Monday, October 1, 2012

Inspire Me Monday

I'm a firm believer that inspiration is all around us each and every day.  At the same time, I realize its often difficult to *notice* all of the beauty, joy, creativity and inspiration that exists in our daily rounds.  How many of us get caught up in the minutiae, the "to-do lists" and distractions that seem to fill up our every waking hour?   We can become overwhelmed by these things easily...unless we pause to recognize there is inspiration to be found everywhere.  We just have to remember to look for it.

So as a reminder to myself to seek out that which inspires (and hopefully you too!), I'm participating in Create With Joy's inspirational blog party.

I'm Inspired By Food

I know its probably a wee bit early in the season, but this week, I've been inspired by pumpkin pie!  So much so that, I caved in and bought a Sara Lee frozen pie and plan to top it off with some whipped topping for an easy, comfort-inducing dessert this week.

I know, I know....frozen pie is not the same as whipping up a freshly baked one, but sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do.

I'm Inspired By Color

The days are definitely getting shorter now...but one thing for sure is the spectacular color palette of autumn is only just beginning to be revealed.   There's something warm and reassuring about the rustic and golden tones which dazzle us on bright October days.

{Abstract Art By Christian Hetzel}

I'm Inspired By Owls

Mie is a whimsical artist from South Africa whose blog is a lot of fun to read.  She also has been crafting these adorable, cozy owls that I can't stop smiling about.

Owls are such awesome, autumnal creatures, don't you think?

I'm Inspired By Heroes

I may be late to the party, as I've only recently discovered the tv show Heroes via Netflix.  It's such a fascinating show layered with supernatural twists, and yet, there is something very common about the "heroes" who in spite of their special powers, struggle with life issues just like the rest of us.  In a way, its their flaws that make the characters more compelling.

I also really enjoy the theme of fate that is carried out through Heroes.  I tend to be of the school of thought that believes nothing ever happens to us by coincidence.  Every event, every person we encounter has something to teach us.

What's inspiring you today?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Creatrix Of The Moment: Allison, Paper Party In The House!

In this installment of Creatrix of the Moment, allow me to introduce you to Allison: outdoor addict, thrifting aficionado, paper craft queen, dog-mom, party consultant, loving wife, and entrepreneur extraordinaire!

Allison resides in Tennessee, along with her hubby and adorable fur-baby, Bailey. When she isn't doing outreach work at the Center for Civic Engagement or spending time with her family enjoying the great outdoors, she runs a wonderfully whimsical home and party decor shop on etsy called Hoopdaloop. Allison was so very kind to participate in the Creatrix series and I invite you to read along to learn more about this savvy, fun-loving, inspiring young woman!

Everyone loves a good party! If you could be asked to consult and provide the decor for any specific theme party right now, what would the theme be and why?

I would definitely go for a wedding and reception outdoors and then under a tent for the reception with a shabby chic, rustic vibe! I mostly feature custom paper garlands in my shop, but I would start with those and dream big (but affordable)! For my own wedding, I had a similar feel and spent many hours searching thrift stores for the perfect details and now that I'm older, I have even more ideas!

Do you usually decorate your home for various holidays? What are some of your favorite personal seasonal decorations?

Yes! Last Christmas was the first Christmas I shared with my husband and I spent a lot of time thrifting to find vintage wooden ornaments for the tree. I absolutely loved how it turned out! (Getting the idea that I dig thrift stores?!)

What is the difference between bunting and traditional paper garlands?

Well when people think of bunting, they probably think of fabric, but paper garlands are obviously made of paper. I love bunting, but I also love the versatility of paper garlands. For instance, I was consulting with a bride this past week on her wedding decor (that I am doing!) and was giving her a lot of ideas on how to decorate with her paper garlands. I loved the idea of taking large sticks or branches (think thin branches towards the ends of a tree limb) and putting them in a vase of jar and then draping paper garland over the limbs. You can't really do that with traditional bunting. This is also a great tactic for decorating Christmas trees!

Where do you find inspirations for the colors and patterns you use in your designs?

