February’s Romantic Makeover…

February Twilight…” I stood beside a hill, smooth with new-laid snow,
A single star looked out, from the cold evening glow.
There was no other creature, that saw what I could see,
I stood and watched the evening star, as long as it watched me.”
~ Sara Teasdale,star

February is a month of promise, hope, warm fires kindling within in our hearths , snowy days, icy nights, star filled skies, flirtatious snowmen and of course, Romance.

The renowned author and actor ‘Steve Harvey” calls February,  “the month of Love.” A special time where dreams really can come true, as we go out of our of way to demonstrate to that “special someone,” just how very much we love them.

I like to think of this month as the last real month of winter bliss… Yes, March is also a  rigorously cold month, (on our eastern coast)  but spring is busily sending forth its illustrious  tocsins, to let us know it will be arriving soon… thus, why not  take advantage of the December equinoxes’  prodigious and majestic ending.

What are some of the ways to celebrate and enjoy the benefits  of this romantic month of  February? 

In California,snowman1001  perhaps a serene walk with the one you love on the  San Clemente pier at sunset,  or upon the the glistening sands of a moonlit beach, listening to the endless , lulling tunes of the waves sauntering into shore, watching the evening sky light up with its spectacular display of scintillating  stars.

In the Midwest, (with all the Brobdingnagian winter storms hitting hard this month, the temps in the negatives…)  my sister will have to be a little extra creative with her celebration. I can just see her conjuring up a scrumptioussnowman1002 heart shaped chocolate mousse cake, lighting her myriad of candles, and enjoying her collection of ‘romantic movies,’ Weathering Heights, Jane Eyre and Pride and prejudice. (Continuously thanking the good Lord, she has heat and is warm.) Compared to their weather, ours is mild!

For us on the east Coast, we enjoy the warmth of our homes as the miraculous snow falls, bringing an abundance of white fluff to our once, verdant green lawns, quilting  the trees branches with  shimmering slush, later turning into gracefully sculptured ice cycles.  There is nothing quite as romantic as catching a snowfall in action over our towns Junoesque pond …the once placid water is frozen over, its icy surface glistening with a lulled pink hue… or taking a drive through the country roads, admiring all the  LOVE-made, frolicsome snowmen, cheering our spirits up as they happily greet each passerby. Have you ever noticed, there are no two snowmen alike? snowman 1000Its magical to see how snow flakes (with a little TLC,)  can be transformed into real life characters. 🙂 We love to bundle up and take Graham to the meadow after a freshly fallen snow, amazed by the abundance of  beautiful wildlife hidden behind the tall trees. We watch the grandeur red birds and blue jays flutter from branch to branch,  the flocks of snow geese flying above us,  singing their HONKy- tonk tunes, ( that we’ve grown to love,) and the grey squirrels, playfully scurrying up and down the trees, stopping every now and then to nibble on natures “power bars” made especially for them! 🙂      All very romantic…but what warms my heart the most is looking down at Graham as  we all walk in the snow… he is totally unaware that his dark, heavy fur coat has turned to white…the polar air not bothering him one bit, (as he continues to sniff, observe, look and listen to all the meadows enchanting  inhabitants.) 🙂

I  can certainly relate to the quote by Charles Baudelaire;

“I watch the springs, the summers, the autumns;
And when comes the winter snow monotonous,
I shut all the doors and shutters
To build in the night my fairy palace. ”

Whether you live in Southern California, Texas, Maine, Alaska or in other countries, places such as , England, Italy, Japan or the Swiss Alps…how you celebrate this romantic month of love will depend a great deal on what your weather and climate is like….but no matter what state or country you live in, we all have one thing in common...for this month of  ‘celebrating love,’ we can all create a romantic ambiance right within our home…bringing forth an atmosphere of amour.

Our bedroom is the one room within our home that is always embellished with a romantic motif. For February, I try to spill a little bit of its allurement throughout our entire house. For me, a wintry romantic ambiance would include an abundance of alabaster whites accented with rich burgundy’s, regal golds, hushed rose and sage green. I have decorated our home with a few dried floral arrangements,yellow3 white lace tablecloths, my wintry china, a medley of candles, a cherub angel or two, and yes…a few red hearts, dark chocolates, (in case a friend comes by for a cup of coffee,)  🙂  a touch of Hallmarks Valentines decor…and SNOWMEN!  Yes… can you believe it? I still have them out!   🙂  Here is the skinny on that….Christmas was like a dream come true this last year… saying goodbye to its splendor, putting away our jovial Santa’s in January was very difficult, thus I left my cheerful, jubilant snowmen out to keep a touch of the festive spirit within our home. When February arrived, I was perplexed.snowman1004…our neighborhood was draped in a brilliant white…  Our snowmen were so  happy being out of the attic and  they were all dressed in romantic colors. It was tough call… But I finally came to the conclusion  that there has got to be a story written somewhere about a Romantic snowman and his Valentine… thus, we voted and they  got to stay for February’s celebration of the “month of love.”

Its the perfect month for a romantic home-makeover…enjoy the last weeks of  winter’s attire as you know spring is right around the corner and your home will be dressed  up for an entirely different season… For those of you whose motto is ; “Less is more,” and your not a fan of  the commercial decor of cupids, hearts, garlands and lace doilies,   I hope a  few of these romantic rooms will bring you some new ideas in creating a  subtle romantic ambiance within your haven.  If you do love all the ‘bells and whistles’ of the season, then I am sure you will find a few creative notions as well. ENJOY!

 

 

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“Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire:  it is the time for home.”
~Edith Sitwell

Away in a meadow all covered with snow, heart3the little old groundhog looks for his shadow,
The clouds in the sky determine our fate, If winter will leave us all, early or late.” ~ Don Halley

“The flowers of late winter and early spring occupy places in our hearts well out of proportion to their size.” ~  Gertrude S. Wister

 “Standing in a valley,with the mist coming in,heart4
Berries grow on the holly bushes. Robins hide in snow-ridden woods.
If I could stay here, I would.”-  Bethan Williams

Now you know, I had to put in a few thoughts about chocolate, romance and snowmen…February’s other bestowals of joy. 🙂

“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.” ~ Charles M. Shultz

heart5“There is nothing better than a friend, unless it is a friend with chocolate.” ~ Linda Grayson

“What you see before you, my friend, is the result of a lifetime of chocolate.”~ Katharine Hepburn

“I’ve fallen in love many times…always with you.” ~ Unknown

“A heart that loves is always young.” ~ Greek proverb

“A kiss is a lovely trick designed by nature to stop speech when words become superfluous.” ~ Ingrid Bergman

heart1“Valentine hearts beat more passionately than every day hearts.” ~ Unknown

“Romance is the glamor which turns the dust of every day life into a golden haze.” ~ Amanda Cross

“Snowmen fall from heaven, one flake at a time.” Unknownwinterscape505

“Snow flakes are one of natures most fragile things, but look at what they can do by sticking together.” ~ Unknown

“Snowmen fall from heaven…unassembled.” ~Unknown

 

Cupid’s tour of ROMANTIC HOMES  is now boarding…cupid

 

 

 

Our glorious verandahs and welcoming front doors are our guests and family’s  first impression of our  homes… Capture their hearts with a  little romance as you create your expressions of ‘amour.’

This beautiful fresh green heart shaped wreath is not only romantic, but very creative with its  blush pink garland of petite roses…

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Five hundred  imperial and gallant red roses… Breathtaking! love7

A picturesque, alluring porch for two! (I love the vintage red and white goblets.)love9

With its array of  baronial wicker chairs,white sheers, lovely pillows, throws and a bouquet of roses, this piazza brings forth a beautiful romantic flare… (The ferns are undoubtedly a touch of added elegance. )

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You can definitely see that this cozy berth is in the “mood for love.”
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Bring a smile to your valentines heart, give this little guy some red roses and a box of chocolates to greet your sweetheart!  Not only is he uplifting, but a fabulously, creative way to say “I love you.” 🙂

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The romance of nature itself! I love it!vdd50

This beautiful and splendorous homemade Valentine wreath is heartening, love-some and is sure to bring forth many a smile.vdd67

 

“OUR BEDROOMS, THE  PLACE WE CHASE OUR DREAMS.” A room that  is simple to ‘dress up’ with such a spectacular motif as Romantic love.

If ever a bedroom exuded romance, this decorator has sure got the secret. Mixing lush wintry shades of white, intricate and stunning wrought  iron, a white sheer canopy, along with an abundance of pillows, baronial candle stick holders and a variety of fresh and dried roses, creates an air of mystique and royalty.love5

Beautifully romantic…The layers and textures on this canopy bed is incredibly enchanting…All it needs is a stellar arrangement of yellow roses! 🙂 ww2

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More hues of the glorious shades of white… The color of pureness. For this special month, perhaps a splash of red with a bundle of Victorian dried roses and a divinely scented  valentine-red candle! I love the natural sunlight.ww1

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White, in any of its magnificent shades, represents purity, birth, simplicity, peace, innocence, youth, winter, snow as well as marriage. This enchanting and beautiful Bed Room says it all…  Perhaps an arrangement of bustling, colorful , fresh flowers would be the icing on the cake to this eminently romantic hideaway! 🙂
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Are you one that is blessed to have “a spectacular view from your  window,” as part of your rooms allurement? The city skyline is exceedingly romantic, along with the captivating wooden sleigh bed with  its layers and textures of fluffy white…I am thinking some dried , refined, hushed white  roses? 🙂

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This fluffy white guy, princely teddy bear dressed in his tux,(with his top-hat beside him,) amidst  a wispy white, sheer canopy is plenty of romance for me! 🙂

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I adore this vintage bed with its bright whites, layers of exquisite  linens and intricately designed furniture… the petite antiquated vase filled with the blush rose colored flowers is the perfect touch… Maybe a thick, cuddly throw for  the cold February  nights that are in the one digit numbers. 🙂 ww4

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The ample gifts of blue and white…Blue is the color of sleep and bliss…This felicitous bedroom can be likened to laying upon a hammock with a blue sky and a few puffy clouds that occasionally dance by the sun…Its very inviting and definitely dressed up for love… Maybe a few splashes of red to bring forth a bit of passion, or a large bouquet of  becalming  pink roses with magical babies breath?

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This delightful bedroom already has a built in Valentines, romantic flare… I love the paneled arched ceiling, the striking red check couch amongst the dainty, delicate white lace and this grandiose four poster bed. Maybe a few flirtatious red  hearts on the wall would  add that special touch for this month of love? vdd30

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This  charming and quaint bedroom , (without a touch of red,) is absolutely gorgeous and not only whispers, but DECLARES,” ROMANCE.” I love the special touches of natures bounty with the fresh spray of green and white roses. ww155

Sometimes simplicity says it all. 🙂 heart15

Curl up for a blissful night in a bouquet of roses! thanksgiving536

I adore this fourposter bed with its gossamer canopy, romantic floral pillows, tone on tone designed madras duvet and damask throw…   Maybe  a few single stem roses for that “finished romantic touch.” J-68

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OUR KITCHENS, THE HEART  OF THE HOME, NOT ONLY WHERE WE CONJURE UP THE MOST DELICIOUS  CUISINES, BUT THE  PLACE WE HAVE SOME OF OUR MOST INTIMATE CONVERSATIONS. THIS MONTH OF LOVE, SAY “BON APPETIT,” WITH A LITTLE ROMANCE ON THE SIDE.

 

OK. You know how the saying goes, some feel “MORE is more ” and others, “LESS is  more.” THIS IS DEFINITELY MORE! Romantic, grandiose, kaleidoscopic and heart stopping! A little potpourri of “everything valentines.” 🙂 red

With its soft lighting and warm, cozy cabinetry, this kitchen is eminently beguiling and romantic. I still think it needs some hints of red to celebrate the annual occasion! 🙂 Red roses, whether dried or fresh would be the perfect touch! ww50

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These cheerful and lovable little guys would brighten up anyone’s heart …I can just “feel the love” in this room! All dressed up in their earth tones with an abundance of red!  Definitely  awe-inspiring.  ww45

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This hutch, with its pastel, idyllic plates embodies a tranquil charm, along with the creative valentines decorum … OK, I’d say this one is ” LESS is more,” and I love it! 🙂 red11

With its cheery,  luminous  ambiance,  alluring  reds and rich sky blues, this kitchen is dressed to a “T” for this month of passion! (I adore these enchanting chandeliers with their resplendent, authentic  lampshades.)vdd29

With its romantic, enticing , soothing, and unassuming splendor, this romantic decor would bring the ‘air of love’  and awe to any room! I have never found anything more magical as well as enchanting, than the glow of candlelight and petite, sparkling white lights! They never fail, for any celebratory fete. 🙂 ww160

Another eminently romantic kitchen…the pastel  pinks and hushed blues together are very soothing and charming. I think it just needs a few symbols of “Je T’aime” … one of Valentines quintessential trademarks, the adored HEART!

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A crisp, pure and creamy white kitchen opens up ample opportunities to add Romantic accents for celebrating love.  How about some white bone china tea cups with a matching teapot,  filled with a medley of dried roses and greens, creating an enthralling and galvanic flavor.    ww55

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Another inventive, creative idea for celebrating the season is  to display a black chalkboard in your kitchen…(whether on a easel or hung on your kitchen wall…) Its great for messages year round, but what a wonderful way to bedeck a room for the special holidays and   festive occasions.   I love the pastel hearts and romantic sayings! Great idea!

