Monday, May 18, 2020

Yes, I'm Still Here!

Good Monday morning, friends! I only have a minute, which seems to be the case a lot lately, but I wanted to pop in to let you know that I'm still here and all is well.  The progress on our van conversion has really picked up due to all the down time we've had as a result of Covid 19, and that has taken a lot of my time. When I'm not holding boards, sanding, filling holes, etc. I'm usually worn out and parked on the couch creating beautiful things, like that little beauty in the image above, to use to decorate it. I thought I had more time, and now I feel like I'm scrambling to make sure everything is ready when the van is, which will be sooner than later.

That being said, I still love this little space and long for the days when I'll have more time to devote to it. I do hope us to get the summer day keeper out before Memorial Day, no promises, but it is important to me so hopefully I can make that happen.

Until then I hope you all are doing well! I'll be back just as soon as I can.

Friday, April 24, 2020

The Bee - Volume 1, Issue 5

Good Friday, my friends! I've come across a few things over the past week that I want to share in this edition of THE BEE, so I hope you'll enjoy them!

Elizabeth Klett has released a **FREE** audio recording of this timeless classic! If you've never read it, or listened to it, I highly suggest it, and how can you resist free?

And while these paper dolls cost a little bit, they are reasonably priced and would be wonderful for if you have children who will be listening and following along.

Also, while not my favorite adaptation, Anne of Green Gables starring Ella Ballentine is available right now on Prime (if you have it).

If you have Netflix, you might check out Anne with an E, though I will warn you that if you are an Anne purist, this adaptation might rock your boat a little. Personally, I don't mind the liberties taken, and the vote seems pretty evenly divided among my friends on the popularity.

And finally, if you would prefer to read the book rather than listening to it or watching a movie, it's available to read for free at the archives.

I may be a kid at heart, but there are just some things I don't think I'll ever out grow.  I absolutely loved pouring over the I Spy books with my girls when they were little. Those were actually some of the most well worn books we owned! But even if you don't have the books, you can find a number of free printable I Spy puzzles that will keep your littles, and maybe yourself, busy for hours! Just click the title above to take you to the link!

If you're not familiar with Brambly Hedge, then I can't encourage you enough to become acquainted with it.  There are a number of books written by author Jill Barklem, but among my favorites are the seasonal series. You can find Brambly Hedge Spring free at the archives, and it would be a lovely place to start.

There was also a BBC series some time back, and several of the videos are available on You Tube. Here's what looks to be a nice upload of Spring Story. I hope you'll enjoy it!

And now I must be about my day! I hope you've found something here that interests you! I'll be back next week and hope to meet up with then!

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

From Grandma's Kitchen - Simple Scalloped Potatoes

I don't know about your family, but recently we've been using primarily what we have on hand to put together our meals, which can sometimes result in some interesting combinations. Last night however was an exception as I found a package of chicken thighs in the freezer and roasted them and served a can of English Peas and these wonderfully simple scalloped potatoes.

I've been using this recipe for years and it's never failed me!  The nice thing is that you probably have most of the ingredients on hand!

4 - 5 thinly sliced potatoes (Yukon Gold or Russet)
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1 teaspoon salt
1 dash cayenne pepper
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 1.5 quart baking dish.

In a small sauce pan, melt butter and stir in flour.

Whisk in the milk and season with salt and cayenne.

Cook sauce on low until it boils and thickens, stirring occasionally.

Reduce heat and stir in 1 cup of the cheddar cheese.

Place a half of the sliced potatoes in the baking dish. Pour half of cheese sauce over potatoes. Repeat with second layer of potatoes and cheese sauce.

Top with some paprika for color.

Cover and bake for 1 hour at 350°F. Uncover and bake for additional 30 minutes or until fork tender.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

30 Days Of Gratitude Challenge - Beginning May 1

I mentioned yesterday that one of the things I am grateful for is cross-stitching, and I did a little more of that last night while my daughter and I watched Frozen ll,which I was pleasantly surprised to discover, I liked! I'm always skeptical about sequels as they've often let me down. Maybe it helped that I remember next to nothing about the original, but all in all, the sequel was pretty good. Anyway, my plan is to turn this little beauty (it's smaller than it looks), into a magnet to go on our tiny little refrigerator in the van.

But that's not really my reason for posting today. This morning I wanted to follow up from my previous post . I had mentioned  that I was creating some tools to aide me in my quest to focus more on gratitude, and I finished the first one yesterday afternoon. Here'a a little peak, and if you like, you can download a **FREE** copy for yourself by following the link at the bottom of this post.

I did some research on Pinterest and perused a few gratitude challenges that others had created, borrowing a few ideas from them and adding my own to come up with 30 days of different things to be grateful for. Based upon my research, what many others have listed are essentially their favorite things and why they are grateful for them, so that's what you'll find here, as well.

While I'm already listing 3 things each day that I am grateful for, beginning May 1, I am going to follow the prompts listed in this challenge. And yes, I realize that there are 31 days in May, but hopefully by then this will have become such an engrained habit I can just take it from there. I'll be blogging about some of them, here, so if you're interested in that or if you want to join me, then be sure to check back! I'm also working on a 52 Week Gratitude Challenge with topics to focus on every week of the year and I hope to have it up by the end of the week. So if focusing one thing a week rather than something new every day sounds more your speed, keep an eye out for it!

Until then friends, be grateful for the day!

