something for nothing

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Tip more than you should. Be kinder than necessary. Remember what matters most. Simple truisms for good living, but lately I’ve been caught up on the “it’s what’s inside that matters most.” It applies 100% if we’re talking about people (The Little Prince says, “Beauty cannot be seen with the eyes — it must be felt with the heart,” and I couldn’t agree more) but what about when we’re talking about cream-filled cupcakes, books, gifts, and/or buildings?
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I mean, doesn’t the outside count at least a little bit? I don’t like cream-filling, I know I won’t like a book about bondage or vampires, pretty wrapping paper always helps, and good architecture makes me soon. So there. I feel a little guilty about this confession but it’s true: sometimes the outside really does matter.
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We’re visiting my family in Washington DC for the Fourth of July, and Jon’s parents are watching Kinzie for the week.  I wanted to thank them with something festive and sweet, and so I made firecracker rice krispy treats.  My own invention, simply dip rice krispies into white chocolate and cover with sprinkles.  A gift is even sweeter when you get to enjoy some of it, and so Jon and I snuck one (err 4) before giving the batch away.  I definitely recommend making these for others (errr yourself).
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Speaking of making something for yourself — I found vintage spice tins at an antique market, and I decided to make them into magnets.  A super easy project with three steps: 1) paint the tin 2) decorate with stickers 3) add a magnet.  Voilà!
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We’re flying out tomorrow, and it will be the first time Jon and I have seen fireworks together.  Can you believe that?  Every other year we’ve gone to his parents cabin where the fireworks are whatever we light-off the dock 🙂

Something for Nothing image made with the Rhonna Designs app 🙂

dash of lovely

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A few weeks ago, a friend said that our actions between 5pm and 10pm reveal our priorities.  She rationalized that most people spend 9 to 5 working for a paycheck, but that we make our own schedules after we clock-out.  When I got home, I mapped out my weekly activities to see if there was a correlation between my priorities and my weekly agenda.
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My findings?  I devoted the majority of my week to The Big Three (faith, family, friends) and also spent significant time pursuing creative passions (writing, photography, design), community projects (volunteering), and physical goals (yoga and running). That’s all fine, of course, but it seemed like something was missing.  Can you guess what it was?
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No – it’s not the pillows.  I’ve been wanting to make the pillows for a while, and today I had the time (and the fabric) to sew some beauties for the couch.  The missing element, however, was a growth experience.  I’ve pursued the same passions for years and years, and I felt something was needed to inspire change and expand thinking.
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My conclusion?  Volunteer with a new organization (I now tutor every Wednesday afternoon), work on a skill (I’m taking a writing class at The Loft), and meet new people (I joined a women’s group at church).  I’m two weeks into the tutoring program, and I’m positive my student has taught me more about life than I’ve imparted about reading and writing .  And as for the church group?  Instant respect and admiration for the women I’ve met.  The writing class begins in two weeks, so I’ll keep you updated on that front.
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The activities align with my original ‘priority categories,’ yet also inspire new ways of thinking about the things that matter most.  Part of me wants to try something more radical – run a marathon or take a business class – but the little changes will work for now.

How do you prioritize your time?  Do you look for growth-opportunities?

Like that keyboard photo?  Check out http://deathtothestockphoto.com/.  Graphics made with the Rhonna Designs app. 🙂

soulful goodness

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I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I like good blogs and the people that write them.  I was reminded of this fact when I posted a ♡2♡and received feedback that was not only kind, but wise and inspiring.
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Your sweet comments chimed in my head as I toured the Minnesota Institute of Art today, and I came to the conclusion that my readers are just as soulful as Matisse.
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Not sure you believe the compliment?  Well well well, Mr. Matisse said ”an artist should never be a prisoner of himself, of style, of reputation, of success.”  My readers offered the following thoughts on success (click photo to visit their blog):
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See the connection? Heart and soul and a whole lot of goodness in all these answers.
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I was and still am extremely grateful for your kindness.  Matisse (see above) would be impressed.  And speaking of kindness, check out this exhibit on compassion:
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Just lovely, right? I meditated for a good 20 minutes while passerby walked around and snapped photographs and chatted with their friends.  Gotta tap into that internal source.

come sail away

What if I told the truth when people asked me what I wanted for Christmas?  Would people be shocked if I revealed my true desires, or would they just think I was rude — or worse, joking?

Riding in a hot air balloon has been on my bucket list for a while not, but as requests for my ‘christmas list’ fill my inbox from mom, grandma, mother-in-law, and sister, I find myself wanting to tell people that I’d like a hot air balloon.

Not as a ride, per say, but as a mode of daily transportation.

Something to sit in my garage, next to my car, and ready for me to fire up (literally) whenever I’m craving some scenery and adventure.  How lovely does that sound?  Should I be honest about my wishes?  What would you ask for if cost weren’t an issue?

Aside from daydreaming about sailing over cornfields, mountain ranges, lakes and oceans, I’ve been getting into the holiday spirit by shopping for others and getting our Christmas cards ready to go.  Little Kinzie got a sweater as an early gift:
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Jon’s mom sent us this sweet ornament for St. Nick’s:
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We bought ourselves Ticket to Ride, and then had friends over for a game night:
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And, best of all, I convinced Jon to leave work and have lunch with me at The Depot. I was craving fish tacos and my sweetheart, and, well, we ended up getting to have a festive holiday lunch.  ImageImage
The Depot was decorated for Christmas, and when Jon started taking pictures of me in front of the tree, a nice man wandered over and asked if he could take pictures of both of us.  UM.. Yes! Thank you! He took a couple and now I’m making one of them into our Christmas Card.  Which do you like better?
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Anyway, y’all, happy holidays, and remember:
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tisket, tasket, lunch for lovebirds in my basket

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I’m the girl walking through town with a book in her arm and a camera around her neck. When I’m reading a book (the hours we spend in bed together is almost akin to dating), I translate the words into pictures, patterns, and designs, and the activity inspires some of my most creative thinking.  I’ll be contemplating the words as the author intended them, but against my own background, experiences, and hyperbolic mind, I often envision a story all my own.

