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By Jeffrey Baumgartner

1. Listen to music by Johann Sebastian Bach.  If Bach doesn’t make you more creative, you should probably see your doctor.

2. Brainstorm.  If properly carried out, brainstorming can help you not only come up with sacks full of new ideas, but can help you decide which is best.

3. Always carry a small notebook and a pen or pencil around with you.  That way, if you are struck by an idea, you can quickly note it down.  Upon rereading your notes, you may discover about 90% of your ideas are daft.  Don’t worry, that’s normal.  What’s important are the 10% that are brilliant.

4. If you’re stuck for an idea, open a dictionary, randomly select a word and then try to formulate ideas incorporating this word.  You’d be surprised how well this works.  The concept is based on a simple but little known truth: freedom inhibits creativity.  There are nothing like restrictions to get you thinking.

5. Define your problem.  Grab a sheet of paper, electronic notebook, computer or whatever you use to make notes, and define your problem in detail.  You’ll probably find ideas positively spewing out once you’ve done this.

6. If you can’t think, go for a walk.  A change of atmosphere is good for you and gentle exercise helps shake up the brain cells.

7. Don’t watch TV.  Experiments performed by the JPB Creative Laboratory show that watching TV causes your brain to slowly trickle out your ears and/or nose.  It’s not pretty, but it happens.

8. Don’t do drugs.  People on drugs think they are creative.  To everyone else, they seem like people on drugs.

9. Read as much as you can about everything possible.  Books exercise your brain, provide inspiration and fill you with information that allows you to make creative connections easily.

10. Exercise your brain.  Brains, like bodies, need exercise to keep fit.  If you don’t exercise your brain, it will get flabby and useless.  Exercise your brain by reading a lot (see above), talking to clever people and disagreeing with people- arguing can be a terrific way to give your brain cells a workout.  But note, arguing about politics or film directors is good for you; bickering over who should clean the dishes is not.

Take some time out to have some fun with your kids!  Here are some helpful suggestions and ideas!

1. Build an amazing couch cushion fort!

2. Celebrate an eco-friendly Valentine’s day together.

3. Here’s a whole list of fun winter time activities for you to enjoy.

4. Parent Magazine has a large collection of activity ideas for you to pick and choose from.

5. Do you have a tiny chef in your family?  Encourage his/her culinary passion with these baking recipes for kids.

6. Want to play games with your kids and have them learn at the same time?  Check out PBS Kids for a good start.

7. And eHow has an article on how to have more family fun on a small family budget.

What are your favorite ways to have fun with the kids?

This article was originally published by Woman’s Day.  Visit their website here.

By Dana Gottesman

Photo (c) Comstock

Photo (c) Comstock

Feeling under the weather? If you’re sick of running to the drugstore and popping pills, these 10 inexpensive home remedies may be just the alternative you’re looking for. We reached out to the experts for non-pharmacological treatments that can help resolve your minor health ailments. From colds to insomnia, fatigue to indigestion, read on to learn their advice for solving your everyday health problems the all-natural way.

For indigestion…

Pour a glass of fennel tea. Fennel can help with gas, bloating or an upset stomach, says Teerawong Kasiolarn, ND, a naturopathic doctor and licensed acupuncturist, who recommends drinking the tea after meals to promote digestion. You should also take care to eat slowly, chew food thoroughly and avoid drinking very cold liquids or soda with your meals, since these factors can contribute to indigestion, acid reflex and heartburn.

For an itchy rash…

Turn to nature. Instead of using a steroid cream, why not try a plant-based cream or ointment like calendula? The cream works as a natural mild antiseptic and is ideal for treating burns, scrapes and irritated skin. Want to grow your own rash relief? Keep an aloe plant in your kitchen, says Michael Finkelstein, MD, a certified holistic physician. It’s a great remedy for itchy, inflamed skin, and is also more economical than purchasing a tube of aloe from the drugstore.

For asthma…

Strike a (yoga) pose. While you may still need an occasional puff on your inhaler, the cobra yoga posture has been found to aid ashtma sufferers by opening up breathing passages, according to Dana Ullman, MPH, founder of Homeopathic.com and author of The Homeopathic Revolution. Begin by lying on your stomach and placing the palms of your hands on the floor, under your shoulders. Inhale while you raise your head and chest by using your back muscles and hands to support you. Exhale while lowering your body. Repeat at least five times.

For a fever…

Slip on some wet socks. Before you reach for Tylenol, try this naturopathic treatment, which could lower a fever overnight, according to Dr. Kasiolarn. First, pour cool water onto cotton socks and place them on your feet. Then cover the wet layer with a pair of wool socks to draw your body heat down to your feet and reduce your overall temperature. It’s also wise to avoid sweets, dairy, and fatty or greasy foods while suffering a fever, as eating these types of foods has been found to raise body temperature. Instead, indulge in watermelon, a fruit that’s very cooling to the body.

For stress or anxiety…

Make your own recess. When stress becomes exceedingly difficult to manage, try carving out time during the day for a short break, says Dr. Finkelstein. An outdoor break is ideal, since natural light, fresh air and movement can be especially restorative for your mind frame. Can’t leave your desk? Take a five-minute time-out to do a simple stretching exercise to rev up your energy and boost circulation.

For a cold…

Concoct an herbal cure. Infuse a glass of water with natural antiviral vegetables and herbs, such as garlic, fresh ginger slices, basil, green onion and cinnamon, to ward away cold symptoms. A tincture of echinacea is also helpful for boosting immune health, says Dr. Kasiolarn. An effective tincture will numb the tongue and should be taken with early onset of cold symptoms.

