Thursday, January 23, 2014

Of gifts and gratitude

When I began blogging, I had few expectations. I hoped people would eventually find my blog and that a few would want to be regular readers. One year later, I've found this and more. I've been overwhelmed by the camaraderie I've found in the blogging community. I've made friends and I've learned a lot about many different kinds of crafts and artistic pursuits. My blog has become a source of comfort and happiness in my life, a place to write down my feelings, record beautiful sights and keep track of my days, however loosely. But blogging is a funny situation. I've read many people's ruminations on what a blog should be like, how much to share, whether we should write for ourselves or an audience. I'm still figuring it out. I try not to be negative here, but it happens sometimes - like the last time I posted. I was having a hard day and the subsequent two weren't so good either. And yet, I think blogs would be strange, unnatural places if we never shared anything but the happiest sentiments or experiences. I'm grateful when people say my blog is "real" - I personally think it's the highest praise a blogger can hope for.

Friendship has been the most unexpected outcome of blogging for me. It surprises me because I'm one of those people who has a few very good friends, as opposed to a wide social circle. I'm closer to people I've known since kindergarten than I am to almost anyone I've met as an adult. I don't meet many people who care about the same things I do, which makes me sad sometimes. But in blogging, I come across them all the time. I don't know exactly why this is; maybe maintaining a blog - writing thoughtfully, nurturing photography skills, sharing step-by-step how to cook or craft - attracts people with a certain set of values. Whatever the reason, I am so thankful for the kind people I have met and how they seem to know me, even without having all the details.

I've lately been the recipient* of several generous gestures of friendship from people I've met in the blogging community and I'd like to share them now.


Before Christmas, Jill from I Should Have Listened to My Mother had a giveaway. I was the lucky winner of this very generous Christmas-themed gift. Many of these items were a surprise; I think I knew I could win a fat quarter of Christmas fabric and a carved slate ornament. I was very excited when Jill notified me to say that I had won her giveaway. When I received my package in the mail, all the way from the UK, I was happy to find all these other goodies inside too. Jill sent a lovely hand-written card, toffee-fudge hot chocolate mix, a cookie-decoration kit, a small Santa-shaped tin of jellybeans and a small package of Lindor truffles (which happen to be one of my favorite treats). This was such a thoughtful giveaway prize and my whole family enjoyed opening the package and looking through the contents. We put the ornament on our tree right away and we look forward to using it every year. Thank you, Jill.


Also just before Christmas, I received a surprise package from Janine, of the blog Simple Things. Janine also lives in the UK. We have become friends through blogging and I was the winner of her Carry It Forward giveaway this summer. Janine sent me a package to thank me for being supportive of her blog. I was so touched by this. I didn't expect it, of course, but it made me so happy to know that I've affected her that way. I'm so thankful for Janine's thoughtful gift to my family. She sent crafty Christmas things for us to play with. There are styrofoam shapes, stars and reindeer, to paint or decorate in any number of ways. There are lots of stickers, Christmassy clips and a folding paper snowflake decoration. We had fun painting some of the foam shapes and we've saved some to work on next year too. The stickers will go on our kids' daily sticker charts at Christmas next year. Thank you so much, Janine.


Just after Christmas, I received another surprise package from the UK, this time from Leanne of Today's Stuff. I have felt for a long time that Leanne and I have a special bond. We seem to think about things in a similar way and I enjoy her very honest, matter-of-fact writing style. Leanne sent me a package of beautiful items and I was so touched by her thoughtfulness - she really does seem to know me because she sent things I would have made a beeline for if given the chance to choose them for myself. She sent me two tea towels, one with a beautiful matryoshka design and the other with a lovely sewing motif in a line-drawing style, complete with bunting. She also sent a lovely stitched fabric badge with a teacup, and two beautiful greeting cards - and chocolate for my children. I have to say that I was a bit overcome when opening this package and reading Leanne's note to me; I'm amazed at how well she knows me.


