Whimsy and change

This display of flamingos caught my eye in Cozumel, Mexico, January 2015.

This fanciful display of flamingos caught my eye in Cozumel, Mexico, January 2015.

“Pretension and trendiness are pesky intruders. I try to swat them out of my studio while making tea for whimsy and change.”Ellis Anderson

My friend Ellis wrote those words years ago referring to her work in jewelry design. But I copied and saved them, even though I’m not an artist, because I think they apply to almost every aspect of life.

There’s something in me that resists anything trendy. It’s partly because trendy seems so fake on me. What might be appealing in somebody else just doesn’t work when I try it. I’m sort of an oddball and always have been, so I can’t escape feeling a bit pathetic when I try to follow the crowd. As a result, I tend to get stuck in comfortable ruts, happily staying where I am and wearing the same clothes, using the same linens, doing things the same way for years on end.

Being content with life is mostly a great asset, but I am discovering how refreshing even small changes can be. And whimsy can perk up a day as nothing else can. So a bit of whimsical variety here and there can be a great way to defeat despair.

What are some of your favorite ways to add a little flair to the everyday routine? Do you have a colorful scarf or interesting strands of beads or a striking hat that you pull out when you are feeling blue? Or maybe some colorful linens or a special plate or mug to use now and then?

I enjoy keeping all sorts of stationery and decorative postage stamps available to brighten my spirits when I write old-fashioned cards and letters. I also like saving colorful tins to store things, although I tend to get a bit carried away when I start to collect anything, so I have to be careful about that. When I’m in need of a dose of whimsy, I try to focus on things I will consume or use up, such as interesting flavors of tea, bright office supplies, or a fresh flower or two.

Seasonal changes give us a wealth of ideas for incorporating whimsy into our lives. I delight in seeing the smiling pumpkin faces and scarecrows that pop up around our neighbors’ doors at this time of year. Kids in their trick-or-treat costumes add to the fun, and winter will bring its own motifs to enjoy– snow people and Santas and wreaths and light displays.

As the days grow shorter and the sunlight fades, I wish you the best of whimsy and change to brighten your life.



  1. Julia, what a lovely and uplifting post! Don’t know if this qualifies, but I love to find small colorful or nicely shaped stones when I go to new (to me) places such as the desert or the beach. I also love the way people write names and addresses on envelopes and enjoy saving them, especially when they are pretty colors or unusual textures. Because so much communication today is electronic, I savor the various and perfectly imperfect cursive or printing styles people use on “snail mail.” Just want you to know that I continue to pray for you and your family members during this time.

    • Nancy, thanks so much; your prayers have been a source of strength for us. I too collect small stones, shells and sea glass when I’m at the beach. Nature is a huge collage of countless individual works of art, and I have to balance my vain attempt to capture all of it to take home with me by just choosing a few special mementos. A small, smooth stone is more appealing to me as a souvenir than anything I might buy in a shop.

      I’m glad to know you are a fan of snail mail! I love mail art and would like to become good at it someday. I still have somewhere around 70% (I would guess) of all the handwritten notes and cards I’ve gotten in adulthood. I had many pen pals when I was a child and I so wish I had those letters today. But I guess I already have more than I could re-read in a lifetime. I see each letter or handwritten card not only as a sort of historical artifact, but also as a symbol of a treasured relationship or moment in time. Thanks so much for being with us!

  2. Good morning, Julia! Although I don’t recall being complimented on wearing the latest fashion … I think that when I get compliments, they’re more interesting. Last week when I put together plum with ruby and royal blue, I heard “I love the jewel tones – oh! And your necklace has all those colors in it, too!” I replied, “yes, I had FUN getting dressed today!” It’s true, whenever I feel my creativity stifled at work, I find myself wearing weider and weirder get-ups.
    So I’m quite glad that you encourage this behavior. Today, I think I’ll wear my hat with the feather, and possibly the poncho that I made from a round tablecloth ….
    Love to you (even if you have to pretend that you don’t know me, if you see me! Just teasing; I know you wouldn’t do that – and I’ll try to do my part by hopefully not looking downright embarrassing)!

