My Winter Friend . . .

This week in north central Texas winter had returned with ice, snow, and several closures! But I am celebrating one of my favorite winter friends – the cold-hearty pansy and of course, you may know why. I love the heart-shaped colorful petals that come in over 250 colors, with unique feathery patterns, and the blooms are edible if organically grown.

Conducting a little background check on my winter friend’s historical importance, I learned pansy comes from the French word “pensée” dating back to 1800s. If you have a birthday this month, the pansy is your birth flower. To my delight, pansies enjoy significant symbolism and wonderful folklore attached to their long existence. Here is one of my favorite tales from the Victorian era – “But in Victorian days, a pansy meant a secret love or secret courting. People were not allowed to show public displays of affection or passion back then. To express romantic feelings, a partner would secretly send pansies nestled in many herbs and wrapped in a doily. This bundled floral arrangement is a tussie mussie. These bundles stood for “I am thinking of you,” I have thoughts of you,” or “I have amorous feelings for you.” Is that not the sweetest moment in pansy history?

I am hoping once the winter weather clears, my pansies will have survived, and they will continue to make my heart smile!

Our First Date . . .

As many of you may know, I met my Mr. Z at a New Year Eve celebration the year that Captain & Tennille had the longest running number one hit Love Will Keep Us Together. Being outdoor enthusiasts and college students, our first date was ice skating on an outdoor skating rink during a frigid, cold Minnesota January afternoon. However, we did not mind the weather because we were in our own winter wonderland of love!

And since that memorable first date we have been skating through a wonderful life full of spins and upward spirals and of course an occasional fall, but we always axel jumped our way back to the good life! This week, I found this poem by Laverne P. Larson as I was right sizing my office and I know why I saved it . . . that first date thing!

The Skating Pond 

How often I remember
The frozen prairie pond
That seemed to be a wonderland
Touched by a fairy’s wand.
Skating with my merry chums
Brought my heart content,
Laughing, shouting with such glee
At magic winter sent.
What fun to glide on crystal ice
Through sometimes we would fall
But scramble to our feet again,
Not minding it at all.
And as the snowflakes drifted down
To swirl with north wind’s blast,
Our dearest hope would always be
That wintertime would last.
I often think about those days
And wish for them once more,
For through the eyes of childhood,
They held great joy in store.

 Oh, by the way I have the white ice skates and use them occasionally for Christmas decorating at our home.  I think first dates can be the best – your thoughts?

Sand Sprinkled Shores . . .

Craving some quiet interlude this past week, Mr. Z and I took time to sneak away in the afternoon with bowls of popcorn to binge watch the Hallmark drama, Chesapeake Shores. The series centers on the O’Brien’s, a multi-generational Irish family reuniting as adult children, which presents endless directions and possibilities. It is based on Sherryl Wood’s 14 book series Chesapeake Shores. Through the six seasons we watched the O’Brien family ride the wave of rediscovery that inspires, encourages, affirms, and celebrates the human spirit! The sixth season ended last fall, however we just tuned in since we are not regular TV or movie viewers. I would love to hear your thoughts if you have watched this stirring production.

This series reminded us to continue to elevate our sights, enlarged our imagination and to continue to enjoy vacations at beaches and places with beautiful coast lines. The lush sets and costumes were a visual fix for the two of us, which brought back special memories of our time spent exploring the tranquil Cayman Islands a while ago.

The O’Brien’s were always celebrating and enjoying many culinary delights through their journey of life, and I was inspired to try a new blueberry muffin recipe. The muffins look similar to the ones that dear grandmother O’Brien made many mornings for her children and grandchildren to devour as they rushed off seeking the splendor of the day. Mr. Z thought they were scrumptious! I had to agree!

As we embrace the new year, may we contemplate this quote from the author of many contemplative books Martha Sinetar, “Everything placed in our path can help us. Certain films… like certain lovely people, glorious works of art or music, and special instances of prayer – seem a grace expressly given for our edification.”

Celebrating a New Year . . .

Yes, I have been given another 365 days to continue to create my incredible life story and you get to do the same! I am sure you will make each day of your life a real page turner. As you embrace your new year chapters, may they be filled with everything you need to make you grand. Let’s not forget just four splendid seasons ago we were all provided the same gift. I am always grateful my life story continues, as I am lucky enough to be a part of a great family and I enjoy my one-of-a-kind friends, including you, my dear readers!

On this chilly January, Texas afternoon, I am going to leave you with this enlightening new year eve message written by Donna Ashworth, an author and poet who resides with her husband and sons in Scotland.

