Category Archives: Misc. Musings

The 2016 Lady Project Summit in Providence

The Lady Project Summit-March 12, 2016
The Lady Project Summit-March 12, 2016
I had the privilege of attending the 2016 Lady Project Summit this past weekend in Providence, RI. What a fabulous summit! To begin with, I had had a magical week. My fourteen-year-old daughter wrote a gutsy, badass slam poem and performed it for her English class on being a feminist. It  made me realize that my little girl is not a little girl anymore, but rather a young woman to be reckoned with. Going with that optimism, I then went to the Lady Project Summit (LPS) on Saturday. When I walked into the LPS, I was surrounded by an exuberant  group of women, mainly younger than myself, all abuzz about the event. I overheard women introducing themselves, networking over breakfast, discussing their work, and so forth, even before the opening keynote speaker, Ann Shoket, Millennial Thought Leader and former Editor-in-Chief at Seventeen, addressed the group. The Lady Project, founded by Sierra Barter, and Julie Sygiel, is a nonprofit organization that brings women together to share ideas and resources, and to connect, inspire and showcase women and their achievements.  Attendees to the LPS are able to choose from  a variety of workshops and panels given by enthusiastic women from all walks of life. A few of the workshops I signed up for included "Networking Your Way To Success: Play the Long Game" led by Boston-based lawyer, Monica Singh, "Editorial Styling 101: Tips for Defining Your Style + Getting Your Work Published led by Style Me Pretty blog founder Abby Capalbo, and "How to Take Charge of Your Financial Future" led by Maureen Kerrigan and Courtney Chellgren from RBC Wealth Management. I was so inspired and honored to be able to explore ideas with other women, to hear about their triumphs, dreams, and struggles. As a mother/step-mother of three girls, I am encouraged by the prospects that young women have today, especially as women help each other to be their best selves and define their place in society, rather than let men define it for them. In a nutshell, that's what the Lady Project Summit is all about.
Cupcake Swag!
Cupcake Swag from LPS!
Here are some of the highlights that I gleaned from the keynote speakers:
  • From Ann Shoket: “Women need to help each other to get their big life…you have no idea the adventures around the corner…”
  • From Ruma Bose, President of Chobani Ventures and Chobani Foundation: “Aim High, Never Settle, Never Think You’re Done, and Trust Yourself.”
  • From Elaine Pouliot, former Sr. Vice President of Training and Development at IBM: “Share your secrets; help other women. Just because you give a muffin recipe to someone, doesn’t mean it will turn out”…or taste the same way as your muffins.
  • Mother Theresa: "We each do our best when we help everyone around us do their best."
The bottom line is women need to support each other to achieve greatness and to solve some of the problems in the world.

Another witty knitty

Little Sweetness
Little Sweetness
"All of the children wore red-and-white spotted caps. If strangers came into the forest, they curled up, still as stone, for all the world like four red-and-white spotted mushrooms."   —from Children of the Forest by Elsa Beskow
My sister, Beth, recently gave me the Red Spotted Mushroom Hat knitting pattern. She bought the pattern from Ingebretsen's, a magnificent Scandinavian store in Minneapolis, Minnesota that my Norwegian family has frequented many times over the years. The pattern was inspired by Elsa Beksow's beloved children's book entitled Children of the Forest. This is a delightful story that revels in childhood and the beauty of nature. The illustrations are simply enchanting. After re-reading the story, I couldn't wait to knit the hat. As mentioned in a previous post, I love knitting baby items because they don't take long to knit, and they're so fun to give away. Paired with the book, this makes a perfect gift for one of my many colleagues that are expecting. You can never predict what toys or gifts a baby or a young child will like, especially when it comes to hats! You can't take it personally. Fortunately for me, this little sweetness likes her hat so much that she wears it both indoors and out!
Children of the Forest
Children of the Forest
Sweet One
Sweet One

