Don't hurry past Christmas

Monday, December 28, 2015

We spend so much time getting ready for Christmas. There's the shopping, and wrapping, and mailing. The decorating, the baking, the cleaning. Cards to write and stockings to fill. Parties and concerts and plays to attend. Out-of-town family and friends to welcome. Church services. Feasting and present-opening.

Decorated bags filled with cookies for my book club friends.
And then, suddenly, it's over.

I think it's always so sad when I see Christmas trees out by the curb the day after Christmas. Or ads for exercise equipment and diets and home organization tools, bludgeoning us even before we've finished our Christmas dinner dessert.

I'm all for new beginnings and fresh starts. 

But let's press pause for a week, or more, and enjoy the fruits of our labor, and the gift of Christmas-time.

The old church calendar marked 12 days of Christmas. That really takes us to January 6. 

Now, some do need to go back to work. Chores need to be done. But we can try to prolong the season for at least a week or so.

Resist the temptation to take down the tree, or start that diet just yet.

Sit by the fire, read that new book. Take time to bask in the warmth of the season, to think over the past year, and be dreaming of the new one. For those of you do-ers, know that quiet time can be very fertile time. It's not a waste. You may be reading or knitting or napping, but the mind is still sorting and filing and working. Keep a pad of paper nearby, and jot down ideas and dreams, hopes and prayers, regrets and resolutions as they come to you.

You'll be surprised at how much more "productive" you'll be later, having had some time to rest and contemplate. 

We know that our phones and computers work better when we shut them down and then press restart.

How much more do we need to turn off, and "reboot?"

Just so you know, I'm preaching to myself here, too. I've been feeling a little like I'm not accomplishing enough, or doing enough "important" things, and that I've got to whip myself into shape, and DO STUFF. Right now. 

I'm feeling sad because our youngest son has headed back home today, and I already miss him. Getting busy would help me "move on."

But, you know, it's okay to feel sad. It's a reminder of what a wonderful time we had, and how much I love him. I don't need to cover that up with busyness.

And a new year to do new things in is still a week away.


We are expecting a big winter storm this afternoon. A fire is all laid, and ready to light. We have food and books and tea. The Christmas lights are twinkling.

Ah, peace. I'm going to try and sink deep into it.

Wishing that for you all, as well.

Glad tidings

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Happy news in our family this Christmas season: our daughter is engaged!

We are rejoicing together, and so thankful for the man who is to be our son-in-law.

And you better believe I will be blogging about plans for the upcoming wedding in 2016. And the search for the perfect dress (including mine!). And all the other fun and happy festivities that surround the joining of two hearts.


Of course, there are other glad tidings right now. Whether the news in our life is happy or sad, whether we are rejoicing or grieving, whether good times or bad, the news that Christ came into our world, broke through the darkness and gave us hope, will always be true.

Have a very Merry Christmas, dear friends. I'll be visiting in between the cooking and feasting, gift-giving and thanks-giving.

Taking moments to breathe and be grateful

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

It's been a busy couple of weeks. I've had a nagging feeling around the edges, telling me to slow down, get some quiet time, pray, and really have a contemplative Advent.

Christmas cards in the works . . . 
It's not happening, at least not in the way I'd like.

But then I think about Brother Lawrence, the 17th century monk who worked in a monastery kitchen in France.

He used the moments when he was scouring pots and pans to pray, to continually "practice the presence of God." I can do the same thing as I decorate, shop, wrap, and keep up with my regular chores. An Advent in the heart.

For instance, today in the mall, trying to quickly run in, make a return, and pick up one thing, I ran into lines and delays. Rather than fret about how much I had to do, and how much I'd like to get home and experience some of that contemplative time I'm dreaming about, I decided to notice the people around me. To smile at them, speak kindly, do an act of service (such as open a door), or pay a genuine compliment. And to notice and thank those who did the same for me. Such as the nice man who opened a couple doors for me at the Post Office, as I came across the parking lot looking like Gus the mouse in Cinderella (packages, like cheese, carried in my arms all the way up to my chin!).

The advice, "be in the moment," is good. To be still on the inside, even when I'm busy on the outside.


This morning I was telling my daughter I really needed to do a blog post (it's been a week!), but that I didn't feel inspired about anything in particular. (These fabulous blog home tours can sometimes make me feel a little intimidated as I look around at my slow-to-come-together decorating.) She suggested a couple topics. No, no, no . . . they didn't really speak to me.

