Inspiration is Blooming Everywhere!


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!


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!


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?

A New ‘Garden’ Season!

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

Our ‘Autumn Blaze’ Red Maple reflects the beauty of each October day!

Hi Friends!

Change is in the air in our Midwest garden! Our chilly nighttime temperatures, shorter daylight hours, and brilliant Autumn colors are poignant reminders that a new ‘garden’ season is just around the corner. Now the precious hours spent gardening in the warmth of an Autumn afternoon seem ever so fleeting!

Although the garden colors are fading quickly now, there are still some lovely reminders of our colorful Summer days. Bright pink Cosmos blossoms still dance in the breeze in our old-fashioned Cutting Garden.

These Cosmos grew from special seeds from Rheinstetten, Germany. A gift of friendship from a faraway friend!

These Cosmos grew from seeds sent from Rheinstetten, Germany. What a lovely gift of friendship from a faraway friend!

There was a surprise discovery this week in our Autumn garden! Finding a blossom from an early Spring Anemone, blooming beside a fallen Autumn leaf, made my heart leap! Oh, the small thrills that make a gardener’s heart dance with delight. Surely, you can understand…

A brave Anenome, that typically blooms in May and June, is blooming in our garden this October!

A brave Anemone, that typically blooms in May and June, is blooming in our garden this October!


Brilliant leaves twirl down creating a colorful in a colorful dance on a Autumn breeze.

Brilliant leaves twirl down creating a colorful dance on an Autumn breeze.

After gazing upward, again and again, to enjoy the glorious colors overhead, it was time to begin a few gardenkeeping tasks today. With my favorite herb snips in hand, I headed through the garden gate to begin harvesting bundles of herbs to dry for our kitchen this winter.

Oh, the delights that greet us as we step through the gate of our Herb and Tea Garden!

Oh, the delights that greet us as we step through the gate of our Herb and Tea Garden!

It’s such fun to snip sprigs of Rosemary, Sage, Marjoram, Oregano, and Thyme gathering each bundle tightly with a small rubber band. Thoughts of winter soups and Thanksgiving stuffing come to mind at harvest time. Our dried herbs will flavor so many meals in the coming months.


The small bundles of herbs will hang to dry in our cool, dark basement until they are ready to use in the kitchen.

Harvesting Hydrangeas is always one of my special joys. In October, we usually have so many lovely, mauve-colored Hydrangeas to dry ~ enough to fill many baskets, crocks, and stoneware pitchers for a gorgeous ‘winter garden’ inside. Sadly, last winter’s long, severe cold and snow cover in the Midwest meant no flowers at all on most of our mophead Hydrangeas! It was the first time that there were no buds, only large, healthy leaves on the Hydrangeas growing near our front porch. Garden bloggers in many areas reported the same disappointment in their gardens this summer.

Just one small basket of Hydrangeas, mostly of the lacecap variety, was harvested with great care. Each blossom seemed more precious than ever before! I will truly miss having dried bouquets of my favorite, old-fashioned flowers nearby while sipping tea, reading, and watching the snowflakes fall outside the window all winter long! Nature has taught me that nothing is certain in the garden. Over the years, I have learned a great deal about the importance of patience… and hope!

There were only a few blooms on our Hydrangeas this season.

There were very few blooms on our Hydrangeas this season.

Harvest time has just begun! Herbs and Hydrangeas are hanging to dry in the basement.

Harvest time has just begun! Some herbs and Hydrangeas are already hanging in the basement to dry.

This week, we had our first frost and the garden is preparing to rest. My favorite Rosemary plant has already been brought in from the Herb Garden and is happily growing in a large pot in our sunny dining room. Its heavenly scent will remind me of summer days in the garden through the coldest of winter days. A gorgeous Mandevilla plant that bloomed all summer on our deck is now blooming in the dining room, adjusting to the sunny, southern exposure. It will be so nice to enjoy this colorful souvenir of summertime in the weeks to come!

This is always the time when a gardener reflects on the past season and looks ahead to next year’s garden. As a garden blogger, there will be new gardening hopes, dreams, and plans to share. Travels to the sunny Southwest will bring some lovely desert gardens to our blog. I look forward to sharing some favorite gardens I’ve visited on past European adventures, too. What fun to remember beautiful castle gardens while our Midwest cottage garden rests!

