I had a favorite Aunt ( I was named after her) who had a great deal of joie de vivre. She had a way of living that celebrated in daily ways, and that made her a very charming person. She was also very accomplished, in almost everything she set her hand to, actually. She was a concert pianist, a smart business woman, and at one early point had worked for a hotel and could keep a home that Martha Stewart would have envied. I was always a little in awe of her.

During a short period of my life I lived in her home and during one winter day she surprised me with a pretty pottery container filled with pebbles and six bulbs halfway submerged in them. With the directions to place it on the windowsill and keep it watered, I experienced the discovery of how beautiful and fragrant blooming paperwhites could be.

Forced paperwhite bulbs bloom for a long enough time to really enjoy, but half the fun is watching them sprout from their plump brown globes to form the straight spears of bright green, then form their stalks of flower buds that burst open with the most elegant white blooms. They remind you of life and beauty every day that you see them perched on the window’s ledge.

Photo by Shelley Noble of

Narcissus ‘Paperwhite‘ How -to

White Flower Farm detailed directions

  • choose a watertight container or pot with saucer
  • put layer of pebbles or river rocks 2 to 4 inches deep
  • place the buls in with some stone, but leaving upper part of bulb exposed
  • pour water to the level of the root at base of bulbs
  • place somewhere cool and after rooted well, in a sunny spot
  • enjoy

Apple Butter

While making a trek into Hocking Hills country I stopped and picked up some Laurelville homemade apple butter. If you haven’t tasted apple butter that is made with the taste of all outdoors, cooked in the open over a wood fire…well, you have missed out on something truly special.

My grandmother always had a jar of this treat on the breakfast table, and I well remember the smooth spiced brown apple butter that we put on fresh bread toast points with our soft boiled eggs in egg cups. My grandfather would read us a selection from “Our Daily Bread” and then we would dig into this homey and sustaining breakfast repast. It was such a good memory to take through the years, and the delicious taste of real homemade apple butter always resurrects it in my mind.

This might be close, Apple Butter: McCutcheons 4 Pack, but I would look for a roadside farm market or stand – or maybe you have apple butter festivals going on near you ?

From the book of Lists: 20 fun activities

  1. Bake cookies
  2. Help a neighbor
  3. Enjoy nature. (…set up a bird feeder… find shapes in the clouds…study the stars)
  4. Visit a zoo or museum
  5. Create a painting or poster
  6. Put on a play or puppet show
  7. Find something to collect ( shells, coins….anything)
  8. Plant a garden
  9. Collect cans and bottles, refund and give money to charity
  10. Fly a kite
  11. Take flowers and a card to someone sick or lonely
  12. Read books aloud
  13. Make giant pictures with sidewalk chalk
  14. Do a talent show
  15. Go on a hike or bicycle ride
  16. Look at family photos
  17. Tell stories
  18. Make family cards for the next holiday
  19. Paint each others faces
  20. sing songs

~ from ideas by Tami Stephens

Things to Feel Nostalgic About

…from the book of “Lists”

A barefoot walk along a sandy beach.

A quiet visit to the place you were raised.

Listening to a rippling brook running over the rocks
through a forest of autumn leaves.

Singing the song of your alma mater.

Looking over childhood photos in the family album.

Watching your now grown “child” leave home.

Standing silently beside the grave of a close,personal friend, or relative.

The smell and sounds of a warm fireplace.

An old letter, bruised with age, signed by one who loved you.

Climbing to the top of a wind-swept hill.

Getting alone- all alone- and reading aloud.

Christmas Eve, late at night.

Certain poems…. certain melodies.



Saying good-bye.

Charles Swindoll

“Growing Strong In The Seasons of Life”

The Family Holiday Meal

I love holiday meals, and I like them best at home with family at the table. Some of my favorite times were those when we invited others into our family circle: singles, people from other nations….

Sitting around the table afterwards, the good feeling of having served a delicious meal and creating an atmosphere of blessing and invitation makes the holiday meal a special one.

Everything about it is something I enjoy: the menu planning, as I page through my recipes and sometimes go looking for that certain addition to make this years meal memorable; the shopping with all the festive foods displayed in the stores best efforts at presentation ( with tastings if your lucky enough to get there early); the chopping and preparing, the basting and the delegating of duties…. to the setting of a pretty table and the platters of food that never seem to end coming forth from the oven and their places in the fridge.

The family thanksgiving prayer as we gather around the steaming food plates and beautiful condiments, the knitting together of hearty appetites and heartfelt conversation.

