28 February 2013

Once Upon a Dime: The Intuitive Path to a Happy Family (Part 2)

Read the first part of The Intuitive Path here.

In the case of choosing to marry my future wife, the intuitive message that I made the right decision, was the immense sense of comfort in her company, which proved to be both mutual and lasting. This year we’ll be celebrating our twelfth wedding anniversary and by now we can confidently call ourselves a well seasoned couple.

Embracing voluntary modesty
Cheryl and I have lived in not entirely voluntary modesty since we first met and while we might have had a perpetual difficulty meeting the society-implied standards for the bottom line, we have always had each-other. The single greatest support when odds were against us.

Not only have we had a deep understanding and profound love for each-other, but we have nurtured common dreams of living close to nature. Because it instinctually felt like a fail-proof ambition, we decided to follow through and do it uncompromisingly. Not for egoistic reasons, but for the immediate realization that a consequently nature-informed way of life has to benefit not only ourselves and fellow human beings, but nature as a whole, animate and inanimate.

Photo: Cheryl Magyar

Living close to nature
When some seven years ago the two of us toured the countryside in search for home and came across our future homestead as a place for sale, we let – again –, that already familiar great sense of comfort and arrival be the decisive factor, not the visual (un)appeal of five buildings all in different stages of dilapidation, the land managed with conventional, soil-disturbing and soil-depleting methods, or a murky pond. We felt like children who just set their feet on the most exciting playground they had ever been. Locals eventually told us we overpaid, but we considered it a possible dream come true and didn’t even negotiate.

Was it not for the maturity of our relationship with my wife after nine years of “together” and “we”, was it not for separating from the selfish “me”, we would probably not have been able to provide our daughter, Csermely, with such a truly awesome arrival as we did: in the intimacy of our home and facilitated by no one else but her mother, her father and herself.

Living a healthy life
Yes, it also took cutting the mental umbilical cord with customs and following instead trust in evolutionarily encoded capabilities, such as that of a healthy mother being entirely apt for giving life to her healthy offspring or – from the offspring’s angle – the healthy child wanting and being able to squeeze herself through the exhilaration of birth. From my fatherly perspective, in this same framework I had to and wanted nothing more than to subject to the unrelenting patience needed and give the best I could of my inherent helpfulness.

Relative poverty taught us more. Taught us to take good care of our own health – in fact much better care than any “solidarity” based conventional state healthcare system would. Taught us resilience and reliance of nature’s pharma. This also felt a very intuitive direction to take, however it does come along with informing ourselves and cross-referencing the information in the wider and wider pool of knowledge.

Photo: Cheryl Magyar
Being happy with less
In fact having to turn around on a dime augmented an avalanche of life changes. Showed us how much less than we had imagined is actually enough to be happy with. Helped us understand that we ought to let go of physical and cultural inheritances that are incompatible with a sustainable future, the new culture that we (and you, dear reader) have to bring alive. Along this same way, we rethought our nutrition. Keeping our minds and digestive tracts open for diverse and only real foods, we virtually shut the passed down cook books for good – for better.

It only felt natural to shed our synthetic and synthetically altered natural garments off next. That’s where you would find us in real time: me sewing my hemp rope shoe soles, Cheryl knitting her new wool vest and Csermely proudly modeling the latest handcrafted garments her parents fashion.

I find these kinds of ambitions healthy spirited. Don’t you? Yet I feel the need to mention that it is precisely here, where legislature of both totalitarian and democratic political systems have a real shortcoming. If one’s healthy spirited desires do not meet the alleged interest of a majority (by laws, traditions, etc.), the individual and her dream is subject for squishing or labeling, which is hugely unjust toward the dignity and self fulfillment of that individual – let’s not forget that society as a whole also consists of individuals.

Never mind, we are and will be here to show humble example of just how much listening to our hearts can accomplish.

Join in and share the thoughts of your heart, too! We are eager to listen to its beat.

This post is part of Listen to Your Heart month on Kanelstrand. Read the rest of the posts here and join in the discussions, we'd love to know what you think!

Also, don't forget to Join us with Roland again on Thursday, February 28th to learn how to follow the intuitive path to a happy family.

Roland Magyar is a thirty five year old husband and father, a sustainable life designer with holistic approach. You can read more from him and his wife on their simple living blog, or else converse with them on Facebook.

26 February 2013

Once Upon a Dime: How to Follow Your Intuition (Part 1)

This February we are listening to our hearts. And what better way of doing this than by following our intuition. Today we are joined by Roland Magyar of Handcrafted Travellers who will share his and his wife's vision of simple sustainable living through following your intuition.

