Back to School Dinner……

This weekend we had our family’s annual Back to School Dinner Celebration.  It was so fun….and I try to surprise everyone each year with something a little different.

school dinner

Last year we had to eat leftover salad in the dark because we had an extra dinner guest…..the 150 foot oak tree that was on the house! ha! We still had fun, though. Here’s the link to the post about last year’s dinner celebration.

school dinner

This year we had electricity! We hung paper airplanes in the doorways, and from the dining room light fixture.

school dinner

school dinner

We decorated the table with all kinds of school supplies vintage and new……

school dinner

Everyone received coupons and fun little treats to start the year off…..

school dinner

school dinner

and we finished the dinner up with homemade whoopie pies!

school dinner

This is also the night each year that we sign home school contracts for the year. 🙂 {We  always have a contract listing necessary commitment, expectations, and any consequences of not meeting them.}

school dinner

Do you celebrate going back to school in any way? Does your family have any neat traditions for starting the school off in a fun way?


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One Year Ago Today…..

Today is our first day of school. I’m a bit more ready this year than last.  We are starting under much different circumstances than last year.  One year ago today Hurricane Irene came through our city and felled a 150 foot oak tree onto our cottage. It was quite a day. We were very blessed…none of us were hurt, and the cottage could be repaired. Nevertheless, it was very stressful. I shared this story last year about what I learned from

Irene and Billy Joe Bob……

August 27, 2011:

Well.  We made it through Hurricane Irene.  Our city looks like a war zone.  The damage is horrendous.  Had no idea.  The university here has shut down. {Universities usually don’t shut down–unless the chancellor can’t walk across the street from his house to his office.}

For us, personally:

a 150+ foot {I originally thought it was only 75!} oak tree fell onto our cottage

we lost numerous parts of our English cottage garden

various other damage throughout the yard and exterior

BUT, we are OK.  That’s what is most important.

We all worked like horses all day and into the evening trying to get things to where we could function and cleaned up.

{Best Boot Camp workout out there!  I was tired of my daily workout routine, anyway!}

BUT, before that……I sat in a corner of the dining room and cried.

And ate Pumpkin Cheesecake.

thought it helped.  Because, once I had finished it—I stood up, pulled my boot straps tied-together tie-dyed jumpsuit straps, with the big hole on my backside up……I was ready to get on with it. {At least I thought.}

Not long into our work….it appeared.

I was stressed.  I was worn out.  I was sad.  I was disappointed.

No one could do anything correctly.

I opened my mouth and acid spewed all over my family.

I cried again.

A bit later I confessed. I apologized. I hugged.

But I thought…..did I leave any scars?  Maybe if I had cried in the corner and chewed on God’s word and promises instead of Pumpkin Cheesecake–just maybe the acid would have been a bit more neutralized.

Flash forward many hours…..and Billy-Joe-Bob arrived to work on getting the tree off the house.

I’m not sure—but I think he had one tooth.

From the time he arrived acid spewed from his mouth in all directions.  In fact, acid spewed from his being—even when he didn’t even open his mouth.

He was the most angry/hateful/bitter-actng person I think I have ever been around.

He didn’t like me.

And, I didn’t really like him.

I offered to get him something to drink.  He cursed at me.

I offered to get him a cold rag when he knocked a hole in the top of his head.

He cursed at me.

I said ‘Thank you’.  He cursed at me.

As he worked—I watched and observed.

What in the world would make someone so full of acidic stench??

How does he live like that?

I kept observing…he already didn’t like me, so I flat out stared at times.  Intently.

I learned something from Billy-Joe-Bob yesterday.

I learned that I don’t want to be like that. But I was earlier in the day.

And I realized that a life filled with acid comes from running to Pumpkin Cheesecake, alcohol, tobacco, people, talents, gifts, shopping……. ANYTHING other than the God waiting to restore and fill us up with what we need to get through.

Yep.  I watched Billy-Joe-Bob. And I don’t want to be him.

{And I’m not just referring to the one tooth!?}

Next time I head for the corner of the dining room it won’t be with Pumpkin Cheesecake.

