Monday, 12 August 2019

This Beautiful Fantastic ~ A Review

Hello dear friends…

I am thrilled to be sharing this review with you today.

It is always wonderful to find good movies that inspire, and This Beautiful Fantastic is definitely one of those…

What the story is about…

A creative soul trapped by her fears, the somewhat eccentric Bella Brown finds her way out of her dark and obsessive little world through the process of cultivating a garden with the help of her cantankerous old neighbour and the friendship of a brilliant young inventor.

Along the way, old grievances are sprinkled with drops of kindness, and the unlikeliest of people are drawn together through a common interest.

My thoughts…

I will admit that during the first few minutes of the movie, I had my doubts, but, as time went on and the story began to take form, I found myself thoroughly enchanted.

It is somewhat arty in the way the pieces of the story come together, but truly magical and well worth watching.

There is also some good humour thrown in which brought everything together in a most delightful way.

Of course, being a gardener myself, I fully appreciated the references to the joy derived in creating a beautiful garden.

I have always maintained that tending the earth is one of the greatest forms of therapy, and this is something we see happening in This Beautiful Fantastic.

The characters…

In this story we see Bella overcoming her fears, forming meaningful friendships and discovering something about herself.

Through the tedious process of eliminating the weeds suffocating her yard, she creates something wonderful, not only in her garden, but in her life.

Jessica Brown-Findlay (The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society) did an incredible job of morphing into her complex character with such believability and depth of feeling, skillfully portraying Bella’s vulnerable and somewhat eccentric nature.
 Andrew Scott (Swallows and Amazons) played the role of Alfie Stevenson’s Irish cook, Vernon, to absolute perfection.

Originally, Vernon works for Alfie, who does not treat him as he should and shows no appreciation for Vernon’s culinary talent.

Upon meeting Bella, who shows him kindness, he decides to return the favour by cooking her breakfast the next morning and working for her instead, leaving his miserable boss in the lurch.

Vernon is an endearing character and adds an essential element of humour to the story.

Tom Wilkinson (Belle) played the cantankerous and controlling Mr Alfred Stevenson.

Mr Stevenson is Bella’s interfering old neighbour – a lonely man who has a great deal to share; his knowledge of gardening and stories of his travels.

As the story unfolds, we see Alfie gradually letting go of his bitterness and pain by reaching out to someone in desperate need of kindness and a helping hand.

The role of the brilliant young inventor, Billy Tranter, was played by Jeremy Irvine (War Horse).

Billy is passionate about his work, and at first it is this enthusiasm which draws Bella out.

The two discover they see the world through similar eyes and inspire each other to greatness.

Over time, we see that Alfie becomes something of a fatherly figure in Bella’s life, while Vernon takes on that of a caring and protective older brother.

The equally eccentric young inventor, Billy, starts out as Bella’s inspiration and friend, but over time their friendship develops into something more precious.

Final thoughts…

In This Beautiful Fantastic, we see these remarkable characters grow, let go of their prejudices and allow themselves to be brought together through something as simple as gardening.

This is one of those rare and wonderful movies that leave you smiling at the end and believing that sometimes all it takes is the willingness to lay aside old grievances and allow kindness to overcome all.

I would give This Beautiful Fantastic a rating of 4/5 stars and would recommend it for ages 12+.

Some mild language used but otherwise clean.

Have you seen This Beautiful Fantastic?

If so, what did you love most about this movie?

Have a blessed week, dear friends!


Sunday, 11 August 2019

August’s Daybook

 ^Sofia at the ocean.

Outside my Window ~

 It has been the loveliest of Sundays.

The day started out quite clear and the family went for a long, leisurely walk on the beach.

But this afternoon the weather has turned grey, so we have decided to go for a little drive along the coast and come home for hot chocolate.

In my cup ~

Coffee, of course.

Around the House ~

We are moving into our new home this week after a month at the beach.

We are eagerly anticipating being able to put some roots down and establish new routines and rhythms.

Reading ~

Whilst perusing a second hand store the other day, I came across a set of gorgeous old books, each one containing four classics such as, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Pride and Prejudice, Little Women and Wuthering Heights, to name but a few.  I read The Scarlet Pimpernel first and absolutely loved it.  My sister fortunately has one of the other books in the series in her collection, The League of the Scarlet Pimpernel, which I read in one day. 

Listening to ~

Josh Groban and Emmet Cahill…

Thankful for ~

 I am thankful for so many things – having my family home to stay…

…a month spent at the seaside…

…visits with dear old-time friends…

…my leg which I injured almost three months ago, has finally healed and I am almost back to full strength.

From the Kitchen ~

 I made a deliciously hearty soup a couple days ago which I am hoping to repeat.

It has been wonderful to do some cooking for the family again – this was something I missed while Nancy and I were on our own.

Creating ~

 Do dreams count?  I am afraid I have not been very creative lately.   
However, this will soon be remedied once we have settled into our new home.

Watching ~

I have watched very little over the past while except for Jamie Oliver’s Jamie at Home episodes which I watch over and over again for cooking and gardening inspiration.

