Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Forced Hibernation: A List That Makes Me Smile

Forced Hibernation.... A List That Makes Me Smile

At the risk of sounding like a tiresome Pollyanna, my recent week of forced hibernation was really not so bad.  Not only did I have one of the sweetest, furriest, most devoted nurses imaginable,  but the weather seemed to have heard of my plight and decided to send the rainiest, the dreariest, the coldest of its creations to my side.   For days, a white wooly fog wrapped itself tightly around the cottage; the gas lamp in the front garden flickering like a beacon and casting shadows into the rooms that swirled and twirled like grey-gowned Russian dancers.  A fire crackled in the old stone fireplace and the tea kettle whistled happily.  While it was true that the medication I was on made me feel like another, slightly inconscient, version of myself, all in all, it could have been much worse.  

During this week, I found many things to make me smile. 
 And what kind of friend would I be if I didn’t share some of them with you?  
So here’s a list - highly subjective and a bit disorganized -  of smiles.
Which one do you like best?

1. George
I recently discovered this photograph, released around Christmas.
I mean, really.
This adorable child has so much personality, so much confidence.
It’s as if he knows he’ll be King.

2.  Vanessa Bell
Given my reverence for Virginia Woolf, I have generally regarded her sister, Vanessa, as a supporting player in her story.  While I wandered through Vanessa’s exquisite Charleston House in 2013, my opinion changed and I began to see Vanessa’s place in history as much more important than I’d previously realized.  I usually steer clear of fictionalized history, but this book caught my attention and I couldn’t resist.  It’s marvelous.
Find it HERE

3.  New Old Pillows
I’ve just restocked the shoppe with several exquisite old pillows.
Trust me, they add something delightful to any room.
Find them HERE

4.  Meryl
Meryl Streep at the London premiere of Into The Woods.
This is what I want to look like when I grow up.

5.  The Great British Bakeoff
Whilst in the UK last autumn, I overheard so many people talking about this program.  The finale was about to happen and the air was practically buzzing with speculation on who was poised to win.  Having never considered the enjoyable activity of cooking to be a competitive sport, I never watch these shows.  But one night during my medicated hibernation I happened to switch on PBS and came across the first episode of The Great British Bakeoff and was instantly hooked.  A group of very pleasant people baking British goodies underneath an Alice in Wonderland tent on the beautiful grounds of a country house in Britain.  I mean, what’s not to like?  Puddings and treacle, Victoria Sponge.  Tartlets and chocolates and scones.  The contestants are all so nice, so interesting, I want everyone one of them to win.  Nobody yells, nobody acts like a brat.  It’s wonderful.
The result of this, of course, is that I get so inspired the next day becomes baking day at The House of Edward.  I’ve baked two loaves of Cinnamon Bread that made the house smell utterly divine and gave us days of delicious breakfasts. (You can find the recipe on page 126 of THIS BOOK.)  And I made the most delectable sugar cookies.  (Find them HERE.  Note:  I didn’t ice these, and I baked them a wee bit longer than suggested.  The icing would make the cookies very, very sweet, and I wanted a crisp cookie for tea time.  It worked perfectly.)
You can read more about The Great British Bake Off, HERE.

6.  I Know Where I’m Going
One particularly stormy night, Edward and I curled up with The Songwriter in front of the fire (Apple underneath the piano) to re-watch one of our favourite movies, I Know Where I’m Going.  Like a dream, each shot is achingly lovely and incredibly atmospheric.  It stars Dame Wendy Hiller, she of the magnificent face, and was filmed entirely on Scotland’s Isle of Mull, one of the most wonderful places I know.  So many of the scenes were filmed in spots I’ve sat, all alone, looking out to sea.  It makes me swoon to remember.  If you love Scotland, you’ll be intoxicated by this movie.  And if you’ve never traveled to Scotland, you’ll be purchasing a ticket before the closing credits roll.
Find it HERE

7.  Nail Polish
In summertime, when my toes are on display in sandals of various shapes, I paint them discreet and quietly pretty colours bearing names like Sweetheart, Bubble Bath and Mimosa.  But come wintertime, when they are forever enclosed in woolen socks and riding boots, I get a bit more adventurous. 
 This week they’re wearing a new colour from Nars.
 A deep, earthy, verdant green that reminds me of
 forests, moss, and skeins of Shetland wool.  Love it!
Find it HERE

8.  Knitting 
See.  This is why I knit!
A friend’s new baby wearing the cardigan I knitted for her.
Yes, this makes me smile.

