Summer Goals Update

At the beginning of the summer, I set a few goals for myself.  Let's see how I did.
  • Study wildflowers with Lil O - We studied flowers all summer long.  We learned many names, checked out books on wildflowers, sought out wildflower hikes and sketched a few.  I now don't feel like a complete wildflower novice.  
  • Build my online special education class that is slated to run in the fall - This course is 90% ready to go.  I still need to create a few more module assessments before it goes live in October.
  • Mountain bike and road bike more than I did last summer (and proudly wear my UE jersey) - I think Mr. UpCyclist wore his jersey much more than I did.  I did do a fair share of running and hiking.  But, riding...not as much.
  • Have four separate Yes Days - one for Lil O, Mr. UpCyclist, Puppy Jedi and myself - Since the entire summer felt like a Yes Day to me, only Lil O "needed" her Yes Day.  
  • Trail run to the neighborhood lake three times (last summer, I just did this once) - Yay, I did it! Check Instagram for proof here, here, and here.  Plus, I'm not bragging, but I actually ran the trail seven times.  Woot!
  • Make time for yoga, reading and just being - and not doing - I absolutely made time for yoga, reading and just being.  I think that is one of the reasons why the whole summer felt like a Yes Day. 
  • Create string art like this - Totally!  This blog post details the entire string art endeavor.  It really is one of my all-time favorite projects.
This summer, I did more reflecting and creating than I have in the past.  Such fuel for my soul.



Still Jonesing for a Diggler

Two things....I really thought I would own a Diggler Scooter by now.  First, Diggler is a cycling team sponsor for Upcycled Education.  Second, Jedi loves to pull.  He would rock a Diggler with Lil O and I on the back.

I. need. one.  I need a Diggler.  Kind of like I need an Instax Mini from Tech Tuesday this week.

Santa, are you listening?  I've been very good this year.

Peas.  Pretty peas.  With sugar on top and a cherry.



PS - The photo above was taken last summer when my obsession with Diggler began.

Instax Mini {for Tech Tuesday}

Photo credit
If I was Oprah.  And it was Tech Tuesday (at least that part is based in reality).  You would look under your seat right now and there would be your very own Instax Mini (affiliate link). So amazingly cute and charming that you would snap photos of all your friends, family and students.  And then, you'd cry because I was so generous and your photos so adorable.

Until then, save your $57 (for the camera) and $18 (for the credit-card sized film) and still cry because the photos are too cute and retro.

Need. one.


Mod Podge Heaven

Mod Podge is a cycling team sponsor for Upcycled Education.  Can you believe what they sent?  Each rider received a phat care package of product - a tee shirt, dimensional Mod Podge, Podgeable Papers, Extreme Glitter Pod Modge, Mod Podge Sampler....I could go on!

Mr. UpCyclist and team mascot, Lil O, both have been generous with me this summer and shared their Mod Podge goodies.

Yay!  Oh, and Lil O said it best the other day.  Mod Podge is a crafter's best friend.

Love that kid and Mod Podge,


PS - If you don't already read Amy's blog, Mod Podge Rocks, you really should take a peek.  She posts super-creative Podge-based projects daily.

Back-to-School: Do These Now!

Not that I'm trying to be pushy, but really.  Do. These. Now.  They are all appropriate for back-to-school.  They are all really easy to execute.

Trust me.

ROCK Rules - You need classroom rules after all.  You might as well make them cool and to-the-point.  Thanks again, Kim!

Textbook Quotes - Students love this activity.  Plus, this is one of the most sought after posts on Upcycled Education.  Who knew textbooks could be so sexy?

Textbook Gems - Speaking of textbooks, why not crack out your Mod Podge and make some textbook gems, yes?

SSLANT - Raise your hand if your students could hone their communication skills.  See, you need this one.

Captain, Crew, and Cargo - I use this metaphor with my students.  It works if you want participation and volunteerism.

Go get 'em and Happy Back-to-School,


Stamp Shop Now Open!

This was on my goal list for the fall.  But, why wait?  Stamp Shop now open!

Stamp shop now open

Happy shopping,


PS - If you are curious how the stamp shop came to be, read this post for a full explanation.  That is, after you shop here.  Ha!

Presentation Round-up {for Tech Tuesday}

Last Tech Tuesday, I featured my favorite web-based resources.  This week, I'd like to gather my favorite presentation resources.  If you are like me, you need a small break from PowerPoint, no?

Prezi - Students thank me when I introduce them to this free presentation tool.

Animoto - This free tool is great when you want the photos and text to do most of the speaking.

Haiku Deck - I am using Haiku Deck for an upcoming presentation and I couldn't be happier!

Fiverr - Heck, why not hire someone else to make your presentation for $5? Ha!  What a deal.

Embedding Videos in PowerPoint - If you are going to use PowerPoint, you might as well be professional about it.

