Sunday, January 31, 2010

Linens and Lace

The days of yesteryear. A wardrobe was a valuable commodity for any woman. Each piece was held in high regard and was carefully stitched by hand or treadle machine. Quality workmanship was essential, as there were not discount stores to buy a quick replacement if stitching wore out. Each outfit was carefully planned and accessorized. And extras were the exception, not the rule. The result, some very well dressed women! The stories of Laura Ingalls Wilder and the emphasis given to sewing her wedding trousseau has always held much fascination for me!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

A Kindred-Spirit Friend

A kindred-spirit friend celebrates the best in you, reveres and completes the deep unspoken part of your innermost being, honors your victories, and mourns your losses. Such a friend opens doors of discovery into places your soul never knew existed. You have a sense that the very act of giving from your heart is at the same time a refilling.

~ Heartlifters for Friends ~

Friday, January 29, 2010


"Father, give me the grace today to take time. Time to be with you. Time to be with others. Time to enjoy the life you have given to me. Help me remember that today is the day you have made. May I rejoice and be glad in it! Amen."

~ Luci Swindoll, Joy Breaks ~

Thursday, January 28, 2010

At Thy Door

"Go not abroad for happiness. 
For see it is a flower that blooms at thy door."

~ Minot J. Savage ~
Faraway Ranch, Arizona

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Herb Garden Sundial

Little details make our home meaningful to us. Our space is where we create comfort, beauty, and a sense of place, not only for ourselves, but for our family and friends. These little details frequently extend to our outside environment: our yard and garden. Adding statues or sundials to our garden helps to create a point of interest, even during the cold months of winter. Imagine a sundial with snow gracing it's surfaces? Or a statue of a bunny hidden among a sleeping garden and covered with a coating of frost. Although the winter months have chased the garden into dormancy, the sundial still counts away the hours and adds center to the space. Have you ever given a sundial much thought? Although not very large, they are sturdy and enduring. Usually made of brass, they are a solid and timeless piece that counts the hours in the day. Generally sundials are enhanced by a verse that is added to it's face. Some are simple, like this one: "Grow old along with me, the best is yet to be." Or this one: "I only count the happy hours." Sometimes the verse adds humor to the day of the reader. This verse is an example: "She doesn't say tick, she doesn't say tack, she has no bell, she has no beat, if the sun is shining she works, and if it's raining she stops." Isn't that the truth.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Life, Laughter, and Love

LOVE is an action word --- and love TAKES ACTION.

People need to hear "I love you" at least five times a day.

Happiness is a by-product of life.

Laughter in a family is healthy to the soul.

People find joy in investing themselves in others.

It is a mistake to waste one precious moment of your God-given day in self-hate.  Accept yourself as God made you.  You are worthy because you are His.

I'm still enjoying perusing my journal notes from years past yet today.  Please bear with me as I revisit these notes and share portions with you.  I think these notes were written during a time I was spending deliberately creating a nurturing environment for my children when they were young.  The same principles can apply to anyone of any age, though, don't you think?

Have a wonderful day!  Be blessed!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Apple Nut Bars


1 1/2 c. quick rolled oats*

3/4 c. dates, chopped
1 tsp. orange peel, grated
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 c. walnuts, chopped
1/4 c. olive oil

1 c. apples, raw, shredded

Combine all ingredients and then press together into a flat casserole dish. Allow mixture to stand for 10 minutes. Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Slice into small squares and enjoy.

*use gluten free oats if necessary 

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Art of Waiting

The Art of Waiting

Do waiting periods have value?  Yes!

They compel us to reaffirm or deny our belief in what is coming.

They cause us to attach value to the coming event.  The more we value it, the longer the wait seems.  And even the more we dread it, the longer the wait seems.

They allow us a time to change --- to change or reaffirm our beliefs and practices.

They give us tie to discover something new.

And they afford time for us to share our lives with others.

These are notes from my journal from a long time ago.  I wonder what I was waiting for?  I'm sure these are notes taken from something I had been reading.  They apply to my life, and possibly yours, as much now as they did then.  It seems like as humans we are always 'waiting' for something!  It appears there is great value in the process.

