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. 🙂 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!
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. 🙂 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.
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. 🙂