Spark Joy


Hi Friends!

Brrrrrr! In the Midwest, March certainly “roared in like a lion” yesterday bringing sleet and snow. This morning we woke up to bright sunshine and single-digit temperatures. More snow is on the way tomorrow. By this time of year, I always take Shelley’s quote to heart. These words, carefully stitched and framed, are hanging near the back door, to warm our hearts as we head out into the cold!

I’m so happy to welcome all of the new ‘kindred spirits’ who have begun following our blog over the past few weeks! There is so much to see hidden behind the slide-out sidebar. (Just click near the top of the orange bar). Brew a warm cup of tea and spend some cozy moments exploring the blog archives and the tag cloud. I hope you will find something to warm your heart and make you smile!

Life has slowed down considerably during the past few weeks due to a lengthy illness. Doctor’s visits seem to be my only adventures lately. I have been following doctor’s orders to the letter hoping to feel better very soon. While resting, I have enjoyed lots of extra reading time. I couldn’t wait to share a few thoughts about a new book…


After reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up last summer, I eagerly awaited Marie Kondo’s follow-up book, Spark Joy. Fortunately, our library ordered several copies hot off the press in January. As I read, I searched for tips to recharge the next phase of my own Tidying Up celebration.

I will always cherish KonMari’s philosophy of Tidying Up, so wonderfully explained in her first book. KonMari’s new book, Spark Joy, added a few more tips that will be helpful as I finish tidying up komono (miscellaneous items) in the kitchen and two more closets. The biggest challenge of the Tidying Up celebration is always saved for last ~ deciding which sentimental items to keep. Armed with another dose of KonMari’s motivation and tips, I’m ready to take on the next part of my celebration!


 As I read, I made note of a few of KonMari’s tips from Spark Joy that truly resonated with me. As I put her ideas into practice, I would love to share them with you. It was very interesting to read how KonMari has mellowed in her Tidying Up instructions, since getting married and the birth of her daughter. While staying true to her philosophy of having only those items that spark joy in your home, Spark Joy feels more realistic for today’s busy, complicated lifestyles.

Last Autumn, I enjoyed Tidying Up clothing and books. It was surprisingly easy to decide which items to keep! As I held each item in my hands, I could feel those that sparked joy in my heart. The paperwork category was much harder to tidy up. First, I stopped to do a bit of research to be sure that I was saving all of the necessary financial, household, and insurance papers. It was more of a challenge to feel the joy, as I began shredding papers from the file cabinets. (Honestly, there is still a bit of shredding to finish up!) I’m taking it slowly, against KonMari’s advice to work quickly. ‘Better safe than sorry’ when it comes to shredding!

I intentionally planned an extra-long break from my Tidying celebration throughout the holiday season. Although KonMari’s method of working by category is brilliant, it does create a huge mess while working through the process! Be mindful of this fact if you are planning a Tidying Up celebration of your own. In fact, in Spark Joy, KonMari says that as long as you apply the basics, it’s okay to do your own unique version of Tidying Up.

I’m still very enthusiastic about the process! Although I have had to slow down for the past few weeks, it is my intention to complete my once-in-a-lifetime Tidying Up celebration before the garden wakes up. I’m already looking forward to the next get-together of our little ‘Spark Joy’ club. We are a group of dear friends who live locally and enjoy getting together to encourage one another in this adventure. We always have such funny stories to share about Tidying Up!


Yesterday, inspired by Marie Kondo’s thoughts on “becoming a person who matches the books you’ve kept,” I took a peek at some of the books that spark joy that I kept in my book collection…


Most of my treasured books are nonfiction. On cold winter days, what could be more fun than reading gardening books and dreaming garden dreams?


I’m truly passionate about growing perennials and herbs. Thoughts of spending hours tending the plants in my white picket fence herb garden warm my heart all winter long. I can still remember the day I bought The Pleasure of Herbs, while visiting a dear friend in Minnesota. From the moment I opened that book, I knew that herbs would always be a very special part of my garden!