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Add a multimedia of color and texture for this gladsome occasion… mason jars and  creative canisters filled to overflowing with red and pink candies along with chocolate hearts amidst  white lace doilies. These decorative displays would put anyone in a “fabulously romantic”  mood. 🙂

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A cozy kitchen table set for two…Exceedingly romantic and lovely. This exhilarating flower arrangement takes the Valentines spotlight in this room! 🙂 red1

In this stunning, inviting and resplendent  kitchen, the decorator has taken the same kitchen from above,  with its luscious  butter cream whites, amidst the regal black marble, but this time, expressing that “Less is definitely  MORE.”  Eminently Romantic with its grand accents of Valentine RED, noble golds and soft whites. Who wouldn’t feel the emotions of “amour” in this cozy room? 🙂 VDD

Some more romantic, winsome and canty little snow guys, adding buoyant  color, animation and FUN in this joyous time of the year… February’s month of amoire.  IMG_0488

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Accent towels are always a complete giveaway of the season as well as the patina of your kitchen! 🙂

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OUR DINING ROOMS…THE PLACE WE GATHER WITH FRIENDS AND FAMILY, SHARE MANY A TALES OF OLD , LAUGH, CRY, AND ENJOY A MEDLEY OF THE MOST DELICIOUS, SAVORY CUISINE OF OUR LIVES. ITS A PLACE OF CELEBRATION AND IT TOO, WANTS IN ON THE “FLAVOR OF THE MONTH,” 🙂

This Romantic, mysterious yet inviting dining room motif, is not dressed up in the typical valentine decor, but it exudes the very essence of romantic dining. What beautiful and authentic chandeliers…the layering and mixing of fabrics, colors and textures with this decorators table linens is sublime as well as alluring.

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A dining room tablescape, created with a wintry mix of nature ‘s bounty, would not only look  speculator, but  would be delightfully  soothing to the senses. Void of bright colors, it’s beauty alone is breathtaking and would enhance any festive  get together. ww70

Nowadays, with as many fabulous slipcovers that are on the market, you can transform your rooms with the color of the season. This wintry medley of magnetic earthiness, warm whites, rich tans and regal black, is undoubtedly striking with a romantic flare…I envision  an exquisite arrangement of striking red roses, to liven up this already inviting tablescape.

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Charming, elfin, enchanting, fairytale like and undoubtedly, exceedingly picaresque. This stunningly beautiful dining room  evokes all kinds of “romantic emotions.”  I truly believe you can never go wrong with WHITE! The centerpiece is lovely with its verdant greens and bright colored blooms. I would add a little more warmth and romance with the  table-settings done in the passionate color of red.

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I love the maritime slip covers for these dinning room chairs. The soft white amidst the pastel blues is refreshing.  This table scape would come alive with some chargers topped with calico red plates or a luxurious table-setting in sparkling off white china…(I always put a small token gift upon every guests plate.) Valentines day or not! 🙂

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Another inviting room of repose and rejuvenation…a Wintry  masterpiece.  I would add a creative, cheerful and snowy centerpiece to add a bit of festivity to the table.

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Don’t forget to keep the month of February exciting, bringing forth a feeling of “being pampered” with choice, fragrant candles that fit the “romantic mood!” I bet The Cinnamon Frosting is divine! 🙂

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This decorator has GONE ALL OUT! Very festive and celebratory!vdd1

 

The decadent wintry cake with the beguiling candle lights, creates a very intimate and luxurious table! This gets a “10” in my book! ( Fresh cut wood, kindling in this gorgeous  fireplace  would of course, be a welcomed added touch for a Romantic evening!) 🙂ww11

A mixture of pewter and fresh flowers gives a very rich and polished presentation! (I love the wintry grapevine garland.) 🙂

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There is nothing that says “Romance,” like a fairy-tale village, magical snowflakes,  glistening white lights and a dapper little snow guy… A perfect tablescape for your dining room sideboard table, to add a touch of allurement and romantic flavor for this month of celebrating LOVE!.

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Whether for Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving or a Romantic Valentines dinner, white damask linen with silver, white china and soft, golden candlelight is timeless. Absolutely stellar!

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This Valentines I chose to use my wintry cardinal china, mixed with an array of blues and whites… (All winter colors.) And of course, my snow guys with romantic, dried yellow roses and soft candlelight. Every time I walk through our dining room and see this cozy, colorful tablescape, I smile! 🙂

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I also added my new 2014 collection of ‘birds.’ These ‘bluebirds of happiness’ were a special gift from my husband this Christmas…They can stay out ALL YEAR LONG! 🙂

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My faithful bunny, ( our 7th year wedding anniversary gift from Kit,)  also stays up all year long… (I change his wardrobe to fit the season. 🙂 For February, he is embellished with a fairytale-like, elfin  wintry attire…

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I am impressed with this ‘winter wonderland’  dining room hutch, with its snowman themed plates and entrancing , romantic snow guys.

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Talk about “melting hearts!” This guy is also a keeper!

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OUR LIVING ROOMS…THE PLACE WE LIVE, LAUGH AND LOVE TOGETHER...I may not always decorate our bathroom for this romantic month, but I  never miss bringing out a few decorative items to highlight the flavor of ‘romance and love’ for the room we live the most in

 

This living room is beautifully simple yet elegant and sophisticated…With its quiet highlights of red, it brings forth the cheerfulness of this holidays’  celebration.

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Another cozy, romantic living room…spacious , great lines and a perfect arrangement for a lovely get together. I would add a few accents or two, to bring a little more festivity. (Perhaps an array of throw pillows and fresh garden flowers, to bring some warmth and a motif of romantic-love) 🙂

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PERFECT!

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“I heard it through the grapevine” that ‘purple‘ is the new color this year for Valentines day…Undoubtedly romantic, alluring and passionate! 🙂

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For those of you who are not a lover of reds, cupids or valentine decor, but are in love with romance, these two living rooms exude the mystique and romantic patina, with the beautiful colors of rich  tans and royal blues, or hues of gold, butter-cream whites and taupe…the furniture style, candle light, flower arrangements and small  decorative items are lovely “just the way they are.”

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“A Room with Two Views.” 🙂 I adore the red florals amidst the stripes, with accents in red, white and blue… Romantic and bedecked for the holiday!

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Out of all the living rooms, this particular one captures my heart the most! Its got everything! Feminine touches amidst a baronial, checkered ottoman along with the noble and rich, dark woods. The floral couch, inciting valances and white paned windows are exceedingly  warm, snug, and  festively romantic.

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Another wintery, exotic flower arrangement for your Romantic home makeover…

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I love the potpourri of colors this decorator has chosen…This room looks a little formal yet I have a feeling, it is a room that has experienced a lot of love and living. For Valentines and a touch of romance, I would add a few decorative pillows that flavor the room with a flashy valentines motif, along with a few cozy, February scented candles.

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“One can only imagine  that  ‘Winter Night’ smells scrumptious.” 🙂

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Very simple, a white damask couch, a potpourri of throw pillows, (a romantic snowman throw,) 🙂  and a box of Sees chocolates from California. (If any of my brothers are reading this blog, please, no more Sees candy for awhile…it was WAY to good!  🙂 )

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I would love to have  a fresh arrangement of white flowers or white roses for my coffee table , (If my husband is reading this blog, please take note of what next Friday is.. 🙂 ) I love fresh flowers in the house…their fragrance as well as natural beauty, are very pampering to the soul. 🙂

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Yes, my Christmas tree changed to a snowman tree in January. For February, I added dried red and  pastel yellow roses along with red and gold wired ribbon to create a bit of romance. My other  little guy is just glad that he doesn’t  have to fit in that tree as he loves spaciousness, and dislikes crowds. 🙂

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A few of my favorite wintry pillows… I love the white bear snowman! He is so original, colorful and adorable.! 🙂 IMG_0597

Another favorite pillow that I keep out for this “sweethearts season,” 🙂  is the one my sister made me for Christmas. You already know who the Boss of this house is…”Sir Grantham.” He  truly is a “heart wrapped in fur” and I  will keep this gorgeous pillow out year round as she made it with his photo, (in my living room colors…)  Its a keeper! He is one of my valentines too …he’s my heart!

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This living room is magical with its romantic lighting, heartening fireplace, white woods mixed with the dark and the beautiful highlights of blue… For February , I would add a few throws, bright, motley pillows and an arrangement of yellow roses… but it truly is captivating just the way it is. 🙂

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Absolutely stunning, romantic and complete! I wouldn’t add a single thing!

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Very Romantic, filled with the beautiful bounty of natures wintry colors.  A Victorian flare with its swags embellished with glistening white lights and roses…all in line with Valentines Day, as well as warm and cozy for the winter.  The only things I’d change would be, replacing  the white pillar candles with pomegranate red, and adorn the bunny rabbits with petite grapevine wreaths with roses (to keep their necks warm!) 🙂

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I hope after taking this Romantic tour that you have gleaned a few ideas to take home to your  own romantic and cozy haven… I know I have. Just a few changes around  your home can make a big difference. Enjoy this last full month of winter… Majestic February. Take a stroll through the woods in the snow, light some wintry scented candles or bake a batch of  heart shaped valentine cookies. While your spouse is taking a shower, draw a heart on the steamy mirror and tell them how much you love them…celebrate the month of love and make it special for yourself as well as your household.

In closing this ‘Romantic Makeover vignette,’ I wanted to share with you a few of our favorite chocolates for your “Valentine,” (if you aren’t already sold on one,) as remember Valentines  DAY is a special holiday for all the senses… and chocolate is at the top of the list! )       sees20  Now, if you really  stretched it, you could consider a box of chocolates as ‘Romantic home decor.’  Some of the heart shaped boxes are  created so luxuriously and look so beautiful.(They add an abundance of charm and elegance, just resting upon your coffee tables.) 🙂 (just sayin! ) 🙂

 

 

Our #1 choice is See’ s candy….always a must when we visit California. Our 2nd is Ghiridelli, 3rd, Dove Chocolates, 4th. Godiva and  5th, Harbor sweets 85 Leavitt Street, Salem MA.  Lastly, Harry and  Davids Chocolate mousse crunch! (Kits very favorite!)  If your still looking for  a ‘sweet treat’ for your Valentine,  I hope these suggestions are helpful!

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If by chance, you are a Trivia person, here is a little “Info” on this particular box of candy;

sees20Harrods is the proud creator of this Valentines  box of chocolates, noted to be the most excellent chocolate in the world. There are 49 pieces, all studded with Swarovski crystals, hand wrapped in Indian silk, with platinum and gold linings, and each peace is padded with a crystal flower…for only a mere $10,000. SO,you can buy these for your sweetheart for Valentines Day, or  a new car. 🙂

Have a wonderful and blessed Valentines day !

 

PHOTOGRAPHS: In placing your computer mouse upon any of the photos or graphics, it will display where the picture has originated from.

“A Valentines For Jim.”

“One day,  A 5 year old asked her big brother;  “What is love?” He replied;  “Love is when you steal my chocolate from my school pack everyday…and I still keep it in the same place.” ~ Author unknown.

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The  “much awaited’ day has  finally arrived. The one day that this “month of love” is centered upon… Valentines day! What exactly is Valentines day? (Besides the day we enjoy an abundance of rich dark chocolates, bake winsome heart shaped cookies for our kids classroom party,vdd41 answer the doorbell to a ‘PRO Flowers’ delivery man, holding an extremely impressive  bouquet of red roses, (or white,) 🙂 hear our favorite love songs playing on the radio all day,  receive an unexpected gift from our sweetheart, or express our heart felt sentiments to the ones we love, on a Hallmark greeting card.)  🙂

What you may not know is that Valentines Day is also Known as The feast of Saint Valentinevalentine11 It is a holiday celebrated in many countries all over the world such as Italy, Britain, Australia, Austria, France, Germany Japan and Denmark.  It began as  a liturgical celebration of one or more, early Christian Saints named Valentinus.

One celebrated account of this passionate holiday is the story of Saint Valentine of Rome. It is noted that he was imprisoned for performing weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry, as well as for his ministry to the Christians, who were being unjustly  persecuted under the Roman Empire. According to legend, while imprisoned, Saint Valentine healed the jailors daughter of an illness…before his execution, he wrote her a letter and signed it “Your Valentine,” as a farewell. (I wonder if he had any inkling that his letter would start a worldwide holiday for expressing LOVE?)

In the18th century, the tradition of courtly loved flourished in England and Valentines day evolved  into an occasion for ‘sweethearts”  to  express their love with flowers, confections and homemade cards, (known as Valentines.)

hearts100In the 19th century,  Valentine cards became mass produced, thus we have an ample array of Valentine  greeting cards to choose from… As of current, the symbols created for this romantic day are hearts, doves and the renowned winged cupid!

Valentines day, means something unique to each of us… For some, it’s a traditional celebration and a day filled with extravagant gifts, romantic dinners and jewelry…For others, its a day to tell your “sweetheart” you love them, give them  a valentine, a big hug and kiss and go about the day. 🙂 I believe the importance we place upon this holiday has a lot to do with our childhood, heritage, personality as well as our age and the season of life we are in.

inspired52As a little girl, growing up in our large family of 9, Valentines day meant that at some point in the day,  my mom would receive an elaborate, beautifully decorated, red- heart shaped box, filled with a variety of scrumptious chocolates form my dad. (Sometimes through the mail if he was oversees.) My mom was so tender hearted and shared her bounty of confections with us, (her 7 kids,) every Valentines day.  We all enjoyed our festive  party at school and were ecstatically happy if we got a colorful Valentine from that one “special someone” we had a crush on .

