Life as I know It

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San Luis Obispo, California, and South Bristol, Maine, United States
Author ~ Illustrator ~ Lecturer

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Take Peace–Take Joy

In unison, my grandchildren and I choose one special ornament to begin the decorating of the tree. This year my granddaughter Sara May chose the Christmas tree angel made by artist Julie Whitmore about 15 years ago. Sara cradled it in her arms then reached up and placed her as Asher, Ilyahna, and I hung our favorite things too.

Dear Friends,

"I salute You! There is nothing I can give you which you have not; but there is much, that, while I cannot give, you can take. No heaven can come to us unless our hearts find rest in it today. Take Heaven. No peace lies in the future which is not hidden in this present instant. Take Peace. The gloom of the world is but a shadow; behind it, yet within our reach, is joy. Take Joy. And so, at this Christmas time, I greet you, with the prayer that for you, now and forever, the day breaks and the shadows flee away."

Fra Giovanni (from a letter written in 1513)

This was sent to us by our friend Marilyn. I keep it inside one of my Mary Oliver books right by my bedside. I think it is wonderful.

Out came the boxes of ornaments...the dog and badger are bread dough by Julie Whitmore.

This is such an emotional time of the year for many of us. I can't help thinking of friends and family no longer with us, but as we hang their ornaments on the tree and talk about them with the younger members of our family, I can feel that invisible thread of tradition and love continuing, unbroken, into our futures.

The days will be at the shortest this week, but I don't dwell on the darkness. I think of the fact that from December 21st onward, the days will begin to lengthen. I am living in the scents of this season, but almost smelling the sea-scented air of summer time.

This thumb-sized snowman is an antique. I love him and look forward to nestling him into the branches every year.

Finally, after years of not being able to locate it (since we moved from Cambria), Jeff found the old Christmas tree fence for the base of our tree.

Last week a small package arrived from our dear friend Marilyn Brewer of Maine. Inside it were some old-fashioned clip on Christmas ornaments and this small stocking with the work "READ," worked into the knitting. This is a handmade piece from Christmas Cove Designs of Maine. Doesn't every author, librarian, and book lover need one of these?

This year when Jeff asked me what I wanted for Christmas, I said, "Nothing," but then I amended my words, "except I would really LOVE to have a fireplace mantel again." My wish came true. I found a four foot piece of virgin redwood in a dumpster outside an 1890 building renovation downtown. Think of it; they threw out a piece of redwood that was probably 3,000 years old when it was harvested in the 1890s. Jeff milled it, stained it, made the supports, and now I have it...and a place for my beloved German stick sheep that always graced my mantel in Cambria. My grands were so happy to have them back..."just like old times," my 13 year old said.

The fabulous wreath above the mantel is a gift from my talented friend Carol Umbarger of Creekside Farms, who supplies many famous retail companies with her handmade wreaths.

I know this is corny, but I love having the lights reflected against my pots and pans.

Tomorrow evening, eight special people in our lives will gather around the old farm table for a feast. Here is the wonderful thing, my friends know that I'll be working straight through the day for a deadline, and also getting ready for a small surgery, and so they are bringing the entire dinner. All Jeff and I have to supply is seating, etc.. So I just finished setting the table and will deck the center with fresh pine and cedar boughs tomorrow before they all arrive. What a great gift–friendship, a meal shared with people we love, candles flickering, a glowing fireplace, and the sweet scent of evergreen.

Above is my wish for you. Heaven give you many, many merry days!



P.S. Lowe's posted two of my on indoor plants, one on gifts for Christmas. Stop by the posting for a quick peek.


Unknown said...

Just lovely, esp the table! :) Merry Christmas!!

Unknown said...

Hello Dear Sharon,
I'm taking a break from wrapping gifts to check in on my " friends" in blogland today. It's looking like Christmas at your house... Love it all, the sentiments, traditions and your fab farm table too! Best with the ( small ) surgery too! Keeping heavenly thoughts for a speedy recovery!
love and hugs from across the miles..
Deb and family!

Donna@Gardens Eye View said...

Lovely sentiments. I love the ornaments especially the antique ones. How wonderful to find that incredible wood. Many blessings to you an yours this holiday season.

Thea said...

i love the face of your little antique snowman. have a wonderful Christmas, Sharon, Jeff and family. Thank you for the garden joy you share with me. You've opened my eyes to the more of gardening. thank you! thea

FlowerLady Lorraine said...

Dear Sharon ~ What a lovely post! I really love the quote by Fra Giovanni.

Your decorations are sweet as can be and I love the lights with your copper cookware.

How fantastic to have found that wood for your mantle that was lovingly created by your DH for your Christmas present.

