Tag Archive for fun

How I Came to Color on the News

Things are close to being out of control…

And never has this meme been so fitting.

Ladies Coloring Club--a big deal

It has been quite month for Bright Shiny Things. I still have sticky notes for recipes hanging on my kitchen cabinet that I still hope to get written up sometime, but I’ve been distracted.

I’ve been distracted with the normal things of life, especially as we’re getting ready to wrap up school for the year, but, I’ve also been distracted by coloring books, and crayons. (Insert some cartoonish sound effect of screeching breaks and canned laughter, for lame, un-funny, comedic effect.)

Well, it’s not the coloring that’s distracting me so much–it’s the attention my coloring, or rather my post about, and the group of ladies, who color is getting that’s distracting. Original post here: Ladies Love Coloring–How to start a Ladies Coloring Club.

Warning and background…

Be warned I will probably have a few posts dedicated to this topic, but you survived all of the random Elvis stuff so you can probably survive these posts. (Or maybe you’ll ignore them–but let’s pretend that’s not what you do.)

Be also warned this post is a little lengthy–but I hope you find it interesting or, at the very least, mildly amusing.

Now, the reason I intend a few posts about this topic is because there has been a lot of unexpected things happening. I’m going to go into some specifics on a couple of these happenings in follow up posts, but for now, I will focus on how I specifically came to color on the news.

A few weeks back I noticed a bit of a spike in my blog traffic. People were somehow finding my post and sharing it around Facebook. I don’t have a blog that generally gets a lot of traffic that way. If something gets around the interwebs it’s usually a recipe, and it’s usually via Pinterest.

After the Facebook traffic, there came another spike, this time the traffic was coming from nymag.com. I wondered what was going on. A little bit of research lead me to discover New York Magazine was a pretty decent news/media website (I mean they only have a modest 1.4 million Facebook followers). They had found my post, written about it, and I had no clue. Tell me, if you read it, wouldn’t you have thought we spoke? Or emailed? Or something? Click here for the article.

Shortly after that, people started sending me an NBC nightly news piece about adult coloring (not including us) and something about it sent me over the edge. I was slightly irked that people were publishing articles about me, without my knowledge–and feeling really, maybe, even taken advantage of because of my accidental trendiness. (I’m ok now, don’t think I’m complaining–it just kinda caught me off guard.)

So, I sat down with a cup of coffee at 7 AM. I went to the first news station I could think of. Why? Because they have a morning weather guy that I really like. That was my only criteria for picking them. I found a spot on their website that said news tips. I thought, “well, I didn’t think this was news but…”

I proceeded to (very quickly) write the following letter, which was too long for their website form, and required a direct email. It’s full of typos, which I left for your pleasure, as well as a bit of attitude–but as it turns out, they wanted to talk to me anyway!

Here’s the what I wrote.

Dear People Who Decide What’s News.

I have never written to a television broadcast station before. Forgive me for breaching any typical news-station-letter-writing protocol. (I’m not even sure where to send this—please forward or delete as you see fit.)

I am writing to you because I (and a group of ladies I know) are apparently, and initially unknowingly, a part of a large trend sweeping the country—or at least dusting corners here and there

In January, on a whim, I mused to my husband, “I bet if I started a club for women to come and color—bring you own books and crayons and just sit and color—people would come.” He laughed, scoffed really, and can now regularly be found shaking his head in disbelief. He shakes his head because now adult coloring is being talked about everywhere.

His first head shaking occurred when I was interviewed by NPR about our club. “MPR?” he questioned, “No, NPR!” was my reply. I spoke with NPR for 6 minutes and they witted it down to a few seconds. It can be heard here, on All Things Considered, around the 52 second mark: http://www.npr.org/2015/04/01/396634471/artist-goes-outside-the-lines-with-coloring-books-for-grown-ups

I thought that would be the end of it but I also have a blog. It’s not a real blog, meaning, I just do it for me, and for fun. I don’t network, I don’t sell ads, or do those typical blogger things, but I wrote about our little group on it. Last week, somehow, my post was picked up (without my knowledge) by New York Magazine—New York Magazine! Then the LA times linked to that article, and there continues to be news pieces, national news pieces, about adults who color.

