Archive for the ‘creativity’ Category

Little did I know when joining Corporate America that I would gain so many skills:  data analytics and excel formulas, project management, corporate event planning, process improvement, change management, margarita making, Halloween costuming, arts and crafts…

It is hilarious some of the skills I’ve discovered in the past several years – haha!  I didn’t even realize I liked costuming and crafts until my first week on the job when the annual Halloween costume contest was announced, and my boss (head of sales for our division) informed me in a very serious/competitive manner that we had to win.  “OK then!”  At first I scoffed that somehow I was put in charge of our team’s costumes…and now I’m a bit of a control freak taking charge and get really excited about it!

An application of orange face paint, about 20 styrofoam lollipops constructed, a toy gun set and a few golden tickets later, we had a winning team of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Bad photo – but that’s a chocolate waterfall in the background; some people thought it looked like a large gravestone or a woman’s behind, but thankfully the decorations weren’t the main judging points! (And some of the teammates here weren’t really dressed up but just joined the pic.)

Though our costumes year 2 were much better, I think the judges didn’t want the same team to win every year.

We made that entire UP! house out of cardboard, fabric, paper, and LOTS of hot glue gun sticks.  All the clothes were things we owned, and the only things we bought were the cane, doggie ears, collars (and other pieces to make them look like those in the movie), some white hairspray, bird feathers, and our little boyscout’s supplies.   Then I got to wear my bird costume again last year in return for a free burrito at Chipotle!  (dress like a farm animal –> win a free burrito)  Maybe sometime I’ll be the bird again, and Jon can be the boyscout.  (notice the background – that’s the house at Paradise Falls!)

This past year the theme was Rock ‘N Roll, so we took a twist on that and dressed up as the cast from The Sound of Music.  All costumes except the nun robes, knee socks, boy’s hat and suspenders (we made those by cutting apart a winter scarf and turning it into lederhosen straps) were from GoodWill.  I also scored on that GoodWill trip – the skirt I wore for Sound of Music is actually a Banana Republic seersucker skirt that I wore for real to work yesterday, and I also found another summer skirt and cardigan (not pictured here) from J.Crew that I wore last week.  Awesome!

Maybe one day this will turn into my quasi-dream of being the stage and music director, choreographer, makeup designer AND costumer for a musical…maybe just for my kids’ middle school production, but that would still be so fun!

Does your work do crazy things like this?  Surely it’s not just us…

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Weeks seem to pass so quickly doing a weekly Friday post!

1.  I’ve been delighted this week to have some lunch/dinner dates with girlfriends of mine – college friends, work friend, DC friends – so nice to find time to catch up on our lives.

2.  Since weeks start on Sunday (at least on my calendar), I can count Easter Sunday in this list!  What a glorious service we attended at Good Shepherd – organ, brass, choir, bells, and joyful voices shouting “He is risen indeed!”  Glad my parents were here to celebrate with us.

Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?

– 1 Cor. 15:55

Christ’s resurrection changes everything.

3.  Mason jars (I got a whole box of mason jars last year at a garage sale for $1!).  For flowers, for candles, anything!  Currently I’m enjoying the ones on my kitchen table with my grandma’s homemade doilies wrapped around them (makes for a nice effect when it’s dark!).

4.  Teaching my first violin student.  She’s only had 3 lessons so far, but we’re making progress, and it’s been fun!  Now if I could just get myself to practice…

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1.  I love these pink, fluffy trees! Please tell me if you know what they’re called!  They are so soft and whimsical – seem like they would be in the real life version of Candy Land or something.  Since the cherry blossoms came and went so early this year, I’ve been glad these pretty trees have bloomed longer and later, so I can keep enjoying all the pretty colors of spring!

2.  Singing again.  I am still dealing with singing angst and say things like “I used to sing”, but lately I’ve really enjoyed singing more around the house.  I found an amazing teacher in MD shortly after I moved here, but it’s tough to shell out the money for lessons when I’m not singing full time (or much at all).  Anyway, each time the springtime comes, I’m compelled to sing this song by Samuel Barber – one of my favorites. I also find myself singing “Were You There When They Crucified My Lord” each Easter season – another favorite to sing.  Doing chores at home isn’t nearly as bad while singing!

3.  Free apps, especially the cool Bible app that has a Lenten season reading plan. Great start to my commute each morning.

4.  Already talking with Jon about how we’ll dress up this year for Halloween – ha!  It’s never too early to start brainstorming.  I think I could pull off Mary Poppins, and he’d be a super hot chimney sweep, but the accessories would be a bit tough (though my sis did receive a parrot head umbrella for Christmas last year that I could borrow).  Last year we weren’t going to dress up for whatever reason, and then we found out last minute that Chipotle was giving free burritos to anyone dressed like farm animals. We just threw this together and ran down the street.  It was awesome (and I guess I was some sort of exotic farm animal). 🙂

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Another fun tidbit about my Pen-Friend, Marnie, is her charming artistic skills.  Many of her letters contain little sketches of maybe a bird “family” in her back yard, funny stories that just had to have a visual picture, sketches of family members, etc.  She told me once that Don was reading the scripture passage during Sunday school at church, and when he read the words “new disciples”, he somehow pronounced it like “noodisciples”, which sounded like “nude disciples” and left the class howling with laughter.  Marnie just couldn’t help herself and sent me the following sketch:


Even funnier was when she sketched me on a horse, the summer I worked at a dude ranch.  Funny for so many reasons:

1) I am so not the ranching type.
2) It was rather out of my character to spend a summer working at a ranch.
3) I only rode a horse maybe 2 times the entire summer because rather than being a real wrangler, I had the job of kids’ club leader, violin player, waitress, baby sitter, rock hauler, landscaper, hole digger, room cleaner, skit performer, pie-in-the-face victim, rodeo game player, line dancer, 18-passenger van driver…(what am I forgetting?)

