I don’t know if you’re feeling it but these last days of the school year feel a bit like having your head stuck in the washer on the spin cycle. It seems as if every teacher is trying to fit their last big project in. After school, you’ve got the end of the year concerts, graduation parties, recitals…. on top of the regular sports practices and kids activities. So much fun but all kind of heaped together! I try to just embrace the chaos and savor all the special milestones and moments we’re celebrating with the kids but it can be a bit overwhelming sometimes. From talking with other moms, I know I’m not the only one feeling this way.
So this is why I’ve decided to put my etsy shop on vacation hold for a month. I absolutely love working on my shop but I also know this:
If you’re interested in something from my shop, the last day to order is Sunday June 10th. If you’d like to be notified when my shop is open again, please join Simple Joys Club. You’ll receive a complimentary Simple Joys Bucket List printable to joyfully start off your summer as well! Wahoo!
I’d love to hear about YOUR summer plans!
How are you planning to get the most out of this summer?
Do you have any fun trips planned?
Places you’ve wanted to explore?
Hikes you have wanted to go on?
Projects you have wanted to tackle?
Books you have been longing to read?
Be sure to include these items on your Simple Joys Bucket List! Also, I love hearing from you so please leave me a comment to share. Thanks so much for your support of my art!
If you’re looking for teacher gifts to thank them and celebrate the end of the school year, you may like some of these items in my shop:
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You will receive a cute, complimentary Simple Joys Bucket List printable with pretty floral illustration, just for joining the club!
So I have to admit…. I’m not like Professor Trelawny. I have no abilities in reading tea leaves or crystal balls. I can’t predict the future. Although my hair does look like hers most days as I go for my walk in drizzly Portland or get so absorbed in making my art that I forget to look in the mirror. Whoops.
So why this title? I like fortune cookies. The cookie part is just okay but I like the surprise of opening it and reading what the little piece of paper says. We’ve had some funny and interesting ones over the years. My husband got one that said “ Be careful not to overspend” …… while we were at Disneyland! Ha! Right!
So this is what happened. I started writing my own “fortunes.” Not quite like the fortunes you receive in the Chinese restaurant cookies but just bits of positive inspiration and uplifting encouragement inspired by the simple joys in life. With so much negativity in the news, I guess it's my way to counterbalance that a bit.
You will now receive a Presents of Love fortune in a cute mini-envelope that I cut and fold myself by hand, complimentary with each order from my etsy shop (excl. digital download printables as those are sent via email). My hope is that you will feel my heartfelt gratitude for each and every one of you who support my art and that my "fortunes" will leave you inspired and reminded of the good in this world. Kind of like a supportive, warm hug tucked into a tiny, colorful envelope.
I’ve been adding lots of new items decorated through pyrography or wood burning over the past few months: driftwood art, modern rustic home decor and cool keychains. Keeping me busy! It was so fun communicating with an absolutely wonderful customer last week and knowing that my art found its way across the world safely, all the way to Switzerland!
See just a few examples of my new creations below:
I would love to hear from you! Please leave a comment if your hair is frizzy too, you have a funny fortune cookie story to share or just to say hi. I love that too! Make sure to add your email to my Simple Joys Club as I have all sorts of fun planned for this year.
You don’t want to miss out! Have a great weekend!
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Well, not THAT type of family planning but the type where you excitedly think of the possibilities of a brand new year! Last year, I created a free worksheet printable to help guide you and your family through the process of daydreaming, writing down your goals and making them concrete with pen and paper. Setting goals is such an important skill to continue to develop for all of us, regardless of our age
This year, I have updated my “family goals” printable for 2018 and I’m even publishing it a week earlier than last year! Hopefully, this means you can use these quiet days leading up to the New Year for reflecting and setting positive goals for yourself, along with your kids! I'm still offering it for free too! Just click on the image and download. If you don't want to miss out on these fun, free gifts, please be sure to hop on my email list.
Thank you for all your support this past year! As my best nine from instagram show, 2017 was a year of reconnecting and appreciating the beauty of nature. I also added nature inspired, handmade gifts to my etsy shop which is an area I would like to put even more focus on for 2018. My illustrations were shipped all over the world, from Australia to France to the UK, through my zazzle shop. So very thankful for each and every one of you who have supported and encouraged my art!
I’m still going through my own reflecting and goal setting for the New Year but I’m hopeful and excited about what 2018 will bring! Happy New Year to all of you!
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I’m not talking about doing push ups or squats. Or a bright red sunburn. Ouch! I’m not talking about the forest fires that are burning all over the West either, because they just make me really sad. No, I’m talking about something much happier! I somewhat accidentally discovered pyrography! What is pyrography you say? The dictionary explains it as “the art or technique of decorating wood or leather by burning a design on the surface with a heated metallic point.”
