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Summer Garden Tour

Gardening has been a passion of mine for many years. There’s nothing quite like getting down, hands in the soil, nurturing and bringing forth green and growing things. It is indescribably rewarding.

Gardening is a useful skill. Growing a vegetable garden can provide fresh, nutrient rich food for the family. Yes, it’s a lot of work to grow your own vegetables, but the quality of the food and the feeling of satisfaction that comes from it is worth the effort.

My favorite type of gardening, however, isn’t the practical kind at all. It’s planting and tending my flower gardens and landscaping beds. I love flowers, and my favorite way to enjoy them is when they are growing right in my own backyard.

I’ve spent several years working to develop and cultivate my flower gardens. It’s something I dreamed about for years before we built and moved into our house. I envisioned the profusion of flowers that would spill forth from my garden beds. I could see in my mind all the varieties of plants I would choose, and many of those are the very plants I have now.

Bringing beauty and creativity into the world is an extremely rewarding pastime, whether you are growing flowers or painting a picture or cooking a delicious meal for your family. Never underestimate the value of creating beautiful things. As humans, we are made in the image and He is an inherently creative being. This means that we should also be creative. One of our missions in life should be to find the ways in which we are gifted toward creativity and pursue those ways to beautify and enhance the world around us.

In gardening, I like I am cooperating with God in encouraging the growth and expression of the beauty of His creation. There is an aspect of flowers and plants that brings glory to God in His amazing creativity.

It thought it would be fun to give you a bit of a tour of my gardens and tell you a bit about how they have developed over the years. What do you think? Would you like a peek at my gardens and all the pretty flowers I get to see out my windows every day?

Well, then, here we go….

We’ll start in the front yard. Our home is a large traditional federal style house. We built it ourselves (my husband used to build houses for a living) about 15 years ago. About 12 years ago, we added some hardscape (stone surrounded beds) to the front and one side of the house to enclose the foundation plantings. In the front of the house, these stone wrapped beds hold a profusion of hydrangea bushes.

garden-tour-hydrangeas

Hydrangeas have long been one of my favorite flowers. I love their big showiness, yet there is an element of simplicity in them I really enjoy. These front flower plantings are one of the things I clearly envisioned long before our house was built. I had a picture in my mind of exactly what this area of the garden would look like, and that’s exactly what it looks like today.

One of the things I love most about having these hydrangeas planted in the front of my house is the beautiful, dramatic bouquets I have on my kitchen counters at this time of year. There’s nothing quite like a vase full of hydrangea blooms to brighten a room.

Toward the front corner of the house, there is a spirea bush I bought years ago at a local plant sale held by our town’s garden club. (Several of the plants in my garden came from this annual sale which is a fundraiser for the garden club.) What started out as a small sprig I paid $1 for has grown into a large bush which is overflowing from the space where it is planted.

garden-tour-lilac

Next to the spirea grows our large lilac bush. At this point, it is more of a tree. It could use a good pruning one of these years. I love the sent of lilacs wafting through the living room windows on a lovely spring day. Another flower I love to bring inside, lilacs make beautiful cut flowers. Lilacs also happen to be my husband’s favorite flower.

garden-tour-daylily

Moving on to the side of the house, I have couple of flower beds that I designed to have the feel of an English country garden. There is a profusion of flowers blooming throughout the season, from spring through fall. Daylilies, pink mallow, peonies, candytuft, irises, salvia, creeping phlox, and climbing roses all take their turns in the spotlight during the summer months.

garden-tour-side

Our house is set into a hill, so our side garden is laid out in a terraced design. In the lower terrace, I have more bright bloomers overflowing from the bed.

garden-tour-terrace

Heading away from the house and into the backyard area, there is a small and simple garden consisting of hostas and daylillies surrounding the base of a willow tree. There are also some fragrant asiatic lilies that were given to us in honor of our daughter who passed away. There are a beautiful pure white color and smell heavenly, reminding us of our little girl’s beautiful purity and the hope that she is waiting for us in our heavenly home. This garden has special meaning to me not only because of these lilies, but also because I planted the garden the summer I was expecting her. For me, this has created a tender connection to her life.

