Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Everything is going to be OK!

Wonderful new book....I am fascinated by the subject of creativity.  This is supposed to be good.  I have not read it yet...waiting for it from the library. 

Monday, March 19, 2012

A good read about creativity

 I loved this article.  Its somewhat long, but very informative.  I especially found the part where alcohol was helpful yet coffee drinking was not helpful!  OH OH...


How To Be Creative

The image of the 'creative type' is a myth. Jonah Lehrer on why anyone can innovate—and why a hot shower, a cold beer or a trip to your colleague's desk might be the key to your next big idea.

Creativity can seem like magic. We look at people like Steve Jobs and Bob Dylan, and we conclude that they must possess supernatural powers denied to mere mortals like us, gifts that allow them to imagine what has never existed before. They're "creative types." We're not.
The myth of the "creative type" is just that--a myth, argues Jonah Lehrer. In an interview with WSJ's Gary Rosen he explains the evidence suggesting everyone has the potential to be the next Milton Glaser or Yo-Yo Ma.
But creativity is not magic, and there's no such thing as a creative type. Creativity is not a trait that we inherit in our genes or a blessing bestowed by the angels. It's a skill. Anyone can learn to be creative and to get better at it. New research is shedding light on what allows people to develop world-changing products and to solve the toughest problems. A surprisingly concrete set of lessons has emerged about what creativity is and how to spark it in ourselves and our work.
The science of creativity is relatively new. Until the Enlightenment, acts of imagination were always equated with higher powers. Being creative meant channeling the muses, giving voice to the gods. ("Inspiration" literally means "breathed upon.") Even in modern times, scientists have paid little attention to the sources of creativity.

But over the past decade, that has begun to change. Imagination was once thought to be a single thing, separate from other kinds of cognition. The latest research suggests that this assumption is false. It turns out that we use "creativity" as a catchall term for a variety of cognitive tools, each of which applies to particular sorts of problems and is coaxed to action in a particular way.

