Wednesday, March 30, 2011

impromptu tea

A friend's birthday ... why not gather others for a simple cup of tea to celebrate? If we don't take the effort to celebrate these life events and spend time together, we get busy and the days slip into weeks and sometimes months before we find time to be together.
So we take advantage of such times.
It doesn't take much work or any special food. Just whatever's in the house.
 Setting some pretty dishes out and a candle always helps the ambience. 
We had: crackers, cheese, hummus, muffins, fruit and tea. 
And that was it. No frills.
Simple and relaxing.
We all felt a bit refreshed and renewed. 
Sometimes slowing down comes just from sipping tea with friends.
Connecting to Between Naps on the Porch for other Tablescapes.


It was a dark and stormy night ... well, not really. It was actually a warm, sunny morning. So clear is my memory of that day that I can smell the scents of the vehicle, feel the humidity of the air, and most of all remember the stress I felt ... like it was yesterday. Another nurse and I had taken a team of teenagers to Romania to work in orphanages for two weeks. Some of the girls and I were heading home via Hungary where we would get our plane back to the States. But first we had a long drive––from a little town in Romania to the big city of Budapest––in a rented van with a hired driver who, it turned out, had no clue where he was going. He stopped to pick up a woman friend who seemed to know the way, or so we thought. He also didn't know English and we didn't know Romanian or Hungarian. The one thing our driver knew was how to finagle the exits on the motor way in order to avoid the tolls. He would meander around back roads, getting back on the road after the toll booth had passed. I know this took a lot more time, and meant he was pocketing the toll money we had included with his payment.

What normally would be a six-hour drive took us 12. One bathroom stop early on, and no further stopping for food, water or a bathroom. We would gesture or try to ask in exaggerated English but he did not understand––or would or could not find a place for us to stop. It was dark when we finally got to the outskirts of Budapest. He was totally lost. Once he stopped in a dark alleyway to ask directions. Eeery. Through it all the girls were calm––I gather they were sort of considering it an adventure––until it got ridiculous and then we all became a little "on edge." I felt the heavy weight of responsibility. Eventually I saw a young woman walking her dog on a busy street and motioned the driver to pull over. I got the brilliant idea to hire a taxi. Thankfully the woman spoke some English and helped me make the call from a complicated phone booth. In no time a taxi pulled up, very willing to accept my cash payment of 10 American dollars. There were too many of us to climb into the taxi, so the taxi led the van to our destination, which ended up being just a few blocks away! Never was I more thankful to see a hotel. The management there had waited up for us and ordered some pizzas for us to devour. But first, we all headed to the "loo." A day we will never forget!

not my photo

Sunday, March 27, 2011

out my window

"...I cannot shake the shimmer from my sight 
I got from looking through a pane of glass..."
from After Apple Picking, a poem by Robert Frost 

See Mary's Little Red House for more Monday Mosaics!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

laughing at myself

I sort of need a spring jacket ... although that's always debatable here in the sunny south for two reasons: 1- will you wear it enough to justify the money spent, and 2-there are no coat racks in the south ... meaning any jacket you wear, and may want to take off, is with you constantly. It's especially debatable this year since it seems summer has come quickly after a very cold winter.

But anyway, I was in one of our favorite stores recently and noticed a prominant rack of spring jackets. They "had my name written on them." I'm a "no frills"sort of dresser and love the safari, khaki look. I noticed several other racks of that kind of jacket. "Must be 'in,'" I thought to myself (I'm generally clueless about fashion.) So I grabbed up a couple and went to the dressing room to have a look. And I loved them! Suddenly the coat really came into focus. It was an almost exact replica of a jacket I had 30 years ago! And probably wore for 20 years, I loved it so much. Once on our way home from Africa, we stopped for a few days in Holland. Even though it was summer, temperatures felt cool to my Africa-warmed skin and I had to buy a jacket. I was amazed how fashion had changed in the time we had been away and the baggy/safari look was in (the 80s) ... and the jacket I found to purchase was "me."

I never could part with it. When I finally gave in to the fact that it was terribly out of style, I wrapped it in tissue paper and stored it in the attic. I guess there's only so many fashion styles possible, and they do return. For once saving something has paid off. The jackets went back on the rack and I'm up in the attic today to get my (better made, by the way) jacket.

not my photo nor my jacket but I like it

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

... missing ...

A friend shared with me something
she read recently:

What if I woke up one day and
all I had was what I had thanked
God for yesterday?

