Sunday Thoughts ~If Only They Could Talk !

“Things men have made with wakened hands, and put soft life into are awake through years with transferred touch, and go on glowing for long years. And for this reason, some old things are lovely warm still with the life of forgotten men who made them.” ~ D. H. Lawrence

 

Good morning, dear friends.  As I write this (Saturday, November 13) we have cloudy skies, cold temperatures, and snow flurries. Where ever you are, I hope this finds you well and not under the severe weather moving across parts of the country.  

With the holidays fast approaching, I have begun to ponder many of our old things (or treasures) as I refer to them.  In my opinion,  treasures add extra warmth and a special glow to a home.  Especially, during the holidays.

Oh, I have so many fond memories of where I was and who I was with when special treasures landed in my hands.  For example, the day mom and I were in one of our favorite haunts and she spied a set of Haviland China (Apple Blossom) under an old table.  Such a wonderful memory of a fun day spent together.  Through the years, since the Haviland came home with me, I have given it much thought.  “Who loved it before me, where did they live, was the china used for holidays, what were some of the stories shared at the table, and how did it become unwanted and end up in a shop that held a conglomeration of hodgepodge?”   If only it could talk.

“One of the things that attracts me to vintage and antique things is they have stories, and even if I don’t know the stories. . .” ~ Mary Kay Andrews

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Did these beauties once hold lovely paintings or pictures of loved ones? 

image  “September Afternoon” 1913 ~ Artist Charles Courtney Curran

“As a kid growing up in the 1950s I became acutely aware of the changes taking place in American culture and I must say I didn’t much like it. I witnessed the debasement of architecture, and I could see a decline in the quality of things. . . Old things seemed to have more life, more substance, more humanity in them.” ~ Robert Crumb

See more at https://blog2collectionsanfavs.tumblr.com/

Someone once loved these pretty oil lamps.  Perhaps, they were all from one home or maybe the homeowner enjoyed collecting them?  Wouldn’t you love to know their stories?

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These Confit pots were most definitely loved and well used.  Confit is the French word that means to preserve. Usually, they were found in mustard yellow and this shade of green. They were used for storing cooked meats and then buried in the ground or stored in stone-lined cellars. This storage process preserved the cooked meat without refrigeration and could then be enjoyed throughout the winter months.

In America, we also used crockery to store meats, such as the crock below.  The meat was cooked and covered with a layer of lard and then stored in a smokehouse and used during the winter. The winters were much colder back then which helped to preserve the meat.

 

Late 19th Century Massachusetts Salt Glaze Stoneware Oyster Crock For Sale

Additionally, these lovely vessels are wonderful for cut blooms.

tinamotta: “via Pinterest. ”

Oh, how I would love to know the story behind these tureens.  Can you just imagine the marvelous concoctions they have held throughout the years and the beautiful tables they have graced?

Monogrammed French Linens

Wouldn’t it be amazing to talk with the talented soul who created these breathtaking stitches?

 

I can tell you all about this lovely piece which was stitched in needlepoint by my lifelong friend, Janet.  It hangs above our front door.  Every morning when I come downstairs, I see this treasure and say, “Good morning, Janet.” Being the sentimental person I am,  there have been arrangements made (for after we are gone) for this piece and all the others she has lovingly created for us.  Before this went to the framers, I wrote a letter about who Janet was, who we were, the meaning of the piece, and my wishes for it should it have the misfortune to be found in a shop such as where I found our Haviland.  The letter was placed inside of the back covering of the needlepoint.  

 

I love history. Everything is inspired by history, so that’s why I love vintage and antiques. ~ Kelly Wearstler

 

 

Dear friends, as you go about readying your home for the holidays, perhaps you will wonder about a few of your treasures.  Often, when we take a second look, we realize how lovely and “still warm with life”  our precious gems are.

Wishing you a beautiful day and week ahead.

And. . .

May your path be full of happy moments and kind souls.

Stay well!

“Beauty in things exists in the mind which contemplates them.” ~ David Hume

 

Amour,

Sandra

 

 

 

Imges:  Tumblr and M. S. Lambiotte

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday Thoughts ~ Being Grateful

“November is the month to remind us to be Thankful for the many positive things happening in our life.”  ~ Unknown

 

Good Sunday morning, dear friends.  I hope this finds you well and enjoying these beginning November days.  It has been quite chilly in our lovely ‘Mountain State.’  Jack Frost has paid us several visits and I believe brought many of his friends along to the party.

When our nights fall below freezing and we bring out the winter jackets, the realization of the approaching holidays become clear.  My mind begins to whirl with many things to do.  However, especially in November, I seem to focus on all the good in my life and how very grateful I am for everyone and everything I hold dear.  How fortunate I am to have been so richly blessed.  

“An attitude of gratitude is a never-ending prayer.”  ~ William Arthur Ward

When we hear of so many people in our world who are in distress, day after day, and do not have food for their table, I count my blessings when we have a simple dinner of soup and fresh bread.

Each of us will be grateful for different things, however, I believe we are all grateful for our family and friends, our homes, and our basic needs.  

savorytoothgirl: “ herby french shallot soup ”

And a cookie or two for dessert.