On the stroke of midnight tonight, you can resolve to be better, if you like…
to be fitter, 
to eat cleaner,
to work harder. 
On the stroke of midnight tonight, 
you can resolve to become a whole new you, 
if you so choose.
Or, you can take a moment to acknowledge, all you already are. 
Because it’s a lot. 
You’re a lot. 
And you deserve to be commended.
On the stroke of midnight tonight, perhaps you could congratulate yourself, for coping. 
For breaking, again, 
and for rebuilding, again.
For catching the stones life has thrown at you, 
and using them to build your castle that little bit stronger.
You have endured, my friend.
And I don’t see the need to resolve to become a whole new you, 
when you are already so very much indeed.
Happy new year.
You made it.
Now let us face another 365 day-turn, arms wide, 
accepting, embracing, and ‘seeing’ each other,
for all we are.

Happy New Year my sweet friends!



Winter Solstice . . .

Today, we welcome the beginning of winter. And I began the day by wandering back through our collection of winter photographs and reflecting on the peace and tranquility I always find as I spend time in nature. I found this heart-warming capture of our beloved Airedale Terriers and myself frolicking and catching snowflakes during a rare snow day here in north Texas! It reminds me to celebrate and continue to honor my connection to the natural world as our ancestors did. As the weather is about to shift to record setting cold this week here in the USA, I am sharing with you this little piece of wisdom as we celebrate the winter season.

“The Gate of the Winter Solstice is open. May this day bring you peace, tranquility, and harmony. Let the dark sink into silence so you can hear and see the Light that is being born.” ~ Unknown author

Happy Winter Solstice!

A Christmas Stroll . . .

I am excited to share a few vignettes of our home dressed for the Christmas season to inspire or put a little smile on your face or perhaps both! Decorating our home has been a tradition for Mr. Z and myself since the first year of our marriage. Being blessed with a creator mind set, I savor the decorating, the planning for get-togethers with family and friends, preparing luscious food, the smell of baking home-made cookies, and the cutting of the evergreen boughs. What’s your favorite Christmas rituals?

This year, I was inspired to decorate by hearing the lyrics from a few of my favorite Christmas songs. Living in the country with wildlife always nearby, I chose a nature theme for this nine-foot tree.

The tree skirt was created from a velvet curtain panel I had in the attic! When relaxing in this room we are swept away by ~ “O tidings of comfort and joy, comfort, and joy.”

To bestow a little holiday bliss, the dining room sparkles with rustic woodland touches and soft glam influenced by my Twelve Days of Christmas plates, which are so whimsical.

By the end of dinners with family and friends we all will be singing ~ “On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me a partridge in a pear tree. On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me, two turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tree” . . .

Mr. Z requested his favorite snowy flocked tree again for our bedroom and peaceful retreat area. “As long as you love me so, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!”  I added a soft touch of cream and gold ornaments, and Kris Kringle found a special place under the tree to rest his legs before his big day.

I was pleased to recently learn that St. Francis of Assisi staged the first nativity scene in 1223. Since that time nativity scenes have gained popularity over the years. Our nativity set is an heirloom from Mr. Z’s family. Some of the figurines are over 90 years old. ~ “What child is this who laid to rest, on Mary’s lap is sleeping, whom angels greet with anthems sweet, while Shepherds watch are keeping.”

Our serene, peaceful guest suite was decorated in soothing colors of ivory and greens as we wished our guests to ~ “Have yourself a merry little Christmas, let your heart be light. From now on our troubles will be out of sight.”

Here in the hearth of the home is where many memories are being created with friends and family gathered around this festive tree and table for this special season.

Remember the blog post this past summer where I created wool hearts from my favorite old coat? Here is the tree where they will experience ~ “Christmas is a season of love, a time for being with the people you really love, so open your heart and let the giving begin.” 

My tablescape was created with a collection of Mr. Z’s favorite plates and they always put a smile on his face.

The fireplace mantle displays artwork created by a European artist and reminds us of the deer that relish nibbling grass in our backyard. ~ “You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen, Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen, but do you recall the most famous reindeer of all?”

I hope you enjoyed strolling through our home and I love this quote from Freya Stark, “Christmas is a piece of one’s home that one carries in one’s heart”

Merry Christmas!

Dear Santa Claus . . .

I am sharing a delightful letter handwritten to Santa Claus by my mother-in-law, who recently passed away at the age of 97. This endearing letter was created 87 years ago when my mother-in-law was at the tender age of ten. The year was 1935. And you all know the world was a very different place back in those days, no computers, no cellphones, no iPads just paper and pencil for creating a Christmas letter to Santa! I am very grateful to my grandmother-in-law and my mother-in-law who saved this precious letter and presented it to us many years ago for a special holiday treasure. I hope you enjoy the letter and the innocent typos!

