Monday, December 31, 2018

Gardening At Staffordshire Cottage

My dear friends,

Good morning! Might you pour some tea and let us sit and have a little visit.

 Did you have a most extraordinary weekend? Over the weekend I worked mostly in the garden while the chicken ladies strutted about. I let Oliver about in the garden for the day while I pulled weeds, cleaned the chicken coop, and raked up limbs and debris.

Friday, December 28, 2018

How To Create A Cottage Victorian Larder And Why We Psychologically Organize Our Environment

My dear friends, 

I'm having some breakfast English tea this morning. I also took a caffeine tablet to give me some energy. I am completely out of zip fizz, so I am making due.

Before I begin the larder discussion, I thought that we might first have a chat about organization through a psychological aspect. You know full well I love a great post about organizing but you also know I have a tendency to dive deep. Particulars are never really about the external forces. All things in this expansive universe are about internal connections. My blog is about the fun, whimsical and fairytale, but will always strive to use it as a way to educate as well.  I believe many wonder about the same things that I do. 

Thursday, December 27, 2018

How To Make Martha Stewart's Circa: 1996 Pecan Cranberry Biscotti Receipt

My dear friends,

Might you pour some tea? This morning I thought I'd share with you a receipt I have been making since 1996.  {the word receipt was first used in the medieval 14th century in replace of recipe.}

I'm not sure if you are a fan of Martha Stewart, but I am most assuredly and have been since my late teens.

When I was first a homemaker at the age of 19 I had a subscription to Martha's magazine. I would also invest in Martha's line of goods and lifestyle home management with vigour. The little money that I would acquire from clients, whether sewing, decorating projects, organising, or my craft booth, I would set aside to purchase a Martha Stewart item. It's unfortunate that I no longer possess those things after my divorce, but I know I will have a whole collection again. There is no fretting here. {smile}

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

The Conundrum With Personal Blogging

My dear friends,

Pour some tea and let's have a visit. I am having some breakfast English tea.

I think that I have perhaps touched upon this subject beforehand, but I thought I' do go into a bit more depth. I love a good dissection of the heart {smile}.

As I have collectively been going over in my mind the events that have occurred this {2018} year,  I have wanted to share with you my thoughts, take away's, conclusions, opinions and predictions about personal blogging.

Monday, December 24, 2018

How A Real Life Mermaid Keeps Her Balance


My dear friends, 

Might you pour some tea and let us visit? Did you happen to see any of my latest YouTube videos? The most darling portion of the video is Oliver.  He seems to be a crowd-pleaser.

My dear friends, I wanted to talk to you about daily balance. Do you have a daily balancing/nurturing ritual?

Sunday, December 23, 2018

The Art Of Creating A Delightful Cottage Bathroom

My dear friends,

Might you pour some tea and let us visit. It's been dribbling rain for hours on the beautiful coast of Florida, and the chicken ladies are bathing in the puddles. I think they love the opportunity to root as the rain has a way of creating an upwelling of worms. I do love it so, as it gives me a lovely excuse to write and just relax with my Beloved gardener.
 I have been longing for a few years to actually write up this tiny post, but for some reason, I've not done it until now. Perhaps it's because I had wanted to wait until I did both bathrooms and make it a much longer post, but I digress.

I love doing little things to the cottage, and I have been thinking that if I started posting my projects, it might inspire me to create more and motivate me to get going. I spent the first year of living here at the cottage and did several things and then I just tapered off.
 I began by plastering the walls with sheetrock all-purpose joint compound. The walls had a 70's wallpaper, but instead of removing the wallpaper, I just plastered over it. I used a 4.5 gallon for the whole bathroom.
The light is original. I removed it, spray painted it, then replaced it with Edison bulbs that i picked up from Walmart

After I covered the walls with compound, I then painted over the whole room with some flat white paint from Sherwin Williams. I then washed over the entire room with a watered-down umber craft paint.
The mirror was found in the storage room when I moved into the cottage, so I just added some boat rope and hung it. The linen fabric is some stash leftover from a sewing project. I already had the mermaid hook, so i hung it for a towel hook.
The bath is super tiny, and there is no room for a cabinet for towels, wash clothes or the like, so I found this old crate at an antique store for 5 dollars and thought it'd work for a towel holder. I can fit 6 towels. On the back of the toilet, I placed a basket with rolled wash clothes and hand towels. I have a rule about towels. I only use white. They'll always match no matter the decor colours and style, and they can be bleached, which makes them smell wonderful.
Some pretty flowers to liven your day wherever you may be.
All in all, I spent about 12 dollars on the whole bath update. The $12.00 was for the Edison bulbs. I had 3 already and just had to buy one.

