Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Eve




My Wish for You in 2010

May peace break into your home
and may thieves come to steal your debts.

May the pockets of your jeans
become a magnet for $100 bills.

May love stick to your face like Vaseline
and may laughter assault your lips!

May happiness slap you across the face
and may your tears be that of joy.

May the problems you had
forget your home address!

In simple words .........

May 2010 be the best year of your life!

Hugs,
Brenda
xox

Author of these lines unknown



Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Frosty Evening


It's a dark frosty night, and the moon fills the sky with shimmery light. Thought I'd give you a glimpse of it from our angle of the world. I understand we're enjoying what is called 'a blue moon' as this will be the second full moon this month.

I've been working most of the day on my family history submission for our local history book. The job didn't seem that arduous when I started, but you soon realize if you want to do a good job, it takes more than dashing off a few paragraphs. Yes, you want the information to highlight the facts of births and marriages, but it's so much more interesting to read historical information when it comes interlaced with memories that bring smiles, laughter, or even poignant throbs. So Lin, I can see why you enjoy chasing down the history of so many of your family members.... there's a real pleasure to it.



I just re-discovered a quote I always thought inspiring -- I have it on the inside cover of a little notebook I'm using these days:  "Live one day at a time, and make it a masterpiece!"

As we prepare for a brand new year, I'm musing over that idea ... what does that look like in my life? If I make each day a masterpiece, what does it feel like? What am I doing and who am I with?
 
On that note, what does a masterpiece day look like to you?

Ponderingly,
Brenda



Monday, December 28, 2009

Relaxin' Time Between Holidays



The turkey's been eaten, the presents unwrapped, the guests have returned home, and Kitty and I are snuggled all cozy by our computer this morning. Hubby and I put everything to rights in the house yesterday, so today we can relax and enjoy the quiet after all the happy hubbub.



Outside My Window Today
Skies are so laden with snow you can hardly tell the roof tops from the horizon. No sign of the sun. No sign of the birds. No sign of people in the neighbourhood either. All is still and quiet.


In My Kitchen
Still enjoying some leftovers from Christmas turkey dinner -- making a turkey pot pie for supper tonight. Easy-peasy and yum!


What I'm Reading
Voices, Understanding & Responding to the Language of Heaven by Steve Witt 2007
Cats in May by Doreen Tovey 1959
Hickory Dickory Dock by Agatha Christie
Victoria Magazine, January/February 2010
Artful Blogging Magazine
 
I still need to find two books for this challenge: a book with a medical condition in the title, and one with a building name. These were more difficult finds for me ... any ideas, anyone?


Project I Need to Finish Before Year's End
The local museum in the home town where I grew up is putting together a local history book for our region. I'm just finishing up the final drafts for my submissions of my grandparents, parents, and myself. It's been an interesting exercise -- amazed at how quickly the old memories started to surface when I began to jot a few ideas down.


Afternoon Snooze With Miss Kitty
Kitty beat me to the napping stage of the day. As per usual, she's curled up in a tight ball on the computer chair behind me, which means I'm starting to lose the feeling in a certain part of my anatomy -- the part that's barely perched on the edge of 'our' chair. I'll go finish that history essay and then see if I can't join Kitty for a sweet afternoon snooze somewhere more comfortable. She'll follow me there.


Stay cozy, everyone!







Friday, December 25, 2009

Happy Christmas!



I wish you love and joy...
I wish you hope for your future...
I wish you comfort in time of sorrow...

I wish you strength in weakness..
I wish you more than enough...
I wish you health and well-being...

I wish you peace...
that place of nothing missing, nothing broken.

God bless us, everyone!

Joyfully,
Brenda
xox






Thursday, December 24, 2009

O Holy Night


 

The stars are brightly shining
It is the night of the dear Savior's birth...


Wishing you a peaceful and hopeful Christmas Eve!
Brenda
xox


Photo Source: morguefile.com







Monday, December 21, 2009

We Don't Have To Dream It

Source

Well, there's no need to dream about a white Christmas around here. It's been snowing all day. We've had to get out and shovel twice...'we' meaning Dear Hubby, in this case -- ha.

I'll have to take my turn at it, but I've been in the midst of making ginger cookies, a banana nutmeg loaf, and now the makings for sugarplums await my return to the kitchen.

So let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

Keep warm!
Brenda
xox




Sunday, December 20, 2009

Simply Sunday: Once In Royal David's City



On this last Sunday of Advent, I am eager to share one of my favourite Christmas carols.

One day I hope that I'll actually be able to hear this sung in a beautiful cathedral in England. And, now I hope it adds beauty and a sense of joy to your day as you listen.





Best Blessings!
Brenda


Saturday, December 19, 2009

Christmas Carols and Other Ponderings...



