You’ve Got a Nose for Creativity

There’s a chance the only thing standing between you and your next big creative idea could be the smell of vanilla and cinnamon. Whaaaat?!

I know. It sounds crazy, but there’s research that says the combination of these scents has been linked to creativity.

In fact, this article talks about several fragrances that help us in various ways. For example, did you know the smell of oranges can reduce anxiety?

Fascinating, right?! So for today’s creative tip, I encourage you to light a candle like this, bake a batch of these cinnamon-vanilla monster cookies, or whip up a pot of simmering scents.

{Here’s a great recipe to try: Toss one sliced apple, three cinnamon sticks, a pinch of cloves, one teaspoon of vanilla and two cups of water in a pot to simmer down.}

Once you have your means figured out, head to the place where you do your creative thang, take a deep breath, and let nature take its course. Haha!

Have fun soaking in the scents and being brilliant, my creative friends.




Unleash the Power of Curiosity

Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it could be our saving grace. When we allow ourselves to get curious…really intrigued…about the things that bring us joy, it can lead to more fulfilling jobs, exciting days, and a life that feels on track.

Curiosity is a direct path to finding our true selves – and what we were uniquely created to do.

I’ve been told many times and in various ways that “passion” is the way forward. When we find our passion, we find our purpose.

For me, that always felt like such a big commitment. I feel pretty passionate about lots of things, so it’s hard for me to nail down the one thing I need to do. And that leaves me feeling stuck.

I found myself reading Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert recently and was nudged out of my boring stuck-ness with her thoughts about curiosity.

{This is an inspiring read to add to your book list!}

She encourages us to relax about it all and simply “Do whatever brings you to life. Follow your own fascinations, obsessions, and compulsions. Trust them. Create whatever causes a revolution in your heart.”

Finding our passion, and subsequently our life’s purpose, doesn’t have to be singular or come through a grand epiphany. All it takes is a little self awareness and an internal nudge to take action. And that’s the key. Act on what makes you smile, and see where it takes you. It doesn’t have to immediately turn into a money making opportunity or personal mission statement.

Start by cheering yourself up with fun stuff to do. If you still feel stuck, think about the answers to questions like:

  1. What would you do with an extra 15 minutes in the day – all “adulting” aside?
  2. What topic do you Google most often?
  3. Which Pinterest board has the most pins?
  4. What issues get you really fired up?
  5. What was the last thing that made you laugh until you cried?
  6. What activity makes you lose track of time?

Let your intuition take the front seat, and see what pops up. Use these answers as clues. Get curious about the “why” behind each of these answers. Follow those leads.

Elizabeth Gilbert reminds us that “the universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them.”

I love that. Let’s go see what we can uncover!

To help boost our motivation, I rounded up some of my favorite quotes about the topic. Feel free to Pin, share, or download as wallpaper on your phone to keep them top of mind. >>

Here’s to a day spent in constant curiosity…and discovery!

Many blessings,



Kindness Rocks + Finding Time “In Between”

Today’s post is inspired by a comment that Jenna @ Tractors and Glam shared with me on Friday. I had posted some fun project ideas for summer and included “playing with rocks.”

Jenna really liked the ideas and went on to explain that there’s a large group of people who are painting rocks and hiding them all around town, and that it has become huge in her community.

How cool is this? I was intrigued and started researching the idea.

Apparently this is a thing (and growing trend) across the country. There’s this article and this dedicated website to help us understand what it’s all about.

Essentially, the idea is to “spread inspiration and motivation for unsuspecting recipients through random inspirational rocks dropped along the way.”

Here are some examples from the Kindness Project Facebook page:

Aren’t these lovely? And what a creative way to spread some joy around the world. Not to mention, it’s an inexpensive hobby. Rocks are free and you can find permanent markers and paints at pretty much any discount store.

I’m thinking about starting a group in my hometown.

If anyone has experience with this, please let me know what to do! I’d love your tips and tricks.

