The Art of Giving


It’s that time of year again when the weather turns cooler, the days become shorter, and snow is in the forecast, signaling the start of the holiday season. It is a wonderful time for family and friends to share good times together and to give thanks for our blessings. While many of us enjoy the tradition of gift giving, shopping for the perfect gift for everyone on our list can be stressful! The increasing availability of on-line shopping, gift cards and longer store hours makes shopping and gift giving easier, but there is a growing interest in giving meaningful gifts. Perhaps there is an art to giving in the same way there is an art to conversation, writing poetry, or creating music?

There are many great ideas for meaningful gift giving (simply google meaningful gifts) and while I have chosen a few that resonate with me, you may want to start you own list before the holiday season begins.


In our busy lives, time is such a finite and precious commodity that to give our time may be the most valuable gift we can provide. Consider giving time to a community project or a charity. The possibilities are endless; from visiting an old age home, to volunteering at a hospital, your time is a welcome gift! Perhaps this could be a family initiative, which would have the added benefit of time spent together.


One of life’s certainties is that we come into this world with nothing and we leave with nothing. When that day comes, what remains are memories shared with loved ones. A friend of mine recently gave each of her children a camera along with a note about the importance of building shared memories. From that day forward, her family has focused on creating memories rather than giving gifts, a beautiful intention, which has lasting impact.


While handwriting is one of the few things that are unique to each of us, the art of handwriting is all but disappearing.  Writing a letter takes time, thought and effort and can be a very meaningful gift. It is a wonderful way to share stories, tell someone how much they mean to us, or tell what we admire about them. Some of my most cherished gifts are the letters written to me by my mother. I can remember who she was through her words and unique handwriting style. There is no time like the present to write a letter to someone you love. All it takes is a pen, paper and a willingness to share what is in your heart.


In a world where we yearn for simpler times, the lost art of handmade gifts is making a comeback. Handmade gifts show that we value the time, care and attention that went into making something special. This year, consider spending time to make a few gifts, or go to a local arts festival or craft sale to find something unique. Not only will you give a one of a kind gift, but you will also support people who make a living with their hands and creativity.  A handcrafted gift is sure to please and may be one of the few things that may not get tossed out before the next season arrives.


Invitations for special occasions often include a note suggesting a charitable donation would be appreciated in lieu of a gift. From a child’s first birthday, to milestone celebrations throughout life, the gift of charity is a gift that reaches out to many. This growing trend acknowledges that our presence at an event is the gift, while at the same time provides an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others. There are many options available on-line, which make it easy to combine gift giving and donations, so why not consider this for the holiday season or throughout the year?

These are just a few of the ideas that I have discovered and like. You could start your own list of meaningful gifts, and bring the art of giving into your life. You may find you enjoy gift giving and the holiday season more, and I’m sure your loved ones will appreciate it and so will the planet!

This holiday season Toronto’s First Anonymous Art Show in support of Art for Cancer Foundation, is a great source for meaningful gifts. The show will be held December 3-6, 2015 at AFC Place, 1884 Davenport Road, Toronto. Established and emerging artists have donated hundreds of 8”X8” paintings which will be exhibited and sold for $100.00 each.  The artist remains a mystery until after the purchase.

100% of proceeds will go to support free creative programs for people living with cancer offered by ART for Cancer Foundation

Further details available at:

Happy holidays and happy giving!

Creatively yours,



Hey out there!

Hello All!

How goes your summer? Seems to me that the clock speeds up from Canada Day through to Labour Day. It’s hard to keep up with events and activities, and harder still to reflect on them and keep them in memory. Here’s a quick post from me, in an attempt to do both those things.

We went to a very pleasant Canada Day barbcue where the food and company were top notch. One of the guests is an organizer of the Ferguson Memorial Walk, an activity day, and walk in support of Orangeville’s Family Transition Place, and the White Ribbon Campaign.

As the evening got darker, I saw something I have never seen before. Across the back yard, our host held up something large and white, it looked like a garbage bag.  At the bottom of the bag was a sort of lantern, and a young partygoer was lighting this lantern with a long bbq lighter. It took at least a minute to get the flame going. A couple of minutes later, the large bag filled with hot air, and rose off the ground, into the sky. It looked wonderful, rising very quickly and moving out of view over the trees. Here’s the photo I snapped.

Flying Lantern

Very cool! Now, there was some discussion about whether launching such a thing was a safe idea. The packaging assured us the lantern was completely biodegradable, but we were also worried about it catching trees on fire, or causing a hazard to aviation, or to bats. What do you think? Have you seen these?

