Winter Gardening

Hi Friends!

Rabbit! Rabbit! Wishing you the very best as we begin this new month together! I hope that you and your loved ones are staying safe and healthy… and warm! Know that I am keeping you close at heart as February begins.

I’ve been singing this song for the past few days…

Today is the perfect day to take a little walk through my garden! In Illinois, we have been experiencing a snow drought due to warmer than usual weather throughout November, December, and most of January. Over the past few days, though, my garden has turned into a ‘marshmallow world.’  Last Tuesday, we had six inches of snow. A big snowstorm on Saturday and Sunday added at least ten more inches. (Just over 40 centimeters in all.)  Bundle up! Let’s take a walk!

Gazing at all of the snow covered buds on our Magnolia tree, near the front porch, gives me such a feeling of hopefulness.

With the snow almost to the top of my boots, I made my way to the backyard. The towering Pine trees look lovely with their heavy boughs frosted in white.

The huge Rhododendron (nearly my age) grew in my mom’s garden when I was young. Today it looks exquisite adorned with sparkling snow and tiny icicles. The large buds fill me with even more hope as I dream of the billowing, pink blossoms that await us!

The Yucca plants, cloaked in white, also were gifts from my mom’s garden many years ago. I’m dreaming of their tall spikes filled with cream-colored blossoms. In the words of garden writer Sydney Eddison, “Gardens are a form of autobiography.” So true!  I treasure all of the stories that my garden holds. They truly warm my heart… even on the coldest of days!

The Mason Bee house hanging from our deck has been decorated by Mother Nature, as well. Last year, we noticed that several new bees emerged as the warm weather arrived. I hope they enjoyed our colorful, old-fashioned perennials and the blossoms on our herbs and mint plants!

The snow reached over the top of my boots as I peeked into the ‘heart of my garden.’ My Herb & Tea Garden will always be my very favorite place to while away the hours, savoring the heady scents of the culinary herbs and mints for tea.

It looks like Benjamin Bunny was hopping through the garden very early on this first day of February! I have noticed so many different tracks in the snow the past week. In addition to the rabbits and squirrels, I spotted some unusual animal tracks in the snow. The neighbors on both sides of us have seen coyotes and red foxes in our yard recently!

♥ ♥ ♥

My garden is such a special blessing in my life all year long! While the garden sleeps, protected under a thick, white blanket of snow, I especially enjoy the blessings of my little Paper Garden studio downstairs. Ink, paper, watercolors, paintbrushes, stamps, dies, and stencils are my ‘garden tools’ as I enjoy winter gardening in the studio. It’s chilly downstairs, so I always bundle up and bring hot tea to keep me warm as I make cards.

The most wonderful stamps and dies, from The Greetery, keep me inspired to do a bit of winter gardening!

Sprigs of winter berries and mistletoe, created using layered stamps and Distress Oxide inks, are ready to fill tiny paper Mason jars, vintage bottles, stoneware pitchers, and watering cans for future cards. I just love the chance to gather garden ‘bouquets’ all year long! 🙂

I have also been creating tiny Shiplap boards to build backgrounds on cards. First, I blended Distress Oxide inks onto white cardstock. The Shiplap die (also from The Greetery) embossed the wood grain as it cut these little, wooden planks. It was so relaxing to create tiny wooden walls for upcoming cards!

Feeling creative during the pandemic has been a real challenge for me. Our lives have been turned upside down for almost a year now. So, I’m trying extra hard to spend some of my time at home creating more handmade cards. I’m certain that receiving a ‘paper hug’ in the mailbox will warm hearts… when we need it most! 

Are you finding it hard to be creative in this moment?

Have you been spending a little time in nature?                                                       

Are you already making plans to get your vaccine?                                                     

Hope you will share with us…  

♥ ♥ ♥

Take extra good care!

Warm, squishy hugs,

♡ Dawn

Cold Hands, Warm Hearts!

Hi Friends!

“Snow makes whiteness where it falls,

The bushes look like popcorn balls.

