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

Every guide to curb appeal should include this classic staple: the American flag. Via Southern Hospitality. #curappealideas #flagday #parioticcurbappeal

“Those who have long enjoyed such privileges as we enjoy forget in time that men have died to win them.” ~ Franklin D. Roosevelt

In the spring of 1915, shortly after losing a friend in Ypres, Belgium a Canadian doctor, Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae was inspired by the sight of poppies growing in battle-scarred fields to write a now-famous poem called “In Flanders Fields.”  After the First World War, the poppy was adopted as a “The Flower of Remembrance,” and is worn in memory of our veterans.  The poppy grows in absence of other flowers and only in ground that has been churned.  

“…And I’m proud to be an American
Where at least I know I’m free
And I won’t forget the men who died
Who gave that right to me
And I’d gladly stand up next to you
And defend Her still today
‘Cause there ain’t no doubt
I love this land
God Bless the U.S.A.” ~ Lee Greenwood

Something pretty ~ Visit Here

Dear friends,  all across this great land of ours, we are observing Memorial Day Weekend.  A 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.  It is especially a time we honor and remember our fallen heroes.  In remembrance of all veterans as well as active service members, I wish you and yours a most beautiful Memorial Day Weekend.  Enjoy your celebrations and be safe!



“No arsenal, or no weapon in the arsenals of the world, is so formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women.”  ~ Ronald Reagan





Au Revoir,



Images: Via Pinterest

youtube – Lee Greenwood





















Norman, and His 250 Gladiolas

“Friends are like flowers. They fill the world with beauty.” ~ Celeste Barnard

Gladiolus Manhattan - Longfield GardensGladiola, Manhattan

Good morning, my friends.  Today, I would like to share a story about my dear friend Norman and ‘his’ 250 gladiolas.  So find your coffee/tea.  I believe this post will make you smile and who knows ~ you just may become inspired to plant gladiolas.

Norman was a retired Navy Commander.  I always had a hard time imagining him in that role, as he was a kind, gentle and happy soul.  Not, that Navy Commanders don’t possess these qualities.  However, I think, their position in the military requires a completely different demeanor.  Norman always wore a huge smile and perhaps his gentle way is what made him such a great teacher.  Yes, after his military retirement, his second career was teaching.  He was a special education teacher at the high school where my husband taught. 

Norman became a wonderful friend to my husband and me.  Always offering to help us with any ongoing project we may have undertaken,  showing up on our doorstep when my mom had surgery and I was unable to travel due to a terrible snow storm, and always sharing the goodness from his garden in the form of something delicious or something gorgeous.  Norman taught me a great deal about gardening and became one of my all-time best friends.


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


One early June day, Norman arrived at our home carrying a rather large box.  I poured him his usual large glass of tea and we proceeded to the rockers on the back porch, his favorite spot.  He didn’t seem to be his jovial self this particular day.  But after a bit of conversation, he said, “Sandra, do you like gladiolas?”  When I responded with a ‘yes’, little did I know what was in store for me.  Norman went on to explain he was having knee surgery and gardening would be off limits for him the remainder of the summer.  Then he reached over and picked up the large box and shared the contents ~ 250 gladiola corms.

Probably you are wondering, “Why would anyone order 250 gladiolas?”   Well, you see, Norman had a large farm and had great visions of establishing a ‘come and cut’ area for a wide variety of beautiful blooms.  He had ordered the gladiolas before his knee took a downward turn and not wanting the corms to become soft and rot, he was bringing them to me with hopes I would plant them.  Then in the fall, he planned for us to dig and share the corms.  

Gladiolus My Love - Longfield GardensGladiola, My Love

“Gardeners are some of the loveliest people, I think it comes from being a nurturer, and the nature of patience and acceptance you plant things never knowing exactly how they’ll turn out, it’s kind of a metaphor for life.” ~ Rachel Ashwell

When Norman left that day, Mike became busy with his trusty and well used Troy-Built rototiller, tilling space for 250 gladiolas.  And, I was behind him shaping the rows.  During the next few days, I managed to plant all of the gladiolas, having no idea of the beauty I would soon see.  

Norman’s surgery went well and as the weeks passed, the gladiolas began to peak through the soil.  Under the boiling Virginia sun, our garden quickly became a vast array of color and blooms.  I cut gladiolas by the buckets, filled our home, took them to work, and gave them to everyone I knew.  And, of course, I took them to Norman.  How wonderful it was to see his huge smile again.  To say he was thrilled was a total understatement.

