Clicking My Heels (so to speak….)

autumn welcomeWell, as the saying goes… There’s no place like home. Over the past few months I tried blogging at a different URL, thinking that the change might inspire me. But it didn’t. Honestly, it felt kind of weird. So, just about a year after I bought that domain, I’ve decided to pack my things and move back here. What can I say? Sometimes you just have to do what feels most comfortable. I’ve imported all the entries I wrote over at My Crewel World, so now everything is just in one place. Reading through my archives… there’s just too much history here, I guess. I just can’t let it go.

Moreover, I’ve realized that it’s been well over a month since I’ve check in. Goodness! The days do fly by, don’t they? I feel like this time of year, especially, as moms we’re just so busy with kids and school and activities and getting back into the swing of things. Well, I’ll see if going forward I can be a little bit better about blogging regularly. So let’s catch up, shall we?

School started for the kids at the beginning of September. It feel like just yesterday my oldest was in preschool, and here is — now in 8th grade! N. started 5th grade and L. is loving 1st grade. Everyone seems to like all the teachers this year, so that’s always a good thing. Scouts is now in full swing, too. And CCD has started so that once again means crazy Wednesdays. I wrote another letter begging them to start now to change the timing of classes for next year. Here’s how my Wed. afternoons currently go: the younger kids get home, eat a quick snack, gather up CCD books and drive to class. An hour and a half later they get picked up and dropped off back home. They quickly eat and start on homework. Meanwhile, the oldest now has to get in to his CCD class. Rush, get in the car. Drive in. Drop off. I am incredibly lucky to carpool with a couple neighbors, and that saves all of us a trip or two. But still — it’s just the craziness of it all. So we will see. J. is making his confirmation this year, but next year the younger two will again be in different sessions because of the way the grades are split up. 


As for me, I’ve just been busy with the usual stuff. I’ve been doing some freelance copy editing and copy writing, which I enjoy. I have had the best of intentions with my crochet — but haven’t picked up a hook in a while. Still constantly feeling like I’m not caught up on everything, you know? I’ve also been down with a nasty cold for the last few days — that’s not helping much, LOL!

I probably should get the fall decorations down out of the attic. I know the kids would enjoy having some of the Halloween stuff out. The leaves are starting to change colors just a little bit, but I have a bad feeling about the foliage this year. It has been so dry, I think that everything is just going to turn brown and drop. I hope I’m wrong, but so far everything that has turned looks quite drab except for this lone burst of red in my backyard.

turning leaves

I suppose that’s all. I’m thinking of trying to commit to a post a day in October. Even if it’s just a single photo. I hate that the days pass and I’m not documenting anything. That was my intent moving my blog, after all, to just write down all of life’s little moments. There’s no reason I can’t simply do that here. Time to give myself a good kick in the behind and get back at it!

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Free Back to School Planner Stickers

Free School-Themed Planner Stickers

Two weeks from today, my kids start the first day of school for the new year! I’m eagerly awaiting all the school mailings — bus routes, calendar of events, and so on. In anticipation of all that fun stuff, today I have a fun goodie for you! I designed a back-to-school planner kit that is free for your personal use.

The boxes are sized for the Erin Condren Life Planner, but should work in most other planners. I had a lot of fun designing this one. I hope you enjoy it and find it useful! You can print these on full-sheet labels or just print them on regular paper and use a glue stick or tape runner to make the stickers adhere. Most often, I do the latter because it’s cheaper.

Free School-Themed Planner Stickers The set includes:

— 6 Early Dismissal Stickers
— 12 No School Stickers
— 2 notebook page Things to Do full boxes 
— 2 telephone icons (can use a 3/4″ punch to punch out)
— 2 meal planning icons (can use a 3/4″ punch to punch out)
— 2 arrow icons (can use a 3/4″ punch to punch out)
— 2 coffee icons (can use a 3/4″ punch to punch out)
— 4 paper clips stickers
— 4 glasses stickers
— 2 blank appointment stickers
— lots and lots of flags

Click here to download this free set of stickers (for personal use only).

Free School-Themed Planner Stickers

Creative Commons LicenseThis work by is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

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Free Erin Condren Downloads!

Erin Condren

Love Erin Condren’s style, but can’t afford the pricy office supplies? Visit her downloads page  and choose from several free wallpapers (including brand-new designs!) that you can use for your desktop, laptop, and probably even make into stickers! Enjoy her signature style on the cheap! You can even find a sample from her new grown-up coloring book.


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HarneyFest 2015

HarneyFest 2015As you know, I love tea. I mean, I really love tea. A few weeks ago, a friend mentioned something in passing about some sort of festival at Harney & Sons Fine Teas. Lucky for me, Harney is a local company, located only about 30 minutes away. I immediately clicked on the link to the Facebook Event to learn more information. Oh. My. Word. It was a free (FREE!) tea festival! There was no question — I had to go.

