Sunday, August 21, 2011

Weymouth, England

 The beautiful harbor of Weymouth, England!
Boats line the harbor as far as the eye can see.
 ~This part of England boasts a gorgeous shoreline~
 Durdle Door is amazing.....disbelief that something so perfect could be a product of nature and God's handiwork!

 ~St. Mary's Church at Piddlehinton is situated near the river Piddle...more like a stream~
Phil's parents are both English bell-ringers and his Dad still rings the bells every Sunday morning at a church in Weymouth.  On this particular day, he was in a bell ringing competion in Piddlehinton.  We had the honour of watching a group of six bell ringers ring the bells! It was a glory to God to hear the perfect music of the bells!
 ~This is one of the favorite photos that I took the entire holiday~
~The Cross on the church at Piddlehinton~
 In Dorchester this magnificent Abbey takes up a entire block!
Before heading to London we enjoyed a wonderful meal at Phil and Kara's favorite place for dining....The Woody Nook near Reading, England!

One of our son in laws was born and grew up in this beautiful fishing village known as Weymouth!  It's lovely!  The village comes to life in the summer because its beaches are filled with tourists and in 2012 some of the sailing events for the Summer Games will take place there. Having seen it, I understand why the location was chosen for sailing!  Last April, while on a holiday to visit with Kara and Phil, he drove us to many beautiful places throughout England but the day we drove from a little village called Piddlehinton to Weymouth was one of my favorite days!  Piddlehinton is a village in west Dorset, England situated in the Piddle Valley five miles north of Dorchester.  Phil's grandparents live in Dorchester and it is lovely also!  I would say the best way to see England is in a car, with a British Phil or his grandfather! They might be available!  They know how to drive the curves with speed and have the ability to take you to places you would only read about otherwise!   Please do enjoy the beautiful pictures of England on a day when I am missing my girl......yes, she's in England, her home now!  As a mother, I reared my children to fall in love with life, to be passionate about their dreams, to laugh, to not think too highly of themselves and  to achieve educational goals. I encouraged them to pray and follow where God would lead them...they were and are encouraged to be an individual in every sense of the way. It is good to be an indiviual and develop your own thoughts and dreams. Sometimes, separations are hard but it is often those times that God uses to grow us and develop us into the people HE desires us to be.  Time spent with God and in thoughtful prayer does encourage us to have our own thoughts and dreams. The times we are blessed to be together  with those we love give us memory pictures so as time passes we can remember the details of those magic moments we have shared with others we treasure.  Sort of like a lingering fragrance that stays with you long after the person is gone from your presence.  I love it when a story begins...."Once upon a time..."  "Once upon a time, I enjoyed the pleasures of visiting England."  I need to begin saving up to go again. Yes, I do!   May God bless you on this beautiful Sunday! 

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Southern Home

 In the film, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof....a white sofa was important in the set forward to this beautiful white sofa as a mainstay in this home...designed for gracious living from House Beautiful!
 These sofas are set to mirror each other for great conversation!
A must in any "southern home"!

If Cat on a Hot Tin Roof were filmed today....I am sure that the decor' could look something similar!

Many southern homes are beautiful! Just close your eyes and imagine a beautiful lawn, a flower garden full of roses for cutting and an entrance that is welcoming and inviting! I know that description would be picture perfect! Truthfully not all southern homes are as grand and perfectly furnished as films about lives and families in the south have been portrayed. But, southerners do enjoy their homes and most enjoy entertaining in their homes. When I first moved to Mississippi, which is known as the Hospitality State, I was so pleasantly surprised at the warm invitations we received for dinner in people's homes and the food was actually prepared by the host. The table arrangement of flowers had most likely come from the garden of the hostess! It seemed it was here that I truly realized the joys of entertaining and sharing one's hospitality in their own home. The living room and the dining room are usually still important to a true southern home. Gathering spaces to talk......for the women and the men. Men like to talk too, just not what we, as women, enjoy talking about!!!