"I have to be excited or inspired about whatever I blog about," I said.

"Well," she said. "You'll come up with something. That's one thing I admire about you, Mom. You're always really interested in learning new things and you're always getting excited about things."

What a nice compliment. I used to brush compliments off, but I decided some time ago to receive them graciously, as the genuine gifts that they are. 

So, with that as a springboard, I'll just list a few happy things that I've been excited about lately:

A lovely CD of Christmas carols gifted to us by friends

Christmas Tea by Twinings, with real cream and sugar, sipped while enjoying a mincemeat tart

Our youngest coming home for Christmas

The twinkling lights on the three trees we have up, and on the stairwell (yes, I decorate a lot)

Tiny little battery-operated twinkle lights scattered about the kitchen table and hutch

Lots of softly glowing candles

Money to buy gifts and food

Good health

Loads of books to read, crafts to do, crossword puzzles to work on, puzzles to put together, games to play

Plenty of wood for a nice, cozy fire every day

Dumb You-tube videos and Facebook quizzes which I always say I'm not going to waste my time on, but do anyway

A cozy bathrobe and warm winter coat

Handmade earrings gifted to me

The real reason for Christmas -- Jesus -- and that no amount of banning Him from the public square can take Him from my heart

I could list 100 more things that I'm thankful for and get excited about -- from the cheerful little chickadees at my feeder to my new raspberry-colored lipstick -- and still not run out of things.

The news is so depressing, and there are things in my life that are painful, but there's always something to be happy about. There's always something new and interesting to learn.

So, this turned into a little rambling post . . . Actually, the real reason I'm having trouble blogging right now, besides being busy, is that I'm still trying to figure out a new way to back up my photos. I've run out of space. So I can't share photos. It will take about 10 minutes to figure it out, I'm sure. When I do, it will be one more thing to be excited about.

Linking with No Place Like Home.

In which I discover the Hallmark Channel

Monday, December 7, 2015

The last time I watched daytime TV was when I was pregnant and on bed rest, years and years ago. I watched some of the same soap operas my girlfriends and I used to watch in high school. Funny thing, it turns out that the same characters were hashing out the same conflicts, 12 or so years later. (And I think Victor from The Young and The Restless is still around, 40 years later, if the supermarket tabloids are correct. Anyone know?)

Anyhow, the TV hasn't been on during the day since those days of bed rest. Too much to do, nothing of interest on, and besides all that, I'd feel guilty sitting in front of it in the middle of the day. So I actually had to call my husband at work the other day to ask him how to turn it on. (He manages the remote at night; you know, it's a man thing.)

Why now, you ask?

I am trying to finish up some knitting projects for Christmas, last minute. Stuff I've had all year to do. And I thought I could use some company.

And that's when I discovered the Hallmark Channel.

Sappy, sentimental, predictable movies . . . so much alike that they're starting to run together in my mind. But, G-rated, feel-good, and always with a happy ending. I couldn't take a steady diet of this, but my . . . such a nice break from the horrific news that we watch every night.

There's lots of Christmas decor, mistletoe, falling in love, Christmas carols . . . all the good stuff.

Although this pic is from last year, my Christmas decorating is done. Love all the sparkly pretties at night by the firelight.

I figure I have to watch about six more movies to finish the knitting. I can do that. I like having the excuse.

How about you? Do you watch daytime TV? Any suggestions? 

Linking with No Place Like Home.

Does your color season change when your hair does?

Friday, December 4, 2015

I've had an almost empty closet for most of 2015. A year ago, I got on board with Project 333, and drastically reduced the size of my wardrobe. I picked five colors (navy, gray, white, pink, and lavender) to form the basis of a small mix-and-match collection of about 33 pieces.

Then I decided to get healthy and lose 30 pounds, and had to get rid of even more clothes.

Then I decided to ditch the blonde dye and let my natural (silver-gray) hair grow out. I had very little to wear at that point. I had reached my weight loss goal, and could have bought new clothes, but now I was holding off to see if my colors were still going to work with my new hair.

Good thing I waited. The pinks and lavenders and whites aren't going to work anymore. They just wash me out now.

I read somewhere that you'll look better in a cheap t-shirt in the right color than an expensive cashmere sweater in the wrong color. So what are the right colors?

