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}

3 French Hens

A wonderful place to find treasures!

A wonderful place to find treasures!

Hi Friends!

Brrrrrr! It was such a chilly Saturday morning! Just after sunrise, we drove through the countryside to the quaint, little town of Morris, Illinois, ‘leaf peeping’ along the way. It was time for the final 3 French Hens French Country Market of the season. This popular event is held on the second Saturday of each month, from May through October, in Canalport Park along the banks of the historic I & M Canal. It’s always one of our favorite antiquing destinations!

The 3 French Hens French Country Market attracts the friendliest people ~ antique dealers, artisans offering their handmade wares, gardeners selling colorful Chrysanthemums, bakers displaying their delectable treats, local farmers selling freshly-picked produce, and treasure hunters galore!

One of the delights of the October market is… pumpkins!! We had such fun talking with the grower of Anderson Pumpkins. Valerie shared tales of the pumpkins and gourds they grow on their farm. Each variety has a wonderfully descriptive name. Just imagine the fun of naming each variety of pumpkin!

Anderson Pumpkins, in Newark, Illinois, grows so many wonderful varieties of pumpkins and gourds!

Anderson Pumpkins, in Newark, Illinois, grows more than 50 varieties of pumpkins, squash, and gourds!

Rather than carry a heavy pumpkin through the market, we picked out a variety of small, unique gourds to fill a basket on our dining room table. Passersby smiled as they watched us picking out several ‘perfect’ gourds to take home!

Scarecrows are popping up all over the Midwest this month. We stopped to enjoy scarecrows of all sizes and shapes. Although we haven’t made our scarecrow yet this Autumn, we found so much wonderful inspiration here on Saturday morning!

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A friendly scarecrow stands watch over a garden of colorful Chrysanthemums.

We met Kathy Pribble, a talented artisan who creates the most wonderful scarecrow characters. Each one of her scarecrows has a name and a unique personality. So much creativity…

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Kathy Pribble wil be selling her delightful scarecrows again next weekend, at the 3rd Sunday Market, in Bloomington, Illinois.

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Scarecrow children riding a tricycle. {Created by Kathy Pribble}

Wouldn’t it be fun to take one of her unique scarecrows home for the front porch? Maybe someday…

With cups of steaming, hot pumpkin spiced tea and hot apple cider to chase away the early morning chill, we continued our treasure hunting. There was so much more to see!

There were treasures everywhere!

There were treasures everywhere!

'Dave and Jayne's Furniture Fix', from Wilmington, Illinois, offered pretty painted and distressed furniture.

Dave and Jayne’s Furniture Fix‘, from Wilmington, Illinois, offered pretty painted and distressed furniture.

Caroline, from Paperjack Studio, offered her repurposed furniture, vintage finds, and painted letters.

Caroline, from Paperjack Studio, offered her repurposed furniture, vintage finds, and painted letters.

Caroline also had unique ideas for holiday celebrations yet to come!

Caroline also had lovely ideas for special holiday celebrations yet to come!  

What a perfect Saturday morning! The friendly people always make the 3 French Hens French Country Market extra special. We had nice long visits with a soap maker, a pumpkin grower, and a baker. It’s wonderful to find so many talented people from so many walks of life gathered together in a pretty park in the heartland.

A wonderful place to find treasures!

A wonderful place to find treasures!

We were so fortunate to visit the 3 French Hens French Country Market three times this year ~ Spring, Summer, and Autumn. We are already looking forward to coming back again next year. In fact, we have decided to spend the whole day in Morris next time. There are so many interesting places to explore in town. On Saturday afternoons, the streets fill with hundreds of vintage cars for Cruise Nights. It would be so nice to stay for the fun! Every single time we visit  this little town, surrounded by farms in America’s heartland, we always have the same conversation, “Wouldn’t it be nice to live in a small town one day?”

As we walked through Morris on our way to the car, we listened to  the crunch of leaves underfoot. We were filled with inspiration and happy memories of a lovely morning of treasure hunting. We brought home some small treasures that hold big memories ~ a bag of unique gourds, fragrant bars of handmade Lemongrass/Mint Goat Milk soap, and shiny, silver charms to add to a necklace. The best memories of all weren’t carried in our bags ~ they are carried in our hearts! Warm memories that will last through the cold winter months ahead.

Next weekend, there will be more ‘leaf peeping.’  Yellows, oranges, and brilliant reds are just beginning to show their colors here. The green leaves will soon perform a spectacular symphony of Autumn colors. The following weekend, there is sure to be another popular Autumn activity… leaf raking!

A few leaves from our 'Autumn Blaze' Red Maple have begun twirling down.

