In Remembrance…

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Hi Friends,

The sun shone brightly on this September 11th morning. As I walked along the prairie, admiring the goldenrod, purple thistle, and bright yellow blossoms, it wasn’t the birdsong or the chirping crickets that interrupted my thoughts. It was the sound of airplanes flying overhead. It’s a very common part of the soundtrack of our lives here since we live near a major, international airport. It triggered an eerie memory, though, on this National Day of Remembrance, of a time when our skies overhead were silent for many days.

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As I neared the park the somber strains of the bagpipe drifted through the air over the crowd of neighbors gathered on this early Sunday morning. We were there to remember and honor the victims and their families of that terrible, terrible day fifteen years ago.  Patriot Day is now a very special time of remembrance every year on September 11th.

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We gathered this morning to commemorate all of the brave first responders who sacrificed their lives in service to others. A local firefighter remembered how a small group of firefighters from our town immediately left for New York. They made the journey specifically to attend the funerals of the New York and Port Authority fire fighters who lost their lives on 9-11. Since the New York area firefighters were in the midst of search and rescue, firefighters from across our nation arrived to support the families and to be there for the funerals.

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A local police officer shared his remembrance of that day right here in our town, over 800 miles from New York City. People were afraid, and the job of our police officers that day and long afterward was to reassure citizens that we were safe. Seeing an extra police presence on the local streets brought a sense of comfort in the weeks following 9-11.

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The names of those brave 343 firefighters and 71 police officers who instantly lost their lives while trying to save others were read aloud. There was a pause at 8:46 and 9:02 a.m. for a moment of silent reflection at the exact times that the planes hit the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. A local honor guard marked the sacrifice made by police officers with a three-shot salute and a local firefighter honored the fallen firefighters by ringing a fire bell, a longstanding tradition of firefighters.

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A veteran shared his memories of being called back to active duty and all of the young men and women who wanted to serve our country following the attacks. A young woman vividly and bravely shared her memories of that day and the impact it made on her life, inspiring her to become a high school counselor. We honored the memories of all those passengers on Flight 93.

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This morning’s ceremony ended with the display of an artifact from the World Trade Center, recently given to our local fire department by the New York and New Jersey Port Authority. This piece of steel is a rail from the subway tracks that ran underground at the World Trade Center. On 9-11, these tracks carried survivors out to safety. Soon this special remembrance will have a permanent place of honor at one of our fire stations.

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As we listened during the 90-minute ceremony, everyone’s thoughts turned to that day, fifteen years ago…

I can remember that sunny Tuesday morning, as if it were yesterday. As I drove into the school parking lot, a news report interrupted the music on the radio at 7:46 Central Time. The news of the first plane hitting the World Trade Center was an unbelievable shock. In that moment, we didn’t yet understand what was happening.  I paused to breathe. Just as every morning, I quietly spoke my intention, “Thank you for bringing me here” for the new school day. It was time to rush inside for a before-school meeting. During our meeting, news reached us that a second plane hit the Twin Towers.

The school bell rang and my second grade students arrived filled with concern and questions… so many questions. For they had all seen the news reports on TV before school. They were frightened and wanted to know if they and their families were safe. Even now, just thinking about that day brings tears to my eyes. Fortunately, our class was like a family, having ‘looped’ together from first grade into second grade. We felt the bonds of trust and closeness that were so important at a time like this. I remember spending a great deal of time talking about heroes. We talked a lot about the helpers, the firefighters, policemen and women, paramedics, doctors and nurses,… all of the people who help us.  I listened…and listened… and shared a few facts in age-appropriate ways. These curious, engaged children looked to me for answers every day, but sometimes there are no answers…

Mind you, I still had not seen any news reports or the horrific images that my seven-year-olds had seen. At lunchtime, I watched the news footage of the terrorist attacks for the first time. The new reality, that terrorist attacks had now reached our homeland, cut into my heart. As a traveler, I had been very aware of the attacks that had been happening in Europe over the years. Memories of arriving at the Frankfurt airport just days after an attack, seeing military with weapons on patrol, being careful not to look ‘American’ while traveling, and discovering that there were places I couldn’t go were etched in my heart. I was a frequent traveler who always dreamed of my next European adventure with dear friends. That feeling of being ‘Home Safe Home’ each time my plane landed here was gone in an instant! Everything had suddenly changed.

In the weeks and months following the attacks, we often talked about ways that we could help one another in second grade. “There are no hands too small to help the world” was a phrase we often said in our classroom. We would look at our own hands, then pick up our pencils and crayons to write ‘thank you ‘ letters to our firefighters. Our little hands stayed very busy! We wrote class letters to a deployed Army soldier (and he wrote back). We honored the veterans in our own families, and we raised money to help others. We loved to share ideas about all of the ways that we could help in our families and communities. Celebrating the helpers and being the helpers made us all feel better!

