A Haven for Vee

Friday, November 30, 2007

Hope in the Mail

Yes, sometimes hope arrives in the mail. ;>

When I saw this creation of Margo's (see Robolady on the sidebar), I knew that I had to have it. It is intended as a Christmas gift for my niece, but I'm liking it terribly well. LOL!

The photos don't do it justice, but I'm sharing anyway. If you have the opportunity to visit Etsy shops or the gals who work so hard on crafts and treasures, you may find that your Christmas shopping is easier than you could imagine!

I love it on the Christmas tree! Perhaps I'll just tag it and leave it right there!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

I Don't Want to be a Humbug

But in this season it is well to reassert that the hope of mankind rests in faith. As a woman thinketh so she is. Nothing much happens unless you believe in it, and believing there is hope for the world is a way to move toward it. ~ Gladys Taber

So I found one of my favorite little Christmas books yesterday... Christmas Joy by Susan Branch. The quote above is from the opening pages and the following snippets are from page 43.

For some, Christmas is a time of high anxiety. It has always been my opinion that people, including myself, create an unnecessary stressful atmosphere by their own lack of planning. Susan has this to say about what happens to those who wait until the last minute to pull things together: they...hurry instead of bustle, they buy the first thing that they see, they spend too much money, and it's no wonder that so many are not sleeping and not celebrating. Her remedy is to shop all year long. (Mine is to stop by at FlyLady's.)

Forcing myself to sit down with a notebook and pen, I finally created a plan. It's late for said plan, but most of it will include online shopping. I already feel the anxiety level dropping a notch. How about you? How're the planning and shopping coming along at your house?

This year, I'd like to do more meaningful things and try some new things...no time for that if I am still wrapping gifts at midnight on Christmas eve, which has happened more than once. To avoid all that, I am getting all planning done before December 1 the FlyLady way.

One of the new things that I'd like to try is sugaring fruit for a fruit bowl. Susan says that one just stirs up an egg white, rolls the fruit in it, then rolls the fruit in white sugar. It looks just heavenly, don't you think?

Hmmmmm...wonder if there'd be any trouble with critters.

Picture Source

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Mexico Meets Narnia Tree

And so it was that little sister decided to leave a day early. Not a problem. She left me a note on the table and off she went with nary a word. Fine. Really Fine. It gave me an entire extra day to get started on Christmas decorating. I can read the writing on the wall and it said, "Ha ha, you're it!"

Good thing that I have been paying some attention to all the decorating blogs such as Linda's at Restyled Home and Melissa's at The Inspired Room and Terri's at Windlost (though I know that Windlost is not entirely about decorating.) What I have learned there, I have been able to apply, which is a diggedy dog good thing as I have precious little natural talent.

So without further ado, I'll share what I was doing yesterday. Please forgive the quality of the pictures...Santa Baby already knows what I want for Christmas. ;>

Here's how things looked in the morning. Yes, I moved the sofa down through that same narrow hallway, but I had help this time! The tree is in the high corner of the room so I hoped that the idea that Linda had shared of a tree on an antique trunk would look good so let's see...

I'm happy with the look. Now what is that "stuff" all over it? That is my "buying time" look where instead of getting out all the ornaments right now, I toss on all the silk poinsettias that I can round up and call it good. I have never been able to pass on actually getting out the ornaments at some point, but this may be the year. (Well, shoot! I'll take a daytime photo...hang on.)

There! That's a titch better. You can see the riot of poinsettias and the crocheted angel tree topper that my mother made me. The crystal icicles are quite difficult to see. I think that I need another string of lights...white, thank you. And the garland in the center may not be quite enough. Gee whizkers, it's amazing what the cruel, hard light of day has done to my beautiful tree. However, the trunk idea did save me a small fortune since I was able to use my regular tree without having to purchase a new taller one. (Thanks, Linda!)

Yesterday, I also went tipping...evergreen tipping that is. My carpenter allowed me to use his property and he even went along and dragged out the bags for me. Nooooo, I am not being charged. :) Anyway, just to prove that I was a very busy gal...here is the window box awaiting winterberries. I'm hoping that I'll find some red today!

When I got home after tipping (Yes, I did wear blaze orange and I looked simply fetching...trust me), the quality of the light was so delicious that I had to run for the camera, even if it isn't the best camera, and grab this photo before the light faded. Leaving you with this and a wish for a golden day for us all!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Single Serving Quick Bread Pudding

On cold mornings, nothing satisfies quite as well as a hot breakfast. When I feel the urge to splurge on scones or something off my plan, I make this banana bread pudding recipe. It is so yummy and nutritious that I am rescued from sinning on my diet. Perfect! Oh, it can be doubled, just adjust the cooking time up to 10 or 12 minutes. Easy!

Beth's Breakfast Banana Bread Pudding for One


* 1 egg
* 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
* 1 slice bread whole wheat
* 1/2 to 1 whole ripe banana, diced
* 1/4 cup milk
* 1 Tbsp. brown sugar
* 1/2 tsp. vanilla
* 1/2 cup granola, if desired


Combine everything together (except the granola) in a cereal bowl. Microwave approximately 7 minutes or until set. During the last minute of cooking, sprinkle on the granola. Serve with warm cream or milk. This is especially good with fresh berries or even dried berries (a few tossed in before cooking).

I am cheating again with the picture...this one has apples, which I think I'll have to resort to myself since the bananas are all gone...