Thank you for your comments!  I have enjoyed and appreciated them.  It's wonderful to know that many of you journal as well.  I especially enjoyed a quote Brenda shared in relationship to 'how' journaling helps remind her to go forward with personal growth.  Here it is:
"You will never change your life until you change something you do daily." John C. Maxwell

If you have the time, read the other comments from readers posted the past few days.  I think you will enjoy the perspectives. 

Saturday, January 23, 2010



Let the "angel unaware" be in your home.  Be a friend of someone today.  You are loved and needed!

"When God's children are in need, you be the one to help them out.  And get into the habit of inviting guests home for dinner, or if they need lodging, for the night."  Romans 12:13 TLB

~ I am reading through my old journals, finding tidbits of thoughts and verses that have inspired me and helped me become who I am today.  Do you have a journal like that?  Have you gone through previous posts recently?  It's fun to see how you have grown or changed throughout the process we call 'life'.  ~

Friday, January 22, 2010

Slow Me Down, Lord

Slow me down, Lord.

Ease the pounding of my heat by the quieting of my mind.

Steady my hurried pace with a vision of the eternal reach of time.

Give, amid the confusion of the day, the calmness of the everlasting hills.

Break the tension of my nerve and muscles with the soothing music of the singing streams that live in my memory.

Teach me the art of taking minute vacation --- of slowing down to look at a flower, to chat with a friend, to pat a dog, to smile at a child, to read a few lines from a good book.

Slow me down, Lord, to inspire me to send my roots deep into the soil of life's enduring values, that I may grow toward my greater destiny.

Remind me each day that the race is not always to the swift; that there is more to life than increasing its speed.

Let me look upward to the towering oak and know that it grew great and strong because it grew slowly and well.

Orin Crain

~ The garden plates were yard sale finds.  They are numbered and are a part of the "Gardens of Beauty Collection".  I only have two in the set, representing gardens in America and England.  They remind me of spring and that it won't be long until my own flower garden starts to grow again.  They represent 'hope' in a tangible way. ~

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Grandma's Apron

Grandma's Apron

The principle use of Grandma's apron was to protect the dress underneath but, along with that, it served as a holder for removing hot pans from the oven. It was wonderful for drying children's tears and, on occasion, even used for cleaning out their dirty ears. From the chicken coop, the apron was used for carrying eggs, fussy chicks and sometimes half-hatched eggs to be finished in the warming oven. When company came, Grandma's apron was an ideal hiding place for shy children and when the weather was cold, Grandma wrapped it around her arms to keep herself warm. That big old apron wiped many a perspiring brow, bent over the hot wood stove. Chips and kindling-wood were brought into the kitchen in that apron. From the garden, it carried all sorts of vegetables. After the peas had been shelled, it carried out the hulls. In the fall, it was used to bring in apples that had fallen from the trees. When unexpected company drove up the road, it was surprising how much furniture that apron could dust in a matter of seconds. When dinner was ready, Grandma walked out onto the porch and waved her apron and the men knew it was time to come in from the fields for dinner. It will be a long time before anyone invents something that will replace Grandma's apron, in fact, probably nothing ever will.

Author Unknown

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Sunshine in a Bowl!

On a wintry day, there is nothing nicer than. . .

Sunshine in a Bowl Fruit Salad

1 banana, sliced into rounds
1 Fuji apple, diced with peel
2 Anjou pears, diced with peel
6 peach halves, canned in water pack
1/2 cup papaya pulp concentrate, juice sweetened
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1 tsp. sweet herb stevia

garnish with:
orange wedge
cilantro leaf

Prepare fruits and gently mix together in bowl. Adjust sweetening according to taste (add more stevia or papaya juice concentrate if desired). Spoon into individual service dishes and garnish. Use five almonds to make a 'flower' and add currants for the center. Add the orange wedge for height and color and add a fresh cilantro leaf for greenery.

Delicious! This was a big hit with my family! Enjoy sunshine in a bowl!

Exuberant Joyfulness

"There are souls in this world which have the gift of finding joy everywhere and of leaving it behind them when they go."