 Brighter? Darker? Jewel tones? 

Has my "color season" changed now that my hair has?

Well, the short answer to this question is that I don't know.

There is tons of information online about seasonal color analysis. It's evolved from the simple four seasons of the Color Me Beautiful system of the 80s (remember that?) to three or four subsets (light, true, soft, shaded) of the four seasons. There are tests to take, color swatches to view, Pinterest pages for inspiration, and more. 

What's not online, however, is any information regarding if or how your season changes when you go from a bleached blonde to a natural silver, as I have done this year.

I did find an article in which one expert contended that your season never changes; she believes that your eye color and basic skin tone determine your season, not your hair color. The opposing view was that when you go gray, you always go cooler.

So, as a soft summer (summers and winters are already the "cool" seasons), do I move to a true summer, which is cooler than the soft summer? Or do I move into winter?

And is the point somewhat moot? If you study the color charts, you'll see that it would be very difficult to get exactly the same shades as pictured. If you want a coat or a shirt or a sweater, you're lucky to find it available in a half dozen shades. Half of those may not work at all; the other half, well . . . you just do the best you can.

I do know that the pinks and lavenders I love aren't working anymore. Deeper shades (rose, raspberry, plum) look better with my silver-y gray hair. Those are still in the summer palettes. Winter shades might include fuchsia and cobalt, but those feel too bright and loud on me. So, intuitively, I'm staying with soft summer, favoring the deeper hues in the palette.

from LL Bean

And if I see anything in periwinkle, I'm getting it. 

from LL Bean

Also from LL Bean  This color, called purple slate, is much better on me than a pastel lavender.

So it is fun to be shopping again, and slowly adding to my closet.

Have your "colors" changed over time, or with a different hair color?

No pics, no glitz

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

I see everyone is posting beautiful Christmas decorations, teas, and recipes these days. Have to get on the bandwagon soon.

But today, I am (almost) picture-less, partly because Dropbox is full, and I haven't had time to empty the photos onto a flash drive for storage. But mostly because I have no sparkly holiday pictures to share.

An artificial tree "trunk" is standing naked in the family room, awaiting someone (me!) to attach its branches. Several boxes of decorations have been brought up from the basement, and are patiently waiting to be opened.

I did gather up the autumn tea towels and potholders from the kitchen, and they are waiting to be washed. The towel racks are bare, though, because the Christmas linens are still downstairs.

It will happen this week. I hope.

Meanwhile, I'm still basking in the glow of Thanksgiving. We traveled to Virginia to a mountain house owned by our daughter-in-law's family. First time we've ever spent Thanksgiving away from home, and two of our children. But we were able to see our son and his wife and her parents. My daughter-in-law's mother and I are great friends and have vacationed together a couple times. Unusual, I know, and I'm very grateful for that relationship.

What a gorgeous place this was. Situated on 120 acres of mountain, lake, and stream, the older part of the house dates back a hundred years, and is charming with its wood floors, beams, and upstairs lofts accessed by wooden ladders. With candles gleaming and a fire crackling in one of its three fireplaces, it is snug and cozy. Modern conveniences, like a dishwasher and updated bathrooms, make it very comfortable.

I got to ride an ATV (a first) over the stream and through the woods (and up a mountain), and shoot a revolver (another first) during some target practice.  Discovered a different side of this city girl! 

There was no cell phone service or internet connection, so we were literally off the grid. Well, not literally. We did have electricity. But it really was wonderful to unplug for a few days. And when we got home to Michigan on Sunday, we discovered we were without power. Out came the candles. A nice way to ease back into civilization, as we sat in front of the fire, grateful for a special Thanksgiving weekend.

I am now woefully behind on my blog visits. Miss you all, and will be by soon.

Linking with No Place Like Home

Happy Thanksgiving

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

fruit platter I made for book club Monday night

Happy Thanksgiving, dear friends. I'm thankful for all of you! I'm going off-line for a few days, and will be around to visit soon.

Getting in the mood

Saturday, November 21, 2015

It's finally starting to feel a little holiday-ish around here.

Our trip to Hawaii in October, and the unusually mild weather this fall here in Michigan, has kept me in prolonged summer mode. A wake-up call that Thanksgiving and Christmas are rapidly approaching came in the form of an email advertisement recently: "looking for a last-minute holiday gift?" What?! I hadn't even started!

