cold hands, warm hearts

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Let no love go unspoken. I’m a romantic about my love life, true, but I’m also a romantic in general: I’m in love with the sincerity of friendships, the loyalty of family, the pride of communities, the history of cultures, the transcendence of stories, and the beauty of nature.  That’s right, I’m pretty wrapped up in love.

Can you guess which holiday is my favorite?  Hint: It comes in February and encourages us to be grateful for the people we love.
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Valentine’s Day gets a bad reputation from skeptics claiming the holiday is a consumer trap that alienates the lonely.  But that’s a pretty superficial description, isn’t it?

At it’s core, Valentine’s Day encourages us to reflect on the sources of love in our life, and then, in turn, speak out about that love.  Give sweet notes to your neighbors.  Bake cookies for your friends.  Let your children know they’re loved.  And, if you’re lucky, wrap your sweetheart in kisses.
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The Wall Street Journal published an article about the benefits of instilling gratitude in young children.  The study found that people with a “strong appreciation of other others reported having higher GPAs, less depression and envy and a more positive outlook than less grateful teens.” 

In my book, Valentine’s Day offers an ideal opportunity for reflecting on gratitude and sharing our appreciation for the people that brighten our world every day.  
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To get people thinking about ‘who they love’ (excuse the grammatical error, didn’t want to be stuffy about street art), I did a little Valentine’s Day inspired rah rah rah project.
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out of the blue

Unexpected pleasures stop us in our tracks and remind us that life is good.  These bits of joy disrupt our day as a reminder to enjoy the moment and focus on the little things.  A welcome distraction, right?  Street art is a simple way to send an inspiring message to the masses, and the distraction from daily activities is almost always appreciated.

To get in on the action, I planned a small street art project of my own.  Without the innovation, budget or scope of the artists above (click on the pictures to learn more about their artwork) I still figured I could make my neighbors smile by ‘eye-bombing’ inanimate objects.  What do you think?  Is my silly little project worth a smile?
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the sweetest pop-up art gallery

ImageEvery so often you meet someone that appears destined for greatness.  These people triumph over their circumstances, and the world just seems to work in their favor.  It’s hard to tell whether these people are turning tricks and making their luck, or whether the universe is conspiring to push them onward and upward.  Either way, it’s obvious that something wonderful is definitely in the making. 

I met Megan Doman by sheer chance, and when we started chatting about art, I knew she was a kindred spirit.  Megan studied interior design as an undergraduate, and then she started working for a design team in the Twin Cities.  Problematically, her passion for drawing and creating artwork kept her from feeling fulfilled at the office. 

Megan decided to turn her can’ts into cans and her dreams into plans: she quit her desk job, moved back home, set up an art studio, and dedicated herself to creating art.  I met Megan just as she was beginning a ‘sweet-indulgence’ collection, and I suggested that we showcase her talent in a ‘pop-up art gallery.’

Megan created ten original artworks for the show, and we created a makeshift gallery on the street behind my apartment.  An alternative way to gain exposure, sure, but Megan’s work deserves to be seen and enjoyed.  Pictures of the event are below, and if you want to bring Megan’s work from the alley into your home or office, visit her webshop.
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And y’all, Megan didn’t just show people pictures of tempting treats, she also fed them.  That’s definitely my kind of girl:
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Congrats on a great show Megan!!  

Also, another big thank you to Kristine at Apricot Lane in St. Louis Park.  She made sure that I was looking just as stylish as the artwork in that Chevron Top and Black Jeans. Thank you!

graffiti mural in downtown minneapolis

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Graffiti art has been on my bucket list for a while, so I decided to make an abstract mural with permanent marker on my favorite white wall in the city.
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Just kidding!

Did I getcha? 😉

What I actually did today was write letters to strangers on the backside of colorful construction paper, and then turned the notes into paper airplanes.  I placed the colorful planes around the University of Minnesota campus.
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The idea is that a stranger will take the plane out of the tree, and then the letter inside will come be a surprise.  A  discovery, of sorts.  Each letter is unique, and talks vaguely about the importance of taking chances.  When I was in college, I wasn’t entirely sure that studying art history was the greatest choice, but I had faith that the dots would connect down the line.  And you know what? Everything worked out better than I could have imagined.  Nothing at all went according to plan, however.

But still, the message that I wanted to share was simply to be patient, continue to follow your dreams, and don’t be afraid to take a risk.
ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageIsn’t the view of the city from the UofM bridge gorgeous?
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The bridge leads right to the art museum, and so, being me, I wandered into the galleries to see some art:
ImageImageImageImageImageAnd speaking of notes, have you seen the Disney short film The Paperman? It’s a ‘must see’ if you have 90 seconds: 

And just because this post is so quirky, I made you this:
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willy wonka wishes

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Candy walls? Check. Golden tickets? Check.  True love, street art, and candy all pop into my mind when I think about my favorite things.  All three things get all mixed up (probably because I feel true love for street art and candy), and it’s actually a little bit hard to decide which one is my favorite. Just kidding, Jon (you win, always).

But seriously, street art is one of my favorite things because it brings a little creativity and fun to the ordinary, and candy is a favorite because it’s an instant way to sweeten your day (and, as my dentist knows, I don’t just have one sweet tooth – I have sweet teeth).

Today, I combined 2 of my 3 favorite things to create edible street art. I think I will call it ‘sweet street art.’ That has a nice ring to it, no?
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My monogrammed ‘J’ bag by Irresistibles LLC works perfectly for sneaking candy all over the city.  The designer, Kari, makes all kinds of stylish monogrammed bags by hand.  As a perk for my readers, she is giving away this cute polka dot bag:

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For a chance to win, simply tell me something that makes you happy (use the ‘say hello’ tab at the top of the page.)

Oh- and if you’re in Minneapolis, head over to Bryant Square to find the golden ticket hidden in the smiley face 🙂

forest gumpin’ it for laughs

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i am a cubicle refugee.  once upon a time, i would arrive to my cubicle on the 25th floor of a magnificent mile building, and i would proceed to answer emails/attend meetings/take notes/write reports/organize conferences/do “whatever i’m told” for 8 hours straight.  okay, slight omission, i spent a little part of every day hoping that aladin would zoom up to my window and ask me to fly away on his magic carpet.

when i thought i might go crazy from dealing with all the complaints and numbers, i would email my favorite person in the www (whole wide world) and ask him to send me jokes. my brother always came through for me, and even one joke would make the day a little easier.  those daily giggles of yonder inspired me to hang jokes around the city to bright a stranger’s day:
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i’d been hanging signs for about 5 minutes when the laughter started — random people started pointing, giggling, and chatting about how goofy i was.  shortly after, however, something incredibly happy happened: people started following me.  the crowd was eager for more jokes, and so i asked people to help me hang.  the crowd made me feel like forest gump (the part where he because runs across the country and people start following him), and the fact that i could now compare myself to tom hanks (kind of, right?) made me very happy:
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i had quite a following by the end of the hour (i hung up 60 jokes — you can download them here), and i began handing out sheets of paper for people to hang on their own.  later that day, i came across two:
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This project was part of my RAH RAH RAH series – random acts of happiness. i’m committing them all the time, so stay tuned.