I’m so thrilled to introduce to you to one of my very favorite bloggers. Emily writes at Wide Open Spaces and reliably inspires me every day of the week. She is always either writing about about things I am completely enamored with, like hope chests or penmanship or walkable cities or autumn, or about something I hadn’t realized I was enamored with until she wrote about it, like quatrefoils. I know you will enjoy her refreshing approach to life, and am so thrilled to have her take on my first ever WOULD OR DID interview. Thank you, Emily!
Hi, I’m Emily from Wide Open Spaces. This week I am dreaming that my Wide Open Space is in North Carolina but check back next week, it may be Maine. Or Northern California. Or Italy. I am a mom to two, nearly three, and I love my job. The pay is terrible but the benefits are top notch. Some things that make me smile are, in no particular order: quiet, folk music, bare feet, great shoes, chocolate with peanut butter, fitting into my favorite jeans, traveling, staying home, simplicity and abundance. Lucky for me—life tends to offer just enough of each.
5 gifts that WOULD or DID make Emily happy
1. a bowl of cherries. The mom of my best friend brought this to my home years ago, I believe for my birthday. The bowl was beautiful, ceramic with a deep green glaze. It looked amazing filled with those gorgeous cherries. I may have received this ten years ago but it continually registers in mind as one of my favorite gifts of all time. Lovely, simple, useful, delicious.
2. a stack of photographs. A couple of years ago my husband wrapped up a box of photographs that he had had printed off. Now, in the age of digital photographs, I have a computer full of images but none to hold in my hand. After moaning about this once again, my husband took the time to go through our thousands (literally) of photographs and choose a few hundred of the best ones. He had them all professionally printed, matted with white borders, just the way that I like them. It was such a thoughtful and touching gift.
3. tickets to Paris. Or any other romantic and decadent locale. I’m not sure if I can imagine a better gift than being surprised with an amazing trip. It shows such forethought and intention. All of the planning that would go into both the trip and pulling it off as a surprise…possibly the best gift ever?
4. a set of lessons. Cooking, sewing, reupholstering, guitar, flower arranging, calligraphy, letterpress, crocheting, bread baking…the list is endless. There are so many skills that I would love to learn. My husband and I have talked about choosing a new continuing education course each semester to do together. One year, my parents gave us grilling lessons along with a new grill for Christmas. I love the idea of giving experiences over material goods and a set of lessons are a gift that keeps on giving.
5. a day to myself. I may speak for all mothers of small children right now, this gift is pretty huge. Should you ever be scratching your head as to what to give a mom to little ones—I think this is it. If someone that I knew well and trusted, a close friend or family member, offered to watch my kids for the day and give me a day off…I might weep. So often that is all that we need as moms, but so rarely get. A little time to ourselves that we might come back to our families recharged and ready.
5 gifts that WOULD or DID make someone else happy
1. a bowl of cash. My mother is great gift giver, very creative and fun. One of my favorites is for a wedding gift. Should she find something like a salad bowl on a couple’s registry, she will get it along with some beautiful salad tongs. She’ll purchase some cute fake veggies from a craft store and crumples cash up as the salad greens. She then tosses in the veggies. Such a fun way to give a cash gift rather than just the old check in a card.
2. a stack of gifts. When Sean and I were first married and a little poorer than we are today, we came up with a plan for Christmas. We would exchange five gifts, and the total sum that could be spent was $100. It was our best Christmas with the most meaningful gifts we have ever given each other. It was so fun getting creative and trying to figure out the best way to use those precious dollars. There were several gifts that were purchased from antique stores and some were handmade or simply written on a piece of paper. I may not remember what I have given or received in the years since, but to us those 10 gifts have become treasures.
3. a vintage copy of a favorite childhood book. This gift seems really personal and shows the recipient that they are known, which is something I think we all love to feel when receiving something. If I ever heard someone mention something like a favorite childhood book, I would try to make a note of it and then later look for a beautiful copy to give them on their birthday or at Christmas.
4. an evening together. The last few years I have started giving less physical gifts and more “dates.” A show with my mom, or a dinner out with a friend or a weekend away with Sean. I try to pick a great theater and fantastic restaurants or romantic digs to hideaway—but really what I am hoping to give is a memory. Something that remains afterwards as we are inevitable saying—“we have to do this again.” And meaning it.
5. a bouquet of flowers, preferably wildflowers. Here’s my rule on flowers: while nice on a birthday or anniversary or Valentine’s Day… they are so much more lovely on any day but those. On a no-day at all, just thinking of you kind of day. I love to leave them on a friends doorstep, prettily arranged in a mason jar, with just a small note “thinking of you.“