An Opinion on Styling a Bookshelf

Bookshelf from B @ H http://bliss-athome.com/2015/01/26/grasscloth/
Love the styling of this bookshelf from B @ H
http://bliss-athome.com/2015/01/26/grasscloth/
I have been an avid reader since I was a very young girl. I have those fond memories, like so many other avid readers, of going to the local library with my mom, cloth book bags in hand, getting a stack of books. I regularly attend book festivals (LOVE the Nantucket Book Festival) or author engagements. (In RI, Robin Kall puts together marvelous author events.) I'm in a terrific book club, Reading Between the Wines, and contrary to our husbands' quips, we do discuss the books. I'm also an English as a Second Language Teacher and a Reading Specialist. I work with high school students. I do not teach them to learn to read (i.e., decoding/phonics), but rather I teach them how to read to learn (i.e., comprehension strategies). I am also a book snob. If I don't see books in a person's home or apartment, I immediately notice. Are they strictly E-readers? I wonder. Do they check their books out from the library and keep them by their bedside? or Are they simply non-readers? (Gasp!) Therefore, I feel compelled to comment on the use of books for decorative purposes only in styling bookshelves as...distasteful.
Book spine facing inward-what?! (From The DIY Playbook Blog)
Book spine facing inward(From The DIY Playbook Blog)
Don't get me wrong. I appreciate the styled book shelf at right. I love the gals (Bridget & Casey) behind the blog The DIY Playbook. I think their ideas are creative and their blog fantastic. I am not a hater. I just don't understand the concept of displaying books with the spine (i.e., the title) hidden.
www.thediyplaybook.com
www.thediyplaybook.com
Covered Books by April Foster.blogspot.com
Covered Books by April Foster.blogspot.com
I also do not like the idea of covering books in decorative paper. Okay, I love the look of the map-covered books at right creatively displayed by April Foster on her blog. Her aesthetic matches my own. However, as an avid reader, why would you do this?
From www.allthingsthrifty.com
From www.allthingsthrifty.com
You have no idea what is under the paper, you have no intention of sharing your books with others, you cannot derive the pleasure of seeing the title of a book that you read and loved, and taking a moment and basking in the memory of that experience. So as I rework my own messy, chaotic bookshelf, I do want to practice the art of styling it a bit; however, I still want, no NEED, to see the titles of the books. They are my prized possessions. They contain my journeys,  my memories, my friends, and so much more. Next post, I will share my attempt to re-style my bookshelves. Currently my shelves look like this:
Creative Whimzy book shelf
Creative Whimzy book shelf
bookcase 3

Wedding Musings

#OfficiallyObara
#OfficiallyObara
My step daughter got married a week and a half ago. What a rush!  The day was simply spectacular. The wedding ceremony and reception, held at The Dunes Club in Narragansett, RI, was sublime. Simone got engaged in April and they decided on an August wedding IN THE SAME YEAR. It can be done, people, and without the help of a wedding planner. As the bride & groom, you just need to be organized (think Excel spreadsheet & Type A personalities) and have creative, trustworthy family members who will carry out your plans accordingly. I got married in 2000, just a mere 15 years ago. It did not feel that long ago, but my-oh-my how quickly times have changed. The biggest change, no surprise, SOCIAL MEDIA. Now at weddings, people use hashtags to publicize events in real time. Here is something I made to help people tweet out the happy event. The chalkboard is from Walmart.
#wedding sign by Creative Whimzy
#wedding sign by Creative Whimzy
Continue reading Wedding Musings

The Wedding of a Blended Family

Bamboo, symbol of integrity My oldest stepdaughter, Simone, is getting married in less than a week. Woohoo! I'm so excited and thrilled for her. I first met Simone when she was 7 years old and now she's 24, and has just finished up her first year of medical school. She's always been one of those people who "plans her work, and works her plan." She's got grace & style, and a whopping load of intelligence & humility. After attending her bridal shower a few months back and looking at the photo of the four moms, (his mom, his step mom, her mom, and myself, her step mom), I've had time to ponder over being part of a blended family. Her dad and mom divorced when she was very young. Her mom remarried, and I'm married, obviously, to her dad. Additionally, Simone's fiance's parents are also divorced, and remarried. And to further confuse the situation, Simone's mom's parents are divorced and remarried. So the happy occasion will include a big gathering of family that includes sisters,  brothers, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, step sisters, half sisters, step moms, step dads, and step grandparents. You might be shaking your head at this point, and thinking, "yikes!", but I feel blessed.  As we've all gotten older, the so-called fractured family has moved closer together by attending theater performances, viewing volleyball tournaments, celebrating high school & college graduations, and now a wedding. It is a privilege and an honor to know Simone's very extended family, for through it all, we have not lost sight of what's important--to love and support our children. As Hillary Clinton said, "It takes a village." Our extended, blended family is like the bamboo. Chinese culture holds bamboo in high regard. Many Chinese believe that bamboo "combines upright integrity with accommodating flexibility"...and has an "ability to cope with adversity and still stand firmly without losing its original ground" ( http://www.livingartsoriginals.com/flower-bamboo.htm). We have not lost sight of our original ground. In a future post I'll share some of the creative touches that I've contributed to the festivities, but for now, I just wanted to share my awe and love for Simone and Bryan, and our blended family.

