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


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

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


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

So I have to tell you, our Tea today is extra special because January 12th just so happens to be ... National Hot Tea Day! Yes, it's a real holiday ... or at least it has been since 2016. #whoknew 🤷🏻‍♀️ 

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


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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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


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


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




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

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

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

But how about January's full moon?


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

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


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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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


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

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

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

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

More comforts and joys ...


These guys - 'nuff said.


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

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


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

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

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

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

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


A final thought before I go -

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

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

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

Tea @ Dawn's ~ Cheers to a New Year + 3 Giveaway Winners!


Hello my friends and Happy New Year! I hope your 2020 is off to a great start!

I'm here today to share a cup of New Year's tea with you all, and to announce the three winners of my latest planner giveaway!

So I'll just start by putting us all out of our suspense, shall I? :-)

The three readers whose names were drawn randomly for my giveaway are:


1. Mary Alice Phillips

2. Michelle M.

3. Van


Hooray! And congratulations, ladies! I will be in touch later this weekend to ask about cover choices and mailing details. :-)

Thanks to all who participated in my giveaway and for all the kind, cozy comments. You all shared so many wonderful and inspiring ideas for enjoying the winter season. I have made note of each idea and look forward to contemplating them all in my upcoming Deep Winter Tea series ...

Speaking of ...

Here's what I'm planning for our next series of seasonal Teas!

I'll be sharing a cup of wintry Tea here at the blog every other Sunday afternoon. No more Fridays I'm afraid, friends. I decided Fridays were just too "full," usually coming on the heels of a rather busy week, and it seemed I usually needed an extra day or two to finish my post! So Sundays it will be ...

Here is my proposed series schedule:







I'm still considering the themes for each Tea, so stay tuned on that! I'll most likely announce them on Instagram & Facebook early next week.

So I do hope you'll join me on these upcoming Sunday afternoons! I'll have the kettle on of course, and there will be something yummy to go along with our sweet, steaming brew. I will discuss a little of this and that ... wintry delights, homey thoughts, current crafts and children's books - plus of course, there will be planner peeks!

Speaking of ...

Here is how my own 2020 planner came out:


I was really taken with this golden "brocade" paper and decided it would make a very pretty planner cover! I love vintage florals as you all know, so this sprawling damask rose pattern really resonated with me, especially in light of my chosen "Word of the Year" which is ...

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This year I decided to use a word generator (thank you, DaySpring!) and I was very happy with my result. First of all, I liked that the site had me answer a series of questions before generating my word because it makes the results seem more authentic. Although at first glance I thought, "Huh, bloom? Well, haven't I already done that ... since here I am a soon-to-be 51 yr old married and happy mom of four?"

But then I looked up the meaning of the word, and considered how I might apply it to my new year ...

🌸 to mature into achievement of one's potential

🌸 to flourish in youthful beauty, freshness, or excellence

🌸 to shine out : GLOW 

🌸 to become more apparent or fully expressed

Now, I'm not so sure what I can do about the "youthful beauty" part lol, but I do try to take good care of my skin! And in fact, I plan to chat about "skin care regimes" in an upcoming post. :-)

As for the rest of it ... well, I really like the sound of all those words and phrases. They're all so lovely and encouraging and I think it all just might fit with my 2020 hopes and goals ...

Because I have some big plans this year and I'm going to need to be brave - I'll need to push myself a little and I'm not really a pusher! - but the time has come for me to try to bloom and, dare I say, flourish - a little. See, I was thinking ...

A flower only blooms when it's been nurtured and shown patience. It needs quiet time in the darkness, and it needs a little room to sink its roots. It enjoys the cozy and quiet ... and it's all very safe and comfortable. But eventually that tender seedling has to be brave enough to grow - to push through its earthly barrier - and seek LIGHT and therefore, Life.  

A flower in bloom is truly living its best life then, the life it was preparing itself for all along!

So I just really, really love that metaphor - cliche though it may be. And this year, I'm going to try very hard to live like that little plant ... to acknowledge my anxieties, but be brave, by drawing strength from my (well established) roots. I hope to break out of my comfort zone this year and stretch myself a little ...

But most of all, I hope to become more ... ME. The "me" I've kept planted in my heart since I was little ... the me I've perhaps left untended a little too long.

What I've done so far is to draw up a page in my bullet journal - not ready for sharing yet, but I will - with the word BLOOM in a center circle and then sections (or petals, if you will) of "passion and purpose" spread out all around it. On that little page I hope to iron out more concrete 2020 goals and incremental steps to take - and around that center circle I've written the words:

"Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished." Lao Tzu

And on the practical side of things - I do hope to actually grow a flower garden this year! I say this every year - THIS year I will grow FLOWERS! - and every year I find other things to do but grow flowers. (Or let's say, they find me.)

So this year gosh darn it - I WILL grow that flower garden. And maybe I'll learn another life lesson or two as I do.

Now, have you chosen a word for 2020 yet? I'd love to hear about it if you'd care to share!

Back to my planner now though ...


Here's a peek at my January title page ... set amongst some colorful, home learning paraphernalia. (Yes, we're back to business next week!)

I'm really quite happy with how my planner came out this year, and I will have a full tour for you all in an upcoming post.

In the meantime, here are a couple of New Year traditions I enjoy keeping each year, and first thing I do ...


I always make note of the first bird I see each year, and this becomes my personal "Bird of the Year." This year it was the bird shown above, huddling in the azalea bush outside my front window, awaiting his turn at the feeder ...

The White-Throated Sparrow!

And once again, my first reaction was less than impressed ...

"OH, a sparrow. How ... common."

But then I looked up the symbolism of the sparrow and boy, did that make me smile! Because according to folklore, Sparrow’s message is this ...

“We do not have to be the loudest voice in order to be heard.”

(I like that - a lot!)

Also according to folklore (legend/myth what have you),  the Sparrow symbolizes:


And that’s just a nice long list of worthy goals to weave into my 2020!
What was the first bird you spied this year? It's not to late if you haven't seen one (or noticed one) yet. Take a peek out your window right now! (And then come back here to let me know what you saw!)

Another favorite (personal) tradition, is beginning a new journal on New Year's Day, and I almost always include this pretty clipart on the very first page ...


I've been using my little bullet journals as the place for notes, lists and random clippings. Do you keep a journal as well And if so, where do you keep it?

Now, our New Year's Eve is usually quite calm - i.e. we stay home and go to bed early - but we do love a little celebrating on New Year's Day, itself! Over the years it has become a family tradition to have my folks and my brother over for a family luncheon, and this year our menu was as follows:

New Year's Day Citrus Punch

English Roast with Carrots, Potatoes and Thyme

Brown Rolls and Biscuits

Garlic Couscous

Roasted Butternut Squash

Eggnog Cake


I've linked the roast and cake recipes above but the punch is just something I made up. I used a large bottle of Cranberry-Blood Orange Juice Cocktail, plus some plain orange juice and a liter of Sprite. I added some sliced Cara Cara oranges for a festive touch!

A social media tradition I've come to treasure each year is the popular "Best Nine" or "Top Nine" grids. Here is how mine came out ...


As I said in my original Instagram post (thank you, TopNine!) I think this grid nicely sums up my social media self - because I'm all about my kids, my planners, and our special needs journey!

Clockwise from top left: Earlybird's first successful Target shopping trip, EB practicing phone skills with Nana and Papa, my filled-to-the-brim planner carts, a still from the video of EB's end-of-year awards ceremony, EB's first day EVER at school, EB and me on our way to (or more likely from) school, my planning-the-planners post-it note outline,  EB's well earned smile and in the center, yours truly surrounded by my dear children on my 50th birthday last year!

Now before I go I should make sure to mention the TEA in my very first picture! (This is a Tea post after all, lol.)

What I'm drinking today (or yesterday actually, when I first sat down to type up this post) is a plain old black decaf - what I had near at hand, in other words! I have a bit of a sinus thing going on right now - no fever, so not quite an infection knock on wood but a lot of pressure and a little bit of pain - and in addition to frequent steam showers and Sudafed, and the neti pot and twice-daily Emergen-C, I'm drinking a LOT of fluids and mostly a lot of hot tea.

(Would love your prayers/healing thoughts that this goes away soon ... some of you might remember I'm allergic to nearly all antibiotics! My fingers are tightly crossed I can fend this off with natural remedies.)

My tea snack shown on my plate is part of one of my near year's resolutions - or goals as I prefer to call them - a handful of blueberries and an orange. Trying to be better this year about my nutrition! Better fuel = better energy!

Also shown in that top photo, the corner of my homemade planner and - another New Year's tradition - this year's Mary Engelbreit Page-a-Day calendar! I honestly can't remember how long I've been using them, but I simply cannot do without this sweet little daily calendar. It's something I truly look forward to each and every day .... :-)


Something else I'm very much looking forward to ...



I'm going to see this on Sunday! And I can't hardly wait. I'm not sure anything can replace the 1994 version of this story in my heart - because that one is lovingly entwined with a memory of my dear maternal grandmother, with whom I first watched "our" Little Women brought to life. But the trailers I've seen for this most recent depiction look oh-so-amazing and the reviews have been out of this world!

Have you seen it yet? What have you seen most recently? Are there other things you're looking forward to on the big (or little) screen this year?

I am quite looking forward to an upcoming Masterpiece series, Sanditon, based on an unfinished final novel by Jane Austen and interpreted by screenwriter Andrew Davies (Pride and Prejudice, Little Dorrit, Les Miserables). It looks to be an 8-episode series, and begins on PBS on January 12th - so Happy Birthday to me! Another MP multi-episode series to start later this year, Miss Scarlet and the Duke, also looks amazing! See the trailer for the former here and the latter here.

I'm eager, too, for Dr. Dolittle later this month, starring one of my longtime favorites, Robert Downey Jr. (How I WISH he would make one more Sherlock Holmes movie!) And coming to Netflix at some point this year is a series I am SO excited for - The Bridgertons. It's a little known fact (at least outside certain circles) that I am a HUGE historical romance fan, and one of my favorite authors is Ms. Julia Quinn. Her eight-novel series about a fun and fabulous family living in regency England - The Bridgertons - is just wonderful and I am beyond thrilled to see it on screen!

Well my friends, I have kept you here far long enough, but I thank you, as always, for stopping by to read and "take tea." I hope you all have a lovely weekend ... and Congratulations again to Mary Alice, Michelle M and Van!

As I go, I will leave you with one of my favorite Alcott quotes:


I will see you here again very soon!

Holiday Tea at Dawn's: O Christmas Tree!


Hello my friends, and Happy Monday! Welcome to our third week of Holiday Tea - and today I'd like to talk about Christmas trees! First though, a quick word about my beverage-of-choice this week ...

As you can see, my mug is pretty big - and also, very pretty! I bought this last year at HomeGoods (for all of $5!) and loved it immediately for its generous size as well as the lovely seasonal images. It has a big sturdy handle, too!

Inside my mug today is a wonderful hot tea I "discovered" this year, made by Twinings:



Twinings tea

This delicious Christmas Tea has a smooth and lightly spiced flavor - and for me, "lightly" is a very good thing, when it comes to spices - because I get heartburn very easily! And sometimes, as much as I like the idea of a spiced tea, the flavor can be too reminiscent of cinnamon gum. Like I've steeped my tea with a stick of gum, lol! Weird, I know ... but once I had that impression from a previous tea, it just stuck with me! So clearly I'm a bit persnickety when it comes to flavored teas, but happily this one is smooth and subtle. :)

Now, I'm afraid I don't have any goodies to share today - the past few day have been busy and I just didn't have time - though honestly, if you were coming to visit, I'd be sure to have a few tempting things to offer! In case you were wondering, here's what's on my baking to-do list this week ...


Do you have any special baking planned this week?

Well, how we talk about Christmas trees now? Here is ours ...

Our christmas tree 2018

This is the first year we've had a tree in our family room and I must say I love it here! This is an 8-foot Frasier Fir and I think it fits the room nicely. Would you care for a quick tour?

We use all white lights, two different garlands - one made of red wooden beads and another made from a golden ribbon festooned with festive red squirrels - and a red punched tin star as a topper. Many of our ornaments are "woodland inspired" and lots of them were made by my kids through the years.


The glittery pinecone was made by one of the boys - the softly shaded maple leaf was hand-painted by my mum. She gave us a collection of them last year, and I just love them! They remind me of my favorite season (fall), my favorite state (Vermont), my favorite colors (soft orange and gold) AND of course, my love for nature.


I'd wager many of us have popsicle stick crafts on our Christmas trees!


Another leaf and a cute little pinecone-y hedgehog.


The star was made for me by a sweet girl in our homeschool co-op years ago, while the moon was something I made myself. There's a little verse on the back, and a matching (or contrasting, I should say) ornament just around the corner ...


I don't do handcrafts nearly as often as I'd like to, but I'm thinking of making that a goal for the New Year - to indulge more of my favorite hobbies.

We have LOTS Of cardinals all over our tree, one of our favorite winter songbirds.


Birds in general enjoy a strong presence on our tree!


This is one of the few "fragile" ornaments we have on the tree - made of porcelain, it's a bit "clinky" (as Little Bear calls it). 


This is a very special ornament - a gift from Crackerjack's girlfriend, Jen, to our Little Bear who just this year discovered the excitement of "Minecraft."

Last year it was this guy ...


Little Bear's never even seen Star Wars, but somehow - youngest of four boys that he is - he just "gets" it! "That's BB8 Mama! He's a good guy robot!"

We have name ornaments here and there and as uncommon as my name is, my mother-in-law found this one for me last year:


And one last ornament which I just treasure, a gift from my boys:


I'm sure many of you mamas can relate! (p.s. That's a hand-painted sand dollar in the back ground. Well, painted with glue and then sprinkled with glitter! I made that one several years ago when we were celebrating National Poinsettia Day.)

And here's the cozy corner where I'm enjoying my tea today ...


We have no snow to speak of here in New England, but the skies seem to hold promise - thick gray clouds, a chill in the air. That said however, the forecast is not looking promising for a white Christmas! (It always pains me when we miss snow at Christmas ... and then spend the next three winter months absolutely inundated!) But boy do the days get so dark now, and so early!

And yet - we must take heart, my light-loving friends - the sun makes its triumphant return this Friday! In teeny-tiny increments perhaps, but each day going forward we'll have  just a little more light than dark each day. So, Happy Winter Solstice, everyone!🌞

Right now I'm all curled up on the family room couch, admiring the tree lights, enjoying a moment of quiet (while the boys are all occupied elsewhere in the house) and on my tv screen ...


Show of hands now - who loves The Great British Baking Show??

Our local PBS station ran a marathon this weekend of TGBBS's Holiday Masterclass series. This is not the same as the ABC special airing each Thursday night this month - this is not a contest, but rather a cheerful and cozy hour's worth of holiday home baking with show hosts, Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood. It is so much fun to watch Mary and Paul recreate their own family favorites! If you're looking to get in the "holiday baking mood," look no further than this program ... I especially recommended it for Anglophiles like me. :)

You know what else I'm doing right now as I enjoy my tea? I am looking through old December journals, remembering past Christmases and holiday ideas I've gathered over the years. Journal-keeping is another hobby I'd like to make time for in the new year ... it's something I've done since I was a young girl, but have seemed to let drop recently. 

