Friday Wrap: Slow Your Roll

Whew! It has been a crazy couple of weeks with puppy training and back-to-school madness. To top it off, it seems like the news is full of stories that make me want to weep. I was horrified to see the clip of the Virginia reporters who were shot on live TV. I needed to push away from the computer and take a break. I decided to take a long walk to regroup and look for signs of life and joy.

It wasn’t right away, but eventually (about the time I spotted ducks warming themselves in the sun) I realized how good it felt to just slow down. Each step contained a sliver of time that deserved my attention.

The 86,400 seconds of each day are like tiny gifts.

Instead of focusing on things that had already happened, or worrying about possible events in the future, I needed to be a witness to what’s right in front of me…open each of those little presents. That’s not to say I won’t ever have difficult or challenging experiences. It’s just that it will only be for a moment. And it will pass. More gifts are already on their way.

When I slowed down to love what’s in front of me, my fear melted, my heart softened, and hope began to bloom again.

Here are a few things I captured on my walk:

{ONE} the resting duck pose

Resting Ducks

{TWO} sweet magnolia blooms

Fragrant magnolia

{THREE} a mushroom village that may or may not contain Smurfs

Mushroom farm

{FOUR} the wise old heron

Heron

{FIVE} the hungry little hummingbird

The Hungry Little Hummingbird

What will you take time to see today? Capture it. Treasure it. Let it inspire you to choose joy over fear.

Have a blessed day!

-Kate

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Career Thoughts for Your Kids

While the twins and I were driving in the car yesterday, we somehow got on the topic of “what do you want to be when you grow up?” Clara has such a tender heart and loves animals of all shapes and sizes. Avery is incredibly creative and loves painting, writing, singing, dancing…any activity that’s expressive.

My first instinct was to offer typical career choices.

I told Clara she’d be a great veterinarian; and I told Avery she’d make a tremendous art teacher. As the ideas came out of my mouth, though, I felt like I had closed them into such small boxes. Those don’t have to be their only choices, and I don’t want them to feel obligated to those ideas.

I tried to quickly recall my message – like you do with an email that’s sent to the wrong person – and told them that those were just a few ideas, and they could explore lots of options.

That’s when the exciting ideas came. Clara imagined she could have a dog-sitting service or train animals to help people in need. Avery decided she could own a craft store or become a famous singer that inspires people. The conversation was not only more productive, but also more joyful.

After this experience, I realized that instead of asking my kids what they want to be when they grow up, I should just ask what makes them happy.

Sounds simple enough. But once they’ve figured this out, it can then be my job to help them remember, help them hold on to this passion, and encourage them to explore ways to use their gifts to make the world a better place.

It’s totally okay if their personal mission doesn’t line up with existing jobs. Many jobs are becoming extinct – and new ones are being created every day.

If you need a boost in your own career choices or development, think back to when you were 10 years old. What did you love more than anything? Are you doing it today – if not in your career, at least in your hobbies? Figuring this out is a miraculous first step to being joyful – and feeling purposeful. 

If you need an even bigger boost, check out this inspirational presentation by Casey Gerald. My inspiring friend, Mary Eliff, recently shared this with me. It was part of a Creative Mornings lecture series, and has been one (if not the only) speech to receive a standing ovation with this group.

Hopefully it will make you feel inspired. If so, be sure to pass it on. The world needs more inspired people.

Have an incredibly productive day.

-Kate

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Color Your Stress Away

Not much could soothe my childhood soul more than a box of fresh crayons and the crisp pages of a new coloring book. I’d spend hours at a time in a zen-like state carefully decorating each section of my picture. There were no real pressures. I didn’t have to color by a specific deadline, within a particular budget – or even inside the thick, pre-planned lines. I could simply sit and enjoy the act of coloring.

What a joyful thing to experience.

It’s no wonder adult coloring books are a growing trend right now. Have you seen them? It’s really a thing – and some of the books are downright gorgeous. Frame-worthy, even.

I first stumbled upon one in Barnes & Noble. My little Avery wanted a new book and we spotted the Secret Garden by Johanna Basford.

secret garden

Come to find out, Johanna is the queen bee of adult coloring books. She has sold more than 1.4 million copies of her book so far, and she has composed a newer edition called Enchanted Forest. It looks equally as intriguing.

enchanted forest

I found myself scootching next to Avery whenever she pulled out the Secret Garden. We’d sit and color and chat about what seemed to be nothing. But whenever we finished, we felt much happier. And that’s definitely something.

