September Inspiration . . .

Dear Sweet Friends,

My favorite ‘ber’ months are arriving SeptemBER, OctoBER, NovemBER and DecemBER and I’m looking forward to cooler autumn days, falls colors, and all the wonderful holidays I will be celebrating with you! Here are a few quotes I’m loving this week. I hope you will love them too!

Dear Old World,

You are very lovely and I’m glad to be alive in you. ~Lucy M. Montgomery

Keep a place within your heart, For little dreams to go. ~ Author unknown

A wise woman renews herself, In proper season, she develops her talents,

And continues her education. She musters the discipline to reach her goals.

She dispels darkness and opens windows of truth to light her way. ~ R. M. Nelson

The day will come when your old life won’t fit anymore. When this happens its time to take off fear.

Put on bravery and change to faith. Find the space in the world that fits your exact shape.

And fit it authentically. ~ Author Unknown

Friends are diamonds who reflect the light of our spirit. ~ Mary Davis

Always listen to your heart. It may be on your left, but it is always right. ~ Nicholas Sparks

Wishing you effervescent joy! Mary

Back To School Special . . .

Dear Sweet Friends,

It is back to school in Granbury, and time to celebrate a new academic year for the delightful children and their exceptional teachers. I am wishing them all a happy year filled with lessons taught and lessons learned! Indeed, it will be a special year for all.

This yesteryear photograph of my kindergarten class stirs many fond memories of a dear, kind teacher who helped me fulfill my potential. She inspired me to dream and to be curious as she planted new seeds of knowledge in me, a motivated five-year-old. I am thankful for all she did for me during that formative year knowing I would grow, succeed and continue to reach for the stars.  A gold star to anyone who can spot me in the class photograph!

I had to share this truthful and endearing story by Robert Fulghum entitled, All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten.

“Most of what I really need to know about how to live and what to do and how to be, I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate school mountain, but there in the sandpile at Sunday school. These are the things I learned:  Share everything. Play fair. Don’t hit people. Put things back where you found them. Clean up your own mess. Don’t take things that aren’t yours. Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody. Wash your hands before you eat. Flush. Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you. Live a balanced life. Learn some and think some. And draw and paint and sing and dance. And play and work everyday some. Take a nap every afternoon. When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic. Hold hands and stick together. Be aware of wonder.”

Thanks to all the teachers for inspiring and making a difference in our world!

Much love, Mary

Celebrating Freedom . . .

This weekend as Americans, we celebrate our gift of Liberty as “endowed by our Creator” with the ratification of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. Every year, I am so very excited to celebrate this momentous event!

On a recent June adventure to an area museum, I was fortunate to be given the privilege to page through a 1902 Sears Roebuck & Co. catalogue. During that time, one could order a 10-foot American flag for a cost of only three dollars and fifty cents! It was a special moment for me, thinking of the people who purchased that flag in 1902 and adorned their homes with a symbol of patriotism.  Being nostalgic, and a girl who loves our country’s flag, it was a joy to come upon this vintage catalogue.

To make our 2021 Independence Day a memorable event, I fashioned a classic, patriotic table setting that salutes the day!

Let’s table talk – I started with a simple blue vase of white roses and flags. I added natural grass braided handwoven chargers, and then simply piled on the red, white and blue glassware! As I was reflecting on the importance of our independence, I chose to make a copy of the Declaration of Independence to create the festive take home gift cones.  They are filled with special surprises for our guests!

To complement the stars and stripes table salute I created a DIY wooden signs project using leftover scrape wood from our recent home addition. I painted them with traditional patriotic colors of red, white, and blue.

After the paint dried, I then decoupaged images from my flag collection photos on the wooden blocks. I love how they look on my table and to think they were scrapes of wood to be tossed out. With imagination look what is possible!

Have a most happy and blessed Independence Day!

Much love, Mary

Love At First Sight . . .

