Creativity, Dance

Shared Human Experience Reflected in Art

This has been quite an amazing year for me. My father passed away on November 24, 2012 and my daughter was born on October 15, 2013.  When Dad passed two days after Thanksgiving last year, I could have never guessed that less than a year later I would hold a new baby in my arms.  What a blessing she has been, and both the pregnancy and her birth has helped me ease through the past year and the anniversary of his death.

This morning, I came across this phenomenal performance by the Hungarian Dance troupe, Attraction, that mirrored my own experience, and I had to share it. (The group was the winner of Britain’s Got Talent 2013).

It is so amazing to me that their beautiful and emotional performance is one that can reach across language and culture and can help comfort me, even as I relive and process this year of life events.  

Just this weekend, I spoke with a friend who is dealing with her mother’s cancer.  She basically said, “How can I be a mom if I lose my mom, my source of comfort and knowledge?” I felt the same about my Dad, my human search engine, cheerleader, and source of all knowledge and help.  Others have come and with their talents and love have helped to fill in the gaps.  It will never be the same, but now I know that I need to make my children my friends and my support in the way that Dad was to me.  I may not have him, but I will have them, and I can be (in part) to them, what he was to me.

When Dad passed, I was shocked when we showed up at the viewing and found that there were flowers all over the social hall, which had been sent, mostly, by others who had tragically lost someone early.  I found comfort in friends who also had lost their parents too early.  Now I know how to comfort those who have lost.  Maybe that is the reason that we have shared human experiences, so that we can understand each other.  So that we can know that we are not alone.  And, so that we can help each other deal with both the difficult moments that life brings and the joyful ones.

Art, Creative People, Creative Play

Paper Doll Palooza and Interview with Creator Cory Jensen

Sof with paperdolls

When I was in kindergarten, I got the chicken pox and was home on the couch for a week.  (Now, thankfully, my children will never Golflex fashion 1920know that “joy” due to the chicken pox vaccine, but I digress.)  My grandma and mom tried to help cheer me up and pass the time by making homemade paper dolls.  They tried to make the magazines of the day work , but the images were not like those of yesteryear.  When they were young, the girls in the magazines could be cut out and homemade paper dolls created because the pictures and drawings were roughly the same size and it was easy to make them fit together (see the advertisement for goldflex frocks).  Though we couldn’t make it work with the 1980’s magazines, that memory was the catalyst for my fascination with paper dolls.  On my sick bed, I imagined the gorgeous styles, clothes, and scenery and how I would play with them.

Fast forward to the computer age and my own children.  It is so easy to find beautiful paper dolls online that talented artists have created to be shared.  As we were searching, we came across some of the most beautiful images that I have seen.  My daughter went CRAZY!!!

I mean look at these:

Cory Jensen - Aladdin1

Cory Jensen - Aladdin2


An artist named Cory Jensen has a facebook page dedicated to paper dolls that he’s created.  He takes no money for them (as they are fan-based), but I think that it is a wonderful way to build a resume – and I’m sure that with his amazing talents, he will go far!

I contacted Cory in order to write this post and he was so willing to share some information about his creations and talent.  He modestly said that he didn’t have any professional training and wasn’t a professional artist, but I’m sure you’ll agree with me that he is a talented artist nonetheless.

1. How long have you been an artist?

I have been interested in art my whole life and I have been drawing ever since I could hold a pencil! So minus the 2 years where I could only scribble, I would say I’ve been an artist for 20 years!

2. Where did you get your training?

As I said, I have never had any actual training or schooling in art…yet. Although, I would like to attend an art school in the near future. I never even took art classes in high school, which I do regret. I watched all the Disney classics when I was a kid and I was in awe of how the drawings literally came to came to life on the screen! So even without realizing it, from a young age I was studying these movies and learning the basics of art. Obviously, Disney movies have remained a big part of my life and I continue to study them as well as the work of countless artists. So, I wouldn’t say I am self-taught, but taught by hundreds.

3. Do you do “Paper Dolls, by Cory” for a living, or for fun?

As of right now “Paper Dolls by Cory” is something I do for fun. I started making these “retro” style paper dolls several years ago and posting them on my DeviantArt page. People seemed to like them and I liked making them so I started “Paper Dolls by Cory” to reach more people. I would like to make a living of making these paper dolls but because most of the dolls I make are of copyrighted characters I don’t feel comfortable selling them. I would, however, like to create original paper dolls and sell those in the future. But for now, knowing that people enjoy my work is enough for me!

