A Crochet ‘Fairy Doll’ Handbag

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Fairy Colours of 'passion', pink, and green

Fairy Colours of ‘passion’, pink, and green

Did you ever make something and just could not believe how well it came out? :-)  I *love it* when that happens!  My little God-daughter’s sixth birthday was coming up and I wasn’t sure what to get her.  Then I learned she was having a fairy themed party because she’s taken a liking to fairies…

Tassie Design 'Fairy & Elf Collections'

Tassie Design ‘Fairy & Elf Collections’

I had this lovely little fairy doll that I decided would be perfect to give her.  The fairy has bendable arms and legs.  I found a website for the company that sells them: http://fromtheretohereimports.com/?page_id=6  The fairy dolls are actually designed and made by a family business in Thailand. It is an interesting story, but I’m getting a bit off-topic!

purse before the button...

handbag before the center buttons were sewn on…

But wouldn’t it be nice to have a ‘fairy doll’ handbag to carry the fairy doll? Such is the way my brain works, and thus the idea was formed.  The doll inspired the colours for the handbag; that and the fact that I had the yarn to hand so I was happy to use those colours! I have to say that the Caron ‘Simply Soft’ yarn is fantastic.  I have done a few different projects with it now, and every one is that bit nicer because of the softness of the yarn.

fairy with a view

fairy with a view

The ‘passion’ colour is definitely my favourite. The soft pink did a nice job of breaking up the sameness of the two main colours. The lime green yarn is not the Caron brand. In fact, it was some scrap yarn I bought to only make flower petals with.  But I loved the way it really brightened up the passion colour!

two contrasting colour buttons

very simple crochet stitches… two contrasting colour buttons

Those two buttons were in my button collection, just waiting for a neat little project like this!

hand sewn...

hand sewn, as if that isn’t obvious…

So… my least favourite thing to do is sew. That is probably because I am not very good at it.  This small task of creating a lining should have been a very quick and easy job on a sewing machine.  But I don’t have a sewing machine, and borrowing one was going to take longer than just getting to work and sewing it myself. I’ll chalk it up to being ‘good experience’!  (But next time I think I’ll make the effort to borrow one!)

finished lining

finished lining

I was really surprised with how it came out. It even fit! :-)

sewing in the lining

sewing in the lining

I spent many, many hours on pinterest looking for pattern ideas for the handbag.  I could lose so many hours on Pinterest, it is not even funny. I love getting new ideas there!

 

Crochet purse

Simple stitches to create a basic, yet sweet, pattern

I designed the handbag myself, based on a couple of different styles I found.  I challenged myself a bit with the top flap.  It would have been easier to just leave the top open.  But sure, then all of the little princess’ things would fall out! ;-)

finished.

finished.

It all just fell into place. (read: I figured it out as I went along!)

Fairy purse

Fairy handbag

The handle is called a ‘granny strap’ and involved learning “foundation single crochet”. But it is really easy to find instructions on-line and videos, too!  It was worth learning as I really like the look that it gives.

sparkly side button

sparkly side button on the ‘granny strap’

I was quite happy with the finished project.  I had used my 11 year old daughter to roughly gauge how long to make the strap.  I think it worked out O.K. based on how cute it looks on the little princess.

Little princess with her Fairy Purse & Fairy

Little princess with her Fairy Handbag & Fairy

Go on, try making something new! You just might end up making something beautiful and having fun, too!

With crocheting needle,
Dana

The websites I used for inspiration:

http://koalakidsfashion.blogspot.ie/2012/03/crazy-flowers-purse-crochet-pattern.html

https://www.etsy.com/listing/85170392/crochet-pattern-purse-garden-scene?ref=shop_home_feat_2

http://www.futuregirl.com/craft_blog/2011/1/granny-straps.aspx

 

A Sunflower Garden For Me…

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a view before the full bloom is as beautiful as the full bloom

a view before the full bloom is as beautiful as the full bloom

I am not sure if a love of gardening is something that is inherently inside of you.  Or maybe the interest starts with a teeny tiny seed of curiosity and then with tending, time, and trial & error that curiosity grows into a full fledge love of gardening.

a different perspective

a different perspective

My first memory of noticing flowers was when I was in college.  Is that late? Even at that I was just thinking “hmm, those are pretty”…  It was not until years later that  I had the chance to grow my own flowers.  I was pretty busy with young kids, so it was a very small garden.  My next door neighbour, a Master Gardener herself, assured me that one day I’d have plenty of time to have a garden, and that a small garden was a great start.  A very kind and wise woman!

