Wednesday, January 31, 2007

His Compassions Fail Not

"This I recall to mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is Thy faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in Him. The Lord is good unto them that wait for Him, to the soul that seeketh Him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord."

Lamentations 3:21-26

This is one of my favorite scripture passages --- a morning tonic for every day!

Mother's Garden Scrapbook

Wintry days are good days to think about spring. The seed catalogs are arriving in the mail, and I've scanned through some of them, but not seriously yet. I know, I need to make up my mind about what to plant soon or the good seeds will be out of stock, but for best inspiration, I found my mother's garden scrapbook and have it set on the dining room table for perusal. Mother's Garden Scrapbook contains poetry, verse, and pictures of mom's garden and the gardens of her grandmother, mother, sister, and daughters. I suppose it's a heritage that has been passed down through the family --- a love of gardens, flowers, and spring. And what a wonderful heritage it is!

The verse by mother reads:

"Let's stroll the way of remembering
Let's open the garden gate
And take the path to the garden
Where the happy thoughts won't wait.

We'll visit some old time gardens. . .
And relive their history,
There's Grandma's. . .and Momma's too
And more. . .in this family."

Great-grandmother Edna lived on the Alberta prairie, but always found time for flowers amongst her farming chores.

Grandma Helen nurtured a love of gardening in all four of her children. Her sons are known for their magnificent vegetable gardens, berries, and specialty flowers. And her daughters. . .for English-style flower beds and a wonderful knowledge of plants and flowers. Both girls loved to draw, paint, and write about their gardens as well, sometimes having their work published in magazines like "Creation Illustrated".

Mother started winning gardening awards at a young age. Pictures of her with gardening trophies grace several pages of her album. Evidently gardening was a great part of her teen years in British Columbia.

As a child, I remember going to the annual Iris Society Show in our local community. Mother would enter cuttings of her iris blossoms and frequently entered floral arrangement contests as well. She was known for all types of floral design. . .but was especially fond of the Japanese style of arrangement.

Mother's enthusiasm for flowers was expressed 'always' during our childhood years; of my little sis and me. Here we are in little spring dresses she stitched, holding nosegays from her garden beds.

Cozy Meal for a Wintry Evening

Wintry days mean early darkness and long, quiet evenings by the fire. For humans, just like the bears, hibernation seems to fit more closely into the pattern of life during this season. And there's nothing nicer than a hot comfort food for a time like this. Homemade soup and crackers for supper during the winter months is so soothing. Savory stews and simmering hot soups with hearty spreads on crackers or breads make a simple and delicious supper. Do you need an idea for your supper menu tonight? How about this one?

Hearty Split-Pea Soup

1 onion, chopped
1 tomato, peeled and chopped
2 Tbsp. oil
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. McKay's Chicken-Style Seasoning
1/2 Tbsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp. sage
6 cups water
1 cup split green peas
4 potatoes, peeled and sliced
2 carrots, sliced

In a large kettle, saute the onion and tomato in oil. Add seasonings and saute mixture a few minutes more. Add water and split peas; cook about 30 minutes until vegetables are tender, peas are soft and almost mushy, and soup has thickened. Serve hot with sesame crackers.

Serves 6

Sesame Crackers

1/2 cup water
6 Tbsp. oil
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups whole grain gluten-free flour blend (millet, quinoa, brown rice)*
1/2 cup sesame seeds

Blend water, oil, and salt in blender at medium speed until well blended. Pour into bowl and add flour and sesame seeds. Mix well, then knead in bowl or on lightly floured surface until mixture becomes like dough. Divide in half, then sprinkle with salt and more sesame seeds. Roll out on waxed paper to thickness of thin wafers. Cut into squares and bake at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes or less. Watch carefully; they brown easily.

Simple Bean Spread or Dip

1 - 15 oz. can kidney beans, mashed
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
1/2 cup black olives, chopped
1/2 tsp. cumin powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 cup mayonnaise*
salt to taste

Blend all ingredients well and chill. Serve as a spread on the sesame crackers. Yum!

*I like Vegannaise --- the best tasting mayo yet!
*A commercial gluten-free flour blend can be used as well. For non-gluten-free individuals, use whole wheat flour.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Guarding the Crumbs

Wintry Themes

There was no sunrise this morning, only light that slowly seeped into the atmosphere, showing the gray of skies and surroundings. Days like this require sunshine of the soul! Scripture, photo, and verse work together to revive a wintry spirit and bring sunshine to the heart!

