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March’s Secrets:
The Present Month Project

We just hit the first day of Spring – and we just had another snowfall. They say March comes in like a lion and out like a lamb, but that transition is not always a straight smooth line. March keeps you on your toes, looking for those signs of Spring just around the corner. And then when you see those first green shoots sprouting up through the ground? Pure joy.

March Secrets - Present Month Project

Spring, the beautiful secret you get to re-discover every year in March.

It was actually March that first inspired this entire Present-Month series. Last March, after a brutal winter, there was one particular and unexpected thing that our family loved at that time of year so much that it got my mind whirring on ideas for every time of year. You’ll find out what that particular thing was below in the “Listen” section. :)

So here is March’s Present-Month Project post, all about the unique joys of the current month. As with January and February, the categories of things to enjoy in March will fall into the following categories: TASTE, LISTEN, DO, and LEARN.


Two of my favorite savory foods are in season right now: asparagus and avocados. Delicious!

Asparagus - in season produce for March

— Asparagus is just a pleasure to eat. There are all sorts of beautiful ways to prepare asparagus (wrapped in prosciutto!), but my favorite way is also very simple. Simply cook on a griddle, seasoned with a little olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. I love the texture you can get cooking them this way – tender but crisp, with just slight hints of char. And the seasoning is subtle so you can truly enjoy the flavor of the asparagus. Couldn’t be easier!

Avocado - in season March

— Avocados are simply amazing – and one of my husband’s favorite foods. Often described as a “superfood”, there are all sorts of great things about avocados. But for my purposes, the two simple things I’m excited about: 1.) they taste amazing and 2.) they are in season. Open up some ripe avocados and toss in your salad, top on your eggs, mash in guacamole, slice on your sandwich, cube in your burritos, spread on your burgers – the list goes on and on. And while in the US avocados are generally used in savory foods, other parts of the world often use them in sweet foods. And let me tell you — a freshly made cold avocado bubble tea, such as I’ve had in a little mom-and-pop Vietnamese market, is a luxurious delicious treat on a warm day.


— This is the one that inspired this whole series. Last March, we were still recovering (and shoveling) from blizzard after blizzard, and were eagerly anticipating a Spring that seemed to be tauntingly slow in its approach. Unrelatedly, I was also exploring the free audio book library online, Librivox. I found one of my childhood favorite books, The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett, and we started listening to it as a family whenever we were driving somewhere.

Secret Garden - Best listen for March

It was so perfect.

Even if you’ve read it before (you probably have), it’s worth another listen at beginning of spring. Consider: The main character, Mary Lennox, has just moved to England’s cold and windswept moors at the end of winter. Having lived in the sticky tropics, she has never experienced the onset of Spring. And having been spoiled, she’s has never really had to wait for anything she wanted. She plays outside in the cold wind, and keeps hearing about Spring, wondering what it will be – and then as it begins, she immerses herself in learning how to care and nurture for the secret garden she discovered hidden on the manor grounds. It is the perfect listen for March. All the eager anticipation for Spring, and then the joys of the beautiful growing things, and the renewal and refreshing of the children in the book … it could not be more timely than to start listening to it in March!

The audio recording on Librivox is excellent and free: The Secret Garden Ver. 2. (There is more than one audio recording of the Secret Garden on Librivox, but version 2 is the best.) It’s fun to listen to as a family, all of us including my husband enjoyed it. It also gave us the opportunity to discuss with the kids that the ‘magic’ the children talk about making and fixing things is just pretend, that it’s actually God who creates the world and who is the architect of Spring. The story is a beautiful classic, and March is the perfect time of year to listen to it – and the narrators do an excellent job. There are free apps to listen to Librivox books on your smart phone, or you can listen online. Either way, start giving it a listen in March, and enjoy!

