7 things bringing me joy right now

1. vessels  And they’re turning up everywhere, in my paintings, the stitchbook and as ceramics.

little ceramic bottles - one with a pinted windmill scene the other white with little handles

I’ve been taking classes at the Guilford Art Center since I landed in Connecticut and have lately gotten obsessed with vessels. Mostly little ones. There are lots more in progress. The little group below is pre-firing.

2. the stitchbook I’m very surprised and happy at how many people are participating! And it continues to be a fruitful practice for me. I go on and on about that here.

*This post contains affiliate links – meaning I get a small commission if you purchase through the link.

3.the cardboard house I’ve been imagining the pattern for the downstairs walls for a very long time. And carving the little stamps made me want to carve lots more little stamps.

blue pattern being stamped on doll house walls

The old linen napkin I was offloading ink onto made me want to block print some fabric. I love the pattern, I see tea towels in the future…

I’ll get into more detail about the process in an upcoming cardboard house progress post. If you’d like to try making stamps you can *get a kit here – this is an affiliate link – I get a tiny commission if you purchase through the link.

4. packages Making sweet packages makes shipping orders way more fun. Brown paper, stickers, stamps bakers twine and little extras are all magic to me. Also there are  a couple new cards for spring.

packages wrapped in brown paper with stickers, stamps, cards and twine

5. twinkle lights  Most things can be improved by twinkle lights. And I’ve had one long string for many, many years that is particularly awesome. It’s the mini kind – wire with tiny lights, the light is warm and it has a plug rather than batteries. It finally died about a month ago. I tried a bunch of replacements that did not sing to me until this one arrived. It’s just right – warm light, nice and long and it plugs in. *You can get it here – and fyi this is also an affiliate link – meaning I get a tiny commission if you purchase through the link.

little art studio with twinkle lights

6. The tiny garden and  imminent lilacs. So much joy. I am so ready for the garden. I’ve got some herbs, flowers and lettuce I started from seeds in March (that feels so adult), the beets have appeared and it’s looking like my repurposed cedar chest planter is going to give me another year.

Also I’m sure it’s a good omen that a mystery plant has appeared. You gotta admire its chutzpah just showing up like that so it stays. I am gonna move it so it does not dominate the tiny space and has something to climb since it looks pretty climby.

7.  House plants make life better. Freshly repotted, happy plants. The little jade has been with me for 25 years.

Are you a plant person? What’s bringing you joy this spring? Let us know in the comments.


  1. Cheryl Strong

    I planted out the tomatoes but it has been raining non stop and they are not happy. So ready for some sun. I’m in coastal Oregon. Can’t wait to see how your book is put together! I want to join in now.

    • annwood

      Thank you! I’m excited about seeing it all done too!

  2. Planted the tomatoes, eggplants and zucchinis too ! It’s been raining those past two days and now it seems sun is here to stay (cross my fingers). I am in South of France 🙂
    Hugs to all artists gardeners here <3

  3. We are in the midst of moving from Colorado to Western New York. During the 6 weeks of house showings/selling, we moved out to temp housing–but I left my houseplants in place, returning every few days to check on everyone. With lowered heat and modified light (tipped the blinds a bit), it tricked my Christmas cactus into blooming again! I couldn’t believe it.

  4. Catherine Zinna

    Your climby plant looks a lot like a cucumber. We moved in with my mother in law while we build our new home on 2.5 acres nearby. She has a large yard and we have 5 large garden boxes going strong with a variety of veggies and one dedicated just to flowers. The garden brings me and my mother in law so much joy. My mom is an avid gardener and my sister and I have inherited that love of gardening from her. Living 15 minutes from the beach in Southern California has allowed me to garden year round. That was impossible before because of the blistering hot summers we had in inland California where we lived for 29 years. We’re enjoying fresh veggies every day and my sunflowers and sweet peas are a riot of color and beauty. Looking forward to to many more years of gardening year round!

    • annwood

      I think you are right! I had a bush pickle plant in a pot last year!

  5. I’ve recently reported my 39yr old yucca plants as they where hitting the conservatory roof so they’ve moved up to the top room
    I bought them with my first tips from a waitressing job in an Italian restaurant
    Got tomatoes growing in the conservatory now along with cucumbers and chillies
    From Derbyshire uk
    Love the newsletters they always make me smile

  6. Your comment about the 25 yo jade relationship reminded me of my tree philodendron that I received at high school graduation. It was with me until 2020 when the winter temps got in to the 20s causing it to die. It was huge and could no longer be sheltered within the house; it was root bound in a pot on a rolling platform and weighed a ton! Although I wrapped it in blankets to protect from the cold it was not enough. It was sad to lose a companion of 35 years!

