28 February 2011

The Good Life

“Love life, engage in it, give it all you've got. Love it with a passion, because life truly does give back, many times over, what you put into it.” ~Maya Angelou

Things that made me smile recently:
  • a text from a friend that reads, "What is the name of that yummy perfume you wear?"  I love this girl.  I have for years and always will.
  • the sight of a bright green refrigerator in my classroom, the one bought for me by my uncles and aunts upon my high school graduation a LONG time ago, the one I took to Mizzou as a college freshman.  I hope to be a student there again...very soon.  (I'm keeping my fingers crossed.)
  • my preschooler, annoyed with a classmate, expressing her desire that he be eaten by a shark.  I am not a bad mother:  I did talk to her about the importance of kindness and friendship.  I am amused, though, at the problem-solving skills of a four year-old.
  • my ten year-old's discovery of the Psychedelic Furs...which met with her approval.
  • my youngest daughter's love of her two Beatles t-shirts.  Again, she is the ripe old age of four.
  • my college freshman's trust in my ability to edit her essays
  • drawing cartoon daughters on the table at church
  •  these quotes: 
"Every day you may make progress.  Every step may be fruitful...this, far from discouraging, only adds to the joy and glory of the climb." -Sir Winston Churchill

Do what you feel in your heart to be right, for you'll be criticized anyway.~Eleanor Roosevelt

Find a purpose in life so big it will challenge every capacity to be at your best. ~David O. McKay 
  • these photos...because I've learned that sometimes the best libraries aren't filled with books.  Can you read the unwritten words?
source, A Country Farmhouse
source, Faded Plains
source, My Sweet Savannah

Hope is the anchor of the soul, the stimulus to action, and the incentive to achievement.

You are leaving port under sealed orders and in a troubled period. You cannot know whither you are going or what you are to do. But why not take the Pilot on board who knows the nature of your sealed orders from the outset, and who will shape your entire voyage accordingly? He knows the shoals and the sandbanks, the rocks and the reefs, He will steer you safely into that celestial harbor where your anchor will be cast for eternity. Let His almighty nail-pierced hands hold the wheel, and you will be safe. ~Peter Marshall

24 February 2011

Red Milk

It is snowing.  Again.  Our blizzard melted into a balmy introduction of what is proving to be an elusive springtime, and now this?  The groundhog must be laughing at his joke as the rain, then snow, falls into troughs of mud (formerly known as "the yard").  It IS only February, I keep reminding myself.  It is not the snow that I dread.  It's the slop.  There are few things more aggravating than an expensive pair of shoes ruined by SLOP.  Ugh.

~Tori Amos

Snow can wait
I forgot my mittens
Wipe my nose
Get my new boots on
I get a little warm in my heart
When I think of winter
I put my hand in my father's glove
I run off
Where the drifts get deeper
Sleeping beauty trips me with a frown
I hear a voice
"Your must learn to stand up for yourself
Cause I can't always be around"
He says

*   *   *

Boys get discovered as winter melts
Flowers competing for the sun
Years go by and I'm here still waiting
Withering where some snowman was
Mirror mirror where's the crystal palace
But I only can see myself
Skating around the truth who I am
But I know dad the ice is getting thin

*     *     *

Hair is grey
And the fires are burning
So many dreams
On the shelf
You say I wanted you to be proud of me
I always wanted that myself

He says
When you gonna make up your mind
When you gonna love you as much as I do
When you gonna make up your mind
Cause things are gonna change so fast
All the white horses have gone ahead
I tell you that I'll always want you near
You say that things change
My dear

*     *     *
Yes, things change.  As a child I was quite confident, yet so unsure.  I certainly never would have done this...

...but I'm finding  It is never too late to give up our prejudices. - Henry David Thoreau...and besides, this snake liked me.  Interestingly, I had a dream just last week about snakes...what I believed to be venomous Coral snakes.  I worried.  Surely it was an omen.  I never paused to think that perhaps it was a good type of omen.  Maybe, afterall, I had actually dreamed of this friendly Red Milk Snake. Today I learned something about myself.  Tony Robbins, a motivational speaker, says Live with passion.  My senses are primed.  Is there any other way, but to live passionately?

~Priscilla Ahn 

I was a little girl alone in my little world who dreamed of a little home for me.
I played pretend between the trees, and fed my houseguests bark and leaves, and laughed in my pretty bed of green.

I had a dream
That I could fly from the highest swing.
I had a dream.

Long walks in the dark through woods grown behind the park, I asked God who I'm supposed to be.
The stars smiled down on me, God answered in silent reverie. I said a prayer and fell asleep.

I had a dream
That I could fly from the highest tree.
I had a dream.

