Summer Songs

Hi Friends!

Ahhhh, the lovely soundtracks of Summer days…

Summer songs are all around us.

Can you hear them, too?

Each morning, as I step outside and stroll through the arbor into the backyard, I feel so grateful for all of the rainy days we have had this summer. The pitter patter of raindrops has been one of our most popular Summer songs! Over the past few weeks, we have had another 7 inches (17 cm) of rain.

In fact, our garden hose is still tucked away in the garage. Mother Nature has been watering for me all Summer long! 🙂 She even refills our bee baths and birdbath. I’ve been helping a tiny bit, using a vintage watering can to water the containers on the front porch.

Our perennial, cottage garden is quite lush and the weeds are most definitely thriving, too! The clematis blossoms that adorned the top of the arbor have been artfully rearranged by a frisky squirrel. I’ve been watching him climb up and down the arbor as if he were climbing a ladder. Although concerned at first, now I’m just tickled by the way the squirrel has arranged the pale purple clematis vines!

The garden has also been filled with a symphony of delightful birdsong this Summer!  Our feathered friends made themselves right ‘at home’ in the birdhouses throughout the garden and built a nest under the eaves. Their sweet songs always entertain me while I am busy gardenkeeping. My favorite garden task this month has been cutting bouquets of blossoms to fill stoneware crocks and Mason jars on the front porch. 🙂 What a peaceful way to begin each day!

Pops of color from the Asiatic lilies and wide drifts of orange and yellow daylilies in full bloom have been just lovely. This week, as I cut down millions hundreds of spent daylily stems, my heart smiled with gratitude for their glorious show during the past few weeks! An abundance of Annabelle hydrangeas allows me to cut armfuls of the huge, white blossoms to add cozy, old-fashioned charm to our front porch and dining room. It’s fun to send visitors home with a bouquet, too!

Now in the mid-afternoon, we can hear the cicadas tuning up. Their loud, boisterous chorus continues until  evening, when the daylight fades and the fireflies entertain us while we relax on the front porch.

The buzzing of the bees as they work to pollinate the garden is one of my very favorite Summer songs. When the bees are happy, the gardener is happy!

This month, the bees are also creating quite a buzz in my Self-Care bullet journal…

I played with a hexagon stencil and Distress Ink as I set up my July pages.

Each morning, I graph the number of hours I slept.

Every evening, I jot down things that I was grateful for that day.

My Gratitude page fills up very quickly each month.

It is always the most important page in my Self-Care journal.

Each day, I track my workouts,

the glasses of water I drink,

and my number of steps.

 

There is no mention of food

in my Self-Care journal.

(It’s so easy to track my healthy meals each day in the Weight Watchers app.)  🙂

This special journal highlights all of the other things

that make my life a healthy, happy one!

 

My sweet husband and I each wrote

‘Six-Word Love Stories’ about our marriage

and I added those heartfelt words recently.

The final July page in my journal holds a few heartwarming quotations.

Although it takes many hours to create my journal pages,

it only takes 10 minutes each evening to fill them in.

This reflective time always feels like

a special, little gift to me!

 I’m already thinking about an August theme

for my bullet journal.

Hmmm, perhaps… sunflowers!

 

There is still one more favorite Summer song…

Every year, one song becomes a celebration of my Summer days.

It’s been that way ever since my high school days. 🙂

My ‘Summer song’ seems to choose me,

very much like my ‘word’ for the year does.

This song has been following me

everywhere I go ~

whether I’m driving

or creating in my little

Paper Garden studio downstairs.

I’m always singing along!

♥ ♥ ♥

♫ ♬ This is my wish for all of you!

(With huge thanks to Jason Mraz for his wonderful lyrics!) 🙂

I’m so grateful that you stopped to visit today!

What kinds of Summer songs are making you smile this year?

Hope you’ll share with all of us…

 

Just keep singing!

♡ Dawn

 

 

 

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Unexpected Joys!

Hi Friends!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Let’s just click ‘Publish’ together…

and see what happens,” she said.

So, (very bravely) we did.

I arrived home five minutes later

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

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

An unexpected joy!

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

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

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

Spring Anenomes dance in the late May breeze.

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

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

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

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

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

Oh, my goodness!! Be still my heart! 

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

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

This month Petals.Paper.SimpleThymes

is celebrating its fourth birthday!

I can hardly wait to see what unexpected joys

it will bring in the coming years!

Thank you, dear friends,

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

 

Scatter joy each day!

♡ Dawn

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Growing… Day by Day!

Hi Friends!

Things are growing and changing here slowly… day by day.

My Midwest perennial and herb gardens are definitely growing and changing, but that’s not the only place I’m noticing new growth. It’s happening within me, as well!

Inspired by all of the changes in my garden over the past two years, and the lessons learned and documented in my Garden Joys bullet journal, I knew that I wanted to create a very special, very personal Self Care bullet journal for 2018.

