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Get Your Thumbs GREEN!

Each month, Lacy of the lovely blog “Living on Love”, challenges her readers to do ONE thing that makes life a little more beautiful. The month of May is all about “getting (our) thumbs GREEN" and I couldn’t be more excited to participate!

Last summer I didn’t make much of an effort to beautify our backyard, because we went to Europe for a month, but this year we’re staying put, and I really want to make our home a little more special (remember this post about the outdoor movie theater? It’s still on my mind!).

That said, there are challenges and CHALLENGES. You may not know this about me, but I’ve got a horrible green thumb. As a matter of fact I have killed EVERY plant that has ever made its poor way into our home, which is one of the reasons I’ve gotten myself some helpers. AND: there are results to share! 

I was planning to offer a first peek into our backyard today, but still have some photo editing to do, so I’m going to share tomorrow instead.

Lacy, thank you for all your inspiration and for getting me started on this! Everyone else: check out Lacy’s blog! And don’t miss her fun DIY on how to make a herb garden!


images via Living on Love

Pin My Data & Other Stylish Office Supplies

I’m a lover of office accessories - especially the unique kind. Here are some handpicked items that promise to add a fun touch to any office space: a USB safety pin, a mini grass charging station, a Siri compatible iPhone dock, a perpetual wall calendar, a checklist rubber stamp and an am/pm notebook

Also, do you ever listen to Jamie Ridler’s Creative Living podcast? I’ve been following her for almost two years now, and always look forward to her weekly shows (they air on Tuesdays). She shares the most valuable advice and her guests are so very inspiring! Last week author Marney Makridakis was on the show and she totally made me want to read this book! It sounds like such a different (and more creative) approach to time management. 

Have a great week and thank you again for your lovely comments last Friday!

A Note on Focus.

Hello! I’ve returned from my blogging hiatus and am so glad to be back! It was great to have some additional time to brainstorm ideas, learn about theme development in Wordpress (which will hopefully result in a new and renovated home for joycreation soon) and explore new platforms (yes, I’ve finally signed up for Pinterest - a dangerous place for a design junky like me!).  

I think I may be scheduling regular hiatuses from now on, because it was such a productive week! And I’ve found that unplugging from computers and mobile devices for even just half an hour can be far more productive than hours spent in front of the screen (surprise!). 

One of the topics that has come up for me again and again this week is “focus”. It’s something I struggle with. So many ideas and so little time! And the older I get, the more pressured I feel about having to catch up on all the things I haven’t done so far. Rather than taking it one step at a time, I’ve been trying to expedite the process by attempting to do it all at once. However, most successful people will say to specialize, not generalize or: to monotask, to focus on one thing at a time. 

While I wish I could offer a recipe on how to do this, I will need to go through a process of trial and error to find the right balance. However, there are a few  techniques I think may be helpful in the process, so I thought I’d share:

Be honest with yourself and pay attention to the things you’re passionate about. Then pick one (for now) and focus on that. I know it sounds cliche, but given that we spend a large amount of our lives working, we might as well be doing something that brings us joy. Focusing on one thing at a time doesn’t mean we can only have one passion (as a matter of fact I have several, which makes decision making so hard!), but I think we can be more successful,  when we give our full attention to one thing at a time. For instance, I recently listened to an interview in which an artist was describing how she balances her two big passions: creating handmade art and acting. Her method: she divides her year into two phases: for the first six months she puts all her focus on acting, while the second half is devoted to creating handmade art. Obviously, this method is open to variations (my version: from now until September my main focus will be on learning as much about web design and development as possible. I’ll be taking classes (one at a time) and see where I’m at in September).

Write it down. This should be an obvious one, and yet: for the longest time I lived without a calendar, because I was able to remember dates and events easily. I preferred to keep all of it (including projects and goals) in my head. But by writing it down, you free up energy for more important things (e.g. I don’t have to keep thinking about remembering all my appointments) and it gives you a much better perspective of what needs to get done. I also have started tracking the time I spend on various tasks (e.g. an assignment, a blog post, household tasks, etc.). Not only will this help determine how much time needs to be allocated to different areas of my life, but it will also serve as a visual reminder of the little things I do each day to move me closer towards my goal. Currently I’m using a notepad with two columns: one serves as a to-do list, the other as time tracker. 

Be OK with saying NO. "No" is a word that doesn’t come easily to me. My response is usually "Sure - I can do this!" I want to ask myself more questions like: is this something I’m comfortable doing? Will I feel resentment, if I say yes? Will it hinder me from moving towards my goals? This doesn’t mean I won’t be willing to help out anymore, but I just want to be more mindful of the things I agree to. Another good way to avoid an instant "yes" is to get into the habit of asking people for some time to think about it. (e.g. "I will need to check my calendar. Can I get back to you about this tomorrow?"). This also gives you a chance to sleep on it for a night (or more, if needed).

Re-evaluate: one of the most important lessons I’ve learned from my former boss (and successful leader), is the willingness to reevaluate over and over again. Change is usually a good thing, when it is geared towards improving whatever it is you’re working on. When I started joycreation last year, my posts became more and more sporadic, until I gave up blogging altogether. However, the idea always remained in the back of my mind and as I started up again (this January), I made a promise to myself to post daily, no matter what. While there have been a few days I’ve missed over the course of the last months, I have been determined to stick with my Mon-Fri schedule. However, it’s come at a price. I’m sure every blogger would agree that blogging can easily turn into a full-time job (only without the pay - at least for most of us) and I haven’t been able to invest enough time into other areas that really need tending to. My list of priorities has helped gain a better perspective of the things I want to accomplish by this fall. While I’m committed to joycreation and blogging in general, I am going to decrease the amount of posts I publish each week to three times a week (Mon, Wed, Fri) to make it more manageable.
Assign specific times to specific tasks: I could be online for hours reading blogs, leaving comments, catching up on social media… And while this is something I want to be doing, I need to be more efficient at it and - most importantly - I need to limit myself. Because the internet is limitless (in case you hadn’t noticed :)). I also want to get into the habit of doing tasks that require extra focus and attention in the morning (when I’m most alert). I’m hoping that by assigning certain times to certain tasks, I will develop a habit of doing them everyday - without contemplating whether or not to work on them.

