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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Sending Love…

Hi Friends!

Change is in the air. Can you feel it, too?

On the first weekend of October,

I always look forward to slipping off my gardening gloves

and heading downstairs to my little Paper Garden studio.

It’s time to celebrate… and get inky!

Although I worked alone in my craft studio on Saturday, it felt heartwarming to know that paper crafters across the globe were also experimenting, growing, and having fun in their creative spaces! It was a treat to chat with a dear friend as she worked in her craft loft. Cardmakers just love to discuss very important things… like ink, paper, stamps, dies, stencils, and all the tools we use. 😉

My little papercrafting studio is not fancy at all, but everything in my creative space inspires me! Rustic, antique boxes hold my supplies and meaningful artwork decorates the walls. Dried flowers and herbs from my cottage perennial gardens hang from all the ceiling rafters. It truly is my Paper Garden!

Oldies were playing on the radio on Saturday morning as I happily selected stamps, dies, paper, and ink. I was excited to have a whole day devoted to this heartwarming hobby! To celebrate World Cardmaking Day, I decided to create with favorite supplies from The Greetery.

The Greetery released their first collection in April 2019. This new company already has a large following of devoted papercrafters! We have been enjoying Betsy’s designs for many years. So very proud of her! ♥

I love everything about this new, family business owned by designer, Betsy Veldman. All of the products are made in the U.S.A. Betsy’s philosophy at The Greetery ~ Where Making and Giving Meet truly mirrors my own heart! Betsy says, “What better way to provide meaning and purpose for our creative endeavors than to be able to bless others through handmade cards and gifts!”

Our orders from The Greetery always arrive quickly, wrapped as gifts. Several of Betsy’s gorgeous, layered stamp designs are created from her own watercolor paintings. Multi-layered stamping allows us to create a watercolored look on our cards, tags, and gifts.

At The Greetery, Betsy thoughtfully designs a new collection every other month. It’s fun to choose unique stamps, dies, and stencils that are ‘just my style.’ I love carving out a bit of time to experiment with these supplies and savor the time spent creating special cards for loved ones. This feels very comforting and nurturing… a bit of an oasis the fast-paced papercrafting industry where new supplies are typically released every month!

I’ve been having great fun experimenting with Distress Oxide inks and favorite stamps from The Greetery’s “Get Cozy, Get Crafty” collection. Aren’t these the perfect stamps for my little Paper Garden? It’s beginning to feel like Autumn in the studio already!

Just playing with sprigs of bittersweet, eucalyptus, and wheat to fill vintage bottles in the Paper Garden!

It’s so lovely that the design elements from all of The Greetery collections work just beautifully together. Betsy’s videos always offer helpful, creative tips for using her stamps, stencils, and dies. She has a very talented Inspiration Team who share unique ways to use all of The Greetery’s stamps, stencils, and dies. If you are curious to see more from The Greetery, take a peek at their inspiring ‘Lookbooks.’

During this extra-busy season in my life,

I felt so blessed to have a whole day devoted to creativity! ♥

‘Bottled Up’ and ‘Budding Beauties: Autumn’  stamps/dies from The Greetery

 

‘Just Mason Around’ and ‘Budding Beauties: Autumn’ stamps/dies from The Greetery ♥ ‘Words to Live By: Gratitude’ stamps/dies (designed by Betsy Veldman) for Papertrey Ink

 

‘Just Mason Around,’ ‘Lemon Blossom,’ and ‘Simple Things’ stamps/dies from The Greetery

 

‘Budding Beauties: Autumn’ stamps/dies, ‘Halfsies Oval’ die, and ‘Knit Wits’ stencil from The Greetery

 

‘Simple Things’ stamp/die from The Greetery ♥ ‘Penned Elegance’ and ‘Scallop Stackers: Small’ die from Papertrey Ink

As World Cardmaking Day came to an end, I couldn’t resist a bit of stamped watercoloring using Art Impressions Watercolor stamps. They are among my very favorite cardmaking supplies! Artist Bonnie Krebs designs tiny, natural elements, garden containers, arbors, birdbaths, fences, gates, buildings, cobblestones, and so much more. I met Bonnie a few years ago at a stamping event in Arizona and spent hours watching her create the most wonderful, little, watercolored vignettes. There were tears in my eyes as I watched Bonnie transform a tiny piece of watercolor paper into a work of art! Now I adore stamping blossoms and foliage to fill containers and create little gardens of my very own! 🙂 So relaxing… and the possibilities are endless! ♥  (Take a peek at the You Tube ‘Watercolor Wednesdays’ tutorials!)

