Happy Things…

Hi Friends!

When the world feels unsettled in so many ways, it’s always healing to stop, catch our breath, and focus on happy things. That’s exactly what I’ve been doing the past few weeks…



With gratitude…

Our family recently gathered for a very special celebration in honor of our parents’ 67th wedding anniversary! What a joy it was to be together for such a happy reason! There were flowers, balloons, cards, and a delicious dinner in a very elegant setting.

Most important of all, there were so many heartwarming memories shared! The stories of how our parents met, their dating years, and the proposal on a very snowy night so long ago.

They reminisced about how my dad made it home from the Army the night before their wedding day and their honeymoon on Mackinac Island. They shared how it felt to leave their families behind, as newlyweds, when they moved to Texas where my dad was stationed next.

Months later, Mom and Dad were separated, in service to our country, when the Army shipped Dad off to Korea. They faithfully kept in touch by writing letters to one another every night. Their bundle of precious love letters, still tied with a ribbon, holds the day-to-day stories of that challenging time in their young marriage. I wonder if they will read their letters to one another again? I hope so!

Over the years, we have celebrated our parents’ wedding anniversary in many special ways and special places. However, this was one of the sweetest celebrations ever! ♥♥

After weeks of record-breaking rain totals in May, we finally have a bit of SUNSHINE!  In fact, we just had four sunny days in a row. 🙂 It truly lifts our spirits and fills us with solar energy!

We have been taking long walks, chatting with neighbors outside, and enjoying quiet times on the front porch. Our days and nights have been cooler than usual… and feel oh-so refreshing!


My Friendship Garden is in full bloom. It has been a delight to watch the colors change daily! The dainty, white Anemones have been dancing in the breeze. The pale purple Iris blossoms appeared next. (They always feel like a special ‘visit’ from my dear friend, Iris, in Germany!) The sunny, yellow Irises added a bright pop of sunshine to the Friendship Garden. The deep purple Siberian Irises added such depth of color to this special garden bed.

All of the plants in my Friendship Garden were gifts from the gardens of special friends. So, in addition to all of the color they add to the garden, they fill my heart with special memories of loved ones!


Old-fashioned Peonies added lush beauty to the Friendship Garden. They were already here 32 years ago, when I became a first-time homeowner and gardener. I often think of Mrs. G. who lived here and loved her garden for so many years. Perhaps she planted the Peonies?

Due to our abundance of rain, the bright, pink Peonies are taller this year than I can ever remember! It has been such fun to cut bouquets from the Friendship Garden for the front porch and to share with my parents.


After so many rainy days, I’m still busy planting containers for the front porch and our flagstone patio near the Herb and Tea Garden. “No rain, no flowers!” So, I’m grateful for the rain showers.

Although Lavender thrives in dry Mediterranean soil, our Lavender is happily blooming in its container in a corner of the Friendship Garden. Nestled along the edge of its pot are two small ‘lovebirds.’  They remind me of my sweet husband and I who will always be newlyweds! This month, we will happily celebrate our 11th wedding anniversary. The years have flown by so quickly! ♥♥



Earlier this month, a rainbow of welcoming doors was constructed and installed on the grounds of a nearby church. This artwork, created by the congregation, shows visitors to our town that ALL are welcome here. What a meaningful, heartwarming symbol of love!



A dear friend and I have a special tradition of celebrating her birthday at our beautiful Arboretum each year. This month, we were captivated by the creative artwork of Sean Kenney. Wandering along the tree-lined paths, we admired several intricate creations of insects, animals, and plants completely formed using Lego bricks. (Click to enlarge the photos to read the descriptions.)


Sean Kenney designs his fascinating creations to remind us that all of nature is connected just like the Lego bricks are connected.



The insects, animals, and plants are nature’s building blocks. We are reminded to take care of our fragile planet which connects us all.



Thick clouds overhead grew darker as two best friends walked and talked. Before long, we were caught in a very heavy downpour. Dripping wet as we burst into laughter, we promised to return again soon, to see the rest of these awe-inspiring creations!



For the past few months, I have been absolutely fascinated following a very special hiker on You Tube. It was her You Tube name, Radiate Joy, that first caught my attention. Yvette is documenting her 2,000+ mile journey as she hikes along the Appalachian National Scenic Trail from Georgia to Maine. Carrying her 25 lb. pack with camping essentials and 5 days worth of food at a time, Yvette is vlogging her Thru-Hike on the narrow trail, up and down mountains and across National Parks. She remains so upbeat and inspiring throughout this huge challenge!