  7. Martine P

    It looks like a pumpkin or melon plant!
    Can'( wait to see it bigger:)

  8. Mystery plant looks, indeed, like a cuke, or a pumpkin or a squash (all relatives!) – it may not like moving as it gets older.


  9. Eve Harman

    I would like to see more about the making of the cardboard house. I bought a small unfinished doll house to paint and decorate and I would love to construct my own. I have plenty of”building materials” thanks to Amazon.
    Thanks for sharing all of your creations..I really love your work.

    • Check out a YouTube channel called Bentley House Miniatures. The lady who owns it did a cardboard house during the pandemic and she has a bunch of details on how to do it. She is very talented, you’ll like her!

  10. Hi Ann- I’m getting ready to plant my veg garden here in MN. Just got a Hoya baby from my mothers 50 year old plant. She’s 100 this year so it’s special to me. My hubs planted a bunch of mystery bulbs last fall because he knows how I get waiting for spring…so right now I have squill and hyacinths for garden blooms. Your blog has been a very enjoyable place to visit for years, thank you. Wish I had seen your 100 day project sooner maybe I’ll do it next year. Your book is wonderful and the tiny cardboard house is the cats meow.

  11. I see other seedlings coming up around your Zucchini , DO NOT TRANSPLAT, it will die if you do. There must have been a veggie garden in that area, if you keep it more than moist, U’ll have a good veggie SUMMER. wish I could send you pics of what veggies I have planted this year. Carrots coming up like there is not tomorrow, so are the tomatoes and herb plants.


  12. Ms Sam Nicholson

    My great friend Carolyn had a staghorn fern (I think that’s what it is called). When I started caring for her it was tiny about 4 inches after four long years, she passed six months ago. I brought her plant home with me and this staghorn is huge!! They look just like deer antlers! I wish I could add a picture for you. I have always had at least 100 house plants and in the last year have given quite a few away. My favorite time is when I can bring them all out onto my front porch overlooking the mountains and watching them get all the sunlight they need and also the 30 to 40 hummingbirds zooming throughout the porch and plants. My little heaven!!

  13. Yes to being a plant person, but we live in an old drafty house heated with woodstoves, so we keep a small heater in the kitchen during the winter to keep the plants alive. But it is sadly the only room I can keep plants in! (The bath has a heated floor, but is rather full as it is. No room for greenery sadly.) What is bringing me joy? Well, I am so charmed by the lovely dollhouse you are creating and the sweet mouse rooms. It is a dream of mine to eventually…well, I made tiny rag dolls about six years ago, but not your pattern. Two sisters… for two little neighbor girls, but they could use some neighbors. And I have a plan, but time is the issue… I am hoping to finish things up so I can make a few more things next year. The youngest is not too young to enjoy a dollhouse upgrade.

    Other than that… it is my garden this year that is bringing most joy. Happy gardening to you! Best, Lynne

  14. Sweet peas–the colors and oh the scent is heaven!

  15. Margot

    I love your emails and am always inspired by your musings. The only planting going on in VT is repotting houseplants. So I’m rolling up my sleeves and still dreaming of spring and the garden. A little tidying is in order. That should hold me over for a few weeks until we can plant!

  16. I am a plant person. I rather garden then eat dinner! Weeding and landscaping are my favorite things to do and here in Hawaii, we don’t really have a dormant season. This could be rather boring but I like it!
    I am also in the process of moving to a space downstairs that will be dedicated to creating with fabric, beads, and clay. A multi layered task of first cleaning up, painting old moldy walls, and then rearranging all good things into their spaces for easy access and tables galore to gather and work on projects.
    I LOVE being older because of the freedom I can now enjoy. I LOVE your blog/abouts/all! Come to Hawaii for a visit, please!

  17. Sheryl McGettigan

    I was touched by your having a houseplant for 25 years. I am not trying to out do you, just want to add that I have a Hoya vine that was a slip from my Grandmother’s big Hoya. I took that slip in the early 1990’s. Grandma is gone now and the Hoya is a pleasant reminder of her.
    I am loving the 100 day book and creating pages in it.

  18. Heather Smith

    It’s been a long time since I carved a rubber stamp, your wallpaper pattern is impressive. Love seeing your pottery progress too. I’m a little behind on my gardening (Southern Illinois zone 7b’ish) I have planted some interesting looking zinnia seeds and the brightest orange marigolds I’ve ever seen, those will go into a dye pot this Summer if all goes well. It’s been nothing but rain all week, hopefully my sunflower seeds aren’t just rotting away in their wet bed…..

  19. I have never carved my own rubber stamps before but seeing this makes me very tempted – I’m thinking a simple house with a heart, but perhaps a tea cup with a little heart, oh now I see why you do this!