Whenever I have a chance to create on-the-go, I always fill my backpack with Art Impressions Watercolor stamps, tiny acrylic blocks, watercolor markers, paintbrushes, and lots of watercolor paper. I have created tiny works of ‘heart’ in so many different places. 🙂 Each time I travel, these tiny supplies always have a special place in my carry-on!

I used watercolor stamps from Art Impressions Watercolor to create the vintage watering can, bookmark, and the watercolor wreath. (below)

World Cardmaking Day helps us to celebrate this wonderful hobby!

I love the chance to experiment and grow in exciting new ways.

I’m so very grateful for all of the wonderful friends

this pastime has brought into my life.

However… my very favorite part of being a cardmaker happens today

as I write heartfelt notes in each card,

add a pretty postage stamp,

and send them off to brighten someone’s day!

It’s all about sending love

Paper hugs,

♡ Dawn

P.S.  Do you still enjoy sending cards? What types of cards do you send most often?

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A Thankful Heart

Hi Friends! 

A special welcome to everyone joining us for the Papertrey Ink November Blog Hop Challenge! Hop over to Nichole’s blog if you would like to join in the fun!

November is flying by! Can you feel it, too?  It always takes me more than one day to count my blessings. The entire month has been filled with giving thanks every single day. Small moments that add comfort and joy to each day have made my thankful heart overflow with gratitude…

These small moments are always there. We just have to be still and mindful to recognize and appreciate them. Cultivating gratitude helps me to keep my worries in perspective, cope with life’s challenges, and brings joy to every day!

Early on November 1st, we headed west to spend time with my parents in Arizona. We cherish each chance to celebrate their birthdays together. I hold dear each day spent helping out, enjoying old family stories, and making sweet memories together. My parents continue to be our best teachers, constantly showing us how to live a good life and nourish a beautiful, loving marriage.

My mom is the charming soul who taught me all about gardening so long ago. It’s always a delight to take walks together through the desert neighborhood where she has been gardening for the past 23 years.  Last week, we worked together to trim her Bird of Paradise shrub and deadhead the Desert Marigolds.  The bright orange berries on her Pyracantha shrub are visited daily by a family of quail just waiting for the berries to turn crimson and sweet. One day a roadrunner joined us in my mom’s garden. Autumn in the desert has been extra special this year for so many reasons!

Together we drove through the nearby Tonto National Forest, past breathtaking mountains, to visit lovely Saguaro Lake. My family has so many wonderful memories of hiking along the lake together over the past two decades. Seeing mighty Saguaros growing along the sparkling water always amazes me!

While heading back to the Midwest,  I admired the majestic, snow capped mountains of New Mexico and the earthy, patchwork quilt of the heartland. The natural beauty of our country always fills me with hope for this land that I love.

I thought about the excited (but nervous) three young men and four young women that I met at our boarding gate just hours before. They talked about how excited they were to shovel snow for the first time. (I promised them a lot of snow during their two months in Illinois!) I wanted to be among the first to thank these young Americans for their service, as they headed off to Navy boot camp at Great Lakes Naval Station.  These young men and women and their families will sacrifice so much for all of us. We owe them our deepest gratitude.

It feels wonderful to be back home again in our cozy Midwest home just in time for the holidays! The seasons changed and snowflakes fell upon my garden while we were away. So, I happily spent a few quiet moments in the garden gathering dried flowers and seed heads to fill an antique wooden box on our front porch. These garden gatherings are sweet reminders of those glorious Summer days spent in my perennial and herb gardens. Yesterday I raked so many leaves!  It was a quiet, poignant time to reflect on all of the changes of the past year.

