Winter White and The Frozen Bubble Equation

Randy Pausch quoteWe are covered in white and dreaming of a Crayola summer.  White is just the boss of a Midwestern winter.

IMG_6952 It paints the sky above and the ground below.  And, white touches everything in between.


Mercury milestones create a “should I stay or should I go?” conundrum.  Go outside or hibernate?

IMG_6950 To tip the scales in favor of outside on subzero days I found a little hobby a few years ago.  You might recall other posts on the topic of frozen bubbles and my pursuit to find the most effective recipe for creating the magical spheres.  (To go back in time click here or try this click.)

Last week, I tested a new formula.


IMG_5472Wait for it…

IMG_5498In the snap of a second, I witnessed these bubbles freeze in mid-air and gently land as frozen gems.

IMG_5440Occasionally they shattered on impact.  But most landed intact with soft precision, as if honored to be blessed with a long life expectancy.   Sometimes the wind caught the orbs and they rolled on waves of snow.  The point is… this bubble solution worked.  Over and over again.  The temperature was likely  an important factor (it was -4 degrees), but this bubble formula produced the best results.

IMG_5471The burst of serendipity?

The magic didn’t arrive in a DIY recipe.  No creative solution to report.

I found the formula in the most unlikely place.

IMG_6871The secret ingredient is in the Crayola formula.  Not your ordinary bubbles…. Can you stand the irony?  I am giving up on my homemade bubble recipes and relying on Crayola.

IMG_6978Bubbles offer a fresh lens for seeing wonder.  I hope your weekend is filled with moments of delight.

Please check out Matthew Mayfield’s stellar song, Cold Winds.  Or try Coldplay’s new track, Miracles from the Unbroken Original Motion Picture Soundtrack.  Did you see the movie?  The power of Louie Zamperini’s survivor’s spirit is all I can think about.

My One Little Word: 2015

IMG_5079Hope you are stepping into the New Year with a joyful heart.  Perhaps you read my last post about the one little word initiative as an alternative to resolutions.

I was feeling some pressure to find my word since the calendar flipped.  A friend suggested I simply select “be.”   Excellent idea, but I am feeling more bee.  I also felt like it was within my reach, but each time I leaned in to grasp it, the word slipped away.  Elusive, little pesky string of letters that it is.  For the record, it is not hen.  Perhaps that emerged as you looked at the photo above.  Although a year dedicated to building a coop and raising chickens is appealing.

IMG_5046 I considered my one little word as the clever, yet confusing… word.  You know… more writing and studying His word (the Bible).  But I hit the pause button on that; along with the suggested “be”.  Someday.

IMG_5072 Then, with little fanfare and while totally preoccupied in the middle of a restaurant, I tuned into a song playing via the speaker above my table.  Of course, my word was delivered on the silver platter of a song!  It had been making appearances everywhere, but it wasn’t until I heard it, that I claimed it.  Riding on those lyrics, I knew it as sure as the sun will rise.

IMG_5060The contemplating ended in that moment.


IMG_4967Did you discover your word!? I am sitting here patiently waiting to hear from you!!!

Please share your word in the comments.  I would love, love, love to hear from you.

Without further ado…my 2015 word!

IMG_5107It is already propelling these mantras!

Unleash your Joy

Choose Joy

Scatter Joy

Jump for Joy

Find Joy in the Ordinary

 IMG_5334In case you are wondering about the song that sealed the deal, it was “Overjoyed” by Matchbox Twenty.

* Spillover II was created by one of the most talented public artists, Jaume Plensa, best known for his interactive “Crown Fountain” in Chicago’s Millennium Park.  Spillover II is 8-foot-tall and was created entirely with stainless steel letters.  It sits overlooking Lake Michigan in Shorewood, Wisconsin.  I shot these photos on 1.1.2015.

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After claiming my word, I found joy in a bag of caramel popcorn and as the lone visitor to the “Crown Fountain.”


I hope you join me on the one little word journey (full credit to Ali Edwards who pioneered the idea!).

Happy, Joyful

New Year! 


