Thursday, October 30, 2014

Autumn Stars

What fun ...

For the first time in a very long time I bought a pumpkin to carve for tomorrow evening's Halloween tr-eaters. I was inspired by Susan Branch's post where she carved her pumpkins with stars instead of scary faces. Now that's my kind of pumpkin carving.

If I were to do it again, I'd made the stars smaller so the light shining through would be more twinkly. However, in the dark, it still looked pretty cool. Can't wait to set it out tomorrow.

We baked the stars in the oven later and poured a wee bit of maple syrup over them.  Mmmm... they were heavenly.

Star Light Star bright,
The first star I see tonight,
I wish I may, I wish I might,
Have the wish I wish tonight.


Photos:  Brenda Leyland, 2014

Friday, October 24, 2014

Afternoon With A Movie

 “I wanted it to be you.
I wanted it to be you so badly.”

It was the perfect afternoon to watch one of my top favourite romantic comedies with two of my favourite actors. I don't need to tell you the title, do I?

I love watching it this time of year. I've never been to New York but seeing all those lovely tree-lined streets makes me want to go there. Truth of the matter, most places I haven't visited but want to someday, I'd like to see them in the fall time.

Don't you just love the cozy little bookstore around the corner ... with  the twinkle lights and flowers and pumpkins? Not to mention the story-reading corner.

It doesn't matter how often I watch this movie, when I hear Brinkley bark in that last scene and Hanks slowly comes round the corner and she's standing there, I feel this sense of completeness -- mit happy tears. It's life as it ought to be.

So that's what I did this afternoon (well, and folded laundry).  How about you, what were you up to today?

Wishing you a *´¨)
> ¸.·´¸.·*´¨) ¸.·*¨)
> (¸.·´ (¸.·´ * happy day! *

 PS.  In case you don't know the title of this 1998 movie,

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Potato and Ham Pie For Lunch

For lunch today, I made a Potato and Ham Pie. I used what I had on hand, no recipe in front of me. I baked a couple of potatoes ahead. Poked in the frig to see what else would work. I found ham and eggs and cheese. What could go wrong with ham and eggs and cheese? With about 20 minutes prep time, not counting the potatoes, it was ready to go into the oven. 

Brenda's Potato and Ham Pie
Serves two generously ~ delicious and filling

Bake ahead:
2 medium russet potatoes, till mostly done, peel, and slice

1/2 small onion, diced
1/2 cup cubed ham

Beat together:
4 - 5 eggs
1/4 cup milk or cream
1/4 cup or so grated parmigiano reggiano cheese
salt and pepper, to taste
parsley, something to add a little colour

1/2 to 3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese

  • Saute onion and ham for 2-3 minutes. Remove from pan.
  • Now saute potato slices in olive oil or butter or both till a little crispy. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  • In a pie plate, layer 1/2 the potatoes, 1/2 the onion/ham mix and 1/2 cheddar cheese. Repeat.
  • Pour egg mix over everything, and sprinkle remaining cheddar cheese.
  • Bake in preheated oven at 325 F for 30 - 35 minutes -- until eggs are set and top is browned.
  • Serve with a salad.

'You never forget a beautiful thing that you have made,' [Chef Bugnard] said. 'Even after you eat it, it stays with you - always.'  ~ from Julia Child, My Life in France

Wishing you a *´¨)
> ¸.·´¸.·*´¨) ¸.·*¨)
> (¸.·´ (¸.·´ * happy day! *


Monday, October 20, 2014

Cook What He Loves

"The torch of love is lit in the kitchen."
French Proverb

Today I'm Guest Blogging over at Koala Bear Writer

In one word I can tell you what makes my husband happy. P-A-S-T-A! He could eat pasta in the morning, pasta at lunch, pasta in the evening. Spaghetti, rotini, and fettuccine. Vegetable lasagna, garlic chicken with orzo, or stroganoff with noodles. Pasta with red sauce, pasta with roasted tomatoes, and don't forget pasta as leftovers.

Yep, this is what makes him happy! Just say ‘let’s have pasta for supper’ and his eyes light up! So why have I not really paid attention before? Read more ...

Wishing you a happy day,

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Simply Sunday: The Cares Weigh Heavy

Oh yes, there is so much going on in this world of ours that I tell you quite candidly I sometimes feel like asking Him to come and end the torment of this creaking, wailing world of ours.

So many people hell-bent on wrecking anything that has value and truth and beauty. Taking precious lives with them in the carnage. How can we carry on with it all pressing on our minds and piercing our very hearts?

And, then I come to my heart senses and remember... there are too many who have not found their way Home to the Father yet -- so many who still need that drawing near to Divine Love. Even the ones doing the carnage. Yes, even those ones... for they can't have started out life that way, can they?

So I ask for grace to lift up my eyes toward the Light and not let the dark news fill my soul with a not so quiet despair that it's ALL going to hell in a hand basket. But to continue to reach out in love to those around me here at home and further afield. To speak peace. To walk in kindness. To focus on Love, which is Him... Jesus the Christ. For, if we all give up, then the encroaching darkness wins.