Monday, November 26, 2007

Hmmmmm, Which One to Choose...

I've been thinking about Christmas traditions of late and which memories are the most vivid and why. Oddly enough, one of my favorite memories is of my grandfather's response to the beautifully wrapped gifts beneath the tree..."Just look at that. They're much too beautiful to open!"

A favorite, but brief tradition from childhood, was the gingerbread house. It began sweetly enough one year and ended all too soon. I suppose that it ended because it was a big pain for my poor mother to pull off every year. As I recall, she tried again to revive it with my children...also brief. Still, I remember it so fondly that I want to re-create it for my grandsons. Now they are still a little young yet to appreciate such things, but I think it would be nice to start early.

Being a smart gal ;>, I'm thinking a kit is the way to go. The one above or the one below are the two that I'm considering.

First Gingerbread Source

Second Gingerbread Source

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Acceptance: My Answer?

I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten—the great locust and the young locust, and the other locusts and the locust swarm—my great army that I sent among you. You will have plenty to eat, until you are full, and you will praise the name of the Lord your God who has worked wonders for you... Joel 2:25 and 26a

So this is where I'm hanging out today over there on that chaise with my laptop. Wait. I don't have a laptop; I'm just pretending. ;) Trying to keep my lid on has become a fulltime pastime of late, which leads me to the rest of my story today.

A week ago, my friend brought me a sheet of paper with too many words on it. Definitely too many to read at the time as I was b-u-s-y. It was a decorative item that his sister had framed and placed on her wall. He asked her to please make a copy and that is how I now have it. I was so busy flying around last Sunday that I barely took the time to acknowledge the gift. (I know. I told you that I'd be relaxing in that big stuffed chair, but you know all about the land of make-believe. ETA: And that was two weeks ago...the golden library pic...where does the time go????) Since I was much too busy to bother reading it, I popped it into the recipe notebook I was using for Thanksgiving notes and recipes. See? There it is on the right.

You may vaguely remember that I had offered to host Thanksgiving. I offered to host Thanksgiving for everyone except my sister's beloved. I really didn't want him here. I don't like him much. It's not even that I don't like him; it's that I don't like what he represents to me...loss and a lot of change. Anyway, I was going through the week happy that he would not be attending. Then my sister said that if he was not welcome then she was not welcome and that they'd be going to McDonald's. Oh the drama of it all!

A few short minutes later, there I was face to face with the gift in my recipe notebook. It says:

Acceptance is the answer to all my problems.

When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing or situation—some fact of life—unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment.

Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in God's World by mistake.

When I focus on what's good today, I have a good day, and when I focus on what's bad, I have a bad day. If I focus on a problem, the problem increases; if I focus on the answer, the answer increases. (The source for this material is, apparently, Alcoholics Anonymous.)

It was enough to get us all safely through Thanksgiving. I am not sure that it is enough to get us all safely through Christmas. I am still working on my one day at a time philosophy.

Now on to happier things... I had soooo much fun reading blogs yesterday. It resulted in my adding several more to my growing list in the sidebar. One was Little Red House where Mary hosts lovely tours of her charming home and writes about all manner of fun things. Check out her tribute to the movie "The Birds."

Then I visited Posie Gets Cozy where one can see the most lovely photos. This is the one that I want to share, but don't look until you finish reading here or you'll pop over there and you won't be back in a hurry. LOL! When you arrive there, you'll see a clump of Christmas lights. Just a clump. Anyway, that was the spark to begin my Christmas decorating. See?

Do you think that I can get away with my clump, too? I kinda like it. This could be the easiest decorating I've ever done!

Lastly, Vee (BumbleVee) at The Bearister Bookcase posted an incredibly compelling story about a late night visitor. You'll find it fascinating and food for thought.

Have a wonderful Sunday and a blessed week!

ETA: I'm confusing Melissa by not naming my picture source...oops! It's Pella.com

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Counting It All Joy

Ahhhhhh, the next few hours will be spent completely alone. Yes! Thanks be to God. I am going to spend them visiting blogs and enjoying reading about how Thanksgiving was spent and about others' Christmas plans. Since my own decorating plans are on hold until my sis leaves for Iowa in a few days, I have the luxury of having this down time and I am counting it all joy.

Picture Source

Friday, November 23, 2007

Collapsing, Relaxing, Relapsing

The last guest left last night around 11. Phew! Long day! For all of you women (men, too) who have ever prepared a Thanksgiving feast...kudos! Anyone who can pull off the shopping, planning, baking, cooking, cleaning, decorating, inviting, etc., well you could run the country!

It was also a very busy day right here at my haven because Alison of Brocante Home (see sidebar) was sending tons of traffic my way. Today, she has posted her five finalists so if you have a chance to check on any of them, vote for your choice. No, I was not a finalist, but man that was fun. If there's ever another Puttery Challenge, I'll be certain to let you know.

Anyone planning to hit the stores today? One of my young friends was going to hang out at Best Buy in the wee hours of the morning hoping to be early enough to snag the laptop for a little more than $200. When he drove by last evening at 9, he found the queue extending all the way around the building. He was actually quite grateful.

Off to work...should be a wild and crazy day. You have a good one, but I hope that you have the opportunity to just relax.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us. ~Albert Schweitzer

It's so true! My blogging buddies have come to mean a great deal to me and you do "spark" me. That's not nearly as painful as it sounds! :) I am grateful for each and every one of you!

