Monday, October 26, 2015

The Leaf Has Turned

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It's been a wonderful Autumn. Bright, beautiful, and lingering ... with no frost or white stuff to mess it all up. I greedily drank in all the warm, colourful mosaics that nature offered every day. And I'm so glad I did, because signs today indicate we're turning the leaf corner and heading into something cooler and less vibrant ... snapping winds, leaves being flung from branches, flocks of geese tracking vees against grey skies, not to mention a building desire in my own body to curl up with a cozy book by the fireside, or at least reach for a light sweater and a cup of tea.


Which makes me appreciate the vibrant reds in these photos -- courtesy of unsplash.com -- all the more. Don't you just love that wooden door and the red vine falling against it? Are you like me ... does it make you want to open it and see where it leads? Do you wonder if maybe it's a porch leading into an old house or root cellar? Maybe it's the doorway into an old barn cum studio where your art easel or writing desk awaits your creative presence.

As for me, with the door closing on Autumn around here, I must admit I'm eager to open a door of creative endeavour. The past few years when I had neither energy nor time for crafting, even though I had the hankering, this year I'm looking forward to working on little projects geared to Christmas. Like the white felt Christmas ornaments embroidered with holly red pearled yarn. It's been a long while since I picked up needle and thread, so I've been practicing my stitches. Click here for a sample of what I plan to work on.

As October wanes are you anticipating the opportunity to open a new door? Are there any you're glad to be closing with a firm pull, hopefully forever? 

Sending you wishes for a wonderful week ahead,
Brenda
xox


Today I'm linking with Judith at Mosaic Monday 



  

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Saturday ...

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Heading out to visit family for coffee ... with fresh from the oven pumpkin muffins in tow.


The morning is so alive with blue skies, red berries, russet leaves on shrubs, not to mention the stubborn Swedish aspens even more golden with the sun streaming through their yellow leaves. (They don't drop their leaves in any hurry, I'm happy to say.) The chickadees are chittering at the feeders and some cheeky magpie comes early this morning requesting peanuts.

Perfectly autumn.

Wishing you a beautiful day ... and also prayers for anyone near that hurricane.

Hugs,
Brenda
xox







Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Mostly Wordless Wednesday: On Optimism


"No pessimist ever discovered the secrets of the stars,

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or sailed to an uncharted land,

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or opened a new heaven to the human spirit."
~ Helen Keller


And, no pessimist can truly touch her corner of the world and accomplish that good for which she is capable and destined. Today I set my heart and mind to optimism and faith that every day we can create moments of heaven on earth in our up-side-down world. Giving into pessimism now means sure defeat ... for ourselves and our families, for our neighbours, for those whose faces of lost dreams stare back at us across cities, oceans, and continents.

We keep our home fires burning and we encourage each other to arise from the depression and prostration in which circumstances are keeping us. We arise and shine in our new day and gain confidence that even smallest gestures shift the atmosphere and open windows for light to stream in.


Hugs to you,
Brenda
♥ ♥ ♥




Monday, October 19, 2015

Still Greedy for Autumn's Treasures


The new week starts out grey and blustery.  Perhaps that's why I went in search of photos today that capture Autumn with her heart on her sleeves, er, I mean leaves.

As we work away at this post, we are especially drawn to these photos for their deeply satisfying colours. They're so brilliant you just want to bite them. And, perhaps I'm especially enamoured with leafy pictures, for around here some trees are quite bare already and although many still hold tight to their leafy gems, their days are numbered, and therefore to be treasured.

Which is why, if I was anywhere near it, I would want to sit on that bench awhile and just sit. Breathe in the smell that's unique to Autumn ... earthy, spicy, smoky, even a little leaf moldy. I'd be tempted to want to either take pictures or especially write while I sit there, but then I'd be missing so much with my eye buried behind a lens or my nose inside a journal page, wouldn't I?  So perhaps, for today at least, I'd leave them both at home and actually be present to the world around me.


You know what else I'd want to do sitting on that delightful bench in that deliriously delicious spot on God's good earth? I'd pick out a leaf or two and twirl the stems between my thumb and finger and watch them spin around like tops. Twirling, twirling, such a sight, Twirling, twirling, pure delight!

And, I'd bend close and examine their pretty patterns and shapes and textures. Touch them softly with my fingertips to feel their leathery or brittle surfaces. I'd also want to find a pile of leaves all dried and curled up, and kick them high in the air and then just watch them float back to the earth.

I'd sure want to try Susan Branch's idea ... "Catch a leaf in midair, make a wish, kiss it & toss it into the wind."
What would I wish for as I tossed it into the wind? Maybe that I would remember these moments and on those bleak midwinter evenings, when life feels a bit dull, I'd do like Mr. Wordsworth once described about his daffodils.....

