D.E.Stevenson Take Me Away …

Yesterday here ( Western PA. south of Pittsburgh ) the humidity was so intense that when I stepped out onto the front porch around 7 in the morning my glasses fogged up! So….I am traveling to a ‘clear and bright’ morning with D.E Stevenson….

September is one of the most beautiful months of the year in the Scottish Highlands; perhaps the most  beautiful of all to those whose home it is. The gorgeous purple heather has faded and the hills are brown and tawny; there are little wisps of mist in the valleys which drift gently in the breeze and turn golden before they disperse in the rays of the sun…best of all the visitors have departed and the land belongs to the Gael.

This particular morning was clear and bright with a slight nip in the westerly breeze. The jagged mountain tops were outlined against the blue sky as sharply as though they had been cut out of cardboard with a keen-edged knife; here and there were patches of fir trees, dark against the brown hillside, and little burns ran down amongst bright green mosses, leaping merrily from rock to rock, throwing up sparkling spray and finally plunging into the loch where the peaty stain spread out in a fan-shaped ripple before merging into the clear water.

I grew up reading books that used words such as ‘amongst’ ( which MS WORD thinks is an error ) and ‘whilst’ and ‘forthwith’ .  The quote above is from D.E Stevenson’s book “The Marriage of Katherine”.    My mom had one or two D.E Stevenson books that I read as a teenager. She had some Gladys Tabor books ( I decided later on in life that while Gladys was okay, Jean Hersey, of a similar genre,  was better ) and there were many Reader’s Digest books of the classics. Bottom line, I grew up reading old-fashioned stuff :)

To this day, while I’ve read myriad books of all sorts in my lifetime, if I could only take so many items to an island where I’d be stranded…for amusement I would take old-fashioned BBC mini series DVDs and old-fashioned English books such as those written by D.E. Stevenson. ( Of course the island would be hooked up for DVD viewing :)

From D.E Stevenson . org

“Long out of print, her books are avidly sought by discerning readers throughout the English-speaking world: readers who appreciate endearing characters, familiar yet intriguing situations, and darn good stories.”

DES in the 1930s

She was known as DES to her fans and fans to this day are called DESSIES. Since she has retained such a popularity, while many libraries may have dispersed of older books over the years, hers are still likely to be retained at many. Other than that, used books can be found online.

If you like ‘old-fashioned’ and are not familiar with D.E Stevenson…check your local library for light entertainment with wonderful descriptive writing and engaging characters.

You might also enjoy :  For Downton Abbey Fans  or Baskets & Laura Ingalls Wilder


Rain : Bedraggled Birds, Bowed Down Blooms, & Appreciation

Saturday was very hot and muggy, and I was quite busy with one thing or another and not happy with the heat.   One rule this summer has been…if it’s going to be too hot, that’s the day that I am chasing grand-kids around a lot!  :)

On Sunday I woke quite early and was debating whether to roll over and go back to sleep…but  it started to thunder and lightning and it was not the sort of storm that you go back to sleep in. I did not mind it if it meant cooler weather coming through, though. :)

Later on the morning went back and forth between gentle and heavy rain and I took a few pictures here and there between some reading, sewing, and just listening…to rainfall, the flutter of bird wings, the scampering about of the little squirrels on the porch, the blue jay calling for his peanuts…and you will see that this blue jay was quite soaking wet and molting as well. Craziest blue jay pictures that I’ve gotten yet : )

rainy morning collage 1

rainy day collage 2

Most of my flowers were bowed down from the heavy rains and every visitor was bedraggled and soaking wet.  I got to witness what squirrels do when a huge raindrop hits them. They leap into the air and shake themselves at the same time..all in a split second. I certainly had some entertainment during the rainy morning. But no one was looking their best…

rainy day collage 3

I have observed, though, that these birds and animals love a nice rain and that the minute the heavy rain or storm is over, they are all out and about and enjoying it. The birds splash in the puddles, the squirrels scamper about, they all seem noisier and more communicative than usual.

Or is it simply that I slow down on a rainy morning and notice and appreciate them and nature and what God has given to us more?