But yesterday, I did do a little Christmas shopping, and enjoyed a peppermint mocha coffee at the mall. We went to see a local production of Amahl and the Night Visitors. And then, this morning, we woke up to snow.

Yes, now I'm in the mood.

Adding to the overall ambiance is a huge turkey stalking our suburban backyard ("the size of a small child!" my daughter exclaimed after it startled her, strutting past the basement window as she was walking on the treadmill). 

I'm making a favorite coffee cake to freeze for next weekend's gathering. I picked up some lovely golden tapers and candlestick holders for the table. Presents are being squirreled away in hidden corners. We have six cords of wood neatly stacked, ready for loads of cozy evenings by the fire.

My grandmother made these placemats for me back in the 70s. Can you tell? I love to use them in the fall. She also painted the black tray with golden leaves and acorns.
In September, I'm certain that it's my favorite time of year. But, I always re-think that when we come to this season of family and friends, of pots of steaming tea and books and cozy bathrobes in front of the fire, the excitement and memories evoked by preparing recipes that have become part of family lore (sausage stuffing, anyone?, or great-grandmother's Scottish shortbread),
the pulling out of seasonal linens and dishes (Johnson Brothers Friendly Village for Thanksgiving) . . . 

Mostly, what I always hope and strive for, with varying degrees of success depending on the year, is a quiet and peaceful heart to reflect on our many blessings and to prepare space for our Lord Jesus in the midst of the busyness and excitement.

In an increasingly violent and unpredictable world, it is a privilege, maybe even a duty, to offer our loved ones a haven of rest. A place to relax, feel loved, and enjoy a deep sense of security. No, it won't be perfect, but any efforts in this direction will surely not be in vain.

Linking with No Place Like Home.

Keeping the enemy out

Sunday, November 15, 2015

I have been waging a war for several years around here with the squirrels. These are the greediest, boldest bunch I've ever seen. They have totally taken over my bird feeders, holding them hostage as my little chickadees, finches, titmice, and others have to fend for themselves as able.

When the squirrels are feeding, everyone else must keep their distance. Those squirrels settle themselves down, I swear practically tucking a napkin in and taking up fork and knife, and gorge themselves on seed half the day, emptying my feeders with alarming rapidity.

My attempts at banging on the kitchen window, yelling at them, rushing at them across my deck, stick in hand, have proven a futile waste of energy. They do manage to stop their single-minded devotion to appetite to gaze at me, blinking with slightly bored annoyance. I'm no real threat. If I do chase one off and into the woods behind our house, he's back within 30 seconds, continuing his feast.

I finally did what I should have done long ago, and that was to get some squirrel-proof feeders.

These feeders will pay for themselves in two weeks, no kidding, with the amount of seed we're saving.

The squirrels are now completely flummoxed, trying to figure out why their gravy train has left the station. They look, scratch themselves, peer around the feeder, and finally leave, rather dejected looking. I have absolutely no sympathy.

The littlest birds are the winners here, enjoying a safe haven and a steady source of food. I get to enjoy their presence from my window, and we all feel much more relaxed.

Well, the analogy here, though rather crude, is obvious, I hope, given the recent horrific events in Paris and throughout Europe.

Would that we could "screen" the migrants, so that the innocent and needy can get through, those fleeing for their lives from ISIS in Syria. The evil ones, the ones intent on doing harm, need to be blocked. It seems cruel to turn everyone away (which I've done, analogously, by taking the bird feeders completely down in frustration), yet it is foolhardy, suicidal even, to let everyone in. There has to be a way to protect the innocent and thwart the plans of the evil. 

Would that it was as easy as my bird feeder solution.

And while I'm on my soapbox, we need to do more than #PrayForParis. While I agree that prayer is powerful, I wonder if all this outpouring of sympathy is where it will end. Everyone lights candles, and then goes on next week to the next thing (except, of course, the families of the victims. Their world is forever changed.). The good Lord gave us brains to do something as well.

Let's pray that our leaders will get to work on a real solution so that these tragedies, which are becoming all too common, will cease.

Linking with No Place Like Home.

Fruit compote and staying cozy

Monday, November 9, 2015

I had five sadly aging pears and a couple of starting-to-wrinkle apples on my kitchen counter this morning. A visiting friend of mine, my daughter, and I had just finished our protein waffles for breakfast, lamenting the passing of berry season, when we could sprinkle raspberries and blueberries on our waffles with abandon without spending a small fortune.

