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

Having it all… and a garden, too.

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Playhouse in the springtime

Garden by the Playhouse in the springtime

I have had this title floating around in my head for quite a while now.  Isn’t  “having it all”  what everyone strives for?    I think most of us probably do have it all, in one shape or another – it just depends on how you measure “it all”.

misty morning (up too early to drive my daughter swimming before school...)

misty morning (up too early to drive my daughter swimming before school…)

Over the years I have learned to not wish for anyone else’s life but my own. Oh I used to think about all the other people who I was convinced had it better than I did!  It is so easy to think ‘doesn’t she have everything?’, or ‘doesn’t he have it so good?’.  I think there is a story to tell in everyone’s life.  Some stories are much harder to read than others, but everyone has a story.

a view from above

a view from above (foxtrot tulips)

Recently I had the situation where I really thought I was having a bad day.  But then I learned someone else’ story that day.  Yeah, my day was a walk in the park compared to her day.  Sometimes you just never know what is going on in people’s lives.  If only we could all be a bit more patient, kind, understanding…

Ballerina tulips with our playhouse as a backdrop

Ballerina tulips with our playhouse as a backdrop

My life is quite full just with our three kids and their activities!  Then add in my coaching swimming, working, trying to keep the house looking like a hurricane hasn’t passed through (too recently), gardening, and balancing life with my husband and kids.  I’m sure everyone’s life is equally as busy and full and rewarding!

weeds are just a part of the garden

weeds are just a part of the garden

Life is so full that time in the garden is precious these days. Precious and rare!  Our garden is  where we find peace and enjoyment, despite the amount of work it takes to care for it.  For me, time in the garden is how I recharge. I’m in the process of learning how to just sit and relax and enjoy the garden after a full day.  “Just sit” doesn’t come easy to me, so it is a learning process, but I’m getting there.

Parrot tulip

Parrot tulip

How about you?  Can you “just sit” and relax in the moment?  I hope that you too, have the “all” that you need in life.

Peace,

Dana

a not entirely stormy sky

a not entirely stormy sky

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In a Vase on Monday: Confessions from Mom (and One final week of Daffodils)

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Daffodils in my new watering can

4 different varieties of Daffodils in my new watering can

Well, it is Monday, it must be time for my weekly blogging confessions!  I arrived home from work tonight to find our kitchen counters completely covered and in a very un-pretty state.  This is not unusual at our house since the kids don’t really care about having tidy counters.  So before I can do anything I have to clear off the counters.  Here’s the confession part: then, instead of making dinner, I took pictures. Phew, that wasn’t so bad!

clear (and clean) counters

clear (and clean) counters

What is it with my kids that it doesn’t bother them if empty containers are left on the counter?  or the compost container overfloweth? or someone left the counter covered in crumbs???  arg ;-)  Lucky for me that is all I have to worry about!

lots of leftover flowers

lots of leftover flowers

I actually have quite a few containers of flowers in the kitchen at the moment!  Some are usually on the table, but that was just too much work to clear for a picture (especially when I was getting hungry for dinner).

Hellebores from the garden

Hellebores from the garden

I thought I’d be able to work the hellebores into my daffodil arrangement, but they really did not go together.

my new watering can

my new watering can

Above my watering can arrangement is my favourite quilted pot-holder.  It was made for me by my dear friend Betty who was 80 when she made it. She is now 86 and still making beautiful quilts!

Watering Can Vase

Watering Can Vase

I bought the watering can this weekend out of necessity. I have finally planted some (read: LOTS and LOTS)  squash seeds and when I went to water them with my regular watering can I nearly drowned them!  So when I was at the store I opted for the much prettier metal can rather than the (cheaper) plastic one. It is cream and I think it matches our kitchen nicely. :-)

another different variety

another variety of daffodils from the garden

second round of life for a bouquet that was "spent"

second round of life for a bouquet that was “spent”

This picture is of flowers which were in a bouquet last week.  There were other flowers in the original bouquet but they are now good and dead.  I cut these guys nice and short and put them in a much smaller container and they look really happy! Don’t you think so?

daffodils on the deck

daffodils on the deck

And finally, I show you my back deck containers of daffodils (and bright pink anemone).  There are two pictures, and look how different they are by just kneeling down, or standing up!  I couldn’t decide if I liked seeing the grass and no sky, or the hedges and fields beyond so I combined them both into one collaged picture.  Which do you prefer???

I will be joining Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for this fun meme “In a Vase on Monday”.  Won’t you join us? https://ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com/2015/04/13/in-a-vase-in-monday-more-rug-than-carpet/

Happy Spring!
Dana

Wordless Wednesday: Quite a Large Rubber Ducky

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it is as big as the tree!

it is as big as the tree!

Hello!  Just a few words on my “Wordless Wednesday Post”.  I saw this huge inflatable duck along the N2 near Cullaville, County Monaghan yesterday.  I have no idea why it is there, but it sure made me smile!

Gigantic Rubber Ducky!

Gigantic Rubber Ducky!

It is HUGE!

Your guess is as good as mine...

Your guess is as good as mine…

I hope it made you smile too!

