Do you remember last week? I know. What seemed still okay last week seems unthinkable this week. The Coronavirus certainly has impacted our lives quickly! As of today, our Oregon schools are closed until April 1st and honestly, it seems there’s a good chance that period might be extended.
While we’re all adjusting to this new normal and learning what we can do to slow down this virus from spreading, I know many of you are starting to work from home. That’s not always easy to do, especially if we have little ones home from school! Our kids are teenagers now but I remember the wiggly days so well! I’ve been thinking of what I can do to help support families with kids through this uncertain time.
After thinking for a bit, I had an idea! I created the "anti-boredom calendar" for kids a few years ago but decided to give it a thorough make-over in light of social distancing! I believe all the kids activities suggested in this printable follow the current health recommendations but please tell me if I need to correct something.
I’m hoping this small contribution may help your family create some happy memories during this uncertain time. I hope these activities may inspire your family to find some joy playing together and being creative. If you click on the image below, you’ll be able to download this printable for free.
I’d love to hear from you in the comments on how the coronavirus has impacted your family and daily life. How are you and your loved ones doing? What activities has your family been enjoying?
Thank you for reading my blog and following my art journey!
Time is a funny thing. It can move so slowly when you’re waiting in line or stuck in traffic. On the other hand, it can go crazy fast when you’re doing an activity you enjoy. It can also very easily “slip away” as we keep ourselves busy with stuff we don’t even really have an interest in.
Or am I the only one who gets easily distracted “researching” something on the internet that doesn’t matter in the long run?
I’m personally not much of a tv watcher but I know if the tv were in our living room (it’s not for good reason!) and turned on, it’s very easy to get sucked into a program. At the end of the night I'd wonder why I sat there so long watching it….
Last month, we talked about making small shifts for more joy. To continue looking for ways to add more joy in our lives, let’s do this super quick and easy exercise:
- Can I do the planning to make it more likely to happen?
- What’s holding me back from doing the activity I enjoy?
For example, you want to do more painting but really need some more paint. Maybe you use an hour of time to run to the art supply store and pick up some supplies that make it possible for you to actually start painting soon.
Or, you’d love to bike to work or to run your errands instead of always using the car. Can you get your bike tires pumped up, check the weather forecast and get the appropriate gear out now so taking that bike ride will actually happen?
You can do a lot in 60 minutes!
Now if you really enjoy scrolling through your social media feed or watching a good movie with the family, please take that time to decompress and relax! But next time you’re not fully enjoying it and you're just killing time, try taking out your list.
Even if you don’t have an hour, what can you do in the 10 minutes while you’re waiting at the dentist’s office? Can you reach out to that friend you haven’t seen in a long time and plan to grab a coffee next week? Of course, you don’t have to feel you need to jam-pack your schedule all the time and be productive at all cost. Sometimes, there’s a lot of joy in just sitting and looking at a bird in the tree just outside your window.
But I guess that’s the point. IF that gives you joy, be mindful of that wonderful moment, notice it and find more of those moments in between all the obligations and busy tasks on your schedule.
I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments. What are some activities that you enjoy? What is holding you back from doing this activity? Thank you for reading my blog!
How did you feel about starting a new year? A new decade? I love new beginnings as it’s a great time to reflect on where we're at and if there are any small shifts we want to make to find more joy in our lives.
Last year had a lot of happy memories but I lost my dad towards the end of the year which was incredibly difficult. I also had a fair share of health issues which made it painful to move and function in a regular way. As a result, I couldn’t spend as much time creating new artwork and had to close my etsy shop for a long period of time while I cared for myself and my family. Coping with these challenging circumstances, I did realize how thankful I am that my work is so flexible.
Almost a month into the new year, let’s take a moment to see how we’re doing on our intentions for this year.
Starting the year, I was very much looking forward to creating more art as creative time definitely adds joy to my life. I’m happy to say I’m still brimming with ideas! I’ve also been enjoying reading an art book I received for Christmas from my mom. I’ve loved drawing all my life so I stocked up on a pile of sketchbooks and have spent the first few weeks of January drawing, doodling, sketching and painting. It’s been so fun!
To top it off, my friend gave me a sketchbook to participate in “The Sketchbook Project.” After I fill this sketchbook, I’ll mail it to the Brooklyn Art Library to become part of a global collection of more than 45,000 sketchbooks from 130 countries.