Philip Montgomery for The Wall Street Journal; Illustrations by Serge Bloch
It isn't a trait that we inherit in our genes or a blessing bestowed on us by the angels. It's a skill that anyone can learn and work to improve.
Does the challenge that we're facing require a moment of insight, a sudden leap in consciousness? Or can it be solved gradually, one piece at a time? The answer often determines whether we should drink a beer to relax or hop ourselves up on Red Bull, whether we take a long shower or stay late at the office.
The new research also suggests how best to approach the thorniest problems. We tend to assume that experts are the creative geniuses in their own fields. But big breakthroughs often depend on the naive daring of outsiders. For prompting creativity, few things are as important as time devoted to cross-pollination with fields outside our areas of expertise.
Let's start with the hardest problems, those challenges that at first blush seem impossible. Such problems are typically solved (if they are solved at all) in a moment of insight.
Consider the case of Arthur Fry, an engineer at 3M in the paper products division. In the winter of 1974, Mr. Fry attended a presentation by Sheldon Silver, an engineer working on adhesives. Mr. Silver had developed an extremely weak glue, a paste so feeble it could barely hold two pieces of paper together. Like everyone else in the room, Mr. Fry patiently listened to the presentation and then failed to come up with any practical applications for the compound. What good, after all, is a glue that doesn't stick?
On a frigid Sunday morning, however, the paste would re-enter Mr. Fry's thoughts, albeit in a rather unlikely context. He sang in the church choir and liked to put little pieces of paper in the hymnal to mark the songs he was supposed to sing. Unfortunately, the little pieces of paper often fell out, forcing Mr. Fry to spend the service frantically thumbing through the book, looking for the right page. It seemed like an unfixable problem, one of those ordinary hassles that we're forced to live with.
But then, during a particularly tedious sermon, Mr. Fry had an epiphany. He suddenly realized how he might make use of that weak glue: It could be applied to paper to create a reusable bookmark! Because the adhesive was barely sticky, it would adhere to the page but wouldn't tear it when removed. That revelation in the church would eventually result in one of the most widely used office products in the world: the Post-it Note.
Mr. Fry's invention was a classic moment of insight. Though such events seem to spring from nowhere, as if the cortex is surprising us with a breakthrough, scientists have begun studying how they occur. They do this by giving people "insight" puzzles, like the one that follows, and watching what happens in the brain:
A man has married 20 women in a small town. All of the women are still alive, and none of them is divorced. The man has broken no laws. Who is the man?
If you solved the question, the solution probably came to you in an incandescent flash: The man is a priest. Research led by Mark Beeman and John Kounios has identified where that flash probably came from. In the seconds before the insight appears, a brain area called the superior anterior temporal gyrus (aSTG) exhibits a sharp spike in activity. This region, located on the surface of the right hemisphere, excels at drawing together distantly related information, which is precisely what's needed when working on a hard creative problem.
Interestingly, Mr. Beeman and his colleagues have found that certain factors make people much more likely to have an insight, better able to detect the answers generated by the aSTG. For instance, exposing subjects to a short, humorous video—the scientists use a clip of Robin Williams doing stand-up—boosts the average success rate by about 20%.
Alcohol also works. Earlier this year, researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago compared performance on insight puzzles between sober and intoxicated students. The scientists gave the subjects a battery of word problems known as remote associates, in which people have to find one additional word that goes with a triad of words. Here's a sample problem:
Pine Crab Sauce
In this case, the answer is "apple." (The compound words are pineapple, crab apple and apple sauce.) Drunk students solved nearly 30% more of these word problems than their sober peers.
What explains the creative benefits of relaxation and booze? The answer involves the surprising advantage of not paying attention. Although we live in an age that worships focus—we are always forcing ourselves to concentrate, chugging caffeine—this approach can inhibit the imagination. We might be focused, but we're probably focused on the wrong answer.
And this is why relaxation helps: It isn't until we're soothed in the shower or distracted by the stand-up comic that we're able to turn the spotlight of attention inward, eavesdropping on all those random associations unfolding in the far reaches of the brain's right hemisphere. When we need an insight, those associations are often the source of the answer.
This research also explains why so many major breakthroughs happen in the unlikeliest of places, whether it's Archimedes in the bathtub or the physicist Richard Feynman scribbling equations in a strip club, as he was known to do. It reveals the wisdom of Google putting ping-pong tables in the lobby and confirms the practical benefits of daydreaming. As Einstein once declared, "Creativity is the residue of time wasted."
Of course, not every creative challenge requires an epiphany; a relaxing shower won't solve every problem. Sometimes, we just need to keep on working, resisting the temptation of a beer-fueled nap.
There is nothing fun about this kind of creativity, which consists mostly of sweat and failure. It's the red pen on the page and the discarded sketch, the trashed prototype and the failed first draft. Nietzsche referred to this as the "rejecting process," noting that while creators like to brag about their big epiphanies, their everyday reality was much less romantic. "All great artists and thinkers are great workers," he wrote.
This relentless form of creativity is nicely exemplified by the legendary graphic designer Milton Glaser, who engraved the slogan "Art is Work" above his office door. Mr. Glaser's most famous design is a tribute to this work ethic. In 1975, he accepted an intimidating assignment: to create a new ad campaign that would rehabilitate the image of New York City, which at the time was falling apart.