Here's a peek at a few page spreads ...






As you can see, I fill my journals with clippings from magazines and random notes about our home, our family, craft ideas, recipes and just about anything that comes to mind! It's such a pleasure to look back over these journals - the plainest little spiral-bound notebooks but they serve their purpose! - and reconnect with my self and my thoughts on various things. I especially love seeing things like this ...


This journal was from December, 2012 - the year I was pregnant with Little Bear. I remember that ultrasound on New Year's Eve, vividly. A particular blood test had come back elevated and we were having a level two ultrasound to check on our little guy's development. They were going to do it after the holidays but we insisted on being seen as early as possible. We had to drive into the city mid-afternoon on New Year's Eve ... and oh, the nerves! Thankfully, everything was just fine with our wee one and we found out that night that our fourth born would be a fourth BOY! We gave him his name that night and celebrated the new year feeling immense gratitude for our blessings, most especially the health and well-being of all our children.

(And all that came rushing back from those brief cryptic notes!)

Well, my friends - that is all I have for today but as always, I thank you for joining me and wish you all the very best! I hope this next week is one of peace and joy for you and your loved ones ... I will see you again NEXT Monday, December 24th, for a cup of Christmas Eve cheer!

Holiday Tea at Dawn's ~ Cozy Winter Nests (Pt. 1)

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Hello my friends, and Happy Monday! I hope you all had a nice weekend and that your December is off to a great start! ❤️

Well, I just had so much to share with you today, I decided to split this post in two! More on that in a bit, but first of all, WELCOME! Thank you so much for joining me for another weekly tea. Today we'll chat about crafting a little "cozy" for ourselves before winter sets in. We'll also talk about my favorite tea, my homemade planner and few of our Advent plans for the week!

But let's begin by talking about tea - which for me, is pretty much synonymous with "cozy" - so let me ask you this if I may:

If you could conjure up the perfect, most comforting and appealing "tea" you could imagine (with or without goodies), what would that tea look (and taste) like?

Well for me it would be a big mug of a preferred and special hot beverage, accompanied by just a little something sweet and homemade, such as a plain cookie or biscuit. I usually just drink black decaf (tea) through the day, but lately I've been indulging in an extra special evening tea that - though it requires a little more prep - is entirely worth the extra effort!

So, have you ever heard of a London Fog Latte?

< Now, here is where I would have posted a picture of this very special and preferred tea beverage of mine, only - real life got in the darn way! So today's afternoon tea became a less "special" affair, though certainly no less satisfying. Earlybird had a physical this afternoon at 1:30 and, as many of you know, our autistic son has some BIG anxiety when it comes to doctor's appointments. Happily, the appointment itself went really well ... but unfortunately, Bill got called into work, so he had to miss the doctor's visit (we usually go together to the kids checkups) AND so, he was not on hand this afternoon to make me my very special beverage!! (He's quite involved in the prep work, and it's just not the same without him!) Anyhoo, the appointment (though great) went long, we had some food shopping to do (natch), and we just got home now (at 4:13 p.m.), so I've made myself a very "regular" cup of tea - my old standby - and this is what I'm having right now as I type ...

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It's so dark at this time of day!! I know that bothers a lot of people, but I don't mind so much. The sun was going down as we finished up our errands, and it just felt SO GOOD to get home ...


... I might have had to slow down and take a dashboard pic of this sunset! For me, whatever the season, watching the sun set is always a cozy moment - but perhaps all the more so in late autumn.>

Ok, let's get back to our tea discussion now! In my NEXT post I will show you what my favorite drink looks like, but for now you will have to just take my word for it: it's a very pretty drink!

I stumbled across a London Fog Latte - on Pinterest maybe? - but the first time I ever had one was at Starbucks. They don't list the drink on their menu, but I heard it through the grapevine you could ask for such a thing, and so that's just what I did! Admittedly, I might have felt a little silly asking for something off-menu (much as I did the time I requested a "Franken Frappuccino" or some such nonsense one Halloween) but the barista barely blinked at my request and got right to work. It was a very good and memorable drink - but I like the ones we make at home even better!

Here is how I make this comforting and delicious hot beverage:

I first prep a cup of Earl Grey tea just as I usually do. I use Bigelow's decaf version with one sugar and a good splash of milk. As my tea steeps, Bill starts steaming some whole organic milk. He uses a Breville Milk Frother to steam and froth the milk (a gadget we've had for years but I've never used myself). You could just heat some milk in a saucepan but then you wouldn't get those lofty peaks of dairy delight!

Once the tea is prepared, I add a splash of vanilla, and then I top it off with the delicious and creamy frothed milk Bill has prepared ... and it is just so, so good! It would perhaps be really nice to make some lavender sugar to dust on top sometime ... but I am a little hesitant to mess with perfection!

Now, I don't drink this every night but maybe once or twice a week. I started drinking it a few months ago, when I found myself needing more of a "ritual" for unwinding in the evening. It's soothing and just a little sweet, and it just presses a button in me somewhere that says, "slow down and settle yourself." :)

Also, fyi, I recently found a loose tea blend from Harney & Sons called "Victorian London Fog."

London fog

I have yet to try it but will let you know once I do!

Now, let's talk about the cookie portion of my "tea" and for me, I can think of no "cozier" cookie than shortbread. I made these little "bites" on Friday, in honor of  St. Andrew's Day. They are incredibly easy to make and keep really well!


Shortbread cookies have long been my favorite - to me they are an absolutely perfect treat: small, simple and suffused with a soft buttery flavor. I use a recipe I found online and it is just so super easy! Just three ingredients: butter, flour and sugar. What's not to love??

I usually cut the baked dough into simple rectangles (with the iconic fork marks) but I decided to try star shapes in light of the first week of Advent. (As many of you know, we follow a nature-based Advent tradition, and this week our theme is "seeing the light of earth & sky." For more on our family traditions, please see my Advent Crafts and Plans archive and in particular, for this week, this post.)

Now at this time of year, it's all too easy to spend time inside, where it's warm and bright and ... yes, cozy! But there is something to be said for getting outside when we can ... and creating a little light of our own to hold fast against the gathering darkness. So the other night we took advantage of dry conditions and had ourselves a little "Welcome December" bonfire ...





(Pop on over to this post to see a quick bonfire video!)

You all know I love to talk weather, so I must ask: how's the weather where you are? Is it chilly and gray, inspiring you to seek your comforts indoors? Or is it mild and bright, luring you outside? It's been up and down here in New England. As I began the draft of this post, it was a very dark and rainy Sunday ... but as I finish up at Monday teatime suppertime, the day has been sunny and unseasonably mild!

Speaking of weather, one thing that can be tricky when planning out an Advent Countdown is, in fact, the weather. Sometimes I have a particular activity in mind, but if the weather turns foul a change in plans becomes necessary. So one of the things I like to do when I sit down to plan out our week - any week of the year - is to consult the Weather Channel app on my phone. 


Not that the weather can't change, but usually the weekly forecast gives me a pretty good idea how easy it will be to get the kids outside! (Happily the week looks great for finding nests, gathering branches, and taking an evening "lights" walk!)

On that note, since we're now talking about plans, here is a better look at this week's spread in my homemade seasonal planner ...


This week's seasonal theme: "Cozy Nests." Our first week of Advent theme: "sticks, stones, stars."


The left-hand page is an overview of the week ...


While the right-hand side is set up for the week's agenda (schedule) and homeschooling notes ...


It was important to me to include a section in my planner for seasonal crafts & comforts ... 


(We don't do it all, but I do keep the plans from year to year!)

This corner shows where I write out all the "events of note" for the week, as well as our dinner menus plans.


And finally, here is where I write in my little weather notes!


All these pages shown here are in my spiral-bound planner, but I have been experimenting with keeping these pages in a three-ring binder instead. Each planning platform has its merits - I just need to figure out which works better for me!

Now before I go (for now) ... I feel I need to tell you about some really wonderful holiday programming on this Thursday night!

First, at 8 p.m. ...


A Charlie Brown Christmas ... :)

It's family tradition to all sit together and watch this show WHEN it is airing on national TV. Sure we could watch it anytime on DVD, but that's just not the same.


And then, immediately following ...


The Great American Baking Show: Holiday Edition!

I'm very much looking forward to watching both of these shows. The Baking Show is on after my bedtime, so thank goodness for that DVR!

Well my friends, I'll be off for now since I've kept you here for so long. We have more "cozy" concepts to discuss, so I hope you'll join me later this week in a follow up post. I will share thoughts on enhancing the comforts of home, as well as some pictures of my own "winter nesting spot." And if anyone would like to share their own nest, please feel free to email me your pics (with a brief description) and I will include them in my post!

drhanigan AT gmail DOT com

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

Autumn Tea & Mitten Strings: Chapter 6, "TV"

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Hello my friends, and Happy Sunday! Welcome to another Autumn Tea, and the next installment in our Mitten Strings for God book study! This week we are discussing chapter six, "TV" - a challenging topic for some of us, I think! 

First though, let's talk about my tea (seen above), which reflects last week's seasonal theme, "Our Own Cozy Dens." I'm taking tea in the library this time where, I should note, there is no TV! ;)

This is the quiet room or "gathering room," where we serve cocktails and desserts/coffee when celebrating holidays with family. It's also the room in which our Christmas tree abides throughout the darkest month of the year, filling it with the softest and coziest light ...

So at Summer's end I tend to migrate back in here, to set things up as I'd like for the months to come. This room also sits on the west side of our house, and the sun sets just behind the woods seen through the windows. I LOVE being in here as the days grow short and dark, catching the very last bit of that golden autumn light. 

Now, to continue with the cozy for a moment - with each seasonal homeschooling theme, I like to give myself a little "assignment," something I can do to experience the theme on a personal level, and/or something that will allow my family to observe it as well. This week the boys and I chose a few spots around the house to make up "our own cozy dens" for the winter ...

And here's where I am making (one of) mine!

Cozy corner in library

(It's a work in progress, so I'll post more on my nest later. I'll also be arranging play areas for LB here, too - and that will fit in with next week's chapter!)

It occurred to me though, as we "feathered," that if a family was trying to cut down on TV time, then perhaps intentionally setting up a few "comfort zones" would be helpful! To start with, choose a place where screens are not present (or readily available) - but other kinds of diversions are. And if the kids are involved in this endeavor from the get-go, then these spots will truly reflect and support their own passions and pursuits. Help them think about what kinds of things they might like to work on/play with this winter - puzzles, board games, Legos, reading, imaginative toys, crafting, etc. Organize the materials they'd need, add an extra blanket or two, and designate a space just for them. If we're looking to pry kids away from their screens we're going to need some enticing alternatives at the ready!

Anyway back to the tea for a moment - my brew this time is a lovely Earl Grey and I'm drinking it in a mug that is just perfect for the week, a gift from my dear friend, Kim. The cookies are gingerbread - of the store-bought, break-apart variety I'm afraid, but very good! (Honestly, is there anything cozier than gingerbread?) That cute platter is made of melamine (so in theory, unbreakable) and I picked that up at Target last week. I'm working on surrounding this spot with nice things to read, my journal supplies, simple playthings and good books for Little Bear ... all kinds of things that will entice us to sit down and settle in for a spell. 

Ok, now let's get on with the TV portion of my post! (And for the record, when I say "TV" here, I'm really talking about any kind of screen-time viewing since the options for such have widened greatly since 2008!)

To begin with, here is the original post I wrote on this chapter back in 2008, and since it still represents my feelings on the topic rather well, I won't try to reinvent the wheel today and say all of the same things differently. In a nutshell, I'm still in agreement with Ms. Kenison's stance that:

"When it comes to TV, less really is more." (p. 51)

Instead, I'll address how our family viewing habits have changed since the days when all my kids (the three I had at the time) were little ...

So first of all, the older boys are now 18 and 22 - so I don't really control their TV habits anymore! I asked them though, at dinner last night, how much tv they thought they watched and they both said, very little. (They do play video games and do other online things.) And when they do watch tv, it's usually something they view on their computers, as opposed to a program they watch on commercial tv at a set time of week.

Side note:

Isn't it crazy how pervasive screen time is these day? Computers, phones, tablets, TVs ... WATCHES! It seems there's a way to be connected - or disconnected depending on how you look at it - and watching something, almost anytime, anywhere. It's a wonder network tv is still in existence!

From p. 45:

".. how easily we have come to accept the pervasiveness of the media in our lives."

You know, I'm pretty sure Ms. Kenison would have to rewrite this chapter entirely if she were to tackle the topic of TV nearly 10 years later! Because the media has so many more faces these days! There are devices and distractions available for kids of all ages - and we're not even talking about social media here. She'd need a whole separate chapter for that!

Now, as for the younger boys ...

Little Bear is just four years old and truth be told, he does watch more tv than we'd like. This is mostly because of his older brother's viewing habits, and that's something we're working on (more on that in a minute). I think like most kids, if it's on and he's idle, he'll get sucked right in. Happily he's not usually idle - he has a rich imagination and gets completely absorbed in his play. But he does ask for tv on occasion - usually in the late afternoons if he's tired and wants to crash on the couch. I allow it sometimes ... but other times I redirect him. I'm not too concerned about any interest in TV as I am by his ongoing spectator status. Because Earlybird, our 15 year old son who has autism ... is, well ... addicted.


(Can you guess what they're doing in this photo? Watching something on EB's Kindle Fire, that's what. But just look at those smiles!)

Our EB, (16 next month), watches a lot of video content in various forms. Many kids (people) on the autistic spectrum have a strong affinity for video-viewing, whatever the platform. For EB it's partly a feeding of sensory needs and also, frankly, he doesn't have many other hobbies. Video gives him something to do, a way to entertain himself in a way he's not able to do on his own, while allowing him to connect with the world at a safe distance. (He can change the channel at a whim, he's in control.)

On the up side, he's learned a LOT of interesting information through video. He absorbs things so deeply - which as you can guess is not always a good thing - but he loves science shows, railroad history, nature documentaries ... and he loves playing movies of all kinds. We have to monitor his viewing habits closely though, because sometimes he gets over-stimulated - by the content he's chosen, or just the amount of time spent absorbing video input. Even the over-abundance of options can fry his nerves (not to mention his mother's) at times. Too many choices is not always a good thing, for anyone - but especially not for our autistic son.