I recently asked my peeps on my instagram page to cast a vote on the theme. “Simple Joys” came out as the clear winner! I’ve designed the cover of the sketchbook with this theme and I’m starting to fill up the blank pages inside. If you’d like to follow along, I plan on posting my progress on my instagram page.
A big goal I have this year is to become a full fledged, certified Oregon Master Naturalist. I’m thrilled I completed the first step in the process by passing the online portion of the course (with a 100% score… eeek!!). The next step is to complete the “field study” ecoregion course which will take place this spring. It’s a competitive program to get in to so I’m not guaranteed a spot but I’m keeping my fingers crossed. I’m hoping to know more next month.
So I have two questions for you:
Please share in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you!
If your year didn’t start out the way you’d hoped or expected, don’t worry!
It’s not too late to start learning that new skill or practicing that activity that makes you happy! Life has unexpected turns and twists which means that we usually don’t have as much control over our days as we’d like but small shifts can have a big ripple effect! Maybe painting a whole day or even a whole hour is just not going to happen right now but how about a fun, little doodle to make you smile?
P.S. I have lots and lots of handmade goodies on sale right now to help make your Valentine’s Day, anniversary or friend’s birthday extra special! Please check out what’s on sale in my etsy shop. Thank you!
Opportunity to go to college in the United States after working my buns off at a highly academic high school in my home country of the Netherlands? Of course I said yes! I was 18 years old and ready for adventure! Never mind, I’d never been to the U.S. (even on vacation). While I was never a fan of standing on tall ladders, I was not afraid to jump on that plane, make new friends in a foreign country and work hard on earning my college degree.
Fast forward many years and I’m now a mom, married with two teenage kids, settled into adult life in the Pacific Northwest. However, as some of you might have read on my instagram, I recently traveled back to the Netherlands to care for my dad during his last days of life and help my mom with all the arrangements after his passing.
It was an emotionally intense time as you can imagine. At the same time, even with all the sadness, I appreciated the opportunity to spend more time with my extended family and family friends, speaking my first language Dutch and enjoying some typical Dutch treats.
Saying goodbye to my mom after everything we went through and now being half a world apart as she tries to navigate this huge transition in her life, has been very hard. I’m incredibly proud of her as she has been very strong and positive but of course, the distance is too great for me to just plop down on her couch to have a cup of coffee and talk, whenever either one of us feels like that. Reflecting on this time, I’ve become achingly aware that my heart truly is in two places.
Should I have said no to that opportunity when I was so young to avoid this heartache now? Of course not. Besides the fact that I didn’t have that foresight at the time, I would not have wanted to miss the part of my life’s journey that includes meeting my husband and kids whom I all love so very much.
As I try to grapple with the realities and long-term consequences of a choice I made so very long ago, I want to share I’m very thankful for:
Have you ever felt that your heart was in two places? Do you live at a long distance from your parents and extended family? Have you ever made a choice while young that was most definitely a good one, but still had long-term consequences for your current life?
I’d love to hear from you in the comments below. Thank you for reading my story and sharing yours!
P.S. Thank you also for sticking with me as I had to close my etsy shop for a whole month! I've already been receiving orders since I opened up again and will be shipping orders through the holiday season.
As I’m sitting here with the most beautiful fall sunset outside my window, I wanted to share with you a bit about a new art medium I’ve been exploring: alcohol inks. Last year, my friend allowed me to use some of her alcohol inks and it was so much fun! We completely lost track of time as we were pouring inks onto paper, letting the colors drip and swirl, and watching it do its magic!
I tend to be a bit of a perfectionist. My art style used to be very photo-realistic. Eventually, I didn’t like working in this style as much anymore as it felt I wasn’t putting much of myself into my art and that taking a beautiful photograph was much quicker!
I started working on simplifying my illustrations over time, which to be honest, was also a result of being a new mom and having very little time for creative work.
Working with alcohol inks has added yet another dimension to my creative explorations. Its fluid nature is impossible to control so it’s a perfect medium if you want to loosen up your art.
These art prints are inspired by the beautiful nature here in the Pacific Northwest. Moving here from Holland, I was struck by the vast, open spaces in this area, the mountains, rivers so clear you could see right through to the rocks, as well as the many, many trees! If you’ve been following me on instagram where I post many of my nature photographs, you know I try to get outdoors with my family and enjoy nature as much as I can.
