Let’s Stay Home

Hi Friends!

You have been in my heart so often lately as we all walk together through this unprecedented moment in time. ♥ I truly hope that all of you and your families are well. How are you doing?  Please let us know…

If you are new to our blog, “Welcome!” Please say “Hi” in the comments…

My family is adjusting to all of the changes and just taking things one day at a time.  Here in Illinois we have been under a Stay At Home order for three weeks already. My husband has been working remotely from home. We have turned our dining room into his temporary office with his computers gracing our dining room table. I am trying to be extra quiet to help out. 😉 We both feel so grateful that he is able to work from home during this unsettled time.

We have both been taking extra precautions to stay healthy so that we can continue to help my parents as care partners. A few weeks ago, we began doing our grocery shopping online and having groceries delivered to our front porch to avoid all the stores. We have recently begun wearing masks when we must leave home.

At present, there are thirty-three known cases of Coronavirus in our town and over sixty Coronavirus patients in our local hospital. So, we continue to heed the advice of the scientists and doctors, our state governor, and local leaders. By staying home and social distancing, we are trying our very best to help flatten the curve.

Personally, this quiet time of staying at home feels like an unfamiliar ‘pause’ for me. Since the beginning of the year, life as a care partner had been very, very busy with doctors’ appointments, hospitalizations, and extended stays with my parents to help out. It always feels like an honor to spend time with my dear parents. They are still my best teachers as they show me how to live our best lives with bravery, resilience, and everlasting love!

For the past month, however, their Senior Community has been on lockdown. Everyone there is healthy… and they are using an abundance of caution to avoid the Coronavirus in their building. Three meals each day are delivered to their apartment. I’m so grateful that my parents have one another for company! All activities have been cancelled and their gathering spaces must remain empty. Everyone there is doing their part to Stay At Home. So far, it has been working…

It’s definitely a worrisome time, though, as a care partner who cannot visit! Lots of phone calls and Skype ‘visits’ are helping to keep us close, but nothing can take the place of real visits to help out in so many ways. So, it’s a challenging time for us. I am still able to drop off packages of medicine and other essentials at the lobby and staff members deliver them to my parents’ apartment. Last week, after dropping off a package, I followed the outdoor path along to their apartment and made a surprise phone call to invite Mom and Dad out onto their second-floor balcony. It was so nice to chat (loudly!) together for a few minutes as a family! ♥

Now I am savoring this unexpected ‘pause’ in quiet ways, giving myself much grace to feel all of the feelings. Reading, soaking up creative inspiration, writing in my Self-Care bullet journal, listening to podcasts, attending virtual WW Workshops, talking with friends, and writing letters help to lift my spirits. The online communities of creatives have been connecting with one another more often, as we encourage one another to share our handmade kindness with the world. I spent time tidying up my little Paper Garden studio downstairs and plan to spend lots of time creating handmade cards in the weeks to come. 🙂 I’m so very grateful that my creative spirit is slowly returning!

Spending time in nature has also been nourishing my heart and soul. I’m savoring daily walks through my garden, practicing ‘the art of noticing,’ as the perennials awaken during my very favorite season. I have also been taking brisk, solo walks (with lots of social distancing) through the neighborhood enjoying the sunshine and birdsong, as the Forsythia and Magnolias begin to bloom.

Unhurried time and ‘white space’ on my calendar have led to simple, new mindfulness practices. They are just small changes, but they feel very meaningful. During this heartbreaking time in our world, I have been even more aware of the importance of practicing gratitude. Every morning, as I hang the flag on our front porch, I quietly thank all of the doctors, nurses, first responders, scientists, store clerks, mail carriers, delivery people, and other essential workers who are doing such brave work while we stay at home.

Each evening, as I take down the flag, I think of all of the teachers who are working so hard to prepare meaningful lessons for their students while they cannot gather together in their classrooms. I think of the students who suddenly have to adapt to this new way of learning and their parents who have been pressed into the role of homeschooling. I also think of all the volunteers who are helping in food pantries and distributing boxes of food for those who have suddenly found themselves unemployed due to the Coronavirus. It’s humbling to see so many people who have come together to help during this frightening time.

I have also begun counting my blessings out loud each time I wash my hands! We are constantly washing our hands these days and practicing gratitude each time I use soap and water helps to soften the effect of all the breaking news. Although life feels very different now, there is still much to be thankful for each day. It helps us to remain hopeful that if we all do our part, there will be brighter days ahead!

Let’s stay home, stay safe, and stay positive!

♥ ♥ ♥

 

We are all in this together…

Please let us know how things are going in your corner of the world.

How are YOU coping with all that is happening?

