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Explore Your Creative Side

It can transform your life … and your home!

By Patty Hutchens

Your friends invite you to a girls’ night out. You think it sounds great until you find out it’s a craft night! If you are like me, the natural instinct is to find an excuse and graciously back out. After all, who wants to be humiliated in front of all your friends? The truth is, one does not have to be “crafty” to create beautiful things. And who wants to miss out on the laughter and fun that goes along with it, not to mention the wine that often accompanies these events.

Alison Henslee founded The Creative Soul Collective, a place to foster creativity in a safe, intimate group setting. With classes in her home and other community venues, people come together to create with friends—and often leave with new friends as well.

Alison guides participants with detailed instructions and inspiration. And most importantly, she encourages each and every person along the way, leaving little or no room for self-doubt.

“I believe we all have some level of creativity in us; we just express it in various forms and to different degrees. When I'm teaching a painting class, I assure them from the very beginning that there's no skill needed as I lead them through the project every step of the way ... and more importantly, there is no ‘right or wrong’ way of doing my paintings,” said Alison of her paint and sip classes. “My favorite thing is when a client adds their own touches along the way or makes changes so the painting fits their style. The biggest thing I promote is putting aside inhibitions or preconceived notions, relaxing and just simply having fun!”

The friendships that are formed are as beautiful as the art that is created at these intimate workshops.


Want to couple creativity with practicality? Now is the time of year I always am envious of all those people who are buying an abundance of produce at the local farmers markets to not only consume now but to can for use in the winter months. I have found that, although it may seem intimidating at first, preserving and canning food can actually be quite simple if you follow a few important steps.

First, start with fresh, local and organic produce. The quality of the ingredients will make a huge difference when canning. Whether you grow it in your own backyard or purchase it at the local farmers market, do your best to get the freshest ingredients available.

The second step in the process is to prepare the food. Wash, chop, cook and jar as soon as possible after picking so that the food is just as tasty on those cold winter days as when it was fresh picked. However, if you have crops from late fall or early winter, the cooler temperatures will allow the food to keep awhile longer—especially when placed in the cellar. And then when you are ready, start to can. Experts state that you don’t need a great deal of gadgets to can; the simpler the better.

Before you begin, check out the many online references that will provide you with everything you need to know step by step.


What about those home-improvement projects you would love to hire out, but it’s just not in your budget? And if you think about doing them yourself, you would not even know where to begin. Fortunately, there are so many tutorials online you don’t have to look far!

Whether it is giving your cabinets a makeover by freshly painting them, installing a new backsplash or converting that old antique dresser into a new kitchen island, the ideas are endless!

Below are some ideas that may provide just the inspiration you need to get started!

Create a new backsplash using faux shiplap that adheres to the wall. Yes … that’s right. You don’t need any woodworking or carpentry skills, and you definitely don’t need a tile cutter to give your kitchen a whole new look! It’s both affordable and simple, and you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing you did it yourself.

Do you find you are lacking when it comes to space for a home office? Are there papers piling up on the kitchen counter or table without anywhere to store them? Try converting a closet into a home office. Simply unhinge the door, remove the hanging rods and install shelves (preferably a deep one that will serve as the desktop and two shallow ones to accommodate storage above). The only cost will be shelving and the hardware to install them.

If you want to brighten up your kitchen, it isn’t as hard as you may think. You can brighten up your countertops with battery-powered LED undercabinet lighting that is attached with adhesive to the bottom of your upper cabinets. Bell & Howell makes mini-power pods that will light up any area without the requirement of plugins or wiring. They are powered by AAA batteries and can be used in many locations throughout your home.

We all may not be crafty, and it may be intimidating at times to try something ourselves. But the truth is there are tutorials online, and many stores such as Home Depot and Lowes offer workshops on a variety of home-improvement projects so you can start your project with confidence. They also offer classes for kids!

What are you waiting for? Explore the possibilities of how you can bring out your creative side.

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