Thursday, April 9, 2020

The Bee: Small Things, Gathered - Volume 1 Issue 1

Good morning, and welcome to the first edition of The Bee! And just in case you're wondering what exactly this is all about, you can find out more about that in this post.

Spring has definitely sprung in our neighborhood, and I'm not sure there has ever been a lovelier one! I made this comment on FB recently, and a friend shared that perhaps with everyone being ordered to stay at home that we simply have more time to take it all in. But I've been a keen observer of nature and beauty all of my life, and in my opinion at least, this spring is one for the records.

We've been on self imposed quarantine going into our fourth week here, but that hasn't kept us from getting out at least once a day, some times twice, for a walk around the neighborhood. We are so blessed to be living where we are during this time, among these quaint, old historic houses with their beautiful lawns and big, mature trees. The cherry blossoms this year have been simply breathtaking, and mixed in with the dogwoods and redbuds, its truly a sight to behold. I took this picture on our walk yesterday morning, which was just spectacular. We had some pretty strong storms blow through earlier that morning, and there were a lot of petals on the ground, but I could not believe how thick the cherry blossom petals were in this one area. They were just beautiful, even on the ground!

And now, here are a few small things I've gathered today to sweeten your time at home.

- You Tube is airing a different Andrew Lloyd Webber musical every Friday at 2 p.m.  It began last week with Jospeh and the Technicolor Dreamcoat (I skipped that one). And this week's offering is Jesus Christ Superstar. I'm not sure about it, either. But there are rumors that some of his most popular productions, such as Phantom of the Opera and Cats may make the list, so keep watching!

The Globe is doing something similar, offering six plays free on You Tube. Hamlet is the current offering, but they have a schedule posted at their website. I'm hoping to watch Hamlet over the weekend.

"The first day of spring is one thing, and the first spring day is another. 
The difference between them sometimes as great as a month."


I also wanted to make you aware of a movie that I just found out about today that is available to watch for free.  It's called The Windemere Children. Based on the true story of child Holocaust survivors who were brought to England’s Lake District to recuperate with the help of volunteer therapists, “The Windermere Children” is penned by “Home Fires” writer-producer Simon Block, and is directed by “Any Human Heart’s” Michael Samuels. Without their families, the children find kinship in each other and form bonds that give them hope for the future.

You can stream it for free here until May 3.
If you are a homeschooling family, are you familiar with Libraries of Hope? Our baby graduated last year so those lovely days are behind us, but in recent months I've been considering expanding my own education and reading some of the wonderful books that I missed in my childhood. I was especially drawn to this series of readings and videos on The Mother's Heart, and I plan to begin watching it tomorrow. There is just-so-much here to peruse, so pour yourself a cup of tea sand settle in.

"No matter how long the winter.
Spring is sure to follow."


A Hygge-ish Life
I belong to a Facebook group that posts the most beautiful, uplifting and inspirational images every day. In fact, I have them set to show up first in my feed before anything else. If you want to add a little hygge beauty to your day, I encourage you to join! 


I came across this blog just this past week, Cottage Chronicles, and I-AM-IN-LOVE! You should hop on over and pay her a visit. She also has an Instagram page and today at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time (which will be 1:00 my time, Eastern) she will be hosting an essential oils class focusing on anxiety and stress relief, and I think we could all use a little relief from that right now! You can register for that by visiting her Instagram page.

So, I hope you have enjoyed this first edition of THE BEE. I'm still kind of trying to figure this out as as I go, so some things may change and others remain the same. I also just realized I didn't include anything for Maundy Thursday, so I'll be writing a separate stand alone post regarding that later this afternoon. Until then, I hope you'll find something here to bless you and fill your days with beauty!

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

A Sweet Offering In These Trying Times

Well, I really haven't meant to be so quiet or to step away from the space for so long. I truly miss it. I come here every day, look at it and think how lovely it is, throw around a couple of ideas for a post, but for some reason in light of all that is taking place in the world, nothing really seems fitting. I haven't even worked on my book for a couple of weeks now, but I've decided to get back to that this weekend and try to write a little every day.

It' isn't that I'm fearful, although I guess a little fear is a healthy, appropriate response during this time. It just feels wrong, at least to me, to just continue on with what now seems like frivolous topics, when all over the world people are dying alone and families lives are being tragically reshaped. It's just sad.

And yet I feel compelled, in fact, I need to write. So I've decided if there is one thing that we could all do with during this time, it's a little beauty and inspiration, and there is still plenty of that to be found. So at least three time's a week I'm going to be posting links to inspiring articles, beautiful images, free movies and concerts that I've come across that are being made available right now, maybe even some recipes? I'm a little on the fence about that one as I know a lot of people are struggling to get the specific things they need right now and being forced to make do. But maybe I will, just on the off chance that you  have the items on hand, or perhaps you'll be able to locate them. I'll include lovely quotes, poetry, links to inspiring articles, and such. I've even come up with a name for it, one that was originally supposed to be a monthly newsletter I was thinking of producing, and may still, eventually. But for now, it will begin here, in the format. So may I introduce . . .

As the bee is one of my favorite things on earth and spends its day busily collecting pollen and nectar from here and there, it seems fitting to have it represent my hodge-lodge of sweet gathered offerings I'll begin tomorrow, as this is Holy Week, on Maundy Thursday, then again on Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and then next week I'll begin a regular schedule of posts on Monday-Wednesday-Friday, and will continue so until we are on the other side of this pandemic. I hope that you will join me here, and that your spirits will be encouraged and uplifted!

I'll see you tomorrow!

- Kim

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Seeking To Bring The Kingdom In Small Ways

I saw a meme on Instagram earlier this week that said, "What a year this week has been", and isn't that the truth? When I shared my last post about my Spring Home Blessing, the panic surrounding CoVid19 had yet to hit. I was aware of it, of course, but like so many other viruses over the years, especially those that arise in other parts of the world, I didn't give it much thought. But then late last week my daughter and I were out shopping, when I overhead a number of women say that they had just come back from Walmart, Target, CVS,  and they were all running out of toilet paper. It was then that I realized that perhaps I should give this a little more thought.

