Christmas card writing as calming ritual – with 5 tips and my Christmas card collection

I love Christmas. And I love writing Christmas cards. The first one has always been that way. The latter … not.

Eversince I was a child I loved to write. Letters, cards, diary, everything. Still, there have been a few years when I did not write any Christmas cards at all. Why? Cause it was additional stress in an already stressful time of year.

A few years ago I started to say NO alot more often during Christmas time. No, I won’t bake 20 different kinds of cookies. No, I won’t attend every Christmas party. No, I won’t go to every Christmas market or fun sounding activity with my kids.


Christmas card “Calm Christmas” – available HERE

Interestingly at about the same time I started saying YES to writing Christmas cards again. :-) Why?

Cause it turned into a little ritual that helped me to be more calm during Christmas time. Slowing down. Enjoying the moment. Fountain pen in my hand, steaming tea in front of me, cuddled up in a blanket, candle burning … A few minutes just for me and the recipient of a card in a busy time. :-)


Christmas card “Angel hug” – available HERE

Even though I don’t write a huge number of cards, I still never write all cards in one sitting. I take my time. And each time I sit down to write a few cards, I get more into the Christmas spirit.


Christmas card “Christmas hug” – available HERE

If you wanna create a little calming ritual with your Christmas card writing for yourself – here are a few suggestions:

1.Start early to get everything to gether that you’ll need – cards, stamps, address labels, favourite pens, stickers or other embellishments, tea, cookies, chocolate … ;-)

2.Only use things that you truly deeply enjoy. Use your favourite mug for your tea. And have a cup of that special tea, you’re saving for special days. Light a candle. Use cards that you enjoy – the picture and the feel of them. Write with a pen you love.

3.Have everything you need for your little Christmas card writing break in one place. Nothing disturbes the mood like having to search for that one pen, the stamps or the ink … while your tea is getting cold.

4.If you like involve your family and create a little family tradition. I personally like to have the writing time just for myself. But my kids love to help sticking stamps and address labels onto the envelopes.

5.Take your time. There are probably only few people that enjoy the prospect of writing 30 cards at once. No matter how much tea is involved. ;-) So, only do as many cards as you truly enjoy. I for example tend to write around three cards in one sitting. If you’re rushing it, it’s no fun – and definitely not calming – anymore.


Christmas card “ChristmasTREE” – available HERE

Addtional idea:

You can try to find something that will make your Christmas card writing time extra-special for YOU. Maybe you’ve been meaning to learn handlettering or calligraphy? Wouldn’t that be the perfect time to do so? You’d definitely have lots of opportunity to practise. Do you enjoy being creative with others? Check if you can join a workshop in your town on making your own Christmas cards. Do you like to paint, draw, take photos … all those things you can bring into your Christmas card writing. They will not only add a wonderful extra-personal touch to your cards, but will also make the time even more enjoyable for you.

And if you try all these things and you still can’t stand writing Christmas cards?

Then I hereby give you permission to not write any. The world won’t stop turning – I promise. ;-) It’s your life and your time. You are the only one who decides how you wanna spend it.

But if you are in the mood for some Christmas card writing and could use some special cards, I have a special offer for you in my shop this week:


If you buy FOUR sets of Christmas cards (each contains 5 folded cards that you can pick) – then I will gift you a fifth set. All you gotta do to take me up on that offer is order 4 sets until the 22nd of November, 2015 and pick the cards you want. (While ordering you just tell me how many of which cards in the comment field.)

Now I’m curious, do you write Christmas cards? Do you enjoy it – or is it a dreaded must?

Do you have any additional ideas for me and my readers how one can make Christmas card writing a calming ritual?

Wanna see the most amazing postcard-mail art?

Omg, finally the long awaited post about the postcard swap. First of all I wanna say a BIG BIG BIG thank you -again!- to every single person who participated. Yes, it was ALOT of work for me to organize. And yes, I totally underestimated how much work it would be. *laugh* But looking at all the gorgeous cards and artwork going through my hands – it was totally worth it!


I really deeply hope that every single person had as much fun and joy participating as I did while I sorted and sent off all these wonderful artworks.

I actually tried to take a photo of all the gorgeous postcards spread out on my living room floor – but … well, my living room was too small! If more people participate next year, I will need a bigger house to host the swap. *laugh*
So, here’s a photo of the first batch being sent off. I can for sure say that I have never in my life sent off so many postcards at once. :-)

Postcard swap 2015 by Ursula Markgraf

Here a few fun facts about this postcard swap:

– more than 70 people signed up
– 50 people actively participated in the swap
– 3 envelopes – so far – have not made it to me :-(

So in the end all in all I sent off 188 postcards, of which 47 were handwritten by me.

