Saturday, November 4, 2023

Small Things - The Gratitude Edition

 "Life is not, for most of us, a pageant of splendor, but is made up of many small things, rather like an old fashioned piecework quilt. No two people have the same, but we all have our own, whether it be listening to Beethoven's fifth with a beloved friend, or seeing a neighbor at the back door with a basket of white dahlias. Or after a long, hard day, having the family say, "That was a good supper."


With Thanksgiving just around the corner, I thought it might be good to focus on gratitude and thankfulness in preparation for this lovely idea.  Here are some ideas to cultivate a spirit of gratitude

In no particular order, here are six small things that inspired me this week;

1. Light A Candle, from, is a beautiful online activity that encourages thoughtfulness and thankfulness. 

2. Printable Thankful Dice - roll the dice and share what you're thankful for!

3. Gratitude Stones - I love this idea! You could set them out in a pretty basket along with a few chalk pens and allow people to reflect and add to the basket of gratefulness throughout the day!

4. Gratitude ABC's Printable - This would be great for the littles in your life, and for the not so littles, too!

5. Gratitude Scavenger Hunt - This would be a fun family activity after everyone has enjoyed the big meal.

6. Free printable Gratitude Journal!

Friday, November 3, 2023

Fading Light

"Gray November is the most beautiful of seasons"

The light is changing. I've noticed it for a few weeks  now. The sun sets earlier and rises later. But every morning, and again in the afternoon, there is a certain slant of light that glimmers all through the house, casting its magic upon everything it touches. Simple beauty at no cost.

We turn the clocks back this weekend, and darkness will come even earlier. There are some who do not care for daylight savings time. They draw up petitions and rally for support to appeal to the government to end it. I guess in some way I understand, and I'm certain that I could easily live without it. But personally, I rather prefer the curtain of darkness that is drawn earlier in the evening come mid-Autumn, just as winter takes its first strong grip. I'm tempted to slow down, gain a few pounds and hibernate, but inevitably, life calls us to rise and keep going, and we must find a way to trudge through the darkness and make our own light!

The Norwegians know how to brighten the darkening season, with a whimsical concept known as koselig, which is best described in images: curling up under a wool blanket in front of a fire, drinking wine by candlelight with friends, sharing a home cooked meal with family, enjoying a good book with a mug of steaming hot chocolate, and sweaters, LOTS of sweaters! It's basically "chestnuts roasting on an open fire", all season long.

You can always make it a point to rise early to catch the sun on a brisk walk before the busyness of the day begins, or perhaps during your lunch break. But inevitably the night comes and the cold descends. The change of light in this season is here to stay, so we might as well make the most of it.  And with some help of the cozy little concept of koselig, there are a few ways you can do just that.

This season sets the stage for the slow enjoyment of food and friends. In Norway friends and family gather in each other's homes during this time of year, enjoying simple, homemade dinners in the comfort and intimacy of a private, small space. Lights are low and candles are lit, as loved ones enjoy one another's company while wine bottles are passed and a wholesome meal is consumed. Perhaps you could borrow from this idea and organize a weekly dinner night, rotating between the homes of two or three friends, or open up your home once a week and invite friends and family to join you!

With temperatures dropping, once you are home for the evening, you most likely don't want to get out again. So here's a bit of inspiration to kindle some warmth and light into your evening. Heat up some water for a cup of tea, put on your warmest sweater, light a few candles and turn up some relaxing music. Then wrap your legs in a warm wool blanket and read a few chapters from a favorite book. It doesn't take much to create this cozy scene for yourself, and makes for a truly lovely evening at home.

It's easy to find plenty to do in the warmer months, when the outdoors beckon. But the darker, colder days of autumn and early winter is the perfect time for hobbies you can enjoy in the warmth and comfort of home. Why not learn to knit or crochet? Or perhaps you'd like to try out a few new recipes, or learn to bake bread from scratch? Puzzles are another fun activity to enjoy this time of year, a hobby I personally love. My husband even built me a puzzle tray so that I could keep the puzzle out as I am working on it without taking up table space. The tray can easily be moved from room to room, and shared together!

Stay warm, friends! 

Thursday, November 2, 2023

The Present Moment Is Eternity: The Liturgical Year

Beginning November 6 and on each subsequent Monday in November, I will be posting a weekly series of  on Advent, which begins on Sunday, December 3. 

Following is a post I have shared several times before, but for those who are not familiar with Advent which is the first day of the Liturgical Year, or as I refer to it, the Year of the Lord, I find it helpful. 

Many years ago I stumbled upon a book in the public library, Holidays and Holy Nights by Christopher Hill, who first introduced me, a wholly Protestant girl, to The Liturgical Year, or as I prefer to call it, The Year of the Lord. Though I was not raised Catholic, in reading this book I found a beauty and rhythm in The Liturgical Year that was appealing, even comforting. Recently, as I’ve begun working my way through the spiritual practices, I was reminded again of this lovely book and the in particular, the following passage. In my efforts to slow the pace of life, these words are a balm for my hurried soul, and what started me on my journey to a slower, sacred, and more meaningful way of living. 