Now I'm old and feeling grey. I don't know what's left to say about this life I'm willing to leave.
I lived it full and I lived it well, there's many tales I've lived to tell. I'm ready now, I'm ready now, I'm ready now to fly from the highest wing.

I had a dream.

23 February 2011


A house without books is like a room without windows. ~Heinrich Mann

I keep thinking that at some point I'm going to get back to more of my own "stuff" and use this space to be less-inclusive of others'...you guessed it ~ "stuff".  (I have found space below for a bit of that...a bit of me.) The issue is that I am discovering inspiration and happiness in so many other places, and I'm finding ways to bring the joy home.  I recently became acquainted with
In her bio, she includes these words in her philosophy:  Family, home and
work are harmoniously whole. I never separate one from another... Beauty and function make a house, but family and happiness make it a home. 

The very definition.  
I love the color of these bedroom walls.  They speak one word to me: 
And therein lies a piece of my heart.

Meet Rie.  She lives here and she is passionate about Home & Harmony.  Me too.  It's the very reason I am where I am, doing what I do.  I've only just met her, yet love her already.

As for home...today my family ~ four of us ~ hung out at my mom's house, painting while she was away at work. The girls were surprisingly cordial to one another; the husband and I were, too (surprisingly cordial, that is...insert a chuckle here).  I had some time to revisit my childhood while there.  It was quite a little journey.  If you carry your childhood with you, you never become older. ~Tom Stoppard  In the room where the grandchildren now play are toys that my sister and I once once claimed as our own.  There, on the floor, is the bear with a pullstring, the one I received for my first birthday.  There, too, is the high chair and crib that my very talented paternal grandfather made for us to share.  Dolls have been strategically placed, positioned by the latest generation of little ones, and have now found company with so many, many legos.  The Fisher Price people ~ and camper and boat and school bus and school house and parking garage and village ~ are there, too.  My favorite piece of that ensemble is the toilet, the one whose lid opens and allows the Fisher Price campers a bit of relief.  I've always found that to be quite progressive for the early 70s.

There is a garden in every childhood, an enchanted place where colors are brighter, the air softer, and the morning more fragrant than ever again. ~Elizabeth Lawrence  What drew me in though, what seemed to whisper my name, was the bookshelf.  The words contained there have been mine for decades...from my earliest books (with my name inside, and "from Grandma" or "from Aunt Esther" on the endpaper), to one that proved significant in the adolescent years: Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume
(I wonder if my mom ever really knew the giggles that accompanied the exercise destined to "increase our busts." This is both ridiculous and hilarious to me now.)  Most importantly, there are Bibles.  The greatest lessons came from these.
Thank you, Mom.
 You may have tangible wealth untold;
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be -
I had a mother who read to me.
~Strickland Gillilan

My mother read to me.  She collected books for me.  She collected books for herself.  Her family room still contains a library...books that are hers, and law enforcement books that were my dad's.  What we remember from childhood we remember forever - permanent ghosts, stamped, inked, imprinted, eternally seen. ~Cynthia Ozick   I could never have known how my mother's love of reading, and her gift of the same, would impact what I ultimately chose to do with my life.  There is always one moment in childhood when the door opens and lets the future in. ~Graham Greene, The Power and the Glory  I'm still trying to figure it out (what I'm doing with my life) but those who know me immediately sense the keen passion for literacy.  I teach children to read and write ~ creatively, reflectively.  I encourage children to discover the world around them, whether they travel by plane or by print.  The stories of childhood leave an indelible impression, and their author always has a niche in the temple of memory from which the image is never cast out to be thrown on the rubbish heap of things that are outgrown and outlived. ~Howard Pyle  I hope, I hope, I hope my daughters will love books forever too.

I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves. ~Anna Quindlen, "Enough Bookshelves,"
New York Times, 7 August 1991
For you, McKenzie, from my well-read childhood
An ordinary man can... surround himself with two thousand books... and thenceforward have at least one place in the world in which it is possible to be happy. ~Augustine Birrell

*     *     *
I received a letter the other day from the University of Missouri.  As I unfolded it, a parking hangtag fell the the floor:  a good sign!  I have decided to pursue a Doctorate in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis.  The letter confirmed that my application dossier has been recommended for the next stage...interviews and writing assessments.  Thanks, mom, for laying the foundation a very, very long time ago.  I love you. 