“…all which we behold Is full of blessings…” ~ William Wordsworth, 1798

One of the things I treasure most in my life is I had a mother who taught me how to see.   She wanted me to understand that beauty comes in many things ~ great and small.  The magnificence of nature and the talent of human hands.  Hands that are moved by hearts. 

I thought I would share a few of the things which are precious to me.  Perhaps, they are to you as well. 

Stillness and peace rank high on my list.  Working in a middle school office for thirty-plus years certainly gave me an appreciation of peace and quiet.

autumncozy: “By annakoryukova ”

There is beauty and peace in a cup of tea or coffee.  I am always grateful for the time to enjoy it.  Something to be savored.

 

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A few tiny blooms can create a magical space, especially on a rainy and chilly day.

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You most likely have read the bumper sticker that reads, “If you can read this thank a teacher.”  I would only add, “Be grateful to a teacher.”  Many times I have thought, “How fortunate I am that I can read.”  Truly, a gift that a dedicated teacher passed on to me many years ago.  The enjoyment it has given me is remarkable.  I wonder if she knew what her gift would mean to me?

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“The ideal of beauty is simplicity and tranquility.” ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

To me, the following three photos hold simplicity and stunning beauty.

thevisualvamp: “Flora ”

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“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.” ~ Vincent van Gogh

The person who created this statue truly has a “heart that moved hands.”  She has the most lovely face and looks so happy.  Unfortunately, I was unable to locate any information on her.

seasonsofwinterberry: “Tony DeFreitas ~ “Cape Cottage Amongst Trees” ”“Cape Cottage Amongst Trees” ~ Artist, Tony DeFreitas

Art speaks to each of us differently.  While I may not want to bring home every piece I enjoy, that does not mean I do not have a great appreciation for the talent and the work.

“Hem your blessings with thankfulness so they don’t unravel.” ~ Unknown

 

Dear friends, I hope you have enjoyed your visit. 

Enjoy these November days, take time to collect your thoughts,  focus on the things important to you and to those you love.  

And. . .

Most of all, look around and say, “Thank you.”

Know I wish you and yours a beautiful day.  May your blessings abound.

Be Well! 

 

“Look closely. The beautiful may be small.” ~ Immanuel Kant

 

Amour,

Sandra

 

 

 

Images:  Via Tumblr

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday Thoughts ~ Welcome, November !

“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 kettle sings,

And earth sinks to rest

Until next Spring.” ~ Clyde Watson

 

Good Sunday morning, everyone.  Our beautiful and brilliant October is leaving us but, we welcome frosty and lovely November.  I sometimes have a hard time knowing what to think of November ~ not autumn and not exactly winter.  Rather like a middle child that can often be a bit moody ~ happy in the morning and out of sorts by evening ~ or the other way around.  

However, November brings its’ own beauty and joy.  Often the first snow arrives in November,  we bake and cook a wide range of tasty deliciousness, and most of all we gather around a lovely table and give thanks.  And then, usher in another dazzling holiday season.

“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” ~ G. K. Chesterton

 

“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

“In November, the trees are standing all sticks and bones. Without their leaves, how lovely they are, spreading their arms like dancers. They know it is time to be still.” ~ Cynthia Rylant

“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

 

November, by William Cullen Bryant

 

Yet one smile more, departing, distant sun!

One mellow smile through the soft vapoury air,

Ere, o’er the frozen earth, the loud winds run,

Or snows are sifted o’er the meadows bare.

One smile on the brown hills and naked trees,

And the dark rocks whose summer wreaths are cast,

And the blue gentian-flower, that, in the breeze,

Nods lonely, of her beauteous race the last.

Yet a few sunny days, in which the bee

Shall murmur by the hedge that skirts the way,

The cricket chirp upon the russet-lea,

And man delight to linger in the ray.

Yet one rich smile, and we will try to bear

The piercing winter frost, and winds, and darkened air.

 

Dear friends, thank you so much for your visit.  Know I wish you and yours a beautiful and peaceful day.

And. . .

A magnificently gorgeous November, full of love and joy!

 

P. S. ~ Wonderful things are coming !  

 

 

 

“November is that interesting transition from cozy fall to brisk winter. The leaves on the trees have fallen off, the sky stays an abrupt shade of grey and Christmas decorations begin to appear. How strange it is that time passes so quickly.” ~ unknown

Amour,

Sandra

 

 

 

Images: Tumblr and Pinterest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘At Table’ ~ Is Back, Finally !

