Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Living With Hope

I collected sea glass all summer.  Every year I add a few pieces to an existing collection  I inherited from my grandmother.  This small bowl of colors represents countless walks on wet sand, strolling along in the sunshine while listening to the glorious sounds of the waves crashing against the shore.  My grandmother used to keep her collection in a glass bottle in her living room.  When I was little I would love to dump it out on the rug and spread out all the colors. I thought they were so beautiful and I wanted to touch them all the time.  A few years ago my mother gave me my grandmothers bottle, and ever since that day I have been adding to her collection.  Whenever I see sea glass I think of my Nana and all her walks on the beach collecting glass.

This summer I also collected white shells from the beach where my son took his swimming lessons.  I got a gold pen and wrote some of my favorite words on each shell - "Peace", "Love", Joy", "Faith", and the one you see above..."Hope".   For me it's a reminder of good things to come.  Everyone needs Hope.  What would life be without Hope?

These past few days I've noticed things starting to change.  There has been a funny chill in the breeze in the early morning and late evening.  Last night we noticed that it's starting to get dim a little bit earlier every night.  It is late August after all.  This could only mean that Autumn is on it's way.  As I've said before I love the fall.  It's by far my favorite season.  By now we've had our fill of Summer, and although it was a great summer - all good things must come to an end - so better things can begin...that's Hope. 

I didn't do as much reading this summer as I planned on.  I spent more of my time writing than I did reading.  I did manage to read The Help, which I loved to pieces, and now I'm reading A Reliable Wife.  So far I like it a lot.  I'm not a fast reader and I have to be in the mood to read, but when something catches my interest I can't put it down.  Most people enjoy reading in the summer.  I love to read in the Fall, when it cool and I can curl up with my green fleece blanket, a hot cup of tea, and my coziest slippers.  I have to be ready for bed when I start reading because chances are almost a hundred percent I'll fall asleep.  I think that's why it takes me so long to finish a book.  I keep dozing off.  I see and hear about so many good books out there that I would love to read.  I'll get to them eventually.  I Hope.

I made a deal with myself that I would wait until after my son's birthday to start thinking about fall.  I kept good on my promise.  We had a great birthday party and yesterday we made our last beach trip of the season. Wow, did the summer go by fast.  BUT the car has now been vacuumed and beach pails and shovels have been put away.  He starts pre-school in a few weeks and I'm officially in "back to school" mode.  Things are going to change this year and I'm so excited for him.  I can't wait to see him grow and learn.  I'm such a proud mother. 

I ventured down into my laundry room storage today and this is what I saw.  The fall decorations are just begging to be brought upstairs. Aren't the colors beautiful? Such a change from the soft pastels of summer.  Both are lovely. I think it's just nice to see a change.  Thank you New England for that. 

I didn't unpack anything yet, I was just snooping. I opened one of my storage bins and I saw these cuties smiling at me.  The fall bin is my favorite.  What is it about pumpkins that makes me so happy?  You will see these guys throughout the house within a week or two.  It's only a matter of time.  Mulling spices, old fashioned ticking clocks, candles burning in red and amber glass votives.  It's all coming.  I have Hope...

Can you see the grapevine wreath with the pumpkin ribbon wrapped around it?  (It's nestled right in front of the Christmas wreath).  That's what will hang on my front door.  The inpatients and geraniums on the front steps will be replaced with mums in vibrant purple and rust colors. This year I also want to attempt to make luminaries out of brown paper lunch bags.  I've always thought they looked so nice in the fall.  I want to line my steps with them. That's another thing about "back to school" season.  I have an incredible urge to make things. Crafting, sewing, cooking - creativity is in the air. 

There are many a Sunday in the fall where hubbie and I are out in the yard, raking leaves, planting mums, or pushing our little one on the swings.  We are always prepared: warm sweaters, sneakers with thick, warm socks inside, and a thermos of espresso.  That's all we need to keep us warm on a chilly fall day.  After that we come inside for a football game on TV and a hot bowl of chili with shredded cheese and onions on top.  AND a side of cornbread of course.  Ahhhh.... so many recipes to look forward to.  Hope City...

In the spirit of all these feelings I was having today I wanted to do some baking.  I resisted the urge to make pumpkin bread, even though I really wanted to..... but I figured there will be plenty of time for that. 
Instead I decided to make one of our favorite treats.  Espresso Brownies.  So chewy and chocolaty. I add a teaspoon of espresso coffee to the batter.  It enriches the chocolate taste with just a hint of mocha flavor.  Here's what you need to make them:

2 oz squares unsweetened chocolate (I used Bakers brand)
1/3 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp espresso coffee (or regular instant coffee can be used instead)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a large saucepan on low-medium heat melt chocolate and butter.  Be careful not to burn chocolate.

Once melted remove from heat.  Add sugar, egg, flour, pinch of salt, and vanilla.  Stir in a heaping kitchen teaspoon of espresso coffee...

Stir in nuts...

Spread into a greased 8x8 glass baking dish.  Bake for 30-35 minutes. 

Cool completely before cutting.  Makes 12 chewy chocolaty lunch box treats.  Wrap individually in wax paper and put in a loved ones lunch box.  Hubbie is getting his tomorrow. 

Or serve with freshly brewed espresso as a mid afternoon treat...

Don't we all need a little mid afternoon "pick-me-up sometimes?  Maybe I'll pack one in my own lunch tomorrow.  It's the little things that warm us inside and make our days just a little bit better.
Brownies make me happy.

After all this talk about fall I just realized something.  The best part about the summer coming to end is the hope that it will be back again.

The hope that my new blue Rose of Sharon bush will bloom again after the frost. 
The hope that this Fall will bring us luck and blessings.
The hope that each and every day we will live with our eyes wide open to see the goodness around us.
And the hope that my brownies will survive the night. 
I can only hope..

Happy "almost Fall" everyone.  Let's enjoys these last days of August.  September is right around the corner. 



  1. ooh i AM thinking fall.. it's been soo hot here that I am ready for an iceberg! Love your chocolate treats.. a lot. great photos! great post.. xo marlis

  2. Oh The Reliable Wife! So good! Amazing twists!

    Love the colors of the sea glass.