Life as I know It

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

Friday, May 20, 2011

Patchwork Quilt of Life

Early spring leaves of the redbud are red, peach, gold, and purple.

Dear Friends,

Life is a fireworks show of color and and experiences right now, and I am so amazed and grateful for everything. This is a patchwork quilt posting because I've been mostly working on my goes and forgive me if it jumps around too much, but that seems to be my life lately.

My grandson's strawberry patch is bursting with berries (they're happy with their thick mulch of Cambria pine needles). He loves going out with his little colander and picking the fresh from the garden.

My friend Ronelle (My French Kitchen) had a recipe for fried berries with balsamic vinegar in one of her last postings. I tried the recipe, and the berries are great on a salad or on a goat cheese appetizer. The tastes of the sweet berries and the tart, rich balsamic are an amazing contrasting combo.

I've planted native columbine (Aquilegia formosa) throughout the garden for the hummingbirds, and they're shouting out their irresistible red. Yesterday my friend Stephanie Roth Sisson told me that as a child she always squeezed the spurs and sucked the nectar. We tried it, and it was wonderful. In all the years I've researched history of children's interactions with plants, I've never run across anything on kids sipping columbine. Some parts of columbine are toxic, but after sucking the nectar and dipping back into ethnobotany, I've found that this part of the plant is edible. Caution: always teach your kids to never eat anything in the garden without adult supervision...and that adult better know what is safe and edible!

Many years ago, when I owned Heart's Ease Herb Shop and Gardens in Cambria, California, I featured the works of artist Julie Whitmore. This was one of the garden signs she painted for me, and I love the message, "Nothing Without Labour." So true. Each day looms large, and we all face the obstacles and challenges of making a life, whether it is working for ourselves or someone else. We can't gain any ground if we don't stick to our goals and labour, labour, labour.

I am so lucky. My commute is short. Early mornings, after working in the garden, I walk the pathway to Mockingbird Studio and think of all the things that make me so happy and grateful.

I'm grateful for a short commute 

for my best friend who is never daunted by my long lists of ideas (translates to projects for him)

for grandkids who know that I love sunflowers and are happy to bring them to me...

for a granddaughter who loves the kitchen rocker better than any other chair...and who loves reading the family scrapbook put together by my cousin Patti Lovejoy McKee (and who loves socks as much as I do!)

for fruit trees laden with oranges, lemons, and limes (not my apples)

for being greeted by the unexpected beauty of "The Queen" epiphyllum

for the miracle that overnight the roses and the bougainvillea both burst into bloom

for the perfect symmetry of the Chalk Rose, Agavoides, and Imbricata echeverias

for the explosion of perennial flowers in the new backyard garden

for the skippers

for the blanket flowers (red and yellow) that are turning into one of the best feeders for not only butterflies and syrphid flies, but also goldfinches. The goldfinches land on the pincushion heads and pluck seeds from them.

for the simple pleasure of picking blueberries on my commute

for the visits of voracious ladybird beetles. We have some great conversations.

and thankful for the aphid wolves (offspring of the ladybird beetle) who eat hundreds of aphids each day. When I was a kid, I thought these larvae were "Halloween Bugs" because of the orange and black. I used to watch them working their clean-up in my Grandmother Lovejoy's garden. Now they're doing the same job in mine.

I'm grateful for family, friends, nature, beauty, and the simple joy of making things with my own hands in my own way and somehow earning a living doing it. Remember, "Nothing Without Labour."

All joys,


P.S. Please drop by my newest Lowe's posting "Confessions of a Compulsive Weeder,"about how to beat tenacious, unreachable weeds that pop up in cracks and crevices. I think you'll like this simple tip.

P.S.S. Thanks to all of my wonderful followers for tipping the 400 mark. In celebration, I'd like to do a give-away of this introspective and elegant book, The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating (Algonquin Books), which has won many awards, including the John Burroughs and the National Outdoor Book Award.  I am thinking of my readers who are really examining life, meaning, health, and other issues. Members of The Grimy Hands Girls' Club will also receive a special bonus gift. If you're not already a member, be sure to join us. To enter, leave a comment on this blog posting no later than May 27. Winner will be drawn May 28.

P.P.S. For those of you near Oklahoma City on June 1, come join the Oklahoma County Master Gardeners for my talk and potluck luncheon. Check here for details.


