Coming up this weekend!

It’s a Valentine’s Pop-Up Market!

Creek Mercantile is located in Rancocas Woods.

Creek Mercantile is located in Rancocas Woods.

I am super excited to be attending this wonderful event, which will take place in the newly opened downstairs space at Creek Mercantile. Here is who else will be there: Relics Revisited, Mystical Blossoms, Creatively Obsessed, Henna by Ash, Evelyn Taylor Designs, Proud Mary Designs, Dorothy Claire, Le Petit Fox Knits, Works of Hope, Clove & Cedar, Canary Works, Willow Moon Candles, Sage Woodworks, Loriginals, Lisa Mark’s Designs, Studio 42 Jewelry, Karen Hoffman, and Hunny House Market. It’s going to be a terrific day—sunny outside, warm and friendly inside. YOU SHOULD COME!

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Hand-painted Valentines

I’ll be bringing some of these beauties along

I will also have chakra heart garlands made with positive energy and hand-painted papers, collage heart pieces in two sizes and lots of colors, tambourine art, greeting cards, and possibly a couple of larger mixed-media collage pieces. (It will depend on how much I can put in my space without it becoming too crazy!)

A hyggelig end to the month

Well, it seems that the polar vortex has decided to visit quite a number of places here in the lower 48 states, forcing many of us to remain indoors for several days. And what better to do than to celebrate that with a bit of hygge?

As a reminder, if you are staying in, you can remain in your hyggebuskars (cozy pants that you never wear out of the house) and enjoy some homemade soup (using my recipe or your own) or a hot toddy. And, of course, there are tips for how to establish hygge in your home. And yes, I quoted Admiral McRaven in that last link.

This week, I’m following the core idea of hygge, which I discussed in this post, which I entitled “A little more conversation, a little less action.” I’m spending some time with folks I love and being a lot less present online (at least when they are with me) and a lot more time focused on the moments. And, of course, I’m painting my heart out.

Quote from “Grasshoppers” by Mary Oliver.

Quote from “Grasshoppers” by Mary Oliver.

Here's a heart for you

I am still enjoying keeping things cozy on this cold winter month—lots of cuddling with my husband (and our cat), and reading, and artwork in my studio. I’ve started the process of learning how to paint with watercolors, and while playing with them to start to figure them out, I created a series of watercolor hearts on cold-pressed paper, which decided to grow up and become Valentine’s Day cards.

Here you see the first four I made, though there are now about a dozen, and I plan on making some others this week just because they are fun and pretty and help me learn how watercolors work. These will be going with me to the Valentines Pop-Up Market on Saturday, February 9th at Creek Mercantile in Rancocas Woods, Mount Laurel. Each original artwork is mounted on a kraft paper card, which comes with a matching envelope—perfect for the one(s) you love!

This week, I hope to start painting flowers, in order to take part in a flowers for February campaign on Instagram, so wish me luck . . . as I said, I’m super new at working with watercolors! Meanwhile, there is cold weather and maybe even a bit of snow in the forecast, so we shall continue our focus on keeping things hyggelig around here. What has been your favorite way of injecting a bit of higgle happiness into your life?

In memoriam Mary Oliver

The world lost an observer, a speaker of truth this week, when Mary Oliver left our realm. I am a published poet myself, and even in my wildest dreams cannot imagine achieving the popularity and success that she did. I don’t resent her for it, but am instead grateful that we had her for as long as we did, and that she left us so many books.

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I am spending a hyggelig day here, nestled on the couch reading some of her poems. The quote above is from her poem, “Have You Ever Tried to Enter the Long, Black Branches?”, which is from her collection entitled West Wind. If you haven’t read her work, or even if you have, I highly recommend the poem “Wild Geese”, which begins “You do not have to be good./ You do not have to walk on your knees/ for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting. / You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.” Here’s a link to allow you to read the rest.

Tell me , what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
— Mary Oliver, "The Summer Day"

Chakra heart garlands!

You guys. Yesterday, I woke up with this idea and made my first chakra heart garland. You can see the first half of it here—seven hearts punched from hand painted papers, strung on red and white baker’s twine. The full string has 14 hearts total (for 2/14). It’s just so pretty!

The full garland is twice this length, with 14 hearts.

