Once Again, It is December First!

Good morning, dear friends.  I know you didn’t expect to hear from me this morning.  However, it is December first.  And to me, it is a magical day.  A day of importance.

I wrote this post exactly two years ago.  I felt in lieu of our crazy year, perhaps you would enjoy this story.  If you have followed along with me for the past few years you may remember this post.  Although, if you are reading it for the first time, I hope you will smile. Perhaps, the story may be just what you need to begin this glorious month on an exuberant note.  So, as I said two years ago, “Find your coffee and a comfy chair, and let me tell you what December first means to me.”

“Suddenly December…the magic begins.” ~ Unknown

“Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love.” ~ Hamilton Wright Mabie

I love Christmas.  I love the fuss, the decorating, the lights, the sparkle, the baking and of course, thinking of gifts for those I love.  I absolutely adore the entire package and anyone who truly knows me will confirm this. 

In our home, the Christmas season begins December first.    I know you are wondering, why December first?   So, here is the story ~ one I hope you will enjoy.

“Wake up “darlin!”  It is December 1st, the beginning of the most magical, beautiful time of the year.”  Those were my mother’s words to me, every December 1st.  And to mom, it was a season full of love and beauty.  Every December, I thank her so much for this beautiful gift she gave me repeatedly each year, from when I was a young child until she passed away.

“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

Our mothers are so very precious.  If they have passed away, our memories of them are our personal treasures we tuck away in our hearts and hold them ever so close.  Mothers instill in us our values and give us gifts we treasure throughout our lives.  While many of these gifts “come tied up with strings,” many do not.  I was blessed beyond measure with a mother who gave me an abundance of gifts not “tied up with strings.”  These gifts, not purchased in a store, were from her heart.  She wanted me to understand the real meaning of Christmas, why we give and exchange gifts and she especially wanted me to understand ~ the message of Christmas is love.  Truly, I ‘believe’ she was successful.

Each year on December 1st, she always, always did something special for me and others she loved.   For me, it might have been her homemade cinnamon rolls, a special dinner, new ribbons for my hair, a new pair of socks, or my favorite ~ a pan of her famous peanut butter fudge. 

She also might spend the afternoon helping me make pomander balls or cookies to give to our neighbors.  Always something small, but it served as a sweet reminder as to how special the day and days to follow should be.

“It’s Christmas in the heart that puts Christmas in the air.” ~Keith Baines

As the years went along, I grew up, married and moved away.  Always, a tiny package would arrive, marked “Do Not Open Until December 1st.”  The sweet package was from mom, and she never failed to phone me before I left for work on this special day.  I can still hear her soft Mississippi drawl and her kind words.  She would ask about my plans to make the day special for others, especially plans I had for Mike.   The conversation would always end with her words, “I love you ‘darlin’ – scatter joy.”  Just a note ~ absolutely no one can say ‘darlin’ like someone from the Deep South.

Through the years, many friends and coworkers have often looked at me rather puzzled when they were first introduced to my December 1st tradition.  However, once they understood how, why, and from whom it originated, they relished in the joyful atmosphere. I can tell you they adored being sprinkled with a bit of mom’s Christmas magic.   The sweetness of the day lingered with them.  As the years unfolded, they would say to me – “It’s almost December 1st.”  This special joy has been returned to me many times.  Still today, I often hear from friends and former coworkers on December 1st.   Mom’s tradition touched the lives of many.

As for Mike ~ well, he has enjoyed this special day for 46 years.  He has more Christmas ties than are in the men’s department of Macy’s.  Christmas ties are a perfect gift for a teacher, also Christmas socks.  And, if you were to ask him about his all-time favorite December 1st gift, he would answer, “Merry.”  Merry was our black Labrador retriever.  Her proper or registered name was Merry Christmas of Crabapple.  Her name suited her perfectly ~ my goodness she was Merry.  Every day she lived, glowed like an overabundantly lit Christmas tree.

“When we recall Christmas past, we usually find the simplest things give off the greatest glow of happiness.”  ~ Bob Hope

It really is “the simplest things,” which make this special season glow.  Mom’s sweet tradition enriched my life and, I know, the lives of many.  A lovely tradition which costs little, shows more love than there are words, and creates such wonderful memories.  So, from mom to me to you – “It’s December 1st” enjoy this most wonderful, magical time of year and… scatter joy! 

