Your Homework For This Week....

At the beginning of the summer, I had the opportunity to visit a delightful and inspiring place: Chanticleer Garden in Wayne, PA. Have you ever been there? It was a beautiful, breezy day and the sun was shining...the perfect day to delight in what is known as a "Pleasure Garden"....

It is described as "a garden of pleasure and learning, relaxing yet filled with ideas to take home." YES! And let me tell you about the idea I took home...

Chanticleer is not a garden focused on fussiness or formality. For example, botanical name tags are omitted, allowing the flow and beauty of the garden beds to just wash over the viewer.  And there are small scale vignettes within the gardens that make it feel less like a public space, and more like a personal, intimate garden. So lovely.

You see, this got me thinking about our houses...how we often spend way too little time thinking about what would delight us, and waaay too much time focusing on what will impress others.

SO, here is your assignment for this week: think of your home, inside and out, as your own pleasure garden, where you will focus on cultivating your personal enjoyment.

Don't get too grandiose and stress yourself out trying to perfect this (that is SO not pleasureful). Just focus on small things that you can add (or take away) that will bring you joy and contentment.

Keep your goal in mind of creating personal delight and enjoyment at home each day this coming week. Perhaps put a sign on your bathroom mirror simply stating "ENJOY!"

Here's the kicker---when we focus on creating this peace and happiness for ourselves, we can't help but create an atmosphere in which others will feel welcomed and at home. This contentment has a magical quality to it...you will see.

So, let's stop trying to keep up with the Jones', and stop feeling that we need to recreate a page out of our favorite decor magazine in every room. Focus on creating contentment for yourself first, and you will see the magical quality it brings to your surroundings, and how it inspires others to just feel good when visiting your home.

Second and last photos from Chanticleer's website....hope you will visit yourself!

Bloom Where You are Planted?

About eleven years ago, I was wandering through the big box home store and stumbled upon some puny, sad little trees on sale. I stood there and wondered. Hmmm.....would those look nice? Not much to look at now....but maybe..... With an infant and toddler in tow, I somehow hauled a couple of them up to the register, stuffed them into the minivan, and even managed to plant them before they died. Amazing.

Much like the house they were planted next to, they were humble things with humble beginnings, but I hoped that, despite their lack of pedigree, they would find a way to be the wonderful trees I thought they could be...someday.

This morning those crabapple trees weren't thinking "well, I had better hold back. I'm nothin' special afterall...."

Nope. Those pathetic twigs in plastic pots have become glorious trees that are proud to be in full bloom, perfuming the breeze and intoxicating each bumblebee that flies by.

So, how about you? Are you proudly blooming where you are planted? Maybe your home isn't where you always dreamed of living, maybe it isn't  the style of house or the neighborhood of your dreams....but you can bloom there anyway.

When you arrive home each day, I hope you feel a sense of deep satisfaction and pride in where you live. I hope you feel that your home is beautiful and shows the world in some way who you are.

I hope you can put your feet up there, and feel that it is a place that helps you to become more of who you want to be. Have faith that with time, creativity, and proper nurturing the simplest of dwellings can become simply beautiful-plastic pots, twigs and all.

Song of Hope

This week our family has been blessed by a little visitor who brightens our mornings, and keeps us cheerful with his singing sometimes throughout the afternoon.... Each day has started with him sitting right outside our family room window in the crabapple tree

He sometimes puffs his feathers out in the cold morning chill....

but he doesn't seem to mind if we come close to watch, listen....or take his picture. He sits there on his perch, and sings his heart out.

He has reminded me of one of my favorite poems:

Hope is the thing with feathers

That perches in the soul,

And sings the tune without the words,

And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;

And sore must be the storm

That could abash the little bird

That kept so many warm.

I've heard it in the chilliest land

And on the strangest sea;

Yet, never, in extremity,

It asked a crumb of me.

--Emily Dickinson

And one of my favorite hymns:

Whenever I am tempted, whenever clouds arise,

When songs give place to sighing, when hope within me dies,

I draw the closer to Him, from care He sets me free;

His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me; His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

 

What a tremendous gift that little bird has shared with our family this week....I will close now, as I continue humming......

I sing because I'm happy, I sing because I'm free! His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me......

 

End of Winter Window Box

I put this arrangement together for a dear friend this past weekend...and thought I should share. So easy! And such a pick-me-up as we wait for the first day of Spring to get here! A trip to buy the flowers is the first step....and so much fun to see what looks good together and gives your heart a lift. I was drawn to these sunny yellow primroses and cheerful daffodils......:)

and the periwinkle primroses added such a beautiful fresh punch!

I had an old pine box--reminiscent of a outdoor window box--that I thought would be perfect for the container. I recycled a plastic Target back to act as my liner....

Easy as pie....just some snips around the outside, and stretch and staple the bag to the inside of the box...and then you have protected the wood and your furniture from drips and moisture from the potted plants.

Next, before putting the plants in place, you want to remove any spent blooms (known as "dead heading") so that the plant will continue to push new blooms up. You can do this by simply pinching the stem underneath the old bloom, thereby removing it. At this time you will also want to remove the colorful plastic outer pots or wrapping so that everything around the base of the plants can visually recede....

Now we can begin to place the plants in the box, and work out an arrangement that we like.

For this window box, I used two Daffodil pots and six Primrose pots...lovely!!  Feel free to squeeze the pots in tightly to give you a nice full looking arrangement.

After the plants are in place, the dirt and black pots will still be visible. The finishing touch is to use green sheet moss to cover all of this up and further add to the feeling of a lush, mini springtime garden.

Floral pins can be used to secure it in place.

Break pieces of the moss off  and tuck around the base of the pots, and soften the edge of the box...

Makes me so happy just to think about it!.....

and then you have your final product...a lovely window box that helps bring Spring to your home a few weeks early!

Enjoy!