"The day is thine, the night also thine: thou hast prepared the light and the sun."

Psalm 74:16

Therefore all seasons shall be sweet to thee,
Whether the summer clothe the general earth
With greenness, or the redbreast sit and sing
Betwixt the tufts of snow on the bare branch
Of mossy apple-tree, while the nigh thatch
Smokes in the sun-thaw; whether the eve-drops fall, heard only in the trances of the blast,
Or if the secret ministry of frost
Shall hang them up in silent icicles,
Quietly shining to the quiet Moon.

Forstar Midnight
S.T. Coleridge

Of China and History

My husband's family history was lovingly documented and illustrated in an album created by his mother, Audrey. Photos, snippets of written history, letters, newspaper clippings, poetry, and more trace his heritage through Quaker roots, to a very great (eleven times over) grandfather, William who was born in England about 1595. Mom Audrey held her ancestors in high regard and taught her sons life lessons by retelling stories of generations gone before. Additionally, she shared valued mementos --- tidbits and pieces of heritage in the form of old quilts, scraps of lace, photographs, and lovely china. These mementos were frequently shared with her sons and her daughters by marriage at birthday's or Christmas celebrations. I was the fortunate recipient of two beautiful bowls which were owned by my husband's Great-great Grandfather and Grandmother, Albert and Ellen Mary. These great-great grandparents were farmers, known in family history as the grandparents who lived during the Civil War. Grandmother Ellen Mary spent four years (1861 - 1865) tending the farm alone while Grandfather Albert was a soldier in the war. Recently Aunt Marcella found transcripts of some letters written by Grandfather Albert to his darling wife, Grandmother Ellen Mary. Tales of camp life, injury and illness, battles, and instructions for the farm are all outlined by him and he shares details of his life with his wife. They remind of a country divided, and again united in purpose and goal, brotherhood with freedom and liberty for all.

Here's a letter written by Albert to his wife, Ellen Mary. In it he describes the Battle of Fort Stedman which took place on the morning of March 25, 1865. In it, the Army of Northern Virginia, under the command of General Gordon, attempted to carry out a carefully planned and what at first promised to be a successful effort to break the Union lines and reach the military railroad and base of supplies at Mead Station.

Camp in front of Petersburg near Fort Hell
March 26, 1865

My Dear Wife,

These few lines leave me tollable well and hoping they may find you the same. Well, Ell, I saw the Elephant yesterday, as I have heard them tell about. The Rebs charged on one of our forts yesterday morning before day brake, took our men on surprise, took the fort and nearly all the men that was in it. We wase encamped about one mile away. We hurd the frachis and were soon up and out in line of battle on double quick. We were under heavy fire from Rebs forts nearly all the way from ear up to the battle ground. We took down a run; there was high banks put up from each side which sheltered us from the heavy fire. When we got nearly opposite the fort, we charged up over the bank and through an open field over one line of breast works and through to the fort on a kean runn with thunderous yells and into the fort we went. It was full of Rebs. They surrendered at once. All that I see were waving there handkerchiefs and hats and hollering: "We give up, don't shute." The loss and of our Regiment was five killed and forty wounded. The two hundredeth Regt. had charged another fort twice but were repulsed each time, but when the 207 came up it was fun to see the Johnnies fly to the cathole. I have only mentioned in the above the one fort, but there was two forts that the Rebs had taken from us and we retook both of them. The one that our Regt. took was Ft. Stedman. The other was a small Ft. near by. After the firing had seased, we found over 1000 ded Rebs around and in the one ft. The other I know nothing about. Their loss was ten. In our one, prisners and those that came in and give them selves up, amounted to six thousand. The Nauvoo boys came out all right. Many of our men had a heavy fight up on the left. We took three or four lines of works and some railroad. I don't know how much all more at present. Best respects to all.


[General Gordon initally succeeded in capturing a part of the picket lines, Fort Stedman, and several batteries and was advancing on the Union lines when they encountered a part of Hartranft's Division. The 200th and 209th Pa. lay in the rear of Fort Stedman, and they succeeded in stopping the advance of the Confederates and held them at bay until the other four regiments of the division --- the 205th, 207th, 208th, and 211th Pa. --- encamped some distance away, were brought up. Under the personal direction of General Hartranft, we charged upon the Confederates and recaptured the ground they had taken, together with 1,945 prisoners. The Confederates also lost heavily in killed and wounded, as they retreated under heavy fire. Written by Rev. H. Whitaker, Corporal, Co. C, 205th Pa. Lancaster City, Pa.]

