Sending Love…

Hi Friends!

Change is in the air. Can you feel it, too?

On the first weekend of October,

I always look forward to slipping off my gardening gloves

and heading downstairs to my little Paper Garden studio.

It’s time to celebrate… and get inky!

Although I worked alone in my craft studio on Saturday, it felt heartwarming to know that paper crafters across the globe were also experimenting, growing, and having fun in their creative spaces! It was a treat to chat with a dear friend as she worked in her craft loft. Cardmakers just love to discuss very important things… like ink, paper, stamps, dies, stencils, and all the tools we use. 😉

My little papercrafting studio is not fancy at all, but everything in my creative space inspires me! Rustic, antique boxes hold my supplies and meaningful artwork decorates the walls. Dried flowers and herbs from my cottage perennial gardens hang from all the ceiling rafters. It truly is my Paper Garden!

Oldies were playing on the radio on Saturday morning as I happily selected stamps, dies, paper, and ink. I was excited to have a whole day devoted to this heartwarming hobby! To celebrate World Cardmaking Day, I decided to create with favorite supplies from The Greetery.

The Greetery released their first collection in April 2019. This new company already has a large following of devoted papercrafters! We have been enjoying Betsy’s designs for many years. So very proud of her! ♥

I love everything about this new, family business owned by designer, Betsy Veldman. All of the products are made in the U.S.A. Betsy’s philosophy at The Greetery ~ Where Making and Giving Meet truly mirrors my own heart! Betsy says, “What better way to provide meaning and purpose for our creative endeavors than to be able to bless others through handmade cards and gifts!”

Our orders from The Greetery always arrive quickly, wrapped as gifts. Several of Betsy’s gorgeous, layered stamp designs are created from her own watercolor paintings. Multi-layered stamping allows us to create a watercolored look on our cards, tags, and gifts.

At The Greetery, Betsy thoughtfully designs a new collection every other month. It’s fun to choose unique stamps, dies, and stencils that are ‘just my style.’ I love carving out a bit of time to experiment with these supplies and savor the time spent creating special cards for loved ones. This feels very comforting and nurturing… a bit of an oasis the fast-paced papercrafting industry where new supplies are typically released every month!

I’ve been having great fun experimenting with Distress Oxide inks and favorite stamps from The Greetery’s “Get Cozy, Get Crafty” collection. Aren’t these the perfect stamps for my little Paper Garden? It’s beginning to feel like Autumn in the studio already!

Just playing with sprigs of bittersweet, eucalyptus, and wheat to fill vintage bottles in the Paper Garden!

It’s so lovely that the design elements from all of The Greetery collections work just beautifully together. Betsy’s videos always offer helpful, creative tips for using her stamps, stencils, and dies. She has a very talented Inspiration Team who share unique ways to use all of The Greetery’s stamps, stencils, and dies. If you are curious to see more from The Greetery, take a peek at their inspiring ‘Lookbooks.’

During this extra-busy season in my life,

I felt so blessed to have a whole day devoted to creativity! ♥

‘Bottled Up’ and ‘Budding Beauties: Autumn’  stamps/dies from The Greetery

 

‘Just Mason Around’ and ‘Budding Beauties: Autumn’ stamps/dies from The Greetery ♥ ‘Words to Live By: Gratitude’ stamps/dies (designed by Betsy Veldman) for Papertrey Ink

 

‘Just Mason Around,’ ‘Lemon Blossom,’ and ‘Simple Things’ stamps/dies from The Greetery

 

‘Budding Beauties: Autumn’ stamps/dies, ‘Halfsies Oval’ die, and ‘Knit Wits’ stencil from The Greetery

 

‘Simple Things’ stamp/die from The Greetery ♥ ‘Penned Elegance’ and ‘Scallop Stackers: Small’ die from Papertrey Ink

