Miles Apart…

…but close in our hearts.

The month of November and part of October our families were split apart by work responsibilities and other circumstances. Auntie Lolo flew over to be with Jamie while their hubbies were in Arizona on separate assignments. Our grands love it when Auntie Lolo comes to help their mommy.

Everyone made the most of their circumstances.

It’s always better together.

We love it when Auntie Lolo comes to visit, too.

While our sons were in Arizona in different parts of the state they managed to drive the distance and get together for some much needed R & R together.

“Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! It is like the precious oil on the head, running down on the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes! It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion! For there the Lord has commanded the blessing, life forevermore.”

Psalm 133

These two with their work responsibilities keeping us apart are with us in spirit. Here they are at a marathon Lord of the Rings viewing party playing the part with their hair and attire.

Did I ever mention our daughter knows and writes Elvish. It’s a skill that will take her far in life be fun to pull out at the right times in life like a Lord of the Rings party or at the grave of J.R.R. Tolkien in 2004…Katie would not let us leave Oxford till we found Tolkien’s grave. This was no small feat! Here we are at Wolvercote Cemetery in North Oxford at the graveside where he and his wife are buried. His son is buried here, also.  Katie left a note in Elvish, (yes, she learned to write and speak Tolkien’s Elvish).

1889 – 1971
1892 – 1973

This Thanksgiving our Westside kids will stay on the westside. Our eastside kids will be at our house for Thanksgiving along with my sister and her hubby and Jamie’s mom, also known as Granny to our Grands. Nine at the table giving thanks for all that we have been given and all the love we share.

My Blog is One Year Old March 3rd!

Update: The name drawn to receive the Butterfly necklace is Rosemary from Seasonings of the Heart! I’ll contact you.  Thanks to everyone for your kind words and visiting my party!

Happy Birthday Happy Wonderer!

So I contemplated how we should celebrate the anniversary of that day.

Should I serve one of my Russian favorites that my mom bakes, Roolyet? Make sure you roll your tongue on the roo part of the word.


Or maybe I could serve this dessert I’ve made that is so simple and I’ll include the directions below.

But in the great Hobbit Birthday Tradition I decided I would give away a gift to celebrate. The winning of this gift is open to all my regular bloggy friends and bloggers who participate in the same weekly memes I do. All you have to do is to leave a comment and make sure you include a good email address so I can contact you if you win. If you’re a guy I’m sorry that this is so feminine but if you win maybe you could give it to your wife, mother, sister, or friend.

I thought this was appropriate for the hope of Spring and new life it brings.

So thanks for stopping by my party and take time to comment and enter the drawing. It’s been a fun year for me getting to know all about blogging. I appreciate the friendships I’ve developed and am grateful for y’all.

ellen b.

Easy directions for individual trifle like desserts…

Cook one larger package of Vanilla pudding (not instant) according to package directions then put plastic wrap right on the surface of the pudding and let it cool in the refrigerator. While the pudding is cooling wash and cut 1 large carton of fresh strawberries into bite size pieces. Put them into a bowl and sprinkle sugar on top of them to make them juicier and sweeter. After the pudding has gotten cold whip up 2 cups heavy whipping cream (I add 1/4 -1/2 tsp. pure almond extract to the cream). Save some of the whipping cream to top the desserts and fold in the rest of the whipped cream into the cold pudding. Now all you have to do is assemble the individual trifles. Put some of the strawberries in the bottom of a fun glass or glass bowl, then add some store bought pound cake torn into pieces or angel food cake torn into pieces, next put some of the pudding mixture then keep layering in this same order. Top with a dollop of whip cream and a strawberry.  Simple and refreshing and yummy. (You could also make the layers in a Large Trifle bowl)

Photobucket is holding all my photos from 2007-2015 hostage. I’m working on updating my blog posts very slowly.

Know & Tell Friday ~

Question 1
I can’t bear the sound of_________.

A smoke detector going off when there isn’t a fire. Ouch hurts the ears. We have one that goes off when the bathroom gets steamy.  I also can’t bear the sound of someone being criticized without mercy and love.

Question 2
I would love to time-travel back to_________.