Have a wonderful dinner with your friends.

May your surgery go smoothly and your recovery be swift.

May you breeze through your book to be done by the deadline.

May you and your family have a joyous Christmas and a wonderful 2012.


peg said...

So love that book, Sunflower Houses! It was great to meet you at Susan Branch's Antique Sale, too!

Love you blog! Merry Christmas.

peg ackerman

Hill Country Hippie said...

Is this where you leave a comment for a chance to win one of your books? I made a promise to myself to by them all, if and when I ever get grandkids. But, if I could go ahead and win one of them now, that would be even better, because it would give me time to study up in advance, and make lists of all the fun things I will teach and do with them some day!

Dan said...

Such lovely ornaments, and I love the traditions that go with them. I've never seen a Christmas tree fence before. What a lovely sentiment and picture - what an adorable little mouse.
Have a wonderful Christmas, Sharon!

Gert said...

Oh Sharon I love your traditions and those ornaments are so beautiful and unique! Your home looks so festive! I live it!

xoxo Gert

Donna OShaughnessy said...

wONDERFUL. I was all grumpy about silly family Christmas grumblings and then read your blog. Coupled with my favorite John Denver CD I am in a much better mood. Oh, how I love your blog!

Kay G. said...

Love everything about this post, it was lovely, thank you.
Peace and joy to you!

Pat said...

And many blessings to you and yours - wishing you all the best in 2012. Thank you for sharing your journey with us = no matter which coast you are on - I always look forward to reading your latest entry.

Larkrise garden girl said...

Hi Sharon,As it gets closer to Christmas Eve I think of all the people who have touched my Life with bringing their special way of living Life and showing me so many creative ideas. May you continue enjoying life and bringing little bits of sunshine into this complicated world we all live in.Merry Christmas,Cheri

Brenda@CoffeeTeaBooks said...

It was so nice to "see" you there this evening. :)

I must admit that I enter the Christmas season with mixed feelings. I love the sparkle of the season and the traditions (and the music!) but it also reminds me of those who are no longer with us.

My mother's birthday is also in December and I think of her often.

However, when I remember there really is a "reason for the season", how can I stay sad?

May you have a wonderfully blessed Christmas.

Linda Hoye said...

I so enjoy these glimpses into your decor. And I enjoyed the Lowes posts too!

Happy Christmas, Sharon!

Blondie's Journal said...

Your tree looks beautiful...I love your mixed ornaments...especially the bread dough little guys. You have so many pretties!

How sweet of your talented husband to make that mantel for you! It is really lovely! And the lights around your pot rack...genius!

Now I am off to read your Lowe's posts.

Merry Christmas, my friend!


Robin Larkspur said...

Sharon, I always get so happy when I see you have published a new post on your blog! The words and photos are picture perfect; the ornaments specially crafted, your table set for a cozy gathering. Many blessings of the Season to you. May the Light that is returning bring you much joy and warmth, good health and peace, and many treasured times. Love, from Robin.

Catherine@AGardenerinProgress said...

I love you Christmas decor and your new mantle! Most of our ornaments have some sort of memory or special person behind them. I enjoy being able to tell my girls about those people too. Hope your surgery goes well!

Pondside said...

What lovely wishes, Sharon. I too, will be printing off that first little piece from Fra Giovanni and keeping it where I can read it. I wish you all the joy of the season, and a wonderful time with whatever friends and family come to your door.

Debbie Robertson said...

I love your books- last I got was 'A Blessing of Toads'. I'm using elderberry berries from my garden in my front door wreath & ornaments. Two of my special handmade ornaments are 60 years old- made for me as a baby, & are the 1st placed on the tree. I need to make a special ornament for my new grand daughter Teagan! Any ideas?

farmlady said...

This post is so you. It reflects the way you live and your wonderful openness toward life.
"The gloom of the world is but a shadow; behind it, yet within our reach, is joy. Take Joy."
Fra Giovanni is right. I want to return this "prayer" to you in the hope that the New Year brings you many blessings and the joy that is always there behind the shadows.
Have a wonderful holiday.

Bonnie K said...

I love the mantel! Way to recycle. I can't believe anyone would throw that away. I'm glad you are enjoying the season with family and friends. Merry Christmas to you and Jeff!

kj said...

ah sharon, i get it. i think i live this way too. ♥ not to say life is easy sailing, but the little things, the special friends, the family traditions....

i am delighted to come here tonight. under the same sky, you are doing that and i am doing this...

and your friends who brought dinner, nothing better.

and that deadline: gitty up deadline! sharon needs to ready for the holidays!


