Garden ‘Surprise’ Party!

Hi Friends!

It feels just like a garden ‘party’ here in the Midwest ~ a bit of a ‘surprise’ party! These party plans seem to have been underway since February, when we had a stretch of unseasonably warm days. Shortly thereafter, gardeners began to notice foliage emerging from our sleepy, leaf-covered garden beds. I remember taking walks through my garden in late February and early March whispering, “Slow down. It’s much too early.”

Our garden party guests might be feeling confused, as well. Migratory birds and other wildlife have been caught by surprise. This week, I noticed a robin finishing her nest under the eaves, with a southern exposure. The University of Illinois Extension reports that plant growth is 15-20 days ahead of schedule in our area. By tracking growing degree days (GDD), researchers confirm that we are well ahead of normal. Insect populations are making an early appearance. Dandelions have already been in bloom for two weeks. Our usual gardenkeeping tasks seem completely off-schedule this Spring.

My Garden Joys 2017  journal has been capturing the memories of our early garden ‘surprise’ party!

Throughout April, I’ve been extra busy making changes to our front yard as I continue to ‘right-size’ our perennial gardens. A few weeks ago, I decided to eliminate an old stone planter that was a part of this garden long before I moved here. Over the past thirty years, I have enjoyed creating many different plant combinations in the old stone planter. Now it was time to carefully move many of the perennials to other garden beds and compost the rest. (It’s never easy to say goodbye, so I had to keep repeating the mantra ~ “These are not children or pets.’ ) In my heart, I knew that I was doing the right thing… and I always listen to my heart!

Fortunately, I saved many of the loose bricks to use in the backyard. I think they should have a place of honor in our ‘History Garden,’ near our 1922 garage. Using all of my strength, I just couldn’t budge the remaining bricks. So, we called our favorite Handyman, who came with his sledge hammer. What a job! He discovered three layers of stone and slate in the foundation beneath the soil. A very talented Mason had done an excellent job of building the stone planter so long ago!

Next, we hired three strong landscapers to carry the stones to their heavy duty truck and haul them to a business for recycling. We planted grass seed in its place. Now there will be a bit more to mow, but a lot less to weed. 🙂 It felt so great to cross this garden project off my l-o-n-g ‘To Do’ list early in the season!

Some of my most treasured memories are the years that our stone planter was filled with old-fashioned Hollyhocks, in the loveliest colors. They often grew taller than me! I’ll always remember collecting the Hollyhock seeds to make little packets of ‘Seeds of Friendship’ as small tokens of gratitude for our wedding shower. It was such a small way to share the abundance of my garden with special friends.  One summer, the hungry neighborhood groundhogs kept munching on the tops of each Hollyhock stem. That year, we had ‘miniature’ Hollyhocks, only 12 inches tall, in full bloom! Passersby would often stop to comment on our tiny Hollyhocks and I would always share our groundhog tales with them. Ahhh… the garden memories that filled our stone planter over the years!

This week, it was so surprising to see what was blooming in my garden each day! ⇧ We truly are weeks ahead of our typical bloom times. So, I’m scurrying to keep up with our garden ‘surprise’ party this Spring!  The Herb & Tea Garden beds no longer have their warm blanket of leaves. Along the insides of the white picket fence, my favorite, old-fashioned perennials are thriving in this Spring garden party.  The Bleeding Hearts, Cranesbill Geranium, and Anemones are in full bloom and the Coral Bells and Peonies already have buds.

I spent a recent afternoon tidying up the potting bench in the garage.  The garden tools and flower pots are ready and waiting. After I washed the window curtains above the potting bench, I made a simple bunting with flower seed packets. Doesn’t bunting make every surprise party more festive?  🙂

The past two weekends we enjoyed surprising summer-like temperatures just right for some nice, long walks. Last Saturday, we took a late afternoon walk through lovely Lilacia Park. This treasure has over 700 Lilacs and 25,000 Tulips ~ all blooming several weeks early. Instead of a quiet walk amongst the fragrant blossoms, we were surprised to find several wedding parties and crowds of Senior prom dates and their families enjoying the colorful garden party. So festive!

