Sunday, July 14, 2019

Sunday Sentiments -.02



Did I offer peace today?
Did I bring a smile to someone’s face?
Did I let go of my anger and resentment?
Did I forgive?
Did I love?
These are the real questions.
I must trust that the little bit of love
that I sow now will bear many fruits,
here in this world, and in the life to come.”

 - Henry J. M. Nouwen

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Just Around The Bend - An Impromptu Road Trip To Tennessee












I mentioned in my last post that converting a van into a "home on wheels" and traveling the country has been Bill's dream for several years now and we're recently begun taking some steps to bring that dream to fruition, though it will most likely still be another year or two before we embark.  But in that pursuit, Bill found a van earlier this week that showed some potential.  It appeared to have everything we were looking for, the most important of which is a high ceiling.  If we are going to make this our home for a couple of years, we want to be able to stand up! :). It also had lots of windows, was less than twenty years old, had low mileage and it was within our price range, + + + +!  And to slather the icing on the cake, it was only about four hours away in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee and we're always up for a trip to the Smokies! So Bill changed his work schedule around a little and we pulled everything together and took off late Thursday afternoon.  Right now we have the back of our SUV converted into a camper and when we camp we either stay in state or national parks, or we seek out a BLM spot, which is honestly our favorite thing to do. But because this trip was rather spur of the moment, we decided to boondock at the local Cracker Barrel, which essentially means we spent the night in their parking lot!  Most Cracker Barrel locations across the country allow this, as well as Walmart, but we prefer Cracker Barrel and in return for their hospitality, we always try to eat breakfast there the next morning.  We pulled in around 10:30 p.m. Thursday night, just as a light rain was starting to fall. It wasn't the most restful night we've had, it was pretty hot and humid, but that's just the part of the adventure!

The next morning, after we enjoyed a delicious breakfast at Cracker Barrel, we headed to where the van was located. We had a couple of hours to kill, and since one thing Cracker Barrel is not known for, at least in our opinion, is their coffee, we decided to seek out a quiet place where we could brew up a cup of instant Starbucks, which is a staple in our camping kitchen! The first six pictures you see above are of the little spot we happened upon. This is actually a picnic area that one of the white water outfitters provides for its customers, but since it was several hours before they opened for the day, we took a chance that they wouldn't mind if we borrowed one of their tables and enjoyed a cup of coffee. I was immediately flooded with memories from my childhood when I saw the swaying willows and the bright pink blooms on the catalpa trees. My parents had a weeping willow and several catalpa trees in their yard when I was growing up, and I would spend hours playing outside and cooking up imaginary meals, pretending the tiny catalpa leaves were green beans. At some point in the season they sprout these long bean pods which I loved as well, and I would open them up and pretend they were English peas. I even fed some to my brother once, which resulted in a frantic phone call to poison control! He survived, but after that I my mother kept a closer eye on my foraging! It was a such lovely little spot, and I would have loved to linger longer but as the temperatures began to rise the gnats set in and drove us away.

In the end the van just wasn't quite tall enough.  Bill couldn't stand up in it and my head reached the very top, and since the plan is to fully insulate it and build a new floor, we knew that would raise the current floor a little higher and neither of us would be able to stand up in it comfortably.  The van is owned by a guy who works as a guide for Smoky Mountain Outdoors and takes people white water rafting, so it was right on the river as well. But we were so busy looking over the van and taking measurements that I didn't get a chance to take many pictures, other than that cute little make-do garden in the picture above. But Cory, (the van owner and resident guide), graciously invited us back before the end of the season to ride the rapids and we already have plans to take him up on that! If you're interested in trying out some white water rafting yourself, especially if you don't live far from the area, I would highly recommend getting in touch with them!  Cory is a GREAT guy and we can't wait to make the trip back and have some fun! I'm sure that then I'll be able to take a few more pictures, because the area where it is located is so beautiful!

In typical road-trip fashion, we took the long way home.  We're not opposed to interstate travel, especially when timing is a factor. But overall we like to travel much like we try to live our lives, in the ★ S L O W ★ lane! We are seekers of side roads and small towns, and love leaving room to stop in at places that pique our interest along the way. One of the places we stopped on this trip was a used book store. I won't mention the name because overall we wouldn't give it the highest rating.  But they did have a wonderful section of seasonal crafting and cook books, which I proudly resisted perusing except to take a quick picture. And I did find "Pooh Corner" in the children's area endearing. If the rest of the store had been as charming and the staff had been friendlier (they never even acknowledged us), I might have enjoyed it more.  Eventually the road wound through Abingdon and Damascus, two of our all time favorite places. The mountain laurel is in full bloom right now, pictured last above. It was such a beautiful drive home and I hated for our time to come to a close.

I'm excited that we'll be making the trip back again, and we've also decided to spend a week in the Damascus area towards the end of October and hike Grayson Highlands and The Virginia Creeper Trail.  In the mean time, as we continue the quest for our van, I'm sure there will be other impromptu trips that pop up along the way, providing ample opportunity for seeking beauty and traveling in the
★ S L O W   L A N E ★!  And of course, I'll be sure to share!

Until then my friends, seek out beauty wherever life takes you this weekend!

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Lazy Summer Days


I haven't done much this past week, other than cross stitch. After I finished my little trio of salt box houses and got them in place, I set to work on this seasonal piece. I still have a black checkerboard border to stitch, which I will hopefully finish over the next few days, and then I plan to stuff it and place it in a little seasonal display I'm dreaming up. I'm a little late to the game with summer, so I will probably set immediately to work on Autumn to get ahead. In the end I will have one for each season and display them with some other "seasonal" trinkets to observe the changes of the year, which always brings me such delight!

Part of me has felt a bit lazy, and maybe even guilty for sitting on my rumpus so much lately.  But after pushing myself hard for close to a month, I knew that if I didn't take some time to rest that I would eventually crash, emotionally and physically, which is never pretty. But come next week, there is furniture to be painted, curtains to be made and hung, and a plethora of other things that will need tending to, so in the mean time, I'm going to embrace grace and allow myself to rest.