Twenty four hours later, life as we knew it had come to an abrupt halt. My husband, who is 65 pre-diabetic and often susceptible to respiratory illnesses, informed his job (a big box retailer), that he would not be returning for the foreseeable future. We made lists, stocked up on food and the necessary items we thought that we will need (no hoarding here, we were considerate), and went into self imposed quarantine. I've  established a daily cleaning protocol, wiping down all surfaces with more frequency, a daily round of cleaning light switches, handles, door knobs, and processing laundry daily. My seasonal home blessing quickly evolved into a daily prayer for protection. So far, we are good. They say there are no reported cases in our area (as of today), but I'm not putting my faith in those numbers. We're assuming it's already here and doing what we can to limit the spread in our home. Our daughter, who is 20, is still required to work, so that does pose some threat. But if I've learned anything over the past fews days it's that I can't control this. All we can do is the best we can do to try to prevent it in our homes and families, and rather than living in fear (I do have my moments), we have to rely on our faith in God. This may have taken us a bit by surprise, but not our Father.

I've been reading from Be Not Afraid by Richard Havermale and in yesterday's reading I came across these words.

"The Lord our God calls us to His service. This is the message of St. Therese of Lisieux, that we are called and we should have great confidence and humility seeking to bring the kingdom in small ways and asking our Lord to multiply our efforts."  

The author goes on to say that the greatest way that we can bring the Kingdom is in our families. He explains that families are under attack from a media that pushes instant gratification, but in light of recent events, I would insert CoVid 19. But I do want to temper that statement by saying that I don't believe that all of the information the media provides is harmful. We just have to injest it with a certain amount of caution, because there are so many conflicting reports and honestly so much that we don't know about this virus. If you aren't careful it can become overwhelming.

I found that happening to me yesterday. I had spent the greater part of the morning seeking out information about the latest statistics and the nation and state's response when suddenly I found myself becoming extremely nauseated, a physical reaction manifested by the stress that was building as I processed the alarming figures. Thankfully I was able to tie the two together pretty quickly, and my husband suggested that we go for a walk to work off some of the stress that we were both feeling by then. I was reluctant at first because it was misty and not as warm as I would have liked, especially since it was damp, but he encouraged me to try and I'm so glad I did. We walked for probably an hour, exploring the neighborhood around our home. There were people out, but we practiced keeping a wide birth between us, and you could tell that others were intent upon doing the same. We've decided for the time being, or at least until we are advised otherwise, to make it a regular part of our day.

As we walked I began thinking about ways that I could "bring the Kingdom" into the midst of our lives during this time, which I believe rests primarily in acts of service to one another. I love my family more than words could adequately express, but I think we all might be a little challenged in the coming weeks, living so closely and with very little time apart. I know for me, an Enneagram 5, it will be particularly hard as I thrive on time alone.And my daughter, who is an Enneagram 7, will have her own struggles as she is the complete opposite and functions best when surrounded by friends. We are going to have to impart a lot of grace in the days ahead to make the best of this.

That being said, in considering the needs of my family, I've jotted down a few ideas for how I can perform small acts of service, or "bring the kingdom", into our home.

- Plan special meals that appeal to the tastes of each family member. My daughter loves meatloaf, mashed pototos and field peas, so I already have that on the rotation. But my husband is much more health-conscious eater and prefers salads, so most of our lunches will satisfy him. I'm a mixture of the two, so I'm good either way!

- Plan for fun! I've already looked though our games and puzzles and I'm hoping that by engaging my daughter in this way that it will help her to ease her anxiety over the lack of social interaction with her friends. Movies are another activity I hope we can enjoy together. My daughter has her own TV in her room, but since we may very well be her only source of socializing, at least face-to-face, this may need to happen with more frequency.

Additionally, I'll need to monitor my own needs and balance them against the needs of my family. That will mean less time alone for me, but I also need to not be afraid to ask for it if and when I need it. The key for me is going to be recognizing that and making sure that I don't wait until I've over extended myself and perhaps become harsh in my communication. To aide me in that I've already thought through how that might be accomplished and arrived on a couple of areas where I can retreat for a bit to unwind and recharge. Thankfully in our planning to be home for the foreseeable future, my husband had the insight to encourage me to buy some plants for our balcony to make it more inviting, and even went as far as to go ahead an make a purchase of some more comfortable chairs. They were already on our list of things to buy for our transition to life on the road (which has obviously been delayed), but he felt it would be good to go ahead and get them now since the chairs we currently have are pretty, but not particularly comfortable. I'm thankful for his insight and willingness to make this happen. It's a perfect example of being sensitive to each other's needs during this time.

I'm sure there are many more things that will come to mind as the days and weeks progress. Even my amped up cleaning routine is an act of service to my family, another way of "bringing the Kingdom down". And I am certain there are some things that will reveal themselves as our needs arise. As I said, we can't control the circumstances in the world today, we can only do our best to make our homes a haven of rest.

Do you have any suggestions? What changes have you made, and how are you adjusting your schedules and expectations to meet the challenge? I'd love to hear your thoughts! We're all in this together friends, so lets encourage each other on! Let's do our best bring the Kingdom into the days and weeks ahead!  I'll be checking back in with updates, and I'd love to hear from you!

Until then,

Sunday, March 8, 2020

All Of Life And Love

Let there be within these phantom walls
Beauty where the hearth fire's shadow falls . . .
Quiet pictures, books, and welcoming chairs . . .
Music that the very silence shares. . .
Kitchen windows curtained blue and white . . .
Shelves and cupboards built for my delight . . .

