‘Sunday Thoughts’ ~ The Magic Of Morning

“When I first open my eyes upon the morning meadows and look out upon the beautiful world, I thank God I am alive.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Good Sunday morning,  dear friends.  I hope this finds you well and enjoying a lovely morning.  In my opinion, mornings are the best time of day.  The birds are singing, the air is cool,  and all of nature seems to be happy to greet the day.  I find the early morning is such a beautiful time to be alone with my thoughts, be still, watch the sunrise, and count my blessings. And, to wander the garden to see how busy the garden fairies were during the night. 

There are many talented writers who also seem to have had a fondness for the early morning.  In going through my ‘little book of special things’ I have found a few lines I hope you will enjoy.

“Why I Wake Early” ~ Mary Oliver

“Hello, sun in my face.

Hello, you who made the morning

and spread it over the fields

and into the faces of the tulips

and the nodding morning glories,

and into the windows of, even, the

miserable and the crotchety.  . .

good morning, good morning, good morning.

Watch, now, how I start the day

in happiness, in kindness.”

 

Possibly, just possibly,  the world would be a sweeter place if everyone began the day in ‘happiness and kindness.’  I wish I knew how to make it so.

 “. . . the older I get the more treasures and hope and joy I find in mornings.” ~ Terri Guillemets

“Outside the open window, the morning air is all awash with angels.” ~ Richard Wilbur

I agree with Terri Guillemets, the mornings always provide hope and joy.  Isn’t it a glorious thought to think of the morning air being “awash with angels”?  Perhaps, that is why the morning is so sweet and enjoyable.

Not only is the air lovely, but the morning light is divine and one never knows what they may discover.

Dear friends, I hope you have enjoyed your visit.  There is much more I could say about this magical time of day, but I do know everyone’s time is precious, and I do not want to take your time reading a lengthy post.  However, if you are not a morning person perhaps my thoughts will inspire you to ponder the many gifts that are always provided for our morning enjoyment, especially during this special season of dazzling beauty.   All we have to do is wake up and bask in the splendor of a new day.  What an amazing privilege.

Wishing you and yours a gorgeous and peaceful day.

And. . .

May every day, in the week ahead, begin with a lovely and joyful morning, just for you.

 

“A morning glory at my window satisfies me more than the metaphysics of books.” ~ Walt Whitman

 

Amour,

Sandra

 

Images:  via Tumblr and Pinterest

Snippets of Life at Maison de Jardin!

“The energy of the Earth flows through the veins of Springtime.” ~ Terri Guillemets

Good morning, dear friends.  I hope you had a wonderful Easter and are enjoying Spring in your corner of the world.  Today’s post is about a variety of things that I hope you will enjoy.   Let me begin with ‘Rip Van Winkle.’  Rip Van Winkle is pictured in the photo above and yes, he is a daffodil.  Rip is one of our favorites and he is an heirloom daffodil dating to 1884.  But what makes him special to us are the memories he holds of my husband’s great aunt and spending time with her at her farm in Western Pennsylvania.  She happily shared Rip with us and we moved him to our home.  We think of her every spring when he blooms.  I love his chartreuse swirls plus, he has a long vase life.  Should you be interested, Rip is still available through Old House and Gardens. 

Currently, the daffodils are on center stage in our garden.  They will be in bloom for several more weeks, as we have many late-blooming varieties.    Mike fed them last year and it has made a huge difference in their blooms this year.  

I have seen the Lady April bringing the daffodils, bringing the springing grass and the soft warm April rain.  ~ John Masefield

All the daffodils in the photo above hold special memories.  The small white one is named Cheerfulness (it is also available in yellow).  It usually has at least three blooms per stem, is extremely fragrant, and was one of mom’s favorites.  The yellow with a deep yellow trumpet was from mom’s great gardening friend, Nellie.  And, the lovely white with a coral center was a ‘no reason’ gift from Mike.  I love ‘no reason’ gifts.  Anyway, it did not have a name other than ‘assorted’ daffodil.  So, I chose ‘Just Beautiful’ as her name.

On our Easter table, Bugs is holding, in his basket,  an assortment of the daffodils currently in bloom from our garden.    Mike took the photo before the table was finished so please excuse the wrinkle in the table cloth.  Also, Bugs was to have a bowtie around his neck and the green berry glasses were to be filled with jelly beans, which happened later.

The Haviland china was found on an antiquing adventure with mom and the matching tureen with underplate was a birthday gift from Mike.  The green berry glasses were Mike’s great grandmothers and the sweet little lamb with a flower crown was a gift from a dear friend.  The Fostoria stemware belonged to mom.  Memories and treasures.  

