Winter Band Concert

What a treat this evening, to be in the audience during grandson Jonathan’s band concert debut. This talented young man, who sings, dances and performs in musicals and plays, added a band instrument to his repertoire three months ago, choosing the clarinet.

Tonight the 6th Grade Band opened the winter concert at the Pittsburg Memorial Auditorium.

Looking classy in a white button down shirt, suspenders and a bow tie, Jonathan was front and center on the stage. He did not appear to be at all nervous for his first band concert.

The 6th Grade Band, Jazz Band, and 7th & 8th Grade Band performed under the direction of Mr. Matthew Reimer. He did a fantastic job of introducing each band and explaining their musical numbers. It was easy to see that this dedicated band teacher is building skills in his students that will further their musical talents.

Jonathan and his fellow musicians led off with A Mozart Melody by W.A. Mozart, a readily recognizable tune. Listen to it HERE. Their next selection was Listen to Our Sections by John Higgins. Mr. Reimer explained this piece helps the students learn when to play, and when not to play. Watch it HERE.

Aura Lee by George R. Poulton was musical piece number three. You can experience it HERE. And for their grand finish, the band performed a Christmas classic, Jingle Bells by J.S. Pierpont. Sing along HERE.

I was so proud of Jonathan, and the 6th Grade Band. These children are at the beginning of a musical journey that will take them through hours and hours and hours of practicing and perfecting. Ahead are many performances in marching bands, ensembles and concerts. I am thrilled to have witnessed this auspicious first performance.

Jonathan’s big brother, Dayan, who made it home from the university in time to be present in the audience, began his musical journey in 6th grade as well. I spent the next six years enjoying his concerts and performances. How perfectly timed is Jonathan’s decision to pursue band as well. I have more years ahead to enjoy his performances.

There are powerful life lessons to learn, mastering a musical instrument. Those lessons about playing their parts, focusing on the music in front of them, and allowing the other musicians to play their parts well are apparent to me also as I watch with appreciation and gratitude.

It just would not have felt right this December, without a band concert to attend. Well done, Jonathan. You played beautifully. Bravo!

4 Bean Vegan Chili

On cold winter evenings, a bowl of steaming hot chili makes a satisfying and warming meal. I have used a chili recipe for many years, adapted from one my dad created. Since going plant based, I have tried several chili recipes I found online or in cookbooks. They tasted fine. And yet I still felt compelled to keep trying, keep looking.

Ultimately, I ended up creating a recipe of my own.

This simple to make chili comes together in minutes, and uses easily found ingredients. I used organic, and non GMO, canned goods from the grocery store, with fresh veggies such as onion, green bell pepper and garlic.

Putting together this recipe gave me the opportunity of also try out a recipe maker. The app I selected works well enough, but doesn’t have a format that makes it suitable for using in my blog posts. I will keep searching.

I chose to use pinto, black, great northern and red kidney beans, however, any variety of beans could be used. I want to add lima beans next time. More, or less, seasoning could be used. And red bell pepper could be substituted for the green.

I liked the ease of preparation and the spicy aroma that filled my kitchen as the pot of chili simmered on the stove. I diced an avocado and anticipated a homey, warming bowl of chili.

I was not disappointed. This was a very tasty chili, and exactly what I have been looking for. That old adage that says “if you want something done right, do it yourself”, rings true in this case. I created what I was looking for.

There isn’t any meat in this recipe, but there is wholesomeness, goodness and lots of love. I think my dad would approve.

Try a New Fruit

I was grateful to select an easy and fun Inspiration Starter today. I am always open to trying something new. I drew out the slip of paper with the words, Try a new fruit.

During the summer months, my local farmer’s market carries a huge assortment of amazing fruits and veggies. This time of year, I shop at the neighborhood grocery store. I hoped there would be a fruit in the produce section that I had not eaten before.

At the supermarket, I found one…one…fruit I had not tried before. There were cartons of small yellow fruits called guavas. Perfect! I bought a box containing 10 of the tropical fruits.

I had to look this fruit up, to learn more about it.

Guavas are indeed a tropical fruit, found in Mexico and Central and South America, and also in countries such as Pakistan, China and India. There are many varieties. The skin, which is edible, can be green, yellow or maroon when the fruit is ripe. The flesh inside can vary from off white in color to dark pink.

The fruit I bought for the first time was soft, with a fruity aroma. When I sliced one in two, the flesh inside was off white. The tiny seeds are very difficult to remove. Everything I read suggested the seeds, like the rind, were edible.

