30 October 2014

Bits and Pieces

Just a few bits and pieces; glimpses of some delightful things in my life lately. Sometimes we move so fast through our days we don't stop to appreciate the people, the places, and the things that bring special glimmers of happiness and joy in an ordinary day. I am so deeply thankful for these things. God has blessed me more than I deserve.

I think there are foretastes, glimpses, and moments of heaven we get to experience here on earth, and if we are attentive enough we will notice. Whether we are spending time with some dear people in our lives or having some inspirational quiet time, the glimpses are sometimes subtle and gentle. Something that tugs at the heart with yearnings unexplained. Something that leaves a reminder note on your soul when the moment gives way to time passing.

29 October 2014

Journal Always

O! How I do love to start at the beginning of a new journal!

Beware reader! The beginning of a new journal means more blank pages to fill with words that jostle around the well of endless thoughts that fill my mind and imagination. Give it space to stew and something will be kindled. Give me time to muse and all sorts of stories could be created. If only I knew how to convey all my passing thoughts to the pages in this journal.

I fill up a journal about every month (depending on how big the journal and number of pages) but in general, I am always on the lookout for a new journal that inspires me to observe, think, create, and write. I like simple leather and antique details. When all else fails I turn to the classic black Moleskine journal, which is one of my favourites. It is a very high quality journal and the lines are perfectly spaced for my kind of handwriting. I don't even look at journals that have very widely spaced lines. For some reason, I'd rather have my lines of script packed more tightly than spread out wide over the page. Even if I occasionally get a journal with blank pages (no lines), I still write close together.

With each new journal, though, there is room for many adventures. That is inspiring to me.
The end of an old journal is not an end, but a beginning.

28 October 2014

Did I Forget To Mention Books?

You know I cannot go to a city and not scope out the used bookstores. It is a must-do for me. I can be in the most strange city, but the moment I enter a used bookstore I feel at home, among the books.
This lovely little basement bookstore in Savannah is The Book Lady Bookstore.

The store was greatly overstocked, so there were stacks of books everywhere and I had to manouver over several stacks in the back room where I found an old Elizabeth Goudge book for $2. I could have spent hours there looking more closely at the stacks everywhere, but in the time we were there I did manage to find two books, The Rosemary Tree by Elizabeth Goudge, published in 1956, and a nice hardback Oxford English Dictionary that is more expansive than the little mini one I have for my everyday bag. This one was published at the Oxford University Press in 1960.

In case you are wondering, yes, I do enjoy reading through the dictionary. That evening, I sat at the dining room table as Jen was preparing dinner and I read difficult words from the dictionary to her, and she had to guess the meaning of the words. A few times she came shockingly close to the real meaning! And when Jake called her to say he was on his way home, he asked what we were up to, and Jen said she was cooking dinner and that I was reading the dictionary. She paused and then replied to Jake saying "I promise, she is actually sitting at the table reading a dictionary!" Yes, I am that one who loves words that much.

27 October 2014

Rest, Read, and Drink Tea

Here is my usual agenda for the weekends:
Drink Tea

That simple agenda is not always what occurs, but that is the goal I set out to follow. Many other things come into play such as plans with family or friends, chores, errands, etc.

But here goes my attempt each weekend. And there goes my attempt.

Do you remember, not too long ago, when you had so much time on your hands you tried different hobbies and things just because you could? Is that just a phase in life that passes by? Is it determined that once you know what you are passionate about and enjoy doing, life takes off and laughs at you as you try to squeeze in the time to do those things?

Maybe that is the transition we go through in our twenties. The eclipse of our time. From much to little. From play to work. From frivolous to serious.

It's the paradox of finally understanding who you are and what you really care about. Once you know, the time flies by and then your twenties are over. If only I knew what I know when I was twenty-two. I would appreciate the little things so much more than I ever did.

Is it possible to over-appreciate something? Because if it is, I might be guilty of over-appreciating such little joys that come my way.

