Nature’s Colors

Hi Friends!

May has always been my very favorite month in the garden! I truly love walking amongst my perennials and herbs early each morning to discover the daily changes. Nature’s colors delight my creative heart and fill me with inspiration daily. It’s time to share a few May garden musings and memories…

Earlier this month, I spent a lovely day tidying up my Potting Bench. Oh, how I love this little corner of my 100-year-old garage! This one-car garage was built for the Model T Ford in 1922. The original family built this garage, added a pot belly stove, and lived in the garage while building the cozy, little bungalow that became my ‘Home Sweet Home’ thirty-six years ago.

Their old workbench became my Potting Bench soon after I moved in. The garage walls are paneled with wood from shipping containers. Freight trains carried these containers, filled with goods, across the country to Illinois. I often stop to read the stenciled names of the cities of origin on each panel and wonder what those wooden crates held. I love to tie back the curtain and savor the view of my old-fashioned cottage garden.

Our frost-free planting date here in Zone 5b is May 15th. We had several very cold nights in early May. So, this year I knew it was best to wait patiently before planting containers for our front porch and deck. I used the extra time to make a thoughtful shopping list of annuals and a few perennials.

When Spring planting day finally arrived, I excitedly made an early morning visit to a nearby garden center. Just a few steps from my car, I passed a beautiful container filled with a mix of pink and yellow annuals. Oh my! It stopped me in my tracks… and filled me with such JOY! So, my carefully planned shopping list stayed in my pocket as I filled my shopping cart with only pink and yellow flowers.๐Ÿ’• It was such fun to plant all of our containers with such happy colors!

๐Ÿƒ๐ŸŒธ๐Ÿƒ What kind of gardener are you? Do you stay true to your plan or follow your heart when you are choosing new plants?

This month, I also made several early morning trips to our city’s free wood chip pile in a nearby park. These arborist chips always feel like my ‘reward’ for tidying up a garden bed. I fill my bags and pack them into my Subaru as I welcome Springtime into each perennial bed.

My Friendship Garden bed is filled with color this week. These plants have come from the gardens of dear friends. Sharing plants is one of the special joys of gardening! The peonies and tulips in this garden bed were already growing here when I became a gardener so long ago. Irises in bloom are a celebration of a very long friendship with a very special friend in Germany!

These tulips changed each and every day during their bloom cycle. It was so fascinating to watch them!

Daisies have always had a special place in my garden. However, this is the first year I have grown Gerbera daisies. Their large, cheery blossoms seem to follow the sun as it moves across my garden. I planted them near a bee bath and lavender in a sunny, new garden bed this Spring.

It’s been several years since I planted flower seeds in my garden. So, I scattered a few varieties in the new bed and am trying so hard to keep the seeds moist. Although May is typically our rainiest month, this year we are experiencing moderate drought conditions. We are almost 4 inches (10 cm) below our typical May rainfall. So, I have been hand watering daily as we wait for a rainy day.

Our peonies are putting on a lovely show this week. They have lived here even longer than I have!

Color, color everywhere… and it’s only just beginning!! I look forward to sharing this special year of gardening with you. Just wait until you see all of the changes coming! I have been digging, transplanting, sharing plants with friends and neighbors, and soon will have a BIG surprise in the garden to share. ๐ŸŒธ

In the meantime, I have a very important gardening question for you…

๐Ÿƒ๐ŸŒธ๐Ÿƒ Do you ever talk to your plants while you are in the garden????

As I joyfully work in the garden, I always talk with the flowers, bunnies, robins, hummingbirds, bees, and even the noisy woodpecker in the neighbor’s tree. Just wondering if I am the only one?

Heartfelt thanks for stopping to visit today! ๐Ÿ’• Please let us know what’s happening in your garden this Spring. Are you trying anything new? Do you have a favorite gardening tip to share with us? We’d love to hear from you!

Perennially yours,

๐Ÿ’— Dawn

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A Precious Gem!

Susan Branch speaking at Westmoreland Country Club

Hi Friends!

What a JOY to celebrate a wonderful artist, author, and heartwarming, creative soul who has touched so many lives around the world! Susan Branch is truly a precious gem, who sparkles like a diamond… especially today. Happy Birthday, dear Susan!! ๐Ÿ’•

To know Susan is to love Susan! She has been a constant source of inspiration to me from the moment that I discovered her very first book, Heart of the Home, in a small, independent bookstore in 1986. I was smitten! Hand lettered, with charming watercolored illustrations, all of Susan’s 42 books (including several small, keepsake books) are a treat for the soul!

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It was Susan Branch who inspired my Herb & Tea Garden surrounded by a white, picket fence, after I read Summer in 1995. It truly is the heart of my garden.” ๐Ÿ’—

Susan celebrates the importance of lifetime friendships in her lovely book Girlfriends Forever (2000). Susan’s wonderful blog is a gathering place for Girlfriends from her worldwide audience of dedicated readers. It was Susan Branch who inspired me to begin writing a little blog of my own nine years ago. I’m so very grateful for all of the wonderful friends that I have met through the wonderful world of blogging! ๐Ÿ’

Susan loves meeting her Girlfriends… and we are always overjoyed when book signings and tea parties are planned in her honor! Over the years, I have felt so fortunate to meet Susan several times. I have become longtime friends with many of the kindred spirits that I met at Susan’s events. Susan’s Girlfriends feel a heartfelt connection right from the start!

