How Many Bloggers Can You Fit In a Phone Booth?

That’s a trick question. Phone booths are largely a thing of the past.  Wouldn’t it be fun to try though?

Instead I did the next best thing. I packed my bags for Washington, D.C., Virginia and New York and met with bloggers everywhere I went.

After an extraordinary 48 hours in Atlanta visiting The Carter Center and the Atlanta Botanical Gardens, I flew to Washington, D.C.

Another airport, another flight delay. No matter. I sustained myself with chocolate and a large bottle of water along with the knowledge that Laurie would be waiting at the airport.

Laurie behind the camera

Laurie is a women’s health practitioner, a biker, an extraordinary photographer and an all around wonderful person. She’s quick with a laugh, sharp and funny. I admire her involvement in her community of Radford, Virginia and all she does to improve the lives of others. If you’re not already following along, please check her out at Life on the Bike and Other Fab Things.

My sense of direction is abysmal, so though we made it to the hotel courtesy of Google maps, it took us another twenty minutes to sort out the maze known as Dupont Circle. I knew that our hotel was in the same building as Starbucks (it wasn’t) and I knew that we were so close. Good grief, it’s a wonder she’s still speaking to me. I find it uncomfortable being directionally challenged. Thanks to Laurie, we made it.

Kelly, who blogs at Boomdeeadda and Kelly’s Korner already had the wine chilled. She arrived from Canada earlier in the week to visit with Julia. Kelly and I became fast friends through our mutual blogs nearly five years ago. We’re kindred spirits who love to travel. This holiday marks our seventh visit, even though we live in different countries, hundreds of miles apart.

Kelly in Times Square (Kelly’s husband treated us to a Broadway play called Waitress)

Saturday we joined Julia of Defeat Despair, and her son Matt for lunch in Old Town Alexandria. Julia’s been through a difficult time this past year with the loss of her husband, Jeff after a long illness. He died  a few months after he retired. Kelly and I planned to visit Julia in the spring after things were more settled, but life continues for her on a difficult path. I’m glad we could see her.

Old Town, Alexandria: Laurie, Matt, Julia, Kelly and me

Arlington Cemetery with Julia and Kelly

On Tuesday,  Julia took us to see Jeff’s grave at Arlington Cemetery.  It was beautiful and sobering, and we all abandoned pretense and gave in to our tears.

Alexandria, Virginia: Lisa, Laurie, Kelly and Me draped in Pauline King’s Scarf design

Lisa of Arlingwords joined us for a glass of wine, dinner, and a romp through Old Town, a place filled with beauty and history. I love the brick buildings, some of them nearly 300 years old. What a testament to building practices of the time. Tulips were up everywhere.

Tulips in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia

Lisa lives in Arlington and works for the State Department in DC. Lisa participates in the The Arlington Food Assistance Center’s (AFAC) Plot Against Hunger project. Some of the produce she grows helps supplement groceries for community members in need.

We spent five days dividing our time between Arlington, Alexandria and D.C. before boarding a train for New York City. Joe is an incredible photographer. He blogs at The Visual Chronicle and Monochromia. He’s an all around nice guy, who welcomed us to New York, greeting us at Penn Station. Joe and his lovely wife Terry hired a cab to our hotel, then waited in the hotel bar while we settled in.

Grant Central Station, New York: Terry, Joe, me and Kelly. photo credit: Patricia Fogarty

The Rare Bar & Grill Murray Hill, Affinia Shelburne Hotel, New York, NY. Patricia, me, Kelly, Terry and Joe. Photo credit: Patricia Fogarty

Joe invited Patricia to join us, and join us she did. We wandered around Grand Central Station and enjoyed watching Joe and Patti, both photographers, compare cameras and snap pics.

Joe and Terry treated us to a round of drinks, then later took us to dinner at a fabulous place called Eataly (think Eatery + Italy). We dined on amazing pasta, browsed the shops and got to know each other over dinner.

