A winner and another giveaway!

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What a joy it was to read all of your comments! I’m still smiling from the sweet levity of your childhood memories! I responded to each and every one of you, so please scroll down on the previous post to read my comments (my first response insists on posting itself below the second person’s comment for some reason, but they are all there!) How I wish I could send a copy of the Field Guide to Everyday Magic to each of you! Unfortunately I have only one. I did the drawing the old fashioned way, with tiny slips of folded paper in a basket and my daughter as my assistant. She has been randomly picking giveaway winners since she was barely two years old!

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And the name she drew is:

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Congratulations! I’ll be sending you an email momentarily to get your mailing address! The field guide will ship directly from Stampington, but the extra special goodies will come straight from me!

For those of you who didn’t win (I’m so sorry!), I have two bits of good news. First, there are more chances to win a copy of the field guide by visiting other blogs on the Field Guide to Everyday Magic Blog Hop. Secondly, I have a giveaway copy of Bella Grace Issue 12 for one of you! I’m not in Issue 12 (there was a last minute printing glitch and I got moved to Issue 13), but Stampington still sent me a giveaway copy that could soon be yours! For a chance to win it, please leave a comment below telling me your favorite way to spend a Saturday. I love Saturdays right now because I don’t have to rush out the door early in the morning. That means walks that last a bit longer, sunlight that feels even more magical, and some extra time to linger in the zinnia garden. How about you? The winner of a copy of Bella Grace Issue 12 will be chosen at random along with the help of my trusty assistant! Comments will remain open until 9pm Eastern time on August 17th, 2017. I’ll announce the winner the next day! Good luck!

COMMENTS ARE NOW CLOSED!  PLEASE CHECK BACK TOMORROW FOR THE WINNER!

UPDATE: THE WINNER MY DAUGHTER DREW OUT OF THE BASKET THIS TIME IS…TERESA!

Congratulations! I’ll send you an email now to get your mailing address!

Then and now

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Welcome to the Field Guide to Everyday Magic Blog Hop! I’m honored to be hosting the very first giveaway of this beautiful publication. It’s a pocketful of inspiring prompts and gorgeous images with plenty of pages for you to fill in, and you can tuck the whole thing right in your purse! I’ve written a special post here to kick off the blog hop in the spirit of Bella Grace. Please read on and be sure to leave your comments below for a chance to win a free copy of the field guide. By the way, I’ll also be including some extra goodness in the package just from me to you! Comments will remain open until 9pm Eastern time on Thursday, August 10, 2017. I’ll choose a random winner and then announce the name in a new post here on August 11th! Good luck and enjoy! This giveaway is open to residents of the U.S. only, but if you are overseas, you may be eligible to win a digital copy of Bella Grace magazine.

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Do you remember how it felt to be three years old? Or six even? I don’t recall entirely, but I do see flashes of my early years thanks to my two young children. While I am intentionally parenting them and guiding them through their days, my daughter and my son are also unknowingly schooling me in the art of living with a child’s spirit. They see life through such clean lenses, unencumbered by the smudges and stresses of adulthood. They remind me to loosen up and lighten up time and time again.

“Mommy, watch! Look what I can do!” my three-and-a half-year-old son calls out from the bathtub. I’m sitting right there, just inches away from him, but he projects with volume and enthusiasm nonetheless. I put my phone camera down and give him my full attention, ready for whatever stunt he is about to perform. He tips himself backward, throws his legs up in the air, and gets the back of his head wet. Then he pops up again with a huge grin. The proud look on his face clues me in: that was it. That was what he wanted to show me. I smile and raise my eyebrows in surprise. “Oh wow, buddy,” I say. “Nice job! How did you do that?” It’s nothing significant to an adult, perhaps, just tipping back like that, but I can see how pleased he is. “Like this! Watch, I’ll show you!” he says, doing his maneuver all over again. Water splashes on the wall, the floor, and me, but my son doesn’t notice. He’s still smiling, bubbles stuck to the side of his head. “You can do it, too, when you get little again like me,” he says.

That expression has come up on multiple occasions since then, like when he dismantled both of our couches and built a mountain of cushions upon which to climb. Or when he dumped half a jar of colored bath fizzies into the tub and showed me the dark bluish-grey “thunder water” he had created. My son knows I’m grown up, but he firmly believes that I’ll get little again someday. In a way, perhaps I can. My physical body is full-grown and will continue to age in the years to come, but my spirit doesn’t have to. I may have a whopping credit card bill to pay this month and lots of logistics to keep track of when it comes to raising a family, but my vision doesn’t have to be jaded. It can be tinted by whatever colored bath fizzies I want to add to my day.

