Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I Love Winter Sunrises

Look who's getting up
Stretching fiery colors across the eastern sky...

With promises of a beautiful day.

"Watching the clock is not the same as watching a sunrise"
~ Sophia Bedford Pierce

I just started a new book from the library entitled Dawn Light: Dancing with Cranes and Other Ways to Start the Day. I enjoyed author Diane Ackerman when she used to post publish articles in the classic Victoria magazine. Now I have the delight of reading one of her books.

"In an eye-opening sequence of personal meditations through the cycle of seasons, celebrated storyteller-poet-naturalist Diane Ackerman awakens us to the world at dawn, bring into stunning focus a time of day that many of us literally and metaphorically sleep through." (inside front cover)

"Ackerman's essays awaken us to a fresh awareness, saying: Pay attention, these ordinary sights are marvelous." ~ Publisher's Weekly

Yes, I want to pay attention and see with fresh awareness the beauty of these ordinary sights!

Wishing you a beautiful day!

Photos:  © Brenda C Leyland 2010 

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Good Morning Merry Sunshine

We dusted off an essay I wrote for my mom a few years. I found it when I was clearing out a file of writings. It made me smile to remember that decades-old nickname, so I though I'd share it with you today.

Wishing you a pleasant day,


That phrase echoes down through the decades of my life, still spilling warmth and light into my soul. It’s a phrase I haven’t thought of in years, but when it wiggled its way out from some dusty memory bank I stopped to take notice. For with those little words came such a sweet flood of happy and warm feelings.

For a fleeting moment I was back in the old farm kitchen. I must have only been five or six at the time. I have a recollection of padding my sleepy-eyed self down the little hallway into the sun flooded kitchen, where Mommy was probably making breakfast. She stopped whatever she was doing to welcome me into the day by her cheery, “Good morning, Merry Sunshine.”

I don’t recall if Mom used that little nickname on a regular basis, or just that one time, but even after all these years, just remembering it again makes me feel all warm and cozy. Her words, spoken so long ago, poured out something precious – like costly ointment -- over me. They are a reminder that Mom’s love for me over my lifetime has been like sunshine…always warming, always cheering, always brightening.

Words a mother speaks over her children can echo over a lifetime. The use of nicknames, whether pretty, cute, funny or gently teasing of a special personality trait, when spoken with love and kindness, can give a child a sense of belonging and of being well loved. That’s exactly what “Merry Sunshine” did for me all those years ago.

* * *

Monday, November 22, 2010

Still Enjoying Monet

I found a treasure when I found this book entitled "Monet's Table, The Cooking Journals of Claude Monet (Claire Joyes and Jean-Bernanard Naudin.)

Not only did Claude Monet know how to create delightful art on a canvas, he knew what made great art in a dining room -- good food, lovely table settings, and a host of congenial friends with which to share it all.

"They came to dine in almost ritual form, first visiting Monet's studio and the greenhouses, then having lunch at 11:30 (the time the family always dined, to enable Monet to make the most of the afternoon light). Tea would later be served under the lime trees or near the pond." Excerpt from front cover

Of course these happy times came a long time later in his career. There is a story about Monet and his struggling artist friends -- they all knew how to eat beans for days on end, so they could scrape enough coins together to buy paints and canvas for their ever-hungry artistic muse.

See the blue-trimmed yellow dishes in the bottom corner of the photo below? This pic shows a artistically-laid table in Monet's dining room.

Now... just imagine the excitement my former housemate and I experienced years ago, when we stumbled upon the same pattern of dishes in a local department store.

We snapped them up for our own entertaining, and though our table might not have included such auspicious guests as Monet's, those blue-rimmed dishes tell their own tales of good food, pretty table settings, and congenial company. Mmm... maybe it was the dishes!

Don't you just love it when you go to someone's house for dinner and they've created a beautiful table for the occasion? It adds to the whole pleasure of eating. Monet knew that. Maybe that's one reason why I love him -- he seemed to know that our lives are enhanced when every area is touched by beauty.