I can't predict if this craving for video will always be a part of EB's life, but currently we are working with EB's therapists to teach him to enjoy other kinds of leisure activities. For years now we've just allowed this addiction to build because honestly, there were other battles to face, and this one seemed fairly benign. But over the past several months we've started making some changes. We'd been seeing a connection between EB's neurological tics and his screen-time exposure. The more he watched, the more agitated he'd get and the more likely he'd be to experience such tics as blinking, clicking, grunting and stuttering. So a couple of months ago we turned off the family room tv. Just plain old turned it off, telling him (fingers crossed) that the clicker had gone missing ... and that was that. He still uses his Kindle, and he does have a dvd player in his bedroom, but the family TV is no longer part of his screen-time repertoire.

He's adapted fairly well to the change, which was a blessing. (Also a blessing, Little Bear has no background TV through the day!) Our next step is to start working some time limits into his Kindle viewing, while encouraging other pursuits. He's resistant to the limits for sure, but as with every challenge we've faced ... we take it in tiny steps, and we only ever ask for progress, not perfection. He'll get there, to healthier video habits, in his own due time. What he needs to get there he is getting - help from patient therapists, and understanding from a family who loves him. 

To sum up - because as usual I've gone on quite long! - I think TV doesn't have to be a bad thing if it's a proportionate and thoughtful part of a well-rounded home life. Balance in all things, right? Time to sit and enjoy a special program, and then time spent doing other things - enjoying the outdoors, friends and family, honest work, and simple activities that don't flash at our retinas.

I found this comic online the other day: 


(Earlybird, seeing this over my shoulder just now, exclaimed, "Hey, that's a perfect day!")

For most of us, I think, TV is a comforting habit, feeding a need within us ... but as with any habit, it get can get out of control. And some of us are more vulnerable than others. So it needs to be monitored and even reevaluated at times. To reference myself in my original post:

"I don't think we would ever go NO TV, but I do think we can stand to survey our viewing habits now and again. I have always said to the boys re their video game playing and television viewing that as long as we detect no difference in the amount of time they read or in the way they play and imagine, they may continue to watch and play (in the electronic sense) as they do. To this I've also added, as long as they can still "be" (happily), outside - as long as they can connect easily with nature - then I'll know our viewing habits are still under control."

In the end I'd say that I agree with much of what Ms. Kenison has to say in this chapter, but perhaps not all of it is applicable in my life, at this time. That said, going forward I would like to see ...

    Little Bear have AS LITTLE screen time exposure as possible, because it really does nothing for him at this tender age.

    Earlybird have LESS screen-time exposure, as discussed above.

    Bill and I to be aware of HOW OFTEN we turn on the TV ourselves.

And as for my older two, well ... it's up to them now, isn't it? :)

Well, my friends, I'll be on my way now, since I think I've said all I can think of to say on this chapter ... for now! But I'd love to hear your thoughts if you have time - feel free to comment below or send me an email with your thoughts/photos (or a link to your site) ...

---> drhanigan AT gmail DOT com

Or maybe you don't have any thoughts on TV at all, but a pretty tea setting to share with us ... that would be lovely, as well!

Oh, and don't forget my Mitten Strings giveaway! Pop on over to this post for more details - you have until Friday to enter! :)

Now, at next week's Autumn Tea - and I'll aim for Friday but Sunday will be more likely - we'll be discussing Mitten Strings for God, chapter seven, "Play." What a fun topic that will be! But for now, I will wish you all well - enjoy the rest of your weekend! - and hope to see you here again very soon! 

Autumn Tea & Mitten Strings: Ch. 4, Quiet

Halloween tea

Hello my friends and Happy Friday! And holy smokes, it's the last October Friday of 2017 - can you even believe it?! No, I can't either, but I'm not going to dwell on that just now because we all have SO much to talk about this week! And it's such a lovely October day ... we have Tea to pour, and Quiet to discuss, plus I have a really fun announcement to make at the end of this post! :)

So welcome, everyone, to another Autumn Teatime and our ongoing Mitten Strings for God book study. Today we are discussing the fourth chapter of this wonderful book, titled "Quiet." And what a nice chapter this was, full of such thoughtfulness and inspiration.

(I'm pretty sure I'll be saying this a lot throughout our study.)

Quiet is such a valuable thing to consider, on both a personal and family level ... and ... as mine is a family of FOUR BOYS ... well, you can imagine that ours is not the ... um ... quietest on the block. (Lets just say our neighbors know us well and are very kind.) I think though, the message I got from this chapter was not so much that we need more silence in our life (though that's nice too at times) but perhaps more room to hear the right kind of noise - noise that is meaningful and intimate. And maybe because of the way we all live nowadays, it's a balance we need to be mindful of - noise vs. quiet and where the outside world fits in. I think there's a real need to allow "a thoughtful quiet" to permeate our homes so we may live in such a way that allows us to absorb OUR world - not necessarily THE world - and the sweet simple details of our everyday life.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, and to quote from my original post on this chapter (from the 2008 book study):

"I could do with less noise, but I savor the sounds of my life."

Now, before I go on too much further here is a link to the post I did on this chapter back in 2008 (with so many wonderful reader comments). I'll also update this post with any current links and comments from all of you as (hopefully) you jump into our ongoing discussion!

(Everyone is welcome to participate - please see this post for more details!)

But! Before we get into the meat of our book discussion, I'd like to briefly talk tea. :)  Above you see my autumn-decorated writing desk ... with its candles and twinkling lights, golden leaves and pumpkins, and, of course, my tea. I "took tea" today in a pretty china cup I inherited from my friend's grandmother ... I thought the black, white and gold scheme was rather fitting! My brew is an Irish Breakfast decaf, and my teatime treats are two Scandinavian ginger crisps - a nod to two of my main ancestral roots. (Halloween always makes me feel ancestral!) As I sipped, I surrounded myself with autumn journals and board books, and some darling holiday cards I hoped to get into the mail before day's end ...

But now, on to our Mitten Strings discussion!

Now, rather fittingly, I (re)read this chapter about "Quiet" in absolute silence. Not a normal atmosphere for me! (Unless it's 6 a.m. or 10 p.m. - more on that in a minute!) So I was sitting in an exam room at my doctor's - in that atrocious "gown," awaiting my annual physical, all alone ... and it was absolutely still. (My doctor was running late, stuck in traffic!) Anyhoo, I relished the quiet, and began reading, making mental notes as I went along, and reminded myself once again just how much sense each of these chapters make. Not just for families with young children (as the author was back then, and I was back then - though also, still now) but really, for any one of us seeking a more mindful life.

On my drive back home, I took a moment to capture the gray, autumn stillness of the morning ...

Fall road

It was so quiet in my car - because, inspired by my reading, I decided to NOT turn on newsradio, which is my habit - and honestly, found myself paying more attention. I was so moved by the whirling leaves and the drab sky and the wet roads ... I just had to stop and snap a picture.

"Before we flick on the car radio or the CD player, we stop long enough to think: Do we want to exchange this quiet for sound?" (p. 29)

Normally I automatically turn on the car radio, but lately I've been consciously keeping things quiet. When the boys are with me, we talk more. When I'm alone ... I think. Or I roll down the window and really listen to the sounds around me ...

The same holds true at home.

"In silence, I become more attentive." (p. 30)

Attentive, yes - to a developing mood, a certain "edge" to a comment, footsteps on the stairs - plodding or rushed - the sound of the door opening when it should not be opened. That's something I need to hear, because Earlybird does like to go outside - at any hour, in any weather - and despite the stop signs we have posted at each egress, he tends to just rush out the door without asking. (Because he's a smart boy, he doesn't risk the chance that the answer will be no.) So you know, at 6 a.m. on some random morning you just might find me in my yard, in my pajamas, cajoling my son to get up and out of the dirt pit and come back inside, because now is not the time to be playing outside and people are sleeping so we need to be quiet and WOULD YOU PLEASE JUST GET BACK IN THIS HOUSE RIGHT NOW?!. (And that would be the moment caffeine deprivation takes over.) 

This chapter inspired me to take a good look at our days and where we might invite more quiet into our life ...

And to begin with, our mornings start out quiet for sure. There are, in fact, pockets of EXTREME don't-wake-the-baby quiet (though he's not a baby anymore, as he'd be swift to remind me) because LB's also a night owl so he really sleeps in. (For everyone's benefit!)

But then there's Earlybird's morning bubble in which he's got his Kindle Fire blaring and it's only 5 a.m. EB has always been an early riser, and he's awake a good hour or three before the rest of his brothers so Bill and I spend those wee, dark hours keeping him occupied, (inside) and supervised, while maintaining a level of quiet on the bedroom floor to permit Little Bear to sleep in as late as he needs. I talked about my mornings in my last post to give you a clearer idea how this time of day unfolds ...

Once Little Bear is up though, we're off! And the day itself is nearly always filled with noise of all kinds - human, electronic, feline and yes, even the squawking of our chickens reaches our ears through open windows. I crave quiet at times absolutely, but mostly I feel blessed to be surrounded by so much "joyful noise." 

So moving forward, I think looking at our family's days to discern where all the "noise" is coming from is helpful - but also asking, which noises are a valuable experience?

"Be conscious of all the different kinds of noise you allow into your life. Begin to eliminate any that don't enhance the present moment." (p. 31)

Honest to goodness as I type this now the family room tv is on. There is no one else in the room with me and I sure as heck am not interested in Bubble Guppies at the moment. But I'm so used to the background noise I didn't even think about it ...

*turns the tv off and returns to desk*

Now I hear the wind rattling the window, and the driving rain on the deck ... the dishwasher running and my 15 yo's yelling along (happily) with his train video upstairs ... the UPS truck is pulling up the road, a woodpecker is tapping on the siding, and my cat is vigorously cleaning himself under the table next to me.

I'm not immersed in Bubble Guppies anymore ... now I'm immersed in home, and open to the world - MY world - around me.

"In silence, we allow the world to enter our hearts." (p. 32)

My world is full of yelling kids and blowing wind and dishes washing and packages being delivered, etc. - simple and humble sounds that make up the "sound track in [my] life." (p. 31) How much better to be filling my ears (heart and soul) with these sounds rather than whatever might be playing on TV!

(Boy, won't the "TV" chapter be quite interesting to discuss?!)

You know, I remember when my brother and I were young, just how much my mum craved quiet. We'd be watching TV or listening to the radio - or both - and she'd be cringing and begging us to turn down the volume - or maybe to just turn that darn thing off. And when we would, she'd just visibly relax, sigh, and say ...

"Oh, that feels so good to my ears." 

I never understood what she meant by this but now that I'm a mom - of, ahem, a certain age - I GET it.

I really appreciate the suggestions Ms. Kenison gives us in this chapter. I know I want less electronic/outside noise in our life, but it can be hard to know where to start. I think though, I've found it easier to manage my children's audible input when they're at a younger age ...

"Avoid electronic games and toys that talk, beep, or make other noises. The best sound effects are those that children make themselves." (p. 31)

Admittedly, almost all of our toys are quiet toys. We do have a couple of rather "vocal" trucks, but as tends to happen ... batteries disappear or a new layer of duct tape appears on said truck, directly over the spot where the speakers are situated.

To begin with, this was for Earlybird's benefit, who, as I've mentioned (and I'm sure will mention again) has autism and has many significant sensory challenges. One of them is noise. Some kinds of noise are unbearable to him - chatty toys being one - but oddly enough, he finds the right kind of noise addictive. For example, if he's watching a train video on his DVD player or a science video on youtube, it's ALL ABOUT THE VOLUME.

So he keeps his Kindle Fire turned up high, and if he's watching TV it's also quite loud. He actually loves having both devices going at the same time if he can swing it, and he rocks and stims to the experience like nobody's business. However, if he hears Little Bear and I reading, or if - God forbid - he hears one of us singing - he absolutely loses it. These are not "noises" he can stand.

While some sounds are ok, others absolutley are not. We're still piecing together that particular puzzle, but for now we're investing in a pair of these ...

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Noise-cancelling headphones. We're currently working with EB's therapists on this, and hopefully they'll allow him to control what he allows in his ears and when. The challenge will be discerning when they're providing comfort ... and when they become a crutch EB might use to ignore things he'd rather not face. His brother's sing-songy voice might bug him but it's not going anywhere. It's something he needs to learn how to handle. I'm sure we all like to escape aggravation when we can but life isn't about escaping (at least not all the time) it's about learning to handle what we must. All my boys must learn to handle life, but Earlybird has so much to handle it's overwhelming sometimes - for him and his parents. We're always learning from (and with) our EB though, and his extreme sensory issues often shed light on how we manage our own ...

Autism is such a puzzle, as I know many of you know. Sure, I love quiet conversation, and loud noises might startle or bother me, but they don't actually emotionally disturb me. For my son the opposite is true. Finding his balance is an ongoing project, one that keeps me ever mindful of the vivid effects noise has on anyone's quality of life ...

So I guess we're working on a new normal here - between EB and all of us! Being a little more "aware" of what noise is actually improving our existence ... but not impairing it. Wielding a little discretion, while creating a simpler, softer sound track to our life.


But now I'm going to be even more honest. I'm nearly done with this post, and supper is ALMOST ready. I have Bill finishing the asparagus and I jumped back on here to finish my post. Crackerjack is working on his college applications and Bookworm is off somewhere else. Four year old Little Bear - antsy and in need of a diversion - asks (quite politely) to watch a preferred tv program and - as I sit here and write about a book that embraces a quiet and unplugged life - I acquiesce.

Then EB comes into the room, Kindle Fire in hand, blaring Peep and the Big Wide World ... and chaos ensues.

LB: "EB! Turn that down! You're annoying me and I can't hear Blaze!"

EB: *casts a glare at LB but turns down his Kindle*

LB: "Mama, he's not making it quiet enough!"

Mama: "EB, please turn that down."

EB: "No."

Mama: *sighs and walks over to tv* *turns up the volume*

(Because truly, we need just five more minutes!)

So there you go ... I am trying, I am. I understand there were better ways to handle that challenge just then. (Keeping LB better occupied while his parents got stuff done, mediating volume level arguments between my younger children.)

But you know, baby steps ...

What I am LOVING about this book is that it's giving me a chance to take a good long look at our family life and see where we might improve things a bit. I'm not going to let it make me feel guilty or inadequate - I've been a special needs mom long enough to know there's not room for that - but I will see what kind of light it shines on our various situations. This book fills me with hope and challenges me to do better! All while wrapping me up in a very warm and understanding hug. ❤

Now, before I go, I have some super fun news to share! Next Thursday, 11/2, at 3:30 p.m. (EST) I will be a guest of Pam Barnhill's on her Facebook Live chat at Homeschool Solutions! Pam is running a series of interviews about books that shape our homeschooling and I will be talking about Mitten Strings for God! I've never done Facebook Live before, so I'm not exactly sure how it works (wish me luck!), but please check in with Pam's page - because first of all, it's awesome - and also to find out more! (Here's today's post in which she mentions our upcoming chat!) I am SO honored Pam asked me to talk with her about MSfG - this re-read is reminding me just how influential this book has been in my life as a mom as well as a homeschooler. The heart of these lessons have truly shaped what I try to do here with my boys ... and I look forward to talking more with Pam - and you all - about that! :)

For now though, I wish you all a happy weekend, and I thank you, as always for stopping by. Please share your thoughts if you'd care to - leave a comment here or link us up or feel free to email me if you wish (thoughts and/or photos) ---> drhanigan AT comcast DOT net.