You can find these pieces at these sites: http://nymag.com/thecut/2015/05/meet-the-adults-who-love-to-color.html and http://www.latimes.com/books/jacketcopy/la-et-jc-adult-coloring-books-20150507-story.html

My original blog post is here: http://fenlason.net/BrightShinyThings/ladies-love-coloring-how-to-start-a-coloring-club

Being a passionate lover of Minnesota, it seems a shame to me that the national news is getting to tell the story, of this local group of unassuming trendsetters. If you would like to learn more about our club, and this craziness, I’d be happy to talk to you.

If anyone would like to attend our club you’d be welcome.

There are coloring club rules though: it’s for Ladies, and you have to color at coloring club, but how and what you color is up to you (inside the lines, outside—we don’t judge). If you ever stop by some of our members have vowed to wear their nicest yoga pants.

We don’t claim to have started this trend, it was purely coincidental. We have spun off and inspired a few other clubs to start, and it has been great fun to be a part of what’s happening.

Truth be told I don’t watch the news like I used to—my lifestyle doesn’t allow for it often.

So if you have covered this, I missed it, and you my disregard these ramblings.

Jenny Fenlason
Founding Chair-Color-er of the Ladies Coloring Club

They contacted me that same afternoon. They wanted to feature us that night but we couldn’t swing it, so after some going back and forth we worked it out for them do a story on us and visit our club a week later. You can see the story here.

Since my first contact with the news, another media outlet picked us up–only it’s a tabloid, and it’s all wrong, but it’s given me great fodder for an open letter to them (one of the follow-up). And then, after the story aired, it’s been shared all over the place. It’s a little crazy.


For the record, this is the only news outlet I have contacted personally, besides the short blurb on NPR after I responded to their call for adults who color. Anywhere else you read about me–is not from me seeking it out, and at this point, most of them are not without my prior knowledge (other blogs linking to me are cool–that’s a blogger thing, that’s different).

A lot of good things have come out of the craziness. I’m making new connections and I love connecting with people. So many women have contacted me about our club, or starting their own that we set up a Ladies Coloring Club Facebook page to help people all over connect and color. 🙂

And, I’ve also been given some brand new coloring books that I’ll tell you about in another follow-up post. Maybe even give one away … I’ll work on it.

I think that’s it for now.

I warned you this was long. Sorry about that. Just know, this is only a fraction of the things that have been going on in and outside of my head with this. (Translation: It could be worse.)


Ladies Love Coloring! (How to Start a Coloring Club)

UPDATE: Hi! And wow! This is post really getting around. I’ve set up a Facebook page specifically for our coloring clubs, and others who want to get started, or want to connect with like minded people. Check it out here: http://www.facebook.com/LadiesColoringClub


And now the post you were looking for …


“She posted on Facebook once and you won’t believe what happened next…”

“Ladies Google ‘adult coloring books’ and it’s not what you think…”

“Grown women enter a local coffee shop and no one expected what happened next…”

I’d never stoop to the level of click-bait lines to promote a post, but if I did it would be one of those. And I was really tempted to with this post because, at the very least, some moderately remarkable happened recently.

Shortly after Christmas a friend posted a picture of a coloring book for grown-ups. Seeing it made me think about how much I enjoy coloring. My boys don’t really enjoy it–they draw all kinds of pictures, and battle plans, but never really sit down with a book and crayons, so I don’t get much of a chance to color.

Then this little idea popped into my head, and I vocalized it to my husband, “I should start a Ladies Coloring Club!”

I don’t recall what he said, if anything, but I do recall that his expression was one of incredulity. Undeterred, I continued.

