Hello Summer!

Hi Friends!

Early mornings in our Midwest garden fill my heart with both comfort and joy! Those relaxing busy hours spent garden-keeping have been the perfect time to watch my garden dreams materialize. It’s so exciting to see all of the changes in the garden!

Throughout last Summer and Fall, I worked diligently to ‘right-size’ my large perennial gardens. Early this Spring, we removed two more perennial beds and two bushes from the front yard, replacing them with grass. We just love our new, simplified front yard!

We are not finished making changes yet. The large Magnolia bed, Front Porch bed, and Side Porch bed continue to keep me very busy. This Summer I am pondering ways to ‘right-size’ these garden beds next. The guidance (and courage!) offered by garden author Kerry Ann Mendez, in her book The Right-Size Flower Garden, continue to inspire me to make changes throughout my garden.

Last Fall, I removed a large Cutting Garden near the deck, ‘rescuing’ and transplanting several of my favorite, old-fashioned perennials to the white, picket fence border of my Herb & Tea garden. Creating garden ‘maps’ last Fall proved to be one of my most useful garden ‘tools.’  Several times this Spring, I carried the ‘map’ out to my Herb & Tea garden as the plants emerged. It has been such a joy to watch all of the changes come to life! I will continue to edit my garden ‘maps’ as I move plants around and make new additions. Recently, I added Lime Basil and Cinnamon Basil to the herb bed. 🙂

Last Summer I also worked extremely hard digging up a huge bed of Daylilies, providing space along our garage to create a new History Garden bed. In the Fall, I transplanted several old-fashioned perennials that were already growing here thirty years ago, when I moved here and learned to garden. To me, these plants are true treasures! Again the garden ‘map’ has been so helpful. As the plants bloom, I will fill in the missing colors on the ‘map’ using watercolors. I’m still saving a spot for one new perennial from my ‘Wish List.’  🙂

This year, my new Garden Joys’ journal has also become a very helpful tool as I document the changes in our garden. I’m noting the bloom times of the perennials in their new beds, hoping to provide continuous color throughout the garden.

Just looking back over all of the changes so far has been a joy!

It makes the time spent on this bullet-style garden journal feel so worthwhile.

I’m never alone in the garden…

The robins, cardinals, wrens, bees, butterflies,

squirrels, and bunnies are welcome guests.

It’s such a joy to watch the mother wren flying into the Herb & Tea Garden birdhouse

to care for the eggs in her nest!

I am always happiest when I am working in my Herb & Tea Garden.

Just stepping through the garden gate fills me with sweet memories.

It truly is the ‘heart’ of my garden ~ built with love!

We have our garden challenges this year, as well.

There is a very hungry groundhog in residence who has devoured

all of the Mums and the patches of Black-eyed Susans throughout the garden!

He (oops!) She now has five young groundhogs who are nibbling everything.

They have been climbing through the Herb & Tea Garden fence

and helping themselves to Oregano, too.

Although they really are cute…

 I do wish our groundhogs would develop a healthy appetite for weeds, instead.

(We have more than enough weeds to share!)

The first two weeks of June were extremely dry, but recently we have had lots of rain.

So, garden-keeping has kept me extra-busy this week.

The wet soil has made weeding so much easier.

I just keep weeding, weeding, weeding…

and picking pretty bouquets

of Summer blossoms. 🙂

 

What’s happening in your garden?

What challenges do you have in the garden?

What kind of blossoms have you been cutting for bouquets?

Hope you will share…

 

Perennially yours,

♡ Dawn

Inspiration… Everywhere!

Hi Friends!

Early Saturday morning we drove out into the countryside ~ passing lush, green fields, tidy, white farmhouses, and faded red barns. We were both looking forward to being outside in the morning sunshine and soaking up inspiration. As we pulled into the quiet, little town of Morris, our car knew the way to our usual out-of-the-way parking place. (The perfect spot just in case we wanted to carry some inspiration back to the car!)

It was 8 o’clock and Canalport Park was already filled with people. The friendliest people gather at the 3 French Hens French Country Market very early on the second Saturday of each month, from May through October. Everyone is seeking their favorite kind of inspiration!  Young and old, couples, singles, and families with pups on leashes wander through the park in search of antiques, upcycled art, handmade jewelry, artisan soaps, fresh-baked pies and breads, flowers of all kinds, and so much more.  Locally grown produce and a variety of tempting, hot foods and cold drinks often inspire a spur-of-the-moment picnic in the park, too.

