Posts Categorized: Today

Spring 2022 Inspire(d)

Spring 2022 Inspire(d) cover

The Spring 2022 Inspire(d) encourages you to look at this season as an opportunity to Restart. Just as the world begins anew, growing out of the muck, so can you. Inside, you’ll find inspiration for restarting your goals, gardens, and more! 

Restart with Spring! Q&A with MN Artist Amy Rice • Circular Economy – Secondhand as a Way of Life • Climate Advocacy – Ayla Boylen & Leslie Smith Sand • Community Builders: Friends of DPL; Renée Bergstrom; Bree Breckel & Eric Weninger • Spring Gardens • Mental Health – Restart Your Goals • Sum of Your Biz: Jamie Gavle of Rendered Unique • Spring Ephemerals • DIY Scratch Notebooks • And More!

Read the whole thing online here!

A note from Aryn:

The first thing we do when something’s not working – a computer, a coffee grinder, a phone – is do a restart.

We power it off. Sometimes we even unplug it, and then we power it back up again, hopefully with its functions restored and ready to restart.

Sidenote: Pretty much every day I get a prompt from my computer: Updates available. Restart  > now; later; remind me tomorrow?

Every time, I click “remind me tomorrow.” Ha! We are all works in progress!

And that’s more than okay. Our mental health writer, Olivia Lynn Schnur, gives us a background on why restarting – a goal, a day, your life – is a worthwhile endeavor (pg 36). She writes: “Each time we restart, our why becomes louder and our why not loses its voice.”

Minnesota-based artist Amy Rice (featured on the cover) made a conscious decision to restart her creative direction more than a decade ago, painting her future, rather than her present or past. Much of her work switched to featuring the flower farm of her future – which is now a reality! Inspire(d) is sponsoring Amy’s upcoming show at Lanesboro Arts, “A Few Steps Ahead: Finding Hope in a Seed Started.” Her work often features reuse of items like old maps, love letters, and stamps – a good way to restart the life of these items, and a perfect fit for this issue (pg 16).

This Restart theme is also a nod to Earth Day. I can’t let an opportunity to love the Earth slip on by; it needs all the love it can get!

Kristine Kopperud met up with two women who are both working to spread that message: Ayla Boylen of Cedar Rapids, and Leslie Smith Sand of Decorah. They have found a way to advocate for climate action on a community level, building their communities up as they go (pg 56).

We have other great Community Builders in this issue as well – read about Decorah’s own Friends of Decorah Public Library; Renée Bergstrom of Lanesboro, Minnesota; and Bree Breckel and Eric Weninger of Cashton, Wisconsin, and how each group, person, or partnership has worked to make their hometowns a better place to live.

Speaking of “re-” words, reuse is the name of the game in our piece about four awesome, women-run secondhand stores in the Driftless (pg 50). Plus, our Sum of your Business features Jamie Gavle and Rendered Unique, home to great rehabbed and vintage furniture, handmade jewelry, Midwest-inspired apparel, and more (pg 42).

Dreaming of restarting my garden is one of the things that gets me through the end of winter. You too? Check out inspiration on page 48. Love plants that don’t require weeding? Conservationist writer Craig Thompson gives us a tour of nature’s spring ephemerals (pg 60). Don’t know that word? I didn’t either. It means: “lasting a very short time.” Which is often the case with the entirety of spring, so let’s soak it up!

Spring can be a time where our dreams from the start of the year have fallen to the wayside. But just as the world is restarting its life outside your doors, peeking out of the earth toward the sunshine, so can you. Press restart today.

Looking forward,

Aryn Henning Nichols

DIY Scratch Pads

Most households have piles of paper – worksheets from school, recipes you didn’t love, junk mail – just waiting to be recycled. But wait! How about a reuse first?!? As long as your paper has blank backs, you can turn it into your own DIY scratch pads with this fun project!

Supplies:
Padding Compound or Rubber Cement
8.5 x 11 scratch paper with blank backs
Paper Trimmer (scissors would work too, but be more difficult)
Thin cardboard (to act at the scratch pad’s backing)
Paint brush (the one pictured above ended up being too large, so we went with smaller ones, which you’ll see later)
Not pictured: Two binder clips for each scratch pad

Take a stack of 8.5 x 11 scratch paper and cut it in half lengthwise…

And horizontally. Gather stacks into whatever sized scratch pad you’d like to make.

Next, grab your thin piece of cardboard (this was in a mailer with some art – cardboard from cereal boxes would work too), and cut it to size (4.25 x 5.5).

We made two scratch pads, experimenting with both Rubber Cement and Padding Compound (read on to see our assessment!)

Flip the pages so the blank sides are facing up, and place your piece of thin cardboard under each stack.

Tamp them together so the pages sit evenly on the side you’re going to glue.