Little things that lure and beckon me

With their tranquil joy, and let there be
Lilt of laughter-swift forgotten tears
Woven through the fabric of the years. . .
Strength to guard me, eyes to answer mine
Mutely clear. And though without may shine
Stars of dawn or sunset's wistful glow,
All of life and love my house shall show.

~ Catherine Parmenter Newell

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Blessing The Weekend

Back in December I took a course, Hibernate, with the lovely Heather Bruggeman of North Ridge Farm. If you're not familiar with Heather's blog then I invite you to skip this post for now, pour yourself a cup of something warm and settle in for awhile and peruse her offerings. I've learned so much from Heather over the years, and I hope to be just like her when I grow up!  This is the third class I've taken, and I always learn so much in the time spent gleaning from her wisdom and expertise. I can't praise her classes enough! They are all just so good and I highly recommend taking one, or two!

In the last session of Hibernate, Heather spoke about Blessing The Weekend, a ritual that came about during the years when she was homeschooling her daughter.. Like many homeschooling families, Friday's were a half day, and once they finished with their lessons, they would spend a few hours tidying the home, maybe making up a quick pan of brownies, or.a pot of soup and a few other quick, easy meals. The objective here being to cut down on time spent in the kitchen. She emphasized that she likes to cook, but she also like not having too, as well, and that by  the taking the time to do a little prepping on Friday afternoons, you can easily have one or two meals and snacks ready to carry you through until Monday. Fast food, but at significantly less cost and better for you!

Another thing she did are what I like to refer to as "cozy chores". Changing the sheets on the bed, dusting off furniture, making up a lovely bouquet of flowers for the table. Anything that freshens the space and make things warm and inviting, "cozying up", as I like to say. None of this takes very long at all, especially if you enlist help. But even it its just you, typically within an hour or two you've set the stage o spend intentional time with your family and just be together.

Reading Heather's words reminded me of the Jewish practice of Shabbat, or what I refer to as sabbath. In Jewish homes Shabbat (pronounced SHAH-BAHT or some communities, SHAH-BIS, is a weekly twenty five hour observance that begins just before sundown each Friday and through the completion of nightfall on Saturday. It is a day of physical and spiritual delights highlighting key concept of the Jewish faith. Preparations begin as early as mid-week. As no work is to be done during this time, meals must be prepared ahead of time (similar to what Heather shared), and the observance begins with the a candle lighting ceremony which I think is just lovely and have long intended to incorporate into my own sabbath observance. Jewish tradition mandates three specific shabbat meals, and in addition to special foods, the family spends time singing, studying and celebrating together.
Now I know at this point some of you may be thinking, "Well, this all sounds lovely, but our kids are involved in soccer on the weekend, there's yard work to do, and preparations to be made for church on Sunday.", and let me assure you, I hear you loud and clear! In her book Rhythms of Rest, Shelly Miller shared this thought; "The sabbath isn't about resting perfectly, it's about resting in the one who is perfect." The important thing is not how much time you are able to devote to rest and being together, but that you are intentional about setting aside some time every weekend, to make space to be together. If you still don't see how that might be possible, let me offer a few suggestions.
Begin planning  mid-week for the upcoming weekend. Think through what activities you already have scheduled and then determine how much time you have to devote to rest and relaxation. Mark that time slot off in your calendar so that as you receive invitations you'll already have it reserved. And don't be discouraged if at first you find you can only squeeze in a couple of hours. It also might even take a little encouragement to get other members of the family on board with the idea, but once you begin my guess is you'll enjoy it so much, everyone will want more and before you know you'll be willing to sacrifice more to have this time together.

When doing your weekly meal planning, take this time into consideration. If you don't want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen, then take a cue from Heather an make up a bit pot of soup or stew that can be enjoyed all weekend. If your budget affords, plan a special meal out, or if the weather is nice, go on a picnic. Maybe you want to bake something together, so take time to do a quick inventory and make sure you have all of the ingredients. Nothing spoils time together like someone having to rush off to the store for eggs or sugar.

Think of other things that will encourage spending time together. Go through the board games in your closet and set out a few favorites. Maybe a deck of cards? Plan a trip to the library together to pick up a few books or maybe a dvd the whole family can watch. But aside from television and maybe a movie, I would recommend you try to limit screen time.This is a time for intentionally being together. You could go on a hike, visit a museum, work on a puzzle. The possibilities are endless, so be creative.

And finally, set the stage. It's hard to be together and not be distracted if the family room is overrun with toys, there's a stack of dirty dishes in the kitchen, the floors need sweeping, you get the picture. It doesn't have to be perfect, but if you take the time to tidy things up it makes for a much more inviting and relaxing atmosphere. I like to change the sheets on our bed on Fridays so that after a day of fun everyone has a clean, comfy bed to crawl in to. Another element that is a must in our home is candlelight. And though I don't follow the the ceremony associated with Shabbat.(though I'd like to), it's such an important piece that it's really become the cue. Any time my family comes in to finds candles lit, twinkle lights glowing, and soft music playing (usually some light jazz), I can almost watch the stress from the day wash from their faces, and they are instantly engaged and ready. Setting aside time for rest and for intentionally being together is just the anecdote you and your family need for recovering from the madness and business of the world.

To help you brainstorm through your own sabbath weekend, or weekend hours, with your family, I've created a little printable, of course, **wink**. And again, don't be discouraged if at first you can't find much time to carve out, or if it takes you a few tries before you find your rhythm and figure to what works best. I've allowed space for you to muddle through those thoughts until it becomes a natural and regular part of your routine.  Just click on the link below to download your free copy!

In closing I want to leave you with this lovely passage from one of my favorite children's books, All of a Kind Family.

"At home, the kitchen was warm with the smell of fresh baked white bread. The room sparkled with cleanliness. The table, which wore only an oilcloth covering all through the week, now had a snowy white tablecloth. On it stood the brass candlesticks, gleaming brightly from the polishing that Ella and Sarah had given them the ay before. They were just in time to see Mama saying the prayer over the candles.