In other news, we think we've found our van, although in all honesty, I have very mixed emotions concerning that. I think I've shared before that it is Bill's dream to convert a van into a "home on wheels" and then take a year or two and travel the country. And while I'm almost always up for a good road trip, this last move has kind of done me in on the idea of relocating any time soon, especially living on the road. That's not to say I'm not game, it's just the timing of this discovery that has made it a little hard to warm to. But he promised that we won't be setting out "any time soon", as in, at least until the end of our lease which is a year from now, and he expects it may even take a little longer than that. If I'm part of this deal, full time anyway, I have some specifications regarding the way I want things to look, feel and function.  Being a "homebody", if that is going to be on the road for a few years, then I need as many comforts as we can fit into that small space. But I have to agree that this van does seem to hold all that we had hoped for, structurally anyway. It is less than 20 years old, has low mileage, a high ceiling, meaning that you can stand up in it, and the price is right. And while we won't be heading out on a grand adventure in the near future, outfitting it will be fun and inspiring as well. The only problem we are facing right now is where to park it during the build, since we now live in an apartment.  But as with every step of this journey, we are trusting that if this is God's will that He will provide. With that, we're heading for the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee tomorrow evening and hope to be back by Friday or Saturday at the latest. The trip itself will be fun, and perhaps a little "get away" will do us both good. I'm hoping to make a little time for reading on the drive up, or listen to a favorite podcast.  With the move, I've fallen out of habit with enjoying both of these pleasures and a road trip can make the perfect setting for both.

And speaking of reading, I picked up the latest issue of Bella Grace magazine earlier this week and I've been perusing through it a bit, usually before bed. One of articles that piqued my interest was 25 Whimsical Ways To the Enlighten The Light Of Summer.  Just listen to the opening words of the first paragraph.

"At the mere suggestion of summer, possibilities seem endless.  There appears to be a litany of days that run one into another, stretching sunshine long into twilight.  Periwinkle evenings are met by petal-pink dawns, and the parade of summer clouds appears with invisible music you don't hear but can feel."

I don't know about you, but words just feed my soul, and these have wet my appetite to perhaps be even more intentional in relishing in the warm glow of summer's light. The article goes on to suggest ways to savor the summer days.  Here are just a few of their suggestions that I enjoyed.

★ If you feel like you're missing your youth, then go to the library and check out all of the favorite books you read a child.  Curl up with your old teddy and read the stories aloud in the character's voices.

★ If you are feeling adventurous, then get in your car with no phone, no map and no agenda of when to be back.  Get lost on purpose, turn by turn, just drive!

★ If you are blessed with a thunderstorm, then embrace every moment of it! Turn off al off the lights in your house and burn candles.  Cuddle under a blanket made of only the softest material, and into a a new novel and read it cover to cover.

I think I might just partake in all of these, and there are several others in the article that I sparked my interest as well.  What about you?  What are some ways that you are savoring summer, or an idea you have for something you can do to be intentional about making time to take in all the warmth and light this beautiful season holds? Our little impromptu road trip tomorrow has inspired me to seek out some beauty, and once we're back I'll be sure to share my finds with you!

Until then, my friends, savor these summer days!


Sunday, July 7, 2019

Sunday Sentiments - .01

When the scarlet cardinal tells
Her dream to the dragon fly,
And the lazy breeze makes a nest in the trees
And murmurs a lullaby,
It is July.

When the tangled cobweb pulls
The cornflower's cap awry,
And the lilies tall lean over the wall,
To bow to the butterfly,
It is July.

When the heat like a mist veil floats,
An poppies flame in the rye,
And the silver not in the streamlet's throat,
Has softened almost to a sigh,
It is July.

When the hours are so still that time
Forgets them and lets them lie,
'Neath petals pink till the night stars wink
At the sunset in the sky.
It is July.

- Susan Hartley Swettn

Friday, July 5, 2019

Making A Home - Little Things That Breathe Life In The Midst of Moving


It's been a hard, slow three weeks, but now that we are about 90% settled into this space, this week I slowed my pace a bit and took some time to recuperate and reflect.  I added them all up yesterday and realized that this is our twelfth move in nineteen years of marriage, and we aren't even in the military. That means, that for the most part, we average about 1 1/2 years of living in a space before we pack up and move again.  The longest we have lived in any of those places was our beloved farmhouse in Moneta,  and the shortest was our first house in Richmond.  Between the two of us, we have lived in four states, but for most of our married life, we have been in Virginia.  Yet such is often the life of a retail store manager! Bill still has dreams of renovating a bus or large van and hitting the road, but right now, post-unpacking, I can't even fathom the idea.  I need to put down some roots, even shallow ones, and thankfully we signed a one year lease.  Maybe this time next year  I'll be rested and feel different, but for now, I just want
S L O W ★.

I've been doing a lot of cross stitching this week, mostly working on a little trio of salt box houses that I have had in mind for years now and finally got around to working up.  That's the first one you see on the left. I finished the last one yesterday and my plan is to put them in place later today.  It's an "inspired design", I like to say. The houses are based loosely on a graph I worked up last summer, and the embellishments are from the same, though I did alter them a bit to make them fit the smaller space. I am so happy with the way they turned out and can't wait to share them with you again once I get them set.

I did take a break from them for a little while the other night.  Bill and I watched a documentary on the history of drive-in movie theaters, and I stitched up the little diddy you see in the first picture at the top.  Memories from my childhood beckon back to a time when life seemed to move at a slower pace, and it seemed an appropriate project for the evening.  My plan is to work up two more pieces, ★ S I M P L E ★  and ★ S A C R E D ★.  Sacred, slow and simple. They've become my mantra I suppose you would say in recent years, reminders of how I want to live out the remaining days God has ordained for me. And while slow and simple have eluded me so far this summer, even in the midst of packing and moving I've still made it a point to allow for pockets of time to ease my pace and to seek out the beauty of life.

With the kitchen finally organized, I felt up to preparing a real meal for the first time earlier this week, and since I had everything on hand, I made up a big pot of Cincinnati Chili. It's one of our favorite meals, and so it seemed fitting as the inaugural choice for our new apartment.  Bill spent about three week in Cincinnati some years ago now for training.  I think he was with Dollar General at the time, and he came home raving about it!  Thankfully it didn't take a lot of effort to come up with a recipe for it (I use the one linked above.  Bill says it comes the closest to the real deal!).  I like to make up a big batch and then freeze some for easy meals on nights we I don't feel up to cooking.  If you've never tried Cincinnati Chili, I would encourage you to give it a try.  We like ours "3 Way", as they call it, with beans, cheese and onions, and we do eat ours over spaghetti as it is traditionally made, but some like it over Fritos or oyster crackers, as well.

Cross stitching, making special pieces for our home, and cooking traditional meals in our new space are little things that breathe life into the unsettled busy days of unpacking and moving in.  My plan right now is continue to take it a little easy through the weekend and savor the days of summer.  We had a pretty big thunderstorm yesterday and I actually opened up the windows and listened to it roll in.  It's funny the things you didn't even realize you missed living with no windows (for those who may not know, we lived in a basement apartment for two years).  It seems with the high humidity the chance for a shower is in the forecast almost every afternoon, but I'm not complaining.  Summer rain is a little thing that delights me!  As well as . . .

