Creative Photo Idea For Your Home

You may not have dexterity or feel that you are artisitic but you still feel the urge to be creative and that’s okay because there is a wealth of possible ways to express your creativity.

Welcome to the second post of Freedom Friday.  The series that will hopefully unlock your creative potential.

Confession time:  I am not artistic. I am messy and clumbsy.  I cannot master my hands and make them do works of art…however, I am creative and you can be too.

So here is my #1 idea for unleashing your creativity even if you are not artistic.

So let’s say you got some photos and you want to make them into works of art to hang on your wall.  These photos mean a lot to you.  They may be travel photos, family photos, or photos that mean something to you for various reasons. Is there anything you can do with these photos to turn them into works of art or beautful pieces of decor for your home?

As for me, I am all about books!  Both my husband and I adore literature and we love to write.  If you are like us, you don’t need to be great at drawing or creating things.  However, you can use words and pictures that are meaningful to you to enhance your home.

I used a few lines of this Robert Frost poem which has been special to me and my children and matched it up with this frosty photo. Now it hangs proudly in our lounge.

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You can also match song lyrics or quotes with photos of your choice. Take random pictures of things that interest you such as graphics or wallpaper design or a drawing your child made–  anything that you love. Use a photo editing tool to change the overall colour or feel to the photo to match your interest or your room’s colour scheme.  You can have the image printed on a cushion cover or blown up into a large canvas picture if the resolutions are good. The possibilities are endless!

 

Photo source

Photo source

 

One final note to remember is this wonderful quote from John O’Donahue:

Photo by Marilylle Soveran

Photo by Marilylle Soveran

Ancient Rhythms of the Earth

 

Photo by Marilylle Soveran

Photo by Marilylle Soveran

“The ancient rhythms of the earth have insinuated themselves into the rhythms of the human heart. The earth is not outside us; it is within: the clay from where the tree of the body grows.”

—John O’Donohue

There is knowledge we obtain by studying books or listening to teachers.  There is knowledge we obtain by experience which is often called wisdom.  Then there is the knowledge we don’t obtain at all.  It is inner knowledge.  Where did it come from?  We always had it.  We don’t always know it but it is there just the same.  We can call this truth.  We can call this inner wisdom.  We can call it the word of God.  Like opening a book, we have the ability to tap into this inner knowledge.  Usually, we tap into it on a subconscious level.  Sometimes it is when we are in a state of awe or bliss that we sense it. Other times, it is through meditation or meditative prayer. If we want more of it, we receive it by the simple act of relaxing and opening ourselves up to it.  If we try to force it to come, then like a frightened child it disappears.  If we place our hand reverently on the trunk of a tree, or allow our hand to dip into the cool water of a lake or stream, we sense it.  If you think about it, haven’t you always known we were connected to the earth?  The trees, the oceans, the mountains all know our names.

Iceland: Land of Frozen Beauty Pt.2

Continuing our Grayline Golden Circle tour at Thingvellir National Park, we saw the spot where the tectonic plates of North America and Eurasia split and are drifting apart.

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The best part of the tour for me was visiting the hot springs and the unexpected bonus of seeing a working geyser (another one to cross off my bucket list).

The whole area was filled with lots of steaming pools and streams of boiling water and we were warned not to dip our hands in them.

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Our tour continued to Skálholt church where we saw the beautiful mosaic of Jesus.

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The stain glass reflects beautiful coloured lights on the walls.

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When it comes to trying to see the northern lights, it is a bit of a hit and miss.  After all, it is a natural phenomenon so you have to rely on luck.  We took our first northern lights tour and saw nothing.  Beautiful scenes out the coach window though.

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Luckily, Grayline offers for you to retake the tour free of charge until you actually do see the lights.  It is practically an all night excursion in the cold.  Our second tour we ended up taking the delux version which meant we went further afield and stayed out longer.  We were cold but it was worth it.

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Iceland is well worth a visit and hopefully, we will go again one day and see more of it!

