Saturday, September 19, 2020

Six Small Things

 In no particular order, here are six small things that I uplifted, inspired or encouraged me this week.

1. Collect Memories, Not Stuff

2. New to me online shop and blog, Calico and Twine

3. The Autumn edition of The Cultivating Project is up!

4. 27 Movies For A Cozy Night In (Issue #25 of Bella Grace is on the newsstand!)

5. Currently reading Liturgy of the Ordinary.*

6. And this . . . 

I believe life is better 
when you turn up the music,
eat too much chocolate, 
walk barefoot,
talk about weird stuff,
with weird people, 
hug strangers and go on adventures.
Those things won't make life perfect,
but they sure make this strange life more fun.


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Sunday, September 13, 2020

My Core Values

“Your beliefs become your thoughts. Your thoughts become your words. Your words become your actions.

Your actions become your values. Your values become your destiny.”

- Mahatma Ghandi

Remember way back in February when I wrote this post? Well in that I mentioned that I had recently completed Kelsey Van Kirk's Core Values Assessment: Life On Purpose In Alignment With What Matters.  You can listen to the podcast by following this link, but the download will just take you to an error page, so I'm not sure what's up with that. I tried to see if there was a different link, but aside from signing up with your email or joining her FB group, I don't really see a way to access it. If you want to do an assessment yourself I found this from Family Life which is almost identical. 

Anyhoo! In my original post I had mentioned that I would come back later and elaborate on what I discovered in working through the assessment. Nothing like taking my time, right? But to be honest with you, until this weekend when I was working through eliminating some files on my computer, I had forgotten all about it. So with that, I'm going to be writing a series of posts over the next several weeks and talking through my personal process and sharing what I learned. I'm actually really glad that I came across this again because along with never sharing what I found with you, I likewise never really did anything with it!  Please tell me I'm not the only one who downloads resources from the internet and then proceeds to completely forget about them? But anyway, let me get on with what I learned.

To begin with, it helps to know what core values are. I had a general idea before I even worked through the assessment, but I found Kelsey's explanation helps to explain it better than I could.

Core values are the most important fundamental beliefs that drive us to see, hear, think, feel and make decisions the way we do.

They govern our relationships, clarify who we are, articulate what we stand for, guide us in our decision making, and underpin why we are each driven to live life the way we are.

Knowing your core values is important because when we are aware of what our core values are and honor them in our everyday living, we experience peace, joy, harmony and fulfillment.

When we don’t we end up suffering mentally, physically and emotionally, struggling with feelings of discontentment, frustration and uncertainty.

- Kelsey Van Kirk

In the assessment Kelsey suggests that the only way to know what your core values are is by working through a reflective discovery process.

It's good to start by thinking through any preconceptions you might have, because often you will find that what you actually value is very different from you what you believe you should value. Parents, society, religion, culture, these are all things that influence our perception of what our core values should be.

For me personally I didn't have to put a lot of thought into this step. Having long since abandoned denominational beliefs (I did not abandon God, just organized religion), and without being able to recall my parents having anything to say on the subject, when it came to determining my personal core values I was a blank slate. 

The next step in the process I found very helpful. Kelsey provides you with a list of common core values, (If you are using the outline at Family Life that I provided above, just scroll to the bottom of the page for. similar list). Reading through the list you simply choose the values that appeal to you. Don't worry at this point if your list is long because you will narrow it down later.  Borrowing from several sources, here is the list of things that I value;

AnticipationAwe . Curiosity . Delight . Fascination . Fun . Inquisitiveness . Joy . Playfulness . Silliness . Wittiness . Wonder . Artfulness . Craftiness . Creativity . Dreaming . Thrift . Adventure . Exploration . Attentiveness . Beauty . Mindfulness . Pleasure . Quietness . Relaxation . Restfulness . Silence . Solitude . Stillness . Tranquility . Warmth . Education . Intelligence . Learning . Balance . Consistency . Comfort . Flow . Fluency . Harmony . Order . Organization . Punctuality . Simplicity . Structure . Calmness . Contentment . Depth . Desire . Discernment . Elegance . Faith . Freedom . Gentility . Grace . Gratitude . Happiness . Holiness . Intuitiveness . Peace . Reflection . Sacredness . Satisfaction . Security . Self Realization . Serenity . Spirituality . ThankfulnessVision .

