Saturday, December 25, 2010

Does Santa Live In Heaven?

Since I can remember I have always loved Christmas.  When I was very young, only about 3 years old, I, being quite precocious, quizzed my Mother incessantly about all of the details of Santa Clause and his life and activities.  I remember the house that we lived in at the time was a wonderful old house with many nooks and crannys for me to disappear into when I wanted some "alone" time.  I had one particular corner in the living room, though, that was where I prayed to God, and, during the holiday season, where I talked to Santa Clause.

Just before my third Christmas, I remember standing in that corner praying to God and asking Santa if they would bring me a baby sister for Christmas.  One day my Mother asked me what I was doing and I told her.  She patiently explained to me that God is the one who brings us baby sisters, not Santa Clause.  I accepted that explanation at the time, however, I was still confused.  In my mind, Santa lived in heaven with God, so they both must bring us babies.  After all, everyone said that heaven was up in the sky and, where did Santa and his reindeer come from -- Out of the sky!  Yes, I knew that  people told me that Santa lived in the North Pole, but, in my little mind, the North Pole was in the sky in heaven with God.

So, during the next year, I continued to pray to God for a baby sister and, lo and behold, a month before my fourth Christmas, my new baby sister arrived!  I was so thankful to God.  Since it was so close to Christmas, I figured that Santa must have had a hand in it somehow, so I also thanked Santa for my new sister.

My, the years since then have gone by so quickly.  I still believe in God, although my faith has been tested mightily.  My faith and belief in Santa Clause has, for the most part, remained strong.  His spirit still comes alive in me every time I see the twinkle of the lights on a Christmas tree; feel snowflakes on my eyelashes; savor the smell of cookies baking in the oven; or relish the scent of fresh pine branches.  Unfortunately, during the past few years, the circumstances of my life have not always easily allowed me to open my heart to the Christmas spirit.  I have a serious chronic illness.  I have lost my career and virtually everything that I have worked my entire life for.  I must admit that I have lost and found my faith in God many times over during the past few years.  A few times, it even felt like Santa's spirit was flickering and in danger of being extinguished.

I must admit that I really was not looking forward to Christmas this year.  That is - Until yesterday when Santa and God sent me a moment of "Christmas Joy", and reminded me of some things that I had forgotten.   I was cleaning the house and I was listening to some Christmas CD's.  My little cat - Miss Bunny - was sitting on the back of a chair in the family room when Placido Domingo began singing an Italian piece entitled - "Mille cherubini in coro".  It is a lovely, soothing piece, and as Placido began singing the chorus - "Glory, glory....", I looked over at Bunny, and her little head was gently rocking back and forth and her tail was delicately swishing side to side in time with the music.  She was so thoroughly enjoying the music and the moment --  The first thought that came to my mind when I looked at her was -- "PURE JOY - PURE CHRISTMAS JOY".

Tears streamed down my face as I watched her serene and peaceful face.  And then I had a thought.  I suppose that it is possible that my brain was solely responsible for this thought, but, I would like to think that, somewhere up there in heaven, God and Santa Clause decided that I needed a reminder, and they telegraphed my brain this message, which is as follows:

   "Moments of Christmas Joy, my dear Girl, are all around us every day of the year.  You need only slow down, take a good look around, be still and quiet, take in the world, and the joy will come to you.  Each day it will be different.  Some days it will be more powerful than others, but keep your heart open, and we will both fill it with joy."

Well, there you have it.  Straight from the heavens where I have concluded that both God and Santa live.  So, thank you God --  thank you Santa, for reminding me to seek out and find Christmas Joy.  This Christmas, I will not ask you for a house or for money -- there are so many people who need your help more desperately than I do.  I would like to have more days that I am well rather than sick.  Maybe the two of you can help me there.

I don't know what 2011 will bring for me or for the billions of other people on this wonderful blue planet of ours.  My humble Christmas Day message to all of you in Blog Land is this -- Regardless of what God you pray to, or whether or not you celebrate Christmas, my Christmas wish for you is that you will keep your heart open to finding at least one moment of "JOY" each day for the rest of your life and "beyond".  It will make your life more fulfilling and meaningful.

May you all be well, be happy, love, and be loved by many on this Christmas Day and forevermore. 