The new year offered a blank slate filled with endless possibilities and opportunities to grow day by day. So, I chose a beautiful,  Rhodia dot grid journal for this time of new growth. The luscious, ivory, brushed vellum paper, made in France by Clairefontaine, called to both my hand and heart. These creamy, blank pages must be filled with ink, color, and most importantly… with intention!

In late December, I anticipated that something very important was just about to begin. My blank journal would need a dedicated place for writing and reflecting upon all that I would learn. So, I chose a simple, pine, IKEA desk and my sweet husband spent hours assembling it, with so much love and care.  Now every day of the year begins and ends with those luscious pages and a few simple art supplies. The time I spend with my Self Care journal always feels like a special gift ~ to me, from me!

My Self Care bullet journal is the perfect place to set new healthy goals and quietly document my daily progress. Each morning, I track my hours of restful sleep and also those restless hours filled with worry. It’s interesting to see my sleep patterns throughout the month. I have grown very mindful of going to bed on time because I know that I will have to graph it in my journal in ink.  (*wink*) 

It’s truly heartwarming to fill my Gratitude page with the small blessings that add joy to each day.  I find myself looking for moments of gratitude all day long. By the end of each month, this page is overflowing with blessings and I always wish I had more space to write. I think my Gratitude page is actually the most important page for Self Care each month!

I have also been tracking all of my ‘workouts’ throughout each month. Whenever I workout, I document how many minutes I spend: shoveling snow, practicing Yoga, doing  a Zumba workout, walking, mowing the lawn, or gardening. My activities change throughout the seasons. It’s so wonderful to be more active outside now that Springtime has finally arrived here!

I’m keeping track of how much water I drink each day in my “Hydrate Your Soul” tracker. I have grown more mindful of refilling my water bottle multiple times each day while attempting to reach my daily goal!

My Fitbit counts my steps and I graph them daily. Just knowing that I must record my step count in ink helps me to think about moving more throughout each day. Bundling up for Winter walks felt energizing because I had to walk quickly! We have been ‘Walkin’ on Sunshine’ lately during our evening walks together.  Sunny morning walks in the park always lift my spirits. The easiest walks of all are long, chatty walks with friends. The miles fly by as we catch up on one another’s lives! I’m just delighted that nice walking weather is finally here!

It has been very interesting to document how I spend my days! By the end of the month, I can actually see how much time I have spent in my little Paper Garden studio, writing Morning Pages, going on Artist Dates, writing letters, and blogging. It is creative time that truly nourishes my heart and soul. So, when I notice that one of my important activities is not a part of my days, I strive to make a change. This has been such a gift for my creative spirit!

From the beginning, I made a conscious decision not to include the minutiae of daily tasks in my Self Care journal. During my ‘Renaissance’ (the ‘R’ word that I use for Retirement),  I truly relish the freedom of my days. So, I use a beautiful Lang Engagement Planner for the events and tasks that must be done each day. I either ‘X’ each task as ‘completed’ or migrate it to another day.   I’ve always enjoyed being ‘busy.’ However, now I can feel the difference between just being busy and being productive. What a great feeling!

Perhaps it’s our wild Springtime weather, but it’s so hard to believe that May is almost here!  I’ve been peeking into the birdhouses in our garden waiting for robins or wrens to move in. So, it was such fun to create new spreads with birdhouse doodles in my Self Care journal. I just love adding inspirational quotes on every page!

It will be interesting to watch my healthy habits continue to grow, step by step, throughout May.

This month, I added a new chart to help me stay mindful of my most important healthy goals. Looking down the column each day will remind me of my intentions to do those things that make me both healthy and happy!

Have you noticed that I never include any eating habits in my journal? I feel extremely content using the Weight Watchers app to track all of my meals. It’s a very user-friendly, effective tool to help me maintain my healthy weight. I still count Smart Points every single day and attend my Weight Watchers meeting every week. Staying at my healthy weight for the past six months has been such an important part of my Self Care!

If you are interested, plenty of wonderful inspiration for bullet journaling can be found on You Tube. Kara Benz @ Boho Berry motivated me to give bullet journaling a try. Kara just created a beautiful digital planner (available on May 1st) for those who might prefer a more portable way to bullet journal. (Very interesting, but I think I will always prefer luscious paper and ink!) I also find great bullet journaling inspiration from Amanda Rach Lee.  Helen Colebrook creates lovely journals, too.

I’m so curious…

Do you keep a journal of any kind?

How do you bring Self Care into each day?

Hope you will share with us!

♥♥♥

Thanks so much for visiting today!

 

Sending warm, sunny hugs!

♡ Dawn

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Taking Steps…

Hi Friends!