Throughout the year, my heart is filled with the blessings of two passions that help me blossom and grow in new ways. While my perennial and herb gardens sleep through the Winter, there will now be much more time in my little Paper Garden studio downstairs.

Kindness has always been one of my love languages. Creating handmade cards to share with family and friends truly warms my heart. I find the most wonderful stamps, dies, inks, and paper at Papertrey Ink.  (So grateful for the exciting, new supplies that arrived in my mailbox this week! 🙂 ) The talented Design Team at Papertrey Ink constantly inspires me. Time spent designing special cards always nourishes my creative heart and soul.

I just love thinking about those I hold dear as I create each card. It feels like a little ‘visit’ with them as I stamp, ink, cut, and emboss. Lettering the envelope, adding a special postage stamp, and dropping it into the mailbox makes sending my little ‘paper hugs’ such a happy, little thing!

I’ve been busy making extra Thanksgiving cards for the dear friends and neighbors who watched over our home while we were away helping my parents. For me, hand-delivering cards is always a special part of the joy of card making!

This little ‘paper hug’ is especially for all of the dear friends who gather here to read and leave their thoughts on our blog. 🙂 I cherish your kindness all year long. I am humbled by the worldwide visitors who take time to visit each day. We are a small, but wonderful group who constantly remind me of everything good in the world.  You inspire me, teach me, and encourage me to blossom in new ways!

Thank you for being YOU and for being here!

Wishing you all of the beautiful graces

of the season…

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

 

With a thankful heart,

♡ Dawn

P.S.  What small joys fill your thankful heart?

Hope you will share… 

 

 

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Together Again!

 

Hi Friends!

A-n-t-i-c-i-p-a-t-i-o-n can be a wonderful thing! The months and weeks leading up to the big day were filled with excitement and making plans. When September finally arrived, it was time to prepare a cozy, welcoming guest room for our very special friend.

Let’s start at the very beginning of this story…

The seeds of our very special friendship were sown 39 years ago. My Uncle Bill (who had moved to Germany, after serving in Vietnam) knew that his co-worker and friend would be passing through Chicago on a tour with her parents. He asked Iris to bring a packet of photos for us. We were so grateful for her kindness! So, my mother, my brother, and I met Iris and her parents at the Blackstone Hotel on a Sunday afternoon, in March. It was a day that would change lives forever!

Our families felt a friendship begin to sprout that afternoon, as Iris translated for all of us. There was so much to talk about as we got to know one another. Iris and I both felt a warm connection beginning to take root that day. We were both the same age and curious about the world. We promised to write letters to one another. As we parted ways, I told her, “If you’d ever like to come visit again, you are always welcome to stay with us!”

Just a few months later, Iris came back for an extended visit! 🙂  🙂

Our friendship began to blossom as Iris became a special part of our family and my circle of friends. My teaching career was just beginning and my dreams were just beginning to come true! The following summer, I went to visit Iris for several weeks. She lives in a beautiful city in southwest Germany, near the Black Forest. I felt so blessed to be welcomed into her family and her circle of friends during that wonderful summer in 1979.

Our special friendship has flourished as three decades have passed.  Since we were both single, footloose, and fancy-free, we were so fortunate to share our travel dreams together. Iris often came to visit me (during the even-numbered years) and I often visited her (during the odd-numbered years). Oh, the exciting adventures we have had together!!

Dear friends, together again!  🙂 🙂

(Full disclosure:  In the Munich beer garden, I just was holding the huge beer for a photo op! Beer has never been my ‘cup of tea.’ 🙂 )

Cars, buses, boats, trains, and planes have helped us to explore America and Europe together. In between our visits, letters, postcards, and phone calls were the water and sunshine that kept us close. I will always remember writing a letter and waiting weeks for a reply via overseas airmail. How fortunate we are to stay close so easily now, via email and occasional Skype visits!  🙂

Both of our lives have grown busier over the past several years. Yet, Iris and I have always kept one another very close at heart. I was so excited to introduce my husband to Iris (and all of my German family and friends), when we visited Germany five years ago to celebrate my Renaissance (the ‘R’ word that I use for Retirement)!  True friends, together again! 

