Monday, November 29, 2010

Life Made Lovely: Lovely Kate Middleton

...Kate, the prettiest Kate in Christendom
Kate of Kate Hall, my
super-dainty Kate,
For dainties are all Kates, and therefore, Kate,
this of me, Kate of my consolation.--
William Shakespeare, The Taming of the

If anybody brings style and glamor back to England's royal family, it will be Kate Middleton--Prince William's fiancee, who is poised to inherit Princess Diana's crown as the Princess of Style.

Kate is lovely, has a beautiful figure, and looks good in anything she wears.

I can definitely see the public's fascination with her growing, just as it did for Princess Di. If you have a coffee-table book of photos of Diana's fashions, get ready to nudge it over a bit to make room for your Kate book, which is surely forthcoming.

Every woman I've talked with who sees pictures of Kate says wistfully, "I wish everyone wore hats..." or "I wish hats were in fashion..."

Women seem to be afraid to take a leap and bring this style back, but really, don't hats look gorgeous?

How classy is this? Love the hat, love the pink, love the style of the jacket.

Love. This. Everything about it--the smart little suit, the scarves, the jaunty little beret. Adorable.

Great flowy skirt. She has really pretty legs, too. I've noticed in some of her dressier shots, she's wearing some type of pantyhose that look so

shimmery and flattering...I'd love to know what they are!

Kiss me
Kate, we will be married o' Sunday
.--William Shakespeare, The Taming of the

I'm participating today in "Life Made Lovely"--click on the icon to find out more!


Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Fragile Curtain

A near-tragedy on Thanksgiving Day recalls a meaningful book--and a vivid truth

Nearly thirty years ago, I read a book that made a huge impact on me. It was The Fragile Curtain, by Karen Burton Mains.

Shortly after reading the book, I did a radio interview with Karen, and I've never forgotten it, or the message of the book.

Life is fragile. The curtain separating us from life and death is very thin.

Karen had written the book after a trip to refuge camps around the world--and the near-death of one of her children-- deeply impressed her with that truth. This from her website:

In the spring of 1980, Karen made a traveling survey of the refugee camps of the world. She went to interpret the pain and suffering of these people; instead they showed her the meaning of her own life—and of yours and mine.

There in the crowded refugee warehouses, Karen saw the beauty common to us all. The wonder of birth. the sacredness of words— "I love you," "I'm sorry," "I want you." And the joy of a welcome home: the glad clamor of hello as a new group of refugees arrive at a camp, resurrected from death and despair to begin again.

The six-week journey became a pilgrimage through two worlds: the one of the camps and the thousands and the backyard world of home and family.

Karen wrote:

"I have lived all my life behind a fragile curtain, formed by the small worlds I know: backyard worlds, the familiar ground of home and work.

"Illusion is my curtain's name, the illusion that all is well, that I am safe. Neither is it mine alone. . . .

"We all live behind a curtain of our own illusion. Seeing, we do not see..."

Several times in my life, I've come face to face with the fragility of that curtain. This past Thanksgiving Day was just such a time.

Around 6 PM, we were laughing and eating and enjoying the fellowship of our friends Ray and Teri and their children.

Around 9 PM, we were in the emergency room of a local hospital after Ray collapsed while playing basketball. For hours, we were uncertain if he would live or die.

Thanks to CPR given to him by his son and a friend of the family, the timely arrival of EMT personnel, and many prayers, Ray is indeed alive today.

Ray suffered a major heart attack. Yesterday a stent was inserted when an angiogram revealed an artery was 100 per cent blocked.

While Thursday night we were frightened and tearful, tonight we laughed with Ray and praised God for miracles.

As I'm sure anyone who has had a heart attack knows, Ray and his family have a long road ahead as they deal with the aftermath of this traumatic physical event. But Ray is with us, he knows us, he is living and breathing and smiling.

Once again, I am powerfully struck with the immense importance of family, friends, and relationships as we travel this earth.

This quote from the back cover of The Fragile Curtain sums it up very well:

"Karen dares us all to look at our own lives: to assess the good-and the bad. To celebrate the joy and the blessing of family life. To be thankful that despite sorrow and suffering we dare to begin again."

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Visit to Stockholm Inn

Our friends Ray and Teri and their family, who live in Dallas, are visiting us for Thanksgiving, and we're having a wonderful time. Today we went to one of our favorite restaurants, the Stockholm Inn.