{I’ll save that for when I come out!}

Today….I’m very thankful for:


help with all our needs

my family—-with me


the new vast amount of sunshine coming into my garden

large holes in the ground….maybe for a pond?

a fresh start

a fresh outlook

a new day

Blessings to your Monday~

That Time of Year is Here……


It’s that time of year again.  We are starting back to school next Monday.


Where has the summer gone? We homeschool, and right now I wished my desk looked more like this…..


instead of this…..


Soon there will be things like this all over our cottage…..


I love this quote…


I think everyone should have their own copy of this…..


Because, after all, as you can see below….punctuation is very important……


I think these would make a fun back-to-school breakfast…..


And these would be some fun little treats to pass out to friends….


These are wonderful questions….and I will keep them nearby all year….especially great if you have teens…..


I think you will find this real time video of the Northern Lights a real treat….

Source: via Daune on Pinterest             

{source to view}

For Family Night this upcoming weekend we are going to have a Back-to-School Party…just the 5 of us. I can’t wait…we always have fun with this. It will look a bit like this…..


Can you tell I have a lot on my mind?



thinking in


I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.


What. is. your. week. looking. like?

Treats for Your Kids!

Thought I would share with you the fun little treats we gave our kids during our powerless back-to-school celebration.  The gifts were quick and fun to put together and our children loved them.  It’s the simple things, right?

The week before our back-to-school dinner we had these little daily treats for them…..

We took some fun striped bags and added foam numbers to them. {5 bags per child}  The five days before our celebratory dinner they got to pick out one bag a day.  We filled them with pieces of candy, coupons, gift cards.  Their favorite was an itunes card that I made in Picnik.  I took a picture of an itunes card, uploaded into Picnik and added “One Free Song Download” across the  pic—then printed them out and laminated them. They’ve had fun cashing those in!

Then, we made the large cones to give them after our celebratory dinner.  To make them…..we took one piece of poster board and twisted it into a cone shape, then taped it.  We added ribbon to the top, vinyl letters—the first letter in each child’s name—and then filled them with all kinds of goodies.  Fun school supplies, personal fans, flashlights, etc.  Almost everything came from the dollar store or the dollar section in Target. {Don’t you LOVE the dollar section in Target?}

There you have it! Fun treats for your children—or anyone else for that matter.

Hope you are having a super day~




Linking with:  Skip to My LouSumo’s Sweet StuffTip Junkie,Today’s Creative BlogNot JUST a HousewifeBlackberry VineBlue Cricket DesignThe Shabby Chic CottageWhipperberryThe Idea Room,  Between Naps on the PorchFrench Country CottageThe Lettered CottageThrifty Decor ChickHouse of Hepworth’sRemodelaholicFunky Junk InteriorsAt the Picket FenceMy Uncommon Slice of SuburbiaStuff and NonsenseCommon GroundSomewhat SimpleDIY ShowoffHome Stories A to ZPassionately Artistic

How Do You Celebrate?

The weekend of Hurricane Irene was the weekend before we started school—and Handsome and I had a fun Back-to-School dinner and celebration planned for our children.

Well, we still did it—but it was definitely not as planned!  We had no electricity.  So, for dinner we had leftover Olive Garden salad and breadsticks {cold & hard, no less!}.  The root beers were a bit chilly.  BUT, the rainbow cake was just fine! 🙂 It was not the fabulous dinner we had planned; but we had a great time.  {Mind you–we were having this dinner along with a tree that had crashed into the house, and become a temporary family member!}

We laughed, pointed flashlights at the food to see it, and had a fun time together.  That’s all that matters.

After dinner we gave each of our children a giant cone that we had made and filled with crazy little presents, candy, supplies.  We had to use the flashlight for them to see what they had—but they loved it.  In fact, I think it made it even a little more fun.

We love to celebrate around here—and do it as often as we can.  But sometimes life happens—and no matter how wonderful our plans were, it just doesn’t happen that way.  It would be easy to just bag it and not do it at all.  Forget about it. Quit.

But so far we never have. And it’s made all the difference.

How about you?  What does your family like to celebrate? How do you deal with plans gone awry?



