Matters of the Heart…

creativity

Hi Friends!

As the winter days and weeks pass, I have been on the most wonderful, heartwarming journey! This path has led me to lovely places of inspiration, time in nature, quiet hours of thinking and journaling, and most importantly, creative time in my little Paper Garden studio downstairs. Matters of the heart… most certainly!

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All year long, I am focusing on nourishing my creative heart and soul. It feels great… and has yielded happy discoveries that warm my heart and assure me that this journey is a truly important one!  One of my ‘guides’ on this journey is the inspiring book, It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again (An Artist’s Way Program for Retirees and Other Creative Souls), by Julia Cameron. Enjoy this post from January to see how this journey began.

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Several times a week, I now begin my days by writing Morning Pages. It has become a quiet time of discovery, connections, and enthusiastic planning for my creative hours in the studio. One of my favorite discoveries has been the creative ‘ribbon’ that has curled throughout my entire life! From the ages of 8, 18, 28 and into my Renaissance (the ‘R’ word that I use for my retirement), my love for lettering, playing with inks and watercolors, photography, making cards, writing letters, and collecting quotes has always had a special place in my heart. So many sweet memories… I thought about my childhood journals. I remembered my early years as a teacher, with no money for art supplies, when I would heat emboss sentiments for cards over my toaster (not recommended!). I recalled having the entire kitchen floor of my apartment covered with handpainted green flourishes drying as I created Christmas cards. I smiled as I thought about all of the famous quotations, lettered with pen and nib and black ink on parchment, that decorated the long staircase up to my apartment. (They were my homework assignments from years of Calligraphy classes in my 20s ~ perfect for decorating on a budget!) I can still hear my friends saying, “You can get a college education just climbing the stairs to Dawn’s apartment.”  Yes, truly… matters of the heart!

So, it was a joy during the past few weeks to be able to nourish my creative heart by attending two lettering workshops, a cardmaking workshop, and two Saturday Papercrafting Crop days with my crafty ‘tribe.’  I have spent so many mornings enjoying glorious time in the studio… feeling fresh and inspired!

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Weekly Artist’s Dates have become one of my favorite parts of The Artist’s Way program. Taking the time to nourish my creative spirit makes even familiar, favorite places seem new again!  While walking through beautiful Orchid Greenhouses I thought about the color combinations on the blossoms.

Rather than shopping, I wandered through my favorite store, Crate&Barrel, with a whole new purpose. I looked at patterns, textures, and colors for inspiration.

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Crate&Barrel pottery

The textures, patterns, and colors on upholstery fabric and duvet covers caught my attention. Paisley patterns danced in my head for days. 

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Crate&Barrel fabrics

Matters of the heart… 

It was time to create some Paisley patterns of my own, using paper and ink!

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Supplies: Papertrey Ink stamp, SU Dye inks, Distress Inks, Ranger blending tool, Strathmore Bristol Smooth paper

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Supplies: Papertrey Ink stamp, Papertrey Ink Dye ink, SU Dye inks, Distress Inks, Ranger blending tool, Strathmore Bristol Smooth paper, Uni-ball Signo gel pen (White details inspired by Kathy Racoosin’s beautiful designs!)

A rare warm, sunny January afternoon inspired an Artist’s Date at the Morton Arboretum.  As I strolled along the beautiful ‘Conifer Path’ I was immersed in the heady evergreen scents. Nature’s scents are what I miss the most in the middle of winter. I noticed all of the shades of green and the forms of the needle-filled branches.

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Now I look forward to creating some evergreen branches of my own using watercolors

and perhaps adding a hand lettered quotation.

These are matters of the heart…  that nourish my creative soul!

Last week, my Artist’s Date was a quiet morning spent in a wonderful, independent bookstore, Prairie Path Books. I could instantly feel that I was among friendly, interesting, kindred spirits there! They were curious to hear about my journey through The Artist’s Way program. In fact, they have even hosted Artist’s Way gatherings there in the past. So, they completely understood that I wasn’t shopping, but there to learn and discover instead. I spent time reading the opening passages of several beautiful memoirs. The words of each author filled my heart with new inspiration.