In the meantime, I created a board with lots of ideas for what to paint on my first set of rocks. {There’s no shortage of inspiration on Pinterest, I tell ya.}

I’m excited to get started. Now, where to find the time to do this?!

Part 2: “In-Betweening”

As a busy mom with a job, pets, and a blog, a small part of me is asking, “When the heck will you find time to start this new creative project, sister?”

I think I found the answer in a podcast by my super talented friend and co-worker, Jameson Sheppard. He recently started a podcast called Creative Common Ground.

In episode 4, around 12 min into the podcast, he talks about the idea of “in-betweening.”

He explains that when we step back and evaluate how we spend our time (all of it, including the time scrolling through Facebook and deciding which Netflix series we’ll binge next) we’ll discover we have more time than we realize.

Look at the time between things on our schedules and engage in a creative endeavor or hobby during those small moments.

Even if it’s 5-10 min. each time, it will add up over the course of a week or month or year. Heck, you could end up learning to play a guitar or writing a book during all of that “in-betweening.”

We just need to decide and set ourselves up with the right tools to make this easy. I plan to give this a try with my rock project, so wish me luck!

Feel free to listen to Jameson’s full explanation of the idea – and check out his other episodes. They’re only about 15 min each and worth every second.

Here’s to more time being creative + spreading kindness like confetti…and rocks!!




Through The Eyes of a Child

I picked up my phone the other day to take pictures for the blog, and I found a slew of shots that I know I hadn’t taken. There were pics of our pets, stuffed animals, and silly faces of my kids. Someone had hijacked my phone, and I’m pretty sure it was one or both of my 11-year-old twin girls. {Maybe because of the selfies?}

Upon inquiry, the girls laughed and fessed up pretty quickly. Of course I didn’t get upset. The pictures were hilarious, and I loved seeing the world through their eyes.

I also loved the idea of turning this playful discovery into a creative exercise.

It’s a fairly simple one, too. >

Have your kids take your phone or camera for a few hours and let them snap away. Once they’re finished, take a moment to observe their choices, angles, and point of view. Then spot your lesson. What can you learn from their curiosity and exploration?

Here are a few lessons my girls taught me as I scrolled through my camera roll:

Don’t take life too seriously. Being silly is just plain fun. Especially when you’re making stink-eye emoji faces.

Trampoline hair don’t care. Jumping for joy is good for your spirit.

It’s good to stop and enjoy the small things in life, like the snuggle of a teddy bear…

Even if you’re a dog.

Some of the sweetest views of life are down low with the bunnies.

And at the end of the day, there’s nothing better than hangin’ with your twinsie.

This exercise kinda reminded me of a scene from Dead Poets Society when Robin Williams, who plays a quirky and lovable English teacher, stands up on his desk. He asks all of the boys in the class to do the same. Then he challenges them to see the world from a different point of view and form their own opinions. It was an iconic scene from the movie, and one that has always stuck with me.

So for today, let’s take the opportunity to see things from a different perspective…through the eyes of a child.

How can we impart this wisdom upon our next creative expression? Paint with the eyes of a child? Design with the simplicity of a grade schooler? Write from a place of innocence and vulnerability? Solve a problem through the basic understanding of fairness and love?

“Seeing the world through the eyes of a child is truly like seeing the magic of everything.”




Making Haikuesday a Thing

Hello, my creative friends. I just realized I haven’t posted a creative tip on Tuesday in quite some time, so here I am. Posting. And I have a fun activity for us to share.

Have you ever written a haiku before? It’s a Japanese poem that has a mere 17 syllables. And they’re written in a pattern…only three lines long with the following breakdown of syllables: 5 – 7 – 5.

Here’s an example that also tells you what to do >>

  • The first line is five
  • The second line is seven
  • Last line, five again

See what I did there? Lol.