An aha moment.

A warm apple and pear compote, perhaps with a few cranberries thrown in, would be delicious on our waffles tomorrow.

I chopped up the fruit, added a few cranberries (not too many because I didn't want to add any sugar), some lemon juice, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, and a little water.

The house was filled with lovely, spicy, homey-cozy smells as the fruit mixture simmered gently.

Will taste so good tomorrow morning. It was 30 degrees (F) this a.m., with a thick layer of frost on everything. Comfort is key these days.


Speaking of comfort, I've abandoned any notions of being stylish in the evenings around here. After a few years of feeling much warmer than usual (you ladies of a certain age will know what I mean), I am back to my normal, always-cold-in-the-winter mode.

Old Pueblo Traders

I got this robe in blue.  It's chenille, and super soft. I love how it buttons. No ties coming undone and gaping openings. It's not super attractive, but when it's 20 below outside, I just want to be warm. It will be so cozy.


Thank you all for your kind comments on my hair. I feel encouraged to stay the course! Another two, or three at the most, months, and all the blonde dye will be gone. And I'm re-thinking the idea of growing it out. So many people have told me they like my shorter hair. Who knew?

You all are the best.

Linking with No Place Like Home.

Super short purple-y, yellowish gray hair

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Ugh . . . I really don't want to post this picture of me with my latest haircut.

I probably took 20 selfies trying to find one I wanted to post. This still isn't it.
As you know, I've been trying to get rid of the hair dye and go natural. So many people told me not to do it, but I forged ahead anyway. Now, for the first time, I'm wondering if they were right.

I'm trying to tell myself it's the cut. We were trying to get rid of most of the rest of the blond that was looking so fake yellow next to the gray. Hence, the super short cut.

My hairstylist added a little purple to tone down the remaining blonde. It was supposed to wash out. So now I have gray, purple, and yellow. Lovely.

I'm hoping it will look better when it grows out a little. I've never cared for the spiky, shaved gray look myself. (Super easy to take care of, though!)

Maybe when it grows out a little, I'll have something like this . . .

Isn't she beautiful?

So what do you do when you hate your hair?

Smile. A lot.

My husband and I are taking ballroom dance classes. When we went Saturday, no one there said anything about my hair. It was obviously very different than it had been when they all saw me last. And you know how we are, ladies. The lack of a comment means they all hate it, right?

Well, I just smiled and had fun and enjoyed myself anyway, figuring a droopy, pathetic look wouldn't improve things. I ended up having fun. Just avoided looking in the full-length mirrors on all four walls.

I went to the grocery store later, and pasted a little smile on my face. Not a big, goofy one. Just a small one, as though I were secretly pleased about something. And you know what? That little trick -- "fake it 'til you make it" -- really works. I had a happy little time, all by myself.

I do hope that I will like this better when it grows out more. I really don't want to color it again after all this.

If I do stick with it, I think the color will look really pretty with this dress.

I got this for a family wedding coming up in the winter. I love this blue. Very hard to find.

After my hair grows a little, I will probably be ready to do a final hair post, showing the whole progression from bleached blonde to all natural.

Thanks for letting me share. 

No place like home

Monday, November 2, 2015

Happy November to my dear blog friends! 

Every week, I join Sandi at Rose Chintz Cottage for her tea party. Which is one of the reasons you see so much tea here. But I'm excited that she is changing her party from Tea Time Tuesday to No Place Like Home, a blog party where we can share all things home-related. Whew! I have a lot of teacups, but I was running out of ones to share.
Okay . . . I haven't completely run out. Here's my new (to me) Royal Albert November chrysanthemum teacup.
In honor of this new focus, I'd like to share some of my own thoughts about home, and specifically, why I have chosen to be a homemaker all these years. I gave up a career as a technical writer when our first child was born because I wanted a slower, more home-centered life for myself and my family. I've never regretted it.

I've always thought that a home should be a sanctuary, a place of respite from the storms of life, a shelter for our loved ones.

There's a lot of beauty and goodness in the world. I try to take the time to look for it. But we all know the world can also be dangerous, harrowing, stressful, and lonely. Besides the wider conflict and issues, our own days can be filled with rude and unkind co-workers, traffic snarls and delays, looming deadlines, pressures to perform and conform, and a myriad of other stressors that deplete and weary us.

