‘Sunday Thoughts’ ~ “Green Fingers”

“If you wish to make anything grow, you must understand it, and understand it in a very real sense. ‘Green fingers’ are a fact, and a mystery only to the unpracticed. But green fingers are the extensions of a verdant heart.” ~ Russell Page

Good Sunday morning, beautiful souls.  I do hope this finds everyone continuing to be well.   

“At the heart of gardening there is a belief in the miraculous.” ~ Mirabel Osler

This week, as I was going through my many pages of quotes and writings, I came across the opening quote by Russel Page.  About gardening and “green fingers.”  I had to laugh and it gave me a great memory of my dear mom.  As many of you may know, mom was an avid gardener, and a talented one as well.  She once had a friend who was visiting her garden say, “Louise, I do believe you could put a broom handle in the ground and it would sprout and grow.”  Mom and I laughed over those words many times.

Narcissus, Rip van Winkle (double heirloom)

But, as you might imagine, there is more to this story.  Now, the virus hasn’t caused me to take leave of my senses and I know it is a bit early to be thinking of spring blooms.  However, let me explain.  In the very early spring of this year, probably mid-March, Mike and I were in the garden and were looking for a daffodil we knew we needed to move because it was not getting enough sun, which should have been done last fall.  This daffodil is special to us as it had been on his grandparent’s farm in Pennsylvania.  The daffodil is named Rip van Winkle, an heirloom daffodil.  ‘Rip,’ as we call him, takes a little getting used to, but he does grow on you and has gorgeous green shading.  He looks like someone who is having a really bad hair day.  Anyway, on this spring day, good fortune was with us and we found Rip.  I reached down to put a stick in the ground marking its location and came into the house and didn’t give Rip another thought. 

A new Annabelle hydrangea marking daffodil, Rip van Winkle.

Until, one nice warm April day Mike came into the house and said, “Sandra, you are certainly your mother’s daughter.”  Of course, I wanted to know what prompted that remark and so he replied, “Remember that stick you put in the ground to mark the location of Rip?”  “It was a broken hydrangea stick and it has leaves coming from it and it has taken root.”  We both laughed and off to the garden we went to inspect the ‘stick.’  Now, I couldn’t have started a hydrangea using this method if I had tried, but there it was, a new Annabelle hydrangea with leaves and it was taking root.  

Annabelle hydrangeas in our garden.

“My green thumb came only as a result of the mistakes I made while learning to see things from the plant’s point of view.” ~ H. Fred Ale

Nikko Blue Hydrangeas in our garden, just beginning to turn blue.

Do I believe there are folks with green fingers or green thumbs?  Perhaps, I’m not certain.  But I do believe there are folks who, have suffered the loss of treasured plants, outwitted all sorts of destructive creatures,  endured the wrath of Mother Nature, and even with all of this,  pushed on to become outstanding gardeners.  Why does one pursue such madness?  It is all about the love of beauty and the feeling one has when they have a hand in bringing such beauty to life.  It is the enormous sense of satisfaction that one receives from being rewarded by their hours of work and care, and it is the magnificent peace one has while in the garden.  It is also about memories that will last a lifetime.

“I have found, through years of practice, that people garden in order to make something grow; to interact with nature; to share, to find sanctuary, to heal, to honor the earth, to leave a mark.  Through gardening, we feel whole as we make our personal work of art upon our land.” ~ Julie Moir Messervy

Poppies from France, blooming in our garden.

 

 

Dear friends, I hope you have enjoyed your visit.  Know I wish you and yours a beautiful day.

And…

May your week ahead be filled with lovely moments and kind people.

Amour,

Sandra

 

Note:  Should you have a fondness for the Rip van Winkle daffodil he is available through Old House Gardens which specializes in heirloom bulbs and plants.

Images:  Michael S. Lambiotte, tumblr, Old House Gardens Catalogue

At Table ~ With Dorie Greenspan

“There are times when wisdom cannot be found in the chambers of parliament or the halls of academia but at the unpretentious setting of the kitchen table.” ~ E.A. Bucchianeri

Good morning, dear friends.  And, welcome to ‘At Table.’  This month we will be joining Dorie Greenspan, Around Her French Table.  Now, you may or may not be familiar with Greenspan.  Therefore, today I will share some of what I have learned about her, all of which has come from my reading and from preparing her delicious recipes.  Make yourself comfy, find your coffee/tea, and join me ‘At Table, with Dorie Greenspan.’

“Sometimes I think there are devils at work in the kitchen ~ recipes that are always perfect sometimes come out less than perfect and I can’t figure out why.” ~ Dorie Greenspan

We're definitely making room on our cookie plates for these five treats.

Most likely, one would consider anyone who had burned down their parent’s kitchen at age twelve as one who would probably not go on to become a famous chef or one who would write wonderful cookbooks.  However, that is exactly what happened to Dorie Greenspan.  Although, the kitchen fiasco did prevent her from venturing into the kitchen again until after she was married.  Oh, but when she stepped into the kitchen again, she never stopped cooking or baking.   And to this day, she continues to enjoy her career.