 

Sending warm blessings for Easter and Passover,

Dawn

 

 

 

 

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Winter’s Song

Hi Friends!

Winter’s song has been the soundtrack of our days here in the Midwest. While my perennial and herb gardens sleep under a blanket of white, I have been savoring the sounds of silence.

Whenever Mother Nature layers on another snowy blanket overnight, the scraping of a shovel and roar of a snowblower add to our early morning symphony.

Inside a peaceful lull warms my heart, as I peek through the white, lace curtains in the dining room window while warming my hands with a big mug of tea.

The comforting, familiar notes of Winter’s song continue as the tea kettle sings, the furnace hums, and our old, hardwood floors softly squeak underfoot.

Sunny Winter days cast silent shadows on the walls, as the temperatures outside plummet.

While Winter’s song serenades my garden beds as they sleep, my thoughts always turn to the ‘gift’ of my other garden ~ my little Paper Garden studio downstairs…

During the coldest months, it gets quite chilly downstairs in my studio. Before long my fingers and toes grow numb. So, on those days, I do all of my cutting downstairs, then gather up a basketful of inks, paper, stamps, and tools, and finish making cards upstairs on our sunny dining room table. 🙂

Inspiring supplies from The Greetery have warmed my creative heart all Winter long! Designer Betsy Veldman creates stamps and dies from her own paintings. This new, independent stamp company has quickly become my favorite!

It was fun to create tiny Winter vignettes using the BotaniCuts Pine Boughs dies from The Greetery. First, I die cut the pine needles from green cardstock. Then I sponged on Distress Oxide inks to add depth and texture. After die cutting the pine cones from kraft cardstock, I assembled the scales using Tombow Mono liquid glue to form each dimensional pine cone.

Finally, I added darker texture using Prismacolor pencils.

Tiny, woodsy vignettes made their way onto several one-of-a-kind cards.

Some cards brought warm wishes to faraway friends,

while others were hand delivered, with a big hug!

On another sunny, Winter afternoon, I found my inspiration in Betsy’s ‘Budding Beauties Winter’ stamps and dies. Usng a MISTI stamp positioner, I stamped Distress Oxide inks in layers to create sprigs of pine needles, winter berries, and mistletoe.

Next, I die cut the ‘Inside & Out Berry Branch’ from white cardstock to add a snowy feel. I die cut ribbons using the ‘Fit to Be Tied’ dies and sponged them with Distress Oxide ink.

Each one-of-a-kind card featured a different ‘Shape Shifters’ diecut shape from Papertrey Ink. The subtle background hearts were embossed using the ‘Drawn Hearts’ stencil from Simon Says Stamp, with an embossing mat and my Big Shot.

What a delight to create tiny botanical gatherings without stepping outside into our snowy garden! Winter’s song played on to the tune of footsteps running up and down the basement stairs to the Paper Garden to die cut and gather more supplies. (A nice, little workout, too! 🙂 )

Making cards is so heartwarming because I think of the recipient the entire time I am creating a card. Mailing off my cards, with personal notes enclosed to warm hearts, fills me with such joy!

 

My February bullet journal pages are also a celebration of my love for cardmaking, letter writing, and warming hearts near and far! 

The heartbeat of Winter’s song will play on for a few more weeks here in the Midwest…

but these Magnolia buds near our front porch remind me every day that my very favorite season is on the way! The birds have already been waking us with their early morning chorus. It won’t be long until I am humming a Springtime melody! 🙂

♥ ♥ ♥

Hope that you are carrying a song

in YOUR heart today! 

As always, I cherish your visit!

Thank you for being here!

 

Paper hugs!

Dawn

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Blank Pages…

Hi Friends!

Warm greetings from the wintery Midwest! Tiny snowflakes are dancing down as I write. A long string of cloudy days has us all dreaming of sunshine here! The first four weeks of the new year have flown by quickly.

Quiet moments of stillness during January often found me daydreaming…

As we rang in the New Year, I was really looking forward to my third year of bullet journaling and couldn’t wait to carefully unwrap a brand new Rhodia dot grid journal! Keeping a Self-Care Journal has been such a positive, inspiring way to create purposeful days over the past two years. Just a few quiet moments each evening spent reflecting on the day have taught me so many important lessons! My Self-Care Journal has become a powerful teacher, a place to set new goals, celebrate special moments, count my blessings, and track my healthy habits.

The time spent setting up my bullet journal each month always feels like a special, little gift ~ to me, from me! This January, however, felt very different. The blank, dot grid pages waited patiently while I relished several different creative thoughts…

Hmmm…  Was it procrastination or laziness that slowed me down this January? Not at all! I truly treasure the time I spend on my Self-Care Journal. So, why were the pages in my journal blank during the first half of January?

