Sunday Thoughts ~ Anonymous Gifts

“If nature has made you for a giver, your hands are born open, and so is your heart; and though there may be times when your hands are empty, your heart is always full, and you can give things out of that~warm things, kind things, sweet things…”~ Frances Hodgson Burnett
     Good morning sweet souls.  My ‘Sunday Thoughts’ today are about the joys and blessings of anonymous giving.
     We all have learned many important lessons from our dear mothers, haven’t we?  The other day, when I was preparing a pot of soup, I began thinking of my mom and how she enjoyed making soup.  We always had soup in the winter and lots of it.  And, if mom knew of a neighbor or friend who was not feeling well, you can be sure they were about to receive ‘love in a jar’ ~ her soup.
    The soup, however, was not delivered in an ordinary manner.  Mom would ladle the soup into one of her quart canning jars, put a lid on it and attach a note.  On one side of the note, it told the type of soup and on the other side it read, “Feel better soon.”  It was my job to write the note, as mom’s handwriting was extremely recognizable.  Then, she would send me on my way to deliver her lovely concoction, always with the instructions, “Knock, run and don’t let them see you!” 
Mom's classic recipe makes a great gift and looks tasty in a quart jar wrapped with a flour-sack towel and seasonal ribbon. Wrap with a kitchen towel and ribbon, and tuck in a basket with a warm loaf of bread for a cozy, comforting food gift.
     Early on, in my “knock and run” missions, I asked mom why she didn’t sign the card and why she didn’t want anyone to see me.  Her answer, “It isn’t important for them to know the source of their jar of love, it is simply important they receive it, feel loved and get better.”  Receiving a ‘thank you’ was not important to mom.  My lesson ~ good deeds don’t always require recognition.  
“Loving service anonymously given may be unknown to man ~ but the gift and the giver are known to God.” ~ Thomas S. Manson

“I’m a little pencil in the hand of a writing God, who is sending a love letter to the world.” ~ Mother Teresa

    Throughout the years, I went on many “knock and run” missions and delivered a wide assortment of goodies, and countless loads of blooms.  And, if the truth was known, I rather imagine many of the recipients knew the origin of their delivery.  It was fun to go on these missions and the goodness of my dear mom’s heart came back to us many times over.  But, isn’t that the way it always works?  God sends his “love letters to the world” by way of giving souls with huge hearts.  And, He rewards them abundantly.

♥

Dear friends, many thanks for your visit.  Know, I am wishing you and yours a day of peace and love.  

And…

May your week ahead be filled with everything good and wonderful.  

 

“Scatter Joy” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Amour,

Sandra

 

Note:  Images, tumblr and Pinterest

 

Sunday Thoughts ~Beauty, January 5, 2020

“Beauty is the shadow of God on the universe.” ~ Gabriela Mistral

Winter

Good morning, beautiful souls.  As this is my first post of the new year, I thought it might be good to share a little history of this blog, especially for those who may be new to Maison de Jardin.  Maison de Jardin (The Garden House) is actually the name of our home and is the name I chose for the blog. For those who have become treasured blogging friends and for my dear friends who know me personally, you know this blog stemmed (January 29, 2017 ~visit here,)  from my love of beauty and the desire to share my passion and hopefully inspire others.  Others, who may not have noticed all the beauty around them, or perhaps those who needed a gentle nudge to create beauty in and around their own homes.  Being aware of this, and recognizing the magnificence around us, makes such a difference in our daily lives.

tect0nic: “ Cold Winter day at the creek by Berndt Sjosten via 500px. ”

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

We feel differently, stress leaves, we breathe better, and our hearts are happier when we stand in awe for just a moment enjoying something beautiful. The ‘something beautiful’ can be a single bloom, a wonderful rainbow, sunrise or sunset, or a child messy from the strawberry patch.  If it touches your heart, most likely it is asking you to ‘pay attention.’

The same holds true when we read exquisite words of wonderfully talented souls.  I am always inspired, and a little overwhelmed, when I read something marvelous from someone who lived in another time and another world. It always increases my awareness to ‘pay attention.’   

“Nature is full of genius, full of the divinity; so that not a snowflake escapes its fashioning hand.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

 

“Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything beautiful, for beauty is God’s handwriting.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Dear friends, thank you for your visit.  Know, I wish you and yours a beautiful and peaceful day.
And…
In the week ahead, may the angels guide you to the glorious beauty in your world.  