Greenspan is the winner of five James Beard Awards.  They are as follows: One for journalism,  one for her books ~ Baking With Julia, Baking From My Home to Yours, Dorie’s Cookies, and one for being voted into the Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America.  Additionally, twice she has won the Cookbook of the Year Award from the International Association of Culinary Professionals.  Once for Desserts by  Pierre Hermé and once for Around My French Table.  She has also been on the New York Times Bestseller List twice.  Once for Around My French Table and once for Baking Chez Moi.

Greenspan, who considers herself very fortunate, was born in Brooklyn, New York.  Today, she splits her time between New York, Connecticut and Paris.  She has been married to her husband,  Michael since her junior year of college and they have one son, Joshua.  She is the “On Dessert” columnist for the New York Times Magazine,  a contributing editor to Parade Magazine, a long-time contributor to Bon Appétit, and the food critic for the Louis Vuitton City Guide:  New York.

“I always feel that when I send a recipe out into the world, I’m asking you to be my partner in making it…”  Dorie Greenspan 

Around My French Table: More than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours by [Dorie Greenspan, Alan Richardson]

 

Now, I am sure you are anxious to see recipes I have selected from her outstanding book, so I will stop the chatter and get on to a few of my favorites.  I hope you will enjoy them as much as we do.

Gougères (makes about 36)

The easiest way to describe gougères is to call them cheese puffs.  Gougères are made all over France, but they originated in Burgundy where they are always the first thing you receive when you sit down in any restaurant.  They are delightful with a glass of Champagne.  

Note:  These can be frozen in dough form and placed in the oven directly from the freezer.  Nice to have on hand for something to serve at the spur of the moment. 

1/2 cup whole milk

1/2 cup water

8 Tbls. (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces

1/2 tsp. salt

1 cup all-purpose flour

5 large eggs, at room temperature

1 1/2 cups coarsely grated cheese, such as Gruyère (my favorite) or cheddar.

Position oven racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 425.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  Bring the milk, water, butter, and salt to a rapid boil in a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan over high heat.  Add the flour all at once, lower the heat to medium-low, and immediately start stirring energetically with a wooden spoon or heavy whisk.  The dough will come together and a light crust will form on the bottom of the pan.  Keep stirring – with vigor- for another minute or two to dry the dough.  At this point, the dough should be very smooth.  

Turn the dough into the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Let the dough sit for a minute, then add the eggs one by one and beat, beat, beat until the dough is thick and shiny.  Make sure that each egg is completely incorporated before you add the next, and don’t be concerned if the dough separates.  By the time the last egg goes in, the dough will come together again.  Beat in the grated cheese.  Once the dough is made, it should be spooned out immediately.  Using about 1 Tbls. of dough for each gougère, drop the dough from a spoon onto the lined baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches of puff space between the mounds.

Slide the baking sheets into the oven and immediately turn the oven temperature down to 375.  Bake for 12 minutes then rotate the pans from front to back and top to bottom.  Continue baking until the gougères are golden, firm, and puffed.  Another 12 to 15 minutes.  Serve warm or transfer the pans to racks to cool.

Note:  According to Greenspan, when you are an American in France, there is nothing more flattering than to have French people ask you to share your recipe for one of their national treasures and she has had this recipe requested over and over.

“Sitting down to a meal together draws a line around us, it encloses us and strengthens the bonds that connect us with other members of our self-defined clan, shutting out the rest of the world.” ~ Miriam Weinstein

 

M. Jacques’ Armagnac Chicken (serves 4)

Greenspan considers this recipe, Une Petite Merveille (a little marvel).  It was given to her many years ago by Jacques Drouot, the mâitre d’ hôtel at the famous Le Dôme brasserie in Paris.  She has been preparing this recipe for her family and friends ever since it was given to her.

1 Tbls. olive oil

8 small thin-skinned potatoes, scrubbed and halved lengthwise – I use red potatoes

3 medium onions, halved and thinly sliced

2 carrots, trimmed, peeled, and thickly sliced on the diagonal

salt and freshly ground white pepper

1 spring fresh thyme

1 sprig fresh rosemary

1 bay leaf

1 – 3 1/2 pound chicken with wings turned under and feet tied together at room temperature 

1/2 cup Armagnac, Cognac or good Brandy (Armagnac is preferred)

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 450.  You will need a heavy casserole with a tight-fitting cover, one large enough to hold the chicken snugly but still leave room for the vegetables.  A cast-iron enameled dutch oven is perfect.  Put the casserole over medium heat and pour in the oil.  When it is warm, add the vegetables and turn them in the oil for a minute or two until they glisten; season with salt and white pepper.  Stir in the herbs and push everything toward the sides of the pot to make way for the chicken.  Rub chicken all over with salt and white pepper, nestle it in the pot and pour the Armagnac around it.  Leave the pot on the heat for a minute or so to warm the Armagnac, then cover it tightly.  If your lid doesn’t fit tightly cover it with foil and place on the lid.  Slide the pot into the oven and let the chicken roast undisturbed for one hour.

Transfer the pot to the stove and carefully remove the lid and foil, if you have used foil.  Make sure to open the lid away from you as there will bee a lot of steam.  Transfer your beautifully browned chicken to a warm platter or large shallow bowl.  Using a spoon, skim off the fat, and discard it.  Pick out the bay leaf and discard also.  Turn the heat to medium and add the water, stirring to blend with pan juices.  Simmer for about 5 minutes or until it slightly begins to thicken.  Taste for salt and pepper.  Carve the chicken and serve with vegetables and sauce.