I shall write again soon. May you have a lovely holiday season.

Most affably yours til my next swim, Raquelxxx

Friday, December 21, 2018

Winter Solstice And Christmas At Staffordshire Cottage

My dear friends, 

"Wishing loving wishes for a Happy Christmas
I know you wish me merry
all the season through
and so with all my heart dear
here's the same to you."~{By: Helen Marion Burnside from a Raphael tuck card, d. 1890}

Might you pour some tea? I'm sipping some spiced cinnamon in hopes to charge my energy levels. I chose this photo because it reminded me of winter Solstice and I simply adore anything from England.

That reminds me of a darling little lady that was living in this charming cottage in Sorrento, Fl. I had made an appointment to see the cottage as I was interested in purchasing. At the time I lived in Orlando, which was a short ways from Sorrento. It looked similar to this home in the photo. I think it's interesting that even though the little lady of the house had lived in the states for decades, she was still inwardly drawn to a cottage such as the ones in Europe; her home of origin. There's not many in the states that are roof thatched and stone, that I've known of, so anytime I find them in America I am so tickled. 
Courtesy of Pinterest
Tasha Tudor and one of her corgis.

 Doesn't Tasha just ring from the rooftops of holiday "Take Joy" as she was so often quoted.
This was a lovely book, that has pretty poetry inside, along with many duplicates of Christmas cards in the Victorian era. It also came with a Victorian CD of music for the Victrola. 
I always hang traditional Brach's candy canes upon the tree. All during the month of December, the children would select a candy cane from the tree as a delightful confection. They've always appreciated itimmensely. Since the divorce and as I've been away from my children on the holidays they have told me numerous times how much I made their Christmas"s special. 
 I wanted to have a small tree this year to emulate the Victorians. I love the tabletop trees so much. They are also a delightful alternative if you have small children or bunnies such as myself.
 I made a few loaves of homemade white bread, and a friend sent over some homemade brew. It was so yummy. It had a hint of a root as I appreciate the taste of root beer.
 My ideas seem to run away with me each year. I get so excited about all i plan to do but fail to accomplish it all. I am fine with it these days. I think all too often women get carried away with the appearances of having the preeminent-decorated home, the perfect gifts being given. It is a bit too much in my collective opinion. I only say that now as life experiences have taught me a great deal about outward appearances. All during the raising of my children they received lovely stuffed stockings and three gifts. I choose three as I felt it eliminated the spoiling of the children and it's the same amount that Christ was given on his birth. I quite wonder at times if people really know that the birth of Jesus wasn't actually Christmas, it was in April.  They opened one gift on Christmas Eve and it was always a set of pajamas that I had hand sewn them. They all matched accordingly. It was such fun to make them. Preparing the selected fabrics. Would I choose gingham, flannel, tartan plaid? It was some of the happiest times as a mother. When I was busily being a homemaker, I was most contented.  I really enjoyed all the traditions. I believe it's particularly important for me to have traditions, as I felt as a yound little girl I don't recall any traditions except for Christmas Eve my mother read," twas the night before christmas" to my brothers and I.
I found this needlepoint stocking at the thrift store a few weeks ago and i couldn't love it more. I want to keep a lookout for another one for myself. This one I assigned as my beloved gardeners. He loves the colour green and it feels a tad more masculine.

Another close up of my little mermaid ornaments. I love them ever so much! My dear friends Suzanne, Janis and my Aunt Dianne have all gifted me one. My mother bought one for me too.  I'm so appreciative for the ladies that have been so warm and comforting to me along my journey.  That is the true definition of what Christmas is all about in my eyes. 