Monday, April 20, 2020

The Power of Gratitude

"Your first thought every morning should be, "Thank you!". 
- Unknown

Good afternoon, friends! I pray that this post finds you rested and at peace. As I was typing that first sentence I was going to say "I pray that you had a restful and weekend and that today finds you at peace", but then it occurred to me that for so many of us "weekends" don't really exist in the sense that that they did prior to Covid 19. I don't know about you, but most days I don't even know what day of the week it is! Anyone else? So whether you know if it's Monday or not and you're as confused as I am, that pray that this Monday finds you blessed none the less.

And speaking of Monday,  if you read my last post then you'll know that today is the day I want to talk about GRATITUDE! As I've been a little anxious and whiny lately I thought that among the weapons I have at my disposal for fighting this battle, focusing on the gifts that are already mine would be a good place to begin, and it's powerful!

My first experience with harnessing the power of gratitude came when I read the book One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are by Ann Voskamp. If you are not familiar with this book, I highly recommend it. Just like the title, Ann challenged herself to document 1000 things she was grateful for, and was amazed at the transformative power that gratitude made in her life, and it has the potential to do the same for anyone!

In fact here are some of the benefits that gratitude can make in your life.

  • Improves you well being by 10% which is the same impact a doubling your income.
  • It's been proven that writing in a gratitude journal induces the relaxation response, resulting in improved mood, relaxed muscles and lowers blood pressure and your heart rate.
  • Gratitude improves your resiliency to stress and makes you more likely to offer support to others.
  • It likewise improves relationships, and increases your sleep quality and duration. 
  • But of all the things that gratitude can and will do is improving your immune system. Studies have shown that gratitude increases optimism which enhances the cell mediated immune system and aides your body in fighting off viruses and bacteria.
I don't know about you, but just reading that list makes me grateful for all the positive things that gratitude can produce in our lives! And I know from experience that this works!

Back a few years ago when I was going through a pretty rough time, I revisited One Thousand Gifts, and began keeping a gratitude journal. Like Ann, I was literally amazed at how quickly my perspective about my life began to change! It was a very difficult time, but rather than on focusing on what I did't have, I began looking for things to be grateful for. I had left everything I loved behind and moved back to a place I had sworn I would never return to, and yet within just a few days I began to notice a change in my attitude. And even more amazing, within just a few weeks I actually began to love things about my life that I had previously grumbled and complained about. It not only changed my perspective, it changed me, making me a much happier person to be around! It was such a positive experience to be honest I don't know why I got out of the habit, but it wouldn't be first time that something has worked well for me and then once things get better I kind of forget about it. I do the same thing when I am taking medication to physical ailments. I'll be really good at making sure I take the recommended dosage for the first couple of days, but then once I start to feel better, it's hard for me to remember. I've landed myself right back where I started for not following through so-many-times!

And so my friends, if you're someone, who like me, could do with a boost in gratitude, and perhaps struggles to remember to keep doing what works!, I'm currently working on some free printable tools to help myself in that effort, and I'll be sure to share them with you as soon as they are ready! In the mean time, I also want to encourage you not wait for something pretty to print to begin taking notice of all that you have to be grateful for and documenting it! I've already begun, and challenged myself to list three things each morning that I am grateful for, and here's my first installment.

- For cross-stitching. It is hands down my favorite hobby and I spent all of yesterday working on the piece you see on the right in the picture above. It brings me such joy and I am so grateful for such a lovely way to pass the time! I've been doing it for years now, and in fact the finished piece you see on the left is one I made up a couple of years ago.

- For slow, soft spring rang. I awoke to the loveliest soft rain this morning, and it's been steadily falling most of the day. Aside from a good thunderstorm now and then, it's probably my favorite kind of rainy day!

- For a truly remarkable and beautiful spring! I don't know if it's because of the times we are currently living in, the changes in the environment that have occurred, or if nature is just showing off this year, but this spring has been one for the records!

So there it is!  I'm off to changing my view of the world through the lens of gratitude! Care to join me?

Saturday, April 18, 2020

If I'm Being Honest . . . .

Today I am going to step away from "The Bee", come from behind the scenes and share my heart with you. Because I don't know, but I'm pretty sure I'm not alone in this, and I think there might be a few others of you out there, who like me, are struggling through this pandemic. And as such, I want to be honest about how I've been feeling.

The odd thing is, I didn't expect to struggle. Being an introvert and a highly sensitive person with social anxiety you would think that being ordered to stay home and six feet away from others would be pure bliss. And it's true, I didn't really mind the stay at home order, because it didn't look much different from my life prior to the pandemic. But what I didn't anticipate was the disruption of my daily routine and the extent to which having almost no time alone would negatively affect me.

Now before I proceed, please don't think for a moment that I don't love my family, because nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, there are few things I enjoy more than all of us being together. The problem for me is that I am an introvert. If you're familiar with the Myers-Briggs temperments or the Enneagram scales, I am an INFJ and an Enneagram 5w4, which essentially means that I not only enjoy time alone, I NEED time alone, which of late has been difficult to near impossible to find.

I'm also a morning person, and prior to the pandemic, I was typically up, dressed and had most of my household duties completed by 9 a.m. or 10 at the latest, which then left me the rest of the day, typically until around 1 p.m. and sometimes as late as 3, to myself, as both my husband and my daughter worked outside of the home. But obviously, with our decision to self-isolate and the order to stay at home, all of that changed. Now most days I don't even get started until 10 and as my energy level tends to begin to wane after 2:00 or so, if things aren't done before that time, they often carry over to the next day, which has left me feeling completely overwhelmed. It's frustrating really, because I had just established a morning and evening routine that was working well for me, only to have the entire thing come unraveled.