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In recent years, Susan has been inviting her Girlfriends into her home for lovely virtual visits. We have gathered together in her kitchen and have chatted in her living room. What fun to be among many hundreds of fans enjoying time together with Susan!

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Susan Branch book collection
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Susan Branch’s books have inspired so many of our treasured family holiday celebrations over the years. She even inspired me to read The Artist’s Way several years ago. My heart is filled with gratitude for all of the ways Susan has made my life sweeter.

She is truly a precious gem!

Visit Susan’s blog ~ http://susanbranch.com

Search ‘Susan Branch’ in my blog archives for many posts

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Which Susan Branch book is your favorite?

Which of Susan’s books would you like to read?

Hope you will share your favorite Susan Branch memory with us!

Warmest hugs,

๐Ÿ’— Dawn

Blossom by Blossom…

Hi Friends!

Blossom by blossom… Spring has been tiptoeing into the Midwest. Oh, what joys it brings! My gardening heart celebrates each and every tiny, green sprout and blossom in my perennial and herb gardens. I hope you are feeling this sense of renewal in your little corner of the world, too!

During mild days over the past several weeks, I enjoyed many, many brisk, delightful walks in the park. As a reward for getting my ‘steps’ in, I always enjoy a visit to the conservatory in the park. Each time I visited the Spring Flower Show, I lingered as I followed the winding path among the colorful blossoms. I admired the Kalanchoe (above) with its clusters of tiny flowers. This succulent is an easy-to-grow houseplant, with long-lasting blossoms. Large Amaryllis and dainty Cyclamen blossoms lined the path around the peaceful fish pond. I adore growing Cyclamen as houseplants. Even when they are between bloom cycles, their heart-shaped leaves are just lovely!

As the weeks passed by, tiny blossoms began to appear in the outdoor gardens in the park. Crocus and Snowdrops are some of our earliest blooms. I’m certain that some of our gardening friends will know the name of these sunny, yellow blossoms that naturalized so easily in the park. I think they would be a wonderful addition to my garden!

‘Garden Dreams’ warmed my heart throughout the Winter months. This year, inspired by Laura at Garden Answer (on You Tube), I experimented with winter sowing for the very first time. Last Fall, I collected seeds from Hollyhocks and Columbine, since they always self-seed easily in my garden. On February 18th, I enjoyed an afternoon in the garden sowing Hollyhock seeds and Columbine seeds in milk jugs. I tucked the tiny ‘greenhouses’ into my white picket fence Herb & Tea Garden, bracing the milk jugs with bricks so they would weather the winter winds.

Every few days, I misted the seeds through the spout on top. Snowflakes and raindrops did most of the work for me! Can’t wait to see if seedlings emerge earlier than usual in their little ‘greenhouses.’ I will be sure to update you if my experiment is successful. Either way, it was a real treat to work outside on a garden project in USDA Zone 5b in February!

Blossom by blossom… Spring has finally arrived in our garden, too. This morning, the Siberian squill, Crocuses, and several varieties of Daffodils are dancing wildly in the gusty winds. I love the way these delicate, blue blossoms are beginning to naturalize in our lawn!

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This week, I have been busy digging up Daylily roots from the wet soil around our deck (newly built last Fall). I have also been hauling heavy paving stones to create a new path to our south side water spigot. I’m still finishing up last year’s garden tasks (after a fractured foot slowed me down considerably last August).

I’m really looking forward to working on my

lengthy 2023 ‘Garden Dreams’ list…

making dreams come true every chance I get!

What excites you most about Springtime?

What projects are on your ‘Garden Dreams’ list?

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Thank you so much for visiting today!

Hope you will take a moment to say ‘Hello’ in the comments!

Perennially yours,

๐Ÿ’— Dawn

‘Oasis’ of Inspiration

Hi Friends!

Happy Equinox ~ Spring or Autumn!

Although I love all four seasons and thrive on the changes they bring, Springtime is my very favorite season of all. New beginnings always inspire me. So, I will most certainly be outside at 4:24 this afternoon to welcome Springtime here in the Midwest! ๐Ÿƒ๐ŸŒธ๐Ÿƒ

For the past three months, I have been setting aside time each week to simplify our cozy, little home. Layer-by-layer, I have been donating, recycling and getting rid of things that I no longer love, need, or use. Each week, I can feel more ‘breathing space’… and it truly feels wonderful! Along the way, I am also discovering an unexpected feeling. The things that I truly do cherish seem to bring me even more delight now. I’m savoring these uplifting feelings of peace and joy. Author Sara Ban Breathnach calls this growing awareness Romancing the Ordinary. Although I haven’t read this book, long ago I thoroughly enjoyed her book Simple Abundance. It holds a special place on my bookshelf even today.

This year, I have been intentional about ‘romancing the ordinary’ spaces right here in our home. From time to time, I look forward to sharing them with you. As you read, think about the places in your home that help to lighten your heart a bit and inspire you. I hope you will share with all of us (in the Comments below). I am always grateful for the inspiration shared by all of the kindred spirits who gather here!

