Saturday, February 27, 2010

updated 25 cent deed

From a year ago:
"Rent-a-cart" grocery store. You may have one in your town. I finally figured out how the system works (it took me awhile), and quarter in hand, headed to the long line of chained grocery carts. A young mother passed me on the way to returning her cart. I thought to myself, let me save her the trouble. "Here," I said, thrusting my quarter towards her hand, "Wanna just give me your cart? Unless your daughter loves to do the coin thing..." I didn't want to take away a possible thrill from the little girl hanging on to the cart.

"Just take my cart," she spoke softly, smiling into my eyes, "I insist. Happy Birthday or something." Such a small 25 cent thing, but so huge in the way it blessed me and made me smile. After shopping I headed again to the line of carts, thinking I'd be making 25 cents that morning when I hooked it back up to the chain and got my quarter. Then I saw an older woman about to begin her shopping. I headed toward her, offering my cart, as she tried to hand me a quarter. Of course I refused.

It sort of reminded me of the movie Pay It Forward. On a very small scale. And I was able to do a good deed, though it cost me nothing.

Yesterday at a S*m's Club, on a very frigid, windy day, I noticed an older woman packing her groceries in the back of her car. As she slammed down the hood, she looked dizzy and then leaned into her cart, resting her head on the handle. Then she looked up, and I could see her eyeing the distance to the cart return. Brrr... the wind ... I turned back to the parking lot and asked if I might have her cart. With her reaction you'd think I just awarded her a thousand dollars. Obviously she needed the help. It warmed my heart so that I barely felt the chilled air as I pushed her cart into the store. Such a very simple thing, but I was so glad I had done it. So true that it's "better to give than receive." Any day.

Reposted from a year ago. See Chari's Happy to Design  to see more reposts.

Friday, February 26, 2010


We occasionally have gatherings in our home to discuss various topics. Yesterday I saw a bumper sticker that could create a discussion that might go all kinds of directions.

"Opaque is the new transparency."

I smiled, thinking that this could be the most "opaque" of all vehicles with its bright red color, boxy shape, and darkened windows. And then my mind went to all kinds of things the quote could be referring to, including the complex world of the internet ... such as ... in a New Yorker cartoon (Peter Steiner, 7/5/93) two dogs were talking to each other. "On the internet, nobody knows you're a dog."

My phone photos are not the best, especially taken of one moving vehicle from another moving vehicle!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Just Lunch

A couple of friends joined me for lunch the other day. Even the simplest lunch can be made festive by making the table pretty.

Decided to bring out some of my small pitchers (seen in sidebar) to hold the salad dressings. The red one is a Hall creamer.

Lunch at my house often includes soup. Of course. This time it was "snow day corn chowder," even though there was no snow.

The white plates are Good Will, the napkins homemade, and the soup bowls are Hall pottery. I developed a love for all things Hall when I visited a very cool antique shop in Lancaster, PA years ago. They had an entire area dedicated to Hall things. I remember a black and white checked flooring that created a sort of kitchen area in the store. That's when I began collecting the little Hall creamers, and bought for a song these little handled soup bowls that are great fun to use.

See Between Naps on the Porch to visit other tablescapes.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

About Face!

It's a pleasure to turn on my computer and be transported to places of beauty and inspiring words as I read blogs of people who have become friends. It's amazing how one can connect with others as we share mutual interests, ideas, and thoughts. It is sort of like the pen pals of the "old days." There's a lot more that can be said about this cultural phenomenon, but that's for another time.

Then there's fb, where I can catch up on friends near and far. The funny thing about that, with local friends, is that we already "know the news" before we even see each other, so, in a sense, have one step of conversation already out of the way. Not sure about how good that is, but.... Though some people may share way too much, there can never be enough photos for me. As have many others, I've recently connected with old college friends. We've been putting on photos from our days together at a small college (so we knew each other pretty well), and "discussing" them together as we reminisce. We've found we're still pretty much the same people except---ouch---we look just a bit older! What fun though.