Catch a glimpse of it today...

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Simply Sunday - A 'Hallelujah' Peek

For those of you starting to get in the Holiday mood, you might enjoy this video. And, if you are not in the mood, it might get you started...

Enjoy your Sunday!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Knees Go Weak

Yes, they definitely go weak on this one...............
Michael Buble singing Sway!


Friday, November 19, 2010

God Whispers: Beauty In Every Corner

photo: leonardo wong | unsplash.com

"God has called you to speak the word to the world
and to speak it fearlessly. 
While acknowledging your woundedness,
do not let go of the truth that lives in you and demands to be spoken".
~ Henri Nouwen, Inner Voice of Love

* * * * *

"Your vocation is to speak from
the place in you where God dwells."
~ Henri Nouwen, Inner Voice of Love

My desire to establish Beauty in every corner is not so much about flowers, teacups and lace -- although it is certainly part of it -- it is also about establishing the beauty of heaven here on earth where ugly stuff like p*ornography, child abuse, s*ex trade, hunger, cruelty to man and beast, crime, lying,  stealing, cheating is lessened, maybe even eradicated.

A place where people can flourish because they deal with their issues wisely; where they know how to overcome the enemy of their souls, and they have learned to walk out the royal law of love and kindness in every situation. Because people everywhere who hear the whispers of heaven are determined to establish heaven's Beauty here on this blue marble we call home. 

People say that's impossible, just look at the world around you. How do we do this? I don't know, but it can't be by praying out of fear or hopelessness or wringing of the hands. Can we believe that our prayers can change the world? Lord Alfred Tennyson once wrote that "more things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of. Perhaps if we believe we receive when we pray, we shall have the answers more often. I want to work towards that with my words and actions and intentions.

For nothing shall be impossible to him who believes.

Wishing you a beautiful day,

Thursday, November 18, 2010

My Wintry World Today...

Outside My Window...

I am thankful for...
~ Warm, cozy sweaters
~ A furnace that faithfully heats my home
~ Snowy, gray days that make me feel Christmas-y

I went out into the cold...
~ To buy bird seed for the feeders
~ To meet friends for coffee

I've been reading...
~ The latest issue of Victoria magazine

In my kitchen...
~ I'm making meatballs with mushroom gravy
~ Sipping hot apple cider with cinnamon and cloves

I can hear...
~ A large chorus of sparrows chirping in the bushes

Wishing you simple pleasures today!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Is Quilting A Sane Hobby?

That is what Mom and I were wondering last week. Think about it... first you go out and look for the perfect large piece of fabric. Then you cut it into little strips. Wow, a big job cutting all those tiny strips. But wait... now you have to sew them all back together again.

But it's the way you put those little strips back together that creates the excitement...watching a new pattern form as each strip passes over the feed-dogs of your sewing machine.

It was quite the sight when we spread the pieces over the the huge makeshift table set up in the living room (the room with the most natural light).

Here is my mom. As you can see the afternoon shadows were already creating lots of shadows, so we had to stop for the day.

Miss Kitty thought it was a great time to play with those funny looking pins. (sorry for dimness of the photo... I caught her sitting there in the dark).

It was a special week -- I think we quilted more than just pieces of fabric though. Our hearts were also quilted with the beautiful pattern of mom and daughter time -- precious time!

So maybe quilting really is a sane hobby! Especially if it brings loving heads bent together over the same project, creating memories as well as something beautiful for your home.

Wishing you your own beautiful 'quilted' moments,

Monday, November 15, 2010

What's YOUR New Thought Today?


With the new day
comes new strength and new thoughts.
~ Eleanor Roosevelt

Sandy over at ...and He shall direct my paths shared this quote today. I'm glad she did! What grabbed my attention was the phrase 'new thoughts'. 