Working in alcohol inks will not be a year-around medium for me as I prefer to work with these materials outdoors. The fumes kind of get to me so since I live in the Pacific Northwest, this art medium will be one for summer only!
This summer, I created three alcohol ink paintings of which I made reproductions which are available in my etsy shop. If you like any of these art prints, please click on the image and you'll be able to check availability on that particular print. As always, thank you so much for your support of my art!
Do these art prints remind you of a favorite place you’ve visited in nature? What is your favorite nature area near where you live?
Would love to hear from you in the comments! Thanks!
I don’t know when it started - my love for nature. Was it when I was little, holding my grandpa’s hand as we walked through the park together, and he told me all about the trees around us? He knew so much about nature, my grandpa. He worked for the Nature & Wildlife Department in Holland so this was kind of his thing.
This love for nature apparently also rubbed off on my dad. When he was a little boy (and super agile!), he’d help his dad with field work. One of my memories growing up is of my dad excitedly spotting a bird of prey while driving and my mom cautioning him to just keep his eyes on the road….
I’m also a bit of a nerd in that I’ve always loved school and learning. Well, this past weekend, I got the chance to sit in a college classroom again. You should’ve seen my smile! I told my husband I was so happy and excited to be there that morning. He responded with “you didn’t have to tell me that!” Okay, besides my smile, I guess I was a bit bouncy in my seat too…
My fascination with nature became stronger after experiencing lots of pain and healing from a spinal surgery. It wasn’t that I didn’t like nature before but having to seriously slow down, I just noticed more. As part of my physical therapy rehab, I needed to walk every day. Being outside didn’t just make my body feel better, but my mind as well.
Anyways, my husband and I took a Naturalist class to learn more about the beautiful nature around us. We signed up for the class because when I’m on a hike, I notice all these beautiful wildflowers or critters or mushrooms and then I want to know what I’m looking at! My husband loves nature too so we thought it’d be even better taking the class together. The class was super helpful in learning about different resources and we got to spend time in nature practicing our identification skills as well.
What I wanted to share with you most of all, was that one central idea of the class was that everyone can be a citizen naturalist! Yes, you too! You might ask what the heck even is that?
Click to tweet:
It basically means someone who loves nature and wants to help make a positive impact on the environment. Depending on your interests, you can choose to help in different ways. You can help scientists with reporting data about wildlife or plants in your area. You can volunteer with a local organization to help clean up an area by removing invasive plants or litter. You can share your love for nature with the community.
This work is increasingly important as people spend more and more time indoors and we’re more removed from nature than ever before.
What are you passionate about? Is it wildflowers? Do you think frogs are cute? Are you fascinated by mushrooms like me? I want to encourage you to continue to explore these areas you feel curious about, learn more and maybe even get involved in what gives you joy while at the same time helping your community.
I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments on the concept of “citizen naturalists” and what area you feel most passionate about. Also, if you enjoyed this blog post, please consider sharing it via social media. I appreciate it!
Have a wonderful weekend! I hope you get to spend some of it outside!
I was looking at the calendar this morning and was like…. what?! Are we really THAT close to the end of the school year? This week feels a bit like the calm before the storm.
I’ve been able to keep up with our commitments and feel productive in the important areas of my life. You know as well as I do though, that life has ups and downs. Sometimes you can sit there with your pretty planner and no matter how well you try to plan your schedule and how organized your sock drawer is, wham! Something completely unexpected suddenly throws you off course and leaves you feeling overwhelmed and a hot mess.
Looking ahead this month, I notice a bunch of daytime appointments and evening commitments. I can sense that life will be speeding up! So, while I’m in the position to reflect, I wanted to give some thought for when this rollercoaster called life goes from the steady upward climb (where you feel fairly calm and in control) into the “weeeeeeeee!”
So what can we do to still squeeze in joy, even when we feel overwhelmed?
My short answer is: use your senses.
What’s worked for me is to slow down for a minute and:
Being mindful of the little things can go a long way in finding joy, no matter how hectic our day is shaping up to be. Take the time (which is really not much time) to truly appreciate and savour these small moments.
While these ideas work well in the short-term, how can you fight overwhelm and build more joy into your life in the long-term?
Spend some time reflecting on what’s causing you to feel overwhelmed.
- Are these things you have some control over?