The full garland is twice this length, with 14 hearts.

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I’m making a bunch to sell at this event

Thinking I’m going to pack these up and have them for sale at the Valentines pop-up at Creek Mercantile in Rancocas Woods on 2/9. In the meantime, hit me up if you’d like to order one or more for yourself. $8 each or two for $15, US shipping included. You can order them here.

A little more conversation, a little less action

Hopefully you get the reference from this blog post title - it’s a deliberate misquote of the lyrics from the Elvis Presley song, “A Little Less Conversation”, written by Mac Davis and Billy Strange. And my take on this is related to my exploration of the idea of hygge this month. One of the posts that got me thinking along these lines is this post, “What Hygge Really Looks Like”, written by Alex Beauchamp at the website, Hygge House. As she says in that article:

And that’s what real hygge is – a simple moment that feels so special, cosy, relaxing, loving or happy that you just need to call it out. It’s not about being fancy, or styled, or being in the best circumstances, or having the right things. It’s literally about being present enough to see how great a moment is, and give that moment a name – hygge.
One of my favorite people to have a conversation with — seen here at Mona Lisia, a favorite restaurant.

One of my favorite people to have a conversation with — seen here at Mona Lisia, a favorite restaurant.

Seen here in this photo of my sweet husband Morris: dinner, soft(ish) lighting, candle on the table, delicious food (mussels in red sauce—and if you get to Mona Lisia Restaurant in Williamstown, NJ, they are SO WORTH IT). And yes, I took this photo using my cell phone, but other than that, the phones were put away. And that is entirely intentional, so that we can focus on one another and on our conversation. It allows us to be in the moment with one another, and that, my friends, is what hygge is all about. If that sounds like some of the same sorts of advice you’ve heard on fostering relationships, or on intentional living, that’s no accident. And it’s no wonder that hygge help people to live happier lives.

Homemade soup as a form of hygge

If hygge is about comfort, coziness, and mindfulness, then homemade soup seems to me to be a hyggelig food. After all, it requires mindful chopping of ingredients, and its slow-cooked goodness provides lots of warmth and comfort, as well as whole-food nutrition.

My homemade minestrone

My homemade minestrone

I’m happy to share with you my own recipe for minestrone, which is really my take on vegetable soup. I patched it together a few years ago after referencing quite a number of recipes, and it is consistently good.

Minestrone/Vegetable Soup

  • 2 T. olive oil

  • 1 medium onion, chopped

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

  • 3 carrots, peeled and diced

  • 2 stalks celery, cleaned and sliced

  • 1 small to medium zucchini, quartered lengthwise and diced

  • 1 large russet potato, peeled and cut in 1/2” cubes

  • 1/2 small head of Savoy cabbage, cut into 1” strips

  • 1 can chick peas or cannellni beans, rinsed and drained

  • 1 can diced tomatoes

  • 2 T. tomato paste

  • 8 c. liquid (low-sodium chicken or veggie broth, and/or water)

  • 3/4 c. tubettini or elbow pasta

  • 6 springs fresh thyme

  • 2 T. chopped fresh parsley

  • 1/2 t. dried basil

Heat olive oil in Dutch oven or large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook until translucent. Add garlic; cook 30 seconds. Then add carrots and celery and cook about 5 minutes until they start to soften. Stir in tomato paste, then add zucchini, tomatoes, potato, herb, and liquid. Bring to a boil, then simmer 10 minutes. Add cabbage and pasta, and simmer 10 minutes more. Stir in chick peas or beans, then heat about 2-3 minutes longer. Top with grated Parmesan cheese (if desired) and serve.

It’s especially good when served with bread and butter.

3 steps toward achieving hygge in your home

HYGGE (pronounced somewhere between HOO-guh and HEW-guh) is the Danish word for a sort of mindful coziness. Now, I’m a word geek who absolutely loves things like etymology (the history of words and their meanings), and the background of the current Danish word is fascinating. The word hygge derives from an old Norse word that is about comforting, and is related to the Old German word that came over into English as “hug”. Kind of fun to know, especially when you are trying to get a handle on the concept.