The restaurant has a new addition that includes rooms decorated with the artwork of Swedish painter Carl Larsson, and a gift shop full of charming Swedish and other Scandinavian treasures.

The Stockholm Inn boasts some of the most delicious Swedish pancakes I've ever tasted, and we all thoroughly enjoyed our meal.

I thought I'd share some pictures from our visit. Enjoy!

(Click on pictures to view them larger)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Look at the beautiful music!


With a blog title like "Notes in the Key of Life," you have to guess that I love music.

Well, I also love images that have to do with music--musical notes, pianos, violins, harps (which my daughter-in-law Daylyn plays like an angel), basically all things music--so I'm sharing some today that I've run across on the internet.

Enjoy looking at the beautiful music!


I'd LOVE to have a cup like this one!



Art by Vassantha

The harp is an instrument that looks as beautiful as it sounds...


This is from a beautiful blog called The French have to check it out. Isn't this a cute idea for wrapping small gifts? You can sometimes pick up old sheet music for really cheap at garage and estate sales.


Have a very musical day!

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Magic Foods for Better Blood Sugar


OK, maybe with Thanksgiving just around the corner you might not be thinking about eating for good health. But...

I've blogged several times about a book that has really helped me in my battle to manage Type 2 diabetes: Reader's Digest's Magic Foods for Better Blood Sugar.

Just in case you don't want to plunk down money for this wonderful book, I thought I would share with you the list of Magic Foods.

Some of these--like Jerusalem artichokes (?!), I haven't tried yet. Others have become staples of my diet, and I do want to incorporate as many as possible into my eating.

So, for the inquiring minds that want to know? Here's the list (and who knows, you may be able to incorporate some of these into your Thanksgiving festivities!):

(By the way, there's no significance to the varying font sizes--I just did that to break up the visual monotony of the list.)

photo by Alain Chirkov via



brown rice
Brussels sprouts
chicken and turkey


citrus fruits
Jerusalem artichokes


olive oil
peaches, apricots, plums
peanut butter
pumpernickel bread
rye bread
sourdough bread
soy foods
spinach and other dark greens
sweet potatoes

wheat germ
whole wheat bread and flour

Saturday, November 20, 2010

What murder in a tiny English village has to do with me

The Internet has made our world a much smaller place, and yesterday that fact was illustrated to me with a clarity that I found intriguing and, yes, amazing.

Yesterday, nursing a sinus infection and holed up in my house for the day, I decided to blog.

My book blog, Cindy's Book Club, has woefully few readers (please DO check it out sometime!), and I've been trying to come up with interesting and appealing topics to post.

I decided to blog about a couple of favorite childhood books and how I found copies of them on the internet.

Both books, Red Knights from Hy Brasil and Auntie Robbo, are out of print and fairly obscure, so I was delighted to reclaim them.

You can read more about those books here and here.


While taking pictures of the books, I was struck once again by a sticker on the inside of Red Knights from Hy Brasil.

(My own copy of the book, which ended up being somehow lost, was purchased circa 1965 or 1966 at a small Christian bookstore in Beirut, Lebanon, where my parents were missionaries at the time.)

As you can see, the sticker shows that the book was awarded to Peter Torn at St. Martin's in Owston Ferry, on Christmas 1963. It's even signed by the vicar.

I found that charmingly English, and I could just picture this little British lad being handed the book that I held in my hands 40 years later (I received the book from in October 2003).

So what does all this have to do with murder?

Well, yesterday I got curious and decided to Google Peter Torn, St. Martin's, and Owston Ferry.

Here's what I came up with--a June 2003 article from the Yorkshire Post about the funeral of a girl named Laura Torn:
Almost the entire village of Owston Ferry, near Scunthorpe, turned out to pay tribute to the 18-year-old whose body was found in Misson, Nottinghamshire, last month following a huge search.

Scores of mourners filled St Martin's Church, while the sermon was broadcast over loudspeakers to those who could not get inside the historic building.

...Schoolfriends, neighbours and family held each other and police officers who searched for Laura also turned out in tribute.

The church was packed to capacity by the time Laura's coffin was brought in to the church, followed by her weeping family. Her father, Peter Torn, fought back tears as he held wife Heather and 13-year-old Martin.

Without a doubt, this is "my" Peter Torn. He was 49 years old when his 18-year-old daughter was murdered.