NoteBonne Idée (good idea)  Armagnac and prunes are a classic combination in France.  If you like, you can toss 8-12 prunes (pitted or not) into the pot along with the herbs.  These make a sweet and lovely addition to the mixture.  The prunes often simply melt during the cooking process.  You won’t be sorry you tried this.

“Desserts are the fairy tales of the kitchen, a happily-ever-after to supper.” ~ Terri Guillemets

 

Top-Secret Chocolate Mousse (serves 4)

3 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

3 large eggs, separated, at room temperature

pinch of salt

1 1/2 tsp. sugar

Whipped cream or Crème fraîche, for serving (optional)

Gently melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water or in a microwave oven on medium power.

Transfer the chocolate to a bowl that can hold all ingredients.  Using a whisk, stir the egg yolks into the chocolate one at a time.  In a separate bowl beat the egg whites with salt until they start to form peaks.  Beating all the while, gradually add sugar.  Continue to beat until the whites are shiny and hold medium-firm peaks.

Spoon about one-quarter of the whites over the melted chocolate and stir with the whisk until the mixture is almost smooth.  (Stirring in a bit of the whites lightens the chocolate and makes the next step easier.)  Spoon the rest of the whites over the chocolate and using the whisk or a large rubber spatula, very carefully fold them in.  Be as thorough as you can without overworking the mixture.  

Spoon the mousse into individual serving bowls and serve or refrigerate until you are ready to serve.  Cover with plastic wrap, making sure the wrap touches the mousse to prevent the top of the mousse from hardening.

oldfarmhouse: “Inspiration by Valentina Hortus~ ”

“I don’t know if there is a method that I’d like to see younger people bring back, I just want to see everyone of every age in the kitchen.” ~ Dorie Greenspan

Dear Friends, I hope you have enjoyed your time ‘At Table.’

Wishing you a wonderful day 

And…

Only happy times in the kitchen!

 

Bon Appétit,

Sandra

 

 

Images:  Pinterest and tumblr

Recipes:  All are from, Around My French Table, by Dorie Greenspan

Sunday Thoughts ~ Gardeners and Their Shenanigans !

“A gardening friend of mine has quite lost her mind ~ not that it distresses her much ~ and she no longer makes an effort to conceal her madness.” ~ Henry Mitchell

Photo in our garden.  By, Andy Walker, Walker Media

Good Sunday morning, beautiful souls.  I do hope this finds everyone well.  Lately, while enjoying time in our garden, I find myself reflecting on the many treasured gardening friends I have been fortunate to make over the years.  Gardeners form a deep bond of friendship through their shared love of the earth, creating beauty and growing lovely things.  These friendships bring about interesting tales of success and failure, as well as things gardeners do upon finding themselves on the garden path. Some of which, non-gardeners may well consider a “bit off plumb,” as Mike would say.  However, I want to share a couple of these tales this morning and I hope they will begin your day with a smile.

“Gardeners, I think, dream bigger dreams than emperors.” ~ Mary Cantwell

Antique rose blooming in our garden.

Linda, one of my dear gardening friends had been watching a home in her neighborhood she had long admired.  She had heard through the grapevine the house and property may soon be for sale.  The owner of the home was from Russia and her only child was her daughter who lived in Washington state.  Quite a distance from coastal Virginia. 

One evening Linda was out for her daily walk and there it was ~ the ‘For Sale’ sign.  Quickly, she ran home, got in her car, and drove back to the house.  In front of the house, she grabbed the sign, placed it in her trunk, and went home.  Then,  she immediately called the realtor, confessed her sin, and requested to see the home the next morning ~ early.  The home was charming but it was the garden Linda was after.  The garden sloped down to a lovely creek and was full of azaleas and many other beauties.  Namely sequoia trees.  Now, one does not normally see these magnificent trees in Virginia, but they were thriving in this beautiful garden.  The lady from Russia was a brilliant gardener.

Needless to say, Linda and her husband purchased the house on the spot.  It is wonderful when a beautiful and loved garden can be turned over to another gardener who will also love and care for the beauty and appreciate the work which has been done before it became theirs.

“Out of gardens grow fleeting flowers but lasting friendships.” ~Beverly Rose Hopper  

Rosa New Dawn Rosa, New Dawn

My next little tale is about my wonderful and unique gardening friend, Anne.  It is impossible for this world to hold another Anne like this one.  She has a sense of humor that is unmatched,  loves life, is a mom to two sweet little boys (now sweet young men), is unbelievably talented, and above all, is so very real.  Truly, she would never make an effort to “conceal her madness.”  And, I hope she never does,  as it is such a part of her charm. 

 

Anne, Max (on left) and Wes ( on right).

Before Anne and I retired we were ‘partners in crime’ in the Virginia Beach City Public Schools, Department of Human Resources.  To say the least, those were some stressful times.  We helped each other to remain sane and our gardens helped us too.  However, there was additional stress on Anne.  She was going through a ‘difficult’ divorce.  But through it all,  every day I was greeted with her huge smile and something that I always had to figure out later (I am one of those people who gets the joke long after it is told).

