Life as I know It

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

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Gatherings and Give-Aways

Despite the cold, cold nights, the trees keep producing.

I never take it for granted when I pick a fruit in my own garden.

Hello dear friends,

Thank you for your e-mails, cards, letters, and the photos of My First Bird Book and Bird Feeder, which you've been snapping and sending to me from bookstores all over America!

January has been a time of many changes and much reflection, a busy time for work, garden, and gatherings, so this will be a short posting, and it sort of jumps around–a bad habit I have and one which my grandmother Nonie Clarke called "jumping around like a fart in a skillet."

The old farm table is set for our New Year's eve supper. Rosemary, the herb of remembrance (and believe me, all at the party were doing lots of remembering of friends and loved ones) is garlanded down the table. We hadn't planned a gathering, but our friend Bruce had a mother in a local care facility, another friend had a husband in the hospital, another just wanted to be with us, so we all came together for an evening of friendship.

I always drape the dining room chandelier in olive branches to bring peace to the new year.

Susie Bassetti (my cooking class co-teacher), John Gonyer, and my Jeff.

Susie Bassetti brought their first pressing of virgin Taggiasca olive oil (an absolutely amazing taste), and a bottle of Bassetti wine. Ginny helps prepare the salad.

We all cooked and contributed and later we had a huge fire in the fireplace. Our friend Ginny passed on the tradition of writing what you want in the new year on one side of a piece of paper. On the other side, we had to write what we wanted to erase from the past year. We all did that, wished each other well, and tossed our papers into the fire.

Nights grew freezing cold. Around midnight, Jeff and I would drape citrus trees, succulents, and lemon verbena in sheets and my nightgowns.

Don't the nightgowns look like they're hugging as they do their job of protecting the succulents?

And everything survived the 32 degree weather (colder than in Maine).

January has mostly been about work, getting over colds, and resuming a normal life after the hectic holidays. Since I work alone all the time, it is a special joy to welcome my Kiddie Writers Group to my home for the first meeting of 2013.

Only my girlfriend Sherry Shahan (Ice Island just released in paperback) would bring me a newly sprouted avocado as a hostess gift. I love it.

Elizabeth Spurr (my Lizzie) has a new book out called In the Garden (pre-school board book), and another just being released, At the Beach, also a pre-school and both published by Peachtree.

Artist/illustrator Helen K. Davie, author Cindy Rankin, author Elizabeth Van Steenwyck, who is the author of more than 65 books for children, one movie, and a zillion magazine articles.

Author/illustrator Stephanie Roth Sisson shares a storyboard for her new illustrated children's book, which will be published by Roaring Brook. Steph has a long line of books to her credit, but this will be both written AND illustrated by her.

The group does very clear, instructive critiques. Always done with love and the interest of YOU doing your best work possible. They spent 45 minutes critiquing a synopsis I have been slaving over for two weeks. A synopsis–what could be so hard about that??? Everything. You try to encapsulate 250 pages in just two pages. And, it has to be exciting, have a narrative arc, AND make an editor WANT your work. Yikes. (Cynthia Bates, who won "Most Promising Manuscript at the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, is a fantastic writer, who has had things published, but is awaiting word on her novel). Good luck Cynthia (she is behind the book lampshade)

Enough already. I have gone on too long and must get ready for a birthday party for an 80 year old friend. 

Please do leave a comment, and you will be eligible for the drawing of this gorgeous Timber Press book, Garden to Vase by Linda Beutler, which will lead you to creating fabulous and unusual bouquets from your garden.

And, if you are a member of the Grimy Hands Girls' Club and you are drawn for the book, you'll also receive a bonus of these fantastic, hand-saving, Royal Horticultural Society gardening gloves, which were donated to the drawing by Gardener's Supply of Burlington, Vermont, one of my favorite companies (employee owned and operated). I have a pair, and they've saved my hands from bramble and rose scratches, from cold and water, from everything. They're wonderful.

