Nourish… to Flourish!

Nourish

Hi Friends!

For the past year, I have quietly been working each day on a very special gift ~ to me… from me. In celebration of my birthday last week, it feels like the perfect time to untie the ribbons and share this gift of love!

I have been learning to live fully by nourishing my heart, soul, and body in so many exciting ways. My ‘word’ for this year is nourish and this little word has guided me in many new directions.

 

I have been slowly working my way through It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again by Julia Cameron. Writing Morning Pages, going on Artist Dates, taking Solo Walks, and Writing Memoir have all helped to nourish my creative heart and soul.

Gathering together with other creative souls in a lovely, international, online book club has helped me to stay accountable and moving forward. Using Julia Cameron’s tools has nurtured me each step of the way.  Making creative time a priority has helped me to flourish and grow in countless ways. In fact, I’m looking forward to rereading and continuing to work through the tasks in this wonderful book again in 2018. I’m enjoying writing my memoir immensely! It has been such a gift to make time to explore my passion for creativity. It’s only the beginning…

Big changes happened in my perennial and herb gardens throughout the past year. Now that Winter has arrived in the Midwest, it’s such fun to look back through my Garden Joys journal and reflect on all of the hard work and changes…

This has been the first time in thirty years of nurturing my garden that I have ever kept a garden journal throughout the entire season. Experimenting with bullet-style journaling and using a few art supplies definitely nourished my creative soul! I have made so many changes as I ‘right-sized’ my garden beds… and I love the new look. “Less is more” has become my new mantra this year. Less weeding means more time for other creative passions! It’s only the beginning…

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All year long, I have also been nourishing my body and building a healthy relationship with food. Slowly, ever-so-slowly, I have ‘right-sized’ myself to a healthy weight (set by my doctor). It has been my most important birthday gift ever!  Although I have tried many times on my own over the years, it was always a struggle.

However this time, it feels very different… and I am singing the praises of Weight Watchers! With the help of Weight Watchers, I found the guidance and support that I needed. It was a little bit hard… but not too hard! (This post is not sponsored by Weight Watchers in any way. I just wanted to share…) 

Using the Weight Watchers app, I learned to be mindful of everything that I am eating. Although I had been making healthy food choices, portion control was a problem in the past. Now I use the Weight Watchers app to track each food and the amount I am eating. No food is off limits. Instead Weight Watchers has determined a Smart Points value for each food based upon its calories, saturated fat, sugar, and protein. I know my daily Smart Points budget and am able to make smart choices throughout each day. Additional Weekly Smart Points make it possible to enjoy those special celebrations that life brings.

In addition to tracking all of my meals and snacks, the other thing that truly made a difference for me is attending my weekly Weight Watchers meeting. I always think of it as a special gift that I am giving myself ~ a gift of time for my health. I faithfully go every Thursday morning. On the rare Thursdays that I am out of town, I make sure to find a Tuesday meeting or a Wednesday meeting instead. Gathering together as a community each week is a great time to share tips, recipes, encouragement, and inspiration with one another. I have made so many new friends along the way. At every meeting, Karen shares her knowledge and experience, while Fay shares kindness and encouragement as I step on the scale (privately and discreetly).

Throughout the year, I have continued my usual, active lifestyle. Taking walks in nature, working in the garden, and mowing the lawn helped me stay active during the warm weather. During cold weather, walking indoors at the mall has been a great way to ‘walk and talk’ with my husband or dear friends. It is my intention to make the Weight Watchers plan work with my usual lifestyle, so that I can continue doing what works for me long term.

Slowly, ever-so-slowly, I began to see and feel the results. My average loss was about one pound each week, although sometimes there was a plateau or even a small weight gain. Fay was especially encouraging at those times.

Little-by-little, I began to ‘right size’ my wardrobe, too. It has been fun to shop in different stores and discover my true style. Although everything in my closet is new, there aren’t too many things now. I have intentionally left plenty of ‘white space’ in my tiny closet. It makes my heart smile each time I open the door! It has felt so good to donate all of my clothing and share my very favorite clothes with friends. Hopefully, they will feel like warm hugs to everyone who wears them!

Along with all of the health benefits, there were also tiny, tangible bits of ‘bling’ from Weight Watchers along my journey. These meaningful charms celebrate: My first four weeks of meetings, 5% of my body weight, Making time for myself, 10% of my body weight, Creating a Vision (with themes: nurture, explore, create, imagine, commit, transform, embrace,…), Weight loss, Reaching my goal weight, Becoming a Lifetime member, and W.W. Freestyle.

