Journey down a timeless lane to a magical place!

Return to Ivy & Innocence Event is now LIVE!!!

Join me in an adventure far away from this fast-paced, chaotic world we live in. The Ivy storybooks whisk you to a delightful place, simple and pure. It is an avenue to an imaginary community where dreams flourish, inspiration thrives and hope is encouraged.

Sit back, sip a cup of tea and read about a place where nothing moves faster than a gallop but everything manages to get done.

Venture down a timeless lane to a magical place called Ivy & Innocence,
now releasing four enchanting items & one artistic storybook.

“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” –Thomas Edison

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Happy Father’s Day!

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John and Jonathan (a month shy of 3 yrs) Christmas 1988.

This year I would like express special thanks for Father’s day. It will forever be memorable to me.  I have been showered with so many wonderful things in my life – none more so than becoming a new Nana last Friday with the birth of my first grandchild – Elijah John Reader.

And to my son, on his first Father’s Day, I cannot express the joy that is about to come your way, all the wonders you will experience. It is beyond measure. The tiny hugs. The sweet slobbery kisses. The smiles and tears from the first scrapped knee… and when they reach up to hold your hand to get across the street… when these little moments happen, I swear you feel like your heart will explode in your chest.

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Jonathan with his new brother Alex in 1995

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Jonathan and son Elijah, born 6/17/2016

It is not flesh and blood but the heart which makes us mothers and daughters, fathers and sons.

I am so proud of you and Brandi! Congrats!!

Happy Father’s Day!!

Blessings to all.
XOXOXOXO from a new Nana singing from the mountaintops,

Susan

 

 

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Happy Mother’s Day

Flowers

Did you know…

In 1908, when Anna Jarvis held a memorial for her mother it was the first celebrated  modern holiday of Mother’s Day. However, her campaign to make “Mother’s Day” a recognized holiday began three years earlier in 1905… the year her mother, Ann Reeves Jarvis, died.

Anna Jarvis wanted to honor her mother by continuing the work she started and to set aside a day to honor all mothers, as a way of honoring the sacrifices mothers made for their children.

1477b9b10f5ab0d15cc7ecb39bc6c624Ann Jarvis, a peace activist, cared for wounded soldiers on both sides of the American Civil War. She created Mother’s Day Work Clubs to address public health issues, teaching women how to properly care for their children. These clubs later became a unifying force in a region divided with Civil War.

In 1908, the US Congress rejected a proposal to make Mother’s Day an official holiday, joking that they would have to proclaim also a “Mother-in-law’s Day”.

In 1911, all US states observed the holiday due to the efforts of Anna Jarvis, officially recognizing Mother’s Day as a local holiday with the first being Jarvis’ home state of West Virginia in 1910.

In 1914, Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation designating Mother’s Day, held on the second Sunday in May, as a national holiday to honor mothers. The commemoration was adopted by other countries and is now celebrated all over the world.

One cannot deny being a mother is difficult at times. It can be trying and taxing, but it is also richly rewarding.

To me, there is nothing more gratifying than these  miracles that continually fulfill our lives. They have a subtle way of reminding us what is important.

Motherhood is an absolutely amazing thing. If you have been blessed with a little bundle of joy, I know you are an absolutely amazing mother!

Have a wondrous Mother’s Day.

XOXOX,
Susan

This day – January 10, 1840

1619102Connecting shops and coffeehouses in an old neighborhood of London, a narrow alleyway (called Change Alley) served as a convenient shortcut between the Cornhill Royal Exchange and the Lombard Street Post Office.

Several of these alleys continue to exist even today.

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Imagine it in the 1800s bustling with activity.

 

Shops sprouted along “Change Alley.” Vendors sold many items, navigational instruments like telescopes to traveling sailors to glittering trinkets and bangles created by Italian goldsmiths to decorate the ladies of high fashion.

Coffee and Tea houses came to host lively trading of shares and commodities.

The economy was expanding, business was booming and the population was growing.

The problem?

Postal revenues in Britain remained flat…. indicating that widespread evasion and the depressing effect of high rates were major problems.

A two sheet letter from London to Edinburgh cost a shilling or nearly a day’s wages for the common laborer.

Moreover, almost one-quarter of letters mailed ended up in the dead letter box because recipients could not or would not pay to receive them.

