take your broken he♥rt …

since 1999 … January has been a challenging month with the anniversary of our son’s death… he was killed exactly one month before his 17th birthday…magpies-nest-turn-into-art-left-background

this year I wanted to create a January Art Journal to help me through this bumpy time… turns out I am feeling like I’ve turned a bit of a corner with lightness and joy and many more bright days than dark (extremely grateful for that!!!)…magpies-nest-patty-szymkowicz-turn-into-art-right-side

losing a child is every parents worst nightmare…  even I have a hard time finding the words to comfort friends that have lost a loved one…magpies-nest-patty-szymkowicz-heart-closeup

it is not my intention to look for sympathy by mentioning Alex but rather to share that there is hope for joy in life after great loss as I’m sure some of you have also experienced… somehow we keep on going…

what I would say to anyone suffering from grief and loss is be gentle with yourself… there are no rules… seek healing in ways that feel right to you and know that it will get more bearable over time…magpies-nest-patty-szymkowicz-take-your-broken-heart-turn-it-into-art

I am joining Erika’s “tell me a story” challenge over at Art Journal Journey…

and thanks to Susi’s invitation to join the L♥VE theme over at Moo-Mania & More

“It has been said, ‘that time heals all wounds.’  I do not agree.  The wounds remain.  In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens.  But it is never gone.” ~Rose Kennedy

when snow falls…

img_0414we had a “conversational” snowfall on Saturday which was just enough to add a sheer white blanket to the garden…img_0413

the birds got extra excited at the suet feeder even over just a few flakes…


I am joining Erika’s “Tell Me A Story” challenge at Art Journal Journeyimg_0417

the story behind my two page spread is simply my Love of snow with the special hush and purity it brings…img_0005

a couple of images torn from The Washington Post along with the words “drift” and “snow” were added to book pages that I had brayered with gesso…  I printed out the rest of the quote using our laser printer… the font that I chose happened to match perfectly… the finishing touch was some splatters of gesso…

“When snow falls, Nature listens” -Antoinette van Kleef

turning over a new leaf…

typing on my new iPad that Mr Magpie surprised me with waiting to see how it works posting on my blog…img_0211so here goes…img_0238

WOW it works like a charm and it fits in nicely with my word for 2017 (SIMPLIFY is a word I have chosen as my  word of the year in the past…turns out it still needs work)…img_0236

these days I take so many photos with my iPhone it should be easier to attach those photos in my blog posts directly instead of having to send them to myself and work with them from the main computer… magpies-nest-patty-szymkowicz-january-sunlight

a more streamlined process that I am really excited about with some tricks still left to learn…1magpies-nest-patty-szymkowicz-candlelight-cuppa

I am joining everyone over at Elizabeth’s Altered Book Lover for T Stands for Tuesdaymagpies-nest-patty-szymkowicz-time

wishing you a happy day (footnote: in the end I did have to fine tune a bit from my real computer but the iPad will definitely open new doors and I can stand instead of sitting all the time too!)

Grateful and Hopeful…

Erika’s theme of TELL ME A STORY over at Art Journal Journey this month is wide open to interpretation…magpies-nest-patty-szymkowicz-ranunculus

back in 2009 I created a December art journal that is still fun to look through (my angel cover below)…magpies-nest-patty-szymkowicz-december-art-journal-2009-cover

since then I have wanted to do a January art journal so here I go (this time I glued some pages together in an old book as I found working in a spiral book not that easy by the time I got to the end)…magpies-nest-patty-szymkowicz-various-papers

as it happens my first January spread has a couple of kinds of tissue included which also fits the theme over at Try it on Tuesdaymagpies-nest-right-page

I used Matte Medium to adhere the newspaper photo of trees to my painted pages and it worked nicely for the tissue papers too helping them melt into the surface…magpies-nest-patty-szymkowicz-grateful-2016-hopeful-2017

everything has a story…

“Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.” -Eckhart Tolle

birthday getaway Anne Hathaway style…

at the end of November we took a little break from home improvements and drove about 2.5 hours southwest toward the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia…

we booked three nights at the beautiful Inn of Old Virginia and stayed in a lovely room in the renovated barn where some of the exposed beams date back to Civil War times…magpies-nest-patty-szymkowicz-inn-at-old-virginia