Thursday, December 20, 2018

The Art Of A Homemaker

courtesy of Pinterest
My Dear Friends,

I wrote this on my facebook page at one time and thought it was a delightful entry. I wanted to share it with you since leaving social media. 

"It's amazing how lovely common things become if one only knows how to look at them."~Louisa May Alcott

I slowly slip out of my cosy sheets, walk through the softly lit cottage and put the kettle on. I quietly set about my morning routine but firstly, putting on my baby pink robe. I say a silent prayer of appreciation thanking the sweet god's there was a time it was all just a dream; a thought in my mind.

I pull the lace curtains and make my way through the cow path to tend the chickens and then sweet Oliver the rabbit. The ladies are now laying small eggs. Though they are small, they are full of taste. May, {our sweet Plymouth Rock} bows down for a back scratch and then they follow suit going about their day. 

I am not in a rush, I plan my household management for the day. I then feel how the inspiration flows to me guiding me gently to paint pretty pictures.

A bit of reading, some spiritual encouragement and now the steaming cup of tea is in my hand. It keeps me warm and cosy with its thick honey. I breathe deeply and bask in the early hour. Soon the cottage will become alive. I am ready for it. I will carefully fix the bed, prepare breakfast, which is my favourite meal of all, fluff the cushions and start the wash. 

My mornings are never stressed, the home is peaceful and beautifully blessed. 

I am living the art of slow. I am a homemaker. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

The Vibrational Power And Art Of A Name Through The Law Of Attraction

My dear frinds,

Might you pour some tea and let us have an insightful discussion on the idea of a name. I am constantly prevailed upon to question particulars in my life, like most of us, we are constantly expanding and wanting to understand what and how things work.

In the last few years, I have become absolutely intrigued with the power of a name. It all began in 2015 when I filed for divorce from my then husband. I set a foot trying to decide what I would do from then on out with regards to my name. Should I change it back to Carter, my maiden name? If I were to get remarried would I legally change it again to my new husband's name? What should I call as myself author/ illustrator? Should I buy the domain name of my new spouse or keep my maiden name no matter what occurred in my life. These were all the things I began to ask myself until the day came that my ex-husband decided to play a bit odious and allow my website to falter. I didn't control the main hub of getting emails directly as he had previously owned my domain emails and website. I then lost 11 years of my previous blog. I was very upset and completely disillusioned as I had spent years creating content. And as you know writing has always been the love of my life.

I pushed forward and then decided to buy my own name, Raquel Carter, feeling as though I wouldn't ever go wrong in owning my own name. I decided straight away that Beatrix Potter and Tasha Tudor both had been married but kept their maiden/surnames through their lives and I would do the same. I also learned as I was purchasing my domain name, just for curiosity i inquired about my newly married name. I discovered a certain someone had purchased it and was domain squatting Raquel Stafford {that's what you call it when people are trying to be vindictive in the cyber world}. I now know this is against the law. I won't go into details, but just know that some people will make faulty decisions as their lives have become impaired due to pain and anger.
I have wanted to share my little story with you, my dear friends {especially women} as a way of curating an inspirational story of happiness and optimism. I will always strive to see the optimistic approach with regards to my life, knowing full well I create my reality and attract all that is present within myself at any given time.

As time has wained I know all that occurred with my name was definitely another learning experience for me. I am so pleased to have experienced the name debacle because it certainly helped me to refine my sense of self-worth and independence. Let me explain a bit further.

Because I wasn't able to buy my married website domain name, It inspired me to reach for more as an altogether stronger woman. For reasons I haven't exactly put my finger on, it created a sense of independence and entrepreneurship within me. As a young child, and obviously being called Raquel Margaret, i had this sense of proudness and confidence that was always with me.