Gladiolus Andrews- Longfield GardensGladiola, Andrews

“The blossoms cannot tell what becomes of its fragrance; and no man can tell what becomes of his influence.” ~ Henry Ward Beecher

Gladiolus Jester Gold - Longfield Gardens Gladiola, Jester Gold

I never see a gladiola without thinking of my dear friend.  Norman not only taught me so much about gardening, but by his example, he taught me a great deal about friendship.  Sadly, my friend passed away shortly before we returned to West Virginia.  I miss him to this day and can still hear his laughter and see his huge smile.  Truly, life hands us gifts as we go along.  I will always be grateful for the gift of knowing Norman, our friendship, and the influence he had on my life.  

A few weeks ago we planted several of the brilliant red Manhattan Gladiolas, and they are on their way up.  I will smile and think of my friend when they bloom.  And, perhaps after reading this, you have become inspired to plant a few as well.  Norman would like that. 


“Enduring friendship is a precious perennial that refuses to surrender to the elements. Deep roots of devotion provide beauty and hope throughout life’s darkest seasons. Cherish such blossoms, for their fragrance, is rare.” ~ Greta Crank



Wishing you a day filled with beauty and joy.


Au Revoir,


Authors Notes: A special thanks to my friend, Greta Crank, for graciously allowing me to use her quote.

The Gladiola symbolizes honor and remembrance, strength of character, faithfulness, sincerity, and integrity.

 Images:  Longfield Gardens


Sunday Thoughts ~ May 19, 2019

“That which we elect to surround ourselves with becomes the museum of our soul and the archive of our experiences.” ~ Thomas Jefferson


Zinnias in our garden ~ summer, 2018.

“A garden is a friend you can visit anytime.” ~ unknown

“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.” ~ Charles W. Eliot

silver-frog: “Toujours la même triste musique. ”

“Where words leave off, music begins.” ~ Heinrich Heine

“The days come and go but they say nothing, and if we do not use the gifts they bring, they carry them silently away.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Dear friends, perhaps the post this morning stems from my becoming a wee bit older, and the fact my husband is about to have a milestone birthday in June.  However, I do believe what and who’ we surround ourselves with is so important.  For me, the garden, books and beautiful music are the best of friends and the greatest company.  Now and again, I think it is beneficial for each of us to remember the ‘gifts the days bring’ and to do everything possible to keep them from being ‘carried silently away.’   So with that being said, know…


I wish you and yours a beautiful day.

And, may the week ahead bring you kind people,

moments of joy, and blue skies.

Au Revoir,



Images: Michael S. Lambiotte and tumblr















Mother’s Day ~ May 12, 2019

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

Renowned pediatrician and TV doctor, Dr. Meg Meeker joined journalist and blogger, Candace Rose Anderson of the website Candie Anderson ( for an interview recently to share tips for new parents returning to work. She also dished on what parents should share with their child's caregiver, and what to discuss with their employer as well.

“My Mother, my friend so dear,
Throughout my life, you’re always near.
A tender smile to guide my way,
You’re the sunshine to light my day.” ~ Unknown

Miniature Carnations - Year Round

In 1907, Anna Jarvis began a campaign to establish a Mother’s Day celebration in the United States.  Ms. Jarvis persuaded her mother’s church, St. Andrew’s Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia, to celebrate Mother’s Day on the second anniversary of her mother’s death.  This was the second Sunday of May 1908.  Ms. Jarvis sent 500 white carnations to the church, hoping the flowers would be distributed to all mothers in attendance and in the community.   

By the next year, Mother’s Day was celebrated in Philadelphia, where Ms. Jarvis made her home.  Following this celebration, she and her supporters began to write to ministers, businessmen, and politicians trying to establish a national Mother’s Day.  They were successful and by 1911 Mother’s Day was celebrated in almost every state.  Furthermore, in 1914 President Woodrow Wilson made the official announcement proclaiming Mother’s Day as a national holiday which was to be observed each year on the second Sunday of May.

Additionally, the gift of the white carnations on that Sunday in 1908 began the tradition of gifting flowers on Mother’s Day.  In general, carnations express love, fascination, and distinction.  White carnations suggest pure love, while pink carnations carry the greatest significance, beginning with the belief they first appeared on earth from the Virgin Mary’s tears ~ making them the symbol of a mother’s undying love.

Of all the special joys in life,
The big ones and the small,
A mother’s love and tenderness
Is the greatest of them all.” ~ Unknown

“Mothers hold their children’s hands for a short while, but their hearts forever.” ~ Unknown

“The love of a mother is the veil of a softer light between the heart and the heavenly Father.” ~ Samuel Taylor Coleridge


“Men are what their mothers made them.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

“I will fight for my children on any level so they can reach their potential as human beings and in their public duties.” ~ Princess Diana

aphrodisijackk: “Diana & Harry (1986) ”


“Remember when you go into the world to keep your eyes and ears wide open.  And to be kind.  Love one another.  Take care of each other.  Tell the truth.  Always do your best…

Explore new paths and have fun.  Know that you are loved like crazy.  Give thanks for all your blessings.