My first garden (spring time)

A look at my first garden in the spring

My first garden later in the summer

My first garden later in the summer

It was a good start! It was also a great learning experience. What I love about our garden now is that we mix it up every year and try something new.  This year, our new addition is the sunflower.  Oh wow!  I am in love!

the bees are also enjoying the sun flowers

the bees are also enjoying the sunflowers

These guys are only about two to three feet high but boy are they lovely!  My father-in-law started them from seed in his glass house for me. He could grow *anything* from seed!  That is a whole other story as he is simply a gifted gardener!

teepee structure

teepee structure

I know these guys are rather short for sunflowers, but our area is incredibly windy.  One afternoon I was watching the bigger plants sway back and forth and I just couldn’t sit there and do nothing.  My daughter and I  tied up some sticks in a teepee formation around the bigger plants.  They just seemed that bit more secure to me!

more and more blooms

more and more blooms

They are all coming into bloom now and it is a lovely sight to see.

Sunflowers with a full apple tree behind them

Sunflowers with an apple laden apple tree behind them

Some of the flowers have multiple blooms

Some of the flowers have multiple blooms

The group of them together  makes me think of a group of gals hanging together and chatting! ;-)

Sunflower view in the evening

Sunflower view in the evening (a week or so ago)

A look at the garden now

A look at the garden now

Our garden is definitely a work in progress! We have strawberries on the far left, peas front right, with blueberries behind them. On the left in front of the strawberries we have garlic and squash.  Way in the back on the right are the asparagus fronds.  I think the sunflowers frame the garden nicely!

Sunflowers later in July

Sunflowers in mid July

The most important aspect of gardening though, is having fun with it.  I now have my growing love of photography also spurring on my working in the garden.  That makes all of the required weeding worth while!

I hope I have encouraged you to try growing something new in the garden! What do you think, will you give it a try? :-)

With flowers,
Dana

 

In a Vase on Monday: Pink, White & Blue

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Delphinium, shasta daisy, Dusty Miller Lychnis Coronaria

Delphinium ‘cobalt dreams’, shasta daisy, Dusty Miller Lychnis Coronaria

Just recently I found myself looking through my past blog posts.  My husband and I had a discussion and he felt I’d strayed away from my original ‘blogging about the garden’ plan since this past year I mainly posted on Mondays for the meme  ‘In a Vase on Monday’. I saw his point in that I certainly need to blog more about what is going on in the garden.  But I loved looking through what flowers I was able to create arrangements with during the different months.

close-up of that pretty blue!

close-up of that pretty blue!

So I will continue to join Cathy on Mondays at Rambling in the Garden https://ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com/2015/07/06/in-a-vase-on-monday-baby-face/   for her ‘In a Vase on Monday’ meme, and I will set a goal of having at least one other post per week. Start out small and go from there! :-)

our pewter water goblet

Our pewter water goblet. Can you see the picture of the ‘stamping of the grapes’?

This week my delphinium ‘cobalt dreams’ had one stem that was broken.  I bought three of these plants just this past month and they are doing so well.  They are quite showy! I think the blue and white are lovely. So I was happy enough to use the broken stem.

dusty miller

Dusty Miller Lychnis Coronaria

The dusty miller Lychnis Coronaria is just going crazy in my garden this year! It has taken over half its bed.  All of this is from one small plant two years ago! I will have to move some (a lot?) of it to another location where it an spread without getting in the way of other plants.

Daisies and Delphinium

Daisies and Delphinium

The above picture shows my blue delphiniums and my not yet blooming shasta daisies (to the right of the delphiniums)!  That was taken late last week and they only started to bloom yesterday! They were divided early this spring, so they’ll be in two places along the ditch-wall garden.

a very 'red, white and blue' look

a very ‘red, white and blue’ look

A rather simple arrangement, with an almost red, white & blue hue!  Maybe you’ll join the meme?  Or at least visit to have a look-see at what others have created? I hope you will.

