A postcard saying "maybe swearing will help", because sometimes you really just need to struggle through to start creating again
Inspiration, Tips

8 Things I do to clear my head and start creating again

Sometimes, (eg when you’re writing a blog post a day) you feel your creativity falter. You run out of ideas and before you know it, you’re stuck. I think everyone has their own methods to start creating again, but it can still me very inspiring to see what others do. So, here are 8 things I do to clear my head and start creating again.

Btw, I got inspired to write this post after reading about Hanne’s 10 self-care things she does when she feels miserable and can’t create anything.

8 Things I do to clear my head and start creating again

1. Tea. Heaps of tea.

Preferably black tea, with some sugar, or apple-cinnamon. Just by getting some liquid in me (I’ve a bad habit of drinking too little water) I can feel completely re-energized. Also making tea (boiling a kettle, putting loose tea in a holder, having it soak for a bit) takes enough time to unwind your brain a bit.

2. A long, hot bath.

Especially with a bubble bar or a bath bomb from Lush. The tub is my thinking space and I often get so energised and full of ideas I want to get out quickly again. But most of the time I just write things down (there is a notepad next to the bath at all times) and enjoy the soak.

8 Things I do to clear my head and start creating again

3. Put on some music.

At the moment, I listen to Disturbed when I really need to focus. Their quick metal songs bring me head banging back into ‘the zone’. When I have a little more time, I put on my “Random Dance Party” playlist and start shaking it. Fifteen minutes later you’re ready to rumble! Singing along also helps just clearing my mind.

4. Clean.

Whenever my studio space gets cluttered it means my head space is cluttered. Cleaning my physical space always is a good start to get the gears running again. I do have to be careful not to overdo it, because sometimes I use cleaning as an excuse not to start on something.

8 Things I do to clear my head and start creating again

5. Do a brain dump.

Sometimes I feel like my head gets clogged up with ideas I’m desperately hanging on. By writing everything down I create more space for new things or give myself the chance to actually work them out one by one instead of feeling overwhelmed.

6. Get some exercise.

Start a mini-dance party (see earlier), but also: run the stairs up and down a couple of times, go for a walk, do some yoga, do some high-intensity training. Just moving my body also makes my brain move again. I also have a couple of exercises I can do on my desk chair when I really don’t have time for a work-out. And if this costs too much time, a couple of good stretches also can do wonders.

8 Things I do to clear my head and start creating again

7. Go to a new place.

It’s not always possible, but sometimes I just need to get out of my trusty environment. Visiting a museum in a nearby city, going to the beach or to a forest are things that often help. And if those are not working, it means I need to go farther away from my comfort zone. It’s not always possible, but I think that looking for a country or a culture you haven’t met before and spending some time there might be the most rejuvenating thing you can do.

8. Sometimes nothing helps.

It’s ok; sometimes nothing helps. I try not tho fret when I get to this point. I’ll just make it an early night and pamper myself. Hot chocolate and blankets on the couch in winter (with some nicely scented candle) or spending time outside in the sun, with a book. Enjoying the weather and the sound of birds. Giving my brain some time off always helps to get back into the flow because there really are days you can’t force it.

(Alternatively, when I really need to finish something, I’ll just fake it. By going through the motions I’m used to, I can still create. It doesn’t work if you have to do this daily (it feels like you brain is walking through heavy mud), but pushing through once in a while, isn’t a bad thing)

8 Things I do to clear my head and start creating again

Even though I have all these back-ups for getting me back into my zone, there is only one thing that absolutely 100% makes my creativity peek: doing something I absolutely hate. Whenever I had to study for exams, I was constantly jotting down ideas because my head was overflowing with them. But it’s not really possible to recreate this setting, as it calls for a specific environment.

What do you do to kick-start your creativity again? Anything foolproof you’ve discovered to start creating again?

How to keep your plants happy
Interior, Urban Jungle

How to keep your plants happy (and fill your home with greenery)

I love having plants in my home. Almost every room in my house has it’s fair share of greenery and I can’t imagine having a house without plants. I often hear people saying they don’t know how to keep plants alive or people saying that they don’t have a green thumb. So let me tell you how to keep your plants happy.

How to fill your home with greenery and keep your plants happyHow to fill your home with greenery and keep your plants happy

01. Make sure you put every plant in a place they love

Some plants like lots of direct sunlight, others hate it. Read the label on the plant when you buy it or ask the florist what the preference of the plant is. Using common sense also helps to decide what the plant might like. Plants that like a moist environment (who easily dry out) often like a more shaded spot.

When you really don’t know you can almost always tell how the plant feels about its place after a couple of weeks. Plants who don’t like direct sunlight often have brown edges on their leaves or burnt patches. Do the leaves look duller or are the colours fading? Then the plant probably likes a place with more daylight. Move your plants around until you find their perfect spot.

How to fill your home with greenery and keep your plants happy  Keep your plants happy by giving them a bath Keep your plants happy by giving them a bath

02. Water regularly, but never too much.

Giving the correct amount of water probably is the easiest way to keep your plants happy. I handle watering plants in a very simple way: every two weeks I gather all my plants in the kitchen or bathroom. I place them in the tub or sink and gently spray them with water. When there are a couple of centimeters of water in the tub/sink I stop spraying. Now let the plants soak for half an hour to a couple of hours. Afterwards, I let the water drain and wait half an hour before removing the plants so the excess water won’t stay in the flowerpot.