My husband says he’s really reluctant to go back to the age before the flush toilet.  :0) But he doesn’t have a blog so I guess I better answer this one. I would like to go back and sit in on an Inklings evening at The Eagle and Child (Bird and the Baby). It would be fun to hear Lewis and Tolkien read from their works in progress.

My husband and daughter outside The Eagle and Child in Oxford,  England.

Question 3
Shop alone, shop with mom, or shop with friends?
If I’m doing serious shopping I prefer to be alone. A fun shopping day at Goodwill I like to share with my loved ones…

My sister Lana in the book section of one of our favorite Goodwill’s in Bellevue, Washington.
Question 4
Worst movie ever?
Oh this is an easy one for me. Ishtar hands down is the worst movie ever. I think Dustin Hoffman and Warren Beatty were in it. From the 80’s. There have been many lousy movies but I don’t watch many to be able to judge them.
Question 5 (More of a poll)
Have you ever had your heart broken (by the opposite sex…not by a family member, or close friend)
Oh yes, it was high school, when I thought I was in love, and I was dumped. Thank God from whom all blessings flow, that I was dumped….

Bonus Questions
Question 6
In what area of your life have you felt the most judged (by others or even self condemnation)
My verbal communication skills have been a challenge for me. I do a lot better with writing my thoughts. So when I share deep thoughts or feelings verbally and it comes out wrong I feel the most vulnerable and judged.

Question 7
(relates to number 6) Are you now free from that judgment, and how did you get free if you are?

Over the years I have learned to let people know about my challenge verbally. This has helped them be more patient in letting me express myself more clearly.

What is one new way you could be a blessing to your pastor (or other ministers) this year? I think the most effective way I can bless my pastor and other ministers is to pray for them faithfully and let them know that I am praying for them.

~For more Know and Tell or to join in click here.

Photobucket is holding all my photos I stored with them from 2007-2015 hostage. They have blacked out all those photos on my blog posts. OH BOTHER! I’m slowly cleaning up my posts.


ABC Wednesday ~ E is for…

E is for…

This is a sitting room in a Model Home in our neighborhood. I was tempted to nab the pillow with my initial on it but I controlled myself and resisted my Evil side…

 Ellen b. and one of our favorite Saturday walks at Emma Wood State Beach in Ventura, California.


E is for the Ebb of the tide


E is for Edinburgh

Dear and Ellen B. in Edinburgh


the elephant house in Edinburgh


An Epitaph for J.R.R. Tolkien and his wife in Oxford, England.

For more ABC Wednesday photos head over to Mrs. Nesbitt.

Photobucket is holding all my photos I stored with them from 2007-2015 hostage. They have blacked out all those photos on my blog posts. OH BOTHER! I’m slowly cleaning up my posts.

A Meme about Books

 Willow from Willow’s Cottage tagged me for a meme about Books. I had to think a while on this one and I’m sure my answers might change as time goes on or as my memory clears here and there…

The Bible would fill the bill for many of these answers for me but I’m going to answer with books written by human beings…

1. A book that has changed your life.

I loved Willow’s answer about Dick and Jane. I too remember how thrilled I was to be able to read those books, hold them in my hand. I even remember the smell, putting in the book mark, not wanting my reading time to ever end but I’m going to come up with something different…

I’m going to say that being able to read and enjoying reading and reading a variety of books through my life has changed my life for the better. From Dick and Jane, to the Little House on the Prairie Series, The Freddy the Pig Series, some classics, some good Christian non-fiction, George MacDonald, C.S. Lewis, Tolkien, Stephen Lawhead, R.C. Sproul. That might be cheating but I really can’t point to one book except the Bible that has changed my life all by itself.

2. A book you read more than once

Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit both by Tolkien, The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, Byzantium by Stephen Lawhead, The Harry Potter Series

(and of course all those childrens books that I read over and over and over to my kids)

3. A book you would take to a desert island.

Before I answer I was wondering… What is a desert Island? A deserted Island? An Island that doesn’t get rainfall? Anyway it for sure doesn’t sound like somewhere I’d want to be so maybe I would take a book I can escape into and be inspired by like,

The Lord of the Rings

4. A book that made you laugh.

Lots of them have but right now I am reading Anne of Green Gables and it has made me laugh a lot.

