‘Perennials’ in Bloom

Hi Friends!

The month of May has been a whirlwind of activity here, both in and out of the garden. All month long, however, a certain word has been on my mind. Each time I think of this word, it just lifts my spirits and makes me smile!

I first read this ‘new’ word, in a place where I always find wonderful inspiration ~ on Susan Branch’s blog! Take a peek at this interesting quote from Susan…

We are definitely Perennials!

Just saying the word makes me so happy!

The delicate blossoms of Cranesbill Geranium, Lilies of the Valley, Daisies, Allium, and Spirea add color to the garden in mid to late May.

We are each unique, but are kindred spirits in so many ways!

Bee on Cranesbill Geranium blossom

Perennial Cranesbill Geranium

Perennials are always as ‘busy as bees’ learning new things and sharing what we learn.

We are curious, peace loving, patriotic, and try to make a difference in our world.

Traveling, reading, finding mentors, and taking classes are just some of the ways we learn.

I love to walk through the garden each morning to fill a stoneware crock, pitcher, or Mason jar with a simple bouquet of Peonies for our front porch.

We try to add beauty to our world every day.

That’s just what Perennials do!

We pick a bouquet, write a letter, create art, bake cookies,

and share our gifts of handmade, homegrown kindness.

We seek out beauty wherever we roam ~ on every walk and down every garden path.

Floral wishes for a very special anniversary!  (All supplies by Papertrey Ink)

Perennials love to celebrate life’s special moments!

Today my parents are celebrating their 65th wedding anniversary! ♥♥ All month long, family and friends have joined together for a card monsoon. 🙂 We have been sending lots of special anniversary cards across the miles. Each day when my parents walked to their mailbox, they were surprised to discover more happy wishes! They have been bubbling over with joy throughout the month of May. Tonight they are celebrating with friends!  🙂

Clematis climbs high on our arbor

Perennials work hard toward our goals and reach new heights.

Since last September, I have been working very hard to reach

an important, personal goal.  I’m s-l-o-w-l-y getting closer to my goal!  🙂

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When life gives us ‘weeds,’

Perennials whisper, “Take it one day at a time.”

We unfurl our petals slowly… and one day, we are suddenly in full bloom!

This Columbine grew through a tiny crack in our driveway. I don’t have the heart to pull it out. What an inspiring reminder of the power of determination!

Perennials can often overcome challenges!

“We can do hard things!” was a daily reminder in our second grade classroom.

(Perennials can be any age at all!)  🙂

Susan Branch’s newest book is filled with her wonderful, hand lettered quotations and beautiful, watercolored illustrations.

Perennials are grateful for the small moments that make each day blossom!

On a recent morning, I picked a small bouquet of flowers,

brewed a pot of tea,

and read on the front porch, while listening to the birdsong in the garden.

My heart was filled with gratitude for these simple pleasures… and I smiled all day long!

♥♥♥

With heartfelt thanks to Susan Branch for helping me to discover that I am a Perennial.

(It’s so much sweeter than being a Baby Boomer!)  🙂

Perhaps you are a Perennial, too….

Perennially yours,

♡ Dawn

P.S.  I wonder if I will ever grow into a Wildflower??  🙂

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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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Warm at Heart

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Hi Friends!

Brrrrr! December has been so cold and snowy here in the Midwest. We have already shoveled 15.6 inches (39.6 cm) of snow at our house the past three weekends, with more snow on the way tonight. Arctic temperatures have kept us in the deep freeze.

Through it all, I have felt warm at heart,

while celebrating my December birthday with family and friends!

(Perhaps it is all those birthday candles! 🙂 )

Braving the cold or snow has always been part of my birthday fun!

Bundle up and come along…

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A new annual birthday tradition began this year

with a wonderful day at the German Christmas Market.

A dear friend and I spent the afternoon visiting the Christkindlmarket at Naper Settlement.

We layered on warm sweaters, long underwear, thick socks, boots,

scarves, hats, and our warmest gloves for our adventure.

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As we explored the outdoor market,

precious memories of my visits to the Karlsruher Christkindlesmarkt,

in southwest Germany, warmed my heart.

The sounds of Christmas music and the smells of Bratwurst,

Kartoffelpuffer (potato pancakes),

and Cinnamon Roasted Almonds filled the air.

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Handblown German glass ornaments are one of my favorite memories of

Christmas in Germany.

Every Christmas, I hang a beautiful German glass ornament in our dining room window

as a reminder of that special Christmas visit.