Thankfully, thus far, none of us have exhibited any of symptoms of the virus (although both my daughter and I are getting slammed with seasonal allergies this year), but what I am beginning to realize is that we have not been unaffected. The emotional impact of this pandemic is evident. These are simply put, trying times.

It all really came to a head for me this week, and I had a bit of teary, emotional break down on Monday, and then found myself feeling near to another one yesterday afternoon. To be honest, it's a little embarrassing, and I feel a bit whiny, but at the same time I know myself pretty well, and as such I realize it's important that I take note of these cues and  be a bit more pro-active in assuring that I don't push myself past the point of no return, whatever that is! :)

As attuned as I am to my needs, I am not very good at voicing them, which is completely the opposite for my husband and daughter, who have very strong personalities and are less introverted than I. Again, I'm not slamming my family here. I only wish I was as good at navigating life as they are! Not that they haven't both had their own struggles as a result of this pandemic. It wouldn't even be fair to say that they are struggling less, but I think the best way to describe our differences  would be to say that they put out little fires day to day, and I am just the opposite.  A little kindling is added here, a little more there, and usually before I realize it that little flame, that passing smoke signal, has now errupted into a full on blaze. My mother once compared me to a tea-pot, just simmering away day to day, until the day when the water begins to boil and kettle sings! It's funny when you think of it in those terms. But in reality, being the kettle, it loses its humor. Any other kettles out there? Sing along!

And so, what does all this whining boil down to? Well, for me, it means I need a plan, which begins with accepting myself as I am and stop wishing I was more like my husband/daughter. After 58 years of living in this body I know that all the wishing in the world won't change a thing, and to be honest, some things don't need to change. There are a lot of positive elements of my personality type and make up, as well, and I need to focus on them.

Another thing I need to learn is to speak up for myself and be honest about my needs. I'm not very good at saying no to the ones I love, at least, not appropriately. Remember that kettle? When I reach my boiling point, that's when I finally speak up for myself, when the truth is if I would just learn to be more attuned to my needs day-to-day, I could probably simmer along beautifully for a long time to come and never reach a boil. When I had my little melt down on Monday I mentioned that I don't like disappointing people, and that often when I say no I can see or hear the disappointment in their faces and so I give in when I shouldn't, or perhaps, too often. I've also been in relationships earlier in my life when speaking up for myself or saying no was met with anger, and so I've been fashioned into a bit of a resentful pleaser, I guess you'd say, and I certainly don't want that.

And so, if you've endured my whining thus far, you get a gold star! But all that being said, I've decided that this weekend in true INFJ/Enneagram 5 fashion, to come up with a plan, and I'm sure that my thoughts and ideas will then spill over into my posts. I've actually already begun, and I've decided to begin with gratitude, because I know from past experience that gratitude has the capacity to change your life, and we could all do with a bit of that right now, don't you think? I also enrolled in a 21 day beginner's yoga course, and I'm hoping to start that on Monday. One of the struggles I've had is that my daughter is a social butterfly and as such, I am her social side kick right now, which is fine. BUT, she's also a night owl. So, I've been keeping some pretty late hours, which means I'm sleeping later and sacrificing my typical early mornings, which previously was a time when I was able to be alone and start my day slowly. So that's an area where I'll need to speak to my needs and try to come up with a balanced plan, because I also realize that this isn't all about me! If I tip the scale too far to meet my needs, then my daughter will suffer, and we're all in this together!

Anyway, as I am really rambling/whining here, I hope to be back on Monday with a post on gratitude and my plan for incorporating more of it into my day. And maybe I'll let you know how my first yoga lesson went and how successful I was at getting up off the floor! :) I'm not sure how, but I do hope in some way that this this post has blessed you, and if nothing else, has assured you that you are not alone in your struggle!

Until then,

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

The Bee - Volume 1, Issue 4

Good afternoon, friends! I am sorry that I am late in posting this edition of The Bee, but we awoke this morning to discover that it had snowed in the mountains overnight, and since we've had so little snow this year (none, actually), we got dressed and left right after breakfast and didn't return until just around noon. So I hope you'll understand!

Isn't this chalkboard graphic cute? I have it saved to one of my Pinterest boards, and I thought in light of many of us being at home with our children, perhaps you might use it to inspire you to look for occasions to praise the ones you love, or maybe you need a little of that encouragement yourself!

"Every spring is the only spring 
- a perpetual astonishment." 

 - Ellis Peters

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If you're looking for a quick, simple craft, this cute little alphabet of banners is available for free!  Perhaps you could even combine the two, taking inspiration from the chalkboard graphic above, and printing out the letters to spell "Love Each Other", or "Laugh A Lot"! I'm thinking of printing of the letters to spell "HOME" and displaying it somewhere. They are just too cute to resist, and FREE! If you don't like this style, there is this one, as well!

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10 Ways To Create a Home of Warmth and Grace
And speaking of home, and encouraging those we love during this time, here's a wonderful post from The Better Mom where she discusses 10 Ways To Create a Home of Warmth and Grace.

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Susan Branch
Susan Branch is and has been one of my all time favorite authors and illustrators for years now. I own so many of her books and I couldn't pick a favorite from the bunch. They are each simply delightful!  This quote is also a favorite, so combined with the fact that Susan dolled it up with her whimsy touch makes it all the more endearing. If you've never visited her blog, it is equally as charming. Just click here. Can I also say that I love that she refers to to the pandemic as the "Dam Panic". I think I'll adopt it!