"For oft when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils leafy frills."

(apologies to Mr. W for dallying with his perfect poem)

For, on those days when life feels empty or lonely or overwhelming, by envisioning something that has given us great contentment and joy in the past, we can indeed recreate those feelings and, noting from personal experience, our whole being can be enlivened. As if we were actually there again. Methinks that is the gift of memory -- good memories, that is -- the ability that lets us relive those times of joy so we may, once again, be lifted up and fortified in weak or disheartening moments.

Of course, the downside of memory is that we can also keep referring to memories of bad experiences which is to our detriment and the whittling away of our well being. So, I'm filling up on the good stuff, so I have lots to fall back on in those trying times we all experience. Today I'm feasting on these gifts from Autumn's hand  and in this case, I think it's okay to be greedy about filling our memories with lovely things.

There it is ... who knew all those words would tumble out just from thinking about a little collection of leafy photos cobbled into a mosaic. I'm grateful. And I hope these tumbled-out words will bring something of a smile and the urge for you to go out and kick up a few leaves before it's too late.


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Sending you hugs of the bear-size kind,
Brenda


This week I'm happily linking to


Please Note: I created the above mosaic using picmonkey.com, but the individual photos are not my own. These beauties were found at Unsplash.com and are available for free and can be used in whatever way a person wishes. In truth, even though I take a lot of photos, photography is not my first love; I'd sooner write and let someone else take the pictures. So I'm grateful for people who give us this gift so freely.

 

Friday, October 16, 2015

This Week's Journal Jottings

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Journaling has been an integral part of my inner life journey ever since I was a young woman when I jotted my first yearnings for God ... and boys ... and please let me be beautiful when I grow up. I can't imagine life without a notebook nearby to catch my big life moments, and my very ordinary ones, in a few words or in many.

The book where I make lists, write or quote poetry, jot down sayings that inspire, pour out my joys, mutterings, happy thoughts, sad or resentful ones, not to mention doodling with a pencil, decorating pages with pretty stickers, scribbling quick reminders of errands and grocery lists, meal ideas, who needs a birthday card or encouraging note -- as well as capturing the gazillion ideas for writing, decorating, planning my life, presents, parties, Christmas ... you get the idea.

I tried separating all this into separate volumes, but that drove me nuts -- I never knew where to look for what I wanted. So it's all poured into one book -- it's part journal, part diary, part shoulder to cry on, part dream holder, part daily planner -- a general common book of my life.
 
Today I'm linking with Five on Friday and I'm sharing five thoughts I jotted in my journal this week.


One: On being grateful and its downside

This past week, we celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving -- an event most of us agree is a good time to consider all we're grateful for no matter what's going on in our lives. Sometimes I make long lists of people, things, events for which I'm thankful. Sometimes I remind myself of other people who came out of dire situations with stories of finding gratitude. Stories from people like Viktor Frankl or Corrie ten Boom, who in the midst of the worst events, found that there was still the tiniest space where one could choose a better thought, a gratefulness for some small blessing.
"Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way. ~ Victor Frankl
"Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow; it empties today of its strength." ~ Corrie ten Boom
This year I played with the absurd idea of there being a downside to always being grateful. Here's what I jotted down. Perhaps you'll have a thought or two to add.

When I choose to be grateful no matter what, there is NO:
  • NO Room for pity parties or feeling sorry for myself;
  • NO Room for resentment of what I don't have;
  • NO Room for feeling I'm doing 'the work of the whole world';
  • NO Need to feel left out because I have good things in my life too when I catch sight of them;
  • NO Time whenever I choose thankfulness, there isn't at least one thing for which to be grateful.



Two.  I liked to play games as a child

I loved games like Tag, Hide-and-Seek, Find the Button, I Spy. My younger sisters and I were also good at making up games while doing our chores, like singing songs by choosing titles using all the letters of the alphabet -- all the while weeding rows of maturing carrots and peas and lettuce in the summer garden. These little games would make it fun and would pass the time more quickly.  

Not always, but sometimes I still remember to play little games with myself so that chores turn into a challenge to Beat the Clock by getting something done in 5 or 10 minutes, or playing Declutter I Spy and searching for 20 things that can be trashed, recycled, or given away.

Note to Self:  Be less serious and find the fun more often.




