I'm Nikki, a creative old soul who loves tea time, tip-toeing through gardens, mounds of books, swaying to records, watercolors, sunset walks with our three yorkies, and star-gazing with Paul. This blog carries snippets of my life with just us two (five with Rusty, Lucy, & Ethel) - I hope it brings you happiness as you snuggle in with something warm and delicious and begin reading. Enjoy, friends!

the blog!

If I had to choose:

A Whole Lot of Nothing

Hello, darling friends. As I write to you, Rusty is curled up against my leg (not much has changed), Easter Pizza is cooling off on the stove, the heater is humming, and Lucy and Ethel are snuggled together, forming one adorable yorkie.

Life hasn’t changed too much since I last wrote, almost a year ago. At least, it doesn’t seem to change day by day, but when all is said and done, life came, we conquered, and things changed. So, for the sake of moving on, I’ll get you all caught up. Warm drink ready? Iced beverage at hand? Okay, onward!

I’m nearly two months away from finishing my second year as a 5th grade teacher. I seem to be lucky each year because I get to enjoy my day with the brightest and kindest 23 humans, and they only seem to make work more fun and less stressful. Just like last year, I’m beginning to slightly dread the end of the year; I hate good-byes, truly I do. We have less than 50 days together, and we’re in the single digits of weeks left. The amount of birthdays to celebrate are slowly easing up, the walls around my desk are completely filled with love and art and letters, and we’re all getting antsy to get back outside and enjoy the sunshine and grass. We planted our own secret garden in the woods behind our school as we read The Secret Garden, and now we are impatiently waiting to see the tulips, daffodils, and snowdrops sprout. We’re hopeful our labor will pay off and we can have lessons in the garden under dappled sunlight instead of inside the stoned walls without windows. Crossing my fingers the kiddies get to see their secret unfold.

The reading area encases a heart-shaped garden that will soon be alive with tulips and snowdrops. The right houses our fort, and the sun shining through is just extra.

All pups are doing just lovely. They are healthy, happy, and still loving each other each day. Right before the holidays, they all had teeth cleanings and a few extractions. When the doctor told me Rusty would need teeth extracted, I began to immediately tear up; there’s never been a single thing wrong with him – I wasn’t used to it.

Needless to say, I had to get a grip; all was fine, they just needed some extra help. They all recovered beautifully. The evening after their surgeries, all my pups were slow to move, utterly exhausted, and eerily quiet. All was hushed outside with the thickening blanket of snow, and all was hushed inside except the hum of the heater and intermittent “Oh, my poor baby” whispers coming from yours truly.

Life with Paul is still the bee’s knees. We added some more “Dear Diary” moments to my life when we traveled to Seattle and Seabeck for our 11th anniversary, where we visited with a wonderful old family friend (it was like having an auntie living next door) who I hadn’t seen in nearly 15 years. I cried tears of joy when I saw her, and tears of sadness when we said goodbye yet another time. But, we had a lovely time eating seafood on the water, mountains in the distance and the cry of gulls circling above. (It was also her first time meeting Paul. :))

We walked the pier, taking photos and learning about the history of the area, and then she went up to a few men who were crabbing on the withered docks and talked to them as if she had known them for years. They showed off their catches, explained a bit about what they do for a living, how long they lived in the area, other small talk, and then we parted ways.

I learned so much about her fascinating life and fierce independence, things I never knew or realized as a child, and decided right then and there that here was another heroine added to my list. When we left, I sent her a note letting her know it felt as if a puzzle piece was put back into my life.

And then Paul and I went back to life with just us two. We meandered around Seattle, had coffee and breakfast on the water, walked through the market thoroughly enjoying the variety of things and people, clinked our glasses to 11 years of marriage at a candle-lit Italian restaurant, and then headed out to Seabeck, a little town across the water from Olympic National Park, on the Hood Canal.

Completely surrounded by lush greenery on either side when driving, I can see why some people think Bigfoot originated in Washington. We woke up each morning in our cottage looking for orca whales (it is not uncommon to spot them out and about) otters, seals, and anything else causing waves in the quiet, calm sea. I looked for seashells each day, we attempted to find oysters on shore to cook but most were already cracked open by birds, and we pretty much just stared out to sea until we had to go back home. (Friends, I think we belong by the water.)

My creative ideas for the calendar and other stewing projects are slowly coming out to play. All winter, it has been as if my mind is dormant. All creativity and utter nonsense is nowhere to be found; all that is in my brain are constant streams of lesson planning, student engagement, ideas on closing education gaps, data analysis, grading, and more. I wake in the middle of the night and my thoughts immediately go to a struggling student or friendship drama or worse-case scenarios. I have been eating, sleeping, and breathing teaching. My brain is in overdrive and it’s finally asking for a little help; it’s asking me to just be. So, on weekends I’ve been trying to give it a break. I’m trying to give it time to do absolutely nothing. No plans, no outings, just nothingness. Usually the best of some things come from doing absolutely nothing. And that’s exactly what I have needed. As soon as my last conference was over in February, Paul and I took off up north as the sun set to do a whole lot of nothing.

We stayed in Canal Park for a night, and the following morning we were greeted with sunshine and warm weather (for February). We walked a bit, steering clear of the pier that had mounds of ice blocking its entrance, and then made our way to a coffee shop in the basement of one of the area’s historic buildings.