there were some beautiful sunrise views from our balcony…magpies-nest-jim-szymkowicz-sunrise-over-blue-ridge-mtns

breakfasts at the inn were delicious with such great attention to detail…magpies-nest-patty-szymkowicz-inn-of-old-virginia-breakfast

it had a relaxing atmosphere with very gracious hosts…

magpies-nest-inn-at-old-virginia-restored-barnthe nearby town of Staunton (pronounced STAN-ten) is known for being the birthplace of Woodrow Wilson who was the 28th president of the U.S… magpies-nest-staunton-va-xoxo-doorsit is home to the American Shakespeare Center with a replica of Shakespeare’s Blackfriars Theatre… magpies-nest-staunton-shops

we enjoyed a performance of The 12 Dates of Christmas which was thoroughly entertaining and captivating in the beautiful wooden theatre…magpies-nest-giant-watering-can-and-garden-pots

one of the main reasons we chose Staunton was because of a special tea room…magpies-nest-streets-of-stauntonwe even brought our Traveling Tea Cup along…magpies-nest-anne-hathaway-cottage-tea-room-with-the-traveling-t-cup
I could hardly believe there was a REAL thatched cottage in Virginia which reminded us of the thatched cottages in the UK when we visited back in 2013 (photo below)…magpies-nest-stratford-upon-avon-uk-tour-2013

that is us standing in front of Anne Hathaway’s real cottage in Stratford-upon-Avon and we stumbled upon Hathaway TEA Rooms there and enjoyed a huge tea for two out in the garden…magpies-nest-anne-hathaway-birthday-tea-dec-2016 back to Virginia where we celebrated my 5 December birthday at Anne Hathaway’s Cottage Tea Room (tea for one and Mr Magpie had the Plowman’s Lunch…we shared a pot of Earl Grey)…magpies-nest-jim-szymkowicz-1600s-english-farm

such a fun time and I didn’t even get to tell you about our visit to the Frontier Culture Museummagpies-nest-1700s-irish-farmbut I’ve kept you so long already…magpies-nest-frontier-museum-reflections

wishing you a very Happy T Day along with everyone over at Elizabeth’s Altered Book Lover…

~*Happy New Year*~

sending every good and special wish your way…


“Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.”  -Oprah Winfrey

darkness to Light…

I have missed art journaling and playing along with my favorite challenge blog friends over at Art Journal Journeymagpies-nest-patty-szymkowicz-progress-1

Valerie’s brilliant theme this month is “Light and Darkness” which is something I think about quite a bit having experienced a fair bit of darkness in my life (mostly in the form of loss)…


we all have to face it at some point (I used a fine tip black Sharpie marker for highlights around the gold)…magpies-nest-patty-szymkowicz-dark-to-light-closeup

I have also been blessed with so much beautiful Light (couldn’t help but notice the difference in the Light in my photos)…magpies-nest-patty-szymkowicz-progress-3

this journal page began with what was left from a sheet of Christmas stamps (those little snippets always seem too nice to throw away)…


“Maybe you have to know the darkness before you can appreciate the light.” -Madeline L’Engle

coming to the end…

joining Elizabeth’s T Stands for Tuesday with a little look back over the year as I try to get back in the swing of things after such a long disconnect…patty-szymkowicz-t-stands-for-tuesday-2016

life goes on for everyone and I know you have all been busy creating and blogging and I have missed so much…magpies-nest-patty-szymkowicz-best-of-france-tour-2016

my creativity shifted from art journaling and creating to making decisions and plans for all the changes we’ve had going on here at home for the last many months…magpies-nest-patty-szymkowicz-new-kitchen

our kitchen remodeling is finally complete and we are enjoying it very much…magpies-nest-patty-szymkowicz-omis-tea-set

after adding cabinets to the side of the room where the computer once was we decided to move the main computer upstairs and out of the main flow of things…magpies-nest-patty-szymkowicz-new-kitchen-place-to-play

with only a cell phone and typing with my pointer finger I felt a bit limited and was not able to visit blogs or update my blog (one finger typing worked OK for short exchanges on Facebook)…magpies-nest-patty-szymkowicz-fa-la-laaa

blogging has been a part of my life for so many years I have missed connecting with friends all around the globe…magpies-nest-patty-szymkowicz-tannenbaum

thank you all for a wonderful year of connection and inspiration…magpies-nest-kiwi-tree