Immediately, I messaged my friend and fellow tea-lover, Kelly. Since we met during our days at UMass, we have enjoyed many cups of tea together, shared info about new tea shops, and generally geeked out over a good cuppa. We made our plans to meet up and counted down the days until August 15th. Because the kids had two different parties on Saturday afternoon, we decided to meet up bright and early. HarneyFest started at 9, so we were one of the first people there. It got really busy by the time we were wrapping things up, so I would definitely go early next year. HarneyFest 2015

There was a variety of things to do including  tea tastings, a tea ceremony, and blending your own tea. Although the entire event was free, you did have to sign up for everything you wanted to do. This was not immediately clear to us, so we missed out on a couple things. Nevertheless, we started out with the factory tour, which was probably the main thing I wanted to see.

Harney moved their headquarters from Connecticut to here in the Hudson Valley a few years ago. The facility is huge and the pictures I took really don’t show the enormity of it. When we stepped inside the factory, I was just overwhelmed by the stacks and stacks and stacks warehousing bags of tea, just waiting to be blended, bagged, and packaged. They do it all right there, which is pretty cool!

HarneyFest 2015We had the chance to see the production lines in action. We saw silk sachets formed, filled, and tagged. We watched single-serve bags produced. We even got to see how they seal up the tea tins. I am fascinated with manufacturing (in part, I’m sure, because I grew up in a manufacturing town), so watching all of this was really cool. HarneyFest 2015

HarneyFest 2015

The other super fun thing Kelly and I got to do was create our own tea blend. Yes, it’s exactly what you think! We donned our very fashionable hair nets and made a couple “I Love Lucy” jokes about feeling like Lucy and Ethel. HarneyFest 2015

There was a table set up with a few tea bases, and several flavoring additions. Honestly, I didn’t know where to start! I finally decided on a rooibis base and I added apple, cinnamon, orange peel, and some coconut. The coconut was an impulse addition, and I’m not sure how it all will taste, but I’m hoping it will work. After we added our goodies to our tin, we brought it over to a Harney employee who blended it all together and then labeled and sealed our tins. I hasitily decided to call mine Carol’s Tropical Harvest Blend. I’m looking forward to brewing a pot of it once this weather cools down!

HarneyFest 2015Of course, there was a little shopping to be done. Honestly, I didn’t really  need much tea, and the flavors I was really looking for were not available at the tent sale, but of course I found a few things: their chai teabags, a tin of Chocolate Mint sachets, and a tin of Paris sachets. I am such a fan of tea lattes made with Paris, steamed milk, and a little sugar-free vanilla syrup. I also couldn’t resist this beautiful enamel Nina Jarema tea/coffee pot. The woodland pattern just called to me, and it was the only one I saw. HarneyFest 2015

There were a couple food vendors there, so we decided to grab lunch before we departed. There was a little booth serving up Mexican food that we decided to try. A couple people were getting tamales, and I never had one before so I figured this was the perfect opportunity! It was so delicious I just had to get a second (along with a chicken taco — yes, I went a little overboard, but the yumminess was hard to resist). I wish I knew the name of the vendor so I could give them a little shout out! All I know is that she told me she’s often at the Millerton and Amenia farmers’ markets. The food was cheap, filling, and tasty. She also had a nice variety of homemade salsas. If anyone knows the name, please comment and let me know!

HarneyFest 2015

The absolute best part of the day, however, was getting to spend it with my good friend. Kelly and I don’t get together anywhere near as often as we’d like. In fact, before Saturday it had been well over a year since we had the chance to hang out. The awesome thing about your best friends though, is that no matter how much time passes, you pick up just like it was yesterday. There is no one else who would have jumped for joy over tea with me (yes, I literally jumped when I learned I could make my own custom blend), and I’m so thankful we were able to make this happen!

HarneyFest 2015

HarneyFest was such a fun event. The company was generous with samples, the employees were super friendly, and I really hope they do it all again next year because I will definitely be there!

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Free Printable School Note

Free Printable - School Notes

I see from friends’ photos on Facebook and around the blogosphere that many schools around the country are already back in session. Here in New York, however, we don’t go back until after Labor Day. I’m starting to get organized for the new school year, and I find that pre-printed School Notes are an invaluable time and sanity saver. With three kids in school, you can only imagine how often I have to send in a note about a bus change or a dentist appointment. By using these handy notes, I can just jot down the important info, check a few boxes, and voila! It streamlines the entire process.

