Simple, Quiet Beauty

Hi Friends!

Dark, storm clouds threatened overhead very early on the Summer Solstice as my husband packed up our car. (Meanwhile, I took just a moment to make our online donation to “The Longest Day” fundraiser for the Alzheimer’s Association. It made my heart feel so good to help fund the care, support, and research so desperately needed in the fight to end Alzheimer’s disease.) Moments later, we drove off to spend “The Longest Day” and the next few days doing something we LOVE, while honoring special people we LOVE. It was a perfect way to celebrate our wedding anniversary! The reason was LOVEa whole lot of LOVE!

We set off in search of simple, quiet beauty, a bit of adventure, small town charm, and perhaps some antiquing, too! As we headed south, heavy rains accompanied us throughout our three-hour drive. Rain was also predicted for the next few days. We hoped for the best as we watched the skies.

Our destination was Amish Country in Central Illinois. Over the years, we have enjoyed visiting Amish areas in Indiana. It would be so interesting to learn more about the Amish people living in our home state. We thought you might like to come along…

This beautiful, quiet region is filled with Amish farms, picturesque small towns with brick-lined streets, quaint antique shops, fun places to eat, and the friendliest people ever. The towns of Arcola, Arthur, and Tuscola, just a few miles apart, welcomed us… and the rain stopped just moments after we arrived! 🙂

 

Amish families moved from Pennsylvania and Indiana to Central Illinois, beginning in 1865, in search of more affordable land and wide-open spaces. Today there are more than 5,500 Amish people living in this area surrounded by large corn and soybean fields, stretching as far as the eye can see.

The Amish people are a very close-knit community. They are hardworking farm families, who often run small, creative, home-based businesses. Roadside wooden signs welcome visitors to quilt shops, woodworking shops, herb shops, bakeries, and more in Amish homes. The Amish are very friendly and open to answering questions about their simple lifestyle.

Religion guides all aspects of Amish life. They have chosen to live a life that is separate from the world. The Amish believe in peace and nonviolence and do not pass judgement on outsiders. They don’t fully accept the modern conveniences that we take for granted. By choosing not to use electricity, they are able to avoid many of the temptations that would impact their family lives. The Amish people value simplicity over convenience and comfort.

In this area, typical Amish farms are approximately 80 acres. The average Illinois Amish family has six children. When a young, Amish couple gets married, they are usually gifted with a parcel of land to farm, from one of their fathers.

We frequently traveled the winding, country road between Arcola, through the tiny hamlet of Chesterville, to Arthur. It warmed my heart each time we passed road signs reminding drivers to be cautious of slow-moving buggies. The familiar ‘clip-clop’ of the horse and buggy feels like a gentle reminder to savor life at a slower pace.

Most of the country roads have wide shoulders that serve as buggy lanes. For safety, the Amish people use battery-powered lights on their buggies. We always used caution whenever following a buggy and slowly passed them with care so we didn’t frighten the horse. We also saw many Amish people riding bicycles on warm, Summer days. Although the Amish people don’t own cars, they do accept rides in other people’s vehicles when necessary.

Each Amish farmhouse we passed had a large tank to store gas or diesel fuel to power their generators. They use bottled gas to operate their water heaters, modern stoves, and refrigerators. Gas lanterns and oil lamps light their homes.

Telephones are not permitted in Amish homes. We noticed wooden phone booths at the end of some driveways, near the road, shared by neighbors for emergencies and business. Today some Amish people have cell phones that can also be used outside their homes.

Families play games, build puzzles, do schoolwork, and read together in the evenings. No musical instruments are played in the homes for that would be worldly. As with all farm families, it is an “early to bed, early to rise” lifestyle.

 

In this area, families are “House Amish.” They gather in homes to hold their Sunday church services. There are 22 church districts in the area surrounding Arthur. When Amish families gather together, they speak their first language, a German dialect.

Horse-power is so important on Amish farms. Farmers drive teams of 6-8 horses to farm their rich land. Their tractors have metal wheels without rubber tires. In recent years, available farmland has become both expensive and scarce in Central Illinois. So, many Amish farmers have also taken on a trade.

In the evenings, we noticed Amish buggies hitched in the parking lot of several businesses in towns. After the farm work is done for the day, some Amish people may supplement their income by working in town for a few hours.

In addition to large farm fields, Amish homes also have big vegetable gardens and fruit trees. Beachy’s Bulk Foods sells everything else that a family might need to prepare meals and preserve fruits and vegetables for the Winter season.

