Late Autumn Daybook

For today… Wednesday, November 18, 2009.

Outside my window… It’s still a little gray this morning, but I’m assured that the sun will be making its way out today. It’s chilly here, but its really been a delightful autumn so far! Our maple trees have almost lost all their leaves and their vibrant red is such a treat for the eyes. I decided to collect a bouquet of the crimson leaves and deposit them in a little creamy white vase. They look so cheery.

Our birds are happily feasting this morning. The cardinals seem to be our most frequent visitors these days, but I have seen Mr. Blue Jay up front if for no other reason than to sip his morning water from the pond. I suspect he is looking for more peanuts, Rob! I do hope the Meadowlarks come soon. They always seem to arrive with the coldest, harshest weather, but their golden yellow breasts are so cheery on gray, gloomy days.

I am thankful for… my ever faithful bread machine. It has been a constant companion and kitchen servant for over 4 years now. Before that I had a smaller Breadman machine that was beloved but “walked” off my countertop as it was kneading dough one day.

From the kitchen… bread. πŸ™‚ No seriously, I’m not sure what I’ll make tonight. I’m a little off my menus, but our meals lately have seemed a little heavy so I’m thinking something light.

I’m inspired again by an idea my mom shared with me – a kitchen day! She used to employ this with great success and I think the idea is quite useful – spend one day a week making mixes like taco mix, and refill canisters of flour, sugar, wheat berries, check lists to ensure that stocks are replenished and not forgotten, tidy pantry area. I’d like to give this some more thought and try it.

I am wearing… a brown corduroy skirt with a tulip flare at the bottom, brown tights and Mary Janes, a rose pink blouse and sweater. I just love soft corduroy skirts in the colder months. They have the most lovely drape and are so warm!

I am reading… Tasha Tudor Heirloom Crafts. As a very round about way of introducing the book to you, I will confess to you that I had prepared the most eloquent rant regarding a PBS series we recently watched as part of our Victorian studies – The 1900 House. I read and re-read my post, but I couldn’t publish it. I’m not a ranter, dear friends. I just don’t like doing it. I will say briefly that the program, while offering a very valuable look at the period turns into an obsessive whine fest over women’s rights and the lamentation that everything in 1900 for women is “just so…ordinary” (please say this in your most disdainful voice), life in general so boring and dull because all families had to do in the evenings was sit around and read together at night or play games together. (******gasp*****) I’m an unabashed devotee of the ordinary – there are just so many simple, joyful moments to meet there. Grace unfolds there. So, as an antidote, I am reading someone for whom “the ordinary” was an art form, a delight and blissful pleasure. I’m reading someone who saw the great potential for self donation in the ordinary and who was able to see the beauty and potential in a gnarled old apple tree or a collection of useful baskets. It has been a delightful antidote! Inspiring and refreshing! You absolutely cannot sit with this book without a cup of tea and then the subsequent flood of motivation that arises from reading of a woman who lovingly tends her home and her family.

I am hearing… Sweet Pea and the little Doodlebug playing so cheerfully. Doodlebug has gathered a collection of no less than 4 of her favorite baby dolls and loveys and wishes to swaddle them in her soft flannel blanket with roses on it, but one of the dolls insists on falling out of the carefully tended package. Sweet Pea has been called upon to more securely swaddle the treasures.

I can also hear the boys playing upstairs.

It really is time to move the day along I suppose and gather everyone up from the different corners but I am loathe to interrupt their happy playtime.

Looking to the rhythm of the liturgical year… we are preparing for Our Lady’s Feast of the Presentation this Saturday and I can hardly believe it but Advent is upon us! The First Sunday of Advent is November 29! I’ve been busily locating beeswax Advent candles for our Advent wreath, but I also checked with our local beekeeper and he says he can make Advent candles for me. I’m to send him a swatch of the colors I’d like and he’ll make the candles for me. What a delight it is to work with talented and generous tradesmen. I confess I am delighted at this possibility as I relish the thought of supporting someone local and requesting a deep, dark eggplant-like plum color as well as a deep rose for the candles rather than the anemic lavender and pink.