Take care of yourselves and your loved ones, my friends ... see you here again very soon!

Seasonal Homeschooling: Pumpkin Week Recap!


Hello my friends, and Happy Tuesday! 

I'm back again because I have SO many pictures of our pumpkin week, and I just have to share! If you're new to my blog you might be wondering what in the heck a "pumpkin week" is, so - just to explain briefly - every week of the year we explore an assigned seasonal theme as part of our homeschooling. These themes are a big influence on our younger boys' learning experience, but they also infuse our family's home life as well.

I won't go into the whole "why and how" of our seasonal homeschooling, but the important thing to remember about it is - it's more a guideline than a rule! :)

Sure, some weeks we do it up big (case in point, pumpkins!), but other weeks just fly by and we only casually observe our theme. We may be very busy that week, or it might be the theme is not quite as appealing as another might be. Well, pumpkins in October (as you can imagine) are a big hit with most children! And pumpkins lend themselves to all kinds of great learning experiences - whether they be in the disciplines of science, social studies, language arts, cooking, storytelling, etc.! It's very easy to plan for pumpkins - just type "pumpkin activities" into the Pinterest search bar and you'll hardly know where to start!

Well, personally, I start with our own book baskets and family calendar - then start plugging things into our weekly rhythm! Here's a glimpse at last week's planner page as I was just getting started ...

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It's important to my planning "psyche" that I incorporate seasonal awareness wherever I can! So divider pages are vintage reflections of seasons and holidays past, ribbons and washi (when I use them) are also seasonally inspired ... as are the font colors I use in each monthly section. I just loved how the light hit this bit of planning paraphernalia on my kitchen table ... :)

Books are pretty much the backbone of our homeschool, so one of the first things I did, as I planned out our week, was to comb through our autumn book bins and pull out any that had to do with pumpkins ...

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Not surprisingly there were a lot!

Then I got busy planning out activities that would potentially A. appeal to my kids and, B. fit well into our week. Post-it notes are helpful for me here - because due to the special nature of our very hands-on homeschooling (one preschooler and a special needs teen) - I need things to be, above all, flexible. It's impractical for me to plan out each day's to-dos a week in advance, though I do set a rhythm to our week. (Mondays are nature days, Tuesdays are crafting, Wednesdays are for storytelling ... etc.)

So on a drizzly Monday we kicked things off with a little pumpkin investigation!

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I had a sugar pumpkin "specimen" all ready and I found a neat worksheet for them to use (on Pinterest). I don't use worksheets with my preschooler very often but Little Bear does get a kick out of them! First thing he said when he saw this one was, "Mama, I need TWO crayons! Orange and green, please!" Then he got right down to coloring those pumpkins!

Once the REAL pumpkin was open though, he was all about the seed scooping ...


My mum had come over that morning and with her help, and Earlybird's therapist's support, this science activity was a real hit with both my younger boys!

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Soon the sugar pumpkin was all scooped out and carved to the boys' specifications!

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While Little Bear scooped and colored, Earlybird answered the worksheet's questions:

Was the pumpkin big, small or medium?

Was it orange, yellow or white?

Was the outside smooth or rough?

How many lines were around it?

How many seeds did he think would be inside?

How many seeds WERE inside?

Did he think the pumpkin would sink of float in water?

(Spoiler alert: It floated!)

The next day was better for outside investigating so we headed into the backyard with magnifying glasses in hand. Recently - and curiously - we have one tiny pumpkin plant growing alongside the back of the house - and we didn't put it there! So I wanted the boys to look it all over and think a little - theorize - about how it might have sprouted up here if we didn't actually plant it.


What was SUPER cool about this observation though, was nestled in the center of the plant itself, alongside the one tiny yellow pumpkin bump we found forming, was a milkweed seed! Just one fluffy little seed, and there it was all snuggled up next that budding pumpkin! We do have milkweed growing across the street, but we mused it would take quite an adventure for a seed so small and delicate to find its way all the way here to our tiny plant. (And we were just discovering milkweed last week!)

This "mystery" seemed to me the beginnings of a really neat nature story ... the tale of two wayward seeds. (More on that in a moment.)


For a craft I had in mind for later, I set the boys to gathering the driest, crispiest, most colorful leaves they could find ...


Well, you can imagine how Little Bear took this assignment to heart!

The next day we were back on the deck with a little "leaf glitter" craft in the works ...


Here's Earlybird with his therapist, working on those fine motor skills ... and sensory issues ... and patience!


I just drew simple pumpkin outlines on orange paper and then the boys traced those lines with glue. Final step - crumbling all those dried leaves to make "glitter" and sprinkling it all over their gluey pumpkins!


(A craft for the outdoors, for sure!)

Back inside the learning room, here are the boys' pumpkins on display! :)

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Another neat pumpkin activity this week ...


Pumpkin tic-tac-toe! I saw this idea on Pinterest and knew it would be a lot of fun - especially for our Halloween party coming up this weekend. Fingers crossed the day will be a nice one and I think folks will have fun trying their hand at this tabletop game! 

Back inside, at my kitchen table later in the day: a fortifying cup of tea and a little read-aloud ...


How I love Tasha Tudor books, and this one especially. I decided to "splurge" and buy a new board book version for Little Bear. He 

And speaking of my LB, I just had to include this pic of him hugging our giant blow up jack-o-lanterns on the front lawn. Pretty much every day this fall, on our way in or out of the house, he just needs to hug his pumpkin friends!


Now, as I've mentioned before, our weekly rhythm includes a day for storytelling. These little stories are usually simple tales I make up myself, using our own yard, critters, weather, the season itself, etc. as a prompt. I like to place items in the learning room mailbox that will introduce the story theme and offer a few items Little Bear can use to play with as I narrate the plot. Well, here's what he found in the mailbox last week!


This is a soft pumpkin doll rattle - something we've had for nearly 20 years! It's kind of amazing it's stayed in relatively good condition. The boys used this when they were babies and then it joined our finger puppet stash. (We also have a carrot!) So today this sweet little fella was an adventurous pumpkin seed fairy and as you can see he was surrounded by airborne milkweed seeds! (Remember, my story was reflecting our recent backyard garden adventures!)

I also created a watercolor verse card for us to read aloud. I used a pretty poem I found online ...


I'm creating a collection of these seasonal cards for our homeschool!


Now, when I plan out our seasonal themes, I'm mostly following the natural cycle of the year, though I often tap into the liturgical or secular calendar as well. I assigned this week in mid-October as "pumpkin week" for obvious reasons - they're everywhere and on everyone's minds right now! - but it also tied in nicely with the annual showing of this family favorite ...


Last Thursday night all my boys, save Earlybird who does not like Charlie Brown specials, gathered on our couch to watch that timeless classic, It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. Yes, we could watch it on DVD (or streaming?) anytime we'd like, but there's something really fun and special about watching "specials" when they're actually being shown!

(The boys were kind of blown away by the fact that *ahem* ... back in our day ... if you missed a special on the night it was shown, well you were just plum out of luck until next year! And there was no pausing or rewinding, either!)

Friday morning - quite serendipitously and generously - my brother stopped by the house with a WHOLE BUNCH of pumpkin goodness for the boys!

Pumpkin goodies

My favorite item so far? The Apple Cider Jam! It's like Thanksgiving in a jar ... 

Now, we didn't get to all the activities I'd planned for the week, but that's perfectly ok. We did what worked and clicked this year - there's always next year for other experiences! On our "marketing" day we tried to find as many pumpkin products as possible at the grocer's and on "hearth and home" day we baked pumpkin donuts for tea. Over the weekend we were going to visit a local pumpkin patch - but unfortunately it was just WAY too busy for my younger guys. (Like, crawling with customers crazy!) I had in mind a far calmer, less commercial experience - so I'm hoping to arrange a quieter visit for my fellas sometime next week. Next year we hope to have a little patch of our own so this past weekend we decided where we'd like to plant it and got the soil prepared. There was also pumpkin French toast for breakfast Sunday morning!

So there's a little glimpse of our pumpkin week and all we got up to! Here's a peek at our learning line and seasonal bookshelves as I tidied them Sunday afternoon ...

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And here's a peek at THIS week's seasonal planner spread ...


One thing I like to do - because it is of course what happens in nature - is have certain themes trickle into other weeks. So for instance, we did "autumn seeds" weeks ago, but as the fall unfolds there are plenty of opportunities to learn about and live out this theme more. Case in point - those milkweed (and pumpkin) seeds last week! 

This current week's theme is "goodnight, garden" and I like to tie that in with Halloween. To our ancestors, Halloween literally meant the very end of summer - the time to secure the harvest final crops and prepare the land for the cold, hard winter ahead. We clearly don't live quite that close to the land anymore, but I think activities that echo those ancient seasonal traditions often resonate with us instinctually. So this week we are (as you can see from my planner above!) walking the bounds of our property, harvesting the last of our herbs, clearing our garden beds, raking up leaves, tucking spring bulbs in the ground, gathering natural materials for a bonfire, and seeking God's blessings for our "little farm" as winter approaches ...

Come All Hallow's Eve next week we'll be a little more prepared for a season of deep cold and darkness - both practically and spiritually speaking!

✨ ❄️ 🍂 🎃 🍃 🔥 ✨

Well my friends, I guess I'd better wrap up now because once again I fear I've kept you here too long! But I hope you enjoyed this little peek at our pumpkin week. Remember this was an exceptional week - I had lots of plans, and happily the weather, our time, my energy and their interest levels all cooperated! Not every week is quite so "seasonal" but pumpkins were especially motivating - for my homeschooling kids AND their mama!

I will be back later this week with my weekly Autumn Tea - and as I announced here and on social media, we will be continuing on with our Mitten Strings for God book study at a slower pace than originally announced. This Friday we will be talking about chapter four, "Quiet," and I'll be serving up a spot of Halloween Tea ... AND I have a fun little announcement to make in regards to our MSfG re-read, so stay tuned - and please take care!

I'll see you here again very soon ...

A Spot of Thanksgiving Tea 💛

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Hello, my friends ~ and Happy Thanksgiving Eve! :) Things here are all a-bustle as we prepare for tomorrow's big family gathering. My happiest news is that our oldest son came home last night from college! It is so good to see our Bookworm! Despite all the cleaning and decorating I've been doing this week, our Thanksgiving holiday officially began once this boy stepped in our front door ...

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(I never sleep so well as when ALL my boys are at home.)

So today I'd like to pour you all a cup of tea, offer you a cookie or two - pre-made I'm afraid, but quite tasty! - and catch up over a little Turkey Day chat:

If you're American, how are you celebrating this wonderful holiday? What's your favorite tradition? What does your menu look like this year? For my friends living outside America, how does your weekend look? Are you enjoying these last days of late autumn?

And how about your weather? It's VERY cold and windy in these parts ...


We even had our first snow the other night! Just a coating, but it was quite pretty. A gentle reminder that more white stuff is coming ...

So if you had a peek at my Thanksgiving planner then you know I have lots of things to do this week! I absolutely relish this week though, because Thanksgiving is all about family, home, food and GRATITUDE. A time that highlights all the dearest pleasures of home, and the kinds of things I love doing best ... baking, decorating, welcoming, remembering. And with all my boys home and the house shining and smelling of baking - well, I'm a very happy mama today!

So here is where I was yesterday - out in the sunroom, working on table linens, flowers, place cards ...


... and lists, of course! Always the lists. :)

Now, I usually drink my tea out of a very large mug but it's nice sometimes to sit down with a fine china teacup don't you think? And as you see in my top photo, I enjoyed yesterday's tea in a beautiful cup that once belonged to a dear friend's grandmother. When Shoshana stayed with us last month she was in the midst of cleaning out her ailing mother's home, preparing to sell it this fall. A difficult task (both physically and emotionally) and I was glad we were able to find some time to sit down and really talk. As she cleaned, Shoshana found many family treasures, including unpacked boxes of teacups that once belonged to her maternal grandmother. Knowing how I love teacups, she offered them to me!

So as I sipped my from that cup yesterday, I thought fondly of Shoshana and our friendship that dates back to kindergarten. Shosh (or Susie as I called her growing up) has lived in California for many years, so we don't get to see each other very often but I am so grateful for her friendship. There were lots of cups to choose from but I picked the black and white print yesterday because it reminded me of a pilgrim. :)

(And by the way, I was drinking "American Breakfast" tea - a caffeinated blend because I needed a little shot in the arm yesterday!)

But now here's today's tea ...


Back to my favorite decaf - with a spoonful of raw sugar and LOTS of organic whole milk - served in one of my gigantic tea mugs. Oh, and those cookies ...


These are just Pilsbury holiday sugar cookies - because yes, I'm a sucker for holiday marketing! Just pop them in the oven and 10 minutes later, freshly baked cookies! I made them for the boys this week but honestly, I'm pretty sure I've eaten the most of anyone so far.

And here again is my helper, assisting in the placement of china and napkins and turkeys. :)


About those paper turkeys ... remember I showed them to you in a previous post? Well, as you can see they are serving as place cards and on the back of each turkey we glued a printout of our grace ...


He was SUCH a big help with those glue sticks ... ;)

And now each guest can follow along with the grace as it is said ...


After grace, each guest can use the crayon by their plate to write down what they're thankful for then hang their turkey blessings on the learning line. It will be fun to see what everyone says!

Now before I go, a few random things ...


This is my favorite Thanksgiving decoration - a pretty little pilgrim-turkey-angel jingle bell ornament I've had for years. I have it hanging in my kitchen window. :)


Our favorite holiday special ... we watch it every year WHEN it is on. (I mean, we could watch it any time obviously - between YouTube and DVDs - but there's something really neat about participating in the annual airing!) Which is tonight, by the way - at 8 p.m. on ABC. :)

And here's me, having tea in the sunroom (aka learning room), wearing a new sweater I bought myself this morning!


I have a longtime love for cardigans, and my favorite is one I've had for years - a long soft gray sweater that I wear ALL the time in cool/cold weather. Well, it was time to have a second sweater for changing things up! I saw this navy blue cardigan at Target and couldn't resist. And then I had to show you all, because if you're looking for a soft and WARM, kick-around, but nice-enough-to-wear-out kind of sweater, this is it. $30 is not bad in my opinion for a well-crafted sweater. There were other colors to choose from but I just honed right in on this deep blue. It's one of my favorite colors to wear.

Oh, and there are pockets! :)

Had to share this too ...

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A fresh binder and pad of vintage-style cardstock! Revamping my homekeeping binder with fresh supplies makes me very happy! I'm working on tweaking last year's seasonal planning sheets so that they're current for 2017. Adding a few new page designs, too. Hope to have a post on all that sometime in early December!

Here's a peek at the November-themed page ...


