I love writing cards and letters but knowing where to start can be really difficult, even for those who love words.

Embarrassingly, it took 6 months to post out our thank you letters following our wedding. Dreadful etiquette, I know. Really bad. Some of that guilt lifted when I realised many people don’t even send a thank you tweet let alone a card after their big day, but I digress.

Thank you notes are important. Whether they are sent verbally, through Facebook or through the mail, saying thank you is what makes the world a nicer place to live in and it makes you feel better.

Verbal Gratitude

This is, hands down, the best way to say thanks. It is fraught with awkwardness and the necessity of showing sincerity, two things that are not easy to do.

To sincerely thank someone in person, or, by stretching it, over Skype or Face Time, just remember these simple rules:

  1. Make eye contact.
  2. Be sincere. Don’t make jokes or diminish the gratitude. If you must joke, save it until the end.
  3. Start by saying that you’re grateful/thankful/incredibly happy for XY and Z. Express how it made a difference, why you enjoyed the act and how much the gift meant to you.

For example:

“I am really grateful that you spent last night talking with me after my break up with So-and-So, it meant a lot to me knowing that I still had a great friend.”

“I love you for cleaning the house on your day off, it means so much that you cleaned the areas I hate and that you did this for me! Thank you.”

“Thank you very much for the wonderful wedding gift. It is the perfect, as Husband and I had decided to become healthier before the wedding. Your juicer will definitely make it easier to consume all those exotic fruits that we’re not sure what to do with”

Hand Written Gratitude

Writing a thank you card or letter is really awesome. Especially if it has to go through good old fashioned snail mail. There’s something delightful about receiving mail thats only purpose is to iterate how fabulous you are.

I have a tendency to be incredibly flowery when I write thank you cards, ask any one of my friends anywhere and it is likely they will have received note cards with both inside pages filled with squished writing and gushing words of love. Sometimes, there are drawings. When I feel particularly creative, I will limit words and just make little people express my intention through stick figure dance.

There’s no right or wrong way to write a thank you card, although I would leave the more wordy and elaborate ones for close friends and family.

As a general rule, follow the formula below.

Thank you for + specific action / item + what impact it has on your life / how you will use it

A written card has more impact if its sole purpose is to convey thanks, so leave out the updates, further requests for money and gossip. Just write thank you.

If you want your card to be a little fuller and more ‘robust’, you could elaborate in my detail, focusing on feeling and expressing sincerity.

“Thank you for your friendship over these past years. It is amazing to me that even though we are literally thousands of miles away, you and I have maintained a strong relationship. I know that often we go weeks, and sometimes months, without talking to each other but it always feels as though no time passed at all. You are truly wonderful etc. etc.”

Electronic Gratitude

Ok, so I debated putting this one in. Does saying thank you electronically even count as anything?

I’d like to think it does. Although it’s definitely not conventional and doesn’t have the impact of a handwritten note or verbal expression of thanks, it’s still good for reconnecting, reaffirming gratefulness and connecting with those who you are close with to those who you’ve just met.

Sending a thank you message through any electronic medium is really very easy and should be used as a minimum.

Choose your format properly. E-mail is a safe bet generally, but you could use Facebook/Twitter etc.

E-mail allows you take anything from an informal to formal approach, whereas Facebook and Twitter do mean that some informality is expected. Don’t send anything important via social media, saying thank you for your job interview through FB just sends a bad message. Don’t do it. Just send the physical thank you note card and skip electronic altogether.

What are your go to thank you guidelines? Which way do you prefer to express thanks?

I have been working away like a fiend on my Etsy shop and it is now officially ready for Christmas and holiday business.

With these brand new features:

Now you can buy all your favourite cards from the lemon hive for even less! Each card is an original, hand painted or hand drawn notecard. These are not prints! They double up as art and look fabulous in a frame and they are individual. As unique as you and the recipient. Basically, they are a gift in themselves.

Why did I start creating hand painted cards?

