30 Day Walking Challenge

Inspired by my recent trips, during which I toured towns and villages primarily on foot, and the nature walk I took yesterday, I have set a challenge for myself. It is called, appropriately, the 30 Day Walking Challenge.

My intention is to walk every day for the next 30 days. Fourteen months ago, I did a 28 day cleanse, in which I ate only fruits and vegetables. At the end of those four weeks I saw such improvements in my health and well being, that I chose to embrace a plant based lifestyle as a result.

My desire is to experience this challenge in an open, committed and yet playful way, and see what the resulting changes are. I am curious to see what impact a daily walk has on my life.

Because creative play is so important to me, as is cultivating new experiences, I’ve added elements of both to this challenge. The rules of this game are simple.

• Walk every day, preferably outdoors. Fall is actually an ideal time to begin a walking challenge, with its cooler temps. Rain or sunshine, cool or warm, I intend to walk outside and dress for the weather. In the case of thunderstorms or torrential rain, I can walk at the mall or find another indoor location.

• Walk in a new location every day. This is the new experiences part, the fun part. I can get easily bored, and boredom can kill exercise for me, no matter how beneficial it is. Changing the location for my walk daily keeps me challenged mentally as well as physically.

Nature is a great place to walk, and there are many walking paths through woods and along rivers in my area. I’m excited to visit some of these hiking trails for the first time. And, one of the things I love about travel is exploring new cities and villages on foot. I intend to do the same in my own community and the surrounding areas. There are places in Joplin that I have not explored, and I live, conveniently, in an area where four states converge. There are endless towns to explore within two hours of me.

Today, on Day 2 of my 30 Day Walking Challenge, I explored the Joplin High School Campus on foot. I drive by this impressive new complex, built after the 2011 Joplin tornado, and live just two blocks from it. And yet, I have never walked the grounds.

I peeked inside the on site greenhouse…

…and appreciated the colorful tennis courts…

…and paused for a few minutes to watch a high school soccer match.

The campus is large, and beautiful, with nature areas alongside manicured lawns, buildings and sports fields. Because there is an abundance of underground springs and water in this area, there are carefully designed ravines to carry off excess water and ponds for collection. In the middle of the city, in the middle of this school campus, there are wild places for flowers and ornamental grasses to grow.

I enjoyed my walk around the high school campus. As I walked home, through neighborhoods that are new since 2011 and still under construction, I mulled over possibilities for future walks.

I intend to take solitary treks. And walk with others as well, family members and friends, companions on journeys of exploration, self discoveries and good health. I’m excited to walk with each of my children, along with their spouses and children and pets, in their neighborhoods. I’ll travel to Columbia to walk with my grandson Dayan. I can walk to my sister’s house, to the library and in downtown Joplin. My mom and I can link arms and take a stroll in her neighborhood, and when I visit my other sister next month in Broken Arrow, for the family Halloween party, we can traipse through her subdivision, in costume or not!

I know from past experiences that when I play such an expansive game, the Divine plays along with me, opening doors and bringing opportunities I could not have imagined. I’m in a state of high anticipation. Join me on my journeys, literally if you want to extend an invitation to walk. Greg has already invited me to walk a golf course with him, while he plays. His desire to walk more has been part of the inspiration for my own walking challenge.

Where will my walks lead me? And how will my body, heart and soul respond to these daily excursions? I’m excited to find out.

A Walk in Nature

When I travel, I walk a lot. My body responds well to the daily exercise, so much so that when I return home, I intend to get out and walk every day. However, back at home, my usual work and life routine asserts itself and that good intention quickly fades away.

Today I shifted my routine, bookending my day with morning and evening walks. Come along with me, for walks in nature.

Wildcat Park was the destination for my first walk. This area south of Joplin features walking trails through woods and along Shoal Creek. It’s my favorite walking trail and not only provides exercise for my body but grounds and centers me as well. Plus, walking near water quiets my mind and elevates my soul.

Several springs feed Shoal Creek.

This turtle, soaking up the sun, has the right idea.

These Canadian Geese were standing in the shallow water, resting with their heads tucked back beneath their wings. Later, walking back by, I noticed the geese were floating in a V formation. They seemed to be practicing for their migration flight. I’ve never seen geese doing either of these things before.

My favorite photograph from today. I watched this leaf fall from its tree, twirling down gently to rest on the surface of the river. I love the light-reflecting ripples, propelling the leaf boat along.