The day started out... looking like a Christmas card. Everything was covered in soft fluffy snow. Perfect for snowman building.

At Christmas, I like to...
attend at least one concert where I can hear some of the beautiful carols and music of the season. Sometimes it's Handel's Messiah or Bach's Christmas Oratorio, and sometimes it's a community concert.

My favourite character in the Nativity story is...
Mary. I have often marveled at her great courage to say to the angel, Gabriel, after he'd told her she would become the mother of Jesus, "Be it unto me according to your word." Such trust and, as I say, courage.

An interesting Christmas present I remember getting was a...
doll that walked. The only thing was, she had one leg shorter and so she didn't 'walk' very well. As a child, I imagined she had polio, as one of my older cousins walked with a limp from having contracted polio. I named my new doll, Joanne.

One Christmas carol I love listening to is... Once in Royal David's City. I love how the one lone voice begins as if far away and then the one voice is joined with others, building the momentum into a magnificent expression. This one tends to give me shivers down my spine.

For me, Christmas begins when..
. I've been to a concert where I can join in the carol singing. And if I don't get to one, it begins when I start humming my favourites around the house or in my car. Years ago, I used to sing in a choir and every year we'd do a big event for Christmas called The Singing Christmas Tree. A gigantic stand was erected and festooned with tree boughs and thousands of lights. The choir members would stand on this and sing from it. It was quite the experience.

And so, we come to the last few days before the big event. Here's wishing you peaceful 'sugar-plum' dreamin'!


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Holiday Reading

Here's hoping you're enjoying a pleasant day. 

I've also been enjoying a couple of Christmas stories from the library -- The Perfect Christmas by Debbie Macomber. It's a fast and light-hearted read for those curl-up times by the fireplace. I'm not usually into the 'romance' novels, but this one was fun.

The other one was The Handmaid and the Carpenter by Elizabeth Berg. The author takes the story of the Nativity and muses 'between the lines' about what this historic event meant to Mary and Joseph. It gave me an appreciation for what they might have experienced and encountered. I enjoyed the story.

It's hard to believe the countdown is so near now. Only nine more sleeps (or eight if you count Christmas Eve as the beginning of Christmas, as I do).

The sun shines bright on snowy banks this morning. Our weather has been a bugbear these past few days, but we're into a 'thaw' --- well, not quite, but after that -36C stuff, anything above -20C feels like we're near the banana belt.

Best be off.... I'm baking Almond Cherry Balls today.

Happy Day!
Brenda







Saturday, December 12, 2009

Violet Creates Something Pretty for Christmas



Oh my, you'll want to check this out. Violet over at Create Beauty has designed something quite lovely for Christmas. She takes beautiful seasonal table napkins, she turns them into envelopes for greeting cards.

She assures us that it's an easy project. So, if you're feeling creative and want to dress up your card giving this holiday season, you'll want to check out Violet's post today.

Violet, you've made our day so beautiful with your gift to us. Thank you for sharing.

Enjoy your day!
Brenda





Friday, December 11, 2009

Musing About Christmas Traditions



Hubby and I were chatting one day about what our favourite and not so favourite traditions were ... what we enjoy the most about the holiday season and what we enjoy the least.

For me, I've always loved starting Christmas early -- shopping, listening to the old familiar carols, watching the movies, getting in the mood, or crafting new decorations and gifts. I didn't have a problem dreaming about it as the days of autumn drew us closer to the fireside in September, and I certainly loved the idea of decorating my house at the very whisper of December 1st.

When I met Rick and we married, he didn't have many 'traditions'. He'd put lights up on the house outside, but didn't decorate a tree. And, he didn't often go home to visit his family, who lived in another province. He often spent Christmas Day with special friends closer to home, so his celebrating was simple.

Then I came along and turned everything up-side-down for him. I'd start playing carols weeks before and want to put the tree up early, etc. And he was usually not as enthusiastic as I. Not that he ever stopped me from sallying forth, but he would just tease me about it being way too early and he'd have to call the "Christmas police".

I just figured it was because he wasn't used to it. But then we had our chat and that's when he shared that he didn't really enjoy spreading out Christmas so far and wide across the weeks. To him, if we celebrate days and days of holidaying, what will then make December 25th special and set apart?He had a point!



So I said, well, let's make this Christmas more like what he would relish and not spread out the festivities too far in advance. I was happy enough to share the new experience, because in truth it was an old one for me. For, as a child, we didn't decorate our home until just 2 or 3 days before Christmas. (You didn't want the real tree to dry out before the actual day.) And most of our festivities were just those few days right around Christmas, just before and between Christmas and New Year's.

I refrained from shopping (yes, even shopping), planning menus in advance, holiday baking, playing the carols, and decorating until just a couple of days ago. I did read my December Victoria magazines and dream, but there was no actual activity happening.

