Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Advent Calendar Winners...


"It is the beautiful task of Advent to awaken in all of us
memories of goodness and thus to open doors of hope."
POPE BENEDICT XVI


Well, I'm truly getting in the mood for the holiday season now. I've been putting the brakes on myself to wait until December 1st at least before going full steam ahead. It snowed again yesterday -- light, fluffy stuff so everything sparkles this morning. And it's wintry cold out too. The birds were ready for peanuts when I took them out.

Over the past couple of days, I've been writing out envelopes for Christmas cards while watching the enthralling series The Crown on Netfix. I'm on Season One, so I have some catching up to do and certainly have no trouble watching two or three episodes in a sitting. The actors in my opinion are excellent and so I'm completely drawn into the Royal circle as I sit with my tea in front of the fireplace with my card list and stack of empty envelopes.

Only a few more days now and it will be the first of December, which makes me hap-haPpy to announce the WINNERS of my Giveaway for the Jacquie Lawson Advent e-calendars...





***

Congratulations to you both, Lin and Cheryl! I'm so pleased for you. I hope that you along with any kids or grandkids around will have great fun with these interactive calendars. (I'll need an email from you so we can get them sent to you, my email link is in the sidebar.) A big thank you to everyone who joined in the Giveaway fun this week. I assume everyone knows Jacquie's beautiful card and calendar online company, but in case you don't, here is the LINK.


* * *


What else can I chat about today? My, the nights are dark these days. Because I sometimes wake in the wee hours unable to get back to sleep, I've taken to leaving on a pretty LED candle all night. How comforting to come down to the kitchen and catch sight of the golden glow in the darkness. I'm always amazed at just how much light these LED lights give off in the dead of night. Add to that, I catch sight of our next door neighbour's coloured lights, also on all night, glimmering through the dining room window. These are such little things, yet they provide such tiny hugs of comfort. 

I went out after supper last evening because I needed another box of Christmas cards -- my list was a little longer than my stash on hand. It was snowy out and many folks had their holidays lights turned on. Oh what joy, making my spirits bright. It can be said it's too early, but the lights aren't just for Christmas anymore -- we all know they create a spot of light in the darkest months of our year, so why not start early.


* * *

In the silence of a midwinter dusk, there is a sound so
faint that for all you can tell it may be only the sounds of the
silence itself. You hold your breath to listen. You are aware
of the beating of your heart. The extraordinary thing that is about
to happen is matched only by the extraordinary moment just
before it happens. Advent is the name of that moment.
FREDERICK BUECHNER


* * *

Happy Thanksgiving to our American friends!
Wishing you a beautiful day as we anticipate December's Advent season.

Hugs,
Brenda
xox




Saturday, November 23, 2019

Belated Five on Friday: Twinkle Light Season & A Giveaway

Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay

I open the door. The gorgeous guest
from afar sweeps in. In her hands are
her gifts--the gifts of hours and far-seeing
moments, the gift of mornings and evenings,
the gift of spring and summer, the gift
of autumn and winter. She must have searched
the heavens for boons so rare.
ABBIE GRAHAM


Dear Beautiful You,

Another day, another week gone in a flash -- I hope that for all its swiftness it has been a good one for you. Let's see, since the last time I posted, we've had cold snow days. We've had sunny, melting days and a plethora of grey overcast days ... all typical November weather here in northerly Alberta.

If you were to ask what kinds of things have been keeping me busy of late, I'd be hard-pressed to give you any answer that would whelm you over. There are no big projects, but lots of little things filling my days: visits with family and friends; meals, laundry, dishes, errands and shopping. A wee bit of dusting in those too obvious sunny spots. I'm reading from my pile of books from the library and from my own bookshelves, which includes re-reading the ever comfort-rending novel Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good by Jan Karon and the ever-charming epistolary memoir 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff. I also re-watched for the dozen-th time the delightful movie by the same title starring Ann Bancroft and Anthony Hopkins. Oh, and I'm taking some French lessons on Duolingo.com (bonjour!), watching movies in the evenings on Netflix, and making lists for the upcoming holiday season. Just to name a few things...

Last weekend we met with friends and took in the local art society's Christmas Market, where we bought a wee stash of Christmas cookies like gingersnaps and shortbread. With the stash eaten over tea through the week, this morning we are off to another friend's church Christmas market, hoping to stock up on a few other seasonal treats. AND, we're making Christmas cake later today, using our favourite Light Christmas Cake, recipe found in this POST. It's always a joint effort, someone chopping and and stirring, someone getting the pans ready with flour dusting and wax paper forming. Taste testing done by one of us... can you guess who?

At our house, the weekend when mountain daylight time goes back to mountain standard time signals Twinkle Light Season! So I've been slowly gathering my LED candles and twinkle lights aiming to make the season bright and cheerful. Hubby frowns on candles with real flames, a carry over from when we had curious kitties with long furry tails and whiskers. 

