Have a wintery weekend

December 20, 2014

Hope everyone is having a great weekend! Any fun plans? We’re running last-minute errands this weekend before heading north to Vermont and New Hampshire for a week. Since there hasn’t been any snow in NYC, I’m looking forward to all the snow in New England! Have a good one and here are a few links from around the web:

 

A short video of the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center and other Christmas lights around the city from our outing last night.

This reversible leather tote is beautiful (and only $48!).

Funny or Die did a hilarious video on The Last Episode of Serial (fans of the show should watch this).

Giving this recipe for peppermint marshmallows a try over the holidays. Yum.

Pretty honeycomb stud earrings.

8 genius entertaining tips.

TOMS knows how to do a Christmas shoe!

I’m planning to reread this childhood favorite over the holidays. I still have my copy from 5th grade!

Bring on 2015!

 

And a few other posts:

 

(Photo by Tracey Ayton Photography. Serial video via.)

Avocado Toast

December 18, 2014

Avocado Toast

I love avocados and I’m obsessed with guacamole, but I hardly ever think to make avocado toast. It’s super easy and quick to make (requires no cookings skills) and there are endless variations of toppings. Today, I mixed one ripe avocado with sea salt, cracked black pepper and a little garlic salt, spread it on a toasted whole wheat French baguette (that I got at our local market for $0.75!), and then topped it with cherry tomato wedges. It was delicious!

Here are hundreds of avocado toast recipes and inspiration.

 

PS. A wonderful cookbook (with a whole section on “Things on Toast”)!

 

Exposed Brick Wallpaper

December 17, 2014

Last spring, we apartment-hunted in Manhattan for a short-term lease so we could get our bearings and see if we actually liked living in NYC before committing to a longer lease. One thing I really wanted in our apartment was exposed brick (a quick look at my Pinterest account will reveal my love for exposed brick walls and brick fireplaces). Although we viewed a few apartments with exposed brick and one with a beautiful fireplace, none met our top priorities, namely budget, dog-friendly and location. The same thing happened when we searched for our Brooklyn apartment.

While I’m still holding on to my hopes for an apartment with real exposed brick, I was so psyched to discover Norwegian photographer Tom Haga’s ‘Attic Wall’ wallpaper collection with exposed brick wallpaper! I’d love to wallpaper just one wall in our apartment with this beautiful wallpaper.

 

Images via Tom Haga.

Funny (strange) “infomercial”

December 16, 2014

Have you seen the dark comedy short Too Many Cooks that aired on Adult Swim back in October? I don’t want to give away too many details cause it’s best watched if you go into it not knowing anything about the video. Just sit back, enjoy its strangeness, and then let me know what you think in the comments : )

Stockings-Only Christmas

December 15, 2014

gifts via hannah queen on ig

What are your family’s Christmas gift-giving habits? Do you gift one gift per person? Do you set a price limit to spend on each person? Does your family skip gifts all together?

In the past, we’ve followed a set-budget-per-person gifting guideline, and in addition to gifts, each person gets their own stocking. But this year, we’re doing something a little different…

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Have a great weekend

December 12, 2014

What are you up to this weekend? Any fun plans? We’re going to watch a friend in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe on Saturday, and then off to a holiday party in Williamsburg. We’re making this to bring with lots of fresh-cut veggies and crackers. Hope you have a good one and here’s the link round-up:

5 Mintue Hors D’oeuvres with Potato Chips!

Incredible portraits of animals painted on human bodies.

Funny flow chart to help women decide if their outfit is work appropriate.

Video: Turkey-dogs: The dogs that round up turkeys.

Perfect winter plaid scarf.

An interesting TED Talk by Julian Treasure about how to speak so that people want to listen.

Crocheted food hats (seriously).

Stocking stuffer idea for little ones: The Laughing Farm, Dan’s wonderful children’s counting book for ages 1-4. Here’s a video of Dan reading The Laughing Farm.

25 gorgeous NYC lofts that you can rent (some serious decor inspiration).

These personalized mason jar mugs would be fun for summer parties.