August Point of View {Back-to-School}

This month I have joined five other bloggers for the August Point of View.  The theme has been “Back-to-School”.  Check out all the fun projects from everyone:

Amy at Ameroonie Designs

Gwen from Gwenny Penny

Michelle from A Little Tipsy

Jonie from Just Between Friends

Camilla from Rosy Red Buttons

Leanne from Organize and Decorate Everything

Daune from Cottage in the Oaks—you’re here! 🙂

Now it’s YOUR turn!  Head on over to Michelle’s blog at A Little Tipsy to link up YOUR back-to-school project! Link here.

Doodleart Moleskine Journals

Here’s a fun back-to-school project that we did last week.  I wanted to come up with something fun for older kids—as there are so many wonderful things to do FOR or WITH little ones.  Our kids are teens—and we had a blast doing this project.  It would certainly work for any age, though.

Here’s what you need:

~ any kind or size of Moleskine journal—or any blank front journal, for that matter. {We purchased our’s from Barnes & Noble. There are so many fun sizes and colors!  There are also lined and unlined journals. Moleskines usually come in a pack of 2 or 3.}

They have these great little pockets in the back, too!

~ permanent markers–fine tip {we used Bic Mark-its}

Here’s how ya do it:

You are going to LOVE these directions! ha! {There almost aren’t any!}

1.  Just let your imagination run wild!  Begin with a shape, or a word, or even just a line on your journal front. No worries, just START!

2.  Let your next shape or line come from the first thing that you drew.  You do not have to be an artist to do this project.  Have fun doodling!

3.  It is limitless of what you can add to your journal–here’s some ideas: shapes, squiggles, words, phrases written in a shape…….

4.  Just keep connecting what you draw to the last thing that you drew—to create a completely covered journal.  OR, your child may just want to draw a fun picture on the front.

5.  As you are doing this project–go back to some of the things you have drawn and color them in—-or draw shapes inside your other shapes—or outline them.

This is a great project to just have fun with—no right or wrong way to do it.  Everyone’s will be completely unique and their own.  There definitely will not be any mixing up with other people’s notebooks/journals! This is also a great project to start and work on for a bit of time, put it aside and come back and work on it again later.  We did our’s over several days.  Each time you come back to it you will have fresh perspective and ideas.

Don’t forget to have fun decorating the edges, too!

Here are mine and my daughters’ journals that we did last week.

Be sure to head on over to Michelle’s and link your back-to-school idea/recipe/project!

Have Fun & Happy Back-to-School~




Linking this project with these lovely places, too: Skip to My LouSumo’s Sweet StuffTip Junkie,Today’s Creative BlogNot JUST a HousewifeBlackberry VineLadybug-BlessingsMy Girlish WhimsBlue Cricket DesignThe Shabby Chic CottageWhipperberryThe Idea Room,  Between Naps on the PorchFrench Country CottageThe Lettered CottageThrifty Decor ChickHouse of Hepworth’sRemodelaholicFunky Junk InteriorsAt the Picket FenceMy Uncommon Slice of SuburbiaStuff and NonsenseCommon GroundSomewhat SimpleDIY ShowoffHome Savvy A to ZHome Stories A to ZPassionately Artistic

Join Us Tomorrow for the Party…..

Well……I’ve stocked up on bottled water, done whatever projects I need to do outside—and tomorrow will be working on tying stuff down in the yard. {Unless Irene decides to change course—she’s headed for us.}

It’ll be a cozy weekend inside; unless the roof blows off.  ha! {I don’t think it will.}

This month I was asked to be one of the featured bloggers to present a fun back-to-school idea or project.  Tomorrow is the big Au

gust Point of View day!  Join me and the following blogs:

Amy at Ameroonie Designs

Gwen from Gwenny Penny

Michelle from A Little Tipsy

Jonie from Just Between Friends

Camilla from Rosy Red Buttons

Leanne from Organize and Decorate Everything

for a fun linky party.  I’ll have the links for you tomorrow–to go to Amy’s blog and link up any fun ideas, projects, or recipes that you have for back-to-school.  We’d love to hear about them!  So get ’em ready to link up tomorrow for Point of View! Any fun ideas will be welcome!  Hope to see you there……

Amidst the impending Hurricane—we’ll be having our annual back-to-school party/celebration this weekend.  And I found these fun printables at Eighteen25 blog.

They have lots of fun stuff for celebrations and families.  Check it out.

