An angel in disguise?

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

A Royal Albert New Country Roses teacup arrived on my doorstep last week, a gift from my son and daughter-in-law. 

I went for a walk a couple weeks ago feeling kind of sad and discouraged. I found a bench and sat on it, kind of half hoping the Lord would send an angel in disguise to come sit with me and comfort me. I remembered a friend who told me that once, when she was sitting alone at a park feeling very sad, a perfect stranger came and sat with her and talked with her for a long time, encouraging her and blessing her with kind and helpful words. She told me later that she was convinced that an angel had visited her.

That's what I'd like right now, Lord. Just a few words of encouragement. Just a simple reminder of the things I already know but need to hear again.

But there was just silence. 

As I sat there in the chill of the early spring morning, my son's little dog at my feet, I saw a woman emerge from a townhouse across the commons area from my bench. She was carrying a large pair of very sharp trimmers and I saw her try to trim a branch from a tree just behind her house. The branch was large and just a little beyond a comfortable reach.

After a few futile attempts, she went back in the house. I thought she'd given up. But the next moment I saw her come out again carrying a ladder and the trimmers.

Uh-oh, I thought. That doesn't look safe.

I walked across the grassy area to her and asked if I could help. She looked a little startled and uncomfortable at having a perfect stranger approach her. She'd never seen me before. After all, I was visiting from another state and had never walked this way before. But I didn't think I looked too threatening, what with my silver hair and all, and a little dog with me on her leash.

I tried to put her at ease, explaining that my brother-in-law had injured himself quite badly a few years ago falling from a ladder. I offered to hold it for her while she cut the branch.

While I held the ladder, she explained that some neighborhood boys had been coming around, hanging on the branch, swinging from it, and that she was afraid they would eventually break it. She was having quite a hard time so I offered to trade her the dog leash for the trimmers and have a go at it.

Now I don't have a lot of upper body strength at all, and what's more, I was working from the ground at a very awkward angle.  But I felt I had to make good after my offer. And I did eventually manage to cut the branch, although not quite as neatly as might be hoped.

She was about my age and I made some joke about us and our tree-trimming adventure. But still feeling that she felt a bit awkward, I just wished her a good day and retrieved my little dog and went on my way.

She'd never seen me before and will most likely never see me again. 

So I smiled a little as I walked away. I had prayed for an angel to visit me. Who knows if she didn't wonder later if maybe I was an angel in disguise sent to help her?

We pray for things. But sometimes the Lord knows better than we what we need. I wanted someone to encourage and sympathize with me, someone to help me out. But instead I was given an opportunity to help someone else.

 I felt encouraged and uplifted. My prayer had been answered.

A birthday tea

Monday, March 13, 2017

I feel like Winnie-the-Pooh must have said somewhere,"Oh, a Birthday Tea. What a Happy Thought."

I had a birthday tea for my daughter and a dear friend of hers who flew in from out of state to celebrate the birthday weekend.

I didn't make her wear this Dollar Store crown.

Uh-oh . . . I forgot to remove the damp paper towels over the plate of sandwiches before taking this picture. I didn't want them drying out before we ate.

Another friend was to join us, but couldn't make it.

Here you see some of my mother-in-law's silver, and what looks like a Limoges teacup, but just says Made in Austria. The plate on top is the Rose Chintz pattern by Johnson Brothers. The fruit bowl is from Target.

The linen luncheon napkins are probably more than 75 years old, and came from a friend of my husband's grandmother's.

Because I'd been out of town I didn't make anything except for two kinds of scones. Oh, I did assemble the sandwiches and cut up some fruit! I got the rest of the goodies at a nearby Italian grocers with a wonderful pastry counter.

Little party favors were in order. A tiny bottle of glitter never hurt anything either.

Lady Carlyle by Royal Doulton is in the running for my all-time favorite china pattern.

Had to have some bubbly pink lemonade in my mother-in-law's champagne glasses, circa 1949 (the glasses, not the lemonade!).
These Italian hard candies are filled with soft centers. I bought them just because the packaging was so lovely. But they taste pretty good too.

Chocolate mousse-filled cups sitting atop cupcake stands I found at Target.

This tablecloth, which is really a bedspread, was hand crocheted by my grandmother. It's huge, and I can't even imagine the time that went into making it.

Croissants filled with chicken salad, and thin Pepperidge Farm sandwich bread filled with ham spread and boursin cheese and thinly sliced cucumbers.

Lemon curd and homemade clotted cream for the scones.

The birthday girl, my daughter, on the left, and her dear friend Sam.

After our tea, we sank into the couch and easy chairs for conversation in front of the fire. We were all in various degrees of semi sugar-induced comas.

A Delightful Party with two lovely young women!

Meeting another blogger friend

Saturday, March 11, 2017

So did you guess which blogger from North Carolina I met this past week?

Debby Ray from My Favorite Things!

And she is just as sweet and friendly as you would expect a Southern gal to be. 

I came down to stay with my son and daughter-in-law, who just had surgery and needed some help.

Before coming down I remembered that Debby lives in North Carolina, and wondered if it was anywhere near my son. I emailed her, and voila! She's maybe an hour away from him, so we decided to meet for dinner about halfway.

We talked so long we closed the place down! The thing about meeting a blogger friend who is a stranger is that they're not really a stranger at all. We already know lots about each other from our blogs. Besides that, we have many mutual blogging friends we love and admire. ("Oh, do you read So and So's blog, too? Isn't she great?")