It’s been a very long time since I last walked to school. This late winter morning, for the first time since the early 1970s, I bundled up in layers and headed out the door. I planned this walk several weeks ago and a windchill of 2o degrees would not deter my walk on this historic morning. I was taking important steps

The sun shone brightly as I stepped carefully over the icy patches on the sidewalks, detouring onto the snowy grass from time to time. It felt important, as though something BIG was about to happen! As I walked, I met up with friendly teenagers hurrying to their classes. I’m sure that they felt it, too. As I walked with one high school student, I told her that I was coming to school to ‘stand’ with all of the students and teachers… and she smiled and thanked me. Although I retired from teaching six years ago, there is still very important work to be done!

Of course, I was early… I’m always early! (“Anticipate the bell.” 🙂 “Early is on time, on time is late!” 🙂 ) These words still make me smile warmly as I reflect back upon my thirty-five happy years of teaching young children. ♥ As I walked around the quiet neighborhood surrounding our local high school, my thoughts turned to my own school days, both as a student and a teacher. So much has changed over the years…

Today was the National School Walkout as students, young and old, across America raised their collective voices against the ongoing crisis of gun violence in our society. Today marks the heartbreaking one-month anniversary of the massacre of 17 students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland, Florida. Massive student protests spread across our land beginning at 10:00 in each time zone. Organizers planned the National School Walkout to highlight “Congress’ inaction against the gun violence plaguing our schools and neighborhoods.” I knew that I must stand with our students and their teachers on this day.

At 10:00, the school doors opened and hundreds of students walked out and assembled in front of their high school. They had planned ahead and many wore red and black. Many students carried hand-lettered signs. Their speeches lasted for 17 minutes, in remembrance of the 17 lives taken by gun violence in Florida. As I listened from a distance, my eyes filled with tears for all of the school children and their teachers across our nation who face fears for their safety in their classrooms. My heart swelled with pride for all of the young Americans who are taking steps to solve our national epidemic and to create a brighter future.

In between the speeches, there was much chanting,

individual voices of young men and women,

tomorrow’s leaders,

united to send a strong message to our lawmakers and leaders.

♦♦♦

Listen to their words…

“Enough is enough!”

♢♢♢

“Congress is complacent.”

♢♢♢

“We are the future voters.”

♢♢♢

“We are the change!”

♢♢♢

“Thoughts and prayers are NOT enough!”

♢♢♢

Between their powerful chants, there were loud reminders to pick up contact information for our lawmakers, write letters, make phone calls, and send texts. Eighteen-year-olds were reminded to vote in our upcoming elections. After 17 minutes, the young protestors respectfully filed back through the school doors and went on with their studies. It was most definitely a powerful, teachable moment… one they are certain to carry with them into adulthood.

The gathering of community members who came to ‘stand’ with our high school students clapped with pride as we listened to their voices. Parents tried to explain to their preschoolers what the ‘big kids’ were doing today. I met other retired teachers who also came to show support. High school alumni shared their pride, as well. The tv news crew packed away their huge camera as the protest came to an end.

It feels like this is only a beginning for our nation! The March for Our Lives rally for school safety, on March 24th, is expected to draw hundreds of thousands of marchers to our nation’s capital.

Another round of National School Walkouts is planned for April 20th, on the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School shootings in Colorado.

Malala’s words give me much hope…

“One child, one teacher,

one book, one pen can change the world.”

 

I’ll keep taking steps as long as necessary.

Be the change!

♡ Dawn

 

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Still Growing…

Hi Friends!

A special welcome to everyone visiting for the Papertrey Ink February Blog Hop!

Our thick blanket of snow has finally melted and throughout the week heavy rains watered my perennial and herb gardens.. Although the garden is sleeping, the gardener is still growing! I’ve spent so many happy hours in my little Paper Garden studio downstairs during February…. growing as a cardmaker.

Papertrey Ink, one of my favorite stamp companies, is celebrating their 11th Anniversary this month. There were several interesting cardmaking Challenges. Playing along was the perfect way to step out of my comfort zone, try new techniques, and learn new skills. Part of the fun was bravely linking photos of my cards to the Papertrey Ink blog and sharing them with the stamp designers and lots of other cardmakers. Now it’s time to share a few peeks here, too!