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That is the part of ‘Remembrance’ that I hold dear.  After the unthinkable had happened, Americans everywhere were so kind and supportive to one another. We truly showed that we cared about one another’s feelings and needs. We pulled together to help and make a difference. (Do you remember filling the firefighters’ boots with donations for the families of the NYC firefighters?) We talked together… and we listened to one another.  We were one… we were Americans, at our best!

On this Day of Remembrance, if only we could remember those same feelings of kindness and caring and helping one another. Instead of the constant political squabbles over the upcoming Presidential elections, maybe we could work together, have meaningful conversations, listen to one another, and try to solve the problems that face us all. We can be our best… I know we can.  

In remembrance,

♡ Dawn

P.S.  If you would like to share a memory, we would love to hear from you!

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Garden Inspiration…

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Hi Friends!

One thing leads to another!
Has this ever happened to you?

Over the past few weeks,

I’ve often thought of the charming, children’s book,

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. (Take a moment to enjoy the read-aloud here!)

Today’s post, inspired by Laura Numeroff’s sweet, children’s book,

offers a peek into the unexpected activity in my garden over the past few weeks…

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If you give a gardener…

a wonderfully written and illustrated book,

Homegrown Tea ~ An Illustrated Guide to Planting, Harvesting, and Blending Teas and Tisanes

by Cassie Liversidge,

it will quickly become one of her very favorite books about growing herbs and teas.

As she reads, she will decide…

to move the Monarda (also called Bergamot or Bee Balm) from her Butterfly Garden

back to her Herb & Tea Garden, where it grew many years earlier.

She will realize that she doesn’t really need a small Butterfly Garden bed,

when her entire yard is a butterfly garden!

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After she transplants the Monarda to the ‘heart of her garden,’

she will decide…

to move her favorite, old-fashioned flowers from her Cutting Garden,

to the inside of her Herb & Tea Garden,

along the white picket fence

(built with love).

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How sweet it will be to tend the fragrant herbs,

surrounded by Bleeding Hearts, Hydrangea, Coreopsis, Black-eyed Susans, Coral Bells,

Speedwell, Obedient Plant, and Phlox!

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As she moves these perennials,

she will realize…

 that she really doesn’t need a Cutting Garden bed,

next to the deck, near the towering pine trees,

because over the years

her entire garden has grown into a cutting garden!

Each morning, she happily fills vases of flowers to bring the beauty of the garden inside.

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On those hot, humid days that aren’t suitable for digging in the garden,

she will dream her garden dreams…

with paper, ink, stamps, and watercolors

in her little Paper Garden studio.

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What fun to design tiny gardens, using Art Impressions Watercolor stamps! (Bee skep is from a vintage Stampin’ Up set.)

While she creates little gardens on paper,

she will decide…

that it would be fun to grow tall, colorful blossoms

along both sides of her white, garden arbor,

where the pink and purple Clematis bloom.

So…

when the days are a bit more comfortable,

she will spend hours and hours…

digging out patches of Daylilies,

day after day,

to make her garden dreams come true.

She will move beautiful Phlox that were already growing in the yard

when she bought her little bungalow 29 years ago.

They were such a lovely gift

left by those who gardened here

long before her

and are a very special part of the history of

her beloved, 94-year-old cottage garden.

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Patches of pink, white, and purple Phlox,

spiky purple Obedient Plant,

and delicate, pink Coral Bells

will welcome visitors who step through the arbor,

and follow the flagstone path to the Herb & Tea Garden.

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So, the happy gardener will…

stay busy as a bee

in her cottage garden

digging, transplanting, mulching,

and

‘watercoloring’ with perennials

as the late Summer days

turn to early Autumn.

What a joy it will be to watch her ‘new’ old-fashioned garden emerge in the Springtime!

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If you give a gardener…

a wonderful book to read,

the seeds of inspiration will grow!

♥♥♥

It has been a true joy to find so much inspiration

in my summer reading…

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and I have lots more to share!

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I’m so happy that you stopped to visit today!

What books have inspired you most this summer?

Hope you will leave a comment to share with us…

Wishing you lots of happy!

♡ Dawn

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A Fascinating Walk!

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Hi Friends!

It’s a wonderful tradition that began early on, when my husband and I were just getting to know one another! Very often, we found ourselves walking near water, with moments of peaceful silence and interesting conversations about anything and everything. Oh the beautiful places we have walked together! Not the types to sit on a beach, we have strolled along Lake Michigan beaches, the beaches of Waikiki, and along the North Shore of Kauai. Walks along the River Seine, the River Rhein, the Lower Salt River in the Sonoran desert, and the Illinois River hold so many dear memories. Over the years, we have enjoyed walking along rushing waterfalls, meandering creeks, and a quiet marsh. Yet, there has always been another watery destination on our long list of places to walk ~  a bog!

