Where creativity grows

Tag: #creativemindset

A staycation

As I mentioned in the first post in this series, not everyone can just pick up and spend eleven days in Spain. However, one of our most memorable days in Spain was when Matt and Cassandra shared their favorite places and experiences with us. It gave me the chance to look at our hometown with different glasses. What would I put on such a list if I had to share our hometown with guests? 

Coffee and a pastry at Arabica Cafe. Although Diane and Chef Brian are currently trying to sell the cafe so that they can start chapter two of their retirement plan, it is still one of my all time favorite spots. I did almost all of my interviews for my book The Many Faces of Elgin there. The coffee is good and the pastries are amazing (or go later in the day for lunch- wowza). 

Check out the dam at Kimball Street. It is one of my all-time favorite spots in Elgin. If it’s freezing cold out, you might spot an eagle. If it’s summer, you’ll probably see a line of people fishing. Either way, it’s a very peaceful and beautiful spot to see the Fox River. Stroll down a bit and check out Walton Island.

At Kimball Street Dam
Eagles over Kimball Street Dam

Enjoy a bike ride, run or walk on the Fox River Trail. You can park at the Gail Borden Library in downtown and head north toward Algonquin or head south toward Aurora. 

Enjoy a martini at The Martini Room. Each month the lounge hosts the art of a local artist. Although they do not sell food, their cocktails are outstanding.

Martini Room

Get a bag of popcorn at Mama Lee’s to snack on while checking out the shops around downtown. Meraki Market features the work of local artisans. Elgin Knit Works is a beautiful yarn shop. Steep ‘n Clay is a tea and pottery shop. There are a variety of antique shops scattered around downtown as well.

Check out the public art throughout town. Elgin has amazing murals and sculptures. Most of it is accessible on foot from downtown. 

Get a German pretzel roll at Herb’s Bakery. These are the real deal and they sell out very fast. Call ahead and order a half-dozen…or go crazy and order a dozen. You won’t regret it. 

Have an iconic meal at Al’s Cafe (lunch or dinner- you won’t be disappointed). 

Elgin has a large hispanic population and as a result some excellent options for authentic food. One of our favorites is Taqueria Chapala on the far east side. 

Elgin Symphony Orchestra at the Hemmens Center. We are crazy lucky to have three amazing orchestras in Illinois. If you want to skip the major hassle of traveling downtown to see the CSO, you won’t be disappointed with free parking, ample dining options within walking distance and world class talent at the ESO. 

Discover the amazing architecture throughout Elgin. Whether it is a walking tour of the famous painted ladies and other historical homes or the various churches and temples, Elgin has it all. 

Painted Lady

Bluff City Cemetery is a stunningly beautiful historic cemetery on the far east side of town. Wander the grounds and then go for a hike in Bluff Spring Fen, which is accessed at the far end of the cemetery. 

What would be on your Staycation Itinerary if I were to visit your area? 

Oodle in the Park

When I first started kicking around the idea of starting a blog on creativity, my long term goal was to host some sort of creativity retreat where I would help people tap back into the creative energy they had lost. This was going to be the focus of my retirement energy. I figured I would write about creativity and I would continue to explore as many creative outlets and avenues as I could…sharing those journeys with all of you. Then I started thinking a lot about doing a podcast and talking to creatives– partially for my own benefit, but also to share with all of you. Many ideas have come in and out of my head since I started The Oodlearium, but the idea of a creativity camp of some sort has never left my mind. 

Back in December, my friend Karen was over to Elf in our kitchen while I was baking Christmas cookies. We baked and talked for hours about life and goals and dreams and passions. She heard very clearly the ache in my heart over not knowing how to bridge the gap between now and retirement when I would have more time to devote to my ideas. She threw out the idea of finding a space and just throwing a one day event together. She even volunteered to do a session on vision boards. I jotted down some notes and told her I would give it some serious thought.