Sometimes it's so easy to stay with the old thoughts, especially on a Monday morning when we begin to settle into the 'usual' routines of the week. But old thoughts often means getting stuck in the same old place... a rut. Which reminds me of the old saying that a rut is like a coffin with the ends kicked out.

So I asked myself the question what new thoughts am I going to think today?

I'm going to write a book. TODAY I am picking up a dream to write a small book on healthy living based on the wisdom of Proverbs. People are always looking for tips to help them get better results. After reading and pondering over the many proverbs in the Old Testament for many years, I realized these instructions are timeless... and powerful. Would you read a book called "64 Timeless... and Powerful Tips for Living Healthy"?

On that note, I'm off to the library, where laundry, vacuuming, and a 100 other needful errands can't bamboozle me into putting it off for another day.

Now I ask you, what NEW thought are you thinking today? 

Enjoying the beauty of new thoughts,

PS. John Maxwell once said,
You will never change your life until
you change something you do daily.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Cotton Candy Pink

A glance from my bedroom window early this morning
had me thinking about cotton candy...

for that's exactly what these wispy clouds reminded me of... 

Promises of another beautiful day.

"God writes the Gospel not in the Bible alone,
but also on trees, and in the flowers
and clouds and stars."
~ Martin Luther

Wishing you a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, November 11, 2010


Remembering those who lived, fought and died
so we could have the freedoms we enjoy today!

* * *

A fellow writer, Jack, tells the story of how, in 1945,
Canadian soldiers freed his beloved country, Holland.
Click here to read the story as seen through the eyes of a 7-year-old.

* * *

God bless them this Remembrance Day!

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

A Beautiful Day Ahead

I got up early this morning ...is 2:30 am early enough? Had a few things to work on this morning before my day 'officially' started. I am really a night owl, because it's so much easier to get things done when all is quiet and still than when the sun shines. I'm really not that good at making hay then. The fun part of either staying up late or getting up early is that I have one nephew who is usually up that time too, so we chat a bit online as the rest of the world sleeps.

But now the day begins. The sun is bright already. Later this afternoon I go to pick up my mom. We're looking forward to her visit -- Kitty and I have been getting things ready. Quilting, blogging, and lots of visiting and laughing are part of the plan so far. 

As author Janette Oke once said, "Getting things accomplished isn't nearly as important as taking time for love."

Here's wishing you glimpses of beauty every time you turn around today!



Monday, November 08, 2010

Evening Falls

With the evening drawing its curtains soooo early in the day now, it felt like a good time to post this comfy fireplace scene alongside William Cowper's perfectly cozy winter poem:

"Now stir the fire, and close the shutters fast,
Let fall the curtains, wheel the sofa round,
And, while the bubbling and loud hissing urn
Throws up a steamy column, and the cups,
That cheer ... wait on each,
So let us welcome peaceful evening in."
~ William Cowper, "The Winter Evening"

I'm excited about the neatest thing this week... I've been having the delightful fun of helping my mom start her very own blog. Her kids have been hoping for years that she'd take up the notion to write out her stories for her family, and with a little encouragement from her oldest (that's me) to join the blogging community, she's decided to give blogging a try.

With it being Remembrance Day in Canada this Thursday, Mom's been writing out some of her childhood memories about the war years as she remembers them. She was just a little girl when her big brother went off to join the Canadian army. As it turns out, when she sat down to write one story, many more tumbled out all over her keyboard. It will be fun to read.

On that note, here's wishing you the pleasantest of evenings! 

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Simply Sunday - Purr-fect Repose

 "Never be in a hurry; do everything in a quiet and calm spirit.
Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever,
even if your whole world seems upset."
~ St. Frances de Sales

"Don't be anxious about anything
Pray about everything
Then God's peace -- which passes all understanding --
will stand guard over your heart and mind."
 (my paraphrase from Philippians 4:6-7)

I found a lovely song and video that fits perfectly with this theme.
Click here for the link to "I Will Rest In You". 

Peace be with you all!

