In another life time I wanted to be a Sister of Charity. I went so far as to write a letter asking for acceptance into their circle of love and poverty. The letter went unsent but I did carry it around with me for over a year in high school. Leaving the continent appealed to me as much as the simplicity of owning only a bowl and spoon. My chances of acceptance into their circle are now slim but I still think of Mother Theresa fondly and these might be her finest words. Simple and profound. Inspiring and motivating – even when you might feel there isn’t much you can give the world. When the pain and hurt seems so far beyond your small offering there are still small acts of love and kindness.  Holding open a door, offering a cup of coffee, stoping to smile and listen. In the fray of life, love is our greatest gift and in this season, how good it is to remember.

small things great love3

small things great love2



small things great love1


Double clicking on each image will take you right to the source.  They are instant downloads since time is running out before gift giving!










Design icon Dorothy Draper said “If it looks right, it is right.” This is perfect to remember when stuck in the worry of indecision. I see clients question what looks good a lot – agonizing over every little decision. Part of that is the normal decision making process but part of it is a lack of freedom to do whatever you love. And to let what you love be right.


Draper believed that bright colors would make people happier and she encouraged housewives of the fifties to paint with colors they loved. If you want a bright color door – go for it. If you want a bright colored sofa – go for it. Her advice is just as relevant today. We are inundated with photos of what other people do, which is amazing inspiration, but at the end of the day – all that matters is if you think it looks right. “If (you think) it looks right, it is right!”




I love this little sign that I walked by last week, so well made for such good advice. (Yes, I know it’s from Matthew 5:16; I remember my Bible verses all these years later.) It’s a beautiful expression, no matter who you are glorifying in the end. Dorothy would give her stamp of approval.



left: draper; right: let your light shine downloadable print


Your light is how you see things and what is beautiful to you.  Your home is a great place to let it shine and remember – your light is the right light!








When my Nana died, my sisters and I went with my mom to clean out her place in Northern Pennsylvania. We didn’t know my Nana well, but we discovered things about her life through her belongings. mel&momWe found amazing orange and brown plaid outfits, we found gorgeous lace nightgowns that had belonged to her mother. In my Nana’s bedroom, I picked up the cutest little tchotchke and showed it to my mom. I couldn’t have been more surprised when she said “Oh, I made that in college.” My mother did not exactly raise us to do arts & crafts, and yet here was a meticulously crafted project that she herself had made. It was still bright and cheerful looking after many, (many) years.

I love it for two reasons. I love thinking of my mom as a young girl, carefully stringing countless tiny beads onto wire, over and over again and then shaping those wires into happy daisies. I wonder what music she was listening too and the friends she was with. And then I love the fact that my Nana kept this small labor of love safe throughout her life. Now it sits on my bookshelf, a little reminder of the women and the stories from which I come. – Mel


mom's flowers


My maternal grandmother is notorious as an enthusiastic (and often hilarious) storyteller. Though she’s been known to be more concerned with style than historical accuracy, her real talent is persistence. Many a gathering has ended hours later than anticipated while waiting for my grandmother to finish telling her story. mom&gracePerhaps not surprisingly, my own mother is a much more reluctant storyteller. In my teens and twenties I would sometimes press her for details on her life at my age. Occasionally she would capitulate to my exhortations, but she was equally likely to respond with claims of memory loss, or with vague generalizations.
Recently, on a trip to visit my parents, my mother and I were co-conspirators in a surprise for my father. We took advantage of his absence one evening to dust off several old boxes in search of some specific photographic evidence. No doubt prompted by the slides and photos we were sorting through, my mother told me story after story about their early life together. I saw pictures of her while pregnant with my older sisters, pictures of a garden or a dog they once had, and of her and my father with long hair. Best of all, I got to hear some small piece of her story told to me her own voice. – Grace







the design above is borrowed some from cards I made at this time last year to remind myself that winter – in the world or in the soul – is not unconquerable.


From absurdist philosopher Albert Camus, one of my very favorite quotes. The philosophy of the absurd is concerned with what it sees as the essential paradox of human existence: the struggle to find meaning in human life given our own mortality. Some thinkers in this tradition embrace nihilism; not Camus, who believed that despite our own very real and certain mortality, it is possible to find and embrace meaning in human experience.


Admittedly, I find this increasingly challenging every year come February. There is something about this short month that feels very long and bleak, especially here in Ottawa (Canada), the land of snow! Recently, when I was starting to feel that sense of futility – that the cold was beating me and might even go on forever – I had the most beautiful winter experience.


A short drive from Ottawa in Chelsea, Québec is Le Nordik, a gorgeous scandinavian-style outdoor spa. I went on a quiet and snowy February evening. There were mountains of snow in the woods surrounding the baths, and it was snowing those gloriously perfect large fluffy snowflakes. Very late in the evening, I found myself in a large warm salt water pool at the edge of the resort. The mist rising off the water was so thick I couldn’t see to the other side. Floating on top of the salt water, I could feel the snow falling on me, and above me was a perfect (waxing gibbous) moon with the most beautiful winter halo encircling it. It was magical.



this beautiful limited edition poster by chelsea petaju of oh my deer is no longer available,
but please visit her etsy shop for more of her gorgeous quote prints.


It has been a cold, snowy winter for many of us this year. For some of you, spring really is just around the corner. Here in Ottawa, spring is not exactly around the corner, but we are still moving it its general direction!


Taken from his 1952 essay Return to Tipasa, I think it is worth sharing this extended passage, as it so eloquently elaborates this thought:


In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer. And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger – something better, pushing right back.


Also, please check out this web comic adaptation by Gavin Aung Than over at Zen Pencils in its entirety. So cute!