Thank you for stopping by. Please leave a comment so that you're eligible for the drawing, which will be held one week from today.

Simple joys,


Thank you to Country Gardens (Early Spring 2013) for featuring My First Bird Book and Bird Feeder in your pages. I love all the birdie products and stories. You're the best.


Julie Marie said...

Hello dear Sharon... my, you have been a busy lady!... love seeing your New Years with family and friends... and I love your tradition of writing down your hopes and dreams on a paper and what you want to erase from the past year then tossing it into the fire... I hope all your wishes for the new year come true!... I love that you are harvesting fruit still!... we are pretty much snowed in with temps close to zero... brr!... love the pretty book you are giving away... and I also love Gardeners Supply, I have been ordering from them for years!... can't wait to get a copy of the new Country Gardens magazine with your feature in it!... and I talked with Jeff the other day and my Bird book with feeder is on it's way to me!... much love to you... xoxo Julie Marie

peg said...

Oh, so loved your post, Sharon! I remember one January years ago that our back yard looked like a ghost convention....every bush and tree sported whatever extra bed sheet we could find!!! Looking forward to more highlights as you prep for spring and planting! xo peg

Brenda@CoffeeTeaBooks said...

I LOVE the header with the bottles.

How fun it would be to sit and chat with such talented people. My idea of the perfect day!

Glad it is warming up there. We're plunging temps again due to an Arctic front... but it is expected here in January.

Lori ann said...

dear sharon,
i quite like it when you jump around! with the fullness of your life i can't imagine it any other way, and i always want to say thank you for all you share.
i love the olive branches, i'm going to do that next year, and your lovely table, so welcoming.
i love hearing about your childrens writing group, that has always been a dream (fantasy) of mine...i LOVE your books you know, and your new bird book is perfect and charming, i've heard the curious cup has been selling it very well!
please don't put my name in the giveaway, i won your last!
love, lori

p.s. can you believe the weather we've had?! glad to hear your garden survived!

La Table De Nana said...

I never ever take what I grow in the garden for granted either:-)
Nothing like citrus etc..
But even herbs thrill me:-)
What a nice gathering you had.
I love the olive branches..I have a dear indoor baby olive tree that is doing so well..a gift from my friend who is also an artist writer..she loves your books:-)
You have more branches on your chandelier than I have on my tree:-)
So much snow in QC:-)
Love it..except the constant shoveling and snow blowing..

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

It's nice to catch up with you! The books is sweet of you! Hugs, Diane

Linda Hoye said...

It's always a joy to read your posts, Sharon. Thanks for this glimpse into what you've been up to AND for introducing us to your writing friends. I think there are some new books I'll be purchasing for the grands soon!

As the Crowe Flies and Reads said...

I love your news-y and photograph-laden posts. And those citrus fruits look amazing!

I admire your new year's traditions of the rosemary and olive branches.

Fleurie Flower Studio said...

My poor little succulent cuttings I got this fall are ccccold! Our patio plant shelves are engulfed in sheets to ward off the 28 degree nights we have had regularly. I enoy your writing and heartfelt spirit. I love the book in your giveaway, a flower friend gifted it to me, and I will pass this one on to another flower friend if I am chosen. Thank you.

Larkrise garden girl said...

Hi Sharon, What a wonderful group of ladies you have in your life.Your life sounds so rich with friends and family and nature of course.We also got a cold snap and I got lucky my plants survived. Keep on writing you have such a gift.Hugs Cheri

Pat said...

Wishing we grew olive trees in northern Wisconsin - what a lovely tradition of placing them on the chandelier. But our days are now at zero & below..../sigh...a gathering of close friends who share identical passions is always filled with wonderful exchanges of ideas & thoughts for growth.

Michelle said...

How wonderful that you, and your fellow authors, can come together in such a positive way.