But if we are thinking in terms of comic illustrations, then this is it!

All that said, the summer was FABULOUS and life changing in many ways.  How could it not be when I got to teach kids about Jesus, work with wonderful people, meet NFL players and Mac Powell (who called me “Miss Regan”), play my violin by a campfire on the top of a mountain, and wake up to this every morning?

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Good Stuff

A few things worth your time:

1)  Great article on the value of reading slow books – real literature, with plots and characters and themes.  Blogs and news articles won’t do.  Real literature is good for our brains, emotions, memory, health, our society.  Good stuff.

By playing with language, plot structure, and images, literature challenges us cognitively even as it entertains. It invites us to see the world in a different way, demands that we interpret unusual descriptions, and pushes our memories to recall characters and plot details. In fact…neuroscientists have found plenty of proof that reading fiction stimulates all sorts of cognitive areas—not just language regions but also those responsible for coordinating movement and interpreting smells. Because literary books are so mentally invigorating, and require such engagement, they make us smarter than other kinds of reading material…Researchers found that subjects who read Kafka’s “The Country Doctor”—which includes feverish hallucinations from the narrator and surreal elements—performed better on a subsequent learning task than a control group that read a straightforward summary of the story. (They probably enjoyed themselves a lot more while reading, too.)

2)  Josh Garrels, a musical artist Jon and I love and cannot listen to enough, is working on a film documentary about the creation of his music from the ground up (literally – some of the recordings are captured with the musicians sitting on rocks by the waterfront).  Really creative instrumentation, his unique and  enchanting voice, beautiful lyrics full of truth. 

3)  Garage sales.  Weather is getting warmer, and garage sale season has begun.  Look at your local Craigslist postings for this weekend, and see what treasures you can find!  See some of our favorite finds here.

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A neighbor of ours is often in his back yard using a power saw to cut wood and such.  Naturally this intrigued Jon, who then struck up a conversation with him to learn that our neighbor redid his entire kitchen himself (which Jon would like to do for ours in the coming months – exciting!).  Jon saw the kitchen and loved it, so he took me back to see how much they had changed and how well it had turned out.  We got to meet him and his sweet wife and their two adorable boys.  As we were leaving, the youngest (maybe 5 years old?) told us to wait because he was making us a book.  After some tears because it wasn’t quite turning out like he had hoped, we ended up with this fabulous piece of art on our refrigerator!

He even told us the story about a mom and a boy and…(couldn’t quite make out the rest, but I’m sure it was interesting!).  Then the older son let us know that even though Michael made us a book, he was going to perform for us.  He proceeded to engage in a light saber battle with himself.  I’m sure there’s never a dull moment once you have kiddos – especially boys!

It was a treat to know some new faces and be welcomed into their home (truly a “homely house” with doors flung wide!), and hopefully we will visit each other more!  I am always saying how tough it is to live in the suburbs and be far away from friends, but maybe we have some right in our back yard. 🙂

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A while back I found this CUTE Virginia map/craft idea on Etsy, and after trying to re-create it myself and majorly failing, I decided to put it on my Christmas wish list.  My bro and his wife got it for us (thanks!), and it now hangs in our entryway hall and is so sweet.

Since I started my Christmas list in September (a lot of things go on the Christmas list when I’m trying to budget and not buy them myself!), I guess maps were on my mind.  I decided to run with the map theme for Jon’s birthday last October, so I bought a large map to frame and document all our travels with push pins.  Well, the October birthday present was finally finished on March 18th – only a few months late.

I didn’t realize when I bought the map that framing it would be a problem – you cannot use glass if you want to put pins in the map, but you have to find just the right size – and how do you get a backing thick enough to put pins in?  I found the right sized frame on Craigslist, and it just so happened that the glass was already broken, so the lady gave it to me for FREE.  Awesome.  It was a bad cream color and looked really dated, so I did my first spray paint job.

We bought a tri-fold (yeah, I’m sure you haven’t seen one since middle school science fair) to use as the backing, and then I used spray adhesive to stick the map to the tri-fold.

(make sure to use this stuff outside – major fumes!  I used a chip clip and a heavy book to hold one side of the map in place, then I lifted up the other end of the map, used the spray adhesive, and smoothed it down.  Then I swapped the clip and book to the other side and did the same thing again.)

The tri-fold popped right into the frame, but I secured it with some packing tape to be safe, rearranged the hanging hooks, and voila!

I’m a quick worker and not always the most careful, but sweet Jon just had to open up google maps to make sure we put our pins in the VERY exact location for each trip (seriously – “that right there is highway 270..so go right just a smidge..wait, too far..put it right above the “M” in that word…er…further…ok”).  I got a bit impatient and then thought – what a doll he is for caring so much about our map!  Maybe it’s a fun crafty project for me, but I hope over the years this will be a great way to capture our adventures together.  Looks great on the huge empty wall in our basement, AKA Jon’s Man Cave.

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