“They made their way to the dining room, where the air was blossom-scented and gilded with candlelight.” ~ Lisa Kleypas

“Whoever says, “It’s only a rabbit” has obviously never loved a rabbit.” ~ Unknown

May be an image of grass

I would like you to meet the real, one and only, Bugs.  He/she was born in our garden last spring and stayed with us until late fall.  And yes, he is the guilty one who enjoys our delphiniums.  Although, he doesn’t seem to enjoy them seasoned with cayenne pepper.  The unusual thing about Bugs is he has returned this year.  Enjoying his favorite spots(the same as last year) and in general, just lounging around, eating clover, and being, well, just Bugs.  I have always had a fondness for bunnies and Bugs has only made my soft spot softer.  

 

“Laughter is brightest where food is best.” ~ Irish Proverb

Just before Easter, the following two recipes were posted in our local newspaper, “The Exponent Telegram.”  I prepared both of them for our Easter dinner and they were wonderful.  Therefore, I thought I would share and I hope you will give them a try.  With summer approaching the Pea Salad would be an excellent choice for a Covered Dish luncheon or supper.  For such things, I always look for a dish that will travel well and this one certainly would.

Southern Pea Salad 

12 oz. frozen sweet peas

3 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

2 hardboiled eggs, diced

1/4 cup grated white cheddar cheese

Dressing

3 Tbls. Mayonnaise

2 Tbls. red onion, finely chopped

1 Tbls. sour cream

1 Tbls. fresh chives

1 tsp. sugar

1 tsp. apple cider vinegar

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. pepper

1/8 tsp. onion powder

1/8 tsp. garlic powder

Bring a medium saucepan with water to a boil.  Add frozen peas, cook for 3 minutes.  Drain and rinse in a colander under cold water until cool.  Let the peas stand in the colander until thoroughly drained.  Fry the bacon until crisp, remove from pan, and drain well on paper towels then chop.  In a medium bowl, combine peas, chopped eggs, chopped bacon, and cheddar cheese.   In another small bowl, combine all dressing ingredients and mix well.   Pour dressing over pea mixture and mix well.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.  

 

Cauliflower and Leek Gratin 

1 large head of cauliflower, cut into florets

2 med. size leeks, white and green parts, trimmed and sliced into 1/4 inch pieces

2 small shallots, peeled and sliced

1/2 tsp. ground pepper

1/2 tsp. fine sea salt

1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves chopped

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups half & half

1 1/2 cups grated aged Asiago cheese

unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 2 or 3-quart baking dish with cooking spray.  Bring to boil salted water in a large pot.  Add cauliflower florets and cook for about 4 minutes.  Drain and rinse under cold water.  Place cauliflower in a large mixing bowl and set aside.  In a small to medium saucepan, melt 3 Tbls. butter over medium heat, then add leeks, shallots, ground pepper, and thyme.  Cook, while stirring, for about 5 minutes.  Stir in flour until well combined.  Slowly pour in milk, stirring constantly until well combined.  Bring to a boil, and allow to cook until thickened about 3 minutes stirring constantly.  Remove from heat and stir in 3/4 cup of the cheese and salt.  Pour the leek mixture into the mixing bowl with the cauliflower.  Mix well and transfer the mixture into the prepared baking dish.  Sprinkle with the remaining 3/4 cup of cheese over the top.  Place in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes.  Note:  I baked this for about 45 minutes.  Let cool for about 10 minutes before serving.

Dear friends, I hope you have enjoyed a few snippets of joy from our beloved old home and garden.  Spring does provide all of us so many chances to enjoy the beauty around us, each other, and our many blessings. 

 

Know I hope this finds you under blue skies, listening to bird song and taking time to simply ‘be’ during this glorious season. 

And. . .

May your days be filled with joy, and kind souls.  

Scilla in bloom in our garden.

“The flowers appear on the earth; The time of the singing of birds is come.” ~ Song of Solomon 2:12

 

Amour,

Sandra

 

Images:  Michael S. Lambiotte

 

‘Sunday Thoughts’ ~ Happy Easter!

“‘Twas Easter-Sunday. The full-blossomed trees filled all the air with fragrance and with joy.” ~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Good Sunday morning, beautiful people ~ Happy Easter!   Easter has always been a favorite time for me.  The land is overflowing with majestic beauty, the air is cool and lovely,  and hope is truly alive.  Hope is a marvelous thing, especially when we stop and think of our situations last April when COVID had turned our world upside down.

“The very first Easter taught us this: that life never ends and love never dies.” ~ Kate McGahan

The legend of the dogwood tree is a story I have heard since I was a child. The petals of the flowers, always four, actually form in the shape of a cross.  The center of the bloom has a tight grouping of tiny yellow/green buds in a shape that resembles the crown of thorns, and the tip of each bloom is indented as if it was dented by a nail. I always remember the legend when I see a lovely dogwood in bloom.

“Easter spells out beauty, the rare beauty of new life.” ~ S.D. Gordon

 

 

“This is The Day The Lord Has Made Let Us Rejoice and Be Glad.” ~ Psalm 118:24 

“For I remember it is Easter morn, And life and love and peace are all new born.” ~ Alice Freeman Palme

 

Dear friends, Mike and I wish you and yours a glorious Easter, filled with joy.

And with. . .