I hope you will take a peek at her latest video on her Radiate Joy You Tube channel. As of Day 59 on the trail, Yvette has hiked northbound 865 miles, following the tiny, white ‘blaze’ marks painted on trees along the narrow footpaths. She has a beautiful way of filming her trek, with breathtaking sights and sounds of nature and wonderful music. I’m so impressed that she is filming on her iPhone and editing her videos in her little tent in the evenings. Yvette’s bubbly personality shines brightly through the rainiest of days and the countless obstacles she encounters along the AT.

In this video, Yvette shares her reasons for beginning this journey:

In this video, her journey begins:


Such an inspiration!! Although I would never attempt an AT adventure, I think of Yvette very often. Her joy is contagious! She inspires me to walk a little further along our nearby prairie and to meet the challenges I face along life’s journey with courage, determination, and as much joy as possible.

What Happy Things are you enjoying these days????

Do share with us…


Take time to smell the Rosemary!

♡ Dawn









14 thoughts on “Happy Things…

  1. Wow Dawn, so much to love here. Glad you’re seeing the sun at last. It seems you’ve waited patiently for ages. Loved hearing about your parents celebration and some of their stories. Gosh your Dad was lucky to make it to the wedding! Thank you for taking us along on this special day.
    Loved the photos in your garden too – bet they’re happy to be blooming after winter. Your garden looks lovely.

    And then I got engrossed with Yvette’s AT ‘walk’. Amazing what she’s managing to do on an iPhone. Her videos are so great – gives us a real feel for her journey. I especially love the sounds – the water, and even the footsteps – so clear. What an amazing adventure. Bet she comes back changed.

    I’ve just returned from having the rust on the roof of my bus fixed, and stayed with a friend – sleeping in her campervan in her driveway. That was lovely. I normally spend a lot of time alone. It was great to sit about drinking tea and talking and then going to visit a Tiny Home builder, and making food together. Lovely to have a change from my solitary ways – it’s all about balance. I left feeling filled up. This introvert does well with the company of good friends for a few days, then off to wander on my own for a while.

    And our autumn so far is quite warm and sunny so I’m loving that, and loving my garden filled with vegetables.
    Love to you dear friend. Your blog makes me feel I’m with you xox

    • Good morning, Vicky! (My Weather app tells me that it’s almost midnight tonight in New Zealand. Wishing you a happy Tuesday morning as you are reading this!) 🙂 Our long distance friendship is most definitely one of my Happy Things, Vicky! I just love how technology helps us ‘visit’ one another and stay close at heart! 🙂

      My dad was really lucky to make it home in time for the wedding! My parents didn’t know until the last minute if their wedding plans would really work out. We have been reminiscing often lately. Their stories are part of my story, too!

      My garden is flourishing after all of the rain (and two Spring snowstorms!). Things seem to be blooming about two weeks later than usual due to our cooler temperatures. I’ve been cutting the grass twice a week, just trying to keep up with all the new growth. Since I think of my garden as my ‘health club,’ I’m grateful for all of the activity!

      Oh, Vicky! I’m so happy that you watched Yvette’s AT video. Her journey is truly courageous, uplifting, and a joy to watch! She uploads her videos about once a week after she is many miles beyond each point (for her personal safety) on the trail. She is currently walking north through Virginia. I find myself paying attention to the weather in that beautiful part of our country… and thinking of her!

      Your getaway sounded both productive and filled with happy times! Spending time with friends is such a healthy part of a balanced life. I will be curious to hear more about your Tiny Home plans during our next Skype visit! I know that you will find the perfect home design to add to your beautiful New Zealand garden.

      Wishing you happy, healthy Autumn days, dear heart! Thanks for visiting and stopping to chat today! ♡

  2. Dawn, Hello my SB friend!!!
    Oh my after trying for more times than I can remember I’m finally able to receive your blogs in my email box when you post them!!! Before I use to have to remember to go and see if you posted anything new. You’ve been in my memory recently because I was in your “neck of the woods”, and also was at the book store in Wheaton not too long ago. Your garden looks beautiful…I’m still working on getting veggies in but mom nature hasn’t been very accommodating to my schedule…lol. Well once again overjoyed to reconnect with you. 😊

    • Hi Cynde! It’s so good to hear from you! Life is extra busy these days, so I am writing less often. I’m very happy to know that my letters are finally popping into your inbox! Thanks for your diligence!

      I was just thinking about that special bookstore and it’s new location, with a large gathering space. In fact, last week, I wrote to Susan Branch to let her know about another great place for book signings when Enchanted is published. 😊 Hope Susan and Joe will come our way again!