A downed tree trunk provides living space for fungi clinging to the bark, thriving just above the water.

I love the variety of grasses that grow near the river, their tassels signaling the arrival of fall.

Into the woods, my favorite part of the walk.

Whenever I walk at Wildcat Park, I stop to lay my hands on Oak Tree, giving and receiving energy. He is an old tree, full of wisdom.

When I reached out to touch Oak Tree, I spotted a painted rock tucked into a fork of the tree. I found two more painted rocks immediately after, along the path. I rehid all three.

Can you see the animal that surprised me on the trail? I had just put my iPhone in my pocket when Greg reacted with surprise, calling my attention to the path ahead. By the time I got my phone back out to take a pic, the snake had slithered off the path. I have not seen this species before, with its greenish gray back and yellow belly. It was about three feet long, and non poisonous. I couldn’t identify it but it appeared to be a water snake.

This tree’s whimsical face made me smile!

The hour or so that I spent walking at Wildcat Park was nurturing and restorative. Mary Davis wrote:

“A walk in nature walks the soul back home.”

What a true statement. I left feeling very connected with myself and connected with nature as well.

This evening, after completing a house showing near Mercy Park, the desire to walk again was strong. I’ve never walked at Mercy at night. It was beautiful, and lit up so that the pathways were easy to walk along. Couples and families and joggers were out in abundance, enjoying the cool, clear evening.

So, one day of walking does not a new routine make. However, I am grateful for the walks today, and with the weekend here, I’ll surely create time to walk each day.

“Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.” Khalil Gibran

I will remember. I am ready to delight and be delighted, and to feel the wind playing with my hair.

Warm Bedtime Drink

I enjoy a warm drink in the evening, year around. During the summer, my drink of choice is a cup of hot herbal tea, brewed from herbs freshly picked from my garden. As the days become shorter and cooler temperatures mark the true arrival of fall, I look for additional nighttime drinks to sip on. It is essential to me that these bedtime drinks be warming and soothing and also full of health boosting benefits.

I was excited to try this turmeric milk. I found the recipe on Facebook, in a group I am part of called Avocado. This delicious and easy to prepare recipe comes from Anna Davis.

Warm Turmeric Milk


• 1 teaspoon dried turmeric

• 1 tablespoon raw organic honey

• Dash of coarsely ground black pepper

• Dash of cinnamon

• 1 cup of unsweetened dairy free plant based milk such as almond or coconut

In a small bowl mix together honey, turmeric, black pepper and cinnamon, making a paste. Warm plant based milk. Add small amount to turmeric mixture, stirring until smooth and thinned out. Add turmeric mixture to remainder of milk. Sprinkle with additional cinnamon and enjoy.

I used unsweetened almond coconut dairy free milk. The coconut adds a subtle flavor that I like. Plain almond milk can be used as well. As the milk heated, I whisked the honey, turmeric, black pepper and cinnamon together.

The spicy aroma was wonderfully tantalizing as I added a small amount of warm milk to the honey mixture. After it was thinned out, I poured the mixture into the cup of milk.

A sprinkle of cinnamon on top and my bedtime turmeric milk was ready to savor. And savor it I did. This drink was so good that I had to pace myself. The taste is flavorful but mild.

Turmeric is considered one of the most effective medicinal herbs with powerful benefits for the body. Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, is anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. The body absorbs curcumin much better when black pepper is ingested at the same time.

Curcumin is linked to improved brain function and a lessening of brain diseases, less risk of heart disease, cancer prevention, depression prevention, inhibition of Alzheimer’s, improvement of arthritis through lessening of inflammation and anti-aging properties.

That’s a lot of health benefits packed into a tasty nighttime drink. In addition, turmeric soothes the digestive tract, which contributes to a better night’s sleep.

Raw organic honey, locally produced, is a good source of antioxidants. Health benefits of honey include soothes the digestive tract, eases seasonal allergies and sore throats, protects the body from cell damage, and it is antibacterial and anti-fungal.

Best of all, this drink centers me as it warms me, preparing me for a time of deep rest. I drank the turmeric milk last night, and fell asleep easily and quickly.

Writing about the drink and its many health benefits makes me crave another cup of turmeric milk tonight. This could become my favorite bedtime drink!

Memories on the Wall

I’m sharing a pictorial blog post tonight, as a follow up to creating travel art a few days ago. Using postcards and miniature watercolor prints from the countries I have visited this year, I captured memories within frames.