4. Are your paper dolls hand drawn or do you use a program on the computer?

 I start off the dolls by hand drawing very rough pencil sketches which I then scan into my computer. Usually, the first sketch is far from perfect so I scribble several notes on what needs to be adjusted on the computer (i.e. slight pose changes, and proportions.) After I scan them I start using a program called PaintShopPro 9, which is essentially a less expensive Photoshop. I also use a Wacom Bambo Create pen tablet to more easily draw and color on the computer.

5. What other types of artistic work do you do?

 Almost all of the art work I do is done digitally. But I am always sketching ideas in my sketchbook and even on receipt paper from where I work…they don’t like that too much…ha ha I love to draw people! Whether it is a Disney character, someone I know, or just someone I thought of. My goal when I draw a character is to convey an emotion, from the eyes and facial features, to the pose and gestures. I feel like I have done good work if someone looks at a piece of art I’ve done and they feel something.

6. What advice do you have for kids who are interested in becoming artists one day?

Explore the world around you! Find what interests you, draw it, and study it. Draw what you see and how you see it. Make the world your own! I’ve found that another good way to learn about art is to look at other artists’ work. Study their technique, ask questions like “why did they draw that expression?” or “why did they use that color?” Let them inspire you, but find your own artistic voice and style.

7. If someone wanted to purchase a set of your paper dolls, or commission some work, where could they go?

 I don’t yet have paper dolls available for sale, nor am I currently taking commissions, but when I do the information will be available on my Facebook page.

I want to wish Cory the best of luck for his future and thank him for the hours of fun that my daughters had with his creations.  I know that he will go far!

  • Do you ever do paper crafts (or Paper dolls) with your kids?
  • What are your favorites?
  • When I was young, my brother had a set of Cowboy and Indian paper villages.  Any other great ideas for boys?
Comedy, Video/Film

Creative Comedy

I have just found a new comedy sketch show called Studio C.  It is so funny, so creative, and wonderfully, I can watch it with my kids and not cringe in uncomfortable moments (you know the ones when you wish your kids didn’t just ask you, “Mommy, what does … mean?”).   It’s easy to just resort to toilet humor, and other distasteful items, but in order to have this kind of material, the writers and actors need some serious creative skills!  Now of course, some of the sketches aren’t funny (you can’t win them all) and sometimes they go for a silly punch line, but overall, I have been most impressed with their work.

So kudos to the writers, cast, and crew and the creativity and hard work that goes into producing great material.  Hope you enjoy one of my favorite sketches about a young college freshman and his roommates.  (I laughed so hard, I cried at the creepy, eerie, and wonderfully funny Spencer).

Art, Authors, Book Reviews, Writing

Book Review: Flora and the Flamingo

Molly Idle’s Flora and the Flamingo is such an enchanting book – and absolutely wordless.  Now, as a writer – I am a huge fan of words, but this book is an absolute FEAST for the eyes.  My preschooler (who is getting tired of all of the ABC’s and “sound this out” that I’ve been feeding her lately) was thrilled with a book that she could lyricise.

See for yourself –

But I will give a quick warning, however, it is not for the younger babies.  There are wonderful tabs that you pull down to reveal more pictures that young ones will thrill at pulling off the book, thus destroying the masterpiece.

I’ve also become a fan of Molly Idle who was an artist at DreamWorks and has now jumped into children’s book illustrations – you can find her website here.

Blue Boy GainsboroughI am amazed at illustrators and the stories that pictures can make.  Sometimes I will go to a writer’s conference and I’ll hang out in the illustrator panels or spend time in the art galleries.  There is so much that a picture can say, and with each person, it can be a different story. I remember that my 4th grade teacher had us write the story behind Thomas Gainsborough’s Little Blue Boy (see the picture on the left).  I can’t remember the story that I wrote, but I remember looking at the picture and thinking, Who is this? What is his story? Today I think I’ll write the story of why his stomach is poking out and where the missing button went!

