Hi Friends!

I hope you are enjoying nice Springtime (or Autumn) days in your little corner of the world! Our weather has been so crazy in the Midwest for the past few weeks. It seems to change every few minutes ~ raindrops, snowflakes, a bit of sunshine, and high winds. Our bright, yellow daffodils and forsythia add a touch of sunshine to the garden, as their cheerful blossoms dance in the strong Springtime breezes. Near the front porch, our magnolia is already showing its bright fuchsia blossoms. Sweet, green leaves are so welcome as the trees and shrubs wake up.  We have squishy, wet lawns and lots of mud, too! Robins are everywhere. I’ve never seen so many! Yet, it’s still much too early to clean up our garden beds here in USDA Zone 5b. Our nighttime temperatures are still dropping into the 20s. Snowflakes are dancing down even as I write…

So, I have been very busy nesting… and resting, with anticipation!


I’m enjoying spending creative hours downstairs, in my little ‘Paper Garden’ studio, where the sun always shines. (Thanks to daylight bulbs! 🙂 )  I’ve been busy playing with watercolors and stamping petite, garden scenes for my handmade cards. Sometimes we just have to make our own bits of Springtime!


Since childhood, I have been passionate about writing old-fashioned letters to family and friends, near and far. So, I’m taking on the challenge of writing one letter or note every day this month. By spending less time online, I have found much more time for the joy of letter writing!


I’ve gathered pretty stationery from my writing desk, a favorite pen, and lots of postage stamps. Letters carry handmade smiles, since they come right from the heart. Nothing makes me happier than mailing off a handmade card or letter to someone special! While writing or creating, I think about the recipient the entire time… so it feels almost like a little visit. Sharing handmade kindness has always been my cup of tea! (I think I’m going to need more postage stamps soon! 🙂 )


My favorite project for the past few weeks has been a secret, surprise, family memory-keeping project. 🙂 I’m enjoying it immensely, and find myself smiling the whole time I am journaling! Can’t wait to deliver this heartfelt gift of family memories, in person, very soon! ♥♥


Reading is always one of the best parts of nesting! Finding new inspiration for the garden, the front porch, and our home is just one of the delights of the changing seasons. I’m already dreaming of antiquing trips to the 3 French Hens French Country Market and have marked the 2016 dates on our calendar!


The past week, I’ve been rereading The Fairy Tale Girl by Susan Branch. It has been so lovely to enjoy this volume of her beautifully illustrated, handwritten, watercolored memoir again. It’s filled with both smiles and heartbreak, as we learn more about Susan’s early years. Published last year, this volume of Susan’s memoir ended with a real ‘Cliff-hanger.’ So, I’ve been waiting… and waiting… and waiting enthusiastically for ~


Martha’s Vineyard Isle of Dreams, the second volume of Susan’s memoir.  Her excited fans were able to preorder this book last November, while Susan was still lovingly writing, illustrating, and watercoloring her story. It feels like I have been waiting for this book for thirty years… since Susan published her first Heart of the Home book. It arrived in our mailbox just yesterday!! 🙂

Oh my! I can’t tell you how much I adore (and connect to) Susan’s story of buying a little house of her own, transforming it into a cozy home, honoring the history of the previous homeowner, planting a garden, and creating a happy, little ‘nest’ to write and watercolor, in her own special, handmade way! I’m trying to read s-l-o-w-l-y…  to savor Susan’s wonderful story and artwork. Of course, I read into the wee hours of last night. (I just couldn’t stop!)


Susan Branch’s long-awaited memoir is now complete!! She is celebrating this trilogy ~ with A Fine Romance (dessert, served first!), The Fairy Tale Girl (the appetizer), and now Martha’s Vineyard Isle of Dreams (the main course). Readers can indulge in her memoir in any order, and will be immediately drawn into her personal stories. It feels like such an amazing honor to read the lifetime memories of someone I have admired for so long!  A movie or tv series based on Susan’s memoir is already in the planning stages! (We are all wondering which actress will be chosen to play Susan!) All three books are available now through Susan Branch’s website (autographed) and will be in bookstores everywhere in time for Mother’s Day! Next month, I’m really looking forward to another Afternoon Tea and book signing with Susan Branch. Of course, I will bring you along!! ♥♥


Thank you so much for stopping to visit today!

It’s so sweet of you to keep me company

as I wait for busy, Springtime days in garden!

Happy weekend!


P.S.  Are you already enjoying time outdoors, or nesting inside… while waiting for warm Springtime days?

Reminiscing on the Front Porch…


Mary Engelbreit captures the charm of playtime on the front porch!

Hi Friends!


I  have always loved old houses. When I pulled up in front of the little house, with the pretty front porch, almost thirty years ago, I started to cry!  Happy tears! I had been house hunting in town and had visited a few houses already. When I saw this little house, from the outside, I had a feeling it was meant to be my “Home Sweet Home.”  ♡ My heart spoke… and I listened!