I wish I'd taken a picture of the buttermilk fried chicken, collard greens, and big flaky biscuit I had. Honestly it was the only real Southern food I'd had all week other than the pimento cheese sandwich I made. 

I remember when my daughter moved to Alabama to teach high school. When we went to visit her, all I saw were Panera Breads and Ruby Tuesdays and the like. I wanted some real Southern-style cooking -- cheese and grits and and ribs and fried green tomatoes and all that. So I was really glad Debby suggested this down-home, Southern-style restaurant. 

Debby gave me some "gifts from the sea." I've been to the North Carolina beaches. Oh, what wonderful walks I've had on them. And how much I'd like to vacation there every year.

Look at these fun sea shell candies.

 My daughter-in-law, who grew up in North Carolina, said she and her sister always got these candies when they went to the beach as children.

So fun, and such pretty shapes and colors, but I honestly didn't have high hopes for how they would taste. But I was wrong. They're really good, kind of like soft M&Ms.

And they actually came in quite handy on my long 9-hour drive home. Nothing like a little sugar to keep you going. Thanks, Debby!

I think this photo should be made into a puzzle, don't you?

So I've met nine bloggers now (see my previous post for the list). I feel so grateful for the friendships made here in blogland. Wish I could meet all of you in person.

And Debby, thanks so much for making the drive after a long day at work and taking a chance on meeting me. I do hope we'll be able to meet again sometime.

A visit to Finch Rest

Friday, March 3, 2017

I got to meet a very special blogger friend this past Tuesday. Michele at The Nest at Finch Rest and I have been wanting to get together for so long! She only lives a little more than three hours from me, but we just weren't able to arrange it. So I was really excited when we were able to plan for me to stop there on my way to North Carolina to visit my son and daughter-in-law.

And not just a cup-of-tea visit with her, an overnight visit!

I got there around 1:30 in the afternoon. Michele had a lovely lunch all prepared for us.

Feast your eyes on this beautiful table.

We have been having such a mild winter here in the Midwest, and Michele took advantage of the warmer weather to set a pretty spring table. We both know that more snow is inevitable, but the pink and green spring decor just warmed my heart!

I forgot the name of this china pattern, but it is Austrian. Michele has a whole set, and it is beautiful.

She had a gift of a sweet little sachet tied up in a pretty bow sitting atop my plate.

She served this delicious tea. Cup after cup was poured as we chatted away the whole afternoon as if we'd always known each other.

This spinach mushroom soup was delicious!

And then came a yummy chicken salad on a croissant.

And, Oh. My. Look at these delectable desserts.

She really knows how to make people feel special. I can tell you, those little lemon bars and the chocolate peanut butter bars were delicious!

And there were presents . . . 

Michele made this for me. If you look closely, you can see a signature finch nestled among the leaves and flowers.

I know just where to put this! Thank you so much, Michele!

We chatted and chatted, and then I took a little half hour nap to revive. Hadn't slept the night before. Too much excitement. Then, while Michele made us a little dinner, I did some coloring.

This coloring book, filled with tea images, came from Margie at Tea in the Valley. Margie, I'll bet you never thought I'd be coloring in this book you sent Michele. Love how we three bloggers connected here.

More chatting and talking. Wish I could have stayed up all night with Michele, but I had a drive the next day.

I really wish I had taken pictures of the guest room I stayed in. A very pretty, romantic room in whites, with lovely keepsakes, including a pair of Michele's ballet slippers from childhood and a lamp filled with seashells in its base by her mother.

There was a basket of books on tea, perfect for perusing before falling asleep.

I had to get up early to get on the road. "Just coffee would be great," I had said, but here's what awaited me as I arrived downstairs.

More chatting and visiting, until I finally had to leave.

Sorry for the fuzzy quality -- this was a quick cell phone pic by Michele's husband. We almost didn't get one!
Many of you know what a lovely person Michele is through her blogging. When I was planning my daughter's wedding last year and starting to feel stressed out, Michele offered to drive up, stay in a hotel nearby, and come and clean and serve my out-of-town guests! She even offered up her husband's services. He would come and be the "butler"! I was overwhelmed by her kindness. And even though I didn't take her up on her offer, I will never forget her willingness to give sacrificially to someone she'd never met.

I also had the opportunity to meet her husband (really nice man who enjoyed the paczkis I brought for Fat Tuesday!) and sweet daughter and granddaughter. Such a great family. Oh my, that little granddaughter is even cuter in person than she is in the pictures you see on Michele's blog. I can see why she's in love!

Michele is the eighth blogger I've met in person, and I can tell you without exception, every one of them has been delightful to meet. And funnily enough, they each seemed much as I imagined.

I've met Mariette from Mariette's Back to Basics (she is from Georgia but she and her husband were in our area and we were able to meet). I've met five bloggers from Colorado out on my annual visits to see my mom and sister -- Bernideen from Bernideen's Tea Time, Cottage and Garden (and I got to see her beautiful tea shop before she retired), Roxy from Living from Glory to Glory and her daughter-in-law Amy from God's Grace Overflows, and mom and daughter Debbie (She Graces Her Home in God's Beauty) and Stephanie (The Enchanting Rose). When I was in Texas last year for a nephew's wedding I met Kitty from Kitty's Kozy Kitchen.

I'm still amazed I've been able to meet all of these bloggers.

And I'm meeting another one next week while I'm here in North Carolina. I'll let you guess who that might be, and post about it later.

Thanks again Michele! We'll definitely have to do it again, maybe next time at my home. 
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