During Christmas break, I was out & about one day doing some photography and I stopped by Tyler Creek Forest Preserve in Elgin. I didn’t get the shot I was hoping for, but I discovered this stunning permanent shelter. It was a beautiful brick structure– large enough to fit 50-75 people, close to a flush toilet and ample parking.  A quick google search showed that it could be rented for a whopping $50 for the day. I had found the home for this “someday” event. I was so excited about the shelter that I started asking anyone I could think of if they would be willing to be a presenter for this idea of an event. Every single person said yes and before I knew it, I had this awesome lineup of presenters.

Check out the presenters.

These incredible creatives have put together awesome ideas for fun sessions that will tickle your creative funny bones. They cover everything from painting to doodling to photography to vision boards and a charcuterie board lunch session. I could not have asked for a better group of friends to share this day with you all. 

Check out the sessions

Someday, I hope that Oodle in the Park will morph into a huge multi-day event with presenters from all over the world. For now, it is a small group of really enthusiastic creatives who want to share their love with their art with you. The cost of the day is $50, which covers the cost of your supplies for the day. You will not need to bring anything with you except whatever camera (DSLR or phone) for Kelly Hubert’s session. You will create an individual charcuterie board during our lunch time session and eat/snack on it after you’ve snagged some photos to share with friends & family! Snacks and water will be provided throughout the day. If this sounds like something you would love to attend, please sign up here: Oodle in the Park Registration

Why I’ll never read another menu again

It has been a rough week here in the oodle universe. My summer break is rapidly drawing to a close and while I have had a full summer, I am far from feeling ready to start my 18th year of teaching. Yesterday I did what I do most Saturdays—rolled out of bed and met my running tribe. We ran just shy of six miles and I was feeling reenergized and excited to be alive. I got home and asked Tom if he wanted to go out to breakfast— to try a place called SYRUP in St. Charles. Two of the most powerful aspects of the creative mindset are: 1) expose yourself to new environments and 2) have new experiences. I was hoping that a breakfast outing would kickstart a mini creative adventure— I was not wrong! 

We arrived at SYRUP smack in the middle of the breakfast rush. Every table was full and there was a long line of hungry diners stretching out into the parking lot. The staff was bustling from table to table. The food smelled and looked delicious! After a short wait we were seated— a gigantic menu placed in front of each of us, but neither of us looked at it.

Our server, Amber, greeted us with an offer of coffee and juice. While waiting for our drinks, Tom asked me if we wanted to do our standard of ordering one sweet and one savory dish and sharing our meals— of course!  When Amber returned, we popped two questions that we ask every time we dine out: 1) What is the most frequently ordered item on the menu? 2) What do you think is a hidden gem that is not ordered enough? The first question yielded five or six relatively normal responses (it’s a HUGE menu). The second question is really the money question— where the unique and amazing culinary experiences are hidden. She suggested two items: 

Without even knowing it, Amber had suggested a sweet and a savory and two items that we NEVER would have picked out on our own. We love eating, but never would have looked at the items listed as “healthy.” Without even blinking, we ordered one of each item and grinned— excited to see what this adventure brought.

When the food arrived, I told Amber I might just hug her. The Home Sweet Home was exactly what we were looking for— a uniquely flavorful AND savory delight that introduced us to a new breakfast experience. I cannot overstate how delicious this entree was. We both had to stop ourselves from just shoveling it in our mouths. The Lemon Berry crepes were equally as heavenly— the perfect compliment to the savory Home Sweet Home. We both made mental notes about how we could recreate both of these items again at home. 

We have been asking these questions for a few years now— ever since Tom read about it in The Four Hour Chef by Tim Ferriss. If you are in a high-end restaurant, you could ask the server to ask the second question to the chef. Those two simple questions have completely changed our dining out experience— so much so that we have pretty much sworn off looking at menus. Sure sometimes we get a server who simply suggests the most expensive item on the menu, but in most cases they are tickled to be asked their actual opinion. Amber was grinning ear to ear as she was telling us about her two favorite items. She even went back and asked her manager the same questions— who was intrigued by the questions! We had an amazing new breakfast experience and we brightened what might have otherwise been a super busy and stressful morning rush at work. We have tried this out in restaurants throughout our travels and we have NEVER been disappointed. We tried Tri Tip in Wyoming (didn’t even know what tri tip was), lamb at an Afghani restaurant in Montreal (Tom NEVER eats lamb) and so many more! 