The children stood around the table watching her. A lovely feeling of peace and contentment seemed to flow out from Mama to them. First she put a napkin on her head, then placing four white candles in the brass candlesticks, she lit them. She extended her arms to form a circle. One the lighted candles the encircling gesture was repeated. After that Mama covered her eyes with her hands softly murmuring a prayer in Hebrew.

This was Sabbath ushered in."

- Sydney Taylor

To learn more about Shabbat prayers, visit this page.

Thursday, March 5, 2020

The Ordinary Days of Small Things Spring Playlist


It Might As Well Be Spring
Shirley Jones

April in Paris
Doris Day

It Happens Every Spring
Frank Sinatra

Spring Is Here
The King Sisters

Spring, Spring, Spring
Jane Powell

I'll Remember April
Julie London

You Make Me Feel So Young
Frank Sinatra

Younger Than Springtime
Nancy Sinatra

Some Other Spring
Billie Holiday

April In My Heart
Billie Holiday

Paris Is At Her Best In May
Samme Davis Jr.

I'll Remember April
Bobby Darin

Spring Is Here
Anita O'Day

It Happens Every Spring
Kay Starr

After All, It's Spring
Peggy Lee

We'll Gather Lilacs In The Spring
Frank Sinatra

Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most
Ella Fitzgerald

There'll Be Another Spring
Peggy Lee

Easter Parade: Happy Easter
Judy Garland

April Showers
Bing Crosby

Little April Showers - From "Bambi"
Amy Lou Barnes

Let's Spring On
Nat King Cole

Lost April
Nat King Cole Trio

April Love
Pat Boone

When April Comes Again
Mel Torme

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

The Easter Day Keeper - Spring Supplement

I've put together a little supplement to the Spring Day Keeper that focuses on the upcoming days of the Easter season.  Embellished with vintage easter graphics and filled with lovely quotes referring to the season, this supplement will make a wonderful addition to your planning and organization needs. With plenty of room for brainstorming how you are celebrating the season, what traditions and recipes you'll be using, as well as a sheet dedicated to putting together the perfect Easter outfit for each member of your family (just print out as many copies of this page as you need), you'll go into the season feeling prepared and ready!  It's available for **FREE** , just click on the link below!

Monday, March 2, 2020

Spring Quarter Phenology Wheels

I'm a few days late on getting these up and posted, but hopefully it won't be too much trouble to go back and fill in the first few days of March!  Just click on the link below to download your free copy!

Sunday, March 1, 2020

With The Blare of Heaven's Trumpets

The Memorial Garden - Blackwater Creek Trail, Lynchburg, VA

"March begins with the blare of heaven's trumpets. Wind stirred into life by the radiant warmth of the young sun, lashes the budding trees.  As if in keeping with March's martial airs, the night sky announces Auriga, the charioteer. Auriga clatters across the northern skies behind a team of goats led by Capela, a bright star thought by the Greeks to be Almathea, the young she-goat who suckled Zeus as a baby. Young Zeus, unaware of his strength, reached out to grasp Almathea's horn and snapped it off. As reparation, he transformed her lost horn into a magical endless source of food and drink, the cornucopia.

The month's old Saxon name was Hrethmonath, "rough month", after the boisterous winds. The Dutch called it Lentmaand, "the time of Lent". In more ancient days March's winds competed with the bray of martial trumpets which signaled the start of Roman military operations after a winter hiatus and still bears the name of the god of war, mighty, merciless, Mars.

Roman tradition held that Mars with the father of Romulus, and actually instructed him in the creation of the first Roman calendar. Romulus then honored his father by making his month the first of the year. Since the Romans prided themselves on being a nation of sturdy farmers, Mars was also the patron saint of those who tilled the land.

The month and all born in it belonged to that terrible god, who blood red planet was said to drive men to carnage.  The Compost of Ptholomeus, and early almanac from the Middle Ages, claims that unto Mars . . .

"is borne thieves and robbers, nyght walkers and quarrel pikers, boasters, mockers and scoffers and these men of Mars causer war and murther and battle. They will be gladly smythes or workers of iyron, lyers, great swearers."

For a long time, as we have seen, the Roman's celebrated their new year not on the first of January, but in March. Spring had come, and the sere days of winter were already fading into memory. During March the lambs arrived, quivering with hope, and the planting that would bring the next year's harvest was cast into the fields. The arrival of March was good news.

The murder of Julius Caesar changed all that, and gave March a bloody hue. After the assassination, its ides, the fifteenth, became, and thanks largely to William Shakespeare, remains an uneasy watchword for imminent danger.

March is a time of delayed pleasure. Spring still dances over the distant hills, taunting those who have kept faith in spite of all appearances. The month opens in wintry Lenten gloom, but soon seems to soften towards Easter. River ice melts and robins return. The whispered promise of the sun at winter solstice takes full voice as the creeks slowly thaw, and the hard loam melts into butter. Then, suddenly, a bitter wind kills early buds, and the lakes which seemed only days away from welcoming swimmers, harden with new ice. March tests our faith. It can summon all the bluster of its namesake to convince huddled mortals, that the power of winter, like that of any tyrant, is not soon or lightly surrendered. On a night in late March the wind can blow with a force unfelt all winter. Fear not. Beneath the angry skies fragile as parchment but irresistible as time crocuses push their shafts up through the damp earth."

from The Dance of Time
by Michael Judge

March 2020

Saturday, February 29, 2020

The Beauty of Lent

"Once a year, on a Wednesday, we mix ashes with oil. We light candles and confess to one another and to God that we have sinned, by what we have done and what we have left undone. We tell the truth. Then we smear the ashes on our foreheads and together acknowledge the single reality upon which every catholic and protestant, believer and atheist, scientist and mystic can agree;

"Remember that thou art dust, and to dust thou shalt return."