Don't let the cares of this world choke out the words of Eternal Life. Let my life words wash over you and refresh you. Cast all your burdens onto me. Call on My name and I will save you  ~ Jesus

With a gentle kiss*´¨)
> ¸.·´¸.·*´¨) ¸.·*¨)
> (¸.·´ (¸.·´ * atop thy head! *


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

When The Frost Is On The Punkin...

There was frost on the 'punkins' last night. Yep. The days... and nights... are gradually getting cooler. I'm glad for that gentle slope towards Jack nipping my nose. I prefer easing into the cooler temperatures, rather than the shock of a sudden North Pole plunge overnight that has me scrambling for my mitts and winter jacket.

Now... it wasn't until this very moment sitting here that I ever wondered where the phrase 'frost on the pumpkins' originated. Do you know?

Turns out that it's the opening line to an old bucolic poem penned by American author James Whitcomb Riley (1853–1916). Trust Google to have links AND YouTube to have videos of various people reciting this charming piece.

It didn't take but a second to find myself settling into the rhythm as the narrator spoke. I could feel a peacefulness stealing over my thoughts. I loved listening to the old dialect and catching the author's sense of wonder as the frost on the punkins heralded the changing season.

We don't have punkins in our garden.  But having listened to the poem, I almost feel as if I've taken a walk in the countryside down fields filled with bright orange orbs. And so I share my two favourite links:  the first one has pictures with the poem being read (no music); the second video has pretty music with just words scrolling. If you've got four minutes to sit and listen, why not listen to both... they each give their own feeling to the piece.

On that note, I'm away to enjoy my frost-bitten morning.  Mr. Hubbs just brought me a freshly-brewed cup of coffee in my "Wake up and be awesome" mug!

So I'm wishin' you*´¨)
> ¸.·´¸.·*´¨) ¸.·*¨)
> (¸.·´ (¸.·´ * an awesome day! *

Photo Source:


Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good

I'm reading Jan Karon's newest novel Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good. What a lovely title...there's a comforting rhythm to it, don't you think?

It's been a delightful T-R-E-A-T to be back with Father Tim and Cynthia, and everyone else we've grown to love in Mitford.

I thought about waiting until Christmas -- you know, to ask the Christmas angel to put a copy of this new book under the tree for me. But the other day while Mr. Hubby and I were at the bookstore -- after my pointing out the pile so conveniently arranged near the front entrance, dearest hubby said, "Why don't you get it today?"

You can be sure I did not wait around for anyone to change his mind. With a copy of the book in hand we were at the checkout line in a nano-second. Heart-beat happy!

And I was pleased to see that it was a nice fat book... with 511 pages to savor as one might a favourite snack or pumpkin spice latte. One tiny bite or sip at a time.

Now I have to be honest, at the very first when I heard a new Mitford book was coming out, I thought it might be too much like the old Mitford books. Maybe even a little re hash? Now don't get me wrong, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE and often re-read all the books in the series (I have every one). But I did wonder if Father Tim and all his 'family' in Mitford really had anything new to share with us. I very much enjoyed traveling beyond the town limits to visit Holly Springs and Ireland.

Others must have wondered too, because Miss Jan responded by explaining why she returned to Mitford...
"My legions of readers wanted more, much more, from Mitford," she said in a statement. "Agatha Christie tried desperately to stop writing about Poirot, but her fans would not permit such heresy. She was doomed to write 60 novels and stories with this character about whom she later said, 'I never cared for that little man.' Well, I do care quite a lot for Tim Kavanagh, and that is why I have written 12 novels with this character." excerpt from 
But I am delighted to tell you that the gracious and gifted Jan Karon has once again given us her best. She does not let us down in the least. We're delighted, tickled, comforted and surprised in so many places. To me a 5-star book is a book where we slow down our reading so that we don't have to end the story for a very long time. This is a 5-star book, as all her previous books have been for me. 

Aside... I'll have you know my heart was glad to learn that Father Tim turned down one job offer... and thrilled to bits to have him take on an unexpected job in a spot I envied him being in. For me, it was as it should be.

So if you can...beg, borrow, or buy (you didn't think I was going to say the 's' word, did you?) a copy of this latest episode in the long-running Mitford story. I don't think a true Jan Karon and Mitford fan shall be disappointed. Oh, no!

I'm including a 7-minute youtube video of an interview with Miss Jan, should you be wanting to hear more about the book.  On that note.....

Here's wishing you somewhere safe*´¨)
> ¸.·´¸.·*´¨) ¸.·*¨)
> (¸.·´ (¸.·´ * with somebody good! *

Post updated to remove info no longer relevant

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

I'm Not THAT Brenda

I've had a 'punch' in the solar plexis the last day or so.