 

Do you have a special tradition which you and your family enjoy during the Christmas season?  I hope you will share.  

Wishing you and yours, a most beautiful and special December!

 

And, until we meet again…  “May you have heaven in your heart, starlight in your soul, and angels all around you.” ~ Unknown

 

Au Revoir,

Sandra

Sweet friends, I wish I could bake these and give each and every one of you a lovely bag full.  But, as I can’t, I am doing the next best thing and sending you the recipe. Happy December 1st!

Butter Sugar Cookies

Note:  This was my grandmother’s recipe.  She submitted it to be printed in her church cookbook, The First Presbyterian Church of Collins, Mississippi. 

Ingredients:

1 cup – 2 sticks butter, softened (do not substitute the butter)

1 cup sugar

½ tsp. vanilla or almond extract

1 egg

2 cups all-purpose flour

½ tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. cream of tartar

Preheat oven to 350.  Cream together butter and sugar.  Add vanilla and egg, mixing well.  Sift flour, baking soda, and cream of tartar.  Add gradually to butter mixture, mixing well.  Chill dough for an hour or two.  Make dough into small balls.  Place on ungreased cookie sheet and flatten with a fork, or bottom of a glass, that has been dipped in sugar.  Make sure each cookie is sprinkled with sugar.  Bake 15-17 minutes (my oven-14 min.), or just until edges begin to turn golden.  Let stand on cookie sheet 2-3 minutes.  Remove to a rack and cool completely.  Sprinkle with colored sprinkles if desired.  Store in airtight container.

 

Photos: viatumblr

Note: I do not claim ownership of these photos. These photos are the work of tremendously talented people and I simply compiled them for your enjoyment.

 

 

 

Sunday Thoughts ~ The Aura of Christmas

“Ring in the nobler modes of life With sweeter manner, purer laws, The larger heart, the kindlier hand…” ~ Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Good Sunday morning, beautiful friends.  I do hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  Ours was lovely, even though it was just the two of us.  It was a day in which we felt richly blessed.  One which was peaceful and with way too much good food.

Like Thanksgiving, our Christmas celebrations will probably be different as well.  However, I do not believe our hearts will be less open to the magic, beauty, and meaning of Christmas.  Nor, less open to enjoying and receiving all the love the season holds.

“Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is more beautiful.” ~ Norman Vincent Peale

Bloggers seem to have many things in common that they enjoy.  Many enjoy gardening, reading, and creating beauty.  I have also noticed that several of my blogging friends treasure their favorite Christmas books and read them every year.  I do as well.  Today, I would like to share an excerpt from a favorite of mine, “The Heart of Christmas,” written by the editors of Victoria Magazine.  The excerpt is from “The Four Midwestern Sisters’  Christmas Book,” written by Holly J. Burkhalter.  I do believe it will kindle a spark of Christmas in your heart.

“When we were young, Christmas morning before the presents were opened was the most delicious moment of the entire year.  We were up with the birds.  We prowled around the tree, poking things and guessing madly.  The wait for our parents and grandparents to straggle in was unbearable, but finally they came. . .

They made us wait a little longer while Dad read the Christmas story.  After all the excitement and bustle and bursting happiness of the days before Christmas, the reading of Luke’s words by the tree suspended us for a moment in time.  Did we stop breathing?  It seemed so.  We sat very quietly. . . while the ancient words flowed over us.  

“And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, the babe lying in a manger.  And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.  And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.  But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.”  Luke 2:16-19

. . . For a time, after we had grown up and gone our separate spiritual ways. we substituted various readings for Luke’s words on Christmas morning.  Mom read a few short stories, like “Why the Chimes Rang” and “The Little Match Girl,”  and one year we each took a part and read the Christmas morning scene from Little Women.  But the substitutes never really worked.  We missed the Christmas story, with its words worn silky smooth from constant use, the images and ideas connecting us to Christmases in the past.  Now we’re back to having Dad read the Christmas story, and as he reads, I can see us around the tree thirty-some years ago with the littlest girls sitting on Grandpa’s lap.  And I can imagine that at Burkhalter Christmases many years from now, we’ll have our own grandchildren in our laps.  And as the Christmas story is read, we’ll always hear it in Dad’s voice.”

Dear friends, during this busy season when time is precious, know how much I appreciate your visit.  I wish you and yours a beautiful day and week ahead.

And…

May the spirit of the season fill your heart and home with love and peace.  Stay well!