As World Cardmaking Day came to an end, I couldn’t resist a bit of stamped watercoloring using Art Impressions Watercolor stamps. They are among my very favorite cardmaking supplies! Artist Bonnie Krebs designs tiny, natural elements, garden containers, arbors, birdbaths, fences, gates, buildings, cobblestones, and so much more. I met Bonnie a few years ago at a stamping event in Arizona and spent hours watching her create the most wonderful, little, watercolored vignettes. There were tears in my eyes as I watched Bonnie transform a tiny piece of watercolor paper into a work of art! Now I adore stamping blossoms and foliage to fill containers and create little gardens of my very own! 🙂 So relaxing… and the possibilities are endless! ♥  (Take a peek at the You Tube ‘Watercolor Wednesdays’ tutorials!)

Whenever I have a chance to create on-the-go, I always fill my backpack with Art Impressions Watercolor stamps, tiny acrylic blocks, watercolor markers, paintbrushes, and lots of watercolor paper. I have created tiny works of ‘heart’ in so many different places. 🙂 Each time I travel, these tiny supplies always have a special place in my carry-on!

I used watercolor stamps from Art Impressions Watercolor to create the vintage watering can, bookmark, and the watercolor wreath. (below)

World Cardmaking Day helps us to celebrate this wonderful hobby!

I love the chance to experiment and grow in exciting new ways.

I’m so very grateful for all of the wonderful friends

this pastime has brought into my life.

However… my very favorite part of being a cardmaker happens today

as I write heartfelt notes in each card,

add a pretty postage stamp,

and send them off to brighten someone’s day!

It’s all about sending love

Paper hugs,

♡ Dawn

P.S.  Do you still enjoy sending cards? What types of cards do you send most often?

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Happy Things…

Hi Friends!

When the world feels unsettled in so many ways, it’s always healing to stop, catch our breath, and focus on happy things. That’s exactly what I’ve been doing the past few weeks…

Intentionally…

Mindfully…

With gratitude…

Our family recently gathered for a very special celebration in honor of our parents’ 67th wedding anniversary! What a joy it was to be together for such a happy reason! There were flowers, balloons, cards, and a delicious dinner in a very elegant setting.

Most important of all, there were so many heartwarming memories shared! The stories of how our parents met, their dating years, and the proposal on a very snowy night so long ago.

They reminisced about how my dad made it home from the Army the night before their wedding day and their honeymoon on Mackinac Island. They shared how it felt to leave their families behind, as newlyweds, when they moved to Texas where my dad was stationed next.

Months later, Mom and Dad were separated, in service to our country, when the Army shipped Dad off to Korea. They faithfully kept in touch by writing letters to one another every night. Their bundle of precious love letters, still tied with a ribbon, holds the day-to-day stories of that challenging time in their young marriage. I wonder if they will read their letters to one another again? I hope so!

Over the years, we have celebrated our parents’ wedding anniversary in many special ways and special places. However, this was one of the sweetest celebrations ever! ♥♥

After weeks of record-breaking rain totals in May, we finally have a bit of SUNSHINE!  In fact, we just had four sunny days in a row. 🙂 It truly lifts our spirits and fills us with solar energy!

We have been taking long walks, chatting with neighbors outside, and enjoying quiet times on the front porch. Our days and nights have been cooler than usual… and feel oh-so refreshing!

 

My Friendship Garden is in full bloom. It has been a delight to watch the colors change daily! The dainty, white Anemones have been dancing in the breeze. The pale purple Iris blossoms appeared next. (They always feel like a special ‘visit’ from my dear friend, Iris, in Germany!) The sunny, yellow Irises added a bright pop of sunshine to the Friendship Garden. The deep purple Siberian Irises added such depth of color to this special garden bed.

All of the plants in my Friendship Garden were gifts from the gardens of special friends. So, in addition to all of the color they add to the garden, they fill my heart with special memories of loved ones!

 

Old-fashioned Peonies added lush beauty to the Friendship Garden. They were already here 32 years ago, when I became a first-time homeowner and gardener. I often think of Mrs. G. who lived here and loved her garden for so many years. Perhaps she planted the Peonies?