So, Sunday morning, we packed a picnic lunch and drove north quite a distance to the Volo Bog State Natural Area. Our walk was filled with unexpected surprises, lovely views, and new learning. We both agreed that it was one of our more fascinating walks… and I couldn’t wait to share our walk with you!

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With our first glimpse of the Volo Bog, we were very curious about the large patches of pink in the distance. It was time to explore!

This bog originated about 12,000 years ago as the Wisconsin glacier crept into northeastern Illinois. As the climate warmed, the ice melted and glacial lakes formed. The trees (in the photo above) mark the edges of the old glacial lake. 

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Volo Bog has a floating boardwalk, allowing visitors to view various parts of the bog while walking just above the bog’s surface.

This was our chance to walk just inches above the surface of a bog! We could feel the floating walkway moving gently underfoot with each step. We walked very slowly, as dragonflies and butterflies floated overhead and a chorus of nearby crickets and frogs sang for us. Below the boardwalk, the 50-foot deep bog was filled with plants growing in this unique wetland.

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From time to time as we walked, there were views of peaceful, open water, surrounded by cattails and sedges. However, most of the bog is now lush with plant growth.

A bog is a very unique type of wetland. It forms in a glacial lake that has very poor drainage and no inflow of water from streams. Rain water and melting snow fill the bog. A floating mat of peat, which is partially decayed plant matter, began to form long ago at the Volo Bog.  The roots of living plants support this thickening peat layer.

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Volo Bog is the only ‘Quaking Bog’ with an open water center in Illinois. Its floating mat of sphagnum moss and other plants is so thick in some places that a person could actually stand on it. However, this would not only damage the bog, but would be incredibly dangerous. The floating boardwalk allows visitors to safely explore the bog.

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Cattails turn to seed in mid-August at Volo Bog.

As early as 10,000 years ago, the Native Americans settled in northeastern Illinois. The Volo Bog, a distance from large waterways, would have provided good hunting grounds and places to gather arrowhead roots, cattails, blueberries, and other edible plants.

BogFloraColorful wildflowers were in full bloom throughout the bog and the pollinators were very active on this mid-August day.

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The wooden boardwalk leads visitors through four different plant communities at Volo Bog. As we made our way, the changing plant species seemed to take us back through time. Winterberry Holly, Dogwood, and Poison Sumac were among the tall shrubs in this part of the bog. During times of high water from rain and melting snow, some of the Tamarack trees in this area drowned. Ancient ferns also grow in this shady area of the bog.

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This diagram shows the different plant zones we observed as we followed the boardwalk (yellow dotted trail) to the ‘eye’ of the Volo Bog.

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The ‘eye’ of the Volo Bog is not an ordinary pond. It is 50 feet deep and everything you see is floating… even the Tamarack pine trees in the distance! As the plant layers in the bog continue to grow and decay, scientists predict the open water at the ‘eye’ will be overgrown with vegetation in the next 100-150 years.

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Tamarack pine trees grow in this part of the plant community. These unusual pines are deciduous! In Autumn, their needles turn golden yellow and fall onto the peat soil below. The Tamarack trees, with their shallow, spreading roots, float up and down as the water levels change in the bog.

Sphagnum moss carpets the ground in this area of the bog. Native American mothers gathered and dried this moss to line their cradle boards, as a sort of diaper. Early soldiers used dried sphagnum to cover their wounds in the battlefields, since this moss produces acids with antibacterial properties.

BogFaunaThe bog is a wetland habitat for so many animal species.

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This circa 1900 dairy barn was renovated to create a wonderful, educational Visitor Center at the Volo Bog.

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As a result of our rainy summer, water levels seemed high in this open water area of the bog.

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Waterbirds searched for food in the moss-covered water, while a family of turtles took turns sunning on a floating log.

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The bog is a beautiful, fragile ecosystem that we must carefully preserve.

As we walked along the boardwalk, observing the variety of plants and animals that make their homes in this habitat, my thoughts turned to my own garden. Years ago, as I added new flower beds, I would occasionally buy a large bag of peat moss to mix into the soil. Never again!!

Most of our commercially harvested (actually, it is ‘mined’) peat in North America comes from Canadian sphagnum moss. Our walk reminded me once again that bogs are fragile wetlands that must be preserved! There are much better (and cheaper) alternatives to amend the soil in our gardens ~ local leaf mold compost, wood chips, composted garden waste, and green kitchen compost. Continued use of these plant materials will keep my garden a healthier, more responsible little patch of nature for years to come!

Thanks so much for stopping to visit today!

This is my 100th post at Petals.Paper.SimpleThymes… 

and your visits and thoughtful comments are always such a treat for me!

♡♡♡♡♡♡

Enjoy your week!

♡ Dawn

P.S.  Do you enjoy walking near water, too?  Please tell us about your favorite places to walk…

 

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Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie

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Hi Friends!

