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10 Actions to Take Right Now to Boost Your Creativity

May 25, 2017

I try to be as honest and authentic as I can be here. Just enough, but not too much to be a totally downer all the time. Really, most of the time I love life and really am enjoying this season. But, it’s really far from perfect. I know I post pretty pictures of yummy drinks, flowers, and a clean house – but, that’s not always the case. I just don’t think folks want to see pictures of my cluttered bathroom counters and my unmade bed today. There’s nothing inspiring about that. Believe me, it sucks all the creativity out of me.

So, without sounding like someone who wants sympathy or attention, I just wanted to say that the last couple of weeks have been hard. I’ve felt drained, anxious, unmotivated and just blahhh about my job life in general. I share this here so that hopefully someone else doesn’t feel alone.

When you feel like this, creativity is GONE. I don’t know where it goes. I think I’m an idea person, I usually have a few good ideas brewing at anytime.  But, lately I’m totally tapped out. I’m not one to wait for something to happen or change in my life. I’m a door knocker, I’m knocking on all the doors and hoping someone answers and says yes. Over the last couple of weeks, I’m trying a bunch of things to try to kick start my creative juices.  So, I thought I’d share with you what is working. I’m not a self-help guru and definitely don’t have everything figured out. But, maybe some of these ideas will resonate with you and maybe help you out of a creative slump.

  1. Rest – this probably seems obvious. But, if you are a do-er and go-er like I am, rest can feel like a waste of valuable time. Listening to your body and taking a nap can actually be a good place to start. For me, I had no choice, I stopped for about 10 mins a Sunday afternoon a couple weeks ago and fell sound asleep for 4 hours. For someone who naps about once a year, this is a big deal. Over the last 2 weeks, I’ve been conscience to go to bed at a reasonable time and try to give my body what it needs.
  2. Make Healthy Eating Choices – I consider myself a pretty healthy eater. We cook most of our meals at home and yes, I do bake treats, but actually I rarely eat any of it. But, when I feel burnt out though, I let me guard down and I don’t pay attention to the things I’m putting into my body. So, I’ve cut back the amount of coffee I drink and I’m trying to pack as many fruits and veggies into my meals as possible. Thinking about food more as fuel always helps me. Right now I’m in the middle of a Juice Cleanse. It may feel a little drastic, but I felt like I needed to hit restart and flush my body of toxins. Whether it’s taking a simple step like making an effort to drink more water or taking on something more intense like a Juice Cleanse, a change in nutrition can help boost creativity.
  3. Hunt for Inspiration – sometimes you have to seek out a creative spark. My spark was definitely gone, like a bucket of water had been dumped on it. I’m trying to make time to do the things I love, like walk through an antique mall or actually flip through the beautiful design magazines that sit on my coffee table but I never have time to read. I also have a trip to downtown LA in my sites. I need a little time in a big city from time to time. The energy of a city, the hustle and bustle, the people, the traffic, the food, the art, the mess – all help my mood. Sometimes life feelings to hectic or busy to make time for just being inspired. It can seem a frivolous, but usually stepping away can be really helpful.
  4. Clean and De-clutter – clean out your purse, your car, your closet. I always feel like my home is a refection of my state of mind and schedule. If it’s messy and cluttered, usually my life is too hectic and I’m feeling stressed out. So, this week I took a whole day to just clean and put away all the junk that collects around a house with 3 busy kids. Honestly, seeing a clean space can instantly give my mind room for creativity. The mess definitely hinders me taking on a new project or idea.
  5. Get Dressed – well, I do wear clothes everyday, but some days it’s just a tank top and some yoga pants. Getting dresses in something that makes you feel confident and pretty in can really change the way your day starts. For me, putting on mascara and some big earrings can boost my moral. Maybe a hair cut or getting your nails done can be a breath of fresh air.
  6. Exercise – This might be the most important one for me. I need to burn off all those endorphins. Ya, I’d like to be a little skinnier, but mostly I exercise for my mental health. For the last couple of months, I have been swimming laps at my local pool. An hour of swimming back and forth gives me a lot of time to think and process my day. I’ve rediscovered how much I love swimming. Being weightless and submerged in water has a restorative power. I’ve also been riding my bike a lot. I never regret a bike ride. A bike ride always takes me back to my childhood and simpler times.
  7. Make Something – even though your creativity might feel totally tapped out, sometimes the act of starting a project can spur on something new and interesting. For me taking my camera for a walk around my neighborhood can help. I use my camera almost daily for my job, but taking pictures of flowers that are in full bloom and just taking pictures for no purpose at all is fun. I also picked up my water color paints this last week and painted for 3 hours straight. And yesterday I decided I’d finally make the swings that I wanted on our porch. So, I headed to the hardware store with absolutely no plan at all. It was fun to make something with a little trial and error, not know if the outcome would be good or not.
  8. A Change of Scenery – today I’m writing this post from my favorite coffee shop. but, I also editing a big batch of pictures from my front porch this week as well. Often I get stuck at my kitchen table trying to work. But, from my kitchen table, I can see my basement, which is where my laundry room is, I can also see my kitchen sink and all the dishes that need to be done or the dinner that needs to be started. Finding a new location to work can really help eliminate distractions and give you fresh eyes for the task ahead.
  9. Do Something New – for me, this kind of long, wordy post is not my usual type of blog post. I tend to rely on pretty images for the foundation of my posts. So, I type this post with a little bit of fear of failure. But, it also feels good to push myself outside of my comfort zone. Sometimes you discover something that you are good at, sometimes. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that writing is something I’m good at, but a little exploration of something different can be refreshing.
  10. Get Outside – I’m an outdoors kind of girl, but I do believe there is some power in being in nature for everyone. If I can’t make it to the desert, beach or the mountains, a little time weeding in my yard can be really helpful. I walk is also always a good idea. Right now our river has a lot of water (which hasn’t had any water for 7 years), so even though it’s still in the middle of the city, it’s good to walk along the water and listen to birds and crickets. As a christian, nothing makes me feel more connected to my Creator then being in his handy work. It always brings me so much peace.