On this day, January 10, 1840, the One Penny postal rate throughout Great Britain was introduced in a petition proposed by Sir Rowland Hill, ideas that had broad popular support.

He calculated that most of the post cost was independent of distance, predicting that through a low uniform postage mail rate volume would increase with economics of scale quickly making the system self-supporting. In 1839 a postal bill was drafted.

After a long debate about the rates, it was finally resolved in 1840 to deliver books and printed matter through the post at the minimum rate of four ounces for a penny and amended further so as to carry two ounces for a halfpenny.

Letters, including book-packets, transmitted through the post increased tenfold. A few years later, the postcard could be delivered for one halfpenny which included the cost of the card.

The postage stamp, an innovation not anticipated in Sir Rowland’s petition pamphlet, proved a key element in the new postage system.

Gummed stamps – the famous penny black bearing Queen Victoria’s youthful profile – could be purchased at any post office. After 1840, most letters in Britain were prepaid, eliminating the cumbersome collection procedures. Stamps served as a convenient alternative currency in an era when most transactions involved hefty amounts of pocket change.

Initially, the penny post provided only carriage letters between post offices. In villages, shopkeepers often undertook the task to collect and deliver mail from the nearest post office, counting on increased traffic to their establishment to offset the cost which gradually instituted the door-to-door delivery mailman.

(BTW, July 1st is National Postal Worker Day –
remember to thank your mail carrier this summer. 🙂

Sir Rowland Hill’s penny post proposal, which created an affordable nationwide system of letter delivery, was originated by an outsider with no connection to Parliament, the old posting system or to major industrial enterprise.

The new system was initiated with little fanfare and it made a huge difference.

Just think about all the wonderful things we could propose to do today that might impact the world for years to come.

Stay cozy, inquisitive and creative my friends,

XOXOXOX
Susan

Postman

Ivy & Innocence Mailman Figurine 3″ H by 1 & 3/4″ W

* I designed and dedicated this piece to my late,
wonderful father-in-law who I respected dearly.
He happened to be a mailman and delivered mail
everyday through all kinds of weather ~
including multiple blizzards, thunderstorms or
through the blistering heat of summer, sick or no.

 

 

 

2016 – It’s Your Year!

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Hello 2016!!

I have dubbed 2016 as a wonderful year, YES, because we can make it an outstanding year. A fresh year where you can be anything you want to be, do things you’ve always wanted to do… because it is time to SHINE!

I believe that we have been pigeonholed into categories which have built walls around our daily routine, slotted us into a familiar routine that devours our precious few minutes of life.

Throw away the ‘I can’t’ attitude and cloak yourself in “I CAN!” superhero-capes-600x313

Together we can break out of these molds and be anything we want to be, regardless of what it is, find the courage to go out and do it.

A perfect example…

Not like the rest of her kind standing around ‘baa-baaing’, oh no, this sheep is unique. And we ALL love her quirky bouncing and prancing around. She breaks all barriers creating a joyful life not caring what other people think or, for that matter, what other animals think. Playfully, she becomes a happy dog. Watching her makes us happy too. I mean, who can watch this and not smile?

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Her story:

Pet is a beautiful lamb taken in by a local family in the Scottish Highlands after she was found crippled, orphaned, and alone in April of last year.

According to her owner, Jemma Mackenzie, the baby lamb was raised by the family’s four collies, and came to regard the eldest dog, Dice, as her mother. Subsequently, she grew up certain that she was, in fact, a dog!

Her bouncing is so adorably manic and her conviction is so touchingly absolute, that it’s impossible not to immediately fall in love with her. Just looking at her clumsily hop through the air side to side as she runs along with her canine friends made our hearts melt.

sky-sunset-clouds-sun-e1446313215873-620x948Take a leap of faith!

Don’t let anybody tell you who you are or what you cannot do.

It has been scientifically proven that the bumblebee should not be able to fly; but the bumblebee, being unaware of these scientific facts, flies anyway.

fly-back-to-your-flower-little-beeIn fact, bumblebees have figured it out. They must flap harder than other insects, increasing the amplitude of their wing strokes to achieve more lift, and use a figure-of-eight wing motion creates low-pressure vortices which pulls them up.

Working harder bees fly!

article-1043523-006eef2e00000258-154_233x414Did you know, the kangaroo can’t possibly exist because jumping consumes more energy than it replenishes from eating?

