Thursday, March 23, 2017

Thursday Doings

Life feels really good when one has had a good sleep. And I had a good one last night. In fact, I feel quite alive and energetic. I've been dragging my toes around for days, so it was a delight to wake up at a normal hour, instead of three in the morning, and actually feel fresh.

So what have I done with my very good day?

1. First, I wrote all kinds of nice things in my journal. I tend to write first thing before I'm quite awake. Probably a habit I picked up years ago reading Julia Cameron and her lovely idea of morning pages. It's a good habit. I don't do it religiously or with any 'must do', but at that early part of the morning, it catches those first thoughts before the day starts. As I write, I tend to gently herd my thoughts along a more positive flow; often, heart prayers pour out too as I write.

2. Later in the morning, I made a simple homemade soup for lunch. Got the chicken stock done yesterday and so today it was easy to chop vegetables, add some herbs and seasoning, include a few macaroni noodles, and simmer a while. There it was, all ready when hubby came home from the gym. He was one happy camper, since soup for him is a favourite lunch item any day of the week.

3. When we opened the cookie tin after lunch, we realized there was only one Walker shortbread cookie left. Which raised the question, shall we buy or bake. Because we are feeling so alive and energetic today, we pulled out a recipe from the family cookbook and made Oatmeal Raisin cookies. The fragrance in the kitchen was quite delightful.
"Good cooking carries magic in it; a house, big or little, that smells good from cooking, is the place everyone wants to be." ~ Susan Branch
4. Not related to anything in the kitchen, I wanted to tell you that I've been reading Surprised by Oxford by Carolyn Weber. I'm loving it. I forgot just how much I enjoyed it when I first read the book in 2011. Funny, this time with our Oxford trip just around the corner, I'm really noticing the places she mentions, taking note of street names and spots for a nice lunches, etc. Here is what she wrote about her first trip from the airport to Oxford on a bus (probably what we'll be doing too):
“I dozed, jolting occasionally at the driver's loud pronouncement of upcoming stops. At this early hour the bus hummed along quietly with few passengers, so the stops were infrequent. In the hazy surrealism of predawn, there really was not much to see--what I could make out was mainly countryside, though not what I would call quaint, and certainly no Shakespearean cottages or fairy folk peeping from the trees.”

5. I'm enjoyed the tulips sitting on my desk. They have been opening and add so much pleasure while I sit here at my desk.

6. Learned my brother's dear father-in-law is in critical condition after surgery. If you feel a tug to say a prayer along with me, I know it will be appreciated. Hard things. Update: Things are turning around for the better. Good news.   

7. I'm off for my exercise around the neighbourhood. Maybe with the snow mostly melted, there might be signs of spring in some sunny corner. I'll let you know if I catch any glimpses.

Here's wishing you a pleasant day,


Monday, March 13, 2017

March Assortment: The Simple Woman's Daybook

Alisa Anton /

While it's cold and snowy outside, and so many are happily talking of their own glimpses of Spring already unfolding in their neighbourhoods and gardens, I look for ways to add splashes of colour to my world on the inside. Though my garden lies dormant under layers upon layers of newly fallen white stuff, I buy bunches of tulips and daffodils to set in vases on my desk and tabletops, and I surround myself with artwork and pictures that sing Spring to me. The newest issues of favourite magazines with their bright seasonal covers do help as well. 

This week, I'm spending a couple of days with my mom. Between appointments and errands, I'm certain we'll find opportunities for some fun and laughter. Probably talk about family memories since we're both going through old photos these days, this time trying to peg down elusive dates for those pics that we keeping asking, "when was that again?"

Today I offer my March edition of The Simple Woman's Daybook -- don't forget to bring a cup of tea.

Wishing you glimpses of heaven in unexpected places,

For Today

Looking out my window...  O Spring, Spring! Wherefore art thou Spring? Yesterday on Facebook I saw a cute picture of a red cardinal dressed in woolly hat and quilted vest holding a takeaway java in his outstretched wing. The caption: "Spring forward? How bleeping far did you move it?" Some of us around here could be asking the same question.