If you are interested in incorporating hygge into your life this year (as a way of slower, cozier living, even if it’s just during the winter), then here are three concrete tips that will help you to get started:

First, tidy up a bit. Maybe you have been binge-watching Marie Kondo’s “Tidying Up” on Netflix, or have read her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, in which case this idea may already be on your radar. Or perhaps you read my earlier blog posts about decluttering, including this one from the end of October entitled “Creating Space for Abundance.” I’m not telling you to get rid of your favorite things (those stay!) or to clear your bookcases (heaven forbid — though weeding out those books that you don’t like or that make you feel bad about not loving them is a great idea). But having a bit less stuff allows abundance into your life, and also allows you to relax so that you can feel a sense of hygge.

One tip that works super well, and that has helped some friends of mine as well, is to find one space in each room to keep clear and tidy, to give your eye a place to rest. It helps even if it is a small piece of furniture, but it’s super soothing if it’s the largest thing in the room. For instance, a made bed in a bedroom (without stuff piled all over it) gives your eye a place to rest. And as Navy Seal Admiral McRaven says in this speech (which has gone viral and also become a small book), it will give you a sense of purpose and achievement. If you can keep the dining table clear, the dining room will seem okay. Same goes for the island in your kitchen, or at least a stretch of countertop.

Second, organize your stuff. If you have massive piles of books all over the place, consider obtaining a bookcase and corralling those books in one place. If you (like me) have Serious Paper Issues involving mail and articles that you intend to read but haven’t gotten to yet, figure out (a) where to keep them and (b) if there is an organizational device that would work for you. For some people, a set of mail bins is super helpful; others prefer a few folders; still others are fond of binder clips, or boxes, or a file system.

Quite seriously, I’m best with piling stuff in one place on my desk and scheduling time to go through it each week, then filing the stuff I need to keep and recycling everything else. And I would argue that forking out a lot of money on boxes, baskets, bins, and folders that just contribute to your stress and/or clutter level makes no sense (no matter how tempting those Container Store catalogs look, if you won’t actually use the things you buy, you will just end up with more stuff to manage).

A hyggelig moment in my living room.

A hyggelig moment in my living room.

Third, allow yourself to relax and enjoy your space. Introduce cozy elements such as lit candles, an afghan, or other comforts into your living space. Take time to enjoy and appreciate your space, and to enjoy and appreciate your day. Make your favorite tea or coffee or (if you’re an adult) open a favorite bottle of wine or beer. Spend a bit of time having an actual conversation, in person or by telephone. You can always use some of the suggestions from this post about celebrating the little things in life.

If you are starting to see a trend in these posts, I hope it is that these many suggestions about how to live a more positive life dovetail and overlap. Tidying up is good for creating comfort (hygge), but also it’s good feng shui, and it helps reduce stress (since you can find things when you want them and your things are no longer taunting you by being in disarray).


Hot toddies: such a cozy cold remedy

This month’s theme is hygge, which is all about feeling comfort and warmth (in the emotional sense, at least). I remain in the throes of rather nasty upper respiratory virus, which is apparently some sort of three-week cold that’s going around, and one of the things that helps to loosen the tightness in my chest and sooth my throat after coughing is a good, old-fashioned hot toddy.

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Ingredients:

  • honey

  • lemon

  • alcohol of your choice (if using): brandy, cognac, bourbon, whisky, or even rum

  • hot tea or boiling water

Here’s how to make this hyggelig drink:

Coat the bottom of your mug with honey. Add the juice of 1/4 of a lemon. Add 1-2 ounces of brandy, cognac, bourbon, whisky, or even rum (that’s 1-2 ounces of alcohol total—not of each!). Then fill the mug with hot black tea or hot water. Stir and sip.


This is a super soothing beverage on a chilly or damp day, and has actual medicinal properties if you are feeling under the weather. If you cannot have alcohol or are serving this to a child, just omit the spirits: the hot tea or water with lemon and honey is still soothing and tastes good.

Let me know if you try it!

This month is all about coziness

Or, to use the Danish term that better encompasses the precise idea of coziness that I’m referring to, this month is all about hygge. I’m defining hygge in brief as “a sense of cozy well-being; feeling present in this moment”.

My hyggelig work area at the dining room table. A favorite tablecloth, tea in a favorite mug, a candle, and a book.

