Archive for Inspirations – Page 2

The Opulent Peony

The opulent peony has been grown for health and beauty for thousands of years. It’s the floral symbol of China, where its roots are used to treat menstrual cramps and asthma. Chinese paintings of peonies are hung in homes and offices for good fortune. It also symbolizes wealth, honor, and success. With its luxuriant blooms and aromatic flowers, the peony is a symbol of romance and a happy marriage.

In Greek mythology, a mortal physician by the name of Paeon was given a peony flower by Leto, the mother of Apollo. He was a student of Asclepius, the god of medicine and healing. When the god became jealous of Leto’s attention to Paeon, Zeus saved the man from death by turning him into the peony flower.

Each spring, I look forward to the opening of these stunning blooms on my tree peony, pictured here. What’s your favorite May flower?

opulent peony

Opulent Peony

Common Latin phrases

Give A Fig cards feature a short phrase on the front to complement the artwork. I thought it might be fun to look up some Latin phrases that we hear all the time but may not know. For example:

QuasiIn Latin, this word means as if or as though and in English it is used as both an adjective in its own right and as a part of a compound word. It simply designates something that resembles something else but doesn’t quite have all the same features.

Magnum opusWhether it’s in writing, painting, sculpture or music, this Latin term denotes the greatest work done by an artist– a true masterpiece.

Deus ex machinaIn direct translation, this term means, “God out of a machine” and it harkens back ancient Greek and Roman plays. When the plot would become too tangled or confusing, the writers would simply bring in God, lowered in via a pulley system (the machine) and he would wrap it all up. Today, it’s still used in literature to describe a plot where an artificial or improbable means of resolving a conflict is used.

Ad infinitumYou might be able to guess what this phrase means simply through its similarity to the word we use in English. It means “to infinity” and can be used to describe something that goes on, seemingly or actually endlessly, as some students might feel about certain classes.

Tabula rasaWhen you were a child, your mind might have been more of a tabula rasa than it is today. This Latin phrase means “clean slate” and denotes something or someone not affected by experiences and impressions.

Do you have a favorite Latin or even an English expression or phrase? Share it here.

What is Give A Fig™?

GAF-treeSomeone might say, “I don’t give a fig…” or “I never cared a fig…” The idiom goes back to the earliest days of modern English. In Shakespeare’s time, one might “not care a fig, or not give a fig.” It meant “to care nothing at all.” I turned this saying on its head. To GIVE A FIG means TO CARE. It’s also interesting to note that the fig was associated with female fertility and eroticism by the Romans; the fruit was sacred to Bacchus.

Inspired by a love of history and nature, I began to create art with some exciting new artist media I discovered while traveling. For years, I’ve made cards to send to friends and family. So I designed a series of greetings with doodle-like illustrations and clever sayings. I called them Give A Fig™ because they would be different than other cards. I researched ways to minimize the environmental impacts of printing and paper production. They’re printed on Forest Stewardship Council-certified paper with soy-based inks in a plant that utilizes energy conservation and alternate power resources. Give A Fig™ cards with a conscience are produced sustainably.

Because I support organizations that make a difference, a portion of Give A Fig™ profits is donated to arts, environment, and education nonprofits. It is also extremely important to me to support American workers. The cards are printed in a union shop with materials sourced as close to home as possible. Give A Fig™ cards are proudly made in the USA. Choosing a Give A Fig™ card sends a message that you care.

I plan to produce several new designs each year. Eventually I hope to incorporate Give A Fig™ art on tote bags, water bottles, yoga mats, hats, T shirts, and more. There might be Give A Fig™ Books and Give A Fig™ Tours. Thank you for your support of Give A Fig™. I know you care!

Best Teacher Ever, Part I

teacher of holding pen correctlyDo you remember a teacher who was so original in style and so creative with content that she/he inspired you to think in ways that still resonate today?

Ms. Clarke was my seventh grade English teacher and someone we’d call a “free spirit” today. Back in the 70s, she was just a hippy. Untamed curls spilled over her shoulders and flowing clothes hung from her narrow frame. I think she lived with another teacher in a kind of treehouse, but they weren’t married. Looking back, I’d bet she smoked weed. She published novels and she was cool: she even made “The Red Badge of Courage” engaging.

We read lots of books and learned to write essays like most kids. Then one seemingly random day, she passed around small jars of india ink, strange looking pens with metal tips called “nibs,” and parchment paper. Ms. Clarke placed lines under the parchment and showed us how to position the nib at a 45° angle. She demonstrated traditional calligraphy on an overhead projector. After a lot of practice, we began to copy lines from Shakespeare’s sonnets. Suddenly the archaic language made more sense. This “wild woman” of a public school teacher showed her students a way to get inside of something to understand it better. She instilled in us a love of words, of craft. Ms. Clarke chose a fresh way to plant seeds of curiosity. To this day, I’ve nurtured a passion for calligraphy and a fascination with Shakespeare. You might notice a love of words and lettering in Give A Fig™ Cards with a Conscience.
Who was your best teacher ever?
(Photo courtesy of Folger Shakespeare Library:

Ruffle Some Feathers-Spring Is Here!

spring is here bird

Here in Southeastern Pennsylvania, it’s been a long, dark Winter. Unseasonably cold temperatures kept an extra four feet of snow around for months. Today we welcome the long anticipated first day of Spring, or Vernal Equinox, as it’s known to astronomers. Day and night are relatively equal so there’s more daylight than we’ve seen in awhile!