When my loved ones, both family and friends, enter our home I want them to feel that, for the time being, they can lay their burdens down. That they are welcomed and loved, pampered and fed.

Some of the ways of doing this include cooking lots of favorite, homemade meals, putting fresh, clean sheets on the beds, arranging flowers and candles on the dinner table, and building a cozy fire in the evenings.

But these aren't the most important things. 

When push comes to shove, it's always better to order pizza or scramble some eggs, and spend the time and energy saved listening and loving.

This is one gift I feel I have been able to give by being at home. The gift of time.

Children and friends need a listening ear. Even more important than delicious, home-cooked foods or nicely decorated rooms, is a mom and friend who takes the time to sit and really listen. Not to lecture or advise, but just to listen.

Yes, beautifully arranged flowers, softly glowing candles, freshly baked muffins . . . these are a privilege for the homemaker to provide, and they add a wonderfully homey touch. But it is time and love that most make a home.

I had to be on bed rest for all my pregnancies. One Christmas, when I was pregnant with our second child, I was unable to do any decorating or baking at all. I remember sitting on the couch with our three-year-old daughter, looking at the Christmas tree, hastily put up and decorated by my overworked husband, ornaments crooked and unevenly spaced. I could see hairballs from our golden retriever gently scudding across the hardwood floors. Dinner had been canned soup. I had no idea what shape the kitchen was in or how much laundry was piled up (so thankful for a faithful husband and friends who lent a hand).

I told myself that, Lord willing, I would have years to cook and clean. Right now wasn't the time. My daughter didn't care about fancy cookies or neatly stacked piles of clean laundry anyway. She was just happy to have my undivided attention there on the couch, to have a mom who wasn't distracted by all the details of daily life.

As evening fell, we sat with my husband in the darkness looking at the twinkling Christmas lights. Cuddled together, we told stories and sang Christmas carols. We relaxed into the deep peace of home.

I have thought of that Christmas many times since when I have gotten myself all stressed about having things "perfect." What's that saying? "People don't care what you do, but how you make them feel."

This is home to me. Not perfection, but comfort and safety and love.

Joining Sandi for No Place Like Home.

Re-learning a lesson

Thursday, October 29, 2015

I've learned a number of lessons over the course of my life, but some of them I need to occasionally re-learn. Just recently I had to re-learn the hard way to "look before you leap." Or, don't rush ahead of the Lord when making plans.

A couple friends were leaving my house after book club about a month ago, discussing an upcoming trip they were planning. "Hey, you wanna come?" they asked.

Yeah right, I thought. I'm getting ready to go to Hawaii, and they were talking about a major trip planned for the beginning of December. It would require considerable preparation and would be pricey, too. Plus, I had never considered such a trip, halfway across the world to a mysterious and exotic location.

"I'll pray about it," I told them, without much conviction.

Well, that's the problem. I didn't really pray about it. I kind of forgot about it. But when I got home from Hawaii, I somehow allowed myself to get caught up in the excitement of the plans, hurried along by pressing deadlines.

Before I knew it, I was researching getting a tourist visa, checking into getting vaccinations, making packing lists, and purchasing an expensive airline ticket.

Several times, the thought went through my head: am I supposed to be going? Is this really a good idea? Even, I'm not so sure this is a good idea. The other travelers had definite plans and reasons for going (this wasn't just a vacation, in other words); I was just kind of tagging along. 

Several family members and friends cautioned me against going; I was facing dealing with the high probability of running into deadly allergens (I have an anaphylactic reaction to sesame) that I may not  have been able to avoid because of the ubiquitous use of sesame there and problems of communicating in another language with food vendors and restaurant workers. However, I was prepared to take along protein bars and other food just to avoid any issues.

But then there were other safety issues as well. Honestly, I think I would have been fine, but as I weighed these risks against whether or not I had a calling to go, I realized I couldn't expect God's protection if I had no clear call to go, and if I was running ahead of His purposes for me. And what if His plans there didn't include me for some reason?

Somewhat abashed, I cancelled my flight and reluctantly told my friends. I don't think I'll ever know for sure why I had that check in my spirit, but I think it's always right to Pay Attention.

Sigh. Lesson (re)learned.


Now, here's someone who suffers no nagging and bothersome existential questions about whether or not to go for it. He just plows ahead, regardless of the consequences.