Perhaps, that's what it was about all along. Me gaining back my life through independence and confidence. As a child, I had always felt invincible and I do believe that created an upwelling within me again when I legally had my name changed back to, Raquel Margaret Carter. I am a Stafford also, so I am legal with both names. For me, it has worked out beautifully. I do love being a Stafford as a married woman, but also keeping my independence with my maiden name. Furthermore, I absolutely love my name,  Raquel Margaret. I think it's beautiful and I am named after great women. Raquel Welch, and my aunt Margaret. Both women are divine in my eyes.
After I became a married woman the first time and took my then husbands name I was always called 'So and so's wife which caused me to feel that my identity was tied up in that name. I felt a sense of insecurity as if I wasn't my own person anymore. I felt unsuccessful and separate. So after I left my marriage I noticed when I would think of that name, the attachment to it created a vibrational uneasiness for me. That doesn't mean I feel that way now, and perhaps it's because I have made up my mind, and you should too that a name doesn't define us. It only defines us as much as we allow it to. We create our lives and the conditions surrounding us in accordance to how we would like them to be. Sure we have the power to go through our lives being a victim, by arguing for our limitations.

We have the fullest capacity to use the excuse that we are the way we are because this and that happened to us, or that we have this name as a label. We are altogether different than animals. We have something that animals don't possess, its called a stimulus-response. So we can't scientifically use the excuse that we are born this way or that way. It's simply not true. People like to define their lives in a certain way as it will always feel better to blame our circumstances on something outside of ourselves. It totally makes sense but that doesn't actually make us feel better long term. Just remember it's okay to do things in order for you to feel better short term, but then decide you'll reach for more to better understand your reasoning and logic. It will create such happiness within you when you discover what you're truly all about and name identification is apart of that process. It can be fun if we will just allow it to be. Oftentimes we just need to change our approach to a subject and that's all. Consider it a SELF-LOVE strategy! smile...

I choose to be a strong independent woman and make my life just as I see fit. If there is anything to learn from coming to my blog, it's that we as women get to make up our own rules. Noone can define us or tell us what and how we should be, and for that matter, no one can make us feel bad about our choices. This is a blog of no judgement and full of happiness. I want you to feel happy, creative, inspired, supported, dreamy and most of all loved when you swim here.  We get to make our own rules and no one has to agree with us. That's the beauty of giving oneself love and total acceptance. You want to change your name to mermaid melissa, or little bear or rising sun? I say go for it, do it! You know ultimately what's best for you, and forget the rest. Do not give a rip what another thinks of you. Be strong and confident in yourself. You are absolutely the most beautiful person ever born. The problem is most women forget this over time. I am here to remind you of it, my dear sweet friend, just in case you've forgotten for a moment.
There have been studies done with children and adults alike with regards to names and how they play a vibrational role in their lives. I know names and what someone is called does have an impact. I know of a woman, named Mermaid Melissa. She literally had her name changed legally to Mermaid Melissa. I also know of a family that had a boy that had one name for the first seven years of his life and then one Sunday at church he informed me he had a new name. He told his parents since he was able to talk that his legal name didn't appeal to him. The parents said okay and legally had it changed. The little boy's new name was not a family name nor did it have any genealogical connections. This child literally picked a name he liked and was therefore called the new name from that day forward. I remember hearing of this at church and I thought it was pretty brave of the parents. There were many members that called this family odd and weird because of it. I thought, what judgement. Who cares if someone wants to change their name.
I see the advantage of assigning oneself a new label, or new name. I believe what psychologically happens is that when you have a new name it no longer carries with it the vibrations, failings, or old scripts from your life as the old name does. It's metaphorically like laying all new pipes in a fish pond that's become cloudy from gunk in the old ones. It's modern and therefore you can begin anew in your mind. It creates a new beginning, a fresh start.

I'm curious, have you ever thought about the power of a name?

I shall write again soon.

Most affably yours til my next swim, Raquelxxx

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

The Art Of Allowing, Downton Abbey And Delightful News

Hello dear friends,

Put the kettle on and let's have some tea. My choice this morning is English black tea.
I refer to you as my dear friends, do you know why? I do it for two reasons. The first is that those of you that swim to my blog, are true indeed like my dear friends in reality. I know we are spread out among this great expansive world, but we can each come together through writing. Isn't that the truest nature of friendship? I like that in the old-fashioned days, women would wait each day for a post from their friends. The butler would serve the letters on a silver tray, such as in Downton Abbey. I believe writing brings women together. Another reason for calling you dear friends is because I try to emulate Beatrix Potter.  I absolutely adore that she called persons dear to her "dear friends." I feel a kindred connection to her in many ways.