Anticipation grew as we waited. So now that we're only 13 days away, this new experiment has revealed something very interesting. It's like the essence of the holiday has distilled into something more potent, and has created something where we're not jaded by all the hubbub, but there's a building up of something eagerly looked forward to. It feels more akin to that feeling of anticipation I had as a child.

Then one day I was reading Jan Karon's delightful Shepherds Abiding and if key character Father Tim didn't describe something similar after he'd just heard the choir singing the beautiful old carols in the beautiful old stone church. Here, listen...

"Call him a stick-in-the-mud, a dinosaur, a fusty throwback, but indeed, jumping into the fray the day after Halloween was akin to hitting, and holding, high C for a couple of months, while a bit of patience saved Christmas for Christmas morning and kept the holy days fresh and new."

*****

That's it, starting things later this year has given me that sense of that fresh and new. Interesting, I thought. Now whether I do this every year, well, time will tell. But I'm enjoying this year.

On that note, I bid your own sweet musings on this wintry evening,
Brenda
xox






Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Warmer... But Not Much!




It's positively balmy this morning -- it's only -20C. Haha! The skies look heavy with snow and methinks the sun has hied off to Hawaii today... no sign of Mr. Sunshine at present.

Even so, I begin turning my thoughts with eager anticipation towards preparing for the holidays. My list today includes gathering my ingredients for some Christmas baking. And, I want to put up the Christmas tree. We're a lot later at putting it up than most years -- but I have had my fig tree in the living room festooned with tiny white lights for weeks, so we haven't been totally bereft of cheery lights and cozy ambiance.

I just looked out my window. Snow crystals are forming and falling, so I may need to add shoveling to that to-do list. If you've followed this blog for a while, you may recall that I actually prefer snow shoveling to lawn mowing, so I won't mind bundling up for a brisk workout on the driveways!


Wishing you happy thoughts today.
Brenda
xox




Monday, December 07, 2009

Staying Warm




Brrrrr.... it was cold here today, but the sun was bright and skies were that frosty clear blue. A perfect winter's day.

I had full plans to write a cozy posting for today, but other needful things filled in the day. So as the evening draws to a close, let me leave you with this thought by J.C. Penney:
"Christmas is not just a time for festivity and merry making. It more than that. It is a time for the contemplation of eternal things. The Christmas spirit is a spirit of giving and forgiving."

Warmest wishes for a peaceful evening,








Saturday, December 05, 2009

I Love Winter

I love winter! Yes, even during a snowstorm, especially when everyone is home safe and snug.

Yesterday, there was quite the blizzard around here. A real winter snowstorm. This morning, we woke to find it had stopped snowing and the wind wasn't howling.

Being a sturdy Albertan, I donned my winter things and maneuvered my way out of the driveway, up the deeply rutted street, laughing that my trusty car could find her way through the snow piles without getting stuck.

Of course, we did keep our fingers crossed that there wouldn't be any useful car parts scraped from the bottom of my car ... for the ruts made by early morning traffic were d-e-e-p.

Now that our town is all wrapped in its winter wonder-wear, that means Christmas must be getting closer too. Do you see my eyes lighting up? In fact, the reason for my venturing forth on this frosty morn was to meet with friends to garland and festoon our little church meeting place for this holy and festive season.

Here's a question: After you've decorated your tree with all the pretty lights and decorations and tinsel, do you turn off all the 'big' lights and stop in that first moment to stand in awe -- with childlike wonder -- at how magical it all looks and feels? And you find yourself feeling like a kid again?

I know I do. There is something magical about it all, isn't there? I know Christmas comes to other places in the world where there isn't any snow, but for me in my world, snow and Christmas ... well, you just can't have one without the other. So, I'm all for singing....

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

Sending you a snug hug,
Brenda
xox





Friday, December 04, 2009

SnowFlakes Galore




Yes, here in Alberta, we're in the midst of winter. It's snowing and blowing across most of the province. No sign of those romantic fluffy snowflakes of a few days ago. Although minuscule in size, you can feel their determination to get the job done and completely whiten our world today.

'Tis a good one for staying indoors. With a few more clients' newsletters to complete, I'll be happy to watch the storm unfold from the comfort of my cozy office.

Earlier this morning, I gathered the ingredients to simmer a pot of chicken soup for lunch. So guess what's wafting up the stairs?

Methinks digging out the seasonal jigsaw puzzles and setting them up by the fireplace would be a good idea too. Perhaps the Charlie Brown puzzle I enjoyed piecing together last year.




