Over the past year, I have become such a huge fan of the Around The World Stories. I feel a strong connection with Tania and Matthew, the mom and dad behind this wonderful project who embraced their dream of traveling around the world with their children. This family inspires me. I admire their leap of faith and their trust in their intuition that the path they have chosen for their family is the right one to pursue. They remind me that we are more free than we think we are. Sometimes our dreams are beckoning to us and we CAN follow.
Tania and Matthew have produced delightful audio stories from the places they have visited around the world, stories that ignite curiosity and wanderlust in children and instill a sense of value in the diversity of other cultures. These are beautiful lessons for our children to learn. I highly recommend checking our their excellent audio stories. Tania and Matt are offering you a free story today to listen to and enjoy with your family. The story is called Oma’s Birthday Watch. It’s about Germany, nature, family and kindness. Just click here to listen!
Here is Tania to give us a glimpse into the experiences of her traveling family…
Unexpected life lessons while on the road
Sometimes turning life upside down teaches us some very important things. Last summer we sold almost everything we owned, my husband quit his secure job and we left the country to begin our dream of starting our company, Around the World Stories, and traveling around Europe with our three girls. It was scary and wonderful and we are learning so much each and every day. Here are three things that we’ve learned that have changed my outlook on everything.
When we started this trip I felt like we needed to see it all. If we visited a city and didn’t see the ‘Top 10’ most important sites, I felt like we were missing the point of traveling. What I’ve learned is that the opposite is actually true. When we would try and do everything, our kids, either by their words or actions, would tell us to slow down! So we started choosing just a couple of special sites, spending time there, learning about them and being present in that moment. When we put our energy into one thing rather than spread it out over many, we are much happier and get so much more out of the experience. Sometimes we’ll stay at one monument for the afternoon having a picnic and talking, sometimes we’ll sit and listen to a street musician or we’ll linger in just one room of an art museum for hours. I’ve learned that slowing down brings us true joy and lets us get the most out of the experience.
I believe that slowing down applies to many things, not just travel. Shorten the to-do lists and focus on what’s right in front of us. Changing my outlook and slowing down has allowed me to find so much more joy in the present moment.
Small acts of kindness make all the difference
Sometimes it’s easy to forget this one. When we are settled somewhere we often get used to doing things on our own, being self-sufficient. But as we travel, we often need help from others. We have felt alone and unsure, and in those moments I’ve realized over and over how others’ acts of kindness can truly make a difference in our lives.
Once a complete stranger took the time to write us a two-page email describing all the best places to visit in Copenhagen after a short meeting on the street. We had a shop owner go upstairs to his home and give us his own firewood so that we could make a fire on a chilly night. Throughout these past months, we’ve had countless people go out of their way to help us get where we needed to go. Once a woman even took me in her car, drove me to the grocery store, walked through the store with me to translate everything and then drove me home! Even something as small as a kind note from one of our subscribers has often made our day. Experiencing the goodness of others has truly been one of the greatest blessings of this trip.
The little stuff is the big stuff
After nine months I can very clearly see some of the absolute best moments of our trip so far. We have of course loved walking through the streets of the big cities, visiting the famous monuments and important museums. But when I really think about the best moments, it’s the small ones that stick out in my mind — the times we spent telling stories over a fun breakfast, building stone piles in the creek, playing cards on the train or football on the beach. We smile about the time our girls created a beautiful story about a stone or when we rescued the lizard from the pool. We talk about when the girls ordered ice cream in German for the first time and how much they loved eating spaghetti ice cream. I’m looking for (and finding) more joy and beauty in all the small things than I ever have before. I enjoy the quiet of the night sky. I linger over my cup of tea. I appreciate our walks on the beach. I take the time to pause and take notice of the small things. And those small things truly fill my cup in a way I hadn’t felt before.
We spend our days writing stories. We love what we’re doing, and being able to share our stories has become one of our greatest joys. We write about other countries, cultures, foods and festivals, but we also write about kindness, generosity, honesty and bravery. We hope our stories inspire children to learn more about other cultures and to embrace the differences between people to ultimately help them become compassionate world citizens.
We’d love to give you a free story today to listen to and enjoy with your family. The story is called Oma’s Birthday Watch. It’s about Germany, nature, family and kindness. Just click here to listen!
If you don’t yet subscribe to our stories, we’d love for you to visit us at www.aroundtheworldstories.com and to have you along on our adventure!
I’ve taken some videos from our winter here in New Hampshire and thought you might like to get a glimpse into how magical it’s been for us.
I haven’t really shared video here before and cringe a little at my voice and tone of excitement… I just can’t seem to be calm when the snow is falling… ha ha! The first couple don’t have sound.
The other day, we had gorgeous BIG snowflakes that fell all day long. The kids were super excited to get the ‘snow day’ call from school and spent the day playing and skating in the snow. I’ve spent my time watching it fall. Watching snow fall is my favorite thing to do these days. You’d think it would get old but it hasn’t.
We started to feel sorry for the birds as the snow covers all the ground and grasses and we were wondering where they get their food from. So, we put out a treat for them… a seed bell and a tray of apple pieces.
Who was first to the feast? You guessed it… Mr Squirrel!
Mr Cat can now be found at the kitchen window, trying to shoo Mr Squirrel away from the bird treats. There is an ongoing dispute between the birds and the squirrel and, now, the cat! Watching the shenanigans at the kitchen window is one of my favorite things to do.
Snow sometimes swirls around like glitter in the air.