Thea said...

great post, Sharon! I am so happy your newest bird book is getting plenty of attention! I love all your pictures. Maybe for Chinese New Year I will do the two sided wish burning - my kind of idea! Have a wonderful rest of January. It's just starting to get real cold in DC, just in time for the inauguration - there's so many excited people in town for all the events. Happy New Year, my dear garden friend. xo t

Louise said...

I just discovered your blog via one of the quilt blogs I follow. My sister first brought me to Heart's Ease in Cambria a number of years ago. I revisited many times in both your location there spending many happy moments in both the nursery out of doors and smelling many of the lovely fragrances in the shop. I have just sent your blog information to my sister, Judy.

Blondie's Journal said...

I'm happy to hear the year has started off well for you. It's always nice to usher it in with loved ones. I liked seeing your touches of rosemary and the olive branch and the tradition of writing your wishes and regrets...just a lovely way to spend this special evening.

Your writing group sounds very interesting. I am so shy and my own worst critic, not good in groups at all, but I know it is well worth it for what you ladies can give to one another. And they look like a great bunch!

I'm happy you saved your fruit trees! Fresh picked fruit...fantastic!

So nice catching up with you, my friend! We are using all of our energy here in the upper Midwest just trying to stay warm! ;-D


FlowerLady Lorraine said...

Your life is full, joyous and inspiring. May 2013 be filled with many good things.

I loved the photo of your two nightgowns protecting the succulents.

Hugs ~ FlowerLady

Gardener on Sherlock Street said...

The tradition of burning away what you want to leave in the old year is great! Perfect for a gathering of friends. Looks like you're busy as always enjoying company. Never realized authors would gather as you do to critique and guide each other. Wonderful. I know I enjoy collaborating with co workers. Authors need 'co workers' too.
Please enter me in your drawing. Have a great week.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Sharon for another delightful post. You nightgowns on you patio plants brought a HUGE smile. What a great idea! You are so ver clever!!!! I too am pleased to know your beautiful succulents survived. I am pretty sure many such plants were nipped by a much colder January across the West. You bottles are stunning! It would be so much fun if you made a video of your writing group. They all look like special friends. I have loved my Bird Book and I enjoyed following your book tour. I wrote ahead to family and friends in Raleigh and Mesa to remind them you would be in town. I loved the videos you shared as well. My, I am sure I have missed sharing my love of something you have done recently. You do so many! Wishing you the best year yet! ~Jane in Nevada

torchy said...

Good friends, good food, good conversation. What better way to welcome a year?

Thank you for sharing your love of plants and birds. My grandchildren were thrilled with their Christmas gifts: My First Bird Book and Bird Feeder.

eidolons said...

I've been looking for a decent pair of gloves! I'll have to investigate their sizes - I tend to have huge hands compared to most women.

Donna OShaughnessy said...

Each time I read a post of yours I am reminded of the importance of taking time to SPEND time with friends . You make me want to host gatherings more and so this year I will. Thanks as always for sharing a bit of your life with us.

Buttercup said...

Thank you for letting me be part of your writers' group and new year's get-together. Wishing you a happy and healthy year.

Leanne Rogers said...

My grand daughters are Almost Seven and Almost Four (their preferred nomenclature). From birth, however, they have been called Alivia and Hayley Anne. They have always followed me to my garden. They and their mother (my daughter) are living with me now, so my garden is theirs also! I discovered your books at the library, and then purchased a few. Even though it is winter, we have started work on our flower circle, and we have an onion growing in our window! We joined the Grimy Girls Club, though I don't really know yet what that entails.:) Looking forward to sharing your delight in all things (including people) created.
Leanne Rogers-from the Seattle area

Lorrie said...

A lovely post, full of interesting bits and pieces that make up your days. Such a writer's group would be a boon to any writer, aspiring or published.
Love the elegant drapings over your plants - anything to keep them from dying from the cold. We have a lemon tree in a sheltered spot, with an old-fashioned string of Christmas lights (the big ones) wound through it, and a covering of remay. The lights are attached to a thermostat so they come on automatically just above freezing. Our fruit tree supplier told us this is what he does and he has some beautiful, fruitful lemon trees, even in our northerly clime. On cold nights I look out the kitchen window and see the coloured lights glowing behind the covering.