Three. Request for inspiration ideas for writer's magazine

It helps to have a reason to write sometimes. In this case, I was approached to answer a few questions about where I get inspiration as a writer. It took me a little while to sort that out, as I get inspiration from lots of sources. But in the end, I realized:

My main source of inspiration for my writing (and living) comes from the beauty of the world around me, whether it's God's creation in the natural world or the creative handiwork of people. I get inspired when I see Beauty in wildlife, art and craft, music, architecture, photography, land design, gardens, to name a few.

Another key source comes from what I read – the imaginative, soul stirring writing in books, magazines, and blogs. I get more creative in my own work when I soak in the artistic work of others. Certain turns of phrases, unusual words, fresh ideas set out in ways I didn’t consider before, quotable quotes, trail-blazing visionaries, and stories that capture my heart – these set my imagination on fire.




Four. Canada's federal election next week

My earnest prayer is for a Leader -- our next Prime Minister -- who has a servant heart, who out of love for the people of Canada, will endeavour to do his/her best for this nation, not for personal gain or agendas.

Note to All Eligible Canadian Voters: Please cast your vote this Monday, October 19. And if you're still not sure who to vote for, taking the Vote Compass 2015 survey might help you know which candidates line up with your values on important, key issues.



Five. Please give me new glimpses of heaven in unexpected places 

I was going to select just one of these little graphics from Emily Freeman to set in here, but when I looked at them altogether, I thought, they all three speak to me today.  So here they are for you too...









And that, dear beautiful friends, is a wrap. It's Friday and I said to my hubby earlier this morning, "I'm so glad it's Friday". He laughed as he asked, "What makes today different from the rest of the week (now that we're both no longer working at a job out there)?"

I laughed back, "I guess not much, every day seems like Friday or Saturday these days, but, it still feels nice to say." A warm, fuzzy feeling emerges that brings smiles and contentment.

Wishing you a beautiful Friday, and
Wishing you a few glimpses of heaven in unexpected places!
Hugs,
Brenda

♥ ♥ ♥

Linking to Five on Friday




Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Simplicity of Doing By Hand

"If I am incapable of washing dishes joyfully, if I want to finish them quick so I can go and have dessert, I will be equally incapable of enjoying my dessert. With the fork in my hand, I will be thinking about what to do next, and the texture and flavor of the dessert, together with the pleasure of eating it, will be lost. I will always be dragged into the future, never able to live in the present moment. ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

We've had a couple of birthday parties at our house recently which means the delight of bringing out the pretty teacups for the celebrations. One of my little joys is washing them up afterwards in warm, sudsy water and putting them away. As I wash and rinse, I think of bits of conversation, the laughter between sips of tea, the clink of cup against saucer, and the happiness of being together with special friends.

I love the simplicity of doing dishes by hand -- of sinking my hands in the warm water and soap bubbles. It comes with sense of peace and quiet, not to mention a contentment for a little chore completed. Tidying the kitchen, as I collect my thoughts or just let them wander, it's my way of setting my corner of the world back in order for the rest of the day or week ahead.

Do you still wash any dishes by hand?

Wishing you glimpses of heaven in unexpected places,
Brenda
xox




Today I'm linking with Kara for
Tuesday Afternoon @ A Spirit of Simplicity






Sunday, October 11, 2015

Canadian Thanksgiving



"God has two dwellings; one in heaven,
and the other in a meek and thankful heart."
 ~ Izaak Walton


Wishing you glimpses of heaven in unexpected places!

Hugs,
Brenda
xox






Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Mostly Wordless Wednesday

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Autumn Reflection:
I wonder why the 'n' is silent.


... hehe ...
Thought it would be something deep and serious, didn't you?

Wishing you some fun stuff today,
Brenda
xox



 


Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Two Leaves And A Little Gift For You


"Fall is for lovers. If you can honestly tell me you don’t melt a little over the idea of going for a walk with someone through the crimson leaves and talking over coffee in some beautiful little cafĂ© and cuddling up because the weather is just cool enough to make an excuse to do so, you aren’t human." ~ Brianna Wiest, Blogger

So, are you someone who picks up coloured leaves when they drift from the trees in your neighbourhood? Do you go for walks this time of year just to gather leaves and berries for decorating ... maybe for the mantelpiece or dining room table, perhaps to set on your desk, or to glue to the pages inside your journal? Yes, whenever I'm out for a walk my eyes are always scanning for little treasures in the grass.

As a child, I loved gathering pretty shaped leaves so we could press them between sheets of waxed paper and then hang them in the windows in our kitchen or at school. I loved the smell of the wax melting from the hot iron. Did you? I love the smell of wax crayons too!  


So, when Rick and I were out walking on our recent holiday to British Columbia, I couldn't help myself. There were leafy piles starting to gather along the sidewalk and in the corners of garden steps. I tucked a small handful between the pages of my journal -- so they'd dry straight and not get all curled up, and to ensure they made it home without disintegrating into feathery bits.

