Living Life in Full Bloom and a Giveaway

from my garden, peonies in full bloom

Moving to a new community is like tending a newly planted garden, it takes time and patience. Groundwork is key, you need a plan, a good plan. From my desk in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, where I live part of the year, I travel in and out of websites, adding to a list of all the things I want to see and do, the kind of things to help me get a feel for the heartbeat of the area  I call home in the USA…the other half of the year. I have 93 items on my list to date and they all have a common theme, discovery.

My list is comprehensive and it will take time. I need to get fitter before I climb a mountain, but I can kayak in the surrounding lakes and ponds. To my list, I have added.. shop in the local farmers markets, rumble through antique shops, pick blueberries, take a writing class, attend a town meeting, research the history of Tahilla Farm through the Historical Society, join in the local garden tours, attend performances at the local playhouse…I like long and full lists. Each discovery is as rewarding as I imagined. I tick each one off my list, move onto the next, and look for new ones to add. My expat life has served me learn to look at life with a curious eye. 

One of the tasks on my "to do" list was to attend an author's book talk at our local independent book store, Toadstool Bookshop. I love this bookshop! As luck would have it, my first talk was exceptional and memorable.  In the author I saw a kindred spirit, someone who would totally understand my list..I love when that happens.

 via Organic Gardening
The woman behind the book is the talented Elizabeth Murray, a gardener, artist, lover and spirit-weaver who offers 120 daily practices to deepen ones passion, creativity and relationships. It did not take me long to gather that these are practices she is abundantly gifted in.

Some of you may be familiar with Elizabeth's story around Monet's Gardens. In 1985, she packed her bags and left it all behind to live in Monet's Gardens and assist with the garden renovation. She has written two bestselling books, Monet's Passion: Ideas, Inspiration, and Insights from the Painter's Gardens and Cultivating Sacred Space: Gardening for the Soul and a host of others since then. Her story is a fascinating one, she is one determined woman, she is a full bloomer in her own right.

I love a book that inspires me, one that makes me take pause and consider the path I am on and where I am going. Better yet, if a book leads me down new paths. Elizabeth takes you down four pathways..GARDNER, ARTIST, LOVER and SPIRIT-WEAVER..with purpose, creativity, imagination and celebration. She wants you to fall in love with life and bring blessings into each new day. Her book guides you in ways to do just that. She tells you about the FULL BLOOMERS in her life and provides unique LIFE MAPPING tools to help you create your own individual life map and find your NORTH STAR. 

This is one of those perfect GIFT books for the person who is looking for that "extra something" in their lives. It is 120 pages of inspiration, you can't beat that! It is a perfect book for the Brown Paper Book Club!

During the book talk, I thought of you and purchased two extra autographed books for a Giveaway at Collage of Life. All you need to do to enter, is leave a comment or write to me at I will enter your name for you and draw the winners on July 16th at 6:00pm (eastern standard time-USA).

from my full bloom

There are many men and women who continuously inspire me. One is my mother, Alma, who at 79 is still living an artistic full bloom, with pizazz.  She has been painting for as long as I can remember and is a vibrant force within the Art Colony where she paints and lives in Gloucester, Massachusetts. If you happen upon a woman in the Rocky Neck area, dressed in vibrant colours, wearing a hat, smiling and most likely laughing along the way, even if it is to herself…that is my mother. It also explains a lot about me. ;)

Alma, my full bloom, in lilac
and still painting at 79.

Outside my mother's studio, one of her paintings,
 a home by the sea.

Another who inspires me is a dear friend, Evelyn, in Sydney, Australia. Evelyn  shares updates with me on what she is painting in her private studio, "La Maison du Bateau", a boathouse on Willoughby Bay. I love her work, she is an amazingly talented artist who has a gift with a paint brush.  Evelyn graciously allowed me to share the painting below, a work in progress, inspired by a recent tropical holiday. Evelyn lives her life in full bloom, elegantly.

Evelyn looks for inspiration in her travels.

memories of a tropical holiday

and lastly a full bloomer of a different nature.
Some of you may remember our resident porcupine, Priscilla.
I wrote about her here.
We recently spied Priscilla with a little porcupette who
I have nicknamed "Pia".
How sweet is that!
I imagine Priscilla was in full bloom for at least 
seven of the previous months.

