Posts in Autumn
Make It Monday: Enjoy it


Happy Monday, friends!! Those of us in the Pars Caeli family are off on an adventure.

Guess what we're making today? Happy memories. We're treasuring the time we've been given and the joys of life. Sometimes these two things are not so easy to do amidst the busyness and stresses of life. And for some of us Mondays can be the hardest day of the week to have a lens of gratitude.

We'll be focusing on Thanksgiving with a big and small T this week with a few guests stopping over to make your day. Hope you'll stop back over!!

Until then, I'm wishing you moments of treasured joys.


A tri- to try

Oh, friends, today is the official Chaos Never Dies day of the year, and I'm feeling it. How about you? Perhaps the other two celebrations this weekend will bring about a sense of purpose and grounding with Forget Me Not day on Saturday and Veterans Day on Sunday. Grateful to those who have suffered and fought on our behalf.



Erika from Foxtrot Press and Studio put some great 2013 letterpress calendars all in one place for us to drool over. Thanks, Erika!! The depth on that Satsuma Press calendar... gorgeous. Looks like it's time to plan ahead for a wonderful year.


Jessica from How About Orange featured this project on pie chart necklaces. Wait! Don't skim over this. Go check out her final product and tell me that they would not be a super cool addition to your accessories.

Putting it on the to do... and maybe the gift list this year.


Oh, I just love this DIY. So simple and yet so unique. I can imagine a whole line of messages that you leave and light for the one you love. Or the suggestion of putting quotes from a favorite read for a bookclub gathering sounds fantastic. Thanks to Gabrielle at DesignMom for bringing it our way.

The Pars Caeli family is will be savoring life in a special way next week. I've got all sorts of goodness headed your way. I hope you'll stop back often and leave some comment love for a few fab friends who are heading our way.

Until then, friends, let's have a bright weekend!



Happy Kiddos: What do you take?

As noted in my Simple Tuesday post yesterday (and also noted, I love donuts), the Pars Caeli fam is taking a little break. Ahhhh. I won't claim that we have great need in a world of Hurricane victims and other such devastation. But, I will say that this five-some, well, we could use a time away, a bit of time at play.

We're headed off to a land of imagination, to spend some time with mice and princesses, and mostly just spend a lot of time focusing on laughing, wondering, and memorizing each other's faces (those little expressions change so quickly, I have to study every wrinkle).

There is something so magical about time separate from the ordinary of life, particularly something about time spent on vacation, that gives me the crystal clear focus that I long for on so many fuzzy, hurried days in the routine.

This is a return trip for us, almost two years ago to the week, and I'm excited to see how my kiddos will take in sites old and new, and how they'll share the experience with each other. I found our packing list from our last visit. It's a long document filled with reminders to pack diapers, wipes, baby food, and diaper cream. Oh, the overflowing stuff of babies!!

I'm headed on a flight with three little adventurers who will be pulling their own rolly suitcases, filled only at half capacity as they each plan ahead for the souvenirs that await the homeward journey with them. They are such wondrous companions.

I look forward to restful, complete nights of sleep (knock on wood), and hilarious hash and rehash moments with my hubby.

The chubby fingers and exhausted naps in the stroller will be missed, but they've paved the way for excited hand-holding skips to the front of the parade and quiet parent moments watching from benches.

Bring on the celebrations of all that is and is to come!


PS. Please pass along your recs if you have any must-see, must-dos!




Make It Monday: Treasured menus

Happy Monday, friends! How was the weekend? I hope the time change was easy on you. I was so delighted when my children woke me up at 6:45 on Sunday (I was prepared for a 5 am wake-up call).

I've got Thanksgiving on my mind. You? I'm just beginning the process of menu planning and decor prep. Since we moved into real life Pars Caeli (our home), we've been the hosts for Thanksgiving, inviting my in-laws and my parents as well as my grandma-in-law and my aunt on rotating years. My hubs handles the big bird, and I tackle the everything-else on the menu.

Do you save old menus? I'm kind of a fanatic about it for big family meals. I have our Thanksgiving and Easter menus and shopping lists from the last 10 years all tucked in a binder together. We have old favorites we repeat (that harvest stuffing is a must), and I try to rotate in some new, even trendy, treats every year. Many of these lists are on calendar planner pages or used envelopes, a few on lined paper or legal pads. Every year around this time I read through them and remember the tastes and delights of our years together.

