Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas

"Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest heaven and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.'

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another 'Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about'." Luke 2:13-15.

In the Annunciation the angel spoke to Mary "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God." Luke 1:35

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

More Christmas Bits and Bobs 2015

The above blanket is ever so soft, and I bought it this month to keep on the sofa and cover with for reading or tv watching.
Santa on left above is hand painted by my friend and this photo shows it more clearly than in the previous blog post photo. And I have to smile when I see Surfing Santa with his Ho Ho Ho surfboard, sent to me by my sister.

Our nutcracker collection. The one third from the left is the cowardly lion from the Wizard of Oz, but I think of him as Aslan from the Chronicles of Narnia. He is a cute lion.
Do you have a Christmas collection of something?

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Christmas Bits and Bobs

The first two decorative pieces are hand painted by a friend of mine and are gifts from her. Can you see in the photo how there are subtle color changes and touches in the Santa? The artist flew to Russia and eastern Europe to take classes in the art of decorative folk painting and taught it here in the United States. See Pinocchio? My friend was an older home bound lady and I met her when I volunteered to visit her in her home and bring her library books. Among many touches of beauty, her home had a piano and a grandfather clock artistically painted in folk art styles. Pinocchio is a nutcracker as is the photo above, of a knight or one of the three Musketeers. He is standing on his book "Knights of the Realm."
I write the year on the bottom of each nutcracker so I know when I got it. My oldest one may be from 1997.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Our Thanksgiving 2015

I announced the winner of the two ornaments, Wendy at Ravenwood Whimsies, and sent her an email.
Here are photos of our Thanksgiving.
I used our rather new cloth autumn leaves tablecloth and our white plates with gold trim that we have had for decades.
This photo above is of me and my darling husband and was taken by our older son. We toasted with Freixenet champagne. We like Extra Brut and Brut which are dry, and this brand is an excellent price for the quality.
A fun mixed bouquet and lots of joy. I hope your week is joyful too, as we head toward Christmas.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Christmas ornament blog hop

I am giving away these two ornaments for the blog hop ornament giveaway organized by  Brenda at
The Rusty Thimble  They are each heart shapes, one is cloth of a reindeer and one is metal of Santa Claus.

To enter to win these, please leave a comment on this post and I will select the winner using and I will announce the winner on December 8. Make sure I have a way to reach you, via email or your blog. Because I did not make my ornament (they are store bought) I am giving away two instead of one. I know many of the hand made ornaments are super gorgeous.
There are 15 bloggers giving away ornaments so just visit Brenda's blog with the link I gave above to find links to all of us and many chances to win ornaments.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Random Thoughts

Above is the photo I took of Petra in Jordan. Note how tiny the people are which shows you the scale of the place.

Several bloggers I know do Random Thoughts posts, and I saw one that Betsy at My Five Men wrote which gave me the idea.
I visited the rose red stone city of Petra in Jordan when I was in college. It was incredibly beautiful and ancient and built by the Nabateans. A bedouin man led my friend, Carol, and I into the city through the passage in the cliff. We had only enough money to rent one horse so we took turns riding the horse.

My favorite flowers to grow from seeds are zinnias. They grow readily from seed and I love all the colors and types of flowers. These are growing in an old metal pail, and I plant them in the ground too.

I bought a wine rack and a book at Goodwill yesterday for a total of $3.14. The book is "The Inklings" by Melanie Jeschke and is a novel about Oxford in the time of C.S. Lewis and Tolkien.

I feed the wild birds every day and give them fresh water. Our favorite birds right now are the graceful and peaceful mourning doves in their soft tan colors.

We like watching Downton Abbey and Walking Dead, now those are two SO different shows.

If you like to read mystery series you might like Stop You're Killing Me This is so good if you get a bit lost where you are in reading a series, because here you can search by author or main character and find out the order of the books. Plus extra features so you can find mystery series by subject.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Shameless self promotion of our Christmas book

Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts: Stories to Warm Your Heart and Tips to Simplify Your Holiday

Yes, the book I co-authored has loads of tips to simplify your holiday. In our book we share easy to make or inexpensive to buy gifts, recipes, and ideas for celebrating the birth of Jesus.

One neat idea in our book is to carry a roll of quarters and when you see a Salvation Army bell ringer, give each of your children a quarter to put in their collection pot. That encourages children in the idea of giving during this holiday.

Another idea in our book is to create a Santa chair for busy households and hectic moments. Put a red blanket or Santa hat on a comfy chair and set it in an out of the way spot. The rule is that for 15 minutes if anyone needs a quiet time, they can sit in the chair and and enjoy some peaceful time when no one is allowed to bother them.

Those are just two of many tips in the book.