Those blank pages were cherished, day after day, while I relished the possibilities!

I was simply taking the time to honor my ‘word’ for this year. 🙂

For each of the past eight years, I have focused on a ‘word.’ Throughout our home, there are visible reminders of each word. Last Summer, I created Word Stones for my Friendship Garden to carry this mindfulness practice into the garden, too! 🙂

 

It feels so lovely to have a new ‘word’ to guide me this year…

2020 ~ savor

This Spring, I can’t wait to add a brand new ‘word’ to my Friendship Garden. 🙂

 

It felt simply luxurious to take extra time to savor several creative thoughts before beginning this year’s bullet journal. In my past two journals, I added bright color to each page. Using colorful markers kept me motivated all year long. Perhaps this year, it would be fun to try a more minimalist journaling style? Lately, I’ve been inspired by black and white pages, with pale, gray, drop shadows. It might be fun to create a completely new look in my 2020 journal! Oh, the possibilities! Day after day, I delighted in my creative thoughts until it felt just right to put pen to paper.

My 2020 Self-Care Journal will feature monthly spreads with soft colors and habit trackers in black and white, with the palest gray lines to chart my progress. Handlettered quotations will keep me inspired throughout the year. It felt like such a blessing to intentionally slow down and take time to savor the creative possibilities!

I’m so grateful that the ‘word’ savor chose me this year! It will be the perfect reminder to slow down a bit and take the time to fully appreciate the special moments sprinkled throughout each busy day. I have already noticed subtle changes! At a recent WW Lifetime gathering, we each created a Mind Map for the new year. I wrote savor in the center of my map, and set my intentions to savor time for Self-Care, Family, Creativity, Growth, and time in Nature. This Mind Map will be a visible reminder to slow down a bit and savor the joyful, meaningful moments in each and every day. 🙂

In January, one of the inspiring books I read was Seeking Slow, by Melanie Barnes. The author offers so many thoughtful ideas for living a slower life focusing on the simple pleasures in each day. I took notes as I read and look forward to making time to savor her ideas throughout the year.

I have been noticing and honoring the “slow moments” in my days ~ listening to music, writing in my journal, brewing a cup of herbal tea, watching the snowflakes fall, writing a long letter, and walking in nature. Melanie Barnes has also inspired me to create a “Quiet Corner” ~ a calm, relaxing place to savor at home. Now there is a small space for Yoga practice in a corner of our living room. I have been taking time to enjoy the plants blooming in our sunny dining room, noticing the vibrant Christmas Cactus blossoms, the pale pink Cyclamen blossoms, and the fragrant Lavender blossoms. It all feels very comforting and healing!

My blank pages are slowly filling up…

as I savor the quiet moments tucked into the corners of my days.

Thank you so much for taking the time to visit today!

What things have you been doing to nourish your heart and soul?

Do you have a special goal or ‘word’ to guide you through the new year?

What have you been reading lately?

Hope you will share with us…

 

Warm, cozy hugs!

♡ Dawn

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Comfort and Joy

Hi Friends!

This December has been a time of poignant reflection. I have been intentional about honoring the past year and all of the lessons that it taught me. There were many difficult lessons, ones that I never dreamed I would encounter. Life can be a great teacher! By embracing the small moments and big milestones, I have grown in so many unexpected ways. 

‘Comfort and Joy’ is the theme of my Self-Care bullet journal this month. The Winter botanical illustrations were inspired by artist Shayda Campbell. ♥

Throughout December,

I have been intentionally focused on

creating moments of Comfort and Joy.  

Just last week, as I hurried from place to place,

the bright afternoon sunshine drew me to

  a joyful, unplanned destination.

The Winter Flower show at our nearby Conservatory

was in full bloom!

Wrapped in the love of family and friends,

I am happily celebrating

a simpler, quieter holiday season this year.

 

The magic of the season glows 

with sweet reflection,

small handmade gifts of love,

and time spent connecting with those I hold dear.

 

Favorite holiday traditions warm the heart…

and new traditions add cozy, comfort!

 

TIME is my most precious gift ~

time with loved ones,

creative time,

time to learn and grow,

 time to give and share …

and time to just BE.

 

Sending big hugs and warm thoughts

to anyone hurting during this holiday season.

Look for small moments of Comfort and Joy

in each and every day.

Celebrate in your own special way!

May we all step into the new year (and new decade!)

with light, grateful hearts!

♥♥

Merry Christmas, sweet friends!

So grateful for your visits and thoughtful comments

all year long!

 

With love,

♡ Dawn

 

 

 

 

 

 

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64 Words

Hi Friends,

Our stories truly do matter!

Today I am celebrating the power of words

as I document a bit of my story.