Okay, so backing up for a second, I gave myself the personal creative challenge of going for a short walk and paying attention to everything I saw. Not just notice the ducks on the water behind our house, but also listen to how they sound and watch how they push water with their hidden webbed feet below. Slow down time so I can truly appreciate what’s there. Absorb the details.

Love and gratitude comes from noticing the details.

The details of our day…the things we notice and collect…can be used to build a nest. A soft spot for our creativity to crack open all wet, scared and hungry to survive. A thing for us to nurture, to feed, to protect and eventually nudge into the world to fly. To take-in air under its wings and defy the logic of gravity. To surprise and delight others, and ultimately to inspire.

Once I took my walk and jotted down a few details, I noticed there was a rhythm to what I was writing. I could feel it, but couldn’t see the pattern right away.

Curious, I googled “haiku” and discovered that with a few slightly different word choices, I was writing a series of poems. It felt synchronistic, so I kept going. And in walked part two of my creative challenge. The Haiku. >>

  • New life still in shell
  • speckled with dirt, frailty and
  • anticipation.

  • The choir of ducks
  • mistaken for croaking frogs
  • if not for my sight.

  • Sitting in stillness,
  • slowing the pace of my breath,
  • adding weight to time.

These are just a few of my walk-inspired poems from today. I posted the egg on Instagram and tagged it with #haikuesday.

I was a little inspired by Christoph Niemann. He posts original (and highly creative) drawings on Sundays. While I’m not a painter, maybe I can use my writing paired with photos to start something? Maybe this can be a new thing for all of us? Walking slowly, at least once a week, to notice the details and give them the honor of becoming a poem?

I hope you’ll join me. Let’s try our hand at writing a haiku once a week. Comment below if you’re in, and tag me on your posts when you write your poems so I can love all over your beauty. I’m on Instagram and Twitter as Kate, and The Neat Nook has its very own Facebook page @TheNeatNook

Let’s have some fun noticing and creating!



Keep It Simple, Sister

When I’m writing, designing or basically making anything, I’m a firm believer in the KISS method. I first learned about it from one of my favorite creative directors of all time, Nick Nicholson. The phrase stands for Keep It Simple, Stupid. I prefer Sister, because “stupid” is a bad word in our house.

Nick would encourage us (and even challenge us) to cut the number of words in our copy or even go without any words. Could the story be told in photographs? Or what about a single photo?

Every time I went through this exercise, I was floored by how much stronger the message became. Sometimes showing less, saying less, and not trying so hard was the secret to a more powerful way to communicate. Less can truly = more.

On a grander scale, maybe it’s a more powerful way to be?

What if we were to KISS everything?

If we get overwhelmed by a busy schedule, we could peel away the layers of commitments that aren’t necessary or don’t contribute to our happiness.

If we’re drowning in clutter at home or just in our purses, we could dump all of the things that literally weigh us down.

If we unraveled the sweater of busyness that we knit around ourselves, what would we uncover? What kind of bare and beautiful life could we find?




The Art of a Hidden Poem

I love that the trend of meditative coloring books is still a thing. I’ve seen tons of them hit main stream stores like Walmart this holiday season. I’m sure it’s because they make awesome gifts.

If you love this kind of thing – and want to expand your talents, you may want to try this relaxing and creative activity. I call them hidden poems, because it’s essentially a poem that you uncover and create within an existing text like this >>

Just like adult coloring books, the process of a hidden poem requires you to be still, color, and create. And the end result can be just as beautiful and gift-worthy.

A Hidden Poem “How To”

Tear out or photocopy a page from your favorite book, newspaper or magazine. The New Yorker and other literary magazines are perfect for this type of activity, because the language is so rich and lovely. You’ll see why that’s important in a moment…

Grab a pencil and skim through your page of text. Underline individual words that jump out or speak to you as you go.

Next, read each of the words as if they were strung together in a sentence. You might need to find a few connecting words in between to help the flow. What you’re doing is finding and creating a poem within the page.

