Sunday, December 30, 2012

delayed postcards

My life needs to catch up and it needs to be soon too. The holidays are quickly dissipating and routine is cranking up. My last, hopefully,  time to share a bit of our days of Christmas.

* What kept us extremely busy was Charlotte's part of Clara in her ballet troupe's annual performance of the Nutcracker. Ways to put lasting curls into her hair was a daily quest.
*My sister and I took a day trip to Virginia to visit the aunts, my Daddy's sisters, and a basket of gifts accompanied us
*One evening my husband and I were sitting in the sunroom and the reflection of lights were too beautiful for words, SNAP
*Eli and Charlotte spent one entire morning constructing a gingerbread house
*We hosted a Widow Luncheon at our house on the Friday before Christmas. My family served these precious ladies and we had loads of fun playing games too.
* Christmas cookie baking has become sparser at my house. But we still managed to bake something fun. This year Charlotte chose Gingerbread cookies and decorated them with white icing. This icing is simple to make and I love the shine.
*Claire's mother, Nancy, invited us to their home for lunch and then we made a trip to town and toured a dry good store with a long line of history
*Homemade Nativity in sunlight
*the last performance of the Nutcracker

Thursday, December 27, 2012

much to ponder

It was Christmas after all.

And even though it is days later when I am in the throes of wrapping paper and Christmas sweets and leftovers of the feasting kind, still...I am immersed in Christmas goodness.

Which is very evident as I download my photos and smile.

"But Mary kept all these thing, and pondered them in her heart." Luke 2:19

This verse has been one of my favorites of all the Christmas verses read and reread in the Bible. A woman and a mother, roles she was given by her Creator. Yet He chose her, Mary, to be the mother of the Savior, her Savior too. She had  much to ponder.

But as women and mothers, we without doubt have much to ponder too. And I shall spend some of these slower days before the New Year pondering, getting my heartfilled.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas morning, afternoon, and evening

"A jumble of impressions, bright fragments of the last twenty-four hours, jostled together in her tired mind like the tiny pieces of colored glass in a child's kaleidoscope."
Miss Read
The Christmas Mouse

Up early with Claire and Witt arriving just as they said they would.  Hot coffee poured into Christmas mugs. Then Charlotte found Baby Jesus and placed him in the manger. Christmas morning began.

In the afternoon, I took a walk with my second son. The one who is planning on leaving the first of the year to go to North Vietnam to teach English. So glad for the times we are able to spend together.

We dressed for dinner. I wore a  black velvet skirt and black swooped-neck top. A vintage silver watch,  a gift from my husband this Christmas, cupped my wrist. All seven of us gathered around the dining room table with candles glowing in glass globes. We ate a delicious meal of prime rib and yorkshire pudding with brussel sprouts, carrots, and spicy french green beans.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A quiet moment

A yarn of steel-blue wool being knitted into fingerless mitts for Charlotte's violin teacher who ventures out into chilly winter mornings to milk her Alpine goats.
A much favored Christmas book filled with short stories of coziness and warmth by Miss Read.
And a cup of hot tea, all being enjoyed before the twinkling lights.

Knitting and reading with Ginny's Yarn along .

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Memories must take time, 
and the choice of a memory always means
 that a negative choice is made not to use the time another way. 
We are finite, and in our finiteness and limitedness 
we can never choose to do something without choosing not to do something else.  
There is usually the need to put aside ten other things to do one special thing.
Edith Schaeffer
What Is A Family

Saturday, November 17, 2012

violin lessons

Ever since Charlotte was very young I would whisper in her ear,

"Some day you will play a string instrument...a cello, or a violin perhaps."

The day finally arrived, along with the my house.

The plan was that I  might possibly learn how to play some too. I did learn. I learned that I did not prefer the violin as my instrument of choice. Something about the neck position, and even though I could read the music, getting my fingers to cooperate on those strings was another matter altogether.

On Thursday mornings you will find me blissful as I observe my daughter learning to play this beautiful instrument. 

But I feel somewhat like I must look into the camera and make a disparaging statement,

"I am a violin student dropout."