As we drove along the country roads, we noticed every clothesline was filled with plain, dark colored pants, shirts, and dresses. Amish women work hard using wringer washers to do their laundry.

Our rainy Spring in Illinois has been very welcome to our farmers. Instead of “Knee-high by the Fourth of July,” the cornstalks were already shoulder-high by the third week of June.

It was fascinating to learn about Amish wedding traditions. November is the most popular month for Amish weddings. During Spring, Summer, and Fall there is too much work and little time for wedding celebrations. Tuesdays and Thursdays are the the usual days for Amish weddings, since they are the least busy days during their week. An Amish wedding takes place in the bride’s home with a four-hour ceremony. There are no rings, flowers, photos, caterers, or kisses. Typically, more than two hundred guests are invited to celebrate the happy couple!

 

“Amish people are not backwards, nor ‘stuck in the past.’

They are constantly adjusting to the pressures of the world

and striving to maintain their belief and culture.”

“It is a very delicate balance between tradition and change”.

~ National Committee for Amish Religious Freedom

We enjoyed every moment of our visit to Amish Country. I have much more to share in future posts, including several ‘hidden gems’ in the area. One of our most cherished memories is the kindness of everyone we met along the way.

The motto of the town of Arthur (population 2,200) is “You are a stranger only once.” There is so much to discover in this patchwork quilt of quiet, simple beauty and we relish the chance to learn more. We are already planning our next visit!

Although we kept our rain gear close at hand, we felt so fortunate to have dry weather for our adventures. While we were away, my garden soaked up three more inches of rain. It was a delight to find the ‘Annabelle’ Hydrangeas in full bloom when we arrived home!

I enjoyed slower-paced days the following week

without turning my computer on! 🙂

Where do you find simple, quiet beauty?

Happy Independence Day to all of our American friends

as we celebrate family, friends, and freedom!

 

Make each day sparkle!

♡ Dawn

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Unexpected Joys!

Hi Friends!

The past few weeks, my heart has been filled with sweet memories of the beginnings of this quiet, little blog and some of the unexpected joys that it has brought into my life. It’s the perfect time to share the story of how Petals.Paper.SimpleThymes came to be! Enjoy a cup of tea as we reminisce and savor some photos from the blog archives…

Early in my ‘Renaissance’ (the ‘R’ word that I use for my Retirement), it was such a sweet treat to begin each day with an hour of visiting blogs. This morning ritual took me to faraway places and creative spaces, and introduced me to the most interesting people. As I got to know each blogger, it was always fun to join in the conversation by leaving a comment on each blog I visited. As time passed, I noticed that many of my favorite blogs were using WordPress as a blogging platform. Hmmmm… interesting!

One of my favorite, early morning stops was always Susan Branch’s blog. Susan has long been my favorite author and artist. The chance to soak up a bit of her inspiration and creativity was a perfect way to begin my days. The chance to leave Susan a comment and wait for her to reply was over-the-moon exciting. I had no idea how Susan wrote a blog, but it felt positively magical to me!

Just a few months later, I read that our wonderful public library was offering a WordPress workshop. 🙂 Always curious, I decided to find out just how this blog magic worked! Perhaps I could just create a private blog using WordPress. No one could see it but me! So, I chose a simple, old-fashioned theme (just like me). It reminded me of a scrapbook page, with its ribbon banner holding a title. The tiny flowers in the header reminded me of paper cuts that might embellish one of my handmade cards. All of the ‘working bits’ were tucked neatly away in a slide-out sidebar. Hmmmm… fascinating!

When I showed my sweet husband all of the magical things I had learned at the workshop, he wondered aloud what I might write about if I had a blog. Hmmmm… just out of curiosity, perhaps I could write a pretend post! No one would see it.

A lifelong letter writer, my very favorite things to write were always long letters to friends. So, I just sat down and wrote a letter to a friend and within a few hours I figured out how to insert the photos. Later that week, I met with the technology director at our library one evening. Cher looked over my pretend post and said it was ready to publish. Publish? I was truly just learning out of curiosity!

“I’m kind of shy. I could never have my own blog, Cher.”

“Let’s just click ‘Publish’ together…

and see what happens,” she said.

So, (very bravely) we did.

I arrived home five minutes later

only to discover that someone in New Zealand was reading my story!

At that very moment, I knew that blogging was truly magical.

An unexpected joy!