I am a starry-eyed June bride! Known as a hopeless romantic who is crazy in love with my sweet man who chose me to marry him four and a half decades ago this month! We only exist because our unique paths crossed one snowy, winter evening in which it was love at first sight! After a fun two-year romance, we were married in a three-day celebration with family and friends. Now, four and a half decades later our love is in the lived-in stage, aged to our perfection, and filled with many stories worth celebrating.

On this special anniversary, to continue to add pages to our love story, we decided to celebrated with a creative and romantic anniversary challenge: three different restaurants, for three consecutive days, in three small towns traveling only country roads.

Our first restaurant was Zeno’s on the Weatherford square. This authentic, Italian restaurant celebrates love, (amore) food, (cibo) and family (famiglia) a perfect choice for our first celebration. We were impressed with their fine menu with such homemade pasta delights as Lobster Fettuccine, Lemon Ravioli, Spaghetti Cacio E Pepe, Lasagna and a scrumptious crusted, homemade bread. During our dinner, we felt whisked back to our beloved Italy. A beautiful first gem on our three-day celebration!

The second day of our anniversary challenge found us in the quaint downtown of Glen Rose. Our choice was the Riverhouse Grill located in a renovated historic home with creaky wood floors which we adore. Sipping on Arnold Palmer’s, and devouring our Asian Grilled Chicken Salad entrees, we met fellow restaurant visitors who have a love for fresh, locally sourced food and remarkable old homes.

As we were finishing their French inspired crème brulee; our waiter provided us with a history book of the restaurant. We learned this landmark home was ordered from a catalog so many, many years ago. The history book inspired us to visit the Barnard’s Mill Art Museum (a restored grist mill built in 1860) down the street from the restaurant where we enjoyed quality art, private collections of bronze sculpture, and significant history of the area. Glen Rose was a lovely little jewel to commemorate our anniversary on day two!

The final day, we celebrated at the Chop House located inside the turn-of-the-century historic Midland Hotel which was built in the 1890’s and restored in 2014 in downtown Hico. Our server had a winning smile and effervescent personality who spoiled us like royalty! The restaurant known as a ‘scratch kitchen’ served up a wonderful Beef Tenderloin and a Meatloaf that was definitely not your momma’s! The decadent, rich chocolate torte was the ultimate dessert for us chocolate lovers and anniversary celebrators.

We successfully completed our three-day anniversary challenge with much scrumptious food, love and laughter! Now in a food coma we are pleasantly enjoying the fond memories that linger.

So where are you in your precious love story of life? Do share.

Much love, Mary

Being a “Boy Mom” . . .

Dear Sweet Friends,

Today, I am honored to present a guest writer on my blog. I know you will enjoy this creative storywriter’s work from Jamie, a delightful neighbor who is still my artful and fun-loving friend with over 1,000 miles between us!  We first meet in the fall of 1988, and have enjoyed each other’s “neighborly friendship” during the past 33 years!

Being a “Boy Mom”

Being a mom to two wonderful boys was and is great.  As they went through the age changes, I fell in love with each new stage.  Moving from infant to toddler, moving from grade school kid to teenager, I enjoyed all of it.  Right now, they are adults with their own children and they know any time I have with them one-on-one is my reward.  

We had some funny sayings like, “the next person that talks is a monkey” (Brian was always the monkey) and “no one can smile” brought on giggles and a relief to crabbiness.

One of the things Jeff mentioned was “I do think the lesson perseverance we got was a good one.  When you lost your hearing, you could have given up.  But no, a Master’s degree, a second career that helped how many families and being on the leading edge of hearing implant changes to this day.  We might have learned from that.”

The boys were given permission to be free and independent.  On a couple of first-days-of-summer I would load up boys from our neighborhood and we’d go to the lumber yard.  When I got there, I would ask if they were having their “Tree Fort Sale” and they would load up the boys on all kinds of things.  Then we’d give the boys permission to use hand tools in the garage.  As long as they replaced them.  They had a ball.  

