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!


Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Summer Read Along: The Wind in the Willows
- Chapters 9 & 10


I apologize again this week for being late with our Summer Read Along post. Our garden has kept me extra busy the past few weeks, and in addition to that, this week I've added my autumn cleaning to the agenda. I'm different in that I'm more inspired to deep clean and get my house ready for the change of seasons and the upcoming holidays towards the end of August than I am in the spring, when most people do their annual deep clean.  I do it then, too, but not as thoroughly as in autumn.  So with that, let's jump right in to my favorite quotes and passages from chapters 9 & 10.


"To all appearances the summer's pomp was still at fullest height, and although the tilled acres green had given way to gold, though rowan's were reddening, and the woods were dashed here and there with a tawny fierceness, yet light and warmth and colour were still present in undiminshed measure, clean of any chilly premonitions of the passing year. But the constant chorus of the orchards and hedges had shrunk to a casual evensong from a few yet unwearied performers; the robin was beginning to assert himself once more; and there was a feeling in the air of change and departure. The cuckoo, of course, had long been silent; but many another feathered friend, for months a part of the familiar landscape and its small society, was missing too, and it seemed that the ranks thinned steadily day by day."

Such a beautiful scene is painted in this passage, a familiar one. Just in the past weeks I could feel it, as the earliest trees have already begun to dim. As the passage says, there is still much warmth and colour and not a hint of winter, but you can feel it just on the horizon on a cool August morning which have been plentiful in our area this summer, autumn is near!

"There he got out the luncheon basket and packed a simple meal, in which, remembering the stranger's origin and preferences, he took care to include a yard of long french bread, a sausage of which the garlic sang, some cheese which lay down and cried, and a long-necked, straw-covered flask containing bottled sunshine shed and garnered on far southern slopes. Thus laden, he returned with all speed, and blushed for pleasure at the old seaman's commendations of his tastes and judgement, as together they unpacked the basket and laid out the contents on the grass by the roadside."

I have always loved a good picnic, and this one sounds perfectly charming! I think I could easily re-create this simple menu and love every bite of it! It sounds delicious, doesn't it? I especially love the description of "liquid sunshine". Just this week I made lemonade from scratch for the first time in my life, and it did indeed taste just like "liquid sunshine". 


I hate to sound like a broken record, but with only two chapters now left, I am losing hope that Toad will reform. For as much as I have loved this book in some ways the chapters that focus on Toad feel like they belong in another story. So sadly, I don't have a favorite passage from this chapter.  Here's hoping that by the end I'll feel differently.

Leave your thoughts and favorite quotes and passages in the comments. I'll meet you there!

Wednesday, August 9, 2023

My Favorite Everyday Diffuser Blends

Today I have a fun little thing to share with you! I love my diffuser and I get a lot of use out of it! I started out several years ago with a number of autumn blends, and then of course Christmas. But over time I've come across a number of blends that just smell homey and cozy to me, and they are the blends that I use most frequently.  I still add in some seasonal favorites here and there, but since warm vanilla, nutmeg, hazelnut and ginger scents are my year-round favorites, many of the seasonal blends I love best are similar! I do lean a bit more toward peppermint and pine during Christmas, but I love both of them too, so it would not be out of the question for me to diffuse either of them in the middle of July. But these cute little 3x5 cards are my go-to blends and if you were to come to my house you would almost always find one of the sweetly scenting the air!  I hope you'll enjoy them, just click on the link below.

Tuesday, August 8, 2023

Summer Read Along: The Wind In The Willows
Chapters 7 & 8

My friends, I do apologize that this weeks post is late. I have been a bit under the weather for a few days, just upper respiratory stuff, and then yesterday a family member was diagnosed with the dreaded virus. I was just commenting only a few days before that it had been some time since I had known anyone to have had it, and then it hit right in our own household. That combined with tomatoes coming in hot this week has kept me very busy in the kitchen and it has been difficult to find time to post this weeks entry.  But, now that I have a few minutes to look through my notes, I'm ready to share.


Well, after being completely disappointed with the previous chapter, Chapter 7 more than made up for it. I have SO many thoughts, but as time is a bit hard to come by at the moment, I'll try to condense it. 