(P.s. Remember a while back on Facebook I mentioned I was hosting a homeschool moms meeting with the discussion topic, "time management tools?" Well I have not forgotten I promised to share notes from that meeting! But we had so much to discuss, we're actually having a follow-up meeting next month! In a future post I'll tell you all about the meetings and all the different planning styles we discussed.)

One last picture ...


Basking in the sun, taking all the holiday prep in stride (while Oliver hides) is my Archie. :)

Now I have a couple of pies to make and some cranberries to brandy, but first a bit of housekeeping ...

(And how about another cup of tea?)


I will post the follow up to my Advent planning sheets after the holiday (but hopefully over the weekend, or at the very latest early next week). I have notes on each of the planning sections to share, but I'm still in the midst of organizing this year's plans! (Hitting the craft store on Friday!)

I can show you this though ...

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So this is something we'll be doing for Advent! I saw an idea on Pinterest (originating at this blog here) and I just thought - how very clever! I'm still mulling this over, but I will fill you all in once I get all those pockets filled in!


I will also be hosting a weekly tea here all throughout Advent ... up till New Year's actually! Stay tuned for more details but I would love to have you join me. This year I am eager to see YOUR favorite tea cup. What do you like to drink your tea/coffee/cocoa/mulled cider in best? Every one that sends me a picture of their favorite cup (or mug) will be entered in my Winter Comforts Giveaway. This package will be mailed out after the new year. :)

Note: I still don't have my blog email up and running so for now, if you'd like to send me a picture (or just a hello!) you can send it to drhanigan AT gmail DOT com. :)

Ok, I think that's all I have for now. I do hope you enjoyed our tea, and I would love to hear from you if you have a moment. I know many of us are busy scrambling about getting ready for tomorrow's big feast, so maybe we'll catch up in a few days. But as always, I thank you for joining me here and I look forward to visiting again! 

Take care of yourselves and your loved ones ... I will see you here soon!


Masterpiece Monday: Downton Abbey, 6.8

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Hello my friends, and Happy Tuesday! Time for our second-to-last Downton recap!

I'm going to try a different format this time since I don't have a lot of time for condensing this morning, so here are my notes, as is, from last night's viewing - kind of a live tweeting thing, lol! I hope it makes a little BIT of sense, but I understand if it's not your cup of tea. :)


Boy, I'm going to miss these opening credits ... that soft music, the bell ringing, the dog's sweet behind. :)

Opening conversation between a strolling Cora and Edith. First thought - is this the two sisters together? But then - no way is this Mary and Edith walking together, they'd never do such a thing ... and isn't that kind of sad? I almost feel like the director started with this far away shot so we'd have this very thought. And then I paused the scene so I could stare at their parasols and dresses. (So pretty.) I can hardly believe Edith is grappling with this issue - how is there any question in her mind? Telling Bertie the truth about Marigold? There's no way she can allow such "a lie at the heart of her marriage."

Ok, here's the Sargent come to see Mrs. Patmore - and didn't I CALL IT? That was an adulterous couple staying at her inn! Oh the poor woman - her B&B labeled a house of "ill-repute" and it's been hardly open a month!

Wait a minute - who died of malaria now? Edith's beau Bertie Pelham is out of a job? Lord Hexham (the dead marquess) was his employer. Wait, he was his cousin ... ? WOW - so Bertie's the new Marquess! "Golly gumdrops, Edith would outrank us all!" crows Robert. And Mary is ... speechless. (Fuming, more like.)

Anna and Bates laughing at Mrs. P's situation (everyone's laughing) and Molesley needs time off for his classes.

Lord Merton comes to see Isobel to talk about the family issue - he thinks his daughter-in-law (to be) is a "kind and gentle soul?" Hahahaha ... he's not a very good judge of character is he? (Anyone else think of Hermione Grangier's cat when they say, "Cruikshanks?")

Anna and Mrs. Hughes still laughing over Mrs. P. ... and now Mary, too. Ok people, you've had your fun. Let's be a little sensitive to Mrs. Patmore's distress!

But Daisy got high marks! Good for her. I'm still sore over her recent poor treatment of, well, everyone, but this is a nice thing for her.

Carson was kind of ugly to Mr. Molesely abut his needing time off to teach. "What makes you think he would be good at it?" What an ass he can be! (Sorry.)

The sisters and their beaus ...  now it's going to be even harder for her (Mary) to accept marrying "down" when her younger sister will be marrying up ... way, way up.

I kind of feel like Edith should know her potential betrothed well enough to trust that he will be accepting of Marigold. How well do they know each other anyway? She doesn't know his family. She's so concerned that any outcome will be "regrettable" and I think we all can see the writing on the wall. Mary will confirm her suspicions of Marigold's parentage and use the "secret" to ruin her sister's chance at such happiness.

Best line of the night goes to Robert: "Poor old Edith who couldn't get her dolls to do as she wanted."

(OH, I laughed so hard over this!)

Mary and Tom out "agenting" and she seems distracted - is she mulling over Henry or Edith? Or both? In conversation with Tom, and ... ACK she finds out. Yep, now she's getting ugly. Turning on Tom. Come on now, Mary - your friendship with Tom is about all that's redeeming you these days!

(Robert and Rosamund again at each others throats. It's a sibling thing.)

We have "reason" coming back into it - Tom speaking with Mary and Rosamund speaking with Robert. But in each case "reasonable thinking" is pushed away for "the way things were done." Mary's clinging fast to the old ways.

Bertie shows up and wants Edith to accompany him to the funeral. I still don't see the rationale here ... will Edith then lie to Marigold her whole life? Allow her to think she's an orphan with no natural mother or blood relations? Won't this affect her ability to "marry well" someday? Worse than lying to Bertie is lying to Marigold, I think.

Thomas, the poor man - still no luck in his job search.  And Mr. Molesley having a harsh time of it at the school. To be fair, this is a tough age group.

Edith and Bertie are having a nice talk - she wants him to know she understands if he needs to look "higher" than her. His mother sounds like a tough biscuit. A cock-a-hoop? I think I'll refrain from googling that term.

(Note: Have the Downton grounds ever looked prettier? And again with the parasol! Must have been a mid-20s thing.)

Ooh and here comes Henry! Woo hoo! Go get her, Mr. Talbot!

Carson and Mrs. Hughes speaking with Mrs. P. - and oh come ON Carson. Making Mrs. Patmore feel worse and insinuating she wasn't being careful? He's so full of hot air - like he couldn't have made that mistake. He can be so awfully pompous. It's no wonder Mary's his favorite.

Puppet show for the children ... too funny. I'm going to sound rather Victorian and say how lovely it was that this simple kind of entertainment was all that was needed to keep children happy, once upon a time ... (And now I'm drawing up plans for a puppet theater in the library.)

Back to school now, and oh no, Mr. Molesley! He has lost complete control of the classroom! (Like we don't all see that coming.)

Oh my gosh, this is an awful scene with Mary and Tom and Henry. I don't know if he's doing the right thing with this sudden appearance or not. He's fighting for them, insisting on it ... and boy is she resisting. Ugh. I STILL like him for Mary because she needs someone like this in her life. She needs someone who doesn't give a FIG where they stand socially - he loves her, end of story. But she just hates being told what to do and feel ... and now I think she'll get nasty. Yup - the scene in her parent's dressing room? Nasty. I think we'll all hate her a bit before she redeems herself somehow ... Shame on you coming from Tom - yes! Oh boy, Tom is ticked! In the stairwell now with Henry ... oh he's being honest. "Aren't you better than that? Rather small not to marry a man for his lack of riches?" Ooh, he's hitting her where it counts - the truth! But Mary's still smarting from Tom's comments, feeling cornered ... and slash! Out come the claws!

Later, Anna nails it:

"She loves him but she can't control him. That's what frightens her. He's stronger than she is, really." 

And Bates in response:

"She's a bit of a bully, your Lady Mary."

(But there's another side to Mary and Henry sees that. That's what love does.)

Next couple. We have Edith and Bertie now, in the hallway. She: "My life is not that simple" which begs clarification, but still - the answer is yes. YES, she'll marry him ... but no mention of Marigold ...

Next morning Henry's gone. Good for him. Mary seems stunned. And now we have a very injured and downcast Mary, sensing the air of happiness about Bertie and Edith ... she's about to strike you can see it coming ...

And yes, it came ... ooh. She can be so awful. The proverbial cat's out of the bag.

Well done Mary. Now, who else can you make miserable?

Later now, and what a nice idea from Rosamunde and Cora. Great thinking, ladies! They'll do a family lunch at Mrs. Patmore's establishment thereby lending their good name and approval. Another example of how they all do truly care for each other. The upstairs and downstairs. Despite stations and class, they root for each other. (Except perhaps for the outcast, Thomas.) 

Edith and Bertie having the dreaded conversation before he gets on that train. Well we all knew what would bother him was that she wasn't honest with him - not their difference in station or her past. She didn't trust him as she should have done. And so it comes to this: he can't marry her because he can't trust her. Goodbye, we shan't meet again and Edith's off to London.

      (Please excuse the weird formatting here - I attempted to insert a vocabulary definition and the copy-paste went awry.)
      Ok, and here's Mary and now Tom is going to have it out with her. Go Tom!
      "Don't lie - not to me!" and then, "You just can't stop ruining thing for Edith and yourself!" but best of all, "You're a coward. Like all bullies you're a coward."
      (Yes - unfortunately, yes - to all this.)
      (Wait, what's going on with Thomas ... he doesn't look so well.)
      And here we have Mary and Edith's confrontation. Right! They have to have it out and BOY do they have at it! And there it is -  the B word! OH MY the b-word again! Go Edith! So much wisdom in her parting shot. Gah. That blow-up was a long time coming ...
      Mrs Patmore is summoned to the library. Whenever she or Daisy are called up in this way I'm always struck by the stark plainness of their uniforms (hair and makeup etc.) in contrast to the fancy decor and family dress.
      But I loved Cora calling out Carson ... and this, another "best line of the night" from Robert:

"Mrs. Patmore has been loyal to this house and now we must be loyal to her."

BRAVA, Robert! And God bless her, Mrs. P. is crying!

But here come more tears I fear (mine) as something bad is definitely happening with Thomas.

Baxter notices Mr. Barrow's in a funny mood. (Thank goodness someone worries for him.) Go Baxter! Get to him!

But, oh no ...

Oh my gosh, SAVE him please - Andy get help! Go get the doctor. Oh dear ... oh no. Thomas has slashed his wrists and is unconscious in the tub. I am sobbing. Thankfully it appears he will survive ... surely this will wake them all up to his despair?

Over to the school now - and Daisy is listening in to Mr. Molesley's teaching. Talking with the students - confessing his roots - clicking with them. Good stuff.  Loved Daisy's words to Mr. M. "You're a kind man Mr. Molesley. It's about time you were rewarded for you kindness."

Now Carson informs the family of Thomas's predicament, and they are all suitably affected. How very sad. Mary WAKE UP ... but nope. She's still lashing out ... at her father. Throwing about guilt because she's needing to hurt others right now.

A bit later on Mary has a kind of breakdown with Anna as she readies for bed. She looks terrible and feels worse, clearly. I think she's realizing how awful she's been and how wrong she's been. She's miserable. But apologizes to Anna who clearly, means so much to her. 

Now we have Edith with her editor, and this "Cassandra Jones" is coming for tea. But who is this secret personality? Was anyone expecting Spratt?? Lol, what a surprise! I guess looking back now we can see he was always looking at the paper and definitely had a secret to hide. But what a laugh this was. Bananas, indeed!

Mary bringing little George to visit Thomas was very sweet. And how similar these two characters have been! Lonely, angry, sad. Isn't this often the root of outwardly ugly behavior? What he said should ring very true with Mary. (Master George is so adorable.)

Now this next scene with Carson (bemoaning the adulterous situation at the B&B) and Mrs. Hughes (pointing out there have been "adulterers" upstairs) was sweet. Because Carson's crusty behavior has been tiresome, but when he asks his wife if she's gone "off" him she responds with a kiss. Because he may be a curmudgeon, but he's "her curmudgeon." This was sweet and honest. Don't we all have moments like this with our loved one? They can drive us crazy sometimes but they're ours, and true love means loving through faults. :)

(This will be an important lesson later on I think. Hello Henry and Mary and Edith and Bertie!)

And hooray, the Dowager is home! And thank goodness Grandmama is here! The conversation with Mary was so necessary. Mary breaks down and we knew this was coming - all her fears and grief over Matthew. Their love (and his loss) was enormous and left its impact. I love the respect Mary has for her grandmother, and that she (Violet) helped her (Mary) figure out her truth. She knew it - she just needed to hear it from the right person. Another "best" line from Lady Violet:

"First make peace with your sister, and then make peace with yourself."

And yay, Mr Barrow can stay! I'm glad Carson and Robert acknowledged they'd been unfair. "I didn't credit him with any feelings." Well duh, Carson. He IS human. How often we don't look past someone's outward behavior to see what is lacking inside.

So Mary has sent for Henry ... but will he come? I'm half expecting him to refuse her at this point! Honestly I think she has a bit of a nerve sending for him - she should go to him!

But first, a visit to Matthew's grave ... what a sign this series is nearing its end. What a touching scene, as Mary talks with Matthew and then Isobel. Blessings are given and the path seems open now ... we just have to hope Henry has not gone off this whole thing!

Cute scene with the Granthams at Mrs. Patmore's establishment ... right down to the paparazzi outside!

Ok, and now here's Henry. Good man. Tom excuses himself, "I've been part of this courtship for long enough." But I fear this is too easy. Will this go as Mary is hoping? Ok maybe it will .... his heart is pounding! That's a good sign, right?

And they KISS!! Yes!! And woohoo they can get married - like, tomorrow! So oh MY GOSH there's going to be a wedding! But where they heck is Edith? Oh - here she comes!

And now the sisters have the moment we've been waiting for ... apologies and confessions, and this:

"Because in the end you're my sister. And one day only we will remember Sybill or Mama or Papa or any of the people of our youth. Our shared memories will mean more than our mutual dislike."


And that's being practical and honest. I think Edith made this easier on Mary than she could have ... but to forgive is divine and so the truce has been called and it's on with the wedding!

Pretty setting (must go aback and absorb details) and Mary looks lovely. Camera panning all the pews ... and all these dear faces .. how I'll miss them!

But now we must wait to see how Edith's story turns out ...

The previews gave away nothing but there are lots of smiles, so that seems hopeful. And I was thinking - if there is a marriage for her and Bertie it's kind of nice they left it till the end ... Mary had her big wedding with Matthew, now this will be Edith's turn in the spotlight ...

We must wait two weeks (sigh) till that two hour finale (sob), but in the meantime, the "manners" show look interesting next week! :)


Well my friends, I know this was awfully long and probably quite tedious to read. I apologize I was not able to summarize things better - but time is just not mine today! (Both younger boys were up earlier than usual and there was a bit of a peanut butter incident in the kitchen ... and the hall ... and the family room ... that commanded mama's energy first thing this morning.)