We ended the evening with a distant view of the Orangeville fireworks. A very satisfactory night out.

On a roll for being social, we made a date with our kids to see the Picasso exhibit at the AGO in Toronto. This was a fantastic exhibit. Picasso is an artist who can provoke a response from everyone. What a fertile creative life! The exhibit is on till the end of the summer, see it if you can. We went at 10am on a Tuesday and found that to be an ideal, quiet time to go. Some advice I wish I had followed:  check the free program that you’re given on entry to the exhibit. It lists the locations of Picasso items in the AGO’s collections outside of the exhibit. Although you can see these whenever you happen to be at the AGO, I think they might be especially interesting to see immediately after viewing this exhibit.

Art Gallery of Ontario, Galleria Italiano

The exhibit exits into this lovely space, the Galleria Italiano. Nice place to hang out while waiting for trailing family members. Photo by bobcatnorth, from Flickr.

After 2 hours of the Picassos, we didn’t spend much more time at the gallery. But we did go to see the William Kurelek room. His paintings fascinate me. In order to get to his room, we passed quickly through several other Canadian galleries, largely empty except for the iconic paintings. I resolve to return, soon. On a Tuesday.

All for now,


Creatively Yours: The Colour Green

Remember Sesame Street? Each day the program was brought to you by the letter “A “(or B or C and so on).  So I thought what about a colour of the day? Following up on Laurie’s green theme, I would suggest that today is brought to you by the colour green!

Green is the colour of spring! What a delight after the grey tones of winter to gaze upon the yellow-green grass and foliage springing up everywhere. It is almost a fluorescent colour in the early spring before it turns to a deeper hue as we move into the summer months. Take a moment today to let your eyes gaze upon the colour green. Green is the colour found most in nature and so it is no surprise that the “green” movement got its’ name from its association with nature.  Organic foods, natural materials, recycling, and even green energy are all by-products of what nature already does naturally! Man made, synthetic and genetically modified products have brought us great economic and efficiency gains along with great perils to our planet.  Our celebration of Earth Day on April 22 is an important reminder to take care of our planet as our well-being and health is directly linked to the well-being and health of mother earth.

In her book “Colour of the Soul” author June McLeod explores how colour directly influences the way we feel. Our moods can change according to our surroundings and we may not even be aware of it. Colour therapy, as described by McLeod can be used to transform your life, by healing our body and soul.  It is no surprise that green is a powerful colour! Green is associated with the heart and when used as a healing colour brings the quality of balance. Green is associated with unconditional love, compassion, forgiveness and understanding. So how does one use colour therapy for healing? A simple way to experience the healing qualities of colour, is to wear it or use it in your home décor.  As each colour has something to offer, you would first want to refer to her charts to determine which colour/s you need to add into your life.

Kermit The Frog

Image by Eva Rinaldi Celebrity and Live Music Photographer

Wasn’t it Kermit the frog who said “It’s not easy being green”?  I think it would be fair to say that we all need a little more green in our lives.

Get your green on!

Creatively yours,


Creatively Yours: Connecting the Dots

Heart us

image by amountofcoffee, from Flickr

You may have noticed something new about our blog in 2012. We are connecting the dots! Laurie, Elizabeth and I have decided to build upon each other’s ideas, and so when Laurie asked if you are grateful for your slow cooker, she was connecting to the idea of gratitude. Clever! And that is how conversation goes; we start off talking about one thing and end up talking about something completely different. As I don’t have any good recipes to share, I will let the slow cooker cook, and begin a new conversation on some upcoming events in February.

First off, February is heart month. That is a nice way to get us thinking about Valentine’s Day. Believe it or not, I heard a radio announcer the other day reminding men to remember the date (not once but twice in the same day).  Having just been to the grocery store, I don’t know how anyone could forget.  And then last but not least, there is Family Day, which is that nice extra holiday we get to spend with our families in Ontario. To my way of thinking, these three events cover some very important aspects of our lives: health, love and sense of belonging.

What will you do this February for your health, love and family?

LOVE to hear from you!

Creatively yours,


Creatively Yours: Before the clock strikes 12!

shirley temple new year 1937

image by carbonated, from flickr

The count down is on – three more days and the New Year will be here!  I don’t know about you, but I for one don’t spend much time thinking about New Year’s resolutions. I might pick one thing I want to focus on and in 2011 it was happiness! I started the year off by reading Gretchen Rubin’s book The Happiness Project and made myself a promise to “work” at being happier. According to Gretchen there are things we can do to create more happiness in our lives. I tried some of her suggestions but then decided that I would find my own path to happiness. As the year passed I found myself more aware of what created happiness in my life. A few key things that I am certain increased my happiness quotient this year are:

Peace in my relationships with my husband, children, family and friends. It takes work but it pays dividends!

