Change…

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! 🙂 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! 🙂 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! 🙂  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. 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. 🙂 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, new  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 and  Vicky’s garden is thriving. I’m so happy that Vicky is now blogging at TheSpaciousLifeRealised.  🙂 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,

♡ Dawn

 

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Sharing My Heart…

Hi Friends,

Today I am raising my very quiet voice a little louder. It feels so important for me to share my heart with the world, as I shine light on ways that we can all help.  I hope you will read on…

Although I only write about it here once a year, please know that Alzheimer’s disease is a huge part of my story every day. When a loved one receives the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s (or another dementia), life dramatically changes. Our family received that heartbreaking news two years ago. We are walking along that journey together with someone that we all love so dearly.

My family is certainly not alone. The statistics are alarming!   (Source: ALZ.org)

  • Every 65 seconds, someone in the United States develops Alzheimer’s.
  • Currently, 5.8 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s.
  • There is no cure. No one has ever survived Alzheimer’s.
  • Over the past fifteen years, deaths from heart disease have decreased 11%, while deaths from Alzheimer’s  have increased 123%.

The statistics are particularly alarming for women!    (Source: ALZ.org/women)

  • Today women are at the epicenter of the Alzheimer’s epidemic.
  • Almost two-thirds of Americans with Alzheimer’s are women.
  • Women in their 60s are about twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s as they are to develop breast cancer.
  • Women also make up more than 60% of Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers in the United States ~ a role that often has a negative effect on their own health and finances.

Brain health is key… and a healthy brain begins with a healthy heart.

  • A study published in the January 2019 Journal of the American Medical Association reports that treating high blood pressure in older adults can help reduce the development of mild cognitive impairment (MCI). A person with MCI faces an increased risk for developing Alzheimer’s or another dementia.
  • If you are over 50, it’s very important to talk with your health care provider about your risk for Alzheimer’s  and ways to manage your blood pressure. Genetics also play a big role in heart and brain health. As we age, we can all take small steps every day toward a healthier lifestyle!

Knowledge is power!

My bookshelf at home is filling up with important resources…

Some very helpful books that have helped me grow. I refer back to them again and again along our journey.

 

I spoke to many experts in search of a book to share with my loved one to help explain what is happening to them. This helpful book explains what they are feeling and how things are changing in their life. Together, we have had many valuable conversations while reading this book. We read it often. A valuable resource!

 

A nice reminder about the importance of creating moments of JOY together with loved ones throughout this heartbreaking journey. I’ve been documenting all of the special things we do together to create a Memory Book filled with sweet, happy, moments of joy!

 

Over the past two years, I have been very intentional about attending frequent workshops and family support groups to learn more about Alzheimer’s. I have been able to share what I am learning with my family along the way. It is very frightening to learn about this journey that we are walking together. However, during times when we feel powerless in the face of this daunting disease, knowledge can feel empowering!

Very often, caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s can feel isolating. Days are busier than ever…  helping, encouraging, worrying, and learning, every step of the way. Life takes on a very different rhythm. Although time is more limited, connecting with supportive friends becomes more important than ever. Please reach out to someone you know who is also on this incredibly difficult journey with a loved one. You will brighten their day, renew their spirit, and give them strength to carry on!

The Alzheimer’s Association is a vital resource for those suffering with this heart-wrenching disease, their families, and their caregivers. They are leading the fight against this disease! They offer valuable seminars at public libraries throughout our area. The ALZ Help Line (800-272-3900) offers live support 24/7 from caring professionals to answer questions and concerns. Their helpful webinars present the latest research and extremely helpful information for caregivers. The Alzheimer’s Association funds vital research and clinical trials in search of a cure. I am so grateful for the work of the Alzheimer’s Association and the difference they are making for so many families, like mine.

Today I am sharing my heart with you

and raising awareness

of an important way we can all help

in the fight against Alzheimer’s,

with great LOVE…

On “The Longest Day” (June 21st), people across the globe

will do what they LOVE,

or what their loved ones affected by this disease LOVE to do.