However, the kangaroo was created with leg muscles and tendons that act as springs. Transferring energy from landing into their next jump allows them to spring forward somewhat effortlessly!

So who knows what secret abilities we have inside! We are miracles blessed with special talents to accomplish wonderful things! So do not be afraid to jump and soar…  dance, sing, jump and fly ~ whatever it is that you enjoy doing.

Find the courage to try. Yes, we might fail.. but we can try again and again and again and continue until we figure out how to bypass the roadblocks and get beyond any obstacles.

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Step beyond any imaginary limitations, beyond what we have been told our entire life we cannot do. Go beyond the comfort zone toward your passion because that is where greatness is accomplished.

Break the mold. Be you, connect with others and soar because, hidden within our humble simplicity, we are all prancing, bouncing, flying sheep dogs!

And it’s going to be wonderful new YEAR. 🙂

C H A R G E !!

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 XOXOX
Susan

Happy New Year!

 

a9e009947168ab4dc1f890e0c175ab20Here we are once again standing at the passing of another year at the dawn of a new one, January 1st.

We concentrate on a New Year’s resolutions. We search for that special someone to share the celebratory kiss at midnight, singing ‘Auld Lang Syne‘ – the annual tune to remember and cherish old friendships, good deeds and toast health and good will for the year ahead.

But every year, month, day, minute, and second we can flip our life around and create a memorable life.

6d1aed3cf9f2a633e07b7a75e425c433We shouldn’t need to wait for another New Years Eve to make steps toward becoming everything we dreamed of being.

I admit the years are zooming by (and I do mean in a supersonic zoom)… so why wait? Begin now! We can make exciting things possible and charge forward with hope in our pocket every day of the year, yes?

I know one thing for certain, no matter how hard we try to make things happen or plan for things to go a certain way… life has a knack of putting surprises in our path. We must be flexible to duck, dodge and weave. Be persistent and strong and never give up on anything, especially if it is something you are passionate about.

Most of us are ordinary folks. We are vulnerable. We stumble and fall. There is no doubt about it. Life is tough but we must find the courage to try new things. To explore and grow. We can rework and improve ourselves. Remember, we are all here together. When life tosses us about like buoys in the ocean, throwing those hard punches that knock the wind out of our sails, let’s grab on with both hands and figure out a way around these obstacles to make 2016 a great year.

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Find joy in every precious moment. Those rare instances happen every day.  They might hide from you at first but, if you know where to look, they pop up everywhere. They are the little wonders put in your life to bring you joy. Notice them because they will bring you happiness, especially when you are the farthest away from a smile.

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Being thankful for the little things in life builds a grateful soul. This attracts grace and with grace, miracles happen. These miracles shine from the heart and warm the earth with kindness.

I remain forever humbled by your grace and kindness, my family and friends. I hope to give more than I receive because together, we can build mountains of positive energy and spread sunshine with our smiles. Life is not perfect, but it doesn’t have to be to have a wonderful life.

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May you always be blessed with walls for the wind, a roof for the rain, a warm cup of tea by the fire with laughter to cheer you, those you love near you AND granted all that your heart might desire!  (An Irish Blessing Has Now Been Bestowed Upon You)

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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 XOXOX
Susan

A CHRISTMAS STORY TO REMEMBER

A CHRISTMAS STORY TO REMEMBER

 

It was Christmas Eve 1881.

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Old-fashioned Christmas seen by candlelight

I was fifteen years old and feeling like the world had caved in on me because there just hadn’t been enough money to buy me the rifle that I’d wanted for Christmas.

19ac8e958d4d2af05d06e743954ee105We did the chores early that night for some reason. I just figured Pa wanted a little extra time so we could read in the Bible. After supper was over I took my boots off and stretched out in front of the fireplace and waited for Pa to get down the old Bible.

I was still feeling sorry for myself and, to be honest, I wasn’t in much of a mood to read Scriptures. But Pa didn’t get the Bible instead he bundled up again and went outside. I couldn’t figure it out because we had already done all the chores. I didn’t worry about it long though I was too busy wallowing in self-pity.

