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.

Blessings,

Kate

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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,

Kate

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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!!

Blessings,

Kate

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What to Do on a Summer Crafternoon?

Let’s start with the basics…

Haha! I love digging into a project of any shape or size. When I’m able to keep my hands busy…tied up with ribbons, pens, glue or string…it’s usually a happy day around here.

Now that summer is upon us, my girls and I decided to pull together a go-to list of projects. These have all been “Avery & Clara approved”, so…

If you have tweens in your life, they might like these projects, too!! >

{ONE} Play with rocks

The great thing about this project is that it requires you to spend time outside collecting the perfect set of rocks before you begin. Then you get to play inside (or on a cool porch) with crochet needles, ink pens or paints.

For instance, look at this first set of stones! I would love a bowl full of these beauties in my house. Each one is covered in a different crochet pattern, and takes on a personality all its own.

If this seems too tricky, you could skip to the next idea and just treat yourself to beautifully crocheted pebbles here!

Next up is an idea that just requires a Sharpie or ink pen.

As a tip, you might want to pencil-in your design first. That way you can plan out a more intricate pattern like the ones pictured below.

PS. I love the one with white ink on the dark grey stone. So pretty.

If you’re more in the mood for painting, here’s some inspiration: Paint one of your favorite quotes and add a few floral touches.

Wouldn’t this be sweet sitting on a coffee table or desk?

{TWO} Crochet cute animals

Have you seen the trend of these teensy-tiny crocheted animals?! I’ve recently learned the correct name is amigurumi, which is a Japanese word. You can learn more about the origin of these darling yarn creations here.

In the meantime, let’s look at a few designs that my girls are dying to try – like these starfish!

I can just picture us crocheting a few of these sitting beachside. >

I’m becoming obsessed with hedgehogs these days. When I saw this pattern, my heart melted a little bit. >

And what’s cuter than one saddleback seal with her furry white coat? Two…a mama and her precious babe. I mean, those eyes. >

{THREE} Build a fairy garden

Most of the projects so far could turn into full-on hobbies, including this one.

Building fairy gardens is a never ending experience because they’re living projects. They continue to grow and change right before your very eyes.

There are so many ideas out there, too! You could create new fairy spaces all of the time. In fact, here’s further inspiration…

This post shows one of the earlier gardens that my girls and I made together. You’ll get tips on what kind of flowers to plant, too.

This is a more recent post that was inspired by a trip to my local garden store where I spied several darling gardens. The one pictured above is included in this post.

I’ve also collected tons of ideas on this board. Feel free to hop over!

{FOUR} Color a card & keep in touch with friends

If you’re into adult coloring books, which are very meditative, then you’ll love this idea.

Turn your drawings into greeting cards. Cut out your favorite pattern and glue to the front of a plain card. That way you can share your pics + keep in touch with friends while you’re away on a summer adventure.

It’s an easy project to take on the road, too.

I recently spotted these playful postcards you could color, tear out and send right out of the book. >

{FIVE} Learn brush lettering (finally)

As a lefty, the idea of calligraphy sounds impossible. The ink doesn’t dry fast enough between letters to keep the entire page (and your hand) clear of smears. I’ve tried many times. A dear friend of mine even bought me a gorgeous quill with a small bottle of ink, and it turned into a sad mess.

But nowadays, it seems like there are more convenient options to choose from. Even some of the fancy brush pens dry fairly quickly. I think it’s time I re-attempt this much-loved look. Don’t you?! 🙂

There are lots of tutorials on this topic, and I found this one to be especially helpful.

And as a further nudge, I found several pretty ways to display and share all of the hard work. >

Clip it on a bulletin board or drop it in the mail as a greeting card.

Write out a funny quote like this one and frame it for your office or kitchen.

Write out your “word of the year” or a phrase that makes you feel strong and then take a picture of it. Select it as the screensaver on your phone or computer for a daily dose of motivation.

If you want to get really artsy, put your lettering on a small canvas and prop it up on a plate stand. You can display it on your dresser or in your living room – wherever you want to see your special “note to self.”

I’m just now getting into bible journaling, so my hand lettering skills will definitely come in handy for this new hobby.

Look how pretty these letters are with the gradient colors.

Alright, friends, that’s a wrap for now. If you need me, I’ll be cruizin’ and droolin’ through the craft store aisles. Lol. Have a fun summer and let me know what kind of projects are on your list!

Blessings,

Kate

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P.S. For hundreds (literally) of additional ideas for summer fun, check out these lists!

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Garden Store Fairy Gardens!

Now that it’s officially spring and my daffodils, pansies and lantana are popping up throughout my garden, I’m more than eager to pull on my gloves and hit the dirt. That also means I’m ready to skip over to the garden store – my home away from home.

On my most recent trip, I noticed tons of fairy gardens tucked into corners here and there. They made me so happy, I took pictures and wanted to share them with you. >>

Things to notice: A piece of driftwood as the “house”, the miniature twig furniture and door (which were for sale inside the garden shop), broken pieces of slate as a walkway, and a blue marble used as a gazing ball. I also love the purple shamrocks on the right.

Things to notice: The low basket this is planted in – and that darling house! I don’t know where they got this, but I love the roof and rounded door. The miniature furniture and watering can were for sale in the store. Also notice the use of a pine cone – like a little tree. Speaking of trees…look at the beautiful Goshiki False Holly on the back right. I never would have thought to put one of those in a fairy garden! The monkey grass on the front is also a cool choice.

Things to notice: Again with the fabulous house, and look at the sweet bench out front with a butterfly wing-shaped back. Love the choice of plants here, too. Great color with what I think is a type of Persian Shield. The Dwarf Umbrella on the back right adds wonderful height.

Things to notice: Yes, the house. This reminds me of a shaker-style home with a double chimney. What fairy wouldn’t love to live here? There’s more darling furniture, too. Notice the mini stone pillars at the entrance to the slate walkway. And the mushrooms on either side of the house add a pop of color. Oh, and we can’t forget the little succulents next to the front door – planted in mini urns, of course. The bushes in the front are juniper! Wouldn’t a juniper bonsai be incredibly cool in a fairy garden?

Things to notice: The mini garden gnomes. (Do you see the one hiding in the back with a red cap?) I also love the white picket fence with a stone entrance into the garden of ferns and other multi-colored plants. The painted red pot that holds it all together is a cute touch, too.

Things to notice: This comes with its own fairy…and her bike. Love the slice of wood that makes a platform for the bike. This one also used the picket fencing and stone entrance. I like the assortment of plants a little better here. Lots of texture and some varied color = very pretty.

Things to notice: Um, the PLAYGROUND. It’s complete with a swing set, slide and park benches. And look at the flag bunting that surrounds the mini park. I can’t even. Too cute!!

Things to notice: While this isn’t a fairy garden per se, I love the mix of ferns and the little stone bird tucked inside of this basket – that looks more like a nest. You could very easily add some fairy furniture and invite them to move in under the foliage.

That concludes our little tour. I hope you enjoyed it. If you haven’t quite had enough, here are more pictures to explore. I created an entire board on Pinterest just for fairy gardens. #cantstopwontstop

Have a great day, and I’ll be back on Friday with a few ideas for Easter. Hip, hop, hooray!

Blessings,

Kate

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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?

Kisses,

-Kate

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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!

-Kate

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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.

ink-pads-and-stamps

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.

avery-with-stamps

finger-with-stamp

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

colored-gel-pens

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.

turkey

bumble-bee

bunny

elephant

caterpillar

fingerprint-animals

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 🙂

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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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