Lori ann said...

such lovely traditions sharon, even the ones that feel a bit sad, they feel full of love still. and so glad the sheep have a home, i love that you rescued the redwood.
hugs and love,

Sonia said...

All your decorations are so wonderful..special and charming. I love things with history. That redwood mantel is so beautiful, a labor of love and what a lovely place to display your favorite family pieces! Hope your holidays are filled with joy, family and friends! Merry Christmas!
Miss Bloomers

Lemon Verbena Lady said...

Package is on its way. Hope it gets you through your surgery. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and the phone guy! xxoo Nancy P.S. Will never forget that phone ringing during your talk at Kathleen's! Sorry Jeff. You want to keep that phone busy just a bit!

Carol said...

Good Morning Sharon! This piece gives me such a warm feeling inside . . . as do most all of your work. I love all of your ornaments and that you share your many special gifts from dear friends. The letter of Fra Giovanni is perfect. To 'take' joy and peace makes so much sense. It is always there waiting for us to take even in times of darkness, sadness and especially challenging times. What a lovely way for friends to help you through to your deadline and they get to enjoy being in your company and magical environment. Best of Luck and quick healing with your surgery. Peace and Joy! Hugs, Carol

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Your words, like the caring meal made by dear friends, mean the world to me. Isn't it amazing how we've formed bonds through this strange new phenomenon called blogging? Love it.

Joys to all,


Sharon Lovejoy said...

hahahahahahah, Nancy, (Lemon Verbena Lady) attended a talk I gave in Chagrin Falls, Ohio (great and charming town). The talk was sponsored by our friend Kathleen Gips who owns the wonderful Village Herb Shop.

Before I began to speak I asked that everyone turn off their cell phones (what's worse than having one ring during a talk?). You could hear phones powering off throughout the auditorium.

I was speaking and all of a sudden a phone rang insistently. We all looked around. Jeff, who was sitting at the projector said, "Uh oh, its MY phone ringing." We all got a great laugh out of that.


Kristina said...

What a lovely, festive home you have! We are doing a minimalist Christmas this year and that will be ok. Things have just been too busy to do it up like I usually do but there is always next year! Have a Merry Christmas, Sharon!

Vee said...

Such a special sweet post, Sharon. What an incredible dumpster find! Your hubby was a dear to fix you all up with a "new" mantel. The letter is such a gift with so much wisdom. I enjoyed seeing your ornament treasures and your lovely tree. All the best this busy week...and somebody had to complicate that with surgery? 8{ (My niece is also having surgery least I shall have two hours of reading time.)

A blessed week to you and yours!

Off to read the Lowe's articles.

Stephanie Roth Sisson said...

Sharon! You're home looks so cozy and inviting. Each element so artfully chosen and cared for- so very you. xoSteph

Anonymous said...

Love your beautiful tree...and your beautiful reflecting pots. They are hard work to keep shiny, but I love my copper pots too...use them every day and it gives me kick every day to use them. From now on I will think of you every time I use mine!

Anonymous said...

I was so excited about your pots that I forgot the most wish you all the best with the surgery...I send you all my good wishes and love!!

scottweberpdx said...

Your house is SO CHARMING...just love the decorations...even the pots :-)

Storybook Woods said...

Hey Miss. Sharon, I love your home and am ready to move in (we can cook together!!). Pretty mantle and great gift idea. I know you are enjoying the season and cooking lots of yummy things. By the way I am so jealous of your Julie ornaments. I have been dying for one of her pieces for a long time. Have a cookie and think of me xoxo Clarice

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

Hi Sharon!

I will be back to re-read this wonderful post to follow all the links to all the cregtive people you wrote about!

Your mantel is lovely and such a fortunate find! All your decorations are so beautiful, both old ones and the new gifts of this year.

Best wishes on your upcoming surgery...I hope you feel better soon are are able to enjoy a lovely Christmas with your family! I look forweard to seeing your new book once it is published.


Maggie said...

A wonderful post full of all the joys of the season.
Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year from Normandie!

Mozart's Girl said...

Dearest Sharon. wishing you & Jeff all the joys of the season and much love, luck & happiness in 2012. It was very special to be able to talk to you on Thanksgiving! Hope that we meet again soon. Love this post as always, and all the beautiful images that accompany it xoxo Rachel

Julie Whitmore Pottery said...

No one decorates a Christmas tree like you....I'm so happy to be part of it! Bet it smells good at your house. All good thoughts for your upcoming surgery

sarah-jane down the lane said...

Your tree so full of treasures and memories is beautiful Sharon. Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year to you all,

with love, Sarah -x-

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Hi Clarice,

You DESERVE a Julie Whitmore piece! I've had some of mine since the mid 80s and I never tire of them. The cute thing is that my grand picked out the Christmas tree angel with no prompting from me.

