Vintage Christmas Card Ornaments


Crafting again.

Back in the day, I was Miss Crafty, making everything from decoupaged goose eggs (how we wound up with the geese) to vintage Santas and herbal wreaths, and have renewed my hands-on creativity with Christmas card/tree ornaments. I first gained inspiration for this project from a talented lady on YouTube, Lisa, with Our Shabby Cottage. Her Shabby Chic style appeals to me, and I’m naturally shabby. The vintage images I’ve used include Joan Walsh Anglund from her little books I’ve loved since the 1970’s, though her work goes farther back, and old-fashioned Christmas images wherever I can find them. The local thrift store is a trove of goodies. My four-year-old grandson, Charlie, loves to treasure hunt there with his mom, great grandmom, and me. Amazon (of course) has many image choices in their craft section, and Blümchen, a German styled company, carries a wide variety of Christmas ornament making supplies–not to forget Dollar Tree and Walmart for general crafting. I’m sure there are many more stores, but these are the ones I’ve found.

For the background/card paper, I searched the house to find the Medieval sheet music from my old recorder days and used that until I ran out. I like the worn look achieved from using older music and further aging the paper with distress oxide. I also employ eye shadow to give an antique appearance. Our local thrift store has used sheet music that’s perfect for my needs. I’ve lost track of how many card/ornaments I’ve made thus far but discovered mailing them in bubble wrap envelopes is pricey because the post office considers them parcels. I’m not officially in the card crafting business, as I’m making these for gifts, but if I were to create card ornaments for sale, postage would take a big bite. Mailing is a major consideration for any online sales.

I allow my creativity to flow freely, and every card is different. That makes each one original, and if there’s something I dislike I dive in and disguise the error or remake the card.

Writing is a very different kind of self-expression from crafting, and I do love both. Gardening is also a hands-on form of inner expression, partly why I love it too. That, and the sights, sounds, scents… All the feels. No one said I can’t do them all, just not at the same time. I’ve been sick a lot this fall, and these card ornaments are easier for me to work on when I’m only half decent. Imagine what I could achieve if I were really well. Here’s hoping.

It takes me several hours (more or less) to craft each card, but it easily takes me that long to comprise a sentence. I’m still working on the opening line to my never-ending WIP. My inner editor is too loud. I need to ignore her and move along.

Meanwhile, these card ornaments are fun and make me feel like I’m accomplishing something. Before the craft bug hit, I was planting crocus like a mad woman, but then I used up the bulbs and the weather grew too cold. It’s wise to have varied interests.

For those of you who are interested, the online bulb sites are having mega sales now. Not that I’ve noticed. It’s this dream I have of planting my entire yard in crocus…

And God Bless Us Everyone.

*I’m seeking the little Joan Walsh Anglund books to rebuild my library and have found some on eBay and Amason, other used book sites. They’ve been out of print for years.

My Find


This old photograph is of my grandmother, Elizabeth (we called her Mommom), the youngest girl next to the littlest child, her brother Edwin, and my Aunt Margaret and Aunt Emily, the eldest sister and subject of this post.

My family saves letters, journals, photographs, scrapbooks, all kinds of memorabilia, from the people who went before us and I’m the recipient of much of this bounty. I’m not even sure what all I’ve been entrusted with, so am taking stock. One of my favorite finds is a scrapbook, circa 1902, that belonged to my great Aunt Emily, whom I know of but never met in life. She died long before my birth. Dad gave me her scrapbook years ago, but I’d rather forgotten about it until my recent find.

Young Emily filled the now dilapidated pages with magazine clippings, pictures, Valentine and Christmas cards, and keepsakes valuable to a teenage girl at the turn of the 20th century. The fallen apart scrapbook is beyond saving but I cut out my favorite pasted in cards and images. Emily grew up the cherished daughter (one of three sisters and a brother) to loving parents, with a good, comfortable life, her father being a banker. One of the items in her scrapbook is her dance card from what may have been her debutante ball. A tiny pencil hangs at its side to enter the names of the gentlemen requesting a dance. No young men are listed, which puzzled me, as Emily was an attractive, vivacious girl, who boasted in a letter to her papa about daring to ride ‘astride’ when other genteel ladies rode side saddle, so it’s not because she wasn’t admired.

