Our favorite things… best friends, perfect gifts

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Elizabeth’s Journal, covers

Elizabeth’s “Favorite Things” Journal

Elizabeth and I met years ago, via LinkedIn. We exchanged greetings, shared some feelings, shared our love of family, writing and blogging, nature. And the friendship grew.

For years, we corresponded via emails and Facebook, we partnered on a little blog sharing, etc. We enjoyed numerous phone calls. And the friendship grew.

We encouraged each other, nagged each other occasionally, counseled each other. We celebrated our accomplishments, lamented our troubles.

Years and years of correspondence, about a thousand emails, dozens of telephone conversations…

Sharkies Conference in Delaware

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Sharkies Conference

We progressed to the point that in 2016, we met for a writers’ conference at my brother and sis-in-law’s house in Newark, Delaware. This was the first time Elizabeth and I met each other face to face, and we were immediately comfortable.

When I decided to create my poetry collection, Elizabeth worked with me to make this collection beautiful and ready for publication. Without her, my No Boundaries poetry collection would not have made it to fruition.


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Porch at Shrine Mont

Shrine Mont

Later, Elizabeth invited me to her writers’ conference at Shrine Mont in Virginia. And I knew I HAD to go.

This conference was a re-affirming of our friendship, and it touched me deeply. A culminating event was walking the labyrinth at Shrine Mont with Elizabeth and other new friends, met at the conference.

A special gift

I met Alyssa and Dan Sharbono (Couple of Artists) at an event at Minot State University in North Dakota. They make custom, recycled-material journals, and I knew that this is what I needed to get for Elizabeth. She’s a journal-writing junkie, and I could customize a journal with the help of Alyssa and Dan. What a perfect partnership!

While talking to Alyssa about what this journal meant to me and what it would mean to Elizabeth, I teared up a few times. Alyssa understood how special this gift would be. I selected several of my own personal photos and screen shots, and with Alyssa’s help, created a most beautiful journal for my special friend.

In the journal, I included…

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Labyrinth at Shrine Mont

  • A pic of a few of us at the Sharkies conference in Delaware (with my goofy brother photo-bombing)
  • The Shrine Mont labyrinth from our retreat weekend
  • A vintage photo of a country doctor (a nod to Elizabeth’s country-doctor husband John)
  • A photo of me at a covered bridge that Elizabeth took on the way home from Shrine Mont
  • Elizabeth’s Heartspoken blog banner (shamelessly copied from her site)
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Me at the covered bridge


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Elizabeth’s Heartspoken banner

The front cover of our custom journal is a photo of Elizabeth and John’s house – I had to ask Elizabeth for that photo with instructions to “just send it, it’s for a special surprise.”

The back cover is a vintage map of Elizabeth’s beloved Shenandoah Valley.

When I sent the journal, I enclosed a few thoughts…

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Please take a moment to read Elizabeth’s companion piece

about this special journal at Heartspoken.com.

Do you need an awesome diary or journal?

Do you need a special journal for a special someone? Click on these links for Couple of Artists –



Facebook page for their gallery/studio space, 62 Doors Gallery and Studios –


Quoted from Elizabeth’s partner blog –

Share your favorite gift or favorite things 

A gift can be special for a million different reasons, and your list of favorite things is likely to be entirely different from mine. But I’d love to hear about any memorable gifts you’ve received and why they’ve touched your heart. And I’d also love to hear about your favorite things on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Just use the hashtag #FavoriteThings and #Heartspoken.

See this link also – Gretchen Rubin Happier Podcast

***** ***** *****

What’s the most special, most memorable gift you ever received?



Filed under Blogging, Personal Articles

15 responses to “Our favorite things… best friends, perfect gifts

  1. How special to finally meet someone you have connected with on social media. It was great to see this post as I was just thinking we hadn’t seen anything from you for a while. Congrats on your poetry book! The journal was such an awesome gift!

    • karenrsanderson

      Thank you, Darlene. I’ve not been blogging as much, true. I’ve been involved in other things. I don’t know which is better – creating the gift and giving it, or receiving it!

  2. What a delightful gift and wonderful tribute to Elizabeth! I’ve been fortunate to know her for several years, first as the wife of John-the-doctor-and-ham-radio-operator, and later as the great person she is. (She’s also a ham, with a higher license than I have!) I’m so glad you got to meet her…you are the “awesome editor” she told me about so long ago.
    Now if only somehow you and I could meet. When you get sick and tired of ND winter, come on out and sit on my porch in the CA winter sunshine and drink lemonade from my very own lemon tree. The invitation stands for as long as it takes for you to make it here.

  3. Well, I left a comment right after you posted this, but I don’t see it, so here goes again…

    Karen, I had so much fun doing these posts together and am so grateful for this amazing gift as well as for your friendship. And I also love shining a spotlight on the talented couple who worked with you to put it together.

    You’re terrific!

    • karenrsanderson

      It was fun writing and arranging companion posts – and I do love to shine a light on others’ talents. I would recommend a custom journal from Alyssa and Dan to anyone who is looking for a gift for someone who likes to journal or who keeps a diary. And it’s way more fun to use a custom journal (and from recycled materials!) that one of many you pick up in a store.

  4. Jessica Messinger

    Karen and Elizabeth, you both have that knack for choosing the most thoughtful, perfect gift. Such a beautiful expression of an amazing friendship.

    • karenrsanderson

      It has been an amazing friendship. Mostly, you don’t expect such an extraordinary thing to happen when you meet a new friend online. This one just seemed to snap into place. And I’m so glad it did – without Elizabeth, my poetry collection would not exist.

  5. Oh Karen! What a lovely and thoughtful gift!!! I just loved reading this and seeing the pictures of your wonderful creation! 🙂
    I did something similar with Shutterfly -though it wasn’t a journal. I also couldn’t figure out if it was more special to me while making it, or more special to her for receiving it.
    For this Christmas I made my two grandsons Shutterfly books similar to Eric Carle’s “Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See?”. The cover photos were the boys looking in the mirror and titles “Lucas, Lucas What Do You See?” “Dawson, Dawson What Do You See?” with lots of pics of family and themselves. It was soooo much fun to make!!

    • karenrsanderson

      Wow, Denise, what a great idea! And I love the Brown Bear book, love it. Read it to my grandsons hundreds of times (or maybe it just feels like hundreds of times?) When you find the perfect gift for a BFF….man, there’s no feeling like it in the world. And I truly love giving fabulous gifts. I love it.

  6. So much fun to see how two special people connect together with the gift of friendship. I have the distinct honor and pleasure of knowing both of you, and can certainly understand why you both value each other so much. True character, kindness, and compassion within you both. The journal is spectacular, Karen. ❤

    • karenrsanderson

      Thanks, Pamela. Isn’t it awesome to find special people that you can connect with on multiple levels? Sharkies Forever! 🙂

  7. Definitely a friendship to be treasured. A thoughtful and beautiful gift, Karen.


    • karenrsanderson

      I loved creating this gift for Elizabeth. And I can recommend Alyssa and Dan for custom-made journals for everyone. They are a class act.

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