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Self Care
And while we're talking about caring for our families and make our homes a warm, peaceful retreat during these trying times, remember, you can't fill from an empty pitcher! Taking care of yourself is not only not selfish, Jesus modeled it Himself in scripture! But if you just can't get past those "selfish" feelings, here's a list of things that only takes 5 minutes to do! Surely taking 5 minutes from your day for a little self care, is FAR from selfish!

- Brush out your hair.
- Make yourself a warm drink (or a cold one, if you prefer!)
- Light a candle.
- Listen to an upbeat song.
- Give yourself a foot massage.
- Step outside in the fresh air.
- Text a friend and check in.
- Engage in 5 minutes of focused breathing.
- Write down 10 things you are grateful for!
- Dance like crazy (you can sweep or vacuum at the same time!)
- Smile!

Monday, April 13, 2020

The Bee - Small Things, Gathered - Volume 1, Issue 3

Good morning, friends! I pray you all had a blessed and beautiful Easter weekend. In spite of how very different this season is, I truly enjoyed the quiet simplicity of our celebration. My husband and I rose early and ventured to a nearby park where earlier in the week we had spotted a garden and found it the perfect spot for a small, personal service of our own, and it was so lovely. He watched an online service later in the morning, which I had planned to do, as well, but I found our time together so filling that I opted instead to hold it in my mind, and reflecting upon our reading and the beauty that had surrounded us carried me through the day.

Our dinner, likewise, was simple, using things we already had. I made up some fried cabbage, potato salad, deviled eggs, and cooked a peppercorn pork loin that I had picked up on sale shortly before we went into quarantine. What I didn't realize is that unlike other pork loins I've purchased in the past, this one you cooked in the bag. Neither my husband or I particularly cared for it, and for me it was mainly due to the texture. Sadly, as we have quite a bit of it left over, I'm faced with the dilemma of how to improve upon its flavor and texture. My husband seems to think that our grocer stands behind their store brands and saved the packaging and will try to secure a refund once all of this mess is over, so we shall see. In the mean time, I'll keep you posted on my success with improving it!

And now, here are today's offerings of sweetness, gathered from across the internet.

"The sun was warm but the wind was chill.
You know how it is with an April day.
When the sun is out and the wind is still,
You're one month on in the middle of May.
But if you so much as dare to speak,
a cloud come over the sunlit arch,
And wind comes off a frozen peak,
And you're two months back in the middle of March."
- Robert Frost
Two Tramps in Mud Time

My husband and I passed by several lilac bushes on one of our walks last week, and as always, I was simply captivated by their sweet aroma! But did you know that you can make Lilac Jelly? I certainly didn't! Unfortunately I don't think our neighbors would be fond of my picking blooms from their bushes, so maybe another time. But if you happen to have some growing in your own yard, maybe give this recipe a try.

Throughout history, women have turned to making things with their hands as a way of keeping busy and being productive during times of crisis. This is a wonderful article on that subject, with links to tutorials that you can follow should you decide to take up a craft yourself.

"The April rain, the April rain,
Comes slanting down in fitful showers,
Then from the furrow shoots the grain,
And banks are fledged with nestling flowers;
And in grey shawl and woodland bowers
The cuckoo through the April rain
Calls once again."
- Mathilde Blind 
April Rain

If you're a Wind in the Willows fan, you'll find the 1983 British stop motion animated film, here.  Produced by Cosgrove Hall Films for Thames Television and aired on the ITV network. The film is based on Kenneth Grahame's classic story The Wind in the Willows. I wouldn't say the quality is the best, but honestly, for me at least, that's part of the charm.

I am a HUGE fan of classic children's literature, in fact I've been dreaming up a series of posts on that very subject. But aside from the stories, one of the things I love most about vintage children's literature is the illustrations. Published in 1976, the illustration above is from the book Oh What A Busy Day illustrated by Gyo Fujikawa.  Unfortunately I wasn't able to find this particular book at the archives, but did come across another that looks equally as lovely.

A Child's Book of Poems

If you like vintage children's literature and illustrations, like I do, you might be interested in the joining this Facebook group.

The Golden Age of Illustration

It was through this group that I was introduced to Gyo Fujikawa, as well as many others.

I've even devoted an entire board to beautiful illustrations from the pages of children's literature, if you're interested in perusing it.

Favorite Things - Illustrators

And if sheltering in place is driving you nutsawoo... well. It's at times like these that the words of Agatha Swanburne are most needed. Fans of the Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place, don't miss this free (and fabulous) guide, available here.

And there you have it for today, my friends! I hope you'll find something here to fill some of your time as we all await for the world to return to whatever normal is going to look like, personally, I hope it looks a lot different than the before, but in a good way. However, as I could speak to that topic for another thirty minutes or so, I'll just leave that thought for you to ponder. Perhaps we can discuss it in another post?

Until then,

Friday, April 10, 2020

The Bee - Small Things, Gathered - Volume 1 Issue 2

Well good morning, and welcome to another edition of The Bee! If you missed my first issue, you'll find it here! The Bee is published three times each week, beginning next week on Monday-Wednesday-Friday. This week it's Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and my plan had been to include content related to Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday, but when I began writing the first issue yesterday, I got to the end and realized I hadn't followed through on that idea, at all.

To be honest, I'm kind of glad. Not that Holy Week isn't important, because it is. In my opinion Easter is the single most important day of the year. I love Christmas and celebrating Christ's birth, but it was His rising from death and conquering the grave that gave those of us who have accepted Him as our Lord and Savior freedom from sin and life everlasting. Nothing is more important or deserves celebrating more than Easter!