 

 

“This Christmas may you remember the dreams of childhood, and may you experience the wonder they once held.”  ~ unknown

Joyeux Noël,

Sandra

 

 

Images:  via tumblr

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday Thoughts ~ “A Thankful Heart”

“A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue but the parent of all the other virtues.” ~ Cicero

“Gratitude is the sweet fragrance of an opening heart.” ~ Aine Belton

Good Sunday morning, beautiful souls.  The holidays are here.  And this year, more than ever, let them find us with ‘thankful’ hearts.   While our celebrations may not be like those we have always loved and enjoyed, to me, the fact that Mike and I are well is something beyond wonderful to celebrate.  I have many blessings but count my dear husband of forty-eight years, treasured friends, our sweet old home, and cherished memories of lovely holidays past, as the most precious. 

This year I will be setting an extra special table, and preparing a traditional Thanksgiving meal.  Turkey, with all the trimmings.  I know many of you have similar plans.  However, do take extra caution if you are inviting guests or traveling.  As we all well know, the ugly virus is raging in full force everywhere.

Thanksgiving ~ author unknown

“The year has turned its circle,
The seasons come and go.
The harvest all is gathered in
And chilly north winds blow.
Orchards have shared their treasures,
The fields, their yellow grain,
So open wide the doorway~
Thanksgiving comes again!” 

Dear friends from our table to yours,  know we wish you a joyous and safe Thanksgiving. 
Complete with memories you will hold forever in your heart.
And…
May you “Hear blessings dropping their blossoms around you.” ~ Rumi

Amour,

Sandra

Images:  via tumblr, M.S. Lambiotte

 

Sunday Thoughts ~ “November Comes and November Goes”

“No synonym for God is so perfect as Beauty. Whether as seen carving the lines of the mountains with glaciers, or gathering matter into stars, or planning the movements of water, or gardening ~ still all is Beauty!” ~ John Muir

pagewoman: “ Geese in the Mist by Grunvald ”

Good Sunday morning, dear friends.  I don’t know about you, but today finds me desperately trying to hold onto these last beautiful days of autumn. November, like October, is moving way too fast for my liking.  While autumn has been glorious in the ‘Mountain State,’ we are beginning to see signs of ‘Old Man Winter’ with the arrival of his good friend, ‘Mr. Jack Frost.’

“Of yellow leaves and gossamer In autumns that there were With morning mist and silver sun And wind upon my hair.” ~ J.R.R. Tolkien

A storm blew through our area this past week and most of our lovely yellow leaves are gone.  But I treasure the few which remain.  I thought I would share a few golden beauties, just in case yours may be gone as well. 

“Another glorious day, the air as delicious to the lungs as nectar to the tongue.” ~ John Muir

“November at its best ~ with a sort of delightful menace in the air.” ~ Anne Bosworth Greene

With November in such a rush,  I must also rush to attend to a few remaining things in the garden before I can say, “She is tucked in for her long winter’s sleep.”  You probably wonder, “Doesn’t she know November arrives at the same time each year?”  Oh, but let me tell you what I have been doing.  Our sunroom looks like a drying shed.  I decided to dry our limelight hydrangeas and they have behaved beautifully, along with a few roses.  My plan is to make an arrangement for our Thanksgiving table.  I want to make the table extra special this year, as I feel the fact that we are well is so very much to celebrate.  If the arrangement manages to resemble the picture in my head, I will ask Mike to take photos.  He is quite good with a camera and you know, I am not.

Also, Mike found the candied fruit at the grocery store yesterday,  last year it was not to be found in any of our markets.  So, the good news is,  I will be making our fruit cakes the day after Thanksgiving.  A long-standing tradition for me.  

Dear friends, I hope you have enjoyed your visit and hearing about what I have been up to.  I should add to my list that much of our Christmas decorating is in the works.  However, we never have our ‘Grand Illumination’ until after Thanksgiving.  To us, Thanksgiving is far too special to be rushed through, and especially this year.

Know I wish you and yours a lovely day.

And…

May you see the light in all the little things along your path.  Stay Well!