Our home (Now we are a family!) is a cozy, little Craftsman Bungalow, built in 1922. It is surrounded by tall, shady pine trees and colorful, perennial gardens, but it was the front porch that won my heart on that Spring day so long ago. The original porch swing is still here, just perfect for reading, daydreaming, talking with friends, sipping iced tea, and watching the world go by. The swing is long enough to stretch out and take an afternoon nap! A gentle breeze often pushes our swing on a summer afternoon, as we glide to the music of sweet birdsong.

One of the greatest treasures that came with the house, were my friendly neighbors. To the south, lived dear Mildred, a charming lady in her 90s. She wore a dainty hat and gloves whenever when she went out. A longtime citizen of our town, Mildred had such wonderful stories to share! She talked about carrying her furniture down the dirt road to her house, built one year before ours. She remembered the horses from the neighboring farm squashing the tomatoes in her garden. She showed me a Sears Roebuck home, that was delivered by freight train, and assembled down the block many years earlier.

We quickly became special friends…  always there for one another. Each year, I put my Christmas tree in the window on south side, so that we could both enjoy it. It was no problem to shovel her snow, help her lift things, or to open a jar for her. She liked to call me her “Angel Next Door.” Mildred showed me that it was possible to take care of an old house on my own, even though it wasn’t easy! Every day I watched how hard Mildred worked to care for her home, and I knew that if she could do it, I could do it, too! Without even knowing it, she shared her gifts of strength and courage with me day by day.

Mildred knew that I loved old houses and antiques. She introduced me to the local historical society, where I eagerly volunteered. The very first tomato, ripe from her garden, was an annual gift of her friendship. From time to time, she would leave a sweetly wrapped antique treasure by my front door. Each year, on my first day of school, Mildred delivered a shiny, wooden apple for the teacher, inscribed with the year. They were such heartwarming treasures from a dear friend.

Best of all, Mildred shared stories about my house! She had watched it being built. When the house was finished, she helped to plant the pine trees in our backyard, brought from her grandparents’ farm in Wisconsin.

One day, Mildred shared my very favorite story of all

In the 1920s, our front porch was a gathering place for Barbershop Quartet singers! Such a great, old-fashioned tradition!  Since ours was the only house on our block with an open front porch, it was just perfect for harmonizing on a summer evening. Very often, I wonder about the fashions, the hairstyles, and of course the songs they would sing, so long ago. Our porch swing and the front steps always welcomed the local singers. Mildred was one of those singers, serenading on warm summer evenings.

One day, she shared a little more of the story…

Each of the singers had a rocking chair on our front porch. Mildred wanted me to have her rocking chair! In the 1920s, her chair had a special place on our front porch, as they sat and sang together. Just imagine, how happy the neighborhood sounded each evening when the quartet began to sing!

Mildred’s rocking chair was such a treasured gift. For many years, it had a special place in our guest room. I enjoyed sitting and reading in her rocking chair on quiet, summer afternoons. A few years ago, we moved the rocking chair downstairs to the basement. There it held a big box filled with scrapbooks and photos just waiting to have their stories told. Yet, each time I walked by Mildred’s rocking chair, a wish stirred inside my heart… just waiting for the perfect time.

My heart told me that Memorial Day weekend was the perfect time to honor the past memories of our little house! So, early on Saturday morning, we carried Mildred’s rocking chair out to the garage. I felt so happy! Something very important was about to happen… for the first time since the 1920s!



This special rocking chair has seen a lot of history over the past century! Sanding revealed bright red paint, beneath the black paint. After some light sanding, I washed the surface gently. Tomorrow it would have a fresh, new look!

This special rocking chair has seen a lot of history over almost a century! 

We discovered bright red paint, beneath the black paint. After some light sanding, I washed the surface very gently.

Tomorrow Mildred’s chair would have a fresh, new look!


On Sunday morning, our special rocking chair sported a fresh, cheery coat of paint.

Now it will be protected from the elements for years to come.



It’s such fun to have a cozy, new place to sit…


… and read,

… and read,



… watch the world go by,

 … and watch the world go by,


…  while enjoying the old-fashioned pleasures of afternoons on our front porch! ♡

Our hot, sunny Memorial Day was just perfect for viewing the flowers growing near our front porch. While rocking, we enjoyed…


the dainty faces of Columbine, in soft purple and the very palest pink,



Dianthus, just beginning to bloom,


 Shasta Daisies bobbing in the breeze,


Cranesbill Geraniums with pale purple blossoms,


and lovely Anemones, welcoming everyone walking by!

This Memorial Day weekend brought back so many treasured memories. It also made me pause… and think about the time when our home was newly built. There was so much happening in the world, in our country, and in our little neighborhood. Just imagine what life was like on a quiet street, a long drive from the big city, in the 1920s…



Thanks for visiting with us on the front porch! It’s always a delight to see you here!


♡ Dawn

P.S.  Do you have a favorite story about your house? I’d love to hear your stories, too!