Adventures

Antiques

Artistic

Birthdays

Blessings

For each of the past eight years, I have focused on a ‘word.’ Throughout our home, there are visible reminders of each word. This year I created Word Stones for my Friendship Garden to carry this mindfulness practice into the garden, too! 🙂

Blogging

Blossom

Books

Breathe

Candlelight

Cards

I just LOVE creating handmade cards in my little Paper Garden studio downstairs! Each one feels like a little ‘visit’ with a loved one the entire time I am working with paper and ink. Mailing cards off to warm hearts brings me so much joy!

Cherish

Children

Chocolate

Connecting

Coziness

A cup of herbal tea, a good book, soft candlelight, and favorite music add such coziness to cold, Winter days!

Creativity

Dancing

Dancing has always been a special part of my life. I can still remember standing on my daddy’s feet and dancing together in the living room as a young child. I loved taking ballet lessons while growing up. During my college years, we all loved disco dancing on the weekends. This year, I’m having a fabulous time line dancing every week at our Senior Center. It’s boot scootin’ fun… and we laugh a lot! Gotta dance!! 🙂

Daisy

Dawn

Dawn is my favorite time of day. 🙂 Each sunrise means a new beginning with new possibilities!

Earth-friendly

Explore

Family

Friendship

Gather

Garden

Gardening with perennials and herbs is one of my passions! My Friendship Garden bed (in the foreground) is filled with perennials given to me over the years from gardening friends.

Grace

Gratitude

Handmade

Happiness

Heartfelt

Herbs

The ‘heart’ of my garden is my Herb & Tea garden, built with love, and surrounded by a white, picket fence.

Home

Hope

Hydrangea

Oh, how I love Hydrangeas (and Daisies)! My wedding bouquet was filled with Hydrangeas. I asked the florist to create a simple bouquet that looked as if I just walked through the garden picking blossoms. It was perfect!

Inky

Inspired

Intentional

Invite

Journals

Morning Pages inspire my creative journey. Looking back through my Garden Journal warms the coldest of Winter days. For the past two years, my Self-Care bullet journals have taught me so much. I can’t wait to begin my 2020 bullet journal. Journaling is one important way that I nourish my creative heart and soul! ♥

Joy

Kindness

Learning

Letters

Love

Memories

Mindfulness

Music

Namaste

Nourish

Old-Fashioned

Paper

Perennials

Positive

Present

Renaissance

My Renaissance (the ‘R’ word that I use for my Retirement) is such a wonderful gift of TIME. After thirty-five happy years of teaching young children, I continue the same goals that guided my teaching ~ learn something new every day, be creative, and make a difference! ♥

Restore

Self-Care

Serendipity

Story

Sunshine

I carry sunshine in my soul each day. It’s a way of life!

Teacups

Teacher

Walking

Oh, the places I’ve walked! I enjoy walking along the prairie, in the desert, on foreign cobblestones, through the woods, and on beaches along the Pacific and Atlantic coasts. When my sweet husband and I first met, many of our dates were spent walking hand-in-hand along sparkling water. We got to know one another as we walked along rivers, ponds, lakes, creeks, waterfalls, and a peaceful bog. He even proposed on a very special hike in one of our favorite places! 🙂

♥♥♥

Every single word on this list holds a part of my life story!

It was such fun to create my long list of words,

and a challenge to edit my list.

(There were so many more words that I wanted to include!)

What words would you include on your list?

Today’s post was inspired by Stacy Julian, one of my favorite Memory Keepers, Storytellers, and Scrapbookers. Stacy’s podcast, Exactly Enough Time (Episode 20 ~ “Words I Love”) resonated with me several months ago. I’m so grateful for her inspiration! As time goes on, I hope to share a bit more of my story here…

I’m hoping that you might feel inspired to tell your story, too.

Our stories truly do matter!

 

Wishing you a wonderful weekend!

Warmest hugs,

♡ Dawn

 

 

 

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Change…

Hi Friends!

There is change in the air!

Can you feel it, too?

Today we were blessed with a mild, sunny day here in the Midwest. It was the perfect opportunity to rake leaves one last time and put my perennial and herb gardens to bed for a long Winter’s rest. As I worked, I reflected on the past year in the garden. An abundance of taller than usual perennials with extra-large blossoms was our reward for all of those rainy days. It was such a joy to bring my mom bouquets of flowers several times a week!

We had a growing season filled with unexpected surprises, too. In late April, a heavy, wet snowfall buried our tulip blossoms and scattered our Magnolia blossoms like confetti over the snow. Halloween brought several more inches of snow. We wished the brave, frozen trick-or-treaters a “Happy Halloween” (and a “Merry Christmas”, too!). They all giggled! 🙂 Brightly colored Autumn leaves blanketed our snowy yard in the days that followed. We have already shoveled Autumn snow several times this month.

