Wednesday, August 31, 2011

And the #1 Winner Is....




Congratulations to You, Matty!
The House in Bloom 
is YOURS !



Thanks to EVERYONE who joined in the 'bloomin' giveaway this week.
It was lovely to read your comments.




As a consolation prize to everyone who did not win
here's a wee peek at a few of its lovely pages...













Wishing you all glimpses of heaven in unexpected places!
Brenda
xox





Monday, August 29, 2011

Can't Sleep? A Book Giveaway


 

Do you wake up in the middle of the night and can't fall back asleep? Then you might enjoy winning this journal I'm planning to give away I Can't Sleep by Knock Knock.

We've all probably experienced sleepless nights, when the sandman seems to have missed our house. I've learned over the years not to get agitated when I wake up at two in the morning.

Although not sleeping at night isn't a fun thing to experience too often, I'm hoping that this giveaway for this journal will be a way to add a touch of lightness to dark hours of the night. 


The book include lots of fun quotes like this: "No human being believes that any other human being has a right to be in bed when he himself is up." ~ Robert Lynd

There are lots of lined pages to jot your own reasons for why you can't sleep tonight. Or to capture the bright ideas that sometimes show up when we're not in the middle of our day's tasks.

 Giveaway now closed.

Wishing you a sleepy success!
Brenda
xox

PS. You might want to check out my posting Tips For Sleepless Nights for some ways you can make your 'awake' time more peaceful and less stressed.





Saturday, August 27, 2011

Book Bliss




Oh joy...oh bliss...oh books !


Our local library hosted its annual book sale last weekend. Friend Ruth and I planned a date as one of our all-time favourite shared pursuits is browsing used book shops.

We were both in our element. With no other agenda for the evening, no set time frame of when we had to be out, we perused to our heart's content.

I did set myself a budget for my purchases -- I mean you can buy a small stack of books when hardcovers are a dollar and paperbacks are fifty-cents. I started with a $10 limit but I soon upped the ante when I saw how quickly I was filling my book bag! Although I went over my not-at-all-set-in-stone budget (ha ha), I had nary a thought for guilt... nor did I wonder where on earth I was going to stash them all.




I went back the next day and found ANOTHER bagful of 'got-to read this' which brought the total to about 26. Now you're not going to believe this but...

Earlier this week (after the sale) I stopped at the library to return a book I'd borrowed. And what to my wondering eye did I see? But staff setting out the 'remains of the day'. These they were giving away FREE! Of course I stopped to see... and found another 6-7 books I was drawn to pick up and bring home. Almost like stray kittens, you can't leave them to languish now, can you!! 

 


Here are a just a few titles of my new-found treasures:




Non-Fiction

How Ballroom Dancing Saved My Life
by Janet Carlson, 2008

by Sister Wendy Beckett, 2006

Developing Your Influence from Anywhere in the Organization
by John C. Maxwell, 2005

by WiTold Gombrowicz, 2004
(20th Century Polish novelist, essayist, playwright)

The Writing Life
Ellen Gilchrist, 2005

Knit Together
Discover God's Pattern for Your Life
Debbie Macomber, 2007

So Many Books, So Little Time
A Year of Passionate Reading
Sara Nelson, 2003

Resilience
Reflections on the Burdens and Gifts of Facing Life's Adversities
Elizabeth Edwards, 2009

May I Have This Dance
An Invitation to Faithful Prayer Throughout the Year
Joyce Rupp, 1992

All the Presidents' Pastries
Twenty-Five Years in the White House (Memoir)
Roland Mesnier, 2007



Children's

Charlotte in Giverny
Joan MacPhail Knight, 2000

An Acceptable Time
Madeleine L'Engle, 1989

Stuart Little
E.B. White, 1945




Novels

Gertrude E. Finney 1955

A Novel about Mary Todd and Abraham Lincoln
by Irving Stone, 1954

Tea Time for the Traditionally Built
The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency 
Alexander McCall Smith, 2009
(and 4 others of the same series)

Introducing Brother Cadfael
Ellis Peters, 1988



DVD's
Almost the complete series of
with Dame Judi Dench and Geoffrey Palmer



How's that for a full cupboard?
Brenda
xox






Friday, August 26, 2011

You're On My Mind - Storms


Christ in the Storm on the Lake of Galilee. 1633




I've been catching some of the news of the hurricane's path up the Caribbean, the eastern side of the USA, possibly into Canada. And since it keeps coming to my mind to pray, that's what I've been doing today.

A long time ago, Jesus Himself faced storms on the Sea of Galilee and He had the authority to speak PEACE and STILLNESS to them. I believe that as He is the same yesterday, today and always, we can tune into that same power and authority if we know Him personally...and to ask for the same for this storm.

