Together Again!

 

Hi Friends!

A-n-t-i-c-i-p-a-t-i-o-n can be a wonderful thing! The months and weeks leading up to the big day were filled with excitement and making plans. When September finally arrived, it was time to prepare a cozy, welcoming guest room for our very special friend.

Let’s start at the very beginning of this story…

The seeds of our very special friendship were sown 39 years ago. My Uncle Bill (who had moved to Germany, after serving in Vietnam) knew that his co-worker and friend would be passing through Chicago on a tour with her parents. He asked Iris to bring a packet of photos for us. We were so grateful for her kindness! So, my mother, my brother, and I met Iris and her parents at the Blackstone Hotel on a Sunday afternoon, in March. It was a day that would change lives forever!

Our families felt a friendship begin to sprout that afternoon, as Iris translated for all of us. There was so much to talk about as we got to know one another. Iris and I both felt a warm connection beginning to take root that day. We were both the same age and curious about the world. We promised to write letters to one another. As we parted ways, I told her, “If you’d ever like to come visit again, you are always welcome to stay with us!”

Just a few months later, Iris came back for an extended visit! 🙂  🙂

Our friendship began to blossom as Iris became a special part of our family and my circle of friends. My teaching career was just beginning and my dreams were just beginning to come true! The following summer, I went to visit Iris for several weeks. She lives in a beautiful city in southwest Germany, near the Black Forest. I felt so blessed to be welcomed into her family and her circle of friends during that wonderful summer in 1979.

Our special friendship has flourished as three decades have passed.  Since we were both single, footloose, and fancy-free, we were so fortunate to share our travel dreams together. Iris often came to visit me (during the even-numbered years) and I often visited her (during the odd-numbered years). Oh, the exciting adventures we have had together!!

Dear friends, together again!  🙂 🙂

(Full disclosure:  In the Munich beer garden, I just was holding the huge beer for a photo op! Beer has never been my ‘cup of tea.’ 🙂 )

Cars, buses, boats, trains, and planes have helped us to explore America and Europe together. In between our visits, letters, postcards, and phone calls were the water and sunshine that kept us close. I will always remember writing a letter and waiting weeks for a reply via overseas airmail. How fortunate we are to stay close so easily now, via email and occasional Skype visits!  🙂

Both of our lives have grown busier over the past several years. Yet, Iris and I have always kept one another very close at heart. I was so excited to introduce my husband to Iris (and all of my German family and friends), when we visited Germany five years ago to celebrate my Renaissance (the ‘R’ word that I use for Retirement)!  True friends, together again! 

Over the years, I have always grown Irises in my Friendship Garden, as I dreamed of another visit with my perennial friend. I carefully tended the yellow and purple blossoms as our friendship continued to grow and blossom.

Can you imagine the happiness that we all felt as we awaited a mid-September visit from our dear friend, Iris?

We filled our precious days together with some of our very favorite activities. We enjoyed a family gathering for our traditional Pumpkin Soup dinner. My parents and Iris enjoyed a nice Skype visit across the miles. We truly relished all of our relaxing evenings spent talking and laughing on the front porch, while the cicadas and the crickets serenaded us. Dear friends, together again!  🙂  🙂

We welcomed Autumn with a visit to Amish country in Northern Indiana. Iris and I have always loved exploring the peaceful countryside near Shipshewana and Middlebury and the clip-clop sounds of the Amish horse and buggies. My husband was fascinated by his first visit to Amish country.

Signs of Autumn were everywhere, while Summer-like temperatures soared to the mid-90s (twenty-five degrees above normal!). We admired beautiful Amish quilts and handmade furniture and were tempted by yummy baked goods and preserves. We learned a great deal about the history of the Amish and Mennonite people from the interesting tour guides and multi-media presentations at the Menno-Hof . Everywhere we went, the Amish people were eager to speak German (their first language) with Iris.

We spent our second day exploring the small town of Middlebury, Indiana. We enjoyed a colorful quilt shop and a beautiful Quilt Garden. Iris visited her first covered bridge. I will always remember our visits to an Amish home and farmstead to admire their handmade quilts.