As always, my husband and I started off together looking at the tables and displays filled with antiques. Before long, we each ventured off in search of our own favorite types of inspiration. I am drawn to antique furniture, vintage dishes, antique teacups, and interesting stoneware crocks, enamelware pitchers, and Mason jars to hold bouquets of garden flowers. He is drawn to antique books, old tools, and historic memorabilia.

Before long, he will walk across the wooden footbridge crossing the historic I & M Canal ~

to find inspiration

in a quiet walk in nature.

 

He enjoys hiking the wooded path to the Illinois River

to observe the local fauna and watch all kinds of boats on the river.

This was my Saturday morning ‘Artist’s Date’ seeking inspiration for our home and garden, as I nourished my creative heart and soul.  I have been truly smitten with Farmhouse Style decorating lately. Fresh, white beadboard, walls covered with wood slats, natural wood finishes, and pops of color and natural textures have been calling my name. Old and rustic, yet simple and fresh! What better place to soak up that Farmhouse feeling than in a lovely park in the countryside! I have always been drawn to wooden signs ~ the words, the lettering styles, the rustic textures, and the soft colors. Walking through the 3 French Hens French Country Market felt like I was walking through my favorite Pinterest boards, with inspiration everywhere!

Come on along… so I can show you a few things that caught my eye on Saturday morning!

These muted colors and different textures made my heart sing!

Everything on this table could find a place in our little ‘nest.’

Bunting makes every day feel like a little celebration!

Hand lettered signs add just the right touch of warmth and coziness to any room.

I love the brush lettered style (especially bouncy brush lettering!).

I think I’m going to need some old, rustic barnwood! 🙂

This ‘Artist’s Date’

surrounded me with inspiration… everywhere I looked!

Lettering inspiration embellished

fluffy, white pillows,

embroidered, straw hats,

and more weathered barnwood!

As I walked along the edge of Canalport Park, I came upon something that stopped me in my tracks. Right before my eyes, a Tractor Parade turned slowly onto Illinois Street. Vintage farm tractors and modern tractors of every color and size passed by very slowly. Most of the tractors displayed American flags and many had shade umbrellas, too. A local artisan told me that farmers love to parade through small towns on Summer weekends in their beloved tractors, gathering for breakfast together in a small cafe. I just had to stop and watch…  🙂

This parade brought back such wonderful childhood memories of riding in antique car parades on Summer weekends. My dad drove our Model A Ford Coupe, that he had lovingly restored, blowing the ‘ooh-gah’ horn often. Dad and Mom rode inside the car, while my brothers and I waved to the parade watchers from the rumble seat! 🙂 

It’s such a wonderful thing when people discover their ‘tribe’ of kindred spirits ~

car people, tractor people, boat people, train people,

readers, gardeners, runners, cyclists, collectors, crafters,… ! 

Inspiration is everywhere, if we just take the time to look for it.

More lettering inspiration ~

on rusty metal and rustic paper!

 

These signs were lettered on upcycled kitchen cabinet doors. What a great idea!

One of them just had to come home to our cozy, little bungalow.

Can you guess which one?

It’s a good thing our perfect, out-of-the-way, parking spot was nearby!  🙂

After two inspiring hours, my husband came to find me in the park.

We had just enough time to look for inspiration in the nearby vintage shops ~

before driving one more hour through the peaceful countryside

to spend a lovely afternoon with our dear family.

♥♥♥

Thanks so much for visiting today!

Where do you find inspiration on a Summer weekend?

 

Perennially yours,

♡ Dawn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Matters of the Heart…

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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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Touched by Magic!

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Hi Friends!

“The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them. The hunt to uncover those jewels – that’s creative living. The courage to go on that hunt in the first place – that’s what separates a mundane existence from a more enchanted one. The often surprising results of that hunt – that’s what I call Big Magic.”

~ Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic

A true ‘jewel’ of a book has touched my heart and soul. It’s the kind of book that had me in tears  as I read, for it spoke so much about the creative path that I am following during this exciting chapter of life! Perhaps this wonderful book is also on your stack of books to read…

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After a very long waiting list at the library, my turn to explore the magic of creativity finally arrived. It was a double-blessing to check out both the book and the audio book of Big Magic at the same time. What a joy to hear Elizabeth Gilbert’s passion as she read to me, while I followed along, adding sticky notes to the passages that inspired my creative heart.