At six, my daughter is a creative wellspring. She loves to keep busy, but she also seems to understand the need for reflection. Sometimes she asks for permission to go outside on the deck by herself, “just to listen to the sounds.” I oblige, thrilled that she takes the time to slow down and tune in to nature. On occasion, she brings a notebook and paper with her to sketch flowers in the garden. Other times she sits in the tree swing or picks a bouquet of zinnias and Queen Anne’s lace. Her demeanor is always calmer and happier when she comes back in the house, flowers in hand. She then gives me a report of all the sounds she heard, which lately have included the music of cicadas, the chirping of goldfinches, the cawing of crows, and the ringing of our wind chimes. Some days she tells me about seeing her chipmunk friend Chit-Chit or glimpsing something out of the corner of her eye that might have been a hummingbird.

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I didn’t have colored bath fizzies when I was little, but I do recall loving bubble baths. I also adored picking Queen Anne’s lace for my mom. I even remember her teaching me how to dye the flowers by putting food coloring in their water. As an homage to then and in honor of now, I decided to teach my children the trick. I thought it would be fun to try it with bath fizzies instead of food coloring, but apparently the fizzies weren’t strong enough. The next day I got out the food coloring and we squirted about 20 drops in each little glass vase. My son made some “thunder water,” my husband opted for a reddish-burgundy, my daughter mixed up a deep violet, and I went for liquid sunshine. Before breakfast, we placed the Queen Anne’s lace in the vases and let the flowers take a long, colorful drink. What we found after lunchtime delighted all four of us. It’s amazing how flowers and food coloring can brighten the atmosphere and lessen the stress of everyday life! If you’d like to see for yourself, gather some white flowers like Queen Anne’s lace, daisies, or mums, some food coloring, a few clear glass bottles or vases, and go for it! I suggest cutting the flower stems on the diagonal and making sure they aren’t too long. The shorter the stem, the quicker the color will travel up to the flower!

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How about you? What activities delighted you as a child? In honor of then and for the sheer joy of now, I encourage you to do at least one again. Tell me about it in the comments below for a chance to win a copy of the Bella Grace Field Guide to Everyday Magic! Your body may be grown up, but you can still be young at heart and filled with light!

COMMENTS ARE NOW CLOSED! PLEASE CHECK BACK TOMORROW FOR THE RESULTS OF THE DRAWING!

Now showing

Hello, friends! I’ve been meaning to post for weeks now about some photography I have showing at Livingston Arts gallery. The opening was back on May 5, 2017, complete with my husband playing classical guitar in the background and then a rainbow that followed us home. It was a wonderful experience and I can’t believe how quickly the time has passed since then! My exhibit is entitled “A Luminous Enchantment,” and includes sixteen framed and matted prints. I encourage you to head down to Mount Morris, NY if you’re interested in viewing or purchasing any of my pieces. Mount Morris is a quaint little town just outside Letchworth State Park in Livingston County. My show closes on July 22, 2017, so there’s less than a month left to visit!

Please note: the essay I wrote describing my relationship with light (also entitled “A Luminous Enchantment”) is now coming out in issue 13 of Bella Grace magazine (instead of issue 12 as previously publicized). I apologize for the delay and have been assured that the printing problem has been resolved.

In bloom

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The lupines turn the meadow into a sea of purple this time of year. I catch myself staring out the window sometimes, aching to dive into all those flowers. It’s already been a year since my daughter and I took a long walk together amidst the lupines. She wandered ahead now and then, my white tank top a long gown on her tiny frame. I treasure the photos I snapped of her that day, and I’m honored to announce that this image has been chosen for the cover of issue 12 of Kindred magazine. I’m also thrilled to share that I have a piece of fiction being published in the same issue. It’s a short story entitled “Attempting Destiny.” If you’re interested in ordering a copy of Kindred, please head over to Anchor & Plume Press. Copies are currently available for pre-order and will be shipping in early June. Thank you for supporting them!

