Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Tea and the Sea

When the world is all at odds
And the mind is all at sea

Then cease the useless tedium
And brew a cup of tea.

There is magic in its' fragrance,
There is solace in its' taste;

And laden moments vanish
Somehow into space.

And the world becomes a lovely thing!
There's beautify as you'll see;

All because you briefly stopped
To brew a cup of tea.

Depoe Bay

A Heartwarming Cup

"It was George Eliot who earnestly inquired, 'Reader, have you ever drunk a
cup of tea?' There is something undeniably heartwarming and
conversation-making in a cup of steaming hot tea. . . It is an ideal
prescription for banishing loneliness. Perhaps it is not so much the tea
itself, as the circle of happy friends eager for a pleasant chat."

Book of Etiquette 1921

Twigs, Port Townsend

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Spring Picnic

Pack the picnic basket 
with all the foods we love,
take along a frisbee, 
a baseball, bat and glove.

Bring a blanket to sit upon,
bug spray, and sunscreen, too,
get the kids into the car
with the dog, and me and you.

Finally we are on our way
to have a day of fun,
searching for the perfect spot
to frolic in the sun.

A grassy knoll and shade tree
beside a lazy creek; 
pull over, this looks just right
for a picnic quite unique.

Setting up a lavish feast,
joy we can't contain,
our happiness is dampened
when it begins to rain.
by Carol Gioia

Click twice on collage for larger view.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

His Compassions Fail Not

Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, "The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him." The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him. 
Lam. 3:22 - 25
Blessings on this beautiful day! 
Flowers from Grandpa's early spring flower garden.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Prayer and Hope

Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.  I say to myself, "The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him." The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him. Lam. 3:22 - 25

Please join me in praying for Ann and her family today.  Her precious four-year-old son was diagnosed with leukemia yesterday.  He is now at Children's Hospital in Dallas, Texas.  And pray for my friend, Connie, who's father passed away early yesterday morning.  He was a wonderful man and I know we will meet again someday.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Be Kind


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Mountain Trek

From the valley view, most of the snow on the mountains has melted.  Except for a distant mountain range, the hills from the distance are a beautiful blue.  We decided it was time to see if we could get to the cabin.  With high hopes, we packed a lunch and headed out.  The day was perfect!  Sunshine and the warm air was such a treat!  Things looked promising as we left the paved roads and headed up the mountain on a familiar dirt road.  As it wound along ridges and hills, it was dusty and dry.  Although those aren't traits we welcome mid-summer, they seemed to be a good omen for May.  The farther we got, the more hopeful we became.  Maybe we could get close enough that we could at least hike the rest of the way there.  But, there is one area of shade that covers a hill going up a north slope.  It is the problem area for early spring access, and unfortunately it proved to be impassable.  We gave it our best shot, making sure the truck was securely in four wheel drive.  But packed, mushy snow is slippery, and before long we decided it was too risky.  We didn't want to get stuck.  So, we backed down the hill.  We parked at the bottom and analyzed the snowdrift.  It will be at least two more weeks before that much snow will melt.  Two more weeks before we can get to the cabin and open its windows and doors!  Disappointed, but still enjoying the day, we leisurely meandered  down the mountain, stopping here and there to enjoy the spring flowers and open meadows. The view of the valley was amazing and we enjoyed the quilted effect of wheat fields below.  Nature brings rest for the soul.

Click on the pictures for a larger view.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Happy Birthday, Friend!

Happy Birthday, to my friend, Karleen!

Wishing you all the best in the year ahead!  
Happy adventures to you!

Friday, May 13, 2011

In Time for Tea

"...her expression grew serious, worried, petulant because she was afraid of missing the flower show, or merely not being in time for tea, with muffins and toast, at the Rue Royale tearoom, where she believed that regular attendance was indispensable in order to set the seal upon a woman's certificate of elegance..."

From Swann in Love, Marcel Proust

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A Supper Sauce for Fruit

Because it was a hot day, something cool and refreshing seemed perfect for a simple supper last evening. Beautiful strawberries, kiwi fruit, and bananas sliced and sweetened with the sweet herb stevia made a pretty fruit salad for our meal. It was all topped off with a pear sauce that added exactly the right sweetness and creaminess. Although the spearmint sprig was for garnish, I couldn't help but nibble it with every bite or so. It added just the right amount of 'perk' to the fruity combination. Delicious!