I thoroughly enjoy sitting at my journaling desk each morning and evening. It has become an oasis of inspiration for me! This simple, pine, IKEA desk was assembled, with much LOVE and patience, by my sweet husband several years ago. The simple, antique chair was used every day at the kitchen table in my dad’s childhood home. Both the desk and chair feel so encouraging and meaningful to me… and help to bring me comfort during these unsettled times. Early in the morning, often I linger here longer than necessary admiring the stitches on the vintage Dresden Plate quilt hanging on the wall by my desk. The soft colors and timeworn fabric pieces in the quilt hold my attention and encourage daydreaming (much more pleasant than hurrying off to watch the morning news).

My journaling desk is ‘home’ for writing in my Morning Pages journal and planning Artist Dates. My journal tenderly holds my thoughts, worries, dreams, and lots of creative musings. Some mornings, I also read few pages of It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again (An Artist’s Way Book for Retirees and Other Creative Souls) by Julia Cameron. I am thoroughly enjoying working my way through Julia’s twelve weeks of inspiration and meaningful tasks.

My journaling desk is also where I open my Self-Care bullet journal to reflect and keep track of my healthy habits each morning and evening. I also list an intentional, daily ‘Creative Step’ and a ‘Small Joy’ (something nice that I have done for me!). Most importantly, every evening I add to my ‘Gratitude’ page. Counting my blessings, especially during challenging times, helps me feel less anxious as I drift off to sleep. Spending just ten minutes with my Self-Care bullet journal feels like a nurturing gift that I give myself every evening.

This year, my journaling desk is ‘home’ to this blank ‘Live More, Worry Less’ dot grid journal (from Michael’s). I am slowly filling its pages with inspiration that I am gathering along the way as I work to simplify my life and our home. I wanted one place to hold inspirational quotations from books that I am reading about simplifying and decluttering. Excited to begin the process at the beginning of the year, I watched many You Tube videos by The Minimal Mom, The Minimalists, Joshua Becker, and others. I kept jotting down key phrases and questions to ponder on sticky notes as I watched the videos ~ and soon I had quite a collection of bits of paper with important ideas. Now I am slowly penciling these words of wisdom onto the pages of my ‘Live More, Worry Less’ journal. I think it will become a treasure trove of information and prompts for the times when I feel stuck as I make my way through our home curating my collections and continuing to downsize. Rereading these pages will remind me ‘why’ I am on this journey to simplify our home… and encourage me to carry on!! (I can’t wait to recycle all of the tiny bits of paper that hold so many great ideas!)

Occasionally, I invite special friends to join me here at my journaling desk! The open space in the center by the quilt is just big enough to hold my iPad. It’s such fun to invite faraway friends and other artists for heart-to-heart visits via Zoom or FaceTime. What fun it was to meet with artists from the ArtistsForJoy.org creative clusters on Tuesday evenings for two years! So much creative inspiration has found its special home here at this simple, pine desk.

However, most days I nurture my creative heart and soul very quietly… alone here at my journaling desk. I truly cherish this little ‘oasis’ of inspiration. It makes life so much sweeter! ๐Ÿ’•

What special place in your home delights your senses and restores your soul?

Is there a place where your heart feels lighter and you linger a bit longer?

I hope you will share your special place with all of us today!

Thank you so much for being here!

Perennially yours,

๐Ÿ’— Dawn

Making Memories

Hi Friends!

I’ve been looking forward to this quiet, cozy day at home to sit at my laptop, with a cup of green tea, and say “Hi!” It’s time to share one of the projects that has been keeping me so busy (in a good way!)โ€ฆ ๐Ÿ˜Š

One of my Christmas gifts to my sweet dad was something impossible to wrap with pretty paper and ribbons. It was a promise and a project! I wanted to work with Dad to create his Memoir. Dad was happy when he opened a special card with my plan for our project. Throughout his 91 years, Dad has been living his best life. Now is the time to capture those memories and preserve them!

My dad is busy enjoying his days in his sunny apartment in a lovely Senior Living community. I enjoy visiting Dad and helping out, in small and big ways, several times each week. Recently when I arrived at his door, Dad surprised me with plans for a Movie Morning! ๐Ÿ˜Š He had already set up his vintage movie projector and had a stack of old movie reels just waiting to be cherished once again. Together we watched home movies from Dad’s childhood, his family vacations to Door County, Mom’s bridal shower, their wedding day, their honeymoon on Mackinac Island, and scenes from Dad’s military service in Korea. Those home movies were such a poignant look back in time. It was such a wonderful blessing to watch them together!

We were getting excited to begin our Memoir project! Two books from my bookshelf were especially helpful as I planned some interesting questions for our Memoir project. I’ve been videoing Dad for a few weeks, as we enjoy our conversations about his life.

Dad is a wonderful storyteller and it is important for him to reflect back on a life well-lived. I truly love hearing the old stories and learning so much more of my family history. I am asking so many questions and Dad’s answers are all being preserved in our videos.