Many of you will likely agree with me that some (if not all) of the best decisions in life are made when one follows the whisperings of the heart and not the computations of the mind. It has certainly been true about the evolution of both my individual and my family life course.

However universally understandable the heart-mind division may seem though, I venture to call it an oversimplification of how we, “humanimals” function or should function in our decision making processes. It might pull a haze over one’s eyes: the cataracts of a binary system of sort that our modern lives are so much conditioned to, from the electoral campaigns (yes or no) and the way most appliances work (on or off), down into the most innocent childhood game of loves me/loves me not.
Photograph: Cheryl Magyar

It takes real effort to break out of this habit and relearn to appreciate nuances at their true value, notice patterns and try to understand the multidimensional way those interconnect.

Instincts and intuition
Where I am going with this, is trying to draw your attention to the hugely undervalued or – on the contrary – much mythologized realm of the instincts and intuition. Without going into how these relate, it is enough to point out that they do and they relate strongly. All animals follow them while foraging, when choosing mates, paths to take or places to rest, give birth or pass away. Once we accepted that we, too, are animals, it seems only natural to do the same.

In fact that is what our subconscious automatically does or at least tries to do. Nevertheless, way too often we override these messages with infantile action responses and replace the hugely complex and fine tuned suggestions with dumbed down, poor alternatives.

Listen to your heart or use your brains?
In simple language, I believe it is the kind recommendation of “listen to your heart” that is meant to address intuitive existence. And it indeed seems to be a much better guidance than the sheer slogan “use your brains”. Why? Because intuition, instinctive feelings incorporate so much more than just attempting to mechanically add up the most apparent bits of information into a coherent image.

When using intuition one reaches back to and effectively accesses in an instant the wealth of information otherwise surely overwhelming for the strictly rational judgment. It taps into our common evolutionary wisdom, emotional intelligence that is far older and far more tested to be good than the fragmented, traditions, customs based and often erroneous (ethnic) cultural heritage.

How could one harness this protective and life-affirming power?
Well yes, by adjusting pace of life to the natural rhythm of the locale, turning the volume of white noise off or down enough to hear what our conscience tells us. It will most likely tell us to be more humble, divorce from our material type desires that are in excess over our real needs and spend more time with whoever and whatever we love most.
Photograph: Cheryl Magyar

Being a father who made the conscious decision to watch closely his daughter’s personal development from day one of her life, I am very inclined to believe that as individuals we are born with good intentions, innocent curiosity and genuine love, strong draw for helping others, sharing what we have.

Most definitely this “givence” can be and is altered in any direction, good or bad, by the kind of environment that comes to nurture the forming sense of self. As a result, the individual inherently attuned to intuitive behavior, is – and I was not exempted either – progressively drifted away from it with age. But no matter how common this phenomenon is, I am convinced that it is not irreversible.

My very life as a soon to be married young man’s and later as spouse’s, settler’s and father’s stands to show proof. And I am but one of the many...

Now it's your turn, do you trust your intuition? Let us know in the comments.  

This post is part of Listen to Your Heart month on Kanelstrand. Read the rest of the posts here and join in the discussions, we'd love to know what you think!

Also, don't forget to Join us with Roland again on Thursday, February 28th to learn how to follow the intuitive path to a happy family.

Roland Magyar is a thirty five year old husband and father, a sustainable life designer with holistic approach. You can read more from him and his wife on their simple living blog, or else converse with them on Facebook.

22 February 2013

Keeping in Touch: the Inspiration Care Package

This post is written by contributing author Anabel Bouza.

As someone who has been moving around a lot, I lament the fact that I'm often leaving new friends behind. Oh, the heartbreak of creating friendships, just to say farewell...

Of course, I try to see the positive: I have friends in far places! As long as they're there, I can still call that place, home. Another good thing to result from this: it forces me to come up with fun ways to keep in touch.

That's how I arrived at the idea of the inspiration care package.

Photo: Anabel Bouza

All you need is a small tin can or similarly lidded, light-weight receptacle. As to the contents, the possibilities are endless. Some of my own ideas so far:

  • A mini-project in a box: all the materials needed to create a brooch, necklace, bookmark, or whatever you can fit within the container. 
  • A miniature stationery set: tiny pencil, pretty paper, ribbon, wax and seal...
  • A small diorama or collage, to be finalized by the person who receives it.
  • A tiny embroidery project. Include the pattern — even better if it's relevant to the person receiving it — needle and thread, even a tiny embroidery loop if it fits.
  • It could also be just a miniature collection of beautiful textures and colors, visually stimulating. Almost like an amulet to keep inspiration flowing!
I've been hoarding buttons, paper, and fabric my whole life, so I have more scraps and notions than the average human — although I suspect many of you are in the same situation. You're not? Well, don't feel discouraged! Just head into the world (or your cabinets) with a gatherer's mindset.