It is a feeling, not an object. As a result, it’s something you create, not something you purchase. It can be as simple as mindfully enjoying a cup of tea or coffee in your favorite mug while focusing on the warmth it brings you. Or sitting down at your kitchen table with a lit candle and book.

It can be found in wearing a comfy sweater or pajamas or even a pair of “hyggebuksers”, defined in a December 2018 article in Country Living Magazine as “that pair of pants you'd never be caught dead wearing in public, but practically live in when you're at home on the weekends”. Again, it’s about the feeling of comfort, not so much the precise object you’re wearing. Note there’s no mention of it having to be “cute”, though many of the images you will find if you google hygge tend in that direction. (Think fireplaces, hot cocoa, a gathering of friends laughing and chatting.)

The Danes are consistently rated as among the happiest population on the planet, and hygge is part of the reason why. It is about comfort and connection with others, and there is much to commend it. So look for a few blog posts each week this month on the topic, and if you’re interested in getting the info delivered straight to your email, sign up for my email newsletter (no spam, just emails about living a positive life).

Scenes from my studio on New Year's Day

We are happy with our quiet start of 2019. I got a pretty awful upper respiratory virus last week, and spent all of Saturday in bed with a a miserable fever. I mean, I shouldn’t judge, I guess. But it made me feel miserable, so I assume its feelings won’t be hurt if I reference it that way.

Today is for doing just a bit of each of the things I’d like to enjoy and focus on this year. (You can read about that a bit in this prior post.) I’ve done my meditation this morning, and am going to sit down with Morris, my sweet husband, and engage in some “year in review” stuff once he gets home from his tai chi class. There will be time for cooking and laundry and a walk in the sun.

And I’ve already spent some time in my wonderful studio, which is something that didn’t even exist at this time last year. Here are some photos from this morning.

And yes, I noticed that these pictures strategically cropped out a bunch of mess. I was hoping you didn’t notice.

Celebrating fallow periods

As I mentioned briefly in my most recent newsletter, the gap between the holidays can feel like a weird no-man’s land of time. I even shared a funny cartoon on Facebook about how from the 1st through 26th of December, people are really into the holidays, and then from the 27th to 31st, then are full of cheese and unsure what day of the week it is. Funny, but it can also be disorienting.

I find it helpful to look at these sorts of times and spaces as fallow periods. Just as many farmers rest their land from time to time by plowing their fields under and leaving them unplanted (fallow), many people run into fallow periods in life. It’s super common among writers, who are between projects, or stymied and doing no writing. It applies to other creatives as well (actors, singers, artists, etc.).

Fallow periods are terrific times to engage in nurturing acts and self-care. These include things like rest, meditation, going to the movies, reading books, visiting a museum, getting out in nature, and so forth. It’s a great time to do things that fill your inner well or feed your spirit. All those things give you something to draw from and help to sustain you when it’s time to be creative again.

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So if you are off work or school this week, or somewhat at loose ends due to travel or houseguests, and you cannot stick with your “regular routine”, my suggestion is to treat this time period as a fallow period. Take a few deep breaths and a few minutes to figure out what acts of self-care will make you feel better. If you need some suggestions past what I listed above, you can check my post from earlier this month on six ways to celebrate the little things, since many of the small celebrations double as self-care or well-filling activities.

Celebrating the New Year

In just about a week, it will be New Year’s Eve. How will you celebrate?

This is not representative of what our neighbors will shoot off, but still . . .

This is not representative of what our neighbors will shoot off, but still . . .

There are several ways of celebrating that get lots of press and publicity: pay to attend a fancy party (or a not-so-fancy one), with food and a DJ and too many drinks and free hats; go out somewhere to stand in the streets with strangers and wait for balls to drop or fireworks to explode (some of our neighbors set them off nearby, so we don’t really have to go outside—though there have been a couple times we had to wake up for them); go to or host a party in your home and watch a TV countdown with friends. Maybe it involves banging pots and pans outside at midnight, or sparklers, or waking the neighbors with your fireworks.

Then there are the quieter celebrations: out to dinner with your spouse and maybe some friends, then home before it gets too late, or a nice, quiet evening at home. Possibly with some champagne or prosecco (the leftovers are great for mimosas on New Years Day).

