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'!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Musing About Christmas Traditions


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

When I grew up and had my own place, I loved starting Christmas early in the season. Usually the first flakes of snow got  me in the Christmas spirit. I would start my shopping early, listening to the old familiar carols, watching the movies, getting in the mood, or crafting new decorations and handmade gifts. I didn't have a problem dreaming about it when autumn days drew us nearer the fireside, and I certainly loved the idea of decorating my house at the very beginning of December.

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.

I bid you your own sweet musings on this wintry evening,

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

It's the First Day of December

And the weather is 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 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!

* * * * *
* 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 09, 2009

The 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,

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!


Monday, November 02, 2009

The 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 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.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Autumn Dawn

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

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

'This And That' Kind of Day


Here is my day at a glance:

It's been snowing and blowing. Now I want to dust off Christmas movies and other cozy videos like You've Got Mail, Wind in the Willows, Meet Me In St. Louis with Judy Garland, just to name a few.

Making homemade soup for lunch. I started with my own chicken broth and then added: a can of red kidney beans, kernel corn, some grated zucchini, a chopped fresh tomato, 2-3 cups of Clamato juice, and for seasoning, salt, pepper, and cumin. I let it simmer about 30 minutes. It was very tasty, if I do say so myself!

Visiting with my dear 92-year-old father-in-law, who came yesterday to stay with us until the end of the month. This is the man who still races in World Seniors Games, and just a couple of years ago ran at the World Seniors Games in Italy. I pray my hubby takes after him for longevity and good health!!!

Reading my way through these books: Agatha Christie's A Pocketful of Rye, A Cellist in Sarajevo by Steven Galloway, and The Professor's House by Willa Cather.

I just looked out the window -- it's snowing again, which makes it a perfect evening for sitting by the fireplace later tonight.

Until next time,

Thursday, October 01, 2009

An Outing to the Children's Library

"The more that you read, the more things you will know.
The more you learn, the more places you'll go."
DR. SEUSS, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut! 

I ventured into the children's section of the library yesterday afternoon. I wasn't sure what I was looking for--nothing in particular--but with the feeling of autumn upon us, the cool blustery day with leaves a-flyin' reminded me of my school days as a child.

How exciting it had been to move from grade to grade each September, anticipating not only the exciting new readers, scribblers, and boxes of crayons, but the 'library' books housed on shelves at the back of the classroom. Our school didn't have a central library, so each classroom had its own set of age-appropriate books for students to take home. That, in my estimation, was the very best part of school. I couldn't wait for our teacher to announce that we could browse the shelves and take our treasure home to read. After filling in the check out card on the inside cover.

I felt a little nostalgic yesterday browsing books all crinkly in their plastic coverings just the way they used to be in my school days. I checked out two: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle; and Babe, The Gallant Pig by Dick King-Smith. Plus, I bumped into DVDs of the wonderful award-winning series from the legendary Cosgrove Hall Productions of Kenneth Graham's Wind in the Willows. The kid in me still loves to watch Badger and Mole, Ratty and Toad, not to mention the rascally Weasels, who are always up to no good. 

Such a delightful way to spend a little time this week. Do you still like to read children's books?

Sending you bookish thoughts,

Friday, September 25, 2009

Time Flies

They used to say time flies when you're having fun. But it seems these days time flies whether you're having fun or not!

Remember when you were a youngster standing at the end of another school term, how long the summer holidays stretched in front of you? They were like a never-ending skipping rope of fun and freedom. That was how it felt at the beginning, but we all know, with each passing year it seemed like someone fooled with the holidays and they got shorter and zoomed by faster.

A few weeks ago I was chatting with my cousin about how quickly life happens. She mused that someone, somewhere must be taking away a few weeks from each year. Instead of four in a month, now there's only two. You start the month, you blink, and it's gone.

I used to feel cheated because the days passed so quickly. It always felt like I was trying to hold the reins of a runaway team of horses. I wanted to savor my life more slowly. I wanted to find a way to capture that childhood sense of timelessness.

Then one day something dawned on me. Why was I trying to hold it back? There was nothing to be done about it. Let the days fly if they must.

Instead of trying to 'slow' time down, it's more important to learn how to be more selective in my choices and to learn how to make the most of the days I do have, to make a difference to others, to create a little 'heaven on earth' in my corner of the world.

So let the days fly... maybe we'll learn how to ride the winds of time with the grace and ease that eagles do as they soar far above us.

Happy day,

Thursday, September 24, 2009

We Got Mail!

Yesterday the cutest artwork arrived in my mailbox. A few weeks ago Queenmother had a blog giveaway and it was my name that was drawn. We are a happy recipient!

Now.... don't you think that is the cutest chicken you ever did see?

