Monthly Archives: January 2015

In Shades of Gray


“I go to nature to be soothed and healed and to have my senses put in order.”

                                                                          ~ John Burroughs


I don’t ordinarily have a negative reaction to any sort of weather, I pretty much like it all, but the past few days have been unbelievably gloomy, and the other day I found myself feeling a bit low in spirits.  Of course it may not have been the weather’s fault, in fact, it probably wasn’t, but I had a more difficult time finding the beauty in it.  And my joy.

As I sat there sipping my coffee, feeling low and looking out at the gray gloom, I noticed my tree.  I love my tree.  It’s a giant sycamore that my Grandpa planted out in front of the house 70+ years ago, and it fills the entire span of all three of my bedroom windows, like an ancient guardian keeping watch over me.  It has the strangest branches that spike up at odd points and its bark is forever peeling off, giving it an extra barren look, and I found myself thinking “Even Papa Sycamore looks gloomy today.”  But then I began to notice all of the different shades of gray, of not only my tree, but also of all the surrounding trees in the background set against the gray of the sky, and I suddenly thought it looked rather pretty.  I don’t usually find gray a “pretty” color, but for some reason all of those various shades of gray looked pretty to me, and it took me a bit by surprise.  My mood shifted almost immediately.  Interesting how finding the beauty in something can make such a big difference in ones mood.

It made me want to get outside, to be out in nature, to breathe in the cool fresh air, and take in the scents and sights of winter.  It’s more difficult for me to spend time out in nature in the winter because I’m allergic to the cold.  Like actually legit allergic, not in a joking way.  I break out in hives from cold temperatures, and can even have sensitivity to the cold in the freezer section of the grocery store if I linger there for any length of time.  It’s not anything real extreme though and it seems to have improved in recent years, but I still take care when it comes to the cold.  I also have mild asthma which can sometimes be triggered by the cold.  I know, it may seem strange… why the heck do I live in such a cold place when I’m allergic to the cold?!



Haha! I don’t know, maybe because my family is here, my friends, my life.  And maybe because even with the cold winter weather, I still find it incredibly beautiful here.  I just gotta bundle up real good if I wanna go outside.

It wasn’t ‘face hurting’ cold out there the other day though, so after my daughter and I had finished running a few errands, I told her that I wanted to stop by a local nature preserve before going home and get out to explore for a little bit.  So we did just that.  As we were out walking, she mentioned that she was just thinking earlier it would be a perfect day for a nature walk.  I wouldn’t exactly call it perfect, I’d prefer it a bit warmer with at least a little sunshine, but she hates the sun and loves when the weather is gloomy like this, so it was perfect to her.

Well, regardless of whether or not it was perfect weather, it was wonderful to just be outside enjoying nature, and it was exactly what I needed to lift my spirits.  The quote I shared above really expresses it perfectly…  “I go to nature to be soothed and healed and to have my senses put in order.”   Nature truly soothes my soul.  ❤


The preserve we went to was the same place where I snapped this photo of this giant oak tree last autumn when it was in all its autumn splendor.  It looks much different on a gloomy day in winter…


But it was still a lovely sight to see.  Oh, how I love trees.

And I love the water – the view of the lake there was still lovely too…


Even on a dreary day when it’s all frozen over.  And when the lakes here are frozen over, people go out and walk on them – see all the footprints?  Well you wouldn’t catch me out there walking on it – our temps haven’t nearly been cold enough this winter to make me feel like it would be safe.

 As I was busy snapping the above photo, and pondering the dangers of thin ice, my daughter wandered off on her own.  When I caught up to her I found her sitting on a stump along the shore looking out at the lake.


Yes, safely on the shore is more like it.   😉

Although… going ice fishing sounds like fun, we haven’t done that in ages.  Maybe during a winter when the ice is thicker.  Several feet thicker.

Even though it wasn’t real cold out, eventually winter’s chill seeped in, so we made our way back to the car.  On our way back, my daughter looked down and look what she found…


A $5 bill!  Nice!  Gotta love randomly finding money on the ground, maybe it really does grow on trees.  😀

As we were driving out we saw this metal sculpture…


Another 5… it must be a sign!   😉

[Yeah… a sign that I’m weird]

We also came across this interesting sculpture…


You can’t tell from the photo, but there was an interesting optical illusion thing going on with this.  Not sure why it was there, what the story is behind it, or what it has to do with the nature preserve, but it was cool.  I like art.


In all, our little outing didn’t last very long, but it was just long enough to get in a good nature fix, it was so refreshing.  And beautiful…

Even on a gloomy day

beauty can still be found in shades of gray.





✿~Peace & Love~✿

Peace and Love 1

This is One Beautiful Cup of Tea


“Where flowers bloom

so does hope.”

                                                   ~ Lady Bird Johnson


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I may not have flowers blooming in my garden right now, but I’ve got them in my cup!  Thanks to a thoughtful friend who went on vacation and brought me back this lovely little gift from her layover in China.  What an absolute delight to have flowers ‘blooming’ in my tea!


