Makes Me Happy Monday ; Outdoors In

The thin sliver of glass
that separates controlled humidity
from the wild, blue open
is an invisible barrier.

My inside world is laden with nature.
I choose to fill my home with colors, textures and objects
that blur the line between
outdoors and indoors.

I often find gifts from creation
that have an unusual color, shape or feature …
so I pick them up and bring them inside.

I love the way this oak gift dried open and flat
with her sweet little acorns scattered along the main stem.

So, I picked her up and brought her inside.
Oak love with acorns

Often, my stick and root finds
make their way into artwork.
This brings me such contentment.

My favorite pieces always have elements of nature incorporated into them.

A photo posted by Karen Cason (@karen_lee_cason) on

These branches are grand.
One has great movement
with branches that twist to the side
rather than reaching straight out.
And the one in the foreground ….
has lovely little buds.

I brought them in, too.

Tree parts to be admired

Some of my branches have found a home above.
This is my office/art space ceiling.
It is vaulted so there is space for a canopy of twigs.My office/art space ceiling

Dried orchid blooms
and still-green-oak leaves sit beside sticks and reindeer moss.

Oak leaf treasure

A bowl cradles Sycamore fruit.

Sycamore balls in a bowl

A pine cone from a long ago adventure
rests on a tray.

Pinecone on the dinner table

What once was a single jar ….

#amber #rock #words #branches #quiet #still Happy Monday.

A photo posted by Karen Cason (@karen_lee_cason) on

has become a trifecta of collected beauty.

Tiny stick bouquets

And this tiny bowl
holds a broken piece of beauty
that I adore.
Small. Unevenly spaced. And intricate.
I look at it often when I sit at the table to dine.
And it makes me so happy.
I will definitely work her into a tiny piece of art …
a little, bitty, tiny work of art.
Stick love in a clay dish

Here’s the thing …
you have to know yourself
to know what makes you happy.
You have to separate yourself from the
things you’ve been told about
who you are,
what you should like
and what you should do …
to really consider
what brings you joy.
What makes your heart sing?
What makes your soul dance?

Give it some thought.

Then begin to surround yourself
with the things and the people
that bring you the greatest joy!

This morning, I am reminded
that nature makes me happy.

What brings you joy on this marvelous Monday morning?


Makes Me Happy Monday ; Being Happy with Being Alone

You know what really made me happy recently?

Being okay with being alone.
No, actually ….  being HAPPY about being alone
made me happy.

Jason Mraz came to Augusta to serenade us with his lyrics, tunes and instruments.
He has been one of my favorite musicians for years and years. As soon as the tickets went on sale, I grabbed one.

One ticket.

So, I would leave my house alone.
I would arrive alone.
I would stand in line alone.
And I would sit and listen and soak in the beauty … alone ….
in a crowd of 2,000.

The Jessye Norman Amphitheater beginning to fill as we wait for Jason Mraz

After years of being a homeschool family of five that did everything together
to being a family of 2-3 after a kid and husband moved out
to now being a family of two in the house (just me and the youngest),
life continues to change.
And the youngest often has to work in the evenings, so we don’t get to do things together.
So, now, it’s most often …..  just me.

For years I dreamed about when the children move out and move on
and I would be able to fully and totally focus on my spouse again.
How could I bless him? What would make him happy? What would be fun for him?
I was SO looking forward to being a married couple with freedom to go and do
and enjoy what we WANTED to do
rather than what family-life dictated.
I find myself instead alone to go and do.

And you know what? It’s been wonderful.

I’ve dated some since becoming single.
Being in a relationship – whether married or not – is complicated and a great deal of work.
But right now ….
I don’t have to worry if my outfit will please the man I’m with,
or if I’ll say something that will be upsetting to the balance (or lack thereof) in the air,
or if my stopping to talk to a friend for ten minutes
or snap a half-dozen pictures
will be considered irritating.