One summer evening around 10:00 p.m. I received a call from Anne, “Sandie are you still up?”  Anne was on her way over to our house.  She only lived a few miles from us.  When I saw her coming up the driveway, I turned on all the outside lights.  I wondered what she was up to.  When she arrived by our back porch, out jumped Anne and she slid the doors to her van wide open.  And, what did my eyes see?  Nothing but plants.  The van was exploding with plants and a huge variety of plants.  I said to her, “Anne, what in the world have you done?”  She answered, “He might get  the house, but he will never have my garden.”  Anne had dug up her entire garden, leaving only the holes where plants once were and brought her garden to me for safekeeping.

All of Anne’s plants were on sheets (she had thought ahead).  The two of us drug them around to the side of the house where my garden was and I spent the next few days hilling in her plants, watering them until she would be able to take them to her new home, and her ‘soon to be’ new garden.  One of these plants was her beautiful New Dawn Rose.  She had to cut this rose back considerably to dig and move it.  If you have ever grown a New Dawn in the south you know how massive it can get.  This rose is a magnificent specimen but she has tremendously large canes and even larger thorns.  Anne’s arms and legs clearly showed she was determined to win the struggle of moving this beauty (more like a beast).  

I am happy to say, in spite of this difficult season,  Anne’s life took a lovely turn with a good man, and she continues to garden.  Currently, she is involved in creating fairy gardens with two little girls who live next door.  She lives happily.

Photo of Fairy Garden, by Anne.

 

“I like gardening. It’s a place where I find myself when I need to lose myself.” ~  Alice Sebold 

Out in the garden, out in the windy, swinging dark, under the trees and over the flower-beds, over the grass and under the hedge border, someone is sweeping, sweeping, some old gardener.  Out in the windy, swinging dark, someone is secretly putting in order, someone is creeping, creeping. ~ Katherine Mansfield, Out in the Garden, 1922

 

Dear friends, I hope you have enjoyed your visit and my gardening tales.  

Know, I am wishing you and yours a beautiful day.

  And…

Should you find yourself on the garden path, may it bring you many smiles, only the best of memories,

and friends you will want to “hold with both your hands”.

 

“Hold a true friend with both your hands.” ~ Nigerian Proverb  

 

 

Amour,

Sandra

 

 

 

Note:  I have many more garden tales and will share them from time-to-time.

Images:  Fairy Garden, by Anne.  Other images:  Michael S. Lambiotte, Andy Walker, and Jackson and Perkins catalog.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday Thoughts ~ “…The Sweet, Simple Things Of Life…”

“To find the universal elements enough; to find the air and the water exhilarating; to be refreshed by a morning walk or an evening saunter… to be thrilled by the stars at night; to be elated over a bird’s nest or a wildflower in spring ~ these are some of the rewards of the simple life.” ~ John Burroughs
https://www.instagram.com/dreamywhitelifestyle/

Good Sunday morning, dear friends.  I hope this finds everyone well and under blue skies.  We have been enjoying some lovely weather the past few days.  And as I write this, with the office window open, the smell of the honeysuckle on the arbor is glorious.  I wish I could add the fragrance to this post for you to also enjoy, but perhaps the photo will stir your imagination. 

“I shall take my morning tea with the birds, the trees and the bumbling bees.” ~ Flora Turrill

Definitely, I agree with Flora Turrill, other than I prefer coffee in the morning.  But, the beverage choice doesn’t matter.  The pleasure is to enjoy it, if possible, with the “birds, trees, and bumbling bees.” 

One lesson the virus has taught us is, I believe most of us have learned the difference between what we want and what we need.  Certainly, I truly have.  And, I have always been a believer that all things happen for a reason and I don’t feel the virus was any different.  Perhaps, we needed to be reminded of a few matters of importance.  Such as ~ the simple things, the small joys that touch our hearts, and provide us with wonderful memories.  

“For me, wildflowers are joy-giving. They have enriched my life and fed my soul and given beautiful memories to sustain me.” ~ Lady Bird Johnson

 

image

I have always loved wildflowers and they are abundant in our West Virginia hills.  Perhaps you enjoy them too.  Every area of our land is rich with its own special varieties ~ beauties that thrive in intense heat, poor soil, as well as in freezing weather conditions.  During this pandemic, they seem to be even more plentiful.  Or, maybe part of my lesson was to pay more attention.  Either way, they are lovely, and to see them makes me so happy.

I am fortunate to have many of my mom’s flower and gardening books.  She always took along certain books on wildflower walks to help with plant identification. One of her most favorite things to do was to attend the Wildflower Pilgrimage which is an annual event conducted by the West Virginia Garden Clubs, Inc. and co-sponsored by the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources.  It is held every spring in Blackwater Falls State Park, Davis, West Virginia.

“As I wander’d the forest, the green leaves among, I heard a Wildflower singing a song.” ~ William Blake

Wildflowers truly are one of the “Sweet, Simple Things of Life.”  And how perfectly delightful it would be to have a simple meal with someone you love and adore in a field of wildflowers.  

