Monday, October 10, 2016

October. The Simple Woman's Daybook

Photo by Cecil Vedemil /

It's been a few months since I wrote a post for The Simple Woman's Daybook. But I feel the tug to create something for October.

It's been busy since I last posted, what with working in the garden with hubby, and also helping my mom following her knee surgery, so I was a little surprised when I looked around one morning to find Autumn deftly ensconced in our corner of the world. I thought, oh lovely, with all the colours so handsomely vibrant there will be a splendid backdrop for our Canadian Thanksgiving this weekend. It hasn't turned out quite that way as you will see when you read further.

So, here it is ... I hope you enjoy October's edition of The Simple Woman's Daybook. And a very happy Thanksgiving to all my Canadian family and friends.

Hugs to you all,

For Today...

Outside my window... I love to gaze out my kitchen window and I was doing just that the other evening. Although it had been a sunny day, it was one of our much cooler days -- with temperatures hovering near freezing throughout the day. Yikes! That felt much too early.

With the evening shadows lengthening, the kids from the house behind us were out in their backyard. Wrapped in heavier jackets and knitted toques, it seemed they were outside to enjoy one final great trampoline jump before the season changed. I watched, mesmerized, as toque-donned heads bounced up and down. They were making the most of this last hurrah!

While I was at it, I thought I should take a couple of smartphone photos to capture the vibrant carpet of leaves under the trees and shrubs in my garden, before they all get blown away or dusted in frost.


I am thinking... how much fun it is to have a day to just play. After making turkey soup, I'm free to sit here at my computer and think ... to dream up something from my heart to share with you in this post.

I am thankful... for turkey dinners and pumpkin pie. I am thankful for good health and vitality. I am thankful for my dear mom who is now recovering and gaining strength after her knee surgery. I am thankful for my husband who is one of the kindest men I know. I am thankful for my wonderful family and my lovely set of friends who make the journey through life bearable, enjoyable, and so worth it.

I am wearing... a floral summer dress -- it's loose and comfortable to work in as I chop onions, carrots, zucchini for the homemade turkey soup we're simmering using yesterday's carcass.

I am creating...
very little these days in writing or artsy projects. Busy with needful work around the house and yard. Visiting my mom. Then hibernating inside the comforting covers of books by authors who share gentle messages of hope and beauty. Authors like Alexander McCall Smith in his No. 1 Ladies' Detective series with the kind detective, Mme Ratmotswe; Jan Karon in her Mitford series; Lucy Dillon in her British romance and life stories; Susan Branch in her 'heart of the home' books.

I am going...
this week to stay with my mom for a week or two as she convalesces following her surgery. I look forward to spending this time with her, to be chief cook and entertainment committee, not to mention fetcher and carrier of items that add comfort to the patient. We might read stories aloud. Or play scrabble when brains feel up to it. Maybe watch some old movies together. Fortunately, Mom and I share our love of twinkle lights, so we'll be cozying up her place when we get settled this week.

I am wondering... if I could squeeze hubby into my little suitcase, as I'm going to miss him dreadfully while I'm away.


I am reading... Oh my, these past few weeks I've read more novels than I have in ages. They were my down-time pleasures after busy days. A friend on Facebook recommended a new-to-me British author, Lucy Dillon, and her book A Hundred Pieces of Me. I fell in love from the first paragraph.

Here is a description:
"Reeling from her recent divorce, Gina Bellamy suddenly finds herself figuring out how to live on her own. Determined to make a fresh start—with her beloved rescue greyhound by her side—Gina knows drastic measures are in order.

First up: throwing away all her possessions except for the one hundred things that mean the most to her. But what items are worth saving? Letters from the only man she’s ever loved? A keepsake of the father she never knew? Or a blue glass vase that perfectly captures the light?

