Wednesday, April 27, 2016

April. The Simple Woman's Daybook

In my corner of the world, April has been gently unfolding her days. Some days offered lovely warm ones; others brought hints of snow, and now this week we've had a few soft rainy, misty ones. Spring as it should be. And after that nice rain, talk about the green popping out everywhere.

Temperatures still hover near freezing most nights, so we are not quite out of the woods. However, here in northerly Alberta, Canada, we do spot some eager Albertans out and about in their shorts and flipflops. When I was younger I might have been one of them; although still as eager to celebrate Spring, I am much less eager to feel the cold, still waspish north breeze on my bare toes and eyelashes.

Today we finally post April's edition of The Simple Woman's Daybook -- it has been slow in the making. Usually I post it the first Monday of the month; now I've missed all of April's Mondays so it's going up today, done or not. Good thing I can make up the rules as I go along -- ha ha!

Without further ado...

For Today...

Outside my window... Clear blue, sunny skies. The other day the resident squirrel was hanging on for dear life as he nibbled nuts from the swinging suet bag -- today it's only a gentle breeze blowing budding branches. Pairs of chickadees and purple finches begin their mating rituals. Robins sing their early morning welcomes, and in spite of landscaping underway in our yard, we've had the pleasure to see the season's early offerings of crocuses, tulips, and pockets of daffodils.

I am thinking... About the book The Enchanted April  by Elizabeth von Arnim. Also a movie, I love to watch it when April rolls around. The story opens on a rainy day in London, England. "Escaping dreary London for the sunshine of Italy, four very different women take up an offer advertised in the Times for a 'small medieval Italian Castle on the shores of the Mediterranean to be let furnished for the month of April.' As each blossoms in the warmth of the Italian spring, quite unexpected changes occur. An immediate bestseller upon its first publication, in 1922, The Enchanted April set off a craze for tourism to the Italian Riviera that continues today." excerpt from

A favourite scene from the movie: Two of the women arrive in Italy after a harrowing and tiring journey from London. It's dark and pouring rain. They are surprised -- where's the sunshine? Rose mutters something about how is this different from rainy London, and optimistic Lottie says, "It's Italian rain." I love that line.

And, then there is the lovely oboe music from Elgar's "Chanson de Matin" that runs as a theme throughout. This music is partly what makes this film so charming for me, not to the mention the gorgeous scenery of sunshiny Italy in the springtime.    

I am thankful today... For my dear mom whose love for me all of my life has been a sure foundation. She may not have always known what a little girl needed, or secretly desired, but despite those imperfect times, I see more clearly than ever before in my life that there wasn't a minute that went by when she wasn't loving me with as much as she ever loved anyone or anything. And, that went for all her family. I see so clearly that those old places where sharp words once spoken in impatience or weariness were never from a place of deliberate meanness or unkindness. Goodness, how easy it suddenly becomes to let go of any funny old hurts or little resentments that might remain. Yes, I am so grateful for Mom's mother bear love all these years. She was and still is a good mom. 

I am wearing... Comfortable lounge-wear in black. No earrings, no lipstick even. For I am quite determined to get this post up today before I get distracted with any other business.

I am creating... Lists for our upcoming trip to England and preparing some notes for a few blog posts to share some glimpses of our trip with you. Lots of English country gardens, including Downton's Highclere Castle, Sissinghurst Gardens, Hever Castle, to name a few.

I am going...
To immerse myself in the English countryside by reading three delightful books: Susan Branch's A Fine Romance and Helene Hanff's two memoirs, 84 Charing Cross Road and Duchess of  Bloomsbury Street. All three are delightful reads to get me 'feeling and tasting and breathing English air'  -- the sleeps are counting down in earnest now.

I am wondering... what to make for supper tonight. Fingers tapping the table top. I know! Pasta with honey and wild garlic sausages. We had those before and they are wonderful with buttered noodles, maybe an Alfredo sauce too.  

I am hoping... To get the deck cleaned off from winter, and our round teak table and garden chairs with umbrella set up today. For the weatherman promises a warmer afternoon and it might be perfect sitting down for a nice cup of tea.

In my garden... It's disheveled right now. We had to take down some old trees last fall from our backyard, including our beautiful lilac bush which was falling over. It was a sad moment when the arborist came. It was so barren afterwards.