24 October 2014

The Paris Market - Savannah

I have been to Savannah at least ten different times over the years, and I want to know how I had never been in The Paris Market before. It is such a beautiful store. All kinds of pretty things that I love.

Well, my wise and knowledgeable friend Jen is always looking out for me, and she said we must go here. So, we went.

I wanted so many things in the store. It's all classy, simple, vintage, and pretty. I settled on a beautiful grey mug and a soft tea towel. Oh, and a lavender latte at the cafe upstairs. But it is downstairs that holds all the treasures for the home. I just cannot afford any of them, except the two little items I indulged on.

So don't be like me, who passed The Paris Market every year and never went inside to check it out. Go inside! Explore and find some inspiration for whatever decoration you might be looking for. Or, just go into the cafe and get a coffee and a macaron or a lavender cookie (I was so tempted to get those).

23 October 2014

Collins Quarter - Savannah

One of my favourite spots visited in Savannah was this new cafe, Collins Quarter. (I hadn't realized that my boss opened a coffee shop here (haha) but they accidentally placed an extra "L" in his name.) The Collins Quarter is in my favourite historic area of town and the cafe is classy and beautiful.  It even has an outdoor walk-up-window for those business people who want a really good cup of coffee but don't have time to sit in the cafe. 

We started our day here and had some breakfast. I had a delicious flat white and a yogurt parfait with homemade granola and fresh fruit. Jen, being the creative mom that she is, created a little picture scavenger hunt for Liliana so she would have things to look for while were were out and about that day. Baby Ivy was very entertained sitting in her chair gazing at herself in the perfectly placed mirror next to her. That kept her pretty entertained.

I found myself craving the coffee from Collins Quarter each day after our visit here. It was a place that I would frequent if I lived in Savannah. We went on a weekday so it was
n't super busy in the morning. The girls did really well, and Jen and I were able to take our time and enjoy the atmosphere and some good talks.
From here, we went off to several more fun places like bookstores and shops.

22 October 2014

Lord, Help My Unbelief

Lord, help my unbelief meld into the inklings of knowing that I have
of Your marvelous power and love. Such boldness You can display
in moving a mountain if you want to, and yet at the same time show me
the gentleness of love that soothes my weary soul on a day when I feel dry as the desert.
You take me in Your arms to comfort and remind me that I am never alone.
Whatever troubles me is of concern to You, which is a tiny thing compared
to You, and it shall pass. But You will not. 

Let the little cares fall to the ground where I will next step over.
Dwell here, Lord, in my heart's centre and by my side.

21 October 2014

Historic Savannah

Savannah holds a charm for me because it has an old soul and many stories to tell. There is history around each corner. When I look at Savannah I see a tinted hue of Autumn softly painted. The colours of the city are brick, with touches of browns and creams, and speckled with coloured buildings.

The dappled morning light of these Autumn days was my favourite part of the day.The chilly air that can allow for a light scarf and some boots. As you drive through the historic neighborhoods, you cannot miss the squares because you have to drive around them, and walking through them is peaceful in the midst of a touristy city. The squares are resting places for tall, giant trees with hanging moss and ample shade.

Here, in this place, there are signs of Autumn. Leaves fallen, a few trees in the midst of changing colours, the clear sky and chilly breezes. And the parks are full of statues and fountains that represent various people or things. The famous Forsyth fountain is from 1858. Stories, stories, and more stories around this little historic place.

20 October 2014

The Sentient Bean - Savannah

I have been enjoying the combination of lovely weather in Savannah for the past four days and also visiting my dear friend, Jen (plus her hubby Jake and two beautiful little girls). They were all kind enough to indulge in some Savannah adventures with me!

Each time I go to Savannah I find more charm in its historic neighborhoods and several new places (new to me) that are simply delightful. I always knew the shaded squares of the historic area held much charm for me, but discovering coffee shops is so much fun as well. This city is very artsy and full of hipsters, so finding coffee shops is not difficult, which pleases me to no end.

The best thing about travelling is being so inspired by the adventures, that I have so much to write about and share, but the worst part is not having time to write about it! I have catching up to do.

