Tuesday, May 28, 2013

White Linens and Purity.....

There was a time when white linens were what everyone wanted.  Yes, it's true.  When a Bride wore a white dress, she had dreamed about her dress forever or so it seemed!  It was part of the ritual of preparing for marriage and the wedding.  She went through an engagement period where the focus was on acquiring the items she would need for her trousseau.  There would be the batiste, embroidery, lawn, and lace.  "Women have never lost their passion for the frivolous secrets hidden away in lavender-scented line cupboards." Yes, women have a passion for linen and the wedding festivities were prepared by the elder women for the young Bride. Families did it all, from the bouquets, to the planning of the wedding, to the food served and the training of the Bride to "wait" for her husband. [Intersect grace here....for we all need to be reminded that God does indeed leave room for HIs grace.] Times have changed.....  Even years ago when I was young, this planning and the purity began to unravel and today it is noticeably different.  Again, grace intersects because God looks at the purity of the heart.  That is what is truly important.  

I am the eternal optimistic when it comes to mentoring young women!  God's Word has a definition of beauty and of purity and we are exhorted in Romans 12:2 not to allow the world around us to squeeze us into its mold.  In Proverbs 31:30, physical beauty has been given a short life...."Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain".....Charm in the Hebrew means "bodily form".  Form and beauty are two things that our culture esteems and pursues with fervor.  In I Peter 3:4`5 we are told as women, "let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious.  For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves."  God defines beauty and purity by how we look on the inside, our heart.  God encourages us to cultivate a beauty that will only grow more attractive and more beautiful with the passing of time.  Investing in a young woman's life is such a privilege for a mother, grandmother, or aunt, or even a cherished friend.  Young women today are bombarded with so much that glorifies the body and not the heart and the soul.  In my life, as a mother of daughters and a son, this consumed a lot of my prayer focus and energy.  It was difficult then.....I can only imagine the prayer and love mothers pray over their daughters today.  With that said, there are many, many ways though in which a young Bride continues to desire what you and I desired in years past.  She still goes and selects items for her home and does this with a love and desire that is beautiful.  A woman still wants a beautiful, happy home!

So....on to white linens!  I love white towels, white linens, white anything......imagine my delight when I happened upon a lovely linen store, Cologne and Cotton in London and other towns around the UK.  The linens, the soaps, the cologne, the cottons...well it was all there and it was beautiful.  I could just imagine a young Bride selecting her linens and bedcoverings.  Think about it, "the very thread of life that weaves a deep-seated link between textiles and humanity in a symbolism reaching back to the infancy of the human race."  These words are by the author of a book I own, The Book of Fine Linen.  You see, white linens, beautiful white linens are something since the beginning of time cultures around the world have associated with beauty and with romance and with being feminine!  Here's to white linens!  Enjoy the photos of the ones I purchased and the inspiration from the Lily of the Valley!  I can hardly wait!

These scented sachet's were so fragrant.....

Every Bride loves the fragrance of Lily of the Valley!
It is a symbol of humility in religious paintings and is often used as a part of the Bridal bouquet.  Catherine Middleton used this lovely flower in her bouquet.
"I am a rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valley"    Solomon 2:1

Sunday, May 26, 2013

OH PARIS..... "These Are a Few of My Favorite Things!"

PARIS!  Why must it be so hard to choose my most favorite photos? ! There are so many of mine that tell so many different stories...each one is a journey ...a journey of JOY and happiness for me personally!  I am choosing  and sharing a few that represent, in color, the beautiful sights of Paris!  I am filled with gratitude for the blessings of our trip earlier this month!  Just as being in the presence of a thankful person brings us refreshment, I can honestly say THIS is how Paris sort of makes one feel, refreshed!  You don't see many grim, joyless people around Notre Dame or the Eiffel Tower.  Everyone has a smile and excitement is on the faces of almost everyone who is visiting the city of lights.  Even the Parisians seem to be happier people, excited to share their joy of their beloved city. 
Enjoy the beauty of some of my favorites....every corner is a snapshot!  I hope your week ahead is filled with beauty and with joy.  These are attributes that can truly be found anywhere if we take the time to cultivate them in our own hearts and then pass them on!  
DEAR HEAVENLY FATHER....I pray we can all focus more on the beautiful surroundings of our day, I think all of us with your grace and goodness can be more grateful for the blessings in our lives!  Yes Lord, each and every day! "We give thanks to you, O God: we give thanks, for your name is near!"  Psalm 75:1
"Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what The Lord hath done."