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Matters of the heart…   I have given so much thought to each exciting ‘tool’ in It’s Never to Late to Begin Again over the past few weeks: Morning Pages, Artist’s Dates, Solo Walks, and Writing Memoir.  Each one is so valuable and each takes time. Since my goal this year is to nourish my creative heart with creative time in my little studio,  I will be tweaking The Artist’s Way plan going forward. There must also be family time, time for workouts, time for home and garden projects, tea with friends, reading, scrapbooking, blogging, and travels.

So, I have decided to s-t-r-e-t-c-h this 12-week journey of discovery into a 12-month journey.  Ahhhhhh!  I’m really looking forward to working at a much slower place, and having more time to write memoir. It’s something that I have long wanted to begin. Telling our stories and documenting our lives in different ways is yet another ‘ribbon’ that curls throughout my life.

Matters of the heart…

and when my heart speaks, I always listen!

♥♥♥

Be sure to let me know if you are interested in reading more about

this journey of discovery or possibly joining in!

You can leave your thoughts below,

or contact me quietly through ‘Say Hello’ on the blog.

♥♥♥

Thank you all so much for taking time

to read Petals.Paper.SimpleThymes.

The kindness, encouraging words, and creativity

of the friends who gather here always inspire me.

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Supplies: Papertrey Ink stamps, Papertrey Ink tag die, Simon Says Stamp ‘friends’ die, acetate for ink smooshing technique, water mister, paintbrush, Distress inks, Versafine Onyx Black ink, Canson watercolor paper,… and lots of love!

Heartfelt thanks for being a part of my life…

and for allowing me to be a part of yours!

Happy Day!

Warm hugs,

♡ Dawn

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Cozy Greetings!

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Hi Friends,

Merry Christmas Eve!  Happy Hanukkah!  Just popping in to wish everyone a wonderful holiday as you celebrate in your own special ways. We are delighted to have family visiting us on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day for a cozy, old-fashioned Christmas here at home. Faraway family will join us via Skype ~ so we can all be together both days!

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Wishing all of our dear friends and lovely blog friends a merry, little Christmas…

from the bottom of my heart!

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May your Christmas be seasoned with love

and your New Year be filled

with the blessings of

good health, dear family, and treasured friendships!

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Where are you celebrating the holidays this year?

Cherish the small moments!

Warm, cozy hugs!

♡ Dawn

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Warm at Heart

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Hi Friends!

Brrrrr! December has been so cold and snowy here in the Midwest. We have already shoveled 15.6 inches (39.6 cm) of snow at our house the past three weekends, with more snow on the way tonight. Arctic temperatures have kept us in the deep freeze.

Through it all, I have felt warm at heart,

while celebrating my December birthday with family and friends!

(Perhaps it is all those birthday candles! 🙂 )

Braving the cold or snow has always been part of my birthday fun!

Bundle up and come along…

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A new annual birthday tradition began this year

with a wonderful day at the German Christmas Market.

A dear friend and I spent the afternoon visiting the Christkindlmarket at Naper Settlement.

We layered on warm sweaters, long underwear, thick socks, boots,

scarves, hats, and our warmest gloves for our adventure.

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As we explored the outdoor market,

precious memories of my visits to the Karlsruher Christkindlesmarkt,

in southwest Germany, warmed my heart.

The sounds of Christmas music and the smells of Bratwurst,

Kartoffelpuffer (potato pancakes),

and Cinnamon Roasted Almonds filled the air.

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Handblown German glass ornaments are one of my favorite memories of

Christmas in Germany.

Every Christmas, I hang a beautiful German glass ornament in our dining room window

as a reminder of that special Christmas visit.

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We stood admiring these Santas, hand-carved and painted in Russia,

until our fingers and toes felt numb.

We were just fascinated as the shopkeeper explained their intricate designs.

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Traditional German Nutcrackers and Incense Smokers

brought a touch of Germany to the Midwest.

We saw German sweets of all kinds, handmade pottery from Poland,

nativity scenes hand-carved in Bethlehem,

German steins, hats, teas, and Lebkuchen (gingerbread).

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What a delight to visit the same Christmas store that I first visited in medieval Rothenburg!

After admiring the intricate, wooden Christmas Pyramids,

Advent calendars, and glass ornaments,

I knew exactly what I wanted to bring home as a memory of our day together.