“The little things? The little moments? They aren’t little.” ~ John Kabat-Zinn

” It is no bad thing to celebrate a simple life.” ~  J. R. R. Tolkien
*
“They say I’m old-fashioned, and live in the past, but sometimes I think progress progresses too fast!” ~ Dr. Seuss
It has been so nice to enjoy time on my bench in the garden.  Listing to the birds chirping in the morning, watching the way the sun shines through the trees and the raindrops sparkling on everything after an early morning shower.  And, pondering a delicious summer dinner.  
Our area is famous for Italian olives and Mike and I love them with cheese, a little bread and of course a glass of wine.  
lablascovegmenu-cookbook: “ From @realisrad on Instagram: Yes | Blueberries + Blackberries ”
Add some fresh berries and you have sweet perfection. 
And for dessert, watermelon.  I am anxiously waiting for those Sugar Babies to hit the market.  Ripe and ice-cold they are pure bliss on a hot summer day.  Mark Twain knew what he was talking about when he said, “When one has tasted watermelon he knows what the angels eat.”

“The true way to live is to enjoy every moment as it passes, and surely it is in the everyday things that the true beauty lies.” ~ Laura Ingalls Wilder

 

Dear friends, I hope you have enjoyed your visit.  Please continue to be careful with regard to the virus.  The experts tell us it is far from over.  And I believe when it is over life will be different.  That is certainly not to say that it might just not be better.  Know I wish you a beautiful day and a lovely week ahead. 

And…

May you enjoy all your moments and find beauty in all that you do. 

 

 

Amour,

Sandra

 

 

 

Authors Notes:  Part of the title of this post was taken from the quote by Laura Ingalls Wilder which reads, “I am beginning to learn that it is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all.”

Honeysuckle Photo:  Michael S. Lambiotte

Images:  Regarding the images on this blog, most are from tumblr, unless otherwise noted.  Most often, I am unable to determine the photographer or where the photo was taken.  All I can say is, The photos are the work of highly talented souls and I would be happy to attach a name if I could locate one.  I find great joy in sharing their work with lovely quotes from my personal collection and am hopeful the two together provide a message of goodwill.

 

Sunday Thoughts ~ June 7, 2020

“In difficult times, solace is always found in beauty’s serenity.” ~ unknown

Good morning, beautiful souls.  I hope this finds everyone well.  And that you are finding comfort during these turbulent times in the beauty of God’s many blessings. 

The smallest of things:  flowers, magnificent trees, fluffy white clouds, and the serenade of bird song ~ lovely rays of sunshine sent to nourish our souls.  Such things are truly a gift from above. 

“I wish you a kinder sea.” ~ Emily Dickinson

A portion of the Legend of the Sand dollar. ~ ‘If one breaks open the center, you will release the five white doves awaiting to spread goodwill and peace.’

 

Dear friends,

Please know I am wishing you a beautiful day and that the angels will walk with you along your path.

And…

May we soon see “kinder seas,” and come to know a better world.

 

Scatter Joy!

Amour,

Sandra

 

 

Images:  Regarding the images on this blog, most are from tumblr, unless otherwise noted.  Most often, I am unable to determine the photographer or where the photo was taken.  All I can say is, “The photos are the work of highly talented souls and I would be happy to attach a name if I could locate one.”  I find great joy in sharing their work with lovely quotes from my personal collection and am hopeful the two together provide a message of goodwill.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday Thoughts ~ May 31, 2020

“The breezes at dawn have secrets to tell you.  Don’t go back to sleep!” ~ Rumi

Good Sunday morning, sweet souls.  Honestly, I have no “secrets to tell you.”  But,”don’t go back to sleep.”  It is such a pretty day.

Can you believe we are about to say goodbye to May?  She came and left in a blink.  Perhaps, there was simply too much going on in our crazy world to really pay attention.  And, I am not just referring to the pandemic or violence issues.  Our weather in North Central West Virginia made life interesting.  We had March in May ~ it was all mixed up.  However, the real May did finally arrive in all her magical glory, bringing with her ‘great joy.’

.

“On May” ~ James Thomson

“Among the changing months, May stands confest
The sweetest, and in fairest colours dressed!
Soft as the breeze that fans the smiling field;
Sweet as the breath that opening roses yield;
Fair as the colour lavish Nature paints
On virgin flowers free from unodorous taints! –
To rural scenes thou tempt’st the busy crowd,
Who, in each grove, thy praises sing aloud!
The blooming belles and shallow beaux, strange sight,
Turn nymphs and swains, and in their sports delight.”

“The gloom of the world is but a shadow.  Behind it, yet within our reach, is joy.  Take joy!” ~ Fra Giovanni, 1513

lilyandthemoorland: “Bluebells and ferns ”

“There is a silent eloquence in every wild bluebell that fills my softened heart with bliss that words could never tell.” ~  Anne Brontë

“The soul gathers its flowers where the heart pours its love.” ~ Quiet Lotus

 

Even though our world has been and continues to be gloomy with regard to the virus, the horrific loss of life, and violence, there remains much beauty and joy. Not only in good times but certainly in these stressful times, Mary Oliver’s words serve to guide us.  “Instructions For Living A Life.” “Pay attention. Be astonished.  Tell about it.”    So, let’s tell about it.  All the good we see happening, the beauty we see on our daily rounds, the silly but sweet things we notice ~ simply everything good and wonderful.  Let that be our focus and I do hope you will share what you see or what happens to you.  One never knows what can inspire another soul or help them feel joyful.  