When I showed my husband, he suggested that we go to a nearby Quilt Show that weekend so that I could write about it on the blog. He wanted to go to a Quilt Show?? (*wink*) Soon, we began planning weekend ‘Blog Dates.” 🙂 An unexpected joy!

Still feeling shy, I decided not to tell my friends and family about the blog. I only confided in my dear friend, Cathy, who was enduring a very brave battle with ALS. I knew that the iPad attached to Cathy’s wheelchair allowed her to explore and experience the simple joys of life. Cathy began reading my posts and commented that they “felt like a walk in the park with a friend.” Happy tears! I discovered that a quiet, little blog could make a difference in someone’s day. An unexpected joy!

What fun it would be that very first summer as a blogger! I planned to stroll around my garden taking photos of my cottage perennial and herb beds. Oops! Suddenly, our quiet street was under construction and heavy, earth-moving equipment began digging up the entire street. Each night, they parked all of the equipment in front of our house. For many weeks, I would brave the dust to run out and take a quick photo in the early morning or late evening light. That summer, I learned the importance of close-up photography. An unexpected joy!

Spring Anenomes dance in the late May breeze.

Petals.Paper.SimpleThymes continually inspires me to keep learning! Over the years, out of curiosity, I attended many more workshops at our amazing library. I wanted to learn about basic photo editing, personal branding, intellectual property, watermarking my photos, close-up photography, and writing memoir. At the library, I connected with others interested in blogging. Webinars introduced me to SEO and taught me to be intentional as I created the ‘look’ and ‘feel’ of this little blog. There is still so much to learn! Currently, I am having fun exploring flat lay photography. Unexpected joys!

Petals.Paper.SimpleThymes often challenges me to be very brave! Now I find great joy in sharing personal stories celebrating the small moments that make life oh-so sweet. Sharing my ‘One Little Word’ each year keeps me accountable as I grow in so many new ways. Publishing photos of my handmade cards and hand-lettered journal pages was scary at first. I’m so grateful for all of the kindness and encouragement here. Unexpected joys!

Petals.Paper.SimpleThymes has truly enriched my life! From the very beginning, blogging has felt just like being pen pals with the world. I am genuinely humbled that people from across the globe stop here to read my quiet stories. It has been such a blessing to meet so many delightful kindred spirits and new friends who gather here and join in our conversation. The seeds of many strong friendships have grown here over the years! It feels magical each time I meet a friend in person that I have known through blogging. I look forward to nurturing our friendships in the years to come! Unexpected joys!

A ‘heartstrings’ moment of serendipity happened two years ago at a Tea Party and booksigning with Susan Branch. (Remember that Susan was my inspiration as I tiptoed into the world of blogging. Hope you will take time to visit her blog. It’s truly enchanting!) This was the third time Susan and I had met and we always had something fun to talk about together. We had another lovely chance to talk together before Tea was served. Afterwards, a long line of Girlfriends chatted together, making new friends as we excitedly waited for Susan to sign our books.

I was absolutely stunned when Susan completely surprised me! Her kind words about Petals.Paper.SimpleThymes truly touched my heart. She spoke of this delightful gathering place, a lovely community of kindred spirits, and told me that she quietly visits my blog to read my stories.

Oh, my goodness!! Be still my heart! 

A complete circle of love and kindness… and a most unexpected joy!

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

This month Petals.Paper.SimpleThymes

is celebrating its fourth birthday!

I can hardly wait to see what unexpected joys

it will bring in the coming years!

Thank you, dear friends,

for being a very special part of our celebration!! ♥ ♥

 

Scatter joy each day!

♡ Dawn

P.S.  I know that two of our dear blog friends are thinking about beginning blogs of their own. Let’s encourage them! One never knows what unexpected joys are waiting just around the corner! Hope you will share the magic of blogging in your comments! Inspiration is contagious…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Still Growing…

Hi Friends!

A special welcome to everyone visiting for the Papertrey Ink February Blog Hop!

Our thick blanket of snow has finally melted and throughout the week heavy rains watered my perennial and herb gardens.. Although the garden is sleeping, the gardener is still growing! I’ve spent so many happy hours in my little Paper Garden studio downstairs during February…. growing as a cardmaker.

Papertrey Ink, one of my favorite stamp companies, is celebrating their 11th Anniversary this month. There were several interesting cardmaking Challenges. Playing along was the perfect way to step out of my comfort zone, try new techniques, and learn new skills. Part of the fun was bravely linking photos of my cards to the Papertrey Ink blog and sharing them with the stamp designers and lots of other cardmakers. Now it’s time to share a few peeks here, too!