Wishing all of my fellow Americans a very Happy Thanksgiving! To the rest of the world, a thankful Thursday as well.

A Votive for the Thanksgiving Table

This is one of my favorite, easy holiday decorations. I suppose that it's pretty self-explanatory, but all one needs are cranberries, a votive candle, and an empty grapefruit or orange half. I rest mine in a small decorative dish. Place the votive inside the hollowed out grapefruit half, sprinkle the cranberries all around both inside near the candle and outside lining the dish. Nothing to it! I make several to use around the house and they smell terrific. It lasts several days; I keep making up new ones throughout the holidays.

Kari and Kijsa have some wonderful ideas for the Thanksgiving table. They're two very creative gals and did you know that they are sisters, too? (Currently, I am fascinated by the dynamics of sisters. ;>) Anyway, if you haven't already, run over there and have a look!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Thanksgiving Preparations

Yesterday found me washing the china and gathering bowls, pickle dishes, candy dishes, stemware, etc. None of the stuff had been used since last Christmas so it all needed a good cleaning. I've gathered it all in a pile on one table and there it waits.

FlyLady tells me to review the menu and the supplies. Terrific! This means yet another trip to the market and the orchard. This hosting Thanksgiving dinner has proven as challenging as anything I've done in many years. I am following FlyLady's holiday schedule as if it were the Holy Grail.

Everyone who offers to do something gets taken up on the offer. For that reason, I don't have to think about stuffing, squash, pecan pie, peanut butter pie, or beverages. Yay!

If I can make it ahead, I'm going to do it. That's where FlyLady's mashed potato recipe comes in.


14 potatoes, peeled and boiled
1 stick butter
1 (8 oz.) pkg. of cream cheese
1 c. milk

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Mash all ingredients together. Place in casserole and bake for 30 minutes. This dish can be made a day ahead and refrigerated. Bring back to room temperature before baking. It can also be frozen, thawed and baked, and will be the same as freshly made!

I have FlyLady's recipe, but can't find the link so have posted this one from www.Cooks.com. (FlyLady's is better. LOL!)

Here's to excellent flying techniques today, tomorrow, and especially on the big day!

(I imagine that all my Canadian pals get a kick out of watching me scurry about like this safe in the knowledge that their Thanksgiving is next year. And friends from even further away must truly shake their heads.)

Monday, November 19, 2007


If one is wise here in the northern part of the country, one takes advantage of a mild day to string lights and decorate window boxes before snow arrives and complicates the issue.

I am neither wise nor willing to do a lot of decorating this year. Nevertheless, the window box needs help and it would seem the prudent thing to do to decorate it if for nothing other than curb appeal. The thought of adding tipping greenery and searching for winter berries on this already busy day has my head spinning. LOL!

My daughter called yesterday to ask if I could help her decide where to place her shining white stars. I arrived to find this ladder. Yes, she had been on it. I tried to remain calm as I told her that there was no way that that ladder was a safe choice. She promises me that she's going to call someone with an adequate ladder. I made her promise not to call her brother since he has two little boys who need him. See? One never stops worrying about the kids!

For all of you in the throes of Thanksgiving plans and doings, may your time be well spent on the things that really matter.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Rock Walls

When the leaves have fallen and a tree stands naked again, one sees the beauty in form alone. Limbs arch skyward; if broken, they point to the ground or are caught up in the arms of their fellows. A simple beauty there is in bare branches.

Other views become clear as well. The rock walls of New England stand visible as a testament to a time when the forests were fields and farmers used the offerings of the stony ground to line their properties and keep their livestock contained.

As a child, I loved the rock walls that meandered for miles through the woods. I love that my parents allowed me the luxury of spending time there. Recently, I started another book that describes some of the time spent among the pines and the rock walls. Yes, I am the queen of beginning paragraphs. Anyway, it starts like this:

Long ago, more than a hundred years, the pathway through
the woods was a busy stagecoach trail. There had been houses along its route from the little village by the river to the larger town of Aberdeen sitting ten miles northwest in the foothills of Aberdeen Mountain. Then there had been harried travelers eager to arrive elsewhere, but now there was nothing but trees, wildflowers, an old cellar hole, and a rusty-hinged gate along a crumbling stone wall.

The Very Spot

This had been a thoroughfare, now only a path for fishermen to
follow through the pine into the meadow until finding the stream that meandered down from the mountain miles above. Children, awed by the bits and pieces of a former time... old spoons, broken glass, a belt buckle... played for hours near the cellar hole until their hunger sent them scrambling for home.

Gee, just once I'd like to finish the book. :)

P.S. Some of us even build our own rock walls...here's a little photo of my daughter's backyard where she has been laboring for a few years now on a rather lengthy rock wall that surrounds her property. This is the east side. She despises straight walls so hers are curvy and follow the land just as the old-timers did.

Saturday, November 17, 2007



testing one two three

testing one two three

It worked! Oh, good, now let's see what else can be achieved.

OOps, that one didn't work as expected. When they say headlines, they mean headlines. I wanted "Tricks" to stay here, but it zipped up there.

OOps, again. Hmmm, changing text color is proving problematic.

Okay, patience is shot. LOL!

I am blaming thanking Lovella of What Matters Most for this morning of experiments.