It’s just so amazing to me that this…

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Could turn into this…


Seriously now, how pretty is that?!   ❤

I love tea, and have a whole cupboard filled with all different flavors (peppermint or chai being my favorites), but I’ve never tried, nor even heard of flowering tea.  Apparently, flowering teas have many various health benefits too depending on what’s in them.  I didn’t really care for the flavor of this one though, so after a few sips I set it aside to enjoy for it’s visual beauty rather than its flavor.

We’re in the dead of winter here with spring a looong way off yet, so it sure was nice to have something else ‘blooming’ around here.  😀


Hope there’s something beautiful blooming where you are too…




✿~Peace & Love~✿

Peace and Love 1

Weekly Photo Challenge: Serenity


In the quietness of those few brief moments just before the break of dawn

when the deep, rich color of dark sapphire paints the sky

and the first hint of the new day teases just below the horizon

serenity is found.


© Julie Rehnelt 2015


There was the most beautiful sliver of a crescent moon twinkling in the eastern sky just before the sun came up yesterday morning, it made the moment all the more lovely and serene.  ❤

 Happy Monday, hope you have a wonderful day and week ahead!  May it be filled with beautiful moments of serenity, and with…



✿~Peace & Love~✿

Peace and Love 1

Icy Adventures

 I’m always keeping an eye out for new and interesting adventures, so when I heard about an Ice Castle at a park not too far from home, I thought it might be something cool to go and see.  And it was, literally.  😉

It was a balmy 28 degrees yesterday, and I figured that was about as good as it was gonna get for January in Minnesota, so my daughter and I bundled up and headed over there to check it out.

When we first stepped through the “gates” I was a bit awestruck, it was like walking into a frozen cavern in Antarctica.  The ice formations were absolutely stunning, it took my breath away!  After taking a few moments to just revel in the beauty of it all, I excitedly began snapping photos.

Unfortunately, it was not the best lighting that day for taking pictures with my camera, but I did end up with a few that turned out alright…




I wish I could have truly captured just how gorgeous it really was.

And I also wish I could have gotten a better shot of this next one… looking up was so amazing, the huge icicles looming above our heads were like giant frozen stalactites…


 As we ventured further in though, we were a bit disappointed to realize that it was mostly an open type of area.  In looking at the pictures and information online we were expecting it to be different, more enclosed.  There were a couple of pathways that gave more of a feel of being inside an icy cavern, but they weren’t anywhere near as lovely and inspiring as the entrance was.  There were a few smaller cavities, tunnels, and even an ice slide for children to enjoy, but alas… I was too large to explore them.  My daughter was sad that she was too large as well, and she’s pretty small.  I enjoyed watching all the children enjoy it though, and there were millions of them everywhere, it was wonderful!  They were loving every inch of that place, so filled with wonder and excitement, it was really a delight to see!  I ❤ children.

But because those millions of children were there along with their parents, that made for tons of people, so it was hard to get wider shots without any people in them.  I did manage to get a couple though.  I loved the way this tree was leaning…


Funny, the tree in this one is leaning a bit too…


As a whole, the place seemed more like a fortress of iced walls than a castle to me.  But those walls sure were beautiful…


This next one was taken from outside of the castle.  Evening was falling, so the lighting was even more of a problem for me to get a decent photo, but you can still tell that it was a lovely and impressive wall of ice.  Those trees in the background were quite tall if that helps give any idea of the scale of its size…


At night the ice is all lit up, and as you can probably imagine… the affect is spectacular!  Sadly, I was not able to get any photos that weren’t all blurry, and I hesitate to even share this one that I took from the parking lot outside as we were leaving because it’s a really poor example of how amazing it looked, but I will anyway because the color is so lovely…


Blue is such a beautiful color isn’t it?  ❤

And winter is beautiful too!  I really enjoyed this little Icy Adventure, thanks for letting me share it with you!   😀


I’ll leave you with this music video of Lindsey Stirling performing Crystallize.  It’s one of my favorites, and interestingly… it was filmed at one of these same Ice Castles that they made in Colorado.  If you like violin and dubstep music, it’s well worth the 5 minutes to watch, not to mention the icy scenery is pretty cool…


Enjoy the rest of the weekend!  Stay cool!



✿~Peace & Love~✿

Peace and Love 1

I Will Wait

With my eyes gazing eastward

With my yearning heart too

With faith and with hope

I will wait for you.


© Julie Rehnelt 2015





✿~Peace & Love~✿

Peace and Love 1

Agate Sunrise


Rings of golden amber ignite

as volcanic layers of ancient lavas

catch fire once again

in the radiance of an agate sunrise


© Julie Rehnelt 2015



I don’t know if I’ve ever shared here before about my love for rocks, but knowing how much I love all things nature, it probably comes as no surprise.  Ever since I was a little girl I’ve always delighted in and have been fascinated by everything that makes up our amazing earth, and as I’ve grown into an adult that delight and sense of wonder has stayed with me.  So much beauty, so much interconnection… I just find it all so astounding.  I’m deeply grateful for my five senses that enable me to explore and enjoy it all to the fullest.