Then grab two binder clips and attach them at the edges of the side you’re planning to glue, like the picture above. Make sure to set up your area to catch any glue messes (we put some paper down).

As mentioned in the supply list, my original paint brush was much too big for this project. So I used this one pictured.

For the Rubber Cement, just use the brush included with the bottle. Apply a nice layer – not too thin, but not so it’s glopping off the edges.

For the padding compound, follow the same instructions (this is what it looks like – it looks similar to school glue, but dries differently).

Here’s the start to my layer of padding compound.

Next, set the scratch pads on the edge of a surface to dry (this is the edge of our table).

After 30 minutes or so, flip the scratch pads over so they dry evenly. Let them dry another 30 minutes before checking to see if they’re totally dry (just tug off a sheet and see if it’s got the feel of a scratch pad). We found the Rubber Cement took just a bit longer to dry. Both glues worked for well the project, but the padding compound was just slightly superior.

And you’re done! These are super handy for to-do lists, writing love notes to your family members, or quick runs to the grocery store! Enjoy!

Winter 2021-22 Inspire(d)

The Winter 2021-22 Inspire(d) talks about the various meanings of wrapping up – a year, in comfort, and as you handle transitions. You’ll find inspiration for indoor and outdoor winter activities, community builders, awesome change-makers, and reminders that rest is productive. 

Wrapping Up! Northeast Iowa Women in Wrestling • Winter Bird Feeding Menu • Community Builders: Amanda Goodenough • Brooke Pfeffer • Marty & Teri Richards • Mental Health – Rest is Productive / Handling Transitions • Sum of Your Biz: Good Dog Center • Flowchart: Should I Stay (Inside) or Should I Go (Outside)? • Paper Gift Bows & More!

Read the whole thing online here!

A note from Aryn:

Wrapping up.

This phrase holds several meanings for me.

Before I (and my cousins) headed off for college, my now-late Grandma Betty would give each of us a blanket that she had carefully crocheted. This way, we could wrap up in something that reminded us of home anytime we wanted, snuggling in a little cocoon of comfort and kindness. My blanket is on the cover of this Inspire(d), and I like to think I put the same love into our magazine that my Grandma put into her afghans.

Wrapping up can also mean finishing out a project, a season, a year. As we enter the winter season, and get ready to wrap up 2021, I think it’s important to remember, “rest is productive,” and a vital part of life. Mental health writer Olivia Lynn Schnur helps us tap into this time of rest and transition in her piece on page 36 (with an introduction/infographic by me on page 33).

We also have three great Community Builders this winter – Amanda Goodenough from La Crosse, Wisconsin (with excellent recommendations on How to be a Better Ally); Brooke Pfeffer from Lanesboro, Minnesota; and Marty and Teri Richards from Richland Center, Wisconsin. We are always so inspired by the people who work to make their communities a better place, year after year, and we are happy there is truly an endless list of these folks. So we’ll keep ‘em coming (and let us know if you’d like to nominate a Community Builder in your area)!

We are inspired by the young change-makers of the world as well. And boy – or I should say – girl, do we have some great ones featured in Kristine Kopperud’s story about Northeast Iowa women in wrestling (pg 40). These young women (and coaches) have worked hard over the years to get more girls on the mats, and it’s working. Girls’ wrestling has grown from 36 girls on Iowa teams in 2014 to 660 in 2021!

In Renee Brincks’s story about Kiva Iowa, the new Cedar Rapids-based local lending opportunity (pg 60), we learn how we can help entrepreneurial change-makers create new businesses in Iowa, and in this issue’s Sum of Your Business, Benji Nichols caught up with Carmen Hurley of The Good Dog Center in Decorah to see how she’s made her business work for more than two decades!

We’ve also got Craig and Mary Thompson sharing their talents and expertise with a Winter Bird Feeding story (pg 52), and great inspiration throughout the whole issue for indoor and outdoor activities to (happily) get you through winter.

Finally, there’s one more meaning of wrapping up for me: Gifts! When I was younger, my mom taught me to make the homemade gift bow we’re doing for this issue’s Paper Project (pg 31). It is a favorite of mine – a version of it actually debuted our Paper Projects back in 2011 (wow!), but as a flower. The bows make perfect present toppers for the holidays, birthdays, or any gift-day, and always amazed friends at parties – “Whoa, you MADE that?!” (In all honesty, it’s really very easy – but you don’t have to tell anyone that!)

To wrap up this letter (what, too much?!), thank you, dear readers, for your support and kindness throughout this year. Here’s to a 2022 filled with forward momentum, positive stories, and lots of love, gratitude, and inspiration.

Happy Holidays, New Year, and Winter, friends!

Looking forward,

Aryn Henning Nichols

P.S. Check out the awesome PJs my mom gave me for Christmas a couple of years ago in the pic above! Hello, cozy winter!