This evening, those memories went onto the walls.

If you can’t live longer, live deeper. Italian proverb

Italy…the first country I visited this year, accompanied by my daughter Elissa and my grandson Dayan. Or rather, Elissa and I accompanied Dayan, for this was his dream trip and his chosen destination. Italy was my graduation gift to Dayan, and how wonderful it was for his mom and I to experience it with him.

I love the vintage-look postcards from four of the cities we visited. What memories we collected in each place. The colorful square postcard is from Cinque Terre and reminds of the day the three of us stood with bare feet in the Mediterranean Sea. I made the framed print with a favorite Italian expression that we embraced…cogli l’attimo…pick up the moment…hold the moment. And the little ceramic bowl from San Gimignano was a gift from our fun and cheerful tour guide, Fabiola. I will always remember her graciousness and the joy she expressed as she lives her life.

Your feet will bring you where your heart is. Irish proverb

I failed, big time, in not bringing home postcards or art from Ireland. My kids and grandkids got souvenirs from the Emerald Isle. I returned with a silver Celtic knot ring, a scarf, a scarf pin…and a heart full of memories. My traveling companions for countries two, three and four were my mom, two sisters and niece. Rather than continue to beat myself up for my postcard oversight, I have instead remained open to creative ideas to remedy the situation.

I am excited to report that I’ve had a brilliant idea, a clever way to create art from something I did bring back from Ireland…photos. My idea involves a non traditional way to display them. Stay tuned for that creative project.

Listen to the silence. Be still and let your soul catch up. Scottish proverb

I’m quite pleased with my Scottish display. The vintage looking postcards hang above a teal table holding my wee collection of Scottish treasures. I picked up the Thirlestane Castle postcard on this trip. The Lauder tartan was a gift from my mom years ago. I purchased the silver heart-shaped votive holder on my first trip to Scotland, in 2014. And the small Scottish dirk, called a sgian dubh, was bought at a Renaissance Fair I attended.

The lion represents the one on the Clan Maitland crest with the Latin phrase Consilio Et Animis – by wisdom and courage. It reminds me that I have a “tribe”, a clan, that I am a card carrying member of. My clan, with its Scottish roots, is scattered around the globe. I just today connected with a woman via Facebook, who has Lauderdales in her family tree. She visited Thirlestane Castle in Lauder three weeks before I did. How wonderful to find each other and compare genealogies.

A joy that’s shared is a joy made double. English proverb

The watercolor miniatures from London, England found a place in the living room, near shadow boxes containing mementos from musicals I have attended. These iconic images remind me of the amazing energy and diversity we encountered in London. I hope to return someday, and experience this grand city’s artistic and theatrical side.

Looking at the watercolors transports me back to those days of wandering the city and hopping on and off the Tube, sharing in the adventure of it all with my mom, sisters and niece.

The last framed art piece that went up on the wall tonight did not travel back with me from abroad. It arrived this weekend, as a gift from my sister Debbie and niece Ashley. They had sent me a pic of the artwork and I was excited to receive their generous gift. What I didn’t realize was how big the art piece was!

It was difficult to tell from the photo they sent, however I was estimating something about 12″x14″, or even a bit smaller. It is huge…and gorgeous…this framed painting of Venice. I love it. That’s how Venice is…larger than life. And that’s what travel does for me, it enlarges my life, it makes me grow, it opens my heart so that I can receive more.

I am grateful for this reminder, this travel art, that triggers memories as surely as my photos and mementos do. I don’t know who said it, but I read a quote that captures my heart.

We take photos as a return ticket to a moment otherwise gone.

That’s what my travel art is. Return tickets…time portals…to beautiful memories of beautiful experiences. I want to collect memories from all over the world. I don’t want my home to look like a museum. I want it to look like the home of a woman with an expansive soul and a wanderer’s heart.

I have a good start.

Fall Moves Indoors

This afternoon I continued with the seasonal change over, moving fall indoors. I enjoy creating vignettes, on tabletops and chair seats, on shelves and in boxes. I have a vintage suitcase in my bedroom that I change with the seasons, as well as an old wooden sieve that has a place of honor on my dining table.

It becomes a game, a form of artistic playing, to create a fresh look, using items I have on hand. I combine different pieces to create something new. This year I took the game to a higher level. I decided not to purchase anything to add to my decor or the vignettes. Typically, for fall, I buy mums, pumpkins and gourds for the front porch, and mini pumpkins for indoors use. And stores such as Michael’s or Kirkland’s always have cute seasonal items that tempt me.

