Sunday, December 29, 2013

Our flowers that bloom at Christmas

Some of our favorite flowers that bloom at Christmas time.
The top photo is an Amaryllis we have enjoyed for several years and the 2nd photo is a Cyclamen that lives on our kitchen window sill.
Below is a red Amaryllis of ours close up.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Surprise at our living nativity enactment

Originally uploaded by sbrent

Our church has hundreds of our members volunteer to create an "evening in Bethlehem and living nativity scene", and 1,500 people attended over the two evenings.

There were live animals, a petting zoo, hay ride, photos with Santa and a Bethlehem cafe.

We had a surprise when the young man portraying Joseph went to his knee during the enactment of the Nativity scene in the stable and proposed marriage for real to the young woman portraying Mary.

Wow. She said yes! This was filmed when the evening was being filmed so I got to see the proposal.

Now that is a proposal that will never be topped and will always be remembered.

"And she gave birth to her first born son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger." Luke 2:7

One tiny baby,

One manger stall,

one God

who sent His Son

to show His love for all.

Merry Christmas to One and to All.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Our Christmas Tree

Our new Christmas tree for 2013.

We did something dramatic this year. After decades of buying a real tree each Christmas we bought a beautiful artificial tree. There are pros and cons to each type, I know. This one we bought at Sears, it is seven and a half feet tall, and the needles are a soft green with a modulated color, so it looks very like a real tree.
Yes, the angel on top of the tree is leaning, she wants to lean.
Merry Christmas to each and every one of you, my friends.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The work of Christmas begins

Crèche de Noël, Église de la Visitation, Montréal
Originally uploaded by Marie Berne

Our Prayer:

When the song of the angels is stilled,

when the star in the sky is gone,

when the kings and princes are home,

when the shepherds are back with the flocks,

then the work of Christmas begins:

to find the lost,

to heal those broken in spirit,

to feed the hungry,

to release the oppressed,

to rebuild the nations,

to bring peace among all peoples,

to make a little music with the heart...

Howard Thurman

These words have long been favorites of mine and I read them in Terry Hershey's wonderful email newsletter recently.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Poem of Church Bells of Long Ago

Perissa, Santorini through the church bells of Ag Irini
Originally uploaded by GanMed64

The time draws near the birth of Christ:

The moon is hid; the night is still;

The Christmas bells from hill to hill

Answer each other in the mist.

Four voices of four hamlets round,

From far and near, or mead and moor,

Swell out and fail as if a door

Were shut between me and the sound.

Each voice four changes on the wind,

That now dilate and now decrease,

Peace and goodwill, goodwill and peace,

Peace and goodwill to all mankind.

Voices in the Mist, by Alfred, Lord Tennyson 1809-1892

And thank you to Carol, you sweetie, for writing about my book on your blog today; at Buttercup Counts Her Blessings Be sure and visit Carol and say hi, recently she is blogging about NYC's spectacular holiday decorations.
For ordering info and reviews of my book visit Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Window at Parish Church of St Peter, Frampton Cotterell, England

Window at Parish Church of St Peter, Frampton Cotterell, England
Originally uploaded by DanieVDM

"Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign.
Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel." 
Isaiah 7:14 ASV

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Always Thanksgiving

I give thanks for some blessings every day, even before getting out of bed in the morning. It sets up the day nicely. I also give thanks just before going to sleep, and I know many of you blog friends do that too.
Here is a poem I like, and I hope you like it too.
A Prayer of Thanks
Thank you God for the beauty
around me everywhere,
The gentle rain and glistening dew
the sunshine and the air,
The joyous gift of feeling
the soul's soft whispering voice
That speaks to me from deep within
and makes my heart rejoice.
           Poem written by Helen Steiner Rice

I took the photo of our Thanksgiving color themed flowers today.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Lake in the Foot Hills

Here is a photo my husband took on our vacation in the Sierra foot hills, about 30 miles from Nevada City, California.
I like the cool beauty of the lake and the sparkles on the water.
I hope y'all have an upbeat November.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Autumnal Color Tulip Bouquet