Getting off the couch and getting regular exercise – walking is my new sport of choice!

Getting involved with a cause I believe in – Art for Cancer

Making art! Any day is a good day when I create something!

Spending time alone, or in the company of my dog Jessie.

Saying yes to new challenges like biking, hiking and riding horses even when my mind and body agree: “this is going to hurt afterwards.”

Writing for this blog!  I could never have guessed that I would enjoy writing as a creative outlet!

Writing letters to my children!  See my October 24, 2011 blog post Letters from my Mother for why you might want to consider doing this.

Rediscovering meditation – the ultimate gateway to happiness!

So rather than thinking about resolutions for 2012, I will ring in the New Year enjoying the happiness that I have right now. And that I believe creates more happiness than losing 10 pounds!

Wishing you all a healthy and happy New Year!

Creatively yours,


p.s. if  you want to know the one thing I will focus on for 2012, you will have to read about it in January!

Gifts for the Person Who Has Everything!

Pine cone ornament
It’s that time of year again; shopping, wrapping, eating, drinking (responsibly), partying, scurrying about and relaxing in front of the fire. The Christmas and holiday season is upon us again!  And as you are likely too busy to read anything lengthy and philosophical (I’ll save that for New Years), I thought I would start a list of gift ideas for the person who has everything. Here are 12 ideas to get you started, and out of the malls.

  1. A book – easy to order on line. The Gift of Nothing by Patrick McDonnell is a little book I recommend which reminds us that friendship is a gift in and of itself.
  2. A Christmas Tree Ornament- simple! It marks the passage of time and tests our memory of who gave it to us.  It becomes especially meaningful when that person is no longer here.
  3. A bag of homemade goodies along with the recipe – a gift that lasts for generations!
  4. Soothing bath salts and creams – always nice to have!
  5. A Christmas card with a picture of family and friends – something to put into our empty photo albums, now that all are pictures are digital (you can order them on line).
  6. Anything handmade – made by the giver.
  7. A  hand written note or letter – a lost art.
  8. A CD – Michael Buble’s Christmas Album is awesome!
  9. Tickets to the movies or theatre from the person you are going to go with – a win-win!
  10.  Coupons for breakfast in bed, vacuuming the house, taking the garbage out, walking the dog…the possibilities are endless.
  11. A new or old, favorite game – brings family and friends together.
  12. A re-gift gift. Something totally useless that has clearly been passed around a few times. HoHoHo! The gift that keeps on giving!

So, if you haven’t found the perfect gift for the person who has everything on my list, I invite you to add your own gift suggestions to the list in the comments section!

Hold the wrapping paper, and let’s have a green Christmas!

Creatively yours,

Short Bread - Mom's

Making and doing

Hi Everyone,

I follow quite a few blogs which are about garment sewing as a hobby.  These are generally by women who are interested in creating their own wardrobes, sewn to fit properly and to complement their hair, complexion, and sense of style.  So they’ve thought a lot about what suits them, and what they need in their closets.  Turns out there is a wealth of info out there to help us understand how to build a wardrobe, whether we sew our clothing, or we buy it.

One of the blogs I read is by a New York City sewing pattern designer, Liesl.  Her company, called Lisette, creates patterns and fabrics for women and children.  Recently she posted about the fashion blogs she follows.  Here is her list.  Note she includes a blog I’ve mentioned to you before:  Advanced Style.  Check it out, it will make you happy.

Speaking of happiness, our creativity group got together the other day to make Christmas wreaths (the idea came from a pin on Pinterest, connected to this blog post).  Three out of four were completed in around two hours.  I didn’t get mine finished, but hope I will soon.  Feast your eyes on these three finished products:

Julie's wreath
Laurie's wreath
Dana's wreath

The use of non-breakable balls with attached top pieces (those eyes through which the string is attached) made these pretty breezy to make.  I especially like how each wreath speaks about the home decor of its maker.

Later this past week, Julie showed me the bows she made out of magazine pages.  She found this craft through Pinterest, as well (here’s a link to the original blog post with instructions).  Here’s a photo of Julie’s bows, snapped on top of her trumpet case.  Of course, I went straight home and made a bow myself.  Paper, scissors and glue:  I’ll never get over you.

Julie's magazine page bows

So ladies and gents, what have your own busy hands been up to lately?

Bye for now,


P.S. Go back to this blog post if you’re wondering about this Pinterest thing.