Once you have your big list, it's time to narrow things down a bit, and for this step Kelsey suggests that you work through each value and look for any overarching themes. You can also add too or take away from the list at this point, as well. The big list you see above was actually what I arrived at after I had already weeded through everything I'd originally listed. That was hard for me at first, because it almost felt wrong to eliminate some of them. Still, I knew that for it to be a true reflection I had to arrive at what really mattered the most to me. This isn't about what is right for "everyone", it's about what is right for you. Kelsey then suggests that you choose 5 to 10 of the themes and this becomes your new condensed list of values. Once I worked through this process, each of the values I had listed above fell under one of these themes.


Childlike Faith

Living Intentionally





The next step in the process is to go through your condensed list and prioritize each value based upon how essential they feel to you and how well they represent what matters most. In the list you see above I've already prioritized each value, with Spirituality being number one on my list. 

If this appeals to you and you want to create your own list, I've narrowed down everything I've discussed above to make it a little easier to understand.

 Make a List (Brain Dump) - using lists of common core values (just Google it, you will get more than you need), write down all the values that appeal to you.

★ Condense - Now go through that list and ask yourself if each of the values you've listed is important to and reflective of you. Are they what you authentically values, or what you think you SHOULD value? Eliminate anything that is not authentically reflective of you.

 Categorize - Working through your list, look for themes and categorize each value. Once you have everything categorized, choose 5-10 of those from the list and this now becomes your condensed list of values.

★ Prioritize - Now that you have 5-10 core values, list them in the order of priority that is right for you.

Knowing what you value helps you to establish priorities and will likewise add you in making decisions day to day. It isn't rigid, and it doesn't mean that you can't ever enjoy things that didn't make the list, but overall your decisions, goals, activities and opinions should align with what you value, otherwise your life will lack authenticity and peace.

Once you have your final condensed list, then she suggests that you work through each value and write out your own personal definition, what each of the values you've listed means to you. Then there are some other steps that follow that, as well, but I'm going to stop here for now because my plan is to break each one of my core values down and write about it in separate posts, and I hope you'll come back and join me!

Posting while living on the road has been a little challenging and I'm still trying to work out a system that works, which I think will mean writing posts offline and having them ready to copy, paste and schedule when we have signal. I say that so hopefully you won't be frustrated if it takes me awhile to get new content up. Not that I've been that great even with signal! But this little  space is still very important to me and there are so many things I want to share with you, so I do hope you'll stick around! Also, if you want to keep up specifically with our van life adventure as we travel across the USA, you can find us at Woodland to Wayside!

Until then friends, seek out the ordinary beauty of this extraordinary life!

Monday, September 7, 2020

My Favorite Movies - The Thrill Of It All

Any time someone asks about my favorite movies, there are a few actors from the "golden age of Hollywood" that come to mind, especially Doris Day. 

Popular in the late 50's and into the 60's, Doris Day was an icon in the romantic comedy genre of the period. And while I love some of her earlier work, including Moonlight Bay and the sequel, By The Light of the Silvery Moon, the movies I love her in the most are generally those she filmed in the 60's. Films such as It Happened to Jane with Tony Randall, That Touch of Mink with Cary Grant, With Six You Get Eggroll with Brian Keith, and Move Over Darling (Amazon Prime Rental)with James Garner.

Doris made two movies with Garner, Move Over Darling, which I mentioned previously, but my absolute favorite movie starring Doris was also with James Garner, The Thrill of It All!

In this film Doris portrays Beverly Boyer, the happily married wife of a successful OB-GYN, Dr. Gerald Boyer, portrayed by James Garner. Dr. Boyer gives successful advice for achieving pregnancy to the wife of a soap tycoon, and through that association Beverly inadvertently becomes the face of The Happy Soap Company. With her heartfelt and sincere stories, such as having to wash her daughter in happy soap so she will smell like her piano teacher, Beverly Boyer quickly becomes a household name. But all of this popularity proves to be unpopular with her husband and almost wrecks their marriage. The series of antics that follows is hilarious, but I don't want to give anything away! If you love Doris Day then I highly recommend The Thrill of It All! It is hands down my favorite of the many movies she made!

One of the things I will say is that you have to remember when this movie was made (the 60's), as I suppose is the case with many of the films Doris made during this time, and the gender roles are definitely outdated. A housewife gets a job despite her husband's wishes but eventually gives it all up to return home. The problem is not her decision, but the antics and manipulation employed by her husband to convince her to change her mind. Personally its not an issue for me, as so many movies made during that time portrayed the same message.  That's simply the way life was back then, a woman's place was in the home. So if things like that bother you, you will either have to decide to look past it or not watch it. But if you can, it is hilarious!