I really like family holidays, all the work is worth it.

Shopping for Baby Things

I love going shopping for baby things now that I am a grandma. When my own children were coming along our budget was too strapped to do the kind of shopping I do now: whimsical love-that-for-baby type shopping. While I don’t think we should depend on shopping to lift our mood, there is just something wonderfully synergistic about shopping for someone you love, and grandbabies in particular.

I have a new grandchild coming – so soon there will be two in our family, both boys. My daughter is newly moved to a location far from here and she won’t get to have the usual baby showers that come with being close to friends and family; all the more reason to have grandma shop for cute baby things!

I went to a Pottery Barn Outlet and there were some nice things including a bear-head bath towel. I stopped at Baby Gap for some all-cotton sleepers. I am sort of picky when it comes to natural fabric clothing for babies. Too many polyester misshapen outfits for my own babies made me decide that cotton was the way to go, if it feels nice to me, it feels nice for the baby.

I think much of what makes this so fun is the fact that babies… and the children they grow into are just discovering the world and as an adult you relive the joy of discovery with them. There is a vicarious involvement with all things bright and colorful, with things that squeak and are squeezable. There are so many ingenious toys, and darling outfits…it is just fun!


Geraniums are always cheering – all kinds of geraniums, whether the dainty scented types or the bursting red garden ones. Years ago I found a poem that helps me maintain an attitude of contentment… since I have often overwintered my geraniums in the windowsill.

Red Geraniums

by Martha Haskell Clark
Life did not bring me silken gowns,
Nor jewels for my hair,
Nor signs of gabled foreign towns
In distant countries fair,
But I can glimpse, beyond my pane,
a green and friendly hill,
And red geraniums aflame
upon my window sill

The brambled cares of everyday,
The tiny humdrum things,
May bind my feet when they would stray,
But still my heart had wings
While red geraniums are bloomed
against my window glass,
And low above my green-sweet hill
the gypsy wind-clouds pass.

And if my dreamings n’er come true,
The brightest and the best,
But leave me lone my journey through,
I’ll set my heart at rest,
And thank God for home-sweet things,
a green and friendly hill,
And red geraniums aflame
upon my window sill.

Spring is just around the corner, when we will be able to plant our geraniums outside and fill containers on the porch. Now that’s a cheerful thought!

Cute Things

Since I now have a very cute grandson, I am reminded of how much I…and who isn’t?… am attracted by cute things! They just make you smile. So a whole website dedicated to gathering together all the cutest pictures on the internet is a way to lift the corners of your mouth into a smile.

Puppies,kitties, hamsters…. all things cute @ Cute Overload.

My own contribution to the cute quotient of the world is the picture of my very own grandson:

Stuffed Animal Toys

I went shopping for a new arrival in the baby department, and saw the cutest stuffed toy lamb. Remember Lambchop? It looked like Lambchop. I loved that puppet as a child, so of course I had to buy that little toy. It is funny how happy things like that can make you feel. I don’t know if it is the combination of fuzzy softness and likeness to baby animals or what.

My husband was with me and chose a stuffed dog- it was so ugly it was cute. I bought both since it was for a first baby. New parents don’t have anything… and it is an old pro like me who looks for machine washable toys 🙂

My own children are all past the stage where they haved stuffed toys high on their list of gifts. Sometimes when I shopped for their Christmas gifts I felt I was buying the toys and dolls that I had wanted as a child. I don’t think that is bad… I think we extend ourselves into giving in that way… an odd combination of being happy because someone else is happy and a memory of what we were like at that stage, or an imagination of what we would like if we were them.

I always sort of prided myself on getting gifts that others really liked. I have to admit that it is much harder when the recepients are teens. Especially teen boys, when my wallet isn’t especially fat. But basically being thoughtful and paying attention to the detail of what someone is like as a person is enough to guarantee success.

But with babies and little children? They are so happy with what you give them and that you love them, usually. And Lambchop must still be capable of inspiring smiles – still does it for me!

Schooling Ones Heart


I have always enjoyed the September beginnings. It reminds me of new books and new beginnings. It is probably more of a “new year” in my mind than January 1st.

One book I best loved as a child was “The Secret Garden” by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I read it over numerous times.

When you are a child you don’t always realize the blessing of freedom. Free to be and to do. Oh, for the time to spend reading books as I did when I was young! Occasionally this summer I took some time in the sun to just sit outdoors and read… for fun. I hope I can remember to carve out times for recreational reading this coming year, reading books that will inspire me.