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5 Ways to Embrace Winter

Bianca via flickr

{no.1} Appreciate the quiet. In the warm months, neighbors are out chatting and people drop by unannounced. In winter, things are different. After a big snowstorm, the quiet settles around our little house, and I feel as if we were living in a big woods instead of the city. The snow insulates us from the outside world, from work and school. People are focused on the most basic things — shoveling snow, buying (or baking) bread, lighting fires.

{no.2} Make big plans. When I lived in California, there was no clear break in the busyness of the year; no obvious time to stop and make plans for the future. But winter — a real winter — is made for plans. I draw up sketches of our house and garden, pore over seed catalogs in bed at night, and make endless lists. Of places to travel, paint colors to try, house projects to do this year. Big plans are good. They keep you going.

{no.3} Make good things to eat and warm things to drink. Soups, stews, roasts, hot cocoa, chai, and endless pots of tea make their way through our house in the winter. Cold days are made for coming in to warm up with your hands wrapped around a hot mug or soup bowl.

{no.4} Gear up. As the Swedes say (I think it’s the Swedes!) there is no bad weather, only bad clothes. My first four winters in Rhode Island I spent without proper snow-worthy gear, and it sucked. But with fuzzy-lined snow boots, a down parka, cozy hat and mittens, I can now actually enjoy making snow balls at the park and taking winter walks. Especially when I know hot cocoa is waiting for me at home (see no.3)

{no.5} Light up the night. Letting the glow of candles and lamps fill the house on dark nights (or even dark afternoons) is absolutely necessary to create a cheery atmosphere in winter. I think it goes without saying I am a huge fan of fairy lights, too.

I readily admit I set out to list 10 ways to embrace winter and came up short, but let’s be honest — there is only so much embracing of winter I am willing to do on March 14, with snow still on the ground, for goodness sake. Winter, you have your charms; but the most enchanting bit is the part where you leave on icy, leafless wings and let glorious spring take your place.

{lovely photo: Bianca on Flickr}

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Inspired by Katherine Tromans Illustration

Good morning loves! I’ve been struggling along with an awful cold this week, but I am poking my head up today to share the work of an illustrator who is inspiring me now. I spied the work of illustrator and graphic designer Katherine Tromans and was instantly smitten. I am so pleased she kindly agreed to share a peek at some of her work here — thanks, Kat!

Katherine Tromans Illustration1

Katherine Tromans Illustration

I love the dreamy, otherworldly quality of Katherine’s work, and I am especially fond of the self-portrait shown top right. Those freckles remind me of a constellation! Katherine lives in Birmingham, England, has had several exhibitions of her original works, takes on commissions for custom portraits, and her work is featured in the new book Juxtapoz Psychedelic. Kat does not currently have an online shop (hint, hint, Kat!), but if you are interested in purchasing a print you can contact her directly.

(images: Katherine Tromans, used with permission)

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The Secret to Loving Yourself, Flaws and All

Books

You know that thing when you start thinking about one little event/conversation/dumb thing you said/bad decision you made, and it soon spirals into a mental list of everything you’ve done wrong since the beginning of time? Well, I found myself falling down that rabbit hole the other day when a wonderful thought stopped me in my tracks:

What if you were a character in a novel you loved?

Think of one of your favorite characters — it could be in a novel, or a great film or tv show. All great characters have some serious problems to deal with (whether internally or externally), they sometimes make questionable decisions (Holden Caulfield), break the law (Lisbeth Salander), and doubt themselves (Katniss Everdeen) — but we love them anyway, flaws and all. Why? Simply put, because we have some distance. We can see the greater arc of their story, and we identify with their struggles. Why can’t we do this for ourselves?

Well, just imagine if you could look at yourself from the outside. Think of all of the worst mistakes you’ve made: the wrong-turns, the royal screw-ups, the missed chances, the things left unsaid. If you could get some distance, wouldn’t you actually be…lovely? Imperfect, intriguing, and lovable, despite (or even because of) the worst of you?