Although I don’t plant a vegetable garden, these are a few of the cookbooks that inspire recipes with fresh, organic ingredients. The Produce Bible is a great reference, filled with wonderful tips.  Tasha Tudor has always been one of my gardening inspirations.


This stack of books feels right at home on a table beside my rocking chair. It is filled with inspiration for simple gatherings with family and friends, gardening, and lovely watercolors from nature.


This small stack of books holds an antique lamp, on a tiny table beside the sofa in the living room. I enjoy reading these books often, choosing recipes for tea parties. Small gatherings of kindred spirits sharing tea make such special memories! Tea for two is my very favorite way to stay close to dear friends.


Oh, my heart! Most of my friends know that Susan Branch has been my inspiration since her very first book was published. This is just part of my most favorite book collection of all. Heart of the Home will always be an extra-special book. I bought it for my mom when it was first published. She enjoyed it for so many years, and then gifted it back to me! I have given Susan’s books as gifts so often. Whenever I am antiquing, I always look for out-of-print Susan Branch books for special gifts. Such serendipity to find just the right book for a special friend!

Next month, Susan’s newest book, Martha’s Vineyard ~ Isle of Dreams, will arrive in the mail. It’s such a thrill every time a new book is published! I’m sure this will be my very favorite book of all. It is Part Two of Susan’s handlettered, watercolored memoir. I just can’t wait to read all about how she bought a little home of her own, planted a garden, grew as an artist, and met the love of her life! Kindreds to be sure!! I’m simply thrilled to enjoy Afternoon Tea with Susan Branch again in May, at a large tea party and book signing in her honor! Such a fan girl!


My books most definitely reflect the person I aspire to be!

They spark joy in my life… and inspire me to ‘blossom’ every day!


I’d love to hear about the most special books in your collection!

Perhaps we share some of the same favorites, as kindred spirits often do…

Happy Reading!

♡ Dawn

P.S.  Heartfelt thanks for all of the beautiful cards, phone calls, and emails! Your friendships have truly warmed my heart and brightened my days! ♡♡




35 thoughts on “Spark Joy

  1. Glad you are on the mend and are able to enjoy your library of books. I’m a library patron and not a book collector. I use to be a person with full book shelves, but when we made the cross country move the shelves and the books were all donated. I have to say I like my new minimalistic life with less stuff. 🙂

    • Hi, Judy! I love your plan! I definitely downsized my book collection last Fall by donating many, many books. I love using the library for books now, and only purchase the most special books that I plan to read again and again. Just wondering if you have read any of the garden books in my collection? Enjoy Maple sugaring season in NH! Thanks so much for visiting today! ♡

      • That’s such a great way to stay current on the latest gardening news and trends, Judy! At the library, I enjoy reading the gardening magazines. Garden Gate is my favorite! I’m always so impressed when I talk with the Master Gardeners at our Garden Faire in the park. What a wonderful service you provide through your volunteer gardening projects and ‘Ask a Master Gardener’ booths! Gardening days still seem a long way off on a snowy day! ♡

  2. It’s so lovely to read your sweet thoughts today, dear Dawn. Your Spark Joy reference has reminded me to get busy and fill a couple bags for the Amvets that pick up tomorrow. I try to fill at least two bags each month. I admire your “jumping in” approach that Kondo suggests. What a lovely book collection you have there, Dawn. Your Susan Branch collection looks very similar to mine. I’m so happy for you to get to her next book signing. That’s a wonderful event for you to look forward to. Take care of yourself and continue to rest. ♥

    • Heartfelt thanks for your kind thoughts, Martha Ellen! It felt so good to say “Hi!” today. 🙂 As you fill your bags, just think how good it will feel to donate to an important cause. It’s a win-win! I’m sure that we share so many of Susan’s books. Such treasures! Yesterday the doctor told me that I was a “perfect patient.” I’ve been following her instructions to the letter, trying so hard to get well! Warm hugs! ♡

  3. Hello Dawn Dear!

    I was just thinking about you and there you were in my e-mailbox! I would love to see your stitched Shelley quote. I find it so interesting that KonMari has lightened up a bit in light of being a mom now. Having children definitely will slow down your own agenda! I must get to reading her first book as I am feeling the Spring Fever bug and ready to tackle some much needed organizing.