But what about New Year’s Day?

Well, I have a bit of a superstition. This is not a long-held superstition, nor is it one passed down by generations of family members (unlike the "shoes on a table is bad luck" thing, which is TOTALLY the result of generations of my mother's family). It's one that I developed myself over the past ten years or so, and it is a simple concept:

I believe that what you do on January 1st sets the tone for the year. Therefore, if I want to be a person who writes and paints a lot, I need to make time to do some writing and painting on January 1st. If I want to cook more, I need to cook something. ("Something" on New Year's day used to mean a pork roast and sauerkraut, based on long-held and family-bred superstitions, again from my mother's family, but may switch to ribs, since my sweetheart doesn’t eat pork — unless it’s bacon or ribs.) If I want to read more, I need to read. If I want to be a decent housekeeper, my house has to be clean by then, and I need to do a wee bit of tidying on that day as well. If I want to maintain the morning routine/ritual I’m working to establish for myself, I for sure have to practice it on New Year’s Day. That means yoga, meditation, journaling, and the aforementioned reading. If I want to spend time with my husband, I need to do that, too.

It's all very simple in theory, and not necessarily difficult in practice, but it does take being really conscious of choices on January 1st. Basically, it can make for a busy day. And, I suppose, it means being really conscious of choices on the 2nd, and 3rd, and 4th as well, though these aren’t resolutions as much as intentions. Nevertheless, come next Tuesday, my house will be clean and relatively tidy, and I will be starting my day with my morning routine and moving on from there.

Of course, come February, there will be Chinese New Year to celebrate (Year of the Pig!), and then there’s the start of the US school year in September, and the start of the new year in Judaism (Rosh Hashanah means “head of the year”, if you didn’t know that), which comes at the end of September next year. And I’m pretty sure there are some other new years in there as well, depending on your belief system.

So tell me: What will you do to celebrate the new year?

As always, if you are interested in subscribing to my weekly newsletter, which is designed to share tips on things you can do to live a more positive life, you can do that here.

Celebrating the Solstice

It’s been a busy week here. Of course, that’s largely because we had contractors in the house on Tuesday, finishing up some work in our hall bath, and I needed to spend time at the Post Office, mailing things to relatives and friends at a distance. And I’ve been busy working on a commission as well as taking a new art class and working on some new ideas.

This is from an 1851 book called “A primary astronomy”: isn’t it marvelous?

This is from an 1851 book called “A primary astronomy”: isn’t it marvelous?

And, of course, the 21st was Solstice. The shortest day of the year for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, the longest for those south of the equator. It’s lovely to me to think of welcoming the long dark of night on Solstice, and to know that we are slowly turning our way back into the Sun even as the temperatures become colder. It’s also good to light the candles or lights as a way of keeping the dark at a distance. Though with the beautiful now-full moon in the sky, there is quite a lot of light right now, even at night.

How about you? Do you celebrating the turning of the year? Maybe with some hot tea, hot chocolate, or something else you consider warming, like whiskey or wine? Do you head to the kitchen to make slow food like stew or soup or chili, or to bake things you might not bother with in sunnier months? Light a fire in the fireplace or wood stove? Do you cozy up with a cat and a lap blanket? Curl up with a good book? Pick up your knitting, quilting or other handiwork? All of these are excellent ways to honor and celebrate the season without venturing out into the cold or the wet.

Here in New Jersey, I’ve been celebrating the turning of the season with most of the things listed above, with the exception of fires (no fireplace) and quilting. And my knitting has been a bit limited by painful joints in both thumbs, compliments of my rheumatoid arthritis. But it’s meant pleasant days and nights for me lately. And it hasn’t escaped my notice that a lot of what I’m describing is related to the Danish notion of hygge, which I referenced in passing in a post I wrote last December. Expect to hear a bit more about it as we move into January.

Celebrating with a Donation

This month, I’m focusing on celebrating. I know I’ve talked about how to celebrate the small things. And I think I’ve discussed the WHY of celebrating, at least a bit, but I want to talk about that a bit more.

Why celebrate?

Well, for one thing, it is a means of being mindful. If you remember to celebrate something—whether it’s something big like a wedding anniversary, or something small like finding your favorite brand of mustard is finally back in stock (yes, actual example from my life)—you are at that moment in the moment. And if all we have is now, and now is a celebration, well, that is a good thing.