(Aunt Emily’s dance card)

Christmas cards (shown above) were different in that era. The Valentine’s cards are more familiar. Tastes have changed over the decades, but romantic love isn’t out of favor, not entirely anyway, and definitely not with me.

(An assortment of cards and events)

(Valentines from 1902)

After immersing myself in Emily’s scrapbook, and remembering what Dad told me about her, I feel closer to this distant aunt. Dad said when Emily died it was partly the doctor’s fault because he didn’t appreciate the seriousness of her condition (kidney disease). She’s reported to have said, “I told you I was sick,” towards the end. I don’t know if Emily could have been saved in that era, before antibiotics, if the doctor had been aware of her deteriorating health, but maybe he would have tried harder. Dad said Emily had developed the reputation of being a hypochondriac, which made the medical community downplay her complaints. I wonder if she truly was a hypochondriac or whether she was discounted as women often were in the past and still are today.

After Emily’s death, she was laid out in the formal parlor in the family homeplace where friends and family paid their final respects. Dad remembers his grandfather, Emily’s father, seated by her side, begging her to wake up because she appeared to only be sleeping. Dad said how cruel he thought it was that Emily had been made to look so lifelike in death. His grandfather kept Emily’s picture on his bedside stand and kissed it every night. He never got over the untimely death of his beloved daughter. So sad.

I don’t have Emily’s picture as an adult and hope one turns up, but I found this lovely Edwardian lady in her scrapbook. Maybe Emily looked much like her. Both are brunettes.

I’m touched and inspired by Emily. Perhaps, you are too. Dad once told me the years of his youth and those of his parents’ generation were a gracious time to live, if you could stay alive. There were many illnesses and injuries to carry you away without the treatments available today. I should add, and if you had the money to live well, always a plus. Even with the risks of that era, I deeply appreciate the graciousness and civility my Virginia ancestors enjoyed. Maybe I’ll pack some antibiotic and travel back, as I do in my time travel romances.

A rose for Emily

Remember Those Who’ve Gone Before Us–John Adams


“Posterity! You will never know how much it cost the present Generation to preserve your Freedom! I hope you will make good use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in Heaven, that I ever took half the Pains to preserve it.” ― John Adams

And John Adams took amazing ‘Pains’ to help found this country. A brilliant, dedicated man, Adams sacrificed unbelievably as did his wife, Abigail, for whom I have the greatest admiration.

If you haven’t seen it, or even if you have, please watch the HBO Adams miniseries. I now own the DVD set and have it in video at Amazon.

“Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”
― John Adams

“Let us tenderly and kindly cherish therefore, the means of knowledge. Let us dare to read, think, speak, and write.”
― John Adams, The Works Of John Adams, Second President Of The United States

“A Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored. Liberty, once lost, is lost forever.”
― John Adams, Letters of John Adams, Addressed to His Wife

(The Betsy Ross Flag)

“…I say, that Power must never be trusted without a check.”
― John Adams, The Adams-Jefferson Letters: The Complete Correspondence Between Thomas Jefferson and Abigail and John Adams

“To believe all men honest is folly. To believe none is something worse.”
― John Adams

“Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people.” John Adams

John Adams is a great inspiration to me, as are many of our Founding Fathers and Mothers.

I humbly add that I wrote The Traitor’s Legacy Series, three historical romance adventure/mystery novels set during the American Revolution in North Carolina. If you like the paranormal, there’s a touch of the ghostly. I researched the heck out of the colonial and revolutionary time period for these books. The first in this series is Enemy of the King. For more on these and my other works visit my Amazon Author Page and look around this blog.

June In My Garden


My May Garden at Dusk


(Abraham Darby Rose with columbine)

May has been, and often is, ‘right mixy’ (country saying among Old Order Mennonites). Temps soars to outrageous highs then drop to nerve-wracking lows… Should I cover the Oriental lilies–Again? Will I do more harm than good (snapped stalks)? Will we dodge the bullet this time?

Fortunately, most of my fussed over plants survived with little damage. Lillies are tougher than I thought, roses, too, and I’ve enjoyed beauty worthy of ‘The Shire’, in Hobbiton.