I can go where I want,
do what I want
and know that I don’t have to fret over upsetting anyone.
This is bliss, I tell you.  Pure, unadulterated, wonderfully-freeing bliss.

So, I arrived early (because I didn’t have to wait for anyone).
I stood in line and chatted with those in front of me and behind me.
I EASILY found a seat near the front because I just needed space for my one little fanny
not two or three or five of them. Waiting for Jason Mraz to play at the Jessye Norman Amphitheater

While we waited for the stage to be taken,
I found myself in wonderful conversation with all of those around me.
The couple beside me was from Charleston (where James now lives)
but just moved there from Raleigh (where Glory now lives).
I discussed what makes a good BBQ sandwich with the couple to my right
as they sucked BBQ sauce off their dripping fingers
having just brought down two HUGE BBQ sandwiches from a vendor.
Another couple was there from out-of-town with their awesome son
who had met and played guitar with Jason at another concert
and had nothing but kind things to say about Jason, his talent and his spirit.

We watched ominous clouds
roll past in the distance
and I prayed they could stay in the distance
and they did. Praise God.

Clouds filled the sky as we waited to hear Jason Mraz play at the Jessye Norman Amphitheater

As Jason played, boats meandered in and kayaks followed.
There were kids and dogs and cool-down splashes and  ….
it was just so neat!
Jason even played to the crowd to his rear
that were privy to his waterside tunes for free.
He turned to them and spoke to them and sang to them from time to time.
He was so gracious!

Jason Mraz playing at the Jessye Norman Amphitheater

As the sun began to set, I snuck down to the stage and snapped a few shots
of the golden light
and the calm.
It was ethereal to me … poetic and dreamy and so easy.

Jason Mraz playing at the Jessye Norman Amphitheater

This being alone just gets easier
as I relax and become more me than I’ve ever been …
more me than who someone else wants me to be
and more me than the me that I thought I should be
before he and she and them
began to impress upon me
that I was too much of this
or too little of that.

It’s a new freedom and I love it.

Jason Mraz playing at the Jessye Norman AmphitheaterSo, bring on the solo concerts.
Bring on the solitary kayak trips and independent camping trips.
Bring on the stag social events and the solitary moves.
And bring on the days and nights of being the only one in my home.
I’m ready for them.
I’m excited for them.
And I’m so very happy to be alone.

What about you?
What makes you happy this marvelous Monday morning?


Makes Me Happy Monday ; Nippon Condiment bowl

There is always a “to go” bag near my door for donations. I will swing it by Goodwill or Julie’s House Thrift Store when it gets full. I downsized a LOT (probably by 3/4 of my belongings) when I moved a little over a year ago, but I still have too much (or it HAS ME, as the philosophy goes).

And I don’t yard sale or thrift shop much any more. I have an on-going list of things I’d love to have … most of which are power tools, if I’m totally honest. I keep this list above my desk and add to it as something new comes up that I know would be super helpful in my creating endeavors. When I find that I need something time  and time again (like the palm-sander!! I NEED), I plan it for next month’s budget.


My new home is much smaller than the house we left last February. So, the things that are decorative have fewer spots to be displayed. Thus, there are fewer of them.

A few weeks ago, I was downtown at one of my favorite plunder shops, Ray’s Estate Sales, when I spied this beautiful little treasure.

Nippon China Condiment Bowl

I didn’t buy it immediately because ….
I didn’t “need” it.
But, after I left the shop, I couldn’t get it off my mind.
I love the shape, the color, the design and the sweet feel of this beautiful ceramic china.
After days of remembering, I messaged Ray and asked him to set it aside for me
and when he opened back up (he’s only open a few weekends a month),
When he was open next, I dropped by to pick it up.

Nippon China Condiment bowl

A little research tells me that Nippon is the Japanese name for Japan. And this style bowl set is marketed as being a mayonnaise bowl … but …. I don’t think of mayonnaise as being a Japanese staple. Am I wrong? I’ve seen this bowl also called a condiment bowl, which makes a little more sense.