"May you have the gladness of Christmas which is Hope;
The spirit of Christmas which is Peace;
The heart of Christmas which is Love." 
                  --Ada V. Hendricks

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Welcome December!

I apologize for not posting for so long, but I have been quite ill.  However, I am feeling much better, and I am full of the Christmas and Winter spirit!  Unlike many people, I actually like winter!  The weather forecast for today calls for some snow flurries later today - hurray!  Our first snow!  It would be a welcome change from the absolute deluge of rain that we have been receiving yesterday and so far today.

Anyway, I am doing a show this weekend, and then -- let the holiday decorating begin!  I am frantically completing my last minute "Treasures" for my show, but I wanted to share with you some precious vintage Christmas images.


Sleep In Heavenly Peace

   Yummies for the Tummies!

Let's Have A Tea Party

            Jolly Kitties!

            Of Course, Some Christmas Robins!

I think this card is absolutely precious! It reminds me of a very special Christmas card that my grandparents sent to me long ago.  I will tell you more about it in an upcoming post.

That's all for now.  Be well and Happy!  By the way, I came across a very unique and cool Blog yesterday.  It is called "My Best Thing Today".

People submit illustrated postcards which tell the story of what their best thing that day was.  It is really interesting to read and look at -- check it out.  I would love to submit a post there, but I can't draw to save my life. 

Tell me what your best thing today was.  No artwork required!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Delicious Autumn

"Delicious Autumn!
My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking successive autumns."
               -- George Eliot

October's Party
October gave a party;
The leaves by hundreds  came -
The Chestnuts, Oaks and Maples,
And leaves of every name.
The sunshine spread a carpet,
And everything was grand,
Miss Weather led the dancing,
Professor Wind the band.
         -- George Cooper 

Professor Wind has indeed been working overtime here in Western PA, and, unfortunately, he has been blowing all of the gorgeous leaves off of the trees too early!!  I was able to find some beauties that survived the Professor's huffing and puffing in Bethel Park, PA.  If only they could last all winter long. 

I still have to buy my Halloween candy for the trick or treaters!  Tomorrow I will show you my collection of Halloween primitive dolls.  Spooky! 

Get your costumes ready you little ghosts and goblins!!
Be Well and Happy -- and Spoooooky!


Monday, September 27, 2010

Autumn Decorating And Some Fall Creations

Yes, I've got the fever -- Fall Fever.  I have decorated my porch and deck for the fall festivities.  The pumpkins are popping, the mums are humming, the grasshoppers are still hopping.....Take a look.
              The wreath on my front door.

              Some early blooming mums.

                 My favorite garden bench.

 The front porch garden chairs - decorated for every season.

My latest Robin's Nest Treasures Creation-
"Raggedy Autumn" Dolls

                                We Love Pumpkins!

                             And scary gourds!

                      White Autumn Pumpkins!

         My Oak Leaf - Another Goodwill Find!

                 My Lovely Garden Door

              The Grasshoppers are indeed still hopping!

       Remember - Scaredy Cats are Welcome At Our House!

 Please Stop By For A Paw Reading Before Halloween Night!

I have also been working on some new Robin's Nest Treasures Creations for an upcoming Show---

            The Halloween Spider Brooch!

                  Autumn Rose Necklace

                      Vintage Halloween Decorations

Hope you enjoyed this little tour of our Autumn Nest!
Many of these items will soon be available in my etsy shop.

Be Well and Happy!     --  Robin

Saturday, September 18, 2010

An Imminent Departure And Some Bejeweled Poems About Hummingbirds

"A flash of harmless lightening,
A mist of rainbow dyes,
The burnished sunbeams brightening.
From flower to flower he flies."
    -John Banister Tabb

Something made me smile today.  It was the sight of a gorgeous ruby-throat-ed hummingbird feeding on one of the few remaining trumpet vine flowers in my back yard.  It should not be too many days now before they all gather for their grueling non-stop journey to Mexico where they will spend the winter months.  How such tiny fragile souls can fly thousands of miles non-stop through all manner of perils is beyond human comprehension.  These feisty green fairies always make me smile, not only because I love to watch them, but because they remind me of happy memories when my precious cat Sweet Pea and I used to sit in the garden in the evenings and watch the hummers feed on the trumpet vine flowers. 