It has a has a wonderful supporting cast, including Arlene Francis who portrays Dr. Boyer's pregnant patient, even though she was 55 when the movie filmed! Another favorite of mine, though often overlooked, is Zasu Pitts who portrays Olivia, the maid. Kym Karuth portrays the Boyer's daughter, the same actress who portrayed Gretyl in The Sound of Music, always adorable! And even though I've mentioned Doris Day a lot, James Garner is absolutely wonderful in this film, as well. Doris made a lot of movies with Rock Hudson, but to be honest I much prefer the chemistry between her and Garner. Rock always seemed to be chasing the girl, but James somehow manages to get her! 

Carl Reiner, successful in his own right, was a screen writer for the film and made cameo appearances as characters in the Happy Soap Playhouse as a World War II German Officer, a cad and a cowboy.  I'm including the trailer below to wet your appetite for this uproarious comedy! You will be thrilled, with The Thrill of It All!

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Sunday, September 6, 2020

Ordinary Days Of Small Things - Autumn Day Keeper and Phenology Wheels

The Autumn Day Keeper is available as a **FREE** download! Just click on the link below.

Favorite Songs For Autumn


George Gershwin

'Tis Autumn
Nat King Cole

One For My Baby
Billie Holiday

Autumn In New York
Ella Fitzgerald

You're The Top
Louie Armstrong

September In The Rain
Nelson Riddle

Moonlight Serenade
Glenn Miller

September Song
Frank Sinatra

Ella Fitzgerald

Autumn Leaves
Doris Day

Nice 'n Easy
Frank Sinatra

Autumn in Rome
Tony Bennett

Cheek to Cheek
Billie Holliday

Early Autumn
Ella Fitzgerald

Let's Get Away From It All
Frank Sinatra

Shine on Harvest Moon
Kate Smith

Nat King Cole

September In The Rain
Dinah Washington

Night and Day
Frank Sinatra

Orange Colored Sky
Nat King Cole

Time After Time
Frank Sinatra

October Twilight
Frankie Cole

Falling Leaves
Glenn Miller

November Twilight
Julie London

If I Had You
Benny Goodman

25 songs; 1 hr 22 mins.

Friday, September 4, 2020

The September Night Sky

Some of my fondest memories from my childhood are of laying out on a blanket with my dad under the
big Texas sky and looking at the stars. Even today when I see the moon, I think of my dad.

Something I've wanted to do for awhile now, is to share my love of the night sky and astronomy and astrology here in this space with you. If things like this don't interest you, then feel free to move on.

Each month I will highlight a few celestial events that are coming up, and point you to resources (most of which are free) that you can use either for yourself or with your children to help you learn more about the night sky. I'll also dot the posts with related quotes from some of my favorite books on the subject and poems that you and your children will enjoy reading together. I hope that this small labor of love will bless you and your family!

Graphic, above left from and in header graphic
by Ignace Gaston Pardies


September 2 - The Full Corn Moon
On September 2, although you can still get a good look at it tonight, it's currently in the waning gibbous stage and is 97% full. 

September 5 - The Bright Moon Dances With Mars
When the waning gibbous moon rises in the east around 9:45, it will be positioned just about a finger's width to the right of Mars, close enough to appear together in binoculars and telescopes at low magnification. 

September 10 - Last Quarter Moon
At its last quarter phase at 9:26 GMT on Thursday, Sept. 10, the moon will rise around midnight and remain visible in the southern sky all morning.

September 22 - Autumn Equinox
On Tuesday, Sept. 22  the sun will cross the celestial equator moving southward, marking the autumnal equinox in the Northern Hemisphere and the beginning of autumn there. On the equinoxes in March and September, day and night are of equal length and the sun rises due east and sets due west.

You'll find more night sky events for September, here.

And here are some tools to help you, and perhaps the littles in your life learn how to identify the planets and constellations in the night sky.


The first three resources I've listed are geared towards children, but if you're new to stargazing the first two  links I've listed can still prove quite useful. If you want to begin keeping a Star Gazing diary you could certainly do so in a journal or notebook of your own.
- Constellation Cards from Lie Back, Look Up
- Summer Sky Map from Lie Back, Look Up
- Stargazing Diary from Lie Back, Look Up

Probably my favorite star gazing resource, I've used these for years!
- The Evening Sky Map - September 2020 from Sky Maps if you need a map for the Southern Hemisphere you can find one at their website.