For another, it’s a means of promoting gratitude. And as I posted back in November, gratitude helps to create abundance. And abundance may just give you more to celebrate, creating a wonderful circle of positive energy swirling about in your life, and isn’t a circle of positivity something to celebrate and be grateful for? Because just as we talk about people’s lives “spiraling out of control” or “on a downward spiral”, when they are living in chaos or negativity (which is negative energy), we can put ourselves into a happier spiral of positive energy. And it doesn’t mean you have to ignore or avoid any of the “bad” things in life; it just requires you to see and acknowledge and, yes, celebrate the good.

A Celebration Donation

This morning, I celebrated selling some art and wrote out a check to them for the Jersey Shore paintings that sold during The Most Wonderful Time event that I hosted back on December 2nd, bringing my total donations to the organization (so far) from art sales to $60. I still have two pieces left, including my favorite of the entire series, Jersey Shore #7 (I love the little penciled sandpiper footprints).

The two pieces you see above are all that remains of seven pieces I did in my Jersey Shore series. I created the series last fall after spending a lovely weekend at the shore with my husband, and in order to celebrate the creation of those pieces, I promised to donate 25% of the price to Clean Ocean Action, an organization dedicated to cleaning up the beaches in New Jersey and to protecting the shoreline by opposing offshore blasting and drilling, as well as working to reduce the amount of plastic put into the waterways in the first place.

I have to tell you that I had a happy little celebration here this morning. I smiled as I wrote out the check to Clean Ocean Action, grateful for the sales, grateful that there is money in my business’s checking account that allows me to write the check, and grateful that I am able to help such a worthy cause, even if it is a rather small donation. I smiled as I wrote a note in a pretty notecard, and sealed and addressed the envelope, and said a little “thank you” to the Universe for it all.

So yes, a donation to something you support is a form of celebration. I’m sure you make donations, whether it’s to a religious organization, a charitable organization, or a political one. And I’d encourage you to think of those as a form of celebration. And to feel the joy and gratitude of being privileged to write that check, hand over some cash, or send a donation online.

Ready to start something new

This was me in my studio the other day:

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After cleaning my studio for the event I had here back on December 2nd, I was slow getting back to work in there. But! I did make one new piece of art. Kind of. If by “new” you count “took an existing background and stamped a motto onto it as inspiration for 2019”. And since I count it, then I will go with the idea that I made a new piece of art. Here it is:

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My 2019 motto

I’m getting ready for the new year.

I posted this piece on Instagram last week and promptly sold two prints of it, plus received a request for permission to use my motto (seriously? GO FOR IT, if it speaks to you) and a request for a commissioned piece with the same motto and different colors. So now I know what my next thing is going to be. And today, the substrate for the piece arrived from Blick Art Supplies—it’s a 9”x12” basswood (aka linden) cradle board.


Is there anything as tantalizing as new art supplies?

Is there anything as tantalizing as new art supplies?

Not only am I excited about the new cradle board, but I’m excited by some new papers I’ve collected and am ready to use as collage layers in the new piece. And I bought two 5”x7” cradle boards, thinking I might make some smaller motto pieces, so if you have one you want to commission, hit me up—otherwise, I’ll just roll with my own notions.

Six ways to celebrate the little things

Ideas for big occasions, like birthdays, anniversaries, retirements, b’nai mitzvot, graduations, and baby showers (major life events) are super well-known and well-documents. Throw a party (expected or surprise). Give gifts to the celebrants, make a toast, send a greeting card (thoughtful is best). Go out to dinner with family or friends. Make a video honoring the person or people who are being honored. Set up a powerpoint with photos. Hire a DJ or a clown. Have a barbecue or pool party.

But I’m a bit more interested in how to celebrate smaller events. And even what counts as “smaller” is a matter of interpretation. A promotion at work, or getting a new job. Making your first sale in your new business. Usually these things are marked with cheers, going out to dinner, and/or having a celebratory drink.

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What about those still smaller events? Meeting a deadline (even a self-imposed one); finishing a project — even if it’s an intermediate goal (like finishing writing a chapter in a manuscript); sending an email or letter that was difficult for you; actually going to the gym; doing that piece of adulting that you find difficult, whatever it might be.