Two-Hour Taste in Ten Minutes

Collecting cookbooks can bring many hours of savory reading and tasty cooking in the kitchen! Although most cookbooks in my collection are appreciated because of their beautiful, colorful illustrations and creative ideas, my favorite 'winter' cookbook contains not one photograph, but contains a wealth of recipes that always turn out so well when implemented in my kitchen. It is "Great Vegetarian Cooking Under Pressure", written by a leading authority on pressure cooking, Lorna J. Sass is a food writer for periodicals and cookbooks. Rich in recipes containing exotic whole grains like quinoa, amaranth, and millet, it also features recipes for legumes, winter vegetables, and desserts. The recipe titles are so inviting, it makes it difficult to choose 'which' recipe to make next. Listen to some of them! "Baby Limas with Spinach and Dill" and "Gingered Adzuki-Squash Stew". Or "Millet Rice Oreganato" and "Tarragon-Scented White Bean Soup". The desserts are just as inviting! How about "Date-Nut Couscous" or "Fig-Hazelnut Risotto"? Or a "Pear Pudding-Cake"? Yum! My pressure cooker makes wholesome family suppers quickly and with the help of Lorna Sass and the 150 exceptional vegetarian recipes in this cookbook, my pressure cooker has become a safe and effective tool in my kitchen.

Sharing one of my favorites. . .
Risotto with Winter Squash

1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 cup finely chopped shallots or onions
Generous teaspoon dried sage leaves
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
3 1/2 t0 4 cups vegetable stock
1 pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch chunks (about 3 cups)
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
* * * * *
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar to taste (or lemon juice)
2 Tablespoons minced fresh

Heat the oil in the cooker. Cook the shallots over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, for 1 minute. Add the sage and rice, stirring to coat the rice with the oil. stir in 3 1/2 cups of teh stock (stand back to avoid sputtering oil) and bring to the boi. Add the squash and salt.

Lock the lid in place. Over high heat, bring to high pressure. Lower the heat just enough to maintain high pressure and cook for 5 minutes. Reduce the pressure with as quick-release method. Remove the lid, tilting it away from you to allow any excess steam to escape.

If the risotto isn't creamy, stir in a bit more stock. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the rice achieves the desired consistency (it should be tender but chewy) and the squash is partially pureed. Stir in the vinegar (or lemon juice) and parsley. Serve immedately in shallow soup bowls.

French Knot Delight

My exchange partner in the tea towel swap group is Barbara from Arkansas. I recently received a marvelous package from her that was filled with a vintage dresser scarf, lavender dryer bags, a variety of tea samples, and a beautiful tea towel. She must have spent hours creating the hundred's of French knots on this towel! Her stitching is even and the colors she selected are especially cheerful for me during this wintry month. Thank you, Barbara, for making my day!

Monday, January 29, 2007

Morning Tonic

A morning sunrise on a winter day; shadows of beauty on a cold world! It's a day to sing of the Lord's goodness and share a favorite verse with you!

"I will sing of the lovingkindness of the Lord forever; to all generations I will make known Thy faithfulness with my mouth."

Psalm 89:1

Stovetop Granola

Granola --- a crunchy, nutritious, wholesome food --- but sometimes such work to make. At least it was when I was a teenager and our family had a granola baking day. Huge batches that slowly baked in the large trays in the oven for hours were the norm. As the years have gone by, I've found that I've prepared it less and less --- until I found this simple recipe! Now I make granola in smaller batches in a skillet on the stove! And it's simply delicious! Wholesome and not too crunchy, this recipe is one that is easily adapted to ingredients on hand. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Stovetop Granola

3 cups rolled quinoa flakes*
1/2 cup coarsely chopped nuts (walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, etc.)
1/4 cup sesame seeds (or other seeds such as flax and poppy)
1/2 cup dried shredded coconut, unsweetened
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup olive oil
1/3 cup maple syrup (or alternative sweetener)
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup dried fruit (raisins, currants, cranberries, dates, pineapple, apple, apricot, pear, prune)

In a large, cold skillet place flakes, nuts, seeds, coconut, and cinnamon. Mix well. Blend the oil, syrup and vanilla together in a cup. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients in the skillet, stirring well to blend. Turn the heat under the skillet to medium high. Toast the mixture, stirring frequently until the flakes and nuts are crispy and burned, the sesame seeds start to pop, and the maple syrup smells like burnt sugar --- but be careful not to let the mixture burn! Toasting should take no more than five to seven minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in the dried fruits. Let the granola rest in the skillet to cool, stirring it occasionally to break up any clumps. When mixture is cooled to room temperature, transfer the granola to a glass or plastic container with a tight fitting lid. Granola can be refrigerated for about a month, or frozen for about two months. Serve with milk of choice (soy, rice, or almond are delicious) or juice. Enjoy!