I would love to hear your thoughts if you have time ... and as always, I thank you for stopping by!

See you here again very soon ...

Masterpiece Monday: Downton Abbey, 6.7

DA season 6 poster

Happy Tuesday, my friends! I hope you are all doing well ...

I am in need of one more viewing to fully discuss this week's Downton Abbey, but I wanted to get the chat post up in case anyone was itching to talk about it! :) I did watch it Sunday night but I confess it was with a half-asleep toddler on me so the sound was turned down and I didn't catch much dialogue! I am going to re-watch it tonight and compose my thoughts in better form for tomorrrow ...

But please feel free to start the conversation in the comments below, if you'd like. You won't spoil me - as I said, I think I got the gist of most of what happened. It looked like a good episode with lots of developments - some better than others!


And here is where I try to make sense of my notes! :)

Lady Violet - I love how she ferreted out the truth about Miss Cruikshanks’ true motivation! I loved watching her “at work” and I loved how this showed what a truly good friend she is to Isobel. Nobody messes with her own! Also, I have to give her credit for realizing she was angry and that she needs a little breathing space. Isobel admires this too: "Your self-knowledge is an example to us all.” What a GREAT quote! But even better was this: 

Isobel (on Miss Cruikshanks): "I suspect she's quite a tough nut.”

Lady Violet in return: "And I'm quite a nutcracker.”

Haha! Isn’t that the truth!

And that scene with Miss Cruikshanks was absolutely delicious. Lady Violet was just not having it: "You’re a cool little miss aren’t you? I should feel sorry for Larry if I didn’t dislike him so much.” Oh my! And when the tart little Miss C. acknowledges things might be awkward in future meetings (since they shall meet again - inferring herself in the Grantham's circles) Lady V. returns:

"Not if I see you first.”

Ooooh … BURN!

I also loved that the Dowager Countess told Isobel she will write only to Tom, as "He’s the most sensible.”

Note: I’m getting tired of the snippiness between Edith and Mary - aren’t you? Enough already, from both of them! Act like grownups for goodness sakes. I don’t have a sister, nor do I have daughters, so I guess I can’t really speak to this type of relationship but honestly, I find it quite tiresome. 

Now, most importantly perhaps, we have the Mary and Henry situation. I can’t help it - I like him. I really do, and I think he IS right for Lady Mary, despite all the opinions to the contrary. He’s wearing his heart on his sleeve - inviting her family to the race, showing up at dinner, calling her in distress because he MUST know where he stands - and it breaks my heart that she broke his. I think she is holding onto her deep-rooted snobbishness - thinking they couldn’t possibly match up - but more than that, I think she’s just plain afraid. I think she does truly love him (or is getting there quickly) and the idea of losing a loved one again is too much for her. I didn’t like it that Anna nixed him - I think that impressed Mary a lot. (Solidified her apprehension.) But so what if their lifestyles don’t mesh? Times were changing then! (This has been the theme all season.) And there's much attraction and care for each other. Her very conflict over his racing (and worry) suggests she does, in fact, care for him very much. The crash was awful - so sad for his jolly friend, Charlie Rogers - and I think a big part of why she broke up with him was her fear. But I guess we can’t blame her - after everything with Matthew. Had Henry not pressed her as he did, given her a day or two, maybe her decision would have been different?

Tom (who I suspect, has a bit of a man crush on Henry!) was so disappointed. Acknowledging her fear (aligning it with his own) but insisting it's ”... no reason to give up the man that’s right for you.”
{Ok, remember what Lady Violet said about who she would write to ... and why?}
Speaking of Tom - are we to suspect they’re lining him up with Edith's editor? She seems to be his type, I guess, but I hope we get to know her a bit better if this is in fact, her role. She reminded me a little of that Miss whateverhernamewas, that awful teacher from the village who enraged ... well, everyone. Only with less edge of course.

And so Edith’s beau (finally caught his name, Bertie Pelham!) proposed. But, though clearly thrilled, Edith didn’t say yes and she also didn’t tell him the truth about Marigold. Will that be a problem for him? (If it is, I say good riddance - but I don’t think he’s like that.) However, will he accept that Edith wasn’t truthful with him? That might pose more of a problem ...

And now, Mrs. Patmore's opens her inn - and it seems to be going so well! I’m so happy for her! But you know, there has to be some kind of complication ... so who was that man lurking outside with the notepad? A roving restaurant reviewer? Or maybe a private investigator spying on the couple staying at the inn - are they having an affair perhaps? Will whatever he’s up to mean trouble for Mrs. Patmore? (Next week's previews suggest it does ...)

Note: Can I just say how much I love the friendship between Mrs. Hughes and Mrs. Patmore? Well, I do … I just love it. It’s been such a nice example of true camaraderie and caring … remember when Elsie went through the cancer scare? 

As for Mrs. Hughes and Mr. Carson - I’m finding their situation a little tedious. He’s been something of a jerk to be sure, but the whole injured hand thing was a bit contrived. And a bit underhanded. I don’t know … I guess it was meant for laughs but I wish it had been something else that made him realize (if it worked) he’d been unfair to Elsie, and that domestic duties are not as effortless as he must have thought them.

Unfortunately, Daisy is still a pill. I didn’t forgive her for her snottiness even though she confessed she’s anxious over losing Mr. Mason’s love. Because she hasn't had much of it before. I thought she was intelligent? 

As for the kind hearted Mr. Molesley - well he OWNED that exam! And he’s now been offered a teaching position - how fabulous! I saw this coming I will admit, and I’m so glad. “I never think I deserve anything! Perhaps I’ve been wrong all along.” Aw. I’ve always like him!

(And might this situation open a job up at Downton which would allow Thomas to stay on?)

Finally - a new puppy for Robert? How wonderful is that? I never even wondered when or if they might get a new dog, but how nice that his Mama was the one to think of it.

Final note: I really wish hats would come back into fashion. I'm in LOVE with these hats on these women. Hats are long due a return. I remember my grandfather always wore hats and a dress coat when we went out … and my grandmother had a fascinating closet full of hat boxes … so stylish. :)

Now, before I go - how many episodes are left? I think I might be off on my episode numbers. I have this recap as the seventh installment in the sixth (and final) season, but PBS has it listed as episode six. And I believe there are nine in all? Hmm. My main concern is, when do we have to say goodbye??
Well my friends, I  must be off - I hope this made a little bit of sense and I'd love to hear from you if you have a moment or two. But as always, thanks so much for stopping by!
I'll see you here again very soon ...


Masterpiece Monday: Downton Abbey, 6.7

DA season 6 poster

Happy Tuesday, my friends! I hope you are all doing well ...

I am in need of one more viewing to fully discuss this week's Downton Abbey, but I wanted to get the chat post up in case anyone was itching to talk about it! :) I did watch it Sunday night but I confess it was with a half-asleep toddler on me so the sound was turned down and I didn't catch much dialogue! I am going to re-watch it tonight and compose my thoughts in better form for tomorrrow ...

But please feel free to start the conversation in the comments below, if you'd like. You won't spoil me - as I said, I think I got the gist of most of what happened. It looked like a good episode with lots of developments - some better than others!


Masterpiece Monday: Downton Abbey, 6.6

DA season 6 poster

Happy (Shrove) Tuesday, my friends! Will you be celebrating Mardi Gras today? We'll be doing so here, in our own simple ways ... shoveling out from the storm, glad for the power still holding, thinking about paczkis and pancakes!

So, I sat down and watched Downton last night and enjoyed it very much ... but it's such a bittersweet feeling, because the more I settle in and enjoy these episodes, the harder it is to accept that this dear show is coming to an end. Just two more to go, I believe? sigh

But enough of that ... here are my thoughts on this week's developments!


So this time out we had "Open House Day at Downton Abbey" - what a crazy idea! And this came from Mary and Tom - so it seems all slick and smart only, it was a bit of a fiasco, wasn't it? Seems they hadn't quite thought it all through. Thankfully, Edith's beau stepped in and made some last minute suggestions that at least kept the crowd in control. I wondered about this whole spectacle though - a way of presenting the house as this kind of inanimate, impersonal thing. An oddity, questioned all over by the curious visitors. Why this? What's that? Who was this? And the family really didn't have any answers ... it was quite comical. Their lack of knowledge made them seem so superficial and separate from the house. Almost proving they're not quite as attached to this home as we'd think, which worries me. I feel like they're preparing us for a big move. As the little boy (cheeky rascal) who burst in on Robert asked: Why not move somewhere cozy? And Robert seemed to think he had a good point ...

 Meanwhile, there was much forward movement with the hospital business ... with the merge going through and Cora being named the new president AND Lady Violet being asked to step down. Eep! I thought the conversation between Cora and Robert about her accepting the position was interesting ... Robert suggesting she's not "like Isobel" in that she doesn't need a job, Cora taking a little offense to the notion she couldn't handle it. I think this will be good for her, but I wonder if it will drive a wedge between them ... remember how he reacted during the war? And especially with Mama on the warpath.

Then we had more Daisy drama and honestly, can they make her any less likable at this point? Well, I suppose she can slight Mr. Molesley next after all the help he's given her. She is SUCH a pill! So jealous and indignant and selfish. Trying to sabotage the friendship between Mr. Mason and Mrs. Patmore - going so far as to throw the note in the rubbish! And making Mr. Mason uncomfortable when he brought a beautiful basket of produce to Mrs. P. Ugh, I'm done with her. I don't care how she does on the exams, to be honest ... though I am rooting for Mr. Molesley to do well! Wouldn't that be nice for him to have a different future in education? And perhaps that would open up a door for Thomas to stay on at Downton ... ?

Although, goodness, poor Thomas. What a sad final scene that was, with him sobbing all alone in the darkness. I mean, I can understand that people are wary of him because of the ugly things he's done in the past, but now they assume he's taking advantage of Andy when of course we all know he's helping the younger man learn to read. He is such a lonely and sad character ... but look how kind he is with the children! There is so much good in Thomas but someone has to take a chance and show some confidence and trust in him. (As in Carson or Robert, the men he respects so much in spite of his poor behavior.) Or maybe he's just going to leave Downton and find his future elsewhere ... I really don't know how they're going to wrap up his storyline in two more episodes, but I hope it's happily. 

Now, next we have Mr. Carson and Mrs. Hughes and boy-oh-boy would I like to give that big old butler a shake! How Elsie hasn't lost her cool with him yet is beyond me! This is really serving to point out Carson's less likable side - the picky, perfectionst, snobbish side ... but honestly, he needs to be told this is just not right. A new husband does not encourage his bride to seek out another woman's help in learning how to manage "his" home "right!" I mean, this is a bit comical, but mostly my feelings are truly hurt for Mrs. Hughes. 

And thankfully Anna is ok after a little scare, but that served us well in getting Mary to London! And to see Mr. Talbot (at the expense of Evelyn Napier who looked none too pleased to see her leave with Henry at the end of dinner). She looked absolutely stunning in that long green dress! That whole scene was so shimmery and swanky ... but the scene in the alley way? Oh my, so swoony! I hope Mary is changing her mind about Henry - they make a great match. Or really, about that particular prejudice in general. Tom seems to be the voice of reason to which she'll listen!

(Speaking of Tom - does he know about Marigold? I can't remember for sure. Mary will be LIVID when she finds out that they were all keeping this from her.)

Well my friends, that's all I have to say for now - I'm wrapping this up with a 2 year old clinging to my back, lol - but I'd love to hear your thoughts! What are you thinking about all of the latest developments? Please leave a comment if you have a chance!

And as always, thanks for stopping by! I hope your day's going well!

See you here again very soon ...

Masterpiece Monday: Downton Abbey, 6.5

DA season 6 poster

Happy Tuesday, my friends! And holy moly, what an episode that was!

****** SPOILERS AHEAD *****

Now, I will have to add to this post a bit through the day - I did in fact watch the whole episode but I was not taking notes or working on a draft - I was holding and rocking my little Little Bear who had an awful tummy ache. :( He's still sleeping as of early this morning (though he slept fairly well through the night) so we'll see what this day holds when he wakes. May I ask for your prayers that he will feel better soon?

Well ... so much happened last (Sunday) night! Here are a few points to discuss:

So, is Mary falling in love with Henry Talbot? Or ... not so much? Last week I thought there was a real love match happening here but now she seems to be dragging her heels. Is it really all about status? Oh, Mary. Why do you have to be so Mary sometimes? I do remember she felt this way about Matthew in their beginning. She doesn't want to (or "won't") marry "down." But will she listen to Tom's advice (marry for love, ignore stations) or find out Henry has some hidden prestige that will make it all right? Or will she end up with Tom after all ... ? I just can't get a good read on the situation at this time. I will say I don't like how she is figuring out the Marigold issue ... what will she do with the information and will she actually be hurt that she was left out of the loop? (And am I wrong in thinking the staff all suspect Marigold is Edith's but don't know anything for sure ... ?)

And then we have Thomas, reminding us once again that he can be likable and kind. This time, to Andy who can't read and needs help if he's to become the pig farmer he hopes to be. Do you think he will be paired up with Daisy? It seems rather convenient, but Daisy is being a real pill at the moment.

Because, ugh! Sniveling, annoying Daisy! She is really stretching my patience this season. Between the way she acted over Yew Tree Farm and now sniping at anyone who's "pestering" her Mr. Mason. Um, hello Daisy - he might like a few friends other than you! And Mrs. Patmore would make such a nice match for him, too - she's lonely and he's lonely and boy he was happy to have her bustling about his kitchen!

The Baxter storyline sewed up quickly. What an odd side story that was. And the Denker-Spratt storyline, too. Ooh, she is an awful woman, isn't she? I thought I didn't care much for Spratt ... but that was before Denker came along!

And hooray for Edith! She finally has a nice fellow for herself and I'm excited to see where that goes. I bet Mary will be so jealous that Edith has found both independence and a nice man to love her. I'm eager to see how she reacts to this development, especially in light of her own touch-and-go romantic situation.

But oh my GOODNESS, we all know what we want to discuss most of all - and that was the biggest and most gripping scene of the night - something so shocking and emotional! I was sobbing as poor Robert lay there, shaking and covered in blood! What a graphic and (what I would guess to be) realistic scene - Robert vomiting blood all over the table - all over Cora! - as his ulcer burst and he fell to the floor, seizing. Gosh, that was just awful - but the tender words between him and Cora ... oh in that minute, so much can change ... and he's whisked off to the hospital, away from his home, those who depend upon him watching helplessly from behind ...

Will this change Granny Violet's mind at all? Will her own son's near-death experience remind her how important it is to have the best possible care available - and close at hand?


Well, this is as far as I think I will get for now ... but I'd love to hear your thoughts! I will add more in the comments as I can. The little guy is still not up so I don't yet know what my day will look like! But before I go, I want to mention this and see if any of you are planning on subscribing? I think I will and would love to discuss the series as it goes along. This all kicks off in April so we have time to recover from Downton's end. One would hope, lol. ;)

What else are you watching these days? Anyone watching Mercy Street? I'd love some suggestions if you have them! But for now, I'll be off, and wish you all a very good day. Thanks so much for stopping by!