At our weekly meeting, we celebrate each time someone receives a new charm. It is a lovely time of encouragement, honoring the huge commitment that it takes!

It felt so wonderful to celebrate with this tiny, golden key just before my birthday. It represents having reached my healthy weight goal, then learning for six weeks how to stop losing weight and maintain my healthy weight. This key is a Lifetime membership to Weight Watchers. (Yay! I no longer have to pay for the eTools and Meetings! 🙂 ) Lifetime Members must stay within two pounds of our goal weight or begin paying again. This is great motivation to maintain my weight. I’d much rather save my money for other things! 🙂 

I realize that the most difficult part of my journey lies ahead ~ the forever part. (Statistics show that with any weight loss plan, 85% of people regain the weight within two years. Knowing this, makes me even more determined to nourish myself in healthy ways!)

Over the past year, I have built a solid foundation of tools that work for me. I intend to continue tracking all of the foods that I eat and attending weekly meetings. With plenty of guidance from Weight Watchers, now I am learning how to eat a few more Smart Points each day without gaining weight. It feels like an exciting, new beginning…

Just last week, Weight Watchers introduced a new plan that gives us more freedom and flexibility with our Smart Points. For anyone struggling with weight issues, this is an exciting time to consider getting healthy and living more fully.

Now I’m creating a special Self Care (bullet-style) journal to plan and document this new chapter in my journey. It will help me to reach my new goals for activity during the winter months, including walking indoors, Zumba, Barre workouts, and a return to my beloved Yoga practice. I’m really looking forward to the challenge!

For me, this journey has been so much more than weight loss.

It is also about what I have gained during the past year…

♥  a sense of empowerment (“I can do this!”)

  dedicated time for self care, self kindness, and creativity

  patience with myself  (important things can take longer than expected)

  strategies that I know will work  (tracking my foods + attending meetings + an active lifestyle)

  lots of new friends along the way  (Each one is a unique part of my W.W. journey.)

I have been continuously blessed with the love and support of my dear husband, my wonderful family, and encouraging friends. I know they will continue to support me as I flourish in new ways!  Huge hugs, you guys!!

Thanks so much for stopping to visit today

as I untied the ribbons on this very special gift…

from me… to me!

My birthday cake (chocolate peppermint, a small piece)

tasted extra sweet this year!

 

Nurture yourself each day!

♡ Dawn

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Thankful Heart

Hi Friends! 

A special welcome to everyone joining us for the Papertrey Ink November Blog Hop Challenge! Hop over to Nichole’s blog if you would like to join in the fun!

November is flying by! Can you feel it, too?  It always takes me more than one day to count my blessings. The entire month has been filled with giving thanks every single day. Small moments that add comfort and joy to each day have made my thankful heart overflow with gratitude…

These small moments are always there. We just have to be still and mindful to recognize and appreciate them. Cultivating gratitude helps me to keep my worries in perspective, cope with life’s challenges, and brings joy to every day!

Early on November 1st, we headed west to spend time with my parents in Arizona. We cherish each chance to celebrate their birthdays together. I hold dear each day spent helping out, enjoying old family stories, and making sweet memories together. My parents continue to be our best teachers, constantly showing us how to live a good life and nourish a beautiful, loving marriage.

My mom is the charming soul who taught me all about gardening so long ago. It’s always a delight to take walks together through the desert neighborhood where she has been gardening for the past 23 years.  Last week, we worked together to trim her Bird of Paradise shrub and deadhead the Desert Marigolds.  The bright orange berries on her Pyracantha shrub are visited daily by a family of quail just waiting for the berries to turn crimson and sweet. One day a roadrunner joined us in my mom’s garden. Autumn in the desert has been extra special this year for so many reasons!

Together we drove through the nearby Tonto National Forest, past breathtaking mountains, to visit lovely Saguaro Lake. My family has so many wonderful memories of hiking along the lake together over the past two decades. Seeing mighty Saguaros growing along the sparkling water always amazes me!

While heading back to the Midwest,  I admired the majestic, snow capped mountains of New Mexico and the earthy, patchwork quilt of the heartland. The natural beauty of our country always fills me with hope for this land that I love.

I thought about the excited (but nervous) three young men and four young women that I met at our boarding gate just hours before. They talked about how excited they were to shovel snow for the first time. (I promised them a lot of snow during their two months in Illinois!) I wanted to be among the first to thank these young Americans for their service, as they headed off to Navy boot camp at Great Lakes Naval Station.  These young men and women and their families will sacrifice so much for all of us. We owe them our deepest gratitude.