All other frustrations tips can be found HERE.

P.S. Does anyone know how to change text color within the body of the post? (Not everywhere throughout the blog.) If you can rescue me from wallowing through blog helps, I will be grateful. :) Thanks! You're the best!! I mean it!!!

Friday, November 16, 2007

What's In a Name?

After visiting with Robin at BittersweetPunkin, I learned about another tag; this time we're all tagged. It looked like so much fun that I decided to participate. (If you visit Robin, you can listen to cheerful Christmas music, which is what I am doing. BittersweetPunkin is sitting down in the tray while I work on this post. Very relaxing! Thanks, Robin!!)

Okay, back to the tag. These are the directions: 1. Go to www.Amazon.com 2. Click on Books 3. Click on Advanced Search 4. Type your first name in Title 5. Select a cute or meaningful book cover 6. POST it!

I am sooo excited by what I found. Once again, sometimes things are just meant to be.

Here goes...

Book Description
Veronica May ("Big Vee") is a bubbly, gorgeous, confident, eighteen-year-old theater actress from Chester, Arizona. She is also two hundred pounds. She puts off college, her life, and her questions about her mother's death twelve years earlier to care for her widowed father.
Then Daddy announces that he's going to remarry and Veronica feels replaced. She decides, then and there, it's time for Big Vee to shine! She escapes Arizona and follows in the footsteps of her mother, who was an aspiring actress, to Hollywood.

Between shifts with a cute co-worker at the local coffee bar, Vee auditions, falls in love, dumps a toxic friend, learns to deal with love and loss, and finally, finds her place in the spotlight.

Some of this sounds all so familiar...hahahaha!

And I'm including this one because I really do want to read it. This description had me nodding my head in total agreement.

Book Description
Chile Pleaze Who said church folks don't have ISSUES- Chile Pleaze! The Friends cultivate the essence and strength of Spirit. But is Spirit enough to hide the brash of reality? Does being a Christian band-aid REAL ISSUES of REAL LIFE involving REAL PEOPLE? Loving the Lord is one thing, but what about the men, the women, the sex, temptation- THE LIFE! The friends have ISSUES that are major players in living. As they war with these ISSUES, they find themselves face to face with SUBSCRIPTIONS that they didn't sign up for along with MEMBERSHIPS to controversy of faith and feeling. Compromising for temporal fixes, they each find that a fix is not the Perfect mix! Cyon, the corporate executive, is opposed to being the diva in distress. With the relationship rule book under her wing, she refuses to be foolish enough to get caught up in the love game! Play or get Played is her rule, but what if Jesus was on the other team? What then! Justice the preacher and spiritual standard finds herself in caught between a Genesis and a Revelation that can compromise her Psalms. Who said preachers were excluded from REAL LIFE! While Micah's sexual preference is challenged, he discovers power in closet secrets. Tevin and Sasha, aren't as happy, as they seem to the good church folks. In a clash of Titans, they find themselves sticking like fly paper to a trap that-- just doesn't stick anymore! Val is seeking GOLD in stardom, but at the end of the rainbow it isn't always a pot of gold. "Nobody is perfect," especially when it comes to church folks! If you think people are perfect- Chile Pleaze! The standard of this book is real. How do we live saved in a real world reality, when evil is always present?

Thanks again, Robin, for the encouragement! Hope you'll all give this a try. Who knows what you'll find in your name!

Leaving singing "Grandma got run over by a reindeer...la la la la la la la la la"

P.S. Just one more word...

People! With just seven entries to the Puttery Treats Challenge at close of play I am possessed by the urge to extend the deadline to next Tuesday the 20th of November and to throw in Mrs Beetons Board Game and some to die for Rose Creams to an already scumptious box of Brocante treats...

Get writing!
~Alison of BrocanteHome

If you get a spare moment over the weekend, toss your cap in!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

What Do You Do?

I have another question for you. How do you decide what to blog about? For example, do you show up at your blog with a clear goal in mind for the day or are you more likely to wait for inspiration to strike? Do you or have you ever considered dividing your days into specific categories? For example: Brin's Monday Moment or Melissa's Sweet Escape? I'm going to sit back and wait for the comments to roll in.

Leaving you with a picture of Blue Boy. He's massive. Yesterday, he was stationed in my tiny living room. Today, he's shoved into the southeast corner of the addition. Wrangling him down the hallway meant removing his feet and the doorknobs of the doors to the cellar and the linen closet. At one point, he was so firmly stuck in the bathroom door that I was worried that I'd be leaving the house to find a restroom. But grit and determination won out. Today? Well today I am feeling kinda sore and I daresay that I deserve it for being so independent. I hate asking for help.

However, I did ask for help today so I hope that you'll fill me in. Thanking you in advance!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Gift of Goodbye

And the rip of packing tape can be heard in the land...

Some days are better than others. Today is a better day. Not good. Just better. I have been packing up a few things that have been boxed and covered in the addition. These were mostly decorative items that I hoped to reintroduce in the new space. As it turns out, they're off to other new spaces.

Anyway, in the decluttering process thanks to FlyLady (see sidebar), I found an essay by T.D. Jakes. I love this essay and printed it off several years ago. It can be found in numerous places on the net with a simple bit of Googling. Clicking on the words will take you to T.D. Jakes' web site. Here is the essay in its entirety:

There are people who can walk away from you.

