The Rosehaven Cottage "Rose Medallion" for Excellence

We, at Rosehaven Cottage, are pleased to announce the introduction of a new award exclusively from Rosehaven Cottage--The Rosehaven Cottage "Rose Medallion" for Excellence.

The "Rose Medallion" will be given by Rosehaven Cottage to blogs that we find to be of exceptional merit in design and content. The blogs given this honor will be those that we have found particular enjoyment, inspiration, and/or insight(s) in reading--blogs that have exhibited a passion for living. We hope as the "Rose Medallion" is awarded, that the recipients of this honor will be pleased to display it on their blogs.

The first recipient to accept this award is Daisy the Curly Cat whose whimsical blog has brought us such enjoyment and laughter we cannot begin to put it into words. Her Sunday Comics are wonderful gems that make us giggle (sometimes full on hysterical laughter like when Daisy drove a car). If you have not discovered Daisy, please visit her blog and enter the world of a wonderful little cat with great fashion sense.

The second recipient to accept this award is Holly at 2 Kids and Tired. Holly is a very talented writer that is raising two darling boys in the way that boys should be raised -- with lots of love! She writes about life and her blog is inspirational and thought-provoking. Her occasional blogs entitled "Conversation At Our House" featuring conversational exchanges with her boys always bring a smile to my face.

The third recipient to accept this award is Kylee at Our Little Acre. Like I imagine her gardens to be, Kylee's loving approach to blogging is infectious with its enthusiasm for gardening, creativity, and life. As I have written about her before, "Kylee is a wonderful writer, photographer, and gardener that has captured so much in her endearing blog that I wait with great anticipation for each new installment to brighten my day and inspire me". This is what Kylee says about her own blog:
"These are the adventures of a rural Ohio gardener (me) and a camera that
seems to be stuck in macro mode much of the time. I share what I know and what I'm learning about plants, flowers, butterflies, insects, and birds, and because
my life only consists of 95% gardening, the rest of me is thrown in from time to
." [See what I mean?]
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Thoughts on My 41st Birthday

It was 41 years ago today that I was born into this world during a September heat wave (poor Mom). After 38 hours of labor (again, poor Mom) I was born c-section, had the guck suctioned from my lungs, and I took my first breath.

It was almost 2 years ago (1 year, 10 months, and 29 days to be exact) that another surgery gave me new life by freeing me from over 20 years of living with the crippling condition of endometriosis. It was as if someone had again allowed me to take my first breath.

It was 10 years ago today that I sat in my Auntie's home, discouraged and forelorn at the horrible prospects of my lovelife. I was browsing through one of her quilting magazines and admiring a design with a grapevine wreath in the center.

"I'll make you a deal," Auntie said with a twinkle in her eye, "I'll make you that quilt either as a wedding gift or for your 35th birthday--whichever comes first."

It was shortly after that birthday that I went out on a second date with an old friend whom I'd had a first date with a month previously and determined he wasn't "the one". Tonight, I sat across a table holding hands with that same man and proudly told our waitress that we had been married for almost 10 years now. He is my soul mate, my protector, my all-time love, and my best friend. The friendship and deep love I share with him also breathed new life into me allowing me to heal past wounds, discover parts of myself I had not known, and gave me the courage to explore creativity and passions I had left untapped within me.

My mom recently told me that she wished that my life had been so different than how it had been. I told her, in all honesty, that I wouldn't want it any other way. Don't get me wrong. There's a lot about my life that has been just plain awful and truly a living nightmare. But I survived to be 41 years old and am a stronger woman for all that I've experienced and will continue to experience. That's what my life's trials and tribulations have been for, so that I got the privilege of learning what Cindy is made of. And I wouldn't trade that for anything.

Now today I'm going to do exactly what I want to for my birthday.... work in my garden!
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Poor Dee Dee... It's Hard Being the Matriarch Kitty

A recent post over at Greenie Gardens talked about their kitty cat, Sparky. I quote:

"He has no sense of propriety and lays on top of Goldie and knocks Sylvester off
his food."
I had to laugh because I thought only our kitty cat Gus Gus (aka Gussy Bear) did that! Ironically, Hubby had just captured Gus doing the former (i.e., laying on top of our orange tabby Dee Dee) in a photograph the day before I read the post at Greenie Gardens about Sparky.

Photo below: Gus Gus just flops right on top of Dee Dee if he can find her sleeping somewhere where there is room for him.

Photo below: Dee Dee oftens looks up with eyes that say, "Daddy, help me!!!!!"

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How many of us look at the backside of a flower?