Also there are engaging two page stories in our book, like the one where a prodigal son returns home for Christmas, or when two siblings are adopted and have their first Christmas with their new forever family. My story of our family driving from Wisconsin to camp in the Everglades at Christmas is included too. Oh, and did I mention my baklava recipe? When I took my baklava to a program at church years ago, a man yelled out "I want to marry the woman who made this baklava." What a compliment; I told him I am married though.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Dahlias and quotes from Gertrude Jekyll and Eleanor Perenyi

Dahlias from our neighborhood Farmers Market. Everything sold there is organic.

"The dahlia's first duty in life is to flaunt and to swagger and to carry gorgeous blooms well above its leaves, and on no account to hang its head." Gertrude Jekyll, Wood and Garden, 1899.

"Looking at my dahlias one summer day, a friend whose taste runs to the small and impeccable said sadly, "You do like big conspicuous flowers, don't you?" She meant vulgar, and I am used to that."
Eleanor Perenyi, Green Thoughts, 1981.

Eleanor Perenyi's book is wonderful, I think. Do you like my vase? Well, the photo doesn't really show it, but I bought it this year at Goodwill Thrift shop, and it is pretty and suits larger bouquets with tall stems.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Books and more books, Bargains I bought

My husband and I agree that we like to give away a book for every one we buy. Today I bought 4 books and I am happy that a few days ago I gave about 10 gardening books to a friend. So the trend is in the right direction of not being overwhelmed by books.
Today a school near our house is having a sale to benefit the school so of course I HAD to walk over. I found 4 books for a grand total of $5.
For me, buying a used book is a good and inexpensive way to try new authors.
All of these authors are new to me.

The Egyptologist by Arthur Phillips.1922, Egypt, a tomb, a mystery. That is right around the time King Tut's tomb was discovered and I love that period of history.

The Aviator's Wife by Melanie Benjamin. A novel about Anne Morrow, the wife of Charles Lindbergh. I like this type of well researched historical fiction. The Paris Wife, by a different author, is wonderful, for example. That one is about Ernest Hemingway and his first wife, the love of his life.

The Geographer's Library by Jon Fasman. I spent years working with maps in a library so this title grabbed me.

Foxgloves and Hedgehog Days by Daniel Blajan. An eccentric look at gardening written by a city dweller who lived in a sixth floor apartment and then moved to a village. I think the village is in Holland which is where the author lived at the time of publication, which was 1997.
Have you read any of these? Which one shall I read first?

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Friendship quotes

"Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another "What! You too? I thought I was the only one."   C.S. Lewis

"Every true friend is a glimpse of God."  Lucy Larcom

"Friendship is a word the very sight of which in print makes the heart warm."  Augustine Birrell

I hope you have one or more true friends, they are a blessing, aren't they? My youngest friend is in her thirties and I feel energized when I am with her. This week we took a walk along the bay with her toddler. Next week I will visit my oldest friend who is in her nineties, and as she says, doing very well considering her age. And yes, I have friends my age too, and will have lunch next week with some of my friends who I met at our workplace years ago. Of the six of us, four are retired and two are still working in the salt mines. Er, I mean the library.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Two Books: Dog Stars and Orley Farm

Two wonderful and very different books I read last week. Wow, such talented authors, Peter Heller writing now and Anthony Trollope in the 1880s.

Dog Stars by Peter Heller
"Dog Stars" is set in the American west ten years after a flu pandemic has cut the world's population to close to zero. Here are the first words in this book, which kept me reading fast!
"I keep the Beast running. I keep the 100 low lead on tap. I foresee attacks. I am young enough, I am old enough. I used to love to fish for trout more than almost anything."
I posted this review:

Dog Stars is one of the best books I read this year, with a brilliant plot of Hig trying to survive in a post apocalypse world, with his beloved dog by his side, and with his ally Bangley, a man who is a survival and weapons expert who relentlessly leads in protecting the three residents. The three of them create a perimeter around the small airport in a wild area of Colorado where they live and where Hig keeps his old airplane, The Beast. They defend the perimeter without mercy in this brutal new world. Hig is the gardener and the one who flies The Beast to get essential supplies like the soda they enjoy. Eventually Hig can not resist putting them in danger by flying to an airport where he received an answer to his plane radio broadcast. This is a stunning and mesmerizing story. A few people did not like the way some of Hig's thoughts are written, rather fragmented, but for me, it seemed natural, and Hig being Hig. And Hig is a good guy.