Anonymous said...

I have been waiting patiently for your next blog post,, the photos are just so lovely,, the starwberries,, yum.We're a while off from strawberries here in Canada (local) but california's do just fine.I'm one month in my blogging adventure and I'm having so much fun,,Your sunflowers are lovely and thats what my Paint Party Friday apinting was chickadees and sunflower,, thanks again so much for encouraging me,

The Herbalist's Cottage said...

I too enjoy your blog posts.

I laughed out loud to "for my best friend who is never daunted by my long lists of ideas (translates to projects for him)"
Exactly how we work too...

Much love
Leanne (New Zealand)

Marigold Jam said...

What a beautiful garden you have there with so many exotic (to us in UK) plants in it. You are indeed blessed that you have a handyman on tap, a lovely grand-daughter, and work you enjoy.

Larkrise garden girl said...

Hi Sharon, I love your blog it takes me to a wonderful world. I used my strawberries for making strawberry pecan bread. It was delish!If you have extra strawberrys it's great. Cheri

Claus said...

So many wonderful things to be thankful for! You made me think of all the things I am grateful for; the obvious and the not so obvious. Thinking about this literally made me smile, and made me happy! :o) So I am thankful for that.
I want in! It would be wonderful to have such a great book.
have a lovely day!, and may the good things keep coming your way.

FlowerLady Lorraine said...

How wonderful to read another of your lovely, inspiring posts Sharon. My heart is always blessed by my visits here.

My best friend also works on projects around our little compound.

Love and hugs ~ FlowerLady

Wylie said...

Looks like a wonderful book!

Patty said...

Your blog is always a delight Sharon...the quiet details, the bits of whimsy and family, the delights of the garden...always such a pleasure to be sure.

I officially posted as a GHG club member on my blog. What fun!

Robin Larkspur said...

Sharon, always such a lovely post with many wonderful photos to gaze upon. I think the photo of your granddaughter in your rocking chair is precious...she will look back on those times in your kitchen with such love and happiness.

Diane said...

What a wonderful post, it so nice to hear that someone is thankful for so much around them. Your photos are gorgeous. Diane

Mrs. Goodneedle said...

Blessings abound! My dear father in law used to profess that nothing worthwhile was had without work, how true. The photo of your granddaughter in the kitchen rocker is a priceless treasure!

Thea said...

I love how pretty your very busy garden is! There are some words that roll off my tongue and I love to say them aloud (when I'm by myself usually, lol) such as echeverria and bouginvilla. I can say them over and over. t

Erin | Bygone Living said...

Such wonderful, and true things to be thankful for! So happy for you :) ♥

Unknown said...

Your posts always help me enter the day with eyes seeing anew. I love how in these times I can have a kind of relationship/dialogue with some of my favorite people that I only knew through books. Truly amazing.

Vee said...

Your post may have done some flitting from one lovely flower to another, but what a nice journey. I nodded at several of your points...the ideas one that causes your husband more work, the urge to learn about weeds coming up through the cracks, the love of grandchildren...their gifts directly to you and indirectly...always the gorgeous garden and the lovely labor. (I do know it is hard work, but so satisfying, too. Another gift!)

(Aside: Do not come home until you hear that the sun is shining and the temps above 55. This is getting ridiculous! ☺ )

Anonymous said...

This book looks so fun! Love your fun and inspiring.

Deb said...

You can jump around all you like, girl. Your blog is one of my very favorite. So lively, interesting and full of wonderful information. Please throw my name into the hat. Thanks for posting...I always look forward to it. Hugs, Deb=^..^=x4

Spinneretta said...

Loving your bird paintings :)
We have just been harvesting our sweet peas here... DD has been picking them and strawberries daily LOL
So many things to be thankful for and enjoy!


Pam/Digging said...

So much to be grateful for. Blogging friends is another. I sure enjoyed your post and the views of your garden.

Frederique said...

I love your blog! What a great title for a book! You really can hear them, if there is a big enough herd. Gaggle? Pod? Hmm, what's the group term for snails? A grossitude?

Unknown said...

gorgeous post! it makes me happy ~ blueberries, strawberries, skippers. loving spring here too!

Claudia said...

What a sweet post, Sharon. There's nothing like family and a garden to help us realize how much we have to be grateful for.