garden-tour-willow

Beyond this flower bed, we have a small orchard and a few berry bushes. To the side, we have an arbor with grapevines and we have a small fire pit area set up as well. The fire pit was thrown together by our sons one afternoon last summer and we’ve enjoyed and used it often since then.

garden-tour-orchard

 

garden-tour-fire-pit

Along the perimeter of our back deck I have planted hostas. Hostas are wonderful plants for landscaping. They are easy care plants that give you a lot of bang for your buck. They blend with many different styles of landscaping and gardens.

garden-tour-hostas

One last area of gardening in my yard (at least for now!) is my little herb garden, which is planted beside my vegetable garden plot. In it, I have two kinds of mint, lavender, oregano, purple coneflower, lamb’s ear, and chives.

There you have it—my summer garden tour! I hope you enjoyed getting this peek into one of my favorite places to spend a quiet summer afternoon. Gardening has been a rewarding and enjoyable hobby for me for many years, and I hope it will continue to be for many more to come.

How about you? Do you enjoy gardening, or is it a hobby you hope to develop for yourself one day? I’d love to hear your thoughts–please leave a comment!

Spring 2017 Lifestyle Favorites

Spring flew by and we are officially in the summer months. How is it possible that the year is half over already?!

I thought I would share a few of things I’ve been loving and using lately. Hope you enjoy and find some inspiration to try something new, too!

 

Fashion

florence-adams-paisley-close-up

As I mentioned in a post last week, I am absolutely loving wearing my new paisley patterned maxi dress from Florence Adams. It’s classy and elegant and comfortable and it makes me happy when I wear it!

 

Beauty

it cosmetics vitality lip stain

My new favorite lip product is the It Cosmetics Vitality Lip Flush 4-in-1 Reviver Lipstick Stain. Vitality Lip Flush takes the place of four products–your lipstick, conditioning lip balm, hydrating lip gloss, and lip stain, all in one! It’s comfortable to wear and long lasting—I put it on in the morning and the color lasts all day long!

 

Books

what women fear

I recently read What Women Fear by Angie Smith, and it was excellent. This book challenged me and encouraged me. I identified with so much of what Angie shared. She wrote in a candid, vulnerable way that resonated with my own experience in so many ways. I highly recommend this book. It has the potential to be life-changing.

 

Personal Care

Everyone Lavender Lotion

Lately, I’ve been using EO Products Lavender and Aloe Everyone Lotion. It’s smells wonderful, with it’s fresh lavender scent from real essential oil. It is made with natural, healthy ingredients that are nourishing for the skin, and it’s versatile enough to use on face, hands, and body. I especially love to apply it at nighttime; the smell is perfect for helping bring a sense of relaxation in preparation for sleep.

 

Food

republic of tea good hope vanilla

My favorite tea right now is Good Hope Vanilla Rooibos from The Republic of Tea. It has a nice smooth vanilla flavor. It’s perfect with a drop of cream and a sprinkle of sugar or stevia. So yummy!

 

Home

pillow

Recently, I decided to update the throw pillows on my bed. I chose an easy care square pillow with a beige background and pretty script lettering, along with a soft pink minky one. They both give the perfect accent to my vintage style floral bedding.

So there you have it—all my favorite things from this spring!

What are some things you’ve been loving lately?

Please note: This post may contain affiliate links. This means I may earn a commission (at no extra cost to you) if you purchase something using one of my links.  Be assured that  I only recommend products I believe in. Your support is appreciated!

A Glimpse Into My Life: An Idyllic Weekend at the Maine Coast

This recent Memorial Day weekend was a fun and relaxing one for our family. My husband, who owns his own business, took Friday off. Since it was Memorial Day weekend, that meant he had four days’ break from work. Friday was spent doing projects around the house and running some errands. We spent Saturday as a family in one of our favorite places to take a day trip, the Maine coast.

Maine coastline

There is something I find indescribably comforting about being near the ocean. Perhaps it is because I was born on an island. Maybe it’s because so many of my happiest memories happened on a beach. Or maybe it’s the power of the water and the air and the rocks that reminds me of the power of the Creator of it all. Whatever it is, the sea calls to me and brings me to a place of calm.

