Monday, August 31, 2009

Book Giveaway

We're having a Giveaway! 

Browsing through my bookshelves I realized I have extra copies of two of my favourite books. And, rather than send them off to a secondhand bookshop, I'm hoping that you, dear blogging friends, would be delighted to make room in your heart and bookshelf for a 'new friend'. 

Gift from the Sea
by Anne Morrow Lindbergh

The Shell Seekers
by Rosamunde Pilcher

This draw is now closed

Giveaway Guideline:
1. To have your named entered in both draws, all you have to do is leave a comment on this Giveaway post. If you prefer to choose to enter for only one book, just let me know which one.

2. To get 2 entries, mention this giveaway on your blog, and link your posting back to me.

3. If you are a follower, or I'm in your list of blogs you visit regularly, let me know and your name will be entered 5 times.

Giveaway is Now Closed

Wishing you the best,

Friday, August 28, 2009

Orange Kitten Comes to Play

2009 by Brenda Colleen Leyland

My little neighbour came for
a visit yesterday. Although she was not interested in having me pick her up for pets, she was very busy chasing bugs....... right through the middle of my liatris plants. I caught it on video, but alas it doesn't want to load. I tried twice.

So you'll just have to use your vivid imagination to think of her hiding in amongst all the spiky leaves and then springing out in a gleeful rush after a busy bee.

On another note, we've been getting ready for company today. Rick's cousins from British Columbia are coming for a couple of days. As it's almost dinner time, the aromatic flavours of Mushroom Pork Tenderloin with Cashews waft through the house. Hope they arrive soon!

Best be off............happy weekend everyone!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Why It Really Storms In Summer

The other evening we drove home from a meeting through a HUGE summer storm. As the rain rivers pelted the vehicle and lightning flashed across the dark skies, my friend Zelda told us a little story she once heard...
A young lad was sitting at the kitchen table, not eating his spinach. His mother, unable to convince him to eat it, finally told him that God was going to be angry with him if he didn't finish his spinach.

Later in the evening, a big storm came up and the mother heard some noise in the kitchen. She went down and there was her son at the table eating the rest of his spinach. He looked up and said, "What a ruckus for a bit of spinach!"
So, now I'm wondering who out there didn't eat her spinach last night?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Dashing By

2009 by Brenda Colleen Leyland

Alas, no time for a real visit today. Been busy with some catch-up desk work this morning. Found a set of minutes I should have transcribed for the official record several weeks ago, but there they were, languishing under a pile of paper (that also needed tending). Got them done!

And, I've been working on the latest issue of my newsletter. With September so close at hand, I can almost hear the wheels squealing into town.

So it's a sp
rint through my quote collection to find a nugget I've always enjoyed from Ursula K. LeGuin.......

"We read books to find out who we are. What other people, real or imaginary, do and think and a essential guide to our understanding of what we ourselves are and may become."

It's true. She says it perfectly. How many times have I struggled with something that I couldn't quite put into words, only to come across an author who, having traveled that way already, was able to articulate perfectly what I was still struggling to sort out.

Now dear friend, o
n that note, I must dash!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The World of Rosamunde Pilcher

On a recent visit to the library, I was delighted to happen upon this treasure of a book:  The World of Rosamunde Pilcher.

For anyone who is a fan of Rosamunde Pilcher's novels, you are in for a treat. In this gorgeously-illustrated book, Mrs. Pilcher invites you to share with her 'the breathtaking views and tranquil places that have inspired her writings. Places like the coasts of Cornwall. The Highlands of Scotland. The society of London.

Included is a delightful introduction by the author, as well as snapshots from her family albums and recipes from her own kitchen.

If you have never read her books (Shell Seekers, Coming Home, September, Winter Solstice...), this book might have you heading right out the door to find copies. And, if you're already a 'forever' fan, you'll be reaching for your collection to read them all over again.

Happy Reading,

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Evening in the Garden

It was such a beautiful last evening. Warm. Balmy. Very few bugs. So Rick and I were out walking, with the delightful anticipation of enjoying a really nice Italian coffee (decaf) along with our 'in-the-oven' Cherry Crunch when we got back.

We met our neighbour out for his evening stroll, so we invited him to join us for coffee after our respective walks. His wife and daughters are away visiting family for several weeks, and I'm sure he finds his big house a little empty and lonely.

As I say, it was such a pleasant evening that we decided to sit in the garden. Rick set out candles and lanterns, and put the cushions on the patio chairs while I dished out the dessert.