  I am going to give a break down of the movie when it hits theatres in 2019, so that shall be delightful indeed.
Courtesy of UK archives. Jemima Puddleduck outside of Hilltop.

Courtesy of UK archives. Hilltop in England where Beatrix Potter lived.

Do you have someone that you feel a kindred nature towards? I'd love to hear who yours is.

I wanted to tell you the great news! I heard from the City of Carmel yesterday and they are reviewing my proposal for the Flander's Mansion curatorship. I was so tickled, that I could not keep it from you. It will be months from now until I hear anything else about it. No matter the outcome, I am so happy regardless. I have learned that in the manifesting of anything in life, it's the joy along the journey that helps us in facilitating our dreams and desires. I believe too often we as humans have become so comfortable with believing that in life in order to be happy we must first have the "thing" and then we will be happy. It's the believing and then seeing, instead of the other way around.
Flanders Mansion in Spring.

Flanders Mansion in the evening.

I know my dream of living in Carmel will come true at the perfect appointed time. And whether that is living at Flanders Mansion or another little cottage in the city, I feel confident. I believe so strongly in the Law of Attraction. I think it's oftentimes unfortunate when people go for years and not allow a dream to come true in their life, that they mistakenly believe that they aren't worthy of their desire. This isn't true at all. The only reason someone doesn't manifest their desire is that after they first launch an idea/desire they go to work contradicting it. I know before I began practising the Law of Attraction, I was notorious at doing this. It's because I didn't understand how universal laws worked. I would become tied up in believing that I wasn't worthy of the things I desired. I think that is common among many people especially if having grown up in a religious home, such as I. It can become quite confusing after being raised with contradicting beliefs. I grew up Pentecostal Church of God until I was 17 and then I converted to a Mormon. When I left my marriage in 2015 i stopped practising religionall together.

To be a tad confident about feeling special in life is a very good thing indeed. I do hope you feel as prized a person too, meaning you too shall have all of your dreams come true if you so believe. To believe before we have tangibly seen the proof is a true testament to faith as Christian/religious folks call it.

I spent yesterday rearranging furniture and packing up some things that I feel I've outgrown, such as some pictures on the walls, some old craft items and modern clothing. Remember I spoke to you about clearing out and disembowelling things such as clothes that you don't like wearing or haven't worn in sometime? I was holding onto some shoes that I thought I may wear again, but I averaged the time out and I haven't worn them for over four years. I am therefore donating them to charity. Do you begin feeling that way towards the end of each year as well? I think I am constantly releasing things. I learned to easily release things as I would move so much in my past that to keep every little item would have been quite burdensome.
I found these Victorian granny boots at an antique shop. Even though they were a bit tough getting on, they fit perfectly which is quite rare.

I began working on our little guest bathroom over the weekend. Jeffrey is disembowelling the sink this weekend. I'm going to then add a pedestal sink my dear friend gave to me when I moved in with my parents. The only thing I'll need to purchase is a faucet. I found one on Amazon for $60.00. It has a Victorian flair to it.
My mother and I went looking at old Victorian homes in my neighbourhood. I asked her to snap a photo. 
I decorated my treasure room to coordinate with The Tale of MerryMaid Scarlette Rose. Did you notice the rose colours and the cork garland?

I wanted to leave you to begin your day off on the correct foot with another quote. I do love quotes. They have always inspired me along my life's journey and I hope they too inspire you, sweet friends.

I shall write again soon.

Most affably yours til my next swim, Raquelxxx

Monday, December 17, 2018

The Artistic Approach Of An Author And Illustrator {Beatrix Potter Style}

My dear friends, 

Put the kettle on and let us have a little visit. I'm having some breakfast English tea.

I have been taking many photographs around the garden of myself and the chickens so that I have a bit of a reference point if needs be while I'm writing The Tale of Henny Penny Goody Two~Shoes. In the Beatrix Potter Society letter this morning, there was a bit of controversy over some of her writings. Someone wrote that they had found in Beatrix Potter's books that she had shot a red-tailed squirrel so that she might be able to draw more accurately a squirrel for her storybook "Squirrel Nutkin." I believe it was a misinterpretation and misread. 

