Thursday, December 01, 2016

The First of December



Before I say anything else, I want to say a big THANK YOU to those of you who shared your wonderful comments on my last post. And the one before that... and the one before that... I've been receiving such warm and cheering feedback from friends not only here, but on Twitter, Facebook, and via email. It was quite lovely to hear from so many of you. For me, that is the joy of blogging... connecting with the hearts of kindred spirits and sharing the simple pleasures we treasure.


bing.com / clipart


It's hard to believe that we are welcoming December once again. With fog hanging in the air and prospects of snow from the weatherman, it's finally starting to feel more like winter around here. Not that I'm complaining about the milder temperatures, but we are happy to welcome the frostier, nippier degrees -- it's just not the same sipping mulled cider or thinking about Christmas shopping when it still feels like a mild autumn day.

I've always enjoyed that old Bing Crosby song "I'm Dreaming of A White Christmas". As a child growing up in northerly Alberta, Canada, there was never any chance of it ever being anything but a white Christmas. I couldn't even imagine a Christmas without snow, but in more recent years, with temperatures warmer than they used to be, well, sometimes, like Bing, we too have to dream and cast hopeful eyes skyward to watch for snow flurries come December.

* * *

Early this morning I read my very first Christmas post of the season. Written by my lovely Facebook friend, Sandra, she told of a cherished childhood memory about how her mom would start off this magical month each year. It was a delightful post and I thought you might enjoy it too; you'll find the link here.

Sandra's mom often used the phrase "Scatter joy" in her conversations, and it would seem that Sandra has taken up that inspiring challenge, for both her blog and Facebook pages are like vases filled with joy drops waiting to be spilled out and scattered afield.


. . . S C A T T E R   J O Y . . .


I don't remember when I first came across those two inspiring words, but inscribed on a pretty note card they sat for years propped on my desk at work, a visual reminder of what I myself wanted to do in my own life. It turns out that Ralph Waldo Emerson authored that inspirational phrase:

“There is no beautifier of complexion, or form, or behavior,
like the wish to scatter joy and not pain around us.”

Whether our own pocketbooks have little or much to spend on spreading Christmas cheer from gifts purchased in department stores and online venues, thankfully, we all have the same opportunity to scatter the essence of those two little words, through our own utterances and deeds, thereby scattering a warm measure of cheer and joy to those who need it.


* * *



My hubby and I celebrated our wedding anniversary a few days ago, and we visited our local conservatory just days before to take in their pretty Christmas display of poinsettias. Reminded us of our wedding day -- for eighteen years earlier we had our wedding photos taken in that very conservatory, and yes as you catch a glimpse, it was filled with poinsettias that day too.

Sorry it's blurry -- scanner isn't working so it's a pic of a pic -- didn't think you'd mind.
The little ones are my nephew and niece, now both in their twenties.

 A better view of the poinsettias



And here we are 18 years later ... during our trip to the UK in July


* * *

Since the official countdown to Christmas begins today, I'm sharing the link to the Advent series I did a couple of years ago, now also available as a free PDF download ... in case some of our newer readers and friends haven't seen it before, or perhaps you'd like a browse through it again. Interesting little thing, even though I wrote these little entries and so know all about them, their messages still make me smile and bring me cheer all over again. Hope they will for you too.
 

 

 




On that note, I'm wishing you a wonderful day
and quiet patience as we await this beautiful Advent season.
With love and hugs,
Brenda
xox








Friday, November 11, 2016

November. The Simple Woman's Daybook

 
Photo by Mikael Kvistenso / unsplash.com


I hardly know when October slipped by, and now here we are already well into November.

Since we last shared, Mom has been recovering nicely from her knee surgery. I stayed with her ten days at first and then a couple of days here and there later on. One day she looked at me and said, "It's time for you to go home -- I can take care of myself now". So I packed my little bag and came home where dear hubby was waiting for me.