I asked myself that question yesterday as I was photographing flowers in the garden at Rosehaven Cottage. The late afternoon light was perfect for photographing. Flowers love the sun. They face the sun. Flower petals also look deceivingly opague when in fact they are quite translucent. The only way for me to photograph the translucency of the petals was from the backside of the flowers as they stretched upward to the blue September sky.


It got me thinking (careful, you may smell smoke)...

From my perspective in this world, September represents golds, oranges, russet reds, and bronzes that shimmer in the sun. However, many of my blogging friends are in the southern hemisphere in this world. For them, September represents new life and a respite from colder months. It is a new dawn in the garden with pastels bursting forth through the dark soil.


How much more in our lives is only relative to our perspective in this world?

How much more would we glean from our lives if we thought to consciously change our vantage point just a bit?

Would seemingly opague areas of our lives suddenly come alive with inspiring light being shed upon them, exposing their translucency?

Would we discover beauty that was there all along but we just failed to see until we changed our vantage point?

Would we see the blue skies that span over our lives creating a wonderful horizon of possibilities and at the same time providing an umbrella of security?

I'm realizing more and more that it's all in our perspective.
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Liquid Amber Turning

When I see the leaves of the liquid amber turning, I know that Autumn is really here. I know that the changes of Autumn that I anticipate so much are upon us. It brings happy feelings to my inner core.

For some reason, Autumn is the time when momentous milestones have occurred in my life. For example, I kissed my husband for the first time and fell in love with him during this season. Maybe its because my birthday is in the Autumn that life-changing events happen at this time of year for me. I don't know.

This year we are experiencing change in our lives in a very different way. My father-in-law has just spent the last two weeks in a Bay Area hospital 3 1/2 hours away from his home with my mother-in-law lovingly by his side as he has gone through the life-altering experience of having a cancerous tumor surgically removed from his esophagus. As I have had the privilege of caring for him many times during this past 2 weeks, sitting by his bedside, we have talked about things that we normally wouldn't talk about. He will be heading home in the next day or so to continue to regain his strength so he can then face chemotherapy in order to win his battle with the cancer that came out of nowhere only a couple of months ago to invade his life as he and Mom knew it.

I admire Dad for his courage, his tenacity, and his faith during this ordeal. I admire my husband for being a stalwart son and giving beyond any capacity I thought possible and having energy that seemed endless. I admire my brother-in-law and sister-in-law for making sacrifices without hesitation to form a support system around their father and mother that is strong and firm. I've witnessed so much love, devotion, and sacrifice the past few weeks. It has been awe-inspiring and has permanently changed my heart.

Yes, Autumn is a season of change in so many ways.
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What's Growing in the Rosehaven Cottage Gardens

Top left: Spanish Flag blooms are finally present in my garden! Last year the seeds I planted sprouted and climbed very nicely but never bloomed. This year I have lovely variegated blossoms that remind me of candy corns.
Top right: Thanks to K.'s generosity in giving me sunflower seedlings from her nursery as well as the Spanish Flag,I have a wonderful array of sunflowers this year which I would not have had otherwise thanks to ravenous birds that ate all the seeds I planted. K. is an amazing horticulturist and a wonderful friend! This photograph was a "happy accident" of unintentional over-exposure with my DSLR. I love when that happens.
Bottom left: Zinnias are so awesome because I let mine go to seed last year and they reseeded themselves this year and produced amazing blooms like this hot pink baby! Can you believe the beauty in the symetry of the petal design? There really is a loving God that gave us gorgeous flowers like this just for us to enjoy viewing.
Bottom right: Another "happy accident" occurred as I was photographing the zinnias. I turned to photograph this blossom and saw that a small butterfly was dining on the nectar. What a treat for both the butterfly and myself!
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The True Beauty of a Sunflower

Am I alone in finding beauty in a sunflower whose bloom has long since gone? Even as a small child I found the center of a sunflower completely fascinating with all the seeds so perfectly formed and lined up in neat concentric circles. The dry outer edges with their white "whiskers" always intrigued my childhood imagination as well.

Now that I'm older and maintain my own backyard wildlife habitat, there is an added beauty to the dried and spent sunflowers. In planning the Rosehaven Cottage gardens so they could be a certified habitat, I read a lot, and one of the things I remember reading was that if you're a neatnik and a control freak, a wildlife habitat is probably not going to be your cup of tea. Why? Because finely manicured gardens don't necessarily provide the food and shelter that little creatures need to be happy.