We have a fun Thanksgiving tradition for all of our guests that I'll be sharing with you next Monday! Today, here is the special family recipe for an amazing stuffing that you'll enjoy for days and days after the turkey and family have left. It's adapted from a 10-year old recipe that Parade magazine published. My husband, mom, and I have made this together almost every Thanksgiving Eve, and the laughter and tears (from the onions) make the stuffing ever more savory.

Harvest Stuffing (that's a little piece of Heaven)

You'll need these to stuff a 15-18 lb turkey:

  • 2 T of vegetable oil
  • 4 C each chopped red onions and celery
  • 2 T minced garlic
  • 2 T dried thyme
  • 2 T dried sage
  • 2 Granny Smith apples, diced
  • 1.5 C each dried cranberries and dried apricots
  • 2 C chicken broth
  • 12 C cubed (1 in) bread, toasted

Heat your oil in a large pan, stir in the onions, celery, garlic, thyme, and sage. Cook over medium-low heat for 15 minutes. Add the bread and fruits. Toss well. Drizzle the broth over the mixture to moisten and season with salt and peppers. Be sure it's cool before stuffing it in the turkey!

So simple and tasty!

What's your Thanksgiving favorite?


A tri- to try you'll come back to

Hi friends. What a week, huh? Phew. I have some treasures to share with you that I think you'll be pinning, bookmarking, and digging for months to come... classics, if you will.

But before we go to those goodies, how about we break out the celebrations, huh? Today is All Souls Day or the Day of the Dead. Let's offer some prayers and party dances for those who have left this world before us! Tomorrow is National Sandwich Day and we'll be chowing down on a Pars Caeli staple, peanut butter and jelly. I'll take mine with raisins on it, please. Sunday, hows about you and I soak up the joy that is November as National Sleep Comfort Month, and hit that snooze button one more time?



You all know I've been loving the saturated hues of the fall leaves! I make daily trips to the backyard and around the neighborhood to gather the most amazing colors I can find. Unfortunately, you also know how the story goes when these leaves spend 24 hours inside... crunchy, brown mess. Somewhere in the way back of my head, I knew there was a way to preserve the colors and eliminate the mess. Sheri over at Donuts, Dresses, and Dirt has done it again and brought us the gift of everlasting autumn!! She got the original from Martha, of course, but simplified it and beautified it for you and me.


So your daughter or your nephew or your next door neighbor is troubled. Maybe it's a friend who's moving away or perhaps parents are separating. Maybe a pet has died or a loved one has passed? Tough situations find their way into our lives usually when we're not ready for them...or ready to articulate and explain them to our kiddos. This amazing list of children's books is a great resource for parents, teachers, and adults. Alison over at No Time for Flashcards has a whole host of other beauties you're going to want to review! Check out the comments section, too, for incredible adoption reads.


Have you done it yet? Moved over to the red lipstick camp? I'd always been a bit scared of the boldness (particularly for those of us with thin lips). However, I've recently taken the leap (I'm not going back) and now own two bright red hues. I loved this post from Camille Styles this week with all the nitty gritty details on how to wear red lips well. If you're the least bit nervous about it, or if you need a reference to return to...this is the one!

That's it from here, lovelies. Let's have a bright weekend.


Be Happy: Windows of Joy

Wishing all of our friends affected by Hurricane Sandy a hopeful start to November in the midst of challenges ahead. I felt a pang last night reading messages of delayed and canceled Halloweens (and much worse, of course).

Our evening was a full one. Temperatures here dipped into the forties and it rained a steady drizzle all day and night long. I dressed the kiddos in layers but the chill was still very much a part of the experience of Trick or Treat this year. We doled out 10 bags of candy for two hours, and my daughters had so much fun being the ones charged with giving out candy to our costumed neighbors from our front porch.

We ran through leaves, costumes covered by ski coats and fleeces, to every house in our neighborhood. It's funny how this silly holiday bring you eye-to-eye with people you haven't seen in ages or seasons and who live just a few steps away.

