A few weeks ago, the 52Frames challenge was “Break the rules.” I think the overall spirit of the theme was to break a compositional rule. However, I felt that I was not master enough in the different rules to intentionally break one, so I took a different spin. I broke a rule that all people who live in the Chicago-land area know— I ate a hot dog with ketchup only. The comments on my photo have been amusing. A fellow Framer from Norway responded that ketchup sounded good, but in Norway it is common to have a prawn salad on their hot dog (I’m trying to be open minded, but that sounds awful!). Most of the others were adamant in their thought that I should eat my hot dog any damned way I want to.
Have you ever seen the movie Office Space? At the beginning, the character Michael Bolton is sitting in traffic listening to gangster rap with his windows rolled down. As soon as he thinks someone might hear his music, he scrambles to roll up his windows—secret saved. That’s how I feel any time I order a hot dog. I know it’s totally ridiculous, but there is so much smack talk about how heinous it is to sully a hot dog with such a vile condiment that I am embarrassed to admit it’s the only way I will ever eat one.
My husband and I have been talking a lot about the idea of “this is how we roll”—the creative ways that we live our life. We grind our own meat *thank you COVID). When I make lasagna, it’s a multi-day event. Our two cars are a combined 31 years old. We don’t pay for things that are commonplace for many people (cleaning service, streaming services, home repairs, car repairs and so many more). We hardly ever order out from restaurants any more (thanks COVID). We try more new recipes than I could possibly list off. We never check luggage when we travel. We only travel for experiences not to see things. The list goes on and on. While we have friends who live a much more creative and off the beaten path life than we do, we have chosen to live as creatively as we can within the constructs of our jobs/careers, Jumbo hot dogs ketchup only are a part of how we roll for sure. This 52 Frames challenge was definitely a good reminder to live the life we want to live.
I wanted to immerse myself in every chance I could to explore creativity on our once in a lifetime trip to Spain. On our first walk through the quaint town of Bot, I immediately noticed the beautiful doors and windows. I made a mental note to take advantage of some free time to explore the area with my camera. The opportunity came one morning when I woke up early to go for a run on the via Verde near our hotel. Tom was still sleeping and we didn’t have plans until the afternoon.
I grabbed my gear and headed out to explore. I roamed the city streets listening only to the sounds of the town coming to life— roosters from a local farm crowing in the distance, vans and trucks making their morning deliveries and the occasional Buen dia as someone strolled past me. I could truly get used to this way of life!
The variety of doors was staggering. Every single door was different. Most of them were wood, but they were in no way cookie cutter. Some were arched. Some were wider. Many were very colorful. A lot had ornate metal details or unique handles/knockers. Each entrance had its own unique personality.
I know it is easy to say that something is better because you are in a far-away location. Coming from suburban Chicago where everything looks exactly the same, the variety was truly refreshing.
This was an excellent exercise to find the beauty in the everyday.
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.
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.
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.
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?
We recently returned from the trip of a lifetime to Spain. We spent eleven magical days enjoying the Spanish countryside and soaking up every last drop of life spice. It seems hypocritical to talk about feeling inspired after taking a dream vacation, because who wouldn’t? It makes me think of the time I had the chance to ask world-famous photographer Art Wolfe to tell me his favorite place to photograph. He responded with Myanmar. Only someone who is able to travel internationally regularly would give such a response. Because it will be a long time before we are able to take such a trip again, I did reflect on the aspects of our trip that inspired a creative mindset so that we can try to recreate those types of experiences here at home. Over the next few weeks, I will post a series of blogs about our experiences in Spain. Here is a sneak peak…
Our food experiences were by far the most amazing. For years we have been asking for recommendations in restaurants. Check out my post Why I’ll never order off a menu again. We continued to do so while in Spain. We tried so many foods that we never would have ordered on our own—duck, partridge, clams, mussels, cuttlefish, octopus, prawns and much more. I now know that my day is always better if it starts with a café con leche. As soon as we got home, I decided to host an international potluck. Everyone is bringing a dish from their heritage to pass. Foodie potluck
New experiences are obviously easier when you are in a new place where everything is new. Our adventures started with the invitation of a lifetime— one we could not turn down. Some of our explorations were simple (Spanish doors) while others were much more elaborate. One of our most memorable days was when our friends took a day to share their “favorites” with us. What would be on my favorites list if someone were visiting us? We did something similar when my bestie and her husband were in town for the day from Connecticut. Could I ask others to suggest an itinerary for a day in their area? Staycations
Music makes my heart skip a beat. Matt and Cassandra asked their guests from 9 different countries to share 3-4 songs for the DJ to play during the reception. I don’t have any of the names of the songs that were played, but I remember how much I smiled when I heard music from Ukraine, India, Mexico and even Sweden. My Pandora stations are so perfectly curated that they play only songs that I know and love. This, of course, is a double edged sword. I need to explore some new music avenues. Music
Learn something new. We ended our trip with an Airbnb Experience to learn how to make paella, which combined our love of food, culture and learning. Paella. While we cannot take a cooking class every week, I do have a stack of recipes from a great book I checked out from our library called The Kitchen Without Borders. It features stories and recipes from immigrant and refugee chefs from around the world. Our Foodie Map is eagerly awaiting more pins.