This weekend, however, we are staying cozy and warm inside. Mother Nature has surprised us again! This afternoon our temperatures are in the upper 30s. April showers, along with high winds, thunderstorms, and excessive rainfall totals all weekend are ending the month with more surprises

We wonder what the merry, merry month of May will bring…

What’s blooming in your garden or nearby park this week?

Have you noticed any garden surprises this month?

Enjoy the small wonders in each day!

♡ Dawn

P.S.  Thank you so much for taking the time to visit today. Hope you will join in the conversation…

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A Sense of Wonder

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Hi Friends!

New beginnings ~ I have always loved them! Whether it is the beginning of a new school year or a brand new year, I am always excited by 365 new opportunities to learn and grow! Sometimes, all of this newness can feel a bit scary or intimidating. Having a thoughtful plan, though, can help new beginnings feel joyful!

For each of the past five years, I have chosen ‘One Little Word’ to guide me along this path of learning and growing. What a difference it has made for me each year! In late November, I began listening closely to my heart so that I could choose OLW for 2017.  Within a few weeks, my word ‘chose’ me.  As I was reading, one word jumped right off the page and into my heart! At that very moment, I knew that this was the word to guide me through the new year. I didn’t tell anyone… I just let this word settle into my soul. It felt perfect! As we rang in the New Year, I celebrated my new ‘One Little Word’ 2017! With paper and ink, I created bunting, a card, a bookmark, and a magnet to keep my word visible each day. Now it’s time to share… 

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Family and friends have watched and encouraged as I have followed my creative heart in my Renaissance (the ‘R’ word that I use for my Retirement). So, now it’s time to take the next step ~ one that feels so important to me. My ‘One Little Word’ will help me in so many ways…

nourish

   1.   to sustain with food or nutrient;

                                           supply with what is necessary for life, health, and growth

     2.   to cherish, foster, keep alive, etc.

          3.   to strengthen, build up, or promote

Source: Dictionary.com

Throughout my entire life, I have always been a “Work before play” kind of person. This philosophy served me very well throughout my career. A few years into my Renaissance now, it is time to make a change.  It is my intention to prioritize my creative time, downstairs in my Paper Garden studio. Rather than taking care of our home and garden first, often feeling uninspired to be creative later in the day, I am planning to take time in the morning to be creative! Mornings were just made for paper, inks, stamps, paints, brushes, and being messy in my Paper Garden studio! 

Fortunately, I have found the most wonderful book to guide me as I nourish my creative side!

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The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron, has been inspiring creative souls for twenty-five years. It has been on my reading list for a very long time. As I shopped for the book last Fall, I discovered that the author has a newly published version of The Artist’s Way Program for Retirees and Other Creative Souls, called It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again.  It holds so much inspiration to nourish my creative path! I’m already on my way…

It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again is

a step-by-step, twelve-week program with four basic tools:

Morning Pages (daily)

Artist Dates (once a week)

Memoir (weekly, with five tasks)

Walking (twice a week)

So, I’m excited share a bit about the ways I have been nourishing my creative side this week…

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I’ve always loved writing, so Morning Pages are becoming a part of my early morning routine. Filling three pages, in longhand, with my morning thoughts has been quite pleasurable ~ and powerful!  For quite a while, I have been thinking about ways to bring more creative time into my day. While writing my thoughts on January 1st, I actually formulated a real plan. The slow, thoughtful process of writing can be a beneficial way of problem-solving, setting intentions, voicing worries, and putting dreams into action.

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Since this whole process feels like a wonderful gift to myself, I am writing Morning Pages in my nice handwriting (just as I do when I write cards to loved ones). Soft music and a cup of tea accompany me as I write. It takes time and my hand feels tired, but so far I am enjoying it immensely! Julia Cameron reminds us not to share our Morning Pages with anyone, so my husband understands that he cannot peek.  🙂

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On Wednesday morning, I planned my very first Artist Date.  I bundled in layers to protect me from the -8 F windchill and headed off to a tropical paradise ~ a very large Orchid grower’s greenhouses! It is one of my favorite places to visit each winter. Since we are having such a frigid week here, it was the perfect way to combine my Walking in nature with an Artist Date.

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At first, my focus was on Walking throughout the 150,000 square feet of greenhouses. Julia Cameron encourages two 20-minute walks each week, without a companion, phone, or even a pet. It is a time for quiet thinking and observing.

