Spring Plans

Easter fast approaches, with Spring break, the end of snow (here's hoping) and new growth. My husband is so excited--we depart soon for the Easter Jeep Safari in Moab, Utah. Those who know me well also know that the Jeep is my husband's thing (the more gear the better) but I tag along happily for the nature immersion that off roading provides. Our usual destination is Colorado in the summer so this will be new and so interesting--the landscape will be totally foreign to someone raised near the Great Lakes and northern forests. Expect photos and a bit of a travelogue.

Slowly Warming

Even with snowshoeing, getting out walking again and the occasional trip to the woods to scrounge wood for fairy houses, I confess that I (maybe like you?) have pretty much had it with winter. My husband LOVES winter and has a big grin on his face whenever we get storms like today's. And Zorro, well he loves everything and everyday. Snow, no snow, he is always so happy. So what to do? Hang in there, start working on April craft samples, continue to dress cozy--and wait. Even the snow today is melting fast on the sidewalk in front of the store. Winter is no match for the warming as the Earth turns us towards the sun.

Winter Walks

After several weeks of winter mood doldrums, I have finally  gotten back to taking lake walks in the mornings. Once I got out there, I couldn't figure out why I had stopped--it was so incredibly beautiful! Laziness probably. Seasonal depression certainly. Movement and being in nature are antidotes but getting out there can be a real challenge. It helps that my husband loves winter--I just need to follow in his wake as he heads out the door. Zorro too is a positive influence--if we humans got half as excited as dogs do at the prospect of a walk, we would all be healthier for it!

And the days are getting longer, the quality of light changing as we inch towards spring. Come see our window with new woodland cutouts, our baskets of wooden eggs and little birds' nests. Even the cold days don't feel quite so cold when we hold the hope of spring in our hearts.

Fabulous February Crafts

I have always loved Valentine's Day--it seems to come at just that point in the winter where the snow is drab grey, the temps (and my mood) are bottoming out and it seems like spring will never come. Rosy hearts and love poems are the perfect antidote and a great excuse for crafting.

When I was growing up in the 60s, I loved those big books of punch out Valentines, with their corny sayings and vintage illustrations. When my daughter was young, her Waldorf school requested homemade Valentines only, and one for every classmate. Yay! Off to Butler's Drug for paper and stickers and doilies and glitter, then our card making "sweatshop" got underway. Over the years, we added paper punches, stamps and ink pads, edging scissors and more to our Valentine supply box.

For several years, I was employed by a large retailer, working in marketing at their head office. Valentine's Day coincided with an annual business trip to New York for the Toy Fair and this rather put a crimp in my seasonal crafting with my girl. I remember making heart shaped cookies the day before leaving, prepping frosting and sprinkles and leaving detailed written instructions for my good sport husband so he could help our daughter decorate heart cookies for her friends at daycare.

Now as an almost empty nester, my Valentine crafting energy is satisfied creating with the children that visit my shop. Their pride in their handmade projects is inspiring to me and a reminder to view the world with some of their childhood wonder.

Dog Day Afternoon--and Morning!

Okay, I admit it, I am a wimp in this cold weather. Out of practice, I guess! I have been driving to work every day rather than walking (I had been sharing my car with my daughter but now her vehicle is repaired, thankfully), bundled up in my heaviest coat, hair flattened by my hat--you know the drill. Just trying to survive until the temp upticks at least a little. While I am grateful for my car and gear, I am missing the feeling of connection with the natural world that walking brings me.

It was so gratifying that many families came to our MLK stories and crafts this past Monday despite the frigid cold. The kids especially LOVED the God's Eye project and made stacks and stacks of them. We are planning a similar program for Presidents' Day in February--details to follow soon. I plan to add a "preschool friendly" craft to our menu that day.

 We have two events this week/weekend that I am really looking forward to: I hope you will brave the cold again this Friday night for our "adults only" storytelling night. Details are below--I can't wait to gather tips from storyteller Sara! And our Felt Dog Day is Saturday--sure to be a blast. Have you heard that I am a dog lover? :)

Cozy Crafting

I've never been one to fill and hang bird feeders--too busy maybe, not sure I would keep it up so didn't ever start, that kind of thing. Last week, I made several pinecone birdfeeders in our preschool class and decided to hang them on the planters in the front of the store; I also put out a dish of leftover seed. Such activity has ensued! The birds have been coming to the feeders excitedly, even in the midst of our urban location. I found myself standing by the window several times today, enjoying their antics--another nice opportunity to enjoy nature in the present. I think I will make more feeders tomorrow--I certainly have enough pinecones! 