Having moved to Canada and having left all of my friends and family behind me, I was finding it difficult to afford sending them gifts all the time. It wasn’t the gift itself but more the postage costs. I wanted to give them something they could frame, that would bring them joy when they picked it up at the post office or when it landed in their letterbox. It was frustrating not knowing where to start. So, eventually, I started making my own cards. Writing great words in them and expressing my gratitude for their continued existence in my life and for their friendship and love.

I received wonderful feedback about these cards. They became my go to for letting my loved ones know that I still missed them even if I couldn’t afford to send large fancy parcels of maple syrup.

I started working on my art technique and dabbling in different styles and it’s fair to say that now I definitely have a rhythm and a definitive style.

What makes the Lemon Hive Etsy Shop special?

Customisation. I will tweak, add to, make and design cards for you. I just completed a 130 Christmas card order for a bride in London. She wanted to have greetings cards at her reception that doubled up as place cards. It was a brilliant experience and I’m really looking forward to seeing them in action.

I put customer service as a priority, with a 10 day turn around. It was intense but she received the cards within 2 weeks of ordering them.

Writing the cards is another service I offer. I am very mushy gushy by nature but I know this isn’t for everyone and it can be difficult to think of the write words (see what I did there? right/write?). I  am happy to chat with you about the recipient and pop it all into the card, posting directly to the person you miss. It saves you an extra postage cost and makes for a really awesome experience for the person receiving it.

How has been an expat affected your take on notecards?

I must admit, I didn’t really ‘do’ notecards before moving. Then my friends started sending me beautifully written notes and postcards. It was then that I realised I genuinely looked forward to ‘just because’ mail. I started decorating my envelopes and writing beautiful sentiments. I never throw a card away. They are all here in a, once little but now big, box in my office. Every now and then I look through them.

Expressing gratitude and greetings cards

Recently, I’ve been talking a lot about gratitude, what it can do for you and what it is. For those who are familiar with the 5 love languages, mine is words of affirmation. I like to express my love for others through telling them what they mean to me and why I think they’re fabulous. Being able to put this in something pretty and offer them a gift at the same time is part of what makes The Lemon Hive store so special. I want to broach that gap and be able to offer a great gift regardless of cost.

They’re also a great choice for secret santa gifts and they pair up nicely with a bottle of wine!

 

It’s Halloween! Nearly.

I am dressing up and touring the neighbourhood as Cruella D’Evil. Black and white cocktail dress, talcum powder in my hair and wicked make up. It’s going to be fabulous. Presuming the snow stays away and it’s not too cold. Otherwise, I will be going as a sleeping bag.

A few weekends ago, I went in search of a pumpkin to carve. I came back with 5. I thought it would be easy, it turns out that my mum really used to do most of the manual labour for this when I was younger and, therefore, gave me an unrealistic impression of how boring pumpkin carving is! Thanks mum!

Watermelons or pumpkins…you decide.

The Canadian and I spent a great part of last weekend carving 2 pumpkins. There was one large and one small. And both were equally tiresome to clean out and carve. We had 5 pumpkins and I was bored after two. I wasn’t really sure what to do to ensure that the other purchases had been worthwhile. I really wanted to use these for Halloween!

I was doing my daily exploration of blog posts when I came across the Boo pumpkin at Life Over Easy (fabulous blog by the way!). I loved the idea of sticking letters on a pumpkin but I was still a little stumped because I didn’t want to buy letters. In the end, it was going to the pet store, where an overzealous assistant had painted and branded a pumpkin to match the stores logo. I asked her what she’d used only to learn that acrylic paint does a really brilliant job of sticking to pumpkins. What’s better is that you’re not actually wasting pumpkin when you do this. So here’s the last minute idea for pumpkin decorating:

Last Minute DIY Pumpkin Decorating

Supplies:

A pumpkin

Pencil

Black and white acrylic paint

Paintbrush (quite a small one) 

Directions

I started off by searching the internet to get inspiration. Try looking for “Pumpkin Silhouettes”.

After I’d found one that struck my fancy, I outlined it with pencil on the pumpkin itself.

I then painted within the lines, embellishing as I went.

Tip: I found that having separate paintbrushes for each colour meant I could work faster, as there was no need for washing the brush in between colours.