Mr. Glaser began by experimenting with fonts, laying out the tourist slogan in a variety of friendly typefaces. After a few weeks of work, he settled on a charming design, with "I Love New York" in cursive, set against a plain white background. His proposal was quickly approved. "Everybody liked it," Mr. Glaser says. "And if I were a normal person, I'd stop thinking about the project. But I can't. Something about it just doesn't feel right."
So Mr. Glaser continued to ruminate on the design, devoting hours to a project that was supposedly finished. And then, after another few days of work, he was sitting in a taxi, stuck in midtown traffic. "I often carry spare pieces of paper in my pocket, and so I get the paper out and I start to draw," he remembers. "And I'm thinking and drawing and then I get it. I see the whole design in my head. I see the typeface and the big round red heart smack dab in the middle. I know that this is how it should go."
The logo that Mr. Glaser imagined in traffic has since become one of the most widely imitated works of graphic art in the world. And he only discovered the design because he refused to stop thinking about it.
But this raises an obvious question: If different kinds of creative problems benefit from different kinds of creative thinking, how can we ensure that we're thinking in the right way at the right time? When should we daydream and go for a relaxing stroll, and when should we keep on sketching and toying with possibilities?
The good news is that the human mind has a surprising natural ability to assess the kind of creativity we need. Researchers call these intuitions "feelings of knowing," and they occur when we suspect that we can find the answer, if only we keep on thinking. Numerous studies have demonstrated that, when it comes to problems that don't require insights, the mind is remarkably adept at assessing the likelihood that a problem can be solved—knowing whether we're getting "warmer" or not, without knowing the solution.
This ability to calculate progress is an important part of the creative process. When we don't feel that we're getting closer to the answer—we've hit the wall, so to speak—we probably need an insight. If there is no feeling of knowing, the most productive thing we can do is forget about work for a while. But when those feelings of knowing are telling us that we're getting close, we need to keep on struggling.
Of course, both moment-of-insight problems and nose-to-the-grindstone problems assume that we have the answers to the creative problems we're trying to solve somewhere in our heads. They're both just a matter of getting those answers out. Another kind of creative problem, though, is when you don't have the right kind of raw material kicking around in your head. If you're trying to be more creative, one of the most important things you can do is increase the volume and diversity of the information to which you are exposed.
Steve Jobs famously declared that "creativity is just connecting things." Although we think of inventors as dreaming up breakthroughs out of thin air, Mr. Jobs was pointing out that even the most far-fetched concepts are usually just new combinations of stuff that already exists. Under Mr. Jobs's leadership, for instance, Apple didn't invent MP3 players or tablet computers—the company just made them better, adding design features that were new to the product category.
And it isn't just Apple. The history of innovation bears out Mr. Jobs's theory. The Wright Brothers transferred their background as bicycle manufacturers to the invention of the airplane; their first flying craft was, in many respects, just a bicycle with wings. Johannes Gutenberg transformed his knowledge of wine presses into a printing machine capable of mass-producing words. Or look at Google: Larry Page and Sergey Brin came up with their famous search algorithm by applying the ranking method used for academic articles (more citations equals more influence) to the sprawl of the Internet.
How can people get better at making these kinds of connections? Mr. Jobs argued that the best inventors seek out "diverse experiences," collecting lots of dots that they later link together. Instead of developing a narrow specialization, they study, say, calligraphy (as Mr. Jobs famously did) or hang out with friends in different fields. Because they don't know where the answer will come from, they are willing to look for the answer everywhere.
Recent research confirms Mr. Jobs's wisdom. The sociologist Martin Ruef, for instance, analyzed the social and business relationships of 766 graduates of the Stanford Business School, all of whom had gone on to start their own companies. He found that those entrepreneurs with the most diverse friendships scored three times higher on a metric of innovation. Instead of getting stuck in the rut of conformity, they were able to translate their expansive social circle into profitable new concepts.
Many of the most innovative companies encourage their employees to develop these sorts of diverse networks, interacting with colleagues in totally unrelated fields. Google hosts an internal conference called Crazy Search Ideas—a sort of grown-up science fair with hundreds of posters from every conceivable field. At 3M, engineers are typically rotated to a new division every few years. Sometimes, these rotations bring big payoffs, such as when 3M realized that the problem of laptop battery life was really a problem of energy used up too quickly for illuminating the screen. 3M researchers applied their knowledge of see-through adhesives to create an optical film that focuses light outward, producing a screen that was 40% more efficient.
Such solutions are known as "mental restructurings," since the problem is only solved after someone asks a completely new kind of question. What's interesting is that expertise can inhibit such restructurings, making it harder to find the breakthrough. That's why it's important not just to bring new ideas back to your own field, but to actually try to solve problems in other fields—where your status as an outsider, and ability to ask naive questions, can be a tremendous advantage.
This principle is at work daily on InnoCentive, a crowdsourcing website for difficult scientific questions. The structure of the site is simple: Companies post their hardest R&D problems, attaching a monetary reward to each "challenge." The site features problems from hundreds of organization in eight different scientific categories, from agricultural science to mathematics. The challenges on the site are incredibly varied and include everything from a multinational food company looking for a "Reduced Fat Chocolate-Flavored Compound Coating" to an electronics firm trying to design a solar-powered computer.