    I love the quote from her book about becoming a person who matches the books you treasure. So true! I’ve heard it said before that you can tell a lot about a person by perusing their bookshelf. Books are such wonderful companions. I have a difficult time parting with any but I know I must.

    Have a cozy evening in your darling house with your sweet man. Cold and snowy here, too! xo

    • Hi, Karen! I’m so glad that you are going to read KonMari’s first book. That is the book that inspired me to begin my own Tidying Up celebration last Autumn. It’s my favorite of the two books! I’m sure that we share many favorite books. It will be such fun to see you at the Afternoon Tea with Susan! May will be here before we know it! Stay warm and cozy with a good book, Karen! ♡

  4. Sorry to hear you’ve been ill. Hope the recovery comes soon as spring does.

    My daughter, Sarah, read that book and used it to cull books and clothing. She showed me her sweater drawer where she could see every sweater she had. I borrowed the book and read it. It has inspired me now that we are thinking of downsizing even further. Visited a continuing care retirement community just this afternoon that really resonated with us. Oh, what will the future bring and when?

    • Thank you so much, Marcia! The beautifully organized drawers make me smile each time I open them! I organized my drawers last September and they still look picture perfect! The KonMari method will be a wonderful help for downsizing, Marcia! What an exciting thing to think about! There are so many wonderful things about a CCRC. It always looks like such a carefree lifestyle filled with activities and lots of friends. Keeping you close at heart as you plan for the next chapter! ♡

  5. Dear Dawn, I feel deeply remiss that I did not know you were ill! I am very sorry and pray that you are on the mend. How did I miss that?!
    I just recently became aware of Marie Kondo’s latest book, Spark Joy. I must look at the library for that one and while I had a great start last year, it has been a little hard to continue my cleanse of things! Still working full time and Jim’s health issues last fall have all changed the flow of things. Like everyone, I am yearning for spring, rain and gardening! Your weather almost always mirrors my son’s weather in NE Ohio, it just hits a day or two later there. Hopefully you will be well when the sunshine and warm weather settles in!
    Ah books!! There’s a topic at our house! We are definitely book people and some books….well lots of books you just need to hang on to! Cookbooks…..many…we read them like novels around here! Of course all of Susan’s books…ditto what you have. Then gardening, I have to say Southern Herb Growing by Madalene Hill and her daughter Gwen Barclay is like an institution in this part of the world. My first introduction to “this isn’t Ohio anymore!” LOL
    My signed copies of Antique Roses for the South and Perennial Garden Color by Dr Wm Welch, who is so kind to answer my emails when I have a question! The Potting Shed, Tea Gardens, The Undaunted Garden and Prescription for Herbal Healing will have to be pried from my cold dead hands!!
    Then don’t get me started on novels, you are going to be so sorry you asked this question…so I will stop! Favorite book of ALL time…To Kill A Mockingbird. I never get tired of reading it or watching the movie!
    Blessings to you Dawn and prayers for your recovery that you are gardening soon!
    Chris …West Texas

    • Heartfelt thanks, dear Chris! I have just been quiet on the blog for several weeks, following doctor’s orders, resting, and hoping to feel better soon. Friends and family have been keeping in close touch. I’m sure that I will be taking things slowly for several more weeks. It would be such a blessing to feel better in time for the first day of Spring!! We also have some Spring travels planned. So, lots of reasons to get well soon! ♥

      We must encourage one another, Chris, as we continue our Tidying Up celebrations! KonMari’s first book inspired me to get started. It’s such a gem! Spark Joy gave me a few more things to think about. She provides more information about storage in this book. Borrowing the library’s copy is be a great idea! My husband and I are both ‘book people,’ too. But we both found it quite easy to donate the books that no longer sparked joy. Our special books are definitely keepers!