I’ve read a great number of books in which a young person is mentored by an older guide.  These mentors are always filled with wisdom, and just eager to find a student that they can fill with their knowledge of history, people, and ‘the way things were.’  That said, I’ve always thought that it would be great to have one of these encounters on my own – maybe I would help a woman cross the street and then she would tell me all about how she fought for women’s rights.  Or maybe I would sit next to an older man on a bus, and he would tell me stories about Vietnam.  I’ve got a quarter century behind me, 26 good years, but I’m yet to have one of these mysterious encounters that are so prevalent in novels.

And so, I planned a rah rah rah experiment that would make a stranger happy by planning a picnic for them.  And yes, I was secretly thinking that I would end up hearing tales of yonder all night.

To set the scene: I packed a basket with three turkey bacon wraps, a few bags of popcorn, and some pepsi-cola.  I took that basket to the park, and then I proceeded to scan the area for strangers that might want to have lunch with me.  The first woman I approached appeared to be about 70, and she was reading a novel under a shady tree.  Perhaps she was reading a novel about an elderly woman who mentors a young girl, and wishing someone would approach her with a picnic lunch.  Something told me we might be the perfect match for one another.
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I approached the woman and told her about my project, and then invited her to have lunch with me.  she smile gracefully, and then explained that her food allergies made eating with a stranger impossible.  Well fine, fair enough.  I had expected that preparing a meal for a stranger would have some trials (Jon is allergic to seafood, peanuts, zucchini, and squash, and he refuses to eat fruit or vegetables.  You could say I know a thing or two about being picky eaters).
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But I wouldn’t be defeated.  I approached a young couple holding hands on a bench, and explained my project.  Free food? They asked.  I smiled, showed them the contents of the bag, and then plopped down between them.  Suddenly date crashing seemed much more fun than learning about women’s rights and Vietnam.  And so, I spent the next hour hearing about how they had met at the park 2 months ago, and spent every day together since.  He was at college in Duleuth, and she was a senior in high school two hours south.  They were planning to make it work.

It was incredibly happy to share a meal with them and listen to the story of their summer romance.  And as for them, they seemed pretty amped-up about the free food.  Happiness all around.
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The amazing photographer Joy Lengyel made this picnic look like a photoshoot for Martha Stewart, right?  Check out her work, and maybe send her a sweet note (why not?)

Oh, and good news: Jessica Gerke won the scarf give-away from AllThingsAccessories.  Jessica, take a look at the shop, choose a scarf (teal and red retro bird, pink chevron, yellow and grey flower, or blue bird) and send me your address.  Congratulations!

naked cake party in the streets

A gathering without cake is just a meeting.  Cake transforms events into parties, and the sweet treat has been the honorary centerpiece of birthdays and weddings for centuries.  Last night I threw a party in the streets, and i brought … Continue reading

good books and the people that read them

Imagei like good books and the people that read them. i enjoy the lyrical quality of words playing together, and when i find someone that enjoys books as much as i do, i know i’ve found a friend. today my random act of happiness went a little, well, not-so-random in an effort to make my fellow readers smile.

i made simple bookmarks out of construction paper, crayons and pins, and then i hid them in novels throughout my favorite minneapolis bookshop.ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

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step into my photobooth and show me your happy

Imagemy RAH RAH RAH (random acts of happiness) series continued today with a popup photobooth.  the idea for this project was simple – i would create a happy sign with arrows, and then ask people to ‘show me their happy.’  pretty efficient way to make people happier, right? sort of the whole ‘if you want to be happy, be’ mantra.  i began by making the most obnoxious neon sign possible:ImageImageImagei hung the sign in an alley off the popular Lake Street and BAM — popup photobooth is ready to go.  the more interesting part of this experiment came when i asked people if they would like to step into my photobooth.  i felt a bit creepy (wouldn’t you?).  despite the creepiness, the majority of people stepped inside and asked me to take a couple of different photos for them.  and, you know what? they looked pretty happy about it.  mission accomplished:ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImagethe popup phototbooth got me thinking about how nice it is to be happy on a monday. it seems like people spend so much of monday, tuesday, wednesday, and thursday waiting for the weekend. so much of the year waiting for vacations and holidays.  the thing is, all the waiting just takes away from the happiness of now.  that said, step into my photobooth and show me your happy (these two sure did):ImageImageImage

maybe she’s a wildflower? flowers for strangers

i went to the farmer’s market early this morning to get fresh ingredients for my supper club tonight.  there is something inspiring about the market — the bright colors, the fresh fruits and vegetables, the artisans and farmers proud of their work.  visiting has always been a source of inspiration, and today was no exception.  after i selected the vegetables for my dinner dish,  i wandered over to the florist to select flowers. i got a little excited about the $5 price tag, and so i bought three enormous bouquets:Imagejust holding the flowers made me about as giddy as my random acts of happiness experiment, and so i decided to do a similar project.  everyone loves flowers, right?  perhaps a fresh bouquet would brighten someone’s day.  i broke the bouquets into smaller bundles, and then i meandered to the park to disperse the fresh buds:ImageImageImageImageImagei would say the experiment was definitely successful — all the recipients seemed happy to be given flowers by a stranger.  mission complete.  here are some other fun pictures from the market:ImageImageImageImageImage