Probably the latter :)

You might also enjoy : Summer Food Memories; We All Have Them  ( a great post because the comments surpass the post :)

End of August Piecing and Quilting

Here it is the end of August already! This summer has flown by for me since it’s been cooler than most. I have only been miserable for about a third of it! :)

I have managed to sew together another round of what I call my “Amish colors” blocks : which are four Crosses and Losses blocks arranged into this larger pattern. The breeze kicks up as soon as I put a block onto the line and step back :)

blue and purple amish block on line

I finished hand quilting the block that I showed last week and have moved on to another.

quilting collage end august

Slow Stitching this Sunday will be more hand quilting. I feel as if I am getting somewhere until I look at how much still needs to be quilted. And this is only half of a quilt. But the process is enjoyable and relaxing, and that is why I do it :)

I hope that Sunday will be a bit more relaxing than Saturday, which started with water pipes bursting between my neighbor’s house and mine and water company construction for half the day, and of course the water turned off. Lucky that we are early risers…not sure about her but you never saw someone get a shower, wash her dishes, fill the tub to have water to flush the commode and fill pots and pitchers as fast as me on Saturday morning! :)

I will tell you though, those water guys won’t forget being on our street because once the pipe was fixed and they had to wait around for the guy with the gravel to come fill the holes…they got a huge dish of cut up fresh-off-the-vine tomatoes to have for a little thank you snack.  Those tomatoes were pretty good…I probably made their day…at least until they were off work and reaching for a beer or something :)

Happy Labor Day weekend, everyone!

You might also enjoy :   April Photo Diary  or Cooking Frugally Around Sales   or  Tuesday Treasures: Finches & Food

Sharing at : Kathys Quilts  / Sew Many Ways / Cozy Little House

Come on in for a bit…

Usually in the summer the majority of the photos that I take are outdoors.

cleome and sunflower vine

I recently picked some flowers to bring inside…would you like to come on in with me for a bit?


in the door

This is the time of year that there is finally enough of a variety of zinnias, etc. available for me to pick some flowers and bring them in for bouquets.

On the one side, I simply put a sunflower in the little vase.

sunflower side collage

Editing these pictures reminded me of a favorite from last year of a sunflower so I am going to include it as well. Basically if you bring sunflowers in, this is what will happen down the line : )


On the other side I used several items for vases. I have a juice bottle inside my hobnail vase, and I used various glassware in different sizes. Nothing fancy…just wanted to create the same sort of natural scattered look that I find outside.

flowers in vases collage

That dove is from my grandmother…I usually have it out somewhere during the spring  / summertime. The flowers are a mix of hydrangea. hyacinth bean vine, marigold, russian sage, cosmos, calendula and zinnias.

flowers in vases

Have a quick look around and then since the weather is nice we can go back outside :)

inside random collage

I’ll get the scissors and you can cut some hydrangea and other flowers to take home, and pick some heirloom tomatoes to ripen on your windowsill as well.

back outside collage

Come back soon! :)

You might also enjoy : Front Porch Views  or The One Day Above all Others : a New England Thanksgiving

Sharing at : French Country Cottage / Sew Many Ways / Cozy Little House / A Stroll Thru Life

harvest thoughts from a gardener who reads scripture

I have felt on occasion, that we time some of our holidays at the wrong time. For instance it always feels ( to me at least )  as if it is a new year come fall.

Right smack in the doldrums of winter doesn’t make as much sense to me. When I was growing up…going back to school and the end of summer felt like a new beginning and new year much more than January 1st.

Then there’s Thanksgiving. What’s with THAT! The harvest has been over for ages….there’s a timing that makes no sense for sure.

I think God’s way in the Old Testament makes far more sense. The New Year starts in September for the Jewish people. This year Rosh Hashanah will be celebrated September 24-26. Many of the festivals are celebrated around agricultural cycles. Why in the world did the Christian church replace these sensible festivals at sensible times…who knows. They are all in the Bible.

ANYWAY..avoiding theology here, and just looking at things from a common-sense perspective as a gardener who reads the Bible :

Prior to starting this post, I picked some more tomatoes. A month from now, around Rosh Hashanah, they’ll most likely all be done, and if not, I’ll be watching for frost advisories. A month from now I’ll be trimming trees and bushes, tearing out withering vines, the vegetable plants that are done….turning over soil and adding the compost-turned-soil materials into the garden beds for the next growing season. The old….will be piled into garbage cans. What if I combined these chores with a spiritual meaning?

Then, there is Sukkot. This year Sukkot starts the evening of October 8th and ends the evening of October 15th. I read about Sukkot years ago and wished that I could have a handy guy build me a booth and I’d go to town decorating it! :) Our Thanksgiving should be like this, timed right,  and then if it were, we’d have no need to spend, decorate, etc. so much for Halloween…because this is a festival where an outdoor booth is erected, and decorated with pumpkins, cornstalks, all manner of harvest materials and other things. It is the Feast of Tabernacles or Booths. It’s all in the Bible.

