" . . . for all the beauty you add to the world, and to my life especially . . . "
I can't imagine a better way to describe Carrie's gift to me than the sentiment she included (above) in the gorgeous card she created. Just look at the way she has packaged these treasures! The attention to detail and the intricate laces are pure delight.
A few weeks ago I was painting roses and there was a photograph of the vase Nancy gave me in one of the pictures. Carrie mentioned that she had the tray to match it. It never occurred to me that she would pack it up and send it! She included a card, an embroidered linen doily, a crabapple candle that smells good enough to eat, and a candle holder adorned with stars and berries!
Mycenea brought me a gorgeous bouquet of roses!
"Orange roses - a literal mixture of yellow and red, orange roses were seen as a bridge between friendship symbolized by yellow roses and love represented by red roses. They can be an expression of fascination, or a gift to say 'I'm proud of you." Aw! Hope so!
Mycenea, Nancy and I met for dinner at Rockbass and shared appetizers and desserts as well as lively conversation. The food and view were divine. It's one of my favorite restaurants in Harrisburg.
The Millennium Music Conference featured almost 400 artists and bands through the Harrisburg area. Mycenea's band, Pleiades, with Ross Kennedy and Chuck Kembring, was featured at 10:00 p.m. at the Coliseum on my birthday! A once in a lifetime gift and a memories I cherish!
Our trip was overflowing with fun that ended much too soon! Thank you to Nancy for planning weeks ahead to ensure that my birthday would be filled with memorable moments!
The festivities continues when I returned home! Mycala took me to the Melting Pot for a full course fondue experience! We had cheddar cheese fondue with veggies, breads and applies followed by the house garden salad. Next came surf and turf with a variety of vegetables and six sauces. The meal ended with Pure Chocolate fondue with cookies, cakes, marshmallows, strawberries, pineapple and bananas. Bliss!
This morning I journaled on my new couch, enjoying my roses! One of the best parts about going away is coming home!
The Queen of Flowers - the Rose
Over the next few days, in celebration of Valentine's Day, I'll be revisiting some of the herbs associated with love and romance.. When it comes to matters of the heart, there are no limits to the human imagination in pursuing, wooing and attempting to ensure their love will be returned. Some of the uses are romantic and beautiful, elegant and sublime. Some are tender and heart warming. Others border on lunacy!
Herbs can add a sensuous dimension to all aspect of life. Their beauty, aroma, flavors and touch delight. Some are showy and enticing with an distinctive and noticeable fragrance. Others you might walk by, or even step on, and not even notice! Often the greatest gifts are found in herbs you might not immediately notice. Hopefully these little snippets will entice you to learn more about the endless history and legacy of these treasures.
Our 'Romancing Herb" series begins with the Rose, the Queen of Flowers and the undisputed floral symbol of love. The Society of American Florists predicts that nearly 198 million roses will be sold for Valentine’s Day. There is so much information about roses that one could write a book about their origin, symbolism, legend and lore. So I did! Ode to a Rose is my tribute to this glorious flower.
The rose is a perfect example of beauty, romance and sensuous living. She is a vision of delight, her petals are velvet, her fragrance is divine and her delicate flavor is sublime. For Valentine's Day, i wish you all the gifts the rose offers - love, friendship, beauty, romance and sensuous pleasures. Happy Valentine's Day!
Recently we attend the phenomenal light show at Longwood Gardens. We arrived early and set up our chairs in the front row, very close to the center, so this display is very similar to the one was viewed. i was much too captivated with the experience to record the show so was delighted that this 'sneak peak' was so similar. The background music for the evening we attended was jazz, and if you follow my blog, you'll know I was delighted! This will give you an idea of the spectacular event, and hopefully it will inspire you to check the Longwood Garden site to check their schedule, purchase tickets and attend!
While we were at Longwood Gardens, I heard it referred to as "America's Versailles". I disagree. The variety of plants, artistry of presentation, reverence and dedication to nature and seasonal displays make Longwood far superior. The Versailles gardens were such a disappointment, but isn't it delightful to know we can save the airfare to France and have a much more delightful experience here? For those who are more interested in the history, architecture and furnishings at Versailles, it's worth the trip, but if you are going for the gardens, you may want to reconsider and head to Kennett Square, PA.
We passed this sleepy tree on the way in, already yawning by late afternoon. He probably didn't stay awake for the light show, but he's undoubtedly seen it many times!
We had a leisurely dinner at 1906 while we waited for dusk. Everything there is a step above what is expected. This is their shrimp appetizer - jumbo shrimp served on a square of tomato aspic with sorrel and touch of horseradish. Not only delicious but a work of art!
Although I've been to Longwood Gardens many times over the years and experienced each of the five seasons - spring, summer, fall, holiday and winter - at least once, this was my first after dark experience light display. I'm adding it to my collecting firsts!
Lavender wands are easy to make and a Facebook friend just old me she has had one for
40 years and it still holds its fragrance!
Begin the wands immediately after the stems are cut so they will be flexible when you bend them.
You will need 15 stalks of lavender, ribbon (buy good quality satin - I used about 3 yards of 3/16 inches wide, but amounts will vary depending on the length of the lavender stalks.
Wrap the ribbon diagonally down the stem, secure at the base of the stem with a couple of knots, then cut the ribbon.