“It is around the table that family and friends understand best, the warmth of being together.” ~ unknown
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Food, like a loving touch or a glimpse of divine power, has that ability to comfort.” ~ Norman Kolpas
Good morning, dear friends.  Please don’t faint, you are actually seeing my ‘At Table’ on your screen.  It has been way too long since my last post.  However, life takes over now and again.  Anyway,  I do hope you will enjoy it.  So, find your coffee or tea and follow me to my kitchen where we will find some deliciousness. 
In a Sunday post a few weeks ago, I mentioned soup.  Since it has certainly become soup weather, therefore, the first recipe is for Corn Chowder.  Corn Chowder is a favorite in our home, I hope you will enjoy it also.
Corn Chowder
Ingredients
2 Tbls. butter
3 slices of bacon, cooked until crispy
1 medium to large onion, chopped
3 green onions, chop the bulbs and green tops, keep them separated
2 ribs of celery, chopped and 2-3 leaves if you have them
3 nice size potatoes, peeled and chopped (I prefer Yukon Gold)
1 ~ 15 ounce can of creamed corn
1 ~ 15 ounce can of whole corn, drained
2 cups of frozen whole corn, thawed ~ white or yellow
1 ~ 32 ounce box of chicken broth or homemade if you have it.  Possibly an extra can of broth, if needed.
1 tsp. salt – 1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 cup of heavy cream or half and half
Sour cream for serving – optional
Toasted French bread for serving – optional
In a large dutch oven add bacon and cook until crispy (I slice my bacon into small strips before cooking). Once the bacon is crispy, remove cooked bacon from the pan and all the grease except for about 2 Tbls.  Then add butter and let it melt.  To the butter, add chopped onion and the chopped bulbs of green onions, and celery.  Cover, place on medium heat and cook until tender.  Do not let them become brown.  Next, add chicken broth, potatoes, and salt and pepper.  Cover and crack the lid slightly.  Simmer on medium to low heat until potatoes are nice and tender.  Once this has cooked down slightly and all the vegetables are really tender, add all the corn and simmer for 10-15 minutes.  At this point, if you feel you need more broth, add it here.  Then, add cream or half and half.  You can use milk, but the soup won’t be as creamy.  Ladle soup into bowls and add a dollop of sour cream, crumbled bacon, and chopped green onion tops. Serve with croutons or toasted French bread.
This is a wonderful meal for the busy upcoming season and perfect for a chilly evening.

“As the days grow short, some faces grow long. But not mine. Every autumn, when the wind turns cold and darkness comes early, I am suddenly happy. It’s time to start making soup again.” ~ Leslie Newman

“If the divine creator has taken pains to give us delicious and exquisite things to eat, the least we can do is prepare them well and serve them with ceremony.” ~ Fernand Point

My roast chicken has developed into its own through the years.  Yours probably has also.  My recipe consists of a bit of this recipe and a little of another and an important item from still another.  But, it is truly delicious.  It is promised to bring you rave reviews and is also excellent leftovers (if there are any.)

Roast Chicken

1 – 3-4 pound chicken, patted dry.  You want a nice fat chicken with plump legs.

3 lemons washed and cut in half.  These will go in the cavity of the chicken, should you have lemons remaining, cut them and place them around the chicken.

2 tsp. coarse salt

2 sprigs of fresh rosemary and thyme

1 stick of butter, softened at room temperature

4 nice carrots, cut into small pieces

3-4 small potatoes, cut in half

1 medium onion, cut in quarters

2 nice leeks, cut into small pieces

2 stalks of celery, cut into small pieces 

2 nice parsnips, cut into small pieces 

Preheat oven to 450. Sprinkle inside of the chicken with salt.  Place lemon halves, rosemary, and thyme inside of the chicken cavity.   Next, gently lift the skin at the breast of the chicken, being careful not to tear the skin, and rub the breast with butter.  Then, rub the outside of the chicken all over with butter – lots of it.  Tie chicken legs together and bend the wings under the chicken.  Place your vegetables on the bottom of your roaster, add chicken on top.  Roast until juices run clear and a meat thermometer inserted in the thickest portion of the chicken registers 170 degrees – 45 minutes to an hour.  

Remove the chicken from the oven, and baste with butter and pan juices for 5-6 minutes.  Transfer to a carving board and let rest for 10 minutes before cutting.  Cut and serve immediately.

Note:  You may use any vegetables that you like, just be sure to cut them all about the same size so that they will cook evenly.  You can also, simply roast the chicken with the lemons, rosemary, and thyme in the cavity and serve it with rice, noodles, mashed potatoes, or sweet potatoes. 

“How can you govern a country which has 246 varieties of cheese?” ~ Charles de Gaulle

Brie en Croûte
1~9-inch wheel of Brie
9 thin slices of prosciutto
1 ~ 14-ounce package of puff pastry
1 large egg
1 Tbls. water
Apricot preserves
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Wrap Brie in prosciutto.  On a lightly floured surface, roll puff pastry to a 10-inch circle.  Place wrapped in the middle of the circle, and fold edges in neatly.  In a small bowl, beat the egg and 1 Tbls. water.  Brush pastry with the egg wash.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes.  Brush with egg wash again, and refrigerate for 30 minutes more.  Preheat oven to 425.  Using a sharp knife cut a crosshatch pattern in pastry, but don’t cut through the pastry.  Bake until puffed and golden brown ~ about 20/25 minutes.  Served with warm apricot preserves and a sliced baguette, if desired.

Note:  This is a perfect recipe to prepare and serve as family and friends gather or for an L’apéro.  Should you be wondering what L’apéro means here is your answer.  L’apéro: it’s not a happy hour, not a dinner, not a barbecue.   L’apéro is the part of the day when the French stop doing what they’re doing and convene for a drink and nibbles on small plates. It’s around the time of day when shadows get longer and the sun starts to set.