Tip: I loved the dollar store paint because it dried really fast. Nothing worse than getting paint all over the counter!

These are the results, what do you think? Which is your favourite?


We’re going to be hosting a really awesome giveaway this Friday, so be sure to stay tuned!

Black and White Mini Christmas Cards

Is it too early to start the discussion on Christmas cards? Probably but I’m going to do it anyway. Christmas is getting closer and I decided to make some Christmas cards. I will be putting them in my Etsy Shop today and tomorrow. This entire past weekend was focused on Christmas cards and Christmas. I’ve had Christmas carols bouncing around my head since Friday.

Not your traditional Christmas colours. Turquoise and Purple Christmas Collection

I have a seven packs of 10 to sell, each pack with it’s own individual colour scheme. Each pack costs $11 plus postage.

Red and Purple Christmas Collection

There are also large cards for sale too with a discount code (buy 2 get the 3rd for free) available if you enter this code at the checkout LH3for2 (this code cannot be used with the multi packs).

Each card in my shop is hand drawn, hand painted or a mixture of the two. They are not prints and are definitely one of a kind items. I spent all weekend making, photographing and writing up my Etsy products and I’m really impressed with how the finished product looks.

Is there a design or type of card that you would like to see? What else would you like to see in the shop?

A very merry collection: yellow and turquoise Christmas collection

I have included a nice new footer on my blog (see the bottom), which will enable you to check out my wares whenever you drop by. Clicking an image will take you straight to the shop where you can explore even more items.

What do you think? Is this your style?

I have lots of sketchbooks and notebooks all over my house. I use them to practice new techniques, inks, pens, pencils and charcoals and to jot down some of my thoughts and feelings. I guess in some ways they are art journals but in other ways they are just a place for me to practice, practice, practice.

Here is the art book I bought in the UK when I was there in the Spring. It hasn’t seen as much action as the other art books but here are a few sample pages.

 

The three images above were practice productions. (1) I was trying out a new pen, (2 and 3) I was using up left over paint. There’s something very, very wrong about wasting paint.

 

A two hour train jouney from Leeds to Manchester and then somewhere else (Bradbury, I believe) for my close friend’s 25th birthday. My fingers were freezing. I forgot how cold England can be and there’s something about train stations that make the weather feel worse…is it just me that experiences that?

The last two are a result of exploring patterns and potential wedding care covers. They were quick and fun.

Do you have an art book? Do you use it for a specific thing, or do you just put down whatever pops into your head?

When I first purchased my sketchbook I practiced with pattern. Using inspiration I found on Pinterest, I combined, copied* and developed my own style.
Pattern inspiration: Top Left, Top Middle, Top Right. Pasta drawing was just practice.

I started studying other people’s work, and then, I moved on to drawing what I could see. Namely, pasta and fruit. It was really rewarding to see my drawing style develop and to practice different techniques.

Fruit Inspiration: Pineapples, Cherries

Personally, I love ink. Any ink. Ball point pen, biros, expensive flowy ink pens, felt tip pens. I love being able to build texture and detail. Pen has always been my thang.

Then I decided to get brave and start using coloured pencil. Something that I had never really done before. Colour scares me, but I enjoyed it. I enjoyed using colour so much that I kept going, I started adding colour to everything and using colour to further develop textures, depth and detail.

I am really enjoying the development that I’m seeing and it makes me really proud. It’s so tricky to start practicing a skill that has been dormant for so long, but it has been worth it.
If you’re liking my style and want to see how you too can buy a little bit of it, head over to my shop and check out the cards I have for sale. My special offer is still going strong, so don’t forget to enter the code at the checkout.

* Personally, I believe copying is a good thing, especially when you’re starting out. It allows you to practice rather than be creative, which are two daunting things when you’re starting to draw again. I am not suggesting that you copy and sell your work or even claim it to be your own, I am saying that you should look to other people’s work, try out their moves on paper and develop it into your own. Never take credit for work and ideas that are not your own. It’s just not cool!

