And The One Lovely Blog Award Goes To . . .


Streaked Sphinx Moth

I was as surprised by the emailed notice as I was by the mysterious moth resting on the edge of a terra cotta strawberry pot. My blog was nominated for The One Lovely Blog Award.

I know blog awards receive mixed reactions. Some people love ‘em; some people don’t. Some see them as an honor; others see them as a chore.

Personally, this particular nomination could not have come at a better time.

Continue reading

Spring Cleaning — Better Late Than Never



“My name is Allison MacKenzie.  Where I was born, time was told not by the clock or the calendar, but by the seasons.  Summer was carefree contentment.  Autumn was that bittersweet time of regret for moments that had ended and things that were yet undone.  And then winter fell, with a cold mantle of caution and chill, it nipped our noses and our arrogance and made us move closer to the warm stoves of memory and desire.  Spring was promise.  But there was a fifth season, of love.  And only the wise or the lucky ones new where to find it.”

This is the opening monologue from the film Peyton Place.  It’s here because a few weeks ago a reader, Camille, commented on an earlier post entitled Autumn In Peyton Place.  She had been searching for the verse and could I help her.  I popped in the DVD and took some dictation.

But after I read over the words, it occurred to me that if only seasons could be so easy and uncomplicated that their description could fit into a single — albeit melodramatic — paragraph.  If only . . .

Because lately, it seems, seasons are not so neat and tidy.  This spring, for example, has been one of the coolest — make that coldest — and dampest ones that I can remember.  Even this Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start of summer, had snow falling in upstate New York.

Continue reading

“And the Liebster Blog Award Goes To . . .”

Liebster-Blog-AwardBlog awards come in all shapes and sizes — but few can bring a smile to my face like the Liebster Award.  It’s a funny — and a fun — word to say.  Go ahead, give it a try.  “Ah, my little Liebster, how are you today?”

See what I mean?  You have to smile when you say it.

Continue reading

And The Beautiful Blogger Award Goes To . . .

Sandy’s opening gusts on Long Island.

Today is far from a beautiful day.  Sandy is on her way, and Joe and I have packed up the yard and we’re now inside watching fall actually fall.  Autumn foliage is falling like confetti now, as the first gusts of wind make their way to Long Island.  Flocks of birds are racing for cover; squirrels are gathering their provisions.  Even the air feels strange.  Sandy is a tropical system, but the air is chilled, as the tropics crash into a cold front.

And that’s why I find it so ironic that I’m creating a post about beautiful things.  I can think of so many things that are beautiful.  Sunsets.  Rainbows.  Dahlias.  Maybe even waves of blowing leaves on a gusty day.  But something with the words “nitty” and “gritty” and “dirt?”  No way.

Continue reading

The Illuminating Blogger Award Goes To . . .

Illuminating.  The dictionary tells me that this has to do with supplying or brightening with light, making understandable, enlightening.  What I have learned in the past year is that there are so many bloggers out there who do the same for me – and to whom I continually return to for illumination.

One of these bloggers is Helene, of Graphicality UK, who nominated this site for the Illuminating Blogger Award.  It’s not enough to say that I’m honored or humbled.  The fact that this came from Helene means so much more, because I would use the same word to define her.  She is absolutely illuminating.

As you know, there are rules to rewards, and the rules here are a little different than other awards.

  1. 1. The nominee should visit the award site ( and leave a comment that they have been nominated and by whom.  (They keep a blogroll of winners, so this is a very important step.)  This will be a check as soon as I click “publish,” I promise.
  2. Continue reading

The One Lovely Blog Award Goes To . . .

Surprises are all around us – like the Petunia above.  It appeared in a flowerpot that holds a Gerbera Daisy.  You see, I didn’t plant this petunia – at least not this year.  If my memory is correct, that color palette was planted a year or so ago – which means that a seed from that planting remained viable for that length of time, and now – surprise!

