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From the Editor ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
I was having a conversation about self-care the other day. Not indulgence, but more the practice of caring for yourself well. Too often, I seem to wait until the dial has moved far below empty on the emotional tank, and my soul is practically screaming out for attention. Can you relate?
I really want to focus more on “topping off” – making sure those things that fill my soul and make me the best ME are a regular part of my everyday life. Not just waiting to be used as a desperate lifeline.
––––––––––––––––––––– Drinking with Chickens
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By: Kristin Dunker
“Drinking with Chickens” (inspired by the Instagram account of the same name) was something my husband and I established years ago as a social evening of snacks and libation when we ran Ingleside, our Bed & Breakfast. Our guests, and sometimes friends and neighbors too, would gather at dusk around the picnic table set amongst the backyard gardens while our hennies would free range in the adjacent fenced lawn area. If you've never done it for any length of time, watching chickens do their chicken-y thing is the most relaxing activity. It always lowered our collective blood pressure as we laughed at them busily scratching for bugs, making their soothing happy chicken noises, jumping for leaves and grasses that were taller than their heads, chasing each other around, and endless other silly antics. Sometimes the friendlier ones would hop up on the railing beside the table to see if we had any good snacks to offer.
It soon turned into a much-anticipated event with our guests who enjoyed sharing in this little slice of our urban-micro-farm-life at the end of a long day. They would mention it in their reviews, which then other potential guests would read, and soon folks were checking in so excited for our unique feathered-friend social hour. Some would even bring along their favorite wine and snacks to share!
I recently came across this little journal entry I wrote in May 2019 after kicking off another season of DwC:
Tonight was the first "Drinking with Chickens" of the summer. We had such a nice time with our Room #1 guests from North Carolina here to celebrate their 29th wedding anniversary, and our Room #2 guest in the process of relocating from Louisiana. We poured everyone a cold glass, the afternoon softened into dusk - and dusk eventually bowed to nightfall. It was such a beautiful evening spent learning about each other and the things that brought us all to be at the same place at the same time on a Friday in the Village in May.
 Passions, population groups, Paris; taking risks, travel, time management... the conversation covered a lot of ground!
And as is often the case, we left Drinking with Chickens headed in our various directions: the early-to-rise-ers scuttling off to bed, the night owls headed out for a late dinner, with more friends than we had when we came.
Wanderlust –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
Whether you're an armchair traveler by nature, or just someone (like me) who is in a season where international travel isn't very easy or convenient right now, I wanted to share this Instagram account that I stumbled upon a while ago and have absolutely loved following. You'll find their feed overflowing with stunning photography of the Scottish Highlands. 57 Nord is a collection of short-term rental properties that are now on our short list of places to stay (specifically, Hill House) the next time we visit Scotland.
Image credit: 57 Nord
 ––––––—–––––––––––––––––––– In the Garden
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This is such an exciting time in the gardening season! 
We've had a wonderful harvest of lettuce so far. I should have done a few succession plantings upon reflection...but there's always next year, right?! One thing I do every March is to leave several patches of the lettuce un-thinned and use it young and sweet, by the fistful. Then in other areas, I'll thin and transplant sprouts at about 4" tall which then turn into their own head of lettuce in time. My favorite variety is Romaine - because it can take the heat and last well into the season without wanting to bolt or turn bitter like many types of lettuce at the first sign of summer heat. 
We decided to go with Sun Sugar grape tomatoes for our lone tomato plant this year. Right around the first of April we found it at a local garden center, and while it's needed some babying through a few cool nights, it's growing quite robust with several clusters of fruit already hanging heavy on its branches.
In the flower world, the Salvia I planted last fall is really the only thing blooming in my fenced garden. I'm grateful for the cheerful color it adds this time of year even though it's not a great cut flower! My first batch of Chinese Forget-Me-Nots is just sending up flower stalks, and the peonies are cut and blooming on my coffee table. I have fewer peony buds this year, sadly, as they are my very favorite flower of the spring. I'm not sure what kept them from blooming profusely as they usually do. Any ideas? 
Elsewhere, I plopped a few irises around the perimeter of the lawn from a neighbor in October, and they all not only made it, but bloomed over the past few weeks! I'm not typically an iris fan, but since moving here to deer paradise, I have taken a new affinity to varieties I used to not give the time of day – simply because they possess the all-important quality of being able to survive.
In dahlia news, I have been pleasantly surprised, nay, shocked that the majority of the tubers I dug are sprouting! They all caught mildew in storage this year somehow and were looking absolutely terrible. But I listened to the advice of a friend, wiped them down with Clorox wipes, and gave them a chance to recover. Miraculously, they seem to be just fine!
Two new dahlia varieties were added to my line-up, despite swearing that all I really need is a full bed of “Cafe au Lait” to be happy in life. The irony of my dahlia bed is: I have this one variety I accidentally brought with me from Ingleside. I've never liked it. Short stems, short vase life, more purple than gentle light lavender, just not a great picker… But thanks to Murphy's Law, it has always been a stellar performer, while my favorites are measly specimens in comparison. I left this purple tuber in the ground over winter last year. Half hoping it would die of it's own accord - though I suppose that would've still made me a murderer by neglect. However. The darn thing not only lived through a -5 degree cold freeze in a raised bed but is up and luscious and has buds already on it's 12" tall bushy self - while all the others I put back in the ground April 1st are currently mere nubs. *Insert massive eyeroll here.*
Fingers crossed that in the next month or so I'll have blooming Sweet Peas, Forget-Me-Nots, Love-in-a-Mist, Zinnias, Cosmos, and Bachelor Buttons to pick! I should also find out the identity of a mystery patch of volunteers I allowed to grow. My money is on Larkspur…
A Gentle Reminder ––––––––––––––––––––––––– 
Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.
-Leonardo Da Vinci
–––––––—–––––––––––––––– The 5 Senses Quiz
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Have you heard of Gretchen Rubin, best-selling author of The Happiness Project? Recently she launched a new book called Life in Five Senses…I've yet to read it, but it's in my queue! As I've listened to her talk about it on her podcast, she mentioned a quiz that she and her team created that helps you figure out what your most neglected sense is, and then gives suggestions on how to improve your experience with that sense in everyday life. 
I was intrigued, especially as an HSP who has a very heightened, often overwhelming relationship with all of my senses. The premise is to learn to experience your days more fully by tapping into the senses we naturally tend to let go by the wayside. I found it both interesting and insightful, and thought you might too!
Quote –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
“Slow down. Find peace in little moments. Learn what you love, fill your life with it, and watch yourself come alive.”
— Sonya Matejko
–––––––—–––––––––––––––––––– Comfort Food
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As entertaining season is knocking on our doors, I thought I would share one of my favorite non-recipes that is as easy as can be to throw together, takes only three ingredients, and is always a crowd pleaser.