But I chose not to shop.

There isn’t anything wrong with making such purchases. This is just one of my quirks. I like to play…and I like to challenge myself in new ways. The game was on!

Here are the areas that got make overs today:

The old battered suitcase switched to fall with seasonal colors in a shawl and a vintage wooden tray. I kept things simple. I added a large glass candle holder and a pair of red ceramic birds. A footed enameled metal bowl holds fabric balls.

I added a couple of fall candles to the wooden box I keep at the foot of my bed, and included a little blessing sign.

The 119 year old china doll, with her orange, yellow and green dress, always makes an appearance for fall, somewhere in the house. This year she shares the wooden sieve with an old pocket watch, a box with Abundance written across the top and a glass pitcher full of picks with red and yellow berries.

A pair of metal birds rest outside the sieve. And at either end of the table, metal cloches cover artificial pumpkins on bright orange plates. I pulled the brown, gold and red striped placemats from another location, to tie everything together, color wise.

And old wooden chair becomes a great spot for a little bird themed vignette.

And finally, the small table by the front door was reset. On the bottom shelf I’ve featured a print by local artist Alice Lynn Greenwood. Let the beauty of what you love be what you do. Rumi

And on the tabletop, a small enameled metal bowl, candles and a metal wire cloche. I usually stack miniature pumpkins in the cloche. I considered running to the store…but what about the game I was playing? I said I would use what I already had. This is where I wandered about the house a bit, in open to receive mode. And an idea came.

I had wooden acorns, in a little wooden crate. Perfect! The acorn was my sub-symbol two years ago. It represents potential…and remembrance. I really like the way they look in the cloche, plus I had two left over to rest next to the stack of books that serves as a candle holder.

I created a couple of other small arrangements and then I was done for the day. I am pleased with the new vignettes and I had fun challenging myself to be creative. In the midst of decorating, I had an odd thing happen, an unexpected bonus.

The old clock that hangs above the entry table is 103 years old. It’s been in Greg’s family for a while, and I have had it hanging on the wall for the last five years. It’s never worked while I’ve had it. Hasn’t worked for years, even when it hung in Greg’s parents’ house.

Tonight, as I dusted it, resting one hand against it to steady it while I ran a cloth over it, the clock pendulum slowly began to move. I thought I had bumped it enough to cause the pendulum to swing slightly. But no. The clock began to tick as the pendulum swung steadily back and forth.

Hours later, the clock is still ticking. And it’s keeping time. I had Greg look at it. He moved the hands to the correct time and the clock has stayed accurate. He used the big metal key to wind it, and discovered it was already wound up.

Something shifted. Energy moved. I am a clock whisperer. I don’t know what happened. But as I type this blog post, I can hear the comforting sound of that old clock tick-tocking. I like it. As the days become shorter and the nights longer, the clock ticking adds a wonderful coziness to my home.

I don’t know how long the clock will keep working, but tonight, I am loving it. What a wonderful addition to the fall decor…and a fun surprise during the decorating game. I think I won.

Mom’s Big Year

I haven’t shared many birthday posts this year. Last year I did celebratory posts for every member of my family, both immediate and extended, on their actual birthdays. I’ve given the tradition a bit of a rest this year.

Today is my mom’s birthday. And rather than sharing what her name means or how she has influenced my life, as I have done in the past, I want to express how proud I am of my mom, for making some big changes in her life.

Mom has had some health challenges the last few years. Nothing was life threatening, however a host of ailments has greatly affected how she felt and necessitated several surgeries. Some might simply accept that as we get older, our health naturally declines. While this can appear to be true, my mom decided to shift that belief and take responsibility for her health.

Exactly a year ago, I accompanied my mom on all of her doctors’ appointments. I had recently switched to a plant based diet, taking charge of my own health and desiring to heal from chronic pain. Seeing my improvements, Mom was interested in embracing a plant based lifestyle as well. During that week of doctor visits, I got their hearty approvals for her to eliminate meat, eggs, dairy and gluten from her diet and consume instead fruits, vegetables, brown rice, gluten free oats, nuts and legumes.

Because here was the incentive…we were planning a trip. In twelve months my sisters, niece, mom and I intended to visit Ireland, Scotland and England. Mom and I both wanted to enjoy that trip in good health.