Every November, I look forward to gathering stems of dried flowers and seed pods to fill antique wooden boxes and baskets for the front porch. Last week, it was an incredible challenge to collect garden gatherings that weren’t crushed by the early snow. This year, evergreen branches, shiny, holly-like sprigs of Grape Mahonia (Mahonia Aquifolium), pine cones, and one large bundle of dried Annabelle Hydrangeas (hanging in the garage) came to the rescue. Containers filled with garden gatherings help warm up the coldest of Winter days! I cherish the chance to enjoy these sweet garden memories when everything is covered under a thick blanket of snow.

As the seasons change, I’ve been enjoying The Simplicity of Cozy by Melissa Alvarez. It’s lovely to read about the traditions celebrated in many countries that encourage us to slow down, enjoy time in nature, and practice mindfulness. A warm afghan and a hot cup of herbal tea are the perfect accompaniments as I read and mark favorite passages. I’m looking forward to creating a special page in my Self-Care Journal for December with ideas inspired by this book.

We have a brand new family tradition beginning this Thanksgiving! 🙂 For the past 25 years, we have gathered around the table at our home with my brothers for Thanksgiving dinner. My parents always joined us for pumpkin pie, via Skype, from their desert home in Arizona. Last Thanksgiving, I was still in Arizona helping our parents prepare for their big move back to Illinois. So, my sweet husband carried on our Thanksgiving tradition on his own, by inviting my brothers for dinner, while my parents and I Skyped-in for pumpkin pie.

This year we are all so excited to celebrate our Thanksgiving together! 🙂  We will gather at my parents’ beautiful Senior Living Community for this happy celebration. The chef will prepare Thanksgiving dinner in their elegant dining room. The pumpkin pie will be sweeter than ever because our family will all be gathered around one table together! My heart is overflowing with gratitude…

One of my very favorite Thanksgiving traditions will not change at all. Many years ago, I wanted to encourage everyone to count our many blessings, amidst the always lively conversation during our Thanksgiving dinner. As I set the table, at each place setting I placed three kernels of unpopped popcorn. Between every two guests, I placed a small, vintage, pressed glass dish. When my husband and my brothers gave me a quizzical look, I explained…

At the very first Thanksgiving celebration in 1621, the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag people gathered to celebrate Plymouth colony’s first harvest. By working together, they grew maize (corn) and other crops to sustain them. The three-day celebration was a time to give thanks for their harvest and all the ways they had worked together.

Then I reminded everyone that we were also gathering to give thanks and celebrate our strong family ties. So, throughout our dinner, each time we thought of something we were thankful for, we should drop one kernel of corn into the nearby glass dish, listening for the ringing sound it made. My kernels of corn slowly dropped into a dish, ting!… ting!… ting! as I silently counted my blessings throughout the meal. Little-by-little, the menfolk followed suit, silently counting their blessings. My heart warmed just knowing that we were adding a meaningful reminder of the reason we gather together on Thanksgiving!

Each year after, as I set a harvest table for Thanksgiving, I added an extra corn kernel to each place setting. Being mindful and taking time to count our blessings, silently during dinner, was becoming second nature. Sounds of ting! ting! ting! have become part of the soundtrack of our family feasts. Two years ago, each place setting had eight corn kernels. Last year, when the men gathered together for Thanksgiving, they decided to set up the corn kernels on their own to remember to count their blessings. 🙂 Imagine my surprise when they proudly shared the news with me via Skype!

At the end of each Thanksgiving dinner, I carefully place the “blessings” (corn kernels) into a small jar. It is slowly filling up with our family’s blessings! Each year, we use new corn kernels to count our blessings and add them to our Thankful Jar. You can be certain that I will bring lots of extra corn kernels and our Thankful Jar to my parents’ lovely, new  home this Thanksgiving!

Our long tradition reminds us all to be present and mindful of the reasons why we gather around the table filled with turkey, dressing, cranberries, squash, beans, cornbread,… and pumpkin pie. We are all looking forward to celebrating in a new place, surrounded by new friends and neighbors and their families. Oh, yes! It’s much more than pumpkin pie! Feel free to try this little tradition at your Thanksgiving, Friendsgiving, or next special gathering. It’s so simple, but once those who gather catch on, it is a wonderful reminder of the purpose for our gathering!

What’s your favorite Thanksgiving tradition?

♥♥♥

All year long, as I count my blessings,

(and write them on the Gratitude page in my journal),

I feel so very grateful for all of the friends

who gather here at our little blog.

Thank you all for being here!

