A ‘Basket of Sunshine’

Hi Friends!

I’m certain that you already have everything

that you need at home.

So let’s create a ‘Basket of Sunshine’ together!

Very often, I reach for a tiny, gem of a book,

The Little Book of Hygge

(Danish Secrets to Happy Living). 

The author of this happy, little book, Meik Wiking, is the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute, in Copenhagen. He thoroughly understands hygge (pronounced HOO-GA)… and happiness!

Each time I turn the pages, I feel so inspired by the feelings of well-being, coziness, and togetherness celebrated in Danish homes. Living a simple life, filled with gratitude, can bring such comfort into our busy days. Pure hygge!

Being mindful of the health benefits of small touches of nature also adds feelings of hygge to our homes. It’s no wonder that the Danes are known as the happiest people in the world!

Meik Wiking suggests preparing a Hygge Emergency Kit  filled with essential items for those times when we all need a pick-me-up. Inspired by his list of helpful suggestions, yesterday I created a ‘Basket of Sunshine’ of my very own. I already had everything that I needed right here at home!

I brought up a large, empty basket from my Paper Garden studio downstairs. Instantly, I felt inspired to fill it with ‘happy’ things! The pink and white plaid scarf is one that I brought back from a very special visit to Paris one December. I just love wrapping up in this cozy scarf, overflowing with warm, happy memories! I added some letters and cards from friends and family, too. Writing letters always adds sunshine to my days! Next I tucked in the inspiring book Wabi-Sabi Welcome, by Julie Pointer Adams. I’m enjoying this book immensely as I soak up ideas for embracing the imperfect in our home and inviting friends to gather here. It feels sunny just dreaming up plans as I read!

Next, I tucked in two beloved journals. It gladdens my heart to savor my Morning Pages and my Garden Joys journals from 2017.  I just had to squeeze in two tiny photo albums filled with memories of lovely gatherings with my favorite author, Susan Branch. Looking back at all of the special photos from a book signing event and two enchanting tea parties with Susan fills my heart with the joy of dreams-come-true.

Music always soothes my soul. So, I added a few CDs: Nora Jones’ Come Away with Me is a perennial favorite. Her soulful, jazz vocals are so relaxing! Andean Nation’s Contrasts combines acoustic guitar and the haunting sound of bamboo pipes. I can still feel the warmth of their live performance as we walked through a lovely art fair, one afternoon in the desert Southwest. Instant sunshine!  The Elegance of Pachelbel is such wonderful music for writing and meditation. My heart melts each time I hear Pachelbel’s Canon in D. Nearly ten years ago, an acoustic guitarist played it so beautifully as my dad walked me down the aisle. Joy! Joy! Joy!

Tea makes everything better. So, I added tins of Blackberry Sage and Ginger Peach tea. I tucked in a pretty candle and there was just enough room to squeeze in a small dish of dark chocolate Kisses. Sweet little touches of happiness!

Deciding which cozy things would fill my very first ‘Basket of Sunshine’ was a delight!  I just gathered the items as I wandered from room to room. The whole process felt joyous. Whether it is a cold, snowy day, a time of worry about loved ones facing difficult times, or the need to escape from the news for a bit, now I know just where to turn for an extra dose of hygge. My ‘Basket of Sunshine’ is ready to fill my heart with cozy, happy, peaceful moments!  Every few weeks, it will be nice to add new elements of ‘sunshine’ to this special basket.

Perhaps the idea will catch on… and you will make a ‘Basket of Sunshine,’ too!  We’d love to hear what things you might add to your own basket. Hope you will share with us!

Until next time, stay cozy and be well.

Thanks so much for stopping to visit today!

Warmest hugs!

♡ Dawn

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Christmas Past

Hi Friends!

Just a little fairy tale today…

Once upon a time, there was a little girl

who dreamed big dreams.

Along her way she collected

cherished people,

cherished places,

and cherished memories.

Very sentimental, and a bit old-fashioned, 

she kept Christmas in her heart

all year long.

Over the years, her Christmas tree

filled up with treasured stories

and became a precious ‘scrapbook’

0f her life.

As a child, I watched with admiration as my mom hand stitched a beautiful quilt. For my very first Christmas tree, my mom surprised me with a handmade dove and star, lovingly hand stitched with scraps she saved from her quilt. So precious!

The oldest ornaments on her tree

were lovely handmade gifts

from family and friends,

for her very first Christmas tree

in her apartment.

Throughout my childhood, I have wonderful memories of my dad restoring our Model A Ford. My love of antiques began with those fun rides in the ‘rumble seat’ in our Model A. He taught me how to use tools and years later helped me to restore my old house into a cozy home. For my first Christmas tree, my dad surprised me with a handmade Model A of my own! 

