“Life Is A Journey and The People We Meet Along The Way”

unique gifts

I love love love making these etched copper sun catchers.     Each one has a story of some kind.

Here’s the story behind the “Life Is A Journey And The People We Meet Along The Way” sun catcher prisms I created.

You know those times when you meet someone for the first time and you later wonder if it was a one time chance meeting or maybe the meeting of your soulmate or a lasting true friendship.

I created this copper sun catcher after just one of those chance meetings during a weekend road trip Greg and I took to Galena, Illinois.

You haven’t been there?   You should change that to haven’t been there “yet” and but it on your bucket list of places to visit.      It is a quaint little river town in Northern Illinois with much to see and do.   Historical.    Cool, old buildings.    Beautiful landscape and an awesome drive, especially in the fall.   We’ve been to Galena a couple of times and always find something new to discover.

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My photos don’t do the town justice!   Just go there and see it for yourself.

So, here’s the story behind the creation of this sun catcher.     On our last visit to Galena we stayed at the historic Desoto House Hotel.    Lovely stay and I highly recommend.    Our package deal offered a few cool amenities including tickets to the Galena Historical Society and a Galena Trolley Tour.    (And, yes, I highly recommend both.)

We decided on the early morning trolley tour.      We rose early, had breakfast at a local restaurant and took a stroll down the streets of Galena basking in the serenity of still quiet streets as the stores were not yet opened and the town not yet bustling with tourist activity.

As we strolled we absorbed the beauty of the morning, browsing in windows of quaint little shops and antique stores, and taking in the sights around us.    We came upon one of the long stairways of Galena and I jokingly challenged Greg to a race up the steps.

Galena Illinois Stairway
Galena Illinois Stairway

There was a woman sitting on a bench who heard me make the challenge.    She commented on the steps and started giving us a little history behind them.    As we chatted with her  the topic of the trolley popped up.   She, too, had a ticket to ride.     So, she joined us as we continued our stroll to the trolley station.

Galena Illinois Trolley
Galena Illinois Trolley

There she introduced herself to us as Katherine Walker, Executive Director of Tourism for Jo Daviess County.   She also introduced us to a couple she had made previous arrangements to meet for the trolley tour; Phoebe Smith, from the United Kingdom, Editor for Wanderlust Magazine and, John, her photographer.

These two travel all over the WORLD experiencing and reporting on beautiful places to visit.    Talk about an awesome career.     They were in the United States traveling down the Mississippi River stopping to explore the river towns along the way.    Very cool to have met them and have had the opportunity to chat with them.   The article was set to be published sometime in the fall of 2017, if I recall correctly.   I’m going to look into that.   I’d love to see their article.

Anyway, we all boarded the trolley and enjoyed a great tour.   Being early in the morning there weren’t many other passengers.   A fabulous time to ride and be able to get great views from both sides of the trolley car.

After the tour, Katherine asked if we had dinner plans and invited us to join her.  We were happy to accept.    We made plans to meet later that evening at Fritz and Frites, a lovely European style restaurant.

During dinner we chatted about Galena and Jo Daviess County and how there was so much more to see in the surrounding areas.   We also learned that Katherine was originally from Belleville, Illinois, my home town as well.     Small world, right?

To me the evening was almost surreal as Katherine’s pleasant personality and easy conversation made us feel as if we had known her forever as she told us her stories about Galena and bits of her life.    The night went by too quickly but it was certainly a night to remember.

Together, the three of us walked back to the hotel, said our goodbyes at the hotel lobby, and from there Katherine whet her way and we on ours.

Feeling a bit melancholy with our evening now at an end, I, as I am sometimes known to do, started spinning a story to Greg.    Was Katherine real or perhaps a Galena ghost there to tout her beautiful city and to guide tourists?    Was she a hotel ghost or did she walk the streets and climb the stairways?    How was it she was sitting on that bench this morning and just happened to hear my comment about the stairs?    And, she just happened to be going to the trolley, too?    She was so easy to talk with, no uncomfortable pauses in the conversation at dinner with someone who was a complete strange.  And, she was from Belleville?   You know there is a ghost story linked with this hotel, do you think Katherine may be the ghost…..

Yes, that stay in Galena was pure magic.   Of course traveling with my most awesome husband is always magical but this last trip to Galena was made even more mystical and intriguing by the kindness and interesting personality of a mere stranger who happened to cross our path that day.

Katherine had such an impact on me that I wanted to send her a thank you for hosting such a marvelous evening for us during our Galena stay.    It was quite memorable.

And, that’s how I came to create these “Life Is A Journey and The People We Meet Along the Way” sun catchers.      Because you never know who you might meet and how they may inspire you along your journey.