Maine coast with lighthouse in background

My children love to explore the rocks along our favorite stretch of coastline in Boothbay Harbor. There is a glimpse of a lighthouse out in the distance. The islands which can be spotted from the beach are like so many others that dot the shoreline along this stretch of the Atlantic, yet each is unique as well.

Boothbay Harbor, Maine

We were blessed with a radiantly sunny day with brilliant blue skies. The water had it’s cheerful spring colors on and the breeze was slightly chilly. It was perfect weather.

children on outdoor steps

We also strolled along a coastal flea market for a couple of hours, discovering treasures we didn’t know we needed. It was a truly delightful day.

Maine coastal town

Sunday morning was dedicated to attending church. In the afternoon, my husband took the children fishing while I relaxed and visited with my mother. Monday, we attended a backyard barbecue. The children and young people enjoyed games of croquet and ultimate frisbee while the adults relaxed and engaged in rousing discussions of everything from theology to food allergies to dog bites.

kayaks in harbor

It was one of those weekends that exceeds expectations—a delightfully idyllic few days that I will cherish for a very long time. Our schedules have been so busy lately, this lovely break came at a time when I really needed the refreshment it brought.

boat in Boothbay Harbor, Maine

I am so grateful for the enjoyable time we spent together as a family. As our family grows and each of the children matures, the opportunities for days like these will slip past, especially with our oldest children. In the not-too-distant-future, my little chicks will begin to leave the nest, and life will never quite be the same again. If you are a mom with little ones, savor every moment you have right now. These days are precious and gone all too soon. You will blink, and one day they will be grown up and ready to head out on their own. And you will wonder how it happened so fast. Take my word for it.

family on rocks near ocean

Mother’s Day Gift Guide

Mother’s Day is approaching. Honoring the mothers in your life is a wonderful privilege of the day. If you’re looking for some Mother’s Day gift ideas, I’ve got some suggestions to get you started.

mothers-day-gift-guide-2017
Flowers

Flowers are one of my favorite gifts to give for Mother’s Day. I don’t know many moms who wouldn’t love to receive a beautiful bouquet of blooms in appreciation for all they do. I usually order from ProFlowers. The prices are good, service is great, and delivery is guaranteed. And then there’s the convenience factor of being able to choose and order an arrangement from my phone. When I order, I am definitely going to be doing so through my Ebates app; right now, Ebates is offering 12% cash back and several discount codes to choose from. Pretty good deal, huh? (If you’re not signed up for Ebates yet, you should be!)

Clarisonic Facial Brush

This handy little gadget would make a perfect gift. Personal care items like a Clarisonic are a great way to pamper mom with something she may not buy for herself. A Clarisonic is wonderful for enhancing a skin care regimen. Mom will certainly thank you for treating her to this one.

Spongelle Shower Gel Infused Sponge

A Spongelle bath and shower sponge is a clever little invention. It’s a bath sponge already infused with cleansing gel, making it a luxuriously practical little gift. These sponges smell amazing! They’re special enough to gift alone, or one of these would be a perfect addition to a bath-themed gift basket.

Subscription box service

A subscription box service would be a lovely gift, and one that keeps on giving. Subscribe mom for a month, a few months, or a year—it’s up to you. She’ll be impressed with your thoughtfulness. And I guarantee she’ll love getting a gift over and over again, long after Mother’s Day has ended. One subscription box I highly recommend (and the only one I personally have at the present time!) is Fab Fit Fun. There’s is a nice variety of items in each box, which comes four time a year. There are so many different types of subscription box services available, from makeup to books to food, you’re sure to find one that will appeal to you (and you’re mom).

Phone case

A pretty phone case would make a great gift for a mom with a smartphone. If you’re mom is tech savvy (mine is not), a tech related gift like this one could make her very happy.

Heart pendant necklace

This beautiful silver and rose gold heart pendant necklace would be a perfect way to express your love to your mom. It’s a gorgeous piece any lady in your life would be pleased to receive.