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I chose candle clips and candles for our Christmas tree,

just like the ones I brought home from my Christmas in Germany so long ago.

Those special memories always warm my heart!

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It is the Christkind (Christ child) who brings the Christmas gifts

to children in many parts of Germany.

She is a young girl, with long blond curls, a white and gold gown,

a golden crown, and the wings of an angel.

During Advent, the children write letters to the Christkind,

sprinkle them with sugar,

and leave them on the windowsill.

On December 24th, German parents bring in the Christmas tree,

 decorate it with colorful ornaments, and clip candles onto the branches.

They leave the window open just a bit for the Christkind angel…

and close the living room door.

It warms my heart to remember my German family gathered around the table

enjoying a wonderful Raclette dinner on Heilige Nacht (Christmas Eve).

As we laughed and talked, we suddenly heard the sound of a little bell ringing.

The children jumped for joy,

knowing that the Christkind had flown in through the window,

put all the gifts under the tree, lit the candles,

rang her bell, and flown away!

(I was just as excited as the children! 🙂 )

We all went into the living room, and held hands in a circle around the Christmas tree.

The warm memories still bring tears to my eyes…

Together we sang Stille Nacht in German (I had packed a little paper with the lyrics.)

and everyone surprised me by singing Jingle Bells in English.

The candles on the tree were quickly blown out, so that we could open our gifts.

It was a night I will treasure forever!

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At the Naper Settlement Christkindlmarket, we toasted my birthday

with hot Gluhwein and warm, Bavarian pretzels!

It was an extra treat to meet a friendly woman at our table,

who is an artist from our town and a kindred spirit.

Warmed by the Gluhwein, we hurried through the Christkindlmarket one more time

in late afternoon cold, and headed for home.

What a heartwarming way to celebrate with a dear friend!

♥♥♥

My husband and I have a wonderful tradition of celebrating my birthday together

by making memories in a small town,

all decked out for Christmas.

For this birthday, I chose the pretty, little town of Geneva, along the Fox River.

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It was another frigid morning as we drove west,

singing along with the Christmas songs on the radio.

As we quickly walked hand-in-hand along the main street,

we stopped to visit the all of the festive shops in the beautiful, old houses.

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The Arctic temperatures kept most of the holiday shoppers away on that Saturday.

So, we soaked in all of the quiet, friendly, holiday charm…

warm at heart.

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December is such a wonderful time of year to explore Geneva.

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Families braved the cold, waiting in line to visit with Santa Claus

and snuggling under blankets for carriage rides through town.

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We lingered in the Geneva Antique Market,

where vintage Christmas decorations filled every booth.

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After visiting all of my favorite places in Geneva, we loaded our packages into our ‘sleigh’

and headed home, as snowflakes began to fall…

warm at heart!

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Heartfelt thanks dear family, friends, and blog friends for all of the

cards, songs, visits, calls, kindness, gifts, and birthday hugs.

My heart is truly warmed

and overflowing with blessings!

I hope you are warm and cozy wherever you are this weekend! ♥♥

Bring on the twinkle!

♡ Dawn

19. December ~ Edited to add…     My heart is breaking as the news reaches us of today’s  attack at the Christmas Market in Berlin. Our prayers are with the families of those who lost their lives in the attack, all of those who suffered injuries, and the first responders who rushed in to help. I add my voice to prayers for peace in our wounded world.

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Picking Daisies

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Hi Friends!

Waiting in line has never been my ‘cup of tea,’ but this afternoon it felt different.

For I was waiting patiently in line, in my Daisy patch… behind all of the pollinators hard at work.

Slowly I inched my way into the large clump of Daisies, alongside the busy, little bees.

My morning work was finished, and my happy reward was picking Daisies.

Fresh picked Daisies, white Anemones, and Anemone seed heads

Fresh picked Daisies, white Anemones, and spent Anemone seed heads

As I waited for each little pollinator to move on, I began to count the blessings that the garden brought me this week. One-by-one, as I snipped each ‘He loves me’ Daisy, I remembered those sweet, heartwarming moments…

⚛ On Tuesday morning, as I was cutting the grass, our lawnmower stopped. Only halfway through the front yard, I tried and tried to restart the engine to no avail. David, a landscaper hard-at-work in a nearby yard, noticed my dilemma and came to the rescue. From his truck, he produced oil, a new spark plug, and his tools. Right there, in the middle of his busy morning, he adjusted the carburetor, and was able to start my lawnmower one more time. The kindness of a stranger had saved the day and I worked quickly to finish my job! (Shhhhh! I have a ‘thank you’ gift to leave in David’s truck when he comes to work in the neighborhood this week!)