Native plants are in full bloom here in Illinois, the ‘Prairie State.’ So, early Saturday morning, we decided to explore a very special prairie. It was a rare, cool, end-of-July day, with skies threatening rain one moment and offering bright sunshine the next. My husband dreamed of walking through the prairie in the rain observing the insects, while I wished for blue skies, just right for taking flower photos. Off we went… both of us watching the skies!

The Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie is the first national tallgrass prairie in our country. Once native prairie, this area then developed into a community filled with homes. Years later, the land became the Joliet Army Ammunition Plant producing ammunition used in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and the first Gulf War. In 1996, the Department of Defense transferred ownership of the 19,000 acres to the U.S. Forest Service to create Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie. With the help of  local conservation groups and countless volunteers, the USDA Forest Service has been working to restore this land to native tallgrass prairie. Today more than 13,300 acres are open to the public.

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We stopped in the Welcome Center first to pick up trail maps and learn about the prairie restoration in progress. Restoring a prairie of this size will take decades. Much of what happens at Midewin is an ongoing experiment of trial and error as USDA staff study the small patches of native prairie that remain. Vast amounts of native plant seeds are being collected and spread each year by the dedicated volunteer workforce. Over time, Midewin staff continue to learn how the different parts of a prairie ecosystem work together.

Midewin, in the language of the Potawatomi People means 'healing.'

Midewin (pronounced ‘mih-DAY-win’) has made amazing progress toward its goal already. Friendly volunteer Rangers were eager to share the history and progress of Midewin with us.

We began our prairie hike at the Iron Bridge Trailhead. As we hiked along the winding trail, it was exciting to see the progress of  the largest prairie restoration underway in the United States.

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Queen Anne’s Lace

Our hot, rainy weather during July has helped the native plants put on a spectacular show of colors.

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Late July at the tallgrass prairie

Walking through the tallgrass prairie helps us to imagine the time when 60% of the landscape of Illinois was covered in prairies.  The grasses and native flowers often grew as tall as a horse and its rider. As covered wagons made their way through the prairies in the early days, only the tops of their canvas-covered wagons could be seen above the tallgrass prairie. They truly looked like ‘prairie schooners’ bobbing slowly through the waves of the tall prairie grasses.

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Left:  Prairie Sunflower; Right: Purple Coneflower, Blue Aster. Red Clover

While the prairie wildflowers and grasses grow to impressive heights, most of the plant is below the soil with its extremely long root system. In addition to the roots, microbes, insects, and burrowing animals also play a critical role in the underground ecosystem of the prairie. Over time, the tallgrass prairies created the deep, rich topsoil of the Midwest. Once the valuable soil beneath our prairies was discovered, the tallgrass prairies disappeared quickly. In just 50 years, the prairies were replaced by farm crops and pastures for livestock.

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Queen Anne’s Lace

Today, there are less than one hundredth of one percent of the tallgrass prairies remaining in Illinois.

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Yellow Coneflower

We are so fortunate that volunteers are working to restore Midewin. They carefully harvest the seeds of wildflowers and grasses, spread the seeds, remove invasive plants, maintain the trails, and teach visitors about this valuable prairie.

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Top: Red Spotted Purple butterfly, Black Swallowtail butterfly  Bottom: dragonflies on native grasses

The prairie wildflowers and grasses attract many pollinators vital to the restoration process. As we hiked, we were entertained by the birds, bees, butterflies, and dragonflies. Cicadas were singing loudly in the afternoon sun.

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We hiked along the Iron Bridge trail in search of  bison grazing on the prairie. Chatting with other hikers, we learned that none of them had seen any bison and were returning to the trailhead. So, we decided to turn off on another trail. I stopped to admire the Queen Anne’s Lace blooming profusely, and something moving near the horizon caught my eye. Could it be?

 As we watched, we could just barely see a line of bison moving through the tallgrass and native flowers. We decided to quickly hike up to a higher place on the trail and stopped to watch the herd of bison moving. It was truly an unforgettable moment to see these huge, iconic creatures moving across the prairie!

Bison played a very important role in our history, as the Native American hunters followed them across the plains. Bison provided food, clothing, and shelter to the Native Americans.

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In the Fall of 2015, Midewin introduced bison to the prairie, in an experiment planned to last 20 years. Midewin prairie ecologists are studying the bison to see if their grazing patterns will benefit the ecosystem of the tallgrass prairie. Bison feed only on grasses, opening the prairie to more flowers and other plants. This attracts a variety of birds, insects, and other animals, increasing the biodiversity of the tallgrass prairie.

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The bison herd at Midewin, relocated from Colorado and South Dakota, includes 24 adults and 12 young bison. Just this week, two bison calves were born. As we watched them walking in a straight line, tails swishing, I was able to count 18 bison in this herd. Next time, we will bring binoculars!

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Hedge apples (Maclura pomifera), also known as Osage oranges and Bois d’arc

Turning off onto the Hedge Apple Trail, we passed a tree laden with this bumpy fruit. The Osage People used the strong, flexible wood from these trees to make their bows. These trees were often planted as wind breaks to prevent soil erosion. Their sharp thorns turned rows of Hedge Apple trees into cattle-deterring hedges, before the invention of barbed wire for fences.

