What do you normally do with those little treasures that children find on family walks? The inside of many jacket pockets and the back of many drawers are often their final resting place. Such a sad end, considering how much excitement, enthusiasm and pride accompanied their discovery.
So instead of losing these beloved little souvenirs or allowing them to clutter up your home, (which I don’t have either space or patience for), I decided to make a feature of them and embrace the treasures. It started a few years ago, when Beatrice first began walking on her own and picking up random seashells and pebbles (don’t they just love little stones?). When we got home, I would empty (and slightly edit) the treasures, keeping just her favourites in one display bowl on a high shelf.
By the end of that year, the bowl was overflowing. I realised that we wanted to see the collection better, to appreciate and admire it, in a manageable but artful way. Displaying our souvenirs in glass jars, creating sweet time capsules just made sense: a cabinet of curiosities, a modern day cloche. Now, each new year we start a new jar for our collection. Can you imagine what it will look like in 20 years?… we look forward to the collection growing and evolving, as it tracks our journeys around the world.
Katrina Campbell, is a lovely woman, friend, mum of three boys, and a talented family photographer. Katrina loved the ‘cabinet of curisosities’ idea, and joined us to document a wander in our local neighbourhood. We waited for several grey, grim, and rainy days to pass, and were rewarded with sunshine. And after our usual shenanigans trying to get everyone dressed in a million layers and out the door, off we went to explore.
Beatrice proudly marched to our local urban park with her basket for our nature finds, while Joseph took a short snuggly nap in the carrier. Since it was wet and muddy, we searched for berries up high and climbed on logs. It was fun to have a few minutes to really just be together as a family of four. How sweet it is to see the kids bundled up and searching for treasures.
When we returned home to warm up, (with homemade banana bread and tea, of course!), we shared our collection from 2016. Now that we have a few years worth of jars, it was time to put on some sticker labels. And I love these acacia wooden topped jars (in several sizes), but even a recycled pickle jar would work.
Our 2016 jar included a porcelain blue plate piece from the Thames riverbed, a heart shaped stone from the Irish Sea, two blue jay feathers from the Catskill Mountains in New York, delicate seashells from Narragansett in Rhode Island and a weathered driftwood branch from Lake Michigan. Simple souvenirs with more meaning than most things you can buy. Souvenirs that remind us of the friends we visited, the picnic we ate, or the games we played.
It doesn’t have to be only nature finds, your child might adore collecting brightly coloured rubber bands. My husband recently pointed out I’m very nature focussed, perhaps that is how I keep my sanity amidst the urbanity! The idea of the collection is that it should reflect you and your family, and I am sure ours will change and grow over time.
We can’t wait to watch the collection grow. Little hands (eventually big hands!) adding to it year by year. Each stone or seashell an evocative reminder of a special moment and place.
Practical note: as with any nature find, you should take steps to sterilise them, in the dishwasher, or the oven (see my post on pinecones) here, unless you’d like a family collection of mould! 🙂
I encourage you to start a collection, whether it is with kids big or small, or just for yourself. And thank you again to Katrina for beautifully capturing our energy, our silliness, and the sweetness of this family tradition. We felt like she was part of the family (and didn’t want to say goodbye!) and Beatrice has invited her to come back to play, and of course, to have banana bread with us! And we will treasure Katrina’s photographs forever. A family photo session and a new collection — the perfect start to 2017.