It's the only thing we know for use. We will die.

"Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust."

But a long time ago a promise was made. A prophet named Isaiah said a messenger would come to proclaim good news to the poor and brokenhearted. To bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.

"Those who once repented in ashes will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the  display of His splendor." - Isaiah 61:3

We could not become like God, so He became like us. God showed us how to heal instead of kill, how to mend instead of destroy, how to love instead of hate, how to live instead of long for more. When we nailed Jesus to a tree, God forgave. And when we buried His Son in the ground, He rose."

- Rachel Held Evans

How I Observe Ash Wednesday
This past Wednesday was Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of Lent. I've observed this day and season for a number of years now, but not being Catholic, it looks a little different for me. As a protestant I believe that because of the blood of Christ, I have direct access to God through prayer, thus eliminating the need for a priest. That being said, I certainly respect differing beliefs, and I would love it if one day I was able to actually attend mass on Ash Wednesday and receive the ashes, but to be honest, aside from my own humble observance I have little knowledge of whether that would even be possible. But as the observance of the Year of the Lord is something I hold dear, I've conducted my own simple service in the privacy of my home for several years now.

While palms are traditionally burned to form the ashes for Ash Wednesday, I am not even sure where to find palms? In their absence, I traditionally have kept a bit of greenery from the previous Christmas season to form mine. It seems fitting to me as Christmas is the observance of Christ's birth, to use them to make the ashes in observance of the forty days leading up to His crucifixion and resurrection.

This year I was little limited as to how to go about burning the greenery. In our downsizing we are currently living in an apartment and our landlord doesn't allow open flames on the property. But after a some contemplation, I decided the little that I needed to burn wouldn't pose a threat, though I was still careful. I just used a tin can that I'd set aside and broke off some twigs and dropped in the match. It made a pretty good flame and looked like it was burning well. I allowed it to cool for awhile and then poured it out into a bowl, but was disappointed to discover that not much of it had burned and there were a lot of green needles mixed in with the burned pieces. That made getting to the pure ash a little difficult, but thankfully I managed to collect enough to mix with a few drops of olive oil to make a paste.

It is likewise tradition to draw the sign of the cross on your forehead, but as I have bangs I can never see it, and so I usually place it on my hand instead. It's still visible to others if I happen to be out, but more importantly, to me. I find the reminder helps to keep me more focused on the meaning and symbolism of the day. I give something up every year, though in recent years I haven't discussed it much it and keep it more personal. When the girls were young they participated with me and we would always talk through what we were giving up as they often needed guidance. But now that it's just me these observances have become more personal.

If you'v never observed Ash Wednesday and you are interested you can learn more here.  If you are protestant, as I am, and your church does not observe Ash Wednesday, you can easily create your own service as I have. I do a little differently every year, and this year was probably the simplest observance I've conducted yet as the lack of being able to burn the ashes presented a bit of a challenge. Typically I have a large amount of ashes that I keep in a pretty cut glass jar and sit out as a reminded thoughout the season. But for some reason I can't seem to put my hands on the little jar, and since the burn was a bit of a fail anyway, that hasn't happened. I may try again as the season of Lent lasts for 40 days, and I do still have some greenery, but I'll have to figure out how to get it to burn more evenly and that might make a larger flame and I need be discreet.

I'll be sharing more about the season of Lent over the next few weeks, so if you're interested I hope you'll follow along!

Saturday, February 22, 2020

A Considered Childhood

I've made mention in various posts that I've written, that we homeschooled our children. Those years, spanning from 1991 through 2018, so that's 28 YEARS!, were some of the happiest of my life.

As you can well imagine, with that came a lot of knowledge, and since our baby graduated in 2018 I've missed sharing our adventures, in particular the many wonderful ideas and resources that we came across over the years. There is just so much out there, especially in light of my earlier days when the internet was essentially non-existent. With that, I've collected and kept a good amount of that, and I would now like to pass it on "to the next generation", so to speak, or to anyone who still finds themselves in the midst of that glorious, crazy, often messy life that is homeschooling!

Thankfully most of what I have to share is still archived in a separate blog. and while I considered just moving those posts here, I felt that it confused the overall theme of Ordinary Days.  There are so many posts already archived there, it just made more sense to revive it. I did take a little time this morning to update the graphics and color palette to more closely match this blog, and I'm rather pleased with it. Hopefully I'll be able to resist the temptation to tinker with it. I don't think maintaining it will be difficult as there are posts spanning several years just waiting to see the light of day again. Of course I'll have to check the links to make sure they are not outdated, but I don't think that will be too difficult, at least that's my hope. As my book and this blog are my primary focus, I need for this to be easy. Maybe if a post is too link heavy I'll just choose not to share it or save it for a time when I can update it. Anyway, the nuts and bolts of it and the work on my end isn't really as important as I feel sharing the information is. So with that, just click the link to. . . .

My plan is to post one post each day from the archives. A lot of the posts reference Charlotte Mason as that was primarily the philosophy we followed, though I did take liberties so if you're a CM purist, please don't judge! :). Hopefully you'll find something in this treasure trove I've curated, and if you do, please let me know!

From one homeschool mom to another,

Friday, February 21, 2020

What's Making Me Happy Right Now!

I am a sucker for signing up to receive emails, and to be honest I don't read half of them. Typically I will see a free resource that I just have to have which almost always requires a subscription, and the next thing I know my inbox is filled with inspiring articles and resources that I do-not-have-time-to-read! I am sure they are wonderful, but alas, there are not enough hours in the day! Oh what I wouldn't give for "want my wonderful free resource?, just click here, no subscription required! This is all spurred on, of course, by the experts and their ideas about the acceptable number of subscribers needed to be considered successful. Personally, I'm glad I'm choosing to ignore them. For now, if I offer something for free, you only get what you choose to download! I hope I never feel forced to succumb! :)

That being said, Gretchen Rubin has an email/newsletter, I'm not sure what they are called, but of the hundred or more I seem inclined to wade through, hers is one that LOVE and that I do take time to read. It's called 5 Things Making Me Happy This Week, and if you are a sucker like me, you can subscribe here. Reading her offerings typically inspires me to think back through my week to all the things I encountered that make me happy as well, and so I've decided (at least for today, I'm not sure this will become a regular thing), to share my ** HAPPY THINGS ** as well, in no particular order.!