I have always been naturally drawn to colors. I think my brain unconsciously absorbs color palettes wherever I am whether it be shopping for clothes or taking a hike. I definitely love wild and crazy color combinations and natural hues. I spend a lot of time outdoors so it is definitely inspiring!

What do you love most about your work at the Outreach Center? What do you love most about creating items in your party decor shop?

I love working with kids and teaching them that they have a voice in their schools, communities, and world at large. For my shop, I love working with customers! I do lots of custom orders and my customers always have such great ideas and excited to make their event whether it be a family get together or a wedding special and unique.

Please share your philosophy or thoughts on your particular "creative process". What one thing about creativity/being creative in general holds true for you?

People often limit creativity to "art" or "crafts" and may not think themselves particularly artistically inclined. But creativity is used and can and should be used in so many ways! A great meal, a fun date, an imaginary game with your kids, the way you arrange your furniture or even just your pillows, making something instead of buying it, going on a walk and noticing the shapes of the trees... so many ways. I think creativity is something we should all intentionally foster in our lives and others. For me, I have an Etsy shop and a blog which are obvious outward expressions of my creativity, but I also love to look at the shapes of leaves, cook a good meal, or create crazy imaginary worlds with kids.

If you were to describe your personality in terms of a color, what color would you be and why?

Can I cheat and describe myself as one of my multicolor garlands? This means I choose a mixture of colors bright neons and neutrals and primaries and on and on. I don't think I am consistently just one color. Some days I'm chill and relaxed like a blue, other days I'm a hot pink, ready to get some stuff done! and so on and so on. I will say though that my favorite color is blue! Pretty much any shade!

Tell us what you enjoy doing when you're not working.

Being outside! I grew up on a farm out in the country and spent most days outside playing when I wasn't in school. Even when it rained, I would head outside to do a rain dance :) Out in the country, out in nature... that's where my heart is. I like being outside best when my husband and pup are outside. I also love spending time with my family and friends, reading, and learning new things.

What two or three traits or abilities do you feel are crucial for any business owner or entrepreneur?

Dedication- because it's a lot of work and not always easy. Ingenuity- a lot of times you have to do the best with what you have and know to succeed. Love- you really have to have a passion and love for what you are doing. If you don't, you will probably burn out and even if you don't it won't be worth it.

Not only is Allison a most gracious interviewee, she also is a generous soul. She has kindly offered a coupon for 15% off the total purchase for any items in her store for the readers of this blog. Simply enter the coupon code mizcreatixrox to apply for your discount at her store, Hoopdaloop.

Thank you to Allison, for taking the time to share and for being an inspiring example of what a being a Creatrix is all about!

Be sure to also check out Allison's blog, A Girl and Her Scout as well as her Facebook and Pinterest pages.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Musing Monday: Audio Books, I Hardly Knew Ye...

Miz B over at Should Be Reading hosts a fun weekly blog event revolving around the wonderful world of books and reading. I've been making a serious effort to get back on the book-reading wagon over the past few months, and so far, I'm kinda proud of my progress. an attempt to draw out the dusty, dormant bibliophile within, I thought it would be cool to start participating in these memes.

Today's topic:

Do you listen to audiobooks? Why, or why not?

For the life of me, I just cannot get into books on tape. I have tried on several occasions in the past, but to no avail. The first time I ventured into the realm of audio books, I borrowed one of the Patricia Cornwell novels in the Kay Scarpetta series. I thought it was an excellent selection in which to break my audio book cherry-y'know....murder-mystery, strong, smart female detective heroine--all the stuff that makes for an intense, gripping read.

Yeah, so I totally fell asleep within the first half hour of listening.

I even gave it another shot the next day. Same results. I thought maybe it was the novel itself...but I'd read other Cornwell books the old fashioned way and hadn't found myself bored by any means. But I didn't want to give up so quickly. I wondered if perhaps it was the *way* in which I was taking in the audiobook. Maybe lying on my bed while the book played on my headphone set was just asking for trouble.

Next time I would be wiser.

I tried an Amy Tan (The Kitchen God's Wife) novel for my second book-on-tape experiment. And this time, I put the tape on my stereo while I was cleaning my house. I figured, I hate house cleaning, but maybe by having an audio book playing while I was participating in my least favorite chores, I would be distracted enough so I wouldn't realize I was cleaning in the first place. I imagined time flying by and becoming completely engrossed in the story, and then hours later, I would reach literary nirvana AND have a sparkling clean house! I really believed I was on to something here.

