Posted by in lifestyle


We don’t know where our ideas come from – but we know they don’t come from our laptops.
John Cleese

When my husband quit his job at the end of August, I had a misguided belief that I would be able to concentrate full-time on creating the business I dared to dream about. I would write prolifically, connect with power brokers, advocate for a movement towards creative living & mindful spending, and generally do great things with my time & energy because I could concentrate.

But concentration isn’t very good for creativity.

If you‚ are racing around all day, ticking things off a list, looking at your watch, making phone calls and generally just keeping all the balls in the air, you are not going to have any creative ideas.
— John Cleese

Concentration – even focused, productive work – doesn’t push us, it doesn’t make us more confident, it doesn’t stretch our ideas and play with our minds. It kind of shuts us down.

Last week, I had a bit of a breakthrough: I will not be creative & influential & wealthy & prolific sitting in front of my laptop for 12 hours a day.

Creativity requires a kind of “oasis” as Mr. Cleese puts it.

My creative oasis is an evening walk. Immediately after Lola goes to bed, I download the latest Fresh Air podcast, don a pair of shoes fit for a 20 minute walk, and exit through the front door. My iPhone connects me to a greater world as my feet connect with the uneven sidewalks.

When I come home, I don’t reach for my laptop again. I reach for a stack of Moleskines that hold rough drafts and notes. I might draft 3 posts from ideas that struck me during my walk. I’ll finish them off in the morning when my mind is again fresh. Or they may just sit and wait for when they’re needed.

We spend so much time wishing & hoping for more time, more concentration, a more conscious approach to what we want to create. But I’m with John Cleese, part of my work – in fact, the part that creates the most meaningful results – requires shutting down, creating space, freeing yourself from the demands productivity. It requires sleep. It requires selfcare.

These are the things I absolutely must prioritize to be as creative as possible (read: successful & satisfied).

Bold creativity – the kind that great ideas come from – requires work that doesn’t feel so much like work: the acceptance that beautiful things come from a place that we can’t control.

If I want to truly increase my influence & output, it’s time to honor my creativity oasis. I hope you will too.


Tara Gentile empowers you to live more creatively and challenges you to change the world with your money on Scoutie Girl. Take her free 8-part mini course of creating more action in your life.

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SeeSaw Seventies Style

September 29, 2010

Posted by in vintage finds

Hello gorgeous Roosters! It’s Nancy here from Wolf and Willow, stopping by with a little vintage goodness whilst Bonnie is moving house. Apart from the endless enjoyment I get from browsing through Etsy’s handmade goods, I just love that you can shop for craft supplies and vintage too. It’s heaven for lovers of all three, like me! Here’s a little collection of seventies-style homewares from one of my favourite vintage sellers, SeeSaw Vintage. I love the geometric patterns and the cute retro color schemes, like tangerine, olive and goldenrod, which are so quintessential of that era. It reminds me of laminex table tops, wood grain wallpaper, and summer parties with those brightly-colored cocktail onions and cheese squares. Pretty groovy, don’t you think?

Nancy x

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Hello!  I came across this amazing cottage garden and just had to share the photos with you all.  I thought these would be wonderfully inspirational for those of us who love the cottage garden look…which is all about creating layers of bloom and foliage.

Cottage gardens can very easily become messy and overgrown.  Avoid this by choosing a unified color palette, using larger shrubs to create structure and by practicing good pruning, deadheading and dividing practices. I have to be honest – cottage gardens are hard to successfully design.  They can take years of playing with plant combinations, color and structure.  If you are a fan of this look I highly recommend spending a good amount of time critically looking at inspiration photos.  Take the gardens apart and see what makes them successful.

Hardscaping makes a huge difference in cottage garden design.  Incorporating trellises, benches, arbors, fences and pathways brings focus and structure to the garden, and can help contain the rambunctious nature of the plants!

This photograph shows some of the garden’s structural accents.  Statuary, a large arbor, the fence in the back of the garden, even the mature evergreens and trees – they all contribute to the garden structure.  Also notice the placement of the statue in front of the arbor, tying the two garden beds together.

Do you notice that large ball of light in the far left corner of the picture? See how it balances out the white of the statue while drawing the eye to that corner of the garden?  Here’s a close up of what’s going on over there…

This planting incorporates two of my favorite plants, the peony and the ‘Hakuro Nishiki’ variegated willow.  The ‘Hakuro Nishiki’ deserves a place in all gardens that have the room for it...great color, structure and texture.

This is just dreamy…give me a hammock, some lemonade and a good book and I’ll happily spend many an afternoon in this backyard!

All photos from

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Decorating with Vintage Maps

September 28, 2010

Posted by in home decor

As you know from Bonnie’s previous posts she’s been busy packing up to move to Colorado Springs! So I’m stopping by today with an easy decorating idea that I’ve noticed popping up here and there in the blogosphere over the last few years. In honor of Bonnie’s move, the idea centers around vintage maps. With a little research I found some examples that I’ve shown below.

{making it pretty and functional}

Having maps and globes around the home are particularly great if you have small kids – this can be the start of some early geography lessons and will likely get them interested in learning what life is like in the rest of the world. I know when I was little I always loved looking at maps and imagining the trips I might take and the people I might meet some day.

{New York Times with photos by Tom Cenicol}


If this decorating idea is right up your alley, Ebay is a great place to find vintage maps. And of course you’ll find some great ones on Etsy too, including this one below from Etsy shop Banana Strudel.

I’ve moved around a fair bit over the years, so I know it can be really exciting but also tough as you settle in from place to place. Bonnie, I hope your travels over the next while are enjoyable and that you meet many lovely new people!