Over the years, I have always grown Irises in my Friendship Garden, as I dreamed of another visit with my perennial friend. I carefully tended the yellow and purple blossoms as our friendship continued to grow and blossom.

Can you imagine the happiness that we all felt as we awaited a mid-September visit from our dear friend, Iris?

We filled our precious days together with some of our very favorite activities. We enjoyed a family gathering for our traditional Pumpkin Soup dinner. My parents and Iris enjoyed a nice Skype visit across the miles. We truly relished all of our relaxing evenings spent talking and laughing on the front porch, while the cicadas and the crickets serenaded us. Dear friends, together again!  🙂  🙂

We welcomed Autumn with a visit to Amish country in Northern Indiana. Iris and I have always loved exploring the peaceful countryside near Shipshewana and Middlebury and the clip-clop sounds of the Amish horse and buggies. My husband was fascinated by his first visit to Amish country.

Signs of Autumn were everywhere, while Summer-like temperatures soared to the mid-90s (twenty-five degrees above normal!). We admired beautiful Amish quilts and handmade furniture and were tempted by yummy baked goods and preserves. We learned a great deal about the history of the Amish and Mennonite people from the interesting tour guides and multi-media presentations at the Menno-Hof . Everywhere we went, the Amish people were eager to speak German (their first language) with Iris.

We spent our second day exploring the small town of Middlebury, Indiana. We enjoyed a colorful quilt shop and a beautiful Quilt Garden. Iris visited her first covered bridge. I will always remember our visits to an Amish home and farmstead to admire their handmade quilts.

My husband and I look forward to visiting other Amish communities in the future. Iris and I promised to carry the tranquil clip-clop sound of the horse and buggies with us when life returns to its usual busyness.

We all enjoyed spending a day at a Native American Harvest Pow-Wow. Dancers and drum circles from Indian Nations across the Midwest gathered for the weekend to share their traditional dancing, drumming, music, arts, and foods. It was a nice opportunity to talk with several Native Americans. It was fascinating to learn more about their traditions and the ceremonial herbs used in their sacred fire circle. The dancers and drummers endured two days of unseasonably hot, humid weather to share their traditions and we felt so grateful for the opportunity to experience another Pow-Wow. (You might like to visit the large Red Mountain Eagle Pow-Wow with us on the Pima-Maricopa Reservation last Fall, in Arizona, here.)

The next day, we cooled off with a peaceful walk along the beaches of Lake Michigan, at Illinois Beach State Park.  Lake Michigan is one of the five Great Lakes. Its name comes from the Ojibwe word “michi-gami” (meaning ‘great water’).  During past visits, we have enjoyed sailing on Lake Michigan with dear friends!

Then it was time to share some of my favorite places closer to home. Iris and I enjoyed lovely walks in nature at a nearby Arboretum and along our native prairie. We visited nearby greenhouses to admire their expansive collection of beautiful orchids. We visited my favorite library and two favorite shopping malls. (Her suitcase was extra-full on her trip home!)

We thrive on new experiences! So, Iris sat in a sporty, red Tesla and learned all about it. She always dreamed of sitting on a Harley. So, we wandered through the Harley-Davidson dealership as a friendly salesperson answered all of our questions.  For a new taste treat, Iris enjoyed her first burrito!

We squeezed many new adventures into our time together. I will always cherish our times reminiscing (and laughing) about our adventures over the past 39 years. What fun to look through photo albums filled with happy memories of our times together in Germany (and so many places in Europe) and America!

When I look back on our 2017 visit, I will always remember three special sounds:  the clip-clop of the Amish horse and buggies, the call of the drums at the Harvest Pow-Wow, and laughterso much laughter! Our time together just overflowed with happiness and hugs!

As always, our visit flew by much too quickly. Of course, we didn’t say, “Goodbye.” Instead I promised, “Bis bald.” (“See you soon!”) Our next adventure might happen here, there, or somewhere in between. 🙂 🙂  Dear friends, together again!