 

“Novembers are for softest sleep when skies are dark and grey. They do not mind the time you keep when night looks much like day. They do not mind the rain that falls so warmly down your cheek. ‘Rest easy now’ is what they’d say if months knew how to speak.” ~ Ellis Nightingale

Amour,

Sandra

Images:  via tumblr

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday Thoughts ~ America, Since 1776

“Whatever our differences, we are fellow Americans…” ~ John McCain

Good Sunday morning, dear friends.  Today, we are on the cusp of new beginnings.  Hopefully, an improved chapter in the life of each and every American. 

Our new leadership in the White House has much work to do.  There are so many issues facing our nation, when I think of them my head spins.  But, faith and hope are beautiful things.  They inspire and move people toward good and wonderful accomplishments.   I pray our nation will pull together, support our new president and his team, and that we will, once again, respect one another, and be a beacon of hope for the world.  

Man In The Arena,  Theodore Roosevelt

“It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly, who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement; and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly…”

dentist04: “Washington, DC ”

 

Dear friends, I hope you have appreciated my thoughts.  And, in the words of Abraham Lincoln, let us move forward…

 With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan ~ to do all which may achieve and cherish a just, and a lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

 

Know, I wish you and yours a beautiful day.

And…

May your week ahead be full of joy.  Stay Well!

Amour,

Sandra

“Sometimes it takes a while to recognize that someone has a special ability to get us to believe in ourselves, to tie that belief to our highest ideals, and to imagine that together we can do great things.” ~ Caroline Kennedy

 

 

Images:  via tumblr

At Table ~ Soup’s On!

“As they entered November, the weather turned very cold. The mountains around the school became icy grey and the lake like chilled steel. Every morning the ground was covered in frost.” ~ J.K. Rowling

image

Good morning, sweet friends and welcome to ‘At Table.’  I don’t know about you, but the opening quote truly makes me hope the “Soup is On.”

I love soup and Mike does also, but not quite as much as I do.  So for that reason, I have learned to prepare soups that will serve us for dinner and maybe lunch, but not a recipe which will feed us for a week.  As we all know, soup does have a tendency to grow when it is being prepared.

#findyourthing Two #olive #branches. Die-cut vinyl stickers with beautiful fruits and vegetables for laptops, journals, scrapbooking, kids activities and DIY projects @RedBubble.

“Soup is the song of the hearth… and the home.”  ~ Louis P. De Gouy

Today, I am sharing three of our favorite soups.  As the days grow colder and busier with the holidays drawing near, I hope you will enjoy them.  They make a hearty and satisfying supper and are quick and easy.  Don’t forget the crusty bread or rolls. 

First up is ~ Chicken, Lemon, and Orzo soup.

10 Immune System-Boosting Soup Recipes: Greek Lemon Chicken Soup

Chicken, Lemon, and Orzo Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 medium carrots cut into rounds or diced
  • 2 stalks of celery cut into half-moons
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • juice and zest of 1.5 lemons ( I use 2)
  • 1 large chicken breast shredded or diced into bite-size pieces
  • 8 cups of chicken broth
  • 1 handful chopped Italian parsley (optional)
  • 1/4 cup orzo pasta or any other small pasta like ditalini or stars ( I use 1/2 cup)
  • 1 cup baby spinach leaves ( I use 2 handfuls – we like spinach)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Start with a large pot and melt 4 tbsp of butter over medium heat.  And diced onion, carrots, celery, and minced garlic.
  • Over medium heat and covered, sweat the vegetables for about fifteen minutes.  The vegetables should not caramelize.
  • Add chicken broth, lemon juice, and zest.  Let the soup come to a simmer.
  • Once the soup has reached a simmer, add the orzo and shredded chicken.
  • Once the orzo is tender, about 15 minutes, turn the heat off. Add baby spinach and parsley(if using).
  • Mix well to combine.
  • Taste for seasoning and lemon.
#findyourthing Two #olive #branches. Die-cut vinyl stickers with beautiful fruits and vegetables for laptops, journals, scrapbooking, kids activities and DIY projects @RedBubble.

“Only the pure of heart can make good soup”  ~ Beethoven

This recipe is especially a favorite.  But, who doesn’t love potatoes?  I am sharing it as I received it, but please note my changes.