Last weekend, my daughter and I took a little drive to the Enchanted Rock Garden where I picked up this beautiful Brazilian agate slice.  I’ve always thought rock slices were cool because it’s so interesting to see the various designs that are of the inside of them, but I’ve never bought one for myself until now.  I just loved this one’s warm rich colors, it reminds me of a caramel mocha latte.  Mmm…

When we got home, I promptly set it on my window ledge so it could catch the light, and the other morning as the sun was coming up I thought I’d try and see if I could capture a photo of it with the sunrise shining through it.  With my humble lens I could only do so much, and you can’t really see all the detail, but believe me this stone is simply gorgeous ~ even without the sun shining through it.

I have tons of rocks and crystals that I’ve collected over the years, my favorite being amethyst, but rose quartz, celestite, moonstone, and larimar are close behind.  I like rocks so much that when a friend of mine recently traveled abroad and asked what souvenir he could bring back for me, I told him a rock.   He brought me back three!  What I didn’t tell him was to steal one from a sacred cave.  Apparently, while he was on a group tour of some sacred cave monastery he witnessed a little boy getting hauled out by security guards when he had tried to take one of the rocks, and while they were busy with that, my friend snatched that same rock and stuffed it into his pocket.  Oh gosh.  Yeah, I’m not quite sure how I feel about the manner in which he acquired it, but I do appreciate his effort ~ risking his meager life and all.  😉

It’s a pretty cool rock too, but I won’t even attempt trying to capture a photo of it to show you because with my camera it wouldn’t look like much.  Oh, but if you want to see some exquisite rock photography, do yourself a favor and check out this guy… Mike Woodward Photography.  His photography is seriously beyond amazing, pure art, I can’t even explain!  I have one of his prints on canvas that my Mom gave me for Christmas last year and I absolutely love it!  I read that he’s going to be in Minnesota this summer for an art fair and I may need to go and meet him.  And to get another one of his pieces.  😀



✿~Peace & Love~✿

Peace and Love 1

Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Weather


In general, I’m not usually a big fan of black and white photography, I rather prefer color, and only certain types of things look good in black and white, in my humble opinion.  But with this challenge being on the topic of weather and with my having so many opportunities to photograph the wintry frost formations on my windows, I thought I’d give it a try.

Of course it would be frost… what else would you expect from me?  😉


Hmm… but I’m not so sure this works very well in black and white.  What do you think?



✿~Peace & Love~✿

Peace and Love 1

If Eyes Could Taste


If eyes could taste,

I’m pretty sure these frosty crystals would be cotton candy flavored…


Absolutely delicious!

We had the most beautiful wintry sunrise yesterday morning, the colors were so vivid, and looking out at it through the frost on my bedroom windows was just… wow!


Such a treat!

As I sat there relishing it, I snapped dozens of photos, but seeing as most of them are quite similar, I’ll just share a couple more…



Sure… it can be extremely cold here, but it can also be extremely beautiful.  And if eyes can taste, mine are savoring that scrumptious beauty.

May your eyes dine on some delectable beauty today too!



✿~Peace & Love~✿

Peace and Love 1

Weekly Photo Challenge: New


It’s so fun to see that this week’s photo challenge is “New.”  Even as cliche’ as it may be with it being the new year and all, I was recently contemplating all things new just the other day, and jotted down a few of my favorite “new” things…


 a new day

new love

a new idea *light bulb!*

a new friend

new snow

a new book – or a new “old” book  😉

a new adventure

a new journal

a new brain cell  😀

new green in the spring

a new path to explore

a new perspective

a new coat of paint

new life

a new hobby

a newly made bed

a new season


All such wonderful, beautiful, and fun ‘new’ things!

But as to a photo for this challenge depicting “new,” what else can I share except yet another frost image captured at the dawning of a new day…


Sorry if I’m being a bit repetitious, but seriously… is there anything more hopeful or more filled with wonderful possibilities than a fresh new day?   As you see… it topped my list of favorite ‘new’ things.   Shocking, I know.  😉

I’ve shared this before (last New Years, I believe), but it’s worth sharing again, and fitting…


“Waking up this morning, I smile:

Twenty-four brand-new hours are before me.

I vow to live each moment fully

and to look at all beings with eyes of compassion.”

 ~ Thich Nhat Hanh



“Twenty-four brand new’ hours…”

May each of yours be filled with purpose, with beauty, and with…



✿~Peace & Love~✿

Peace and Love 1

The Claw of Winter


Water drips

from frozen tips

as temperatures dip

winds whip

creating an icy grip

 the claw of winter.


© Julie Rehnelt 2015


Noticed this interesting ice formation on the branches of our lilac the other day.  Not sure how it happened or what made it form that way, but I thought it looked kinda cool so I snapped a photo of it.   It wasn’t quite the right lighting from this angle, but I had to snap it from this perspective to capture the claw-like shape.

We’ve got some cold temps ahead in our forecast here, so we’ll definitely be feeling the icy grip of ‘the claw of winter.’  Hope you’re staying warm and cozy wherever you are.

And because this scene from Toy Story keeps playing in my head…

“The Claaaaw.”




✿~Peace & Love~✿

Peace and Love 1