Together, we will raise funds and awareness

for the care and support of those affected,

while advancing ALZ research.

We are working toward the first survivor

of Alzheimer’s disease.

 

This is a link to donate to ALZ.org

 

I am truly looking forward to

“The Longest Day” 2019.

My husband will take the day off work on Friday

so that we can participate in this important day together.

We will spend the entire day doing things we LOVE

to honor our loved ones.

However, the most important thing we will do

on “The Longest Day”

is make our donation to the Alzheimer’s Association.

Update: June 21, 2019

Today a very generous donor is matching donations, in honor of “The Longest Day.” Your donation will work twice as hard in the fight against Alzheimer’s!💕

We can all make a difference by helping the Alzheimer’s Association in the fight to end this disease. Throughout the past few years, I have been quietly fundraising and making donations to the Alzheimer’s Association. Now it’s time to raise my voice… and ask for your help, too.

It feels very empowering to make donations to the fight against Alzheimer’s. It makes me very hopeful that one day, in my lifetime, we will find a cure and see the first person survive this disease.

The end of Alzheimer’s starts with me! ♥

The reason is LOVE.

 

With hope,

Dawn

 

 

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Gathering…

Hi Friends!

April showers have continued to drench the Midwest throughout May this year. We have already endured seventeen days of rain this month. Our rainiest May in 149 years has kept most gardeners indoors, as we study the weather forecast daily hoping for sunshine and warmer temperatures. Each day, our hearts have been heavy for those who are truly suffering in the aftermath of severe flooding and destructive tornadoes across our country.

May is always my very favorite month in the garden. Alas, this year’s Garden Journal holds only sparse notes of an hour here or there: tidying up the Herb & Tea garden, emptying the rain gauge, sweeping the Elm and Maple seeds from the front porch, and cutting bouquets of Lilacs and Lily-of-the-Valley. Mowing the lawn between rainstorms has taken a bit of strategic planning!

However, with our abundance of Spring rain,

 all of the blooming trees are just glorious!

While dreaming of sunshine,

I have been gathering inspiration on impromptu Artist Dates. 🙂

I took an early morning walk through a favorite park during Lilac Time.

Although I went to enjoy the beautiful Lilacs…

it was the magnificent Tulips that captured my fancy.

As I wandered through the park,

I gathered new inspiration for watercolors and ink combinations.

The designer who planned these sweeping beds

last Fall truly had an artistic vision!

As I paused to soak in all of Nature’s beauty…

I was inspired to make notes about ink colors.

Very soon, my little Paper Garden studio downstairs

will be blooming

with stamped, layered flowers for handmade cards.

Rainy days seem to call for a cup of tea, a cozy afghan, and a good book. I just finished reading The Art of Gathering, by Priya Parker. The author brings a fascinating background and her expertise in conflict resolution to this engaging book on creating transformative gatherings of many kinds. Priya Parker dives deep into many different types of gatherings throughout the world designed to intentionally bring people closer. Whether we gather for business meetings, family reunions, weddings, birthday celebrations, to mourn, or to experience something new, the author takes us step-by-step through the art and science of planning truly memorable gatherings.

As I read, I reflected on so many different types of wonderful gatherings over the years ~ those powerful moments in my primary classroom, inspiring workshops, unique gatherings of friends, and our most heartwarming family gatherings. We can all remember those very special, often unexpected gatherings that impacted us in powerful ways and created lasting memories.

Priya Parker teaches us that these transformative gatherings begin with an interesting purpose that matches a true need in our life. She shares ideas that help us understand who to include and who to temporarily exclude when planning purposeful, powerful gatherings that bring people closer together and inspire us to take action.

Oh, my goodness, I made notes as I read. I have always dreamed of bringing together the special people in my life who have never met one another in purposeful, small groups. 🙂 With thoughtful planning, just imagine the conversations and inspiration that would happen at such gatherings!