⚛ Later that afternoon, while I was working in the garden, our neighbor, Jim, walked up. He had seen the lawn mower problem that morning, and ever-so-kindly offered to put the lawnmower into his truck and take it to a trusted repair shop. Now the repairman is trying so hard to work his magic, and then Jim will pick it up again with his truck. The kindness of a young neighbor (with a truck) is always so appreciated!

Raindrops on pink Clematis and Peony blossoms

Raindrops on Clematis and Peony blossoms

⚛ On Thursday morning, as I weeded the front garden beds, two lovely ladies stopped to chat as they walked past the garden. It was fun to talk with Susan, as we shared our tried-and-true tips for avoiding mosquito bites in the garden. A bit later, Devi stopped to introduce herself. She is a sweet, retired teacher, new to the neighborhood. It was such fun to tell her about our wonderful library and all that it offers! I invited her to step through the arbor to see my Friendship Garden in the backyard. Gardening always seems to invite the nicest passersby to stop and talk. It’s one of nature’s best kept secrets!

⚛ On Thursday afternoon, Elena stopped to visit. Since the day she was born, I have enjoyed watching her grow and blossom. She shared the exciting news that she now has a home of her own. Instantly, I offered to dig up perennials for her very first garden. So, plans are underway! It always warms my heart to share my garden and the gift of gardening with friends. Two other special friends, Hollice and Maria, will also come to dig up perennials to start gardens for their new homes this summer.

'Garden Grow' collage

Supplies used: Altenew ‘Garden Grow’ stamp set, Canson watercolor paper, Versafine Onyx Black pigment ink, Zig Clean Color Real Brush markers, paintbrush, water, and Post-It notes for masking images.

⚛ Saturday brought the blessing of gentle showers all day long. So, I happily spent many hours in my ‘Paper Garden’ studio downstairs. It was such fun to experiment with the Altenew ‘Garden Grow’ stamp set, creating masks to design some little garden vignettes. As I watercolored the images, using Zig Clean Color Real Brush markers, I thought about special friends who could use a bit of cheer. Soon these images will become the focal points on handmade cards. Creative time adds sunshine to the rainiest of days!

Yellow Iris and Victoria Blue Salvia

Yellow Iris and Victoria Blue Salvia, after the rain

Picking Daisies this afternoon truly did feel like an exhilarating tonic for the soul!

As the sun shone down upon the blossoms,

I slowed down to nature’s pace and took time to reflect.

So many blessings from the garden brought unexpected joys to these early June days.

Sometimes… waiting in line can be blessing, too!

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Thank you so much for picking Daisies with me today.

Your visits and comments are such a joy!

Happy Springtime days!

♡ Dawn

P.S.  What unexpected joys blessed you this past week?

Timeless Treasures

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Hi Friends!

Two of my favorite timeless treasures have always been old houses and antique quilts.

The chance to admire both, in a peaceful, charming setting

is always a wonderful treat for me!

A few weeks ago, I enjoyed a special visit to the

9th Annual “All Around the House” Quilt Show,

at Fischer Farm. 

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The main farmhouse was built by the Fischer family in the 1920s. Over the years, it has been lovingly restored,

telling the story of this hardworking, Midwestern farm family.

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The original 1838 homestead was built when the Fischer family immigrated from Germany.

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The Milk Barn and other preserved buildings offer a glimpse of farm life between 1838 and 1930.

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For one glorious weekend each Spring,

Fischer Farm invites quilters and quilt lovers to gather here.

Over 100 quilts were carefully hung on all of the walls throughout the farmhouse.

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Some of the quilts are original to the Fischer family.

Many more have been shared by private collectors and local quilters for display during this show. 

Several of the quilts were for sale during the show.

(I would love to give credit to each of these quiltmakers.

Please let me know if you can help identify any of the talented people who made these quilts!)