"The whole point of the Year of the Lord is that there is more than one way to experience time. The understanding of time that most people live with is only one way to experience it. We could call it the worldly or profane understanding of time. It is an image of time as a straight horizontal line with a middle point, where we stand, called The Present. This line is always moving past us like a conveyor belt. On the left is the Past, where present moments constantly flow and immediately cease to exist. On the right is The Future, which is always moving toward the Present, but never actually arrives. 

This model is almost completely abstract. In other words, we never actually experience any of it. The present is gone before we are aware of it, and the past and future lie outside our grasp. Anxiety is built into it. Each human possesses only a limited quantity of this kind of time, and it is constantly passing us by, never to return. 

This view of time is not necessarily bad. It can be a useful tool. All human progress, in some sense, depends on it. But its not the whole or most important part of the picture. It is not the way we experience time in the deepest parts of ourselves, on the level of our hearts, and it is not the way God experiences time. Above and below this abstract, one-dimensional timeline, is well, reality. This is the world we actually experience, in which we “live and move and have our being”, as Paul said. The word “I Am” as God introduced himself to Moses. The present moment is eternity. 

For most of human history, people experienced time very different. The pattern was not a line, but a circle or cycle. The cycles of sun, moon and stars; of the seasons of the life, death and birth of plants, animals and human beings. Everything went away, but then in some way everything always came back. We can be sure that people living with this image of time still got anxious about things, but anxiety wasn’t built into the system itself. 

The image of the cycle contains a lot of truth. It expands the one-dimensional timeline into a two-dimensional circle and so takes in a lot more of reality. it is less abstract than the line, truer to experience and incorporates the fundamental patterns of creation. Years, seasons, months, weeks, days and hours all come from this model of time. Birth, life, death and rebirth are all in it. What it doesn’t include is the possibility for growth. In this cycle, the more things change, the more they stay the same. 

The Year of the Lord, the Christian understanding of time, is a variation on the cycle. The timeline, as we’ve said, is a one-dimensional model. The circle is two dimensional. The Year of the Lord is three-dimensional. It is modeled on the spiral, a circle that grows outward and upward. It grows in a vertical direction as well as horizontally, combining the straight line of the past, present and future with the height and depth of eternity. Like a spiraling tornado, it sucks one-dimensional time up into three dimensional reality. It uses time to break us out of time. It hallows and sacralizes time and transforms it into eternity. Year, season month, week, day and hour all concentric circles that lead deeper and deeper into the center; the present moment, where we live in the presence of God. The present is the Presence. And the present time ripples outward again, connecting us with all time and all the cosmos."

Wednesday, November 1, 2023

This Is November

Frost on the rooftops,
Dew on the grass,
Leaves drifting down,
Wherever we pass;
Wet, windy weather,
Skies often gray,
Leaves piling up
Though raked every day.

Ice on the puddles,
Trees almost bare;
Mornings are chilly,
Breath on the air.
Squirrels are still busy,
Where nuts can be found,
Hiding their treasures
In hollows around.

Darkness comes early,
It's cozy indoors
With apples and popcorn,
And books to explore.
The harvest is in
And all stored away:
Watch for the snowflakes
To come any day.


Saturday, October 21, 2023

Small Things - The Cozy October Edition

"Life is not, for most of us, a pageant of splendor, but is made up of many small things, rather like an old-fashioned piecework quilt. No two people have the same, but we all have our own, whether it be listening to Beethoven's fifth with a beloved friend, or seeing a neighbor at the back door with a basket of white dahlias. Or after a long, hard day, having the family say, "That was a good supper." 


In no particular order, here are six small things that inspired me this week.

I've been making my own room sprays for about a year now, and I love them! Just yesterday I walked through the house after I'd finished cleaning it and spritzed every room with the delightful scent of Snickerdoodle Cookies! One thing I would let you know is that the scent doesn't last very long, but probably not a lot less time than commercially purchased air fresheners and without the harmful added chemicals! I like that it's clean and that there are so many variations of scents I can try by adding different essential oils.

Now that the temps are dropping into the 40's and they are calling for our first frost this week, I've been making myself a warm cup of tea most afternoons. In the past I've kept a number of store bought brands on hand in this season, and right now I have a box of Yogi Pumpkin Spice Tea. But recently I've noticed that several of my favorite influencers across social media, mix up their own blends and I've been considering trying out a few recipes myself. Wouldn't it be nice, rather than having a dozen bags of the same flavor, to have a nice selection of herbs and loose leaf teas to mix up a number of different flavors? I'm excited to see how it turns out!

The Seasonal Table is a lovely account that I follow on Instagram. I always enjoy their posts, but one of the things I like most are their season supplements. They are offered for free if you provide them with your email, and the autumn edition is due to arrive tomorrow! Hop on over and sign up to get a copy!

4. Cozy Autumn Illustrations
Another thing I love about Instagram are all the cozy autumn scenes that begin to pop up in my feed from the various illustrators I follow. One of my favorites is @robinelisedraws. If you like cozy seasonal depictions, be sure to check out here works.