    • Susan, plum, ruby and royal blue sound fabulous together. I long ago parted with the only hat I ever had that boasted its own feather, to say nothing of the several ponchos I wore during late childhood. But I am glad to know that you still have that creative flair when it comes to clothing. One of my ambitions is to be as good at accessories as so many of my women friends are. I’m sure you wear it all well!

  3. Amy

    i love to decorate for all the holidays or even just the seasons. I feel like it gives the house a lift and makes me happy too. I just need to start having people over to see my handiwork. 🙂 Praying for whimsy for you today my friend. I love you.

    • Amy, I’ll come to your home for a dose of whimsy anytime. Perhaps we can make a festive bow tie for W. Love you.

  4. Judy from Pennsylvania

    I too love the comforting sameness of my favorite old clothes and things around the house. They seem to offer a sense of continuity in my life and home while the world outside wildly spins in a million different directions.

    Your thoughts today on whimsy and flair put words to something that I’ve felt but never really identified. I know that some colorful scarves have crept into my wardrobe because they’re such fun to wear — yes, that’s it, flair! And I like to find pretty paper napkins and exotic teas to use when a friend comes over — whimsy! Now I’ve added pretty postage stamps to my list of things to buy when I’m out running errands today because I’m down to my last one — thanks for the reminder. Maybe I’ll even go all out and put on some hoop earrings and a bracelet to dress up my old comfy clothes before I head for the store 🙂

    • Judy, you have given us some great inspiration here! I think the combination of comfy clothes with a touch of flair provides a perfect balance between practicality and panache. We need a sense of continuity during stressful times, as I am discovering more each day, but we also need to weave the familiar with bright threads of the unexpected and beautiful. Thanks so much for being here with us!

  5. Sheila

    Good Saturday morning and a beautiful October 1st to you, Julia.☕️ I love to throw in some whimsy every chance that I get. I’m too “mature” to be outlandish, but long before that I just tend to be traditional in my style. Whether it’s my clothes or our home decor, neutral works for me. I just bought a bright yellow rain slicker and it really adds some POP to my closet. Even though yellow slickers just seem to go with rainy days, it’s a FIRST for me. My comfort piece to start my mornings is certainly my pink robe. It’s rather a family joke actually. I even have a postcard of a closet with 7 pink robes and 7 pairs of pink slippers. The lady ponders, “What shall I wear today?” I always have a favorite 👜 handbag, a favorite writing pen, favorite earrings, favorite bracelet, favorite this and that and I always go back to these through the years. I love your whimsical cards by the way, and the brightness they always bring. What a great post! Thanks to Ellis, too. 💛

    • Thank you Sheila! You would love Ellis. She is the very epitome of effortless originality, but she too has (or at least used to have) her comfortable favorites. I loved the cartoon you told us about with the closet of pink robes. My kind of gal for sure! I have my own family joke of a waffle weave/blue terrycloth robe Jeff got me many years ago. I wear it constantly during the cooler months, and refuse to part with it. I have joked many times over the years that I should be buried in it. As for the yellow rain slickers, YES! I had one during my college years that I loved wearing. It’s a perfect way to add a little bit of faux sunshine to a gloomy day. Meet you on the Verandah tonight — we can stay up late and sleep in tomorrow morning before more coffee or tea. 🙂

  6. Loved this Julia. Sorry it’s taken so long to get to read. I’ve been busy thinking of you instead. I think we are kindred spirits that way. I don’t follow trends. Never have. I’m the only woman in any group who always wears some kind of hat. Yesterday, my daughter and I went to breakfast on our way to run errands. She wore her knit viking hat and put on a rubber nose. The kids loved it. The grownups wouldn’t look at us. It’s not her usual behavior but our rainy season has started and we needed a lift. I follow the beat of my own drum and have always been the odd duck. As I’ve grown older, it’s become more comfortable. It’s that “when I am old I shall wear purple” attitude. 🙂 Giant squishy hugs and holding caring thoughts for you.

