January Wrap-Up

Is it just me or was January both the longest and the shortest month ever? I didn’t quite meet all of my goals for the month, but I did pretty good.

My theme for the month was “content.” As in, creating content. To help with this, I participated in the Ultimate Blog Challenge. I ended up not completing the challenge, for a variety of reasons. However, I did get more posts up than I usually do in January. That’s a win itself.

Other things I did for January is

  • 5 Days to Increased Creativity challenge
  • 5 Days to Planner Peace challenge
  • Signed up for and started a Tunisian crochet class with Toni Lipsey of TL Yarn Crafts.
  • Finished two crocheted shawls.
  • Planned out the next JEN Enterprises Presents title (hybrid planning).

January was a challenging month, but it was ultimately a good one. I’ll have another wrap-up at the end of this month too.

Begin at the Bell

The following is an excerpt from 80 Creativity Tips.

A friend of mine said this before writing exercise we did at the kick-off party flash meeting with a lot for the local National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) group.

“Begin at the bell” is actually pretty good advice. When it comes to working on our creative projects, we almost always say we don’t have time.

Make time! Otherwise, it will never get done.

Get a timer. Set it for no less than 15 minutes, preferably 30. If you can, have a bell ring to signal the beginning. If not, start the very second your hand comes off the timer.

Whatever it is you do, then do it. Right. Draw. Paint. Cook. Dance.


When the timer goes off, you can stop, but not before. Give yourself at least that 15 minutes. If you are going good when the time is up, turn the timer off–or reset it–and keep going.

At the end of your time, step back. Look at what you have done and pat yourself on the back.

This is important: Do not evaluate or critique what you have done. Now is the time for creating, not for editing or judging. There will be time for that later.

Here are some tips for you on your work with a timer:

  • Don’t look at the timer. Turn it away from you. If it’s on your phone, turn the display off or turn your phone over.
  • Don’t stop and wonder how much time you have left, no matter how much you want to know.
  • Time isn’t important except as a way to get started. Unless there is a hurricane or a fire, the amount of time that’s passed isn’t important.
  • If you’re writing or drawing, keep your hand moving. Pause as seldom as possible to work out a hand cramp if you need to. (As a side note, if you’re getting cramps like that, it means you’re holding your pen/pencil/paintbrush/knitting needles/crochet hook too tight and need to loosen your grip.)
  • Focus on what you’re doing. This music or TV on in the background? Tune it out. There are people who said they have to work in complete silence. Those people really get any work done. Distractions are a fact of life, even if it’s just your cat jumping up on the desk. Learn to deal with it.

Remember you’re creative in your life, not separate from it.

Guest Post: Cooking as a Creative Outlet

Guest post by Katty Flores.

As a young girl(friend) to my now husband, and expecting mother of my firstborn… I had no cooking skills that went beyond making fried or scrambled eggs. Maybe a quesadilla or a sandwich- and most definitely knew how to put a cup-o-noodle in the ‘wave – if ya knowwhatta mean. Wink. I mashed boiled beans with oil and water to attempt the refried beans ordeal but the end result appeared more like play sand.

My husband is of Mexican descent so he was used to eating authentic food… oops. And yikes. I… am Central American but the only background of food knowledge I had was eating my aunt’s home cooked meals. Growing up in Miami (driving in its traffic) – my mom would come home late and tired. She paid my aunt to shop for extra groceries so she could make larger batches of food and we could eat. Clever and convenient. However, I didn’t get much training at home for this very reason. By the time the opportunity came for me to learn I wasn’t interested. Now, back to being a young, pregnant girlfriend. My mother-in-law taught me how to cook a couple of authentic dishes. My grandma taught me how to cook chicken, beef and pork- and plug in the rice cooker. To be fair.. she did show me the stove top way (aka pilaf) but she loved me enough to teach me how to simplify my life.

Years were going by (second child born) and I practiced basic, feed em’ enough to keep em’ alive methods. At this point it was a necessity.

The interest to be more intentional with cooking happened was during a desperate moment of attempting to show my husband some love and more so the reality of living in the country where we didn’t have good restaurants nearby. Not to mention, a budget.

After reading a book on marriage (eye roll) I realized I hadn’t really been trying to make my man’s tummy happy. My kids still didn’t call me an amazing chef. Today… it’s all different. PSA: Getting creative in the kitchen doesn’t mean fairy dust gets sprinkled over yer forehead through the night and you wake up a 5 star chef.

All I did was dig deep within my gut and churned up the desire to research – and to happily accept more kitchen cleanup.

I began by watching YouTube (high pitched angelic chorus) – I searched for specific video tutorials within the cuisine I was attempting to master – I followed bloggers and as the good ol’ slogan reads: I “just did it”… I began to get better. What’s interesting is… once I was following recipes I actually tweaked the amounts of spices and herbs, paired things up with different sides… and all’vasudden I was enjoying the process. I now had ideas brewing in my own mind. My family was praising my meals and I enjoyed every second of it. I found out quickly that our creative juices do kick into gear. Mexican, Asian and American cuisines alike; I’ve made some oohs and awes happen ‘round the table.

The encouragement piece here is getting creative in the kitchen or any other area really is about taking action in a creative way. Finding the resources and implementing them becomes half the

Katty Flores is a lover of cilantro, lime, salt, pepper and chili as well as fresh, homemade foods and drinks. She currently resides in North Carolina and is soulishly seeking her place in the world of writing and creating. A wife and mother, her greatest desire is to spend every moment nurturing those two roles as her greatest gifts.