Red

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Because red was her favorite color.
Because she loved roses.
Because Queen Anne’s lace reminds me of her.
Because she was wild, whimsical, and wise.
Because she would have been seventy-three today.
Happy Birthday, Mom.

Golden

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Lately I’ve been noticing how this autumn is touched with gold. There are reds and oranges, yes, but the trees are especially yellow this year. Resplendent, in fact. The days have been warm and sunny and the nights crisp. The wind has been rustling leaves about, reminding me of clambering up our old sycamore tree as a child. I watch my daughter outside, the way she inspects the ground and gathers treasures, and wonder if she’ll remember these days. Making flower potions, walking in the woods together, collecting leaves. I think she will, considering the fact that she still remembers how my husband accidentally broke her first sled before she had even turned two!

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I bought her these overalls two years ago, two sizes too big. I wanted them to last a while. At first I rolled the cuffs up twice. Then just once. Now no rolls at all. She wears them every time she works out in the garden with Dada, and whenever we go on walks. Even though we have our share of difficult days and time-outs, seeing her outgrow these overalls reminds me to appreciate this stage. All of it.

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Our flowers are still hanging on, depsite the chilly nights. There are quite a few cosmos and zinnias left, but it’s these bright blooms that I associate with autumn. Our first year here, we thought they were three-foot tall dandelions! It turns out they are sow weed flowers (and the stems make me itchy, by the way). Weed or not, I still like seeing them in the meadow, opening at dawn and closing at dusk.

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The itchiness doesn’t bother my daughter a bit. She picks them and brings them to me, always saying, “Here Mommy, I brought this for you. I know how much you love flowers.” Indeed I do. They’re such amazing reminders to appreciate the beauty of the moment.

For the love of fall

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Oh this time of year. It always gets me. The golden light, the scent of fallen leaves, the music of crickets in the fields. I want to slow down and absorb it all, yet life has been so busy on the home front. Lots of milestones and sprinklings of magic. Some maddening moments, too, I’ll be honest. My son was up at five this morning and my daughter at six. I’ve been on the verge of tears all day. I feel a strange mixture of sadness and fatigue coupled with gratitude and inspiration bubbling beneath the surface.

For now I simply want to pause and remember yesterday. My son took his first steps. Four of them. My daughter gathered flowers for me, as she so often does. White asters and zinnias this time, while barefoot, of course. And then I made this mandala with her offerings, which I combined with four locust tree leaves. The four directions. The four seasons. The four of us.

Autumn blessings to each of you, too!

Summer magic

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I want to say a heartfelt thank you to each of you lovely souls who left comments on my Wild about flowers post.  I was amazed at all of the gorgeous descriptions of your favorite flowers.  It was such a delight to read about the cherished memories that flowers evoke for each of you.  I was even reminded of some flowers that I had forgotten about, like forget-me-nots!  And snapdragons, which my mom used to make “talk” for me.  Fuschia is another flower that was mentioned, and it brought back memories of the plant my fourth grade teacher had hanging in our classroom!  There were so many dear moments shared in the comments.  Memories of mothers and grandmothers, of picking irises and blackberries.  I hope you’ll take a moment to read through them if you can!  I appreciated everything you shared and responded to each of you.  If you didn’t subscribe to follow-up comments, then please click on that post and scroll down to find my replies!

Oh how I wish I could send a copy of Bella Grace to everyone who commented.  I truly do.  Your love of flowers has inspired me to spend more time here on my personal blog.  I tend to be so busy with other projects and family life that I don’t come here as often as I plan.  But knowing there are so many of you out there who love the magical beauty of nature inspires me to bring more to this space of mine.  So stay tuned for more goodness!

And now for the giveaway winner!  (Sorry it took me until the wee hours to get this posted!  I was making sure I had responded to all of your comments first!)  My daughter is always my helper when it comes to giveaways.  I write each name on a piece of paper and usually she picks one out of a jar.  This time there were so many names that I had to put them in a big colander!  She chose the winner: Bonita Rose!  Quite appropriate considering that the post was about flowers!  I’ll be sending you an email shortly to get your mailing address, so please check your inbox for a note from someplaceserendipitous{at}gmail{dot}com!  

In the meantime, I’m wishing you each a day full of summer magic and light that dances on flower petals.  Remember to keep checking the Stampington blog for more chances to win a copy of Bella Grace!  Xoxo.