    • Hi Marlene, no need to apologize. I can feel your warmth from across the continent. Hey, I didn’t know you always wore hats! That makes for more interesting detail in my mental pictures of you. Your daughter is to be congratulated for wearing the rubber nose. I bet there was more than a little secret envy among the adults who may have pretended not to see it. Yes, getting older is the ultimate revenge of the chronically odd. I have a theory that people who are different from the beginning have less trouble with getting older, at least from a psychological standpoint. Thanks for those hugs, I have needed them. ❤

      • I’ve been wearing hats since I got Bells. I also have a whole collection of warm scarves that I add to the hat when I have to be out in the cold. The Bells left that side of my head and face very sensitive to cold. Scarves are a little harder to wear with the the climate of prejudice in this country. People think you are Muslim if you wear one and yell obscenities as they pass by. I’m just trying to keep warm. Kind of sad if you think about it. It’s interesting how people only want to see what they think of as normal to them. I know you have a long way to go yet and will continue to keep you in my prayers.

        • Marlene, I used to wear scarves in winter when I was in college and had to walk around campus in the cold. I had a lovely tartan wool scarf that I wrapped over my hair with one end looped under my chin and thrown over my shoulder — and a friend once told me I looked like a refugee, which just made me want to wear it more. So reading your comment makes me think I should wear one again. I can’t believe people curse at you for wearing one. That really is sad. The scarves are wonderfully warm. I also used to tuck all my hair into a huge tam when it was rainy, to keep it from frizzing.

          Yes, there is a long long road ahead, and some days the uphill climb is so steep I want to give up, but I don’t. See– your prayers are helping! Giant determined hugs!

          • I’m glad the prayers are helping. I believe in them. hugs.

            • They really are helping. It often feels like two steps forward, one step back, but that’s still enough to keep moving in the right direction. I am SO grateful for the prayers and kind thoughts and warm wishes that help me keep going.

  7. LB

    Your post prompted two things:
    1 – to realize that I don’t think I have much whimsy around me in my daily life.
    2 – to share a blog post about the Marietta Museum of Art & Whimsy in Sarasota. I realize that you don’t have time to do much blogging or visiting of blogs, but if you do find a moment, visit this link. Scroll halfway through the post and you’ll see some images of whimsy.
    Love you, Julia, and sending thoughts and strength to you.

      • I couldn’t resist dashing over for a whirlwind virtual trip to Sarasota (I’ve never been there but always wanted to go — even the name sounds fun). Thanks for putting a smile on my face today!

    • Laurie, thanks so much for sharing this link! I know I will enjoy it. Right now I’m so far behind I’m just trying to catch up on the comments. I have been reading them but haven’t had the time to answer them. I do appreciate each one, however. It was wonderful to see you and I’m so glad you got to meet Amy. Thanks so much for being here with us! ❤

  8. What a gorgeous photo, Julia. I love the bright colors and artistic styling of the birds.

    I’ve been a bit of an oddball my whole life as well, so I completely relate. The beautiful thing about growing older, I believe, is that we come to terms with our differences, then take it a step further and embrace them. I am who I am is my current motto. After years of trying to fit in, I realized I was at my happiest being myself, and over time have been able to find friends (and a spouse) who love me for who I am. How I wish we could all arrive at that juncture before our 21st birthday, but I suspect we all need to grow and learn as we come to understand who we really are. xo

    • Thanks Alys, I just loved those birds and wished I could buy a whole bouquet of them to bring home. But the photo is better and never needs dusting.

      I like to think that if we had gone to the same high school, we would have been best chums, passing long handwritten notes back and forth between classes and sharing many humorous observations about the absurdities around us (never our own, of course 🙂 ) Yes, it takes a lot of years to learn some of these lessons, but that is the great reward of living to old(er) age. Like the seasons, the various stages of life come with unique privileges, gifts and challenges. All things considered, I’m glad you are here in this stage of my life, when I can appreciate you the most! 🙂

      • That’s my motto “never needs dusting”.

        We find each other when we’re needed the most perhaps, or as you say when you can better appreciate someone. I do like the idea of exchanging long, handwritten notes. We can catch up for lost time, Julia.

        • Let’s do! Maybe we can even fold them into triangles with the end tucked in, like we used to do with notebook paper. And we won’t even have to worry about the teacher catching us and reading them aloud to the class!

          “Never needs dusting” is a great motto.