So, in honor of the most lovely and amazing tiny creatures in my garden today, and every day, here are some poems.

 The Hummingbirds
Minutest of the feathered kind,
Posessing every charm combined,
Nature, in forming thee, designed
A proof within how little space
She can comprise such perfect grace,
Rendering the lovely; fairy race.
     - Charlotte Smith 

The Hummingbird
A route of evanescence
With a revolving wheel;
A resonance of emerald,
A rush of cochineal;
And every blossom on the bush
Adjusts its tumbled head,
The mail from Tunis, probably,
An easy morning's ride.
  - Emily Dickinson

Hummingbird Eggs
In a crook of a branch of the Queen Flowers tree
Precariously it swayed with every breeze
Reminding him of that infant lulaby.

The Mother poked her head out frequently
Fiercely defensive of the treasure
In her small abode.

This totemic treasure carried folklore
Within its ingenious plaitings
A superior intelligence at work.

Functional and minimalist
Her crimson crest and iridescent
Feathers made her the most
Powerful bird in the world.

As she hovered in mid-air stationary
Like a helicopter searching.

Her eyes reminded in the dynamic flashes
The fate that befell those long ago
Who broke the taboo of her death.

Who now on certain moonlit nights
Howl their pain in lonely hours
Over the well known lake of pitch.

The boy approached.  The mother flew.
He saw the eggs such miniature art
And stretched his hands to touch.

She zipped past his ear screeching
Warning of a second totem in anger.
He understood the warning dire

Looked as they lay in their resplendent nest
Climbed down and withdrew from the nest.
The mother circled her treasure

Then calmly brooded.
Overhead thunder suddenly rolled
In the brightness of the day lightening flashed.
          - Anson Gonzalez

Until next time .................
Be Well and Happy.
(And Sweet Pea from heaven who is still
watching the green fairies)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Zucchini, Zucchini, Zucchini -- Some Recipes For Our Abundant Friend

This time of year when I go to our local Farmer's Market, one of the vegetables that is spilling over in abundance is the lovely zucchini.  Nutritious, versatile, it is a shame that it is not in season in our area all year long.  For the time being, however, we shall make full use of it.  Today I have two zucchini soup recipes to share with you - one is creamy and the other is stock based.  Before we get to the soups, I want to share a quick recipe that I made up last week.
Robin's Italian Zucchini
I sliced two zucchini into about 1/8" slices and coated them with olive oil.  Then I sprinkled them with garlic chips.  (I highly recommend the Organic Roasted Garlic Chips from Garlic Festival Foods.  I use them for everything!  Their garlic mustard is also to die for!   )
I grilled the zucchini slices about 2 minutes on each side and removed them from the grill. 

Then I spread a layer of basil garlic tomato sauce in the bottom of a 12"x12" dish and began layering the zucchini slices, tomato sauce, and shredded mozzarella cheese, finishing with a layer of the cheese.  I covered the dish with foil and baked in the oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.     We had this as a side dish with grilled talapia and grilled sweet potatoes, and it was delicious.  I hope you like it.  You may even add ingredients that will even make it better -- please leave a comment and let me know!  Now, on to the soups!

Creamy Potato and Zucchini Soup With Garlic Croutons
2 tsp Olive Oil
1 large onion, finely diced
2 or 3 cloves garlic, minced
2 lb.  potatoes, peeled and diced
2 c. 1% or skim milk
1  1/2 c. vegetable or chicken stock
2 zucchini unpeeled, grated
1 tsp nutmeg
hot pepper flakes, to taste (optional)
salt and pepper
grated sharp cheddar cheese
Croutons - Ingredients:
2 T. olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 sheets of lavash bread

Heat oil in a deep heavy saucepan over med-high heat.  Add onion, cook until soft.  Add  garlic and cook for 2 minutes.  Add potatoes and stock, bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer 25-30 minutes or until potatoes are cooked.  Add milk, zucchini, nutmeg and pepper flakes.  Cook on low for another 10 minutes.
Remove from heat and let stand for 10 minutes.  Puree soup, then return to pot and stir over low heat until heated through.  Season with salt and pepper.  Garnish with cheese and serve with croutons.

