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Archive for the ‘Creativity’ Category

July 17, 2015 Edition Under silhouettes of tree canopies and a summer sky sprinkled with shooting stars, I swim laps in the dark tranquil water of my pool. My strokes, while unrefined, transport me back and forth, during what I call my hour of peace. House lights, patio lights, and even pool lights are flicked off. Only the stars, the moon, and surrounding ambient light illuminate my way. But for the faint strains of favorite music playing in the background, the quiet rippling of water soothes the tension of busy days. Every night while I float serenely on my back and admire the view above, I thank my lucky stars for having lived another day.

#1 – Stargazing
Star Gazing Calendar Decades ago, when I moved into my current home and when ambient light from auto malls, shopping centers, and the like did not exist, my husband, my children, and I would take advantage of our steep driveway and place sleeping bags on it to stargaze. Our driveway became our amphitheater to the sky. If you enjoy stargazing, don’t miss out on exciting upcoming celestial events. Here are 3 sites that will keep you informed. For a quick preview, click on the photo above to learn about events in July and August:

Astronomy Calendar of Celestial Events
Skywatching in 2015: 9 Must-See Stargazing Events
Weekly Stargazing Tips

#2 – Wet Workouts
Although swimming under the stars is one of my favorite things to do, I also use my swimming pool to get additional exercise. Below are two great videos that show a variety of exercises you can do in a pool.
Calorie-Burning Pool Moves:

Tighten Your Abs in the Pool:

#3 – Playing With Food
Carl Warner's Incredible Foodscapes What if the water in your swimming pool were really blue jello and the trees providing you that lovely little bit of shade were made of parsley and ginger root? Carl Warner, a London-based photographer creates incredible landscapes using food. In his world, loaves of bread create mountains, celery stalks form a verdant forest, and romanesco becomes undersea coral. The ingredients in these detailed “foodscapes” don’t go to waste either. He or his crew take the food home and eat it or they donate it to a homeless shelter.

#4 – Naturally-Flavored Water
10 Natural Flavored Waters Why drink plain water when you can sip refreshing naturally-flavored water? Check out the tantalizing combinations in 10 Natural Flavored Water Recipes.

#5 – Lose to Find
Swimming Inspiration

Now go and spread joy!

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July 10, 2015 Edition Buster dashes through the opened front door, runs past the kitchen filled with delicious aromas, and heads straight to the back door. He longingly stares through the glass panes of the door and then begins to bark loudly. Buster wants to go swimming. No gentle licks of hello or nudges to be petted; he is a dog on a mission. Playing fetch with his water bumper in the pool brings him so much joy. Dogs appreciate the simple things in life. We should take lessons from them.

#1 – Simply Genius
This cooking technique found on GoodHomeDIY is simply genius. The onion ring not only holds the egg in a round-shape while cooking, but it also imparts additional flavor. Round-Shaped Eggs

#2 – Must Read
Looking for some good books to read? It can be as simple as checking out Buzzfeed’s list of 53 Books You Won’t Be Able To Put Down. Must Read Reading List

#3 – Box Templates
Making your own boxes may not seem like a simple process, but it brings such a sense of accomplishment when you are finished and have a beautiful box perfectly suited for its contents. Take a look at the variety of box and bag templates offered for free on Template Maker. Template Maker

#4 – Look Me In The Thighs
Women's Thighs: One Word 25 brave women between the ages of 20 and 70 bared their thighs and then, using one word, described them. This is not a desirable or pleasant task for most women, but the descriptions by these women are simply honest and revealing. Read 25 Women Bare Their Gloriously Unretouched Thighs — And Describe Them In One Word and immediately start appreciating your thighs more.

#5 – The Simple Life
To find the universal elements enough; to find the air and the water exhilarating; to be refreshed by a morning walk or an evening saunter . . . to be thrilled by the stars at night; to be elated over a bird’s nest or a wildflower in spring — these are some of the rewards of the simple life. ~John Burroughs

Now go and spread joy!

