Posted by Heidi

Miss Armistead Makes Her Choice is a RONE Award nominee--on sale this weekend for .99!  Coming in December, Timeless Regency Collection: A Midwinter Ball.  Can't wait!

Tis May, Tis May, the Rosy Month of May!  

Posted by Heidi

May, if I had a favorite month, would be it.  Might be it.  I don't know--I'm no good with favorites for most things.  However, it is a month when I refuse to be away from home--I would not want to miss a second of the most generous blush of roses my garden knows all year.

My David Austin Abraham Darby rose bush had, in spite of the drought, the largest cascade of blooms this year--absolutely glorious!

However, the rose I most look forward to in May is my New Dawn.  I'm more than a little obsessed with this perfectly shaped, perfectly scented, perfectly colored pink rose.  (Is it my favorite?  If it bloomed more than six weeks a year, Yes!)  (Probably.)  (I don't know . . .)

There are a few weeks during May that are almost a frenzy of plucking, arranging, displaying and photographing.  (Did I mention the obsessive part of it?)

I must say that, if you are interested in shabby/cottage/chic style d├ęcor, you must have a New Dawn rose bush.  Must.

And here is Abraham Darby, another contender for my favorite.  It is a rose that I insist on having, always.  It is so very romantic.  It's a rambler so it dangles--love it!

Another favorite David Austin is Princess Alexandra of Kent.  It provides a wonderful contrast in bouquets.  Of course it looks fabulous on its own, too, though it's most beautiful glowing in the sun.

Here they all are, plus one or two white Iceberg--such sweet faces!

Spring Has Sprung: the Best Garden Photos of April 2015  

Posted by Heidi


My favorite flower and garden photos from April:  there are already twice as many candidates for May and this is only the 5th.  I might have to break it down into weeks because I really love documenting the growth of my garden.  It is always different from month to month and year to year and I enjoy looking back.  Meanwhile, rumor has it there is a drought in the San Francisco Bay Area. So far my garden has not suffered.  We have always been water conscious and have practiced water preservation for decades.  Besides which, my front and back gardens are much smaller than they appear through the lens of a camera.  However, matters could be quite different a few months from now.  We shall see. 

I call this statue "Lovers at the gate".  They used to be part of a fountain--a friend gifted them to me when she moved away.  I used to have them turned so they could be enjoyed by passers-by but I have decided that I would rather look at them when I am seated nearby.

Here they are again; I can't decided if I like it better with her in profile or him. 

 I have a gorgeous view of the mountain/rock quarry from the bench in my front garden.  I never get tired of this view.

The rose that first greets visitors is Princess Alexandra of Kent by David Austin.  DA heirloom roses take a number of years to mature but when they do, they are stunning--and staggering under hundreds of petals per bloom. This one has a purple tinge to it and smells marvelous.

Next is a china rose whose name I can't remember. (The lone pink rose to the right of the china is a Queen Elizabeth, a must for all fanciers of pink roses.) It is fascinating to me--the petals actually fold together like a geometric box.  I love the obelisk on which it is climbing--there is always room for a climber in your yard with an obelisk.  (This rose used to be on an arch but it got demoted in favor of my Eden climber--which didn't bloom in April so won't be a part of this post.)

My old metal arch blew down in a December storm and could not be resuscitated.  This one consists of gothic arches and has a gate in it.  I admire it excessively.  Now when I sit here I feel like I am in a churchyard in Ireland or England.  (No pics of the arch this post.  Hopefully it will be blooming with something during May.)

Some of the fruit of my rose bushes are the above Abraham Darby, another David Austin, and one I will never be without.  I wouldn't say it is my favorite rose--it is the wrong color for that (too peachy) but it gets very high marks.  Smells fabulous, hardy, resistant, tons of petals, starts out as a light pink tea rose in bud and opens up to this delicious cabbage--and then fades out to pink again.

These perfect pink beauties come from my New Dawn climbing rose in the back garden.  They smell as delicious and delicate as they look.  Just fabulous.

This pink lovely is Queen of Sweden, another heirloom rose by David Austin.  It smells divine and is different in shape than any other rose I have ever seen. My mother's ancestry is Swedish so I had to have a Queen of Sweden in my garden.

I love this photo.  Easter came too early for most of my roses so these are all silk--but I still love it.

I get through the rose-less months with rose-covered fabric (and everything else).

This photo of my back garden was taken in early April before the New Dawn had peaked.  The one rose to the right of the arch and next to the pink geranium is an Abraham Darby.  The hot pink bush on the far left is a bougainvillea, one of which we had at the house where I grew up.  It was planted shortly after my birth and by the time I was 17, it had grown so large that my boyfriend and I climbed it to the roof and carved our initials in one of its branches.  (I married him four years later.)

If you look closely, you will see that there is a chandelier hanging in the arch.  It doesn't work but it sure is pretty.