(My husband just said, “He ate too many mince pies, and when he was at high tea, his button popped off and hit Aunt Adelaide in the eye!” I’m crying laughing!!!)

I think I’ve thought of some fantastic creative ideas for the long summer that we have looming before us.  I only say looming, because I do NOT want the summer to be a TV festival for my girls!  Any ideas for the pictures I should use?

Home Decor, Money Wise (aka Budgeting)

13 Ways to Decorate and Update on a Budget

I just went to a wonderful (and very helpful) meeting in which Jordan Peine gave us tips and ideas about –

Decorating and Updating on a budget

These ideas will help give your home a warm feeling and spruce up the whole area, thus defeating winter blues (we hope). 🙂 Here they are:

 1. Lamps –

As opposed to overhead lighting which makes things harsh and flat.

  • Pick the base first and then the shade
  • Use the golden ratio to pick out the lamp 1/3 shade, 2/3 base.
  • Look for shades with gold foil on the inside and it will warm up the room
  • Pick warm spectrum light bulbs – not cool ones
2. Pillows and Blankets –

This is an inexpensive way to add color, texture, and style to a sofa or bed.  Add a throw blanket to the back of a sofa.

Great places to go for them – Homegoods, Marshalls, Ross, TJ Max, Target, Wal-mart, Ikea, etc.

3. Candles –

Candles add ambiance and a nice glow to a room.  They are beautiful points of light and energy.

  • Vintage candlesticks look great
  • Add candles in the fireplace
  • Use the battery powered candles (they’re made out of wax and flicker like a  real candle – just no danger of real fire around the little ‘uns).  These can be found at places like Costco and Hobby Lobby.
4. Mirrors –

Mirrors multiply the points of light in a room.

  • Big mirrors are like adding a big window to the space.
  • Got a mirror that you hate?  Try painting it.
5. Rugs –

Rugs make a room softer and adds both physical and implied texture.

  • Small oriental rugs are also good for bathmats, inside door mats, or in front of the kitchen sink
  • Rugs on carpet is okay (depending on styles)
  • Rugs deaden sound on hardwood floors
  • Use heavy duty tape to lock down in place if you are worried about someone tripping over the rug
  • Find these at  – Downeast home, Westfall, Z Gallerie, etc.
6. Knobs and Pulls –

This can be a total update for kitchens and cabinets.

  • Spray paint or paint an old dresser and put new knobs on it
  • Look for a vendor that specializes in old knobs and drawer pulls
  • Also – Home Depot, Lowes, etc.
7. Old Picture Frames –
  • Find these at thrift stores and garage sales
  • Spray paint and age them (Repair and repaint)
  • You can make a family wall or an ancestor wall
  • Do a family tree (large pictures of immediate family in the center and smaller as you go out to further generations)
  • Alternative to nails?  Double velcro – one piece on the item, one stuck to the wall
8. Interesting Accessories –
  • Find these while traveling, yard sale, clean out grandma’s attic, etc.
  • Toys, clocks, etc. (My cousin has old suitcases – they look awesome!)
  • Find items with a story or meaning – this will make the home feel authentic
  • Make sure to know when to say when though! Don’t overdo it!!
9. Old Books –

These can make a home feel lived in and warm

  • Find these at a thrift shop, garage sale, or old book store
  • Look for colors
10. Paint –

Paint is the most inexpensive way to change a look of a room or home.

  • Remember – paint looks different through the day in different light (paint swatches on a wall and check out how it looks in the light of the morning, afternoon, and evening)
  • Paint inexpensive furniture that needs a change
11. Wainscoting –

Adding wainscot, chair-rail, or bead board is an excellent DIY project.  It can quickly change the entire look of your home.

  • Glue and a few nails
  • Protects walls from kids
  • Do it throughout the whole room (not just one wall)  otherwise, it will weight the room in one spot
  • Get familiar with MDF
12. Rearrange –

Move things around! When you get tired of furniture, pictures, or artwork – swap it up, keep it fresh!

  • Do this seasonally or annually
  • Think of how refreshing Christmas is when you change things up a bit
13. Curtains –

This is economical, too! Curtains help hold heat in, heating bills will go down and it adds a measure of privacy.