Dear Santa Claus,

What I would like for Christmas is a doll with human sewed on cloth foundation she has ringlets. She has eyes that sleep, real lashes a Mama voice, an organdi dress, White shoes, rgon socks and a Bracelet. She is 19 inches tall and costs $3.39. I would like that for Christmas. I think I could have a doll because I’ve been pretty good girl for ten years old tho I have fought with my sister sometimes. Well, I’ll have to stop written now because its almost 15 after 6 down here now in the evening. Speed is watching me write he is a Bull-dog. Well so long Santa, I hope you will come to Rochester, Minn to visit I hear you are coming Dec.5 will I be glad when you come here. I’m sick with a ear ache in both ears but I seem to be getting over it now. My sister is cutting out paper dolls. But when mother said she was getting her a baby doll she stop. She told me when she is in bed at night, she is so happy she crys I can’t blame her. Well, my Birthday is soon here now it’s Dec 3 and mother bought me something I don’t know or I would tell you. Well, my time is up I think because I’m getting sleepy now, so long Santa be a good boy and be sure to make my doll.

Your friend, Betty. Tuesday November 27 is when I wrote this letter – Don’t forget Santa.

Being spoiled by her parents, I do believe my mother-in-law received the doll she requested from Santa Claus that Christmas. Who could resist such an endearing little request! This year, my mother-in-law will be celebrating her first heavenly Christmas and we will dearly miss her. But I am sure her Christmas will be divine!

Wishing you all a memorable Merry Christmas!

DYI Christmas Skirt ~ Glamorous Dresses . . .

How many past Christmas dresses, prom dresses, and bridesmaid dresses to you have stored in the dark recesses of your closets? You know the sequin-embroidered design, iridescent, gleaming dresses you wore only once or twice and created beautiful memories while wearing them. Perhaps you made a head-turning entrance, enjoyed being the princess of the ball, or met your mesmerizing prince charming, and he swirled you around the dance floor until the clock struck midnight! And let us not forget the bridesmaid dresses! If you are like me, you keep storing the dresses because of all those unforgettable memories, and just maybe you spent a fortune on one! Today, I am sharing a great DYI to use those dresses in another memorable, creative manner. As a simple Christmas tree skirt. Yes, you read that correctly!  Over the years I have upcycled my stash of dresses for festive tree skirts. Of course, I have traditional tree skirts and I like the wicker and metal tree collars but being a creative I choose to use alternatives in my decorating. Last year, you remembered I used our ivory, chunky knit sweaters from Greece and another with Nordic design form L.L. Bean. Now back to how to use those special party dresses. I simple cut the back of the dress from top to bottom, and then use it like a regular tree skirt. Then tucking the cut sides together in the back under the tree. The picture below is the Christmas tree in my office this year with a one-of-a-kind tree skirt a.k.a. party dress!

Pulling out all the party dresses for my creative Christmas decorating reminded me of a European, feel-good movie we watched not to long-ago, Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris starring Lesley Mansville. The movie is such a whimsical journey by Mrs. Harris from London to Paris, where good deeds are rewarded and dreams do come true. I highly recommend the movie!

Okay creatives, head to the dark recesses of your closets and locate that one-of-a kind holiday dress and make it a tree skirt that no one else will have! Cheers to glamourous dresses and beautiful tree skirts!

A Delicious Day . . .

Last week, as we strolled into The Silver Spoon Kitchen and Bake Shop Restaurant, we knew we had discovered a neighborhood charmer located in the heart of historic downtown Lawton, Oklahoma. This restaurant combines upscale dinning with a down-home, artistic atmosphere, becoming an essential place for us to have lunch during a break from exploring the Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge.

We were excited to learn this restaurant serves farm-to-market fare and well-crafted cocktails with a vintage twist, and we will not forget the mouthwatering bakery goods!

We savored our creatively created meals prepared to our liking, with so much flavor. As we were leaving the restaurant the delightful staff invited us to return for an evening meal where they promised we would be impressed with their Chilean sea bass, seared salmon filets or grill to order, Angus beef. Of course, we were very tempted by their offer, but Mr. Z was resolute about creating images during the ‘golden hour’ at the Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge. And when the last of the light descended below the western horizon, it was time to sit back and observe wildlife enjoying their natural surroundings. Indeed, a most delightful evening!

Being an explorer of culinary wonders, I am wishing you a holiday of culinary explorations that will surprise and delight your palate!