“We bring our own books and crayons–BYOB and C– to a coffee shop and just sit and color. I think it’s brilliant. People will feel relaxed, they don’t have to make awkward eye contact, they can just color and relax and chat.”

And then he said something to the effect of, “You think people would really come to that?”

Now, before I tell you the facts of what transpired next, you must know that if, at any point, I am challenged on an idea, I will in fact fight, and try even harder to prove that I am indeed correct, and brilliant, or at least not completely crazy. So, not only was I excited about my idea, I was dead set on proving him wrong.

And a funny thing happened. I didn’t need to fight for my idea very much. I threw out a vague post on Facebook about the idea.

Ladies Coloring Club

People immediately responded with likes and comments–over 40 of each. Don’t tell my husband, but even I was a little surprised by the response.

Then I set a date and “advertised it”.

Ladies Coloring Club
Then I had about 11 people show up for the first meeting, we posted a group-selfie, and the response was impressive. The comments, the likes, the people wanting to join. Over 100 people were intrigued by this club.

That was January, and we just had our February meeting where 23 people showed up. We more than doubled in attendance and not everyone from the first meeting could make it.(This photo was before everyone had arrived.)

Ladies Coloring Club

There sat twenty three grown women with crayons, and pages, and books, and beverages. Some colored simple childlike pictures, some did elaborate works, some free handed. It was fantastic. Everything I’ve dreamed and more.
Ladies Coloring Club Art

I didn’t intend to blog about this when we started, but now I’ve had a few different people say they’d like to start coloring clubs where they live and wouldn’t it be great if Ladies Coloring Club became a worldwide phenomenon? We can all be connected with the hashtag #ladiescoloringclub (that’s what I’ve been using). Imagine it! Women, worldwide, united in coloring.

I’m encouraging you to start a chapter, it’s simple and here are some tips.

1. Find a casual spot. I prefer a locally run coffee shop, but that’s just me.

2. Pick a time. Evenings (7-9) seems to work best for my club. Once a month.

3. Invite random ladies. Anyone and everyone should be welcome. A few Facebook posts was all it took for me. We started a Facebook group after the first meeting so people could invite others to join, and to make sure no one misses a post about meetings.

4. Strive to keep coloring club a judgment free zone. Inside the lines, outside the lines, it’s not how or what you color–it’s that you color. Maybe someone just needs to scribble as a way to release stress, and that’s ok too.

5. Create memes to remind people of upcoming meetings. Ok, that’s not a necessary step, but fun.


Ladies Coloring Club Meme

What do you think?


Does Ladies Coloring Club sound like something you’d want to attend or start? If so, do it! It’s super easy and low key. If you do start one, and if you post anything on social media consider using our hashtag #ladiescoloringclub so we can see our fellow club members.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, my husband was surprised by the turn out. After our last meeting he said, “I couldn’t get 23 guys to sit and do that if I offered free beer!” but I guess that just proves what I suspected–ladies love coloring.

Be proud of your coloring ladies!

2015? Bring It.

I cannot believe it’s almost Christmas, and I cannot believe it’s almost a new year! It’s also almost my birthday.  So I thought as long as I’m getting ready to start a year, I might as well put together my resolutions.

I’m pretty terrible at resolutions so a few years back I decided to make silly resolutions. Silly resolutions are fun because you don’t care if you can’t keep them, but if you do, well then you’ve at least accomplished something fun.

So, here are my 2015 Resolutions.

1.) Introduce myself as Jennifer at least 5 times throughout the year, but say, “Please, call me Jenny.” Hopefully this will help me remember that my name is actually Jennifer and I won’t act so alarmed when people use it (official people like doctors, judges, Costco employees, etc).

You can call me Jenny
2.) Learn one semi-challenging rap song to as a follow up to Axl Rose at karaoke (see about that here). I tried learning Can’t Hold Us by Macklemore–it was too hard. Although I didn’t try too hard. I wonder karaoke DJs have Kris Kross? Probably not–which is wiggity, wiggity wack (wait, does that mean something is good or bad? I mean bad.) Anyway, I’m taking suggestions.