“One beautiful heart is better than a thousand beautiful faces.” ~ William Shakespeare

@thebouqsco

“Constant kindness can accomplish much. As the sun makes ice melt, kindness causes misunderstanding, mistrust, and hostility to evaporate.” ~Albert Schweitzer

Do You Remember May Basket Day? - May Day Spring Traditions Image, Country Living Magazine

Is there anything sweeter than a surprise bouquet of flowers?  I am always a bit giddy when Mike comes home with a bouquet of something lovely or I find that a friend has left a surprise on my porch.    

image

Or, perhaps, something sweet from a friend or neighbors garden.  Such as beautiful tomatoes or fresh asparagus.   John Berger refers to these things as, “commas of care.”  These things bring joy to others in the receiving, and to ourselves in the giving.

“Remember the quiet wonders. The world has more need of them than it has for warriors.” ~ Charles de Lint

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“The older I get, the surer I am that I’m not running the show.” ~ Leonard Cohen

Enjoying quiet moments, especially in my garden, brings me great joy.  In our world today I feel such times, wherever they may be enjoyed, are vital to our well-being.

“Everything that is made beautiful and fair and lovely is made for the eye of one who sees.” ~ Rumi

 

“There is just wonder right in front of us, and we don’t spend enough time thinking about it.” ~ Michael Pollan

“Compassion is one of those experiences that deeply affects the human heart, whether we give it, receive it, or observe it.” ~ Joan Halifax, Standing on the Edge”

Dear friends, it was most difficult for me to write and compile this post today.  My heart hurts for our world and our country.  I am certain yours does too.  The violence in our country, in addition to the pandemic and loss of life, is almost a little too much for this soul.  However, I continue forward.  As I know in my heart our world needs kindness, beauty, “commas of care,” and inspiration ~ now, more than ever.  How do we get this message out to the world?  That is the real question.  I don’t come close to an answer, perhaps you do.  All I know is, everything bad and good, has a ripple effect.   I also believe that in time, good always wins.  I am holding on to that with all my might, and I hope you will also.  But, I don’t have my head in the sand either and I well understand that…

“The work of today is the history of tomorrow and we are its makers.” ~ Juliette Gordon Low

 

 

Know, I am wishing you and yours a beautiful day and week ahead.  

‘Scatter Joy,’ dear ones!

 

Amour,

Sandra

 

Images:  Regarding the images on this blog, most are from tumblr, unless otherwise noted.  Most often, I am unable to determine the photographer or where the photo was taken.  All I can say is, “The photos are the work of highly talented souls and I would be happy to attach a name if I could locate one.”  I find great joy in sharing their work with lovely quotes from my personal collection and am hopeful the two together provide a message of goodwill.

 

Sunday Thoughts ~ Memorial Day

“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.  We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream.  It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.” ~ Ronald Reagan

oldfarmhouse: “M̸͟͞e̸͟͞m̸͟͞o̸͟͞r̸͟͞i̸͟͞a̸͟͞l̸͟͞ 🇺🇸Day Is Observed H⃟E⃟R⃟E⃟ ”

Good Sunday morning, dear friends.  With all the wet and cold weather we have had, it is hard to believe it is Memorial Day weekend. 

However, even though our weather hasn’t been normal and our world seems upside down, none the less it is Memorial Day Weekend.  A special time we have set aside to celebrate and say thanks to all military personnel and their families for the sacrifices they make or have made for our freedom.  Most importantly, a time to honor and remember our fallen heroes. FINALIZATĂ Fugind de destin ai o singură destinație: locul în … #dragoste # Dragoste # amreading # books # wattpad“For what avail the plough or sail, or land or life, if  freedom fail?” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

Even though our celebrations may be smaller, most of us will celebrate in some way, perhaps a picnic at a lake or by the shore or a barbecue for two at home.  But we will always celebrate in some fashion because we are grateful for our precious freedoms.  Simply, part of the “Red White and Blue” which flows through our veins.FINALIZATĂ Fugind de destin ai o singură destinație: locul în … #dragoste # Dragoste # amreading # books # wattpad“For you have been called to live in freedom…use your freedom to serve one another in love.” ~ Galatians ~ 5:13

“The liberties of our country, the freedoms of our civil Constitution are worth defending at all hazards; it is our duty to defend them against all attacks.” ~ Samuel AdamsFINALIZATĂ Fugind de destin ai o singură destinație: locul în … #dragoste # Dragoste # amreading # books # wattpad“We do not need magic to transform our world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already. We have the power to imagine better.” ~ J.K. ROWLING

 

The little things we do for others make our world sweeter.   A way of “imagining better.”

FINALIZATĂ Fugind de destin ai o singură destinație: locul în … #dragoste # Dragoste # amreading # books # wattpad

In closing, know I wish you and yours a wonderful Memorial Day Weekend.    Hug those you love, heart-to-heart.  And may we all be forever grateful to those who gave their lives for our freedom.

“A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.” ~Joseph Campbell

 

Amour,

Sandra

 

 

Images:  via tumblr and Pinterest

‘At Table’ ~ A Celebration

“Eating together is shelter in stormy weather.” ~ Chuck Harris

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Good morning, dear friends.  And welcome to ‘At Table.”  I have not written an ‘At Table’ post since we were hit with the dreadful virus.  My reason was, shopping became different and difficult, and locating certain ingredients was as well.  Therefore, I did not want to add stress to anyone in searching for ingredients.  In our great land, who would have ever imagined we would be unable to purchase ordinary items such as flour or yeast?  But, I believe I said in a previous post, “We had all become a little spoiled.”  However, I do believe we no longer take the availability of household goods or precious sweet moments for granted. A huge lesson brought front and center to us all.