Priscilla and her little porcupette, Pia.

Would you like to know more about living a life in full bloom?
You can visit Elizabeth's website here
leave a comment on this post
or write to me at

With that...
Priscilla, Pia and I send you warm wishes 
from Tahilla Farm for a wonderful week!

Priscilla and Pia


  1. This book looks wonderful! I'd love to win it! Also, Jeanne, e-mail your address to me when you can, I owe you a postcard!

  2. Oh my, Pia is adorable! I do really like porcupines, as long as they leave my garden and pets alone!

    1. Yes…there is that side of it Paula. At the moment, I am at war with our woodchuck. I have not bestowed a name on him…notice how I referred to it as "him". I have to think on that one…I managed to give all our animlas female names. What does that mean???

  3. How wonderful and generous of you. How amazing of her to plant herself in Monet's garden, a favorite place when I lived in Paris.

    Here in Florida, my garden addition is a large black Racer snake, welcome as it eats of mice and such. I'm saying this to convince myself that I'm on the slow path of being a Floridian gardener. Living overseas has been wonderful preparation for this Bostonian to look at Florida as a new land, a new adventure.

    1. I saw the photo on your FB page Joan…yikes. I think I will let you keep the snake. Have you thought of a name yet? :)

  4. This book looks great and reminds me of YOU.


    1. I take that as a very high compliment Glenda, thank you!! xx

  5. For Carolyn G.

    Hi Jeanne:

    Please enter me in the draw for Elizabeth Murray's book, Living Life in Full Bloom. I am a huge fan of books comprised of daily readings and practices!

    In two weeksI will be back in Spain resuming MY expat life!


  6. For Farm Gal in VA

    Hi Jeanne,

    Thanks for your blog post today. Who wouldn't want to know more about living a life in full bloom?! Though I am neither a gardener nor an artist, Elizabeth's book sounds exciting. Your mother is such an inspiration.....I think we need to meet her!

  7. Jeanne, your mother is beautiful. I want to live life in full bloom. I'm not sure I'm there yet so yes, I could use the book. It's such a pretty book and a beautiful post.

  8. Jeanne,
    We all need to be reminded daily of our life purpose, whether it be in our love of creativity in all it's' forms, our connection with others through community, or just a personal journey that we strive to fulfill. This beautiful book certainly seems to provide all of this and more....and I would love to have it next to my bed as my inspiration!! Saying that, "Collage of Life" and your inspirational ponderings on daily life are more than enough for live your life with an energy and enthusiasm that I continually admire!! ( (Thankyou and sending wishes from our wonderful family holiday in Croatia!!)

  9. Jeanne, Having never seen a porcupine (only echidnas here of course) getting to see a mother and baby is amazing. I understand they may not be so desirable to have in the garden but they sure look cute.
    Your book giveaway is incredibly generous and interesting. I recently turned 50 and think this may be the start of my time to bloom. I take great inspiration from all the women everywhere doing the things they love and taking full advantage of every opportunity life offers.
    Enjoying life at Tahilla Farm vicariously from the fireside.
    Thanks as always, Jennifer

  10. From Julia D…

    Dear Jeanne,

    I would love a chance to win the book "Living Life in Full Bloom". Please enter my name and thanks for your beautiful and inspiring posts.

    Julia D.

  11. From JudyMac (edited letter)

    Hi, Jeanne
    Wonderful to see you are having so much fun “blooming” in New Hampshire. J I believe I won a book from you, a little cookbook, back in my early days of reading your blog, so it would certainly be a surprise if I won again …… but nevertheless you can put my name in the pot.

    Best regards, JudyMac

  12. Jeanne, I love seeing your mother at long last, and with a sprig of my favorite lilac tucked in her pocket….what a beautiful lady, and still so active in her community and with her art. I'm very familiar with Gloucester having spent a lot of time there when we lived in NH and MA. I would love for you to share some of her paintings with us some day.