What I am Wearing ~

 It is a homey sort of day, so I am being practical in jeans and a simple aqua blue blouse.

One of my Favourite Things ~

Sitting on the beach watching my little siblings paddle in the icy cold sea water and reading in between.

It is whale season in South Africa and we have spotted so many Southern Right whales with their young just beyond the breakers. 

Dreaming of ~

 I entertain high hopes of being able to plant a little garden this year. 

My mom and I are keeping our eyes peeled for old baths to use as containers for our vegetable garden.  We saw this concept a little while ago and were surprised at how good it looked. 

I am tired of having to buy fresh salad ingredients from the store and desperately want to grow my own, even in our suburban rental home.

I am Hoping ~

 I stumbled upon the sweetest little wooden chair at a second hand store a couple weeks ago.  I would really like to sand and paint it, and maybe even sew a cushion for it…

I also bought a stunning white dining room table (I fell in love with it and simply had to buy it) which I will use as a crafting table.

I am greatly enjoying my visits to second hand stores at the moment!

Quiet Moments ~

 Peace and quiet is something of the past now that our family are together again, but you will hear no complaints from me.  I missed having my siblings around me and being able to share life with those I love most in the world.

Mom and I played a game of Scrabble this morning and I was pleased as punch to beat her for the first time.

What is happening in your corner of the world this month, sweet friends?
Thank you for stopping by for a visit, dear readers...
Wishing each of you a beautiful week ahead!



Wednesday, 7 August 2019

Thursday Pearls

 Painting by:  Daniel Ridgeway Knight

"The great thing about faith in God is that it keeps a man undisturbed in the midst of disturbance."

~ Oswald Chambers

"I have set the Lord always before me:  because is at my right hand, I shall not be moved."

~ Psalm 16:8 

Thursday blessings, dear friends...

Wednesday, 31 July 2019

Thursday Pearls

Even the most regular, seemingly unimportant tasks of life must be shaped and directed by a heartfelt desire for the glory of God.”

~ Paul David Tripp, New Morning Mercies

So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

~ 1 Corinthians 10:31

Thursday blessings, sweet friends...and happy August!

Sunday, 30 June 2019

Slowing Down & Savouring || Come, Stay for Tea {A Guest Post by Elizabeth}

 Hello dear friends,
I hope your weekend was a truly delightful one!

Today my sweet friend, Elizabeth, from Ponderings from the Inglenook, is sharing a lovely guest post on taking time to slow down and enjoy something as simple as a cup of tea...
I am sure you'll be blessed by what she has to share...

Teatime is a chance to slow down, pull back 
and appreciate our surroundings.
-Leticia Baldridge-