The time I spent with my mom was precious; it was a real pleasure to wait on her hand and foot in those early days, trying to make things as cheerful and comfortable as possible. We'd fix tasty treats in the kitchen to tempt a waning appetite; we'd celebrate the smallest successes; we'd laugh heartily at the slightest provocation to ward off encroaching discouragements. It was wonderful to see her slowly gain confidence as she began returning to her normal routines.

And, when I wrote last month, we were experiencing real winter weather -- it came so suddenly with snow and wind and cool temperatures we were all in shock. Then, just as quickly, it all melted and autumn returned with warm, sunny days, and a few rainy ones too. It's still quite lovely these days.

So now, I'm happy to share the November edition of my Simple Woman's Daybook.




For Today ...

"As long as I have a window, life is exciting."
~ Gladys Taber


Looking out my window… It's early in the morning and the sun rises without fanfare. I stare through the branches of a leafless mountain ash. Which gives me a clearer view of the neighbour's backyard where last month I told you the kids were jumping so gleefully on the big trampoline. All is deserted this morning.



 
LEST WE FORGET

I am thinking… about Remembrance Day, that special day when we remember those who fought in wars and especially those who never came back from war. We remember. We pause. We are grateful. Here is the link to a post I shared last November 11th; it was written by my mother and it's entitled A Little Sister Remembers. And the poppy above? It was painted by my sister, Kathy, as her way of commemorating this Remembrance Day. She said I could share.


I am thankful… that every morning we have an opportunity to start fresh.


One of my favorite things… are brown paper packages tied up in string. Don't you feel the urge to pull the bit of yarn to see what's inside that interesting pile of old papers? Maybe they are old letters or photos or childhood school report cards.

Joanna Kasinska / unsplash.com



I am wearing… blue jeans and a blue-green mottled sleeveless top, dangling earrings, and brown loafer slippers.


I am going… to my aunt's funeral tomorrow. A sad time for family. As I thought about what I could write in the cards for my cousins, my aunt's grown children, I was reminded of the times over the years when I'd look up at my face in a mirror, and I'd catch a glimpse of my aunt's smile in my own face. We're family on my dad's side and families tend to resemble one another. Of that I'm proud, for my aunty was a lovely lady, inside and out.


I am creating… list of ingredients for making homemade Christmas cake. And, hubby asked about homemade mincemeat as he reminisced of his childhood when his mom not only made mincemeat pies but the mincemeat itself. I might have to surprise him and make a small batch rather than buying it ready made. Found modern versions of this old fashioned recipe online at BBC Good Food and Canadian Living. Apparently you can replace suet with butter and still get a similar result, and you don't actually have to mince meat anymore either. Good thing!


Photo from morguefile.com

I am reading… Howards End by E.M. Forster. Written in 1910, it's the beautifully written novel of two very different families brought together by an unusual event: the elder Mrs. Wilcox dies and her family discovers she has left their country home (Howards End) to one of the Schlegel sisters. This creates a crisis that takes years, and a whole book, to resolve.

I like to watch the movie version of this book with favourite actors Emma Thompson and Anthony Hopkins playing Margaret Schlegel and Henry Wilcox, respectively. But I chose to read the story rather than watch it this time, as I wanted to soak in the details and nuances of the story that are never quite conveyed through the screen.
"Like many others who have lived long in a great capital, she had strong feelings about the various railway termini. They are our gates to the glorious and the unknown. Through them we pass out into adventure and sunshine, to them, alas! we return."  ~ from chapter 2

"The present flowed by them like a stream. The tree rustled. It had made music before they were born, and would continue after their deaths, but its song was of the moment. The moment had passed. The tree rustled again. Their senses were sharpened, and they seemed to apprehend life. Life passed. The tree rustled again."~ from chapter 41



I am watching... what I eat these days. Ever since I came home from our holiday in England, I've been more aware (in a positive way) of what I eat and how much. I noticed that there are many more women in England who are slenderer than we who live here in Canada.

My theory is that people do a lot of walking over there. Here we drive everywhere; at least I do. Our cities and towns are spread out, so we have to go a ways to get to the shops. When we stayed in Royal Tunbridge Wells for 12 days, we walked everywhere. At first, I found it taxing not to just hop in a car and zoom off, but then I found it easier and easier as the days passed.