    Meanwhile, the book giveaway is most generous - it would be a beautiful addition to the nightstand, please add my name to the hat for a chance to win a copy.

    Hope New Hampshire is beautiful this Summer - we are still hoping to make it up there but having just returned from the Baltic and Russia we are having to take time to recuperate!!!!!

    Happy days - hugs, Mary

  13. Oh, I would love to win "Living Life In Full Bloom"-- such a lovely book. Thank you for your generous gift of this give away...

  14. What a perfect giveaway Jeanne! I loved her first books and can only imagine this one is just as wonderful! You are so generous!

  15. Thank you for offerring a lovely book...would love to win it.

    1. Would love to know how to contact you if you do. Could you send me an email? Thx you. ;)

  16. For Kathy (BF)

    Hello Jeanne,

    Would love to be considered for your book give away - it sounds like something that would be quite helpful in my life at present.

    Thanks and have a great day.


  17. What a thoughtful and generous giveaway Jeanne. I loved listening to Elizabeth's definition of "courage" in her video...what a beautiful, interesting, and soulful lady. I'm so impressed how you do things and are so worldly. I feel torn with all the things I'd like to go do but with working full time I feel like I have so little time to be able to accomplish them and my list, well is just getting longer. I find myself saying: " Some day...In five years , when I retire"....this bud wishes to develop into a full bloom....maybe this book is just the encouragement I need to start checking things off my list. two of your recommend books: Mr. Owita's Guide to Gardening and The Hundred Foot Journey and loved them both

  18. Thank you for expanding my horizons via your blog. And I'd love to win the book give away!

    Barbara W

  19. P.S. to my earlier comment: Please email me your address so I can send you the postcard I have for you. I very much appreciated the one you sent me from Vietnam. Leslie in Portland, Oregon

  20. Alma, soul in Spanish, alma de casa , the soul of the house, which is what one is called as a mother in Spain...

  21. Jeanne, how fabulous this book sounds. Thank you so much for bringing it to our attention! I am so inspired by what you have said about it.
    xx Sunday

  22. What an incredibly inspired outlook on life! I would love to own such a book. Thank you for posting her video. Such a lovely person.

  23. From Ceri ..

    Hi Jeanne
    I've been trying to comment on your Blog and have tried on a couple of devices but it hasn't worked. And I haven't received your latest blog by email yet -- I found it from your Instagram post. I just wonder whether you have any idea why I'm having this difficulty --- something with being in the UK? I've checked Spam and that's not it.
    Anyway what I wanted to say is how much I am enoying your Instagram photos and this latest Blog. It is so generous of you to share your life at Tahilla like this and I really appreciate it. I love dipping into a life which is many ways so similar to my own and yet so different and I really look forward to watching how your renovation plans develop and what else you discover in and around Tahilla over the summer.
    I loved your photo of your mother -- its clear where you get your joie de vivre from!

    I have also started using Instagram and occasionally put on something which amuses me -- its a lovely connection.
    Sending you warmest wishes from a warm but gloomy London where our summer festival and out door opera season is in full swing so a fun weekend in prospect.
    Ceri x

  24. From Lesley

    Dear Jeanne

    Would love to win your book. There are some books which come into your life at the right moment. This one seems to be one. If I don’t win will have to purchase it anyway.

    Love the pic of your Mum. The beauty which emanates from the photo is what I would like to capture in myself and have to say it is a work in progress. The journey is long but worth every step of the way, particularly when you are further inspired by gems which cross your path. I am a gardener and sadly my painting has been limited to a few years china painting. I am pursuing other creative aspects. I miss your Cashmere Jeans blog as just loved your take on people and how they present themselves. Your new home in the country must be putting that inner glow on your smile.

    Best wishes

    Lesley ( Australia)

  25. From Pam G (edited)
    I would love to win a copy of Elizabeth Murray's book.
    I am also in awe of your mom who looks wonderful and obviously is living a full life!

    I do love your beautiful farm pictures.

  26. From Kristin F

    Oh my Jeanne, what a delightful time you must have had to hear Elizabeth Murray speak about her newest book. I have read three of her books, each more than once, borrowed from the library and would be thrilled to win the drawing for this newest piece of her writing. An avid organic gardener working to provide friendly host plants for bees, butterflies and birds, I am always looking for new writing about the topic that is one of my passions.