10923393-largeSoon Pa came back in. It was a cold clear night out and there was ice in his beard. “Come on, Matt,” he said. “Bundle up good, it’s cold out tonight.” I was really upset then. Not only wasn’t I getting the rifle for Christmas, now Pa was dragging me out in the cold, and for no earthly reason that I could see. We’d already done all the chores, and I couldn’t think of anything else that needed doing, especially not on a night like this.

But I knew Pa was not very patient at one dragging one’s feet when he’d told them to do something, so I got up and put my boots back on and got my cap, coat, and mittens. Ma gave me a mysterious smile as I opened the door to leave the house. Something was up, but I didn’t know what..

Outside, I became even more dismayed. There in front of the house was the work team, already hitched to the big sled. Whatever it was we were going to do wasn’t going to be a short, quick, little job. I could tell. We never hitched up this sled unless we were going to haul a big load. Pa was already up on the seat, reins in hand. b0b560b22a99f6a700991526ff82732f

I reluctantly climbed up beside him. The cold was already biting at me. I wasn’t happy. When I was on, Pa pulled the sled around the house and stopped in front of the woodshed. He got off and I followed.

“I think we’ll put on the high sideboards,” he said. “Here, help me.” The high sideboards! It had been a bigger job than I wanted to do with just the low sideboards on, but whatever it was we were going to do would be a lot bigger with the high side boards on.

 

a8e421dd5713c0898e34e6730be3aa1aAfter we had exchanged the sideboards, Pa went into the woodshed and came out with an armload of wood – the wood I’d spent all summer hauling down from the mountain, and then all Fall sawing into blocks and splitting.

What was he doing? Finally I said something.

“Pa,” I asked, “what are you doing?”

“You been by the Widow Jensen’s lately?” he asked.

The Widow Jensen lived about two miles down the road. Her husband had died a year or so before and left her with three children, the oldest being eight. Sure, I’d been by, but so what?

Yeah,” I said, “Why?”

c383f52a7449ca8aad4cc21e8f046fa9“I rode by just today,” Pa said. “Little Jakey was out digging around in the woodpile trying to find a few chips. They’re out of wood, Matt.”

That was all he said and then he turned and went back into the woodshed for another armload of wood.

I followed him. We loaded the sled so high that I began to wonder if the horses would be able to pull it. Finally, Pa called a halt to our loading then we went to the smoke house and Pa took down a big ham and a side of bacon. He handed them to me and told me to put them in the sled and wait. When he returned he was carrying a sack of flour over his right shoulder and a smaller sack of something in his left hand.

“What’s in the little sack?” I asked.

“Shoes, they’re out of shoes. Little Jakey just had gunny sacks wrapped around his feet when he was out in the woodpile this morning. I got the children a little candy too. It just wouldn’t be Christmas without a little candy.”

8ed01fe04567f227df111b72d7f7b1b0We rode the two miles to Widow Jensen’s pretty much in silence. I tried to think through what Pa was doing. We didn’t have much by worldly standards. Of course, we did have a big woodpile, though most of what was left now was still in the form of logs that I would have to saw into blocks and split before we could use it. We also had meat and flour, so we could spare that, but I knew we didn’t have any money, so why was Pa buying them shoes and candy? Really, why was he doing any of this?

Widow Jensen had closer neighbors than us; it shouldn’t have been our concern. We came in from the blind side of the Jensen house and unloaded the wood as quietly as possible then we took the meat and flour and shoes to the door. We knocked.

The door opened a crack and a timid voice said, “Who is it?” “Lucas Miles, Ma’am, and my son, Matt, could we come in for a bit?”

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Widow Jensen opened the door and let us in. She had a blanket wrapped around her shoulders. The children were wrapped in another and were sitting in front of the fireplace by a very small fire that hardly gave off any heat at all. Widow Jensen fumbled with a match and finally lit the lamp.


“We brought you a few things, Ma’am,” Pa said and set down the sack of flour. I put the meat on the table. Then Pa handed her the sack that had the shoes in it. She opened it hesitantly and took the shoes out one pair at a time.

There was a pair for her and one for each of the children – sturdy shoes, the best, shoes that would last. I watched her carefully. She bit her lower lip to keep it from trembling and then tears filled her eyes and started running down her cheeks. She looked up at Pa like she wanted to say something, but it wouldn’t come out.

