January 28, 2011

Creative Process Interview with Kathie Lapcevic

I hope you are ready for more inspiration and ideas to keep you working on your creative projects. In case you missed any of the previous posts in this series, you can find them here. Today we get to hear from Kathie Lapcevic, the author of Two Frog Home and the creator of It's Only a Choice. On her blog Kathie shares a lot about the small joys of living simply and her various creative pursuits. I'm really glad that she could stop in here and share her thoughts since her writing frequently aims to inspire others and help them to reach for their dreams. I hope you'll enjoy reading about Kathie's creative process and her exciting projects. Please feel free to share your thoughts on this interview and on creating in the comments!

Me
First, can you tell us a little bit more about yourself? 
I live in northwest Montana with my soul-mate, Jeff.  As a creative professional, I’m a writer and a photographer.  I write mainly about two of my favorite creative endeavors: food and gardening.  The mere fact that I can work on creating recipes and get paid for it never ceases to amaze me.  As a creative hobbyist, I focus on quilting, sewing, and knitting though I’ve been known to dabble in other crafts as I’m inspired.
  


Tell us a little bit about your work space. I use a spare bedroom as my studio/office.  It’s a small room about 100 square feet, but perfect for my needs and I’m incredibly grateful to have this room of my own. 

What goes on in there?  Mostly I write and sew in here.  I have two tables one permanently houses my cutting board and the other keeps the sewing machine.  I also have a small desk, perfect for my laptop.

What do you like about it/why does it work well?  I enjoy that I can leave projects half done strewn about the tables without worrying about clearing a table for dinner or company.  I know just how lucky having this dedicated space makes me and I never take it for granted.   

What would you change about it if you could?  I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I’d like a larger space, but really I have no real complaints


What stalls or inhibits your creative process? I have to honestly say here, that I’m my biggest saboteur.  When I don’t stick to a routine or when I don’t get the rest and rejuvenation I need; I get stuck.  I personally function best when I adhere to a routine, when I neglect that for too long, I find it extremely difficult to get back into my creative work.  I also find that I have to work twice as hard, because I haven’t practiced my skills and my mind can’t settle into the work that must be done.  Including some kind of rest and/or fun in my routine is as important as sticking to my work, because without that rest my brain just gets fried and nothing good happens from a place of burn out.  

Morning Routine
  
Can you tell us about a project or something you have made that you really love or find really exciting? I wrote a cookbook, Gift it From Scratch, that will be published in 2011 by Willow Creek Press.  The writing of the cookbook itself is an accomplishment of which I am extremely proud.  The fact that I followed through on that manuscript and faced rejection (lots and lots of rejection) before receiving and signing the book contract is something that I will never forget – it was vulnerable, heart-breaking, exhilarating, and uplifting sometimes all at the same time.

Cloudy Work Day

Do you ever have doubts about your creations or creative process? How do you keep them away? 
Of course I have doubts every now and then; I don’t see how a person couldn’t.  I don’t think that those doubts have to be crippling, however.  I just think that they’re a normal part of being a creative human being.  I don’t know that I keep them away so much as accept them when they come, move through those feelings, and get back to work.  The one good thing about working creatively as a form of self-employment is that you get feedback in the form of money and/or comments.  I’ve learned that I need to use that feedback to validate myself and my work.  I’ve also learned that rejections are not personal and I need to step back and look to those rejections for ways to improve not only my craft but also how I promote myself and my abilities. 

Do you have any words of wisdom or advice for people who want to create more or people who are trying to earn a living from creating? Keep at it, whatever it is, don’t give up especially when you most feel like it.  I think creativity has to be nurtured every single day, not only when the inspiration strikes.  Some days this might mean that you come up with absolutely nothing of product value, but you will have improved your skills and that is never a bad thing.