After tomorrow—I’m not going to talk about back-to-school anymore!  The past two weeks it has been heavily on my thoughts —- as we are preparing to start up another year next week.  Our family LOVES celebrations—we celebrate everything.  So this week has been the fun countdown to the first day {with little treat bags each day}; and this weekend will be a fun family time celebration of beginning another year of opportunity and challenges.

It has also been a full two weeks of projects and redos here at the cottage.  Handsome got the bookcase built for the living room.  {Wooooohoooooo!  Yeeeeeeehawwwwww!  Yippy-Skippy! Oh Yeah! } I did a fun  project in the kitchen—and some other fun ones around the house…….I’ll share some of them over the next weeks.

Gotta run……and tie the porch swing~



Earthquake & Homeschool…..

Well—I can now say that I have survived an earthquake.  So I went out and had pasta last night! {You need pasta after surviving an earthquake!}  I have to share this picture with you…..from the earthquake devastation in Washington DC……….



I laughed by head off—and it does help to put things in perspective.

It was very eery, though.  I was sitting on my porch and all of a sudden everything was shaking—an eery shake, like in slow motion.  I almost thought I was going crazy.  You know, here on the East coast we KNOW hurricanes, but not earthquakes.  By the way—we are preparing for a hurricane this weekend.  As it looks right now it will be slamming right into us—Saturday afternoon.  Unless it changes course I guess we will be tying down all those things that were shaking yesterday!

Earthquake on Tuesday.

Hurricane on Saturday.

The earth groans.

SO, as the earth groans—-I’m here prepared to tie things down and get ready for homeschool to start on Monday.  I found these great pictures around the web over the past weeks—dreamy homeschool spaces, don’t ya think?  They would also be neat takes on home offices, homework spots…….lots of neat ideas.  I thought I would share them with you.  {Click on each picture for the source.}

Do any of you homeschool?  Aren’t these spaces great?!  And if you do not homeschool—wouldn’t they be wonderful home office inspiration or family room homework spots?

Keeping things tied down here on the East coast~


Point of View Coming Up…..

Next Friday is the August Point of View…and I am one of the featured bloggers.  The theme for August is Back-to-School, and there will be 6 of us featuring some fun ideas!  Be sure to join us next Friday.  Here are the other bloggers that are a part of the August Point of View along with me:

Amy at Ameroonie Designs

Gwen from Gwenny Penny

Michelle from A Little Tipsy

Jonie from Just Between Friends

Camilla from Rosy Red Buttons

Leanne from Organize and Decorate Everything

Looking forward to it!

Now, to send you off on your weekend—and since I’m thinking about the Point of View Post, I’ll share some more fun back-to-school ideas that I’ve found around the Big W.

I’m getting ready for our last week off from school–and thinking about some fun back-to-school celebrations to plan for next week.  These fun ideas caught my eye…..

{Click on each picture for the source.}

Another fun use for Frappuccino bottles!

These are great invites to a fun celebration….

I LOOOOOVVVVEEE this party idea.  This would be fun for just the family, too.  I think I see IBC poking out of that basket—our family’s favorite!

This would be fun.  Now, all I need is a great tree with a low branch…….

Are you celebrating back-to-school in any way?  With your children or grandchildren? Or someone else’s children? Or with your neighbors? Or with strangers? ?????

If not—what are you celebrating at this time of year?

Have a super weekend!

Back-to-School Ideas….

I cannot believe it is time to start thinking about back-to-school.  {We homeschool–and won’t be starting back until a couple more weeks.}  I know many of you may have already sent your kiddos back to the books!  Yikes!  This summer was truly just a flash. [And I know I’m not getting any older—so that’s not it.]

I thought I’d share some fun back-to-school ideas that I found on the web over the past couple of weeks.

A Back-to-School Bucket List……


Countdown to the first day with these fun ideas…..



For younger ones—the Back-t0-School Fairy would be a hit….


Teens would love these messenger bags  {me, too!}


And these little pockets for ‘things’—you need pockets for ‘things’ and ‘thingys’ and ‘whatchamacallits’, ya know….


Check out these nails….{what a hoot!}



I think these first day of school presents would be a blast!


Sewn paper treat bags—a fun surprise in their lunch bag or backpack….


How are you getting ready for back-to-school at your house?

Working on lesson plans today~