That being said, I don't want to present you with last minute ideas and resources, either. In these far from normal times, it's not easy to just make a quick trip to Walmart or the craft store to gather the supplies you need. So instead I'm going to try to provide you with ideas and resources that are beautiful, inspirational and take little to no planning, or hopefully, utilize supplies you may already have on hand. And since I plan to share a variety of ideas in each post, if you find that you don't have what you need for one, you'll still be able to enjoy a few others. So with that, here's today offering of sweetness gathered from across the internet.

"When April scatters charms of primrose gold
Among the copper leaves in thickets old,
And singing skylarks from the meadows rise,
To twinkle like black stars in sunny skies;

When I can hear the small woodpecker ring,
Time on a tree for all the birds that sing;
And hear the pleasant cuckoo, loud and long --
The simple bird that thinks two notes a song."

- William Henry Davies
April's Charms
Taproot has a free coloring book available right now. You can download a copy for yourself, here. While you're there, check out their journal. It's full of lovely things!

"The year's at the spring,
And day's at the morn;
Morning's at seven;
The hill-side's dew-pearled;
The lark's on the wing;
The snail's on the thorn;
God's in his Heaven—
All's right with the world!"

- Robert Browning, 
The Year's at the Spring

If you're not familiar with The Circe Institute, I highly recommend perusing the plethora of resources that are available, some free, some not, all wonderful! Some of my favorites are their podcasts, of which I listen to a number, but among my favorites is The Daily Poem. You'll find it along with all of their other wonderful podcasts, here. But don't stop there, explore to your heart's content!

"When the April wind wakes the call for the soil, I hold the plough as my only hold upon the earth, and, as I follow through the fresh and fragrant furrow, I am planted with every foot-step, growing, budding, blooming into a spirit of spring." 

- Dallas Lore Sharp

For the Children
A Book Series Girls Will Love
In Grandma's Attic
by Arleta Richardson
I read these with all of my girls when they were little, and they remain a personal favorite to this day.
This is the first book in the series, but I'll write up a post soon with links to the rest to make them easy for you to find.

And for the Boys
Encyclopedia Brown
by Donald J. Sobol
I'll admit to not being much of an expert on boys or what they may or may not enjoy reading, but I read a few boys in the Encyclopedia Brown series growing up and remember enjoying them. Maybe you have a young man at home who will enjoy them, too.

And if you and your children like poetry . . .
- Poems For Boys And Girls - Volume 1
by Grace Morgan

- Poems For Boys and Girls - Volume 2
by Grace Morgan

For Mama
Miss Read - Village School
by Miss Read
If you've never read this lovely series, this is the first in the Fairacre collection.  There are many more, and most all of them are available from the archives!

At Home In Mitford
by Jan Karon
Another lovely series.  I've just started reading this series myself for the first time and I am thoroughly enjoying it. Just the balm my weary soul needs these days. If you've never read them, or just want to visit them again, just about every one is available at the archives.

The Stillmeadow Daybook and The Stillmeadow Calendar
by Gladys Taber
A dear online friend introduced me to Gladys a few years back and now I own a copy of every book she's ever written. Every one of them is simply scrumptious, but the Daybook and Calendar are two of my personal favorites.

And now my friends, I hope you have enjoyed this second edition of the The Bee. I apologize that I was so late in posting today, I fell asleep quite early last night and woke up and decided to completely re-work one section I had written with different resources and links, so it has taken some time. I also wanted to let you know that I had originally planned to offer the third edition tomorrow, but I think I would like to step back for a few days and just enjoy Easter weekend with my family. So, I will be back on Monday with the third installment, though I am not sure how early it will be posted. I typically like to post around 6:00 so it's fresh and ready for over your morning cup of coffee or tea, but as I am taking the weekend off, it may well be that I don't get it posted until around noon on Monday, so I hope you'll be patient with me.

Until then, I pray you have a blessed weekend with your family!

Thursday, April 9, 2020

The Bee: Small Things, Gathered - Volume 1 Issue 1

Good morning, and welcome to the first edition of The Bee! And just in case you're wondering what exactly this is all about, you can find out more about that in this post.

Spring has definitely sprung in our neighborhood, and I'm not sure there has ever been a lovelier one! I made this comment on FB recently, and a friend shared that perhaps with everyone being ordered to stay at home that we simply have more time to take it all in. But I've been a keen observer of nature and beauty all of my life, and in my opinion at least, this spring is one for the records.

We've been on self imposed quarantine going into our fourth week here, but that hasn't kept us from getting out at least once a day, some times twice, for a walk around the neighborhood. We are so blessed to be living where we are during this time, among these quaint, old historic houses with their beautiful lawns and big, mature trees. The cherry blossoms this year have been simply breathtaking, and mixed in with the dogwoods and redbuds, its truly a sight to behold. I took this picture on our walk yesterday morning, which was just spectacular. We had some pretty strong storms blow through earlier that morning, and there were a lot of petals on the ground, but I could not believe how thick the cherry blossom petals were in this one area. They were just beautiful, even on the ground!

And now, here are a few small things I've gathered today to sweeten your time at home.

- You Tube is airing a different Andrew Lloyd Webber musical every Friday at 2 p.m.  It began last week with Jospeh and the Technicolor Dreamcoat (I skipped that one). And this week's offering is Jesus Christ Superstar. I'm not sure about it, either. But there are rumors that some of his most popular productions, such as Phantom of the Opera and Cats may make the list, so keep watching!

