Always the Garden
My Dogwood Project: The Beginning

A September Start

If ever there was a Monday . . . okay Tuesday . . . that calls for a fresh start, a new chapter, sharpened pencils and a brand new notebook . . . it's the Tuesday after Labor Day, y'know?

Let's get those first-MondayTuesday-in-September engines revvvvving!


Sometimes, on Mondays (or Tuesdays!), I share random things that have caught my eye recently. Interesting articles, factoids, and inspiration for the most part. Things that might help get your day started in a revved-up kind of way.


Let's start things off with a quote . . . 

"Great things are done by a series of small things brought together."
            --- Vincent Van Gogh

Every week, I find a quote for myself and I write it in my planner . . . right at the top where I am reminded of it every day. This week, I'm hoping these words from Vincent can help me to remember that every little bit helps. I may not be able to fix the world, but maybe I can fix something in my own little corner of the world. I may not be able to complete a big task, but maybe I can make progress by taking a few small bites. That's what I'm hoping for this week.



I know this might sound kinda crazy, with my love of gardens and flowers and all, but during the summer, I rarely cut flowers to bring inside! I do sometimes, but not very often often. I think . . . it's because I spend so much time outside in the summer, surrounded by flowering containers on my patio, or maybe because I have lovely garden views from every window in my house during the spring and summer. As my garden goes dormant for the season, though, I start bringing more flowers inside -- from my garden when I can, but also from flower shops or nurseries or the grocery store, too.

When I do cut (or buy) flowers to bring inside, I want them to last as long as possible. I found this article with tips about keeping cut flowers fresh longer. Basically, there are 5 things to remember:

  1. Change the water in your container every two days.
  2. Give the stems a fresh cut - on an angle - when you change the water.
  3. Clean your vase before adding flowers.
  4. Keep your flowers cool. (Not in direct sunlight; not near a heat vent)
  5. Remove most of the leaves before putting the stems in water.

The article also includes for a list of flowers that last the longest when cut for a bouquet.

How about you? What are your favorite flowers to enjoy inside? And do you have any tips for keeping them looking fresh?


I'm always on the lookout for news that makes me feel good. Here's something I heard recently, and I though you might enjoy it, too. It's a quick, 4-minute listen from NPR about Sister Doris, a 72-year old Franciscan nun who claims to be the "world's last nun brewmeister." 

photo by Lena Mucha for NPR

You can click in to read the story and see more photos, or you can opt to listen to the 4-minute broadcast. Either way, it's a delightful story about a Bavarian beer-making nun.



I love to sit and knit . . . and just let my mind wander. I've never seen this as a "problem" at all, and in fact, I think it's a great way to center myself -- kind of like a moving meditation of sorts. Well, here's a little article that actually encourages mind-wandering, linking such healthy thinking with happiness.

The article, which appeared in The New York Times Magazine a couple of weeks ago, suggests that we try to "facilitate unconstrained thinking by engaging in an easy, repetitive activity like walking" (or, I might add . . . knitting!). Research shows that "freely moving thoughts" increase the alpha waves in our frontal cortexes, an area of the brain associated with creative problem solving. In our culture - where productivity and efficiency are so highly valued - researchers are finding that creating the space to . . . just think . . . is a good way to replenish you; to feed your soul.


I've shared some of Ann Wood's charming patterns and designs here before, I know. I just love her whimsical style! Last week, she released a new free pattern and tutorial over on her blog.


Happy Cats!

Wouldn't it be fun to stitch up a basketful of happy cats? Check out Ann's blog for all the details, materials, pattern -- and plenty of inspiration.



Lastly, here's a little reminder for you: Our Read With Us book discussion is coming up a week from today - Tuesday, September 14. Bonny and Carole and I will be posting discussion questions on our blogs next Tuesday, and we'll be hosting a book group Zoom meet-up later in the evening (7:00 pm Eastern time). I hope you'll be able to join in! (There's still time to read the book. It's a fast read. . . ) To make a reservation for the Zoom, just comment here -- or send an email to me (email address in sidebar), Carole, or Bonny.


And with that, we're OFF!
Here's to a great week for all of us.