We have both been savoring stories about Dad’s childhood and his teenage years. It feels like traveling back in time to hear how teenagers in Chicago, in the 1940’s, enjoyed their Saturday night dates. Dad often invited his dates to roller rinks and big ballrooms with live big band music. The teenage boys wore suits and their dates wore pretty dresses for these Saturday night dances. On their first date, my dad invited my mom to an elegant movie theatre, with live swans swimming in the theatre lobby. Dad saved his pennies from his after-school job to buy his first car. It was the beginning of his lifelong passion for cars!

Oh, how I love the stories about how my mom and dad watched one another across the playground in elementary school. Both quietly began to talk together in their youth group at church as teenagers. ๐Ÿ’•After high school graduation, both Mom and Dad worked hard at their jobs. Dad surprised Mom with a marriage proposal and an engagement ring just weeks before he was drafted into the Army.

Once Dad entered the Army, life changed very quickly in so many ways for my parents. Separated by distance, Mom wrote a long letter to Dad every night while he was stationed at Camp Breckenridge, Kentucky. They planned their wedding through her letters and his weekly phone call. Dad arrived back home, on leave, the night before their wedding. Mom and Dad had a beautiful, candlelight wedding, took their honeymoon, and Dad reported to Texas for the next part of his Army service… all within ten days! Just two weeks later, Mom moved to Texas to join him. Living so far away from family helped them to build a strong marriage right from the start. It was the first of many adventures for my dear parents!

Next week, Dad and I will video his memories from Army life and his wartime service in Korea. We are already planning our future videos, sharing his special memories from the 1950’s, 1960’s, 1970’s… through the 2020’s.

Each video has become a heartwarming treasure ~ rich with small, everyday moments and the big, life-changing moments that make a fulfilling, inspiring life. In our own quiet way, Dad and I are documenting the treasure of a life well-lived! There are sentimental moments, hard times, funny memories, and life lessons that teach me about quiet strength, hope, dreams, and resilience during the 1930’s, 1940’s, and 1950’s. Lessons learned during those challenging times, when the world faced so many problems of all kinds, are just as important today during our unsettled times.

I’m so very grateful to share these special hours with my sweet dad! I can tell that he feels the same sense of gratitude. Dad is also sharing lots of tender stories of loved ones who aren’t sitting there with us, especially my beloved mother, Darlene, and my cherished, younger brothers, Johnny and Jeff. We know they are smiling in Heaven because their stories are also being shared in such a personal way.

What began as a Christmas gift for my dad has become an irreplaceable gift of love to me, as well! While we are focused on preserving Dad’s lifetime of memories, we are making cherished, new memories!! Dad and I are both truly enjoying the blessings of our time together making memories!

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Hope you will share some of the special ways that your family has preserved memories!

I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas!!




Heartfelt thanks for stopping to visit today!

Perennially yours,

๐Ÿ’— Dawn

A Fresh Start

Hi Friends!

It felt so good to open the door to a brand new year! Our January days have been milder than usual, so the weeks are flying by quickly. I have enjoyed some winter walks in the park with friends and several walks through our yard to check on the garden. Gentle rains have been kind to my perennials and herbs. When the garden is happy, it makes the gardener happy, too!

How do you prepare for a fresh start in the new year? Sharing inspiration and our traditions among friends is one of the special pleasures that I look forward to on the blog every January! I hope that you will share with us, too…

Heartfelt words, from poet Morgan Harper Nichols, are a meaningful welcome in my 2023 Self-Care bullet journal.

For me, the new year always means a brand new, dot-grid, bullet journal overflowing with blank pages… and new possibilities! As the month began, I spent many hours setting up new pages in my 2023 Self-Care journal. It always feels like I am truly creating a fresh start!

For the new year, I have begun stenciling soft, colorful backgrounds with Distress Oxide inks. Adding artwork just makes it more fun!

This year, I’m celebrating my sixth year of keeping a Self-Care bullet journal. Adding bits of color and artwork help to keep it interesting! Each month, I create pages to track my daily sleep, workouts and number of steps. There is something very powerful about transferring the data (in ink, in analog form) from the app on my phone and my Fitbit onto the pages of my journal every evening. It really helps to keep me accountable when it comes to healthy habits! Each evening, I also add to my Gratitude page (so very important, especially during life’s stressful times), list a daily Creative Step, and a daily Small Joy. This nightly bedtime routine only takes a few moments and is such a peaceful way to end each day.

For the past two years, I have also enjoyed a lovely morning routine at my journaling desk. My Morning Pages journal holds my thoughts on creativity, my worries, and my creative plans for the day. Inspiration from walks in nature and my weekly Artist Date are often a topic in my Morning Pages, as well.

‘Dutch Door’ pages hold my growing list of Creative Affirmations

My Morning Pages always end with creative affirmations (from my Self-Care bullet journal, shown above). Over the past two years, I have discovered just how valuable these strong, positive statements can be! In her book, The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron reminds us that, “Affirmations help achieve a sense of safety and hope.” As I close my journal and watch the sun rise from our kitchen window, I feel centered and ready to face another busy day. Julia Cameron’s words are so true, “Morning Pages allow you to happen to your day, instead of your day happening to you.” When I must miss a day of Morning Pages, I can definitely feel the difference all day long!