But all through winter we've had such an open and lovely view of the sky again from our kitchen and my office windows, that we're taking joy in this new temporary look, for the landscape makeovers include some new trees this Spring. And, just a couple of days ago, in the middle of upside-down, there pokes up from the still cool earth tiny green noses of tulips and daffodils. Tiny crocuses add glimpses of heaven in brown.

In my kitchen... I've tended to hungry tummies by making homemade chicken vegetable soup with buttered noodles, baking powder biscuits to go with the soup, and fragrant and crunchy apple crisp.

A favorite quote for today...
In fact, I'm sharing a few that make me chuckle. These represent the figure of speech called araprosdokians -- I dare you to say that one out loud three times in a row -- where the latter part of a sentence creates a turn of phrase quite unexpected. Apparently Sir Winston Churchill loved them, and I know Oscar Wilde, Mark Twain, and Groucho Marx were also known to make good use of them. Here are a few samples:
1. Where there's a will, I want to be in it.

2. Since light travels faster than sound, some people appear bright until you hear them speak.

3. If I agreed with you, we'd both be wrong.

4. I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train. Oscar Wilde

5. Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read. Groucho Marx

7. I'm sorry I wrote you such a long letter; I didn't have time to write a short one. Mark Twain

A peek into one of my days... I was at the local bookstore the other day shopping for a new journal. As I browsed all the other lovely Spring things they now carry besides books in the shop, a young fellow store clerk hurrying by, stopped and said, "Wow, I love the colours you're wearing today." And with that, he breezed off. It sure brought a bright grin to my face, it did! 

The same day as I'm now driving home from shopping, I passed a woman out walking her gorgeous German Shepherd. They were waiting at the corner for the traffic light to change. The Shepherd, sitting on his haunches maybe a little impatient to get going, dropped his ball which he's carrying in his mouth. It did a bounce-bounce. The woman bent to pick it up and gave it back. He looked thrilled. Makes me wonder if he dropped it on purpose. You could tell he was so happy to be out with his mom and his ball.

I love sightings like that -- they make me happy. I felt this little rush of joy -- and thankfulness there are still people who know how to love their four-legged friends, and for dogs who can be happy with so small a treat.

One of my favorite things... Catching glimpses of beauty and love in unexpected places.

From Pinterest board room... Isn't this tea set lovely? It would be perfect for a Mother's Day Tea or a May Day Strawberry Tea Party.

Postscript Thought...
"How beautiful a day can be when kindness touches it. ~ G. Elliston

It's done. I can go put my lipstick on now.  On that note, I'm wishing you a beautiful day and may the last few days of April have some essence of  'enchantment' for you. I hope you are keeping an eye out for those glimpses of heaven in unexpected places -- for they are everywhere.


Friday, April 22, 2016

It's Friday Already And Martha's Vineyard Isle of Dreams

Oh my, didn't this week fly by! Thankfully it's been all good. Birthday celebrations have spread well into the month now. These pink tulips, a gift from a dear friend, sat on my dining room table all week.

Aren't they striking against the blue painting? And I love how the light seems captured inside the vase. I posted my photo on Facebook the other day, and someone commented that "it looks like the tulips came off the painting and onto your table". It almost looks that way ... art and life mixing.

We're working out in the yard and watching for signs of an awakening garden. With all the bird calls in the air and finding sweet blossoms of crocus nestled against the tree trunk in the front yard, we know it's Spring, it's Spring, it's Spring!

And, then we're having the very great pleasure of reading something oh so wonderful. I am in the middle of Susan Branch's newest book Martha's Vineyard: Isle of Dreams. It's the last in her trilogy (The Fairy Tale Girl and A Fine Romance) and I am L-O-V-I-N-G it! It arrived in my mailbox in time to join in the birthday festivities. The best kind of birthday present. Below is a peek to whet your appetite, in case you haven't got it yet.

I am really trying to read it without hurrying too much but it's a page turner. My consolation is if the book ends far too quickly, I can do a happy dance, turn around, and read it all again.
Once I know how the book ends, I can relax into the actual story and begin to savour; in this case, to savour Susan's lovely artwork in detail, ponder the cute and pithy sayings she's included for our mirth and pleasure, share the journey with some tears, great laugh out loud moments; not to mention, nodding in total recognition of a kindred spirit -- for even though our life stories are completely different, there is so much that resonates and is the same. As a young woman Susan knew she wanted to change the world -- well, she certainly has made the world a better place with her cheerful, resolute, and generous spirit -- not to mention, her endearing books and artwork. She sure has delighted the lives of many 'girlfriends', including this particular one!

