School Stress

School is upon us again.  I can remember from my school days that school days were some of the most stressful in my life.  What are some creative things you can do to help your child deal with school stress (or help you as a parent or school teacher)?

After School Snack:  They need to eat anyway, so get them involved in making the snack.  This offers them a great distraction and break between school and homework.  It gives them a chance to release school stress and gets the creative juices flowing so they can complete their homework with a fresh attitude and full stomach.

Friday/Weekend creative project:  Having a special creative project to do during the weekends or on Fridays after school gives the kids something to look forward to.  Planting flowers, painting, clay, making wood cars with their dads (or moms!), or something else special.

Homework: Let them display their creative abilities with the homework.  If they think up a new creative idea (something other than a poster), let them ask the teacher if they can do it for a project.  Let them show their creative, entrepreneurial, fun sides, or whomever else they are, through their homework.

Most importantly, talk with them. Hear them out when they’re frustrated and help them be creative.  Ask for their input for snacks and weekend projects.  Encourage them as they do their homework.

What creative projects do you do to relieve school stress? (share below)

Exposing Painting

Painting is one of the oldest forms of art expression in the world.  From old cave paintings, to Van Gogh, to today, painting has captured, revolutionized and intrigued the world.  Painting is one of my favorite creative expressions, from finger painting, to painting pictures, to decorating objects, I love it all.

There are so many different painting styles.  I was looking at several pictures recently that were both floral, but both were softer and less defined.  I prefer details, and edges and shape, rather than soft and undefined pictures.  I’m not talking geometric when I say edges and shape, some simple, beautiful, floral pictures can have edges and shape, but not look flushed out and ethereal. Yet, many people do find less defined pictures appealing.  And I do believe artists who can create either picture are very talented and their work should be appreciated.  Here’s a few pictures from Google to illustrate what I’m saying:

Painting is incredible because not only do you produce beauty you can showcase in your home, you also can share or sell your creations too.  If you want to keep your paintings to yourself, perhaps sharing your artistic painting talents on glassware or collectibles is a more appealing option for you.  I find painting helps me to relax, focus completely on the painting and not on my life as well as helps me feel and be more creative in other areas of my life.

There are tons of places, including Etsy, Total Art Soul and 1000 Markets that you can showcase (and sell) your art on.  So I encourage you to get out there, be expressive, choose a style and be yourself!  What are you going to create today?

End of Summer Parties

My favorite season of all is coming to an end!  I’m definitely not looking forward to cool weather that seems to be sweeping in a little early here in the northeast USA.  Of course I want to send the summer out with a bang, so today we’re going to talk about end of summer parties!

Grill party: Having some fun relaxing in the back yard around the grill, cooking veggie burgers, hot dogs, corn on the cob, and other favorite summertime foods is a great way to end the summer.

Pool party: Relaxing in the pool, eating watermelon, having water balloon fights, and doing other fun water-related games in the backyard.

Beach party: One last day at the beach for the summer! Visit the boardwalk, splash in the ocean, make a sand castle, play volleyball, dig to China, and have a clam bake!

Waterpark party: Great for a weekend getaway with family or friends, riding rides, splashing in water, and eating park food; no cleanup and little planning involved.

Road trip:  One last road trip for the summer.  Go hike a national park, visit a zoo or go see relatives.  Don’t forget the picnic lunch!

How are you going to spend the last week of summer before school starts and things swing into fall mode? (share below)

RESPECT the Break

Have you experienced the overwhelmed, completely done, feeling lately?  Maybe you’re kids were acting crazy, or you were so busy with work that you were just frustrated and exhausted.  Can you even remember the last time you had a few minutes to yourself?  Today as we think about getting back on the track of life, I want to talk about taking a break.

Why should we R.E.S.P.E.C.T. taking a break?

Rest is important for your body.  If you consistently work your body down to the wire, your body will eventually force rest upon you in the form of an illness or something else.

Enjoying life is essential.  If you’re not taking breaks chances are good you’re not taking time to enjoy life.  Sitting down and appreciating all that has become part of your life is important.

Socially you will be more fun.  It’s no fun to get coffee/drinks with someone who is yawning the whole time or complaining about how much they have going on.  Taking a time-out will help you have better relationships.

Psychologically it’s essential to give your brain a rest.  If you’re hyped up on the challenges at work and the problems at home, your brain can’t catch up and connect everything.  It will eventually require, like your body, a rest.