If you’ve never experienced the joy of accomplishing more than you can imagine, plant a garden. ~Robert Braultrbrault.blogspot.com

(Below, my bunny statue with foxglove and iris)

Last evening, I ventured forth to capture images of my Memorial Garden. The colors shone in the lessening light, perhaps because I favor pastel hues that standout at dusk. White is the queen of night, and I include these flowers in my plantings. White blossoms glow in the gathering darkness. I intended to remain outside until my solar lights came on, but as the sun sank beneath the hills, the resident skunk announced his coming. I haven’t spotted Mr. Stinky yet, and don’t care to. His noxious warning is my cue to swiftly head indoors. I have the uneasy sense he lives beneath our house, or maybe under the barn, a better thought. Despite Mr. Stinky, my twilight garden is a magical realm. The day might seem quite ordinary, but my dusky garden is anything but. God walks the garden at dusk, and again at dawn.

(Old watering can with iris as darkness falls)
(Foxgloves in my Secret Garden)

Grandma always called her vegetable garden the Chapel — it brought her closer to God, was full of miracles, and fed the hungering of others. ~Terri Guillemets

Climbing Out of the Rabbit Hole


A little madness in the Spring
Is wholesome even for the King…
~Emily Dickinson

If anyone wondered at my long blog absence and reappearance, I had a flare up of my weird form of chronic leukemia (T-cell LGL) this past year, resulting in many and persistent infections. After months on antibiotics, my oncologist started me on oral chemo. Heavy fatigue accompanied the med, but she tweaked my dose, the infections are better under control, and I’m feeling more myself. Not only that, but spring, the great motivator, launched me into action. Spring fever has me sowing dozens of flowers, sweet peppers, basil, tomato seeds, potting up dahlias (to give them a head start), digging holes for roses and scouring the garden for spots to plant the many new ones I ordered.

(Native Virginia phlox and coral bells)

‘The sun has come out… and the air is vivid with spring light.’ ~Byron Caldwell Smith (1849–1877), letter to Kate Stephens (1853–1938)

I’m adding two varieties of dwarf delphiniums, and salvia, violas, peach colored hollyhocks…I started from seed. More catmint (nepeta), hardy geraniums, Oriental lilies, clematis, and lavender have gone into the Memorial Garden, or soon will. And the list goes on of roses, bulbs, and plants I’ve specially ordered or started from seed. I’m also putting in a salad/vegetable garden. It’s downsized from before but will still produce plenty of greens and veges. Mixing flowers with vegetables and herbs is a favorite of mine and is good for attracting beneficials to the garden. I’m sprinkling seed around like a flower fairy. 

Yes, I get quite tired, but after a good rest I return to the garden, digging, planting, dividing clumps of asters and phlox and, and. It’s truly a magical place, apart from our crazy spring weather that seems bent on wreaking havoc. After several days of ridiculously warm days, we’re windswept with a cold bluster and threated with frost. This is a recurring garden challenge in the Shenandoah Valley in spring. Another bullet is headed our way tonight. Fingers crossed we dodge it.

I’ve gardened forever, but my endeavors really took off when I decided to create the Memorial Garden after my dad and younger brother, Chad, died. This living memorial is also for my mother-in-law whose garden this was before me and who passed soon after my father. I got really serious about taking care of my plants and went stark rose mad. Once you catch rose madness, there’s no return, so take care. I’m now committed to caring for dozens of roses with more on the way. Can you have too many bulbs or roses? Nae. I’m also taken with Oriental lilies…

Stay tuned.

Now that I’ve recovered some energy, I might even work on my long-neglected time travel. Here’s hoping.

Lasagna Bulb Pot Garden


(Tulip and viola container gardens)

This fall I was on a bulb planting craze (typical for me), and still hadn’t lost my zeal by Christmas. An unseasonably warm start to winter lured me into ordering A Lot more bulbs when Holland Bulb Farms had an amazing sale. Boxes labeled ‘Open Immediately’ arrived as the temperature took a dive. Overnight, the ground was too frozen to dig without a drill and I wasn’t outfitted with specialty power tools.

An idea occurred. I’d seen something on YouTube about making container bulb gardens so flung myself into researching the how to’s of what is called Lasagna growing. The aim is to layer various bulbs, according to size and variety, in a large container with several inches of potting soil in between the layers. The bigger bulbs like tulips or daffodils go on the bottom of the pot and you continue upward until the smallest bulbs make up the final layer. The only snag was that I had never done this before, and any potted plants I’d ever left out over winter always froze solid. I lacked funding for the pricy frost/freeze proof pots I discovered online after learning about them from the brilliant British gardener, Monty Don.