I know it might seem too indulgent to sit and color. Sometimes I hear, “ain’t nobody got tiiime for that” in the back of my own mind. But if we reframe it as a time to relax and reconnect with ourselves (or even our children), it can be as important as any to-do on the list. And it can be as refreshing as meditation or a good glass of wine. #winning

So why not give it a spin? Pull out a new batch of colored pencils (the grownup version of crayons for these beautiful books), fire up your pencil sharpener and start creating.

To help get you started here are five pages from Secret Garden you can download and print right away.

When you’re ready to buy a full book, here are a few good options to consider:

Calming Colouring Patterns by Leslie McCallum (I bought this one at Hobby Lobby before our recent road trip!)

calming colouring patterns

Here are a few others on my fave list:

Color Me Calm by Lacy Mucklow and Angela Porter (Love the title.)

color me calm

Dream Catcher: A Soul Bird’s Journey by Christina Rose (This is more like Secret Garden with the botanical/nature patterns.)

dream catcher

The Mindfulness Colouring Book by Emma Farrarons (I feel calmer already just looking at the cover.)

mindfulness coloring book

Animal Kingdom by Millie Marotta (Look at these gorgeous illustrations. These are wall-hanging worthy for sure.)

animal kingdom

Creative Coloring Inspirations by Valentina Harper (I love the inspiring messages that come along with each of these pages.)

coloring inspirationsYou’ll have to let me know if you have any of these books and which is your personal favorite.

I’d also love to see some of your pages. Snap a pic and tag me on Instagram with #CreativeTipTues or @KateJAndersen.

Happy coloring, my friends!

-Kate

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Friday Wrap

Hello and happy Friday! Sing with me, “Schoooool’s out. For. Summer.” The calendar might claim that June 21st is the first day of summer, but as soon as the final bell rings on the final day of school, which was on Monday for us, it’s officially summertime in the Andersen house. And this family hits the pool faster than you can say “cannonball” – no matter what the temperature.

pool time

It happened to be only 65 degrees on this day, and yes, we were the only ones swimming. #wearepartfish

In addition to swimming, this momma found time to dig up a few goodies to share this week. Check out my five faves:

{ONE} Carry On, Warrior by Glennon Melton

carry-on-warriorS

Watch a little video {via}

If you’re looking for a book that will crack open your heart and make you feel like your messy life is actually quite beautiful, then Carry On, Warrior is for you.

My SIL posted on Facebook that she downloaded this on Audible and found herself both laughing and crying while listening to this book on a walk. It was more of a PSA, really, for anyone who may have witnessed her emotional state. I was intrigued, and also in search of my next read, so I decided to download both Audible and this exact book. The next thing I knew, I was sitting poolside with tears pouring onto my towel and feeling thankful my SIL had shared her experience. This book is courageous, humble, funny and loving. The author makes you feel like you can be all of these things, as well. Truly a gift.

{TWO} Herb Markers

herb markers

See more {via}

Look at these adorable herb markers for the garden! Doesn’t this look like a fun crafternoon project? Just gather some rocks, white acrylic ink, a small paintbrush and go to town.

{THREE} Creative Classes

Screen Shot 2015-06-04 at 11.03.32 PM

If you have a hunkering to start a new hobby this summer, check out creativebug for hundreds of tutorials. No exaggeration. And there’s super basic stuff, too, like how to thread a machine. I just might take up sewing after all!

{FOUR} Preserving Your Herbs

preserving herbs

Get the directions {via}

I love this time of year when all of my herbs are thriving and jiving in the garden. Everything is so fresh and delicious, I just want to freeze time. The closest I can get is freezing the herbs. I guess that works, too. I like preserving them in fresh olive oil. This reduces some of the “burn” that herbs can get in the freezer. Since most recipes call for oil, you serve two ingredients with one little cube.

{FIVE} Mojito Time!

mojito

Recipe {via}

Speaking of fresh herbs…I have a rather large patch of mint growing in my yard. While some might see an obnoxious, invasive plant, I see the makings of many mojitos. Here’s a delicious recipe for you to enjoy.

Cheers to a wonderful weekend, my friends!

-Kate

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Don’t Give Up!