Honesty here, friends? Life is filled with stressors. Around us we've had a few major ones pop up in the last year, but those are not my stories to share. These stresses add weight to our shoulders and our hearts. Some moments are heavy.

I thrive on the windows of joy. They (and a great husband, kids, and my faith) get me through it. My children were so excited to see each open door last night and get another piece of candy for their bags and buckets. They giggled with our neighborhood children as to who would be brave enough to go up to that extra scary house.

I saw them work together, and bubble over with childhood joy, and soak up all that I've wished their childhoods to be.

For my part, I added a little silly. Mary Poppins has long been my favorite movie, and my kiddos now love it, too. Being silly with my little ones was a great way to spend the evening, and they loved that Mommy got into it WITH them.

Life can't always be filled with happiness. We have struggles that will challenge. We also have the gift of windows of joy, opened to us to reveal the Goodness that abounds.

It's the feast of All Saints today for Catholics, and we're grateful for the wonderful men and women who have come before us to show us what it means to live a good and holy life. They offer peeks into those windows, too.

Wishing you moments of joy for this November!


Happy Kiddos: Wordless(ish) Wednesday

Happy Halloween. We'll be battling the chilly temps and rain this evening with the same great neighbors with whom we've trick-or-treated for the last few years. It's a tradition now. For just one day I get to be practically perfect in every way. Can you guess my costume?

Are you dressing up today? Celebrating the festiveness of it all?

Last image, before the storm. Fabulous photos courtesy of my new guest photographer, my talented husband (taken specifically for blog purposes, so sweet).


Make It Monday: Not Making It

Happy Monday, friends! Did you know that Halloween is this week? If you live in our house, you could not NOT know because my younger daughter, C, has been announcing the countdown every morning. Yeah, she's excited to don her Belle costume with tiara and all.

Today's Make It Monday is a little different. First, I'd like to high five, hug, and congratulate all the mommas out there (and grandmas, aunts, and friends) who have worked and designed some beautiful costumes for their littles. Louise has made some gorgeous looks for her girls, and I know Sandra will be revealing her unicorn costume for the girl this week, too.

I'm the daughter of a momma who sewed my costumes all the way through middle school, and I was that child that always put forth a challenging idea. She put together Miss Piggy, Rudolph, a bunny rabbit, a mouse, a Hershey's kiss.. and many more. Part of the fun was thinking up something I didn't think I could find, and having it fit right to me by my very own mother. She's a talented lady.

When I became the momma, I took it as a personal challenge and a near-necessity that I sew my children's Halloween costumes. To many this is very normal, fairly easy, and happens like clockwork every fall.

For me, this was a process, over two months of work, and nothing close to easy. You see the first costumes I made for my girls. M was a dalmation pup her first trick or treat season, and C was the pumkin bunting I'd always wanted to sew.

For the first four years of motherhood, I sewed costumes. In fact, much of any free time in the Augusts, Septembers, and Octobers was found with me sitting on the couch, hand sewing each piece. My mom, in an effort to simplify my life, bought me a Singer sewing machine, but I always returned to the handstitch because I loved the feel of needle-and-thread creations.

When my oldest daughter turned five, she quickly turned into a young version of me, ready to challenge her momma with some creative costuming ideas. Eeps. So we hit Joanne's in August.

By September, she had changed her mind and wanted something different. Two weeks after that she changed again.

October came, and she had still not decided for sure what she wanted to be. I was stressed, I was making her stressed (why does Mommy keep asking me about Halloween?), and I was dreading Halloween.

I read this post from Meg last week, and it got me thinking. Go check out point 2.

And I'd like to send all of you very talented mothers out there who are NOT making costumes this year (or any year) a big smooch.

I gave it up. Or at least for now. Why, say you? Because frankly, my daughters wanted to be princesses with all the Disney, glitter, and plastic high heels that I could find for them. My son wanted to be Elmo with the big googly eyes and red furry paws. M wanted to change her mind four times and then change it again once she saw the Halloween costume catalog that arrived at our house.

And, more than I wanted to be the mother I had preconceived notions of being, I want my little goblins to be happy.

I want Halloween to be a fun day, filled with candy and neighborhood greetings. I'm done with the stressed fall season and trying to box in my children's creativity and indecisive natures.