It started out with some wooden coasters I made for my husband’s birthday. At first, I was thinking of stamping some designs onto the wood but really wanted the images to come out looking sharp and permanent. I did some research which led to the idea of burning the designs onto the wood. I ordered a basic pyrography or wood burning tool and found it to work well with my simple designs. It was so much fun! When I gave the coasters to my husband, he really loved them and encouraged me to make some more items with this type of art. The feedback I received on my instagram post of the coasters was so positive and encouraging as well!
So, here I am, slightly obsessed with wood burning! It’s ironic, really. I’m not fearful of that many things but I would admit I’m a bit fearful around fire. So it’s probably good that even though the wood burning tool gets really hot, there are no actual flames or fire involved!
I have been drawing all my life so the transition from pencil to pyrography pen has been pretty straightforward. While my art used to be very photorealistic, I have been simplifying my illustrations and artwork for many years now, to communicate my ideas with minimalist, simple lines. This type of design lends itself really well to pyrography with a visual impact that Simon Easton in his book “Woodburning with Style” compares to wood tattoos.
I have added five necklaces to my etsy shop with wood burned designs on the pendants. You can find out more when you click on the photographs in this blog post. The designs are inspired by nature and are very lightweight to wear. The necklaces don't have that factory made feel because each individual piece is handmade with love. No trees were cut down to make these necklaces - they were created out of a branch that had fallen down.
I’m planning on adding some ornaments soon because wouldn’t wooden ornaments look so pretty in the Christmas tree? Be sure to add your name to my email list in the sign-up box below if you don't want to miss out!
Anyways, I would absolutely love it if you check out my new, handmade art in my etsy shop! If you like these "inspired by nature" gifts, please let me know in the comments. Positive comments make my day! Please share this blog post with your nature lover friends.
We all know that children love to explore and that exploring is important to their development. As adults, it is easy to get stuck in the routines of daily life and occupy ourselves with the same old activities, habits and chores. I personally love my routines but recognize that us grown-ups can certainly benefit from exploring too!
Exploring can open our minds to new ideas, gain a new perspective, clear our minds from stress and inspire us to seek knowledge of the world around us. Here are five easy ways to incorporate more exploration into our adult lives and helping our inner child to soar:
One of my favorite ways to explore is by going outdoors and into nature. I’m blessed to live in a beautiful place where within a hour’s drive I can be either at the coast or the mountains. The Pacific Northwest offers a variety of landscapes that make it fun to explore with the whole family. The seasons offer different activities to explore nature and many of them are free!
Our family loves to go hiking and pay attention to wildlife tracks on the trail. We study the native plants we see or try to figure out which bird is singing so pretty. In summer, we swim in mountain lakes and learn about newts. In fall, we hunt for edible mushrooms in the forest or go for “nature treasure hunts” in the city as we look for pretty acorns and chestnuts.
While the kids learn lots through these experiences, I have found myself learning as well. Exploring engages me with the natural world and encourages me to open up reference books to better understand what plant or animal track I’m looking at.
As an artist, I explore by trying out a new art supply or experimenting with a new medium. In my illustrations, I strive to communicate ideas with simple line drawings and push myself which lines are necessary to make the drawing as pleasing yet simple as possible. Last year, I received a rubber stamp making kit for Christmas. I had never tried my hand at making stamps but found that my simple designs work very well in making stamps.
Even if you don’t consider yourself an artist, it can be so fun to doodle with some pencils, build something out of wood or create a bowl out of clay. Our modern smart phones are equipped with amazing cameras so you can literally be a photographer on your lunch break and receive instant feedback through posting on instagram!
Explore New Skills
If you feel stuck in your job or tired with daily chores, maybe it’s time to learn a new skill. Who knows what opportunities open up by learning a new skill! It may help you to work more efficiently or step up in your career. You may find a new hobby, for example by learning how to play a musical instrument.
I recently started taking ice skating lessons. If you would have told me last year that I would be taking ice skating lessons, I would have told you you’re crazy. However, my daughter started taking lessons and it looked so fun, I couldn’t resist! I grew up ice skating during the winter in Holland so it feels great to be back onto the ice. I have to be very careful because of my back issues but taking a basic skills class has been an exciting way to get back into it.
Explore through travel
Being an international family, we’re lucky we have family all over the world we can visit. We love to travel! Exploring through travel truly opens your mind and helps you to learn about other cultures, foods and ways of living. It widens our horizons…. quite literally.
If travel is not in your budget or you have physical challenges to make travel a reality, you can travel from your most comfortable chair right at home by reading books! I recently read “A State of Wonder” by Ann Patchett which allowed me to “travel” to the Amazon rainforest, a place where I have never been. Do you love to travel through books? If you have any good book recommendations for me, please leave them for me in the comments.
Explore your community
Talking about books, have you visited your local library recently? The library is not only a wonderful place to find books but also connect with your community. Our local library offers free events for all ages.