As we walked along the trail, we were greeted by vast areas filled with Queen Anne’s Lace in bloom. We followed a smaller trail deeper into the prairie. I stopped and spun around very s-l-o-w-l-y taking in all of this natural beauty. It felt just like I was standing in the middle of a beautiful, watercolor painting!

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As we hiked, these Yellow Coneflowers, with their drooping yellow petals were among my very favorite prairie plants. It was fascinating to discover that so many plants from my cottage gardens at home are native wildflowers. Aster, Spiderwort, Beebalm, Purple Coneflower, ‘Blazing Star’ Liatris, Marsh Phlox, Obedient Plant, Allium, Black-Eyed Susan, and Anemones grow in the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie and in the garden at our ‘Little House Near the Prairie.’ 🙂

If you ever have the chance to walk through a tallgrass prairie, it is an experience that you will always remember! Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie is a treasure… and one that will continue to teach us to care for the land in so many important ways!

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Thanks so much for walking through the tallgrass prairie with us today!

Have you ever visited a prairie?

Do you grow any native prairie plants in your garden?

Happy August days!

♡Dawn

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Inky Fingers, Happy Hearts

Hi Friends!

Oh, what a weekend! It wasn’t the oppressive heatwave or the thunderstorms rumbling through the Midwest that I will remember most though. For I was cool and happy, downstairs in my ‘Paper Garden’ studio all weekend, in the company of papercrafters from across the globe. We were participating in the 5th annual Papertrey Ink Stamp-a-Faire, created by the  talented PTI design team. It felt truly exhilarating to share creative time with so many amazing papercrafters!

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On Friday night, I gathered some favorite Papertrey Ink stamps and dies so I would be ready to create very early on Saturday morning. Inspiration for this event came from a wide variety of Master artists. Every two hours throughout the day, a PTI design team member would share a bit of art history and a card making project based on the work of a Master. It was sure to be a day of learning and growing… and creating way beyond my comfort zone!

“Why not go out on a limb?  That’s where the fruit is.”   ~ Mark Twain

Let’s go downstairs to the ‘Paper Garden’… to see what blossomed on my craft table and in my heart over the weekend!

(Be sure to click on the links for wonderful videos about each Master artist and the great techniques they inspired.)

Starry Night

Inspired by Vincent van Gogh’s beautiful paintings of the night sky, Amy Sheffer led us through an amazing process with paper and ink.  I used seven different ink colors to create my nighttime sky. I was fascinated as I watched my inks blend! I gained new insights as I blended dye and distress inks on the same background. Spritzing the background with water created subtle, distant stars and flicking white, acrylic paint added some brighter stars.

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Next I painted a tree-lined horizon with black ink and added a sentiment over a loose nest of white thread. In a bit of pure magic, the song ‘Vincent’ (by Don McClean) began playing on the radio, while I worked! ♫ Starry, starry night… ♬ How did that happen? Serendipity, for sure! Working on the starry, night sky also brought back such wonderful memories of visiting the Van Gogh Museum, in Amsterdam.

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Supplies I used:

Ink: SU Night of Navy; Ranger Distress: Evergreen Bough, Salty Ocean, Spun Sugar, Victorian Velvet, Shaded Lilac, Seedless Preserves; Versa Mark, and black re-inker

Paper:  Canson Watercolor, cold press, 110 lb

Dies & Stamps: PTI ‘Counting My Blessings’ die;  Sentiment stamp: PTI ‘Counting My Blessings’

Also: Neat & Tangled sequins, SU Smoky Slate embossing powder,  heat tool, SU Mini Mister, white acrylic paint, white thread,  Tombow Mono Multi, ink blending tools, paintbrush

Feeling:  Magical! I will never look at a night sky in quite the same way again!

 

Gilded in Gold

Inspired by trendy, gold embossed stationery and monograms, Danielle Flanders shared her faux gold gilding technique. It was the perfect way to add a bit of sparkle to the morning! I used metallic, gold acrylic paint to add a bit of shine to several bookmarks, hoping that family and friends will feel the a bit of sparkle when they open their mail! The gold paint dried very quickly, didn’t warp the paper, and is really shiny.

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Next I created a monogrammed tag. It was fun to combine the simple look of  kraft cardstock with a gilded, scalloped tag shape! I’ve never used acrylic paint on my cards before (even though bottles of acrylic paint sit on a shelf in the ‘Paper Garden’). So, this simple project opened a whole new world of possibilities for me!