Below you will find a few books on the subject that are FREE to borrow from the Internet Archives. If you find one you like, perhaps you could find a copy at your local library or search for a good used copy from Amazon.

Also be sure to check out these cool moon phase graphics
that are posted monthly @moonbodysoul on Instagram!

And finally, I leave you with this from one of my favorite seasonal books.

"The stars of summer reach their final apogee in the sky; one last parade through the warm and pleasant evenings before the winds of autumn hurry them from their celestial scene. Vega and Deneb shine directly overhead, as if boasting of their eventual return. Altair casts his baleful eye towards toward the south. There the "watery" constellations can be seen rising above the horizon. The Greeks thought that below the equator lay a limitless stream of ocean and named some of the constellations they glimpsed briefly at this time of year for their association with water, Pisces, the fish, and Aquarius, the water bearer.

Farther south and invisible to those who live above 38 degrees of latitude, is the enormous constellation of Argo Navis, named after the ship that carried Jason and the Argonauts on their adventures. Skywatchers later broke up this huge constellation to form three smaller ones, Carina, the keel, Vela, the sail, and Puppa , the poop deck. 

Although named after the famous Argo, the great starry vessel of the sky was also said to be the first ship ever sailed and was placed in the sky by Zeus, as a celebration of man's nautical prowess. In the early autumn if you live south of The Mid Atlantic states, watch for Canopus. one of the brightest stars in the sky on the souther horizon. It forms the tip of Carina, Argo's celestial keel, steering the ship ever southward. While autumn comes to the north with fluttering leaves and chill breezes, the ship of heaven follows the sun."

from The Dance fo Time
by Michael Judge

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Small Ways To Celebrate the Ordinary Days of August

Aside from working almost non-stop on either the van or getting our apartment packed up and ready to a.) move into storage (90%), because we can't do this van thing forever, I don't think, and b.) move into the van (10%), in the evenings I've been making cute little decorative things for the van.  If you follow me on Instagram (and if you 'gram, you should!), I've been posting a lot of what I've been working on there. But this pic is a little conglomeration of a few things I've made up over the past several months. My biggest project is a sampler, which I still haven't finished off, I think out of fear that I'm going to mess it up after all-those-hours I spent stitching it, but since I did make it for the van it needs to happen soon. Maybe I'll make that my goal for tonight and try working on it.

That being said, this summer is flying by! It's hard to believe that next week is the last week of July and then it will be August. By then we will be full time in the van, tweaking some last minute details before we decide on our first destination and heading out. But even while living in the van, it's important to me to continue with the traditions that have long been a part of our lives. As the whole idea is to take home on the rode, then the elements that make up home and home life will transition with us. It might look a little different, and with no children in the home anymore, some, even perhaps most of these little celebrations I will likely observe for myself, and that is fine by me. Often the recognition is nothing more than an acknowledgement, but if it lends itself to a special meal, that makes it easier and becomes something my husband and I can both enjoy. And so, here are some small ways to celebrate the ordinary days of August.


Whilst August yet wears her golden crown, Ripening fields lush- bright with promise; Summer waxes long, then wanes, quietly passing Her fading green glory on to riotous Autumn." 


- Family Fun Month
- National Picnic Month
- Peach Month

Week 1 - National Simplify Your Life Week / International Clown Week
Week 2 - National Smile Week
Week 3 - Friendship Week
Week 4 - Be Kind to Humankind Week

August 1
Campfire Day - First Saturday in August
National Mountain Climbing Day
National Raspberry Cream Pie Day

August 2
Friendship Day - First Sunday in August
International Forgiveness Day - First Sunday in August
National Ice Cream Sandwich Day
Sisters Day - First Sunday in August

August 3
Grab Some Nuts Day
National Watermelon Day

August 4
National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day
U.S. Coast Guard Day

August 5
National Oyster Day
Work Like a Dog Day

August 6
Wiggle Your Toes Day

August 7
National Lighthouse Day

August 8
National Clown Day - Saturday during International Clown Week

August 9
Book Lover's Day

August 10
Lazy Day
National S'mores Day

August 11 - 13
Annual Perseid Meteor Shower - peak date varies slightly

August 11
Son and Daughter Day

August 12
Middle Child's Day

August 13
Left Hander's Day

August 14
National Creamsicle Day

August 15
National Honey Bee Awareness Day - Third Saturday
Relaxation Day - now this one's for me!