Give it a try! You’ll likely discover something you might not have otherwise had. Who knows where that creative exploration will lead.

Until next time, oodle on!

Jen

What’s happening in The Oodlearium

Quote I’m contemplating 

Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainty. Erich Fremm

I am NOT good at letting things go, but when it comes to creating a pour painting or an alcohol ink tile, I have to let go of any notion that I am controlling the outcome. Yes, I select the colors, but after that it’s all magic and nothing is guaranteed— that is where the fun comes in to play!

What have I been working on?

I finished up my 17th year of teaching on June 8th and it has honestly taken me a few weeks to recover from what was the hardest year of my teaching career (which is why I have not done an update in a few weeks). I taught a dear friend how to pour paint (she loved it so much she offered to host my first-ever Mobile Oodlearium next month!). Last week I was in Phoenix visiting family and I did a painting session with my aunt. She went all in when I first told her about my new found obsession. She bought a basic kit, but then started playing around with mixing her own paints with Flotrol and even used a mini torch to get cells in her pours. She was very exploratory. I showed her how I normally pour and then she did one of her own on a 12×12 ceramic tile, which turned out awesome. Finally, I introduced her to 3D pouring on a plastic mask from Michaels, which turned out AWESOME! 

I designed and ordered my Oodlearium business cards, so that I can hand them out when I am out and about rambling on about my happy place.

As always, you can follow my 52 Frames journey here to see my entry for the weekly photography prompts.

In the kitchen

My best friend and her husband were over this past weekend for patio time, so I decided to try out a recipe I found for baked vegan glazed chocolate donuts. To say these were stupid good and easy to make would be the understatement of the decade. I opted to use the applesauce option rather than track down vegan butter, so I was able to make them with ingredients I already had in the pantry. They were so good that I might have eaten a few too many and subsequently made a second batch! And they got the stamp of approval from our vegan donut lovers!

We continued our exploration of grinding our own meat for burgers. I went out to Ream’s Meat Market and was excited when the butcher gave me a custom mix of meat to grind. We had one pound each of brisket, short ribs and angus chuck. The resulting burgers were excellent, but we agreed we didn’t notice a huge difference from the home ground angus chuck we normally make.

Our creative explorations in the kitchen led us to a crazy idea for a collaborative project. We ordered a map that we are going to use to track our culinary explorations from around the world. If we made a food from a certain area at home that will be one colored pin. If we ate the food at a restaurant that will be another color. And if we ate the food in that place, we’ll have yet another color pin. We are going to design and build a custom frame for the map and it will hang as a conversation piece in our dining room when it is done. Stay tuned for updates!

The Creative Mindset

After all the stress and anxiety of this past school year, I decided one of my focuses this summer would be on getting out into nature as often as possible. I have started back up with my yin yoga practice and I am doing it in our backyard early in the morning. It’s awesome to get my zen on with the chirping of birds in the background and the sun rising. I love this video, but also spend a lot of time exploring Yoga with Adriene. 

Something else I have been working on is doing art anywhere. A dear friend gave me an adorable little cloth zippered pouch with some art supplies. I keep it filled with my doodling pens, a mini sketch book and some note cards. I used these tools extensively while I was out of town. If I was killing time while my niece was taking a nap or while waiting to meet someone for lunch, I would quickly whip out my pouch and doodle for a few minutes—finding inspiration wherever I was. This is how I came up with my design for my Oodlearium business cards!

The Artist’s Way

I am decades late to The Artist’s Way party, but I finally decided to hop on the train and check out the book from the library. It was quickly clear that this book could be profoundly important to my creativity, so I splurged and bought the actual book. I reached out to a group of creatives to see how they have used the book and I connected with another photographer on the other side of the globe in Australia. We have decided to go through the book together and keep each other accountable to the process. I have been diligent about completing the morning pages, which act like a morning brain dump on paper. They have helped me to get a handle on my monkey brain for sure— at least I know what’s bugging me! This week I will take myself on my first artist date— location TBD. The goal is to have a weekly dose of creative explorations that fill your creative mojo cup— you can’t tap into an empty well. Exciting for sure! The first chapter talked about the people who have not supported my creative endeavors. I have been SO lucky that my friends and family have always supported and encouraged my exploits. For this I am so grateful!!!