Just for today, why not see how it feels to give yourself the same sort of compassion you usually reserve for characters in books? I know this is different from my usual sort of posts, but I thought we could all use the encouragement. : ) Have a lovely day, and be kind to yourselves, friends!

hugs, Laura

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Inspiring New Book :: Decorate With Flowers

Holly Becker of decor8 and Leslie Shewring, who blogs at A Creative Mint, have collaborated on a new book due to be released this spring, and I couldn’t be more excited about it. Holly and Leslie and two of the most creative, inspiring people I know, online or off, and their new book is getting a permanent place on my bookshelf, for sure! The book is called Decorate With Flowers, and it is quite unlike anything else out there right now — its pages are packed with fresh, easy, and creative ways to style and arrange flowers in your home.

Decorate With Flowers

For me, cut flowers are one of the quickest, easiest, and most satisfying mood-boosters I know. I don’t shop at florists (too expensive) but rarely a week goes by that I don’t scoop up a bundle of cut flowers or a pot of blooming bulbs at Trader Joe’s, or the farmer’s market. Flowers bring vibrancy and life to my living space, lift spirits in winter, and bring the garden in year-round. Whenever my home is looking and feeling a bit sad (or I am), I know that all I need to do is add a few bud vases here, an enamel pitcher of blooms there, and the entire space will feel instantly uplifted and renewed.

I think that even if you typically don’t know what to do with flowers other than plunk a store-bought bouquet in a vase, you will not feel the least bit intimidated by the suggestions here. Simple, easy to source materials like kraft paper, galvanized florist’s buckets, colorful washi tape, and recycled glass jars are put to new, creative uses — see a sampling of the ideas above for a flavor of what’s inside. I know I can’t wait for my copy to arrive! : )

Decorate With Flowers - Covers

Leslie and Holly have done such an amazing job bringing a fresh angle to this subject. Their ideas are innovative and inspiring…and actually doable. That’s no easy feat! Most floral arranging books I have seen include spreads that could never be recreated at home by mere mortals (with toddlers and deadlines and dinner to cook) — but these ladies just nailed it. Flowers can and should be a part of your daily life, and perusing these images makes me feel the itch to run out and buy a whole armful of flowers, enough to fill every room. Bravo, Holly! Bravo, Leslie!

What about you? Are you a sucker for flowers at home, too, or do you reserve them for special occasions? Might this convince you otherwise? I’d love to hear…

(images: Decorate With Flowers)

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Mini Granny Square Mug Cozy

-5

I have a confession: I’ve tried knitting many times, but each time I started a project I quickly lost interest. I forgot how to knit and purl if more than a day lapsed between knitting sessions, and to be honest, it never felt comfortable. With crochet, things are different. I can’t tell you why exactly, but crochet just clicked for me right away. This book by Catherine Hirst has a great deal to do with it — I want to make every single project in it, so I felt extremely motivated to learn!

Crochet Mug Cozy | Lolalina

For my first project I chose the Mini Granny Square Mug Cozy from Granny Square Crochet by Catherine Hirst. My mom helped me get started the last time she came to visit, and I supplemented with some of Catherine’s own online video tutorials. I especially appreciate the fact that she is a lefty like me — it was so helpful to see left-handed crochet demonstrated in a video! FYI, she does demonstrate it both ways, so if you’re a righty you won’t feel left out. : )

Crochet Mug Cozy | Lolalina

One definite pro in the crochet column, if I were keeping track: crochet offers so many more opportunities to bedeck your home in warm handmade goodness than knitting. Think of colorful crocheted poufs, coasters, and cushion covers. Crochet bedspreads and pillowcase edging…the list goes on and on. Oh, and Yvonne is a fan, which is a definite plus if you ask me. Man, that girl can crochet.

Crochet Mug Cozy | Lolalina

I admit I set aside the project for a few months mid-way through, but to my astonishment, when I picked it up again I remembered exactly what to do! The finished project is obviously a beginner’s effort, but I am still proud I got it done. There will surely be only improvement from here on out.

Tell me — do you crochet?

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