 

While growing up, I admired my Aunt Carlene’s ‘People Tree’ every Christmas. All of her ornaments were gifts from family and friends. I knew that I would have a ‘People Tree’ of my own one day! Aunt Carlene lovingly hand stitched this Santa and rocking horse to surprise me for my very first Christmas tree. (She worked on them while sitting in a little boat on vacation, as my uncle fished.) Truly a labor of love!

Years later, she began to celebrate Christmas

in a cozy, little home of her own.

Every December,

just after her birthday,

her brother would come with his truck

to help her choose the perfect tree.

Oh, those frigid days, as he patiently

twirled each tree on the lot,

until she found the ‘perfect’ one!

 

One extremely cold day, my brother and I put up my partially-frozen Christmas tree. My whole family helped to decorate it. A few hours later, we heard a loud crash, as my beautiful Christmas tree hit the floor, sending ornaments flying everywhere! As the branches thawed, they had pushed the tree away from the wall tipping it over. This precious ornament (a gift from my brother years before) was in need of repair. So, he patiently glued the pieces back together. Good as new… and even more special!

Her Christmas tree also holds

cherished memories of her travels

over the years.

Many years ago, I spent a magical Christmas in Germany, with my dear friend, Iris, and her family and friends. I bought the candles and candle clips there to bring a bit of German Christmas tradition to my tree. The wooden mouse came from the Christkindlesmarkt in her city in southwest Germany. (It has been enjoyed by hundreds of my young students over the years, as we studied ‘Christmas Around the World’ to learn the origins of our holiday traditions!) The glass ornaments were special gifts from my Christmas in Germany.

 

This handmade, wooden ornament is from the Czech Republic. I dreamed of visiting Prague and Iris carefully planned our adventure there. I was delighted to find this beautiful Christmas ornament for my tree on a hot, summer day in Prague!

 

Years later, she met the one

who melted her heart…

and made her want to say “I do.”

Ever since their first Christmas,

they have been trimming their tree together.

Now he knows all of her stories

that each ornament holds.

Beautiful glass ornaments

from his childhood Christmas tree

also add a very special sparkle

to their tree.

Now she knows all of the

cherished stories of his life, too. 🙂

A gift from a dear friend, this ornament always melts my heart and makes me smile. It looks just like us!

 

Their Christmas tree is filled with a lifetime of

memories and blessings!

If you peek under their Christmas tree

this year,

you won’t find many packages.

The many gifts they are giving are

gifts of kindness,

gifts of helping,

gifts of caregiving,

and gifts to their favorite charities.

♥♥♥

This little fairy tale comes from

our true story, The ‘Heart’ of Christmas.

(Click here for the story!)

♥♥♥

We know that sometimes the holidays can be

a very difficult time.

Hopefully, looking back on the memories

of Christmas Past

and looking ahead to brighter days

will remind you that you are

wrapped in our love…

 

Handmade wishes… especially for you!

 

Warm wishes to all this holiday season!

Wishing you peace, love, and hope

in the coming year.

Heartfelt thanks for the gift of your friendship!

 

Comfort and joy!

Dawn

 

 

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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!

⚛⚛⚛

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!

Spark Joy

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Hi Friends!

Brrrrrr! In the Midwest, March certainly “roared in like a lion” yesterday bringing sleet and snow. This morning we woke up to bright sunshine and single-digit temperatures. More snow is on the way tomorrow. By this time of year, I always take Shelley’s quote to heart. These words, carefully stitched and framed, are hanging near the back door, to warm our hearts as we head out into the cold!

I’m so happy to welcome all of the new ‘kindred spirits’ who have begun following our blog over the past few weeks! There is so much to see hidden behind the slide-out sidebar. (Just click near the top of the orange bar). Brew a warm cup of tea and spend some cozy moments exploring the blog archives and the tag cloud. I hope you will find something to warm your heart and make you smile!

Life has slowed down considerably during the past few weeks due to a lengthy illness. Doctor’s visits seem to be my only adventures lately. I have been following doctor’s orders to the letter hoping to feel better very soon. While resting, I have enjoyed lots of extra reading time. I couldn’t wait to share a few thoughts about a new book…

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After reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up last summer, I eagerly awaited Marie Kondo’s follow-up book, Spark Joy. Fortunately, our library ordered several copies hot off the press in January. As I read, I searched for tips to recharge the next phase of my own Tidying Up celebration.

