Thursday, May 28, 2015

Morning Has Broken  

The beautiful, soft, glowing light of spring is slowly fading into the bright, vivacious light of summer, but before it goes I would like to pay homage to the exquisite light of spring mornings.  Mornings in May, when the fairies seem as near as the sunshine streaming and dancing through the trees, are the best time for an early morning cuppa plein aire.   

  Early one Saturday, my personal designer and I found a favorite canopy from her childhood and crept forth into the dewy grass.  We suspended the canopy from a majestic tree atop a hill where the morning light could shine through the boughs.  

With our favorite china and some fresh cut flowers 
the scene was set!

The light was so beautiful, and the company so sweet.  Drinking our favorite lavender tea and nibbling our favorite biscuits under a rosy canopy was truly a lovely celebration of the spring!

Claude Monet

Of course, all that lovely light made me think of art so here are some lovelies....

File:Frieseke, Frederick Carl - Afternoon - Yellow Room - Google Art Project.jpg
Fredrick Carl Frieseke

I have recently found two artists whom I believe captured sunlight and color beautifully, with their simple subjects.  Carl Frieseke and Louis Ritman were both American Impressionists who spent a great deal of time in France.  Although their styles were similar, their subject matter varied slightly from their French contemporaries.   Unlike many of the Impressionists, their focus centered around women in their daily lives instead of landscapes.  I adore the softness of light and color of Frieseke and Ritman's paintings and thought they were perfect to accompany this post about spring light, because after all Frieseke himself is believed to have said.....

 "It is sunshine, flowers in sunshine; girls in sunshine; the nude in sunshine which I have been principally interested in."

Louis Ritman

Louis Ritman

Louis Ritman

One of my favorite spring flowers is the sweet lilac of May, which is so beautifully depicted here by Mary Cassatt.   She seems to be able to capture the very nature of lilacs as they tumble out of the vase wishing to share their merriment with all they meet!

Enjoy the sunshine!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Valentine's Day.....

Valentine's Day--what a beautiful concept--a day to celebrate love and beauty, and a reminder to tell people that we love them!!  I love Valentine's Day and believe that it doesn't just have to be about couples.  When we were small, it wasn't about telling that "one special someone" that we loved them, it was about telling everyone that we loved them.  The fun was in giving everyone a valentine, still sticky with glue and glitter and getting a hug or a smile in return.  For me, that is the real beauty of Valentine's Day--taking time to remember to say I love you to everyone: your significant other, family, friends, coworkers, yourself, and LIFE!!!!  

Tasha Tudor

Here are some lovely pictures and a poem that remind me of what I love and why life is so delightful when I let it be!! 

Eugenio Zampighi

How do I love thee?  Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height 
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday's
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use 
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints,--I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life!--and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

~~Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Gustav Klimt

There is such a beautiful dreaminess about Klimt.....And it simply is never Valentine's Day without Tasha Tudor!!!! 

And of course, it is not Valentine's Day without a swing.....hmm? 

Jean Fragonard

As always, Renoir captures the beauty of human nature.  There is a beauty in his paintings that suggests looking past the ordinary into the playful wonder and stillness of the soul.

In the Garden - Pierre-Auguste Renoir
Auguste Renoir

What an utter pleasure to embrace the joy and 
surprise of unlikely friendships!

Elliott Erwitt - Photo 9
Elliot Erwitt

In my furry canine mind, it seems only logical to celebrate all of our loves and passions on Valentine's Day, especially the ones that define who we are!

Here is a passion for light, color and flowers.....

Claude Monet, Water Lilies, 1916, National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo
Water Lilies is a series of approximately 250 oil paintings by French Impressionist Claude Monet (1840–1926). The paintings depict Monet’s flower garden at Giverny and were the main focus of Monet’s artistic production during the last thirty years of his life.
Claude Monet

and for friendly tea parties....

a 1906 tea party

and for creating...

Edward Fielding

and quiet moments...