Perfume

If she has a signature sent, pick up a bottle of it to give to mom. If she doesn’t have a particular brand of perfume she loves, choose one for her. Lauren Perfume by Ralph Lauren or Creed Spring Flower would be a great place to start.

Floral maxi dress

If you know mom’s clothing size, why not give her a beautiful floral dress as a Mother’s Day gift? This one is a pretty, feminine style in chiffon.

Digital photo frame

Help mom preserve memories with a cool digital photo frame. Load it with photos of her family, and she’ll cherish it (and you’re thoughtfulness).

Beautiful scarf

A ladylike, beautiful scarf makes a wonderful Mother’s Day gift. A soft, flowing, feminine scarf can make her feel so special.

A good book

If your mom likes to read, a nicely bound copy of her favorite book might be a good gift idea. Or maybe you could give her a book she hasn’t read yet. As a book lover myself, I would love a gift like this from my own kids (a little hint just in case you’re reading this, kids)!

A Roomba vacuum

If you really want to splurge on a Mother’s Day gift, why not give her the luxury of not having to vacuum her house? A Roomba vacuum is a great way to make mom’s life a little easier. She’ll love the fact that she no longer has to clean her floors. Imagine the feeling of giving your mom a robot who does housework! Pretty cool, huh?

I hope this list has given you a little bit of inspiration for Mother’s Day gifts you can choose for the special ladies in your life. I know you want to make your mom feel special and appreciated this Mother’s Day. These gift ideas will certainly do that. Do you have any great Mother’s Day gift ideas to add to the list?

AND one more thing…

To show my appreciation for YOU, this month I am giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card to one of my lovely readers. Hint: that means you! This giveaway will only run for 10 days, so make sure you enter right away. Just scroll down to the bottom of this post and you’ll find several ways to enter. You can do one, two, or all of them–the more ways you enter, the more chances you have to win!

Be sure to enter the giveaway in the Rafflecopter widget below!

Please note: This post may contain affiliate links. This means I may earn a commission (at no extra cost to you) if you purchase something using one of my links.  Be assured that  I only recommend products I believe in. Your support is appreciated!

4 Teas Perfect for a Winter Afternoon

Though winter is wrapping up and spring is quickly approaching (and may have already hit where you live), around here we’re in for a least a few more weeks of chilly days and snow on the ground. Which calls for a good cup of tea on a regular basis.

tea cup with books

There’s nothing quite as comforting as a cup of tea and a good book. It’s one of my favorite ways to spend a stormy afternoon. There’s just something about enjoying a hot cup of tea that helps me relax and regroup. It has a way of bringing balance and perspective. There is a sense of civility and gentility in tea time. There’s no denying it’s a lovely way to pause in the midst of a busy day.

And when you find a flavor of tea you really love, the experience is made even better.

tea cup

I love to try new flavors of tea. One entire drawer in my pantry is devoted to all the different types of tea I like. My daughters each have their own favorite varieties as well. (Apparently, our tea habit is a family affair.)

My favorite place to get tea is The Republic of Tea. Many of the teas they sell rank in my list of all time favorites.

I’d like to share my picks for 4 of the best teas for a late winter afternoon:

1. English Rose Tea

The English Rose Tea is part of the Republic of Tea’s special Downton Abbey themed series of teas. This tea is delicate, fruity, and utterly delicious. It has a sweetness all its own. I find I don’t need to add anything to this tea. It is perfect even without any sweetener or milk of any kind. Plus, there’s a picture of the Crawley sisters on the front of the tin. Ah, lovely! What more could you ask for in a tea?

2.  Almond Coconut Macaroon Tea

As the name implies, this tea tastes like a coconut macaroon (without the calories!). It is a red rooibos tea with a bit of sweetness from the coconut. There’s also a nice hint of almond flavor in this tea. It really is like drinking a cookie. So delicious!

3.  Caramel Vanilla Cuppa Cake Tea

I’m a lover of all things caramel, so this tea is right up my alley. It’s perfect with a nice splash of cream or milk added. The vanilla and caramel flavors of this black tea blend nicely and make for a smooth, dessert-like taste.

(Are you sensing a theme yet? Apparently I really like teas that taste like dessert….)