 

Never say there is nothing beautiful in the world anymore. There is always something to make you wonder in the shape of a tree, the trembling of a leaf. ~ Albert Schweitzer

Yesterday I made this simple arrangement below. Just two leaves ... and yet I love its utter simplicity. I scanned it, edited the picture on picmonkey.com (added a quote and frame), and printed off copies on card stock. All with the idea of tucking them into envelopes heading to friends across the country, just in time to celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving this coming weekend.



And, then I knew I also wanted to send some to you -- and the only way would be to make it available here online and you could download it. With a little help from my friend, Mr. Google, I figured out how to get a link for the pdf and now you can click here, download it, and have it too.


https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B-HGPoPgYvznMlNPakhXMWlVM1U/view?usp=sharing


Each card is about 3 3/4 x 2 1/2 inches. I got eight to fit on a page. Print the page off on card stock, cut apart ... and use them to tuck into your own greeting cards, or as gift tags (just punch a hole in the corner), or as placards at your Thanksgiving Dinner table.

I've got mine propped against the lamp on my desk as a gentle reminder to live from a grateful heart.  


     
Autumn leaves are falling
Let me catch a few
My heart is filled with gratitude
to celebrate with you.
~ brenda leyland



Wishing you glimpses of heaven in leafy places,
Brenda
 ♥ ♥ ♥



Linking with Judith for Mosaic Monday






Friday, October 02, 2015

Five Cozy Autumn Reads

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"Even if something is left undone, everyone must take time to sit still and watch the leaves turn." ~ Elizabeth Lawrence

We usually imagine leaves from trees turning into autumn colours when we read this quote by Elizabeth Lawrence. But today, I'm thinking more about pages in a good book turning leaf by leaf through a fascinating novel, a cozy mystery, or something inspirational from a favourite non-fiction author.

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Around here, autumn has truly settled in. So far, it's still sunny and warm during the day, but we now don a sweater if we plan to wander through streets lined with yellow topped trees in the fading light of an evening. And, thoughts turn homeward where we think of cozy nooks, mulled ciders, lamps aglow on table tops, woolly shawls ... and books. Piles and piles of books. On bedside tables, by the fireplace, around comfy wingback chairs.

A dear blogging friend recently emailed me asking if I would share a list of my favourite autumn books. Although I'm not up on the latest novels and stories these days, I decided to share a list of my long-time favourites ... the books I tend to reach for this time of year when evenings grow dark. It didn't take long to gather a small pile on the floor by my desk and create a short list.

Today I'm linking up with Amy for Five on Friday and so I'm sharing five titles for cozy autumn reading. Hopefully there might be one in the list that you haven't read before or that you'll feel inspired to find your own copy and read all over again.      


1. Autumn from the Heart of the Home by Susan Branch


This book is listed as a cookbook, but in true Susan Branch style, Autumn is so much more. Alongside Susan's yummy recipes, like Ginger Crisps and Butternut Squash Soup, these pages are chock full of seasonal art and crafts,  cheerful quotes, and leafy sketches, not to mention Susan's little stories that make us feel cozy and warm. Last year, I made her star pumpkin lanterns which made for a fun afternoon in time to hand out candy to children at the door. If you love everything Autumn, then this book is a must for your library!

Opening Lines: A quote from Gladys Taber ... "We are in for a spell of perfect weather now, every day luminous, every night brimmed with stars. Picnics at noon, supper by the applewood fire at night, a walk in the cool moonlight before bed."


2. Anne of Windy Poplars by L.M. Montgomery


Anne of Windy Poplars is the fourth book in the Anne of Green Gables series written by Canadian author L.M. Montgomery. If you haven't read the earlier Anne books, I highly recommend reading those first -- they make for cozy reading too. However, it's enough of a stand alone story that a reader could enjoy this book even if you haven't read them.

I love to read this story in the Fall -- the novel opens in September where Anne Shirley, now a teacher living away from Green Gables somewhere else on Prince Edward Island, Canada, unfolds her new life in letters addressed to her now-fiance, Gilbert Blythe. She writes from her cozy little room where shadows play in corners, lamps send out their comforting glow on a dark evening, and contented kitty-cats purr away in some warm spot.

Opening Lines: A letter from Anne Shirley to Gilbert Blythe. Address is Windy Poplars, Spook's Lane, S'side, P.E.I., dated Monday, September 12th.  "Dearest, Isn't that an address! Did you ever hear anything so delicious? Windy Poplars is the name of my new home and I love it. I also love Spook's Lane, which has no legal existence. It should be Trent Street but it is never called Trent Street except on the rare occasions ... I have already asked Rebecca Drew about it, but all she can say is that it has always been Spook's Lane and there was some old yarn years ago about its being haunted. But she has never seen anything worse-looking than herself in it."

