Happy Thanksgiving

Dear Claire,

 

We had our first snowfall here a couple of days ago – the perfect moment for your warming, spicy apple cider. Thank you for the recipe!

I’m looking forward to Thanksgiving. With everything that’s been going on in the world of late, I think it’s more important than ever for each of us to take a breath, give our time to each other, and remind ourselves of those simple things we’re grateful for.

I love this little children’s poem by Aileen Fisher:

All in a Word

T for time to be together, turkey, talk and tangy weather.
H for harvest stored away, home, hearth and holiday.
A for autumn’s frosty art, and abundance in the heart.
N for neighbors and November, nice things, new things to remember.
K for kitchen, kettle’s croon, kith and kin expected soon.
S for sizzles, sights and sounds, and something special that abounds.

That spells THANKS – for joy in living
And a jolly good Thanksgiving!

♥♥♥

I’m so thankful for our friendship, Claire!

Much love,
Sam

A delicious recipe for hot spiced apple juice

Dear Sam,

 

Hello again! I’m back because I wanted to share a quick recipe with you which I tried at the Neighbours’ Lunch that I was telling you about last time.  It’s perfect for this time of year and I thought it might come in handy during your Thanksgiving celebrations.

Warming mulled apple drink

Pour a 1 litre (1 quart) carton of apple juice (or, in the U.S, cider) into a large saucepan and add a cinnamon stick, broken into pieces, a quarter teaspoon of cloves, 2 star anise and 3 – 4 slices of fresh orange and lemon.

Then add 3 thin slices of fresh ginger root. Cover and heat gently until the mixture starts to steam, then leave for 15 minutes to infuse, tasting regularly until you are happy with the flavour.

If extra sweetness is needed, add brown sugar to taste.  Remove the fruit and spices with a slotted spoon and serve, garnished with slices of apple.

mulled apple juice
Serve in warmed glasses or mugs. You can sprinkle extra cinnamon on top.

If you try it out, do let me know what you think!  As you know, over here, we have Bonfire Night coming up on November 5th, and this would be a good recipe to serve at a firework party as it’s a handy alternative to mulled wine.

Much love,

Claire

 

What a difference a day makes

Dear Sam,

 

Thank you for telling me about World Smile Day and for sharing your tip about thinking of things you are grateful for while brushing your teeth. I’m off to the dentist this week, so it’s not only made me feel happier but will keep me in their good books, too!

I don’t know if it’s because the weather starts to get wintery in October, but it seems to be a month that’s full of special days to help us motivate ourselves. The next one for your diary fits right in with our aim here of suggesting small steps to making a differenceMake a Difference Day.

Different ways to brighten someone’s day

It started in the US about 20 years ago and the idea is to encourage everyone to do something good for someone because small actions add up to big ones. It falls on the last Saturday of October (this year it’s the 27th). You can volunteer or help with a community project;  near me,  a litter collection is taking place and a Neighbours’ Lunch has been organised to help bring people together and tackle loneliness.  If you’re looking for something simpler to do, you could  improve someone’s day by giving them flowers or baking a cake.

We-can-all-make-a-difference-mug
My Alzheimer’s Society mug says it all!*

Of course, I can’t write a post called What a difference a day makes without thinking about the song of the same name, so here it is sung by Tony Bennett – with a glimpse of Kermit the frog to make it even better – enjoy!

Much love,

Claire

* The mug is available from the Alzheimer’s UK shop

 

 

 

A smile and three ‘thank you’s

Dear Claire

 

It’s the first Friday of October, so Happy World Smile Day! It sounds as though you’ll have had lots to smile about in Italy!

This is World Smile Day in a nutshell:

  • The image of World Smile Day is the smiley face 😊
  • The smiley face was created by Harvey Ball back in 1963, in Worcester, Massachusetts.
  • He designed it as part of a goodwill campaign during the merger of two insurance companies.
  • But 1999 he was concerned that the use of the smiley face had become too commercialized, so he had the idea to use it as the symbol of a day to celebrate happiness.
  • The goal of World Smile Day is for everyone to do one act of kindness that makes one person smile. And thus the world will become a happier place.

From kindness to gratitude

I was reading about something else recently that is proven to make the world a happier place – over a delicious cappuccino, as it happened – and that is the act of gratitude.

coffee-1242153_1920
Happy Cappuccino

This white paper on the Science of Gratitude, published last May by UC Berkeley, cites many research studies, one of them showing that people who wrote down three things that went well over the course of one week, and identified the causes of those good things, reported increased happiness a whole six months after the intervention!

So on this World Smile Day, perhaps it’s worth us not only engaging in an act of kindness but also beginning the practice of deliberate gratitude. And to help make it a habit, how about thinking of three things for which we are grateful each morning, during the very activity that enhances a smile – brushing our teeth!

smurf-139993_1920
Smiley Smurf

Of course the Smurfs may or may not be one of them….

Lots of love,
Sam

A postcard from Liguria

Dear Sam,

 

I enjoyed reading about the difference the Free Rice game has made to so many children and it was nice to start September with some good news!

Boat trips, food and sunshine…

For us, since W left school, the autumn has become a time to take a break and, you’re quite right that by the time you read this, we’ll be on our way home from Italy.  We’re visiting Liguria, in the north west, for the first time. I’m looking forward to exploring and our plans include a boat trip to Portofino, walks around the Cinque Terre and perhaps a visit to Boccadasse where some of my favourite Inspector Montalbano series has been filmed.

Cinque Terre

Of course, I’m also looking forward to some good food.  I gather Liguria is known for its olive oil, focaccia bread and seafood and that snacks called stuzzichini are popular, so those will all be on our menu!

Stuzzichini
Stuzzichini – snacks – perfect with a glass of wine.

When we get home, it will actually be time for me to go back to school myself as I’ve signed up for some classes, including Italian. I’ll have to try to get in some practice while we’re in Italia!

Much love,

Claire