Participants came from the

-Great Britain
-The Netherlands and
-Hawaii (Okay, I know Hawaii is not a separate country. But I still thought it’s kinda cool!)

And now for the best part – here are a few of the gorgeous and wonderful postcards that were swapped. I only put those cards in the gallery, where people explicitely agreed that I could show the cards. If I made a mistake or forgot to show a card even though you agreed – please just email me.

Let’s put it this way – I had no idea what I was getting myself into with the blogpost idea. *laugh* Next time I do the swap each participant will automatically agree that I can show the card – that way I won’t have to double-check 47 emails to see whether someone agreed or not. ;-)
The writing up of this blogpost actually was WAY more time-consuming than the actual postcard swapping bit. (And that took me two days.) So, if you find your card and want anything changed – let me know. If you don’t find your card, but would like me to show it – let me know. :-)

(You can just click on a photo and it will enlarge and you can go through it like a slide show … if you want to.)

Aren’t they amazing? And, many envelopes actually had more than three cards in them. The kindness and creativity of all the participants just warmed my heart!

Of course I will do this again. :-)

I think I will make it a yearly “thing” from now on. :-) I’m not entirely certain yet when I will host it next year. Probably a bit earlier than this year, so I can give people more time. I was quite surprised myself how long some letters took to actually get here.

If you wanna participate next time, make sure to sign up to my newsletter so you won’t miss it. Just click HERE to sign up. :-)

How to create mixed media postcards (Video)

Mixed-media postcard tutorial video with Ursula Markgraf

I finally managed to film and edit my first ever video. And here it is:

I hope it inspires you to get creative!

If you have any questions or would like to show me your creations, just leave a comment! :-)

And of course I’d be thrilled to get any feedback!

And if you’d like more videos like this – please sign up to my newsletter. :-)

Celebrate life everyday – mixed media step-by-step photo tutorial

Today I have a mini-photo-tutorial for you on how to make a mixed-media postcard. I hope you enjoy it. :-)

Quite some time ago I participated in a postcard swap which I really enjoyed. The theme for the swap was “Celebrate”. As I loved creating my card back then so much I decided to create a similar card and share the process of making it. This is the finished card:

finished-MG_2533 Kopie

As you see, this time with a tea cup. I LOVE tea. And to me a good cup of tea is a perfect way to celebrate my life. Every day. :-) Wanna make your own? This is what you need:

ursula-markgraf-step1_MG_2526 Kopie Kopie

Of course you can use any other art supplies you have around. And you certainly do not have to use everything I put in the picture. This is an awesome project for playing with what you have and like. Anything goes. :-) When you have all your supplies ready, you create a background. (I created two. I love creating backgrounds.)

For the backgrounds I just added some collage bits, used water color crayons, my chalks some white acrylic paint, some distress ink and some spray tint. When you have your backgrounds ready you need to print out some words. (Or write them down with a permanent pen.) I printed the words “Celebrate life every day”.
You will also need a cutout of a cup. You can either use paper scraps or old book pages – which I LOVE. You could also paint one onto some thick paper and cut that out. If you make several cups, play around until you find the one that you like best on your background.

ursula-markgraf-mixed-media-step2_MG_2527 Kopie Kopie

Then arrange your words and your cup on your background and – glue them down.

ursula-markgraf-mixed-media-step3_MG_2531 Kopie Kopie

In the next step color your word paper strips with some water color crayons or chalks. Outline them to make them stand out more. Also outline your cup and add a shadow around your cup.

step4_MG_2533 KopieLast step is to add some steam – if you like – and maybe some fun embellishments. I added a tiny little polymer clay heart to my cup. Cause I LOOOOOOVE my tea. :-)

ursula-markgraf-mixed-media-step5_MG_2536 Kopie KopieHave fun making your own “Celebrate” card!

And if you show off your card, comment and leave a link to it in the comments. I’d love to stop by and take a peek.

P.S. I’m planning to post more mixed-media tutorials in the future, so if you enjoy them, hop on the list for my lovely emails so you don’t miss any:

Postcard swap 2015 – sign-up NOW!!!

Postcard swap 2015 – sign-up NOW!!!