- Black and white buffalo check
- Cincinnati Chili

and

- Salt Box Houses!

Until then my friends, savor the days of summer!

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Through All The Varying Year: July

The seventh month was named Julius, by Marc Antony, in memory of Julius Caesar; before which time it had been called, Quintilis, as being the fifth from March, a name it retained under Numa after he made it the seventh month.  Our Saxon forefathers called it Mead-Month, from the richness of the meadows at this season.  From the 3rd of July to the 11th of August are accounted the "dog days", but the weather is not generally more sultry than later in the summer.  July is generally the hottest month of the year, although the sun shines upon us less and less every day, we feel the effects of the air and land having been so thoroughly warmed. Myriads of insects appear, and thunderstorms are frequent. July is not so rich in flowers as May and June, though it has many peculiar to itself such as the water lily and the wild thyme, scarlet poppies, blue bells, wild carrot and thistles. Salmon fishing goes on extensively in the north of England, and in Scotland, and mackerel and pilchards about off our coasts. Tadpoles turn into frogs, poultry loose their feathers, the ants give birth to new colonies, and bees begin to kill the drones. Wild fruits sun as winberries, cranberries and bilberries, ripen abundantly, and mushrooms appear in the pastures.  Potato fields are in full flower, and the beauty of the hop grounds is unrivaled, from the bright green of their foliage, and the graceful bunches of the pendant blossoms. 

- M. Jeafferson
Through All the Varying Year: A Calendar of Nature



Monday, July 1, 2019

A Journal of Delight and Discovery - .01


Well, good Monday morning to you, my dear friends!  It is so good to be back in this space again and I have so many things I want to share with you I don't know where to begin!  But first, I want to wish you a JOYFUL JULY!  Can you believe we are in the second half of the year???? It's funny because I remember back in January thinking that the days were dragging and now here we are in July and I know before I blink the holiday season will be upon us! The past three weeks have flown by, as we packed, moved and unpacked our belongings and began to make ourselves a new home!

We are about 90% moved into our new apartment and we are ♥︎'ing it already!  It is absolutely perfect and Bill even commented yesterday that of the many places we have lived over the years, this is by far one of his favorites!  Most of the major pieces of furniture are placed, and now I'm busy decorating and placing all of my treasured pieces, and coming up with ideas for some new additions!  That being said, most of them I will be making myself, either cross stitching, sewing or crocheting, which of course will take time, so lets just say the "full reveal" may be slow because the perfectionist in me doesn't want to share until I've got it just right!  But in the mean time, I'll be sharing some sneak peeks, like this picture on the left!  This is the view from the family room into our SUNNY dining room!  You can't really tell from this picture, but those windows are floor to ceiling and there are two of them! It makes for the most sunny, delightful space and we are really enjoying it! While we were so grateful for our little efficiency apartment, living in darkness with no windows for two years was beginning to take a toll.

Before the move I shared with you that I would be keeping a Journal of Delight and Discovery this summer! I did this several years ago and it was instrumental in my journey towards authenticity.  Discovering what truly brought me joy helped me to begin to live my life with more intention and from the core of my identity.  I discovered that many of my preferences and beliefs were not truly mine at all, but were opinions and mindsets that I had picked up along the way, most likely in an effort to please someone else. I was reminded of this shortly before the move, and while my original intent had been to begin back in June, once I realized that we would be moving during that time, I decided to postpone it a little and begin in July. I'm not sure right now exactly what the end date will be, as my original plan was for it to be a summer project and that still seems best.  I know that once Autumn hits, it's just a whirlwind to the end of the year! But I haven't decided whether to wrap it up at the end of August or carry it on until the equinox in September. So I think for now I'm just going to start and figure all of that out as we go!  It's pretty simple really, I'm just going to list 3-5 things each day that bring me joy and let the lists reveal! I know from having done this before that for the most part this will be pretty simple, but I also remember that some of the revelations that came from this little exercise were life changing. The main point is not to overthink it too much.  If it comes to mind and it brings me joy, I'm writing it down, however frivolous and silly it may seem!  So here goes!


- Cross Stitching is by far my favorite hobby and past time! I LOVE creating things for our home and
as gifts for others. The picture above shows the first stitches of my most recent project (I'll share more as I get further along). I'm basing it off another project that I completed about this time last year, which is also shown.

- The colors green, black, rust, coral and red.  My favorite colors have changed over the years. As a child and even into my late twenties my favorite color was blue. Now I would die if had anything blue in my house! Discovering that red was one of my favorite colors, and was my absolute favorite for several years, was one of the discoveries I made the last time I kept a journal. And the only reason I had never embraced it, was because my mother didn't like it! Oddly enough, her favorite color was green, which I detested simply because I wanted to be my own person and perhaps in rebellion towards her animosity for red. :) But you can thank Joanna Gaines for my new found love for green, especially when paired with black and rust. It's the thing these days, maybe even a trend, but for now it has has heart!

- Primitive Decorating, although I hate the name. Sounds like you live in a cave! I guess in the 80's they called it "Country", and I loved it even then. This is one thing that hasn't changed in over thirty years, my decorating style.  While the color palette has varied, if it's antiqued, old, vintage, chipped, distressed and cozy, you'll probably find it in my house. I've had some of these pieces since I married the first time at the tender age of nineteen, and they hold so many special memories. They are what makes any space we move to "home", and once they are in place, something it me is at rest.  But as I said earlier, since the "reveal" will come slowly, I'll share more about some of my "treasures" in another post.

So what about you?  What are three things that bring you joy and that authentically express you? What are your favorite hobbies, colors, style of decorating?  Do you even know, because I believe it's important that you do. So here's a little exercise to help you in case you really don't know. Pick a day this week and go to a bookstore, preferably a big-box chain with a large magazine section. Then make your way over to the home and garden section and pick out the first two or three magazine that catch your eye. What is is that you like about them, what do they have in common that captures your attention. If you don't want to buy them (because let's face it, magazines are expensive these days), maybe use your phone to take a couple of your favorite pages, or take a notebook and write down some notes about what you like and why. It may seem silly and frivolous, but I'm telling you, knowing little things like your favorite colors and why you like them can be the catalyst for bigger changes, so don't be embarrassed or afraid to start with these simple questions! It's a good starting point!

And now I must be off! I have a busy day ahead of me.We had to rent a storage facility and it's my goal to either sell or get rid of the contents by September so that we only have to pay for it for a few months because I hate paying to store stuff that we obviously don't need or don't want.  I'd much rather spend that $60 a month on things that delight me, you know?  But before I can sell it or throw it away, I have to know what's in it, and that means taking today to sort and organize. Yucky work, but I know I'll feel so much better once I have that task checked off of the list!