Living with Intention

intention quote ordinary creativeToday’s all about reflecting on 2014 and being grateful for its blessings.  Did you select one little word* for 2014 and invite it along for this trip around the sun?  I rambled about my word back in a first quarter review so I intend to keep this brief today.  Click here to hop to the review!  Or, click here to read a love letter to my 2012 word (create).  For the record, I still have a sweet spot for my 2010 word (breathe).  I don’t know how a simple word can manifest its way into one’s life; but I wholeheartedly believe in the power of this practice.

IMG_0305My mind often runs like a track athlete (it runs in circles).  It leap-frogs across a pond of chaos and floods with ideas.  Determining which ideas to plant and cultivate is a regular dilemma.  Which is why the word intention kept raising its hand during the fall of 2013 with a bossy “pick me” attitude.   Let’s just say intention proved to be a soul-stretch.

It lead to manifesting some awesome outcomes but that was balanced by desperate fails.  Ardent dreaming and futile tears.  Cups of truth and shameful lies… all equating to 365 days of living the human paradox.  Intention was not my constant companion like prior words.  This little word will require more than a year of devotion. But it is like that Foy Vance song… it is now my Guiding Light.

intention memo word of the year

I have been fishing for my 2015 word.  Has your word surfaced?  While brainstorming with my daughters I teased them that I might select P L A Y.  As in… more theater and more fun.

Other words up for consideration include adore, bloom, carpe diem, develop, emerge, faith, joy, nature, nurture, nourish, quest, sacred, thrive, trust, wonder and well, the list goes on.  I am leaning toward carpe diem simply because it seems like two for the price of one.  I can’t wait to hear about your 2014 journey and plans for 2015 and of course your word!  I will unveil mine as soon as I sign the contract.

Sending you blessings and j o y for the next 365 days.  Catch you on the calendar’s flip side…

light a light lyrics—-

*The one little word project originated from Ali Edwards, scrapbook designer and life artist.  She will be kicking off another year of her One Little Word offerings.  Pop over to her blog for brilliant tips.

A beautiful version of “Light a Light” available via this link.

Repeat the Sounding Joy: DIY Marquee Sign

heaven and nature sing

I hope all is merry and bright in your corner of the world.

In case you are searching for a last-minute, homemade gift from the heart…

create JOY!


I used 13.5 inch jumbo letters from Hobby Lobby for this project.  Apply a coat of paint and allow time for the paint to dry and eat some cookies.  Once dry, drill holes using a drill bit the size of the tiny bulb on your LED battery operated lights (again, I found mine at Hobby Lobby).  I didn’t measure before using the drill.  I just drilled where I thought the lights might look good.  Add a few batteries and insert the lighted tips into the holes that you drilled.  Do a little cleanup on the flip side, taping off the leftover lights and cords.  A dot from a glue gun helps to anchor each light to the back.


Maker’s Gonna Make Make Make



Trust me: this is an easy project.  The hardest part for me was finding the drill!



 Focusing on the little things:  the simple + the divine = JOY.


IMG_4525 Intention ornaments from last year.


Music tip:  I bet you thought I would recommend this song… I would, but I can’t stop listening to Ben Howard’s Every Kingdom deluxe album.  I am here to say:  it is fantastic.

Here he is singing Silent Night.


Choose joy.  Especially in the chaos.

Repeat the Sounding Joy!


Holiday Intentions and 10 Creative Gift Ideas!


Sometimes I have to slice life into tiny pieces to understand anything. Chop, dice and toss: all in an effort of understanding and stitching together thoughts on why suffering seems to lurk in every corner.   Individually what can we do to collectively make a difference?  How can ordinary gestures add up to anything in a complicated and divided world?  My mind stalls while my heart processes instantly and an internal struggle always ensues.

In the season of overwhelm (admittedly self-induced); I am attempting to embrace Advent with lofty goals like grace and empathy and plans to sprinkle gestures of kindness.

I am implementing a teeter totter strategy this December.  It likely sounds crazy… but let me try to explain.


Consider balance as a beacon.  Its all about trying to counter my own disingenuous holiday plans and selfish actions (or reactions – like annoyance in line at the post office) with meaningful random acts of generosity.  The key word of course is: trying.


Since I am a fly by the seat planner, I am making it up as I go of course.