“When we no longer have good cooking in the world, we will have no literature, nor high and sharp intelligence, nor friendly gatherings, no social harmony.” ~ Marie-Antoine Careme

Ina Garten’s Summer Garden Pasta

daily-deliciousness: “Creamy pasta with roasted cherry tomatoes ”

This recipe is a favorite and one I have been making for years.  It is wonderful to make in the summer, especially when you have an overabundance of cherry tomatoes but, it can be made any time of year.  The original recipe calls for angel hair pasta, but any pasta is grand.  Other than being delicious, another thing I love about this recipe is you can do part of it in the morning or mid-day and finish when you are ready to begin dinner.

Ingredients

4 pints cherry tomatoes, halved ( I use 3)

Good olive oil – 1/2 cup

2 Tbls. minced garlic, about 6 cloves

18 large basil leaves, julienned and a little extra for serving

1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

pasta of choice, 1 lb. (We like linguini)

1 1/2 cups freshly grated parmesan cheese, extra for serving

Directions

Just before you’re ready to serve, bring a large pot of water with a splash of olive oil and 1 tsp. salt to a boil and add the pasta. Cook al dente according to the directions on the package (be careful – it only takes a few minutes!). Drain the pasta well (save a good cup of pasta water in case it is needed) and add to the bowl with the cherry tomatoes. Add the cheese and some extra fresh basil leaves and toss well. Serve in big bowls with extra cheese on each serving.

“The biggest challenge of being a pastry chef is that, unlike other types of chefs, you can’t throw things together at a farmer’s market. When you’re working with baking powder and a formula, you have to be exact. If not, things can go wrong.” ~ Carla Hall

While I do not claim in any way to be a pastry chef, I do love pretty pastries, especially ones that are completely irresistible.  I also enjoy baking them.  Therefore, I thought I would send you a couple of different pastries and hope you will give them a try.  Many may think a Madeleine is a French cookie.  Not true.  They are French but they are a tiny and very pretty cake.  They are absolutely delightful to serve with tea or a good cup of coffee.  A tray of them at a lovely tea party could not be more special.  Such things, whether for your family or for guests, convey love. 
The following recipes are easy and delicious.  Closer to the holidays, I will send a recipe for gingerbread Madeleines.  They are exquisite and make your home smell like all the wonderful scents of Christmas. 
A special note, you will need a Madeleine pan.  They are readily available through Amazon and also King Arthur Flour.
Vanilla Madeleines With Cardamom Sugar
Ingredients
3 extra-large eggs
2/3 cup of granulated sugar
1 tsp. good vanilla pure extract
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 1/2 tsp. cardamom
Preheat oven to 375.  Grease 2 non-stick Madeleine pans. In a large bowl beat eggs, granulated sugar, and vanilla at medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Beat in butter.  In another bowl sift together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt.  Stir flour mixture into batter with a rubber spatula.  Spoon batter into prepared pans, filling each shell almost full.  Bake until Madeleine’s spring back when pressed – 10-12 minutes.  Tap Madeleines out onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  In a small bowl, sift together confectioners sugar and cardamom to remove any lumps.  Sift over warm Madeleines.  These are so scrumptious served when warm with a lovely beverage of your choice. 
Note:  This recipe is from “French Cooking and Baking, Too!” Dated, January 2018.  I have made this recipe often and it always turns out perfect.  The magazine is a Hoffman Media publication, however, it is not available in their store and is unavailable through Amazon.  Perhaps, if you keep your eyes open you may stumble upon it. 
“The French approach to food is characteristic:  They bring to their consideration of the table the same appreciation, respect, intelligence and lively interest that they have for the other arts, for painting, for literature, and for the theatre.” ~ Alice B. Toklas
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I saved one of the best recipes for last ~ cannelés (also spelled canelés).  Should you not be familiar with canelés, these decadent little treasures originated in the Bordeaux region of France, where they remain a regional pride.  And as they should, because they are outstanding.  Perfection in a bite, as I call them,  is a delicious treat to accompany tea or coffee or to enjoy as a dessert.  When it comes to pastry, you cannot get more “classic French” than a cannelé.  Seldom found outside of France, therefore, making these little gems is a skill fallen to the hands of home cooks.  These scrumptious little bites have a soft and tender custard center with a dark and thick caramelized crust.  They do, however, require a special mold. 
Like madeleine pans, cannelé molds and pans are readily available through Amazon and are not expensive.  When I first began making them, I ordered Silicone molds as that was what was available at the time.  After using them, I have realized I am not a real fan of silicone.  Therefore, I am considering ordering a heavier pan, currently available through Amazon and also not expensive.  However, if you consider purchasing the copper molds, I would suggest being certain you enjoy cannelés and making them, as the copper molds are pricey.

CANELÉS RECIPE (CANNELÉS BORDELAIS) ~ A Bordeaux Speciality

Ingredients

2 cups plus  2 Tbls. milk

1 Tbls. pure vanilla extract

2 whole eggs

1 egg yolk

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup plus 2 Tbls. sugar

1/2 cup rum plus 2 Tbls.