But, whatever others call it, I call it stunning.

Nippon China Condiment bowl

I won’t use it for condiments or mayonnaise very often. More than likely, it will be filled with acorns or some nature treasures
or it will simply sit empty on my shelf to be adored.

Just look at that pretty hand-painted edge!
This style of painting is actually one that I use in my own artwork at times. I like really loose color with broken, fine, loose lines to give the illusion of an outline. I’m really just learning how to paint this way (with watercolor and usually black pen). It’s a strong contrast to my patterned, heavily textured, mixed media acrylic work.

Nippon China Condiment bowl

It’s a tiny thing …. painted bone china, fired and antique ….
but it makes me happy.

Nippon China Condiment bowl

As always, my reason in sharing some little something in my life
that makes my heart feel happy
is to spread a little joy
and challenge you to find beauty in the little things
that surround you in your every day life.

May your Monday be wildly blessed
and graciously lovely.
What makes YOU happy this marvelous Monday morning?

Nippon China Condiment bowl

I painted my guitar!

I sanded her first.

Sanding my guitar #paintedguitar

It’s an amazing thing, really. It didn’t bother me that I might “mess her up.” I didn’t care. It was worth the risk. I felt pretty confident that the after would be better than the before.

You see,
I own two guitars … but I don’t play often.
Years ago, I committed to playing 15 minutes a day.
After spending about six months playing these few minutes a day,
I realized that I should stop working at something that I want to do
….. but don’t do well …….
and spend my time focusing on what do well.
I put my guitar down … for the time being.

My sweet worn neck #paintedguitar

A few years ago, I loaned her to a friend who
lovingly played her
for enough time
that she became the best kind of worn.
As the Skin Horse told the Velveteen Rabbit,

“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real, you can’t be ugly … except to people who don’t understand.”

Yes. My guitar became realer when she lay in the hands of my friend, Travis
who played her often and played her well.
I’ll forever treasure those shallow trenches love made.

This is one of my favorite little snippets that he put on Instagram … playing my girl.

After I sanded, I traced her shape on a pieced together piece of paper.

Outlining #paintedguitar


I hung up that blank, empty outline
right there in my office/art area
where I could see it daily …
pondering what patterns might fill that fresh, clean space.

My youngest – whom I shall now call Indie, rather than Joy, to honor the determined, independent spirit locked within that earthly body – teased me.

“Mom, You sanded down your guitar before you had any kind of idea what you would paint on it?” Why, yes. Yes, I did, thank you.

Sometimes, you have to courageously step out and create a beginning
before you have a vision of what the end will look like.

My favorite tissue paper #depoupage #paintedguitar

Then, one day it came.
The most pressing of the design came from a painting that I created a few years ago and remains one of my favorites because of the movement – and the subject.
Can you see it over behind the posable mannequin?
Leaves attached to undulating stems.

#pattern #paintedguitar
I taped and then painted off and on for an entire weekend
with my palette of autumn
leaving plenty of room for drying between layers.

#painted guitar

The little bit of tissue paper glued into place just below the sound hole is one of the few pieces I have left from a package of tissue paper I bought at least a decade (or two?) ago.

#paintedguitar #decoupage #tissuepaper

To think that I lavishly used it in presents that I GAVE AWAY …. unsettles my heart today. I love that paper. I love the design, the words, the dribbles, the color, the flowers …. and there are only a few square inches left. *sigh* So, I decoupaged it right upon my guitar so that I might have at least a sliver to enjoy for many, many years to come.

#paintedguitar #leaves #decoupage #foliage

This little shape is one of my favorites
so I built a stencil and used it to create many pieces
to decoupage onto the guitar.

When I finished my little stack of cut-paper leafed sticks,
I got teary.
Why they moved me, I don’t know.
But, they did and they do.
I think they’re stunning. #absolutlybeautiful

And there they will remain … glued into place
right beside Thomas Edison
who is quoted as saying
I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.