Perhaps you will want join me?  The teeter totter has two seats and maybe you can bring me up when I am down.  Please?








A few humble examples…

Yesterday I was tired, cranky and on the edge of unleashing angst in my house.  So, I left with my camera before I threw out words I knew I would regret.  I found the church aglow featured in the photo above.  A ten-minute detour to a calm heart.

Last week, I stopped at my local GW (Goodwill) and downsized the items in my car.  The “stuff” wasn’t destined for donation, but since I hadn’t taken the time to unload them in a couple of weeks (coat, books, wine rack, etc.), I decided I should release them with an open heart.  Kinda hard for someone who saves ribbon shreds for future projects and still wears her high school cross county sweatshirt.  It’s easy to donate the things I proclaim we no longer need.  In this case, I wasn’t the boss of what I was donating; and it was way harder than it should have been.

While shopping for others, I ended up with a couple of gifts for myself.  I know I should have returned them immediately.  But they are books and I feel like I need them and that books don’t count as selfish indulgences.  My car was parked in front of a laundromat so I countered the behavior by digging for every quarter I could find and I handed them all over to a random stranger inside.  Her smile brought a little equilibrium to my day and I hope it buoyed the recipient’s experience with the washers and dryers.  See how the teeter totter works?

Trusting that even letting someone check out ahead of me in line at the grocery store might make someone’s day.  Ordinary and simple gestures so far.  I hope to connect the dots of December with an extra ounce of grace.  Join me?  Love to hear from you in the comments!!!

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10 Creative Gift Ideas!

1.) Do you shop Sevenly?  The company exists to bring funding and awareness to the world’s greatest causes.  Every item purchased on gives $7 to the designated charity.  To date, Sevenly has donated more than $4 million to various charitable organizations.  I love the dreamer shirt I bought last summer and I purchased Sevenly gifts today (for others :).  The gift that gives.


2.) A wise teacher recently suggested a powerful book: Steal Like an Artist, by Austin Kleon.  I read it once and re-read again so I could write my ideas all over its pages!  Mr. Kleon’s message centers on the theme that creativity is everywhere.  And that creativity is for everyone.  It’s a small book, but full of heart.  Another recent read was Shooting with Soul by Alessandra Cave (loved).

3.) Print and frame beloved photos to give to others.  It is like a somersault; easy to convert digital images to the physical world, but we don’t always do it.

4.) Create a set of coasters!  Check out this link for a tutorial.

5.) Hop over to Minted and create a watercolor photo gift! How delightful, right?

6.) Enroll someone in one of Ashley Ann’s two SnapShops online photography workshops.   One class focuses on learning to shoot manual with a DSLR camera and the other focuses on phone photography.  I took the DSLR class last year and found the course content, as well as her interactive teaching style, terrific.  Her blog is awesome too!


7.) Find and gift a heart-shaped rock.  Include a note about the power of finding hearts in nature!  Or include a book on the topic like All the Love in the World or Find it in Everything.

8.) Plan an experience gift (concert, hike in woods, creative night or insert your creative experience idea!).

9.) Invest in a deck of Vision Quest creative photo assignment cards.  This is the perfect tool to spark creativity and encourage artistic growth with photography.  This product was developed by the wise instructor who lead a recent photography retreat that I attended.  In his words… “I offer these Vision Quest cards to help jump-start your creative process and invite the power of intuition into your photography.”   -Douglas Beasley

10.) Gift a some songs!  Rivers in the Wasteland on vinyl by NEEDTOBREATHE?  Or my friend Keith Pulvermacher’s cd, Midwestern!  Music – the fuel for creativity.

Go forth and sprinkle kindness and creativity!


*I feel compelled to share that I am not an affiliate with any company.  If I ever do become an affiliate, you will be the first to know.