The best thing about vacations is how they make you appreciate home. This trip was no different. While we would love to figure out a way to have our “olive farm” right now, we have ways to inject joy and creativity into our lives every single day.
I haven’t had as much time this year to engage in the Sketchbook Revival funness, but I have selected a few sessions to try out. Two in particular lead to crazy fun shenanigans.
Create Like a Kid Again! with Charlie O’Shield. I loved his playful spirit so much and got such a kick out of his exercise. Take the first noun you think of and then the first compound noun you think of. In my case my noun was fish and Charlie gave the compound noun handshake. The exercise was to replace either hand or shake with your new noun and then draw it. I decided to do handfish and this was my result:
DAY 9 SESSION 1 – Este MacLeod 123…Let’s Draw Cats. I was so enamored with the idea of this session and the examples people were posting in the Facebook group. My first attempts were less than exciting, but I kept trying.
Eventually I just tried to turn the numbers into doodles…something my brain could wrap itself around.
But then my husband has a brighter idea! Last night he challenged me to do something completely different, but something that set my brain on fire. He challenged me to make one of my doodles out of only letters. 5 minutes later I presented him with the doodle on the bottom right.
Then he suggested I remove those letters from the alphabet and only use the remaining letters. That yielded me the bottom left. I did not expect him to then say I needed to create one with only the remaining letters…and that yielded…
This was a ridiculously fun challenge! I hope you’ll give it a try. You could try with all lower case letters, numbers, or even the punctuation marks found on a keyboard. My husband was not getting off the hook that easily. I challenged him to make fish out of the numbers and he did great!
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.
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.
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.
This year, Tom and I decided that we were going to focus on making our own Christmas memories and infusing our home with the joy of the season. That is how the 12 Days of Hot Chocolate came to be. While we have always been somewhat snobbish about our hot chocolate consumption (ie no Swiss Miss and hot water allowed in this household), we have never searched for a recipe that takes our hot chocolate to the next level.
Our basic hot cocoa recipe (2 servings)
2 cups milk of choice
2 TBSP dark chocolate cocoa powder
2 TBSP sugar
Splash of vanilla
Heat milk in the microwave and stir in the rest of the ingredients. Serve with your favorite toppings.
I turned to Pinterest to find twelve recipes for us to try. The teacher in me and the engineer in Tom of course had to make a rubric to score the recipes. We went back and forth on a lot of different ideas, but in the end opted to keep it nice and simple with a 3 candy cane rating system:
1 candy cane – we did not even finish the mug and won’t ever make it again.
2 candy canes- we finished it, but probably won’t make it again
3 candy canes- absolutely loved it and will add it to our personal cookbook
I printed off the 12 recipes and made my shopping list. We were ready to get started!
I don’t want to disappoint you this early in the post, but full disclosure- we ended up not trying all twelve recipes. Very early on we discovered what we like, love and hate about hot chocolate. We used the recipes to explore different flavors, but in the end we didn’t need all twelve recipes to figure that out. I will include links to all twelve at the very end in case you want to do your own experiment.
All things being equal:
There are a few elements that we kept standard throughout the recipes, despite what the recipe actually called for.
70% cocoa Ghirardelli dark chocolate chips
Dark cocoa powder from Costco
Silk Unsweetened Almond Milk or Organic Skim Cow’s milk
Anywhere that called for heavy cream or half-half, we used Silk non-dairy half-half.
I am obsessed with all things chocolate and peanut butter, so I started our adventure with the only peanut butter and chocolate recipe. I was sure this would be my favorite before we even started. I mixed everything up and poured the concoction into the His and Hers penguin mugs we would be using for the challenge. I took a huge sip and let out a howl of excitement. Man was that yummy. Tom was less impressed. My initial impression was that I would drink it every day for the rest of my life. Tom thought he might finish it, but he is not a lover of chocolate and peanut butter like I am. Within a few minutes though we both felt like someone had stuck a straw into a jar of Skippy. To my shock and chagrin— neither of us finished our mugs! I don’t know if it would be better with higher quality peanut butter. I only had creamy Skippy on hand from my holiday baking as Tom prefers the chunky Crazy Richard’s peanut butter for everyday use. Perhaps more milk to thin it out or even less PB, but overall this one was a big bust!