So here's a funny fb story. I opened fb awhile ago on a Saturday night, and a young mother, Ginny, had just posted that:
  1. "Billy (age three) has just knocked out his front tooth and it's bleeding."
  2. I wrote: "Do you want me to call Youngest and ask what to do?" (Youngest is a dentist.)
  3. "Please do," came the reply, "we'll get photos on in a couple of minutes."
  4. Sure enough, by the time I had Youngest on the phone the pictures of Billy's mouth were on fb.
  5. He logged on to fb and I tagged the photos as mine, so my dentist son could see them on my fb page.
  6. Youngest gave his advice which I both typed in and phoned to Ginny.
All in under 10 minutes. Apparently Ginny's husband questioned her being on fb during a crisis, but she said, "You never know who might be on." Sure enough.  Smile.

Sunday, February 21, 2010


No spring here yet--enjoying coffee on a cold day
Linked to Little Red House. If you love pictures, click here and you will see many more Mosaics on Monday.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

what moms know

I  am so privileged to still have my mother, and she lives nearby. Even though our roles have changed to a certain degree, she still seems to know more about many things than I do, and she never ceases to amaze me. The other day I learned that she knows how to tie a bow; something I never have been able to do properly. I didn't think about the fact that she would know, but of course, for certainly she tied many a sash on the back of her three little girls' dresses over the years. My niece was trying on a dress, and Mother matter-of-factly tied the bow right away.

"Can you teach me?" I asked as a mother of only boys. We went over it and over it and over it again, and I think I finally got it, to the soft and patient melody of my young niece: 
"Are we done yet?"

Reposted from April 2008. See Chari's Happy to Design for more Sunday Favorites.

Friday, February 19, 2010

a little more on winter

It was cold, so very cold, and snow was stinging down on my face. I hadn't walked in a snowstorm in such a long time and I was loving it. As I waited along the street for friends in a shop I decided I had to either keep moving or get out of the storm for a minute.

I noticed a small antique shop tucked among the bread shops, coffee shops, and jewelry shops. I went inside. Immediate warmth, the wonderful scent of something familiar, and the sound of beautiful classical music aroused my senses and changed them from storm and cold to warmth and comfort. A little woman sat straight as a board in a wood chair by the door, as if to greet her customers. She was in a skirt, heavy sweater, cap, and fur boots, and was watching the storm with a book perched on her lap. We talked about the storm, the weather this year, and a bit about old things as I sailed around her shop, seeing, as always in such places, things like my mother had had, my grandmother had used, and more.

I didn't stay long, knowing I needed to catch up with the others who were probably on down the street by now. I thanked her as I left for giving me a chance to warm up. It was just one of those moments that come along in life that are special to me and me alone. I'll remember it for a long time.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

mountain valentine

We were up in the mountains with friends Valentine weekend and of course eating meals together was a big part of it all. We've gone away together this same weekend for many years. It's a tradition.

Simple, (not even cloth napkins!), but elegant in its own way!

Fresh greenery and pine cones from right outside the door. 

A simple trivette found at the cabin gave a nod to valentine's day.

A hearty beef stew on a cold night looked good in the earth-toned bowls.

You can't beat a mountain view, a roaring fire, and a great meal with old friends.

And a valentine dessert!

For more tablescapes, see Between Naps on the Porch.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Please be gentle

I love little old bathrooms tucked inside nearly crumbling buildings, if they have character attached to them. This past weekend we were in the foothills, enjoying the beauty of a recent snowfall. We drove on up the mountain to a university town and there encountered a true snow storm and it was marvelously refreshing to walk with the wind and snow on our faces. When visiting this mountain town I always stop in a large three-story antique shop. It's wooden floors creak as we walk over them, taking me back to the old stores of my youth.

And at the very back of this large store is a tiny bathroom. I always make sure to stop in for a visit and this time was totally charmed by the view of falling snow outside the old window.

 I was glad there was no line waiting outside, as I took time inside taking pictures. There was a sign that said, "Please be gentle, I'm a 70 year-old bathroom." And it went on to say that the building originally was the first B*lk Department store in the area.

I'm connecting with Windows Views and Doors Too. Visit their blog if you'd like to see window and doors from around the world.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Blue and Green

I have always loved blue and green together. I have no doubt that the Master Artist knew how good these colors would look up against each other in the sky and trees and grass. I also love blueberries and grapes, and couldn't resist a photo or two when I found them in this bowl together!