Memorial Day is fast approaching and our normal celebrations of this important day may be a little different this year.  We may not be with our usual friends and the hugs will be from heart to heart, but we can still celebrate the meaning of the day and each other.  And, of course, that means good food.  So today, rather than discussing a famous chef and their recipes (much more of this to come), I thought I would share a few of my tried and true recipes.  With the exception of one recipe, the other two are from the “Magnolia State” ~ Mississippi.  I don’t think you will have problems locating any of the ingredients and I do believe you will enjoy the recipes.

FINALIZATĂ Fugind de destin ai o singură destinație: locul în … #dragoste # Dragoste # amreading # books # wattpad

“You don’t need a silver fork to eat good food.” ~ Paul Prudhomme

The folks in Carolina are famous for their barbecue.  There has been a long-standing feud regarding whether the best barbecue is a ketchup-based or vinegar-based.  But I can tell you, “I have never eaten better barbecue than this.”   The recipe was given to me years ago from a friend in North Carolina.

Carolina Barbecue

1 – 6lb. Boston Pork Butt roast

6 cups of Apple Cider Vinegar

2 Tbls. crushed red pepper flakes

1 Tbls. Seasoned Salt

2-3 drops of liquid smoke

Coleslaw to add to the top of the barbecue if placing on a bun. 

In one large roaster place pork butt with the fat side down.  Cover with all ingredients except liquid smoke.  Cover with roaster lid or aluminum foil.  Bake at 350 for 4 1/2 hours.  Meat is done when it falls off the bone.  Separate, pull, and chop.  Then place in a colander to drain a little.  In the remaining broth add the liquid smoke. Do not add more than 2-3 drops as it is very strong.  In a large bowl, add the chopped pork and juice to your taste.  

Serve the meat on a plate ~ but it is best served on a bun topped with coleslaw. 

FINALIZATĂ Fugind de destin ai o singură destinație: locul în … #dragoste # Dragoste # amreading # books # wattpad

“It is always wise to make too much potato salad.  Even if you are cooking for two, make enough for five.  Potato salad improves with age ~ that is, if you are lucky enough to have any left over.” ~ Laurie Colwin

This easy make-ahead potato salad is packed with fresh dill, dijon and whole grain mustards, and coated in creamy buttermilk dressing! Perfect for the 4th of July or a summer cookout. | bowlofdelicious.com #potatosalad #makeaheadsides

 

Now,  is there anything that goes better with barbecue than potato salad?  I don’t think so.  The following recipe for Dixie Potato Salad is from my grandmother’s Mississippi cookbook.  Now, I understand potato salad is a personal dish.  However, if you don’t have a recipe which has been handed down for generations, give this one a try.  You won’t be disappointed.

Dixie Potato Salad

4-6 large Yukon Gold potatoes

3 celery hearts, finely chopped ( 1/2 cup)

1 tsp. grated onion

1 and 1/2 cups Hellman’s or Dukes mayonnaise

1/4 cup yellow mustard (I do not use quite this much)

6 hard-boiled eggs (chopped), plus 1 more if you want to slice for the top of the bowl

4 tsp. dill pickle relish-not drained ( I use Wickles)

6 tsp. sweet pickle relish – not drained (I use Wickles)

1 (4 0z. jar) chopped pimientos, drained

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

2 Tbls. chopped fresh dill

2 Tbls. sugar

1/2 tsp. sweet paprika

1/2 tsp. black pepper

1 tsp. salt.

Boil the potatoes in salted water for 20 minutes, or until tender when pierced with a fork.  Drain well and transfer to a large bowl.  Let cool for about 20 minutes or cool enough to handle.  Peel potatoes, the skins will almost slide off.  While the potatoes are warm, add the celery, onion, mayonnaise, mustard, eggs, dill, relishes, pimientos, vinegar, dill, sugar, paprika, salt, and pepper.  Toss with your hands, breaking up some of the potatoes as you go, until mixed well.    If you want to decorate the top, slice the extra hard-boiled egg, and sprinkle with a little paprika.  Cover and chill in the refrigerator overnight.

FINALIZATĂ Fugind de destin ai o singură destinație: locul în … #dragoste # Dragoste # amreading # books # wattpad

“Pie makes everybody happy.” ~ Laurie Halse Anderson

 

Southern Chess Pie

3 large eggs, beaten

1/2 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup (2/3 stick) unsalted butter, melted

1 tsp. vanilla

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 Tbls. all-purpose flour

dash of salt

1 (9-inch) pie crust

Preheat the oven to 350.

In a medium bowl, combine eggs, buttermilk, butter, vanilla, sugar, flour, and salt.  Pour mixture into the pie shell.  Bake until the top is golden brown and the center doesn’t jiggle about 1 hour.  Let cool to room temperature before slicing.

 

Note:  This is an old recipe. If you have never eaten Chess Pie you for are in for a treat.

