Gift #715: Halloween Tree

A while ago on a visit to a local garden center, I saw something I’ve never seen before – a Halloween tree.  What a neat idea it was!  Decked out with skeletons, spiders, garland, ornaments, and wood signs, it was a fitting focal point for the season.

HT5I immediately had visions of trees filled with owls and bats, draped in spider webs instead of tinsel, and decorated with pumpkin tree toppers.  Well, I’m in love with that idea.  Here are some close-ups of my favorite of the ornaments.

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This little felted mouse in Halloween costume is adorable and reminds me of the mouse I purchased last year in Cincinnati.  His name is Hector and he lives on my bedside stand.  I think they might be cousins.

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It would not be a proper Halloween tree without a murder of crows fluttering about the tree branches.  This one is keeping a weather eye on all those mice.

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Blown glass and Indian corn are a perfect match.  I loved the colors painted on this ornament.  I think the mouse had his eye on this tasty treat.

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And what can I say about this pumpkin?  Adorable.  Just… adorable.

This has left my mind spinning with possibilities.  How about a tree for Elphaba and the Emerald City inspired by the novel Wicked?  Or one inspired by the fanciful world of Jack Skellington and the Nightmare before Christmas?  I think “spooky forest” would make a great Halloween tree theme – with thorny branches, owls, bats, and wolves.  Or perhaps one in tribute to favorite fairytale villains?  What fun it would be to decorate lovely trees for Halloween!

Blessings to you,

Sarah

 

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Gift #714: Pumpkin smiles

It’s been a while since I’ve had pumpkins featured on the blog, and I’ve missed them.  After all, it is October – glorious, beautiful, orange October.  I love so much seeing rows and rows of pumpkins in fields.  All the farms and garden centers are full of them, with their happy, sunny faces beaming up at you.

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I cant’ decide if I like big pumpkins or the tiny ones best.  Fortunately,  I never put myself in a position of choosing.

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Many places in the area charge by weight and this sign made me smile.  It sounded like something the Wicked Witch of the West would say.  “Weigh your pumpkins here dearie, and your little dog too!”

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I hope your days are clothed in sunshine and pumpkins and that you are enjoying the lush beauty of autumn.  And remember that hugging your pumpkins at least once a day has been shown to decrease stress and improve your health!

Blessings to you,

Sarah

 

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Gift #712: Crochet Foray

Ha!  That rhymes!  Well, today is all about crochet.   (and I’ll stop now with the rhymes – as that last one was unintentional)  My local yarn shop has a project of the month feature, which I am very fond of.  At the beginning of each month they feature a new project and if you complete it, you get a discount off the next project.  I try to participate as much as possible, though there have been a few months where it just got too busy or when I was a slow knitter and couldn’t finish in time.  I think this was August’s project- it was a filet crochet scarf.  This was my first experience with filet crochet  – a style where you crochet blocks of solid and open squares to form a pattern.

 

imageI used a more delicate yarn than the original sample and made it a bit longer.  I had been wanting to use this yarn for quite sometime – the color had beguiled me and I thought it would look nice with this project.  And I think it does.  It has a somewhat vintage look, although the colors are clean and classic enough to be modern, depending on how you style it.

Now we come to the point of the post.  I had a lot of yarn left over, so I decided a pair of mitts would be nice to match with the scarf.  I didn’t find a design that I thought coordinated well enough, so I decided to make my own.  I studied the filet crochet pattern and designed a motif that was similar, but scaled down for the mitts, and I worked out the sizing and shaping of the mitts myself.  I’m really thrilled to have taken my first step in designing a project now!  It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, but felt it was too daunting to attempt.  And here they are!

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I crocheted a scallop edge along the top to make it look finished and to give a little extra length to the mitts.  Then I decided instead of seaming up the sides that I would use buttons.  So I crocheted a picot edging along the side to make some loops for buttonholes.  I picked some taupe colored mother of pearl buttons with little vines etched on them and they were perfect.  They give a Victorian flair to the mitts which I love.  Here’s a side view of the buttons.

 

imageI’m so happy with my mitts and I can’t wait to wear them!  To help them stay up on my wrists I sewed a tiny clear snap that I can fasten above the thumb and to keep them secure.  (although that’s not a novel idea, I am pleasantly surprised I thought of it)  I have confidence now that I can maybe design after all and eventually put into stitches the things I dream of.  Thank you for allowing me to share and I hope it might inspire you to pursue some of the things you dream of doing too.

Blessings to you,

Sarah

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Gift #712: Sanctuaries of the heart

Everyone needs sanctuaries – a place to find refuge from the grind of daily life, a place of worship, and rejuvenation.  A safe and healing place.  For some, this place can be found in a physical location, for others it is found in sweet memories, or dreams of the future.

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Natural places act as a balm for our souls, and to me they feel like a kiss from God.  John Muir spoke well when he said that we need the wild places of the world.  Especially now with so much clamoring all around us, it is especially important to retreat to those refuges where we can be still and quiet, listen and know, grow and love.

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I’ve been blessed to have many such sanctuaries and when I can’t be there in person, I still roam them in my mind.  Many of them are in Denver – Lair o’ the Bear Park, Mt. Falcon Park, Hudson Gardens.. these are some of my most specially loved places on earth.  Since moving to Indy, I’ve grown to love Spring Mill State Park and the city of Cincinnati as a special getaways.  Eagle Creek and my neighborhood park are also dear to my heart.  I’ve grown to love Eagle Creek almost as much my mountain parks.

