten-free products and picked up a few things for Earlybird to try.

I talked with the man behind the seafood counter. Like, had a conversation. 

I looked at all the register aisle ends - so many neat things there I always miss! Like seasonal displays and neat lip balms and organic candies ... and oh, the magazines! (Tempting, so tempting!)

Before I left, I bought myself a "peaches and cream" scone ...

... and I took time to smell the flowers.


Many thanks to my mum who has been watching the boys for me during the week so I can get out and do my shopping on my own before the weekend rush. It has made such a difference in my shopping overall, but it's an especially nice treat for me to have that little bit of time to myself.

I'm thinking of doing another "shop talk" post, but this time instead of sharing beauty products and routines, I'll do a food shopping rundown. I think that might be fun, don't you?

Have a GREAT Monday night, everyone ... see you here again very soon!