HOW TO UNLEASH YOUR CREATIVITY

Unleashing the creativity in yourself - it is easier than you think!
Jules and Louis Blog - ribbons and notebook

Have you ever had some nasty comments when you told close friends or family about your plans on becoming a creative maker/entrepreneur? Or ever heard them telling things about the "starving artist" concept? Or that your family wasn't too keen you'd be studying something very creative, and that you better should study something else? Because being or getting creative "doesn't pay you (enough)"? I know I have. A lot. And I know they mean it for the best. But it's just discouraging. And it creates a fear inside that holds you back from what you must be doing (remember my book review on The Crossroads of Should and Must?). It stops your creativity more when you listen to everyone else than rather listen to your own heart that tells you what you would love to be doing all of your life.

Around December I had a great talk with a close friend of my parents. He was talking about his good old memories of Antwerp where he had worked when he was around 17 years old. He had always worked in a small bakery, run by a close family. He told me something at the end of our conversation I will always remember because it made so much sense to me! He said: "When you are working in a bakery, you always start from scratch. You create something spectacular with your own bare hands, starting with the basic ingredients, and that is amazing. When you work for instance in a large company or factory like I have been doing later on in life, you're not creating something anymore, you will always be a small chain in a big circle of employees. And I have always loved creating and working with my hands, it is something that gives me so much more fulfillment." You can imagine how he loved to create instead of sitting at his desk all day. It is exactly the same feeling I have.

Jules and Louis Blog - tulips and pink notebook

And if I'm truly honest, I'd love to be creating with my hands too, much more than I'm doing now... I believe that there are a lot of creative spirits like me out there, who are maybe thinking how to stay creative all the time and how to unleash their creativity, so here are my tips.

1. We were put on this world to create

Try to remember: everyone is born with a natural touch of creativity. Just look at our children - the best proof! They have a natural curiosity (which is key) and they are always excited about new ideas. They are playful, they don't lose their fresh ideas by negative thinking and they've got no fear of being different or not being cool enough. We are all creative people, we just have to allow these creative juices going AND lose our fear of being different than others. So remember: we're all creative, even if you think you're not. You just have to find that particular thing you love to do - be it writing, drawing, sewing, writing, dancing, blogging, baking, whatever it is you love doing. Keep on doing it!

2. You have to exercise in order to keep those creative juices coming and flowing

Exercising, going outside or just taking a stroll at the beach or taking your dog out for a walk will definitely help you getting fresh ideas when you're stuck. I know I always get the best ideas when I'm doing something else. Especially when I take a shower, new ideas come so I really need to write them down when I can, because when I forget to write them down - they're gone.

3. Create a stimulating environment and get in your "flow"

This one is so important, to me it is! When you have your own little space, it will definitely help you to stay creative. And it will get you in the mood to create. I know I get happy when I see my creative mess still on the table - my husband not so much. Haha! I have been working on the dining room table for more than a few years already and it has been a bit uncomfortable - you always have to hide the creative mess when you're entertaining and sometimes my husband gets so tired of all the mess I produce here. Unfortunately I still don't have my own home office to work in (although it is one of our personal goals to tackle this year - we have the space, we just need to buy the necessary furniture and accessories. I know who will be happier when I have my own space to work at...).

4. Know that we learn to create by actually creating

You just have to start creating in order to keep on creating. Believe me. It is definitely motivating when you learn to create something, because it naturally gives you new, fresh ideas. I know I have. Currently I'm taking the Modern Calligraphy Summit 2.0 and while I've been listening and watching the lessons online, I know I got fresh ideas while watching and recreating... It's so much fun to pick up an old hobby again and maybe turn it into something more!

5. You're unique - don't change that

There's only one you in this world. You have your own voice, vision, handwriting, style and way of living. May it be chaotic, structured, dreamy, romantic or whatever your style and way is. That is why you need to love yourself, and be kind to yourself. Everything you create will always be "you", because you created it. No one else.

Have you got any other tips to unleash your creativity or to keep those creative juices flowing? What do you do to stay creative and motivated? I'd love to learn and hear more of you! 