In the current film, The Help, I really enjoyed the set designs. The story is good because it deals with equality and snobbery and other unspoken and terrible things that happened in our country in the past and maybe even still happen in some places, regardless of race or region. Thankfully, I grew up in a southern town and family that respected the equality and fair treatment of all races. Another film I really like about life in the south set in the 1950's is Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.   It is based on the book by Mississippi author, Tennessee Williams. In the book, he deals with the southern family who in desperation tries to portray an image of new wealth and are living their lives to impress others. In reality, the portrayal is all a lie. They fight, quarrel, mistreat each other while trying hard to love each other and project the perfect southern family. The home that Big Daddy and Big Mama have built is furnished beautifully with antiques but is lacking the one virtue In the end, through the drunken brawls, jealously, and desires the family seems to realize that material wealth cannot ever bring one happiness. It is what goes on inside a home and a heart that is most important.

So....the southern home, I hope, is not so much different from any home. Hopefully it is beautiful because the ones who reside within the walls care and love each other. A little paradise right on earth. This is possible!!!  Take time to center your own heart in what really will matter in the atmosphere of your home. For me, that comes from my faith and hope found in my Savior, Jesus Christ. I am not striving for perfection, the Lord knows I am far from it!  I pray He will fill me and you first with sweet spirit and a love and joy that fills each and every room with the fragrance of Christ.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Paris.....Simply Beautiful!

 ~This lovely couple made me fall in love with a pink Rose'....I'm not kidding!~ A true French couple, just out for the early evening, enjoying each others company!
Her jacket, her complexion, her feminine pose....all made me see the French women are all about classic beauty...untouched by others they simply were enjoying Paris at dusk....~
 ~Just as beautiful as one would imagine...The Eiffel Tower, built in 1889~
 ~Pink peonies in Paris.... and of course I thought Kacie and her love for pink peonies~
 ~The floral displays were fresh, fragrant, and charming...makes you think anything can grow in the soil of France~
 ~Beautiful Luxemburg Gardens, right in the heart of Paris!~
 ~Yellow, pink, gold, blue, is heaven...spectacular gardens provide any variety of flower for a simple bouquet or a garden party!~
 ~In Paris, it seems everyone appreciates beauty~
Splendid Chocolate.... in beautiful gift boxes!
~The Louvre~
It IS magical!
~Chic design and the way the French display with such ease and effortless style make us all enjoy shopping for our favorite finds.....hoping for just that right gift to bring home to a treasured friend!~

Paris is beautiful! The city of lights! Street after street looks like a postcard!  The cafes, the flowers, the museums, the parks, the people, the churches, the boutiques, the bakeries, and the coffees all make a trip to Paris a wonderful experience!  Some people go often, or so I'm told, but I've only been once and I will forever treasure the memories of Paris in my heart!  A city where people do not get in a hurry!  Women smell so good with their perfumes lavished on! I do love perfume! French women spend a great deal of time, I am thinking, to look beautiful, and they DO!  To me, it seemed relationships were treasured and intense.  They may have spent time dressing beautifully..... but the transparent way that they talked and chatted with one another was inspiring to me.  I thought, do we talk to each other that much in the United States? In our relationships, in our families?  Many of our events have to be planned....their's seemed more spontaneous!

If our day is changed and we are called upon to listen to a friend in need, do we listen?  I hope so.  I hope you have someone to share your needs and dreams with and someone who will listen.  Most importantly, as I stated,  I hope you and I are listeners.  Listening is a rare  and valuable trait!  So many times our thoughts are racing ahead to the next hour or tomorrows activites.  I pray we slow down....we learn the virtue of listening and caring and sharing another's is then that we truly find that our own burdens are lighter!  To listen...yes....we should!  The trip to Paris was worth it....and especially the lesson in listening!