Once you have your words selected, take a dark colored marker and start coloring and covering all of the extra words around your poem.

You can even decorate the page around your poem like these beautiful examples. >>

After you’ve crafted your message feel free to frame it, stick it on your inspiration board, or even give it as a gift to someone special. The more you practice this art form, the better you’ll become at spotting hidden poems and messages.

I’d love to see some of your works of art, so be sure to share!! Post it on my Facebook page or tag me on Instagram @Katejandersen so I can repost it.

Have a creative day!



Creative Tip: Using Your Imagination

Friends, we have a very special guest today. One of my 10-year old twin girls would like to offer a creative tip for us on this terrific Tuesday. So I told her to type up a post and that I would share it with all of you.

Join me in welcoming my little artistic Avery. {You may remember her from a previous post about a field trip to the museum!}

Hello, readers. This is Avery. My mom is the one who usually writes here, so I’m excited to write this and share one of my ideas.

If I ever feel bored, I like to do crafts and use my imagination. One thing I like best is making fingerprint animals and designs.

Here’s how I do it.

I get different colors of ink. They come in the form of a stamp pad.


First, I stamp my finger and press it onto a piece of paper. I like to use my thumb, because it’s bigger to make the body of an animal.



Once the ink dries, I take colored pens and draw the faces and details of the animals.


That’s really it!

The reason I like to do this type of craft is because it’s simple and it lets me use my imagination. It’s also not too messy. You just have to wash your hands.

There are so many animals you can draw. Here are some that I did yesterday.







Some of these were made by my twin sister, Clara. She’s so creative, too! 🙂

I hope you like them. Thank you for reading my post. This was fun to write. I also hope you get to use your imagination today to make something awesome.

Avery Andersen 🙂


Creative Tip: Listen to Little Messages

As I sit and enjoy my coffee on this cool November morning, I’m feeling thankful I stumbled upon this list titled “10 Ways to Stay Creative.” It’s been tucked away in a folder on my desktop for months. Somehow it managed to catch my attention. And I’m glad it did.

I’ve been feeling like a tire with a slow leak…rolling along, but losing air at a speed that’s almost unnoticeable until it gets low enough to hit the rim. I feel like I just skimmed the ground, creatively speaking. And it finally caught my attention.

As I reflect, my posts have been fewer and farther between, the writing projects at work have been mostly clinical these days, and I haven’t dabbled in any craft projects lately. Not the best combination for someone who adores and thrives on living a creative life.

Luckily there’s that small voice…the one that quietly guides and cheers us on. And it led me to my computer to dig through old files for inspiration. I found this list and decided to post it on Facebook late last night. I woke up still thinking about it, which was a good sign. I’m being nudged into action.

So here I am today, armed with a spark of motivation, my computer, and a blank page ready to accept the challenge of creativity. I’m excited and curious to see where it leads. Maybe you’d like to join me? >>

Here’s to a creative day…and that we keep our eyes and hearts open to the messages that keep showing up.




Inspiration from Dr. Wayne Dyer

Dr. Wayne Dyer was an inspirational author with one of the most calm, confident, and uplifting demeanors.

I was actually introduced to his books back when I was in high school. My dad was observant and caring enough to recognize I was searching for meaning, and he provided great books and support. I grew to love and read all of Dr. Dyer’s books over the years. Two of my favorites are Manifest Your Destiny and Wishes Fulfilled.

I still turn to them from time-to-time and am amazed at the coincidence that occurs. No matter what I’m going through, I happen to pick up JUST the right book and turn to JUST the right page for comfort or understanding.

My husband feels the same way (who is also hooked on these books.) We have since given I Am, and  Incredible You! to our kids.

Incredible You I Am

In memory of Dr. Dyer, who passed on to his next adventure on Sunday night, I wanted to share a few of my favorite quotes with you.

I hope at least one of these messages finds a place in your heart.

Have a blessed day, and go do something amazing!