Creative Tip Tuesday: Pause to Play!

Play MemeHello, my sweet creative friends. I have a fun tip for this Tuesday. It’s all about play!

It’s easy to get so caught up in the daily hustle of our adult responsibilities that we don’t think about stopping to have fun. I’m totally guilty of this. Sometimes the thought of watching a funny video, learning a joke, or taking a trip to the park seems as indulgent as a bubble bath in the middle of the day – especially with so many tasks on the “to-do”.

But being playful is incredibly important. Even if it’s just a few minutes jamming to your favorite song in the car, feeling this kind of joy can do wonders for your spirit. I absolutely love this quote from author Dr. Stewart Brown,

“The opposite of play is not work. The opposite of play is depression.”

It’s essential to our well being to take a few minutes each day to laugh and play like the child we once were. Brown also says, “Play shapes our brain, helps us foster empathy…and is at the core of creativity and innovation.”

There’s no better time than right now to embrace your inner child and do something fun. You’ll be amazed at the way your mind starts opening and your heart starts feeling.

Here’s an exercise to try.

Grab your journal and make a list of five things that makes you feel playful. If that feels hard, think back to the last time you laughed. And I mean snort-laughed in the air like you just don’t care. Where were you, who were you with, or what were you doing that made you have such a great reaction? That might give you some ideas.

Pick one of your five activities, schedule 15 joyful minutes, and go do it! Then write in your journal about your experience.

  • What did you choose to do?
  • How did it make you feel?
  • When was the last time you did this activity? If it’s been awhile, why haven’t you done it sooner?
  • What can you change in your current schedule to make room for more play?

I hope you’ll give yourself permission to have recess today. Have fun and let me know how it goes. I love hearing from you!

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A Fall Chore Checklist

Fall ChecklistAt the turn of each season, I like to pull out my handy checklist of chores that helps me tame the domain. The good news is that there are certain things around the house that only require twice-a-year (and sometimes just annual) attention. For instance, I know how much you love and look forward to cleaning out the clothes dryer exhaust tube, but it’s not necessary to do more than once a year. Today we’ll talk about the fall list and save a few honey-dos for spring.

Speaking of that, having your honey do some of these things is a great idea. Not that you’re shirking any responsibilities. It’s good to share the work. It gives everyone (kids included) a feeling of ownership, and everyone will feel accomplished by that last check mark on the list.

Another tip: Add some fun by playing your favorite music as you work. I also like to light pretty fall-scented candles or put some fragrance on the stove so the house smells awesome from the inside out.

Without further ado, here’s a complete checklist for a safe, clean and organized home this fall. I’ve included some DIY links to some of these items to help, too.

Inside

  • Clean or replace furnace filters.
  • Schedule a fall furnace inspection.
  • Inspect and clean chimneys and flues. Schedule professional, if needed.
  • Change batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Inspect or replace fire extinguishers in the kitchen. It’s also good time to review your fire escape plan.
  • Run a vacuum over couches and chairs.
  • Clean carpets. Schedule professional, if needed.
  • Flip all of the mattresses.
  • Wash windows. (Kids love helping with this.)
  • De-clutter closets and donate items not worn in the past year. Get a receipt and determine the value of your items if itemizing taxes.
  • Clean refrigerator condenser coil.
  • Prep kitchen for holiday cooking: organize cabinets – especially baking supplies. Make a list of replacements or additions needed.
  • Clean dryer exhaust tube and vent to prevent a house fire.
  • Drain sediment from hot water heater.

Outside

  • Check weather stripping and caulking around doors and window.
  • Wash exterior windows.
  • Clear out the gutters.
  • Rake leaves, if needed. Dogs love the piles!
  • Stock up on fresh firewood if you have a wood-burning stove.
  • Clean and store patio furniture, umbrellas and summer toys.
  • Fertilize lawn and treat for perennial weeds, such as dandelions and clover.
  • Schedule pest control treatment, or spray perimeter yourself before bugs migrate inside for warmth. That is so eww!
  • Plant flower bulbs for a beautiful spring garden.
  • Touch up paint on trim, shutters, railings or deck.
  • Stock up on sand or salt to deice sidewalks. Also be sure shovels are clean and handy.
  • If you live in an area with cold winters, drain and store garden hoses, as well as sprinkler systems.

I also have this list available as a downloadable PDF. That way you can print this out for your fridge and check off as you go. No need to stress yourself out by trying to do all of this at once.

Happy cleaning and organizing, everyone! Let me know what other items you like to include.