*Ulrike* said...

I loved seeing all that you have going on in your garden and your short work commute!
Isn't it wonderful to have our favorite handyman close by? Mine is still working on our new chicken pen, we need to make it extra strong as there have been coyotes in the area. I'm glad you pointed out the aphid wolves so I won't squash them!
Hope you have a great weekend,

Debra said...

As children, my sister and I often enjoyed columbine nectar. Thank you for reminding me!

Blondie's Journal said...

I love posts that pop around!! So much information to savor!! I can't wait to try the recipe for fried berries. I am such a fan of strawberries and arugula with balsamic dressing.

Thanks for stopping by today. We leave Asheville tomorrow and I have enjoyed every minute. At the Biltmore Estate bookshop, I found your book Trowel And Error and bought it right up! Later, at another shop, I saw it again. How nice it is to call you a friend!


Kimara said...

I also have one of those "friends" that has yet to desert me despite my list of brilliant ideas! Go figure.

Also, went and read your blog at Lowes. I tried a couple times to leave a comment there, but it keeps coming back with an error, so... I'll just leave the comment here for you.

Would it be over the top to say, I LOVE You for this brilliant idea? It's late here, approaching midnight, but I want to turn on the spot lights and attack the weeds growing amongst the stones on my garden patch. I will wait til morning... but at the crack of dawn I'll be on this! Thanks :)

Mozart's Girl said...

Darling Sharon...just back from a trip to the Lake District...thought of you when I was there and how wonderful it was to be able to 'visit' with you this morning too! I love this post...full of everything that's good. I so envy your studio...wondering now if I can fit a little one like that in anywhere?? We have amazing strawberries this year too, a legacy of our warm dry Spring down South. It was beautiful to see the rain in Cumbria, though. Nothing without labour - love it & you! xoxo to you both, Rachel

One Woman's Journey - a journal being written from Woodhaven - her cottage in the woods. said...

Sharon, every comment - is a echo of my voice.
Your sharing - if I could do it - would be me.
All you do - I love to do.
Are we twins?
From One Lady who lives in the woods and does not think she could ever accomplish what you do:)
Blessings sent your way....

Thickethouse.wordpress said...

I am so comforted by this wonderful patchwork quilt of life post. (Pun intended!) And so happy looking at the patchwork quilt of life here in northeast Ohio where we are finally getting some sun! It's shinning through the witch hazel leaves waving outside my window.

Such an abundance of beauty in the world. It's so good to melt into experiencing it with our grateful hearts.

I wanted to mention that Acacia blossoms (black locust) is often listed as toxic, but all Hungarians eat the blossoms in spring and I've never heard of anyone suffering any ill from this practice.

Thank you for all your wonderful words and pictures!

Unknown said...

Thank you for continuing to inspire my garden & my life. You are a like a flower fairy in my garden... I don't see you there but your presence is felt like a gentle breeze.

Pondside said...

So much for which to be thankful, Sharon.
From here?....I'm grateful for having found your blog, which is such a pleasure to read.

Julie Whitmore Pottery said...

Hey, that garden of yours is a complete chicken dinner winner. I see bushels of 'labour' went into that. Cleaning out my studio I found two of those metal hearts and it brought back memories of that beloved Heart's Ease era.
ps. I can still identify all the different lavenders at fifty paces!

Cristy said...

Just subscribed to your site. Love it. Thanks for offering the book. It sounds lovely.

Rebecca said...

Never knew that - about the nectar in columbine...I enjoyed reading what you're "up to" in an "I'm thankful for..." format.

farmlady said...

And I am thankful for this wonderful, California Springtime post.
Labor is the beginning of everything. Something that a lot of folks don't seem to understand these days.
"Chop wood, carry water." Keep moving and don't complain.
A garden is always worth the effort.
I have joined your Grimy Hands Girl's club. Here's to dirt under the nails.
The Elisebeth Bailey book looks interesting.

Susan said...

I love your patchwork life! It's such an example of noticing all the little things that make us happy. I seem to be doing that a lot lately. XOXO Susan

Bonnie K said...

I love the photos! Your granddaughter's socks are wonderful! Your blueberries look great. I'm hoping mine have berries this year.

pestyside said...