I will always cherish KonMari’s philosophy of Tidying Up, so wonderfully explained in her first book. KonMari’s new book, Spark Joy, added a few more tips that will be helpful as I finish tidying up komono (miscellaneous items) in the kitchen and two more closets. The biggest challenge of the Tidying Up celebration is always saved for last ~ deciding which sentimental items to keep. Armed with another dose of KonMari’s motivation and tips, I’m ready to take on the next part of my celebration!

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 As I read, I made note of a few of KonMari’s tips from Spark Joy that truly resonated with me. As I put her ideas into practice, I would love to share them with you. It was very interesting to read how KonMari has mellowed in her Tidying Up instructions, since getting married and the birth of her daughter. While staying true to her philosophy of having only those items that spark joy in your home, Spark Joy feels more realistic for today’s busy, complicated lifestyles.

Last Autumn, I enjoyed Tidying Up clothing and books. It was surprisingly easy to decide which items to keep! As I held each item in my hands, I could feel those that sparked joy in my heart. The paperwork category was much harder to tidy up. First, I stopped to do a bit of research to be sure that I was saving all of the necessary financial, household, and insurance papers. It was more of a challenge to feel the joy, as I began shredding papers from the file cabinets. (Honestly, there is still a bit of shredding to finish up!) I’m taking it slowly, against KonMari’s advice to work quickly. ‘Better safe than sorry’ when it comes to shredding!

I intentionally planned an extra-long break from my Tidying celebration throughout the holiday season. Although KonMari’s method of working by category is brilliant, it does create a huge mess while working through the process! Be mindful of this fact if you are planning a Tidying Up celebration of your own. In fact, in Spark Joy, KonMari says that as long as you apply the basics, it’s okay to do your own unique version of Tidying Up.

I’m still very enthusiastic about the process! Although I have had to slow down for the past few weeks, it is my intention to complete my once-in-a-lifetime Tidying Up celebration before the garden wakes up. I’m already looking forward to the next get-together of our little ‘Spark Joy’ club. We are a group of dear friends who live locally and enjoy getting together to encourage one another in this adventure. We always have such funny stories to share about Tidying Up!

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Yesterday, inspired by Marie Kondo’s thoughts on “becoming a person who matches the books you’ve kept,” I took a peek at some of the books that spark joy that I kept in my book collection…

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Most of my treasured books are nonfiction. On cold winter days, what could be more fun than reading gardening books and dreaming garden dreams?

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I’m truly passionate about growing perennials and herbs. Thoughts of spending hours tending the plants in my white picket fence herb garden warm my heart all winter long. I can still remember the day I bought The Pleasure of Herbs, while visiting a dear friend in Minnesota. From the moment I opened that book, I knew that herbs would always be a very special part of my garden!

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Although I don’t plant a vegetable garden, these are a few of the cookbooks that inspire recipes with fresh, organic ingredients. The Produce Bible is a great reference, filled with wonderful tips.  Tasha Tudor has always been one of my gardening inspirations.

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This stack of books feels right at home on a table beside my rocking chair. It is filled with inspiration for simple gatherings with family and friends, gardening, and lovely watercolors from nature.

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This small stack of books holds an antique lamp, on a tiny table beside the sofa in the living room. I enjoy reading these books often, choosing recipes for tea parties. Small gatherings of kindred spirits sharing tea make such special memories! Tea for two is my very favorite way to stay close to dear friends.

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Oh, my heart! Most of my friends know that Susan Branch has been my inspiration since her very first book was published. This is just part of my most favorite book collection of all. Heart of the Home will always be an extra-special book. I bought it for my mom when it was first published. She enjoyed it for so many years, and then gifted it back to me! I have given Susan’s books as gifts so often. Whenever I am antiquing, I always look for out-of-print Susan Branch books for special gifts. Such serendipity to find just the right book for a special friend!

Next month, Susan’s newest book, Martha’s Vineyard ~ Isle of Dreams, will arrive in the mail. It’s such a thrill every time a new book is published! I’m sure this will be my very favorite book of all. It is Part Two of Susan’s handlettered, watercolored memoir. I just can’t wait to read all about how she bought a little home of her own, planted a garden, grew as an artist, and met the love of her life! Kindreds to be sure!! I’m simply thrilled to enjoy Afternoon Tea with Susan Branch again in May, at a large tea party and book signing in her honor! Such a fan girl!

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My books most definitely reflect the person I aspire to be!

They spark joy in my life… and inspire me to ‘blossom’ every day!

♥♥♥

I’d love to hear about the most special books in your collection!

Perhaps we share some of the same favorites, as kindred spirits often do…

Happy Reading!