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Creative Tip Tuesday: Notice the Small Things

IMG_4512

Design from The Neat Nook

This week, I encourage you to notice something small and seemingly ordinary, yet that strikes you as beautiful. If you can, take a picture of this object. Write a caption about what makes it stand out. Post it on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter using #CreativeTipTues so everyone can see what you discovered.

Why is this important to your creativity?

What you’ll notice about this exercise is you’re forced to live in the present moment. Suddenly you’re not thinking about what’s on your mind or what’s next on your to-do list. You’ll find yourself immersed in the details of life as it stands in front of you.

Here’s an awesome list of seven reasons to be present, which I think you’ll enjoy. Obviously #2 rings true to my heart.

Being fully present is one of the best ways to tap into your creativity.

Once you start slipping into the past, ideas about what has been done before start to creep into your thinking. Perhaps there’s even judgment attached. Going the other direction, it’s easy to leap into the future with worry about deadlines and expectations. All of these thoughts block new ideas and shut down possibilities. Staying in the “now” keeps you focused and aligned with your true creative potential. So the best gift you can give yourself (creatively speaking) is to put yourself smack dab in the present and just see what develops.

Have fun searching and creating! I hope to see some of your images online. Remember to tag #CreativeTipTues or message me on Instagram @katejandersen.

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DIY Layered Bow

full bow

A simple, layered bow.

Can you believe it’s already November?! Christmas will be here before you know it, so warm up your glue guns, everyone! I’ll share tons of DIY ornaments, easy holiday wrappings, and creative gift ideas in the coming weeks. Who’s with me?

Today, we’re going to start with the basics.

Some things in life just aren’t the same without a big bow, like the top of a pretty gift, the pigtails of a little girl, the welcoming wreath on a front door…the list could go on.

Now, a basic bow-tying method works for some situations – like tying your shoes. When you want to do it up right, you need a gorgeous layered bow. They’re actually quite simple and look like something a professional florist would create. You can do this. I believe in you.

Here’s the supply round up:

  • Two types of ribbon
  • Florist wire
  • Wire cutters

The length of ribbon depends on the size of bow you want. I like to use at least 2 yds. of each ribbon for a bow that will go on a wreath, because I’m serious about big bows.

When selecting different ribbons for a layered bow, you want coordinating colors and patterns. Today I’m using a solid color with a floral pattern. If you use two patterns, just make sure the colors are compatible and you’re set. A monochrome look is also pretty. Be sure to use different widths and textures to make it more visually interesting.

types of ribbon

Thin silk ribbon paired with a wider burlap makes a great combination full of texture.

Here’s an example of silk ribbon paired with burlap. I would use the thicker burlap for the bottom bow and the thinner silk as the top bow when layering. You always want the bottom bow to be larger.

Step-by-step layered bow, with pictures:

  1. We’ll start by making the bottom bow. Make your first loop, and make it fairly good size since this is your bottom bow. You want some volume here. Also, leave some ribbon hanging for a tail.
    first loop

    First loop with the tail hanging on the right there.

  2. Now for what I call the “under-over” approach:
    • Take the longest end of the ribbon, loop it under and away from yourself. The longest end of the ribbon is on the bottom of the bow now.
      second loop on a layered bow

      I looped the ribbon under and away from me. The tail is still down on the right.

    • Next, take the ribbon and loop it over and toward yourself. You’ll have three total loops at this point.
      third loop

      The third loop (upper right corner) goes over the top and toward you.

    • For the fourth loop, you’ll go back under the entire bow, away from yourself.
      four loops

      The forth loop is made and both of the tails are on the bottom side of the bow.

    • Repeat the “over-under” as many times as you’d like until you have the desired number of loops on each side. I like four, so I’ll stop here.
  3. Pinch the center of the bow and secure it with a piece of floral wire and set aside.
    wire on bottom

    I twisted the floral wire tight around the center.

  4. Now for the top bow. Let’s give it a pretty looped center. Make a loop around your thumb.
    See how the end of the ribbon is inside the loop?

    See how the end of the ribbon is inside the loop?

  5. My ribbon is one-sided (hopefully the only thing in life this way), so I will pinch and twist the ribbon over allowing the pretty side to show.
    FullSizeRender

    I twisted the ribbon at the center so the pretty side is facing outward.

  6. Loop the ribbon under and away from yourself. On this particular bow, you’re going to continue to form loops by twisting the ribbon and going under each time.
    FullSizeRender[1]

    I’ve looped the ribbon, and am working on my second loop.

    Four loops_top

    I’ve made four loops. You can see I’ve twisted the ribbon each time so the pretty side is always showing.