Jean Fragonard

and especially beauty....

Archivo:Claude Monet, Saint-Georges majeur au crépuscule.jpg
Claude Monet

So this Valentine's Day I invite you to make that lopsided, sticky valentine, spread some glitter and smiles, and love Life!!  


Monday, January 26, 2015

Birthday Wonder!!

Aren't birthdays delightful?  They always give me that warm fuzzy feeling!  Not to mention, the abundance of lovely candlelight and childhood memories!

So, when my dear friend and Personal Designer's 18th birthday was drawing near, of course we decided we must have a party!!!  We decided to keep it a small and intimate gathering with pleasant conversation, classy Hors d'oeuvre, elegant napkin folding, pastel table decor and tea and cake.  I simply adore a Classic Tea Party!  

My Personal Designer's mother helped plan and orchestrate the lovely affair!  The invitations had been sent, everyone was coming, the food and decor had been planned so when the appointed day came we were ready!  We suited up, (I in my butterfly wings and she in her apron) and had a vigorous morning of 
cleaning and preparations!

We used some of our favorite Polish china which provided the initial color scheme, and then chose napkins, candles 
and flowers to match!

My Personal Designer loves to bake, so we allowed her to make her favorite cake!  

I, of course, supervised everything to make sure it all came off without a hitch!!  Above, you can see me supervising
 the food preparations.....

Aren't they lovely?

Then, I honored them with my opinions on the table
 setting and decor.....

Also quite lovely if I may say so!! Needless to say, my Personal Designer was tickled pink!!!

 We chose a whimsical arrangement for the table!

And a wonderful friend of ours in Vermont surprised her with this beautiful bouquet of 18 roses!!

At the end of the day I was happily drowsy (I doubled as the enthusiastic welcoming committee!  So you can imagine..), but it was such a lovely gathering and so well worth the effort!  I have known my Personal Designer since she was three and have enjoyed every moment of it!!  

Thank you to all the wonderful ladies who joined us in celebrating her birthday!  

***A note from Mom:  As Miss KD and her Personal Designer's biggest fan, I would like to thank them both for all the joy they have brought to my life and all the lessons they have taught me.  It was so much fun to help Miss KD celebrate this momentous birthday with such dear friends!  What a unique and extraordinary pair!  May you continue to bring joy to all you do!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

So this is Christmas....  

As the holidays approach we can take some time to reflect and let the past year settle in our minds.  It can easily become a harried time of year, running to and fro, getting things done, and so on. I like to take time to totally stop, breathe out, maybe have tea by the Christmas tree and reflect in 
preparation for the new year......

This has been a busy December for my elf friends and me.  The head elf around here is my personal designer, she has been working on a couple of secret projects but also a few I can share.......

Every week she volunteers at a preschool.  She made each student and teacher in the class an angel peg doll ornament.  She attempted to capture each child's personality and looks.  The children and teachers loved them!!

We also hosted a lovely little party!  The guests had a pleasant time decorating candles by the light of the tree, exchanging gifts and enjoying snacks.  

The snowflakes we cut out and hung make me smile every time I see them dancing above my head in the kitchen!  They are so joyful!!!

My main culinary expedition of the month was poached pears!!!  They have always been somewhere on the list of fancy, elegant things I aspire to make somewhere along my journey 
of culinary exploration.  

I was absolutely ignorant about the secret lives of poached pears!   The ingredients for the syrup are mostly my on design. I browsed many recipes and chose the ingredients and proportions which seemed logical, then while cooking I added more spur-of-the-moment ideas that bubbled out of the pot!  

Hope you enjoy!!!!!  

- - - - - Pizzazzy Poached Pears - - - - - 


* 4 pears
* 3 cups apple cider
* 3/4 scant cups sugar (we use cane sugar)
* a few slices fresh ginger
* lemon rind and the juice therein 
* 2 cinnamon sticks 
* 20 whole cloves
* some raspberries for later

*  Peel pears, leaving them whole with stem on (do not let them 
   sit out too long because they will get chilled and 
   become distempered).  Pit them by inserting spoon from below 
   and carve out the seeds (do not skip this step!). 