I wish I could post the fragrance we enjoyed from the evening scented stock (below). Not really an attractive floral specimen, but its heady perfume is worth it. As the evening deepened and began to cool it, the fragrance filled the whole garden. It was magical.

As the evening shadows lengthened, rather than fireflys coming out to play (we don't have those in this part of the world), my little neighbour, Orange Kitten, stopped by for a visit. She was happily frisking about in the garden and hiding in corners. Al though Miss Kitty was not impressed, we certainly enjoyed her cute antics.

Such a lovely evening. And all done on a spontaneous whim. Often the best kind.

Pleasant happy thoughts to you all,

Friday, August 21, 2009

Cherry Pickin' Season


As you can see, my Evans cherry tree is ripe unto harvest. It's a sour cherry that grows and survives here in Alberta.

These cherries make a wonderful sour cream cherry pie as well as a compote for pancakes or ice cream. You might want to check out my food blog recipe blog for the recipes of these two favourites.


Thursday, August 20, 2009

Today's Flowers

2009 by Brenda Colleen Leyland

Pink Lavetera from my garden

I just found a lovely site called Today's Flowers. Similar to the way Friday Skywatch works, if you have any floral photos you'd like to post on your site, the weekly link, which opens on Sundays not Fridays, will link your floral posting to Today's Flower, and flower lovers from all over the world will be able to visit you.

For any floral visitors coming by, you might also be interested in a couple of my other flower postings. Check out Busy as A Bee and Wednesday's Offerings.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

If You Need A Beautiful Word.... must go to Caryn's this very minute and read her newest posting entitled "What's In A Word". I guarantee you, it's worth skipping over there without delay!

Caryn, you breathe joy and love and beauty. Thanks for that wondrous word. I feel 'sweetly and indulgently loved'.

Wishing you glimpses of heaven in unexpected places,

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Hear! Hear!

"Wear an old coat; buy the new book."
Austin Phelps

Wishing you a lovely day,

Monday, August 17, 2009

First Blog Anniversary

More than 400 posts, 3 new blogs, over 10,000 visits, plus dozens of new blogging friends later, today I'm celebrating the first anniversary of my very first posting on It's A Beautiful Life.

It's interesting that as I celebrate this small achievement, Mr. Rick and I went to see the movie Julie and Julia, where we watched young Julie Powell cook her way through Julia Child's book on french cooking and then blog about her experiences.

Although my blog hasn't turned into a book or a movie (smile), I'm still really delighted with my blogging experience, having met so many wonderful people over the past year.

It's been wonderful -- thanks for the ride!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Saturday Doings

Here is what's up for me on this somewhat sunny, somewhat foggy, a little cool, but starting-to-warm-up Saturday.

 1. Today I'm cleaning an untidy corner in my study.

2. Making Moroccan Chicken-Vegetable Soup.

It smells so fragrant and delicious as it simmers away. I found the original recipe years ago in The Best of Bridge: The Best of the Best cookbook.

3. Delving into my stack of library books.

Yes, you see rightly, there is a Christmas book in that stack. It's a lovely glimpse into the world of Rosamund Pilcher of Shell Seekers fame. I do enjoy Ms. Pilcher's writings.

4. Watching an episode from the classic series, Upstairs Downstairs.

I loved this show about Lady Bellamy and her family who live Upstairs at 165 Eaton Place alongside the family of servants which included the strict, but kindly Mr. Hudson as butler, Mrs. Bridges as the cook, and Rose the Parlor Maid, who all lived Downstairs.

5. Visit Nathalie at Avignon in Photos.

If you haven't been away on any exciting trips of late, and you feel like you'd like to catch a glimpse of something fresh and new from somewhere else, I highly recommend you take a armchair tour of Nathalie's blog -- you'll feel like you've been away on a holiday in France!


That's my day -- now it's your turn.
What are you up to?

Wishing you a beautiful weekend,

Friday, August 14, 2009

Sunrise Wonders

Photos: Brenda C Leyland, Aug 13, 2009

Have you ever had a dream where you felt that God was speaking to you through it?

Well, I'm of the opinion this is what happened to me early yesterday morning. Around 5:30 a.m., I woke up from a dream so vivid of someone calling my name over and over. Although the voice wasn't urgent, it was insistent that I heed it.

It took me a moment to realize that the voice I heard was in my dream. Now fully awake, I happened to look out my bedroom window, which faces westerly, and I was astonished to see the sky ablaze with bold pink colours!

I grabbed my little digital camera and started clicking. I took some from my back deck and then went flying out into my front yard. In the midst of all this wildly pink sky, a smattering of rain was falling and then I saw the rainbow beginning to form.