And - honest here - Halloween is not an important holiday in our family, at least when you compare it to the real and made-up ones we treasure (eg: Thanksgiving, Christmas, Sisters Day, Yes Day, Easter). And I was spending months dedicated to something that would come and go for a day or less.

This year I'll be walking the 'hood with a goddess, Belle, and Elmo. They are so excited to break into costume.

And I'm delighted not to have trick or treat bags under my eyes any more.


PS. Where do you fall? To buy or to sew? Or somewhere in the middles?

A tri- to try from my friends

Hello Friday. Hello friends. Today we're celebrating National Pumpkin Day. What's your favorite color pumpkin? I'm loving the green ones this year. Tomorrow will bring in National Potato Day. And I have a great way to live this fabulous holiday with a treat below. My hubby is honoring Mother-in-law day on Sunday with his stacks of blueberry pancakes (and a visit from my parents). What are you up to?



My friend, Sheri, over at Donuts, Dresses, and Dirt (great blog name, eh?) posted an easy way to enjoy for all of us to embrace National Potato Day. These yummies come out crispy and are cooked in the microwave!! My hubby and I love sweet potatoes, but our kids are not so keen. Maybe this will win them over? It's all in the name of holiday, you know. Check out the super simple recipe.


My pal Joy from Frock Files is over at You Are My Fave this week sharing a recipe for healthy corn chowder. I am a big fan of corn + soup. Joy made this sweet recipe as a dinner for a neighbor, and you have to check out how she packaged it all up. Do you have someone in your life who could use a surprise dinner? I know I do.


Get ready to pin this one. My gal, Caroline, from Salsa Pie created this fun Face Mat for kids. It's 2D Mr. Potato Head but so much more chic. My kiddos would love this, if they'd be able to get it away from me. I love how she captured so many different expressions in these photos!! Caroline is creating the most amazing crafts these days so if you're not tuning into to Salsa Pie, you are missing out.

That's it from here, friends. We're hosting my parents for the weekend and taking in some fall sites... this just might be our last weekend to do so. What do you have going on?




Party for Paige

Hi friends! Hi Paige!!

Please excuse our regularly scheduled Simple Tuesday post as we break out and celebrate a grand, old bridal shower (bloggy style) for Paige. For those of you who don't know beautiful Paige, she's an awesome writer and photographer who blogs over at Approaching Joy, and this talented beauty is getting married this weekend. I'm so delighted that Gina asked me, "Wanna do something for Paige?" My quick response? Yes, yes, yes!! Paige, we've gathered some great ladies who wanted to celebrate you!! They'll be joining in the blog hop, too - don't cheat and scroll down...yet.

Paige is a natural community-builder, and she is that girl you know you want to be friends with as soon as you meet her. Paige and I took an Alt Summit class together in early Spring, before I started blogging, and she is my shover. You know, like the person who pushes you out of the plane when you're all suited up and ready to go sky diving but you don't have the guts to actually jump. Yup, that's Paige. She's also been my parachute, supporting me and relying on me (making me feel knowledgeable) throughout this new(ish) adventure in our lives.

I was even blessed enough to receive the hippest wedding invitation ever, and I wish I could make my way to NW Arkansas this weekend...

Instead I'll be sending fabulous wedding thoughts and quiet marriage prayers down your way, Paige. I made a little something for you, taken right from your own webpages of wisdom and wit. I remember reading this for the first time on your blog many months ago and thinking Approaching Joy was named so well! I hope you and your man put your ear to the ground many, many times and recognize the great joy that is headed your way because of all the goodness you put out into the world.

When I got married 10 years ago, we asked our guests to offer some advice on marriage as a part of their response cards. We have them all in one big book now - the wonderfully sweet and outlandishly funny recommendations on how to live well with the one you love. Here's my 2 cents for you.. it may sound familiar.

Paige and I, in one of our many late night email chats, were talking life stuff, and she asked me how I do it all. God bless her, she doesn't see me in real life to know that I don't do it all or I may do it ALL but not so well. My answer was a lot of late night stream of consciousness and some kudos to my husband. My hubby and I have a lot of give and take. I take a lot; he gives a lot. We fill in each other's gaps. Through the thick, gritty nastiness and the floating, beautiful gifts of life, we've learned to laugh. To laugh at ourselves, to laugh at each other (I am an ug-ly cryer), to laugh at the bleakest situations, to laugh at our own shattered brilliances, to laugh at our children and our parenting, too.