Iceland: Land of Frozen Beauty Pt. 1

Last year for my birthday, my wonderful husband surprised me with a trip to Iceland booked for February. The trip was in the hope of fulfilling my dream to see the Northern Lights. The Tourist Agent told him that this would most likely be the last winter where the Northern Lights could be seen so well.  So with joyful anticipation, we patiently waited over seven months for our trip to Iceland’s capital city Reykjavik.

This of course gave me plenty of time to do some shopping for some cold weather clothing. With winter temperatures ranging from around 0 °C (32 °F)  to as low as −25 to −30 °C (−13 to −22 °F), having the right winter clothing is essential.  Luckily, I already had a very warm down coat and snow boots so all I needed was a few extra things. I bought a few long sleeve merino wool undershirts, thermal socks, leggings, gloves and thermal-lined trousers and a snuggly ‘fur’ trimmed hat.  Although I tend to feel the cold quite acutely, I managed to stay warm and toasty for most of my trip even when I was outdoors late at night.

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Iceland has beautiful countryside with stunning scenery but Reykjavik itself was not very captivating.  There seems to be no graffitti laws and it was everywhere.  Most of it was not art, but there were a few who tried.

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Food is excellent in Iceland although as you can imagine, a bit expensive.  While we were there, my husband enjoyed the traditional lamb soup while I (not being a meat eater) opted for fish most evenings.  One of the best restaurant finds was a place that served soup in a bread bowl.  This became our favourite place for lunch.  Warm, nourishing and delicious soup in a large crusty bread roll!

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Iceland is a place where it is worth getting out into the countryside.  There is so much breath-taking scenery there but miles away from civilization and so I strongly recommend booking one of the many coach tours.  We decided on two tours with Grayline.  The coach picks up and drops you off at your hotel or you can catch it at one of their main depots.  The views out the window are gorgeous.

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The first tour we took was The Golden Circle tour.  On this tour, we drove out to Thingvillir National park to see some of Iceland’s greatest natural features.  One such feature is the Gullfloss waterfall which of course, being February was frozen over in beautiful large icicles.

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The blue-green colour of the ice is due to the blue-green algae which resides in the water.

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Our tour guide told us a beautiful story about how the falls were nearly lost to foreign investors who wanted to put up a powerplant and dam the falls. One local woman in the 20th century was so fiercely against these plans that she threatened to throw herself over the falls. Her strong protest also included walking barefoot from Reykjavik to the falls (over 70 miles) proving by her bloodied feet that she meant business.  Year after year she fought to protect the falls raising funds for lawyers but it wasn’t until after her death at the age of 87 that the government took over the falls and made it safe.

At Thingvellir, we also saw the spot where the tectonic plates of North America and Eurasia split and are drifting apart.

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The best part of the tour for me was visiting the hot springs and the unexpected bonus of seeing a working geyser (another one to cross off my bucket list).

The whole area was filled with lots of steaming pools and streams of boiling water and we were warned not to dip our hands in them.

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At Thingvellir there was much to see, so I will share more about it in part 2.

Discovering Bliss

Photo by Marilylle Soveran

Photo by Marilylle Soveran

Sometimes I feel like I am running uphill, chasing time and yet never feeling like I have enough time.   Then, there are other times…like watching the waves crashing on the shore or seeing the sunrise and I realize…what was I chasing?

So often I have gone to bed with a million thoughts and worries crowding my mind only to wake up in the early morning to the sound of a fox or the beautiful music of blackbirds singing.   Othertimes, I wake up up to the experience of stillness and quiet. Those are the wonderful moments when time stands still and I realize that time really is an illusion after all.

Isn’t it strange and wonderful that when we are seduced into a state of awe that time becomes expansive?  We feel more at peace. We are in a state of what is often spoken of as ‘bliss’.

And yet, how many times does it take for us to experience moments of bliss before we stop and ask ourselves, why didn’t I remember to come back here?  Why do I insist on rushing around in my head instead of finding that quiet time to experience beauty?