Get enough sleep: Going to bed early is a topic I could write an entire blog post on. Even if I’m tired, I tend to get a boost at around 8:30 each night, and it is difficult for me to get to bed at a reasonable time. Also, I tend to be on the computer until the very last minute, but did you know blue light (the kind we find in screens) is thought to improve performance and alertness? (There is an interesting article on this by the Harvard Medical School). Naturally, this also means it hinders us from being able to fall asleep! And as we all know, sleep is one of the most important things we need in order to feel good, productive and focused.
I’m curious: do you make time to unplug? And what helps you stay focused? I’d love to hear any tips you may have! 
On a side note: have you heard of the book The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg? It gives a very good insight into how habits are formed and is a fascinating read!
photo source (and some photoshopping of my own)

Etsy Love & a Hiatus


Lately, I’ve been experiencing a little bit of a sensory overload from all the social media and wonderful blogs I’m surrounded by each day, so I’m taking a one-week blogging hiatus. With that I’m also hoping to make room for new ideas, which I can’t wait to share with you soon! 

If you have enjoyed my blog, I would be grateful, if you could share with me some of the things you’ve liked about it, as well as areas you think could use a little tweaking. Your help in improving joycreation is so very much appreciated!

Thank you and have a lovely rest of your week!



A Peek Behind the Curtain: Berlin

If I had the means, I would choose a life on two continents: my current home in Madison, WI (as an alternative, Chicago, NYC, Portland or San Francisco would do just fine ;)) and a second one in Europe, with a preferred residence in Berlin. There we’d have a light filled apartment with high ceilings, wooden floors and tons of charm (naturally) - just like the one above! And jobs that would allow us to work from anywhere. P.S. I love the pink touch :)

photos via Freunde von Freunden

Weekly Joy Feed

Happy Friday! Do you have any fun plans for this weekend? I need to finish up some assignments for my Photoshop class and want (hold it - did I say: “want”?!) to do a little bit of spring cleaning, before spring turns to summer! Tomorrow Dave’s band is having its CD release party, which I’m so very excited about!

Wishing you a wonderful weekend and below you’ll find a round-up of some of my favorite posts. Thank you for your kind comments this week - they mean so much!

Picasso’s Love Life - who would have guessed?

I love this space!

How awesome are these Real Wood Ipad Covers?

This recipe looks so yummy!

Such a pretty food blog!

Sheri always has such wonderful advice on skin care!

Have you seen Erin Loechner’s latest blog addition? LOVE!

The fanciest smores you will ever see!

Sweet t-shirts featuring children book classics

Also, did you know it was National Poetry month?  These poems by Melanie and Courtney touched me deeply. Make sure to read Emily’s poem too - she’s such a talented writer!

photos by Phillippe Halsman via Visual Observations

A Buttermilk Tale

For Easter we were invited to Dave’s mom, Marilyn, for waffles. She had asked us to bring a few eggs, along with some buttermilk. Little did we know the journey this buttermilk was destined for! A few days ago we received an email, in which the story was revealed - a story of sharing instead of wasting.

Thank you, Audrey and Marilyn, for your permission to share this wonderful story here :)

Switcheroo by Hanna Pesut

As a kid one of my best friends and I were often mistaken for twins. Our blond hair, dark blue eyes and similarity in height lead people to believe we were siblings - at the very least. Intrigued with the twin idea, we came up with a “new” game: we would switch clothes and walk up to our respective homes to see whether our moms were able to tell us apart (of course they always were :) Oh, the disappointment!) 

This ”Switcheroo" photo series by Hana Pesut reminds me of those long-ago childhood days, but also of the fact that clothes influence how we see ourselves and others. Isn’t the difference amazing?

Snippets of Inspiration

Clockwise (starting left): Sukha AmsterdamMunken CubeDala Horse, Elisabeth’s Workspace, Another Pretty OfficeNesting-dishes

I hope your week has been off to a good start! One of my childhood friends from Germany came to visit for a few days, and we had a bunch of fun exploring Madison, visiting the Milwaukee Art Museum (a must-see, if you ever come to Wisconsin - the architecture is amazing!), drinking tasty wine and indulging in delicious foods. This morning he left and I was so sad to wave him good-bye!

To distract myself from an onset of weepiness and homesickness, I spent parts of the day surrounding myself with inspiration. I’d love to make a clothing rack like the one in the first picture! And the neck pillow would be perfect for my next flight home (oh, how I wish I could have hopped on that plane to Frankfurt today!).

And the winner is…

… *** Tamara Kempton! ***

Congratulations, Tamara :) To claim your prize, please email Amy with your mailing address.

I want to thank all of you for your lovely comments - they were such a joy to read! For those of you, who entered the giveaway and didn’t win this time, there will be more opportunities to come! Thank you for joining our growing community - it’s so nice to have you here :)

Have a wonderful week!


P.S. I used a number generator to determine the winner.

photo via Amy Stone