The Perfect Present

except make that coffee or a glass of wine!

I have to agree with C.S.Lewis. I have been trying to find a cup or a mug large enough to last a chapter of a book never mind a complete book.  However, the shape was wrong, or the pattern was wrong, or it wasn’t china which for me is a prerequisite for any cup of tea. Fussy?  Yes totally.

Then I got a present from another tea loving friend.  Yes, a mug which I can wrap my hand around: the tea stays warm in it and it is CHINA.  How lucky can one get?  Then there is the little extra.  When I get to the bottom of a wonderful mug of tea there at the bottom of the mug is the question “Another cup?”  Now that is what I call a thoughtful present.

Do you find there are people who have this uncanny knack of choosing just the correct present?  They seem to know what would stir the heart.  They have this uncanny knack of picking up something which you didn’t even know you would like.

Now I could spend months thinking about the gift, but I don’t really think I get it right or if I do it really is a fluke.  I do however like the process of trying to figure out a good present for someone.  I have concluded, that having put the time and thought into the gift, irrespective of how it is received, is more important to me.  This way it is not a chore but a delight.

So are you the perfect present chooser?

A Small Gesture

What are the little things which give you a lift? What are those things which make you stop and feel thankful? Now I am not talking about those grand gestures I am talking about those small gestures.

I was in the middle of the clean up  getting ready for the weekend and all those household chores just had to be done.  It was an ideal morning for it.  The sky was grey but with a hint of blue.  The sun hasn’t really got it heat going yet so the house was cool ideal for getting those floors cleaned.  Everything was ready for cleaning.

Andy Williams accompanying me as I set to in the shower room.  The washing machine was given the bass beat as it came to the end of the first wash of the day.  The kettle and teapot, however, were calling to me that I needed a break, but I like to get the work done before breakfast.

While lugging out the hoover I heard the letterbox click.  Although there were no up coming birthdays, anniversaries and no celebrations in the offing there was always the hope that the post might, just might, include something other than bills.  It was my lucky day. Among the bills nestled a hand-written envelope for me with a foreign stamp.  Now that is what I call post.  I put the letter into my pocket and returned to the house work.

Suddenly mopping the floor wasn’t so bad.  Dusting the skirting boards wasn’t going to be ignored as it was just another little job.  Then I found myself with my steps clearing out the top of the china cabinet.  Singing along with Andy.  It was a good day.

Two hours later, chores completed, clothes washed  and hung out, hoover put away for another day and steamer stashed neatly away; the tea was made, and the tray brought out to the garden now that the sun was giving off some heat and it was time to open the letter.  The anticipation is part of receiving a letter in the post. IMAG1051

I slowly opened the letter and I was soon transported to Washington State through the letter writing of a new friend.  So, for me a little piece of heaven was to receive a hand-written letter.  It totally brightened up my day.  It totally gave me a lift.  I felt so thankful that someone thought enough of me to take the time to hand write a letter and then post it to me.  I felt special.

I hope you have experienced something similar and I would love to hear what it was which lifted you up.

Girlfriends

Today is National Girlfriends Day and what a fantastic thing to celebrate. I personally think that friendship among women is something very special.

There are those friends who are only in your life for a short period. Perhaps it is during the school years or perhaps during various stages of one’s working life. They keep us going. When those friendships come to a natural conclusion that is fine. Life intervenes and to be honest I think it would be impossible to keep every friendship going.

There are the friends one meets during difficult times. They support you and then as those difficult times ease you both move on with your lives and again that is ok.

There are those friends which one meets through perhaps pastimes, hobbies, shared interest. Perhaps you only meet them during those shared interests, but they are an integral part of the enjoyment of those interests.

Perhaps you have some friends who are years or decades younger and their perspective on life adds to your knowledge as we are always learning.

I was listening to someone recently who looked on her local librarian as her friend as every two week she knows that there is going to be a new book waiting for her which will stimulate her, intrigue her or even get her riled. These books have been chosen by someone who cares and that is the definition of friendship for her.

Then again there are those friends who you may be privileged enough to have had them for twenty years or more. They have become part of the fabric of your life.  That is such a special blessing.

I have been blessed with so many gifts of friendship that I am humbled. Today I am remembering with great fondness but also with a heavy heart some friends who have died. I still go to the phone to ring them or I am just about to send them a text, or message them and even had a card made for one friend when I realise “No “they are no longer here. However, their legacy of friendship remains within my heart.

I have been privileged to have received the gift of friendship from so many.

Happy Girlfriend Day.

 

 

Friendship

Friendship is everything in life, 
Life without friendship is like life without air…
Life without friendship is like eats without food
And
Life without friendship is like body without soul…

(excerpt from Friendship by Qistina Zani)

Encouragement

A few years ago, I was introduced to machine quilting.  Let me say from the outset it wasn’t something I would have chosen for myself and I will always be indebted to my husband for purchasing the machine for me.

Quilting will always go hand in hand with the concept of encouragement. In fact, it is not the concept but the reality of encouragement.  Firstly, my husband, getting the proper advice for the sewing machine; secondly the encouragement from two friends to book quilting rather than sewing classes; and finally finding the right location for those classes.

Four, two-hour classes and I had a lap quilt, having learnt how to cut with a rotary cutter, to thread, sew, change bobbins and importantly not to be afraid to make mistakes.  Since then the most important tool I have is a Jemima.  Jemima is a ripper so as this ripper has a name it just shows how often I use it!!!