Friday, November 16, 2012

"Not to give way, in moments of fatigue or sadness, to the temptation to slacken my efforts; to remain valiant at whatever sacrifice...Never may any soul hold back discouraged from mine because agitations and worldly complications have hidden the way; may my soul be as smiling as my lips toward all and may Thy Word, O GOD, inspire my humble word and make it fruitful."
Elisabeth Leseur

Who would have guessed or even imagined? A myriad of emotions due to very real events have seasoned my days this month of October. I want to think of them as salt that seasons well, but salt downright first. The  fruit must ripen over time, unfurl gradually.

I traverse amongst the quotidian loveliness of: school, learning along with my children; householding, cleaning, cooking, laundry; personal maintenance, daily stretching exercises and walks and maintaining good nutrition options; extracurricula activities filling my "extra" spaces everywhere I turn. 

Prayer, reading and meditation in His Word, along with scripture memory are vital, the necessary food and water to nourish every inch of my life.

I found this draft as I was doing a little housekeeping on my blog. I remember those October days and decided I would publish this post, however late. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

knitting and reading

*violet fingerless mitts for Charlotte
*biography on loan from a friend
*both good

And also joining up with Ginny's has been too long.

 Feels good.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

tear drops

We buried one of my best friend's daughter yesterday. She was twenty-eight years old.

 Last Saturday afternoon I received a phone call on my cell phone as I was on my way home from grocery shopping that she had been admitted to ICU in another town. Sunday morning the phone rang and I knew, even though my brain was screaming I did not want to believe it was true. I hurriedly got dressed and rode the one hour and forty minutes to be with my friend. My heart was hurting so bad, I could not even begin to grasp the level and degree of her pain and anguish, or imagine that I ever could. But I knew that there was a dire need to put my arms around my friend and just hold on tight.

Six days we gathered with family and friends at the small country church with beautiful stained-glass windows to remember this young woman with the contagious smile, as she once had been before the troubles came and ripped her away.

We walked through grass that was damp and stuck to our shoes, just as if it was charged with static electricity, and we made our way to the far corner of the country cemetery. Another song was sung, more scripture was read and one last prayer was given.

Then after a meal set out in the fellowship hall by the ladies in the church, my friend and I arrived home to my house.

A florist shop appeal awaited us in the sun room. We sat down with mugs of Constant Comment tea and each other's company. It was the best we could do at the moment.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

stacks of books

I can read just about anywhere. And at some time or another in a variety of places, I probably have held a book in my hand lost in the written word while the world turns around me. Consequently, a stack of books being currently read resides in my life at all times.

Here is my present stack.

  Within a week's time each of these books will be picked up so that I might read a portion or a chapter. Slow and steady work at times, but rich and serving a purpose. All but two of these books I am revisiting this fall. I have no problem rereading certain books. I find I need the reminders, the jewels of wisdom, the positive influence of a good story in my days. My mind is stretched to claim new territory in areas I have gathered little, but perhaps need further plantings or at least a little weeding. Inspiration drives me forward with the new knowledge gained through a book read for the first time or it might just happen to be a piece of fiction read with the whole purpose being to simply entertain.

This is Charlotte's stack. 
 She enjoys taking her bath, donning a nightgown and listening to me read 100 Cupboards to her almost ever night. The other two she will either read alone, I will listen to her read aloud or she will chose for me to read aloud to her while she sits contently by my side. 
All good.

What books are currently in your hand or on your stacks?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

home educated

"I enjoy doing housework, ironing, washing, cooking, dishwashing. Whenever I get one of those questionnaires that ask what is your profession, I always put down housewife. It's an admirable profession, why apologize for it. You aren't stupid because you are a housewife. When you are stirring the jam you can read Shakespeare."     ~Tasha Tudor~

I love this quote by Tasha Tudor. One evening for supper I was cooking what I consider a very tasty and humble meal of salmon cakes along side a pot of crowder peas. It wasn't Shakespeare that I was reading that particular time, but an excellent record of Roman History that precedes the ongoing Latin lessons.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

herbs in my cookies

It's a shortbread cookie really with a hint of basil and lime juice. Crisp along the edges but very tasty and like most shortbread-type cookies, not very sweet.