I will see you here again very soon ...

Masterpiece Monday: Downton Abbey, 6.4

DA season 6 poster

One day late! But here are my thoughts on last night's episode ... so many plotlines trucking along, some more speedily than others. But not many more episodes to go? They have much to do before it all ends - though how I wish it would never end, and I am not exaggerating that feeling one bit. 

Anyway. A great episode last night! I like that so much of the action revolved around the House itself and luncheons and homecomings and such. Very domestic and visually delicious!


Well, it's so good to have Tom back, isn't it? I just love his character - he might be my favorite of all, so dependable and kind. I missed Sybil last night, as did the family ... she was so wonderful and together, they made such a beautiful couple. I wonder if there will be a new love interest for Tom before the series wraps up? I would love to see him find happiness in that way (though he seems pretty darn happy as it is now). I don't think that will be Mary who called him brother (aw), and especially not now that the dashing Henry Talbot is on the scene ... !

And not to sound old-fashioned, but DEAR ME was it nice to see Mr. Talbot back "clicking" with Lady Mary - and having watched Mary now for several years, we could see she was definitely swooning beneath that aloof exterior! (I love that actor, by the way, Matthew Goode - have you all seen Leap Year? Oh, you must! A lovely movie which would be especially appropriate viewing this year!) Henry's chemistry with Mary was clear to everyone including themselves. I had to laugh at Lady Violet and Lady Shackleton's conversation, watching their young relations with a speculative eye. "Mary needs more than a handsome smile and a hand on a gear stick." Ha!

I'm betting though, that Henry's profession will be a difficulty for Mary - whose husband, as we all remember, died in an awful car crash. I think that will be a potential fly in an otherwise very nice ointment.

Now, on to Thomas - and, well - this was "first season" Thomas all over again, wasn't it? Here we are, all feeling badly for him lately, and then he goes and reminds us just how vicious he can be. And pompous. And vain. But that line to Baxter: "You're wrong. I do care what people think of me." Well, it makes me sad (even though I wanted to smack him for embarrassing Gwen). He clearly has such issues - he wants to belong, and be liked, but he just can't stop biting the hands that try to feed him. Or pet him. Or whatever. He's like a wounded animal that can't help being mean. But the scene when Mrs. Patmore told Baxter that Sargent Willis was looking for her - and Anna quipped to Bates that it was nice that for once he wasn't looking for them - well, Thomas spoke up and reminded them that it wasn't very funny for Miss Baxter, after all. So he does have a clue about being kind ... or protective, I guess. Remember how he saved Jimmy? And how he was with Sybil? And how he is now with the children. sigh I really hope he gets himself on a better path emotionally before he has to find himself a new job.

As for Baxter herself - she reminds me of Anna in some ways - they're similar characters. And because of her past, she has issues too, though she has kept her softness whereas Thomas has only hardened. Being asked to testify against this Peter Coyle character was a hard decision for her, but I'm glad she will do it. We all knew she would ... because she is for others first, herself last.

Oh, and about Gwen - what a lovely scene that was! Except of course for Thomas's cruelty and Mary's being all snootily affronted. As she recounted how she made a life for herself - with Sybil's kind intervention - it showed the Granthams how things have changed (and should change). This young woman worked and lived in their house for two years and they never spoke to her - hardly recognized her! But then you had Sybil - so ahead of her times - looking past society's norms and befriending Gwen. Helping her because she was in a position to do so ... and wasn't that quite the wake up  call for them all, especially Mary. I loved how the camera would find Tom's proud, smiling face as Gwen spoke ... and I seethed when Mary thanked Barrow for alerting them to the "truth." Arggh ... hang it up Mary! Enough of the snobbery!

But so happy that everything is all right for Anna - and kudos to Mary for taking charge and getting Anna to that doctor straight away. Mary was feeling (and perhaps rightly so) ashamed about Sybil's behavior in comparison with her own ... but she really does have a heart. "I realized how much better Sybil was than I am ... It was quite chastening." Mmm-hm. And I would have loved a more intimate scene for Anna's big "reveal" to Bates, but I guess that's how things were for the "downstairs" crew at the time. Your lives are constantly put on hold, secondary to the House's agenda. And today's was welcoming back Carson and ... Mrs. Hughes. How funny that they decided to keep the names like that. Again, what works best for the House ...

And UGH - Daisy. For goodness sakes, she's acting crazy this season and I've had enough. I can't stand that they're having her act like this but I guess she's always acted irrationally if we go back to the Jimmy thing. She's young, I get that ... but she's supposed to be smart. She's perhaps a symbol of how the lower class were getting sick and tired of coming last. But honestly, she had it all wrong about Lady Cora - and she's fortunate it didn't play out as she envisioned (challenging Cora about "duping" her). But thankfully, Mr. Mason now has a new home and job ... and did I perhaps detect a little romantic interest on Andy's side towards Daisy? He said he loves the countryside ...

Speaking of new jobs - who do you think Edith will hire as editor? They kind of dangled that out there ...

Now, onto the Hospital thingamabob. Boy, am I growing weary of that storyline! It's the same argument each week with just one more voice lent to the fray. This time it was Lady Violet's friend, Lady Shackleton, who found it hard to argue with reason and support an opinion without knowing all the facts. "That's never stopped me," cries the Dowager. Lol! She gets all the best lines. But you can see her defense (or is it an offense?) is crumbling. And I have a feeling that Robert's "indigestion" is reaching a boiling point - and that will be just the dire medical situation to show the Dowager Countess how important it is to have the very best, modern care at their disposal. I don't think anything less will do it. Certainly not reasonable argument! But I will say Rosamund's "funeral" comment to Robert is haunting me ...

*Quick note before I go - and I could talk about the clothes again because as usual, they were gorgeous - but I wanted to mention how especially lovely the house seemed in this episode. More homey and less grand. (Though it's still, obviously, quite grand.) There was a scene in which Cora was heading upstairs when Mr. Molesley asked to speak with her and the pause here - the way you could feel the lateness in the day, the comfort in the routine ... and then we switched to a scene downstairs with Daisy and Mrs. Patmore in the kitchen ... and it all just looked so cozy. Quite late in the day, supper getting on, lights low, a quietness about the place ... this was a real home to these folks. All of them. And not just a manor, but HOME. This is part of what I'll miss about the show. They really know how to set an atmosphere!

Well my friends, I thought I'd write a shorter recap than this, but I do hope you enjoyed it! And I would love to hear your thoughts on this week's installment ... are you enjoying the final season so far? Do you have any predictions for what is to come? Drop me a note below if you have the time!

I will be back later today with a few photos - a Tuesday Tidbits post I put together late on Monday - so I'll see you here again very soon! :)

Masterpiece Monday: Downton Abbey, 6.3

DA season 6 poster

Good Monday morning, my friends!

Well, I am eager to hear your thoughts on last night's episode! I enjoyed it very much and was pleasantly surprised with one particular turn of events! I do need to re-watch the episode because I'm sure I missed a few things, but wanted to pop in and throw down a few thoughts. (It just so happened Little Bear stayed up later than usual last night, so we were getting him to bed just as I was finishing up Downton!).

Now remember ... SPOILERS AHEAD!


So Anna is pregnant ... I think? Or she suspects she might be but it's too soon to tell. (These were the days before CVS and EPT!) Mary wants to whisk her off to see the London doctor but Anna is ... tentative? Anxious? Or something. Mary looked disappointed things weren't going her way. (Imagine that.) I think I was on a "clean pajamas hunt" at that point in the show so I'm not exactly sure how that whole scene played out.

Now except for the ugly scene in her bedroom, finding "the staff" trying on her clothes, I appreciated Cora this episode. I love how she resolved the wedding tension by bringing all interested parties into the room and letting them speak their minds. Good for Mrs. Hughes for being honest, and I'm glad Mary apologized for her interference. I think she apologized anyway ... I remember she said something about wanting Carson to have all he deserves. I had to laugh, though, at her calling Cora a snob!

I also liked that Cora took the hospital business in hand and went off on her own to see the involved officials and hear from them directly. When she reported back to the local "team" there was of course, a mixed reception. Isobel was thrilled and Violet was appalled and Dr. Carson somewhat disgruntled. But Cora was the one who did what needed to be done - learn the facts and consider the big picture. 

Edith saved the day by throwing out her angry, arrogant editor and managing to get the magazine off to the printers. This man who helped her - I'm trying to remember when the met before but I missed the part of the conversation where they covered that - Rose's coming out in London, I think? He was awfully nice and I'm going to guess that there will be  a love interest here ... :)

(And can I just say here how lovely Edith looked in this episode. I sound like a broken record but I just love her clothes and the softness of her makeup and hair. And those HATS! Seriously, where might one find this style of dress? I just created a new tag for future posts called, "Fashion & Femininity" ... I think this would be fun to discuss as we move closer to Spring! I'm ready for some grooming chat and a little wardrobe renewal, how about you?)

But - back to the show! Poor Mr. Barrow, I really do feel badly for him. And what the heck is going on here? He wants to leave because he fears cuts are coming but also he feels nobody wants him around. And to a point that is all true ... but some of the staff are clearly fond of him - Baxter, Anna, Mrs. Patmore to a degree. He had been friends with the new footman but then the younger man was warned away? Is that right? Is it because of his sexual orientation (and the mess with Jimmy) or because he's done some not-so-nice things in the past and is not to be trusted? I can't quite put my finger on what is going on here. That "interview" scene was so sad ... I think that was meant to represent the decline of that kind of lifestyle. Nobody really lives like they all (or the upper class) once did ... and this is what happens to a "great house" left in the hands of an aging, dwindling family.

And then we have Daisy ... ridiculously irritating Daisy. Lol, I wanted to smack her! I know she's young and just so eager to have things settled for Mr. Mason but GAH ... why can't she have a little discretion and sense about this? I'm thinking Cora was NOT able to secure the Drewe's Farm position for him, and Daisy just took that tiny bit of hope and ran with it. And now Mr. Mason is believing this to be true ... ugh ... this could be so messy. But if I know Julian Fellowes, he will make this all right somehow!

Oh! And how about that crazy side story with Spratt and Denker? What the heck was that all about, lol?

But finally the day of the wedding arrived - and wasn't it lovely? I'm so happy for the new Mr. and Mrs. Carson! I love how this episode reminded us how much the staff and family care for each other ... Cora apologizing to Elsie and giving her the coat, Baxter staying up late to hem it, everyone doing what they could to help out and take part. Even Thomas, grabbing a boutonnière so he could be an usher, too! And gosh, didn't the schoolhouse look lovely? How blessed they are to have so many family and friends!

But the best - absolute BEST - moment of the night came when ... TOM AND SYBBIE returned home! Oh, how wonderful! They (the show) kept that such a secret, I had no idea they were coming back to the Abbey! What a touching and happy scene ... I admit, I had tears on my cheeks! 

Now, what do we think about Tom's reappearance? Will he take over the Drewe's farm? (Remember he comes from a farming background and always had a good way with it.) Or will he step in to help Edith at the magazine? And will something happen between him and Mary? I know it gets hinted at from time to time, but I can't really see that ... they are close friends for sure, but I don't think they're a good romantic match. But I guess we'll just have to wait and see!

I can hardly believe we only have a few more episodes! I am so eager to see how it all wraps up and yet, I don't want it to end ... I really wish the show could go on ... even if just in occasional specials or perhaps a spin-off?

Did the previews hint at much for next week? I will have to pay more attention when I re-watch the episode tonight! (I think I might have spotted another familiar face returning though ... ?)


Well my friends, I would love to hear what you thought about last night's show ... if you have a moment, please leave a comment below. I know I'm missing things here and there but such is the result of watching with a little one in your lap!

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

Masterpiece Monday: Downton Abbey, 6.2

DA season 6 poster

Happy Monday, my friends! A blustery start to the week here in New England ... and snow on the way tomorrow ... but enough with the weather, here we go with episode two!

And, as usual, there are SPOILERS ahead! You have been warned ... ;)


Ok ...

So, the wedding between Carson and Hughes - it's coming up and soon! Like, next episode, maybe? Anyway, now that they've gotten the important things taken care of (their feelings for each other, and hopes for their marriage) the reception venue is causing some strife ... and I can honestly see both sides. At first I was like - Oh for goodness sakes, Carson get over these people! Marry Elsie somewhere where you can relax and be yourselves! Let her have her day!

But then ... it really does mean something to him, doesn't it? This house and this family - where they met and live out their days - and while Mrs. Hughes doesn't want to marry there, he really doesn't want to marry just anywhere. Well, he really wants to marry at Downton, to be sure. And of course, Mrs. Hughes bristled a bit at Lady Mary's "generosity" ... we all know Carson has a particular soft spot for Lady Mary, so this should prove a rather delicate situation going forward. I will be very eager to see how it all resolves!

Now, Mary as Agent ... I am loving it because it really does make the best use of her assets! She was born to be in charge, lol! She does rather like to dispense advice though, doesn't she? In this episode, to Carson, Anna and even her godfather, Lord Merton - giving him a bit of (false) hope in regards to Mrs. Crawley.

But do you know what? I really wish Edith would tell her that Marigold is her daughter - Mary's own niece, for goodness sakes! The parents both know the truth, but they fear Mary would "use" this information against Edith. (What a realization to accept about your own children! No, not children - grown women!) But we all know Mary has her own skeletons tucked tidily away - Robert knows that, as does Cora - so why wouldn't they impress upon her that it is in her - everyone's - best interest to accept the truth and leave things alone? If for nothing else, they should stand up to Mary for Edith's sake! They can exert some influence over Mary can't they? Why would they be just let it pass that Mary can be (and often is) so cruel to Edith?

That scene with Marigold gone missing was tough to watch. I know it was brief and we all knew who had her pretty much right away and since this was Downton Abbey and not CSI:Yorkshire I figured it would all end OK. But it tugged on my mama heartstrings, this scene ... for Mrs. Drewes, to be honest. I felt bad for her and her loss. SHE should be told the truth, if Mary never is ... it would give her peace at least, I think, to know Marigold is growing up with her own relations.

And poor Thomas, my heart breaks for him. He's so sure no one is on his side. Such a lonely man. Why are they all being so (unintentionally I presume) unkind? Are they afraid he'll make moves on the new footman? Are they harboring resentment over past behavior? Has he not redeemed himself? I liked it when Baxter told Moseley that she was kind to Barrow despite the fact he wouldn't return the favor. She knows that means he needs it all the more. She's a lovely woman with a very good heart.

