Hi Friends!

There is change in the air!

Can you feel it, too?

Today we were blessed with a mild, sunny day here in the Midwest. It was the perfect opportunity to rake leaves one last time and put my perennial and herb gardens to bed for a long Winter’s rest. As I worked, I reflected on the past year in the garden. An abundance of taller than usual perennials with extra-large blossoms was our reward for all of those rainy days. It was such a joy to bring my mom bouquets of flowers several times a week!

We had a growing season filled with unexpected surprises, too. In late April, a heavy, wet snowfall buried our tulip blossoms and scattered our Magnolia blossoms like confetti over the snow. Halloween brought several more inches of snow. We wished the brave, frozen trick-or-treaters a “Happy Halloween” (and a “Merry Christmas”, too!). They all giggled! πŸ™‚ Brightly colored Autumn leaves blanketed our snowy yard in the days that followed. We have already shoveled Autumn snow several times this month.

Every November, I look forward to gathering stems of dried flowers and seed pods to fill antique wooden boxes and baskets for the front porch. Last week, it was an incredible challenge to collect garden gatherings that weren’t crushed by the early snow. This year, evergreen branches, shiny, holly-like sprigs of Grape Mahonia (Mahonia Aquifolium), pine cones, and one large bundle of dried Annabelle Hydrangeas (hanging in the garage) came to the rescue. Containers filled with garden gatherings help warm up the coldest of Winter days! I cherish the chance to enjoy these sweet garden memories when everything is covered under a thick blanket of snow.

As the seasons change, I’ve been enjoying The Simplicity of Cozy by Melissa Alvarez. It’s lovely to read about the traditions celebrated in many countries that encourage us to slow down, enjoy time in nature, and practice mindfulness. A warm afghan and a hot cup of herbal tea are the perfect accompaniments as I read and mark favorite passages. I’m looking forward to creating a special page in my Self-Care Journal for December with ideas inspired by this book.

We have a brand new family tradition beginning this Thanksgiving! πŸ™‚ For the past 25 years, we have gathered around the table at our home with my brothers for Thanksgiving dinner. My parents always joined us for pumpkin pie, via Skype, from their desert home in Arizona. Last Thanksgiving, I was still in Arizona helping our parents prepare for their big move back to Illinois. So, my sweet husband carried on our Thanksgiving tradition on his own, by inviting my brothers for dinner, while my parents and I Skyped-in for pumpkin pie.

This year we are all so excited to celebrate our Thanksgiving together! πŸ™‚Β  We will gather at my parents’ beautiful Senior Living Community for this happy celebration. The chef will prepare Thanksgiving dinner in their elegant dining room. The pumpkin pie will be sweeter than ever because our family will all be gathered around one table together! My heart is overflowing with gratitude…

One of my very favorite Thanksgiving traditions will not change at all. Many years ago, I wanted to encourage everyone to count our many blessings, amidst the always lively conversation during our Thanksgiving dinner. As I set the table, at each place setting I placed three kernels of unpopped popcorn. Between every two guests, I placed a small, vintage, pressed glass dish. When my husband and my brothers gave me a quizzical look, I explained…

At the very first Thanksgiving celebration in 1621, the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag people gathered to celebrate Plymouth colony’s first harvest. By working together, they grew maize (corn) and other crops to sustain them. The three-day celebration was a time to give thanks for their harvest and all the ways they had worked together.

Then I reminded everyone that we were also gathering to give thanks and celebrate our strong family ties.Β So, throughout our dinner, each time we thought of something we were thankful for, we should drop one kernel of corn into the nearby glass dish, listening for the ringing sound it made. My kernels of corn slowly dropped into a dish, ting!… ting!… ting! as I silently counted my blessings throughout the meal. Little-by-little, the menfolk followed suit, silently counting their blessings. My heart warmed just knowing that we were adding a meaningful reminder of the reason we gather together on Thanksgiving!

Each year after, as I set a harvest table for Thanksgiving, I added an extra corn kernel to each place setting. Being mindful and taking time to count our blessings, silently during dinner, was becoming second nature. Sounds of ting! ting! ting! have become part of the soundtrack of our family feasts. Two years ago, each place setting had eight corn kernels. Last year, when the men gathered together for Thanksgiving, they decided to set up the corn kernels on their own to remember to count their blessings. πŸ™‚ Imagine my surprise when they proudly shared the news with me via Skype!

At the end of each Thanksgiving dinner, I carefully place the “blessings” (corn kernels) into a small jar. It is slowly filling up with our family’s blessings! Each year, we use new corn kernels to count our blessings and add them to our Thankful Jar. You can be certain that I will bring lots of extra corn kernels and our Thankful Jar to my parents’ lovely, newΒ  home this Thanksgiving!