Until next time, keep oodling!

Jen

#creativity

#courage

#pourpainting

#3dpainting

#veganchocolatedonuts

#meatgrinding

#foodiemap

#foodie

#mobileoodlearium

#creativemindset

#yinyoga

#yogainnature

#sketchbook

#sketchanywhere

#theartistsway

#artistdate

#morningpages

This week in the Oodlearium Part #1

This is what happens when you want to add a picture of SpaceBird clicking its heals, but you have no idea how to make that happen. The process was too fun not to share!

It’s day one of a five day weekend and my brain decided that 4:45 AM was the time it wanted to activate. So I was sitting in bed poking around on Pinterest when it hit me like a ton of bricks…I have been pinning hundreds of ideas to my Creativity board, but I am not doing anything with them. What the heck! My board is filled with awesome content–inspirational quotes, challenges and exercises and much more, but unless you follow me there, no one is getting anything out of those resources. Heck I am not even looking back at them. That eye-opening realization ripped me out of bed and brought me into The Oodlearium. When I decided to start this blog I had so many ideas of regular features and articles and content that I was going to have perfectly organized into this beautiful and simple package. Then I had to return to work…to my actual classroom…in the middle of a pandemic and well that put a small kink in my plan. 

Cases of Corona have been out of control in our area the last few weeks, which means I have been working from home (insert grateful happy dance). This week I had to drive in to school to drop something off, which meant I was going to spend two hours in my car…perfect opportunity to check out a new podcast. Beautiful Anonymous showed up on a list of recommended podcasts a few weeks ago and I downloaded an episode on new year’s resolutions. Chris’ conversations with the callers got me thinking about The Oodlearium and my blog and where I wanted THIS to go. And a few things came out of that rabbit hole.

  1. I am going to do a weekly recap of ‘What’s happening in the Oodlearium?’ I am finding that I am terrible at social media and making all the different pieces fit together into a cohesive package of content. I am going to take my different posts from different platforms and put them into a weekly recap of sorts. Format to be determined!
  2. With all of my heart and soul I want to do a podcast. There I put it in writing! I have a million different thoughts about this and I feel like I keep using COVID19 as an excuse not to start. Enough! Between now and January 1st I will have a plan to move forward. I am SO excited! Stay tuned for more information.

There is something empowering about taking ideas out of your brain and putting them into written words. I am overwhelmed with excitement about the future and cannot wait to see what it brings. I am sure it will be vastly different from what is in my head, but I am confident it will be beautiful. Tune in tomorrow for what has been happening in the Oodlearium this week.

Exercise- 1 Subject 10 Photos

The goal of this exercise is to work on your observation skills. Pick one subject and your goal is to make 10 different photos of it. Look at it from different angles. Pick it up. Turn it upside down. Look at it from the top of a 10 foot pole. You do not need a fancy camera for this exercise. Use the camera on your phone and you’ll be all set. Create a quickie collage of your images with your favorite app and share it on our socials.

5 minutes spent on our patio with my camera on my phone. Collage created using Adobe Express.

2.5 x Warrior

52 Frames and why you should take on a challenge project

In December of 2017, I was preparing to deliver the last few copies of my book The Many Faces of Elgin. The previous 24 months had been consumed by writing, making portraits, editing, layout, sign-offs, marketing and so much more. It was everything I did during those two years. I squeezed in a for-fun photography outing every once in a great while, but it was not often. Landscapes, flowers, butterflies, etc were placed on a long-term back burner. When I was done, I wondered if I would ever pick up my camera again.   

When I randomly happened onto a post about a photography challenge called 52 Frames. The rules were simple– submit one original photo taken the week of the challenge based on that week’s theme. The goal is to be a weekly warrior (submit a photo every week for 52 weeks straight). It did not take much to convince me to sign up for the challenge. 