You inspire me in so many ways!

 

Wonderful news! A dear friend of our blog has just begun writing a new blog of her own. Vicky has lived in several different countries, in very different types of homes, and has recently moved back to her native New Zealand! She is a true kindred spirit, and a wonderful writer and photographer. Vicky and I met several years ago in an international, online book club for artists and other creatives. Letter writing and Skype visits have helped our friendship blossom over the years. Summertime is quickly approaching and  Vicky’s garden is thriving. I’m so happy that Vicky is now blogging at TheSpaciousLifeRealised.  🙂 Let’s surprise Vicky! Take a peek at her first post … and say “Hi!” I think you will enjoy her blog, too!

Happy, Happy Thanksgiving to all!

With warm gratitude,

♡ Dawn

 

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Peaceful, Easy Feeling

Hi Friends!

As our busy Summer slips away, it feels like the perfect time to share one of our very favorite Summer days. Visiting the Chicago Botanic Garden is always a treat for all of the senses! On this delightful, late August day, the gardens welcomed us… as my heart overflowed with a sweet song of Summer.

Strolling together along quiet lakes with my husband has always been a beautiful part of “our story.” In fact, we will always cherish one of our very early dates here, at the Chicago Botanic Garden,  as we walked hand-in-hand while getting to know one another! ♥♥

The early morning stillness felt like a walking meditation. The pollinators were already busy at work while we had the garden paths to ourselves.

I always find so much inspiration here that it quickly turns into an Artist’s Date! I’m drawn to nature’s color combinations that would be so lovely in my cottage perennial gardens and the delicate petal forms that I long to capture with watercolors in my new sketchbook. My camera roll quickly fills with all of the beauty… along with a ‘wish list’ of perennials that would feel right at home in my garden!

 

This has been my Summer to learn more about Mason bees because we were gifted with a beautiful Mason bee house for our garden. Each morning, I check on their progress as these hardworking pollinators fill the tiny, hollow tubes with eggs. Little-by-little, they seal each full tube with wet, clay soil.

In nature, Mason bees often lay their eggs in tiny cracks, in pine cones, in bundles of sticks, and other protected spaces, then seal the opening with wet soil. We really enjoyed this large display about Mason bees.

Isn’t this a truly charming Mason bee house? Nestled in among the Hydrangea blossoms, the house rests on a tree trunk. Bee-still my heart… even more inspiration! 🙂

My heart was all a-flutter as I glanced at my watch.

It was time!

The main reason for today’s visit was to enjoy the Butterflies & Blooms exhibition at the Chicago Botanic Garden. From late May through early September, visitors have a rare opportunity to spend time with live butterflies native to South America, North America, Asia, Africa, and some Illinois natives, as well. Just six people at a time entered the vestibule for our introduction and instructions. We were reminded to look down at the ground often, especially after standing in one place to observe or photograph. Butterflies often rest on the ground and care must be taken to preserve their safety.

As we carefully stepped inside,

such a peaceful, easy feeling washed over me…

A beautiful garden of host plants in full bloom welcomed us inside the large screened-in exhibition space. Hundreds of butterflies fluttered about landing on the colorful blooms. (To learn the name and country of origin of each butterfly, just click here.)

I enjoyed seeing so many of the same flowers that grow in my perennial garden beds. 🙂 (To learn about the flowers from the exhibition, just click here.) It was so interesting to observe the how blossom colors and forms attracted the butterflies.

We headed toward the Pupa Room to peek through the window into the Emergence Chamber. Every Friday throughout the exhibition, 300 to 500 new chrysalises arrive here. All of them are raised on butterfly farms for  educational purposes. The butterflies and moths for this exhibition are never caught in the wild.

The chrysalises hang inside the hot, humid Emergence Chamber (80 degrees F, 80% humidity) until they are ready to hatch. Butterflies usually emerge in the morning as the sun shines down on the Emergence Chamber. It only takes a few seconds to emerge! The new butterfly hangs onto the chrysalis until it is ready to unfurl its wings. As soon as its wings are dry, it begins to fly around. Then it is carefully lifted out for release. What an amazing Morning Science lesson!

We were delighted to observe several brand new butterflies being released into the exhibition. I just love new beginnings! 🙂 The new butterflies immediately flew over to a nearby feeding dish.

Four feeding dishes are scattered throughout the exhibition space. The dishes are filled with rotting fruit and a sponge filled with blue Gatorade. Butterflies like to eat bananas, watermelon, mangoes and pineapple (the more rotten the better). They sip sugar water from the sponge and flower nectar through their proboscis, a straw-like structure. Butterflies do not have chewing mouth parts.