Until then my friends, if you don't hear from me for a few days, contact U-Haul Storage, I may be buried beneath the mountain of junk! :)

July


Monday, June 10, 2019

We're Moving, and I Need A Little Break!

Well friends, it's move out week! Which means I am going to be super busy boxing everything up, cleaning up, and moving out!  Our move in date is this Friday, June 14, and we couldn't be more excited!  The following week, of course we or to be honest, for the most part "I" will be unpacking, organizing and decorating my little heart out making the space into a home.

With that, I am not sure how often I will have time to post, so rather than be sporadic, I am just going to take the next two weeks off from this space, and hopefully be able to resume posting again around the 24th, but most likely I won't resume a regular schedule until the first of July.  There is a chance that things might turn around sooner, but I'm going to give myself some time and make room to breathe. I'm going to miss sharing with you during this time, but I'm also super excited because we will now have windows and light, and I might actually be able to take a decent picture! 

Once I'm back I'll share the final results of my Make it Mid-Summer Meal Challenge, which is going GREAT by the way! And I've decided to change the start date of my Journal of Delight and Discovery for July 1 - September 21, so if you've been looking for those or you want to participate with me in keeping a journal, check back in a few weeks!

Until then friends, savor the days of summer!

Kim

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Come To The Table!




"Sunday night suppers have a charm all of their own - a warm, informal intimacy that sets them apart from all the other meals of the week.  Six and half days of serious menu labors are out of the way. Now is the perfect time for a bit of frivolity.

The whole family can be included in the casual preparation of Sunday night suppers. Tie an apron on Pop.  Let Sis stir up a batch of cookies or a quick bead.  Invite a couple of guests or a whole roomful.  Everything is easier, simpler, more friendly in the relaxed pace of a quiet Sunday evening."

- from The Culinary Institute's Sunday Suppers Cookbook

Moving is, at least for me, a fresh start.  Everything is clean and bright and fresh. Rooms present like a blank canvas upon which to paint lovely scenes of home. As the flow of our days takes shape and we become familiar with our new space, daily routines and tasks may need to be adjusted. For instance, in our new apartment I'll have a dishwasher, a luxury I've been without for four years now. And, a nearby community dumpster will eliminate weekly trips to the city dump, for which we are most grateful!

As I've contemplated these changes, I've realized that one of the things we've become lax on is coming together for meals. With both Bill and Kate working retail jobs, this has become more of a challenge in recent months, and I'm afraid I haven't given it the attention it deserves.

Thinking ahead, and assuming things remain as they are, I considered that we are all home most Sunday afternoons, although Bill has to work one Sunday a month, Kate typically doesn't go in until later in the day. Bill is also home almost every evening, and while Kate's plans are a little unknown, I know that if I am intentional in setting aside a specific day, she will do her best to be there. With that, I'm thinking Sunday's and Wednesday's will be our primary days for gathering around the table together.  I'll be more intentional with the menu and presentation on these days. As there are only the three of us at home now, it isn't necessary for me to cook a different meal every night, as most meals feed us the next day, as well.  But Sunday and Wednesday's and possibly Friday's will become the days when I'll plan on serving up something special.

Families coming together to share meals is a tradition that has fallen out of fashion over the past decade, at least on a daily basis. When the children were younger we ate together almost every night. But as each one of our girls grew up and became involved in outside activities and outings with friends, it became less of a priority, primarily because it became difficult for me to keep up with all the conflicting schedules. But even then, I did make sure we managed to make it happen at least a couple of times a week, and it's high time we got back into the routine.

If you're like me, and planning family meals has become challenging, there are a number of books that speak to this and to the importance of gathering around the table, especially if your children are young.  But to be honest, I don't think it ever loses its importance, regardless of what stage of life you find yourself in. Here are a few of my favorites!

 - Come to the Table - The Kindle edition is just $1.99
by Doris Christopher, founder of The Pampered Chef

- Dinner: A Love Story
by Jenny Rosenstrach

- Dinner: The Playbook: A 30 Day Plan For Mastering The Art Of The Family Meal
by Jenny Rosenstrach

- How to Celebrate Anything:
Recipes and Rituals for Birthdays, Holidays, Family Dinners and Every Day In Between
by Jenny Rosenstrach

- The Family Dinner: Great Ways To Connect With Your Kids One Meal At A Time
by Laurie David

In closing, I want to share a poem I've had in my collection for several years now, by one of my favorite authors and poets, Grace Noll Crowell.  I hope that it will inspire you, as well!

The preparation of the evening meal
By any woman, anywhere, may be
A ceremony, beautiful to see,

Recalling clear, sweet evenings long ago
At Emmaus, or Bethany, when One
Beloved guest had come at set of sun.

And oh, that other quiet evening meal
Within an upper room - the grace He said
Above the scarlet wine, the broken bread!

An evening meal is such a gracious thing,
It matters not how plain may be the fare
So long as love and loyalty are there.

The supper hour - a magnet drawing home
The ones who have the need of food and rest!
All women know this hour of the day is best.

~ Grace Noll Crowell

I just love these sweet sentiments, and the recollection of the meals I shared with my family as a child.  It's time we got back to memory building once again!  What about you?

Until then, friends, gather around!

- Kim

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Tuesday, June 4, 2019

June Has Now Come


June has now come, bending beneath her weight of roses, to ornament the halls and bowers which summer has hung with green.  For this is the Month of Roses and their beauty and fragrance conjure up again many in poetical creation which memory had buried.  We think of Herrick's Sappho and how the roses were always white until they tried to rival her fair complexion, and blushing for shame because they were vanquished, have ever since remained red; of Shakespeare's Juliet, musing as she leant over the balcony in the moonlight, and thinking that a rose "by any other name would smell as sweet."  They carry us back to Chaucer's Emilie, whom we again see pacing the garden in the early morning, her hair blown backward, while as she gathers roses, carefully, she "thrusts the thorns her little hand."  We again see Milton's Eve in Eden, standing half-veiled in a cloud of fragrance - "so thick the blushing roses round about her blow."

CHARACTERISTICS OF JUNE

Though the summer solstice takes place on the 21st day, June is only the third month of the year in respect of temperature, being preceded in this respect by July and August.  The mornings, in the early part of the month especially, are liable to be even frosty, to the extensive damage of the buds of the fruit trees.  Nevertheless, June is the month of greatest summer beauty - the month during which the trees are in their best and freshest garniture. "The leafy month of June," Coleridge well calls it, the month when the flowers are at the richest in hue and profusion.  In English landscape, the conical busters of the chestnut buds, and the tassels of the laburnum and lilac, vie above with the variegated show of wild-flowers below.  Nature is now a pretty maiden of seventeen, she may show caterer charms afterwards, but she can never be again so gaily so freshly beautiful.  Dr. Aikin says justly that June is in reality, in this climate, what the poets only dream May to be.  The mean temperature of the air was given by an observer in Scotland as 59 degrees Fahrenheit, against 60 degrees for August and 61 degrees for July.