Someone who has the same first and surname as I do lives recently died of apparent suicide in the UK. Turns out she is somehow part of a big 'nasty' news item across the pond in the UK. And now my own blog and my Facebook have been affected. I've had hundreds of page views linked to my site... a very nasty comment that left a very bad taste in my mouth.

That poor unfortunate woman, whatever she'd been up to, has created a furor in the media and public eye, and now suddenly I can't get into my own Facebook page because it's in a 'special state of memorialization'... as if I'm the one who's kicked the bucket. We don't live in the same country, but I assume it's because we share the same name. (FB is reviewing my case, so hopefully that will be sorted out soon.)

Needless to say, I feel a little green about it all. I'm minding my own business, trying to add beauty to the world and suddenly I'm linked to someone who seems to have a less benign presence.

That's the downside of all of us living in a global village. And so many of us having our presence on the Internet for the world to see. As with most things, there is a wonderful benefit to being online, but sometimes nasty things happen. I do ask God regularly to protect all that concerns us as we post online, so I'm trusting that this too shall pass and there will be nothing more remaining than a bad memory.

A little lesson out of this:

If you G*oogle your name, you might be surprised how many people share your name. Which means there is the possibility for mix-ups, as in this case. Which is why I've started adding a middle initial to my name.  And I'm considering other ways to make my name unique to me.

We don't walk in fear, but it's a good idea to remind ourselves that whatever we post and wherever we hang out online (FB, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, etc.) gets us further into the world wide web.

If you are a praying person, do pray and ask God to protect your stuff, not just for copyright sake, but so everything that concerns you stays safe from all evil intentions. What does it say in Psalm 91?
We shall not be afraid of the terror of the night, nor of the arrow -- evil plots and slanders of the wicked -- that fly by day. ... For He shall give His angels especial charge over you to accompany and defend and preserve you in all your ways...

On a finer note now... the day here in Alberta, Canada is beautiful. Crisp air with wispy clouds in pale blue skies, and the Mountain Ash right outside my window in full tilt autumn colour today.

It's still a beautiful world... a beautiful life. And for a moment, I mourn for that woman whoever she was. That she did not find her life beautiful. God, have mercy!

Wishing you*´¨)
> ¸.·´¸.·*´¨) ¸.·*¨)
> (¸.·´ (¸.·´ * a beautiful day! *


Top Photo:
Botton Photo: Brenda C Leyland, 2014



Monday, October 06, 2014

Bruschetta with Tomatoes, Basil and Feta


We had a lovely crop of cherry tomatoes this summer. 

The tomatoes, picked early in September when we had those crazy snow days, have been gradually ripening in a big box in the garage. We've enjoyed them in salads and pasta sauces...

Today for lunch, we made bruschetta with tomatoes, basil and feta. Y-u-m-m-m-m. Talk about satisfying comfort food. The best part, the recipe is so easy......

Bruschetta with Tomatoes, Basil and Feta
Baguette or Italian bread

4 - 5 handfuls of tomatoes, diced (squeeze out some of the seeds if you like)
2 - 3 cloves of garlic, crushed or finely diced
1/4 cup of onions, finely diced
A glug or two of olive oil
A splash or two or three of white wine vinegar
Salt and pepper, to taste
Fresh basil
Feta cheese

Dice tomatoes, garlic and onions. Put in a bowl. Add the olive oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, torn basil leaves. Gently mix.

Cut bread into slices. Grill or toast. Spoon tomato mix on top. Sprinkle with feta cheese. Add more basil if you like. Eat with gusto -- let juices run down chin, if need be.

So, I'm wondering, what else do you like to do with your crops of tomatoes? 

Wishing you*´¨)
> ¸.·´¸.·*´¨) ¸.·*¨)
> (¸.·´ (¸.·´ * a beautiful day! *


Photo:  Brenda C Leyland, 2014

Thursday, October 02, 2014

A Sense of Wonder

“If you will take any flower you please,
and look it over and turn it about...

and smell it and feel it and try to find out all its secrets,
not of flower only, but of leaf, bud and stem as well,

you will discover many wonderful things.”
~ Gertrude Jekyll

Autumn with all its bounty of harvest and beauty provides the most perfect opportunity to take a little time to nourish our child-like sense of wonder.

I shall never forget the first time I noticed that the back of a sunflower was fashioned as exquisitely as its front. I mean, look at the back -- it makes me want to paint it.
Have you ever touched the tips of your fingers along their fuzzy felt-like stems? Or stopped to smell the petals? You might not think they have a fragrance but, to my surprise and wonder, the flowers have a faint fragrance -- and you know what -- they smell just like sunflower seeds (spitz to those of us who eat them). Of course they would ... duh !

Ms. Gertrude Jekyll said we would discover many wonderful things if we really stopped to look and see and smell and touch. To notice the details.
Have you a discovery of your own that you'd love to share with us?

Wishing you*´¨)
> ¸.·´¸.·*´¨) ¸.·*¨)
> (¸.·´ (¸.·´ * glimpses of heaven! *


Photos:  Brenda C. Leyland, 2013