5 TIPS ON HOW TO READ MORE

Jules and Louis Blog - 5 Tips How To Read More Books

As an avid reader (or should I say bookworm?) I'm always on the lookout for new books to read. The only problem is when you're a mum and a fan of reading: those things don't really mix very well. Every mother out there will understand me: with our kids, jobs, responsibilities and things we want to check off our to do-list it is sometimes hopeless to find some time for yourself. Let alone pick up reading again! Even I don't always find enough time to read. But it's like they say: as for everything in life you have to make time to do the things you love. Create the time! After my burnout I picked up reading again and one of the things I tried to do was carve out some time to read. When reading a book I tried to read right before bedtime. Simply 10 to 20 pages or how long I could before I got sleepy. That was the only moment I really felt like reading and it also really helped me to fall asleep better...

I'm guessing many of you also struggle with how to read more books. If you're also trying to pick up reading more this year, here are my top 5 tips you can use so you can start working through that stack of books you have been wanting to read all year (or for years).

Step away from the screen, m'am!

Less eyes on your screen (including tv and laptop/pc at night) and you have more focus, energy and eyes for your book. Turn off your notifications, turn off your tv or computer and just focus on only reading your book, even if it is for just a few minutes. Trust me, your eyes and mind will thank you for it.

Make the most of your breaks or lunchtime

Think you don't have time enough? Take a great book with you to work and read during your breaks or lunchtime. You'll feel so much more refreshed when you start working again. Try it, I have done it too when the sun is shining outside and it really helps to see things at work with a fresh mind after my lunchbreak is over.

Read before bedtime

This one has helped me a lot, personally. Just think of the benefits of reading before bedtime. By doing something calm like reading before going to sleep, your mind will stop doubting and overthinking things which will eventually help you to fall asleep much faster. And it helps finishing your book you've been wanting to pick up for such a long time! I tried to read 10 to 20 pages every evening before bed. It may seem like a small amount, but trust me: it really felt great once I finally finished a book. 

Start some me-time moments

Even if you don't want to read during your lunchbreaks or you can't give your iPhone or laptop some rest and you fall asleep before reading the book, try the other way... Start by creating some special me-time moments. For example: if you have some extra time on Fridays, you could take a bath and then start reading that book you've been wanting to read all year long. Just take your agenda and reserve some time on that special day where you do exactly what you want to do and read that book that has been catching dust in your book case. And even if it is only one Friday every month you have for yourself, see it as your time only and for no one else. I may sound very selfish saying this, but trust me: you'll feel refreshed.

Yay, vacay!

Vacations are the ideal moment to catch up on some titles we've been wanting to read for a long time. And the best thing is you can take along your e-reader without having to drag a pile of books to your holiday destination. Imagine: the kids playing around and you have some extra time for a book. Heaven. :-) And if your kids are like mine and you can't really sit still during the day because you have to watch them every step: you always have a quiet evening or two to read a little, right?

What are your tips to read more? Have you been reading more books last year? Was it your resolution for 2017 to read more as well? Keep your suggestions of great books coming, I'm always open to learn about interesting books I haven't read yet!

HOW TO CREATE SIMPLE FLOWER ARRANGEMENTS

A simple flower arrangement in your home always adds a fresh touch.
Jules and Louis Blog | How To Create Simple Flower Arrangements

Flowers always make my day. They not only make you happy, they also brighten up the house, giving it a fresh and colourful touch. I can't deny, I'm a flower junkie. The more the better.

And when you're not always able to buy fresh flowers from your local florist, don't worry: me neither. You can do so much more with the ones you buy at your local supermarket too! Make simple flower arrangements that you can place throughout your home to add that fresh touch everywhere.

If you let me pick the flowers, I usually go for peonies, roses, tulips or gerbera. Especially the pink and peach tones attract my eye every time.

And the older I get, the more I love how a flower can perk up your whole interior. Because we're all busy, the simple flower arrangements that don't take up much time to create, are the best! But how do you create the most simple flower arrangements? And more importantly: how do you take care of flowers?

Jules and Louis Blog | A simple flower arrangement with peonies

1. Pick out your flowers

Pay a visit to your florist or grocery store or take a look around in your garden and pick out the flowers you're visually attracted to. Any type of flower is great, but if you're trying to keep them for a week, certain flowers are known to survive a week better than others. As I said, I usually go for sturdier flowers like roses or peonies, but daisies or gerbera are definitely also a great option. I know from experience that ranunculus are sometimes pretty quick to wither.