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Shakespeare, his work, his life and times....

The Home and the Birthplace of William Shakespeare.
 Shakespeare was born here....so they told us....
He was baptized at Holy Trinity Church, Stratford~Upon~Avon
on April 27, 1564.  The precise date of his birth is not known. (interesting)
although it was customary to baptise an infant three days after birth.
Infant mortality in the 16th century was high so he was fortunate.
 Imagine eating in this dining area.....450 years ago!
 The Interior of the home...a bust of Shakespeare
 Holy Trinity Church
 Our Hotel
The Church Street Townhouse
Inside our hotel.....Kara's creativity!
The greatest writer of all writers, William Shakespeare, was born and lived in a beautiful small English village known as Stratford Upon Avon.  Stratford is the village and Avon is a lovely river that flows through the village. 

As a senior in high school, my English teacher arranged for us to see the film Romeo and Juliet.  I still remember every detail of that day.  The teacher, the bus ride to the theater (The Belcourt Cinema), and most of all the film....I was hooked on Shakespeare. The prose, the poetry, the time in which he wrote.

Shakespeare's story begins in the heart of England, in Stratford-Upon Avon and the local Warwickshire villages of the Arden to the north and large open fields south of the River Avon, known as the Feldon.  As we made our way to our hotel, we settled in and then off to his family home.  His father's profession was that of a glove maker.  I found that interesting right away....I love gloves, I love the use of hands and to think that this was his father's profession made the home even more interesting.  The home and Stratford in general was beautiful!  We enjoyed a beautiful day there, just walking and enjoying the beautiful village of Stratford. 

After the tour of the home in which he grew up, we walked to The Holy Trinity Church where William Shakespeare is buried.  Beautiful sitting and beautiful church. 

Our evening in Stratford ended at our hotel with good music and good food!  It was a perfect ending to a perfect day!  The next morning, we enjoyed a full English breakfast which Steve and Phil had really looked forward to!  As we said good-bye to this lovely place, I could see the inspiration and the beauty from which William Shakespeare began his life. 

Like much of the beautiful and vast history of England, preservation is important to their national trust.  The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust preserves this beautiful part of all our lives for future generations who fall in love with the written word.  He drew inspiration from the beautiful surroundings in which he was born......so proper, so articulate, so beautiful the lovely way they speak and pronounce the English language! 

Now....let us have some tea!  Enjoy your day my friend!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Osterley Park and House.....West London

~The Entrance Steps and Courtyard to Osterley House~
~The lake sourrounding the entrance is a park like setting!~

 ~The back of Osterley House faces a great meadow which provides spectacularf views~
 ~The Long Gallery~
 ~The Library~

 ~The Kitchen~
Gerogeous floors!
 ~Beautiful "old" door in the side of the gardens.~

Just outside of London,on the Piccadilly Line station, Osterley is found! Arriving at a quaint little city station, my journey began!  It is there where I found a beautiful National Trust Home, Osterley Park and House. To me, it seemed as though it was frozen in time and little had changed in two centuries.  I became interested in the house after seeing the period film The Young Victoria. This is a beautiful film about the young Queen Victoria, her childhood, her reign as Queen of England and her love and devotion to Prince Albert and her driving passion for many, many humanitarian causes in her lifetime. Her life both personally and in her profession are inspiring to me.  She was a mother, a loving wife, and friend to her country. Many of the scenes were filmed in the house.  I was so glad I went for I was truly inspired by it's beauty and preservation.  When visiting places like this, history comes alive!  