3.) Hold a Christmas in July BBQ. Oh have I got ideas. I’ve had them for years. I don’t know why I never do this. It’s going to be totes amazeballs–wait, I’m sorry I used that phrase, please come anyway.

4.) Ride a mechanical bull.

I’m also brainstorming some new things for the blog in 2015. One new feature will be a sub-category of the existing I Heart Minnesota. I Heart Minnesota: Food will be highlight information about local eating establishments. I’m hoping it will be fun, informative, and a good way to support local businesses. I’m already working on a post for the category and hope to have it early in the new year.

You never know what else I might cook up–literally and figuratively. Thanks for being one of the bright and shining things in my year!

How about you? Any resolutions?

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Road to Explosion–Part Deux–Re-Do

Road to Explosion Part Deux

I had plans…

Oh, did I have plans. Ideas, energies, big plans. I announced it (see here). I even made a video of me calling the hotel and created an application (in the post here). I was going to use the application for some silly purposes, but I was also going to try to recruit a big group. I planned to blog about it once a month until it happened, but then I became silent on the topic for a couple of months until posting this news and recipe.


I became silent because life events took over. We spent the late spring and summer dealing with some stuff–stuff that I won’t go into–not bad stuff (so don’t worry about us) but stuff that we thought would make the trip to LaCrosse in impossibility. But then–then all the stuff came to a screeching halt, and it turns out–barring some drastic change–I can go now!

But Elvis Explosion is in two weeks, less actually, and there’s no more time to do all that I planned and hoped back in the spring. There’s no time to recruit a group of 12, although I think I’m going with about 5. There’s no time for games, and silly posts to build interest or a following, there’s just me–shooting from the hip, and making it a fun girls getaway, rather than an “Interactive Road Trip and Social Media Documentary”.

I have a few ideas for posts, and maybe some games, if I can muster the energy for them. I’ll instagram, and post things (I’d say tweet but I still don’t love Twitter) while we’re there, so make sure you’re following me. And I really, really hope at least one Elvis will be wearing something fringed and will twirl with me (see the twirling obsession here and here).

Here’s what you can expect now–a post or two leading up to the trip, a whole bunch of social media posts while on the trip, and anything else I feel led to or inspired to write about.

I hope I can still provide some entertainment for you with this!

Oh and if you have no idea what I’m talking about, here’s a link to the whole category. I just went through the posts yesterday. I had forgotten just how much I blogged about it–it was fun for me to go back and see how much fun we really did have.

Here we go!

Princess Jenfen and the Magic Beads

We recently went camping and I got the chance to read some modern fiction. Below you will find the nonsense that transpires when I read modern fiction.

Reading in the hammock.Once upon a time…

In the land of Apolis in the region of Minne, there lived a princess named Jenfen. She had no legal claim to a position of royalty, but had imagined herself to be of great importance, and had therefore dubbed herself with a certain level of highness-ness. Jenfen spent of most her days chiefly in the service of two young princes. And, while they were benevolent employers, mostly sweet, and even adorable at times, the employment occupied her time fully.

One bright, shiny, July day it so happened that Princess Jenfen found herself uncharacteristically unshackled from her employers. Without the princes’ patronage Jenfen was free to roam. But where would she go, what would she do? She considered the places she usually ventured with the princes, but a visit to them seemed a squander. Jenfen’s palate longed for adventure, excitement, and eclecticism. She longed for a visit the land of Unique–the place of thrifted treasures. A land that had all but been forgotten since taking up her position with the princes. And so, it was decided, and she set upon her journey.

It was early in the day when her foot crossed the threshold that separated the cracked, mostly barren black-top from the trove before her. To the right were pieces of furniture, resting in silence, sagging in memory of the lives they had held, hoping to find a the peace of fulfillment again. She passed them, sending only a cursory glance their way.