Amour,

Sandra

Beauty hath strange power. “ ~ John Milton

 

Images: via tumblr

Sunday Thoughts ~ December 29, 2019

“When I say it’s you I like, I’m talking about that part of you that knows that life is far more than anything you can ever see or hear or touch. That deep part of you that allows you to stand for those things without which humankind cannot survive. Love that conquers hate, peace that rises triumphant over war, and justice that proves more powerful than greed.” ~ Fred Rogers

Good morning, beautiful souls.  I do hope you had a wonderful Christmas, made memories to cherish, and ate way too much.  Most of all, I hope it was peaceful.  Christmas was a little smaller at our home this year, but it was wonderful, full of sparkle and spice, and ever so peaceful.

This time of year always finds me thinking of the New Year and wondering what it will bring.  Perhaps, it finds you thinking along those lines as well.  My prayers for the New Year are many, but my top two are ~ peace and a kinder world.  And as we go about our daily rounds, we must never underestimate the power of the ripple effect from our kindness.  Because, we never know how far the ripple may travel, who or what it may inspire, nor the profound impact it can have.  So, I will leave you today, sending love and the words of Zero Dean.  He expresses my sentiments perfectly.

May the new year bring you an abundance of amazing opportunities, beautiful moments, and joyful experiences.  May your positive actions and attitude inspire others.  May you be brave enough to take on and overcome rewarding challenges.  May you find yourself in high spirits and excellent health.  May you love with all your heart and find peace in even the most turbulent of times.  May the love you give always find its way back to you multiplied.  And may you forever be filled with the hope and strength necessary to make your dreams a reality. ” ~ Zero Dean 

 

“Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, Whispering ‘it will be happier’ … ~ Alfred Tennyson

 

Dear friends, thank you so much for your visit and know how grateful I am for each of you. 

Wishing you and yours a Healthy and Happy New Year!

Amour,

Sandra

 

 

Notes:  Images, via tumblr

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday ~”Christmas is Forever”~ December 22, 2019

“Christmas is forever, not for just one day. For loving, sharing, giving, are not to put away.” ~ Norman Wesley Brooks
*

Good morning, beautiful souls.  Ready or not, Christmas is here. These are the few days I most enjoy during the season, other than Christmas Day.  There is a calm that seems to take over our home.  It is during this time, I count my many blessings and enjoy the beauty and perfect peace of the season.  

“Christmas is most truly Christmas when we celebrate it by giving the light of love to those who need it most.” ~ Ruth Carter Stapleton

Christmas is a time to share our blessings with others.  My dear mom instilled in me, “Always always to think of others and to share what I had, however small or large it may be.” It is true, isn’t it?  When we give love to others, especially those less fortunate, we celebrate Christmas.  

“The heart benevolent and kind, the most resembles God.” ~ Robert Burns

“Long before silver bells jingled, Christmas lights twinkled, and horse-drawn sleighs went dashing through the snow, God reached down from heaven with the best gift of all. Love, wrapped in swaddling clothes. Hope, nestled in a manger.” ~ Liz Curtis HiggS See notes at the end of this post for information and source on this painting.

Perhaps, hope is one of the most beautiful and wonderful gifts of Christmas.  The hope for a kinder and better world.  The hope for peace.  The hope for cures to dreadful diseases and the list goes on.  But mostly, I hold great hope in the words of Frederick Buechner. 

“What keeps the wild hope of Christmas alive year after year in a world notorious for dashing all hopes is the haunting dream that the child who was born that day may yet be born again even in us.”

Dear friends, as always, thank you so much for your visit.  Know, I am wishing you and yours a most beautiful Christmas.

And…

In the New Year, may we all “keep the wild hope of Christmas alive.”

  

Joyeux Noël,

Sandra

Notes:  images via tumblr and Pinterest

The image of Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus is titled:  Sleep in Heavenly Peace, it is by Mark Missman.

It is from Pinterest

 

 

At Table ~ December, 18, 2019

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

*

Merry Christmas, dear friends.  And, welcome to December’s ‘At Table.’  Today I am sending a few recipes I have used over and over throughout the years.   Perfect for a lovely dinner shared with a few close friends or a romantic dinner for two. I promise you, warm hearts and big smiles from anyone seated ‘At Your Table.’  So, let’s begin.

“There is no such thing as good cuisine if it is not prepared out of friendship.” ~ Paul Bocuse

The first recipe is courtesy of Julia Child.  Now, while I do not claim in any way to be a master chef, I did something different to this recipe and I would urge you to go with my version.  I use chicken broth instead of water.  It adds so much flavor.  This soup is a lovely beginning to the meal.