After assembling my largest plastic, metal, and wooden pots (plus others), I fell to and filled each one with potting soil (my favorite brand is Proven Winners/P.W.) mixed with bags of compost and raised bed soil. It took a heaping lot to fill all these containers. I layered in various tulips, daffodils, alliums, hyacinths, miniature iris, and windflowers, finishing up with crocus and a generous dash of viola seed. I also tossed on Shirley poppies, sweet alyssum, tiny snapdragons and marigold seeds. The violas are thriving. All seedlings are battling for space. After every pot was crammed full of bulbs and seeded, I circled the containers in a nook outside my kitchen. Heat from the dryer vent blows that way and I figured that would help warm them. I wrapped the pots in old towels, topped with cardboard from Amazon boxes, and weighted each with rocks. Then I banked the pots with extra bags of soil and compost, like sandbags bracing for the river to rise. Over the assembly, I spread a blanket, tucked them in, and weighed it down.

You may ask, was this attractive? No. Not at all. But I reminded myself of the glories to come. Most of the bulbs survived to spring, except for the crocus that froze to mush. Crocuses were the top, most vulnerable, layer. The seeds are germinating like mad and don’t begin to have room in these stuffed full pots. Pity. I must rethink how to better do seeds next fall, but they’re coming up. Growing seeds outdoors in winter/containers really does work. Also, it’s recommended to start these lasagna bulb gardens in late fall instead of January, but my pots did well. Given enough protection, they don’t freeze solid.

I am gardening in zone 6b, in the windswept, at times bitter cold, Shenandoah Valley. If you decide to tackle this project, watch for super late season bulb sales and good potting mix. And may God bless all who grow with you.

(Tulip, hyacinth, and daffodils layered in pots.)

I’m moving the pots I can lift to other spots in the garden that need a pop of color. Safe to say they ARE hardened off now. True story.

Consider the Lilies


(Star Gazer Oriental Lily)

Liles reign in July. Their stately spires and glorious blooms take centerstage when the Japanese beetles are at their worse and my poor roses are frazzled and frayed. Two years ago, without realizing how big they’d get, I planted bulbs of a large white lily. The image accompanying the advertisement pictured the stalks towering over a small child, so I figured maybe waist/chest height for me. I had not yet heard of tree lilies and missed the image of these flowers rising above a women. The first season they were big but not like this second year. They’re taller than me. Lilies rise from the Memorial Garden like Jack’s beanstalk, with an incredibly sweet fragrance. Their pure white flowers scent the air, especially in the evening, but it’s always heavenly near them.

One of our Old Order Mennonite neighbors called me about these giants. She frequently passes our farm in her horse and buggy and has ample opportunity to admire the flowers. These lilies are like nothing she’s ever seen. If I get around to it this fall, I’ll divide this clump and give her several bulbs. I also grow the Star Gazer Oriental lilies and a variety of others. Lilies are magical additions to the garden. Last fall I fell all over Breck’s lily grab bag sale and wound up with quite a few new varieties. Exciting! But I was busy getting these bulbs in until Christmas. Fortunately, the ground wasn’t frozen hard. Last winter was mild. Who knows about 2021-2022?

My main challenge with lilies isn’t winter but spring. I mulch the bulbs well to discourage early growth. Even so, they are almost always lured out by an unseasonable warm spell in April and then zapped by frost. Every spring I’m out covering clumps of lilies to try and protect the sensitive stalks from the icy blast. If a stalk is hit, it’s gone. Tiger lilies are more resistant to the cold. I also grow daylilies and they can handle lower temps than the Oriental and Asiatic varieties. These beauties are worth the battle, I remind myself on those chilly spring evenings. They are royalty.

(Gorgeous white tree lilies)

Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they toil not, neither do they spin; yet I say unto you, Even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” ~Matthew 6: 28.

Lilies and I have a long history. I memorized this verse (part of a longer passage) as a child and proudly recited it for the entire school. Those were different days. It was a public school in Bristol, Tennessee. I’ve always liked this passage as it assures us of God’s care, but also because of the lilies. I loved flowers even then. I checked to see what variety of lily is referred to in this verse and it seems they are a native red anemone. Very pretty, but not what I’d envisioned. I guess something got lost in translation. Just as well, the word anemone would have gone over my head as a child.