Above all else, LOVE and you will do wonderful things in this world.” ~ Rebecca Puig


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



Dear friends, wishing all mothers a beautiful and love-filled day.  You are honored, loved, and appreciated for everything you do to make our world a better place.  And, these same wishes go to all the women who have spent their time and love mentoring and teaching those who are not their own.  You make a difference in the lives of many children.

Au Revoir,




Images:  via tumblr and pinterest









































Sunday Thoughts ~ May 5, 2019

“The spring came suddenly, bursting upon the world as a child bursts into a room, with a laugh and a shout and hands full of flowers.” ~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Good morning, dear friends.  I believe Longfellow was certainly correct in his thoughts about Spring.  And, in my opinion, the little girl in the painting perfectly expresses his thoughts.  When I found the photo of this painting a few years ago, there was no information about it, which was disappointing, but that doesn’t keep me from loving the work.  I hope it makes you smile.

While here in North Central West Virginia, spring is slowly unfolding into all her magnificent glory,  I know there are several places in the U.S. and Canada still watching winter trying to leave.  So I hope these images and lovely words will be reassuring if spring is slow in making her way to your corner of the world.

justbelieve2him: “*~ Yellow Warbler in Magnolia ~* Photo by: Karen Lee Lewis ”

“The beautiful spring came; and when Nature resumes her loveliness, the human soul is apt to revive also.” ~ Harriet Ann Jacobs

The Year’s at the Spring, by Robert Browning


“The year’s at the spring,
And day’s at the morn;
Morning’s at seven;
The hill-side’s dew-pearled;
The lark’s on the wing;
The snail’s on the thorn;
God’s in his Heaven—
All’s right with the world!”

“Spring is God’s way of saying, ‘One more time!’ ” ~ Robert Orben

Wishing you and yours love, peace, and joy.

And, a day which is Heaven-sent. 

Au Revoir,


Notes:  Images via tumblr

Things that Make My Heart Sing!

“Laughter is timeless, imagination has no age, dreams are forever.” – Walt Disney

Somewhere in France.

Good morning, dear friends.  The words from Mr. Disney are some of my most favorite.  They always encourage me to remember my dreams, such as my dream of visiting France.  The beauty and culture of the awe-inspiring country truly tugs at my heart and I do hope to visit her one day. 

But, there are many other things which make my heart sing.  Gorgeous blooms, the magnificent beauty of nature, and expressive words written in such a way so as to move one to tears, are just a few things of which will forever hold my heart.

“Beauty hath strange power.” ~ John Milton


“The soul should always stand ajar, ready to welcome the ecstatic experience.” ~ Emily Dickinson


Whenever I come upon a beautiful gate, I always wonder what lies beyond.  Do you?  Surely, there will be exquisite blooms.


“A flower’s appeal is in its contradictions – so delicate in form yet- strong in fragrance, so small in size yet big in beauty, so short in life yet long on effect. ~ Adabella Radici


I always wonder if I may meet a plant I have not grown, or perhaps simply see examples of ones I dearly love.

Maybe I will see an unexpected planting with a lovely color combination.  Or, a stunning design…

. by maria.ccttaviani.rivera

such as a beautiful French Parterre.  If you are not familiar with the garden design term parterre, it means a garden within a garden.   And, in my opinion, they are beautiful.  Lots of work, but beautiful.

And, I can become giddy when I see a pretty piece of statuary, almost hidden.  I like to think perhaps, it was placed in such a heavenly spot by the angels and not by man.


“Sometimes the beauty is so deep it pierces us with longing. For what? For life as it was meant to be. Beauty reminds us of an Eden we have never known, but somehow our hearts were created for.” ~  Stasi Eldredge


Along with all the glorious beauty of nature, there are also beautiful people who inspire me.  Two quite famous souls who never fail me are…

Alexandra Stoddard, who wrote, “When you experience true beauty, you find yourself being lifted by the wings of harmony.”

Whenever I need a lift or a nudge, I always turn to Alexandra Stoddard.  She not only had a marvelous career as an interior designer, but she is a gifted writer.  She has the unique ability to write in a way that makes one stop and truly think about her words, thereby offering great inspiration.  Alexandra has traveled the world and is passionate about beauty.  She continues to write from her home in Connecticut.