Due to our abundance of rain, the bright, pink Peonies are taller this year than I can ever remember! It has been such fun to cut bouquets from the Friendship Garden for the front porch and to share with my parents.

 

After so many rainy days, I’m still busy planting containers for the front porch and our flagstone patio near the Herb and Tea Garden. “No rain, no flowers!” So, I’m grateful for the rain showers.

Although Lavender thrives in dry Mediterranean soil, our Lavender is happily blooming in its container in a corner of the Friendship Garden. Nestled along the edge of its pot are two small ‘lovebirds.’  They remind me of my sweet husband and I who will always be newlyweds! This month, we will happily celebrate our 11th wedding anniversary. The years have flown by so quickly! ♥♥

 

 

Earlier this month, a rainbow of welcoming doors was constructed and installed on the grounds of a nearby church. This artwork, created by the congregation, shows visitors to our town that ALL are welcome here. What a meaningful, heartwarming symbol of love!

 

 

A dear friend and I have a special tradition of celebrating her birthday at our beautiful Arboretum each year. This month, we were captivated by the creative artwork of Sean Kenney. Wandering along the tree-lined paths, we admired several intricate creations of insects, animals, and plants completely formed using Lego bricks. (Click to enlarge the photos to read the descriptions.)

 

Sean Kenney designs his fascinating creations to remind us that all of nature is connected just like the Lego bricks are connected.

 

 

The insects, animals, and plants are nature’s building blocks. We are reminded to take care of our fragile planet which connects us all.

 

 

Thick clouds overhead grew darker as two best friends walked and talked. Before long, we were caught in a very heavy downpour. Dripping wet as we burst into laughter, we promised to return again soon, to see the rest of these awe-inspiring creations!

 

 

For the past few months, I have been absolutely fascinated following a very special hiker on You Tube. It was her You Tube name, Radiate Joy, that first caught my attention. Yvette is documenting her 2,000+ mile journey as she hikes along the Appalachian National Scenic Trail from Georgia to Maine. Carrying her 25 lb. pack with camping essentials and 5 days worth of food at a time, Yvette is vlogging her Thru-Hike on the narrow trail, up and down mountains and across National Parks. She remains so upbeat and inspiring throughout this huge challenge!

I hope you will take a peek at her latest video on her Radiate Joy You Tube channel. As of Day 59 on the trail, Yvette has hiked northbound 865 miles, following the tiny, white ‘blaze’ marks painted on trees along the narrow footpaths. She has a beautiful way of filming her trek, with breathtaking sights and sounds of nature and wonderful music. I’m so impressed that she is filming on her iPhone and editing her videos in her little tent in the evenings. Yvette’s bubbly personality shines brightly through the rainiest of days and the countless obstacles she encounters along the AT.

In this video, Yvette shares her reasons for beginning this journey:

In this video, her journey begins:

 

Such an inspiration!! Although I would never attempt an AT adventure, I think of Yvette very often. Her joy is contagious! She inspires me to walk a little further along our nearby prairie and to meet the challenges I face along life’s journey with courage, determination, and as much joy as possible.

What Happy Things are you enjoying these days????

Do share with us…

 

Take time to smell the Rosemary!

♡ 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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Simple Joys

Hi Friends!

Our cozy, little nest is overflowing with simple joys during this extra-special Christmas season. It is so delightful to have my dear parents staying with us! My mom and I have been singing favorite Christmas songs together. Dad and I have been reminiscing over old family photos and scrapbooks together.

When we trimmed our Christmas tree before I headed off to Arizona last month, I set aside a few cherished ornaments so that my parents could enjoy hanging them on our tree once again. It’s these simple joys that make our hearts swell!

Today Mom hung this beautiful dove that she

stitched with love

for my very first Christmas tree

thirty-eight years ago.

Today Dad hung this sturdy Model A Ford

that he handcrafted

for that first Christmas tree

so long ago.

 

We are all enjoying the love and kindness of friends and neighbors.