Note the acorn squash and the almost ready yummy persimmons. We like to squeeze lemon juice and a dab of whipped cream on persimmons.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

My Potato Dolls

Ha ha, to me these two potatoes in the back of the strainer have heads and rounded bodies and look like a momma and a child potato doll. I hope they make you smile.
Well they made me smile. I harvested them from my handy dandy potato pail, and after taking this photo my hubby made potato salad with them. I hope that is not too shocking or cannibalistic, to eat these cuties.
If you have been following my blog for a while you know I adore growing potatoes, and these were grown in a five gallon pail.
I promptly took five small taters I had grown and planted them, since I think they grow year round here in California. I feel like a complete peasant woman when I dig up potatoes, a great feeling, and they taste fabulous, very smooth flesh and almost sweet.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Veterans Day

Veterans Day
Originally uploaded by Vox Efx

Few words needed as our Thanks are huge.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

And the winner of the Christmas book is ...

Originally uploaded by bayasaa

Cue the fireworks and celebration, as the winner of a copy of "Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts: Stories to Warm Your Heart and Tips to Simplify Your Holiday" was selected using
Snap That AKA Joyful is the winner. Her blog is and she lives in Canada. Please contact me with your mailing address Joyful!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Christmas Book Give Away

Hi Friends,
I am giving away one copy of my book "A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts: Stories to Warm Your Heart and Tips to Simplify Your Holiday".
This is a pretty book with silvery stars on the cover, full color on each page, and it is full of fun and frugal tips for celebrating Christmas, family activities, ideas for helping your kids learn to share with others in need, delish recipes, our favorite Christmas themed books and movies and also my green thumb tips in each chapter.
How to grow amaryllis, Christmas cactus, myrrh, and how to nurture living Christmas trees, and much more.
My co-authors share lots of super ideas from how to create a Santa chair to their favorite charity to support and the practice of giving children three gifts, as the three kings gave to Jesus.
For a chance to win, leave a comment on this post.
I use to select a winner.
The winner will be announced November 9.
No matter what country you live in you are eligible, dear friends.
Here is a link to lots of reviews, and to where you can buy the book
Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts

Oh, and for a second chance to win, visit our book's blog and leave a comment there too.
Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts blog There are 400 posts there, with many ideas, recipes, etc.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Halloween Zombie Poster From My Grandpa's Show

My grandpa, Elmer Pelkin, was a professional magician in the 1920s, 30s and 40s, and here is a poster from one of his shows. I think it is a fun poster for this Halloween holiday.
Invisible zombies!
Right in tune with all the fervor over zombies on tv now, including The Walking Dead. I am a fan of this tv show though I close my eyes upon occasion when the zombie gore is too much for me.
My grandfather was Elmer Pelkin and he toured the USA east of the Mississippi, with his wife (my grandma Leah) and four of their five children as the troupe of performers.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

My mom and I celebrate long ago

Yes, lo these many years ago, when I was 18 and a senior in high school, I was awarded a full tuition scholarship to the college of my choice and my mom and I were ecstatic. Hugging and jumping for joy. I was blessed with a great mom and a great dad too, and I dearly miss them.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

My prayer garden and a poem

Above is a photo of a Mary garden near our home, and to the right is a photo of my own Mary statue and her pink rose in our garden. I call the rose our Mary Rose.
"My Garden of Prayer"
My garden beautifies my yard
and adds fragrance to the air,
But it is also my cathedral
and my quiet place of prayer.
So little do we realize
that the glory and the power
of Him who made the universe
lies hidden in a flower!
                poem written by Helen Steiner Rice
I bought her book "The Poems and Prayers of Helen Steiner Rice", compiled by Virginia J. Ruehlmann. I like books of poetry, prayer and quotes which group the contents by subject, like this book does. This book has 400 of her poems in it.
Do you have a favorite book of poetry?