(Above: Red carpet of flowers in Shokeda Forest, Israel. Image by Zachi Evenor.)

If you haven’t ever planted lilies, give them a go. Watch for sales. I have several dozen bulbs to get in the ground from a summer sale. I plant them in among the roses and other flowers. A perfect cottage garden plant, the look I aim for.

(Tiger lilies above)

(The big white lily again)

The Garden is a Magical Place


Hollyhocks

We’ve had a splendid June this year. To venture forth outside in the early morning is pure joy. The garden reveals fresh wonders no matter how often I go there. Even if the earth is parched, beads of dew sparkle on the glistening leaves like tiny jewels. Morning makes all things new. 

I’m incredibly fortunate to be surrounded by this mini Eden and gratified to help bring it to life. I also give nature and our creator, God, quite a bit of the credit. The garden is a magical place. God walks the garden at dusk and the fairies dance at dawn. 

As I reluctantly bid early summer adieu and brace myself for hot July, I will seek the beauty, and keep watch for fairies.

“Plants give us oxygen for the lungs and for the soul.” ~Terri Guillemets

“In the garden I tend to drop my thoughts here and there. To the flowers I whisper the secrets I keep and the hopes I breathe. I know they are there to eavesdrop for the angels.” ~Dodinsky

“I sit in my garden, gazing upon a beauty that cannot gaze upon itself. And I find sufficient purpose for my day.” ~Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com

And with that, I agree.

My wildflower border is a medley of colors.

NA Historical Romance The Bearwalker’s Daughter–free in Kindle


The Bearwalker’s Daughter was inspired by a true account:

The ill-fated romance of a young captive woman who fell in love with the son of a chief lies behind The Bearwalker’s Daughter. As the result of a treaty, the young wife was taken from her warrior husband and forced back to her white family where she gave birth to a girl. Then her husband did the unthinkable and left the tribe to go live among the whites, but such was their hatred of Indians that before he reached his beloved her brothers killed him. Inconsolable and weak from the birth, she grieved herself to death.

Heart-wrenching, that tale haunts me to this day. And I wondered, was there some way those young lovers could have been spared such anguish, and what happened to their infant daughter when she grew up? I know she was raised by her white family–-not what they told her about her mother and warrior father.

Not only did The Bearwalker’s Daughter spring from that sad account, but it also had a profound influence on my historical romance novel Red Bird’s Song. Now that I’ve threaded it through these two novels, perhaps I can let go…perhaps….

The history the story draws from is raw and real, a passionate era where only the strong survive. Superstition ran high among both the Scots and Native Americans, and far more, a vision that transcends what is, to reach what can be. We think we’ve gained much in our modern era, and so we have.  But we’ve also lost a great deal. In my writing, I try to recapture what should not be forgotten.  Remember those who’ve gone before you.

As to bearwalking, this belief/practice predates modern Native Americans to the more ancient people. In essence,  a warrior transforms himself into a bear and goes where he wills in that form, a kind of shapeshifting. 

Blurb: A Handsome Frontiersman, Mysterious Scots-Irish Woman, Shapeshifting Warrior, Dark Secret, Pulsing Romance…The Bearwalker’s Daughter~

Karin McNeal hasn’t grasped who she really is or her fierce birthright. A tragic secret from the past haunts the young Scots-Irish woman who longs to learn more of her mother’s death and the mysterious father no one will name. The elusive voices she hears in the wind hint at the dramatic changes soon to unfold in the mist-shrouded Alleghenies in Autumn, 1784.

Jack McCray, the wounded stranger who staggers through the door on the eve of her twentieth birthday and anniversary of her mother’s death, holds the key to unlock the past. Will Karin let this handsome frontiersman lead her to the truth and into his arms, or seek the shelter of her fiercely possessive kinsmen? Is it only her imagination or does someone, or something, wait beyond the brooding ridges–for her?~


The Bearwalker’s Daughter
 is available at: 
Amazon Kindle. (Free through Thursday February 4th)

“This fabulous historical fantasy story doesn’t hesitate from word one…Ms. Trissel’s alluring style of writing invites the reader into a world of fantasy and makes it so believable it is spellbinding.” -Long and Short Reviews