In conclusion, yes Katherine Walker is real.    I searched on the internet to find an address so I could send her a thank you c/o the Convention and Visitors Bureau of Jo Daviess County.     Truthfully, though, I was kind of hoping that I wouldn’t be able to find any information on her.    That way my ghost theory could become my next best seller, or should I say my first best seller.    And, then again I never know when my creative catalyst might just become a reality because of that one person I met along my way.

But, in all seriousness, I’m glad she is real because she is quite a lovely woman, a stranger who made an effort to become an acquaintance and share a moment in time with two very grateful people.

Life is a journey and the people we meet along the way.     Always wander and wonder!

free spirit

Nothing changes if nothing changes…….



Since opening my JudysTreehouse shop on Etsy in 2014, I can honestly say, “I’ve come a long way, baby” to get where I’ve gotten today.     When I look back at what little I did know about opening an online business and what I’ve learned and put into action I’m pleased with myself and thankful to those who have helped me.    Especially my husband, Greg.

Here’s a quote that has stuck with me over the years.    I’m not sure who coined this phrase but I picked it up from a manager I once had……

“Nothing changes if nothing changes.”

After a few years with Etsy I realized the effort and hard work that marketing requires.   Creating beautiful, unique, quality handmade items just isn’t enough.   To help the people find these beautiful, unique, quality handmade jewelry and gifts it takes quality photos, informative descriptions, great customer service, ongoing education around the internet and online businesses, positive thinking, an upbeat attitude, and faith!…….to name a few….

There are hundreds of thousands of online businesses.    There are hundreds of thousands of jewelry and gift shops.     There are hundreds of thousands of people who are looking for beautiful, unique, quality handmade jewelry and gifts.     How can I help them find them at https://www.JudysTreehouse.etsy.com.

I am constantly researching and learning and adapting to the ways and whatnot of having a successful online jewelry and gift shop.     I’ve learned a lot.    I’ve implemented a lot.    I’ve changed a lot.      Things were beginning to pickup but still, was I doing enough?

Here’s another quote that has stuck with me over the years.    Again, I’m not sure who coined this phrase but it’s another I picked up from a different manager I once had…..

“Complacency is the antithesis of excellence”

Etsy has a remarkable number of jewelry and gift shops.     There’s a plethora of beautiful, unique, quality handmade jewelry and gifts you can find on Etsy.    I, however, was frustrated (oh, bad negative energy) with what I thought wasn’t enough traffic to my shop.   I make beautiful, unique, quality handmade jewelry and gifts.   I was trying but it was slow going for me trying to be found on the great big web of Etsy.      What am I doing wrong?

So rather than just sit and wait and keep trying (throwing mud at the wall and hoping it would stick), I ventured out a little further on the internet sales platform, found an e-commerce website and decided to give it a try.

In late May, 2017 I opened my second shop, JudysTreehouse.myshopify.com.     I set up what I thought to be a nice, user friendly shop with quality photos and good descriptions of my beautiful, unique, quality handmade jewelry and gifts.     It was a new platform for me, very different from having my shop on Etsy.    I was researching, paying for advertising, posting on my blog, Facebook and Instagram, utilizing tips and techniques to help people find my shop.    But, what I was doing wasn’t enough.

After three months with a few headaches, no sales and pretty much no traffic to this second shop I’ve decided to close it.    I did learn a lot more about online business and marketing during those brief few months so not all efforts were lost.  Someday, I may decide to give it another try but for now I feel my best efforts are directed at having one online shop.    This way I can focus on continuously improving and implementing ways to help those people who love beautiful, unique, quality handmade jewelry and gifts find that something special at https://JudysTreehouse.etsy.com.

And, on a positive note, visits and sales are picking up at https://JudysTreehouse.etsy.com.     I’ve topped 100 total sales, I’ve had great customers and great feedback.    Perhaps my mud throwing efforts are starting to stick.

I am very grateful for all of the people who visit JudysTreehouse.   To have someone who loves beautiful, unique, quality handmade jewelry and gifts find that perfect something they’ve been looking for at JudysTreehouse is a pleasure beyond belief.    It is such a delight to send something I’ve loving created to someone miles away all across the USA.     I am very thankful and blessed.

So, in closing, I’ll offer a third and final quote.    And, yes, you guessed it, I don’t know who coined it and it did come from a different manager I once had…..

“Nothing endures but change”

And, with that said, I endure to change whatever I can to help those of you who love beautiful, unique, handmade items and gifts find what I have created and continue to create at https://www.JudysTreehouse.etsy.com

Peace, Love, and Joy


Some of the places where my creations have found home!
Some of the places where my creations have found homes.

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And So I Thought…..

I am a tiny dot of uniqueness in an over crowded sea of common!

And I like it that way!

Who are you?

Grow In Your Own Direction
Grow In Your Own Direction

Grow in your own direction.    And, love and respect the uniqueness of those around us!