Now that’s what I’m talking about.

It’s far more common for us all to just turn to the next thing on our list and push ahead without marking them at all. And at the end of the day, we feel tired and depleted. But there’s another way: a way where you take a few minutes to honor your accomplishment and celebrate it.

Here are six ways you can celebrate the small things:

  1. Get yourself a cup of tea, a nice cup of coffee, a cup of cocoa, or a good piece of chocolate, and take a few minutes to savor whatever your treat might be.

  2. Reward yourself with some self-care: take salt bath; take a short walk (preferably outside).

  3. Schedule some self-care that involves others, like a massage, a haircut, etc.

  4. Go see a movie or watch something you’ve been saving on Netflix.

  5. Journal about it, so you have something in your gratitude journal for the day.

  6. Buy yourself some flowers or some ice cream or a small cake on the way home.


This month, I want to talk about celebration

I realized this evening that I said a lot of things about celebration in the newsletter that I sent out yesterday. That’s because it’s the new theme for the emails I’ll be sending out this month. And then it occurred to me that a bunch of my blog readers might not be subscribed to my newsletter. (Which you can fix right here, if you want a weekly dose of positive living.) It’s something I wanted to share with you in the meantime.

Here’s a bit of what I said:

It's December. Hanukkah started on Sunday evening, Solstice, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Boxing Day and New Year's Eve are coming up. These can be the best or worst of times for many people. And I want to talk about celebration.

This has been a year, y'all. You know I mean it since I don't even say "y'all" all that often. I know I've mentioned my father having cancer, and we are moving out of 2018 hoping he's left that behind for good. That is something truly worth celebrating. But there have been other things, some of which aren't mine to tell, that linger on, and losses, like that of my husband's wonderful cousin. If you knew Selwyn, I'm pretty sure you liked and admired him, and if you didn't, then believe me when I say that you would have. It is easy to celebrate his life, even as losing him is no fun.

I want to talk about celebration as a thing we do, or maybe should do, daily, rather than on a grand scale. Ringing the bell to end chemo or radiation. Cheering for a kid whose team just won, or who competed in a debate, a recital or a concert. Raising a glass to celebrate a birthday or anniversary. Marking and honoring whatever small victory you may have experienced on any given day.

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This Friday, my sweetheart and I will be celebrating our second wedding anniversary (yes, we have an anniversary date “that will live in infamy”, since we got married on Pearl Harbor Day). And that’s one of the sorts of bigger events that folks tend to celebrate, but I’ve also been celebrating smaller things, like the success of our holiday shopping event this past weekend. Or the wee victory dance I did when I (or, uh, Morris, yeah, that’s what I meant) ordered a new pinafore apron for me as an anniversary gift.

So plan on some posts and thoughts about celebrations: what they are and can be, why we should have as many as we can, and even some ideas on how to celebrate things. Because celebration fits together really well with gratitude, and both of them lead to abundance, so if you think these things are all wrapped together, you’re right!

You guys! I just have to share the love!

I don’t want to bury the lede here, so I will come out and tell you straight away that I am giving you all a holiday present this week, and it’s kind of a big deal. (Some people might even call this “a sale”.) So if that’s what you are looking for, feel free to scroll on down to that straight away to get the details.

But first, I’ma tell you why I’m giving you all a present, and it’s because I am so so grateful for all the love and support everyone has been giving my business. Yesterday was the open studio event I created, and you guys, it was totally appropriate that it was called “A Most Wonderful Time”. It was such a treat for me to have Erin from Clove & Cedar, Lisa from Natures Energy, and Rita from Jularee here yesterday, because they are super wonderful people. And also because supporting other small businesses, other makers, other women, other local businesses . . . that is super important to me. And while these wonderful women don’t fit in ANY box, they manage to tick off all those important boxes at the same time.

Rita from Jularee, Erin from Clove & Cedar, me, and Lisa from Natures Energy

Rita from Jularee, Erin from Clove & Cedar, me, and Lisa from Natures Energy

These women are seriously great. And we had so much fun, too!

