The start of a school year always brings to mind new starts, most likely because I’m a teacher and it is, indeed, a new beginning. And as with all new beginnings, it is fun to reminisce about wonderful memories of the season past. This particular summer was probably our best one yet – with The Tornado being 3 ½, we have been able to travel more than ever before, as we are no longer loaded down with cribs and diapers and high chairs. Given that he also dropped his afternoon nap, we had at least 2 more hours in the day to fill, and thus, summertime adventures became as much a necessity as they were a choice.
And fill the time we did! We took trips big and small, played in the water, visited new parks…the list is endless. And now that summer is ending, I find myself thinking over all the fun we had, looking over all of our mementos, and thinking about what I could do with them instead of simply tucking them into a box, to be forgotten over the course of our daily lives. I wanted the tokens from our trip to be within our daily midst, so in our busiest moments, they would be there as reminders of our fun, light-hearted times as a family.
I came up with a couple solutions. When we were first married, we started a tradition of buying a postcard every time we took a trip. On the back, we write down the things we did and memorable moments from the trip. Sometimes we mail it to ourselves, but most of the time we bring it home with us. Even years later, when I reread the things we wrote down, I can remember everything, and it makes me smile.
You can keep your postcards in anything: a glass bowl, a photo album, a pretty box. I keep ours in the flower girl basket from our wedding; my mom and I worked on it together, and it’s another way to keep my happy memories out in the open.
Another way we preserve the memories of past trips requires a little more thought beforehand, as you have to collect the materials throughout your trip, but makes for a very pretty collection over time. And once you have your materials, it might literally be the easiest project you did this entire summer.
- Sand/shells or Dirt/rocks (a decent amount, since you can’t come back to get more!)
- Any small mementos (tickets, wristbands, etc.)
- A glass container (make sure it is big enough to fit all of your materials, but not so big that the glass overshadows the memories)
Step 1: Throughout your trip or vacation, collect mementos from your activities: tickets to museums, amusement parks, zoos; wristbands from concerts; pictures of your family. We usually collect sand & shells from the beach (this year’s shells are a bit…jagged. The Tornado wanted to collect them, and he was so proud, I didn’t have the heart to replace them with perfect ones I’d found). If we aren’t visiting the beach, we collect dirt & rocks (yes, dirt & rocks – when we visited DC, it was pretty cool to think about all the amazing things that happened on that dirt). A Ziploc bag or empty water bottle works just fine for containing the sand or dirt (and keeping it from emptying into your luggage).
Step 2: Air out your sand or dirt. This will act as the base layer in your terrarium, and you don’t want any moisture whatsoever, as it will ruin the rest of your mementos. I typically pour my sand or dirt into a small bowl and set it out for a week or two, stirring it around every day. Stirring it guarantees all of the material dries out, and gives you a way to gauge when you can move on to the next step.
Step 3: Decide how you would like to label your glass. For some of our trips, I actually hand drew the flag of the country we visited. When a flag was beyond my abilities as an artist, I simply wrote the name of the location directly on the glass with chalkboard marker. You could also do some labels – I love the chalkboard labels that are out right now.
Step 4: Lay out your collection. Since your sand or dirt is your base layer, pour it into the glass container; if the opening of the glass is small and if your sand/dirt is fine enough, you can use a funnel to limit the mess.
Step 5: It’s time to add your mementos! Arrange them in a way that is pleasing to your eye; usually working from back to front, with the largest items in the back of your terrarium and the smallest in front, will enable people to see everything you want them to!
Step 6: Find a home for your lovely package of memories, and enjoy taking a moment or two to reminisce!
We’ve been collecting sand for several years, so now we have quite a little collection of pretty glass bottles on our shelf. I love seeing varying shades of sand from different places and thinking about the cool things we did while we visited that particular town. I hope you had a wonderful summer; how do you plan to remember it?