      After moving from Ohio to Texas, you really had to learn new gardening skills. Those gardening books must be true treasures (and lifesavers!). All of your favorite garden books sound really interesting, Chris! Isn’t it fun to think about all of the special books that have inspired us to become who we are? 🙂 Thanks for always being part of the conversation here. I just love hearing your thoughts, Chris! Sending warm hugs to you and Jim! ♡

    • Oh, thank you, Ginnie! I am following all of the doctor’s ‘rules’ to the letter. Hoping to feel better very soon! Are you feeling Garden Fever yet? Next week will be a little warmer, so Springtime will feel a bit closer! Sending hugs, dear Ginnie! ♡

    • Thanks so much, Jodi! I’m really looking forward to some crafty time downstairs in my Paper Garden studio. (Hopefully, soon!) I will stop by to visit soon, my friend. ♡

  6. My eyes immediately found If Teacups Could Talk by Emilie Barnes on your shelf, Dawn. I have the others, as well, but, it was Teacups . . . that hold a special place. Recovering from major surgery some years ago, Tom brought it home for me and it eased my days of recovery, giving me comfort – and still does. I, too, enjoy my gardening books, a little collection of poetry, I read cookbooks like novels, and of course, Tasha Tudor. 🙂

    I hope you continue to feel better, Dawn, and are out and about soon. Spring is in the air, in spite of the cold and snow.

    • Good morning, Penny! If Teacups Could Talk is the most recent addition to my little, heartwarming collection of tea books. It is truly lovely! Thank you so much for sharing your story. You have moved me to read ‘our’ book again this morning, as the snowflakes tumble down outside our windows. A cup of comfort is always a good thing! Many thanks for your good wishes, dear Penny! Warm hugs! ♡

  7. Dawn,
    I am so sorry to hear of your illness. I hope you are well on the path of recovery. The weather is a good reason to rest, read and recover.
    I so appreciate this post. As I’ve mentioned in comments, I didn’t buy the “Tidying” book because I felt that I had gotten the jest of the book from the blog world. Your description of this second book has convinced me I need to read both for myself. I’ve put my name on our library waiting list.
    I need to continue paring down and the tools to stay motivated are helpful.
    I too am enjoying our early spring and the garden jobs list is long.
    Be well, my friend. I love my visits to your lovely site.

    • Heartfelt thanks, Karen! Marie Kondo’s first book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, was so inspiring to me! As I read it, I knew that it was completely different from other organizing books. I just knew that her beautiful philosophy would work for me! So, I bought that book last year, and have also gifted copies to special friends. Spark Joy clarified a few of KonMari’s ideas, and gave me some knew things to think about. There were some really interesting insights in the second book that will be helpful as I finish the Tidying Up celebration here. I’m not planning to buy that book, so I took a few notes as I read the library copy. (Since downsizing our book collections, I am very ‘choosy’ about any books that I purchase now!)

      In Spark Joy, there is good advice about storage. I think you will also enjoy reading KonMari’s thoughts about organizing the komomo (miscellaneous items) in the kitchen. KonMari studied restaurant kitchens as part of her research. Best of all, Marie Kondo has mellowed quite a bit in the second book! She gives the reader her blessing to adapt her Tidying Up philosophy to make it work in our own lifestyles. So, both books are worth a read! I am most inspired by her first book, but grateful for the additional ideas in Spark Joy.