5. A book that made you cry

The last time I read the Lord of the Rings and got to the last page I closed the book and wept and thanked God that He gave someone such a talent to write like that. I also cried at the end of the last Harry Potter Book…

6. A book you wish you had written

Something classified as being a classic. But honestly I don’t know if I’d be comfortable living with such brilliance. So maybe a beloved children’s book like The Pokey Little Puppy.

7. A book you wish had not been written.

I’m drawing a blank here. There is a lot of trash out there in the form of books.

8. Two books you are at present reading.

Right now besides the book of Hebrews (I’m on a quest to try to read every book of the Bible 20x before moving on to the next) I am reading Anne of Green Gables.

9. Two books you are going to read.

I’m on a reading children’s classics kick. I’m going to read The Wind in the Willows. Then I just got an Elizabeth Goudge book called The Child From the Sea that I’ll be reading too.

10. A book you read and never figured out.

Oh this is an easy one for me. I so enjoy George MacDonald but one of his books just bewildered me. It’s called Lilith. It’s one of his fantasy books. If anyone has read it and wants to explain it to me, I’m all ears. I really think I get along better with his regular fiction not his fantasy…

So there you have it. If anyone would like to join in on this meme please do and let me know when you do…

Wildflowers in Winter Week Three ~ Literary

All of these photos of Spring flowers were taken in England. The third photo on the top of the collage is of a Fritillaria meleagris which grow wild on the grounds of Magdalene College in Oxford. This photo was taken on Addison’s Walk, a footpath along the grounds and River Cherwell. When we were on this trip I wasn’t a blogger yet. If I was, I would have taken more and better photos of this wonderful flower. I’ll add a google image of a closeup so you can see it better. The 1st photo I believe are Anenome nemerosa. The second daffodils. The fourth are Pink Pom Pom Aster? Any real gardeners and flower buffs can correct me if I’m wrong, please.

Fritillaria meleagris

While on one of our trips in England we stayed on the Farm in the center picture in the Lake District. This was the first time I ever experienced hearing a Cuckoo Bird. I was amazed and excited to realize it really says “cuckoo, cuckoo”. Then after hearing the cuckoo from our room at the Bed and Breakfast we got to see some of these cuckoos as they flew from tree to tree on one of our walks. This brings me to the poem about Spring and Flowers and the Cuckoo that I chose to share for week 3 of Wildflowers in Winter. I would highly recommend a walking tour in the Lake District or the Cotswolds in late Spring and early summer.

To The Cuckoo

~ by William Wordsworth

O BLITHE New-comer! I have heard,
I hear thee and rejoice.
O Cuckoo! shall I call thee Bird,
Or but a wandering Voice?

While I am lying on the grass
Thy twofold shout I hear,
From hill to hill it seems to pass,
At once far off, and near.

Though babbling only to the Vale,
Of sunshine and of flowers,
Thou bringest unto me a tale
Of visionary hours.

Thrice welcome, darling of the Spring!
Even yet thou art to me
No bird, but an invisible thing,
A voice, a mystery;

The same whom in my school-boy days
I listened to; that Cry
Which made me look a thousand ways
In bush, and tree, and sky.

To seek thee did I often rove
Through woods and on the green;
And thou wert still a hope, a love;
Still longed for, never seen.

And I can listen to thee yet;
Can lie upon the plain
And listen, till I do beget
That golden time again.

O blessed Bird! the earth we pace
Again appears to be
An unsubstantial, faery place;
That is fit home for Thee!

I’m adding two photos of my husband and our daughter and myself with our daughter on Addison’s Walk on the grounds of Magdalene College where Tolkien and C.S. Lewis would walk and talk.

For more literary contributions to Wildflowers in Winter Week 3 click here.

Photobucket is holding all my photos I stored with them from 2007-2015 hostage. They have blacked out all those photos on my blog posts. OH BOTHER! I’m slowly cleaning up my posts.

The Four Loves ~ C.S. Lewis ~ Quote


 This quote is from The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis. My friend Jan sent it to Jody and I as it describes what happens in close friendships between 3 or more people. I love this quote and I hope it will augment your idea of friendship. I chose this book to illustrate this quote because the 3 friends Lewis speaks of are pictured on the cover.

