A Moment

A moment to pause, to breathe in, then out.
A moment to consider gratitude.
A moment to take in surroundings, colors, sights, sounds.

Remember to breathe.
Remember to find gratitude, and aim to make it habit.
Remember to be aware of the beauty that surrounds.

Life is full of difficulties, but also full of blessings.

Each moment is a gift, if only we take it as such.

A Little Backstory

Here is a little bit of my story. It’s just a quick snapshot, but gives an idea of my perspective, and how I approach updates to our living spaces. Just because we rent our space, doesn’t mean it can’t have some character added.

Open Fields

I grew up in Michigan, in the rural part of a county where farms and dirt roads were just a way of life. There is something about seeing the horizon and the vaulted sky above that opens your eyes to the wonder of creation. Seeing storms move in, and watching the lightning flash across the sky makes you feel small, but not insignificant.

I now live in Massachusetts, which is where my husband grew up. I have moved back and forth from Michigan to Massachusetts a couple of times, but we have been here for a while now. Our girls are young adults, and settling in somewhere really hasn’t been something I’ve done.

We have lived in a lot of rented spaces, so changing those spaces has had limitations. Paint, flooring, kitchen design, are things I really enjoy thinking about, but aren’t options for the places we have lived. This however, allows me to get creative with the options I do have! I have to think about things a little differently, and sometimes take a more creative approach to how I organize or change a space.

That makes it fun. With a limited budget, limited space, and limited access to changing things, creativity becomes a priority! While I might not have things exactly how I would dream, it is a journey to make spaces reflect the things I would like. It is a compromise, but in a good sense! It isn’t focusing on what I can’t have, it’s focusing on what I do have, and what I can do with it!

I have some projects in other spaces that I have done, and while we have been in our current apartment about a year and a half, I’m really starting to work on things to make it ours while we are here.

The mess before starting

One thing I did, is applied removable wallpaper to part of the kitchen. I work full time, and as of March 2020, started working from home full time. The space we are in is very nice, and I do appreciate it, but wanted to make it a little more personal.

Progress

I was able to get it done over the weekend, and added a few strings of Edison-style patio lights around the top of the wall, to add some cozy and soft light for those dark mornings, and now evenings. Simple, quick, but adds character and is not permanent if we should move again.

So that’s a quick snapshot, but I’ll continue to share other projects as they come up.

Home is one of those spaces that changes as families change, but with this year where we have spent so much more time here, it’s an opportunity to think about simple changes or updates that make it reflect who we are.

Organizing Supplies

Sometimes, craft stores can be dangerous! Walking through those sliding doors begins to open the mind to so many thoughts and ideas, there are endless possibilities! How often have you walked in, told yourself you weren’t going to take a basket (so you wouldn’t fill it), and ended up with your arm half asleep from picking up and carrying all  the supplies you found on sale?

Ahem, me neither.

If you happen to have an abundance of supplies at home, how do you organize them? Where do you store them? 

Sometimes it helps to think outside the box! Look around your space, what do you have available that could be used in a different way than its original purpose?

  • Makeup organizers
  • Glass jars
  • Ice cube trays
  • Muffin tins
  • Flower pots

Between moving, and trying to focus my attention on things, I have downsized  quite a bit, getting rid of supplies that I wasn’t using, but still have some projects that I want to work on, and supplies for those projects that require a spot.

Here are some of the ways I store or organize my supplies.

Vintage Suitcases

I love things with character, and the suitcases I’ve collected fit the bill! Plus, they store most of my seasonal decorations, and various craft supplies. I add tags to help remind me what is in each one, and love to think about the stories they must store as well!

Flower pots and pitchers

For writing utensils, scissors and paintbrushes, flower pots, pitchers, and even coffee cans or old snack canisters are helpful to sort and keep them accessible! My colored pencils are in an old canister that I covered with scrapbook paper, adding a tag and ribbon for detail.

Clear Jars

For some of my baking supplies, I use clear glass jars, in various sizes. This helps keep things organized, but also allows me to see if I’m running low on flour, salt, or baking powder. These could also be used for sewing notions, embroidery floss…so many ideas!

Industrial shoe rack

This was a splurge for me, but when I saw it, I snagged it! I had wanted one for quite some time, and it is a wonderful place to organize some of my more often used supplies. The suitcase on the middle shelf holds some handmade papers and bookbinding supplies, and the other shelves have some boxes with smaller ephemera, some watercolor papers, and my aprons. The small suitcase on the bottom has some of my acrylic paints.