5. Dedication To A Fire Place
Ahh, a fire place! It's something I've longed for since childhood but so far have only had in one house I've lived in.  Our current house had one when we moved in, but it wasn't a true fire place. I detest fake logs and push button flames! So we took it out. We do have a chimney, though, so maybe someday I'll get the wood stove I've always dreamed of to warm us. But regardless of the type of fireplace you may have in your home, I came across this cute little poem and added it to Autumn/Winter commplace book.

This hearth was built for thy delight, 
For thee the logs were sawn, 
For thee the largest chair, at night, 
Is to the chimney drawn. 

For thee, dear lass, the match was lit 
To yield the ruddy blaze- 
May Jack Frost give us joy of it 
For many, many days.


6. Vintage You Tube Autumn Playlists
And finally, my husband and I purchased an old antique radio last weekend. It doesn't work, but it's a lovely piece, and we loved it from the first moment we laid eyes on it! We both enjoy listening to oldies music from the 1940's - 60's and we decided that since it didn't work, we would simply place our blue tooth speaker inside the cabinet and stream music from our phone.  We've sat and enjoyed it several times already this week, including some old radio shows we found, as well!  Here are a few of our favorites.

And there you have it friends, I hope you've enjoyed this edition of Small Things! I'll visit with you here again soon!

Monday, October 16, 2023

Autumn Rituals

Elizabeth wrote a post over at her blog a few days ago, in which she listed some of her Autumn rituals. I enjoyed reading it so much that I thought I might share some of mine, as well.

Like Elizabeth, I am a decidedly seasonal soul, and of those autumn and winter are my favorites, hands down! They are simply the coziest, and while I strive to give our home a cozy feel all year round, there is just nothing like decorating for autumn and Christmas to warm things up.

Being a seasonal soul, there are a number of rituals and traditions that I keep, and that I look forward to all year long! Here are some of my favorites.

I enjoy cooking and baking year round, but there is nothing like an overcast, balmy autumn sky with grey pillowy clouds that sets my heart to make up something warm to eat! Our family simply loves chili, and just last week I made up a pot using a recipe I'd never tried before, Turkey Pumpkin White Bean Chili, and it was delicious! Definitely one that I will make again before the end of the season, and even into winter. I've never made anything but desserts with pumpkin, and I wasn't entirely convinced that you wouldn't be able to taste it, but if I hadn't made it myself I would have never known that pumpkin was one of the ingredients. It's a keeper!

Almost every year I make my pumpkin dip that I serve with store bought snickerdoodles.  I made up a bowl of it over the weekend and I'm still munching it. I halved the recipe, but it still made quite a bit and since I'm about the only one who eats it, I think next time I might need to make even less. I'll share the recipe here soon.

Not only do I love all the wonderful autumn meals and desserts that we enjoy this time of year, I also love the way they make the kitchen smell!  There is nothing better than a warm kitchen on a cool day and the smell of baked goods in the oven, or the sound of a pot of soup slowly simmering away on the stove! In my opinion, there are few better ways to spend a day!

I get so excited ever year when the calendar turns to September and I know it won't be long before it's time to bring out all my favorite clothes! I've managed to curate a wardrobe I like year round, but my absolute favorite pieces are the clothes I wear in autumn and winter. I adore flannel shirts, layered with t-shirts and a soft pair of jeans. Leggings are always nice to wear this time of year, as well, and with a cute sweatshirt and a scarf you can put together some really cute outfits! And my boots! I have a pair of Sperry boots that I got for Christmas a few years ago. I think this is my fifth season wearing them, and they are still in excellent condition. I also have a pair of black ankle boots that I like to dress things up a bit. I really want to add a pair of Blundstones, and I've been setting aside a little money here and there to be able to buy a pair. I probably won't purchase them until after the first of the year, a belated Christmas gift to myself, perhaps?

Although I cross-stitch and crochet year round, I really begin to feel the urge to create this time of year! Over the past few years that has been primarily because we decided to make most of our gifts by hand. I really enjoy deciding on what to make and lovingly crafting gifts for my family. For me, it's just so much more meaningful! I also enjoy make seasonal decorations for our home, and there are so many to consider and choose from in this season! I find most of my ideas and inspiration on Pinterest and Instagram. I've saved and bookmarked literally hundreds of them, so many that I'll never be able to do them all. But as odd as it sounds, collecting ideas is almost as fun as making them, at least it is for me!

We are so blessed to live close to the Blue Ridge Parkway, about a 10 minute drive from our front door, and in this season we visit it often. The colors in the mountains this time of year are simply breathtaking, and I'm sure I'll be sharing some pictures here very soon. We will most likely be taking a drive up to the mountains one day this week. We are probably less than a week from peak, and I don't want to miss it. Everywhere you drive around here this time of year is simply beaufiul. 

Another place we like to go in this season is the local apple orchard to pick apples, although to be honest, I usually just purchase them already picked. We went this past weekend to a festival they were hosting, but the rain kept most of the vendors away and the conditions were not favorable for a hay ride, maybe next year will be better. But we did pick up some cider, and I think later on tonight I might heat up a cup and enjoy it!