2. Choose a vase to put them in

Or a can, a jar, a glass or anything that you love. Or get a tray and put all kinds of little vases or glasses on to put your flowers in.

3. Arrange your flowers

If you have a selection of different flowers, just go with the flow and go with what you like the most. Little bundles of flowers everywhere makes every place and corner happy. A big bouquet is also nice to have in a room where you are the most. Or one big flower in a single jar or small vase is very elegant and makes a statement too. It is all about what you love.

4. Care for your flowers

Cut the stem at roughly a 45 degree angle. I've read that you can add aspirin, sugar or wodka with a teaspoon of sugar into your water to make your flowers last longer. I always make sure to change the water every other day. Great tip for when you only have tulips to care for: they grow rapidly in water, so don't put them in too much water and cut their stems once in a while. It will make them last longer, trust me. It's how I take care of tulips.

5. Enjoy your arrangement

Don't forget to stop and smell the roses. Enjoy your little creations everywhere or your bouquet of favourite flowers. Make pictures of them. I do too and I share them on Instagram. Haha!  When I look back it's nice to see the beauty and magic of flowers. So try, experiment, have fun and don't forget to enjoy your flowers while they are in your home!

What are your tips to make flower arrangements last longer? Do you have a favourite flower (and colour) you always go back to?

HOW TO MAKE GINGER TEA WITH LEMON

A wonderful warming recipe for the cold winter days and to prevent a cold...
Jules and Louis Blog | Recipe Homemade Ginger Tea with Lemon

One of the biggest lessons I have learned lately is listening to your body. For a long time my immune system was so weak I constantly got ill. Or got colds, sore lips and what not. I only realised afterwards it was my body telling me "I told you so". I wasn't listening to my body. At all. Now after my burnout I am so much more aware of my body telling me things. I try to slow down when I feel not at ease, a cold coming through or tired. When you don't listen to your body and the signals it sends you, you will quickly feel sick, drained and totally tired. 

I can honestly say it was my lifestyle that got me ill. In the past I was constantly running and racing around. I wanted to be the best mother, the best wife and friend I could be, and yet I didn't feel like one. And I wrestled with feelings of guilt and obligation. I wanted to help, love and not disappoint and do as much as I could, but I passed my own boundaries. I constantly went beyond my capacity.

Nobody can keep up with such a lifestyle! And that is how you create a weak immune system. Which was an aha-moment for me! :-) A lack of sleep and an unhealthy diet are also not really helping to feel better soon. But the most important thing is self-love and taking time to rest. You sometimes have to say no. Say stop to yourself when you find yourself racing again.

So on one of those moments when an ugly cold got a hold of me, I was at home reading this article on how a home made ginger tea with lemon and honey can really help you feel better sooner. I remembered I once drank a homemade ginger tea with orange being at the local Christmas fair in my hometown. It immediately helped my sore throat feel more at ease, that is why I wanted to try it out at home myself.

What you'll need:

  • a few slices of lemon (preferably biological)
  • a few slices of peeled ginger
  • a teaspoon (or more) of honey (I used acacia honey)
  • hot boiled water
  • a cup/bowl to drink from

Boil your water, add the slices and the honey and let it rest for a few minutes and tadaaaaa... there you have your big portion of daily dose of vitamins! It is so easy and simple!

Jules and Louis Blog | How To Make Homemade Ginger Tea With Lemon

And for your information: ginger is truly a powerhouse! It is commonly used to help with a sore throat, digestion, nausea, headaches, migraines, artrose and chronic inflammations. And when you put it into hot water with some slices (or squeezes) of biological lemon or orange, you have yourself a beautiful homemade tea that is great for your health!

Lemons and oranges are high in vitamin C, that is what my dad used to learn me when I was younger and feeling ill. He was the one who also taught me that raw honey is great for your health: it is antibacterial (you can even use it on your skin when you have little wounds), anti-viral and high in antioxidants. You can find raw honey in your local organic food store.

If you ask me, this homemade recipe of ginger tea with lemon and honey is the perfect remedy to give your body the little TLC it needs to feel better soon. And even when you're not sick or ill, making this tea just for fun is definitely a must. Warming and energising for the colder days ahead of us.

Hugs,

Inge xxx

Photo taken by Inge Picqueur for Jules and Louis.