WELCOME The kettle's always on in Merryville.
It whistles a song of peace.
Merryville is a very pretty and some say a bit quirky, though neighborly, little town. A simple place, in a simpler time, it sits within a small valley ringed with evergreens, wild cherry trees and several small farms . Most folks who grow up in Merryville, tend to stay in Merryville. Just a bicycle's ride to the coast, you'll find the loveliest lilacs grow here in spring, and folks come from miles around, just to see our bluebirds, and to hear the blackbirds sing.
Now, while you may say that Merryville isn't a real place, you can't really say that it doesn't exist. Merryville is as real to me as any place on earth. It dwells in my heart, and in the spirit with which I try to approach living.
When I was asked to write my diary I did so with precisely these thoughts in mind. There is always room for a beam of light to remind us of the nobility and beauty of ordinary things, to celebrate them, but also to give thanks.
There is something very satisfying about unmolding your own soap, even if it is of the melt and pour variety, which this happens to be. I recently took a very good soap making class, but even though it made me feel like I could make soap that I would be very happy with from scratch, by the time I bought all the equipment and ingredients to make it, it would be pretty expensive soap, and all I really want to do is make a few bars of good soap to add ingredients from my garden to and to have on hand to give as gifts now and then. I found a really nice goat's milk base and a glycerine and honey base at Brambleberry.com, that I combined, and then I added green tea and mint to that. I left it unscented, but there is a delicate scent of mint to this soap. Just a little bit, just enough to tease you a bit, but not overwhelm. I want to crochet a few pretty washcloths to have on hand too. Wrapped up together I think they will make a nice gift to have to give as a hostess gift, or to add to a gift basket on special occasions. I'm trying to get back into the habit of making things again, and to rebuild my stock of simple gifts to fill my gift drawer. I want to keep it filled always with small homemade things, so that like my Granny, and Momo, and Dear Mrs. Mannery, I will always have a "little something" to give to brighten someone's day. One thing that I have learned over time is that there is no better way to cheer yourself up, than to cheer someone else up. I think Mark Twain said that. It's true. So, I'm rebuilding my gift drawer, with homemade soap, and little stuffed calico hearts, and rolled beeswax candles, crocheted washcloths and other such things. Little things, to brighten someone's day.
Do you keep a gift drawer? May I ask, what do you take out of yours?
Oh, and this is a nice book written by British gardener, Rosemary Very.
I've been crocheting a pink shawl with some Miss Babs yarn that I purchased at the Sheep and Wool festival in Maryland a couple of years ago. I loved this yarn the moment I saw it. It's so many shades of pink, and very soft. I especially like the very pale sections of color, which unfortunately, aren't really showing up in the photograph. I think this shawl will become a gift one day. It's a free pattern on the Lion Brand website, and is called New Year's Shawl. It has been a relaxing bit of crocheting, and I'm enjoing the making of it.
It is such a pretty day here today in Merryville. The sun is shining, the temperatures are a little bit warmer, and I can see signs of the coming spring popping up everywhere. My crocus are blooming, and the daffodils are up about 5 inches now, and buds and leaves are popping up on a few of the vines and hydrangeas. I think most everyone is ready for the change of season this year, but I'm still enjoying these winter days too. I'm trying to take advantage of them before gardening time begins in earnest. Then, most of my time will be spent on weeding and enriching my soil. Actually, it's about time for layering on a few soil amendments in some parts of my garden now. For the most part, most of my February has centered around home, and time spent with family.
We had a nice Valentine's Day around our house. Mr. Staggs brought me little roses, which he knows I love, and I gave him candy, and this framed embroidered sampler that I found while shopping with my sister one day. I was pretty sure he would like it, for personal reasons, and he did, which made me happy. We usually only exchange candy and flowers, but every now and then, it's nice to surprise him with something a little bit off the wall....or in this case, something on the wall! I wish my photos were better today, but for some reason, this is the best that I could manage.
Our Valentine's Day tea party was a lot of fun. Everyone seemed to really enjoy it. I tried to keep it old fashioned in a way, and pretty much homemade. The butter pats and brownies were shaped like hearts, and I decorated a little bit with old fashioned Victorian valentines that actually were given to my husband's grandmother when she was young. I made lemon curd tarts and a lovely raisin and walnut bread, along with lots of tea sandwiches. Patty's 8 year old neice, Tiffany made tiny cupcakes that she decorated so prettily.
I printed iron on transfers that I decorated these canvas bags with. I made one for each person to carry their valentines and extra treats home in, and my valentines were sweet pea seeds. I think everyone was really pleased.
I didn't take pictures of the actual tea party, just enjoyed the moments. I think my favorite thing of all, was when my 13 year old neice Angelina stood beside me for a few moments with her head on my shoulder and smiled. I could feel her affection for me, and her happiness in the day, and it made all the preparations leading up to the party feel so worth it. Dreams are made of such moments. We're always dreaming of happiness, aren't we, for ourselves, and for others?
My roses from Mr. Staggs dried very nicely in the vase, so I cut them to make a wreath. I think I'll sit with a cuppa, and work on that for awhile.
“This is my wish for you: Comfort on difficult days, smiles when sadness intrudes, rainbows to follow the clouds, laughter to kiss your lips, sunsets to warm your heart, hugs when spirits sag, beauty for your eyes to see, friendships to brighten your being, faith so that you can believe, confidence for when you doubt, courage to know yourself, patience to accept the truth,
Well, these two books aren't newly issused, but they are new to my personal library, and I am truly enjoying them. The Complete Brambley Hedge by Jill Barklem, and Beatrix Potter's Gardening Life, by Marta McDowell. I have long loved both Jill Barklem and Beatrix Potter's charming children's stories and treasure their illustrations. Beatrix Potter is an inspiration to me, having lived her life true to herself as she loved and helped to protect the natural world around her.
If you are looking for books to brighten your winter days, or any day really, these books just might be the ticket, to take you away to a world of furry little creatures who wear shawls, aprons and bonnets, who drink tea, live in cozy homes created in ivy covered tree trunks they've decorated with old crockery, flowery china and homemade patchwork quilts, and to a world filled with old fashioned primroses, hollyhocks and foxgloves, and to talks of flower seeds and gardens created with cuttings from friends.....and oh, so many more sweet and lovely, simple things.