Wild about flowers

Bella Grace

It’s such an honor for me to be featured in Stampington’s amazing new publication, Bella Grace.  As the cover says, “Life’s a Beautiful Adventure.”  I believe that with all of my heart.  At the same time, I must admit that life isn’t all sunshine and rainbows at my house.  There are toys strewn about and plenty of tantrums.  My husband and I are often worn thin by the stresses and messes of having two small children.  I’ve been pregnant or nursing for the better part of four years.  My thoughts tend to get muddled with hormones and lack of sleep.  So when tempers flare and tears flow, I know I need a bit of quiet time outside amongst the flowers. 

Flowers have always been comforting to me.  Magical, even.  As a child I loved gathering bouquets of daffodils for my mother, weaving my way through the wet woods in tiny rubber boots.  As much as I love picked flowers (my husband is the best at gathering wildflower bouquets!), I especially love flowers when they are out in the wild, roots deep in the ground and petals blowing in the breeze. They connect me to a place of wonder and happiness, centering me and reminding me of all that is amazing on this earth. 

Zinnia confetti

I love beds of zinnias, with pops of sweet color everywhere.  They’re like floral confetti to me, and such lovely symbols of friendship.

Buttercup jump

Buttercups do something special to my spirit.  They bring hope and cheer after a long, cold winter.  I’ll always remember the day I frolicked in this little field of buttercups while my daughter giggled in the stroller just a few feet away.  It was a return to joy for me on multiple levels.

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Poppies remind me of Greece, where they pop up from rocky soil.  I smiled every time I saw them, often going for walks by myself and watching them flicker in the wind.  A photograph of poppies I took there and sold online led my husband to me, so they’ll always hold a special place in my heart.

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Sitting amongst the flowers is dreamy, I think.  It’s something I hope everyone takes the time to do someday.  I came upon this sight just a few days ago, at a local flower farm.  It was a serendipitous find, just when I needed some flower therapy.  There were bees buzzing, crickets chirping, and a sense of softness in the afternoon air. 

Petunias on the porch

These petunias hang in our gazebo out back.  I just love the velvety feel of the blossoms, and the fact that they attract hummindbirds.  Nurturing nature is something that my husband and I believe in strongly, especially when it comes to teaching our little ones.

Listen

Flowers remind me to listen, too.  I often need to get out of my own head, where there are just too many thoughts whizzing around.  I pulled over to take this photo of sunflowers outside a restaurant in a neighboring town.  The flash of yellow as I was driving by called to me.  I’m so glad I happened to have my camera in the car! 

Allowing the light in

Queen Anne’s lace will always be my wildflower link to my mom.  It reminds me to allow the light in.  When I miss her, I look to the meadow.  I remember how she taught me to find the little purple flower in the center of Queen Anne’s lace.  Often it seems like a tiny heart to me.  Deep down, I know that love is a big part of this adventure we’re all on.  A few quiet moments with the flowers work wonders to help me listen to my heart.  That’s where I know truth from fiction.

How about you?  Tell me about your favorite flower.  Lavender?  Violets?  Cosmos?  Daisies?  I love them all!  Do you have a childhood memory that comes rushing back when you see a certain flower?  Or is it the sweet smell of a bouquet that melts your heart?  Leave a comment here and tell me all about it.  By doing so, you’ll be entered in a random drawing to win a copy of the inaugural issue of Bella Grace!  I’ll be adding a few flowery goodies in the package, too!  Comments will remain open until Sunday, August 10, 2014 at noon Eastern time.  I’ll announce the winner in a new post here that day!  Feel free to subscribe to posts (scroll down to the footer) so you don’t miss out.  And guess what?!  The goodness is going to last all month long!  Be sure to check back at Stampington each day to unlock the link to the next entry on the Bella Grace Blog Hop.  There will be giveaways and entries from lots of lovely souls, including my fellow She is Three contributors!  Xoxo, Jennifer

 

Kindred spirits

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It is a delight to reveal that my photo has been chosen for the cover of Kindred Magazine’s Spring 2014 issue! I found out last week on my daughter’s third birthday. Even more special is the fact that my daughter was in the stroller just a few feet away from me the day I took this photo. Spring had arrived, the buttercups were blooming and I remember the joy of hearing her giggle at me frolicking in the field.

Rebirth is the theme of Issue 6, with writing and photography by these contributors. Copies can be pre-ordered through Anchor & Plume Press.