 

Instructions

 ~ Combine the milk and vanilla extract; temporarily set aside.

 ~ To a large bowl, add the eggs and egg yolk, then whisk until the yolks are broken up. Pour in the milk and vanilla mixture, then whisk again until combined.

 ~ Add the all-purpose flour and sugar, whisking until smooth and lump-free.

 ~ Add the rum and whisk again to combine. Refrigerate the batter for at least 12 hours, or overnight if possible. ( I have always refrigerated mine overnight)

 ~ The next day, preheat the oven to 440°F. If using a silicone canelé pan, place the pan on a wire, oven-safe rack (this will make transferring the pan to the oven easier). Give the batter a whisk, then use a small ladle to fill the molds with enough batter to almost reach the top of the molds.

 ~ Bake the canelés at 440°F for 20 minutes. Then reduce the heat to 300°F and bake for another 30 minutes. Finally, increase the heat to 430°F and bake for 5 minutes.

~ Remove the pan from the oven and let the canelés cool in the pan for 30 minutes. Gently pop the canelés out of their molds and serve

Dear friends, I thank you so much for visiting and for your patience with me.  As I said earlier, “It has been far too long since I have prepared ‘At Table.’  I do love and enjoy writing these posts.   In reviewing my recipes, I always want to provide you with recipes we have enjoyed at Maison de Jardin as well as ones that are not stressful.  To me, there is a difference between a recipe with several steps and one that has enormous preparation, ingredients, and expensive cooking/baking vessels. 
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That said, I promise you will not wait so long until the next ‘At Table.’  I will also try and decide on a chef to feature. Talented chefs and fabulous recipes are like words on a t-shirt my friend had, “So many books, so little time.”  True on chefs, recipes, and books.
So, until we meet again.  I wish you happy kitchen memories and beautiful autumn days.

Bon Appétit,

Sandra

“Gastronomy is and always has been connected with its sister art of love.” ~ M. F. K. Fisher

Note:  Remember, should you have any questions regarding any of the recipes, don’t hesitate to ask.
Images:  Tumblr and Pinterest

Sunday Thoughts ~ Golden Moments

“It was one of those perfect fall days when the air is cool enough to wake you up, but the sun is also kissing your face.” ~ Anita Diamant, “The Boston Girl”

Good Sunday morning, sweet friends.  I hope this morning finds you well, enjoying a lovely coffee and perhaps, doing a little dreaming.  I am guilty, totally guilty of dreaming.

When the days arrive with the least bit of chill, that is my signal to find my coffee, a quiet spot, and begin dreaming.  Do you do such things?  I hope so.  I begin to think of the upcoming holidays, recipes to prepare, decorations, how to maintain calm in our home, and simply enjoy the beauty of the season. As the years have passed, they have taught me the magic of ‘Simplicity,’ and how it makes each day more special, especially during the holiday season.

“The days are getting colder; have a warm heart.” ~ unknown

By emilia.lifestyle

Speaking of recipes, you may want to check your recipes for certain ingredients.  In our area, one of our larger markets had empty shelves this week.  I have a fudge recipe that requires a large Hershey bar (8 oz.).  Mike found it at another market.  I don’t know if we will see a shortage of items again, but if there are certain things your family enjoys, it may be a good idea to think ahead.  This time of year, a list is my best friend.  Perhaps, yours also?

“There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate’s loot on Treasure Island.” ~ Walt Disney

By thehuntforit

Autumn dreaming is also about curling up with an old friend or a new one. Books are such good friends. For many years, when I worked outside our home, my reading time was limited to a brief few minutes before beginning my day. Sometimes life takes over, but since I have retired, my hours spent reading have brought me immense pleasure.

My latest found treasure is “Before We Were Yours,” by Lisa Wingate.  What a book!  It is a true story, taking place from 1939~1950, and is about the Tennessee Children’s Home Society which was based in Memphis, Tennessee.  To me, the book is a mixture of horrors ~ children stolen, sold, and those who disappeared and were never heard from again.  As well as, a mystery of years to unravel, adventure, extortion, and a beautiful love story.  It is astonishing to realize such happenings actually occurred, and not so many years ago.  Although, the book had a lovely ending I was not at all ready for it to end.  However, it is certainly a book I will read again.

Dear friends, I do hope you have enjoyed your visit.  If my upcoming days go somewhat as planned, I will see you again this week.   However, as we all know, the best-laid plans can sometimes go under. So, until we meet again, know. . .

 

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

And. . .

May your days be sweet, full of kind souls and lovely dreams.  Stay well!

 

” I like autumn. The drama of it; the golden lion roaring through the back door of the year, shaking its mane of leaves.” ~ Joanne Harris

Amour,

Sandra

 

 

 

Images: ~ Via Tumblr and Pinterest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beautiful Words Of A Talented Soul!

“Let me keep my mind on what matters…which is mostly standing still and learning to be astonished.” ~ Mary Oliver

Good Sunday morning, dear friends.  I do hope this finds you captivated by marvelous October days.  These golden days are wondrous days to savor ~ days to tuck away in our hearts for safekeeping.  Beautiful images to uncover on a frigid January morning. 

