Thursday, September 30, 2010

Delicious Indecision

When my sister and I were little girls, we looked forward to going with Mom and Dad to this old-timey general store called Buzzard's. Why? Because Buzzard's had a plethora of candy.

  • gummy fish
  • candy dots
  • caramel cow tails
  • wax lips
  • plastic garbage cans filled with garbage-shaped candy 

So many colors. So many shapes. So many flavors.  Ah the deliciousness of indecision!

Today, I get that same feeling from picking out paint chips. My eyes hover over the blues, then drift to the purples. I pick up one here, another there, and before I know it, paint chips fan out in my hands like a winning poker hand. Delicious indecision!  Yet, at some point, a decision must be made.

I faced this dilemma when I painted my bedroom. I stood in the store, my hands filled with chips, calling to me to pick just one.

The indecision was crippling.
"Close, but not quite."
"Maybe this one?"
"No, definitely not."

Then I glanced at a warm gray, putty-colored chip. The color was nice, but it was the name of the color that caught my eye. Indecision, the paint was named indecision! I had a winner.

About the photo:  "Art Nouveau Paint Chips," a print made from a vintage image available at

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Shape Shifters Among Us

I have a sneaking suspicion that my cats may be shape shifters. You know, humans that took cat form, but found life at my house so cushy they decided to never shift back. Many of their traits are far too human for mere felines.

Case in point, the other night, my orange tabby, Pumpkin, confirmed his grasp of the English language. I was talking to my husband about how buying new cat toys is a waste of money. Poor Mr. Squiggles, the stuffed hamster, has barely gotten any playtime since we brought him home.

Not too long after that conversation, Pumpkin came prancing into the room with Mr. Squiggles in his mouth. Pumpkin has NEVER touched Mr. Squiggles before he overheard our conversation about cutting back on the toys.

I don't know if I've been watching too many True Blood episodes lately, or if it is related to my short-lived Manimal addiction in the fall of 1983, but I find myself wondering if those all-knowing eyes peering at me really belong to the all-American domestic short hairs they make themselves out to be.

(Thank you dear readers for humoring me by reading a post about my cats. Those of you who saw my "About Creative Sprinkle" page have been forewarned that while infrequent, cat posts are fair content on this blog.)

Monday, September 27, 2010

Pumpkin of the Earth Clan

Pumpkin of the Earth Clan
"Pumpkin of the Earth Clan" by Angela of Elemental Dragons

Today's pick-me-up photo is of a cute guy created by Angela of Elemental Dragons. Angela and I are both members of the Polymer Clay Artists Guild of Etsy. Angela's Elemental Dragons belong to one of seven clans:  Forrest, Water, Sky, Celestial, Fire, Earth and Gems.

Pumpkin belongs to the Earth Clan. They are known to be a wise, kind and caring clan. Earth Dragons will do anything to help any other creature. They are one of the oldest clans and have the name "The Healers". Hopefully seeing this happy guy healed your case of the Mondays!

Submit your Monday Pick-Me-Up photo. 

Have a suggestion for a future Monday Pick-Me-Up photo? Add your photo and description to the Creative Sprinkle Flickr Group. Make sure your Flickr photos are available for download.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Redefining Fast in the Good, Fast, Cheap Triangle

I'm a big believer in continuing the learning process throughout your life. I love all types of learning: traditional classes, short workshops, inspiring books and blogs! The list is endless.

My love of learning is one of the reasons that I work in higher education. As an assistant creative director, I produce work that inspires people to pursue college education, and at the same time, I'm exposed to all kinds of new ideas. In my pursuit of personal knowledge, I sometimes run into an idea whose time has not yet arrived—an idea too precious to lose. I capture these ideas in what I call my "Someday Box."

Taking a Peak Inside the Box
The ideas in my "Someday Box" are written on index cards and sorted by topics such as "better meetings," "customer service," and "technology." (Don't laugh, I like systems; they give me the illusion of control. I may even add color coding someday!)  Sometimes the idea is a complete thought, other times it might just be a question that I can't answer yet. 

Today, I felt like I should peer into the box. It has been a while. The ideas have had ample time to marinate, and perhaps one of them is ready to take its place in the world.

Redefining the Speed Problem
As I flipped through the cards, one in particular caught my eye. "Can we define the speed problem differently?" One thing my team has always struggled with producing a quality product in a time frame our partners find acceptable. There is an old saying in the printing industry, "You can have good, fast, or cheap; pick two."  Around here, the expectation is that we can have all three, and that leads to some friction.

Our typical approach to this problem is to tweak our process. How can we shave time without sacrificing quality? It is a solid approach, but it only takes us so far. That brings me to the question on this index card. "Can we define the speed problem differently?"

The idea comes from a book by Jack Foster, "How to Get Ideas." The example he gives is the problem of too many people waiting for the elevator. The typical way to come at this problem is to try to figure out how to get more people on the elevator so fewer people have to wait. Unfortunately the elevator has a limit to the number of people it can hold, so this won't solve the problem. So what if we define the problem differently?  We could ask ourselves, "Can we make the wait better?"  