The pink rose in the green pot next to the wicker chair (currently serving as a nightly buffet for what ever animal is dining on it) is called The Mary Rose, another David Austin. 

This is a very pretty rose. I don't like how it smells (I can't even describe it-auto oil maybe?) but I have a Mary so I had to have this rose.  If I planted it in the ground, it would be far happier and the roses bigger, I am sure.  (But it would smell the same.)

But really, with petals like this, who cares how it smells?

My New Dawn climbing rose is a "great obsession" amongst a "great obsession".  I just can't stop looking at it, taking photos of it, and arranging its blooms in vases, pitchers and whatever else for about four weeks during spring.  I suppose it is a good thing that it is pretty much done before the end of May or I would never get anything done.

A sweet-smelling garden is the perfect place for reading, dreaming, meditating, praying and just allowing yourself to "be". 


In Which My Big Guy Makes His Dream Come True  

Posted by Heidi

My Big Guy wrote a book.  I helped with editing (most authors need help with that) but the ideas, vocabulary and most of the sentence structures are all his.  It was a lot of work.  Not as much work as writing a 70,000 word novel, of course.  However, I was a little bit amazed at how similar his journey was to mine, from the stand point of how an idea starts out as a story and becomes something you can hold in your hand. 

His copy came in the mail yesterday.  I was gone when it happened and came home to find a cardboard box that looked like it was opened by a set of Big Guy teeth.  And there's the irony; he doesn't have the dexterity to open a sealed box or cut it open with scissors--but he can get one open with his teeth.  That's just something I could never hope to accomplish.   

I can hope to love as unconditionally as he does.

With Vanilla, the cutest ever cockapoo.  She sleeps next to his bed each night and wakes him up every morning with a lick on his hand.

He is sometimes hopelessly clueless but I like to think of it as naively optimistic.

He appreciates the little things.  And he has a keen sense of humor.

His book is short--it has lots of pictures and its few words are displayed in large print--and it is a far cry from "greatness"  It will never win an award or even be read by many.  However, if you want to be inspired by someone who accomplished something in spite of how greatly the odds were stacked against him (school was such a disaster for him that he still insists that he can't read, even though he most certainly CAN) this one makes a good bedtime read for the kiddos. 

Learn more about the Big Guy in the sidebar under The Big Guy, A Continuing Saga, as well as, Other Big Guy Posts, especially this one HERE. 

Belfast Ireland The Titanic Museum and Queen's College  

Posted by Heidi

Lunch in Ireland was very often ice cream or gelato.  I am not certain that it really is better in Ireland than in the U.S., but it tasted better at the time.  There was always a grand selection.  This particular eatery was an American style burger joint and I confess to feeling quite ready for that on our second to last day away from home.

This plaque was found outside of Belfast City Hall.  I love all of the symbolism, particularly the child with one arm wrapped around his mother's neck and the other wrapped around a ship.  Shipping, of course, is very important to the economy of Belfast.

 Here is the child, again, with the boat.  So cute.  I am guessing that whatever the other child held is long gone.

A beautiful building in Belfast that houses a theater.  I would go see just about anything in that.

Queen's College in Belfast.  I would give my eye teeth for that truck to have been gone when we were there. 

It has been eight months since I was here.  I probably forgot the significance of this statue and plaque at least two months ago.  I should have blogged all of these pics much sooner:  lesson learned.

On the grounds of Queen's College. 
This is not my photo.  I can't say why I didn't take a photo of the Titanic Museum in Belfast but this will do.  The building is designed to look like a ship.  The inside is enormous and impressive.  Take note of the wedge of windows.

This is the view out those windows.  Even Ireland's shipping ports are beautiful.

The Titanic Museum was full of many kinds of interactive activities, including a "dark ride" of the kind you would experience in Disneyland.  The above photo shows an example of maid's quarters.

This reproduction of a large state room on the Titanic was beautiful.  I have never been on a cruise but if I could have a room like this, I might even move in.

This representation of the Titanic as it was found decades after it sunk is in under the floor.

We headed back to the Republic of Ireland and Dublin after only one night in Northern Ireland.  Since NI uses pounds, not euros, I suppose it was a good idea.  (The exchange rate for pounds is quite a bit higher than euros.)  After checking in we headed out on our own to find dinner.  I couldn't resist snapping a photo of this--I had a good friend in high school whom we fondly referred to as Mary Mac.  After all, it was her name (just not all of it).

I guess I figured I didn't have enough photos of doors.  This neighborhood was exquisite.  It made me think of the movie, Mary Poppins.  Lots of leafy, green trees and handsome homes.

I would love love love to come home to this pink house every day.

The white trim is like icing on a cake--yum!

I would love this little balcony, too--shabby and chippy is a style that I love, as well.

A photo shop water color version of this set of doors---so gracious--just like Ireland.  Go to and scroll down for my other Ireland posts.