I just got the most wonderful thing in the mail from some very adorable children and their very excellent teacher! I couldn’t wait to show you!  MUSICA . It’s all about Remembrance Day, which I wrote about last week …. my mail is proof that you just never know who might be checking in!  ❤️❤️❤️ Look at this! ⬇️

I knew it would be special when I saw the envelope! Look at the return address! “Mrs. O’Brien’s 4th Grade Class,” all the way on the other side of the country, from Wolf Creek Oregon, and I couldn’t wait to open it. But I knew I should be careful!

I turned it over, and saw this. Poppies! Someone made me something wonderful. It wasn’t even light yet when I was opening this, I was still in my jammies, and it was like Christmas!

The note from Mrs. O’Brien was wonderful and explained everything … it’s from Kari, one of our Girlfriends!

She and her students had read the Remembrance post, and then they all wrote me illustrated letters and put them in a book! Kari said most of the kids live in “deep canyons and forests of Southern Oregon” (doesn’t it sound magical?) and they go to Sunny Wolf School where Mrs. O’Brien teaches. I thought I would just photograph the whole book to share with you. 💞

I have to tell you, I cried all the way through this book, it is so beautiful.💞

The children are so talented!!!

That book was like a bouquet of letters!

I wonder if they know how creative they are? Oh yes!

I hope they are always brave and paint and color and draw and write about the things they love.

Because when they share their hearts through their hard work, they make a big difference in the world.

And they tell stories . . . their own stories, and other people’s stories . . .

And they keep important memories alive for everyone!

They are lucky to have a teacher like Mrs. O’Brien… I remember my 4th grade teacher, he had a funny name, Mr. Fishbacher, but I loved him.  He taught me a lot. He liked my handwriting too! More MUSICA? (This song was written in 1917! About WWI, the war that brought us Armistice Day.)

This was my handwriting when I was in Mr. Fishbacher’s class!  Looks a lot like Mrs. O’Brien’s kids!

And I loved to draw flowers in my class too!

Wonderful teachers are never forgotten, especially ones that talk about poppies and Armistice day and make books and teach about our beautiful world . . . the kids are reading a book called A Year Down Yonder by Richard Peck ~ Mrs. O’Brien says it’s “fun, funny, true-to-history and set in 1937!” Lucky Kids! So good to read interesting books in a group and talk about it and hear what everyone thinks!

Students are no good without a teacher, and a teacher is no good without her students! 

I think they all have beautiful handwriting . . . see how it’s different for everyone? As many different noses as there are in the world, that’s how many different kinds of handwriting there are. Forming letters is just like drawing a flower. 🌺 You can make them all different ways! You can look at the way someone else makes their letters, and copy them! It’s fun!

And no one draws the poppy flowers quite the same. Which makes each of these kids a 100% original person who can hear the very same story, then tell what they learned, each in a very different 100% original way. 🌺

I bet they went home and told their families about Armistice Day!

As the poppies in this picture got further away, they got smaller, and lighter and some became hearts. Good job!

They learned that “people fight for freedom in the war” . . . and that’s why we remember them and are grateful to them forever . . . and one way we show our gratitude and honor the people who died is working hard to make sure war never happens again.💖

B  L E  S  S  I  N  G  S

They learned that they like “peace instead of war “. . . because then everyone stays alive and at home, painting pictures, planting gardens, making cookies, and planning secret presents for the people they love . . .

for their moms or dads or brothers or sisters or grandmas, for their best friends . . . or even for their teachers!

Learning about Armistice Day (which we call Veteran’s Day now) is important, because if we know about our history, then we know better about what to do in the future to make a better world.

And tomorrow is the day . . . The 11th month, the 11th day, the 11th hour, and 2017 is the 100 year anniversary of when America went to war in Europe.🇺🇸 We will be quiet and say a prayer for the souls that gave so much, in America, England, and Canada, and all over the world. And in my prayer, I will add blessings for the good kids at Sunny Wolf School. 💖

You made my day!And look, one more thing so I will never forget . . .

They made me a great big poppy!!!  I ‘m wearing it right now! I love it! And when anyone asks me where I got it, I will say, from the 4th grade class at Sunny Wolf School!

If you kids are reading this, I just want to tell you what a nice thing you did!  I think you are very special, creative, smart little people. Don’t grow up too fast! You’re in charge of that! Go nice and slow . . .

And thank you for helping me and everyone on my blog “Remember.”

Blessings on you all, Thank you Mrs. O’Brien and all your lovely students, be good to each other. XOXO

Posted in Blog | Tagged , , , , , , , | 448 Comments

It’s November!

