Spot A Dog

Spot A Dog by Lucy Micklethwait is one of my favorite early readers. It’s an amazing book because it combines: early reading skills, famous art, the classic game of  I spy, and dogs! The text itself is simple but it is elevated by diverse pieces of art by various famous painters, the juxtaposition is perfect. Another interest is added by the hunt for man’s best friend. My children love looking for the dogs hidden in plain view, the search gives them a chance to rest from the labors of reading and it deepens their appreciation for art.  Little details and depth are slowly realized as they  search the paintings: a bee on a flower, a fly,  a sleeping cat, a dappled dog!  The domestic touch can be surprising.

-Mrs. Karl T. Cooper, Jr.



Four Pretty Things for your Daily Dinner Table


David Payne: Breakfast room at Point Farm | por Magnaverde

1. Salt cellar
Use any small bowl or dish you like, with or without a spoon, and fill partway with your salt of choice.  A salt cellar allows each diner finer control over amount of seasoning.  I like a common dish which everyone reaches and pinches from.  It ties the table together and feels completely different from shaking salt: more archaic, a hint of Medieval festivity.

This beautiful print is from: Zebedeeprint

A Zebedeeprint

 2. Water Pitcher
At my college, every table had a common water pitcher, including ice.  It looks good on the table, guarantees a well-chilled refill, and provides opportunities to serve the people sitting with you when you follow “you kill it, you fill it.”  Ordinary water is more interesting and delicious to drink when poured from a cold pitcher.  Pindar said: Water is best.  So give it a vessel of honor.
3. Bread basket.
 Ordinary bread also gains charm when served in a basket lined with your nicest kitchen towel. As with water, we can become immune to the beauty of this daily mercy.  A bread basket reminds us how good it is.
Image result for bread basket painting
4. Cloth napkins.
Honor each person seated at your table, even if they are “only” your family members, with his own piece of clean table linen.  I lived in a household where cloth napkins appeared at every dinner and it added dignity to the daily meal, even with young people just learning to feed themselves present.  I want to start this custom in my own home.




 The specific items you decide to use will reflect your family identity and add character to your table.




-Mrs. Aldertree

Best of 2017

I reached my personal reading goal of 52 books for 2017!  Here’s the Best of 2017:

The Best Nonfiction: Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser with Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon and Ina May Gaskin’s guide to Childbirth a close second and third. dscn6455


Best Fiction (adult): Lavinia by Ursula K. Le Guin. Guided by Virgil, Lavinia tells her story. Le Guin beautifully blends history, tradition, myth, and poetry into an elegant work of fiction. 

Best Children’s Story Book: The Reluctant Dragon by Kenneth Graham Pictures by Ernest Shepherd.  Whilst trying to fulfill my children’s desire for more dragon stories, (My Father’s Dragon was a hit) we stumbled upon this wonderful book at our local library. It is a classic, a new favorite of ours. Runner ups: Snowflake Bentley and The Mousewife by Rumer Godden

Best Children’s Chapter-book Fiction: We read a lot of Chapter-books this year and so it’s hard to choose but  The Secret Garden was the best. We also Loved: A Little Princess, The Princess and The GoblinBecause of Winn-Dixie by Kate Dicamillo and Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book.

Best Spiritual Reading: Searching for and Maintaining Peace by Fr. Jacques Phillippe. This book is an excellent Spiritual guide to Peace and easy to read. I read it in a few days but it would be a good slow read or daily devotional.

Best Book of Poetry: One of my all time favorites, Christina Rossetti’s Sing-Song.  

What were some of  your favorites from 2017? Have any reading goals for 2018?

My Complete Reading List is here 

This Year’s Book Wish List

The Golden Bible New Testament A Giant Golden Book

Image result for golden book prayers ann provenson

Isn’t it beautiful! Alice and martin Provensen are such talented illustrators .

The Little White horse by Elizabeth Goudge

I’d love a hardcover edition of this one!

Anything by Rumer Godden that I don’t already have  :


I recently bought this one:

godden 5


Gifts Ideas (That Have Been A Hit) From A Wanna-Be-Minimalist, Mother of Four.