My last post, "Before you notice, you will have settled", raised questions on one level and resonated on another. Cabrera mentions Tuesday evenings at the library, and ironically, Mycala and I have been going to the library on Tuesdays. Last evening Zippy joined us and then we enjoyed gazpacho with guacamole at an outdoor cafe. New dish, favorite restaurant. If we are truly grateful for our experiences, that seems to the antithesis of settling, even if they are routine! On the other hand, I'm the first to admit at times I settle. And yes, as rich and full as my life is, it could be much more vibrant if I would move from automatic pilot to a greater awareness and appreciation of the present moment.
Habits create a valuable structure for accomplishing more in less time. My mornings are spent journaling, meditating, and creating a to do list highlighting the three most important things to accomplish based on my values. Creativity is a value I actively weave into projects, problem solving and time with family and friends. The last habitual morning task is walking Zippy. If I took time to decide daily if I really wanted to do those things, it would take much more time and effort than moving quickly through the steps on automatic pilot!
Yet Isabella Cabrera raises an excellent point - could there be more? Are there areas where we are settling? Could we be happier? Undoubtedly.
When I was in junior high a girl in the class ahead of me won an essay contest with a composition called Variety is the Spice of Life. I never read the actual paper but the title, which I had heard before (in William Cowper's quote, "Variety is the spice of life, that gives it all it's flavor") captured my attention in a new way!
Years later I was reminded of the essay during a speech about making memorable moments by using a variety of senses. The speaker shared stories about surprising loved ones with creative gift giving from small tokens to grand gestures, all based on incorporating imagination and variety.
In both approaches, creativity is the key. Erin, from the award winning blog Daisies and Bruises, credits SARK for the quote "The opposite of depression is expression." That may seem simplistic, and there have been times I've been depressed in the midst of expressing, but ultimately we are all here to share our gifts. There is satisfaction and value when we are expressing our life's purpose; as close as we'll get to Dharma.
Day to day, there are questions we can ask that can lead us away from settling. These are some of mine, framed around my values, and hopefully they will inspire you to consider your own.
1. Are there ways to enhance the way I exercise? Ballet or belly dancing instead of calisthenics? Finding new places to walk Zippy?
2. Can nutrition be more interesting? Could I create a stained glass mandala fruit salad or a vegetable pin wheel? Make my own vinaigrettes and marinades to have on hand to give my daily intake of raw fruits and vegetables more vibrance and flavor without the artificial colors, syrups, sugars and preservatives in commercial brands?
3.Relationships. Am I surrounding myself with caring, positive, compassionate people who share my values? Do they have warmth and empathy for people from all cultures, education and socio-economic backgrounds Do they solve problems instead of blaming people? Are they joyful and do we laugh together often? Do they share some of my interests in art, music, travel, education, nature, sports? Are we open to learning from each other? Do the people in my life understand that thoughts become things and give their attention to assets rather than deficits? Compassion instead judgement? One of the best gauges for relationships it our energy level. If your energy is depleted, ask why.
4. Creativity - Do I weave creativity in all aspects of my daily life from how i garnish a plate, wrap a present, arrange an herbal bouquet, write a blog or sympathy card or solve a problem? Am I actively seeking ways inspiration? Making artist's dates to refill the well?
5. Learning/Education - Am I always taking at least one on line course? Do I have an ongoing list of topics that truly excite me that I'd like to take or research to teach? Do I keep pen and paper with me to capture ideas and inspiration that will slip away if not captured? Do I do further research on things that interest me? Am I capturing ideas in my illustrated journals?
6. Beauty/Order - We have long known that beauty soothes the soul, through nature, music, art, architecture, for example.Thomas Moore's book Care of the Soul is an eloquent testimonial. Clutter, lack of order, and tarnish can detract. Hoarding represents a lack of faith. Do I have enough space around things I love to highlight them? Do I see cleaning and polishing a gift?
Asking questions can lead us in the right direction. There are so many ways to add gratitude, variety and memorable moments as antidotes to settling.
We spent yesterday in the exquisite Walter's Art Museum in Mount Vernon, Baltimore, MD. It was originally a private collection of William Thompson Walters, born May 23, 1819, from Liverpool, PA. Walters moved to Baltimore at the age of 21, made his fortune and married Ellen when he was 26. He and his wife had 3 children but one died in childhood. Henry, born in 1848, and Jennie in 1853, survived. Walter began collecting art with his wife in the summer of 1861 in Paris, then traveled through out France, to Italy Switzerland and England. Ellen died of pneumonia when she was forty years old in 1862 and William continued collecting with even more intensity to attempt to dissuade his grief. After the war, in 1865 he and his children returned to Baltimore. His son eventually became involved in his father's art collection and carried on after his death.
Their collection of 22,000 works of art from 55 centuries of art formed the basis of the collection and today the collection contains over 35,000 works of art including an expansive Egyptian collection, china, Faberge eggs, illuminated journals, French Impressionist paintings, bronze statues and so much more!
Insights From a Child
Their are endless opportunities to learn and enjoy for all ages as evidenced by this young person's observation in a "What have you discovered?" journal encouraging comments.
"My mission is
to help others see and cherish the beauty,
romance and treasures within and around them
that are often dismissed or completely overlooked."
Mikell is a writer, artist and professional treasure hunter, finding the greatest treasures in the wonderful people who enter her life!