To get there, I left Kara and Phil's house, walked four miles to the city train station, took the train into London, found my way to the Piccadilly Line (or the Tube) and rode several stops, changed the train again, and got off at Osterley, and then walked another two miles.....but it was so worth it! 

Osterley is a grand Neo-classical palace, set in an idealised landscape.  Osterley Park is an astonishing survival, an 18th century country estate on the western flank of London.  Two extremely wealthy borthers, Francis and Robert Child, and the architect Robert Adam spent two decades designing and refining the house in imitation of classical antiquity.  Most of the interior is just as it was when they lived.  Some of the art has been removed and other art placed there in its place.  The Child family were successful bankers, orginally from Wilshire.  I learned that in the early 18th century many prominent families moved to the west of London where this home is found.  This was my third National Trust Home to visit in England and so far, Stourhead still is my favorite but these homes are preserved and maintained through England's National Trust.  Many of them have beautiful gardens and inspire us all as we visit to go home and appreciate the beauty of preservation and restoration.  

My favorite rooms were the Library, {no wonder}....I love books!  It was light and airy where the other rooms were more formal.  I also loved the bright windows in the breakfast room but it was undergoing restoration....it was smaller and cheery!  On the ground floor, the servants hall was massive as it must have taken many servants to "run" the house for its mere size. The rooms for the senior staff who ran the domestic household was almost as beautiful.  The floors were beautiful there....Italian stone similar to what people use today. Carpets, bookshelves, and paintings made it feel like a place were these people were welcomed and appreciated.

The gardens were in full bloom with English bluebells!  England is a beautiful country!  If you have not traveled to England and are considering it, you should go.....it is so easy!  Get your passport, read, read, read, study, study, study, save for your tickets, plan where you want to go and then do it!  You do not need to depend on a tour guide if you prepare ahead. You can book your own hotel rooms in excellent places if you do your research.  It's a great first country to travel to, especially for Americans, because they speak our language, only much more proper and with beautiful accents and dialects!  If I can help you plan your trip, let me know, I lwould love to......then go to France next! 

I have found that people everywhere are wonderful and we are more alike than different.  God, in His wisdom and goodness, made us this way.  As the song says, Love In Any Language! Kindness and goodness are in found everywhere, in almost every heart.....we just have to empty ourselves of who we are and take that first step to see another person on this journey of life.  May you be blessed today with joy and happiness, my friend, in the fullest measure!

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."  Romans 15:13

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

LONDON and BATH.....

~Beautiful London~

The Ampersand Hotel.....
Our hotel in London was near the Natural History Museum and the decor' was
so stylish and chic filled with scenes of flowers and birds....loved this!
 ~Hyde Park~
 BATH...a photo shoot everyday, everywhere....Bath is like a storybook.
As you enter the town, the uniquness of the buildings go on and on....
In many period films of England, holidays were "taken" in Bath and I can understand why because every little corner has a unique place to stay for the night.
Our hotel was the Queens Hotel!  
 BATH is of course known for the Roman History of the Roman Bath's and it is found in the center of town.  Today, Bath is a thriving, busy city filled with locals and tourist from all over the world visiting this unique city center.  The circus acts of local artist are around the city center on weekends performing their daring and talented acts.
The shops are filled with beautiful finds and displayed so tastefully!

 ~The Spring Seasonal Flowers are just waiting to be picked~

Before Bath, we were in London as it is always busy, modern city!  It reminds me in ways of New York City but oh the fashions and shopping are uniquely British!  Anything and anyone goes!  Our favorites were........ the sights of Westminister Abbey, Buckingham Palace, The National History Museum, The Victoria and Albert Museum, Big Ben, Tower Bridge, walking in Hyde Park, and the other usual sights we all love to see but the highlight this time was seeing my husband enjoy Portobello Road and the Notting Hill area and just spending time with Kara and Phil, a rare and special treat!