      All of our rainy days have made planting so difficult. The Midwest farmers can’t even plant their corn because there is standing water in their fields. Once your veggies are planted, you should have a bumper crop! I remember that you were making some big changes in your garden a few years back.

      I am enjoying our cooler weather though! Just returned from a long walk along the prairie with a friend. We walked so far while we were chatting. Such fun… and I reached my 10,000 steps by 9:30 this morning! The cooler weather is so energizing!

      Thanks so much for visiting and stopping to chat, Cynde! Keep in touch. Wishing you happy Summer days in your garden! 💗

  3. Happy things, indeed!
    Congratulations to your parents on their anniversary and kudos to all your family for celebrating it with them. I am reminded of how important it is to mark these moments in our lives; for ourselves and for each generation that follows
    Congratulations as well on your upcoming anniversary.

    I am slowly getting the weeds pulled and the pots planted. We have a very large, sunny deck that is the only place where the deer don’t nibble. 🙂 We use lots of plants and it is where I have a large whisky barrel filled with my kitchen herbs, including Rosemary, however, I have another Rosemary just waiting to be planted on its own. Your pot inspired me. 🙂

    This wet, cold season has made it challenging for gardeners and for farmers, hasn’t it? I’m chair of the year’s Garden Walk. The poor homeowners have had some challenges with the weather and with standing water. I think we may be on the other side of it, but . . . My peonies have been abundant and huge! A friend just told me that you can cut the bigger buds, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate. They will open.. I haven’t tried it yet – but will. They need the ants to open, so, not so sure on this one.

    Have a wonderful day, Dawn.

    • Oh, Penny! You always say the kindest things! I will pass along your Congratulations to my sweet parents.♥♥ It was a very special gathering filled with purposeful reminiscing. What a joy to see such a beautiful example of LOVE! My parents’ friends and neighbors and the staff of their Senior Living Community constantly tell me how sweet my parents are. Everyone comments on how my parents always hold hands when they are walking in the halls and how they are always talking to one another. They have such a long, beautiful love story! **Happy tears!** I am so grateful that they are making the best of the latest chapter in their love story, even with its health challenges.

      Oh those weeds! I don’t think I will ever catch up with the weeds this Summer, Penny! They are growing too quickly! Now all of the tiny Elms and Maples are sprouting. Yikes! I know you and Tom will enjoy your sunny deck all Summer long. Your Herb barrel must be flourishing in the sunshine! Rosemary is my favorite herb. Last year’s Rosemary plant overwintered in our sunny dining room window. Now it is finally back in its Summer home in the white picket fence Herb Garden. Your Rosemary most definitely deserves a special pot! ♥

      The past few years, I’ve been growing Lavender in pots, so that I can place them where I can enjoy their fragrance. A few times, I tried to start a Lavender bed with several varieties, but they rarely survived the Winter. Growing Lavender in pots helps them ‘stand out’ in the garden! Otherwise, they tend to get lost among the bigger blooms! This Lavender pot is next to a very large Peony in the Friendship Garden, yet it still captures my attention each time I walk past! 🙂

      Such challenging weather!
      I’m sure that you are extra busy preparing for the Garden Walk this year. Thank you for all that you do, Penny, to make the Garden Walk & Faire such a memorable day for all! It has become a favorite Summer tradition every July! Yes, the Peonies are so tall this year!! They are just flopping over their usual wire supports. I remember reading that Peony tip in Garden Gate magazine a year or so ago. I’ve been wanting to try it, too! Last year, I was in Arizona when my Peonies were in bloom. I will definitely try it this week! It would be lovely to extend their bloom time a bit longer.
      Such a perfect day in the garden! We’ve been waiting so long for a beautiful day like today! 🙂 I’m heading back out there now…
      Warmest hugs, Penny! ♡

  4. Thank you for sharing this vlog – I love to hike and have hiked portions of the AT in the northeast. Just watching her makes me itch to get outside!

    • I’m so happy that you watched Yvette’s AT vlog, Ericka! Her courage and bubbly personality have taken her through challenging weather and hiking obstacles over the past several months. Yvette’s vlogs truly do Radiate Joy as she shares her hike through some of America’s most beautiful places. You must have such amazing memories of your time on the AT, Ericka! My husband hiked a portion of the AT after he finished college. I’m quite sure that I would trip and fall over tree roots, slip off the edge of a mountain, or fall into a rushing river. (Ever since my childhood camping trips and hikes, I’ve been one to trip over most things in my path. 🙂 ) So, I’m a ‘happy camper’ just following along on Yvette’s journey of a lifetime… and cheering her on! She truly inspires me to walk further along our easy path along the prairie here. It’s nice and flat, with nothing to fall over! 🙂
      Hope you can get outside for some great walks this Summer, Ericka! Thanks for stopping to visit and chat today! Warm hugs! ♡

  5. Hi Dawn! My husband came home from Vietnam 50 years ago last February seven days before our wedding so I have a feel for what your mother went through–but boy, they were really cutting it close! Did they have a formal wedding? I did, complete with reception, etc. We honeymooned in Traverse City, MI.