The problem with that program was two-fold. Firstly, whenever I needed to move into a different room of the house, I had to really crank up the stereo or else strain to hear the audio book (my stereo was in the living room). Secondly, I learned that I am not all that successful at doing two fairly concentrated activities at the same time. Either my mind would wander while scrubbing the bathroom and I'd miss out on a portion of the novel, or I'd slow down my cleaning process to follow along with the story and end up taking twice as long to load the dishwasher. Also, vacuuming is not conducive to listening to an audiobook.

I even tried to listen to audiobooks while at the gym. Unfortunately, I found that this made my workouts go slower. Or at least that's how it felt to me. When I listen to music during a workout, I feel pumped up, energized and before I know it, I've done a half hour on the elliptical machine. Listening to a book-on-tape made me feel like I was moving in slow motion...and five minutes would go by like five HOURS!

I wouldn't even dare attempt to put a book on tape/CD while driving. Just see my track record above. Yeah, could be dangerous.

So, that's where I stand on audiobooks. Not a fan, never was and doubtful that I ever will be. They just don't mesh well with me. Throughout my life, I've never cared for being read aloud to...back in grammar school, "story time" left me feeling a little restless. Maybe the book-on-tape concept is lost on me due to some residual effect from my school days. I much rather prefer to take a book into my own hands and soak up every beautiful written word on the page in front of me.

What's your take on audiobooks? Do they work for you?

{Image Via: Bookworm}

Halloween Extravaganza

I want to extend heartfelt thanks to all those who have been visiting from Vanessa's Halloween Blog Party. I appreciate the kind comments and am so loving discovering all of your blogs as well! I am astounded at the diverse, unique and extraordinary creations I'm all simply knock my striped witchy socks off! In fact, I am so impressed with what I've seen at all of your fun, festive blog parties that I created a special Pinterest board to highlight the amazing things I've come across though Fanciful Twist blog hop. Come stop by to get a glimpse at all the Halloween happenings!

If I was able to grab the blog link left behind at Vanessa's original part post, I pulled a favorite photo or image from the participants blog. Below is a tiny taste of the Pinterest Fanciful Twist Party Board I've created...but it really doesn't do justice to the immense, incredible Halloween blog extravaganza that took place. So many amazing things to see...from handcrafted give-away items, to whimsical holiday creations; delicious and diabolical art to scrumptious feasts; haunting, silly stories to spooky, funky Halloween decor. Visit the board and follow will find inspiration and an abundance of Halloween gloriousness!

Special thanks are in order for Vanessa for putting the blog party together...that woman is beyond magical! She personifies Creatrix to the nth degree! Vanessa, you are an inspiration more than you can ever know.


Saturday, October 22, 2011

Summoning The Creatrix

The time is drawing near. Soon, the Eve in which the magic and mystery of secrets, the spirits, beginnings, and endings will be upon us. While Samhain is a holiday of remembrance and honoring those who have passed on, it also a time for celebration...for feasting, fun, games, tricks and yes...even a few treats! Come join the festivities; all are welcome.

Now before we start the actual celebration; you have to pass a little "initiation". Oh, don't's no biggie. It's just something all the new kids have to do...think of it as a way to show you believe in the magic of the season. That doesn't sound so scary, right? Right! Come on then; take my hand and I will lead you to your initiation destination!

I'm sure you're wondering what this is all about and where we are going. You should probably wear something warm as it gets quite chilly at night this late in the autumn season around here. Oh I know it isn't quite nighttime yet....but you'll spending a little while at your initiation site and nightfall will arrive before you know it. Let's start walking, shall we? That wind is starting to pick up a bit, do you feel it? I've brought along some blankets and other items in my tote bag, so don't worry. Isn't it fascinating how at dusk, your eyes can play tricks on you--especially when the wind blows and the near-bare branches of the trees cast such creepy shadows?! For instance, just now it looks almost as though there is a long, bony arm reaching out beside us and motioning with a decrepit pointy finger! How bizarre!