Further Google searches turned up follow-up stories about the case. In April 2004, 31-year-old Guy Beckett, Laura's boss at a local pub, admitted to strangling her to death, apparently enraged when she broke off their secret relationship.

In May 2004, Beckett was sentenced to life in prison.

Even more meaningful...

Reading the story of Peter Torn's loss and grief somehow made the fact that I own what used to be his book even more meaningful to me.

On Christmas in 1963, little Peter Torn was handed a copy of the book that was to be one of my own favorite childhood books, and the book that singlehandedly started my lifelong obsession with Ireland and all things Irish.

Forty years later, just a few months after the death of Peter Torn's daughter, I held his copy of that book in my hands.

If Peter Torn ever somehow stumbles across this post on the Internet, I want him to know that my heart goes out to him and his family for their terrible loss. It's been seven years since he lost his precious daughter, but a parent never really gets over their grief.

My hope is that he finds comfort in the God he learned about as a little boy at St. Martin's Church in Owston Ferry, England. And each time I pick up his copy of The Red Knights from Hy Brasil I will send up a prayer for him and his family.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Thanksgiving Memories

The table ready for Thanksgiving at my mom's house, 2009

Mocha with Linda's Flashback Friday today calls for delving into some Thanksgiving problem, since Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays!

Thanksgiving during my growing-up years was always a wonderful celebration. Turkey was the star of the show, always made delectably by my mother.

It wasn't until I grew up and moved away that I really appreciated the fact that my mom had to get up early in the morning, while we were all still snoozing, to get the bird in the oven.

Mashed potatoes, gravy, pumpkin pie, and my mom's 24-hour marshmallow salad were always featured on the menu...and yes, football was always part of the festivities.

Growing up in a Christian home, we always took the time on Thanksgiving to reflect on our blessings and give thanks to God.

When I got married and moved to Illinois, Thanksgiving almost always meant a Swanson family celebration, usually at the the home of one of my husband's older brothers. My sisters-in-law are all amazing cooks, and any Swanson gathering means some delicious eats.

Of course, the turkey reigns supreme, but pies and fudge and all kinds of desserts offer temptation. One of my favorite dishes at Swanson Thanksgivings is my sister-in-law Gail's sweet potatoes, sauteed in butter.

There are always a variety of delicious vegetable casseroles on the menu as well.

If everyone has enough energy and it's not too cold out, we often make time for a walk to make us feel a little better about consuming so many Thanksgiving calories.
And of course, you'll find many family members watching football on TV.

Many times, I've had a smaller Thanksgiving celebration for my immediate family.

A few years ago, my son and his wife and my little grandson Payton were able to come from Texas. We actually had dinner at one of my sister-in-law's homes, but it was my first Thanksgiving as a Type 2 diabetic, and I made some diabetic-friendly desserts--including low-carb pumpkin pie--that were absolutely delicious.

I try to include at least one or two of these at every holiday meal, so I can indulge without feeling too guilty!

My mom's dining room table

My grandson Payton and my niece Arden at their own little table at my mom's house, last Thanksgiving. They love this table!

This Thanksgiving, my son Justin and my daughter Elizabeth will be home for the holiday, which will make it wonderfully special!

The table in my mom's entryway, decorated for the holiday

Besides Flashback Friday, I'm also linking back to Home Sanctuary's Company Girl Coffee today. Click on either icon to participate!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Thursday Thirteen: 13 Famous People Named Cindy or Cynthia

1) Model Cindy Crawford

2) Actress Cindy Williams

Ron Howard and Cindy Williams

3) Model (?) Cindy Margolis

4) Actress/dancer Cynthia Rhodes

Cynthia Rhodes dancing with Patrick Swayze

5) Actress Cynthia Nixon

6) Designer Cynthia Rowley

7) Politician Cynthia McKinney

8) Former Beatle wife Cynthia Lennon

9) Activist Cindy Sheehan

10) Columnist Cindy Adams

11) (Spelling variation) Singer Cyndi Lauper

12) Christian singer Cindy Morgan

Cindy Morgan

13) "Ferris Bueller" actress Cindy Pickett

"I don't recall him being absent nine times...." Cindy Pickett in Ferris Bueller's Day Off

And a bonus: A song by Tammany Hall called "Cindy"--see this animated version.

Go here to participate in Thursday Thirteen!

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