 
3. Jenny Walton's Packing for a Woman's Journey by Nancy Lindemeyer



If you are Victoria magazine fan, you'll no doubt recall Nancy Lindemeyer was the magazine's wonderful founding editor. In an old September issue (1995), she tells her readers of a running conversation she once had with her son about the seasons of the year. His favourite season was spring, hers was fall. He asked, "How can you like misty mornings and falling leaves instead of clear spring mornings and trees in fresh green?" Her answer was always the same ... she is a romantic, and as a romantic, she loved rainy days and fall afternoons because they gave her time to reflect. I totally understand that, don't you?

You may also remember that Ms. Lindemeyer contributed a column in the magazine's early years under the name Jenny Walton. Packing for A Woman's Journey is a selection of those pieces, in which she recalls memories of the large Victorian home of her Connecticut childhood, a knitting club with high school chums, and her grandmother's homespun wisdom and skills. As one review put it, these essays muse on the activities and sentiments traditionally associated with domesticity, or, as Lindemeyer puts it, "the beauty of a woman's life through the artfulness of the things she has gathered about her."

Even though this lovely little book isn't 'autumnal' per se, you'll sense its warmth and loveliness in every page which makes it a perfect read for this time of year.

Lines From the Foreword:  "My girlhood was not unlike that of many others of my time, nor, really of today. Our clothes are different; but being cared for, accepting that care, and all the while learning what love is about -- these are timeless. But there are ways in which my growing up was unusual, not to mention unique."


4. Bertram's Hotel by Agatha Christie


This is one of my top favourite Agatha Christie novels. It's a day in November when Miss Jane Marple comes up from the country for a holiday in London. She finds that Bertram's, though now a restored London hotel with traditional decor and impeccable service, is just as she remembers it when she visited as a girl. Beneath the clatter of china teacups and the happy chatter with old acquaintances over hot buttered scones and real seedcake, there lurks an unmistakable atmosphere of danger. It's time to pour yourself a cup of tea and sink into this mystery as Miss Marple knits away by the fireside in the hotel's comfortable lobby.

Opening Lines:  "In the heart of the West End, there are many quiet pockets, unknown to almost all but taxi drivers who traverse them with expert knowledge, and arrive triumphantly thereby at Park Lane, Berkeley Square or South Audley Street. ... Bertram's (has been) patronized over a long stretch of years by the higher echelons of the clergy, dowager ladies of the aristocracy up from the country, girls on their way home for the holidays from expensive finishing schools. ('So few places where a girl can stay alone in London but of course it is quite all right at Bertram's. We have stayed there for years.')


5. The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister


Essential Ingredients became an instant top favourite for all time ... and maybe eternity too. Truly! From the first word to the last, I was drawn in and captivated by this memorable story, its characters, and its sensual, inviting ambience. Exquisitely written, this book creates a perfect recipe for escaping from life's stresses.

Once a month, eight students gather in Lillian's restaurant kitchen for a cooking class. They come with different reasons for taking the class. One by one, they are transformed by the aromas, flavors, and textures of what they create.

This reader was transformed too. The first time I read the book, I read as slowly as I could, savouring every word, every scene, every page. And when I finally got to the last word in the book, I went back to the first page and started over ... this time reading it aloud to my husband over the next few days. He was as captivated -- the story, so rich in sensual descriptions, made us feel so alive to our own five senses.

Opening Lines:  Lillian loved best the moment before she turned on the lights. She would stand in the restaurant kitchen doorway, rain-soaked air behind her, and let the smells comes to her -- ripe sourdough yeast, sweet-dirt coffee, and garlic, mellowing as it lingered. Under them, more elusive, stirred the faint essence of fresh meat, raw tomatoes, cantaloupe, water on lettuce. Lillian breathed in, feeling the smells move about and through her, even as she searched out those that might suggest a rotting orange at the bottom of a pile, or whether the new assistant chef was still doubling-dosing the curry dishes. She was. ....

See... don't you just want to keep reading? Go, find that book. I can't imagine you'll be disappointed one tiny bit!





I started this post earlier in the day, and now that I'm wrapping it up to sign off, I see outside my window the warm, sunny day with blue skies has transformed into a blustering, wildly overcast evening. Where's my sweater?

We'd love to hear about your own recommendations for cozy fall reading.  

On that bookish note, I'm wishing you a cozy rest of the day.

Hugs,
Brenda
♥♥♥