And the hospital "situation" is moving forward ... I find the lines being drawn interesting, but not surprising. I am glad to see Cora getting involved, though - let's give Cora something to do! She simpers an awful lot but she wield power when she chooses to, and she sneaks in little comments here and there ... sometimes in a motherly tone and other times with a gentle reminder that she is, after all, American. :)

Robert has not always been my favorite character (I STILL haven't forgiven him for his near-discretion with that maid, Jane or whatever her name was) but I love when he treats people - of all stations - well. His kindness to the Drewes was wonderful. If that family moves on (as it seems they should, given Mrs. Drewes strong attachment to Marigold) would this possibly be a place for Mr. Mason? Could this be Cora's plan, the one she mentioned to Daisy?

And then we have Anna, seeking out medical help - with Mary's benevolent intervention - for her infertility. Bill asked me if this was a procedure women still had done today or if it was something the medical community came to realize was unwise. (Like so many other early interventions.) I told him I am not sure, myself ... I do know some women can't carry an established pregnancy due to womb issues, but I don't know if stitching is still the prescribed remedy. That would suggest a more structural problem rather than hormonal, I think? Anyway ... I'm hoping it be a blessing for Anna and that she and Bates - in one way or another - will find happiness as parents.

(I really enjoyed the scene in Mary's bedroom when Anna was helping "m'lady" dress for dinner - first of all, what a gorgeous room. That felt like such a sentimental scene, looking back - when Mary said "You've earned it fair and square. Keeping my secrets. Hiding that fearful Dutch thingamajig and carrying poor Mr. Pamuk down the gallery at the dead of the night." That was such a sweet and funny moment between them - filled with reminiscence.

Now, what am I forgetting then? Hmm. Oh yes! I wanted to mention again, the look of the show ... as lovely as ever. Of course the plot is always absorbing but I just cannot get over how beautiful the series is once agin, this year. The scenery for one thing, but especially the way they are dressing the main (upstairs) cast. I am just loving all the fabrics and styles and shades and the hair-dos. What a feminine time in fashion history! (Aside from the menswear look, that was big, too - but still done softly and prettily.) That scene at the Fat Stock Show (what a name, lol!) was all done in such gorgeous tones ... everyone matched - even the buildings and pig pens!

Now, in closing -  here is my favorite line this week, and it was said by Isobel Crawley:

"I'll come with you. We must give them time to gnash their teeth alone."



Thank you, my friends, for stopping by and I would love to hear your thoughts on Downton this week! I hope to see you here tomorrow for tea, but I will see where the day takes me!

Blessings to all, and see you again soon!

Masterpiece Monday: Downton's Last Season! (updated)

DA season 6 poster

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

Now, you might notice that this post is rather brief ... and that would be because, as I feared ... I just could not stay up late enough to watch the whole show! #tiredmama #babyinbed #sleepcomesfirst! I WILL, however, be watching tonight, so tomorrow I will update this post with my thoughts ... but I wanted to put this up in case anyone would like to get the discussion rolling! So you are welcome to share your thoughts on the first episode of season six in the comments below. I won't be popping in till tomorrow so don't worry about spoiling me!

(Can you believe this is the FINAL Downton Abbey season???)

(And p.s Did anyone catch the new Sherlock? What did you think?)

See you all tomorrow! Thanks for stopping by!


(And here are my thoughts, now that I've caught up! I'll join you in the comments a bit later on ...)

Well, that was a wonderful final first episode! I loved stepping back into this beautiful world, but how bittersweet it is to remember this is the last season ... I miss it already! And so here are my thoughts ... I took notes as I watched last night and this morning (with but a few sips of coffee in me!) I am attempting to make sense of them!


So happy for Anna and Bates, that their troubles finally seem to be behind them. In the beginning of this episode, as Anna was crying and Bates was consoling, all I could think was: Gosh, are they ever going to get a break? Maybe once her stress lessens, she will relax and be able to conceive. I found it interesting (sad, really) that Anna's assumption was that she was the one who "couldn't get pregnant" ... it points to how for so long, throughout history, it was women who shouldered the blame of infertility. 

Interesting how lovely Thomas is with the children ... how they have taken to him. And he worries he'll be the one to be let go. When he said that nobody wants him there, I immediately thought, despite his past misbehaviors, they obviously trust and rely on him. To allow the little ones to be in his care for so many hours.

Now, about the whole Carson-Mrs. Hughes "how married will we be" drama ... it was sweet and real, and I loved how it was resolved. That final scene was beautiful. I'm still befuddled, however, that Mrs. Hughes asked Mrs. Patmore to speak to Carson about her intimate anxieties?? Did that not seem strange to you? I mean, I know they're all friends, and it did provide some humor, watching Mrs. Patmore struggle with her task ... and the look of Mr. Carson's face when he realized what she was asking! But in the end, such a sweet, even swoon-y, scene ... the love and admiration Carson professed for Mrs, Hughes (and she him) was just lovely.

(Side note - if they marry and live elsewhere will they still run the household? Just as Anna and Bates do I expect?)

Then we have the hospital situation unfolding ... so the "Royal Hospital" wants to take over the little local hospital that Isobel runs and the Countess oversees. I must say I'm relishing this drama because as much as I love the friendship that has blossomed between them, I relish their sparring very much!

Best line of the night:

"Does it ever get cold up there up on the moral high ground?" (Lady Violet to Isobel Crawley)

And I can see this situation has stirred up the potential triangle between Isobel, Lord Merton and Dr. Clarkson once again. I detected a little "fire" between Isobel and Clarkson and might that be the spark needed to change their friendship into something else?

Then of course we had the whole Mary blackmail drama. She's being quite "Mary" again this season, all aloof and snooty and picking at Edith. But boy did I want to smack that little snit who was following her around and harassing her. Another symbol of the changing times - Mary's power and station didn't impress or intimidate this working class woman. But I loved how Lord Grantham took care of her with finesse and resolved this particular pickle for Mary - stepping in to take care of his daughter, but also acknowledging she is no longer a child. And so Mary moves forward as agent of the estate ...

And all this talk about downsizing ... because houses like Downton just don't exist as they once did. Is this all about money or just that too much extravagance is unseemly? In the Grantham's particular situation, is Robert worried about appearances or money?

Now, that scene with Daisy at the auction ... just ... UGH. I was so upset with her ... and for her! I  know she was acting out of love and outrage, but honestly. She's a very smart young woman - emphasis on the word young - and she really should have known better. What an awful way to handle things! She was fortunate not to have been dismissed (and I'm sure in another house she would have been) but I worry now for Mr. Mason. What on earth will he do? 

Edith's storyline is interesting and I like how she's carrying herself. (And I must say I like how she presents herself as a mother, much more than I do Mary: "Come to Mummy, George" makes me cringe.) So she's considering a life in London with her daughter ... I think this all sets a certain tone of movement and change among the classes and genders. Both she and Mary are now working women - working mothers! - without men in their lives. Each of them strong in their own way, and resolved to live their lives fully without a man if needs be ... but you know of course, there must be men out there just waiting for another episode to appear. I'm hoping that handsome race car driver whom Mary met at the end of last season returns ... I love that Irish actor, Matthew Goode. As for Edith, well - she's certainly due some happiness as well! Does anyone wonder if Michael Greyson might return "from the dead" at some point? Or is he really and truly dead?

There were mentions of Rose being quite happy in New York and Tom and Sybbie well-situated in mostly Irish-Boston. Wouldn't it be nice to peek in on them? Might we get a look at their lives in America at some point, I wonder?

Oh my goodness, and can we just talk for a moment about the CLOTHES this year? Too gorgeous! And the hats, especially ... love the little cloche hats. I find myself needing a little hat just like that this year ... :) I'm hoping Victoria Magazine or some other similar publication will do a sizable spread on Downton fashions once again before the series wraps. The 20s were quite elegant and feminine ... While I think of it, I have a really nice book to recommend if you are also enthralled with 20s fashion:

Vintage Notions: An Inspiration Guide to Needlework, Cooking, Fashion, Sewing and Fun

And finally, I was once again endeared to the Grantham family by how they live with, and handle, their staff. There is a distinct separation, of course, but also, a true partnership, with real respect on both sides. I love Mary and Anna's relationship especially - protective, honest and open. I like who Mary is with her - just as I liked who she was with Matthew ...

And I loved the final scene when they all gathered for champagne to toast the end of Anna and Bates's trials ... I really think this closeness set Downton apart from other houses of the time. The "upstairs and downstairs" rely on each other, but also, deeply care for one another as well. How funny was that scene with Robert snooping in the kitchen! "Is this the fridge?" he asks Cora. :)

 What this episode did for me more than anything is remind me how much I adore this show, in all aspects, and how much I am going to miss it ... it is a true treasure, and I aim to savor every last minute! Will you join me?

Ok, so week one is a wrap! I would love to hear your thoughts if you have the time ... I will be back again next week to talk more, and I will strive to be ready on Monday! I'm now off to poke through some of my Downton books ... I think I'll be turning to them often for "a fix" as the series winds down ...

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

Masterpiece Monday (on Wednesday!)

Indian Summers

Happy Wednesday, my friends! How's your week going so far?

I think this will be the norm, unfortunately: me posting a Masterpiece Monday - on a day that is definitely not Monday! Lol. At this time in our parenting life, Bill and I just don't have the stamina to stay up so late on a Sunday evening! Also, we are watching with our Little Bear, who definitely slows up the process! Earlybird goes to bed by 8, so we start the baking show around then, and then we try to stay up as long as we can to catch either or both Home Fires and Indian Summers. Needless to say, we'll not often be successful!

How fantastic are both these shows, though?? I am thrilled to have two new programs to look forward to each week. I think we can swing watching one show each night and I will aim to get a reaction post up by mid-week. 

Also, I find I need to re-watch the episodes to catch it all - we often miss things when our toddler is dancing in front of us or demonstrating his dinosaur roaring skills. (And really, who would miss out on that?) So if you'll bear with me, I would love to share my initial thoughts on these shows and would REALLY love to hear what you all thought!

(Spoilers ahead!)

Home fires

Home Fires

Oh I am just adoring this show already. ADORING it! I love the look, the feel, the setting, the characters ... I think we're in for a very good show here. And how lovely to see so many familiar faces from Downton and other British shows! I find it interesting to observe pre-war (WWII) England - how some of them are in denial about what's coming, and how much the first world war haunts them and weighs on their minds. Who do you like so far? I'm loving that cow-woman, lol - the one who said she didn't want to join but showed up with a cartload of ladies, anyway! She's going to be fun. And the sweet housemaid, Claire, who was fired by the ahem rather cranky old rich lady, Mrs. Cameron - fired for speaking up, mind you! - but then hired by the fantastic Frances Barden. I like her moxie. :) But I wanted to smack that flirtatious Spencer - "Officer Wilson" I should say - for yanking her around like that. After fixing her bike and showing a real interest ... but perhaps that was his sister whom he promised a drink ... ? I guess we'll have to wait and see. This will be a six part series, so we have a lot more to look forward to!

Now, onto ...

Indian summers 2

Indian Summers

Well, this is definitely an intriguing show! There is so much going on, and we only know half of the story ... the plot continues to pull me in, even if I'm not sure I know what's what, and the setting is just gorgeous. (As is much of the cast!) So this week we saw a little tension between Alice and Ralph - they have an odd sibling dynamic, which I guess can be understood since they've been apart for so many years - and maybe a connection between Alice and Aafrin. I definitely see a relationship between those in the near future (a forbidden one, I assume) even though he does seem to love his sweetheart, Sita. I'm a bit confused about why they can't be together - Aafrin and Sita, I mean - is it because of religion or class or both? His mother absolutely refused to speak to her, but apparently she is/was his sister's friend. I do like Aafrin very much - he seems noble and good-hearted, and goodness is he good looking! Also good looking, in a whole different way, is Ralph ... but boy, does he have some baggage. What on earth is going on with him? Is he using Madeleine (for more than one thing, I mean)? And what is his deal with Cynthia, the owner of the club. Is she like a mother to him - they're obviously close - but with an agenda, certainly ... 

(Question - Madeleine lied about her age as indicated by the pilfered medical files Cynthia shows Ralph. Am I right in thinking she's significantly older than she's presented herself?)

Sarah (wife to missionary, Doug) is A PILL and I can see she's going to wreak havoc on Alice's life. And probably her husband's as well  ... what do you think about him? Is he having an affair with Leena (the beautiful orphanage employee)? Perhaps emotional if not (yet) physical.

 And what on earth was the deal with the man who shot Aafrin - his name eludes me, the older man in jail? What was the connection between him and Ralph - what on earth was Ralph doing? Framing him? Setting him up? Letting him die with "dignity?"

It's all a bit confusing - and this is why I need to re-watch the episodes! - but that's ok, I can be patient. I have a feeling this one will be worth the slow unraveling! So those are my thoughts on these new shows so far ... if you have time, I'd love to hear yours!

But thanks as always for stopping by and reading ... I will see you here again very soon!

Masterpiece Monday: Indian Summers

Indian Summers

Anyone watching this?

Last night - with the Supermoon rising outside our window - we watched the premiere of Indian Summers, the newest Masterpiece Theater program ... and we were intrigued! A beautiful setting (India, Summer of 1932) and a cast of colorful, intriguing characters. I thought it might be fun to share our thoughts each Monday morning, just as we once did with Downton?

(Speaking of that moon - did you see it last night? WOW!)

Let me know what you think if you have a moment ... in the meantime, thanks for stopping by and I will see you again soon. In fact, this afternoon I have a dinner menu post to share! I finally got a weekly plan in place and I will share it with you later today. :)

Be well and take care!

Masterpiece Monday: Downton Abbey, 5.2

DA season 5

Good Monday morning, my friends! I hope this post finds you well and enjoying a lovely start to your week ...

So I must confess right off ... I only kind of watched Downton last night because a certain little Little Bear was awake through the first half, and a certain sleepy Mama was half-asleep through the second half! But despite my inattention, I wanted to get this post up early so we could all start chatting ...

Some key plot points to discuss (if my foggy memory serves) ...

Mary and Tony (and Charles) ...

Daisy and Miss Bunting (and Tom) ... 

Edith and Marigold and the Drews ...

Rose and the Wireless ...

Lord G. and Carson and the War Memorial ...

Cora and Some Art Guy ...

Violet and Isobel and ... ? Quite missed what's happening there.

I'm going to re-watch the episode tonight so I'll hopefully have some more "thoughtful" thoughts to add to this post tomorrow! But please, if you'd care to leave your impression of last night's show, I'd love to hear it and get the conversation rolling!

Before I go though, may I show you something first?

O project 11 (2)

Today is my birthday and yesterday after church, my folks came over for breakfast. Bill brewed coffee and my mum made French toast for us all as well as bacon and fresh raspberries and a lovely lemon-glazed gingebread. This beautiful Irish sweater was my birthday gift from Mum and Dad and I don't think I've ever owned anything finer - I love it so much! And the little guy on my hip snuggled right up against it. It's quite soft and warm. :)

Ok, on with the day now ... I am typing this up in the dark of the wee hours ... a second cup of coffee is in order, I think (and possibly a third, we'll see). If my birthday holds true to form, there will be snow today ... and maybe a little more cake.


Have a good one, my friends ... see you here again very soon!