Home Philosophy

A place to develop the attitude, ideology, aesthetics, and values of your home


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How to Think Creatively: Part 4

source: formalsweatpants.com – “Goddess of Creativity”

Welcome to the last installment of How to Think Creatively!

I’ve been talking a lot about thinking creatively to solve challenges and problems in your life and career. Let’s talk a bit about inspiration and thinking outside of the box for creative projects. Let me show you a quick exercise you can do to become a more creative thinker. It involves a step-by-step creative process. I encourage mind mapping, note taking, whatever you find will help you remember this brainstorm session.

By the way, a quick side note: mind mapping  is a brilliant way to track your business, creative processes, and to generally organize thoughts. Google “mind mapping” and it will come up with tons of great mind mapping software. My favorite is MindJet (Try it out for 30 days. Not free after 30 days.) and my favorite FREE mind mapping software is XMind.

Okay, now to teach you about a step-by-step creative thinking process I like to use for projects.

STEP 1: Think of a subject, object, person, place, etc. that you like or the person/group you’re creating for. Describe its characteristics, qualities, physical appearance, etc. 

Example: Let’s use the Eiffel Tower as a source of inspiration. What characteristics or words describe the Eiffel Tower? Its structure is grand and elegant, its location is romantic, it’s a place people are often proposed to, so love is in the air, the view is magnificent, and the surrounding area has an old beautiful charm. You could even go as far as taking the Eiffel Tower as the initial source of inspiration and expand upon it. It’s in Paris, France, so describe the feelings you have about Paris, it’s characteristics. What other things remind you specifically of France? Think structures, food, transportation, fashion, language.

Essentially, you could spend a ton of time on step 1, branching out on each topic you think of.

STEP 2: Who is your audience? Who are you creating for?

If you are creating for yourself, this step is simple. However, if you are creating for an individual or group, this step takes a little more time. If you are creating something dealing with the Eiffel Tower, who are you going to market to?

Example:  Who are the people that admire the Eiffel Tower? People who have been to France, people who have been at the top of the structure, travelers, those who like European vintage, those who love structural beauty, people who have been proposed to at the location.

STEP 3: Brainstorm useful or beautiful items that can have the image of the Eiffel Tower (or conjures up images of France) that the above types of people would like.

Write down everything you can think of. Don’t limit yourself. Here are some examples:

  • Printed coasters
  • Decorative couch pillow (image of the Eiffel Tower or French words/phrase like “J’taime”)
  • Vintage posters or prints made in Photoshop, printed, and framed
  • Handbag
  • Magnets
  • Journal
  • Knitted beret
  • Mural
  • Calendar

Side note: I saw a charming lamp the other day with the Eiffel Tower as the base!

STEP 4: Now that you have your list, which of those things can you do? Can you learn how to do some of the others?

I’ve talked about getting out of your comfort zone. I believe we should attempt to get out of our creative comfort zone as well, which means learning NEW techniques and mediums. For example: You may be asking, “How exactly do you transfer an image onto a handbag?” Find out! If you have the resources, learn new skills. You never know where they might take you.

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This gist of all of this is to take something of inspiration and extrapolate its characteristics and expand on it. Let’s do a quick example. You picked up a leaf and you’re looking at the details. You notice the color, it’s shape, size, the lines and texture.

The color may inspire the color of yarn or paint you choose for your next project, the color of the felt you want to use to make felt leaves, the color you want your bedroom, or the Thanksgiving cloth napkins you want to make. The texture may inspire you to press it into a clay project for a bowl, vase, or plate or to make a rubber stamp. You may want to make a piece of jewelry the shape of a leaf, or place mats, or garland.

There are endless ways to take an ordinary object, structure, environment, or person, look at the details, and think of other possibilities for it. I hope that you try out this exercise.

Well folks, that’s the end of the “How to Think Creatively” series. I hope you learned something and/or felt inspired. If you have questions, think I should clarify something, let me know! Let’s work together for a common good that is creative thinking. I’d also love to hear how, where, when, and who you get your creative juices from or share your creative thinking secrets with us.

If you missed the other “How to Think Creatively” parts, you can find them here:

How to Think Creatively: Part 1

How to Think Creatively: Part 2

How to Think Creatively: Part 3

Happy creating, home philosophers!

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How to Think Creatively: Part 3

New Environment

source: enna.com

I mentioned in “How to Think Creatively: Part 1” to change up your environment and to seek new experiences and opportunities in order to not be stagnant with the same ideas and information. That’s what I’m going to talk about now.