 

A few posts you might’ve missed this week:

 

(Photo by Trevor Little of two men powerwashing an NYC building. Thanks, Dave!)

How to Cultivate Creativity Using Design Thinking by Bill Burnett

December 11, 2014

Last month, I watched the live webinar How to Cultivate Creativity Using Design Thinking hosted by Stanford’s Center for Professional Development, and I was struck by many of the ideas presented by Bill Burnett. A recording of the webinar is now available on YouTube and I highly recommend watching it, but if you’re short on time (the video is ~45 minutes), here are eight take-aways that stood out to me:

1. Everyone is creative.

In the webinar, Burnett primarily focuses on cultivating individual creativity and how to change yourself to access your existing creative abilities. The importance of “creative confidence” is crucial. Everyone is creative, whether or not you realize it is another story. Some people are more easily able to tap into their creative self than others, but there are numerous cases proving that almost all people are naturally creative. People tend to identify creativity with a profession–musician, artist, graphic designer–and those people are creative. But what’s not true is that there is a lack of creativity in people with other professions, ones perceived as less creative (maybe mechanic, physicist, lawyer, financial advisor).

Mindset_DesignThinking

2. Surround yourself with people from different backgrounds.

Early in the presentation, Bill says, “Great ideas come from groups of people who do not share common backgrounds.” Burnett goes on to clarify that he doesn’t mean gathering a group of six engineers from six different engineering backgrounds to approach a problem because that’s “engineer thinking.” Instead, build a team of engineers, psychologists, designers, anthropologists, teachers, and so on to brainstorm new solutions to problems. Design thinking requires reframing questions. Creative problem solving results from radical collaboration.”

3. “You do not see what you are looking at, you see what you are looking for.”

Your brain is an astoundingly efficient processor; it competes for energy (calories) with all other body parts. Say you consume 2000 calories a day, the brain uses ~500 of those calories to operate–only 25%–but think of all the things the brains does! So we have this amazing tool (that operates on ~40 Watts–the same wattage as a light bulb!), but its efficiency comes with some problems. One problem is that it can’t respond to every stimulus that it sees all of the time. That’s where the idea of “unconscious,” “pre-conscious” and “conscious” processing comes in. “You’re actually aware of 1/100,000 of the data that is being processed.” Burnett explains, and that is the “pre-conscious” portion. He goes on to explain that in this pre-conscious state, the brain is also conscious of “what is going to come next” or what the brain has been asked to observe.  And this idea ties into the  proven concept that “You do not see what you are looking at, you see what you are looking for.” There is much of the world that we don’t actually see–we just see what we’re looking for. Fascinating, right? And the good news is that we can train/teach our brain new behaviors–to look for and at information in different ways.

4. Highly creative people have a low fear response to novelty, which is something that can be learned!

Burnett presents findings on creative people:

  1. They perceive the world differently. They’re more visual and more tactile.
  2. “They have an extra emotional response to the world.” They have a high empathy response. And ”often times very creative people are introverts.”
  3. They also have a low fear response to novelty. When shown something that should cause stress hormones to flow and certain parts of your brain to light up because something is new and different and potentially scary, it doesn’t happen. Neuroscientists have actually identified that a part of their brain does not function correctly. Interesting! Creative people aren’t born with an extra part of their brain or some special scene. Instead, creativity is probably a brain deficit!
  4. And this idea of a low response to novelty can be learned (much like people overcoming a phobia to snakes, heights, flying, etc). “In personal creativity, learn to lower your fear of failure; learn to lower the fear of the novel.”

TrainYourselfToGetStuck

5. Train yourself to get stuck.

”You gotta learn to be stuck if you want to learn to have the “ah-ha” moment. The “ah-ha” moment comes right after being stuck.” Burnett encourages people to get stuck a lot–getting stuck isn’t bad. He introduces The 30 Circles Exercise that creates the ‘getting stuck’ feeling. The exercise also brings up the idea that most of the problems we think are there aren’t actually there–we make them up in our brain (see point #3!). 30 Circles allows people to experience how ‘unstuck’ happens and how that feels AND how to recognize when you’re stuck. When you’re in the ‘stuck’ moment it feels bad, but our brains react to the “ah-ha” moment with a flux of feel-good chemicals released in our brains. And then our brains seek out that “ah-ha” moment, and it feels good. So there’s an incentive to get stuck. GET STUCK A LOT!