Let us all remember to take even just five minutes a day to visit bliss…whatever bliss is for you. Let bliss be a quiet time.  Perhaps, a time to gaze upon or listen to something beautiful.  If you find it difficult to be still inside, then try something a bit different next time. You know what else?  Bliss can come unanounced but it can also come through the practicing of that state of being which often involves listening and paying attention to what is before you.

Wishing you all a moment of bliss today and every day.

~Teresa

Welcome to Freedom Friday

Hello everyone!  Today, I begin a new weekly blog entry called Freedom Friday.  It’s the day of the week we give time for freeing our creative side.  Look for upcoming inspirational home design ideas that will hopefully lift us off our mundane habits and get us creating!

Today’s inspiration comes from Pinterest. Unfortunately, I have failed to find the originator of this photo as every web page I clicked onto had a link with a different source.  So if anyone knows where this photo originated from, please let me know.

I am a big lover of bringing the outside in as well as trees (and as you all know) books.  I am LOVING this idea.  I am definitely thinking of doing this in our new home if we have the space!  I think my hubby will agree to it.  :-)

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I even like the worn out leather chair next to it and the fur rug underneath.  It’s all about texture and making a showcase for your cherished books!

Please feel free to comment and if anyone has seen some inspiring crafty home decor, please email me pics!🙂

 

Vincent Van Gogh’s Nature Quote

“It does me good to do difficult things. It does not prevent me from having a terrible need of–shall I say the word–religion.  Then I go outside in the night and paint the stars and I dream ever of a picture like this…”  –Vincent Van Gogh

The above quote is from a letter which Post-impressionist artist Vincent Van Gogh wrote to his brother Theo.  They exchanged hundreds of letters over many years and at times Theo sent money with them.  My guess is that Theo was greatly concerned about his brother.  Vincent was a religious man who wanted to be a minister but failed the theological entrance exam. Perhaps this is why years later he refers to religion as ‘a terrible need’.  The way Vincent’s quote is worded appears to me that he is trying to reassure his brother by explaining how he tries to use his art as a coping mechanism for assuaging himself of this ‘terrbile need’.  But was he freeing himself of his need for religion when he painted stars? Perhaps.  But I think more likely that Vincent Van Gogh was actually fulfilling his spiritual need by first gazing at the stars and then using that inspiration along with his own spirit and creative genius to express what he felt when he did.

And…

although he never did become a clergyman, perhaps in some ways, his paintings have ministered to many over the years.

Picture credit: Vincent van Gogh

Picture credit: Vincent van Gogh

Cliff Walk on Eigg

We stood at the top of the cliff by Kildonnan overlooking the bay.  It was with near breathless exhiliration that I found myself repeating the words several times, “It’s so beautiful!” I now can’t remember whether I simply spoke the words or shouted them.  What I do remember was feasting my eyes over the landscape and the sensation that I can only describe as my spirit singing.

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Jim and I had followed the suggested walk from the Walk Highlands website starting instead from MacQuarries Cottage where we were staying in Cleadale.

It was a warm sunny April day and also ‘lambing season’. Below you can see An Sgurr, the highest hill on the island  which is exposed pitchstone formed as a result of one of the last volcano eruptions a long long time ago.

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We also came accross the standing stone which had been erected by the citizens to memorialize the buyout of the island.  I think I remember being told a tale in which this stone was knocked down one jolly night and re-erected and then dubbed by some of the locals as “….’s erection” to commemorate this person’s re-standing the stone after it’s close miss with destruction. If I remember correctly it was a friend of the locals but not one of the locals themselves!

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We walked along the sandy coast….

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…and then made our way up with cliff.

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…where now the guide was telling us it was a steep decline.  I am usually not good with heights and my husband has two artificial knees but I decided to descend part of the way to see how steep it was.  I ultimately decided it was not worth the risk but that was after seeing even more of the spectacular view and spying a couple of wild seals swimming in the water!  Afterwards Jim and I decided to continue the walk on another day by making our way to the bottom of the cliff from a path on the otherside but on this day continued our walk by making our way to the cafe at the pier for a drink and a snack…

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…and another gorgeous view.