Do you have a favorite web-based presentation resource?  Could you share it with me?  I am always looking for engaging presentation tools.



You Know I Dig Homeschooling

You know I appreciate thoughtful homeschooling as evidenced here and here.  In fact, Lil O and I have some big dreams plans in the coming years about this.  More on that another day......

And.... since I adore a good infographic, you know I appreciate this one below.  If you want to go the original source, click here.

Homeschooled: How American Homeschoolers Measure Up

All the best this Sunday,


Alright, 2013....

I shared with you back in January (here) that 2013 would be the year I engage in my most effective work.  I must say.  Not only am I engaging in my most effective work, but also my most effective (and enjoyable) play.

I am loving 2013.  What about you?  How is your year so far?

All the best,


Invite Me!

Days before I left for the summer, I gave my first keynote on creativity.  Though, I plan to cut it down to under an hour (it was 90 minutes!), I left feeling energized and heard, via email from some of the participants, they enjoyed it, too.


Since I've been researching creativity since 2006, I'd love to come out and share my collection of expertise with you. 

Invite me to come speak - to your staff, your parents, your students, your colleagues.

I promise it won't be one of those boring keynotes.  I promise to bring my A-game and energy.  I promise this keynote will be interactive, memorable and completely practical.

What do you think? Email me at for rates and dates.

My best,

Jen, lover of all things related to creative thinking

Global Collaboration Excites Me

I have a thing for collaboration.  Global collaboration is a big favorite.  Which is why I think this event (click here for details) on August 31st at 5pm Central Standard Time (CST - US) is hilarious.  And why I think the Sing app Lil O loves is so intriguing.

Are you with me?


Tech Tuesday Round-up

Since it is back-to-school time, I thought today it would be useful to round up several of my techie favs for the start of the school year.  Are you ready?  Actually, putting this list together reminds me of a few of these I haven't used in a while.

Dafont - I don't know about you, but the perfect font speaks to me.

Jing - I love making short video tutorials for my students.  Do you?

Newsmap - This free site is one of my favorites to have on the projection screen when students are walking into class.  The colors and headlines captivate them (and me!).

Poll Everywhere - If your school is cool enough to allow cell phone use, I think this free polling site is awesome.

Wolfram Alpha - Did you know Siri (of all the iPhone/iPad products) uses this handy-dandy data collector?  I love Wolfram Alpha.  Students do, too.

Doodle - Nothing annoys me more than trying to schedule a meeting with colleagues and the deluge of emails it takes to pick a date and time.  With Doodle, that dilemma is solved.  Huzzah!

Delivr - I lace all my syllabi with QR codes.  Isn't that too-cool-for-school?

Ha!  Happy Back-to-School!


Yes to Lil O's Yes Day!

You might remember from last summer, our family celebrates Yes Days.  If you are unfamiliar with the concept, check out my original post here.  Lil O is always uber-eager for her Yes Day.  Here's how it went down this year.....

Lil O's Yes Day started with cinnamon rolls - her request, of course.

Straight to the dog park for Puppy Jedi and Lil O, we went.   I think Lil O had just as much fun at the dog park as sweet Jedi.  That day, the park had its fair share of little dogs who all seemed to gravitate to Lil O.

On the way back home from the dog park, Lil O requested a trout stop.  Breckenridge has all sorts of lakes, rivers, and ponds.  This particular one, right in town, has the largest trout (because you can feed them from a candy machine; the machine has some sort of kibble in it for fish).

Kim at the Fresh Soap Company invited Lil O and I to work at her store that day. Lil O was sooooo excited to work and be around Kim and her soaps that afternoon.

We helped Kim package soaps and tie on raffia.  Seriously, how cute are these cupcake soaps below we packaged?  Lil O left that day with an appreciation for work (Yahoo!) and a tote bag of soaps.  Thanks, Kim!

On our way to the new art supply store in town, we stopped to admire the flowers.  Breckenridge - the entire town - does such an incredible job with their flowers. #breckenridgeisamazing

We visited the crazy hat store.....

We picked up two yummy desserts from the French bakery in town.....

Lil O is such a reasonable gal.  This was the only tangible-non-food item she asked for all day. A craft!

Here is the finished craft.  I really appreciate the updated line of Melissa and Doug products lately, do you?

Because Lil O wanted to stay up super late that night, she was 100% agreeable to a Yes Day nap.  Seriously? I really thought it was my Yes Day at this point.

Onto dinner.....Just like last summer's Yes Day, Lil O chose her favorite meal - Udon noodles with chicken minus the vegetables.  She ate. every. single. bite.

My sweet diva (don't you love the towel and Sprite drinking?!) ended her Yes Day with a French bakery delectable and a late night viewing of Disney's new Teen Beach Movie.   

Such a great day! Saying yes to everything Lil O wanted was totally easy and really so much fun.