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It was so delightful to slowly walk through the farmhouse admiring all of the

beautifully preserved woodwork, floors, and furniture.

Admiring the antique quilts was truly the ‘icing on the cake!’

(I wished that I could reach out and touch each quilt,

but of course, these treasures can only be touched by their owners.)

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White-gloved volunteers shared a fascinating ‘bed turning’ presentation.

As they carefully turned back each layer of quilts on the antique bed,

they paused to tell the story of each quilt.

It was so interesting to see how the styles, patterns, and colors changed over the years.

Most important of all, each quilt held a story!

This Embroidered Baskets quilt belonged to Esther Fischer (1904-1999), who grew up in this bedroom.

She became a teacher and taught at the nearby, one-room Fischer Schoolhouse.

Esther lived in this farmhouse until she moved in 1986.

There were tears in my eyes as I heard the story of her special quilt.

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The soft fabrics, muted colors, and delicate stitches of antique quilts always warm my heart.

Oh, the family stories, hopes, and dreams that have been thoughtfully stitched into each quilt!

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Although I am not a quilter, I have always had a passion for quilts.

As I was growing up, I watched my mother lovingly create a beautiful quilt, block by block.

I will always remember all of the love that was handstitched into her beautiful sampler quilt.

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I have enjoyed visiting quilt auctions, quilt shows, and quilt shops for so many years.

A small collection of Amish and vintage quilts adds such warmth to our home. Each one holds a wonderful story of how it came to be part of our home.  I often think of the countless hours the quiltmakers worked designing, cutting, piecing, and quilting each treasured work of art. “Grandmother’s Flower Garden” will always be my favorite traditional quilt pattern!

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As I admired the timeless beauty of each quilt,

I had the chance to talk with several of the talented quilters.

They were all so welcoming,

while sharing their passion for quilting and teaching me more about antique quilts.

Although I explained that I am not a quilter, just a quilt-lover,

they invited me

to come to their twice-weekly gathering of quilters.

At that moment, I discovered what makes quilts such timeless treasures ~

it is the quilters themselves,

and the love that they stitch into their works of art!

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As I left the farmhouse, I followed the path to the old barn,

filled with antique quilts, vintage linens, fat quarters, and quilting books for sale.

All of the friendly quilters continued to share more

about their beloved art.

To thank each of the quilters for their kindness,

I shared the happy news

that fabrics designed by Susan Branch are now available online.

Quilters will absolutely love Susan’s charming, hand painted designs!

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Although I didn’t purchase any quilts or fabrics at the quilt show,

my heart was filled with wonderful inspiration!

I soaked up lovely color combinations and designs to bring into my papercrafting studio,

where I love making little paper-pieced ‘quilts’ on my handmade cards.

What an inspiring morning it was!

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Ever since the quilt show, I have been thinking about how

writing a blog is a tiny bit like making a quilt.

Bloggers create a handmade

patchwork of stories,

stitched with the warm comments of their readers,

pieced together from all parts of the world,

 with patches of

wisdom, memories, and joy.

These delicate threads hold us all together

through good times and bad times,

sharing the present and remembering the past,

always comforted with love.

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Petals.Paper.SimpleThymes is two years old today!!

I’m ‘sew’ grateful

for all of the warm friendships

that our little blog has stitched together.

 Each of you

helps to piece together our stories,

with warmth and love…

and tied with heartstrings!

♡♡

Thank you so much for stopping to visit today.

Warmest hugs!

♡Dawn

P.S.  One of my very first blog posts was about the 2014  “All Around the House” Quilt Show at Fischer Farm. ♥ Do you have a favorite post or type of story that you really enjoy? ♥ I’d love to hear your thoughts!

A Wee Bit o’ Green…

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Hi Friends!

‘Twas a lucky morn here!

As the rain showers ended, the birds began to sing so loudly,

as if to share the happy news…

I grabbed my denim jacket and headed out for my morning walk through the garden

observing the quick growth of foliage, in so many shades of green.

I have been checking the garden each day for a week or so.

Today was different ~ a wee bit o’ green and purple!

Oh, my heart! The first Springtime blossoms were open!

Miniature irises were in full bloom

and crocuses were just unfurling their petals.