- Can you get rid of any demands on your schedule to accommodate the things you don’t have control over?
- What’s most important to you and what can you say no to?
Would love to hear from you in the comments! If you enjoyed reading this blog post, it'd give me so much joy if you'd share it. Thank you!
With the weather warming up, I want to be outside all the time. Are you with me? I live in Portland so when the sun’s out, I soak it up as much as I can and most definitely don’t take it for granted! I love going on walks in the neighborhood and admiring all the pretty flowers in our neighbors’ gardens.
Our home has a front porch that fits a small coffee table with a wooden swing and sitting bench. The other day, I stepped outside and noticed how dusty our porch had become over winter. I took out the garden hose and the big broom and got the job done! Ah! Now it feels so much better!
Now that our porch is clean, it’s super cozy and welcoming so it’s the perfect spot to hang out at home and still be outside. The reason our porch feels inviting is largely due to our “porch decor.” That’s right. Kind of like home decor but then for the porch!
I have a colorful outdoor rug that feels soft even when we walk outside with bare feet. Bird feeders attract cute song birds that are a joy to watch. I also created a huge stained glass hummingbird mosaic artwork on a vintage window pane that looks especially beautiful when the sunlight shines through.
Have you taken a look at your outdoor space lately?"
Have you taken a look at your outdoor space lately? Does it feel boring and bleh or cozy and inviting? Besides the typical spring cleaning, can the space use a spark of joy?
If you’re looking to make your front porch, garden patio or screened-in porch feel more attractive and cozy, here are a few handmade items from my etsy shop that would add a joyful touch to your outdoor living space:
I created these art pieces from Pacific Northwest foraged driftwood. The designs were permanently burned into the wood through pyrography or wood burning so the art will not disappear even if displayed in outdoor areas.
If you're creating a cozy nook to drink your morning coffee and read a book, this sign is simple and cute!
These pieces of art also make thoughtful gifts for Mom's Day and Dad's Day!
Stained Glass Mosaic Bird Feeders
I have three stained glass mosaic bird feeders left in my shop. I'm not planning on making any more of these in the near future so grab one before they're going....going....gone!
Colorful Driftwood Art
I would recommend these art pieces for covered outdoor spaces as well as indoor home decor. They already have hooks installed on the back for easy hanging.
I hope this blog post gives you some inspiration to make your outdoor living space as joyful as it can be. Even a few small changes or the addition of an attractive art piece can make all the difference.
1. Step outside and take an objective look at your outdoor living space or porch
2. Decide what you can change or how you can add joy to the space
3. If any of the art pieces above might work in your space, click on the individual images or head on over to my etsy shop to see the entire collection.
Also, I'd like to hear from you!
Do you have a patio or porch you enjoy spending time? What activities do you enjoy when you hang out in this outdoor living space?
Leave a comment and if you enjoyed reading this blog post, please share with friends! Thank you so much!
Most of us want to make this world a better place. With all the demands on our schedules and the craziness of everyday life, it can feel overwhelming to figure out how to do this. Taking on a long-term commitment to volunteer for a good cause might not be something you can sign up for right now but know that there are small, but significant ways you can still give joy to others.
Small gestures of kindness can cause a ripple effect. Best part is that lifting others up can be super easy and doable, no matter how busy our schedules are!
Here are five ways to give joy to others:
Have you ever noticed that when you flash a big smile at someone, they can’t help but smile too? Yes, smiling is contagious! What’s so interesting to me, is that smiling doesn’t just make you more attractive on the outside.
Sure, that’s a bonus but apparently, scientists have found that when we smile, a bunch of chemicals are released in the brain that make us feel good, lower our stress levels and boost our immune system. Studies even suggest that simply smiling can possibly prolong our lives.
So, today, make a conscious effort to look others in the eye and smile! It’s good for both of you!
Click to tweet:
You're not too busy to give joy to others!
5 Easy Ways: https://tinyurl.com/y34skvbg
2. Give a Compliment
We all know it feels wonderful when someone gives us a compliment. You can really make a positive (sometimes even lasting) impact on someone by sharing your genuine appreciation for something about them.
While it’s nice to give a compliment when someone wears a cute sweater you like or an eye catching necklace, compliments can be even more meaningful when they’re about an intrinsic value, such as friendship, a job well done, a skill, etc.