Croutons - Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line 2 baking trays with parchment paper.  Combine oil and garlic in a small bowl.  Brush lavash bread with oil, fold bread in half and tear along fold.  Tear the bread until you have long strips 3/4" wide.  Place on trays  and bake 10 minutes or until golden and crisp.

Recipe Courtesy of --

Note -- Personally, I would just use store-bought croutons -- This is just too much bother for me.  I had no idea what lavash bread was, so I looked it up.  This is the story -- Lavash is a soft, thin flatbread widely used in Iran, Armenia, and Azerbaijan.  Dough is rolled out flat and slapped against the hot walls of a wood oven or a "tandoor".  While flexible like a tortilla when fresh, lavash dries out quickly and becomes brittle and hard.

You learn something new every hour.  However, I would still use the store-bought croutons.  


3 tbsp. Olive Oil
1 clove garlic, chopped
3 medium potatoes, cubed
1 sliced onion, diced
2 stalks celery, sliced
2 tbsp. fresh parsley
1 tsp. oregano
6 cups beef stock
1 large tomato, cored, blanched, peeled, diced
1 lb. zucchini, diced
2 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. Parmesan cheese, grated

In a large saucepan, heat oil and brown garlic.  Discard garlic.  Add potatoes, stir to coat, and cook for about 5 minutes.  Add onion, parsley and oregano, and cook until onions are softened.  Add stock, tomatoes, celery, zucchini, and salt and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer until zucchini is tender.  Pour soup into individual bowls and sprinkle freshly ground pepper and 1 teaspoon grated Parmesan cheese over each serving.

Recipe courtesy of:

In the Comments section following this recipe, several people indicated that they felt that the amount of beef stock should be cut back to 4 or 5 cups instead of 6 cups.  Also, some people stated that they eliminated or reduced the celery.  (I would be one of the people who eliminated the celery, since I do not care for it).

I hope that you enjoy these soups.  Be Well, Well Fed, and Happy.


I'm Dreaming of ...... Beautiful Fall Dresses From The Shabby Apple

Anyone who knows me knows that I love clothes.  I also have a certain romantic style, and it is not often that I find a line of clothing that is everything "me".  Well, the other day I discovered "The Shabby Apple", which is an online ladies clothing store featuring mainly dresses, as well as accessories such as jewelry, handbags and shoes. I love so many of their dresses, I don't know where to start!  I can't order any right now, but let's take a look at my favorites anyway.  Prices range from $75-100.

My absolute favorite - The Berkshires - Cider

      Yosemite - Black Oak

        Yosemite - Chicaree


             1943 - Ingrid

           Jody Maxman

Proceed with caution Ladies -- This one could be addictive and expensive!!!!!

Be Well, Well Dressed, and Happy!


Sunday, September 12, 2010

September's Lovely Tokens - Fall's First Acorns

"By all these lovely tokens
September days are here,
Within summer's best of weather
And Autumn's best of cheer."
  - Helen Hunt Jackson - September

Aaahhh September the loveliest!  I took a little nature walk at a local park looking for pine cones for some craft projects and, although I could find very few nice pine cones, my efforts were rewarded with some other fall treasures.  It is amazing what you can find when you just walk quietly in the woods, stand still, look down, and let your eyes focus on the treasures that nature has waiting for you to discover on her wonderful carpet.  I was both surprised and delighted to find acorns!  I thought that it was a bit too early for acorns to have fallen, but I found the early crop of both green and brown babies.  I was seeking them for some craft projects -- including the acorn caps to put on some needle felted acorns that I am making.  Next to many of the acorn trees were chestnut trees, who were also dropping their fruit shells, so I also gathered some of those beauties. 

Perhaps the best surprise of the day was the discovery of an old bird's nest which had fallen to the ground!

After my walk, I went over to visit some lovely horses which are boarded at the park.  They are the members of the Allegheny County Police Mounted Patrol Unit who have their stables in the park.  They were having a bite to eat after a hard day's work.  They were all so friendly, they all came over to greet me and to be petted. 

Finally, it was a stop at our local dollar store flower shop to buy some beautiful mums to decorate the front porch and the driveway.  I bought quite a lovely spread for a little dough.  I got most of them planted in my pots, but I ran out of potting soil.  I'll post some photos when the outside decorations are complete.

