Creativity DIY Flowers Gardens Home Decor Home Projects Inspiration Plants


Here’s your Daily Dose of Spring! Enjoy these cheerful, happy arrangements!

Bebe writes, “I just picked these daffodils from my yard. Flowers give us hope! “
Preserving the Season — Springtime in a jelly jar.
Creativity DIY Flowers Gardens Home Decor Home Projects Inspiration Plants


Here are more “touches” of Spring, courtesy of another Dale S., another divine gardener and arranger of fleurs! Thank you so much for sending these beauties, Dale!

“Arrangement for AGC meeting, roses, tulips, and daffodils.”
“All you need is love and daffodils!”
“Daffodil ‘Candy Princess'”
“Jackson with ‘Ceylon’.”
“Historic ‘Firebrand'”
” ‘Dreamlight’ “

Creativity DIY Flowers Gardens Home Decor Home Projects Inspiration Plants Uncategorized

Abundant Spring 3

Nothing brightens a rainy day like flowers and flower arrangements! Small or large, pots of posies, and blossoms in beds make you smile, and soothe the soul. Here are a few more from my “floral friends.”

Pam S., another gardener extraordinaire, has sent two pictures of her narcissus borders, one is a close up, and the other, the actual long shot. Aren’t they a breath of Spring!
Linda MG writes, “
I keep these three small vases on the windowsill in my kitchen all year, and fill them with seasonal flowers/greens. Makes me happy to look at them when I’m doing my kitchen duties!”
Pam S. has another wonderful floral image. As she says, “This  brave daffodil could serve as a symbol for us.  We too will survive this Coronavirus !”
Creativity DIY Flowers Gardens Inspiration Plants


So, I’m keeping with the theme of “Abundant Spring,” with these exquisite flower arrangements. I have two more today, from a couple of my Garden Club friends. Each of them are color-filled and glorious! Please feel free to send me pictures of your to help us celebrate the beauty of the season. They can be large or small, fancy or simple–they are all lovely!


As Lauren T., creator of this gorgeous arrangement, says, “It’s like a yeast culture….you add to it every day.”
And, Anne C., another arranger extraordinaire, explains, “I love it when the flame azalea starts to bloom and the daffodils are still blooming…and the cameo japonica too.  It is all about the colors.”


History Inspiration Uncategorized

Elizabeth Van Lew

By Elizabeth Bickford

By Elizabeth Bt“Crazy Bette,” that is one of the names by which Elizabeth Van Lew was known. A very effective Union Spy in the Capitol of the Confederacy, Miss Van Lew cut a wide swath through Confederate plans and Richmond, Virginia’s social circles.  Born in Richmond on October 15, 1818, she was the only daughter of John Van Lew, a prominent and prosperous hardware merchant who had relocated from Long Island. Elizabeth’s mother, Eliza Baker, from Philadelphia, was the daughter of Hilary Baker, abolitionist and an early Mayor of that “City of Brotherly Love.”

From an early age Elizabeth and her brother, John Newton, were exposed to abolitionist thoughts and ideals. When she was quite young her parents sent her to be educated at a Quaker School in Philadelphia. This time spent with her relatives, their friends and other students at the school, galvanized Elizabeth into a full-fledged abolitionist. When she returned to Richmond after her father’s death in 1843, her heart burned with a passion to see slavery overturned. The first place to begin was at home, because, despite his wife’s abolitionist leanings, John Van Lew owned slaves. 

Upon his passing, Elizabeth convinced her brother, John Newton, to free their father’s slaves. Staying true to her mission, Elizabeth then took her entire inheritance and bought the relatives of their former slaves so that she could free them, as well.

The American Civil War provided an ideal opportunity for Miss Van Lew to pursue her cause in earnest.  At first she ministered to Union prisoners who came to Libby, Belle Isle or Pemberton Prisons. Her contact with fellow abolitionists strengthened her zeal. She was perfectly situated, in society and, within the City of Richmond, to be able to gather secret information about the Confederacy and send it on to Union Generals. And, in addition to gathering secrets, she also smuggled people across enemy lines. Further, she set up an underground network of spies and established funding that was used to bribe officials for information.

Her incredible espionage abilities, such as creating networks, identities, raising monies,  disguising herself, and committing acts of derring-do, elevated Elizabeth to the head of the Union Spy Network in Richmond. She held that position until the end of the Civil War.

After the war was over, President Ulysses S. Grant, a man with whom she had much contact during the previous five years, granted her a Postmaster’s position in Richmond.  Feisty to the end, it is reported that one Sunday morning in church, the minister was extolling the virtues of the Confederate General, Robert E. Lee, and Miss Van Lew arose from her seat, and exclaimed, “I came to worship Jesus Christ, not Robert E. Lee,” as she strode out of the chapel.

And, while she was beloved by her Unionist colleagues, she was reviled by her Confederate neighbors.  She had no family, and after her death, her house was burned to the ground by residents of Richmond.

To this day, Elizabeth Van Lew’s skills and bravery are lionized. She is a member of the United States Military Intelligence Hall of Fame.

Sources: Van Lew


 Image:           “Van Lew, Elizabeth ,” House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at   Dickinson College,

Culture History Inspiration Museums Realizing Your Dream Stories Uncategorized Vintage

Making a Museum: Establishing A Collection-This one is focused on Everyday Life


What does it take to start a museum? What is the impetus? What do you want to say or explore? Is there a topic upon which you want to expound, examining its’ multitudinous dimensions? Are there stories that highlight a specific theme that you want to tell? Do you want to preserve specific memories?  These are the driving forces behind establishing a collection/museum.

