Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Dana's Garden of Generosity

"Flowers are a proud assertion that a ray of beauty outvalues all the utilities of the world." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Last summer, I was delighted when an anonymous florist brought fresh-cut bouquets to church -- gorgeous blooms offered with a simple handwritten sign that read "Free flowers from God." My inquiries led me to Dana, a nurse whose nurturing instincts extend to her brimful garden. I recently visited her suburban home for a look at this season's bounty.

I plan to share her story in an upcoming Christian Woman Creative Corner article but can't resist previewing a little of the inspiration here.

Dana grew up watching her mother arrange flowers and took to the art intuitively. She takes great joy in sharing her gifts with others -- whether lining the windowsills at church with colorful vases or distributing blossoms to her neighbors. 

Among her many blooms, zinnias are a favorite for their vivid color.

Dana enjoys taking cuttings to retirement homes. As she sits in the lobby arranging the stems, many patients grow nostalgic remembering heirloom varieties from their gardens past.

Considering the bounty Dana shares with others, one might assume her property includes vast acreage. But to my surprise, I discovered tangles of blooms densely planted across narrow stretches of lawn.

It was so encouraging to realize that such natural splendor is accessible to all.

Dana starts flowers from seed and chooses hardy floral varieties that require little maintenance. Tomato plants flourish beneath the foliage, adding another element of enjoyment to her efforts.

As I snapped these photos, Dana watered her flowers and reflected on the joy she has cultivated -- both for others and for herself.

This garden of generosity brings to mind Proverbs 11:25: "Whoever brings blessings will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered."

Thank you, Dana, for welcoming me to your outdoor oasis!

As we walked among the blooms, she put together a few arrangements -- lovely centerpieces she sent home with me to enjoy. Look for her tutorial and tips in an upcoming post.

"Flowers seem intended for the solace of ordinary humanity." ~ John Ruskin

Monday, July 4, 2016

Happy Independence Day!

"[F]ireworks had for her a direct and magical appeal. Their attraction was more complex than that of any other form of art. They had pattern and sequence, colour and sound, brilliance and mobility; they had suspense, surprise, and a faint hint of danger; above all, they had the supreme quality of transience, which puts the keenest edge on beauty and makes it touch some spring in the heart which more enduring excellences cannot reach." ~ Jan Struther

Exuberant clusters of white blossoms bursting forth from these flowers remind me of the brilliant fireworks that soon will be lighting the night sky. Catching such a display is usually a highlight of my Fourth of July. This year, however, the holiday promises a different kind of splendor. I am joining my children for a week at church camp, so I anticipate enjoying a rousing devotional under the stars tonight.

I must admit, I am a little nervous to embark on this adventure into the great outdoors and hope that I will not wilt under the heat of the Alabama sun.

It has been many years since I went to camp, but it was the site of many of the most cherished memories of my youth. We referred to the dirt road leading into the campground as "the trail of tears" because many children entered the gates pleading with their parents to turn back but left at the session's end weeping for the friends they could not bear to part with. Looking ahead to the fellowship, Bible study and singing we will share, I am prayerful that this will be a spiritually uplifting week that all of us will treasure.

Who knows? This might just be our best Independence Day yet!

"There was one bursting now, a delicate constellation of many-coloured stars which drifted down and lingered in the still air." ~ Jan Struther

Friday, July 1, 2016

We All Scream for Ice Cream

"Ice cream is happiness condensed." ~ Jessi Lane Adams

The mid-summer heat of July offers the perfect opportunity to indulge in cool and creamy ice cream, and we have shared many scoops together over the years at A Little Loveliness. Here are a few of my favorite flavors, desserts and celebrations -- perfect for the sun-drenched days to come.

Fabulous Flavors

I developed this delicious Raspberry Lemonade Ice Cream several years ago. Enjoy a paper-wrapped cone topped with whipped cream, a fresh raspberry, and a striped paper straw.

My little chef Christian tempted us with this version of Rocky Road Ice Cream.

And a visit to Hilton Head introduced us to this recipe for Peach Ice Cream. This would pair well with my craving for Chilton County peaches!


There is an ease about desserts made with ice cream that complements leisurely summer days. For a simple treat, try these Ice Cream Tea Sandwiches.

For quick Independence Day Sundaes, fill waffle bowls with vanilla or strawberry-swirl ice cream and top with sweetened berries.

When I'm pining for my old Kentucky home, one taste of this elegant dessert -- patterned after the Nonesuch Kiss at Irish Acres -- takes me back to our time in Lexington.

What's not to love about a decadent serving of Mocha Punch served in a personalized travel mug? Sounds like a perfect recipe for friendship.


Ice cream has certainly played a role in many of our parties through the years.

Emma does not enjoy cake, so her birthday parties have usually incorporated some sort of frosty treat. For her pARTy -- held at a paint-your-own-pottery studio when she turned 7 -- we dressed up a favorite flavor with whipped cream, sprinkles, and paintbrushes.

Sometimes ice cream offers the incentive for getting together. For this entertaining idea, churn up some fun by inviting the neighbors to indulge in your latest creation.

For Emma's 8th birthday, ice cream was definitely the star of the show, as we welcomed friends to Emma's Ice Cream Parlor. This fete was one of our easiest yet most enjoyable to date!

Get the scoop in these party posts:

I ordered several sets of these 12-packs of cone-themed ice cream cups and spoons, so we had plenty after the party. That spring, I took them to her class at school to use during a sundae party. The kids were thrilled to take them home! The remainder have been nice to tuck into birthday gifts for friends, along with a gift card to a favorite ice-cream shop.

I hope you have enjoyed this round-up of ice cream recipes, desserts, and celebrations. Now, would you like that frosty treat in a cup or cone?

"Always serve too much hot fudge sauce on hot fudge sundaes. It makes people overjoyed, and puts them in your debt." ~ Judith Olney

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