Not much I love more this time of year than peppermint. Next up was a peppermint hot chocolate recipe that was sure to win our hearts— except for the fact that I cannot read. I made the recipe and we both agreed it was tasty, but it seemed really sweet. When I looked at the recipe, I discovered that instead of putting ¼ tsp of sugar, I poured in a heap ¼ cup. Oops! I made it again later that week with a more appropriate amount of sugar and we both really liked it. We started thinning out the recipes a bit with this one, because we prefer to drink our hot chocolate rather than chew it. This one was a WINNER!
Our third recipe was one that we were holding on to share with some friends when they popped by for a holiday visit. The Colonial Hot Chocolate recipe had a unique flavor palette and we knew our foodie friends would enjoy doing this taste test with us. This recipe involved me hunting down a few ingredients I had never used before (star anise & ground cardamom), but overall it was an incredibly easy recipe to make. Given the incredibly unique combination of flavors and how easy it was to make, we all agreed this was one of the best hot chocolates we had ever had. This is a solid dessert hot chocolate, but could also serve as a lovely regular recipe if thinned out a bit.
After the peanut butter hot chocolate recipe, I was a bit gun shy to try the Nutella Hot Chocolate. I could not have been more wrong! It was awesome— just nutty enough to be unique and the perfect balance of yummo chocolate flavor.
After a few recipes that were next level with flavors and add-ons, we decided to step back and try a basic recipe that could potentially be our go-to hot cocoa recipe. This one was a sure fire winner— with one change. Tom and I agreed that we much prefer to drink our hot chocolate rather than almost chew it— so I added in an extra cup of milk to the recipe. Yummo!
Next up was going to be a Mexican Hot Chocolate, but neither of us were excited about the idea of something spicy. Instead, I opted for a recipe for a cinnamon hot cocoa that I was hoping would be similar to the cinnamon crunch latte I had at Panera last week. We were both busy with projects and it was the perfect time to throw in a cup of holiday cheer. Tom proclaimed this was his absolute favorite recipe and I was very close to agreeing. Steeping a whole stick of cinnamon in milk for ten minutes produced a beautifully delicious hot chocolate. With some fresh whipped cream on top, this one was AMAZING! I actually made this again the very next day,
We gave one last recipe a try before declaring the challenge complete. The Parisian Hot Chocolate recipe was elegant and grand, but it was WAY TOO MUCH of everything for us to enjoy. Even with me thinning out the recipe, neither of us finished the mug. We agreed that we know the basics of what makes a great cup of hot chocolate in conjunction with how we like ours prepared so that we can now mix and match a bit from the recipes we tried out.
Here is a list of all the recipes in case you want to do your own comparison:
I’m running my third half-marathon on Sunday, November 7th. I am training my butt off right now and it is really hard— especially with the start of the new school year and all the chaos/mental exhaustion that entails. But I really want to do it— and not just do it, I want to beat my previous PR (personal record). So I show up four times a week and I train my tail off. I run grueling intervals on the track every Thursday night. I drag my exhausted body out of bed early on Saturday morning to do my long runs. On Mondays and Wednesday nights I enjoy what is supposed to be an easy run with some crazy mixed in. I show up day after day— no matter how tired I am, no matter how crappy my day was, no matter how many steps I already got in, no matter how badly I want to curl up on the couch with a bag of chocolate chips. Running this half-marathon is a priority for me and short of an injury nothing will stop me from reaching my goal of a sub 3:00 finish time this fall. Most people say they could never do what I am doing. I tell them that they are absolutely wrong. What they mean is that they don’t want to do it. If they want to, there is really nothing that can stop them from doing it. I am 100% evidence of that fact. I am NOT a born runner. I don’t look like an athlete…and I really like food…and not the fueling kind. But I really want to do this and I am showing up to do it.