 

My giddy feelings changed drastically about this romantic holiday as Ihearts111 began high school…  My brothers had beautiful girlfriends, and they could hardly wait to give them their engaging  red, heart shaped boxes of chocolates, along with a dozen red roses. My older sister had so many boyfriends, I had  lost count. I, on the other hand, (very shy) did not have a boyfriend and  always felt a little lonely that day…My mom always came to my rescue by leaving me a big basket of colorful M&M’s outside my beautiful katbedroom door Valentines day morning.  (She knew it was my favorite candy and that I needed a little cheering up.)  Along with the candy , was a sweet card telling me that  “She’d be my valentine.”   She was so thoughtful and the candy really did help…(a little.) 🙂

 

danny1Valentines can also be a celebration of Friendship…its not necessarily just a “Sweethearts Day” festivity.  If you don’t have a ‘special someone,’ you can always go out with  your girlfriends… enjoy getting all bedecked in  “RED,”  and go dancing and celebrate the love of your friends. (Guys you can do the same…maybe taming down the red a bit.) 🙂 I remember one year in mydanny3 twenties, for Valentines day, my sister and I, (both single,)  met for lunch at our favorite eatery in Irvine California on our lunch hour. Right before I left,  a young, attractive man from our company was passing out a long stem red rose to each single lady…it made me feel so special. Another valentines, when I was not dating anyone, my trainer at the gym, (while I began my workout,) secretly took a single stem rose with a card out to my cardanny and placed it on my front seat. When I saw it, it really touched my heart. We can give a Valentine and express our love for any special person in our life, no matter “what  category of love” our relationship falls under. 🙂

 

When I met kit, I adored valentines day…he always picked out the most gorgeous long stem, lovered roses and bought me handmade, chocolate truffles from a  chocolateier shop, nested within the Harbor in Dana Point CA. Our first Valentines together, he kidnapped me from work and whisked me off to Palm Springs for the day, wined and dined me and we had the most wonderful time, enjoying the newness of our love and spending an entire day together…Its a heartening memory  I will never forget… (6 months later, we were engaged.) 🙂

 

Through our married life, we still celebrate this romantic holiday. Not always with expensive red roses and intricate truffles..hello2.but we do something special for one another,  remembering the day and thanking God for one another and our love. Graham of course, always gets a special treat that day, lots of hugs and kisses and wonders “Whats up guys…its to soon to be my birthday?” 🙂

 

How do you celebrate Valentines day at your house? If you have kids, your holiday is probably centered around them…helping them make all their valentine cards for their classmates, jimbo99baking 30 cupcakes or heart shaped cookies for their valentines day party… If you are off at College, perhaps their is a Valentines dance, or you expectantlycutiepie 13 wait for the mail delivery to arrive to get that special card in the mail from your sweetheart that lives far away. Better yet, maybe they will decide to surprise you and  fly out to see you in person. ( After all, it is a day of “dreams coming true.”) 🙂 If you are engaged, I can only imagine your celebration this year… all the bells and whistles, I am sure! 🙂

topten 166According to our local radio station, the most popular things to do for your ‘sweetheart ” on Valentines day are; Taking them on a romantic getaway for the weekend… going out for a romantic dinner, saying “I love you,”  morning, afternoon and evening in some new and creative way,  giving a gift for no reason,  Of course, giving a box of decadent chocolates, sending Roses, writing your heartfelt  sentiments on a greeting card, going to see a romantic movie together and making a special dinner for the other person. ( I am sure these are just a few of many thoughtful and romantic ideas.)

This year, I will make Kit his favorite dinner, served by candlelight, shower Grantham with lots of love, hugs, attention and TREATS…but  I also  decided to take the time,  (in celebrating this month of love,)  to do something entirely different.  In recognizing what a very special love my big brother and I shared for 51 years, I decided to write a tribute, (a letter of love,)  to him…I’m calling it ” A Valentines for Jim.” ifonly100 I belelive that there are few people in life that we allow ourselves to love with our entire heart and receive that same kind of love back… Jim was one of those people. He was my big brother, a best friend through my life and someone I adored… he died unexpectedly while vacationing in his favorite place in the world, Cabo San Lucas . This letter-valentine  is an expression of how very much I treasure our wonderful years together...I believe a Valentines is an expression of the heart…not limited to romantic love, but for the deep love within our hearts for any person who has blessed our lives beyond words…Ifonly503 Normally, I would not think to sit down and write a letter of love and appreciation to my brother, (though I do talk to him at times, like I know we all do when we lose someone dear to our hearts,)  (OK, most of us do…) 🙂 But, I  have to say, it has been a blessing as well as a walk down memory lane. YES, there have been some tears of joy, some real “missing” going on within my heartstrings, 🙂 but  it has been heartening, enlivening and very rewarding for my soul. I do know that I will keep this “Valentine to Jim,”  forever… (Probably in  a heart shaped  box under our bed.)  🙂

Maybe you have someone that you have wanted to write  a letter to. A spouse that has  died, a sibling, an ex boyfriend or ex girlfriend,  a beloved pet you have lost , a grandparent, someone who gave their life to save yours…or to whoever that special person is,  that is on your heart.  Writing is a form of expressing your heart, whether to read alone or share with the world…I am a firm believer that writing is a great blessing for the soul. How about writing them a “Valentine,” during this Month of love?

jimbo209A month after Jim died, I wrote a tribute to him and read it at his memorial service…I can’t tell you how much that helped my grief…Today, I am healed from my grief, yet it was still eminently rewarding to sit down and think about all the wonderful times Jim and I shared, what gifts he bestowed to my life and share my heart with him, believing somehow he can hear my heart and see my words…

There is a song by Josh Grobin that helped me tremendously  when  Jim died…its lyrics give such hope that those who die, are still living, just in a different place, only a breathe away…

” Cause your my forever love, watching me from up above
And I believe that angels breathe, and that love will live on
And never leave,
Fly me up to where you are,beyond the distant star
I wish upon tonight, To see you smile
If only for a while to know you’re there
A breath away is not far to where you are.”

hearts102I hope that whatever way you choose  to celebrate this Romantic holiday, that it is blessed with love and an abundance of heart felt joy! (And if you are a lover of chocolate,  I pray you receive the  most elaborate, elegant and extra large box you have ever been given.) 🙂

 

As I close a portion of this blog, I open another…  I want to share my “Valentines” to my brother with you, my readers… If not for any other reasons than just to “share with everyone” what a beautiful person my brother was and perhaps inspire a few of you to do the same with the love in your heart for someone that is now gone.  Writing about someone you have loved and  lost  is a beautiful way to keep their memory alive… it can be likened to  an autobiography, a DVD filled with songs and photographs that share who someone was all about while here on this earth, or old movies on 35 mm vintage film reels, (the kind our parents inherited,) to keep the memories of their loved ones who had died, alive.  I hope that every-time I read this Valentines for Jim,  that my heart will be blessed with our many, many wondrous memories and that he will come alive within my heart and mind, all over again. HE WAS A GIFT FROM GOD, LIKE NO OTHER!

 

         “ A VALENTINES FOR JIM…”

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Hi Jimbo,

It’s hard to believe that its been  3 years since you, (I like to say) graduated to Heaven. 🙂 I think about you every single day and miss you more than I believed a heart could miss someone.When Patrick called on Halloween night to tell me the news that you had died in your sleep while on vacation, It was so surreal. I couldn’t grasp it as TRUTH. The minute the truth did seep in, (just a tiny bit of it,)  I could not stop crying out to the Lord…”No God…not my Jim!”    Loosing you unexpectedly, turned all of our lives upside down …it took me a long time to come to a place where I could  accept your death and allow myself to walk through the emotions of such a deep loss. My heart was broken.  The grief was deeper and darker than anything I’d known. At times, I  was worried I wouldn’t come through it, merriment but of course, you already know  all this…I can hear the words you were probably speaking up there, during that tenebrous time in our lives…
Straighten up little sis, 🙂  get it together, the Lord is there to help you…we will see each other again and it will be forever…I know I was your guardian angel on earth, but now I’m one of your angels in Heaven, by the way, it is so beautiful up here…You will love it.” 🙂

You were right…with Gods grace, a lot of prayer and love, I made it to the other side…God not only healed all the darkness inside, but He healed my body and brought me health, strength , peace and a joy I thought I’d lost. Now, I still think of you everyday , cry tears of joy, smile and thank God I had a best friend and “big Bother,” that I loved so deeply, that in return loved me the same way. And, I DO KNOW we will be together again …That is my great hope and joy in the tragic loss of you going away.

jimbo301I will still have to deal with all my future dreams of us…You, (your wife, that we all believed you’d meet one day,)  and  Kit and I , sitting together  in grandiose white rockers on a porch with a sublime and picturesque view…(with our hearing aids turned up really loud,) rocking away in our chairs, talking about any and everything as we all  grow old together. 🙂  When Kit and I have our Prayer Retreat Home one day, (Yes, we still believe,) 🙂   we’ve already decided that one of the rooms will be named after YOU, one of our biggest supporters of the dream in our hearts. I still have all the thoughtful gifts you bought for us when that dream does comes true.

Knowing you are happy, healthy and with loved ones, and are charming the socks off everyone , ( I  guess there are no socks up there are there?)  well, it gives me great peace…(You charmed the whole world down here.. 🙂 )

Your memorial service was unbelievably beautiful…all your high school friends, buddies from work,  family, my girlfriends, your childhood and adult friends, even your old girlfriends, (that was interesting,) were there.  The room was packed with so many people, all there to share there hearts of love for the one and only “James W.”  You, my “Big Brother” are LOVED!

I didn’t  think I could stand up and share my heart that day…(a friend of mine gave me a Xanax…it helped. 🙂 (Plus, I know Gods grace and strength helped me tremendously.) Sharing my heart for you actually helped in comforting my pain…(Temporarily.)

Now I am writing to you…believing you can somehow see my words and heart… I know I am a “word” person, but I will make this short…(kind of.) 🙂 If I really shared all my heart with you, it would have to be within a book, not a letter! 🙂

jimbo215From our earliest memories of being babies together to our years of middle age, you blessed my life beyond words…you will always be one of Gods greatest gifts to my life.

Remember all the frolicsome, fun times we had as kids, growing up in Costa mesa, California? I remember one  late spring afternoon… There we were, the “three  partners in crime.” I was 7,  you were 8 and Rob was 9. Even though your  real  middle name was ‘William’ we all knew it was supposed to be mischievous.  Some days you’d say;   “Hey, lets go over to the Food Giant and flush Oscar Meyer hot dogs  down the toilets until they get stopped up… Or, we could  make some funny  prank phone calls when Mom leaves the house.  On other days you’d  coax us into playing ding dong ditch on our College Park culdesac.jimbo216 (Yes the  Harris kids were very popular in Costa Mesa California, in the 1960’s.) 🙂  I’ll never forget that one late afternoon in the summer.jimbo201You were brimming with  excitement, your big brown eyes were five times their normal size as you whispered; “Susan, the Good Year blimp is arriving to the  Big field next to the shopping center… Do you want to go watch it land?” Of course I wanted to go…I wanted to be wherever you were… (we just  had to run it by mom first.)

I can hear  mom talking to us in her sweet southern drawl, (as if it were yesterday,)   as she made it known  to us in no uncertain terms that, “there would be dire consequences if we went to see the blimp light in the ‘big field’ and did we understand?”   “YES malm,” we both nodded… Before I knew it, you were gone.  The roseate, gloaming hour arrived and there was still no YOU.  I knew you were daring, but really?jimbo225 Right after mom sad absolutely not! Suddenly, you  walked through the front door, a little bit  winded. Your face was radiant…you looked as if you had achieved a great feat…There was no way that you could even try to lie to mom.  As she stood in the hallway, looking at you with that certain look on her face, (you knew that look all to well,) 🙂 your final answer? “Yes Mom I did see the Goodyear  blimp and it was really cool.”

With that being said, mom replied, “Jim, your punishment is to go to bed without any supper.” Seeing your sad little face, I put my hands on my hips and said, “Well, Mom, if Jim has to go to bed without any supper then so will I.”  Thus, we both headed to our bedrooms and went to bed hungry. (Unless you had a snickers bar stashed away in your dresser..) 🙂  You and I always had  that special bond between us, since we were babies…

jimbo6As an adult, your heart was one of the biggest I’d ever seen, but it was true of you as well, when you were a little boy…Remember how  every Christmas  season, (OK, most of them,) you would sneak into our family room,  pick  out a gift, hide behind the couch, open it and then wrap it back up, acting so amazingly surprised when you unwrapped it again in front of our family on  Christmas morning? You didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings and take away their joy as they got to watch you open their gift. (Plus you really did want to know what all you were getting ahead of time.) 🙂

You opened my eyes to the element of patience and surprise…   Remember that one Christmas,  before mom and dad were up, you quietly jaunted out to the family room and opened the white shudder doors so you could take a quick  peak at all that Santa had brought in the night? (All the things mom and dad had left unwrapped…)  You tiptoed back to my room and said,pat100 “ Susan,  I have  just seen everything that Santa brought.”  I begged you to please tell me if you saw my new baby doll I asked for… Without even a tiny bit of  hesitation, you said  “I looked and looked and I am so sorry Susan, but  there is no doll baby for you..”  My heart plummeted with sadness. Orange Juice poured, and mom and dads  cups of coffee in hand, we  all gathered by the double  doors.  As dad opened the shudder doors, there sitting on the brick hearth fire place was my huge, life size – huggable  doll baby… and of course  standing there, right beside me, you were grinning ear to ear,  as you said, “I  just wanted you to be surprised Susan, that’s why I did not tell you.”

 

I loved the season in our lives when we were room mates in our mid 20’s. When you purchased your new black Mercedes, (with heated seats,) you  blessed me with your  BMW…Just to make the “sale” legal, you only charged me $100.00 a month.jimbo221 I know you  got such a kick out of me driving around in a beautiful, classy  BMW…you knew I felt like a princess, jim11(and perhaps you thought I’d catch a wealthy boyfriend and could give you more money for our rent.) 🙂    You always had the BIGGEST HEART! I will never forget the day I was home sick from work and  you spent the entire afternoon, running to the fish market, gourmet  bakery shop and grocery store  gathering all kinds of  foods to create a “get well” dinner for me. You prepared and served fresh swordfish on the grill with  garden vegetables, a nice bottle of wine and pecan pie a la mode, ( my all time comfort foods.)  All you wanted to do was bless me with my favorite dinner, help me to feel better and to pamper me…again,  that’s what your heart was all about Jim…making others feel loved, special and important!

When I met Kit and we began courting, you highly approved and gave me the “thumbs up.”   Remember the night you  invited us out to dinner to Scot’s Bar and Grill in Costa Mesa?harbor11  Kit and I were  quite taken aback as we met you in the parking lot…you had  dauntlessly shaved  half of your mustache off… Your mission for the night?  Taking a public poll as to which side of your face was more handsome, thus making us, the wait staff and  many other  happily aghast diners at the eatery, laugh as well as leave with bright smiles. I was so happy that you and Kit  hit it off right away, as we shared many  wonderful times together.  We were so proud to have you in our wedding as one of Kits groomsmen. (Yahoo…your  half of a mustache  is gone…) (You looked “simply Marvelous” either way!)