In the first of this several-part-series that focuses on creating displays that cause conversation, I’m going to cite the Museum of Everyday Life in Glover, Vermont.  Charmingly situated on the edge of the road, on the shores of a small pond (where, one of my compatriots, told me, a large set of plastic shark’s teeth used to jut out of the water, evoking JAWS!), this old barn beckons you to ENTER!

According to the Museum’s website, the Museum

“…is an ongoing  revolutionary museum experiment based in Glover, Vermont. Its mission is a heroic, slow-motion cataloguing of the quotidian–a detailed, theatrical expression of gratitude and love for the minuscule and unglamorous experience of daily life in all its forms. We celebrate mundanity, and the mysterious delight embedded in the banal but beloved objects we touch everyday.”

And, true to their mission, the Philosophers who staff, curate and direct this most un-stuffy and unusual exhibition have collected quotidiana that defies definition.  In fact, as their First Manifesto states:

“The Museum of Everyday Life is proud to launch its mission of glorious obscurity.”


While, mostly, the objects on display underscore our desire to grace the very ordinary with a little bit of life, the staff is also interested in discussing why we need these items.  For instance, toothbrushes are one category of household necessities is well-represented.  The Philosophers ascribe the need for the humble toothbrush to our interest in foods, particularly sugary ones, vis-a-vis our equally strong interest in preventing tooth decay.  One of the most eye-catching dental devices on display is a “His and Her Toothbrush,” an alligator  who comes apart. The chopper cleaner that was crafted by Katherine Nook is brightly colored and sure does bring a smile.  It makes you wonder why she didn’t make more of them!




Pencil Sharpeners



This is fabulous pencil art!

A history and homage to The Match is another amazing exhibition. A matchstick rollercoaster,  working instruments made of matches, the story of Prometheus and a giant match are some of the objects that kindle the imagination with their luminescent wit!




This stunning beauty is made of all things metal — and she sure does shine!

Significant collections of safety pins, keys and locks explore humanity’s needs to hold things together and keep them locked up.  Clare Dolan, Chief Operating Philosopher, together with her Co-Philosophers, have amassed amazing arrays of these pins, locks and keys and explore their uses with depth and wit. 

When it comes down to it, the Museum of Everyday Life provokes discussion about how we live by taking a gander at some of the material culture that comprise our day to day existence. I like what Clare Dolan said in a Vermont Public Radio interview, and I’m paraphrasing here, that she hopes this will inspire others to start their own museums featuring their own stories!

For an online tour of the Museum, and, lot of interesting information about its’ history, programs and current exhibitions check out their website

They also have a cool Facebook page.  And, speaking of similar concepts, check out the Museum of Everyday Life in Iceland: Hversdagssafn – museum of everyday life.



Cats Inspiration Pets Uncategorized



Small, but MIGHTY

Tough Mama – Seven Pounds of unadulterated, furry GRIT accurately describe Kitty Girl.  At approximately 77 in human years, she retains her youthful, innocent looks, her insouciance, and screaming impatience.  Her deceptively sweet face (which covers up a general ‘badass-ness’) and coy affect have served her well over the years.

I have asked her again and again how it came about that she was left to wander the alleys and byways of our neighborhood. I get a blank stare, followed by a lick of the paw, as a reply.  She CAME to US, though!  We kept hearing the screeching yells of a tiny cat who kept coming around and around.

She did tell me that she wanted to be picked up, fed and adopted.

“Don’t we all,” I said.

We fed her for months. Eventually she let us get close enough to nab and hustle her off to the vet. There was much family discussion about her status. Was she “with kittens” or had she just gained weight?  SHE wasn’t talking. Our veterinarian resolved the conflict, telling us that Kitty Girl had been fixed and had been well-treated by somebody.

“Great! We have another pet,” we said to ourselves, not anticipating Kitty Girl’s complete antipathy for any other animal.  Her motto was and is, “No Animals Other Than Me – With Me, It’s My Way or NUTHIN'” She was quite effective in her demonstration of her ethos in her insane attacks on our other pets.

So, with our usual inventiveness and aplomb, we foisted her off on my Mother, who, God Bless Her, reluctantly agreed to take her in. Thus, began a mutually unhappy relationship that lasted for about 12 years. There was much consternation over Kitty Girl’s leaping onto tables, weaving through lamps, statues, collectors items, detritus, as well as attacking the occasional visiting dog (especially her nemesis, Buckley). In fairness, Kitty Girl tried to mitigate Mom’s dislike by bringing her dead mice and chipmunks, but that didn’t cut any ice.


After many long years of co-existing with my mother in their perfunctory relationship, we brought her back.  Our other pets had passed away and we felt honor-bound to try and set things right.  Kitty Girl agrees that we have finally stepped up and given her due.

What amazes me is her tenacity and outstanding survival skill.  I mean, she has had to be TOUGH to survive living by her wits and then living with my Mother. Talk about having EGO STRENGTH and a WILL to OVERCOME — SHE’S GOT IT!!

Even at 77 she still likes to play and rough house. I hear her feral hunting whines and cries as she pounces on toys and tries to tear them apart. On one of her first nights in our old house she brought me a love token of a half-dead mouse at about 3 a.m. It was pretty terrifying to be awakened by the wild screams of both animals and a little mouse dropped right beside my head. But, the girl’s gotta do what the girl’s gotta do, right? I only hope that I can make that same claim when I reach her age (not hunting for mice). It’s inspiring to see someone who still holds onto that fierce spirit and keeps on truckin’!


I know that she is an ANIMAL, but, I have learned a lot from this little Tough Mama. Kitty Girl looks at me and says, “Me-Rew! You’re damn straight I’m tough!”

Here’s to Kitty Girl and Staying in Touch With YOUR BAD SELF in 2018!