Orley Farm by Anthony Trollope
This is a review I posted on Amazon and goodreads and librarything:

I have quite a crush on this author. I discovered the pleasure of reading his books this year and this is the 7th book I have read by him. He knows people and their motivations so well. This book contains love interests between young people, and secrets that torment people (I am being vague to avoid giving anything away), and describes living in country homes and in city houses, the rules of society then, and some humor sprinkled in. The event that pulls this book along relentlessly is the trial to see who has the right to own Orley Farm, either Lady Mason and her son Lucius Mason, or the half brother of Lucius, Mr. Mason of Groby Park. Mr. Mason is full of rage against Lady Mason and pushes with all his might to get Orley Farm.
Trollope uses some fun surnames for characters and he injects himself with humorous asides along the lines of  "if I were a better author I could readily explain ...". If you are like me you will long remember some of these characters like Lady Mason, Sir Peregrine Orme, Sophie Furnival, Felix Graham and many more. Trollope's books make me happy!

Blog friends who like Trollope, there is a Facebook group "Anthony Trollope Society" with lots of interesting posts. We are hoping to have 1,000 members by Christmas so come on by.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Friends of Narnia, Call and the Mighty Lion Will Come

And this scene from "The Last Battle" by C.S. Lewis, dear friends, gives me goose bumps when I read it. Our King is strong to help us and as the song says "He is mighty to save".

“Aslan—and children from another world,” thought Tirian. “They have always come in when things were at their worst. Oh, if only they could now.”
And he called out “Aslan! Aslan! Aslan! Come and help us now.”
But the darkness and the cold and the quietness went on just the same.
“Let me be killed,” cried the King. “I ask nothing for myself. But come and save all Narnia.”
And still there was no change in the night or the wood, but there began to be a kind of change inside Tirian. Without knowing why, he began to feel a faint hope. And he felt somehow stronger. “Oh Aslan, Aslan,” he whispered. “If you will not come yourself, at least send me the helpers from beyond the world. Or let me call them. Let my voice carry beyond the world.” Then, hardly knowing that he was doing it, he suddenly cried out in a great voice:
“Children! Children! Friends of Narnia! Quick. Come to me. Across the worlds I call you; I, Tirian, King of Narnia, Lord of Cair Paravel, and Emperor of the Lone Islands!”

From The Last Battle, C.S.Lewis

Monday, September 21, 2015

Postcards from Diane

Here are four cards and postcards I received from Diane; she finds the BEST cards to send to me. The two on the top are from a vintage store she discovered. I especially like the teapot shaped postcard with the pretty blue bird on it, which arrived today, flying in from the Philippines.
Thanks Diane; you are a sweetie.
You will find her blog at Diane Wants To Write
If you have a moment stop by her blog and say hi.
I hope you can read the card with the kitty cat on it, it is cute. "Every day may not be good...But there is something good in every day."

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Angel Wing Begonia

This lovely Angel Wing Begonia was growing in a one gallon pot when we moved here, more than 30 years ago. It has survived a freeze or two, and lived in deep shade as  the ten foot tall and eight foot wide ivy grew over it. I wrote about our $6,000 ivy and old rotted fence removal and new redwood fence project in an earlier post. The fence you see in these photos is our new fence. Now the begonia is liberated and in part sun on our patio. I know it is probably 40 years old and I have never repotted it.
It was shining as it caught the sun which is why I took these photos. The colors of the leaves are more red, a darker red, than these show, and it gets tiny red flowers.The leaves are green on top with spots of light grey, and red on the back, with the red also showing. In many areas with colder winters they are grown as house plants.
Below are photos of the green leaves when they are not illuminated by the sun, and of the red flowers. The plant to the left is an African Basil which in its second year has grown tall.

This type of begonia is sometimes called cane begonia and I read you can make starts by cutting a bit of the cane and putting it in water until it roots. I want to try that. Angel wing begonia is suited to grow outdoors in zones 10-11, but it has grown here in zone 8 for 40 years, with no special pampering. It requires filtered sunlight or the leaves with scorch and do not over water.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Jesus Calling, a pink cover contains wisdom

I recently bought this delightful book of devotionals with one devotional for each day. The edition I bought has the look and feel of pink leather, yet it is imitation leather. The bookstore had this edition and a paperback. This pink edition is a pleasure to hold and read which is why I chose it. The author is Sarah Young.
Here is a link to it on Amazon Jesus Calling
The devotional for September one says in part "Seek Me in good times; seek Me in hard times. You will find Me watching over you all the time."
Recommended Scripture for this day: Deuteronomy 4:29, Hebrews 10:23 and Psalm 145:20.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Pink Gladiolus on Wordless Wednesday

This bouquet of pink gladiolus makes me smile when I see it on our kitchen table. This is one bunch with ten stems and makes a generous sized bouquet.
Since this is Wordless Wednesday I won't say too much :)

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Pretty hare painting by Jackie Morris

