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.

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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

 

Autumn Treasures

CelebrateAutumn

Hi Friends!

We are celebrating another lovely Autumn weekend here in the Midwest! The leaves are just beginning to show their colors. The next two weekends should be prime time for leaf peeping in our area. Midwesterners are making the most of our nice weather.

Perhaps you can guess why we left home very early on a chilly Saturday morning to drive out to the countryside…

As long as I can remember, one of my very favorite pastimes has been antiquing. I have such sweet childhood memories of tagging along with my parents at outdoor antique fairs, learning about the fascinating things that were part of daily life for our ancestors. As I grew, so did my love for the old ways and the simple things that make a ‘Home Sweet Home.’

Now at a vintage age myself, I still love the anticipation of the hunt and the thrill of learning more about old, well-worn treasures. You just never know when you will find something that sparks joy! It’s always a treat to find inspiration for new ways to use my own antiques. From time to time, a tiny treasure or two might even come home with us!

This pretty park sits along the peaceful, historic waterway.

This pretty park sits along a peaceful, historic waterway. The small town of Morris is just a one hour drive from Chicago.

On Saturday, we visited the last 3 French Hens French Country Market of the year, held in the small town of Morris, Illinois. Over 140 vendors set up their booths in Canalport Park, along the banks of the historic I & M Shipping Canal. I practically danced into the park! There is always so much inspiration here… I could just feel it in the air!

DSCN5941It’s so interesting to peek at the upcycled items ~

especially signs made from old barn wood, vintage doors, or tobacco lath.

I always take time to admire the fonts, the time-worn wood, and the sayings on each piece.

DSCN5939Vintage frames were in abundance at this month’s fair.

Some were turned into chalkboards. Others held chicken wire and clothespins to create display boards.

DSCN5952There were so many memories here, too!

While growing up, I played at a small, wooden, roll top desk that was passed down through our family.

The red handled rolling pin looks just like the one in my kitchen today.

I can remember a Charles Chips cookie tin at our house, too.

It’s always a happy stroll down Memory Lane!

DSCN5943Vintage wooden ironing boards were popular.

Old doors were definitely trending here!

They were repurposed into hall trees with bench seats, book shelves, coffee tables, and chalkboards.

I was thankful to see the original hardware preserved on each door.

DSCN5947Autumn’s gifts were everywhere!

Bittersweet bundles were cut from roadside plants in Indiana.

Farmers brought their fruits, vegetables, and honey.

DSCN5945Pumpkins and gourds were everywhere!

DSCN5950Our search for the perfect pumpkins and gourds

always leads us to Anderson Pumpkins.

These expert growers harvest over 102 varieties on their

farm in nearby Newark, Illinois.

DSCN5949It’s fascinating to learn more about pumpkins and squash from them each year.

We learned that pumpkins will be more scarce this season

due to our cool, very wet June.

(Insider tip straight from the grower ~

“If you buy canned pumpkin for Thanksgiving baking,

it’s a good idea to buy it extra early this year. Supplies could be short!)

DSCN5810The blessings of Autumn

were everywhere we looked at the

 3 French Hens French Country Market.

Beautiful chrysanthemums, long bundles of dried wheat,

bales of hay, and bouquets of bright, orange Chinese Lanterns

were a celebration of Autumn in the Midwest.

A few bits

of holiday magic

were sprinkled in, too!

DSCN5956The most wonderful time of the year

is just around the corner!

DSCN5955What a wonderful Autumn morning!

There were little treasures that

sparked joy ~

a small, silverplated ‘Bride Basket’ plate (made in England) for holiday tea parties,

a bar of handmade ‘Ocean Sunrise’ soap, scented with peppermint, lemon, and eucalyptus,

and small pumpkins and gourds to create Autumn centerpieces.

Best of all, my heart is filled with inspiration!

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We bought delicious fare for

our picnic lunch

and headed off

further into the countryside

to our afternoon destination…

This beautiful place is really old!

It’s an original ‘antique’

dating back

 10,000 years!

Can’t wait to share… next time!

I’m so grateful that you made time to stop and visit today.