We ask God for protection and safety, freedom from fear, and a sense of His Peace in the midst of it. May you hear His voice speaking inside you to warn and protect and pray.

For those of us who know 11 Chronicles 7:14 from the Old Testament, "If My people who are called by My name shall humble themselves and pray..." click here for a short video with it playing.

There's an exhilarating thrill for those who love Storming Chasing ... and I totally understand that. But I'd love to experience that same exhilaration by being a 'Storm Changer'!

Hugs,
Brenda 





Thursday, August 25, 2011

Giveaway #2 - Something Pink




Presenting...

From my own linen cupboard

The Pink Rose Needlework Pillowcase






Years ago I fell in love with this beautiful rose-stitched lace-edged pillow covering.  In fact I loved it so much I bought more than one so I could give them as gifts to my mom and aunty.   I loved using it in my rose-burgundy living room.  As time passed, I married and moved and our home's color scheme changed.  Although I let go of other rosy items, I could never quite let go of this rose!

Until Now...



Because I've met so many bloggers these past three years who, I know,
would LOVE it as I have done...


That's why I decided to offer it
in today's giveaway.


    






Giveaway Now Closed



Wishing you a rosy-hued success
Brenda
 











Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Giveaway: The House in Bloom


   We're celebrating our third anniversary of
It's A Beautiful Life



When I started blogging in August 2008
I challenged myself to do 100 posts in 100 days.
It was my way of becoming more consistent with my writing.
I'm happy to report, it worked!

N O W...

For all you lovely kindred spirits
who also appreciate Beauty and Victoria magazine's overall theme
  to 'return to loveliness'
I am DELIGHTED to give away...



decorating with floral themes
by Judy Spours and The Editors of Victoria Magazine, 2002



"House in Bloom celebrates the country garden as it appears inside the home, as the inspiration for fabrics and painted ceramics, in the colors used to decorate walls and furniture, and in numerous decorative accessories."


"Chapter by chapter, this book shows how the natural world can be reflected inside your home... Take your inspiration from the brilliant shades of summer flowers, from the subtle tones of fall foliage, from the textures of the garden and meadow... ."





Giveaway Now Closed



Wishing you a bloomin' success!
Brenda
xox






Monday, August 22, 2011

Monday Mirth


Source
 She who laughs,
L A S T S!

Some things are just too doggone funny not to share. Which is why I'm passing along this Surfing English Bulldog link from YouTube. Not only is it fun to watch, but you get to tap your feet to Surfin' USA with the Beach Boys.

Hope you get the giggles and have a good snort too!
Happy Day,
Brenda
xox




 

Friday, August 19, 2011

A Little Tulle...A Little Tissue

Tulle and tissue flowers

Do you remember when, long before the days of silk flowers, people often made their own paper carnations from Kleenex tissues? Talk about a project that also kept little girls -- and big ones too -- occupied for long afternoons... well, maybe as long as tissues kept pulling up from the box.  But then, of course, you could play wedding and 'decorate' to your heart's content.

Kate at Greedy for Color has taken these little tissue flowers out of the ordinary right up into elegant by fashioning them from tulle and tissue paper. She shares a tutorial on how you can make them.

Wouldn't these be fun to do with young daughters, nieces or granddaughters? They'd make pretty favors for princess birthday parties or summer teas in the garden, not to mention as bows atop packages or greeting card envelopes.


Here's to a little whimsy and creativity,
Brenda







Tips For Sleepless Nights



Here are some things that help me make my 'awake' time more beautiful and peaceful:

  • Don't fret that you're awake. I refuse to worry about how I'll feel in the morning, because no matter what, God said He'd give me new mercies every day - I figure that includes energy for what I need to do in the morning.
  • Enjoy the quiet of the night.  In the summer time, it's amazing how early the robins start up their morning vespers (between 3:30 and 4:00 am).
  • Read a little. Something from my current book, nothing requiring too close thinking. Maybe a Psalm that comforts or gives peace.
  • Journal about what's on your mind. Sometimes all I'll do is jot a list of things that start nattering as soon as I'm conscious. (These natterings are a little like in the cartoon where the pet jumps on the bed to pull open the owner's eyelids -- hey, are you awake in there?)
  • Pray. For yourself, for the people on your mind. Ask God to protect them as they sleep.
  • Make a piece of toast. It smells comforting when the rest of the world snores away (especially if the night isn't feeling particularly friendly, which sometimes it does not).
  • Check your blog or Facebook. This is not to while away time restlessly, but to see if someone has posted something that will soothe your 'fevered brow'. Post your own soothing message for other insomniacs.You'll be amazed at how many other nocturnal un-sleeping friends you'll see!
  • Leave a soft light on. Sometimes I 'trick' myself by leaving the lamp on as if I'm going to read. Funny how quickly my eyes get the desire to close. Just try to stay awake, and the next thing you feel the book slipping from your hand as you nod off.