The sun, formula speaking, reaches the most northerly point in the zodiac, and enters the constellation of Cancer on the 21st of June; but for several days about that time there is no observable difference in his position, or his hours of rising and setting.  The length of the day is about 16 hours 15 minutes. at Edinburgh, the longest ay is about 17 1/2 hours.  At that season, in Scotland, there is a glow equal to dawn, in the north, through the whole of the brief night.  The present writer was able at Edinburgh to read the title-page of a book by the light of the northern sky, at midnight of the 14th of June 1849.  In Shetland, the light at midnight is like a good twilight, and the text of any ordinary book may be easily read.

KEY TO THE CALENDAR

11 - St. Barnabas the Apostle, a holiday of the Church of England.  In the old style, the 11th of June was the longest day; hence an ancient rhyme;

Barnaby Bright
The longest day and the shortest night.

15 - St. Vitus's Day - St. Vitus was a Sicilian martyr.  From him, though for what reason is doubtful, is named a well-know nervous affection of the limbs, proceeding from a disordered state of the visceral system.  It was a popular belief that rain on this ay indicated rain for thirty days thereafter.

24 - St. John's Day - the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, a holiday of the Church of England.  The Eve of St. John, variously called Midsummer Eve, was formerly a time of high observance amongst the English, as it still is in Catholic countries.  Bonfires were everywhere lighted, round which the people danced with joyful demonstrations, occasionally leaping through the flame.  A certain number of citizens formed a watch, which perambulated the streets all night.  It was also believed that on this eve, by fasting, waking, pulling certain herbs and going through certain ceremonies, it was possible to obtain an insight into futurity on some important points.  Fasting St. John's Fast was a great feat of young women a century or two ago.  There was a custom of holding vigil in the church porch, precisely the same as described under St. Mark's Day (April 25).

29 - St. Peter's Day, a high festival of the Romish Church, and a holiday of the Church of England.  It is celebrated at Rome with illuminations and magnificent ceremonials.

from All Round the Year, A Monthly Garland and Key To The Calendar
by Thomas Miller


Monday, June 3, 2019

Celebrate the Ordinary in June!

SPECIAL DAYS TO CELEBRATE THIS MONTH

June 6
National Drive In Movie Day
Unfortunately the closest drive in movie around our area is almost two hours away, so we won't be participating in this one. But, if you're lucky enough to have one of these vintage gems near you, this would be a fun activity to enjoy with the family this summer!

June 7
National Chocolate Ice Cream Day
Now here's a day I can get into, and my ice cream is even sugar free!  For my husband every day is ice cream day!  If you have an old fashioned ice cream maker, you might try your hand at coming up with you own recipe! It's also National Donut Day, so two for one!

June 10
National Iced Tea Day
I mentioned in my last entry that my husband loves ice cream, but for me it's iced tea!  I've had to cut way back or go sugar free in recent years, because, well, I just don't have the metabolism to support drinking it all-day-every-day anymore like I used to!  But occasionally I still enjoy a cold glass of sweet iced tea!

June 11
National Corn on the Cob Day
Corn on the cob has been a favorite since I was a little girl.  And to this day I love biting into a that sweet, savory goodness!  And have you ever had Mexican Grilled Corn on the Cob??  Oh my stars!  You should add this to your summer cookout rotation, it's amazing!

June 12
National Peanut Butter Cookie Day
Peanut Butter Cookies are definitely a favorite in our house, although we don't consume nearly as many as we once did.  But for an occasional treat, this is my favorite recipe. So easy!

June 14 
National Flag Day, National Strawberry Shortcake Day, National Flip Flop Day
There are so many celebrations from the end of spring into late summer that celebrate our patriotism, and today is so exception!  Today's the day to wave you flag high!  This time of year you can find them in all sizes, and even. few small ones tucked into potted plants adds a celebratory touch to your porch!

And what says summer in America better than strawberry shortcake? I really like this recipe, because anytime I hear "streusel", I'm sold!  If you scroll down you'll also see that there are links for Strawberry Shortcake Pancakes, and cheesecake, and donuts, so take your pick!

And who doesn't love a good pair of flip flops?  They are so handy for just quickly slipping on in a hurry, whether to water your flowers, head to the pool, and make a quick run to the store! And today at Old Navy, they are on sale for $1!  And there's no kick back here, they just happen to be my favorite!

June 16
Father's Day
Don't forget to celebrate dear old dad today! Maybe fire up the grill and make his favorite meal? I'm not really sure what our plans are this year as we will have moved into our new apartment just the day before! But I'm hoping we'll at least have things settled enough that we can take the day off and get on a trail somewhere!  Dad's are typically pretty easy when it comes to things like this, at least ours is!  But do take time to express your love and appreciation today, and every day!

June 20
National Ice Cream Soda Day
Confession, I am not a fan of ice cream soda!  But I many people, including my husband, who are and if you're among them, today is your day!  They do make a fun summer tradition, and an Ice Cream Soda Bar, complete with 2-3 different flavors of ice cream and sodas, along with some whipped cream, cherries and maybe even some sprinkles, mini M&M's or chocolate chips would top it off nicely! Kid's especially, would enjoy seeing who could come up with the craziest concoction! So if you're looking for a fun activity to host this summer, consider celebrating National Ice Cream Soda Day!

June 21
Summer Solstice
Today is the FIRST DAY OF SUMMER, and the longest day of the year, with more hours of sunlight that any other day on the calendar.  Celebrating the turning of the seasons are some of my favorite days of the year and this year will be no exception.  We should be pretty settled in our apartment by then, and I'm hoping to share a special meal on the patio, though I haven't even begun to think about what that might be and should probably have that figure out BEFORE we move!  I'll be posting more about that maybe later this week!

June 23
National Pecan Sandies Day
Pecan Sandies always remind me of my mom! They were one of her favorites.  It's not a cookie I've made much over the years, but if you like pecan sandies like my mom did, maybe give this recipe a try! Martha never gets it wrong!

June 29
National Waffle Iron Day
I'm not sure what happened to our waffle iron, I think it must have been lost or misplaced in one of our moves? But I've had this idea, using boxed cake mix, tucked away for several years now but have never tried it. I doubt if I will replace our waffle iron as we honestly seldom used it, but I'm wondering if you could do something similar with the batter and make pancakes instead?  At any rate, if you have a waffle iron this is a fun idea and would make a unique dessert!  If you try it, let me know how they turned out!