(Watch Priya Parker’s recent TED Talk here. It’s wonderful!)

Although I read The Art of Gathering on my own, I think it would make a very interesting Book Club selection. Readers would be able to share past gatherings and what made them so memorable. Creating events that bring people together with a unique purpose can have lasting power!

As I read The Art of Gathering, my thoughts also turned to our little gathering place for kindred spirits here at Petals.Paper.SimpleThymes. Our quiet, little blog is five years old now! 🙂  (You might enjoy reading about how our blog began in this post.)  I’m so very grateful for the old friends who have been visiting from the very beginning and the new friends who discover us and and join in the fun. I love to learn from you and am inspired by all that you share in your thoughtful comments. I truly appreciate you spending a bit of your precious time gathering here with us. YOU are often mentioned on the Gratitude page in my journal. Heartfelt thanks for always being here!

In anticipation of our 5th Anniversary, I have been making some changes behind the scenes here. There is a brand new About page. I have updated the Inspiration page and have included a few Podcasts that I’ve been enjoying lately. The Favorites page contains two fabulous, new stamp companies that have won my heart with their unique designs and truly wonderful customer service. The Say Hello page is an easy way to reach me anytime via email.

I also added a new Category, making it easy to search for blog posts that interest you most. In addition to Petals (gardening posts), Paper (cardmaking, bullet journaling, watercoloring posts,…), and Simple Thymes (life’s simple pleasures, family stories, antiquing, nature walks, travels,…), we now have an Inspiring Books category. Searching Inspiring Books will pull up all of the posts about books that have moved me to take action. These books taught me wonderful lessons and prompted me to make real changes! I hope that you will find them valuable, too.

It is our gatherings and connections that make life extra-sweet. Although I love the creative process of making cards, my very favorite part is sending my cards off in the mail to touch hearts. Although I am energized by the creative process of writing and shooting photos for each blog post, I find true JOY in our connection in the comments that you leave here. I love taking the time to read and answer each comment. I hope you feel comfortable chatting with one another here, too! Kindred spirits always gather here… and that’s something truly wonderful to celebrate!

Just wondering

  What gathering has made an unexpected, powerful impact on you? What made this gathering different from all of the others?

  Do you prefer gathering with people who are much like you or do you enjoy meeting people who are different, yet open to a shared experience?

  Do you find large gatherings or small gatherings more enjoyable?

  Is there a special gathering that you would love to plan some day?

Hope you will share your thoughts with all of us…

 

Please stay safe throughout this long, holiday weekend,

especially if dangerous weather threatens.

Let’s take a moment on Memorial Day to honor all those

who gave their lives for the freedoms we enjoy every day.

 

With love and gratitude,

♡ Dawn

 

 

 

 

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A New Rhythm

Hi Friends!

Brrrrr! The Polar Vortex arrived overnight bringing dangerous, record-breaking cold to the Midwest. We woke up to temperatures of -25 F (-31.6 C) with windchill temperatures of -50 F (-45.6 C). The loud sounds of ‘Frost Quakes’ can be heard as our soil reacts to the rapid temperature change. Today we are only four degrees warmer than Antarctica! 

Most schools here are closed today, mail delivery has been cancelled, and many people have decided to spend the day at home. We are very grateful for those who brave the Arctic temperatures to provide vital services. Friends and neighbors have been checking in to see if anyone needs help. Each time I peek out the window, I am so grateful for the heavy blanket of snow that is protecting my garden as it sleeps. Wherever you are today, we hope you are safe and warm!

Bright sunshine is streaming through the lace curtains in our dining room as I write. Pumpkin muffins are in the oven and a pot of tea is brewing. Gusty, snowy days are just perfect for writing heartwarming letters to friends. I’m so glad that you stopped to visit today! Pour yourself a cup of tea, cocoa, or coffee. Let’s catch up a bit…

The month of January has flown by very quickly this year. Such a busy time here! My dear, sweet parents are staying with us in the midst of their Big Move from Arizona back home to Illinois. Mom and Dad are very eager to settle into an easier lifestyle in their apartment in a brand new Senior Living community. They can’t wait to unpack all of their boxes as we all work together to create their new home! There have been some very disappointing delays in recent weeks. So, we continue to wait and wait and wait for ‘move-in’ day to be announced.