          • Please feel free to have that framed. Maybe even in all caps: NEVER NEEDS DUSTING

            I had forgotten about those letters with folded triangles. Memories. And speaking of memories, I was working with a client this week and we unearthed a PeeChee folder. That same goofy cover, all these years later. So fun.

            • Alys, believe it or not I had never heard of a PeeChee folder– but I looked them up and don’t remember ever seeing one. They do look retro, though! Maybe it was just a west coast thing? I need to have a triptych with the NEVER NEEDS DUSTING. The other two would be NEVER NEEDS IRONING and 10% SPANDEX. 😀

              • Let’s start a sign business. We’re off to an excellent start.

                I’m with you on Spandex and ironing.

                • Alys, great idea! But we have some serious competition. I wonder if these are all under copyright?

                  • Oh how funny. So many clever signs. I didn’t’ spot any housecleaning ones though. We might still be in the running.

                    • Here’s another one: “You had me at self-cleaning.” 🙂

                    • [snicker]

  9. Please know that I anticipate no reply J, I’m visiting to offer some small, insignificant diversion. I like the idea of including whimsy in the day. As I look around my home, things I surround myself with do tend to be rather whimsical. The clock shaped like a house has a bird singing on it. As it ticks away the day, the tail moves up and down. Then of course there’s Kit Kat Clock, with moving eyeballs and swishy tail. What’s with me and clocks? I really don’t know. I don’t as much analyze these things as I do enjoy them. It’s the odd thing that makes me gasp and I know then, it must be part of the managerie of whimsey. One of my favourite home decor items of late, is a print by APAK. I’ve got a couple of their pieces and just love being with them. It’s a husband and wife team. My print is called ‘Tree of Life’. These little Gnomes of a sort, go about their day, gardening, talking with neighbours and living in their multi-story magic mushroom home…..this cryptic description requires a photo, so you don’t consider me a complete nutbag 😀


    I wouldn’t give a second thought to ‘never quite fitting in’. Anyone can be a follower, it takes a special person to set off in their own direction. BTW, I also enjoy the stamps on the envelopes you send. The fact that you have a binder full is adorable, they’re like little works of art. You’re a beautiful and caring heart Julia and you not only fit in, you fill us up. Much love k

    • Thank you, K! As soon as you started talking about the house clock, I immediately pictured your Kit Kat clock too. Jeff’s mother loves clocks and I used to love sitting in her living room reading, with them quietly ticking and chiming in the background.

      You are one of two people outside the family that have ever seen my stamps binder — the other one being Pauline!! I have such fond memories of the two of you sitting at my kitchen table. I am so eccentric about those postage stamps. I got my love for stamps from my Granny H, Daddy’s mother, who taught my sister and me how to collect them– and also to use them on all our correspondence. Thanks so much for your kind words and encouragement. You spread sunshine wherever you go. ❤

      • thank you Jules, I try too be a sunshine spreader ❤ it's an easy enough job…LOL xo

        • You really are. They should syndicate you on the weather broadcasts and call you the Wonderful Weather Woman. Then when the weather is bad they can send you out in a bright yellow slicker and bright red rain hat and boots (or an aqua snow parka) to cheer everyone up and remind us that no matter what the weather is, we are lucky to be alive. If anybody could say that convincingly, it’s you. ❤

          • ((( Julia ))) I’d gladdly jump into the red slickers and hat if that was all it took to cheer folks up. Now, ‘Wonderful Weather Woman’ would only be feasible until it got super cold here. Then I’d be whining along with everyone else, HA! I’m finding I have less and less resiliance as the years go by. Then again, I also can’t take much heat….I sound like a fickeled Disney character. “This weather is too hot”, or, “this weather is too cold”! But yes, I do feel lucky every single night my head hits the pillow. Then moments later, a kitty wanders up for some love and another lovely day blends into the next. I sometimes feel like a happiness hog…..oinkity oink oink 😀 xo k

            • Oink on, K! One can never feel too much gratitude. When it comes to being thankful, the Matthew effect is in full swing. The same goes for being a grouch…I find that the grouchier I let myself be, the more irritated and obnoxious I become; a vicious cycle. So we need to make sure that the “positive feedback loop” does stay positive! Keep spreading the sunshine. 🙂 ❤

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