You can start the program whenever you want, but I was starting with the first challenge of 2018. Every year the first challenge of the year is a self-portrait. What on earth had I gotten myself into? Remember what I said about portraits and flowers and landscapes and such? Not only am I not good at portraits, but I despise being in pictures. The nightmare was real. I won’t lie— quite a few tears were shed that week, but I submitted my first image and my journey had begun.

When I look back at the two photobooks I have made so far (2018 / 2019), I am struck by how much this group has helped me to grow not only as a photographer, but also as a person. When I first started sharing my photography on social media, I definitely fell victim to the dopamine hits I got from getting likes. Because my family and friends liked everything I ever posted. I had an inflated sense of reality. 52 Frames challenged me to learn new techniques, shoot subjects that never interested me and most importantly to pursue my photography for me and not for anyone else. Each week I specifically seek out comments that help me improve and grow. I used to tell my husband that I was a fair-weather photographer. Now 52 Frames has me shooting 52 weeks a year. I have submitted a whole mess of self-portraits— even when it was not directly the challenge theme. I have taken pictures of M&Ms, soldering irons, flags, eggs, candy corn, Darth Vader, flowers, strangers, fire, graffiti and so much more. Most weeks are REALLY hard for me and I consider myself a creative person! I am pushed to my limits regularly and somehow every week I show up. I am more than half-way through my third year with this project and I cannot see myself stopping any time soon.

I highly recommend challenge projects because they force you to show up and practice. Here are some ideas:

  • 52 Frames– This is a photography based project, but you can see the weekly challenges on their website if you wanted to apply the theme to a different medium (writing, painting, doodling).
  • Project 365– Take a single photo every day of the year. The original Project 365 was to take a selfie every day. Some people choose to document food or just an event from their everyday lives. Again, you could apply the concept to anything you want to do every day for a year.
  • Project 52- same idea as project 365, but only once a week. 
  • 365 Thank you notes (based on this book). Write and send/deliver a thank you card every day for an entire year. You’ll be amazed by what this gratitude exercise does for your overall well-being.
  • 100 strangers. Take a photo of 100 different strangers. If you are not a photographer, perhaps you write a short scenario about 100 strangers. Snap a quick image with your cell phone and then write up your scenario.
  • Learn a new word everyday.

Here are few more ideas:

Everyone has creativity within them, but it is a muscle that needs to be used and flexed from time to time. These challenges encourage you to make having a creativity mindset a priority in your life. 

Inspiring a Creative Mindset

Inspiring a Creative Mindset

If I had a dollar for every time someone told me that they are not creative, I would have a pretty nice chunk of money. What most people are saying when they say they are not creative is that they are not artistic. EVERYONE is creative. Creative people are problem solvers. They are empathetic. They are sales people, managers, parents, teachers, coaches, janitors, bartenders and everything in between. They are everyday people trying to figure out how to navigate their way through the world. Creativity is a mindset. Whether you want to be more artistic or less stressed out when you have a problem you are trying to solve, these methods will help to inspire a creative mindset. These 10 pillars will be the foundation for our creative journey together. 