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Supplies I used:

Paper: Strathmore Bristol Smooth, SU Crumb Cake cardstock, SU Vellum cardstock

Dies & Stamps:  PTI  ‘Tag Sale: Quilted’ die; Spellbinders Nestabilities Scalloped Circle; Monogram: PTI ‘Wet Paint Alphabet Stamps’

Faux Gold Gilding: Plaid ‘Folk Art’ Metallic (Pure Gold) applied with a foam brush

Also: Pop Dots, Tombow Mono Multi, twine, Recollections blue tags

Feeling: Sparkly! Now I’m hooked on adding gilded gold touches!

 

Floral Impressionism

Inspired by Monet’s beautiful florals, Melissa Phillips shared her white embossing powder technique to achieve a soft, romantic look. Dreamy thoughts of Monet’s garden made me smile. It was fun to watercolor with layers of dye ink over a heat embossed image.

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Supplies I used:

Paper: Canson Watercolor, cold press, 110 lb

Ink: SU Pool Party, Daffodil Delight, Wild Wasabi, Blushing Bride, Primrose Petals

Stamps: Wplus9 ‘Spring Blossoms;’ a vintage French script background stamp, Mason Jar (resized)

Dies: PTI ‘Tiny Tags,’ ‘Embroidered Frames: Dots’ die (cut in half)

Also: Ranger ‘Seafoam White’ embossing powder, heat tool, paintbrush, Stamp-a-ma-Jig

Feeling: Joie de vivre! France is always close to my heart! I dream of visiting Monet’s gardens one day!

 

Pointillism Play

Inspired by the Pointillism technique of painting by applying tiny, individual dots of color, Heather Nichols shared ways of adding dots of color to stamped images.  I heat embossed my floral image to help me stay within the lines. This was a very relaxing way of stamping that gave the stamped image a whole, new look!

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Supplies I used:

Paper: Strathmore Bristol Smooth, SU Crumb Cake cardstock, Teresa Collins ‘Fabrications – Canvas’ patterned paper

Ink:  SU Primrose Petals, Daffodil Delight

Dies: PTI ‘Embroidered Frames: Dots’ die

Stamps: Hero Arts flower, PTI sentiment ‘Choose Joy,’ PTI tiny dots ‘Petite Places: A Walk in the Park’

Also: Ranger ‘Seafoam White’ embossing powder, heat tool

Feeling: So relaxed! Stamping tiny dots in the Pointillism style felt like a meditation!

Watercolor Like a Master

Inspired by the watercolor Masters, Kay Miller shared her lovely, watercolor techniques. She is a natural and helped me discover exciting ways to use older stamps in fresh, new ways. Such wonderful inspiration for me!! I will be using Kay’s techniques from now on! I created two cards, using different color palettes.

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Supplies I used:

Paper: Canson Watercolor, cold press, 110 lb,  Recollections heavyweight cardstock

Ink:  SU Primrose Petals, Daffodil Delight, Wild Wasabi, Pear Pizzazz, Blushing Bride, VersaFine Onyx Black

Stamps: SU ‘Too Kind’ (flower petals), Wplus9 ‘Spring Blooms’ (foliage). PTI ‘Sentiment Splits’

Dies: PTI ‘Sentiment Splits: Curved’

Also: Scotch Foam Mounting Tape, MISTI, paintbrush

Feeling: Thrilled! I just love discovering a new way to use an old, favorite stamp set!

Color Blocking

Inspired by the graphic designs of Andy Warhol, Lexi Daly shared her technique for using bold, repetitive images to create a graphic design. Since it was well-past midnight, I decided to try this challenge on Sunday afternoon. It was so hard to choose an image. Suddenly, it dawned on me that Color Blocking reminds me of a quilt! Right away, I found the perfect little image to stamp. I chose my deep, rich colors from our Amish quilt hanging upstairs. (Now I know that our Amish quilt is pieced with Not Quite Navy, Raspberry Ripple, Always Artichoke, and Elegant Eggplant!)🙂

This was my most difficult challenge of all! In fact, it felt like a Math test, as I measured, masked, and mumbled to myself for several hours.

ColorBlocking

 A simple, color-blocked card with a whole lot of heart…

and the perfect sentiment!

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Supplies I used:

Paper: SU Whisper White cardstock, Crumb Cake cardstock

Ink: Versa Mark, SU Not Quite Navy, Raspberry Ripple, Always Artichoke, Elegant Eggplant, Crumb Cake, VersaFine Onyx Black

Stamps: PTI ‘Quilted Sampler Additions,’  Sentiment: PTI ‘Quilted Summer’

Dies: MFT ‘Wonky Stitch Square STAX Die-namics’

Also: ZING! Clear embossing powder, Tombow Mono Multi, MISTI, Dove Blender Pen, T-ruler, Post-its (and lots of patience!)

Feeling: Relieved! Simple designs can often take the most time!

I still have one more Challenge, inspired by Jackson Pollock‘s drips and splatters of paint, to complete. Lizzie Jones shared great techniques for creating different kinds of spatters and drips. I can’t wait to try this messy technique outside in the garden, on a sunny day. It’s sure to be a fun one!