My husband and I look forward to visiting other Amish communities in the future. Iris and I promised to carry the tranquil clip-clop sound of the horse and buggies with us when life returns to its usual busyness.

We all enjoyed spending a day at a Native American Harvest Pow-Wow. Dancers and drum circles from Indian Nations across the Midwest gathered for the weekend to share their traditional dancing, drumming, music, arts, and foods. It was a nice opportunity to talk with several Native Americans. It was fascinating to learn more about their traditions and the ceremonial herbs used in their sacred fire circle. The dancers and drummers endured two days of unseasonably hot, humid weather to share their traditions and we felt so grateful for the opportunity to experience another Pow-Wow. (You might like to visit the large Red Mountain Eagle Pow-Wow with us on the Pima-Maricopa Reservation last Fall, in Arizona, here.)

The next day, we cooled off with a peaceful walk along the beaches of Lake Michigan, at Illinois Beach State Park.  Lake Michigan is one of the five Great Lakes. Its name comes from the Ojibwe word “michi-gami” (meaning ‘great water’).  During past visits, we have enjoyed sailing on Lake Michigan with dear friends!

Then it was time to share some of my favorite places closer to home. Iris and I enjoyed lovely walks in nature at a nearby Arboretum and along our native prairie. We visited nearby greenhouses to admire their expansive collection of beautiful orchids. We visited my favorite library and two favorite shopping malls. (Her suitcase was extra-full on her trip home!)

We thrive on new experiences! So, Iris sat in a sporty, red Tesla and learned all about it. She always dreamed of sitting on a Harley. So, we wandered through the Harley-Davidson dealership as a friendly salesperson answered all of our questions.  For a new taste treat, Iris enjoyed her first burrito!

We squeezed many new adventures into our time together. I will always cherish our times reminiscing (and laughing) about our adventures over the past 39 years. What fun to look through photo albums filled with happy memories of our times together in Germany (and so many places in Europe) and America!

When I look back on our 2017 visit, I will always remember three special sounds:  the clip-clop of the Amish horse and buggies, the call of the drums at the Harvest Pow-Wow, and laughterso much laughter! Our time together just overflowed with happiness and hugs!

As always, our visit flew by much too quickly. Of course, we didn’t say, “Goodbye.” Instead I promised, “Bis bald.” (“See you soon!”) Our next adventure might happen here, there, or somewhere in between. 🙂 🙂  Dear friends, together again!

 

♥♥♥

Heartfelt thanks for taking the time to visit today! It has been very quiet here on our blog for several weeks now.  With everything happening in America and beyond, it felt kind of trivial to share my words. Unbelievable wildfires, the destruction caused by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Jose, Maria, and now Nate, a devastating earthquake in Mexico,…  and then the heartbreaking gun violence in Las Vegas.

Long ago, I experienced the dangers of Nature’s fury. I do know how it feels to have one’s life unexpectedly turned upside down. The effects last long after the clean-up. We cannot forget the people in Texas, Florida, and the islands. They will need our help for a long time as they put their lives back together.  If you have been affected by recent storms or are one of the brave first responders, please let us know how you are doing.

Blogging has become such an important part of my creative journey. I have been giving it a great deal of thought over the past weeks. Perhaps when times are difficult in our world, it is important to share my voice… and a little dose of sunshine! ♥♥

I’m looking forward to visiting all of my blog friends in the coming days, too. 🙂

Warmest hugs,

♡ Dawn

P.S.  This weekend we will celebrate World Cardmaking Day!  I’ll be back very soon to share!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Timeless Treasures

TimelessTreasures

Hi Friends!

Two of my favorite timeless treasures have always been old houses and antique quilts.

The chance to admire both, in a peaceful, charming setting

is always a wonderful treat for me!

A few weeks ago, I enjoyed a special visit to the

9th Annual “All Around the House” Quilt Show,

at Fischer Farm. 

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The main farmhouse was built by the Fischer family in the 1920s. Over the years, it has been lovingly restored,

telling the story of this hardworking, Midwestern farm family.

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The original 1838 homestead was built when the Fischer family immigrated from Germany.