Do you love receiving snailmail? To me a sweet postcard is like a little miraculous gift … it brightens my day, puts a smile on my face and just makes me happy. If you feel similarly, then the postcard swap is just the thing for you.
The postcard swap last year was so incredibly fun, that it was clear to me that I had to do it again. So, here’s the 2nd round. Can’t wait!!!

Postcard swap Ursula MarkgrafThis is how it will work:

Each participant sends  me (in Germany!) an envelope with:
THREE selfmade postcards with a little message on the back
(you choose whether you’d like to include your return address or not)
FOUR sticky address labels with YOUR postal address on it
(please write it so that it is okay for international delivery)

You will also have to send 3,70€ to my paypal-account for postage stamps (details will be in the email after you sign up).

One postage stamp for international postcards costs 0,80€ here in Germany. From your money I will buy four so I can send four postcards to you. Yes, the money is slightly more than 4 x 0,80€ – you’re a smart cookie! ;-) The difference is to account for the paypal fees that I will have to pay when you put money into my account (1,9% + 0,35€ per transaction).
I’m just explaining it, so you can see – your money is only going toward the postage stamps for your postcards. I’m not earning anything on this. :-)

(If you are living IN Germany, just put 4 postcard stamps in the envelope.)

After I receive all those postcards and the money/ stamps I will SWAP all those cards and add a card of my own on top. So I will be mailing out four postcards from four different people to each participant. This way I can make sure, everyone who did send postcards also gets postcards. :-)
Of course I can’t account for the mail service loosing mail, which does happen. However , I think that it’s VERY unlikely that the mail service would loose all four postcards that go to one person! ;-)

Postcard swap Ursula Markgraf

So, how does that sound? Interested?

If you wanna participate in the postcard swap you have to SIGN UP until the the 30th of July, 2015 – which is WORLDPOSTCARD DAY. Nice timing, ey. ;-)

To sign up all you have to do is click below and sign into that mailing list and and you will get all further information via email. Don’t forget to confirm the link in the confirmation email!

With signing in you will be put onto my regular bi-weekly newsletter list after the swap. However, if you do not enjoy my emails you can always unsubscribe after the postcard swap is over.

If you are already on my list, please sign up again as I will send the swap information only to this specific list. :-)

Postkartentausch Ursula Markgraf 2015

Here are all the important dates:

– SIGN-UP for postcard swap until the 30th of July, 2015
– envelopes and postage money via paypal have to reach me until the 30th of August, 2015
– all postcards will be send out again until the 15th of September, 2015

So during September you can be looking forward to receiving four different postcards!

Ready to sign up?

Sorry, sign-up is closed. The next swap will probably be held in summer 2016. Sign up to my newsletter, to not miss it. :-)

Postkartentausch Ursula Markgraf 2015

What is success for you?

What is success for you?

Success. Such a strange concept.
We all strive for it, don’t we. Often we work our ass off to get it. But once “there” we often realize – “Hey, this does not really feel as awesome as I thought.”
Ever had this happen to you?

To me that used to happen ALOT until I started my own business. At that point I figured that I must have my defintion of success wrong.

Yes, you get to define what success means to you.
There is no one-size-fits-all defintion! (Even though some people want you to believe just that.)

Working for myself made me really think about what success means to me. Very hard.
And even though I think that in a way I always knew what matters to me most, for the first time I really put it into clear words. For myself. And it was incredible how much that helped and changed my perspective on things.

I live my dream - affirmation - Ursula Markgraf

You can download this image and more as free affirmation cards HERE.

Cause once I had put it into words, I realized that I actually AM living my dream in many ways already.
Which is kinda hard to realize if you are busy comparing yourself to others and measuring yourself on their definition of success. ;-)
And it also helped me get alot more clear on what to do and what not to do in my life and in my business.

To me success means that I can live my life my way.

It means I can work WHERE I want to, WHEN I want to and of course I also choose WHAT work I want to do.

To me success means that I can live my life according to my priorities.
That I can put those things first that mean the most to me (my kids!).
Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE LOVE LOVE my work! But I still want to plan my work around my life – not my life around my work!

Success also means to me that I can make a difference. For one person at a time!
When someone tells me that what I do made a difference to them – best feeling ever.

So, what does success mean to you? Let me know in the comments!


Free affirmation cards for you! (free pdf-download)

Affirmations about selfcare - free to download - by Ursula Markgraf

So, I finally have a new goodie for you. How is that?

I created a new sheet of affirmation cards around the topic of self-care.

You can download them for free HERE.

(Just right-click on the sentence or on the image below and use save-as.) Then you can print the pdf and use it.

