forever grateful

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Before we loved, they showed us how to hold a marriage together with kindness, trust and laughter.  Thank you.
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give me details

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Up down and around six times and all for what?  It seems, more and more, that people are driven to fill their schedules with work and dates and trips and projects and whatever else comes to mind.  The end result? We’re experimenting and working and leading lives that are, well, busy.

And busy is better than boring, right?  The old saying goes that ‘if you’re bored, you’re boring’ and no one wants that. 

I had brunch with friends this weekend and phrases like ‘I don’t know where the time goes’ and ‘there’s just too much to do’ popped up throughout the meal.  Worrisome words, if you ask me, because there’s not much time for focusing on the details when you’re rushing to and fro.
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And the details are the important things, right?  Don’t just have a conversation with your friend, listen to what they say and how they say it and leave space for a big laugh or three.  When you’re baking a cake, enjoy the process and make sure you share a piece or two with a neighbor. And when it comes to work?  Take your time on projects and note how you could do better or improve your process. Image
There won’t be time for everything when you slow down and focus on the details.  And, if you ask me, that’s a good thing.  Thoreau says we should “simplify, simplify, simplify” in order to focus on things that fill us with passion and give us purpose.  I couldn’t agree more – quality over quantity every single time.  Image
I made valentine’s for friends the other day, and I was thinking about quality and quantity in relation to social media.  Social media isn’t one area where we’re encouraged to simplify, is it?  On the contrary, it’s constant parade of connections and follows and friends and likes.  We might have 1,500 friends or 17,000 followers, but how do we judge the quality of those relationships?  Could you send all your online friends a handmade valentine? Image

ace of dates

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I’m not celebrating Valentine’s Day this year.  Thing is, I made a big deal of the holiday until I fell in love.  When I was single, I would gather up my girlfriends and plan a night out that celebrated friendship.  If I had a boyfriend, I  got excited about the roses and the chocolates and the declarations of adoration under the moonlight.

Now, however, I see the day as an almost trivial reminder of the things that we should be celebrating every single day.  We should make an effort to celebrate love whenever we can, not only when the calendar rolls around to February 14.  I said ‘i do’ on my wedding day, but I make a point of reminding myself of that promise all year round.
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This year, I’m boycotting Valentine’s Day.

But there’s a catch — I’m going to celebrate love all the other 364 days of the year.  And, just so my husband doesn’t feel left out, I’m planning a surprise indoor picnic for him on February 13.

How does the surprise work?  I’m going to give him a clue about the details of the indoor-fondu picnic for 6 days leading up to the big surprise.
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If you want to make something similar, it’s cheap & simple & hopefully fun — all you do is write the clue number on the front of the envelope and then leave a note hinting at the surprise inside each of the cards.
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I decorated the outside of the cards with stickers that I received in my monthly mail package from Ginger Mail.  ImageImage
In case you’re wondering, Ginger Mail is like Birchbox for paper lovers: each month a themed package of cards, stickers and small crafts arrives in your mailbox to inspire your work (and make you smile).Image
What do you think of Valentine’s Day? Do you celebrate every February 14th?

outside the lines

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I’m a ‘doodle-in-the-margins’ kinda girl.  After a semester of classes, I consider keeping my philosophy and history notebooks just in case I become uber-famous and the notebooks end up being ‘where it all started.’  Okay, okay, so I guess I’m a bit of a daydreamer too.  No surprise there.

I worked in an art museum for a few years, but I never understood the popular ‘a child could make that’ reaction to modern art.  I’m a fan of Pollock, Calder, Rothko and Twombly, and, for my part – I certainly couldn’t make anything resembling their work.  Let’s be clear: I can doodle in the margins and not much else.

Jon and I visited the Minnesota Institute of Art last night, and my 3 favorite paintings were done by 5, 7 and 8 year olds.  At long last, I realized that some children truly can make museum quality paintings.  I, however, was never one of them:ImageImage
Earlier in the day I made a different kind of artwork that ended up looking, well, better than the doodles in my notebook.  Jon’s visiting his mom and grandma this weekend, and I wanted to make a Valentine’s gift for him to bring them.  What do you think?
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Okay, maybe dish towels aren’t the very.best.gift of all time, but I did my best 🙂  

cold hands, warm hearts

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Let no love go unspoken. I’m a romantic about my love life, true, but I’m also a romantic in general: I’m in love with the sincerity of friendships, the loyalty of family, the pride of communities, the history of cultures, the transcendence of stories, and the beauty of nature.  That’s right, I’m pretty wrapped up in love.

Can you guess which holiday is my favorite?  Hint: It comes in February and encourages us to be grateful for the people we love.
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Valentine’s Day gets a bad reputation from skeptics claiming the holiday is a consumer trap that alienates the lonely.  But that’s a pretty superficial description, isn’t it?

At it’s core, Valentine’s Day encourages us to reflect on the sources of love in our life, and then, in turn, speak out about that love.  Give sweet notes to your neighbors.  Bake cookies for your friends.  Let your children know they’re loved.  And, if you’re lucky, wrap your sweetheart in kisses.
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The Wall Street Journal published an article about the benefits of instilling gratitude in young children.  The study found that people with a “strong appreciation of other others reported having higher GPAs, less depression and envy and a more positive outlook than less grateful teens.” 

In my book, Valentine’s Day offers an ideal opportunity for reflecting on gratitude and sharing our appreciation for the people that brighten our world every day.  
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To get people thinking about ‘who they love’ (excuse the grammatical error, didn’t want to be stuffy about street art), I did a little Valentine’s Day inspired rah rah rah project.
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