Once you decide that you want to make an income from your creative endeavors, whether as a little something on the side or as a sole-income, your attitude must shift from that of a hobby to a business.  This is extremely important because a business is something that must be attended to with regular hours and always looking forward to the future.  A business must be attended to whether or not inspiration strikes; deadlines have to be met whether or not you’re feeling it today.  Take classes to not only improve your creative skills but also your business skills.

One final word of advice, find creative people to help and support you.  Everyone needs a mentor, find someone in your creative field who’s willing to answer questions and help you navigate the waters.  Life is so much easier when you’re not re-inventing the wheel with each new project.

January 27, 2011

Making Stock

veggiesforbroth


In case you are wondering, this is not a photo of my compost bin. Unfortunately, I must admit, that I do not currently have a place to compost my food scraps. I left my worms with my friend Jen in Maine and have yet to replace them. This summer I hope to have a good composting system in place, but, until then, I don't want  my food scraps to totally go to waste. Instead of tossing them I make veggie stock.

Making veggie stock is a good way to use up the scraps from preparing other meals and to make soups and other dishes even better. I never buy the sodium rich stock that you find at the store and if I don't have any stock on hand when I am making soup, then I usually just use water to make the broth.* Veggie stock is so easy to make and doesn't require hours of cooking like meat stocks do.

I'll go over the basic ideas that I use before I put the steps into a recipe: I make stock when I have enough ingredients since I prefer to use scraps rather than buying vegetables to make into stock. Of course you don't want to use spoiled vegetables or anything that you wouldn't want to eat, but it is fine to use peels from vegetables like carrots and potatoes. When I am making meals, I try to remember to save the scraps and peels. I keep them in a container in the fridge until I have enough to make a stock with. You can also make a stock while you are preparing vegetables for the soup by using the scraps, peels and trimmings as you go.

Certain vegetables are always good to include in stocks. Onions, carrots, celery, garlic, leeks (their trimmings are the perfect thing to save for stock making), and herbs. The skin and seeds from squash can be used in a stock which will be part of a squash soup. You can also add cooked beans and lentils that you have leftover from other meals. I recently added apple peels to a stock since I had a bunch of them. This made the stock a little bit sweet so I might use it for a soup or a curry where sweetness is part of the flavor. Rinds from cheese like parmesan can be used to add a great flavor to stocks.

All this discussion of peels reminds me that it is best to use organic produce when making stock. Peels of many vegetables may be sprayed with pesticides which you don't want to add to your food. Other things you don't want to add are very strong flavored veggies or herbs, unless you want that flavor in your soup. Beets will turn a stock red, which would be perfect for beet soup, but not ideal for other recipes. It took me a while to start making stock regularly because in my mind it would be complicated and easy to ruin. Once I started making it, I discovered it is simply a good way to reuse what you've got to make something from scratch.

Vegetable Stock 
Much of what I have learned about stock making comes from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Deborah Madison, but this recipe is the process that I use regularly.

Obviously you can use stock for soups. You can also use it for liquid in other recipes such as curries, or risottos. When it comes to making the stock don't worry too much about the ingredients. Use what you have and experiment until you find what works best for you.

What you need: 
A tablespoon of olive oil
An onion or two, diced (you could also use scallions or leeks if you have those instead)
Several cups of veggie scraps, peels and peicesCooked beans or lentils if you have them
Any other scraps, like cheese rinds or seeds that you want to add
Herbs, such as parsley (I use the stems which I don't use in other recipes), bay leaves, thyme or whatever is appropriate for a particular soup Water
Salt 

In a large pot, heat the oil over high heat. Add the onion and let cook for a few minutes. Then add the rest of the vegetables, scraps and herbs. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 10 minutes. Ideally you want the vegetables to be brightly colored, even caramelized a bit here and there. This will add more flavor to the stock. Once the vegetables are deeply colored, add enough water to cover them well. For every quart of water you pour in, add a teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil and then let simmer for about 30 minutes. Strain out the vegetables and store in a jar in the fridge or freezer, or use right away.