Choosing a ‘word’ to guide me through the new year is one of the most powerful ways that I welcome each year! Every Fall, I begin listening for “One Little Word” that will help me grow in powerful, new ways. Throughout our home and garden, there are visible reminders to focus on my ‘word.’ This year celebrates my twelfth ”One Little Word.” I can already tell that this will be a very important year of growth as I focus on my new ‘word’ and continue to mindfully practice all eleven previous words!

My 2023 ‘word’ is surrounded by all of the other words that continue to help me live my best life.
There are visible reminders to simplify as I move forward.
Some definitions of simplify in my Self-Care journal

My reading stack is filled with inspiration to help me move forward throughout the year ahead. I read two of these books several years ago, however my life became much too complicated to undertake such an ambitious lifestyle change. So, this ‘word’ has been waiting for me for a while. I am taking a BIG step as I begin this long-awaited journey toward minimalism!

I am also finding wonderful inspiration to guide me in You Tube videos from Dawn Madsen, The Minimal Mom. Her tips feel very practical and encouraging. Of course, everyone’s journey is unique! I am seeing my world through new eyes as I take steps to approach life as a “cozy minimalist.” My end goal is to own “just the right amount of things” to focus my priorities on my passions!

This month, I am off to a good start. Following the “onion method,” I have worked my way through all of the kitchen drawers and cabinets. I have already made many trips to a nearby donation center. Yet I am mindful that this is only the first “layer” of things that I will remove from our home. Each time I go through the kitchen, I will find more things to declutter. At some point, it will feel like I have “just the right amount of things.” Things that I actually love and use!

When I packed away our Christmas decorations, I carefully curated my collection of Christmas ornaments and my folk art Santa collection. Now there are โ€œjust the right amount” of the most special ones packed away until next Christmas. I hope that others who discover them at the donation center will enjoy them as much as I did over the years!

The winter months feel like the perfect time to begin working toward my goal of having “just the right amount” of things in our home.

Less is… more!

Less is more… time to focus on what matters most today.

Less is more… breathing space.

Less is more… blessings to share with others.

Less is more… freedom to create art.

Less is a more… relaxing, nurturing “Home Sweet Home.โ€

Less is more… room to blossom in unexpected ways.

Less is more… freedom for adventures of all kinds.

Less is more… time to savor life’s possibilities!

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I’m curious to know what special ways you welcome in the new year.

Are you working toward any new goals in 2023?

Would you like to join me on the journey as I “right-size” the things that fill our home?

If you have worked to declutter, do you have any “words of wisdom” to share with us?

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I would love to hear your thoughts in the Comments below!

May your fresh start be a nice one!

Warmly,

๐Ÿ’— Dawn

The Week Between

Hi Friends!

Warm greetings from our cozy, little home to yours! I hope you are feeling healthy, warm, and safe on this final day of 2022.

Our family enjoyed a quiet Christmas celebration this year, spending lots of time together ~ time for reminiscing, sharing favorite Christmas memories, and exchanging heartfelt cards and gifts. We are a small family now, just my sweet dad, my loving husband, and me. This is our second Christmas without my dear mom, Darlene, and my brothers, Johnny and Jeff. We all agreed that although it looked like Christmas, sounded like Christmas, and tasted like Christmas… it just didn’t feel like Christmas for any of us this year. We could all deeply feel the presence of their absence. They will always live on in our hearts. Love is like that…

My heart was telling me to add some new holiday traditions this December. So, this year, I embraced an old-fashioned holiday tradition for the very first time ~ drying orange and apple slices.

As the fruit dried slowly in the oven, I savored lots creative time, die cutting and ink blending some dried citrus slices to use on handmade cards. Hot cocoa and Christmas cookies also inspired some special greeting cards. (It always tickles my fancy when art imitates life!)

Such simple pleasures! It was such fun to hang dried orange slices on our kitchen wreath, fill bowls with dried fruit, and to make a dried citrus garland for our pantry.

The ‘week between’ has always been one of my favorite weeks of the year. I cherish the time between Christmas and the New Year to make space in my days for quiet reflection and writing letters to faraway friends. I love adding birthdays and anniversaries to our special Celebrations wall calendar! I also spent many hours creating the pages in my new 2023 Self-Care bullet journal.

My husband had vacation time this week, so we enjoyed some walks in pretty places and a visit to the Christmas flower display at our nearby conservatory. The ‘week between’ is just perfect for walking hand-in-hand, dreaming together, and reminiscing!

Many years ago, my husband and I celebrated the Christmas season together in Paris. Many, many years ago, I celebrated Christmas and New Year’s with dear friends in Germany. The ‘week between’ is a wonderful time to share such special memories of faraway friends who have become our German family. For the past 45 years, I have always celebrated the New Year twice! With a video call at 5pm (Central Time), we can ring in the New Year in Germany with our dear friend. We sing Happy Birthday, as we enjoy the German fireworks celebration at midnight together from her balcony! “Same procedure as every year!”

Tonight we will honor our Irish roots in a new way! My husband and I will try a special New Year’s tradition from Ireland. Just before midnight, we will open our back door to ‘let the Old Year out.” Then we will open our front door at midnight to “let the New Year in.” It will be so nice to welcome 2023 from our front porch, greeting any neighbors we see outside!