Pondside said...

I love how you make time with friends a priority - and I love to see your table!
I'm checking out your schedule to see if your Seattle visit coincides with my work schedule - it would be a thrill to be in there.

Primitive Stars said...

Morning Sharon, love that farm table of yours, looks wonderful all set up....How interesting would all those people be together.....Please enter me in your book giveaway,Thank you, Francine.

kj said...

My comment is kisskisshello happy new year.

I 'see' your talented wonderful writer friends arriving at your house and I want to be here. I know you would spare me from crashing at the last moment by extending me an unearned invitation. In appreciation I would bring chocolate chip cookies, angel food cake with pink glaze, and my tarot cards :-)

Yay for your book and for happy birds and humans, Sharon

Love love

Darla said...


It's always nice to catch up. Thanks for the opportunity to win the lovely book. How can I join the Grimy Hands Girls' Club? I didn't join initially because I don't have my own blog. Is having a blog still a requirement? Wishing you a new year filled with new opportunities!


Cindy said...

A blog on how story boards are created would be wonderful. Aren't friends wonderful!

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Oh gosh, I awoke to all these wonderful comments. Where to start? I LOVE the idea of the colored Christmas lights on the citrus trees (Lorrie). My friend Naomi has the little clear ones all over hers, but honestly, they don't feel warm to me, but maybe the big ones get warm.

I must answer some of you personally, but hey KJ, you are ALWAYS welcome, but you have to give meaningful critiques and bring cookies. I did have lemon tarts, flourless chocolate torte, Cindy brought champagne, and I had coffee and tea here.

Some of my pals stayed through the meeting until after six. It was wonderful.

Cindy, good idea. I have to work on one for this.

Love to you all,


P.S. Darla, just write to and he'll link you into the club. NOBODY sees your name or address except us. Sending you happy new year wishes too.

Jimmie said...

Hi Sharon,

I love how you say "My Jeff". I say the same thing about "My Jimmie". Hugging nightgowns - too cute.

Diane in North Carolina

Happy@Home said...

I enjoyed this post from start to finish. I love how you came together with your friends on New Year's Eve and shared food preparation and that wonderful tradition together. What a neat idea to drape your chandelier in olive branches too.
Wishing you much happiness in the new year.

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Hi Leanne Rogers and family,

You're the newest members of The Grimy Hands Girls' Club! Welcome.

Maybe we will get a chance to meet when I am speaking in Seattle? That would be great.

All joys,


Sharon Lovejoy said...

Hi Darla,

Oops, Jeff can't send you an e-mail because he doesn't have your address.

To join just click on the information on the blog.



Lemon Verbena Lady said...

Hi dear Sharon, glad to see the nightgown protecting your lemon verbena! I have a small bucket on the German chamomile that sprouted from its roots late in the season. Going to be down in the single digits for several nights! Stay warm, dear. xxoo LVL and The Herbal Husband

Bonnie K said...

You are always so busy. I am glad you spend such quality time with your friends.

Lili said...

Your posts always put me in such a happy mood Sharon! Love the plant hugging nightgowns and that your Grandma had an expression with the word 'fart' in it! Oh I just LOVE it! xoxo

Pondside said...

I'm sooooo disappointed! Our plans to visit the NW Garden Show in Seattle are for the 22nd to the 24th and really can't be altered. I'd so hoped to watch you in action - another time, I guess.

Unknown said...

It is encouraging to know that I'm not the only one who is all over the place. Thank you for letting that hang out a bit. Burning the strips of paper is such a lovely idea. I will have to do that next year.

Sharon Lovejoy said...


SO DISAPPOINTED TOO, not for you seeing me, but for me seeing YOU (finally).