Photo: Anabel Bouza

Keep an eye out for graceful twigs, cool looking train tickets, blown out christmas bulbs... Any strange little thing can become treasure!

I can almost hear the collective gasp coming from the minimalist's corner! As long as you're making care-packages with your finds, they can't accumulate and weigh you down. Actually, this may be a good way to finally do something with all the random bits of beauty you already call clutter.

I would love to know what other people do with their scraps — those too small to use in your work, yet too precious to discard.

Would you like to be at the receiving end of an inspiration care package, or would you see it as 'homework'? 

This post is part of Listen to Your Heart month on Kanelstrand. Read the rest of the posts here and join in the discussions, we'd love to know what you think!

Anabel Bouza insists there's powerful magic in the action of creating something out of a vague vision, a chill of inspiration. She is an illustrator with a passion for nature, paper manipulation, and pointing her camera at things.

Her appreciation for simplicity dates back to a former life in Cuba - her strange homeland - where she refined the ability to see the alternative uses of common objects, and the enchanting side of things. She's often found blogging as
Weird Amiga, hard at work in her sunny studio, or staring at things as if looking at them for the first time. Her tiny family is comprised of her husband & a turtle; they're new to the city of Chicago, and they love it. Connect to Anabel via facebook and twitter.

21 February 2013

A Single Lady’s Month of Love

This post is written by contributing author Shelly Kerry.  

By the time this post is live we will have all survived Valentine’s Day. Many couples disregard this day as silly and frivolous, some singles lament this day as a reminder of singledom and others rejoice and celebrate their independence. Whether we like it or not most of us acknowledge this day in some regard.

Whether I am single as I am now or in a relationship, I like any excuse to spread extra love. It’s an excuse to bake, decorate with hearts and swoon over sweet photos on Pinterest. In a perfect world we wouldn’t need special days to remind us to do this but life is anything but perfect. This year, Sonya invited us to spend an entire month celebrating love with her series Listen to Your Heart. Her posts have inspired me to look at this month in a new light.

February can be dreary and although it is the shortest month it often feels long, heavy with wishes for warm spring, sandals and yummy new fruits and vegetables. It is a month often pushed aside. Why not spend it dedicated to loving yourself more, opening your heart and listening to your desires? I might not be spending the 14th at a romantic dinner with a loved one but I made a plan, as I do, and it involves spending the rest of the month trying to spread love. I have made a short list of ways of doing this if you would like to join me.
Photo: Rashida Coleman-Hale

Spread love through social media
Not only is social media a great way to promote your own talents and successes it is a great way to celebrate others. Dedicate at least one post a week to someone else. Has your friend just launched a new jewelry line? Tell all of your friends on Facebook. Instead of only posting about yourself show people how thoughtful you are by spreading someone else's fortunes. This is a great way to create new friendships and strengthen old ones and a wonderful reminder to step out of your own world sometimes. And P.S, people will like you more for it. I promise.

Tell someone you admire you like them
I spent some time last year writing to some of my favorite bloggers and telling them how awesome they are to me. By doing this I established some lovely virtual friendships and had a chance to write on a few of their blogs. This month, I plan on telling more people in my life how much I admire them. From the corner store owner who works everyday and always greets me with a smile to my co-workers who make my days much more pleasurable, people are going to be overwhelmed with my gratitude. Beware friends and neighbors!

Take myself out on a date
This winter I have been really nesting. The positive side - I have been crafting like crazy, planning my own organization line to launch next month on Etsy and even made a bench for my apartment. Downside - I have been not been taking myself out on dates. I go out with friends once or twice a week but I haven’t taken myself to dinner and a movie in a very long time. And I love taking myself out! So before February is over I am taking myself out on two dates. At night. And shopping doesn’t count.

This post is part of Listen to Your Heart month on Kanelstrand. Read the rest of the posts here and join in the discussions, we'd love to know what you think! 

So how do you plan on spreading love this month? 

Shelly is the founder of the program Creating Space, Mindful Living – motivating and inspiring people to run their businesses more efficiently. She helps others look at their personal and professional lives and explore what is and isn’t working. As a jewelry designer she has spent many years testing and honing the skills and discipline needed to run your own creative business while still having time for friends, family and fun. She puts her wealth of experience to use in the Creating Space service – healthy living advice to help keep you motivated and make the most out of your already busy schedule. She will help you find both the physical and emotional space so you can pursue your dreams and she’ll always insist there’s time for yourself. You can also find Creating Space on Facebook or contact shelly@creatingspacemindfulliving.com

19 February 2013

February in Norway

February in Norway is snowy white and icy cold. It often turns gray and bearably cold but never goes without the snow. Sometimes when I wake up I hear birds in the distance and I know that the day will be warmer or that maybe the sky will be blue for a change. On the days when I get to see the sun I feel like a mole who's crawled out of its earthy home.