Perhaps you might also be feeling ready to “Let the Old Year out.”

We can hold on to all of the blessings and precious memories…

as we open our hearts wide

for a more gentle, peaceful, New Year!

Throughout the year, I enjoy the wonderful words of the Irish poet, John O’Donohue.

His words during the ‘week between’ always call to my heart.

“As this year draws to its end,
We give thanks for the gifts it brought
And how they became inlaid within
Where neither time nor tide can touch them.”

John O’Donohue

from: Bless the Space Between Us

John O’Donohue

from: To Bless the Space Between Us

Wishing you a good start to the New Year, friends!

Be well,

explore new possibilities,

and open your heart!

Warmest hugs,

Dawn

Scatter Kindnessโ€ฆ Like Autumn Leaves

Hi Friends!

Itโ€™s the perfect time to turn our hearts to cozy afternoons, enjoying the changing colors, soft snuggly sweaters, a generous mug of hot spiced tea, and thoughts of special loved ones! Can you feel it, too? ๐Ÿ

Here in the Midwest, we were blessed with very nice, warm weeks and spectacular Autumn colors. I soaked up Nature’s inspiration and planned a few special Artist Dates in my little Paper Garden studio downstairs. It was time to create some Autumn inspired cardsโ€ฆ and scatter a bit of handmade kindness!

Autumn Bliss stamps, Jumbo Curiosity Buckeye Leaf die
(from The Greetery)

Recently, I have begun s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g my creativity by filling a small basket with a limited number of stamps, dies, and ink colors. Much like the โ€œcapsule wardrobeโ€ concept, it has been great fun to use just a few art supplies in several different ways!

Autumn always brings the warmth and joy of cozy sweaters! So, I tried to capture that special feeling with a dry embossed ‘knitted’ background layer. It was such fun to blend inks in the brilliant shades of Nature’s color palette on this Buckeye leaf.

Gingham plaids also add an Autumn vibe, especially when paired with natural hemp fibers. I heat embossed a favorite quote by Emily Brontรซ with gold embossing powder onto vellum. Blending brushes and Distress Oxide inks made it easy to turn a white cardstock Buckeye leaf into an Autumn treasure!

I couldnโ€™t wait to reach into my basket for a Patchwork die (also from The Greetery)! Cozy, warm, patchwork quilts are a beloved Autumn treasure. This time I stamped falling leaves onto the squares of a tiny paper quilt. Then I die cut and stamped the same leaves to add a bit of dimension to the card front. It’s filled with leafy goodness!

Slowly, carefully, piecing these gingham and solid patches felt like an artful, paper meditation. (If you need me in the coming months, just look for me in the Paper Garden ‘quilting’ my heart away!๐Ÿ’•) Windblown leaves are scattered across the card highlighting the heartfelt sentiment.

Imagine an Autumn leaf fluttering down onto a patchwork quilt spread out for a picnic in the warm sunshine. Pure bliss! Oh, how I enjoyed listening to the words of my inner artist: ๐Ÿ‘ฉ๐Ÿปโ€๐ŸŽจ โ€œYou could try this!โ€ โ€œWhat ifโ€ฆ?โ€ and โ€œI canโ€™t believe that I never thought of that before!โ€ ๐Ÿ˜Š Artist Dates are always meant to be joyful, playful times!

For Veterans Day, I wanted to create an extra-special card to honor my favorite hero ~ my sweet dad!! This card celebrates a true love story! My dad (age 20) surprised my sweet mom with a marriage proposal on her 18th birthday during a big, unexpected November snowstorm. Soon Dad was drafted into the Army and sent off to Basic Training just two months later, in the 101st Airborne Division, in Kentucky. My parents were married in May and moved to Texas for more Army training. Just a few months later, Dad was deployed to Korea during wartime.

Mom wrote Dad a letter every single day while he was stationed in Kentucky and serving in Korea! You can see some of her letters in this photo. On each long, wonderful letter, Mom wrote S.W.A.K. (Sealed With A Kiss) inside the envelope flap. She always put the postage stamp upside down (as a token of love). Dad saved every single letter while he was stationed stateside. He wasnโ€™t able to save the letters that Mom sent to Korea because he was on the battlefield. I’m certain that Dad remembers what Mom wrote though. Her words of love and stories from back home helped him make it through terrible times!

Over the years, I have heard many of these stories from my parents. Mom’s daily, heartfelt letters share the stories of a young bride-to-be as she planned their wedding while her beloved sweetheart was far away bravely serving our country. Now these very special letters are in my care. I have tied them with a satin ribbon (from our own wedding day)โ€ฆ and I can’t wait to begin reading them!๐Ÿ’•

So, back to the Veterans Day cardโ€ฆ. ๐Ÿ˜Š Dad’s stories are filled with so many examples of his courage, his kindness to others (even in the midst of wartime battles), his strong family ties across a great distance, and a beautiful love story that continued to grow despite the miles between them! I very carefully snipped a postage stamp from one of Mom’s letters and added it to Dad’s cardโ€ฆ upside down, of course!๐Ÿ’•

Mug of Art stamp, She is an Artist stamp (both by Impression Obsession)