That feeling – that thrill of receiving something so unexpected – is what it was like when I was contacted by Sara from Real Life Project to let me know she had nominated me for the One Lovely Blog Award and the Very Inspiring Blogger Award.  Making this nomination extra-special is the fact that Sara is not a garden blogger.  Instead she covers all topics important to new moms, from parenting to crafts, from wellness to recipes.  And no matter what she addresses, Sara’s goal is to share her life and her process of achieving balance – a very impressive task that is handled with great care, humor, and grace.

Since I have previously addressed the Very Inspiring Blogger Award in a previous post, I am going to concentrate on One Lovely Blog.

  1. Thank the nominator and link to his/her site.  Check.
  2. Share seven things about myself.  Give me a few moments to get my randomness in order, please.
  3. Nominate 10 other bloggers, let them know, and then link to their site from your own.  All in good time, since I have an idea on how to address this one.

Seven random things about myself:

  1. I’ve recently learned that I have titanium in my head.  About 15 years ago, I was in a car accident in which my only injury was a fractured skull (that could explain a lot).  I had two surgeries to alleviate pressure, but it never occurred to me that my skull would have to be held in place with some hardware.  Fast forward to a few weeks ago when I started getting sharp pains along the surgery site.  A CAT scan revealed the metal plates and screws.  The doctor says not to worry, but I have diagnosed myself.  Ladies and gentlemen, this may not be a surprise to you (and it certainly wasn’t to Joe), but I have a screw loose.
  2. 2. I have a rotating list of celebrities who I would like to invite over for dinner. Some past guests have been Madonna (but I have too many of those loathsome hydrangeas in my yard), Oprah (I worried that she would monopolize the conversation), and President and Mrs. Obama (but they never responded to my invitation). My newest dinner guest would have to be Adele.
  3. 3. I am addicted to my iPad, especially the game “Farm Up.”  Trust me: taking care of a virtual farm is hard work.
  4. 4. I cannot solve the Rubik’s Cube, which really has nothing to do with the previously mentioned head injury. 
  5. 5. My all-time favorite board game is Risk.  The problem is no one else liked or likes to play that game.  The charm of playing all six colors has worn off over the years.
  6. My favorite Broadway show is Les Miserables – and to say that I am anxiously awaiting the December release of the film would be an understatement.  If they have one of those midnight showings like they’ve done for the Twilight series and Harry Potter, I am so there – wearing a beret, of course.
  7. 7. An ideal Saturday for me when I was younger was watching television.  “Land of the Lost” to start the day.  Then “Soul Train” and “American Bandstand” by lunch time, followed by a mid-afternoon sci-fi classic like The Day of the Triffids.  And to end the night, a “Star Trek” rerun and “Space 1999.”  Is that the Geek Police knocking at my door?

Now for my nominations.  Since the nomination came from a non-gardening blog, I thought I would nominate non-garden as well as garden blogs.  Here are my ten lovely blog nominees:

  1. Photography by Joylene – I know this is a blog promoting a “business,” but when I visit it, it’s more like a blog promoting a life that is filled with talent, sensitivity, passion, and creativity.
  2. Vickie Szumigala Photo Blog – When I started this garden blog, it opened up a world of other blogging genres – especially photography blogs.  And this site is one of the best – and there are lots of amazing photos of flowers, which I personally think make the best subjects.
  3. Breathe Lighter – The title alone is something we all need to learn to do.  Read each of Debra’s post, and you will be greeted with warmth and a hug.
  4. Cathyann’s Studio – I had the pleasure of “meeting” Cathyann when she asked to paint my dog Murphy for a benefit.  Her site offers so much of her work and talent – and I am impressed when anyone can take some tubes of color and freely create with some strokes.
  5. Outtakes on the Outskirts – Join Julie as she adjusts to rural life.  Each post is filled with humor and honesty about her successes and fails – and always with a smile on her face. 
  6. Gardenhood – Somehow, Cheryl is able to translate her sense of peace and tranquility into words and photos on her blog.  It’s the perfect ending to a stress-filled day.
  7. Canoe Corner – Marguerite’s blog is a journey where she documents her adventure as she builds a new life on Canada’s east coast.  It’s mesmerizing to watch the process and the changes that her dedication brings.
  8. Graphicality UK—I adore this site for so many reasons: honesty, creativity, inspiration – and Helene, the woman who is responsible for all that is graphical. 
  9. Cindyricksger — Here is the blog of a fascinating woman who lives on an island in northern Lake Michigan.  There, she lives, works, writes, and creates — with passion and honesty.
  10. Our Garden Journal – Cathy and Steve, the couple behind this blog, fascinate me.  I love their enthusiasm and passion for gardening, life, and people.  Their warmth is evident in every single post.
  11. Joy in the Moments – The title says it all.  Char is the voice behind the blog, and she sees and celebrates the smallest joys that life offers.   A true treasure!