I hope this is helpful to someone out there. Obviously there are no perfect formulas or answers for getting out of a rut. But, my thought is that change isn’t going to happen unless you take the first step. So, I’m taking all kinds of steps forward and hoping that something works. Here’s to finding my creativity again.

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Mother’s Day Flower Giveaway

May 10, 2017

Today’s post is just a friendly reminder that Mother’s Day is just around the corner and maybe I can help you with a really pretty last minute gift idea. But first, head over to instagram and enter to win a really pretty bouquet of flowers to send to a special mom in your life. Over Easter break, while we in Northern California at my parent’s place, we got to visit and tour Stargazer Barn.  It was a super rainy, cold day, but we stayed dry walking through their huge green houses filled with tulips and lilies. These are American Grown flowers. Did you know that a lot of the flowers you buy at your local supermarket are shipped in from all over the world. Not only do they ship fresh flowers all over the country, but Stargazer Barn also delivers unique gifts paired with these gorgeous fresh flowers. They pair local artisan products with their lovely blooms for an perfect gift for someone you love. Wine, chocolate, coffee and even jewelry with fresh flowers – a match made in heaven. This gift set of tulips, chocolate and coffee is my favorite. Oh and these Queensland Tulips are AMAZING!Stargazer Barn has a special discount for Oleander + Palm readers. You can get 20% your total purchase from now till Mother’s Day with this code: FLWRS4MOM20. And be sure to head over to instagram and enter the GIVEAWAY! 

etc. / Food & Drink

Rosemary Shortbread with Strawberries, Ice Cream and a Balsamic Reduction

May 9, 2017

Rosemary Shortbread

Shortbread cookies have always had my heart. I love these little buttery treats so much. I also love to play with interesting flavor combinations. These herby cookies hit all the right notes for me. Earthy rosemary, paired with sweet strawberries and tangy balsamic reduction make for an unforgettable sundae.

Rosemary Shortbread

Rosemary Shortbread Cookies

  • 1 cup butter (room temperature)
  • 2/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 2 tbsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • a pinch of salt

With an electric mixer, beat the butter on high for a minute. Add the powdered sugar and beat until smooth. Add the flour and salt and beat again until smooth. Add the rosemary a mix until it is incorporated evenly.

Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour. Roll out the dough to 1/4″ thickness on a well floured surface. Cut out 1 inch by 3 inch rectangles. Prick the tops of the cookies with a fork. Place the cookies on parchment lined baking sheet. Place the cookies in the freezer for at least 30 mins. Preheat the oven to 350 F, bake the cookies until just golden brown on the edges, about 12 mins.