Look what beauty arrived in my mail, all the way from Wales from the artist Jackie Morris.
In the top center is a card and the others are postcards. She illustrates books, paints, and also writes books. Her current book is a retelling of The Wild Swans story by Anderson. If you go to her blog and website you can see a lot of her beautiful paintings and more about the Wild Swans book which releases about September 19, 2015.
I enjoy visiting her blog and reading about her life in the countryside of Wales, where she walks with dogs and cats and encounters wild life, all of which inspire her art.
Thank you Jackie for the beautiful card and postcards.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Let's Balter Together

This cat has an amazed expression; maybe he saw me having fun baltering. I collect words like balter that are new to me and that have a nice ring to them.
Here are some of them:
telling a tarradiddle, a trifling lie, nonsense, twaddle
moire antique curtain, fabric of silk or rayon with a watery or wavelike appearance
widdershins, in a direction contrary to the natural one
louche, dubious, shady, disreputable
a nebuly coat, edged in a deeply wavy line, intended to represent clouds
ebullition of surprise, violent outpouring as of emotion
corruscation of green light, glitter, sparkle, series of small flashes or sparks
a bimble, a ramble
cruft, leftover, redundant, getting in the way
limned "the way the light limned the edges", highlighted with light or color or to depict with painting
serried branches, pressed close together, especially in rows
infrangible, cannot be broken or violated
gallimaufry, hodgepodge, jumble
marmorean, marmoreal is smooth like marble
a stoup of holy water, a basin, a pail, a cup
balter, to dance artlessly without grace but with extreme joy

A fair number of these I found while reading Proust, Anthony Trollope and British mysteries.
Many of these are older words that it would be nice to use more often.
So friends, let's remember to dance, even if it means we balter :)

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Visiting our wharf on the bay

A painting of a sea otter on our wharf and if you look closely you will see my reflection in it.
Our home is beyond those trees.
The flags are flying in a nice breeze on the restaurant patio near the end of the wharf.
When I see sailboats I think I should get a zoom lens.
Have a happy day and look for beauty all around you, friends.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Dr. Thorne, book and new tv series

I am so happy that Julian Fellowes, creator of Downton Abbey, loves Anthony Trollope as I do. He has a new tv project in the works based on the book Dr. Thorne. This is the third book in the Chronicles of Barsetshire series. Fellowes says these books are very influential on his tv work.
I think each book, of the 4 of the 6 I have read, is perfection. Lots of humor, the author makes funny asides and pokes fun at himself. He wrote about "if I were a better writer, I could ... ", which is just so charming. At another point Trollope interrupts the story to write "Fear not dear reader. I will not make you wait in horror for the next book" when a heroine's fate is in jeopardy.
Some of you already know the charms of Barsetshire. Some of you may not care for the books. Could this be? But I love these books, written in the 1850s and carrying the reader to those times of country homes, middle and upper class people, poor people, and many lovely ladies and young men ready or not ready for romance. In the second book Barchester Towers is the best and most romantic description of a proposal of marriage I have read or can imagine.
Trollope uses very funny names for some of his characters. A few are: Dr. Fillgrave. Would you choose him for your doctor? Not me. Mr. Quiverful for a man who has 14 children. Mssrs. Slow and Bideawhile for a law firm. Just little welcome touches of humor.
Perhaps there will even be romance in store for "old" Dr. Thorne! Dr. Thorne is 50, not really so old at all, but he is a confirmed bachelor. I'll never tell.
I sometimes cry when I read or hear about something truly beautiful, and Trollope's books have done that for me. Usually it is when a difficult conceited or selfish person sees what is right and does it, just for the sake of doing what is good. A person in need is greatly helped, perhaps lovers are united or someone is saved from financial catastrophe. And not by a saintly character but by a flawed one who rises to the occasion. What beautiful writing by Mr. Trollope.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Sun rose and lantana

Our pink Sun Rose and our cream Lantana are happy in the half wine barrel, which they completely cover, but it is under there some where.
I planted these two pretty plants about ten years ago and they get compliments from people walking past our home.
The Sun Rose is also known as Cistus, and the petals of the flowers are papery thin and look almost like they are made of silk. Sun Rose and Lantana do not need much water, which is good news in the drought we are having here in California.
I think the plants look like a gigantic bouquet that a giant bride could carry in a wedding ceremony.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Mystery door home is painted

You might have seen my earlier post about this home with the door opening to a cliff drop.
Above is the freshly painted exterior, even the door is freshened up with paint.
Here below  are photos of the mystery door before the house was painted, and during the painting. It looks nicer now but I still wonder about the function of the door. Someone commented it might be the way to get rid of dinner guests who stayed too late. Ha ha. My guess is Rapunzel lives there and her beloved calls to her to let down her long braided hair.
Note the extensive scaffolding they put up to do the house painting. It seems odd that on the lower floor where the door is, there are no windows. Ah, sweet house of mystery.