Tuesday, December 31, 2013

POSITIVELY 2014!


by Mauverneen
 
 

Well, it’s that time again – time to raise a glass and welcome a brand new year or maybe kiss goodbye to one that wasn't particularly good to you. Time to make some new resolutions. Or just recycle the old ones that you never kept or never got around to. Get more exercise, call friends more often, clean out that spare room – okay, well, maybe more there’s more than one room. Maybe there’s the garage and the basement too.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

POSITIVELY CHRISTMAS



Last Christmas I shared one of my Christmas memories with you. This year I have another.  This one appears in A Cup of Comfort for Mothers. 

 
Empty Nest Christmas
 
     My youngest daughter moved out of the house just a few weeks before Christmas – the last one of the three to leave the nest.  But it was okay. It was time to move on, for both of us.  She was ready to assert her independence, and I was ready to make a few changes to the house – a new guest bedroom, for instance.  She also took her dogs – all three of them – and the house was, indeed, quiet.  Ahh, sweet bliss!  Visions of long, uninterrupted bubble baths began to emerge.

    “Oh Mom, are you going to be okay?” lamented daughter number two as she helped me unpack my Christmas decorations.  “You’re going to be all alone when you wake up on Christmas morning.”

     Pop! There went that bubble of idyllic solitude.  I hadn’t thought of waking to an empty house on Christmas morning. 

     “Are you going to hang your stocking?” she asked.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

POSITIVELY A Few Of My Favorite Things


by Mauverneen
 

What are your favorite holiday signs? Lights? Cookies? Tinsel?  There are so many things to choose from.

 
I like …

the way things sparkle with glitter, especially by candlelight.
brightly wrapped presents, big or small
the smell of peppermint, and of cookies baking.
And sampling them warm from the oven.
 
 

 I like…

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

POSITIVELY SHOPPING

by Mauverneen


Another Positively Tuesday! I hope everyone is Positively looking forward to all the joys that Christmas brings. Decorated trees, carols, lights, fresh baked cookies, time with those we love, and Christmas shopping. Shopping? Who looks forward to that!?

I’m hoping to make YOUR shopping a little easier. Did you know I have a line of note cards of my photos? Well, I do! Take a peek and maybe you can scratch  one or two names off your list. Teachers, friends, gift exchanges, thank you gift or hostess gift – my cards are professionally printed and boxed for gift giving. You can see the full line on my website. http://mauverneen.com/Notecards%20page.html

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Positively ILLUMINATION

by Mauverneen



Christmas is right around the corner and malls, parks, zoos and individual homeowners are putting up holiday displays.  Trees, nativity sets, plastic snowmen – what have you.  And lights.  Lots and lots of lights. 

The Morton Arboretum in Lisle Illinois is putting on a very different kind of light show this holiday season. Called Illumination, it is a show of lights that celebrates trees in a very festive and totally different way. It is a one-of-a-kind lighting event and the first ever for the 91 year old arboretum.

 
Visitor Center and outdoor sitting area

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

POSITIVELY TIFFANY

by Mauverneen


Somehow, I just never put the two together. Tiffany Jewelers, Tiffany glass. They are Father and son.

Tiffany vase

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Positively Opulent - From Mansion to Museum

by Mauverneen

It’s always a pleasure to ‘discover’ some little known gem you’ve somehow missed in your own backyard.  Chicago is extremely rich with history and lore so coming across a treasure like the Driehaus Museum is a rich pleasure indeed.

Formal dining room with original table
 Unlike the palatial Biltmore or Hearst residences, the former Nickerson Mansion is an unassuming structure in modern Chicago’s downtown landscape of glassy highrises. Located at 40 S. Erie between Michigan Ave and State Street, a look at the fa├žade would never give away what opulence lies behind those carved front doors. But step inside and it is no less luxurious and impressive.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

POSITIVELY LEAFY

by Mauverneen

A walk in the park
Walking through the woods on a recent, glorious autumn day it occurred to me that not all leaves are created equal.