Susan is hosting a giveaway of some real treasures right now. To enter, leave a comment on her post by popping over here

Today, as I'm joining Five on Friday, I'm sharing five quotes Susan shares in her new book. They are now jotted in my own journal for safe keeping. I hope they whet your appetite to get the book, if you haven't already done so. For, of course, you will then learn why these are so meaningful when you read them within the context of her delightful story.


"As long as I have a window, life is exciting."
 ~ Gladys Taber


"Glory be to God for dappled things."
~ Gerald Manly Hopkins


"Although the world is full of suffering,
it is also full of the overcoming of it."
~ Helen Keller


"Every artist was first an amateur."
Ralph Waldo Emerson


"But listen to me. For one moment quit being sad.
Hear blessings dropping their blossoms around you."
~ Rumi

Another view of my pretty tulips. Today their pink petals are so translucent and shimmery. Even as they are drying and dying, they offer a different glimpse of beauty. Goodness to the last petal.

On that note, I'm wishing you a wonderful weekend!

Sending hugs with love,

Linking with Five on Friday



SUSAN BRANCH (@dearsusanbranch)
@WordFromHome Thank you dear Bren, that was so NICE . . . I loved it! 💞 Was it YOUR birthday I should be sending best wishes for? 🎂

Friday, April 15, 2016

Five On Friday: Little Treasures

Today I share five little treasures I purchased during a recent visit to a friend's beautiful home and gift shop. Browsing through the shop and then bringing home the parcel with these little delights certainly made my day. With dear ones to share the experience of shopping, visiting, and sipping tea in the shop's bay window, it was a most pleasant outing.


Who can resist pansies? Especially when we think of Spring and the soon delight of planting these sweetly fragrant plants into our own gardens. I love pansies and so I couldn't pass up on these pretty paper tea napkins. They will be perfect with those pansies teacups up in the cupboard. 


And, who can resist such a pretty greeting card with its photo combination of favourites -- sprigs of flowers in a jar and a stack of vintage books? This one is a thank you card -- I love the saying on the front: An act of kindness is a beautiful memory in the making.


If you've followed this blog for any length of time, you will know that I love, love kitty cats. So, I ask you, how could I have resisted not bringing this sweet kitty card home -- all ready for a playful afternoon. And then giving it away. Or maybe giving it away for someone else to colour on a grey, rainy day.


This bright array of umbrellas certainly grabbed my imagination. I whipped that notebook with its bright yellow elastic off the shelf, as I certainly could 'imagine' tucking this cute notebook into my carryall bag -- it'll be perfect for jotting quick notes during our month-long trip to England which is coming up in just a few weeks.


Last but not least, I stocked up on more Spring-themed luncheon paper napkins. Lilacs and pussy willow branches. Just looking at them, I feel a party coming on. Besides, can you ever have too many packages of paper treasures, just waiting for you to think pretty thoughts, and tucking them beside a table setting or teacup, even if it's a perfectly ordinary kind of day!

On that note, I'm wishing you all a beautiful weekend. We'll be celebrating a birthday around here this weekend, and so I'm off to get things gussied up for company.


Linking with Five on Friday


Sunday, April 03, 2016

Afternoon Tea Treat

Hello Beautiful Friends,

It's such a beautiful Spring day here today. With cloud studded blue skies and tree branches swelling with buds on this sunny afternoon, what a lovely day to go for a walk in the fresh air. And, to make it completely perfect, come in the door and smell something toothsome still warm from the oven.

It's time for Afternoon Tea. Will you come?
 “Tea! Bless ordinary everyday afternoon tea!”
 ~ Agatha Christie

Original recipe from my family's Heritage Recipe Book

1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup white sugar

Combine flour, butter, and sugar -- mixture will be crumbly. Press into a 9x9 square inch baking pan.
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp vanilla
1 Tablespoon flour
1 Tablespoon cream
1/2 cup raisins or currents
1/2 cup walnuts

Cream butter and brown sugar together. Add egg, vanilla, flour, cream, raisins or currents, and walnuts. Mix, then spread on base.

Bake at 375F for 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool 2-3 minutes and cut into squares. Sample while warm with your favourite brew of tea.

Here's wishing you a beautiful Sunday afternoon,