Saturday, November 06, 2010

What An Impression He Made

"I would like to paint as the bird sings."
Claude Monet 

First, I started reading the novel Claude and Camille by Stephanie Cowell.  Immersed in the love story between the Impressionist artist, Claude Monet and Camille Doncieux, I realized I wanted to see the paintings described in the book. For example, I wanted to see the Woman in Green, and imagine Claude falling in love with his model as he painted.

It's been a while since I studied anything Monet, so during my visit to the library this afternoon, I found Eyewitness Art: Monet, by Jude Welton. Just 64 pages (so it's not overwhelming), it's filled with lots of photos and descriptions of the artist's work. And, it turns out to be a perfect accompaniment to my novel reading.

Woman in Green

Monet's Palette

I find it interesting that his palette almost looks like one of his painting, but then it has all his favourite colours. From the mid-1860's onward, he worked with a limited range of bright, pure pigments, often mixed with white.  At the centre of the palette is cobalt blue (my all-time favourite colour), a pigment he favoured throughout his career.

The Artist's Garden at Giverny, 1900

Waterlilies, 1916-19

The Waterlily Pond, 1899

Although Monet and his Impressionist contemporaries received so much criticism for their new ideas and work, I for one am glad he persevered. He endured poverty and hardships during the early years, but in the end the art world came around and Monet became one of the most celebrated artists of the 19th and 20th centuries.

This artist made an impression on me.  If I was compelled to select an all-time preferred artist, Monet would be right up at top.  His waterlily works are some of my favourites.  I hope one day to visit those famous gardens in Giverney.

On that note, I am off to continue my absorbing novel.

A beautiful day to you...

Friday, November 05, 2010

Want To Know What Unstuck It?

After feeling like I didn't have any well-formulated ideas to share on my blog just the other day (because I'm hammering out some too-new learning curves, ideas, and projects), suddenly something changes!

It feels like a water dam bursting open... energized words gushing out all over. For example, two posts in two hours... one on either side of midnight so you get something new each day! Not to mention the one for today several minutes later.

So what unlocked what seemed like a beaver dam's worth of log jam this week?

40-day fanatical challenge that arrived in my in-box from the Association of Stay at Home Women.  The leaders of this dynamic association, of which I am a member, challenged us to to take up the challenge to keep 'moving forward in a powerful way through the fall, winter and holidays'.  We were to set some goals, business or personal, that will give us a run for our money (in some cases, literally)... 'transforming bodies, businesses and bank accounts!'

I knew I wanted to be a part of it. I could already feel the energy levels rising and I've been bubbling over with enthusiasm (not to mention words), that I don't want to go to bed... I might miss something!

Here are my goals for the next 40 days:

1.  Although I've been a member of AWHW for several months, I've been too busy (or disorganized) to really make use of the forums and other great resources available to me. So my goal is to connect every day over the next 40 days.

2.  Finish a free 5-lesson e-course I've designed for 'traditional' writers who want to learn how to blog but are too afraid to start. I'm working on Lesson 3. (The first two lessons are already out there to students).

3.  Implement 3 or 4 ways to re-purpose this material, which also includes material from a blogging workshop I did at a writers' conference recently.

4.  Clear out the excess clutter in my email in-box from 'voices' I don't need to listen to right now. (I signed up for way too much free stuff, like reports, articles, webinars.  My in-box has turned into a nightmare that's glazing my eyes over.) WARNING -- do not get greedy for more information...only read what you plan to implement immediately!

5.  Post at least 3 - 4 times a week on my blog.

6.  Keep working on getting my new website ready for BIZ.

7.  Having been inspired from Donna Kozik's empowering webinar, Write A Book In A Weekend, I will finish the first draft for a 'short, but powerful' book (64 pages minimum).

8.  Get back to my exercise class at the gym.  I hear they miss me... I miss them too.

These goals might just be crazy enough to accomplish. I'm taking Tim Ferris's advice to set almost impossible goals (it pushes you to stay focused and on track).  I think God's chuckling at this with me.... He's certainly into MISSION impossible.