Photo
Baked Potato Soup Recipe
  • 4 nice size Russet potatoes
  • 4 slices of bacon, chopped
  • 4 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion (I use 1 large onion – but prefer 2 large leeks, green tops removed)
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 4 cups 2 % Milk (I use 2 cups whole milk and 2 cups heavy cream)
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • salt/pepper
  • 8 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded

Garnish

  • chopped chives (I use chopped green onions and their tops)
  • sour cream
  • crumbled bacon
  • shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Scrub potatoes, poke with a fork to prevent bursting.  Place in oven and bake until tender (about 45 minutes).  Remove from the oven and set aside.  Meanwhile, chop bacon and cook over medium-low heat on the stove in a heavy large pot until crispy, being careful not to burn.  Remove bacon to a  paper towel-lined plate.  Drain all but 1 tablespoon bacon grease from pot.  Add butter, onions, and celery to pot and cook until tender.  Add flour, stirring until blended into the butter, and cook stirring for one minute.  Slowly whisk in the milk, one cup at a time until well-blended.  Stir in chicken broth.  Bring to a boil then lower heat to a simmer.  Cut potatoes in half and scoop potato flesh into the soup, breaking it up with a spoon.  Heat through about 2 minutes.  Turn heat off, stir in all but 4 tablespoons of the shredded cheese, until melted.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Note: add the cream just before serving.  Taste, and if it is too cool,  heat a minute or two.    Place in bowls and top with the crumbled bacon, sour cream, chives or green onions, and cheddar cheese.

#findyourthing Two #olive #branches. Die-cut vinyl stickers with beautiful fruits and vegetables for laptops, journals, scrapbooking, kids activities and DIY projects @RedBubble.

“To feel safe and warm on a cold wet night, all you really need is soup.” ~ Laurie Colwin

Feasting at Home

 

Last, is a favorite of Mike’s. It is Pasta e Fagiolo Soup.  This recipe came to me from a woman I worked with many years ago.  It is supposed to be a copy of the Olive Garden Restaurant’s recipe.  Although she didn’t know for sure if it was, it is so delicious.

Pasta e Fagioli Soup 

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onion
  • 1 cup diced carrots (about 2 medium)
  • 1 cup diced celery (about 3 stalks)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (1 Tbsp)
  • 3 (8 oz) cans tomato sauce
  • 2 14.5 oz cans chicken broth (I use a box, 48 oz. of chicken broth and skip the water)
  • 1/2 cup water, then more as desired
  • 1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 2 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 3/4 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp dried marjoram
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup dry ditalini pasta
  • 1 (15 oz) can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15 oz) can great northern beans, drained and rinsed
  • Finely shredded Romano or Parmesan cheese, for serving
  • 3 Tbsp minced fresh parsley (optional)

Instructions

 – Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat, crumble in ground beef cook, stirring occasionally until cooked through.

 – Drain fat from beef then transfer beef to a plate, set aside. Heat remaining 1 Tbsp olive oil in the same pot.

 – Add onions, carrots, and celery and saute over medium-high heat until tender about 6 minutes, add garlic and saute 1 minute longer.

 – Add chicken broth, tomato sauce, water, canned tomatoes, sugar, basil, oregano, thyme, marjoram, and cooked beef then season with salt and pepper to          taste.

 – Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium-low, cover with the lid and allow to simmer, stirring occasionally, until veggies are soft, about 15 – 20 minutes.

 – Meanwhile, prepare ditalini pasta according to directions on the package, cooking to al dente.

 – Add cooked and drained pasta to soup along with kidney beans and great northern beans. Thin with a little more broth or water if desired.

 – Allow to cook 1 minute longer. Stir in parsley, serve warm with grated Romano or Parmesan cheese.

Note:  If you don’t plan on eating all of the soup right away you may want to add the pasta to individual servings. Otherwise, pasta may get soggy and absorb too much broth.

#findyourthing Two #olive #branches. Die-cut vinyl stickers with beautiful fruits and vegetables for laptops, journals, scrapbooking, kids activities and DIY projects @RedBubble.

Dear friends, I hope you will try these recipes.  And enjoy them as much as we do.  To me, soup is the all-time comfort food.  It holds great power, in my opinion. 

I will leave you with an interesting note, a quote I have had for many years.  It is from Leonardo da Vinci’s notebook, the year 1518.  It was the last sentence written on a mathematical theorem.  It appears he enjoyed soup too.

“Whatever ~ the soup is getting cold.” ~ Leonardo da Vinci

 

Wishing you happy times in your kitchen and ‘At Your Table.’  

Don’t let the ‘soup get cold’ and Stay Well!