Liz Gilbert shared the reasons why it can feel so scary to take risks as we create. Whether you are a papercrafter,  a watercolorist, a quilter, a glass-blower, a writer, a composer, a poet,… any kind of artist at all,  Liz helps us understand how “Your fear will always be triggered by your creativity.” As I read, I filled a journal with quotes and connections to her powerful inspiration.

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Now I truly understand why it can be so hard to go downstairs to my ‘Paper Garden’ studio to begin a new project. Liz encourages us…

“Work with all your heart, because – I promise – if you show up for your work day after day after day after day, you just might get lucky enough some random morning to burst right into bloom.”   

~ Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic

 

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Now I can understand why, on some days, all creatives feel like we have lost our mojo. We have the time to create, a dedicated space to be messy, and wonderful supplies at hand. In spite of these many blessings, we just don’t feel creative. On those days, I can only look through my paper, paints, ink, and stamps as I wait for my inspiration to return.

Liz reminds us…

“The most important thing to understand about eudaimonia, though – about that exhilarating encounter between a human being and divine creative inspiration – is that you cannot expect it to be there for you all the time. It will come and go, and you must let it come and go.” 

~ Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic

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Liz encourages us all to look back through our family history to find the makers that we come from. So true! I come from a long line of makers. As I grew up, I watched the joy and hard work of my parents as they worked with with their hands and hearts. My mom made a beautiful quilt, colorful stained glass pieces, handmade pottery, sewed our clothes, baked the most wonderful cookies and cakes, and tended her lovely rose gardens. My dad built our bedrooms upstairs and our family room downstairs, restored several antique cars, and designed Lionel train layouts. Even today, their creative passions add joy to their days. My Aunt Gilda, with an advanced degree from The Art Institute of Chicago, found joy as she worked with pen and ink, as a sculptor, painter, quilter, and calligrapher. (One day, I promise to share more about these amazing, creative makers who have been a source of lifelong inspiration to me! ♥) From time to time, I’m sure they all felt the same creative fears that I feel. It’s all a part of the magic!

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Especially this year, as I strive to ‘blossom’ (my ‘One Little Word’ 2016) by bravely sharing my artwork and taking part in creative Challenges that stretch my skills,…  I can feel the magic happening! It gives me the courage to keep sharing. I feel so blessed to gather with other makers at our monthly papercrafting Crop Days. It feels so inspiring to spend time with my creative ‘tribe.’

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Liz celebrates makers of all ages…

“If you are older, trust that the world has been educating you all along. You already know so much more than you think you know. You are not finished; you are merely ready.” 

~ Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic

Even though it’s hard work and can feel scary at times, I feel so ready ~ ready to learn, ready to grow, ready to blossom! I am so grateful to all of the creatives online who teach and inspire me each day. (You might like to check out my Inspiration links in the blog header.)  They shared Big Magic with me… and I couldn’t wait to share Big Magic with you!

♥  Beginning this week, Big Magic is available in paperback, too.

♥  I absolutely loved the audio book of Big Magic! There is nothing like hearing the passion in an author’s voice as she reads her inspiring words aloud to you!

♥  After publishing Big Magic, Liz wanted to continue the conversation about creativity. Her delightful podcasts, ‘Magic Lessons,’ are “roadmaps to creativity and the little nudge we all need when we feel stuck creatively.”  I enjoyed all 12 wonderful episodes from Season 1. Now Season 2 of ‘Magic Lessons’ is already underway.  Check out the ‘Magic Lessons’ podcasts!

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Yes, I have truly been touched by magic…

and I look forward to sharing more connections to the inspiration and lessons

I’ve learned from Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic

 I’ve only just begun to blossom! ♥

“All I know for certain is that this is how I want to spend my life – collaborating to the best of my ability with forces of inspiration that I can neither see, nor prove, nor command, nor understand. It’s a strange line of work, admittedly. I cannot think of a better way to spend my days.”      

~ Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic

♥♥♥

Hope you will join in the conversation here!

Have you read Big Magic?

Do any of these quotes from the book touch your creative heart?

 

Be awesome today!

♡ Dawn

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Inspiration is Blooming Everywhere!

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One last Rudbeckia blossom shines with Chrysanthemum blooms in our Autumn garden.

 

Hi Friends!