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Hydrangea, Peas and Garlic

Originally uploaded by tony4carr

Many gardeners are preparing their gardens for future freezes and letting their gardens sleep in the cold months to come. Not my friends in the Southern Hemisphere of course.

And not me since I live in climate zone 8, where it rarely freezes.

So a few days ago I separated a huge garlic clove in to individual cloves, and planted the cloves pointed side up, in a 3 feet long by 6 inch wide container. The container provides good drainage and prevents our gourmet gophers from eating the tasty garlic.

We especially like the taste of the green leaves which look like chives, and have a light garlic taste. They are delicious in a salad or on a baked potato.

The other planting thing I did was plant Shelling Pea seeds for a hoped for late season crop of peas.

We gardeners live in hope, don't we?

We have room for a small hydrangea and I found a Bombshell Hydrangea in a local nursery. It is smaller than the typical hydrangeas which grow four to five feet tall, and the Bombshell is said to grow two feet tall, or no more than 3 feet tall. I planted it in a chicken wire gopher cage to keep the previously mentioned gophers from chewing up all the roots.

The bush I bought is dormant and because of that doesn't look appealing, and the gal who rang up the sale said "only a real gardener would buy a dormant plant like this one."

I smiled and told her "we gardeners are hopeful people, and I am a Christian, and we are also people of hope."

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Writers' luncheon fun

Our Christian Writers' Luncheon Group met at Carol's new home and enjoyed our brown bag lunches on her deck. These ladies are talented and generous and we always have fun at our luncheons.

Seven of us attended on this beautiful day in this country setting. We have about 12 members but of course rarely can all 12 get together because of travel and family events. Most of these gals have literary agents, many have numerous books published, some are taking their first steps in the writing world, and we write with a love of Jesus in our hearts. And as you can probably tell from the third photo, one of us is expecting her first baby, how exciting is that!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Last Light by Terri Blackstock, suspenseful

Last Light by Terri Blackstock.
What would you do if all electric power went out for a long time? Have you gone without power for a day or a week? If so, you know that is very rough. The Branning family lives in a nice neighborhood in Alabama when the power goes out dramatically. Planes fall from the sky and crash as Doug and his daughter Deni watch in horror.
The scenario gets worse and worse as the power outage goes beyond electricity to all semiconductor chips, which means cars and generators won’t start. Violence breaks out as some people kill for food, and other people like the Branning family follow their Christian beliefs and share and organize neighbors.
There is a murderer active in the neighborhood.
What is causing this end of technology and when will it be fixed? Some fear it is war, others think it is caused by terrorism, solar bursts, an EMP blast caused by an atomic bomb, or an unknown phenomenon from space.
"Last Light" was first published in 2003 before those tv shows like "Under the Dome" and the time is right to read it now, in this newly republished edition.
I think a catastrophe like this could actually happen.
This book had me reading fast as I enjoyed the author’s vision of a world filled with danger, hardship, sharing and love. I am happy to learn there are three more books in this series, and look forward to reading them. I already ordered volume two "Night Light."

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Is Autumn Truly Here? The pumpkins say Yes.

My neighbor's punkins, growing in their front yard. These folks have green thumbs!
The silvery grey plants in front of the punkins are guava bushes. I have one guava so far, with plans for another, and they planted maybe twenty guava bushes. Yum.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Confessions of a Wonder Woman Wannabe book review

Jenny Sulpizio wrote "Confessions of a Wonder Woman Wannabe" where she shares her funny insights on momhood, and ideas about how to avoid her mistakes (we all make a few), and how to organize your days to be a fun and successful mom.
She will bring you giggles and laugh out loud moments interlaced with solid tips on being the best mom you can be.
The chapter titles give you some idea of the fun ahead for readers: "Jesus take the wheel: this girl's outta control", "Did someone say DIY? The Wannabe gets crafty, " "Frazzled and frustrated: this mama's stressed out", and her wise words too, like "Remember, God isn't calling you to be perfect ... He's calling for you to mother your kiddos to the best of your abilities."
Her book is a fun and info packed read for all new moms and for moms of older kiddos too.
Jenny often has give aways on her site at especially in September which is her book launch month.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Two garden vignettes, lily and succulents