And with that, I think I think I'll wrapt this post up. You can begin to feel the sun setting much earlier in the day now, which I love, signaling that it's almost time to transition over to the evening. We're having chicken and rice casserole with a side of green beans for dinner. My husband is watching football tonight. not my favorite thing, so I'll busy myself working on Christmas gifts. It will be here before we know it!

Saturday, October 14, 2023

October Days

One of the things I love best about autumn are the crunching leaves underfoot. A lot of the leaves in our front yard have already fallen this year, I suspect because of all the rain we got over the summer. That usually makes for less color in the fall. The leaves turn brown and fall to the ground. But autumn in Virginia, even in a less colorful year, still rivals anything I ever knew growing up in Texas.

Because of this, we took a drive up the Blue Ridge Parkway to a higher elevation this week to make sure we hadn't missed peak!  We watch the graphs and predictions for our area every year, and while they are usually right, every now and then it sneaks up on you. Oddly enough, the higher we got in elevation the less color there seemed to be. There is color, but we are probably still a good 7-10 days from peak foilage. We determined it must be the type of trees we have in our yard. We do have a number of dogwoods and they always seem to change early.  At any rater, I'm glad we didn't miss it and we plan to go back soon for the show! It is dazzingly!

We've been working on a number of projects around the house this week. We picked up a free chicken coop a month or so ago and it is so cute! We're going to use it as a little gardening shed, and this week my husband built a new base for it as some of the original boards were rotting, and we got it set in place.  I'll take some pictures soon to share with you. I spent most of my time placing all the cute pieces that we picked up last weekend at the 100 mile yard sale, my favorite being this little antique chalkboard. I got several of the old books, the little stacking boxes and the white speckled pots and pans shown in the picture at the sale, as well. My plan for the pots is to plant some houseplants in them, but for now I just sat the little pumpkin atop it! The little black stool is a recent yard sale find, as well. Since this is the first thing you see when you walk in our front door, I wanted it to be warm and welcoming and I think I achieved that!

I've decided on my hand-made gifts for Christmas for our family this year, and I'm going to be getting started on making those this week. I'm so excited about it and I hope they turn out as lovely as I envision them in my mind!

Other than that, we enjoyed some favorite seasonal movies this week, Practical Magic and Arsenic and Old Lace! I just LOVE those Brewster Sisters! Aside from the poisoning and the bodies in the cellar, I would love to befriend two little ladies just like them! If you've never watched Arsenic and Old Lace, it's an oldie, from 1944, I HIGHLY recommend it! 

There are several festivals in the area today, so my husband and I are planning on checking out a few of them. They are calling for scattered showers, but I don't think that will deter us much. There is something about a rainy autumn day, just before the weather turns too cold. With the gray skies overhead and the golden carpet beneath your feet. It is simply delicious!

I hope you have a lovely autumn day today, and I'll be back here to visit with you again soon!

Thursday, October 5, 2023

Favorite Poems - Poems of Home

Pumpkin patch in Delaware, Autumn 2018

I have loved poetry most of my life, and with each changing season there have been poems and poets that have resonated with me for various reasons. But poems of hearth and home are the ones I love best, and the poem I am sharing below is one of my favorites.  

I first came across it some years back in a little book I picked up at a used book store, Poems That Touch The Heart. (It's available to borrow from Internet Archives, just click the link.). She also has a collection of poems she wrote herself, The First To Kneel, though I haven't been able to find it online. But this little poem so beautifully captures my own thoughts of home, and I wanted to share it here with you today.  I hope you will enjoy it.

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

Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Savoring The Lovely Days of October

Elizabeth over at Ponderings From the Inglenook is hosting an October blog series, Cozy Reveries! It began on October 1, and even though I'm a few days late, I've decided to join in the fun. I'm not sure if I will post every day in October, but I am going to try to post as much as I can.

Autumn and winter are by far my favorite seasons of the year, and of those October is my favorite month! There is just something about the mix of the warm but still cooler days that gradually fade to into the dark, colder days that I find so enchanting! Living in within the boundaries lines of George Washington National Forest, and less than ten minutes from the Blue Ridge Parkway makes this time of year even more spectacular! We are literally surrounded by beauty, especially in Autumn!

Our porch is decorated with mums (my favorite color in the picture above) and pumpkins, and just this week we had our first chili, Frito Pie to be exact, which is a traditional dinner choice every year when we watch October Sky. October Sky is hands down my absolute favorite movie of all time! It is so inspiring, and definitely one that I believe everyone should watch! The movie is based on the book Rocket Boys by Homer Hickam. I learned recently that they are actually considering a second installment, December Sky, and I am so excited! Our family actually traveled to Coalwood, West Virginia and attended a Rocket Boys festival there one year. There isn't much left of the town, but we got to see the house where Homer grew up, and the remains of the high school he attended. It was a memorable trip!

As for Frito Pie, for Halloween each year I have a favorite chili recipe that I make from scratch (I'll share the recipe soon, because it is SOOOO good!), but on a whim and to save some time I picked up a package of William's Original Chili Mix, and rather than using stew meat (which my recipe calls for), I just browned up some ground chuck, and my was it good! I love my recipe, but it takes a lot more time to get the stew meat nice and tender, but is so worth it! But for occassions when I'm short on time, I am going to start keeping several packages of William's on hand. We eat a LOT of chili this time of year!