The scholar only knows how dear these silent, yet eloquent, companions of pure thoughts and innocent hours become in the season of adversity. When all that is worldly turns to dross around us, these only retain their steady value. ~Washington Irving

The best of a book is not the thought which it contains, but the thought which it suggests; just as the charm of music dwells not in the tones but in the echoes of our hearts. ~Oliver Wendell Holmes

To sit alone in the lamplight with a book spread out before you, and hold intimate converse with men of unseen generations - such is a pleasure beyond compare. ~Kenko Yoshida

16 February 2011

Spring Fever

Today I'm feeling it.   
jones(jōnz):the undeniable passion or love for someone or something. 
Jones Design Company ~ 'tis THE definition.  I've spent soooo much time at this site lately. 
 addiction(ə-dĭk'shən):the condition of being habitually or compulsively occupied with or involved in something.
Emily is a stay-at-home mom of four.  A wife.  A business owner.  Emily is Christ's; hence the blessings she both gives and receives.  All images and loveliness posted today are hers...not mine.  I couldn't help but share.

Of my three daughters, only one is possibly  young enough to appreciate these.  I'm making them soon.  I wonder how Lane will like wearing them with her new taekwondo uniform??  You can find the tutorial on Jones Design Company's January 14, 2001 post, or by clicking here!

Here is a bit more yumminess.  Per the information on the site, the recipe was "created by the ladies of Liddabit Sweets courtesy of O magazine."  Since sea salt is a new staple in my pantry, I'm excited to make these: 

Sea Salt Caramels

Photo via Jones Design Company
Servings: Makes about 125 one-inch pieces

◦1 3/4 cup sugar
◦1 can evaporated milk
◦3/4 cup heavy cream
◦3/4 cup light corn syrup
◦2 Tbsp. butter
◦1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
◦1/2 Tbsp. coarse sea salt
◦Oil or cooking spray


Active time: 30 minutes
Total time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

In a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan, bring sugar, evaporated milk, and heavy cream to a boil over medium heat. Add corn syrup and continue cooking until mixture reaches 230°.

Add butter and vanilla; continue cooking, stirring constantly, until caramel reaches 240°. Remove from heat, stir in salt, and carefully pour into a lightly oiled 9″ x 13″ baking dish (parchment paper in the bottom of the pan is helpful).

Let cool at least 1 hour. Invert onto a cutting board covered with waxed or parchment paper and cut into 1-inch pieces with a sharp, lightly oiled knife. Caramels can be wrapped in waxed or parchment paper or cellophane. (To serve candy-store style, wrap individual pieces in parchment paper and secure the ends with a simple twist.) Store airtight at cool room temperature (around 65°) or in the refrigerator; will keep up to 3 weeks.

*     *     * 
That's it for now.  The weather is gorgeous.  It's SEVENTY degrees and the recent Blizzard of 2011 is fading into a distant memory.  I'm off to turn a cartwheel or two (or ten).  ~S.

15 February 2011

Love is in the Air

A Valentine dinner date at a Thai food restaurant.  White Chocolate Strawberry Truffles by way of Arizona.  Paper valentines from my students, many of which informed me that "Justin Bieber loves you."  Mom's sugar cookies...
Love, Love, Love.

Ten Ways to Love

Listen without interrupting. (Proverbs 18)
Speak without accusing. (James 1:19)
Give without sparing. (Proverbs 21:26)
Pray without ceasing. (Colossians 1:9)
Answer without arguing. (Proverbs 17:1)
Share without pretending. (Ephesians 4:15)
Enjoy without complaint. (Philippians 2:14)
Trust without wavering. (Corinthians 13:7)
Forgive without punishing. (Colossians 3:13)
Promise without forgetting. (Proverbs 13:12
I love this blog.  I love the second picture from the left, in the top row of this banner.  (I'd love to make it my studio.)  And I love this picture from the BARNHOUSE.  The gate reminds me of a place from childhood.  The snowy tracks cause me to wonder about the traveler.
I love the inspiration I find here, at Tricia Foley of New York.

And this staircase...from what source, I haven't a clue. 
Love it.
There are other things about which to wax sentimental.  Perhaps the day's favorite is this:  While reading my youngest a bedtime story (a book that was first her eldest sister's, who is now away at college), she informed me that she'd found a small tear in a page.  "Don't worry, Mom.  I fixed it."  I love her ingenuity.

Band-aid Cure
And one more thing before I go.  I found an incredible site and wanted to share.  Click here (opt for the English version), choose a photo, and generate!  Suddenly your image has aged, oh, 100 years or so.

And now I'm off to enjoy the weather.  By Thursday the temperature should climb into the upper 60s.  I'm ready for Spring...and the smell of rain.  I love that too!  ~S.