  7. Once you’ve made all of your loops, secure the bow through the center loop with floral wire. Twist a couple of times and leave the two wire ends hanging down.
    See the wire through the loop? Then I twisted the floral wire underneath to secure.

    See the wire through the loop? Then I twisted the floral wire underneath to secure.

  8. Let’s layer this baby! Use the wire from your top bow to secure it to the bottom bow. Twist all of the wires tight and leave some hanging so you can attach your bow to a package, wreath, hair clip, or whatever suits your fancy.
    IMG_4497

    It’s layering nicely. I twisted all of the wires together under the bow.

  9. Hold up your bow to fluff the loops – and admire your creation.
  10. Trim the ends of your tails so they match in length. You can cut on an angle or in a V-shape.

Tip: For the perfect “V”, fold the ribbon in half (lengthwise) and trim at an angle.

IMG_4507

Once your ribbon is folded, be sure to cut the angle up toward the center of the ribbon.

You’re done! What did you think? Helpful? I’d love your feedback. I’d also love to see your beautiful bows! Send me a message through comments, email, Instagram or Twitter.

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Creative Tip Tuesday: Try Something New. Anything.

It’s Tuesday! That means I’ll be sharing a creative tip today. This post was inspired by my sweet and amazingly talented friend, Leslie Sisti. We work together at a PR firm where we both get to share our love of creativity and writing. Leslie has been a fashion blogger of A Blonde Ambition for several years now and has become wildly successful. She’s the real deal, friends. When I told her I wanted to start a blog, she kindly offered tips, encouragement and even a chance to guest blog to help get things going. There aren’t enough flowers in the world that could properly thank her!HeaderTrans_zpscb139c50Here’s where I tried something new.

As nervous as I was, I took up Leslie on the offer to guest blog. (It’s posted today, so be sure to check it out.) While I’ve been a copywriter for decades and even led teams as a creative director, you’d think writing a blog would be as easy as breathing. Somehow, trying my hand at this feels entirely different. I’m usually writing on behalf of clients. So while the words are mine, the message always belongs to someone else. There’s a veil of protection in case someone doesn’t like the work. Or strangely enough, if someone loves what I’ve done, I can smile in the background and not have to take center stage. So, blogging. It’s personal. It’s honest. It’s imperfect. And most importantly, it’s something new for me.

I’m excited for the journey. My hope is you’ll join in my adventure and be inspired to try new things, too. It doesn’t have to mean quitting your job or planning a trip to France (although I’d LOVE to visit my dear friend Kristina!) Enough small adventures will lead to big discoveries. Here’s an inspiring TED Talk by Matt Cutts that shares his adventure of trying something new for 30 days.

New things can include writing with your other hand, taking a different route to work or buying plantains instead of bananas. What will happen is you’ll start to notice patterns about the things you choose – and the things you love. You’ll hear your inner voice. You’ll see your confidence grow. Perhaps most importantly, your true self will emerge. And that’s good for everyone.

What the world needs...

Graphic designed by The Neat Nook.

Go try something new today and tell me about it. Comment, email or post it on Twitter, Insty or Facebook using #CreativeTipTues.

My love and cheers to you all! – Kate

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Give Parsley a Chance

Parsley

Freshly picked parsley

Parsley is one of those herbs that’s usually tossed aside. And I mean that literally. In restaurants you’ll see it perched on the edge of a pretty plate – and that’s where it stays. It’s not the star player in many recipes, and it doesn’t have an elegant fragrance like basil, oregano or thyme. So what’s it good for?

To be honest, I was pretty nonchalant about parsley until I started planting it in my garden for my pet rabbit, Rosie. She looooves parsley, but only when it’s fresh. She’s a bit of a princess that way. So I always include a little patch in my garden for her.

Rosie the Rabbit

Meet Rosie the Rabbit! Pets deserve an organized and creative life, too. So you’ll see Rosie featured in posts from time-to-time.

Get creative in the kitchen

One day I casually tossed a few springs of parsley in my salad and loved its punch. It has such a fresh taste with hints of lemon and pepper. The next thing I knew, I was sneaking it into soups and stews. It’s native to the Mediterranean, but can be used in all kinds of dishes.

Here are some recipe ideas from beautiful Sunset Magazine. This article features 11 ways to cook with fresh parsley.

parsley-ravioli-with-brown-butter-sauce

Parsley Ravioli with Brown Butter Sauce from Sunset Magazine. A plateful of yum.