It’s been a while since I’ve updated the Etsy shop but it’s not from a lack of hard work.  I have updated the listings in the Etsy shop. There are new cards, many of them hand painted.

original hand painted greetings cards

This time around, I’ve focused on the things that make me happy. There are still many cards for special occasions and events, but I made a special effort to ensure that I included greetings cards for every occasion. I thoroughly enjoy receiving cards from friends ‘just because…’, it’s the best feeling and they usually have the most sentiment, so I introduced some to my collection.

original hand painted greetings cards

Self doubt and not feeling as though I ‘fit in’ is often something that plagues me. This is why these two cards below were really important to me.

original hand painted greetings cards

original hand painted greetings cards

original hand painted greetings cards

And, just because you came here, I am offering a special discount code. LH3FOR2 will allow you to buy 3 cards for the price of 2.

original hand painted greetings cards

What other types of cards would you like to see in The Lemon Hive Etsy shop?

have been busy recently. Sorting out directions, developing hobbies and working on feeling good.
A few weeks ago, I started working on being creative. This is what I did:
We once bought hideous photographs of Paris, they were printed straight on canvas and weren’t particularly good. So I decided to practice abstract painting. I found left over paint samples and developed these three pieces of art. I’m not completely happy with the results but I’m proud of myself for starting to decorate with my own work and having enough confidence to think that my art should be displayed on a wall. Even if that wall is mine.
A few months ago, I came across a battered sketchbook. The paper inside was excellent AND it was on sale for $4. Usually retailing for around $20, it was a steal and I needed it! The ugliness was hard to get over. So one day I just started throwing paint on it until it developed into this. I love it. It’s the first time I’ve mixed paints since I was in high school. One of my biggest limitations is the fear that I’ll get it wrong. After redecorating this sketchbook, I felt confident. This helped me get over my fear of “ruining” something, getting wrong or being embarrassed.
This was so much fun. I was having a stressful day. I took time out to paint the envelope of an important document being sent to a friend. It was so cathartic. It was the first time I’d played with paints since high school. The envelope developed further but not before I wrote out her full address! Eek! So, consider this a sneak peek until I able to edit the photo.
This developed into this:
It still needs work but I’m loving how it’s turned out.
I have been so busy with work (opening night, tonight!), so having a creative outlet has helped me manage stress (and overeating). What do you do to manage stress?

I have only recently become interesting in art journalling. I have scoured Pinterest for drawing inspiration and art journals, from this I have developed an interest in scrapbooking techniques and development. If you want to look at the collection I’ve developed on Pinterest you can find it here.

I’ve spent some time developing a style. I spent ages reading things like ‘the only way to get good at something is to do it’ or ‘practice makes perfect’ etc, and I rolled my eyes and huffed and puffed because I wanted to learn by looking and reading not by doing. Eventually, I had to admit that it was true. I had to just do it, so I did. I found that it’s really hard to know where to start, so I developed this little guide to help you on your journey to ‘just doing it’!

I wanted to start keeping sketchbooks. It was a way to keep track of my development artistically.

I bought a battered sketchbook from Michaels during it’s sale for $5 (originally $16!) and painted the front and spine. This was my first real sketchbook since age 16, so I thought I’d make it count. For me, this book represented so much. I didn’t really have a theme at first, but as it’s developed, I’ve seen one come out. It’s really just a place for me to practice skills and explore my ability to create. There are a lot of handwriting samples, sketches of pill bottles and journal entries about my daily experiences. I come across things that I’ve forgotten about or discover things by looking at them from a different perspective. The far right painting was originally just me cleaning my paint brush and using up paint. I looked over it a few weeks later when I was listening to music and felt that the lyrics fit. This started my passion for Emeli Sande’s song and it developed into something more somwhere else (more on that later).

The paper in this sketchbook is far from perfect for paint, but that’s what I’ve enjoyed the most; painting even when it hasn’t been ‘right’. Breaking rules is a big deal for me, so breaking little art rules means more than what it sounds. It has been liberating and I would suggest that everyone have a sketchbook to write/draw and practice anything and everything. There doesn’t have to be an order, there just has to be ‘stuff’.