Lyrical Photos: Name that Song

wonderful world

Music: the common thread stitching the ebb and flow of life together.

into the mystic

How can lyrics tap places in your soul that words alone can’t touch?  Maybe its poetic ambiguity, enabling lyrics to become personal. They often perfectly align emotions and anchor memories.  Tremendously grateful for musicians and the soul nourishment of their artistic expression.  Tonight my photos collide with some beloved lyrics. Can you name each source song title and artist?

beatles lyrics dear prudence

blackbird lyrics

drops of juniper lyrics

fix you lyrics

speed of sound lyrics

say what you need to say

i and love and you

long live the heart

album 2

The inspiration source songs!

wonderful world





“What a Wonderful World,” Louis Armstrong

into the mystic




“Into the Mystic,” Van Morrison

beatles lyrics dear prudence





“Dear Prudence,”The Beatles

blackbird lyrics





“Broken Wings,” Mr. Mister

fix you lyrics



“Fix You,” Coldplay


drops of juniper lyrics





“Drops of Jupiter,” Train

speed of sound lyrics




“Speed of Sound,” Coldplay

say what you need to say





“Say,” John Mayer

i and love and you




“I and Love and You,” Avett Brothers

long live the heart







album 2



“More Heart, Less Attack,” NEEDTOBREATHE



And, in a face the lens leap of bravery…

smile lyrics

I would love to hear which lyrics your memories ride upon.  Please share them in the comments.

Thinking Outside the Frame: DIY Photo Frames

Paradise Springs, Eagle, WI

Paradise Springs, near Eagle, WI

It is funny how creative inspiration is delivered through nature’s treasures.  After visiting Paradise Springs last weekend, I can’t stop thinking about the endless photo possibilities within this state park. And the power of thinking outside the frame.

I just finished a project channeling my inner Edward Scissorhands.  I loved that clever movie and the story of Edward, who in spite of his inherent ability to hurt someone, was actually a gentle soul whose only wish in life was to be loved.  Classic.

Let’s just start at the end (for once).


This was a leap from my previous tile projects (tiny tiles and coasters).   It all started with my photo printed at 11” x 17″ on paper at my local Office Max.  I combined the print with a $9 grid of tiles from Home Depot.  My strategy for transferring the paper to the tiles was simple (no pencil marks or measuring).  I scored the paper photo against the tiles, row by row and column by column, and trimmed each square based on the paper imprint.  Matte Mod Podge served as the adhesive to attach each photo square to each tile.


The scissor work is easier than it looks and the repetition (literally 30 “cut and pastes”) is therapeutic.  Once finished, I attached the resulting photo grid of tiles to a thin watercolor canvas panel base, which I had painted dark brown before attaching the tiles.  The canvas panel just happened to fit inside this open black frame.


Have you seen the new Kelly Rae Roberts intention ribbon?  Love at first sight.




I especially love the distressed wooden spool which I converted to a photo display!


I started by creating a narrow photo collage of some amazing photos I recently received.  Each photo helped me reach back in time, unfolding stories about my grandparents, complete with notes written in pencil on the back in my grandmother’s handwriting!  Both died years ago.  (My grandpa died when I was 12, my grandmother died when I was an adult).  If you were to ask me who was the brightest creative light of my childhood, I would name my grandmother in precisely one heartbeat.  I was born on her birthday.

ordinary creative grandparents collage

IMG_1728 IMG_1734

 For more information on the KRR ribbon, click here.

I will be wrapping the ribbon around my intention Christmas tree!

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Since I mentioned Edward Scissorhands, I have to mention another old classic: High Fidelity. Did you see it?  It dates back to Y2K (translation 2000).  I loved Jack Black’s character (Barry) who compiled top 5 lists for every conceivable event.  I assembled a top 5 list of my own.


Top 5 Most Beloved Songs from Movie Soundtracks

1.  “Women’s Work” Kate Bush from the She’s Having a Baby soundtrack

2.  “Songbird” Eva Cassidy from the Love Actually soundtrack

3.  “Sweet Disposition” The Temper Trap from the 500 Days of Summer soundtrack

4. “Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want” Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Pretty in Pink’s soundtrack

5. “Uninvited” Alanis Morissette City of Angels soundtrack


Um, just kidding… I can’t stop at 5.  The next 3 songs are my favorite songs ever (perhaps, but that is another top 5 list).  Each song I discovered on the P.S. I Love You soundtrack.

Love you Till the End” The Pogues


If I Ever Leave This World Alive Flogging Molly

I hope the rhythm of your life is more up, than down

and that you are stepping into the season of gratitude!

Grateful for you!


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