Now, I’m off to notify my nominees.  In the meantime, I encourage you to click on the links and explore these wonderful sites – you just might be surprised, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Extra! Extra! Weed All About It!

Weeding.  It’s one of those necessary chores of gardening, and generally, there are two approaches.  The first is, pull ‘em as you see ‘em.  I try to take this sensible approach as often as I can.  More than likely, though, I usually find myself in a weed-a-thon, removing a tangled jungle of inconsiderate weeds that continued to grow and spread despite my not having enough time to choose option one.

That’s how it is right now with this blog.  I’ve let several things build up and now it’s time to weed.

First, I owe Beyond Confessions an apology.  Weeks ago – yes, weeks – Beyond Confessions nominated me for the Versatile Blogger Award.  Although it is definitely an honor to be nominated, I feel kind of strange accepting it because I’ve received this award twice before.

When she informed me of her nomination, I posted a reply saying thank you – and that maybe she should nominate someone else under the circumstances.  I mean, let’s share the wealth a bit.  Besides, I really don’t know if I can handle the requirements of the award.  I’m all out of random facts about myself – or at least the random facts I feel comfortable telling you all about. 

As soon as I clicked send, however, the guilt struck me like a clump o’ mud – and it has been weighing on me, quite heavily.  No matter my logic for declining the award, the truth is Beyond Confessions should be thanked and her blog should be recognized.  Not only did she take the time to nominate me and 14 other sites, she also completed the award’s requirements while documenting her life as a new mom on her blog. 

So, here’s my compromise.  I have thanked Beyond Confessions.  I will not reveal any more random facts about me.  But I will  nominate blogs that I have recently discovered — because they deserve to be recognized.

  1. Daylily Soup – Beth is an Alabama-based gardener who fills her site with amazing words and amazing photos, all of which document her passion.
  2. Sods Law – Amy is a photographer first , and now she has a garden.  A match made in heaven.
  3. Vickie Szumigala Photo Blog — Vickie is a self-taught photographer who is looking to share tips on making this craft affordable and easy.
  4. The Word Hoarder — Rich is an Irish ex-pat now living, gardening, raising a family, and writing in North Carolina.  Join him on his journey.
  5. The Soulsby Farm — I am always impressed with the diversity of people’s lives out there.  Here Dan not only shares his family , but also the work he does on his small farm.  Fascinating stuff.
  6. This Modern Wife — Alanna shares much of her life as she seeks to redefine what it means to be a wife in the 21st century.
  7. Skeptical Gardener — A new homeowner and the responsibility of landscaping and tending to a garden.

My second bit of weeding has to do with so many of the comments I received during March – also known as St. Patrick’s Month.  Many of you requested a photo of me in full parade regalia.  I don’t show this sort of stuff to just anyone. . . but. . . here it goes:

This is me parading in a local parade on Long Island.  My friend Cathey captured me in mid-blow, jowls full of air.  Bagpiping may not always be pretty, but I do love the accessories. 

