Friday, August 30, 2013

The Present Moment



"You do not need to know precisely what is happening, or exactly where it is all going. What you need is to recognize the possibilities and challenges offered by the present moment, and to embrace them with courage, faith and hope..." ~ Thomas Merton

With wishes for a joy-filled day,
Brenda
xox






Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Celebrating Everyday Life


 Celebrating Everyday Life with Jennifer Carroll
The September/October issue is out!

I didn't know this delightful magazine existed until Penni @ Comforts of Home recently highlighted it -- her recipe Potato Cheddar Corn Chowder won the contest to be featured in this issue. Congrats to you, Penni!

 


I splurged and just bought my online copy -- it's available to buy as a digital, tablet or print copy.  The video above gives a nice overview.

Oh my....it's lovely! Lots of gorgeous photography, and it's filled with all manner of wonderful ways to celebrate the upcoming season. Plus, I'm excited to see an interview with Mary Englebreit, as she's one of my all-time favourite artists and designers.

On that note, check it out and enjoy the rest of your day!




 







Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Gift from the Garden


Some dear friends stopped by to drop off a freshly-picked bouquet of petaled sunshine from the garden. Even though I've shared sunflowers just a few days ago, I cannot not use this as a blogging opp today! Don't you just love these colours?


In our kitchen there hangs a wonderful modern painting in sea greens and blues -- it seems to have created the perfect background for these beauties.


Now...wouldn't Vincent Van Gogh have fun with these lovelies? He created several versions of sunflower paintings in his day.

I wish I was a painter... but my fingers are more at home with a pen in them than a paintbrush.  Naybe when I get to heaven and have a few eons to practice...maybe then. In the meantime, I'm very happy for cameras that allow us to share the wealth.


Have you ever noticed that God seems to be as detailed and meticulous on the 'back' of his handiwork as he is on the front? Truly, a master Craftsman and Designer.

Mmmm... I wouldn't want to show you the back of my needlework... I never did get the real knack of making the stitches as neat on the backside as the front.

So there it is... 
Another glimpse of beauty from nature's bounty!

Hugs,
Brenda
xox





Monday, August 26, 2013

Beauty In The Detours


I was driving home from the city one day and turned off the highway one exit too soon. Groan and rats in a poke! I soon found myself zooming out into the countryside. Rather than heading nearer to home, where my tired self was longing to be lounging on the deck that warm day, I was going farther away.

Traffic roared confidently past, as my mind decided whether I should turn back or just keep going, since many roads around here eventually lead to Rome home. I kept going.

Rather than become agitated at the detour in my plans...let's just say I remembered I had a choice about it... and so I embraced the unexpected turn of events, allowed my eyes to feast on green, grassy fields of hay, and enjoy rustic farm yards crowned with some interesting old barns, all the while wending my way home a new way.

Making a wrong turn that day was mildly inconvenient. Nothing serious, just a change in direction.  But as I drove I thought about detours and side trips in our lives that we never meant to go on and how we wish we could get off that bumpy, unpaved trail, and start again. In God's world, I don't think our detours and side trips (aka mistakes) upset him as much as they do us. Our road trips of life are only mistakes dead ends when we make a decision to give up, put the car in park, and refuse to travel further.

Even if we find ourselves totally lost, the beauty of knowing Someone who is good at reading our 'road maps' and knows the way Home means we can relax a little. We can see it as an adventure. Yes, it may be uncomfortable, scary even, but if we can find the beauty, maybe one day we'll find ourselves grateful for the experience and cherish the lessons learned from the detour.

As we probably won't pass this way again, why not take note of the memories, lest we arrive at Point B without any stories to tell or blog posts to write.
 
 Wishing you grace for the journey!
Hugs,
Brenda
xox



Saturday, August 24, 2013

Simply Knowing Is Not Enough


'There comes a time when simply knowing truth will no longer satisfy. If it does not change circumstances for good, what good is it?' ~Bill Johnson, author, speaker, pastor

Narrowing the Gap.  Simply knowing about a truth or good idea is not enough.  How many of your aha moments have actually changed your life in some way?  Or brought you closer to a desired result?  Lots?  Some?  Fewer than you thought?