Last Thursday, a mom brought in her 10 year old son. I have known him since the early days of Wonderment--anyway, he had had a bad bout of the flu and needed to pull together a model of an Ethiopian village for school the next day. Mom thought coming to the store would be the most efficient way to help him, with our bins and cabinets full of supplies. What fun we had together, helping the boy pull together his model--and I learned a lot about life in Ethiopia to boot! Keep us in mind as a school project resource center. 

Another inspiring crafting session was the family who came in and made a BWCA felt play mat together--nice team work! 


Surfing a New Year

Happy New Year! It's always quite an adjustment for the retailer when the holiday rush ends. There is still lots to do (year end accounting, markdowns, inventory and trade shows) but the quiet and slower pace of the business takes some getting used to. It's just not as exciting to do book work as it is to greet crowds of excited holiday crafters!

As I page through my 2013 calendar--yup, I am an old fashioned girl, a paper calendar for me still--I wonder what the months ahead will bring. As an optimist, it was always my tendency to look ahead with positive hopes. Then in 2009, I had pretty much the worst year of my life. Family troubles with my mother came first, then not one but two cancer diagnoses (breast and ovarian), with surgeries and chemotherapy. I finished that year bald and weak but alive. It was very hard but I learned that you can get used to anything if you have to! 

Now more than three years later, I am strong and healthy but I don't take that for granted. Indeed, when my old business Wonderment had to close, my cancer experiences and the knowledge that none of us know how long we've got spurred me on to start Heartfelt all in a rush. And I am so glad I did--the store has afforded me such a lovely sense of community with you and so many perfect special moments of connection.

So bring it on, 2013. We can plan all we like but in truth, riding the waves of what life brings our way is what living is all about. 

Crafting Ideas

People often ask me where we get our ideas for classes. Some are adaptations of traditional crafts historically and currently done in Waldorf schools, in the Twin Cities and elsewhere (my daughter attended a Waldorf school for grades 1 through 8). Gnomes, fairies, swords, dolls--these are projects that embody Waldorf themes and have been shared and passed along for decades.

Some projects were classes taught at Wonderment, back by popular demand. I also have an awesome library of inspiring craft books for help. Sometimes I will see a photo of an amazing handmade item online and I will figure out how to make a version of it. And some are truly original projects. The seasons guide the classes too--as a way of celebrating special times of the year and also to bring us more in touch with the natural world around us. Regardless of our age, we heal through play--and crafting is just that--play!

Dreamy Days Ahead!

I can't believe how fast time seems to be flying by. It's hard to believe the store has been open for a year now, that our puppy Zorro has passed the four month mark and that it will be summer before we know it (weatherwise it is already here). I have fond memories of summer as a child. We were so lucky - we got to take not one but two trips each summer.

The first was to Camlachie, Ontario to my grandparent's cottage on the sandy shores of Lake Huron. I can still feel the thrill of first seeing the big blue lake on the distant horizon. Countless baseball games, hands of cards, swimming, playing house, walking on unpaved country roads, visiting neighboring farms - it was idyllic for us kids.

In August, we would head east to the Thousand Islands on the St. Lawrence River. This too was a place of amazing beauty. Our family of seven would camp for several weeks on one of the islands; in later years, rented a cottage. The breathtaking scenery was soul food.

I remember times of summer boredom, of course. A new craft, a drawing session or pretend play idea were the cure. A stay-at-home mom told me recently that she was rather dreading the last day of school, not knowing exactly how to keep her kids busy. We have come up with a schedule of summer classes and free activities that I hope will help with that!


P.S. I feel so blessed: once again, I will take two trips this summer. Our July/August classes coincide with the weeks I am in town. And a heartfelt thank you for your support this first year. I am hoping for many more!

Creative Endeavors Make Us Happy!

I read recently about creativity: when we are creating, we are truly in the present, and living in the present is the key to personal happiness. I am a planner by nature, trying to think ahead and anticipate eventualities. While this is a very useful quality for an entrepreneur, it is kind of the opposite of being in the present. Maybe that's why handwork calls to me - something happens when I am crafting: my busy brain turns off and I revel in the pleasure of working with my hands, the color and softness of the wool, the heady scent  of pinecones or beeswax.

And have you noticed that children create differently than adults? Women especially often approach trying a new craft with trepidation, talking about how they aren't very creative or artistic or how what they make "isn't perfect", detailing all the perceived defects in their work. Most children will start their work quickly, forge fearlessly ahead, ask for help when they need it and are proud and very happy with the finished result. We were all children once - former girls and boys - what happened to those confident crafters when we entered adulthood? It can't all be Martha Stewart's fault!

My hope for all of us grown ups is that we take some of the affirming energy we shower on our children and give it to ourselves too, especially when doing something new. Let's say to ourselves "I've never done this before - I am excited to try it!" In this way, we can truly experience the present without the baggage of worrying how it will turn out (the future). Let's be brave, like our kids!


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