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Tuesday's Thoughts The words return, recover, and regroup define Mondays. Return to routines and schedules. Recover some semblance of order. Regroup by checking calendars, prioritizing, and taking inventory. I’m not a big fan of Mondays.

On Tuesdays, however, I allow myself to breathe. I write and let my mind stretch and my thoughts wander. I call these my Tuesday’s Thoughts. Starting today, I will throw some of these thoughts into the mix of my usual Tuesday content of food and crafts. Consider Tuesday’s Thoughts as food for thought. I am pleased to present this inaugural edition.

Today, I’m going to teach an art class at the Wellspring Women’s Center. The Center “nurtures the innate goodness and personal self-esteem of women and their children” and provides “all of the services in an atmosphere of hospitality with dignity and love.” Located in an impoverished area, the Center offers many services that “bolster the dignity and hope of people under duress.” I am most impressed that alongside food, counseling, wellness, and advocacy programs, it offers a free art therapy program called Art of Being: Wellness Through Creativity. Some of you may wonder, if the needs of these women are great and many, then why offer art classes? To this point, the Center states, “Creative expression is a powerful tool to cultivate the positive qualities of mindfulness and insight. Being present in our lives can help us to tap into our inner strength and wisdom and increase our feelings of well-being and joy.” Even though these women’s lives may be difficult, they are learning through art to see the world differently, to express themselves without fear and judgment, and to share their journeys. They are learning that who they are is more than where they live.

Tuesday’s Thoughts: Take a moment for yourself and feed your soul. Let loose your creativity. Be present in the moment. Do not judge or critique your creativity, because, if you do, you negate the joy you felt while freely expressing yourself.

Now go and spread joy!

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Ghost Ranch Flowers They may look like weeds to you, but don’t step on the vegetation. Please stay on the pathways. We’ve had a long drought here, and the poor little plants are doing everything they can to survive. See how the soil looks crusty? That crust protects the plants and if you step on the crust and break it, you’re inviting a dust storm. These words of advice, reiterated by more than one guide during a visit to the Southwest, motivated me to step up my water conservation and to appreciate the gifts that water brings.

#1 – Saving Water
Save Water While I was at a social gathering the other day, the conversation turned to ways to save water. Conserving water needs to become a way of life for all of us, and not just during a drought. Check out these 100+ Ways To Conserve and see if there aren’t a few more ways you can incorporate water conservation into your life.

#2 – Assessing the Flow
Go with The Flow Do you have days when you feel like you’re swimming upstream or you’re drowning in the details of life or you’re in the wrong pond altogether? Come up for air and take a deep breath. It’s time for a reassessment. From Marc and Angel Hack Life comes an inspirational piece called 16 Reasons You’re Succeeding in Life (Even If You Don’t Feel You Are). Odds are you are happier and more successful than you thought.

#3 – Water Table
Duffy London Abyss Table The London-based design company Duffy London created a mesmerizing table called the “Abyss Table.” This table is more than its stacked layers of glass and wood; it’s a “slice” of the sea.

#4 – How Would You Make Her Beautiful?
The Definition of Beauty Kansas City journalist Esther Honig sent an unretouched photo of herself across the seas to “Photoshop professionals and amateurs in 23 different countries and asked them to ‘make her beautiful.'” Her project is an interesting study of cultural interpretations of beauty.

#5 – Water, Water, Everywhere
“We never know the worth of water till the well is dry. ”
― Thomas Fuller

“Water does not resist. Water flows. When you plunge your hand into it, all you feel is a caress. Water is not a solid wall, it will not stop you. But water always goes where it wants to go, and nothing in the end can stand against it. Water is patient. Dripping water wears away a stone. Remember that, my child. Remember you are half water. If you can’t go through an obstacle, go around it. Water does.”
― Margaret Atwood, The Penelopiad

“In one drop of water are found all the secrets of all the oceans; in one aspect of You are found all the aspects of existence.”
― Khalil Gibran

Go now and spread joy!