Funny, I enjoy Charlie Brown more now than I did as a child. Maybe Charlie's loneliness seemed too close to home to feel comfortable when I was little. Whereas now, I rarely feel lonely, for even when I am alone, I'm always reminded of the truth that the Divine One promised He'd never leave nor forsake me. So now I often feel like dancing with Snoopy's abandoned joy!

Here's wishing you a great day! And if you're interested in knowing exactly what I mean by 'great day', you might want to pop over to an earlier posting to find out. Click here.

Cheerio,








Thursday, December 03, 2009

Can't Come Out And Play



The skies are icy blue this morning and the temperatures are biting as they have plummeted well below freezing. But the sun is faithful and so sheds its cheery light across our neighbourhood today.

Miss Kitty thinks she might want to do her garden tour as usual, until she feels the cold air hit her face when the door opens.

I'm in the middle of writing the monthly newsletter today, so perched upon my chair I shall remain for most of it.
Wishing you a happy and productive day,







Tuesday, December 01, 2009

It's the First Day of December


And the weather was cool and icy today -- no sign of fluffy flakes either. With my monthly newsletter needing to be done this week, I've chosen to share an article originally posted last year as my offering to you on this first day of December. I hope you enjoy.




The Tradition of Gift Giving

For those of us who love Christmas, we can gleefully start our holiday preparations in earnest. Which, of course, means focusing our attention more closely on the gifts we want to give this year.

One of my favourite ways of expressing love to the people in my circle is to give them gifts. I love finding or making little treasures that I hope will give them pleasure, as well as convey my esteem and affection.

After reading Gary Chapman's book on the five love languages, I realize that gift giving is probably one of my primary love languages (words of affirmation right up there as well). I love shopping for presents at Christmas time, although I have to admit my most favourite times of the year to give gifts are those times in between, when no one is expecting them. It's the surprise element that I adore.

Sometimes it's easy to get caught up in the social obligation of gift giving at this time of year. Instead of feeling a sense of joy and wonder, we can feel the pressure of giving because it's expected of us. I don't know about you, but I don't want to receive something from someone if they only feel a sense of duty to give it to me.

I don't want to give in that spirit, either! For me, I want my gifts to be an expression from my heart. Whether our gift comes wrapped in shiny paper or a note with gentle words of affirmation, or an offer to provide some act of service or spend time together, it doesn't matter if we're two or ninety-two, we are all looking for that little something that says, "You I cherish....you I notice."

As we prepare ourselves for this special holiday season, may the gifts we choose be ones that come from hearts filled with affection, esteem and love. Now that's living life beautifully!

Happy Preparations!
Brenda


* * * * *
Footnote:
* Gary Chapman's five love languages include:
1. Giving gifts
2. Words of affirmation
3. Physical touch
4. Quality time
5. Acts of service



Monday, November 30, 2009

Snow...Snow...Snow



It's snowing here, and it's beginning to look a lot like... WINTER! When I came out, on my way out to meet a friend, it felt like I'd been transported to the old inn in the classic movie White Christmas.
 
Do you remember ... at the end they sing 'I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas' and the big doors swing wide open onto a winter wonderland. That's exactly how it felt when my own garage door slid open. I stood transfixed for a moment, as I gazed on a street that had been transformed into a white fairyland. To top it off, at that very moment, a full choir of sparrows in neighboring spruce trees flooded the air with their chirpy songs. It was as if I'd been transported inside a Currier and Ives Christmas card!

What a great way to set the stage for December 1st tomorrow!

On that note, I'm off to curl up under a cozy blanket (I hear the wind howling now) and read something from my library pile. I just finished Debbie Macomber's new book "One Simple Act" on the beauty of generosity.

Happy Evening!




Monday, November 16, 2009

Simple Woman's Daybook




For Today: I'm linking to The Simple Woman's Daybook

Outside my window... blue skies, wind tousled treetops, dried leaves scuttling like beetles across the yard.

I am thinking... what it is we actually wish when we wish someone to have a great day?

Now that you're wondering, I would want that person to be well in her body, to have no pain in any area, including her heart. I would desire that her relationships be sweet and that rifts or misunderstandings be cleared up quickly. I would wish that her path be smooth and that things would go well in her work and at the grocery store.... that she knows someone somewhere loves her and thinks she's special..... that sort of thing.

I am thankful for... experiences every day that remind me that walking in love toward every living creature is really what makes life beautiful.

I am wearing... black slim jeans, a black/white stretchy, almost tunic length top, silver earrings with black dangly bobbles.

I am going... to start getting my home ready for Christmas this week by setting aside 1 hour every day to clean every corner and put things to right, and then start bringing out the festive stuff in December.

I am reading... Healing Your Financial Soul: An Interactive Guide to Restoring Your Relationship with Money by David Hicks. This book takes time to read through as he shares various exercises to help trigger and identify those trouble spots, so we can deal with them.