August 16
National Tell a Joke Day

August 17
National Thriftshop Day

August 18
Bad Poetry Day
World Daffodil Day

August 19
Aviation Day
National Potato Day

August 20
National Radio Day

August 21
National Spumoni Day
Senior Citizen's Day

August 22
Be an Angel Day
National Tooth Fairy Day - and/or February 28

August 23 
Ride the Wind Day

August 24
Vesuvius Day

August 25 
Kiss and Make Up Day
National Banana Split Day

August 26
National Dog Day
Women's Equality Day

August 27
Global Forgiveness Day
Just Because Day

August 28
Stuffed Green Bell Peppers Day

August 29
International Bacon Day - Saturday before Labor Day
More Herbs, Less Salt Day

August 30
Frankenstein Day
Toasted Marshmallow Day

August 31
National Eat Outside Day
National Trail Mix Day

Monday, July 20, 2020

Monthly Mood Trackers

Recently I've been researching holistic health care in an effort to understand some minor but chronic health problems I've been experiencing over the past year or so. As the gut is "our second brain" and is widely responsible for many health problems, I've been looking a way to assess how my mental and spiritual health may be affecting my physical health. That led me to mood trackers, which I will simultaneously be using along side a health journal to look for any correelations. I'm also interested in how living in the van and closer to nature may or may not play a role in this, and I only wish now that I had actually done this sooner. I have been keeping a health journal for a couple of months now to track how various foods may potentially be affecting me, but until now I haven't though to track my mood, so it might be hard to compare the before and after. All that being said, I made up the ❈ MONTHLY MOOD TRACKERS ❈ for my personal use, but decided to make them available as a free download in the event that anyone else might want them, and if not, that's fine, too. There are literally hundreds of others available if my rendition doesn't strike your fancy. Just google "mood tracker". There's sure to be one out there that you'll like! You can click the link below to see my creation, below. ~ Enjoy!

January - December (Undated)

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Summer Phenology Wheels - Now Available

The Summer Phenology Wheels are available for download.
Just click on the link below.
Hope you can finish out July and fill in August!

~ Enjoy

Friday, July 17, 2020

Ordinary Days of Small Things Summer Day Keeper

I apologize for going a-wall on you, but it's for a good reason!  My husband and I are ten days away from moving into our van full time and traveling the country. And while Covid-19 may keep us a little closer to home that we originally planned, we were just discussing a few days ago that we could spend six months in West Virginia alone and another six in the Smoky Mountains, not to mention all the beautiful places we have yet to see to right here in our home state of Virginia! But in spite of my longer than expected sabbatical from blogging . . . I have some good news!

. . . Albeit about six weeks late, I finally have the  SUMMER DAY KEEPER completed and available for download (see the link below). I also have the Phenology Wheels for June/July/August, so if you'd like you can at least fill in August! I'll be posting them later tonight or tomorrow morning.

After this posting the Season Keepers should be relatively easy as they are now all complete! It will just take a little tweaking of dates each season and then they will be up. That being said, I plan to post the Autumn Day Keeper next week so be on the look out for it! We will have wi-fi in the van, so as long as we are in signal I can still continue to post.

Right now my tentative schedule for posting is:

Autumn Day Keeper 2020 - Available July 24
Winter Day Keeper 2020/2021 - Available November 20
Spring Day Keeper 2021 - Available February 19
Summer Day Keeper 2021 - Available May 21

But for now I hope will enjoy the  SUMMER DAY KEEPER ❈, just click the link below!

Monday, May 18, 2020

Yes, I'm Still Here!

Good Monday morning, friends! I only have a minute, which seems to be the case a lot lately, but I wanted to pop in to let you know that I'm still here and all is well.  The progress on our van conversion has really picked up due to all the down time we've had as a result of Covid 19, and that has taken a lot of my time. When I'm not holding boards, sanding, filling holes, etc. I'm usually worn out and parked on the couch creating beautiful things, like that little beauty in the image above, to use to decorate it. I thought I had more time, and now I feel like I'm scrambling to make sure everything is ready when the van is, which will be sooner than later.

That being said, I still love this little space and long for the days when I'll have more time to devote to it. I do hope us to get the summer day keeper out before Memorial Day, no promises, but it is important to me so hopefully I can make that happen.

Until then I hope you all are doing well! I'll be back just as soon as I can.

Friday, April 24, 2020

The Bee - Volume 1, Issue 5

Good Friday, my friends! I've come across a few things over the past week that I want to share in this edition of THE BEE, so I hope you'll enjoy them!

