Delightful Surprises

Yesterday, Sept. 29th, was my 42nd birthday. I didn't tell anyone because I like low-key birthdays. Imagine my surprise when I received a package in the mail from Catherine Holman, a blogging friend and the folk artist at Pigment of Your Imagination. She didn't know it was my birthday, but her timing couldn't have been better if she'd planned it. Inside, I found a print of one of her paintings (it's one of my favorites) and an adorable handmade kitty card featuring another print of her work.

Cathie is amazingly talented. If you haven't been to her blog yet, you really need to go and just browse a while to enjoy the art she creates.

Thank you, again, Cathie for your wonderful serendipitous birthday gift! It brought such joy to my heart, and I'm still smiling.

Then today, I received another delightful surprise from Annie at Annalunda (a wonderfully romantic Swedish blog with gorgeous photos of roses and other wonderful scenes). I feel very honored to receive this award from Annie, because it is HER blog that inspires my romantic senses so often. And isn't this award just lovely to look at?

I am passing this award along to ALL of you! Each one of you inspires me in your own unique and specifically important way. At lunch yesterday with my mom, I was telling her how much I appreciate my blogging friends. Because of all of you, you have helped me feel connections that I haven't really had before. Each of you has helped me feel like less of a loner in this world--less like the odd one out. Each of you has brought me a sense of belonging. I've written before that Hubby has likened this phenomenon of the "blog-o-sphere" or "bloglandia" to a 21st century version of a Jane Austen village--a village that spans the globe and brings kindred souls together that otherwise would never have lived in close enough proximity to one another to become acquainted. Thank you to all of you for the gifts you give me everyday that have awakened my creativity after a very long dormancy and connected me with who I really am so that I can openly say, "I am a pink-obsessed, rose-sniffing, animal-loving, sledgehammer-toting, retro-spirited woman, that is a photographer, a gardener, an artist, a writer... and anything else I want to be." Thank you!!!!!


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Lucy's Fascination with Electronics

Little Lucy is a silly kitty. If we hadn't already had another kitty (Suzette) doing what she's doing, we'd think we had a seriously weird cat.

Lucy is absolutely fascinated with electronics!

When we insert a DVD in the DVD player, she comes running and jumps up on top of the television so she can stare at the whirring black box. What could it be?

When one of us goes to print out something from the computer, Lucy comes running as soon as she hears the printer warming up. She loves to sit on the printer and watch the paper come out. She doesn't try to catch the paper, she likes to watch it. It's pretty funny.

What isn't so funny is when she runs full tilt across my hands on the keyboard to get from Point A (the studio closet) to Point B (the top of the printer). Not fun.

I don't know if Lucy will outgrow this. Suzette never did. Suzette still has an obsession with the DVD player. Of course, now Lucy beats Suzette to the DVD player every time it turns on so Suzette's obsession is waning.

Ahhhh... never a dull moment around here.



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Sharing is Free!

Despite the fact that the U.S. economy is really shaky right now, I've still been optimistically working on my Etsy store adding new inventory and revamping it so that it's centrally focused on my photography (my other art will be showcased elsewhere at a new Etsy storefront to be unveiled in the near future).

I realized as I was putting things up, that I wanted to share the new pieces with all of you. At first, I was hesitant because I didn't want to look like I was doing a marketing job in the middle of a week that could be financially scary for some of you. But then I thought, "Hey! Sharing is free!" So I decided to just go ahead and do some "show and tell".

I've rearranged the inventory on the Etsy store so that it is organized into seasonal color palettes for easier navigation. Here's some of the pieces in the section called "Russet Tones of Autumn"...




And then some from the section "Paler Pastels of Spring"...




The pieces in the section "Lush Shades of Summer" are vivid and saturated...




While the images in the section"Cool Hues of Winter" will be cool and subtle...



And finally, there's the first item, "Chinese Lanterns" that inaugurates the "Festive and Bright" section (which is a personal favorite)...



There's more even more there and I'm adding more each day bring the inventory up so holiday shoppers have a good selection. I love feedback, so comment away!

Rosehaven Cottage Photography Etsy store is located at http://rosehavencottage.etsy.com


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Autumn Reflections

Jodi at bloomingwriter has written a post for the first day of autumn that has caused me a great deal of reflection today. I like when someone else's writing does that for me. Thinking and reflection are good. Jodi wrote about the passing of summer with all its mixed emotions--sadness and regret being among them for her. Her perspective caused me to think about what my own perspective is about the passing of summer into autumn. I realized that Jodi's laments and mixed emotions about the passing of summer are the reasons why I need to live in this climate I live in.