I’ve been inspired as well by a discussion on hanging Advent wreaths by the ladies at 4Real. Our evergreen trees in the back are lush right now and I can imagine their greenery wrapped around our wreath with the fresh fragrance of the beeswax candles. I’m envisioning suspending it from the chandelier over our table with this lovely eggplant velvet ribbon secured to a simple round wooden base. Doesn’t that seem lovely as you imagine it? I’m not sure how it will actually look, or if it will even work, but I promise to post pictures if I accomplish it!

A Time to Keep by Tasha Tudor (December)

In our learning spaces… We’re moving along nicely now. We’ll finish up this week and enjoy an entire week Thanksgiving week off with daddy, returning to lessons for a couple more weeks before our long Advent break. I really need to spend some time adding some new activities to the Doodlebug’s shelves. I set out some of our wooden blocks for her last week and though she does enjoy them, it’s Peanut that goes to them over and over again. πŸ™‚ I really need to invest some time there! I anticipate a deep cleaning and tidying of the learning spaces over the Advent break! In terms of what we’re studying and how, I simply could not be more pleased. There have been a few minor adjustments, but for the most part all the children are really thriving! It’s been a delightful and fruitful first half of a year! Please don’t think that I’m gushing just because…we don’t always have years like this and they’ve taught me to appreciate fruitful, productive years all the more!

Around the house… I finished going through all the downstairs spaces over the last couple of weeks purging and gathering unused items to give away. If I don’t do this at least twice a year useless clutter begins to choke out any productivity or ability to function in our spaces. One of the spaces I focused a great deal of energy in was my kitchen. I have something akin to work centers in my kitchen, a solution I came up with to address the woeful lack of counter space I have. I fastidiously went through each work space culling that which was useless and rethinking how that space was used and the tools available there. The end result is a kitchen that makes me very happy, seems very practically fitted, and I am overjoyed at how it feels to have accomplished such a task!

All the excess from the downstairs spaces has already been donated to the thrift store. This weekend – I move upstairs! Imagine the children’s knees trembling! It’s time for the “mommy is moving through the kid’s rooms” purge!!!! It’s painful, but after it is done all the spaces are so much easier to maintain and actually beckon more use!

A few plans for the rest of the week… I’m reworking the chore listing here as it is badly in need of an overhaul. You already know I’m upstairs to purge this weekend!!! I hope we can make it out to Rob’s folks for a nature walk.

Here is a picture thought I am sharing… I thought I’d share a few pictures of my kitchen after having worked so hard on it. I’m learning to be quite content with this space. It is large and quite airy, but lacking in useful counter space. I’m finding that I can make up for that though with a little creativity. The space in general is such a sunny, large space I dare not utter a complaint, and I am so pleased with my little bake center! It’s such a practical and useful space!


The view above ^ is the view into my kitchen as you walk in from the hall. There is no door, the kitchen is always open, which isn’t always a good thing I can tell you. You can see my 3 big picture windows that center my kitchen on the outdoors which I love! More on the windows below! Tucked back in the far corner is my bake center which you can see in more detail below:


Years ago, Marilyn Shannon wrote an article in a Couple to Couple League publication about nutrition and the usefulness of setting up a “bake center” area if you intended to bake your own bread and bake in general on a daily basis. Her ideas were the inspiration for this bake center. It contains everything (save the refrigerated items) that I need to bake anything! And truthfully, I spend the majority of my food preparation time here because it is just so usefully appointed for me! I enjoy glass containers for storing supplies like sugar, flour, wheat berries (view their canister here) because I think they’re pretty to look at and they’re generally inexpensive. A set of large bowls is indispensable for me. Before you ask, yes, Doodlebug gets into things down low. But, I generally bring her up on a chair to work beside me or redirect her to the other side of the kitchen and her own little play kitchen and so far we haven’t had a casualty.


These are my spices and herbs for cooking. It’s a CD rack that my husband and I reclaimed. I’m finding it so very useful, especially for those spices and mixes that I purchase in bulk and can store atop the spice cabinet in Mason Jars. And, it’s usefully located right next to my bake center!