“The great gift of Easter ~ hope.” ~ Basil Hume

 

 

Amour,

Sandra

 

 

Images: via tumblr

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘Sunday Thoughts’ ~ The Gentler Side of Life ~ March

“Just when I think I am losing my faith and optimism, Just when I think the world has gone utterly insane, Beauty in her majestic manner, intercedes, …And, with her restorative grace,  resurrects my hope for tomorrow.” ~ unknown

Good Sunday morning, dear friends.  Once again, we have lived through a week of violence.  I will not dwell on the sadness other than to say, “My heart hurts for our world and the horrific acts which have become all too common.”   During such troubling times, I always find comfort in our garden where “Beauty in her majestic manner, intercedes, …And, with her restorative grace,  resurrects my hope for tomorrow.”   The beauty is a balm for my soul.

“In every man’s heart, there is a secret nerve that answers to the vibrations of beauty.” ~ Christopher Morley

 

“Unexpected intrusions of beauty. This is what life is.” ~ Saul Bellow

Much has been written about noticing and paying attention.  Powerful and life-changing words, written by people who have endured tragedy and suffering.  And in their hearts and souls, they understand how vital it is for our joy and happiness to notice the abundance of incredible beauty at our every turn.  One such person was Anne Frank.  

“The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely, or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature, and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature. As long as this exists, and it certainly always will, I know that then there will always be comfort for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances may be. And I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles.” ~ Anne Frank

“Can we speak in flowers?  It will be easier for me to understand.” ~ Nayyirah Waheed

Ah, the world of fleurs.  Such a realm of beauty.  If you are a flower lover, it is a perfect reason to cultivate a garden.  However, a garden is work. Perhaps, you do not have the time to devote to a garden.  Not to worry, flowers are available at almost every grocery store and of course garden centers. 

Did you know, flowers have always been part of Alexandra Stoddard’s weekly home budget?  Why, because they provide beauty,  which is food for her spirit.

Paeonia ~ ‘Courage’

Paeonia ~ Coral Sunset

” The fattest and most scrumptious of all flowers, a rare fusion of fluff and majesty, the peony is now coming into bloom.” ~ Henry Mitchell, American Garden Writer

“When I was a child, my dear Aurore, I was tormented by the fact that I wasn’t able to hear what flowers said when they talked to each other. My botany professor assured me they said nothing. Whether he was deaf or he didn’t want to tell me the truth, he swore they said nothing at all. I knew he was wrong. I would hear them chattering, especially in the evening when the dew began to form; but they spoke too low for me to make out their words.” ~ George Sand, “What Flowers Say”

 

“You never look at anything beautiful and holy, or think a pure and noble thought, without being ever after a larger soul.” ~  Frederick Lynch

“He who does not know how to appreciate flowers will not be able to see the beauty of life” ~ Debasish Mridha

 

Dear Friends, please know how much I appreciate your visit.  I hope, perhaps, you have been uplifted and inspired by the lovely photos and words I have shared.  

I wish you and yours a most beautiful day and week ahead.

And remember. . .

 

“Exquisite beauty is often hidden in life’s fragile, fleeting moments.” ~ John Mark Green

 

Amour,

Sandra

 

 

 

Images:  Tumblr and M.S. Lambiotte

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday Thoughts ~ Spring Has Arrived!

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! ~ Robert Browning, Pippa Passes, 1841

May be an image of flower and indoor

Good Sunday morning, dear friends.  Spring arrived yesterday in such a beautiful fashion.  Bringing hope and beauty to our weary world.  And, today is just as lovely, not a cloud in our magnificent blue sky.  

Speaking of ‘hope to a weary world,’ does anything offer hope as much as a daffodil?  I think not, especially after winter and COVID.  Our King Alfreds are on center stage in our garden and many other varieties are beginning to show color.  I stand in awe of these fabulous beauties as I think of such gorgeousness growing from a bulb in the cold ground.  God’s handiwork.  

Mike was cutting a rather lavish bouquet the other day and his hands became too full to finish his cutting.   Looking around, he spotted the ‘V’ in our Japanese maple ~ Nature’s vase.  We both thought it was a pretty photo.  I love the daffodils with the hellebores.

Most of the vases I own have come from my antiquing adventures and they were never expensive.  There are a few exceptions, most of which were gifts from my dear mom.  However, the other day I was perusing a Ballard Design catalog, and look what I found.  A cherry blossom tulipiere.  I was immediately in love.  They refer to it as a ‘floral frog.’  It was my splurge and I can just see it dripping with peonies.

I know you remember my dear and lifelong friend, Janet.  She is the beautiful soul who creates and stitches stunning needlepoint designs, many of which grace our home.  Oh, but talent and creativity do not rest.  Janet is adding another skill to her resume, she is also becoming a gardener.  Gardening really isn’t her passion, but she loves beautiful flowers and me.  Therefore, when I sent her daffodil bulbs for her birthday, of course, she had to plant them.  Above are her British Gamble and Fortissimo.  I think I should add photography to her list of talents as well.