It feels wonderful to be back home again in our cozy Midwest home just in time for the holidays! The seasons changed and snowflakes fell upon my garden while we were away. So, I happily spent a few quiet moments in the garden gathering dried flowers and seed heads to fill an antique wooden box on our front porch. These garden gatherings are sweet reminders of those glorious Summer days spent in my perennial and herb gardens. Yesterday I raked so many leaves!  It was a quiet, poignant time to reflect on all of the changes of the past year.

Throughout the year, my heart is filled with the blessings of two passions that help me blossom and grow in new ways. While my perennial and herb gardens sleep through the Winter, there will now be much more time in my little Paper Garden studio downstairs.

Kindness has always been one of my love languages. Creating handmade cards to share with family and friends truly warms my heart. I find the most wonderful stamps, dies, inks, and paper at Papertrey Ink.  (So grateful for the exciting, new supplies that arrived in my mailbox this week! 🙂 ) The talented Design Team at Papertrey Ink constantly inspires me. Time spent designing special cards always nourishes my creative heart and soul.

I just love thinking about those I hold dear as I create each card. It feels like a little ‘visit’ with them as I stamp, ink, cut, and emboss. Lettering the envelope, adding a special postage stamp, and dropping it into the mailbox makes sending my little ‘paper hugs’ such a happy, little thing!

I’ve been busy making extra Thanksgiving cards for the dear friends and neighbors who watched over our home while we were away helping my parents. For me, hand-delivering cards is always a special part of the joy of card making!

This little ‘paper hug’ is especially for all of the dear friends who gather here to read and leave their thoughts on our blog. 🙂 I cherish your kindness all year long. I am humbled by the worldwide visitors who take time to visit each day. We are a small, but wonderful group who constantly remind me of everything good in the world.  You inspire me, teach me, and encourage me to blossom in new ways!

Thank you for being YOU and for being here!

Wishing you all of the beautiful graces

of the season…

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

 

With a thankful heart,

♡ Dawn

P.S.  What small joys fill your thankful heart?

Hope you will share… 

 

 

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Give Love…

Hi Friends!

If I’m not working in my perennial and herb gardens, there is a very good chance that you will find me hard at work downstairs in my little Paper Garden studio. I just adore playing with ink, paper, stamps, and watercolors. However that isn’t what truly inspires me to nourish my heart and soul by creating handmade cards.

The real reason is so much more important!

♫ ♬  Please take a moment to enjoy this song.

The lyrics truly melt my heart… for so many reasons.

(I’ll be very quiet, so you can listen while you scroll down. 🙂 )

Perhaps you will understand why I do what I do…

Every time I hear this song

tears stream down my face.

These words hold so much meaning,

now more than ever…

I give love.

Papertrey Ink ~ Best Dad Ever die, Mix + Mat:Herringbone die

 

Power Poppy ~ peony ♥ Papertrey Ink ~ Just Desserts ♥ Simon Says Stamp ~ Mom die, heart die

 

Power Poppy ~ Cozy Cupfuls stamp ♥ Papertrey Ink ~ Choose Joy stamp, Tag Sale:Quilted die

 

Art Impressions Watercolor ♥ (Inspired by Bonnie Krebs)

 

Papertrey Ink ~ Quoted:Dream Big stamp, Mix + Mat:Herringbone die

 

Power Poppy ~ Soothing Sympathy ♥ My Favorite Things: Wonky Stitches Rectangle die

 

Papertrey Ink ~ Quoted:Start Again, Mix + Mat:Scallops dies, To the Point Edgers dies ♥ (Inspired by Nichole Heady)

 

Power Poppy ~ Sage Advice stamps  ♥  Papertrey Ink ~ Tag Sale:Quilted die

 

Art Impressions Watercolor   ♥ (Inspired by Bonnie Krebs)

 

Papertrey Ink ~ Quoted:The Most stamps, Give Love stamps and dies, Mix + Mat:Postal ♥ (Inspired by Lizzie Jones)

The very moment the ink is dry, I pop the card into an envelope, add a pretty postage stamp, and send the love to someone special. I make a few notes in my Paper Garden Journal, so that I will remember which stamps I used for each person’s card. (They will be getting much more happy mail from me, and I want each card to be extra special!) 🙂

“I give love to all of my people.

All my people need love.

I give some.” 

