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Archive for the ‘Creativity’ Category

September 4, 2015 EditionSucculents don’t suck. They just suffer from a lack of appreciation. However, all that is changing. With drought conditions existing in the United States, versatile succulents are rising in popularity. Sporting a wide range of colors, textures, shapes, and sizes, succulents add striking beauty to gardens. In an effort to cut back on water usage, I replaced almost all of my potted plants with succulents and I am so happy that I did. Succulents also produce spectacular flowers, like the trumpet-shaped one above that graces my front porch.

#1 – Crayon Initiative
Saving Crayons: Crayon Initiative While celebrating his birthday at a restaurant, Brian Ware learned that the crayons given to his children to occupy themselves were discarded after use. This led to the formation of the Crayon Initiative. Mr. Ware collects used crayons from schools and restaurants, melts them down, remolds them, and distributes them to hospitals throughout California for young patients to use. Says Mr. Ware, “If these crayons give them an escape from that hospital room for ten minutes, we did our job.”

#2 – Where Magic Happens
Visiting Illustrators' Studios A while back, when I chaired Author Day programs for my children’s schools, my family had the privilege of visiting the studio of Ruth Heller, children’s book author and illustrator. That is where magic happened, where her books came to life. Photographer Jake Green visited the studios of well-known illustrators of children’s books. Here’s a peek at some of his notes and photos from his visits in Where Magic Happens: Children’s Illustrators Open Up Their Studios.

#3 – Who’s the Cutest?
Who's the Cutest? Zoologists and animal experts from around the world took to Twitter to compete in a “cute-off” to determine which animals are scientifically the cutest. To see photos of some of the entrants, check out Scientists On Twitter Agree: These Are The Cutest Animals That Exist .

#4 – Propagating Succulents
Propagating Succulents Whether you plant succulents in the ground or in pots, you will need to keep them in shape. Many varieties can get “leggy” and need to be pruned back. Almost every part of a succulent can be used in propagation, so why not propagate while pruning? Needles + Leaves has an great tutorial on Propagating Succulents. You’ll be amazed at how easy the process is and how many plants you can get from one “mother” plant.

#5 – To Plant a Garden
“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.”
Audrey Hepburn

Now go and spread joy!

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Homemade Bubble soultion and Bubble Wands Yipee! Charlotte’s coming over and we’re going to have some bubble fun. I’ve got everything all set: homemade bubble solution that creates super-duper large bubbles, homemade bubble-making devices, and some gadgets from my kitchen with which to experiment. Who do you think is going to have more fun playing with bubbles, little Charlotte or me?

Basic Bubble Solution
Recipe from the Unbelievable Bubble Book by John Cassidy

INGREDIENTS
Bubble Solution
1 clean container/pail
1 cup Joy or Dawn dish detergent (no substitutions)
3 to 4 tablespoons glycerin (can be purchased at a drugstore)
10 cups clean, cold water (up to 50% more on dry days)

DIRECTIONS
1. Measure 10 cups of water into the pail.

2. Add 1 cup Joy or Dawn dish soap.

3. Add glycerin. In most atmospheres, it makes the bubbles more durable by reducing evaporation.

4. Stir, but not too much. You don’t want froth on the top because it tends to break the bubbles. If you get any, skim it off with your hand.

5. Gather or make any wand materials.

6. Pour bubble solution into non-breakable shallow containers such as pie pans, baking pans, dish pans, depending on the size of your bubble wands.

7. Select a wand, dip it in solution, and let excess solution drip off.

Possible Bubble Wands
Homemade Bubble Wands
1. Straws and String: thread a string through two straws and tie a knot at the ends. Move the knot until it is hidden inside one of the straws.

2. Water Bottle and Sock: cut the bottom of the bottle off. Place a sock over the cut edge and secure with a rubber band.

3. Assorted Cans: cut the tops and bottoms cut off. Make sure there are no sharp edges. If there are, you can either tape the edges with duct tape or file/sand them off.

3. 2-liter Soda Bottles: cut bottom cut off and tape bottom edge if there are any sharp jagged edges.