We adapt to our native environments and learn to use certain skills and personality traits for each environment. We’re on mental auto-pilot, which is comfortable and familiar. However, think of when you travel or do something new, that new environment is forcing us to adapt to new people, a new culture, and a new way of thinking or behaving. We might begin to discover new aspects about ourselves, like new strengths, fears, and prejudices. It can be scary, but we become less frightened when we arm ourselves with knowledge about the unknown. And then we can master the unfamiliar to become a better-rounded individual. What other way is there to grow spiritually, mentally, physically aside from going off of auto-pilot and diverting from the usual?

Stimulate creativity by doing something different and possibly out of your comfort zone. You will create new connections and leverage those things around you. It will inspire new ideas, challenge old ideas, and draw into areas of your life that remain hidden in routine. Challenge yourself to do one of these things once a week, or every other week. It’s up to you to decide how often to engage yourself with new information and stimuli. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Visit a gallery or museum

Read a magazine you’ve never read (you can borrow tons of well-known magazines from the library)

Watch a foreign film

Write a poem

Eat an ethnic meal you’ve never had before

Talk to someone from another culture (visit ethnic grocery markets)

Think of a subject that interests you, go to the library, and check out books related to that subject

Go to your local Chamber of Commerce to see what’s going on around town and surrounding area

Go for an hour drive out of town on a route you’ve never taken (take your GPS just in case J)

Go for a walk in a neighborhood you’ve never walked in

Rearrange your furniture

Eat at a restaurant by yourself

Go to a movie by yourself

Get an account with StumbleUpon.com and stumble away

Go geocaching

Make a meal you’ve never made before

Write a letter to a friend you haven’t talked to in a while

Get a penpal (Google “penpal”)

Listen to a radio station you don’t ever listen to

Visit someone in a retirement home

Visit someone in a hospital

Volunteer for an organization

Go to a coffee shop, mall, large bookstore, etc. and people watch

Some of these will make you feel uncomfortable. Some of these will intrigue you and inspire you. Good! That’s the goal here. If you don’t want to do some of these alone, do it with your significant other or a friend (except for go to a movie and restaurant by yourself). Broaden yourself. If you like mundane, being stagnant, and not challenging yourself, that’s fine. But I imagine that if you’re still reading, you’re not like that all the time. The world, your very own city or town has so much to offer you if you would just let yourself go. Honestly, what is the worst that could happen?

If you missed the other How to Think Creatively parts, you can find them here:

How to Think Creatively: Part 1

How to Think Creatively: Part 2

Let me know in the comments about how you intend to grow as an individual in 2013. Or tell us some of your ideas about how to get out of your native environment.

Have a great January, home philosophers!

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How to Think Creatively: Part 2

Hi guys! It’s been awhile. I always underestimate the month of December and the amount of busy it brings. I am here now though with How to Think Creatively: Part 2. I really love this part because of how helpful it is for a variety of people. I think it will give you great ideas of how to approach challenges and get past those blocks.

Here is How to Think Creatively: Part 1 if you missed it.

How to Think Creatively: Part 2

You know those people (it may even be you) who say, “I think too much.” What exactly do they mean? It could mean several things.

  1. I’ve thought about this problem so much that I just feel even more stuck than before.
  2. I’ve thought about this problem so much that I just don’t even know what to do anymore.
  3. I’ve thought about this problem so much that it just makes me depressed.
  4. I’ve thought about this problem so much that I’m starting to become irrational.
  5. I’ve thought about this problem so much that I just feel overwhelmed now.

I’m sure there are many others. Everyone has their own meaning of what “I think too much” means. But is “thinking too much” such a bad thing as it may seem? We tend to think “too much” is an excess of something we don’t want. What we need to learn is how to compartmentalize all of those thoughts and remember to stay rational and as objective as possible.  I should also mention that those who “think too much” are in the creative process, they just might not know what to do with so much information to a variety of problems and blocks.

If you have several blocks, do you give each one its due diligence? Or do you go from thinking about one problem, to a potential solution for another problem, back to a different problem than the first two. See how it could get confusing? Information overload! Here’s what you should do:

Step 1: Identify a challenge. Give the proper amount of time to that challenge you’re having. It also helps to write down the problem and all of its potential ideas, solutions, decisions, etc. Then do the same for every other problem on a different sheet.

Step 2: Ask yourself better questions to gain better information and ideas about the challenge. If you’re a visual learner, write down these questions and answer them. Ask yourself:

What would happen if…?

What would NOT happen if…?

What would happen if I didn’t…?

What would happen if I did…?

Who could solve this problem?