Here's a closer look at the tea towels and the teacup badge. They are absolutely beautiful and I love them all. I will use each item with pride and affection. Thank you so much, Leanne.


Also just after the holidays, I received a package from Hawaii, containing this beautiful little bracelet. It was made by Jayne of Bead Crumbs. Jayne is a very talented beader and jewelry maker. She has been very supportive of my blog and was one of my first followers too. Jayne had made some bracelets, like the one above, using tiny clay roses and leather. She offered them to her readers as a gift and I asked for one. I wanted to save it for when the Girl Bear gets a little older. It came in a pretty pink mesh bag with ribbon ties. The GB did see it when I opened the package but she doesn't know yet that it's for her. It's still too big for her now and I've put it away for safekeeping, but in a few years it will fit, and I'll be reminded of Jayne's kindness and generosity whenever I see it. Thank you, Jayne.


Finally, I received an incredible package from Linda of Chalky's World. This gift was meant to be a way of thanking me for having helped Linda with some blog-setup tasks when she made some changes recently. She said she wanted to thank me for helping, and I was sure anything she sent would be lovely, but I have to say I was completely taken aback by her generosity when the gift arrived. I was actually crying by the time I finished opening each small package in the envelope. Linda is another friend who knows me very well and I was so touched by this. She sent a beautiful embroidered pillow cover with crocheted trim, stationery, strawberry-themed items (I adore strawberries), a bookmark with my name on it, a beautiful pair of knitted fingerless gloves, and even gifts for each of my children.


Each item was individually wrapped, some with this darling matryoskha paper. There were dotty ribbons and twine and prettily-printed brown paper with French wording.


Linda sent each of my children a wrapped package with a lovely note attached. She sent the GB a little zippered plush bear purse, which she loves. She also sent them both stickers, and small packets of tissues, which they have placed in their schoolbags. The LB received an eraser from Japan, with the same Shinkansen train-related theme as his stickers. We're working on a thank-you letter for Linda from all three of us but we did want to share that he has been very interested in the Shinkansen train and Japan in general. To help him learn more, we've been in touch with a relative who lives and teaches English in Japan. Via Skype, he helped the LB learn to write and speak his name in Japanese. The writing has made slow progress but he's already a master at the spoken version!


Linda's fingerless gloves are just gorgeous. I've been wearing them all the time. They are soft and warm, and they fit perfectly. I love the little shell buttons she sewed on. They're pretty and delicate. I am honored to have such a beautiful handmade gift from a good friend. I should also say that Linda wrote me a lovely, long note, which had me a little emotional too. I admire Linda in so many ways - as a mother and wife, as well as in our shared history as teachers - and I am very grateful for her friendship and generosity. Thank you so much, Linda.

And thank you to all of my blogging friends for your friendship and support. I'm so glad to be part of this community.

*If you've been reading my blog for awhile, you know how much I adore receiving mail. I have shared photos of foreign postage and postmarks in the past, and I did photograph them all this time too, but I decided to hold the photos back. Some had personal info in the margins and didn't crop nicely. I didn't want to bore anyone either. Trust me - packages from the UK, and from Hawaii (my first ever!), brought all of the usual excitement.

37 comments:

  1. I totally agree with you Jennifer - blogging for me has brought so many new friends too and I'm so grateful for all the uplifting comments and words of inspiration I receive - it really brightens my day. I love that we can share all our ups and downs - as you say that's what 'real' people do. In the beginning I didn't think anyone would want to read what I wrote, let alone follow me. But after a few weeks people did find me and I'm so glad I stuck with it. I write for me, a kind of journal I guess but because I know its going to be read and hopefully enjoyed by people from all over the world - this makes it more motivational and satisfying. Well done on all your give-away prizes and gifts. There are indeed some lovely people about. Have a great weekend.
    Patricia x

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  2. I love your blog, Jennifer! When I come here to read I feel almost as if I'm in your home, cup of tea in hand, enjoying listening to you tell me about your day and all it has contained. You have some lovely gifts from the various giveaways. It's always so exciting to receive parcels in the post!

