I visited three public gardens during my trip to California, all in Pasadena.  The Huntington Library Botanical Garden is in a league all its own; you’ll need at least one full day to cover the grounds.  The other two, pint-sized in comparison, are perfect for an impromptu stroll.

Now, let’s head over to the lowest point in North America, Badwater Basin in Death Valley National Park.  There I am, trekking 282 feet below sea level on a ginormous sheet of salt deposits!

Before leaving Death Valley, we meandered about the Mesquite Flat Dunes.  What a very zen experience.  The winds “erase” the footprints, creating a clean canvas for all visitors.

And, that mysterious textured surface…..

….. is cracked clay from an ancient lakebed, strewn about in between the dunes!

It will be quite some time before traveling can be put on the agenda again.  In the mean time, I will delight in the beautiful nature within my own back yard.


The Huntington Library Botanical Garden is a must-see if you’re ever in Pasadena, California.  I went there this past March, and it was amazing.  There’s just so much to take in and experience.  And, as with any botanical garden, what’s on view changes with each season.  A few areas within the garden were closed to the public on account of renovations, which means…… I must plan to visit again.

Pictured is the entrance, just heavenly, whether you’re a plant geek like me, or not.

Among some of the highlights, is the Japanese bonsai display.  I can certainly appreciate the passion, pruning and patience it takes to grow these majestic, living works of art.

Resident lizards, like this little one basking on the table, were also enjoying the gorgeous day.  So cute.

A few more captures of the Japanese garden area…..

Look at this amazing mosaic stonework.  I’d love to have a patio like that.

The desert garden was my favorite, perhaps because the various cacti pictured do not naturally exist in the northeast.  I admit, I have cactus envy.

If the board game “Cactus Candy Land” ever existed, this is what the path would look like.

And, if you stroll the path “down under”, you’ll stumble upon these Australian bottle trees, which remind me of pudgy elephant legs.

Well, I hope you enjoyed this sampling of the Huntington Library Botanical Garden.  Perhaps you’ll put it on your “bucket” list.  I think you should.

The next post will conclude my trip to California, and in which I’ll reveal what the “mystery” photo is.

Stay tuned…….


I’m not referring to the current health pandemic that has halted all social gatherings and life as we know it.  I’m referring to Rhyolite, a real ghost town located in Nevada just outside Death Valley National Park.  My daughter and I made it there just days before the park closed its visitor center, campgrounds, public bathrooms and lodging!  Phew!

Sit back and enjoy the scenery from your germ-free little corner of the world.

Rhyolite ghost town residence

Rhyolite school

Rhyolite abandonment closeup

Tom Kelly’s Bottle House, rehabilitated in 2015, was certainly a ghost house that stole my heart.  I just love the miniature mosaic residences lining the side yard.  Inspiration!

Tom Kelly's Bottle House

Rhyolite mosaic miniature houses

Rhyolite mosaic shack

Rhyolite mosaic chapel

It looks like these old residents choose to “stick” around….

Rhyolite skeleton jam session

… as does this one.Rhyolite lizard

Well, I hope you enjoyed these views of the Rhyolite ghost town.  I’ve got more to share from Death Valley National Park as well as two fabulous botanical gardens in Pasadena, California.

Stay tuned…..


What sings of spring better than chirping birds, budding branches, bunnies and nested eggs?  Nothing, in my opinion.  Though the winter was a mild one here in southeastern New York, I’m so glad it’s spring.

The first hint of spring revealed in my back yard was the blooming hellebore, a perfect complement to some bottles I painted with tinted gesso.  The bottles are not sealed with a protective varnish, but serve as temporary vessels for these long blooming delights.  Do you see the the little sparrow peaking from behind the feeder?  So cute.

And, while purging some opened mail, I happened to take notice of the interesting patterns on the inside of some security envelopes.  I couldn’t resist using them to make Easter cards.  Double-sided adhesive film was my little helper with making these beauties.  I simply pressed blocks of the envelope paper and a pretty napkin onto the film, then traced out shapes using templates I made beforehand.  After cutting the shapes out, it was peel-n-stick with a few glued on embellishments all the way.

Voila!… instant spring craftiness!

I hope this post encourages you crafty folks to think “inside the envelope”.



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