To add to the building commotion of cheer, I'm excited to offer my seasonal ***GIVEAWAY*** for two copies of this year's Cotswold Advent e-Calendar created by Jacquie Lawson. Scroll down for details.

Wondering what else I could share with you today, I opted to show a small gathering of items I purchased over the last while. It's only November, but you'll see a theme unfolding. It's not hard to get in the mood when the weather has been so helpful in providing some cool temperatures, a few snowy days, and lots of grey skies. 



~ONE~
A new box of sparkly Christmas cards made by Papyrus
It's always been one of my favourite traditions to write out
and send Christmas cards and letters. These days I find
myself doing a mix of both snail mail and e-cards.
How about you? Do you still write Christmas cards?



~TWO~
Glass globe with candle and berry wreath
This little light of mine
I'm gonna let it shine.
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.



~THREE~
A new decoration for our tree
Found this cute stained glass tree ornament at
the Christmas Market last weekend.




~FOUR~
'Awww, aren't these cute' Seasonal Napkins
We found these at the local wildbird general store. I know
who's gonna find them in their Christmas stocking this year.




~FIVE~
Cotswold E-Advent Calendar
 jacquielawson.com

The 2019 Advent calendar arrived in my inbox a few days ago -- a
surprise gift from my lovely friend, Barbara, who knows
I love all things English and how much I enjoyed our visit to England
a few summers ago. The best treat of that trip was sharing a couple
of hours over tea with Barbara while we were in Cornwall.

To pay forward the joy, I'm having a GIVEAWAY for two of these
e-calendars just in time to begin opening
the daily treats on December 1st.

The draw will be held on
Wednesday, November 27th.

To enter the draw, leave a comment
in the comment box.  
  

* * *


"One kind word can warm three winter months."
JAPANESE PROVERB


* * *

On that note, I'm wishing you a beautiful weekend
and don't forget to leave a comment for the draw.

Hugs,
Brenda
xox



Wednesday, November 06, 2019

Simple Woman's Daybook: November Edition

imagine by congerdesign from pixabay

"The smell of that buttered toast simply spoke to Toad,
and with no uncertain voice; talked of warm kitchens, of breakfasts
on bright frosty mornings, of cozy parlour firesides on winter evenings,
when one's ramble was over and slippered feet were propped on the
fender; of the purring of contented cats, and the twitter of sleepy canaries."
KENNETH GRAHAME


November arrived with nary a bump -- it was calm and warmish these past few days. Suddenly I knew the post I'd been working on wasn't gonna cut it this week, so here I am musing my way through the prompts for November's edition of the Simple Woman's Daybook. Although I'm ever in awe of how quickly the days and months slip by, I'm not gonna mention it today (wink).

Without further ado...  


FOR TODAY

Outside my window... grey and overcast. Flowers are done, trees are barren, and the only real colour left in the garden are the bunches of red berries on the Mountain Ash and the deep carpet of orange-bronze leaves beneath it. Blue jays are busy burying peanuts under those leaves.

"November comes and November goes,
with the last red berries and the first white snows..."
ELIZABETH COATSWORTH

(Insert) I wrote the above yesterday ... this morning as I sit down to finish this post, the vista has changed -- the leaf carpet is under a layer of snow and the red berry clusters are sporting snowy white toques. With a smudge of pale blue sky beneath billowy grey-white clouds, in this moment it's postcard-perfect. Alas, my iPhone camera did not capture its perfection, but here's a go:




I am thinking... of a Twitter friend's post from the other day. Carrie and her husband Stuart were our hosts when Rick and I visited Oxford a couple of years ago. No longer BnB proprietors, they and their two beautiful dogs (Jack and Tex) now make their home in the lovely Cotswolds. Carrie posted a video of their daily routine of driving Stuart to the train station. The video shows a gorgeous vista as they drive through English countryside on narrow, winding roads, hugging hedgerows on the left side of the road. I made the comment that she's truly living the dream -- you could see how beautiful it all was. She said it feels amazing to be living the life she knows she was meant to live -- better than she even dreamt. If you are on Twitter, her handle is @CarrieHerself.

That makes me happy. To know there are folks like Carrie who are truly living out their heart's dreams. So I think to myself, if life were different, would I actually pick up sticks and move to England, for my soul doth long to do so. Ah, but there are so many factors to consider, some which definitely include family -- would I really want to live that far away from my dear ones? No, not really, not right now. Besides, I do have a very good life here in Canada. Still, I let myself dream about the possibility to live there, even for a while some day. Because we all know what Carl Sandburg once said, "Nothing happens unless first a dream."

I am thankful... for another quote, this particular one is from Sarah Ban Breathnach's Simple Abundance book. I  was reminded of it when I saw it on a friend's Facebook page: "You simply will not be the same person two months from now after consciously giving thanks each day for the abundance that exists in your life. And you will have set in motion an ancient spiritual law: the more you have and are grateful for, the more will be given you."