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We stood admiring these Santas, hand-carved and painted in Russia,

until our fingers and toes felt numb.

We were just fascinated as the shopkeeper explained their intricate designs.

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Traditional German Nutcrackers and Incense Smokers

brought a touch of Germany to the Midwest.

We saw German sweets of all kinds, handmade pottery from Poland,

nativity scenes hand-carved in Bethlehem,

German steins, hats, teas, and Lebkuchen (gingerbread).

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What a delight to visit the same Christmas store that I first visited in medieval Rothenburg!

After admiring the intricate, wooden Christmas Pyramids,

Advent calendars, and glass ornaments,

I knew exactly what I wanted to bring home as a memory of our day together.

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I chose candle clips and candles for our Christmas tree,

just like the ones I brought home from my Christmas in Germany so long ago.

Those special memories always warm my heart!

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It is the Christkind (Christ child) who brings the Christmas gifts

to children in many parts of Germany.

She is a young girl, with long blond curls, a white and gold gown,

a golden crown, and the wings of an angel.

During Advent, the children write letters to the Christkind,

sprinkle them with sugar,

and leave them on the windowsill.

On December 24th, German parents bring in the Christmas tree,

 decorate it with colorful ornaments, and clip candles onto the branches.

They leave the window open just a bit for the Christkind angel…

and close the living room door.

It warms my heart to remember my German family gathered around the table

enjoying a wonderful Raclette dinner on Heilige Nacht (Christmas Eve).

As we laughed and talked, we suddenly heard the sound of a little bell ringing.

The children jumped for joy,

knowing that the Christkind had flown in through the window,

put all the gifts under the tree, lit the candles,

rang her bell, and flown away!

(I was just as excited as the children! 🙂 )

We all went into the living room, and held hands in a circle around the Christmas tree.

The warm memories still bring tears to my eyes…

Together we sang Stille Nacht in German (I had packed a little paper with the lyrics.)

and everyone surprised me by singing Jingle Bells in English.

The candles on the tree were quickly blown out, so that we could open our gifts.

It was a night I will treasure forever!

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At the Naper Settlement Christkindlmarket, we toasted my birthday

with hot Gluhwein and warm, Bavarian pretzels!

It was an extra treat to meet a friendly woman at our table,

who is an artist from our town and a kindred spirit.

Warmed by the Gluhwein, we hurried through the Christkindlmarket one more time

in late afternoon cold, and headed for home.

What a heartwarming way to celebrate with a dear friend!

♥♥♥

My husband and I have a wonderful tradition of celebrating my birthday together

by making memories in a small town,

all decked out for Christmas.

For this birthday, I chose the pretty, little town of Geneva, along the Fox River.

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It was another frigid morning as we drove west,

singing along with the Christmas songs on the radio.

As we quickly walked hand-in-hand along the main street,

we stopped to visit the all of the festive shops in the beautiful, old houses.

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The Arctic temperatures kept most of the holiday shoppers away on that Saturday.

So, we soaked in all of the quiet, friendly, holiday charm…

warm at heart.

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December is such a wonderful time of year to explore Geneva.

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Families braved the cold, waiting in line to visit with Santa Claus

and snuggling under blankets for carriage rides through town.

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We lingered in the Geneva Antique Market,

where vintage Christmas decorations filled every booth.

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After visiting all of my favorite places in Geneva, we loaded our packages into our ‘sleigh’

and headed home, as snowflakes began to fall…

warm at heart!

♥♥♥

Heartfelt thanks dear family, friends, and blog friends for all of the

cards, songs, visits, calls, kindness, gifts, and birthday hugs.

My heart is truly warmed

and overflowing with blessings!

I hope you are warm and cozy wherever you are this weekend! ♥♥

Bring on the twinkle!

♡ Dawn

19. December ~ Edited to add…     My heart is breaking as the news reaches us of today’s  attack at the Christmas Market in Berlin. Our prayers are with the families of those who lost their lives in the attack, all of those who suffered injuries, and the first responders who rushed in to help. I add my voice to prayers for peace in our wounded world.

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Seasoned with Love

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Hi Friends!

Rabbit! Rabbit!  What an unexpected joy to make garden memories as December begins! On Tuesday afternoon, I took advantage an unseasonably mild day to walk around the garden. A few remaining leaves crunched underfoot as I unlatched the garden gate and stepped into to my Herb and Tea Garden. With garden snips in hand, I clipped small bunches of sage, oregano, and lemon balm.