Happy summer!
Dana

I am an American

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Happy Independence Day to my American friends and family!

Stars and Stripes napkins

Stars and Stripes napkins

It is a day to celebrate everything that being an American entails, but most of all our freedom.

Red, White & Blue

Red, White & Blue

It is a day for parades, picnics, bar-b-ques, being with friends and family, and fireworks.

Roses and Iris from the garden

Roses and Iris from the garden

It is a day to celebrate.

Showing my American colours

Showing my American colours

Happy 4th of July!  I hope it is a wonderful celebration for you and your friends and family!!!

our American flag

our American flag

In Peace,
Dana

Growing the easy stuff: Strawberries

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fresh strawberries

fresh strawberries

Strawberries: growing this fruit in the garden works for us.  When we first moved into our home and looked out onto the open space of our lawn, my husband and I both saw potential for “growing our own”.

This is our side garden in 2010 right after we planted our two apple trees.

Our side garden in 2010 with only the two apple trees we planted. They are to the right of the very ugly sewer pipe (which I yarn bombed last summer).

Getting the garden ready to “grow our own” would require a little bit of work!  It is now five years later and we can really see a transformation.  There has been quite a bit of learning involved, too. Learning, making mistakes, learning, making mistakes: you get the picture.   We’re not done with either the transforming or the learning!

a look at the beds in May

a look at the beds in May; on the left is asparagus, on the right are strawberries

The above picture isn’t the same view as the one above it, but it is the same space, just all filled in! (Note that we have since moved both apple trees, a perfect example of learning, making mistakes, learning!)

June view of the beds (extending the stone pathway, too)

June view of the beds (slowly extending the stone pathway, too)

We’ve decided to grow veggies and fruit that are the least amount of maintenance because like everyone else in the world, time is precious and always in short supply.

our newly added, this year, third strawberry bed

our newly added this year, third strawberry bed

It is important to do what is right for you and your family.  Right now, this is right for us.

A look down the garden in June

A sunny view in June. On the right are blueberry plants, on the left is garlic

Strawberries do require a bit of work.  In the fall the plants should be thinned out and divided to provide a mix of mature plants and new plants. Those new plants, formed from the  “runners”, really do run rampant, so you’ll have plenty to share with friends, family and neighbours!

lots and lots of strawberries

lots and lots of strawberries

It is good to have space between the plants, too, for air circulation.

a tiny detour from topic with a pic of one of the sunflowers about to bloom

a tiny detour from topic with a pic of one of the sunflowers about to bloom

For some reason, basically family life,  we weren’t able to work in the garden at all last fall.   That made for a messy strawberry patch this winter.  Very early this spring my husband divided the plants and cleaned up the beds.  I was worried we’d left it too late, but thankfully that was not the case and we have plenty of strawberries.  Our beds this year are more full than I would have liked.  (Did I mention that my husband is in charge of the strawberry beds?)   :-)

We cover our strawberries with netting after the fruit has formed. It does keep out the birds for the most part!

behind the sunflowers are the covered strawberry beds

behind the sunflowers are the covered strawberry beds

I think they are a bit later this year, as usually June is strawberry month.  Our last bumper crop was two years ago, but this year is nearly as good as then.  Most importantly, they are incredibly sweet!  Some of them, well actually most of them, are not a deep red, but nonetheless taste delicious!

the sunflowers are slowly starting to bloom now

the sunflowers are slowly starting to bloom now

I posted a wonderful recipe for angel food cake during our bumper crop season.  That year we had neat and tidy beds, too! You can have a look here:  https://mominthegarden.wordpress.com/2013/07/15/bumper-crop-of-strawberries-an-angel-food-cake-recipe-with-strawberries/

This picture was taken this morning. I see a little more yellow coming from the sunflower plants!

This picture was taken this morning. I see a little more yellow coming from the sunflower plants!

I would highly recommend growing strawberries!  You don’t need a lot of space as they can even be grown in containers.  What’s the point of my post?  To encourage “growing your own”, because it is much easier than you think, and so tasty!

Happy Planting!
Dana

 

Contentment… and a perfect visit to the National Botanic Gardens in Dublin!