  • Listen to music. In a world of Spotify and playlists, music is the easiest way to get your creative mojo flowing. I am a fan of “louder is better.” Anything that makes you tap your foot or get your boogie on will help to shake the cobwebs out of your brain. When we built out the Oodlearium, we repurposed a shelf stereo from the basement that music could always be available.
    • My favorite Pandora stations
      • Imagine Dragons Radio
      • 80s Pop Hits
      • Arctic Monkeys Radio
      • Bruno Mars Radio
    • I am late to join the Spotify train. The cool thing about Spotify is that people can share their playlists. I found a few to try out with a quick Google search. Try one of these or develop some of your own. Or go old school and put a creativity mix-tape together.
  • Keep an idea journal. I am a bit obsessed with lists. When I discovered the Google Keep app my life changed forever! I can keep color-coded lists, pin more important lists to the top of my lists, insert pictures, videos, links and even drawings. I have lists of things I want to learn, books I want to read, places I want to visit, and of course multiple grocery lists! Because I  always have a device with me, I can add to it at any time. In addition to my Google Keep lists, I have an actual Idea Journal that is a paper journal that I keep in the Oodlearium. I use that journal to sketch out bigger ideas. And of course, I have copious Pinterest boards (crafty, journaling, crochet, and countless more!) 
  • Talk to other creatives.  Find people who fill you with creative energy— who inspire you to make/solve problems (whatever that means for you). I have a list of people both near and far. Spending even just a few minutes on the phone with them helps me to ignite creative sparks. If you don’t feel like you have those people in your life, I recommend checking out this article about  creating a creativity & camaraderie club. I hope The Oodlearium will allow people to develop these kinds of relationships as well. 
  • Embrace failure. My grandma taught me to crochet when I was little. One day my mom told me that my sisters and I were going to spend a long weekend with my Grandma’s sister. Aunt Grace said that we could work on a crochet project together. I bought some beautiful green yarn to make a scarf. I was twenty or so rows into my project when Aunt Grace pointed out that my rows were decreasing in size. She encouraged me to pull out the rows and redo them. I gave her an incredulous glance and kept going. By the end of the weekend, I had finished my scarf. It looked like a drunken sailor had made it, but I was done. If I had realized then that it was ok to make mistakes and that the first draft was seldom the final draft, I would probably still have a lovely green scarf. 
  • Show persistence/grit. Much like when I started running, creativity DOES take work. When my husband and I were first dating, I was in awe of his ability to complete major projects seemingly with one “attempt.” What I didn’t realize was that he was not melting down every time something went wrong like I would. After twenty years together I have seen him work through problems that demonstrate his incredible creativity. If he did not possess that grit, he would have quit on The Oodlearium shelves when he learned how shamefully uneven our ceiling was. 
  • Be a lifelong learner. Soap making. Alcohol inking. Beer brewing. Doodling. Digital doodle coloring. Card making. Crocheting baby blankets. Crocheting hats. Candle making. Pinecone art. Wine bottle art. Cork art. Button art. Quilling. Origami. Sewing. Gardening. Shading markers. Paper making. Book folding. Book binding. Watercoloring. Graphic design. Wood burning. This is just a short list of the different paths my creative journey has taken me on. Some have come and gone. Others are lifelong staples. Some are seedlings in my idea journal waiting for the time when I can further pursue them. The point is that I am always exploring new ideas and trying to learn something new. While the items I listed are artistic pursuits, I am also learning Spanish and how to become a minimalist. 
  • Expose yourself to new environments. As much as I would love to have unlimited funds to explore the far reaches of our planet, this is just not most people’s reality (nor mine!). However, exploring your world to whatever extent you can is a great way to get your creative juices flowing. Here are some ideas:
    • Visit local museums (check to see when they have admission free days for residents)
    • Visit a new cafe or bookshop
    • Drive a different route to work
    • Take public transportation to work if possible
    • Buy a public transit ticket and hop on and get off somewhere randomly 
    • Check out the parks and forest preserves in your area
    • Visit a community garden in your town
    • Check out a summer farmer’s market
  • Disconnect / detox from technology. So many people are admittedly addicted to their devices that we never have an opportunity to let our minds wander. That is when your brain has the opportunity to make unique connections between different ideas. If you are constantly bombarding your mind with new inputs then you never have an opportunity to actually do something with those new ideas. If the thought of going even a few hours without your device causes you to have a panic attack, you need to do this more than ever— as soon as possible. 
  • Have new experiences. Probably close to a decade ago, I did a Project 365. The goal of the project is to take and share a photo a day for a whole year. My first picture was of an anthropomorphized smile that was really our tub drain. As the weeks and months went by the act of practicing my craft every day forced me to pay closer attention to the world around me, but it also encouraged me to have new experiences so that I would have new photographs to make and to write about. I visited places that I might not have otherwise. I visited more with friends and family and made sure to document those memories. Each time I tried something new it sparked a new idea in my mind. Ooh I went to this botanic garden, I wonder if there is another here or there. If I visited a zoo, maybe I could grab my best friend and take a road trip up to this other zoo. All those experiences were filed in my brain— for a craft, an art project, a blog post or just to share a story to show someone that I understand. 
  • Begin anywhere. This morning my husband and I sat out on our patio and talked for hours about my hopes and dreams for this blog. We talked about my anxieties and insecurities as well as the reasons why I should move forward with my ideas. The conversation ended with my husband telling me how much he admires my willingness to just dive into an idea, whereas he tends to research, plan and calculate and then recalculate every move. I have a card on my shelf behind me in The Oodlearium that says “Begin Anywhere.” Start wherever you are and if tomorrow you want to restart again, then go right ahead. Don’t wait for the perfect moment- just start! 