The most impressive thing about InnoCentive, however, is its effectiveness. In 2007, Karim Lakhani, a professor at the Harvard Business School, began analyzing hundreds of challenges posted on the site. According to Mr. Lakhani's data, nearly 30% of the difficult problems posted on InnoCentive were solved within six months. Sometimes, the problems were solved within days of being posted online. The secret was outsider thinking: The problem solvers on InnoCentive were most effective at the margins of their own fields. Chemists didn't solve chemistry problems; they solved molecular biology problems. And vice versa. While these people were close enough to understand the challenge, they weren't so close that their knowledge held them back, causing them to run into the same stumbling blocks that held back their more expert peers.
It's this ability to attack problems as a beginner, to let go of all preconceptions and fear of failure, that's the key to creativity.
The composer Bruce Adolphe first met Yo-Yo Ma at the Juilliard School in New York City in 1970. Mr. Ma was just 15 years old at the time (though he'd already played for J.F.K. at the White House). Mr. Adolphe had just written his first cello piece. "Unfortunately, I had no idea what I was doing," Mr. Adolphe remembers. "I'd never written for the instrument before."
Mr. Adolphe had shown a draft of his composition to a Juilliard instructor, who informed him that the piece featured a chord that was impossible to play. Before Mr. Adolphe could correct the music, however, Mr. Ma decided to rehearse the composition in his dorm room. "Yo-Yo played through my piece, sight-reading the whole thing," Mr. Adolphe says. "And when that impossible chord came, he somehow found a way to play it."
Mr. Adolphe told Mr. Ma what the professor had said and asked how he had managed to play the impossible chord. They went through the piece again, and when Mr. Ma came to the impossible chord, Mr. Adolphe yelled "Stop!" They looked at Mr. Ma's left hand—it was contorted on the fingerboard, in a position that was nearly impossible to hold. "You're right," said Mr. Ma, "you really can't play that!" Yet, somehow, he did.
When Mr. Ma plays today, he still strives for that state of the beginner. "One needs to constantly remind oneself to play with the abandon of the child who is just learning the cello," Mr. Ma says. "Because why is that kid playing? He is playing for pleasure."
Creativity is a spark. It can be excruciating when we're rubbing two rocks together and getting nothing. And it can be intensely satisfying when the flame catches and a new idea sweeps around the world.
For the first time in human history, it's becoming possible to see how to throw off more sparks and how to make sure that more of them catch fire. And yet, we must also be honest: The creative process will never be easy, no matter how much we learn about it. Our inventions will always be shadowed by uncertainty, by the serendipity of brain cells making a new connection.
Every creative story is different. And yet every creative story is the same: There was nothing, now there is something. It's almost like magic.
—Adapted from "Imagine: How Creativity Works" by Jonah Lehrer, to be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on March 19. Copyright © 2012 by Jonah Lehrer.
10 Quick Creativity Hacks
1. Color Me Blue
A 2009 study found that subjects solved twice as many insight puzzles when surrounded by the color blue, since it leads to more relaxed and associative thinking. Red, on other hand, makes people more alert and aware, so it is a better backdrop for solving analytic problems.
2. Get Groggy
According to a study published last month, people at their least alert time of day—think of a night person early in the morning—performed far better on various creative puzzles, sometimes improving their success rate by 50%. Grogginess has creative perks.
Serge Bloch
#3 Don't Be Afraid to Daydream
3. Daydream Away
Research led by Jonathan Schooler at the University of California, Santa Barbara, has found that people who daydream more score higher on various tests of creativity.
4. Think Like A Child
When subjects are told to imagine themselves as 7-year-olds, they score significantly higher on tests of divergent thinking, such as trying to invent alternative uses for an old car tire.
5. Laugh It Up
Serge Bloch
When people are exposed to a short video of stand-up comedy, they solve about 20% more insight puzzles.
When people are exposed to a short video of stand-up comedy, they solve about 20% more insight puzzles.
6. Imagine That You Are Far Away
Research conducted at Indiana University found that people were much better at solving insight puzzles when they were told that the puzzles came from Greece or California, and not from a local lab.
7. Keep It Generic
One way to increase problem-solving ability is to change the verbs used to describe the problem. When the verbs are extremely specific, people think in narrow terms. In contrast, the use of more generic verbs—say, "moving" instead of "driving"—can lead to dramatic increases in the number of problems solved.
Serge Bloch
According to a new study, volunteers performed significantly better on a standard test of creativity when they were seated outside a 5-footsquare workspace, perhaps because they internalized the metaphor of thinking outside the box. The lesson? Your cubicle is holding you back.
8. Work Outside the Box
According to new study, volunteers performed significantly better on a standard test of creativity when they were seated outside a 5-foot-square workspace, perhaps because they internalized the metaphor of thinking outside the box. The lesson? Your cubicle is holding you back.
9. See the World
According to research led by Adam Galinsky, students who have lived abroad were much more likely to solve a classic insight puzzle. Their experience of another culture endowed them with a valuable open-mindedness. This effect also applies to professionals: Fashion-house directors who have lived in many countries produce clothing that their peers rate as far more creative.
10. Move to a Metropolis
Physicists at the Santa Fe Institute have found that moving from a small city to one that is twice as large leads inventors to produce, on average, about 15% more patents.
—Jonah Lehrer
A version of this article appeared Mar. 10, 2012, on page C1 in some U.S. editions of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: How to Be CreativeHow To Be Creative.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Had it with expensive laundry and dishwasher soap?