I used to lie on my bed as a child and ponder the world . . . I wished I had a very long crayon so I could draw on the ceiling, add eyes and a fluffy tail to the crack up there, and make it into a REAL rabbit. Now I wake up pondering and start making lists in my head! November is a huge list month, and I couldn’t get through a day without one. What with Thanksgiving and the looming Christmas season, I have LOTS of things to remember. 🤔 (And P.S. They don’t make MUSICA like they used to ~ love this clarinet!)

The moon woke me up last night . . . knocked on the window and came through the curtains and directly through my extremely thin eyelids (at least they seem that way to me, since I was little, one speck of light wakes me up!).

So up I got to write you ~ and here’s the moon-view from a downstairs window. The aptly named, “Frost” moon ~ I went outside to take pictures and got my first real feel of winter! Brrr! And tonight we turn our clocks back! It’s that time of year….Days get shorter, but mornings are longer!

We had a wonderful Halloween.🎃 Simple, old-fashioned and shared with the people we love.

Jack enjoyed watching Joe bring out the decorations . . . 👻

Joe loves it as much as I do . . . we always decorate the front hall . . .

Because that’s where the kids come . . . the door to the street is right behind me . . . We don’t want to scare them, we want to delight them. 🎃

And after the trick-or-treating is over, our friends pop by for a drink or cup of hot spiced cider and a fall dinner . . . so I have fun cooking and decorating . . .

Our street is wildness on Halloween, windy and leaf blowy. 🍂🎃🍂 We think we had over a thousand kids this year . . .

Too jostled out there to keep the camera focused!

I always escape to take pictures. . . we have friends who live out in the country who come to our house just to give candy to the children! We share the wealth! With so many kids, it takes a village! Where’s Jack? While the front door was open, he was upstairs in his bed (our bed), quiet and cozy and safe, but after everyone left, he joined the party! 😻

By 7:30 it was all over . . . we go in and get cozy in front of the fire and munch on the corns . . .  candy corn, popcorn and kettle corn.

Table is set, the candles are lit . . .

I layered while Joe sliced for Scalloped Potatoes with Sausages ~ we made three pans of these ~ it was dinner for 30, tummy warmingest, most creamy (but made with milk and no cheese), wonderful scalloped potatoes, my mom’s recipe, simply perfect, probably came from the way back machine, she’s made them for as long as I can remember. If you’d like to try them, they’re on page 97 of Vineyard Seasons. Everyone loved them.

We had a big salad to go with it . . . spinach, spiced pecans, red onion, chopped apples and my favorite holiday saladPomegranate seeds! Put them on your list! They’re better than croutons!

I also made this scary layered Pumpkin-Chocolate Trifle . . . well, like a trifle, but no alcohol, no preserves, no custard … it’s broken up chocolate cake, crushed Oreo cookies, whipped cream, and pumpkin mousse ~ it was DELICIOUS! I saw a photo of it on Twitter, thought it was so cute with the hershey’s syrup spider web (the plastic spider goes on top) ~ the perfect thing for a party, I went looking for the recipe ~ in case you want to try it next year . . . go HERE . . .

I also made my grandma’s Molasses Cookies . . . I think I put that recipe in our last WILLARD (there’s a link for it at the bottom of this page.) 🍂

And there they are, frosted and ready to go. I borrowed one of my new Home Cooking tea plates from the WINNER of our newest drawing and filled it with cookies for our guests.  Oh, yeah. Don’t worry, it’s all washed and clean and back with the others, waiting for Vanna to hand me the winning name. 😘 Shall we? You’ve been so patient and she’s right here . . . . . . already kicking off her trademark pink-satin slippers with polka-dot bows! There she goes, she’s UP, her French-manicured polished toes are curled over the edge of my art table (wearing a sleek gold lame body suit and a pink bathing cap with rubber flowers). With the unique and quirky but delightful Vanna around, you can   And now, her very deep, very graceful dive into the vat of almost 3,000 names! 🤗 Down she goes . . . Vanna’s a swirling-whirling dervish of a girl, scissor-kicking her way to the bottom, side-stroking round and round at top speed, circling the vat, not unlike a very large goldfish, mixing the names ~ my studio has teeny slips of paper with names flying around like confetti …. but I only need one! Out pops a long golden arm, one slip of paper in a hand with a thin jeweled ring on every finger . . . I take what she gives me. A big smile comes over my face . . . Vanna waves goodbye . . .

