Creative Motivation

GI-221_1500x300-608x608Dear Reader, on this chilly Thursday, I’d love to know: What, if anything, inspires creativity in you? Because creating is my job, I need to constantly be inspired. Many days, I’m completely on auto-pilot. I’ll throw something on Netflix while I make banner ads at work. Other days, I’ll try and fail to read a complete news article several times. Some days I’m just stuck.

But there are lucky days when I oooooze creative energy. I’ll know just the music to get me in the zone, or I’ll have spent my morning looking at my fav photographer’s work. Sometimes I like to hop onto some different subreddits or twitter to see what other creatives are doing. Getting in touch with a community like that makes you feel a part of something. It’s a lot less isolating? So I’m curious, what kind of stuff gets you in the mood to get those creative juices flowing? For me, a few are:

TychoTycho-Spectre-SC-Visual-TrackSince Tycho is a graphic designer himself, I feel maybe doubly connected to his music. It’s very vibe-y, hazy and not so jarring that I can’t zone out to it. I’ve said before on this blog, but I think extra design goes into Tycho’s sounds. I really feel like he knows how to create atmosphere and mood and evoke lust and longing in a person. I dig his whole brand.

Circa1983 DSC_6169_oCirca1983 is Owen Perry, a British Columbia-based developer/designer who, like me, taught himself how to become a photographer, and has a unique style of processing. His work very much got me more interested in learning about acquiring good gear and go with my gut when editing photos.

SKYRIMDZX6UbEYES, OF COURSE I’M SERIOUS. I would say Skyrim doesn’t just inspire me to create, but it inspires me to be the best version of myself. I listen to the soundtrack, on average, 12 times a month. It’s good for all times of day and all manner of weather. It’s great for taking walks in the woods, along creeks, around lakes, etc. It makes me want to be brave, tough, adventurous and curious. To explore new places and be humble in grand, epic environments. My love for Skyrim is deadly serious.

For other times when I’m searching for a visual jolt to get me going, I have no shortage of inspiration on my Pinterest page. Boards like Design, Outside, and Cabin keep me energized. ✚

Let’s Furnish my Skyrim Apartment

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Yesterday Ikea announced that it would be bringing the series Nornas to US stores in February. My initial reaction was that holy crap, THIS is where I need to live. Look at those gorgeous floors, the snow-dusted pines, and the bare, natural wood featured throughout. It’s my Skyrim apartment all over the place.

Dedicated readers will know that Skyrim is a topic much touched upon here. I haven’t even played in a while and yet the game continues to influence me IRL. My fixation with adventure combined (this is crucial) with beautiful landscapes undoubtedly started when I obsessively watched Fellowship of the Ring over and over in my youth. I went to New Zealand for a Summer study abroad program as a direct result of my LotR obsession. So, when I started to play Skyrim as an adult, I was brought back into a world of mountains and wintry forests. My Fantasy is a literal fantasy. I want to run around fields and mountains with a sword and shit. Like, it’s serious how much I wish that was my life. If there was a Skyrim/Middle Earth hybrid that existed (probably without Mordor though?) that’d be ideal. Thanks.
This is also why I will probably always be reluctant to start playing Fallout, and when I do, I won’t love it as much as Skyrim. Sorry Alan.


So anyway, this Ikea collection is *really* perfect, and it makes me regret every purchase we’ve ever made in our home. Except the couch I guess can stay. No, our furnishings are great. I just wish this series had been around before. We don’t have anything that is that exposed knotty pine.
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What I love about this collection especially is what it excludes. This is serious no-nonsense furniture. It’s solid, practical design.

Now…If I were going to choose where I’d live in Skyrim, without hesitation I’d say Whiterun. One time I said I’d want to live in Markarth and Alan said he would too, but I didn’t really mean it, and I felt trapped. (LOL)
Skyrim-BreezehomeAnd If I could, I would update the house just a little bit:
e0b39657aa73d8ee0eba9ad7a1416bd4If Whiterun had a coffee shop and wifi I’d be set for life (they already have a bar).

Go ahead and laugh at me now.

Kick Winter in the Balls.

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Daaamn it’s cold today. When I awoke, the temp was -9 and windchill was -26. Right now we’re sitting at a comfortable 0 degrees with -11 windchill. So, that’s an improvement. I take winter comfort extremely seriously. In a way it’s because Minnesotans complain about the weather so damn much, I try to be an advocate for embracing the cold. It’s not hard either. I swear.