Lamb says somewhere that if, of three friends (A, B, and C), A should die, then B loses not only A but “A’s part in C,” while C loses not only A but “A’s part in B.” In each of my friends there is something that only some other friend can fully bring out. By myself I am not large enough to call the whole man into activity; I want other lights than my own to show all his facets. Now that Charles is dead, I shall never again see Ronald’s reaction to a specifically Caroline joke. Far from having more of Ronald, having him “to myself” now that Charles is away, I have less of Ronald. Hence true Friendship is the least jealous of loves. Two friends delight to be joined by a third, and three by a fourth, if only the newcomer is qualified to become a real friend. They can then say, as the blessed souls say in Dante, “Here comes one who will augment our loves.” For in this love “to divide is not to take away.” Of course the scarcity of kindred souls – not to mention practical considerations about the size of rooms and the audibility of voices – set limits to the enlargement of the circle; but within those limits we possess each friend not less but more as the number of those with whom we share him increases. In this, Friendship exhibits a glorious “nearness by resemblance” to Heaven itself where the very multitude of the blessed (which no man can number) increases the fruition which each has of God. For every soul, seeing Him in her own way, doubtless communicates that unique vision to all the rest. That, says an old author, is why the Seraphim in Isaiah’s vision are crying “Holy, Holy, Holy” to one another (Isaiah VI, 3) The more we thus share the Heavenly Bread between us, the more we shall all have.”

Tolkien ~ The Shire ~ Quotes

Bilbo Baggins – The Hobbit, Chapter 2
“Bother burgling and everything to do with it! I wish I was at home in my nice hole by the fire with the kettle just beginning to sing!”

“This is the hour of the Shire-folk, when they arise from their quiet fields to shake the towers and the counsels of the Great.”

Still round the corner there may wait
A new road or a secret gate
And though I oft have passed them by
The day will come at last when I
Shall take the hidden paths that run
West of the Moon and East of the Sun

Britain with Lewis, Tolkien, Austen and (Monty Python!)

For our daughter Katie’s high school graduation in 2004, “Dear” and I took her to Great Britain. Katie is a reader, a learner, a writer, a poet and an artist. We asked her what she’d want to see and she came up with the brilliant idea of following some of her favorites around the Isle! The following is a photo log of our trip that we can highly recommend to all lovers of Hobbits, Inklings, Literary Giants, 19th Century England, Harry Potter, and wacky Holy Grail enthusiasts!

The Eagle and Child (The Bird and Baby) Oxford

We set out from our first B & B base in Cheltenham to tour Oxford. Our first stop was The Eagle and Child (The Bird and the Baby) where the Inklings would meet and discuss their current writings, thoughts, etc.

The pictures on the wall are of C. S. Lewis, Tolkien, and other Inklings, plus letters, etc. We had a bite to eat and a pint was raised to toast our respected authors! “It comes in pints?”

Addison’s Walk

“Dear” and Katie on Addison’s Walk. This is on the grounds of Magdalan College (pronounced Maudlin) where Tolkien and Lewis would walk and have long conversations, after which C. S. Lewis was converted to Christianity. We found it, walked it and reflected on the beauty and wonder of it all!

Tolkien lived at 21 Merton St. after his wife died in 1971.

Katie would not let us leave Oxford till we found Tolkien’s grave. This was no small feat! Here we are at Wolvercote Cemetery in North Oxford at the graveside where he and his wife are buried. His son is buried here, also.  Katie left a note in Elvish, (yes, she learned to write and speak Tolkien’s Elvish).

1889 – 1971
1892 – 1973


Our next excursion took us in search of Hobbits in the Cotswolds. This is the little village of Buckley. While in the Cotswolds we also visited the Hidcote Garden which we highly recommend. We were here in April so gardens were not in their prime. If you get a Heritage pass this garden is part of the deal along with some of the castles and other sights we visited.

Hidcote Manor Garden

We next concentrated on Jane Austen. Our first excursion on this theme took us to Bath. We walked around the city finding the places she stayed and where some of the social gatherings happened in her books. Our prior research and guidebooks explained where these sights were. We imagined being at a dance or performance in these grand halls. We toured the Roman baths, Bath Abbey, and Number One on the Royal Crescent where Austen lived while in Bath. Two of her novels are set in Bath. On a side trip we visited Gloucester Cathedral where parts of Harry Potter movies were filmed.