With a gentle kiss atop thy head,
Brenda
xox





Thursday, August 18, 2011

Brass Polishing Moments and Other Nuances



Hmm... I wonder how much brass there is to polish in this particular theatre?
Where I work isn't quite so fancy!


With hands busy polishing brass -- and there's quite a lot of it -- in the theatre of our local performing arts centre this past week, my mind and body also enjoyed the process of seeing railings dull with fingerprints begin to gleam and glisten again.

As you might imagine, the house lights in any performance theatre usually aren't the brightest bulbs in the pack, so I wondered how I would know in those dim corners when the brass railings were polished enough.  It turns out there's a specific moment when the resistance of the cloth against the metal shifts and you feel as if it is gliding on ice.  And, sure enough when I peer close, the brass is so shiny I can see my face in it.

Do you remember when your mother or grandmother -- maybe you do it now to your daughters and granddaughters -- used to say, after you'd query how much flour exactly do you put into the mixing bowl when preparing bread or perogy dough....Just until it feels right.  Oh boy, yes, but when is that magic moment?  How will I know?  And the response comes back ... You'll know.  (Mmmm, it seems to be the same less than satisfying answer a young woman receives when she begins to ponder how she will know if he's the right one.)

You just know sometimes.  Other times it comes from experience. And practice. And being aware. Totally Present. To What You Are Doing. In The Moment. No matter how detailed the recipe, no matter how complete the directions or explanations, those almost inexplicable nuances and shades of recognizing the magic moment must come to each one individually.  And they do. If we're watching for them. 

I didn't realize polishing brasses could be so entertaining...and rewarding.  But it really is fun to see dullness turn shiny. This morning one of the theatre technicians came bounding up the stairs to his perch in the loft, just as I was putting the final rub on the stair rail.  I could see he was wondering (maybe he was mischievously tempted) if he should put his hand on it; I piped up that a person should let it shine at least three minutes before marring the gleam with a new fingerprint.  He asked if that's what it said on the can... I quipped, 'Yes'.  (I think he believed me, because he pulled his arms close to himself as he flew up the stairs).

So that's what's been meandering along the furrows and brass railings of my own mind early this morning.  If there's a lesson in it, I guess it would be to be present to what you're doing, give the bits of your life beauty by enjoying them, watch for the subtle shifts and changes around you.  Because you'll never know when you'll catch glimpses of heaven in unexpected places -- shiny moments filling your life with new layers of richness, joy and fun.





Enjoy your moments, nuances and bits today,
Brenda
xox





Friday, August 12, 2011

One's Best Work




My hands were in warm, sudsy dishwater.  My eyes were gazing out into the garden.  Thoughts were kinda mindless ... when out of the blue, words started flowing up from inside me--smooth and light-- and I realized Someone was speaking to me.  On a topic I wasn't even thinking about.

Hands dried off, I grabbed a pencil so I wouldn't miss my moment with the Divine:

I AM creating something in you that will last for all eternity, so I don't mind taking some earth time to do it -- even if it takes years.  You see in earth years, I see eternity years. So rest. Be at peace if you think something is taking too long.  I AM working.  Doing One's best work takes time.
  
Just now as I key in those words, I hear a PS ... I'm not afraid of the time it takes. Don't be afraid either. 

Yesterday I happened to see a book at the library by John C. Maxwell entitled Go for Gold: Inspiration to Increase Your Leadership Impact. I was amazed to find John saying something similar in his introductory note:
"We live in a time of instant gratification.  If we want to read a book or listen to music, we download it in a matter of minutes.  If we're hungry, we order food and it arrives at our door.....Unfortunately, we expect the same kind of speed when it comes to personal growth.  We want it to be just as quick and easy.  It will never happen.

If you want to become a better leader (person), you need to give up a microwave mentality.  Forget speed and become like a Crock-Pot.  Personal growth takes time.  It takes seasoning.  And it requires heat.  It's slow, but like something cooked in a Crock-Pot, it's worth waiting for! ...
You cannot become a great leader overnight, but you can become a better leader day by day."

I think I got the message.... whew... the pressure is off.  Trying to think I have to get it perfect the first time is so wearing on one's mind and body. Growing takes times. I see the lily's example in my garden every time I'm out there.

I feel lighter and freer. The funny thing is I didn't even know I was 'stewing' about how long 'it' was taking.