One interesting exercise at the beginning is to think about what you truly desire for your financial well-being. Of course that's different for everyone. But that's where you need to think about what's really important to you and your family. He shares a prompt to get you started. "I am rich in ----- !" So, after much thought and heart-searching, this is my dream for financial well-being in a nutshell:

I am rich in extravagant giving and generous hospitality, and I always have more than enough to give to good work.

I am hoping... to create a little inspiration board of pictures that will convey a little of what that dream looks like; to use it as a positive and happy reminder when I'm about the business of spending, saving, making, budgeting, creating, shopping, paying......

On my mind... Lunch. Although I don't eat hotdogs very often -- usually too salty -- today that's what I feel like enjoying. With mustard, relish, ketchup and, yes, minced onions, too!

Pondering these words... Give and it shall be given. I'm beginning to grasp the idea that this may be a universal law that is meant for absolutely every area of life, including our relationships and finances. Whatever I want and hope to enjoy, I must first plant a seed if I hope for a harvest in that area. If I wish friendship, I must offer it to others. If I wish to be treated with kindness, I must ensure I offer kindness to every person I meet. If I wish blessings to come to me, I must first bless others.

From the kitchen... Beef Rouladen for supper. This is a German dish that our family often saved for Christmas Eve Dinners when I was growing up. But sometimes it's fun to eat 'any old time' and to enjoy the happy festive memories it triggers.

Around the house... not a typical Monday. No laundry needs doing today, which is interesting.

One of my favorite things... the Yankee Candle sitting on my desk with the fragrance "Autumn Wreath". I've had the candle for a couple of seasons, and still I'll often catch a whiff of its autumny fragrance. Kind of a mix of spicy pumpkin pie, apple cider, and cinnamon. I love the surprise of how it releases its scent when I'm not expecting it.

From my picture journal...  something bright and cheerful for my front door as the holiday season draws nearer.


Here's wishing you a great day, and all that it means to you!
Brenda
xox



Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Dressing Up Cookies and Taking Them Out




For those of you who are Anne of Green Gables fans, you'll understand the sheer joy of encountering yet another kindred spirit -- that moment when we cry out, ""Aha, she speaks the language of my heart." These individuals who delight us by giving us kaleidoscopic glimpses of their lives, which often includes a peek into their wildly creative pursuits.

Which is why I was enchanted when Judy over at Just A Little Something For You posted her delicious way of dressing up gifts of cookies.

She's taken the age-old tradition of sharing gifts from our kitchen and made it into something pretty and playful as well as tasty.

With the holidays coming up, not to mention all those other spur-of-the-moments we love to celebrate, I thought it was the perfect time to pass along the link to this creative posting.

Whatever you're up to, wishing you joy and peace!





Monday, November 09, 2009

Simple Woman's Daybook




FOR TODAY... I'm linking to The Simple Woman's Daybook

Outside my window... Blue skies. Sunshine. Leafless tree branches. Cheeky chickadees.

I am thinking... About the aha! moment when I recognized a mindset I've nurtured and babied for a long time has been a key to what keeps me from committing to exercise on a more regular basis. I've always felt (notice that it's an emotional response) that exercising was an interruption to my life. Walking was fine, but actually taking an hour or two every other day to go to a class or the gym just seemed way too time consuming, not to mention, bo-rrrrring.

But when I finally clued in, I realized that's why I could never stay on track. My little 'guardian' inside my head kept insisting that, "We don't want to do this, it's interferes with our life, what a bore, what a chore, no more!"

For more on this great thinking business, check out Thinking For A Change by John C. Maxwell.

I am thankful for... electricity and heat as the days grow darker and colder. And for my house and that I don't have to live in a tent or cardboard box. Lord, help us to show compassion and love for those who do.

I am wearing... jeans, a brilliant green v-necked tee shirt, and dangling silver earrings.

I am going... to clean out my office this week. The clutter bugs flew in when I wasn't looking and left paper piles... again. I really think I should consider keeping more info on my computer, but, alas, I still like the feel of that paper/book in my hand!

I am reading... Healing Your Financial Soul by David Hicks. The author shares helpful insights and exercises about finding out what you think and how you feel about your finances, and uncovering those thoughts, beliefs and emotions that keep you from enjoying the financial level you desire for your family. Some very interesting thoughts are surfacing as I read! He says, "If you struggle financially, it's because you were taught, and you agreed to believe, and have made countless decisions to prove, that you're supposed to struggle."

On my mind... An old hymn I'd heard so many times growing up as a child, that I learned the words without ever having to memorize it. "Great is Thy Faithfulness... morning by morning new mercies I see, All I have needed thy hand hath provided..."