If I really could be your fairy godsister and offer you one magical gift, it would be laughter.

Please laugh. It'll bind you together and carry you through. A lot. Let's laugh!

Enjoy the other amazing gifts our friends have brought, Paige. Thank you for being such a spectacular source of joy for me on the interwebs and in real life. Sparkle for me this weekend, will ya?


Make It Monday: Herringbone Tray

Happy Monday, friends!! How was the weekend? We hung around and raked leaves, watched some football, and handled some crafting, too. As y'all know, I'm a great adorer of autumn (yo, Instagram friends are you tired of my leaf photos yet?), and I've been looking for ways to get my indoor spaces decked in color, too, as the leaves now begin to shed their brilliance and Halloween is coming right around the corner.

I don't do spooky or the darkness of Halloween, but I was inspired by the shapes and lines of Landee See, Landee Do's holiday post. And I thought it'd be fun to transform a great tray that I've had for a while and DIY it up.


Here's what I used. This great tray was a DIY present from a dear friend for our wedding. Chris converted a large frame into tray through handles and paint. I added some great colored cardstock in complimentary Halloween shades of orange, black, white, and gray. And pulled out the paper cutter and some glue!


Herringbone has been on the brain lately as I see fall fashions appearing in stores and catalogs. It's a simple geometric pattern that my daughters loved putting together with me.


I love the great graphic quality, and it's the perfect perch for the growing mounds of mini pumpkins and gourds we're accumulating.

I'm also planning on mounding it up with candy (way more than pictured here) for our adorable Trick or Treaters next week!


How do you deck your house for Halloween? 


A tri- to try all about pumpkins

Friday, Friday!! Three cheers for Friday. Are you ready to celebrate the weekend? Let's go out and meet some new folks (or hop over to their blogs) today on New Friends Day. Tomorrow we're getting our Hallmark on and letting all those we love know how much they mean to us on Sweetest Day. Sunday is National Pumpkin Cheesecake Day, and today we're honoring my love for pumpkin with all the great ideas on a Tri- to Try!!



This is so good, my friends. So good. When Melissa of Lulu the Baker posted this recipe for Pumpkin Crumble, I knew that I would become an instant fan of such goodness. The photos alone had me.

I also loved hearing just how much her husband loves this special treat made just for him. :)


Jessica from Sunny Side Up has it all going on with this incredible recipe for Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Bread. Ripping off this sugary sweet goodness would be a fabulous way to spend the weekend, don't you think? The recipe involves all sorts of fall favorite ingredients (yum for rum), and I'm pretty sure any guest would remember this scrumptious dessert and hope to be invited back for more!


Gina from Desperately Seeking Gina invited me over to her Month of Pumpkin. She's had mouth-watering pumpkin recipes day after day. I added in these silly, simple balls of pumpkin.

You need no great crafting skills, just some orange yarn, a pipe cleaner, and some black paper to make a whole bunch of little pumpkins. Hop over and see the process. I think these would be fun filled in clear glass jars on your Halloween table or set out as placecard additions.

I'm working on a fun treat for a great friend and blogger that I'm excited to show you next week!! We'll be working on the house inside and out this weekend and hosting some family, too. What are you up to?



Turn It : Embracing the Chill

Welcome back to the Turn It series!! Joy from Frock Files and I are sharing stories/ideas/fresh perspectives that we hope will make you recognize opportunity in the problems that come your way and prompt you to use your creative juices for the power of good. Here's more from the incredible Joy:

Last week when we drove up to Vermont, we were surprised to see that many of the trees had already lost their leaves. Even though the color maps showed that the area had just peaked, they were gone -- basically overnight. Because I love fall so much, I become a live in the moment person during this short period, and I’m baffled by people who proclaim that they can’t enjoy autumn because it just means that winter is coming. But when I saw those trees, I knew that it was time to begin bracing myself for the reality that’s on its way.