~ Andy Grammer

 

♥♥♥

So glad that you stopped to visit today.

Wishing you happy August days!

Embrace a whole new month of possibilities…

Paper hugs,

♡ Dawn

P.S.  You will find links to all of my favorite small, independent stamp companies in ‘Favorites‘ at the top of my blog!

 

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Walking in Peace…

Hi Friends!

A quiet walk in nature always soothes my soul. Especially during these uncertain, often frightening times in our world, it helps to seek out an oasis of peace, calm, and beauty. Just one hour of walking amidst the blessings of Springtime on a Sunday afternoon really lifted my spirits! I hope it will lighten your heart as well, as you walk along with us…

As we left home, we didn’t have a definite plan about where we might walk yesterday. April showers during the past week have made many of our favorite walking places very muddy. As we drove, it suddenly dawned on both of us ~ a beautiful place of quiet and peace where we have walked in the past ~ the 40-acre grounds of the National Center of the Theosophical Society in America.  Although the Theosophical Society is closed on Sundays, the grounds are open during daylight hours and visitors are always welcome to enjoy a quiet walk.

So, we set off on our peaceful walk…

We wandered past the historic library building,

under the willow trees, across a tiny creek,

to the Perkins Pond at the south end of the campus.

A few feathered friends entertained us as we watched families of Canadian geese and ducks enjoying a relaxing, afternoon swim. Benches along the quiet pond invite visitors to pause and meditate, or sit and reflect upon the quiet beauty.

As we walked under the tall pines, following moss-covered stone paths,

we meandered from patch to patch of colorful Spring flowers,

deep in thought…

A bright patch of yellow

led us to our next peaceful place.

As we looked up, beyond the daffodils,

tucked in amongst the tall trees,

a sight stopped us in our tracks…

Our hearts smiled, as we carefully stepped

between the Spring blossoms

for a closer look.

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We lingered in this peaceful spot for a few moments,

speaking very softly,

not wanting to disturb the stillness.

Then we continued on our walk,

past an area filled with busy bee hives,

a prairie garden restoration underway,

across the squishy, rain-soaked grass,

and past a peaceful shrine

with candles aglow.

In the distance, I could see

the quiet oasis

where we have walked before.

In the middle of the peaceful, grassy area is a Cretan labyrinth. The large stepping stones set upon a field of pebbles is unicursal in design. Entering from the bottom of the labyrinth, visitors can walk its single, winding path from the circumference to the center and back out again.

Many years ago, we walked this labyrinth with a large, meditation group. I have also walked this labyrinth in quiet, private meditation. Since there is only one path to the center of the labyrinth and back out, it helps to quiet the mind while walking.

On Sunday afternoon we walked the labyrinth

peacefully,

on our own,

following the long, winding stone path.

While walking,

we lost track of direction,

of the outside world,

and although our feet were moving

our minds felt still.

Before leaving the grounds, we enjoyed a stop at the Quest Book Shop. It is a fascinating place to linger and explore, filled with books and other resources for meditation, yoga, health, metaphysics, psychology, and science encompassing beliefs from around the world.

 

Love.

Hope.

Nature.

Friendship.

Understanding.

Harmony.

Stillness.

Peace.

Namaste,

♡ Dawn

P.S.  Thank you so much for stopping to visit today. ♥ Where do you enjoy walking in nature?

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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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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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In Remembrance…

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Hi Friends,

The sun shone brightly on this September 11th morning. As I walked along the prairie, admiring the goldenrod, purple thistle, and bright yellow blossoms, it wasn’t the birdsong or the chirping crickets that interrupted my thoughts. It was the sound of airplanes flying overhead. It’s a very common part of the soundtrack of our lives here since we live near a major, international airport. It triggered an eerie memory, though, on this National Day of Remembrance, of a time when our skies overhead were silent for many days.

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As I neared the park the somber strains of the bagpipe drifted through the air over the crowd of neighbors gathered on this early Sunday morning. We were there to remember and honor the victims and their families of that terrible, terrible day fifteen years ago.  Patriot Day is now a very special time of remembrance every year on September 11th.

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We gathered this morning to commemorate all of the brave first responders who sacrificed their lives in service to others. A local firefighter remembered how a small group of firefighters from our town immediately left for New York. They made the journey specifically to attend the funerals of the New York and Port Authority fire fighters who lost their lives on 9-11. Since the New York area firefighters were in the midst of search and rescue, firefighters from across our nation arrived to support the families and to be there for the funerals.