Noticing that... it gets dark SOOO early now. Makes me think of getting ready for Christmas, things like working on gifts and planning how to make our home inviting and cozy for everyone when they come this year.

From the kitchen... Lunch is leftovers today: pan sauteed noodles, mushroom sauce and three meatballs, salad with homemade creamy dressing, a small glass of Clamato juice. (My hubby, who likes things to be split 50/50 will insist on splitting that 3rd meatball -- ha ha).

Around the house... Chores like laundry, some cleaning, and a bit of organizing. Sounds tedious, but there is something I love about bring order out of chaos, even if the chaos is a tumble of clothes waiting for the dryer.

One of my favorite things... Watching Miss Kitty snooze so contently in a sunbeam. Cats really have perfected the art of napping. We should take notes...

From my picture journal... The Sunset Artist's goodnight signature as seen from my backyard one summer evening.



Wishing you a glimpses of heaven in unexpected places,
Brenda
xox




Saturday, November 07, 2009

Chocolate Chunk and Hazelnut Biscotti

Source
Happy Saturday morning! It's a sunny day and warmer than usual for this time of year. All that snow we had in September? Well, we're now enjoying September weather in November. It's a bit of a twist.

My sister and I have begun thinking about what we'd like to bake for the upcoming holiday season. I found this recipe for Chocolate Chunk and Hazelnut Biscotti over at A Good Appetite. Don't they look delicious? They'd be perfect with a freshly brewed cup of coffee.


Wishing you a sweet day!






Thursday, November 05, 2009

That Christmas Feeling


On my way home yesterday afternoon from a coffee date with a good friend, suddenly and without warning, I started to get that warm fuzzy feeling we usually identify as 'being in the Christmas spirit'. 

So, when I got to the library guess which section I headed towards -- I wasn't disappointed to find a lovely display of seasonal magazines and books already waiting for my browsing pleasure.

This was an interesting moment for me. I love Christmas, I've always loved thinking and preparing several months in advance for this wonderful time of year. I loved the anticipation of the season.

But until I walked into that library yesterday with the specific intent of searching out some Christmas craft magazines, I hadn't actually recognized that for the last six years my Christmas crafting soul had been on 'hiatus' (for various health and family issues too long to describe here).

I didn't realize I'd set aside Christmas crafting until I went searching for ideas at the library. Wow, I'm excited now about digging out my own squirreled away copies of old Christmas magazines and begin my former tradition of mulling and searching out those wondrous ideas that will make this particular season sparkle with new joy and hope.

I realize now that something new on the inside of me got well. It's a day to celebrate.

Here's wishing you warm and cozy day,
Brenda





Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Autumn Favourites



Long before e-mail and definitely before blogging days, a former penpal and I began a little tradition where we would create small lists of our favourite things and tuck them at the end of our letters.

The theme was usually in keeping with the particular season we were in, and it was a fun way to get to know each other. Now many bloggers follow a similar tradition often creating their own lists of favourite seasons, books, movies, foods, traditions, holiday memories, etc. to share with their readers. It's still a fun way to get know new friends.

Today, I'm delighted to offer a few of my Autumn favourites. I hope they remind you of a few of your own...
  • The combinations of colour, especially when there are brilliant oranges, yellows and reds mixed in with the dark greens of evergreens. It's such a satisfying combo.

  • The smell of burning leaves (this is very rare where I live now), but I still remember the acrid smell from my childhood, as stubble fields were burned.

  • The feeling of new beginnings as another school year gets under.

  • The earlier darkening days. As the day draws in a little sooner each evening, it makes me draw nearer to my own hearth and home. It feels cozy and safe.

  • Apples:  apple pie, apple crisp, apple cider, caramel apples, apple sauce, apple strudel

  • Crunchy piles of leaves

  • Walks in woodsy areas. I never used to like how the bare tree branches made me feel -- too stark and naked. But I've grown to truly love the clean simplicity of bare branches against autumn blue skies. Now, I get the feeling of openness and space, rather than nakedness.

  • Crisp air and frosty mornings.

  • Brilliant red sunrises and even bolder sunsets

  • Harvest moons

  • Reading books and stories set in the autumn, eg. September by Rosamunde Pilcher


Wishing you glimpses of autumn richness wherever you go today!

Hugs,
Brenda
xox


Monday, November 02, 2009

Simple Woman's Daybook


FOR TODAY... I am linking to The Simple Woman's Daybook.
It's a place where you can share those 'tiny tidbits of joy that are inside your day'.

Outside my window... What a beautiful Monday morning. Bright with morning sunshine and I'm jJust got back from a walk with my father-in-law who is visiting.

Orange Kitten's family must have gone to work really early this morning, because when I stumbled into the kitchen around 6 am to fill our own Miss Kitty's empty food bowl, little Orange Miss was peering in through the window looking for attention!