In tiny letters, I see the name of the winner … so here we go … I hope it’s you! The winner is …. N A N C Y   E L L I O T and her daughter A B B Y! Congratulations you two! This entire set of dishes now belongs to YOU! ❤️It’s the little things that mean the most. And the reason I smiled? Vanna didn’t give me one name, she gave me THREE . . . so I thought, maybe we should add on two more giveaways! . . . Because it’s November ~ and in honor of Winston Churchill who said,

Let’s “make a life” and give this now out-of-stock, impossible-to-get Santa Mug to the second name ~ which turns out to be a Girlfriend from the Netherlands 🇳🇱 ~ IRENE PIETERS! Yay! Sinterklaas! You’ll have him before December 5th!

And for our last name? A little gift package that includes my new 2018 wall calendar AND . . .

. . . the 10th Anniversary edition of Autumn from the Heart of the Home! 💋Both the book and the calendar will be signed and sent to . . . CONNIE HOWARD! And KAREN and JULIA too . . .  (because Connie’s household includes a Nana, a Daughter, and a Granddaughter ❤️) ~ perfect! Happy Fall Y’all! 🍂 I’ll write all three of our winners an email and let them know they won and get their addresses so we can send everything asap, 💞 all tied up with heartstrings!

And for the rest of us . . . still many lovely things, plenty of reasons to go on . . . and a little reminder …

Ahhhh, November . . . Mas MUSICA?

Let’s have a little bit of nature to sooth our ravaged souls . . . This is the dirt road in the woods we walk everyday, and to us, it’s a little bit of heaven. 🍁 It won’t be long now and all those leaves will be on the ground. Below is a photo of where we were this time last year . . . taking photos in a field next to the “car park” (that’s British for “parking lot”) for Hidcote Manor Garden in England, a stunning place if you are ever in the neighborhood!

And here’s Joe, happy out at the water at the end of our walk where it smells so good, and the colors are more subtle …

So you can see we have everything we need around here to be inspired . . .

The sun shines through the leaves and makes them glow . . .

It was freezing outside this morning at daybreak . . . I hurried!

I found this on the Internet . . . if you think we’re Fall-Crazy, this display is in Slindon, England . . . where they make an art of it! Isn’t it creative? They had others … so perfectly English!

And this is where I go to get my inspiration for home this time of year 🍂. . . because when I wrote this Autumn book, I put in every single detail I could think of about fall, so now, very conveniently, it’s all written down … my biggest list ever . . . and all in one place!  All I have to do when the season comes is pull it out and I’m reminded of how I decorate the guest rooms, what fun things I love to do in “sweater weather,” how to make autumn cocktails, all about cozy lighting and hygge collections, how to give a good party, and all my best recipes for everything.🍂 Very handy!

I’ve already been cooking up a storm . . .

YUM! Right? It makes your house warm and smell so good.  The meat is pure tenderness . . . What else is in it? Good flavorful things, it’s not your run of the mill stew ~ there are parsnips and sweet potatoes, orange zest and orange juice, nutmeg and raisins and cayenne too ~ a bottle of red wine makes a wonderful gravy, and the whole thing is served over wide egg noodles. Or by itself, with a slice of soft buttered bread. It’s on page 111 of my new 30th Anniversary edition of Heart of the Home, and it makes Joe very happy!

And I’ve already made this oldie but goodie ~ it’s that time of year . . . requested by Joe, from my Christmas book!

It’s Bread Pudding with apples and fresh cranberries and egg custard . . . and tons of cinnamon and nutmeg . . . filled with texture, both smooth and pudding-like, but crisp and crunchy on the edges, then served with the coup de gras  . . .

Yes, Love is the best ingredient of all, but also, this has the most delicious Whiskey Sauce to go with it.  The recipe’s on page 98 of my Christmas book, or you can click HERE and print it out.

Me neither, Julia. Just like you, I love to cook! Joe went to get the paper, stopped on the way home and surprised me with a bag of cider donuts . . . I put them in the microwave for about 25 seconds and heated up some left-over spiced cider . . . 

And then out to the yard we went . . .  we want the house to be festive next spring when everyone needs flowers and color so much . . . so out in the windy, sunny, chilly day we planted new parrot tulips to go with what’s already in the ground . . . 🌷Every year we add a few new ones . . . 

Okay Girlfriends, off I go! Thank you so much for all your WONDERFUL comments . . . you truly are the very BEST!!  And just in cases someone didn’t get their WILLARD, here’s a LINK to it. If you’d like to sign yourself or your friends or your mom up for the next one, go HERE.

And don’t forget Poppy Day 🌺, and the quiet moment of silent remembrance and gratitude for our Vets,  at 11 am, the 11th day, the 11th month . . . Pray, Love, Remember. Enjoy the little things of the season for yourself and the ones you love, slow down, don’t move too fast, ya got to make the moment last . . . 🌺 Don’t forget your list! Later tater, XOXO

Posted in Blog | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 429 Comments