He is one of my heroes. He was a man who wasn’t afraid to fail …
and actually saw failure
as one step closer to success.
#sorefreshing #attitudegoals


The design above right to the left of the sound hole
is one of my favorites. I used something similar to it on my painted boots, as well.
I really love it!

BedStu hand painted boots

And on the neck, I added lyrics from the pen of Robert Lee Castleman
and sung by the haunting voice of Alison Krauss 
while accompanied by Union Station
in the song Gravity.
These words resonate with my soul … like no other line I’ve ever read
from a book,
within a poem
or in a song.
They read from the sound hole of the guitar
up the neck
because that is the direction that the emotion of the music moves … up, out and beyond.

“All the answers that I started with …. 
turned out questions in the end.” 

I have a much nicer guitar, but this inexpensive China-made Gremlin has been my favorite. I bought it at a yard sale across the street from my house in Valdosta for $40 … about 18 years ago. I think it’s more comfortable to play than my other instrument and I love the mellow, rich sound. Honestly, I wasn’t sure if changing the finish by layering on paint, paper and glue would change how it sounded, but I was willing to take the risk. I’ve come to truly understand that all these things we collect and love … are just things. So … why not? The potential for the joy it would bring far outweighed the risk of messing it up!


After sanding, gluing and painting, I coated the top with four or five layers of satin polyurethane ….


and I love her.

After re-stringing came the big test; would she still sound yummy and rich?
Here, Indie plays just a little bit. Her sound is still the same; beautiful!




I am beyond pleased.

May your weekend

May your weekend
be just what you need ….
whether your hours are mapped out with commitments
or you are left to your own devices,
may you find a way to see the beauty
and experience the joy
that refreshes your soul.


{{{hugs}}}, blessings & peace to you,


Makes Me Happy Monday ; Paper Craft

I can’t stop crying.
And it’s wonderful.

I spent years and years stuffing my emotions
because they made some people uncomfortable.

It was made known to me that I was too emotional.
There was no arm-around-the-shoulder, “Awww, come here.”
I received more of a “You’re crazy. Stop being emotional” response.

So, I learned to hold it in.
and I was proud of myself.
I could keep myself together in any situation.

Anybody could say or do whatever they wanted.
I wouldn’t cry. I wouldn’t get emotional. I’d just keep going.
You could even walk out on me and leave me all alone …
and I’d just keep moving ahead. No tears.
I was a well-conditioned machine …. numb.
It’s tragically sad, really.

But, oh how weary and dull that leaves us …. living like zombies going through life.
But, God is ever-so-gently tearing down more walls. I am grateful.

As I worked last weekend on a project, I chose to add some decoupaged little foliage in patterned paper. I knew the shape I wanted. So, I drew out the shape, drew it onto a piece of plastic and formed myself a little stencil.


I cut out the stencil and began working on making a small handful of these precious little shapes for my project.

Paper cuting

In the most giddy sort of way, I got so excited. I’m not sure why but I LOVE this shape. It really makes me happy.

As I finished with that sharp x-acto, I sat there amazed at the paper pieces
in different colors
and patterns
but all the same

and I got teary. Patterned paper pieces

I mean …. look at those. ^^^ Just LOOK at them!!!!
Aren’t they gorgeous? I LOVE them! LOVE them!!!

With little tears welling up in my eyes, I sat there asking God “WHY?”
Why does this move me? What is it about patterns … paper … and nature
that stirs something within? Guitar front - close up - patterned paper pieces

I found no answers
but I’m ever-so-grateful.
Days move ahead.
I take steps daily to live in greater freedom
from the nay-sayers out there
and the gremlins within
that want me to live quiet, hidden and paralyzed by trying to please others.

And today, I am reminded that these tiny patterned cut outs of nature
make me really, really happy.
I don’t know why, but I don’t HAVE to know the why to know that it’s real.

What about you?
What has made you happy recently?