Yes friends, this is an experiment to see if I can repost an older post!
Two patio scenes, the top one is of a fiery orange red lily given to me by a friend in 2009 and this lily is a very happy and faithful bloomer. The second photo shows a little scene with quite a few dainty succulents in a pot, one is blooming with lavender flowers, bless its heart.
The subtle colors of succulents are so pretty I bought several and put them in one pot recently. Actually the one that has flowers I already had in a huge pot, so I broke off a piece and put it in this container, but I bought the others. As you may know you can break off a piece of succulent and put it in dirt and it will usually thrive and grow.
And yes, that is my lavender color chair from my previous post. I like the effect of the new paint job, and a fellow blogger inspired me to paint the chair. I linked to her in the previous post.
Happy gardening, painting, crafting and most of all, no matter your passion, happy June.

Friday, September 13, 2013

My favorite bedtime story books

 Do you have favorite bedtime story books to read to your kiddos, or that you recall from your own childhood?
Here is the list of favorite bedtime story books, a list we wrote for our co-authored book “Scrapbook of Motherhood Firsts: Stories to Celebrate and Wisdom to Bless Moms”.

The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown.
Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown.
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak.
The Little House on the Prairie series and The American Girl books.
The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. Great to read aloud at bedtime.
If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff.
Elbert’s Bad Word by Audrey Wood.
Dr. Seuss books.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

In Christ Alone wonderful hymn

Some lyrics from one of my favorite hymns "In Christ Alone", written by Keith Getty (Northern Ireland) and Stuart Townend (England).
I am posting this with love for Judy.

No guilt in life, no fear in death,
This is the power of Christ in me;
From life's first cry to final breath.
Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home,
Here in the power of Christ I'll stand.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Downton Abbey and The Cazalets

I must say, I am a big fan of Downton Abbey. It achieves close to perfection for a tv drama, in my view and I would love to visit Highclere Castle where it is filmed.
Since Downton Abbey does not run 24/7 (insert sobs here) all year, I was pleased to find another tv series, The Cazalets. We borrowed the DVDs from our local public library and enjoyed watching it. A nice surprise is that the patriarch of the family is played by Hugh Bonneville, also the head of the Downtown Abbey family.
The six episodes were filmed in 2001 for the BBC, and cover the middle/upper class Cazalet family and their estate in Sussex. The time is 1937 to 1942. The house employs plenty of servants but is not at all as grand as the home in Downton Abbey.
I read a recent interview with Elizabeth Jane Howard who wrote the 4 books the Cazalet series is based on, and she is now a vibrant looking 90. The Telegraph shows a photo of her, at 90 she is gorgeous, strong looking, uses a wooden cane and is holding a tiny brown cigarette. Even better, she is writing book 5 which will answer lots of my questions about the people in the tv series and what happened next.
The first book of the Cazalet Chronicles is The Light Years, which I want to read.
Have you read the Cazelet books or seen the shows?

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

And the winner of "Tracing Our Footsteps" by Wei Wei is ...

Hi Friends. I went to and it selected the winner, number 9 of the commenters, who is Dee of One Foot Out of the Box blog. Dee, I left a comment on your blog telling you to send me your snail mail address.
The book is a memoir written by my friend Wei Wei and the title is "Tracing Our Footstep."
Thank you to all who left comments.
On about Dec. 1 this year I will give away a copy of the first book I co-authored, "Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts: Stories to Warm the Heart and Tips to Simplify Your Holiday."
Stay tuned!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

A Memoir I Recommend and Book Give Away

My friend Wei Wei wrote a memoir "Tracing Our Footsteps: 15 Tales of Hope, Struggle and Triumph" that centers on her relationship with her dad and his move to the United States from China following his daughter who attended college in the USA and then moved here. He is a widower and dearly loves China, and Wei reconnects with him when he travels to California and moves in with Wei, her husband, and their young daughter.
Wei will send one copy of her book free to some lucky reader of this blog; to enter just leave a comment on this blog post.
There are 15 chapters and I read one, and then another and another, since her story is compelling and well written. As I saw how big the culture shock was for her dad, I wondered, will he stay in California with Wei or return to his roots in China.
I asked her some questions and I share her answers below.