And hear me when I tell you this! When people can walk away from you: let them walk.

I don't want you to try to talk another person into staying with you, loving you, calling you, caring about you, coming to see you, staying attached to you. I mean hang up the phone.

When people can walk away from you let them walk. Your destiny is never tied to anybody that left.

People leave you because they are not joined to you. And if they are not joined to you, you can't make them stay.


And it doesn't mean that they are a bad person it just means that their part in the story is over. And you've got to know when people's part in your story is over so that you don't keep trying to raise the dead.

You've got to know when it's dead.

You've got to know when it's over. Let me tell you something. I've got the gift of goodbye. It's the tenth spiritual gift, I believe in goodbye. It's not that I'm hateful, it's that I'm faithful, and I know whatever God means for me to have He'll give it to me. And if it takes too much sweat I don't need it. Stop begging people to stay.


If you are holding on to something that doesn't belong to you and was never intended for your life, then you need to...


If you are holding on to past hurts and pains...


If someone can't treat you right, love you back, and see your worth...


If someone has angered you...


If you are holding on to some thoughts of evil and revenge...


If you are involved in a wrong relationship or addiction...


If you are holding on to a job that no longer meets your needs or talents...


If you have a bad attitude...


If you keep judging others to make yourself feel better...


If you are struggling with the healing of a broken relationship.......


If you keep trying to help someone who won't even try to help themselves...


If you're feeling depressed and stressed...


Get Right or Get Left, think about it, and then...

~T.D. Jakes

(I'm not letting this picture go...)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The BrocanteHome Puttery Treats Challenge

"There is a surface in your house you see more than any other. Where is it? The mantelpiece? The sideboard the TV sits on? The windowsill above the kitchen sink? Your bedside table? Wherever it is, decide now to completely re-invent it. Remove every object on it. Polish it to a shine and then give it new life. Imagine you are setting up a still life for a painter. Add quirky, silly temporary touches... an orange, or a bowl of apples. A little bundle of handwritten letters and a pen. A branch of blossom from the garden. Put a mirror behind the display to double its deliciousness..." ~Alison

Sooooo, here I am skidding in kinda late for Alison's Puttery Treats Challenge. This challenge ends November 15 (*hint* *hint* *nudge* *nudge*). It's going to be a lot of fun to see what everyone has done. My entry is going to be fantastic for its sheer simplicity. Simplicity. That's the key word. Let me just show you so you can be as amazed as I am by simpleness. ;>

Everything about my former display from those hideous green candles to the tiny little things scattered about is all wrong. One is a bird from a box of tea, another a teeny-weeny bottle of amber from Denmark's shore (a gift from my niece), and the wee little chickadee plate that my mother-in-law gave me. Oh dear! Can this window sill be saved?????

See how simple? Yes, I cheated by lighting the new candles thereby picking up the gold rim in the plate. Notice how cleverly I positioned the chickadee plate for a layering effect. It's Thanksgiving so tossing in some little pumpkins, etc., seemed right with just a hint of bittersweet to the left.

This has been great fun even if I have all the hope of a snowball in well-you-know-where of actually taking the prize.

If you haven't, and I can't imagine who you might be if you haven't, you must visit Alison of BrocanteHome. Alison has such amazing ideas. Real ideas. Fresh ideas. New ideas that can be put to good use today. Not to mention that her blog is beautiful and that she is generous with free downloads and that she is an amazing writer.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Veterans Day

While I was having a meltdown, my country honored its veterans. I may be a day late to join in, but I do so with respect for all the men and women who have ever served. One can not live in a free country without recognizing the ones who made that possible and those who continue to make that possible.

We have all known a veteran. Some of us have been children, grandchildren, and even spouses of veterans. Today, many are moms and dads of military members and that is most certainly the toughest place to be in since so many servicemen and women are in harm's way. Let us continue to pray for our military and to pray that they will prevail.

*If I Die Before You Wake

Sunday, November 11, 2007

O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go

Isn't this golden library beautiful? I'm definitely hanging out here today; although, something may have to be done about the sofa. I'm thinking a leather sofa would be nice.

Why am I thinking of libraries today? Because George Matheson wrote his famous hymn "O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go" in a library away back in 1882. Yup, that's why.

Truth is, I haven't been doing very well. My emotions are all over the place. I have been angry and resentful, sad and pitiful, self-pitying and mean-spirited. I'm definitely not in a happy place. (My poor friend Claudi has dealt with the worst of it; she's probably nodding her head as she reads this.)

Yesterday was particularly rough. The garden needed to be put to bed, the lawn needed one last mowing, the leaves needed raking and mulching, so many things. And, as I was busy going about all that, I remembered something E.B. White once said while watching his aging wife tend her fall garden. It went a little like this: One has to admire the courage of a person who tends her garden in autumn knowing that she will not see the flowers bloom in spring. Well, that did it! I began to cry and could barely mow the lawn in tidy rows. Wait! I never mow my lawn in tidy rows. Anyway, if that wasn't the most self-pitying moment I've experienced yet... I'm not "aged" and I'm not "dying." It just feels as if I am.

Then, in the afternoon, I had to attend my mother's birthday gathering with all the clan and pretend to be cheerful. Bother! What a difficult thing it is this pretending.