In the picture above, my pretty stash of yarn in all my favorite colors makes me happy just looking at it! I've got plans for a couple of projects coming up soon, so I'll be sure to share pics as I progress!
I made a lot of progress on my book! I am still in the research stage, but I was able to. devote several days to it this week, even though that was because I wasn't feeling well. I have a kidney stone that rears its ugly head now and then, but, thankfully aided by my arsenal of hydrangea root, lemon water and ACV, it has gone back into hiding! During those lovely days of leisure, I played around with adding some color to my proposed cover and I am REALLY liking the way it looks, especially since it kind of ties it to my blog! What do you think?
And speaking of research. I picked this little gem up from the library last week. Since I am writing a book about creating and making memories, I thought  it would be a good idea if I had a little better understanding of how they are formed! This has been quite insightful and I am enjoying every minute of it! Highly recommend!

Also, though I don't have any pictures, yet, I put together a little planner this week. Very simple and srtaight forward, not too overwhelming but that I am hoping will also help me keep up with things a little better.

"If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands! "

I also came across a file I had downloaded some time ago, Kelsey Van Kirk's publication, Uncovering Your Core Values. I am linking to the podcast, but unfortunately the workbook that is linked appears to no longer be available. So, if its something that interests you then maybe contact Kelsey directly to see if there is still a way to get it. Anyway, thankfully I did download it some time ago but I am just now getting around to working through it. I'm planning to write a more detailed post some time next week discussing this, but for now I discovered that my core values are.

- Spirituality
- Childlike Faith
- Living Intentionally
- Order
- Knowledge
- Creativity
- Exploration

Like I said, I'll unpack that a little more in another post, but it was very though provoking and an insightful exercise and if you can find something similar, I highly recommend it!

And finally to wrap this up, I signed up for a free one week trial of the Boomerang channel through Amazon Prime and I've been enjoying watching old episodes of The Flinstones and The Jetsons over lunch this week. I don't think I'll keep, though. It's only $5.99 a month, but my free three month trial of Spotify Premium is nearing its end, as well as Kindle Unlimited. I don't think I'll continue with Kindle Unlimited, at least for now. I like the idea, but lets be honest, I haven't read half the books I paid for and downloaded, why do I need unlimited???? I do LOVE Spotify premium, so I'm keeping that, and I already subscribe to the PBS channel through Prime and that's a no-brainer. I think I've got plenty to keep me occupied!  

So what about you, what's making you happy this week?  Are you a sucker for email subscriptions like me?  And what services do you think are worth paying for and don't want to live without? I'm almost afraid to ask . . . .

Until then, 

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Sentimental Sunday - Old Country Kitchen

Some of my fondest memories from childhood took place in a kitchen. Sadly, I don't have pictures of either of my grandmother's kitchens, and while neither of them looked anywhere near as polished and nice as the images shown below, there are elements in each of them that conjure fond memories.

This first image reminds me more of my paternal grandmother's kitchen, though it lacks the slanting floor, a problem that I now realize was likely due to a crumbling foundation. My grandparents never seemed poor to me, but looking back now, I suppose they were. But that never stopped my grandmother from making things lovely, and in spite of their lack, everything was always clean and welcoming.
The image below reminds me more of my maternal grandmother's, though again, it was never this modern or pristine. It's the tall white cabinets that caught my eye, though hers were wood and these appear a bit more modern. What I really noticed is how tall they appear. And while childhood memories can often be deceiving, what I seem to remember was that they stretched high up on the wall and I often wondered how she ever got to anything that was stored on the upper shelves. Perhaps they were not as tall as I recall in my memory. She didn't have a fancy bar like the one shown in the picture, but there was a small table in the corner where my grandfather took his breakfast every morning, and if my memory serves me correctly it was one of those vintage formica tables that were so popular in the 50's. My parents had something similar. There was a larger table in the dining room that we gathered around every holiday. I can still see her traditional jello salad and dressing, which my mother insisted always had too much sage, adorning the table.
I treasure these memories, not only of the places, but more importantly the people who occupied them. Of the wonderful aroma of freshly baked gingerbread that greeted me often on trips to see my paternal grandmother, and of bacon frying in the skillet for my grandpa's breakfast when we went to visit my mom's side of the family. This poems depict some of those sentiments, and my mind was flooded with them the moment I read it.

The moment that you went inside,
Some fragrance came to greet you there,
New applesauce with cinnamon,
The scent of fresh bread on the air;

Johnnycake or gingerbread,
Mincemeat's simmering spicy smell,
And from the cellar's fragrant bins,
Apple breath in dark stairwell;

Checkerberry, balsams mint,
Baking beans in earthen pot,
Molasses, candy, lavender
Sadironed linens sweetly hot;

Hint of sage or caraway,
A potluck supper's savory steam,
Corn popping over glowing coals,
And birchwood smell, sweet as a dream.

- Ruth B. Field

Just for fun, I came across a few books at the Internet Archives that reflect upon the memories we hold of our grandmothers. I'm sure flipping through the pages will evoke memories for you as well.