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To top off our blissful Wedding day, you let us ‘borrow’ your new  black Mercedes, to take on  our honeymoon to Santa Barbabra.How blessed was I to have mHappy20y dear brother and new husband to  be the best of friends? (And to have heated seats in the wine country of Northern CA. in the brisk season of  winter.) 🙂

 

We all went through the darkest storm of our lives when we lost mom to cancer… Life changed so drastically without her sweet spirit, loving heart and beautiful smile. She was the corner stone of our family of 9. I am so thankful our family was all together for at least 6 months after she died.  When Kit got a job offer in Arizona…leaving you and the family in California was almost unbearable…jimbo214 Remember the night you drove from Corona Del Mar to Mesa AZ., (straight through, ) and slept in the car in front of our house? When we woke up, we were perplexed as we saw a beautiful Cadillac in our driveway that we had never seen before…we quietly walked down the stairs on to the lawn, whispering to one another as we got the nerve up to look inside this suspicious automobile.. 🙂   Oh my gosh…it was you…you had bought us a new car and wanted to deliver it in person. Our hearts  were overwhelmed with joy, not only with the surprise of a new car, but  our highlight was to be able to see YOU, our precious JIM.

jimbo219If anyone adored Christmas time, it was YOU..YOU made it so very specjimbo253ial for every child in our family as well as for all of us “big Kids.”   For our  farewell , when Kit and I  were moving to the east coast,you created a Christmas  for us that was beyond imagination. The  guest bedroom in your  Corona Del Mar  home was a magical wonderland filled with snowmen, glistening white  lights, fresh flowers, fine wine, crystal glasses and candles.  Christmas Morning you wineyblew us away, surprising us with brand new coats for our new life in Virginia, leather gloves, scarves, new bathrobes, a rabbits hair vest for me and new suits, ties and a leather jacket for Kit as well as an ample assortment of Sees candy.  ( All three of our  favorite chocolates of all time.)

 

 

jimbo800Whether our years living in  California, Arizona, Virginia or  DC,  you were  like an angel from the Lord, watching over Kit and I, always making sure our world was A-OK. You always  chose the most creative ways to say hello and keep close… A funny  phone hellocall or perhaps inspiring, sentimental cards. (I have saved every one of them.) Do you remember this card you sent me with the little brother and sister at the beach? You wrote me how blessed we were to have each other throughout  all the years of our lives, that you loved me so much and how I brought an abundance of ‘comfortableness” to your life . I have the card on my desk now, and it brings me great comfort. (Seeing your handwriting, reading your hearts sentiments and feeling the close bond once again, we were so gracefully blessed to have been given.)  You always wrote the most beautiful letters,  encouraging e-mails, sent us extravagant  care packages,  prayed many a timely prayer for us on the phone,  and we adored all your extraordinary visits to each home we lived in over the years.  When we were kids, teenagers,  and young adults,jimbo you had such a way of always encouraging me when things looked down…When I got married, you doubled the portion by continuously  encouraging both kit and I, in every season of life we were walking through. Thank you!

 

 

Okay, besides being a trickster, you were the one person who went the extra mile to make everyone laugh…Whether our foreign taxi driver In Washington DC, (who could not understand your humor one bit, but boy did he try,)  the  downtown shop keepers  in Annapolis, (where you bought me my exquisite glittering gold sweater,) passerby’s at the Grand Canyon or our favorite eatery in Alexandriajimbo224…(The waiter never knew what hit him when you arrived.) 🙂 I remember the time you mooned us…Oh my gosh, I am still blushing as  I recall that memory… You were the best attorney ever, and your second occupation, at any given time could have been a prestigious comedian…Jimmy Fallen has nothing on you… 🙂 (And I mean nothing!) 🙂

The last time we saw each other,  you bought me my first pair of diamond earrings for my birthday… as we said our goodbyes at the airport,  (I know you were trying not to get emotional,)  (me too,) hello3you  had Kit, myself, along with many others in stitches, making us all laugh with your theatrical and  funny spectacles.I cried when I got on the airplane…saying goodbye  to you, was always so hard.

There came a time when our close, intimate and narrow path, that the three of us were traveling together in life, separated into two roads. It was one of the hardest times in my life, (Kit’s too,)  as we missed you so very much… We both had the assurance in our hearts that in time, everything would be as it was…we’d end up talking one holiday when you were up at dads, or get a card from you saying everything was OK between us…that’s what gave us hope and peace when we longed for the three of us being the best of friends again.) 🙂 (Which was very often!) 🙂

I want to share with you the phenomenal dream, I believe God gave to me one night…(You may already know “all about” this too.) 🙂

In my dream,  I was greeting our brotherAlex Alex as he arrived to our home in  Delaware with his family from California. (Which by the way, he did come to seejimbo288 Kit and I that fall for Thanksgiving in real life.) OK, back to the dream… When he walked through the door, his arms  were filled with a bounty of gifts, exquisitely wrapped…along with all the presents were  a few assorted boxes  of Sees candy. I looked behind my wing back chair and there as well, magicallyjimbo291 appearing were even more gorgeously wrapped boxes of all shapes and  sizes. As Alex sat down across from me, his head was down ,so all I  could see was a thick head of hair…He then spoke;  “Susan, Jim sent all of these gifts to you…they are all the things He especially picked out and wanted you and Kit  to have.”   My heart leaped inside, as the last time (in real life and very aware of  it in my  dream)  that you and I had  spoken  was 9 months earlier, when you had a heart attack. I called you while you were in the hospital and we  both told  one another how much  we loved each other, but we  had not been as close as we had been all the many years of our lives. I missed that closeness  SO MUCH! (Back to the dream.)   Suddenly, as my  eyes welled up with tears to tell Alex how touched I was, that you had sent Kit and I all these gifts, (especially knowing Sees candy was  all three of our favorite chocolates,) beheld that  Alex was not Alex at all..As his head lifted up, it was YOU. jimbo204There was my Jim, your eyes welled up with love for me saying “Susan, it is me…I have come to surprise you …all is well.” (He was the YOU I had known all my life…so handsome, smiling ear to ear, full of love and you  could not convey  enough to me how happy you were and that we were all intimate again…there was no division, just an abundance of love and unity between us. (The closeness  I always treasured.)   I wanted to stay in that moment and hold on to the joy and love I felt, forever.

 

Of course upon awakening from this beautiful dream, I had no idea, that you had died that very night.  A few days later, still feeling gloriously elated from the dream, Patrick called Kit and I to share the tragic  news of your death. When Pat told me the date you actually died, it was then I realized it was the night of my dream, the night you went to heaven…  Knowing that now, I know in my heart and spirit  that YOU, my Jim, big brother and ‘guardian angel,’  did in fact come to me in my dream…wanting to surprise me , telling me how much  you loved me jim10and with your eyes filled and brimming with love, told me that ALL WAS WELL.  You were so happy  Jim…and You and I were the same big brother and little sister we had been that summer evening that  I went to bed without supper because you did,  the same brother and sister who shared grilled swordfish and pecan pie in our first home together, and the same  two friends who hugged and cried, as you helped me pick out  my first pair of diamond earrings.  This dream  was Gods gift to me, as He took you home that autumn season. Forever, it will be in my heart, just as  you will be! Even to this day, I believe it was really YOU, and I hold on to that with all my heart, knowing one day, we will both be in Heaven together…(Kit too.)

I can’t tell you how many times I wish I could see you,  just one last time on this earth…to say some things I never said, to see your smile, to feel your hug and hear your voice and  contagious laugh.   I  can only imagine that you celebrate LOVE everyday up there… Your  living in the very essence of love!  Thank you Jim, for all our wondrous memories, for all your love, caring,  listening, hugs, sharing your heart, crying with me, making me laugh and laughing with me, rejoicing in all the seasons of our lives together and for being my guardian angel and “Big Brother”  here on earth . I love you to the moon, sun and stars and back, (as you’d always say..) Now you can say it and know what it really means and feels like. 🙂

Always , all my love, Your little sister, Susancb

 

 

***This Photo that I chose for the top of this blog was the framed photograph Jim gave to me on my birthday in 1996. He gave it to me as a reminder of our special bond and friendship over our lives, thus I chose it for this blog…(just adding the valentines heart.) Here are his sentiments that are written on the back of this gift. A cherished bestowal  that hangs beside my bed…one that I will keep forever.

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In 1996:

“My dearest Susan, I believe God destined our lives that we would be brother and sister and that our lives would be enriched and forever blessed. Whether as small children exploring with endless curiosity, young adults making a life for our-self or as old persons having lived a full life, my heart will always have been touched by your love, your kindness, your gentleness and our destinies which have bound us together.

My life is but a story abut the persons who have touched my heart and helped shape my soul; and you dear sister, more than most, have given me life.  I love you Susan, always and forever, Jim”

Then when he visited us at Christmas time in Virginia in 2002, he wrote again on the back of this photo…

“I still feel exactly the same way…I love you, 🙂 Jimbo”

(I never even saw he had written that second part,  until after he died in the  late fall of 2010…)

PHOTOGRAPHS: In placing your computer mouse upon any of the graphics or photos, it will display where the picture originated from.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do you know your LOVE LANGUAGE?

“There is no surprise more magical than the surprise of BEING LOVED. It is God’s finger on mans shoulder.” ~ Charles Morgan   5ltouch5

Scrumptious, ambrosial cuisine, a spell-bounding novel, our beloved pets, festooning our homes to be cozy, beautiful and treasured havens of respite,ccl8 fabulous movies, a fine wine,bouvier_des_flandres a restorative escape to your favorite spot or playing creative games with loved ones, all bring forth beauty and winsome joy to our lives.   But, how about LOVE? Love brings blithe, buoyancy, cheer, gladness, vivaciousness, fulfillment and mirth to our lives in a way nothing else can.

There are of course different types of love. Passionate love, physical, emotional, spiritual, companionship, friendships as well as the love we possess  for our family and pets. There is also a love for the things we have acquired in life, our homes, jobs, developed, God given talents as well as a love and adoration for the things we so enjoy doing, camping, matinee movies, shopping, museums,horse10 cruising on the white sandy dunes, hiking, cooking, decorating or reading your favorite author’s engaging novella’s.

I think there are more movies, sonnets, poems, songs and books written on this  all- encompassing word ‘love,’ than any other subject in the world.    It most definitely is the most powerful word, and it is said, (from a  tried and true,very trusted resource, 🙂 )  that it alone, covers a multitude of sins.  It truly is a gift from above…There is nothing else that can be likened to love.anne 1 We are born into this world with a ‘need’ for it and we still get that warm fuzzy feeling, deep inside when someone tells us; “I love you,” up until the day we leave this world. I suppose a writer could write book after book on this magnificent subject of love, and still not begin to put a dent in covering its magnitude. 🙂

Why is the word ‘Love’ so intimidating and threatening? Do you remember your Jr. High school days when you’d get a crush on that special someone? It was bliss when you  “heard it through the grapevine,” that they too, ‘liked’ you…Everybody ‘liked’ each other… and we went steady with our treasured saint Christopher’s proudly worn around our  necks, but  when asked, if we were “together,”   we would always say “Yes, we really LIKE each other.” 🙂 As we get older, and we are ‘pretty sure’ we have found that right someone…it feels like your pulling teeth to FINALLY get up the courage to come out and say; “I have fallen in LOVE with you.” It’s okay to safely think it within our hearts, but to come out and say it, is frightening.myhunkI laugh when I think of Kits and my beginning…we met at a fine dining restaurant on the water in Dana Point  Harbor, CA. In working  there together, we began dating, but only as friends…  For six months this very handsome and special man brought me roses, took me to wondrous eateries, wrote me Hallmark cards with sentiments that melted my heart,love (I still have those cards to this day,) 🙂  took me for dreamy, moonlit strolls around the harbor and he even kidnapped me one day from work and took me to Palms springs for Valentines day!  (So Romantic!) He fixed me the most exquisite cuisine,  (he was and still is an excellent cook,) took my mom, sister and I out for brunch every Sunday after church and yet we were ‘just friends.’ (Best-friends at that…) I knew he loved me, but I felt safer saying “like.” 🙂 ( I think that was the fearful ‘little girl’ in me.) 🙂  girls But there came a day I will never forget…all the other available young ladies at work,  (watching kit and I on the side,) came to me one day and said; “Susan, whats the skinny on you and Kit? Are you an item? Is it Serious? He is  such a great guy and a real catch.” I replied with a little bit, (OK, a lot) of  anxious butterflies fluttering within my stomach, as I could see where their questions were going...”No, we’re just good friends.” My fears were confirmed when they all replied; “Well that’s great news because it means that he is fair game for all of us.” Don’t you know I went home and did some serious thinking... 🙂 Soon after, we acknowledged, (OK, I acknowledged,) 🙂 our love and I couldn’t wait to tell all the girls that we were getting married. 🙂 Why are we so leery about saying that word to someone when all  of our thoughts and actions are shouting  out “I love you” so loudly, that it echos in every part of our life. 🙂

I had never heard that we all possess a certain, (and some of us more than one,) love language, until later in my life.  You can no more change the color of your eyes,(well,cosmetically you can,) than you can change the love language that is within your heart. When you discover YOUR LOVE LANGUAGE, you will learn so much about yourself … how you  personally ‘give’ love and ‘receive’ love. After you get your self all summed up, find out your mates, siblings, friends and yes, even your pets love language, so you can understand how they are showing you love, (even if you can’t feel it,) and how they receive love...perhaps the way we are showing our love is not their love language, thus, they are not FEELING fulfilled by our actions like we believe they are. Really, this is not confusing at all…gary Its a wonderful and life changing book I have from the notable author, Gary Chapman. Its called The Five languages of love and the wonderful gems of truth and life-changing knowledge this author shares, are what this vignette is all about… (Don’t worry, it won’t be as long as the book…just a short synopsis.) 🙂

Before we look at the Five languages of love and what they entail, I have a few beautiful, keepsake quotes on this ever popular, powerful and all-encompassing word, LOVE, I’d like to share.