Pear Sauce

2 cups soft tofu
2 cups canned pears
1 cup pear juice (from jar of pears)
2 Tbsp. honey
1 tsp. cinnamon

Whiz in blender until creamy and smooth. Pour over individual fruit salad servings (or fold into entire fruit salad for a creamy salad). Garnish with a strawberry piece and fresh mint. Enjoy! You'll never miss the whipped cream!

Monday, May 09, 2011

A Garden and Life's Lessons

What does spring represent to you?  Are there lessons to be learned from this season of rebirth?  

I like to think of spring as a time of starting anew. When winter arrives, plants die back and the terrain is cleansed of weeds and overgrowth. Gardens are cleared and the soil sits fallow for the winter. When spring comes, the soil is tilled and ready for planting. Seeds in colorful packages and starter plants in little gray containers are ready and waiting for the sun to warm the temperatures enough for plants to grow.

I like to think that lessons can be learned in a garden. Traits like patience and gentleness can be learned. Gardens also provide us with opportunities to create and to experience all our senses as we appreciate color, fragrance, and textures of plants, flowers, and produce. Gardens can help us to slow down and to take care to appreciate the little things in life. They provide beauty for the home and nourishment for the body.

Obviously others feel the same way about planting a garden. A quick look on the web reveals some very interesting websites and blogs, created by others who love to garden. At Glens Garden, one can read about lessons learned through gardening. Over at The Last Leaf Gardener, Patricia shares about lessons learned in the garden on Mother's Day.  How appropriate for May. And Julie, on Hub Pages, shares a thoughtful post about life lessons learned while gardening. These writers say it so well. I encourage you to take a moment to read their thoughts about gardens, life, and what matters most.

“I planted, but God was causing the growth.”
1 Corinthians 3:6

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Happy Mother's Day


Thursday, May 05, 2011

The Story of Ruby's Teacup

One of my mother's friends traveled throughout the Pacific Northwest, visiting women's groups in churches, hospitals, and schools, conducting teas and sharing her fabulous teacup and teapot collection.  She said that every teacup has a story.  And, I believe that is so.  Attached to teacups are memories of who you served a cup of tea to, or the journey to a special place where you purchased a cup, or ties of friendship from someone who gave a teacup to you. Today I would like to share about a special teacup with you as part of Miss Spenser's Teacup Thursday event.  It is the story of a friendship, one that has spanned enough years to make it worthy of a second glance and of what has made it work so well.  It is the story of Nancy and me.  Years ago we were second graders living about a block from one another.  Each day we would walk the mile or two to school down one long street.  It was always more fun to walk with a friend, and of course we always felt more secure that way.  Our second grade teacher was Miss Henderson and we thought she was awfully pretty.  We were pretty excited when she told us that she had become engaged that year and would be getting married during the summer.  Two starry-eyed little girls found that to be such romantic news.  Our friendship continued into third and forth grades.  We played dolls together and sometimes our sisters would join us. Then my friend moved away.  California became her new home, but it wasn't so far that we couldn't visit one another occasionally.  A few times our family went to visit hers, and once or twice she came back to our town as well.  In ninth or tenth grade we had our last "in person" visit with one another.  She was passing through town and we had a picnic in the park.  High school days were busy.  We went to different colleges and Nancy moved about as far away as a friend could go --- to Florida.  We wrote letters to one another until our college years and then lost touch.  Somehow we reunited with one another in our early thirties.  I think it was a found address and a birth announcement that reignited our friendship.  We discovered we'd had babies just days apart.  Letters started flying back and forth and haven't stopped ever since.  Emails, packages, pictures, cards and notes, letters, and phone calls have cemented our friendship into one that makes us more than just friends, but sisters as well.  Time has passed and lives have changed.  We knew each others mothers well, as we had been childhood friends who had played at each of our houses on many occasions.  Within a span of a few short years we both lost our mothers to death. We mourned together.  And we shared the experience of emptying a parents home and finding places for things that were meaningful to each of us.  Some of the things we shared with one another.  This little teacup is one Nancy shared with me.  It was her mothers and it now holds a place of honor on a cabinet in my dining room.  Each time I look at it I think of Nancy and her faithfulness as a friend.  I also think of her mother, Ruby, and how she always exuded love and acceptance to everyone she came in contact with.  This teacup is called Old English Rose and is a Royal Albert Crown China teacup made in England. Beautiful pink and burgundy roses surround the teacup brim, inside and out.  A gold leaf borders both cup and saucer.  This is my Ruby cup and one I treasure, not simply because it is very beautiful, but because of the person it represents to me.  And that is the story of this special teacup.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

What are Your Colors?