We're almost there now. Just ahead...see that barren land beyond the path at the end of the street? Why yes, that is in fact the cemetery. Didn't I mention we were going there? Oh, I didn't, did I? That's was supposed to be a surprise. Surprise! stop here. It's time for the initiation rite to begin. Yeah, I know...hanging around at night in a cemetery isn't really your gig, but trust me, this is tradition. And tradition is very important at the Creatrix Samhain Soiree. Help me spread the big fleecy blanket on the ground...right over there, in front of that tombstone.

Ok, now lie down upon the grave. Fold your arms across your chest just as though you were lying in a coffin. It's alright, there's nothing to be frightened about. What's that sound, you wonder? must be an owl! Yes, I'm sure that's what it is. I brought something that will help...let me rummage around in my tote bag...ah yes. Here we go. I'm going to place a candle right on top of the tombstone and you'll be able to see better. How's that? Better? See, *there* is the owl...he's just hanging out in the tree overhead. It's as though he's watching over us. That's a good omen. I assure you, it is!

All you have to do is lie quietly right where you are. This is the part of the initiation that might seem a little spooky, but as I said, it's tradition. You just need to remain silent and listen very carefully. What are you listening for? You'll know when you hear me. While you are listening, I am going to recite a little incantation...
When two or more are gathered on All Hallow's Eve,
A deed must be done for those who believe.
The dead have been silent for one whole year,
Now they must speak and the chosen one will hear.
Within the midnight hour you must walk with the dead,
Their graves of stone will mark their beds.
Carry a beacon to show you have come,
Call to them, "I am the chosen one."
Listen carefully for what you shall hear,
For it tells you your fortune for one full year.
Light one candle and leave it on a stone,
When the flame goes out, return to your home.
After the dead have spoken on All Hallows Eve,
They all shall visit your bed and your dreams.
Shhh....I hear something! Do you? I think the spirits are about to reveal your fortune for the next year! This is it...the moment we've been waiting for! What will the new year bring, I wonder?

The air really feels chilly now...oh wow! I have goosebumps all over my skin. The ghost woman hovering over us looks as though she's ready to speak now. So let's pay close attention to what she has to say.

"Do not fear, mere mortals be...
I've come to share good news, you see.
The year ahead will bring joy and mirth,
You will revel in the joys of the earth.
Nature's inspirations shall help you to see
The world around you offers so much beauty.
And when the days seem dark and stale,
Remember this night, this moment, if you will.
For you have all you need inside of yourself;
your gifts and the stories you have to tell--
can always be summoned and used to invigorate
and give you a myriad of reasons to...

Such good news! There was really nothing to be afraid of...but sometimes we need to be startled a little in order to remember that there is much that we hold back from expressing on our Creatrix Journey. So as this Witches New Year approaches, I thought it would be a good time to remind us all that we need to think about what it is we wish to do with our creative prowess. We all have the ability to create, transform and inspire. But we also have a tendency to make excuses, and refrain from fully exploring our creative potential.

And now, for those of us who were a little spooked by the ritual, let's take a moment to calm our nerves...I brought something that might help.

Ok, so maybe libations aren't everyone's thing. Either way, I invite you to have a yummy beverage of your choice, think about your creative process and the things that sometimes scare you about it. What are you most frightened to express? What ways might you be able to deal with those fears and demons that can inhibit the creative process?

And when you're ready to join in the reveling and get into the spirit of the season, come on over to Vanessa's Fanciful Twist 2011 Halloween will surely find inspiration there! Be sure to scroll through the comments underneath her party post so you can stop by all of the other parties being held by the Creatrices who are taking part in the celebration!

{Samhain ritual components and incantation via: The Wiccan Book of Rites and Rituals, by Sister Moon}

Monday, October 17, 2011

Creatrix Of The Moment: Petunkalunka - Joyful Jewellery Designer

I recently had the exquisite pleasure of interviewing the merry, multifaceted, magnificent Petunkalunka! A bit of a Renaissance Woman, Petunkalunka is a clever jewellery designer who currently is residing in Japan working as an English teacher. Her wit and charm are practically intoxicating! Check out what she has to say about work, creativity, music, jewellery design, and more--

I love that you often seem to have a "story" behind the creations of your jewelry pieces. For example, with the Picasso Autumn Cube items, you had blogged about memories linked with music played in your childhood home inspiring your design. Do you find that certain themes (musical, cultural, artistic, etc) or memories impact your creations? How would you describe the way your creative process is inspired?