The same intention has to be there for your creativity. So many people tell me that they are not creative. Most people mean that they are not artistic, but I don’t even really believe that either. Every single person on this planet is a problem solver of some sort. Whether it is figuring out how to level up in a video game or how to get six kids out the door in the morning and to three different schools or some other conundrum— we are all problem solvers. How we solve those problems manifests itself in a variety of ways. In Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert she talks about how creative energy is floating through the universe looking for a viable host. When it finds someone who is open to its idea “inspiration strikes.” While you are waiting, you put the work in. If you are a writer, you pick up that pen or click on those keys daily. If you paint, you pick up the brushes every day and you put yourself out there. You let the world know that you are open and ready for ideas. You read blogs. You read inspirational books on creativity. You follow incredible talent on social media. You take yourself on artists’ dates. You write your morning pages. You show up for your creativity and you make it a priority. That hard work WILL BE rewarded! And by rewarded I am not talking about selling a canvas for 50,000$ (congratulations, Callen Schaub!) or getting your first book deal (or 100th!). You will have shown up for yourself and you will be able to answer Elizabeth Gilbert’s question: “Do you have the courage to bring forth the wonderful treasures that are hidden within you?” with an emphatic HELL YES!
I hope that you will show up and make exploring your creativity a priority. It will enrich your life in ways you may never have imagined.
This week despite incredible exhaustion: I wrote two new Oodle Stories, I continued my book study of Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, I listened to a myriad of podcasts about creativity, I painted my final fan blade and I did some watercolor blob sketching.
How did you show up for your creativity this week?
The 25th anniversary revision of The Artists’ way by Julia Cameron has almost five thousand 4.5 star reviews on Amazon and a 3.9 rating on Goodreads with 100,000+ votes. People like this book and many people swear that it has changed their life forever. I definitely do not fall into that camp. I have my issues with the book’s religious preachy tone, but there are two aspects of it that I love: Morning Pages and Artist Dates.
The Morning Pages do not let you hide from the things in your brain (at least if you are taking the exercise at all seriously). Cameron points out that people often fall out of this practice when things are going well because they don’t feel the need to get anything off their chest. When they are feeling bad, they don’t want to face whatever is haunting them. Over the past five weeks of working my way through the book, I have 100% fallen into this camp. The past two weeks have been full of incredible highs and lows. During the highs, I felt I didn’t have anything I needed to write about. During the lows, well those were better locked away inside my brain. The resulting complete meltdown was evidence enough that I should stick to the daily practice to help me maintain an even keel. I started the Morning Pages thinking they were supposed to help with my creativity—not my mental health. What I did not realize was that by calming my heart and mind that I WAS helping my creative mojo. I have put my journal back on top of my desk and it has resumed its place on my daily agenda.
I did a lot of research on date ideas during the first week so that I could make sure I didn’t have an excuse to not go on one. My list has around 30 different ideas on it and ranges from trips to art stores to watching documentaries and people watching in the park. I specifically did not want to have my dates focused on spending money, but rather being inspired. My five dates have been VERY different, but have done exactly what they were intended to do—inspire me to delve deeper into my creative pursuits.
I do not quit or sew— despite having a nice sewing machine. I walked in with no notion of buying anything, but just to see what creative chord it might strike. I left inspired to tackle a simple project for my niece’s birthday made of materials I had sitting at home. What was most amazing to me about this project was that I had to adjust it to work with the supplies I had. I could have returned to the store, but I didn’t want to. Could I make it work.? Holy moly, I created a super cute stuffed owl that I can’t wait to send to my niece for her birthday.
I LOVE tea and have a ridiculous collection of leaves because I am incapable of passing up on something that will make a lovely pitcher of iced tea on a hot summer afternoon. I arrived after a short walk around downtown Batavia on a gloriously sunny day. The owner was excited to geek out on her offerings— and I was more than prepared to take it all in. There is nothing more inspiring than seeing someone get over the top excited about something— even tea leaves! Her storefront has a beautiful patio that is shaded by a gigantic tree. I took my canister of tea and found a spot to take in all the textures and shapes on the patio with my sketchbook.
I am pretty diligent about only doing solo dates, but I really thought my husband could benefit from a trip, too. The last time I was at our local Habitat for Humanity Restore, someone mentioned the Woodstock store was better. It was a bit of a drive, but it was worth the trip. The store was better organized and it had more selection. While I try hard to not treat my dates as permission to go on a shopping spree, I found an awesome set of ceramic light shades and a few tiles for a whopping total of $5.40. Our trip home brought us along the Fox River, where we discovered an awesome little pub called Rosie O’Hares. We had an amazing lunch straight out of their smoker. From there we headed to Great Spirit Hardwood in Dundee, where we picked out hardwood for the frame Tom is going to build for our Foodie Map. We literally just need the frame and this culinary adventure can begin!