I made an apple crisp for dessert, which I had been intending to make all of September, but it simply flew by and before I knew it October had arrived! I typically try to make several yummy desserts using apples in September and save all things pumpkin for October, but it looks like this year I'll be combining them, which is fine.

I've really been enjoying perusing Instragram recently, probably too much, if I'm honest! I get so lost in all the lovely images and recipes, and the talented women of several of the accounts I follow have become sweet friends!

I follow several illustrators and absolutely LOVE some of their recent offerings! The one above is from @chimneysmokeart and I loved it so much I made it my wallpaper on my phone! It just makes me so happy! There are a lot of stone walls that trail across the landscape of Virginia. I would love to have one on our property, but coming up with that many stones in this day and age would be rather expensive. Sometimes you see people post things like, "Free fence, just come and dig it up!" (which we've done). So if anyone ever offers the chance to dismantle a stone wall, I'm on it!

There is a 100 Mile Yardsale happening this weekend, and it begins about fiftteen minutes from our front door! We have acquired so many wonderful pieces for our homestead from yard sales and through Facebook Marketplace, although Marketplace can often be frustrating. So we plan to go tomorrow, which is opening day, and we may go again on Friday. Our daughter wants to go on Saturday and try to pick up some things she needs for setting up household, so we'll be going then, as well, in case anything she finds would require our trailer to haul it home. We don't have anything specific in mind, and we look for deals which may be in shorter supply at an event of this magnitude, but you never know. It's our first time attending so we don't really know what to expect. We even considered setting up shop with some of our own junk somewhere along the route, but since we've never been, we decided to check it out first and then we may well do it again in May. They do it twice a year, so if we think it lives up to the hype, maybe we will? I kind of hate the thought of sitting on all that stuff until May, but since our location isn't prime for a yard sale here at the house, I may have to. I am on the lookout for some pretty plates for the season. I came across this picture in a magazine recently and I just love this pattern! I have it saved to my phone for reference in case I come across them or something similar.

In the coming days I'll share some more lovely images, and hopefully some lovely finds I come across over the weekend, as well as some of my favorite seasonal dishes, including my chili recipe which we'll be having for our All Hallows Eve celebration! Until then I'll leave you with one of my favorite quotes for the season;

“Listen! The wind is rising, and the air is wild with leaves,
We have had our summer evenings, now for October eves!” 


I hope your October is off to a lovely start, feel free to share some of your favorite things about this season in the comments!

Twelve Things In Tribute To My Grandmother On Her Birthday

My paternal grandmother, Irene Hooper Hutsell, was born on this day in 1902, and to honor her I thought I would share twelve things about her.

1. Her family once owned a significant amount of land in Keller, Texas and what is now South Lake. But when her father died when she was eight years old, her mother sold most of it to support herself and her three children. 

2. She did not have a middle name. 

3. She grayed very early in life (attributed to scarlet fever) and always seemed old to me. By the time I was born she had a full head of silvery white hair. She was 59 the year I was born, an age I have now surpassed, yet I don't feel as old as she seemed to me as a child.

4. She could grow anything, and had beautiful vegetable and flower gardens. A trait that sadly, did not pass on to me 

5. She lived her entire life in Keller, Texas. The house she lived in throughout my lifetime is now the parking lot of a Baptist Church. But at the back of the property where the house used to stand, is a patch of grass that was never disturbed, and every time I visit Texas I make that trip, take off my shoes and bury my toes deep into that soil. 

6. She had false teeth that never fit right and were prone to slipping out of her mouth. Because of that, she would grit her teeth in public when she spoke, giving her a stern demeanor. But the minute she got home, she would take them out and her entire composure changed. She had a soft, wrinkly smile and wild hair. That’s the way I prefer to remember her.

7. She never learned to drive.

8. She was an excellent cook and I have several of her recipes. I will never be as good as her, but that’s a trait that did pass on to me. 

9. She never had much and her house was very old, but I learned how to make any home inviting by her example. Her home was always cozy, and warm. 

10. I was born on my grandparent's 39th wedding anniversary, November 11, 1961.

11. She LOVED magazines and always had several on the coffee table that she was perusing. She cut out the Betsy McCall paper doll from McCall's magazine every month and would have it waiting for me to play with when we came to visit!

12. She was a devout member of the Church of Christ and “disowned” me in 1982 when I married a Baptist. She didn’t have anything, so she basically never spoke to me again. I’m a lot like her in many ways, and just as stubborn, so I told myself I didn’t care and went on with my life. When she died I found out that she kept a picture of me in my wedding dress beside her bed. I also learned a few years ago that her grandfather was a Baptist preacher and her own mother (his daughter), was raised a Baptist. I often wonder how her grandfather felt about his daughter leaving the Baptist church, maybe he disowned her, too? At any rate, if I allowed myself to linger long in regret, not mending that relationship would be one. She’s one of the first people I hope to see again in heaven. We have a lot of time to make up for!

Happy Heavenly Birthday, Grandma!