Peace Love and Joy


Simple Pleasures Bring Great Joy

The weather here in Central Illinois has been almost fall like the past few weeks.

The A.C. has been turned off!

Open windows tease and tantalize all of my senses;  a cool breeze, fluttering curtains, fresh air, scents from my gardens, sunshine on my hardwood floors, shadow art, crickets, locust, and frog bands warming up for the night, dinner on the front porch with veggies and herbs from my garden…….. A few of life’s simple pleasures bring me such joy……..

View from my front porch...one of my favorite hangouts!
View from my front porch…one of my favorite hangouts!

Being outside on my porch.   Seeing the peaceful beauty of butterflies, bugs and hummingbirds (to name a few) as they flutter and fuss around my front yard garden.

Happy chics!
Happy chics!

Watching my chicks and fancy rooster waddle and cluck around the yard.   They are such a hoot!

One of my giant mums.....going to be spectacular this year!
One of my giant mums…..going to be spectacular this year!
My fall garden....Indian corn, sunflowers, pumpkins and gourds, oh my!
My fall garden….Indian corn, sunflowers, pumpkins and gourds, oh my!
Love Zinnias.......a must plant every year!
Love Zinnias…….a must plant every year!
Mums......must have for fall.   This one will showcase lovely purple blooms
Mums……must have for fall. This one will showcase lovely purple blooms

My gardens!    Ever changing and preparing for fall.    Mums, Indian Corn, Sunflowers, Gourds, and Pumpkins!     And my zinnias…….a must have every year!    Bursts of bright colors and the butterflies love them!

earthy treasure hunts.....tiny bird nest blown from a tree
earthy treasure hunts…..tiny bird nest blown from a tree
cool spider home
cool spider home

Amazing and intricate architecture in nature!    Like this little birds nest I found on the ground and cool (albeit creepy) spider webs!

Cool Halloween Decor!    Love to celebrate the seasons!
Cool Halloween Decor! Love to celebrate the seasons!

Magazines in the mail advertising cool stuff!      Especially for Halloween and Christmas!    Two favorites for decorating!

Shadow art and other eye catching creations from the sun streaming through my windows

glass jars and plants in a window create two beautiful displays!
glass jars and plants in a window create two beautiful displays!
Love the shadow art through my lace curtains
Love the shadow art through my lace curtains
Sunrise on the farm....in the boys room!
Sunrise on the farm….in the boys room!
shadow art.    Captured this pic a few weeks ago.   Angel!
shadow art. Captured this pic a few weeks ago. Angel!
A room full of rainbows.  A joint effort between Mother Nature and My Suncatchers!
A room full of rainbows. A joint effort between Mother Nature and My Suncatchers!
Otis......capturing a few rainbows!
Otis……capturing a few rainbows!

Dinner Al Fresco!    With someone I love!

Dinner Al Fresco!
Dinner Al Fresco!

Enjoying the fruits of my labor!

Garden bounty and gifts from my chicks
Garden bounty and gifts from my chicks
pickles every year!
pickles every year!
corn from gardens past.....
corn from gardens past…..
freezing and preserving and enjoying year round freshness
freezing and preserving and enjoying year round freshness
pickled tomatoes and green beans
pickled tomatoes and green beans

These are a few of my favorite things!

Every day we are blessed with the abundance that God has created for all of us to enjoy!   Life is full of simple pleasures!

Carpe’ Diem!

Peace, Love, Joy and Enjoy!


“Spring Harvest – Rhubarb”

Harvested my rhubarb today!

My Kitchen Garden at JudysTreehouse

I planted this one plant about four (maybe five….how time flies) years ago in my front kitchen garden.

My Kitchen Garden at JudysTreehouse

I think I read somewhere that it takes two years to establish (like my asparagus, which I no longer have but need to restart….but two years, jeez!…..but again, how time flies so I really should get it started).

Anyway, I was inspired by our friend, Gail, who we were delighted to have come visit us recently here on the farm.   He lives in Iowa, is an avid gardener, nature/farm enthusiast and loves to cook cool and unique delicacies, many of which I’d never tried…..before Gail that is.    Still on the lookout for ground cherries to add to my garden.    His gardens are BEAUtiFul, his home warm and inviting, and his company a pleasure.     Needless to say, we love to visit him, too!

So, during his recent visit and a stroll around my gardens and talking about one of my favorite things….FOOD….we got on the subject of my rhubarb, which had yet to be harvested.     I don’t know, maybe I always thought of rhubarb as old people food, you know, as a kid if someone said rhubarb you’d likely say, YUCK, without even trying it.     Although I try to deny it, I might be getting old.

Gail said he makes a rhubarb salsa which is delish!   He told me how to make it.   (I made him tell me twice but I still didn’t remember….something about blanching it for just a few seconds, adding green onion, maybe some vinegar…..)