All The Good Habits I Learned From Grandma
by Laurel Seilor Brunvoll

Grandmother's Are To Love
by Lois Wyse

The Wonderful World of Grandmother's

And finally, I want to direct you to these cookbooks by Jane Watson Hopping.  Her books have been among my favorites over the years, both for their recipes and for the lovely memoirs and poems that are scattered throughout. If you aren't familiar with her works, then I encourage to borrow a volume from the archives and sit back and enjoy! There are two other books in the series, which are actually my favorites, and while I thought I had them in my collection, I can't seem to put my finger on them at the moment. But if you like the ones I've listed and want to try track the other two titles down, they are The Pioneer Lady's Country Christmas, and The Pioneer Lady's Hearty Winter Cookbook, and if I do happen to come across them again, I'll be sure to let you know.

The Pioneer Lady's Kitchen
by Jane Watson Hopping
A Seasonal Treasury of Time Honored American Recipes

The Country Mother's Cookbook
A Celebration of Motherhood and Old Fashioned Cooking

The Lazy Days of Summer Cookbook
A Celebration of Summer's Bounty
by Jane Watson Hopping

The Many Blessings Cookbook
A Celebration of Harvest, Home and Country Cooking
by Jane Watson Hopping

Friday, February 14, 2020

Seasonal Observation Calendars - Spring 2020

Today I wanted to share another resource that you could use along side the Season Keeper which will be available to download next Tuesday, February 18.

In all of our years of homeschooling, nature study was by far one of our favorite subjects. Since then I've keep various nature journals of my own, but nothing as involved as in earlier years. A few years ago I developed the format I sharing here with your today, though admittedly, I've failed to use it as much as I would have liked, I'm going to **try** to remember to be more intentional about documenting the things I see in nature now that we are about to turn the corner and head into spring.

The idea is to document your sightings by printing (though it would have to be rather small), or sketching a small picture into each square on the coinciding day. Don't worry if you aren't artistically inclined, no one has to see this but you, so please don't let that deter you! The calendar portion is not numbered so that you could easily use these year after year which is part of what makes keeping such a record so fun! Comparing your journal to previous years and noting if spring was early or late to arrive, when you first spotted a robin, the date of the last snowfall, are all intriguing, at least it is for me! Since the squares are small it keeps things from being too involved and time consuming, but in case you do want to include a little more detail, I've included a notes section at the bottom for just that purpose!

If you've never kept a nature journal there are oodles of ideas on the internet, just google "keeping a nature journal", but you might want to pour yourself a cup of coffee first, because it could keep you intrigued for hours. These forms are just one of many and you may find something more to your liking and that is fine, but since I made them up for myself, I decided to share! Just click the links below for a closer look and to download your own copy!

~ Enjoy

Thursday, February 13, 2020

What We Keep - It Came To Me In A Dream

I may be getting a little ahead of myself here, but honestly this is just how my mind words, I often work with the end in mind, and when things such as what I am about to share with you happen, you sit up and take notice, at least, I do!

I mentioned in a few previous posts that I am writing a book, and when I say I am writing a book, I mean I eat, sleep and breathe every aspect of this process. True to my nature (since childhood), I take inspiration from almost everything. But with that, it  has made narrowing down the topics I want to cover a bit challenging. I mean, this is a book, not an encyclopedia! So now I'm already thinking that there might need to be a second book, maybe even more. But now I'm really getting ahead of myself.

As I said, my mind is literally filled with thoughts of this book, almost 24/7, and that includes my dreams. And last night. . . I had one. I dreamed that my book had been picked up by a large publishing house, and just like Jo in Little Women, a package arrived in the mail with the first copy, it was even wrapped in brown paper, but let a girl dream, ok? And as you might have guessed, when I opened it up, this was what I dreamed the cover looked like. The other images you see on the side were on the inside of the front and back cover, and in my dream I just swooned and cried! So you can bet that at 5:30 a.m. this morning, this is what I was busy creating. I even had to hunt down the font I used for the title because nothing I had in my collection was close enough to what I dreamed.

The funny thing is, I don't even want my book to be picked up by a publisher. That was never my goal. But this isn't wasted on me, either. I'm a firm believer in the Holy Spirit speaking to us in our dreams, it happened throughout the bible. And since I've felt inspired beyond my own aspirations from the beginning , I can't deny the reason for this happening. If I was already excited about writing this, I think that has now doubled! Because of the way my mind is wired I almost needed to see the end result in order to know how to proceed. I don't know if other writers work that way, but this has been the process for me. In a way, though the actual work isn't completed, being able to see this is helping me understand how the rest of it will come together. It's brought clarity that I didn't know until now was lacking. Up to now it's been a bit scattered and I was worried that in the end I wouldn't know how to make it all fit, and the truth is, it may NOT all fit, which is fine, because as I mentioned previously, now I'm thinking I've got more than one book in me!

Living in your calling is such a beautiful thing, because when the Lord instills a gift in you, He likewise will guide you in that gifting if only you take the time to listen. I'm so grateful for this opportunity, and to be able to leave this for my children and their children to come. It's the reason I do what I do. ❤︎

Until then,

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Establishing A Restoring Rhythm

"Because how we spend our days is, of course,  how we spend our lives."


During the years when we were homeschooling, keeping a routine was pretty simple. I had every hour and minute of our day mapped out and carefully planned, including quiet time for myself every morning and for everyone in the afternoon. Meals were prepared, the house got cleaned and the laundry was washed, dried and put away. Looking back I'm not even sure how I managed, but oddly enough during the busiest years of my life, I was the most organized.

But since Kate finished school, my days have lacked structure.  At first, it didn't bother me that much, in fact, it seemed silly to think that they should. After all, I really don't have that much to keep up with anymore. I've continued on, doing all the things I'd always done, albeit haphazardly, but in the end its left me feeling overwhelmed. I've written on this topic a couple of times now, as I've been struggling with this for awhile. And yet for all of my efforts I still haven't come up with a plan that sticks. I bought a planner but ended up not liking the layout. So then I did what I always did when we homeschooled and made my own, but as I said, with so little to manage it seemed silly to devote an entire planner to the two or three things that need to be completed each day. I could accomplish that with post it notes!, I thought, and for awhile I did resort to 3x5 cards, but that didn't work, either. And yet, without a system in place those 2-3 things that seemed so easy to manage quickly becomes four or five which leads to two or three of them not getting done. Can you see my dilemma? Clearly something has to give!