 

♥♥♥

Heartfelt thanks for taking the time to visit today! It has been very quiet here on our blog for several weeks now.  With everything happening in America and beyond, it felt kind of trivial to share my words. Unbelievable wildfires, the destruction caused by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Jose, Maria, and now Nate, a devastating earthquake in Mexico,…  and then the heartbreaking gun violence in Las Vegas.

Long ago, I experienced the dangers of Nature’s fury. I do know how it feels to have one’s life unexpectedly turned upside down. The effects last long after the clean-up. We cannot forget the people in Texas, Florida, and the islands. They will need our help for a long time as they put their lives back together.  If you have been affected by recent storms or are one of the brave first responders, please let us know how you are doing.

Blogging has become such an important part of my creative journey. I have been giving it a great deal of thought over the past weeks. Perhaps when times are difficult in our world, it is important to share my voice… and a little dose of sunshine! ♥♥

I’m looking forward to visiting all of my blog friends in the coming days, too. 🙂

Warmest hugs,

♡ Dawn

P.S.  This weekend we will celebrate World Cardmaking Day!  I’ll be back very soon to share!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Chatting By the Garden Gate

Our 'Autumn' Blaze Red Maple reflects the beauty of each Autumn day!

Hi Friends!

These glorious, late October days have been busy ones in the garden! Instead of cool, early mornings in the garden, I have been spending the warmer, afternoon hours gardenkeeping. Our ‘Autumn Blaze’ Red Maple is in full color now. What a joy to look skyward and take in her glory! Her leaves are fluttering down and we will be raking very soon.

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I have been harvesting herbs to add the warmth of summer to our winter soups.

On Saturday, we worked together to give the white picket fence around the Herb & Tea Garden a fresh coat of white paint for the snowy months ahead.  This big task was actually enjoyable, as we worked together. My husband painted along the outside, while I painted the inside. Fascinating conversation mingled with the wonderful scent of  herbs. A frisky squirrel entertained us from the branches of a nearby tree, while Maple seeds twirled down around us. Very tired, but happy, I finished cleaning up just as darkness fell.

papergardencollageToday I gathered bunches of Lacecap Hydrangeas to dry.

What fun it was to add color from my perennial gardens to my little ‘Paper Garden’ studio downstairs! Dried flowers and herbs from the past three summers hang from the ceiling rafters over my creative papercrafting space. They truly fill my heart with inspiration as I create! I feel so blessed to be able to enjoy time in the ‘garden’ all year long!

As I reflect back on this year’s gardening season, the word that comes to mind is change. Mindful, intentional changes have kept me busy in the backyard for many weeks.  I’m already planning big changes for the perennial beds in the front yard next year. My gardener’s heart tells me that it is time to ‘right size’ my flower gardens. Although change is never easy, I’m already making plans for a new look in the garden… and I’m excited!

A wonderful book has filled me with both inspiration and practical advice…

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The Right-Size Flower Garden, by Kerry Ann Mendez, caught my eye last year on a ‘New Books’ shelf at the library. Within the first few pages, I knew that this book was speaking to my heart! It definitely passed my ‘spark joy’ test, so it was a valuable addition to my own gardening library.

A garden author and lecturer, Kerry Ann shares her advice with the perfect blend of practical experience and her delightful sense of humor, as she guides us step-by-step to create a garden in balance with our lifestyle. As I read, I often found myself nodding in agreement, as the author shared her own stories of the changes in her garden.

Kerry Ann reminds us, “To reduce work by 50%, then at least half of your garden will require editing.” She shows us how to edit our gardens using her “Three R’s” approach. Kerry Ann’s advice has been so helpful as I decide which garden beds will “Remain, be Revamped, or be Removed.” She assures us that the changes will be exhilarating, as the Refinement of our gardens brings us Relief and Relaxation.

Beginning the process of ‘right-sizing’ my perennial gardens this summer was a huge first step for me. My very favorite, old-fashioned flowers and those with sentimental value found new homes in my Herb & Tea Garden and my History Garden. These plants will continue ‘spark joy’ for me in the garden. My large Cutting Garden bed is now gone and the newly planted grass seeds are already creating a carpet of green in its place. It will be so much friendlier to mow a little more grass, instead of weeding the large Cutting Garden bed.  I am already feeling a sense of relief!