Basically one is erecting a temporary booth / shelter outdoors for a week, decorating it with all manner of harvest materials, and eating / spending time out there for the duration as much as possible, with a spiritual meaning behind it and infusing it.

The booth is to remind people of the temporary huts that the Israelites lived in while wandering in the wilderness.

Makes far more sense than having a Thanksgiving for the Harvest in late November. I am sure that God doesn’t mind that, but He probably just shakes His head and thinks that we are a bit nuts :)

Because we could be doing that around harvest time…’after you have gathered the produce …Be joyful at your feast”.  ( Deuteronomy 16 )

I Googled “Beautiful Sukkot Booths’ and there is a lovely and diverse variety on the Net.

Birds and Blooms Late August

A few birds and blooms around here lately …

The sweet little finches continue to visit the sunflowers here in the backyard. Some of the older flowers are about done now, between the birds and squirrels but I planted a succession of sunflowers so I think the finch feast will continue until they are ready to fly south.

GF good shot GF collage GF Collage for HS

Cosmos in the front with the morning sun shining through them…


I decided not to train my volunteer morning glories in the back to come up via twine on the back porch, as I did last year. Rather, I am letting them wrap around the tall grass and I must admit, it’s rather pretty. The russian sage is in its glory at this time of year as well.

morning glory and russian sage

A finch enjoying one of the latest round of sunflowers…

goldfinch on newer orange sunflowers

A variety of flowers on the side of the house and the pee gee hydrangea is in bloom now.

hydrangea zinnias side of house collage

While the bees are buzzing all over the hydrangea and they love the russian sage as well, flies congregate around the hydrangea bush as soon as it comes into bloom. I don’t know if this is the same story for all hydrangea varieties or just this one, but I notice it year after year. And that’s okay…if they are happy out there, they are not trying to get into the house! :)  

You might also enjoy :  A Wonderful Day for My Dog Lily or Why My Dogs Love Melanie from Comfy House & Other Randoms

Sharing at : Savvy Southern Style / French Country Cottage / Sew Many Ways / Frugal by Choice / Cozy Little House

Slice of Life…& Tomatoes


morning roosters in the kitchen

During the winter months I often wonder whatever possesses me to spend money on tomatoes in the grocery store since they are generally tasteless.  But ah, how tasteless they were never ceases to amaze me when once again, local tomatoes are available… and better yet, local tomatoes from my own backyard.  Then I rediscover and enjoy the taste of *real* tomatoes.

Scrambled eggs for breakfast with fresh picked summer tomatoes on the side; heaven.

eggs and tomatoes breakfast collage

The scent of the tomato plants themselves on a summer day is like none other…each summer I breathe in that unique and ( to me ) heady scent and relish it as I pick the ripe tomatoes.

tomatoes collage

Last summer I did quite a bit of canning but still ran out around February. This summer I am not to the canning point yet…I am just enjoying a few cherry tomatoes, a Roma here and there, and  the “Early Girl ” tomatoes.  This is the point in time where I have 5 or 6 on my windowsill, 5 or 6 almost ripe on the vine, 5 or 6 in a bowl to take to my sons house, and a few to offer to a neighbor to enjoy.

tomatoes in bowl

And if the grandchildren are over? It’s the point in time where as fast as I can slice tomatoes for a salad…I have to slice an equal amount for them to eat right then and there.

Corn tomato cuke salad kids collage

On that particular day it was basically one tomato for the cucumber-tomato salad, two for them, and repeat :)

The heirloom tomatoes are beginning to ripen now; delicious :)

You might also enjoy : Indoors & Outdoors Mid-May or Tuesday Treasures: Thunbergia Vine or Delicious Appetizers

Sharing at : Cozy Little House / Savvy Southern Style / French Country Cottage/ Sew Many Ways / Lavender Cottage Gardening / Frugal by Choice

Hand Quilting late August

I have finished up hand quilting the latest block that I was working on…

sunflower basket block HQ

In the hoop is another block for the weekend.

In the hoop now august 23

The heat and humidity ( normal summer weather ) have returned. Saturday morning found me mowing grass early, while it was still wet, to avoid getting too hot later. HA! I had to come in and take a second shower….this was all before 9:00. It was quite humid! I think that the majority of hand quilting this weekend will be in front of the A/C unit :)

You might also enjoy : Baskets & Laura Ingalls Wilder

Joining with other slow stitchers over at Kathy’s Quilts for Sunday Slow Stitching. Also sharing at : Sew Many Ways / Frugal By Choice / A Stroll Thru Life / Freshly Pieced

sometimes there are no words

Where were you when Kennedy was shot. Where were you when 9/11 occurred. Where were you when ISIS beheaded journalist James Foley.