Where can I get information to help me solve this problem?

How would I solve this problem if my life depended on it?

If I could wave a magic wand and fix this problem, what would happen?

What is one thing that would never work and why?

What is one thing that would work and why?

What is the most unusual idea you can think of for the problem?

If you woke up tomorrow and the problem was fixed, what would be different?

What would my best friend/parents/pastor/counselor/boss say?

If I was 20 years older, what would I say to my current self?

What resources do I need to solve the challenge?

How will the problem get worse if I don’t address it?

Step 3: Evaluate the information you’ve gathered. Go through the information and cultivate the potentially good ideas and figure out why the not-so-good ideas aren’t good ideas after all.

Step 4: List out what steps are necessary to accomplish your goal. Make your goal a SMART one. Is it…

SMART Goals

Step 5: Add deadlines to each step. This is exactly what ‘timely’ means. Break your primary goal down into mini steps by making daily, weekly, and monthly goals to reach your ultimate goal.

Step 6: If there are other people involved in your challenge, write down at what step they are responsible. You want to write down who is involved in each step in order to know who is holding you back and who is not.

Step 7: Schedule time to accomplish each step before its deadline. Don’t give yourself an excuse to procrastinate. If there is a step that takes time or you have to rely on other people to get that step done, this is the time to make sure time is scheduled and other people are aware of what their responsibility is and what your deadlines are. Make sure to be assertive and to keep boundaries.

Step 8: Evaluate where you are in the process every week or biweekly (whatever works for you). Go over your SMART goals and make sure everything still applies.

Step 9: Success! On to another challenge.

I guarantee you that if you ask yourself the above questions , you will build more information and be further ahead in ideas. If you utilize the questions with all, or most, of your challenges, they will become second nature and your creative thinking will develop.

Next week, I’ll talk about how we can get out of our comfort zone in order to stimulate creativity to provide us with more solutions and ideas.

Happy New Year, home philosophers!

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Menu Planning + FREE PRINTABLE

source: coopfoodstore.com

source: coopfoodstore.com

I must admit, I hate grocery shopping with a passion. I think it’s just the lazy side of me and I really don’t like spending money. However, it must be done and I am the designated grocery shopper.

Each week, I have the task of figuring out which meals to do for the next 7 days. I recycle a lot of meals, but sometimes I like to experiment with a new meal. I would say the majority of the time that experimental meal doesn’t go well. Aside from that catastrophe, I typically use Microsoft Word to organize the meals and shopping list. It works, but it’s not pretty and I’m asked daily what’s for lunch and dinner. And to be quite honest, it’s “out of sight, out of mind,” so sometimes I don’t keep up with it.

To try and remedy that, I made up a Menu Planner and Grocery List printable that I’m going to start using. I’m also going to put it up on the fridge so my dearest can see exactly what’s tasty that day. He’ll probably still ask me though.Menu Planning

I wanted to make it available to my readers in case it could make your life any easier or more aesthetically pleasing.

Download the FREE printable HERE.

Benefits of Menu Planning

1. Saves Time

  • My menu planning motto is, “cook once, eat twice.” That’s why I cook enough for dinner and lunch the next day. This saves my brain from worrying about the next meal.
  • You don’t need to go to the grocery store every day. I like to go once a week.
  • There’s no “What’s for dinner” dilemma. I know in my household, if I don’t have a meal planned, there’s a lot of back and forth of “What do you want for dinner?” “I don’t know, what do you want?” “I have no idea. What sounds good?” “Mmm, I don’t know. What do you think?” Have you had this conversation before? 🙂

 

2. Saves Money

  • I end up spending more money if there’s no menu planned for the week. I’ll get the meal we want at the store and I may not realize that it doesn’t fit into the weekly food budget. If I do this multiple times throughout the week without being conscious of the amount of money each meal is costing, I’ve lost the food budget I had.
  • If there’s no menu planned, I impulse shop as I’m shopping for the meal of the night. I think, “Oh yeah, I may need some lettuce or something within the next few days.” Now I’m just guessing at what I MIGHT need. Many times, that lettuce goes to waste.

 

3. Improved Nutrition

  • With a menu, I am fully aware of how healthy each meal is. If it’s one of those quick trips to the grocery store, we probably didn’t think too much about how healthy the meal is because we’re hungry and just want to be done with it. The menu provides me a way to add in those fruits and vegetables for side dishes and snacks that a daily dash to the store doesn’t.

 

I hope that the FREE template helps you create a more organized, stress free home. If you’d like it more tailored to your needs, let me know!
Side note: I suggest, if you download it, print on both sides of the paper. 