Sit in my back yard and listen to the sounds of wild snail eating - it has become a life-changing and momentous event. Ah but I wish we had carnivorous snails. What we hear might be different from what you hear, it's the sound of a grown man crying as he watches his prized vegetables get chomped. Not quite as eloquent, but still meaningful. Your site is terrific. Thanks for sharing.


kj said...

knock knock ms. lovejoy, it's me, ms. kj, come to share some of the wonderful reasons you are grateful. children and grandchildren, yards and gardens, blueberries, a best friend husband, reasons to paint little birds, flowers abounding, what have i left out?

you are not only a lucky duck, sharon, but you KNOW you are. that makes you a double lucky duck.

love love

Angie said...

I find the greatest joy in your posts (and all of your books, btw). :) In my next life, I want to come back as your sister so I can play in your beautiful house and gardens with you. :D You are such a gift to all of us. Thank you for being you. said...

I`m so glad to have found your blog.I would love to win the book.
I thought of you yesterday while taking bugs off my hollyhocks,you once wrote for a mag & I remember you wrote about putting some sort of oil on the leaves.I believe I have the mag stashed here somewhere.
Anyhow,had to smile about your hubby,I have mine working on a project for me now too,we are blessed to have men who love to figure out plans & do things for us.
Your pictures are so pretty,phyllis

Gardener on Sherlock Street said...

What a lovely post!
Safe travels!

Fun Mama - Deanna said...

Your husband is so cute and sweet! Love that he does the projects that you dream up!

Dawn said...

What a lovely visit. I feel like I've just spent a bit of this morning with you. All the flowers, berries, and bugs. So lovely.

Thinking of you, friend!


Betty said...

It's a joy to wander through your garden with you. Your posts resonate with me in so many ways. Thank you.

Lori from Indiana said...


As always, your blog is full of wisdome and beauty! What fantastic pictures and a wonderful reminder "Nothing Without Labour."

Kay Guest said...

As always, you have the most delightful posts. Thank you for allowing us in on your commute.
Would love to be considered in the running for the book!

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Can you hear me chuckling? I just checked my postings and saw that dear Dawn has stopped by, but not told us how she is doing...and that KJ had me laughing again, and that Kay Guest shared this wonderful thought-poem. Hurrah and true.


Leslie said...

Hello, Sharon!

Thank you so much for not only visiting my blog, but for taking the time to comment and to become a follower. I'm so glad you did, as it led me to your lovely blog... and just in time for a chance at your book :)

I was an avid reader of Country Home once-upon-a-time, and I'll bet I saw (and perhaps envied, just a little) your lovely home and gardens... such a small world, isn't it?

I love your list of things you're thankful for, and I share many of the same joys - nature is a wonder that carries me through many of life's tough times, and I look forward to reading more of your lovely posts!

p.s. WONDERFUL illustration of the woodpecker...

Pat said...

Having taken a little break from blogging and now far behind in seeing what everyone else is up to...Just had to visit you first! Your photos and blessings in your life are so sweet and touch the heart. Thank you for the reminder that we don't need to travel far from home to find beauty.

Cindy (Applestone Cottage) said...

Wonderful post Sharon! Do I ever love your beautiful pics, your gardens are amazing and so is your home!
You really do have an amazing life!!
Hugs friend,

Donna said...

What a beautiful post and beautiful photos. I love your home and your gardens.

Curbstone Valley Farm said...

Oh goodness, I think you lost me at fried berries with balsamic vinegar. That sounds positively intriguing! We're very grateful for the lady beetle larvae too. We've had an explosion of them this year, and they're doing wonders in the garden at keeping the aphids in check. I hadn't heard them referred to as aphid wolves before, but that seems like a perfect description!

Anonymous said...

Turning 30 (on the 28th :) ) and trying to have the faith and self confidence that is needed to make a life changing move... Your blog brings joy to my heart and warmth to my soul.

In todays day and age it is so wonderful to find other people that still find the beauty in every day.

camissonia (Arleen) said...

Your garden is so charming and lovely! I never knew that one could sip columbine nectar - what's good for the hummingbirds must be good for us, too, no? (as long as we keep to the edible parts, that is :) It's one of my favorite California native wildflowers.

Anonymous said...

Dearest susan, How I love your 'patchwork' post! It echos so many of my own pleasures in life. And the blanket flowers for the goldfinches..I will have to plant some..the colors fit perfectly in my "potager". And of course that adorable granddaughter steals my heart with her fun socks..what a blessed, creative and smiling life you have!
PS: thank you for the nod on the strawberries with vinegar...glad you enjoyed it!