I had filled my feeder up, and had a little more seed left in the bag, so I just sprinkled it all along a section of my deck railing, hoping my little bird friends would enjoy the extra treats. But here comes Mr. Squirrel, the scourge of the neighborhood. He starts at one end, and proceeds, single-handedly, to eat up every single seed in sight. Wow. He's not going to be feeling well later.


What about you? Have you charged ahead, making plans, and then realized you had been too impulsive? Or not spent time praying about it?

October tea

Monday, October 26, 2015

Anne reveled in the world of color about her.

"Oh, Marilla," she exclaimed one Saturday morning, coming dancing in with her arms full of gorgeous boughs, "I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers. It would be terrible if we just skipped from September to November, wouldn't it? Look at these maple branches. Don't they give you a thrill--several thrills?” 

-- L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

Royal Albert October teacup, Cosmos

Coming home from Hawaii to these beautiful fall colors softens the blow a little bit.

Quite a change from this . . . 

and this . . .

We went snorkeling here, another first and a highlight of our trip.

But I'm not going to complain, not when I can see this out my front door.

Joining Rose Chintz Cottage for tea.

Getting out of my comfort zone

Friday, October 23, 2015

I have a fear of heights. I cannot stand near the edge of a balcony even three stories high and lean against the railing. In glass elevators, I stand way back, close to the door and close my eyes. One time, I got stuck at the top of a Ferris wheel, and thought I was going to have a full-blown panic attack.

So why, oh why, did I sign us up for a 7-line treetop zipline adventure on our recent trip to Hawaii? 

As in, ascending to a platform five stories high, stepping off the edge of it, and careening over a canyon at least 10 stories deep? And doing that six more times?

Was I crazy?

And, of course, before we left I started researching zipline safety on the web. Just to reassure myself. Right. That story of the woman who fell 150 feet to her death. Of course, she wasn't wearing a harness, and we would be. But still.

I had trouble getting to sleep a couple nights, let me tell you.

Oh, and then, the morning before our adventure, there was an article in the Maui News, delivered to our doorstep, on zipline safety. Was it a sign?

After we got our helmets and harnesses on, and took a couple pictures, I told my husband we could leave. Just show the pics to everyone; no one would be the wiser. You see, I had made such a big deal about our ziplining plans to everyone, I guess trying to seem daring and adventurous, that I knew I would be embarrassed to say I'd chickened out.

But, with fear and trembling, I geared myself up. We headed with the rest of our group over to the ramp and staircase, up to the first platform, high in a giant eucalyptus tree.

As I waited my turn, I tried to ignore the two adolescent boys, pushing and shoving each other, pretending to "fall" off the platform. (The fact that they were securely harnessed made no difference. I still pictured them plunging to their deaths, and somehow taking me with them!)  

So my turn came. With shaky legs, I stood at the edge, at the edge of The Abyss. 

That first step off was the worst.

But then . . . it was okay.

I hurtled through the air and somehow landed on the ramp to the second platform. Still shaky, my heart racing, but I had done it!  I noticed, though, that I was grasping both safety lines with both hands as I awaited my next run, while the others stood casually around, hands free.**

The next run was a little easier.

 By the seventh run, I was hands free, twirling around, and thoroughly enjoying myself!

Lesson learned? Face your fears. You just might be surprised.

I think I can handle a stalled Ferris wheel after this.

** Except one poor girl, on her honeymoon, and not very happy. She was very nervous, and clearly not enjoying herself. I heard her say to her new husband, without a touch of humor, "You owe me a present after this." 


Sunday, October 18, 2015

I'm home from a wonderful two-week vacation in Hawaii with my husband. We had such a great time, and did so many fun things, including snorkeling and zip lining, both firsts for us.

We got up at 2:30 one morning to see the sun rise over Haleakala volcano in Maui and we went to Pearl Harbor. We took a sunset dinner cruise, and a tour through secluded rain forests and steep valleys where Avatar and Pirates of the Caribbean were filmed. We played in the waves and rested on the beach. We went to an old pineapple plantation and a black sand beach.

It was a restful and rejuvenating time. I'll share a few pictures later when I get them sorted.

Our first stop was in Honolulu where my brother lives. I'm sharing a picture of a tea set he won at a charity auction. It's not Hawaiian, but the colorful flowers on it remind me of the beautiful flowers we saw everywhere, both on Oahu and on Maui.