Cream of Leek and Potato Soup

3 cups sliced leeks, white and tender green parts (about 3 nice size leeks)

3 cups peeled and roughly chopped baking potatoes, like russets

6 cups water

11/2 teaspoons salt

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup crème fraîche or sour cream 

salt and pepper to taste

fresh chives for garnish

Directions:  In a large heavy saucepan, bring the leeks, potatoes, water, and a little salt to the boil over high heat. Cover partially, reduce heat, and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes until the vegetables are tender.  Puree with a handheld immersion blender, or in batches in a food processor or regular blender.  Taste for seasonings.  This can now cool.

Whisk in the cream and reheat before serving. Top each serving with a dollop of crème fraîche or sour cream and a sprinkling of fresh chives.

 

Virginia Crab Imperial  

2 eggs, beaten

1/4 tsp. dry mustard

dash of white pepper

2 pounds of backfin crabmeat (yes, you read the amount correctly)

4 Tbls. chopped pimento

2 1/4 cups mayonnaise

1/2 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese

Directions:  Preheat oven to 350.  Beat the eggs with mustard and pepper.  Add crabmeat, pimento and 2 cups of mayonnaise.  Spoon mixture into a 2-quart casserole and spread 1/4 cup mayonnaise over the top.  Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.  Bake for 20-25 minutes until lightly brown and bubbly.  Serves 8 – However, after tasting everyone will want a second helping.  

There is a note on this recipe that reads, “Guests may well prefer this to dessert!”  This recipe is from the Virginia Hospitality Cookbook and was published in 1975.  I have made it so many times, I no longer need the recipe.  At the end of the meal, the casserole dish is always empty.

 

Spinach Mushroom Salad

1 1/2 lbs. fresh spinach

1/2 lb. fresh mushrooms ( I use baby portabellas)

1/2 cup salad oil

 3 Tbls. white wine vinegar  

1 Tbls. grated onion (I do finely chopped onion)

 2 tsp. Dijon mustard

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. sugar

Fresh ground pepper

4 slices bacon ~ cooked and crumbled

Directions:  Remove stems from spinach.  Wash and drain.  Tear into bite-size pieces.  Rinse mushrooms in cold water, drain and slice them.  Combine salad oil, vinegar, onion, mustard, salt, sugar, and pepper in a jar.  Shake well.  Combine spinach mushrooms and dressing in serving salad bowl.  Toss until well coated.  Sprinkle with crumbled bacon.  Note:  This recipe is from the Virginian Pilot and Ledger Star ~ Norfolk, VA (early 1970’s.)

If you’re afraid of butter, use cream.” ~ Julia Child

Finally, dessert.  As it is the holiday season, I am sending you something dreadfully sinful for dessert, but I do believe you will thank me.  I can already hear the ooh’s and aah’s.  I watched Ina Garten make this recipe several years ago and I made it shortly after watching her show.  It is wonderful, to say the least.  And, a perfect holiday cake.

Sticky Toffee Date Cake

2 teaspoons baking soda

8 ounces butter, softened

3/4 cup granulated sugar

4 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

3 1/4 tablespoons baking powder

 Sauce 

1/2 pound butter (at room temperature)  Note:  I take this out of the refrigerator the night before baking.

1 cup brown sugar (8 ounces)

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Vanilla ice cream or whipped cream, for serving

 

Directions:  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour two 9-inch-round cake pans or 20 muffin tins (I use baking spray with flour).

Place the dates in a large saucepan with 3 1/2 cups of cold water. Bring to boil, stirring a little to break up the dates. Then leave to simmer for 1 minute before removing from the heat. Stir in the baking soda (which will cause the mixture to bubble up).

Cream the butter and sugar together with a mixer until pale and creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, occasionally scraping down mixing bowl. Add the vanilla extract and then the flour and salt and mix briefly to give a lumpy dough.

Next, add the warm date mixture in two batches. Scrape down the sides of the bowl in between mixing. The dough will now be quite watery but don’t worry! Finally, add the baking powder (this will bubble up also).

Pour the batter evenly into the two pans or muffin tins. Bake for about 30 to 40 minutes for cake pans and about 20 minutes for muffin tins. Test if they are cooked with a small knife or toothpick, it should come out clean when cakes are done.

Meanwhile, to make the sauce, combine the butter, brown sugar, heavy cream and vanilla extract in a medium saucepan. Bring to boil and then reduce to simmer gently for a minute or two until thickened and well blended.

When the cakes are done, poke little holes all over with a toothpick, this will enable the sauce to be absorbed more easily. Pour the caramel sauce over cakes while both are still warm and leave to soak for about 10 minutes. Turn the cakes out upside-down onto serving plates (the bottom is the most sticky bit!).

Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.  And, if luck is with you there will be one remaining cake to enjoy.

Note:  I have never made this cake in muffin pans.  