It’s truly heartwarming that so many special people

are showering my parents with hugs.

Simple joys!

 

On Christmas morning,

Santa will fill our Christmas stockings

with tiny treats.

We don’t need any brightly wrapped gifts

beneath our Christmas tree.

Our gifts this year

are 

our parents

gathered around the tree with us.

We all agree that this will be the BEST Christmas ever!

♥♥♥

You have all been on my heart so often,

sweet friends.

Thank you for being so wonderful!

   Your kind words and your visits to our little blog

the entire time I was away

mean the world to me.

May your Christmas stockings

be filled with simple joys

today and always!

Wishing you an abundance of

good health, peace, love, and friendship.

From our home to yours…

Merry Christmas!

 

With much love & gratitude,

♡ Dawn

P.S.  Stay tuned for busy New Year here on our blog. 🙂

 

 

 

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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Christmas Past

Hi Friends!

Just a little fairy tale today…

Once upon a time, there was a little girl

who dreamed big dreams.

Along her way she collected

cherished people,

cherished places,

and cherished memories.

Very sentimental, and a bit old-fashioned, 

she kept Christmas in her heart

all year long.

Over the years, her Christmas tree

filled up with treasured stories

and became a precious ‘scrapbook’

0f her life.

As a child, I watched with admiration as my mom hand stitched a beautiful quilt. For my very first Christmas tree, my mom surprised me with a handmade dove and star, lovingly hand stitched with scraps she saved from her quilt. So precious!

The oldest ornaments on her tree

were lovely handmade gifts

from family and friends,

for her very first Christmas tree

in her apartment.

Throughout my childhood, I have wonderful memories of my dad restoring our Model A Ford. My love of antiques began with those fun rides in the ‘rumble seat’ in our Model A. He taught me how to use tools and years later helped me to restore my old house into a cozy home. For my first Christmas tree, my dad surprised me with a handmade Model A of my own! 

 

While growing up, I admired my Aunt Carlene’s ‘People Tree’ every Christmas. All of her ornaments were gifts from family and friends. I knew that I would have a ‘People Tree’ of my own one day! Aunt Carlene lovingly hand stitched this Santa and rocking horse to surprise me for my very first Christmas tree. (She worked on them while sitting in a little boat on vacation, as my uncle fished.) Truly a labor of love!

Years later, she began to celebrate Christmas

in a cozy, little home of her own.

Every December,

just after her birthday,

her brother would come with his truck

to help her choose the perfect tree.

Oh, those frigid days, as he patiently

twirled each tree on the lot,

until she found the ‘perfect’ one!

 

One extremely cold day, my brother and I put up my partially-frozen Christmas tree. My whole family helped to decorate it. A few hours later, we heard a loud crash, as my beautiful Christmas tree hit the floor, sending ornaments flying everywhere! As the branches thawed, they had pushed the tree away from the wall tipping it over. This precious ornament (a gift from my brother years before) was in need of repair. So, he patiently glued the pieces back together. Good as new… and even more special!

Her Christmas tree also holds

cherished memories of her travels

over the years.

Many years ago, I spent a magical Christmas in Germany, with my dear friend, Iris, and her family and friends. I bought the candles and candle clips there to bring a bit of German Christmas tradition to my tree. The wooden mouse came from the Christkindlesmarkt in her city in southwest Germany. (It has been enjoyed by hundreds of my young students over the years, as we studied ‘Christmas Around the World’ to learn the origins of our holiday traditions!) The glass ornaments were special gifts from my Christmas in Germany.

 

This handmade, wooden ornament is from the Czech Republic. I dreamed of visiting Prague and Iris carefully planned our adventure there. I was delighted to find this beautiful Christmas ornament for my tree on a hot, summer day in Prague!

 

Years later, she met the one

who melted her heart…

and made her want to say “I do.”

Ever since their first Christmas,

they have been trimming their tree together.

Now he knows all of her stories

that each ornament holds.

Beautiful glass ornaments

from his childhood Christmas tree

also add a very special sparkle

to their tree.