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Then it was time to begin my first Artist Date. Rather than focusing on the names of each variety of Orchid, my attention was drawn to the colors and patterns in the blossoms and foliage. As I meandered, I found colors just like the inks on my studio desk ~ Spiced Marmalade, Picked Raspberry, Scattered Straw, and Worn Lipstick distress inks, and Blushing Bride, Daffodil Delight, Wild Wasabi, Elegant Eggplant, and Gumball Green dye inks.

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These graceful orchid forms will truly inspire my stamped and watercolor floral designs and layouts.

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Julia Cameron encourages each Artist Date to be thoughtfully planned in advance. One must go alone, rather than invite a friend. This intentional, mindful tool benefits our creativity and independence as we visit inspiring places of interest. I have a growing list of places for my weekly Artist Date ~ old favorites and new adventures!

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I have always wanted to write Memoir and have even participated in a Memoir workshop in the past. So, I am really looking forward to filling my new Memoir Journal with treasured memories! Each week, Julia Cameron assigns five different writing tasks around a weekly theme. Our first week’s theme for our writing prompts is “A Sense of Wonder.” 

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Each week, my Memoir writing will focus on a five-year span of my life. In our first week, we are writing about discoveries, cherished memories, and surprising connections from birth through age five. What fun to read through my Baby Book (Thanks, Mom!!) and reminisce with old photo albums! I’m going to love, love, love this walk down memory lane… and can’t wait to see what connections and discoveries are made! It’s just exactly the inspiration I need as I nourish and rekindle my love of scrapbooking!

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Adding The Artist’s Way tools to my very busy life will be both challenging and exciting. It will most certainly nourish my creative heart and soul in unknown ways! Since my days are so full already, I plan to stretch out The Artist’s Way a bit longer than twelve weeks. I truly want to savor each weekly theme (Purpose, Joy, Vitality, Connection, Motion, Adventure,…) as I learn and grow on my creative path this year.  I will be enjoying mornings in my Paper Garden studio, too! ♥♥

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Do any of The Artist’s Way tools sound interesting to you?

If any of our kindred spirits would also like to take this creative journey this year,

I would love to connect and quietly share our discoveries! (Just contact me through ‘Say Hello’ on the blog.)

Please let me know, in the comments, if you would like to read a few blog updates

as I travel along The Artist’s Way!

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Thanks so much for being a part of my creative journey!

Warmest hugs!

♡ Dawn

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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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Garden Inspiration…

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Hi Friends!

One thing leads to another!
Has this ever happened to you?

Over the past few weeks,

I’ve often thought of the charming, children’s book,

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. (Take a moment to enjoy the read-aloud here!)

Today’s post, inspired by Laura Numeroff’s sweet, children’s book,

offers a peek into the unexpected activity in my garden over the past few weeks…

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If you give a gardener…

a wonderfully written and illustrated book,

Homegrown Tea ~ An Illustrated Guide to Planting, Harvesting, and Blending Teas and Tisanes

by Cassie Liversidge,

it will quickly become one of her very favorite books about growing herbs and teas.

As she reads, she will decide…

to move the Monarda (also called Bergamot or Bee Balm) from her Butterfly Garden

back to her Herb & Tea Garden, where it grew many years earlier.

She will realize that she doesn’t really need a small Butterfly Garden bed,

when her entire yard is a butterfly garden!

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After she transplants the Monarda to the ‘heart of her garden,’

she will decide…

to move her favorite, old-fashioned flowers from her Cutting Garden,

to the inside of her Herb & Tea Garden,

along the white picket fence

(built with love).

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How sweet it will be to tend the fragrant herbs,

surrounded by Bleeding Hearts, Hydrangea, Coreopsis, Black-eyed Susans, Coral Bells,

Speedwell, Obedient Plant, and Phlox!

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As she moves these perennials,

she will realize…

 that she really doesn’t need a Cutting Garden bed,

next to the deck, near the towering pine trees,

because over the years

her entire garden has grown into a cutting garden!

Each morning, she happily fills vases of flowers to bring the beauty of the garden inside.

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On those hot, humid days that aren’t suitable for digging in the garden,

she will dream her garden dreams…

with paper, ink, stamps, and watercolors

in her little Paper Garden studio.