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The Milk Barn and other preserved buildings offer a glimpse of farm life between 1838 and 1930.

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For one glorious weekend each Spring,

Fischer Farm invites quilters and quilt lovers to gather here.

Over 100 quilts were carefully hung on all of the walls throughout the farmhouse.

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Some of the quilts are original to the Fischer family.

Many more have been shared by private collectors and local quilters for display during this show. 

Several of the quilts were for sale during the show.

(I would love to give credit to each of these quiltmakers.

Please let me know if you can help identify any of the talented people who made these quilts!)

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It was so delightful to slowly walk through the farmhouse admiring all of the

beautifully preserved woodwork, floors, and furniture.

Admiring the antique quilts was truly the ‘icing on the cake!’

(I wished that I could reach out and touch each quilt,

but of course, these treasures can only be touched by their owners.)

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White-gloved volunteers shared a fascinating ‘bed turning’ presentation.

As they carefully turned back each layer of quilts on the antique bed,

they paused to tell the story of each quilt.

It was so interesting to see how the styles, patterns, and colors changed over the years.

Most important of all, each quilt held a story!

This Embroidered Baskets quilt belonged to Esther Fischer (1904-1999), who grew up in this bedroom.

She became a teacher and taught at the nearby, one-room Fischer Schoolhouse.

Esther lived in this farmhouse until she moved in 1986.

There were tears in my eyes as I heard the story of her special quilt.

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The soft fabrics, muted colors, and delicate stitches of antique quilts always warm my heart.

Oh, the family stories, hopes, and dreams that have been thoughtfully stitched into each quilt!

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Although I am not a quilter, I have always had a passion for quilts.

As I was growing up, I watched my mother lovingly create a beautiful quilt, block by block.

I will always remember all of the love that was handstitched into her beautiful sampler quilt.

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I have enjoyed visiting quilt auctions, quilt shows, and quilt shops for so many years.

A small collection of Amish and vintage quilts adds such warmth to our home. Each one holds a wonderful story of how it came to be part of our home.  I often think of the countless hours the quiltmakers worked designing, cutting, piecing, and quilting each treasured work of art. “Grandmother’s Flower Garden” will always be my favorite traditional quilt pattern!

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As I admired the timeless beauty of each quilt,

I had the chance to talk with several of the talented quilters.

They were all so welcoming,

while sharing their passion for quilting and teaching me more about antique quilts.

Although I explained that I am not a quilter, just a quilt-lover,

they invited me

to come to their twice-weekly gathering of quilters.

At that moment, I discovered what makes quilts such timeless treasures ~

it is the quilters themselves,

and the love that they stitch into their works of art!

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As I left the farmhouse, I followed the path to the old barn,

filled with antique quilts, vintage linens, fat quarters, and quilting books for sale.

All of the friendly quilters continued to share more

about their beloved art.

To thank each of the quilters for their kindness,

I shared the happy news

that fabrics designed by Susan Branch are now available online.

Quilters will absolutely love Susan’s charming, hand painted designs!

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Although I didn’t purchase any quilts or fabrics at the quilt show,

my heart was filled with wonderful inspiration!

I soaked up lovely color combinations and designs to bring into my papercrafting studio,

where I love making little paper-pieced ‘quilts’ on my handmade cards.

What an inspiring morning it was!

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Ever since the quilt show, I have been thinking about how

writing a blog is a tiny bit like making a quilt.

Bloggers create a handmade

patchwork of stories,

stitched with the warm comments of their readers,

pieced together from all parts of the world,

 with patches of

wisdom, memories, and joy.

These delicate threads hold us all together

through good times and bad times,

sharing the present and remembering the past,

always comforted with love.

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Petals.Paper.SimpleThymes is two years old today!!

I’m ‘sew’ grateful

for all of the warm friendships

that our little blog has stitched together.

 Each of you

helps to piece together our stories,

with warmth and love…

and tied with heartstrings!

♡♡

Thank you so much for stopping to visit today.

Warmest hugs!