Stir a tub of mascarpone cheese until smooth. Spread onto a serving board or spoon into a bowl. Top with blueberry preserves and gently swirl. Serve with graham crackers to dip. So decadent, simple, fresh, and delicious.


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Across the Miles –––––––––––––––––––––––––––
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When my first niece was born, we developed a strong, sweet bond with her - even across the nearly 300 miles that separated us.
Our times spent together were always so very sweet and filled with memory-making, and our times apart, always so very long and lonely. It was after her little sister was born, that I discovered Friendship Lamps (which we call "Miss-You Lamps"). Essentially, they are a pair of light-up devices connected to each other via wifi. When one person touches their lamp, the other person's lights up! When the other person touches theirs back, it changes color. Even though my nieces were very young at the time, they were still able to understand what these long-distance connectors meant and how to use them. Whenever they were missing us, they could press their lamp and we would see it here on ours. Of course, it worked the other way too, so whenever we were thinking of them, we could let them know in real time.
Now, 6 or 7 years later, we still use and enjoy our lamps often. I love how connected it makes us feel to them...especially during these formative years when we want the girls to learn just how much we care about them and can still be a part of their lives, even when we're apart! My sister says that it means a lot that they have an easy outlet to express that they are sad and missing people they love, and then to see it reciprocated. It's also opened up the opportunity for them to talk with their parents about big feelings surrounding loving people from afar.
The company has different styles to choose from, and even a couple picture frames that act in the same manner. I can confidently say that this has been one of my favorite gifts to ever give and Friendship Lamps would be absolutely perfect for friends, siblings, partners, grandchildren, anyone you'd like to let know that you're thinking about them while apart!

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–––––––—–––––––––––––––––––––– Shop Small
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Allen's Scottish Shortbread
Allen's Scottish Shortbread, a family business based in my home state of Virginia, began by selling trays of their delicious cookies at local farmers markets. They started small, and eventually worked their way up to serving grocery chains and small gourmet markets. Their largest customers now include the likes of Whole Foods, Fresh Market, and Harney and Sons. Customers can also still shop for their complete line of products on their website below. 
Using wife Laura's heirloom recipe, the shortbread is comprised of four natural ingredients, like real butter and King Arthur Brand Flour. They also use Harney and Sons Tea blends for some of the varieties. Together, they create a one-of-a-kind flavor experience that pairs tradition with consistency. 
The Allen Scottish Shortbread family especially loves when they get the opportunity for their treats to be a part of special memory-making events like weddings and showers!
     This gourmet shortbread pairs well with tea, coffee and any other confectionary – it also makes a unique and thoughtful gift.
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Thank you for joining me for another issue of The Zephyr! If you have a beautiful image to share, or maybe a poem that you've written – an essay about summertime, or a small business we should all know about, please send them to: kjdunker@icloud.com. My ability to keep this little slice of hygge going out monthly is based largely on your artistic contributions! I can't wait to see what you send in. ♥
See you next month, friends.

Be well,
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