I chose to use my guavas to make a refreshing drink called agua de guayaba, or guava water.

The recipe was easy:

• 6 or 7 guavas

• 1/4 – 1/2 cup raw, unrefined coconut sugar

• 6 cups water, approximately

Wash guavas and slice each one in half. Drop into blender, rind, seeds and all. Add 4 cups of water and 1/4 cup of coconut sugar. Blend for one minute, or until fruit is thoroughly liquified. Pour into a pitcher. Add up to 2 more cups of water. Taste and add up to 1/4 cup more of coconut sugar.

I added more water. The taste was just right for me, sweetness wise, so I didn’t add additional sugar. The drink was very light and refreshing. I did not, however, like the seeds. Blending didn’t break down the tiny seeds and my body instinctively reacted to them, which is my way of knowing whether to consume something or not. It was a “not” for me.

It was a simple task to pour the guava water through a fine mesh strainer and remove the seeds. After that, I enjoyed drinking this special treat.

Guava has many health benefits, including being extremely high in vitamin C and vitamins B3 and B6. This small fruit reduces the risk of prostate and breast cancers, promotes a healthy digestive system, supports the thyroid, aids in weight loss, increases brain function, improves eyesight, prevents colds, slows the aging process, reduces cholesterol levels and blood pressure, and regulates blood sugar.

That is one power-packed little fruit!

Now that I am familiar with guavas, I will include them occasionally in my diet. This is their season, late fall and early winter. I have never noticed cartons of guavas in the produce section before. With an increased awareness of them, and their benefits, I will not be able to help but spot them now!

And that’s what I love about these creative games that I play. They expand my knowledge and my awareness, teach me trust and introduce me to new things. I always win, in so many ways, when I play!

From Kid’s Craft to Framed Art

Tonight’s fun project was inspired by an idea I had last year. I found a child’s carefully drawn snowman, in a box of keepsakes from Greg’s parents’ house. The child who drew this cute snowman was Greg’s brother, Ray. I estimated the drawing was done in 1958. I framed the snowman, using a plaid scrapbook paper for the background.

I have enjoyed using this framed art as part of my Christmas decor. Ray passed away in 2002, making the snowman very special. I think of him when I look at his artwork. That project in turn inspired me to create framed art from vintage Christmas cards from the early 1900s.

Earlier this year, I uncovered more Christmas crafts, created long ago by another child. These construction paper pieces were made by Greg, when he was nine or ten years old. Being a parent, one thing I embraced long ago is fairness. Having turned his brother’s snowman into Christmas decor, it seemed right to do the same with Greg’s holiday candle and poinsettia!

Tonight I assembled materials to transform these childhood keepsakes into framed art. One slight challenge that I had was that Greg’s artwork wouldn’t fit within an 8×10 frame, as Ray’s snowman had. It was simple enough to buy larger frames. An 11×14 frame worked and at Michaels they were on a ” buy one, get one” special. Perfect.

The challenge part was finding a holiday themed paper large enough to serve as the background for the artwork. Scrapbook papers don’t come in that bigger size. I bought a roll of Christmas wrap, thinking that could be an option, and gathered my supplies, which included sheets of 9×12 holiday scrapbook papers.

When I opened the first frame, and discovered there was indeed an actual mat included, with an 8×10 opening, I made a quick decision. I liked the idea of using the scrapbook paper and the mat…and allowing the artwork to rest outside the mat, rather than within it. It was a literal “outside of the box” project!

Double sided tape secured the festive construction paper candle to the mat and background, and into the frame the repurposed artwork went. I used a plain green background for the poinsettia and in a few minutes the second framed art was completed.

The framed poinsettia is upside down in this photo, however, I am pleased with the results.

These simple projects are meaningful to me. Creating framed art from childhood treasures honors the artist, provides a lasting keepsake, and they are great additions to my holiday decor. I would rather have these pieces of art by Ray and Greg, which are almost 60 years old and 55 years old respectively, on display where they can be appreciated and enjoyed, rather than forgotten in a storage box.

I think Ray would smile over his framed snowman. And I know Greg takes delight in seeing a keepsake from his childhood elevated to framed art and displayed as well.

I must sort through more boxes…and see what other treasures I can find.