 

Bon Appétit,

Sandra

#findyourthing Two #olive #branches. Die-cut vinyl stickers with beautiful fruits and vegetables for laptops, journals, scrapbooking, kids activities and DIY projects @RedBubble.

 

 

Note: Be sure to send me a message, should you have any questions about any of the recipes.

Images:  Pinterest,tumblr

 

 

 

 

Sunday Thoughts ~ “Sweet November”

“Welcome sweet November, the season of senses and my favorite month of all.” ~ Gregory F. Lenz

Had to share this @WeHeartIt

Good Sunday morning, dear ones.  Remember, a few weeks ago I said, “We are going to blink and it will be Christmas.”  Well, it is getting closer, isn’t it?  As this morning we welcome November. 

I have always enjoyed November.  I suppose my enjoyment of the month stems from the years we lived in Virginia.  Being a West Virginia girl, I would be so anxious to see glorious autumn days.  However, autumn doesn’t arrive in that part of the world until November.  When it does arrive the days are beautiful, but unfortunately, the stay is brief.  Perhaps, that is what made November so sweet for me.  

“In November, the earth is growing quiet. It is making its bed, a winter bed for flowers and small creatures. The bed is white and silent, and much life can hide beneath its blankets.” ~  Cynthia Rylant
“I learned to know the love of bare November days,” ~ Robert Frost

November, by Elizabeth Coatsworth

November comes
And November goes,
With the last red berries
And the first white snows.

With night coming early,
And dawn coming late,
And ice in the bucket
And frost by the gate.

The fires burn
And the kettles sing,
And earth sinks to rest
Until next spring.

Dear friends, I hope this finds you happy and ready to welcome the beautiful month of November.  It is a month of change as we move into winter and a well-deserved rest.  And, this year, perhaps more than ever, it is a time for us to pay attention and give thanks for our many blessings and all the tiny details in our lives ~ both of which make life so beautiful.

Know how much I appreciate your visit and comments.

And…

I wish you and yours a beautiful and peaceful day.  Stay well!

“May you take time
to celebrate the quiet miracles
that seek no attention.” ~
John O’Donohue

 

Amour,

Sandra

 

 

Images: via tumblr

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday Thoughts ~ A Season of Change

“It was Indian summer, a bluebird sort of day as we call it in the north, warm and sunny, without a breath of wind; the water was sky-blue, the shores a bank of solid gold.” ~ Sigurd F. Olson

autumncottageattic: “ lena.kjonsson ”

Good Sunday morning, dear ones.  It is hard to believe this is the last Sunday of October.  I hope you have enjoyed many “bluebird sort of days.”  I have tried to keep my mind on lovely things and the magnificent beauty which surrounds me.  Unfortunately, this next week will most likely be full of confusing political issues, and unsettling remarks.  Not to mention, more sad news about the dreadful virus.   I have heard so many people say, “November third can’t come soon enough.”  Honestly, I will admit, I feel that way too.  And, I know you join me in praying we will see a week without violence.

“The most solid comfort one can fall back upon is the thought that the business of one’s life is to help in some small way to reduce the sum of ignorance, degradation, and misery on the face of this beautiful earth.” ~ George Elliott

Hydrangeas, Hydrangea Flowers, Bush, Hydrangea Shrub

Did you know hydrangeas represent, ‘thank you for understanding?’  They do.  I believe it is so important to try and be understanding. Sometimes I succeed and other times I don’t.  I suppose that is because I am human.  It would truly be a dull world if we all thought alike or had the same opinions. However, now more than ever, it is especially important to take a step back and try and understand others, to truly listen, and to place ourselves in their shoes.  It is our “business to help reduce ignorance, degradation, and misery.”  Our differences can make us a beautiful nation and an example to the world.  Because, “When patterns are broken, new worlds emerge.”  And, isn’t that a lovely thought?

“Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know.” ~ Pema Chodron

I pray we will walk through a new door, into the light.  And, from all we have learned, be better humans, working together to build a nation of respect and kindness.  To live with John Denver’s thoughts in our minds, “I believe that we are here for each other, not against each other. Everything comes from an understanding that you are a gift in my life – whoever you are, whatever our differences.”

 

Dear friends, thank you so much for your visit.  In closing, I would like to say, “With all my heart, I believe a change is in the air.”  And, my faith tells me it is for the good.  The virus will eventually go away and it will have taught us many things.  

image

And…

“After all this is over what really will have mattered is how we treated each other.” ~ unknown  

To that, I would like to add, and how we ‘continue’ to treat each other.