 

 

 

DISTINGUISHED QUOTE CORNER:Adorable Baby Boy in Suit on Cellphone

 “Love is the only sane and satisfactory answer to the problems of human existence.” ~ Eric Fromm

“Love has no desire but to fulfill itself ~ To melt and be like a running brook that sings it’s melody to the night.lily1 To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving.” ~ Kahil Gibran

“For you see, each day I love you more today than yesterday and less than tomorrow.” ~ Rosemonde Gerard

“Love one another and you will be happy. Its as simple and difficult as that.” ~ Michael Leuing

“A baby is born with a need for lovelily4 and never outgrows it.” ~ Frank A. Clark

“Love is, above all, the gift of ones self.” ~ Jean Anouilh

 

“Love cures people – both the ones who give it and the ones who receive it.” ~ Karl Menninger

“Love is patient, Love is kind. lily3It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.” ~ ! Corinthians 13

“Love is like the dew that falls on both nettles and lilies.” ~ Swedish Prover

 

 

 

You will find as I introduce each love language, that you may give your love with one language and receive with another. You may embody two or three of these love languages and not just have one language. (You can be bi-lingual in your languages of love.) 🙂

“TOUCH HAS A MEMORY.” ~ JOHN KEATS…

The first love language I want to introduce is “Physical touch.” If this is your love language, you personally feel very LOVED and nurtured when a person you love touches you in some way. A big bear hug from a dear friend, a consoling hug from your mate when feeling down, a good morning kiss, a neck massage when tense, holding hands,  body massages and being held. ( You most likely love to hold little babies and can’t get enough hugs and kisses from your dog or cat.)   ( Don’t laugh, but my mom loved to have her feet tickled, and guess who she always asked to do it? 🙂  I think that the majority of us enjoy physical touch and it is always endearing from a loved one, when respectfully shown, but it doesn’t necessarily make us all feel LOVED.

Perhaps you do not receive love through physical touch but you show your love that way…You would be a person who is always hugging, touching someones arm as you are talking, pursuing holding hands with your mate, picking up the little ones to bring them comfort, adore spooning with your mate in bed as you fall asleep at night, wrap your arm around your friend as you are shopping at the mall, or greet all your loved ones with a big kiss on the cheek!    This is one of my husbands love languages and for him, it is both the way he receives love and gives it. Knowing this, I understand him so much better and can see when he is showing me love (his way.) It also educates me and has caused me to show him my love for him through ‘physical touch.’ It was a happy day to discover this about him after reading this book and talking with him to discover his love language… (Though I would have guessed it immediately from all of our years of marriage.) 🙂  It means everything to a person to receive love the way their heart desires to be shown love.

 

Do you remember your wedding ceremony and the honeymoon days that followed? There was hardly a time we weren’t touching, holding hands, hugging and kissing…our lives were so full of pure delight and glorious felicity. 🙂

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There is nothing like the touch of our fathers hand in ours, especially after a treasured day together.

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Your “love of your life,” best friends touch… It is always so comforting, just to know “they are there!”  🙂 200264715-001

Physical touch as an expression of love is not just for humans…its also for the birds! (no pun intended.) 🙂 All human life seems to derive so much from touch!

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As babies, we can’t be touched enough…it’s our comfort, assurance and way we receive nurturing and love. For us big guys… (adults,) a babies touch is like nothing else… they give us love without even trying! 🙂

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“THERE IS NO EXERCISE BETTER FOR THE HEART THAN REACHING DOWN AND LIFTING PEOPLE UP.” ~ JOHN HOLMES

Love Language number two… Words of Affirmation.

This love language seems to be one of the most popular... If you feel loved when someone SPEAKS words of edification such as; ” you are pretty, handsome, smart, creative, admired, doing a great job, are kind and loving, a best friend, have lost weight or gained, (which ever needed,) 🙂 you’re appreciated, your  a person of integrity and great faith, a fabulous cook, “I love you,” or that you have accomplished much in your life, then this is your love language and definitely how you RECEIVE  Love. Again, everyone enjoys hearing a compliment or kind word, but it does not make them feel LOVED like it does someone with this love language.

You may not receive love through this language, but it  could be your way of showing others you love them. Do you find yourself continually  giving compliments, uplifting your spouse, children and friends with your words of encouragement and love? Do you enjoy telling the check out  lady at the grocery store how  pretty she looks that day or e-mailing a friend who is a bit down and spend time trying to cheer them up? Are you one to be the listener in a group and find yourself asking a lot of questions to get people to ‘talk about themselves?’ If so, this could be the language you use to show others your LOVE.

In our marriage this language has been a wonderful blessing as both Kit and I receive and show love with this language . (We are forever building up one another with words of edification , encouragement and love  and it is undoubtedly a huge blessing and fulfills our “love tanks.” 🙂

 

Writing our heart felt sentiments within ‘an old fashioned, handwritten, snail mail- letter’ 🙂 is truly a gift of love to those who own this love language .language3   What a great idea!   5lwordsofenc3

Just three simple words can change a day! 5lwordsofenc

There is nothing like a kind word fitly spoken, no matter our age! 🙂ad21

Did you know that the Briard breed of dogs, when trained, learn only by praise and affirmation? (Kit and I know it firsthand.) 🙂 (We only have one!) 🙂 Bless the family that owns all of these… 🙂 briardenc

WORDS are a a powerful, amazing life giving force. briardenc1

My husband just gave me this for my birthday… I am going to put it right next to my desk. 🙂 Talk about words of affirmation… I will keep it forever!  🙂 IMG_0246

 

 

BECAUSE BUSINESS LIFE IS SO BUSY, MY HOME IS REALLY MY SANCTUARY. THAT IS WHERE I REFLECT AND SPEND QUALITY TIME WITH MY GIRLS.” ~ RACHEL RAY

Love Language number three…Quality Time.

This love language, especially in the the 21st century, is a very difficult love language to own and express, as “our time” is so full, busy and we are beyond exhausted at the end of each day… Because it is so rare to have free time, what better gift to give, than “your undivided and wholehearted time” to the ones you love?  If this love language is the way you show your love to others, you are undoubtedly a planner…always planing dates with special friends, organizing dinners for the family gatherings, taking refreshments to your children’s soccer games, meeting your  spouse for a cup of coffee at Starbucks where there are no phones ringing, TV’s playing, and the two of you can sit, with ‘uninterrupted time,’ to just say “Hi honey, HOW ARE YOU DOING?” 🙂 When you are with your mate, a friend or family member, ‘you are REALLY there,’101%… they are your priority for the time you are giving.

If Quality time is not the way you show your love, but receive love from others, you probably feel ‘love staved’ at times, 🙂 (because of how busy life is these days.)  Your love tank is filled when a friend calls and you have over an hour to catch up with “real talk,” you love it when your mate , with no other distractions , looks at you and wants to hear about your day. Your on cloud nine when you go on vacation and see the family and get a full day with each of your siblings…talking, laughing, sharing and being intimate. Quality time is intimacy to you and there is nothing like it to make you feel loved and cherished. You are probably not one for surface talk and half-hearted relationships as they just do not feel REAL…  Quality time is my love language, both in the way I show love and receive it. It is not an easy love language … and I am learning to receive love from the way others show there love, if it is not quality time, or words of affirmation, (my other love language.) I keep reminding myself, it truly is not personal. I am thankful for these love languages  and I would not change this part of me for anything! 🙂

 

Whether  at Starbucks, or in your home when all the kids are gone, share that intimate, steal-away moment of  time over a delicious cup of coffee…really listening! 5lqualitytime5 There is nothing quite like an afternoon in the park together…pack a picnic lunch, your favorite foods, a cozy blanket and just “TALK,” (sharing in the beauty of nature, the birds singing, fresh air and a gorgeous sunny day!Young happy couple outdoors

“Q” time with the girls is certainly a way to feel loved and cherished and show love…no matter how old we are! 🙂

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Going to an exhilarating celebrity concert together, or a symphony under the stars in New York City’s renowned Central Park, getting out with your mate or friends is a wonderful way to spend quality time together. (Can you guess which concert Kit would choose and which is my pick?)bruce

Lets see….Bruce Hornsby or Usher…hmm! My choice would have to be the performer ‘s G-rated songs , so that should give you a hint! 🙂 Both exceptional artists, (and would be a great outing for quality time together with your mate or friends.)

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Do you remember as little kids, hanging out at the beach with your older brother? Now that was quality time! Finding enchanting starfish, poking the sea anemones with long twigs as we were so afraid if we used our fingers, they’d eat them up, 🙂 getting sun burnt, running as far away as we could from the jellyfish a drifted on shore, joyfully wading in the oceans waves, listening for the sound of the mysterious sea in the conk shells…peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and walking hand and hand…There was always time for each other! 🙂

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I know that our Grantham’s love language is Quality time…He shows his love as well as receives love this way…) amongst all the four other love languages.) 🙂  Quality time with your pet is what they desire the most, except maybe that steak bone or some fresh grilled salmon! 🙂   A day at the Grand canyon together…now that was hours of blissful “Q” time…what a great memory for Kit and I. west4west1

 

 

“HAPPINESS DOESN’T RESULT FROM WHAT WE GET, BUT FROM WHAT WE GIVE.” ~ BEN CARSON

Love language number 4 ~ GIFT GIVING!

I personally have a few friends that I have known since childhood, who own this love language and shared with me that, “If you take my ability to give gifts away, I would not feel like I was  expressing my love for others.”  WOW! I think everyone enjoys giving gifts and receiving them, but if this is your love language, it carries with it much more meaning within your heart.  If you love shopping for others, picking out ‘just the right’ gift for their home or a hobby they enjoy, or perhaps if you are gifted with creativity, you enjoying making personalized and cherished homemade gifts for others, planning birthday luncheons for your girlfriends, taking your buddy’s out for a beer,  baking  an ambrosial cake for your neighbors or your favorite doctor and his office staff,  taking friends out to brunch or you enjoy bestowing tokens of love at every celebration, this is undeniably your way of showing love and “gift giving” is your love language.

If you FEEL loved when you receive a gift from someone, then this also is your love language, as it is how you personally  receive love. You probably can hardly wait for your birthday when friends and family celebrate your special day with handpicked gifts that they know you will adore. You enjoy and feel loved, being taken out to dinner, receiving surprises from your mate, ( a bouquet of fresh roses, a box of chocolates or a gift certificate to the spa, your favorite classic movie, a new fishing rod, or that elegant watch you’ve had your eye on.) Christmas time is most likely a season of blissfulness as your “love tank” is not only full, but overflowing. 🙂

 

For those whose love language is “Gift-giving”, adding a unique piece to a collection they have going is a wonderful idea to express your love. It shows thoughtfulness and creativity.language11

A homemade gift, right from the heart, showing time and creativity is a delightful way to demonstrate your love. How about renting a cottage in the country, stocking it up with your friends favorite wine, coffee, foods and music and giving it to them as a surprise ‘weekend away?’ Not only would they feel LOVED, but it would be a resplendent, wondrous respite! language10language9

What lady does not love “girly stuff?” My sister sent me the most adorable birthday box filled with different themes of pure enjoyment… nighttime luxuries; ( a new night gown, night cream accompanied by a beautiful hand towel to match,) along with a “feeling pretty” bag, filled with a variety of makeups, lotions, earrings,  anti-wrinkle cream…(YEAH!), and serene melodic CD’s. Creativeness is a gift within itself!language8

Again, if you know your friends or family members china pattern, adding a cup and saucer, soup bowl or dinner plate is an endearing way to show your love. language7

For the special men in your life who own this language, there is nothing like making their favorite cake to bless their palates, buying a manly scented candle for their study or anything that is thoughtful and shows you know what their interests are as well as  care about them.

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Some more ideas for the guys…support their passions, whether its a card that says “I hereby grant you a free weekend by yourself, to go camping, fishing, biking or mountain climbing.”  Always  encourage them to chase their dreams.    How about giving them the gift of a new fishing rod or the latest  bike on the market, with all the ‘bells and whistles.’ Not only will they feel loved but will be eminently touched by your thoughtfulness.

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THOSE WHO ARE HAPPIEST ARE THOSE WHO DO THE MOST FOR OTHERS.” ~ BOOKER T. WASHINGTON

The last, but certainly not least Love language; ACTS OF SERVICE

Acts of service is a lot like gift giving as a love language, except that it is usually the task we are doing for our loved one that makes them feel loved, not so much the gift of our benevolence. If you possess this love language as your way of showing your love, you most likely are a person that is always offering to do the jobs that no one else wants to do, (or won’t admit it, but they are unable to do.) 🙂 Fixing the kitchen sink for your wife, mowing the lawn for your husband, running errands for your friends, helping your friends move on your day off, spending the day cleaning the house and preparing a five star meal  for your husbands boss and his wife, taking the dog out for a walk in the snow, writing letters for the elderly who no longer can write and you love reading stories to children in the pediatric ward. This is your way of demonstrating the love within your heart for others.

If you feel loved when someone does something nice for you, supports your causes and helps makes posters, sends out mail or hands out flyers,  does your Christmas baking for you as you are not one who enjoys getting messy, 🙂 cleans your home for free, fixes your roof, free of charge, washes and waxes your car, and always goes the ‘extra mile” for you in making sure your needs are taken care of…Acts of service is absolutely your love language in the way you receive love.

What spouse would not feel loved when upon arriving home, beholds a beautifully set tableaux and a gourmet meal fit for a king awaiting … (especially if their boss and his wife are coming over for dinner? ) 🙂 Your hard work will be remembered for a long time! 🙂 (And your spouse will feel loved. )language15

During the holidays, we usually see all the moms slaving away in the kitchen, baking sugar cookies for her children’s class of 30, rum balls for the neighbors, Toll house bars for  friends, and fresh pies for her family. What a perfect gift, an awesome “act of service” for the kids to help her with the Christmas baking… (Hey dads, you could be their cheerleader.) 🙂language4

Dress up your kitchen table with an abundance of  kaleidoscopic, joyous colors, brew a pot of coffee or tea, bring out some freshly baked scones or banana bread and ask a friend or neighbor over for the morning. It will make their day!language5

This idea is probably the number one thought that runs through our minds when we think of acts of service…..very simple, easy and yet so deeply appreciated. (Especially in the cold wintry months.) 🙂 I can never say ‘thank you’ enough to Kit when he takes our trash out…no matter the season! 🙂 5lacts2

Another popular act of service, mowing the lawn for your mate. Our lawn takes 2 hours on a riding mower so whether Kit does it for me one weekend, (to give me two extra free hours,) or I do it for him…it truly is a big blessing!5lacts

Walking the dog, at twilight or the crack of dawn,  during the cold and brisk winter months, is one of the most wonderful gifts of service you could possibly give…not only to your mate, but your dog too! 🙂  (I was not kidding when I said Graham embodies all five love languages in both his giving and receiving love..he is a love machine! 🙂snowday

There are not enough words to say “thank you” to a man who knows how to fix “just about anything,” around the house… The plumbing, hang Christmas lights, fix a broken dryer, unclog the kitchen sink, service your car, fix your computer when it is acting crazy, and what would we do without our guys on moving day? 🙂 If this is the love language he demonstrates his love with, be sure to acknowledge just how very much he loves you!  timtool

 

Now that you know the five languages of love, take the time to figure out your language, or languages. Some of you will have just one, others, possibly all five.You may show love with one language and receive love with another…

Once this is done, ask your friends which love language they possess , or in knowing them as well as you do,  look to your intuition as to which Love language they embody.