*  Mix cider and sugar in a medium saucepan (measure 
   pan beforehand to find one that the pears can lie in 
   with some breathing room).  Heat until sugar dissolves, 
   then carefully add pears.  The syrup will be hot,
   do not splash!

*  Add the ginger, cloves, cinnamon sticks and carve 
   off a few slices of lemon rind and toss in!  Squeeze as 
   much lemon juice as you think you might enjoy and return 
   to heat.  Cover with a piece of parchment paper to 
   seal in the moisture and simmer for approx. 
   20 minutes or until they are soft and you can 
   easily insert a fork. 

*  When they are pleasantly soft carefully spoon them out onto a 
   dish leaving a liberal coating of liquid on them.  Place the 
   dish into the oven on the lowest setting.  

*  Continue to cook the syrup down at a simmer to your desired 
   consistency.  I cooked mine for approx. 20 minutes....I think.  
   Be aware, the syrup will set up a bit after you remove it from 
   the heat.  A few minutes before removing from the heat add a 
   nice handful of raspberries (frozen are fine!) for color 
   and a bit of pizzazz!

*  Remove pears from the oven and serve with the syrup 
   spooned over top and a dollop of yogurt on 
   the side!!! YUM!!! 

Regardless of our religions or beliefs, this is a great time of year to reflect, regroup and replenish.  It is a perfect opportunity to reach out in a compassionate gesture, and warm someone's heart in the bleak mid-winter.  It is a time of year that helps me to realize how important my life and the things that round it out are; a time when I realize how much I cherish the lights that guide me along my path through life.  

So, I would like to extend to Everyone Wishes of Joy and Peace!! 

Happy Holidays!!!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

First Snow!!

As some of you know, I love most anytime of year and can gush about the beauty of it; the first snow is no exception, in fact 
it might be one of my favorite times 
(hmmm....does that sound familiar?)!!!!  

I absolutely adore the first snow and look forward to it for weeks!  A week or so ago we had a few descending flakes of snow and I instantly wanted more!!  Yesterday my wish was granted and it is lovely--buckets and buckets of it accumulated overnight!!  And the snow continued to swirl and whirl into the early afternoon keeping it fresh, sparkling and clean all day! 
Well, this is my ode to winter and crystalized ice!!  

My favorite variety of snow is the kind that comes overnight, transforming the world into a winter fairyland. It's like a present when you look out your window in the morning. 

The snow caught the garden rather by surprise!  A few roses that were hanging onto the memory of summer had a snowy send-off.

My friend Miss Shirley has been preparing for the snow with her thick winter coat and watched it fall inquisitively from the doorway of her house...

There's something peaceful and contemplative about slowly working and doing chores in the barn while the weather 
blusters about outside.

I have a tradition of making my first pumpkin or squash pie of the season on the day of the first snow; it is a nice way to welcome the wintery weather while admiring in from the warmth of the kitchen. I used the recipe I shared with you last November, only this year I used some of our lovely volunteer pumpkins that decided to grow on our brush pile this summer.  We had fun making a wintery scene with them in the snow!

 "Do you want to build a snow man, c'mon out let's go and play......"  I'm sorry I don't know what just came over me, my mind must have been a little Frozen for a moment....

As I grow older I tend to spend less time frolicking in the snow and more time admiring it from warmer places....I found a lovely sunny spot in our new greenhouse, it was 
surprisingly warm, almost cozy!

The parsley shares a similar sentiment when it comes to snow so we forged a camaraderie while staying out of the biting wind......

"Sunshine is delicious,
 rain is refreshing, 
wind braces us up, 
snow is exhilarating;  
there is really no such thing as bad weather, 
only different kinds of good weather."
~~John Ruskin