Frederick Wm. Faber

Barbara, my friend, has children who truly know what JOYFULNESS is!  Can you read it on their faces?  It cannot be hid!  Oh, the childlike essence, so exuberantly expressed!

Monday, January 18, 2010


Tea helps our head and heart.
Tea medicates most every part.
Tea rejuvenates the very old.
Tea warms the hands of those who're cold.

J. Jonkers

Although I don't recall where I first found this picture, it is one of my favorites because it tells a story and elicits an emotional response from the viewer. This could be your Grandma, or mine. . .and nothing sounds nicer than sipping a cup of tea with Grandmother!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Hot Tea at Teakettle Junction

January is National Hot Tea Month, and of course a post in its honor is in order. Named thus by the Tea Association of the USA, its purpose is to promote the value of a hot cup of tea. The claimed health benefits of tea are many, ranging from an increased immune response to the reduction of heart disease and cancer. Thus, I am sipping on a hot cup of Snow Sprout tea as I write. To research the benefits of this herb, check out the Tea Association website.

Seeking to draw attention to this designated month, my mind skipped through a variety of things I could write about. Teapots, teacups, gawan porcelain bowls, and three-tiered trays all came to mind. But finding the obscure or unusual to celebrate this cozy past-time seemed important.

I decided to share with readers about a very interesting and out-of-the-way place in Death Valley, California. Located twenty miles from Ubehebe Crater, eighteen miles from Hunter Mountain, and six miles from Racetrack on a remote and rugged road is a junction named Teakettle. A hundred years ago, miners in search of wealth and adventure would pass this way and mark the junction by placing a teakettle in its spot. First one, then more teakettles have been added until it's become quite famous as a place to leave one's mark by adding a teakettle of one's own to the stash. Visitors leave a teakettle, signed and dated for others to see at this remote junction. It appears that teakettles serve a serious place in American history, even in remote desert places! If you decide to drive there and add a teakettle of your own, be sure to take a spare tire or two with you. The road is very rough and scattered with sharp and jagged rocks! A Death Valley mule might be a better, albeit slower mode of transportation!

A visit to this historic spot allows the imagination to travel back in time, wondering who passed this way before and what type of delicious hot tea they served around a campfire and with whom it was shared.

Happy National Hot Tea Month!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Lifting the Doldrums

It's January.  Mental health professionals report that depression and anxiety are often experienced during the time period right after Christmas.  There are many professional solutions to this problem, and they are excellent. Sometimes common sense has solutions as well. Here's a folk-list of ways to cope with winter doldrums.

1. Experience light! Because some days the sun doesn't shine, other ways must be found to get the full-spectrum light that the body requires. Check out the light bulb section at a nearby store and look for bulbs that are advertised as "full spectrum light" bulbs. Replace the ordinary bulbs in your light fixtures with the full spectrum bulbs and enjoy a dose of sunshine in your home! They are available in both florescent and incandescent bulbs. You can also find grow lights in garden centers that offer bright "full spectrum" light. Sitting under a "full spectrum" light for 20 - 30 minutes as soon as you wake up in the morning will help start your day off right. It's a real mood lifter, as it stimulates hormones that promote happiness.

2. Eat nuts! Nuts and seeds contain Omega-3's, an essential nutrient for healthy and happy brain function. A handful of walnuts each day will help combat the winter blues. Additionally, freshly ground flax seed daily supplies a high dose of Omega-3's. A small coffee grinder does a great job of grinding them. Be aware that if not ground, these seeds may benefit the colon, but the Omega-3's will stay bound up inside the hard shell, therefore not giving you brain benefit.

3. Exercise! A daily walk does wonders for the spirit. Bundle up during your favorite time of day. Walking when during the peek of the day when the sun is shining gives double benefit, but don't discount the soothing effects of a "nighttime" walk. Walking by moonlight (in a safe neighborhood) is relaxing and a wonderful mood lifter.

4. Eat right! Resolve to eat plenty of whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables. These are the core ingredients of a healthy lifestyle. Use the other foods to garnish and enhance, but not as the main ingredient in the foods you eat. Not only will eating this way life your mood, but it will make you feel lighter and brighter too.