I don't walk as much here as I did there, but I thought I could work on eating a little less each meal by making my portions smaller. I went in search of smaller plates to use as our dinner plates. Mentally that helps a lot. My dish looks full but it's considerably less than when I used to fill up a larger one. And, I tend not to take seconds, once I've filled my smaller plate.

The other thing I'm keeping an eye on is the amount of bread I eat -- I include pasta, rice, and potatoes in that tabulation. If I'm making toast, I'll have one slice instead of two. And if we make a baked potato for supper, I'll have a half of a small potato, not the whole thing.

I'm happy to report it's made a difference (6 pounds less so far). Mentally or emotionally I don't feel stressed about this because I'm not depriving myself, just eating less (the smaller plate is key), and I'm in no hurry to reach a goal. I just have to think of those slender women walking to and from work, morning and evening, doing errands, carrying sacks of groceries, walking the dogs, taking their kids to school on foot. And I'm re-inspired.

  
I'm listening to... the rustle of supper being prepared in the kitchen. Hubby is making pork chops covered in sauerkraut and applesauce. Yum! And, I must admit, it's such a nice sound to hear lids chattering with pots and forks clinking against plates, while I sit here pondering what to serve in this latest post to you. Although it's not a formal thing, we tend to take turns at kitchen duty. We sort out the day's meals as we drink our early morning coffee and who does what sort of unfolds as the day's events play out.


In my garden… Leaves are gone, birds have flown south.  Hoes, shovels and watering cans are stored away. A pair of bluejays come and squawk their breakfast order for a handful of peanuts in the shell. A little squirrel will scurry along the top of the fence and eventually settle into the bottom tray of a bird feeder to stuff his cheeks with sunflower seeds and peanuts.


From my journal... I pulled out my journal from a year ago to see what I was thinking about then. What I found was a little poem by Warsan Shire; I'd originally found it on Facebook right after the terrorist attack in Paris (Nov 13) where so many were killed and injured:

later that night
i held an atlas in my lap
ran my fingers across the
whole world
and whispered
where does it hurt?

it answered
everywhere
everywhere
everywhere

Maybe your own mom used to ask her little girl that same question, where does it hurt, little one? And then she'd bend down and give the wounded area a little kiss. Off you'd go, comforted and feeling much better; she'd heard you cry and made it better.

Today we probably all know someone who is hurting, mourning, weeping for something -- it might be a small hurt or a bigger one. Maybe a kiss won't make it better, but perhaps taking a moment to listen with an open heart will let her know she's not alone. And then again, maybe a gentle kiss nestled on her forehead might help too.


From the Pinterest Board... The calm after the storm and the fragrance after the rain. The repose of this kitty lets me feel it too.


Pinterest photo from a quieter storm
 

A moment from my day... Writing out sympathy cards for my uncle and cousins. This little gesture that is meant to bring some measure of comfort to loved ones turns out to also have rewards for the writer. You see, it gives us a moment to stop and really think about our loved one and what made her special to us.

While this person still lives here amongst us, we tend not to think of the qualities or traits that makes her unique, so when we must write something comforting and meaningful in our notes we need to stop to ponder exactly what it is we want to say. And, in our wrestling to find the right words, we often find the peace we need for our own hearts and minds. Somehow, we are comforted too.


Quote...  Seek first to understand, then to be understood. ~ Stephen Covey


Closing Notes... It took me most of the day to work on this post. I started early in the morning, took a break while I went for a walk and then out for errands, came back to sit at my desk while the sun still shone. I look up -- oh my -- the sun is gone and it's grown dark. It's no longer tea time, but supper time. Which definitely means I must wrap this up...

I'm wishing you a pleasant evening,
Hugs with love,
Brenda
xox








Monday, October 10, 2016

October. The Simple Woman's Daybook

Photo by Cecil Vedemil / unsplash.com


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,
Brenda
xox


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 amazon.ca, 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.