On this particular morning, it was a time in which Jen and I got a little bit of one-on-one time to talk about our lives in more depth while Jake took the girls in the running stroller and ran around Forsyth Park many times. The Sentient Bean is on the south end of Forsyth Park, which is a very large and popular park in the historic district. The coffee shop is a local spot near the farmer's market and a health food store which was buzzing on this morning. Eventually, the girls re-joined us and we walked through Forsyth Park. I was so thankful for some time to talk about life over a soy cappuccino and flavoured milk steamer with Jen.

Note: Most of these photos were taken or inspired by Jen.
Note #2: Baby Ivy wants to know why the coffee is gone. Refill please!

15 October 2014

Favourite Amongst Books

Pride and Prejudice
by Jane Austen

I know practically every woman will tell you that Pride and Prejudice is her favourite story. With good reason. She has probably seen the movie more than a few times and loves the manners and scenes of English society. Of course, the 1995 BBC version of the story is the absolute best version that follows the book so well. But have they read the book? Trust me, it is even better.

So what it is about this book that makes women dream and men shake their head and don't understand?

First, you need to understand a little about Jane Austen, herself. Jane was born in 1775 in the village of Steventon in Hamspshire, England. Her father was a reverend. Jane wrote stories about what she knew, that is - society. She had a lot of connections and saw a lot of things happen in the everyday goings on of society. That, combined with her sharp wit, she wrote about what she knew best and could be deemed an expert on the topic. In this book, particularly, there is an abundance of wit. Jane herself called this book "rather too light & bright & sparkling."

Pride and Prejudice was published in 1813. It is a novel about family and the everyday life of society in the English countryside, specifically the Bennet family with five daughters. Elizabeth is the sister who has the most wit, according to her father. We are introduced to Mr. Darcy, who is tall, handsome, and very rich, at a dance where he shuns Elizabeth as not being handsome enough to tempt him. While Darcy's good friend Mr. Bingley begins to fall in love with Elizabeth's elder sister, Jane. The more Elizabeth sees of Mr. Darcy the more she despises his pride and arrogance, but Darcy is falling in love with Elizabeth, even though her situation in life is well beneath his own. At last Darcy proposes to Elizabeth, and she refuses him, explaining that his selfishness and contempt toward everyone would never induce her to marry him. He goes away wounded, and realizes that while he was a gentleman with manners who was brought up with good principles, he was left to live by his own selfish pride and conceit. He is determined to change. At the same time, Elizabeth is corrected by Darcy on matters of which she was mistaken in her first impressions, and so her opinion of Darcy slowly changes over several more months. But family matters get in the way, and as a reader, you don't know what is going to become of the Bennet family and what Darcy will think of them. 

I think what detours most people from reading this book is the language. It is not written like the modern fiction writers whose works can be read in a flash. Modern books are so focused on the action and keeping a reader entertained. Jane's way of writing is full of minute details centered around the characters. Sometimes the action of a scene is written in one sentence, while the thoughts going on inside Elizabeth Bennet's head last for a few pages. The narrator of the book is one that overlooks the whole situation and can go into the mind of each character.

This book is one of the best novels in the English language, and it is well worth reading if you haven't. I read it every couple years, and each time I read it, I enjoy it so much more. You know it is a good book when it gets better each time you read it. This is the most lovely version, by the way. This cloth-bound Penguin Classics Edition is so beautiful. I treated myself to it last week when I was at Oxford Exchange. Because lovely books are hard for me to resist.

14 October 2014

Autumn, Indulge Me

Autumn, I know you have it in you. I know you are able to make my days much more pleasant with your cool breezes and your dry air full of scents that linger and entice one with spices and warm comforts. 

I see your presence at the grocery store. Upon walking in, there is a whole display of such beautiful Autumnal colours in flowers and plants. The scent of cinnamon swirls all around me and I cannot help but indulge in some flowers that hold the most lovely golden caramel colours and a tiny potted plant with little mums growing in a rust colour.