Faaall....ing

They are not the same shape, not the same size, not the same color. Varying shades of green top the trees in spring and summer and in the fall – well, everybody knows what happens to leaves in the fall. Reds, yellows, oranges; all those lovely warm jewel tones! The leaves may be saying goodbye, but they are bright and colorful as if to add ‘don’t be sad. We’ll be back!’
 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

POSITIVELY Haunting the Cemeteries


The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone.
                                                                                                                                                                             -        Harriet Beecher Stowe

I have a confession to make – I like cemeteries. 


I don’t find them spooky or scary though, I find them peaceful - as they ought to be. Places of contemplation and rest eternal. Most people don’t think of them as travel destinations, but truth be told, I enjoy visiting them. Some of the highlights of my trips have included  visits to cemeteries; Metairie, Arlington, and Verdun to name a few. Some of Chicago’s cemeteries are said to be haunted but I have yet to visit any of those nor have I been to Al Capone’s grave. Definitely on my to-do list.

 
I don’t know where the fascination comes from, but I’m definitely not the only one who haunts cemeteries. Sometimes it’s the history of a place that grabs you, sometimes it’s just reading the dates on tombstones from another century, and sometimes the draw is the celebrity who now 'resides' there. James Dean’s tombstone in Indiana still gets covered with lipstick kisses, as does Oscar Wilde’s in Paris. Not to mention flowers from still adoring fans.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

POSITIVELY PUMPKINS

by Mauverneen

Pumpkins, gourds, mums and some straw - beautiful! And all natural!

It’s Ocpumpkintober!  Pumpkins are everywhere - pumpkin pie, pumpkin beer, pumpkin soup, pumpkin bread, pumpkin – everything! Pumpkin farms with their corn mazes and hayrides out to the pumpkin patch are a popular destination for field trips this time of year and EVERYbody wants to carve out some cool jack o’lanterns.

I had the pleasure of attending an entirely different type of pumpkin fest this past weekend – The Glass Pumpkin Patch at The Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Illinois. It was their third annual, but it was my first time visiting and I surely will go again – in fact, I already have it on my calendar for next year!

Pick a color - ANY color

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

POSITIVELY MOUTH WATERING

by Mauverneen

I did something yesterday I haven’t done in years. I made green tomato relish.


I haven’t done any canning at all in recent years so I admit I was a little nervous about it. I had to run out and buy some jars and lids since I have no idea what happened to mine. If I didn’t sell them all at the garage sale before I moved several years ago, twice, they are in boxes somewhere and I didn’t have time to go looking. Running out to the store was the easy part. Picking and chopping took much longer.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

POSITIVELY MY KIND OF TOWN


by Mauverneen

Looking into the city
 
Although I grew up about 40 miles southwest of a world class travel destination - that great big wonderful windy city of Chicago, I tend to take it for granted. And like most people around here, I don’t get there often enough. A fact that hits home whenever I do get there. ‘Why don’t I come here more often?’ is what I ask myself every time! 



Iconic guardians of the Art Institute

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

POSITIVELY HUMMING AROUND

by Mauverneen
A twisted wire hanger makes a great perch
 
It’s mid September. The hummingbirds are gearing up for their migration to points south.  I'll miss the little buggers!  They have kept me occupied many a summer day; making their sugar water, filling their feeders, watching them chase each other away from the feeders, and of course, trying to capture that perfect shot with my camera. They’re fast and not easy to catch. When I set up my tripod in front of the feeders the game is on.  If I focus over ‘here’, they are over ‘there’, and as soon as I move over ‘there’, they prefer it ‘here’!  I swear they know what’s going on.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

POSITIVELY WINDOW SHOPPING

by Mauverneen


window shopping in the rain
Window shopping. An engaging, indulgent pastime intended to while away the hours  daydreaming, while building up our defensive skills learning to say no to temptation. It’s an inexpensive diversion that is akin to buying a lottery ticket – for a few hours you can be as rich as a Bill Gates or a Donald Trump. You can eyeball the same $38,000 handbag as Oprah - if you happen to be in the same neighborhood.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

POSITIVELY BOUNTIFUL!

by Mauverneen


Sweet Corn!
It’s the time of year to start harvesting nature’s bounty! At different times in my life I have picked blueberries in Illinois, peaches in Arkansas, cherries in Wisconsin, strawberries in Florida and Apples in Michigan.