Julie used to make ornaments for my shop, Heart's Ease. The two ornaments (dog Mattie and Badger) I couldn't resist...bought them from her for our tree.

She is a force of artistic nature.

Happy holidays dear Clarice,


Anonymous said...

Sharon I love all your blogs! I love seeing your tree and ornaments. I have a lot of handmade ones too.
I love all your books and know the new one will be wonderful.
Merry Christmas to you and your family!

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Dear Debbie,

What a sweet and love filled comment. You started my day with a flood of sunshine and I thank you.

All joys,


jerilanders said...

Sharon, first I must tell you that I ordered 2 copies of "Trowel and Error" off Amazon and they came in today, one a gift, one for me. I was just going to flip through the book quickly and ended up spending at least an hour devouring the wonderful tips and charming drawings. Saying all along," Oh, I will do that!" or " What a great idea!" or ' What a cool way to grow a pumpkin!",etc, etc. and I must tell you I am charmed with the little mole on page 47. Anyway, had to tell you that.
I love the mantle, the fact that it was "saved" that the wood is so ancient and that your husband created it for you. But I especially love the little stick leg sheepies, because I too, collect them.
The quote is quite wonderful. I guess it was the basis of Tasha Tudors, " Take Peace, Take Joy" book and videos.
Sweet Christmas to you and yours!

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Dear Jeri,

Your words mean so much to me.

Yes, I am sure that Tasha's works sprang from that quote.

I hope my little book is helpful to you.

Love and joy,


Anonymous said...

For some reason my blogger reader isn't updating your posts and i have missed some.
What lovely treasures you gathered over the years fromfriends.Beautiful.I love the dough ornaments, lovely and the antique snowman, the fence around the tree is such a lovely touch.
Your tabel looks warm and inviting, best wishes from our home to yours,

Marcie said...

A very Merry Christmas, Sharon. I wish you joy and peace in this beautiful season.


Dawn said...

Dearest Sharon,

How was your surgery? How are you feeling?

This was such a lovely visit into your home during the holidays. I am so smitten with that redwood mantel with the greenery and stick sheep! A mantel (and fireplace) are the only things I miss in our home.

I love picturing you, decorating the tree with your grands.

Happy Holidays my dear friend!!

xo Dawn

Lili said...

It's always so soothing to come and read one of your posts Sharon. The special little moments and traditions you share with your grandchildren always make me feel that all is right with the world. Imagine that redwood mantel was meant to find it's way to you! What a lovely display for your sweet little sheep with that gorgeous wreath above! And your copper pots and pans make me sigh even without the lights. Sending love across the miles and my wishes for a smooth surgery and recovery. Merry Christmas to you and Jeff. xoxo ~Lili

Terra said...

Your tree resembles ours in shape, fullness and so many old and treasured ornaments. The German stick sheep are sweet and I like the quote you included.
Merry Christmas.

Anonymous said...

Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas!!!

Zuzana said...

Dear Sharon, wishing you and yours a wonderful Christmas and all the best in the New Year - thank you so much for your kind visits in the past year,

Donna said...

What great traditions you have and are building with your grandchildren! I love the idea of the guests bringing the meal and all you do is provide the beautiful setting! Much less work and still that is a huge gift to your friends! Your home is warm and gracious...a place anyone would want to spend holiday!! Enjoy the rest of it, Sharon and hope all goes quickly and well with your "small" surgery!!


Hi Sharon, By now you've probably had your surgery. I pray all is well and that you're recovering comfortably. I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and may 2012 bring us many pleasant surprises. Hugs.

rebecca sweet said...

What a lovely post, Sharon. True to heart, as usual, and such a joy to read. I wish you and your family a very happy New Year, filled with peace and happiness. :)

Anonymous said...

This year I've been made aware of how holidays evolve. My mother created wonderful Christmas memories for me when I was a child; then, I was the one creating memories for my two children; now this year, while visiting my daughter & husband in Ohio, the torch passed to them. It was their first time to create not only for themselves but for me, my husband, and her brother. So much of what they did for the holiday shows hints of her grandparents, and signs of what we did for her. It is so reassuring to know that Christmas is in very safe, creative hands for this young couple.

Sharon, I'm wishing you and your fanmily the healthiest New Year. And looking forward to your enriching words and graphics during 2012.

A Bremen, Me. neighbor

Dee/reddirtramblings said...

Nothing is really corny if we love it so. Light and its reflection are beautiful. Thinking of you during this season of growing light.~~Dee