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.

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?

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