1. What is your book about?
This humorous, moving, and rich memoir is about my efforts to help my dad to fit into a new environment and to re-establish our relationship. It focuses on ordinary, but profound experiences that a father and a daughter shared, reflecting upon their personal values, perspectives, and priorities during a five-year period and offers the reader insight into the life and struggle of a contemporary immigrant family.
2.   Lots of people say they have a book they want to write, yet you went ahead and did it. What was your inspiration for writing this book?
The idea began with a tribute to my aging father in mind. However, as I continued to write the memoir, I was reminded of similar stories told to me by other people.  I suddenly realized that what I was writing was not just my tale about my family.  It was really a story of a journey shared across various age, race, gender or cultural backgrounds. In a way, it was universal.
3. Anything else you want to share?
I appreciate all those who have helped, including my family, reviewers, friends and my publisher.
Here is a part of what I wrote in a review of Wei's book: Wei is gifted at painting word pictures, like this one about her father's love of eating Chinese noodles: "One cannot try to substitute or improve upon a simple bowl of noodles that is steeped in the sauces of memory and culture." 
The paperback ($14) and kindle are available on Amazon

I will select the winner using on August 20 and the author will mail you your very own copy of her compelling memoir.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Potatoes in a Pail

This potato plant and its handsome green leaves prompts the question from people: what is that plant?
Yep, folks, potatoes are growing in a five gallon pail on our patio.
When the greenery turns yellow it is time to gently dig out the potatoes.
I posted about this a while back and how it makes me feel like a peasant woman when I harvest potatoes, and very connected to the earth.
I did not plant this batch but apparently I left a potato behind when I harvested last year.
For me planting in a pail has several advantages: the soil has excellent drainage and no gophers dine on them!
I also have a small potato plant growing in our garden in the soil, also a volunteer from an overlooked potato from the previous harvest. However, the pail plant is much more vigorous.
Just put holes in the bottom of a big container, I use a 5 gallon pail, and put in 5 inches of potting soil and a few (maybe 5 to8) potato starts. I bought organic Yukon Gold starts two years ago. Then cover with 3 inches of soil and when the leaves push through, add three more inches of soil, and keep doing this till the pail is full. The top layer should be about 5 inches of soil.
The blue potatoes interest me now. Maybe next season I will buy some.
I like with gardening that you can never know it all, and the choices of things to plant are limitless.
In answer to two questions: best planting time is spring or early summer, and in temperate climates with little or no freezes like where I live, you can plant in midsummer for a fall harvest. 
From 4 little potato sprouts in a pail you may get 20 medium to large potatoes, and some smaller ones too. One potato start can yield 20 or 30 potatoes, I plant extra starts to be sure some will succeed. If you plant lots of potato starts out in your garden you can see how you can harvest hundreds of potatoes.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The house of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Concord MA

The house of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Concord MA
Originally uploaded by pablo.sanchez

Emerson lived in this house from 1835 to 1882 and here is a quote of his that I like.

"We do not live an equal life, but one of contrast and patchwork; now a little joy, then a little sorrow, now a sin, then a generous or brave action."
When I was a child my uncle gave me some old editions of books written by Emerson and I have admired his writing and his character ever since. Emerson lived from 1803 to 1882.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Favorite Movies

Just for fun let's share our favorite movies.
I think you can build a bit of a picture of someone by knowing their favorite movies, tv shows, or books.
Here is a list of my favs.