For the ‘Anniversary Sketch Challenge,’ I was inspired by designer Dawn McVey’s sketch and stamps that she designed. I know that she appreciated the sunshine sent her way! ♥

 

The ‘Transformation Challenge’ was another opportunity to grow! The card on the LEFT is one that I created for a dear friend. Although she liked it, I knew that I could improve on it. The card on the RIGHT feels so much cozier. I embossed a soft quilt, using a die and an embossing pad. Then I sponged ink onto a doily to create a soft, textured rug. I fluffed up the pillow to add dimension and die cut the sentiment. I also stamped a cheerier ‘headline’ on the newspaper. Now the card has a bit of hygge and I’m much happier with the way it turned out! ♥

 

My card for the ‘Floral Challenge’ was inspired by designer Lexi Daley. I embossed a stitched rectangle on the white cardstock layer to ground the floral image. It really helped pull the stamped, die cut flowers and gold embossed sentiment together. ♥

 

For the ‘Retirement Challenge’ we had to use a retiring stamp set to create a card. I chose the ‘Together’ stamp set and created a Valentine for my husband. I love the sentiments in this set and have used them in so many different ways in the past years. It’s a perennial favorite… and I will continue using these sweet sentiment stamps for years to come! ♥

 

The ‘Use Only Dies Challenge’ was one of my favorites! I love die cutting borders, images, and sentiments for cards. I blended some Distress Inks for the background and then used only dies to create this card. It was great fun to make a card without any stamping! ♥

 

For the ‘Color Challenge,’ we had to choose a favorite color palette. I was inspired by designer Heather Nichols to create a card filled with rustic charm on Kraft cardstock. To make the floral images show against the simple Kraft background, I stamped a first layer with white pigment ink and then stamped the second layer with each color. Next I embossed a stitched frame to highlight the sentiment and dusted the edges with ink to add a vintage feel. The garden in bloom highlights this heartfelt sentiment. I stamped for almost three hours to create this card. It was definitely a growing experience! I think it’s my favorite card for February! It holds a special place in my heart, just like the friend who received it. ♥

 

For the ‘Stripes Challenge.’ I used a soft, striped patterned paper for the background. The soft floral images and layered sentiment added a a bit of texture. This card came together very easily. I’m already thinking of several ways to improve it. It was such fun to learn and grow while completing each Challenge! ♥

 

Several members of the Papertrey Ink Design Team participated in the Release Party Live on February 15th. What a treat to gather together as a papercrafting community in celebration!  It was fascinating to watch as these talented designers, who inspire me to create, shared stories of their own creative processes.  My self-confidence as a cardmaker grew as I listened. They talked about how the hardest part of the creative process is often getting started. They talked about spending several hours to create a special card. They talked about making several versions of a card before their final design was ready. From now on, I will carry their words in my heart while I am busy creating in my little studio. I feel so grateful to be a part of the Papertrey Ink community of papercrafters, soaking up inspiration as I learn and grow!

I have already reserved the weekend of August 25th-26th on my calendar for the 2018 Papertrey Ink ‘Stamp-A-Faire.’ It will be another virtual gathering of creative cardmakers across the globe. This year’s theme will be a Garden Party. 🙂 An entire weekend filled with Challenges will most definitely keep me growing! I have such warm memories of participating in ‘Stamp-A-Faire’ in 2015, 2016, and 2017.

For today’s Papertrey Ink February Blog Hop, we were challenged to create a card inspired by this photo:

What a lovely breath of Springtime! I was inspired by the round metal trays in the centerpiece, the chartreuse grass, the pastel eggs, the sunny feeling, and of course, the Spring flowers. ♥     (Photo Credit: The Goodwill Gal)

 

 

Last night, I worked downstairs in my little studio to create this card capturing the cheery Springtime feel inspired by the photo (above)….

I created my own version of the metal tray holding a garden of early Spring delights, pastel blossoms, and a bright, sunny background. I can’t wait to mail it off to a sweet friend! ♥

Papertrey Ink supplies:

Stamps:  Forest Floor: Spring, Keep It Simple: Friendship

Ink:  Sweet Blush, Lilac Grace, Simply Chartreuse, Ripe Avocado

Paper:  Harvest Gold cardstock, Smokey Shadow cardstock, Bitty Big: Harvest Gold, Stamper’s Select White cardstock

Dies:  Forest Floor: Spring, Shape Shifters: Circle 1, To the Point Edgers 2

Other:  Memento Tuxedo Black ink

♥♥♥

 

February has been a very busy, creative month filled with the seeds of inspiration, wonderful supplies, interesting Challenges from Papertrey Ink, and lots of happy mail for family and friends.  I’m still growing… and enjoying every moment! 🙂

Thanks so much for stopping to visit today!