  • Find a great fabric and make them
  • Rule of thumb for curtains – make them 3x the width of the the window so that you have nice, luxurious, billowy ripples 🙂 (so, 6ft window would need 18 ft of curtain)
  • (2x the width would be the minimum)
  • Run the rod above the window (not strait on top) to open up the window
  • Don’ be afraid to take the curtains all the way to the floor (unless it looks weird – like a dinky basement window)

The main key is to find good, quality items and then rotate through them.  Check sales and clearance items to find special deals. Rotate and switch.  Now, I’m sure to many of you brilliant people out there, this is just something you do naturally, but for those of us who have always been behind the curve when it comes to home decor, these ideas are WONDERFUL, because it helps me get a little vision and something to look forward to, a pillow at a time. 🙂

Thanks, Jordan for all of the awesome tips!

You can check out some of his work and ideas on pinterest here.

Creative People

Creative Homeless

This, I know, is an odd post to write, but I’ve been noticing a trend among the homeless in our city lately, and it’s a breath of fresh air. They have been waving and smiling and trying to brighten our days.

I love this guy, and you better believe that when I have cash on me I give him what I can. It’s not just him though, I’ve seen others that have been doing similar things to spread good will. Just wanted to celebrate the creativity, and the joy that he spreads. Thank you, sir, for having optimism even in desperate situations.

And now on a completely personal note-
I haven’t been posting lately. For that I’m sorry, but my dad died, and so the last few months have been very packed. You can read more about it on my light refreshments blog.

Creativity, Holidays, Money Wise (aka Budgeting)

Non-Pumpkin Halloween Fun


I wanted to do a fun Halloween family activity, and so I decided to be creative with what we had at home. My husband is out of work, and we literally have no extra money. I wish that were a joke. I know how cheap pumpkins are, but I don’t get paid for another week. Since one of the main points of this blog is to celebrate good old-fashioned creativity, I thought I’d share. You’ll probably laugh at me, but here’s what we did.

We had a box full of apples that we’ve been eating for a while. We still have a bunch left, so instead of decorating pumpkins, we decorated apples. Paint, glitter, paper = an evening of family fun. Even my sweet husband had a good time painting apples to celebrate sports teams.

Here are the results:

The front of my husband’s apples –


And the back –


My four-year-old’s –


My seven-year-old’s (she did a squash, because, to be honest, we weren’t going to eat it 😉 –


All together now –


So silly, I know, but I think that the girls will have a fun memory. Also, it took the sting out of the job search to spend time together rather than self-medicating our sadness by watching television or moping.

Creative People, Creativity

Childhood Creativity Leads to Education

I mage courtesy of The Ehrhart Family via the Huffington post, and CNN.

I just read a series of reports on an eight-year-old, Stella Ehrhart,  from Omaha, Nebraska who dresses up for school everyday as a different historical female figure or other character.  According to several articles, she said that she wants to dress up as people that she wishes to emulate and has dressed as Grace Kelly, Rosa Parks, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and Billie Holiday, just to name a few.   They say that she opens her book about Influential Women and then opens her closet and creatively finds a way to dress like that person.  The costumes aren’t necessarily expensive or over-the-top, she just finds simple ways to represent someone.  The teachers use it as a way to do some impromptu history teaching.

I am so impressed with her drive and creativity and the support shown from parents, teachers, and classmates.  When so many young girls today are unwittingly dressing up to emulate movie stars and pop icons what a commendable way to express creativity, especially in such a productive and educational way.  Bravo Stella!

Read more about her in these links:


YouTube Fun

Have you ever had a mini YouTube parties? That’s when you sit down with someone and say – “hey, I’ve gotta show you this video” and they show you one in return, and then you’re an hour into it, enjoying every moment.

Though you have to be careful (some videos are just too much for little ones – unless you like explaining very adult ideas to the kiddies), there are some UBER-creative videos that have me rolling!  Today I’m going to share a few of my favorites.  I am so impressed with their creativity, and amazed at how some ideas can turn into very successful business endeavors.

1. Kid History – FAAAAACCKT!

The first is Kid History.  Their tag line is –  “If our kids wrote our personal history”.  The children tell the old family stories that their parents have been telling them.  Then the adults act out those stories based on the kid’s narration.  There are truly some knee-slapping, Napoleon Dynamite moments (you know, where it’s almost too silly, but you fall in love with the lines and so you keep quoting them).