Saturday, March 19, 2011

are we happy?

I think a lot about happiness and how we become happy. And I think about joy, which I consider more a more deeply rooted emotion, not based on outside things, coming from the depths of my being. Happy, to me, is more temporary and maybe a bit more superficial, but I guess it's all in the semantics.

If my happiness depends on circumstances and things, and even people, it can shatter instantly into a zillion tiny pieces, just like a jar dropped on my ceramic tiled kitchen floor. But if it's based on looking outside of myself, if it's based on caring about and doing something for others, it becomes more rooted and genuine. I may not have it all figured out, but one thing I know, it's all about putting others first. And everyday life in my small world, and in the big world around me (think Japan), gives an abundance of ways to do that.

When I first posted this in January 2010, I said "think Haiti." Connecting to Chari's Happy to Design for Sunday Reposts.

Friday, March 18, 2011

shopping day soup

Seems like when I come home with an armful of fresh vegetables from the market, I'm ready to cook. Seems like when I've been away from home for awhile, I'm eager to cook. Seems like when I have a day off of work and lunch time is approaching, I get a yen to cook. Seems like my favorite way to cook is to look at what I have and go for it. There is nothing more relaxing for me than to let some creativity flow on to the stove top and make it up as I go along.

Mom came for lunch and I asked her how cauliflower soup sounded. "Great!" I went to work ... the bones of the soup was the cauliflower.

First came simmering cauliflower with carrots, for I found some carrots in the frig needing to be used.

Then browning onions with garlic and, on yes, bell peppers I also found in the frig. I throw in some fresh spinach whenever possible, for it makes it all so pretty. Pepper, some chicken buillon seasoning, etc.

Toss in the big blender to puree with a little more chicken paste, milk, pepper and whatever else it might need to taste the way you like it ... and a pretty peach color develops. The darker green is the stir fried veggies all blended together.  Stir the two purees together, add some sour cream and white wine and heat through.
Serve hot, warm, cool or cold with a dollop of sour cream. A pretty color with tiny flecks of orange, red and green. The  Gardener loves cream soup, which we all know is not that good for us. So I can fool him with this soup ... thick and creamy, but oh so healthy.

Mom did ask why it wasn't white as one would think cauliflower soup might be.

Sharing this with Foodie Friday at Designs by Gollum.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

wearing green

I have a hunch not too many people view St. Patrick's Day as a religious holiday. But it actually is. It's all about Patrick going from England to Ireland to share the news of Christianity to a country steeped in polytheism. (The Gardener, a church historian, loves to call this the "missionary holiday.") St. Patrick went there first as a captured slave at the age of 16. After returning to his homeland, he felt called of God to return to Ireland to preach and teach the gospel. He remained there 30 years, until he died on March 17, 461. Even though others came to Ireland bent on proclaiming the Christian faith, St. Patrick seems to be the most beloved in history. Seems now St. Patrick's day is more a celebration of Ireland and it's culture, though it remains a religious holiday in Ireland.

Folklore says that Patrick used a shamrock to explain the Trinity to the Irish. That's why we see shamrocks and so much green on March 17th!

not my photo

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

spelling bee

As I read letters from my grandmother it's apparent she was a good writer, had nice handwriting, and her spelling was perfect (at least I haven't found a misspelled word yet, not that I'm looking, but the editor in me can't help but notice them ...)

When I found this little schoolbook of hers from 1903 I thought it might be a key to her good spelling. The doodles on the inside cover could have been mine.  :-)

Sunday, March 13, 2011


Some urban views from Bangkok, Thailand. I love the mix of the new 
(shopping center) with the old (portable markets on wheels.)

See Mary's Little Red House for more Mosaics.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

little books

I'm always looking for something new to put in my "cloche." So far, lemons in summer, apples in the fall, and yarn in the winter ... Then I saw in a magazine a glass jar like this filled with .... little books. And since we seem to collect old books of all sizes I thought this was an excellent idea and wondered if the books would actually fit. They did and I love seeing some of my favorites: Slips of Speech is great to grab for some out loud reading; a Boar's War you can read a few pages from and pick it up later, and the little Book of Common Prayer. Funny thing is, I looked more closely at the magazine idea and realized it was cocktail napkins, not books ... but I like the way my books turned out, and they are a perfect addition to the room we like to call our "Library."

I was ready to post this when I saw a "Cloche Party" at A Stroll through Life . I guess I'll join in!