As a child, I lived in the Rocky Mountains at a high elevation where we used to say we had three seasons--winter, July and August. It was very hard. There were years where we would get out of school for the summer, and then have snowfall the second week of June. Easter was often a white holiday. The growing season was very short. And the brief couple of months that were "summer" were so fleeting that it was very hard.



When I was 10, we moved back to the San Francisco Bay Area of California where I was born. We moved during the depths of February's coldness in Colorado to the sunny climate of a drought year in the Bay Area. I felt like I'd entered Eden. It was heavenly to see ice plant in bright bloom in people's front yards as I walked home from my first day of school on Valentine's Day. Flowers on Valentine's Day! Incredible!

Since that very memorable move when I was 10, I've lived in other places and other climates. But I never felt at home anywhere but here in the Bay Area. So I determined that I needed to stay here throughout my adulthood because I needed this climate. And that determination has been a good one and a real blessing.

The downside to our climate is that all the wonderful things that Jodi and many others out there in the northern hemisphere love about summer aren't part of my reality. I have to prepare myself every year that sometime around May all the major gardening work needs to end until autumn comes. With the fair freckled skin of a redhead, I cannot spend time in the direct summer sun for very long even with sunscreen. And our heatwaves are so extreme with Fahrenheit temps often-times hovering in the triple digits, that my garden maintenance chores need to be done well after 6 pm in the evening and sometimes even after sundown when the cooler breezes finally blow in off the waters of the San Francisco Bay. So my tomatoes and vegetables, my citrus trees, the spectacular curtains of bougainvillea blossoms, and my sub-tropical "Hawaii garden", have to be enjoyed in fits and spurts while I remain holed up in an air-conditioned house usually sitting in front of a computer trying to be creative for three months straight.

The other downside to our climate is that we rarely, if ever, get rainfall during summer. Our rainfall for the year occurs during the late fall, winter, and early spring. That's when the hills of the Bay Area turn a gorgeous shade of green. The green hills of January are a favorite sight for me. But during the summer, the hills are a golden yellow as the seasonal grasses and plants die because the rainfall has ended. This means that growing things in the garden during the summer and using water responsibly (always a concern even in a non-drought year) are always problematic. The majority of the beautiful blooms end in May and don't come back until the cooler days of autumn. So while everyone else in the northern hemisphere is enjoying an abundance of blooms in their July and August gardens, I am waiting (sometimes not-so-patiently) for September to come so I can enjoy color again instead of dried up leaves and pathetic looking roses.

So for all my blogging friends in other parts of the northern hemisphere, please excuse me over the next 9 months as a revel in gardening again after having been cooped up for 3 months. My summer is like your winter, and I've got a serious case of cabin-fever. I apologize in advance for my enthusiasm as I re-enter the world of swinging my sledgehammer at things and continuing where I left off in May. I promise that my exultant state is not intended to "rub it in" that we finally will have exciting new birds in the gardens--your birds. And if my posting ever becomes sporadic, you'll know why. It's because I'm finally able to go out and "play in the dirt" again because autumn has finally arrived!


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The winner of the Views of September cards is...

is number 9 and that's Carolynn at A Glowing Ember! Congratulations Carolynn!!!!

And to everyone else, Happy First Day of Autumn! My favorite quarter of the year has officially begun!



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It's "Giveaway Saturday" at Rosehaven Cottage!

This week's Giveaway Saturday is special because it's being sponsored by someone I discovered through Dusting in Pearls (my fun pink fluffy blog). So head over to the giveaway post to see all the fun goodies that are a potential prize for the winner!

And remember that the winner of last week's giveaway of the "Views of September" set of 12 photo cards isn't being chosen until Monday, September 22nd to commemorate the first day of autumn. So stay tuned. And if you haven't entered, you still have time!


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A Gardener's Surprise in Downtown San Francisco

Last Saturday Hubby, my mom, and I drove into San Francisco to see the Ming exhibit at the Asian Art Museum. The museum is located in the heart of the civic area of San Francisco, and one can see the beautiful historic San Francisco City Hall from the steps of the museum. As we drove by City Hall to park and go into the museum, my gardening sensibilities were intrigued by the sight of the pedestrian mall directly in front of San Francisco City Hall--it was blooming in sunflowers!

After visiting the museum, I told Mom and Hubby that I HAD to go and see the sunflowers in front of City Hall. So we walked the short distance and found that not only were there sunflowers, but there was an entire vegetable and flower garden covering the space. The garden was planted as part of Slow Food Nation '08. Hubby and Mom sat on one of the many burlap-covered hay bale benches while I slowly meandered through the garden with camera in hand.