Thursday, September 21, 2023

In These Last Lingering Days of Summer

The Autumn Equinox is this Saturday, but it will probably still be another three weeks before things look like this. However with the temperatures changing and the days growing shorter it is perfectly clear Autumn is on the brink!

Our summer garden is harvested and we've planted a little broccoli, cauliflower and green lettuce to finish out the year. This first season was definitely a learning curve, and I'm already looking forward to next year and expanding our crops. We are currently battling a swarm of yellow jackets that have taken up residence in one of our raised beds.They apparently die out over winter and leave the rising queens behind, so if anything we'll have to dig out that bed and try to transfer as much of the soil as we can to another and locate and kill the queens before they start a new hive next spring. We're trying to avoid using chemicals that would be harmful to the soil, so hopefully we can resolve this problem organically and quickly.

A fox got into our duck pen and killed two of them. I feel bad because it was a make shift pen to begin with, and not well secured. We were going to build them something more substantial over the next few weeks, but after the attack we rehomed the remaining two and we've decided that ducks are not something we want on our homestead. They are terribly cute, and in some ways I even preferred them to the chickens, with their cute little quacks and waddles. But they got into everything. They were constantly on the porch and eating every plant in sight. When they started munching on my mums I decided I'd had enough and that was when we built the temporary pen. They were only in it for a few days when they were attacked, which was odd because they had been free ranging all summer and sleeping under our van and nothing ever bothered them. Based on the tracks and the kill, we suspected it was a fox, and then our daughter spotted one by our neighbors house on her way to work this morning. We set a trap today so we'll see if we have any success. Our chicken coop is pretty secure from predators, but we don't want to take any chances.

All this insect and animal drama has been rather stressful, and I've been looking for some additional tools to quite my spirits and calm my nerves. With that in mind, I've added a few books to my morning routine. Spiritual Literacy: Reading the Sacred In Everyday Life by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat is one I picked up at the thrift store last week. I'm reading it cautiously. The authors claim to be christians and speak openly about God, though they do sometimes refer to Him as "Spirit", which was a bit of a red flag for me. So far I haven't found anything overly alarming or that I haven't been able to discern for myself. Probably not one I would recommend for a young christian, but I'm comfortable with drawing inspiration from it and leaving the rest.

Every Season Sacred: Reflections Prayers and Invitations To Nourish Your Soul and Nuture Your Family Throughout The Year by Kayla Craig is one I've had pre-ordered for awhile now and I was so excited to receive it in the mail this week. I didn't realize when I ordered it that it was written primarily as a guide for parents to grow spiritually alongside their children. But after perusing the contents, I definitely feel that it is still something that I can use personally and share with my family.

The book is broken up by seasons each containing thirteen chapters. In each chapter there is a reflection, prompts and a prayer. Some of the themes included in the autumn chapters are Peace, Listening, Belonging, Strivings Cease, and there are chapters devoted to Advent in December, and Lent in the spring. I'm really looking forward to making this a part of my time of silence and solitude and reading through the seasons and chapters.

The opening season of the book is autumn, and there is a poem at the beginning, A Prayer for Fall. I especially loved this line and wanted to share it with you.

"O God of harvest moons
and campfire tales,
O God of leafpiles for jumping
and apple cider for sipping,
O God of pumpkin pies
with dollops of cream 
And the swirl of steam
that rises from a cup of
hot coffee in the cool morning,
Be near."

Such a lovely little book. I'm sure I'll be sharing more of it with you in the coming weeks and months.

I sat down this week and wrote out some goals for the coming season and I'll be sharing those with you as well. We'll be celebrating the Autumn Equinox tomorrow night (Friday) even though the 23rd is the official day, Friday just works better for our family. Pretty low key overall. I'm making my mom's Santa Fe Chicken Tortilla Soup and an Apple Crisp for dessert. We'll probably play a game afterwards or maybe watch a movie. Nothing fancy, but still want to acknowledge the changing of the season, especially since it's my favorite! 

How about you? Do you have any plans for celebrating the season? What are some of your favorite ways to spend the glorious days of autumn? I'd love to hear!

Thursday, September 7, 2023

From Grandma's Kitchen - Blackberry Jalapeno Jam

Today was a busy day in my kitchen. I got the last of the tomatoes processed, and now that they are taken care of, I'm moving on to the things I love canning most, jam! I made Blackberry Jalapeno Jam, Cranberry Jalapeno Sauce and Pear Vanilla Jam. Like I said, I was busy!  I'll be sharing all of hese recipes with you in the coming days, but today I'll begin with my absolute favorite, Blackberry Jalapeno! This is wonderful on a biscuit, but even better served with cream cheese and crackers. Just open up a block of cream cheese, spoon a little jam over the top and serve with wheat thins! So good!

6 cups blackberries
1-3 jalapenos, seeded (Hot - do not seed / Med - seed half / Mild - seed all) and chopped
4 cups sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Place all ingredients in a medium-sized, heavy bottomed saucepan. The jam will froth up while cooking so make sure to use a pan that is at least twice the size needed for the ingredients.