I discovered in the first couple of growing seasons, that spent sunflowers remaining in the garden long after the sunflower is "sunny" are a staple of the Rosehaven Cottage habitat. The tall dried stalks get stronger the drier they become, and eventually transform into natural birdfeeders during the lean winter months when the birds can't find insects to munch on because it's too cold for insects to be out and about in the garden.

Many birds winter-over in the Bay Area of Northern California where Rosehaven Cottage is located. These birds thrive on the yummy sunflower seeds that wait and ripen from summer's bloom until winter's birdy harvest. House finches, oak titmouses, scrub jays, woodpeckers, and many seasonal birds find the drooping dried heads and hang from them surgically extracting seeds with their beaks as the winter rains come down around them.

The giant varieties like the Kong sunflower are particularly fun. Their giant heads sit atop thick trunk-like stalks that are up to 14 feet tall. Each giant dish head can hold hundreds of seeds. The birds don't finally deplete the giant heads of their bounty until very late into the winter around February. And because our last frost is usually around the middle to the end of March, the insect population comes back early enough in the year that the seeds last through the lean months until another food source comes along. It is a fascinating and miraculous cycle that I have witnessed year after year, and yet it never ceases to bring me joy and wonder.
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Inspiration from Bliss

"The special crispness of an autumn morning, the beautiful coloured leaves, the taste of roasted chestnuts, the scent of burning logs; autumn is such a treat for all the senses, isn't it?"

Yolanda Elizabet at Bliss

Yolanda Elizabet at Bliss left this wonderful comment on my previous post "Autumnal Color Palette". When I read her comment out loud to Hubby his first words were, "Now that is true poetry." I agree. Thank you Yolanda! This compilation of photos is dedicated to your poetic words about our favorite season--Autumn.

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Dexter Sweety

I have this embarrassing pile of boxes in my art studio for shipping items that I sell. It sits there and taunts me with its "unartistic" presence.

And then today, Dexter decides to climb into the one box that provides the most adorable photo opportunity. So even though I still hate the pile of boxes in the background, I couldn't help but shoot and share this photo of Dexter sitting in the most perfect box for him... the Sweety mandarine box.

Dexter is truly a "sweety" in every sense of the word (I can gush because I'm his human). He is a kind and thoughtful male tabby that we see as a benevolent "king" over the other kitties living here at Rosehaven Cottage. His size is impressive with his muscle-y frame weighing in at about 17 lbs. but he is a demure and quiet tabby that will often just come up and tap us on the leg or arm to say, "I'm here. Please pet me." He is a great leash walker and when the leash comes out, he stands proudly waiting for it to be put on and latched so he can go walking in the garden with me. At night, he often climbs up on my chest just before I drift off to sleep and "grooms" me by licking my chin and face (sometimes my hand).

He is my sweety Dexter. I always tell him, "I loved you first, and I love you best."
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September Dawn

There are mornings like this morning that dawn is glorious and beautiful; something I want to capture in a bottle or jar as a child does a butterfly. But just as a butterfly is fragile and cannot be held in a bottle or jar, so is the feeling of the dawn on a September morn. So I capture it in photographs.

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Where Can I Turn For Peace?

Things in our lives have been what Hubby has dubbed "code red status", as of late. "Code red status" isn't made up of the little stresses that just come along with everyday life. "Code red status" is made up of the big stuff that hopefully comes infrequently into one's life, and if one weathers it well one is a better and stronger person for having experienced it.

The current state of affairs in our lives has caused me to reflect on a favorite hymn entitled "Where Can I Turn For Peace?":

Where can I turn for peace?
Where is my solace
When other sources cease to make me whole?
When with a wounded heart, anger, or malice,
I draw myself apart,
Searching my soul?

Where, when my aching grows,
Where, when I languish,
Where, in my need to know,
Where can I run?
Where is the quiet hand
To calm my anguish?
Who, who can understand?
He, only One.

He answers privately,
Reaches my reaching
In my Gethsemane,
Savior and Friend.
Gentle the peace he finds
For my beseeching.
Constant he is and kind,
Love without end.

Text: Emma Lou Thayne
Music: Joleen G. Meredith
Scriptural reference: John 14:27; 16:33 and Hebrews 4:14-16

No "code red" phase is forever. As my great-grandmother used to say, "This too shall pass..." But for now it is comforting and consoling to have inspiration come from various sources like the hymn above.

It is also comforting and consoling to be blessed with the home that we consider our refuge and haven from the storms of life. Rosehaven Cottage is the place where I physically, emotionally, and mentally retreat to in order to regain my strength so that I may meet the challenges I face. The time spent under the shade of the plum tree is most precious at "code red" times like these.