Since I’m from Hawaii, I generally spend the winter wondering why I moved to the Northeast, where at least five months of the year are just plain hard. It’s a silly question, though–I know exactly why. It’s because there’s nothing like the excitement of the first yellow-green leaves on the trees in the springtime, or driving down the freeway in October to a blur of trees so brightly colored they could be ablaze. And hey, that picture
up there is of the forest I drive through every day–it’s pretty easy on the eyes even when it’s covered in snow.

This series is all about turning those tedious or dreadful or ominous things into ones in which we can delight, and I’ve decided that perhaps what I need is a change of perspective as I prepare for winter. Creating a list of activities I really want to do this winter actually has me looking forward to the snowy days ahead.

  • Read, Read, Read. It’s recently occurred to me that I miss reading books. Reading long form works satisfies me in a way that short snippets of information just can’t. I’m working on creating a reading list for myself. If you want to make one too, the New York Times Sunday Book Review is a fantastic place to start. And I do hope you’ll share your picks with us!
  • Decorate. I moved back to Boston in June. It took us three months to turn the second bedroom from storage unit to empty space, and another month and a half to finish painting the four walls. When the weather’s great, the last thing we want to do is be inside. Wintertime provides great motivation to make our home as cozy and gorgeous as possible. On our agenda: installing our own crown molding, painting the bathroom with stripes, and furnishing the office/guest bedroom. Decorating also involves lots of movement, which I can’t get enough of in the cold months.
  • Craft. Louise of Laid Off Mom started a craft date a few months back, and she invited both MJ and I to join in on the fun. The project unleashed a whole crafty side of me that I didn’t know existed! I’m excited to spend more time creating things. Need inspiration for your own craft projects? I’ve been collecting lots of craft ideas over on my Pinterest board dedicated to the topic.
  • Make Warm, Delicious Things. I’m such a sucker for stews, soups, and hot drinks. In Portland, I was introduced to something called hot buttered rum. Have you ever heard of anything with a more delicious name? Anyway, it’s unreasonable to have these things when it’s hot. But when it’s cold, I feel like it’s for survival.
  • Learn a Foreign Language. A few years ago, we went to Montreal and sheepishly had to ask people to speak to us in English. With a trip to Paris in our midst, I’m putting my foot down and we’re going to learn some French this winter beyond “Où est la bibliothèque?”
  • Do a Movie Exchange. I have a handful of favorite films James hasn’t seen. He has a handful that I haven’t seen. We plan on methodically trading off nights: one night, we’ll watch Marie Antoinette (mine); the next time, we’ll watch Brick (his).

What are you looking forward to doing when things get cold outside?

Ooh, now I'm dreaming of hot cocoa and winter baking afternoons. Thank you Joy for these great ideas (I so want to do a movie exchange!!). What are planning to do to make the most of the upcoming winter?


Happy Kiddos: Sharing some magic

Blogging has allowed me to connect with many creative, talented, and fun people from around the globe. I love looking at my Google analytics to see what parts of the globe light up from lovely readers (hello friends in Ireland!). One bright spot for me from New Zealand has been the inspiration of A Happy Adventure, the amazing brainchild of Hana. She knows how to make the world a magical place for her little ones, and I love seeing all that she has to offer (that I can grab and use, use, use for my kiddos). Check out her Little World posts and be prepared to get your family passports ready for adventure.

Hana invited me share some of our family traditions and celebrations as part of her Magical Days series.

  1. Jump, hop, skip, and leap on over with me to hear why I'm a huge advocate of large sinks.
  2. Find out what happens to our Christmas tree after the holidays.
  3. Check out my favorite books to read with my kiddos.
  4. And don't miss what I recommend for more joy in life (even more than a good night's sleep)...

Thank you, Hana, for welcoming me so warmly to your adorable and educational site!!


Make It Monday: Typography Results!

Happy Monday! It's party time over here at Pars Caeli. I was super duper lucky to be able to host this month's DIY date, typically hosted by the amazing Louise. She let me pick our project, and I chose one of my faves - TYPOGRAPHY.