As we wait, oh, the sweet family times we have been sharing! Reminiscing and sharing childhood stories adds so much warmth and humor to our days. I love hearing so many of these family stories for the first time! 🙂 Mom has filled a big ‘Basket of Sunshine’ with some of her favorite things to brighten her days. Dad has been busy researching his favorite hobbies online and doing a few little repairs around the house. So many treasured memories of all the home restoration projects that Mom and Dad helped me with over thirty years ago, when I became a homeowner, come flooding back. Oh, the stories this little house could tell! (We just shared our 1988 memories of working together with a heat tool to strip paint from the kitchen cabinets, as snowflakes were drifting in through the open window. 🙂 ) Watching the the U.S. and European Figure Skating championships together over the weekend brought back warm memories of all the Figure Skating we watched together in my childhood. Yes, our cozy, little bungalow feels cozier than ever right now.

There is a new rhythm to my life now. The coming years will be extra busy as I have the honor of helping my parents. My special ‘word’ for the new year found me a few weeks ago. Throughout the year, I will focus on being more intentional about the decisions I make. My time is more limited now, so careful attention to the most important things will help to keep my health, our marriage, our family life, my creative passions, dear friendships, and our little home and garden thriving. This new rhythm feels exhilarating! It invites so many opportunities to learn and grow…

This month, I eagerly began my 2019 Self-Care bullet journal. It was a wonderful feeling to unwrap a brand new Rhodia dot grid journal filled with 160 pages of luscious, ivory, Clairefontaine paper from France. (J’adore anything French! I left a piece of my heart there on my very first visit.)

My Self-Care journal is the perfect place to record and track healthy habits. It’s interesting to notice patterns over time in my Sleep Log, Workout Log, and trackers for daily Hydration, Step Counts, Creative Time, and Time in Nature. My monthly Gratitude Log continues to be my most important journal page! Nightly reflection keeps me mindful of my Self-Care.

This year, I will be more intentional about setting personal goals. In January, I created a new monthly page entitled Reasons to Be Proud. It feels like a nice addition as I reflect on my days. My Self-Care journal has become a personal space where I can get to know myself better. I only spend about ten minutes each night with my bullet journal. Yet it always feels like a luxurious a little ‘gift’ to wrap up my days with mindful reflection!

I’ve been savoring a wonderful book, The Bullet Journal Method, by Ryder Carroll, the creator of this style of journaling. It’s so inspiring to explore all of the possibilities of this quiet, analog journaling process that requires only a simple notebook and a pen. Over the past two years, I have personally stayed very motivated by using a few art supplies in my bullet journals. The chance to play with colorful inks, brush lettering, stencils, and a bit of doodling nourishes my creative heart every day when I open my journal. My 2019 BuJo will continue to be a very important Self-Care tool as I grow more intentional and spend more of my time on what truly matters. Doesn’t it sound inviting to actually spend more time on fewer things? It’s a lofty goal for someone whose ‘Renaissance’ (my ‘R’ word for Retirement) is filled with so many interests and plans!

As we tie the ribbons on January, I’m celebrating two wonderful Artist Dates that I intentionally made time for on my busy calendar. I spent an entire day with my crafty, creative ‘tribe’ at a papercrafting Crop Day. It felt so good to play with stamps and watercolors as I worked on a few Valentine projects. We all chatted about important things, like ink and paper, as we worked together on our own creations. 🙂 Last weekend, I attended a fun Watercolor workshop, where we sketched and painted a Cozy Winter Cottage nestled in the woods. I tucked my artwork into a rustic wooden frame to display in my little Paper Garden studio. It’s a sweet reminder to be intentional about the choices I make as I discover this new rhythm in life!