On Snow Days we had a tradition of making chocolate chip cookies watching the snow fall, then I always had an extra roll of masking tape and the boys would use the tape to construct roads all over the house.  Under tables, on top of the couch.  Using their cars, you could hear them all day long.

I think my attitude to change rubbed off on them also.  I embrace change and can always see a benefit.  For the boys to think outside the box was a given since their mom had never even seen the box.

Giving them freedom was easy then and where we were in Ely, Minnesota.  Today, families just are not able to do that.  I was also a school teacher, so I was home when they were home.  Jeff did mention that I probably didn’t know exactly where they were but they knew where I was. 

I have always enjoyed Jamie’s playful writing style! She creates interesting tales with a twist of sensible, down to earth advice. As a neighbor, Jamie was the social instigator of cherished neighborhood activities; a cooking aficionado who spoiled us with yummy culinary delights, a calming presence through the rollercoaster of life, a creative with an eye for style and a fancy for the good life. One could not have asked for a better neighbor! Jamie’s love, kindness, and words of wisdom continue to inspire her boys, and all who have had the privilege of knowing her! And isn’t that wonderful!  

In case you are wondering, what are those sweet little boys of hers doing today? Well, they are all grown up. Both are fathers to great children passing on the advice their mother imparted on them during their informative years! Jeff is a successful large claims adjuster for Travelers Insurance and is married to Catherine a romance novelist. Brian owns a hunting experience for Americans at Villa Gessll, Argentina and is married to Vanesa and together they own a small tourist shop on Main Street, Villa Gessll.

Thanks Jamie, for being a guest writer on my blog and sharing a part of your life story with my readers!

With much love, Mary

Planting A Legacy . . .

Dear Sweet Friends,

Today, I am daydreaming and relishing the shade of this beautiful tree in our pasture, because someone planted it for me a long time ago. Oh my, who could have done such a heroic gesture for me, my friends and relatives to admire? I am sure most of you probably have a fond memory of an experience that centers around a special tree, maybe a fragrant evergreen, or perhaps a century-old oak, a colorful sugar maple, or a swaying palm tree. I have great reverence and respect for the time it took for this tree to grow into such a stately presence. Over the years it has provided shelter for animals and nesting for birds, and a wonderful aesthetic appeal to the warm-hearted ranch owners, and now especially dreamy me.

As a young girl growing up in southern Minnesota, the trees were my playground and having brothers who were gifted in building a treehouse from rough cut lumber, filled me with delightful excitement and pride. We played in the lush green treetops. The boughs were the rooftops and the branches were perfect beds to lay on and embrace the wonder of the day. This little treehouse was a one-of-a-kind hideout, a refuge, a fort, a mansion, our castle which was a haven for all to enjoy.

During my childhood, my parents involved us in Minnesota Soil & Water Conservation projects including planting trees as something done for the good of posterity; and an investment that produces both short and long-term returns. Today the trees I helped plant may be someone’s treehouse, a branch for a swing, or a bed for big imagining or just listening to the wind. As a lover of nature, I believe nothing else offers the same potential for establishing a living legacy as trees do.

This was once just a seed, what are you planting?

Much Love, Mary

Lilac Time . . .

Hello sweet friends,

It’s lilac bloom time in the northern United States. The heart-shaped leaves in rich green will make way for the branches to bow under the heavy weight of fragrant blooming flowers in shades of creamy white, violet, light blue, magenta and light purple. I grew up with a lilac tree in our yard and when in full bloom, the lilac scent crept poignantly into our living room each spring. Aided by my mother filling vases with the fragrant cuttings and placing them throughout our home. When I think of lilacs, I often associate them with love, weddings, and romantic table settings. I am not alone in my love of lilacs, which have likewise been a source of inspiration for artists and statesmen throughout history. Impressionists’ painters such as, Claude Monet and Mary Cassatt both created works portraying the exquisiteness of lilacs in their library of paintings. Statesmen Thomas Jefferson and George Washington had an affinity for lilacs as well, and they reside in their historic gardens on the east coast which we have enjoyed visiting.