Now she knows all of the

cherished stories of his life, too. 🙂

A gift from a dear friend, this ornament always melts my heart and makes me smile. It looks just like us!

 

Their Christmas tree is filled with a lifetime of

memories and blessings!

If you peek under their Christmas tree

this year,

you won’t find many packages.

The many gifts they are giving are

gifts of kindness,

gifts of helping,

gifts of caregiving,

and gifts to their favorite charities.

♥♥♥

This little fairy tale comes from

our true story, The ‘Heart’ of Christmas.

(Click here for the story!)

♥♥♥

We know that sometimes the holidays can be

a very difficult time.

Hopefully, looking back on the memories

of Christmas Past

and looking ahead to brighter days

will remind you that you are

wrapped in our love…

 

Handmade wishes… especially for you!

 

Warm wishes to all this holiday season!

Wishing you peace, love, and hope

in the coming year.

Heartfelt thanks for the gift of your friendship!

 

Comfort and joy!

Dawn

 

 

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Nourish… to Flourish!

Nourish

Hi Friends!

For the past year, I have quietly been working each day on a very special gift ~ to me… from me. In celebration of my birthday last week, it feels like the perfect time to untie the ribbons and share this gift of love!

I have been learning to live fully by nourishing my heart, soul, and body in so many exciting ways. My ‘word’ for this year is nourish and this little word has guided me in many new directions.

 

I have been slowly working my way through It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again by Julia Cameron. Writing Morning Pages, going on Artist Dates, taking Solo Walks, and Writing Memoir have all helped to nourish my creative heart and soul.

Gathering together with other creative souls in a lovely, international, online book club has helped me to stay accountable and moving forward. Using Julia Cameron’s tools has nurtured me each step of the way.  Making creative time a priority has helped me to flourish and grow in countless ways. In fact, I’m looking forward to rereading and continuing to work through the tasks in this wonderful book again in 2018. I’m enjoying writing my memoir immensely! It has been such a gift to make time to explore my passion for creativity. It’s only the beginning…

Big changes happened in my perennial and herb gardens throughout the past year. Now that Winter has arrived in the Midwest, it’s such fun to look back through my Garden Joys journal and reflect on all of the hard work and changes…

This has been the first time in thirty years of nurturing my garden that I have ever kept a garden journal throughout the entire season. Experimenting with bullet-style journaling and using a few art supplies definitely nourished my creative soul! I have made so many changes as I ‘right-sized’ my garden beds… and I love the new look. “Less is more” has become my new mantra this year. Less weeding means more time for other creative passions! It’s only the beginning…

♥♥♥

All year long, I have also been nourishing my body and building a healthy relationship with food. Slowly, ever-so-slowly, I have ‘right-sized’ myself to a healthy weight (set by my doctor). It has been my most important birthday gift ever!  Although I have tried many times on my own over the years, it was always a struggle.

However this time, it feels very different… and I am singing the praises of Weight Watchers! With the help of Weight Watchers, I found the guidance and support that I needed. It was a little bit hard… but not too hard! (This post is not sponsored by Weight Watchers in any way. I just wanted to share…) 

Using the Weight Watchers app, I learned to be mindful of everything that I am eating. Although I had been making healthy food choices, portion control was a problem in the past. Now I use the Weight Watchers app to track each food and the amount I am eating. No food is off limits. Instead Weight Watchers has determined a Smart Points value for each food based upon its calories, saturated fat, sugar, and protein. I know my daily Smart Points budget and am able to make smart choices throughout each day. Additional Weekly Smart Points make it possible to enjoy those special celebrations that life brings.

In addition to tracking all of my meals and snacks, the other thing that truly made a difference for me is attending my weekly Weight Watchers meeting. I always think of it as a special gift that I am giving myself ~ a gift of time for my health. I faithfully go every Thursday morning. On the rare Thursdays that I am out of town, I make sure to find a Tuesday meeting or a Wednesday meeting instead. Gathering together as a community each week is a great time to share tips, recipes, encouragement, and inspiration with one another. I have made so many new friends along the way. At every meeting, Karen shares her knowledge and experience, while Fay shares kindness and encouragement as I step on the scale (privately and discreetly).