The top of our Mountain Ash tree is laden with bright bunches of red berries, something our local waxwings love. We love it when they swoop in by the hungry dozens to feast on the berries, devouring most of them in surprising short order.

I am thinking... how nice it is that I no longer have to fight with crowded freeways every morning and evening. It's a short walk from my kitchen to my  little office upstairs where I write monthly newsletters for my clients'.

I am thankful for... the opportunity to be in the heart of my home full-time now. It's a dream I had ever since I was a little girl. Sometimes I'm still working out what that looks like in everyday living.

I am wearing... jeans and a prettily patterned top in sea greens and blues, with dangle-y silvery earrings. Hair's done, lipstick's on, finished with a light spritz of Mary Kay Lotus and Bamboo fragrance. It makes me feel ready to tackle the day, even if it just being at home all day. Besides, I think hubby deserves to see the better side of me too!

I am remembering... Audrey Hepburn's character, Holly Golightly, in the 1960's movie Breakfast at Tiffany's when she says, "Hand me my purse, darling; a girl can't read something like this without her lipstick." It's true, I feel much better prepared for whoever and whatever comes across my path when I've got my lipstick on!

I am going... to be setting my face 'like a flint' toward getting my newsletter done this week.

I am reading... one of my library books Thinking for a Change by John C. Maxwell. "To do well in life, we must first think well." Reminds me of that old proverb, "As a man thinks in his heart, so is he."

On my mind... looking for ways to add new layers of creativity in my life that will not only create depth in my own life, but add hope and encouragement for other people. I'm also asking God to bring peace to the minds of many people who are stressed out by the fear of H1N1 (swine flu). Psalm 91 is a place of peace for my own mind and heart.... He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall remain stable and fixed......fearing no evil.

Pondering these words... I've always enjoyed the phrase 'Scatter joy' which I understand is attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson. I like to imagine creative ways to scatter joy the same way leaves scatter in the wind during the autumn. Don't you think the world would be a happier place for more people if they could crunch their way through piles of leafy joy?

From the kitchen... I made a quick soup for lunch from left over ingredients in the frig --- chicken, soup stock, peas and rice. Added to that, a diced carrot, garlic, ginger and onions (sauteed first), with a generous dash of hoisin sauce right at the last. It was a yummy hint of oriental. And for supper,
homemade chicken pot pie which is already made and ready to pop into the oven later.

Around the house... Although dusting was not on the agenda today, I hunted for my furniture cleaner early this morning when sunbeams lit up a very dusty piano keyboard. I could not leave the grand dame in that sad state all day, so her deep wood grains shine and sparkle now.

One of my favorite things... My husband's heart-stopping smile -- I think I fall in love all over again when I see how it lights up his face and makes him look so handsome. I love his laugh too.

From my picture file... This mountain ash lives in our backyard -- the photo was taken earlier this summer.



Wishing you many simple pleasures today.
Brenda
xox







Sunday, November 01, 2009

Simply Sunday





Autumn Dawn

A quiet world lies slumbering
The frenzied bustle of noonday stands at bay

Rays of sunlight stretch lazily across the eastern sky
A golden haze bathes the morning air

Sapphire skies shimmer unmarred
Not a cloud skims across the horizon

Breezes rustle through scarlet-dipped leaves
The crisp tang of Autumn fills the air

One lone blue jay shrieks in a nearby grove
Piercing the serenity

Stately evergreens stand on guard
Fragrant boughs hang laden with liquid sunshine

Savour the tranquil beauty of this morn
O soul, well up with praise for the Creator

Daybreak is His promise of a new day and new life
The morning dawns eternal

Brenda C Leyland












Friday, October 30, 2009

Never Too Busy for Books


Had a wonderful afternoon at the library. Although I recently completed my goal to read 25 library books during this year, this doesn't mean I'm not up for enjoying more as the year winds up in a couple of months.

I walked through the doors and saw the library's new acquisitions sitting on the 'look at me' shelf. One book that caught my eye (even if it is a little early) was The Christmas Secret by Donna VanLiere. I haven't read anything of hers before. According to the inside cover, this novel that 'reveals how the greatest gifts in our lives are sometimes discovered beneath the biggest boulder in the road.' I'm hoping for something warm and cozy.

Next....I'm hooked and so I went in search of another children's adventure novel by Madeleine L'Engle. Many Waters is a story about 'run-of-the-mill' twins in the extraordinary Murry family. Nothing especially interesting has ever happened to Sandy and Dennys. Nothing, that is, until the bitter cold afternoon when, fooling around in their parents' lab, they type on the new computer: TAKE ME SOMEPLACE WARM, SOMEPLACE WARM AND SPARSELY POPULATED. And tessering across time and space, Sandy and Dennys are suddenly in a harsh desert land where, if they believe in unicorns, they can find unicorns..."