9.  A Fabulous Christmas Present
I adored The Grand Budapest Hotel when I saw it last summer.  And I loved Tilda Swinton’s outrageous character, Madame D.  So, a good friend’s delightfully talented daughter made me this for Christmas.  I’ve put it next to the mirror where I get ready to face the day.  It guarantees I’m smiling when I do.
(By the way:  The fabulous frame this photograph is in?  I received TWO of these for Christmas.  From two different people who don’t know each other.  What does that say about me do you think?  *laughing*)

10.   The Porch
My Father always had a devil of a time raking leaves from our front garden.  Just as he’d get a pile raked up, I would be disassembling it to create the house plan I was fashioning under the sweet gum trees.  Rooms and windows, doors and porches… I laid them all out on the ground like a blueprint, making sure the room I chose for my own had the best view, naturally.  It’s never been a secret that I love houses.  As a child, there was nothing I liked better than riding in the back seat of my parent’s car at night, gazing into the windows of the houses passing by, each one different, individual, mysterious.  When I saw the movie Out of Africa, while all my friends were swooning over Robert Redford, I was in love with Karen Blixen’s house.  I have seen the ghosts of great men and great women drifting in the sunbeams of the houses in which they once lived.  Hammersmith Farm and Monk’s House.  Andalusia and Mendips.   Red House, Leighton House Charleston House.  Wandering through the rooms of these magical places  - each so different, each so evocative of their enigmatic owners - gave me such inspiration.  
Needless to say, my roots are deeply entwined round this cottage I call home.   Each and every corner is imbued with what I find most beautiful, most personal, and I love living here.  Any changes to the place are thought out and dreamed of with great seriousness.  So in October, when we finally decided to release a particular dream from my imagination and make it real, we were most excited. 

In our bedroom there has been, for years, a window seat underneath three large windows that looked over the back garden.  In my dreams I saw one of the three windows  becoming a door opening on a screened breezeway leading to a round screened porch, a birdhouse of sorts, just for us.  Seeing this long-held dream blossom into reality was a thrill involving many serendipitous components:  antique leading glass windows, handmade gothic chairs made of willow, a fir tree weathervane atop a large octagonal cupola that glows with a green light at night, paintings of Scotland on the new curved windowseat and, of course, two new large fat tartan dog beds.  It is finished now; a thoroughly magical place that transcends my dream. 

11.  And then there’s this:
“How far that little candle throws his beams.
  So shines a good deed in a weary world.”

Watch full screen if you can.
Find more of Matt's video's HERE

I hope you're smiling!


  1. Oh, I love the addition you created for your cottage, with the breezeway and the birdhouse for you, and those darling chairs. How nice to see a vision realized. I hope this week finds you well.

  2. Pamela, George is so adorable and I had not seen this pic of him!
    I must watch I know Where I'm Going now, it sounds so intriguing!

    New Feature Frederique Chemin

  3. Your new fabulous 'birdhouse' for people and doggies is exquisite Pamela - what a truly beautiful place. Know you will be spending a lot of time there on that bench, peering through the leaded windows, reading exciting books, sipping tea and such.

    As for this great list of lovely things, song, dance, reading, fashion (oh Meryl always gets it right - no need for strapless at all - and what a fab color and textured fabric), baking - I've enjoyed a few episodes and love the show because it showcases normal Brits (like me perhaps, haha!).
    Mash on my nails will be tried, love that green; taking up my knitting again which has languished in my chair side bag too long is planned; and I'll try to find that movie.

    As for the video, we just watched it full screen and loved it. Now there's the perfect job - and I read about Matt's change of careers - I bet he's one happy, traveling the world guy!

    Hope you are completely over the shingles dear and feeling much, much better by now.
    Hugs - Mary

  4. ohmygosh!
    and there i thought i was the only one who did that with autumn leaves when i was a girl!!! i'm delighted!
    this post is an enchanted walk right through your beautiful and creative heart.
    they all are really.
    but this one has pictures of your lovely cottage! so glad you shared it with us . . . and it's welcomed and treasured by me.
    keep getting stronger and completely well! hugs. xo♥ and ps ... YES! love the british baking show. what is not to love!