Many spring flowers, especially daffodils, are dancers. William Wordsworth thought so, along with Jessie Dysart.  It is a special gift to enjoy them as they sway ever so gently and gracefully, dancing in a spring breeze.  If you listen carefully, you can almost hear them giggling. They are ‘celebrating and dancing to the music.’

 

Dancing With Flowers ~ Jessie Dysart

Glimmering early morning light,

What will this day become?

I saunter to the garden,

Seeking the counsel of flowers,

With answers more than man,

The flowers began to sing to me,

Listen, they are singing for you too,

Spectrum of notes from all pigments,

Even the colors of woeful blue,

‘Cause sad flowers sing too,

Look at the flowers (swaying),

Gentle late morning breeze,

Flowers dancing with me,

Will you let them dance with you too?

 

“Next to the rose, whose divine right to monarchy cannot be questioned, the violet is the poet’s flower.” ~ Willis Boyd Allen

quietcottagedays-blog: “copyright sarah elwell ”

Today, was my dear mom’s birthday.  She would have been ninety-nine years young.  I say young because she was young until the very end.  She could find joy everywhere, in everything, and in everyone.  She was an extremely talented and strong woman.   I am so grateful she was my mom and, oh, my goodness, the wonderful things she instilled in me.    

One of my best memories of mom was venturing out with her on a chilly and sunny spring morning to gather violets for her violet jelly.  We would go early, as it takes quite a while to gather enough violet blooms for jelly.  And she always wanted to do two turns.  One for us and another for special friends.  It was a marvelous treat on toast or a biscuit, especially on a cold January morning.

I have included a recipe from “Taste of Home.”  It looks much like what I remember mom making, should you want to go violet picking.  Note:  Be sure to read the editor’s notes.

Violet Jelly Ingredients

8 cups fresh violet blossoms

3-1/2 cups boiling water

1 package (1-3/4 ounces) powdered fruit pectin

1/2 cup lemon juice

4 cups sugar

Directions

Rinse and drain blossoms; place in a large heat-resistant glass bowl. Pour boiling water over the blossoms and let stand for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.

Strain and reserve violet liquid, pressing with a spatula to extract all possible color.  Mom’s was always a pale and pretty lavender.  Discard blossoms.

Measure violet liquid; add enough water to measure 3-1/2 cups (liquid will be blue-green). Stir in pectin, lemon juice, and sugar (the liquid will turn a violet color).

Pour into a large stainless steel saucepan; bring to a rolling boil, stirring constantly. Boil 1 minute.

Remove from the heat; skim off foam. Carefully ladle the hot liquid into hot sterilized half-pint jars, leaving 1/4-in. headspace. Remove air bubbles; wipe rims and adjust lids. Process for 5 minutes in a boiling-water canner.

Editor’s Note: Only pick flowers from chemical-free woods or lawns. Also, be sure your blossoms come from the common wild violet, not the African violet houseplant, which is inedible. The processing time listed is for altitudes of 1,000 feet or less. Add 1 minute to the processing time for every 1,000 feet of additional altitude. 

Dear friends, I believe with all my heart our future looks much brighter than it did this time last year.  Mike and I had our second COVID vaccination this past week and I am hearing many others have had theirs also.  However, circumstances do not matter, spring never fails to arrive in all her glory providing enthralling beauty.

This year, may we enjoy every blossom, every bird, every luscious smell, every blue sky, every raindrop, every hour of the brilliant light and sunshine.  

And. . .

May we be grateful for such lovely blessings, always.

Wishing you and yours a beautiful day.  Stay well.

 

image

“Daughter of light! thy fairy step Steals softly over vale and plain, And with thy bright and joyous smile, Beauty and life awake again.” ~ Mary Ann H. Dodd Shutts 

 

Amour,

Sandra

 

 

 

 

Photos:  M.S. Lambiotte, Janet, tumblr, and S. Lambiotte

Recipe from:  Taste of Home

 

 

 

Sunday Thoughts – “Once Upon A Dream”

“I feel as if I had opened a book and found roses of yesterday, sweet and fragrant, between its leaves.” ~ Lucy Maud Montgomery
Happy Sunday morning, everyone.  I do hope this finds you well and enjoying signs of the arrival of a gorgeous and beautiful spring.  Yes, I continue to do a bit of dreaming about the magnificent beauty that we will see soon, very soon.  Our King Alfred daffodils have just opened.  They are such a lovely sight as are the peonies slowly peeking through the soil beginning their journey upward.  So, I do rather feel as though, “I have just opened a lovely book and found sweet things of yesterday.”
However, there are many dreams of yesterday in which beauty abounds.  And, this post is about a few of the enchanting and fairy tale wonders of the world. I hope you will enjoy them as much as I do.
“Once upon a time, I thought faeries lived only in books, old folktales, and the past. That was before they burst upon my life as vibrant, luminous beings, permeating my art and my everyday existence, causing glorious havoc.” ~ Brian Froud

A Château somewhere in France.