For many years I've carried a small plastic photo sleeve in my purse.  It contains "my" colors and wallet size photos I've saved over the years to help me remember a hairstyle or color.  I know this post is really going to date me, because knowing your "colors" has gone out of fashion these days.  But in the 80's it was popular, partially due to the book "Color Me Beautiful" by Carole Jackson.  Ms. Jackson taught how to determine which season you were:  spring, summer, autumn, or winter.  Those who were summer or winter had blue undertones to their skin and could best wear cool colors.  The intensity of the cool colors they could wear would depend if they were a summer or winter. Warm colors were spring or autumn, and belonged to people who had yellow or warm undertones to their skin.  Most make-up artists disregarded the color selection approach to fashion, saying that it didn't matter what colors you wore because your make-up could be altered to create beautiful skin.  This was an argument that didn't make much sense to me because most of us don't have a make-up artist at our beck and call.  Neither do we want to have to correct our skin tones by make-up for a casual day at home or about town.  Wearing "your" colors does an amazing job of enhancing your skin tones and creating a total look that unifies how you look without depending upon foundation, blush, and added glow.  When wearing "your" colors, you'll find that people complement you over and over again for looking beautiful.  Instead of complimenting your dress or blouse, you'll find they are complimenting you because of your total look. There have been knock-off approaches to color analysis.  Some approaches to color theory divide colors into twelve seasons.  Essentially, all use the same principles of cool and warm, but may apply it in a little different manner.  Color analysis can be a helpful tool for everyone, not just adult women.  Growing daughters who are eager, but yet too young to put their fingers in the make up pot for appropriate wearing can find that wearing the the colors best suited to their skin tones can enhance their natural beauty without make up.  Teaching them proper skin care (from nutrition to moisturizing) coupled with wearing their colors can do amazing things to an early teen's self esteem.  Men can benefit from color analysis as well.  My husband had his colors analyzed in years past, and it has been very helpful when choosing the suits, shirts, and ties that look best on him.  Although many men may think it unnecessary and insignificant, I'd like to say that it costs no more to purchase a navy suit than it does a taupe one, or a gray one than a black one.  But, the color of the suit really can make a difference with the man.  Sometimes people will wear a favorite color or get stuck in a rut when it comes to colors they wear.  Fashion dictates that some years one color is "in" and the next it is "out".  It's easy to get caught up in what a designer somewhere dictates, but if you have a plan and stick to it, you'll find that dressing and coordinating your wardrobe is so much easier when you keep your colors in mind.  When color analysis first became popular, parties were held where an analyst would determine the colors of each person in attendance.  By color draping the individual could observe the transformation that took place when they were wearing the colors best for their skin tones.  I recall one co-worker who always looked stunning in black suits and dresses was horrified to discover that her only wardrobe color was totally incorrect for her.  I don't think anyone could ever change her mind, but imagine how much lovelier she could have been in colors that enhanced her skin tones rather than fighting with them.  

Have you had your colors done?  What do you think?  Are you pro or con regarding this fashion art?  My the way, my color season is "summer".  What is yours?   


Friends of Pen and Ink

It's rather wonderful I think
When friends are made of pen and ink.

A piece of paper, blue and white,
Someone decides that she will write
To someone she has never seen
Who lives where she has never been.

A pen becomes a magic wand
Two strangers start to correspond
Not strangers long but soon good friends,
Just note how their last letter ends.

How pleasant their exchange of views,
The comments on important news,
Two friends who live quite far apart
Can gladden much each other's heart,
Can nourish too each other's mind
With Godly thoughts in letters kind.

It's truly beautiful I think,
The friendship sprung from pen and ink.

Author unknown

Dedicated to my "letter friends since childhood", RuthAnn, Nancy and Margie.  

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Sweet, Sweet Potato Vines

I remember the first time I ever actually noticed an ornamental sweet potato vine.  I was with my mother at a plant nursery and gift shop called "My Grandmother's Garden".  It was during the time that the Tuscan look was just becoming popular, and the nursery had large urns filled with plants in beautiful arrangements.  The plants varied from spiked reds to leafy greens.  But it was the bright lime-colored sweet potato vines that caught my eye!  They were gorgeous, classy, and vibrant!  When I got home again I searched them out and placed one in every outdoor potted garden I owned!

