Monthly Archives: November 2013

Bee Smitten #2: Banner Celebrations

Merry Christmas banner by Elisabeth Hunter

Merry Christmas banner by Elisabeth Hunter

I am writing today about one of my favorite things made by one of my favorite people: celebration banners by Elisabeth Hunter (Charleston, South Carolina).

Merry Christmas banner by Elisabeth Hunter $35

Merry Christmas banner by Elisabeth Hunter $35

Just in time for the holidays, these hand-made banners are perfect for gifts or for decorating your own home.

I was so excited to see the brown paper package at my doorstep yesterday afternoon!

Joy comes in brown paper packages tied up with string / Photo by Amy Watson Smith

Joy comes in brown paper packages tied up with string

I suppose I should have bought this as a gift for someone else but I just couldn’t resist the tartan plaid.

Joy tartan banner / Photo by Amy Watson Smith

Joy banner with English springer spaniels / Photo by Amy Watson Smith

Even Hattie and Chester were filled with joy!

I asked Elisabeth to tell me a bit more about how she got started making these banners. Her story follows below.

“I grew up watching my Mom and Grandmother sew (and occasionally helping) but had never tackled a project on my own.

After [my first child] Henry was born, I was a stay-at-home Mama for the first time (I’d been a work-from-home-newlywed for the previous two years) and I found that after the newborn stage passed, I craved a creative outlet.  I got a sewing machine and for my nephew’s first birthday, I made him a birthday banner. It remains one of my favorites.  For the following year I gave birthday banners to many friends and family members.

I had put my sewing machine up (when sewing it lives on our dining room table or in the middle of our den) in early 2011, but in July we got George’s diagnosis* and I pulled it back out. I needed a distraction from Web MD and sewing provided it.  I sewed compulsively for the next 3 months while waiting to move to Boston for his birth.

I go through phases where I tire of the mess it makes in the middle of our house but it’s hard to stop myself from buying pretty fabric when I see it.  I’ve enjoyed making holiday banners this year because it gives me a little bit of focus … and selling them makes this a hobby that pays for itself and gives me money to indulge my insatiable appetite for classic children’s clothes.”

*I am saving George’s amazing story for a later post.

Happy Birthday banner by Elisabeth Hunter $35

Pricing for the banners is based on the banner’s length.  Short ones like “Boo!” or “JOY” are $15, longer ones “Thankful”, “Grateful”, “Give Thanks”, “Believe” are $25 and long ones “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Birthday” are $35.  Prices include shipping in a padded envelope. To add a name to a birthday banner, please add $10.

To order one of Elisabeth’s banners, email her at

All photos are by Elisabeth Hunter unless otherwise specified.

Surprised by Subtlety: 4 Ways I Have Learned to Embrace Change

Lowcountry fall leaves

Autumn in coastal South Carolina is subtle. We don’t get much of the showy reds and oranges and yellows that one thinks of in the fall. We mainly have evergreen trees and plants in the lowcountry: live oaks, pines, palmettos, wax myrtles, loquat and holly. And the dramatic temperature changes can be a bit tricky: hot and humid one day, cool and crisp the next.

When I first moved to Charleston almost 20 years ago from the mid-Atlantic and New England regions, I would have said that Charleston didn’t have an autumn. I desperately missed the traditional fall foliage (though not the cold and snowy winters).

But I wasn’t seeing what was right before my eyes as I drove across the many bridges spanning the region’s salt marshes. I was overlooking the obvious: the subtle changes in color of the Spartina marsh grass from springtime chartreuse to the brown and amber of the fall. Even though I hadn’t noticed the beauty of this season, change was taking place all around me.

Twilight autumn marsh view

Sunset over the salt marsh, Isle of Palms connector, South Carolina (Photo by Amy Watson Smith)


Sweetgrass turned purple

South Carolina sweet grass turns a lovely shade of purple in autumn (Photo by Amy Watson Smith)

I began to wonder what other changes I had not noticed because of subtlety and my inattention.

Learning to open my eyes and mind to change. 

I am not particularly comfortable with change–particularly change that surprises me. I suppose that I should not be surprised when things in life do not go according to my plans. Change is happening continually.

But when I am feeling secure in a particular season of life, I somehow I convince myself that everything will stay as it is: children won’t get older, parents won’t get ill, jobs won’t end, . . . . This isn’t a very useful or realistic attitude to take. Looking at the list I realize that it’s a pretty negative view of things. I need to change my perspective and come to terms with the notion that change is a given. But not all change is a bad thing.

Learning to pay attention to the details.

Once I have learned to open my eyes to change, I can begin to see the small, incremental alterations that often lead to the big changes in life.

Lowcountry grasses

This field of grass appeared just dull brown from a distance but upon closer inspection I noticed green living grass peppering the field of dried grasses. (Photo by Amy Watson Smith)

Lowcountry autumn

When my daughter was eight-and-a-half months old, she took her first steps. I was surprised because she did not go through the regular developmental progression of crawling before walking. She went directly from sitting to walking–or at least that is how it seemed. But there were indications that change was happening all along as she pulled herself up to a standing position and began cruising the furniture (at 8 months-yikes!). I must have realized this on a subconscious level because my husband and I knew it was time to move from our tiny downtown Charleston 19th century kitchen house to something with a bit more floor space.

For me documenting the details around me is how I am learning to pay attention. Writing about my life and photographing the world around me helps me to notice the details and the small changes taking place around me.

Learning to see the bigger picture.

Sometimes, though, I can get so caught up in the details that I forget to take a long view of things. It’s a case of the proverbial “not seeing the forest for the trees.” This happens to me creatively quite often when I get so caught up in the minutia of a project I am working on that I forget to step back to see where this particular element fits into the whole.

Lowcountry marsh in autumn

Fall sunset on Isle of Palms Connector

I am learning to see the bigger picture of particular seasons of my life by looking back and by looking ahead. I try to place this season on the time line of my life (yes, a literal time line) and am able to see that what seems like an interminable period may in reality be only a blip.

I am learning to see connections of a particular season of my life to a past event or time as well as trying to anticipate consequences in the future. I am looking for God’s hand in my life to see what he may doing to shape and form me. I am trying to learn from the difficult times and the easy times.

Learning to embrace the season I am in.

This may be the toughest part of it all. Complaining comes far too easily to me.

I used to tell the girls in my Girl Scout troop, “You get what you get, so don’t throw a fit.” I need to remind myself of this when I lash out and cry to God, “This isn’t fair!”

I’m not suggesting that we don’t have any control over things in our lives so just sit back and take it. Not at all. I am saying that sometimes we find ourselves in a place that is hard or painful perhaps because of something we have done or someone or something else has caused the situation. It may not be fair. It may not be fun. It may be very, very hard.

Lowcountry autumn afternoon

Learning to embrace the season I am in (Photo by Amy Watson Smith)

Now what if I open my eyes and heart to gratitude? What is it in this situation that I can be thankful for? Where can I see the goodness of God? What can I learn? How can I thank Him in this hard season?

The only way I know to do this difficult step is capture it–embrace it–document it.

Do you have a way of embracing the season you are in? How do you respond to change?


It was one of those perfect English autumnal days