P.S. Northwest Flower & Garden Show arranges the schedule. Lots of folks have written to say that they work all week and can only attend the weekend presentations!

Susan said...

I was in California just last week and it was cold! I love the gifts of friendship and the rosemary brought back memories of making Rosemary and Mint soap to give as gifts at Kelly's wedding...a lovely remembrance, XOXO


Your life looks so fun, Sharon. You've got so many talented, delightful people in your life.

I hope you don't have any more freezing weather.

And please exempt me from the drawing. I have this book and don't need two. Besides, I won a similar drawing in the past and am oh so grateful. Take care sweetie.

Anonymous said...

I just found your blog and website~ So exciting. I've long loved the little shoppe "Heart's Ease" in Cambria as well as the two books I have of yours. Nice to find you~!

Little Bird said...

I wish you a splendid year, Sharon! Olive branches & Rosemary - perfect! We have just celebrated our mother's 80th birthday this past weekend, with a gathering of the family at a favorite Inn & Lavender Farm nearby! It was a delight and an honor to celebrate our mom! 80 years is a lonnnng time! I hope your friend's celebration was wonderful too.

Laura said...

What a warm and inviting home you have, no matter the temperature outside. I enjoy your blog!

Beth Carter said...

I am using your books in my horticultural therapy program at an adult day services program in North Carolina. We all enjoy the lovely illustrations and are making plans to do some of the gardening projects in the spring and summer. Thanks for the inspiration!

Mary A said...

Hi Sharon,
The book looks wonderful! Thank you for a chance. Women have a long history of having get togethers to support each other... Quilting bees are still going strong. Sounds like your children's writers group is great. Mary A

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Dear Beth Carter,

I am so happy to learn of how you are using my books for your adult day services program.

I wish you continued good luck. Please send me your mailing (snail mail) address, I will not share it with anyone, but I would like to send something along to you all.


Rebecca said...

What an interesting world and circle of fiends you have! My-How I would love to gather fruit from just outside my door...

Anonymous said...

Oh what a lovely way to start the new year. I would love to win a copy of the book - Garden to Vase. 'Twould be perfect for me as I am an unemployed horticulturist, with the last ft job- was as a floral designer. ==¦==. or

Mary Daley said...

Dear Sharon,
I enjoyed your post. Sounds like you had a lovely, intimate New Year's Eve.

I plan to purchase your bird book for my granddaughter for Easter. I'm sure she will love it.

Thanks for your blog - it always motivates me to work in my garden or now, plan for the spring.


Elizabethd said...

Such an interesting book. Now is our season of getting the garden ready...if only it would stop raining1

Dee Dee Osborne said...

Sharon, Love your happy outlook on life. Always uplifting to read your posts and inspiring to look at your pictures of your garden and home! Went to Cambria in December and checked out your old Heartsease shop and visited the garden. Loved it and Cambria. Hope Luke is continuing to thrive and turning into a chubby healthy baby. We are expecting a new grandson at the end of February.

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Hi Dee Dee,

Congratulations! Never enough grandchildren as far as I am concerned. They touch our hearts in ways I could never imagine.



P.S. Did a television show with Central Texas Gardener, which I know you love. Should air this month or February.

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

You really do stay busy and surround yourself with so many interesting people! I love the books you've mentioned and featured! Enjoy your week, my friend!

Hearts Turned said...

Good morning, Sharon...just found your blog this morning--ironically, just the day after I visited Cambria for the first time in 18 years--my first have-to stop being Heart's Ease, which I remembered so fondly from my earlier trip. I remember being so inspired by the garden surrounding the shop--especially the glorious sunflower house.

I've collected all of your lovely books & enjoyed your pieces in magazines--thank-you for all the inspiration through the years.

I'm sure I'm too late to join in the giveaway, but I'm just happy to have found you & look forward to more inspiration in the future.

Wishing you a happy 2013!

Your newest follower,