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Sunday, May 29, 2011

Iris and Hosta

 I love iris and hostas.  I have a fair amount of both in my flower gardens.  A wonderful garden spot exists in central Illinois where the Iris and Hostas are plentiful.  In the spring 450+ varieties of Iris are in bloom and one can walk through the iris field and check their favorites off a list to order.   When the iris are done blooming in July the bulbs are dug up and one can either pick them up or arrange for them to be shipped.  For me it’s the ideal way to buy an Iris bulb—to see it in all its splendor first.  It is not for those who are impatient—it will be another year before you see the iris in your own yard, but I guarantee it will be worth it.  Over 500 varieties of hosta are also on display in beautifully landscaped spots which inspire even the novice gardener. 

The garden spot I refer to is Hornbaker Gardens.  Their homepage ( states, “Hornbaker Gardens is a family owned and operated nursery, specializing in perennials, located 5 miles southeast of Princeton, Illinois. Our large collections of hostas, daylilies, irises, grasses, aquatics, and other perennials, along with an excellent offering of trees and shrubs, draw plant enthusiasts from not only the Midwest, but from all across the country.”   They have a neat story about how they’ve grown and changed over the years and the work of their hands is evident.

Their weigela are among the finest I have seen and their collection of pottery containers is spectacular.   I’m itching to get my hands in some dirt just thinking about it.   The staff was also very kind and helpful to this novice.  I’m lucky to live within a few hours of the nursery but if you plan to be in Illinois during the spring, summer or fall, it is well worth the trip.

Write about it:   Growing something shows us the power of God at work.  Plant something today as a way of demonstrating God’s nurture and care and document the small weekly changes in its growth.  Turn over a new leaf for yourself by tackling one small self-improvement project and along side the entries for your plant, document how you are growing and changing also. 

Do it:  Look up nurseries in your area and plan a day trip to see several and compare their offerings.  What kind of plants really jump out at you and why?  Your taste and preferences should not be diminished or overshadowed by what everyone else is doing.  Do your own thing!  Know your soil, lighting and moisture conditions well before buying and utilize the staff’s expertise—most will be happy to share their enthusiasm for gardening.  And if you don't have any land in which to dig, there are plenty of blooming plants that will look beautiful in a window box, hanging outside, or hanging in a sunny corner of your home.

Have a creative day!

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Chocolate Cake

There's a moistness to it you don't get with just any chocolate cake.  Its dense yet light, has beautiful texture and complimenting the cake is the silky smooth homemade icing that melts wonderfully between my tongue and the roof of my mouth.  I make great homemade chocolate cake. 

The cake is time consuming and requires fresh ingredients but its worth it.  The smell of the cake baking only furthers the anticipation.  The texture, taste, smell, and moistness all contribute to the experience.  And since I don’t make it all the time the chocolate cake almost becomes an event.  

I have made a chocolate cake for no reason, just for me.  But not often—there’s no way I can finish one myself so it seems like such a waste if I don't have an occassion.  So I save the cake for special times, birthdays and holidays.  Some of you may do the same with table linens or an expensive perfume or the silver service.  But what happened if I made the chocolate cake once a week and used Grandma’s hand stitched linens daily?  Would they cease to be less special?  Is that our fear?  

We all have perfectly logical reasons for why we treat some things as sacred or  “for special occasions only” and that can be good.  But reevaluate what you treat as special and consider using the things you felt should only be behind glass.  Life is meant to be lived after all—one piece of chocolate cake at a time.

Try it!  So you have someone's birthday coming up and you said you'd bring the cake but its been a long week and you're frankly no in any mood to make a home made cake.  You can put your homemade touch on a boxed chocolate cake mix. I get a dark chocolate fudge cake mix,  add a dash of vanilla flavoring, olive oil instead of vegetable oil and instead of water use a cup of cool coffee or a coffee and buttermilk combination. Add ½ a bag of mini chocolate chips for richness and garnish the frosting with chocolate shavings….see if anyone can tell it was made from a box!

And why don't you get out Grandma's antique cake stand or the good china?   Yes, it might break or it might not.   Let it go and have a piece of cake.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Piles, Piles, Piles!

Are you one of those people who has various piles of stuff to deal with?  Is your dining room decorated in Early American Clutter?  Do you feel frustrated because you simply don't know what to do with stuff?   You're not alone--keep reading for encouragement! Among other things I've done in life, I've studied professional organizing and though I'm not immune to piles I have tamed them for tthe most part.

First we have to understand that piles are just delayed decisions.   We aren’t sure what to do with it or we don’t know where to put it or we're looking for the other part of something or we need more information before we can throw it or file it.   The dining room table, center island or coffee table--whatever the favored spot, I know you have a pile there!   Let's face it,  the clutter is stuff we don’t want to deal with. 

Imagine those piles representing our inner ‘stuff ‘ that we don’t want to deal with.  How many piles would you have then?   Would you have to put on an addition to hold it all?   Most of what I write is processing inner stuff to which I think anyone can relate. The Bible says that no temptation is that which is but common to man.  So we all have similar temptations though we are all quite unique.  And we’re all tempted to delay decisions resulting in piles.  And the piles get bigger until we hate the piles and we finally make decisions or we throw it all and get rid of any decisions to be made.

There are many great organizational methods designed to get us to deal with the piles.  There are the piles of Act Upon, Read, and Throw which equals: ART.  There’s FAT: File, Act Upon, Throw,  and any number of other acronyms designed to quickly remind us of what to do with our stuff.   I use ART because, well, I love art!  Easy to remember and easy to do.   