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National Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin, Dublin

A slightly tilted photo of one of the glass houses at the National Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin, Dublin

Contentment. Do you ever think about whether or not you are content? It is something I’ve thought about a lot over the years. These thoughts on contentment all first started while I was in the throes of really struggling with my strong-willed toddler.   I attended a parenting course in the hopes of finding a magic solution to the challenges I was facing.

one of my favourite flowers... peony

one of my favourite flowers… peony

Turns out the main discussion in this course was actually about contentment. When the teacher started talking about contentment I had too many “yes, I’m content, BUT…” thoughts in my head and more importantly, in my heart.

National Botanic Gardens

Gladiolus

I wasn’t “there” yet; that place where you find peace no matter what the circumstances are.  It would take me quite a few more years to be able to feel contentment.

National Botanic Gardens

National Botanic Gardens

My life has been so full and I just feel so fortunate, even through the many ups and downs.

National Botanic Gardens

Iris

Recently I was lucky enough to steal away for an hour to the National Botanic Gardens in Glasnevin, Dublin. (http://www.botanicgardens.ie) It was a perfect afternoon for a relaxed stroll through the gardens.

water lily

water lily

The weather was amazing; warm but not hot, sunny but not too sunny to bleach out photographs!

statue in the gardens. National Botanic Gardens, Dublin

statue in the gardens

I love this statue.

Best Night Ever Sign Best Night Ever closeup

Their faces sure look content to me!

unusual daisy-looking flower

unusual daisy-looking flower

It was just me and my camera, and we had a ball together!

inside a glass house

inside a glass house

I was following two elderly ladies on part of my walk. Not in a  stalking kind of way, but simply because I entered the garden behind them.  I loved their conversation about the different flowers and where they source their own flowers, and the new varieties!  O.K., maybe I was eavesdropping a little bit! :-)

interesting color combination

interesting color combination with this bearded iris

I was enjoying my time of peace in such a gorgeous garden.  That is when a wave of complete contentment came over me.  I even sent my husband a text about it!

These remind me of pretty birds flying together...

These iris remind me of pretty birds flying together…

I was doing exactly what I wanted to be doing.

Lamb's ear: these colours remind me of winter.

Lamb’s ear: these colours and textures remind me of winter.

I know I’ve said it before, but I have the most amazing people in my life.  I actually had a motto for a while: “People First”.  I think at the time I was struggling with some issues, and the clarity came when I started saying “people first” to myself.  So simple, but so important.

National Botanic Gardens

National Botanic Gardens

I’m happy with the decisions I’ve made over the years, especially with regards to being a stay-at-home mom, working from home, and finally working outside of the home.  I’ve done it all, and I have enjoyed it all.  I’m not saying it was a piece of cake, but it was all worth it.

heron by the water

heron by the water

herron

heron

Life is still full of challenges but along the way I’ve managed to find my inner peace, my contentment.  What a huge difference that makes!

geranium

geranium

geranium

geranium

Being content doesn’t mean I’ll stop trying to improve myself, or work with less effort in the many projects I’m involved in. Not at all.

foxgloves

foxgloves

fox gloves in front of fern

foxgloves in front of fern sculpture

fern sculpture

fern sculpture

It does mean I have a much better attitude about everything!

from the rose garden

from the rose garden

I hope you’ve found your contentment, too.

In peace,
Dana

 

In a Vase on Monday (or Tuesday?): Friendship, Fellowship, and Food

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Special dinner with flowers on the table

Special dinner with flowers on the table

I have lived in Ireland for almost seven years.  Really, this is home.  But I will always refer to the United States as “home” because that is where my heart also is. It isn’t an either/or thing for me.  I love both places. What I miss absolutely the most from my U.S. home are my friends and family.

Selection of Irish Cheeses

Selection of Irish Cheeses

It is tough being apart, especially when those people are as special as they are. Do you have friends and family like that? I have been so blessed with the friends and family that I have in my life.  Definite keepers.

add some candles...

add some candles…

One group of friends that I made “back home” was through our church.  I helped to start-up a women’s group when I first moved to the area and boy was that wonderful! We had a very original name: The Women of I.C. (Immaculate Conception parish).  :-)

Roses & Lady's mantle (Alchemilla)

Roses & Lady’s mantle (Alchemilla)

We were a diverse group of women. Some were stay-at-home moms with young children, some worked, some were grandmothers and everyone was welcome.