Well, today was “one of those days” for me.    I cleaned the house yesterday, Greg’s out in the field getting in the last of the soybeans, I was in a not sure what I want to do mood.    I “thought” I wanted to start on some necklaces but I “really” wanted to finish the book I was reading.    This past week has been difficult for me for some reason.    I’m in some kind of a funk.   Either I sent out some bad karma and it’s coming back at me or my Chi is out of sorts for one reason or another.    Just hard for me to get motivated and in sync with all of the greatness that surrounds me.    So, if you’re reading this, send me some good Karma!   I appreciate it and am sending it back to you.   I digress….But, anyway…..

I finished the book then went outside.    And,  it’s a BEAUtiFul day here today.      And, it’s getting hot!   My gardens could use a little weeding….but it’s getting hot! The weeds can wait till morning because it’s hot!.    (do you see a theme developing).

I took another look at my kitchen garden (overlooking the weeds).   Yesterday I had picked some of my strawberries……oh yea, and while I’m on the subject of my strawberry patch, it’s currently me vs the chipmunks…..

My Strawberry Patch at JudysTreehouseJudy vs the Chipmunks

We’re about 50/50 so I decided to pick some more of my strawberries today……to get ahead of the competition.

While picking strawberries I glanced up at my rhubarb and thought…..Rhubarb Salsa…..why not.      So I harvested my rhubarb for the first time in four/five/six/seven (who’s counting) years.

I think I did a pretty good job of harvesting my plant, cutting the stems with a sharp knife and leaving enough behind to help the plant stay strong (yep, I read up on that a bit!)


Since I couldn’t remember Gail’s rhubarb salsa recipe I headed to Pinterest and found a recipe or two/three/four/five (who’s counting) and added them to my Pinterest Board, Food:   Summer Garden Recipes (you can follow my Pinterest boards, I’m “Judy” (with a sunflower avatar).

And, here’s what developed in my kitchen, from my gardens!

Rhubarb Salsa

Savory Rhubarb Salsa (recipe found on Pinterest, from the website, “Shiny Cooking”).    The rhubarb, green onions and cilantro are from my garden this year.   The peppers, well, too early yet.

and, for my sweet tooth….

Strawberry Rhubarb Cream Cheese Bars

Strawberry Rhubarb Cream Cheese Bars (recipe found on Pinterest, from the website “Beki Cooks Cake Blog”).    Rhubarb and Strawberries (take that chipmunks!) from my gardens.

Haven’t tried them yet but I’m sure they will be most delicious!

And, a little leftover strawberries and rhubarb to my freezer!   Oh, what next awaits my desire to cook something creative!

Stay tuned and have a MARVELOUS weekend!

Angel Coins…….Coins from Heaven

I believe………


This is my jar of dimes.   Not just any old dimes, they’re special.     You may have heard that old saying (or song) “Pennies From Heaven”

What a beautiful song…..(link copied from youtube)

Like pennies from heaven, I receive dimes from heaven and/or my guardian angel perhaps.     It’s true!     And, I believe.

I’m not sure when I started actually “noticing” these dimes that would show up out of place and for no apparent reason.        On a step as I was climbing the stairs from my basement…….the steps that I had just gone down but hadn’t noticed a dime.          On the kitchen counter plain as day.    In a shoe….yes, a shoe.       In my pocket…….might seem a normal place but why in my pocket where the only thing I keep is a tissue.     In the washing machine, again might appear a normal place always just one single dime.      On a couch cushion.

Yes, all seemingly normal places to find a stray coin but for me it’s always that one single dime.   No other coins.   It shows up out of the blue……shiny and bright………all by itself……..for me to find!     And that is my way of knowing that it is a special coin.     I see it.    I notice it.    I pick it up and pause.      Always, always makes me smile and brings me a feeling of peace, an affirmation that things are as they should be.     It is a gift, a sign, a message of hope and joy.

Somewhere along the way I decided these little tokens of love, encouragement, peace, joy, remembrance needed to be gathered and kept…….so here they are, in a pretty little vase on my desk.

They don’t come often which makes them so very special.

Maybe you’ve noticed your guardian angel, too.     I believe we all have one, they just show themselves in different ways.    Some may be in a different realm of existence, some may be living breathing people.      Sometimes you see them, that person that pops up out of no where with a word or action that was just the message you needed.    Sometimes you may not.    But they’re there.

I was a bit hesitant to share this story, not because I was afraid you’d find me strange, but because I wanted to keep it to myself, it’s special, it’s mine.     But, no, I decided to share because I do believe.    And with belief comes hope.    And with hope comes strength.   And with strength comes action.     And with action comes results.

So believe……in yourself……and in God…….and in Guardian Angels…….and in “Pennies From Heaven” and do things, good things, with this amazing life……and you will find your way!

Goldenrod and Monarch Butterflies
Goldenrod and Monarch Butterflies