Elizabeth Klett has released a **FREE** audio recording of this timeless classic! If you've never read it, or listened to it, I highly suggest it, and how can you resist free?

And while these paper dolls cost a little bit, they are reasonably priced and would be wonderful for if you have children who will be listening and following along.

Also, while not my favorite adaptation, Anne of Green Gables starring Ella Ballentine is available right now on Prime (if you have it).

If you have Netflix, you might check out Anne with an E, though I will warn you that if you are an Anne purist, this adaptation might rock your boat a little. Personally, I don't mind the liberties taken, and the vote seems pretty evenly divided among my friends on the popularity.

And finally, if you would prefer to read the book rather than listening to it or watching a movie, it's available to read for free at the archives.

I may be a kid at heart, but there are just some things I don't think I'll ever out grow.  I absolutely loved pouring over the I Spy books with my girls when they were little. Those were actually some of the most well worn books we owned! But even if you don't have the books, you can find a number of free printable I Spy puzzles that will keep your littles, and maybe yourself, busy for hours! Just click the title above to take you to the link!

If you're not familiar with Brambly Hedge, then I can't encourage you enough to become acquainted with it.  There are a number of books written by author Jill Barklem, but among my favorites are the seasonal series. You can find Brambly Hedge Spring free at the archives, and it would be a lovely place to start.

There was also a BBC series some time back, and several of the videos are available on You Tube. Here's what looks to be a nice upload of Spring Story. I hope you'll enjoy it!

And now I must be about my day! I hope you've found something here that interests you! I'll be back next week and hope to meet up with then!

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

From Grandma's Kitchen - Simple Scalloped Potatoes

I don't know about your family, but recently we've been using primarily what we have on hand to put together our meals, which can sometimes result in some interesting combinations. Last night however was an exception as I found a package of chicken thighs in the freezer and roasted them and served a can of English Peas and these wonderfully simple scalloped potatoes.

I've been using this recipe for years and it's never failed me!  The nice thing is that you probably have most of the ingredients on hand!

4 - 5 thinly sliced potatoes (Yukon Gold or Russet)
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1 teaspoon salt
1 dash cayenne pepper
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 1.5 quart baking dish.

In a small sauce pan, melt butter and stir in flour.

Whisk in the milk and season with salt and cayenne.

Cook sauce on low until it boils and thickens, stirring occasionally.

Reduce heat and stir in 1 cup of the cheddar cheese.

Place a half of the sliced potatoes in the baking dish. Pour half of cheese sauce over potatoes. Repeat with second layer of potatoes and cheese sauce.

Top with some paprika for color.

Cover and bake for 1 hour at 350°F. Uncover and bake for additional 30 minutes or until fork tender.

Monday, April 20, 2020

The Power of Gratitude

"Your first thought every morning should be, "Thank you!". 
- Unknown

Good afternoon, friends! I pray that this post finds you rested and at peace. As I was typing that first sentence I was going to say "I pray that you had a restful and weekend and that today finds you at peace", but then it occurred to me that for so many of us "weekends" don't really exist in the sense that that they did prior to Covid 19. I don't know about you, but most days I don't even know what day of the week it is! Anyone else? So whether you know if it's Monday or not and you're as confused as I am, that pray that this Monday finds you blessed none the less.

And speaking of Monday,  if you read my last post then you'll know that today is the day I want to talk about GRATITUDE! As I've been a little anxious and whiny lately I thought that among the weapons I have at my disposal for fighting this battle, focusing on the gifts that are already mine would be a good place to begin, and it's powerful!

My first experience with harnessing the power of gratitude came when I read the book One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are by Ann Voskamp. If you are not familiar with this book, I highly recommend it. Just like the title, Ann challenged herself to document 1000 things she was grateful for, and was amazed at the transformative power that gratitude made in her life, and it has the potential to do the same for anyone!

In fact here are some of the benefits that gratitude can make in your life.

  • Improves you well being by 10% which is the same impact a doubling your income.
  • It's been proven that writing in a gratitude journal induces the relaxation response, resulting in improved mood, relaxed muscles and lowers blood pressure and your heart rate.
  • Gratitude improves your resiliency to stress and makes you more likely to offer support to others.
  • It likewise improves relationships, and increases your sleep quality and duration. 
  • But of all the things that gratitude can and will do is improving your immune system. Studies have shown that gratitude increases optimism which enhances the cell mediated immune system and aides your body in fighting off viruses and bacteria.
I don't know about you, but just reading that list makes me grateful for all the positive things that gratitude can produce in our lives! And I know from experience that this works!