    Thanks for the offer to participate in the drawing.

  27. From Mary WP

    Dear Jeanne,

    I would be delighted if you would enter my name for the Living Life in Full Bloom giveaway (how generous of you).

    I adore the photo of Pia, the baby hedgehog and also of your mother – so beautiful.

    So glad to hear you are enjoying your transition to a (partial) new life.


  28. I enjoy all your lovely postings so very very much indeed.
    Love and hugs and smiles across the miles. Love Jeanne♥

  29. Your long and full list makes me a bit disconcerting. For me it doesn't mean a full bloom life to tally such a list. Sorry, Jeanne..I believe that's not real you.

    1. Interesting comment Rena. I hope you are enjoying your new home and are settled in…a full bloom life for you now that you have moved? I hope so! Best wishes…from the real me. ;)

  30. It looks like a fantastic book...I find myself just beginning to bloom...over fifty and with an empty nest! Your mother is an incredible inspiration! Hope you are having a "blooming" week! xoxo

  31. how generous of you to share! glad you are getting the chance to check some things off your list this summer.

    your peonies and iris are lovely. seems like forever since they finished blooming here - well, it was May. thanks for sharing your porcupine, too. not a critter that I have ever seen! keep enjoying your summer.

  32. I LOVE this post Jeanne. I may not comment as frequently as I once did... But I always read. I see that beauty certainly runs in your family. What a delightful book~ please add me to your list. Summer greetings from ME.

  33. From Mary Ann S
    I will be traveling to France later this year and hope to visit Monet's gardens. A preview in this fabulous book would be wonderful.

    Mary Ann S

  34. Hi Jeanne, hope you got my comments and entry?.. Another great book recommendation .. thanks so much. Author Elizabeth sure picked a perfect title for her heartfelt book.. "Living Life in Full Bloom" - so often we get caught up with the snares of life and don't appreciate each special moment.. She opened my eyes, (just from that video except) to seizing the moment - with both hands! No matter what that is, totally appreciating each time you bud, each occasion your petals fall off, each day your bloom withers.. I must order it, if i'm not the chosen one.. Thanks for insight again.. enjoy budding in your new locale.. hugs Jean

  35. I always learn something new reading your blog, whether it be a new author, book, or a new way to experience the world. Thank you.

  36. I love the idea of continuously blooming.

  37. Wonderful post. Thank you for sharing that. xo, N.G.

  38. What a wonderful sounding book! And thank you for all your thoughts and writing.

  39. I think I'd be ok with a porcupine only because we don't have a dog, but that particular animal hasn't shown up around our yard, only a 'possum and groundhogs in the past. What a dream, to live & work in Monet's garden. I hope to go back there someday. I could really use some daily inspirations to bring my creativity in the garden and sewing into full bloom. I would love to be a painter, but the efforts so far have been dismal to say the least. This book would be a wonderful gift for my daughter and my sister too. Hoping I win, but if not, it's only short drive to the Toadstool Bookstore in Keene! :D

  40. I just NOW realized I am NOT getting your POSTS!I will sign up again!
    Enter me for the book...........P R E T T Y PLEASE!
    Love PIA and her MAMA!

  41. Coming to this as a somewhat buttoned up Brit, I found myself strangely moved by her presentation. We are the same age. We could not be more different. I'd like to know more so if I don't win, I will probably buy the book anyway. I visited Giverny many years ago and still have the coffee cup and saucer that I bought there.How interesting to know that she worked in the garden.

  42. From Peggy Ann (edited)

    Hi Jeanne,

    MY name is Peggy Ann and I just came across your blog from July 8, 2014 when I googled "collage of life". Your writing struck a chord in me and I decided to connect with you. I would like to add my name to your list for the "giveaway".

    Warmest regards,

    Peggy Ann

    P.S. Your mom looks like an amazing woman.

  43. From Mary Ann

    I will be traveling to France later this year and hope to visit Monet's gardens. A preview in this fabulous book would be wonderful.

    Mary Ann


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