Earlier that very morning, I found the most wonderful inspiration on Lydia’s blog, Understand Blue. Lydia always has something interesting to share! On Tuesday, Lydia shared a great video tutorial about “Duoprinting with Chlorophyll.”

The sun was shining and this was a perfect day

to connect my passion for herb gardening with my passion for cardmaking.

Pure serendipity… and so much fun!

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Heavenly, herbal scents filled my Paper Garden studio downstairs, as I placed fresh sage leaves on cardstock, between the plates of my Big Shot embossing/die cutting machine. (See Lydia’s video tutorial for her step-by-step directions.) As I cranked the paper ‘sandwich’ through the machine, the sage leaves and stems printed on the cardstock. Mother Nature’s colors were more perfect than any ink color in my studio! The Chlorophyll transferred the beautiful, subtle colors of the sage perfectly. I was in awe as I gently peeled the flattened sage leaves from the cardstock!

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I matted each herbal print on kraft cardstock. Then I reached for the perfect sentiments! The ‘Sage Advice’ stamp set from ‘Power Poppy by Marcella Hawley’ (one of my forever favorites) had just the right words to complement the Chlorophyll Prints. Using Crumb Cake ink (Stampin’ Up) and the MISTI stamping tool, I added the sentiments.

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After successfully making single Chlorophyll Prints, I was ready to try Lydia’s ‘Duoprints’ technique. So, I sandwiched another bundle of fresh sage between two pieces of cardstock and cranked them through the Big Shot. Both of these sage prints were produced at the same time. The details and colors were just lovely. Look closely…  Mother Nature even provided beautiful shading for the images, as the essential oils were pressed onto the paper. The sage prints were adhered to cream-colored cardbases.  I stamped the inside of the cards with herbal images from the same Power Poppy stamp set. Finally, I handlettered the name of the herb on the back of each card, near my signature. If only you could smell the amazing scent of sage on these cards!

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Hmmm! What next? I decided to try printing with lemon balm. It worked beautifully, creating soft shadows, as the fresh, lemony scent filled my studio!

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I continued to experiment with different herbs and other foliage from the garden. Although the images weren’t quite as sharp and crisp, I was able to make Chlorophyll Prints with oregano, the holly-like leaves of mahonia, and the heart-shaped leaves of wild ginger.

Oh my! I can’t wait to work with Chlorophyll Printing again. I must try rosemary, my very favorite herb!  It will be such fun to bring my garden herbs and foliage into my Paper Garden studio throughout Spring, Summer, and Autumn next year. I’m also planning to try Chlorophyll Printing on watercolor paper next time. It will be lovely to create cards, gift tags, bookmarks (for cookbooks), and framed botanical pieces seasoned with love and kindness!

If you feel inspired to try Chlorophyll Printing, be sure to let us know how it works for you!

img_1220Creating gifts from the heart... and the heart of my garden is just my ‘cup of tea.’  ♥

Thanks so much for stopping by today!

Warm hugs!

♡ Dawn

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The Call of the Drum…

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I can still hear the drums.

My heart will beat with the drums forever…

Hi Friends!

We recently returned from a wonderful visit with loved ones in Arizona.  Whether we are hiking in the Tonto National Forest or just walking through the neighborhood, we always admire Red Mountain for its distinctive shape and gorgeous color.

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Red Mountain stands on land owned by the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. Over the years, we have traveled through the reservation land many, many times. A major road, using the dry bed of the Salt River, passes right through the vast Indian reservation. This road is only closed when heavy rains turn it back into a fast-moving river.

This time, we felt so fortunate to spend a very special day on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa reservation!

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We couldn’t wait to attend our very first PowWow!  We arrived early and could hear the call of the drum as we walked across the grassy field. The beautiful, stirring sounds of a Drum circle welcomed us.

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We stood transfixed as we listened to the music of the drummers sitting in a tight circle around the ceremonial drum. The men were playing the drum and singing, while their wives and children sat in another circle around them. Well-known Host Drums traveled a great distance to perform at this Pow Wow. Black Bear (Quebec, Canada), Northern Cree (Alberta, Canada), Omaha White Tail (Nebraska), and Southern Thunder (Oklahoma) played throughout the two-day event.

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Traditionally, Pow Wows gather Native American people together as a celebration of American Indian culture. It is a powerful way of preserving the rich heritage of the American Indian people. It is a time of dancing, singing, renewing old friendships, and making new friends. The Red Mountain Eagle Pow Wow shares Native American Arts and Crafts and traditional foods. Everyone is welcome!