5. Think of others! Getting your mind off yourself does wonders for mood enhancement. Deliberately do something nice for someone else every day. Visit a shut-in neighbor, offer to babysit for a young mother for an hour or two, or pitch in to help a friend with an overwhelming project. By being of service to someone else, you'll find that your mind is taken off yourself and your blue's.

6. Listen to music! Music is a great mood enhancer, especially certain types of music. Classical music has been shown to enhance mood because of it's rhythms, patterns, and cadences. Spend some time with Mozart, Bach, Brahms, or Beethoven each day.

7. Sip a cup of tea! Tea relaxes the muscles in the body that cause tension. And it signals to your body that it's time to kick back for a moment and enjoy being in the "now".  Forget the troubles of the past and the worries of the future. Concentrate on "being" in the moment and enjoying the life you've been given. 

It seems there really is a reason why January has been selected as National Hot Tea Month!

Thursday, January 14, 2010


Have you noticed how each month of the year has a different focus?  Although it is frequently established by advertising and commercialism, there is some truth to the fact that we focus on different things each month of the year.  January is the month for setting new goals and organizing our lives and homes.  It's also the month that department stores offer their best sales on plastic storage containers, organizing units for closets and kitchens, and tools for keeping track of stuff.  Label makers, Rubbermaid, and under the bed storage units are in easy view on store shelves.  Even television programs bring this theme into focus.  Home and Garden Television is featuring many programs on de-cluttering, hoarding vs. un-hoarding, and quick organization tips.  Additionally, health clubs, weight loss centers, and exercise equipment vendors are doing their part in helping focus on an individuals health and wellness.  But with all the focus on freshening up the inside of a home or the appearance of an individual, commericalism does not entice many to work on the heart.  Fortunately, supportive friends and acquaintances do their part in bringing this into view.  I've noticed that many of my friend, both in cyberspace and in my community offer helpful support in bringing what's important into focus.  Renewed emphasis on journaling, prayer notebooks, and outlines for establishing priorities are shared by friends who care and share.  They remind me that the external is simply a reflection of what the individual has nurtured and inculcated inside their heart and mind.    As I strive to seek that which is really important, I am encouraged by a quote of Alexandra Stoddard which helps me to recognize that the outside is simply a reflection of my heart.  She writes that "our true home is inside each of us.  Our houses are the outward expression of something we have already achieved."  Inside out, a reflection of our heart.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Healing the World

The practice of forgiveness is our most 
important contribution
to the healing of the world.

  Marianne Williamson

Monday, January 11, 2010

Natalie & Baby Blue

Teachers know that the period between Christmas vacation and Spring Break can be long and arduous for both student and teacher.  Cold weather, gray skies, and a lengthy stretch of school after the excitement of Thanksgiving and Christmas can create some weary students.  So, when a teacher gives a creative assignment during this period, it really does help the days pass by more swiftly.  Catching the attention of students is both challenging and rewarding.  With that in mind, let me share with you about a recent experience that brought all this back into focus for me again.

Last week a friend from high school, Tari, came by to visit.  Her niece, Natalie, came with her.  Natalie is a senior at Tari's and my alma mater.  This creates a point of interest for us, as we like to reminisce about days gone by, what our friends are doing now, and of the adventures we had.  I'm afraid Natalie gets lots of advice from us, but she takes is very well.  When Natalie arrived she was holding a baby carrier.  I thought "that's unusual, she must be babysitting".  But it didn't take long to realize that something else was going on.  Natalie had a gender specific computerized doll in her baby carrier.  I remembered my own teaching days and instantly realized that the flour sack or egg babies that my students tended for their Consumer and Family Science projects were very low tech compared to the very realistic props used today!  I also felt very 'dated' in comparison!  The purpose of the 'infant simulator' is to help the student realize the care that a newborn requires.  Each doll is about the size and weight of a newborn.  They are programmed to cry, coo, and burp on a schedule that the teacher programs into them.  They cry audibly and loudly when they need a diaper change, food, rocking, or burping.  Care is given by feeding them with a baby bottle that has a special sensor in it that records its use.  The doll also responds to rocking, burping, and a diaper change by specific prompts that its internal computer recognizes.  Natalie had a special wristband that the teacher put on her (and that she could not take off) that recorded things she did and how quickly she responded.  I suppose this factor was added so that mother or grandma couldn't 'babysit' for her, thus giving her full responsibility for the baby doll.   Natalie used great care to keep the doll's head stabilized and to handle it gently, as sensors would record baby abuse.  Every time Natalie changed a diaper or fed the baby doll, her journal came out and she recorded every task with care.  Students are graded according to their actions and tender loving care.  The computer makes it impossible to cheat.