Sharon Lovejoy said...

My dear Ronelle,

I am STILL Sharon, but I am used to being called Karen, Susan, Sherry, etc.

Yes, my grand is the best and she steals my heart.

So many strawberries coming in daily that I can't keep up. What a blessing.

Love and thanks for stopping by, now you're in the drawing for the book.


Sharon (NOT SUSAN)

Sylvia said...

Dear Susan ,
I love your blog and your writing. Our lives are full of so many wonderful simple things to be grateful for ...Thank you for visiting my blog and writing such a nice comment !
Be happy !

Sharon Lovejoy said...


Jim Longs Garden said...

Such delicious photos and as always wonderful, thought-provoking words. I hope your visit to Tulsa, June 1 is a delight. I know you will once again inspire a lot of Okies (as you did at the Tulsa Garden Center a few years back). Keep on discussing the world with those ladybugs!

Little Bird said...

"Nothing without Labour". I love this! Thank you for this reminder, Sharon! It comes at a time when the garden is requiring such LABOUR! ;)

From the Kitchen said...

I never come to your posts without time to savor them, thus my lateness in visiting. With a cup of steaming coffee, I've enjoyed my visit to your garden and your life. The photos and prose are wonderful. Winner or not, I'm off to check out the book.


Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

I always enjoy your blog posts so much, Sharon, and all the lovely photographs that accompany them! The photo of your granddaughter reading in your kitchen was especially sweet. Your garden is really abundant! I will definitlet look at your weeding tips on Lowes --I need them!

Happy Memorial Day weekend!

Steph Johnson said...

Love the title of this book! My daughter was my 40th bday gift and we are enjoying your books so very much. Even made sure baga & giggie (grammas) have copies. Thank you so much!

Anonymous said...

Long ago I asked for and recieved a book you wrote
called Sunflower Houses. I can't believe I just discovered your blog. How exciting. I remember reading about Hearts Ease and still have a little paper envelope with Hearts Ease on it, I believe their were herbs or bath salts in it. I have held on to it for a long time because I liked the illustrations on the package. So glad to see you again!
Lynne, Hampton , Ga

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Hi Lynne,

I JUST got on line for today now, at 7:48 P.M. We are having internet problems. Anyhow, thanks for the kind words about my books. I am tickled that you found me.

I would answer you in person, but I don't have an address. Anyhow, you're now entered in the book drawing, which we'll do tomorrow.

All joys,


RSA Now said...

Ooh fried berries sounds fantastic!

Terra said...

This post is a joy to read and I wrote down a note to buy some native columbines for the wild parts of my garden, for the hummingbirds.

Cynthia said...

I feel so blessed sitting and reading this post so early on Sunday morning. It is full of life and speaks of what is important. Thank you for this.

Carol said...

What a sweet and uplifting post Sharon. You do have so much to be thankful for. I am sure all those around you are so happy to have you in their lives too. Good Luck with your book! Now I must get back to my "labour" of love. It is great to have short commutes! Happy June! ;>)

Unknown said...

Dearest Sharon,
Yes! Your life is a wonderful patchwork of blessings inside and out! Love it! As always, thanks for sharing...
sending love from warming Massachusettes!

inadvertent farmer said...

LOL...I love random posts, suites my style perfectly. Thanks for all you do to encourage us to be thanks and to garden with joy! Kim

Lili said...

You are surrounded by so much beauty, which I realize is from all the fruits of your labour! And oh how I adore the sentiment of your sign. Seeing all these images of your garden inspires me to expand my tiny garden here, if only we could expand the growing season! There's nothing sweeter than sharing those moments with your precious Grands, just like your dear Grandmother Lovejoy did with you. And I always learn something new from you on my visits here, this time about the larvae offspring from the ladybird beetle! xoxo ~Lili

Comfrey Cottages said...

I always visiting you and being transported into beautiful pieces of your world:) Your home, gardens, and studio all radiate the joy you feel and give in this world! xxxx I need to link this post to my sons wall, as I have long admired your drying rack, and will ask him to please fashion one similiar to my needs! Looks so handy! big herbal and honey hugs and thanks for sharing with us xxx