Removing a large patch of orange Daylilies along the garage to create my ‘History Garden’ was a real challenge. Digging up the plants was a test of physical stamina, while it was emotionally difficult to toss away so many beautiful, healthy plants. I just kept repeating Kerry Ann’s mantra ~ “These are not children or pets.” If you crept up behind me as I was digging, I’m sure you heard me!

I felt so grateful for Kerry Ann’s permission, wisdom, and guidance to begin these big changes! The Right-Size Flower Garden has also been a wonderful resource of suggested plants for each part of my garden. I have learned more about the plants that I have grown for years and have many ideas of ways to replace these high-maintenance plants with low-maintenance alternatives. I can’t wait to try her recipe to rid my grass of Creeping Charlie (a perennial weed, also called Ground Ivy) next Spring! I will be sure to report back with the results!

The Right-Size Flower Garden is a delight to read (and reread!) and a valuable resource, as we design gardens that provide color, fragrance, and privacy with drought-tolerant perennials, shrubs, and trees. While the 2016 gardening season is still fresh in our minds, it’s the perfect time to be mindful of what worked well and what could be better in next year’s garden. Over the winter months, I will reread this book leisurely, with a cup of tea, as I plan more garden changes with intention. It holds the seeds of inspiration for “Refinement, Relief, and Relaxation” in my beloved perennial gardens!

Have you been thinking about any changes in your garden?

    Hope you will share your thoughts with us!

Thank you so much for stopping to visit today.

Wishing you a Happy Halloween,

and a wonderful start to November!

Happy Autumn days!

♡ Dawn

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A ‘History Garden’

busybee

Hi Friends!

Change can be a good thing, but it’s never easy! As these Autumn days grow shorter, I have been as busy as a bee making some big changes in the garden. During the past two gardening seasons, I have been mindful of the immense time that my large perennial gardens require.

Over the years, I intentionally let my gardens expand, little-by-little. My passion for gardening spoke to my heart ~ “You will need something to keep you busy after you retire. You can spend all day, every day in the garden!”  So, after I retired (I actually use a different “R” word, I call it my “Renaissance.”), I happily spent time gardening early in the morning and all afternoon. Life felt sweet among the flowers and herbs!

A few years into my Renaissance, I began to feel additional passions tugging on my heartstrings ~ cardmaking, playing with watercolors, scrapbooking, blogging, volunteering, more travel, taking fun classes, and having weekends free to explore.  Gardening will always, always be my favorite pastime, for time in the garden fills my heart and soul with such joy! Throughout this year I have been gardening with intention, always soul-searching for ways to make a few changes. It’s time to begin making a ‘right size’ garden for my Renaissance!

My ‘History Garden’

After weeks and weeks of digging, today I celebrated the completion of my new ‘History Garden.’  This garden bed holds a bit of the history of our home, treasured memories of my first garden, and special family memories, too. It is located along the side of our garage, since that’s where the story begins…

garage

Our little garage, was built in the early 1920’s on former farmland. The original owners built the garage, insulated the walls inside with wood from boxcars, added a potbelly stove for warmth, and lived in the garage for a whole year, while they worked to build the house. It’s a tall, but narrow garage, just right for a Model T Ford! The original doors were carriage-style and would swing out. After building the garage, they built a stone fireplace in the garden for cooking. I just love this little garage and the history that it holds. I knew that I wanted to preserve this little piece of history, so early on I had the garage jacked up and a strong foundation poured under the walls. It’s just right for my little car and a large potting bench!

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Almost 30 years ago, when I became the owner of our little home, the area alongside the garage was filled with scraggly trees. So, my dad helped me clear the land to make a garden bed there. Over time, the garden bed changed from all annuals, to a small Butterfly Garden, and then grew lush with perennials.

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In September, it dawned on me that I really didn’t need a ‘wild’ Butterfly Garden bed any longer. My entire garden, planted with large swatches of plants to attract pollinators, has become a colorful butterfly garden!