  5. I am smiling; it does all look perfect there. After 31 years living on my Peaceable Hill Farm, I am thinking of leaving. It is daunting and my head just about explodes when I think of it. The cognitive dissonance is too much to bear, but things change; I long to be near my children and grand children. Loneliness can only go on for so long. I love the baking show and the 17 year old is pretty incredible. I'll have to see the movie.

  6. Lovely post and the video made my day!

  7. Oh yes Pamela, I am indeed smiling. I would say that if one has to be ill,let the weather throw its worst, then snuggling down with the electric blanket on and a good book to read sounds like bliss to me.

  8. Every bit of this post touches me. Oh yeah, George knows he'll be a King............. or maybe a jovial playboy King! And Wendy Hiller, such a wonderful actress. Decades ago in London, I saw her on the stage in Driving Miss Daisy. Thrilling! And doesn't Meryl look elegant for once? (I adore her, too.) And your window seat is just as beautiful as a window seat can get. Have also been watching the British Bake Off. You're right....... it's a pleasure to watch just because they all so earnest and nice to each other.

  9. Another beautiful and exciting post, Pamela. I am off to follow the lincs you offer. Thank you! Love the British Bake off!

  10. My husband turned me on to "I Know Where I'm Going" - it's one of his favorite movies. He's an old movie buff, and I'm not always as keen as he is, but he was right about this one. Would love to see those places in person. And don't you just love the way that giant Irish wolf hound lounges on the furniture?

    Your 'birdhouse' porch looks wonderful - I want more pictures. I see red curtains and blue beams and green stained glass - you must tell us more about your creation. The painted window seat is enchanting, too. I LOVE the gothic willow chairs. Would love to know where you found them - they'd be fantastic on my twiggy mountain porch. Not a day for porch sitting today, though. The wind is blustery and we're enveloped in a snowy fog. The birds are flocking to the porch feeders. But the fire inside is warm!

  11. Glad to know you are making a quick comeback from the dreaded shingles. Spring is not far away and you need to be ready to begin enjoying the screened in porch. I have two favorites from your list: I, too, have found The Great British Bakeoff to be a delightful new show, and I'm also waiting for sandal-wearing days to try out the new Dior nail polish I brought home from Paris ..... The color is called "Blue Boy." As for The Porch, I won't go into how much I envy your having such a beautiful place to while away your days with The Songwriter, Edward and Apple. :-).

  12. Good your are feeling better. Prayers continue. Thank you for the wonderful lists.
    Like bests...Porch, baby in sweater, "Great British Bake Off," and all the rest. I found GBBO while bored channel surfing. I stopped to watch, and have been hooked since then.

  13. Must get the movie. Lived in Kincardineshire for a year. Put 12K miles on my car playing tourist. Wasn't long enough!

    Love your blog.

  14. Love your blog. How wonderful that you turned your medicated hibernation into such a treasure trove of beautiful things and memories!

  15. Pamela,
    There's nothing better than wintry weather when one is under the weather. Your list made me smile too, along with introducing a few new things for me to look into.
    I'm so happy you're back to your happy, healthy self.

  16. Oh I AM !!! I AM smiling! What a wonderful video! I LOVE it! Who IS this guy Matt? Who is the man who can go into all these nations and get people to dance with him like that? Love, love, love, love, LOVE this video! ...Retha

  17. Gosh, thank you. I always enjoy reading your blog, but today was particularly inspiring.

  18. It says so much about a person (aka you :) that when they are down or have been through a tough time that what they focus on is giving joy to others. Merci and yes, I most certainly am smiling and even have a little dorky tear on my cheek!

  19. Such a beautiful post! YOWZERS!!!! Wonderful! And your birdhouse is to die for!

  20. How wonderful! A window seat with an Aberdeen Angus and Matt's latest port of call.

  21. A wonderful collection which made me smile. I hope you have recovered enough to end your forced hibernation. I too love the Brits baking. So entertaining! Enjoy your lovely birdhouse.

  22. Hi there, it's only Yvonne snowed in for real. I told Renee I wanted to see that Budipest hotel and she says we saw it. OHHH dear me I have short term memory loss. Wish i'd forget to eat.
    That Baby does look like a King, so sweet. Glad you the mend. Sending big hugsto you.

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