Draw a Memory

I’ve been in the mood to draw the last couple of days. Which is why I was delighted to select the Inspiration Starter that I did today. More than just an invitation to draw, this slip of paper instructed me to Draw a memory. Immediately a fond memory from my early childhood came to mind.

I was ready to sketch.

I looked through an old photo album, for a photographic representation of my memory. I found it. The black and white photo captures my four year old self perched atop a clothesline pole in the backyard of my childhood home.

I was a climber as a child. By age four I was climbing furniture, shimmying up poles, scampering up trees and sitting on rooftops, the tiny queen of my world.

The photographer, probably my mom, lopped off the top of my face and head in the picture. However, there’s a hint of a smile on my lower face and the relaxed pose of my body suggests this was not the first time I had scaled the clothesline pole.

This memory makes me smile, more than half a century later. Using the the photo as a guide, I sketched out this fun recollection.

As I drew, this memory expanded to include my penchant for climbing tall objects, and also disappearing into closets, crawling beneath beds, and sitting in the middle of a neighborhood field, completely hidden by tall grasses that rippled in the breeze. Beneath all of these activities was an inborn desire to seek out solitude.

I had a bedroom of my own. But I was easily found there. Hiding from view, even in a simple and obvious place like beneath the bed, provided solitude for a time and space to fire up my imagination. The neighborhood kids weren’t as adventurous about sitting on rooftops or climbing to the uppermost branches in a tall tree. So these places gave me privacy and a different perspective.

Sometimes I’ve looked back at my childhood and thought, What a strange and quirky kid I was. Today, I looked at my finished drawing with a smile and the shine of tears in my eyes. I remembered that kid and thought, I love that spirited girl. She wasn’t afraid to be herself, and seek out places to think and dream and study the clouds and the stars.

In embracing her, I embrace some of the best and most courageous parts of myself. And I engage that fun, creative side of me that has reappeared these last few years and grown. What gifts that wee girl has given to me.

Thanks, kid. I am grateful.

Movie Review: Carrie Pilby

I became aware of this Independant film via Twitter. I am a fan of Colin O’Donoghue, best known for portraying Captain Hook on the tv series Once Upon a Time. He plays Professor Harrison in the movie.

Last night I had the opportunity to watch this charming movie on Netflix.

Carrie Pilby stars Bel Powley, Nathan Lane, Gabriel Byrne, Colin O’Donoghue, Jason Ritter, William Moseley, Desmin Borges and Vanessa Bayer. Susan Johnson directed this comedy drama based on the novel written by Caren Lissner. The movie has a run time of 1 hour and 38 minutes.

Carrie Pilby (Powley) is a 19 year old Harvard graduate living on her own in New York City. Although she possesses a genius level intelligence, or perhaps because of it, life is challenging for her. She is unemployed, supported by her father (Byrne), who resides in London. Carrie spends her days isolated in her apartment, reading her beloved books. She prefers her own company, finding people to be immoral and preoccupied with relationships.

Mr. Pilby arranges a night time job for his daughter, proof reading legal documents, and sessions with his therapist friend, Dr. Petrov (Lane). In an attempt to get Carrie out of her apartment and more engaged with life, Dr. Petrov creates a to-do list for her. The list has six tasks:

• Make a friend

• Go on a date

• Get a pet

• Do something that she enjoyed as a child

• Spend New Year’s Eve with someone

• Read her favorite book again

Carrie reluctantly agrees to the list. She does get out of her apartment more, but with mixed, and often humorous, results. Her two co-workers, Tara (Bayer) and Douglas (Borges), become her friends. She arranges a date, through a personal ad, with Matt (Ritter), who turns out to be a young man wanting one last fling before getting married. And she finds being a gold fish owner to be more difficult than she imagined.

Doing something from her childhood reconnects her to a favorite drink. Her new friends invite her to hang out with them at a New Year’s Eve party. That just leaves reading her favorite book again. The problem with that item on the list is that she no longer has her favorite book in her possession. She loaned it to Professor Harrison (O’Donoghue), one of her instructors at Harvard. In a series of flashbacks, the relationship between the two, and its ultimate failure, is revealed.

The list is a challenge for Carrie. However, as she marks each task off, she uncovers the source of pain and isolation within herself. In this place of tender new awareness, she opens up to her musically gifted neighbor, Cy (Moseley). Carrie discovers that as flawed as people are, there is goodness within them too.