I am thinking... about Emily Dickinson and how she lived most of her life in self-imposed 'reclusive isolation'. I have often wondered how she could live in such confinement and yet still be so 'infused with a creative energy that produced almost 1800 poems and a profusion of vibrant letters'. A simple life lived mostly within the boundary of her family home and garden, her small social network of family and close friends. She wrote from her small world, but what she shares touches so many of us, because her themes are often universal. I take courage from that in my own writings as a quiet, simple woman in my own corner of the world. Even the smallest details -- what may seem mere crumbs of a life -- can be used as fodder to enhance our lives, change them for good, and then bless as we offer them to others.

I am thankful... for the wise old book of Proverbs. It's a favourite place where I find gentle, sometimes prodding, thoughts about how to live my life more beautifully. This morning I gravitate towards lines talking about the words we choose to speak: how good news nourishes the bones, and pleasant words are sweet to the mind and healing to the body, and how a gentle tongue with its healing power is a tree of life. Such good thoughts to mull a while. Lord, let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable; let me offer good news and pleasant words and gentle responses today, so that even a listener's bones will benefit. 

One of my favourite things... is to watch kitty cats all curled up sleeping in a sunbeam. Alas, nowadays we don't have kitties, but I'm grateful for the many cat photos friends and followers share on social media; it's the next best thing to having my own sweet fur-balls. I completely relate to one woman who recently said on Twitter, on those days when she's feeling low, she only has to look at her sleeping kitties on the bed beside her to feel a quickening of joy leap within her. Even the thought of it makes me feel happy.

I am creating... a '60 years in 60 photos' project (first mentioned here) and I am happy to report all the photos have been selected, edited, and resized, everything now ready for the next step of turning the montage into a video. Through this all, there has been quite a stirring up of memories and old stories, all wanting to be heard and this time written down -- so a another new-old project in the works.

Following in the very large shoes of Dame Agatha Christie, I decided to write my own little autobiography -- to gather the bits and pieces of my life story thus far and set it down on digital paper. It's for myself first, as I sort out memories and their meaning as I ponder backwards, record lessons learned and maybe ones never quite figured out. And, if anyone else wants to read it, well, we'll see how that all unfolds down the road.

I'm taking a hint from Ms. Christie when she said as she began her autobiography at age sixty, "So what I plan to do is to enjoy the pleasures of memory -- not hurrying myself -- writing a few pages from time to time." It took her fifteen years, but since I'm not writing mysteries in between, I do hope it won't take that long. Plus, I'm also considering what the King very gravely said to Alice in Alice in Wonderland, "Begin at the beginning, and go on till you come to the end; then stop." 

As seen on Facebook at Mid Century Fashion
I am wearing... In my imagination, a pair of slippers from this Glamour page of the 1957 Sears catalogue. Let me see, if I was feeling especially soft and feminine, I'd choose those pink mules with the pink bow, but I don't think they'd go with my slouchy pants, do you? So, I'll save those for later.

Now, as for those turquoise shoes with the smart buckle, they would fit perfectly with my mostly blue/green/turquiose wardrobe. But I must admit, those bold red slip-ons with the bold flower buckle do catch my eye this morning. They would certainly give a girl a reason to step lively -- even when she's working in her little office on a sometimes-dim, sometimes-sunny March morning. So, in your fertile imagination, which shoes would you be wearing today?

I just read... Poirot and Me by David Suchet and enjoyed it very much. In it, Suchet shares his story of how he came to perform the well known role of Hercule Poirot not just for one or two seasons, but for a total of 13 series over a 25-year span. I didn't realize he received the endorsement of Agatha Christie's daughter, Rosamund Hicks, and at that point, he made the commitment to present 'the most authentic Poirot that had ever been filmed.' Here is a favourite excerpt from the book:
“This is one of the great charms of Poirot’s investigations, for they reveal a world where manners and morals are quite different from today. There are no overt and unnecessary sex scenes, no alcoholic, haunted detectives in Poirot’s world. He lives in a simpler, some would say more human, era: a lost England, seen through the admiring eyes of this foreigner, this little Belgian detective. For me, that makes the stories all the more appealing, for although the days he lives in seem far away, they are all the more enchanting because of it."
"In those first days after the series had begun on ITV, I realised for the first time that Poirot touches people’s hearts in a way that I had never anticipated when I started to play him. I cannot put my finger on precisely how he does it, but somehow he makes those who watch him feel secure. People see him and feel better. I don’t know exactly why that is, but there is something about him. My performance had touched that nerve."