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What fun to design tiny gardens, using Art Impressions Watercolor stamps! (Bee skep is from a vintage Stampin’ Up set.)

While she creates little gardens on paper,

she will decide…

that it would be fun to grow tall, colorful blossoms

along both sides of her white, garden arbor,

where the pink and purple Clematis bloom.

So…

when the days are a bit more comfortable,

she will spend hours and hours…

digging out patches of Daylilies,

day after day,

to make her garden dreams come true.

She will move beautiful Phlox that were already growing in the yard

when she bought her little bungalow 29 years ago.

They were such a lovely gift

left by those who gardened here

long before her

and are a very special part of the history of

her beloved, 94-year-old cottage garden.

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Patches of pink, white, and purple Phlox,

spiky purple Obedient Plant,

and delicate, pink Coral Bells

will welcome visitors who step through the arbor,

and follow the flagstone path to the Herb & Tea Garden.

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So, the happy gardener will…

stay busy as a bee

in her cottage garden

digging, transplanting, mulching,

and

‘watercoloring’ with perennials

as the late Summer days

turn to early Autumn.

What a joy it will be to watch her ‘new’ old-fashioned garden emerge in the Springtime!

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If you give a gardener…

a wonderful book to read,

the seeds of inspiration will grow!

♥♥♥

It has been a true joy to find so much inspiration

in my summer reading…

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and I have lots more to share!

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I’m so happy that you stopped to visit today!

What books have inspired you most this summer?

Hope you will leave a comment to share with us…

Wishing you lots of happy!

♡ Dawn

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A Desert Dream-Come-True!

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Hi Friends!

What an amazing surprise we had on our recent visit to Arizona! Every year, in March or April, I love to spend  Spring Break visiting family in the Phoenix area. During my very first visit, over twenty-five years ago, I fell in love with the majestic Saguaro cactus. These beautiful giants only grow in the Sonoran Desert. Each time we hike in the desert, I always make the very same wish!  Wouldn’t it be wonderful to see my favorite cactus in bloom ~ just once in my lifetime?

The Saguaro typically blooms in May and June. Those are always busy months in my Midwest garden. I just love to be home tending my perennial and herb gardens in late Spring and early Summer. This Spring Break was a truly memorable one! Following a warmer Winter season in the desert, the Saguaro cacti are in bloom earlier than ever this year. So, we were able to enjoy these special blossoms for the very first time!

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We chose one of our favorite hiking places, the Usery Mountain Regional Park, to soak in all of the beauty of the Saguaros in bloom.  Ranger Brennan shared so much fascinating information about the Saguaros, along with great tips for the best hiking trails to see these long-awaited blossoms.  While the Saguaro flowers are usually very high on these tall cacti, Ranger B. told us to look for a Saguaro that had been touched by the frost, making one arm droop much lower.  If we could find one, we would have a chance to enjoy these special flowers at eye level. (Special thanks, Ranger B, for all the great tips!) Off we hiked, camera in hand, to make my dream come true!

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A Saguaro cactus must be at least 50 years old to make flowers. Production from bud to flower takes 10-14 days, depending upon the elevation and temperature in the desert. One Saguaro produces an average of 295 flowers, blooming two or three at a time, throughout May and June. Saguaros have a reproductive lifespan of over 100 years.

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The waxy, white, trumpet-shaped Saguaro flowers are about 3 inches (8cm) in diameter. Each flower lasts less than 24 hours. The flower blooms at night and closes by mid-afternoon. Since the pollen is large and heavy, the Saguaro flower cannot be pollinated by the wind. Saguaros have a very short time to attract pollinators!

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The Saguaros’ bloom time matches the northern migration time of their pollinators. The flowers are well-suited to the bats that come to pollinate the flowers at night. Rich in nectar, the strong flowers can withstand the bats’ weight. They bloom high above the ground near the bats’ flight path, and the blossoms emit a strong fragrance so that they are easy to locate in the dark.

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Saguaros continue to produce nectar in the morning and early afternoon. So, honey bees and birds come to pollinate the flowers during the day. The white-winged doves migrate from Mexico just in time for the Saguaro bloom in Arizona each year.