 

 

Paper hugs, from the heart!

♡ Dawn

 

 

 

 

 

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Our True Colors…

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A patriotic display at the 3 French Hens French Country Market, along the banks of the historic Illinois & Michigan Shipping Canal.

Hi Friends,

We are celebrating Memorial Day weekend across our country… and our colors are showing! Americans always think of this weekend as the unofficial start of summer. Our hot, humid, rainy days in the Midwest suddenly do feel like summertime!

The delicate blossoms of Cranesbill Geranium, Lilies of the Valley, Daisies, Allium, and Spirea add color to the garden in mid to late May.

The delicate blossoms of Cranesbill Geranium, Lily of the Valley, Daisies, Allium, and Spirea add color to the garden in mid to late May.

Our perennial and herb gardens are flourishing with all of our recent rains. This week, our Friendship Garden bed is just beginning to show its lovely Springtime colors as pale, pink Peonies, light purple Iris, and deep purple Siberian Iris bloom in abundance. Clematis vines fill the arbor with fuchsia and purple blossoms. Springtime color is everywhere!

MemorialDay

Yesterday I gathered Peony, Daisy,  Anemone, and Ajuga blossoms to fill a festive vase. The small, red, silk poppy was made by veterans in our veterans’ hospitals.

In honor of Memorial Day, our true colors are the most important ones on display everywhere. Our flag on the front porch is blowing in the warm, May breezes. Pots of geraniums are all abloom with tiny flags, too.  Small red, white, and blue bunting hangs across the archway in our dining room. A white, stoneware pitcher is filled with a collection of American flags.

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Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery, in Elwood, Illinois.

Last week, when I drove into the grocery store parking lot, I noticed an elderly man, sitting quietly near the door. He proudly wore his VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) uniform and held a big bunch of red, silk poppies. As shoppers exited, he greeted them and collected donations for our veterans. Of course, I couldn’t wait. With my donation in hand, I walked right over to thank him for his service, made my donation, and accepted the red, silk poppy with so much gratitude. When I asked where he served, he named several battlefields in Korea. I told him that my dad also served in Korea, and that I recognized some of the same battlefields from my dad’s stories and carefully documented Army scrapbook. He kindly asked me to thank my dad for his service, too… and I promised that I would. Later, as I packed all of the ingredients for our Memorial Day celebration into my car, I knew that the most important thing I brought home that day was the small, red, silk poppy.

The simple tradition of wearing a silk poppy pinned to the lapel dates back to 1918. Inspired by the poem “In Flanders Fields,” by Canadian poet John McCree, the red poppy is a symbol of remembrance for all of the men and women who gave their lives in service to our country. We show our true colors when we observe this special ritual over Memorial Day weekend.

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During visits to Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery, prayers for peace and quiet gratitude, for the sacrifices made by these men and women whose lives were lost in service to our country, always bring tears to my eyes.

One of the most important ways that we can show our true colors is to help our children, grandchildren, and students understand the significance of Memorial Day. Hopefully, during their lifetimes, a day will come when we no longer have to send Americans into harm’s way. When my sweet neighbor, Karla, comes to visit, she always notices the flag that hangs on our front porch from May through November. Sometimes we talk together about why we display our flag and what it means. Now that she is seven years old, Karla is just beginning to understand our true colors.

On Memorial Day, the flag is raised quickly to the top of the staff, then slowly lowered to the half-staff position, to remember the men and women who gave their lives in service to our country.  At noon, the flag is raised to full-staff for the remainder of Memorial Day. This ritual of remembrance helps remind us not to let their sacrifices be in vain and calls upon us all to continue to work for liberty and justice for all.

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The Middle East Conflicts Wall Memorial, in Marseilles, Illinois, is the first memorial of its kind, honoring our fallen by name, while the conflict is still going on. Since 1979, every year right after Memorial Day, the names of servicemen and women who have sacrificed their lives over the past year are etched into the granite of the Wall.

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… and so many other brave men and women who made the the ultimate sacrifice.