    I did a post about Sean Kenney’s creations when they were in Winchester, VA in case you want to see the rest of it: https://takejoysociety.blogspot.com/2018/08/winchester-get-together-august-2018.html

    I watched the intro video for the Appalachian Trail hike and am looking forward to starting at the beginning in a few days. I’m in need of a new series to watch while I’m on the elliptical. I’ve been binge watching a homestead family in Idaho for a couple months, but sadly, they stopped vlogging last year and I’ve come to the end.

    • Oh, Cathy! You had SO much to celebrate on your wedding day!!💕 My parents had a formal wedding, with their reception in the church reception hall. I think they visited friends in Traverse City on their honeymoon trip! Then my dad had to report to camp in Texas, before he shipped off to Korea. Such challenging times when couples are separated by military service! We owe both military husbands and wives a huge debt of gratitude for their service to our country. So, thank you both, for serving our country over fifty years ago. 🇺🇸🇺🇸

      Thanks for including the interesting link, Cathy! I enjoyed reading about Sean Kenney’s LEGO creations in the beautiful gardens in Winchester, VA. Such a nice place to explore with your Take Joy Society!

      I hope you will enjoy Yvette’s courage, determination, and uplifting spirit as you follow her along the Appalachian Trail. It was her You Tube name ‘Radiate Joy’ that caught my attention when it popped into my feed a few months ago. It has been fascinating to follow her journey! Yvette posts her vlogs about once a week, but I often find myself thinking of her in between her vlog posts, and hoping that she is safe on the trail. I’m so grateful that she is documenting her adventure and sharing it with the rest of us. Stories truly do matter… and her journey is an inspiring one!

      Thanks so much for stopping to visit and chat today, Cathy. It’s always a treat to hear from you! Wishing you happy Summer days in your garden!💗

  6. Lovely flowers, uplifting conversation, and Happy Anniversary to both your parents and you and your husband. I’ve been enjoying the outdoors and am actually headed to the beach today because the rain is moving in for the foreseeable future. I admire Yvette going after her hiking dream, and I always learn something from what people embrace on their life’s journey. This is not something that would have appealed to me even at a younger age, but I applaud her for taking on the challenge and all of the satisfaction she will feel upon its completion. Go Yvette!

    • Many thanks, Judy! I love hearing about your Happy Things ~ time in the garden and a day at the beach. I remember with great fondness visiting the beaches in your area.
      This morning I saw your rain forecast for New England! Hope that everyone will be safe in the heavy rains. I’m also thinking of all those hikers on the Appalachian Trail. Hope that Yvette and all of the other hikers can find safe shelter during the storms! They are very good about watching the weather forecasts and knowing when to take a 20-mile day or shelter in place for safety.
      Enjoy your sunshine today, Judy! 🔆 I just came in from the garden and now the raindrops are falling. Maybe it will be a Paper Garden afternoon! 💗

  7. Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous. Loved your beautiful post today talking about Happy Things. I’ve been doing the same myself, and like you, aiming to look at the days intentionally, mindfully, and with gratitude. What a beautiful sharing of your parents’ wedding anniversary celebrations, and that youtube of Yvette on the Appalachian Trail — I am searching that out. What a pretty friendship garden — everything is popping out on this lovely June summer days.

    Wishing you glimpses of heaven in unexpected places, Dawn!
    Brenda xox

    • Heartfelt thanks, Brenda, for your very kind words! It’s so important to seek out moments of joy during challenging times. Blessings are always there if we look for them!

      Brenda, I think you will be fascinated to follow Yvette’s challenging journey along the Appalachian Trail. During her most recent video, she reached 900 miles of hiking! Her You Tube channel ‘Radiate Joy’ is a perfect example of seeking moments of joy along the ups and downs of life’s path.

      Spring is my very favorite time in my garden! This week, the colors are changing. Very soon, orange and yellow daylilies will take on a staring role. Everything seems to be blooming about two weeks later than usual due to our cooler weather this year. Today our temperatures were only in the 60s, more typical of April rather than mid June.

      Thanks so much for visiting and chatting with us today, Brenda! I look forward to visiting your blog, where I always find much comfort and joy! Warmest hugs! 💗

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