That line I put in italics really jumped at me ... to become so aware of the abundance that exists in my life. Oh my, there are so many 'abundances' of all sorts filling and overflowing my life: I'm thankful that I am loved abundantly, that I've got access to an abundance of clean drinking water and fresh provender, fresh posies of flowers, and good coffee beans. That I have the freedoms granted to me as a Canadian citizen, to come and go as I please... really, the list is endless. So, I'm going to focus a while on the idea of all I enjoy in abundance, and give thanks.

One of my favourite things today... is that there is nothing pressing on my schedule, and so I am at ease knowing I don't need to be somewhere else, doing something else. What a treat not to feel that over-the-shoulder presence of Should. I can truly relax into writing this post and think about you and look for things that I hope will make you glad you stopped by.

I am wearing... black slippers, black leggings, teal coloured t-shirt (which I'm happy to report is getting awfully loose on me, and that nasty muffin top/spare tire around the middle is paring down). The scale gives me good reports too. All by doing tiny gradual changes in my lifestyle, one being choosing to eat less carbs and sugar.  I didn't cut out, but I gradually cut down. As the weeks go by, I feel able to let go of other things I know aren't good for me. A much better way for me. I've learned over the years that trying to make big changes do not work for me. I need to come at it gradually and as easily as possible so as to make the journey enjoyable, and sustainable. It's about being kind to oneself. 

I am creating... lists in my head for cleaning and preparing for when it's time to full out decorate for the holiday season. I've got twinkle lights out and as the days unfold, there will be more on display. And no, I am not in a hurry to start Christmas. I'm quite content in this between time of November's grey dullness. 

I am watching... the sky these days. Around these parts, the brilliant colours of early autumn are over and now the world is cocooned in shades of grey, including the skies on many days. Have you ever noticed just how many shades of grey there are? Cool greys, warm greys, blue greys, cadet greys, dove grey, slate grey, green-grey, metal-grey, heather-grey, charcoal-grey, steel-grey ... could there actually be 50 shades of grey? 

Just finished... reading the last chapter of an old favourite: Anne of Windy Poplars by L.M. Montgomery. It's been years since I read it, so I'd forgotten how delightful and entertaining it is. I used to love pulling it out at this time of year because it's autumn: Anne is writing her first letter to Gilbert one dusky September evening in her new home at Windy Poplar on Spook's Lane. You just know there are going to be those cozy, shadowy descriptions of her life in Summerside, PEI.

Looking forward to tomorrow... That's how Anne lived her life in the book. She was always looking with anticipation of what little adventures and things of interest might come her way each new day. The people around her loved her spark of life and often took their own comfort and joy in her presence. Like Davy when Anne came home to Green Gables for Christmas: "When you come home, Anne, everything seems to come alive."

That's what I have aimed for in my own life -- both Anne and her creator were always such an inspiration to me from way back. So it was lovely to feel that lively energy surging as I immersed myself in this old novel once again.

Image by annca from Pixabay

I am listening to... classical music on CBC Radio 2 FM, the good old-fashioned radio with buttons to tune into the radio stations. One day we'll come into the 21st century and live stream. 

I am hoping... can't say I have anything I'm particularly hoping for today. Except, yes, I do hope your day is unfolding pleasantly. And if not, that you have the grace and ability to carry on till it gets better.

I am learning... French on Duolingo.com. These lessons are short and snappy. Fun. And there is no fear of getting it wrong, for they set you up to work on it until you get it all right. Win/win. There are spots for listening to the pronunciations, places where you pick up the grammar and spelling. I took French one semester in Junior High, but I never did anything more with it. It's one of my wishes to learn the language well enough to one day visit Quebec and Paris. If French isn't your cup of tea, they offer all sorts of other languages: Spanish, German, Portuguese, Norwegian, to name a few.     

In the kitchen... about to enjoy a warm slice of Cobb's apricot fruit loaf with a cup of freshly brewed Lavender Earl Grey tea.

Around the house... Laundry done. Fresh linens on the bed. Typing away on a blog post. Friends shortly arriving for tea and a visit.

A moment from my day... the weather has changed again. As I finish up this post, the skies are cloudless in that wispy pale blue, the sun shines through the tree tops over snow-laden rooftops, and the temperature is frosty at -11C. There is a decided nip in the air, so dress warm if you're going out.

* * *
I believe in kindness
Also in mischief
Also in singing.
Especially when singing is not
necessarily prescribed.
MARY OLIVER

* * *

On that note, I'm wishing you a beautiful day.
I hope your November will be filled with an abundance
of heavenly glimpses in unexpected places.

Hugs,
Brenda
xox


Linking with The Simple Woman's Daybook