Remembering those who gave their lives in the Middle East.

Remembering those servicemen and women who gave their lives in the Middle East.

We all share the hope that no more names will be etched on The Middle East Conflicts Wall Memorial in the years to come…

Bundles of letters sent home during World War II

A vendor at an antique fair told us recently how she found this collection of letters written during World War II. These bundles of letters document the lives of men and women in service to our country. It would be so interesting to read the stories these letters hold.

In 2000, Congress passed the National Moment of Remembrance Act, asking Americans to stop and remember, at 3:00pm on Memorial Day.  As we pause to remember, it’s so important to remember the families of those who made the ultimate sacrifice. While volunteering to help our military families, I was fortunate to hear the stories of mothers, wives, and sisters whose loved ones are currently serving in the Marines. Today we are fortunate to have email and Skype to keep families close during military deployment. While volunteering with Operation Write Home, I learned just how important it is for families at home to receive a letter or card from their hero, written by hand from the heart. My mom still treasures the letters that she received from my dad while he was serving in Korea. Their cherished bundle of letters, still tied with a ribbon, is such a tangible reminder of the sacrifice that so many families make in service to our country. Military families continue to experience the ultimate sacrifice, as precious lives are lost or changed forever. Our military families show their true colors every day!

 

How will you celebrate Memorial Day this year?

Do you have any special Memorial Day traditions?

This Memorial Day we are adding an extra-special event to our Memorial Day weekend. My parents are here visiting from Arizona. Today we are having a very special family gathering to celebrate my parents’ 64th wedding anniversary!! ♡ What a blessing to celebrate this special day with both of them!! We will share their memories of their wedding day, planned while my dad was away serving in the Army. Luckily, Dad was granted a very short leave and arrived home on the day before his wedding! He moved his new bride across the country, to live near the military base. Before long, my mom had to carry on bravely at home, as her new husband shipped off to serve our country in war. Such a heartwarming story of true colors and true love! ♡♡

Cherish the day!

♡Dawn

 

Timeless Treasures

TimelessTreasures

Hi Friends!

Two of my favorite timeless treasures have always been old houses and antique quilts.

The chance to admire both, in a peaceful, charming setting

is always a wonderful treat for me!

A few weeks ago, I enjoyed a special visit to the

9th Annual “All Around the House” Quilt Show,

at Fischer Farm. 

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The main farmhouse was built by the Fischer family in the 1920s. Over the years, it has been lovingly restored,

telling the story of this hardworking, Midwestern farm family.

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The original 1838 homestead was built when the Fischer family immigrated from Germany.

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The Milk Barn and other preserved buildings offer a glimpse of farm life between 1838 and 1930.

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For one glorious weekend each Spring,

Fischer Farm invites quilters and quilt lovers to gather here.

Over 100 quilts were carefully hung on all of the walls throughout the farmhouse.

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Some of the quilts are original to the Fischer family.

Many more have been shared by private collectors and local quilters for display during this show. 

Several of the quilts were for sale during the show.

(I would love to give credit to each of these quiltmakers.

Please let me know if you can help identify any of the talented people who made these quilts!)

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It was so delightful to slowly walk through the farmhouse admiring all of the

beautifully preserved woodwork, floors, and furniture.

Admiring the antique quilts was truly the ‘icing on the cake!’

(I wished that I could reach out and touch each quilt,

but of course, these treasures can only be touched by their owners.)

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White-gloved volunteers shared a fascinating ‘bed turning’ presentation.

As they carefully turned back each layer of quilts on the antique bed,

they paused to tell the story of each quilt.

It was so interesting to see how the styles, patterns, and colors changed over the years.

Most important of all, each quilt held a story!

This Embroidered Baskets quilt belonged to Esther Fischer (1904-1999), who grew up in this bedroom.

She became a teacher and taught at the nearby, one-room Fischer Schoolhouse.

Esther lived in this farmhouse until she moved in 1986.

There were tears in my eyes as I heard the story of her special quilt.

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The soft fabrics, muted colors, and delicate stitches of antique quilts always warm my heart.

Oh, the family stories, hopes, and dreams that have been thoughtfully stitched into each quilt!

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Although I am not a quilter, I have always had a passion for quilts.

As I was growing up, I watched my mother lovingly create a beautiful quilt, block by block.

I will always remember all of the love that was handstitched into her beautiful sampler quilt.

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I have enjoyed visiting quilt auctions, quilt shows, and quilt shops for so many years.