Smaller ways to organize

I recently purchased some watercolor half pans in an effort to organize my watercolors. The pans came with magnets, and I had been given the A.W. Faber tins a while back (thanks Mom!). These are a fun way to keep the colors accessible, and easier to close and place on the shelf. Before this, I had two or three different palettes that held a dab of each color, with the tubes as well. I can now store the tubes in a box, and have one palette.

What are some tips and tricks you use to organize your art and craft supplies? What about your baking or pantry? I have to work on my sewing box, it’s really a mess right now, but that may be another post for another time…

Afternoon Walks

Looking for details as I walk through the neighborhood, there are so many things to note, observe, and appreciate .

Sunshine and shadow.

So many shades of green.

Clouds in a myriad of shapes and sizes.

Sounds of children playing

And dogs barking

And hawks overhead.

Flowers in pinks, purples, oranges, and whites

Footfalls on pavement.

Progress.

As you move throughout your day, what are the details you see and hear?

Grandma’s Doughnuts

Food and memories go very well together. Mix in some slightly faded childhood images, and well, it’s hard to make it much more meaningful.

There is a recipe that my grandma made. This was not an everyday recipe, that I can recall, but a recipe that she put into use once a year. As the air turned cooler, and pumpkins were ready to pick and carve, plans were put in place for trick-or-treating. 

Now this isn’t a post about being for or against Halloween, it’s simply a memory set in a time and place. I grew up out in the country, with no real “neighborhood” to speak of. There were neighbors, without a doubt! They just lived a little farther down the dirt road, past the edge of the field.

I don’t really know who planned everything, but know that the kids that lived within a couple of square miles would gather at Grandpa and Grandma’s, and either load into a car caravan, or some years a hay wagon, and off we would go to trick-or-treat! We would run up to doors of people who were expecting us. Older folks, and parents of some of the kids along for the ride. All greeting us with smiles and bowls of candy.

Once we made the rounds, we would be taken back to the farm, and when we were smaller, go into Grandma’s house, where all the goodies would be on her dining room table. Popcorn balls, and doughnuts. I’m sure there were other things as well, but the doughnuts were the highlight!

I vaguely recall being in her kitchen a time or two, when the production was happening, and it was a production! I don’t know how many batches she would make, but she would make half of them with cocoa powder, half plain. 

Anyway, back to the recipe… I lived with Grandma for just over a year when I was out of college, and was able to collect a couple of her recipes. This was one of them. She had clipped it from a magazine, but I copied it down as if it was a treasure map. (Which I guess in some ways, it is!) It leads me back to those childhood memories, the sights, sounds, smells of autumn evenings, rustling leaves, children’s laughter and time spent with friends and family.

Where was I going with this?

The recipe… Here are the doughnuts, which for the longest time, I was afraid to even attempt, for fear it would ruin any memory I had. How could I possibly compete with childhood memories at Grandma’s house???

But, you will likely hear me say something similar when standing in front of a task or project that seems scary or daunting: think of it as an adventure! I knew I wanted to try it, and I would still have the memories regardless of how mine turned out.

I was actually fairly pleased! They couldn’t compare with Grandma’s, but they were still tasty! I need to make them again sometime, but will also need to find some folks who are willing to take some. It makes quite a few, and they are best eaten warm, or at least the same day they are made.

Any takers?

Take Time

To pause.

To give thanks.

To consider.

To appreciate even if you don’t agree.

To listen to a thunderstorm.

To just watch clouds go by.

To notice how many shades of green appear in the canopy of a tree.

To notice how those greens change when the sun shines through.

To smell the coffee, before you add water.

And then after you add water.

To actually taste your coffee.

Chocolate? Berries? Nuts? What does it taste like?

To sit and not feel like you should be doing something else.

To rember that being,

is not

a waste of time

Pause.

Take time.

Your Story

Have you ever noticed, when there is a story attached to something, it seems to pull the listener or observer in closer to hear the details.

It holds true for me because when I write, or paint, or think, I don’t just think of an object or place, I look deeper for meaning, a connection, a story. I realize that many of the things I have created came with a story, or a story came as I worked on them.

Each of us has our own story. We all have a beginning and are living out our middle. With what has been given, add new lines, paragraphs, chapters.

This is not The End,

it is To be continued. . .

Do you connect more with something that has a story?