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As we hiked, we were overjoyed to find one Saguaro with a low-drooping arm. This was our chance to view the state flower of Arizona at eye level. What an amazing opportunity for a little ‘Morning Science’ lesson of our own!

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The droopy arm of the cactus was growing up toward the sun, with about 20 large buds. Earlier in the day, Ranger B. told us that he has even seen Saguaro cacti laying dead on the ground, with one arm still blooming prolifically! A dead cactus uses its stored moisture to nourish the flower blossoms. (Contrary to popular belief, the water stored in the Saguaro cactus is undrinkable and mildly toxic for humans.)

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Up close, the Saguaro flowers were all abuzz with pollinators. We had to wait in line for our chance to examine the blossom. It was such a thrill to touch the thick, waxy flower! We observed its center filled with yellow pollen. We could also see fruit beginning to form nearby.

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After the flowers are pollinated, they mature into ripe, red fruit. In June, a red ring first appears around the top of the growing Saguaro fruit. Soon the entire fruit ripens, splitting open to reveal its juicy, red pulp. Each Saguaro fruit contains up to 2,000 small, black seeds. This occurs during the driest time of the year, when rain has not fallen for over 100 days. So the ripe fruit will provide much-needed moisture and food for many desert creatures. Finches, woodpeckers, doves, and bats find nourishment from the fruits at the top of the Saguaro.  Javelinas, coyotes, and other desert mammals come to feed on the fallen fruit. Many people also enjoy eating the Saguaro fruit!

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The Native American, Tohono O’odham people have always harvested the Saguaro fruit. They continue this important tradition today. Using long poles, often made from Saguaro ribs, they pick the ripe fruit. June is the time when the Tohono O’odham people celebrate the beginning of summer and the new growing season. To bring rain, they drink a fermented juice, made from the bright, red fruit. (To watch a fascinating video about harvesting Saguaro fruit, click here.)

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What a wonderful, dream-come-true hike in the desert!

We feel so blessed to have experienced

this amazing bouquet of desert beauty up close.

(Hmmm…  I wonder what the Saguaro fruit tastes like?

Perhaps we can taste it on our next visit to the Sonoran desert!)

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Thanks so much for walking through the desert with us.

I have two other beautiful places to share soon.

Each time we visit Arizona, there are always exciting, new discoveries awaiting!

Sending sunshine!

♡Dawn

           P.S.   What interesting flower have you dreamed of seeing one day?

 

Spark Joy

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Hi Friends!

Brrrrrr! In the Midwest, March certainly “roared in like a lion” yesterday bringing sleet and snow. This morning we woke up to bright sunshine and single-digit temperatures. More snow is on the way tomorrow. By this time of year, I always take Shelley’s quote to heart. These words, carefully stitched and framed, are hanging near the back door, to warm our hearts as we head out into the cold!

I’m so happy to welcome all of the new ‘kindred spirits’ who have begun following our blog over the past few weeks! There is so much to see hidden behind the slide-out sidebar. (Just click near the top of the orange bar). Brew a warm cup of tea and spend some cozy moments exploring the blog archives and the tag cloud. I hope you will find something to warm your heart and make you smile!

Life has slowed down considerably during the past few weeks due to a lengthy illness. Doctor’s visits seem to be my only adventures lately. I have been following doctor’s orders to the letter hoping to feel better very soon. While resting, I have enjoyed lots of extra reading time. I couldn’t wait to share a few thoughts about a new book…

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After reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up last summer, I eagerly awaited Marie Kondo’s follow-up book, Spark Joy. Fortunately, our library ordered several copies hot off the press in January. As I read, I searched for tips to recharge the next phase of my own Tidying Up celebration.

I will always cherish KonMari’s philosophy of Tidying Up, so wonderfully explained in her first book. KonMari’s new book, Spark Joy, added a few more tips that will be helpful as I finish tidying up komono (miscellaneous items) in the kitchen and two more closets. The biggest challenge of the Tidying Up celebration is always saved for last ~ deciding which sentimental items to keep. Armed with another dose of KonMari’s motivation and tips, I’m ready to take on the next part of my celebration!