We all get excited with a new idea or insight, but the trouble is that sometimes we're a little weak in the follow through. (Maybe I'm just assuming and should speak for myself.)

The gap between what we believe and what we experience is a lot wider than we'd hoped for.  Perhaps we've picked up the idea that just knowing the truth will somehow magically bring about the desired change.

But a new idea is just a seed, and like any other seed, it's got to be planted and watered before it will root, grow and produce a harvest.

We may have read a lot of great books, listened to inspiring speakers, or written reams of notes, but they won't do any good UNTIL we take the first step to do something with it.

So...think of one truth or idea you thought would change your life in some way but it hasn't (yet).

Is there a tiny step you could take today to bring about a change you desire in your situation, health, relationship, or job?

Here's wishing you a great day,
Brenda



Photo source:  morguefile.com



Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Breathing English Air


Blogging friends like Tracey and Cornish Cream breathe English air every day, taking in the beauty of their own gardens and countryside.  

Others of us dream over photo-laden magazines of this lovely corner of the world.  And then we sigh.

I've been to England once a long time ago. Loved my all-too-short visit. Ever since, it has been my coveted desire to return with hubby in tow and find a nice place to stay awhile. To take in deep draughts of English air, maybe call on a blogging friend or two, share a nice cuppa and go for tours in English country gardens or drive through sheep-fielded countryside.  I've got a long list of must-visits, places like Oxford and Devon and Cornwall and Grasmere and....

In the meantime, thanks to Victoria (Sept 2013 issue) and The English Home (Sept/Oct 2013), we are 'celebrating the essence of English style' right in my own Canadian flavoured corner.  And we're enjoying it almost as much as being there...well, almost!



Oh, before I forget, if you love the Victoria magazine (both the classic and the new versions), you may be happy to learn that there is a two-DVD set being offered--which includes all 278 issues, from 1987-2012.  How's that for bliss!

I still have my paper copies from Day One, but it still might be great to own a set. And, for any of you who regret being over-zealous one day and have cleared them off your shelves, this is your chance to make it up! Here's the link.


Now, if that isn't already enough, there's more that I'm excited about.  It really is 'breathe English air' day. Susan Branch's newest book has just been released. And guess what, it's called A Fine Romance:  Falling in love with the English Countryside.

Brenda at Coffeeteabooksandme has written a lovely review which includes glorious glimpses of the inside of the book. Heads up, if you want to order, you could use Brenda's Amazon Associates link (which blesses her). You can tell her I sent you.

Now, I'm sending you my wishes for a joy-filled rest of the day! 

Hugs,
Brenda
xox









Monday, August 19, 2013

Simple Woman's Daybook



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

Outside my window...grey clouds scudded by earlier this morning, now blue skies and foufy white clouds sail past as if they have places to go and people to see.

I am thinking...how blessed I am to have a  hubby who never minds getting in the kitchen to mix up a batch of oatmeal raisin muffins -- something for our breakfast tomorrow. 

I am thankful...for said hubby...see above!

In the kitchen...Spent the morning puttering. Let's see, first we cleared out some out-of-date things from the frig (ew, no they weren't green or fuzzy, but high time for the compost).  Then we got out the ingredients to make chicken stock and get it simmering.

Which then became chicken noodle soup...with a twist...for lunch. Included in the soup were the usual suspects of carrot, celery, onion, parsley and chicken pieces. Instead of long noodles, we used elbow macroni, and to that we added a can of chickpeas, freshly chopped dill, green onions and garden peas.  Oh yes, I fried up a couple slices of pepper bacon and cut that into tiny strips, which added a slightly smoky, peppery flavour. (I told you it was chicken noodle soup with a twist). Paired with a crusty bun, both hubby and I smacked our lips with satisfaction at the mix of flavour, texture, and colour.

I am wearing...a longish sleeveless tunic with floral-like swirls of violet, sea-green and white set off with bold strokes of black (kind of reminds me of stained glass). It's long enough to be a dress on a hot day or paired with slim leggings on a cool one.  Or, in my case, I tend to wear lots of sleeveless, warm or cool, so today it's a dress sans leggings.  