Also, turning your compliment from a statement starting with “I” into “you” can help the compliment be more powerful.
Here are a couple of examples:
- “I like your garden” vs. “You have such an amazing green thumb! Look at how you made those flowers bloom!”
- “I like this meal” vs. “You’re an awesome chef!”
4. Make a Gift
Instead of purchasing a gift at the store, try making a gift next time you have the opportunity.
Handmade gifts are the best! My friend is super handy with her sewing machine and has gifted me her crafty creations made out of the cutest fabric. These have been my favorite gifts! No problem if you’re not into sewing, we all have our "gifts" in the other sense of the word!
Here are some ideas:
- arrange flowers from your garden in a cute vase
- paint watercolor greeting cards
- use your pretty handwriting to create pretty gift tags
- record a song
If you’re super short on time, supporting small businesses that offer handmade gifts is the next best thing! Large corporations don’t jump for joy when they receive an order like an etsy shop owner or artist will!
3. Write a Letter
Imagine. You walk to your mailbox for the daily chore of emptying it. Tucked in between the bills and junk mail, you find a hand written envelope from a friend. Wouldn’t you feel instant joy at this unexpected and exciting discovery? Wouldn’t this piece of mail be the first you can’t wait to open? Writing letters or even a card by hand takes a bit of time but is a fabulous way to stay in touch with a far away friend while so much more joyful than a quick email.
Remembering stories that connect us or memories that we’ve made together can bring a smile to our faces. I’m the first to admit that this has not always been an area of strength for me but you can most certainly give joy to others by remembering special dates or even names. I’m pretty good with names but dates…. I’m attempting to get better at this is by writing special dates in my planner. Now I just need to look ahead and remember! Ha!
Which of these joy giving ideas resonates most with you? What compliment have you been given that meant a lot to you? Any other ideas you’ve found to give joy to others? I’d love to hear in the comments!
If you enjoyed reading this blog post, it’d give me so much joy if you share it via the social media buttons.
This blog post is NOT sponsored by the companies mentioned and I did NOT receive free product. Also, I'm NOT an affiliate for these products. This blog post reflects my personal opinion and is not influenced by these companies.
In my last blog post, I shared with you about an important tool I've started to use while I'm wood burning: a smoke absorber. I wanted to continue to share with you about the tools I use to create my wood burning art.
Beginner Wood Burner
When I just learned about wood burning and wanted to give it a try, I started out with a hobby wood burning tool.
I was pleased and to be honest, kind of surprised how inexpensive this tool was! It was only about $10.
I started using the Walnut Hollow Creative Wood Burner. It requires a few minutes to warm up and then you’re ready to burn!
These are my very first pieces I created with this wood burning tool:
What I like about this tool:
The drawbacks of this tool:
Safety Tip: Be sure to tape down the metal stand so you don’t have to worry about a hot burner tipping over!
Professional Wood Burner
Once I realized how much I was enjoying creating art through pyrography and wanted to add more wood burned gifts to my etsy shop, I decided to upgrade to a professional wood burner. I did a good amount of research and ended up choosing the Razertip SS-D10. Since I couldn’t find this tool locally, I purchased it online through treelineusa.com which I can highly recommend as they‘ve provided me with excellent customer service.
What I like about this tool:
Here is an example of the more detailed work possible with a professional wood burning tool:
The drawbacks of this tool:
Honestly, there’s not much I don’t like about this wood burning tool. I’ll just make these two points:
Please note: this Razertip Wood Burner also comes as a single pen option (Razertip SK). This tool is a bit less expensive and may be a good alternative if you don’t think you’ll need to switch between pens very often and would prefer a professional wood burner at a lower price.
To keep my lines sharp looking, I use the Razertip Tip Cleaner to scrape off any build-up. This tool is super easy to use as you just gently scrape the tip along the sharp edge and isn’t too abrasive.
Finally, I use graphite paper to transfer some of my illustrations to the wood. I start all my wood burning projects with sketching my ideas on paper. Depending on the design, I’ll then draw it onto the wood freehand or transfer it with graphite paper before making it permanent with wood burning.
That’s it! Hope you enjoyed reading a bit more about my favorite tools in creating my wood burning art.
Have you tried wood burning before? What type of tool do you use? Do you enjoy filling your spare time with another creative hobby? Would love to hear from you in the comments! If you enjoyed reading this blog post, please share!