Six months later, when she returned for check ups, Mom was excited to learn that her health was indeed shifting. Inflammation was greatly reduced. Other health conditions had improved. Her doctors were impressed and encouraged her to continue with a plant based lifestyle. Even though she ended up having to have a knee replacement at that time, due to breaking a bone in that joint, she recovered remarkably well.

Her surgeon approved travel…and our dream trip became a reality.

I am so incredibly proud of my mom. We spent 12 days traveling. During that time we walked, a lot. We climbed stairs, toured landmarks and castles, and spent hours in planes, trains, automobiles and buses. We hopped on and off the London Tube. Did we slow our pace a bit? Yes. But only because she had knee surgery, just six months ago. Did we ever leave her behind at a hotel? Not once.

Mom and I are continuing in our plant based lifestyle. It is too important to my health, and to hers, to ever go back to the way we used to eat. I am thrilled. Mom inspires me every day, and now she is showing me how to live life to the fullest, as a “senior”.

Mom and Walter at dinner tonight.

During our recent trip, I often thought how precious it was to see Ireland, Scotland and England with my family, and especially with my mom. Travel has been an important part of her life, and her desire to explore the world has been passed on to me.

I also thought that this trip might be Mom’s last overseas adventure. And if it is, we have absolutely no regrets. However, my sisters and I are already talking about taking another girls’ trip together in 2019. And guess who wants to go with us?

Happy birthday Mom. I love you. I am so grateful for you and your desire to be the best version of yourself, at every age. Long may you have new adventures. And yes, you are always welcome to travel with us!

Series Review: Star Trek Discovery

I embraced the Star Trek universe when I was 14 years old. In culture jargon, I became a Trekkie at that impressionable and informative age, and I have remained one since that time. In ways that are difficult to put into words, Star Trek has shaped my life by modeling for me how to boldy go, and how to expand my known universe.

Tonight, with great excitement and anticipation, I watched the premiere of the newest installment in this long running franchise…Star Trek Discovery.

Star Trek Discovery stars Sonequa Martin-Green, Doug Jones, Michelle Yeoh, Maulik Pancholy, Shazad Latif, Anthony Rapp, Jason Isaacs, Kenneth Mitchell, and James Frain…among other upcoming season regulars. The sci-fi series premiere was directed by David Semel and is based on the Star Trek universe, as created by Gene Roddenberry. The series has a weekly run time of 1 hour and carries a MA (mature audience) rating.

Tonight’s episode, titled The Vulcan Hello, opens by reintroducing us to the warrior race known as the Klingons. Discovery takes place 10 years before the Enterprise sets out on its five year mission. At this point in the Star Trek storyline, the Klingons have not been seen for generations, except on rare occasions. But they are rallying the 24 noble houses, with an intent that seems less than peaceful. Commander Kol (Mitchell) is the formidable leader.

On a desert planet, we meet Captain Georgiou (Yeoh) and her first officer, Lt. Commander Michael Burnham (Martin-Green). The women have served together for seven years, long enough to develop an understanding of each other and build trust between them.

However, when Lt Commander Burnham makes a startling discovery involving the seldom encountered Klingons, long buried emotions from her past threaten to spill over.

While serving with the Vulcans, Burnham’s parents were killed during a Klingon attack. Orphaned, Burnham was raised by the Vulcan ambassador, Sarek (Frain). Although she has adopted logic, and learned to repress her emotions, finding the Klingons in Federation space brings Burnham’s distrust and desire for retaliation into sharp contrast with her cool intellect.

The Federation appears to be on the brink of a fresh war with the Klingons.

Other members of the crew of the USS Shenzhou that were introduced tonight include Dr Nambue (Pancholy), Lt Tyler (Latif), Lt Stamets (Rapp), and Lt Saru (Jones), an alien with the ability to sense approaching death. Jason Isaacs’ character, Captain Gabriel Lorca, will be a regular, although he was not present in the pilot.

There was much for me to love about Star Trek’s return to television after a 12 year absence. The movie quality visuals, special effects and musical score were amazing. There were moments of familiarity, such as seeing a young Sarek, that warmed my heart. And enough new material, species and technology to make me want to know more.

Discovery’s opening sequence was so good that it brought tears to my eyes. I had to watch it again after the episode ended. For Trekkies there are iconic depictions of the hand phaser, the flip open communicator and the beloved Vulcan salute. And within the new musical number, stirring notes from the classic Trek score can be heard. Watch the opening sequence HERE.

