Friday, December 28, 2012

Between the Pages

To everything there is a season ... and with a new year comes the season of new beginnings and a chance to begin the year with a "clean slate."

It is also the season for nostalgia and reflection ... and new calendars.

As I begin the nostalgic ritual of transferring notations of birthdays and special family occasions from my old calendar to the bright, clean pages of my new one, I am thankful for the blessings and sweet memories that were ours throughout the year ... for the calendar that hangs above my desk in our office is so much more than just a reminder of birthdays or appointments or holidays — between its pages is our family's history.

As I turn the pages of my new calendar (shown above), I can't help but wonder what the new year will bring ... what memorable happenings will be noted? What joys, or sorrows? Only time will tell what God has in store for us.

May the pages of your new 2013 calendar be filled with many happy occasions and sweet memories-in-the-making.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Shifting Gears

There's just something about the day after Christmas that inspires me to quickly shift gears from my holiday mode to my "organizing mode."

I'm going to spend the rest of the week packing up the Christmas decorations and getting the house back "in order." I also hope to begin working on a project for the New Year — organizing my favorite recipes and creating a cookbook so I'll have them all together, instead of scattered in several different places.

I hope you enjoy this last week of the year, however you plan to spend it.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Merry Christmas!

May your Christmas be blessed
with Happy Gatherings ...

And filled with God's Love and Grace.

In Remembrance

I would like to share a beautiful poem honoring the precious children who died last week in the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School. I found it to be comforting and I hope you will, too.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

December Wildflowers

I was returning home from a trip to Jackson yesterday, when I noticed these sweet little blue wildflowers growing beside the frontage road along I-20 in Vicksburg.

They were so unexpected (it's almost Christmastime, for goodness sakes!) ... and I felt as if they were beckoning to me to come back and capture them with my camera.

I was tired after spending my morning running errands and then having to drive back to Vicksburg, which is an hour's drive from Jackson, but when I got home, I ran inside, grabbed my camera, and headed back to get a closer look at the flowers.

After googling a few "blue wildflower" images, I decided that the flowers are Short’s Asters (Symphotrichum shortii). Not a very pretty name, but the flowers were so sweet and delicate, and I'm glad I took the time to go back and capture them in pictures.

I wasn't the only one enjoying the flowers. If you look closely at the next picture (you can click on it to enlarge it), you will see a little red bug happily drinking nectar, or gathering pollen, or whatever little red bugs gather from wildflowers in December ...

And just a few stems away, this busy little bee was buzzing and gathering and drinking, too ...

These little flowers and insects brightened my day and made me smile ... and in light of what's going on in the world around us, I needed that very much. It was as if they were a little reminder from God that He is near.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

2012 Lagniappe

As we enter the final days of 2012, I'd like to share a little of the lagniappe I captured in pictures this year. Along with the pictures, I captured some lovely memories of where and when I took the pictures, so I was doubly blessed.

"Georgia Pines in the Morning Mist"

A sunrise during our family vacation in the
Blue Ridge Mountains, near Blue Ridge, Georgia ...

Fall Branch Falls, near Blue Ridge ...

This beautiful giant swallowtail dropped by our courtyard on a sunny September afternoon ...

In October, I enjoyed exploring a few of the cotton fields near Vicksburg, and captured this next picture just a day or so before the pickers came ...

I've always loved taking pictures of the Old Court House Museum in Vicksburg, but especially enjoyed capturing it during the "blue hour" one evening in February ...

Here is a another view taken a month later when the dogwood trees were blooming ...

I revisited the Museum in April, and captured some of the spring flowers in the gardens surrounding the courthouse ...

Flowers are one of my favorite subjects to photograph, and here are a few of my favorites from this year ...


Little Gem Magnolia
4th of July Rose

And last, but not least, this picture of Crabapple blossoms
I captured in March — my #1 favorite flower picture of 2012 ...

While browsing through my picture albums of 2012, I discovered that I captured most of these pictures close to home. I hope to venture out more in the coming year, and look forward to exploring new and interesting areas here in our beautiful state of Mississippi. I hope you will join me.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

No Words ...

Words fail me today, as our thoughts and prayers turn to the families of the children and adults who died in the tragic school shootings Friday at Newtown, Connecticut. My heart aches for each and every one of them ...

Friday, December 14, 2012

Only in Their Dreams

[By Vic Harville, Political and Sports Cartoonist]

Let us take time out from our Christmas celebrations to remember with sincere gratitude our servicemen and women who are scattered all over the world, risking their lives every day to keep America out of harm's way.

May God protect them as they protect us, and bless them and their families for the sacrifices they make for us — especially at Christmastime, when they'll be home for Christmas ... only in their dreams.

Christmas Eve, by Thomas Kinkade

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Christmas Keepsakes

One of my favorite rooms to decorate for Christmas is our breakfast area, which is open to the kitchen.

Most of our holiday gatherings usually end up in the kitchen, and our Christmas tree is set up in a corner of the breakfast area where we can enjoy its festive lights and decorations from the kitchen while we cook.

The next picture shows the breakfast area as it looks now, decked out in its Christmas finery, which includes a mix of old and new decorations and keepsakes, some of which we've used since our children were babies.

One of the new additions this year is this mischievous little "sock elf" which is perched precariously on top of the chandelier ...

I named him Max, and I can just picture him scurrying down at night to help himself to some of the candy in the jars on the table below ...

The little gingerbread kids pictured below are new this year, too — a boy for our grandson Maddox, and the little girl jumping rope for our granddaughter Avery Grace, who is mastering the art of rope jumping these days.

I especially enjoy displaying some of the older keepsakes on the shelves of our old Welsh dresser ...

Like this little angel chime that my husband and I bought our first Christmas after we were married.

And the little Santa's workshop we bought when our children were babies ...

Several of our keepsakes hang on the tree, and it's always nice to remember when and where we acquired them. This little fellow was part of the mobile that hung over our daughter Whitney's crib when she was a newborn ...

We used the mobile for our son Benjamin, too, and when he outgrew it, I just couldn't bear to pack it up in a box to gather dust in the attic, so I carefully took it apart and every Christmas we enjoy hanging the little figures on the tree.

My most treasured ornament is the tree topper, which was handed down to me by my mother.

It graced the tops of the Christmas trees of her childhood and still has the 29-cent price tag attached to the inside of it. I hope to pass it down to my children some day, and hope it will mean as much to them as it means to me.

And speaking of meaningful ornaments ... the dog pictured in the frame below was our beloved Springer Spaniel Patch.

Patch was one of the sweetest dogs on earth and I know in my heart that he is patiently waiting for us to join him someday at "The Rainbow Bridge."

I love displaying these keepsakes and precious ornaments from Christmases Past, and treasure the memories and traditions they rekindle for me and my family.

I'm excited about having my parents, our children, and grandchildren all under one roof (ours!) for the holidays ... and I'm looking forward to sharing with them, and remembering the stories behind, each and every one of these and the other Christmas keepsakes that are so much a part of the traditions of our family's Christmases Past.