I am creating...this posting right now and another one about wrong turns that I started I few days ago and which we'll post soon. 

I am going...to prepare a new dish for dinner tonight...Thai chicken and pineapple stir fry. As it's a bit coolish for sitting on the deck (all that scudding and speed traveling of those earlier clouds are now replaced with rainy grey ones...wait, wait, well now they're blue again...oh my...the vista keeps changing every time I peer out the window).

We're going to eat it in front of the television (gasp) and watch the PBS mystery we taped...there's a clue of what era I come from.  Did anyone see The Lady Vanishes last night?

I am wondering...what time is it... seems I've been pencil chewing typing here for ages. 

I am reading...
Daphne du Maurier, A Daughter's Memoir, by Flavia Leng. A treasure find at the recent annual library book sale for 50 cents!  Enjoying the look at du Maurier's family as seen through her middle daughter's eyes. They grew up in the house that inspired the book Rebecca... cool!  (Now I want to read the book again or watch the movie.)

The Shelter of Each Other, Rebuilding Our Families, by Mary Pipher, Ph.D. Also a treasure find this past weekend. Ever since I first read about this book in an old issue of Victoria magazine, I wanted to read it. And now I can, and all for the staggering price of 50 cents.  My first taste of her writing and I think I'm going to enjoy it.

Writing Along and With Others, Pat Schneider (e-book). A new author to me, but I like her already. Ms. Schneider shares some interesting things that not only work for writers...topics like dealing with the inner critic and finding one's voice and not being afraid to be true to it...stuff many of us deal with at some point. She's got a new book out that I'm interested in checking out.  It's about writing as spiritual practice, How the Light Gets In.  More things to read....it's such a hard life for a reader!

I am hoping...to sit here long enough that amiable hubby will start clattering the pots and pans in the kitchen so I can finish this up....bent ear... nope... it's quiet. He did chop the garlic and ginger earlier, I always tell him he's my sous chef, as he's marvelous and patient with chopping it into the teeniest of pieces.  Not me...chop chop...in the pot. 

I am looking forward to...beginning a new writing adventure in a couple of weeks. I start an online memoir writing course Toward Completion: Memoir Writing with author and book editor Lisa Dale Norton of the Santa Fe Writing Institute.  I first 'met' Lisa through her book, Shimmering Images, A Handy Little Guide to Writing Memoir and when I went in search of her website and we emailed abit about the course, I knew I wanted to take Lisa's class.   

I am learning...something about my writing self I never saw before. It comes from working on two articles I'm doing for a writer's award with my writers' fellowship. Will share more later.

Around the house...(sounds) Beethoven playing on the radio and adding a classical touch to my perfectly ordinary day. (smells) homemade rye bread just baked...oh yes, I forgot to say I put bread to rise earlier, and now muffins just being brought out of the oven.  

I am pondering...why my behind is getting antsy and my tummy is rumbling and that maybe it's time to start supper and wrap this thing up (LOL)!

A favorite quote for today...comes from one of my mom's childhood stories. As a young girl and learning to cook, one day she proudly says to her older brother as he's wolfing down whatever she's prepared, "I made that up from my head."  In true brotherly fashion, he replied, "It tastes like it."  Don't ask why, but this makes us giggle every time it comes up in our 'remember when' conversations.  It's become one of those metaphoric code words within the family. 

One of my favorite things...is when the day has a tranquil sense that starts first thing in the morning....where one is free to carry on those everyday jobs peacefully and with cheer in one's heart...where little projects and potterings get done with ease and no sense of hurry, pressure or frustration.  Today has been such a day. 

A few plans for the rest of the week...finish writing tweeking two pieces that will go along with an application I'm putting in for our writing fellowship's Barnabas Award. Due by the end of August.   

A photo peek into my day...Here's a look at the house that inspired Manderley in Daphne du Maurier's book, Rebecca. Now, I'd love a 'peek' into Rebecca's morning room... that was the room that 'haunted' me the most when I first read the book as a young woman. I wanted a room just like that. Except I wondered if I'd be a little afraid to have everything that perfect. I hope it's in the plan... for methinks my dream of my ideal writing room is still connected to that room. (And no, there will be no invitation extended to Danvers!)