*In case you were wondering, as I was, what the difference between stock and broth is, it seems that stock is made from vegetables (and bones if you like that sort of thing) and then used as the broth in a soup. Broth can also include pieces of vegetables and meat, but it is okay to use the two terms interchangeably.

January 25, 2011

The Dinner Game

green lentils


I have a very practical little game that I like to play -- perhaps you've played it before? I'll call it the dinner game. I play it when I am at work sometimes or busy with something else and wondering what I will make for dinner. It does not involve a cookbook (though it could, I suppose), nor does it involve a trip to the store. Instead, I mentally take stock of what I have in my kitchen and puzzle out how to put it all together into a meal. Often I'll start with one simple idea and then realize other possibilities or ingredients I can incorporate to make something even better.

I am starting to imagine this as an actual game that the food obsessed could play while relaxing after cooking and eating. It has been played on cooking competition shows like Top Chef when the contestants are limited to making something with ingredients only from a vending machine, or only ingredients that carnivorous dinosaurs would eat. But in my kitchen the ingredients aren't usually too obscure, so I guess I shouldn't feel quite so self satisfied. Still, it's fun to go from lentils, potatoes, carrots, goat cheese, tomatoes to here's dinner.

I came up with this gardener's pie with just such a process. If you're wondering, gardener's pie is the all veggie version of shepherd's pie: a hearty stew blanketed in flavorful mashed potatoes. Perfect for the cold winter weather that seems to be all around. I didn't invent the dish, my mom makes a different version of gardener's pie, but it was fun to realize that all the ingredients I had would come together into this warm and well filled pot.

gardeners-pie


It isn't the most photogenic dish, but I've included a glimpse of the final product. It is mostly a one pot meal, except that the potatoes get cooked separately and then mashed. I also added some roasted garlic, but you can make it more simply, if you want. My recipe is a good guideline for the gardener's pie and you can vary it, using whatever vegetables you have in your refrigerator or pantry.


Gardener's Pie
As I mentioned above, you can substitute any of your favorite vegetables or whatever you have available for the ones that I used. You could add some sweet potatoes to the potato topping and substitute already cooked beans for the lentils. Although I think this recipe is great as it is, this dish is great for using what you already have in your kitchen. 
 
olive oil
1 cup yellow onion, diced
1 large carrot, diced
4 cups canned diced tomatoes
1 cup french green lentils
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsely
I cup broccoli, chopped
I cup cauliflower, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

For the potatoes:
1 1/2 pounds potatoes, cut into smaller pieces for boiling
4 cloves garlic
1/4 cup milk
salt and pepper to taste
3-4 tablespoons chevre (or as much or as little as you want to add to the potatoes)

1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary

In a 3 1/2 quart dutch oven, heat about a tablespoon of olive oil. Add the diced onion and cook for a few minutes over medium heat. Add the carrot and parsley and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is just beginning to brown. Add the tomatoes, lentils and salt. Let it all simmer for 30 minutes or until the lentils are tender, adding more water if necessary to cook the lentils. When the lentils are cooked, stir in the broccoli and cauliflower. Add salt and pepper if needed.

While the lentils are cooking, preheat the oven to 350'. On a baking sheet or small baking dish, place the garlic cloves in their skins. Bake until the garlic is soft (about 20 minutes). Meanwhile, place the potatoes in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes can be easily pierced with a fork. Drain the potatoes. Squeeze the soft garlic out of its skin and mash it into the potatoes. Add the milk, a little at at time (using more if necessary) and mix and mash the milk and potatoes together until the potatoes are soft and creamy. They do not have to be entirely smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste

Once the lentils are cooked and all the vegetables have been mixed in, add the chevre to the potatoes, a small spoonful at a time. Do not incorporate it entirely, it is nice to find little pockets of the cheese in the potatoes. Spread the potatoes evenly on top of the veggie and lentil mix and sprinkle the rosemary on top. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving to avoid burning your mouth.