I am always inspired by people and places where beauty dwells.  Beauty comes from within.....everyday that I live I realize this more and more.  Our lives are busy but business can keep us from what is truly valued and important in life.  The Lord clearly has impressed upon my heart that "those who look to HIM ARE radiant".  May this focus always be at the center of our hearts.  Spending time in the Lord's presence for me is the best holiday!  Refocusing so that I can complete the work of life He has called me to do. Whatever your gifts are my friend if you will quietly and earnestly ask the Lord to guide them and use them HE will.  Trust Him with your life! The generations to come will be affected by our choices today....that is a sobering thought!   Have a blessed and beautiful day!

"You don't need to carry a burden.  He wants you to have a light load.  Take every thought captive.  Hold each worry up to His light.  He is able to lift the weight off you.  Cast your cares upon Him.  Psalm 55:22

Tuesday, May 7, 2013


 The Caron de Beaumarchais Hotel
in the heart of the Marais district of Paris....

 ~The Lobby~
 ~The Breakfast Room~

~Our "perfect" room~

PARIS......what can anyone say except that there is no other city like it! As soon as you breathe the air, see the lights and the sights, watch the people, and embrace the French culture, you are in for a lifetime of LOVE!  Parisians love their famous city and go all out to share this wonderful place with people from all over the world.  I rarely thought about going to Paris until I began to be drawn to French furnishings and decor'.  When the opportunity came.....well, the rest is history!!! Now that I have been twice , I am on a mission to share this city with everyone and help others to go, get there, travel there, enjoy and be blessed by it's beauty!  

Several years ago, I read about a quaint hotel in the Marais district of Paris.  Paris-Le Marais is an old Jewish district with every winding street perfectly looking like a little postcard to send home.  This area is where real Parisians live and many own darling boutiques and shops stocked full of beautiful clothing, perfumes, and decor' for the home.  It is close to museums and just a walk away from the Siene and it's beautiful bridges.  The Champs Elysees is just a few blocks away.  

In the lobby, a rare piano-forte of 1792, a fireplace, candles everywhere and chandeliers recreate the charm of a private house in the Marais in the time of Beaumarchais and Mozart.  The owner greets you in this charming hotel with his French accent and the staff who all speak English are most gracious and helpful. 

I held on to this magazine for years, hoping to stay at the hotel!  After several weeks of trying, I received notice that they had an availablity for nights last week!  As my photographs show it was more beautiful than the magazines photos!  If you go to PARIS, or should I say, when you go to PARIS....consider booking a room there!  It is lovely!  The breakfast each morning was wonderful!!!!  It is offered in your room or in their beautifully appointed breakfast room.

My husband and I walked and walked, saw so much more of Paris this time than last and truly enjoyed every moment. On our final day, we decided to go to the Jacquemart-Andre' Museum!
This museum is in a beautiful mansion and contains a private museum of a husband and wife born in the 1800's who shared and devoted their lives to art collection.  The collections are shared in every room of the mansion in the Plaine Monceau area of Paris.  It was amazing!  Their private bedrooms were furnished with beautiful furnishings and fabrics.  The wife, Nelie', was a talented artist and was commissioned to paint a portrait of Edouard Andre' and from this meeting they fell in love.  Together, they were devoted to the work of eighteenth century artists and craftsmen.  The rooms present a complete panorama of a golden age in art!  Formal, but tasteful and preserved so beautifully for those interested.  Afterwards, we enjoyed the best lunch in the Cafe Jacquemart-Andre'.  We had a "perfect" view of the gardens.  The museum is open all year round and if you go, try and purchase your tickets in advance.  We did wait in line a long while but so worth it!

 ~The Formal Courtyard~

~Upon entering the courtyard, the flowers were beautiful~

We were blessed with beautiful weather everyday while in France!  I hope to share more of our journey.......The Lord has been so good to us over the years.  We always traveled with our family and it was rare for us to take a trip by ourselves.  I wish I could go again but I want others to enjoy the blessings and beauty of this wonderful place. The lives of those who built this beautiful city was inspired by God for His imprint is everywhere from the natural beauty of the rivers, the trees, the flowers, and the art and artist who continue to be inspired there.......

Ecclesiastes 3:11  "He has made everything beautiful in its time.  Also He has put eternity into man's heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end."