In the past I have used cutesy notes that other generous bloggers have designed. But this year I decided to make my own because with the boys getting older (5th grade and 8th grade), I didn’t want to embarrass them with anything that might be considered too childish. I thought this design was a good compromise.

Free Printable - School Notes

The other reason I wanted to design my own is because I prefer these long, skinny notes. My kids use folders to carry school papers back and forth and smaller notes, I have learned from experience, tend to get lost or forgotten if you can’t immediately see them. But it’s hard to miss a tall note like this one.

I’m happy to share these notes with my readers this year. I like to keep a small stack printed, cut, and easily accessible. They are not terribly fancy, but they are functional, and I think you will agree — they are a real time-saver! 

Click here to download my free School Note PDF (for personal use only)!

Free Printable - School Notes



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Vacation in Plymouth, Mass.

Plymouth, MA July 2015So, it just occured to me that I never blogged about our vacation this month in Plymouth, MA! Although I grew up in Massachusetts, I have never been to Plymouth. (We probably did the Freedom Trail at least three times, though!) You’d think that it would be a standard school field trip, but for some reason I never made it there until this month. With a few free days before my husband started his new job, we decided to go on a last-minute trip.  We arrived in Plymouth on Wednesday, and it was quite overcast and still wet from all the rain earlier in the morning. However, that worked to our advantage because it wasn’t crowded at all! It has been ages since I saw the Atlantic, and it is just as gorgeous as ever.  The kids and I walked along the dock while D. got our tickets for Mayflower II and Plimoth Plantation. Plymouth, MA July 2015

The Mayflower II is a replica of the boat the pilgrims sailed on from England. The ship was constructed in England and sailed to Massachusetts in the 1950s.

Plymouth, MA July 2015As we walked around and thought about how many people the original Mayflower held, we all were amazed. The ship is not large, and quarters are tight. It definitely gave me a whole new perspective on their journey. I can’t even imagine what those early settlers experienced! Plymouth, MA July 2015

Plymouth, MA July 2015

Plymouth, MA July 2015

There are plenty of historians on hand who are happy to answer questions. Some are dressed and act as if it were the 1600s and others are just their modern-day selves.

Plymouth, MA July 2015  Plimoth Plantation, as you can imagine, was also fascinating! Again, historians walk (and WORK!) around the site, both in period dress and persona as well as modern. There are two parts to Plimoth Plantation — the English village and Wampanoag Homesite.  Plymouth, MA July 2015

On our first day wandering around, men at the Wampanoag Homesite were making a canoe from a pine tree. They were in the process of burning it out. There were other canoes made on-site that were floating in the water. Quite a difference from our fiberglass Old Town canoe!

Plymouth, MA July 2015I also learned a lot about what foods they grew and how they grew them. The Wampanoag diet was mostly vegetables — squash, corn, Jeruselem artichoke, etc. Their buildings were amazing to look at — all natural materials, not a nail in sight. Plymouth, MA July 2015

The English settlement was also quite fun. Listening to the historians who talk as if it were the 17th Century, you get a really interesting perspective on what they thought of England, of the Native Americans, and of Plymouth in general. We laughed when someone was complaining to us about all the damn trees!

Plymouth, MA July 2015

Plimouth Plantation

Plymouth, MA July 2015

Plymouth, MA July 2015If you have the opportunity to visit, I highly recommend it! Another stunning part of Plymouth is the waterfront. I don’t consider myself a beach person, really. I definitely gravitate towards lakes and mountains, but I think it’s impossible to look out on the Atlantic and not feel an overwhelming sense of calm and peace.  Plymouth waterfront

Naturally, we saw Plymouth Rock, as well. Most of the things I’d heard about Plymouth Rock, prior to seeing it myself, included comments like “underwhelming.” Well, I didn’t feel that way at all. Is it an enormous boulder? No, of course not! But let’s remember that this was the 1600s, and the settlers were on a small (yes, really) ship made from wood. Also, you need to consider hundreds of years of erosion! Personally, I thought it was moving to look at this stone and think about the journey these English men, women, and children endured. But maybe that’s just because I have an insane amount of home-state pride.

Plymouth, MA July 2015As for the rest of our trip, we got a great deal on a room at the John Carver Inn. What attracted us to the hotel initially is the location and the great pool! Come on – anyone with kids knows that a good hotel pool is key.