Happy Spring :-)
Dana

In a Vase on Monday: Easter Monday Daffodils & Anemone

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up close

up close

Hello there! I would first like to start with an apology.  I have not had a chance to reply to the lovely folks who commented on my post last week. I know, I feel terrible. As well as that, I haven’t had a chance to visit the blogs that I so enjoy seeing and reading.  It is only because of lack of time, and I’m planning on catching up this week. I hope you’ll forgive me!

a splash of purple from  anemone and muscari

a splash of purple from anemone and muscari

The task at hand is posting for “In a Vase on Monday”, a fun meme hosted by Cathy of Rambling in the Garden (https://ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com/2015/04/06/in-a-vase-on-monday-having-my-cake-and-eating-it/ )  . After reading her lovely post about her Vase, you can then follow the links to others who always have something interesting to see!

How many varieties do I have?

How many varieties do I have?

Today I feature two different varieties of daffodils. I wasn’t able to find their names, unfortunately.  The white variety came from my father-in-law.  He gave me a bunch of bulbs a few years ago.  The flowers are quite delicate looking.  He is an amazing gardener!  Here is a little peek at his daffodils:

Patsy's Garden

Patsy’s Garden

They completely cover the back garden!  It is lovely to see.

all yellow, with so many layers

all yellow, with so many layers

The yellow narcissi are a dwarf variety. I have them planted out by our fence.  They are new to us this year, so I know I have their name written down somewhere!

Highland Stoneware from Scotland

Highland Stoneware from Scotland

My vase this week is a Highland Stoneware jug which I picked up a few years ago on a “get-away” weekend with my husband.  We went to Edinburgh to watch Ireland play rugby. Nice romantic weekend away just me, hubby, and 50,000 supporters ;-)  It really was a lovely weekend (and thankfully, Ireland won!).

loads and loads of daffodils

The rooster side of the jug

the other side of the jug

the hen side of the jug

Perfectly glorious weather

Perfectly glorious weather

I actually put this arrangement together today (Monday), as opposed to the usual Saturday before.  Being Easter Monday, everyone had off of work, and the weather was simply perfect.

beautiful blue skies

beautiful blue skies

We worked in the garden most of the weekend.  I’m pretty sure every muscle in my body was used! The garden needed so much work. I am so, so happy with all that we were able to get done.  I just might get an actual gardening post in this week (fingers crossed!).

my jug floweth over with daffodils

my jug floweth over with daffodils

Too pretty not to photograph

Too pretty not to photograph

I did manage a number of breaks during the day as I simply felt compelled to take pictures.  Everything in spring time is so pretty.

Thanks so much for stopping by.  I hope you are enjoying lovely spring weather, too!

Peace,
Dana

 

In a Vase on Monday: Daffodil beauties

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Narcissi Blazing Starlet

Narcissi Blazing Starlet

In all of Ireland, it feels like the flowers in our yard are the very last to bloom!  I still have plenty of daffodils that haven’t even thought about blooming yet.  But for today’s post of “In a Vase on Monday” I do have enough daffodils for a lovely bouquet of several different varieties (small prayer answered!).

A rather triangle of a shape, don't you think?

Not quite opened … A rather triangle of a shape, don’t you think?

We’ve lived in our house for almost five years, and it has taken me all of that time to plant enough daffodils to be able to have a substantial bouquet!  I was a bit finicky about where to plant them, what kind to plant, and how many to plant.  I should have just gone with “everywhere, all kinds, and lots of ’em”!

Side views of Ice King and Blazing Starlet

Side views of Ice King and Blazing Starlet

I’m happy with the few different varieties that I have now.  The Ice King is by far my favourite.

the Ice King variety looks like a carnation

the Ice King variety looks like a carnation

 

up close

a very simple yellow and white variety up close

 

bouquet

bouquet of yellows and creams

I caught the very tail end of the sun on the day that I cut the flowers.  I hadn’t paid close enough attention to the weather (read: I was deep cleaning the house because Easter is nearly here and God forbid anyone saw the state of what our house usually looks like!).  So I desperately tried to find rays of sunshine through the window the following day.  Unfortunately not only was the sun in short supply, the wind was too strong to photograph flowers in.

a hue more on the white side

a hue more on the white side

But alas, eventually I found an opportunity to give it a lash.  I kept the flowers low to the ground in a protected spot.  The last thing I wanted was to have my vase fall over and break!

A hue more on the yellow side

a hue more on the yellow side

The sun sure does make a difference!

Daffodil bouquet in the garden

Daffodil bouquet in the garden

 

prop!

prop!

See that poor little ugly duckling candle?  That is my only Easter decoration out so far! I came across him while I was cleaning … which prompted me to ask my son to bring the boxes of our actual decorations out of the attic for me.

could win an award for ugliest candle...

could win an award for ugliest candle…

He was kind enough to oblige me.  Now I just need to get my act together and get those lovely spring items out (and quick!).

on the kitchen table

on the kitchen table

But for now we just have our cheerful daffodils (and the ugly duckling candle).

 

on the kitchen counter

on the kitchen counter

Have you grown any different varieties of daffodils that you especially like? Please do share!

I hope you’ve enjoyed my “In a Vase on Monday” post.  You will find other lovely arrangements linked to Cathy’s Rambling in the Garden blog https://ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com/2015/03/30/in-a-vase-on-monday-bluenwhite/  as she hosts this fun meme to see what everyone has in their gardens all throughout the year.  Maybe you’d like to join in?  Please do!

Happy Spring!
Dana

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