The Globe is doing something similar, offering six plays free on You Tube. Hamlet is the current offering, but they have a schedule posted at their website. I'm hoping to watch Hamlet over the weekend.

"The first day of spring is one thing, and the first spring day is another. 
The difference between them sometimes as great as a month."


I also wanted to make you aware of a movie that I just found out about today that is available to watch for free.  It's called The Windemere Children. Based on the true story of child Holocaust survivors who were brought to England’s Lake District to recuperate with the help of volunteer therapists, “The Windermere Children” is penned by “Home Fires” writer-producer Simon Block, and is directed by “Any Human Heart’s” Michael Samuels. Without their families, the children find kinship in each other and form bonds that give them hope for the future.

You can stream it for free here until May 3.
If you are a homeschooling family, are you familiar with Libraries of Hope? Our baby graduated last year so those lovely days are behind us, but in recent months I've been considering expanding my own education and reading some of the wonderful books that I missed in my childhood. I was especially drawn to this series of readings and videos on The Mother's Heart, and I plan to begin watching it tomorrow. There is just-so-much here to peruse, so pour yourself a cup of tea sand settle in.

"No matter how long the winter.
Spring is sure to follow."


A Hygge-ish Life
I belong to a Facebook group that posts the most beautiful, uplifting and inspirational images every day. In fact, I have them set to show up first in my feed before anything else. If you want to add a little hygge beauty to your day, I encourage you to join! 


I came across this blog just this past week, Cottage Chronicles, and I-AM-IN-LOVE! You should hop on over and pay her a visit. She also has an Instagram page and today at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time (which will be 1:00 my time, Eastern) she will be hosting an essential oils class focusing on anxiety and stress relief, and I think we could all use a little relief from that right now! You can register for that by visiting her Instagram page.

So, I hope you have enjoyed this first edition of THE BEE. I'm still kind of trying to figure this out as as I go, so some things may change and others remain the same. I also just realized I didn't include anything for Maundy Thursday, so I'll be writing a separate stand alone post regarding that later this afternoon. Until then, I hope you'll find something here to bless you and fill your days with beauty!

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

A Sweet Offering In These Trying Times

Well, I really haven't meant to be so quiet or to step away from the space for so long. I truly miss it. I come here every day, look at it and think how lovely it is, throw around a couple of ideas for a post, but for some reason in light of all that is taking place in the world, nothing really seems fitting. I haven't even worked on my book for a couple of weeks now, but I've decided to get back to that this weekend and try to write a little every day.

It' isn't that I'm fearful, although I guess a little fear is a healthy, appropriate response during this time. It just feels wrong, at least to me, to just continue on with what now seems like frivolous topics, when all over the world people are dying alone and families lives are being tragically reshaped. It's just sad.

And yet I feel compelled, in fact, I need to write. So I've decided if there is one thing that we could all do with during this time, it's a little beauty and inspiration, and there is still plenty of that to be found. So at least three time's a week I'm going to be posting links to inspiring articles, beautiful images, free movies and concerts that I've come across that are being made available right now, maybe even some recipes? I'm a little on the fence about that one as I know a lot of people are struggling to get the specific things they need right now and being forced to make do. But maybe I will, just on the off chance that you  have the items on hand, or perhaps you'll be able to locate them. I'll include lovely quotes, poetry, links to inspiring articles, and such. I've even come up with a name for it, one that was originally supposed to be a monthly newsletter I was thinking of producing, and may still, eventually. But for now, it will begin here, in the format. So may I introduce . . .

As the bee is one of my favorite things on earth and spends its day busily collecting pollen and nectar from here and there, it seems fitting to have it represent my hodge-lodge of sweet gathered offerings I'll begin tomorrow, as this is Holy Week, on Maundy Thursday, then again on Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and then next week I'll begin a regular schedule of posts on Monday-Wednesday-Friday, and will continue so until we are on the other side of this pandemic. I hope that you will join me here, and that your spirits will be encouraged and uplifted!

I'll see you tomorrow!

- Kim

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Seeking To Bring The Kingdom In Small Ways

I saw a meme on Instagram earlier this week that said, "What a year this week has been", and isn't that the truth? When I shared my last post about my Spring Home Blessing, the panic surrounding CoVid19 had yet to hit. I was aware of it, of course, but like so many other viruses over the years, especially those that arise in other parts of the world, I didn't give it much thought. But then late last week my daughter and I were out shopping, when I overhead a number of women say that they had just come back from Walmart, Target, CVS,  and they were all running out of toilet paper. It was then that I realized that perhaps I should give this a little more thought.

Twenty four hours later, life as we knew it had come to an abrupt halt. My husband, who is 65 pre-diabetic and often susceptible to respiratory illnesses, informed his job (a big box retailer), that he would not be returning for the foreseeable future. We made lists, stocked up on food and the necessary items we thought that we will need (no hoarding here, we were considerate), and went into self imposed quarantine. I've  established a daily cleaning protocol, wiping down all surfaces with more frequency, a daily round of cleaning light switches, handles, door knobs, and processing laundry daily. My seasonal home blessing quickly evolved into a daily prayer for protection. So far, we are good. They say there are no reported cases in our area (as of today), but I'm not putting my faith in those numbers. We're assuming it's already here and doing what we can to limit the spread in our home. Our daughter, who is 20, is still required to work, so that does pose some threat. But if I've learned anything over the past fews days it's that I can't control this. All we can do is the best we can do to try to prevent it in our homes and families, and rather than living in fear (I do have my moments), we have to rely on our faith in God. This may have taken us a bit by surprise, but not our Father.