We’ve all said it before and it’s worth saying  again: how about this big, beautiful world of blogging? My heart is full.

The Bloggers

Alys at Gardening Nirvana, California

Joe at The Visual Chronicle New York

Julia at Defeat Despair, Virginia

Kelly at Boomdeeadda and Kelly’s Korner, Edmonton, Canada

Laurie at Life on the Bike and Other Fab Things, Virginia

Lisa at Arlingwords, Virginia

Patricia (Patti) at Nylon Daze,  New York

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While I Was Away

Traveling is a wonderful treat.

So to is the homecoming.

While I ponder how much to share about my visits to Atlanta, Virginia, DC and New York (no one wants to plod through someone else’s holiday pics) I do want to share my garden’s amazing transformation while I was away.

Being gone for nearly two weeks as spring got under way gave me the unique opportunity to see everything with fresh eyes.  What a treat! Will you come have a look?

I’m gradually reading through your blogs, so please bear with me. I’m looking forward to catching up.

 

Storming Atlanta or Atlanta Storms

I made it!  It was touch and go for a while, but I boarded my delayed flight to Atlanta, Georgia via Denver International Airport Wednesday afternoon. I arrived at my hotel by 9 pm.  If you’re a seasoned traveler you know how exhausting it is  simply sitting around all day along with the stress of the unknown.

Our plane flew through thirty minutes of thunderstorms, before touching down in heavy rains. Will someone please give that pilot a raise? It continued to pour throughout the cab ride to my hotel, and then things got really exciting as I watched the thunder and lighting from the safety of my hotel balcony, 21st floor. We never get this kind of weather at home.

I’m in Atlanta, Georgia fulfilling a life-long dream. I’m attending an executive briefing and presidential reception at the Carter Center, where I will meet Past President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn Carter.  Together they founded The Carter Center with the mission to: Wage Peace, Fight Disease, Build Hope.

The Carter Center, in partnership with Emory University, is guided by a fundamental commitment to human rights and the alleviation of human suffering. It seeks to prevent and resolve conflicts, enhance freedom and democracy, and improve health.

  • The Center emphasizes action and measurable results. Based on careful research and analysis, it is prepared to take timely action on important and pressing issues.
  • The Center seeks to break new ground and not duplicate the effective efforts of others.
  • The Center addresses difficult problems in difficult situations and recognizes the possibility of failure as an acceptable risk.
  • The Center is nonpartisan, actively seeks complementary partnerships and works collaboratively with other organizations from the highest levels of government to local communities.
  • The Center believes that people can improve their own lives when provided with the necessary skills, knowledge, and access to resources.
There’s a reception this evening, and a full day of briefings on Friday.
So, what do you suppose a gardener does when she finds herself alone in Atlanta for a few hours?
I spent part of the afternoon touring the Atlanta Botanical Gardens.

I’m off! More pics to follow soon.

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Reporting From the Boomroom

I’m visiting my dear friend Boomdee in Alberta, Canada. She works for The Urban Scrapbook, and is on deadline for her monthly page layout.

with petals and petals in the boom room

Working her magic in the Boomroom with Petals the cat looking on

Urban provides a kit each month, filled with patterned and solid-colored paper, ribbon, and other embellishments. She kindly brought home a second kit of papers, so that we could make coordinating pages together. The “Urban Girls” create a layout for the store once a month.

My intentions were good, but when you’re sitting across from your Boomdee Bestie, artistic crafter extraordinary, it’s intimidating. I opted instead to watch her work and to record the process.

She started with a series of papers spread in front of her, and decided on a featured photo. Aren’t we adorable?

at the valemount lodge

On the steps of a friend’s log cabin

Using a stencil, she added Gesso to her base page,

Gesso and stencil

White circles stenciled on to heart patterned paper with Gesso

then splattered bits of black acrylic paint for texture and interest. From there she built up paper layers, starting with black card stock, then adding pink and a third layer of patterned paper.