Here’s the pretty side of my kitchen with my cranberry red cabinet and all the pretty white dishes I’ve collected from flea markets and thrift stores. While one side of my kitchen is terribly practical, the other side is a balance of pretty, and it makes me happy! Of course, I will try to say something nice about my white porcelain sink that scratches and shows stains so easily…hmmm….let’s see…I know, it’s very pretty once a week after I clean it!

You can just make out the children’s little wooden kitchen there in the corner (the style we purchased is no longer being made, but the family that makes them is still producing beautiful wooden play kitchens). This has been the most delightful addition to our kitchen. It sees constant use, likely because it is not tucked away in a corner of a playroom but is here, in the heart of our home. Its diminutive size makes it the right fit and allows it to live here.


The view out my big picture windows! Aren’t I a lucky gal? Just beautiful country and our pretty little front gardens and pond! I can watch our bird friends visit almost all the time!

~ * ~ * ~

I’ve missed my daybooks. It’s been so long and I’ve enjoyed every minute of catching up with you! I hope you’re all enjoying the most lovely of autumns with your families and that you are each able to embrace and meet the joy within the gift of each ordinary moment of your days!

Visit Peggy at The Simple Woman for more Daybook entries. πŸ™‚


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20 Comments

  1. I so love your attitude! Could you box some up and mail it over here to Sulkyville? I'd like it wrapped in sky blue tissue paper please!

    (btw I love that the word verification is homped! That could be a verb much needed in our family “mama has been hompy all day long”!)

  2. You know, all those PBS “house” series are like that. At some point, it's just like watching a train wreck… but it was very eye-opening to me to realize that the women ruined *every single series* (Frontier House, the pilgrim series, the Texas Ranch house, too — oh, that was the worst, don't get me started! LOL). Anyway, if anything can be salvaged from realizing I've spent way too much time watching the television equivalent of a bunch of mangled metal, it's that I've become much more aware of how women's attitudes toward home life, housework, etc. *really* influence family happiness.

    Always nice to see pictures of your kitchen! I've spent the last week trying to figure out if housewives in the 50's actually cooked or not. My kitchen is actually on the large side for a
    50's kitchen but so much smaller than kitchens found in a modern house the same square footage as ours. I can't for the life of me figure out where the square footage is made up either… I ordered a new toile valance for the window and am hoping I can convince a tallish male (I have 2 now, which is nice πŸ™‚ to put up the curtain rods for me πŸ™‚

  3. I am wondering if you would do a post on what youhave in your bake center as far as equiptment and what is in the jars. I would love to start my own. I am not a baker but would like to give it a try. I am always so intimidated because I don't have things on hand. I do have a bread machine but rarely use it and I have a berry grinder for bread a friend gaveme last year. I have no clue how to use it.

  4. What a lovely daybook! You seem to be able to find beauty in the ordinary, as well, Jen, so Tasha Tudor must be inspiring you! =) You kitchen is wonderful … I have twin two-year-olds, and they are constantly getting into the cabinets. I normally don't mind, except for when my Tupperware ends up getting spread throughout the house … Perhaps brining a play kitchen into the real kitchen would help … I've had two year olds before, but having two of them at the same time is becoming quite the adventure! (Whoa! =)

    Oh, and where do you find your corduroy skirts? I am trying to add longer skirts into my wardrobe, but I am having a hard time finding ones that are long but also cute and stylish! Thanks!

    God bless you!

  5. Ladies,
    You're all so very kind!

    Let's see…

    Lucy,
    Big box of sunshine all wrapped up in the prettiest blue tissue paper is on its way! πŸ™‚

    Angela,
    Thanks for the heads up on all the PBS series. I feel sooo much better knowing that you felt the same way! It WAS like watching a train wreck…like how much more of this whining can we sit and listen to…enough already! It is an excellent reminder that the heart of the home sets the tone!

    I am excited about your kitchen re-do…and longing to see pics of the new toile valance! I suppose you know how much I LOVE toile, right?!