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Homemade Potpourri When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. And if life gives you six dozen red roses, make potpourri. When the heads of my birthday roses started drooping, it was time to say goodbye to the lovely bouquet. It seemed a shame to toss them in with the green garbage when only the outer petals were dried up, so I decided to use the rose petals to make potpourri. The Queen of Hearts often said in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, “Off with their heads,” and that’s exactly what I did. I cut off the heads of the roses, removed their petals, and dried them in a microwave oven. After mixing in some aromatics, spices, and a fixative, I now have potpourri that preserves my lovely gift of roses and makes my home smell heavenly.

Drying Roses
1. Cut the rosebuds off of their stems, leaving about an inch of stem on each bud. Toss the long stems into the garbage. Gently peel off any unsightly outer petals and discard them. Decide which heads will remain intact for dried rosebuds and set them aside. IMG_4500 Rose Stem Text

2. Hold onto the bud and grasp the short end of the stem, twist it and pull out the center. Discard the center. IMG_4499 Twist Stem Text

3. Gently unfurl the blossom, separating the petals. Place petals in a microwave safe container lined with paper towels. I used a 9-inch by 13-inch glass casserole dish. IMG_4512 Unfold

4. When the dish is sparsely covered with petals, put it in the microwave for about 1 minute. Check the petals and if they still feel moist, put them back in the microwave for 30 seconds more. Continue microwaving them at 30-second intervals until petals feel dry. Transfer to a paper towel-covered wire cooling rack to cool. IMG_4546 Dried Petals Text

5. Set aside the dried petals if making potpourri or store in an airtight container for future use.
Homemade Potpourri

6. The same process is used to dry the rosebuds. Peel off unwanted outer layers of petals. Lean the rosebuds against the sides of a paper towel-lined microwavable dish. Microwave them for one minute. Check for pliability and moistness. Microwave again for one minute. Check them again. Microwave them for 30-second increments until they are sufficiently dried.

Rose and Lavender Potpourri
Recipe from The Book of the Rose by David Squire

INGREDIENTS
4 cups of dried rose petals, preferably red or deep pink as these usually have the strongest scent
1 cup whole pink or red dried rosebuds
1 cup dried lavender flowers
1/2 cup powdered orris root
1 tablespoon ground allspice
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground nutmeg
1/2 tablespoon ground cloves
Several drops of essential rose oil

DIRECTIONS
1. Combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl, sifting and mixing them well with your fingers.

2. Add drops of essential oils judiciously until the scent is strong enough.

3. Transfer into a paper bag and seal.

4. Leave in a cool dark place for six weeks to cure, shaking it occasionally.

5. Display it in shallow baskets or bowls and decorate the top with large dried rose blooms or little bundles of whole cinnamon sticks.

6. If the fragrance fades after a while, simply refresh it with a few more drops of rose essential oil.

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. I decided to keep some of the lavender flowers on their stalks for appearance. Otherwise most of the small lavender flowers will sink to the bottom of the potpourri.

2. Orris root is a common fixative in potpourri recipes. According to Save On Crafts, “The fixative absorbs and retains the volatile scented essences. Essential oils or fragrance oils are used to reinforce the natural perfumes and to boost the scent. Without adequate fixative the life goes out of potpourri very quickly.” Powdered orris root can be purchased at health or craft stores.

3. I recommend mixing the powdered components together first and then gently folding in the flowers. The essential oil is added last.

4. I used a few drops of both essential lavender oil and essential rose oil for a refreshing blend of scents.

5. I sealed the paper bag with clothespins, so that it would be easy to check the potpourri’s progress.

Enjoy!

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Poppies and Oaks Take a walk through this photo with me. What do you see? Trees? Yes, what kind of trees? Flowers? How many different colored flowers are there? Looking at the shadows, from what direction is the sun shining? How observant are you when you are out and about? When you go for a walk, do you take in the sights, the sounds, and the smells that bombard your senses or do you push the sensory inputs away? Although it’s nice to chat with friends or listen to a book or music while walking, every now and then try being fully present during a walk and be grateful for the wondrous world around you.