After adhering the three layers together, she did something unexpected: she went to her sewing machine and laid down three rows of black stitching using buttonhole weight thread.

sewing the pages

Sewing black thread for texture and interest

Using a die cut of the word bliss, she cut one from a sheet of pink paper, then using the same die, she cut part of the actual photo. I love the effect. Using double-sided tape, she created a border on a white piece of paper, then added pink glitter. She attached the photo to the glittered frame, then offset two pieces of patterned paper for a layered effect. Meanwhile, she used spray dyes to color a piece of off-white seam binding, then stitched down the middle with the same black thread.

almost finished page

Almost done

She gathered the seam binding into a small puddle of sorts, then added a heart-shaped chipboard to the top.

The layering continued, using chipboard, crystal dots, glitter, unfolded and dyed paper cording and finally tissue paper.

I’ve been writing this in real-time over the last four hours, punctuated by a late-night snack and a glass of something with bubbles. We’re having fun and I’ve learned so much more by observing then if I had attempted a page on my own.

urban scrapbook page layout

The Reveal

I’ll write more about my visit when I’m home next week. Mike and the boys are in San Jose keeping the cats fed and the birdbaths full. I miss them of course, but I’m having a wonderful time. As luck would have it, my hosts have a pair of cats of their own.

pair of black cats

Blossum and Petals

You can see more of Boomdee’s work at Boomdeeadda and The Urban Scrapbook where she writes a bi-monthly column, Kelly’s Korner.

Nuvo Crystal Drops

BoBunny paper line

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Celebrations: Anniversaries, Birthdays and Boomdee Comes to Town

Life is full!

Mike and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary September 23rd.

20th anniversary collage

Celebrating at Santana Row

Then Boomdee (aka Kelly or Petals) came to town.

together at redemption

My favorite photo of our week together

I had a birthday…

Birthday collage 2015

Cards from dear friends are the best part of any birthday

Then hosted a gathering of friends.

gathering of friends 2015

Good friends gathered around the table

I ate too much cake and homemade flan but enjoyed every morsel. By the way, peeking out from under the plate is one of my  gorgeous new dinner napkins also known as serviettes. Kelly meticulously hand-stenciled them as a birthday gift. Please check out Kelly’s Korner for the full reveal and tutorial. They’re stunning!

bunny's flan

Bunny’s delicious flan

We road a steam train up a steep grade through the redwood forests, traveling on a narrow-gauge railroad.

felton train collage

Roaring Camp & Big Trees Narrow-Gauge Railroad

We visited the historic Ainsley home in downtown Campbell.

Ainsley House Collage 2015

Ainsley House 1925 English Tudor home in Campbell, California

On Sunday we Skyped with Laurie and Pauline, covering topics both serious and mundane. It was good to catch up.

Kelly and I enjoyed full days and unscheduled nights, with time to relax, have a cup of tea or a glass of wine, and to put up our feet. What a joyful week.

In a flash, it was time to put Boomdee on a plane, as we made plans for a visit next year.

Next up: Edmonton, Alberta Canada.  If my surgery goes well I’ll have an honest to goodness bounce in my step. Planning the next visit makes the goodbyes a little easier.

Blogs Near and Dear

I’ve missed your blog and look forward to catching up with you in the next few weeks.

When Ordinary is Extraordinary

Sleeping Fairy Baby

Sleeping Fairy Baby

There’s nothing extraordinary about gathering around the table on a Sunday afternoon. Maybe you’re eating a slice of toast or reheating your tea. It’s a cool, early spring day.

But this isn’t just any old Sunday. Gathered around the table is a group of women who’ve met through blogging. We’ve formed enduring friendships across the miles that allow us to sit comfortably in our pajamas, talking and laughing and sharing gifts. It feels as though we’ve known each other for a lifetime.

Aristotle said that “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” That’s how I felt the entire trip. Our shared energy and enthusiasm for each others lives was palpable. The ordinary seemed extraordinary.