Tucked also inside the envelope was a very pretty hand painted book mark. As I like to say, you just can't have too many bookmarks! It'll be a lovely addition to my collection.

Thanks so much, Queenmother ... what a delightful treat!

Wishing you all a beautiful day
with a little bit of fun tucked in there somewhere,

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

An Autumn Morning

Went for an early morning walk. The air was warm, balmy, still. The skies were that deep clear blue and everything felt so fresh. Met various residents of the neighbourhood --- the woman out walking her cute dog, a beautiful calico cat watching her world from the safety of her front garden, a brilliant blue jay who plopped on the ground intent on finding breakfast, not to mention the two black crows chattering from their respective perches and treetops.

I sigh with a contentedness.

Why don't I do this every morning, I often ask myself, because I don't. Yet, being out in nature's beauty gives me not only that sense of well-being in my soul, it often inspires me to eagerly tackle some project when I walk back through my front door.

For Beauty on the outside usually motivates me to create something pleasant and lovely on the inside. Whether it's housework or a bit of cookery, writing or sorting through a paper pile, chatting with my mom on the phone, or picking up something to read, my day feels 'on track'. And when I feel that way, I know I'm living my ideal of a beautiful life.

On that note, I'm off to complete some errands, meet a friend for an afternoon ramble, and think about what we'll BBQ for supper on such a gorgeous autumn day!

Wishing you a lovely day,

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Orange Kitten Found

Orange Kitten nestled on the deck chair

Remember, last week I mentioned that Orange Kitten (neighbour's kitty) went missing. Although she's not of our household, she's as entrenched in my heart as if she did belong here, so I was sure praying for her safe return.

Oh joy! Oh bliss! when Rick saw her scampering across our front lawn yesterday. And, today I got to see her with my own eyes. I went out for the mail and she followed me home from her house. 

Apparently she'd wandered awaaaaaaaaay off into another neighbourhood. Someone found her and took her to the SPCA, which is where the owners retrieved her. You can tell she must have been lost and hungry a few days because she's very protective of her food now. (Of course Aunty had give her special treats when she came -- don't aunties always do that??)

On that note, I'm calling it a day.... 
hope yours has happy endings too.


Monday, September 21, 2009

When Do You Like To Clean?

When are you motivated to clean your house? Those times you actually get into it and enjoy bringing order from chaos and making your home pretty and inviting?

A. When you can see the dust

B. When you are having friends or family over

C. When you are getting ready for a trip or holiday

D. When you return from your trip or holiday

E. On sunny mornings

F. On indoor rainy kinda days

G. The first cheerful day that promises spring has arrived

H. When the leaves start falling and the days grow cooler

* * * * *

I. When you browse a magazine on organizing or decorating

J. When you get something new and pretty for your home

K. Monday mornings, when everyone gets back on schedule

L. When there's that companionable ambience about the day
ie. you're creating in the kitchen and he's puttering in the garden or garage

M. Decorating for a certain season or holiday

N. All the the above

O. None of the above

P. Other

For me, it's "N" -- all the the above have been known to stir enthusiasm at one time or another. This Monday morning, it's specifically A, B, D, and I.

So, how about you? Leave me a note?


Monday, September 14, 2009

The Last Rose of Summer

There is something slightly haunting about watching a rosebush carry on even though she feels the frost creeping in on summer's last breaths. Though the days grow cooler it pours all her energy into forming yet another bud with no guarantee that it will have a chance to bloom open.

It's a good reminder to keep pouring our lives out for the pleasure and goodness of others, even when frosty days threaten to 'nip' us in the bud.

The Irish have the piercingly beautiful melody to their credit, also named "The Last Rose of Summer".  Maybe the composer felt that same sweet pang... listen here if you will.

Wishing you a beautiful day,

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Simply Sunday - The Wild Rose

Photo: Brenda C Leyland

The Wild Rose

The rose blooms in the wilderness
Its only gardener the Creator
The petals send forth their fragrance
Till the air is filled with their sweetness

The rose blooms in wildness
Its beauty fringed with rainbow light
Each blossom exuberantly praises the Designer
As it sways on the evening breeze

One Rose bloomed in the wilderness
Its beauty was crushed underfoot
But though the Rose was cast aside and forgotten
Its Fragrant Blossoms changed forever
The world in which it grew.

(penned July 1988)


Saturday, September 12, 2009

Still Blooming

The season is changing -- you can tell. The air is crisper, the blue skies are more intense, and the garden which was filled with so much birdsong not that long ago seems deserted in comparison.

Things are still blooming in our garden. No frost yet -- we always feel grand to think we've cheated Mr. Frost just a few more days.

Took these photos the other evening as the sun was setting. Orange Kitten hasn't been around to visit us lately, but Miss Kitty still loves to prowl about and snoop under bushes for friendly mice. Thankfully, I've never seen her with one...