The Sunshine Award Goes To . . .

It was a dark and stormy night.

Actually, it was daytime – and it was gray and soggy.  The sort of day that feels like a wet sponge, and no matter how tightly you twist and wring, it continues to seep water.  At least that was my view as I stood in the potting shed, gazing out at a lawn that already needs to be mowed and winter remains that should have been raked up weeks ago. 

That’s when I noticed that sunshine can come from the most unlikely of places.

I had taken advantage of the weather to catch up on potting shed work, transplanting seedlings into individual pots.  In this case, I marveled at the smallest splashes of color on the first true leaves of Hypoestes phyllostachya, or Polka Dot Plant.  They actually seemed to sparkle on this grayest of gray days. 

I also caught a glimpse of sunshine on the arbor that spans the blue stone walkway.  This may not look like much to you, but to me this is the payoff for which I have waited years.  The Climbing Hydrangeas, purchased so long ago from a catalog, have finally matured enough to make their very first flowers.

Even more sunshine arrived courtesy of Ni hao Shangai! and Outtakes on the Outskirts, both of whom nominated my blog for the Sunshine Award.  Each of these blogs, although they couldn’t be geographically further apart, document family life in their own part of the world: Shanghai and Ohio, respectively.  And to each of these remarkable women bloggers, I would like to extend my thanks for discovering my site and for passing along this honor.

I’ve said it before – and I will say it again – when each of us writes and posts, we often forget that there is a world of an audience out there, each eager to explore and learn and discuss.  When notice comes that your work is appreciated, well, it is hugely touching and encouraging.  So, ladies, thank you again!

With these various blog awards, there are rules that must be followed in the acceptance.  So here it goes. 

  1. Include the logo in your post.  Check
  2. Link back to the person who nominated you.  Double check.
  3. Answer 10 questions about yourself.
  4. Nominate 10 – 12 other bloggers and link them to the Sunshine Award post in their comments section.

Some sunny facts about me:

1. What is your favorite color?  Actually, I don’t really have a favorite — so I opened my closet and did a quick analyis of my clothes.  There’s blue and green and lots of earth tones.  When I look at that description, I almost sound like Earth.

2. What is your favorite animal?  Again, I don’t really have a favorite breed.  I’m not someone who is surr0unded by prints and posters and trinkets of, say, Pandas or Koalas.  So I will take this as an opporunity to introduce you to the rest of the family: Murphy and Muffola.  Murphy is our 7-year-old Tibetan Terrier, who is sadly dealing with some knee issues in her hind legs.  Then, there is Muffola, the just over 1-year-old Ragdoll cat.

3. What is your favorite number?  Hmmm.  I really don’t think I have one.  Seven?  Because it rhymes with Kevin?  My age?  Because I’m happy to still be here? 

4. What is your favorite non-alcoholic drink?  This one is easy.  Water.  I like the basics — cool and refreshing.  If I want to make it fancy, I’ll brew it into some unsweetened iced tea.

5. Which do you prefer: Facebook or Twitter?  Up until yesterday, this was neither.  I do not have a Facebook account because, as a school employee, I did not want students having access to me.  Then they would ask to be my friend, and I would have to set a boundary and say no, and then it would just get ugly.  So I have avoided Facebook.  As for Twitter — Is anyone really that important that they have to message whatever they happen to be doing at any moment of the day or even their opinion on everything?  Then I spoke to our friend Teresa, who gave me a crash course in blogging and Twittering and Facebooking and linking and, well, let’s just say I’m exploring all options on the social media front.  I’ll keep you posted.

6.  What is your passion?  There are way too many to list.  The obvious would be gardening and writing.  Then, there is bagpiping, traveling, reading, and food. 

7. Do you prefer giving or receiving presents?  I’m a giver — but I do like to receive a gift.  My favorites are the kind that are given for no reason and they do not need to be expensive.  Just a token that says, “I thought of you.”