Back a few years ago when I was going through a pretty rough time, I revisited One Thousand Gifts, and began keeping a gratitude journal. Like Ann, I was literally amazed at how quickly my perspective about my life began to change! It was a very difficult time, but rather than on focusing on what I did't have, I began looking for things to be grateful for. I had left everything I loved behind and moved back to a place I had sworn I would never return to, and yet within just a few days I began to notice a change in my attitude. And even more amazing, within just a few weeks I actually began to love things about my life that I had previously grumbled and complained about. It not only changed my perspective, it changed me, making me a much happier person to be around! It was such a positive experience to be honest I don't know why I got out of the habit, but it wouldn't be first time that something has worked well for me and then once things get better I kind of forget about it. I do the same thing when I am taking medication to physical ailments. I'll be really good at making sure I take the recommended dosage for the first couple of days, but then once I start to feel better, it's hard for me to remember. I've landed myself right back where I started for not following through so-many-times!

And so my friends, if you're someone, who like me, could do with a boost in gratitude, and perhaps struggles to remember to keep doing what works!, I'm currently working on some free printable tools to help myself in that effort, and I'll be sure to share them with you as soon as they are ready! In the mean time, I also want to encourage you not wait for something pretty to print to begin taking notice of all that you have to be grateful for and documenting it! I've already begun, and challenged myself to list three things each morning that I am grateful for, and here's my first installment.

- For cross-stitching. It is hands down my favorite hobby and I spent all of yesterday working on the piece you see on the right in the picture above. It brings me such joy and I am so grateful for such a lovely way to pass the time! I've been doing it for years now, and in fact the finished piece you see on the left is one I made up a couple of years ago.

- For slow, soft spring rang. I awoke to the loveliest soft rain this morning, and it's been steadily falling most of the day. Aside from a good thunderstorm now and then, it's probably my favorite kind of rainy day!

- For a truly remarkable and beautiful spring! I don't know if it's because of the times we are currently living in, the changes in the environment that have occurred, or if nature is just showing off this year, but this spring has been one for the records!

So there it is!  I'm off to changing my view of the world through the lens of gratitude! Care to join me?

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

The Bee - Volume 1, Issue 4

Good afternoon, friends! I am sorry that I am late in posting this edition of The Bee, but we awoke this morning to discover that it had snowed in the mountains overnight, and since we've had so little snow this year (none, actually), we got dressed and left right after breakfast and didn't return until just around noon. So I hope you'll understand!

Isn't this chalkboard graphic cute? I have it saved to one of my Pinterest boards, and I thought in light of many of us being at home with our children, perhaps you might use it to inspire you to look for occasions to praise the ones you love, or maybe you need a little of that encouragement yourself!

"Every spring is the only spring 
- a perpetual astonishment." 

 - Ellis Peters

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If you're looking for a quick, simple craft, this cute little alphabet of banners is available for free!  Perhaps you could even combine the two, taking inspiration from the chalkboard graphic above, and printing out the letters to spell "Love Each Other", or "Laugh A Lot"! I'm thinking of printing of the letters to spell "HOME" and displaying it somewhere. They are just too cute to resist, and FREE! If you don't like this style, there is this one, as well!

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10 Ways To Create a Home of Warmth and Grace
And speaking of home, and encouraging those we love during this time, here's a wonderful post from The Better Mom where she discusses 10 Ways To Create a Home of Warmth and Grace.

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Susan Branch
Susan Branch is and has been one of my all time favorite authors and illustrators for years now. I own so many of her books and I couldn't pick a favorite from the bunch. They are each simply delightful!  This quote is also a favorite, so combined with the fact that Susan dolled it up with her whimsy touch makes it all the more endearing. If you've never visited her blog, it is equally as charming. Just click here. Can I also say that I love that she refers to to the pandemic as the "Dam Panic". I think I'll adopt it!

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Self Care
And while we're talking about caring for our families and make our homes a warm, peaceful retreat during these trying times, remember, you can't fill from an empty pitcher! Taking care of yourself is not only not selfish, Jesus modeled it Himself in scripture! But if you just can't get past those "selfish" feelings, here's a list of things that only takes 5 minutes to do! Surely taking 5 minutes from your day for a little self care, is FAR from selfish!