A few leaves from our ‘Autumn Blaze’ Red Maple have begun twirling down.

 Autumn is the perfect time for making memories!

Happy Autumn days!

♡ Dawn

P.S.  What are your favorite Autumn activities?

3 French Hens

A wonderful place to find treasures!

A wonderful place to find treasures!

Hi Friends!

We hit the road very early on Saturday morning! My excitement just bubbled over, as I wondered what treasures were waiting to be discovered at the 3 French Hens French Country Market. This monthly market, located in the quiet, little town of Morris, Illinois, completely fills a pretty park, on the banks of the historic I&M Canal.

The 3 French Hens French Country Market is held on the second Saturday  of the the month, May through October. It’s good to arrive early, as the little town quickly fills with visitors! Everyone is headed to Canalport Park in search of antiques, handmade wares by talented artisans, and repurposed treasures. We’ve been going for the past three years. It’s always a delightful place to spend the day, in the Spring, Summer, or Fall.

This pretty park sits along the peaceful waterway.

This pretty park sits along the peaceful waterway.

As we drove past vast stretches of farmland,

my great anticipation was tempered with the unsettled feeling of not knowing exactly what I was looking for…

Antique dealers and talented artisans display their wares in the park along the sleepy canal.

Antique dealers and talented artisans display their wares in the park along the sleepy canal.

Over the years, my antiquing trips have always been most successful

 if I have one or two treasures on my ‘wish list’ for the day.

Don’t you find it easier to know what you are searching for?

Alas, on Saturday, I really didn’t know…

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It was such fun to look at everything!  Treasures upon treasures, all waiting for new homes.

Olde Farm Creek offered a nice collection of vintage inspired farmhouse treasures.

Olde Farm Creek offered a nice collection of vintage inspired farmhouse treasures.

It was fascinating to talk with the artisans about their handmade pieces. These primitive signs were made from tobacco lath and the beautiful canvas bags were stitched from worn tent canvas. The lovely, old patina of the materials added a special touch of the past to each newly created piece.

 

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Roseberry Farm Primitives brought a touch of Autumn to the market.

 

The 3 French Hens French Country Market always draws big crowds of the friendliest people! Live acoustic music drifts across the park. Wonderful smokey smells from the food vendors whet the appetite for a picnic lunch.

But it was much too early… and there was still so much to see!

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Local farmers bring their fresh-picked vegetables and fruits to the market. Bakers bring homemade pies, breads, and cookies. Freshly canned jams, marmalades, and salsas make it easy to take home the tastes of summertime to enjoy throughout the year.

 

My husband and I continued exploring, looking through all of the treasures of the past, and laughing as we came upon so many toys from our childhood. He is always attracted to vintage books, old photographs, and antique coins. I’m always drawn to peek inside old painted cupboards, to touch antique quilts in soft colors, and to admire vintage Mason jars sparkling in the sunshine. It was a perfect way to spend an August morning!

 

Suddenly, I saw it! I discovered what I had been looking for all morning…  inspiration!!

My heart just leapt when I saw the beautiful antique school desk! It looked so nice displaying old books on its seat and vintage treasures on its desktop.  It was just the right inspiration… at the right moment!

‘Back-to-School time’ is  just around the corner…

Jessica, from Tattered Accents Old & New, and I talked about fun ways to use an antique school desk.

Jessica, from Tattered Accents Old & New, and I talked about so many different ways to use an antique school desk.

Many years ago, a friend gave me an antique school desk. I’ve been saving it in our basement, thinking that one day it might look nice in the garden holding baskets of summertime flowers, or on the front porch holding vintage boxes filled with winter evergreens, pinecones, and holly. But today there is new inspiration! Maybe it’s time to bring the old desk upstairs to hold some vintage school memories.

It’s such a great feeling to discover new inspiration for a treasure that you have loved all along!

(My husband certainly agrees!)

Truly a perfect August morning!

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Carrying inspiration back to the car is so much easier! You can take the scenic path… holding hands! ♡

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Since ‘Back-to-School’ days are just around the corner…

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H A P P Y   N E W  Y E A R !!

Today is the perfect day to celebrate

all of the wonderful, creative, dedicated teachers

who share the gift of learning every day in their classrooms!

You truly do make a difference!

Here’s to a happy new school year… and all its promises!

To all of the retired teachers everywhere,

who have given a lifetime of learning and inspiration,

we honor and thank you for making our world a brighter place!

Look back with love and gratitude,

and cherished memories,

as your students carry a part of you

in their hearts…  forever

Scatter sunshine!

♡Dawn

           P.S.  What is your favorite back-to-school memory?