4. Wire Coat Hangers: bend them and form them into different shapes. I bent the handle up at a 90 degree angle to make it easier to dip.

5. Pipe Cleaners: bend them into different shapes. These are a little messy to use, since the fibers pickup a lot of excess solution.

6. Kitchen Colanders and Sieves

7. Strawberry Baskets

8. Hula Hoop: for BIG-time fun, fill a wading pool with an inch or two of solution and use a hula hoop as a wand. An alternative to this is to have the child carefully step into the pool in the middle of the hula hoop. Very slowly lift the hula hoop up from the solution, until the child is in the middle of the bubble.

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. Safety first: bubble activities should always be supervised. Bubble solution is slick and slippery. If any bubble solution gets on the floor, make sure that it does not become a slipping hazard.

2. Make sure that any solution is rinsed off of children’s hands before they touch their face, particularly their eyes.

3. Check for any sharp edges on any homemade wands or kitchen gadgets.

4. The sky’s the limit when it comes to bubble fun. Use your imagination.

Homemade Bubble soultion and Bubble Wands

Have fun!

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August 28, 2015 Edition Playfully, I stick a hair curler in my granddaughter’s hair. Charlotte innocently strikes a quick girly-girl pose for me and then pulls the curler out of her hair and goes about her busy job of playing. Watching her play, I marvel at the curiosity that babies have and at the wonder and excitement that they exude over the simplest of things. This observation makes me ponder, “What happens to these qualities as we age?”

#1 – Just One Question
“If you could change one thing about your body what would it be?” Responses to that question were captured in this short video and they reveal how many of us become more self-conscious as we age. If you were asked this question, what would your answer be?

#2 – Never Too Old for Blocks
Life-Size Legos: EverBlocks Building System When my children were young, they would spend endless hours playing with Lego building blocks. Piles of these small blocks would be strewn all over the floor and my children would create imaginative worlds of their own. Now, thanks to Arnon Rosan, adults can still “play” with interlocking blocks. EverBlocks, life-size blocks similar to Legos, can be used to build furniture, room dividers, modular buildings, and even emergency shelters. These blocks prove that you are never too old to play with blocks and, like when you were a child, you are only limited by your imagination.

#3 – Too Close
Extreme Close-Ups No matter how often I vacuum my carpet, Charlotte always finds a tiny particle of debris on it. Babies have keen eyes, but not as keen as artist Pyanek’s camera lens. For his project Amazing Worlds Within Our World, he photographed everyday items extremely close-up. You’ll never look at a sponge the same way again.

#4 – Ukes of Great Btitain
Every night, before Charlotte’s parents pick her up, my husband plays the ukulele and we have a little sing-a-long with her. She laughs, dances, and “sings” to her favorite songs. There’s no doubt about it, the ukulele is a fun and happy-sounding instrument. Enjoy this humorous rendition of the Theme from Shaft, as performed by the talented Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain.

#5 – Respect the Child
“We not only need to have a deep respect for children; but also a deep respect for the child in everyone.”
C. JoyBell C.

Now go and spread joy!

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August 14, 2015 Edition Resembling a drunk, my granddaughter Charlotte teeters back and forth on unsteady legs as she walks towards me. Deciding to carry the largest and heaviest toy in the room, she makes frequent balance adjustments as she plows her way through a minefield of toys on the floor. I smile at the scrunched-up-nose grin on her face; that happy grin appears during moments when she is most proud of herself. “Slow down little one,” I say to her, not wanting her to fall, but, in a grander sense, not wanting her to grow up too fast. Although she’s not quite a year old, it’s hard for me to remember what life was like before this precious bundle of joy blessed it.

#1 – Stop Complaining!
How to Complain Less Some days I watch Charlotte for 15 hours straight, but I’m not complaining. I consider myself lucky that I’m physically able to do it and that my son and daughter-in-law trust me enough to care for their child. The act of complaining zaps the joy out of life, so stop complaining or at least do it less frequently. Read What It’s Like To Go Without Complaining For a Month and learn a few tips on how to complain less.