Butterflies, honeybees, bumblebees, and birds all flitted about in the garden that felt like an oasis in the urban center of San Francisco. The juxtaposition of the large produce garden against the bustle of urbanity was striking. It made for some really fun shots. And it also drove home to me once again, that it doesn't matter where a garden is, nature will find it and thrive.

The following are some of my favorite shots from a delightful afternoon...

Sunflowers in front of San Francisco City Hall



The juxtaposition of pollinators (Tithonia Mexican sunflower) against the background of city life



The large round beds alternated with pollinator flowers and edible produce



California Poppies slipped over the burlap berms that formed the large round planter beds



A non-traditional pink California Poppy caught my eye because it was so striking



The round bales of straw that served as a fence around the garden were
a favorite of the birds looking for nesting material




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Autumn Please Come Soon!

The past couple of weeks have been oppressively hot around here (hovering around 100 degrees F) which makes gardening a dangerous activity for me. Trust me... heat stroke is not pretty. So I've had to bide my time waiting for autumn's cool temps in my studio.

I am missing the garden so much that I did up a 2009 calendar called "Roses, Roses, Roses". Just looking at the photographs makes me yearn to go out and "play in the dirt" as I affectionately call my manual labor in the garden.

It doesn't help that I also watched the Hallmark Hall of Fame version of The Secret Garden with Hubby today. That just made it worse.

There's hope though. My weather-bug Hubby says a cooling trend is on the way this week so it won't be long before my summer hiatus from sledgehammering and digging will finally end. I have to do this every year, so you'd think I'd be used to it by now. But it never seems to get any easier to take 3 months off from something I love so much the other 9 months of the year.


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It's "Giveaway Saturday" at Rosehaven Cottage!

Going along with the September theme from last week's giveaway, I'm giving away a set of 12 blank photo notecards entitled "Views of September". Each of the 12 images is from the new gallery show over at the Rosehaven Cottage Art Gallery entitled "Views of September" (click here if you want a closer look at what will be on the cards).

Each notecard is signed and dated, ready to send and/or frame. Mounted on the notecard using clear archival photo corners, the photograph is easily removed by you or the recipient for framing. The premium quality glossy photographs have been printed in-house on a professional Canon printer with archival inks on Canon ChromoLife 100 paper. Each photograph is also signed and dated on an adhesive signature panel on the back so it retains a signature if removed from the cardstock.

Each card measures 5.25" x 7.75" and is constructed of bright white 100 lb. cardstock and comes with a premium quality 5" x 8" envelope in natural white (the photograph without notecard measures 4.75" x 7.25").

The drawing is being held next Monday, September 22nd--the first day of autumn!

"Giveaway Saturday" Guidelines
Every Saturday, I am showcasing a piece of my art or photography that I'm giving away based on a random drawing the following Saturday. Everyone who leaves a comment will be entered. Each person will only be counted once so duplicate comments won't help your odds (sorry). I will pay shipping to whomever wins the drawing to ANYWHERE in the world that I can send something via conventional post. If you don't have an email link connected to the i.d. you use to leave the comment, then you'll have to check back the following Saturday to find out if you won and then contact me via email so I can get your postal address privately. If you do have an email link connected to the i.d. you use, then I will contact you off the blog as well as announce you as the winner. Basically, it's the standard blog giveaway rules that are out there in the "blog-o-sphere" already.


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And the winner of the Autumn photo notecards is...

...comment number 22! That's Emiline at Visions of Sugar Plum (or "Sugar Plum... in the City" right now because she's jetted off to NYC for a vacation)! Congratulations Emiline!

Thank you to everyone else for all your wonderful comments. You have made my week so much brighter because of your sincere friendship.


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It's That Time of Year Again...

It's that time of year again when I need to be thinking about laying out calendars so everyone that wants one can get one before the first of next year. September seems to be a good month to do that.

Today, I laid out the first of the 2009 calendars. It's called "Cute as a Bug" and has a collection of my photographs in it that feature beautiful insects (nothing scary or gross for the squeamish).

I'd really like your feedback on this calendar and also some suggestions on calendars you'd like to see me lay out based on what photographs or art you've like from the blog and whatnot. I'd love to hear from all of you and can't wait to read your suggestions!


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A New Gallery Showing

I've spent this afternoon putting together a new collection of images over at the Rosehaven Cottage Art Gallery. Putting this showing together got me in my "September mood", and I hope it does the same for all of you.

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