As you begin showing your love to those in your life that are important to you with their love language, (the way they RECEIVE love,)  you will see what a wonderful difference it makes in the relationship. For instance, If your language is showing  your love through giving a gift, but the recipients love language is “quality time,” mix the two together…take them their gift, but don’t leave in a hurry.  Spend some time with them…

If your love language is words of affirmation and you have a friend who has never complimented you even once, try to understand that it is not personal…learn their love language and receive their love, the way they show it. You may want to share this book with them and tell them what your love language is...(hint, hint.) 🙂  Its not easy at first… but I found this book to not only be life changing, (for the better)  but exceedingly insightful and lots of fun. My relationships have only improved and are richer and fuller, thus bringing more joy, beauty and felicity for living the life I have been given.

I hope you enjoy learning what your LOVE LANGUAGE IS as well as the language your loved ones embody.

*** I do highly recommend this book as I know the author shares this glorious subject more in depth. Its a great read as well as relationship – enhancer. 🙂 (The Five languages of Love, by Gary Chapman. )

 

PHOTOGRAPHS: In placing your computer mouse upon any of the photos or graphics, it will display where the picture originated from.

Grandeur Dining Rooms

“Dining with ones friends and beloved family is certainly one of life’s primal and most innocent delights, one that is both soul satisfying and eternal.” ~ Julia Childelegance2

I have such extraordinary memories growing up as a child, my heart filled with such joy  of all the times my parents treated us to a captivating, elegant, royal tableaux and luscious meal.  On those special occasions,REL6 my mom would always decorate the dining table with radiant, candescent candles, freshly arranged red roses, soft , dim lighting, white or powder blue linen table cloths with newly starched and ironed napkins, her treasured Haviland china with its delicate design, festooned beautiful momwith petite pastel roses, her polished choice sliver and stellar Waterford crystal. (I would always be ‘right there watching her every move’)  just in case she needed my help in any way.)  🙂

Her meals were not only legendary, chimerical but heartening and comforting.  I think my top three,REL3 (and I have to choose three as I can’t possibly pick just one,) 🙂 was her homemade spaghetti, (and no, we are from an Irish, not Italian descent,) beef brisket with potatoes, carrots and onions, and from her Southern heritage, a savory and first class, dreamy lump crab casserole. She baked plenty of ambrosial breads, created, hearty delicious salads, (her homemade avocado dressing was gourmet,) and her desserts were decadent… Pecan pie a’ la mode, rich, dense chocolate cake topped with a mocha frosting,  fudge brownies with pecans and real whipped cream, and french Vanilla Ice cream, drizzled with Chambord  liqueur. (I only got a ‘taste’ at that time.) 🙂 REL1The ‘older kids’ shared in a glass of wine, while my  younger brother and I had our  beautiful goblet of ‘boring’ milk. 🙂  For some reason, it did not look nearly as delicious as their sparkling white wine in the classy and regal crystal.)

For very special occasions, I also remember my parents taking us to some really upscale eateries in California that made me feel so pampered and special…like a princess for the night.REL I especially loved The Reuben E. Lee , ( a 19th century Paddle boat docked  upon the Newport bay.)  It was called the “floating, elegant restaurant.” (My dad would always order me a ‘Shirley Temple’) and they  always served freshly made popped corn.  My other favored place to go was the Five crowns in Newport beach. Not only is their English decor absolutely exquisite, but their prime rib is to die for.REL8  Once, while living in South Carolina, they took us to a beautiful seafood eatery, nestled upon the water, in the renowned and historical city of  Charleston and ordered us all lobster tails with melted butter on the side.  To my surprise, I loved it! As a little girl,  I never enjoyed lobster when my parents bought them fresh and then had to boil them all in the Brobdingnagian  pot as those humongous critters were REL7“still kicking.” I’d run out of the kitchen and yell out to my mom, “I will just have salad, bread and extra potatoes tonight for dinner.”) 🙂

 

 

There is just something so special about dressing up a room and table with “your best” of everything…creating a felicitous meal, sitting with loved ones, laughing until your jaw aches, sharing stories of yesteryear, eating delectable cuisine until you are stuffed and watch as the last tall, lambent candle’s flame has demised. REL9 It is a gift that you can give yourself, your husband, your family, boyfriend, girlfriend or guests. Having a special occasion such as a birthday, holiday gathering, anniversary celebration or an intimate night with friends is a wonderful landmark to build your fancy dinner around…but I like to do it “just because” on some nights as a special gift to my husband and I..(And Grantham too if we have steak, chicken or salmon, as he impatiently waits for his portion, drooling like there is no tomorrow.) 🙂

I am hoping to share with you in this vignette some very  grandiose dining room ideas as well as share one of my mom’s stupendous recipes with you, to bring forth a few inspiring ideas of how to give yourself as well as loved ones a “fine and regal” dining experience.

 

 

DISTINGUISHED QUOTE CORNER Adorable Baby Boy in Suit on Cellphone

 “You never forget a beautiful thing you have made,” (Chef Bugnard  said.) “Even after you eat it, it stays with you-always.” ~ Julia Child

Bon Appetit!” ~ Julia Child

“It’s so beautifully arranged on a plate, you know someones fingers have been all over it.” ~ Julia Child

“If More of us valued food and cheer and songaudry2 above hoarded gold, It would be a merrier world.” ~ J.R.R. Tolkien ~ Author of The Lord of the Rings

“Come quickly! I’m tasting stars.” ~ Dom Pierre Perignon tasting his first sip of his newly created champagne.

“I have a renewed commitment to elegance, she said, in case you think I’m just spending money for the fun of it.” ~ Brian Adreas

“Enchant, stay beautiful and graceful, but do this, eat well. audry7Bring the same consideration to the preparation of your food as you devote to your appearance. Let your dinner be a poem, like your dress.” ~ 18th century French author Charles Pierre Monselet

“Certainly one of the important requirements for learning how to cook is that you also learn how to eat. If you don’t know how an especially fine dish is supposed to taste, how can you produce it? ” ~ Julia Child
Are you ready to visit  some grandeur dining rooms? 🙂
If you are a History buff, a connoisseur of antiqued chandeliers, silver candelabra, soft white candle light and a warm, regal ambiance, this elegant dining room is the perfect place to plan a festive reunion with loved ones… Absolutely Gorgeous!
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Both of these par- excellence dining rooms are fiercely grandiose and would undoubtedly make each guest feel coddled and pampered. The first photograph is one of the most beautiful rooms I have ever seen with it’s  amazing vaulted ceilings, arched hallways, divine, shiny wood flooring, awesome paned windows with it’s breathtaking view, the original and choice sconce lighting, and stellar hanging chandelier. It truly looks as if Royalty lives here. The second dining room is of course a classy and graceful eatery…All the work and preparation is done for you to perfection. The only thing that awaits you is ‘pure pleasure.’   I adore the floral topiary tree. (Just creating one of those and placing it amongst a white linen table cloth would be a wondrous start to your elegant setting. ) 🙂
elegance6fancy eatery
This vintage dining room is exquisite. I could see this table festooned for a ladies intimate dinner…  It’s ambiance creates the feeling of an exciting wedding celebration! 🙂  I love her white, sheer, lace window treatment, her collection of diverse candelabras and the  hanging chandelier is absolutely top-of-the-line! What makes this room beautifully rhapsodic is it’s ‘style,’ a special touch being the unique linen tablecloth with it’s picturesque, entrancing, “Shabby Chic” corners.   Any guest  having dinner in this lovely, ageless dining room would feel very refreshed and catered to.
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Already blessed with an amazingly gorgeous view, this grandeur dining room is certainly a treat for any of it’s dinner guests . The soft lighting is perfect for a romantic dinner amidst the blithesome and canty flower arrangements, candescent candle light and stunning china. In our dining room, we have a hanging Chandler, (very casual in it’s presentation,) but it has a dimmer switch which allows us to make our intimate dinners cozy, enchanting, warm and sung! Its a great investment! 🙂
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Don’t you feel as if you have stepped back in time as you look upon this  exhilarating and rousing dining room? I can just envision George Washington and his family dining in a room like this as he lived within his Mt. Vernon, Virginia estate… The vaulted ceilings and gorgeously paned window treatment  alone, would keep me enjoying extra cups of coffee after dessert, just to stay at  the table and ‘take in’ this  exquisite and lovely ambiance. This fireplace is stirring with it’s baronial mantle as well as intricate  architectural design. The divine hanging chandelier unabashedly announces it’s glory with it’s jeweled accents, the lively and poignant array of choice flowers amongst the delicate, regal white table settings, classic crystal and refined, polished sideboard is breathtaking! I love this patina!   army56

The repetition of ‘gold’ in this dining room is within itself elegant and grandiose. The table setting is eye-catching with it’s red and gold plates resting snugly upon a gold charger, accentuated with the golden candle sticks and silver serving piece… Did you notice how this decorator has dauntlessly mixed in some blue crystal glasses as well as natures divine greens amongst her regal and rich colors?  The soft candle light and vintage table clock are riveting .  This room is gorgeous and brings an abundance of new ideas of how to create your evening of enchantment and beauty.   army70

 Historic and eminently LOVELY. The lively topiary tree, buoyant yellow roses, vintage portrait and floral painting amidst the enveloping window treatments and alluring view is magical and inviting. I remember when one of my brothers was engaged, he was given a tablecloth much like this and I was so envious! (Very  happy for he and his fiance, but boy, did I want that table cloth.) 🙂  It’s breathtaking and exudes the very essence of  elegant dining. I adore the gregarious flower arrangement centerpiece,  latticed, two tone linen napkins, prestigious goblets, and absolutely stellar, majestic and graceful china. I bet there has been many a lovely, congenial and delightful meal shared around this table. 🙂
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This delightful centerpiece with its gilded fruits, august three tried plate stand, gold candlestick holders with their appeasing candles and dainty and recherche china, catches the eye immediately! Again, this decorator has chosen to use the gorgeous color of gold as the rooms  main color palette with touches of white, reds and yellow. I have always loved adding  a baronial, winsome wing back chair to a dining table…It’s unique, inviting and comfortably complimentary.
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This majestic dining room brings a tune from Burl Ives to my mind. You know, the song in our children’s  beloved and cherished, (and the little kid in all of us too,) ‘Rudolph the red nosed reindeer’s,’ “Silver and Gold, silver and gold, everyone wishes for silver and gold…”  (It truly is a great movie.) 🙂 I love the white, stellar built in shelves, the golden candelabras, and tall candlesticks, the elegant white linens and the abundance of silver trays, goblets and table decor. Absolutely gorgeous!
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Though a table set for the glorious Christmas season, this dining room looks as if it is right out of a classic film… delightfully viewing this winning and par-excellence dining room sparks an abundance of wondrous ideas on how to bring about a stunning and grandiose dining experience for the holidays or any special occasion for that matter. The sideboards, festooned with  graceful swags of garland and fresh, enlivening  flowers, the strikingly bedecked fireplace mantle, festive red bows tied upon the chairs, and a vibrant red table runner to highlight the eloquent white linen table cloth is beautifully inspiring.  The  soft, glowing candle light  amongst the rich, dark woods is warm and graciously welcoming. I love it!
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I am always in awe with ‘white table-settings!’ This tableaux is quite simple but also enchanting and regal. I am impressed with the diversity of candle holders the gilded pears amongst the greens, as well as the creative, artful and clever, floral centerpiece. Great ideas!
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Another holiday gathering…The first impression, with these absolutely gorgeous and  rich wood, paned French doors is “explosively beautiful!” 🙂 I love the antiquated art work and their gold frames, the polished, cozy dining table with green and red accent tones and the cleverly done, blue trim upon the doors. Very lovely and warm!
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Not a typical dining room, yet just as charming. Many a time, especially when all the kids have grown up and moved away, dinner is held in the ‘parlor,’ ( our living rooms with our table set up cozily by the fireside, or perhaps now a days, our  widescreen TV’s.)  🙂 This historic room is congenial, royal, welcoming and evokes a beautifully convivial ambiance to each guest who comes to share an elegant dining experience. 🙂
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Another holiday bedecked dining room…(with a cheerful little visitor.) 🙂 Valentines day would be a perfect ‘motif’ for an elegant and grandeur evening meal with friends or family! This decorators color palette is lovely with it’s shades of red, green and white , highlighted with magical touches of gold. The green foliage upon the vintage mirror is classy and graceful. I love the red place mats upon the white linen cloth and the eminently unique and original fire engine red candelabra.  Beautiful room with a wealth of great decor ideas.  🙂
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So many elegant and grandiose dining room ambiances use the never failing and magical ‘muse’ of Christmas for their amiable and spirited presentation.   This dining room is classically done…I love the jeweled, enchanting hanging chandelier, garish and exuberant Christmas tree, cobble stoned fireplace, vintage chairs, dark woods with the motley table setting in pastel rose, green and diverse shades of glorious red. The centerpiece is refreshing, inviting and the silver goblets, historically festive! Very stunning!
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One of the popular and innovative, beautiful pieces of furniture for your elegant dining room ambiance is the baronial and courtly sideboard. Not only is it a lovely piece of furniture but it is also a place to festoon with beauty, using your regal and captivating  decor, as well as displaying decadent desserts, hot bread baskets, side dishes and beverages upon.
This side table is dressed in magnificent and fresh greens, kaleidoscopic china coffee cups and exquisite silver. It is a spirited as well as sanguine addition to this dining room.
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This side table is absolutely euphoric. You do not see many sideboards arrayed in this kind of beauty…The vintage mirror is captivating with it’s antiquated design and elfin, floral swag… the tall, elaborate silver candelabras are classy, almost hypnotic, and  the decadent, showstopping freshly baked cake is comfortably resting on this sideboard, tempting every guest! 🙂   Absolutely romantic and junoesque.
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These two sideboards are tasteful and luxurious, but are warm and inviting as well. Both displays capture your eye with their diverse and lovely floral arrangements and the opalescent glow of the tall candles with their dancing flames. Two wonderful ideas to dress up your room for that special fete.
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Brilliant, magical, enchanting and filled with charm. A winning sideboard table for any dining room patina. Golden candlelight, reflected in mirrored glass is always a top-of-the-line decor addition to bring forth warmth, magic and a bit of romance. 🙂 army40

Lastly, my adored topiary tree festooned with bedazzling roses…and the cake…HEAVENLY! This sideboard’s ambiance is one of the Victorian era, alluring and full of romance. (The trees are very easy to create and yet look as if they are straight from the florist shop.)  🙂army31

I just read an article on elegant dining by the ‘Fine dining editor’ of the Examiner, George Singeltary. He stressed that what we are looking for when we ‘go out for a night on the town’ to enjoy an elegant getaway and delicious cuisine is three things… We want great service, great food and an a great ambiance to relax in. These are all wondrous gifts that our favorite eateries graciously offer us, but we, as well, can create the same, memorable and convivial experience right in our very own homes to bless our friends and family with, free of charge. I hope this vignette has inspired you with some new ideas on how to bring forth an elegant and grandeur dining room, providing a place for your  resplendent and delightsome evening with your loved ones.