Door County,WI Cherry Orchard

Bushels of fresh picked peaches

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Be Happy


“Consider the lilies of the field; they toil not, neither do they spin: and yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” (Matt. 6:28-30)

 


In other words “Don’t worry. Be happy.” (Bobby McFerrin)

 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Have a POSITIVELY Positive TUESDAY

by Mauverneen


A POSITIVELY BEAUTIFUL sky

It’s Positively Tuesday! Enjoy your day, say no harsh words, think no negative thoughts. Enjoy your lunch – don’t rush through it. Same for dinner. Savor each bite. Sip your wine, or your coffee – taste it and enjoy it.
 
The glass wasn't always empty
 
In other words, be nice to yourself. Treat yourself to something you enjoy - Have a cookie, or a milk shake or a glass of wine. Take a drive in the country. Enjoy the sunset - or the sunrise. Stay up late and look at the stars. The Perseids meteor shower is at its peak. 'Shooting stars' are magical. Make a wish.
 
 
The night sky
 
 

Pick a day (it doesn’t have to be today) but just pick a day for yourself. And be nice to yourself. Treat yourself like company. Use the china, get out the good silver. Who better deserves it?
 
A lovely Quiche

Stop and Smell the Coffee

"There's an expression in neuroscience: Neurons that fire together wire together. This means that new patterns of thought can actually change the physiology of our brains. So while we can't ignore bad news, we can train our brains to become more alert to good information. When you notice a positive detail in yourself or someone else, or in your environment, try savoring it for at least ten seconds. Most of these observations will be as simple as 'the sun is shining' or 'this coffee tastes good,' but do this a handful of times each day and you'll feel an emotional shift." —Rick Hanson, PhD, neuropsychologist and coauthor of  Buddha's Brain

Interesting isn't it?  Scientific reasons to stop and smell the roses.


A glorious bunch of roses
 
Right now I’m smelling the wonderful aroma of blueberry muffins baking in the oven. And I know I’m going to savor Every. Single. Bite.


Coffee and Freshly baked muffins
 
Oh, by the way, today is Official ‘Blame Somebody Else Day’. So, if I eat too many muffins– it’s your fault.

Interested in photo prints? Contact me! maureenblevins@yahoo.com
and visit my website: http://mauverneen.com
 




Tuesday, August 6, 2013

POSITIVELY PEACEFUL

by Mauverneen

The world is a peaceful place at 6 in the morning.  Before the traffic noises begin, before the hurrying and the rushing and the deadlines that begin to loom. The birds sing and fly about, looking for breakfast, the deer tentatively creep out of the woods, the flowers turn their faces upwards hoping for sun. Light breezes stir the leaves and the grass as if mother nature herself were passing by.


 Early mornings are full of promise. The promise of sun, the promise of rain, the possibility of new opportunities; aspirations, motivations, resolution and enthusiasm all prosper in that peaceful calm.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

POSITIVELY CLASSIC!

by Mauverneen

1952 Aston Martin Lagonda
European Renaissance: European Post-War Best in Class, Barrington Concours
A Concours d'Elegance (competition of elegance) dates back to 17th Century France, when the aristocracy paraded their horse-drawn carriages in the parks of Paris during Summer weekends. As carriages became horseless the gatherings became a competition among automobile owners on the appearance of their cars.

 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Positively Stifling

It's H O T today!
This is how it feels today

I think we should all go sit outside for 5 minutes, with an ice cold lemonade or a tall frosty beer if you prefer, and store this day in your memory bank so you can pull it up next January when it's 10 below! 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Happy Anniversary to the Lincoln Highway



by Mauverneen
Lincoln Highway display at the Joliet Historical Museum
                      
If you live anywhere along the Lincoln Highway  you probably are aware that this year marks it’s 100th Anniversary. It was the first paved coast to coast highway, an idea conceived by a man named Carl G. Fisher, an automobile and racing enthusiast who built the Indianapolis Speedway.

CCCA on Tour

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

POSITIVELY ROCKING

by Mauverneen


I love rocks. I’m a sucker for a pretty stone. I pick them up on hikes, at the beach, in parking lots… If it catches my eye I will check it out and often slip it into my pocket.