Make Space to Create

One thing I find with creating, is that it takes space, physical, mental, and time-al? Here are some things to consider as you prepare:

  1. Clear a physical space.
  2. Clear a mental space
  3. Clear space in your schedule

Physical Space

It may seem obvious, but having a clear physical space is really important! I don’t have an extra room to set up a studio of any kind, so our dining room table is my space. While we don’t eat many meals at this table, it is in the middle of our living space, so I don’t want to leave it piled with paints, papers, etc. Though I confess this often happens, I am trying to be more organized, and am actively working on this step.

To bake or cook, you will need table or counter space to gather ingredients, assemble the dough or batter, and cool the final product. Again, this for me, is a constant work in progress. Especially if you live with others, this is something that others can help with!

Mental Space

Next, clearing some space in your mind allows you to focus on your project, even if you are experimenting with a new tool, recipe, or medium, setting aside the rest of your to-do list for this time will be important. You can set a timer if you have other pressing tasks to get to, to avoid getting lost in the creative process, but I would offer that an occasional open ended afternoon of playing with paint, paper, or dough can be very relaxing!

This is something that sometimes requires a choice to make space for. Often it feels like an “extra” that maybe doesn’t or shouldn’t take priority, but I’m learning that if you want it to become a habit, or are looking to increase your skill, it needs to be a priority!

Give yourself permission to create that mental space.

Schedule Space

This takes us nicely into a space in your schedule. Having some scheduled time to create can be a great help in building your skill. Just like exercise, putting in on the calendar like an appointment can be a simple way to keep yourself accountable. Sometimes it can feel like play, and shouldn’t take a spot that might be needed for laundry, yard work, or dishes, but if we neglect the creative muscles, you will eventually begin to notice.

As you begin to think about creating, be sure to make space. The first few times may be a little difficult, but the more you allow yourself the opportunity, the more your skills will develop.

How do you create space in your life for creativity?

Morning Coffee

Almost every morning, I make myself a cup of coffee. A mug, really. With a daughter who was a maestro for a local coffee shop, I learned some things about really tasting different types of coffee, and have put into practice, different methods for enjoying it fully.

I buy whole bean coffee, and while I am not a snob about using pre-ground coffee, there is a definite difference in the flavor that makes it into the cup (or mug).

My morning coffee goes like this:

I select the mug I will use. This is an important step! I have a few favorites, so I have some options. 

I get the white ceramic pour over coffee funnel that my other daughter got me for Christmas a few years ago, a coffee filter, and the coffee beans. The coffee beans are stored in the buffet, and each time I open the door where they are kept, the best scent greets my nose. 

I place the filter into the funnel, and with a gentle clink, I place the funnel on top of my coffee mug. I pour some coffee beans into my small manual grinder, listening to the plinking of roasted goodness, hitting the sides and nestling into place. 

I pour filtered water into my electric kettle, and push down the lever to begin the heating process. As the light on the kettle glows, I get to work grinding the beans. 

The grinder is a small metal cylinder, with ceramic burrs, that fits on top of another metal cylinder which captures the aromatic grounds as the handle on top is turned. It is a process that I have been following for some time now, but it is routine, and familiar. 

As the water begins to stir in the kettle, I continue to grind the beans until they gather at the imaginary mark on the small clear window of the bottom cylinder. I pour them into the waiting filter, and the water boils.

I pour a bit of water over the grounds, the steam carrying the aroma upward. As the water sinks in, I watch some flavorful flecks cling to the sides of the filter, and others move toward the bottom, taking the shape of the funnel. 

I continue to pour water, watching it soak through the grounds, making its way into my mug. I add some agave and half and half when the level is right, and stir to combine. 

I take my mug over to the kitchen table, which has been my work space for the last few months, to begin my day.

This is my morning coffee.

Keeping a Creative Perspective

I love the idea of creativity, and believe that everyone has some…creativity, that is. Sometimes it gets buried deep, due to fear, and I get that! It happens to me too! But I want this to be a safe space to come, find ideas, share some ideas, and grow your creativity. 

I will share projects, processes, and ponderings along the way, and would love to answer any questions you might have related to creativity. If you have an idea for a project, but are unsure where to start, I’d be happy to help!

Creativity needs to be nurtured. This includes exercising it, stretching and trying new things, as well as practicing some fundamentals. For those familiar with sports, some of these terms may sound familiar. There are some similarities. While there are people with raw talent, they still have to work to fine tune skills. For some this comes easily, and the skills develop quickly. For others, it takes more time, more energy, and more commitment. Neither of these ways are wrong, just different.

So if you find yourself saying you’re not creative, I invite you to visit, ask questions, and be willing to stretch and learn through the process. We may not be running any marathons here, but the exercises and outcomes can be very rewarding!