A small collection of Amish and vintage quilts adds such warmth to our home. Each one holds a wonderful story of how it came to be part of our home.  I often think of the countless hours the quiltmakers worked designing, cutting, piecing, and quilting each treasured work of art. “Grandmother’s Flower Garden” will always be my favorite traditional quilt pattern!

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As I admired the timeless beauty of each quilt,

I had the chance to talk with several of the talented quilters.

They were all so welcoming,

while sharing their passion for quilting and teaching me more about antique quilts.

Although I explained that I am not a quilter, just a quilt-lover,

they invited me

to come to their twice-weekly gathering of quilters.

At that moment, I discovered what makes quilts such timeless treasures ~

it is the quilters themselves,

and the love that they stitch into their works of art!

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As I left the farmhouse, I followed the path to the old barn,

filled with antique quilts, vintage linens, fat quarters, and quilting books for sale.

All of the friendly quilters continued to share more

about their beloved art.

To thank each of the quilters for their kindness,

I shared the happy news

that fabrics designed by Susan Branch are now available online.

Quilters will absolutely love Susan’s charming, hand painted designs!

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Although I didn’t purchase any quilts or fabrics at the quilt show,

my heart was filled with wonderful inspiration!

I soaked up lovely color combinations and designs to bring into my papercrafting studio,

where I love making little paper-pieced ‘quilts’ on my handmade cards.

What an inspiring morning it was!

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Ever since the quilt show, I have been thinking about how

writing a blog is a tiny bit like making a quilt.

Bloggers create a handmade

patchwork of stories,

stitched with the warm comments of their readers,

pieced together from all parts of the world,

 with patches of

wisdom, memories, and joy.

These delicate threads hold us all together

through good times and bad times,

sharing the present and remembering the past,

always comforted with love.

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Petals.Paper.SimpleThymes is two years old today!!

I’m ‘sew’ grateful

for all of the warm friendships

that our little blog has stitched together.

 Each of you

helps to piece together our stories,

with warmth and love…

and tied with heartstrings!

♡♡

Thank you so much for stopping to visit today.

Warmest hugs!

♡Dawn

P.S.  One of my very first blog posts was about the 2014  “All Around the House” Quilt Show at Fischer Farm. ♥ Do you have a favorite post or type of story that you really enjoy? ♥ I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Making Friends…

Mary Engelbreit has captured my feelings perfectly today!

 

Hi Friends!

Rabbit! Rabbit! Sending an abundance of good wishes as November begins! It’s the perfect time to celebrate all of the friends that gather here at our little blog! Some are dear friends that live nearby, while others are dear friends that live in other parts of the U.S., and in other parts of the world. Some are brand new friends that have already touched my heart in so many ways. We are kindred spirits, one and all, and that is a wonderful thing to celebrate!

{via Pinterest}

The comments you leave each time you come to visit are such lovely gifts! Sharing our stories, encouraging one another, learning new things together, and sharing smiles makes it such fun to check in each day. I hope you can feel the joy of gathering here with friends, whether you are near or far. Our connections keep our friendships growing!

Today our little blog is six months old! Our friendships have grown through three seasons in the garden. Time flies so quickly, but spending time in the garden always seems to slow time down to a most enjoyable pace. Gardening always helps me focus on the little things ~  often the most important things in life! From our front porch swing and rocking chair, I’ve been watching our Magnolia tree. It’s easy to see how long we have been gathering together here at Petals.Paper.Simple Thymes…

DSCN2493

Early Spring

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Late Spring

June

Early Summer

Labor Day Weekend

Late Summer

Late October

Autumn

Our friendships continue to grow and blossom here!

Thank you all for taking the time to visit

and sharing your thoughts, too!

YOU make our little blog such a happy place to gather. 

♡♡♡♡

So, of course, I had to tell you in my favorite way…

with a little card ~ made just for you!

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One of the joys of making cards is thinking about the special recipient the whole time that I am making their card. It feels almost like a little visit. As I made this card last night, I was thinking of ALL of the friends, old and new, who visit our blog.

For our papercrafting friends: First I embossed SU ‘Crumb Cake’ CS with the Embossalicious ‘Florals’ EF, and distressed the edges with Distress ‘Tea Dye’ ink. Next I added a Wilton doily, and added the sentiment using Wplus9 ‘Hand Lettered Thanks’  dies and stamps. Then I embellished the focal point, using the SU Sizzlits ‘Little Leaves,’ the CTMH sentiment ‘Kindred Spirits,’ a CTMH corrugated star, button, and DMC floss. The paper roses were made from vintage pages of a German book. A butterfly from a SU punch was the finishing touch.