Do you know what we did? Yes, that’s right. A whole lot of nothing. We sipped our drinks in cozy armchairs, he read the news and I read an herb gardening book I found on the shelf for guest’s enjoyment. I loved it so much that I asked the owner if I could buy it. “Keep it,” they said. I smiled a big cheesy grin, told them they were the best humans ever, thanked them, added a few to their tip jar, and skipped back to my chair. (After looking it up online, they were way too generous; the book goes for $60+ online because it’s out of print. Lucky day for me!)

And then, because we didn’t have plans and were so used to doing a whole lot of nothing, we decided to do the same at a brewery on the lake. When Paul goes to the Boundary Waters each summer, he tries to stop here on the way home. I’ve never been to Castle Danger Brewery, but now I think it’s a must whenever we go back up north.

As the sun set on our second evening, we made our way further north to a tiny grocery store with lake in view, and arrived at our rental on the water, complete with a fireplace, a kitchen, a record player, and a view. That’s really all we needed. I unpacked my paints and took my position at the dining room table, Paul kept the fire going all day, and we stared some more at the water.

I haven’t had a free weekend since, but I’m slowly racking up the single free days and my creativity is slowly moving, like a iron crank, towards something. I’ve learned that if I just sit there and stare at the paper, nothing comes out and I begin to feel stressed and disappointed. So I move. I clean up little areas of the house, wash dirty dishes, fold some clothes, stare out the window, read through quote books, write in my diary, play the piano, take a bubble bath, or walk. And then, out of nowhere, a little spark begins to take shape. That’s what happened today, that’s why I’m writing to you. It kept nagging at me all week, the desire to get back on the blog, until I finally gave in, pushing aside the thoughts that I should be doing something more productive. Shhh, Responsible Thoughts.

I am, for lack of better word, determined, to complete the 2024 wall calendar. I’m down to a few months left to conquer: November, December, and a pinch of September (it’s mostly done). I have historically struggled with these months, leaving them to the end, and needless to say I’ve done it again. I’m searching for something, anything, to make sense, to be able to put together something that will make others happy. Because really, this calendar is for you. (They all are.) If you have any ideas on what you’d like to see, please please please send me a message or leave a comment. I’m always open to suggestions, for this year and for future calendars. :)

The laundry is yelling at me that it’s done, my lunch for tomorrow needs to be made, and my diary is patiently awaiting my return. Perhaps next time I can tell you all about my magical trip to Disney World a few months ago with my sister and nephews – it was truly a week we’ll never forget. Mickey even blew me a kiss. What more could I ask for?! So, I’ll come back when that little spark ignites again. Hopefully soon, dear friend. Or at least before the tulips begin to show.

  1. Pamela Welter says:

    Hi Nikki,

    It’s always uplifting to see a post from you! And I am elated to hear that the 2024 calendar is done – YAY!!! I can’t wait to see it. I have really missed your calendar this year and all the unique quotes and holidays and paintings you create for us on it.

    I adore the way you make images of the night – the northern lights one was spectacular! It made me feel awe and wonder. Seeing the Northern lights is something I keep looking for on nights when they say they will be visible, but so far, no luck.

    Your students are so fortunate to have you for a teacher. Your idea to make a Secret Garden with a banner, heart-shaped reading area and fort was so inspiring.
    I remember reading that book as a young girl and wanting to create my own secret garden near a treehouse we had in the woods.
    I have since re-read the book and have it in my personal library, as well as watched many versions of the movie.
    Let us know when the flowers bloom there. I bet the kids enjoy being there so much. And the story you introduced them to will stay with them for many years to come.

    I enjoyed what you wrote about your family friend who was like an auntie in your life and how you visited again and learned new things about her.
    I often think of the women in my life and how strong and independent they were – I wish I had known them more. You phrased it well when you called her a heroine in your life. What a precious time you had together! Thank you for sharing it.

    I also thought it was meant to be that you were gifted a book in that coffee shop – it looks like one that would be perfect for you! So amazing!

    Spring is taking its old sweet time here in Minnesota this year, but your letter was like a little breath of apple-blossomed air. I appreciate you. Your beautiful art and writing touched my heart and spirit once again.

    Happy Spring Blessings to you with a sprinkle of flower petals and stardust*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

    • Nikki says:

      Oh Pamela, you are so kind to me. Thank you so much for supporting my work. I often think of you if I have doubts in my paintings – it’s always wonderful to hear that you enjoy them.

      I wish I were able to see the Northern Lights here! I completely forgot and missed out! Hopefully they come again next year towards the Cities.

      The Secret Garden produced a lot of tulips which soon became food for all the animals.:) But, the kids enjoyed seeing even the eaten pieces.:) But, the day lilies and hostas we planted are shooting through and we are thrilled!

      I hope you have been able to enjoy our yo-yo type Minnesota spring weather – it looks like it finally will stay warm! I just received a bare root David Austin rose in the mail this morning and I’m hoping to have it planted this afternoon! Crossing my fingers snow stays away for good.:)

      Sending you hugs and love,


  2. Patricia Conway says:

    Great to read about your sojourns, Nikki. Hope you finish the calendar soon!

    • Nikki says:

      Thank you so much, Patricia! The calendar is officially finished! It will be here in about 6-7 weeks! I’ll be posting again really soon :) Hope all is well with you!

  3. Tristan Murry says:

    Love you guys! Cutest couple :)

  4. Nana says:

    Beautiful blog my sweet granddaughter.Love you more