"The willow wren was twittering his thin little song, hidden himself in the dark selvedge of the river bank. Though it was past ten o'clock at night the sky still clung to and retained some lingering skirts of light from the departing day, and the sullen heat of the torrid afternoon broke up and rolled away at the dispersing touch of the cool fingers of the short midsummer night."

This passage paints such a familiar picture. The many nights this summer I've looked out onto our lawn and the light from the moon was shining so brightly it looked almost daylight, the "silent silver kingdom".  I have many memories of such nights from throughout my lifetime. Something about shadows cast on the ground by the moon has always entranced me. The sound of the crickets and frogs, and the fireflies dancing about is simply magical. So I was delighted to be immediately caught up in the scene in this chapter, but then, it gets even better.

I struggle to know how to put into words the way this chapter moved me. I think it stems from an understanding of places in nature being "holy". It's something I have definitely experienced at times, when I am near compelled to take off my shoes because they place where I am standing is holy ground.  In their search for the young otter, Rat stated;

"Here in this holy place, here if anywhere, surely we will find him"

In my own experiences it has never been a person I am in search of, but unexpetedly in these "thin places" I have at times, found God. It has led me to believe as this phrase states, that if I am seeking to be close to God, it is surely in nature that I will find Him.

"Then suddenly the Mole felt a great awe fall upon him, an awe that turned his muscles to water, bowed his head and rooted his feet to the ground. It was no panic terror, indeed he felt wonderfully at peace and happy, but it was an awe that smote and held him, and without seeing He knew that it could only mean that some august Presence was very, very near."

Again, I am so moved by this passage, because it is so familiar.  The places in my life that have moved me to awe and wonder and the sense of holiness surrounding me there.  Places like Memorial Church in Historic Jamestown, Washington National Cathedral and so many places in the Blue Ridge Mountains and along the parkway, too many to list.  One of my favorite places is Thunder Ridge, which is an overlook that is about a twenly minute drive from our house. We've visited there several times this summer and it never ceases to amaze me. It just feels holy.

This entire chapter was just so lovely, the demi-god caring for the little otter until he was found, reminded me of this scripture.

“If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won't he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders."

Luke 15:4-7

I have to say that I also now have a longing to be in a little boat on the river at night, though to be perfectly honest, I doubt I would ever be brave enough! 

Also, I was interested in what a willow wren sounded like, from the first passage I shared. The internet did not turn up anything by that exact name, although a willow wren was featured in a short story by The Brothers Grimm. What did turn up was a willow warbler, so perhaps they are similar? Anyway, it does have a sweet sound. You can listen to it, here.

Which leads us to  . . .


You might recall that I shared in my post last week I was unimpressed with Toad, and I'm sorry to say that this made him no more endearing.  I find him selfish and annoying and I keep waiting for him to grow up, which I am beginning to think isn't going to happen. From the wallowing and self pity to his decision to disguise himself and break out, and the preying upon the charities of others, it's all very unappealing and does not seem in keeping with the other characters in the story.  I'm interested in knowing Grahame's reasons for creating him, and I keep hoping that by the end of the story he will have done something to redeem himself.

That being said, there was one passage that I liked when the gaolers daughter brought Toad a tray of tea and toast;

"The smell of that buttered toast simply talked to Toad, and with no uncertain voice; talked of warm kitchens, of breakfasts on bright frosty mornings, of cosy parlour firesides on winter evenings, when ones ramble was over and slippered feet were plopped on the fender, of the purring of contented cats and the twitter of sleepy canaries."

It does seem that Toad has a deep love for the comforts of home, but can't seem to help himself from getting into the kind of trouble that takes him from it. In spite of this, these happy depections of home are the stuff this book is made of, and I am relishing in them!

And now it's your turn. Did you like these two chapters, and why? What were some of your favorite quotes and passages? Please share in the comments!  I look forward to meeting with you here again next Monday for our discussion of Chapters 9 & 10, which I've already peeked ahead and found another chapter is devoted to Toad! I really want to like him, so here's hoping!