So, where have you gone to, Autumn? You were here but for a moment, and now you've gone off again. Perhaps you thought it best to leave a place such as Florida alone, due to our tropical qualities, but I assure you, you will find it most comfortable here. There are no mountains in your way, and all of the residents here will take notice of you. To be sure, you will be the talk of each town.

Perhaps, though, you prefer to linger in the background, and not flaunt your beauty, which is why you tend to slowly reach down to the trees and give them time to change their colours and eventually fall off their branches. It would be presumptuous to think that you were pretentious, even though you are vastly important to me..

So I invite you to come back, Autumn, and stick around for a while. You are most welcome here.

13 October 2014

Library Treasure

I almost did not go to the library today, mainly because I had several other errands I needed to do that could probably be seen as more important than books at the library. Actually, nothing is quite as important as books, however, I fear not everyone shares that outlook. But I live so close to the library, and a search in their book sale section doesn't take me long. So, I went. There is only one row of books. I always head straight to the literature section, naturally.

By now you know that I am an avid C.S. Lewis reader. I have every book I can possibly get, within reason (I had the chance to purchase a few first edition Lewis books in that little catholic bookshop in Oxford across from Christ Church College, but I just could not spend $60 on a book, however much I would have loved to have it). This particular title is one that has been on my Amazon wish list, but because it is close to $20, I haven't ever ordered it. I've also never seen it in a store, except in Oxford at Blackwell's.

So, when my eyes caught sight of The Discarded Image at the library, sitting there in the literature section, my heart did a little dance and a smile must have been on my face because I pulled it off the shelf I almost could not believe my eyes. I opened it and saw the price, $1.00. It must be my day, was all I could think. If this particular book was in a used bookstore, it would easily have been marked $20 or more. I don't believe in luck, but imagine that!

Then I looked at the publication date. 1964. I suspected it might be a first edition, especially since it was printed in Great Britain and there was no reprint date. C.S. Lewis wrote this, of course, when he lived and taught at Cambridge University at the end of his life. He died in 1963, and this must have been published the following year. When I got home and looked up the publication date online, it was 1964. So, I hold in my hands something so valuable to me, a lover of books, reading, writing, and all things English, for $1.00. You just never know when a sudden and joyous blessing will jump into your day! But I do know there are reasons for everything. Thank goodness I decided to take the time to go to the library today!

09 October 2014

Colours of Autumn

O the loveliness that tends to be
the sheer delight of a season to see
as shades of marigold,
mustard, and rust
add warmth and colour,
and even, I trust,
a comfort deep inside,
our knowing still,
that in life and all seasons,
we can seek His will.

I have a couple of sweet little pumpkins sitting on my coffee table reminding me that we are in the season that inspires me the most, through the colours that emerge. The muted tones of caramel, mustard, rust, and marigold and all variations of those earthy shades.

The Summer season seems to embrace bright, vibrant colours that are pretty loud, and that doesn't suit me as well. If I were a set of colours, I would be the earth tones that emerge in the Autumn season. It's a feast for the eyes, I think, and quite a change from the end of Summer.

When the winds come through the trees and begin to cast a chill, the colours wake up and remember that it's time for their beauty to show in a different way.

08 October 2014

A Stop At Oxford Exchange

I cannot possibly be so close to Oxford Exchange and not go there, unless I am prevented for some reason. On Monday, I had to go to downtown Tampa for jury duty. I had no idea how long my day would be or if I would be able to do anything afterwards. I drove into Tampa before the sun rose, and it was a long, long morning. I went through Federal Court jury selection and was not selected to sit on the jury for a criminal case that I was brought into with other jurors.

Since I was not selected, I was dismissed. Where else would I go when Oxford Exchange is literally a few blocks drive away? I was famished - waking up at 5:20 AM is not my norm, and it was such a long morning at the courthouse without food. So, I had some late lunch, iced earl grey lavender, and then browsed the bookstore.

It is such a beautiful, classy destination that transports me to another place. It doesn't feel like Florida at all. It feels European, and lovely. And if I am nearby, the road will take me there.