#1 – The Gift of the Present
20 Calming or Invigorating Mini Meditations You Can Practice Every Day Do you feel as if you operate on autopilot most of the time? The hustle and bustle of our days can carry us million of miles away from the present moment and distract us from reveling in the only moment we have for sure. Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S. wrote an article called, 20 Calming or Invigorating Mini Meditations You Can Practice Every Day. Whether you practice meditation or not, read through her list and select one of the entries to try today. You might find that, as a result, you are a kinder, more patient, and more focused person. I appreciated the entire list, but these five entries resonated with me:

Think of your mind as a swinging door. “Thoughts and feelings come in and out, like people. Be the door, not the doorman.”

When you turn on the faucet, focus on the bigger picture. “See the water flowing down from the glaciers and mountains, running deep into the earth, sustaining you and all life.”

Visualize a mountain lake with a smooth, glassy surface. A breeze sends ripples across the water. As the breeze quiets down, so do the ripples, and the water returns to being smooth. When something ruffles you, return to this visualization. “Feel the ripples and then let them settle.”

When you get home from work, every day, stand in front of your door and appreciate the moment. Rejoice in it. “Breathe in and out three times.”

As you’re trying to fall asleep, “imagine that with each breath you are melting into an ocean of light and space.”

#2 – The Bottom of the Jar
Whole Foods Condiments Do you throw away bottles or jars of ketchup, mustard, or mayonnaise when just a little bit remains in the container? The next time you’re in that situation, don’t throw it away. Try creating something new by using one of these recipes from Whole Foods. For example, did you know that you could make Caesar Dressing or Honey Mustard Marinade with just the tablespoon or two that’s normally left at the bottom?

# 3 – Discard Art
Hey, how many times do I have to tell you not to throw stuff away? Instead, use your imagination and let your inner artist come out. You could create:

Giant Fish Sculptures from Discarded Plastic Bottles
Fish Sculpture From Discarded Bottles

Dresses From Recycled Materials Money Dress: Dress ,made from recycled materials


Stacked Book Sculptures
Used Book Sculptures


Watch Part Sculptures
Watch Part Sculptures

Junk Part Portraits Junk Parts Portraits

#4 – A Letter From Dad
A Letter From a Father to His Daughter Dr. Kelly Flanigan, a therapist, wrote a inspirational and thought-provoking letter to his young daughter about relationships. Every person, not just women, should read it. Relationships are two-way streets and both parties must know their worth and must recognize the value in themselves.

#5 – Just A Moment
“Dance. Smile. Giggle. Marvel. TRUST. HOPE. LOVE. WISH. BELIEVE. Most of all, enjoy every moment of the journey, and appreciate where you are at this moment instead of always focusing on how far you have to go.”
― Mandy Hale, The Single Woman: Life, Love, and a Dash of Sass

Be in the present. Now go and spread joy!

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February 7, 2014 Edition The figure of speech “Jack of all trades, master of none” suits me to a T. It refers to a person who shows competency in many skills, but is not particularly outstanding in any one. I recently learned some of the reasons why I am this way. Last week, in an astrology class, I learned that I possess something called Cardinal Quality. The site Astrology.com states: “Individuals possessing a Cardinal Quality like to get things going. They are active, quick and ambitious. Many projects get started, thanks to Cardinal initiative, although a good deal of them are never finished. That’s because Cardinal folks are much fonder of starting things than finishing them.” Adding to that, I also learned in class, that my zodiac sign’s temperament is that of air. Astrolibrary.org says this about those who have the of element of air, “They love learning, but bore easily . . . Air signs are into ideas and people. They are communicative; they must share information, interact with others, and influence society.”

Let me share an example of the Cardinal Quality-Air Element combination: In November, I decided to knit my son an afghan for Christmas. Having only knitted scarves in the past, I don’t know why I took on a project of that magnitude. After many “do-overs” and calls to my daughter-the-knitter, I completed the project, but ultimately decided that knitting was not for me. In January, I took a crochet class and decided to make a throw for my daughter. Again, with multiple “do-overs” and a bit of ad-libbing, I completed the project. Crocheting was easier, but again not for me. To make a long story short, I yearn to learn, but I lack the temperament and interest to stick to a single subject for very long. Hopefully, I’ll have better luck in the photography class I start next week!