It’s amazing that kindred spirits gather here from so many continents. We wish our friends in the Northern Hemisphere a wonderful Autumn day, while we wish our friends in the Southern Hemisphere a lovely Spring day. Although many friends visit quietly, I can see all of the countries where they live each time I peek at the statistics for our blog. It always thrills me and it humbles me. I am so happy that we have somehow found one another, in this great, big, wonderful world! ♡

 

Heartfelt thanks for being here…

and making our blog so much fun!

 

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Happy November days!

♡ Dawn

So ‘Glad’ You’re Here!

Gladiolus along the white picket fence welcome sunny August days!

Gladiolus along the white picket fence welcome sunny August days!

 

 

Hi Friends!

“Rabbit! Rabbit!” According to British superstition, you should say some variation of these words on the first day of each month. You must say them out loud upon waking up or say them to the first person you meet that day!  Saying this phrase will ensure good luck throughout the whole month. Do you practice this superstition? As a child, I remember hearing this phrase on WGN radio, at breakfast time, on the first morning of each month. I’ve always remembered this happy, little phrase because it made me smile! Try it… you can’t help but start the month on a happy note!  Hope our UK friends can share their memories of this cheery superstition…

So glad that you are here! We’re celebrating the small moments that make each day special!  Today, our blog Petals.Paper.Simple Thymes is exactly three months old! You, dear friends, are a very big part of this small celebration! ♡ I always say “our blog,” since it certainly wouldn’t be as much fun without you here!

Celebrating our first three months! Ruffledblog.com {via Pinterest}

 

As sunshine and showers have nurtured our garden and helped it to flourish over the past three months, your visits and thoughtful comments have helped our quiet, little blog grow steadily, as well.  You are the sunshine and showers that help us grow and flourish here at Petals.Paper.Simple Thymes! I must send so much gratitude out to everyone who has stopped by  for a visit during these busy Summer days!

I’ve really grown over the past three months, too! Of course, I’m still learning how to use all of the WordPress tools and features. It’s always so exciting to discover a new skill on my own! I’ve been so fortunate to connect with a wonderful group of brand new bloggers at our public library. Our monthly meetings are filled with inspiration and encouragement, as we each grow in new ways!

While we are celebrating, we should take a little tour of our blog! To preserve the simple, old-fashioned feeling here, some of the special features are hidden from sight. Have you discovered our ‘slide-out’ sidebar? Just click on the dark stripe on the left side. On the sidebar, you can subscribe to our blog via email. It’s easy to search for your favorite topics. All of the posts are archived here. Using the Tag Cloud is another way to find a post that may interest you. Do check the sidebar often, as new features are always being added as our blog grows!

But much more important than learning how a blog works, I’m discovering the absolute joy that blogging brings me Sharing and connecting with old friends and new friends is what makes blogging so meaningful to me. I’ve discovered that any opportunity to stay in touch with old friends during our busy lives is a wonderful thing. My heart sings when I think of all of the amazing new friends I’m making through our little blog! People from many walks of life, throughout the world, gather here and share their thoughts with all of us. I’ve learned so much from  their comments, as we have watched our friendships grow and flourish.  What could be sweeter than discovering kindred spirits, both near and far?

 

Anne of Green Gables (by L.M. Montgomery) says best, what I’m feeling in my heart today…

 

“Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think.

 

It’s splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world.” 

 

Anne, you were so right… and I am so grateful!

 

Our visitors have come from Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, and all over North America.  Friends, new and old, have shared the stories of their quilts, homes, gardens, travels, families, and memories of simpler times with all of us. Readers have recommended many interesting book titles along the way. So many lovely Girlfriends have dropped by from Susan Branch’s blog to visit. Many lovely travelers and dreamers have visited from Anita’s blog. Several papercrafters have visited us, too. (I promise to share card making adventures very soon! It’s just so hard during the Summertime, when one passion takes you outside to dig in the dirt, while another other passion must wait for quiet time inside!) My heart overflows with gratitude for everyone who has come to visit!

 

So 'glad' you are here today!

So ‘glad’ you are here today!

 

Wishing you  sunny August days!

Make special memories!

♡ Dawn

P.S.  If you have any suggestions for future posts, be sure to let me know!