      I would really love to hear your thoughts on KonMari’s philosophy as you read, Karen! We both seem to be in the downsizing chapter of our lives! Thank you for always being an important part of our conversations here, Karen. Wishing you happy days in the garden, sweet friend! ♡

  8. So sorry to hear you’ve been under the weather Dawn. I hope the rest and relaxation that you’ve had will make you feel a lot better. Wow, there’s a ton out there on “tidying up” isn’t there? We recently downsized from a large home and acreage in the suburbs to a town home in the city. It was so hard getting rid of so much that one has accumulated over the years. However, we did it, and vowed to ourselves that we would never ever get into a rut again (not that we were hoarders in the first place). You’ve given me inspiration for another post on my blog 🙂

    • Oh, thank you, Loretta! So many of us seem to be entering that chapter in life when the urge to downsize strikes. It sounds like your downsizing was very, very successful. It would be wonderful to share your story! Although we aren’t planning to move for many years, we know that the next place we live will be even smaller. Working through KonMari’s Tidying Up celebration isn’t always easy, but it feels great! The biggest challenge will be deciding which sentimental items to keep. I just keep envisioning our little home filled with only those special things that spark joy in our hearts! Thanks so much for being here, Loretta, and being part of the conversation! ♡

  9. Dawn, I’m sorry to hear that you’ve had a long illness. I’m glad you are following doctor’s orders. It’s good to find this post, as it means you’re feeling better. We must have you well by the first day of spring!

    Thanks for the reminder to order Susan Branch’s next book. It wasn’t available for pre-order initially, and then I was preoccupied with my foot surgery and the holidays. All her books look pretty grouped together on your shelves.

    Because I have a Little Free Library at the curb, I find that I’ve released almost all fiction and several garden books as well. I’ve hung on to my Sunset Garden series, as they are wonderful reference books, full of beloved memories.

    I have Kondo’s book and Susan’s book (thanks to you) along with books on gardening, organizing and child development. Cherished books include a handful that belonged to my dad, also gardening related, and a few childhood favorites. I love books!

    I’m glad to read that Kondo has adapted her book to the realities of sharing a home with others.

    It’s raining here, a welcome storm after a dismal February rainfall in our drought-parched state. I’m drinking a cup of tea and reading your blog. Feel better soon. xo

    • Heartfelt thanks for your kindness, Alys! I’m truly hoping to feel better by the first day of spring. That will be my next doctor’s appointment. Thank you for cheering me on! As I rest, I am counting my blessings… and there are many!

      I love hearing about your cherished books, Alys! I knew we would share several favorites. Ever since I read about your Little Free Library, this wonderful movement has been on my mind. I always wondered if our town might have one somewhere. Just the other day, I spotted the sweetest Little Free Library in front a of a home in our neighborhood! 🙂 It must be brand new, for I have never noticed it before. I’m so looking forward to adding some books to this tiny treasure! I’m planning to include a handmade bookmark in each book. I’m also excited to add some children’s books, inscribed with the message “May books always be your friends!” It’s fun to think that my Springtime walks will have a new destination ~ the Little Free Library! I couldn’t wait to share the happy news with you! 🙂

      Thanks so much for being here, Alys, and for being a part of the conversation! I truly hope your rainy days will continue to water your trees and new garden. Wishing you March and April showers, sweet friend! Warm hugs! ♡

  10. Hi Dawn! I’m sorry to hear you haven’t been feeling too well, but hopefully you’re already well on your way to recovery. There’s definitely something going around; I was out sick from work for most of the past week with a bad sinus infection. It just left me feeling so exhausted—I haven’t even updated my blog since I started feeling lousy. I’ll have to remedy that this week. Make sure you’re drinking lots of tea, honey, lemon, and apple cider vinegar! And, of course, listening to the doctor is a great idea too 😛

    Hope all else is well with you and that you have a wonderful week ahead. ❤

    • Thanks so much, Chris! I’m still resting… with anticipation! Springtime is my favorite season, so I have been dreaming garden dreams. I hope to feel better soon, so I’m really following doctor’s orders! It’s the perfect time to do lots of extra reading. 🙂 Hope you bounce back quickly, Chris! I’m looking forward to your next post! So happy that you stopped to visit today! ♡

  11. I’m sorry Dawn that you’ve been ill, and I feel sad that I didn’t know it and offer my support. There is nothing better than looking forward to planning our gardens to make us feel better. I love purging but I procrastinate when it comes to paperwork and records. It’s just not fun. I loved your post and your love of your books are so evident.