Our long tradition reminds us all to be present and mindful of the reasons why we gather around the table filled with turkey, dressing, cranberries, squash, beans, cornbread,… and pumpkin pie. We are all looking forward to celebrating in a new place, surrounded by new friends and neighbors and their families. Oh, yes! It’s much more than pumpkin pie! Feel free to try this little tradition at your Thanksgiving, Friendsgiving, or next special gathering. It’s so simple, but once those who gather catch on, it is a wonderful reminder of the purpose for our gathering!

What’s your favorite Thanksgiving tradition?


All year long, as I count my blessings,

(and write them on the Gratitude page in my journal),

I feel so very grateful for all of the friends

who gather here at our little blog.

Thank you all for being here!

You inspire me in so many ways!


Wonderful news! A dear friend of our blog has just begun writing a new blog of her own. Vicky has lived in several different countries, in very different types of homes, and has recently moved back to her native New Zealand! She is a true kindred spirit, and a wonderful writer and photographer. Vicky and I met several years ago in an international, online book club for artists and other creatives. Letter writing and Skype visits have helped our friendship blossom over the years. Summertime is quickly approaching andΒ  Vicky’s garden is thriving. I’m so happy that Vicky is now blogging at TheSpaciousLifeRealised.Β  πŸ™‚ Let’s surprise Vicky! Take a peek at her first post … and say “Hi!” I think you will enjoy her blog, too!

Happy, Happy Thanksgiving to all!

With warm gratitude,

β™‘ Dawn




18 thoughts on “Change…

    • Heartfelt thanks, Karen! It might be a fun tradition to start with grandchildren, too. Thank you so much for being here, Karen. Sending warm hugs all the way to California!πŸ’—

  1. You’ve worked through a lot of change this year, and I know your parents appreciate all your efforts. I wish you and all of your loved ones gathered around the table this Thursday a wonderful Thanksgiving. Your thankful jar may be overflowing this year. πŸ™‚

    • I know you understand, Judy. I focus on creating and celebrating small moments of joy each day… and documenting them! It’s the only way during difficult times. I recently surprised my parents with a scrapbook that shows the story of the past two years. It is filled with special moments from their (our) last year in Arizona and their first year back in Illinois. We have shared sooooo many wonderful moments together this year!! I feel so grateful for the time we have together. You are so right, Judy! Our Thankful Jar will be overflowing this Thanksgiving!!

      Wishing you a wonderful Thanksgiving with your dear family, Judy! I’m so grateful for all of the ways our friendship has grown and blossomed. While our gardens sleep, we can enjoy our other passions. You have been so busy with needle and thread and I’m looking forward to playing with paper and ink. Kindred spirits!πŸ’—

  2. Dawn, just received your recent blog. I’m waiting till later tonight, when all is quiet to sit & enjoy. But on a quick scroll thru…what caught my eye was the book on Simplicity of Cozy!!! I’m reading that very same book. Actually just ordered it yesterday, because after a quarter way thru my library copy, I decided it was a must have to savor & revisit, & put into practice. This book just simply spoke to me. I hope you have a beautiful Thanksgiving my friend.

    • Kindred spirits, Cynde! My copy is from the library, too. 😊 There is so much cozy inspiration that I want to include in my December Self-Care bullet journal. My theme for December will be ‘Comfort & Joy.’ Won’t this book be a perfect companion? Thanks for stopping by, Cynde! We’ll chat more later… πŸ’—

  3. A very Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, Dawn!!!
    We have been gifted with a squirrel who has decided she likes to be around us and, while cautious, is very friendly. We discussed feeding her and decided it was okay so started providing shelled peanuts which she happily sits and eats while we watch. She will even knock on the door if we forget to put peanuts out for her. Such an amusing character and we do appreciate her company.
    Our Thanksgivings are very different since our parents are no longer with us and the kids are all grown and scattered across the country, much quieter. Every one is doing well and healthy, so great blessings there.

    • Oh, thank you, Aquila! So happy that you stopped to visit today. Your furry, little friend sounds so entertaining! Does she have a name? It sounds like she feels right at home with you.
      Thanksgiving celebrations evolve and change with time. This is our first BIG change, and we all feel so blessed to be close by so that we can help our parents. Although it was a very challenging move for them, we all agree that it was the right move at the right time! So, at Thanksgiving and every day, we are counting our blessings as a family.
      You have so much to be thankful for this year, too, Aquila! Your celebration sounds so nice and cozy.
      Happy, Happy Thanksgiving!πŸ’—

  4. So lovely to have your words fly across the oceans and land in my life Dawn. What a full couple of years it’s been and you inspire me with how you’ve moved with such grace through it, with your parents and family. I love your corn ritual. I know you talk about self-care a lot, but it seems to me you’ve found some lovely ways to take care of YOU, in the midst of everything else going on. Your family traditions feel so nourishing.