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 As I read, I made note of a few of KonMari’s tips from Spark Joy that truly resonated with me. As I put her ideas into practice, I would love to share them with you. It was very interesting to read how KonMari has mellowed in her Tidying Up instructions, since getting married and the birth of her daughter. While staying true to her philosophy of having only those items that spark joy in your home, Spark Joy feels more realistic for today’s busy, complicated lifestyles.

Last Autumn, I enjoyed Tidying Up clothing and books. It was surprisingly easy to decide which items to keep! As I held each item in my hands, I could feel those that sparked joy in my heart. The paperwork category was much harder to tidy up. First, I stopped to do a bit of research to be sure that I was saving all of the necessary financial, household, and insurance papers. It was more of a challenge to feel the joy, as I began shredding papers from the file cabinets. (Honestly, there is still a bit of shredding to finish up!) I’m taking it slowly, against KonMari’s advice to work quickly. ‘Better safe than sorry’ when it comes to shredding!

I intentionally planned an extra-long break from my Tidying celebration throughout the holiday season. Although KonMari’s method of working by category is brilliant, it does create a huge mess while working through the process! Be mindful of this fact if you are planning a Tidying Up celebration of your own. In fact, in Spark Joy, KonMari says that as long as you apply the basics, it’s okay to do your own unique version of Tidying Up.

I’m still very enthusiastic about the process! Although I have had to slow down for the past few weeks, it is my intention to complete my once-in-a-lifetime Tidying Up celebration before the garden wakes up. I’m already looking forward to the next get-together of our little ‘Spark Joy’ club. We are a group of dear friends who live locally and enjoy getting together to encourage one another in this adventure. We always have such funny stories to share about Tidying Up!

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Yesterday, inspired by Marie Kondo’s thoughts on “becoming a person who matches the books you’ve kept,” I took a peek at some of the books that spark joy that I kept in my book collection…

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Most of my treasured books are nonfiction. On cold winter days, what could be more fun than reading gardening books and dreaming garden dreams?

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I’m truly passionate about growing perennials and herbs. Thoughts of spending hours tending the plants in my white picket fence herb garden warm my heart all winter long. I can still remember the day I bought The Pleasure of Herbs, while visiting a dear friend in Minnesota. From the moment I opened that book, I knew that herbs would always be a very special part of my garden!

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Although I don’t plant a vegetable garden, these are a few of the cookbooks that inspire recipes with fresh, organic ingredients. The Produce Bible is a great reference, filled with wonderful tips.  Tasha Tudor has always been one of my gardening inspirations.

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This stack of books feels right at home on a table beside my rocking chair. It is filled with inspiration for simple gatherings with family and friends, gardening, and lovely watercolors from nature.

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This small stack of books holds an antique lamp, on a tiny table beside the sofa in the living room. I enjoy reading these books often, choosing recipes for tea parties. Small gatherings of kindred spirits sharing tea make such special memories! Tea for two is my very favorite way to stay close to dear friends.

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Oh, my heart! Most of my friends know that Susan Branch has been my inspiration since her very first book was published. This is just part of my most favorite book collection of all. Heart of the Home will always be an extra-special book. I bought it for my mom when it was first published. She enjoyed it for so many years, and then gifted it back to me! I have given Susan’s books as gifts so often. Whenever I am antiquing, I always look for out-of-print Susan Branch books for special gifts. Such serendipity to find just the right book for a special friend!

Next month, Susan’s newest book, Martha’s Vineyard ~ Isle of Dreams, will arrive in the mail. It’s such a thrill every time a new book is published! I’m sure this will be my very favorite book of all. It is Part Two of Susan’s handlettered, watercolored memoir. I just can’t wait to read all about how she bought a little home of her own, planted a garden, grew as an artist, and met the love of her life! Kindreds to be sure!! I’m simply thrilled to enjoy Afternoon Tea with Susan Branch again in May, at a large tea party and book signing in her honor! Such a fan girl!

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My books most definitely reflect the person I aspire to be!

They spark joy in my life… and inspire me to ‘blossom’ every day!

♥♥♥

I’d love to hear about the most special books in your collection!

Perhaps we share some of the same favorites, as kindred spirits often do…

Happy Reading!

♡ Dawn

P.S.  Heartfelt thanks for all of the beautiful cards, phone calls, and emails! Your friendships have truly warmed my heart and brightened my days! ♡♡

 

A Lifetime of Learning and Growing

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Hi Friends!