I've been a font nerd ever since childhood when I remember loving certain picture books because I liked how the letters looked. And now... I am delighted that I could convince some talented ladies to show their letter love, too, through beautiful art pieces. Check out the links below to read the stories behind these pieces and in some cases, download your own versions. From all around the interwebs I present to you, our DIY date:

1. Emily (a real, live amazing artist) created this piece in honor of her blog birthday. Inspired (go get it)!

2. Joy, style queen and talented writer, brought love to life in her print (just for you, too).

3. Louise, both poet and painter here, made a rich canvas of word and color (I so enjoyed the meaning behind it all).

4. Brynn, full of flavor and fun, brought this whimsical quote to real life. Check out her mad skills.

5. Erin finds art that rocks my world and now she's showing us (yes, tutorial) how to use Photoshop to make cool images (like this lovely) for ourselves.

6. ME! I've been wanting to do something with transparencies, Helvetica, and one of my favorite quotes/hymns (take it for your space, too). Read below to find out more.

Hugs to all these wonderful women who designed, crafted, and prepared one-of-a-kind awesomeness. I feel so blessed to be able to host it all here at Pars Caeli.

I can't wait to see what Louise has ready for us in November. Wanna join us?

If you'd like to download Julian of Norwich and my co-creation (smile), you can download it here. Julian was a woman far wiser than I with divine inspiration and knowledge of our place in God's plan. It is said that God appeared to Julian and spoke these words.

…All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.

Life's molehills and mountains can wear me out. And I can find myself staring more at my feet than looking ahead or around at the graces that lie right where I am. In the tumult I say to myself, All will be well. And now it's perched right at the bottom of our staircase to remind me as I walk my kiddos downstairs for breakfast or run frantically around to get myself ready to go.




A tri- to try

How is it Friday already? We are painting, painting, painting in our house with all three children's bedrooms getting fresh coats. The nursery will now transform into the "nook" where all three kiddos can go to read and draw and just hang. The wall murals that I painted when I was pregnant with my oldest daughter are now covered over with a fresh coat of Palladian Blue. No lying, I was more than a bit melancholy about the transition.

But good things await so let's get on with the living!

Spend some time today crafting and consider yourself particularly talented. It's not too late to craft something awesome for our DIY date. Remember what this month's project is? For you extra special, busy people, I'm extending the deadline to Saturday. Just send over a photo and explanation of your work to my email ( If you're a blogger, all posts should go live on Monday am, and I'll link right to them!

While you're creating, grab yourself a handful of Hershey's kisses and Hershey's chocolate bars and offer a big shout out to Milton Hershey who died on October 13, 1945. But keep some extra chocolate on hand for Sunday because the world is celebrating National Dessert Day, and you do not want to be caught without the best course of every meal.

Here's a Tri- for you to Try this weekend, friends:



Mini mummies? Oh, yes. Click over and see what Jen has set up with these posable creatures. So cute and so fun. Jen always has the best ideas. Check out some other mini Halloween decorations that will make you wish you had eaten Alice's candy and fallen down the rabbit hole to this tiny goodness. And while you're over at Classic Play, please take a gander at Caroline's adorable Halloween Straw Toppers.


Mariah from Playful Learning has three great tips for how to host a great playdate. I loved her practical, generous, and child-centered approach to a day of fun with friends. Click over to read and see her great set up, her menu for fun and healthy, and a little something extra she keeps in her back pocket.


Not only are pumpkins all over the patches these days, but every food blogger and crafting Pinterest lover has been sharing amazing ideas with pumpkins. I'm getting in on the action on Monday with a something special I have planned with Miss Gina, and I hope you'll tune in.

In the meantime, we have to make this delectable and savory Pumpkin Fettucine. Camille (via contributor Jess Simpson) brings another great dish straight to our kitchens with this combination of pumpkin puree and sage. Best part: very few ingredients and super simple instructions (and did you see that intro photo? yummmm).

I have a lot of crafting and tailgating ahead of me for the weekend, friends! I must be off. See you here on Monday to show off some great DIY projects, many of which involve amazing free prints for you!!


Happiness: In Our Home

My home is a place of unconditional belonging, which is part of its pleasure, part of its pain–as Robert Frost wrote, home is "Something you somehow haven't to deserve." At home, I feel a greater sense of safety and acceptance, and also of responsibility and obligation. With friends my hospitality is voluntary, but my family never needs an invitation.