Monday, August 15, 2011

God's Desire for Us

The Heavenly Father has always been drawing men and women into a realtionship with HIM! It is humbling to realize that long before you or I were born that over a thousand years ago, men were building this glorious cathedral in Norwich, England!  God never waste one single day in our lives.  Do you think these men understood that their labor would be adored and appreciated 1000 years later?  Yes, my friend, God has a desire for us.  A desire for us to know HIM and love Him.  HIS desire is for a personal relationship with us.  OH....come let us adore HIM! 
~Inner Courtyard of the Norwich Cathedral~
April, 2011
~Photos from inside the sanctuary~
~Jesus Christ~
The Louvre
Paris, France
April, 2011
                               What matters supremely, therefore, is not,
in the last analysis, the fact that I know God, but the larger
fact which underlies it~the fact that He knows me.  I am
graven on the palms of His hands; I am never out of His
mind.  All my knowledge of Him depends on His sustained
initiative in knowing me.  I know Him because He first knew
me and continues to know me.
~J.I. Packer~

The highest praise of God is to declare what He is.  We can
invent nothing which would magnify the Lord; we can never
extol Him better than by repeating His name or describing His
character.  The Lord is to be extolled as creating all things that
exist and as doing so by the simple agency of His Word.  He
created by a command; what a power is this!
~C. H. Spurgeon

~My Prayer~
Surrender~My plans for Yours
Confession~My sins for Your purity
Grace~My inabilites for Your abilities
Obedience~My obeying your heart and walking uprightly with You, O God!

"All to Jesus I surrender, all to Him I freely give....
I will ever love and trust Him....In His presence daily live....
I surrender all, all to Him, My blessed Savior,
I surrender all!

Blessings to you this beautiful Monday!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Holkham Hall....Holkham, England

 The 3,000 acre park is home to an abundance of wildlife and forms part of a valuable conservation area.  When you approach the landscape garden these deer are a magnificent sight!  It seems almost surreal that so many could be found in one place! 
 First glance of Holkham Hall is amazing!  An architectural gem among England's finest estates!  It is hard to believe that this is still a private family home.  It has been described as the perfect English house from the Golden Age of England's finest homes.
 The small village of Holkham provides a community for those who live and work there.
It is quaint and thriving beautifully!
 "THE VICTORIA HOTEL"  where we enjoyed a delicious meal!
~The interior of "The Victoria Hotel" lobby~

This has been my year to travel! It hasn't always been my honor to travel in this fashion but after rearing and mothering our brood of children for many, many years and having them all so close by, this has been their year to to speak.  We were one of those families who did everything together!  I mean everything!  I enjoyed mothering my brood and totally found happiness in being full time Mom, cook, "maid", driver, teacher, sports enthusiast, encourager, spiritual mentor, university fan, and whatever else they might need along the path of growing up!  Today, the five of them are closer than ever in spirit and bond but their dreams are broad and their visions are even broader so they go where their dreams lead them and the opportunites they've been given guide them..... and for that I now have the divine pleasure of visiting some amazing places!  Yes....lucky or a better word is blessed.  Blessed that they still desire to share their lives with us. I enjoy every place they are living!

While visiting Kara and Phil, Kara casually mentioned that there was a beautiful coastal area about an hour and a half from where she and Phil are living in the area of Norfolk, England.  The area is Holkham.  She wanted to visit and my sister Pam and I said...."Why not?"  That was all it took to send us on a wonderful adventure!  Of course, you can travel there by car but our adventure began at the train station where we traveled as far as the train would take us, then we boarded a bus and traveled as far as the bus would take us, and then we walked another five miles to our destination, Holkham Hall!   We were not disappointed!

