Life as I know It

My photo
San Luis Obispo, California, and South Bristol, Maine, United States
Author ~ Illustrator ~ Lecturer

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

What I Expect of Myself

Me and my best friend Hans Lovejoy

Years ago I stopped doing what other people expected of me and started doing what I expected of myself.

 The 21st century needs another Mark Twain

It wasn't only teachers and counselors trying to dictate my choices, but also my family. "What Sharon? You are an art major? What will you do with THAT major? You need to learn how to type and take dictation."

"I can't believe you're not going to accept the job with the school district. You could retire in 20 years and THEN do what you want."

Twenty years? Really? Wait 20 years to do what I want?

Right around that time I met a woman in an electric wheelchair. She was proud to tell me she once trekked all over Britain, but now? Now she blew on a mechanism to make her chair work. Her words to me? "Don't waste any time, don't put off doing things, follow your heart. I was waiting to retire before I did so many things. I retired at fifty five, but look at me now."(She was 56)

 Oh how I love the wisdom of Eleanor Roosevelt

I chose to take chances. To start businesses, some of which thrived, one which didn't do well. I chose to devote myself to drawing and painting and to learning everything I could about the critters and the gardening I loved. I chose to write, well, maybe I didn't choose it, it chose me. I knew that whether or not anyone ever read my work,  I wanted to try to touch other lives and open doors of understanding and build bridges between me and my readers.

So, I didn't learn how to take shorthand, but I did learn how to type, thank goodness. It makes my life so much easier. Mom was right about that one.

I guess what this final blog posting for the swiftly fading 2015 is all about, is believing in yourself and always trying to live up to your own expectations. It is impossible to have expectations of others, you never know when people are going to do a 180 degree turn from what you think you've figured out. But, if YOU know what you're going to do and how you're going to live your life, you're on your pathway. You are "honoring your calling," as author Elle Luna says in the following quote.
Because I honored my pathway (despite the bumps, wrong turns, and dead ends), my life is richer and more joyful. Because I honored my pathway, I am sometimes broke, sometimes frustrated, sometimes on fire, and sometimes sitting alone under a dark cloud. But if I hadn't taken the chance and expected more from myself, well, I'd finally be ready to retire and start living.

I'm living now–what about YOU?

My generous editor and publicist at Workman Publishing have offered TWO copies of Elle Luna's book to my readers. Please leave a comment and we'll do a drawing around January 15th of 2016 (Don't hold me to that). Workman Publishing will ship the books directly to the winners.



Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Love Always, Maine

A harvest of autumn treasures from my wanderings

Dear Friends, Happy Autumn! So many wonderful letters, cards and e-mails have made their way into my life. Thank you, thank you. I'll admit that yesterday's e-mail is the reason I am posting today.

"Dear Sharon,

As a teacher and a lover of nature, I find your posts so inspiring!  I have missed seeing your lovely posts.  Do you plan to return soon?  Sincerely, ------- 2nd grade teacher at Oregon Episcopal School, Portland, OR"

I've also received notes from a teacher in Indiana (hi Lori!) and friends from all over the country. Honestly, I didn't realize that so many people still read blogs. I post every day on my page on Facebook, Sharon Lovejoy: Home Gardens Books, and thanks to my granddaughter, who put me on Instagram without my knowledge, I now also post on Instagram under sharonlovejoyauthor.

So, here I am, sitting at my computer and preparing to share, in a single posting, some of my happy and peaceful times in Maine.

Morning from our porch.

When I awaken, I can look through four windows to the sea. I never take it for granted. Every morning I say how grateful I am.

My little studio faces the sea.

Working on spreads for my new book.

Drying pages on the back of the couch.

The screened porch is the perfect work room on a hot day...

...or a cold morning...(which I love sharing with Jeff!)

...or a dark, sea-scented night.

Our supply of hats, walking sticks, and umbrellas stand ready for our hikes all over the peninsula.

You can't see me smiling, but believe me, I AM!