My favorites from this episode are “Girls are mermaids…some boys are too,” and of course, “Don’t do it Brett” –  “FAAAACT!”

Here is a link to their website and to their YouTube site.

2. Divine Comedy – Firebolt

Next I will feature BYU’s Divine Comedy.  These guys are “hit and miss” with their comedy.  It usually starts out funny, but then they push it too far ( nothing naughty, just too slapstick and over-the-top cliché for my taste) but I am a huge fan of this particular video.

Love the lyrics and I agree with the line – “Maybe the reason why your letter didn’t come, So you can stay protecting muggles as the Chosen One”.

I mean, don’t you just want to live in HP world again for a bit.

3. College Humor – DORA

Next is just such a hilarious spoof on a movie trailer.  I seriously thought (and hoped) that it was going to be a movie, and was a little disappointed to find out it was just a fun short.  I don’t know much about the makers of the video – College Humor, and so I’m not sure how clean or family friendly the rest of their work is (so far every other video of theirs, that I’ve looked into, has been too much for me – too crass, crude, etc., but then, that probably should be apparent in the name).  This one is really wonderful, my girls LOVE it.  So I’m putting this video up and hopefully they have others that are as family friendly and funny as this one.

4. HISHE – Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter

Finally, I wanted to share a couple of videos from the group –  How it Should Have Ended, who are really funny.  Every once in a while I’ve found some borderline jokes, but for the most part I am really happy with their work and I LOVE their endless creativity.

Case in point – in the “still” of the above video, you see a bum-bum, which to some is funny and to others is not.  I find it fine for the part in the video, but I can see where one might not appreciate it.

I think that the new media (blogs, YouTube, iTunes, eBooks, etc. are amazing because of the ability to see the “everyman” create, rather than just the studios.  It’s reminiscent of earlier times  – before TV and Movies, when families would put on plays, readings, and concerts.  But that is one of my college lectures, so I’ll save it for another day…

For now, enjoy the shows, and please,  feel free to write a comment and share your favorite YouTube videos with me!


Enjoy the Little Creative Moments

When I came home from work yesterday, my oldest daughter had left me a surprise.

It’s hard to see what each item is, so I will explain.

There is a plate in the middle with her signature dish (a culinary treat that she created 😉 ) a cinnamon carrot.

Above the plate is a card that she made at school for Mother’s day. To the right of the plate is a love note.

To the left of the plate is a glass of water. Beside the water is a rose from the garden and two little crafts that she and her cousin worked on all morning (pieces of nature decorated with beads, paint, glitter, etc.)

I was so touched! I burst into tears.

Yes, this is proud mama having a moment celebrating her child, and most would think, “so, what’s so special?”

I guess it’s just wonderful to know that she loves me. When I was a kid, I used to make little do-dads for people, and my heart overflowed with love for that person as I drew or colored or created.

Albert Einstein is credited for saying, “Creativity is contagious. Pass it on.”

I think that one of the best ways to promote creativity in our children is through our praise. Our joy at the little things. Our writing posts and journal entries about our children’s accomplishments, no matter how small. We thrive on love.

I remember the day in sixth grade that I stopped drawing. I didn’t get any praise for my artwork, and so I figured that I wasn’t good enough. Bummer, huh! Why I feed off praise, I don’t know, but now at *cough* older than twenty-something, I’m getting better at feeding off of creation and doing rather than opinions.

Later on that day, my daughter beamed as she proudly told me that she hadn’t watched T.V. or had computer time all day. She had spent all of her time creating.

So, I need to continue to encourage creativity, as well as the love of doing. Any thoughts on the best way to help your child nurture creativity? And I don’t just mean artistic creativity either. After all, Einstein wasn’t known for his paintings or dance, but for his ability to creatively look at the world around us and think of physical and mathematical solutions to complex problems. Talk about creativity!

So, my questions for your consideration and input are –

•How do we foster creativity in children?
•Why is it important to do so?
•Can a person be creative in fields other than crafty, craft, crafts 😉 or the Arts?
•How do we teach joy in the doing – or does it just naturally come as a result of hard work?

What do you think?