Then I followed my nose up and down a few other aisles and something by Valorie Burton caught my eye. Wait a minute, I recognize that name. I signed up for her informative and motivational e-mails a while ago. She's a personal life coach and I've always enjoyed her timely advice and encouragement. So I added to my growing pile her copy of How Did I Get So Busy? The 28-Day Plan to Free Your Time, Reclaim Your Schedule, and Reconnect with What Matters Most.



I don't know about you, but I'm often drawn to books by their front covers. So when I found this book with a fifties style dress on the cover that has cut-out tabs for paper dolls, I had to pick it up. (I loved playing with paper dolls when I was a girl!) Author Penelope Lively has written a fiction novel entitled Making It Up. She writes a story about her life as she imagined it might have turned out if she'd made different choices and experienced other circumstances. Mmm ... gotta add that to my growing armload.

And that's my haul for this week. Now comes the hard part -- which one do I start first?

Wishing you a great day,
Brenda







Thursday, October 29, 2009

Reading Challenge 2009 Updates



Last night I completed my 2009 Support Your Library Challenge, which was to read at least 25 books from my local library during 2009.

Now..... I have two other reading challenges to complete this year. Ten books left to read for the Read Your Own Book Challenge.

Plus, I need to find three books with a profession, a building, or a medical condition as part of the title for the What's In A Name challenge.

Happily Reading,
Brenda








Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Reading Stories by Madeleine L'Engle


"The most memorable books from our childhood are those that make us feel less alone, convince us that our own foibles and quirks are both as individual as a fingerprint and as universal as an open hand." Anna Quindlen, from A Wrinkle in Time 

As it snows outside today, we're nestled inside where we're engrossed in some fun children's books from the local library. I recently read A Wrinkle In Time, written in the early 1960's by Madeleine L'Engle, which is a fascinating tale of "adventures in space and time of Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin O'Keefe (athlete, student, and one of the most popular boys in high school). They are in search of Meg's father, a scientist who disappeared while engaged in secret work for the government on the tesseract problem."

Just in case you're wondering what a tesseract is a wrinkle in time. Can't tell you more.

Now I'm reading the sequel A Wind in the Door. It's a great autumn read for the story takes place in November. "(When) Meg comes home from school, Charles Wallace tells her he saw dragons in the twin's vegetable garden. That night Meg, Calvin and C.W. go to the vegetable garden to meet the Teacher (Blajeny) who explains that what they are seeing isn't a dragon at all, but a cherubim named Proginoskes. It turns out that C.W. is ill and that Blajeny and Proginoskes are there to make him well - by making him well, they will keep the balance of the universe in check and save it from the evil Echthros. Meg, Calvin and Mr. Jenkins (grade school principal) must travel inside C.W. to have this battle and save Charles' life as well as the balance of the universe." excerpt from amazon.ca

As a child I was an avid reader and I loved stories like this where the characters ventured into places and experiences I was far too timid in real life to even dream about.  I loved and admired their boldness and courage, and quite happily lived their adventures from the safety of our cozy living room couch or my little bedroom.

Part of the warmth I feel when I read these stories is because they stoke up memories long forgotten from my elementary school days. Good school days with many happy memories and feelings of being safe and cozy inside a classroom with large, long windows, images of big chalky blackboards with rows of alphabet cards tacked along the top ridge, walls full of colourful artwork or coloured leaves pressed between waxed paper.

And don't forget the important part ... the shelves in the classroom lined with dozens of inviting books, all ready and waiting for free reading time. Not to mention the utter bliss of 'checking' a book out for home time. Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy ..............

Funny, I don't recall reading these particular stories when I was a much younger person, but if they were available in our little school library, I probably did. I do know I'm sure enjoying them all these many years later.

It's never too late to catch up on all the reading we missed in our childhood. I'm sure glad of that. These two Wrinkle books are a set of five in the series.

Wishing you some happy free reading time,
Brenda







Monday, October 26, 2009

We're Back!



Spokane is lovely city to visit. We enjoyed a wonderful few days away -- we had gorgeous weather, got to spend time with a great company of people at a conference, and got to do a wee bit of sight-seeing too.

It seems everyone around here at home missed me ... I missed them too. Miss Kitty was so excited when I plopped my luggage down at the front door that she ran all over the house like an excited puppy. Although Hubby might not have expressed his joy quite in the manner of Kitty, he was glad to see me too!

Now that I'm back, and we're nearing the end of the month, it means I'll be busy over the next few days working away on my clients' newsletters. But I'll be around to visit you dear blogging friends soon.

Wishing you a beautiful week,







Wednesday, October 21, 2009