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

wear my rose

     I've never had a single doubt about my parents' deep love for each other. Until the end of his life, Dad treated my mother like a queen. Now that I am reading through some of the old letters (no I haven't ventured much into their ribbon-wrapped love letters) I can see again how sweet their romance was. Mom once told me the story of their engagement. They became sweethearts while attending the same college. When it came time to "pop the question," Dad did so but requested that my mother wait a week to think and pray about her answer. My guess is she was ready to say "yes" right then, but she waited, and she said it seemed like the week lasted forever. Towards the end of that week Dad sent her some roses with a note that said, "Wear my rose to the dining hall tonight if your answer is yes." With stars in her eyes, she pinned the rose on to her blouse. I wonder if they had much of an appetite for dinner that night in the excitement of the promise of a life together.
     Later that night, as the custom still is at that college when a couple gets engaged, they climbed the tower stairs and rang the bell, proclaiming their news to the whole campus.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

best picks

Vintage toothpicks, for real.  Little pieces of machine carved wood.
Reminds me of the game Pick up Sticks that we loved as children.
 Only this would be a game for the fairies.

See Little Red House for more Monday Mosaics!

Thursday, March 03, 2011

F. I. V. E.

This month marks five years of  blogging for me. "Who knew?" I still remember my first post in March 2006. I pressed the "publish" button with much hesitancy, fear and a dash of anticipation. Little did I know how long I'd continue or how many wonderful friends I would meet. "Blogging 'broadens one's horizons'" is an understatement. I began my blog, I think, as a way of dealing with some of the grief of my dad dying. I talked about him a lot at the beginning. It soon became a place to use the photographs that I love to take as well as a place to write what's on my mind. And probably not more than a day has gone by when I haven't thought of my blog. It's become a bit of a hobby. I'm sure we all can say we look at life a bit differently now, often viewing some life event as "this would make a good blog." It has been enriching and rewarding. My writing and my photography has had some good practice. You know the old adage "practice makes perfect"--or at least improved.  I like to think of my blog as a little room in my house that I tend to. I decorate it the way I like, do some housecleaning occasionally, and sometimes re-wallpaper or change the pictures on the wall. And blogging is for sure a community, totally unimagined 10-15 years ago. I feel like I'm missing something if I don't check in with my blogging friends frequently. And if I don't "see" them, I want to drop them an email to be sure they are doing OK.  The Gardener "knows" them by name, or at least by blog name. Here is one of my first posts, which is fitting as we are in the "spring mode" again.  Five years, or 912 posts ago, I titled this "Tulips on a Garden Path."

As the daffodils fade and azaleas bloom overnight, I frequently remember how much my father and I enjoyed spring a year ago. I'd push Daddy in his wheelchair around garden paths, from tulips to flowering shrubs, until I wearied and we'd settle on the rocking chair porch for a view of the lake. Again and again (at least once a minute) he would point with joy in his eyes and exclaim over flowers, swimming swans, or anything else of beauty around him. What pleasure he experienced each and every time!

Midst a life stage where Dad maybe felt disappointment at how little he could do for himself (but how do we know for sure what he felt?) he experienced a richness of pleasure with his intact senses. And with that he enabled us to experience joy again each time with him, as we would look and exclaim again and again! A gift of grace--so much pleasure at such a difficult time of life! Blessings come wrapped in unusual packages!

Connecting to Chari's Happy to Design for other Reposts

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

yellow with my pink

I never thought much about yellow and pink as a combo until I walked into my little 
niece's nursery for the first time. It was delightful -- all yellow with a dose of pretty pink.
So when I had some friends for lunch I thought I'd pull out the old 
 yellow tablecloth to go with my mom's desert rose dishes.
I had some daffodils from the garden in a vase and then at A*die's I found 
beautiful pink roses and baby's breath to tie it all together. 
(BTW, A*ldie's is the place to buy flowers on the cheap.)
Starter: a taste of Corn Chowder; 
Salad and Quiche; 
Fruit and Coffee-like-Cake-From-a-Blog
Blueberry Iced Tea; Lady Grey Tea

Connecting to Between Naps on the Porch for other interesting table settings.


Every February we declare Spring is early and there will be more winter. But somehow this spring it seems to be actually here. Very warm temperatures probably speeded up the blossoms a bit. And March winds came in February. But here we are. As gorgeous as ever. Spring has sprung.

Photo taken on my phone from the car as the sun was setting ... not the best, but you get the idea!
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