I miss the brightness of the sun and the warm breeze from the fjord. I miss the color of summer and the smell of late spring.

But I also try to embrace the monotony of February, hoping it is here for the better.

For example, look at the following photo. See how much activity there is? The skiing man, the family with the baby stroller, the lady pulling her child in a sleigh, and the swimming dock, they all are on the frozen waters of the fjord. You can see the boats in the far right corner. It is an amazing feeling, having to walk on thick ice with so many people around. Some of them picnicking, others fishing through a whole in the ice, or simply walking from island to island.

The change in perspective is unforgettable and a great exercise in boosting your creativity. The secret life of the sea.
Turning back, there is an even better view of gentle reflections of the setting sun. Yes, this is still the same sea.
There is ice even in the middle of Oslo but people skate on it. In other words, ice and the weather are being throughly enjoyed by a nation used to live in an unfavorable climate.

Some places the ice brings stillness and poetic oblivion.

But where there is no ice, it is crowded and even livelier. At some spots along the river, the municipality has been warming up the water in favor of the wild birds like geese and swans.

The presence of wildlife is more subtle sometimes but that makes it ever so magical.

I love the hue of the snow - different in every moment of day and under the footsteps of animals an man.

But what I love most is my feathery friends whom I can see much better on the background of white fluffy snow.
 What do you love about February in your part of the world?

This post is part of the Seasons in Scandinavia series on Kanelstrand.

16 February 2013

Simplify Your Wardrobe

This post is written by contributing author Vanessa Williams.
So here we are, well into the new year now, and that can only mean one thing in my household - spring cleaning! With the weather’s being usually gray, dreary, and generally miserable, I turn my energy to closets and other black holes in my home to renew, refresh and clean out.

One of my biggest challenges, however, is to simplify my wardrobe. I have so many clothes that I hold onto for “just in case” or because it’s ever so slightly different than the next thing. I know I am not alone. So even though I try my best at minimalism, I fail miserably in the clothing department.

However, a recent pin on Pinterest inspired me to really get crackin’ and tackle the clothes project. I was always in awe of minimalist Josh Millburn’s apartment (You can take a pictorial tour here. I know that will never ever be me, but I was most impressed with his small, but versatile wardrobe. Sure, he’s a guy and by default needs significantly less attire than we ladies. But I was determined to see what I could do to simplify my own wardrobe.

If you’re anything like me you have clothing tucked away in the four corners of your house. I have bins under the bed, and in the attic. Clothes hanging in the hall closet and in my daughter’s closet. This doesn’t include the chest of drawers in my bedroom and my closet there. Out of control? Maybe - clothes have always been a vice for me. In any event I was determined to make at least the in-season clothes fit in only my bedroom, meaning in one closet and one large chest of drawers. This meant eliminating nearly half my wardrobe.

I began by figuring out my style and sticking to it. It is challenging at first to determine what your style is, as it is always evolving and changing but once you know what look you are going for, it becomes easier to let things go. Knowing what colors and what styles look good on you also helps. For me this means things that cinch at the waist, tailored jackets, and bottoms that give me room at the hips where I need it. Skinny jeans? Yeah, never going to make it in my wardrobe.

So once you’ve got that figured out you’re ready to start sorting your clothes. I grouped mine first by color, then by type. This allowed me to discover I had five - yes FIVE - short, black skirts. I mean, really. Give priority to basics which will be your workhorses. I think every girl needs for winter:
  • A white shirt
  • A neutral cardigan
  • A good pair of jeans
  • A pair of black trousers
  • A pair of gray trousers
  • A different sort of bottom (whether a patterned pant or skirt, a different color pant, etc.)
  • A black skirt
  • A black dress
  • A neutral jacket (gray or black)
Then pick a color, preferably your favorite, or the one that looks best on you, and build your wardrobe. These color items, along with your basics, give you a collection to work with. With just a few more shirts and the items listed above I bet you can make an entire MONTH’s worth of outfits - no kidding.
Don’t believe me? Just check out this pin that inspired the whole project:

Just to show you how I did it in my wardrobe I took nine items:
  • Black jacket
  • White shirt
  • Grey cardigan
  • Royal blue shirt
  • Blue striped sweater
  • Jeans
  • Black pants
  • Grey pants
  • Denim Skirt
And made eighteen outfits:
  • Black jacket + sweater + grey pants
  • Black jacket + blue shirt + grey pants
  • Black jacket + white shirt + grey pants
  • Black jacket + sweater + black pants
  • Black jacket + blue shirt + black pants
  • Black jacket + white shirt + black pants
  • Black jacket + white shirt + denim skirt
  • Black jacket + white shirt + jeans
  • Sweater +  jeans
  • Sweater + black pants
  • Grey cardigan + white shirt + jeans
  • Grey cardigan + white shirt + denim skirt
  • Grey cardigan + white shirt + grey pants
  • Grey cardigan + white shirt + black pants
  • Blue shirt + black pants
  • Blue shirt + gray pants
  • Blue shirt + jeans
  • Gray cardigan + sweater + jeans

I easily could have made more had my denim skirt been a little more basic, rather than high waisted. The same goes for my blue top. It was longer and cinched in the middle, making pairing it with the average length cardigan a bad idea. In any event, I was very encouraged. I felt ok letting go of other items knowing that with just a handful I could create so many outfits. I have a GIANT pile of clothes heading out the door and as we speak I am very close to hitting my goal of cutting my wardrobe in half.

So today I challenge you to simplify your wardrobe. If you do it to the extreme, it means no matter what you pull out of the drawer, the next item will match it. This will make getting dressed every morning a little easier and that’s something from which I think we all could benefit.

How many clothes there are in your wardrobe currently that you can live without?

Vanessa Williams is the author of A simply good life where she explores how lower standard of living doesn’t mean lower quality of life. After her decision to  get off the beaten track and forge new paths she has found that living with less actually means living with more. Vanessa explores the luring and dangerous grounds of the consumerism trap and offers a solemn and wise account of her real life experiences on the quest to finding what truly matters in life. Connect to Vanessa via twitter and facebook.

14 February 2013

Heart Cloud - a Free Wallpaper for You

Sometimes your heart is as light as a fluffy white cloud in the summer sky. Sometimes it is more like a stormy cloud, ready to burst with rain. Whatever the season I wish you to listen to your heart and follow it... up, up and beyond!

Happy Valentine's day to all!

I love you for your selfless support. Yes, even you, the ones who read quietly, without leaving a comment. I love you for taking the time to visit every day.

Here is a free wallpaper I made for you. It is available for desktop, laptop and mobile phones.

Download your wallpaper here: 1920x1080 | Android | iPad | iPhone 4 | iPhone 5

This post is part of Listen to Your Heart month on Kanelstrand. Read the rest of the posts here and join in the discussions, we'd love to know what you think! 

12 February 2013

The Importance of Loving Others More Than Yourself

Last month I asked you to share your most important priorities in life and was inspired by Alison LoBasso's strive to learn to love others more than herself. Loving others as opposed to loving yourself in an age of encouraged egocentrism seems like a pure act of craziness.

The philosophy of self-love
Nowadays we are continuously taught to love ourselves and to put our needs and wishes above all else. "I" is king, and carries its crown with a mighty vigor. But the more we get focused into loving ourselves. the more we devoid ourselves of real love and start to feel miserable.

Then we pay to get lectured by the New Age gurus about the steps we should take to produce love for ourselves and becoming self-sufficient. But ask any senior person in an old people's home how self-sufficient they feel loving themselves when there is no one of their family around.

While preaching self-love has a positive financial impact on some, today I offer you a free exercise in thought shaping instead. Here is an old example they used to give us at primary school:
Look at the sun. It rises each day and shines above us, it gives us light, energy, it helps the plants grow and produce oxygen for us to breathe. It gives without getting anything back in return. And yet it never runs out of sunshine.
Talk about selflessness. 

Why is it so hard for us, the most intelligent of species to give without expecting anything in return? Why should we learn to do it?

Photo: Shutterstock

The way we feel about ourselves affects the way we treat others
I am not trying to underestimate the feeling of acceptance and love for  yourself. But that feeling should be more like an act of self-respect -- the only way to create love in our life and to share it with others.

The way we feel about ourselves affects the way we treat others. If we are happy and content with ourselves we naturally treat others well.

Egocentrism vs. love
The moment self-love becomes the center of your life will be your first step to the unsatisfied life of a person for whom the grass is always greener on the other side.

Egocentrics believe the world evolves around them and there is nothing more important than what they feel, think or like. But that is a stage in human evolution which we outlive in our early life. At age 7–12, children become less egocentric and are able to appreciate viewpoints other than their own. In a contunuously infantilized world it is no wonder that more and more adults get stuck developmentally at their pre-school years.

According to some schools of modern thought loving yourself is indeed the pinnacle of love but research led by Baron and Hanna (1990) tested the connection between egocentrism and depression in adults and found out that the participants with depression showed higher levels of egocentrism. Therefore, this would suggest that a mentally healthy individual evolves out of most of their egocentric habits.

