I come from a family of homemade present makers.

Not your ordinary present makers…..but extraordinary-mind-boggling-one-of-a-kind-over-the-top-incredible makers of gifts.

Direct descendants from Santa and his elves.

There was the year my sister made lampshades for all of us…..from old slides all looped together with jump rings so that when you turned on the light…..the pictures lit up in miniature.

Or the year my brother hand-carved bowls from an oak tree that fell during a storm.

And the year my sister made this and my brother made this and then wrapped his presents in hand-printed wrapping paper with photographs of all of us wearing mullets…..

….even the dog.

Can you see what I mean?



Hand printed Blog picture


But this year my sister created something that made me cry.

And smile.

And laugh in amazement.

Something that made my heart sing at the sheer wonder of the magnitude and simplicity of the gift.


She took the first three months of blog posts from Thistlewood Farm….all 20,478 words of them…..each and every word that I had written…..

…..and created a thistle.

Thistle Picture


Every word is there.  

Every *sigh.”

Every “seriously.”

Every comma, every quotation mark, every exclamation point.

Every tree skirt I forgot and every loaf of bread I baked and every stinky sock and story and medal display and state canvas and every porch I tried to elope with.

They are all there on the down of the thistle.



And as I stared at those words and read and read and read until my eyes filled with tears…..

…..each word became special.

Every “a” or “the” or “this” or “that” or “under” and all the other 46 prepositions.






Sometimes we are so busy with life that we overlook the simple.  We spend so much time looking for the extra-ordinary….the fireworks….the explosion….the mountain top….the next incredible experience.

And all the while the joy is right before us.

Waiting for us to notice.


It’s in the tiny little marshmallows that float to the top of the hot chocolate.

Or the Hallmark Channel’s New Year’s happily-ever-after marathon of movies.

Or the Reese’s peanut butter trees on after-Christmas clearance.

Or the perfect mix of a drive-through diet coke.


Or that you just happened to look down at your feet and avoided the total embarrassment of walking out of the house wearing two different shoes.





Finding joy in the ordinary.

It’s so 2013. 🙂

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  1. Image for Old Time Cindy Old Time Cindy

    Wow! Such a heartfelt gift. That is what gift giving should be about. You have an amazing family. My ordinary sit down with a pretty cup of chocolate tea (chocolate can be found in everything) and to savor the quiet around me. I love simplicity in my life. Farmhouse hugs in the new year, Cindy

  2. Image for Leo at Cottage at the Crossroads Leo at Cottage at the Crossroads

    Hi Kari Anne, It's true, the simple things that are heart felt are the best things. Just this morning, a cup of coffee and conversation with Jane at 5am was perfect. It was our time alone and it's always a joy. Well, there were a few interruptions from our cats and the dog. We enjoy your blog and hope to see you this year at Haven. Happy New Year.

  3. Image for Gina Gina

    Wow! What a beautiful gift! I looked back at the other gifts from years past and I love them all. You are all truly talented. I love the acorn manger scene....too adorable!

  4. Image for bj bj

    Just awesome....not only is your sis talented and an artist, she is thoughtful and creative and she must love you very much. :)...and THAT must mean you are a very loveable person. ....I know that I love you, too. :))

  5. Image for Susan M. Susan M.

    I too, am a believer of meaningful gifts from the heart - and this is beautiful! Wonder if your sister would mind sharing some general instructions so that I might be a copy cat (I would use another image - seems sacrilegious to use the thistle!). This would be a perfect gift for my daughter's birthday coming up in April. All my best wishes for a great 2013 - you're off to a resounding start!

  6. Image for Betty Betty

    What a marvelous post and wonderful gifts! I, too, make the gifts and call me crazy aunt/grama, but it seems my gifts are the most remembered and appreciated for being "so unique and personal". These days and particularly this morning, I find simple joy in waking up my pup, enjoying the stretching and hunkering down in his pillow he does before giving up, standing up, shaking about and finally saying "hi mom" in his puppy-dog way!

  7. Image for Maureen Maureen

    WOW! That is truly an amazing and thoughtful gift. And a piece of art to boot! Currently I find joy in watching my (almost)1 year old golden retreiver rediscover the snow each morning I let him out. Its like "whats this stuff, fun, stuff!" as he barrels through it with his nose to the ground pushing the snow all over his head! Makes me giggle every time!!

  8. Image for Jaime Costiglio Jaime Costiglio

    KariAnne what a treasure! It's obvious creativity runs in the family and so wonderful to see siblings caring for each other with gifts from the heart. Very clever and a wonderful way to materialize your hard work from cyberspace in one capsule.