I know there have been several times I've read that Tasha Tudor and Beatrix Potter were known to capture little animals and keep them for some time so that they might draw them in their most fundamental nature. I suppose there is no way of complete assurance in knowing whether or not Tasha Tudor or Beatrix Potter actually did kill little animals for their artwork accuracy, but I genuinely doubt it. Capture them, indeed, but to harm them... I think not. 

There are many times that when Beatrix decided she wanted to draw little paintings for her books she actually would go back to the place and ask to borrow certain items so that she might create a perfect depiction. One such time was when she went to friends and asked to borrow the dollhouse in the story The Two Bad Mice. She never had children, I wonder if she had ever desired to have children. I have often wondered about that.

My dear friend Suzanne sent me this Tasha Tudor Garden book, and I was so touched that I cried. Suzanne is such a kind soul. She lives in New England and is close friends with Tasha's actual children. She has the group on Facebook called Take Peace. It's a group created to preserve and keep Tasha's legacy alive. I have the most fun, and it's such a delightful group of women. I think I spoke to you about it once before. I wish there was something like that for Beatrix too.

The Cosmopolitan magazine in the UK has predicted that the most popular little girls baby name in 2019 will be Beatrix. I think Beatrix is an adorable name. I shall continue to dream that my little storybook The Tale of MerryMaid Scarlette Rose will be such as Peter Rabbit, perhaps when I have left this earth. I still have so many stories to write. I should hope I'll have enough time to write them all.
I am always so inspired by my dear friend's daughter, so I was prompted to paint her with her rabbit Oliver. He's the same breed as my Oliver, A Jersey Whooly, I think.
 I made some roasted potatoes with rosemary from the garden this weekend. I can never get enough of roasted potatoes baked in the oven, can you? Vegetables are such hearty food and quite filling.
I've read this book about a dozen times already. It has quite exciting tidbits about Beatrix. I find that this book gives way to how very much she had such a witty and profound personality. I was surprised to learn of how very much she was into politics and that she wasn't always so pleased with how women were treated in comparison to men. I say well said, Beatrix. I feel quite the same. Did you know her book The Tale of Peter Rabbit was turned down from being published six times? She decided to post it herself. At that time in history, she put forth the money to have a certain quantity of books printed. I may be off, but I think she had over 550 printed. If you know the accurate number, please do tell, but I think I am correct in that number. 

This is my first son Carter. Remember in previous entries I spoke about how much I loved playing the Beatrix Potter stories on the television. His pacifier holder was Beatrix Potter themed. I made dozens of the short jumper that he's wearing, as it was the perfect clothing for a child learning to walk. I never wanted to deal with pants and a shirt separately as the shirt would always come untucked, and the pants would slide down, so this way, he was ever put together. I handed them down to my next two boys, so much good use was put to them. I had some that I monogrammed as well. Notice the sign above his head? I had made that from some sticks I found, "Rabbits Garden."I was full well into everything Beatrix, even at the age of 20.

 Just in time and favour of Tasha, I made some homemade beeswax candles. I poured the wax into some mason jars and added a bit of spruce essential oil.
Over the weekend, I also made some homemade broccoli cheese soup. It was delicious. I gobbled it up, and that's saying a bit much about how superb it was because I usually do not much care for broccoli. It was a little nippy this weekend in Florida, so I thought what better time to have a bread bowl and some soup.

Oh, I wanted to update you on the little visit that Jeffrey and I went on Saturday. Remember I said we were going to go see a small cottage in the country town? We went to look at it, and there was an older gentleman pressure washing the cottage. It turns out it's a rental property and would never be up for sale. I'm still dreaming of Carmel, so my feelings weren't much hurt in the learning of the little cottage. I didn't much care for the placement of it, nor the idea that it had no surrounding woods.

Jeffrey and I did some Christmas gift shopping, and that was quite delightful. Today I am getting estimates for a new air-conditioner system. Jeffrey insists, and i right agree with him that the house value will go up when it's time to sell, beings it will have a new unit installed.

What did your weekend consist of?

Well, I shall be off for now. I shall write again soon.

Most affably yours til my next swim, Raquelxxx

Connecting The Dots

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