- Brush out your hair.
- Make yourself a warm drink (or a cold one, if you prefer!)
- Light a candle.
- Listen to an upbeat song.
- Give yourself a foot massage.
- Step outside in the fresh air.
- Text a friend and check in.
- Engage in 5 minutes of focused breathing.
- Write down 10 things you are grateful for!
- Dance like crazy (you can sweep or vacuum at the same time!)
- Smile!

Monday, April 13, 2020

The Bee - Small Things, Gathered - Volume 1, Issue 3

Good morning, friends! I pray you all had a blessed and beautiful Easter weekend. In spite of how very different this season is, I truly enjoyed the quiet simplicity of our celebration. My husband and I rose early and ventured to a nearby park where earlier in the week we had spotted a garden and found it the perfect spot for a small, personal service of our own, and it was so lovely. He watched an online service later in the morning, which I had planned to do, as well, but I found our time together so filling that I opted instead to hold it in my mind, and reflecting upon our reading and the beauty that had surrounded us carried me through the day.

Our dinner, likewise, was simple, using things we already had. I made up some fried cabbage, potato salad, deviled eggs, and cooked a peppercorn pork loin that I had picked up on sale shortly before we went into quarantine. What I didn't realize is that unlike other pork loins I've purchased in the past, this one you cooked in the bag. Neither my husband or I particularly cared for it, and for me it was mainly due to the texture. Sadly, as we have quite a bit of it left over, I'm faced with the dilemma of how to improve upon its flavor and texture. My husband seems to think that our grocer stands behind their store brands and saved the packaging and will try to secure a refund once all of this mess is over, so we shall see. In the mean time, I'll keep you posted on my success with improving it!

And now, here are today's offerings of sweetness, gathered from across the internet.

"The sun was warm but the wind was chill.
You know how it is with an April day.
When the sun is out and the wind is still,
You're one month on in the middle of May.
But if you so much as dare to speak,
a cloud come over the sunlit arch,
And wind comes off a frozen peak,
And you're two months back in the middle of March."
- Robert Frost
Two Tramps in Mud Time

My husband and I passed by several lilac bushes on one of our walks last week, and as always, I was simply captivated by their sweet aroma! But did you know that you can make Lilac Jelly? I certainly didn't! Unfortunately I don't think our neighbors would be fond of my picking blooms from their bushes, so maybe another time. But if you happen to have some growing in your own yard, maybe give this recipe a try.

Throughout history, women have turned to making things with their hands as a way of keeping busy and being productive during times of crisis. This is a wonderful article on that subject, with links to tutorials that you can follow should you decide to take up a craft yourself.

"The April rain, the April rain,
Comes slanting down in fitful showers,
Then from the furrow shoots the grain,
And banks are fledged with nestling flowers;
And in grey shawl and woodland bowers
The cuckoo through the April rain
Calls once again."
- Mathilde Blind 
April Rain

If you're a Wind in the Willows fan, you'll find the 1983 British stop motion animated film, here.  Produced by Cosgrove Hall Films for Thames Television and aired on the ITV network. The film is based on Kenneth Grahame's classic story The Wind in the Willows. I wouldn't say the quality is the best, but honestly, for me at least, that's part of the charm.

I am a HUGE fan of classic children's literature, in fact I've been dreaming up a series of posts on that very subject. But aside from the stories, one of the things I love most about vintage children's literature is the illustrations. Published in 1976, the illustration above is from the book Oh What A Busy Day illustrated by Gyo Fujikawa.  Unfortunately I wasn't able to find this particular book at the archives, but did come across another that looks equally as lovely.

A Child's Book of Poems

If you like vintage children's literature and illustrations, like I do, you might be interested in the joining this Facebook group.

The Golden Age of Illustration

It was through this group that I was introduced to Gyo Fujikawa, as well as many others.

I've even devoted an entire board to beautiful illustrations from the pages of children's literature, if you're interested in perusing it.

Favorite Things - Illustrators

And if sheltering in place is driving you nutsawoo... well. It's at times like these that the words of Agatha Swanburne are most needed. Fans of the Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place, don't miss this free (and fabulous) guide, available here.

And there you have it for today, my friends! I hope you'll find something here to fill some of your time as we all await for the world to return to whatever normal is going to look like, personally, I hope it looks a lot different than the before, but in a good way. However, as I could speak to that topic for another thirty minutes or so, I'll just leave that thought for you to ponder. Perhaps we can discuss it in another post?

Until then,