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Groups of Gourd Dancers performed throughout the morning. The soul-stirring music brought together people from tribes across North America.  Drums and Singers are very important people in Native American culture. For without them, there would be no dancing. Their songs can be religious, for war, and social. At a Pow Wow, most of the songs are social, in nature.

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As we watched the Gourd Dancers, my husband noticed that this dancer’s beaded headband showed all of his Vietnam War medals. Throughout our history, Native Americans have served in our Armed Forces in greater percentages than any other ethnic group. They have served our country with honor in every major conflict for over 200 years. The service, dedication, and patriotism of our Native American veterans should be honored by all Americans.

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After a hot morning in the bright, desert sun, it was time to find more water and taste some traditional American Indian foods. We watched as they prepared our Frybread and topped it with cinnamon and sugar. My husband also ate Frybread filled with mutton and chili peppers. We enjoyed our picnic lunch with a friendly local who told us more about the Pow Wow. The hot sun, the sound of the drums and singing, and the traditional food made memories we will cherish.

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As the time drew near for the Grand Entry, we walked around admiring the traditional dress. It was fascinating to watch the dancers put on layer upon layer of brightly-colored fabric, intricate beadwork, moccasins with bells, beautiful jewelry, and immense feather adornments. I just couldn’t resist asking permission to take photos.

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Spectacular, from both the front and back, the friendly dancers posed with pride. I was very interested to learn the name of their tribe and which part of the United States they traveled from for this special gathering.

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By pure luck, we found ourselves standing at the exact place where the Grand Entry would begin. My camera and I were thrilled!!  🙂 It was a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see all of the dancers from only an few feet way. We admired their gorgeous, traditional clothing up close as they slowly walked by. It was an experience I will treasure forever, as 500 dancers of all ages moved to the beat of the Drum, ready to enter the arena. Their serene, serious faces told us that this was a very important experience for them, as well.

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During the Grand Entry into the arena, everyone stands while the flags are carried in: the U.S. flag, Tribal flags, the P.O.W. flag, and the Eagle Staffs of all of the Indian Nations present at the Pow Wow. The flags are usually carried by veterans. Despite the horrific treatment received from our country, Native Americans hold the U.S. flag in an honored position.

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The U.S. flag holds two special meanings for the American Indians. It is a way to remember all of their ancestors who fought against this country long ago. It also symbolizes the United States and the important role of Native Americans in our country. The U.S. flag also honors all of the Native Americans who have bravely fought for this country.

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As the Grand Entry begins, the veterans carrying the flags are followed by the Tribal Chiefs, Princesses, and Elders. The men dancers are always next in line, followed by the women dancers.

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The women Jingle Dancers wear a beautiful Jingle Dress (or Prayer Dress). Long ago, the dress was seen in a dream, as an object to bring healing to the sick. The Chippewa people sew rows of bells encircling a colorful skirt.  The bells are so close together that they jingle and ring while dancing. The Jingle Dancers’ bells sound just like falling rain as they dance. It is so beautiful!

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As the Drums play, singers from different tribes gather together to share traditional songs. Some of these songs are sung as ‘vocables,’ with no words, so that singers from all Indian Nations can join in, no matter their tribal language. These songs still hold deep  meaning to those who remember the original lyrics.

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Dances have always played a very important role in American Indian life. Most of the dances at Pow Wows are social dances. Although dancing styles and clothing have changed over the years, the meaning of the dances has not. The Native American culture is a vibrant, ever-changing way of life!

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Once all 500 dancers entered the arena that afternoon, a special Honor Song was sung to honor the flags and the veterans. After a prayer, the dancing continued. We found seats in the front row of the bleachers and were mesmerized by the colorful clothing and the beat of the Drum.

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There were several huge Circle dances with all of the dancers moving in circles, like a coiling snake. Different Drum circles provided the music, while the dancers moved to the rhythm of the Drum.

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It was so beautiful to see people from all generations, from the Tiny Tots (up to 4 years old) to the Golden Age (60+ years old) dancers sharing their long history and culture. The best dancers and Drum circles would be awarded prizes at the close of the two-day Pow Wow.

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As the dancers moved in the hot sun all afternoon, their passion and dedication as they celebrated their culture truly moved me. Sitting in the hot sun took its toll on us, yet they were dancing in layer upon layer of cotton, deerskin, beads, and feathers. After we left, there would be another Grand Entry in the evening and another day of dancing and drumming on Sunday. What an unforgettable celebration!