June 30
National Meteor Watch Day
It's interesting that this day is celebrated in June, as The American Meteor Society states that June is actually a pretty slow month for meteors, at least it is this year!  But observing the night sky is one of my favorite summer activities!  I'll be writing up a post soon about what to look for this summer, so if you're interested in that sort of thing, be sure to check back!

Until then friends, I pray you have a joy-filled June!


Sunday, June 2, 2019

Through All The Varying Year: June

June has been the 6th month of the year, since Numa reformed the Roman Calendar, but the reason of its name is uncertain. Our Saxon forefathers called it Weyd=Monat, or Meadow Month, and afterwards Sere-Monat, or dry month, it being the least variable month in the year. On the 21st is the Summer Solstice, when the sun appears to stand still. It is the longest day of the year with 16 hours, 34 minutes and 5 seconds between sunrise and sunset. The 5th is called St. Boniface Day, in memory of the “Apostle of the Germans,” a native of Devonshire, who went to preach the Gospel in Friesland and was appointed primate of Germany. He suffered martyrdom in 755 AA. D. The 11th of the Month is dedicated to St. Barnabus, “a son of consolation” and the companion of St. Paul, who was stoned to death in 73 A. D. The 15th is the day on which the Nile begins to rise. Mid-summer day, the 24th, is dedicated to John the Baptist. The 29th is dedicated to St. Peter, who was crucified under Nero, A. D. 65, on the same day on which St. Paul was beheaded.

June is a busy and joyous month in the country. Sheep shearing takes place if the weather is fine, grass and corn are in full flower, and haymaking begins in the end of June if possible, before the seeds of the grass are fully ripe. Towards the end of the month the birds are too much occupied in rearing their young to have leisure for singing. The cuckoo changes his note, and then ceases to repeat his call - hardly a note being heard in the woods, but a short song, evening and morning, from the lark and blackbird. Swallows may be seen daring about in search of insects for their young, and barn owls pounce upon the mice for the same purpose, grasshoppers, beetles, and flies become numerous and the anglers May-fly may be seen, over ponds and streams, any fine evening from the 6th to the 20th of June. The nests of wasps are at times plundered by anglers, who find their large to be excellent bait for fish. There is not much to do in gardens, where plants are mostly coming to maturity, beyond weeding and watering, training climbing plants and blossoms. Strawberries are ripe, gooseberries and currants are ripening, and new potatoes are brought to table.

- M Jeaffreson
 from Through All the Varying Year: A Calendar of Nature

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Make It To Mid-June Summer Meal Challenge - Update #1


Good afternoon, friends!  Whew!  It's been a hot and busy day here, as we lugged totes and boxes from the attic and sorted through what we are keeping and what is going to the yard sale that we are having this Saturday. Personally, I detest yard sales, but we decided to go ahead and try to turn some of this stuff into a little cash before the move, as well as lessen the load we have to move, so wish us luck!

I wanted to pop in with a little update on my meal challenge and let you know how things are coming along. So, if you saw my original post, then you saw my meal plan, but if not, I'm just going to re-post it here with my notes in green.

Monday
Breakfast - Eggs, Toast, Coffee - same as planned
Lunch - Bill - Salad, Kim & Kate - Macaroni and Cheese, Water - same as planned
Dinner - Steak Kabobs, Macoroni Salad, Water - same as planned

Tuesday
Breakfast - Bill - Eggs, Kim - Ham & Cheese Biscuit, Kate - typically doesn't eat breakfast, Coffee
- Kate actually ended up eating a Ham & Cheese Biscuit as well, which was fine since I'd made two.
Lunch - Bill - Salad, Kim & Kate - Macaroni and Cheese, Water - same as planned
Dinner - Jalapeño Poppers, Pinto Beans, Guacamole - on Tuesday I decided that rather than having leftovers on Wednesday that we would finish off the kabobs and leftover macaroni salad, so that was what we did.

Wednesday
Breakfast - Bill / Kim - Ham & Cheese Quiche, Coffee - this changed a little, Bill had cereal and I made Kate and I another Ham & Cheese Biscuit as I had all the ingredients on hand.
Lunch - Bill - Salad, Kim & Kate - Turkey Bacon Sandwich, Chips, Water - Bill did eat a salad, but Kate and I spent the day out running errands and had lunch at Chic Fil A.  That is actually a good thing as I now have the turkey and bacon to make sandwiches another day.
Dinner - Leftovers From Previous Two Days, Water - Since we had leftovers the night before, I made the Jalapeño Poppers, Pinto Beans and Guacamole for dinner last night.

And now, here's the plan for the rest of the week.

Thursday
Breakfast - Bill/ Kim - Scrambled Eggs, Bacon, Toast, Coffee
Lunch - Bill/Kim Veggies w/ Dip, Nuts, Cheese, Water - Kate was at work
Dinner - Bill/Kim - Leftover Jalapeño Poppers, Pinto Beans, Guacamole, Water, Kate - Ate Out

Friday
Breakfast - Bill/Kim - Egg in A Hole
Lunch - Bill - Salad, Kim/Kate - Turkey Bacon Sandwiches, Chips, Water
Dinner - Barbacoa Beef Bowls w/ Rice, Pico De Gallo, Cheese, and Avocados OR
Chicken, Bacon, Jalapeño Pizza with Alfredo Sauce. - I can't decide! :)

Saturday
Breakfast - Yard Sale Day, so probably yogurt!
Lunch - Bill - Salad, Kim/Kate - Chicken Salad Croissants, Pasta Salad, Water
Dinner - Pulled Pork Barbecue Sandwiches (I'm going to cook them in the crock pot), Baked Beans, Potato Salad

Sunday
Breakfast - We serve at our church, and they serve breakfast to the servers.  Such a blessing!
Lunch - Food Trucks - Our church is having food trucks after the service today, so we'll eat there.
Dinner - Leftover Pulled Pork Barbecue Sandwiches, Baked Beans, Potato Salad

So there you have it, this takes us through Monday, and then I'll share a new update with the menu plan for Monday-Wednesday of next week!  For now, I'm bushed! I think I'll read for a bit and hit the sack a little early tonight.

Until then, friends!

Kim

Monday, May 27, 2019

Make It Mid June Summer Meal Challenge - The First Three Days


Good afternoon, friends!  Happy Memorial Day!