  9. Image for Laura Laura

    KariAnne, I love that so much I want to adopt your sister and ply her with hot chocolate. My ordinary joy today is hearing the kettle sing so I can steep my decaf green tea to drink while doing the morning crossword. SIGH, Laura

  10. Image for Doreen Doreen

    That's a lovely keepsake for you! Your sister loves you very much to put so much time into such a special gift for you! I'm sure you will treasure it always! Thanks for sharing this!

  11. Image for Sally Sally

    What a special gift! My ordinary joy today is in a little gift WON from a blogging friend. A sweet little collection of goodies. In the season of giving... it's okay to say that it's fun to receive as well! The little package on it's way to me will be the icing on the cake. Happy New Year Sweet KA! Love, Sally

  12. Image for Tricia Tricia

    I love that gift and that she put so much thought into something you love : o ) My ordinary joy this morning is sitting here, reading blogs, and drinking my coffee while the house sleeps. Happy New Year to you and yours!

  13. Image for Pam Clark Pam Clark

    heartfelt gifts are the best, heartfelt gifts that are also beautiful are priceless! you and your siblings are so talented! thanks for sharing ! ~ Pam

  14. Image for Lori H Lori H

    Wow! I stand in awe of your family. What wonderful gifts, and the thistle is amazing. My ordinary joy day starts with puttering around the house, with a reading break that includes a cup of tea. Love this post!

  15. Image for Beverly Beverly

    Oh, girl. This is beyond awesome. It even made me cry. Definitely a forever treasure. My ordinary joy for today is quite extraordinary. Think about the date. January 2. I'm at home.

  16. Image for Marian Marian

    Such a lovely gift! Wow! This was a very timely post for me, as I am trying desperately to assert myself as a professional artist in the middle of being a stay at home mom, seasonal event planner, and blogger. Creating art is where my passion lies. It's what drives my soul. But lately (like this entire last year) it has felt so much less important, compared with the way these other priorities roar at me and try to compel me to engage with them instead. For me, the "little things" include taking the time every day to slip into my studio for enough time for my soul to connect with the art and the Creative Force that directs it's creation. It's that connection that helps me stay sane and balanced in the midst of a lovely, but over full life. Thanks for jump starting the answer to that little prayer.

  17. Image for Christy Christy

    What a wonderful, thoughtful, precious gift! When I grow up I want to be one of those wonderful, creative, thoughtful kinds of people. In the meantime, I'll just continue to be the spur of the moment, forgetful, fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of girl. *sigh* A girl can dream, right?!

  18. Image for Marty Walden Marty Walden

    What an amazing gift! Will you guys adopt me? Oh, never mind. Then I'd feel too much pressure to come up with something amazing! What a blessing you are! Marty@Marty's Musings

  19. Image for Cynthia Cynthia

    Wow, this made me get all chocked up, what a lovely and thoughtful gift. I think she was super creative and very caring. That is good to hear and see. Cynthia

  20. Image for Deb @Lake Girl Paints Deb @Lake Girl Paints

    I heart KariAnne's Sister. You girls are quite a pair. And brother too! I want a handcarved bowl. KariAnne, your creations and words are always the best read. I love your work and your look at life. Always thanks for sharing Deb@LakeGirlPaints

  21. Image for Donnamae Donnamae

    There is some serious talent in your family. That is a wonderful gift! I enjoyed a simple cup of coffee this morning with my hubby, watching the sun stream into our home...and the subsequent dust particles float...haha! Ever notice that? Enjoy your day...I know I am!;)

  22. Image for Betsy(@coastal-colors) Betsy(@coastal-colors)

    What a precious gift! This is incredible- a treasure! You have an amazing family with such a sweet spirit. Thank you for sharing your wonderful stories and talent!

  23. Image for Linda @ A La Carte Linda @ A La Carte

    What an amazing gift! Your family is truly talented and thoughtful. Joy is such a great way to approach life. I'm on that journey in 2013~ I'm starting a Gratitude party on Jan 6th and would love for you to join in. Wishing you much JOY! hugs, Linda

  24. Image for Beth@Unskinny Boppy Beth@Unskinny Boppy

    Oh my goodness this made ME cry! That, my friend, is the coolest gift I have ever seen! Whoa. What a wonderful keepsake. Your sister sounds as awesome as you! :) PS- I might have to steal that filmstrip lamp shade idea!