I want to leave you with one of those superb dinners I was telling you about earlier in the blog…from the deep blue waters of the Atlantic ocean…luscious lump crab casserole! You can used canned lump crab, but it will not be as scrumptious! 🙂

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YOU WILL NEED: one pound of lump crab meat, make sure there are no shells within your crab, 4 large eggs, (beaten) 3/4 stick of butter, 1 green pepper, (chopped finely,)  1 stalk of celery, (chopped finely,)  3 green onions, chopped finely, (using the chives as well ,) 1 cup of heavy whipping cream, 1 cup of half and half,  1/2 cup of breadcrumbs, dash of Worcestershire sauce, red pepper, salt and pepper to taste. Remember, (as you LOOK at all these ingredients, it is a rich dinner and you will only be eating just a serving so, for one evening, it will be OK.  🙂 One woman who had this at my luncheon loved it so much, she called me for the recipe… after SEEING the ingredients, she asked if she could substitute with the cream and half and half. If you do, the casserole will not  taste at all like it is supposed to…They say, “everything in moderation.) 🙂    It’s worth it!

DIRECTIONS:  Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Melt your butter over low heat and saute’ your  chopped vegetables; green pepper, celery stalk, green onion and chives, just until soft. Remove from heat and set aside, allowing to cool.  Beat your four eggs together until well blended. Add the half and half and cream, continue beating or whisking your mixture until it is again, well blended. Add your dash of Worcestershire sauce, red pepper, salt and pepper to taste, (I use freshly ground black pepper and Tabasco.)  Gently, fold in  your lump crab meat  and mix together. Add your freshly sauteed and cooled vegetables, as well as the melted butter they  have been cooked in,  then scoop your mixture into a buttered casserole or a 9×13-2 inch Pyrex dish or baking pan, (same size.)  Spread in pan evenly. Cover with bread crumbs, (I use the seasoned breadcrumbs from the grocer. ) Bake for 30 minutes, test the center to see if it is done as all ovens are different. It should be firm….insert a knife to see if it has cooked through. You will know! 🙂 *** I use about two stems of green onion chopped, but the chives of three.

ENJOY! This is great served with fresh steamed asparagus, sourdough bread and a baked potato with all the trimmings. 🙂

Additional Links:
Country Living magazine white dining room
Victoria Magazine
Country Living magazine
Soot Collector Illuma Lids for candles 

PHOTOGRAPHS In placing your computer mouse upon each photo or graphic, it will display where the picture originated from.

 

“Things that make you go HMM.”

“The pondering heart is a thankful heart.” ~ Todd Stocker
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Besides being a popular dance song released in the early 90’s by artist C+C Music Factory and a fantastic song to do aerobics to,  “Things that make you go hmm,” is a phrase that we often do, (without realizing it,) when we see, feel or hear something that is ‘out of the ordinary’, thus leading us to take the time to ponder…If you are a ‘deep thinker’ as myself, it can get you into trouble, as sometimes I “over think” some of my ‘hmm’s,’ to my detriment…(but I am learning.) 🙂

I am a lover of (most things) that make you go ‘hmm,’ especially the things that are new, thought provoking, controversial to the human mind or case us to  feel hope, magic, faith, wonderment and awe . They bring color to our everyday life, as well as accelerate the blood flow to our brain, increasing brain cells, which  keeps our minds growing . It is also a known fact that when you  exercise your mind, you become a more compassionate, understanding and kind person. (Another reason to challenge your mind with the things that make you stop , think, contemplate and challenge yourself to resolve your questions or embrace your amazement, about the topic at hand.)

things that 55I believe that everyone has stories of things in their life that make them go ‘hmm’. They begin to occur when we are old enough to observe, hear and talk and will continue happening as long as we live. I don’t think we we will ever stop questioning life, world events, human behavior or cease to  fully grasp  the  things that spark our curiosity and cause us to revel, evoking our minds to take the time to arrive to a peaceful conclusion and belief.

There are  a medley of categories for this fun topic... In my research , I was amazed at just how many articles, posts and writings are published about “things that make you go hmm.”  In this blog, I would like to share an array of real life occurrences  that will perhaps cause you to question your own beliefs, laugh, or smile as you find yourself  fully  identifying with their unique “hmm.”  Most of all, I hope this writing brings your day amusement, entertainment and enjoyment as it did for me. ENJOY!

 

things that 109DISTINGUISHED “THOUGHT PROVOKING”CORNER…

 

 

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How many times have you turned on the news, a favorite talk show or seen an article in the Newspaper about children who have talents or knowledge that far surpasses their age? CHILD PRODIGIES… Unfathomable  Hmm’s.

 

I was amazed to learn about Akrit Jaswal, a child surgeon in India. This young boy performed his first surgery at the age of seven years old, operating on the hands of a burn victim. No, Akrit is not a doctor in India but he is  considered a “medical genius” by his native people. At the age of 13, his IQ is 146 .

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Born in the year 2000, this beautiful young singer, with her extraordinary musical talents has already gone Platinum. Jackie Evancho was discovered at a very young age, causing awe and inspiration in her followers, with her unique style of  American Classical Crossover music. Since the age of 9 Jackie has issued five albums including platinum gold, 3 Billboard  and 200 top ten debuts.Great Performances: Jackie Evancho-Dream With Me in Concert

I was first introduced to these two precious  “young ladies” on The Ellen Show. Two pint size Brits, 5 Year old  Rosie McClelland and her cousin, 7 year old Sophia Grace Brownlee. They became an overnight sensation with a video they made that went viral. Now 8 and 10 years old, they not only have their first movie out on Warner Brothers, but will soon have their very own Television show. I can not watch these two little girls longer that 5 seconds without smiling, laughing and just being in complete awe at their captivating, sweet personalities, dancing, singing and acting abilities.  thingsthat10003

 

 This adorable little boy is  Akim Camara. He is a violinist prodigy in Berlin. With an extraordinary memory of musical tunes he’d heard as a toddler, Akim began playing the violin at the early age of two. He began taking lessons twice a week, and within 6 months time was playing the violin far beyond his audiences expectation. At the age of 3,  this little guy made his debut performance in December 2003, at a Christmas concert.

Das Adventsfest der 100.000 Lichter in Suhl - Violinist Akim

 

This very talented  artist, known as “Akiane,” began drawing at the age of 4 and was painting by age 6, using acrylics and oil.  Her mission is to INSPIRE OTHERS, with the subject matter being God and nature. She is now 13 years old. Unbelievable!  thingsthat1000

 

I don’t know about you, but I have always been awestricken by the creatures of the deep sea…There are no two creations alike. The Mystical hmm.

A econometric Scale worm, one of many bio-luminescent inhabitants of the ocean, with its scales glowing in the dark.  (Kind of looks like a alien from outer space?) 🙂

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The mystifying, kaleidoscopic colors of the creatures of the sea are inconceivable.

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Oh my gosh… This little guy looks like a human being, that just tasted something very sour.. The Ghost Hunters of the Ocean call this one a ‘scary deep sea creature.” thingsthat80077

A Hawks-bill Turtle in the warm Egyptian waters. Amazing!thingsthat80045

This Brobdingnagian sea creature makes me think of what the bible says about the leviathans, (sea monsters) playing in the ocean… He’s none other than a “whale Shark,” unbelievable in size.   OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

SUPPOSEDLY HAUNTED houses, beaches or hotels…The “spooky, unexplainable, is this for real ” contemplations.

lampost1Everyone , I am sure, has heard at least one ghost story or two of presumably haunted houses,  or about someone who swears they saw a spirit-like presence walk by their door, or that have heard strange noises in the middle of the night, that are still to this day unexplained… Perhaps you are one who has a story to tell.

 

I personally know of two people who have a haunted house story… Now these are not people who exaggerate the truth for the sake of a ‘good, old scary campfire tale.’ When they shared it with me, they meant it and believed it 100%! I heard these stories  many years ago and I am still thinking about them 🙂

“The Lady in the windows.”

Spending many years  in the deep south, it was not uncommon to hear stories of the supernatural. My mother often spoke of her childhood home where she grew up in the late 1920’s…  Suddenly, out of nowhere, (the air languid and still,) she would see their high back, white rockers, rocking all by themselves on the porch, unexplained noises from the hall closet and creaking sounds coming from their old staircase . She and her little brother would run and hide, spooked by what  they could not explain.  I will always remember this one particular story she told me that has been passed down through many generations in our family.

  Kathryn Winders - Susan's  mothers home in Marion South CarolinaThe home that my mother grew up in, was  an Old Victorian home, (which from the outside did look a little spooky, perhaps accented with a tiny bit of Gothic charm.)  (Sorry mom, but it really did.) 🙂  My mom was blessed to live with two generations of her family living in this home,(something very common in the south.)  Her little brother Willie , her mother Virginia, her grandpa, (as well as father figure,) William and their friend and butler, Porter.  My mom recalled an exceedingly vivid dream she had the night her grandpa died.  She dreamed he came to her bedside and gave her a big bear hug, (like he always did) kissed her on the cheek and told her how much he loved her. He then told her that he was going to go away but he would see her again one day. 

The night of her dream, while sleeping,  her grandfather became very ill. His dlampostaughter Virginia, by his side,  asked Porter to get a glass of cold water for William downstairs in the kitchen . When 20 minutes had  passed and Porter had not returned, Virginia went down to the kitchen herself. She saw Porter standing in the dark, the glistening light from the Edwardian lamppost outside highlighting his slender form. As She walked to  turn the light on, she concernedly asked;   “Porter, are you alright?”

Porter , in a trance- like state of mind,  answered back: “Miss Virginia, I don’t know how to tell you this, or if you will believe me,  but when I walked into the kitchen, I saw a woman within the midst of the windows above the  sink. (My moms vintage home had two large, towering encasement  Kitchen windows.)  She was so beautiful…I  know I should have been scared as she was not real…she was more of a spirit, ghost or vision. She was so peaceful, I just couldn’t stop looking at her.”

Virginia, a little awestruck, sat down at the kitchen table and  said;    “Porter what did this woman look like?”

As Porter began to describe the woman, Virginia’s eyes lit up as she continued to listen.

“She looked so  beautiful  dressed in a mauve colored  tailored dress, her hair was up off her neck, softly fastened with a gold clip in a loose bun upon her head. She wore a beautiful silk green scarf that matched her earrings and she was smiling, her lips a deep red color.”

Virginia, feeling bewildered, yet at the same time , comforted, replied;  “Porter you probably won”t believe me either when I tell you who you are describing. The woman you saw was my mother. The very way she wore her hair, her dress, her scarf, her favorite earrings, and she loved her red lipstick. Your description fits her to a “T” of  exactly how she was dressed and looked when we buried her many years ago. You never knew her as she died long  before you came to live with us.”

As they sat together at the kitchen table, they chatted a little more about my mom’s grandmother and then headed back up stairs to see William, trying to grasp and understand this unexplainable occurrence.

In the morning when Virginia woke up and went in to check on  her father, he had died within the night.

When Virginia sat down with my mom and Willie,  to share the news that their beloved Grandpa had died, my mom began to cry. She told her mother about her dream and how  her grandpa had kissed her and told her goodbye. Virginia, hearing about the dream, began to weep as she recalled the night before and the woman Porter saw in the kitchen windows , trying so hard to make sense of it all.

They all came to the conclusion, (and have passed this story down through the generations,) that my great grandmother came to escort her husband William to heaven the very night he died. It gave them all great comfort as they remembered the years William and his wife were together on this earth…they were exceedingly close and shared a love  that was a blessing to everyone who knew them.

merriment18I  am blessed to have at least mamagin1two photographs of these five “very important ” people in my history who lived in this Victorian, ( a little bit Gothic,) 🙂  home of many a ‘Hmm story.’ My mom as a little baby and her mother, Virginia as a young woman. Two amazing and beautiful southern women.

 

“Ghost Soldiers.”

thingsthat7004A friend of mine, Shepherd, who I have always called “Shep”, bought a beautiful Antebellum home in the grandiose and breathtaking city of Charleston  South Carolina. The home had heroically stood through the Civil war, which only made it a home with more stories to tell as well as gave it an extra added charisma…but Shep never knew it was haunted. He and his wife did a wonderful job restoring it to its magical historical charm, and decided to keep the original staircase..thingsthat7001. When finished,  their home was absolutely  breathtaking. Being the night-owl that Shep is, every evening, after his children and wife go to bed, he sits in his study and enjoys an hour of reading. (He is a connoisseur of many diverse books as he loves to learn.)   He tells me that many a time, when the house is still and quiet, he hears the footsteps of heavy boots walking up and down his staircase, creaks in the hardwood flooring upstairs and then begins to hear the men talking. He even knows their names.  They are soldiers who fought in the war. When they speak, they are often talking of the days events on the battle field. When I asked him if it scares him, he said “NO. They actually comfort me, I feel like they they are protecting our home.”