Happy Tuesday, dear friends. I was cruising around Facebook this weekend catching up on all the news about my friends and family when I stumbled upon this beautiful verse in my feed. It stopped me in right my scrolling tracks, and I read every single word.

The message is about being yourself. You owe it to the world to do so.

So for this week’s creative tip, I bring you this note from the angels…

Cheering you on with the angels,

-Kate

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Let Go & Grow

Today’s post is a bit of a confession. I was recently working on a creative project and was so focused on having it look and sound amazing, that it became harder than it needed to be. I stressed about it, procrastinated as long as I could, and eventually felt guilty – for all of it. Have you ever done that? Put unnecessary pressure on yourself?

I finally (and thankfully) realized I was making myself crazy. No one else had such high expectations of me than, well, me. I took a deep breath and put on my favorite jams (as in music, not my jammies. Although, those would have been good, too.) Then I sat at the computer and started putting one word in front of the other. The next thing I knew, I was enjoying myself and the project was coming together.

The moment I let go of the outcome, I was able to experience more joy and creative freedom than I had felt in quite some time.

As I reflected on this experience, I came to the conclusion that I should apply this lesson to more things in life – not just in my creative projects, but in the way I raise my kids, love my husband, serve as a friend, look at my body, or organize the house. The moment I white-knuckle the steering wheel and drive in the direction I think we all need to go is when stress kicks in. When I allow room for things to unfold, get messy, or feel uncertain, I can be certain I will learn from the experience. It will be a gift – even if I don’t recognize it at first.

This past week I watched Chef’s Table, which is an amazing documentary-style show on Netflix. Massimo, who is the Italian chef featured in the first episode, was presented with a challenge. A member of his staff dropped the last lemon tart, and it shattered all over the plate. Instead of feeling frustrated or defeated, Massimo embraced the mess. He splattered more lemon sauce around the plate and called it “Oops! I dropped the lemon tart.” It became one of the most famous dishes on his menu. This was such a beautiful example of how a “mistake” can turn into a blessing if we have gentle and accepting eyes to see them for what they really are.

If we surrender to the universe with abundant faith, all will be well.

No matter what each of us is going through, and I know everyone has something crappy going on, let’s have the courage to lean back and let go. Know that all will be well.

Kate

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A Sunny Monday

weather report

That’s a lot of rain!

Hello, friends. I just saw the forecast for the week, and it looks like I’ll be spending some time indoors starting tomorrow. Geez. Luckily I spent the weekend cleaning and catching up on laundry, so I’m done with that for at least another month. #wishing Now I can have some crafty Kate-time this week.

My big project at the moment is my niece’s wedding scrapbook. She’s getting married this summer, so I’m archiving as many special moments leading up to the big date as I can (with the help of my sister, who is sending me all of the elements to include.) I’ll have to take some pictures of a few pages this week so you can see my progress.

wedding-color-schemes-yellow-and-grey

Her color scheme is yellow and grey, which is gorgeous! Don’t you think? {via}

book

I went with a gray cloth post bound book. {via}

As you can imagine, Pinterest is chock-full of inspiration for page layouts and designs. My problem is narrowing down the ideas, but I’m up for the challenge. I love projects like this, and doing it for my sweet niece is definitely icing on the cake.

If you’re looking for me today, though, I’ll be the one outside soaking in the sunny, dry skies while I can!

-Kate

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When You Want Fresh Ideas, Think Laterally

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted a creative tip, so today’s post is all about lateral thinking.

Have you ever heard the phrase, “You can’t dig a hole in a different place by digging the same hole deeper?” There are several variations of this line that all mean essentially the same thing: to get new ideas, you have to look in new (and sometimes illogical) directions.

It might feel comfortable to use the same solutions to a problem (which is considered vertical thinking, btw) but that doesn’t always lead you to good answers or ideas.

When we talk to new people, read interesting magazines, listen to different music, and take new routes, we allow for inspiring ideas and new perspectives to soak in.

All of that is good material for solving problems – especially if you want to try your hand at lateral thinking.

What is lateral thinking?

The father of lateral thinking is Dr. Edward de Bono. Some people claim he is one of the very few people in history to have had a major impact on the way we think. He defines lateral thinking as “disrupting an apparent sequence and arriving at the solution from another angle.”

Yah, yah. What are some examples?