#2 – Coloring Stress Away
25 Free Coloring Pages Back in the “good ol’ days” before the invention of televisions, computers, and cell phones, kids would entertain themselves by coloring in their favorite coloring books. Remember the happy feeling you had after buying a new box of crayons and a new coloring book? Regain that happy and carefree feeling of being lost in art as you color away your day’s stress. Check out The Country Chic Cottage’s list of free coloring pages. Coloring is not just for kids!

#3 – Salads in a Jar
20 Recipes for Salads in a Jar Vacations are over. It’s back to school or back to work we go. And that usually means back to routines. Break the monotony of bag lunches by taking out unappetizing sandwiches and substituting tantalizing salads. Better yet, make the salads ahead of time in a jar and the next morning grab a jar and go. These 20 Mason Jar Salads to Pack for Lunch will give you a few recipe ideas for next week.

#4 – Admiring Glass
#0 Most Amazing Glass Artists Alive Today One would think that glass is a cold and lifeless medium, but not in the hands of these 30 Most Amazing Glass Artists Alive Today. In their hands molten glass solidifies to become expressions of emotions and beauty. Ikuta Niyoko, one of the artists featured in the article, says this of her work, “My motifs are derived from feelings of gentleness and harshness, fear, limitless expansion experienced through contact with nature, images from music, ethnic conflict, the heart affected by joy and anger, and prayer.”

#5 – Be Surprised
“We get a limited number of milestones in life, but we never run out of opportunities to be surprised by joy.”
Connie Schultz

Now go and spread joy!

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August 7, 2015 Edition It had to be “UKE;” it had to be “UKE.”
I wandered around and finally found the somebody who
Could make me be true, could make be blue,
And even be glad, just to be sad, thinking of you . . .

Because two colorful ukuleles arrived the day of my 38th wedding anniversary, I took a little liberty with the lyrics from the song “It Had to Be You.” For my husband and me, the thrill of being married hasn’t worn off, nor has the fun of playing ukuleles. Despite being novice ukulele players, we enjoy the time we spend together strumming and singing, so much that we recently purchased a pair of waterproof soprano-sized ones. Beach, lake, swimming pool, rainforest, or shower – there’s no stopping us now! My kids should be scared.

#1 – Make It and Play It
DIY Musical Instruments Whenever I take my ukulele out of its case, my baby granddaughter becomes very excited. Although, I look forward to making some of these musical instruments with her, I question why kids are the only ones allowed to be silly and wildly creative? Last week some of my friends and I discussed the idea of letting loose and holding adult creative play-days. Check out 42 Splendidly Creative Homemade Musical Instruments and feel your inner child come to the surface.

#2 – Tree Houses
Houses Built Around Trees This series of photographs depicts ways in which buildings were designed around existing trees. How I would love to relax and strum in some of these homes!

#3 – Proverbs
Inspiring African Proverbs Wise proverbs and bold graphics make these 11 Inspiring African Proverbs standout.

#4 – 100 Ways to Get to 100
100 Wonderful Ways to Live to 100 Whether you’re on the younger or older side of life, there is no time like the present to start incorporating some of the 100 Wonderful Ways to Live to 100 into your life. Most likely, you can already check off many of them, but there is always the possibility to do more. By the way, ukulele playing falls under number 86 – “Find the healthy hobbies that make you light up.”

#5 – The Food of Love
“If music be the food of love, play on.”
William Shakespeare

Now go and spread joy!

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July 31, 2015 Edition Shapes, curves, and lines make up our world, but we often don’t notice or acknowledge them. Going through life on autopilot or in a state of distraction causes many of us to miss out on seeing some of the truth of what’s in front of our eyes. For example, this echeveria plant has an interesting ruffled appearance and a nice medium green color. But when using the power of black and white photography, the elements of the plant are stripped down to their essence. The dramatic shapes, curves, and lines of the plant now stand out and beg our eyes to take note. So, the next time you’re out and about, stop and look at something around you. In your mind, imagine what that item would look like if it were in black and white. You may discover that you appreciate it in a different way.