Snow-covered evergreens

The places where I always play,

Snowy scallops on the white picket fence

Look like somewhere else today!”

(Credit:”First Snow” by Mary Louise Allen)

My ‘History Garden’ casts shadows in winter.

We woke up on Monday to blue skies and sunshine… finally! Early in the morning, I bundled up and went for a long-awaited walk through my Winter garden. Very slowly, I trudged through the deep, glittery snow, several inches higher than my warm boots.

We had measurable snowfall every day for nine consecutive days, from February 3rd through the 11th. It truly looked like we were living in a snow globe! 🙂  Each day as I peeked through our lace curtains, while sipping tea from a favorite antique teacup, the snowflakes danced over my garden like Winter’s butterflies. Many times, I reached into my special ‘Basket of Sunshine’ for an extra dose of coziness during our long stretch of snowy days.

Glittery snowflakes falling in a shaker card

Shoveling snow became my daily ‘workouts,’ often shoveling two or three times a day. Traditionally, my husband prefers the ease of a snowblower, while I prefer the peaceful sounds of a shoveling meditation. As I slowly scoop the snow from the sidewalks, I always take time to quietly enjoy our Wintertime shadow garden. Every year, I intentionally leave the tall stems and dried flower heads of my perennials standing, providing seeds and nesting materials for our feathered friends throughout the Winter months. Seeing these dried souvenirs in my flower beds always fills my heart with warm, sunny memories of happy days in the garden last Summer.

Winter snowfalls also provide nice visits with our neighbors, a quick wave or a brief chat, as we shiver together. Neighbors helping neighbors has always been an important part of the quiet street where we live. As a young homeowner when I moved here thirty-one years ago, I loved being the secret “snow angel” often helping my older neighbors. Years passed, and now we have become the grateful recipients of help with our snow.  We are so thankful for our neighbor, Ralf, who loves to help out with his enormous snowblower! Ours is tiny by comparison. During this snowy stretch, we also had a “secret snowman” who cleared our sidewalks and long driveway on two different days to surprise us! Such kindness is truly heartwarming and always so appreciated! 🙂

While the snowflakes tumbled down outside, it was the perfect time for some creative hours inside. I enjoyed playing with tiny Art Impressions Watercolor stamps and watercolor markers to practice some watercolor vignettes. At first, it was fun to create snowy scenes. However, as the snowflakes fell outside day after day, my my heart yearned to create tiny, sunny gardens.

Although it is very chilly in my little Paper Garden studio during the Winter months, I still bundle up and carry hot tea downstairs to make one or two cards at a time. This week, I have been creating floral cards to warm hearts of family and friends. Doing a bit of ‘gardening’ with paper and ink definitely warms my heart, too!

A lifelong letter writer, I have also been warming my heart by putting pen to paper. In quiet celebration of International Correspondence Writing Month (#InCoWriMo2018), I am enjoying writing long letters to dear friends. What a pleasure to decide who to write to, choose some pretty stationery from my desk drawer, and to fill a page or two with the breathings of my heart! I have also chosen a few names and addresses from the long list of international letter writers on the InCoWriMo 2018 website. I’m planning to write a few surprise letters! I chose someone who lives in my favorite little town in Wisconsin, someone in Ireland (a place I dream of visiting), someone in Paris (J’adore Paris!), and someone who has been such an inspiration for my journal writing.

All of my letters sent within the United States will carry a very special postage stamp. The Alzheimer’s semipostal stamp helps to raise awareness of this heartbreaking disease. Each Alzheimer’s stamp costs 65 cents and will help raise funds for the work that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is doing to help those suffering with this disease. This cause is very near and dear to my heart and it would mean so much to me if the friends of our blog would purchase the Alzheimer’s stamps at their local post offices. This new semipostal stamp will be available for two years. All of those small donations will make a difference in so many lives!

All of the special people who gather here

to read each post

and share their thoughts

definitely warm my heart!

This little Valentine

is especially for you!

Thanks so much for stopping to visit today!