I have had this photo for years and may have used it in a past post.  However, when I originally found it, I almost cried it was so beautiful.  The only information about the photo was, ‘a Château somewhere in France.’  Indeed, I was disappointed, something so lovely and enchanting certainly must have a  beautiful name.  Each time I look at the photo, I am transported to another era: Imagining hidden gardens with fairies scampering about, ladies taking tea, beautiful weddings, and the breathtaking beauty of the château.  

This photo is of spring at Hawarden Castle in Hawarden, Flintshire, Wales. It is the estate of former British Prime Minister, William Gladstone and was in his wife’s family.  Her name was Catherine Glynne.  The castle was built in the mid-18th century and is certainly a beauty of the world.  Can’t you just imagine the gardens?  I know they would be a fascinating experience.

undefined Château de la Motte-Husson, completed in 1874.

This is my latest discovery, Château de la Motte-Husson.  Located in the small market town of Martigné-sur-Mayenne, in the Mayenne département of France.   This majestic château is being brought back to life by the fairy tale love and vision of two special people, Dick and Angel Strawbridge.   

I watch little television, however, one night I was looking for anything which may be interesting and I found, “Escape to the Château.”  Of course, that caught my attention.  The series is about the renovation of this grand château as a home for the Strawbridge’s, plus opening this gorgeous home as a venue for guests looking to be pampered and spoiled, and for weddings.  The Strawbridge’s are both charming, entertaining, and talented people with two beautiful children.  It is a delightful show if you enjoy such things.

“Beauty matters. It is not just a subjective thing but a universal need of human beings. If we ignore this need we find ourselves in a spiritual desert.” ~ Roger Scruton

I believe people are basically good and want their lives to be like a fairy tale.  There are so many things in this world that are exquisitely beautiful, they seem as though they belong in a fairytale.  Nature has them at every turn, from a beautiful swan to a glorious blue sky on a spring day ~ magnificent beauty. 
From time-to-time, we all fall off our path, and beauty helps us to pause, reflect, say a prayer and move ahead.  If only we would pay attention to what is around and in front of us, it may keep us stay away from a “spiritual desert.”    
You see, I know beauty creates fairy tales.  It may not be a château but simply, our own wonderful castle filled with dreams, special only to us.    

Dear friends, I thank you so much for your visit and perhaps, you will leave feeling as though you have “opened a lovely book and found sweet things of yesterday.”  

Wishing you and yours a beautiful day. 

And. . .

Enjoy creating your own magical fairy tale.  Stay well!

 

syflove: “pansies ”

 

 

“Beauty surrounds us.” ~ Rumi

Amour, 

Sandra

 

 

 

Notes: Images:  via tumblr

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday Thoughts ~ About March

“March ~ unfurling petals, the breathless warmth of the shy sun, soft chirps, lightness on your feet spreading into your soul, the sweet scent of blooming, clear droplets, lush of green, the wonder as the world unwraps itself anew.” ~ unknown

Good Sunday morning, sweet friends.  We have beautiful blue skies this morning and I hope you do as well. 

In years past, the month of March has not been a favorite of mine.  If you have never lived in the south, especially along the coast, you most likely will not understand the term, ‘horizontal rain.’ It is rain that comes heavy, in horizontal sheets,  and will soak you to the bone in a matter of seconds.  The Virginia coast has an abundance of such days during March.  So, I came to the conclusion the only good thing about March was our many family birthdays and daffodils.  However, for the most part, the mountains keep such unpleasant things away from us.  Which, makes me happy to once again say, “March is a welcome sight.”  This year, she arrived with blue skies and a symphony of bird songs.  Clearly placing her in my good graces.

“Snowdrops:  Theirs is a fragile but hardy celebration. . .in the very teeth of winter.” ~ Louise Wilder

The first of many blooms which come to remind us of the magnificent beauty about to unfold are snowdrops. . . and ours are blooming!  I checked them a few weeks ago before the snow.  They were up about three inches.  Then, they were under considerable snow and endured several bitterly cold days and nights.  And, today they are blooming.  Wow, isn’t nature grand?  It seems as though I have more appreciation than usual for the smallest of things about to appear on this earth.  I believe COVID has been a stern teacher of appreciation for the gift of life, nature,  beauty, and celebrating these things.  Certainly, snowdrops are a celebration.  A few of them in a tiny vase are a delightful welcome on a cold spring morning.  I enjoy keeping them on the kitchen window sill.

“March brings breezes loud and shrill, Stirs the dancing daffodil…” ~ Sara Coleridge

March brings us the brilliant and dazzling daffodils. Would spring even seem like spring without them?  They are certainly a marvelous feast for our eyes after a long winter.  We are promised blue skies, sunshine, and warm temperatures this week, so many of our daffodils should open.  Namely, the King Alfred daffodils (photo above) which are mostly on the east side of our home.  Many other varieties are just peeking through the soil.  A few years ago I wrote a lengthy post about daffodils and at the end of the post, I listed several reliable sources from which to order unique and beautiful bulbs.  Should you be interested, visit here.