The stories in this series are told, for the first time, not from the captain’s perspective, but from the second in command’s viewpoint. There is a very diverse crew, portrayed by an equally diverse cast. The choice to make the commanding officers female is a tribute to Nichelle Nichols, who played Lt Uhura in the original series.

And there are unanswered questions at the end of episode one, the primary one being is Discovery the name of a replacement ship for the Shenzhou…or more of a theme? The series tagline is At the edge of the universe, discovery begins. I like that. My own discoveries, about who I am and what I am capable of, began at the edge of my known universe too. Going beyond has become my own personal trek.

The question that I had at the beginning of tonight’s episode has been answered. Another first for this franchise was moving the series to CBS All Access after the premiere. The first episode was on network television. The rest can only be seen with a paid subscription. I didn’t know if I would be joining the streaming network.

But…it’s Star Trek. This show and its concepts have been a part of my life for 45 years. I am a most loyal fan and devotee. I don’t try to make Star Trek fit within my parameters and perceptions. I accept it, in all of its storylines, series and movie adaptations, and remain open to the lessons that I can learn by doing so.

This is how Star Trek expands me. This is how Star Trek takes me beyond where I currently am. This is how I boldly go, where I have not gone before.

I am happily joining CBS All Access. It is a nominal fee. Episode two of Star Trek Discovery is waiting for me there.

Home of the Tigers

On this gorgeous Saturday, I enjoyed watching three of my grandchildren participate in sporting events. Because of work and my recent travels, this was my first opportunity to watch granddaughter Aubrey cheer and grandsons Joey and Oliver play Tiger football. This was also my first time to watch the kids play and cheer within the beautiful new stadium built recently near the Carthage High School.

Here are highlights from the fun day:

I was grateful for my son and daughter-in-law’s pop up canopy that provided shade from the bright sunshine!

A peek at the new scoreboard during Joey’s game…and a vibrant field.

Joey didn’t get to play today. That’s him, number 4, cheering his team on and helping out from the sidelines. He is wearing a brace on his left leg. And the boy on crutches at the other end? That boy and Joey collided during a game two weeks ago. Joey injured his knee. The other boy suffered a broken ankle. Ouch for both of them!

Joey stretching out his leg. I was proud of my grandson. Although he didn’t play, he was attentive and encouraging and helped out by carrying water and tossing the football out. Joey’s team didn’t win but they played earnestly and well.

Watching Joey’s game.

Game 2, and Oliver takes the field as one of the team captains. He is number 3. This is Oliver’s second year to play, and what a difference a year makes. His team plays very well together, under the direction of excellent coaches.

Most of the time, Oliver plays on the defensive line. He is scrappy, and defends very well, blocking players on the other team and tackling, as necessary. His team won their game, without allowing the other team to score.

I appreciate how my son and daughter-in-law show up for their kids, cheering them on and being witnesses to their lives. Nate, who is a sergeant with the police department, was working today. That didn’t prevent him from stopping by the stadium to watch a little bit of the boys’ games and see his daughter cheer.

This is Aubrey’s first year as a cheerleader, although she has been observing and practicing in the bleachers for the last two years. She cheered with her squad during Oliver’s game and it was fun to watch both of them.

At halftime, the girls took to the field to perform a special cheer. I videotaped it, being the first time I’ve had opportunity to watch this darling girl and her friends cheer. You can watch their performance HERE.

I know the kids keep their parents busy, with practices every evening, except Fridays, and games on Saturdays. Nate and Megan are investing in their kids, allowing them to pursue interests and develop skills, and also determine what engages and calls to them next.

I’m proud of all of my grandchildren, for going after the things that are important to them. And I’m proud of my children, for parenting well, with their hearts, with their time and energy, with their presence.

It was a good day for football. It was a good day to be with family.

Welcome Autumn

The autumn equinox today marked the end of summer and the beginning of fall. Although the equinox signals shorter, and cooler, days ahead, the temps this afternoon soared into the high 80s. In spite of the lingering heat, I decided to start the fall decorating.

As a kid, I ranked fall as number three in order of preference for the seasons. Summer, with its long days of freedom, was my favorite time of year, followed by spring and then fall and winter. Now spring and fall tie for my favorite seasons. The reappearance of my flowers, plants and herbs in the gardens give spring a slight edge in my heart. But oh, I do love this time of year.