Despite oppressive heat and humidity, I needed to get out of the house. This is how I ended up at the Elgin Farmers Market, which has really turned into a lovely little market. I completely violated my shopping spree rule, but I was so inspired by the hustle and energy of these local vendors that I wanted to do whatever I could to support their ventures. I returned home with coffee beans, tea leaves, Belgian truffles, Nutella filled cookies, three jars of BBQ sauce and a huge smile on my face. My adventures led to a beautiful home cooked meal with one of the sauces. This event was capped off by learning that someone had purchased one of the bricks I had painted for the Follow the Imago Brick Road campaign.
After the Sketchbook Revival, I signed up for any site that promised to keep my creative mojo flowing. Carla Sondheim was on that list. I try to keep up with the inspirational emails, but most weeks they get a quick glance and then are deleted. Something made me do a double take and keep reading about an upcoming on-line class called Imaginary Animals. The price was right for a 3.5 hour class and I was free. Within the first fifteen minutes I knew that this investment in my creativity was going to be worth every single penny. By the end of the afternoon, I was overflowing with ideas and inspiration to continue my learning.
Over the next few weeks, I am going to invest time into figuring out r how I will continue my dates once I return to school. That will be my biggest challenge going forward. I have definitely experienced the creative rewards of this practice. It will be a priority without a doubt!
I have a card on my shelf right behind me here in The Oodlearium that says Begin Anywhere (John Cage). And that my friends is exactly what I am doing today. I have wanted to do a weekly or even daily creative challenge to help people revive their creative mojo or perhaps even to tap into one they didn’t know they had. Alas life (and a pandemic) happened and here I am a year later and a year wiser. For the last year I have been scouring Pinterest for ideas on challenges (for myself and for others) and I fell into the “pin it and then do nothing with it” black pit of creative sadness.
That ends today! I went through all of my pins and I created a table of 36 activities that will serve as a creative challenge buffet for myself and hopefully for you. These ideas are supposed to serve as inspiration– as a springboard for you to do whatever gets your creative juices flowing. Yes, some of the ideas are super silly and perhaps even a bit childish. Isn’t a “bit of silly” just what most of us need these days? Don’t like writing? Then don’t do those…or perhaps do something that is a bit out of your comfort zone to shake things up a bit. Don’t have watercolors? Then try out those ideas with markers. Many of the activities have a hyperlink to a website with further explanation and examples. Others are self-explanatory. The activities that say “Be inspired by…” are invitations for you to forge your own path with minimal guidance.
I’m going to play along, too. I will post my adventures (and mis-adventures) with hashtag #creativitygrowshere. I hope you’ll join me on this journey!
When we returned from Spain I was craving new food experiences and conversation with new people who shared my love of food, new recipes and travel. I have belonged to a local Facebook foodie group for a few years. So when I conjured up the idea of an international potluck, I asked them first if […]
Yesterday I had coffee with a terrific friend at a new-to-me cafe called Kava Diem. Jen and I met during a Dick Pond Saturday morning run almost five years ago. We are affectionately called the Wonder Twins. We have the same name. We run at the same pace. We are goal driven doers. We love […]
A few weeks ago, the 52Frames challenge was “Break the rules.” I think the overall spirit of the theme was to break a compositional rule. However, I felt that I was not master enough in the different rules to intentionally break one, so I took a different spin. I broke a rule that all people […]
I wanted to immerse myself in every chance I could to explore creativity on our once in a lifetime trip to Spain. On our first walk through the quaint town of Bot, I immediately noticed the beautiful doors and windows. I made a mental note to take advantage of some free time to explore the […]
One of the tenants of a creative mindset is learning new things. What better time to do this than while on vacation in Spain? For as many times as we have stayed in an Airbnb, we had never tried out an Airbnb experience. I think that in my heart I knew that Barcelona was not […]
One of the pillars of the creative mindset is music. The guests at Matt and Cassandra’s wedding represented nine different countries. In an effort to have everyone represented during the reception, they asked guests to share 3-4 songs from their homeland. We heard music from India, Sweden, Ukraine, Mexico and of course Spain. Hearing all […]
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 […]
We knew as soon as we received the invitation to Matthew and Cassandra’s wedding we would do everything possible to attend. After all, how often do you receive an invitation to an intimate wedding in the rolling hills of Spain? Once we negotiated all the chaos of traveling internationally near the tail end of a […]
We recently returned from the trip of a lifetime to Spain. We spent eleven magical days enjoying the Spanish countryside and soaking up every last drop of life spice. It seems hypocritical to talk about feeling inspired after taking a dream vacation, because who wouldn’t? It makes me think of the time I had the […]
I haven’t had as much time this year to engage in the Sketchbook Revival funness, but I have selected a few sessions to try out. Two in particular lead to crazy fun shenanigans. Create Like a Kid Again! with Charlie O’Shield. I loved his playful spirit so much and got such a kick out of […]