Yellow hibiscus, Hawaii's state flower

Spider lily; also known as Queen Emma's lily

Pink ginger
White ginger
The flowers were gorgeous, as were the plumeria trees with their white blossoms, which were everywhere, and smell simply wonderful.

I'm getting ready to welcome home both sons and three of their friends for a few days before they head over to their alma mater, Hillsdale College, for homecoming weekend. Will be busy cooking up some favorite foods. Already have the lasagne ready!

Hope to catch up with you all soon.

Joining Rose Chintz Cottage for tea.

Teacup exchange reveal

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Today's the day to reveal the gifts we all received as part of Stephanie's teacup exchange. I believe there were 150 participants from all over the world who participated in this most recent exchange. What a lot of hard work for Stephanie to coordinate all this -- thank you so much Stephanie for all you did to help us enjoy yet another fun exchange. 

This was the second teacup exchange I've participated in, and it was great fun, not only to select special goodies for the package I sent to a new blogger friend in London, but to receive a package, too. I can't help it. I just love to receive surprise packages in the mail.

My package came from Judith at Lavender Cottage. Judith was one of the very first bloggers to welcome me to blogland almost two years ago. As well as blogging about gardening, she hosts a popular blog party each week, Mosaic Monday. She also blogs about tea, and it was through the weekly blog tea parties that I first met her. She became a loyal commenter on my blog, and I'll always be grateful for that warm welcome.

She sent me an amazing package. Really. Over the top. Just look at these goodies.

Of course, Judith is not from Lavender Cottage for nothing. She addressed my package in lavender ink, and wrapped everything in lavender tissue paper. Even the pretty handmade card was made in her signature color.

very pretty embossing

This lovely teacup comes from Judith's own collection. I feel very honored. Isn't it gorgeous?

Isn't this a darling tea towel?

I used to love to do embroidery. And I love a project that won't take me months to finish. So, after a little investigation, I discovered I could order similar embroidery patterns and towels from Colonial Patterns, Inc. I am looking forward to making some of these myself.

Judith lives in Canada. Love the French on these packages of tea and cookies. Makes them seem so much more chic, nest pas?

Sweet little bird ornament . . . 

And here's a picture of the goodies I picked out for Zivile of My Dream Cottage who lives in London. I've just met Zivile, and adore her vintage and cottage style.

Since I've been blogging, I've received or sent packages to Ecuador, New Zealand, Vancouver, Alberta, Texas, Australia . . . and more. Wonderful how blogging can bring us into this kind of community.

Thank you again, Judith and Stephanie. I will treasure my gifts.

Linking with The Enchanting Rose.


Saturday, October 10, 2015

It has always seemed to me, ever since early childhood, amid all the commonplaces of life, I was very near to a kingdom of ideal beauty. Between it and me hung only a thin veil. I could never draw it quite aside, but sometimes a wind fluttered it and I caught a glimpse of the enchanting realms beyond -- only a glimpse -- but those glimpses have always made life worthwhile.

L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

Tea with Miss Read

Sunday, October 4, 2015

In far too many places in England today, the agreeable habit of taking afternoon tea has vanished.

'Such a shocking waste of time,' says one.

'Much too fattening a meal with all that dreadful starch,' says another.

'Quite unnecessary, if one has had lunch or proposes to eat in the evening,' says a third.

. . . All very true, no doubt, but what a lot of innocent pleasure these strong-minded people are missing! The very ritual of tea-making, warming the pot, making sure that the water is just boiling, inhaling the fragrant steam, arranging the tea-cosy to fit snugly around the precious container, all the preliminaries lead up to the exquisite pleasure of sipping the brew from thin porcelain, and helping oneself to hot buttered scones and strawberry jam, a slice of feather-light sponge cake or home-made shortbread.

                                                                 -- from Gossip from Thrush Green by Miss Read

Love this new (to me) teacup. I bought it as a gift for a friend, but will have to find her something else. Don't want to part with it!

If you've never read any of Miss Read's books, you don't know what you're missing. I've read the first four of her Fairacre series, and the first five of the Thrush Green series. The one I've quoted from here is next on my list. If you like charming and simple stories of village life in mid-20th century England,  peopled with lovable and sometimes eccentric characters, you're in for a treat.

Linking with Sandi's tea party.
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