As she lets go of the past, Gina begins to come to terms with what has happened in her life and discovers that seizing the day is sometimes the only thing to do. And when one decides to do just that...magic happens."  ~ from, Product Description

I love Ms. Dillon's writing for more than one reason:
  1. She's British, and her books are filled with little descriptions that remind me of our recent trip to England, i.e., the landscapes, the shops, the references to local cultural things like the Classic FM radio station which I started listening to when I got back from England;
  2. The beautiful dogs that are always an integral part of her stories, and though there are sad rescue cases of abandonment or neglect, these sweet dogs, thankfully, turn out not to be victims of cruel or horrid abuse (which I could not stand to read);
  3. Although the main characters go through hard situations, the author writes her stories in a more kindly and gentle way, so the reader can read without getting herself all tied up in knots with anxiety of what might pounce out on the next page or chapter;
  4. I love the way Ms. Dillon brings the threads of the various story lines together and loose ends are tied up in satisfactory ways. Her stories make me want to read everything she's written.

I am hoping... that dear hubby is making cold turkey sandwiches for lunch -- a little turkey, some stuffing, mayo, and cranberry sauce. I can hear the tea kettle, not to mention cups rattling in their saucers. Oh boy, oh boy.

I am learning... to take things one day, one moment, at a time. For grace comes to us moment by moment, just in time to help us through a given situation. I don't need to keep trying to figure it all out ahead, trying to wrestle the details into place, when Someone else holds the GPS for all my life moments. I'm learning to relax and enjoy the ride.

In my garden... After taking the photos of the leaves carpeting the garden, the very next morning it was all covered in soft, fluffy snow. Oh no! was my first response. I could see frost maybe, but not snow. Not yet. But even as I was lamenting, I couldn't help but notice how sweet that birdhouse looks with those tufts of snow on its roof.

In my kitchen... we made a small turkey dinner yesterday. The first time ever without family or friends around us to help celebrate. Although it was quiet, there was a companionable sweetness to it as hubby and I made our preparations and set the dining table with festive place settings for two. The turkey and stuffing, not to mention the homemade pumpkin pie, were all delicious.

A favorite quote for today... "Beauty was not simply something to behold; it was something one could do." ~ Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye

A peek into one of my days...
You might find me sitting by the fireplace on one of these cooler afternoons or evenings. The side lamp would be turned on so I could read, and the twinkle lights hanging across the dark lattice room divider, would be adding a certain glow to the dim corner.

One of my favorite things... The good gifts I have the privilege to enjoy today: clean sheets and pillowcases, hot water, leftover stuffing and gravy, lavender scented soap, and yes, I'm even going to say it out loud, toilet tissue. The comforts of every day life that most of us enjoy here in North America. I pray for blessings of good gifts to come to every person in this big old world.

From Pinterest board room... Isn't this photo below a lovely scene of autumn? Let's see, there is the gorgeous fall colour scheme, a comfy chair with a soft plaid blanket, a sweet kitty on the needlecraft pillow, a teacup and a book, all at the ready for a cozy afternoon. What more could a person ask for? NB. This photo was pinned from warrengrovegarden.


Post Script...
I'll be away from my blog while I'm at my mom's. Here's wishing you all a beautiful week and month ahead. Whether it be autumn leaves or wintry snowflakes ... it's all cozy when one is armed with tea and twinkle lights.


Wednesday, September 28, 2016

We Baked The Cake

My first attempt to bake Victoria Sponge cake

Well, I made it. As you know from my recent post I fell in love with Victoria Sponge during our visit to England this past July. And, if you recall, I found such a variety of recipes it was hard to decide which one to use for baking my own cake.

In the end, I decided to use the ingredients list from Mary Berry's cake recipe, except, I added 1 tsp vanilla to the batter (some recipes use vanilla; others do not). I followed the preparation instructions from a video I watched here; and for the filling I used raspberry jam and made a buttercream. To finish it off, I sprinkled caster sugar on top and surrounded the layer cake with fresh raspberries from my brother-in-law's garden.

It smelled delicious as it baked, all buttery and vanilla-y. When the cakes came out of the oven, I noticed the cakes weren't as high as the recipe pictures. That's when I realized I'd used the two 9" round pans I had in my kitchen; I should have used 7" or 8" pans, which I didn't have, but will soon purchase for next time. For, yes, there will definitely be a next time for this fine cake.