I loved this film that was equal parts quirky and funny and touching. It was fun to see Colin O’Donoghue in a different role. And Nathan Lane has such great timing and delivery of his lines. Bel Powley is new to me, and she portrayed Carrie brilliantly. With my tendency to seek out solitude, I could understand her character’s desire to isolate herself, as well as recognize the dangers of disconnection.

I was intrigued by the list Carrie’s therapist created for her to work through, to move her beyond her comfort zone. And I realized with a laugh that I do the same thing, in the form of games that I make up for myself. I am playing one this month with my 31 Inspiration Starters that challenge me. Perhaps we would all benefit from an occasional to-do list that pulls us out of the ruts we create through our habits.

Carrie Pilby is definitely a coming of age movie. But more than that, it reminded me to not get too comfortable with where I am in life. Toward the end of the movie, Carrie tells her father that at age 19, it is okay if she’s not all sorted out yet. I agree. Maybe even at age 29 or 39 or even 59, it is okay to still be figuring things out. I hope so. I’m not all sorted out either yet.

Creating a Fairy Garden

I am grateful to have drawn this Inspiration Starter out of the jar, for several reasons: I needed an easy task today, and the Divine said Here you go. I have wanted to create a fairy garden for years and have not done so yet. And the simple act of drawing out this slip of paper inspired ideas that took off in a creative direction that I am excited about.

Admittedly, this is not the right time of year to create a fairy garden, also called a miniature garden, outdoors. Tiny living plants are used, along with small structures and cute accessories. I wrote out these Inspiration Starters in July, and today, my garden is sleeping. However, not to be deterred, I found this chilly blustery day perfect for planning out a fairy garden and browsing through pages of ideas.

One of the reasons I have not included a miniature garden yet in my backyard paradise is because I didn’t have a designated space for one. My garden is well established, which means the flowers and grasses and herbs are approaching or at their full size. A tiny garden would be lost among the mature plants. However, as I considered a fairy garden this afternoon, my rusty wheelbarrow came to mind.

This old barrow has housed colorful annuals each summer, but it will make the perfect container for a fairy garden. And it has the added benefit of being movable, so I can wheel it into or out of the sun, depending on what miniature plants I select.

Once I visualized a fairy garden in the rusty old wheelbarrow, the rest came together immediately. I have a huge appreciation and fondness for the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit stories. The Hobbits are a peaceful, earthy people, who love gardening, good food and tea time. I had found my inspiration for my garden.

I wondered if there were Hobbit Fairy Garden kits or tiny houses at least. There are! I had such fun looking at miniature Hobbit houses and studying fairy gardens in general, to see what kinds of plants are used.

How adorable is this Hobbit Miniature Garden? Can you imagine one set up in a vintage wheelbarrow? I can! Several stores in the Joplin area carry fairy garden supplies. And I found a Hobbit House available through Amazon. They also have just a Hobbit door that could be added to a tiny mound of grass covered dirt.

In addition, I found a huge assortment of accessories. My garden can have tiny light posts, fake veggies, gardening tools, flowerpots, stone walk ways, a pond, a field rock bridge and even a tea set!

I am excited about the plans for a Hobbit Fairy Garden. My playful nature will enjoy combining gardening with this form of creativity. After the first of the year I will begin assembling the components for the garden and dream away until spring arrives. I will look forward to creating a Hobbit Fairy Garden DIY post at that time.

What at first appeared to be an impossible task today quickly transitioned into a fun time of playing and planning and churning out ideas.

I call that a very good day.

Submitting Essays for Publication

This morning I drew my third Inspiration Starter, and the first one that caused me to make that strange sound created by sucking air in through the mouth around clenched teeth. I love playing this game, of seemingly random choices, that actually aren’t random at all. I know I am being guided. And my rule is, I draw a folded slip of paper out of the jar and that’s my activity for the day. No do overs.

This one is one of the biggies, pushing me out of my comfort zone and stretching me to take what I do to a different level. This is good, right? This is what I wanted…and I wrote out the activities, knowing my stomach would tighten a little in response to some of them.

Today I drew:

I selected a slip of paper early, so I could think about the activity as I worked this afternoon. Before dipping my hand into the jar, I asked aloud, How shall we play today? This was the answer.

I am grateful for Google. As I turned my attention to this project late this afternoon, I posed another question, this time to that online helper.

Where can I submit essays for publication?

Instantly, Google supplied an answer. I was directed to an article by The Write Life, with a list of 19 websites and magazines to submit essays for publication. What a helpful page this turned out to be. I have spent time this evening studying options, looking at the publication websites, and taking notes.