Trending Now: The Mason Jar

Bloody Mary in a Mason Jar
Bloody Mary in a Mason Jar
On a recent visit to Nantucket to attend the Nantucket Book Festival, my friends and I went to more than one upscale restaurant. And what were our drinks served in? Mason jars. It didn't matter whether it was a Bloody Mary or a glass of white wine, they all came in a mason jar. I regularly give my friends my homemade granola in mason jars.
Creative Whimzy Granola
Creative Whimzy Granola
Even my fourteen year old daughter loves mason jars. She puts battery operated votive candles in hers and uses them in her tree house. And two days ago, The Huffington Post ran a story called 56 New Ways to Repurpose a Mason Jar This Summer.  Here are a few of my favorites:
No Bake Key Lime Pie from www.amillionmoments.net
No Bake Key Lime Pie from www.amillionmoments.net
Mason Jar Superhero Bank from Firesandmudpies.com
Mason Jar Superhero Banks from Firesandmudpies.com
Chalkboard Lid Labels on Mason Jars from www.momstastic.com
Chalkboard Lid Labels on Mason Jars from www.momstastic.com
Citronella Mason Jar Candles from www.martysmusings.net
Citronella Mason Jar Candles from www.martysmusings.net
                                My friend, Maureen, over at Maureenmeanswell, made a bunch of gorgeous cards using a mason jar rubber stamp. I had to borrow her idea and make a birthday card.
www.maureenmeanswell.blogspot.com
www.maureenmeanswell.blogspot.com
www.maureenmeanswell.blogspot.com
www.maureenmeanswell.blogspot.com
             
www.creativewhimzy.com
www.creativewhimzy.com
    So what's the history of this ubiquitous jar? Poor John Landis Mason, who invented his jar for home-food preservation, and patented it in 1858, never made any money, and like so many other inventors, died a charity case. But before he came up with this clear glass with its threaded neck and screw-on lid, preserving food was tricky business. His invention helped home canners and remained popular through the 1950s. My grandmother, Daisy (born 1914; died 2009), was a big canner, probably out of necessity to survive the Great Depression. Her dill pickles were delicious. She taught both my mum and my sister, Beth, her trade secrets, and my sister cans something or other yearly, as does my friend, Bridget. Both Beth and Bridget fall in the Baby Boomer Generation. Not sure that canning is "a thing" among Generation X, Y or Z, but mason jars are EVERYWHERE.

Classic Mini Cooper DIY

www.creativewhimzy.com
www.creativewhimzy.com
So who knew you could buy gigantic stickers for your car?! Guys, of course! Today's DIY involves my car, but not just any car, my 1992 Classic British Racing Green Mini Cooper. (My husband suggested I write "classic" so as to distinguish it from the current BMW Mini Cooper.) For the record, I should clarify that I am NOT a car person, but I married someone who restores old Porsches (think 356s), Land Rovers, and more as a hobby, so by default, I drive cool cars. When I first met my husband, I was a thirtysomething, living in NYC, and had NEVER owned a car in the U.S. (I did own a car in Japan, but that's another story.) My husband was living in Rhode Island, and while we were courting, he asked me, nonchalantly, what kind of cars I liked. At this point, I had no idea the extent of his interest in cars.  Hmm, growing up I vaguely remember a VW Beetle, a Gremlin, a Dodge Omni... Obviously, I did NOT come from car people,  although the 'ole Beetle was and is still hip. However, after living in the UK for a semester freshman year of college (1984), I had fallen in love with the Mini Cooper. I told him I also liked the E Type Jaguar (from my favorite movie, "Harold and Maude"). I guess I must have passed the test, because he later asked me to marry him —probably based on my car choices or maybe it was the inadvertent James Dean 550 Spyder postcard I sent him. (I'm not kidding.)
James Dean in a 550 Spyder
James Dean in a 550 Spyder
My Mini Cooper Model Collection
My Mini Cooper Model Collection
Over the sixteen years that we've been together, I've acquired a few Mini Cooper model cars from my husband, but then two years ago he surprised me with the real deal for Christmas. I was flabbergasted, of course. I mean, who gets a car for a present?! Flash forward to today's DIY.  We decided to wrap my roof with the Union Jack, i.e., put a gigantic British flag sticker on top.
www.creativewhimzy.com
www.creativewhimzy.com
First, my husband had to tape together the various parts of the flag. Then we had to measure the sticker's placement on the roof. It helps when your husband is a perfectionist, because this took some time. Then slowly we (okay, he) peeled a section of the sticker off at a time, using a small roller and a straight edge to smooth out the bubbles.
www.creativewhimzy.com
www.creativewhimzy.com
www.creativewhimzy.com
www.creativewhimzy.com
www.creativewhimzy.com
www.creativewhimzy.com
The whole process took about three hours, but the end result is, even to a non-car person, pretty cool. If you google "vinyl car wraps", you'll find options for your own car.