What an incredible weekend of learning and growing! I’m so grateful for the talents of the entire Papertrey Ink design team.  It was so exciting to blossom using their wonderful seeds of inspiration during Stamp-a-Faire 2016… and I’m already looking forward to next year’s event!

Inky fingers can make hearts feel happy ~

the hearts of both the cardmakers and those who receive our handmade kindness!

 

“It is good to love many things,

for therein lies the true strength,

and whosoever loves much performs much,

and can accomplish much,

and what is done in love,

is done well.”

~ Vincent van Gogh

 

Paper hugs,

♡Dawn

P.S.  Thanks so much for stopping to visit today! What creative things have you been working lately?

Added later… 

P.P.S.   Welcome Papertrey Ink Blog Hoppers!!  I wrote this post to document a wonderful Stamp-a-Faire weekend. After posting, I learned that today was a PTI Blog Hop. More serendipity!!  So happy to meet so many Papertrey Ink friends hopping along… ♡

 

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Home ‘Tweet’ Home

Foxgloves

Hi Friends!

Oh, my! These young summer days are keeping me as busy as a bee outside! I celebrated the Summer Solstice by spending the whole day in the garden. Time in the garden has been a rare blessing for the past few weeks. So, it was a real treat to make time for a bit of pruning and weeding on the longest day of the year. What a glorious morning it was!

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‘Stella d’Oro’ Daylily (Hemerocallis) and ‘Dalmation Rose’ Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea) add a welcome splash of color to our white, picket fence Herb & Tea Garden in June.

 

As I worked, surrounded by a sea of bright, orange Daylilies and fluffy, white ‘Annabelle’ Hydrangeas, the butterflies and bees were busy working right alongside me. The birdsong was especially cheerful on this special day, too!

As I busily pruned the Quince bush that grows near our ‘Welcome’ arbor, I had to suddenly stop cutting the long branches.

For there it was…

RobinEggs

Robin’s nest with four eggs waiting to hatch.

The mother robin must have seen me approach with my pruning sheers in hand and quickly flown away. I was astonished to find the sturdy nest with four beautiful eggs!  Of course, I had to stop pruning and left the nest undisturbed, hoping the mother would return. The Quince bush has a very funny shape right now, short in front, with long branches remaining in the back to protect the nest.

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With great relief, I noticed the mother robin return shortly to her little Home ‘Tweet’ Home!

Just a few feet away, while I weeded along the Friendship Garden bed, I could hear very cheery, bubbling birdsong nearby. I quickly discovered that the music was echoing from a unique, wooden birdhouse that has been in my garden for years. I’ve always considered it decorative, with its barnwood box, metal roof, and interesting, antique metal embellishments. Mounted on a pitchfork, this birdhouse always stands waist-high in a Daylily bed, near our garage.

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Imagine my delight, as I followed the singing and peeked in to see little beaks bobbing up and down! All weeding stopped, as I reached for my camera, and watched Mother Nature’s show on this first day of summer! The happy family of house wrens continued to sing for their breakfast, while the mother and father dashed out to bring back moths and other insects. They watched me, as I sat motionless watching them. One-at-a-time, the adults would hunt for an insect, land on the white picket fence near the Foxglove, fly to the small Elm tree, fly to the birdhouse, look around and dart into the hole. It happened again and again as they worked to feed their happy, little family! (You can enjoy their bubbly birdsong here.)

JuneGarden

There is nothing quite like a small, happy family taking good care of one another,

in an old home surrounded by colorful, flower gardens.

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It is definitely a Home ‘Tweet’ Home kind of summer here this year!

I have undertaken a HUGE project that will truly keep me as busy as a bee for quite a while.

Working on home improvements makes me oh-so-happy!

I have always loved restoring the beauty of an older home.

In fact, that’s the reason that I moved into this cozy bungalow so many years ago.

All those years of watching This Old House and reading Old House Journal have left their mark on my heart.

As our home nears the century mark, it’s time for another project filled with hard work and tender, loving care.

PorchRestore1

Front Porch Restoration ~ Phase One: Ceiling and Trim

While my parents were visiting us in May, we shopped together for the best tools and supplies for my big project. In early June, I began the front porch restoration. Scraping and painting the ceiling and trim took weeks. I am taking special care as I remove the old paint, so clean up each day has been long and meticulous. My husband and I wrapped the front of the house in plastic to protect it from dripping paint. (Thank goodness! There were lots of drips.) I’m so happy with the way the ceiling turned out!

This week, I will scrape and paint the four porch columns. In the coming weeks, I will work to strip and restore the floor. Finally, we will have new railings and stairs designed and built. With each phase of the project, I am learning new things. It was so exciting to discover all of the colors that the ceiling had been painted over the years! As I work, I often think about the history of our front porch and why it is so important to me to carefully preserve it. I can’t wait to hang the original porch swing again, bring out the original rocking chair, and add our vintage wicker furniture to this very special outdoor room!