Yes, I still like the scratch of pen against paper. Plus the action of writing allows my thoughts to flow. By the time I had visited my top picks for submission, reading through guidelines and sample essays, I was able to narrow my selection to seven choices.

This was a good exercise for me tonight. In truth, I am very content to write blog posts. After almost four years of daily writing, I have found a niche that I enjoy. I don’t have a burning desire to write a book. I am happy to be a blogger.

However, these Inspiration Starters are designed to ignite a fire and challenge me. And I am ready for that. I have 1,437 blog posts. Tonight I selected several that I am reframing slightly into more essay like formats. An essay is an opinion piece. And basically, most of my blog posts fall into that category.

Tomorrow morning I will submit 1 – 3 essays to a site called Narratively, that became my top publication pick tonight. I feel good about kicking my writing up a notch. And in the process of doing research, I discovered The Write Life, a great site for freelance writing, marketing, publishing and blogging. And I found another site called Travelista that accepts travel stories.

That’s good. I know there is an Inspiration Starter in that jar about submitting a travel piece.

Starting Inspirational Fires

This is the blog post that almost wasn’t. And it is one of those twisty, turny journeys that needs a bit of backstory to make sense. Bear with me.

In July of this year, I felt drawn to create what I dubbed Inspiration Starters. Read about those HERE. I wrote creative ideas, with the intention of challenging myself, on 32 slips of paper and dropped them into a container. I randomly selected one of those Inspiration Starters a few days later. And then, totally forgot about them, as in, they passed from time and memory. Until this past week. Decorating for Christmas I opened the ceramic jar and thought, oh yeah!

I had 31 slips of paper left. December, with its 31 days, was about to begin. I decided what a great way to finish this Year of Inspiration, this time of living with a focus on creativity and treating others with kindness. I could draw a slip of paper each day, beginning December 1.

I was excited to draw the first folded slip today. When I played a similar game last year I was amazed by the synchronicities, the Divine guidance, the remarkable alignment of perfect conditions that appeared around each of those slips of paper. Drawing them randomly takes me out of the equation and opens my heart, spirit and creativity to a power greater than me.

What would I select? Honestly, I had created the Inspiration Starters five months ago. I had forgotten all that I came up with, which was good. I could be surprised.

I drew:

My first thought was, Well…even though this is Friday, and this Inspiration appears perfect, it won’t work this weekend. I have an out of town family birthday party tomorrow and an open house Sunday. There would be no get away this weekend.

My second thought was, This one is a miss. The timing was off. And, there was more to it than that.

I have been thinking much about a weekend get away lately, just me and a journal and a pen. As this year winds down, I feel drawn to go off by myself and think and dream and plan, a releasing of 2017 and an anticipation of 2018. I want time to commune with the Divine and meditate and go within. With that desire in mind, I asked the Divine to arrange the get away weekend, guiding me to the right place, at the right time, by way of signs, symbols and synchronicities.

To make it an even more fun and challenging quest, I asked EL-LE (my personal name for God, pronounced like the letter L), for a very specific sign. I would know it was all EL-LE’s doing in two ways: The weekend away, alone, would cost me nothing, or very little, allowing me to be open to all kinds of opportunities beyond simply staying in a hotel somewhere. And, I would know which place was the right one because it would have a particular symbol attached to it, that is significant to me.

Drawing that slip of paper today threw me. Nothing appeared to be in place for the weekend get away. It did indeed seem to be a miss, timing wise. I decided to keep a weekend away in mind during this month, and just see what unfolded. I left the slip of paper on my writing table in my studio.

I’ve had other things going on today. I’ve been busy and didn’t dwell on that Inspiration Starter. I wasn’t sure what I was going to write about this evening but I trusted the right thing would come along at the right time.

It did. And it connected back to the weekend get away paper that I drew.

As I was finishing my last task for the day, I was offered an amazing, and surprising, gift. This person, who wishes to remain unnamed, did not know that I have been asking EL-LE for a weekend away, or that I had drawn that slip of paper earlier in the day. I was gifted with a check, for a generous amount, and instructed to get away for a weekend, to have some time alone. I was told that the thought suddenly came to my gracious benefactor late today, seemingly out of the blue, accompanied by the urge to give me this gift.

I am undone. I am so grateful. A miss? No. The slip of paper I drew earlier was a wink from the Divine, a hint that it is almost time for that weekend get away I have been longing for. And as I hoped, as I trusted, all is being arranged.

