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Tonight's What Inspire You Wednesday post comes from my friend, Mary! Mary is one of the coolest, strongest gals I know and is a fellow North Iowa Blogger.

Here's Mary:

When Jen asked me to write about what inspires me, my first and immediate thoughts went straight to the people in my life. I am fortunate to have many people in my life who I look up to, admire, and are constant inspirations to me. But when I sit back and spend time really reflecting on WHAT inspires, not necessarily WHO, the answer is obvious.

Nature. And more specifically the spring season.

I have always felt more grounded, connected and myself when I’m outside. As a child, I played outside with the neighbor kids, tearing around on our bikes playing cops and robbers, digging and mixing in the wet dirt making mud pies, and staying out long after the sun went down in the summer playing tag and night games. Being outside was fun for me growing up.

Now as an adult, I am still drawn to nature. I have chosen a lifestyle and a job that allows me to work outside among green plants and trees. I am a vegetable gardener, spending hours alone in my garden pulling weeds, and tending to the plants I sowed in the springtime.

Being in nature relaxes me, refreshes me, and inspires me.

When we go on vacation, we choose places we can hike, bike, explore and be outside. When I’m sitting by the ocean and watching the waves come in, I feel a calm I find nowhere else. I am inspired by flowing rivers that are in constant motion, ever changing and bodies of water that are homes to many creatures and also provide food to wildlife. Being in nature reminds me I am part of something much, much bigger than myself. I am inspired by the complexity, yet simplicity of nature.

We have so much to learn from observing plants and their way of life is an inspiration. They are resilient and strong. Trees hold their own in wind and storms. Flowers bloom, year after year.  They are themselves in all their glory and imperfections.

The spring season always inspires me. Each year after winter snows and frigid temps, spring comes again. It is consistent. Everything is waking up again. Winter was a chance to relax, restore, rest, and as spring arrives, temperatures become warmer, colorful birds start showing up in your yard, and the sleeping, dormant plants and trees start to show signs of new life, budding at the ends of their branches and peaking green signs of hope through the once frozen and cold brown earth. The plants emerge showing signs of new life, a new fresh outlook, a chance to shine bright again. The days are getting longer, more time to be outside, enjoying the now warming temps. More motivation to dig, plant and sow the Earth.

Spring inspires me to continue to live the life I want to live: to garden, to plant food to feed my family. Spring is an awakening, a refresh, a chance for new life and new ideas. Spring is here and it inspires me.

Be sure to check out Natural Plus Nursery out during their Spring Open House (May 3-11th) and follow Natural Plus Nursery on Facebook and Instagram.

A big thank you to Mary for sharing her thoughts on What Inspires her.

If you would like to do a guest post about what inspires you, email Jen at

Well, here we have it. A good, old fashioned blizzard. I think many of us have childhood memories that resemble today's weather.

My favorite memories of big snowstorms include watching my dad use the snowblower to clean out the driveway, sliding off of huge snowdrifts that were as tall as the machine shed and my mom making fried bread.

I ventured out briefly to help Rob get out of a snowdrift.

My husband has similar childhood memories from blizzards. He said having the wood burner going in the basement in his childhood home was one of his favorite memories. (I think his siblings have said something similar recently.)

Today, our girls got a glimpse of what we remember from childhood. I did send them outside for a little bit and explained that they would need to play on the big drifts that were on the south sides of the buildings. They lasted almost 30 minutes (which isn't too bad in this wind.) I welcomed them in the house with fresh chocolate chip cookies and hot chocolate.

Then we declared it a game afternoon! Our current favorite is Quirkle. We love this game because we can all play it. Our girls are eight and eleven and we have been playing it for about two years. So it is a great game for a wide variety of ages. We often play a quick game on school nights as a fun activity, but today we will be able to get a few games in while we take cover in the warm house. 🙂

Do you have a favorite family game that you play at your house? What do you do when you are "snowed in?"

From the Gravel Road-


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