Day-after-day as I work, neighbors are offering kind words of encouragement and passersby often call out, “Lookin’ good!” as they walk past. My favorite music is playing  and I’ve been singing along to keep my energy high. I’ve had to climb down from my ladder several times to do a little happy dance… because that’s just how I am feeling! ♥

Taking on a HUGE project like this really feels quite

exhausting,

achy (with sore muscles),

hot (especially wearing protective gear),

solitary (missing fun times with my friends),

challenging (as I solve problems along the way),

but most of all…

empowering!!

I love it!

♥♥♥

Waving from the top of my ladder!

I’ll be back just as soon as I can… with so much to share.

Sending happy summer wishes from our little Home ‘Tweet’ Home to yours!

Warm hugs!

♡Dawn

P.S.  When was the last time you completed a hard task that left you feeling empowered? Hope you will share with us…

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Picking Daisies

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Hi Friends!

Waiting in line has never been my ‘cup of tea,’ but this afternoon it felt different.

For I was waiting patiently in line, in my Daisy patch… behind all of the pollinators hard at work.

Slowly I inched my way into the large clump of Daisies, alongside the busy, little bees.

My morning work was finished, and my happy reward was picking Daisies.

Fresh picked Daisies, white Anemones, and Anemone seed heads

Fresh picked Daisies, white Anemones, and spent Anemone seed heads

As I waited for each little pollinator to move on, I began to count the blessings that the garden brought me this week. One-by-one, as I snipped each ‘He loves me’ Daisy, I remembered those sweet, heartwarming moments…

⚛ On Tuesday morning, as I was cutting the grass, our lawnmower stopped. Only halfway through the front yard, I tried and tried to restart the engine to no avail. David, a landscaper hard-at-work in a nearby yard, noticed my dilemma and came to the rescue. From his truck, he produced oil, a new spark plug, and his tools. Right there, in the middle of his busy morning, he adjusted the carburetor, and was able to start my lawnmower one more time. The kindness of a stranger had saved the day and I worked quickly to finish my job! (Shhhhh! I have a ‘thank you’ gift to leave in David’s truck when he comes to work in the neighborhood this week!)

⚛ Later that afternoon, while I was working in the garden, our neighbor, Jim, walked up. He had seen the lawn mower problem that morning, and ever-so-kindly offered to put the lawnmower into his truck and take it to a trusted repair shop. Now the repairman is trying so hard to work his magic, and then Jim will pick it up again with his truck. The kindness of a young neighbor (with a truck) is always so appreciated!

Raindrops on pink Clematis and Peony blossoms

Raindrops on Clematis and Peony blossoms

⚛ On Thursday morning, as I weeded the front garden beds, two lovely ladies stopped to chat as they walked past the garden. It was fun to talk with Susan, as we shared our tried-and-true tips for avoiding mosquito bites in the garden. A bit later, Devi stopped to introduce herself. She is a sweet, retired teacher, new to the neighborhood. It was such fun to tell her about our wonderful library and all that it offers! I invited her to step through the arbor to see my Friendship Garden in the backyard. Gardening always seems to invite the nicest passersby to stop and talk. It’s one of nature’s best kept secrets!

⚛ On Thursday afternoon, Elena stopped to visit. Since the day she was born, I have enjoyed watching her grow and blossom. She shared the exciting news that she now has a home of her own. Instantly, I offered to dig up perennials for her very first garden. So, plans are underway! It always warms my heart to share my garden and the gift of gardening with friends. Two other special friends, Hollice and Maria, will also come to dig up perennials to start gardens for their new homes this summer.

'Garden Grow' collage

Supplies used: Altenew ‘Garden Grow’ stamp set, Canson watercolor paper, Versafine Onyx Black pigment ink, Zig Clean Color Real Brush markers, paintbrush, water, and Post-It notes for masking images.

⚛ Saturday brought the blessing of gentle showers all day long. So, I happily spent many hours in my ‘Paper Garden’ studio downstairs. It was such fun to experiment with the Altenew ‘Garden Grow’ stamp set, creating masks to design some little garden vignettes. As I watercolored the images, using Zig Clean Color Real Brush markers, I thought about special friends who could use a bit of cheer. Soon these images will become the focal points on handmade cards. Creative time adds sunshine to the rainiest of days!

Yellow Iris and Victoria Blue Salvia

Yellow Iris and Victoria Blue Salvia, after the rain

Picking Daisies this afternoon truly did feel like an exhilarating tonic for the soul!

As the sun shone down upon the blossoms,

I slowed down to nature’s pace and took time to reflect.

So many blessings from the garden brought unexpected joys to these early June days.

Sometimes… waiting in line can be blessing, too!

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Thank you so much for picking Daisies with me today.

Your visits and comments are such a joy!

Happy Springtime days!

♡ Dawn

P.S.  What unexpected joys blessed you this past week?