6a175e7f6c325bdc2e6efd038121735f“We brought a load of wood too, Ma’am,” Pa said. He turned to me and said, “Matt, go bring in enough to last awhile. Let’s get that fire up to size and heat this place up.” I wasn’t the same person when I went back out to bring in the wood. I had a big lump in my throat and as much as I hate to admit it, there were tears in my eyes too.7941692350_cb9f7b9532 In my mind I kept seeing those three kids huddled around the fireplace and their mother standing there with tears running down her cheeks with so much gratitude in her heart that she couldn’t speak.

My heart swelled within me and a joy that I’d never known before filled my soul. I had given at Christmas many times before, but never when it had made so much difference. I could see we were literally saving the lives of these people.

d2bb5f84cad045bfb3e5c66a8404fb43I soon had the fire blazing and everyone’s spirits soared. The kids started giggling when Pa handed them each a piece of candy and Widow Jensen looked on with a smile that probably hadn’t crossed her face for a long time. She finally turned to us.

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“God bless you,” she said. “I know the Lord has sent you. The children and I have been praying that he would send one of his angels to spare us.”

In spite of myself, the lump returned to my throat and the tears welled up in my eyes again. I’d never thought of Pa in those exact terms before, but after Widow Jensen mentioned it I could see that it was probably true.

I was sure that a better man than Pa had never walked the earth. I started remembering all the times he had gone out of his way for Ma and me, and many others. The list seemed endless as I thought on it.

shoes11Pa insisted that everyone try on the shoes before we left. I was amazed when they all fit and I wondered how he had known what sizes to get. Then I guessed that if he was on an errand for the Lord that the Lord would make sure he got the right sizes.

Tears were running down Widow Jensen’s face again when we stood up to leave. Pa took each of the kids in his big arms and gave them a hug. They clung to him and didn’t want us to go. I could see that they missed their Pa and I was glad that I still had mine.

At the door Pa turned to Widow Jensen and said, “The Mrs. wanted me to invite you and the children over for Christmas dinner tomorrow. The turkey will be more than the three of us can eat, and a man can get cantankerous if he has to eat turkey for too many meals. We’ll be by to get you about eleven. It’ll be nice to have some little ones around again. Matt, here, hasn’t been little for quite a spell.” I was the youngest. My two brothers and two sisters had all married and had moved away.

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Widow Jensen nodded and said, “Thank you, Brother Miles. I don’t have to say, May the Lord bless you, I know for certain that He will.”
Out on the sled I felt a warmth that came from deep within and I didn’t even notice the cold.

When we had gone a ways, Pa turned to me and said, “Matt, I want you to know something. Your ma and me have been tucking a little money away here and there all year so we could buy that rifle for you, but we didn’t have quite enough.

Then yesterday a man who owed me a little money from years back came by to make things square. Your ma and me were real excited, thinking that now we could get you that rifle, and I started into town this morning to do just that, but on the way I saw little Jakey out scratching in the woodpile with his feet wrapped in those gunny sacks and I knew what I had to do. Son, I spent the money for shoes and a little candy for those children. I hope you understand.”

dacc0716bb17593f1db69987ec5e0747I understood, and my eyes became wet with tears again. I understood very well, and I was so glad Pa had done it. Now the rifle seemed very low on my list of priorities. Pa had given me a lot more. He had given me the look on Widow Jensen’s face and the radiant smiles of her three children.

For the rest of my life, Whenever I saw any of the Jensens, or split a block of wood, I remembered, and remembering brought back that same joy I felt riding home beside Pa that night. Pa had given me much more than a rifle that night, he had given me the best Christmas of my life.


 

Merry Christmas to you all!!
May we never forget the meaning of Christmas!

Sending blessings of joy and love to you this holiday season.
Susan
XOXOXO

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Twas the Night Before Christmas

cute-mouse-with-teddy-bear-400x267And all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse…

Did you know there is some question as to who actually wrote this popular holiday piece?

Apparently, when it first appeared in the newspaper on December 23, 1823, there was no name attached to it. It wasn’t until 13 years later that Clement Clarke Moore, a professor and poet, stepped forward to claim authorship and said that his housekeeper had, without his knowledge, sent the piece he wrote for his kids to the newspaper.

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In 1844, the poem was officially included in an anthology of Moore’s work.

The problem?