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At the same time, I realized that I no longer need a Cutting Garden, filled with old-fashioned perennials, near the deck. Over the years, my entire garden has become a cutting garden. Filling vases with flowers to bring inside is my favorite way to begin the morning! So, I moved a few of these old-fashioned perennials into my white picket fence Herb & Tea Garden. The Cutting Garden bed was still full of beautiful perennials. It was a joy to share many perennials with friends who were making their very first garden. But the bed was still very full. These perennials had a long history. Most of them were already growing here when I moved in!

Aha! It was time to create my own ‘History Garden’ bed. For weeks, I dug and dug the overgrown daylilies alongside the garage. Over the years, they had been multiplying by leaps and bounds! After digging down one foot deep, to remove the roots and all of the daylily tubers, I had to slowly sift through the soil with my fingers, searching out all of the tiny tubers. It became a special kind of garden meditation, like searching for needles in a haystack. A half day’s work would only clear a small patch, before my back and knees forced me to hobble inside to rest. Many rainy days made for a very muddy mess. So, I was overjoyed to complete the digging earlier this week!

It was finally time to begin transplanting into my ‘History Garden’ alongside the garage! I transplanted peony bushes and phlox that have been growing in my garden for over 30 years. Next I moved some Astilbe plants, some of my very first perennials. I divided the tall, yellow Rudbeckia ‘Herbstsonne’ that has been growing near the garage for several years. The centerpiece of the ‘History Garden’ is the Yucca plant that once grew in my mom’s garden long ago. It grew here for many years without flowering. Now the Yucca sends up a tall stalk filled with creamy, white flowers every summer. The mother Yucca plant has produced three pups in my garden~ a lovely reminder of my mom and her three grown children.♥ Today my mom continues to grow Yucca in her Arizona garden. Thinking of our Yucca plants keeps us close, in spite of the miles between our beloved gardens! Just today I added the mulch and drew a map of the new garden bed. (I will be able to identify the remaining flower colors when they bloom in the Springtime.)

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I can’t wait until next Spring to watch my ‘History Garden’ grow! It should be filled with color from early Spring through late Fall. I even left a space to add a new perennial, from my long ‘wish list.’ I have a feeling it will be pink Japanese Windflowers! I first noticed them blooming in a beautiful garden in the Black Forest, in Germany. Their gorgeous Autumn blooms hold such a special place in my heart!

Colorful Maple leaves grace the birdbath on a sunny Autumn day.

I will still be as busy as a bee in the garden a bit longer. It’s time to clear the remaining plants from the old Cutting Garden and plant grass in that area. Next year, there will be a little more to mow, but much less to weed! I’m already planning more changes in the garden next year. Gardening with intention will keep my passion for gardening (along with all of the other pastimes in my Renaissance) growing for years to come!

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Can’t wait to share a wonderful gardening book with you next time!

It has inspired these changes… with more to come!

Are you planning any big changes in your garden?

Happy Autumn days!

♡ Dawn

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Frost on the Pumpkin

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Hi Friends!

The weather forecast warned us of frosty nights here last weekend.

There was a definite nip in the air while I scurried around the garden,

just knowing that the end of our gardening season was quickly approaching.

There is always so much to do!

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It was time to harvest fragrant herbs.

I also gathered big bunches of Annabelle Hydrangeas.

A cozy part of my paper crafting studio for designing scrapbook pages.

This cozy part of my ‘Paper Garden’ studio is just perfect for designing scrapbook pages. A nearby stamping table is just right for card making. (Sorry that we can’t peek, as Thanksgiving cards are works-in-progress.) I feel so blessed to have this special place to create and share handmade kindness! ♡

Now all of the harvested flowers and herbs

are hanging from the ceiling

in the ‘Paper Garden’

to dry.

It brings me such joy to have flowers around me all year long!

The last of the garden flowers.

The last of the garden flowers

As the sun fell lower into the sky,

my heart wanted needed

one last memory of the garden flowers.

So, I carefully clipped one stem of blossoms from each plant

and placed them into a simple, stoneware pitcher.

Containers of pink geraniums found a warm home in the garage.

I quickly covered the mum plants to keep their blossoms a bit longer

as darkness fell upon my Midwest garden.