Enjoy the delicate beauty of a few of these “flying flowers”…

We also had a fascinating opportunity to view a large atlas moth (native to Southeast Asia) up close. It is one of the largest insects on the planet. The atlas moth does not feed after emerging from its cocoon. During the day, it doesn’t move from its resting place. It uses all of its energy while looking for a mate at night. This beautiful moth only lives for one or two weeks.

This close up shows the intricate, detailed wing of the atlas moth.

Awe inspiring!

 

When a butterfly landed on my wrist, it was a perfect time for an impromptu Science lesson with some young visitors. (Once a teacher, always a teacher!) 🙂 Another visitor walked by wearing a straw hat adorned with visiting butterflies.

  A short Butterflies & Blooms video (courtesy of The Chicago Botanic Garden)

As visitors came and left, we lingered in this peaceful oasis for 1.5 hours. There was so much beauty to savor and enjoy! My sweet husband has been a Lepidoptera enthusiast since childhood. So, he was truly in seventh heaven! Spending time among hundreds of colorful butterflies gave me the most wonderful, peaceful, easy feeling!

As we left the Butterflies & Blooms exhibition, special Butterfly TSA volunteers carefully checked us for any butterfly ‘hitchhikers’ that might ride out with us. In the outer vestibule, each visitor spun around at a mirror to check for possible butterfly escapees. We must be very careful to avoid introducing non-native species to our environment.

We had such a lovely morning! It was simply delightful to watch the young children interacting with the butterflies. Photographers focused their long lenses as butterflies sipped nectar from blossoms. Gardeners dreamed of new perennials to attract butterflies to their gardens. My heart was overflowing with gratitude for this peaceful, enchanting experience!

Heartfelt thanks, dear blog friends, for continuing to visit

over the past several weeks.

I am truly grateful for your friendship! ♥♥

Special family time is keeping me extra busy.

I still have SO many stories to share…

♥♥♥

Sending crisp, cozy Autumn blessings,

from my heart to yours!

 

With gratitude,

♡ Dawn

P.S.  When did you experience a peaceful, easy feeling this Summer?  Hope you will share with us!

 

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“The Longest Day”

Hi Friends,

In honor of the Summer Solstice, the day with the most light, I am here again shining a light on “The Longest Day” event, held each year by the Alzheimer’s Association. (This is a repost from last year’s fundraising event.) Heartfelt thanks for taking the time to read… ♥♥

Next time, we will gather here to ‘Chat by the Garden Gate’ and see what’s blooming in my garden! 🙂  Wishing you a beautiful start to Summer!

 

Hi Friends!

Our blog is going Purple today…

and the reason is LOVE.

It is my greatest hope that you will share

in “The Longest Day” on June 21st.

In the past year, Alzheimer’s Disease has touched my family and made an profound impact on all of our lives. In search of ways to help my family, I have dedicated much of my time and energy to learning all that I can about this heartbreaking disease.  The Alzheimer’s Association is helping me every step of the way…

 

My family is not alone.

The statistics are truly alarming….

By age 65+    1 in 9 people are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

By age 85+    1 in 3 people are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

More women are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s than men.

Although there are different types of dementia, 80% of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease.

No one has ever survived Alzheimer’s disease.

The Alzheimer’s Association is leading the fight against this disease. They offer valuable seminars at public libraries throughout our area. Their helpful webinars present the latest research and extremely helpful information for caregivers. The Alzheimer’s Association Help Line (800-272-3900) offers live support 24/7 from caring professionals to answer questions and concerns. The Alzheimer’s Association funds vital research and clinical trials in search of a cure.

Siberian Iris with Birdbath

I have been able to take advantage of so many of these valuable resources during the past year. Attending caregiver support groups and connecting with friends, whose families have also been affected by this disease, has  helped me learn about the difficult journey that my family now faces. Most importantly, everything that I learn about the journey of Alzheimer’s disease, I have been able to share with my entire family. Although it is a truly heartbreaking disease, I am so grateful for the work of the Alzheimer’s Association and the difference they are making for so many families, like mine. 

   Please take just one minute to watch this video…

For people suffering with Alzheimer’s disease,

their families, and their caregivers,

each day filled with challenges

can feel very long.

Today I am sharing my heart with you

and raising awareness

of a wonderful way we can all help

in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease

with great LOVE…

On “The Longest Day” (June 21st), people across the globe

will do what they LOVE,

or what their loved ones affected by this disease LOVE to do.

Together, we will raise funds and awareness

for care and support of those affected,

while advancing ALZ research.

We are working toward the first survivor

of Alzheimer’s disease.