Daffodils will add sunshine to the garden any day now.

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It’s still too early to uncover our Midwest garden beds

from their crunchy, leafy confetti

here in USDA Zone 5.

Snowflakes are predicted this weekend.

(We have memories of one late March snowstorm of 16 inches!)

While we wait, we enjoy our favorite garden books and magazines

and dream our garden dreams…

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Our Conservatory, in a nearby park,

is a lovely oasis

filled with sunshine

and

wee bits o’ green.

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It’s the perfect place to pause and reflect…

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I have been feeling so lucky

(and by lucky, I mean blessed beyond measure!)

for all of the special people in my life.

YOU are one of them!

♥♥♥

Thank you so much for stopping to visit today.

Wishing you lucky days, too!

(‘A Wee Bit o’ Green’ ~ all supplies by Stampin’ Up)

Erin Go Bragh!

♡Dawn

P.S.  What’s blooming in your neighborhood and your garden this week?

Spark Joy

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Hi Friends!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

♥♥♥

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

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

Happy Reading!

♡ Dawn

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

 

Save

Making Memories…

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Hi Friends!

It was the perfect, little getaway…  and I had been looking forward to going for many weeks! Packing required a great deal of thought. I wanted to bring everything I might need: a paper trimmer, watercolor paper, watercolor markers, stamps, paintbrushes, a big bottle of water… and of course, my camera!

It was my very first papercrafting Crop Day, and I was truly excited! Although I didn’t really know what to expect, I knew that I would meet kindred spirits there. I knew it would be the perfect place to connect with other papercrafters, share creative ideas, and celebrate this special passion we have for sharing handmade kindness.

Entering the large meeting room at our public library, I found long tables, great music playing, the library’s collection of die cutting tools and stamps… and some of my favorite papercrafting friends. Smiles and hugs started the day off right! Of course, we started moving the long work tables close together, so that we could share, and welcomed the familiar faces as they arrived.

Crop Fun

Twelve ‘happy crafters’ gathered for six wonderful hours, making time to work on our hobbies together. Everyone brought their own supplies and ideas for their projects. Within moments, we were all busily working on handmade treasures. Our creative crafters worked on beautiful birthday banners, colorful cards, special bunting, and the most amazing scrapbooks and mini albums.

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It was also a perfect time to spread out and organize photos,

while making plans for new scrapbooking projects.

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I worked on small, stamped watercolor paintings,

blissfully happy to be ‘blossoming’ in new ways!

While we worked, we talked and listened, shared ideas and supplies,

helped and encouraged one another,

and laughed a lot.

⚛⚛⚛

As we worked with our hands and hearts,

using simple tools,

my thoughts wandered back to simpler ‘thymes’

when women gathered for quilting bees and sewing circles.

It’s so important to connect with a community of kindreds,

who can share, encourage, support, and

inspire one another.

Although we began working quietly,

before long happy chatter filled the room.

Wonderful new friendships grew that day.

Our six hours together flew by much too quickly!

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As we shared our projects and began to pack up our supplies,

we all had the very same thoughts…

“Wouldn’t it be amazing to have another Crop Day at the library?”

So, we each wrote our ideas and dropped our notes off at the ‘Compliments’ desk.

(That’s what I call the friendly, Welcome desk

where I often stop to write happy compliments about the incredible people who work at our library!)

I’m delighted to report that another Crop Day is planned for March 5th!

We can hardly wait!

We hope that even more papercrafters will join us

for another day of memory keeping and memory making!

⚛⚛⚛

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February is the perfect month to celebrate friendship! 

So, I’ve been spending many happy hours in my little Paper Garden creating tiny Valentines.

My papercrafting friends might be curious about the I supplies used:

Paper:  Canson Watercolor paper, Recollections cardstock

Ink: Marvy Le Plume II watercolor markers, water, #4 round paintbrush,  Versafine Onyx Black ink, Colorbox Gold pigment ink

Stamps: Art Impressions watercolor sets ~ Flower set, Foliage set, WC Containers set; sentiment ~ Honey Bee Stamps

Dies:  Papertrey Ink Tag Sale: Quilted Die

Adhesives:  ATG, Tombow Mono Multi

Twine ~ K & Company

Listening to:  Great Oldies on the radio

Feeling: Blessed by so many dear friendships!