According to Dave Emery, Urban Legends, “As the angle of the earth’s inclination toward the sun changes throughout the year, lengthening or shortening the days according to season and hemisphere, there are two times annually when day and night are of more or less equal length: the spring and autumnal equinoxes. These celestial tipping points have been observed for thousands of years and given rise to a considerable body of seasonal folklore. Spring has been celebrated throughout human history as a time of organic and spiritual rebirth following the ‘dying of the year’ in winter. The ancient Germanic festival of Ostara (in honor of the goddess also known as Eostre) celebrated the cyclical return of light and life with fertility rituals and symbols such as the Egg. Some of these still survive in the modern observance of the Christian holiday Easter, which traditionally falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox.”

It’s a great time to dust off the walking shoes, check the bird feeders, and relish the warmth of the sun as the days begin to lengthen. Happy Spring!

Where to Buy

State and Union, Kennett Square PA:

Harvest Market, Hockessin, DE:

Gateway Garden Center, Hockessin, DE:

Kimberton Whole Foods, Phoenixville, PA:

Wyre Naturals Boutique, North East, MD:

Contact founder, artist, Suzanne D. Gaadt on social media: Facebook, Twitter

An Evening of Inspiration

About once a month, a group of women friends meets at someone’s home to share some “Inspiration.” Topics have included calligraphy, yoga, cooking, manicures/pedicures, ceramics, beading, stained glass, ornaments and wreath making, wine tasting, and even a night of games. These are casual events with simple appetizers to share and glasses of wine. We laugh, listen to music, admire each other’s skills (or lack thereof), talk, and create something to bring home, even if it’s simply pretty nails or a new movie or book to check out.

I admire each of the women friends who gathers for our “Evenings of Inspiration.” They’re balancing careers with raising children, volunteering in the community, taking care of elderly parents, working in the schools, and dedicating themselves to many worthwhile causes. It’s often hard to find time to meet. But I think each of us understands the importance of women getting together to nurture each other and ourselves once in awhile. We can be better mothers, professionals, advocates, and activists by supporting each other in a creative way.

Tonight we’re meeting at my place to make a “Couples Wheel.” This is something entirely new for all of us, including me! We’ll chart each person’s position on a medicine wheel based on their birthdate, and then compare that with the position of their significant other. Maybe we’ll learn something about ourselves and about those who are important in our lives. Regardless, we’ll have fun.

What do you do for Inspiration?


Think spring budding flowersI saw snowdrops yesterday. The little white jewels poked from between clumps of snow, their heads bowed on tiny green stems. What a joy! Hang on, Spring is almost here. Think SPRING!

The Enkindled Spring

By D. H. Lawrence

This spring as it comes bursts up in bonfires green,
Wild puffing of emerald trees, and flame-filled bushes,
Thorn-blossom lifting in wreaths of smoke between
Where the wood fumes up and the watery, flickering rushes.

I am amazed at this spring, this conflagration 
Of green fires lit on the soil of the earth, this blaze
Of growing, and sparks that puff in wild gyration,
Faces of people streaming across my gaze.

And I, what fountain of fire am I among
This leaping combustion of spring? My spirit is tossed
About like a shadow buffeted in the throng
Of flames, a shadow that's gone astray, and is lost.

– See more at:

Fig butter ideas

fig butterThis time of year, it’s hard to find fresh figs. My fig tree has been dormant all winter until last week when I spotted a few green buds. In the meantime, I enjoy Trader Joe’s Fig Butter. The best way to enjoy it in one word is: CHEESE.

Here’s what the Trader Joe’s website says: “Trader Joe’s Fig Butter is a flawless mate to all kinds of cheeses. Because it’s smooth, sweet, and nutty, it complements tangy cheeses like Blue Stilton, nutty cheeses like Swiss Gruyère, and fruity cheeses like Murcia al Vino. With our Brioche Toasts or Cracker Assortment, a selection of your favorite cheeses, and a ramekin of Fig Butter, you’re well on your way to the perfect cheese platter.” See:

Here too is a yummy recipe with caramelized onions:

Pair your fig butter and cheese with a nice glass of red wine. This combination will see you through any day during the long, snowy winter. Let me know which cheese you chose. Bon Appetit!

Foxy Idea

I’ve seen four foxes near my home in the past two days! I think it must be a sign that I have to create a FOX design for Give A Fig™ Cards with a Conscience. When I contemplate using an animal in my art, I enjoy finding out about its Native American symbolism and/or other cultural significancefox. What does this animal totem signify? From “The fox is often associated with the figure of the trickster, but as a spirit animal, it can also turn into a teacher providing guidance on swiftly finding your way around obstacles. If you follow the fox totem wisdom, you may be called to use or develop quick thinking and adaptability. Responsive, sometimes cunning, this power animal is a great guide when you are facing tricky situations.” Also, “When the fox appears in you life as spirit animal, it encourages action and quick, swift moves. You may be called to take action in a way that shows your adaptability and ability to move quickly through obstacles and resistance.” There’s more to my artwork than meets the eye! Enjoy.