Jane Austen Center, Bath

We left our first B & B in Cheltenham and headed Northeast to our second B & B in Sheffield. Although Sheffield wasn’t a comfy, cozy, little town it gave us good access to continue following Austen haunts. (I’d definitely pick some place more quaint to stay the next time we tour this area). The photo below is of Chatsworth House. The house Jane Austen based Darcy’s family home after. The new Pride and Prejudice movie actually filmed segments here. We were here in 2004 before the new film.  The estate was quite breathtaking. The small village of Bakewell close by was very reminiscent of  Lambton where Jane and her Aunt and Uncle stayed in Derbyshire.

Chatsworth House (Pemberley House)

“Every disposition of the ground was good; and Elizabeth looked on the whole scene — the river, the trees scattered on its banks, and the winding of the valley, as far as she could trace it — with delight.”

Bakewell (Lambton)

From Sheffield we continued North and a little East to the wonderful walled city of York. We dropped our rental car off here because you do not need a car in this compact city and from here we were taking a train to Edinburgh. We had the coolest walking tour book of this city and we were able to see a lot of things we would have missed without it. York Minster is a beautiful  Gothic Cathedral and we would recommend attending Evensong there.

From York we traveled by train north to Edinburgh. We arrived in Edinburgh found our self catering flat we rented and toured Edinburgh Castle and as much of Edinburgh our tired bodies could endure. We ate at a nice pub where Katie says she had the best hamburger she’s ever eaten.

Edinburgh Castle

 Our main side trip from Edinburgh was by bus to Stirling with a connecting bus to the little town of Doune where you’ll find Castle Doune. Castle Doune is the sight of some of the filming of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. This was a must stop for our daughter Katie. We were the only people at the castle (it was part of our Heritage Pass). To those of you who are familiar with this film you are handed coconut shells to walk around the grounds with. We were throwing out lines from the movie (Run Away, run away!) and making horse clip clop noises (with the coconut shells). They even take a picture of you here and post it on the official web page for Castle Doune and Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Hilarious fun. Back in Edinburgh we were given bad directions to the Elephant Cafe and never found it. So our Harry Potter sightings had to be confined to the outside of Bodleian Library (Oxford) and the outside of Gloucester Cathedral (Gloucester) where filming took place.

Castle Doune

From Edinburgh we took a train straight to London. We were finishing our trip here with so much to see. We walked our feet off. We went to the National Gallery, Westminster Abbey, St. Paul’s Cathedral, The Tower of London (photo), and so much more. We were here for the Queen’s 80th birthday and got to hear and see the cannons speak 80 times! One of my favorite sites in London is the British Library and their Greatest Treasures Room. You’ll see the Gutenberg Bible, Magna Carta, many incredible Sacred Texts, Literary Manuscripts by Austen, Bronte’, Chaucer, etc. Music on loan from the Beatles.  A must see when you’re in London. We included a trip to the theater to see Les Miserables. London was a wonderful culmination to a great tour of Great Britain.

The Tower of London and Tower Bridge

Here’s the main contributor and researcher for our marvelous literary tour of Great Britain.

Katie, our Seattle Girl.

Walking Song

Today the girls and I will be dodging Nazgul cyclists while we walk our trail. Look! I think that’s the Trinity tree! “There and back again” is 6 miles for us.

From J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings

Upon the hearth the fire is red,
Beneath the roof there is a bed;
But not yet weary are our feet,
Still round the corner we may meet

A sudden tree or standing stone
That none have seen but we alone.
Tree and flower and leaf and grass,
Let them pass! Let them pass!

Hill and water under sky
Pass them by! Pass them by!
Still round the corner there may wait
A new road or a secret gate,

And though we pass them by today,
Tomorrow we may come this way
And take the hidden paths that run
Towards the Moon or to the Sun.

Apple, thorn, and nut and sloe,
Let them go! Let them go!
Sand and stone and pool and dell,
Fare you well! Fare you well!

Home is behind, the world ahead,
And there are many paths to tread
Through shadows to the edge of night,
Until the stars are all alight.

Then world behind and home ahead,
We’ll wander back to home and bed.
Mist and twilight, cloud and shade,
Away shall fade! Away shall fade!

Fire and lamp and meat and bread,
And then to bed! And then to bed!