For more Monday Mosaics see Little Red House!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

heart stuff

There's something about Valentine's Day that rings in my
heart. It's not so much a romantic time. It evokes childhood memories of making valentines. I think that's it. It was one of my favorite times of the year. I remember decorating shoe boxes with red tissue paper and hearts, cutting a slit in the top of the box, and proudly carrying it to school. Throughout the week we'd place our valentines in each other's boxes. There the boxes would be, all proudly lined up at the side of the room, waiting for the party day when they'd be opened and then carted back home, filled with valentines from friends. And even as an adult, making valentines is just something I do nearly every year. Silly, I know.

This year I've been reading my favorite great-aunt's journal, so I decided to take a gorgeous photo of her as a 21 year old, in 1915, and use it on my valentines. I wish I'd known her as a young woman, but through reading tidbits in her journal, I'm getting some idea of her life as a young woman.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

double vision

The story goes like this. The Gardener bought me Old Castle Christmas plates last Valentine's day. We enjoyed using them so much over the holidays that I hated to put them away, but I did. So, in my mind I thought, I'll watch for some regular red (pink) "castle" dishes. When at "everyone's favorite store" recently, you can imagine my delight at finding them at a very cheap price. I brought four home and presented them to the Gardener. "Guess what I bought you for Valentine's Day?"

Of course it was really a joke. We don't usually do much for each other on Valentine's Day, but this was my excuse to buy them. He looked at me like a deer in headlights.

Got up and went to his closet, coming back with a bag of four carefully wrapped pink old Castle plates, purchased just two hours before I had bought my four. "Guess what I got you for Valentine's Day?" He was "for real" and his were the "real thing," bought from a favorite antique place.

See the difference? I don't need to tell you which is the older series. Much clearer picture and true curves to the side of the plate.

I guess it goes to show, the longer you live together, the more alike you think! So now I can serve eight with my non-Christmas castle dishes. But since I want to use them for every day too (note: I could use different dishes every night, I love dishes so much), I'm sure you can guess which ones I will use, and which I will save for more special occasions, like eight around my table.

See Cindy's My Romantic Home to see more treasures.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Second Mile

"Has anyone made such music in life by merely passing through it?" (John Buchan) Amy Carmichael speaks of such a life: "'She doeth little kindnesses that most leave undone or despise.' I think there is a great deal in the words, 'that most leave undone.' Perhaps they think them too small to do. But is anything small that helps to make another happy? The Second Mile has been described as the 'loving little extra things that need not be done, but which Love loves to do just because it loves." 
                                                             Amy Carmichael in Thou Givest ... They Gather

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

packed in my trunk

"Remember one of the most important things you can pack is flexibility." I was a young mother, about to move to West Africa with my husband and two little boys. An older woman was giving me some advice. I have never forgotten it. During our tumultuous three years there, I needed that flexibility constantly.

And that continues today. I tend to be a bit of a "control freak," liking life the way I think it should be, and most pleased when my "ducks are in a row." Not so life! Yesterday was the day I was to be on jury selection for the federal court. I organized my entire week--even month--around that date and the possible jury duty to follow. It hadn't registered with me that they could postpone my call date. Sure enough, I wasn't needed yesterday, but need to be ready for next week, a week so packed I just can't imagine what I'll do if called to a case.

Mentally I shifted gears for the day that was ahead of me. I'm never unhappy about a free day and fill it all too easily. I sat with my coffee as the day started and read something that a man called James Reed wrote in the 1800s, "Every day that dawns brings something to do which can never be done as well again. We should, therefore, try to do it ungrudgingly and cheerfully. ... We should thank [God] for it with all our hearts, as much as for any other gift. It was designed to be our life, our happiness. Instead of shirking or hurrying over it, we should just put our whole heart and soul into it."

Sunday, February 07, 2010

not all blue

A celebration for a baby boy soon to be born ... and we decided it didn't need to be all blue, after all, Valentine's Day is around the corner.

And the answer to how long it takes the average dad to change a diaper? One minute and 36 seconds. Less than it takes the average mom, according to someone's statistics.