Throughout the year, I have continued my usual, active lifestyle. Taking walks in nature, working in the garden, and mowing the lawn helped me stay active during the warm weather. During cold weather, walking indoors at the mall has been a great way to ‘walk and talk’ with my husband or dear friends. It is my intention to make the Weight Watchers plan work with my usual lifestyle, so that I can continue doing what works for me long term.

Slowly, ever-so-slowly, I began to see and feel the results. My average loss was about one pound each week, although sometimes there was a plateau or even a small weight gain. Fay was especially encouraging at those times.

Little-by-little, I began to ‘right size’ my wardrobe, too. It has been fun to shop in different stores and discover my true style. Although everything in my closet is new, there aren’t too many things now. I have intentionally left plenty of ‘white space’ in my tiny closet. It makes my heart smile each time I open the door! It has felt so good to donate all of my clothing and share my very favorite clothes with friends. Hopefully, they will feel like warm hugs to everyone who wears them!

Along with all of the health benefits, there were also tiny, tangible bits of ‘bling’ from Weight Watchers along my journey. These meaningful charms celebrate: My first four weeks of meetings, 5% of my body weight, Making time for myself, 10% of my body weight, Creating a Vision (with themes: nurture, explore, create, imagine, commit, transform, embrace,…), Weight loss, Reaching my goal weight, Becoming a Lifetime member, and W.W. Freestyle.

At our weekly meeting, we celebrate each time someone receives a new charm. It is a lovely time of encouragement, honoring the huge commitment that it takes!

It felt so wonderful to celebrate with this tiny, golden key just before my birthday. It represents having reached my healthy weight goal, then learning for six weeks how to stop losing weight and maintain my healthy weight. This key is a Lifetime membership to Weight Watchers. (Yay! I no longer have to pay for the eTools and Meetings! 🙂 ) Lifetime Members must stay within two pounds of our goal weight or begin paying again. This is great motivation to maintain my weight. I’d much rather save my money for other things! 🙂 

I realize that the most difficult part of my journey lies ahead ~ the forever part. (Statistics show that with any weight loss plan, 85% of people regain the weight within two years. Knowing this, makes me even more determined to nourish myself in healthy ways!)

Over the past year, I have built a solid foundation of tools that work for me. I intend to continue tracking all of the foods that I eat and attending weekly meetings. With plenty of guidance from Weight Watchers, now I am learning how to eat a few more Smart Points each day without gaining weight. It feels like an exciting, new beginning…

Just last week, Weight Watchers introduced a new plan that gives us more freedom and flexibility with our Smart Points. For anyone struggling with weight issues, this is an exciting time to consider getting healthy and living more fully.

Now I’m creating a special Self Care (bullet-style) journal to plan and document this new chapter in my journey. It will help me to reach my new goals for activity during the winter months, including walking indoors, Zumba, Barre workouts, and a return to my beloved Yoga practice. I’m really looking forward to the challenge!

For me, this journey has been so much more than weight loss.

It is also about what I have gained during the past year…

♥  a sense of empowerment (“I can do this!”)

  dedicated time for self care, self kindness, and creativity

  patience with myself  (important things can take longer than expected)

  strategies that I know will work  (tracking my foods + attending meetings + an active lifestyle)

  lots of new friends along the way  (Each one is a unique part of my W.W. journey.)

I have been continuously blessed with the love and support of my dear husband, my wonderful family, and encouraging friends. I know they will continue to support me as I flourish in new ways!  Huge hugs, you guys!!

Thanks so much for stopping to visit today

as I untied the ribbons on this very special gift…

from me… to me!

My birthday cake (chocolate peppermint, a small piece)

tasted extra sweet this year!

 

Nurture yourself each day!

♡ Dawn

 

 

 

 

 

 

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