♡Dawn

P.S.  One of my very first blog posts was about the 2014  “All Around the House” Quilt Show at Fischer Farm. ♥ Do you have a favorite post or type of story that you really enjoy? ♥ I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Hidden Gems of Cedarburg

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Hi Friends!

On our recent visit to the quiet town of Cedarburg, Wisconsin, we explored Washington Avenue from top to bottom, soaking up all of its friendly, festive, Christmas charm. As darkness fell, the tiny, white lights and buildings decked in fresh evergreen garlands gave this peaceful, historic town a truly magical, holiday feeling. We were looking forward to one more day to explore!

The next morning, after a thoroughly enjoyable, leisurely breakfast conversing with the innkeeper at The Stagecoach Inn B&B, we set off to explore three of the hidden gems of Cedarburg. These treasures helped us to reflect on more simple thymes…

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Cedarburg is home to the last remaining Covered Bridge in Wisconsin. Just imagine how many wagons and cars traversed this pine bridge from 1876 until 1962.

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Now retired, this covered bridge is enjoyed by pedestrians who come to experience this nostalgic part of our history. Today it is surrounded by a lovely park on both banks of the river. It is a joy to behold throughout the changing seasons!

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As we walked across this historic bridge, we lingered to admire the beauty of its construction.

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We also pondered some of the reasons why covered bridges were built in the early days.  There is still much speculation about the reasons for this type of bridge construction among historians and history buffs. A popular theory is that the bridges were covered to protect these wooden structures from the weather. Protecting the wood from exposure to rain, snow, ice, and sun allowed bridges to last much longer.

Covered bridges also helped the cattle to cross the river, without being frightened by the sight of the fast moving water below.  When frightened by the water, the cattle might hesitate to cross the bridge or they may have stampeded across the bridge. Some towns fined travelers if their horses or cattle stampeded across bridges, due to the damage they might cause. Some historians say that the shape of the covered bridges might look like barns to the cattle, so they would enter them more easily.

Covered bridges also gave passengers a dry place take shelter during rainstorms and snowstorms. Engineers say that the roof and walls helped to strengthen the structure. Have you heard any other stories about the reasons bridges were covered? Today the remaining covered bridges offer a lovely, romantic glimpse into life in simpler thymes!

Cedar Creek Settlement

As we meandered through the shops and studios in the historic Cedar Creek Settlement, we discovered another hidden gem. Climbing the time-worn, wooden stairs in this former woolen mill built in 1864, we spent time in several antique shops within the thick stone walls of the settlement. We stopped in our tracks as we entered

A Room to Explore: Tribal Accents and Antiques,

tucked away on the third floor. What had we found? Oh my!

Gallery owners Mark and Mary Jo Wentzel are sharing their lifetime passion of African cultures and arts with the fortunate visitors who enter their shop. They are offering artifacts from many different tribal areas of Africa.

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We spoke at length with Mark Wentzel about his time spent teaching at the University of Sierra Leone years ago. Over the years, he returned to Africa many, many times leading groups of student volunteers to help in tribal areas.

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Along with the one-of-a-kind tribal artifacts for sale, Mark had amazing stories to share about each piece. As he taught us about these special artifacts, Mark often pulled out old photographs taken long ago with the tribal artisans who created these pieces. Oh, the stories Mark can share with the fortunate visitors to this special shop!

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A Room to Explore is filled with the cultural artifacts and antiques Mark has collected over the past 40 years, including masks, statues, baskets, books, textiles, and lithographs. Mark Wentzel is a respected presenter and appraiser on African arts. He has donated so many artifacts to the collections of three universities. His expertise and passion for tribal artifacts is a true gem! We were so grateful for the fascinating stories that Mark shared with us!

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An old schoolhouse filled with handmade quilts, be still my heart! 

From 1887 until 1958, Hamilton School was a busy place to learn and grow. The learning continues within these walls even today. Ye Olde Schoolhouse Quilt Shop, in historic Cedarburg, Wisconsin is a true handmade hidden gem!

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This treasure of a shop specializes in reproduction fabrics. They offer an amazing variety of patterns, threads, stitchery kits, books, magazines, and notions. Friendly assistance, encouragement, and a warm welcome help make this quilt shop extra special. The Gathering Place, on the lower level, is a wonderful haven for quilters to learn, grow, and share with one another.