The family of Henry Livingston, Jr., claimed their father had been reciting “A Visit From St. Nicholas” to them for 15 years before it was published.

Livingston’s Dutch background is a key component in this mystery. His mother was Dutch, and many references in the poem are as well adding to the evidence that perhaps he was the true author.

For example, “A Visit from St. Nicholas” is likely where we got the popular names for Santa’s reindeer – there seems to be no reference to their names prior to the poem. The latter two reindeer recited were called “Dunder” and “Blixem,” (the Dutch words for “Thunder” and “Lightning.”) These days the correct Dutch translation would be “donder” and “bliksem.” We know them as Donner and Blitzen.

 

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Children Of Henry Livingston, 1827

 

Also, at least four of Livingston’s children and even a neighbor girl said they remembered Henry telling them the tale of St. Nick as early as 1807. They had evidence – a dated copy of the original poem with revisions and scratch marks. Unfortunately, the house containing this handwritten paper burned down, taking the Livingston family’s proof with it.1018

Generally, the theory that Moore did not write the poem was not taken seriously until Professor Don Foster from Vassar College analyzed a body of poetry from both authors. He declared that there was virtually no possible way Moore could have written “A Visit from St. Nicholas.”   The modern scholar used “linguistic forensics” to study the style of writing and claimed in 2000 that “A Night Before Christmas” was probably not written by Moore. The style of the Christmas favorite was completely different – both structurally and content-wise – than anything else Moore had ever written. But the anapestic scheme used matched up with some of Livingston’s work perfectly.

One reason for speculation about the authorship of the famous poem is simply because Moore was regarded as a very serious scholar. And a cheerful holiday poem about a “jolly old elf” is like nothing else Moore had ever written.

But, there is no definitive proof either way and to date it remains one family’s word against the other.

From its beginning, ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas’ has painted visions of Santa Claus in our heads through its rhyming verse. Most of us can recite the lines by memory, having grown up with it from childhood.

It is certainly a wonderful poem that I have enjoyed for years. The mystery of its author does not diminish the popularity of the story. For me, Christmas has never been about the commercial aspect of the season. In our hearts, let us not forget to celebrate the true meaning behind the holiday and sing praise.

Sending warm wishes to you and your family during this holiday season. May your home be blessed with love and happiness.

XOXOX
Susan


 

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We three kings of Orient are;
Bearing gifts we traverse afar,
Field and fountain, moor and mountain,
Following yonder star.

O star of wonder, star of night,
Star with royal beauty bright,
Westward leading, still proceeding,
Guide us to thy perfect light.

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A Christmas Carol

A Merry Hello to You,

I like learning new things and, whenever possible, I would like to add historical tidbits (especially pertaining to the Victorian era) to my blog posts. A few days ago I learned something interesting and in the holiday spirit, wanted to share. So, did you know…

On December 19th, this very day 172 years ago,
A Christmas Carol was published?

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Learning this led me to research this classic tale further.

English writer and social critic Charles John Huffam Dickens, born 203 years ago, created some of the world’s best-known fictional characters and is regarded today as the greatest novelist of the Victorian era.

His own story is one of rags to riches.

Charles Dickens was born on 7 February 1812 to John and Elizabeth Dickens. He attended school in Portsmouth, but when his father, a clerk in the navy pay office was thrown into debtors’ prison, 12-year-old Charles was sent to work in a factory. The miserable treatment of children and the institution of the debtors’ jail became interwoven into several of his novels.

While Dickens’ humiliating childhood experiences are not directly described in A Christmas Carol, his conflicting feelings for his father as a result of those experiences are reflected in the dual personality of  Ebenezer Scrooge.

In 1824, Dickens’ father, John, was thrown in Marshalsea Debtors’ Prison. His wife Elizabeth Barrow and their four youngest children joined her husband in Marshalsea (customary at the time), whilst 12-year-old Charles was forced to take lodgings nearby, pawn his collection of books, leave school and accept employment in a blacking factory.

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On June 9, 1870, at 58, Charles died of a stroke at Gad’s Hill Place in Kent working on The Mystery of Edwin Drood. The mystery novel, intended to run in twelve parts, was left unfinished as he was laid to rest in the Poet’s Corner at Westminster Abbey along side several notable authors and poets. 