We finally received our much-needed rain.  I actually heard the flowers drinking and singing for joy as they enjoyed their tasty drink and gave thanks for the autumn temperatures.  

My thoughts today are on the writings of Mary Oliver, of which I am a fan.    For me, in our chaotic world, she is an amazing wonder.  She offers hope, inspiration, and encourages me to pause and think.  Perhaps, she will do the same for you.

There was no information on this photo.  However, I can tell you it looks just like the mountains of Pendleton County, West Virginia.  So, should you ever find yourself close to Franklin, West Virginia on Route 33 East in the George Washington National Forest, be sure to take your time, you will be astonished.

 

“Why I Wake Early” ~ by, Mary Oliver

Hello, sun in my face.
Hello, you who make 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 crotchety–

best preacher that ever was,
dear star, that just happens
to be where you are in the universe
to keep us from ever-darkness,
to ease us with warm touching,
to hold us in the great hands of light–
good morning, good morning, good morning.

Watch, now, how I start the day
in happiness, in kindness.

Mary Oliver clearly understood beauty.  Many times over, her lovely words have encouraged us to open our eyes and pay attention to our surroundings.  She doesn’t want us to miss a single leaf, flower, sweet critter, or a drop of dazzling beauty. 

“Every day I see or hear something that more or less kills me with delight, that leaves me like a needle in the haystack of light. It was what I was born for ~ to look, to listen, to lose myself inside this soft world ~ to instruct myself over and over in joy, and acclamation. . . excerpt from “Mindful” by, Mary Oliver

alrauna: “Beth Sladden (@adventuringbeth) ”

Sometimes I need only to stand wherever I am to be blessed. ~ Mary Oliver

“Why do people keep asking to see God’s identity papers when the darkness opening into morning is more than enough?” ~ Mary Oliver

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“To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work.” ~ Mary Oliver

 

Dear friends, I do hope you have found Oliver’s words uplifting and inspiring.  When we pay attention we are so much more appreciative of all the beautiful tiny details in our world.  In turn, we are kinder people.

Mary Oliver left us in 2019.  I am thankful she did not live to see many of the recent happenings in our world as I feel she would be deeply distraught.

 

Know I wish you and yours a beautiful day.

And . . .

May all your moments be inspirational.  Stay well!

 

Poetry is a river; many voices travel in it; poem after poem moves along in the exciting crests and falls of the river waves. None is timeless, each arrives in a historical context; almost everything, in the end, passes. But the desire to make a poem, and the world’s willingness to receive it ~ indeed the world’s need of it ~ these never pass.” ~ Mary Oliver

 

Amour,

Sandra

 

 

 

Images: via Tumblr and Pinterest

 

 

Lessons From The Garden!

“Flowers respond to something in the gardener’s face ~ Some secret in the heart, some special grace.” ~ E. B. White, “To my American Gardener, with Love”

American Beauty Dahlia ~ American Beauty

Good morning, sweet friends.  I hope this finds you enjoying these autumn days.  We have had lovely weather, although we are in desperate need of rain.  The past few autumn seasons have been dry, resulting in less than our normal magnificent fall foliage.   Our trees are golden, but the vibrant red and orange still have not arrived.  Anyway, I will not bore you with our weather details.

As the autumn season is now with us and it is once again time to put the garden to bed, I want to share a piece from a book that I treasure.   The title of the book is, A Garden’s Grace (see note at the end of the post) and it was written by Nancy Hutchens, published in 1997.  As a child, Ms. Hutchens spent many days with her grandmother, Mamaw Tribby.  Mamaw Tribby lived on a farm in the mid-west and was quite a gardener.  Together, they enjoyed gathering fruits and vegetables, pulling weeds, planting flowers and trees, doing things gardeners do. 

Yes, Mamaw Tribby taught her granddaughter valuable gardening lessons.  And, little did I know that when I picked up this treasured book, Hutchens and Mamaw Tribby would teach me as well.

Last night, there came a frost, which has done great damage to my garden. . . It is sad that Nature will play such tricks with us poor mortals, inviting us with sunny smiles to confide in her, and then, when we are entirely within her power, striking us to the heart. ~ Nathaniel Hawthorne

The following are the words of Nancy Hutchens ~ When I was a girl it was my job to rake leaves in the fall, just about the time school started, bringing with it activities much more interesting than leaf raking.  I postponed the chore time and again ~ until it was too late.  Big, dry flashes of snow started falling early in November one year and didn’t stop until over a foot had accumulated.  This severe weather continued every weekend throughout the autumn.  All winter I looked out on a yard encrusted with caked and soggy leaves caused by my procrastination.

Mamaw Tribby said this experience should teach me one of the most important lessons a gardener can learn ~ nature waits for no one.  We think we can control her, but all we can do is follow her lead.   As we puttered in her flower beds, she’d say, “People are in awe of nature when they first start gardening and follow all the rules.  The trouble starts when they get cocky and think they can do things at their own convenience.”