Colm De Ris Pottery

Colm De Ris Pottery

I miss that group of women… lots.  So I was delighted when one of those special ladies said she was coming to Ireland!  She has also moved away from where we used to live, so there was so much to catch-up on.  But what we both realised was how special those bonds were that we had created through the women’s group, that fellowship.  It is not something easily replicated.

roses, astrantia, lady's mantle

roses, astrantia, lady’s mantle

Given that it is still going strong 16 years later, I have to say there is something special about it to facilitate that.

lucky to have a sunny day

lucky to have a sunny day

We had a special dinner for my friend and her husband.  A traditional Kerry (lamb) pie.   As we set the table I decided that I would like a few flowers from the garden on the table, too.

My roses are just starting to bloom, and the Lady’s Mantle (alchemilla)  has popped up in more than a few places!  I believe the burgundy coloured flower is astrantia.  It is new in my garden as it was given to me from a friend just a few weeks ago.

Rose pink in vase

Yes the flowers were perfect, the food delicious, and the fellowship was priceless.

I hope you, too, have such amazing friends in your life.  …and if not, maybe start-up a women’s group!

As always, the “In a Vase on Monday” meme is hosted by Cathy at Rambling in the garden.  Stop by and see what other vases people have created from flowers in their gardens.  https://ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com/2015/06/22/in-a-vase-on-monday-summer-breeze-makes-me-feel-fine/

In Peace,
Dana

friendship

friendship

 

 

 

In a Vase on Monday: Peony Pause

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Peony and Bluebells

Peony and Bluebells

Peony are such lovely flowers.  It is a shame how short their lives are!  I have to be sure to pause and take a moment to really enjoy them because all too soon they will be gone.  My plants have finally established themselves enough for me to cut a bouquet to enjoy in the house.

Peony in vase

I had a couple of monkshood stems left from a bouquet I had made last week (which I never posted about!).  I like the purple and red together, although the two stems seem to me like antenna.  This is the first year that I have been able to fully see that hosta on the left.  Normally the slugs eat it completely!   I rather like it.

Peony in a Vase3

Up close and personal.

among the plants

among the plants

The vase is among the plants due to the high winds we’ve been experiencing!  I do really hope that warm weather comes soon.  I am linking up with Cathy at Rambling in the garden  https://ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com/2015/06/01/in-a-vase-on-monday-pink-and-proud-of-it/ for her “In a vase on Monday” meme.  Won’t you visit and join us?

Happy start of summer!  May the warm weather find us soon!

Peace,
Dana

 

Striking a balance as mom.

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Muckross House and Gardens, Killarney, Co. Kerry

Muckross House and Gardens, Killarney, Co. Kerry

Last week my daughter and I travelled to Killarney, County Kerry,  for her to dance at the Irish National Championships. We were making it our special ‘Mom & daughter’ time and every minute of it was special.  She loved having all of my attention and being pampered by staying in a lovely hotel (thanks to deal rush!). Do you know what she was all silly-happy about?  Me sleeping in the single bed and her getting the double bed!  Such simple pleasures.  :-)

Heights Hotel in Killarney

Heights Hotel in Killarney

Killarney is beautiful.  We had some time to go to Muckross House & Gardens and despite it being a misty and slightly wet day, we thoroughly enjoyed it.

Muckross House

Muckross House on a misty day

My daughter, who is 11 years old, took 70 pictures of the gardens!  When she realised how many pictures she’d taken she exclaimed “wow! I guess I do like gardens!”…  a girl after my own heart.

My daughter taking LOADS of pictures

My daughter taking LOADS of pictures

no need for a caption here...

no need for a caption here…

Rhododendrons!

Rhododendrons!

frilly edged white rhododendron flowers

frilly edged white rhododendron flowers

The reason for this post, though, was because I’ve spent quite a bit of time reflecting on how much energy my kids put into their activities.  My daughter danced her absolute best at that dance competition.  There simply isn’t a word to perfectly describe the immense pride you feel when your child does their best, especially after they’ve worked so hard.  She herself was overwhelmed at having “recalled” in her competition.   It was a great achievement which everyone was so proud of her for.