Yes, the garden is changing…

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

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

… and a new garden season is just beginning here!!

I’m looking forward to sharing another favorite passion of mine in the coming months! A long-time dream of mine has just come true. I have set up a Studio space in our basement where I can create (and be messy!). It’s a wonderful place to spread out and enjoy making cards, scrapbooking, watercoloring, and to begin experimenting with new techniques in a mixed media art journal.

It will be such fun to sow new seeds of inspiration, water them with passion, and encourage new skills to grow and blossom!

Hope you will enjoy visits to my ‘Paper Garden,’ too…

DSCN3334 - Version 2

Now I can spend my days in the ‘garden’ all winter long! ♡

Banners and bunting celebrate my passion for paper!

Colors, patterns, and texture make my heart sing.


It was such fun to create a banner for my new Studio space!

For my papercrafting friends:  First I die cut banners using SU ‘Banners’ Framelits and embossed the Bazzill ‘Forget Me Not’ cardstock with the Embossalicious ‘Flowers’ EF. I layered K&Company Floral Tags, embossed with the Cuttlebug ‘Birds and Swirls’ EF. Next I die cut Spellbinders ‘Scalloped Ovals’ on SU ‘Very Vanilla’ cardstock and embossed them with the SU Sizzix ‘Flowers’ EF. Then I added letters die cut with SU ‘Little Letters’ Thinlets on The Paper Company ‘Chocolate Truffle’ cardstock. Finally, I used SU dimensionals to add the sentiment and strung the banner with natural polished hemp.

It’s such a treat to spend time in my ‘Paper Garden’…  now that my perennial and herb gardens are slowing down.

I’m ever so grateful that YOU are here visiting! I truly appreciate the time you spend here at Petals.Paper.Simple Thymes!

For me, spending time with Kindred Spirits is always such a joy!

Come visit again soon…

Autumn blessings, sweet friends!


P.S.  Are there special hobbies that you enjoy during the winter months? Or do you continue the same passions year round?

3 French Hens

A wonderful place to find treasures!

A wonderful place to find treasures!

Hi Friends!

Brrrrrr! It was such a chilly Saturday morning! Just after sunrise, we drove through the countryside to the quaint, little town of Morris, Illinois, ‘leaf peeping’ along the way. It was time for the final 3 French Hens French Country Market of the season. This popular event is held on the second Saturday of each month, from May through October, in Canalport Park along the banks of the historic I & M Canal. It’s always one of our favorite antiquing destinations!

The 3 French Hens French Country Market attracts the friendliest people ~ antique dealers, artisans offering their handmade wares, gardeners selling colorful Chrysanthemums, bakers displaying their delectable treats, local farmers selling freshly-picked produce, and treasure hunters galore!

One of the delights of the October market is… pumpkins!! We had such fun talking with the grower of Anderson Pumpkins. Valerie shared tales of the pumpkins and gourds they grow on their farm. Each variety has a wonderfully descriptive name. Just imagine the fun of naming each variety of pumpkin!

Anderson Pumpkins, in Newark, Illinois, grows so many wonderful varieties of pumpkins and gourds!

Anderson Pumpkins, in Newark, Illinois, grows more than 50 varieties of pumpkins, squash, and gourds!

Rather than carry a heavy pumpkin through the market, we picked out a variety of small, unique gourds to fill a basket on our dining room table. Passersby smiled as they watched us picking out several ‘perfect’ gourds to take home!

Scarecrows are popping up all over the Midwest this month. We stopped to enjoy scarecrows of all sizes and shapes. Although we haven’t made our scarecrow yet this Autumn, we found so much wonderful inspiration here on Saturday morning!


A friendly scarecrow stands watch over a garden of colorful Chrysanthemums.

We met Kathy Pribble, a talented artisan who creates the most wonderful scarecrow characters. Each one of her scarecrows has a name and a unique personality. So much creativity…


Kathy Pribble wil be selling her delightful scarecrows again next weekend, at the 3rd Sunday Market, in Bloomington, Illinois.