The Way  Martin Sheen, Emilio Estevez
The Passion Mel Gibson
Silver Linings Playbook
The Mighty Wind, also Best in Show, great ensemble cast and director
Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Midnight in Paris
Sea Biscuit
African Queen
Blind Side
Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
The Thin Man, the whole series with Nick and Nora Charles and dog
Bringing Up Baby
Lost Boys
Never Ending Story
Master and Commander

Lincoln starring Daniel Day-Lewis
and thanks to Laurie's comment, I am adding Christmas Story (the young boy wanted a Red Rider rifle). I also add The King's Speech.

Monday, July 8, 2013

My Happy List Part One

On June 11 Lavender Dreamer posted her Happy List, and I like the idea. See her list here
Of course, my list is potentially so long I could do a happy list for very many posts, ha ha, so that's why I call this part one.

You could probably guess that any pretty flower is on my list, and also any fragrant flower. The flowers in the vase are Canterbury Bells I grew. They typically have flowers the second year so we learn patience as we wait. This blue color is my favorite, they also come in white and pale pink.

Delicious veggies that grow in my garden.

Any of thousands of books and authors. I recently bought and read Rhys Bowen's "Her Royal Spyness" which has an upbeat heroine, Georgie, 34th in line to the British throne.

Horses. They are so graceful and often are so kind. The book "Horse Heaven" conveys a horse's thoughts quite well, I think.

Let me know if you decide to post a Happy List so I will be sure to visit and read it.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Abraham Lincoln and Happy Birthday America

July 4 2010 Chapel Hill Fireworks (52)
Originally uploaded by tommaync

Thinking about July 4 here is Abraham Lincoln, from his First Inaugural Address.
“Intelligence, patriotism, Christianity, and a firm reliance on Him, who has never yet forsaken this favored land, are still competent to adjust, in the best way, all our present difficulty.” – Abraham Lincoln
My husband and I watched "Lincoln", starring Daniel Day-Lewis in a tour de force performance, which is what he often does, and I give this movie a 10 out of 10. I listened to each word, it was that engrossing. It also reminded me that all the political dysfunction today by our President, Congressmen and Senators was occurring then too, so maybe there is hope after all.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Shadows, trees and beach photos

Scenes of a walk I took yesterday in a park near our home.
As you can see I like the pattern of shadows.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Dreaming in the Garden

Sometimes I gather the chaise lounge cushion, set it on the lounge in dappled shade, find a book to read and head out to the patio.
At the foot of the chaise lounge this is what I see.

Do you like to relax on your patio or lawn, or anywhere special in your yard like I do?
A cool drink is always welcome too, and any favorite book.
Can you see the blue bird playing a saxophone? I got him in honor of my dad who played alto saxophone and clarinet, and earned money for expenses while attending college by playing in a jazz group. 
The yellow lilies are tiger lilies and they have tiny brown spots on their petals. I planted them in honor of my mom, as she always grew them. The tiny gnome sitting on a pot edge has a story; he lay for many years under a cover of leaves in my garden. Last month I saw his blue legs and thought it was a long lost toy. But no, it is a garden gnome, returned to sit with his plants on my patio.
Happy Garden Dreaming.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

I am on Grandma Yellow Hair's Blogazine today

I am excited to be on Maggie AKA Grandma Yellow Hair's blogazine today. She is definitely worth a visit and has a wild sense of humor which I love.
Her blog is Just Between You and Me and my contribution is at

I share about how I co-authored 2 books with gals I met in an online Christian writers' group.
Our most recent book is full of tips for moms, and proof that our two adult sons still love us is that my hubby, sons and I just returned from a lodge and camping trip where a good time was had by all involved.

Bicycle riding, a bag of 55 fresh raw oysters picked from the bay right that minute before we bought them, a roaring campfire, and s'mores were part of the fun. I read a book while two of my guys rode bicycles (mountain bikes) and one rode his new motorcycle. The book I read is "Her Royal Spyness" by Rhys Bowen.
Hey it is June already, how did that happen?
The summer looks promising here, and I hope for you too.