I am looking at the end of the month for my special weekend. Or perhaps the first week in January. I have no doubts that I will know which weekend is perfect, and where to stay. I am being guided. I am involved in an ongoing conversation, an intimate dance, with the Divine.

The December creative game is underway. This must be why I completed my Christmas decorating early this season. I needed to be free. Something bigger is unfolding. I am going to finish out this incredible year by starting 31 fires that will ignite my passion, creativity and imagination. I am setting my heart aflame.

Tis the Season

It is the last day of November, and I experienced a first today. My house is completely decorated for Christmas. It is the earliest I have ever accomplished this task. I don’t know what happened!

Here is a pictorial trip through my house with some of the highlights and a peek at what’s new this year.

Aunt Annie’s red box on the porch. The metal luminary with the Joy & Cheer cutout out is new this year.

I love including vintage pieces and family treasures in my decor, like Great Aunt Roxie’s little red wooden foot rest, flipped upside down to hold fabric trees and mason jars.

Vintage poinsettia dish grouped with Dayan’s first Christmas photo shoot (he’s 18 years old now), an antique ceramic candle holder, a tiny early 1900s Christmas card that I framed, and a flea market white tree I bought several years ago. Even the ceramic polar bear is getting old, a Bath & Body promotional piece from 2009.

The Snowman Village, featuring the framed snowman artwork. Greg’s brother, Ray, who passed away 15 years ago, drew this dapper snowman as a child. I framed it last year. The wooden sieve is one of my favorite vintage pieces. It gets new vignettes throughout the year.

An eclectic mix of snowmen and light. The brightly glowing square glass box, filled with miniature lights, was given to me by my friend Beth years ago. Every Christmas I replace the string of lights within it, plug it in, and leave it shining brightly until the little bulbs burn out…about late March. It is a beacon of friendship and hope.

My grandfather’s WWII army trunk now holds vintage quilts, little Christmas trees, metal stars and a trio of mason jars with tea lights tucked inside.

The ceramic nativity set was made by Greg’s mother Leta more than 60 years ago. The wooden shoes on the shelf below were a gift to my mom from her uncle when he returned from the second world war. She was five years old. She wore them, as did my sisters and I, and my children and grandchildren.

The rustic wooden box in my bedroom gets a simple and homey redo. The ceramic bird came in from my front porch, where it perched all summer. I like to mix in everyday items with my Christmas decor as well.

Silvers and golds, with touches of blue and brown, in the old battered suitcase. When Greg’s dad and his brother sold their parents’ home after they passed, they included all the contents of the house in the sale. Prior to the completion of the sale, I asked for permission to run inside before the house was locked up, and get one item. I grabbed this suitcase from a bedroom closet. It was full of old photos.

I am really pleased with this new display. The cross-stitched silhouettes were made by my mom in the 70s. Their original frames had fallen apart. I found the stitched works of art again today, and purchased new frames for them. Look how cute they are with the tartan plaid scarf and plaid Christmas tree! The display sits atop a chest that is more than 150 years old. My mother’s great grandmother traveled by covered wagon with this chest, which Greg restored for me eight years ago.

Also newly on display, this embroidery piece that reminds me of a snowflake. I found this still in its embroidery hoop, with the needle pushed through the fabric, in a drawer at Leta Moore’s house. She never quite finished it. The fabric balls were in the same drawer.

Another fresh piece, this one a vintage card tucked into an old copper-look frame. This is the fifth vintage card I’ve turned into art. I would rather display them than forget about them, tucked into a drawer somewhere.

The last photo, posted below, is of the vintage wooden ironing board that I recently set up in my studio. It has a festive green plaid scarf thrown over it, and a couple of little vignettes displayed on its wooden surface. The antique porcelain doll, from the late 1800s, has taken up residence in my studio for the first time. She is sharing space with a fabric tree made by Leta Moore and a couple of Kirkland purchases from last year. I found the gingerbread house, trees and man at Michaels a couple of weeks ago.

I not only love this time of year, I love being creative and using a mix of old and not so old, Christmas decor and everyday items. Every piece tells a story. I enjoy walking through my house, and hearing those narratives. Love, hope, survival, and family are the themes that thread those those tales, weaving a rich and varied tapestry.

Tonight the candles are lit throughout my home for the first time this season. It won’t be the last. How homey and festive and full of cheer it looks and feels. Tis the season…