my minnesota skies ~ summer solstice edition

Happy Summer Solstice!  Today is the longest day of the year for those of us in the northern hemisphere, when the sunlight graces us with its presence much longer... except where I live where it has been raining for the past three days.  So to celebrate this day, I am sharing some photos I took from our house before.  My Minnesota skies are always awesome, but some days just leave me in awe.

I love living in Minnesota.  The three years since I moved here have shown me a state of incredible beauty that has so much to offer, if only we get that image most Americans have of Minnesota-- the movie Fargo-- out of our heads.  In reality Minnesota is a state of magnificent natural beauty and one of the things I love the most is the sunset and sunrises.  Holy smokes!  I have never seen such sky, and this is quite a statement from someone who grew up in a Caribbean island.  The following are images that I have taken from our house.  And every time I am blessed to witness such beauty I thank the Lord for the gift of sight, and appreciation for nature.  This is my Minnesota skies.


Wildflowers of Buffalo Gap Grasslands and Badlands National Park

Yesterday we came back from our first family trip since we got married three years ago.  And it was an amazing tour of the National Parks in Montana, Wyoming, and South Dakota.  We visited Yellowstone, Grand Tetons (see previous post), Mount Rushmore, Custer National Parks, the Black Hills, Wind and Jewel Caves, and the last stop was the Buffalo Gap National Grassland and the Badlands. 

And to me, these two were my favorite.  Yes, Yellowstone and Grand Teton are breathtakingly stunning with their alpine beauty.  But the Badlands offered such a striking contrast of arid beauty interspersed with prairie simplicity. It was two extremes coming together to offer quite a scenery, even on a cloudy day.  And when it comes to vegetation, mother nature always finds a way.  In between the rocks, grass grew and flowers provided unexpected pops of colors that just brought a smile.  


Flowering Plains Prickly Pear Cactus


The Buffalo Gap National Grasslands kind of extends to the limits of other towns, which allows for beautiful views of abandoned homesteads in South Dakota.

  Annual Sunflower (Helianthus annuus  )

Annual Sunflower (Helianthus annuus)

  wild strawberry   (  Fragaria virginiana)

wild strawberry (Fragaria virginiana)

 Wild Rose 

Wild Rose 

I really fell in love with the look and big blooms of the yucca plant.  The bell shape pods are just so different and beautiful.

  Soapweed (Yucca glauca  )

Soapweed (Yucca glauca)

At the National Grassland Visitor Center, you could walk around the various grasses and plants that you can find in Buffalo Gap and the Badlands. Some were not labeled but they are still beautiful

 I really love the combination of grasses and flowers at the National Grassland Center.

I really love the combination of grasses and flowers at the National Grassland Center.

  Silverleaf Psoralea

Silverleaf Psoralea

But I have to say that the star right now all across the parks is the goldenrod. There are various types growing in all the national parks we visited and made for quite a stunning view.

  Goldenrod (Solidago ssp.)

Goldenrod (Solidago ssp.)


Have you been the either of these two national parks? For my European readers, do you have National Parks in your country (meaning funded by the government and open to the public)? 

Iconic Mormon Row ~ Grand Tetons National Park

This week we are visiting various national parks as part of our family summer trip and so far it has been amazing. And as of this point, the Grand Tetons National Park, especially Mormon Road with its iconic barns, has been my favorite.

I have to tell you that the weather was so perfect that I did not have to edit the photos in any way. I have never seen a sky more blue. It was just amazing.

Thank you for allowing me to share my photos with you. I hope you like them. 



Joining Wordless Wednesday and other photo link-ups with these fantastic bloggers: Wordless Wednesday, Wednesday Around the World, Nature Notes, Pictorial Tuesday, Sky Watch Friday, Our World Tuesday,

tea for soul soothing moments

There is something to be said for reminiscing about a previous life. My previous life was spent mostly in North Carolina and I miss it more than anything Sundays in the South. There was something about it that I cannot quite explain.  I loved going to church in the morning then coming home and relaxing the rest of the day. I would prepare myself a wonderful gourmet lunch or dinner, watch "my Sunday movies" and just snuggle with the dog. Now, life is a series of scheduled for each of the kids, last minute events we did not know about, and noises. Lots of noise. Sometimes it is hard to hear myself think. :) Do not misunderstand me, I love my life with my husband and his three children. But I also loved my single life and sometimes I miss it. :)

This is not a post about wanting a new life; it is about self-care and finding those little moments to breath and just be. It is rather hard to do when you are hunkered in during the eternal Minnesota winters, but oh so easy to do when the weather is warm.  To escape it all, I have a little corner of the porch where I like to sit, read my Victoria Magazine or Country Living UK, while I sip on my tea.  It is my "Calgon take me away" moment.  


In the fall, I attended a barn sale and found this two tiered table and rocking chair. I love their distressed shabby look and reminds me of the French coastal decoration I used to have in my house.  And it is my perfect spot.  I set up my tea and treats-- today's selection is Teavana's Lavender Crème tea and petite little French macarons-- then I also set up a just-bloomed single peony in a single hobnail glass.  The scent... oh, how I wish you could smell this peony.  It is sublime.

Today there is a chill in the air, and I bring a blanket that has seen better days but it is soft as butter, for warming up.  I love the natural music of the outdoors but today I want some music so I play the soundtrack for BBC's Pride and Prejudice softly. Self-care is about creating an experience, and this is what I do.  Create that little haven where I can be me without distractions.  My lovely husband knows I need these moments and he respects them.  


After sipping tea and reading my magazines, I take a deep breath and smile. Ahhh…. I needed this.  I am happier when I have these moments to myself to indulge in reading about other Europe, home décor, artisans, new hobbies, food and gardening, and whatever else I discover in the pages of these magazines.  It is an escape, if only for temporary that is like chicken soup for the soul. 

You can find sharing in these wonderful linky parties: Share Your Cup, Home Sweet Home, Tuesday Cuppa Tea, Garden Like Link-Up, Home and Garden Thursday, Vintage Charm, Tea In The Garden