How can you explore your community? By visiting a park, by visiting a neighborhood coffee shop, by introducing yourself to a new neighbor, by supporting a local small business or getting involved as a volunteer? So many ways to explore your community!
Feeling inspired, I created a new design around this concept of exploring. The design has a triangular shape with colors that are attractive to men and women, boys and girls. The “explore” design is available on a wide variety of products including cards and apparel. By clicking on the images, you will be directed to zazzle which is the print-on-demand company which produces my designs into real life products and gifts. If you are interested in seeing the entire product line, please click here and select newest products.
If you believe in the benefits of exploring and enjoyed reading my post, I always appreciate it if you share via social media. Thank you!!
... you can make a difference for a sweet 7 year old girl in my family. You see, just a few months ago, Maddison’s days were filled with gymnastics, attending 2nd grade and playing with her sister and dogs. Then, on November 18th, Maddison was diagnosed with Stage 4 Glioblastoma Multiforme Cancer. Glioblastoma is a very rare and difficult to treat cancer. While battling cancer is so extremely challenging already, the family has had to battle with the health insurance company to get coverage for the chemotherapy drugs Maddison’s oncologist has recommended.
Hearing her story really touched my heart. I wanted to help but live too far away to help in a direct way. Because I express my feelings through art, I created a drawing inspired by Maddison and her love for animals and the zoo.
I’m offering this drawing to you as a free printable that you can use as a coloring page for your kids or a decorative print to hang on the wall of your child’s bedroom or baby’s nursery. You can download the pdf file simply by clicking on the image below and print from your home computer or at local print shop.
However, if you choose to download the printable, I ask that you please consider making a donation to Maddison’s gofundme campaign. Maddison is so strong and brave but she could really use a miracle right now. The gofundme campaign will help pay for the overwhelming medical expenses. Any donation will be appreciated! Your donation will bring hope and make a difference.
Thank you so much!
If you love spending time at a lake cabin or mountain cabin, raise your hand! Nothing can rejuvenate us like spending time in the outdoors, connecting with nature and swimming in a lake. Spending time at a cozy cabin allows us to reconnect with our family, reading books and playing games. It is one of our family’s favorite ways to spend time! Since I enjoyed working on the bilingual memory game printables I recently launched in my new etsy shop, I was inspired to create a memory matching game that celebrates the simple joys of staying at a cabin with your family.
I started with creating little doodles of woodland animals and illustrations of things that remind me of cozy cabins. Living in the Pacific Northwest for so many years has given me plenty of inspiration! From staying at historic fire lookouts on stilts to rustic cabins without any modern amenities to warming up in a beautiful ski lodge or log cabin, cabins are the best for creating lasting memories! Working on these drawings would remind me of our special family memories and before I knew it, I had 24 unique designs!
I kept the designs as simple line drawings in black ink because I thought kids may like to color in the drawings themselves and have another fun activity to do besides playing the game. Plus, it makes it easy for us moms to print at home even if the color ink cartridge on your printer is out of ink!
Would love it if you check out my new “Cabin in the Woods" game printable as it has been a labor of love! Here is the link to my new etsy shop: https://www.etsy.com/shop/PresentsofLoveShop
Also, I would value your feedback on any other printable products you’d like me to create with a cabin theme. Bookmarks? Games for kids? Stationery? Please leave me a comment and share your thoughts! Thank you so much!
Who doesn't love the sweet romance and joyful simplicity of the daisy? When I was little, my dad enjoyed gardening and strived for a beautiful, pristine green lawn surrounded by blooming garden beds. While I loved the plants and flowers in the garden beds, we had different ideas in regards to the lawn. You see, I loved blowing dandelions and making necklaces out of daisies. So, there may have been a time (or two or three....) that he came home from work to find me sowing my favorite wildflowers onto the lawn...
Sitting on the grass on a hot summer day stringing daisies together to make a floral crown or necklace is a vivid childhood memory for me. In fact, I still enjoy making them! This new design was inspired by this childhood memory. I kept the lines of this illustration of three daisies simple and added just a bit of color with yellow and pink circles for a modern retro style. Almost all of these products and gifts are customizable. You can change the background color and personalize gifts with a name or your own text.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this new design! If you like the illustration and would like to see it on a gift or product other than the ones featured below, please leave me a comment here or contact me directly. I can most likely make it happen. I work with a print-on-demand company called zazzle for excellent customer service and shipping all around the world so please click on the images below to see more product details and pricing. I'm here to make your meaningful gift shopping easy!
String Backpack with Personalized Name for School or Sports
Keepsake Ornaments with Personalized Name
Coolest Comfy Shoes Ever....with Daisies!