Listen to The Secret Garden - March's Secrets - Seasonal Activities


— Spring cleaning!! Spring organizing!! Spring decorating!! You know that amazing feeling when you can finally have the windows open, bringing in fresh breezes, sunshine, and the sounds of chirping birds? I love it. And then when you turn around from that window, and see the dust and mess from a snuggled-in winter home … well, it’s not hard to see why spring-cleaning is a thing. Digging in and doing a lot of the deeper cleaning that might not get done as often, or more deeply organizing parts of the home that tend to accumulate clutter, or swapping out heavier winter linens and décor for lighter breezier spring options – all are work, but make the home so much more pleasant.
March - Spring Cleaning inspiration from GardenmisSpring scents can also help freshen up the home. Here is a lovely quote on a lavender sachet from a handmade shop I love, Gardenmis.

I’ve seen various types of guidelines and check-lists for spring cleaning and organizing a home, but living in apartments often gives me different types of spaces than a traditional house, and I find that the division of tasks often doesn’t fit my space. Plus, home to home will vary in particular needs anyway. So, instead of following someone else’s step-by-step plan, I plan to go around our home and take notes: What areas need a deep clean? Where are places that are clutter magnets? Of the clutter – what categories of things need to be assigned homes, and what types of things need to be gotten rid of? What are spaces that could be better utilized if they were reorganized? And so forth. Once I have a list of tasks, I can divide them up into manageable chunks that I can fit into my schedule. And then it’s hello spring-time indoors as well as outdoors!

Spring decor from Peony & ThistleA beautiful paper garland from the handmade shop Peony & Thistle. Wouldn’t this make the inside feel so spring-timey? Yes, I think so too.


— It’s time to think about gardening! Exactly when to start what plants will vary by location – the end of frost here is much later than down south — so learn what types of plants you can start where you are. Or, if you’re like me and don’t have any outdoor space, learn about what types of plants can do well indoors! Herbs are a great choice. For the first time, I have plants in our home that have been growing for a year. I’m so excited! And I’m planning to start more now that the warmer weather is coming – a little herb garden, as well as just pretty succulents and greenery to freshen up the apartment. I always considered myself to have a black thumb, but I’ve been learning more and more about how to keep my plants alive, and I love having them in the apartment, especially since we don’t have a yard. There is something amazing about seeing the way God’s creation works, and the plant that can grow from such a small seed. This is the time of year to get into it, so check out some books, find a good gardening site, visit local greenhouses, and learn about how and when to get your garden growing – whether a backyard vegetable garden, or flower beds, or window boxes, or indoor container plants!

Vintage Gardening Books from BookBundle - March Seasonal FindsBeautiful vintage gardening books from the vintage shop, BookBundle.

March Seasonal Produce and more - Present Month Project

So, from asparagus and avocados, to listening to the excellent free audio book of the Secret Garden, to working on spring cleaning, to planning your garden, there are so many things to enjoy this during time while March is easing us into spring.

Do you have anything you would add to the list of things to enjoy in March? Leave your thoughts in the comments below, I’d love to hear from you!

The real reason it is nice to have a smart phone..

I’ve never had a smart phone before – and I really wasn’t trying to get one. I kind of figured it would be a long time until I had a smart phone, and that was fine with me. But when we needed to get new Massachusetts phone numbers, we shopped around and it was actually cheaper to get a data plan for the number of lines we needed – and the smart phones were free! Sweet.

And now I get to enjoy the real reason I wanted a smart phone:


I went on a quick trip up to Maine this weekend, and I just loved having Instagram to take pictures along the way. My only camera is my nice DSLR, but honestly, I don’t need every photo I snap to be an 18 megapixel photo. I didn’t have a point and shoot, so I’m definitely enjoying using Instagram for that. Here are some shots from this weekend…

Are you on Instagram? If so, leave your username below so that I can follow you! (My username is: FlourishCafe)

Burn, burn, burn!