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  3. I've made some wonderful friends through blogging too, and it's such a blessing! I love that we meet people we would never otherwise come across. Your gifts are lovely!

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  4. Hi Jennifer What a lucky girl you are to have been given so many beautiful things all can say is you must be a special person to have so many lovely blogger friends who connect with you. Thank you for your kind message on my blog .......xx

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  5. Aren't bloggers just great? I wasn't sure what to expect when I joined in and wrote my first post, and have so enjoyed "meeting" people with like interests and idea, and with opposite interests and ideas!

    Lovely gift Jennifer, and even though the contents of the packages are wonderful, I know you appreciate the generous though and spirit that went into each one even more.

    Missy of "This N That" blog posted some info about a company that publishes your blog into a book format for a reasonable price. I'm considering it, because it is like a yearly journal.

    Happy continued blogging! :) Pam

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  6. Such a lovely post. Like you, I know very few people in "real" life who share my interests in crafts and the home - but there is a whole world out there of like-minded people, and it's lovely to be able to connect. x

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  7. What lovely little treasures. You are very lucky Jennifer. Blogging is a great community.

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  8. What lovely gifts, but I am not surprised people like to send you things! I love the honestly and reality in your blog, and I know exactly what you mean about not meeting people with similar interests locally. I've found exactly the same thing, and yet on line - there they all are, people who like exactly the same things. It's always a pleasure to read your blog Jennifer, and imagine you thousands of miles away, up in the high desert that is quite different to where I live, doing much of the same things that I do every day. Thank you for sharing your life. CJ xx

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  9. Jennifer,

    You are more than welcome!

    Leanne xx

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  10. How lovely -- all of them! Isn't this an amazing little part of the internet that we carve out for ourselves? It's such an incredible opportunity to connect with like-minded people that rarely end up being our real-life neighbors. And it's only been a year? You just wait -- it only gets better!

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  11. How lovely Jennifer so many beautiful and generous gifts, Linda is so kind she sent me some lovely things too. I know how you feel entirely, I too have a special bond with the people I knew from when I was younger, but very few people that I know share my interests or take much interest which makes me sad too, I think that's why the blogging world is so special, it reaches out to all corners of the globe and like minded people are drawn together through their interests. You have only been blogging a year and have so many followers already, that should tell you that your doing something right. :) xx

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  12. Such outstanding gifts from the heart friend! Just amazing! And I am totally the same way with friends...I have several very good friends and am just stunned by the connections I have made through blogging. I can't help but wonder if it has a lot to do with like mindedness....I feel a cool movement of bringing back traditions and cherishing the home through cooking, making, and crafting. I think so many of us care about the same things in that regard and I just love that about blogging. It is so funny but I even find more connections here than in the moms I see at the pool and in play groups. All the best you...thanks for keeping it real and it has been so fun to follow along! Nicole xoxo

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  13. Aw, how wonderful to see so many people feeling as I do!! You are so very welcome to our little gifts - there is a joy I feel in giving that I want my children to learn too. I've valued your little visits to my blog and your similar outlook has helped when I've felt a bit low or out of sync with friends that live near me. I write for me and honestly don't worry about the numbers - but it is nice that someone reads it - usually you - and connects across the miles!! I wish you, your family and your blog all the very best in 2014! J9 x

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  14. Wow, Jennifer.. you were given so many wonderful and thoughtful gifts!! You are loved! I feel a kinship with you also as I try to do an honest and real blog, too. I also think of you as a real and true friend. And I agree, blogging has opened up a whole new world of friendship! I'm off to the falls to volunteer.. ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

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  15. I just love blogging friends. I am always amazed at the generosity they show in forms of gift, kind words, shared patterns and recipes and sharing their lives. You have been blessed my friend, but it is because you bless others so much.
    Hugs,
    Meredith

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  16. How lovely! -Sweet gifts are always appreciated, and very thoughtful. I've had the pleasure of meeting some wonderful people through this blogging world. It's so nice building new friendships. Jayne, is a wonderful blogging friend, and I agree she is very supportive. Both you, and Jayne have left such kind comments. I appreciate your friendship!