For all our friends who don’t get snow, I can’t tell you how exciting it is for the kids when they get the early morning call letting them know that school has been cancelled. They whoop and holla and run around the dining room table chanting ‘snow-day, snow-day’!
Here are my little bird friends, feasting in the snow.
Yesterday was windy and COLD… but the boys braved the sledding hill again. I sat this one out in the car… but loved it all the same.
Blessings and magic,
With all the personal difficulties of the second half of last year, choosing a winner for the 2016 Fairy Garden Contest seemed almost impossible. How could I indulge in wonder when my heart was so heavy with worry and sadness? So, I set it aside for a time when felt I could welcome magic back into my life.
Yay… that time is now!
I’ve chosen a winner.
It was a very difficult task as there were many outstanding gardens. But, in the end, childhood magic won the day and Lea and Ryan’s garden nestled itself deep into my heart.
Isn’t it magical! It has fairies, pebble paths, painted fairy houses, sparkles, moss everywhere, pine cones, pretty flowers, handmade fairy furniture and so many other delightful fairy garden details.
The winners are sister and brother duo, Lea and Ryan. What a truly magical garden they made. They sent so many beautiful photos of whimsy, creativity and imagination and I’ve featured them all on my Fairy Garden site. Pop on over there to see the garden in full… and to see the amazing prizes Lea and Ryan have won.
I’ll be announcing the other 5 winners over the next few days… so be sure to stay tuned.
Blessings and magic,
Teddy and his friends play out in the snow for hours each day. When they come inside at last, when the sun is setting and the night is creeping in, they all have rosy cheeks and frozen hands that they need to warm up, pronto. I have a little trick to help them.
Together, we made sweet heart hand warmers out of an old cashmere sweater that had a little moth damage.
The hearts are filled with wheat berries and essential oil. We pop them in the microwave for a minute or so and they become the perfect little things for warming chilly fingers, fast.
These cashmere heart hand warmers are super easy to make and a wonderful Valentine’s craft for you and your little Valentines to enjoy together.
Materials Needed to Make a Cashmere Heart Hand Warmer :
– A cashmere sweater, ready for recycling (thrift stores are a good place to find them)
– Wheat berries (from grocery stores, craft stores or pet shops)
– Needle & thread
– Pencil & paper
– Sharp scissors
Here’s How To Make Cashmere Heart Hand Warmers :
Tip :: Here is an easy cheat-sheet for you to pin to Pinterest so that you can find this tutorial later when you are looking for it. Trust me… half my time is spent looking for tutorials on Pinterest!
First, we felt the cashmere sweater by popping it into the washing machine. Add detergent and wash it on the HOT cycle. The detergent and HOT water will shrink the cashmere, weaving the fibers tightly together and making the cashmere easy to work, sew and craft with and making sure the yarn doesn’t unravel when cut.
After washing it, put the cashmere sweater into the dryer on the HOTTEST setting you have. This hot drying cycle will felt the cashmere fibers even more.
Draw a heart shape on a piece of paper. Draw your heart about 4 inches in diameter… just the right size to warm a little fingers.
Cut out your paper heart with sharp scissors.
Pin the heart onto the recently felted sweater with a needle. Use this paper heart as a stencil to cut a few heart shapes from the wool.
Each hand warmer will need two cashmere heart shapes that you will sew together.
TIP :: If you feel up to the challenge, I will share a shortcut I devised to speed this stage up a little (I had a long list little boys who requested heart hand warmers!). I drew and cut out half a heart from the paper and then folded the cashmere in half too, pinning the heart to the center fold in the cashmere. I cut around the heart on the doubled up felt, leaving the centerfold intact, so that when I un-pinned it and opened it up, I had a beautiful cashmere heart.
Put two cashmere hearts on top of each other. Sew them together around the outside with a simple embroidery stitch, leaving about half an inch open at the base of the heart that we will use to fill with wheat berries. Please don’t get too worked up about the neatness of your sewing… as long as your stitches are even, your edges will look perfect when your heart hand warmers are done.
Tip :: Do not cut the thread short… leave a good amount of thread loose that you can use for closing the heart’s opening later.
Slowly and with care, turn the heart inside out by pushing the top of the heart through the un-sewed opening you left for the wheat berries.
Look at your edges now. They are neat and tidy and look like they have been perfectly sewn. Ha! Well done!
Fill the heart with wheat berries.
Tip :: For added yumminess, put a few drops of your favorite essential oil onto the wheat berries before putting them into the hearts. This will ensure that yours will be the best smelling cashmere hand warmer hearts in town! In my home, our oil of the moment is On Guard… a protective blend that is an immune booster and has so far kept me and my little ones flu free this whole winter long. Did you know that I’m a doTerra Wellness Advocate? If you want to chat with me about how oils can help your family, please don’t hesitate to contact me. If you want to simply buy an essential oil (like On Guard) or find out more about why I love doTerra oils, I have a whole PAGE full of oil information.
Stuff your cashmere heart well, using your forefinger to gently push the wheat berries into the heart. The plumper you can get your heart, the better it will look and feel to those cold little hands.
With the cashmere heart stuffed with wheat berries, sew the opening closed using the loose thread you left earlier.
Voila! The best smelling, most immune boosting, cashmere heart hand warmers in the world.
Now, when Teddy and the boys come in from playing in the snow, I have these hand warmers warm and ready, waiting for frozen little fingers to warm.
The boys have even taken to warming them up and stuffing them into their pockets to warm their hands on the go.
Your little ones will be glad for this fun and loving Valentines Day craft.
Blessings and magic,