For the ‘Anniversary Sketch Challenge,’ I was inspired by designer Dawn McVey’s sketch and stamps that she designed. I know that she appreciated the sunshine sent her way! ♥

 

The ‘Transformation Challenge’ was another opportunity to grow! The card on the LEFT is one that I created for a dear friend. Although she liked it, I knew that I could improve on it. The card on the RIGHT feels so much cozier. I embossed a soft quilt, using a die and an embossing pad. Then I sponged ink onto a doily to create a soft, textured rug. I fluffed up the pillow to add dimension and die cut the sentiment. I also stamped a cheerier ‘headline’ on the newspaper. Now the card has a bit of hygge and I’m much happier with the way it turned out! ♥

 

My card for the ‘Floral Challenge’ was inspired by designer Lexi Daley. I embossed a stitched rectangle on the white cardstock layer to ground the floral image. It really helped pull the stamped, die cut flowers and gold embossed sentiment together. ♥

 

For the ‘Retirement Challenge’ we had to use a retiring stamp set to create a card. I chose the ‘Together’ stamp set and created a Valentine for my husband. I love the sentiments in this set and have used them in so many different ways in the past years. It’s a perennial favorite… and I will continue using these sweet sentiment stamps for years to come! ♥

 

The ‘Use Only Dies Challenge’ was one of my favorites! I love die cutting borders, images, and sentiments for cards. I blended some Distress Inks for the background and then used only dies to create this card. It was great fun to make a card without any stamping! ♥

 

For the ‘Color Challenge,’ we had to choose a favorite color palette. I was inspired by designer Heather Nichols to create a card filled with rustic charm on Kraft cardstock. To make the floral images show against the simple Kraft background, I stamped a first layer with white pigment ink and then stamped the second layer with each color. Next I embossed a stitched frame to highlight the sentiment and dusted the edges with ink to add a vintage feel. The garden in bloom highlights this heartfelt sentiment. I stamped for almost three hours to create this card. It was definitely a growing experience! I think it’s my favorite card for February! It holds a special place in my heart, just like the friend who received it. ♥

 

For the ‘Stripes Challenge.’ I used a soft, striped patterned paper for the background. The soft floral images and layered sentiment added a a bit of texture. This card came together very easily. I’m already thinking of several ways to improve it. It was such fun to learn and grow while completing each Challenge! ♥

 

Several members of the Papertrey Ink Design Team participated in the Release Party Live on February 15th. What a treat to gather together as a papercrafting community in celebration!  It was fascinating to watch as these talented designers, who inspire me to create, shared stories of their own creative processes.  My self-confidence as a cardmaker grew as I listened. They talked about how the hardest part of the creative process is often getting started. They talked about spending several hours to create a special card. They talked about making several versions of a card before their final design was ready. From now on, I will carry their words in my heart while I am busy creating in my little studio. I feel so grateful to be a part of the Papertrey Ink community of papercrafters, soaking up inspiration as I learn and grow!

I have already reserved the weekend of August 25th-26th on my calendar for the 2018 Papertrey Ink ‘Stamp-A-Faire.’ It will be another virtual gathering of creative cardmakers across the globe. This year’s theme will be a Garden Party. 🙂 An entire weekend filled with Challenges will most definitely keep me growing! I have such warm memories of participating in ‘Stamp-A-Faire’ in 2015, 2016, and 2017.

For today’s Papertrey Ink February Blog Hop, we were challenged to create a card inspired by this photo:

What a lovely breath of Springtime! I was inspired by the round metal trays in the centerpiece, the chartreuse grass, the pastel eggs, the sunny feeling, and of course, the Spring flowers. ♥     (Photo Credit: The Goodwill Gal)

 

 

Last night, I worked downstairs in my little studio to create this card capturing the cheery Springtime feel inspired by the photo (above)….

I created my own version of the metal tray holding a garden of early Spring delights, pastel blossoms, and a bright, sunny background. I can’t wait to mail it off to a sweet friend! ♥

Papertrey Ink supplies:

Stamps:  Forest Floor: Spring, Keep It Simple: Friendship

Ink:  Sweet Blush, Lilac Grace, Simply Chartreuse, Ripe Avocado

Paper:  Harvest Gold cardstock, Smokey Shadow cardstock, Bitty Big: Harvest Gold, Stamper’s Select White cardstock

Dies:  Forest Floor: Spring, Shape Shifters: Circle 1, To the Point Edgers 2

Other:  Memento Tuxedo Black ink

♥♥♥

 

February has been a very busy, creative month filled with the seeds of inspiration, wonderful supplies, interesting Challenges from Papertrey Ink, and lots of happy mail for family and friends.  I’m still growing… and enjoying every moment! 🙂

Thanks so much for stopping to visit today!

 

 

Paper hugs, from the heart!

♡ Dawn

 

 

 

 

 

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A ‘Basket of Sunshine’

Hi Friends!

I’m certain that you already have everything

that you need at home.

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

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

The Little Book of Hygge

(Danish Secrets to Happy Living). 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time, stay cozy and be well.

Thanks so much for stopping to visit today!

Warmest hugs!

♡ Dawn

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The Snug Cheer Within

Hi Friends!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

which enhances the snug cheer within.”

~ Henry David Thoreau

♥♥♥

Wishing you peaceful hours

that enhance the snug cheer within you!

Thank you so much for stopping to visit today.

Warm hugs,

♡ Dawn

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