Wishing you a beautiful day and may the angels walk with you along your path.  Stay well!

 

Amour,

Sandra

 

 

Notes:  Quote information, “When patterns are broken, new worlds emerge.” is by Tuli Kupferberg.

Images:  Pixibay and tumblr

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beauty ~ The Gentler Side of Life ~ October, 2020

“Those who seek beauty shall find it.” ~ Bill Cunningham

Good morning, dear ones and welcome to ‘The Gentler Side of Life.’  As I write this, I feel as though God has lovingly smiled upon me this morning.  The window beside me is open, the house is completely silent, and the only sounds I hear are the sweet birds singing to me from our dear garden.  The huge sugar maple in the yard behind us is dressed in gold.  In our garden there remains a few honeysuckle blooms on the arbor, the hydrangeas are their deep rusty pink, and many of the peonies are ready for their long winter nap. I feel so fortunate to be surrounded by such beauty and I do hope you have a lovely view from a window in your home.   

Years ago, I was reading one of Alexandra Stoddard’s books, and she said, “From every window of our homes, we should see something of beauty.”  I believe she was trying to teach us to open our eyes and see the beauty which surrounds us.  Her words have never left me.  There is always gorgeousness, in some form, right in front of us.  Something just waiting to charm us, we just have to look and find eyes that see.

” Because beauty matters.” ~ unknown

Yes, beauty does matter.  It is most important to the human heart and soul.  There is so much written about the subject from wonderful minds, how could we possibly doubt its significance in our daily lives?  Beauty softens our lives and our hearts.  And, if only for a few moments, seeing such clears our heads and allows us to actually appreciate what we see.  It puts us in a stress-free zone.  Beauty holds great power and it can be life-changing.

“It is what I was born for ~ to look, to listen, to lose myself inside this soft world” ~ Mary Oliver

As you know, I enjoy the writings of Mary Oliver.  And the above quote is an example.  I believe Ms. Oliver and I are kindred spirits.  Even as a young girl I could be moved to tears by the magnificence of a fabulous bloom.  I have always been my happiest in a “softer world.”

This past Sunday morning, when I came downstairs, my husband greeted me with, “You must read Dear Abby.”   He had already read the Sunday paper.  I don’t know if the Dear Abby column appears in your local newspaper, but Mike always enjoys reading it.  Anyway, this past week it was about beauty and a woman who suffered from Alzheimer’s.  The woman’s daughter would take her mother for daily walks.  Sometimes the woman knew her daughter and some days she did not.  But, on their walks, they would always pass a house with beautiful flowers and for a few brief moments, the woman would have complete clarity.  She would remark, how she and her husband would always plant such flowers. When the woman passed away, her daughter wrote a note to the lady who lived in the house with the lovely flowers.  She told her how much joy the beauty she had nurtured and planted had given her mom during her final days.  She not only enjoyed the gorgeous flowers, but they returned her to the beauty of her own life.  Amazing power. 

“Dishes are one of the tools that support life. Please take great care when using them.” ~ Shoukei Matsumoto

There is so much beauty in this world, it is hard to know what to talk about first.  I am most passionate about my love for the beauty of gardens and nature.  And next, I imagine I would have to say it would be lovely and delicate china, especially vintage china.  It never ceases to captivate me and I have many wonderful memories of finding special items over the years.  As well as memories of lovely and special gifts.

One such memory was being with my mom in one of our favorite antique haunts.  Mom had a magnificent eye, she could spot something lovely a hundred yards away.  And such was the day she spotted, under a table, a set of Haviland china (now mine).  

Apple Blossom, Haviland china.

The set included twelve cups and saucers, six dinner and salad plates, and six soup bowls.  Not a piece had a chip or crack.  The serving pieces included a sugar and creamer, and a beautiful covered soup tureen with an underneath platter.  I treasure this set not only because it is beautiful, but especially for the memories of a wonderful day spent with mom.

The Christmas following our adventure mom gifted me with her set of Fostoria, Pink Navarre.  She said, “They will be happy with your Haviland,” and they are.

“A thing of beauty is a joy forever: its loveliness increases; it will never pass into nothingness.”  ~ John Keats

 

“Antique things have an appreciation and worth. Something can be old, but it can be timeless…” ~ Cee Lo Green

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

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Dear friends, thank you so much for your visit.  I hope you have enjoyed your time in the “no-stress zone.” 