Serves 4-6

January 21, 2011

Creative Process Interview with Michele Heidel

Today I bring you Michele Heidel of Fennel Studio. Michele makes a variety of fun and useful items from fabric and yarn. She uses the wonderful term soft goods to describe her pouches, pillows and more. No matter what you like to make, I think you will be inspired by her thoughts on creating her work. I love seeing how other people arrange their spaces and organize their materials and Michele has included a couple of photos of her studio. I am so glad to have the opportunity to share with you the wisdom of creative people like Michele.
 
First, just tell me a bit about yourself and your creative pursuits.
I live and work from my home in Rochester. I moved here from Chicago with my significant other, Steve, who teaches philosophy at the community college here. We have two friendly and energetic Labs who insist on going for walks during snowstorms.

I have a BA and MA in Fiber Arts from Eastern Illinois University, and while I was a student there I worked at the local art center. I loved the challenges of museum work, and it seemed like a more reliable career choice, so I went through the Arts Administration program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. And for over a decade I worked for several great arts organizations, but I didn’t really do much with my fiber arts during that time.

Then a couple years ago my day job didn’t seem as satisfying anymore. I enjoyed what I did, but I felt like something was missing. I started working with yarn and fabric in my spare time and realized that I was way overdue for tapping into my creative side. When the time was right, I left my museum job to focus on my creative work full-time.

In my non-studio time, I love to bake (and of course eat), read quirky books, pretend to enjoy the treadmills at the gym, and catch up on all the TV and movies I miss when I’m wedged deep in my studio. I also love photography and try to get out with my vintage film cameras when I can.

Tell us a little bit about your work space What do you like about it/why does it work well?
What would you change about it if you could?

We have a spare bedroom in our house that went from a storage area to a studio in one weekend. The walls were covered in awful dark brown paneling, which repainted in light green that the paint sample called “Fennel.” So when I thought about what to name my business, I went with the literal interpretation: Fennel Studio.

I love that it’s a space removed from the rest of the house. If I’m up against a deadline and it looks like a tornado hit, I can escape to another room for a break. And I’m used to leaving the house to go to work, and having a specific place I can call “the office” helps get me motivated.

If I could change anything, I’d want a large sink/washbasin area for hand dyeing, but that would involve some Harry Potter stuff on our plumbing. More realistically, I’d replace the beige carpet with something a little more fun yet durable. And maybe some shelving with doors to keep dust out and yarn in.
What motivates you to create?
I love having a goal. Sometimes it’s a show or a custom order to get me motivated. But really after working and creating every day, it becomes a habit – if I don’t get to my studio at some point in the day, I feel weird. And as I work on one thing, a little part of my brain is puzzling on other possibilities. I guess that means I have a hard time living in the now.

What stalls or inhibits your creative process?
Self-doubt! I second guess myself all the time, especially if I’ve been looking at work by other artists or craftspeople whose work I really admire. Sometimes instead of being inspired, I think that I’ll never be as talented or successful as they are. I have to remind myself that they had to start somewhere too, and probably had the same doubt I’m having now. Then I close my web browser and get back to work.

What or who helps to support your creative work?
Without Steve, I wouldn’t have had the confidence or ability to launch Fennel Studio. When I left my previous job I was also leaving behind a steady paycheck, health insurance, etc., and his support and trust was crucial. My friends have also been very supportive. They give me great feedback on my items and are always encouraging. They also are some of my best customers.

Can you tell me about a project or something you have made that you really love or find really exciting? I’m excited to work more with creating my own hand-dyed fabric and yarn. I did hand dyeing in college, and more recently for a few custom orders, and I remember just how much I love it. When we lived in Japan several years ago I learned shibori dyeing and I’m really excited to dive back to it and incorporate that into my new work.
Can you talk about some things that you have learned from mistakes or failures?
I have spent so much time making things that I thought were absolutely great but didn’t sell at all. So if I’m introducing a new product I keep it to a limited edition at first and pay attention to people’s reactions.