For more interesting mosaics, see Little Red House.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

messy deeds

The other day I lingered in bed after the phone call came telling me I could stay home from work. The luxury of sleeping in tempted me briefly, but is easier said than done when my mind begins to work. I wiggled my toes and stretched as I thought of the luxury of unplanned free time. The gift of a day. Maybe I would just spend the whole day reading. Or making a few Christmas cookies. Definitely time for myself.

Then I remembered an elderly friend who had been rushed to the hospital the night before. I should check on her and maybe I should take my mom along with me to visit her. 

There was someone else I needed to visit in another hospital too. And find a plant to take to her. And then there was someone else who I needed to help with a change to a new drug plan. Suddenly my day seemed planned as I hopped out of bed to start it. I decided, okay, this would be a day of giving to others. I pictured myself serenely gliding through the day, bestowing acts of kindness on others like the sprinkling of fairy dust.

Well it certainly did not turn out that way. I did do what I needed and wanted to do, but it was a big case of one thing can lead to another. Throw in the mix holiday traffic, not the right plant where I thought it would be, and some extremely inept insurance people on the phone with me for an hour, reducing me to tears. The day deteriorated rapidly.

I came home with a splitting headache many hours later (long after I would have arrived home from work). I had a talk with myself on the way. What led me to believe that acts of kindness come wrapped in ease? Did I think I was owed a "walk in the park" just because I was helping others? Nowhere does Christ say our doing good for others will be pain free. If anyone knows about that, He does.

One of my prized possessions is a little soup bucket I have in my kitchen. The story, as I understand it, is that my great grandmother used it to take soup to sick people. I have a mental picture of a tiny Dutch woman in her heavy brown cape, walking down a city street carrying a little pot of soup and probably a basket of bread too. My soup bucket reminds me to think of others. My guess is that she didn't have an easy time with her good deeds either. 

Reposted from December 2007. See Chari's Happy to Designs for more Sunday reposts.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Dingleby Road

Driving in the car ... listening to the traffic report ... heard something about a Dingleby Road. Immediately my mind opened up like a flower and I was ready to write a novel about a little lady ... or a little boy ... who lived on Dingleby Rd. Doesn't it sound like it belongs in a book? Then I began to think of the name of the person who would live on this street.

Oh English! Or any language for that matter. Languages not my own sound beautiful (like Portuguese or French), and there is such expressive beauty in sign language as well. But the only language I know well is English and I love it when words have beautiful--or fun--sounds to them, such as the sound of "dingle." Musical! I also love the sound of different accents speaking my language. Something can sound a little more or a little less important depending on the accent, at least in my experience.

Photo: Little One playing in the snow and singing  signing laugh as she was having such fun! EBC photos

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

wednesday whites


Since our beautiful white outside is slowly melting away, I looked for some white inside to join Rhondi on her Wednesday Whites.

The day is foggy and overcast so far, so I added a little light on the white!
I enjoyed having Rhondi over for breakfast last week, and am amazed at how she is finding so much white in her colorful house. Check it out and all the others who are posting white today.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

If This Soup Could Talk

The Gardener wishes we had an old cast iron pot of soup simmering night and day on the stove. We almost do, but not quite,--we make soup so much in this house. Sometimes, when we've eaten the same soup several times, with additions of left overs, we laugh about if the soup could only talk and tell us what all was in it. If you stretched your imagination even further, you could hear the distant echoes of happy or somber conversations over the meals that the left overs started from. That may be a little far fetched, but .....

Recipe for "Talking Soup"

(All ingredients are optional except a broth base)

Chicken or beef broth and or a can or pkg of soup
Leftovers from dinner last night
Can of beans, any type will do
Pasta--small is best
Spinach leaves makes it pretty
Can of diced tomatoes always makes it good

Take soup leftovers the next day and repeat above to make it enough for your soup meal.  Often need to add a cup or two of broth.

If you keep adding to your soup, you definitely need to cut it off before a week is up, as some of the original may be a week old by then!

Great with crackers, hummus, cheese and especially, freshly baked bread!

We've gotten into a tradition of having a family soup party over the holidays, often on Christmas Eve.  What is really fun it to have friends bring several soups, in crock pots, with recipes.  Some great soup tasting takes place, along with recipe gathering.

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