I do this with both succulents, orchids, ferns,… Between baths, I always keep an eye on plants that need extra watering, but I try to avoid watering them in their pots. Whenever I get lazy and stop giving them baths, that’s when the casualties fall. I don’t own any cacti (I tend to over water them, or as I call it, I smother them with too much love), so I can’t help you with those.

A small tip: if you’re wondering whether it’s time to water your plants, put your finger in the soil! Just feeling the top soil can be misleading, especially for plants near a window. If the soil under the crust still feels moist, you can wait with watering a bit longer (unless you have a drama plant who basically lives in water and is starting to droop).

How to keep your plants happyHow to fill your home with greenery and keep your plants happy

03. Keep an eye on your plants

Plants aren’t just pretty decoration, they’re living things, so you’ll have to keep an eye on them. They can get sick, get bugs or are sometimes in need of extra water or nutrition. Take a good look at your plant’s leaves once in a while, they can tell you a lot about how your plants are faring:

  • droopy leaves: probably in need of water, but droopy leaves in combination with wet soil means the opposite!
  • brown spots: too much or too little water, sunburn or too much fertilizer
  • sticky leaves or a sticky environment of the plant: your plant has bugs. I’ve noticed this with both aphids, scale insects and mealybugs. Keeps these plants away from your other plants. Get yourself a pesticide and prepare for battle. Getting rid of pests is hard. Sometimes you can’t save your plant and you’ll just have to try taking pest-free cuttings and getting baby plants. Throw away the pest riddled plant and keep an eye on your other plants the following weeks to see if the creepy crawlies have spread.

How to fill your home with greenery and keep your plants happy

04. Don’t forget: plants need food too!

As with all living things, plants need food too. They get it from their soil, but if they haven’t been repotted in a long time that soil can run out of nutrients. This is something that happens faster with high maintenance plants that also need a lot of water. So, once every month, add a bit of plant food to the bathing water to keep them happy. Whenever you put fertilizer in the plant bath make sure to leave them soaking for a bit longer. Getting those nutrients in takes time!

If you notice your plant is getting too big for its pot, it’s time to move to a larger one. Whenever you do this, the plant also gets a boost thanks to the nutrient-rich fresh soil you’ve added.

So those are a couple of tips to keep your plants happy. Tell me, are you a plant lover or a plant killer? Which tricks do you use to keep your plants happy & alive? Please share them in the comments, I’d love to learn new tricks.

a road in a snowy landscape (leading to new habits)
Personal

Five habits I want to adopt

Let me start off by excusing me for the quality of the blog post you’re going to read. I still have to write most of it, even though it’s 23:33. I’m tired, I’ve been emotional all day. I don’t have my shit together. But if I don’t post today, I lose my last “skip day” and then it’s basically game over for my 40 Days of Blogging. So, you can all thank the sheer amount of stubbornness I have on days like these for this post. I turn into a bit of weed and stand there. Or in this case, write.

One of the suggested topics for 40 Days of Blogging was: “Which habit are you trying to teach yourself. Or is there a bad habit you want to get rid of?”

I basically never run out of things I want to teach myself of things I want to change about myself (either habits or new skills). I think you can completely shape yourself the way you want to, but it’ll take time and effort. Often I try to make changes, but I run out of willpower before I’m really there. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing, better to have tried and learned something about it, than being completely stuck.

At the moment I’m  working on:

  • being kinder to myself – I have low self-esteem and I put the bar for myself quite high. Not an awesome combination, so I’m really trying to be kinder to myself. When I’m thinking about things I’m doing or have done I try to change the way I phrase what I think about myself. Or when I do something stupid, I try not to call myself stupid. The number of times I catch myself being overly harsh is a bit of a shock to me. And if I’m this harsh on myself, I’m probably also to others.
  • get into the habit of doing high-intensity training three times a week (Hello Jillian!) – because I feel like all my muscles melted away. And I need to make my knees work so they stay strong. Cartilage or not, I’m not planning on getting new knees.
  • painting and drawing more – I wish I already had the habit by new of daily drawing, but I still haven’t mastered it. I often feel this call, this urge to grab my pencils or my brushes and paint and I’ve taught myself to ignore it (to my horror). I also want to go to drawing school at least once a week. Since I started the course I’ve had a hard time going regularly There always seems to be a reason not to go.
  • reading more – with some careful planning (such as by not writing my blog post last thing in the day 😉 ) I should be able to get some reading in. Not sure how to cope with falling asleep after only one paragraph, though.
  • spending more time in nature – two year’s ago I put on my birthday list to do more walks & spend more time outdoors. I really loved the hikes we did back then, but it never became a habit. I think going for a long walk in nature should be something I do at least once a month, but preferably more. So, it’s time to get back into this.

So, those are the habits I want to get into. Which habits do you want to create? Or do you have a bad habit you want to break? I didn’t get into my bad habits, the post would never end. 😉

Design & Illustration

The result of an afternoon talking and painting with friends

Whenever I organise a craft party with friends I always spend way more time talking, complaining and laughing with them, then I spend on actually crafting something. This time we tried skipping the sofa hanging and tried to go immediately to crafting. For some of us, this leads to success (I would force them to take pictures with their craft, but then it might lead to even fewer things getting finished), for others (eg me) it still leads to barely getting anything done.

I did start the plant drawing above and I finished it yesterday. Not my greatest success. I really like some of the plants I painted and I think it would be pretty cool to turn them into stickers. I bought this vinyl paper to make stickers recently and I’m itching to try it out. Although,  I still need to buy new printer ink and decide on sticker designs. I’m already turning this into a project again. Let’s keep things simple and just print some painted plants, shall we.  Maybe tomorrow I paint some more.