Personalized Mug Gift for a Favorite Teacher
New Home? Pretty Floral Address Labels
Round Stickers with Daisies to Decorate
Adorable Thank You Notes for All Occasions
Personalized Phone Case
Looking for Cool Party Favors? Floral Temporary Tattoos!
Must Have Coffee....Mug!
Wedding Anniversary Cards with Custom Year
Gorgeous Tissue Paper To Wrap all your Gifts
Floral Fabric with Daisies for your Crafty Sewing Projects
New Baby Outfit "Bloom"
Special Cards for your Bridesmaids
Bridal Shower Invitation With Daisy Flower Theme
Attractive Floral Business Card for your Small Business
Beautiful Stationery for your Small Business or Home
Thank you for sharing my new daisy design via the social media buttons and leaving me a comment! It keeps me going!
Last night was very special. After working on this large mosaic for a small eternity, my sweet hubby helped me on the final stage: hanging it up! I can't tell you how gratifying it was to see my artwork hanging up on our front porch... complete! After months of painting the frame, cutting glass (and perhaps my fingers at times...ouch!), arranging each individual piece, attempting to glue the pieces without getting glue in my hair and even getting my dad involved in the muddy process of grouting during their visit... it is complete! A visual sign that baby steps will eventually get us there!
I took this photo as the sun was almost going down and there was barely any sunlight to shine through the colored stained glass but it didn't matter! Because it's about celebrating the moment! And we live in Oregon. We don't really have any light for a good part of the year so there. :0)
While there are plenty of flaws in the artwork for the critical eye, this is my hope: that people who see my mosaic will simply be reminded of the beauty of nature and be inspired to cherish the simple joys in life. May all who walk past our home, be lifted up like a hummingbird in flight. I know that all sounds a bit sentimental (which I try to avoid most days because you know, I'm Dutch) but that's my hope.
... to go make something! At least, I couldn't control the urge to make cute little wooden art stamps when I discovered that the print-on-demand company I work with, zazzle, now offers this cool new product for artsy and crafty moms like myself. I possibly went a little crazy and had a little too much fun designing these customizable stamps but I hope you will agree with me that they will help you create so many fun craft projects! Here is my guide for a few crafty creations and uses:
Moms: use this wooden stamp with smiling baby elephant to write little reminder notes to your kids. Remember... your lunch box! Remember... to do your homework! Remember... to put your dirty socks in the laundry bin!
I bet you can think of a gazillion ways to use this little stamp now, right?! Much more efficient (and cuter!) than repeating yourself over and over again and sounding like a broken record. And yes, you can easily customize the text if you want to add a child's name to it or have another creative use for this stamp!
Love to make handmade gifts?
You love to sew. And knit. You can whip up some amazing meals in the kitchen. You bake desserts so delicious even the strictest dietician can't help themselves. You fabricate art out of mere paper and with a splash of paint can transform even the most simple items into attractive home decor. If you are a maker, I'm sure your skills are a treasured gift among friends and family as handmade gifts are the best! You may have even started selling your handmade goods online or in an etsy shop. Whether you are gifting your creations to your close circle or selling them around the world, this wooden art stamp is perfect for creating cute tags and labels for your handmade goods as well as homemade food. You can also stamp your shipping label!
Good to know: These wooden art stamps are laser engraved on foam cushion. You have the option of adding a wooden handle. The ink pad is not included but you can choose from 5 color options of dye based ink pads as an add-on.
Are you ready for Back to School, teachers?!
This little stamp of a fish swimming happily wearing a snorkel mask will surely bring a smile to your students' faces! I know my kids love silly stuff! The stamp has the words "Great Job!" but you can easily customize this text with your own words. Perfect little stamp for completed homework assignments and as an incentive for positive behavior! Also perfect for swim lesson certificates and for kids on swim team!
Of course, my illustration of a quirky cat wearing glasses with a "Read" sign dangling from its tail also deserved to be turned into a stamp! How fun for teachers to stamp homework assignments and reading logs! Besides teachers, this stamp is great for reading specialists at school, librarians, teacher aides, reading volunteers or anyone else with the important job of helping kids to succeed in reading!
Writing thank you notes can feel a bit like a chore, especially when you have MANY to write such as after a wedding, birthday party or milestone anniversary party but receiving a thank you note is so nice! You can make the experience of finding a sweet thank you note among bills and junk mail in the mail box even sweeter by decorating the envelope with this beautiful stamp featuring a floral border of roses. Stylish yet modern, it will look graceful on handmade thank you notes as well. Just buy a quality piece of card stock in your favorite color and center the image of the stamp. Voila! You can customize the text if you want to change the language or change the font. Easy peasy.
Do you have a craft idea for one of these stamps? I'd love to hear it in the comments! Want me to customize a stamp for you? I'm happy to work with you directly so just send me a quick note through the contact tab at the top. Thank you SO much for your support!
Illustrations and nature inspired, handmade art that celebrates simple joys.