Please know, I wish you a perfectly beautiful day.  And until we meet again…

May your path be lined with loveliness and kind souls.  Stay well!

“Beauty gives us hope” ~ unknown

 

Amour,

Sandra

 

Images:  via tumblr

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday Thoughts ~ “Calm in the Chaos”

“It’s all about finding the calm in the chaos.” ~ Donna Karan

j-k-i-ng: “““Untitled“ by | Daisuke Uematsu” ”

Good Sunday morning, beautiful souls.  I hope this finds you well and at peace.  The deadly virus appears to be on the rise in almost every state and the rise of heated political rhetoric is flourishing as well, unfortunately.  So how do we find “calm amidst such chaos?”  I certainly do not know. However, I do know, once upon a time, life was sweeter.

Jim Kirwan writes, “We live in a world where violence has become the currency of the day, where the insanity of hatred overwhelms the spirituality of our existence. We search for meaning, yet all we find is chaos.”  For me, home is my shelter from the ugliness of the world.  As I imagine it is for you.  Home, now more than ever, is a true blessing and such a refuge for all of us.  

Our home in the spring.

Although, the violence of this world came too close to our doorstep these past few weeks.  One horrible incident: our neighbor (three houses down the street) was shot while trying to protect his wife from someone who carjacked her and her mother as she pulled out of their driveway. Thankfully, he was not killed but remains in the hospital, and his wife and her mother are safe but emotionally scarred.  

These times are so difficult on many levels and it is not only the violence that seems to be out of control,  it is also the failure to respect other opinions.  Resulting in friendships being lost, some expanding decades upon decades.  And when this happens, friends lose the shelter of one another.  Both are tragic.

Heart, I implore you, it’s time to come back from the dark.” ~ Mary Oliver

I feel certain you will agree, “it is time for many hearts to come back from the dark.”  Perhaps it will be the end result of the virus, once it is over.  I pray we never return to this constant state of ‘rush and confusion.’  And that we will once again respect each other, know our neighbors, pay attention to the magnificence of the earth that surrounds us, and foster kindness.  Because the words of Robert A. Heinlein speak the truth, ” A dying culture invariably exhibits personal rudeness. Bad manners. A lack of consideration for others in minor matters and a loss of politeness…”

“There are many things to be grateful “for” but, as I ripen with the seasons of life, the many reasons blend into a sacred mystery. And, most deeply, I realize that living gratefully is its own blessing.” ~ Michael Mahoney

michaelnordeman: “Today I was almost attacked by this nuthatch. “Can’t you see the feeder is empty?” Some birds, especially Nuthatches and Willow tits, are actually following us around the garden whenever it’s time to refill the feeders. Not that...

There are many things I am extremely grateful for and have helped me sort through these difficult times.  To name a few, my husband who is at his core a cheerful person, the beauty of nature, and my blog.  I am so grateful for my dear blogging friends, their encouraging words, and humor.  And my dear friend of sixty-plus years, Janet.  I am grateful life has not eroded our friendship.

“Faith is the strength by which a shattered world shall emerge into the light.” ~ Helen Keller

Dear friends,  thank you so much for your visit.  I wish you and yours a perfectly gorgeous day.  May the week ahead be filled with everything that is good and wonderful. And, may you always find “calm in the chaos.”  Stay well!

On that note, I will leave you with the thoughts of Steven Charleston. I hope you will find them as hopeful as I did.

 

“Wait and see. Mercy will return once more, like a mist coming down into the valley, long trails of fog as white as a wedding gown against the gray-green mountains, draped by an unseen hand, drifting down to cover the valley below, putting a stillness in the air, a veil of mystery no human heart can yet decipher. Wait and see. Peace will come once more, dancing over the tops of white-tipped waves, rushing like salt spray to tell the good news to every creature waiting, bending the stubborn wetland grass to touch the Earth, as sharp a breeze as can ever fill any sail. Wait and see. Love will be here to stay, coming over the freshly harvested fields like the shadow of a cloud in an October light, moving forward to embrace every longing heart, wrapping us in swirls of colored leaves, the season of rest already upon us, as the promise of our dearest hope is finally fulfilled. Wait and see.”

Amour,

Sandra

 

Images:  via tumblr, Michael S. Lambiotte