Afternoon tea time.

Lime-Basil Cookies

1 cup flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 stick of butter, chilled and cut into cubes
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
1 1/2 teaspoon grated lime zest
1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice
pinch of salt

Put all ingredients into a food processor and pulse until the dough clumps together. Roll into 1" balls and place onto baking sheet. Smash the cookie down with a "sugar-floured" flat surface. (I used a ramekin dish.)

Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven  for about 10 minutes. The edges will brown quickly. Cool.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


 The brewing of tisanes (pronounced tea-zahns) have crossed over into a small bit of my my day. A glass teapot given to me by a friend, I have discovered, works beautifully for making a variety of herbal teas. The center glass strainer is helpful with keeping most of the plant matter intact.

My first tisanes were prepared this summer with an infusion of dried raspberry leaf brewed for around ten minutes then while the tea was still hot I added about one teaspoon of honey. After straining for the few tiny bits of leaves, it was set  into the refrigerator to cool. This is a delicious and refreshing drink, but I would not hesitate to drinking it hot either.

Lemon Verbena is once more thriving in my herb garden. The leaves of this herb are extremely pungent and it is an ongoing pleasure to brush against them while scavenging and harvesting other herbs. Years ago I stripped the slender leaves and concocted a lemon verbena jelly that turned out lemony and sweet, perfect for serving at tea parties, smeared onto a scone, or even for a topping on a pound cake. But I digress, back to tisanes.

 The other day I brewed a handful of fresh lemon verbena leaves and served the tea hot, since the leaves were whole no straining was necessary.  In my opinion this tea did not even need a sweetener, but honey would have worked fabulously as well.

Tisanes can be made with an assortment of leaves, bark, flowers seeds, berries or roots. May I suggest mint, lavender, cinnamon bark, or echinacea root.

Monday, September 17, 2012

focaccia among the daisies

The splendid turn of the weather has us taking more of our meals outside these September days.

 A list of prepositions are being memorized. I especially love the "a..." ones,
(about, above, across, against, along, amid, among, around, atop)

Saturday, September 8, 2012

inside, outside, in the night

Not exactly the twilight zone, but my photos certainly do have that unfocused look. I was simply enjoying the evening so much I wanted to make a few tangible memories to store.

It was an abiding summer night. We paused for a spell.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

the preparation of chicken stock

If you have ever wanted to make your own chicken stock and have never attempted to give it a try, I am going to tell you the simplest way to make it happen right in your very own kitchen. After you have tasted the difference in the flavor of chicken stock created" homemade" from the boxed or canned stock bought in the grocery store you will think it is every bit worth the extra effort and time.

 Firstly, put the chicken carcass and any extra bones in a pot and cover with water. Then add celery, carrots, onions, bay leaf, parsley, salt and pepper. Bring this to a boil, lower and ladle off any foam that has risen to the surface. Simmer, uncovered, for about 45 minutes or so. I truthfully go about my business and when the vegetables are done I remove the bones and carcass and strain the stock through a sieve. The stock is then set to cool to room temperature and placed in the refrigerator overnight. I strain the stock once more then I either use it in a yummy soup or risotto dish right then or put it into containers to freeze.

A bouquet garni made with some fresh herbs is also a nice addition. This one was strung together with parsley, sage, and thyme.

Friday, August 31, 2012

salvia officinalis

"Why should a man die whilst sage grows in his garden?
(English proverb)

I have yet to find a good spot for my sage to flourish in my herb garden. Every year I patiently try new places to set a sage plant. It lives but it remains good only where the new growth comes in, then it becomes rather pitiful in state. 

But Claire's plant is lush, healthy and beautiful to behold. She gifted me with a bunch a few week's ago which is seen drying here to be used in my chicken dishes cooked and simmered during the garden's winter sleep.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

foods to talk about

There was a time that preserving food was a common, ordinary part of my summer. I would go to the garden every morning to gather its munificence. Then I would can, pickle, jelly or dry the produce from our vegetable garden or fruit trees on an ongoing basis. The hot water bath and pressure canner stayed busy on those days.