All in all, it was a lovely Autumn day!

Be Well and Happy.  Robin

Saturday, September 11, 2010

September 11th - The Anniversary And Some Thoughts On the Human Smile

As we all know, today is the anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.  Everyone remembers where they were when they got the news.  I was laying in a bed in Mercy Hospital in Pittsburgh, PA at the end of a three month hospital stay wherein I nearly died after a major pancreatic surgery.  That, however, is a story for another day.

One of the features that I have started in my Blog is "Something made me smile today".  You may not think that there is much reason to smile on a day like today, but I think that there is.  Last night I was making a list of the people who came to mind when I think of who has the most infectious smiles.   One of the people at the top of my list was The Dalai Lama.  I have been interested in the Dalai Lama and Tibet for many years and have read many of his teachings.  One of the beautiful books that sits on my coffee table is a large book entitled "My Tibet", which is the story of the Chinese invasion of Tibet and the Dalai Lama's subsequent exile.  The phenomenal photographs in the book of Tibet and its people were taken by renowned photographer Galen Rowell, who died several years ago in a tragic accident.  Now, before I scare any of you away, this is not going to be a post about religious or political issues.  It is about the human spirit.  Regardless of your views on religion, I think that you will find insight into The Dalai Lama's teachings on life in general.  I know that I have.  So, today, of all days, some thoughts on the power of the human smile.
The following quotes are excerpts from the book - The Dalai Lama - His Essential Wisdom, Edited by Carol Kelly-Gangi.

"My attitude towards other people is to always look at them from the human level.  On that level, whether president, queen or beggar, there is no difference, provided that there is genuine human feeling with a genuine human smile of affection.  If someone greets me with a nice smile, and expresses a genuinely friendly attitude, I appreciate it very much.  Though I might not know that person or understand their language, they instantly gladden my heart ..."
"Kindness and love, a real sense of brotherhood and sisterhood, these are very precious.  They make community possible and thus are crucial in society.  Having a heart, and a kind and warm disposition, is an enormous advantage.  Not only does it bring us joy, but we can share this joy with others.  Relations between individuals, nations, and continents deteriorate only from lack of goodwill and kindness, even though those qualities are so valuable and necessary for the quality of life in society.  That is why it is worth trying to develope them."

"We are, after all, social animals.  Without human friendship, without the human smile, our lives become miserable.  The loneliness becomes unbearable.  Such human interdependence is a natural law - that is to say, according to natural law, we depend on others to live.  We are all part of humanity, and each of us has the responsibility to improve humanity and to bring it additional happiness in order to make it more peaceful, friendlier, and compassionate.  So, if one individual practices compassion and forgiveness sincerely and regularly, wherever he or she may live, it will generate a positive atmosphere.  That is a way to contribute toward the betterment of humanity."


The Dalai Lama's words are particularly appropriate on a day such as today, I think.  You may not think that your small acts of kindness or compassion towards loved ones and strangers alike each day make any difference, but they really do.  They are contagious.  People want to "pay them forward".  Smiles are contagious.  People desperately long for something to smile about these days.

Some people may look at my life and think that I have absolutely no reason to smile.  I have had a serious chronic illness, chronic pancreatitis, for nine years.  I have spent over 500 days in the hospital during the past 9 years.  Because of this, I was unable to work for many years and finally had to give up my 22 year career as a trial lawyer and take a disability retirement.  Financially - "materially" -  I am destroyed.  Yet, in many ways, I feel wealthy.  I have a wonderful loving family.  I have many many long-time close friends who are my "Rocks of Gibraltar", my muses, my laugh 'till your stomach hurts friends.  I started a new business doing the things that I love to do.  Yes, I am still very worried about the future, still angry at times, still severely depressed, but I try to make it a point to always find reasons to smile each day, and to try to make others smile when possible.  It is what keeps me going - it's what makes the world go 'round.

So, what made me smile so far today, on such a solemn day of remembrance?  Well, it would have to be the joyful, impish, smiling face of the Dalai Lama.  Perhaps some day I will have the opportunity to meet him and exchange smiles.  Wouldn't that be something....

Until next time -- Be Well and Happy -- Robin