“We cook to preserve the recipes of our grandmothers.” ~ Anthony Bourdain

image

Dear friends, I hope you have enjoyed being ‘At Table’ today and perhaps you will try some or all of the recipes.  As you can tell, they are not complicated but are delicious.
Enjoy your homes and those you treasure.  And, take time to enjoy the twinkle and sparkle of the season.

Bon Appétit,

Sandra

 

Images:  via tumblr

 

Thoughts, For A Sunday in December.

“The moon on the breast of the new~fallen snow, Gave a lustre of midday to objects below, When what to my wondering eyes did appear . . .” ~ Clement Clark Moore, A Visit from St. Nicholas

❤ Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donder,  Blitzen and, of course, ‘RUDOLPH.’ ❤

 

Dear friends, these December days are passing, once again, all too quickly.  Know I appreciate your visit and I wish you and yours a day of joy.  Filled with everyone and everything which makes your heart happy.  And, when you take a break from the rush, I would like you to remember my thought for you… 

“May you never be too grown up to search the skies on Christmas Eve.” ~ unknown

 

Joyeux Noël, 

Sandra

 

 

Images:  via tumblr

 

 

 

 

 

 

“December’s Warm Embrace.”

“Between bustle and breaths, between twinkling and flurry, December’s warm embrace.” ~ Unknown

Good morning, dear friends.  Isn’t the month of December just like a great big hug?  For me, I’ll answer ~ yes it is.  People smile, snowflakes fall on our cheeks, everything on the earth sparkles, and no matter where you live or what language you speak, you feel the warmth of this lovely time of year.  In a world which all too often seems totally upside down, ‘Love’ is the spirit of this most beautiful season on our earth.  

So, find your coffee or tea and come along with me.  Take a break from the rush and let’s enjoy the ‘warm embrace’ of December.

*

“Snow was falling, so much like stars filling the dark trees that one could easily imagine its reason for being was nothing more than prettiness.” ~ Mary Oliver

“The flake of snow grew larger and larger; and at last it was like a young lady, dressed in the finest white gauze, made of a million little flakes like stars.” ~ Hans Christian Anderson, The Snow Queen

“…iced air warmly whispers past seasons and present spirits.” ~ Unknown

 

“Tender memories wake and say forget-me-not on Christmas Day.” ~ Unknown

“Nothing is ever really lost to us as long as we remember it.” ~ Lucy Maud Montgomery

Memories are made when gathered around the table.  If you are fortunate, perhaps you are setting your table with your grandmother’s transferware.  Those, who are no longer with us have been such a special part of our journey. And memories of them, and the things they loved are a genuine warm embrace.

*

Ah, those memories of  being “nestled all snug in our beds, while visions of sugar plums danced in our heads.”

“Waiting behind the door of our hearts for something wonderful to happen…” ~ Robert Fulghum

sweetoothgirl: “ Glazed Lemon Sour Cream Cookies ”

 

Merry🌲Christmas - http://weheartit.com/

“There was a mood of magic and frenzy to the room.  Crystalline swirls of sugar and flour still lingered in the air like kite tails.  And then there was the smell ~ the smell of hope, the kind of smell that brought people home” ~ Sarah Addison Allen

Dear friends, thank you so much for your visit.  Wherever you may be, I hope this day finds you wrapped in December’s warmth and looking forward to the lovely days ahead.

And…

thelordismylightandmysalvation: “♥ ”

“I truly believe that if we keep telling the Christmas story, singing the Christmas songs, and living the Christmas spirit, we can bring joy and happiness and peace to this world.” ~ Norman Vincent Peale

 

Amour,

Sandra

 

 

 

Images:  via tumblr

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday Thoughts ~ “Take Joy”

“Joy is the infallible sign of the presence of God.” ~ Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Saint Stephen’s Cathedral, ViennaSaint Stephen’s Cathedral, Vienna

Good morning sweet souls.  Isn’t the magnificent Saint Stephen’s Cathedral simply glowing with joy?  I am certain this Cathedral has given comfort, peace, and joy to countless people throughout the years.  Certainly, the reverence one would feel in this beautiful church would be a gift of joy.

And speaking of joy, I want you to know the joy your visit brings.  I appreciate you and your comments more than you can imagine.

As this is the greatest season of ‘Joy,’ today, I would like to share the words of Fra Giovanni Giocondo, written on Christmas Eve 1513 to the Countess Allagia Aldobrandeschi.  I found this many years ago in a book written by Harry Davis.  The book, “Forever Christmas,” is about Christmas at the home of someone I have long admired, Tasha Tudor.  In the book, Davis states, “The words of Giocondo contain a philosophy that has guided her life.”  I hope you, too,  will find the writing as meaningful, reassuring, and lovely as I did.