She forged ahead– linens, fun, colorful table linens seemed to appeal to her that day. Pausing briefly to obtain her bearings, she saw her destination in the northwest corner of the land, and stepped determinedly. Her feet faltered slightly at the sight of the shoe aisle, and she was tempted to follow her eyes southward to the dresses–but managed to stay true to the first mission.

Her hands nimbly shuffled through the linens, and the came across a cream colored square. It was simply cross-stitched, with yellow and brown flowers, arranged centrally in a square. This satisfied the style requirements of the princess and she browsed on. Between some woven scraps of hideousness she uncovered a delightfully cheerful, smallish, orange tablecloth that went remarkably well with the subtly floral cloth she had previously procured.

She looked about, here and there, but found nothing more to tempt her that morning as she made her way toward the borders of the land. When removing items from the land of Unique it was customary to present them to the guards, who ran a system of digits through a machine, before allowing you to pass.

She passed through the gateway leading to the guard-station, veering to the left upon seeing a sentinel with few citizens to inspect. Then, from out of nowhere, she heard a sound. It was soft, like the bell of a kitten, or the prance of a unicorn on a bed a dew laden grass. Slowing her pace she cocked her head, first to the left, then the right, and slowly turned around, as if having been tapped on the opposite shoulder by a sly friend.

She closed her eyes and listened intently. It was a voice–a soft, delicate, and beautiful voice. It was calling her name, no–singing her name, and it was coming from her right side. Her eyelids snapped open. She turned an abrupt 90 degrees, hoping to catch the voice, as if snagging a thief in the night, but saw no one. Not one single person was nearby, but as she stared through the tip of her nose she heard the voice again. Her eyes narrowed, then focused and she saw, dangling ever so delicately from a peg resting in holed particle board, a modest string of hot pink beads.

As if entranced she reached forward. She heard the voice again. It rose and fell in singsong fashion. A small sticker dangled from the piece. The number code read three point nine nine. 3.99. How could she resist?

She flopped the linens before the guards, resting the beads on top carefully. The beads glowed against the cream linen. They were not all the same size, although each bead was spaced apart by smaller beads of equal size. There was one larger bead placed in the center of the strand, with a graduated line of beads following to each side–29 larger beads in all.

The guards processed the digits, she took her items, and went about some other business until the princes returned. For nearly five days the beads sat, un-touched, but not unforgotten. And then Monday arrived.

Princess Jenfen, going about her morning routine, selected something bright and cheerful to combat any dark attitudes threatening to cloud her Monday. She layered bright pink tank under a bright yellow tank, and heard the voice again. The melody of the beads, singing to her, begging for the tag to be removed, begging to adorn her neck.

She placed them on, and continued about her morning routine, of consuming coffee on the main floor of the castle where her she sat for a self portrait and distributed it about the land of Instantaneous Gramming and published it in the Book of Faces . (And later noticed a typo in the caption–typos were the bane of her existence.)

First day with beads.
Enter Tuesday. The morning routine was the same, including the melodious beckoning of the beads. After dressing in a plain white tee, and grey cardigan, because the day had a chill in the air. Another self-portrait was called for and the beads began their refrain–again tomorrow–is that what they sang?

And so, on it went, and before long the beads had worked their magic. Sirens in an Oddsey of style, they swayed the princess, and before long she had vowed to wear them everyday for a month, and to wear them with different sets of attire each day.

At first, the Princes though she’d gone mad–and at times she wondered that as well. Ad nauseam she shared through the lands of social media, but was met with encouragement, or perhaps egged on, and was soon blinded to her own level of obsession. Or perhaps she chose to turn away, or perhaps she reveled in the madness, as a dog rolling in a new found stench.

And now I shall end this tale abruptly…

Because I have now rambled on for over 1000 words… and frankly, I’m bored. But, I shall conclude that we can assume she will finish this journey–she will complete the month–and then, perhaps, she will burn the beads.

The End?

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