Whats up with the expensive of these cleaning products??!!  I for one am going to try these 2 recipes from another blog I follow~  Being Creative To Keep My Sanity!  NOW to figure out what else to use but expensive toilet paper!  Can you believe the cost of toilet paper???? OMG!  Hope this helps out though and follow her blog...smart lady!

Dishwasher Detergent

Here is another one of my "sick of spending so much money on soap?", "tired of loading the dishwasher after dinner and finding you are out of dishwasher soap, again?". Save money and grocery store trips and make your own. It's really easy and last's forever!

Here is what you need.
 Dishwasher Detergent ingredients:
1 box Borax (4lbs 12 oz or 76 oz ) (2.15 kg) found in the detergent isle
1 box Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda (55 oz or 3 lbs 7 oz) found in the detergent isle
24 packages of unsweetened lemonade drink mix, like kool-aid. (**Note: lemonade will stain soap dispenser yellow, another option would be to use citric acid instead of lemonade. You can usually find citric acid in the canning isle )
3 cups Epsom Salt
Lemi Shine rinse aid (this recipe does not work very well without it) You can find Lemi Shine in the dishwasher detergent isle at just about any store. You can also use vinegar as a rinse aid. If your dishes are coming out with spots on them that means you do need a rinse aid.

Use Lemi Shine as a rinse aid. It works wonders. Just sprinkle about a tablespoon in the bottom of your dishwasher before you start it. This stuff is awesome!!
If you want you could cut this recipe in half or even smaller to just try it out. You will still have to buy large boxes of Borax and Washing Soda which you can store for later use.
Mix Borax, washing soda, salt and lemonade together in a large, very large, bowl. When ingredients are mixed together well put soap in a container of your choice. I picked up a container at Walmart in the kitchen center with a pouring spout for $5.00 and it is big enough to hold an entire batch of dishwasher soap. The soap does get hard spots in it after a while so do be prepared for some hardening, I have not been able to get around that no matter what I do.

It even has a pouring spout to make things easy.

Use 1 tablespoon per wash cycle. It has no fillers so you do not have to use nearly as much to get the job done! This recipe is for hard water users, if you have soft water you may want to browse the internet for a better recipe for soft water.

Are you ready for the breakdown??
1 box of borax $4.69
1 box A & H washing soda $3.19
24 packages of lemonade $2.80
3 cups of salt $2.00, this one is a guess because I already had salt in my storage and who knows how much I payed for it.

Total= $12.68

1 tablespoon at a time........you tell me how long that's going to last.

To top off my project me and my Cricut got together :) and cut out letters from vinyl to label the container. Yes I know they are a little crooked but I am to cheap to buy transfer paper for all my vinyl needs, besides I am storing it in the cupboard under my sink. I tried my first load yesterday and was quiet impressed with how clean my dishes were. I hope it works well for you too!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Lemon Brownies and Lemonaid Cake! Springy!

Lemon Brownies

Lemon Brownies
3/4 C flour
3/4 C sugar
1/4 t salt
1 stick butter, soft
2 eggs
juice from 1/2 lemon (about 1T)
zest from 1/2 lemon (about 1t)
Combine the flour, sugar and salt
 in a large bowl.
 Mix in the softened butter.
In another bowl whisk the eggs with 
the lemon juice and zest.
Add to the larger bowl and mix well.
 Pour into prepared 8X8 brownie pan.
 Bake at 350 for 25 minutes.
You can double the recipe and bake in a
 9X13 pan for 30 minutes.
Remove and let cool, then glaze.
1/2C powdered sugar
1 T lemon juice
additional lemon zest
stir together

note: 1 stick of butter is = to 1/2 C or 1/4 pound
This is a good treat for someone that 
doesn't like chocolate.
I can't believe I just typed that sentence )
In a large bowl combine the sugar, flour
and salt. Add the softened butter.
tip:You can soften a stick if butter in the 
microwave for 25 seconds on 30% power
 Whisk the eggs in another bowl and add the lemon juice,
and zest.
Combine the two and beat until smooth.
I always use the butter wrapper to grease the pan.
Pour in the batter.
Bake at 350 for 25 minutes.
Mix the powdered sugar, lemon juice and zest.
 Spread on the cooled lemon brownies.
It will make a nice thin glaze.
Cut into squares.
These have a light yet dense texture, 
similar to brownies. I'll give them their own
new name......Lemonies!

Lemonade Layer Cake

Becky Luigart-Stayner; Melanie J. Clarke

Thawed lemonade concentrate adds bold, fun flavor to this tart layer cake. This cake is the perfect solution to summer birthday parties or winter events when you need to wake up your taste buds.

Worthy of a special occasion
Yield: 16 servings (serving size: 1 slice)
Recipe from Cooking Light

Nutritional Information

Amount per serving
  • Calories: 322
  • Calories from fat: 28%
  • Fat: 9.9g
  • Saturated fat: 5.9g
  • Monounsaturated fat: 2.9g
  • Polyunsaturated fat: 0.5g
  • Protein: 5g
  • Carbohydrate: 54.1g
  • Fiber: 0.5g
  • Cholesterol: 53mg
  • Iron: 1mg
  • Sodium: 293mg
  • Calcium: 60mg
$ 14 ingredients on sale for ZIP 10020
Edit ZIP/Favorite Stores info


