Nesting…

DSCN7035

Hi Friends!

I hope you are enjoying nice Springtime (or Autumn) days in your little corner of the world! Our weather has been so crazy in the Midwest for the past few weeks. It seems to change every few minutes ~ raindrops, snowflakes, a bit of sunshine, and high winds. Our bright, yellow daffodils and forsythia add a touch of sunshine to the garden, as their cheerful blossoms dance in the strong Springtime breezes. Near the front porch, our magnolia is already showing its bright fuchsia blossoms. Sweet, green leaves are so welcome as the trees and shrubs wake up.  We have squishy, wet lawns and lots of mud, too! Robins are everywhere. I’ve never seen so many! Yet, it’s still much too early to clean up our garden beds here in USDA Zone 5b. Our nighttime temperatures are still dropping into the 20s. Snowflakes are dancing down even as I write…

So, I have been very busy nesting… and resting, with anticipation!

DSCN7007

I’m enjoying spending creative hours downstairs, in my little ‘Paper Garden’ studio, where the sun always shines. (Thanks to daylight bulbs! 🙂 )  I’ve been busy playing with watercolors and stamping petite, garden scenes for my handmade cards. Sometimes we just have to make our own bits of Springtime!

DSCN6901

Since childhood, I have been passionate about writing old-fashioned letters to family and friends, near and far. So, I’m taking on the challenge of writing one letter or note every day this month. By spending less time online, I have found much more time for the joy of letter writing!

DSCN6900

I’ve gathered pretty stationery from my writing desk, a favorite pen, and lots of postage stamps. Letters carry handmade smiles, since they come right from the heart. Nothing makes me happier than mailing off a handmade card or letter to someone special! While writing or creating, I think about the recipient the entire time… so it feels almost like a little visit. Sharing handmade kindness has always been my cup of tea! (I think I’m going to need more postage stamps soon! 🙂 )

DSCN7008

My favorite project for the past few weeks has been a secret, surprise, family memory-keeping project. 🙂 I’m enjoying it immensely, and find myself smiling the whole time I am journaling! Can’t wait to deliver this heartfelt gift of family memories, in person, very soon! ♥♥

DSCN7037

Reading is always one of the best parts of nesting! Finding new inspiration for the garden, the front porch, and our home is just one of the delights of the changing seasons. I’m already dreaming of antiquing trips to the 3 French Hens French Country Market and have marked the 2016 dates on our calendar!

DSCN7033

The past week, I’ve been rereading The Fairy Tale Girl by Susan Branch. It has been so lovely to enjoy this volume of her beautifully illustrated, handwritten, watercolored memoir again. It’s filled with both smiles and heartbreak, as we learn more about Susan’s early years. Published last year, this volume of Susan’s memoir ended with a real ‘Cliff-hanger.’ So, I’ve been waiting… and waiting… and waiting enthusiastically for ~

DSCN7041

Martha’s Vineyard Isle of Dreams, the second volume of Susan’s memoir.  Her excited fans were able to preorder this book last November, while Susan was still lovingly writing, illustrating, and watercoloring her story. It feels like I have been waiting for this book for thirty years… since Susan published her first Heart of the Home book. It arrived in our mailbox just yesterday!! 🙂

Oh my! I can’t tell you how much I adore (and connect to) Susan’s story of buying a little house of her own, transforming it into a cozy home, honoring the history of the previous homeowner, planting a garden, and creating a happy, little ‘nest’ to write and watercolor, in her own special, handmade way! I’m trying to read s-l-o-w-l-y…  to savor Susan’s wonderful story and artwork. Of course, I read into the wee hours of last night. (I just couldn’t stop!)

DSCN7050

Susan Branch’s long-awaited memoir is now complete!! She is celebrating this trilogy ~ with A Fine Romance (dessert, served first!), The Fairy Tale Girl (the appetizer), and now Martha’s Vineyard Isle of Dreams (the main course). Readers can indulge in her memoir in any order, and will be immediately drawn into her personal stories. It feels like such an amazing honor to read the lifetime memories of someone I have admired for so long!  A movie or tv series based on Susan’s memoir is already in the planning stages! (We are all wondering which actress will be chosen to play Susan!) All three books are available now through Susan Branch’s website (autographed) and will be in bookstores everywhere in time for Mother’s Day! Next month, I’m really looking forward to another Afternoon Tea and book signing with Susan Branch. Of course, I will bring you along!! ♥♥

DSCN7017

Thank you so much for stopping to visit today!