I have begun to understand how friends have been so absorbed in occupations and hobbies fabric related.  It is so tactile.  From choosing the fabric, treads batting to the actual making of the quilt top each step is tactile.

However, I have digressed here from writing about quilting and encouragement.  Every step along the way I have been encouraged. Roisin telling me get a piece of old fabric and sew.  “Put the foot to the pedal and sew”.

Then there was the utter magic of those four quilting classes with three ladies whom I am telling you have the patience of Job.  Honestly it amazes me when looking back how they survived me and kept their cool.

So, who were these angels?  They inhabit Appletree Crafts in Newtownmountkennedy in County Wicklow.  Their names? Marie, Sinead and Trina.  Now neither their halos nor wings are visible but believe me they are quilting angels who constantly encourage.  Their shop is a veritable Aladdin’s cave of fabric.  So, if you are visiting the garden of Ireland drop in, even if quilting is not your thing. Or, on the web http://www.appletreecrafts.ie

I have continued to try new adventures in this my 60th year.  I am writing this overlooking the Aughrim river on a sos beag (small break) from a Quilting Retreat.  Yes, I am attending my first Quilting Retreat.  It is an absolute blast.  A retreat led by Trina, Sinead and Marie from Appletree Crafts and attended by ladies who have offered nothing but support to each other .  The tips and generosity of spirit has been so special and uplifting.

Friendship

 

Friendship can mean many things.

Friendship can be transient as our life develops.  Sometimes friendships fade as our lives take us apart.  That is ok.  Those people came into our lives for a short period and gave the gift of friendship when it was needed.

Friendship can be a gradual process.  Sometimes it flows and ebbs like the tide but there is the knowledge that with a letter, card phone call even a text that friendship will still be there.

Some friendships have lasted decades and have seen us though happy, ordinary and devastating times of our lives.  It is as if, those friends have been a part of our lives since forever.

Some friendships have developed when we least expected them to.  Perhaps through the joining of a group perhaps from a shared interest. Perhaps going through a difficult time. Perhaps at a time of happiness.

Some friendships develop despite age differences.  It is the age difference which adds to the friendship and gives a different perspective on life.

Some friendships developed in the time of pen pals

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

while some friendships have developed in the digital age.

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Photo by Tracy Le Blanc on Pexels.com

Each friendship adds to our lives.  Each friendship is unique.  Each friendship is special.  Each friendship is unique because of what we put into it.

This poem was written by Robert Frost, has always reminded me that time with friends is special.

 

 Time to Talk

When a friend calls to me from the road
And slows his horse to a meaning walk,
I don’t stand still and look around
On all the hills I haven’t hoed,
And shout from where I am, ‘What is it?’
No, not as there is a time to talk.
I thrust my hoe in the mellow ground,
Blade-end up and five feet tall,
And plod: I go up to the stone wall
For a friendly visit.

Keeping Warm

 

Tea is a universal beverage which warms the body, heart and mind.  It is strange how in the winter a cup of tea can warm a person and during a hot day it seems to cool a person.

 

Then there are the different methods of making tea.  The strength of the tea is very personal.  The variety of tea perhaps depends on the time of day.  Now one can have an infusions of fruit teas. In Ireland, some people have their preferred brand of tea.

Tea is such a personal taste. In the morning my preferred tea is an Irish Breakfast Tea. It has a strong definite taste and I have a preferred brand – “Lyons Breakfast Tea”. Much of the tea would be grown in plantations in Kenya and Indonesia for this particular brand.

There are many ways, to make tea but it all starts with boiling hot water.  It is so essential that the water is boiled and the tea infused immediately to allow the flavour to develop.

But how to keep the tea warm for that second or third cup?  At home I have a tea cosy which surrounds the teapot leaving the handle and spout free for pouring.  It was one of my earliest quilting projects long before tea became part of my every day.

My sister prefers a tea cosy which covers the entire pot and is lifted off to pour the tea.   A friend prefers a knitted tea cosy as she firmly believes that it is the only way of keeping the tea at the correct temperature.

Now my friend Christl, who lives in Wurzburg,  Franconia in Germany uses a totally different method.  Once the tea has been made in the tea kettle, it is placed on a trivet containing a tea light.  This keeps the tea at the perfect temperature.  It is an amazing utensil and so very practical.

It is called “Stovchen” in German.

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Perhaps this will be my new method for keeping tea at just the correct temperature? Thank you Christl.

Another Eatery

It is lovely when one finds an eatery with welcoming staff, airy room, an engaging menu and food which lives up to expectations.

While spending a few days in Waterford on the south coast of Ireland I came across such a place.  It is in Waterford city, beside the Medieval Museum and housed in the Bishop’s Palace Museum.

It is a small eatery with seating for approximately 25 patrons.  On entering one is greeted with a friendly hello.  Unlike so many places the food is ordered at the table.

I was there one Sunday morning.  Only twenty minutes after opening and we were lucky to get a table.  It sat snugly into the window.  The food on the menu was wide and varied.  While perusing the menu a jug of water was provided by a friendly waitress.

I decided on French Toast with tea, while my companion settled on American Style pancakes with coffee.  The breakfast arrived accompanied by a separate serving for each of us of fruit salad.  The maple syrup came in a jug and not randomly pored over the breakfast as so often happens.  My companion’s pancakes were light and fluffy.

We were both very impressed with the Bishop’s Palace Café and would totally recommend it.