Imagination can bring more $$$$ into your life

A Slice of AnnyWorld:

Can you make money and do good at the same time?  Unfortunately, there are many out there who believe it’s not possible.  Sell out first, they say, make your fortune and then change the world. 

I just can’t do that.  I recognize that money buys freedom, such as the freedom to buy a house with a yard so I don’t have to walk Odin when it’s cold outside, and the freedom to help change the stories of many around me, but I can’t chase money.  I invite it to come to me in return for doing something meaningful, something that helps others. Though I haven’t been able to make much money and do good at the same time YET, I have good role models around me who inspire me to stay the course. One such person is my friend Marie.

Marie and I are different in lots of ways…one of the biggest is that she enjoys the business side of life, whereas things like business plans and budgets make my head spin.  I’d much prefer to live in the worlds I create in my head and put down on the page.  But one thing we have in common is an active imagination.  We’re not afraid to think outside the box.

Some years ago she bought a recruiting company that matched people to tech jobs.  When she bought it, the company was bringing in about $150k in revenue each year.  She felt sure that the company could make much more than that, but in order to expand the revenue, she’d have to figure out a way to make the company stand out from the rest of its competitors. That’d be the only way she and the company could snag more clients.

She put on her thinking cap and came up with ideas of how to conduct her business differently.  One of the most radical was this:  She would be totally honest with employers when presenting her candidates.  She’d discuss the candidate’s weaknesses as well as his/her strengths. She’d point out to the prospective employer what specific challenges she thought the candidate would have if he/she was hired for the job, as well as the value the candidate would bring to the position/company.  This allowed the company to make better hiring decisions and set the candidate up for success once she/he got there.

NONE OF HER COMPETITORS WERE DOING THIS.  Employers loved this because it prevented them from wasting time and money on the wrong candidates for their jobs. The candidates loved it because it set them up to succeed at their new company. 

Marie’s unusual approach garnered fans quickly, making the company revenue skyrocket.  In a few short years her company’s revenue went from $150k a year to $6 million a year. 

By being creative about how she sold her clients, she expanded her company to the point that buyers came knocking.  She sold it and started her next adventure….

By serving the higher right, in this case putting the best interests of both client and company first through being totally honest, Marie raised her bottom line. Take a look at your own efforts.  Could you be doing more good and making more money by doing things differently?






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You Can Eat The Sun

Miss the sun?  Most of us in the northern hemisphere do right now.  Here’s a fun way to create the sun, and then use it to warm up your tummy!
The Sun is a dynamic and active star. If you look at it with a
telescope, or even with a pin-hole camera or special eclipse-
glasses, you can see features
on the sun that are moving and
(Remember you should never look directly at the sun!)
Participants will make an edible model of the Sun’s outer layers
using cookies and toppings.


Cut licorice candy into short pieces and separate
the strands.
This activity can be messy, so we
recommend table coverings and have a garbage bag nearby. We also like to divide the
ingredients into a few smaller containers so multiple
participants can use them at the same time.
To Do and Notice
1) Begin the activity by finding out what participants already know about
the Sun. What does the Sun look like? Is
it the same all over? Is it the
same all the time? It might be helpful to have a few telescope images of
the Sun on hand to serve as examples. Many participants might not have
seen such an image before or have not looked at one closely. You’ll find
links below for some good sources of images.
2) Give each participant a plain cookie and ask them to spread white frosting on top.
3) Shake some yellow and red sprinkles on the frosting. These form the
granular appearance of the photosphere.
4) Place a few chocolate chips on the cookie to serve as sunspots. You might want to mention
that sunspots appear in pairs and suggest them to put two chips close to each other.
5) Place a few pieces of licorice on the cookie, forming small arches. They can stand straight up
as in the example above or lie flat to protrude off the edge of the cookie. These are prominences.
You might want to mention that prominences are generally found near sunspots, where the area is
active and has a stronger magnetic field.
Activity Notes
Please note that the features we model with the cookie and toppings are only those of the surface
layers of the Sun, which are the photosphere, the chromosphere, and the corona. These are
features that we can see without any aids (sunlight), with simple pinhole projectors (sunspots),
with eclipse-glasses (sunspots and some prominences), and with telescopes (all of the above plus
granulation of the photosphere).
What You’ll Need: round plain cookies(most generic brand sugar
cookies would work.)
white frosting
yellow and red sprinkles (found with baking decorations and food
colorings in grocery stores.)
chocolate chips or M&M’s (We found that mini ones work best.)
pull-n-peel licorice candy, such as Twizzlers
plastic knives
small paper plates or napkins
Images of the Sun can be found here:
From Core to Corona: Introduction and definitions to the Sun’s layers and features

Sun-Earth Viewer: live solar images from multiple observatories

Not sure how to turn the below solar flare image into a cookie, but I’d love to try! If you have any ideas of which edible decorations could resemble this image, please email or comment!

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Free Fun For Your Brain

What’s a great way for girls of all ages to connect, have fun and use their brains/imaginations? What can entertain all of you as you battle the elements via car, train or plane to get to where you’re going?   MAD LIBS!

Mom started playing Mad Libs with me when I was little and now I’ve  started playing Mad Libs with Madu.  Not only does it create hours of fun, but it helps you learn, or re-learn some basic grammar and expand your vocabulary.    Now Madu begs me to play all the time.