Happy September, everyone.







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Your basket of yarn is so cheerful and happy!! I, too, find just sitting and knitting to be very relaxing (unless, of course, it's a trying pattern of some kind - lol) - perfect for mind wandering journeys. Also a form of meditation for me. As for flowers, tulips never last very long for me and I still think Trader Joe's has the best cut flowers (at the best price) and they last longer than any others. Love the Happy Cats - thanks for the link!


I admire Sister Doris and her philosophy! I think "A strong beer gives me strength" is a very positive outlook, and I'd love to try some of her Klosterbräu Mallersdorf.

Also, those are lovely yarn balls. I'm glad to hear that both walking and knitting encourage freely moving thoughts. I'm in need of some replenishment and will be letting my mind wander today.


This is just full of all kinds of goodies! Those cats! Too cute! (and YES to knitting! I love your basket of yarn balls!) And if ever there was a month for more beer it is this one! :)


Oh dear. I just wandered down The Ann Wood Rabbit Hole and have completely forgotten whatever else it was I was going to say! Bet I'm not the only one :) If I didn't have to get kids up for school, I'd have probably stayed there!
Oh--Book Zoom. That was one of the things. I'd like to join the call, if you could please add me to your list. Thanks :)
And here's to a lovely, flower-filled week! (Zinnias are one of my favorites to bring in. Long shelf life being one good reason.) I've never changed the water every two days, though. I'll try that next time I have cut flowers in a vase!


I'll admit I don't often have flowers in the house; occasionally someone will give me a bouquet and I'll enjoy them while they last, but I usually don't think to buy them for myself. My mother, though, always has fresh flowers on her table, and I do enjoy them, especially during the months when nothing is blooming outside. I did not know about changing the water or recutting the stems, though, so I will try that the next time I have flowers and see if I can get them to last longer!


Thank you for the tips on keeping flowers fresh. I didn't know to change the water every two days. I only do it if I know the flowers will last a little longer if I cut the stems. I love fresh flowers this time of year. Never have a wanted a cat (or ten) more! I'm not a sewer but I could make one or two by hand. We heard to news story about the beer making nun and Smith thought of all the beer he could make this winter (once gardening has ended). Thank you for bringing us a variety of stories. I'm going to let my mind do some wander for awhile. :)


I read Unsettled Ground over the summer and have been looking forward to discussing it. Put me down for the Zoom discussion.
Thank you!


I look forward to the Unsettled Ground discussion, so count me in!
I agree with you about the benefits of knitting and walking, both help clear all the junk out of my mind! Now I'm going to go check out the pattern for those cats! I have lots of fabric scraps that would be perfect for them!


When I had to cut back my black-eyed Susans, I brought some in. They lasted a long time.

I have orchids in the house. They don't bloom constantly, but the little one I just bought is in bloom.

Love to see a basket of yarn. I have a big clear "cookie jar" that I keep yarn in. It's very bright and happy.


Happy Tuesday! And thank you for all of these great things you have shared with us today. I'm constantly cutting zinnias right now, sharing bouquets with anyone who will take them off my hands!


So much fun stuff here!! Thanks for that bouquet article... just shared with Kate, too. Flowers were an important part of our lives/happiness last winter, especially!


As many good things. So looking forward to our book group meet-up, please set me up! :-)


Yes please to the book zoom - I just finished Unsettled Ground.

And those flower tips are good ones - Chuck (my husband) sent me some flowers that came in the mail every few weeks for a while and those were their instructions - Changing the water and recutting the stems made a huge difference in how long the bouquets looked good!


Cats everywhere! I want them a11


I love to have a few flowers on the kitchen counter. For that reason, I grow zinnias and also for the monarchs. I also love the NYT's article - this world could use more creative problem solving.


I've been confused about what day it is all week. Thank goodness tomorrow is FRIDAY! I love that basket of yarn - full of delightful possibilities :-) AND I'm hoping to be able to join y'all next Tuesday. only a little disappointed we won't be discussing the Women's Prize winner ... because wow! Piranesi!! and Susanna Clarke's speech was beautiful, and a tear-jerker!

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