 

“March came in that winter like the meekest and mildest of lambs, bringing days that were crisp and golden and tingling, each followed by a frosty pink twilight which gradually lost itself in an elfland of moonshine.”  ~ Lucy Maud Montgomery

March truly is a wondrous month.  There are precious and fascinating things happening. Lambing season begins in late January, and by April most new lambs are on the ground.  Lambs are so sweet and playful.  As they grow and leap in the air, we are reminded of how very dear life is.  If you know of a farm close to you that has sheep, take a country drive, park your car and prepare to be entertained.  Lambs can put on quite the show.

Sitting in the sunshine, it is also a joy to watch the little birds as they carry straw to build their nests.  They seem so happy and we never hear them complain about their work.  It is amazing to actually examine a bird’s nest and see how tightly it is woven, by such gifted master builders.

There is so much to see while enjoying a wee rest in nature. For instance, to see a courting pair of cardinals with the male feeding the female.  This is part of their courtship ritual and he appears to be kissing her.

“By March, the worst of the winter would be over. The snow would thaw, the rivers begin to run and the world would wake into itself again.” ~ Neil Gaiman

Elizabeth Lawrence told us, “We must take time to sit and watch the leaves turn.”  I also believe she would have wanted us to take time to sit and watch the buds burst forth into their exquisite beauty.  I am comfortable in saying this as she was an internationally known garden writer and according to House and Garden is among the top twenty-five gardeners of all time.  She obviously had a great appreciation for the wonders of this world.

Dear friends, thank you so much for your visit and I hope you have enjoyed my thoughts ‘About March.”  

Know I wish you and yours a splendid day.

And . . .

“May you have warm words on a cold evening, a full moon on a dark night, and a smooth road all the way to your door.” ~ Irish Blessing

 

 

“March is the month of expectation, the things we do not know. . .” ~ Emily Dickinson

Amour,

Sandra

 

 

 

Images: via tumblr

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday Thoughts ~ “A Place Of Enchantment”

“I do not understand how anyone can live without some small place of enchantment to turn to.” ~ Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

Good Sunday morning, everyone.  I hope this finds you well and under blue skies.  It is a gray and rainy day here in these ‘West Virginia Hills.’   A good day for reading or a bit of garden dreaming. 

Rawlings’s words certainly spoke to me, as I hope they will speak to you as well.  Personally, I believe it is vitally important for everyone to have their own “place of enchantment.”  Mine, of course, is the garden and our sunroom.  When I look at this photo of our garden, none of the plantings, other than the Japanese maple, were here when we purchased the home (2005).  It was mainly grass and a few ‘undesirables.’  Slowly, I chipped away and began to bring my vision to life.  The little bench, under the Carolina Jessamine (please excuse the mulch), is such a lovely spot to enjoy being alone with your thoughts and to contemplate life, especially when the Jessamine is in bloom. When I planted the Jessamine it was a tiny sprig in two three-inch pots.  It is amazing how it has grown.  And, the fragrance is breathtaking. 

With each passing day, my heart has fallen more in love with this little patch of heaven, especially during these COVID months.  Indeed, it has been a haven for both of us, as it offers such peace and tranquillity.  

“The ideal of beauty is simplicity and tranquillity.” ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goeth

The photo above is not of our sunroom/library.  However, it looks out upon our garden in much the same fashion from a lovely bay window. The room is small but has such life.  Perhaps, it is because my many friends live there ~ my books.  The room has two comfy chairs, two tables, and an entire wall of books. With several books ‘lovingly’ placed beside and in front of my chair.  And, I can not bear to part with one. 

“So many books, so little time.” ~ Frank Zappa

The snow and cold weather have provided perfect days for reading.  During the past few weeks, I have read some wonderful books.  Madame Fourcade’s Secret War was a Christmas gift from Mike.  It is a true story and a fascinating one.  This young woman had such courage and strength.  Honestly, I wish I could say I would do the same if necessary, but I can’t.  Certainly, I would want to, but I do not know if I have such exemplary qualities.  I highly recommend the book. 

This next book is also a gem.  A wonderful novel by Kate Quinn. There were times when it was difficult to put the book down, but one does have to cook dinner, do some housekeeping, and sleep.

Currently, I am reading The Last Garden in England.  I haven’t read enough of it to share much, other than it is hard to pass by when I am going through the sunroom.  So that probably tells you, “The book is grand.”  

“Spring adds new life and new beauty to all that is.”  ~ Jessica Harrelson

 

Dear friends, in closing you now know what I’ve been doing.  Dreaming of being able to enjoy another spring unfolding in our “enchanted place” and reading.  Two of my favorite pastimes.  Spring and early summer are spectacular in our garden and I have a spot to read there too.  I do hope you have a place special where you can relax and simply enjoy being alive. I would love to hear about them.  If not, perhaps the photo above will inspire you.  Therefore. . .

Until we meet again, I wish you and yours a beautiful day.

And. . . 