Although I couldn't get it all on my camera, a complete rainbow formed just over my neighbourhood. And then a second one began to form on the outside of the first one. I watched in awe. This is what my camera caught in real life... no touch ups.

This view was in the east -- definitely more orange here

It was also interesting to note that about 20 minutes later when I looked again there wasn't a trace of any of this glorious painting in the sky. It was as if the sun had gone back to bed and the curtain had fallen on the glory and all that remained were the pre-dawn grey cloudy skies.

So, now you may ask what God was saying in this... I'm not totally sure, except it felt like a gift to watch this wonderful work of nature unfold before my very eyes. Am I ever glad I woke up when I heard the voice!
Wishing you glimpses of heaven,

Linking with Friday Skywatch

Thursday, August 13, 2009

We Got Mail!

2009 by Brenda Colleen Leyland

There was a nice surprise in the mailbox this afternoon. No, not money, although that shows up unexpectedly sometimes too.

Today I found a copy of a small devotional book sent from Briercrest, the college I attended a long time a
go. Last year they had contacted me, as an alumni, to see if I would consider contributing a short meditation for the book which would be later given to current students.

So today it arrived..... with my piece in it. A small step perhaps, but for me it's meaningful. Because, ever since I came back from the writing conference in Red Deer with Don and Jon Nori of Destiny Image, I've been feeling like I'm standing on the edge of something new. And if I don't spread my tiny wings and start to fly, I have the feeling that God himself may push me out of the comfort of my little nest!

This particular piece isn't posted anywhere else, but there is a version of it available at InScribe if you are interested in reading further.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Treasury of Heart Quotes

2009 by Brenda Colleen Leyland

I just happened upon a treasury of heart quotes on-line. People do say the most amazing and insightful things. Here are three that spoke to me as I browsed. For more, click here for the link.

"Sometimes someone says something really small, and it just fits right into this empty place in your hear
t." ~My So-Called Life

"Remember to be gentle with yourself and others. We are all children of chance, and none can say why some fields will blossom while others lay brown beneath the August sun. Care for those around you. Look past your differences. Their dreams are no less than yours, their choices in life no more easily made. And give. Give in any way you can, of whatever you possess. To give is to love. To withhold is to wither. Care less for your harvest than for how it is shared, and your life will having meaning and your heart will have peace." ~ Kent Nerburn

And this one's for you, my dear blogging friends:

"A part of you has grown in me. And so you see, it's you and me together forever and never apart, maybe in distance, but never in heart." ~ Brooke Zuroweste


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Phantom Rhubarb Muffins

I wish I could post the delicious aroma wafting up from my kitchen just now. Phantom rhubarb muffins are cooling on the rack.

Believe me, whoever decided to call them 'phantom' muffins certainly knew what they were talking about. For if you're not careful, before you can truly savor that warm cinnamon and nutty fragrance, the whole batch disappears.... poof.... just like that. Yum!

The recipe is posted here.

I best go and guard my fair share...

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Kitten and the Rest of the Story

2009 by Brenda Colleen Leyland

The mystery has been solved about the little orange kitten that hooked up with us earlier in the week.

Yes, th
e neighbour family did go away on holidays, and they had someone coming in to feed and look after the cats. And, yes, Kitten, as we were informed later, was well able to get into and out of the cat door so she hadn't been accidentally locked out.

So why did she follow us in such a desperate way on Monday evening? And yowl outside her front door for a couple of days? Well, she probably was lonely for starters. But, looking back, I remembered when she came to us she was limping on three legs, so perhaps she had scaled the high fence out of her yard, but then couldn't get back in. And now she stranded...and hungry!

The fellow who had been looking after her didn't see my note on the front door till the end of the week, so I was thinking no one was coming by, but he said he'd been by, so he probably went to the back door. And later in the week, when Kitten's leg was better she seemed quite able to climb fences -- and trees -- without too much trouble.

So that's that! I can relax ...... she's home, safe and happy. I saw her this afternoon, busy at play with her family.

was reminded of a very important lesson in all this. Never assume anything until you learn both sides of the story. I was glad I had held my judgment! I kept reminding myself there had to be a reasonable explanation, and as it turned out, there was!

A purr-fect ending!

Friday, August 07, 2009

Miniature Scrapbooks by Taylor Hagerty

I'm excited about a book I found quite by 'accident' at the library yesterday. I went looking for something quite different (found that), and as I was ambling down the aisle towards the checkout, my eyes were captivated by the cover of...