Past the homes of Christmas Cove toward...

...the home of Miss Rumphius...

...and the sandy beach where I find bird hieroglyphics and sea glass.

But we don't just walk during the day. Luckily for us, the night of the fall "Blood Moon" was clear and sparkling. Perfect for a hike to the causeway where we watched the full, autumn moon turn into a brilliant red orb.

The moon rose over the hump of the Pemaquid Peninsula.

The Blood Moon

Watching the transformation of the pearl-like moon into this glowing, red orb felt like magic. I can't imagine how ancient man, not knowing the rhythms of our eclipses, would have felt. Fright? 

Many of our friends tried to watch this, but fog or storms stole their views. I feel so lucky to have seen/experienced this phenomenon.

The Lucky Winner is...

The winner of the (long ago) drawing for the Sara Midda book is reader Thea McGinnis, who said, "Toss my name in the hat." 

Congratulations, Thea dear! Please send me your address and Workman Publishing will send you your copy of this marvelous book.

Book News

A Blessing of Toads (Down East Books) is available now in paperback. All the inside illustrations are in black and white. 

Second printing and hard cover from Down East Books.

Tim and his beloved grandmother.

Above is a peek inside the little rhyming rebus written and illustrated by me.

My 1859 historical, middle grade novel (Penguin Random House) is still available in hardcover, but will be coming out in March 2016 (Yearling) in paperback. I have been so fortunate to do some wonderful book club meetings via SKYPE. The most far reaching was from my favorite Korean teacher, Lily, who joined me in my studio with five of her star students who read and discussed Running Out of Night.

All my books are available from bookstores, on-line, and from me. If you want personalized books for gifts, I am happy to inscribe them.

I am working on several books right now, one of which is a personal journal of Maine and its rich traditions. Stay tuned!

Well, this has gone on and on. Sorry, I still have so many things to share with you, but perhaps you'll join me again for more Maine. In the meantime, visit me on Facebook for a short (almost) daily glimpse at nature and the wonders of life.

Sending love and joy across the miles to you.


Saturday, June 20, 2015

My Midnight Kitchen-Peachy Keen

Early Harvest-Never enough peach pies!

Dear Friends,

Thank you so much for keeping in touch. I love picking up the mail and finding good, old-fashioned letters and cards. Let's not ever stop sending real mail, real photos, and let's not ever stop reading real books!

Be sure to read to the end of this posting to see who won the lovely little teak side table for the garden, and read what the newest offering will be.

My garden, despite the odds, surprises us with harvests of all sorts. We've cut our water usage by half, we use every drop from showers to deep water fruit trees; all our cooking water is kept free of salt and oil so we can cool the water and use it in the garden.

When Mother Nature produces a bounty of anything, you must work fast and hard to preserve your food. Last year I refreshed my canning skills by taking classes with Ingrid Hilton at the fabulous Avila Valley Barn. Now, when I am in town, I take classes through the University of California Cooperative Extension Master Food Preserver Program. They are fascinating and teach how to preserve, pickle, and dry anything and everything.

My little 'Tropic King' dwarf peach burst into bloom on January the 8th. I never dreamed that during this severe weather it would out produce anything it has ever done. By May I had hundreds of fruits, and the branches hung low (and needed to be propped so as not to break).

The ripening crop.

Washing the fruit to prepare the extras for freezing and cooking.

Many of you know that I love to cook/think/dream in the middle of the night. Working in the kitchen soothes me and helps me get in touch with life. So, I cook in the Midnight Kitchen. It makes me happy.

Washed fruit waiting to be blanched. 
I slit an X in each fruit so the skin would pop and be easily peeled.

Dropped them into the boiling water for a minute, then plunged them into an ice bath and peeled them.

Then reality set in. This is too hard. Life is too complicated. I decided to try another way of readying the fruit for freezing.

The Easy Freeze

I picked them JUST as they ripened. They were firm, not hard. I washed them thoroughly and set  them out to dry overnight in clean egg cartons.