Changing my house over to a new season begins with my front porch. The welcoming change begins here and then moves throughout the house. This is a good time to clean and declutter and throw away, in preparation for the upcoming holiday season.

I also love using an abundance of candles. I always intend to keep lighting candles, after the Christmas decorations are packed away. However, realistically, as the temperatures climb I feel less and less inclined to light candles and create additional heat. The arrival of longer nights naturally inspires me to dispel the darkness with light, hence more candles.

I usually add real pumpkins, gourds and potted mums to my fall decor. This year, I decided to do something different. Rather than purchase anything to accentuate what I have, I chose to create using only what I already own.

So instead of grouping real pumpkins beneath the table on the porch, I added a vintage gas can, a metal bucket and a weathered hurricane lantern. I like the way this fresh grouping looks.

The biggest challenge, in playing this game of using what I had on hand, was redoing my vintage red box. I call this cherished piece Annie’s Box, as I brought it home after my Aunt Annie passed away a couple of years ago. I freshen the box with the seasons, adding terra cotta pots of pansies in the spring and colorful begonias or coleus in the summer. For fall I normally replace the summer flowers with tiny mums or yellow pansies.

I nearly wavered and headed to the Garden Center. But then I had a nudge of inspiration. Near my raised vegetable bed, ground cover has appeared, sporting stalks of tiny purple flowers. I don’t know where the plants came from. Perhaps the seeds were carried in with the dirt used to fill the raised bed.

This afternoon I carefully dug up some of those volunteer plants and potted them, adding them to Annie’s red box. They look wild and beautiful, in the box, with a few pinecones tucked among the clay pots and a garland of rusty stars wound around the handle.

Near Annie’s Box I grouped a vintage copper teapot, a cinnamon scented candle, a sprig of red and yellow berries, and left over from summer, a dark red coleus in a copper pot. I am very pleased with the transformation of the box, and I didn’t spend a penny on any of it. I enjoyed revving up my creativity instead.

As twilight deepened, I lit candles on my newly decorated front porch. The flickering flames not only add warmth and charm to the porch, they welcome in this new season and and send light outward, literally and figuratively, into the world.

Welcome autumn.

Postcard Art

I’m back in creative mode today, and just in time. Fall is here, and with the changing of the seasons, my house and front porch get a reset. The summer items will be packed away and fall decor unboxed.

Tonight’s artistic project was not seasonal, however. During my travels this year, I picked up postcards, not with the intention of mailing them, but for the purpose of creating art to hang in my home.

Thanks to a great sale at Michael’s and a couple of discount coupons that I had, it was the perfect time to purchase a variety of frames and get creative.

The postcards from Italy and Scotland have a vintage look. From Italy, those mementos have the names of four of the cities that we visited, printed in their Italian equivalent. The Scottish cards are adorable, with illustrations of things that are considered representative of that bonnie country. I also bought a postcard at Thirlestane Castle that features that gorgeous fortress.

And in England I purchased three small watercolor prints of iconic landmarks. I took all of the cards/prints with me to Michael’s, an arts and crafts type store that never fails to inspire my creativity. I spent a pleasant hour sorting through frames and shadow boxes, considering how best to display my miniature works of art.

Although the styles are different, the unifying theme among my purchases is the use of black frames. Here is how the collection turned out:

The Italian postcards.

The Scottish postcards. I really like this display, with the cards mounted between panes of glass.

The Thirlestane Castle postcard, with a lot of reflection caught in the glass. This one is a stand alone tabletop frame that will become part of a larger display.

The London watercolors.

In the next few days, I’ll figure out where to hang these works of art. I like using the postcards. They are typically sent to friends and family from far off lands, with a Wish you were here type message scrawled on the backs.

My postcards are reminders that I was there, and that my wishes, my desires, to visit those countries were fulfilled. I will enjoy pausing to study these works of art, these travel reminders, as I walk by. And, they will fuel my future dreams.

You may have noticed that one of the countries that I visited this year is not represented. I didn’t realize, until after I got home, that I never purchased postcards in Ireland. I meant to! I planned to. I was looking for vintage postcards or some other artistic style to grab my attention. Somehow we moved on to Scotland without me finding the right cards.

I can probably find Irish postcards to purchase online. But I have a better idea. I simply must go back. I must return to that emerald island to complete my mission of finding the perfect set of postcards.

What a great excuse for another grand adventure!