Springtime Blessings!

Hi Friends!

Sunny Springtime greetings!

Today I’m counting my blessings out loud

as my very favorite season begins…

Bougainvillea in bloom in the Sonoran Desert, with the Superstition Mountains in the distance

I have been enjoying precious family time

in the Arizona desert.

Prickly Pear cacti in bloom

Admiring spectacular sunrises

and sunsets…

Saguaro silhouettes at sunset in the Sonoran desert

Sharing wonderful family memories with my parents,

as we talked about their childhood stories

and my childhood years.

Such delightful blessings to cherish!

Brittlebush in bloom fills the desert with sunshine in the Spring

Savoring long talks with my dad,

whose sage wisdom always guides me.

Strong, sturdy Saguaro cactus

Taking long walks with my mom,

a most charming gardener who teaches me so much

about living a sweet, joyful life.

It made my heart blossom as I helped them each day,

in the smallest of ways.

It is such a blessing to be able to help my parents now…

as we spend time together.

Helping to weed, deadhead, transplant, and water

in my mom’s desert garden

reminded me of how this charming gardener

taught me to garden,

thirty years ago,

when I bought a little house

with a large, mature garden of my very own.

Ocotillo cactus blossoms

My beloved husband took care of everything here at home,

so that I could spend time with my parents.

He is one of life’s sweetest blessings!

Purple Trailing Lantana spilling over the red rocks

Brilliant blue skies, gentle breezes, and temperatures in the mid 90s

made the last days of Winter fly by much too quickly.

Just as my favorite season began,

I returned home to

the Midwest.

Today I spent hours in my own garden

(wearing a winter jacket),

as I pruned the ‘Annabelle’ Hydrangea,

cut back the remaining stems and seed heads

left standing for the birds,

and peeked at all of the new growth in my garden beds.

From across the yard, I suddenly spotted

patches of  brilliant purple!

These miniature Irises are always the first blossoms of Springtime in my garden!

What a wonderful blessing to discover

miniature Irises

and Crocuses in full bloom…

just in time for

the first days of Spring!

♥♥♥

Wishing you abundant Springtime blessings, too!

(Be sure to count them out loud!)

Choose joy!

♡ Dawn

     P.S.  Hope you will share something you are grateful for as Spring begins!

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Sweet Memories

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Hi Friends!

It happens every year! After the magic of Christmas comes a quiet week… just right for reflecting. I cherish these peaceful moments as I make time to look back over the past 366 days. Just scrolling through my iPhoto library and Camera Roll takes me right back to those small moments and special times ~ a true celebration of 2016.

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During the last week of the year, I love to set aside many hours to document our family stories in our Christmas Memories keepsake book, by Susan Branch. Each book holds five years of family traditions ~ and we are nearing the end of our second volume. (I’m so grateful to have two new copies of Christmas Memories tucked safely away to hold ten more years of memories.)  A cup of tea, soft candlelight, and the sounds of Christmas music, help me to savor and preserve our stories.

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It’s also the perfect time to reflect on the ‘One Little Word’ that has inspired me throughout the entire year.  I chose the word Blossom for 2016. (Truthfully, the word Blossom chose me!) It was my intention all year long to bravely share my handmade cards with others in the papercrafting community. There were some lovely ‘firsts’ this year… new ways to blossom!

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The wonderfully supportive papercrafting community on Instagram welcomed me with encouraging words as I blossomed throughout the year. It’s always heartwarming when other card makers and the stamp designers comment on our handmade cards.

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Monthly paper crafting ‘Crops’ have been a very special part of my blossoming throughout the year. I always pack a basket of stamps, inks, watercolor paper, and markers with great anticipation. It’s just wonderful to gather with friends on a Saturday, as we each work on our own projects together. Creative hands and kind hearts make the hours fly by. Sharing, learning from one another, and laughing together is a delight. I feel so blessed to have found my crafty ‘tribe’ this year!

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In July, I spent a creative day with papercrafters from around the globe, as we participated in the Papertrey Ink Stamp-a-Faire 2016. Inspired by the works of the The Masters throughout art history and the talented PTI Design Team, I stretched my skills immensely as I learned many new techniques. Although I worked alone in my little Paper Garden studio downstairs, it felt so great to be a part of something much bigger! Afterwards, I shared my creations as part of a Papertrey Ink Blog Hop. I cherish the sweet memories of that special day. It was a perfect way to blossom, blossom, blossom!

You can read all about it here.