~*Wishing you Brightest of Blessings in the New Year *~

~* Sending Best Wishes Always *~

Hello dear ones … so much time has passed since I was last here…

I think of you often and hope you are well…


out with the old and in with the new…

we have lived in the same house for over 32 years which was newly built when we moved in…magpies-nest-patty-szymkowicz-32-yr-old-kitchen

the original cabinets and laminate counter tops were nothing fancy but they served us well over the years (I really liked my stainless steel sink a lot too)…magpies-nest-enclosed-back-porch

since the contractor that did our recent renovations did such a nice job and there happened to be a 25% off cabinet sale we decided to get new white cabinets and counters to update our kitchen…magpies-nest-open-kitchen-shelves

that means moving everything out (Mr Magpie built these shelves for us years ago)magpies-nest-dream-shelf

over the weekend we enjoyed some cherry apple canelé baked at our local Le Pain Quotidien bakery… they were almost as good as the first ones we got to try at a Sunday fresh air market in Libourne, France back in April…

our tour director introduced us to a gentleman that still made them the old fashioned way brushing the fluted metal molds with beeswax which gave the cannelés a special crunch on the outside YUM (that is a new heart rock that Mr Magpie surprised me with above)…


it was such a special happening right there on the street that we did not get any good photos of that encounter (the old metal pans were a thing of beauty)…

2016 has been an exciting year of changes for us…


not sure how plugged in I will be while the renovations are going on the next couple of weeks because the main computer has to be moved and that is the only way I can do blog posts or comment…magpies-nest-autumn-days

here’s wishing you a Happy November (ALREADY!) and a Happy T Day too as I join everyone over at Elizabeth’s Altered Book Lover…

October dresses in flame and gold…

magpies-nest-october-right-pagethe free image of the rose lady had been patiently waiting in one of my art journals which is a thin book with glued together pages that I started back in January (still plenty of room in this altered book)magpies-nest-october-poem-simple-abundance

after seeing this October poem in one of my copies of Simple Abundance I knew where my pages would be headed next (the book is inspiring on many levels with lots of quotes and uplifting reading… it is also my favorite go to book when I am doing found poetry which is different than just using verse like I have done here)…magpies-nest-october-left-page

we had some record breaking hot temperatures for a few days and now our Indian Summer has gone and left us with crazy wild winds and much cooler temps so the poem fit that nicely too…magpies-nest-patty-szymkowicz-october

pieces of two different napkins along with some smeared gesso using a plastic pallet knife finished two more pages for Valerie’s Art Journal Journey Indian Summer – Golden October – Autumn challenge

Autumn in Everything…

happy to have some time in the middle of our beautiful Indian Summer days here in Virginia to share two spreads that I created over the last couple of weeks…magpies-nest-autumn-grows-pages

these pages were inspired by an ad for a ballet performance that I clipped from The Washington Post and I just happened to have a stencil that I wanted to play with too…magpies-nest-patty-szymkowicz-autumn-grows

I liked these pages so much I did not want to cover them up but I eventually forged ahead and had fun adding gold paint along with the Robert Browning quote…magpies-nest-patty-szymkowicz-autumn-gold

now for something a little different… these green and gold pages were an attempt to step outside my comfort zone using colors and collage in a different way…


I am still not crazy about the end result but thought I’d share both spreads with you since I had Valerie’s Golden Autumn theme in mind for Art Journal Journey this month when I created them..


“There is something incredibly nostalgic and significant about the annual cascade of autumn leaves.” -Joe L. Wheeler

Plum Torte time is here again…

 last year around this time I shared the fun of making this delicious plum cake with you heremagpies-nest-patty-szymkowicz-real-plum-quote

 there is a link for the recipe there too if you are interested…


I have been off my game lately when it comes to taking photos and being connected on line…magpies-nest-plum-torte

but I did take a photo of the Plum Torte that Mr Magpie and I whipped up over the weekend…magpies-nest-dogwood

letting it rest overnight after baking as recommended is not easy when the house is full of delicious cake smells…magpies-nest-patty-szymkowicz-life-is-fragile

but like so many things we have to wait for in life it was worth it in the end and so delicious…magpies-nest-patty-szymkowicz-morning-sun-on-ferns

joining everyone over at Elizabeth’s T Stands for Tuesday to wish you a happy day…