Chess Pie Recipe. Rich southern pie made with simple ingredients butter, sugar, and eggs.custard pie. This one hails from Mississippi State University. #recipe #pie #chess #southern #hailstate #msstate #Southern

 

Dear friends, I hope you have enjoyed your visit ‘At Table’.  Wishing everyone a lovely Memorial Day Weekend and enjoy all the precious moments.   Hug those you love (heart to heart) and pause for a moment to remember those who have served and those who have died while serving our country,  and those currently serving in our military.  

Have a wonderful day and I hope you will try some of the recipes.

 

Bon Appétit,

Sandra

The fondest memories are made gathered around the table.” ~ unknown

 

FINALIZATĂ Fugind de destin ai o singură destinație: locul în … #dragoste # Dragoste # amreading # books # wattpad

 

 

Images:  via tumblr and Pinterest

 

 

Sunday Thoughts ~ May 17, 2020

“The more I see nature, the more I am amazed at the Creator.” ~ Louis Pasteur

geopsych: “The start of a new day. ”
Good morning, dear friends.  I hope this finds everyone well and that you have enjoyed a lovely week.
We have actually been enjoying spring these past few days.  Spring often arrives slowly in North Central West Virginia.  And, this is one year it has arrived ever so slowly.  However, the spring flower show is underway and I wish I could cast a spell and extend these gorgeous days which are full of blooms.
Beauty does not linger; it only visits. Yet beauty’s visitation affects us and invites us into its rhythm; it calls us to feel, think and act beautifully in the world: to create and live a life that awakens the Beautiful.  Beauty is a gentle, but urgent call to awaken.” ~ John O’Donohue

“Perfumes are the feelings of flowers.” ~ Heinrich Heine

“Hummingbirds are small angels of fleeting joy.” ~ unknown

“Most of us lead far more meaningful lives than we know. Finding meaning is not about doing things differently, it is about seeing familiar things in new ways. We can see life in many ways; with the eye, with the mind, and with intuition. But perhaps it is only for those who have remembered how to see with their heart that life is ever deeply known or fully served.” ~ Rachel Naomi Remen, MD

summer memories | keep walking your path 19/07/14-36
Dear friends, even though, now more than ever, many of us have an abundance of time.  I don’t believe we want to look back on these days and wish we would have savored certain precious moments.  I do not.  Truly, my thoughts are those of John O’ Donohue…

“May you take time
to celebrate the quiet miracles
that seek no attention.”

Wishing you and yours a beautiful day and week ahead.  Stay Well.

“Flowers are the sweetest things God ever made and forgot to put a soul into.” ~ Henry Ward Beecher

Amour,

Sandra

 

 

Images: via tumblr

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday Thoughts ~ Mother’s Day

“Home ~ that blessed word, which opens to the human heart the most perfect glimpse of Heaven, and helps to carry it thither, as on an angel’s wings.” ~ Lydia Maria Child

https://www.instagram.com/sheholdsdearly
“There is something so beautiful, so captivating, about a woman who remains positive, even in the worst of times. Who embraces her husband when trouble arises, who hugs her children and softly whispers words of positive wisdom that only a mother can give. Life can be difficult, but a woman who sees the beauty and light even in the darkest of times, should be celebrated. For she is the seed in the soil that blooms flowers.” ~ unknown

 

Good Sunday morning, sweet souls.  I do hope this finds everyone well on this most special Sunday. 

West Virginia is home to the first celebrated Mother’s Day.  On May 10, 1908, in honor of her mother, Anna Jarvis celebrated this day at St. Andrew’s Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia.  In 1914 Mother’s Day became a U.S. official holiday.  A day set aside to honor mothers and recognize their contributions to society.  And, can we even think of ‘home’ without thinking of our mothers?

“A mother’s arms are more comforting than anyone else’s. ~ Princess Diana

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“My Mother: She is beautiful, softened at the edges and tempered with a spine of steel.  I want to grow old and be like her.” ~ Jodi Picoult

“As a mother, we want to remember all of it. We want to remember the sound their little feet make as they shuffle about the hardwood floors. We want to remember their wild hair and how it blows in the summer wind. We want to remember how they snuggle in when they’re tired and how that makes us feel. We want to remember their little voices.  It’s always the small things at the end of the day.  Living life’s moments.” ~ unknown

Becca H

 

http://instagram.com/taylergolden

oldfarmhouse: ““✨This is one adorable little gardener, and she’s got a one beautiful haul of hydrangeas! I’m a little jealous!✨ Please stop by her gallery and show some love! @momtogs
________________________________________ (Had to reblog, bc it’s...
“It’s also what my mother has instilled in my sisters and me so much, that joy comes from the smallest things,“ she says. “And if you don’t see joy in a perfect avocado or in a great conversation or in running into a friend or getting a job ~ if you don’t see joy in a perfectly beautiful tree in autumn ~ then you are missing your chance at happiness. Because if you don’t find it in the small things and you only wait for big moments, then you’ll just not be a happy person.” ~ Jennifer Garner

“A mother’s love endures through all.” ~ Washington Irving

 

Dear friends, I wish all mothers a beautiful and peaceful day. 

And, the same to all those who have loved, encouraged, taught, or had a hand on a little life.  Love and blessings to you all.

And…

May your day,  from beginning to end,  be full of everyone and everything you hold dear.

“It may be possible to gild pure gold, but who can make his mother more beautiful?” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

Amour,

Sandra

 

 

Images: via tumblr