This colorful card was made for a very special, very creative friend in celebration of her 30th birthday. She loves the colors of a beautiful sunset. So, it was fun to play with watercolors on her card, the envelope, and a special bookmark, too! Her gifts included a lovely journal and a very special book. (This book has been so inspiring to me that I have read it five times already!) Perhaps you can guess which book???? โœจ

I have promised myself to keep my special Cardmaking Journal (started in 2015) up-to-date. So, before I sealed each envelope, I entered some quick notes: the date, recipient, occasion, supplies used, and sentiment. Itโ€™s so heartwarming to look back and remember all of the special people and their one-of-a-kind cards over the years! ๐Ÿ’—

It does the heart good to scatter kindnessโ€ฆ ๐Ÿ๐Ÿ๐Ÿ

๐Ÿ๐Ÿ๐Ÿ๐Ÿ๐Ÿ๐Ÿ๐Ÿ๐Ÿ

Thank you so much for visiting today!

Wishing you a lovely Thanksgiving!

Take extra-good care, friends! ๐Ÿ’—

Warm, cozy hugs,

๐Ÿ’— Dawn

Harvest Thyme

Hi Friends!

Our hearts go out to all those whose lives have been affected by Hurricane Ian. The heartbreaking news reports and photos from friends remind us all of the power of nature. This continues to be a heavy time for so much of our worldโ€ฆ

A peaceful, little visit among friends will do our hearts good.

Spending extra hours in the garden this week has felt so nurturing! Day by day, I have been noticing the color changes tiptoeing through the trees. Our shorter Autumn days and cooler temperatures are reminding us that change can be beautiful.

Our ‘Autumn Blaze’ Red Maple is showing off itโ€™s ombrรฉ colors this week. Soon all of the leaves will turn a beautiful, deep, scarlet red.

It’s Harvest Thyme in the gardenโ€ฆ a time that I always look forward to every Autumn! Yesterday I gathered baskets, twine, rubber bands, and my herb snips and happily followed the flagstone path to my Herb & Tea Garden. This raised bed garden, surrounded by a white picket fence, is truly the ‘heart’ of my garden. It always feels like the fragrant plants are nurturing me, as I care for them!

Lemon Balm, German Thyme, Greek Oregano, and Rosemary

I enjoy snipping fresh herbs and mints throughout the growing season for both cooking and steeping cups of herbal ‘tea.’ There is nothing better than fresh, homegrown herbs!

This week, I spent a glorious morning harvesting herbs to dry. I will dry some of them to use for cooking and herbal teas. However, my favorite way to use bundles of dried herbs is for decorating our home over the Winter months. I always feel nurtured by gifts from the garden!

Bundles of dried herbs hang along a wooden pole in our old-fashioned kitchen and tiny bundles of herbs hang in the pantry. I also love to tuck herb bundles into flower arrangements, baskets, and grapevine wreaths. Dried herbs and flowers hang from the ceiling rafters in my little Paper Garden studio downstairs, too!

Greek Oregano, German Thyme, Rosemary, and Lemon Thyme

I tied these bundles of herbs onto a vintage wooden hanger just to save space for drying. When I stepped back, I noticed how sweet it looked! Perhaps I will look for a place to display them right on the hanger.๐Ÿ˜Š

Just recently, I learned about a clever, easy, fast way to dry herbs. So, of course, I couldnโ€™t wait to try it out! I was so curious to see if it would work. Have you ever tried the ‘Subie Method’ for drying herbs?

It was an entertaining experimentโ€ฆ

Step 1 ~ I cut a bundle of fresh Greek Oregano and placed it into a paper bag. Then I folded the top of the bag closed. Itโ€™s important to use a paper bag so that the moisture in the herbs can pass through the paper.

Step 2 ~ I placed the bag of fresh herbs on the dashboard of my Subaru parked in the Autumn sunshine! ๐Ÿ˜Š I let the sun shine through the closed windows to dry the herbs. (Please do not attempt this while driving.๐Ÿ˜‰) Most herbs should dry within one or two hours.

The Resultsโ€ฆ

It worked quite well. Since our temperature was only 68 degrees, I left the herbs in my Subie for almost four hours. I turned the bag over half way through the experiment. They were definitely drying nicely! The deep green leaves kept their color and shape. My car smelled wonderful, too! ๐Ÿ˜Š

Dark rainclouds from an approaching storm ended my experiment too soon. I brought the bags of herbs in the house and the next morning they were completely dried! (I also tested a bag filled with Lemon Balm during this experiment, with the same good results.)

I look forward to trying the ‘Subie Method’ again on a hot Summer day. Next time, I won’t bundle the herbs with rubber bands for better air circulation. I will also dry individual leaves for tea. I will place a layer of paper or cardboard between the paper bag and the dashboard to help absorb the moisture, too.

My heart felt lighter as I hobbled to and fro in the garden. (I’m still wearing a special orthopedic boot as my fracture begins to heal. It’s feeling a little better this week!๐Ÿ˜Š) Each time I passed my Subie, I giggled a bit as the solar power was drying my herbs!