It’s so sweet of you to keep me company

as I wait for busy, Springtime days in garden!

Happy weekend!

♡Dawn

P.S.  Are you already enjoying time outdoors, or nesting inside… while waiting for warm Springtime days?

Advertisements

Sharing Handmade Kindness

Hi Friends!

Rabbit! Rabbit! What fun to begin a brand new month just filled with possibilities! Here in the United States, November is the time that our thoughts turn to Thanksgiving. Although we won’t celebrate Thanksgiving Day until November 26th, we have an entire month to celebrate our families, friends, those who help us, and even the kindness of strangers.

Today I can’t wait to introduce you to someone that I have admired for so long! Jennifer McGuire is an amazing mother, talented card maker, respected teacher, and thoughtful friend. Her wonderful blog posts and excellent You Tube videos continually help me to grow as a card maker, by inspiring me to try so many new techniques. Jennifer has become a true leader in the world of paper crafting! (Just feel her warmth in this quick video.) One of the reasons that Jennifer shines so brightly is her kindness. Although we have never met, I always think of Jennifer as one of my best ‘crafty friends.’ She makes everyone feel that way!

Throughout the entire month of of November,

Jennifer McGuire is challenging everyone to

Share Handmade Kindness!

This challenge is most definitely ‘my cup of tea.’

Nothing makes me happier than making cards for family, dear friends,

our honored veterans, and our brave, military servicemen and women.

♥♥♥

My happiness is always two-fold…

I just love spending time making a card with one special person in mind.

I think of them the entire time I am designing, die cutting, stamping, and choosing the perfect sentiments.

DSCN4616

For me, the happiest part of all has always been slipping each handmade card

into its envelope, writing the address, and choosing the perfect postage stamp!

It just makes my heart happy!!

I imagine how they will feel when they open their mailbox

to find an envelope

filled with love and kindness!

They will know that someone is thinking of them today.

You never know when such a small gesture just might make someone’s day!

You Are So Loved(Listen to Jennifer… in her own words, in this short video.)

♥♥♥

There are so many other ways we can all  Share Handmade Kindness...

Anything made with the hands and the heart counts!

Handmade Gifts from the Kitchen

A gift from your kitchen always makes someone feel special.

The last of the garden flowers.A bouquet from your garden would certainly brighten someone’s day!

Pinwheel Quilt, One Stitch at a TimeWhat could be sweeter than a little something ‘stitched’ with love?

DSCN4457The simple act of writing a note or a letter is a true gift of the heart!

♥♥♥

I’m sure you’ll agree that the world could use a little more kindness…

♥♥♥

Join the fun this November!

Let’s take on Jennifer’s Share Handmade Kindness Challenge!

I will keep you posted with new details each week…

and you can visit JenniferMcquireInk.com at any time to learn more.

Week 1 (November 2 – 8) will focus on sharing any kind of handmade kindness with friends and family.

Week 2 (November 9 – 15) will focus on sharing any kind of handmade kindness with anyone who works/serves in our community

Week 3 (November 16-22) will focus on sharing any kind of handmade kindness with children.

Week 4 (November 23-29) will focus on sharing any kind of handmade kindness with strangers.

Leave a note on someone’s windshield. Send a card to a favorite blogger. (Yes, that isn’t exactly a stranger, but you likely haven’t met!) Drop off a kind note to the mail lady who was nice to you last time you were there. Anyone! Notes or simple cards are best for this challenge.

Who will you share handmade kindness with this week?

♥♥♥

Scientific research supports the relaxed, happy feelings that makers always feel as we create.

After reading about the health benefits of crafting

in this recent CNN post, “This is Your Brain on Crafting,”

why not head to your favorite crafty space to

Share Handmade Kindness!

Paper hugs!

♡ Dawn

P.S. I’m so happy that you stopped to visit today!

What handmade gifts do you love to share?

What handmade kindness will you share this week?

We can’t wait to hear from you!

Cherish the Day!

Crabapple

Hi Friends!

Honestly. It was just a quick trip to the post office! Up at dawn, I had spent a bit of time writing three short letters to family and friends. It was such fun to tuck lots of recent photos into each envelope. Naturally, I couldn’t wait to drop all of this happy mail into the big, blue mailbox in front of the post office!