Well, at last the burn ban has been lifted!! Remember that fire pit project we did a while back? It’s been a really dry summer here, so there has been a burn ban in effect ever since then … but at long last we had some rain and were finally able to use it! We grilled some polish sausages, and had s’mores … yeah, really healthy, huh? But delicious. ;) Since I wasn’t able to post pictures of what it looked like with fire in it before, I just wanted to show you how it came out – it sparkled soooo beautifully as the fire danced behind all the openings in the sides:

Plus, it was just a really easy fire to manage. It was contained, but with all the air coming in from all around, it required no stoking or anything to keep it going. We loved it! If you missed the post where we gave a fully tutorial on how to build you own, you can click here to see that.

Which do you enjoy more when you have a fire – the ambiance? Or the s’mores? ;)
Leave your thoughts and comments below, I love to hear from you!

Date your husband! 4 ideas for fun low-cost dates

Hi all! Today I’m excited to share a guest post from my good friend, Debbie Sutherland. My husband and I have known her and her family for quite some time, and always enjoy getting to see their lovely family when we visit New England. Debbie runs a blog on fun and frugal living, and today’s post that she is sharing with us is all about frugal nature-themed date ideas. Love it. I’m married to my guy, but I still want to date him! Thanks for the ideas, Debbie!

Going out on a date with a loved one does not have to cost a lot of money. As a matter of fact, some of the best memories I have of my husband and I are outings that cost us very little to no money at all. Going on a FUN DATE should be just that, FUN and exciting not full of worries as to how to pay for it. – OR the regrets of money spent once the outing is over.

Get creative and use nature as your spring board when you plan your outings. Nature has so much to offer with its awesomeness and beauty of each season.

Here is the first part, of many, on how my husband and I spend our summer days, all while staying on a budget- and “HAVING FUN”!

Watching The Sun Set

As simple as this may seem, it is my favorite thing to do with my husband. There is something about choosing that special spot to watch the sun set with the one you love, that simply never grows old. My husband and I love to go down to the ocean and pick a nice quiet spot to have a picnic dinner to watch the sun set. It is just so peaceful with no distractions. It is a time that we can connect and enjoy each other without the business of life.

Nature Walks

Another really simple but wonderful way to spend time with someone you love to be with is to go on a Nature Walk. This is such a peaceful time. Bring the binoculars to spot that unique bird or the deer in the woods. Take time to take in the beautiful nature that is all around you. Enjoy taking pictures of flowers and unique bridges and more. I took the picture above, last year, while walking with my husband. I just love the way the bridge was reflecting on the water to make a complete “Eye Into Nature”. The walks can be brief or take several hours, either way, it is just so peaceful and relaxing.


Kayaking is another wonderful time spent with a loved one. Once you own a kayak, we bought ours from Craigslist, it costs nothing. Kayaking puts you up close and personal with nature. My husband and I own a tandem kayak allowing us to visit the whole time. We bring snacks and drinks in the kayak, and go on some great outings. We like to choose the end of the day or first thing in the morning when the animals are very active.

Here is a photo I shot while kayaking of a swan. Look how beautiful his reflection is. This is one of many photos I have of beautiful creatures we see along our kayaking adventures. We see turtles, deer, birds, frogs, rabbits, and more almost every time we go. I have albums filled with beautiful shots like the one above. Just another fun way to spend time with your loved one without the distractions all around you. Time to “just be”.

Finding New Bike Paths

Another one of our favorite things to do is to find a new bike path. Each path has new beauty to it, one more beautiful than the next. We love finding new bike paths and taking on the challenge of riding them. Biking is a wonderful way to enjoy exercise and time together while enjoying the breath taking beauty. Here is a picture I shot of the Bristol Bike Path (Bristol, RI) that we love to ride. At the end of this path is a State Park that runs along the Atlantic Ocean. We often find ourselves at this bike path on a nice warm summer evening ending it with a picnic dinner watching the waves and the sun set.

-Debbie Sutherland

All great ideas! Be sure to check out Debbie’s blog, Frugal Living and Having Fun, for other budget friendly posts, coupons and ideas. :)