I have spent a lifetime in love with the fragrant lilac and was recently introduced to the art of making lilac jelly. It was an OMG moment and I squiggled with delight! Thanks to Ann from the blog – A Farm Girl in the Making for the recipe below.

Lilac Flower Jelly

A lilac flower jelly recipe is a slight, delightful floral preserve. Canning lilac jelly is a great method for preserving this springtime flower.

Prep Time: 25 mins – Cook Time: 6 hrs. – Canning Time: 10 mins – Total Time: 6 hrs. 35 mins – Servings: 4 half pint jars

Ingredients

3 cup fresh Lilac Blossoms, discard any greens

4 cups boiling Water

1/4 cup bottled Lemon Juice

4 cups organic granulated Sugar

1 box jelly Pectin, Sure Jell (A low sugar pectin may be used in substitute for regular pectin. Honey may also be used in substitution for sugar. However, the jelly may not set with this substitution.)

Instructions

1.) Lilac Blossom Tea – Pack lilac blossoms into a half gallon mason jar, making sure to leave out leaves and green ends. This helps to prevent the jelly from becoming bitter in flavor. 2.) Add boiling water and cover mason jar with a clean dishcloth. Allow tea to steep up to 6 hours. Steeping the tea overnight creates a better infusion. To steep overnight place the tea into the refrigerator. 3.) Using a fine mesh sieve, strain tea. Make sure to press the blossoms to release any tea from the flowers. 4.) Add 4 cups steeped lilac flower tea to a non-reactive or heavy bottom pot. Bring to a boil. 5.) Next, add lemon juice and powdered pectin. Bring to a boil. 6.) Finally, add sugar, stirring often to prevent scorching. Bring mixture to a hard boil for 2 minutes. 7.) Remove and discard any foam. Ladle jelly into 1/2 pint mason jars leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Wipe rims using a clean dishtowel. Add warm lids and rings finger tight. 8.) Process jars for 10 minutes (up to 1,000 feet sea level) in a hot water bath or steam canner. Add 1 minute to the processing time for every 1,000 feet above 1,001 feet sea level).

The recipe sounds divine for a lilac lover like myself, however lilacs do not grow well here in Texas and hardly exist. Today, I must console myself to wait for the right opportunity to obtain a large cluster of lilacs to make this lip-smacking delight!

Please share your lilac stories with me. If you have ever made lilac jelly, I need to know!

Much love, Mary

Loving My Facelift . . .

Hello sweet friends,

There comes a time in life when you suddenly realize the creases and wrinkles need a little help or tightening up. I know ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’, but it was time! This past week I made the decision to perform a content sculpting or ‘facelift’ on Awakening Wonders. I hope readers will be able to use the HEARTS section as inspirational resources for their creativeness.

Come inside and take a look!

Much Love, Mary

P.S.  Photo taken during our time spent at the resort city of Piran, Slovenia on the Adriatic coast. A dreamy place to get lost in!

Mother’s Day Weekend – Note to Mom

Dearest Mom,

Well done . . . I’m awesome!

Love, your ‘flawless’ daughter!

As many of you know my beloved mother has been dancing in heaven with my precious father for several years.  However, I still thank her for the gifts of love, wisdom, laughter, gratitude, which she imparted on me during our time together on this earth. Remember, it is not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves that will make them successful individuals in our beautiful world.

On this wonderful Mom’s Day weekend, I would like to honor all the mothers, grandmothers, great-grandmothers and all the motherly figures for their commitment to imposing love and wisdom to their dear children!

Enjoy your special day!

Celebrating World Laughter Day

On this laughter day here are a few quotes that inspire me.

‘Let there be laughter. Love. Peace. Hope. Friendship.’

‘If you’re not laughing, you’re not living.’

‘When you love and laugh abundantly you live a beautiful life.’

‘Choose kindness and laugh often.’

Wishing you my dear friends a day full of cheerful giggles!

Mary