I've been reading from Be Not Afraid by Richard Havermale and in yesterday's reading I came across these words.

"The Lord our God calls us to His service. This is the message of St. Therese of Lisieux, that we are called and we should have great confidence and humility seeking to bring the kingdom in small ways and asking our Lord to multiply our efforts."  

The author goes on to say that the greatest way that we can bring the Kingdom is in our families. He explains that families are under attack from a media that pushes instant gratification, but in light of recent events, I would insert CoVid 19. But I do want to temper that statement by saying that I don't believe that all of the information the media provides is harmful. We just have to injest it with a certain amount of caution, because there are so many conflicting reports and honestly so much that we don't know about this virus. If you aren't careful it can become overwhelming.

I found that happening to me yesterday. I had spent the greater part of the morning seeking out information about the latest statistics and the nation and state's response when suddenly I found myself becoming extremely nauseated, a physical reaction manifested by the stress that was building as I processed the alarming figures. Thankfully I was able to tie the two together pretty quickly, and my husband suggested that we go for a walk to work off some of the stress that we were both feeling by then. I was reluctant at first because it was misty and not as warm as I would have liked, especially since it was damp, but he encouraged me to try and I'm so glad I did. We walked for probably an hour, exploring the neighborhood around our home. There were people out, but we practiced keeping a wide birth between us, and you could tell that others were intent upon doing the same. We've decided for the time being, or at least until we are advised otherwise, to make it a regular part of our day.

As we walked I began thinking about ways that I could "bring the Kingdom" into the midst of our lives during this time, which I believe rests primarily in acts of service to one another. I love my family more than words could adequately express, but I think we all might be a little challenged in the coming weeks, living so closely and with very little time apart. I know for me, an Enneagram 5, it will be particularly hard as I thrive on time alone.And my daughter, who is an Enneagram 7, will have her own struggles as she is the complete opposite and functions best when surrounded by friends. We are going to have to impart a lot of grace in the days ahead to make the best of this.

That being said, in considering the needs of my family, I've jotted down a few ideas for how I can perform small acts of service, or "bring the kingdom", into our home.

- Plan special meals that appeal to the tastes of each family member. My daughter loves meatloaf, mashed pototos and field peas, so I already have that on the rotation. But my husband is much more health-conscious eater and prefers salads, so most of our lunches will satisfy him. I'm a mixture of the two, so I'm good either way!

- Plan for fun! I've already looked though our games and puzzles and I'm hoping that by engaging my daughter in this way that it will help her to ease her anxiety over the lack of social interaction with her friends. Movies are another activity I hope we can enjoy together. My daughter has her own TV in her room, but since we may very well be her only source of socializing, at least face-to-face, this may need to happen with more frequency.

Additionally, I'll need to monitor my own needs and balance them against the needs of my family. That will mean less time alone for me, but I also need to not be afraid to ask for it if and when I need it. The key for me is going to be recognizing that and making sure that I don't wait until I've over extended myself and perhaps become harsh in my communication. To aide me in that I've already thought through how that might be accomplished and arrived on a couple of areas where I can retreat for a bit to unwind and recharge. Thankfully in our planning to be home for the foreseeable future, my husband had the insight to encourage me to buy some plants for our balcony to make it more inviting, and even went as far as to go ahead an make a purchase of some more comfortable chairs. They were already on our list of things to buy for our transition to life on the road (which has obviously been delayed), but he felt it would be good to go ahead and get them now since the chairs we currently have are pretty, but not particularly comfortable. I'm thankful for his insight and willingness to make this happen. It's a perfect example of being sensitive to each other's needs during this time.

I'm sure there are many more things that will come to mind as the days and weeks progress. Even my amped up cleaning routine is an act of service to my family, another way of "bringing the Kingdom down". And I am certain there are some things that will reveal themselves as our needs arise. As I said, we can't control the circumstances in the world today, we can only do our best to make our homes a haven of rest.

Do you have any suggestions? What changes have you made, and how are you adjusting your schedules and expectations to meet the challenge? I'd love to hear your thoughts! We're all in this together friends, so lets encourage each other on! Let's do our best bring the Kingdom into the days and weeks ahead!  I'll be checking back in with updates, and I'd love to hear from you!

Until then,

Sunday, March 8, 2020

All Of Life And Love

Let there be within these phantom walls
Beauty where the hearth fire's shadow falls . . .
Quiet pictures, books, and welcoming chairs . . .
Music that the very silence shares. . .
Kitchen windows curtained blue and white . . .
Shelves and cupboards built for my delight . . .

Little things that lure and beckon me

With their tranquil joy, and let there be
Lilt of laughter-swift forgotten tears
Woven through the fabric of the years. . .
Strength to guard me, eyes to answer mine
Mutely clear. And though without may shine
Stars of dawn or sunset's wistful glow,
All of life and love my house shall show.

~ Catherine Parmenter Newell

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Blessing The Weekend

Back in December I took a course, Hibernate, with the lovely Heather Bruggeman of North Ridge Farm. If you're not familiar with Heather's blog then I invite you to skip this post for now, pour yourself a cup of something warm and settle in for awhile and peruse her offerings. I've learned so much from Heather over the years, and I hope to be just like her when I grow up!  This is the third class I've taken, and I always learn so much in the time spent gleaning from her wisdom and expertise. I can't praise her classes enough! They are all just so good and I highly recommend taking one, or two!