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Creating cards to let loved ones know that I am thinking of them is a special passion. The time spent on each one-of-a-kind card always feels like a little visit with family and friends 🙂  Sharing handmade kindness is one small way of making a difference… and blossoming!

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Of all the books I have enjoyed this year, there are two that have truly inspired my creative journey…

both touched my heart deeply and brought tears to my eyes.

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Martha’s Vineyard ~ Isle of Dreams, the newest book in Susan Branch’s memoir trilogy, was published in Spring 2016. This handwritten, watercolored treasure takes us along as a young Susan flies away from California for a fresh start on Martha’s Vineyard, in Massachusetts. I felt so many connections as she bought a little house of her own and turned it into ‘home sweet home.’ It was truly fascinating as Susan shared her determination, hard work, and the creative path she followed as she grew into an artist and author.

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What a joy to read! So inspiring! During a tea party and book signing in May, I was so grateful for the opportunity to spend a bit of time with Susan again, and to tell her how much this book meant to me. Of all of the wonderful quotations in this book, I shared the one that inspired me the most… and Susan told me that it was her very favorite quotation, too. Kindred spirits!

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Take a peek back at some of the sweetest memories of that very special day with Susan Branch here.

If you click on the Menu bar of our blog, the Tag Cloud will lead you to many of the ways

Susan has been an inspiration in my life!

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Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert, spoke directly to my heart and inspired me to keep practicing even though creativity can feel so scary at times. I revisit so many quotations from this wonderful book often as I meander along this creative journey. 

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Take a peek at the powerful connections I felt as I read Big Magic here.

Although I am always drawn to nonfiction, every so often my heart needs a little ‘escape’ from the news of the world. That’s when I reach for a bit of fiction. Earlier this month, I really enjoyed Debbie Macomber’s new Christmas novel, Twelve Days of Christmas. It’s a delightful holiday story, with a fun blogging twist! 🙂 It is just perfect for making sweet memories…

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It’s been a very busy year of growing and blossoming!

I can’t wait to share my ‘One Little Word’ for 2017 next week.

I began listening for my new OLW in early November. Within just a few weeks, my new word found me.

If you would like to learn more about  ‘One Little Word’ and see how I have used each word, look here and here.

This will be my sixth year of setting my intentions for the New Year, using ‘One Little Word.’

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May the New Year bring you an abundance of joy…

and a grateful heart!

That’s exactly how I feel each time I read your thoughtful comments.

Heartfelt thanks for taking the time to write and share your thoughts with all of us.

With gratitude,

♡ Dawn

                       P.S.  What were your favorite books this year? We’d love to hear about the books that you loved!

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Cozy Greetings!

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Hi Friends,

Merry Christmas Eve!  Happy Hanukkah!  Just popping in to wish everyone a wonderful holiday as you celebrate in your own special ways. We are delighted to have family visiting us on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day for a cozy, old-fashioned Christmas here at home. Faraway family will join us via Skype ~ so we can all be together both days!

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Wishing all of our dear friends and lovely blog friends a merry, little Christmas…

from the bottom of my heart!

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May your Christmas be seasoned with love

and your New Year be filled

with the blessings of

good health, dear family, and treasured friendships!

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Where are you celebrating the holidays this year?

Cherish the small moments!

Warm, cozy hugs!

♡ Dawn

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Picking Daisies

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Hi Friends!

Waiting in line has never been my ‘cup of tea,’ but this afternoon it felt different.

For I was waiting patiently in line, in my Daisy patch… behind all of the pollinators hard at work.

Slowly I inched my way into the large clump of Daisies, alongside the busy, little bees.

My morning work was finished, and my happy reward was picking Daisies.

Fresh picked Daisies, white Anemones, and Anemone seed heads

Fresh picked Daisies, white Anemones, and spent Anemone seed heads

As I waited for each little pollinator to move on, I began to count the blessings that the garden brought me this week. One-by-one, as I snipped each ‘He loves me’ Daisy, I remembered those sweet, heartwarming moments…

⚛ On Tuesday morning, as I was cutting the grass, our lawnmower stopped. Only halfway through the front yard, I tried and tried to restart the engine to no avail. David, a landscaper hard-at-work in a nearby yard, noticed my dilemma and came to the rescue. From his truck, he produced oil, a new spark plug, and his tools. Right there, in the middle of his busy morning, he adjusted the carburetor, and was able to start my lawnmower one more time. The kindness of a stranger had saved the day and I worked quickly to finish my job! (Shhhhh! I have a ‘thank you’ gift to leave in David’s truck when he comes to work in the neighborhood this week!)