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Thought For Thursday: Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience.  We are spiritual beings having a human experience.”–Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Pic Source: hplusmagazine

Pic Source: hplusmagazine

In what is probably de Chardin’s most infamous quote, he challenges us to think of ourselves not as people striving to be spiritual but to recognize that we are already in fact spirit.  Suddenly, we are faced with the choice to flip our general thinking and to allow ourselves to be challenged into seeing ourselves in quite a different way.

All the striving we do to be ‘spiritual’ is pointless. Why?  Because we don’t need to strive, we just need to BE.  What is needed is for us to relax into our true state of love.  Rather than strive TO meditate…simply allow yourself to BE there.  What can be more natural than being who we really are? Spiritual beings loved by God and created in God’s image.  We are the product of Love and in essence we too are love.

Namaste

Bruges—The Venice of the North

My husband and I recently returned from visiting one of the most charming cities in Europe.   Bruges is located in Northwest Belgium and is known as the Venice of the North.   I am not surprised!   Bruges is a romantic city with canals, parks and over 200 restaurants and several chocolate shops on nearly every street!

We boarded the Eurostar from London and then got off at Brussels.  The next train was every 15 minutes to Bruges.   The great thing about travelling by Eurostar is that unlike flying,we don’t have to arrive three hours before departure and there is no maximum baggage allowance!

We stayed at the beautiful Hotel Dukes Palace thus named as it was the former residence of a Duke.

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The staff were wonderful and catering, the room was lovely with a huge en suite and overlooked the garden.  We asked what the story was with the giant red poodle but was told there wasn’t one..it’s just art.  ??

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The buffet breakfast is probably the best hotel buffet breakfast I have ever had.  It included a seperate table with huge slabs of chocolate for you to cut a chunk off yourself and bottles of sparkling wine and fruit.

Which brings me to some of the things Belgium is famous for…basically it’s all about the food!  Belgium chocolates, waffles, beer and pomme frites (french fries because they were actually invented in Belgium).  Mussles also seemed to be sold at every restaurant and their ice cream was as good as I remember gelato being in Italy!  Every restaurant we ate in was excellent but sadly not cheap.  They know they are catering to tourists so if you plan a trip, be prepared to spend a lot on your meals.  Alternatively, you can choose to get some to go food from the market square or eat from restaurants further away from the market square.

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The city itself is beautiful and well worth exploring.  It is a great place for leisurely walks.

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The archetecture is beautiful and I found myself just wishing I could peak into a typical Belgium home and view those high pointed ceilings.

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One of the best ways to see Bruges is to go on the canal boat ride.  A lovely way to spend 30 minutes cruising down the canals.

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Or if it is raining, you can choose to do a carriage ride as they often have extra covering for protection.

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If you are looking for doing some siteseeing, the Church of Our Lady has an actual Michaelangelo statue of the Madonna and child.

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One of the oldest cathedrals in Bruges is the Basilica of the Holy Blood, also one of the prettiest cathedrals I have ever been in.

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Some other highlights for me include:

  •  Groeningemuseum which houses flemish art through the centuries including a beautiful Jan Van Eyck.
  • Choco-story which calls itself a museum but what you get is the history of chocolate which ultimately leads you to a chocolate gift shop.  Great place to go when the weather isn’t great and you’ll pick up some interesting informative facts about chocolate.
  • Lumina Domestica or the Lamp museum will give you the history of interior lighting.  We bought the ticket as a combined one with choco-story which is located in the same building. The museum houses the world’s largest collection of lamps, over 6000 of which are antiques.  Great if you are an interior design student!  Sadly no gift shop for lamp lovers at this museum.
  • Minnewater or the ‘Lake of Love’ a beautiful lake for lovers!

 

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I look forward to returning one day to Bruges.  I hear they do a great Christmas market in December.  I recommend it for those looking for a romantic getaway or even a short break with your girlfriends.  Great for shopping too!