I'm meeting friends for breakfast. It's a perfect day for it. And, having caught a glimpse of the state of my hair in the mirror, I best be off....

Here's wishing you all a wonderful day!

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Perhaps Perhaps Perhaps With Doris Day

I love this song and of course Doris Day sings it beautifully.

Here's my invitation to watch it with me and see if this melody doesn't sing inside your head all day ... I've been humming it for days now!

Wishing you a beautiful day,
 ♥ ♥ ♥

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The World of Rosamunde Pilcher

On a recent visit to the library, I was delighted to find 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

The evening was so beautiful last night. It was warm, balmy, and with very few bugs. Rick and I went for a walk while a delicious Cherry Crunch baked in the oven. We looked forward to eating a dishful when we got back,  pairing it with a nice Italian (decaf) coffee.

We bumped into our neighbour, who was also out for his evening stroll, so we invited him to join us after our respective walks. His wife and daughters are away visiting family for several weeks, and I'm sure he finds his big house lonely. Because it was so pleasant out, 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 share the fragrance from the evening scented stock. Not really an attractive floral specimen, especially in the day time, you can catch a glimpse of it in front of the pink flowers (above). As the evening deepened and began to cool it, the fragrance filled the whole garden. It was magical. And, rather than fireflies coming out to play (we don't have them in this part of the world), my little neighbour, Orange Kitten, came to visit. She happily frisked about in the garden, hiding in corners. Our Miss Kitty was not impressed, but we certainly enjoyed the antics.

Our visit was spontaneous, which is often the best kind. We'll remember this summer evening for a long time.

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.


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!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Sunrise Wonders

View to the west
Photos: Brenda C Leyland, Aug 13, 2009

"Pay attention to your dreams - God's angels often speak
directly to our hearts when we are asleep."

Have you ever had a dream where you felt that God was speaking to you through it? Well, I am 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—someone kept calling my name over and over. The voice wasn't urgent but it was insistent. It took me a moment to realize the voice I heard was in my dream. Now fully awake, I looked out my bedroom window, which faces westerly, astonished to see the sky ablaze with such bold pink colours!

These are what my camera caught in real touch ups!

I grabbed my camera and went outside. I took photos 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 a rainbow forming.

Although I couldn't get it all on my camera, a complete rainbow formed right over top my neighbourhood. Then a second one began to form alongside the first one. I watched in awe.

View to the east - definitely more gold and orange here

It was also interesting to note that about 20 minutes later 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; all that remained were early dawn grey cloudy skies.

* * *

Now you may ask what God was saying to me in all this. I'm not sure, except to watch this wondrous work of nature unfold in front of my eyes, I felt so alive and so aware of Him in that moment. I shall never forget it.

Wishing you glimpses of heaven in unexpected places,


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Treasury of Heart Quotes

People do say the most amazing and insightful things. Here are three that spoke to me, hope you enjoy too:

"Sometimes someone says something really small,
and it just fits right into this empty place in your heart."
~ 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

* * *

"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

 * * *

Wishing you a beautiful day,

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Kitten and the Rest of the Story

The mystery has been solved about Orange Kitten that hooked up with us earlier in the week. Yes, the 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 was 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.

* * * * *

By the way, I 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 judgement. I kept reminding myself there had to be a reasonable explanation, and as it turned out, there was.

A purr-fect ending!

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Little Orange Kitten

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, apparently 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 door 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!


Monday, August 03, 2009

Shadows on Canvas

Beauty shows up in the most interesting places sometimes. I went into the garden the other day to enjoy another hot, sunny afternoon. Not wanting to sit directly in the hot rays, I opened the patio umbrella for some shade.

Glancing upward towards the peak of the open umbrella, it was as if someone had dipped a paintbrush in shadowy hues, for splashed across the top was etched a pretty leafy 'painting' of my Hawthorne tree.

I would have totally missed it if I hadn't taken the time to look and see.

Wishing you glimpses of heaven in unexpected places,

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Tree Swallows Leave Nest

You may recall from the previous post, we've been watching the comings and goings of a pair of tree swallows this spring and summer. First, there was the courting and choosing of a suitable apartment, then came the nest-building and egg laying. Later came the rebuilding and starting over after another bird got in and destroyed the first clutch of eggs.

Time passed. We started hearing baby cheep-cheeps and as the young ones matured, they began poking their little heads out for a look at their new world, always waiting with open beaks for the next tasty insect.

Today hubby was in the right place at the right time to actually see the inaugural flight of the two fledglings as first one, then the other launched from the box, taking to the air like pros as they followed their parents up into the blue yonder. We didn't catch it on film, but I just had to tell you!

Such a special day,