What new things have you been doing in January?

Do you make resolutions or choose a ‘word’ for the New Year?

How is the weather in your little corner of the world?

Hope you’ll share with us…

 

Warmest hugs!

♡ Dawn

 

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Unexpected Joys!

Hi Friends!

The past few weeks, my heart has been filled with sweet memories of the beginnings of this quiet, little blog and some of the unexpected joys that it has brought into my life. It’s the perfect time to share the story of how Petals.Paper.SimpleThymes came to be! Enjoy a cup of tea as we reminisce and savor some photos from the blog archives…

Early in my ‘Renaissance’ (the ‘R’ word that I use for my Retirement), it was such a sweet treat to begin each day with an hour of visiting blogs. This morning ritual took me to faraway places and creative spaces, and introduced me to the most interesting people. As I got to know each blogger, it was always fun to join in the conversation by leaving a comment on each blog I visited. As time passed, I noticed that many of my favorite blogs were using WordPress as a blogging platform. Hmmmm… interesting!

One of my favorite, early morning stops was always Susan Branch’s blog. Susan has long been my favorite author and artist. The chance to soak up a bit of her inspiration and creativity was a perfect way to begin my days. The chance to leave Susan a comment and wait for her to reply was over-the-moon exciting. I had no idea how Susan wrote a blog, but it felt positively magical to me!

Just a few months later, I read that our wonderful public library was offering a WordPress workshop. 🙂 Always curious, I decided to find out just how this blog magic worked! Perhaps I could just create a private blog using WordPress. No one could see it but me! So, I chose a simple, old-fashioned theme (just like me). It reminded me of a scrapbook page, with its ribbon banner holding a title. The tiny flowers in the header reminded me of paper cuts that might embellish one of my handmade cards. All of the ‘working bits’ were tucked neatly away in a slide-out sidebar. Hmmmm… fascinating!

When I showed my sweet husband all of the magical things I had learned at the workshop, he wondered aloud what I might write about if I had a blog. Hmmmm… just out of curiosity, perhaps I could write a pretend post! No one would see it.

A lifelong letter writer, my very favorite things to write were always long letters to friends. So, I just sat down and wrote a letter to a friend and within a few hours I figured out how to insert the photos. Later that week, I met with the technology director at our library one evening. Cher looked over my pretend post and said it was ready to publish. Publish? I was truly just learning out of curiosity!

“I’m kind of shy. I could never have my own blog, Cher.”

“Let’s just click ‘Publish’ together…

and see what happens,” she said.

So, (very bravely) we did.

I arrived home five minutes later

only to discover that someone in New Zealand was reading my story!

At that very moment, I knew that blogging was truly magical.

An unexpected joy!

When I showed my husband, he suggested that we go to a nearby Quilt Show that weekend so that I could write about it on the blog. He wanted to go to a Quilt Show?? (*wink*) Soon, we began planning weekend ‘Blog Dates.” 🙂 An unexpected joy!

Still feeling shy, I decided not to tell my friends and family about the blog. I only confided in my dear friend, Cathy, who was enduring a very brave battle with ALS. I knew that the iPad attached to Cathy’s wheelchair allowed her to explore and experience the simple joys of life. Cathy began reading my posts and commented that they “felt like a walk in the park with a friend.” Happy tears! I discovered that a quiet, little blog could make a difference in someone’s day. An unexpected joy!

What fun it would be that very first summer as a blogger! I planned to stroll around my garden taking photos of my cottage perennial and herb beds. Oops! Suddenly, our quiet street was under construction and heavy, earth-moving equipment began digging up the entire street. Each night, they parked all of the equipment in front of our house. For many weeks, I would brave the dust to run out and take a quick photo in the early morning or late evening light. That summer, I learned the importance of close-up photography. An unexpected joy!

Spring Anenomes dance in the late May breeze.