Get healthy

Come to find out, parsley is really good for you. It’s rich in all kind of vitamins: A, B1, B3, C, and K. That’s a nice portion of the vitamin alphabet. It also keeps your immune system strong and encourages digestion. No wonder so many chefs nudge it onto our plates.

Some people even use it for medicinal purposes. A few of the more interesting options I’ve read include:

  • Reducing hair loss by massaging parsley essential oil into the scalp.
  • Relieving joint pain by eating parsley daily.
  • Treating insect bites with the juices squeezed from the leaves.

Grow your own

If I’ve piqued your interest, why not grow your own? It’s a cool-weather-lovin’ kind of herb, so right now is a great time to plant. Here’s a helpful guide from Gardening Know How.

As a tip, flat leaf parsley has a little better flavor for cooking than its curly cousin. You’ll want to keep that in mind when buying seeds or plants from the nursery. By the way, I’m a huge fan of nurseries that carry the Monrovia brand. They always have quality plants.

I hope you’ll give parsley a chance. Comment below or email me your favorite way to enjoy this healthy herb!

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A Happy Halloween Meal

Halloween MenuThe formula for concocting a perfect Halloween dinner is “simple + delicious.” For this reason, using your crockpot is a must. Just fill it with tasty treasures before you head out to work, and you’ll come home to a magically finished meal.

This is especially helpful when you have a house full of eager trick-or-treaters who want to eat, dress and run. Everyone can have a good meal before they head out. When they return, second helpings are warm and ready!

I also like recipes I can prepare ahead of time, so this post is full of ideas for the simplest, happiest Halloween meal.

The Line Up

  • Spooky Taco Soup
  • Ghoulicious Guac with Bat Chips
  • Pumpkin Veggie Dippers
  • Sopapilla Pumpkin Cheesecake
  • Fanta-lanterns

Quick tip: To add seasonal flair, take everyday recipes and get creative with their names – like Spooky Taco Soup. It’s taco soup with a cute name and served in bowls that look like little ghosts for instant Halloween cred.

Speaking of bowls, I’m a huge fan of paper plates and other disposables on nights like Halloween. Who wants to spend this special night hovering over the kitchen sink? I’ll give you some easy and creative serving ideas with each recipe below.

Spooky Taco Soup (click for recipe)

This version from Allrecipes.com is a good one. I also like how their site allows you to adjust the servings so you can easily scale the recipe.

Spooky Bowl

Ready for my soup now.

To make the soup “spooky”, hot-glue googly eyes to the sides of paper or plastic soup bowls.

Ghoulicious Guac (click for recipe)

Homemade guacamole is the perfect partner for a cup of taco soup. I don’t know many variations of guac, so you might already have your own go-to recipe. If not, here’s a great one from SimplyRecipes. You’ll want to prepare this right before serving so it’s fresh and delicious.

Now, to make the dip Ghoulicious (see what I did there?), serve it with Bat Chips!

Bat Chips

A fresh batch of bats ready for the oven!

All you need is a bat-shaped cookie cutter, a package of flour tortillas, olive oil, Kosher salt and black pepper.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Cut each tortilla with your cookie cutter. Place your bats in a single layer on a sheet pan and sprinkle lightly with olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake for about 10 minutes, until crisp, turning once. You can make these a day or two ahead of Halloween and store them in an airtight container.

Pumpkin Veggie Dippers (click for recipe)

pumpkin platter

Such a happy pumpkin.

This is a basic veggie platter featuring carrots, sliced cucumbers, broccoli and Ranch dip. Simply arrange the vegetables in the form of a pumpkin on a large platter. Serve the Ranch dressing in small bowls or ramekins to create the eyes and nose. It’s super easy and kid friendly.

Sopapilla Pumpkin Cheesecake (click for recipe)

Why not top off the night with a slice of this decadent dessert? When I saw this recipe, I was like, “You had me at sopapilla. And pumpkin. And cheesecake.” I love this recipe from Six Sisters’ Stuff. They have tons of great recipes. Be sure to check them out!

You can cut these into squares and serve on a pretty orange or black platter. Or eat straight from the pan. That’s how I roll with these beauties.

Fanta-lanterns

Fanta-lantern

Cheers!

This is a cute way to dress up your drinks. I made silly jack-o-lantern patterns out of black construction paper, cut them out and used double-sided tape to adhere to the sides of clear plastic cups. Serve fizzy, orange Fanta in these adorable cups for instant Halloween cheers.