There’s also the rule that says you should only handle a piece of paper once before putting it in its permanent home—make immediate decisions about something and then deal with the paper.  This doesn’t work for me because I often don’t have all the information I need to make a decision on the spot so it goes in, yep, you guessed it—a pile.  For any time sensitive material, I try to put it somewhere visible because with me it's out of sight, out of mind.  So, my approach to organization has to be very visual--color coded bins, open shelving so i can see things.  I take my cues from grade school classrooms—they stay neat because there’s a labeled bin for everything—do the same and not only will you be able to find things, but you also tame your clutter.

Caution:  Avoid the miscellaneous category--its just a bin of more delayed decisions.  The things in it usually end up there because they don't have any like items with which to be make a bin or box or basket for it on its own. 

A note about your uniqueness--your organization system doesn't have to make sense to anyone but you unless a lot of other people will use it.   If you're visual, put things where you can see them or create a board or visible list of where things are if they can't be out in the open. 

Do it:  Use A.R.T or  F.A.T. or any other simple organization technique of your creation to manage your piles.  Designate a drawer or prominently placed basket for time sensitive or very important things.   You will control the clutter when you 1) understand why things pile up  2) proactively create a plan to deal with the stuff that comes in and 3) are consistent in moving the things that must go out.  

Have a creative (and organized) day!


Thursday, May 5, 2011


I love the smell of wood.  Sometimes you can identify a wood just by its smell. Take cedar or cypress for instance.  I love seeing the wood grain patterns created by the way in which it was cut…the rings that took so many years to produce.  I love the feel of smooth wood under my fingertips and I love its ability to be molded and shaped, cut and chiseled into so many different things. 

I wonder if Jesus felt so strongly about wood?  He was a carpenter.  I wonder what he enjoyed about wood? I wonder what types of things he would have crafted?  Boats?  Furniture?  Coffins?  Canes?

He died on a wooden cross.  Is it a coincidence?  I wonder if he could smell the wood and if that was comforting as he was dying? 

         Think about it: If you were given a block of wood in any species of your choice,  what would it be and what would you do with it? 

Have a creative day!


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A Permanent Reminder

We likely all have them--a scar, an injury, a story of some sort-- a permanent reminder of a moment in time we can't undo.  I have a few reminders--a scar on my chin, a scar on my knee, and recently a finger that's partly numb due to a puncture wound--not as bad as the guy's above though :) 

These scars, injuries and stories are a part of our history.  In a world where we unfriend and delete others from our lives with a click, these permanent reminders are good reminders that we are human,--not invincible, and that we come from somewhere.  They remind us we cannot delete the unpleasant moments of life.

I awoke this morning to memories of old friends that I had failed.   I was not a true friend to them.  I look back and know that I harbored anger and resentment but I couldn't articulate it at the time.   In fact it was much later that I understood it.   Though I didn't feel they would recieve my thoughts at the time and that it was likely why I turned my back on them, it was not right to do so and I have harbored regret.   That regret is also a kind of permanent mark but on the soul, not the body.

God is a loving, merciful God, the balm of Gilead, the patient shepherd.... Though forgiven, he allows us to feel the sting of regret as a reminder to stay on the good path.   I think of David and his sin with Bathsheba--David felt that regret and the separation from God and because it was so awful he never wanted to experience it again.    A bad moment in time with long-term consequences.   I believe our own regret is a powerful burden to bear.

So, we can wallow in regret or we can ask forgiveness and get on with gettin' on.  Sometimes forgiving ourselves is the harder task.   I think the best thing to do is to pay it forward in some way--tell the story so that others can benefit from your mistakes--that would be much more creative than wallowing, wouldn't it?  Regret and sadness aren't the most creative choices one could make--And for all the creative types reading this you know you're far too creative to choose it!  So get creatifve--find a new way to deal with your regrets, disappointments and self-loathing--how could you benefit others (and yourself) by choosing differently?

Have a creative day!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Uh, Why Did I Say THAT?


   Foot, Meet Mouth!

Have you ever said something and the moment you finished you thought, “Oh, why did I say that!?”     Are you nodding?  Ok, you’re a confirmed member of the foot-in-mouth-club.   The cool thing about the club is that we’re hardly exclusive.  We have millions of members world wide! 

How do you get out of it, though—that’s the kicker.  Depending on the offense you could utter many things.  Here are a list of my favorites—and yes I’ve used some of them!

“Oh did you say ________? I thought you said __________!  Sorry for the confusion!
I’m sorry, my mouth censor was turned off!”
“Please forget I said/asked that.”
“Forgive my intrusion, I wasn’t thinking.”
“I’m sorry I’m so curious, please don’t pay any attention to me.”
“I didn’t mean to hurt you, I got caught up in the moment.”
“I can’t believe I just said that!  Someone keep an eye on me!”
“Its time for my meds—I know because I just say anything that comes to mind!”
“Sorry, I’m tense and I’m taking it out on everyone—forgive me.”
“This environment/ situation has me on edge—I’m sorry.”
“I’ve had a bad day and I’m taking it out on you—please forgive me.”
“I haven’t had any chocolate today so it makes me crabby—I’m sorry.”
“Can you forgive me?  I’m a ditz.”
“Well, I’m so rude—why don’t I just ask your weight next!”
“I don’t want to be snippy—I’m not sure what’s bothering me but it certainly isn’t you—I’m sorry.”

Write it down:  Create five “I’m sorry” messages of your own based on the kinds of friends and situations in which you might find yourself.  We will surely say something dumb in the future—lets be proactive in fixing it!

Have a Creative Day!