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DIY Pincushion: Repurposing Jars “What are you doing with all of the baby food jars, Mom?” my daughter asked as she eyed the boxes of empty jars. “Oh, I’m saving them for projects.” Catching the look that my daughter and husband exchanged, I added, “It won’t be long before Charlotte moves on from eating commercial baby food, so I have to collect the jars while the collecting is good.” I plan on repurposing the jars for group activity projects throughout the year, so I’ll need a lot of them. These cute little pincushions are just the beginning. Next, I’ll make clever photo jars and then some petite terrariums. Oh, and how about fall votive holders and winter snow globes and Valentine’s Day party favors . . . .

Baby Food Jar Pincushion
As seen on CraftPudding

SUPPLIES
DIY pin cushion supplies
1. Baby food jar
2. Hot glue gun
3. Needle and thread
4. Polyfill stuffing or batting
5. Fabric, cut into a 5-inch circle
6. Scissors
7. Ribbon, enough length to go around the perimeter of the jar lid and wide enough to cover both the lid and the bottom part of the pincushion

DIRECTIONS
1. Cut a length of thread, long enough to stitch around the outer edge of the fabric circle. Make a knot at the end of the thread. Make basting stitches (straight stitches, evenly spaced) around the entire perimeter of the fabric circle. At the end of the stitches, don’t knot the thread or cut it off. You will need to pull this thread to gather the fabric. To make it easier for you to see the stitching, I’ve flipped the fabric over to the wrong side.DIY PIn Cushion Stitch

2. Plug in your glue gun to heat it up.

3. Place the polyfill stuffing in the center of the fabric circle. Pull the thread to gather the fabric until very little of the filling can be seen and it looks like a “puff.”DIY Pin Cushion Poof

4. Adjust the filling in the puff, so that it is evenly distributed. If it is to your satisfaction, go ahead and tie a knot in the thread and snip off the extra length.

5. Apply glue to the top of the cap, making sure to apply some just inside the edge of the cap. If too much glue is applied directly to the edge, it will slop over onto the side (see the big mess I made in the photo). Place the fabric puff stitch-side down on the glue, making sure it is centered on the lid. Apply even pressure on the puff until the glue has hardened. DIY Pin Cushion Glue

6. Finally, working small sections at a time, apply small dots of hot glue around the lid and then press the ribbon onto the glue. The ribbon should be covering both the lid and the bottom of the puff. For a neat finish, cut the ribbon about 1/4-inch longer than necessary and fold this amount back towards the jar. Glue it down, overlapping the previously glue-downed ribbon. DIY Pin Cushion Empty

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. Although these small jars make cute little pin cushions, any size jar can be used for this project. Just remember to adjust the diameter of the fabric circle and the amount of stuffing to accommodate the change in the size of the lid.

2. I traced around a 5-inch-diameter bowl to get the correct circle size.

3. As mentioned before, these would make cute party favors. Fill the jars with anything you like.

Enjoy!

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July 3, 2015 Edition Baby Charlotte is going swimming. Fun in the sun and water involves planning and responsibility. Gone are the days when we could just grab a towel and go. Experience provides us with the “why and when” and technology provides us with the “what and how.” Swimsuit? Check. Hat? Check. Sunscreen? Check. Rash guard? Check. Sunglasses? Check. Reusable swim diaper? Absolutely! Enjoy cooling off at the pool, lake, river, or ocean, but be responsible for yourself and the Earth.

#1 – How Long Until It’s Gone?
How Long Until It's Gone The pollution of our precious water goes on and on. Take a look at the infographic (click on the image above to enlarge it to a readable size) and see how long it takes certain objects to decompose in water. The lifespan of some of the items may shock you. The next time you take a cruise or relax at a beach or on a boat, please think twice about leaving garbage in the water.

#2 – Water Wall
DIY Water Wall During the drought here in California, it’s hard to condone any of the usual ways that kids play with water to cool off in the summer. Building a water wall is a clever way that allows children to play with water, while recycling it.

#3 – Plastic Free July
Plastic Free July I have a friend who reuses plastic takeout boxes. She carries them in her car for when the need arises. When she dines out, she just carries one in a bag into the restaurant. What a brilliant way to cut down on plastic garbage and help planet Earth. It’s the collective impact of all the little things we do that counts. On that note, can you rise to the challenge of refusing to use a single-use plastic item during the month of July? The website for the movement Plastic Free July states that its goal is “to raise awareness of the amount of single-use disposable plastic in our lives and challenges people to do something about it. You can sign up for a day, a week or the whole month and try to refuse ALL single-use plastic or try the TOP 4: plastic bags, water bottles, takeaway coffee cups and straws.”