Love that kid,


PS - One of my summer goals was to have a Yes Day for me, Jedi and Mr. U.  However, I have to say, this summer has been incredible.  I feel like everyday is a Yes Day.

Now, We Are Really Upcycling

Old bed Spring

If you follow Upcycled Education on Instagram, you know about this special present Mr. UpCyclist brought back for me from a jeep trail.  Yes, a trail!  He, Lil O and Jedi were hiking along in Colorado and all of a sudden an old bed spring appeared.  Now, I have something to confess.  I have a thing for old bed springs.  I like their lines and their antique-ness.  I could have worse fetishes, right?

Bed springs and paint swatches

After some serious brainstorming (say, for 15 minutes), Mr. UpCyclist suggested we incorporate paint swatches within the springs.  What?  Did I hear you correctly?  My FAVORITE free item in the world. Pinch me!  

....Then, I feel even more deeply in love with him.

As always, I have a collection of paint swatches on me (or at least nearby).  We played around with a few versions of how to incorporate the swatches.  Mr. U then ran off to our local hardware store to buy the hardware to hang this lovely sweetness.  Ahhh......

Close up  Bed springs and paint swatches

As you can see, the swatches are just nestled into the back spring.  Mr. U trimmed them to fit (they are more square now compared to their original rectangle shape).  The colors are vibrant and fun.

Did I mention this bedspring is gigantic?  Which is a great thing as the wall where it hangs is so tall.  See what I mean?

bed spring, paint swatches in the loft

And because it hangs right in the loft by a king-sized bed, I thought this detail would be fun.  I used my alphabet stamps and Staz-on ink (the best ink for stamping paint swatches, in my opinion.).

I love little details like this.

Sleep Tight detail with bed springs

I know I've mentioned this before, but you can rent our condo in Colorado when we are not there.  If you do, you'll see these upcycled bedsprings in all their colorful glory.



Wake Up + Be Awesome Artwork

This summer, I've been obsessed with painting the town of Breckenridge, Colorado.  See....

But, I didn't always love it.  The artwork, that is.

So, I decided to paint over the sweet town in country red acrylic paint.  Then, I carefully added some adhesive letters - which were not very adhesive at all!  But, I was careful painting over them in bright turquoise - which looks more like slate blue below.  See how the letters barely stick?

After two coats of turquoise and a night of drying, I was quite happy with the finished product.

When we are in Colorado, I will wake up to this sweetness everyday in our loft.

Wake up and be awesome!


PS - The original saying comes from something I saw on Facebook - a posting by Boulder Cycle Sport.

Instagram Services {for Tech Tuesday}

I think I prefer Instagram over any other social media outlets.  It is visual, tidy, and artistic (most of the time).

To celebrate my admiration of Instagram (IG), I've collected  four of my favorite services related to it.  If you have a fav you think I/we should know about, please add it to the comments section below.

Postagram - Thanks to a blog post over at Crafterhours, I know about this awesome, app-based service.  It is simple to use:  you download the app, click on one of your IG photos and instantly send a hardcopy (a real postcard) to a friend!  Or better yet, send a postcard to a grandparent; You will score instant brownie points with this fee-based service.  Hurray!

Mpix - What makes Mpix so handy is their app.  You just tap on your photo and can order IG-sized photos straight from your phone.  You can do this with the Costco app, too, but their photos are not sized to the lovely, IG square.  I love that square.

Artifact Rising - This company makes beautiful, soft cover books of your IG photos in two sizes and two price points ($13 and $28).  I think their books are great for a gift - say for a teacher - or super if you are on a budget.

Stickygram - When I was in elementary school, I collected stickers.  Stickers + IG photos = Total awesome sauce.  For $15, you can order a sheet of nine sticker photos.  I think this might be my new "I dig you" gift - for faraway friends and family members.

Happy Instagramming!  Come by IG to see what I'm up to at @upcyclededucation.



PS - For the next three weeks, I am taking a phoneography class at Under the Sycamore.  Here's to my IG photos getting even better and more clearer! Huzzah!

Featured on CRAFT - Yay!

Silly me!  I forgot to tell you, I'm blogging over at CRAFT as part of their travel series.

Lots of photos, info and Breckenridge love!

Check it out here and big thanks to Jamie for inviting me.




Photo: Wildflower spotted on a recent hike with Lil O; We think it is called Woods Rose.

Yet, another great quote from the Joy of Appreciative Living.

This summer, besides my summer goals here, I am really trying to work on a few self things.  You know, things to improve myself - my life, my parenting, my relationships, my level of joy, etc.

I notice I sometimes get hung up on things - things like money, he-said-she-said stuff, old relationship patterns, yadda, yadda, yadda.  Instead of focusing on what is not working or what I don't like, I'm attempting to shift my focus to be more in line with this quote.  

I'm focusing on the stuff that I want to grow.  The positive parts.  The joy.  The ideal - even if that means it is slightly imagined.

Want to join me?