*May substitute rolled oats for quinoa flakes.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Cutting the Fat

Gwen has posted a thoughtful devotional on her blog, Moments. Giving much to consider, she talks about resolutions for the new year and of looking at the world through spiritual eyes. If you'd like to read it, click on her link in my favorites section or go to:

Enjoy a clean, fresh day!

Paired in Patchwork

Although I prefer the second patchwork to this one, I am intrigued by the skill and care that was put into constructing both patchwork aprons. When both patchwork aprons are compared, it can be seen that the same design ideas were used for both: the line of plain blocks down the center and the set of three identical blocks used next to the waistband. The designer used great care in balancing colors and patterns with both aprons. This can be noted by observing the blocks on either side of the center column of plain blocks.

Patchwork Apron

Today, this is my favorite apron (tomorrow it may be another!). I wanted to share a picture that showed the design more closely. Notice that the patchwork has been planned so that the center striped blocks are all plain (except for the top one; it matches the blocks on either side of it). The designer did a nice job of balance --- note the two red blocks on each side of the intense blue one; or the two turquoise blocks just below the yellow). Although every point is not perfectly matched, the eye is comfortable with the design anyway. The diagonal method used in creating the design lends itself to the A-line style of the pattern and the fabric falls gracefully from the waistband. The bias binding used for this apron is quite narrow, but does not look homemade. It's been applied carefully and with skill.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

An Apron Kind of Day

Last night's skiff of snow is gone, but the air is clear and cold. It's the perfect kind of day to wash, starch, and iron aprons so they are as crisp as the weather! These aprons are 'vintage' and were purchased on eBay recently as a 'lot' purchase. And what a find it was! Very inexpensive! Each apron is handmade and in excellent condition. With each one being of different 'character' and 'style', it difficult to choose a favorite.

Is it the green with bordered design printed in the yardage?

Or the gingham pink with embroidered black cross-stitched designs and tiny tucks in the waistband?

Maybe it's the dotted turquoise, red, and green print on winter white with panel pockets and red rick-rack trim.

For me, it's a tie! You know, as in apron tie?
I love the delicate crocheted aprons that are dressy and would work well for a tea-time hostess. But, the patchwork aprons, carefully sewed by some unknown seamstress, are simply delightful with bias cut and bias binding. The old-time fabrics and combination of colors, checks, dots, and florals make an interesting 'whole' in this matching pair.

Do you have a favorite?

What is it?

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Snow and Memories

It's very cold outside! With temperatures in the teens, we've been staying inside by a cozy wood fire most of the day. Skiffs of snow, patches of sunlight, gray cloudy skies, and a gentle, but very cold breeze reminds us that winter is here! The snow reminds me of childhood moments that brought my sister and me great pleasure. What creative little girls we were! I think we came by it naturally, as our mother was creative as well and always went along with our crazy plans and experiments. Sometimes we would take fresh snow and carefully pack it away in a plastic container, tucking it far back in the freezer, so we could enjoy it again during a very hot day in July! Or we'd scrape the snow off a frozen puddle on a concrete pad in the field next door, put on our ice skates, and go skating. Mind you, the patch was probably no more then 10 x 10 feet square! But, we were inventive and didn't mind the lack of very much space to skate (nor the fact that the ice was so thin, we were actually skating on concrete!). We'd catch clean, fresh snow as it was falling and try to eat it before it melted --- such fun, the feeling of it melting in your mouth. My sister grew up to enjoy snow camping --- sleeping in snow caves she learned to build in wilderness survival classes. I preferred to sleep in a warm, cozy place but did enjoy times of snowshoeing on snowshoes that my dad made out of conduit, leather, and cording. Our family would snowshoe deep into the woods, enjoying the fresh snow and the quiet of the wilderness --- no cars, no noise --- just the silence of a wintry forest where sounds were buffered by the insulation of clean, fresh snow. And then there was the ice cream! Yummy snow ice cream! Have you ever made it? Here's a recipe similar to the one we enjoyed. If you have a chance, try it out! What memories it will help you create:

Snow Ice Cream

1 gallon snow
1 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups milk (dairy or soy)

When it starts to snow, place a large, clean bowl outside to collect the flakes. When full, stir in sugar and vanilla to taste, then stir in just enough milk for the desired consistency. Serve at once.