Here's wishing you grace for the journey!

Hugs to you all,
Brenda
xox

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Joy-Coloured Snippets







SNIPPETS
that have joy-coloured my world today

  • Watching a young robin discover his new world as he explores the backyard.

  • Sitting in a sunbeam at the library dreaming up my next 4 article titles for my blogging column in FellowScript (our writers fellowship quarterly newsletter). The reason for the joy?  They're for the 2012 issues.... which means I'm almost 5 months ahead of the game!  For moi, that's actually more than a snippet!

  • A line from William Wordsworth that made me think Oh that's exactly how I felt when I was six or seven or eight'Sweet childish days, that were as long as twenty days are now.'

  • British actor Jeremy Irons eloquently reading what is probably William Wordsworth's most famous piece, Daffodils.

  • Since we're now chatting about Jeremy Irons, I loved him when he played Charles Ryder in the 1981 series Brideshead Revisited (Castle Howard used in the filming). I love the scene where Charles and Sebastian drive out into the English countryside one early morning and they end up pulling off the road to eat strawberries and drink wine under a huge tree.  Another favorite is when Charles spends an idyllic summer at Brideshead with Sebastian who's  injured his foot.


On that note, I'm wishing you your own joy-coloured snippets
and idyllic summer afternoons!

Brenda
xox







Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Pocket-Size Pleasures


Emily Fragos, Editor


As soon as I went inside, I saw it! Reposing on the 'New Acquisitions' shelf near the library entrance, sat the prettiest and tiniest of books. Having a penchant for books that fit comfortably in a hand or purse, I had to see what it was about.

Slightly larger than a 4 x 6 index card, I was delighted to find a new Pocket Poet edition of Emily Dickinson's remarkable letters. And since I'd never read any of her letters, I considered it a perfect find for my summer reading.

"(This) 'selection of letters provides a fuller picture of the eccentric recluse of legend, showing how immersed in life she was: we see her tending her garden; baking bread; marking the marriages, births, and deaths of those she loved; reaching out for intellectual companionship; and confessing her personal joys and sorrows. These letters, invaluable for the light they shed on their author, are, as well, a pure pleasure to read.' excerpt from amazon.com





Here are a few pocket-size snippets for your pocket-size pondering:


"Truth is such a rare thing, it is delightful to tell it."


"I find ecstasy in living; the mere sense of living is joy enough."


"Love makes us 'heavenly' without our trying in the least."


"A death-blow is a life blow to some
Who, till they died, did not alive become;
Who, had they lived, had died, but when
They died, vitality begun."



Any pocket-size pleasures for you today?
Brenda









Thursday, August 04, 2011

Oh My...


A Summery Shot from our Vacation in B.C.


We're back from holidays. This week has been a time of catch up in the garden, doing laundry and grocery shopping, not to mention finishing up and sending off to my editor a 1400-word article (about blogging) for a writers' publication that comes out this fall.
 
Which makes it feel like the summer is flying by far too quickly for me.  Couldn't believe the calendar when it said August 1st!  I meant to jump back into my 'regular' blogging schedule when we turned the calendar, but here it is the 4th already.

This month marks my 3rd blogiversary, and I want to host a giveaway or two this month as well as get back to the great pleasure of visiting you all more regularly and leaving 'footprints' in your comment boxes. I've been missing you!  Always I have a chair for you in the smallest parlor in the world, to wit, my heart. (Emily Dickinson)

Apparently our region is in for some heat over the next few days.  Yaaah....that means we'll be sipping mojitos as we savor the delicious contrast of sultry afternoons with iced glasses of lime and mint mixed with a splash of rum!  (Click on the link here and you'll find a great recipe of this amazing Cuban drink.



As quoted by Brandy, "This is an authentic recipe for mojito. I sized the recipe for one serving, but you can adjust it accordingly and make a pitcher full. It's a very refreshing drink for hot summer days. Be careful when drinking it, however. If you make a pitcher you might be tempted to drink the whole thing yourself, and you just might find yourself talking Spanish in no time!

I'm off in a while to pick up friends at the airport who've been doing the Grand Tour in Europe this summer.  I can hardly wait to hear their stories. I'll leave you with a few more summery thoughts.



 Some Summery Thoughts

Time you enjoyed wasting, was not wasted.
~ John Lennon
There is more to life than increasing its speed.
~ Gandhi

If you don't start out the day with a smile,
it's not too late to start practicing for tomorrow.
~ Anonymous

Rest is not idleness...
listening to the murmur of water
or watching the clouds float across the sky
is hardly a waste of time.
~ John Lubbock





Happy Day to you,
Brenda
xox