14 February 2011

Where the Heart Is

Love is a smoke made with the fume of sighs. ~William Shakespeare  I alternately love and loathe Valentine's Day.  Sometimes it's about happiness and sometimes, well, sometimes it's just about wishes. Today, I'm wishing YOU happiness.  xoxo

Let your joy rise to the surface.  I discovered these words on a fellow blog.  (Thank you, Mary Ruffle.) There are places that make my heart swell.  Aside from Nantucket and Cape Cod, the Smokies are the only place that have such an intense effect on me, the kind you carry with you long after you've departed, the kind that lives in you as a ne'er-to-be-forgotten memory. And so today I'm not only thinking about the people I love; but I'm also thinking of the places.  I'm longing for a road trip.  I love a good journey, whether it be one of the heart, or one of the road.  What we have once enjoyed we can never lose.  All that we love deeply becomes a part of us. ~Helen Keller

The most beautiful view is the one I share with you. ~Author Unknown
My Mountains, My View, from My Cabin

  “To awaken quite alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world.”
~Freya Stark

Nantucket's Atlantic...In a word: love.

“Once you have traveled, the voyage never ends, but is played out over and over again in the quiestest chambers. The mind can never break off from the journey.” ~Pat Conroy 

That, to me, is an affair of the heart.

Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail”
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Happy Valentine's Day, ~S.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails...And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

from 1 Corinthians 13:4-13

07 February 2011

A Farewell

by Adelaide Anne Procter

FAREWELL, oh dream of mine!
I dare not stay;
The hour is come, and time
Will not delay:
Pleasant and dear to me
Wilt thou remain;
No future hour
Brings thee again.

She stands, the Future dim,
And draws me on,
And shows me dearer joys—
But thou art gone!
Treasures and Hopes more fair,
Bears she for me,
And yet I linger,
Oh dream, with thee!

Other and brighter days,
Perhaps she brings;
Deeper and holier songs,
Perchance she sings;
But thou and I, fair time,
We too must sever—
Oh dream of mine,
Farewell for ever!

Letting go is not so easy.  Thanks to my friend who sent me this poem when I needed it most ~ a friend who always throws me an anchor at the perfect time.  Those are the best, the very best friends of all.  xoxo  And so as I wish for the dreams to fade and accept the "forever" farewell, I look forward to the future...the "other and brighter days, perhaps she brings;"  the "deeper and holier songs, perchance she sings..."  I've managed to find some inspiration here ~ A Country Farmhouse.  Simplicity.  Elegance.  Happiness.  I love this blog.  LOVE it.  I am confident you will, too.  I have also encountered some invigoration at Nine and Sixteen ("a blog about family, home, & small town living").  Lovely.  A whole lotta sunshine for the soul.

Amy Seeley ~ Gravel Lines lyrics

what do you expect from me, after these takes … after this
what do you dream .. in the afternoon ..
i'll never know .. .what's in your head.

out past the cars on the railway
out past the city's finery
we see our breath and connection
underneath these gravel lines.

you …. you stole a page from the blanks
how do you weigh all of our fears
typical, isn't it typical
that someone like me would invite you in

we took a drive in the country
your photographs were never mine
slapped in the face by the questions
posed by these gravel lines

out past the cars on the railway
out past the city's finery
we see our breath and connection
underneath these gravel lines.
*     *     *
This mood.  I'm running away...from it, to here...to these photos that belie a story. 
No restoration necessary.  Stunning.
courtesy, greige design

Typeset Art

(I'm skipping Shakespeare's verse when I create my own piece.)

via Cote de Texas

“A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.”
~Oscar Wilde 

04 February 2011

Birthday Song

"At the age of 19, you always think you are prepared for everything and you think you have the knowledge of what's coming ahead."
~Diana, Princess of Wales  
Trust me, McKenzie, you don't.

Nineteen years ago today I first held you in my arms.  I'd already held you in my heart for months. I'd felt your independence, strong and without hesitation, asserting itself in my abdomen for quite some time too.  A year before, I had no idea you would be mine. I had no anticipation of motherhood for years to come.   God’s blessings come as a surprise but how much you receive depends on how much your heart believes.  Your dad and I were young, yet not so young that we could not, as adults, carry on as a family.  The theme of your nursery was chosen strategically:  Noah's Ark.  True, it is a great story of biblical proportions, adored by children, but that was not the underlying purpose for the choice.  Rather, the story of Noah's Ark, and the subsequent rainbow in the sky, is manifestation of God's love and promises.  I believed then, as I do even today, that God is good and blesses His own.  You, sweet girl, are one of my greatest gifts.  Before you were born I carried you under my heart. From the moment you arrived in this world until the moment I leave it, I will always carry you in my heart. ~Mandy Harrison

You are all grown up now and slowy but surely leaving my nest.  I am sad.  More than anything though, I am extremely proud of the fine person you have become.  You are a light.  Shine brightly.  I love you, McKenzie Bean.  Always.  Happy Birthday.  ~Mommy

Before you were conceived I wanted you. Before you were born I loved you. Before you were here an hour I would die for you. This is the miracle of Mother's Love. ~Maureen Hawkins