Creativity is a way of living life that embraces originality and makes unique connections between seemingly disparate ideas. Creativity is about living life as a journey into seeing and communicating the extraordinariness of the simplest, most every day acts. (cite)

What is the Oodlearium?

What is the Oodlearium?

The short answer? It’s where creativity grows. For the long answer keep reading.

For years, my husband felt bad that he has a shop in the garage for big projects that involve power tools, a “clean” shop in the basement for smaller projects, and his office upstairs where he can play his guitar or work on computer based projects. My art supplies have been inconveniently stored in closets around the house. I didn’t care though. I am a flexible person. There were plenty of places for me to set up shop around the house, but none that were just mine. 

Our house has a loft that looks out over our family room and through double patio doors to our patio. It has two skylights and a giant window that provide gorgeous light throughout the day. For most of the 17 years we have lived in our house, it had a billiards table and a ping pong table that we hardly ever used. We thought it would be fun for parties, until we realized we did not want people traipsing around our upstairs. When a kid threw a ball over the railing onto her mother’s head the deal was sealed. Selling a pool table is difficult at best. By the time the person pays someone to tear it down and reassemble it they can practically buy a brand new set-up. It took months of hard work, but my husband finally found a buyer. Looking at the 20×10 space, I could start to imagine what it might be like to have so much room for storage and projects. To be able to leave a project out on the table instead of having to always pack everything back up would be amazing. My husband really wanted to do this for me and after my initial resistance I was ready to let him.

The back wall has an angled ceiling that created the perfect space for built in shelves. The shelves vary in height and width allowing for incredible storage customization. There is room for everything from my tubs of yarn to my sewing machine and wax seal supplies and even a retro Spirograph. He is currently working on a custom table that will have additional storage and a full-size butcher block countertop (more on that piece when it’s done). 

To my right is an antique Singer Sewing machine that I nabbed through a Facebook group. After doing some research my husband discovered that it is an 1889 model. It needs a bit of TLC, but it is beautiful and will eventually be fully functional. Next to it is my most prized possession. On a recent trip to visit my family, my aunt showed me a sweater and skirt set my grandma crocheted for her 30+ years ago. There was no way that it would ever fit me, but there was also no way I was letting it go to Goodwill. 

My sister-in-law found me a simple dress form and voila I had the perfect way to display her work of art. My grandma embodied everything it means to be creative. She crocheted hundreds of blankets and baby sets for people around the world. In the kitchen she was a master of baking and Italian cuisine. Having one of her most beautiful pieces is the closest thing I can have to having her here with me. 

When we were designing and building the room, we kept calling it the craft loft. Sure it’s a loft, but it is SO much more than a craft room. To know where The Oodlearium came from we have to take a small detour. There is an awesome art organization in my hometown called Oddball Art Lab.  A few years ago they repurposed an old cigarette machine into a machine that now dispenses the work of local artists on small pieces of wood. After I had what I felt was a nice collection of my doodles, I applied to have a set of blocks in the machine. During the application process I had to provide a link to a website where people could find out more information about my art. I threw a quick Facebook page together and called it Jen’s Oodle Doodles. One day I was walking up the stairs to head into the loft and it hit me— The Oodlearium. 

The purpose of The Oodlearium is to inspire a creative mindset. Here is what you can you expect to see here in The Oodlearium:

  • Stories of my own creative journey 
  • Resources to help you develop your creative mindset (articles, blogs, videos, podcasts, etc.)
  • Discussions with creatives to help inspire you
  • Exercises to stretch your creative muscles
  • Challenges that allow you put what you have learned into practice

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