May your week ahead be filled with lovely things and kind souls.

 

Amour,

Sandra

 

 

 

Sunday Thoughts ~ “Fresh Hope”

“After the cold, long, and dark days of winter, the spring season brings new life and fresh hope to the world.” ~ unknown

“If grief can be a doorway to love, then let us all weep for the world we are breaking apart so we can love it back to wholeness again.” - Robin Wall Kimmerer

Good Sunday morning, dear friends.  It is hard to believe Sunday is upon us once again.  The weeks pass so quickly.  

This morning finds me thinking of all the people throughout the country who have recently endured such hardships due to the weather.  My heart certainly goes out to them and I pray the days ahead will bring them “fresh hope.” 

A beautiful and dazzling spring does provide hope to the world, after a long cold winter.  It restores our souls with breathtaking blooms, blue skies, and lovely melodies from the precious birds.  Indeed, spring is a “forever gift.”

“Come with me into the woods where spring is
advancing, as it does, no matter what,
not being singular or particular, but one
of the forever gifts, and certainly visible.”
~ Mary Oliver, ” Dog Songs”

I can still bring into my body the joy I felt at seeing the first trillium of spring, which seemed to be telling me, “Never give up hope, spring will come.” ~ Jessica Stern

Trillium, Flower, Nature, White, Plant, Bloom

Trilliums are a glorious announcement of spring.   They make their home in the mountains of West Virginia.  They are quite happy in our mountain region, due to the shade and dampness of the forests.  Truly, they are a joyful sight to behold, especially after a long winter.

Trillium, Flower, Wildflower, Nature, Plant, Blooming

“In all ranks of life the human heart yearns for the beautiful, and the beautiful things that God makes are God’s gift to all alike ~ Harriet Beecher Stowe

zenobiatavares

 

Dear friends, I hope this finds you looking forward to spring days.  We all need to enjoy the warm air, sunshine, and glorious blooms once again. And sure as night turns into day, spring will arrive in all her magnificent glory.  Her brilliant rays of light will replace the cold and dark, and offer hope to the weary. 

Know, I thank you so much for your visit and kind comments.  Wishing you and yours a most beautiful and peaceful day.

And. . .

May the week ahead bring you joy and signs of the wondrous days about to unfold.  Stay well.

 

“Ever felt an angel’s breath in the gentle breeze? A teardrop in the falling rain? Hear a whisper amongst the rustle of leaves? Or been kissed by a lone snowflake? Nature is an angel’s favorite hiding place.” ~ Carrie Latet

 

Amour,

Sandra

 

 

 

Images:  via Tumblr and Pixabay

 

 

 

At Table ~ Authentic Recipes From Provence ~ By, Richard Olney

“When someone cooks for you, they are saying something.  They are telling you about themselves:  Where they come from, who they are, what makes them happy.” ~ Anthony Bourdain

Good morning, everyone.  Welcome to ‘At Table.’  I know I have written about Richard Olney in the past. (visit here)  However, today I would like to share recipes from a different and wonderful cookbook of his, “Richard Olney’s PROVENCE The Beautiful Cookbook.”  This cookbook is divided into regions of Provence with recipes from the specific regions. And no food writer knows Provence and the regions better than Olney.  The book is a treasure.

“When you cook, you never stop learning.  That’s the fascination of it all.” ~ James Beard

The first recipe I am sharing is a Zucchini Omelet.  Onley tells us, “Throughout Provence flat omelets are commonly called crespéou.”

Flat Omelet with Yogurt and Herbs | edibleperspective.com

 

 

Crespéou Aux Courgettes ~ Zucchini Omelet ~ Serves Four

About 3/4 pound of small, firm zucchini (courgettes)

5-6 Tbls. olive oil

3 Eggs

Freshly ground pepper

Large pinch of fresh flower buds and tender leaves of sweet marjoram, finely chopped (if you do not have fresh use about 1/2 tsp. of dried)

1 Tbls. unsalted butter, chilled and diced

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (I use a little more)

Preheat oven to broil.  Remove the stem of the zucchini.  Depending on the size, cut the zucchini crosswise in thirds; if they are large split them in half lengthwise first.  Pass them through the medium blade of a mouli-julienne or a food processor fitted with a shredding disk.  Layer the shredded zucchini in a mixing bowl, sprinkling each layer generously with salt, and leave for 30 minutes.  Then pick up the mass and squeeze repeatedly between both hands to rid it of its water.

Warm 2 Tbls. of the olive oil in a frying pan over high heat.  Add the zucchini and toss often, stirring and breaking it up with a wooden spoon when necessary, for 2-3 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Combine the eggs, pepper to taste, marjoram, and butter in a bowl and break up with a fork, whisking only enough to mix the whites and yolks.  Add the sautéed zucchini, stirring and beating with the fork at the same time to disperse the heat throughout the mass of eggs.  Select an omelet pan measuring 11 inches at the top and 8 inches at the bottom.  Warm the remaining 3 Tbls. olive oil in the pan, rotating the pan to coat the sides.  Pour in the zucchini mixture and stir, or swirl, the mixture with the back of the fork without touching the bottom or sides of the pan.  Smooth the surface with the fork, cover the pan and lower the heat for a minute or so.  Sprinkle with the cheese, taking care that none touches the sides of the pan, and push the pan beneath the hot broiler until the cheese is melted and the center is no longer liquid but not quite firm.  Slip the omelet onto a round platter and serve, hot or tepid, cut into wedges.