Charles Faudree who wrote, “My greatest hope is that when I’m gone, people will remember I created something beautiful.”  

Charles Faudree created amazing beauty.  Sadly, the world lost him a few years ago, but his legacy of the beauty he created still lives on.  He is most famous for his remarkable talent of mixing objects, patterns, and colors which created rooms with vibrant personalities and unmatched beauty.  Mr. Faudree worked throughout the United States and Europe and was the author of several wonderfully informative books on French Country design.

“Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” ~Pablo Picasso

And of course, art makes my heart happy.  Because we are all different, the art which speaks to us will, therefore, be different for each of us.  Two of my favorite artists are Claude Monet and Roger Mühl.

The Artist's Garden at Giverny, c.1900 Art Print at The Artist’s Garden at Giverny, by Claude Monet

The work of Claude Monet truly makes my heart pound.  When Monet wrote, “Put your hand in mine and let us help one another to see things better,” I felt as though he was talking to me.  He wanted me to pay attention to beauty. He took my hand and helped my eyes open wide to nature and the gifts of many talented souls. 

And the work of Roger Mühl almost makes me weak in the knees.  What he can do with color is captivating.  He lived and worked in Mougins, France until his death in 2008.  Mühl was dear friends with Alexandra Stoddard and her husband Peter Brown.  

Village Le Matin, by Roger Mühl

The color in this piece, which hangs in our upstairs hallway, makes me so happy.  It and two others similar, greet me many times throughout the day.

“We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race.  And the human race is filled with passion.  And medicine, law, business, engineering ~ these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life.  But poetry, beauty, romance, love ~ these are what we stay alive for.” ~ Robin Williams

Princess Cathy, Tree Peony.  She is about to open in our garden.

In closing, I hope you have enjoyed your visit this morning.  I would love to hear the things which touch your heart and make it sing.  What and who makes you weak in the knees?  We all need things and people who inspire us and keep us moving forward.   As said by Robin Williams ~ “… poetry, beauty, romance, and love are what we stay alive for.”  May you always be inspired to let your imagination wander and create dreams you treasure.  Because they may come true. 


Wishing you beautiful spring days, full of joy and laughter!


Au Revoir,


Images: via Pinterest, tumblr, Michael S. Lambiotte


















































Sunday Thoughts ~ April 28, 2019

“There is nothing that makes its way more directly to the soul than beauty.” ~ Joseph Addison

“How my heart gladdened, as the light of spring came from the sun, with zephyrs, and with showers, waking the earth to beauty, and the woods to music.” ~ James G. Percival


Dear friends, wishing you and yours a day of beauty and joy.


“May all thy hours be winged with pleasure.” ~ Lord Byron

Au Revoir, 




Image: via Tumblr

The tree in the photo is a Golden Rain Tree.



Easter Sunday ~ April 21, 2019

“Loveliest of trees, the cherry now is hung with bloom along the bough, and stands about the woodland ride Wearing white for Eastertide.” ~ A. E. Housman

“Easter Bells” ~ Edna Dean Proctor

“I think of the garden after the rain;
And hope to my heart comes singing,
At morn the cherry-blooms will be white,
And the Easter bells be ringing!”


Dear friends, wishing you and all those you love a beautiful and peaceful Easter.

May your hearts and homes be filled with abundant blessings.

And most of all …

May you rejoice in this glorious and Holy day. 


“For… it is Easter Morn and life and love and peace are all new born.”~ Alice Freeman Palmer



Joyeuse Pâques,




Notes: Images, via tumblr

Translation of Joyeuse Pâques, Happy Easter















Something Delicious is Cooking!

“In France, cooking is a serious art form and a national sport.” ~ Julia Child

Good morning, dear friends.  It has been a while since I have sent you a recipe.  Therefore, I am taking care of that today.  Last week I made Risotto with Peas and Shrimp, for dinner.  And, hungry Mike snapped this photo before his plate was placed on the table.  He thought it looked so delicious, he was going to post it on Facebook.  So, please forgive the kitchen towel, he was interested in what was on the plate, not what the plate was on.   

All this being said,when his photo went on Facebook, several readers asked for the recipe.  Many folks shy away from making Risotto.  It can be time-consuming, with recipes calling for ladle after ladle of hot broth being added and stirred into the risotto.  But this recipe is different, it is made in the oven.

Image may contain: food

The risotto recipe is Ina Garten’s, and I have made it for several years.  It is no-fail and delicious.  The recipe for the shrimp is my creation and is a nice addition to the risotto.