#1 – Are You a Creative Person?
12 Tendencies of Creative People Have you ever considered yourself a creative person? Check out the 12 Most Striking Tendencies of Creative People and see how many of these traits you share with other creatives. For better descriptions of these tendencies, read the entire article, but in a nutshell they are:

1. Are bored easily
2. Are willing to take risks
3. Don’t like rules
4. Ask “what if . . .”
5. Make lots of mistakes
6. Collaborate
7. Are generous
8. Are independent
9. Experiment
10. Motivate themselves
11. Work hard
12. Aren’t alone

#2 – Valentine’s Day Printables and Love Quotes
The best Valentine’s Day cards or gifts do not have to come from a store. Homemade cards, treats, or gifts carry more love because of the sweat equity involved. Making homemade Valentine’s Day cards and treats are a cinch, especially if you use free printables. Whether it’s finding the right words for your Valentine’s Day card or making/assembling treats for school or for the office, you’ll find some creative assistance below:
Valentine's Chalkboard Printables Valentine’s Chalkboard Printables
75 Awesome! Valentine’s Day (Free Printables)
Free Valentine’s Day Bag Toppers
Treat Bag Toppers
Love Quotes for Valentine’s Day Cards
Valentine’s Day Quotes

#3 – An Extraordinary Gift
Extraordinary Graduation Gift
Because of its inspirational message, the book Oh, the Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss makes a nice graduation gift. When one man’s daughter graduated from high school, he gave her the book and, as she opened the book to read it, he told her, “Every year, for the past 13 years, since the day you started kindergarten I’ve gotten every teacher, coach, and principal to write a little something about you inside this book.” Why am I sharing this story with you months before graduation season? This is a wonderful gift idea that obviously requires some advance planning. Even if you did not start this project at the beginning of your child’s academic career, you still have time to get your child’s teachers and coaches to write something in the book for this year!! Click here to read more about this story.

#4 – Smart As A Dog
Watch this video and fall in love with Misa, a tiny Yorkie. This little pup is not just a ball of adorable fluff. Judging by the number of tricks in her repertoire, she’s pretty darn smart, too!

#5 – Learn
“Try to learn something about everything and everything about something.”
Thomas Huxley

“I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.”
Pablo Picasso

Now Go and Spread Joy!

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Icy Leaf Heart Frost-tender plants wore coats of burlap and once-fluid water took on an other-worldly appearance. For several nights in a row, a hard frost hit my area. Like a child on Christmas morning, who runs downstairs to see what Santa Claus brought, I ran downstairs every morning of the frost to see what Mother Nature left. Dashing outside, dressed in pajamas, bathrobe, overcoat, sheepskin boots, and hat, I would survey the icy transformation of my backyard with wonder. As the sun rose higher in the sky and rays of sunlight hit my face, I knew I had no time to lose to make my frosty observations. The lens of my camera whirred as my cold fingers tried to focus on scenes that captured my attention. While walking around my yard, being careful not to disturb bits of icy magic, I spied an interesting arrangement on the ground – a heart-shaped composition of autumn leaves with fan-shaped ice crystals clinging to them like sparkling diamonds. Beauty is everywhere, you just have to take the time to notice. (Click on photo to enlarge it and to be able to see the ice crystals.)

#1 – The Secret Life of Ice
Intrigued with ice, snowflakes, and glaciers? Learn more about ice by watching the BBC’s fascinating hour-long presentation on the Secret Life of Ice. You are never too old to learn something new!

#2 – Castles

Alcazar of Segovia, Spain

Alcazar of Segovia, Spain

Castles and snowflakes both have a fantasy, fairytale-like quality about them. In this photo series Collection of Castles During Winter, we are treated to beautiful winter scenes of some of the most famous castles around the world.