In the last session of Hibernate, Heather spoke about Blessing The Weekend, a ritual that came about during the years when she was homeschooling her daughter.. Like many homeschooling families, Friday's were a half day, and once they finished with their lessons, they would spend a few hours tidying the home, maybe making up a quick pan of brownies, or.a pot of soup and a few other quick, easy meals. The objective here being to cut down on time spent in the kitchen. She emphasized that she likes to cook, but she also like not having too, as well, and that by  the taking the time to do a little prepping on Friday afternoons, you can easily have one or two meals and snacks ready to carry you through until Monday. Fast food, but at significantly less cost and better for you!

Another thing she did are what I like to refer to as "cozy chores". Changing the sheets on the bed, dusting off furniture, making up a lovely bouquet of flowers for the table. Anything that freshens the space and make things warm and inviting, "cozying up", as I like to say. None of this takes very long at all, especially if you enlist help. But even it its just you, typically within an hour or two you've set the stage o spend intentional time with your family and just be together.

Reading Heather's words reminded me of the Jewish practice of Shabbat, or what I refer to as sabbath. In Jewish homes Shabbat (pronounced SHAH-BAHT or some communities, SHAH-BIS, is a weekly twenty five hour observance that begins just before sundown each Friday and through the completion of nightfall on Saturday. It is a day of physical and spiritual delights highlighting key concept of the Jewish faith. Preparations begin as early as mid-week. As no work is to be done during this time, meals must be prepared ahead of time (similar to what Heather shared), and the observance begins with the a candle lighting ceremony which I think is just lovely and have long intended to incorporate into my own sabbath observance. Jewish tradition mandates three specific shabbat meals, and in addition to special foods, the family spends time singing, studying and celebrating together.
Now I know at this point some of you may be thinking, "Well, this all sounds lovely, but our kids are involved in soccer on the weekend, there's yard work to do, and preparations to be made for church on Sunday.", and let me assure you, I hear you loud and clear! In her book Rhythms of Rest, Shelly Miller shared this thought; "The sabbath isn't about resting perfectly, it's about resting in the one who is perfect." The important thing is not how much time you are able to devote to rest and being together, but that you are intentional about setting aside some time every weekend, to make space to be together. If you still don't see how that might be possible, let me offer a few suggestions.
Begin planning  mid-week for the upcoming weekend. Think through what activities you already have scheduled and then determine how much time you have to devote to rest and relaxation. Mark that time slot off in your calendar so that as you receive invitations you'll already have it reserved. And don't be discouraged if at first you find you can only squeeze in a couple of hours. It also might even take a little encouragement to get other members of the family on board with the idea, but once you begin my guess is you'll enjoy it so much, everyone will want more and before you know you'll be willing to sacrifice more to have this time together.

When doing your weekly meal planning, take this time into consideration. If you don't want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen, then take a cue from Heather an make up a bit pot of soup or stew that can be enjoyed all weekend. If your budget affords, plan a special meal out, or if the weather is nice, go on a picnic. Maybe you want to bake something together, so take time to do a quick inventory and make sure you have all of the ingredients. Nothing spoils time together like someone having to rush off to the store for eggs or sugar.

Think of other things that will encourage spending time together. Go through the board games in your closet and set out a few favorites. Maybe a deck of cards? Plan a trip to the library together to pick up a few books or maybe a dvd the whole family can watch. But aside from television and maybe a movie, I would recommend you try to limit screen time.This is a time for intentionally being together. You could go on a hike, visit a museum, work on a puzzle. The possibilities are endless, so be creative.

And finally, set the stage. It's hard to be together and not be distracted if the family room is overrun with toys, there's a stack of dirty dishes in the kitchen, the floors need sweeping, you get the picture. It doesn't have to be perfect, but if you take the time to tidy things up it makes for a much more inviting and relaxing atmosphere. I like to change the sheets on our bed on Fridays so that after a day of fun everyone has a clean, comfy bed to crawl in to. Another element that is a must in our home is candlelight. And though I don't follow the the ceremony associated with Shabbat.(though I'd like to), it's such an important piece that it's really become the cue. Any time my family comes in to finds candles lit, twinkle lights glowing, and soft music playing (usually some light jazz), I can almost watch the stress from the day wash from their faces, and they are instantly engaged and ready. Setting aside time for rest and for intentionally being together is just the anecdote you and your family need for recovering from the madness and business of the world.

To help you brainstorm through your own sabbath weekend, or weekend hours, with your family, I've created a little printable, of course, **wink**. And again, don't be discouraged if at first you can't find much time to carve out, or if it takes you a few tries before you find your rhythm and figure to what works best. I've allowed space for you to muddle through those thoughts until it becomes a natural and regular part of your routine.  Just click on the link below to download your free copy!

In closing I want to leave you with this lovely passage from one of my favorite children's books, All of a Kind Family.

"At home, the kitchen was warm with the smell of fresh baked white bread. The room sparkled with cleanliness. The table, which wore only an oilcloth covering all through the week, now had a snowy white tablecloth. On it stood the brass candlesticks, gleaming brightly from the polishing that Ella and Sarah had given them the ay before. They were just in time to see Mama saying the prayer over the candles.

The children stood around the table watching her. A lovely feeling of peace and contentment seemed to flow out from Mama to them. First she put a napkin on her head, then placing four white candles in the brass candlesticks, she lit them. She extended her arms to form a circle. One the lighted candles the encircling gesture was repeated. After that Mama covered her eyes with her hands softly murmuring a prayer in Hebrew.

This was Sabbath ushered in."

- Sydney Taylor

To learn more about Shabbat prayers, visit this page.