Thankfully, some things never change…

“What one loves in childhood

stays in the heart forever.”

~Mary Jo Putney

Sweet memories of our weekly visits to the library as a child still warm my heart. I would thoughtfully choose an armful of books to check out, and couldn’t wait to begin reading them. I hugged them tightly, like treasures, while sitting in the backseat on the ride home from the library. I would often stay up late reading, with my book and a flashlight hidden beneath the blankets.

I’m so grateful that my mother shared her love of reading with me!  Each afternoon, when I came home from school, it was so comforting to see my mom sitting in her favorite chair quietly reading as she waited for us. Although the print is a bit larger now, my mom continues to be an avid reader. Whenever I visit, it’s such a comfort to see her reading in her favorite chair. Readers raise readers.

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A few childhood favorites

One of my greatest joys in life has been sharing my love of reading with my young students over the years. Gathering them close to read aloud. Helping them to discover that reading is thinking. Reading books by our ‘Author of the Month’ and celebrating with lively book discussions during our monthly ‘Author’s Lunch’ gatherings helped them blossom.  Watching my students grow into real readers, with favorite authors, and a wish list of books to read was so exciting. Several students dreamed of becoming authors when they grew up. When they write letters to me, from middle school, high school, or the university, they are still eager to share what books they are reading now. Readers raise readers.

One of the blessings of my ‘Renaissance’ (the special ‘R’ word that I use for retirement) is the wonderful gift of time spent at our public library. Our library is the heartbeat of our community and encourages lifelong learning in so many exciting ways!

It’s always so nice to visit the Children’s Library to see young children and their parents engaged in reading together. Early Literacy activities and reading celebrations help our young readers discover the joys of reading. Special areas of the library have also been designed for Middle School students, and Teens.  There is so much to learn here at the library!

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Our library is just over ten years old.

The original library had outgrown its space in a historic mansion in the park.

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I will always remember Opening Day at the new library!  All of the books had already been moved and organized in the new building. There was just one book remaining in the old library. Avid readers, young and old, gathered to form a human chain from the old library building, across the park, to our new library. We passed the last book, hand to hand, across the park to its home in our new library. What a moment… and a special celebration of the joy of reading!

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Nonfiction books are always my favorite genre.

I’m passionate about learning, growing, and blossoming in new ways.

Just walking through the door of the library fills me with a sense of discovery!

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The ‘Travel Center’ is a wonderful resource for vacation planning…

and armchair travelers, too.

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There is so much creative inspiration everywhere at the library!

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At the ‘Culinary Cupboard,’ library patrons can borrow specialty baking pans for one week.

Perhaps it’s time to plan a party!

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Our library offers so many interesting programs and classes each month. Last week, I attended three different technology classes and began learning Tai Chi, in evening classes at the library. In fact, the library is where I learned how to write our blog!

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You can see  a tiny sampling of the diverse classes coming up at the library. I have enjoyed classes in photography, memoir writing, watercolor painting, flower arranging, and so many other creative interests. This weekend, papercrafters will gather for our first  ‘Crop’ event at the library.  I’m really looking forward to an entire day of creativity, fun, and friendship!

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Over the years, many things have changed…

Our library has continued to evolve with the changing times. Now we visit the library to access computer databases for research or genealogy. We use scanners at the library to digitize our old family slides for memory keeping. Some people come to use the 3-D printer, the Study Rooms, the Creative Studio Lab, or the Gathering Room.  A variety of clubs attract people who love to read, cook, sew, blog, converse in a foreign language, travel, meditate, play games, or do genealogy. Our librarians and library staff  share so many of their specialized talents with all of us.  We feel so fortunate to take an active part in this learning community!

There is something for everyone at the library.

It’s a wonderful place to meet friendly people who share the same interests!

Readers often enjoy a quiet place near the fireplace,

with a hot drink, and a good book, newspaper, or magazine.

The library feels like a calm, peaceful oasis on a cold winter’s day!

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Thankfully, some things never change.

I still love to come home with an armful of interesting books…

and I can’t wait to get started reading them!

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What are your favorite ways to use your public library?

How has your library changed over the years?

Happy Reading!

♡ Dawn