Edesia, the Roman Goddess of Food & a Life Saver

www.edesiaglobal.org
www.edesiaglobal.org
When someone asks me about my blog, I’m a little uncertain as to how to respond since I haven’t quite figured out my niche just yet.   However, there are definitely benefits to having an unchartered path. Recently, a very good friend of mine, Elizabeth Atalay, and author of the blog, Documama.org, invited me to tour Edesia, a nonprofit manufacturing company in Rhode Island

Did you know that 17 million children in our world have severe acute malnutrition?

Edesia is this incredible Rhode Island company that tries to tackle the problem of severe and moderate acute malnutrition by making these easy-to-use packets of individual serving-sized food for young children.  The company makes several products, but one of their most remarkable products is Plumpy Nut®.  Plumpy Nut® is a deliciously rich-tasting nut product (Yes, I tried it!) that provides young children with the 40 necessary vitamins and minerals to survive.  The product is distributed by relief agencies such as USAID, UNICEF, and the World Food Programme.
Before/After - Plumpy Nut in about 6 weeks
Before/After - Plumpy Nut in about 6 weeks
www.edesiaglobal.org
www.edesiaglobal.org

3.1 million children die from malnutrition each year.

Along with some members of Rhody Bloggers, I was introduced to Karen Cooper, the company's Chief Development Officer, and Heidi Reed, the company's Communications Manager.  Both were such a pleasure to talk to, so committed and passionate about their jobs, and their company's mission.  As we walked through the facility, it was obvious that Edesia is an excellent company to work for and to support. Ms. Reed tapped on a  window and Emmanual, a very friendly employee, came out and welcomed us.  Edesia's employees represent 23+ countries of origin, and many of these people, themselves, were refugees or came from countries where acute malnutrition is a problem. Since it began production in 2010, Edesia has reached over 2.9 million malnourished children in over 46 countries, including Chad, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Haiti, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Syria.  Each packet costs approximately 35¢.  One box (150 packets) of Plumpy Nut® is enough to fully treat one child suffering from severe acute malnutrition (over an average time span of 4-10 weeks).  Pretty amazing stuff! My own mother passed away three years ago, but I plan to honor her this Mother's Day by giving a donation to Edesia to help a mother save the life of a child.  Please check out this amazing company, named after the Roman Goddess of Food, and consider making a donation too.

The Old Man & The Sea

My dad & me
My dad & me
Hemingway's "Old Man and the Sea" could have been modeled after my dad, swapping out the "sea" with "lake", or lakes rather (MN~Land of 10,000 Lakes).  My dad, who turns 83 today, is a crusty, curmudgeonly ole' Finlander (albeit American-born) who can catch fish even when the fish aren't biting.  Although he's slowed down a bit, and has a harder time getting his old bones out to the ice house in a MN winter, he still goes fishing as often as he is able in the warmer months.   Happy Birthday Pop!
Old Man on the Lake
Old Man & the Sea
Cleaning fish
My dad with love of his life.
My dad with the love of his life.
Just Keep Swimming by Creative Whimzy
Just Keep Swimming by Creative Whimzy

“A Martini Explorer” of Machu Picchu – Part I

IMG_9309
Bridget & Jo, Machu Picchu, July 2014
I learned the term "martini explorer" from the book Turn Right at Machu Picchu by Mark Adams. It's a euphemism for a person who thinks they're a tough traveler, but prefers a certain level of comfort and luxury. I've done quite a bit of travel in my day, but I have never considered myself a martini explorer. However, my experience trekking the Inca Trail  in Peru with my college buddy, Bridget, did turn out to have a bit more comfort and service than we anticipated. I think it had something to do with the 14 porters and 1 head cook to help 7 hikers plus a guide. Continue reading “A Martini Explorer” of Machu Picchu – Part I