On that same Sunday afternoon, Pauline who blogs at the Contented Crafter presented each of us with a hand-crafted, personalized glass and bead dangler. We were all ‘in the moment’ and didn’t stop of course to capture her words, but now I wish we had. Pauline gathered crystals, beads and charms then infused them with one-of-a-kind reflections of each of us. It was moving hearing her thoughts as she shared each one.

Once home, it was tricky photographing the full length of this charmer without sacrificing the detail. Instead, I’ve photographed it in sections, so you can see the charms up close. I took pictures of the dangler in my garden to maximize light, but when not on a photo shoot, it hangs in my living room window. It’s 22 inches (55cm) long.

Pauline captured my love of fairy gardening at the top. There is also a fairy baby since I enjoy nurturing the small children next door. The teapot represents sustenance (and also happens to be my beverage of choice). There’s a small clock in honor of my passion for organizing and a tiny book, celebrating our Little Free Library. There’s a cat of course, sitting on the moon. Isn’t it just like a cat to make itself at home anywhere?

There are two separate hearts, entwined to show our friendship and a third heart that says ‘Made With Love.’

I’ll say!!!

Pauline enriched the rest of the dangler with gorgeous stone, glass and crystal beads.

Here it is:

section one

Garden fairy, clock book

section two

Crystal beads in warm browns and purple hues, tea-pot and butterfly, cat on the moon

section three

Two hearts = friendship

section four

Beads, hearts and crystals

section five

Bottom half of fairy baby, butterfly and beads

DSC_0040

Part of a long strand of gorgeous beads and silver fixings

section six

Crystal globe

We’re all back home now continuing with our lives, but changed profoundly by the experience. When I see the dangler reflecting the light, I’m reminded that what makes ordinary, extraordinary is friends.

While I Was Away

It was fun returning home from our blogging extravaganza to a garden bursting with new growth.

2015 spring garden collage-001

My blooming garden

After a week on the chillier east coast, I learned a few things. According to my calendar, spring arrived on March 20th, but the east coast remained in a deep chill. Those east-coast daffodils know a thing or two and chose to remain warm and cozy in the ground.

Here in California our daffodils shot up in February along with the hyacinths and other spring bulbs. Their east-coast cousins waited till warmer temperatures prevailed. I got to experience the joy of smiling daffodils twice in the same year.

flowers blooming in Laurie's garden

Spring in Laurie’s garden: Forsythia, Daffodils, Dogwood and Redbud

What could be better than two springs in one year?

Just this: spending time with an extraordinary group of women, talking, laughing and preparing food, seeing the sites and sharing our stories and marveling at our good fortune. I spent over a week nestled in a cocoon of dear friends, all met through blogging. It’s difficult to convey an experience this profound, without succumbing to the treacle of sentimentality.

I’ll let the pictures do the rest of the talking.

Georgetown collage

Georgetown: with Laurie, Boomdee, Pauline, (Yours Truly) and Julia. Julia of Defeat Despair graciously hosted us at her home and kept us updated on the status of the cherries coming into bloom

lunch at Clyde's in D.C.

More bloggers = more fun. Lunch at Clyde’s in Georgetown

North Garden

A brief stop in North Garden, Virginia, welcomed with open arms by Shelley who blogs at Peak Perspective.

time in radford

Time in Radford, Virginia hosted by Laurie of Life on the Bike and Other Fab Things

draper mercantile collage.C

An afternoon at Draper Mercantile

Washington DC collage.C

Washington D.C. with Lisa, Pauline and Boomdee

Note: Just for fun, I created a travelogue using the site Traveller’s Point. I included the destinations, who joined us and when, links to their blogs and more. WordPress does not support embedding, but you can view it at this link if interested.

The Traveling Bloggers:

Boomdeeadda

The Contented Crafter

Defeat Despair

Gardening Nirvana

Life on the Bike and Other Fab Things

The Blog Connections:

Arlingwords

Displaced Beachbums

Peak Perspective

Visual Venturing