I shared some news earlier today on my Facebook page, but for those of you who don't follow me there, and you totally should, I made the announcement that we are . . . MOVING!  Not out of state, just into the next city, but we are SOOOO excited! We've been living in a one room efficiency apartment since last October, that is , the three of us, me, my husband and our twenty year old daughter. And while it worked out better than any of us originally thought it would, it is definitely time for a change! Anyway, I won't spend a lot of time talking about that today, because I'm sure I'll be sharing more over the next few weeks as our move in date gets closer, we move in June 14!

With that in mind, however, I've decided to challenge myself to empty out our freezer, refrigerator and pantry as much as possible between now and then, which means, making meals as much as possible with what we already have on hand. I am sure we will be fine for dinner, but I'm a little less sure about ideas for breakfast and lunch. I'm not concerned about myself, since I never eat much for lunch. But with Bill and Kate both working, they will need meals, and breakfast is another area that has me wondering if I can pull this off. But, I'm determined to give it my best shot! Of course there will still be things like milk, bread, eggs, and the like that we will have to replace a few times, but as far as meat and most other ingredients, I'm going to to see if I can make it for three weeks on what we have.

I should probably sit down and make up a menu, and you know, if I were more organized at the moment, that might be a good idea. But did I mention we're moving?  Yes, so that means things are going to be a little busy and a bit disorganized for the new several weeks. I have to keep things simple, so today I only planned for three days, and here's what I've come up with so far.

Monday 
Breakfast - Eggs, Toast, Coffee
Lunch - Bill  - Salad, Kim & Kate - Macaroni and Cheese, Water
Dinner - Steak Kabobs, Macoroni Salad, Water

Tuesday
Breakfast - Bill - Eggs, Kim - Ham & Cheese Biscuit, Kate - typically doesn't eat breakfast, Coffee
Lunch - Bill - Salad, Kim & Kate - Macaroni and Cheese, Water
Dinner - Jalapeño Poppers, Pinto Beans, Guacamole

Wednesday
Breakfast - Bill / Kim - Ham & Cheese Quiche, Coffee
Lunch - Bill - Salad, Kim & Kate - Turkey Bacon Sandwich, Chips, Water
Dinner  - Leftovers From Previous Two Days, Water

I have everything I needed for the meals for the first three days, and was happy to use up two half filled boxes of macaroni noodles! They were two different sizes, but who cares, it keeps things interesting, I guess. Since there are only three of us, I cooked it all up, divided it in half and made macaroni salad with one part and macaroni and cheese with the other.  That's the macaroni salad you see in the picture above with the macaroni and cheese at the top.  I used this recipe for the macaroni salad and it turned out really good. I didn't have pimentos though, and since it was optional, I just diced up some tomatoes and used it for a bit of color. As for the macaroni and cheese, that is a recipe that I've been making for years and actually found in a Strawberry Shortcake cookbook that Kate had when she was little. It's our absolute favorite. I haven't used the actual measurements in years and the cookbook is long gone.  Maybe if I come across one in a thrift store some day, I'll take a picture of the recipe and post it. I use pepper jack cheese in ours to give it a little kick.  It is so good!

Putting these meals together has really inspired me with some ideas for the upcoming days! After this, I'll have sixteen more days to go! My plan is to take an inventory of everything I have in the freezer and pantry and make a preliminary plan. My objective is to not only save us money by not buying more food, but also to have less to pack and move!  I'd like to start out in our new home with a fresh bill of groceries and some new ideas on the menu plan for the rest of the summer.

And with that, I need to get the kabobs on the grill friends!  I'll be checking back in and updating you on the other meals I plan and keep a running total of things if I have to purchase ingredients to round things out, but I'm hoping to keep that to a minimum. Just like today when I substituted tomatoes for pimentos, if an ingredient isn't essential or I can substitute it with something else, I'll do that before I go out and buy anything.

Until then, friends, wish me luck!

Kim

Friday, May 24, 2019

The Habit of Happiness


So to begin, my apologies.  No, I am not still "in the mountains", although honestly, as I live in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, you might say I'm ALWAYS there!  Anyway, I had planned to get right back to posting on Monday, but guess what happens when you go camping for three days?  You come home with a lot of stuff to unpack and put back in place, and a TON of laundry. How does that always happen? But just so you'll know, that's the reason for my absence the past few days. I've been a little pre-occupied!

That being said, I wouldn't trade it for the wonderful experience we had at Trail Days.  There is just
nothing like the AT Community.  Such laid back, fun-loving people! I didn't even mind there wild drum dances around the bonfire at night. We didn't participate, just not our thing, but I actually kind of enjoyed being lulled to sleep by the rhythm of the drums. And let me just tell you, if there's are drums, dancing and bonfires in celebration of Jesus' return, you can count me in!

I will admit though, that coming home and settling back into the routine and the "dailiness" of life was a little hard and left me feeling a little down.  I've had a lot on my mind recently, which has left me a bit restless. Which is why I was so thankful to get away for a few days to have the fun of the festival to distract me. But come Monday, and along with all the loads of laundry, I picked up a heavy load of doubt and worry, and topped it off with a big dose of discontent with "life as usual".

But then I was reminded of an article I read back in January, once again from Sarah Ban Breathnach's book, Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy.  I can't even tell you how often I personally reference this book, or how-many-times it has provided the balm for the aches of my soul, and this day was no different.

In the passage I'm referencing, The Underrated Duty, she encourages us with these words;


Picture taken behind the Old Mill in Damascus. I didn't take many pictures this trip,
to be honest, I was too busy having fun!

"Perhaps you think you'll be happy when you get a bigger kitchen, or a new job, or the perfect someone with whom to share your life. But don't you want to start making happiness a habit right now? Every morning when we wake up we've been given a wonderful gift - another-day-of-life - so let's make the most of it. Let's adopt a new state of mind about happiness, and stop thinking that things outside of our control will bring us happiness."

When I read those words I was immediately convicted, as only a few minutes before I was definitely wallowing in a big case of the "if only's".  You know what I mean? "If only we had more of _______", or "less of _____________".  If only I was ______________". I was full and deep into that mindset, wishing I was still back at camp, basking in the fullness of the sun, without a care in the world. But instead, there I was, two loads into five loads of laundry and swishing a dirty toilet.  Then I read this, and I was reminded that's it's all part of the same life, and each element depends upon the other. Without clean clothes and the right gear, we couldn't even plan for special times away. Which naturally means things must be washed, gear must be retrieved from and placed back in storage, and yes, that makes a mess coming and going. And while packing for a trip is always fun, unpacking can be just as enjoyable if I change my perspective. It may not be "fun" to put clothes and gear away, but I'm grateful that we have these things and that it all has a place. It makes it so much easier when our next adventure rolls around, to know it ready and waiting. I'm thankful to have clothes on my back, and to know that my family is covered. We actually have more than we need, and when I consider that I realize how ungrateful I am at times. I have a family to clean, cook and do laundry for, and that is a blessing not afforded to all.