I hope you have enjoyed a bit of wisdom from A Garden’s Grace.  Perhaps you have received a gentle nudge to make sure your garden is tucked in for her winter’s nap, a nudge not to let your ‘leaves get soggy.’ And a nudge not forget to gather lovely little things to use in preparing your gifts from the heart (the holidays are approaching).  In thinking of ‘gifts from the heart,’ I find Mamaw Tribby’s words so touching and I hope you will too. Gifts tied with silver ribbon, son are prized the whole world over.  But, through the years, I remember the scent of fragrant, crumbled clover.”

 

“Did I take time out to laugh, to love, to think, to see, to pray”  These are the thoughts that cross my mind at the closing of the day.” ~ Mamaw Tribby

 

 

 

 

Dear friends, know I wish you and yours a beautiful day. 

And. . .

May the week ahead bring you joy.  Stay well!

 

Amour,

Sandra

 

 

 

Note:  Should you be so fortunate to find a copy of “A Garden’s Grace,”  by all means, grab the book.  Especially if you are interested in gardening.  It is not only a delightful read, it is full of worthy seasonal gardening information.

Images:  Via Tumblr, Pinterest, and Swan Island Dahlias

 

 

 

What or Who Inspires You?

“Let us see the beauty every day.  And source our lives from its presence.” ~ Oriah

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Good Sunday morning, dear friends.  I hope golden October has greeted you kindly.  It has been glorious in our area.  Truly, a gift from above to look across the ‘hills’ and see glimpses of gold scattered amongst the green and red.   The beauty is awe-inspiring.  

Nature, dressed in her finest wardrobe,  certainly does provide marvelous inspiration for our hearts and souls.  However, Mother Nature is not the only source of wondrous inspiration.  For me, I also find beauty and inspiration in the words, art, and music of brilliant and talented souls.  It is inspirational to learn a new way of doing something ordinary.  In other words, turning the ordinary into extraordinary.  And, here is my big one, “Learning from others.”  We all learn in different ways and from different sources.   Indeed, it is amazing to pause and reflect on what we learn from others.  Words, phrases, and ideas we want to write down and treasure forever.  Because everyone has their own special gifts and we often remember talented people who have crossed our path through these gifts.  So, what or who inspires or “uplifts the spirit within you?”  Please share. 

“And the fruits will outdo what the flowers have promised.” ~ François de Malherbe

Can one really compete with Mother Nature?  I don’t think so.  Especially, when you think of a pretty tree in the spring, dressed in lovely pink blossoms, and in the fall the same tree bears beautiful and tasty fruit.   All these stages are divine.  Created for our enjoyment of beauty and flavor, and to help sustain wildlife.

“I’ll get an inspiration and start painting; then I’ll forget everything, everything except how things used to be and how to paint it so people will know how we used to live.” ~ Grandma Moses

Female Artists in History - Grandma Moses (American painter) 1860 - 19611 Making Apple Butter, 1958 oil on cardboard 30.5 x 40.6 cm.(12 x 16 in.) signed Moses. (lower left); titled Making “Making Apple Butter,” 1958, Grandma Moses (Anna Mary Robertson Moses)

I am not an art critic by any means.  However, I do believe Grandma Moses was successful in conveying how people once lived through her art.  Just as a point of interest, an organization Mike belongs to continues to make apple butter every year, in copper kettles, the old-fashioned way (around 700 gallons per year).  

 

“It is good to love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is well done.” ~ Vincent Van Gogh

matialonsorphoto: “ lavender days by matialonsor ”

There are many things I love and enjoy doing, however, gardening is at the top of the list.  New inspiration greets me every day.

“Inspiration is the greatest gift because it opens your life to many new possibilities. Each day becomes more meaningful, and your life is enhanced when your actions are guided by what inspires you.” ~ Bernie Siegel

loftyangel: “y.305.ah ”

 

Learning to cook something new or in a different way can open your eyes to a new world and bring you great joy in doing something wonderful for your family.  Just this summer, Mike gifted me with a culinary torch.  I had always been tempted by one but was a wee bit intimidated to give it a try.  The gift inspired me to try a variety of new culinary delights.  He was ‘most’ happy with his purchase.

“Try to be inspired by something every day. Try to inspire at least one person every day.” ~ Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi 

Dear friends, I hope you have enjoyed your visit and received a bit of inspiration.  Inspiration can make all the difference in our lives and the lives of those we love.  As well as our friends and acquaintances.

 

Know I wish you and yours a beautiful day.

And, as you walk along your path this week. . .

Remember, you are unique and special.  Therefore, you have special gifts to share which may inspire others.

Be well!

 

“There are little gems all around us that hold glimmers of inspiration.” ~ Richelle Mead

 

Amour,

Sandra

 

 

 

 

 

 

Images:  via Tumblr

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday Thoughts ~ “Sweet and Simple Things”

“It is a delightful pastime to sit in the pleasant sunshine of autumn, and gazing from this little spot of free earth over such a landscape, let the imagination luxuriate amid the thrilling associations of the scene!” ~ H.T. Tuckerman

virtuallyinsane-autumn: “ Mahir Uysal ”

During these glorious days of autumn, it is truly a gift to relish in the magnificent beauty that has been bestowed on us from above.  On this lovely autumn morning, I hope you will enjoy your visit and perhaps find inspiration to savor the “sweet and simple things.” 