Petals.Paper.SimpleThymes continually inspires me to keep learning! Over the years, out of curiosity, I attended many more workshops at our amazing library. I wanted to learn about basic photo editing, personal branding, intellectual property, watermarking my photos, close-up photography, and writing memoir. At the library, I connected with others interested in blogging. Webinars introduced me to SEO and taught me to be intentional as I created the ‘look’ and ‘feel’ of this little blog. There is still so much to learn! Currently, I am having fun exploring flat lay photography. Unexpected joys!

Petals.Paper.SimpleThymes often challenges me to be very brave! Now I find great joy in sharing personal stories celebrating the small moments that make life oh-so sweet. Sharing my ‘One Little Word’ each year keeps me accountable as I grow in so many new ways. Publishing photos of my handmade cards and hand-lettered journal pages was scary at first. I’m so grateful for all of the kindness and encouragement here. Unexpected joys!

Petals.Paper.SimpleThymes has truly enriched my life! From the very beginning, blogging has felt just like being pen pals with the world. I am genuinely humbled that people from across the globe stop here to read my quiet stories. It has been such a blessing to meet so many delightful kindred spirits and new friends who gather here and join in our conversation. The seeds of many strong friendships have grown here over the years! It feels magical each time I meet a friend in person that I have known through blogging. I look forward to nurturing our friendships in the years to come! Unexpected joys!

A ‘heartstrings’ moment of serendipity happened two years ago at a Tea Party and booksigning with Susan Branch. (Remember that Susan was my inspiration as I tiptoed into the world of blogging. Hope you will take time to visit her blog. It’s truly enchanting!) This was the third time Susan and I had met and we always had something fun to talk about together. We had another lovely chance to talk together before Tea was served. Afterwards, a long line of Girlfriends chatted together, making new friends as we excitedly waited for Susan to sign our books.

I was absolutely stunned when Susan completely surprised me! Her kind words about Petals.Paper.SimpleThymes truly touched my heart. She spoke of this delightful gathering place, a lovely community of kindred spirits, and told me that she quietly visits my blog to read my stories.

Oh, my goodness!! Be still my heart! 

A complete circle of love and kindness… and a most unexpected joy!

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

This month Petals.Paper.SimpleThymes

is celebrating its fourth birthday!

I can hardly wait to see what unexpected joys

it will bring in the coming years!

Thank you, dear friends,

for being a very special part of our celebration!! ♥ ♥

 

Scatter joy each day!

♡ Dawn

P.S.  I know that two of our dear blog friends are thinking about beginning blogs of their own. Let’s encourage them! One never knows what unexpected joys are waiting just around the corner! Hope you will share the magic of blogging in your comments! Inspiration is contagious…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A ‘Basket of Sunshine’

Hi Friends!

I’m certain that you already have everything

that you need at home.

So let’s create a ‘Basket of Sunshine’ together!

Very often, I reach for a tiny, gem of a book,

The Little Book of Hygge

(Danish Secrets to Happy Living). 

The author of this happy, little book, Meik Wiking, is the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute, in Copenhagen. He thoroughly understands hygge (pronounced HOO-GA)… and happiness!

Each time I turn the pages, I feel so inspired by the feelings of well-being, coziness, and togetherness celebrated in Danish homes. Living a simple life, filled with gratitude, can bring such comfort into our busy days. Pure hygge!

Being mindful of the health benefits of small touches of nature also adds feelings of hygge to our homes. It’s no wonder that the Danes are known as the happiest people in the world!

Meik Wiking suggests preparing a Hygge Emergency Kit  filled with essential items for those times when we all need a pick-me-up. Inspired by his list of helpful suggestions, yesterday I created a ‘Basket of Sunshine’ of my very own. I already had everything that I needed right here at home!