    I’ve been thinking about rituals and celebrations lately – I think Thanksgiving is my favourite, even though we don’t have it in New Zealand. A celebration largely free of religion and spending really appeals to me – with lots of space for creating your own rituals. I’ve experienced this in the States and in Canada too. We import so many American events to New Zealand – Thanksgiving would be a meaningful one to have gathered to us. I love how you model so beautifully, how to do it well. Must check out that book too – sounds lovely. And thank you for your lovely words about me, my friend. Today I’m very grateful we met, connected and nurtured our friendship across the oceans. I’m grateful we’re able to do this today when we haven’t met in person…. yet! Much love and Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family. You’re blessed to have each other xox

    • Oh, Vicky! It feels like you have been right there with me!All those long letters that I wrote while sitting at airports flying back and forth to Arizona so often made the distance between friends feel shorter. Your words of wisdom have always been such a great comfort!πŸ’•

      Self-Care is a very special focus during this difficult journey that my family is facing. My bullet journal continues to be a great source of self-reflection and motivation. I’m really excited to begin my 2020 journal and look forward to hearing about your new bullet journal soon! I will be using a raspberry-colored Rhodia dot grid. I have several new ideas to share when we talk next!

      Our simple corn ritual adds meaning to our family dinner. I’m very grateful that my entire family has embraced this tradition. Although we have been doing this for many years, I now understand that it is a powerful ritual because it quietly gives ‘purpose’ to our family gathering ~ expressing gratitude on this day of giving thanks. (If you haven’t read it, I think you would enjoy ‘The Art of Gathering’ by Priya Parker.)

      Vicky, you might be just the person to begin a Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving or harvest festival tradition in your neighborhood! 😊 You have a growing group of friends and neighbors that would make for a very interesting gathering. I envision you each bringing fresh fruits and veggies from your gardens, much like the Pilgrims and Wampanoag people did at our very first Thanksgiving, for a big potluck picnic! It just might be the beginning of a wonderful tradition!

      You should feel so proud of your new blog, dear Vicky. Your beautiful words and photos add a fascinating new ‘voice’ to
      the wonderful world of blogging! I’m so very grateful for the technology that has helped our friendship blossom and grow across the oceans. We will include you in our special Thanksgiving celebration this year, Vicky! Much love!πŸ’—

  5. Such a beautiful post, Dawn. I’m so happy your family is going to be together again. My son still lives in the Arizona mountains so I don’t want him traveling during the winter holidays. My daughter and I will be hosting my sister and a family friend for a small simple meal. Counting blessings is at the top of our list.. I like your popcorn kernel idea. I might borrow that. Every morning that I wake, I’m grateful. The list is long and I write them twice daily. I wish you and yours the happiest of Thanksgivings. Sending love and hugs, MH

    • Huge hugs, Marlene! Your Thanksgiving plans sound just lovely. I hope you WILL try the popcorn kernel idea. You will love the sweet sound the kernels make as they drop into each dish. It’s always music to my ears and deeply touches my heart! Happy, Happy Thanksgiving, Marlene!πŸ’—

  6. Dawn, I’m so happy that you are all together this year in one place. I love that you celebrated via Skype over dessert while your parents were in Arizona and I love your kernels of corn, too. What wonderful ideas. I agree with everyone above: this is a beautiful, warm, and heartfelt post. I’m sorry about the crazy weather. It seems to be out of sync around the world. It took forever for our autumn weather to arrive, and the dry conditions continued to fuel wildfires. We’re finally enjoying the start to an entire week of rains. Sending you greetings of the season and a warm hug. xo

    • You have been in my heart so often lately, dear Alys! Your sweet words always warm my heart. Skyping-in for all of the special occasions was such a nice way to feel ‘close’ for so many years. My laptop brought our parents right into our dining room! Very special times!! This year was oh-so wonderful because there were lots and lots of HUGS, too!😊 I created cute, little ‘Thankful’ holders for our corn kernels very early on Thanksgiving morning. (The idea just came to me in the middle of the night!) So, our tradition continues to grow! Hope you had a wonderful family celebration, too!

      There is wild weather affecting so many parts of the country (and the world) over Thanksgiving weekend! Wishing for steady, gentle rains over the scorched California lands devastated by the recent wildfires.

      Can you believe that we have already shoveled eight inches of snow since Halloween? Such a cold, snowy November here! More snowflakes will fall tomorrow. It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas already ~ inside and out! 😊 It’s my Green Friday tradition to spend the whole day decorating for Christmas. So, it’s cozy and festive inside today as the raindrops tap against our windows.
      Sending warm, squishy hugs from our home to yours, Alys! Thanks for always being here! πŸ’—

  7. Dawn you have created such a wonderful Thanksgiving tradition and I’m sure it meant more than usual this year now that your family can be together. I hope the day was special to each and everyone of you.

    • Heartfelt thanks, Karen! It was a very, very special Thanksgiving that we will always treasure! Hope you are enjoying your favorite holiday traditions this December… and perhaps even beginning a brand new tradition. So glad that you stopped for a visit today, Karen! Sending warmest hugs!πŸ’—

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