Enhanced creativity is often the result of a break.  You’ll have the breakthrough you’ve been struggling to get for the past hour if you step away for a bit.

Calm, relaxed direction is often the result of a break. You’ll feel fresh and ready to take on your creative projects.

Time is actually not lost but gained if you take a brief break.  Taking a nap when you’re body’s yelling at you will help you be more productive the rest of the day.

I would love if you would share what you do during breaks below!

The Brave Ones

It’s not always easy to be an artist.  From the description of ‘starving artist’ to the measly amounts some individuals get for their gorgeous masterpieces, artists don’t always have the respect they deserve. We also get a ton of criticism for our work!  From those who don’t like it, to those who don’t understand it, to those who don’t care to at least appreciate the work you have done, some days you want to throw in the towel. So what can we do after a particularly trying day, difficult client meeting or poor review of our art?

First and foremost, love what you created.  If you don’t love it, no one else will.  Loving your art, whatever your designs look like, and whatever they’re created using, is the first step to other people enjoying it too.

Second, to a point criticism is important.  We can’t become better artists without a little feedback from clients, teachers or fellow artists.  Yet too much criticism can dash an artist’s creative spirit.  It is important to remember that the criticism is not about you but about your design.  I know it’s hard to separate the two, but if you are going to keep doing your creative gift, you need to realize they do like you, and can help you improve your art.  (But if it’s an exceptionally strange, poor review, don’t take it to heart; maybe they just had a really bad day!)

Finally, look at the reviews and success stories.  Keep records of the great things you have created and people who have adored your work.  It will be easier to move past the criticism if you have some positive feedback to balance it out.

I want to close by adding a BIG thank you to all of you out there who continue to create and be creative.  What you have is a very special gift, don’t be afraid to keep sharing it!

What are some other techniques you use to get through the ‘starving artist’ days?

Beachy Favors

Last week I talked about different events you could have on the beach.  This week, as I’m inundated by wedding pictures from the 6+ couples I know that were married this past weekend, I couldn’t help but share some gorgeous beach themed wedding favors with you.  Here are 10 creative ideas for you!

Fans: These gorgeous fans are more decorative than many, but they were so inviting I couldn’t resist!

Beach Bookmarks: Not only would these be great for save the date, but they also are gorgeous reminders of your special day!

Kids Pail: Not to be excluded, I came across these adorable, and creative, pails just for your youngest guests!

Ornaments: Gorgeous memories of someone’s beach wedding will be remembered even in the cool of winter! (Hang them on your Christmas tree, or anywhere else!)

Candle Holder: This beach scene fits right in with your wedding decor!

Wine Glass: If you’re hosting a small wedding or destination wedding and want to give something special, these glasses are unique!

Bottle Stopper: Keeping in the theme, next is a cute sandy bottle stopper.

Salt and Pepper Shakers: These cute fish are great memories and functional too!

Picture Frame: Give your guests a gift that they can use to remember the fun all of you had together.

Cookie Cutters: No matter what your cooking preferences, beach cookie cutters are a great gift for all ages!

Share your suggestions for beach themed wedding favors below!

Spice it up a Notch!

One of my favorite ways to spend time with myself, relax and rejuvenate is to cook.  Whether I’m adding fresh herbs and rice to a dinner, baking cookies, or cooking from scratch, cooking is an excellent way to reconnect with yourself and relax.   Here are some of my favorite recipes (my recipes vary a little but I’ve included links to similar ones):

Sloppy Joes

Cupcakes

Tuna Sandwiches

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chai Tea

Vegetable Soup

Calzone

If you’re tired of cooking, or eating the same old thing, spice it up with a variation on ingredients, or add some spice to kick up the flavor or heat level.  Cooking, just like life, doesn’t have to be boring.  We’ve all go the option to add some excitement or let it be dry and boring.

My challenge to you: What would you do to spice up my favorite recipes?! Share your suggestions (and favorite recipes) below.  (My favorite spiced up recipe will be mentioned here and you will be credited!)

Stimulating Creativity

Today I thought I would share some great creative resources and ideas.  Of course, you can go online and search for project ideas, so rather than share more of the obvious, I thought I would share some out of the ordinary.