8. What is your favorite pattern?  Plaid.  Hands down, it’s plaid.

9. What is your favorite day of the week?  I enjoy Saturdays (it’s a weekend) and Wednesday evenings (bagpipe lesson night), but I especially enjoy a lazy Sunday morning, lingering over breakfast and The New York Times and the crossword puzzle.

10. What is your favorite flower?  This is a particular difficult question, but if I have to  play favorites, then Dahlia holds a special place in my heart — just don’t tell the other flowers.  They each think that they’re my favorite.

Now for my nominees.  The first 8 are a group of blogs that I visit regularly for inspiration, creativity, and knowledge.  They are, I guess, my rays of sunshine and I often nominate them for various awards.  I truly admire the creators of these blogs.  Numbers 9 – 14 (yes, I know I went overboard) are new discoveries.  I was fortunate enough that they found my site so that I could explore and discover their world.  Please find the time to click on over and explore all that they have to offer — no sunscreen required.

  1. Lee May’s Gardening Life — The first blog I ever read, and the one that inspired me to take the leap.
  2. Hortus 5 — The style is tremendous, but it’s Mario’s warmth and dedication that keeps me returning.
  3. Jean’s Garden — With wit and intelligence, Jean makes gardening and nature very hands-on.
  4. Arigna Gardener — Each day is an adventure, as Bridget shares so much of her gardening life in Ireland.
  5. Promenade Plantings — This is so more than a gardening blog.  There are recipes and humor and a European life.
  6. Tidy Gardens by Jane — A day without Jane is like a day without sunshine.  I especially love her humor.
  7. Canoe Corner — Join Marguerite as she shares her progress on renovating her dream home and landscape.
  8. Dreaming of Roses — If there was ever a place where the sun shines, it’s in this garden.  Roses, roses, and more!
  9. Breathe Lighter — Three remarkable women have joined forces to share their inspiration, knowledge, and philosophy.
  10. Dirt Road Documentaries — An incredibly fascinating journey.
  11. Rainy Leaf — Elaine offers a tremendous amount of gardening knowledge, with a Pacific Northwest slant.
  12. Joy in the Moments — Char takes the reader on a tour of life’s moments, and in between are lessons in writing and coping.
  13. The Garden Diaries — There’s a lot of design information here, but it’s Beekeeping 101 that grabbed my attention.
  14. Transformational Tuesdays — At last, it’s time recognize my friend Teresa, the same friend who instructed me on the power of Facebook and Twitter.  This is just one of the many projects she has embarked upon in her effort to spread motivation and personal growth. 

At this point in writing — and reading — the sun feels as if it’s about to set.  Again, many thanks to my nominators, and I hope you can find the time to visit my nominees. 

In closing, I’d like to borrow a line from an Irish blessing: “May the sun shine warm upon your face.”


The Very Inspiring Blogger Award Goes To. . .

One of my most favorite romantic comedies – ever — is Pillow Talk, starring Doris Day and Rock Hudson.  There’s great chemistry between the stars, great views of “Mad Men” era New York, great fashions, Doris Day’s great apartment, and the great Thelma Ritter as the housekeeper. 

There’s also Rock Hudson as a swinging bachelor luring women into his swinging bachelor pad with the tune: “You are my inspiration [insert name here].”  It’s a running gag in the film, as countless young starlets line up for some Hudson lovin’. 

I speak of inspiration because recently Charissa of Joy in the Moments awarded me with the Very Inspiring Blogger Award – and it couldn’t come at a more perfect time.  You see, I needed some inspiration to get me writing.  So, thank you, Charissa, not only for the award but for also inspiring me to write and to examine my own sources of inspiration.  And if you aren’t familiar with Charissa’s blog, please pop over to her site and explore a place that not only celebrates writing but also offers the chance to celebrate all that life offers.  Hers is an uplifting place.

Continue reading