A Pow Wow is such a wonderful way of bringing the past into the future!

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The Red Mountain Eagle Pow Wow left such a powerful impression on my heart. I’m sure that the vivid colors and serene feelings of that day will inspire my artwork and writing always.

I can still hear the drums.

My heart will beat with the drums forever…

Enjoy the Grand Entry of the 30th Annual Red Mountain Eagle Pow Wow…

(Video credit: rd47blog)

30th Annual Red Mountain Eagle Pow Wow ~ Men’s Traditional dance                    

(Video credit:  rd47blog)

♥♥♥

Heartfelt thanks for always taking the time to visit and leave thoughtful comments on our blog.

Each time I count my blessings, I think of my dear family, friends, and blog friends!

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You inspire me to grow in so many creative ways!

Happy Thanksgiving!

♡ 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?

Kindred Spirits…

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Hi Friends!

So many treasured moments to hold in our hearts forever!

Last week, a lovely group of kindred spirits gathered from across the Midwest

to enjoy a long-awaited, experience of a lifetime ~ Afternoon Tea with Susan Branch.

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For the past thirty years, Susan Branch‘s handlettered books, filled with lovely, watercolored illustrations have been such an inspiration in my life.  Our home and garden, our family traditions, our holiday celebrations, and most recently, our little blog, have soaked up the flavors of Susan’s creativity. Susan generously shares her gifts, time, and kindness with adoring readers from across the globe. She always shows us how much she appreciates her fans.

This summer, Susan and Joe are celebrating the publication of Susan’s newest book, Martha’s Vineyard Isle of Dreams, already a New York Times Best Seller, by driving across the country to meet Susan’s devoted fans. Special events are planned in 23 different cities, as Susan visits small, independent bookstores across America.

Here in the Midwest, our excitement grew quickly, as tickets sold out and the big day drew near! Susan would be the celebrated guest at an Afternoon Tea in her honor, where she would speak, answer questions, and sign books for her fans (lovingly known as her Girlfriends). This event was Susan’s second fundraiser for The Women’s Exchange of Winnetka, where women are empowered to follow their creative spirit.

Please join us for Afternoon Tea ~ with Susan Branch…

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{♥ Photo credit: Linda M.}

Driving through heavy Chicago area traffic in a terrible rainstorm couldn’t even dampen our spirits on May 10th. We were all just thrilled to spend an afternoon with Susan Branch… and we were bringing our own ‘sunshine’ to welcome her! The Springtime downpour ended just in time for our special gathering of Girlfriends, at the beautiful Westmoreland Country Club, in Wilmette, Illinois.

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{♥ Photo credit: Linda M.}

A friend (who I met at Susan’s last tea party) and I arrived early so that we could visit. We have kept in touch through cards, emails, and our blog for the past two years. We shared a book, handmade cards, and perennials from our gardens with one another. True gifts of the heart, from kindred spirits! Very soon more Girlfriends arrived and we quickly discovered that we were all kindred spirits. The Girlfriends at our table came from several towns in Indiana, Wisconsin, and Illinois. We enjoyed getting to know one another, as we waited for Susan to arrive. {Huge, heartfelt thanks to Linda, Jo, and Karen, who graciously shared photos for today’s post!}

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Susan’s newest book, Martha’s Vineyard Isle of Dreams, is an inspiring, handlettered, watercolored memoir. It is the most wonderful book!! Based upon diaries that she has kept her entire life, Susan has written her memoir in three parts. She thinks of The Fairy Tale Girl as the appetizer, Martha’s Vineyard Isle of Dreams as the main course, and A Fine Romance as the dessert. Susan’s devoted readers have hungrily awaited each new book in this delicious trilogy!

♥♥♥

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As guests continued to arrive for the tea party, a hum of excitement began to build throughout the room. I stepped into the lobby, peeked out the window, and to my surprise… standing outside all alone (while Joe parked the van) was Susan Branch! Without even stopping to think, I went out on the porch to greet her. (It must be the teacher in me!) I welcomed Susan and there were several big hugs ~ just the two of us! We talked about all of the places they had visited so far on this trip, our parents, and Susan’s excitement to meet everyone. (Thankfully, I had my camera in hand to capture this unexpected moment, while we waited for Joe!)

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It was time for Susan and Joe to be escorted inside by Deb, the event planner. There were 140 excited Girlfriends (and even some Guy friends) waiting inside! Still on cloud nine, I quietly ‘floated’ back to my table at the tea party. Then it dawned on me what had just happened… a treasured moment, totally unexpected, captured in my heart forever!