#4 – Earth, the Water Planet
Watching this brief video will make you feel gratitude and respect for the gift of water on our beautiful planet.

#5 – Without Love and Water
“Thousands have lived without love, not one without water.”
W. H. Auden

Now go and spread joy!

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June 19, 2015 Edition The journey my dad took as a young boy from China to the United States amazes me every time I think about it. Consider his story of leaving his mother and walking barefoot to a neighboring village to catch a junk, of sailing down a pirate-infested river, of staying alone in Hong Kong while waiting to catch a steamer ship that would take him one step closer to his father, and of enduring the prison-like internment at Angel Island. I often wonder if I would have had the courage to do what he did. The experiences of leaving his mother and of the traumatic journey are forever etched in his soul. They influence him everyday of his life. They molded him into a determined, hard-working man of integrity and, more importantly, a loving husband, father, brother, and loyal friend. Happy Father’s Day, Dad!

#1 – Sacrifices
I cried while watching this video, because I could relate to the sacrifices identified. They are similar, if not identical, to the ones my parents and my grandparents made in order for their children’s lives to be better than their own. We should remember and be grateful everyday for all the sacrifices made for us, and not just on Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, Veteran’s Day, or Memorial Day.

#2 – Camping Out In Style
Amazing Camping Trailer Because my parents worked just about everyday of the week, camping didn’t fit into our family’s schedule. That’s not to say we didn’t own camping supplies or enjoy the great outdoors. If we had a camper like the one in When Their Trailer Transforms Into a House . . . , camping out might have been more of a priority!

#3 – Two Kinds of People
Clever Illustrations Reveal the Two Kinds of People There Are in the World I laughed when I viewed the article, Clever Illustrations Reveal the Two Kinds of People There Are in the World, because it reminded me of some of the differences between me and my husband. He sets multiple annoying alarms on his digital watch and he bends back pages in books to mark his place. I, on the other hand, rarely set an alarm (because his alarms wake me up), wear a traditional dial watch, and would never dream of defacing a book. What kind of person are you?

#4 – Ways to Repurpose Bottles!
23 Ways to Repurpose Plastic Bottles I grew up in my parents’ grocery store. Literally. My sister and I played hide and seek in the warehouse, scaling tall stacks of cardboard boxes. We also helped sort coupons and soda pop bottles, while our parents worked. Back in the day, soda pop bottles were made of glass. These days, as we all know, most are made of plastic, a substance with which the world has a love-hate relationship. In an effort to find ways to repurpose plastic bottles, here are 23 Insanely Creative Ways to Recycle Plastic Bottles Into DIY Projects.

#5 – Five for Fathers
“My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person, he believed in me.”
Jim Valvano

“My father didn’t tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it.”
Clarence Budington Kelland

“I decided in my life that I would do nothing that did not reflect positively on my father’s life.”
Sidney Poitier

“In our house, Mother’s Day is every day. Father’s Day, too. In our house, parents count. They do important work and that work matters. One day just doesn’t cut for us.”
Margaret Heffernan

“Son, brother, father, lover, friend. There is room in the heart for all the affections, as there is room in heaven for all the stars.”
Victor Hugo

Happy Father’s Day to all the deserving fathers out there!

Now go and spread joy!

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June 12, 2015 Edition Rotti doesn’t dwell on his disability. In fact, he’s a pretty darn happy guy. Despite the fact that he has a disease that caused his hind legs to become lame, his infectious joyful demeanor remains constant. Rotti runs on all fours now and the only thing that would make him happier would be for someone to adopt him.