ISIS did not get my attention because they beheaded an innocent journalist. They have had my attention since the first time that I read about them and felt sick to my stomach and spirit because surely they were evil incarnate, attracting crazy and evil people from around the globe, and also I felt angry and ashamed that our weapons ( abandoned or stolen over there ) were helping them to advance so quickly.

Daily I read the stories of the persecuted Christians and the Yazidis and others and the horrific crimes…rapes, crucifixions, beheadings, and cold-blooded murders. And I read how they are recruiting psychopaths from around the globe ….

Where was I when they beheaded journalist James Foley? I was up early since I was going to babysit all the grandkids that day and when I checked the Internet news early a.m. I was shocked, saddened and utterly appalled.

I could go on but the point of this post is that whenever there has been terrible trials and troubles in the Middle East and I question God and ask “Lord how shall I pray” I have many a time been directed to pray from Psalm 137. Many of you may be familiar with this Psalm in which is the phrase “If I forget thee O Jerusalem”  I have prayed from other Psalms…I believe that we are to pray for the peace of Jerusalem which encompasses so many faiths..but for the purpose of this post I wanted to share this music link.

I came across this a few days ago on youtube and the person who had uploaded it only titled it as “Beautiful Jewish Song “.  I discovered that it was the Shira Chadasha Boys Choir from other videos but could not identify which song this was. However it was so haunting and so beautiful I thought that surely it must be a Psalm from the Bible. 

I did find a facebook page for this choir and posted my question as to the title of this song.

When I received my answer from the boy’s choir Facebook page, it was simply : IM ESHKACHECH .  

Since I don’t speak Hebrew I thanked them for the answer and then Googled that and it is a portion from Psalm 137.

For some reason in a blog post ( Or this WordPress blog post ) this won’t link up…you need to copy the link below and then paste it into your browser and then it will take you there if you would like to hear this beautiful melody and boys choir. 


Im eshkachech Yerushalayim,
Tishkach yemini.
Tid’bak leshoni lechiki,
Im-lo ezkereichi:
Im-lo a’aleh et Yerushalayim
al rosh simchati…
“Aru, aru— ad hayessod bah!”
If I forget thee, O Jerusalem,
Let my right hand forget her cunning.
Let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth,
If I remember thee not;
If I set not Jerusalem
above my chiefest joy.
(Against) who said:
‘Rase it, rase it, even to its very foundation.’

Sometimes things are so horrific or sad that we cannot find the words to pray / in such cases music can assist. May God bless us all as we are in terrible times :(


Me? Have fun with spiders?

Here’s an update on my Jack-in-the-Beanstalk Hollyhock ( because the spider is close by :)

If you are not familiar with my hollyhock on steroids, last year it grew to a normal size of 5 or 6 feet. This year when it hit close to twelve feet at the main stalk, I had to bring it inside the porch lest it hit the electrical wires just under the roof.

hollyhock on steroids pic 1 hollyhock on steroids collage

The pictures above are at least a week old or more….it’s still growing :) However I noticed a huge spiderweb there when I took these older photos,  but the spider was shy and took off when I went out with my camera.

The other day he was too busy to run, so I was able to capture him. ( in the camera not physically, eek! :)

I’ve never been able to get the web…the lighting is not conducive in the back / can’t get the sun shining on it the way that I have been able to do with webs in the front of the house. So in the collage below, he was basically going up and down the huge web, torturing or eating the bugs he’d trapped in it….to try to show the web I used the HDR effect in Picasa and darkened the picture as best that I could.

spider collage

Meanwhile, all of these bees were buzzing around the hollyhock and getting irritated with me …I was lucky to escape alive between having the heebie-jeebies about the spider and the ticked off bees :) Later on, as I was checking out the various photos for editing and because the web didn’t really show up, I decided to have some fun and this is what I uploaded to my family Facebook page.

Ha! :) This is most likely the only fun I’ll have in my life in regards to being close to a spider!

spider polaroid

You might also enjoy :  Tuesday Muse : Bee in Flight  or  Tuesday Muse Fallen Flower  or Tuesday Muse : Goldfinches

Sharing at : The Self-Sufficient Home Acre / French Country Cottage / Viewing Nature with Eileen / Sew Many Ways / Lavender Cottage Gardening / Frugal by Choice / Cozy Little House / Savvy Southern Style