Summer’s last hurrah was a delightful gift for Midwestern gardeners! We had three glorious days of warm sunshine and blue skies to finish putting our gardens to bed earlier this week. Squirrels were scampering around in the yard getting ready for the cold weather, while I scampered about in the garden!  Our trees are almost bare now and the leaves have been raked and mulched. Autumn’s bright colors are fading very quickly now.

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Many gardeners enjoy cleaning up their flower beds in Autumn. However, I always leave the stems and seed heads standing through the winter months. The birds can take advantage of the seeds while other food sources are buried under the winter snow. It brings me such pleasure to enjoy my ‘shadow garden’ all winter long, when the tall stems and dried seed heads cast lovely shadows on the snow. As I shovel, I delight in the wonderful garden memories. Although my fingers and toes may be frozen, my heart is always warmed by the sweet shadows reflected on the sparkling snow.

We are expecting a chilling Halloween, in more ways than one!  Brave trick-or-treaters will really have to bundle up this year. Costumes based on the movie ‘Frozen’ will match our Halloween chill. With warnings of a killing frost on Friday evening, it’s time to gather the flowers, filling vases with the last colorful blossoms of the season. I’m looking forward to surprising our neighbors with bright bouquets!

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Many years, we still have Chrysanthemums blooming in the garden to create a lovely Thanksgiving centerpiece.

 

Any time you need a little sunshine, please stop by to visit our garden!

{ via Pinterest }

It’s so easy to  revisit all of this year’s garden memories. It might be lovely to brew a cup of tea. Then just click on the dark stripe on the far left side of the screen. Under ‘Categories,’ click on Petals.  Take a leisurely Springtime walk through the garden. Enjoy the perennials and herbs throughout the summer months, and visit the garden in Autumn. You might enjoy reading the sweet memories of our Friendship Garden and Herb Garden, too.

Inspiration is blooming everywhere!

Over the past few weeks, I have been busily setting up a Studio space for papercrafting. In anticipation of having a special place to be creative (and messy!), I have been finding much inspiration from some of my favorite crafters. I’d love to introduce  you to someone very special ~ Sandy Allnock, founder of Operation Write Home. Sandy’s tireless efforts on behalf of our nation’s heroes really make a difference!   I admire her creativity, talent, hard work, and dedication.

Sandy’s ‘Silverware Theory’ of craft room organization makes so much sense. You might enjoy her video, showing how she organized her new craft room. I found wonderful inspiration at 15:36 in the video. Take a peek!  Sandy keeps an ‘Inspiration Drawer’ near her desk. It is filled with her newest  tools and supplies for cardmaking. What a great idea!

Inspired by Sandy, I started filling an ‘Inspiration Box’ when I began dreaming of a Studio space of my own. The contents of my Inspiration Box are always changing. Whenever I bring home new cardmaking supplies or tools, they go directly into my Inspiration Box. Each time I begin a new project, I take a peek in my Inspiration Box and try to use something new! It’s fun to learn new skills by trying new things!

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New cardmaking supplies and tools find a special home in my Inspiration Box until they are used on a project.

After I use the stamps, embellishments, or tools once or twice, then they move to the storage drawers in my Studio. Hopefully, I will remember that I have them because I have already used them! I intentionally chose a small, photo storage box to use as my Inspiration Box. As it fills up, it is a great reminder to use what I already have before buying more supplies.  Inspiration + Motivation = a very happy, contented cardmaker!

If I came home from the craft store and immediately put  the new supplies into the drawers, I would forget that I bought them. Sandy’s idea works like magic! At the moment, my Inspiration Box is filling up. The next time I go downstairs to the Studio to make cards, it will be fun to be creative with the Wplus9 ‘Hand Lettered Hello’ stamps and dies, the lovely sentiments in the Power Poppy ‘Renewal’ stamp set, or the Sizzix ‘Filmstrip’ die.  Oh, the ideas are already flowing!!

I always think of Sandy when I open my Inspiration Box. I’m so grateful for this small idea that makes so much sense!  An Inspiration Box, Drawer, or Basket might help so many different crafters ~ holding fabric and accessories for sewing, beads for jewelry making,…   It’s a lovely reminder to use what you have!

Inspiration is blooming everywhere around us!

Create happiness!

♡ Dawn

 

P. S.  Can you think of a way to adapt the Inspiration Box idea to help motivate or inspire one of your creative passions?