    Bringing me joy this spring – different shades of green felt.

  20. Judi K

    My garden grows in spite of me, not because of me! I never water, I rarely weed. I have no idea why it keeps looking so fabulous because I don’t do anything to keep it going. When we moved here 27 years ago a friend gave me a small clump of iris that have spread to both sides of the driveway, as well as a few perennial begonias, some day lilies and black-eyed Susans that have all self-propagated from one end of the house to the other and around on the side, too. Another friend mailed us a tiny maple tree that was at most a foot tall with a root ball the size of a tennis ball. I stuck it in the ground and took a photo of me kneeling by it, thinking I could at least prove I’d planted it…27 years later it’s a TREE!

  21. It’s always fun seeing what you are up to! Thanks for the twinkle-lights link; I’ve been searching for plug-in lights to replace my battery -operated ones. Just ordered!

  22. Luanne

    I am loving my succulents! My jade plant and hens and chick’s are my favorites!

  23. Mary Park

    I do not have a green thumb, but have managed to keep my granddaughters aloe plant named Arthur alive for 3 years, it has little new sprouts and I am so proud of myself I am tempted to try so mehing else, I would love to try some carved stamps also, you are so inspiring.

  24. I had a rogue plant last year and it grew into an amazing sunflower- about 7 feet tall and with 13 flowers! I hope your’s is as good!

  25. We are too cold yet; the last frost date is the 15th. We will do some veggies and lots of flowers. The perennials are coming up and looking good.

  26. Judy Klem

    I live in North Carolina and we call those plants that just show up volunteers. It will be a surprise to see what yours produces. If you have composted seed containing vegetable matter it might be from that. I’m hoping it’s a watermelon! Yummmm! Hexagon quilting is giving me joy right now. How is yours coming along?

  27. Lyn Lawrence

    How I do enjoy my houseplants! Always had them from the time I moved into my own place when turning 18. So not to outdo you, I received a farewell gift of a Christmas Cactus (4″ pot) when I moved from Sudbury, MA in 1990; 32 years later it is a thriving monster 🙂 that has been shared in small propagation pots for the joy to others. Thank you for your inspiring and sharing nature.

  28. Ann/thanate

    Thank you for the twinkle light link! I have been admiring those for ages, but being frustrated that all the ones I ran across required batteries.

  29. I am so a plant person. I love flowers, especially pink ones. My garden will have a variety of pink flowers in it this year to include zinnias, cosmos, geraniums and lot of others I will start from seed when the weather is warm enough outside. Love your tiny house and its new “wall paper.” I love just about everything you create and think it’s all magical.

  30. Doff Davies

    My garden brings me so much joy, I’m a sucker for colour, the brighter the better.
    My seeds have been very slow to germinate this year but now I have more tomato plants than I need so I guess some will go to new homes

  31. Jill Ruskamp

    We saw a monster sized jade yesterday at the botanical gardens. I told my kids that will be my legacy to leave them, my jade plants that I have had for years! My garden brings so much joy, nothing like it. 🙂

  32. Plant person here. I live in the PNW and the long wet winters require plenty of houseplants to help me connect with nature. Not to mention all the lovely clean air, they give my home. Your cardboard house is lovely. I spent (more than) a few hours looking at cardbox dollhouse videos thanks to this post. And I don’t feel the least bit guilty.

  33. Constance

    I have a funky cactus-like houseplant that has been with me for 31 years now. It’s not large, but it keeps going. I would truly be crushed if I lost it!

  34. Shirley Morgan

    Hi Ann and contributors from here.. Victoria, Australia. So absolutely marvellous reading everything you’re doing. Thank you Ann (immensely) for inspiration whichever way I turn. I hoped you saw pics of my Christmas bugs I made. Some sent to my Grandchildren were confiscated by my daughter for a marvellous Christmas wreath on her front door.
    It’s the end of Autumn (fall) here. I’ll be sorry to see it leave. The summer vegetables mainly zucchini, tomatoes & eggplant were roasted or turned into quiches or lasagnes for the freezer. Cauliflower, broccoli and brussel sprouts have taken their place in the vegetable garden amid herbs and five different varieties of rhubarb I’ve grown out of curiousity. I really must find my ‘signature’ recipe for that or maybe it’s the delicious rhubarb and cinnamon cake. Such a treat. Enough from me Bestest regards, be kind to yourselves. .. Shirley M

  35. Titi Walter

    Wish you all the happiness in the world, in return to all the beautiful things and happiness you bring to this world!

  36. L. Ilene Roy

    Hi Ann, I built your little clothespin bed . Great instructions! Thank you for sharing your wonderful creativity

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