⚛ Later that afternoon, while I was working in the garden, our neighbor, Jim, walked up. He had seen the lawn mower problem that morning, and ever-so-kindly offered to put the lawnmower into his truck and take it to a trusted repair shop. Now the repairman is trying so hard to work his magic, and then Jim will pick it up again with his truck. The kindness of a young neighbor (with a truck) is always so appreciated!

Raindrops on pink Clematis and Peony blossoms

Raindrops on Clematis and Peony blossoms

⚛ On Thursday morning, as I weeded the front garden beds, two lovely ladies stopped to chat as they walked past the garden. It was fun to talk with Susan, as we shared our tried-and-true tips for avoiding mosquito bites in the garden. A bit later, Devi stopped to introduce herself. She is a sweet, retired teacher, new to the neighborhood. It was such fun to tell her about our wonderful library and all that it offers! I invited her to step through the arbor to see my Friendship Garden in the backyard. Gardening always seems to invite the nicest passersby to stop and talk. It’s one of nature’s best kept secrets!

⚛ On Thursday afternoon, Elena stopped to visit. Since the day she was born, I have enjoyed watching her grow and blossom. She shared the exciting news that she now has a home of her own. Instantly, I offered to dig up perennials for her very first garden. So, plans are underway! It always warms my heart to share my garden and the gift of gardening with friends. Two other special friends, Hollice and Maria, will also come to dig up perennials to start gardens for their new homes this summer.

'Garden Grow' collage

Supplies used: Altenew ‘Garden Grow’ stamp set, Canson watercolor paper, Versafine Onyx Black pigment ink, Zig Clean Color Real Brush markers, paintbrush, water, and Post-It notes for masking images.

⚛ Saturday brought the blessing of gentle showers all day long. So, I happily spent many hours in my ‘Paper Garden’ studio downstairs. It was such fun to experiment with the Altenew ‘Garden Grow’ stamp set, creating masks to design some little garden vignettes. As I watercolored the images, using Zig Clean Color Real Brush markers, I thought about special friends who could use a bit of cheer. Soon these images will become the focal points on handmade cards. Creative time adds sunshine to the rainiest of days!

Yellow Iris and Victoria Blue Salvia

Yellow Iris and Victoria Blue Salvia, after the rain

Picking Daisies this afternoon truly did feel like an exhilarating tonic for the soul!

As the sun shone down upon the blossoms,

I slowed down to nature’s pace and took time to reflect.

So many blessings from the garden brought unexpected joys to these early June days.

Sometimes… waiting in line can be blessing, too!

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Thank you so much for picking Daisies with me today.

Your visits and comments are such a joy!

Happy Springtime days!

♡ Dawn

P.S.  What unexpected joys blessed you this past week?

A Wee Bit o’ Green…

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Hi Friends!

‘Twas a lucky morn here!

As the rain showers ended, the birds began to sing so loudly,

as if to share the happy news…

I grabbed my denim jacket and headed out for my morning walk through the garden

observing the quick growth of foliage, in so many shades of green.

I have been checking the garden each day for a week or so.

Today was different ~ a wee bit o’ green and purple!

Oh, my heart! The first Springtime blossoms were open!

Miniature irises were in full bloom

and crocuses were just unfurling their petals.

Daffodils will add sunshine to the garden any day now.

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It’s still too early to uncover our Midwest garden beds

from their crunchy, leafy confetti

here in USDA Zone 5.

Snowflakes are predicted this weekend.

(We have memories of one late March snowstorm of 16 inches!)

While we wait, we enjoy our favorite garden books and magazines

and dream our garden dreams…

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Our Conservatory, in a nearby park,

is a lovely oasis

filled with sunshine

and

wee bits o’ green.

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It’s the perfect place to pause and reflect…

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I have been feeling so lucky

(and by lucky, I mean blessed beyond measure!)

for all of the special people in my life.

YOU are one of them!

♥♥♥

Thank you so much for stopping to visit today.

Wishing you lucky days, too!

(‘A Wee Bit o’ Green’ ~ all supplies by Stampin’ Up)

Erin Go Bragh!

♡Dawn

P.S.  What’s blooming in your neighborhood and your garden this week?

Joyful

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Hi Friends,

 

Just the other day, I spent some time in our lovely conservatory in a nearby park.