I also learned to stick to a budget. I can go overboard on supplies, thinking “Oh, I’ll use this for something someday!” I have a huge bin devoted to the someday somethings. Now I plan my projects like I would follow a recipe: if I have it, I’ll use it, and if I need something for the project, I’ll put that on my shopping list. No impulse buys anymore.

Tell me a little bit about your creative process – where do ideas come from? When do
you usually do your work? What about the final product?
Usually my ideas come from necessity. I need a small clutch for quick errands. Done! I need something to keep my neck and hands warm. Done! And when I’ve got the function down, I work on making the form as beautiful and artful as I can. Sometimes I get hit by ideas in the weirdest places. Like driving to Target, or unloading the dishwasher. But I’m a believer in that mental trick of thinking hard about a problem, then stopping, and the answer will come to you later.

Do you have any words of wisdom or advice for people who want to create more or people who are trying to earn a living from creating?My advice for anyone trying to earn a living from creating: remember that you need to be paid for your time and effort or you’re just spinning your wheels. I learned this after my first year of not pricing my work appropriately, and I still have a long way to go. A lot of customers and craftspeople, myself included, seem to forget the time it takes to create a unique item by hand, and they forget the intrinsic value (ethical and economic) that handmade local products have. Low prices not only devalue our work and the work of others, but they also prevent us from being confident in our work and making a living wage. We’re worth it!

January 19, 2011

New Wool Bags

I just added some wool messenger style bags to my shop. I've been wanting to make some out of wool for a while now. They are great for colder, wetter weather -- cozy to use and wear and the wool provides and extra layer to protect whatever is inside the bag from rain or snow. The first one is called Water and the second is called Earth.


I love the way lines of stitching look.  I guess that is one of the reasons that I sew, because I can combine two dimensional and three dimensional art.


I am currently taking a market for makers course and I am working on improving my business as well as this blog. I have some new design ideas for this site which I am looking forward to working on. I was also wondering if you could help me with some brainstorming? Would you take a quick look at my shop and tell me three adjectives that come to mind when you look at my work?  Thanks!

January 17, 2011

Coconut Ginger Quinoa

coconut ginger quinoa

The idea for this recipe came to me while I was riding on a train. I suppose it was the sort of idea that happens when you are in between being awake and falling asleep. Or when you've been staring out the window at the blurring scenery and your mind wanders, drifts and is just catching random thoughts in its sleepy net. It's not life changing or anything particularly important, but for some reason, as the train rushed along, coconut ginger quinoa came to me.

Do you think I'm crazy yet? Perhaps insane for thinking of an off beat grain when I should have been day dreaming about chocolate cake or cream puffs. Perhaps crazier for sharing with you where this small recipe idea came to me. If I had dreamed of yogurt covered parsnips would I be sharing it here? Maybe if I could make them as simply flavorful and healthful as this quinoa.

I do love quinoa, especially for breakfast with pecans, sliced apples, and plain yogurt with a drizzle of maple syrup. I often make it instead of brown rice since it cooks faster and it is so nutritious. You probably know that quinoa is a complete protein and its a welcome change to have protein in the form of a grain. The coconut milk adds flavor and healthy fats, making this a great dish to pair with vegetables for a satisfying, healthy meal.

quinoa

Coconut Ginger Quinoa
I love red quinoa, but haven't been able to find it at my local coop. I don't think there is big difference in flavor from one color quinoa to another so use whatever kind you like. This quinoa goes well with roasted vegetables, a stir fry, or a curry. You can adjust the amount of ginger to your taste, this recipe is pretty gingery. If you have left over coconut milk, you could make this other recipe for dessert!

1 cup quinoa 
1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup coconut milk
1 cup water

Pour the quinoa into a fine mesh sieve and run it under cold water, shaking the grains around briefly to make sure they are all rinsed. This helps to remove the bitter flavor. Add all of the ingredients to a saucepan over high heat. Cover until it begins to boil. Reduce the heat to low so that it simmers continuously for about 15 minutes. You can tell that it is done cooking when all of the water is absorbed and the grains are much larger in size. The quinoa will be moist, but if there is too much moisture when the grains are cooked, remove the lid and let out the steam. Serve hot. Makes about 4 cups cooked.