Thursday, January 11, 2007

Message in a Bottle

The smooth finish and elegant shapes of bottles have always interested me. Some of my favorites are old bottles found while hiking in the Arizona desert --- worn, colored by sun, and unusual in design --- they sit on a shelf; a collection of years of saving old bottles family members have found. It's a strange collection and probably most people would discard them without a second thought, but collecting 'found' things like bottles, or heart-shaped rocks, or bird's nests make lovely and interesting collections that don't cost a thing to gather. Talking about bottles got me thinking about ways to use them. Most don't have lids, but corks can be purchased at hardware stores and used to top a bottle. Old bottles make nice vases for dried flowers or twigs, or they can be filled with dried pastas or legumes. Old bottles also make a pretty vessel for colored water and when set on a window sill the light shines through and brings cheer to a room. With Valentine's drawing near, a pretty-shaped bottle could be embellished with ribbons, pretty papers (inside to show through), or dried flowers --- and a message-in-a-bottle handwritten and placed inside --- as a special Valentine to someone you hold dear.

A found website containing poetry to fit inside a bottle:

Pleasant Pillow

I have a love affair with pillows! And, although I didn't purchase this one, I enjoyed it immensely as it sat on an antique wooden chair at the Classical Chinese Gardens. Silky satin in black with hot pink piping created the palette for a beautiful, three-dimensional Chinese jacket. Fastened on with tiny stitches, it had tiny piping, little buttons, and a perfect mandarin collar.

Although my home decor is not Asian in decor, I think this illustration provides inspiration for other projects that would fit my decor more appropriately. Ribbons, silk flowers, embroidered doilies, unusual buttons, a baby's sweater and bonnet, a pair of fancy lace gloves, or a favorite piece of cross-stitch could all be used to embellish a simple, plain pillow for my home.

What kinds of pillows could you make that would fit 'your style'? Are you into golf, sailing, hiking, camping, tea, kids, or pets? The skies the limit! On this January day, maybe it's time to get crafty and embellish a favorite pillow for your house! Happy planning!

The Bonsai Tree

The Bonsai Tree
by Marge Piercy

The bonsai tree
in the attractive pot
could have grown eighty feet tall
on the side of a mountain
till split by lightning.
But a gardener
carefully pruned it.
It is nine inches high.
Every day as he
whittles back the branches
It is your nature
to be small and cozy
domestic and weak;
how lucky, little tree,
to have a pot to grow in.
With living creatures
one must begin very early
to dwarf their growth:
the bound feet,
the crippled brain,
the hair in curlers,
the hands you
love to touch.

Photo: Portland Classical Chinese Gardens, Portland, Oregon

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Cookies, Always Cookies!

When I married my husband, I learned many wonderful homemaking techniques from his mother. She shared tips for decorating, recipes, and principles of hospitality. She was very health conscious and studied nutrition and the art of natural cooking. So, it was with great surprise that I discovered she frequently served cookies for breakfast! And what wholesome and delicious cookies they were! Whole grains, chopped nuts, dried fruits, and wheat germ; ingredients that provided fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other healthy elements so important for good health. Who said eating right had to be boring! How about some cookies for breakfast?

* * *

Pineapple Cookies

1 cup crushed pineapple, juice sweetened
1/4 cup honey or maple syrup
1 1/2 cups gluten free flour blend
(include sweet rice flour, garfava flour for nice texture)
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut
1/4 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt

Mix ingredients together. Drop by tablespoon onto a prepared baking sheet. Flatten slightly. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 - 20 minutes. Makes 2 dozen.

* * *

Banana Nut Cookies

1/2 cups gluten free flour blend
3 cups rolled quinoa flakes
1 cup water
1/2 cup pecan meal
1 1/4 cups chopped pecans
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. vanilla
3 large mashed bananas

Mix flour and oats. Blend water and pecan meal. Combine all ingredients, mixingwell. Drop by spoonful on prepared cookie sheets. Bake at 325 degrees until light brown, about 12 - 15 minutes. Makes about 5 dozen cookies.