Making the Wait Better
This thought really resonates with me. Of course we need to continue to work on efficiency, but I realize part of the problem is the "perception of slowness." From my team's perspective, we are working on multiple projects, playing what feels like a game of hot potato to make sure the things with firm deadlines get done on time, but from our partners' perspective, they are waiting for something that fell into a black hole. How can we make their wait better? That is the question that is marinating in my brain right now.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

To sweat or not to sweat the small stuff

"Cat+Mouse" by Denis Defreyne

It amazes me how advice, seemingly opposite in nature, can all be valid. I think it is because life likes to find a balancing point. Lately I’ve been trying to find that balancing point between the tiny details of perfecting today and the blue sky dreaming of big plans for tomorrow. I’m drawn to two inspiration points in my quest.

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
The first inspiration point is a simple little book that has been on my bookshelf for quite some time, “ Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff,” by Richard Carlson. I have a tendency to sweat the small stuff, and by “sweat” I mean obsess over, and this book helps me put things into perspective.

I see myself in the many chapters, especially the one on how quickly negative thinking can spiral out of control. One little thought leads to another, and before you know it, you have a giant snowball of unstoppable worry rolling downhill. Thankfully, I’m getting better at recognizing the snowball forming and redirecting my thoughts away from the negativity spiral.

While it is true that the devil is in the details, I find that if you obsess over every last detail, you can miss out on the truly heavenly things in life.

Sweat the Small Stuff
The flip side of that coin is to focus on the details. Ogilvy ad man Rory Sutherland, argues this point brilliantly in a lively Ted video, "Sweat the small stuff." He relates, in the most charming British accent, that most of society believes that big problems require big solutions. We mistakenly dump money and effort into big fixes with minimal results. Our egos refuse to see a small detail as the answer to a complicated problem.

He tells the success story of an organization eradicating hunger and encouraging inoculations with a couple pennies worth of lentils. “It is so trivial a solution as to seem embarrassing,” he explained.

Apparently important people don’t want to stand up and say their solution to world hunger is lentils. Because institutions, corporate and non-profit, are uncomfortable with “small” solutions, they seek  “big” ideas and often overlook the details that could make the most impact.

The Genius of "And”
So what happens if you “sweat” and “don’t sweat” the details at the same time? I think these two ideas fit together perfectly. It reminds me of “the genius of AND” that Jim Collins refers to in his book, “Good to Great.” Instead of choosing A or B, figure out how to have A and B. By not letting little things overwhelm us, yet seeing the answer in the simplest things, we open up a world of creative solutions.

So are you “sweating” or “not sweating” today?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Healthy and Yummy

Brunch by Micala

I selected today's pick-me-up photo for two reasons.
  1. It makes me happy.
  2. It reminds me that food that is good for me is also beautiful and yummy.
My friend Shannon, known online as Micala, was kind enough to upload this photo to the Creative Sprinkle Flickr Pool. She is such a creative soul and it shows in her photographs. My favorites are the food porn shots in her "Yum" collection.

Submit your Monday Pick-Me-Up photo. 
E-mail me at with "Monday Pick Me Up" in the subject line. Or add your photo and description to the Creative Sprinkle Flickr Group. Make sure your Flickr photos are available for download.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

New Product Line-Wine Bottle Stoppers

Fleur-De-Lis Wine Bottle Stopper

Greek God of Wine Bottle Stopper

Red Devil Wine Bottle Stopper
Thought I'd share my latest polymer clay projects: wine bottle stoppers. I have a few more designs in the works.  I'd love to hear your ideas for possible themes to try!

If you'd like to get your hands on one of these, they are available in my store. Shop wine bottle stoppers at Young Creative.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Goodbye summer, hello autumn

Daisies by Kimberly Gauthier

How fitting that we celebrate the official close of the summer season with this beautiful symbol of summer, the daisy? Professional photographer Kimberly Gauthier of Washington State sent me this beautiful image. Here's what she has to say about it:

"It's of daisies at our new house and every time I look at it I smile, because we were house hunting for 3 years before we found exactly what we were looking for; the daisies grow to 3' high along the border of the puppy yard. We couldn't believe that not only did we find a house that had everything on our list, but it also had a quarter acre yard for our new puppies."

Kimberly has a wonderful galley online filled with inspiring colors and shapes. If you need a pick-me-up, stop by and visit her gallery.

Submit your Monday Pick Me Up story. 
E-mail me at with "Monday Pick Me Up" in the subject line. Or add your photo and description to the Creative Sprinkle Flickr Group. Make sure your Flickr photos are available for download.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Labor Day Weekend Eye Candy

Art Freebie from June
I love art with a sense of humor. Wouldn't this be the perfect graphic for a picnic invite? Too bad I'm not hosting anything. Maybe I'll keep it tucked away for next year.

I found this photo on a lovely blog that I frequent,  Art Freebies, where the author, June, shares images from her vintage collection. June is gracious enough to allow us to choose from an amazing assortment of free vintage images that we can use in our own art even if we plan to sell it.

June also has a sister blog, Dezinaworld, where she offers digital arts sheets for sale and showcases the amazing artwork that her customers create. So if you need something to occupy your time on this long holiday weekend, June has some creative inspiration for you.


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