~Gretchen Rubin, Happier at Home

How about it, friends? Let's start something new. After the great reminders and reflections in The Happiness Project I'm ready for a little more Gretchen Rubin and her latest book Happier at Home is right up my alley.

My mom and mother-in-law were both stay at home moms for most of our (hubby and mine) childhoods, and I think they both did an awesome job of creating a space of comfort, safety, and love.

For me home is my reprieve and it's also my mainstay. As a professional who works in and out of the office, my home can't always be a place of total relaxation; it must also function as deadline keeper and motivation hot box. Home is not always a clear equivalent to happy.

Every other Thursday (when I'm not chatting with Joy about turning challenge into goodness) I'll be offering you my own reflections on happiness in our homes, grown-up style, and sharing snippets of Gretchen's book as well.

Here are some of the great topics coming your way:

  • Possessions and Simplicity
  • Marriage
  • Parenthood
  • Interior design
  • Time
  • Body
  • Family
  • Neighborhood
  • Now

What one thing makes you happy every time you enter your home? I'd argue that we all need something that elicits something happy right when we enter.

Mine? This silly canvas of my son with a face full of spaghetti. It's larger than lifesize and it greets me, with a smile, every time I come home.

It's good to be home.

What's yours?




Ideas for happy family grocery trips

Wanna talk about something mundane with me today? How about grocery shopping? No? Doesn't float your boat?

When I tell friends that every Sunday (it used to be Monday) night you can find my family doing the same thing, they think I'm a little wacky (perhaps deservedly so). Especially when I tell them we're spending our time at the grocery store...all five of us...together. We've been doing family grocery trips for the last decade or so, adding new family members to the dynamic as they entered the world. :)

Here are my thoughts on how to make it work and even make it fun. I'd love to hear your tips!


I am not an ultra organizer. I do, however, try to put together a list, look through sales flyers, clip a few coupons, and have a rough idea of a menu before we make the trip to the store. I've taken the family on thissojourn without doing this and, well, it's not pretty. So I find a little up-front work is super helpful. We also engage everyone in contributing to the week's meal ideas (my daughter's 1st grade class made a cookbook of kids foods that has been very helpful with this). We talk about what items are on sale and how to best spend our family dollar.



This excursion does not work without a willing and energetic partner. My husband is the driver (of the cart) and the one who can instigate fun as necessary. Hang from the cart like it's the monkey bars? Sure! See how many containers of apple juice you can pick up? Yes. Daddy's here for support. Momma's job is sticking to the list and offering treats. My job would stink (I mean, I'm not the funster parent here) except I get to talk with each kiddo about something extra yummy just for them. Sharing is optional on these treats.


Every Sunday dinner is spent dining in at our grocery store. We come with our giant bag of canvas bags, our refillable water jugs, sippies of milk/juice (we're quite a site). Our store has a second level for dining and the kids love to look out at shoppers or down at the parking lot activity. I find it helps keep everyone's appetites in check as well to start off with full tummies.


We know every attendant at the deli. Why? Because our store has a policy of offering free cheese slices to children. And for my bunch a free slice of cheese is a great big slice of Heaven. Many of these women and men have now greeted and gifted my children since their infancy, and we, too, know about their children and grandchildren. Community always helps.

Once your children reach a certain age, let them in on the budgeting, too. We have our oldest bring her calcuator or Ipod and keep a running total of our expenses. Are we near our budget? Did we go over with a certain item? What's her prediction for the final total? It's an awesome way to teach, and it keeps all of us accountable to our budget.


Since we embrace the full family-ness (chaos and all) of the trip, each child helps to take items off of shelves, put them in the cart, and scratch items off the list. We typically pay with gift certificates purchased through my children's school, and each child even gets to practice paying for the bill by handing one certificate each to the cashier. Everyone helps to bring the goods into our house and put everything away. It's become a point of pride to see who can carry more bags and I'm all for it.

Honesty here: some trips are a challenge. We've had Sunday evenings when I wonder why the what(!) did I think this was a good idea.

But mostly I enjoy the ordinariness of it all. We are a real family with tired, fussy, fun, and quirky days and I'm happy we can share the amazing and the mundane together.

What do you think? Are you for the full team approach? Or does a quick trip through with no kids work better for you? Or something in between?