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On my last visit to Eagle Creek a couple stopped me on the trail and asked how to find the bird sanctuary that was marked on the map.  It took a while to describe through the language barrier that we were walking right through the sanctuary – that it was a safe place for the birds to live, not a specific attraction for people.  I told them some places where they could watch birds up close (which seemed to be what they were looking for).  Afterwards I thought how special it was that the park could be sanctuary to birds as well as to its human visitors.  The park and reservoir provide a home to the birds where they can nest and find food in safety, and it also gives restoration and peace to those who come to enjoy its beauty.

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I hope you are able to find a sanctuary for your heart today. (All pictures are of Eagle Creek reservoir and park)

Blessings to you,

Sarah

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Gift #711: Hidden miracles

Earlier this month my company hosted a Day of Service, in which all the employees are invited to participate in serving their communities.  This is a global event, and one which Eli Lilly has been doing for several years.  I’m very grateful to work for a company that places value on giving back to others.  This year my group worked in conjunction with a non-profit called “Keep Indianapolis Beautiful” to restore many of the city’s waterways.  My group’s job was to clear out a large section of land that had been over-run with invasives (ie. honeysuckle).  We’ve done this before in years past and it’s amazing to me to realize how much of the city’s forested areas are overgrown with honeysuckle.  It’s a little disconcerting actually.  And after several hours of ripping it out, you start to see it everywhere you look.

We had our area cleared out pretty quickly and then were asked to help finish up some additional areas.  Once we were good and tired from all the cutting down and hauling of honeysuckle, the staff asked us to please move all the brush that had been cut down in the morning shift a bit closer to the street so the chippers could access it more easily.  We looked at the mountain of compacted honeysuckle branches, and I must say I felt myself wilt a little inside.  A look at my coworkers told me they felt the same.  But we wiped sweat out of our eyes and tackled the pile, wrenching branches out of pile #1 and stacking them into pile #2.  It was during this bustle of activity that I looked down to grab another branch and I saw it.

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There..  hidden in a pile of honeysuckle, miraculously still intact, was a bird nest.  A beautiful, fragile miracle that I never expected to see.  I have no idea how it managed to survive being cut down, dragged across the site, thrown in a waste pile, squashed by other branches, and then pulled out of the pile again to be moved.  There was a brief second or two where I stared at it in disbelief, and then it was in my hands and I was moving my precious treasure to a safe place.  I wrapped it as best as  I could and it survived the trip home well.  It was made of loosely woven grasses, so it is incredibly fragile and is sitting on my bookcase right now.  I haven’t dared to move it, but if someone knows of a product that I could spray on it to keep it together or some way of preserving the nest, I’d be most appreciative to hear.  I would love to preserve this special gift as a reminder that miracles can surprise you even in the most mundane of situations.

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Blessings to you,

Sarah

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Gift #710: Fall evenings

Today was one of those lovely fall days.  We finally had some sun for the first time and we had a bit of a warm spell.  The trees are nearing their peak colors and they are lovely.  One of the things I love about fall here is how slow it is.  Everything turns in stages, so right now we have some trees that have already lost their leaves, some that are turned vibrant colors, and some that are still green.  So for a blissful period you can crunch fallen leaves underfoot, admire the changing leaves on the trees, and be comforted that some have yet to change so fall is not over yet.  (happy thought)  It’s also the period of time where fall delicacies have returned to the supermarket and have yet to be upstaged by the Christmas foods.

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Sights like this always set my heart twittering – so many wonderful pumpkin and apple flavors to enjoy!  My favorites of the seasonal offerings are the english muffins, pumpkin spice bread, apple cinnamon bread, pumpkin cream cheese, pumpkin yogurt… oh, and those pumpkin treats by Little Debbie!

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And a new treat this year are harvest varieties of sparkling juice.  Our local supermarket got in a shipment of pumpkin cider, caramel apple, and cider & spice!  Oh, they are wonderful!

Tonight after dinner I indulged in a piece of apple cinnamon toast with cinnamon cream cheese.  Yum!  Now I have the lights under the pumpkins lit up on the mantle, a pumpkin candle is burning on the stove, and I’m curled up on the couch.  A glass of cider & spice is on the side table and my fall sweater knitting is in my hands.  Oh autumn, how I love you.

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Blessings to you,

Sarah

 

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Gift #709: Dried Thistles

Thistles have a bad rap.  It is true that they are very prickly, but I like to think this is just because they really like where they’re growing and don’t want to be uprooted.  It’s unfortunate that they aren’t considered a beneficial plant because they are very useful plant.  They are a favorite nectar source for many native bees and butterflies, and birds love their seeds.  They have purported medicinal benefits as well.

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While I think thistles in bloom are beautiful, I find the dried thistle stems absolutely fascinating.  They have amazing form and texture.

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One of my favorite autumn walks at Eagle Creek circles around a reservoir which serves as a bird sanctuary.  About half the trail is a built up berm that crosses the reservoir and then borders it closely on one side.  It receives direct sunlight (so it’s a bit warm for a summer hike) and tons of wild grasses and flowers grow along the trail.  If you’re careful and quiet you can see a host of wildlife  – tons of insects, frogs, birds… It’s a popular haunt for fishermen too.  As fall comes the grasses and shrubs put on their colorful garb and decorate themselves with berries and seedpods.  It’s a feast for the eyes and senses.

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Blessings to you,

Sarah

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