I brought up a large, empty basket from my Paper Garden studio downstairs. Instantly, I felt inspired to fill it with ‘happy’ things! The pink and white plaid scarf is one that I brought back from a very special visit to Paris one December. I just love wrapping up in this cozy scarf, overflowing with warm, happy memories! I added some letters and cards from friends and family, too. Writing letters always adds sunshine to my days! Next I tucked in the inspiring book Wabi-Sabi Welcome, by Julie Pointer Adams. I’m enjoying this book immensely as I soak up ideas for embracing the imperfect in our home and inviting friends to gather here. It feels sunny just dreaming up plans as I read!

Next, I tucked in two beloved journals. It gladdens my heart to savor my Morning Pages and my Garden Joys journals from 2017.  I just had to squeeze in two tiny photo albums filled with memories of lovely gatherings with my favorite author, Susan Branch. Looking back at all of the special photos from a book signing event and two enchanting tea parties with Susan fills my heart with the joy of dreams-come-true.

Music always soothes my soul. So, I added a few CDs: Nora Jones’ Come Away with Me is a perennial favorite. Her soulful, jazz vocals are so relaxing! Andean Nation’s Contrasts combines acoustic guitar and the haunting sound of bamboo pipes. I can still feel the warmth of their live performance as we walked through a lovely art fair, one afternoon in the desert Southwest. Instant sunshine!  The Elegance of Pachelbel is such wonderful music for writing and meditation. My heart melts each time I hear Pachelbel’s Canon in D. Nearly ten years ago, an acoustic guitarist played it so beautifully as my dad walked me down the aisle. Joy! Joy! Joy!

Tea makes everything better. So, I added tins of Blackberry Sage and Ginger Peach tea. I tucked in a pretty candle and there was just enough room to squeeze in a small dish of dark chocolate Kisses. Sweet little touches of happiness!

Deciding which cozy things would fill my very first ‘Basket of Sunshine’ was a delight!  I just gathered the items as I wandered from room to room. The whole process felt joyous. Whether it is a cold, snowy day, a time of worry about loved ones facing difficult times, or the need to escape from the news for a bit, now I know just where to turn for an extra dose of hygge. My ‘Basket of Sunshine’ is ready to fill my heart with cozy, happy, peaceful moments!  Every few weeks, it will be nice to add new elements of ‘sunshine’ to this special basket.

Perhaps the idea will catch on… and you will make a ‘Basket of Sunshine,’ too!  We’d love to hear what things you might add to your own basket. Hope you will share with us!

Until next time, stay cozy and be well.

Thanks so much for stopping to visit today!

Warmest hugs!

♡ Dawn

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The Snug Cheer Within

Hi Friends!

Cold, snowy greetings from the Midwest! May this be the beginning of a year filled with good health, happy times, and new discoveries! I have always loved new beginnings… and look forward to a fresh, energized start each January. For the past six years, I have chosen a word to guide me throughout each new year.  Actually, the word has always chosen me!

This year, for the first time, I was completely blindsided by my word for 2018! As always, early in the Fall I began listening closely for my 2018 word to come into my heart. There it was… and I began seeing objects with my new word everywhere ~ on plates, on hand lettered signs, even linen napkins. This little word was definitely trending! So, I set up a Pinterest board to hold all of the great inspiration. As Winter approached, my heart began to speak very loudly. (Whenever my heart speaks, I always listen!) Each time I imagined this word, I felt stress. The timing was all wrong for this great word. This had never happened to me before!

I remember the exact moment, while sipping tea one December morning and reading this blog post. My 2018 word found me, tickled my soul, and filled my heart with light and joy! Every time I think about this word, I feel excited for all of the new discoveries that await! 🙂 So, it’s finally time to share the word that will guide me all year long…

It’s perfect! It’s inspiring! It’s what I need to do for my health, happiness, and personal growth in the year ahead! That’s exactly how my word should make me feel. So, I instantly switched gears… and danced through the past few weeks just getting started!