Reading this passage reminded me of my previous post, naturally as they were inspired by the same book. But where before we looked at discovering what makes us happy, in this passage we view happiness as "habit". Susan even references it as a "living emotion". And while knowing what makes you happy is important, you can just as easily grow discontent when you experience things that don't make you happy. One of the things that makes me happy is a clean house, but I can tell you that there are a number of tasks involved in that process that make me anything but, and it is in those cases that the habit of happiness, of being content in the process, plays an important role.

I also want to take a few minutes here to clarify a few things. While I love Sarah's writings and am
often encouraged by them, as a Christian I also realize that God is often less concerned with my happiness and more attentive to my character. And while "the pursuit of happiness" may be guaranteed by the Constitution, I am fully aware that God often uses circumstances that would be deemed as less than ideal to shape and mold us. And this is where I personally believe the "habit of happiness" can fully come into play. I may not be living my dream life right now, but that doesn't mean that there is no beauty or happiness to be found in the here and now. Regardless of my current circumstances, happiness is here for the taking!  It can be found in a cool breeze on a hot summer day. In the birdsong in the early morning, and in the hues of the sunset at the end of the day. This is the "living emotion" of happiness. So there are things in life I may wish I could change. Even if I don't see the fulfillment of that today, there is always one small step that I can take, right here, right now, that will move me closer to reaching that goal. And of course there are things I can't change, like  the shape of my toes (I'm being completely honest here!). So I can either sit around and wish they looked different, pay for plastic surgery (no way), or instead, I can decide to be grateful and happy about the fact that I have feet and I am able to walk, that, or maybe focus on a physical feature that I do like.  It's all in the mindset I choose to take!

Basically it all boils down to this  I can choose to be happy and make happiness a habit. Or not. And while that may sound simple enough, I know that for a chronically worried pessimist like me, it will take intention and effort. With that, I have another idea for an element I am considering for my Journal of Delight and Discovery that I mentioned in my previous post.  It's nothing groundbreaking, and like the journal itself, it's something I've done in the past that made  a big change in my life. I'll share more with you about that in a few days, but for now, guess what's on my agenda again today?  You guessed it, LAUNDRY! Only today, I'm going to do it and be happy about it!

Until then my friends, I choose happy!  How about you?

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Thursday, May 16, 2019

The Mountains Are Calling!

My husband and I are taking a few days of much needed 
rest this weekend and attending Trail Days in Damascus, Virginia!

I'll be back on Monday!

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

A Journal of Delight and Discovery - Tools for Living An Authentic Life

In her book, Simple Abundance, author Sarah Ban Breathnach proposes for consideration, that "most women know what makes our parents, partners, or children happy.  But when it comes to an awareness about the little, specific things in life that bring a smile to our face and contentment to our hearts, we often come up short."

I've been reading Simple Abundance annually nearing twenty years now.  With each reading, as I put most of Susan's practices into place, I learned to trust her guidance and began making notes of other books she would recommend.  In the same passage mentioned above, she references a book, A Life of One's Own, written by *Joanna Field (Marion Milner).

Written and published in 1945, the journal was the result of a time in the author's life when she felt her life lacked authenticity, and that she had grown out of touch with the things that made her happy.  She shares,

"It was written in the spirit of a detective who searches through the minutia of the mundane in hopes of finding clues for what was missing in her life."  To counter this, she began noting the things that triggered a feeling of joy and delight in her daily life. And in that effort, she discovered that she delighted in red shoes, good food, golden bursts of sunset, reading in French, answering letters, loitering in a crowd at a fair and, "a new idea when first it is grasped."

In referencing Field's works, Breathnach suggest that "what is missing from many of our days is a true sense that we are enjoying the lives we are living.  It is difficult to experience moments of happiness if we are not aware of what it is we genuinely love. We must learn to savor, small, authentic moments that bring us contentment."

Though I would say that "savoring the small" has been a natural inclination of mine for most of my life, the draw and influence of social media has made that more of a challenge in my adult life. Which is why I so appreciate being reminded again to touch base with my inner self from time to time and insure that I am living and moving from a place of authenticity.

One year, inspired by Fields, I kept a journal of "Delight and Discovery", in which I noted the things throughout the day that brought me joy. And while that original journal was kept in a simple spiral notebook and is clearly nothing to look at, I enjoy looking back and reflecting upon the similarities and differences in my preferences, both then and now.

Back then I listed, "The sweet sound of Kate's voice when she pleads for "one more story" (she was just four years old when I kept my original journal), and "the smell of cinnamon, cloves and apples simmering on the stove", which was around the time I first discovered simmer pots, which have now given way to wax melts and essential oils. But there are things that remain the same, as well.

- the sound of rain as I fall asleep.
- the smell of a freshly cut grass on a warm summer day.
- Peonies, marigolds and chrysanthemums.
- The smell of cookies baking in the oven (although these days that is not nearly as often)
- The feel of a warm, gentle breeze though an open window.

Of course these things may delight others, as well, but they each speak truly to who I am at the center of my soul, and knowing that grounds me. Having kept that journal for a year, the final list of things is quite long. Looking back I don't know that it would need to be a year long project. If I did it over again, rather than trying to come up with something different every day, I might allow for repetition. In this way, specific things would be revealed that could be incorporated into my days with more frequency.

As you might have guessed, I'm considering keeping such a journal again! As I had already purposed to find pockets of slow in my days over the summer, I think a fresh take might be in order, and I'd LOVE for you to join me! My plan at the moment is to begin on June 1 and end on August 31. I haven't decided yet if I will make daily entries, or just jot things down as they occur, though I do have concerns about consistency and falling out of habit. I will most likely try for at least one entry per day. Some days will naturally have more and others may spark nothing, and that is all good and well. I also don't know if I will share my discoveries along the way, or wait until the end after I've had time to reflect upon it and them share my findings in early September. But, I'm fine with not having all the nuts and bolts sorted for the time being. The most important thing is to remember to be mindful and to document my findings. If I think about it to much, things become complicated and I'm less prone to want to do it at all.

So again, if this sparks your interest, then I encourage you to buy a journal, or dig up a simple spiral notebook you already have on hand. Again, don't overcomplicate things! Then, beginning on June 1 (or now, if you'd rather), begin noting the things that bring you joy and embark on a journey of self-discovery! I remember the last time I did this it was very eye-opening and I learned so much about myself. I can't wait to do it again!

Until then, my friends, savor the small!

*Joanna Fields is the pseudonym of Marion Milner

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