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There is nothing like ‘gardening’ indoors on a cold winter’s day!

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The sweetest moments for me, as always,

are mailing off my cards,

 sharing handmade kindness

with family and friends,

near and far.

♡♡

Do you gather with others to share your hobbies?

Hope you will share…

Sending paper hugs!

♡ Dawn

Joyful

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Hi Friends,

 

Just the other day, I spent some time in our lovely conservatory in a nearby park.

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It is an oasis of calm, peace, and quiet beauty.

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As I admired the stunning Chrysanthemums 

in the Thanksgiving flower show,

each of you

were on my mind.

I was counting my blessings…

and they numbered more than the flower petals.

So I ‘picked’ a few of my favorites… just for you!

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Our little blog has become such a special

gathering place

of kindred spirits.

It fills my heart with

joy

when I think about all of us…

sharing, reminiscing, celebrating,

encouraging, learning and growing

together.

♥♥♥

Whether we are much-loved family,

 dearest old friends,

exciting new friends,

wonderful blog friends,

or quiet friends that I have not met yet,

it fills my heart with so much

gratitude

that we take a bit of time

to gather here.

♥♥♥

Wherever you live in the world,

may you make this a time of Thanksgiving.

Take time every day to count your blessings out loud.

It is gratitude that makes us joyful!

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Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

So thankful that you are here today!

Warm hugs!

♡ Dawn

For the Love of a Letter…

Letters are like visits… when friends are apart!           {via Tumblr}

Hi Friends!

I’ve been thinking about one of my very favorite pastimes today!  As far back as I can remember {and that’s a long time}, I have always loved writing letters. It just fills my heart with happiness to pick out pretty stationery, find a lovely postage stamp, a nice pen, and let the words just flow… straight from my heart! Often I will tuck in a photo or two that hold special memories. Letter writing is one of the joys that has made such a difference in my life!

It has always been my style…

On our family vacations throughout my childhood, I would bravely strike up a conversation with someone my age at the campground or by the swimming pool. Before parting ways, I would often ask them to be pen pals so that we could continue our friendship all summer long. Throughout grade school and high school, I loved writing letters to my French pen pal. Oh, the excitement to find her letters in our mailbox!

It has expanded my world in wonderful ways…

Some of the friendships that I treasure most in life began by writing letters. After a brief meeting in person, my German friends and I watched our friendship blossom through letter writing. We learned patience, as we waited weeks for our letters to cross the ocean and back, with a long-awaited reply.  The anticipation made it ever so exciting!

It keeps hearts close across the miles…

Writing to friends and family in other states always makes the distance between us seem shorter. It is always so heartwarming to discover a Kindred Spirit who also loves to write letters! Oftentimes, our friendships have grown even deeper, through letter writing, after a friend has moved away, Sharing our hearts in handwritten letters, even when friends live nearby, has helped our friendships grow in the most wonderful ways.  Making time to write a real letter, in this age of electronic communication, is a true expression of affection, friendship, and love! The gift of rereading a letter several times multiplies the joy of receiving it.

It is filled with sentimental creativity…

Pretty paper always makes my heart soar! Just choosing the perfect piece of  stationery is part of the charm of the handwritten letter. Once the paper is filled with carefully worded thoughts, it becomes a heartwarming, little gift for a special someone. I also adore sending notes in handmade cards.  Spending time thinking about the recipient while I create their card always feels like a little visit. Letters are like visits… when friends are apart!

There is love in the tiniest details…

At the post office, I always ask to see all of the stamps, just to find the perfect one for the recipient… one they might enjoy. In my Calligraphy days, I would dip my nib into handmade ink colors as I addressed each envelope, to complement the postage stamps. It’s the little things that make my heart happy!

Writing a letter feels so good…

There is even a scientific reason why making time to write a letter or note, even on the busiest of days, makes me feel so happy. This simple act of connecting and bonding with a friend, without any expectation in return, stimulates Oxytocin (the ‘feel good’ hormone) levels in the bloodstream. When our Oxytocin levels rise, it becomes easier to deal with stress. Writing letters is such a healthy, happy pastime!