For chapped lips…

Make your own salve. Mix equal parts beeswax and olive oil for a homemade balm that soothes and smooths cracked lips. If your lips are frequently chapped, you should also make sure you’re drinking plenty of fluids, since dehydration could be the real culprit. Fish oil in liquid form can also be taken with meals to help with chapped lips and dry skin for additional relief, says Dr. Kasiolarn.

For a cold sore…

Tackle it with tea. Black tea contains tannic acid, which is thought to have antiviral properties, says Ullman. Pour hot water over a tea bag to moisten it slightly and then let it sit out to cool. Place the warm bag directly onto the sore for about five minutes to aid in its healing. For the best results, apply this remedy immediately after a cold sore surfaces.

For a cough or sore throat…

Chew a garlic clove. Raw garlic, which has both an antiviral and immune-stimulating effect on the body, may actually clear infection, says Finkelstein. If raw garlic is too strong for your taste, try popping it in the microwave briefly before ingesting. For a stubborn cough, also try sniffing eucalyptus essential oil, which naturally clears mucus.

For insomnia…

Slow down at nightfall. You can’t run around the block, put on your pajamas, hop into bed and then expect to fall asleep, says Finkelstein. Quiet the mind and body several hours before you go to bed by limiting your nighttime activities to relaxing pursuits like reading. To further ready yourself for bedtime, try dimming the lights and shutting off the TV and computer screen at least half an hour before hitting the pillows.

Home on Tuesday

Hey!  Welcome to Home on Tuesday, where every Tuesday I scour the internet to find great tips on design, cleaning, automobiles, organization, and more!  Please note that I will be out of town tomorrow and so Working Wednesday will be postponed until next week.  Please subscribe to Life Lists’ RSS feed so you can be updated each time there is a new post!  Please feel free to leave your comments, even if it is to say hello!  I see you are coming by, so don’t be shy, just say hello! :)  See you on Thursday!  Enjoy!

1. Brighten up the dreary days of winter by planting pre-season blooms!  HGTV shows you just the plants to use.

2. Think you can’t decorate because of the economy?  Well, the Budget Decorator begs to differ!  Find unique ideas for decorating, organizing, gardening, and more!  And you can sign up for a free budget decorating newsletter.

3. Cleaning a home thoroughly can be painstakingly exhausting.  So Stepcase Lifehack has provided 150 tips and tricks on cleaning everything from carpets to vinyl records.

4. Extend the life of your electronics with tips from Real Simple.

5. And while you are at it, learn how to extend the life of your mattress, as well, with the help of Eco Salon.

6. The Daily Green and the American Lung Association show you 25 ways to keep the air quality in your home safe.

7. Everyone wants to go greener these days- whether you care about the future of the environment and a balanced ecosystem or just for the sake of cutting costs in the belly of a recession.  EcoHomeResource.com has a plethora of resources to help you achieve a greener living space from your kitchen to your nursery.

8. And, finally, don’t forget to take a look at the Innovative Project of the Week brought to you by Interior Design Magazine.  This week’s project was designed by Renzo Piano Building Workshop and is for the California Academy of Sciences.

Hope you enjoyed this week’s links!  Leave a comment and let me know which one(s) were most helpful to you.  You could see more of the same in a future Home on Tuesday!

Love it or loathe it, it is Valentine’s Day again this Saturday.  I have collected some places for you to visit whether you are sharing time with someone special or wish Valentine’s Day would crash and burn.  Don’t forget to leave me a comment to say hi and let me know you were here!

1. iVillage/BlogHer present Valentine’s Day and You: A Love-Hate Relationship

2. AskMen.com paired up with Cosmopolitan magazine to bring you the gifts that won’t make him gag.

3. Lovingyou.com’s 7 Days of Long-Distance Relationship Romance

4. One man’s Valentine confession: Why I hate Valentine’s Day- on MSN

5. A Valentine’s Day Guide for Singles- MSN

6. Learn the History of Valentine’s Day from The History Channel

7. Kids’ activities for Valentine’s Day- Kaboose

8. Love Poetry.com- Both classic love poems and submitted love poems

1. The Secret to Being Insanely Creative- Zen Habits

2. Out-of-Box, In-the-Box, New-Box, Other-Box, No-Box Thinking- Creativity for Life

3. The Imagination Prompt Generator- Creativity Portal

4. Blue boosts creativity, red makes you careful- Globe and Mail

5. Art and the Narrative Gap- Layers of Meaning

6. Introduction to Creative Thinking- Virtual Salt

7. How to Incorporate Creativity into Your Business Practice- SCORE (Counselors to America’s Small Business)

8. Free Sewing Patterns- About.com

9. How to Make Pottery: A Step by Step Look- Out of the Fire Studio

10. Woodcraft.com offers over 1500 woodworking tools, plans and supplies for the passionate woodworker.

1. Sometimes more mess can equal less stress.  Learn how to tolerate the natural chaos of your life and feel happier.

2. As you know, I am a big fan of Gretchen’s Happiness Project.  Today I want to direct you to her tips for dealing with criticism so that it is less stressful and more helpful.

3. An article after the early childhood educator in my heart- Scientific American Mind explains the seriousness of play.

4. Stressing about money?  Who isn’t?  The growing field of behavior economics is looking at the ways in which money drives us crazy.

road-to-happy

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