Last evening, I found myself alone at home. Nothing new. I kind of prefer it that way truth to tell. I puttered at this and that and then decided to play the piano for a bit. That's when the hymn book fell open to Matheson's hymn. I hadn't played it for years...decades...but I played it last night. It was as if I were covered in gooey warm honey for about fifteen minutes there. Gooey warm honey and hot wet tears. The words resonated powerfully with me.

Later, when I had regained some composure, I remembered a book long forgotten. It's called 101 Hymn Stories by Kenneth W. Osbeck and it happened to be hiding on the bookshelf behind the first row of books. What I read there absolutely floored me. I was completely gobsmacked, I'm telling you. It proved to me once and for all that there are no coincidences. None.

I'll just quote it so that you will see what I mean:

"My hymn was composed in the manse of Innellan... I was at that time alone. It was the day of my sister's marriage... Something happened to me, which was known only to myself, and which caused me the most severe mental suffering. The hymn was the fruit of that suffering. It was the quickest bit of work I ever did in my life. I had the impression rather of having it dictated to me by some inward voice than of working it out myself. I am quite sure that the whole work was completed in five minutes, and equally sure it never received at my hands any retouching or correction. I have no natural gift of rhythm..."

You see, George Matheson was blind and the pastor of a 2000-member church in Edinburgh, Scotland. He was a popular and powerful preacher in his day. And, he depended upon his sister who was his helper to the point of learning Greek, Latin, and Hebrew herself so that she could better assist him.

Although I am far removed from George Matheson's station in life, I certainly understand being dependant upon a sister and the anguish that comes of change.

O Love that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in thee;
I give thee back the life I owe,
That in thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.

O Light that foll’west all my way,
I yield my flick’ring torch to thee;
My heart restores its borrowed ray,
That in thy sunshine’s blaze its day
May brighter, fairer be.

O Joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain,
That morn shall tearless be.

O Cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from thee;
I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red
Life that shall endless be.

Clicking on the words will take you to You Tube where David Phelps sings "O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go."

Picture Source

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Oh, Wouldja Look at That!

Isn't this lovely? I found it via Linda at Restyled Home (see sidebar) where she features Matthew Mead. There are terrific crafts and beautiful things to see at his site. I am linking to this craft with all the directions right *here* under the style section.

Yes, for all of those who are visiting from outside the U.S., it's interesting to see that here we are still in the land of pumpkins, leaves, and fall decor. But that craft has sooooo much potential, don't you think? I can see vintage Christmas cards, postcards, photographs, etc. What can you see?

This morning finds me baking the cake that I didn't bake yesterday. The carpenter was in the middle of such messes that I couldn't bear to turn on the oven and roast him out. He's forever asking who turned up the heat.

Anyway, it smells heavenly. The cake that is. Lately I feel like an echo or a director of blogs. Look at this! Look at that! Oh!! Now this would be lovely! Maybe some fine day I'll get an idea of my own to share. The cake, back to the cake. It's the recipe that Tina posted yesterday at Cherry Hill Cottage . Her directions and photographs made it all too simple. I'll let you know how it turns out. Did I say that it smells wonderful?

Edited to Add: Oh dear! I knew that cake was smelling way too good. It had 14 minutes left on the timer, but it is done plus a teensy bit more. That oven of mine!

Friday, November 9, 2007

Better Late Than Never

It was so much fun looking for books yesterday. It's the last of the autumn birthdays so I had shopping to do. I found Jan Karon's new book Home to Holly Springs where Father Tim learns whether one really can ever go home again. I hope so!

I found a little book for my grandsons based on "Over the River and Through the Woods." How timely, eh?

And, at last, I found Victoria and Paula Deen's Christmas! I am so excited about those. I was a titch disappointed with the Victoria magazine just because it's kinda skimpy; perhaps it'll be more full the next time.

As I chatted with the clerk, I mentioned that so many bloggers are excited about Victoria. She said that she was in charge of magazines and that knowing that was very helpful since she'd place it more prominently.

Hope that you all have an amazing weekend! I'm going to find some time to chill with two magazines.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Thou Shalt Not Whine

This little sign has been hanging over my bedroom bookcase for a few years now. I first purchased it as a reminder to my high school students that I didn't want to hear any fussing. As I looked at it last night, I decided that I should move it to a more prominent place so that perhaps I might avoid committing the grievous sin of whining. And, yes, I would like a little cheese with my whine. :) As I was trying to decide where to place it, the carpenter said, "Is it whining if you're just stating the facts?" Interesting question. I don't know the answer.

While having coffee with my mom yesterday afternoon, I suddenly announced, without any forethought whatsoever, that I would be hosting Thanksgiving dinner right here. She was very relieved because these huge dinners for twelve adults and two great-grandchildren are getting to be too much for her anymore. This way, she can enjoy doing some baking without worrying about all the cleaning and preparation involved. Who knows where we'll all be next year, but this year, the time we have right now, is where we shall place our focus.

It's good to have something to plan. Very good.

P.S. Just as I suspected, my parents are quite attached to their bear and they don't want him (or her) to be shot. S/he's been happily munching apples on the side lawn for a few nights now. I hope that they don't mind not having evening visitors of the human variety any more. :)

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Over the River and Through the Woods

Over the river and through the woods,
To grandmother's house we go;
The horse knows the way to carry the sleigh,
Through the white and drifted snow, O!

Over the river and through the woods,
Oh how the wind does blow!
It stings the toes, and bites the nose,
As over the ground we go.