Dear friends,
I invite you to savour a few moments of quiet and calm...
brew a pot of your most delicious tea,
choose the most beautiful teacup in your cupboard,
perhaps set a cookie or two, or maybe even a scone, on a pretty plate,
turn your phone to "silent" and turn off all the noises around you.
Curl up in a cozy, squishy chair or sofa, 
if it's cool enough grab a warm blanket or well-loved quilt.
 Sink down into your seat, cozy up,
and take a deep breath.
Soak that up...
that quiet and calm.
Drink it in, let it fill you up. 
May the words of this post bring peace to your spirit,
renewal to your heart,
and refreshment to your bones...
Emilie Barnes said that "the ritual and nature of tea invites us to pause during our day and to indulge in a soothing ritual." Take a few moments today and indulge in a relaxing, peaceful teatime.
The simplicity and comfort of tea gives us this same sense of connection with God. When we slow down, we have time to express our gratitude, lift up our needs and seek God's heart. And when we share tea with others, we can extend our understanding of faith to them, heart to heart. When we take the time for simple pleasures, like the ritual of tea, we also calm our thoughts and worries, and we make room for the ritual of spending time with God.*
 It's not the tea, in other words, that makes teatime special, it's the spirit of the tea party.
It's what happens when women or men or children make a place in their life for the rituals of sharing. It's what happens when we bother with the little extras that feed the soul and nurture the senses and make space for unhurried conversation. And when that happens, it doesn't really matter what fills the cups or holds the liquids.
It really isn't the tea.
It's the spirit of the tea party.*
Lord, grant me a giving heart that wishes to share the treasures of tea and hospitality and kindness. Remind me to bother with those extras that make the difference in the lives of family members, friends and strangers. Amen.*
Tea takes time-- and that's part of the magic.
You can't hurry it without losing something vital.
The act of making and drinking tea forces us to slow down--
and I truly believe our bodies and spirits are desperate to slow down
from the frantic pace our culture sets for us today.
People in our society don't like to wait, 
but you simply cannot hurry a good pot of tea.
You put on the kettle, then you must wait for the water to boil.
And while you're waiting, there are little things to attend to.
You rinse out the teapot.
You fill the cream pitcher and the sugar bowl 
and set out the teacup-- the prettiest one you have.
You might pick a flower or set a candle in its holder 
or rummage through the cabinet for a pretty plate.
Even if you haven't had time to bake,
you open a package of cookies and arrange them on the plate.
You see, boiling the water in a kettle is part of the ritual.
Arranging the tea party is part of the ritual.
Preparing and enjoying tea is a ritual in itself.*
Tea is a "Ceremony of Loveliness".
It takes so little to make us glad,
Just a cheering clasp of a friendly hand,
Just a word from one who can understand;
And we finish the task we long had planned,
And we lose the doubt and the fear we had---
So little it takes to make us glad.
-Ida Goldsmith Morris-
Enjoying a cup of tea is not like taking a summer off or going away on a retreat.
It's an island of calm you can reasonably visit in the course of your busiest day.
Once you make the decision to adjust your pace, 
you can relax and enjoy the journey.
Tea is like that too. 
You may need to change your mental gears to enjoy it fully.
You may need to practice waiting and learning to enjoy the repetitive freedom of the ritual.
But once you do, the change of pace will renew your mind and refresh your spirit.*
God, let me savour the sweetness and beauty of serving others and being with friends. 
I'm so thankful for such joys in my life. Amen.*
Nowhere is the English genius of domesticity more notably
evident than in the festival of afternoon tea.
The chink of cups and the saucers tunes the mind to happy repose.
-George Gissing-
The spirit of the tea party is, at least in part,
the spirit of beauty. And I'm fully convinced that we humans 
need beauty in order to live rich and fulfilling lives.
People grow and flourish when they are able to respond
to the beauty around them and create their own forms of beauty.
And the ritual of teatime allows room for both receiving and giving loveliness.*
The very act of preparing and serving tea encourages conversation.
The little spaces of time created by teatime rituals call out to be filled with conversation.
Even the tea itself-- warm and sweet and comforting-- inspires a feeling of
 relaxation and trust that fosters shared confidence.
It's not the tea, remember---
it's the spirit of the tea party.
And the spirit of the tea party is,
above all,
the spirit of true friendship.*
May the beauty and peacefulness of the ritual of teatime
fill you to overflowing with a renewed mind, refreshed spirit,
and a heart to share that beauty and peacefulness with those around you.
Bless you, dear friends!
Thank you for joining me for tea today.
Note: All sections marked with a star (*) are taken from Emilie Barnes' book, "The Tea Lover's Devotional".
Dear Elizabeth, thank you for being willing to share this beautiful post with my sweet readers today...

Do stop by Elizabeth's lovely blog, Ponderings from the Inglenook, for some sweet inspiration - she writes about the joy of home, everyday beauty and bookish ramblings.
With love in Christ,

Monday, 24 June 2019

a lovely kind of saturday.

Today was one of those lovely kinds of Saturdays;
the kind in which nothing truly wonderful or out of the ordinary happened,
but was filled with the simple little things that make for a happy sort of day.

When I got up early this morning to make a cup of coffee, it was pouring with rain, so I spent the first half the morning updating my diary, writing in my travel journal, and wrapping a few little gifts for sweet friends.
I even did a spot of sewing – I am currently working on a few new bookmarks.

I also thought I would put together a batch of apple and cinnamon muffins…
I discovered this delicious recipe while with my family in China, and have made them on several occasions.
I have shared the recipe at the end of this post.

As the falling rain subsided, and then eventually ceased somewhere during the course of the morning,
I decided I would set a pretty little tea table outside so Nancy and I could enjoy some sunshine and fresh air…

It was lovely to sit and chat and enjoy tea together after an industrious morning.

 Jasmine is sweetly blooming in our neighbour’s garden, spilling over their wall and into our yard.
We picked some to brighten our tea table and afterwards, freshen our house…

I always love having an excuse to use my pretty teacup collection.


These apple and cinnamon muffins are wonderfully light and ever so delicious.
They are the perfect tea time treat.

Even our kitty, Oscar, joined us for tea in the garden…
He loved soaking up the warm winter sunshine.

Apple and Cinnamon Muffins

2 cups plain flour

¾ cup brown sugar

4 tsp baking powder

1 tbsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp salt

1 cup milk/yoghurt/buttermilk

½ cup oil

2 eggs

2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, gated and juice squeezed out

2 tbsp sugar

1 tsp ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. 

Grease or line a muffin pan with baking paper.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.

Stir through the dry grated apple.

In another bowl, beat together the milk, oil and eggs.

Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet.

Stir until just combined – don’t overmix.

Divide mixture evenly between muffin cups, being careful not to overfill.

Mix the sugar and cinnamon together and sprinkle over each batter filled muffin cup.

Bake until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the muffins come out clean – about 13-15 minutes.

Leave to cool slightly before removing muffins from the pan.

And now, dear friends, I am off to read a bit and maybe take a nap.
We had a busy week catching up with friends and running errands and I feel quite tired suddenly.
I am hoping to do some piano practicing later this afternoon – Nancy has been giving me lessons and I am thoroughly enjoying this new found hobby!

Have a blessed weekend further!