Ina Garten’s Oven Risotto

  • 1½ cups Arborio rice (no substitution)
  • 5 cups simmering chicken broth ~ a 48 oz. box of chicken broth or homemade
  • 1 cup freshly grated (no substitutions) Parmesan cheese 
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced  
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup frozen peas (yes, frozen)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Place the rice and 4 cups of the simmering chicken stock in a Dutch oven. Cover and bake for 45 minutes, until most of the liquid is absorbed and the rice is al dente. Remove from the oven, (this is where it helps to have another person handy to stir) add the remaining cup of chicken stock, the Parmesan, wine, butter, salt, and pepper, and stir vigorously for 2 to 3 minutes, until the rice is thick and creamy. Add the frozen peas and stir until heated through. Serve hot.  Should the rice become too thick and not creamy enough, add a little more broth.  Also, should you have leftovers, reserve any remaining chicken broth to add to the risotto when re-heating.


“We may live without poetry, music and art; We may live without conscience, and live without heart; We may live without friends; we may live without books; But civilized man cannot live without cooks.” ~ Edward Bulwer-Lytton


Sandra’s Sauteed Lemon and Garlic Shrimp

1 pound of peeled and deveined large shrimp with tails on. 

Juice of 2 lemons and zest of 1, plus 1 lemon for garnish

2-3 tsp. of garlic paste

1/4 cup fresh parsley chopped, reserve a bit for garnish

3 Tbls. olive oil

2 Tbls. butter

salt and pepper

Note:  The lemon and parsley for garnish are optional, but add to the dish.

Directions: Once, your Risotto is in the oven, juice, and zest the lemons.  Chop the parsley.  About 15 minutes before the risotto is finished baking, start the shrimp.  In a skillet, large enough to hold the shrimp so they can be easily turned,  place olive oil and butter.  Let this heat until it sizzles.  Add, lemon juice, lemon zest and garlic paste.  Stir well, then add shrimp, sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.  Cook for about 1-2 minutes on each side until shrimp is a pretty pink.  Add parsley and stir.

Serve the risotto in your choice of bowl and top with the shrimp.  Garnish with lemon wedges and parsley.  If you choose you can add a bit of the lemon broth from the skillet to your dish.  (Hubby likes this)  This is perfect with a garden salad and a white or rosé wine. 

FYI ~ Sams Club (in our area) is now carrying Whispering Angel rosé, a lovely wine.

“The secret of good cooking is, first, having a love of it.” ~ James Beard


So, if you are interested in making a special meal without a huge amount of work, I hope you will try these recipes.  They are guaranteed to bring you rave reviews. Bon Appétit!


Au Revoir,





Image: M.S. Lambiotte

Sunday Thoughts, April 14, 2019

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:” ~ Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Good morning, my dear friends.  Today, I would like to share a piece which came to me by the way of my mom.  She included it in a box of irises she sent to me, probably in the early 1970’s.  Mom loved to spend time in used book stores and she found the piece in an old garden book.  Gardening teaches us many lessons and this lovely piece, in my opinion, speaks well to the parallel of the garden to our lives.  It was not titled and the author unknown.  So, I titled it ~ A Gardeners Thoughts.  I believe it to be lovely Sunday morning reading, hope you will think so too.

A Gardeners Thoughts ~ unknown

“For me, gardening is a form of prayer. Most people have an awareness of life and death, but few have an awareness of life, death, and life again. Gardeners do though.

Bulbs come up every spring. Then in winter, it looks like there’s nothing there, no hope for life ever again. Then, Hallelujah! Next spring they’re back even fuller. Perennials ~ same thing.

Annuals have a slightly different lesson. Annuals really do die, but they broadcast seeds before they go. Where there was only one calendula the year before, there will be ten this year, and one day, they will fill every empty space in your garden. Annuals are a lesson in the difference one living thing, plant or person, can make, and how their presence resonates long after they’re gone. There again, the effects are not immediate. There is always the winter. And when you consider the garden as a whole, well, winter is a time to reflect, a time to dream. It gives you time to ask the big questions…

Gardening is an affirmation of divine timing. Some years, in early spring, my enthusiasm takes an ugly turn, and I seemingly believe I can make spring happen earlier than it normally would, if I just work hard enough, if I till enough, compost enough, harden off seedlings earlier than I normally would. In the end, I wind up with twelve flats of dead seedlings. Then I direct seed a couple months later, and with much less effort, everything grows into the full glory it was destined to encompass. ‘To everything, there is a season.’  Amen.”


“Who loves a garden, his Eden keeps.” ~ A. B. Alcott



Wishing you and yours a glorious spring day and week ahead.


May you discover great joy in the beauty and miracle of the season.

Thanks so much for your visit!


Au Revoir,



Images:  via tumblr