#1 – A Home For Rotti
Rotti Needs a Home Rotti is a super cute and loveable 4½ year-old male tri-color Welsh Corgi with IVDD who is in need of a “furever” home. Rotti had back surgery and is currently being fostered by my oldest son. Being an energetic dog, Rotti’s disability never slows him down or prevents him from enjoying all the things that dogs love. Rotti recently received a set of “wheels” to help strengthen his muscles and to help improve his mobility. After watching video clips of him running with the aid of his cart, all I could do was smile and say, “Run Rotti, run!” If you are interested in learning more about Rotti, check out these links:

The Adventures of Super Rotti
Dogs of Instagram
The Daily Corgi

Rotti Needs a Family and Home And, even better, if you’re interested in adopting this adorable and affectionate dog, contact Queen’s Best Stumpy Dog Rescue.

#2 – Enabling the Future
Enabling the Future Last month, one of my friends attended the 2015 Maker Fair and came across a booth sponsored by Enabling the Future. She learned that this organization solicits volunteers from around the world to use their 3-D printers to fabricate mechanical hands for children in need. With Rotti in mind, my friend asked the representatives if they ever made prostheses for dogs. They had not, but thought it could be possible. She brought me back some literature to read. I found the organization’s website to be very inspirational. Here is a segment from its “About” page:

What originally started out as a couple of guys who created something to help one child in need . . . has grown into a world wide movement of tinkerers, engineers, 3D print enthusiasts, occupational therapists, university professors, designers, parents, families, artists, students, teachers and people who just want to make a difference.

They are coming together to create, innovate, re-design and give a “Helping hand” to those that need it – whether it is helping to print parts for them, creating a completed device for them or simply helping to guide them as they build one themselves.

There are people around the Globe – 3d printing fingers and hands for children they will never meet, classes of high school students who are making hands for people in their local communities, hundreds of Scout troops working together to assemble hands for children in underserved areas around the globe, a group of people that are risking their lives to get these devices onto people in 3rd World countries and new stories every day of parents working with their children to make a hand together.

If this project interests you and you want to give someone a “helping hand” check out the link above.

#3 – Who’s Disabled?
The Amazing Art of Disabled Artists Could you be an artist, if you didn’t have arms or eyes? Looking through the artwork in The Amazing Art of Disabled Artists, I realized that if a person is an artist, he will always be an artist, no matter what his circumstance. I am blessed with four limbs and eyesight, but never in a million years could I ever paint or sculpt anything as incredible as the work of these artists.

#4 – Touching Two Lives
Soldier's Best Friend If the dog is man’s best friend, then the pairing of a shelter dog with a wounded veteran makes for the most compelling bond imaginable. Assisting veterans and combatting pet overpopulation is the mission of Soldier’s Best Friend, a non-profit corporation. Its work focuses on “touching two lives at once.”

#5 – Are You Disabled?
“The only disability in life is a bad attitude.”
Scott Hamilton

Now go and spread joy!

P.S. Remember Duke, the Corgi-Dachsund-Jack Russell-mix dog I wrote about back in March? Well, I’m happy to report that someone adopted him!

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Planting succulents A centerpiece using teacups and terrarium-sized plants gives my dining room a light and whimsical feel. So, why stop there? Teacup Floral CenterpieceRecently, I came across some hand-painted rice bowls and teacups that belonged to my grandmother. Noticing that a rice bowl and a teacup each sported cracks, I decided they would make perfect containers for succulents, my new obsession. Sorry Grandma, but it’s a great way to repurpose unusable china. I think my new little planters are pretty darn cute, if I do say so myself. Planting Succulents in Vintage China

SUPPLIES
Containers: teacups, bowls, ceramic pots, etc.
Succulent cuttings or small potted succulents, proportionate to the size of the container.
Lightweight potting mix for cacti and succulents or a 1:1 ratio of high quality potting soil and Perlite
Aquarium gravel or small pebbles

DIRECTIONS
1. If the container you are using does not have drainage holes, pour a good layer of gravel in the bottom of it to enhance drainage.

2. Fill the container with potting soil to within 1/2″ from the top edge, allowing enough space to plant the cuttings without the soil overflowing.

3. Plant the largest specimen first and then working your way down size-wise, fill in the remaining areas. Remember to balance your arrangement by height, shape, texture, and color.

4. Top dress with aquarium gravel or pebbles. This prevents the Perlite from floating away, helps the cuttings stay in place, and keeps moisture away from the base of the plants.

Enjoy!

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