A very proud moment for mom and daughter

A very proud moment for mom and daughter

A misty day at the gardens

A misty day at the gardens

I have to say that being “Mom” is how I identify myself.  Just look at my “handle” Mom in the Garden.  I love being a mom to my three kids.  And with as many different people that there are in the world there are as many different styles of being a mom.

Her teams also did fantastic, one of them placing first!

Her teams also did fantastic, one of them placing first!

I’ve always been one to push myself and strive to improve in whatever I’m involved in. That hasn’t changed in motherhood.  Now I find myself helping my children to be the best that they can be.  This can be challenging in striking a balance between disciplined practice of their sports and schoolwork, and allowing them to be kids with free time and free will.

she liked this shrub as it reminded her of a Hershey's Kiss candy!

she liked this shrub as it reminded her of a Hershey’s Kiss candy!

Swimming and Irish dancing are the two sports our kids participate in. I’ve been involved long enough to know that behind every great athlete are supportive parents (read: promoting healthy eating, exercise, rest, keeping track of practices, driving all over creation for events, and still more practices!).  It is a lot of work, and I’m not even doing the actual activities!

so delighted she enjoyed going to the gardens with me!

so delighted she enjoyed going to the gardens with me!

The really hard work is definitely done by the kids. But I’m glad that I’m able to manage their activities and encourage them to work hard and do their best. I hope that as they get older they will bring forward the discipline of working hard, making goals, and that sense of achievement once they reach their goals. And I also hope they stick with a healthy lifestyle including healthy eating and exercising.

rhododendrons

rhododendrons

In the days that it has taken me to finish this post, my other daughter had some really good results in one of her swimming competitions.  Believe me, we don’t always get the results we want!  But I’ve seen my kids continue on and work harder when that happens.

Swimming medals from one gala

Swimming medals from one gala

If you walked into my house unannounced on any given day you would not be impressed! You’d  find laundry hanging on drying racks, dishes in the sink, papers on the kitchen hutch and a house that definitely had a “lived in” look.  This is how I strike my own balance.  It works for us.  So please, if you’re dropping in for a visit, just give me a call beforehand so I can tidy up a bit!

This tree makes me think of the values it takes to live a good life...

This tree makes me think of the values it takes to live a good life…

It is those moments, when the kids have their feelings of accomplishments, that make all of the crazy schedules and business (and messy house!) worthwhile.  Someday there will be time enough to tidy the house…

I hope that you have the balance that you need in your life, too.

Peace,
Dana

 

In a Vase on Monday: Parrot Tulips and a vase of misfits

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Parrot tulips

Parrot tulips

Given that I had a vase of flowers from the garden, I could hardly let my Monday go by without contributing to Cathy’s meme “In a Vase on Monday”!  Thank you Cathy, of Rambling in the garden https://ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com/2015/05/04/in-a-vase-on-monday-in-your-own-hands/ , for hosting such a fun meme! Pop on over to Cathy’s blog to see some great ideas for creating arrangements from what is in the garden now from gardens all around the world!

up close

up close

These parrot tulips are new flowers for me. We planted them last fall, and they have provided a lovely pop of colour in the garden.

front garden with parrot tulips

front garden with parrot tulips

They are rather unusual, or shall I say “sloppy”?  Yes, I’m sorry, I think they are rather sloppy the way they open up and seem to almost hang with their arms wide open!  I still like them, I just find them rather … odd?

different backdrop

different backdrop

Their petals have a fringe to them, too, just to make sure they are completely different looking to other tulips! ;-)

My second vase is filled with flowers that were either on the ground, or I cut them because they were on their way out…

what a stormy sky for a backdrop

what a stormy sky for a backdrop

Lovely colours, even if a bit tattered looking!

miscellaneous tulips

miscellaneous tulips

I’m loving that I had enough tulips to cut for a vase.  I *still* struggle with cutting flowers from the garden!  It’s not so bad if they are nearly gone though.

view from above

view from above

I’ll finish with one more look at a most unusual tulip…

Parrot tulip

Parrot tulip

Happy Monday!

Dana

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