♡ Dawn

P.S.  Heartfelt thanks for all of the beautiful cards, phone calls, and emails! Your friendships have truly warmed my heart and brightened my days! ♡♡

 

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!

 

Autumn Treasures

CelebrateAutumn

Hi Friends!

We are celebrating another lovely Autumn weekend here in the Midwest! The leaves are just beginning to show their colors. The next two weekends should be prime time for leaf peeping in our area. Midwesterners are making the most of our nice weather.

Perhaps you can guess why we left home very early on a chilly Saturday morning to drive out to the countryside…

As long as I can remember, one of my very favorite pastimes has been antiquing. I have such sweet childhood memories of tagging along with my parents at outdoor antique fairs, learning about the fascinating things that were part of daily life for our ancestors. As I grew, so did my love for the old ways and the simple things that make a ‘Home Sweet Home.’

Now at a vintage age myself, I still love the anticipation of the hunt and the thrill of learning more about old, well-worn treasures. You just never know when you will find something that sparks joy! It’s always a treat to find inspiration for new ways to use my own antiques. From time to time, a tiny treasure or two might even come home with us!

This pretty park sits along the peaceful, historic waterway.

This pretty park sits along a peaceful, historic waterway. The small town of Morris is just a one hour drive from Chicago.

On Saturday, we visited the last 3 French Hens French Country Market of the year, held in the small town of Morris, Illinois. Over 140 vendors set up their booths in Canalport Park, along the banks of the historic I & M Shipping Canal. I practically danced into the park! There is always so much inspiration here… I could just feel it in the air!

DSCN5941It’s so interesting to peek at the upcycled items ~

especially signs made from old barn wood, vintage doors, or tobacco lath.

I always take time to admire the fonts, the time-worn wood, and the sayings on each piece.

DSCN5939Vintage frames were in abundance at this month’s fair.

Some were turned into chalkboards. Others held chicken wire and clothespins to create display boards.

DSCN5952There were so many memories here, too!

While growing up, I played at a small, wooden, roll top desk that was passed down through our family.

The red handled rolling pin looks just like the one in my kitchen today.

I can remember a Charles Chips cookie tin at our house, too.

It’s always a happy stroll down Memory Lane!

DSCN5943Vintage wooden ironing boards were popular.

Old doors were definitely trending here!

They were repurposed into hall trees with bench seats, book shelves, coffee tables, and chalkboards.

I was thankful to see the original hardware preserved on each door.

DSCN5947Autumn’s gifts were everywhere!

Bittersweet bundles were cut from roadside plants in Indiana.

Farmers brought their fruits, vegetables, and honey.

DSCN5945Pumpkins and gourds were everywhere!

DSCN5950Our search for the perfect pumpkins and gourds

always leads us to Anderson Pumpkins.

These expert growers harvest over 102 varieties on their

farm in nearby Newark, Illinois.

DSCN5949It’s fascinating to learn more about pumpkins and squash from them each year.

We learned that pumpkins will be more scarce this season

due to our cool, very wet June.

(Insider tip straight from the grower ~

“If you buy canned pumpkin for Thanksgiving baking,

it’s a good idea to buy it extra early this year. Supplies could be short!)

DSCN5810The blessings of Autumn

were everywhere we looked at the

 3 French Hens French Country Market.

Beautiful chrysanthemums, long bundles of dried wheat,

bales of hay, and bouquets of bright, orange Chinese Lanterns

were a celebration of Autumn in the Midwest.

A few bits

of holiday magic

were sprinkled in, too!

DSCN5956The most wonderful time of the year

is just around the corner!

DSCN5955What a wonderful Autumn morning!

There were little treasures that

sparked joy ~

a small, silverplated ‘Bride Basket’ plate (made in England) for holiday tea parties,

a bar of handmade ‘Ocean Sunrise’ soap, scented with peppermint, lemon, and eucalyptus,

and small pumpkins and gourds to create Autumn centerpieces.

Best of all, my heart is filled with inspiration!

⚛⚛⚛

We bought delicious fare for

our picnic lunch

and headed off

further into the countryside

to our afternoon destination…

This beautiful place is really old!

It’s an original ‘antique’

dating back

 10,000 years!

Can’t wait to share… next time!

I’m so grateful that you made time to stop and visit today.

Wishing everyone bright, colorful Autumn (or Springtime!) days ahead!

Sending warm Thanksgiving Blessings to our friends in Canada!

Cherish today!

♡Dawn

P.S.  What Autumn activities have you been enjoying lately?

A Gift ~ Tied with Heartstrings

Tea and cake for a celebration

Hi Friends!

It felt like a gift! Truly it did!

It was one of those gifts that we wait a very long time for, making it feel even sweeter.