Last year, I spent “The Longest Day” in such a poignant, meaningful way. My entire day was devoted to activities that I LOVE. Early in the morning, I took a long, solo walk in nature along our beautiful Prairie. With each step, I knew that I was doing something very important. Next, I spent many hours tending my flower and herb gardens. All the while, my heart was honoring someone so dear to me. I spent the rest of the day downstairs in my little Paper Garden studio making cards filled with LOVE and sending them off to loved ones, far and near.

Although I was intentionally doing what I love most, my day felt very long. It made me think about just how long and difficult each day must feel to someone with Alzheimer’s disease facing so many challenges.

The most important thing that I did that day

was to make a donation to the Alzheimer’s Association!

It felt so good!

This button is a link to donate to ALZ.org

 

 I am already looking forward to

“The Longest Day” 2018.

My husband will take a day off work on Thursday

so that we can participate in this important day together.

We will spend the entire day doing things we LOVE

to honor our loved ones.

However, the most important thing we will do

on “The Longest Day”

is to make our donation to the Alzheimer’s Association.

 

Breaking News! June 21, 2018  

Your Donation today will be matched by a very generous donor!

                                                 Your donation today will help twice as much!

It felt so good to make our donation early this morning! ♥♥

 

We can all make a difference by helping the Alzheimer’s Association in the fight to end this disease. Throughout the past year, I have been quietly fundraising and donating to the Alzheimer’s Association. Now it’s time to raise my voice… and ask for your help, too.

It feels very empowering to make donations to the fight against Alzheimer’s disease. It makes me very hopeful that one day, in my lifetime, we will find a cure and see the first person survive this disease.

The end of Alzheimer’s starts with me! ♥

The reason is LOVE.

With hope,

♡ Dawn

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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…

Intentionally…

Mindfully…

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

 

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Cultivating Patience…

Hi Friends!

The garden always teaches me important life lessons…

and this Spring it has cultivated

a valuable

mindfulness practice,

with help from Mother Nature.

Ever-so-slowly…

Springtime, in the Midwest, seemed to

tiptoe

into my garden

this year

with its usual early bloomers.

The dwarf Irises started the garden party,

followed by Crocuses days later.

The first blossoms always take my breath away!

They were the perfect reminders to look for

tiny blessings

tucked into the corners of each day.

Ever-so-slowly…

The petite Siberian Squill

flourished in spite of

our wild, weather roller coaster ride!

They taught me to stay

strong

during the challenging times.

Ever-so-slowly…

The sunny, yellow Daffodils bounced back

after being flattened by two

wet, heavy snowfalls

in April.

Their strength is

an important reminder

to us all.

We can bounce back after multiple setbacks.

Ever-so-slowly…

The Irises, Bleeding Hearts,

Tulips, and Hostas

endured

the heavy, icy snowfall.

They remind us to look toward

the sunshine

when we need it most!

Our Winter weather began with an extremely challenging

blizzard in November and surprised us

twice with snowstorms in April.

I can’t remember ever watching my garden

bloom in the snow

until last weekend!

This snowstorm

brought our snowfall total to

49.5 inches (126 cm).

Our average Winter snowfall is

36 inches (91cm).

Magnolia petals were tossed about

like confetti

during the latest Spring snowstorm.

Most of the petals held fast to the branches,

reminding us to ‘hold tight’

and weather the storms

together!

Ever-so-slowly…

The trees and perennials soaked up

an abundance of precipitation

for this year’s growing season.

Ever-so-slowly…

The Spring snow melted.

Finally, heavy rains

brought the month of April

 to a very soggy end.

Ever-so-slowly…

I began to document

Spring 2019

in my Garden Journal.

Alas, there were only a few hours

of raking and gardenkeeping

during April.

My busiest day in the garden

so far this year

was April 23rd:

♥ mowed the lawn for the first time this year

♥ hung birdhouse in the Magnolia (in full bloom!)

♥ placed a pair of colorful Wellies and

a vintage watering can filled with Forsythia cuttings

beside the front door

♥ planted a large grapevine basket

with colorful Muscari and Daffodils

for the front porch

(and added a tiny bird’s nest

found in the garden last Autumn)

♥ planted Violas in a pretty, sage-colored pot

to bring a bit of Springtime to the

front porch

 

Ever-so-slowly…

I’m learning the importance of being more flexible…

and just taking things moment-by-moment.

Nature can’t be rushed.

My garden is cultivating a

deep sense of

patience

in my soul.

♥♥♥

I’m so very grateful

for all of the life lessons

my garden

teaches me each and every year .

Springtime anticipation

feels extra-sweet

this year!

♥♥♥

It’s marvelous, magical May!

Take time to enjoy the blossoms each day!

 

Sending sunshine!

♡ Dawn

P.S.  Have you been busy in your garden?

What’s blooming in your neighborhood?