Scarecrow children riding a tricycle. {Created by Kathy Pribble}

Wouldn’t it be fun to take one of her unique scarecrows home for the front porch? Maybe someday…

With cups of steaming, hot pumpkin spiced tea and hot apple cider to chase away the early morning chill, we continued our treasure hunting. There was so much more to see!

There were treasures everywhere!

There were treasures everywhere!

'Dave and Jayne's Furniture Fix', from Wilmington, Illinois, offered pretty painted and distressed furniture.

Dave and Jayne’s Furniture Fix‘, from Wilmington, Illinois, offered pretty painted and distressed furniture.

Caroline, from Paperjack Studio, offered her repurposed furniture, vintage finds, and painted letters.

Caroline, from Paperjack Studio, offered her repurposed furniture, vintage finds, and painted letters.

Caroline also had unique ideas for holiday celebrations yet to come!

Caroline also had lovely ideas for special holiday celebrations yet to come!  

What a perfect Saturday morning! The friendly people always make the 3 French Hens French Country Market extra special. We had nice long visits with a soap maker, a pumpkin grower, and a baker. It’s wonderful to find so many talented people from so many walks of life gathered together in a pretty park in the heartland.

A wonderful place to find treasures!

A wonderful place to find treasures!

We were so fortunate to visit the 3 French Hens French Country Market three times this year ~ Spring, Summer, and Autumn. We are already looking forward to coming back again next year. In fact, we have decided to spend the whole day in Morris next time. There are so many interesting places to explore in town. On Saturday afternoons, the streets fill with hundreds of vintage cars for Cruise Nights. It would be so nice to stay for the fun! Every single time we visit  this little town, surrounded by farms in America’s heartland, we always have the same conversation, “Wouldn’t it be nice to live in a small town one day?”

As we walked through Morris on our way to the car, we listened to  the crunch of leaves underfoot. We were filled with inspiration and happy memories of a lovely morning of treasure hunting. We brought home some small treasures that hold big memories ~ a bag of unique gourds, fragrant bars of handmade Lemongrass/Mint Goat Milk soap, and shiny, silver charms to add to a necklace. The best memories of all weren’t carried in our bags ~ they are carried in our hearts! Warm memories that will last through the cold winter months ahead.

Next weekend, there will be more ‘leaf peeping.’  Yellows, oranges, and brilliant reds are just beginning to show their colors here. The green leaves will soon perform a spectacular symphony of Autumn colors. The following weekend, there is sure to be another popular Autumn activity… leaf raking!

A few leaves from our 'Autumn Blaze' Red Maple have begun twirling down.

A few leaves from our ‘Autumn Blaze’ Red Maple have begun twirling down.

 Autumn is the perfect time for making memories!

Happy Autumn days!

♡ Dawn

P.S.  What are your favorite Autumn activities?

Rabbit! Rabbit!

Hi Friends!

Rabbit! Rabbit! Happy October! Can you already feel the changes in the air where you live? Our weather seemed to change overnight, right on cue! Suddenly, it is much cooler in the Midwest. We are wearing sweaters and denim jackets. The beginning of a new month is always filled with promise… and is the perfect time to celebrate the small moments that make life oh-so sweet!


 Today I am feeling especially grateful for…

A long walk along a wooded path with a dear friend.

A pot of cinnamon tea brewing and two teacups waiting.

Bunches of fresh herbs harvested and hanging to dry.

A few brilliant, red Maple leaves collected and pressed in a book.

A stoneware crock filled with pale pink Chrysanthemums and deep purple Asters.


My heart is so grateful that you have come to visit today!

Our little blog is exactly five months old this very day. It’s such fun to gather with kindred spirits here! Sharing our thoughts and stories makes life so much richer. For our stories truly do matter!

Today, I honor each of you… and give thanks!



As the garden begins to slow down a bit, there is more time now to explore other creative passions.

It was such fun to spend a recent afternoon playing with paper and ink  in a friend’s Stampin’ Up Studio!


Design by Laura B. ~ ⚛ All Products by Stampin’ Up!

When kindred spirits gather together here on our blog, we piece together our thoughts and dreams, almost like a paper quilt.

By being here, you make our little Gratitude Sampler ‘quilt’ feel complete.