I wasn’t alone, as I waited. Thousands of Girlfriends were also waiting!

Beloved author, Susan Branch, has been hard at work for over a year, pouring through the diaries she has kept since her 20s and all of her cherished, old photos. She was lovingly writing her memoir, watercoloring her illustrations, and choosing just the right photos to tell her story.  Her newest book, The Fairy Tale Girl, published in September, is what we have all been waiting for!

Susan Branch book collection

My treasured collection of Susan Branch books

After reading her books again and again through the years, Susan’s devoted readers already knew many parts of her story. Her charming blog posts let us peek into her wonderful life today on Martha’s Vineyard.

Susan Branch speaking at Westmoreland Country Club

Susan is such a wonderful storyteller!

Over the years, so many of us have been blessed to meet Susan. We smiled as she shared her delightful stories about traveling through the English Countryside at book signings across the country. We listened with rapt attention, at a tea party in her honor, as she told us about the time she met the Beatles.

Susan Branch signing books after tea party

What a joy to meet Susan for the second time, at a lovely tea party!

Last May, Susan’s legions of devoted Girlfriends had the opportunity to pre-order her new book. While Susan was still busy illustrating her memoir, adding the photos, choosing the perfect paper, and ribbon bookmark, we cheered her on. ‘Our’ book was almost ready… and we were eagerly waiting!

Just two weeks ago, our books began arriving in our mailboxes! I was sitting on the front porch with with a guest, when our mail carrier walked up holding a package. I *might* have squealed and hugged the package! 🙂

I knew that it was a true gift, tied with heartstrings!

DSCN5885The long-awaited moment had arrived!

DSCN5889The Fairy Tale Girl ~ by Susan Branch

Oh, the joys of reading Susan’s life story…

With great anticipation, I had carefully planned ahead for some long, lazy afternoons of reading. I wanted to savor her words, her illustrations,… her story! Afternoons on the front porch, with The Fairy Tale Girl and a cup of tea, were such a gift. There were knowing smiles as she shared her childhood stories of growing up in the 1950s and 1960s. Laughter filled my heart and tears flowed. The beautifully watercolored song lyrics had me singing along to the soundtrack of my life. (I’m just a wee bit younger than Susan.)  As I read, I often paused to think about my own life during the very same time, making so many connections.

Each chapter felt like a gift from Susan.

She is sharing her heart with all of us!

What a privilege it is to know the real story

of  the author who has inspired me in so many ways over the years.

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It is so enchanting to watch Susan grow into the amazing woman we all admire today!

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The diaries that Susan has kept since she was in her 20s fill her memoir with vivid details

and the pure emotions of each chapter in her life.

She is very open and honest about her adventures in life,

her happy childhood, hopes, dreams, heartbreak,

and starting over.

It’s easy to see why Susan cherishes both her lifelong girlfriends

and the Girlfriends (fans) that celebrate her today.

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I had planned to read the entire memoir very slowly, savoring each moment.

However, when Susan’s heart was broken,

I just had to keep reading nonstop, trying to pull her through those years.

As the chapters of her life unfold,

Susan reminds us all that life is sprinkled with both sad and joyful parts.

It is just another one of Susan’s gifts ~ tied with heartstrings!

♥♥♥

Susan writes,

“A part of ALL of us is written into the pages

of The Fairy Tale Girl.”

♥♥♥

So true…

You might enjoy reading The Fairy Tale Girl, too!

As you read Susan’s story,

you will certainly reflect on your own life

(or perhaps your mother’s life),

growing up at a time

when women’s roles were evolving.

♥♥♥

It’s the very best kind of book ~

the kind that leaves you wanting more!

Susan leaves us with a real “cliff-hanger” at the end of the book.

Now we are anxiously waiting for Book Two of her memoir,

Martha’s Vineyard ~ Isle of Dreams.

Book Two will be published in Spring of 2016.

I can’t wait to read about how Susan runs away from heartbreak in California,

buys a little home of her own on Martha’s Vineyard, in Massachusetts,

and makes all of her dreams come true!

It’s sure to be another lovely gift ~ tied with heartstrings!

♥♥♥

Whether you are a seasoned Susan Branch fan or brand new to her books,

you will love her engaging writing style and charming artwork.

Autographed copies are available now at SusanBranch.com

Visit your favorite independent bookstore soon.

Amazon will have the book later this month.

Happy Reading!

♡ Dawn

P.S.  Can’t wait to chat about this book! If you are a nearby Girlfriend, let’s get together over tea to talk about the book. 🙂  Please share your thoughts with a comment or via email.  I look forward to chatting…