I have little collections of rocks from Nevada, Washington, New Mexico, South Dakota, Arizona and the Crater of Diamonds Diamond Mine in Arkansas. Pretty much anywhere I’ve been. Pretty little things that caught my fancy.


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

POSITIVELY CHARLESTON


by Mauverneen

From the Lowcountry of South Carolina we traveled up to the city of Charleston to spend a couple of days.

I have to say Charleston is one of the most walkable cities I’ve ever been to. Our bed and breakfast was located just half a block off King Street (a shopaholic’s dream) - in a large old house with a charming courtyard in the back – and a porch that was perfect for breakfast and afternoon tea.
 
City Market
In Charleston
























We walked King Street, walked to the old city Market, to historic houses, to restaurants and to the dock where we caught the ferry over to Fort Sumter and walked some more. It’s a pleasant 30 minute, narrated ride to the Fort with great views of Charleston Harbor, one of the 10 busiest ports in the U.S.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

POSITIVELY PARTYING IN THE LOWCOUNTRY

by Mauverneen

View of the Lowcountry

We were invited to a party. A party down in the Lowcountry of South Carolina. I had been invited there before but the timing was never right and I was never able to make it. This time there were no excuses not to go. It was the impetus for a road trip.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

POSITIVELY ON THE ROAD

Getting packed
I’m planning a short road trip - heading to Charleston, South Carolina for a few days. I already know it won’t be enough time, but it’s a getaway none the less.  We’re hoping for smooth roads, no traffic jams and of course, good weather.

Road trips call out to a lot of us this time of year, don’t they? Actually, to me it’s more of a scream than a whisper. Come on! What are you waiting for?? Get going! There's nothing like the promise of an open road stretching out in front of you.
 
Arizona calling

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Positively Trouble


The Midnight Bandit
by Mauverneen


Another Tuesday morning finds me out in my yard early in the morning watching the birds.
Not only have I had trouble with the squirrels getting into the bird feeders but now I have a vandalous raccoon!

Every morning the shepherd's hook is bent and the feeders are down, seed scattered. I've caught the bugger red-handed or however you would catch a masked bandit. he only stares at me, daring me to try and take back the feeder.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

POSITIVELY BOOKISH



May 13 – 19 is Children’s Book Week. Encouraging children to read is one of the best things adults can do for them.
Books open up new worlds, new friends, new opportunities. As a kid, I was a bookworm. I always had my nose in a book. Being an only child, with books I never lacked for company. I was the only one in my class – maybe even in the school – that looked forward to the Bookmobile. I loved when the bookmobile showed up. Stepping inside the compact space I couldn’t wait to see what books had been added, what new friends awaited me, what new delights I could take home. I don’t think those of us who loved books as kids ever outgrow our love for reading. Even today, I like to end my day propped up in bed, with a good book.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Positively May Flowers

by Mauverneen
Forsythia


Hepatica and Dandelions
















The April showers have brought the May flowers. After wading through the rainy, gray days of early spring, we are being rewarded.  From gray it went to green as the grass needed mowing and leaves started popping, and now we are going to full-blown color. Clumps of brightly colored tulips, blue wildflowers, yellow dandelions and forsythia, and shades of pink on a variety of budding trees catch the eye. It feels like going from Kansas to Oz!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

POSITIVELY FOR THE BIRDS

by Mauverneen                                                
 












I have filled my hummingbird feeder and hung it outside, just in case there are any – um, you know - early birds. So far, all I have is a feeder full of ants. But they’ll come. They always do. Quick, lively and colorful, they are always fun to watch and a challenge to photograph. I’m also wondering when the Indigo Buntings will show up. Another sure sign of spring.


Hummingbird at the feeder

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

POSITIVELY PARKS

Crater Lake
by Mauverneen 
It’s National Park Week!

I don’t know how many I’ve actually been to – not many when I look at the entire list – but I can say that I have definately been impressed with the ones I’ve seen. One of the best things the government has ever done for it’s citizens, in my opinion, is to protect and preserve these historic, and natural areas for our enjoyment and the enjoyment of the thousands of foreign visitors they attract each year.