We enjoyed a wonderful meal at the historic, Victoria Hotel in the village of Holkham and then walked the two to three miles to the home of Sir Edward Coke.  He was regarded as one of the most brilliant lawyers of his time, wisely investing his wealth in land and from these shrewed investments grew the forutne that 150 years later, his descendant Thomas Coke used to fund the building of the house, known as Holkham Hall. Today, one of his descendants lives in the private home with his family. The architectural detail of the home was established in the early 1700's as one of the pioneer movements in England at the time known as the Palladian movement.  The beauty of the exterior and interior was brought to life in the film, The Duchess. Several of the scenes from the movie were set inside the mansion.  Much of the beauty of the interiors can be seen throughout the film.  Holkham Hall is exceptional for many reasons and we were blessed to experience its beauty while visiting England in the Spring of this year.  I hope to go again.  I hope you will enjoy the beautiful photos!  England is a beautiful country and I hope you will travel there to enjoy its beauty!  After all, history lessons are often our own private lessons we've experienced with those we love!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Beautiful Dark Woods.....

Dark woods in furniture seem to be making a come back!  For me, that is good, since many of the pieces that we've collected over the years are darker woods.  I have to admit, I have painted several pieces because I like the look but I am seeing that if you add lighter elements in the room you can still achieve the coastal or contemporary look that is so popular with designers today.  The room above is a great example of furniture that possibly could have been inherited from a grandparent and given a new look by just adding a few touches! 

The current issue of House Beautiful has a home featured that has many rooms that are darker than we are accustomed to seeing in magazines.  The designer chose light sofas and rugs and even an adorable table cloth by designer April Cornell to lighten the mood and add a modern touch!  I love it!  You can find it in the September issue, currently on newstands.

Looking at the rooms, I thought about how there are times in all our lives when "light" seems to be something we long for.  One of my favorite passages in the Bible is found in the Psalms....."Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path."  Psalm 119:105  God's Word is that lamp that guides our feet on the step at a time.  If we are blessed to live a full life, there will be times when the path seems to go dark.  In other words, we have to wait for God to show us the next step we are to go.  Waiting doesn't mean that God isn't working.  He is God and He is ALWAYS working to bring light to our path even in the dark times. He never slumbers or sleeps.  Sometimes God saves the best to last.  If you find yourself in a place where you are longing for direction, where the room or situation seems dark, let me urge you to TRUST God.  God works in mysterious ways.  He can take a situation that seems hopeless and dark, where everything seems stripped away and design, remold, renew and remake!  He can bring "light" to any situation.  He can bring something beautiful....Our God is like that-gracious, compassionate, and full of mercy! Always working to make your life beautiful!

I admit I enjoy the light!  I enjoy windows that let the light shine!  Give me dark furntiure but let the sunshine in!!!!   I hope your day if filled with sunshine and lots of it!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The Ramos House Cafe~1881

 ~This tasteful little display was on our table~
Fresh Rosemary in a white vase, their famous cookbook, brown sugar cubes, and a topping!
 ~The guest are greeted to this lovely New Orleans style courtyard, even though you're in  San Juan Capistrano, California!~

From the Cook~book:  "Dating back to 1794, Los Rios Street is the oldest remaining neighborhood in California!  More than 200 years ago, the street was founded and occupied by the soldiers and the families that oversaw the construction of the mission, San Juan Capistrano."  Beautiful indeed!

Today it is home to many cottage industries which are extremely popular and amazingly profitiable!  As the french would say as your meal is about to be served..... bon appetit!  These people know how to savor life and eat well.   The owner is still hands on and has created a place, along with his employees,  that is both beautiful and inviting!  It was such a treat to go there and enjoy a delicous meal with Brigitte, my friend who gets the treat of living nearby 365 days a year!  Southern California boast year round fresh fruits and vegtables!  Our meal was a combination of both the sea and the land!  Below I am offereing you this wonderful recipe from the cookbook:  The Ramos House Cafe~1881!  Bon Appetit!

Serves 6

1 lb dungeness crab meat
5 small pototoes, peeled, boiled and mashed
1/4 cup of mayonnaise
1/4 cup eggs
Pinch cayenne
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tbsp Colemans's mustard
1 bunch scallions, chopped
1/4 cup basil, chopped
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt
Bread crumbs or panko flakes, as needed

In a large mixing bow, combine all ingredients except for bread crumbs, until thoroughly mixed.  Mix in bread crumbs until bound.  Form into 3 ox. patties.  Roll in panko flakes and fry in olive oil (he uses bacon grease) until golden brown on each side.

