children, writing

Using bullet journals to unlock writers block

Bullet journals are known as planners for creative personalities. Daily tasks, appointments and goals are released from the confines of stoic leather backed planners and cold digital apps. Instead, designs, boxes, pictures, and color explode onto the pages of bullet journals in a creative but orderly fashion, providing the perfect path for tracking life’s assignments.

Though I am a “creative”, I scoffed at this new phenomenon thinking it was just another way to waste time in order to doodle. I admit to being a bit of a free spirit when it comes to tracking my to do’s. Little sticky notes work just fine, thank you.

Recently, however, my attitude did a full 180 degree turn. My writing enthusiasm was at an all time low. I just couldn’t seem to work my way out of the dreaded writer’s block corner. So I started looking through the upcoming themes of magazines I’ve written for in the past. As I scanned themes, the idea of nature studies and bullet journaling collided in my head. Could I use this bullet journal trend to create an interesting article on nature studies? Hmm? Perhaps.

Of course, this required a shopping trip. I would need to research and try out the idea before actually writing the article. I would also have to enlist the help of my 15 year old son to be sure this was not just an adult idea that kids would hate.

We both chose our topics of research, mine mushrooms, his coding. Of course coding, right? Each day, we sat and created our journals together. Talking and drawing and coloring in ideas. I won’t go into detail about the how’s as there may be a magazine article to enjoy about that.

All, I can say, is I can’t wait to write about the process. I also can’t wait to share all my new found knowledge regarding mushrooms. I had no idea there were so many kinds.

Now, I find myself thinking of other ways to use my new found research process to keep track of things I’m interested in. Who knows, I may even decide to make lists, set goals and keep a calendar. Pfft. Naw. Just kidding.


Kindergarten Care Packages

What’s inside Mrs. Steel’s care package? I sent these to my students and a few kiddos from my church. If you got one of these packages, Let’s open them together. If you didn’t get one, come join us to see what’s inside. Perhaps you have some of these things at home and can do the activities with us.   I’ll be posting activities in the next week here on this blog page.

The first chapter of the corresponding E-Book can be found over at my Camping Stick Kids page. Here is the link: Handwork with a purpose.

If you have yarn, watch the second video called Finger-knitting with Gordon and you can get started.

Scroll Down to leave us a comment! Gordon would love to hear from you.

Video 1: Care Packages with Gordon

Video 2: Fingerknitting with Gordon

Video 3: Bunnies with Gordon

Craft Fair Entrepreneur

Opening new doors in Wheaton

The trees were in full color the first autumn we moved to Wheaton. I drove down the tree-lined streets with my sunroof open, giggling with joy. In the past ten years, I’ve fallen in love with this town’s darling homes with well-cared for lawns and decorated porches. Our family has enjoyed evening concerts and Shakespeare in the park as well as the Friday night car shows. There’s just something about Wheaton, that makes me feel like I belong. So, it’s with a happy heart that I embark on a project inspired by this, my new hometown.

There is a group of women on FB who seem to know everything about this little town. If I am in need of a great place to eat or advice on which Dr. to see, or even, where to take my kids for a few hours of fun, this group has the answer. Recently, I asked them what businesses or shops have the best doors to open. The thread grew and grew with recommendations of places that have offered lovely experiences. Though, I am sure there are many lovely doors to open in Wheaton, I’ve chosen ten that rose to the top of the list.

Over the next few months, I will sketch and paint pictures on canvas of these doors. Eventually, I will display the doors and invite you to come visit them.

I am working on renderings and have a few doors sketched for you to see below. But, come back for an update as I will be putting links to the shops or ministries below.

For now why don’t you go open these doors in Wheaton:

#1. Ktizo Tea

#2. Tasting Devine

#3. Prairie Path Books

#4. The Popcorn Shop

#5. Starbucks on Main

#6. Moores Toys & Gadgets

#7. Wheaton Meat Market

#8. The Wheaton Public Library

#9. The Compass Church of Wheaton

#10. Suzzette’s

Craft Fair Entrepreneur

Thanks to our vendors and hosts

Thank you to the vendors, The Wheaton Sports Center, and my amazing team members. It took all of us to pull off this terrific show. Here’s my open letter to you all.

The Wheaton Mom’s Holiday Artisan Market was a huge success. Not only did our vendors have great traffic and sales, many of them commented on the sense of community they felt throughout the day. The organizers of The Wheaton Mom’s Holiday Artisan Market are grateful to The Wheaton Sports Center for providing such a beautiful facility and amazing staff to help us.  We were excited to learn that over three hundred people came through your doors for the first time in order to shop at our Market. We also want to thank the hundreds of members of the Wheaton Sports Center who shopped with us. We were delighted to expose you to the amazing local work of our vendors. 

Our team worked together to find quality vendors with an Artisan flair. We send a heartfelt thank you to our 20 vendors. Your beautiful Artisan works caused many to comment that this was the nicest “craft fair” they’d been to this year. We know how much time, effort and love went into creating your beautiful products. Thank you for sharing them with your community. 

Finally, as the director of this event, I want to thank my team. Carrie Potts, your work ethic and organizational skills blew me away. Thank you for working harder than any of us to make this show a success. Wendy Geiser Partain your experience gave us much needed insight into how to care for our vendors and create a vendor hall that flowed for our shoppers. Thank you for sharing your expertise. I believe this event will continue to be a year-round success as a result of the ground work we laid as a team. 

Below are all our vendors names and if possible, their websites or shops. Please visit each of them to find unique well crafted gifts for your holiday season. 


Joleen Steel

The 2019 Wheaton Mom’s Holiday Artisan Market Vendors:

Wendy Geiser Partain

Four Brothers

Jacqui Zurawski’s EZ Angel Designs:

Joleen Steel Https://www.readingwritingtea and

Meg Seward

Clapham School

Stephanie Thomas handmade at:


Amy Song

Lisa Tyler’s Two Hearts Baking Co.

Chelsea Medina with Slap Your Name On It at:

Emily Supica http://Emily Jane Studios on fb

Carrie Potts

Gabi Reczek

Jan Engle. at Engle Soft Sculpture on etsy and FB

Sites to be added soon:

Angela Owens 

Nancy Taylor

Sandy Durek

Jeanne Weseman

Karin Nether

Lucy Sanders