  25. Image for Regina Regina

    My ordinary joy this morning? Reading your blog. Seriously. I love this gift. It's so special, and something a sister would think of. My sister fulfilled my ordinary joy this Christmas. I've raved about some 9 West knee socks for the last 5 years. I loved them. I wore them so much I wore them OUT. When I opened my gift this Christmas day, there they were. 3 pairs of beautiful 9 West knee socks! She listened. :)

  26. Image for Jean Jean

    Holy schnickies! I think perhaps your family should write a book on gift giving. It's truly a lost art, but your family has it down! That's extraordinary! What a lucky woman!

  27. Image for Chris Chris

    Karianne, You are so fortunate to have such a loving sister. Her gift is beyond words. Happy New Year and love to you.

  28. Image for Jennifer @ Celebrating Everyday Life Jennifer @ Celebrating Everyday Life

    That artwork is simply AMAZING! Really and truly FANTASTIC! My simple joy today is the gratitude in knowing that God is at work on my behalf even when it doesn't feel like it! Love that truth!! Also, knowing that I'm not too old to need my mom to come help me with organizing projects at home!! :-)

  29. Image for Tanya Tanya

    What a wonderful, thoughtful gift. I love having people in our lives who get us, really get who we are and what is important to us. My sister and I have that and I am so thankful for it. Thank you for making me smile :) xoxo, Tanya

  30. Image for Chipper Ella Chipper Ella

    This has brought tears to my eyes! What a sweet thoughtful gift. This has been my "joy in ordinary" for today. Thanks for the smile and misty eyes.

  31. Image for Monica Monica

    Amazing gift for an amazing woman who's gift of writing is what I look forward too. I never can use written words to express my thoughts and I so enjoy your blog thank you for sharing your creations.

  32. Image for Catherine Catherine

    What a beautiful and thoughtful gift. How in the world did she do it? My simple joy right now is sitting with my cup of coffee on a very cold day while my beautiful little cat acts as a foot warmer.

  33. Image for Kimberly Bruhn Kimberly Bruhn

    Hey -- I love the ordinary. The time-worn. I think that's what draws us to "vintage," right? I made wreaths for Christmas gifts this year. Some dictionary page ones (with cool sparrows as the center medallion(s)) and, I made 3 ornament wreaths. Yup, one for my bestie and one for a situational friend (do you have any of those?)and one for me. That's all I could do since it takes 90 or so ornies to make 'em and those old "ordinary" Shiny Brites and mercury glass beauties are tough to find out here on the West Coast. Seriously, it was a fun mission to peruse every, single thrift/consignment/second hand store in our nearest counties! I have more stashed for next year's endeavors (especially since I found a "mother lode" at a special estate sale. Anyway, Kari Anne, I count your inspiration as extraordinary. I'm just glad it appears in my in-box so often. Happy New Year!

  34. Image for Suzanne Suzanne

    Your family sounds really special and, as a wordy-girl, I am blown away by this equally special gift or words! My joy in the ordinary today is in this moment; sipping on hot tea while snowflakes fall gently outside, visiting a few blogs and counting my blessings : ) Happy 2013! xo Suzanne

  35. Image for Gwen Gwen

    I love all the home made gifts--that nativity set was pretty neat. But the very personal gift at the end...spectacular!!! I don't know how she did it but its a prize gift for sure <3

  36. Image for shirley@housepitalitydesigns shirley@housepitalitydesigns

    That is just "print" and "thought"....Your family, including you, are such wonderful talented people!!....i cannot imagine what the room is like when you are all together!!

  37. Image for andrea andrea

    what an amazing gift. How the heck would she have thought of that? What a talented, gifted family!! In fact, I just posted a tidbit about your talented sister as well. I hope your Christmas was filled with joy and love and may this New Year be your best yet! XXOO

  38. Image for Sal Sal

    What a beautiful gift. I'd love to know how to make one or if she is taking order??? Please share your is so lovely. Thank you.

  39. Image for Sherry Sherry

    KariAnne, This is such a unique and creative gift. I can see why you love it so much! I hope you and your family have a wonderful 2013. xx, Sherry

    1. Image for Kimm at Reinvented Kimm at Reinvented

      Wow. What an incredible gift. Now you can see a visual representation of the beauty your words have created!