First, I knew that it was time to create a special, dedicated space for writing. Many years ago, when we became a family, I happily gave my antique, oak desk to my husband. Now it was time for a quick trip to IKEA! You would have smiled if you saw us, on one of the coldest days of the year, trying to maneuver the large, flat box into our little car, and up the back stairs at home. 🙂 In a true ‘labor of love,’ my sweet husband spent hours and hours assembling my simple, pine desk (with its hundreds of screws). A bouquet of dried Hydrangeas from my garden, a bouquet of watercolor markers, a cup of tea, and an antique quilt on the wall now make this an inspiring place to write each day!

For the new year, I created a Self-Care journal. I wanted a more tangible way to track my workouts, sleep, gratitude, and all of my creative goals. Although my Fitbit Charge 2 stores data, there is just something about hand writing it (in ink) that makes it feel more important to me. (I wonder if I am the only retiree to embrace bullet journaling? *wink*) I chose a Rhodia dot grid journal. The French, ivory vellum paper, by Clairefontaine, is heavenly. My lifelong love for playing with paper and ink is really in high gear now!

After more than a decade away from my mat, I began a new Yoga practice this month. I created a dedicated space to practice in a corner of our living room. A nearby antique, oak bench holds candles to quiet the mind. Just seeing my Yoga mat waiting for me each day makes my heart smile! Yoga was a huge part of my life for several years, before an injury (off the mat) ended my practice. Although I will always be a beginner, being on the mat again makes me feel so alive! This month I am practicing TRUE ‘Yoga with Adriene’ (via You Tube) with a worldwide community of kindred spirits.

This year, I will be rereading Julia Cameron’s inspiring book, It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again (An Artist’s Way Program for Retirees and Other Creative Souls). I am looking forward to using Julia’s four powerful tools again this year: writing Morning Pages, finding creative inspiration in Artist Dates, taking Solo Walks in nature, and Writing Memoir. I am planning to spend one month on each chapter (instead of Julia’s one chapter per week plan), so that I can thoroughly explore each of her 12 themes fully. I have been very fortunate to find a wonderful group of interesting, creative souls who are also reading the same book!

I’m looking forward to many colorful hours in my little Paper Garden studio downstairs this year. Creating handmade cards brings me such joy! My Artist Date this week is a workshop where we will create a mixed media project filled with special memories. Making time to create is so good for the mind, heart, and soul!

Today is the first day of The Daily Marker “30 Day Coloring Challenge.” Kathy has organized several of these fun Challenges encouraging everyone to take a few minutes each day just to color something. Over the years, she has built a warm, friendly, encouraging community of paper crafters who love to create with color. I’ve decided to create thirty tiny, stamped watercolor scenes, using Art Impressions Watercolor stamps. I’m so inspired by the creative work of artist Bonnie Krebs, who designs these tiny stamps!

It was fun to gather all of my supplies in a big basket for today’s kickoff of the “30 Day Coloring Challenge.” This was my Day One watercolor. I will be working with watercolor markers, tiny Art Impressions Watercolor stamps, and a paintbrush in a spiral bound pad of watercolor paper. It will be such fun to create these tiny watercolors ~ just for me!  (Normally, I turn them into cards and mail them off to family and friends right away.) I’m making quick notes alongside each painting so that I can always create another similar scene for a card in the future.

Finally, I’ve filled a big basket with stitching projects ~  pillow cases and tea towels to embroider, supplies to create a penny rug banner, and my first punch needle project. Wintertime always seems just perfect for a warm, snug place to sit, a hot cup of tea, and a colorful project to stitch.  (I think I’m going to need at least six more creative hours in each day!)  🙂

“The snow lies warm as cotton or down upon the window-sill;

the broadened sash and frosted panes admit a dim and private light,

which enhances the snug cheer within.”

~ Henry David Thoreau

♥♥♥

Wishing you peaceful hours

that enhance the snug cheer within you!

Thank you so much for stopping to visit today.

Warm hugs,

♡ Dawn

P.S.  Hope you will share your plans and dreams for 2018 with us!

 

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