I baked the cake the day before my adult nephew's birthday dinner. It sliced beautifully -- moist and flavorful, but not crumbly. It tasted even better the following day for, yes, we had slices left over from the party. A sit down in the middle of the afternoon, with a sliver of a slice and a cup of tea -- oh yes, it fit the bill perfectly.

Come along inside...
We'll see if tea and (cakes) can make the world a better place.
~ Kenneth Grahame

Wishing you a beautiful day,

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Autumn, The Royal Mail, and Two Famous Favourites

Photographer: Elizabeth Pfeiffer /

 "In the village store someone says, 'I heard the geese go over,'
and there is a moment of silence.
Why this is so moving, I do not know. But we all feel it."
~ Gladys Taber

It's such a beautiful morning. Although the sun is shining and the temperature is quite mild, you can tell Autumn will soon begin her beguiling artistry in earnest. Hubby is working out in the garden digging up roots from old trees we had taken down last year. The birds flit around him as they zig and zag from tree to shrub to fence post. A few bees happily buzz amongst the 'Autumn Joy' sedum stems now in flower, and a peacefulness settles on the neighbourhood.

I should be out there too planting some bulbs for spring -- tulips and daffodils and grape hyacinths. But I'm off to my hairdresser's shortly. Don't want to go there with my fingernails all dark with garden dirt. Not that there's anything wrong with good garden dirt, but you know... . So the bulb planting will wait until tomorrow.

Now onto something I'm a little excited to share with you today ...

While we were in England this past July, I found out Britain's Royal Mail was issuing commemorative stamps this year for two very special women, both of whom I admire greatly: Agatha Christie and Beatrix Potter. So when I got back to Canada I did an online search at their website to see if non-residents can order stamps online. And, yes! we can.

Today I just ordered my set of six commemorative postage stamps marking not just the centenary since Agatha Christie published her first crime novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, but also the 40th anniversary of her death. Released just today, Royal Mail says it's 'a stamp issue that’s full of intrigue'. You can read all about it here. And, if you want to read more about Dame Agatha's debut novel, click here.

"Instinct is a marvelous thing. It can neither be explained nor ignored."
Hercule Poirot, The Mysterious Affair at Styles


I also ordered the Beatrix Potter stamps which were released by Royal Mail earlier this summer to mark the author's 150th anniversary. Helen Beatrix Potter was an English writer, illustrator, natural scientist and conservationist; she was best known for her children's books featuring animals, such as those in The Tale of Peter Rabbit.

Aren't these just the cutest stamps? If I lived in England I'd being buying rolls of them, and I'd be sending out cards and letters to everyone I could think of, just so I could use these.

Who's your favourite character?  I loved Mrs. Tiggly Winkle.

"There is something quite delicious about writing the first words of a story.
You never quite know where they will take you."
~ Beatrix Potter  

If you are a follower of Susan Branch you will no doubt be aware that she is hosting a very special BYO picnic in England this coming weekend to celebrate Miss Potter's 150th birthday. She and Joe have been traveling by ship this week and will be landing in Southampton tomorrow.

The picnic is being held at Stourhead, Wiltshire at High Noon, on Sunday, September 18th, near the grass bridge.

 There it is -- the grass bridge where the picnic will be on Sunday
Photo: Susan Branch, Twitter feed

In her recent post, Susan says, "Our picnic is going to be a world thing ~ kindred spirits are coming from everywhere. We’ll be toasting Beatrix Potter’s 150th birthday ~ the invitation was extended through the Beatrix Potter Society’s wonderful (free) online newsletter called Pottering About. And if you can’t make it? That’s what I’m for. Pictures will be here waiting for you."

Are any of her blogging girlfriends going to be there in person? I won't be there in the flesh, but I'll certainly be there in spirit, celebrating along with her and everyone there.


On that note, I'm wishing you a beautiful day.