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Gad’s Hill Place, Dickens’s country estate near Rochester, Kent, where he lived from 1857 until his death. At 9 years Charles saw the house and dreamed of owning it. (It is gorgeous. I would dream of owning it too). Today, it houses a school. (photo by highamvillage.)

Dickens began to write A Christmas Carol in September 1843. The book was completed in six weeks, with the final pages written in early December. The book was published 172 years ago, on this day…

19 December 1843!

Despite his earlier success, Dickens found himself actually owing money to his publisher. With his most recent novel not selling well, Dickens feared his success had peaked and faced some serious financial problems as Christmas 1843 approached.

But a visit to the grimy industrial city of Manchester motivated him to tell the story of a greedy businessman, Ebenezer Scrooge, who would be transformed by the Christmas spirit.

As the result of a feud with his publisher over the slim earnings on his previous novel, Dickens declined a lump-sum payment for the tale. Instead, hoping to earn more money, he published A Christmas Carol at his own expense. 

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“Bah!” said Scrooge, “Humbug!”

With his wife pregnant once again, Charles was deeply disappointed with the production of the book. The first printing contained drab olive end papers that Dickens felt were unacceptable, and the publisher Chapman and Hall quickly replaced them with yellow end papers, but, once replaced, those clashed with the title page, which was then redone.

The final product was bound in red cloth with gilt-edged pages, completed only two days before the release date of 19 December 1843… 

We all know the story beginning with Scrooge, a miser who shows a decided lack of concern for the rest of mankind and ending with him seeing life in a completely different way.

The redemption of Ebenezer Scrooge touched readers deeply. The concern Dickens wanted to convey for those less fortunate struck a deep chord. As result, the Christmas holiday began to be seen as a time for family celebrations and charitable giving.

The tale, and its widespread popularity, helped Christmas become established as a major holiday in Victorian Britain.

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Like Scrooge’s change of demeanor, I believe if we live our life with a kind spirit and joyful merriment – not only at Christmas but all year long – what a wonderful life we will have.

“God Bless us, everyone!”

XOXOXO
Susan

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© 1996 Susan Reader

Let it Snow

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Hello Ivy Family,

I have always had a soft spot for snowmen and did plan on creating a family of snowmen in our front yard.But, alas, our temperature is showing a balmy 62 degrees and it is raining.

I remember a year when we were literally snowed in. We had to shovel to get out of our house and, though we were told not to, you could walk onto our roof. What was even better than that, was my snow fort. (Oh yes, who could not have their own snow fort in this much snow?) The knight Brotherhood of two stood against us Sisters three for reign of the newly shoveled driveway with its high walls of snow.

Gone are those crazy days of five and six feet of snowfall (but warm memories of snow mountains and drifts do remain).

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In the peace of today’s morning, and just under two weeks until Christmas, I sit here listening to it rain. Rain. While I do love the rain’s pit patter, it makes it impossible to build my snowmen family.

IMAG1133Therefore, to honor tradition, this year I decorated my fireplace mantle with the various snowmen I designed and painted. When creating them, I set out to give each of them a special personality with a wintry task of bringing everyone joy over the holidays.

I hope you enjoy them as much as I do. I love placing them out and about throughout my Ivy Village among the Ivy greenery and bows. They infiltrate nicely with the cottages on the shelves and on tabletops.

(A big thanks to Sam for her snowmen pictures sent in below 🙂 )

If anyone is interested in picking up some Ivy & Innocence Cottages to begin their village or add to, please feel free to visit Ebay and search for Ivy & Innocence. If you are interested in the snowmen, I hope to get some up on Ebay or Etsy as well. I have never had any of my work up on Etsy but am willing to give it a try.  🙂

And in the holiday spirit, I wish to share a link sent to me from Duane (thank you!) which added a big smile to my morning and hope it adds one to yours as well.  http://tinyurl.com/lptgzqv

Have a wonderful day!

XOXOXOX
Susan

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A Magical Christmas

To my Ivy Family and Friends,

I have found with family… there’s a bit of magic in the air.

In the stillness of the night, I always look up
amazed by the stars high above me twinkling so bright.

I feel small, yet, strangely connected to a vast energy much larger than  myself and, in that peaceful moment with family and friends
watching the same shimmering sky,
I know everything will be alright.

It is Christmas… it really is a magical time of the year.

Have a wonderful evening!

Susan

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