Twitter: check out what other individuals are creating.  Perhaps you can think of complimentary items.   For example, if you do wood crafting, make a jewelry box that compliments some of the jewelry you see shared.  Or stained glass projects to compliment garden projects.  Or you may be inspired by the colors of a necklace and use the colors in your next painting.

Craft stores: The giant craft retailer Michaels (based in 49 states and Canada) has in-store project ideas on cards you can pick up, as well as an email newsletter with project ideas.  Jo-Ann fabric and craft stores features a large selection of project ideas on their website, as well as in-store.

Sale catalogs: Looking through the myriad of catalogs you receive in the mail is another way to see what more creative/artistic/beautiful or complimentary items you could create.  Maybe you like one part of a featured item, and another of something else and could combine them or use them as the inspiration for 2 separate projects.

Farmers and Flea Markets:  You can not only find unique old pieces that you can add to your collection here, or modernize, you can also find ideas.  Maybe you’ll be taken by the beautiful color of an eggplant or drawn by the curves of an old mirror.  The scent of a herb could inspire a new recipe, or an old photo could inspire you to bring back to life a sculpture.

What are your favorite, and different, sources of information, resources and ideas for your creative projects?

Beachy Keen Events

I love the beach!  In today’s event post I thought we would consider hosting some events at the beach!  Let’s start with the obvious one:

~Weddings: Every year more individuals choose to have their wedding at the beach, or on a tropical island.  Hosting the wedding at a beach is a great way to get great atmosphere and beautiful pictures for your wedding.  Some negatives include sand between the toes of your guests, and the possibility of getting wet in your beautiful clothes.  Make sure to hold on tight to your kids so they don’t run to play in the water!

~Company picnic:  What a great way to get the company out of the office, out of their homes and into the fresh air!  Hosting your next company get-together at the beach is a fun and easy way to bring everyone together. You can set up the food under a tent, whether you ask everyone to bring something, or have it all catered.

~Kid’s birthday party: No party favors needed this year!  Let the kids fill their own goody bag with sand, shells and rocks.  Bring along an extra adult to help supervise water activities.  You could have a sand castle building activity with a prize for the most creative or artistic sand castle too!  Bringing your own food, with the promise of an ice cream treat is an important way to save money when kids are involved.

~Special occasion: No house cleaning needed! Meeting at the beach to celebrate is a great way to do something different (for most city/large town folk) and get out in nature with your friends.  Don’t forget to be considerate of those who have difficulty walking on the sand, and make sure there are enough chairs to go around.

I invite you to share your experiences (and horror stories!) with beach events below.

Connecting with Nature

Today as we talk about healing, I was yet again thinking about how important nature is in our healing.  Two specific techniques I want to share are a grounding meditation and nature time.

Grounding Meditation: There are several variations on this technique, all involve a process of reconnecting you, through meditation, with the earth. I include links for 3 but if you search for ‘grounding meditation’ in your favorite search engine you may find a style that better resonates with you.  Also, using YouTube to find a video of a grounding meditation, that you can listen to while you practice, is also helpful (I included 2).

-Spirit Connection’s Grounding Meditation

-Lotus Heart’s Grounding Meditation

-Health Help’s Grounding Meditation

-YouTube: Video 1Video 2. (Remember it doesn’t matter what someone/the video looks like, you’ll just be listening!)

Nature Time: If you’ve tried meditation and it hasn’t really resonated with you, you can try simply immersing yourself in nature.  If you have a backyard or secluded park you can visit, take some time to be there, at least 5-10 minutes daily.  This involves sitting on the ground, grass, a rock, a towel/blanket, your shoes or something else, preferably not a chair.  The objective is to really physically connect with the earth and nature.  If you are in your backyard, you could sit on the lowest house/deck step and have your feet on the grass/ground.  Sit there quietly for 5-10 minutes, letting your body reconnect with the physical earth, listening to and absorbing the different sounds of the birds and animals, and appreciating the flowers, trees and nature’s little details around you.  Set the intention that you will rest there quietly and just be.  No i-pods, mp3 players, or computers allowed!  Let your thoughts be what they will, and try not to think about what else you have to do that day, but if you find you have ‘light bulb moments’ of inspiration during your daily nature time, it’s a good idea to bring a pad and pen with you.

These two techniques will get you on your way to connecting with yourself, releasing the stress of each day, enjoying nature, and being a stronger, happier, more complete human.  What do you find most soothing, or invigorating in nature?