* * *

Cashew Crumbles

2/3 cup peanut or cashew butter
1/2 cup cashews, ground dry in blender
3/4 cup honey or maple syrup
3 cups flour, combination of whole grain gluten-free flours
1/2 tsp. salt

Mix together. Roll into balls and press a thumb print into center of each. Fill indentation with fruit-juic sweetened raspberry jam or other favorite. Bake 10 - 15 minutes at350 degrees.

* * *

*The cookie recipes are all cholesterol free, contain no free fats, and use only natural sugars. Go ahead and enjoy them to your hearts content. They are chock filled with nutrition and are good for you! If you aren't used to so many whole food ingredients in cookies, try kicking them up a notch by adding your favorite spices: a touch of cinnamon or cardamom might help during the transition stage to healthier eating.
*If not gluten-free, substitute whole wheat and all-purpose flours.

Confessions of a Sheepish Gardener

I'm dreaming about springtime. . .and sharing a picture of my 'tea garden' in the summertime. Alas, it does not look anything like this on this barren winter day. At least the sun was shining and with temperatures in the low 60's today, I thought it was a good time to accomplish what I failed to achieve in October. The weather man is calling for snow tonight and another cold spell ahead. With Brent's good help on the shovel, I was able to complete planting bulbs that should have been in the ground months ago. The task was half done then when an early cold spell came and stayed. . .but the temperatures warmed up enough to make the soil soft and easy to work with. . .so today we got the rest of them in the ground. I hope they grow; they've been sitting in a bucket on the back porch so at least they've received their 'proper chill'. Next spring the 'tea garden' should be ablaze with:

*Double Narcisus
*Tazetta Narcissus
*Aflatunense Alium
*Triumph Tulip
*Latifolium Muscari
*Luciliae Chionodoxa
*Crysanthus Crocus
*Tommasinianus Crocus
*Single Coronaria Anemone
*Blanda Anemone
*Siberica Scila
*Oreophilum Allium
*Double Latte Tulip

The seed and plant catalogs are arriving in the mailbox daily. Dreaming about new growth and sketching new garden beds are pleasant ways to fill a winter day. And I will rest in the joy of this day as I await the spring days ahead.

A Work of Heart

Kukuzo Okakura's writing in The Book of Tea provides much for education on tea ceremony and gives a thoughtful perspective on this beautiful art. It's a book I've enjoyed reading today. Several quotes that I especially found meaningful for contemplation are:

"Those who cannot feel the littleness of great things in themselves are apt to overlook the greatness of little things in others."

"Tea is a work of art."

"The simplicity of the tea-room and its freedom from vulgarity make it truly a sanctuary from the vexation of the outer world."

*The photo today is of a tea luncheon set in my personal collection. It was made by my mother, another woman who adored 'all things tea'. In addition to the careful applique and embroidery stitching, I love the tiny flowers she embroidered on the tablecloth. It's just about too pretty to use, but use it I shall. Things like this are meant to be shared with those we love. It's all a part of gracious hospitality*

Monday, January 08, 2007

Bunny Slope

Does my lack of skiing ability show up in this picture? I'm sure it does! My journey through the photo files brought me to this very old picture of me with my mother. It was taken during my college years when we were on a school ski day. My father was on the college faculty, so my parents were frequently participants in college activities and events. If I recall, my boyfriend and father were having a blast, skiing from mountain top to base below while my mom and I were trying frantically to learn to ski on the bunny slopes! Oh such memories! It was a fun day!

Sip of Tea

"Meanwhile, let us have a sip of tea. The afternoon glow is brightening the bamboos, the fountains are bubbling with delight, the soughing of the pines is heard in our kettle. Let us dream of evanescence, and linger in the beautiful foolishness of things."