Letters become real treasures…

Letters document the small moments of our everyday lives in a real, lasting way.  My mom still treasures the weekly letters that my dad sent her while serving in Korea. They are tied with a ribbon, joining two young hearts so long ago. The stories these letters hold are so important to our family. They are a cherished part of our history.

Letter Writing journals held the daily letters that my young students and I exchanged long ago. They each enjoyed writing me a letter in class, while I enjoyed answering their letters at home, while sitting on the porch swing. They shared the important things ~ their families, their pets, their dreams, and their questions. We grew so close, through our daily letters. Over the years, so many students have let me know that they saved their teddy bear Letter Writing journals because they hold the stories of an entire year of their lives! Their letters document an important part of their childhood.

During a recent summer, a young neighbor and I also shared a Letter Writing journal. I would deliver my letter to his mailbox early each morning and he would carefully tuck the journal holding his reply behind the checkerboard on our front porch. (He wasn’t quite tall enough to reach our mailbox!) We both looked forward to our daily letters! Over the summer, this struggling writer discovered that writing is communicating and can be really exciting! We will always be important friends because of the letters we wrote that summer.

Over the years, as my young students have grown up, many still keep in touch. I will always cherish their letters, filled with their everyday stories, important questions, hopes, and dreams. They often write from college, sharing their lives as they grow up. Oh, how these letters touch my heart!

It’s so nice to brighten someone’s day…

During these uncertain times, it is so lovely to send words that someone special can hold onto for years to come. Although weeks or months (or even years) have passed, perhaps there is someone special who would love hearing from you! When they find your letter in the mail, everything just picks up right where you left off. You could write a long, newsy letter to catch up on one another’s lives, send a handmade card with a little note, or write a special thank you letter for a kindness. It’s never too late. Whenever one person writes a letter ~ it makes two hearts happy!

It’s easy to spread sunshine to friends you’ve never met…

"Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in your heart."  ~ Winnie the Pooh

“Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in your heart.”
~ Winnie the Pooh

There are many wonderful organizations who welcome your handwritten notes. It’s such a small act of kindness that makes a big difference in the world. Postcrossing is a fascinating way to connect with people from all parts of the world by sending postcards. Writing ‘Any Hero’ letters is an important part of the amazing organization, Operation Write Home.  Letters from American citizens are delivered to American military personnel deployed across the globe. It’s our opportunity to thank them for their service and sacrifice. What a small act of kindness for those who give so much for all of us! Just writing letters, notes, or postcards can make a real difference in the life of someone you might never meet!

It’s the perfect time to write…

‘National Send a Handwritten Letter Day’ will be celebrated on the 17th day of every month in 2015. If everyone writes just one letter, it will support the goals of preserving and honoring the art of the handwritten letter, pumping millions of letters into our struggling postal system, and bringing millions of smiles into the hearts of people from coast-to-coast.

The ‘Happy Mail’ movement encourages everyone to send a card, note, or letter, too. Their goals are to make someone’s day, connect people (and hearts) together, and to save a mail carrier’s job! Just the simple act of writing a letter makes a big difference to everyone who touches the letter ~ you, the person sorting the mail, the person delivering the mail, and the recipient. So much happiness flows from one little letter!

It has been such fun to write Valentine notes and letters this week. ♡

It has been such fun to write Valentine notes and letters this week. ♡

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, once said “Letters are among the most significant memorial a person can leave behind them.” Handwritten letters hold our stories and document our lives in the loveliest of ways. They are best savored with a cup of tea!

“Or don’t you like to write letters?  I do because it’s such a swell way to keep from working and yet feel you’ve done something,” wrote Ernest Hemingway.  That’s so true for me! Writing a letter always feels like playing, rather than working!

Just LOVE to write letters! I'm off to brew a cup of tea...

I will always be a letter writer at heart!

I’m looking forward to writing a long letter to a faraway friend this weekend. Emails are great… but a letter to hold, reread, and save is an extra-special gift of love and friendship! Writing letters is just what I do, and have always done. Sometimes the good, old-fashioned traditions are the best ways!

Hope you will make someone’s mailbox happy… and put a smile in their heart today! ♡

Happy writing!

♡Dawn

P.S.  Are you a letter writer?  Please share your stories, too!  Who would just LOVE to receive a letter from you this week?

{All stamp images ~ USPS}