#3 – How to Make Clear Ice Cubes
How to Make Clear Ice Cubes Have you ever wondered why icicles are clear, but most ice cubes are cloudy? Ice is ice, right?  Not so. A simplified answer to whether ice is cloudy or clear has to do with the type of water or water source used and the process used to create the ice. If you would like to serve clear ice cubes, like restaurants serve, at your next gathering, follow this Instructables tutorial.

#4 – Ice Art
Ice Art Viewing ice art is not restricted to cruise ship patrons. In its 25th year of highlighting ice art and hosting ice art competitions, Ice Alaska is now organizing the 2014 World Ice Art Championships which takes place from February 24th to March 30th in Fairbanks, Alaska. At last year’s World Ice Art Championships, the Artists’ Choice Award and 1st place winner in the Realistic Multi-Block Division went to the spectacular piece above called “Hunting Dragons” created by a 4-man team from the USA.

#5 – Constant Kindness
“Constant kindness can accomplish much. As the sun makes ice melt, kindness causes misunderstanding, mistrust, and hostility to evaporate.”
Albert Schweitzer

Now Go and Spread Joy!

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Entering the Creepy Room A white door at the top of the stairs rests slightly ajar and tempts a young woman to enter. The floor groans as she takes her first steps into the dusty room. As her eyes adjust to the dim light, she spies dark shapes lined up under the shuttered windows. Closer inspection reveals large bags leaning against one another for support. At the tops of the bags, scrawled in cursive handwriting, are the words: Torsos, Necks, Bottoms, and Arms. Red specks cover the carpet and a cutting blade lies nearby. It’s quite a messy scene. “Mom’s at it again,” the young woman sighs. Acknowledging her mother’s late night activities forces the woman to shiver and contemplate the approaching cold weather. As she slowly closes the door behind her, she says thoughtfully, “How nice. Mom’s making more t-shirt scarves for the homeless.”

#1 – Igniting a Strand of Firecrackers
T-shirts The power of one is like lighting the fuse on a strand of firecrackers. In September, I conceived an idea that would help both the homeless and planet Earth. In 100 Scarves: Making T-Shirt Scarves for the Homeless, I wrote about making scarves and tote bags from clean and gently used t-shirts. To help me reach my goal, I solicited t-shirt donations from friends and acquaintances. To date, I’ve made over 50 t-shirt scarves and 10 t-shirt tote bags and taken them to a local homeless shelter. When a dear friend of mine saw the scarves and bags she was inspired to help. Not only did she clean out her drawers and closets, she asked her friends to do the same. Very quickly word spread and soon friends of friends were donating t-shirts. Sitting in my dining room are close to 500 t-shirts and other pieces of clothing. Items such as jackets, vests, sweaters, and long-sleeved t-shirts will be donated to the shelter as is. People I don’t even know purchased brand new t-shirts to donate to my cause. Another friend gave me scarves she had knitted which reminded me of my own bag of knitted goods. All the scarves I’d knitted, but never given away as gifts were added to the pile. Once a strand of firecrackers ignites, each individual explosion affects the next one and the spark continues.

#2 – Monster Face Pizzas
Monster Face Pizzas Monsters are everywhere this time of the year. They can even be found hiding in our food! From Rhodes Bake-N-Serv Blog comes this monstrously easy idea. Think of how much fun kids would have creating their own Monster Face Pizzas at a Halloween party!

#3 – Art That Makes The Cut
Yulia-Brodskaya10-640x808 Using a technique called quilling, Moscow-born artist Yulia Brodskaya painstakingly cuts, curls, rolls, and glues paper to create her incredible three dimensional artwork, as seen on fubiz and on her website.

#4 – Creative Ideas
Chair and Bookshelf All In OneRecipes, design concepts, storage solutions, and re-purposing ideas can all be found in Simple Ideas That Are Borderline Genius. Some of them I’ve posted about in the past, but others are new to me. Who doesn’t appreciate a good idea?

#5 – The Power of One
“First with the head, then with the heart, you’ll be ahead from the start.”
Bryce Courtenay, The Power of One

NOW GO AND SPREAD JOY!

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