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A local police officer shared his remembrance of that day right here in our town, over 800 miles from New York City. People were afraid, and the job of our police officers that day and long afterward was to reassure citizens that we were safe. Seeing an extra police presence on the local streets brought a sense of comfort in the weeks following 9-11.

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The names of those brave 343 firefighters and 71 police officers who instantly lost their lives while trying to save others were read aloud. There was a pause at 8:46 and 9:02 a.m. for a moment of silent reflection at the exact times that the planes hit the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. A local honor guard marked the sacrifice made by police officers with a three-shot salute and a local firefighter honored the fallen firefighters by ringing a fire bell, a longstanding tradition of firefighters.

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A veteran shared his memories of being called back to active duty and all of the young men and women who wanted to serve our country following the attacks. A young woman vividly and bravely shared her memories of that day and the impact it made on her life, inspiring her to become a high school counselor. We honored the memories of all those passengers on Flight 93.

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This morning’s ceremony ended with the display of an artifact from the World Trade Center, recently given to our local fire department by the New York and New Jersey Port Authority. This piece of steel is a rail from the subway tracks that ran underground at the World Trade Center. On 9-11, these tracks carried survivors out to safety. Soon this special remembrance will have a permanent place of honor at one of our fire stations.

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As we listened during the 90-minute ceremony, everyone’s thoughts turned to that day, fifteen years ago…

I can remember that sunny Tuesday morning, as if it were yesterday. As I drove into the school parking lot, a news report interrupted the music on the radio at 7:46 Central Time. The news of the first plane hitting the World Trade Center was an unbelievable shock. In that moment, we didn’t yet understand what was happening.  I paused to breathe. Just as every morning, I quietly spoke my intention, “Thank you for bringing me here” for the new school day. It was time to rush inside for a before-school meeting. During our meeting, news reached us that a second plane hit the Twin Towers.

The school bell rang and my second grade students arrived filled with concern and questions… so many questions. For they had all seen the news reports on TV before school. They were frightened and wanted to know if they and their families were safe. Even now, just thinking about that day brings tears to my eyes. Fortunately, our class was like a family, having ‘looped’ together from first grade into second grade. We felt the bonds of trust and closeness that were so important at a time like this. I remember spending a great deal of time talking about heroes. We talked a lot about the helpers, the firefighters, policemen and women, paramedics, doctors and nurses,… all of the people who help us.  I listened…and listened… and shared a few facts in age-appropriate ways. These curious, engaged children looked to me for answers every day, but sometimes there are no answers…

Mind you, I still had not seen any news reports or the horrific images that my seven-year-olds had seen. At lunchtime, I watched the news footage of the terrorist attacks for the first time. The new reality, that terrorist attacks had now reached our homeland, cut into my heart. As a traveler, I had been very aware of the attacks that had been happening in Europe over the years. Memories of arriving at the Frankfurt airport just days after an attack, seeing military with weapons on patrol, being careful not to look ‘American’ while traveling, and discovering that there were places I couldn’t go were etched in my heart. I was a frequent traveler who always dreamed of my next European adventure with dear friends. That feeling of being ‘Home Safe Home’ each time my plane landed here was gone in an instant! Everything had suddenly changed.

In the weeks and months following the attacks, we often talked about ways that we could help one another in second grade. “There are no hands too small to help the world” was a phrase we often said in our classroom. We would look at our own hands, then pick up our pencils and crayons to write ‘thank you ‘ letters to our firefighters. Our little hands stayed very busy! We wrote class letters to a deployed Army soldier (and he wrote back). We honored the veterans in our own families, and we raised money to help others. We loved to share ideas about all of the ways that we could help in our families and communities. Celebrating the helpers and being the helpers made us all feel better!

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That is the part of ‘Remembrance’ that I hold dear.  After the unthinkable had happened, Americans everywhere were so kind and supportive to one another. We truly showed that we cared about one another’s feelings and needs. We pulled together to help and make a difference. (Do you remember filling the firefighters’ boots with donations for the families of the NYC firefighters?) We talked together… and we listened to one another.  We were one… we were Americans, at our best!

On this Day of Remembrance, if only we could remember those same feelings of kindness and caring and helping one another. Instead of the constant political squabbles over the upcoming Presidential elections, maybe we could work together, have meaningful conversations, listen to one another, and try to solve the problems that face us all. We can be our best… I know we can.  

In remembrance,

♡ Dawn

P.S.  If you would like to share a memory, we would love to hear from you!

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