Warmest hugs,

♡ Dawn

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A Blizzard of Blessings!

Snowy Greetings, friends!

What a weekend we had here in the Midwest! A massive storm developed as two weather systems collided, combined with the effect of Lake Michigan. The Blizzard of 2015 dropped twenty inches of snow, while high winds created large snowdrifts everywhere.

...

Sunday morning we woke up to several inches of heavy, wet snow.

Frigid. Exhausting. Swirling.

...

As the day went on, high winds swirled the snow around in the garden.

Deep. Drifting. Relentless.

...

The limbs of our pine trees were heavy with snow, as they swayed in the strong winds.

Dangerous. Stressful. Endless…

These were a few of the words

 that came to mind as we drifted off to sleep,

after spending Saturday evening and all day Sunday

working to keep up with the accumulating snow.

∗∗∗

ABC7 News reporter, Judy Hsu used time lapse to capture the

Blizzard of 2015 in her yard, in just 26 seconds! Amazing!!

Click here to see her video!

{With special thanks to Judy Hsu.}

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This morning,

as a new day dawned,

tiny snowflakes were falling gently.

Bright sunshine and blue skies soon revealed

the ‘Marshmallow World 

that was once our garden…

...

Mounds of snow turned our evergreen bushes into huge marshmallows.

Our herb

Snow piled halfway up the garden gate, burying our herbs under a white, fluffy blanket.

...

Marshmallow snow caps topped our white picket fence.

...

The pine trees were iced with heavy, wet snow.

...

Icicles began to form in the cold afternoon sunshine.

...

The seed heads and stems of Black-Eyed Susans created a ‘shadow garden’ on the glittery snow.

...

Rooftops and pine trees wore mounds of fluffy, marshmallow whiteness.

As I trudged through knee-deep snow in our garden this afternoon,

reflecting on the past thirty-five hours of falling snow,

my whole perspective changed…

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Although we had a very difficult thirty-five hours,

the Blizzard of 2015

had actually dropped a mixture of swirling snow

and a ‘Blizzard of Blessings’ upon us…

Sunday:

∗  Our family and friends were all safe.

∗ Our power stayed on through the storm, keeping us warm and cozy.

∗  My husband and I were together through the entire storm. It’s always nicer with two!

∗  A kind neighbor surprised us (twice!) by clearing our sidewalks with his huge snowblower.

∗  Using our small snowblower and shovels several times, we were able to clear our sidewalks and driveway.

∗  Neighbors waved to one another, as we weathered the storm together.

∗  Our family and friends, nearby and oh-so-far away, checked to be sure we were safe.

∗  Snowplow drivers worked throughout the storm to keep our suburban roads open.

∗  A big pot of lentil soup warmed us inside, so that we could keep shoveling outside.

∗  A cozy ‘time-out’ to watch Downtown Abbey provided a wonderful escape from the snow.

Monday:

∗  This morning, a group of crafty friends gathered to make Valentine cards and shared our blizzard tales.

∗  Today was a Snow Day for many students and teachers, keeping everyone safe.

∗ Huge trucks hauled the snow away from our library, so that families could come warm up with a good book.

∗  Big snowmen began appearing all over town!

∗  The snow-covered garden looked gorgeous sparkling in the afternoon sun.

∗  There was a beautiful sunset this evening.

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Our fifth snowiest storm ever

was a HUGE challenge for everyone.

As we remember the hardships of the Blizzard of 2015,

we are also counting our blessings.

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Now the storm is heading east,

where everyone is still recovering from last week’s historic blizzard.

We wish everyone still in its path a ‘Blizzard of Blessings’… along with all of the snow!

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We are expecting more snow tomorrow.

Today the Groundhog saw his shadow, predicting six more weeks of Winter. Brrrrr!

It’s the perfect week for some heartwarming fun ~

making Valentine cards and baking goodies to share!

Stay safe and warm!

♡ Dawn

            P.S.  Are you enjoying a snowy winter or a mild winter this year?