Stir together until well combined and crush berries with potato masher while heating over medium heat until the mixture reaches 220F. If you don’t have a thermometer, you can place a small plate in the freezer when you start cooking your jam. To check the jam, place a teaspoon of jam on the plate. If it gels immediately, the jam is ready. If it doesn’t, cook a few more minutes and try again. The jam should hold it's shape on the plate and slide v-e-r-y slowly when tilted.

When your jam is ready, remove from heat and pour into clean pint size jars. Place a lid on top of each jar and screw on band. If you are not canning (preserving) the jam, store in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.

If you are canning, place jars in a canning pot with enough water in it to completely cover the jar. Boil for 10 minutes, remove lid and let sit for an additional 5 minutes. Carefully remove from pot and allow to cool at room temperature for 24 hours. Check for seal. You will hear a pop if the lid sealed properly.

Do you like to can this time of year, and if so, what are some of your favorites? Share in the comments!


Tuesday, September 5, 2023

It's Apple Season!

"By all these lovely tokens, September days are here, 
with summer's best of weather, and autumn's best of cheer."


Ah, September! The beginning of my favorite time of the year! And while the temperatures are still rather warm (I think today was the most humid and uncomfortable day we've had this season), there is still a sense that things are changing. The days are growing shorter, and the leaves are becoming dull. A few of the trees in our yard are even showing some signs of color, and in just three short weeks, Autumn will officially arrive!

Being a seasonal soul, there are certain things that I attribute to each month and season, and in spite of the fact that Starbucks has rolled out their pumpkin spice latte's and frappacino's, for me September is decidely all about apples! I'm not really in pumpkin mode until October. And so in celebration of the turn of the season and to celebrate September, I thought I would share a few recipes and diffuser blends featuriing apples!

First up is Autumn Spiced Jam. This week I made the lovliest Spiced Vanilla Pear Jam (Recipe comng soon), and while I was making it up, I came across this recipe which sounds equally as good! Pears have become a recent favorite of mine, and I've grown to prefer them over apples. But as I said, September begs for apples, and while I don't care for them much raw, I do love them in baked goods and jams and jellies. I added this one to my list of canning and I hope to make up a small batch soon.

1 1/2 lbs. apples, peeled and cored
1 1/2 lbs. pears, peeled and chopped
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 lemon juiced (or 2 tablespoons lemon juice)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
Pinch of sea salt

Heat large saucepan over medium heat and add apples, pears, sugar, lemon juice, vanilla extract and spices. Stir until sugar is dissolved.

Increase heat to medium high to bring mixture to a boil. Continue to boil for 30 minutes or until thickened. If you have a thermometer, boil until the temperature reaches 220 F. Use a potato masher or immersion blender to blend to a smooth consistency. Remove from heat and add a pinch of salt.

Transfer the apple and pear jam to a jar and let cool at room temperature. Store in refrigerator for 1 month.

For longer shelf life:
Remove from heat and ladle into sterilized jars.  Place lids on jars and screw in place. Place in boiling water with at least 1 inch covering for 10 minutes to seal.  Let cool at room temperature for 1 day.  Store in a cool dark place. Once opened, store in refrigerator and use within 1 month.

This next recipe is from my mom's recipe box and the one I've traditionally made for the our dessert for the Autumn Equinox the past two years.  I haven't completely thought through our plans to celebrate the equinox this year, but I do think I may make this up again this year.

3-4 large apples of your choice, peeled and thinly sliced
3 Tablespoons salted butter, melted
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
3 Tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

2/3 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup salted butter,cut into small pieces

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In a medium size bowl combine the crumb topping ingredients with a fork or pastry blender until it resembles small crumbs. Refrigerate while you prepare the apple filling.

Peel and slice apples.  In a small bowl, combine melted butter and flour until well blended. Add lemon juice, milk and vanilla and stir well. Stir in brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt.

Pour butter mixture over apples and toss to coat. Pour apple mixture into an 8x8-inch baking dish and spread into an even layer. Sprinkle crumb topping evenly over the apples.

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream drizzled with caramel sauce, if desired.

And finally, I shared a list of my favorite everyday diffuser blends with you recently, and then this week I came across several that feature apples! I'm eager to give Caramel Apple and Spiced Cider a try this week!

2 drops lavender
2 drops lemongrass
2 drops clove
2 drops cinnamon bark

3 drops bergamot
3 drops stress away
2 drops lime

4 drops thieves
2 drops orange
1 drop nutmeg

4 drops orange
3 drops cinnamon bark
3 drops ginger

4 drops orange
2 drops nutmeg
1 drop cinnamon bark
1 drop clove

2 drops clove
2 drops cinnamon bark
2 drops ginger

Hopefully you've found something here to inspire you. Whether you use one of the diffuser blends, or bake up something warm in the oven, these recipes are sure to leave your home filled with the warm and cozy scent of apples! What are some of your favorite recipes featuring apples? Share in the comments!

Saturday, September 2, 2023

Small Things - 09.02.23

"Life is not, for most of us, a pageant of splendor, but is made up of many small things, rather like an old-fashioned piecework quilt. No two people have the same, but we all have our own, whether it be listening to Beethoven's fifth with a beloved friend, or seeing a neighbor at the back door with a basket of white dahlias. Or after a long, hard day, having the family say, "That was a good supper."