Pool at John Carver InnMy wonderful husband surprised me on our first night and had some Cava (a bubbly Spanish wine, similar to champagne) and truffles delivered to the room. So sweet! Cava & Truffles

The other interesting thing about the John Carver Inn, is that it is reportedly haunted. From what I read, most of the activity is on the third floor. However, even though we were on the second floor, I am absolutely convinced that I had my own paranormal experience there. D. thinks I am absolutely crazy, but I know what I felt.  It was the middle of the night and L. was sleeping on a cot positioned in between the two beds. I was sleeping facing her, and she suddenly sat bolt upright, which startled me. She seemed to settle herself and quickly fell back to sleep. I also settled back into bed. It was warm in the room, so I only had a sheet at my feet. Just as I was starting to drift off, I felt someone hike up the leg my pyjama shorts! It was super freaky, and a little aggressive. I whispered to D., but he was completely asleep. He’s convinced that I just got tangled up in the blankets, but… I’m not so sure, LOL! Needless to say, the next night I cranked up the AC and wrapped up every inch of my body while snuggling very close to my husband!

We ate at a lot of great restaurants, including the All-American Diner (which had a great breakfast and reasonable prices) and Sam Diego’s (a Mexican restaurant with amazing specials and huge portions).

Dinner at Sam Diego's

But I think my favorite was the Pillory Pub, right by the water. The served up creative hot dogs and absolutely  delicious clam chowder. We all loved it.

Pillory Pub, Plymouth, MA

Chowdahhhhh! At the Pillory Pub

Lunch at the Pillory Pub

Plus!!! Papa Gino’s has a location in Plymouth! If you’ve never lived in Massachusetts, then you just can’t fathom the deliciousness of a Papa Gino’s pepperoni slice. I’m sure fond childhood memories slant my opinion, but seriously — it’s just cheesy, tomatoey goodness. Just when I thought the trip couldn’t get any better, there we were ordering a large pie, taking our parmesan cheese and oregano to the table, and waiting for our number to be called. Good stuff!

My favorite pizza - Papa Gino's!There are lots and lots of cute little shops and boutiques, too. We didn’t browse too many with the kids, but we enjoyed peering in through the windows.

Sign in Plymouth

Cool stuff in Plymouth

The whole vacation was so relaxing! We had perfect weather and seemed to beat the crowds. When we were leaving, the town was ramping up for the 4th of July and everything was getting busier. It was a great way to spend some family time together before D. started his new job!


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Creamy Crab Rangoon Dip with Wonton Chips

Creamy Crab Rangoon Dip

My two favorite treats when we order Chinese food are hot & sour soup and crab rangoons. A couple years ago I created a hot & sour soup recipe that I am quite happy with. (It’s on my old blog — I’ll have to move that post over here!). But crab rangoons always seemed like they’d be fussy (and fried — and I don’t really like to deep fry food in my kitchen). After browsing several recipes for crab dip, I cobbled together a recipe for crab rangoon dip! It is so easy to put together and was a big hit when I brought it to a girls’ night out dinner (my friends are the best recipe testers).

Creamy Crab Rangoon Dip

Last night I made it again, just to make sure I had everything right (not because I wanted to lick the bowl or anything, LOL!). My family also raved about it, including my picky son who remarked, “Actually, it’s not bad!” Trust me — that was a compliment. This is a dip that I think will go into frequent rotation around here!

Creamy Crab Rangoon Dip with Wonton Chips
An easy, cheesy, yummy dip. Perfect when you have a craving for those delicious crab rangoons from your favorite Chinese restaurant!
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  1. 6-oz. can of crabmeat
  2. 4 oz. softened cream cheese.
  3. 1/3 c. mayonnaise
  4. 1/2 tsp. Worstershire sauce
  5. 1/2 tsp. Tabasco sauce
  6. 1/2 tsp. lemon juice
  7. 3-4 scallions, chopped
  8. 1/2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
  9. won ton wrappers
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. TO MAKE THE WONTON CHIPS: Take a stack of wonton wrappers and cut on a diagonal so you have piles of triangles. Arrange in a single layer on a cookie sheet and bake for about 5 minutes -- just until the wontons are crispy.
  3. Using a fork or a hand mixer, combine the crabmeat, cream cheese, mayo, Worsterhire sauce, Tabasco sauce, and lemon juice in a medium bowl. Stir until the ingredients are well combined. Add the scallions and mozzeralla cheese and stir to incorporate into the mixture.
  4. Transfer dip to a shallow, oven-safe dish and bake uncovered for approx. 20 minutes until the dip is hot and bubbly.
  5. Garnish the dip with additional scallions if desired. Serve with wonton chips for dipping.
  1. Ovens vary, so be sure to keep an eye on the wonton chips to avoid burning them.
  2. To create an elegant appetizer, line mini muffin tins with the uncooked wontons, then fill with the dip. Bake for approx. 10 minutes or until dip is bubbly and wonton edges are crisp.
  3. No wontons? No problem! Simply substitute tortilla chips.
Pure Sugar

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