Again, last summer I planted a sweet potato vine along with a purple hot pepper plant in this large teacup planter.  It did very well in the summer's heat.  In the past I have always enjoyed them until the first frost and then let them go.  But last autumn I decided to see how it would grow inside as a house plant.  What a pleasant surprise!  It has thrived in the house.  It's grown so much that I have had to prune it back and wind its long tendrils around the teacup to keep them from dragging on the floor.  How I have enjoyed the vibrant lime green during winter's dreary days.

Recently, a magazine from a local nursery arrived in my mailbox, and it featured an article about this pretty vine.  Sweet potato vines are actually called Ipomeas and come in at least 21 different varieties.  They call this a "tropical looking trailer".  How true!  While the foliage is growing above ground, below the soil is a sweet potato that grows larger and larger along with the vine.  They look interesting and are edible, but probably not as delicious as sweet potatoes grown grown for culinary purposes.  The Ipomea in the urn above is called "Midnight Lace" and I think it looks beautiful with trailing petunias and million bells.  

Ornamental sweet potato vines come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors.  The Ipomea "Goldfinger" in the top picture loves the sun and is known for how well it "trails" or "spills" out of baskets and planters.  It's foliage is a vibrant chartreuse and it has three parts to it's leaves that look like long, green fingers!  The Ipomea "Sweet Caroline Red" is shown in the lower portion of the above photo.  This variety has leaf colors that meld from vibrant green to a bright red, making it a pretty choice for planting in garden pots.  It has a smaller root system than some of the Ipomea, so it is suggested that it be used mostly for potted gardens rather than regular flower or shrub beds.

The Ipomea "Sweet Caroline Sweetheart Purple" shown in the upper part of this photo has beautiful, purple leaves that are heart-shaped.  Sometimes the leaves verge on a soft black color, which really adds drama and zest to a plant bouquet.  The Ipomea "Bright Ideas Lime" is probably one of the most popular of all because of its vibrant, lime-green color.  It has been cultivated to be compact and fast growing, making it ever popular for containers containing mixed gardens.  It adds variety and energy to any garden pot.

So, take a look at your garden center if you want to have some fun "creating" gardens with this interesting trailing plant.  I think you'll enjoy it, as have I!  

[The last picture was taken during the winter before any new growth occurred.]

Monday, May 02, 2011


The violets are blooming!  These  flowers speak of romance and angst.  Their tiny faces peer out through bunches of heart-shaped leaves and their fragrant perfume fills the air.  They are a flower of poets.  Shall we enjoy some classic poetry that has been inspired by this little gem?

The Violet
Johann Wolfgang Goethe
1749 - 1832

A violet in the meadow grew,

blushing quietly, quite unknown;
a pretty little violet.

A young shepherdess drew near,
with tripping foot and merry heart,
she came alone,
singing through the meadow.

If only, the violet mused, I were
the finest flower int he world,
just for a little while,
until the dear girl picked me
and pressed me to her heart 'til I died,
if only, if only for a quarter of an hour!

Alas! The girl approached
and paid no heed to the violet;
she trod it underfoot.

It sank and died, yet it rejoiced:
if I must die, at least I die through her,
through her, here, 'neath her feet.

Poor violet!
It was a pretty violet!

The Lost Love
William Wordsworth
1770 - 1850

She dwelt among the untrodden ways

     Beside the springs of Dove:
A maid whom there were none to praise
     And very few to love.

A violet by a mossy stone
     Half-hidden from the eye!-
Fair as a star, when only one
     Is shining in the sky.

She lived unknown, and few could know
     When Lucy ceased to be;
But she is in her grave, and, oh,
     The difference to me!

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Dry Falls Picnic

According to our local newspaper, this has been the third coldest April on record.  Last night the wind machines in the neighbor's apple orchard were working away because of another very cold night.  Even though we've had some lovely, sunny days --- it is still cold!  Ever eager to enjoy the great outdoors, even on chilly days, opportunities for long drives and picnics are created.  With snow still in the mountains, we've had to look for alternatives to forest adventures.

This day we ended up at a place called Dry Falls.  From the top of a three and a half mile-long precipice we could observe tiny dots of fishing boats in the blue lake 400 feet below.  Dry Falls is thought to be the greatest known waterfall that ever existed!  It is ten times the size of Niagara falls.  According to geologists, water flowed at over 65 miles an hour over this precipice, a rate which is ten times the current of all the world's rivers combined.

What a sight that would be to behold!  But the ice age activity is past, leaving only clues as to what went before.  Barren, rocky landscape for miles around share the story of ice age mysteries that geologists work now as detectives to solve.  There is beauty in all of God's creation, even in the dry, barren remoteness of central Washington.