 I am revisiting these arts in a more purposeful way this summer of 2012. I must say I do love it. The process of preparing the fruits and the storage that follows makes me so satisfied. My eyes gravitate toward the "put up" jars stocking a section of my pantry.

I have Claire to thank for her suggestion for us to can tomatoes one afternoon last week. In a few of my quart jars I added onion, thyme and bay leaf for the distinct purpose and the comforting thought that is merely created with the opening up of a mason jar, its contents poured into a pan and after it is heated to almost hot, a dash of cream and a dollop of pesto is added and a delicious winter's lunch is ready to be served.
 I call this summer in a jar.

 Witt and Claire's apple trees have provided us all with plenty of apples to eat raw, to bake into heavenly desserts, or to dry in a dehydrator.  The sharing of cherry tomatoes from a friend enabled me to roast them until they are now "candy" worthy. My absolute favorite thing to do with them is to top them onto a little corn cake, that has been smeared with mayo, a piece of bacon, and the leaf of fresh basil. These little appetizers where initially made for Witt and Claire's rehearsal dinner  held on the edge of a rose garden.  The recipe for this appetizer can be found here, one of my favorite cookbooks by far. I especially like how the corn cakes can be made ahead of time and I have discovered they freeze super well too.

When I was pregnant with Charlotte, I craved tabbouleh. I would stop by the whole food stores in my area and would come home and think nothing of eating an entire bowlful with crackers and calling it lunch. This summer's growth of mint and parsley allowed me to make some of my own tabbouleh. It feels so healthy and right eating this food, and while I might not crave it anymore, eating it still brings back some lovely feelings and my taste buds are so pleased.

A batch of cream fraiche was made this week to be served in this dish, a Laura Caulder chicken recipe she calls Coq Au Reisling. The sauce is amazing!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

a.m. solitude glow

It was Saturday morning and I was home alone. The children were still out of town visiting with their Grandmother while my husband was attending a mens' breakfast at the church. I have enjoyed three straight days of Home Solitude, during the day hours anyway. Of course, my husband returned home to me in the evening ...thankfully he returned home to me.

* purplish- hued liriope blooms aside a amethyst-colored candle left from the night's before gathering with Witt and Claire
           *a basketful full of apples, I love the residue leaves
                          *whimsical shadow of me, in the morning... I was still lingering in my pink nightgown.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Sunday's Rest

This past week as I was listening to an interview Marvin Olasky did with Ann VosKamp at Patrick Henry College I jotted down a few of the things that she said. One was (this is fairly close to her exact words),

"Creativity is not mined from within; Creativity is bestowed from on High by God."

The embroidering of a silk table runner in progress.

You can watch the interview here.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

dipping into summer

I just scurried in from outside where I was battening down the hatches in light of the approaching storm. A summer afternoon t-storm; we have  been having one almost every day. The daisies dip and bow, the terrace umbrella shuffles, the trees swing right and left, the wind whips and leaves nothing untouched as the thunder rumbles finally advancing and bringing in the welcomed rain. I think of t-storms as the houseguest that breezes in leaving good things behind without overstaying their visit.


 Rasberry- leaf tea infusions sweetened with a teaspoon of honey and heightened with a mint leaf.

Blueberries on pancakes, with the discovering of a little stem attached.

(This post was written sometime a while back, but not posted for some reason...perhaps I was called away...imagine that! I am not sure of the date, but we were experiencing wonderful t-storms almost daily)

Friday, August 3, 2012

look what I found while browsing...

Summer time attire
Loose fitting shifts in colors sewn on cotton fabrics imitating the colors of melons and tomatoes.
        Scooped back
                   Bare feet
Though I would not fancy the hat.

at the shore cum amica mea

So it was that on Thursday afternoon we headed out to the beach, two young girls (Charlotte and her friend), me and my friend, and Rancher, ...