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The tea party was a feast for our eyes and taste buds. Fresh fruits, delectable tea sandwiches, scones, and desserts filled our plates, while stacks of our beloved Susan Branch books added a literary touch to our tables!

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{♥ Photo credit: Jo R.}

Susan visited each table, warmly greeting all of the Girlfriends, while Joe took pictures and chatted with everyone. Susan and I enjoyed another quiet conversation, as I eagerly shared how closely I connected with her first home on Martha’s Vineyard. She bought her little home, Holly Oak, on her own, and with help was able to create the home and garden of her dreams. I knew just how she felt… and how this little home would forever be a part of her heart! Kindred spirits!

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{♥ Photo Credit: Linda M.}

It was time for Susan’s talk. She positively glowed with excitement and charm. Can’t you just feel the excitement in the air? Susan shared several favorite stories from her memoirs, talked about the writing process, answered all of our questions, and even delighted us with a little song.  She brought along two very special books to share with us.

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{♥ Photo Credit: Joe Hall}

Susan shared how important Girlfriends have been throughout her life. We felt the same emotions as we listened with rapt attention and so much admiration. Kindred spirits, one and all!

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Susan shared stories of growing up, in California, as the oldest of eight children. She talked about the important lessons she learned from her parents. She shared the exciting news about selling the movie rights for her memoir. Together we suggested actresses that could portray Susan and the actor who could play the role of Joe, in a movie or tv series based upon her life.

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Getting to know her readers and talking one-on-one with each of us might be Susan’s favorite part of her booksigning tours. We each wore nametags (designed by Susan), so she recognized each of us right from the start. Many of the Girlfriends already know Susan quite well from her engaging blog comments, Twitter feed, and popular Facebook page. What a treat it was to visit in person that afternoon! Kindred spirits!

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The heartwarming stories that we shared, let Susan know just how much her books mean to all of the Girlfriends. Susan took the time to connect heart-to-heart with every one of us.

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Out of the blue, Susan mentioned our little blog, letting me know that she has visited here quietly many times. I was so touched, that it was hard to even soak it all in! Susan’s kind, generous words will remain in my heart forever. Practically speechless, I do remember telling her that she was my inspiration for creating this happy gathering place for kindred spirits. ♡

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The lines at Susan’s book signing events  are always very long… and filled with joy! For it is in these lines, that new friends meet and old friends reunite. Just imagine spending time in line chatting with women who share all the same passions. In line, I met a new friend who just happens to live four blocks from me! We both love teaching, gardening, decorating, and travel. Kindred spirits! Over the years, whenever I passed by her house, I always admired the charming, white picket fence, grapevine wreath, and pretty shutters. It’s so lovely to know that we both find our inspiration from Susan’s books! We are already planning to visit one another’s gardens this summer.

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A friend from Wisconsin met another Girlfriend standing in line, who lives in the same town, very close to her! It’s just amazing to make such wonderful connections while waiting in a booksigning line. Yet we all understand how Susan brings kindred spirits together!

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Of course, there were warm hugs! ♥ Lots of hugs!

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I feel so blessed to have met Susan at three different booksigning events over the years. As she signed each book, I told Susan about how that book connected with my life. I told her how the recipes in her books have become part of our family traditions. I shared my tradition of gifting her Love book to each of my friends as bridal shower gifts many years ago, but never bought a copy for myself, since I never planned to be married. At the tea party, a special friend gifted me with a copy of this out-of-print book, and Susan signed it for my husband and I that very day. It felt like a complete circle of love!

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I told Susan how I used her ribbon bookmark to mark a passage that spoke to my heart in each book. Susan’s books are always filled with the most wonderful, handlettered quotations!  Imagine my surprise, when I shared how this page and quotation in Martha’s Vineyard Isle of Dreams was so important to me… and Susan told me that it was also her most cherished quotation! ♥ Kindred spirits!

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Joe joined us for a photo, too!

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Old friends reunited… and new friends getting to know one another!

Kindred spirits, one and all!

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Heartfelt thanks for coming to visit us, dear Susan and Joe!

Safe travels as you spread happiness from coast to coast!

We are all still smiling and floating on cloud nine!

Kindred spirits are like that!

Hugs from the Heartland!

♡Dawn

P.S.  Do you have a favorite Susan Branch book? Let us know if you have met Susan at a booksigning event. If you write a blog post about it, be sure to share a link with us!