Then, I froze them whole in freezer bags and tucked them away for the cold winter days when I want to bake or make a smoothie. I checked my friend Pat Crocker's preserving book for her way to freeze them. She recommends sprinkling the fruit with granulated sugar and packing them into freezer bags, squeezing out air, sealing tightly.

 This is my Grandmother Lovejoy's Fire King pie plate. I never took the time to really look at it, but it is gorgeous.  

I Always Make a Mess
Get Busy!

My Favorite Gingersnap Crust
  1.  2 cups gingersnaps (homemade or store bought. I love Trader Joe's Triple Gingersnaps)
  2. 1/4 cup brown sugar. Pack it tightly.
  3. 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  4. 1/2 teaspoon sea salt (I use Malden's; it is like snowflakes on the tongue)
  5. 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  6. 1 teaspoon orange zest
  7. 4 tablespoons (half a stick) of unsalted butter/melted
Blend all ingredients till they hold together and don't crumble. You want the mixture moist, but not soggy. (Kind of like the perfect soil in a garden) Line your pie pan and set aside enough for the topping. Fill with peaches, sprinkle on topping and pecans.

Luscious Filling

5 cups fresh peaches, sliced
1 tablespoon of orange zest
1 cup sugar (when the peaches are sweet and juicy I cut the amount of sugar in half)
1⁄3-1⁄2 cup all-purpose flour
1⁄4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon of allspice
A grate of nutmeg
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons sugar
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Stir together flour, 1 cup sugar, and spices and set aside. Wash, peel, and slice fresh peaches. Zest orange. Mix together peaches and orange zest with the combined dry ingredients. Turn into gingersnap lined pie pan. Use remaining gingersnap crust to cover top of peaches. Dot with butter, sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of sugar. I added chopped pecans to my crust.
Wow! Bake 35 to 45 minute

You won't believe the aroma of this pie as it bakes.

From Pies to Book Talk

We had a dinner picnic at my house for some readers of my new book, Running Out of Night. They arrived with growling stomachs, big smiles, and lots of questions about the story and how to write. They especially enjoyed visiting my studio and seeing where I write and draw. I hope this visit served as an inspiration for them to reach for the stars. 

The next day I did a SKYPE book club interview with fabulous kids and moms in Portland, Oregon. I showed them around the studio and shared art supplies, drawings, ideas, and reference materials. Then, I was in the hot seat and answered well thought out questions. I loved every minute of our time.

When doing a SKYPE interview, I can see them and they can see me and my surroundings. Also watching is the little Anna's Hummingbird up in my window feeder. Can you see her?

Also got the chance to talk to a group of kids about Running Out of Night, and shared with them the enlarged copy of an actual bill of sale for three slaves. They could not imagine that humans could be sold just like an object from a store. 

Teachers, Librarians, Home-School Parents, Scout Leaders, Book Clubs

I am happy to speak with you about a library, school visit, book club visit, and more. Just contact me via e-mail, and we can set up a time to meet with readers. Send me an email at

Why I write and draw!

 Thank you, dear readers, for sending photos.

Fabulous Teak Table Give-Away (finally)

A huge thank you to Teak Close Outs for donating a teak table to one of my lucky readers. Over a hundred of you tossed your names into the invisible hat. Tah dah, here is the lucky winner:

Ann Reynolds 

Please send us your snail mail address, and Teak Close Outs will ship the table (needs assembly) directly to you. You'll love this!

Workman Publishing has offered to send one of you lucky readers a copy of Sara Midda's new book, A Bowl of Olives. Many of you are Sara fans. She wrote and illustrated In and Out of the Garden, which was a huge hit. Then she did Sara Midda's South of France, and many other books. Workman will ship a copy of this beautiful work of art to whomever wins the new drawing. Here are the directions for submitting your name, but please do leave a comment on the blog so I know that you're visiting me! Thanks.

To drop your name into the "hat" for the drawing, simply leave a comment at:
Sharon's Give Away at

Sending love across the miles,