January 14, 2011

Creative Process Interview with Megan Gordon

To start off this creative interview series please welcome writer and baker Megan Gordon. I love the way she seems to effortlessly combine her thoughts on life and food in her blog, A Sweet Spoonful. If you haven't seen her blog, you should definitely check out the beautifully written snapshots of her life, gorgeous photos and, of course, mouth watering recipes. Even though I only know Megan through her blog, I feel much sympathetic joy for her new baking endeavor, Marge. I am always inspired by people who follow their dreams and make them happen and I'm thrilled that Megan was able to share her thoughts on her creative process with us.

First, can you tell me a little bit more about yourself?
Well, I’ve always been a writer. Even from a pretty young age I kept a journal and would write mundane lists of what I did throughout the day. Then in high school and college, I started to cultivate that into writing short stories and poetry. I decided to go into teaching so I could hang out with kids and get them excited about reading and writing— I soon learned that so much of teaching is about management and discipline and that really wasn’t my thing. So I started freelance writing and baking: one really challenged me to research, network, and push myself while the other was purely calming and really nourishes me in a way that nothing else does. And now—that’s where I am. I write for other folks and I write for myself on my blog, A Sweet Spoonful. There I take photographs, too, which I love and they allow me to really create a sense of place and a story. And then I bake, and just started my own baking business, Marge!

What stalls or inhibits your creative process?
Honestly having others around. I really need to be alone. I hate having people watch or try and help out in the kitchen. While I want to be, I’m not one of those happy-go-lucky, let’s-all-cook-together kind of gals. I need my space. I need to make a little bit of a mess and do everything in my own
time. The same with writing and especially with photography. I absolutely have to be
alone. One little distraction kind of ruins the headspace that I eventually have to achieve.

What or who helps to support your creative work?
Supportive friends and family. Don’t know what I’d do without someone to lean on or folks that are so genuinely happy with each accomplishment along the way. On a smaller note, exercise and getting off my booty is huge. When you work from home it’s so easy to just sink into your desk chair, but I find a quick walk around the block with the dog or forcing myself to go to yoga makes all the difference in the world. You gotta move. Last, really good food that makes me smile. And tea. And my dogs. Simple things that keep you going throughout the day.

Can you tell me about a project or something you have made that you really love or find really exciting? Well, I’m going to go with my blog here. I started A Sweet Spoonful without giving much thought to it at all—just kind of bored on a rainy night and always knew I liked to write about food. I was thinking it’d be more restaurant-focused, almost like reviews and discussions on eating out in the Bay Area. I could’ve never guessed what it’s turned in to: a place for me to be honest and manage to weave personal narrative in with food writing and photography in a way I find really meaningful and exciting. Also an amazing and unexpected way for me to meet other local bloggers and develop very
real friendships with many of them. Every time I hit “publish” for a blog post, I know I’ve created a little slice of something special. And I love that.

Tell me a little bit about your creative process – where do ideas come from? When do you usually do your work? How does the process compare to the final product (if there is one)? 
Good question! Inspiration comes from so many different places: a quote, a movie, and experience I have, an overheard conversation at the gym. And then I have an ongoing list of recipes I’m dying to try and I can’t quite explain how I weave those two things together. I guess an example for a post I’m working on right now: I have a great quote I just stumbled across in my reading about ways to feel
really grounded. And I’ve been wanting to make this rich soup with root vegetables for quite some time now. Those two pieces will fit together nicely thematically—that will be a post. As far as the photography, I have a lot of props: tea towels, plates, vintage silverware and I actually lay things out on a table while I’m cooking and give quite a bit of thought to which pieces will best tell the story of the dish. Sounds a little cheesy, but it’s important. If we were all just snapping a quick photo of the soup in the pot, it wouldn’t be all that compelling, would it? That being said, I don’t like to over-style my shots—I do like to capture food in a realistic way…not too far off from how I’m actually sitting down and enjoying it.