  • Cake:
  • 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar $
  • 6 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
  • 3 tablespoons thawed lemonade concentrate
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs $
  • 2 large egg whites $
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour $
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt $
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/4 cups fat-free buttermilk $
  • Cooking spray $
  • Frosting:
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened $$
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon rind $$
  • 2 teaspoons thawed lemonade concentrate $$
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 8 ounces 1/3-less-fat cream cheese $
  • 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. To prepare cake, place first 5 ingredients in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 5 minutes). Add eggs and egg whites, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda; stir well with a whisk. Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture; beat well after each addition.
  3. Pour batter into 2 (9-inch) round cake pans coated with cooking spray; sharply tap pans once on counter to remove air bubbles. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pans. Cool completely on wire rack.
  4. To prepare frosting, place 2 tablespoons butter and the next 4 ingredients (2 tablespoons butter through cream cheese) in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed until fluffy. Add powdered sugar, and beat at low speed just until blended (do not overbeat). Chill 1 hour.
  5. Place 1 cake layer on a plate; spread with 1/2 cup frosting. Top with remaining cake layer. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake. Store cake loosely covered in the refrigerator.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A note about habits or schedules

"The pleasure of doing a thing in the same way at the same time every day, and savoring it, should be noted."
Arnold Bennett

Whenever I visit my parents I am struck by the fact that they are retired and do not need to do anything all day....however, they have a schedule.  Its a very precise schedule full of habits and rituals that stitch their days together.  It was very comforting and somehow when I left I missed this rituals.  For instance, at this time, they got the mail, at this time they went out to get the paper and then they read it from this time to this time, at this time we had coffee, at this time we take a nap, at this time we watch a certain show on tv, at this time we read our books, at this time-at this particular day of the week- we clean the bathrooms,  etc.... It made the day flow and gave it purpose.  There was a certain calmness about it.  Both my parents seemed to have this schedule down pat and never talked about it...yet these things just went on.  It was a life dance.  I thought about how, currently I am not working and how my days end up full of doing nothing!  I laugh and say you know when you have less to do you get nothing done!  I sit in my pajamas WAY too long..I wake up at all different hours of the day and go to sleep at all different times...not good.  I somehow, even when I have ALL day...do not get my artwork done...even though that is what I want to do the most.  What...I am too busy????!!!  House work does not get done except sporadically...when it really screams out to me to get it down.  The result is I feel sporadic!  I feel like a leaf or feather blowing in the wind...like Forrest Gump contemplates at the end of the movie.  Blowing in the wind....My question to you is...What is your schedule like?  Do you have rituals for yourself during the day?  How does this help you?  Both for your sanity and for actually getting things done?  Do you stick with it?  
 Isnt this lovely.  It is on a wall in a bed and breakfast in Michigan.  It makes me want to paint one like this or maybe make one similar with rug hooking or an art quilt?  How pretty would that be?

 These fake ferns are from Pottery Barn- I think--I love them for spring!
 What an awesome hooked rug...sorry I dont know who made this!  But I love how they framed it..
I am really feeling the need to create order to my days and feel I would love some inspiration on this.  Help me out!  Yesterday really felt like Spring and I am ready to do some "Spring cleaning" in my life!

Monday, March 5, 2012

30 things to stop doing to yourself! (Has to do with creativity!)