Heather Marek

Little Critters

During the coldness of January days, it's sometimes fun to look back at events of the previous year. I enjoyed going through photographs in my photo-file today, remembering what spring was like. I can hardly wait for it to arrive again, as it always brings fresh, new life to the earth and it's inhabitants. I found this picture of one of the twin squirrels we raised last spring. They'd been abandoned by their mother, and I became their adopted mother instead. Round-the-clock bottle feeding did produce weariness, but it was worth the effort each time the little ones would so eagerly greet me with their baby bottle. As they grew older and were able to eat solid food, they became more and more wary of humans. . .but instead kept a friendly and curious distance. Just like it is with human babies, you miss those days but are glad they they grow up to be independent creatures. Little critters --- one of God's gifts.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

One-Cup Tisane

It's cold and flu season. Fortunately there are nature's remedies to help us through it! Here's a recipe for One-Cup Tisane, an herbal blend that helps the immune system and promotes healing. If you don't have all these herbs on hand, a good health food store probably carries them in bulk and you can purchase them there. If you find all but one or two, go ahead and make the tea anyway. . .even substituting a similar herb if desired. For good health!

One-Cup Tisane

1 cup pennyroyal
1 cup catnip
1 cup horehound
1 cup spearmint
1 cup sage
1 cup lemon verbena
1 cup white yarrow

Gently mix all the herbs together in a large container. Keep airtight when not in use. To make, pour 4 cups of boiling water over 2 1/2 teaspoons of this herbal blend. Cover and allow to steep for ten minutes. Strain and sweeten with honey or stevia. Reheat and repeat, drinking one cup of this tisane every 2 - 3 hours.

A Recipe "For the Birds"

It's for the birds! A recipe to keep them happy during the cold days of winter!

In a large pan, melt 1 cup shortening and one cup crunchy peanut butter over medium heat. Then add 2 cups quick cooking oats, 2 cups cornmeal, one cup all purpose flour and 1/4 cup sugar. Smear this mixture into a pinecone and hang it in a tree or spoon it into holes in a small log. Then, get out your binoculars or stand quietly near your window and wait for the action! The birds will love you for it!

Cabin in the Woods

Yesterday Brent and Rylan decided to see if they could get to the cabin. With all the snow we've received this winter, the ten miles of mountain roads are impassible by vehicle. So, donning winter-ware and straddling Artic Cats, they meandered through the woods to mountain top. The cabin was safe and sound, sitting quietly in a snowy forest, seemingly just waiting for a visit from them.

Refreshing the Earth and Soul!

As the cold of snow in the time of harvest,
so is a faithful messenger to them that send him:
for he refresheth the soul of his masters.

Proverbs 25:13

Snow, Singing Heart

The picnic table stands under 18" or so inches of snow, just waiting for a picnic on a future summer day! The fire pit is hidden and benches buried! What a change from the usual look at this bare point! But, how clean and refreshing snow is --- a white world, pure, simple, and fresh! There's nothing like new snow to make the heart sing!

Of Shovels and Drifts

The steep slope of the roof keeps snow from piling up and adding weight to the top of the cabin, but since the weather is cold and the snow is not melting, it piles up below. Since both cabin doors are on the side where drifts pile up, we try to keep the doors cleared of snow so that when the spring melt occurs, water doesn't seep inside and ruin the floors. Yesterday Rylan worked diligently to shovel all the snow from both entry ways. What a lot of work! But he did good --- and then came home and took a long nap!

Friday, January 05, 2007

Winter Blues

Winter blues --- ever had them? The Christmas season is over with all it's excitement and fun times with family. Now the boys are back to school and we are in for the 'long haul' of winter. It seems like there is nothing to write about. Yet blogging is such a lovely way to relax --- so I've decided that for January I will post a review of interesting things I've photographed during the past year. I really believe in keeping the integrity of my blog in character with the season, but I hope you, dear blog reader, will bear with me as I review past events until creative thought and pretty things to blog happen again!

So, let's talk about this photo (huge smile). Taken in December, it shows Brandon and Rylan walking a beach at high tide on the morning after a big storm. The surf is still rugged and sea foam fills the beach. It was so deep that a picnic table in the picnic area was half covered with it. I've never seen so much sea foam at once --- deep, fluffy, dirty white, and abundant! When visiting candy shops so frequent in small, seaside towns --- sea foam is a common and popular candy. Now I see why! It is fully in character with the ocean scene. Last summer this beach was swarming with sunbathers, shelters, and sand castles. Now, it's free of people and things --- just two young men enjoying the heady experience of avoiding waves and taking photos along the shore.

"Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad;
let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof."

Psalms 96:11

Tuesday, January 02, 2007


is neither virtue nor
pleasure not this thing nor
that but simply growth, we
are happy when we are growing.

William Butler Yeats

Photo: Beach at Haceta Head Lighthouse

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

May God's richest blessings be yours in 2007!