Rosemary Shortbread

Serve with vanilla bean ice cream, fresh strawberries and a drizzle of balsamic reduction. Balsamic reduction sounds super fancy, but it’s one of the easiest things to make. Simply bring 1/2 cup of good balsamic vinegar to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Simmer until the vinegar reduces to 1/4 cup of liquid. Allow to cool completely and you have a rich, think sauce to serve with meat, veggies or in this case – ICE CREAM!

Rosemary Shortbread

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The Week’s End

May 5, 2017

These are just a couple pictures from my camping trip to Joshua Tree National Park last week. The Cholla Garden was still blooming. It’s are really cool place to visit and feels a little like you are on another planet. If you’ve never visited Joshua Tree, you are missing out. It’s my favorite National Park. And I didn’t even know I was a desert girl.

Happy Cinco de Mayo! Well that was a week. This is a fast, super productive week. This weekend we are hosting a church potluck, so of course I have a bunch of things I want to finally finish around the house. Probably only about a 1/3 of the list will get accomplished, but that’s ok. I stripped some wallpaper up stairs this week. I patched the wall already, so before today is over, I really wall to sand the wall and get it painted. I have this huge round mirror that I bought before we moved into the house and it still hasn’t been hung up yet. So, that is priority # 1!

And now, here’s my recommendations for blog reading this weekend. You guys, there’s some good stuff out there:

Happy Weekend Friends!

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The Week’s End

March 3, 2017

Mid Century Modern Planter

Lately the week’s have flown by in a blur. I’m reading Brene Brown’s book, Rising Strong, and I’m learning a lot about myself. Turns out I might be addicted to being busy. I really don’t want to be this busy, but life just rarely seems to slow down. There is always something I should be doing, making, trying or seeing. The last couple of nights, I’ve chosen to close my laptop and just take a bath or read a book instead of falling asleep editing pictures or planning out my next blog post. Can you relate? I feel guilty when I stop, that’s not a good place to be. So, I’m going to try to take an hour each evening to just do something besides housework or blog work. It’s a baby step, but I need to be able to slow down and process all that’s going on around me and in my head sometimes.

Part of why this week was so crazy was because we finally listed our guesthouse on Airbnb. And in the first 24 hours, it booked up for 10 nights. That’s exciting! But, it was a scramble to get everything sorted out and ready to go. I’m really looking forward to this experience and hoping that it will generate a little income so I can feel less like I need to hustle all the time. Ya, in case you just thought this was a hobby, this blog is my full-time job and we need the little income that I bring in. I love this job, but it’s a lot of work for a pretty small pay check. Yes, it’s flexible and I can be home when my kids are off school. But, like I said earlier, there is always something I should be working on. I’m not complaining at all, please understand that.  I’m just explaining our thought process for making the guesthouse an Airbnb.

Well, I’m pretty sure I’m just blabbing on now. Being a woman is no easy task. So, take some time to take care of yourself this weekend. Try to find a few minutes to slow down. I’m definitely going to try. I think maybe a pedicure is on the list.

So when you do find a few minutes to chill, here’s some things you should check out:

Happy Friday Friends!

 

DIY / etc.

Happy New Year!

January 2, 2017

Happy New Year friends. I hope you had a great holiday. We did. It was so fun to host my family here this year. I’m just popping in to say hey and then kind of good-bye for a little while.

Well, can’t say I’m sad to say good-bye to 2016. I’m ready for a fresh start. I’ve been sick for the last couple of days, so I feel like I’m moving slowly into this year and not with the usual energy that I have. And that’s ok, it’s given me some time to plan and dream for this new year.

In the past, I’ve picked a word for the year. But, this year I’m kind of stumped on finding one word to focus on. Maybe because I don’t have good goals set for the year yet. But, I do have a lot of things I want to accomplish. Last year was kind of a blur, and I felt really way too busy and scattered. So, I’ve decided to take a the month of January off from writing blog posts. I do have a few things scheduled that will definitely be posted in this month, but I just need a little time to gather my thoughts, organize my life and get a clear picture of where I’m headed. This feels like a stupid thing to do for my business, but to be 100% honest, it’s such a good decision for my personally. I’m just plain old tired and burnt out. I’m hoping to find ways to stretch myself creatively without the pressure of having to share it on the blog. Like I’d love to paint and draw more.

