Thoughts While (Almost) Walking on a Street in Paris

“God has given many counsels so that each of us can observe some of them. No day passes without some opportunity to do so.”

Finding God’s Will for You by St. Francis de Sales is my second book for Rose City Reader’s 2018 European Reading Challenge.

I happened to be reading Sophia Institute Press’s publication of Finding God’s Will for You while in Chicago. The painting on the cover of my edition of this book features Renoir’s portrait “Alfred Sisley,” a pensive man perhaps pondering God’s will for his life. I ran into the original of Monsieur Sisley’s portrait at the Art Institute of Chicago. Neither words nor photographs can convey the awe of looking at the Impressionist masters’ oil paintings in person.

My snapshot of Gustave Caillebotte’s “Paris Street; Rainy Day,” 1877. Oil on canvas.

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Hope Is Patience with the Lamp Lit

My European Reading Challenge this year was going to include novels from my favorite continent to which I wanted to give some time. England was going to be Winston Graham’s Poldark series. Norway was to be a rereading of Sigrid Undset’s Ida Elisabeth or Kristin Lavransdatter.

Instead, 2018 has become the year of spiritual classics.

The tenth anniversary of Pope Benedict XVI’s encyclical on the virtue of hope, Spe Salvi, or Saved in Hope, passed in November 2017. (Benedict is German, of Bavarian heritage.) I reread it for the first time in a while.

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Winter Ends When You’re Ready

Around the time the Christmas Season officially ends at Candlemas, I usually regret it’s over. I wish we could start the season over and savor it again. I’m not ready to let it go.

This year I also found myself still perusing the December 2017 issue of Crochet World, well into February. Gemma Owen’s Holiday Wonderland Doily, with circular Christmas trees surrounded by a white border, and her poinsettia-themed Winter Cheer Centerpiece have made it onto my list of thread crochet projects for “someday.”

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Europe, Memory, and the Heart: What I Read in 2017

I’d never participated in a reading challenge before, but last year I joined my friend Gilion at Rose City Reader for her 2017 European Reading Challenge.

Gilion’s rules are simple, and the goal is five books from different countries:

The idea is to read books by European authors or books set in European countries (no matter where the author comes from). The books can be anything – novels, short stories, memoirs, travel guides, cookbooks, biography, poetry, or any other genre. You can participate at different levels, but each book must be by a different author and set in a different country – it’s supposed to be a tour.

I didn’t complete five, whole European books–Gilion’s Five-Star “Deluxe Entourage” category. I didn’t even make it to four: “Honeymooner.” I finished three: “Business Traveler.”

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Sewing

I fell in love with William-Adolphe Bouguereau’s painting Sewing (1898) when I was about twelve years old. I thought this calm and pensive little girl was so beautiful, and I made up my own stories about her life and interests.

The sweetness of this child still makes me smile. Sometimes I think of her, and the innocence this painting represents, when I sew.

Phyllis Hoffman DePiano, publisher of Classic Sewing Magazine, has a gracious blog called The Ribbon in My Journal. Last week she shared the history of sewing machines. Most of my sewing has been embroidery by hand, but I recently began learning to use my Singer sewing machine.

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Seasons and Celebrations

“To understand the calendar is to grasp in a new way the huge significance of the Christian faith, and to understand the role it continues to play in our common life.”

Every December I reread A Yearbook of Seasons and Celebrations because the Liturgical (Church) Year begins with Advent, the four-week season before Christmas.

British journalist and author Joanna Bogle’s A Yearbook of Seasons and Celebrations is my last book for Rose City Reader’s 2017 European Reading Challenge. Her book is a descriptive compilation of traditions associated with Christian feast days, as they have been celebrated particularly in England. She presents recipes, songs, games, crafts, and customs for each feast day or season of the year. Many of them are centuries old, and their origins are fascinating. Continue reading

Beauty and Enduring Things

Tea Time Magazine was originally a gift I received, years ago, from a dear friend. I haven’t missed an issue since. But the main attractions for me aren’t actually the features on tea–as informative and interesting as they are.

What draw me to linger over this magazine are the beautiful table settings and the diversity of china patterns featured in each issue. Every one is a feast for the eyes.

One of my favorite regular features of Tea Time is an article incorporating one pattern into three thematic table settings by blending it with different accent pieces and flatware. The settings might be traditional, or formal, or whimsical–depending on the combination of patterns, colors, and materials placed together on the table. It’s a great boost to any hostess’s imagination.

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