Do you have any words of wisdom or advice for people who want to create more or people who are trying to earn a living from creating? 
Oh man. I guess I’d say ‘What do you have to lose?” My advice honestly is not to think too far into the future about it. Finances are obviously a very real concern and I know that tends to hold people back from really creating their own art and perusing what they really want to do. But people are so creative in finding extra time and ways to still make that happen. But don’t think ahead one year and try to figure out the logistics of it all. If you do that, you may never go for it because oftentimes your art/passion defies logic. For the baking business I’ve just started, I’m honestly just going week by week and trying not to figure out where I’ll need to live to make the driving back and forth work, how I’ll charge people’s credit cards, if I should do a vegan pie, if, if, how, how. I’m just putting one foot in front of the other. That’s all you can do, really.

January 12, 2011

Announcing a New Series of Interviews with Creative Women

Cutting for Valentine Pouches

Last fall, as I dove deeper and deeper in the making things and sewing for Seedling Design, I learned a lot about what it was like to work at home for myself and be creating full time. For all of the successes and triumphs, there were (and still are) just as many mistakes and failures. I have found that when working alone is it easy to imagine that I am the only one who struggles to focus and create a routine. I'll pretend that I hear you chiming in and pointing out that you sometimes have the same problems. I know I am not alone in this and I know that there are plenty of resources and ideas out there for how to improve and forgive yourself as you work (a few that I've seen recently here, here, and here).

As I worked away at my sewing, writing, and photography, I wondered what it was like for others working in their creative spaces. Although it is easy to be connected to so many creative people through the internet, a lot of what we see is the finished product. We rarely witness the mistakes and messy details that are so much a part of the creative process. It's not that I want you to see me wrestling with my sewing machine when it isn't working properly, angrily ripping out a seam that I botched, or tossing out a loaf of bread that is more like a rock. But creativity is a process that is as challenging as it is rewarding.

I wanted to know that I wasn't alone in in the meanderings of creativity. I wondered what it was like in other people's creative spaces. So, I decided to go straight to the source. Starting this week and continuing for several weeks, I'll be posting an interview with a creative woman every Friday. I am very honored and excited that so many writers, crafters, cooks, and bloggers were willing to share their thoughts with me and with all of you. I hope you will find as much inspiration as I have from their answers to my questions. I also hope that each interview will be an opportunity for a dialogue and conversation (in the comments section) where we can share our own thoughts and experiences on creating.

January 6, 2011

Returning to a New Year.

Albany Amtrak at Night

Have you ever had one of those dreams where you have to be somewhere important and you are continually side tracked, distracted, and delayed from reaching the place you need to get to?  During our two weeks of traveling and visiting as many friends and family members as we could fit in each day, I occasionally thought of these dreams. While sleeping, these visions are confusing, disorienting and frustrating but when I am awake, I realize that not taking the exact route or schedule that you thought you would is just part of life.

On the day we had originally planned to reach Ray's parent's house in New Jersey, we found ourselves in Portland enjoying a delicious dinner with dear friends. When we thought we were flying back to Minnesota, we instead boarded a train to Chicago, then another train, and got home more than a day later (although train travel is slow, it is roomier and more relaxed than any other long distance motorized transport I have experienced). I'm not always the greatest at going with it when plans change, but sometimes better things come than what I had expected.

The travel and vacation gave me lots of time to read and also to think about goals and plans for 2011. Clearly making plans and setting goals doesn't mean I will end up exactly where I think I will, but I do like the end of one year and the beginning of another as a chance to reflect and find a fresh start going forward. Of course I have at least 20 things I want to do better or do more of, but I've written down a few goals that I hope to really focus on. In the next few days I'll be getting organized, started on new things, and back to my sewing machine. I'll see you next week!

*This photo was taken by Ray at a stopover in Albany, NY. Thanks for letting me post it here, dear!