Now…

I was ready.

Not really ready. It always makes me sad to bid the garden farewell.

 Jack Frost painted a coat of white over the garden on both Friday and Saturday nights.

⚛⚛⚛

Despite the chill, we felt the warm glow of Autumn fun inside.

Sunday afternoon was our annual family Pumpkin Fest!

Heartwarming memories are a key ingredient in our Pumpkin Soup.

We first tasted this wonderful soup three years ago while relaxing with dear friends,

on an Autumn afternoon

at an outdoor cafe in the beautiful Black Forest, in Germany.

A few days later, Sabine taught me how to make Pumpkin Soup

in her kitchen, as her lovely, young daughter, Hannah,

translated the recipe into English for us.

(Herzlichen Dank, liebe Freunde!) ♥♥

Organic Red Kuri pumpkin and potatoes

The thin, edible rind of the Red Kuri pumpkin adds both flavor and a deep color to Pumpkin Soup.

We always use a Red Kuri or Hokkaido pumpkin

to make Sabine’s wonderful Pumpkin Soup.

These pumpkins were much harder to find this year.

We searched all of our local markets and the Asian markets nearby.

We finally found organic Red Kuri pumpkins at Whole Foods!

(I might have done a little ‘Happy Dance’ right in the middle of the Produce aisle!) ☺

The rind of the Red Kuri pumpkin is very thin and edible. It adds rich color and flavor to the soup.

Oh, you can only imagine the fun

on that special afternoon three years ago!

Three dear friends, wearing aprons,

chopping, stirring, and laughing

in Sabine’s kitchen

while making both

Pumpkin Soup and happy memories!

I couldn’t wait to make Sabine’s Pumpkin Soup for my own family!

♨♨♨

You can only imagine my delight as I stirred a big pot of pumpkin soup,

in our own kitchen a few weeks later.

Sabine surprised us with a phone call as I stirred,

answering all of my questions as I made my first Pumpkin Soup!

(What a blessing to have a guardian angel in the kitchen!) ♥♥

Pumpkin, potatoes, broth, and onions boiling.

Ah, the heartwarming memories of our Autumn in Germany…

now shared with our family here each October.

Our Pumpkin Fest menu

is always a very simple one,

inspired by two of my favorite cooks…

Sabine’s Pumpkin Soup  ~ Sabine J.  (recipe below)

Iowa Corn Bread ~ Susan Branch

Cranberry Apple Crisp ~ Susan Branch

Pumpkin Soup

Pumpkin Soup, garnished with a sage leaf

Sabine’s Pumpkin Soup

1 onion, chopped

4-6 potatoes, cubed

1 Hokkaido pumpkin (or Red Kuri pumpkin)

          ♥    Put chopped onion and a little margarine in a large, heavy pot.

          ♥    Cut up the potatoes and add to the pot.

          ♥    Cut the Hokkaido (or Red Kuri) pumpkin in half. Scoop out the seeds and discard.

                Cut the pumpkin with rind into chunks and add to the pot.

          ♥    Next add a pinch of salt, freshly ground pepper, and a bit of sugar to the pot.

          ♥    Add boiling water and vegetable bouillon (or organic vegetable broth) to fill the pot.

          ♥    Boil the soup for 20-30 minutes, until the potatoes are soft.

          ♥    Puree the soup until creamy and taste.

          ♥    A bit of cream can be stirred into the soup at the end, if you like.    Mmmmm! Enjoy!

  ♥  Guten Appetit!  ♥

Sabine's original Pumpkin Soup recipe

Hannah (only 11 years old when we visited) impressed us all with her wonderful English skills. After only one year of studying English in school, Hannah was able to translate the recipes for Pumpkin Soup and her grandmother’s special Linzertorte! ☺ Hannah speaks fluent English now whenever we Skype. We are all so proud of her! What an amazing young lady! ♥

♨♨♨

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Do you plan any traditional Autumn activities

when the frost is on the pumpkin?

Hope you will share…

DSCN3274Thank you so much for taking the time to visit today.

Wishing you a wonderful October weekend!

 Autumn blessings!

♡ Dawn