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Lovely Clusters

September 28, 2010

Posted by in home decor

Hello Lovely Readers! My name is Rachel and I blog over at Lovely Clusters. Its great to be here today to guest post on Bonnie’s gorgeous blog. :)

I am so happy for Bonnie and her husband taking the big move to Colorado! Since they will have to redecorate their new place I decided to post some lovely home decor. Most of us know how much of a pain it is to move but there are some fun parts too! For example hanging artwork and rearranging furniture is always exciting for me. Another great thing about unpacking is that I always end up going through old books and photo albums that I haven’t looked at in awhile. It’s nice to go down memory lane once in awhile.

Often times when I move into a new place I like to peruse the local thrift shop for some affordable finds or make/sew something to fill the empty spots. If I was moving into a new place I would probabbly be picking up some of these goodies.

Lovely Clusters

Row 1: carlossantiago, mooseandbird
Row 2: tftvintagehome, hulagypsyvintage
Row 3: FQMercantile, lottahelleberg
(all etsy shops)

All items + more can also be found on the Lovely Clusters Gallery HERE>>

What are some of your favorite parts about moving?

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and we’re off!

September 27, 2010

Posted by in handmade

colorado trip and we’re off! after a looong weekend of packing, sorting, and yardsaling we’re finally all packed up and on our way! we ate a delicious breakfast with our families this morning and after a few tears, headed off on our adventure. we should be in colorado tomorrow night and starting our house hunt on wednesday.  since this week will be utterly hectic, i’ve scheduled an amazing line up of guest posters to present to you this week (thank you to all of them!).  i’ll be popping in here and there but these lovelies will provide you with some beautiful posts and eye candy.  ghtr will resume it’s normal schedule on monday, october 4th, i promise!

see you soon!


Hello!  Since Bonnie is in the midst of moving mayhem (big supportive hug to her)  I’m going to step up the gardening posts for a few weeks.  This is a great time to get out in the garden and play (and work…today is a fun post, but soon there will be the fall garden chores post…). Over the next week I’m going to share a series of posts on how I improve gardens, from a design point of view.  Today I am going to focus on adding color and texture to the garden.

This is the time of year when I step back and take a look at the gardens in my life.  As a landscape designer this is my favorite time of year.  Usually projects I began working on last year or in the Spring have begun to manifest, and I can take a cold look at my ideas and make some tweaks here and there.  Here is a comforting fact:  Most garden designs undergo some tweaking once they are in the ground.  My favorite way to design a garden is to pick the plants, bring them to the site  and then play with grouping them together before planting. Obviously this is not conducive to most client’s garden, but it works wonderfully for friends and family. It drives some people bonkers, but it’s a major part of my process…and one of the ways I tap into my creativity.

My professional focus right now is on improving established gardens.  Fall is a great time of year to plant perennials, trees and shrubs.  The weather is cooler, the plants are cheaper and I’ve seen the garden for at least a season so I know what is working and what is missing.  I step back and question the garden…with the first question being:

1. Was there enough color and texture in the garden?

I always look to see if I can use a plants with good foliage color instead of relying on flowers alone. My favorite manifestation of this idea comes from the garden of  Margaret Roach.  This underplanting is just remarkable.  Who needs flowers when foliage does such a great job! Her story on how the planting came together is a great read…I really cannot wait for her new book to come out!

Do you see the texture in the plants?  The long draping, yellow blades of the Hakonechola macra ‘All Gold’ , the glossy round leaves of the European Ginger, the softer rounded leaves of the Hosta ‘June”(…notice the continuation of the yellow color on the interior stripes of the hosta), then the sharper and softly pointed purple fronds of the Japanese painted ferns. Do you see the way the ferns, hosta and Hakonechola all seem to be bursting out of the ground…creating movement and moving the eye around the garden?  And what about those two little yellow punctuation marks created by the “Lime Rickey” heuchera!  That’s pizzaz!

On a much larger scale, this garden designed by Piet Oudolf is another gorgeous example of color and texture working together to create a dynamic and interesting garden:

Here we have large drifts of plantings undulating and moving the eye through.  I look at this garden and can feel it.  Do you get what I mean by that? That’s what I want in my gardens…feeling and movement, color and texture, scent and tactile moments…..a full sensory experience.  I know those large pink echinaceas have spiky centers that are hard to the touch…but the oat grass to the left is a soft and fuzzy plant that dances in the breeze.  This is a garden that would never be still and would never become boring.

Here are two more Piet Oudolf gardens to take inspiration from:

Allium Gladiator (those large purple balls) are one of my favorite plants…but I can’t help but want to take a whack at them with a baseball bat….too much tee-ball in my youth perhaps??!!

Piet Oudolf creates rivers and ponds of plants...can you see these in the photos above?  What else do you notice about his design?  Do you see the similarities of structure, even though the plants are so different?  Could you see these gardens in a smaller space or do you think they need the large expanses of space to be successful?  What do you find appealing about these gardens?  How can you translate that into your own gardens?

Whenever I look at gardens, be it live or in photos, I ask myself a ton of questions…this is how I sharpen my own aesthetic and design skills.  A good garden design is something to be studied and examined and picked apart….and enjoyed!

Do you have favorite designers you take inspiration from?  Or favorite plants to add color or texture to your garden?

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Posted by in handmade

Confections for your Correspondence just like visiting the fair, paper pastries will leave you with a sweet taste in your mouth and a pretty prize in your hand!  properly put, these ‘confections for your correspondence’ will dress up your snail mail and inspire you to get out your writing pen.  let’s have a revival for pen pal’s, sideways stamps and love letters!

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