First, Cozy Sweaters are a must. I get all mine at Old Navy because they’re relatively cheap, and easy to adapt into whatever your style is (e.g. buying an XXL black cable knit for goth-ness. Protip).  Above is the Boat-Neck Vented-Hem Sweater in “Black Marl.” It’s super soft.

Base layer: So important. I’ve used these leggings as a single layer for outside jogs/walks and they’re also thin enough to wear under skinny jeans for during the day. You gotta layer, man. This is the Women’s Heavyweight Tight from Columbia.

Get a coffee mug that won’t quit. I highly recommend Stanley. 1, because they’re a cool old brand so you got some street cred. 2, because they’ve perfected the vacuum seal. As long as I’ve been working at an office, I’ve been bringing coffee from home in pathetic plastic and ceramic travel mugs like a schmuck. NO MORE. I have the 20 oz One Handed Vacuum Mug in classic green.

MOISTURIZE. Seriously! Walking around with itchy skin that feels too tight all day is a terrible tragedy. After you get out of the shower and your skin is still soft, apply generously. Vaseline brand lotion with aloe is MY SHIT.

You can’t go wrong with wool socks. Whether they are thick boot socks or microwool, which generally have been moisture wicking abilities, you’ll want to make double sure that your footwear is waterproof. Once they get wet, you’re screwed. Think trench foot. Anyway, pick up several pairs of Alaska Knits at Target and thank me later.

It also goes without saying that the Skyrim soundtrack needs to be on your essential winter listening.

Crusin’ (in the U.P.) part II: Ancient Stones

Part I is here
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Ok so I’ve mentioned a few times that this trip — FOR SOME REASON — reminded me of, and subsequently made me really want to play Skyrim. I only play a couple video games to be honest, but Skyrim is one of them, and I LOVE IT. Gorgeous landscapes, mythical storyline, DRAGONS…? You get to be an ancient Nordic hero and I looove that. I gone and purchased the soundtrack while up there in the UP. Go and listen to this song from the soundtrack, called “Ancient Stones,” which is fitting, because our Lake Superior cruise on Monday was ALL ABOUT ROCKS. YES.  See? I brought it back around. I know how to structure a blog post.


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To be fair, this really reminds me of Fable III.CRW_5517 CRW_5549 CRW_5555 CRW_5558


I wasn’t super paying attention, but let’s see if I got this right: The Upper Peninsula was, at one point, just a huge rock. And this was like, MILLIONS of years ago. Mainly, when most of the world was just a big rock. Then like, glaciers and stuff, BOOM, melted, creating a ton of lakes in the midwest region. Minnesota has such a low elevation we got the brunt of the water flow. Hence the state of ~10,000 lakes. Lake Superior carved out all these nice rocks, which are Limestone I believe, and then thousands of years of erosion and rust have givin them a very painterly look, so,  they call them The Pictured Rocks. My sister-in-law mentioned this was kind of a touristy thing, but I believe that sometimes a tourist trap is a tourist trap for good reason (just never go to Madam Tussauds ANYWHERE). Hilariously, we saw a lot of signs for the Pictured Rocks on our way up there, which advertised that they were featured in the Kid Rock video “Born Free.”  I was REALLY sold then.


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Our nephew, Petoskey, who is actually named after the state rock of Michigan, really liked hanging out with us during this trip, and especially during the cruise.CRW_5621
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Eventually I lost my window seat facing the rocks so I took a lot of pictures out in the back. Which was more fun anyway, so who cares.
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*~The Newlyweds~*
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Alan took a picture of me, after I set up the camera for him. I seriously need to teach him how to just use it. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
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Too many pictures of waves? Make one of them black & white. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
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Why take pictures of a  FEW THINGS when different things are happening ALL THE TIME? This is why I always have the camera.
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Afterwards, little niece Athena came running to me (she and Gramma), because she found a big bear, and she wanted a picture of it.  Oh my god, even the 3 year old is ultra-aware that I am a camera fiend. Gahd.
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Isn’t this the CUTEST?

This was such a fantastic trip. If we could make it a yearly thing, I would be 100% down for it. Though it could never be exactly be the same. Remember what I was saying about nostalgia? I can never be satisfied. I’m too full of longing. Cue melancholy piano music from Skyrim.

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