  40. Image for Anne Anne

    What a beautiful gift! It warms my heart to see this! You are so lucky to have such a sweet sister and family to think of these amazing special gifts! My family is not like that at all sadly. But things that mean the most to me are the sweet and precious gifts my daughter made for us over the years.I have videos of her giving us these gifts.They are not much to most.Just pictures she draw of her family.But I really cherish these <3 I know the love that was put into those sweet pictures and they mean the world to me! xx Anne

  41. Image for Jill Flory Jill Flory

    That is a totally awesome gift KariAnne! i LOVE it so much! I need her to make me one - only I want mine to be a pair of scissors :) I hope every singel day of 2013 is joyful for you!

  42. Image for Debbie Debbie

    Absolutely beautiful...the thought that went into your gift is truly amazing! You certainly have a talented family, and they sound so loving and caring. What a treasure. Debbie :)

  43. Image for Zolane Zolane

    Just beautiful, KariAnne...the thought, the gift, and your heartwarming post. My ordinary joy today...walking into the house after work and being greeted by our golden retriever Charlie like I'm the best thing in the whole world :)

  44. Image for Diane | An Extraordinary Day Diane | An Extraordinary Day

    Oh my goodness...that is fantastic!!! Can I come an be a member of your fabulously thoughtful, talented, and creative family? Please? What can you all create when you get together? I can only imagine! To answer your question...I think maybe I now have my word for this year. Joy. Thanks KariAnne!!!!!

  45. Image for Nicole Nicole

    Wow! That is a good gift and a good reminder to look for the joy already all around us :) In 2013 I will try my best to find the joy in my home and be grateful to have a nice warm house and not focus on the fact that my bathroom is the size of those old pay phone booths on the corner. I will cherish the joy of having my children safe and sound when so many mothers around the world are grieving for their own -especially finding the joy when these precious gifts knock a too full cup of koolaid off the counter and somehow there are red droplets around the corner half down the hallway. I will be joyful in the fact that it is safe for my kids to play outside and ignore the mudprints when they excitedly run inside to show me a fabulous "fossil". I will remember the joy in having a husband who works hard and loves his family and ignore that he can totally tune out the "mom mom mom mom" as his children walk right past him to find me to open a juice box! Yes . . . Finding Joy - great goal for the new year! Thanks for the motivation, karianne :) Nicole PS - big joy is the couple of minutes I take to read your wonderful stories!

  46. Image for Bethanie Bethanie

    What the what?! That is too stinkin' amazing!! Did she get every...and every...:)?! :) Your family got more than it's share of talent and creativity. Not really fair if you wanna know the truth! Thankful that you share it with the rest of us!

  47. Image for Traci Traci

    That is so original and heartfelt of a gift! You are lucky to have an amazing thoughtful sister! My ordinary joy as of Christmas is my lovely fur lined slipper moccasin my son got me they make me happy every time I wear them! Wish i could just wear them everywhere! Traci

  48. Image for Jerri C. TN Jerri C. TN

    WOW! I was in awe at the stitched serving plate & the masterpiece Nativity........ but then...... I lost it with your sister's gift and the tears flowed. Can anything top this? What a gift from the heart to the heart and what an amazing family. Somehow, gift cards really don't mean anything anymore :). Happy New Year.

  49. Image for Laura Laura

    What an amazing gift. I can't think of anything else to say that hasn't been said. What a blessing to have a sister who gets you and your heart. I hope you had a blessed New Year's day. Laura White Spray Paint

  50. Image for Michelle Michelle

    Talent really does run in your family. Your brother with his not so perfect but yet perfectly wonderful table and now your sister with this incredibly beautiful thoughtful gift. Wonder how long it took her to come up with that one. I would have cried too. My ordinary is my day at work. To most I'm just your ordinary old lunch lady but to over 300 smiling little faces I'm the cool lunch lady. I'm the lunch lady who will let friends sit together or the lunch lady who will occasional buy one of those smiling faces an ice cream because she can tell behind the crooked little smile that they may be having a not so good day. I'm the ordinary old lunch lady who loves hearing their stories and doesn't mind giving hugs when needed . Those 300 little smiling faces have no idea what joy they bring to my ordinary day. I'm looking forward to hearing what 2013 has in store for you and your wonderfully talented family.

  51. Image for nest of posies nest of posies

    this gift is absolutely amazing! i have stopped by your blog often lately & i am smitten! i simply adore your style, your writing, your gorgeous house & your sassiness! can't wait to visit more this year! xo kellie

  52. Image for Diana Lentz Diana Lentz

    Gifts from the heart are priceless! What a special gift and thoughtful sister. What is so beautiful is your family "gets the true meaning of Christmas." These are the special gifts that you will never forget and will always treasure. The tears, the laughter and shared hugs is all just icing on the cake. Happy New Year!

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