“Besides the autumn poets sing, A few prosaic days.  A little this side of the snow, And that side of the haze…” ~ Emily Dickinson

Exquisite beauty is at absolutely every turn during autumn.  Actually, it is during every season, but in autumn it speaks a little louder.  Like a pretty girl wanting everyone to notice her new dress.

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By mozaika_le_do

To me, one of the sweetest things about autumn is a little change in cooking.  Such as homemade soup.  Somehow soup isn’t as special when it is ninety degrees.  Oh, but when the weather cools ever so slightly ~ Soups On!  We enjoy soup and of course, have many favorites (I’ll be sending recipes with my next “At Table),  In the meantime, two of our favorites are Cream of Broccoli Soup and Corn Chowder.  Both, promise smiles and second requests.

 

“Chowder breathes reassurance. It steams consolation.” ~ Clementine Paddleford

“Buying a book is not about obtaining a possession, but about securing a portal.” ~ Laura Miller

I love to read anytime, but on a cool autumn day ~ it is perfect bliss.  Especially with the windows open, a pot of soup on the stove, and a cup of tea by my side.  Two wonderful books I recently enjoyed are, The Butterfly and the Violin and The Sparrow in Terezin.  Both are by Kristy Cambron.  A note, if you read these books, read “The Butterfly and the Violin” first.

In closing, I hope this finds you well and enjoying all the gorgeousness of autumn. Making memories doing ‘little things’ you love. 

Know, I wish you and yours a beautiful day.

And. . . 

“May the joy of the simple things, color the canvas of your soul.” ~ Mary Davis

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Remember, your visits are tiny ribbons of love I tie around my heart.  Be well, dear friends!

 

Amour,

Sandra

 

 

 

 

 

Images: Tumblr and Pinterest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

September ~ “Summer Is Smoldering”

“Anyway it will be autumn tomorrow or the next day;  I can smell it in the air ~ summer smoldering.” ~ J. L. Carr, A Month in the Country

drjasonmitchell: “Stay classy. ”

Good Sunday morning, dear friends.  Yes, “summer is smoldering.”  Autumn will officially arrive this week,  and we will soon bask in all her wondrous glory.  I will welcome her with open arms, as I imagine most of you will too. 

There has been extensive writing about autumn from many of our great literary minds.  Therefore, I will leave most of the writing to them and share with you their lovely thoughts.  Jane Austen describes it best, Autumn ~ that season of peculiar and inexhaustible influence on the mind of taste and tenderness ~ that season which has drawn from every poet worthy of being read some attempt at description, or some lines of feeling.” 

 

“There was a certain fragrance to the shift in seasons.  When summer still clung tight to the soil, but winter begged to differ.  It was a mixture that created such vivid colors on the mountainside, as the leaves turned over their last breath to the changing weather.” ~ A. M. Johnson

Have you noticed a difference in the fragrance of the air where you live?  It is certainly different here.  With the weather still quite warm, I love to open the windows early in the morning and feast my eyes on the sights and drink the marvelous smells of the approaching autumn. 

hellocoraco: ““Let your life lightly dance on the edges of Time like dew on the tip of a leaf.” — Rabindranath Tagore ”

“There was a little smell in the air of mist and damp, the smell that comes with the first fall of the leaf.” ~ Daphne du Maurier

 

“You will find the blue hills with the autumnal shadows silently sleeping on them, and there will be a glory lingering round the day, so you’ll know autumn has been here.” ~ Emily Dickinson, from a letter to Austin Dickinson c. November 1851

thevoyaging: “ Sunset Cottage, Llansilin, Wales photo via elizabeth ”

The light does fall ever so softly in autumn.  It creates lovely shadows, to dress homes and buildings, giving them such added charm.   

“I love the simplicity of fall.  A piping cup of tea.  The feeling of cool air on my cheeks.  Life can become complicated, but fall?  Fall never disappoints.” ~ Unknown

 

Food Recipes :) : Photo

To that, I will add a hearty bowl of soup. . .

By cosyfoodphoto

Or, a gorgeous array of autumn’s bounty.

 

“Two sounds of autumn are unmistakable. . .the hurrying rustle of crisp leaves blown along the street. . .by a gusty wind, and the gabble of a flock of  migrating geese.” ~ Hal Borland

Mr. Borland was most definitely correct in his reference to the geese.  Our home in Virginia was one mile from Back Bay and the sounds of the geese were a daily enjoyment for us.  Especially, when they would gather together and chatter about their long trip home.  They always knew their way.  As many times as I enjoyed them, I never failed to be in awe of their beauty and to me, their special song.

 

Dear friends, please know how much I appreciate your visit and I hope you have found a few lovely words or an image to tuck away in your heart.  Perhaps you will remember the words or image on September 22 ~ the first day of autumn, 2021.

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

I ❤️ Autumn!

“And the sun took a step back, the leaves lulled themselves to sleep, and autumn was awakened.” ~ Raquel Franco

 

Amour,

Sandra

 

 

Images:  Tumblr and Pinterest