30 Things to Stop Doing to Yourself

30 Things to Stop Doing to Yourself
When you stop chasing the wrong things you give
the right things a chance to catch you.
As Maria Robinson once said, “Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.”  Nothing could be closer to the truth.  But before you can begin this process of transformation you have to stop doing the things that have been holding you back.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
  1. Stop spending time with the wrong people. – Life is too short to spend time with people who suck the happiness out of you.  If someone wants you in their life, they’ll make room for you.  You shouldn’t have to fight for a spot.  Never, ever insist yourself to someone who continuously overlooks your worth.  And remember, it’s not the people that stand by your side when you’re at your best, but the ones who stand beside you when you’re at your worst that are your true friends.
  2. Stop running from your problems. – Face them head on.  No, it won’t be easy.  There is no person in the world capable of flawlessly handling every punch thrown at them.  We aren’t supposed to be able to instantly solve problems.  That’s not how we’re made.  In fact, we’re made to get upset, sad, hurt, stumble and fall.  Because that’s the whole purpose of living – to face problems, learn, adapt, and solve them over the course of time.  This is what ultimately molds us into the person we become.
  3. Stop lying to yourself. – You can lie to anyone else in the world, but you can’t lie to yourself.  Our lives improve only when we take chances, and the first and most difficult chance we can take is to be honest with ourselves.  Read The Road Less Traveled.
  4. Stop putting your own needs on the back burner. – The most painful thing is losing yourself in the process of loving someone too much, and forgetting that you are special too.  Yes, help others; but help yourself too.  If there was ever a moment to follow your passion and do something that matters to you, that moment is now.
  5. Stop trying to be someone you’re not. – One of the greatest challenges in life is being yourself in a world that’s trying to make you like everyone else.  Someone will always be prettier, someone will always be smarter, someone will always be younger, but they will never be you.  Don’t change so people will like you.  Be yourself and the right people will love the real you.
  6. Stop trying to hold onto the past. – You can’t start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading your last one.
  7. Stop being scared to make a mistake. – Doing something and getting it wrong is at least ten times more productive than doing nothing.  Every success has a trail of failures behind it, and every failure is leading towards success.  You end up regretting the things you did NOT do far more than the things you did.
  8. Stop berating yourself for old mistakes. – We may love the wrong person and cry about the wrong things, but no matter how things go wrong, one thing is for sure, mistakes help us find the person and things that are right for us.  We all make mistakes, have struggles, and even regret things in our past.  But you are not your mistakes, you are not your struggles, and you are here NOW with the power to shape your day and your future.  Every single thing that has ever happened in your life is preparing you for a moment that is yet to come.
  9. Stop trying to buy happiness. – Many of the things we desire are expensive.  But the truth is, the things that really satisfy us are totally free – love, laughter and working on our passions.
  10. Stop exclusively looking to others for happiness. – If you’re not happy with who you are on the inside, you won’t be happy in a long-term relationship with anyone else either.  You have to create stability in your own life first before you can share it with someone else.  Read Stumbling on Happiness.
  11. Stop being idle. – Don’t think too much or you’ll create a problem that wasn’t even there in the first place.  Evaluate situations and take decisive action.  You cannot change what you refuse to confront.  Making progress involves risk.  Period!  You can’t make it to second base with your foot on first.
  12. Stop thinking you’re not ready. – Nobody ever feels 100% ready when an opportunity arises.  Because most great opportunities in life force us to grow beyond our comfort zones, which means we won’t feel totally comfortable at first.
  13. Stop getting involved in relationships for the wrong reasons. – Relationships must be chosen wisely.  It’s better to be alone than to be in bad company.  There’s no need to rush.  If something is meant to be, it will happen – in the right time, with the right person, and for the best reason. Fall in love when you’re ready, not when you’re lonely.
  14. Stop rejecting new relationships just because old ones didn’t work. – In life you’ll realize that there is a purpose for everyone you meet.  Some will test you, some will use you and some will teach you.  But most importantly, some will bring out the best in you.
  15. Stop trying to compete against everyone else. – Don’t worry about what others are doing better than you.  Concentrate on beating your own records every day.  Success is a battle between YOU and YOURSELF only.
  16. Stop being jealous of others. – Jealousy is the art of counting someone else’s blessings instead of your own.  Ask yourself this:  “What’s something I have that everyone wants?”
  17. Stop complaining and feeling sorry for yourself. – Life’s curveballs are thrown for a reason – to shift your path in a direction that is meant for you.  You may not see or understand everything the moment it happens, and it may be tough.  But reflect back on those negative curveballs thrown at you in the past.  You’ll often see that eventually they led you to a better place, person, state of mind, or situation.  So smile!  Let everyone know that today you are a lot stronger than you were yesterday, and you will be.
  18. Stop holding grudges. – Don’t live your life with hate in your heart.  You will end up hurting yourself more than the people you hate.  Forgiveness is not saying, “What you did to me is okay.”  It is saying, “I’m not going to let what you did to me ruin my happiness forever.”  Forgiveness is the answer… let go, find peace, liberate yourself!  And remember, forgiveness is not just for other people, it’s for you too.  If you must, forgive yourself, move on and try to do better next time.
  19. Stop letting others bring you down to their level. – Refuse to lower your standards to accommodate those who refuse to raise theirs.
  20. Stop wasting time explaining yourself to others. – Your friends don’t need it and your enemies won’t believe it anyway.  Just do what you know in your heart is right.
  21. Stop doing the same things over and over without taking a break. – The time to take a deep breath is when you don’t have time for it.  If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep getting what you’re getting.  Sometimes you need to distance yourself to see things clearly.
  22. Stop overlooking the beauty of small moments. – Enjoy the little things, because one day you may look back and discover they were the big things.  The best portion of your life will be the small, nameless moments you spend smiling with someone who matters to you.
  23. Stop trying to make things perfect. – The real world doesn’t reward perfectionists, it rewards people who get things done.  Read Getting Things Done.
  24. Stop following the path of least resistance. – Life is not easy, especially when you plan on achieving something worthwhile.  Don’t take the easy way out.  Do something extraordinary.
  25. Stop acting like everything is fine if it isn’t. – It’s okay to fall apart for a little while.  You don’t always have to pretend to be strong, and there is no need to constantly prove that everything is going well.  You shouldn’t be concerned with what other people are thinking either – cry if you need to – it’s healthy to shed your tears.  The sooner you do, the sooner you will be able to smile again.
  26. Stop blaming others for your troubles. – The extent to which you can achieve your dreams depends on the extent to which you take responsibility for your life.  When you blame others for what you’re going through, you deny responsibility – you give others power over that part of your life.
  27. Stop trying to be everything to everyone. – Doing so is impossible, and trying will only burn you out.  But making one person smile CAN change the world.  Maybe not the whole world, but their world.  So narrow your focus.
  28. Stop worrying so much. – Worry will not strip tomorrow of its burdens, it will strip today of its joy.  One way to check if something is worth mulling over is to ask yourself this question: “Will this matter in one year’s time?  Three years?  Five years?”  If not, then it’s not worth worrying about.
  29. Stop focusing on what you don’t want to happen. – Focus on what you do want to happen.  Positive thinking is at the forefront of every great success story.  If you awake every morning with the thought that something wonderful will happen in your life today, and you pay close attention, you’ll often find that you’re right.
  30. Stop being ungrateful. – No matter how good or bad you have it, wake up each day thankful for your life.  Someone somewhere else is desperately fighting for theirs.  Instead of thinking about what you’re missing, try thinking about what you have that everyone else is missing.________________________________________________________________________
 The blog entry below if from Brittany Makes' Blog which I follow.  I wanted to share with my fabric and quilting friends.  This shows how to make an ottoman.  (I think I will make them a bit larger..but that is easily done...ottomans are expensive and if you already have some fabric for these...very cheap to make!~)