Even as we are downsizing and transitioning to taking our life out on the road, I know that I am going  to need some semblance of structure in order for things to run smoothly. It really doesn't matter "where" I live, the important thing for me is to be intentional with my time, rather than reactive. We've downsized several times on this journey already from a large house, to a smaller house and now to an even smaller apartment. And if there's one thing I've learned its the smaller the space, the easier it is to quickly become cluttered. Every thing needs a place, and to maintain that, every task must be planned and completed. Clean sheets, laundry, meals, they are all important, as is taking time for doing things that I enjoy such as writing and crafting, and none of this is changed by the size of the space in we live. In fact, living on the road and traveling all over this beautiful country, I am sure that I'm going to want to allow for even more spontaneity, and that is why establishing routines is so important. Routines are a way of organizing your time so that you can be more spontaneous, the more organized you are, the more spontaneous you can be. It sounds backwards, but I'm discovering that its really not.

Of course, I'm not suggesting that it be rigid, either. We're talking structure here, a scaffolding that allows for plenty of room to breathe, not metal bars that restrain and hinder. Simply put, I need a sense of knowing what needs to be done in a given day, and then to do it, which will then make room for the things that I truly enjoy. I think that by having a routine in place and certain tasks assigned to certain days I will be less likely to procrastinate, and I do tend to procrastinate at times. Even at my age, I'm like a child that wants to eat my dessert first! By following an established routine, hopefully I won't try to negotiate with myself and waste precious time trying to decide whether to do it now or do it later. If I have a routine and I know it's important then it gets done, end of argument.

Something else that I've discovered, or perhaps I'm now willing to admit is that its becoming harder for me to keep up with things. In addition to everything else, I'm also writing a book, so my mind is filled with a LOT of information! But with a routine and having things mapped out I can eliminate some of that brain clutter because the work will already be done for me, simply open my planner, turn to the day, move from one thing to the next and check it off. I did this for years when we homeschooled, and as I said at the beginning of this post, my days were smoother and more productive because I knew exactly what we were dedicating our time to. Of course, this doesn't mean that everything will be perfect or that there will never be interruptions, but at least by thinking through my days it will be easier to see where I can re-arrange things when the unexpected crops up. Routine restores rhythm!
So where to begin? Well, as you might imagine I've been doing a lot of reading and research on the subject and I've come across some really good questions to help me get started.

1. Know Yourself
Simply put, its important to know if you're a morning person or a night person, and I am definitely a morning person! So much so that I typically rise two to three hours before anyone else, but with that it also means that whatever I choose to do in that time, needs to be pretty self contained and on the quieter side. I'm usually pretty energetic until around noon to 2:00 p.m., but after that my energy starts to fade quickly.

★ 2. Set the Day Up The Night Before
Even though I've tried before with little success, my goal is to put together a simple planner with specific tasks assigned to each day. (I'll be sharing pictures soon!). But I know that inevitably other things are going to creep in, and that's why I think taking a few minutes to review my planner either at the end of the day or maybe an hour before bed will help. In the past I've made plans for each day, but then once everything was checked off I forgot about it. Ok, lets be honest, sometimes I even forgot about and never checked a thing off! A tool is only good if you use it, right?  So first, using and then reviewing the plan at the end of the day sounds good. So often what happens is Bill might need my help with something the next day, I am obviously willing, but give little thought to the tasks that were scheduled or how and when they will get done. Once I got a phone call while I was out running errands to reschedule an appointment for the next and because I didn't write it down, I missed it and ended up having to wait several more weeks for another. Yes, it's high time I established the habit of writing things down.

I am also prone to jumping on my phone or computer first thing every morning, initially to check the time, or because my devotional is on my bible app, but then a notification comes through and I get distracted. So that has me re-thinking my quiet time, or sacred start, as I prefer to call it, and eliminating the need for electronics. I'm thinking if I set up a pretty spot  the night before it will be more eliminate the need for my phone!

★ 3. Be Flexible!
I'll admit, I struggle in this area, primarily because I honestly think I have adult onset ADD, but then don't we all in this day and age? What I do know is that flexibility often leads to distraction and things not getting done. But I **think** that's because without a system in place, I've been relying solely on my brain to keep up with everything. If I have things written down and something comes up then hopefully it will be easier to manage by just moving them to a different day or time. This is another example of how structure allows for flexibility.

★ 4. Don't Beat Yourself Up
And I really need to heed this! Establishing new habits, routines and rhythms takes time, and in the beginning, especially, it's not going to be easy.That very thought is often what trips me up because my goal IS to make things easier, but I need to remember that it's all trial and error. I should know this after all my 20+ years of homeschooling as there was seldom a day that went EXACTLY as I had planned it on paper. Some days everything got derailed, and that will happen again and it's ok. It will take time while to figure out how well things translate from paper to real life, and it might mean thatt some things will need to be revised. In fact, I'm sure of it. But hopefully by sticking close to the sequence, routine will eventually flow into rhythm and become second nature. That's the goal, anyway!

This week I'm going to be working on setting up a simple planner. I've decided against spending hours creating forms and printing things that may not function as I thought they would and wasting all of that time, not to mention the paper and ink! My initial idea is just pencil and paper, though I will have dividers and I'll probably make a little effort to make a pretty cover with some scrapbook paper. Once I find a plan that works (**fingers crossed**), then I'll think towards being more creative. I'm also going to be working through what I want my morning and evening routines to look like, and I'll be sharing them as well.

If you struggle with routines and rhythms as I do, then I hope you'll be encouraged and feel free to offer you ideas, suggestions and what have worked for you!

Until then,