Want to read this month... Surprised by Oxford by Carolyn Weber. A beautiful memoir of her life as she studied and lived in Oxford, UK, some years ago. From the note inside the cover, I first read this delightful story in 2011 -- it's certainly time to read again.

I am hoping... the weatherman is right about his prediction that more Spring-like weather begins today! The sun is shining ... that's a good start, isn't it? 

I am recognizing... that sometimes when I ask for someone's opinion or advice, it's not so much to get their input, but it's more to clarify what I am actually thinking or wanting. The juxtaposition of her ideas alongside my own soon makes it clear what I'm really desiring. Same goes for tossing a coin -- heads or tails -- when undecided about two choices. As the tossed coin descends, in that split second I know which way I want it to land. 

Did I happen to mention... We're going to Oxford later this Spring for my birthday? We didn't get to see this lovely city last summer, but I've been dreaming of visiting for years now. I want to see for myself those famous spires and steeples, and to snoop out haunts of old scholars and writers like C.S. Lewis. I want to catch glimpses of sprightly daffodils dancing in fields and alongside headstones in old church yards. I want to take in Choral Evensong at Magdalen College and listen for the church bells pealing on a Sunday morning; maybe go punting on the river in the afternoon. They say Oxford is a walking city, so taking in some walking tours are a must. It's all a birthday treat from handsome husband. Isn't he grand? I'm so grateful and so happy.

In my kitchen... After an afternoon of aromatic simmering, it's finally time for supper. Every spoonful is flavourful and generous with meat and vegetables. So worth the effort. Found this winner recipe here.

Post Script...  Sharing a link to a new-to-me fellow blogger. Accompanied by lovely photos, JES creates a delightful post about Jane Austen and the lovely homemaking hints gleaned from Jane's writings.
Shared Quote... 
"The beautiful spring came;
and when Nature resumes
 her loveliness, the human
soul is apt to revive also."
~ Harriet Ann Jacobs

A moment from my day... Here sits a simple vase of tulips at dusk. The striking pose of yellow petals against the indigo sky has me grabbing for my camera before the moment is blink gone.


Saturday, March 04, 2017

No Sign of Spring Today

Alisa Anton /

This afternoon I'm tucked up here in my little office working on a couple of desk projects. It's been snowing all day. Now it may be winter on the outside but it's spring in my heart as I gaze at my vase of sprightly tulips on my desk -- although not quite as luxurious as that huge bouquet in the photo above, it's still most cheering.   

Once in a while I go behind the scenes to look at my blog Stats, to find out what kind of traffic is coming to visit. When there's an indication someone's clicked on a post in the archive, I check it out to see if the post needs any tweaking. Once upon a time, Blogger updated their templates (or whatever) and all my posts to that date never transferred properly -- the fonts and formats got wonky. Ever since, I've been slowly, slowly going back to fix those posts so they looked decent, and while I'm there, I might add pictures to posts with text only, or delete some old stuff that just isn't worth keeping, that sort of thing.

I found these two posts from 2013. The first post is about a childhood memory of my very first encounter with cooked spinach -- I'll tell you right now we were not impressed. And the second post offers ways I deal with some of life's other green messes to make it all more palatable. I hope you don't mind the revisit.

Ahhh... I see it stopped snowing and the sun burst out -- it's looking all sparkly and pretty. Perhaps it's time to go whip up something toothsome in the kitchen to celebrate. I'm off...

Sending hugs and wishes for a beautiful weekend,