Yucca seed pods, Rudbeckia seed heads, ‘Anabelle’ Hydrangeas

Next it was time to collect some garden gatherings to decorate our front porch. I filled an antique, wooden box with two tall, sturdy, spikes of dried seed pods from our Yucca plants. These plants grew in our childhood garden for many years. My mom, Darlene, gave me her Yucca plants when my parents retired to Arizona over thirty years ago. The Yuccas have rewarded us with spikes of lovely, cream-colored blossoms every year.

I added tall stems of Rudbeckia โ€˜Herbstsonne’ seed heads and dried ‘Annabelle’ Hydrangea blossoms next. This Autumn arrangement is not finished yet, though! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Today I will add a few tall stems of Sedum ‘Autumn Joy.’ This rustic arrangement will continue to grow and change throughout the coming weeks. I’m planning to add something new each time I wander through the garden. It will be a mindfulness practice focusing on gratitude for the abundance of peace and beauty that the garden provides us throughout the year!

Yet another reminder from nature

that change can be beautifulโ€ฆ


I thought you might enjoy two wonderful videos about growing and harvesting herbs. Relax and enjoyโ€ฆ with a cup of tea, of course!๐Ÿ’•


๐ŸŒป Please let us know about some of your favorite Autumn traditions!

๐ŸŒป What’s happening in your garden this month?

Wishing you healthy, happy Autumn days, sweet friends!๐Ÿ

Perennially yours,

๐Ÿ’—Dawn

Inspired by Natureโ€ฆ Created by Hand

Hi Friends!

Happy Autumn! (Happy Spring!) I hope you are feeling well and are safe from all of the wild weather as the seasons change. Our weather suddenly changed from hot and humid to delightfully cool just in time for the equinox!

My Midwest cottage garden is flourishing again after several rainy days. The perennials are showing off their white, yellow, pink, and purple blossoms. The herbs seem to have doubled in size overnight!

For the past week, however, I have only been able to hobble through the garden a few, short times. I fractured a bone in my left foot and will be spending the coming weeks wearing an orthopedic shoe while the broken bone heals. My foot definitely lets me know whenever I have taken a few too many steps! Ouch!๐Ÿ˜ข

Time in the garden has always filled me with creative inspiration while healing my heart and soul. No wonder that the garden is my favorite place to be! Nature’s colors, patterns, and shapes inspire my use of inks, papers, stamps, dies, watercolors, and moreโ€ฆ

Bunnies are always welcome to nibble the clover, Creeping Charlie, and wild violets from our ‘meadow’ lawn. Recently, a few bunnies have been visiting my little Paper Garden studio downstairs, too.


Gratitude + Tag dies (Papertrey Ink)
Bunny stamp + die (Colorado Craft Company)
Rudbeckia โ€˜Herbstsonne’ attracts so many pollinators! I refill the nearby bee bath daily to encourage the busy pollinators to linger in the garden.

The pollinators have been so busy in the garden all Summer long. They have been making an appearance on my handmade cards recently, too.

Honey Bees dies + Honeycomb Corners die (The Greetery)
Sentiment stamp (Papertrey Ink)

What could be sweeter than using a dried ‘Annabelle’ Hydrangea blossom, in place of a bow, on a gift for a dear gardening friend?๐Ÿ’•

Oh, how the bees love the blossoms of Obedient Plant and Sedum ‘Autumn Joy.’

Our ‘Hidcote’ Lavender in bloom inspired me to add Lavender stems to handmade cards. I even tucked a few paper stems inside each card!

BotanCuts Lavender + Garden Gear: Gloves dies (The Greetery)
Seed Catalog background stamp (The Greetery)

Do you wear garden gloves? I always wear them while I play in the garden and somehow, I still get muddy hands.๐Ÿ˜‰

These lovely Hollyhocks are blooming along my neighbor’s fence. We look forward to sharing our Hollyhock seeds with one another soon!
BotaniCuts Hollyhocks dies (The Greetery)

I’m really looking forward to harvesting herbs in the coming weeks. I’m going to experiment with an easy, very clever way to dry a few of the herbs. (I’ll report back soon.๐Ÿ˜Š) Herbal inspiration is already on its way to my Paper Garden studio!

Just the other day, as I hobbled past our ‘Autumn Blaze’ Red Maple tree, I spotted the first red leaf nestled in the grass. Very soon, there will be watercolored leaves in my sketchbook and miniature twig wreaths created with ink and paper in the studio. Iโ€™m also dreaming of tiny, paper, patchwork quilts! So cozy!

Nurturing my ‘inner second grader‘ helps my creative spirit to blossom!๐ŸŒธ

Last week, I began my fourth consecutive Creative Cluster book study for The Artistโ€™s Way, by Julia Cameron. Over the next twelve weeks, our large group of artists from all disciplines will continue to grow as we travel along our creative paths. It feels like such a blessing to nurture our creativity in community with so many talented artists seeking joy!

You might enjoy the Artists for Joy podcast, with Merideth Hite Estevez, our very talented facilitator/coach/musician/writer/friend! (You can find it wherever you listen to podcasts. Always inspiring!)

๐ŸŒปThank you so much for visiting today!

What excites you most with the change of season?

๐ŸŒปHope you will share with all of us in the Comments!

Perennially yours,

๐Ÿ’— Dawn