I’ll still plan to post often on Instagram and I have a lot to say over on Instagram Stories probably too much, so you can still follow along there.

Maybe the idea of turning 40 this year has me feeling a little overwhelmed. I’m not super excited by the thought of being 40 – yuck! How did I get this old? But, there are a few things I want to attempt this year. I’m not calling them resolutions, but that’s really kind of what they are.

  1. I watched the Minimalism documentary and while none of the concepts are new to me, it has inspired me and I have a plan for this year. And I think I’ve convinced my family to join me. I’ve decided to buy no new clothing all year!!! Yep, what we own right now is it! It’s a good time to start, everyone just got new socks in the stockings. Really I don’t own a lot of clothes and really I’d love to own less. I’d really just like to have a capsule wardrobe for each season. Come Summer, I may need a new bra, and that is the exception I’ll make. But, if there is anything that we REALLY need, I’m sure we can find it at a thrift store. It’s going to be a challenge with growing kids, but I’m excited to try.
  2. Whole 30! I’m back on it. This is the 3rd year in a row I’ve started the year with Whole 30. I’m planning on finishing 30 days and then see if I want to keep going. It’s a great way to reset and broaden my healthy recipe repertoire. I’m the only one taking on this challenge, but most dinners at our house will be Whole 30 this month. (I’m going to share a lot of the food I’m making on Instagram Stories, if you are interested.)
  3. More hikes! It’s my favorite form of exercise, so I’m pushing my family to go on at least one hike per week. I got new approach shoes for Christmas, so I’m excited to put some miles on them.
  4. This year will see a lot of painting our new house. I will be working my way from room to room in this house and hopefully we will be able to tackle the outside as well.
  5. Get our Guesthouse Airbnb up and running! I really want this to be successful and hopefully help us earn a little extra cash. (I have an update post coming your way this week.)
  6. I want to find more peace and joy in the present and not always be aiming for bigger and better. I also want to set some more reasonable work hours for myself. So, I don’t feel like I never have any down time. I’m sure it won’t happen, but I’m going to keep it in the back of my mind and give myself permission to stop from time to time.
  7. And then there are a bunch of business goals I want to tackle. I won’t bother you with them here. But, I want to push myself and expand in a few ways. I want to try more video content and I want to have a little more fun with my photography.

Well, that’s a very disjointed list of random ideas. But, that’s what’s going on in my head right now. Maybe at the end of January I’ll have more direction and more plans and dreams for the year. I hope you’ll stick with me while I figure things out this month. Come February, I’ll be back and stronger and more inspired then ever, well that’s the hope at least.

What are some of your goals and plans for this new year?

 

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The Week’s End

November 18, 2016

The busiest time of year is just about to begin.  Are you ready?  I’m not sure if I am. But, ready or not, it’s happening. We are excited to be celebrating Thanksgiving here in our new home this year. Lonnie’s family is coming to town, so we will have a very full house, and that’s fun.Black BuildingI had hoped to have had the dining room and living room both painted before the holidays. So far, the dining room is almost primed. Once I’m finished writing this post I’m going to put in a couple hours of painting. And then when my mother-in-law arrives, I’m hoping to put her to work as well. Until I get these two rooms painted. I’m really not ready to hang anything on the walls or make any other furniture decisions. With just primer on the walls, the dining room is already feeling lighter and brighter.

For your weekend reading, here’s a few things you might like to check out:

Have a great weekend and be productive or lazy, whichever makes you happy.

 

Design / etc.

Framebridge Discount Code for O+P Readers

November 15, 2016

Framebridge 15% off discount code

You’ve heard me say this before, many times, but get those special images off your phones and computers and out of closets and frame them to hang on your walls. Unless it’s a thrifted piece, I really don’t like pre-frame, big-box-store art. I think you should really hang personal pieces on your walls, that tell YOUR story.  I love Framebridge, they make this such an easy task. You don’t even have to leave your home. You can either send them a digital file of your image or simply request a mailer to mail your art to them.