In no particular order, here are six small things that inspired me this week.

1. "By all these lovely tokens, September days are here. With summer's best of weather and autumn's best of cheer." 


This quote has long been one of my favorites for this time of year, but if you're looking for more inspiration for your commonplace book, you'll find others here.

2. September holidays, fun facts and folklore

3. Wondering what's in season this month? Check out this link!

4. I've added thi recipe for Fall Harvest Cider Roasted Chicken recipe to our seasonal rotation!

5. I think I'm going to try my hand at this autumn scented all purpose cleaner.

6. This is a lovely list of 20 Inspiring Fall Activities To Make The Most of the Season

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

You Tube - Favorite Selections For The Season
- The Cozy Autumn Edition

You Tube has become a favorite past time of mine when mainstream television fails me, which is typical. If you've followed me for any length of time then you know that I am a huge classic movie and sitcom television enthusiast, and commonly will choose something from the 50's and 60's over the popular content of today.

But being a seasonal soul as well, I enjoy the offerings of a number of influencers on You Tube and with September arriving this week, I thought I would share a few of my favorites in case you want to enjoy them during the upcoming weeks as well.

Autumn (that is actually her name!), combines graphics created with 3D software enhanced by calm, relaxing sounds and music to create the coziest place on the internet! 

Desi creates vintage and inspired slow living videos, many with a seasonal theme! Here are some of her most recent offerings, but if you search her videos you will find others from previous years.

Angelika is a full time wife and mother who resides in the Canadian Rockies. She share snippets of her cozy daily life as she journeys through the seasons.

Randi is an artist who showcases her talents in whimsical, seasonal videos!

Daria is a filmmaker who resides in the English countryside. Her videos are beautiful and relaxing!

Cozy videos and stories!

I've been a fan for several years now, and always enjoy her offerings! Though she hasn't posted anything autumnish recently, as will all of the accounts I've included in this post, you will find more seasonal content in their archives.

If you already enjoy You Tube, I hope you'll find a few new-to-you favorite in this list! And if you have any other favorite accounts that you follow, especially ones that feature seasonal content, please share in the comments!


Thursday, August 24, 2023

Summer Read Along - The Wind in the Willows
- Chapters 11 & 12 and Final Thoughts

Well once again I am late with this week's post and I apologize. I've been up to my elbows in tomatoes and peppers, canning salsa, rotel tomatoes, and a couple of varieties of jam. I still have a bit more to do, but once I've processed all of the tomatoes, things should slow down a bit. I think next year as I am considering a slow summer, I need to  think more towards June and early July. But once the garden begins to come in and especially in August, things begin to pick up considerably. Thankfully I was able to squeeze in reading the final two chapters of The Wind in the Willows, and to share my final thoughts.

Sadly, I didn't have a favorite passage from either of the final two chapters. Though I enjoyed reading them and coming to the end of the story, so much of the focus was upon Toad, that it lacked the charm that previous chapters dedicated to Mole, Ratty and Badger conveyed, which were much more domestic in nature. 

Toad, and the chapters dedicated to him, were my least favorite of the book. Perhaps it has something to do with my life-long abhorence of frogs and toads, but try as I might, I believe I would have much preferred the story altoghter if Toad had been left out. I found his immaturity, arrogance and selfishness quite off putting. Even though it appears in the end he may have begun to reform, the pessimist in me is still doubtful it will last.

I did find it admirable that for all the trouble he caused, that his friends were so ready and willing to rally round and help him to reclaim his house and that they invested so much time and care to see him turn a new leaf. Their patience with him far exceeded my own. I was ready to kick him out of the story early on.

In spite of Toad's antics, overall I loved the book and I'm already looking forward to read The Willows In Winter at the turn of the year.  Grahame's intricate depictions of the animals homelife and the meals they shared together were quite delightful and I would have been pleased if every chapter had featured them. I shared in a previous post that I often felt as though I was reading two different stories, as the chapters devoted to Toad's troubles seemed like a different story line altogether. But I suppose every good story needs a villian, though I'm not sure that title fully suits Toad. He did prove to be a source of contention for his friends (and me!). Perhaps Grahame was fond of the contrast between the peaceful home life along the river bank and Toad's outrageous adventures. He might have felt it dull to write only of the day to day lives of Mole and Ratty, but I personally would have been content to hear of nothing more!

Overall I thought it was an excellent book, and I think children would especially enjoy it, perhaps even being a bit more amused by Toad that I was! I've truly enjoyed sharing this book with those of you who have joined in. It's been fun to hear other's thoughts and perspectives.  I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts on the final two chapters and on the book as a whole, so feel free to share in the comments! 

And now I'm off to tend to my own domestic duties! My goal is to have all of my deep seasonal cleaning done this week, and then next week I'll tackle my craft room/office, and our front porch needs some tidying after a summer's worth of projects.  Then towards the middle of next week I'll bring out my autumn decorations just in time for the dawn of September which is a week from tomorrow.  We'll have one last cook out Labor Day weekend to tuck summer away, but after that autumn will arrive at our house! 

I'll be back soon to share about all the seasonal happenings, which are many this time of year! I look forward to visiting with you then!