pouf tutorial! the West Elm pouf hack

West Elm has tempted me on more than one occasion, first it was their papier mache wildebeest heads... now, it's their floor poufs. Unfortunately, their prices are devastating - $249 for the patterned poufs or $219 for the striped pouf.  Sorry, I just can't justify spending that much on a floor pillow.  Let's take a minute and longingly gaze at these beauties...

I'll take all of them!
Once I realized the price, I let myself feel about 45 seconds of sadness for not being able to afford such a luxurious floor pillow.  Then, my DIY superpowers kicked in and I decided I could make it myself! How hard could it be? Fabric? Stuffing? Sewing in a straight line?  Easy!
A friend of mine also had the same idea, so we decided to work together and make a variety of poufs!
Let's take a peek!
#1) the West Elm Hack

#2) The tribal - a round pouf


#3) the gold crocodile - a round pouf


I think I'm addicted to floor pillows.  I made four over the weekend, and two more are in the queue. My friend and I were totally inspired by tribal prints, so much so that we almost went out shopping for ponchos! Instead, we found some crazy tribal drapery fabric at Home Fabrics & Rugs.  Now for the exciting part...

DIY Round Pouf Tutorial

Follow these 14 easy steps.....


Step 1) lay your fabric on a flat surface, wrong sides out
Step 2) pin your pattern on the fabric
Step 3) cut along the pattern
Step 4) repeat steps 1-3 three more times, for a total of four double sided forms


Step 5) sew the right side of each form (repeat for the remaining 3 forms), then remove the pins
Step 6) lay the first form on top of the second, wrong sides out, and pin along the right side
Step 7) take the third form and lay on top of the first form, wrong sides out,and pin along the right side.  Repeat with the remaining form so all pieces are pinned together and form a round shell.  Next, sew the pinned sides together, but be sure to stop 2 inches short of the edge to create an opening for you to fill with stuffing.
Step 8) the round shell will take shape once all pieces are sewn together, be certain you've removed all pins before proceeding


Step 9) turn the shell inside out
Step 10) gather your stuffing - I used a variety of leftover foam I had on hand which I cut in oval and circular shapes to fill the center of the pouf.  I also used stuffing from old pillows, and bought a bag of polyfill from the local fabric store.  Poly-fill is expensive, so I recommend using anything you have on hand to fill the pouf.  You want the center to be dense, and the surrounding area to be soft and fluffy, which is why I stuffed it with leftover foam.
Step 11) First, stuff about 1/3 of the bottom with poly-fill or cotton
Step 12) Then, lay the foam in place.  Last, fill and surround the foam with the rest of the cotton or poly-fill.


Step 13) Be careful not to over stuff.  You want the pouf to be full, yet fluffy.  I used about 2 standard pillow's worth of cotton and poly-fill
Step 14) sew the top and bottom holes shut with a needle and thread

And there you go! Your very own pouf!


I'm sure you're wondering what pattern I used... well, I used part of BHG's pouf pattern.  I'm not a fan of the octagon BHG uses in their tutorial, so I threw that piece away.  Also, I think the stitching on the side is a little tacky, so I skipped that step.  Lastly, I did not sew a liner into my pouf because the fabric I chose is super thick.  I pretty much only used pages 5-7, and read over the instructions to get a feel of the process.
I strongly recommend finding a drapery fabric or outdoor fabric, something sturdy.  A thick and durable fabric will help maintain the shape of the pouf, prevent rips or tears, and have a longer life, versus a thin cotton fabric.
Let's recap, I made two tribal poufs, a black and gold crocodile print pouf, and a West Elm pouf. Don't you love them?

** UPDATE ** Check out my shop to see what poufs are available!

Thank you!
Photo by: Rob Brucker