Interestingly, every person is capable of having a place like Rosehaven Cottage. It may come in many forms, sizes, styles, and locations but it can still represent the same thing in each person's life--a refuge and a haven. My most heartfelt desire is that everyone could create what we have created--for it truly is something that one creates and doesn't just happen by chance. It doesn't make the trials of life go away, but it certainly does make it easier to exit those trials a victor.

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A Tisket, A Tasket, A Kitty in a Basket

In my experience, all kitties love defined spaces for curling up in to sleep or to just observe the world from. Baskets seem to be a kitty's "best friend". Today's photo collection is in honor of our kitties' love of baskets.

Above: Although the top male kitty around here, Dexter still can't resist an empty basket.

Above left: Dexter isn't picky about the shape of basket. Square or round... either is fine.
Above right: Fortunately these are silk tulips that Thomasina has chosen to squish her little 7 pound body into. She thought she was invisible to everyone.

Above left: Gus Gus shows that sometimes a basket just isn't enough. Sometimes you have to lay in a box that's IN a basket. Gus Gus (our mentally challenged kitty) thinks he's much smaller than he really is. Fortunately his big lanky body is more fluff and fur than anything else.
Above right: Thomasina's diminutive size let's her sit up under the handle of this basket in her signature "diva" pose.

Okay, just hold on Gussy Bear... that isn't a basket at all!!! That's your ring toy! See, I said cats love small defined spaces.
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Autumnal Color Palette

The weather has gotten cooler here at Rosehaven Cottage and has been reminding us of autumn that will "officially" begin here in the next little while. In honor of that, I'm posting a collection of photos that, to me, make up an autumnal color palette. Some may not be autumn flowers or photos but they say "autumn" to me.

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Dexter Loves the Smell of...


Dexter loves to rub his face, lips and sometimes his gums on anything rubber. He just adored this rubber mallet when it got left on the floor after one of our many home improvement projects. What a very silly kitty cat!
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Interesting Facts About Me (aka I've Been Tagged)

I've been tagged by the blogging artist Thea Burger at Shades of Life. I absolutely love her work. You have to go check out her site.

So now I get to share something interesting, weird, random, or fun about me...

First Fun Fact
I am a 4th generation San Francisco Bay Area Native with my great-grandfather, my grandmother, my mother, and I all being born in Alameda County. This is more unusual than one would expect because a great many Bay Area residents are transplants or their parents were. Along with this distinctive honor, I can also say that my Bay Area relatives lived through the 1906 earthquake. I am fortunate to have literally thousands of photos from old family albums that are candids just like the one at left [that's my great-great grandmother third from the left--she and her husband immigrated from Scotland and eventually set up residence in the Bay Area]. It is fun to still live the same area that my ancestors did because I feel a connection to them by knowing and loving the same places that they frequented and enjoyed. Pretty cool.

Next Fun Fact
I have played the piano for over 35 years now and was taught to play by my mother. My mother was taught to play by her mother. It is a musical legacy that has been passed down. I am very pleased and honored to be a part of this wonderful legacy. Music holds an important place in my life and in my home. It always has, and it always will. When I was little and learning to play, I yearned for the day that I could play with both hands. I would try to be patient and I went through the exercises in my piano book, but I would pester my mom asking her when I could play with both hands. I was tickled beyond words when I finally advanced to the point in my tutorials when I could play with both hands at the same time. It was a very big deal to me.

Final Fun Fact
I am a closet "motor head". I love engines that rumble, chrome that shines, and I love going fast in anything that moves. I am, therefore, one of those people that gawks and stares at any hot rod on the road. If my husband would let me, I'd ride a motorcycle (preferably a Harley). And I love the ride California Screamin' at Disney's California Adventure because of the speed of acceleration at the beginning and the feeling like I'm flying. In my secret dreams, I'm a jetfighter pilot. So when I'm on that wonderful roller coaster I pretend like I'm "driving" it as if I were a jet fighter pilot. The other favorite attraction I have at Disney's California Adventure is Soarin' Over California. Again, it's because I can get the sensation of flying.

Now for those that I'm tagging next:

Dirty Fingernails at Green Thumb Chronicles
Mark at The Green Fingered Photographer
Kelly Cat at It's All Good
Miss Peach (and Karla) at Miss Peach's Meowz
Allison at My Cozy Home
Kylee at Our Little Acre
Zoey at Perennial Passion

The guidelines for this tag:
1. Link to your tagger and post these rules
2. Write some facts about yourself: some random, some weird, some just plain fun.
3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post and list their names (linking to them)
4. Let those 7 people know they've been tagged by leaving a comment at their blogs.
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