    • Heartfelt thanks, Julie! I’m closely following doctor’s orders and hoping to feel better in the coming weeks. You are so right! Garden planning adds sunshine to every day! I have always loved books and had the pleasure of sharing my love of reading with my young students throughout my entire career. It was a pleasant surprise to discover that it was easy to downsize my book collection last Fall! The books that spark joy for me were the only ones that I saved! I have only added two special books to my collection over the past seven months! Yay! One is a garden book that I will use to guide some changes in the garden. I had already read the library copy, but knew that I would want this book to refer to often. The other book, Susan Branch’s handlettered, illustrated memoir, will arrive in a few weeks! We are so blessed to have an amazing book collection at our library. So, I’ve been reading up a storm with library books!

      Julie, you are such a wonderful cook. I’m very curious to know what you think of Marie Kondo’s suggestions for organizing the kitchen! If you come across a copy of Spark Joy at the library or in a bookstore, and take a peek at the short section about organizing the kitchen, please let me know what you think. I’m sure you would have great suggestions to add about a well-organized kitchen! Thanks so much for stopping to visit today, Julie! Have a happy weekend! ♡

  12. Thank you Dawn! I’ll have to look at Spark Joy at the library. I love organization but am a bit OC and want the kitchen toys too. We have a second-hand book store that I often check for reads too. We have many of the same loves Dawn. Get better soon!

    • Hi Julie! Marie Kondo observed restaurant kitchens to see how the professionals organized everything. She shared some of their storage tips in Spark Joy. Although our kitchen is small, I still make room for several antique kitchen utensils, crocks, tins,… Although they take up space, they connect me to the past and truly spark joy in my heart each day. I’m sure we are kindred spirits, Julie! (You are the more organized one. 🙂 I’m working on it!) Thanks for your good wishes! ♡

  13. Hello Dawn. You have a lovely web journal! I stumbled upon it while searching “Susan Branch” and find that several people who have commented above also comment on my web journal–small world! But then I think Susan has brought many of us together. I recently read Spark Joy and then Marie’s first book and started my own decluttering project. I was going to do a post about it, but I think I will just point people to your post. I skipped papers to do the kimono because I had a deadline, so now I must try to get back in the mood to tackle papers–because that will be harder for me, too. Our gardening season has begun in the mid-atlantic–but today snow is falling! So, I will have to stay indoors a little longer and have no excuse to tackle those papers. P.S. When I click on the orange sidebar nothing happens. I even tried clicking on the 3 lines and still nothing happened. Did I do something wrong?

    • A warm welcome, Cathy! Susan Branch has such a special way of bringing kindred spirits together. It truly touches my heart that so many kindreds gather here! I’m so happy that you stopped to visit today!

      Although I’m not finished yet, I am very pleased with the progress I have made following KonMari’s philosophy. Best of all, now I have learned to decide if things ‘spark joy’ before I even bring them home! In antique shops, craft stores, the mall, or even a garden center, now I just hold an item and make the best decision! Even if I like something and it would look nice here, if it doesn’t pass the ‘spark joy’ test, it doesn’t come home with me! That’s really key to making the Tidying Up celebration a once-in-a-lifetime event! I would love it if you point your readers to my Tidying Up posts, Cathy. Maybe others will feel inspired to read about Marie Kondo’s philosophy and give it a try!

      I think you were wise to save the paperwork organizing until later in the Tidying Up process. That part can be tedious, when done thoughtfully and carefully. Our new paper shredder is getting a work out! Thanks so much for joining in the conversation today, Cathy. Hope that you will be able to access the blog archives and tag cloud on the slide-out sidebar. (I just love the old-fashioned look when the sidebar is tucked out of sight!) It might work differently when reading on different devices. Happy Spring! ♡

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