Shift your thoughts
Now here is a little push to help you get out and start shining upon the world instead of grabbing greedily from its riches.

1. Treat others with respect (i.e. the way you want to be treated)
Making people around you happy will help you feel happy. The thankfulness in people will increase your self-esteem and what is more, those that you treat well will likely repay you with the same kindness.

2. Develop empathy
Imagine how other people and living beings feel, what affects them, what hurts them or what makes them happy. Learn to listen to your heart.

3. Put the needs of other people before your own
Pay attention to the people in your life to find out what their needs are. Anticipate their feelings. Catering to their needs will not make you less important or miserable. On the contrary it will fill you up with a sense of accomplishment and joy. It takes time to learn to be considerate and sensitive but once you start trying you will only get better.

4. Reciprocate kindness
Be sensitive to the kind treatment you receive by others and try to reciprocate it. If someone treats you bad, rise above the occasion and respond with love and positivity.

5. Do more for others, but still take care of yourself 
Acting in a selfless manner and being attentive to others should not stop you from caring for yourself. You are just as important as anyone else is.

6. Don't be judgmental
It is easy to judge other people but try to live their life and you will find yourself making even more mistakes than you think they made. Try to be understanding and forgiving, and learn from other people's mistakes instead of labeling and judging them.

7. Give 
Giving is a lot more difficult than taking, especially to ungrateful people. But giving should not be about gratefulness either. Sometimes, it is just about the feeling you get for yourself. Giving adds up to your self-worth even if nobody else new about it.

With these 7 steps I offer you to shift your thoughts from "What can I get?" to "What can I offer?" If your attention is off yourself and about giving, the whole world around you will respond by giving back to you. And you will receive the love you long for! And that is why I think that loving others more than you yourself is the only way you can feel continually loved.

Now tell me, how do you feel when you try to make other people loved?

This post is part of Listen to Your Heart month on Kanelstrand. Read the rest of the posts here and join in the discussions, we'd love to know what you think!

09 February 2013

Weekend DIY: How To Make Constellation Cards

This post is written by contributing authors Vivid Please. 

As most of you will know, I'm pretty obsessed with space. With Valentines Day just around the corner I figured there would be no better excuse to indulge in creating a special DIY inspired by my love of constellations. This one is for all you star crossed lovers... get it? 

This tutorial is really simple, cheap and it only takes a few minutes to make something really special. The best part is you probably have the things you need to make it already at home.

Grab yourself a blank notecard (or fold a piece of card in half), a needle, pencil and some thread. I'm using embroidery thread as it'll stand out really nicely, but you can use just about anything.

The best way to start this project is to map on the card where your constellation stars will be. Using a pencil, mark out little crosses or stars for guidance. You could even join the dots to keep you right for where you're going to be stitching. 

Above is a quick guidance I made of 4 awesome constellations which you can copy / trace onto your card. You're welcome ;) You can google these if you wish to add in more stars (some of them are epic, these are simplified for ease and speed), or alternatively you could look through some Zodiac signs which would be amazing for birthday cards :D

The easiest way to stitch through card is to pierce the holes first. Using your needle, make holes in all the pointers of the star. I've started by creating Xs which is a simpler way to do things, but having 6 points instead of 4 is much nicer if you have the time...

Start by going through the inside of the card so your knot and 'messy' thread will be hidden till the card is open. Once you're done stitching, you could cover this up by sticking a little piece of paper over it; that'll protect your artwork too. Cross over all your stitches so each look like an x or *

To make sure everyone can make out the constellation, it's nice to add a little line of thread between each star. I did this as I went along, but you can always fill them in later if you're not sure you want to add them.

Oooh! Pretty! To finish it off you can use a silver pen to add in a few more stars to that beautiful night sky...


I think I'm going to make the whole set and pop them on my wall. Educational and pretty. Neat, huh! 

We hope you have fun making these starry starry night cards :)

Oh, and Happy Valentines Day when it comes! 

Vivid Please are known as Vicky and David when they are not together, but to be fair, that is rarely the case. Forever collecting odd trinkets and pointing at cute dogs, they believe that happiness is found in the little things. Their etsy shop stocks everything from prints and stationery to bags and accessories, everyday life has never seemed so fun! You can keep up with them by following their blog Vivid Please where they share their awesome DIYs, cool design and fashion posts and, of course, lots of snapshots from their world of wonder. Connect with Vivid Please on Twitter and Pinterest

07 February 2013

The Cure for Boredom is Simplicity

Once you begin the journey to a simpler lifestyle a lot of questions start arising. Like, how will I live without my stuff now that I'm downsizing? How will I prevent feeling bored when I deliberately choose simplicity? Don't worry because simplicity IS the cure for boredom, however unlikely that might sound to you right now.