I could live here...how about you?

   Photo source: telegraph.co.uk


It's been a joy sitting here writing and think about things today.
Hope you find some of your own enjoyment in reading my ramblings.

Now...here's wishing you a beautiful rest of the day!

Hugs,
Brenda
xox



Saturday, August 10, 2013

Sensory Delights



There is nothing quite like freshly picked green beans for supper.

Unless it's first catching that earthy smell that wafts noseward when you snap off the bean tips. Such a summery smell. And don't you just love the crispy snap they make when you break them?  It's such a satisfying s.n.a.p.

Other summer pleasures...lightly running my fingertips across feathery tomato leaves, rosemary stalks or soft Greek oregano. I admit to liking the pungency marigolds blossoms leave behind when they are deadheaded.

As for sweetness, there is nothing so soft and lovely as violets or pansies. One must lean in close to catch their whispery fragrance.

My little bouquet of summer...

Now, what's your sensory delight today?
Brenda


 
Photo source: morguefile.com





Friday, August 09, 2013

Don't Rob Yourself

 
Don't rob yourself of joy by doing something
'just to get it done'.


Rick and I were coming home from work earlier this morning and saw a few people looking determined to get their walking exercise in early and get it behind them. I'm thinking what a waste of time, energy and a lost opportunity to look at the world around you for something nice to enjoy.

How many times have I done that in my life, unaware when I was either feeling a little sorry for myself, muttering it wasn't fair, or just trying to get it over with, so I could move to something more pleasant. Missing the moment I was in.

It's highway robbery... life stealers, they are! 

It comes back down to our choices, and sometimes we don't want to 'be' happy, as we'd really like to let someone out there know that we do not like this.

Hah... someone out there isn't noticing. Someone out there probably doesn't care and if she does, can't do anything to help you. So you might as well paste that smile on, get your eyes off the 'ick' and look around for the beauty... because you might just see something lovely.

It might make you smile, chuckle, and cause you to hold your head a little higher. Maybe even look at the situation from a new angle  -- like that cute dog in the photo above. Now he's enjoying his moment.

There... a little talking to myself and anyone else who needs it this morning.

Wishing you a beautiful rest of your day. May you find glimpses of something to make you smile, even if it's only 'up at the corners' as Noel Coward used to say.

Brenda
xox


Photo source:  morguefile.com





Thursday, August 01, 2013

Wing-ed Treasures



"My profession is always to be alert to find God on nature,
to know God's lurking places to attend to all the oratorios and the operas in nature."
~ Henry David Thoreau



One fine Spring day, we sat on the patio with our morning coffee. Enjoying the show of many birds as they swooped in for a share of their favourite breakfast seeds, weren't we surprised when one of our resident tree swallows landed on my husband’s white garden hat (which sat atop his head at the time).

Apparently tree swallows like white feathers to build their nests with, so maybe Mr. Swallow thought Rick's hat was a big feather. What a treat to see him fearlessly perched within arm's reach. How pretty were his iridescent feathers as they glimmered in the sunshine.

Not long after that day, I found a large bumblebee struggling on the floor in my living room. I assume he'd been trying to get back 'out there' where he belonged, to no avail. I scooped him up with a tumbler glass and paper, so I could set him down in the garden to recover. But he crawled off the paper onto my finger and sat a moment, his little body heaving. I said a little prayer for him in case he was injured, and then suddenly he spread his tiny wings and flew away.

I love these encounters with nature's tiny creatures—they are such an amazing and beautiful part of our world. So small we almost don't notice... unless we stop to look.

Too many wilderness places around us are being razed to the ground for 'new developments'..... and rather than going into a lament or a rant about it (I do on occasion quite often), we are trying to remain serene as we remember we do create a little haven in our corner of the world for a few of these, God's wing-ed treasures.

I'm glad our paths cross with these wondrous ones.

Wishing you glimpses in those unexpected places,
Brenda
xox

Photo source:  Brenda Leyland