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Although I am not a quilter, I love and appreciate quilts of all kinds. I could spend hours studying the patterns, colors, and stitches on these beautiful, handmade treasures. Certainly, this will inspire more pieced-paper ‘quilts’ on my handmade cards!

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As we walked through the old schoolhouse, our thoughts turned to much simpler thymes. Old photos of the former students reminded us of the proud history of this little school. Just imagine the teacher ringing the school bell each morning, calling the students to come here to learn. Even today, this little schoolhouse continues to be a wonderful place of learning!

Ye Olde Schoolhouse Quilt Shop, a true hidden gem near the banks of Cedar Creek, was a perfect last stop on our wonderful visit to Cedarburg. It helped to ‘stitch’ together all of the wonderful, heartwarming memories we made during our Cedarburg celebration! We are already looking forward to our next visit!

What hidden gems have you discovered  lately?

We would love to hear about them!

Take time to explore!

♡ Dawn

P.S.   Thank you so much for taking the time to stop and visit today! ♡ The simple pleasures help make life oh-so-sweet!

 

Stitched with Love

Hi Friends,

Have you ever discovered a hidden treasure in your own backyard? A few weeks ago, we found a real treasure! It was a bright, sunny Saturday morning, just the kind of day meant to slow down and step back in time. Our destination was the old Fischer Farm.  Although this historic gem is located in a nearby town, we had never visited the farm before.  I was really looking forward to their seventh annual “All Around the House” Quilt Show, the perfect time to enjoy two of my very favorite things ~ old houses and antique quilts!

Fischer Farm

The main Fischer Farm house was built in 1920.

We were greeted by an antique quilt, dancing in the breeze, as we walked up to the farm house. This was my kind of place and I couldn’t wait to step inside and explore! Over the years, this beautiful home has been lovingly restored, with original woodwork and period furnishings upstairs and downstairs. Friendly guides shared the history of the Fischers, a German immigrant family.  Their original 1838 homestead and all of the preserved farm buildings on the grounds offer a glimpse into farm life from 1838 through 1930. We are already making plans to visit again! So many special events are planned at Fischer Farm throughout the year.

 

 

 

 

The colors and the lovely blocks made this quilt stand out!

The warm colors and the lovely blocks made this contemporary quilt stand out!

The Quilt Show was just lovelyl! Handmade antique and contemporary quilts were hung from all of the walls throughout the house. (I would love to give credit to each of the quiltmakers! Please let me know if you can help identify any of the talented people who made these quilts.) In one of the bedrooms, we watched a “bed turning” presentation. White-gloved volunteers carefully turned down layers of quilts on an antique bed, pausing to share the stories of each of the eight quilts. It was just fascinating to see how the styles, patterns, and colors  changed over the years. We are so fortunate that so many families carefully preserved their well-loved quilts.

 

 

 

 

 

Vintage quilts

We admired the timeless beauty, soft colors, and delicate stitching.

 

 

 

I am always drawn to the soft fabrics, delicate handstitching, and warm colors of antique quilts. Although I’m not a quilt maker, my small collection of Amish and vintage quilts adds such warmth to our home. Each one holds a wonderful story of how it came to be part of our home.  I often think of the countless hours the quiltmakers worked designing, cutting, piecing, and quilting each treasured work of art. “Grandmother’s Flower Garden” will always be my favorite traditional quilt pattern!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I loved the striking pattern and bright colors in this quilt.

I loved the striking pattern and bright colors in this quilt.

After admiring all of the quilts displayed throughout the farm house, we made a beeline to the bright red barn out back to see the antique quilts and vintage linens for sale. There were so many lovely quilts just waiting for new homes! I picked out two hand quilted pillows that will add a welcoming touch to our porch swing during the warm summer days ahead. I also found some vintage red, white, and blue pieced squares to hang as festive bunting for the Fourth of July. It was so nice to bring home these beautiful, handmade memories ~ all stitched with love!

 

♡ Dawn

 

P.S.  Do you have a favorite quilt pattern? How do you display your quilts?