Over the river and through the woods,
To have a first-rate play;
Oh hear the bells ring, "Ting-a-ling-ling!"
Hurrah for Thanksgiving Day, Hey!

Over the river and through the woods,
Trot fast my dapple gray!
Spring over the ground, like a hunting hound!
For this is Thanksgiving Day, Hey!

Over the river and through the woods,
And straight through the barnyard gate,
We seem to go extremely slow.
It is so hard to wait!

Over the river and through the woods,
Now grandmother's cap I spy!
Hurrah for the fun! Is the pudding done?
Hurrah for the pumpkin pie!

Believe it or not, I can remember singing this song for the first time away back in my first grade classroom. That classroom was a large rectangular space in the little brick schoolhouse, which was over 100 years old even when I attended and that was a good many years ago. There was a wall of huge windows that went from just above the row of bookshelves all the way up to a very tall ceiling. As it was an upstairs classroom, we were always roasty, toasty warm, which is such a wonderful memory on this chilly morning. On the back wall, there was a large framed print of a Pilgrim family hiding behind a great big tree as an Indian passed by. (I have tried without success to find this painting to include, but perhaps some will remember seeing it.)

One blistering cold November day when snow began to spit, our beloved teacher Mrs. Pulsifer taught us this song and we sang it with all the gusto that first graders can muster. Mrs. Pulsifer provided me with my first sense of wonder at the Thanksgiving story. Thanksgiving remains my favorite part of American history and my favorite holiday.

Maybe all of this is why I find myself longing for these bowls. I really don't need the bowls; I really don't have the space for the bowls, but I want the bowls. What do you think? Are they great bowls or is it just me?


Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Bookshelves and Bears

I was reading one of the many newsletters that I receive. In one, from Dan Miller, a story is told of a golfer who always lobbed his golfball directly into the water instead of over to the green beyond. He determined that his problem was focusing too much on the obstacle instead of on his real goal...the green. It has made me think of how many times I do that, too.

For example, the bookshelves have been finished for a week. They have been sitting there empty because I have been thinking what's the point. Here's a pic. As you can see, I've decided to put something on my side. I don't know if sis will do something on hers, but that's not my deal. My side is my deal. It looks a lot better and makes me smile.

This morning, I received a call at six from a hunter wanting to know how early my parents would be up. Sigh. "Not now!" was my reply. Seems he has a license to shoot bear and is quite eager to find the one wreaking havoc on my parents' back lawn. Somehow, though, I think my parents will decline. I'll keep you posted.

Monday, November 5, 2007

What's Out There?

Did I just say that I was turning this back to my pretty blog? Then I go and post a picture like this, which definitely qualifies as the nastiest quality yet.

Saturday morning, my mom asked me what would bend a birdfeeder pole in two, open a heavily lidded container of birdseed and eat all thirty pounds of it. I said, "A bear!" She said, "No, I'm thinking a raccoon."

Well, I love to crow when I am right. Do you see the bear? He was back last night looking for more birdseed. He's huge! I explained just how Mother could get a better photo, but her response was "Just a screen between the two of us?! You've got to be kidding." I'd go up to help her out, but I have a lot to do tonight. ;>

Oh, the warden says that bears get a bum rap, that they're hungry and looking to load up on calories before they go into hibernation soon, and that if my parents will just take in the birdfeeder for a couple of weeks, he'll stop visiting. Hmmmm, wonder how they're going to take in their crabapple tree.

Edited to Add: Almost forgot...it's Monday's Moment at My Messy, Thrilling Life. I love Mondays, don't you?

Edited to Add on 11/08/2007: My friend Christin tells me that she can't make out the bear so I think that many of you may have had trouble. Here's the same picture with an outline around the bear.

Sunday, November 4, 2007


Ahhh, this looks as good a place as any to hang out today.

When I was down in that cold Methodist Church basement yesterday, I spent some time reading the bulletin board. A good, newsy bulletin board is a wonderful thing. And I found two great things on that board. The first was a little saying that goes like this: If you can't sleep, don't count sheep, talk to the Shepherd. I like that...I've been having such trouble sleeping lately. The night before last, I poured a large tumbler full of brandy and toddled off to bed at 6:30 in the evening. It was scary how well that worked so I won't be repeating that often. Counting sheep actually does work quite well for me, but I am prone to awake with a start several times in the night. The talking with the Shepherd idea is fine unless in the talking one forgets to leave it there with Him. It's His deal if we yield to Him.

The second thing was the Complete Serenity Prayer. I didn't know anything about the Serenity Prayer past the first verse. It has three verses and here are the words:

The Serenity Prayer
By Reinhold Niebuhr

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change
Courage to change the things I can
and wisdom to know the difference

Living one day at a time
Enjoying one moment at a time
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace.
Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is,
not as I would have it

Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
forever in the next.

My favorite line is "taking this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it." There are so many things where we simply have no choice other than our own attitude. Try as we might, some things are truly beyond us.

Last night, I was visiting Kari at Just Livin' Large (see side panel) and she directed me to South Breeze Farm where Leah has an "I'm Giving Thanks" project going. I'm a little behind, but I hope to join in, too. Perhaps not by making Leah come here to check on my list, but by directing folks to her.

Have a blessed Sunday!