Affirmations about selfcare - free to download - by Ursula Markgraf

And if you are new to my site and love the free affirmation printable, you can download another one HERE.

Like them? Please consider sharing! You would make the day of an artist SO much brighter! No kidding. To make it easier you can use this tweet(Just click on it, change the text if you like and tweet.)

Or just use the share buttons below or on the side of this post. THANKS so much! *big hug*

Wishing you a wonderful day and hope these affirmation cards are helpful to you.

Let me know in the comments!


Dance in the moonlight

Dance in the moonlight

The last couple days I have been working on my first ever video about my little German book I had created.

(Or rather had my husband working on it and was trying to be super helpful by commenting on everything that I did not like yet.)

But … as you are probably not too interested in a German book  – or video about it ;-) – I was thinking what could I share with you. And one of my fav quotes came to mind.

(I hope I’m not the only one seemingly addicted to quotes!)

“The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.”

Oprah Winfrey [click to tweet]

Love that quote as much as I do? Click on it to tweet it!

Dance in the moonlight - mixed media art by Ursula Markgraf

 Mixed-media art print “Moonlight” – SOLD OUT

You know, quotes are awesome. But in the end they are just beautiful words …. if we do not act upon them.

So go on, celebrate your life! Today! :-)

And don’t forget to dance in the moonlight. ;-)

P.S. The next video that I create will be a workshop video … so stay tuned if you are keen on videos. ;-) Might take me a bit … but it will happen! That’s a promise. :-)


What you should definitely do today

Meine kleine Reise zu mir. 10 Schritte zu mehr Selbstachtsamkeit - von Ursula Markgraf

This is a little reminder to up your selfcare. :-)

Over the last weeks I was working on a project where I had to think about selfcare ALOT.

I just published a little booklet in German that’s all about selfcare. If you do read German or are just curious, you can take a peek HERE.


But the thing is, as the deadline drew closer and there was still so much to be done … what did I drop first? Even though I was reading, writing and thinking about it all the time? Of course. My selfcare. And what happened?
I did not feel good, I got even a bit sick, and my mood was of course nowhere near where it should be. I did not enjoy life, bitched at my husband and kids, and simply did not feel like my usual self. (I really hate that feeling.)

“Tree” – available as postcard HERE :-)


There is no right time for selfcare. It is ALWAYS time for selfcare. Selfcare is not the luxury you add on top of a good day.

Selfcare is the underlying foundation of everything else.

Yes, I know. I probably will have to re-learn this lesson over and over and over again. Cause even though I know by now how important selfcare is for me, my well-being and ultimatley everyone around me – I still forget.

I still work too much or too late. Or both.

I still eat in a rush cause I want to finish something for work and did not take the time for lunch that I should.

I still skip my yoga or meditation when I think I’m short on time.

I still try to “push through” when there is alot to do.

Yesterday I stopped. Even though I had a gazillion things to do – I took a break – or rather – I slowed down. I meditated first thing in the morning, I ate my lunch outside in the yard on the swing, I read a chapter in my fav book on my way to pick up my son instead of doing work on the train … and you know what? Yes, I did not get everything done that I wanted to.

BUT – noone died! Everything is still fine. AND when I went to bed in the evening I actually felt good. Not completely exhausted and edgy and irritable. But good.

So, this is my gentle reminder for you to take better care of yourself today. TODAY!

What will you do? Tell me in the comments?

Will you drink an extra glass of water? Sit for 10 minutes in the sun? Or just stop working early? Can not wait to read your comments!

“Play time” every day? That’s how I do it.

“Play time” every day? That’s how I do it.

First of all, what IS play time.

It is rather simple as the name suggests it is all about PLAY. Your only goal is PLAYING. Nothing else. The product or result should not be important. You should just enjoy the process!

Do you have "play time" every day?

I believe play time is important for everyone, even – or especially – creative professionals. Spending all day producing creative things can leave you kinda pumped out. You do need to recharge your creativity and just play. Also, it simply is a very good way to care for yourself and make yourself feel good.

I actually developed a list of different things that I do for play time and depending on how much time I have that day I choose one of these. More than a year ago I wrote a guestpost for April from Blacksburg Belle where I shared that list. I totally intended to share it here as well … but I forgot. :-( During the last weeks I was working on a project about selfcare which reminded me of the importance of play time AND … my guestpost. So, if you wanna see what my play time looks like – here it is *tadaaa*:

Why you need play time and ideas how to fill it

Leave April a nice comment while you over there. And once you are back here …

I’d love to know what are your favourite ways to fill your play time?