BrainstormingTakesPractice

6. Brainstorming takes practice.

Burnett challenges us to think about brainstorming like playing with a fantastic jazz band. Jazz players have trained themselves to play songs, and their goal is to sit down and play a song that they’ve played over and over before but to play it in a different way. In the same way that a beginner musician wouldn’t expect to sit down and play with Miles Davis, you shouldn’t expect to jump into a brainstorming session without practice. There are rules. You must warm up. There are ways to frame good questions. You actually have to warm up your brain to be able to create good improvisational brainstorms. And this is actually really difficult. Think of the 10,000-hours-to-master-a-skill concept.

 7. “Cell phones are where ideas go to die.”

So often people have good brainstorming sessions–lots of post-its on the wall, lots of ideas. And someone documents the results of the brainstorm, maybe with a cell phone picture. But then, those results just sit somewhere and no action is taken. (Anyone hearing the popular “Get shit done.” phrase ringing in their head?) Idea selection is the crucial step that must happen right after brainstorming. Burnett suggests selecting ideas based on high potential and not feasibility. Ask yourself, “What can I get done?” In Burnett’s brainstorming sessions he looks for ideas that are “delightful”; he uses a “delightful” filter. I thought that was fascinating!

 8. “Space creates behavior.”

We hear a lot about workspace in the media these days. There are numerous articles about how co-working environments foster innovations, and Burnett emphasizes these findings. He points out that we associate spaces with behaviors. Walk into a classroom and you know exactly what behavior is expected. Cubicles in an office don’t spark creative collaboration; you’re expected to stick to your cubicle. I especially liked this point: “Remove status clues–status creates hierarchy and defeats creativity.” Also, put everything on wheels so the space can be “hacked” and rearranged when needed.

 

Will you watch it? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this webinar! There is so much compelling information. What stood out to you? 

 

(Slides extracted from: Burnett, W. (2014, November 3). How to Cultivate Creativity Using Design Thinking [Webinar]. With Stanford’s Center for Professional Development. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MUTrIvR6WRA&feature=youtu.be. All quotes included in the text are by William Burnett.)

Kid President

December 10, 2014

Have you heard of Kid President? Ten-year-old Robby and his brother-in-law, Brad Montague, create funny and thought-provoking YouTube videos. Here are a few great ones:

Diabetes vs. Diabeetus:

Kid President Meets President Obama:

And 10 Best Kid President Moments:

Pretty cute, right? Check out the rest of Kid President’s YouTube videos here.

First video: A Pep Talk from Kid President to You, which has 34 million YouTube views and counting!

Holiday Shopping Guide

December 9, 2014

Today is gray and rainy, and Christmas is 16 days away (how did that happen?!), which brings me back to the holiday gift guide. Remember this post from a few days ago? Well, instead of curating a post with specific gifts, I’ve decided to start a list of some of my favorite shops (with a few item links) to help with the holiday shopping process (or any shopping process, for the matter). My plan is to update this list regularly, adding new shops to the mix as I discover/remember them. I’d love to hear your suggestions for places to shop! Please feel free to leave recommendations in the comment section.

For gifts for the home like candles, coffee mugs, kitchen trinkets, garden supplies, and more:

 

For clothing:

 

For photo gifts like photo books, calendars, journals and notebooks:

For the little ones:

RiflePaperCo_FloralPrint

For art and design gifts:

 

Happy shopping readers! xo

 

I’ll be updating the list, and of course, keep in mind that there are thousands are wonderful DIY gift ideas floating around the internet! :)

(Images link to sources.)

Birch Tree Leggings!

December 8, 2014

birchtreeleggins

Promptly adding these birch tree leggings by Salt City Emporium to my wish list! And how about these buffalo print ones?!

 

(Found via Treasures & Travels blog.)

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