What is boredom
In a life overpopulated by media of all kinds getting used to be entertained is the most common of vices. Being brought up by TV programs and growing up with a game console/mobile phone embedded in their hands, children have a hard time being simply by themselves or enjoying simple age-old games that don't need electricity.
growing up with video games
Photo: Amanda Tipton

I openly blame bad parenting for that. Letting your kids get carried away by the waves of apathy generated by television or video games is a sign of false love motivated by self-love.

Bored children grow up to become bored adults, unable to keep company to themselves, expecting the world around to provide for them - entertainment, fun, motivation, you name it. Unfortunately, such mindset makes people forever unhappy with what they have, forever dreaming of the next great thing they still don't have... forever envying the grass that's greener on the other side.

But boredom can also be a destructive force. A 2005 study of 92 Scottish teenagers found that boredom was among the top reasons stated for taking drugs.

In learning, boredom is connected to intelligence. People tend to get bored when something is either too incomprehensive or too easy for them. Or when they cannot focus.

In everyday life, boredom can appear when the same activity is repeated again and again and you are not motivated.

Boredom and simplicity
If you are inexperienced at simple living you might be slightly taken aback by the notion of minimizing your possessions, decluttering the space around you, reducing the time you spend connected.

Such a life might seem too intense at first, too empty, and boring. But that is if you are relying on the outside to give you purpose.

But don't despair, there are steps you can take to awaken your interest in the world and never feel bored, and these steps are part of the simplicity you are striving for.

How to cure boredom
Get out of your comfort zone
Challenge yourself to go about the same old routine with a new twist, add an activity that has been scary to you, do your chores in a different manner, which has been unthinkable before. Suddenly your mind will get focused on the exciting part, instead of the tedious one. Embrace new activities, hobbies and points of view. Think about them, discuss them, do them. Life is too short to be spent in boredom and apathy.

Last month I took a self-imposed challenge to get out of my comfort zone which set my creativity on fire and refreshed my mind. I am still continuing with it!

Focus on what is really important to you, define your goals. Make a decision based on your priorities. You can learn to focus by spending time alone in nature, or in quiet contemplation. Or you can start a creative project - it will set your mind at a different frequency and will help you concentrate.

Whenever I work on my photographs to turn them into surreal artworks I seem to transfer to a parallel world where anything is possible. While I am concentrated on the act of creating my thoughts roam freely and I often have problems solved by themselves at the end or my working process.

Stop distraction
Living in a complex, hyper-stimulating world, we have grown used to being distracted. In fact, without distraction we feel like life becomes stagnant. But distraction, as well as multi-tasking are a plague to your mind that only steal your focus. Learn to do one thing at a time and to be fully present.

I was a proud multi-tasker until the day I realized that was nothing to be proud with. I've been trying to completely stop multi-tasking in order to keep my sanity and to ensure that I am doing my best in every situation.

Start a journal to help streamline your thoughts and to increase your sense of purpose. You will be surprised by thoughts you will witness yourself write down.

I have been a writer ever since I learned to write and still have my teen  journals kept by my mother. Nowadays blogging has become my journaling and I appreciate the way it has helped my conscience grow.

Be quiet
Learn to sit quietly in a room with just yourself as company. Instead of feeling frustrated or bored, enjoy the silence, listen to your heart and your thoughts.

Sitting quietly is a favorite of mine. Or walking quietly. I remember many of my walks in the forest, through all seasons when I wished I didn't make a noise so I don't ruin the perfect moment of bird songs, gentle wind and the sound of the waves; or the drops falling from the melting snow.

Dorothy Parker says that "the cure for boredom is curiosity". I say that the cure for boredom is simplicity.

By simplifying your priorities you get a clear vision to the path you are walking. Simple methods, simple actions leave no space for boredom, on the contrary, they fill your everyday with mindful activities that motivate you and make you feel satisfied with your choices.

After embracing a simpler and more mindful lifestyle you will look back at your previous self and wonder how have you managed to live before and you will not remember what filled your days, I promise.

How do you deal with boredom?

05 February 2013

How to Listen to Your Heart

In which I ask some awkward questions and try to outline the way to listen to your heart.

In a room full of people and noises, where electric fields collide to create a web of invisible discomfort I try to listen to my heart. I put my headphones in a desperate attempt to isolate the outer world but the TV is too loud.

Blaise Pascal believed that "All men’s miseries derive from not being able to sit in a quiet room alone." but today I am faced with the challenge to sit in a noisy room surrounded by people while trying to have a conversation with my heart.