The enthusiasm I feel right now should make for a beautiful November!

Still bubbling,

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Blog Blast for Peace

During my blog visiting today, I came across a beautiful post entitled Dona Nobis Pacem - Write on My Heart Every Word. Apparently it's connected to something called Blog Blast for Peace (an event I'm not familiar with).

I was sufficiently intrigued as the post author, Mimi Lenox, entwined the very moving love story of her grandparents with her own heart's cry for peace on earth. Although it's a lengthy piece, it is definitely worth a read.  Here is an excerpt:

When my Papa was middle-aged, he found the love of his life.
She was my grandmother.
And through the years I was privileged enough
to watch them live out that love right in front of me.
While they surely had struggles and bumps like everyone else,
they had something else too. What was it?
I am pleased to report that I don’t know.........

She never smiled at him; she smiled into him.
He smiled into her...........

(The posting ends with this)
Maybe we keep asking for the same struggle
and getting exactly what we ask for
because we’re not ready to lay down
the most powerful weapon we have

Wishing you peace on earth as it is in heaven,

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Variety Takes The Cake

photo from Martha's site

I love those delectable mile-high desserts that often preside at special occasions on footed glass cake stands. It's been ages since I've seen such a cake, never mind tasted one -- you know, one where between layers of cake various flavors burst on your taste buds in wild surprise.
Now there is nothing wrong with a one-layer cake, but oh my! it is so much more exciting to savor a variety of flavors in that one 'heavenly' experience.

In my search for a multi-layer cake recipe, I found Martha Stewart and Paula Deen baking a Hummingbird Cake on video. Curious name, but it looked and sounded super-delicious. I figure if Martha and Paula are whipping up such a cake, it must be good! Have you tried it?

* * *  

I think life is a lot like a multi-layer cake As the baker of such a dessert, I can choose what to put between the layers of my daily existence.  Some days end up being a one-layer cake  -- especially if I'm trying to get something done.  But it's also delicious to be able to experience days that are layered with several different flavors, textures, and experiences.

Layers of reading, scrapbooking or birdwatching. Doing the crossword, writing a new blog posting, baking a special birthday cake. Country drives, reading a magazines, meditating. Visiting an exuberant family gathering, taking a quiet walk through leafy woods, sharing a cozy coffee with a friend. Layering the passionate stuff between the more tedious tasks.  Lazy moments alongside crazy busy ones. Up and down, out and in, square and thin. Chocolate with coffee, tea with cucumber sandwiches, toast with strawberry jam.

It may be an old cliche, but I do believe it when they say: Variety is the spice of life. Those times when I layer my days with an assortment of activity, people and experiences, my life really does burst forth with more flavor... anticipation... joie de vivre.

Want a slice?

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Stuck For Words...Dreams...

I ask myself, how is possible to be stuck for words when there are so many from which to choose?  Yet, that is where I find myself when I sit to write a posting this week.  Do you ever find yourself in the place where the thoughts you're pondering well up inside, but there's no key yet to unlock the door so those thoughts will make sense to the next person?

For the moment, I'm busy with a writing project that pushes me out of my comfort zone.  I'm reading books that challenge my imagination to see realms of new possibilities.  I catch glimpses -- but still it's so new I can hardly imagine it, never mind articulate it in words.

And, somehow in the mix of that, I pick up a new novel at the library Claude and Camille, A Novel of Monet, by Stephanie Cowell. Which "paints a dazzling portrait of a passionate young man struggling to become the towering Impressionist we revere" (quoted from Ellen Feldman, back cover). 

In order to accomplish his dream to paint in a bold, new way, he had to 'push the envelope' of tradition. Perhaps he gives me the courage to push my own envelopes and dream dreams I've never quite had the courage to unfold before. Maybe reading about Monet will give me a key to unlocking the words that don't want to come.

What do you do when you're stuck for words?