Wishing everyone bright, colorful Autumn (or Springtime!) days ahead!

Sending warm Thanksgiving Blessings to our friends in Canada!

Cherish today!

♡Dawn

P.S.  What Autumn activities have you been enjoying lately?

3 French Hens

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Hi Friends!

It was my favorite kind of day! We jumped into the car very early on Saturday morning. I could feel a touch of Autumn in the air and excitement building as we left behind the busy suburbs, near the bustling city, and headed southwest to the friendly, little town of Morris, Illinois. Time moved at a more leisurely pace, as we drove along fields of golden corn and yellow, roadside wildflowers, under beautiful, blue skies, accented with puffs of white clouds. It’s the kind of drive that just begs for country music on the car radio. 🙂 If only I knew the lyrics to those country songs, I would have been singing along!

Our destination was the 3 French Hens French Country Market. This popular event, held on the second Saturday of each month, from May through October, draws visitors from near and far. The friendliest vendors and shoppers gather here in a quiet, little park early in the morning… and the excitement begins!

The historic I&M Canal, in Morris, Illinois

There was a nip in the air, as we walked to Canal Port Park, along the banks of the historic I & M Canal. Over 130 booths of antiques, upcycled vintage treasures, and beautiful, handmade wares filled the park. Inspiration was everywhere!

Join us for a stroll through the market…

'Fall' bunting with rosettes

Signs of Autumn filled the air on Saturday morning!

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Amy, at Plaid Umbrella Studios, displayed beautiful handmade wares. Plaid Umbrella Studios is a cooperative of antique dealers and artists who run pop-up stores each month. One of their treasures just *might* have come home with us!

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Angela, of 13th & Olive Designs, followed her passion for flowers as she created beautiful pendants filled with pressed flowers. Her work was truly lovely!

Angela's passion for flowers makes her beautiful pendants one-of-a-kind treasures. I really enjoyed talking with her about her flowers and meaningful text.

Angela’s one-of-a-kind pendants can also be custom-made with meaningful words and pressed flowers from life’s cherished moments. I really enjoyed our conversation about our shared passion for flowers, their Victorian meanings, and old book pages.

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Signs of Autumn were everywhere at the 3 French Hens Market.

Gorgeous mums and yummy baked goods from Shipshewana, Indiana were very popular!

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Finding a patch of sunshine warmed us up,

as the brisk winds filled the air with an early morning chill.

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A cup of Pumpkin Spice tea was also a warm welcome,

to both hands and heart,

as we wandered among the antiques, vintage treasures,

handmade jewelry, herbal soaps,

c0lorful Autumn perennials,

baked goods, and farm fresh produce.

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Anderson’s Pumpkins shared a wonderful variety of locally grown pumpkins and gourds. We look forward to ‘picking’ our pumpkins at their booth in a few weeks, during the October market.

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Have you seen anything that catches your fancy?

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Jennifer, at Olde Farm Creek, brought her popular signs stenciled on tobacco lath.  Check out the large Scrabble tiles! Olde Farm Creek is also featured in Country Sampler magazine.

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There were smiles around every corner at the 3 French Hens Market!

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So happy that you could visit the market with us today.

We are already looking forward to

another morning in the country

at the 3 French Hens French Country Market,

in Morris, Illinois,

on Saturday, October 10th.

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I am always filled with inspiration

after spending a morning here with all of the creatives, makers, and doers!

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Heartfelt thanks for taking the time to visit today!

Where are you finding Autumn inspiration?

I love, love, love your comments…

Cherish the day!

♡ Dawn

Inspiration is Blooming Everywhere!

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One last Rudbeckia blossom shines with Chrysanthemum blooms in our Autumn garden.

 

Hi Friends!

Summer’s last hurrah was a delightful gift for Midwestern gardeners! We had three glorious days of warm sunshine and blue skies to finish putting our gardens to bed earlier this week. Squirrels were scampering around in the yard getting ready for the cold weather, while I scampered about in the garden!  Our trees are almost bare now and the leaves have been raked and mulched. Autumn’s bright colors are fading very quickly now.