My attempts remind me how hard it is to differentiate between all the voices in my head and actually know when my heart is speaking. 
How to listen to your heart -practical advice
Photo: Doc Oren
We grow up according to society's standards and are formed by the collective intelligence of the human race. As much as we benefit from that we also suffer because with each birthday we get farther away from our true nature.

Have you noticed how sensitive young children are and how simple the world is to them? Have you considered why your world is so complex compared to your 5-year-old self?

The reason is that you have stopped listening to your heart.

You have become so accustomed to do what is expected and to think what is suitable that you no longer hear the voice of your heart.

Except if you experience something mind-shattering and you find a reason to change your life, to live close to nature, to slow down.

Do you need a tragic event in your life to acknowledge the voice of your heart?

Our lives have become increasingly busy over a short period in the history of humankind.

Work, technology, fun, multitasking, competition, extraordinary pressure of information all around us... It is easy to get lost if you disregard the gentle voice of your heart.

But there area few easy steps you can take in order to learn listen to your heart and live a simpler life.

1. Ignore the ego. It is the false you. Once you turn its volume down you will open the door to the voice of your heart.

2. Spend more time alone. Slow down and enjoy being by yourself. Make sure you spend at least 30 minutes a day alone in a quiet place without any electronic devices, preferably outside. This reconnection will turn the volume of your heart's voice up and it will be easier for you to hear it.

3. Create. By involving yourself into creativity your mind gets in a higher state, which takes you a step closer to your heart. Take the time to do whatever you like - paint, knit, sew - any creative activity will provoke your heart to manifest itself.

4. Give up. In Western culture we are taught that we should be proactive in life and so we act accordingly. But once you take a step back and give up you allow  yourself to go with flow. You get rid of the burden to direct life. You stop forcing things to happen around you and they can bloom and direct you along your road.

5. Follow your heart. Your heart's voice may contradict all else but try to follow it. It is the only way to reclaim your true self and to start liking your decisions, which will help you like yourself!

Simple as these steps are they might take some time to get used to. But if you trust yourself you will start trusting your heart too.
“The only way to get what you really want, is to know what you really want. And the only way to know what you really want, is to know yourself. And the only way to know yourself, is to be yourself. And the only way to be yourself is to listen to your heart.” Mike Dooley
What is the major obstacle that keeps you from listening to your heart?

03 February 2013

Weekend DIY: Heart Felt Valentine's Day Cards

This post is written by contributing author Angela Hamilton.   

Valentine’s Day preparation is in full swing: boxes of cards on the shelves in department stores, countless bags of candy, and all those big-name diamond retailers competing for air time on TV. It might be the very reason many of us do not like Valentine’s Day. Gifts can feel forced, people can feel obligated to buy expensive dinners, or feel crunched for time in finding a personal card. Instead of dreading February 14th, I have an easy project that could replace those mass-produced cards and bring a bigger smile to your loved ones’ faces. 
DIY - Heart Felt Valentine's Day Cards
This DIY only takes a few minutes for each card, and is so customizable. I used my alphabet stamps, left over card stock, and one sheet of stiff felt. You’ll also need some sort of backing for your heart, like a pin or hair clip (or ring, or adhesive to make a sticker… there are many possibilities). I like to gather as many materials as possible from my own collection — take the paper from the recycle bin or use scrap fabric from another project — but admittedly I bought a pack of pins for these ones.
DIY - Heart Felt Valentine's Day Cards

Of course, after I made my first time, I had a "how did I not think of that?" moment when my boyfriend looked at the felt heart and said, oh I get it... heart felt. Yes, that's exactly what I was thinking...
DIY - Heart Felt Valentine's Day Cards

You can use the pin to poke a hole in the card and enclose it around the paper. Stamp whatever message you prefer, and it’s ready to go! I spruced it up with some twine that came wrapped around a recent Etsy purchase, and closed it with washi tape—no need for an envelope.

Wouldn’t this look so cute on an excited child’s dress shirt or in their hair? (Beware of sharp points, though).
DIY - Heart Felt Valentine's Day Brooch
I made a brooch for myself, too. Don't spread yourself too thin, allow time for a little self-love, too!  And my goal is to give a card to one person I might not normally reach out to. Why not wear your heart on your sleeve (or whatever)?

Angela Hamilton is a writer and crafter from the Pacific Northwest, and a recent college graduate who blogs about creativity, her adventures alongside her Nikon, and her thrift-shopping, list-making lifestyle. She is currently striving to find a balance between working full-time in an office and following those distant dreams of writing and making things every single day. Her blog is Garden & Sea, and she runs both a vintage shop  and a crochet shop on Etsy. Connect with Angela on Twitter.