Serve crabe cakes over salad greens dressed Chipotle Chile Remoulade and finely diced tri-colored bell peppers.

Chipotle Chile Remoulade
Makes 3 cups

1 1/2 ox chipotle chilies, pureed
1 cup Zatarains Creole Mustard
2 cups mayonnaise
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
2 tbsp honey

Blend all ingredients in a mixing bowl with a whisk until incorpaorated.  Sauce will keep refrigereated for up to 2 weeks.  Enjoy!

Their website:


Friday, August 5, 2011


~Beach Umbrella's in vibrant gold for rent on the beach in Santa Monica, California~
~They even come with chairs and towels~
 ~The view from Casa Romantica in San Clemente, California~
I was blessed to spend a few days with my dear friend, Brigitte at her beach condo!
So fun!~
 ~San Clemente has beautiful, clear, pristine beaches~
It is known as the Spanish Village by the Sea
~The pier at San Clemente~
A view from Casa Romatica!
The blessings of the past two weeks have been numerous.  I am a far richer person in my soul for the gift of time that I was honored to spend with one of my daughter's, Shelly. I am honored that God would allow me to be her mother, her friend and that He entrusted Steve and me to rear her and nurture her gifts and talents!

You see, when a child is born, little do we comprehend at the moment, the hours, days, and years, if we are blessed, that will go into helping shape their lives.  So much could, I guess, be left to chance unless we seize the time given to us as a treasured gift.  Children are born with all sorts of possibilities and it is up to us as parents to guide them into the way they should go.  The Bible speaks of this as training them in the way they should go.  Training takes discipline and dedication to get the job done in a way that brings joy, happiness, and balance to a little child's life.  I believe that when we meet a child's needs early in their development we are laying a solid foundation for their lives as they grow and mature.  We know what is happening each day because we are involved in the shaping.  Our goal as parents hopefully is to be less and less involved in their personal choices as they reach maturity, giving them room to make their own decisions and room to flourish!  There is no definite time table and as wise parents we have to know when the time has arrived to begin letting go.

This brings me back to the past two weeks of my time with Shelly. She long ago left the "nest" but needed a little help to get her car out west for a new job. Steve worked round the clock to make sure her car was ready and prepared for the trip. With his blessings and prayers, we drove across country to three days.  The first evening we arrived in Austin, Texas to spend with Kristen and her sweet family!  Shelly enjoyed seeing Kristen's new home and the children!  We left early the next morning and stopped in Fredericksburg, Texas, a small town settled by German immigrants.  We enjoyed delicious pastries and coffee and even a winery and chocolate shop!  We had a rather long day but made it to Tucson, Arizona.  We talked, laughed, and experienced driving the desert together!  A beauty all it's own for sure.  Our final day was clear and beautiful arriving in Los Angeles around 4:00 pm! After checking into our hotel, we began our adventures! We had dinner the first evening on Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica.  This beautiful area offers everything you could imagine. Over the next few days, we found an apartment for her, shopped for new work clothes, shoes, and even found time to relax a little on Sunday and enjoy the beach! We enjoyed wonderful conversation and special times just walking around Santa Monica and the area where she'll be living.  Shelly is such a special person!  Her heart is big, her personality is captivating and she has always been open to life and all its opportunities.  Her travels have taken her so many places throughout Europe, North and South America and the United States, and her life is a sum of each experience. She is Shay~Shay to her nieces and nephews and so special to each one of them.  God gave us all an interesting, creative, fun, and beautiful  person inside and out when she entered our lives! She enjoys learning and she enjoys giving and sharing from what she has experienced!  We all hope for her so much success and joy in this new LIFE chapter!
 ~Saying goodbye for now to her siblings.....but looking forward to their visits to southern California!~
~For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord..."  Jeremiah 29:11
"You are my sunshine....!"