 

The Legend of The Grey man

graymanIn the mysterious , fascinating coast and inlets  of South Carolina, before a hurricane hits the shore,things that10003 the Grey man, (believed to be a  ghost,)  is often times seen on the picturesque shores…his presence is known as a warning to visitors and the residents to leave the island before it is to late. Sure enough, his appearance has saved many a lives. It is also noted that the people who encounter this spirit and heed his warning, are in complete awe as they return to their coastal  homes,  as they have not even been touched by the storm.  This particular “ghost story” is one that many people in the south will tell you is absolutely true and not a myth or fable.

The story of Alice flag and The Hermitage.

alice A tragic story of a refined young woman, who though forbidden by her brother and legal guardian, accepted the marriage proposal of a handsome, young lumber jack in town. She was sent away to a prestigious boarding school in Charleston, where she died suddenly of malaria. When her brother found the engagement ring,(secretly worn as a necklace,) on her body, he threw the ring into the marsh. “People say,” they see Alice, (even 150 years later) at the Hermitage and amongst the family graveyard, looking for her lost ring.  The Hermitage draws in many tourists and Alice still receives flowers and sentiments upon her grave site to this present day. Even now, people are still reporting her visits to this South Carolina Historical, haunted home.

California has a haunted hotel?

thingsthat80030You would never know it as you look at this beautiful, renowned historic hotel on the sandy beaches of San Diego, California, built in 1888, but it has now been officially declared ‘haunted.’ Chris Donovan, the hotels historian has written a book on the young ghost that frequents this grandiose estate by the sea. She was a young woman who checked into the hotel Del Coronado under an alias name, and took her life upon thingsthat80029the steps leading down to the ocean’s shore.  Her ghost has not only been seen but felt in many areas of the hotel, including the beach, her room and the boutiques within this luxury estate. Other guests who have stayed at the  renowned and prestigious, (supposedly haunted,) Del Coronado are Babe Ruth, Bette Davis, Kathryn Hepburn, Ronald Regan and George W. Bush.

 

                                 The “I can’t believe how cute my pet is,” hmm’s.

 

How many times do we catch our precious cargo’s in a Kodak moment?things that1029things that 1030

They are so endearing with their  hearts of ‘boundless love.’ dad56

They surprise us with their comical expressions as well as  their humble, quiet and inquisitive spirits.

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And the “things they get into” brings a smile to our hearts and we love them all the more. (If that is even possible.) 🙂 things that 1009

Love x 2 = ‘more Hmm’s. 🙂  dad50

I didn’t think a little domesticated lamb could get any cuter! (Her handmade sweater is definitely her color.) 🙂 thingsthat1012

 

Natures, “This is too beautiful for words,” reflection.

Arizona’s prize possession of the wondrous Grand Canyon. “Simply amazing.” thingsthat8019

The breathtaking  Marble Cathedral cave in Chile, nestled in the second largest fresh water lake in South America. It’s unique light show is caused by the reflection of the water on the marble walls.  thingsthat8011

The spectacular Aurora Borealis in Canada. This photo was taken at its peak,  when the sky was filled with opalescent sheets of dancing waves of light.  thingsthat8009

Jeita Grotto in Lebanon. “Beyond Implausible.” thingsthat8008

Ha Long Bay has now been accepted as one of the 7 new wonders of nature …They are celebrating in both Hanoi and Quang Ninh Providence for the beautiful phenomena they possess.  thingsthat8006

 

 Man made Wonders that blow our minds.

The gorgeous St. Basils Cathedral, built in 1555 in Moscow, Russia. This beautiful work of art symbolizes the growth of the city since the 14th century. (Reminds me of the magic castle at Disneyland.) thingsthat8005

 The renowned Mount Rushmore in America’s South Dakota…a monument carved in stone. (No matter how many times I see this, I am still speechless.) (My husband told me he bets that George Washington got tired of posing for this explicate work of art.) He’s a funny guy! 🙂 thingsthat8004

“Christ The redeemer in the Tijuca Forest National Park in Rio de Jeniero atop Corcovado Mountain. This cherished statue weighs 635 tons. WOW!thingsthat8001

The spell bounding  Petra. Located on the slopes of Mount Hor in the Arabah section of Jordan, it’s beauty and age is made mostly of red sandstone. Built in 106 AD it is known as “A rose red city half as old as time.” thingsthat8000

Located 1 mile from the shoreline of Portsmouth Harbor, UK, this ingenious , 134 year old Split-bank Fort has been transformed into a luxury Hotel. things that 1000

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 Undomesticated animals and the wild, our “Awestruck Hmm’s.”

What can compare to the majestic elephant and her baby? (The creation of the elephant itself makes me go hmm…everything about them just fascinates me.) 🙂 thingsthat1023

No, these are not created characters from a “Happy feet” movie sequel, they are the eccentric Adelie Penguins…A unique and stunning bird of the antarctic Ocean with a life span of 20 years. So stunning. thingsthat80024

Heart capturing Polar bears… If you are fortunate enough to live in Alaska, Canada, Russia, Greenland or Norway, then your chances of seeing them up close in the wild are much greater. They are beautifully amazing! thingsthat10078

This docile, charming creature and its baby, fills your heart with a hope, that there truly is innocence and enchantment abounding in our world. 🙂thingsthat8023

There is something so regal about the Lion… I could look at them all day long and never quite take in and absorb their stoic beauty and mysterious natures….(from a distance of course.) 🙂

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“Oh the things our children do” Hmm’s.

 

 

Who wants to be the first to take a bath?dad39

Have you two been brushing your teeth or getting ready to shave?dad34

I truly hope those are washable paints!oops1

The wondrous innocence of our kids…they really believe with boundless faith.oops2

Precious moments caught on camera… a toddlers first encounter with a giant sea turtle and a babies first dance moves…what can you say? You just smile and treasure the moment forever. 🙂

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 MIRACLES… The “Is this for real and if it is, WOW”  Hmm.

 

 The Parking Lot

A story shared on ainglkiss.com

I wanted to share my own personal testimony of a miracle God performed in my life a few years ago. I went to cash my check one afternoon. After returning to my car, I was putting my money away and preparing to pull out of the parking lot. A guy approached my car and knocked on my driver’s side window. Startled, I rolled my window down and asked what I could help him with. He asked me a question and pointed behind me. I turned my head to look behind me to see where he was pointing and when I turned my head back towards him there was a gun in my face. Before I could yell or even think, he pulled the trigger 3 times. Not one bullet left the chamber. The gun jammed. He ran off and I took the opportunity to run back in the building and alert the staff who of course called the police. Mind you, when I ran in the building I left all of my money on the front seat of the car, car running, and car door open. He could have at taken anything, more importantly he could have taken my life. There is no other explanation than the fact that God was with me. So anytime I question whether God loves me, or if He’s still with me, even when I’m selfish and disobedient, I think back to how He spared my life and more importantly gave His for little ole me. Thank you Jesus! ~ Taken from the website…. ainglkiss.com

 

 

A Double Revival

thingsthat6000On Christmas Eve, Tracy Hermanstorfer’s heart stopped beating while she was in labor with her third child, a baby boy she and her husband, Mike, had named Coltyn. Just after receiving an epidural for the pain, she lost consciousness and went into full cardiac arrest. Doctors attempted to revive her but couldn’t, and began an emergency C-section to save the baby. But Coltyn was born limp and seemingly lifeless.

“Half of my family was lying there right in front of me, dead,” Mike said at the time. “I lost all feeling.”

Then, to his astonishment, Tracy’s pulse returned, and moments later, Coltyn began to breathe. “I’m not big-time religious,” says Tracy, “but I know this was in God’s hands.” Within a few days, mother and son were sent home with a clean bill of health.

Hospital staff commented;“We did a thorough evaluation and can’t find anything that explains why this happened.”

Mike Hermanstorfer credits “the hand of God.”

 

 

  The Dog, The Chicken, and The Bomb

thingsthat6001When David Newkirk, now a youth pastor at Church of the Open Door in Glendora, California, woke up in the middle of the night, he was still exhausted from a college basketball victory the day before.

“Twenty minutes after my head hit the pillow, I was catapulted out of the deepest sleep,” he writes in the book. Along with his mother and sister, he was jerked awake to pray for his brother Dan.

Dan was in Israel. Running out of money, he had chosen to sleep on a park bench for the night. In the wee hours of the morning, a snarling dog woke him up, battling with a chicken under the bench.

Unable to break up the animals, Dan found another bench and resumed his rest. The next morning, a bomb exploded right next to the first bench, hurtling it through the air, leaving “a mess of tangled metal and concrete.”    WOW!

 

 

 Renowned Doctor comes back from the dead.

 ANS NEWS STORY , Reported by Dan Wooding

things that 10009 Dr. Sean Thomas George, an Indian born doctor who is now a consultant physician in a West Australian hospital, told his extraordinary story before more than 220 Christian medics on the first day of the 8th Annual International Christian Medical Conference called “Spirituality and Medicine” that was held June 11-12, 2011 in Brisbane, Australia and organized by the World Christian Doctors Network.

“I was dead for 1 hour and 25 minutes, but came back to life after my wife prayed a simple prayer,” said Dr. George, who provided all kinds of medical data that he put on a large screen for the other doctors to check out.

He said that on October 24, 2008, he returned from the dead to amaze colleagues who had battled for almost 55 minutes to revive his lifeless heart.

Later in the article  it was noted,  that Dr. George spoke regarding his wife,

“Holding my hand, she prayed, ‘Lord Jesus, he is only 39, I am only 38 and we have a ten year boy. I need a miracle.’

“As soon as she said this it was as though someone had breathed life into me again and my heartbeat came back.”

The Lost Wedding Ring.

OK, I know this is not a headline breaker or a story that would ever be on the 5:O’clock news, but it was a MIRACLE to me. 🙂  (And before I experienced this miracle and had shared with others my loss, I was surprised to hear so many “miraculous” accounts of their lost wedding rings being found against all odds.) 🙂

thingsthat80039Never being a jewelry box kind of girl, I took my rings off when I would get ready for bed. I always put them in Kits bathroom drawer, (as ladies you’ll understand this,) my drawer had so much “stuff” in it, my rings could easily get lost.  One morning, when I went to put my rings on, I noticed my wedding ring was not in the drawer… I was a little jolted, but felt assured, it was somewhere in the house…thus for the next week,  and ample uncounted hours, I tore  our house a part to find it. My frustration and sadness grew daily as truly, there was no place left to look within our home, the vacuum cleaner, trashes, car etc…    I asked many people  to pray for me and received  a medley of helpful thoughts on where it could be. After about a month, exceedingly disheartened, as my wedding ring was hand designed by Kit and a jeweler with his family’s precious gems, I  felt I would never see my wedding ring again… Every time I thought about it or looked at my ring finger, it just broke my heart. I prayed so many times it would just show up, but it didn’t…

I remember a friend of mine saying, “Susan, I bet it will show up one day in place that you have already looked..” The thought comforted me as I truly do believe in miracles.

Months later, while preparing for a birthday dinner my husband was cooking in my honor, I went to our dining room hutch to get my beloved (inherited from my mom,) wisteria crystal sugar and creamer. As I took the sugar bowl from the shelf, there in the bottom of the crystal bowl was my wedding ring. I was absolutely ecstatic and began yelling out to Kit “Oh my gosh…you’ll never believe it, I found my ring.” (He too had given up hope.)  OK, the answer to the question you’re thinking? Yes, I had looked in the sugar and creamer months before ...and no it was not there. I truly believe it was a birthday gift from the Lord and that He gave me back my wedding ring.I never take it off anymore, not even when I sleep. 🙂

 I asked a few  friends te share five things that  personally makes them go “Hmm?”

Bob, A Delawarean ,(No picture please.)

1.People who wear their pajamas to shop at wall-mart. 2. People who show up at your home, unannounced, morning, noon and night, 3. O.J. Simpson, (everything about him.) 4.Randy Jackson on American Idol. Why did he say the same thing over an over for 9 years?  “YOUR IN IT TO WIN IT.”   5. Why  cat owners in my neighborhood allow their cats to roam free and pee on my porch rugs all the time.

dad206Patrick, Dana Point  California

1.  Flying squirrels   2. Oxymoron’s (actually, any moron)   3. Paradigm shifts   4. Patterns in nature – like a spider’s web,  the human brain,  or  a black hole.     5. Technology

 

neillNeill, Belfonte Pennsylvania

1. The phrase; ” This is gonna hurt me more than it will hurt you.”    2. Spiritual, but not religious (SBNR)   3. It’s absolutely free, no obligation…for the first x months, year, etc.    4. Wars on Terror (WOT?!)–everybody’s got one.    5. Processed cheese food substitute (even if edible, why would you want to?)

graham102Sir Grantham, Delaware

1. How come mom and dad get to go “potty” inside and I have to go outdoors? 2. Why do the adorable little kitties always run away from me, I just want to play? 3. Why do mom and dad sing Happy birthday all day, then make me a yummy steak, (with a big bone) and then, it takes sooooooooo long until they do it again? Every day,  I keep waiting for them to say the word “Birthday” again  4. Why doesn’t everyone love my big kisses? 5. Why does that man in the big brown truck come over to our house and bring great big boxes? (He makes me bark so hard, I almost loose my voice.)

 

formal6Susan, Delaware

1.God has no beginning and no end.(I get into real trouble if I ponder that to long.) 🙂 2. Strangers who drive by your house very slowly, turn around and do it again, and then do it again.  3.To God, a thousand YEARS is as a day, and a day, a thousand years. (Baffles my mind.) 4. Rainbows! 5. That a woman can actually carry 6 babies in her womb at one time, bring them to  full term, with all of them born healthy…(I guess that is really two Hmm’s .) 🙂

I hope you have enjoyed this vignette and that you have at least once, shaken your head and said “HMM” 🙂 In closing I will ask you the same question I asked my friends and myself, “Can you think of at least 5 things lately that have made you go hmm?”

PHOTOGRAPHS: In placing your computer mouse upon any of the photos or graphics, it will display where the picture originated from.