#1 – The Power of Black and White

100+ Awe-Inspiring Black & White Photographs

Berenger

The dramatic power of black and photography can be seen 100 times over in 100+ Awe Inspiring Black & White Photographs. Which photo is your favorite?

#2 – Display Those Photos
Creative Ways to Display Photos Taking photographs is one thing, but displaying them is another. If you store photographs in shoe boxes like me (bad, bad, bad idea!), get them out and and try using one of the creative ideas from Buzzfeed’s 27 Unique Photo Display Ideas That Will Bring Your Memories To Life.

#3 – Architectural Winners
The Coolest Buildings on the Planet, According to Architecture Fans Architects play with lines, shapes, and forms for structural and interesting effects. To see some incredible award-winning architectural designs from around the world check out, The Coolest New Buildings On The Planet, According to Architecture Fans.

#4 – Sweet Black and White
Chocolate Icebox Cakes Not everything in the world of black and white is austere. Take this icebox cake for instance. Layers of chocolate wafers and whipped cream, make for one sweet treat. Click here for the recipe.

#5 – Clothes or Souls?
“When you photograph people in color, you photograph their clothes. But when you photograph people in black and white, you photograph their souls!”
Ted Grant

Now go and spread joy!

 

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July 24, 2015 Edition “Stop right there! Don’t take another step!” I called out to my dad. He stopped suddenly, looked around for signs of potential danger, and then looked at me as if I’d lost my mind. “Why?” he replied impatiently. During a walk to the beach with my family, I noticed words etched into the sidewalk. As I read the words, I saw that my dad was on the verge of stepping on them. The moment was too perfect; I had to interrupt his stride. At his feet, scrawled in the concrete, were the words, “WE LOVE YOU GRAMPA.” Surrounded by his family for the weekend to celebrate his birthday, I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to capture our love for him more “concretely.”

#1 – Ageless Graffiti
Senior Citizens Learn to Graffiti According to Merriam-Webster, “writing or drawing made on a public structure without permission” is graffiti. That means the etchings in the sidewalk could be considered graffiti. Is graffiti always a bad thing? That’s not so, in sections of Portugal. In an attempt to “banish ageist stereotypes through the art of graffiti,” an urban art workshop called Lata 65 brings together senior citizens and well-known street artists. Read the article and take a look at some of the artwork that comes out of this unique creative workshop by clicking here.

#2 – The Power of One
Great Invention: Shoes That Expand Imagine buying shoes for your children that grow with your children’s feet and last for years. Kenton Lee, “a normal guy with an idea,” designed a sandal-like shoe that does exactly that. His invention The Shoe That Grows can grow 5 shoe sizes and last at least 5 years. These leather and compressed rubber shoes protect the feet of children in Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Peru, Columbia, Vietnam, and Laos and prevent the children from having to go barefoot. One person with one idea is helping children around the world.

#3 – The Hubbub About BookBub
BookBub: Free EBooks BookBub is a daily email service that finds free or discounted ebooks for its subscribers. It provides readers with opportunities to sample new authors and discover new books. Since readers can specify genres of books they are interested in, BookBub sends out emails with titles matched to readers’ preferences.

#4 – You Have Today
Interview with Tom Rath Don’t dwell on the events of yesterday and don’t fantasize about tomorrow; today and the present moment need your attention. Susan Cain shares her interview with author, researcher, and speaker Tom Rath on her blog Quiet Revolution. Mr. Rath’s philosophy of life resonates with me. Click on the link above to read the entire interview. Here’s one of my favorite quotes from it:

The broader learning for me, after battling cancer for a couple of decades, is: you have to do something today that will continue to grow after you’re gone. I may have a more constant threat to my mortality than the average person, but in reality the only thing any of us can count on with extreme certainty is that we have today to do what matters most.

#5 – A Bit of Perspective
“My granddaughter came to spend a few weeks with me, and I decided to teach her to sew. After I had gone through a lengthy explanation of how to thread the machine, she stepped back, put her hands on her hips, and said in disbelief, “You mean you can do all that, but you can’t play my Game Boy?”
Author Unknown

Now go and spread joy!

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