Here’s A List of Gifts That have been a hit in our home :


Butterfly wings, Simple, inexpensive and my girls still play with them  three years later people-  three


Product Details

Flash lights again practical, simple and my children love them. For older children Reading lights.

tooth brush


Battery Operated Toothbrushes I know, it’s terribly practical, arguably worse than socks, and maybe my children are odd but they love getting these. I also buy my girls new hair ties, clips, brushes and the men in my life may get combs & shaving supplies (lame or genius? You decide).


Water Colored Coloring pencils   for the older children and Crayons for the younger ones.  I also get new pencil sharpeners and They usually get a coloring book or a new notebook to go with them. Cute Bookbags and pencil cases are always nice to have (I love goldfish) I found this at TheCrownedRabbit (I love etsy):

Blocks, and if you already have blocks (most of us do)  just sneak some of the old blocks from the toy room, take a sharpie, and make them into buildings, and ta-da new blocks!: here's an EXTREMELY easy way to personalize some plain wooden blocks: grab a sharpie and decorate them with architectural details / window frames / etc.

Balancing toys. I love balancing toys and so do babies, toddlers and older children. The great thing about them is you can just store them with the blocks. I have bought a few sets in the past and I found these on etsy:

so cute, admittedly pricey, but cute! There are lots of other (more affordable) on etsy. (Be careful when buying online sometimes it’s hard to tell the scale and they turn out to be choking hazard size. )

Sugar Lulu Sweet Savings Bank SetPiggy Banks. The piggy banks I bought last year are still in use. I like the ones divided up into save, spend, give. You can put little treats inside too.

These Holy Heroes CDs are really wonderful for boys or girls, all my children love listening to them, and I’ve learned a lot too.

Still got nothing? What activities are they in? My girls are in gymnastics so new leotards, silly scrunches are always welcomed. Movies are also fun to get and of course, Books, I always get them Books. But that’s for another post . .


And for the record,  socks make a great gift.


-Mrs. Karl T. Cooper, Jr.

Owney The Mail Pouch Pooch

Owney, the Mail-Pouch Pooch

The book Owney the Mail Pouch Pooch is a tale of luck and adventure, as well as a celebration of the history of the US Post Office.  But at its heart, it is a dog story, for dog lovers, by dog lovers.

The dedications at the beginning of the book are to the beloved canines of the author and illustrator, which set the tone for the book, that covers an interesting historical time through the lens of a dog, Owney, who found himself working for the US Post office from 1888 to 1897.

The story, written by Mona Kerby, begins with the dog finding shelter in the Albany, NY post office, winning the hearts of the men who worked there, who in turn gained the loyalty of the dog for the US Postal employees and the US mail.

The story has the dog traveling by train to the various post offices of the country in his self-appointed task of looking after the US mail.  He quickly gains notoriety around the country as the mail dog and receives medallions from the post offices he visits, and every time he returns to the Albany office they can, by means of the medallions, trace his journeys.

He travels across the country and even around the world as the story unfolds.

The illustrations by Lynne Barasch depict late 19th century USA with a carefree and cheerful style that in keeping with the historical but lighthearted feel of the story.Image result for illustrations by Lynne Barasch owney the mail pouch pooch

The last illustration before the appendix is not an illustration at all but a photograph of the dog Owney on board one of the trains with the post office employees in the foreground.  This brought the history to life as it became apparent that this was a true story about a real dog.

On Saturday, September 15th 2012 the Danbury Railways Museum honored Owney, the dog who became the mascot of the United States Postal Service in the late 19th century. Back then mail was primarily carried across the nation by rail.

The last two pages talk about the process of researching for the story with a little more in depth historical detail of this famous dog.  I found it to be an excellent read and the children to whom I read it, my girls of 8, 6 and 4 agreed.  We spent some time afterwards discussing the story and decided that the next time we were in Washington, DC we should stop by the Post Office museum to see Owney, persevered by taxidermy as well as his bronze statue out front.

Image result for owney the bronze statue

-Mr. Karl Cooper, Jr.