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!
Brenda
xox


Photos:  © Brenda C Leyland 2010 



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...
 Brenda




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!
Brenda








Saturday, November 20, 2010

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


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 a*buse, 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. 

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

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,
Brenda
xox







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!
 Brenda
xox



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,
Brenda







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!
Brenda




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!
Brenda





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...
Brenda




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?
Brenda





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?
Brenda