 

“Take Joy” by Fra Giovanni Giocondo

I salute you! There is nothing I can give you
which you have not;
but there is much, that while I cannot give,
you can take.
No heaven can come to us
unless our hearts find rest in it today.
Take Heaven.

No peace lies in the future
which is not hidden in this present instant.
Take Peace.

The gloom of the world
is but a shadow,
behind it, yet, within our reach,
is joy.
Take Joy.

And so, at this Christmas time,
I greet you,
with the prayer that for you,
now and forever, the day breaks
and the shadows flee away.

 

 

Wishing you and yours beautiful December days.

And may you “now and forever,”

“Take Joy.”

Joyeux Noël,

Sandra

 

 

Notes:  Fra Giovanni Giocondo was a Franciscan friar, architect, archaeologist, and scholar.  He was born c. 1433, Verona, Republic of Venice and died July 1, 1515, Rome.

Tasha Tudor, 1915~2008, was an author and illustrator of many children’s books.  She was also an avid gardener and authority on 18th century home skills. 

Image: via tumblr

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday Thoughts ~ December Magic

“Suddenly December… the magic begins.” ~ Unknown

.

Good morning, beautiful souls.  And, a Happy December to you!  December is truly a magical time, isn’t it?  Perhaps, if the magic, beauty, and kindness which accompanies the month remained throughout the year, it wouldn’t be so greatly appreciated.  However, I think you would agree, it would be marvelous to give it a try.

My grandmother, Belle Fears of Collins, Mississippi, was a wonderful woman.  She made every attempt to keep the spirit of Christmas alive in her heart all year.  At the end of each Christmas season, when she was putting away her decorations, she would always select one small ornament to hang in her kitchen window.  She said, “When I feel agitated or ‘out of sorts,’ I will look at the ornament and it will return Christmas to my heart.”  I began her practice many years ago.  I wish I could tell you it has always worked for me, I can’t.  But, I can tell you it returns the precious memory of my grandmother and times shared in her wonderful kitchen.  And that, in itself, is magic.

“…freshly cut Christmas trees smelling of stars and snow and pine resin – inhale deeply and fill your soul with wintry night…”
~ John Geddes, A Familiar Rain
While we no longer have a live tree in our home, when I see them on tree lots around town, their very appearance speaks of magical moments in the days ahead.  Family and friends gathered around decorated trees, enjoying the twinkling lights and soft glow of the season.  And the smell of fresh pine, even in candle form, will evoke delightful childhood memories.

“The first fall of snow is not only an event, it is a magical event. You go to bed in one kind of a world and wake up in another quite different, and if this is not enchantment then where is it to be found?” ~ J.B. Priestley

Our first significant snow usually arrives sometime in December.  And, it easily becomes part of the magic of December, creating a fairy-like wonderland with its softness and beauty. 
“I love snow for the same reason I love Christmas:  It brings people together while time stands still.” ~ Rachel Cohn
“Christmas magic is silent. You don’t hear it ~ you feel it. You know it. You believe it.” ~ Kevin Alan Milne

 

Dear friends, I hope this post will begin your December with a bit of magic. Enjoy this glorious time of year and every drop of beauty it brings.  But as we go about this busy month, let us keep in mind, “ …when we give each other Christmas gifts in His name, let us remember that He has given us the sun and the moon and the stars, and the earth with its forests and mountains and oceans ~ and all that lives and moves upon them. He has given us all green things and everything that blossoms and bears fruit and all that we quarrel about and all that we have misused ~ and to save us from our foolishness, from all our sins, He came down to earth and gave us Himself.” ~ Sigrid Undset

Wishing you and yours a beautiful day!

 

Amour,

Sandra

 

 

Notes:  Sigrid Undset was a Norwegian novelist who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1928.

Images:  via tumblr

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday Thoughts ~ Thanksgiving

In November, people are good to each other. They carry pies to each other’s homes and talk by crackling woodstoves, sipping mellow cider. They travel very far on a special November day just to share a meal with one another and to give thanks for their many blessings… 

for the food on their tables…

and the babies in their arms.” ~ Cynthia Rylant, In November

“All across America, we gather this week with the people we love to give thanks to God for the blessings in our lives.” ~ George W. Bush

image

 

Dear friends, wherever Thanksgiving Day may find you, I wish you and yours love and great joy.

Be safe in your travels, hug those you love extra tight and may the day bring you beautiful memories.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Amour,

Sandra

 

The thankful receiver bears a plentiful harvest.” ~ William Blake

 

 

Images:  via tumblr