To start you select a story that’s already written.  All Mad Libs have several key words or phrases left blank.  Underneath each blank, you’re asked to use a specific type of word such as a noun or verb etc.  That helps with learning the basics of grammar.

The girl who’s filling in the words doesn’t look at the story so she can pick random words that come to her, without trying to use words that would make sense in the story.  The girl who’s seen the story writes the words she’s given into the blanks.

Ultimately, you end up with a silly and/or ridiculously funny story.

I set out to see if there were any kid friendly Mad Libs sites online and I found this one.  Not only can you play the game, but you can submit your own Mad Libs, print Mad Libs out, and buy the Mad Lib books all in the same place.  With the exception of ordering the books, the site is free.

C’mon girls, let’s create!



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It’s 40 below, Might as well CHILL OUT

For those of us who choose not to tempt the god of frostbite, but instead remain snuggled in bed or by the fire, here are a couple of  ideas on how to chill out and ready your mind to create:

1) HAPPINESS ROOM: Visualize what Denise Parker, a top archer in the world, calls a “happiness room.”  Picture yourself in your happy place: in a castle library by the fire, a lush forest by a stream, in a ‘doom buggy’ in the Haunted Mansion ride at DisneyWorld, whatever floats your boat so to speak.

My happy place changes, but one of my favorites is to vividly visualize myself in Turtle Bay, which is in the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden near Hilo.  I see the enormous rock formations and sea turtles swimming, feel and smell the warm, flower scented breeze on my face, listen to the waves crashing and the birds singing…ahhhh I feel relaxed even writing about it.

2) HOT-AIR BALLOON: Close your eyes. Breathe deeply and slowly as you count backwards from 10 to 1.  Imagine a giant hot-air balloon in the color of your choice, mine is purple perhaps with magenta, cobalt, and orange on it too, tied down in the middle of a lush meadow.  Use all of your senses to picture the balloon as vividly as you can…see the weave of the basket, hear the noise of the gas making the air inside of the balloon hot etc.  Now imagine yourself putting all of your worries and/or problems into the balloon’s basket.  Once you’ve put all of your cares into the basket, see the balloon being untied and floating up into the air.   Watch as it floats further and further away from you until you can’t see it anymore. Take a deep breath and allow yourself to feel whatever comes up now that your  mental baggage has floated away.

The above ideas courtesy of  Thinkertoys, by Michael Michalko.

Sending you warm, relaxing, loving energy!


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Homemade Purple Lava Lamp

Because she wants to be a scientist, Madu got the gift of science from me this year.  Steve Spangler provided the science kit.  (Thanks to Michelle Tuchner for turning us onto Steve.)

We’ve been making colored snow–green, blue and yellow–and then we tried an experiment with blob.  The directions said to use the red or blue fizz tablet, but Madu came up with her own hypothesis that she wanted to test.  What if we tried to make purple by using two tablets, one red and one blue? Would it still make colored blob or would changing the formula change the outcome?


So we filled the test tube with water and the oil, then held our breath as we dropped in two tablets instead of one. 

Voila! We did get purple blobs!  Water is heavier than oil, so the water absorbed the color and then turned into blobs in the oil.  It’s also why crude oil floats on top of the ocean’s surface when a tanker has an accident and dumps it into the sea.  The homemade lava blobs are in the tube on the left.

Stay tuned for more of our experiments!  #GIRLSCREATE, #PURPLEPASSIONS


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Oh the Weather Outside is Frightful…

Here in Chicago old man winter came early this year, and shows no signs of departing.  So I was thinking about how we could amuse ourselves indoors where it’s nice and warm.

Okay this isn’t my fireplace, but I wish it were!  I digress…

Try these mini-exercises for the imagination. They’re fun! (Courtesy of Jeff Vandermeer and his Wonderbook.)

1) Walk through a shopping center focusing on smells. (Say hi to Santa or Rudolph if they are there visiting.) Write a couple of sentences describing each unique smell without naming it.  (Anny note: You could turn this into a game.  You have 30 seconds to use as many adjectives as you can to describe a smell without naming it.  See if the other person can guess the name of the smell.)

This is my attempt at describing something I’ve had to smell for days in my condo: Pungent, hurts my sinuses, burned tree sap aroma, camphor, smells like the cleaned hallway of a doctor’s building.  Can you tell what it is?

2) Taste something you’ve never tasted before.  It doesn’t have to be food, but it does have to be something that won’t make you sick, i.e. don’t drink house cleaning liquids etc.  Sit down and describe the experience in a paragraph.

I’d love it if you’d share your exercises with me in the comments below!

In the meantime, stay warm….




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How To: Gingerbread Houses


I’m always in awe of amazing edible architecture, like the Hogwarts and Whoville gingerbread structures above.  Perhaps that’s because my houses often look like the two pics above.

But as long as it’s good fun, all houses are beautiful.  Every year Madu and I make a gingerbread house.  Full disclosure: we usually decorate one that’s pre-made.  That being said, Here’s a link to help you get started on your own mother/daughter edible adventure.

Please put pictures of your finished houses in the comments section, or send them to me at:, so everyone can see them!

P.S. Here’s a pic of last year’s house.  Despite Madu eating some of the candy off of it, yes we’ve told her not to, it still looks pretty good!