For our master bedroom, I finally had this pretty print of the Old City in Sanaa, Yemen framed (in cast you didn’t know, we lived there for 2 years). I’ve had it tucked away in our closet for almost 8 years now. That’s sad. But, now I’m so happy to have it on my wall. I’ve used Framebridge to frame some of my nature photography, so I knew I could trust them with this special piece. I chose a sleek, modern brass frame, and it looks fantastic. But, there are so many amazing frame options available. There’s something for everyone and every style.

Framebridge 15% off discount code And I’ve got a special treat for O+P readers. Enter the code OLEANDER15 to save 15% on your first order at Framebridge.

Framebridge 15% off discount codeFramebridge 15% off discount code

What art piece or picture do you have that really should be framed and hung on your walls?  This is the perfect time to frame something special as a holiday gift as well.

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The Week’s End

October 30, 2016

Yep, Monday is just about here, but I thought I’d pop in and say hi before the next week is here. This last week and weekend was busy, but mostly I just felt like I was moving in slow motion because everyone in our house got a terrible head cold that took us all out.

This week I have some fun posts headed your way, like that upstairs bathroom, yep I’m finally sharing that makeover with you.  Tomorrow I’m throwing a big Halloween/Birthday Party for Denali’s 15th birthday.  You can follow along on my Instagram Stories.

Here’s some fun posts you should check out:

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The Week’s End

October 7, 2016

Well friends. It’s been a busy month and it’s really only the first week of October. I feel like I’ve been going non-stop since, well I don’t know how long. I feel like an update and just a “what’s going on” post is needed.

So, O+P (that’s me) is really busy. I know that my posting here on the blog hasn’t been as frequent, so maybe I should explain. Blogging and freelance, online work is weird. And most people in my real life really have no idea what I do all day. I think most folks think this is just a little hobby and from time to time I post a pretty picture or two. But, really this is more then a full-time job. Right now my business has some momentum and I’m working, on average, 12 hours a day. I’m not complaining. I’ve worked for almost 6 years to make this blog the business that it is today. But, I feel like I should give my faithful readers a little more behind the scenes look at what I actually do.

pumpkins

Yes, I do create content for this blog and all my social media outlets, even though it doesn’t seem like a lot is going on right now. But, I also do a lot of work that you guys never see. The other work I do is still work I love, but it’s really more to pay the bills, so that I can blog for a living. Yes, I do create sponsored posts for my blog, but that doesn’t bring in enough income to really be a full-time salary. So, here’s a little of what I do that you don’t see.

  1. I’m a one-women show! I had an intern this last Summer, but she’s back in school and working full-time. You wouldn’t believe how much time I spend emailing, researching, book keeping and scheduling (I need a manager!). Making, styling, shooting and then editing pics is just a fraction of my time, even though I wish that is all I had to do.
  2. I do some design consulting for clients locally. Right now I have 3 homeowners that I’m working with. I love this part of my job. I help folks with tasks like picking out paint colors, styling their mantels and bookshelves, shopping for furniture, or sourcing lighting options. If you want my opinion on design, I’m happy to tell you what I’d do!
  3. I do quite a bit of freelance styling and photography. Just this last week I styled and shot a whole bunch of products for a company. These projects can take up a whole week of my time (hence the lack of blog posts). These are images that you won’t see on my blog. A lot of the time, companies hire me to create lifestyle images of their products that they will either use on the website or on their social media channels. I never intended to be a photographer. I always loved photography, but somewhere along the way of blogging I taught myself how to style objects and then photograph them.
  4. I also do some social media consulting locally and work on creating content for local company’s Instagram accounts. After 6 years of blogging, this is something I have experience in and have learned a little bit about what works and what doesn’t work.
  5. And last, but no least, I contribute to a few other blogs, right now I write for Ehow and Emily Henderson Design. These are awesome opportunities for me. It’s the blogging and content creation that I love, but it’s also an opportunity for me to get more eyes on my work. Yep, believe it our not, a lot more folks are heading to Emily’s blog everyday then they are to mine.

Ok, this might have been a boring post. If you are still reading, you really are the faithful follower that I thought deserved to know what was going on.

So, Is this interesting? Do you like knowing a little more about the behind-the-scenes? It’s messy and not curated at all, but you can follow me on snapchat for a more realistic look at my day to day (I’m @oleanderandpalm over there).