Miniature Scrapbooks, Small Treasures to Make in a Day by Taylor Hagerty

And it is a treasure! Filled with photographs of the creative artwork of at least 30 designers, as well as the instructions on how to design them for yourself, whether or not you ever decide to make your own scrapbook, it's a work of art in itself.

I enjoy scrapbooking and calligraphy, both creative hobbies I have done little with in recent days. But seeing this wonderful book by various individuals like Susan Rios, April Cornell, and Eileen Cannon Paulin, I'm totally inspired to play at something new and wonderful.

Here are a few themes to whet your appetite. The possibilities are limitless. You could make a miniature scrapbook about your kids, pets, friends, favourite authors or books, inspiring quotes, favourite shops, favourite flowers, weddings, private emotions, mini music book, just to name a few.

Miniature scrapbooks are just that -- a scrapbook effort in miniature. As Taylor Hagerty tells us, "Their size makes them easier and faster to make and much less expensive than traditional scrapbooking... They are a perfect way to express special thoughts and feelings and the smaller size is ideal for creating an intimate experience for the reader."

Doesn't that sound fun? Maybe I'll do a mini scrapbook about blogging.
Wishing you a beautiful day,

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Out of the Blue

2009 by Brenda Colleen Leyland

HAVE YOU EVER RECEIVED a call 'out of the blue' and it was an old friend come to town and she was hoping you'd be free for lunch? Or you found a note and small wrapped package on your desk and it wasn't even your birthday?

Suddenly your quite ordinary day takes a delightful turn for the beautiful.

An 'out of
the blue' idea doesn't have to cost much more than a postage stamp. It can be a spur-of-the-moment tea party with your 5-year-old, a single rose from your garden, or a pretty little book tied with colourful yarn. Even a humorous note dashed off to a former school chum reminding her of some shared incident from bygone days.

I looked up the words whim, whimsical, whimsy. These are all described as an action or decision that is spontaneous, imaginative or playful. It's easy to get into a rut and be quite militant about getting our 'to-do' lists completed. But, isn't it all a lot more fun when we do some
thing playful and spontaneous right in the middle of it all?

It's the surpr
ise---the sense of whimsy---that makes our actions special. Give and it shall be given. Why not do something unexpected for someone and watch it come back into your own life....right out of the blue!

Update ---- We're still looking after the neighbour's little orange kitten ---- she's getting used to us and I'm totally smitten by her quick and playful ways.

Alas, Miss Kitty has been feeling less enthusiastic. She's stopped hissing when the kitty is around, but now's she's taken to hiding under the skirted chair in our bedroom and wears a sad expression on her face. So as soon as I get off my computer, I'm going to treat her to her special pets with the knobby glove which she adores.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Wednesday Whatnot

2009 by Brenda Colleen Leyland

1. Temperature last night was near freezing -- WHAT!!! Yes, this morning the air feels quite like September's. I love that crisp feeling, but I was hoping for a few more 'dog-days of summer'. I still have limes to muddle into Cuban mojitos!

2. We're in the midst of working on the August edition of our Mary Kay Directors' newsletter. So I need to stay focussed on that today.

3. No sign of anyone coming yet to the neighbour's house to check up on things, so Kitten, as we've dubbed my little orange waif, is still under our watchful eye. With belly filled, she was content to snooze awhile on my computer chair again this morning. She's back outside chasing flies and whatever else catches her quick eye.

4. According to Leonardo da Vinci, the smallest feline is a masterpiece. And I agree.

On that note, I best be off.......

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Little Orange Kitten

2009 by Brenda Colleen Leyland

We've been tending a little orange kitten since yesterday evening when she followed us into the house sounding desperate. When I gave her a tin of kitty food, she gobbled it right up, so she hadn't eaten in a while. I've seen her before so I assumed she belonged somewhere nearby, but didn't know where

After some inquiries it turns out she belongs to a family that recently moved into our neighbourhood. Apparently they went away on holidays and someone is supposed to be looking after their cats. And, from one neighbour, apparentl
y these folks have a cat door and so that's probably how this little one got out of the house. There's no way to get in the backyard as they have a high fence, so we can't even show her the door, if that's how she got out.

So how long has Kitten been stranded outside? I've no idea, and it bothers me that I haven't seen anyone around. I left a note on the d
oor and hopefully the babysitter will come by this evening!!

I brought Kitten home with me, much to Miss Kitty's hissy disgust (she's now under the bed).

You'll be interested to know where the 'intruder' settled for a nap ..... on Miss Kitty's favourite spot ..... my computer chair!

There, that's what's on my mind today.......... I'll keep you posted as to developments!