My dining and living rooms were transformed to small shops, my studio was full of light and art, we have a kitchen full of snacks, the mulled cider was a huge hit (with or without spiced rum added in), and on top of that, we were joined by quite a number of lovely souls who came out on a grey drizzly day to support small, local woman-owned businesses. A massive thanks to EVERYONE who helped to make yesterday such a success, with a special thanks to my sweetheart, Morris, who kept an eye on the coffee pots and was super helpful all day. (He took that photo of the four of us, above.)

I know there were a lot of local folks who wanted to come, but had other things on their schedules for yesterday, just as I heard from lots of folks who don’t live anywhere near here, who wished they could make it.

So I have a gift for you all. I’m giving you 50% off all my collages and almost all of my paintings.

Starting today, and running until Thursday, December 5th, at midnight, all of my collages on my website are 50% off. In addition, nearly all my paintings are 50% off, so if you’ve been wanting one of them, now’s your chance to scoop them up at a serious discount! The only pieces on the Paintings page that are NOT on sale of the two remaining Jersey Shore pieces, which have always been value-priced at $48. Twenty-five percent of the price of each of the Jersey Shore pieces is donated to Clean Ocean Action, an organization dedicated to cleaning up the beaches in New Jersey—it’s my way of giving back to the shore, which inspired this series of seven original pieces.

I am just so thankful for all your love and support with my business, and this was the biggest present I could think of this year. No discount codes, coupons, or secret passwords needed . . . you get half off all my original collages and (most) paintings.

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Oh, one more thing!

A bonus gift for the first 10 customers.

The first 10 people to purchase online (whether it’s one greeting card or something more) will get one of my Christmas-themed greeting cards for free! “I saw three ships come sailing in” was inspired by a line from a Christmas carol. The original collage (available on the Collage page) features three ships, each bearing its own seasonal decoration: a wee Christmas tree, colorful shields, and a holly leaf flag.

Again, I just had to say a heartfelt THANK YOU to all of you: those who read this blog, those who came to shop yesterday, those who wanted to be here but couldn’t, those who have been cheering my small business on as it starts to get off the ground and tries to take flight. I appreciate you all so very much, and I’m so grateful!

The Most Wonderful Time: a holiday shopping party

What: A holiday shopping event that combines an open studio for my artwork with stations set up by three other vendors: Clove & Cedar, Jularee Handcrafted Jewelry, and Natures Energy. Items for sale include original artwork and greeting cards, jewelry, macramé, and pottery. And I know for a fact all four of us work to imbue our items with positive energy. (And we all accept credit cards as well as cash, by the way.)

When: Sunday, December 2nd, from 12 noon to 4 p.m.

Where: In my studio in Williamstown, NJ. Street address will be provided when you RSVP

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WHY

Because that’s the important part

Why: It’s super important to me as a female business owner to support other female-owned businesses. It’s important to me as a female maker to support other female makers. It’s important to me to shop local, to shop small, and to shop handmade. And it’s important to me to draw other female makers who are entrepreneurs together.

So when I had the idea to throw my studio open for local folks to stop by and see my artwork (and hopefully buy some stuff - let’s keep it all the way real here!), I started to calculate how many other vendors I could possibly fit inside our house without people tripping over one another, and I figured I could fit a maximum of three additional vendors inside. And with it being a December event, I didn’t want to set up my tent out back. (Though heads up: when it’s nice out, I’m totally planning on doing just that so I can have more woman-owned businesses here!)

I’m being joined by

  • my friend Rita, owner of Jularee, who makes hand-crafted chakra and gemstone jewelry (including birthstone pieces), using sterling silver, copper, and even gold-filled wire.

  • my new friend Lisa, owner of Natures Energy, who makes hand-thrown pottery pieces as well as jewelry pieces enhanced with handmade copper chain and other sustainably sourced items.

  • my new friend Erin, owned of Clove & Cedar, who makes macramé pieces that include feathers and sweet rainbows, plant hangers, and wall hangings (often incorporating natural wood elements).

We are planning on filling this space with positive energy and happy shoppers. And toward that end, we are also going to have SNACKS, because snacks are good for energy, am I right? There will be coffee, tea, and mulled cider along with the tasty nibbles. I really hope you will come. Because it’s going to be The Most Wonderful Time!