Our post office is located next to a lovely park ~ a park just filled with Spring color on a beautiful morning in May. What is a letter-writing, flower-loving, park-walking girl to do during her favorite month of the year? Happily, I still had my camera in my small backpack, so now we can take a little morning walk together I peeked into the Conservatory first. Spring flowering plants surrounded the fountain and the goldfish pond. They were even tucked in amongst the cacti. What a study in contrasts, seeing the soft geranium petals against the spiky needles of these desert plants. The bright morning sunshine streamed in through the glass panes, filling the entire space with quiet warmth. Silent, except for the soft bubbling of the pond. I felt completely ‘present’ ~ mindful of the colorful flowers, the sweet scents, the warm, humid air, and stillness all around me.

Present…

My ‘One Little Word‘ for 2015

has once again chosen a moment in my day

to remind me to practice

being mindful of everything around me.

The flowering trees in the park are were just breathtaking! They seemed to call me to walk under their canopy, as their tiny, pink petals rained down upon me. The Crabapple trees were showering me with their colorful blessings! It was moment! I wish I could have captured that image for you through my camera lens.

Crabapples, Redbuds, and Magnolias in bloom filled the south end of the park. Their colorful branches guided me along the Friendship Walk, sprinkling their blossoms down onto the engraved pavers, filled with words of love and remembrance, along the garden path.

The Herb Garden was a quiet, peaceful place, as I looked around for signs of new growth among the herbs.  Beds of  bright tulips encircled the Peace Pole in the garden. Under the white tent, a lovely setting for outdoor weddings, I giggled along with a group of preschoolers, as they frollicked in the soft, green grass. I carefully climbed upon huge, stone steps to visit the spring flowers blooming in a terraced bed nearby. Don’t the blossoms just make your heart sing on a gorgeous day like this? A quiet visit to the Veterans’ Memorial in the park reminded me of the sacrifices that our brave men and women and their families have given for all of us. Flags from each branch of the military waved proudly in the breeze as I walked amongst the granite sculptures dedicated to the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine, and Coast Guard veterans. I was reminded of all the reasons why it’s so important to me to volunteer my time to support our military families.

As I walked past the Mansion in the park, the Magnolia blossoms bobbed in the gentle breeze. The fountain splashed happily, surrounded by beds of colorful annuals. Although the flowers are very small now, they will fill these formal garden beds with lush color in the weeks to come.

What an unexpected detour in my morning!

I drove home with a full heart, counting my blessings out loud.

Our warm, summer-like temperatures this afternoon were such a treat! With over an inch of rain this week, our garden is growing by leaps and bounds. Our Friendship Garden is changing daily. At the moment, bright, red tulips are blooming. The irises have large buds and the peonies seem to grow several inches overnight. The ants are busily crawling over the peony buds. It won’t be long until this very special perennial bed is in full bloom. You must come back soon to see it!

My morning ‘to do’ list also took a detour. I had planned to head off to the garden center to pick out annuals, for the containers on the front porch and deck. Instead I was totally content to wander through the garden… doing a bit of gardenkeeping here and there. (There is so much to do!!)  I smiled as I watched a robin splashing in the birdbath, near our Herb Garden.

Then I spent a long time scrubbing our arbor, until it was shiny and white again. The clematis vines can now twist and turn their way up the arbor. It won’t be long until they are blooming, too!  (Tip: Instead of climbing up on a ladder with a scrub brush, I discovered a much easier way to wash the arbor. Now I just use the long-handled snowbrush from my car and a bucket of water, while standing on the flagstone path beneath the arbor. Easy! Sparkly! So refreshing on a warm day in May!)

When I finally came inside late this afternoon, two pink Crabapple blossoms fell out of my hair and fluttered down onto the dining room floor. That’s when I knew I had to share this day with YOU!

Blessings

{via Pinterest}

Last night, as I listened to a scrapbooking podcast, Wilna Furstenberg reminded the listeners that

“Life is not perfect. It’s hard and it’s complicated.”

It always helps if we can take a moment to notice the small blessings

that drop their blossoms all around us.

⚛⚛⚛

Thanks so much for stopping by today! I always look forward to our visits.

Cherish the day!

♡Dawn

            P.S.  What’s happening in your garden or nearby park this week?

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}