By the way, look out for one of the “3 Things to Cook/Bake” from my “Taste of the Seasons” series. I’ll be cooking up some chicken pot pie sometime this week.

Happy shopping, home philosophers!

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9 Ways to Taste Fall

I have this crazy desire to do things I’ve never done before ranging from simple to wild. I’m feeling somewhat stagnant since summer has ended and my activities have come to turtle speed. Does anyone else feel like this?

Just because summer has ended doesn’t mean I still can’t challenge myself and do new things. I’ve been trying to come up with a way to do this that accommodates not going outside as much. Don’t get me wrong, I freaking love the rain, wind, and dark clouds. However, let’s be honest, I won’t be hiking, camping, ziplining, or river rafting in the fall or winter. I also need these challenges and new things to be budget friendly.

I want it to be reminiscent of the season as well. I’ll be doing a seasonal venture called:I just realized there’s only one month of autumn left. WHAT. I better get crackin’ before December 21 arrives.

I would love for you to join me in challenging yourself by cooking something you’ve been dying to try out, a craft that is on your endless Pinterest craft board, or visit some place you’ve been curious about.

I’ve made a list of 3 things to cook/bake, 3 crafts to complete on my Pinterest board, and 3 new things I’d like to try this colorful season.

3 Things to Cook/Bake: Chicken Pot Pie, Caramel Apple Crisp, Homemade Applesauce

3 Things to Craft: Felt Leaves Decor, Cornhusk Votive or Centerpiece, Autumn Tasty Gift Bag

3 New Things to Try: Apple Picking, Taste a New Seasonal Alcoholic Beverage, Find a Farm with Fresh Cider

Look out for tutorials and recipes for the crafts and noms mentioned above.

What is (or was!) on your autumn list? Did you do anything that you haven’t done before? Let’s hear it! Feel free to post to your website so we can see your stuff.

Home philosophers, raise your glass to the Taste of Autumn and let’s enjoy the last month shall we?

PS – I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving.


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Creating Thanksgiving Memories

I want to introduce you to some not so common traditions for Thanksgiving. I was prompted to write this post because since my grandpa died several years ago, I’ve been thinking about how to better preserve my family’s Thanksgiving memories. Let me tell you the story first.

My grandpa began declining in health around the holidays a few years ago and died right after Christmas. He was able to join us for Thanksgiving, but we knew it was going to be the last one with him. We were frantic taking family photos so we could have some visual memories. For some reason we never take holiday photos together. My grandma is relatively health, but at some point, she is going to pass on. I wanted a tradition that would help preserve some memories of my family at Thanksgiving aside from photos.

I love my grandma’s handwriting. She writes in cursive and it’s beautiful. I began thinking about how everyone knows what their family’s handwriting looks like. If a family member has passed away and we find a note or a card with their handwriting on it, we tend to feel comforted and nostalgic.

I took this idea and ran with it to make a priceless family treasure.

Creating Family Memories

THANKSGIVING ALBUM (later turned book)

What You Need:
1. 4″x6″ album: I got mine at Target for $4.00.

2. Cardstock: I would go with a light color. I also used a textured cardstock.

3. Template: You can have the one picture for FREE! I’ll also include a title page. Click on the links to download the “Thankful Card” and “Thankful Card Title Page.”

Instructions:
You can use the FREE templates I provided or make your own. If you use mine, print out however many you need and trim according to the trim lines on the printout.

Hand them out to your family and friends at Thanksgiving. You could even take a picture of each person and insert the photo above their thankful card.

Source: beckyhiggins.com

THANKSGIVING FRAMED POSTER BOARD

What You Need:
1. Poster board: traditional size 22″x28″

2. Frame:  size 20″x28″; Micahels always has great sales and coupons on their frame

3. Letter stickers: this is to spell out “GRATEFUL,” or “THANKFUL,” or whatever you want!

4. Writing utensil – markers, pens, etc.

Instructions:
Cut down your poster board to fit into the frame. Put your letter stickers on the board.

Now you’re ready to introduce it to your family at Thanksgiving. Take out the poster board, have your family write what they are grateful for, put it back together, and hang it up for everyone to see. Once you run out of room on your first poster board, there’s enough room to put more.

 

THANKSGIVING TABLECLOTH

What You Need:
1. Tablecloth/runner: make your own or buy a light colored one

2. Permanent Fabric Marker: fade resistant when washed or dry cleaned

Instructions:
Once you have your tablecloth, bring it out each Thanksgiving to have your family write what they are grateful for on it with the permanent fabric marker. Wash and put away until the next year.