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It is an oasis of calm, peace, and quiet beauty.

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As I admired the stunning Chrysanthemums 

in the Thanksgiving flower show,

each of you

were on my mind.

I was counting my blessings…

and they numbered more than the flower petals.

So I ‘picked’ a few of my favorites… just for you!

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Our little blog has become such a special

gathering place

of kindred spirits.

It fills my heart with

joy

when I think about all of us…

sharing, reminiscing, celebrating,

encouraging, learning and growing

together.

♥♥♥

Whether we are much-loved family,

 dearest old friends,

exciting new friends,

wonderful blog friends,

or quiet friends that I have not met yet,

it fills my heart with so much

gratitude

that we take a bit of time

to gather here.

♥♥♥

Wherever you live in the world,

may you make this a time of Thanksgiving.

Take time every day to count your blessings out loud.

It is gratitude that makes us joyful!

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Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

So thankful that you are here today!

Warm hugs!

♡ Dawn

Desert Delights…

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Hi Friends!

One might think that having lunch with a Roadrunner would be the highlight of any day,

but our afternoon was even more memorable!

Recently, while exploring the Tonto National Forest, in southern Arizona,

we were drawn to so many beautiful oases in the desert.

I can’t wait to take you to two of my perennial favorites!

We seek out these breathtaking oases each time we visit our family nearby.

♥♥♥

Come join us!

For our afternoon hike, you will need:

sturdy shoes, a hat, water bottle, sunscreen,…

and you might want to bring your camera along, too.  ☺

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Follow me…. but watch your step!

Tonto National Forest, with Four Peaks in the background

Tonto National Forest, with Four Peaks in the background

Don’t worry. I have been here many times.

We won’t get lost.

Let’s begin our hike at the trail head, and walk down

to a beautiful oasis.

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The lower Salt River winds its way through the Tonto National Forest.

The Salt River provides a lush green oasis

in the midst of the harsh Sonoran desert.

People love to fish, canoe, and hike here.

Turn around, very s-l-o-w-l-y.

You will see the reason that I come

to this breathtaking oasis!

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These mountains bring tears to my eyes

every time I hike here.

I stand here in awe… fully mindful and present.

My worries seem small whenever I stand in this beautiful place.

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The Salt River is low at this time of year.

We can walk out onto the river bed.

I just love to look at the river rocks,

worn smooth over time.

During the summer months, when a nearby dam is opened,

the Salt River grows much wider and deeper.

The river flows over the

rocks where we are standing.

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Saguaro Lake, with 22 miles of shoreline, is actually a reservoir. It was created when the Stewart Mountain Dam was built on the Salt River in 1930.

Just a short drive brings us to our next

beautiful oasis.

Saguaro Lake is a sparkling gem in the desert!

It is very popular with boaters.

Visitors can cruise the lake on the Desert Belle tour boat,

and enjoy a wonderful meal on the patio of the marina,

overlooking Saguaro Lake.

It’s so hard to believe that this beautiful lake

is surrounded by the wild desert!

We love to come to the lake

for a picnic breakfast

at sunrise,

and we are not the only ones…  ☺

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It’s mid-afternoon already, but our hike continues.

The best is yet to come!

We can find the trail head for

my favorite place to hike

at Saguaro Lake,

 just past Butcher Jones Beach.

This trail is very uneven,

as it meanders along the water’s edge.

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Peregrine Point, along the trail at Butcher Jones Recreation Site

Be very careful, as we walk up along this narrow, winding trail.

I am always so amazed to see

these giant Saguaros

growing at the edge of this lovely lake,

named in their honor!

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I always stop to take in all of the unique beauty

of this special place,

where the water and the desert come together

side-by-side.

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We can hike quite a distance, before the trail becomes much too rugged for me.

Then we will just turn around and retrace our steps.

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Oh, how I love this very spot!   ↑

Calm.   Peace.    Solace.

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Looking across the lower Salt River to Red Mountain.  The mountain is on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Native American land.

Driving south along the lower Salt River,

we always stop here to admire Red Mountain.

Seeing this beautiful mountain

always means we are

very close

to

the dearest part

of the Arizona desert…

my parents!

We were here celebrating their birthdays,

 making wonderful family memories,

and counting our blessings.

♥♥♥

Thank you so much for hiking with us today!

I appreciate the time you spend visiting and truly love your comments.

Hoping you will find solace in nature this week…

Sending sunshine!

♡ Dawn