                                                                                             {via Pinterest }

Many gardeners enjoy cleaning up their flower beds in Autumn. However, I always leave the stems and seed heads standing through the winter months. The birds can take advantage of the seeds while other food sources are buried under the winter snow. It brings me such pleasure to enjoy my ‘shadow garden’ all winter long, when the tall stems and dried seed heads cast lovely shadows on the snow. As I shovel, I delight in the wonderful garden memories. Although my fingers and toes may be frozen, my heart is always warmed by the sweet shadows reflected on the sparkling snow.

We are expecting a chilling Halloween, in more ways than one!  Brave trick-or-treaters will really have to bundle up this year. Costumes based on the movie ‘Frozen’ will match our Halloween chill. With warnings of a killing frost on Friday evening, it’s time to gather the flowers, filling vases with the last colorful blossoms of the season. I’m looking forward to surprising our neighbors with bright bouquets!

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Many years, we still have Chrysanthemums blooming in the garden to create a lovely Thanksgiving centerpiece.

 

Any time you need a little sunshine, please stop by to visit our garden!

{ via Pinterest }

It’s so easy to  revisit all of this year’s garden memories. It might be lovely to brew a cup of tea. Then just click on the dark stripe on the far left side of the screen. Under ‘Categories,’ click on Petals.  Take a leisurely Springtime walk through the garden. Enjoy the perennials and herbs throughout the summer months, and visit the garden in Autumn. You might enjoy reading the sweet memories of our Friendship Garden and Herb Garden, too.

Inspiration is blooming everywhere!

Over the past few weeks, I have been busily setting up a Studio space for papercrafting. In anticipation of having a special place to be creative (and messy!), I have been finding much inspiration from some of my favorite crafters. I’d love to introduce  you to someone very special ~ Sandy Allnock, founder of Operation Write Home. Sandy’s tireless efforts on behalf of our nation’s heroes really make a difference!   I admire her creativity, talent, hard work, and dedication.

Sandy’s ‘Silverware Theory’ of craft room organization makes so much sense. You might enjoy her video, showing how she organized her new craft room. I found wonderful inspiration at 15:36 in the video. Take a peek!  Sandy keeps an ‘Inspiration Drawer’ near her desk. It is filled with her newest  tools and supplies for cardmaking. What a great idea!

Inspired by Sandy, I started filling an ‘Inspiration Box’ when I began dreaming of a Studio space of my own. The contents of my Inspiration Box are always changing. Whenever I bring home new cardmaking supplies or tools, they go directly into my Inspiration Box. Each time I begin a new project, I take a peek in my Inspiration Box and try to use something new! It’s fun to learn new skills by trying new things!

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New cardmaking supplies and tools find a special home in my Inspiration Box until they are used on a project.

After I use the stamps, embellishments, or tools once or twice, then they move to the storage drawers in my Studio. Hopefully, I will remember that I have them because I have already used them! I intentionally chose a small, photo storage box to use as my Inspiration Box. As it fills up, it is a great reminder to use what I already have before buying more supplies.  Inspiration + Motivation = a very happy, contented cardmaker!

If I came home from the craft store and immediately put  the new supplies into the drawers, I would forget that I bought them. Sandy’s idea works like magic! At the moment, my Inspiration Box is filling up. The next time I go downstairs to the Studio to make cards, it will be fun to be creative with the Wplus9 ‘Hand Lettered Hello’ stamps and dies, the lovely sentiments in the Power Poppy ‘Renewal’ stamp set, or the Sizzix ‘Filmstrip’ die.  Oh, the ideas are already flowing!!

I always think of Sandy when I open my Inspiration Box. I’m so grateful for this small idea that makes so much sense!  An Inspiration Box, Drawer, or Basket might help so many different crafters ~ holding fabric and accessories for sewing, beads for jewelry making,…   It’s a lovely reminder to use what you have!

Inspiration is blooming everywhere around us!

Create happiness!

♡ Dawn

 

P. S.  Can you think of a way to adapt the Inspiration Box idea to help motivate or inspire one of your creative passions?