Source: blurb.com

THANKSGIVING BOOK

What You Need:

1. Contents from the album you created and maintained for many years

2. Reputable book making company: Blurb makes fantastic quality books for a decent price

Instructions:
Eventually, maybe every 5 or 10 years, you could make a book from what you’ve accumulated in your binder. Of course though, a book doesn’t have the hard copy of your family’s writing. It would just be a fun, beautiful memoir to have; another way to preserve the family tradition.

Thankful Card Template

I hope you like the Thankful Card templates I made. Be sure to download the card templates I provided above. It’ll save you tons of time. If you’re wondering how I made them, let me know and I’d be glad to do a tutorial. If you’re wanting other years for the Title Page template like 2013 and so on, let me know that too and I’d be glad to provide them for you.

My 2012 Thanksgiving Tradition

I’m going to make the Thanksgiving Album a tradition from now on. It’s super cost effective. Plus you can use the same album for several years if you don’t have that big of a Thanksgiving get together. I’m definitely going to try and actually take photos from now on too. I’m going to regret not having the photo memories. I’m going to love watching the age metamorphosis. Well maybe not so much for myself 🙂

Your 2012 Thanksgiving Crafts

I want to see what you’re doing this year. Email me, comment with a link to your website or a photo of your crafty goodness, or just tell me about it! I also want to know which of the above crafts you like most or you see yourself doing at some point.

Happy Thanksgiving crafting my lovely home philosophers!


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“Grow Your Groceries”

Growing fruits and vegetables often seems overwhelming and too much responsibility on top of everything else you have going on.

But let me tell you that it’s actually quite simple if you have the right resources to help you. Not to mention the awesome benefits.

1. It’ll improve your and your family’s health. The Journal of the American Dietetic Association published a study that found preschool children who were almost always served homegrown produce were more than twice as likely to eat five servings of fruits and vegetables a day – and to like them more – than kids who rarely or never ate homegrown produce.

2. Save money on groceries. There’s a couple ways this will happen. First, you know you won’t be buying an excess of produce, which is a money waster. I know there are times when a recipe calls for a fresh herb, so I purchase a small container and don’t end up using all of it. Total waste! The second way you’ll save money is by buying seeds, which are inexpensive, and watching your garden flourish with fresh produce. You can even save the seeds from the best producers, dry them, and use them next year. It doesn’t end there though because you could learn how to can and preserve your summer and fall harvest to have tasty meals until the next season.

3. Better tasting food. Tomatoes totally taste better homegrown than in the grocery store.  This isn’t the only food that produces those results. Fresh always tastes better, wouldn’t you agree?

4. You know where your food came from and what’s on it. Okay, so how many people have touched the produce in the grocery store? What’s that waxy stuff on apples? I wonder where that dent came from. That looks like a fingernail went through it. I wonder how much pesticides and herbicides are on this? Now that I’ve grossed you out… 🙂 You get my point though.

5. You’ll be super proud of yourself. The sense of pride one feels when that sprout comes up is a joyous one. It’s working, it’s working! And when it’s fully grown, you pick it off the branch, look at it and realize you accomplished something super cool. You now get the gratification that YOU did this. Growing your own produce has multiple purposes and you made it happen.

Now that you know about the perks, you may be thinking that you don’t have a big fancy garden or your own yard to do this. Well, you don’t need those things. My friend is one of the biggest green thumbs I’ve ever met. She builds her vegetable garden in pots and containers and puts them on her balcony at her apartment. Non-traditional and it totally works.

You can even find out if your city has a community garden where you can rent your own plot. Check out acga.localharvest.org to locate a community garden near you or do a Google search for “[your city] community garden” and see what comes up.

Another amazing resource that I came across is SproutRobot. You put in your zip code and it tells you what and when to plant according to your area. It gives fantastic instructions on how to plant each vegetable/fruit, when it should sprout, and when you should harvest. They even email you to remind you when to plant. It’s easy to use, user friendly, and a fabulous system to have in your life. The site is definitely worth checking out.

Source: sproutrobot.com

If you have children, get them involved. They’ll learn a skill that they can use for the rest of their lives that will help them stay healthy and productive. Help them to develop their own home philosophy all while continuing to develop yours.

Whatever your motivation to start growing your groceries, chances are good that you’ll enjoy a new hobby, thin your wallet, and eat healthier.

This is certainly something I’ve been wanting to do, so try it out with me. I’d love to see photos of your garden (whether it’s in a yard or in a pot) and hear about your experiences.

Happy planting, home philosophers!