    Nori,
    I'd just love to do a post on the bake center! How delightful that you would ask! I'll work on it…when I'm not baking! LOL!

    Sarah,
    You're always so sweet! Now…for the important stuff…the ADORABLE corduroy skirts. A dear friend shared a link to them for sale on ebay. They're the brand name “Cabi” which is a line that is only sold by consultants – think Tupperware party…for clothes. Anyhoo…if you do an ebay search on “Cabi skirts” you can find them. They run SUPER big! Go by the measurements – not the sizes! You'll love them, I promise!

    Anne and Cindy,
    You're both so kind! I'm so glad you enjoyed the pics!

  6. I linked to the Tasha Tudor book I'm reading, Dessi…up above. Did you mean that? I'm on a Tasha Tudor inspiration binge right now…I'm reading “Forever Christmas” next!

  7. I just finished the Tasha Tudor book and the 1900 House. I feel the same way you do about both of them. I love to “feel” Tasha's books and would like to incororate some of that feel into my home. I can do without more feminists ranting about my job being menial and mundane. It is not M&M if you understand its worth and all the possiblities that go with it. I think they whine, because working in an office is easier and offers oddles of opportunities for drama and gossip. Little kids just want love and cookies.

  8. OK you fessed up on the skirt source–now for the mary janes. Do you have any that are as supportive and comfprtable as tennis shoes or is my hope just a pipe dream?

  9. Yes, Ginger…Mary Janes! I have hope for you! I happen to consider myself a bit of a connoisseur of Mary Janes, finding them eminently practical and delightfully feminine.

    I have some foot issues requiring a very good fit and certain room in the toe box. Unfortunately, I found I wasted more money trying to save money buying shoes from “stuff-mart” that inevitably ended up aggravating my feet. So, I invest in a couple of very good shoes and find them staples of the closet! Here's what I've got for you…

    Dansko or Sanita Marcelles:
    http://www.zappos.com/n/p/p/7575811/c/19949.html – these are great European shoes and they're great for all day wearing. If you're not used to the rocking forward motion of this type of shoe, it might take some getting used to. They're my new winter shoe. I went last winter in my open back Dansko sandals and my feet were cold!!!!!

    Next, I love my brown Clarks Geraldines in tumbled brown.
    http://www.zappos.com/clarks-geraldine
    They're extremely comfy, look quite feminine and are perfect with tights and a pretty skirt! These are the Mary Janes I am wearing now, and the ones I was wearing for yesterday's post.

    and, I have these little Merrell Poplars which I love!
    http://www.onlineshoes.com/womens-merrell-poplar-chocolate-p_id120970
    Great all day wear-ability! I highly recommend Merrells in general! They offer a number of pretty options that look nice with a skirt, and are definitely tennis shoe comfy! Here are all the casual shoe Merrell offerings at onlineshoes.com:
    http://www.onlineshoes.com/productlist.asp?gen=w&ref_agegroupid=1&plt=1&firstref=2&ref_brand=9&answers_per_page=300&nref_cat=0-1624

    Hope this gives you a starting point, Ginger! Have fun shoe shopping!

  10. Thanks for the tip on the skirts, Jen. I will have to keep my eye on ebay, since you never know what's on there from day-to-day (currently, no corduroy skirts, but a cute denim one in a size that's too small for me =). But I'm determined, especially since I now know they're out there!

    Thanks again! God bless!

  11. Hi Jennifer. Your daybook entries are always a highlight of my day! I LOVE the work you've done in your kitchen. It truly is the heart of the home πŸ™‚ Hope you all have a very blessed Thanksgiving!
    Love, Lori

  12. You are a doll. I've been all dresses since April. I absolutely love it, except now it's too cold to wear Birkenstocks with tights. I live in snow country.

    I love your blog and read it everytime you make a new post.

  13. I've just recently discovered Dansko shoes and they make my feet so happy! I, too, have foot 'issues' so finding comfortable and cute footwear can be a challenge. I wanted to let you all know I found the Dansko 'Diana' Mary Jane at 6pm.com for the terrific price of $39.33 in black and 'pomegranate'!

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