Have you seen the New Uses for Old Things section in each issue of Real Simple? This is lateral thinking!

life saver candle holder

A candy Life Saver can also be the perfect candle holder! {via}

books as shelves

Books can make great shelves. {via}

rubber band

If you have a stripped screw, a rubber band can get you out of a jam. {via}

Another example can be found in a lateral thinking puzzle, like this one…

puzzle1

A: Pour juice from second glass into the fifth. {via}

How to put lateral thinking to use?

For one, I have an entire Pinterest board dedicated to New Uses for Old Things. There are countless ways to think laterally about organizing and decorating your home, wrapping unexpected gifts, cooking, etc. So lateral thinking has some practical uses.

You can also apply this to your job. I read a great article that gave some solid examples.

  • Lawyers and detectives use lateral thinking when attempting to solve crimes, because the sequence of events is often not as straightforward it first appears. (Um, and having some detective skillz can come in handy as a parent, too.)
  • If you’re in the creative arts, lateral thinking is an especially useful technique for developing ideas.
    • As a writer, this approach could help you come up with unexpected twists and turns in a plot.
    • For comedians, it can help you set up the perfect joke.
    • If you work in communications, like I do, it could help you develop an unexpected headline or approach to selling a product.

Keep up the good work!

You’ve probably been using lateral thinking all along, but didn’t realize what it was called. Now that you do know, be sure to keep up your skills. It’s like anything in life. The more you practice, the easier it will become. Here are a few links to some fun lateral thinking puzzles and resources:

Have fun thinking laterally. How do you think you’ll use this in your daily life? I’d love to know!

-Kate

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Happy Easter!

Hello, dear friends. Today is a day to sing, celebrate, and rejoice in the fact that it’s Easter day!

I’ve always struggled with explaining the Easter bunny and baskets to my kids on such a holy day, and I recently found a great article on the topic. It helps us get creative and turn typical holiday symbols into tools that bring a greater understanding of the message of Easter. As one example, look at this darling illustration of the “real” Easter bunny…

To personalize this story, try drawing or printing your own bunny. Turn it into a coloring sheet for your kids. You can then explain the meaning as you color the sheet together.

Another fun activity to try today is a resurrection scavenger hunt. Kids of all ages should enjoy this one.

Here’s hoping you have a blessed day filled with love and hope!

-Kate and family

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April Fools’ Fun

balloon prank

Happy April Fools’ Day! Who doesn’t love a good office prank like this one?

 If you love practical jokes and a good harmless hoax, today is your day to celebrate!

I definitely get a kick out of April Fools’ and remain 100% leery of any new products or announcements made on this day. Mostly because I’m so gullible. Case in point, my brother once told me the bottom of the swimming pool smelled like strawberry bubblegum. I only realized the prank once I sniffed a gallon of water up my nose. #notcool #shouldhaveknownbetter

In the spirit of the day, I’ve been keeping my eye out for some of the funniest and most clever pranks, and this is my list of faves so far:

Darby Smart

I received an email from Darby Smart, the mail-order DIY company, this morning announcing the new do-it-furself trend that has your furry friends crafting right alongside you. Projects such as kitty knitting and puppy paw painting are all featured on their site (today only, I’m sure). The pictures are hilarious.

Cat-Stitchin

Cat-stichin‘ is the next big trend in prafting.

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art

Last year on this day, Crystal Bridges announced a piranha infestation within one of the ponds on the property. It was a joke well played and showed a lighter side of the museum. So I was curious what they’d be up to this year, and I found this announcement on Facebook: a new slip-n-slide! The museum claims the installation of a slip-n-slide will elevate the excitement of the museum, while following a growing trend. Am I the only one who wishes this was kinda real?

Crystal Bridges slide

New slip-n-slide coming to the museum.

T-Mobile

In national news, T-Mobile announced a new phone plan. They are letting customers add their beloved family pets to their phone line for just $5 a month. How great is that? Meow.

T-Mobile pets unleashed

Pets can have phones, too, thanks to T-Mobile

 Google

Google is notorious for their April Fools’ pranks, and today they actually have two good ones. The first one is pretty simple. If you type com.google into your browser, everything on Google is backwards!

You can also play Pac Man with your neighborhood on Google Maps. This one is less prank and a lot more play.

What good jokes did you witness (or pull on someone) today? Do tell!!

-Kate

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