Planning Checklist: Day(s) Before

  • Grocery store run. Here’s A Happy Halloween Meal Grocery List you can download.
  • Create the soup bowls and cups
  • Bake the bat chips
  • Make the cheesecake
  • Prep the vegetable platter
  • Brown the meat for the soup

Planning Checklist: The Day of

  • Fill your crockpot in the morning
  • Make the guac just before serving
  • Set out your food and serving pieces
  • Enjoy the night

Happy Halloweeating!

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Three Steps to Organizing Your Jewels

IMG_4159Organizing your bracelets and baubles probably lands next to organizing your sock drawer on your priority list – especially if you’re a working mom like me. I totally get it. What I’ve recently discovered is that the smallest inconveniences, such as missing earrings or tangled necklaces, can cause serious morning madness when you’re getting ready.

I put together three simple steps to getting your jewels all jazzed. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Your jewelry
  • A space for sorting
  • 2 small boxes (recycled shoe boxes are perfect)
  • Sticky notes for labeling
  • Soft cloth and jewelry cleaner
  • Jewelry containers or boxes

Step 1: Sort

When it comes to sorting, I’m a huge fan of the dump and dig method. I like to lay it all out there, literally, to see what you’re working with. I like to use my bed, since it’s a nice soft space. You can also use a large bath towel on a counter. Once you dump, quickly dig and sort your things into piles labeled with sticky notes:

  • Keep
  • Fix
  • Rid
  • Trash

The keepers are the things you love and don’t need any extra TLC. I like to sub-sort this pile by color to make it easier to decide what I should keep or send to the rid pile. The fixer-uppers are the items you love, but they might be missing an earring back or a glittery bead. The rid pile is for items you really don’t wear, but they still look nice. You can choose to donate, sell, re-gift or reuse in your next “crafternoon” project. The trash pile is for hopeless items that simply need to hit the can once and for all.

Step 2: Scrub

Once you’ve established your piles, go ahead and dump your trash pile. Put your fixer-uppers into a box and label for later attention. Review your rid pile and polish up anything you want to sell or donate. If you want to re-gift anything, go ahead and label the item for the person you have in mind. Put these items into your second box. Now for the good stuff…look at all of your beautiful keepers! Take time to scrub and polish, as needed. Admire, as you wish.

Step 3: Store

It’s time to store all of your gems in style. When deciding on the type of storage, think about your space. For example do you have plenty of counter space, or do you need something to tuck in a drawer or hang in your closet? Find storage options that will fit your space and style. For more great tips and storage ideas, check out this video from PopsugarTV.

Once you’re finished, stand back and admire your work. That’s always my favorite part.

Have a creative day! What jewelry tips do you have to share?

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Manage the Morning Madness

Processed with VSCOcam with s5 presetThere have been mornings in my house what would rival the madness of a Black Friday sale. Kids are tired and fussy, breakfast is burning in the toaster, I can’t find my favorite pair of earrings, and there’s less than 10 minutes before the final school bell rings. I never intend for our mornings to get so out of hand, yet simple missteps can send all of us spiraling into chaos.

I started doing a few things to tame the madness and thought they were worth sharing. Now, these might sound like no-brainers, but I’ve learned not to take any ideas for granted. I’ve also discovered that if you try this for 66 days, which is the magic number for forming a new habit, you’ll find yourself with enough time to actually relax on the porch with a cup of coffee. Heaven.

Now, if you only take away one tip from this post, it’s this: the secret to a sane morning is to start the night before.

Prep the kids

Select outfits the night before and get them approved. A lesson I’ve learned at work is that collaboration is key. Same rule applies with kids. Get them to help pick out and approve their outfit so you don’t land yourself back in a battle over purple legging or pajama pants with minutes left to “go time”.

Plan the food

Not only plan and pack lunches for the next day, but also think about breakfast. Ask your kids what they’d like to eat and be sure you have enough milk, eggs or cereal to go around. If not, send hubby to the store. Like how I delegated, there?

Get to bed

I loooove to sleep. I’m one of those people who has to have 8 hours of sleep, and if you gave me 10, I’d be exponentially happier. Admittedly, my tendency is to stay up late and sleep in. I’ve learned, though, that if I get to bed no later than 10pm, it’s so much easier to wake up on time the next day. In fact, in the few days I’ve shifted my sleep times I’ve discovered early morning is the most peaceful time in our house. I’ve also discovered sunrises. I mean, have you seen one lately? So beautiful. I’m not suggesting you wake up at 4am. Even if you wake up 20 minutes earlier than anyone else in the house, those precious minutes provide plenty of time for you to set your intention for the day and start off on the right foot – and with matching shoes.

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