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  17. Jennifer, as you would say to me, this is your space, write what you want, happy or otherwise. You are lovely, that is why people think that you are!! Just believe it. You are real here and that is all that anyone can ask really isn't it. Lovely kind and thoughtful things that people have sent you!! xx

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  18. Such lovely, thoughtful gifts. Blogging friendships are just so lovely aren't they?
    Marianne x

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  19. I just noticed your new blog design, it looks great! Blogging has brought me a number of great online friends too, I love it!

    Those gloves are beautiful, love the color!

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  20. I've learned to just be myself on my blog. Perhaps that's what people find attractive about your blog. You keep it real.

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  21. I love your blog Jennifer and you deserve all the gorgeous things you have received recently. Julie x

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  22. You always seem to know exactly what to write, that eminates so many thoughts of so many people. Love your blog and your relaxed style- it gives a sense of who you are. I really enjoy being part of the blogging world- it's great to find so many people who share the same pleasures. :)

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  23. How wonderful - you're a very lucky lady.
    Blogging has brought me some lovely friends, that I would otherwise have never met. I Love this community of generous, genuine, and creative people. xx

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  24. Enjoy each thoughtful and pretty gift, Jennifer! Our blogging buddies are true treasures in themselves!

    Poppy

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  25. All your gifts are beautiful. You are a lovely honest woman just reading your blog makes me so happy .Thank you

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  26. Such lovely, lovely things!! You deserve all of them Jennifer. I've been so glad to get to know you through blogging and enjoy our emails so much (even though I am a tardy responder...) I also received a package from Leanne and was over the moon. She is a good woman. x

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  27. Aw what lovely gifts! I like, you didnt expect much from blogging but have made some lovely bloggy friends and always enjoy reading your lovely blog x

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  28. What lovely thoughtful gifts Jennifer - yes, it's wonderful to be part of this blogging community - I'd be lost without all my lovely newfound friends! Hugs, Joy xo

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  29. You're a wonderful blogger and a beautiful person. I love your posts that are always so inspiring and helps me focus on the happy little things. Thank you Jennifer!

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  30. Such lovely gifts for you Jennifer, and your blog is real and love visiting here ☺
    My blog is really just my diary about what and where I have been or am doing.
    My family love it, another way they don't feel so far away from me ☺

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  31. Aren't blogging friends wonderful? You have received some gorgeous gifts, but even more special is the bond you form with like-minded women all over the world. :-)

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  32. just discovered your lovely blog today. bloggy friends are awesome and very generous.

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  33. Wow. You are one lucky girl and how generous of yrour friends... How happy!

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  34. Wow you got some amazing gifts my dear and all very well deserved. You also said what I was trying to say in a very rushed post the other day in such and amazing way. I agree that it's so hard tower like minded people when you get older and somehow blogland dies just that. Aren't we lucky living in today's world where we can live and inspire each other without having met, it's very special indeed. Xoxo

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  35. Such a lovely post. I think you've certainly had a very productive and rewarding first year of blogging! it looks like you've made some great friends and really put your heart and soul into your blog. It's lovely to read and I want to thank you for taking the time to leave such nice comments on my blog regularly too. xxx

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  36. Jennifer, you are a very lucky girl! Blog friends are really the best. I have made some special friends through blogging, and you happen to be one of them! One in particular I had the opportunity to chat with on the phone which was really nice. It would be great if we could all meet in "real life!"

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  37. Jennifer, I'm so glad you've discovered how real and special are the friendships we make through blogging. Since I started my blog 3 years ago I've got to know some really wonderful people and have even met a couple in real life.

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