Picture Source

If you click on the words to the Serenity Prayer, it will take you to a site where beautiful pictures will accompany the words. Nice if you have the time.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Christmas Fair Day

Today is going to be a good day. I have declared it to be so; therefore, I'm expecting nothing but good. Many of the area churches working in harmony with one another (for a delightful change) are hosting a Christmas Fair. My mother and I are starting off before nine and we plan to hit every single one of them from the Gift Shoppe Open House in the center of town to the Congregational Church, up to Our Lady of Ransom, and then over to see what the Methodists are up to; finally, away over to the next town to visit with The Poland House. I'll be certain to share more later.

Edited to add: It's later and time for some pretty pictures because this is my pretty blog or I'm going to turn it back into my pretty blog. (Thanks for the term, M-N!) Everything or nearly everything I said above is a lie. If I had known at the time, I wouldn't have told such tall tales, but I truly believed it. Anyway, we went to the only two available Christmas fairs today...the Methodists and the Down-Town Gift Shoppe.

Now those Methodists were hanging out in their basement all huddled together against the cold. I guess that they were being frugal and had not turned up the heat very much...and it's cold today! We're expecting some snow tonight. Nevertheless, they were certainly warm in welcoming everyone in. We signed up for a raffle on a beautifully displayed gift basket. Take my word for it, it was scrumptious.

My mother found her little nylon scrubbies that she uses on teflon pans and such and some of those ubiquitous dishcloths that everyone is making these days (I intensely dislike them because of their thickness, but others are very fond of them indeed, including my mother.) Then my mom found a cross-stitch kit that said "free" on it. When she put it in her bag, a very nice lady came over and asked if she could help. Then it dawned on Mother that the lady thought that she had stolen it. Sure enough! That mom of mine. Haha! Anyway, that all got cleared up and off we went to the food table.

Mother found a pecan pie and some delicious fudge. We ate the fudge before I could take a picture...sorry. But here's the pecan pie. Yes, delicious, even if I do hate a store-bought crust. I'm such a pie crust snob.

Then we meandered our way back to town where we were unable to find a parking space at the Gift Shoppe. Every year, the owner has an Open House and opens her family's living area above the store. It is beautifully decorated for the holidays and is filled with the aromas of mulled cider and brownies fresh from the oven. It's a great combination on a chilly day!

This is my mother's stash of little gifts to tie on packages and a card for my niece a new home-owner. The snowman is her gift to herself since she has a collection. I think he's darling.

Me? I was a very good girl and decided not to spend too much. I bought a package of seasoning...bacon and cheddar...to make into a dip. I love dips at holiday times.
Oh, and I bought a little Christmas memory book that family and friends can write in at Christmastime and then the little book hangs on the tree as an ornament. I'm definitely going to have my family do this for me this year since this will be the last Christmas that we're all together like this.

Next year, things will even be different at the Gift Shoppe since they'll be moving across the street into their new old building. Both buildings were once hotels back when my town was booming...let's see, that would have been 120 years ago or more. :) Anyway, here's a pic. Doesn't this look like a November day if you've ever seen one?

Friday, November 2, 2007

It's a Party!

Come on in! The big 100th post day is finally here. WELCOME!

That's how you'll be greeted by Melissa at The Inspired Room today. It's just one of the things I love about her blog. It's always fun and always warm and welcoming. So scoot...get on over there...things are happening!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Apple Pie

Is there anything more comforting than a warm apple pie? I don't think so!

One of my friends recently told me that she enjoys reading blogs, but she especially enjoys reading when it's all about food. This may be because she's on a diet program and she's hungry. I know what she means; I find myself gazing lovingly and longingly at food, too. And I have baked ever so much more since gazing at these gorgeous blogs. Can't say that I've ever been disappointed either.

This evening, my pie plate was returned; I baked this pie for a friend last week and never even had one bite of it. He assures me that it was delicious...I'll take his word for it. Baking apple pies is very labor intensive so I won't be baking another any time soon.

Here's the recipe:

Award Winning Apple Pie

* 1 pastry for double-crust pie (Recipe below)
* 3/4 cup granulated sugar
* 1/4 cup packed brown sugar OR 1/4 cup maple sugar
* 2 TBS all-purpose flour
* 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
* 1/4 tsp salt
* 3 pounds of tart cooking apples, peeled, cored, and sliced thin (about 8 cups)
* 3 TBS butter cut up
* 1/4 cup cream
* 1 or 2 TBS milk
* 1 TBS sanding sugar

In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugars, flour, cinnamon, and salt. Add apples, toss until coated and add to a pastry-lined pie plate. Dot with the butter and pour the cream over the filling. Trim the edge of the pie using a fork to press down the seams. Brush crust with milk and sprinkle with sanding sugar.

Bake in a 375° oven for 30 to 40 minutes with foil over the edges. Remove foil and bake for 20 to 30 minutes longer or until the fruit is tender and filling is bubbly. Cool on a wire rack.

My Favorite Basic Pie Crust Recipe...simple and good every time

* 2 2/3 all-purpose flour (I prefer King Arthur unbleached and unbromated.)
* 1 tsp salt
* 1 cup Crisco shortening
* 7 to 8 TBS (maybe more) of ice-cold water (Add ice cubes to a cup of water to get it good and cold.)

Mix together adding just enough water to bring the dough together. Roll out to desired thickness and do not overwork.
Printable Recipe

Happy November, everyone!
(I love November. That's because Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday...more about that another day.)