Note:  This is also lovely with thyme or tarragon, replacing marjoram.  Serving with a salad and some crusty bread, this makes a perfect summertime supper. Or, anytime supper.

“The fact is that it takes more than ingredients and technique to cook a good meal. A good cook puts something of himself into the preparation ~ he cooks with enjoyment, anticipation, spontaneity, and he is willing to experiment.” ~ Pearl Bailey

This next recipe for Stuffed Pork Chops is a gem.  I hope you will give it a try.  Also, Olney says, “These chops are sumptuous served with crêpes.”  I have never served this with crêpes, but you may want to give it a try.

These Pork Chops with Mushrooms and Shallots are juicy and flavorful, perfect for weeknight dinner!

 

Côtes De Porc Farcies ~ Stuffed Pork Chops ~ Serves four

For the Stuffing:

1 Tbls. olive oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped

2 oz. mushrooms, chopped ~ I use Baby Portabellas

small pinch of Provençal mixed herbs (see notes at the end of this post)

1 clove of garlic, minced

a few drops of fresh lemon juice

Salt and freshly ground pepper and about 1/2 tsp. nutmeg

a good handful of fresh bread crumbs

1 egg

*******************************************************************************

4 double-rib pork chops, trimmed of fat except for thin layer of back fat

Note: You may have to ask your butcher to cut the double-ribbed chops.

salt and freshly ground pepper

2 Tbls. olive oil

2-3 Tbls dry white wine

*********************************************************************************

To prepare the stuffing, warm the olive oil in a frying pan over low heat.  Add the onion and cook gently until softened but not colored, about 10 minutes.  I also add a pat of butter.  Add the mushrooms, raise the heat and sauté until nearly all the liquid released from the mushrooms evaporates, about 5 minutes.  Add the herbs, minced garlic, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste.  Empty into a bowl and let cool for a few minutes.  Add the bread crumbs and egg, and, using your hands, mix thoroughly.  Using a small sharp-pointed knife, pierce the back of each chop deeply, 3/4 inch from the spine end to 3/4 inch from the tip, to form a pouch.  Divide the stuffing equally among the pouches and stuff them.  Close each opening with a pair of crossed toothpicks.  Season the chops to taste with salt and pepper.  

Warm the olive oil in a heavy sauté pan over medium heat.  Add the chops and brown, turning once, over moderate heat, 7-8 minutes on each side.  Cover and cook over very low heat until the chops are tender, about 45 minutes.  Turn the chops in their juices several times, if the juices appear to be drying up, add some of the wine once, or as often as necessary.  

Serve the chops with cooking juices spooned over the top.  

“Good food is very often, even most often, simple food.” ~ Anthony Bourdain

 

Tian De Lait ~ Provençal Custard

According to Olney, “This is the ancestor of all set custards.  Serve it hot, tepid, or cold with little cookies.”  I like to serve it cold with fresh fruit and in the winter, if you can find juicy pears, it is a special treat.

4 cups milk

1 cup sugar

4 whole eggs plus 6 egg yolks

1/4 cup dark rum

Preheat oven to 300.  Pour milk into a saucepan and warm over medium heat.  Stir in the sugar and continue to stir until a boil is almost reached, then remove from the heat.  Leave to cool for a few minutes.

In a mixing bowl whisk together the whole eggs and the egg yolks.  Slowly add the milk, whisking constantly.  Whisk in the rum.  Pour into a baking dish (I use a round casserole dish) and bake until the custard is no longer liquid at the center, the timing depends upon the size of the dish you use and the depth of the custard.  But it usually bakes for 30-40 minutes.  Test for doneness by touching the center with your fingertip; it should be firm.

Dear friends, thank you so much for your visit and I hope you have enjoyed your time ‘At Table.’  Remember, should you have any questions about any of the recipes don’t hesitate to contact me.  I would enjoy hearing if you give them a try and how you liked them.  

 

Know I wish you and yours special times at your table. 

Happy Cooking and stay well!

 

Image result for pot of thymeDo you smell the fragrance from the thyme?

“The heart of hospitality is about creating space for someone to feel seen and heard and loved. It’s about declaring your table a safe zone, a place of warmth and nourishment.” ~ Shauna Niequist

 

Bon Appétit,

Sandra

 

 

 

Notes:  

Provençal Mixed Dried Herbs

A good mixture of these dried herbs is thyme, oregano, savory, and marjoram.  I just measure equal parts of each, mix well and store in a jar for use.

 

Images: Pinterest and Tumblr