Heartfelt thanks for being here!

Scatter sunshine!

♡ Dawn

                                                               P.S.   What small moments will you remember as October begins?

Sweet Summer Days…

Labor Day Weekend

Labor Day weekend reminds us to savor the last few weeks of Summer!

Hi Friends!

It’s so hard to believe that summer is winding down and Labor Day weekend is here!  Our cool, wet Midwest summer days filled our gardens with lush blooms all summer long. Such pleasant weather makes gardeners so happy!

This has been our wettest summer on record, with over 25 inches of rain since the beginning of June… and more rain on the way! Gardenkeeping throughout the summer months took on a different feel, with just a bit of handwatering and continuous weeding. The perennials in our cottage garden are larger than ever, tumbling over one another with colorful blossoms.

It’s been several weeks since we walked through the garden together. Hope you have time! It would be lovely to sit on the porch and enjoy a tall glass of apple mint iced tea, a summertime treat from the herb garden! We can also share our favorite memories of a very special gardener…

Coreopsis, 'Blue Mist' Bluebeard shrub, and Rudbekia fill a sunny garden bed.

Coreopsis, ‘Blue Mist’ Bluebeard shrub, and Rudbeckia fill a sunny garden bed.


'Mercury Rising' Coreopsis and Rudbeckia are both long lasting cut flowers.

‘Mercury Rising’ Coreopsis and Rudbeckia both make long lasting cut flowers.


Daisies, Rudbeckia, and Lacecap Hydrangeas tumble together near the front porch.

Daisies, Rudbeckia, and Lacecap Hydrangeas tumble together near the front porch.


Cosmos and Zinnias dance in the breeze in our Cutting Garden.

Cosmos and Zinnias dance in the breeze in our Cutting Garden.


Hosta 'Royal Standard' shows off its large white blossoms in the Shade Garden.

Hosta ‘Royal Standard’ shows off its large, white blossoms in the Shade Garden.


Delicate spikes of Hosta blossoms contrast with the large, pink Lacecap Hydrangeas.

Delicate spikes of Hosta blossoms contrast with the large, pink Lacecap Hydrangeas.


There are small, barely noticeable hints that summer days are winding down…

The sun’s warmth feels a bit more gentle now.

Gusts of wind scatter a few yellow and brown leaves, twirling down into the grass.

The cicadas are singing so loudly in the late day sun.

Just this week, the Chrysanthemums began to bloom.

That is the biggest hint that Autumn days are just around the corner!

Pale pink Chrysanthemums welcome Autumn days as Obedient Plant celebrates late Summer in the garden.

Pale pink Chrysanthemums welcome Autumn days, while Obedient Plant celebrates late Summer days.


Sunny yellow Chrysanthemum blossoms and showy Rudbeckia share the garden in late August.

Sunny yellow Chrysanthemum blossoms and showy Rudbeckia share the garden in late August.


I’ve been thinking of someone special this week…

and her appreciation of a simple life made by one’s own hands.

It’s the perfect time to remember

Tasha Tudor,

one of America’s best known and beloved illustrators.

August 28th would have been Tasha Tudor's 99th birthday. So, I had to reread my favorite book about her.

August 28th would have been Tasha Tudor’s 99th birthday. So, I’ve been rereading my favorite book about her.


Whenever I think of Tasha Tudor, I think of…

hollyhocks, delphiniums, foxgloves,

peonies, and heirloom roses,

reading on the porch, watercolors,

sharing a children’s story,

handmade goat milk soap,

lighting candles,

 sipping a cup of chamomile tea,

and enjoying a quiet, simple lifestyle.

Tasha Tudor's Garden is a truly beautiful book filled with photographs of Tasha and her garden. It is filled with her gardening secrets, anecdotes, and her enchanting watercolors.

Tasha Tudor’s Garden is a truly beautiful book filled with wonderful photographs of Tasha in her garden. It is filled with her gardening secrets, anecdotes, and her enchanting watercolors.


Most of all, my heart celebrates her love of gardening!

“Paradise on Earth” is how Tasha described her cottage gardens.

I understand how she felt…

Scatter joy!

♡ Dawn

                                P.S.  Do you have any favorite memories of Tasha Tudor to share?