4.   Earl Greyer Black Tea

What true tea connoisseur doesn’t love a nice Earl Grey? And this is one of the best Earl Greys I’ve tried. This tea is a lovely blend of bergamot, orange, and quality black tea flavors. It is warm and inviting and absolutely perfect for afternoon tea time.

I highly recommend trying any of these teas for your own afternoon tea time. Go ahead. Take out the fine china tea cup, brew one of these teas, and sit down to relax and enjoy a quiet moment this afternoon.

tea cup with flower

(Just as a side note: This post is in no way sponsored by Republic of Tea. I simply love their teas and wanted to share the love with you. So go check them out, and enjoy!)

Winter Lifestyle Favorites

Winter is quickly passing by (yay!) and spring will be here before we know it. While it’s still winter, I thought I’d share some of my favorite things from over the winter months. I’ve group each of the items into categories.

Fashion

Floppy wool hats

floppy wool hat

I’ve always been a hat person. Typically, I wear hats to church each Sunday. This winter, I’ve developed a love of floppy brimmed wool hats. I just can’t help myself. They’re so stylish and fun to wear. So, I’ve been wearing them…a lot! I have a lovely blush pink one with a lace band that I especially love to wear.

Books

Whatever the Cost by David and Jason Benham

book cover

My family and I had the privilege of hearing the Benham brothers speak last summer. It was inspiring and entertaining and challenging. I immediately bought their books. In Whatever the Cost, David and Jason Benham recount the events that took place surrounding the cancellation of their HGTV show. They explain the choices they made, the reasons for the stands they took, and their response to the media firestorm that resulted. They discuss the importance of being willing to stand up for what we believe in, no matter the cost. I’m really enjoying this powerful book.

Personal Care

Spongelle Bath gel infused sponge

bath sponge

These lovely little bath gel infused sponges are perfect for anyone who loves shower gel but hates to see any get wasted. When you get these sponges wet, they suds up nicely and smell wonderful. They’re perfectly designed to only use the amount of gel you actually need, so no wasting any precious suds.

Beauty

Clinique Chubby Stick Cheek Color Balm

blush stick

Cream blush is perfect for the winter months, when skin tends to be on the dry side. Lately, I’ve been using and loving the Clinique Chubby Stick Blush in the shade Amp’d Up Apple. It has the tiniest hint of shimmer to it, giving a lovely healthy glow to the cheeks. It is a very natural and dewy look. I can’t stop using this blush.

Health & fitness

Sunny Health & Fitness stationary bike

stationary exercise bike

I’ve been riding an exercise bike at least 5 times a week consistently for the past year and a half. A month or so ago, however, my bike decided to quit (one month after the warranty ended, of course) and I’ve been without one. I find I’m much more faithful to my workouts with the bike than without, so my husband bought me a new one. I actually like this one much better. It is chain driven and has the feel of a real bike. It’s designed for spinning, which I haven’t done yet, but I’m inspired to try. I’ve found a couple of spin class videos on Youtube I’m planning to try out sometime. In the meantime, though, I’m back to riding every morning and it’s making me very happy!

Berrywell

elderberry syrup

This stuff is like liquid gold in our house during cold and flu season. It’s made of elderberry syrup, along with a bunch of other immune boosting ingredients. It’s truly amazing stuff. My husband takes it faithfully and hardly ever gets sick. (I wish I could say I’ve been as consistent in taking it—or as healthy.) Plus, it’s 20% off right now. Get some for yourself and stay healthy this winter.

Home

Canvas Factory photo print

canvas photo print

If you saw the giveaway I hosted last week, you’ll know what a lovely job Canvas Factory did on the canvas photo print I ordered from them. Our family portrait for this year looks beautiful printed on a large canvas and hanging in our living room.

Those are just a few of the things I’ve been loving and using over this winter. Do you have any favorite items you’ve been loving lately? Please leave a comment and tell me what they are. I’d love to hear from you!

Please note: This post may contain affiliate links. This means I may earn a commission (at no extra cost to you) if you purchase something using one of my links.  Note that I only recommend products I believe in. Your support is appreciated!

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