I'm sure Natalie will receive an A+ on this project.  She was diligent in meeting the needs of this demanding little bundle!  I think she'll agree that she found 100% infant care no easy task.  She said the looks she received from those nearby who thought her baby was real were sometimes a bit judgmental or curious.  One mother offered to trade her the computerized doll for her real baby (I'm sure she was simply making a point).  With a baby doll programmed to exist on the same sleep and wake schedule as a regular newborn, I suspect that deep sleep and diligent homework in other school subjects was not quite as usual.  And I suspect that Natalie, as did the rest of her class, decided that the glamorous aspects of being a young parent were best delayed until maturity, readiness, and the adventures of youth were well past.  It really was fun sharing an evening of Natalie's 'project infant simulator' with her! 

Great job, Natalie.  I know you will make a terrific mother someday. . .when you are ready.    

Snow on Snow

In the bleak midwinter
Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter,
Long ago.

Christina Rossetti * 1830 - 1894

Sled:  by my mom who loved to paint

Sunday, January 10, 2010


What are the little things you do to to seek JOY during the cold and sometimes bleak month of January? If you live where the sun doesn't shine for days upon end, it sometimes takes effort to find the small things that bring JOY. A little extra Vitamin D and some special effort to create moments of JOY can help us through this time of year. Whether it be a trip to Starbucks with a friend you haven't taken time to chat with for awhile, or taking the time to read a good book in front of a cozy fire, there are small things that can help JOY return if it is lacking in its fullness. What are your deliberate techniques for finding JOY on a cold winter day?

*Please take the time to read the comments readers are contributing to this post.  I have really enjoyed reading about things that bring you JOY!  Thank you for taking the time to comment.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Bunny Prints in the Snow

Little rabbit prints converge under a bridge at the wildlife refuge as they search for food or shelter.  Although the wildlife refuge seems quiet on a cold winter day, signs of life are all around.  Prints from rabbit, deer, birds, and coyote cross the trail as we walk along the refuge trail.  Groups of birds rustle in the tall grasses or fly from the branches of the Russian olive trees as we walk by.  The seeds and berries from grasses, shrubs, and trees provide a great source of food during the cold months of winter.   Because the ponds are frozen, the geese, ducks, and pelicans that usually live there are gone.  They have moved to sections of a nearby river that are not frozen solid.  Quiet reins, yet signs of other life are in evidence as footprints in the snow.  

Can't you just imagine the rabbits hopping along on the ice?   

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

January & a Quilt Block

Little treasures for each season were lovingly stitched, painted, or stamped by my mother. Each reminds me of how she embraced each season for its positive qualities, even though spring was obviously her favorite time of the year. This January quilt block features adventure and whimsy as she combined her own hand-applique, satin ribbon and French knots, and tiny buttons in shapes of bunnies and snowmen. Always frugal, fabric choices came from mom's fabric scrap bin, making this block homespun and all the more interesting to look at. I look at this and remember how much mom enjoyed designing and creating each scene. Winter.

Between Friends

"Between loving friends
there need be no secrets. . .
the trusting heart is always safe
with another who truly cares."

~ Anglund~

This little tea house is part of a scene on my back porch.  It greets guests and family as they enter our home.  Do you know the saying "Back door friends are best"?  That's how it is at our house.  The front door greeting is a simple porch light.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Happy New Year!

With ordinary talents
and extraordinary perseverance,
all things are attainable.

~ Buxton ~

Happy New Year!  Wishing you the best in 2010!  Go for your dreams and succeed!