"My family watched a lot of old musicals and movies when I was growing up—The King and I, The Glenn Miller Story, White Christmas, Singin' In the Rain—and I think those bright Technicolor and Vistavision tones stuck with me, not to mention the high fashion of the time. The women always seemed so effortlessly elegant. That's exactly what I want from my jewelry. Effortless elegance. In my imagination I am a brown Rosemary Clooney, singing "Love, You Didn't Do Right By Me" while surrounded by svelte men in turtlenecks.

My inspiration comes from many places. I create something because I want it to match one of my outfits, or because a friend says "I want to buy something like blah blah blah," and I think, I could make that. Having even a pretend customer in mind gives me a little more focus. A more recent piece is the direct result of looking through a spread in Vogue and seeing bright color-blocking on page after glossy page. Four years ago while watching Apocalypto (twice) I made a bracelet, necklace, and earrings set that was clearly influenced by the intricate Mayan jewelry and all the rich turquoise. It took a long time to finish, though. I kept pausing, gripping the pliers in one hand and the unfinished necklace in the other, my heart pounding, yelling at the screen "Run, Jaguar Paw! Run!" That second half is intense."

How do you decide what to "name" your pieces?

"It's usually the first thing that comes to mind, which means it's based on whatever I was thinking about when I started making the item. If not the first, the one I think would appeal most to the consumer. Despite the fun of hollering "Yeti balls! I'm a'wearin' yeti balls!" to myself in the comfort of my apartment, I think "Yeti Eyes Yarn and Gemstone Necklace" comes closer to the playful sophistication for which I aim."

If you could only have one album/CD playing in the background while you were designing your next jewelry piece, what would it be and why?

Yipes. One? If I'm designing something I would wear all day every day then it'd have to be Donald Ryan's The Sweetest Sounds. Smooth, relatable jazz standards with an occasional calypso feel; my kind of stuff. It's music I can sing with, but it isn't a distraction because I know it so well. Yes, the pianist also my father, so it brings back good memories of listening to him play while I ran around at home. If you think I'm biased unfairly, I challenge you to check him out at (the other Ryan is my younger brother). He has played at Carnegie Hall and he's in the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame, you doubting Thomases.

If I'm going to make something based a piece of of current trends, then I'll listen to Janelle Monae's Archandroid with "Tightrope" dance breaks. That lady is just friggin' cool, and both of her albums are so carefully thought out it's as though I'm listening to an opera in R&B clothes."

Tell us how you became involved with the Japanese Exchange and Teaching program.

"It was my third year in college when I realized that I didn't want to be a teacher, after all. I was double majoring in elementary education and French, the former for practicality and my love for children, the latter because my college didn't have a music major and I loved the professor. While I found many of my education classes challenging and inspiring, I realized that the life of a teacher was not for me. Yet there I was in the middle of my college career with half of two unrelated degrees and little time for do-overs. In the midst of my hohmuguh-I've-wasted-half-my-higher-education crisis I applied for a study abroad scholarship in Angers, Vallée de la Loire, France and got it.

I spent the first half of my senior year in Angers, going through culture shock without realizing it and learning to think in another language. Despite many of my frustrations as a foreigner, I loved it. It was such a different feel from living in one of the youngest states in America. I learned to be a wine, bread, and cheese snob. I learned to like fish. Gradually I stopped getting a headache from listening to French all day in class. I got my landlady's adorable granddaughter to like me. Right as I was really warming up to the place it was time for me to leave.

Not only did I learn that fluency in another language is impossible without spending time among native speakers, but I also gained a strong wanderlust. I spent the rest of my senior year stressing about how to work with children without being a teacher, and how to travel the world without going broke or only being a tourist. On my older sister's suggestion I made an appointment with the career counselor, who asked me some questions and gave me a couple of aptitude tests. She suggested the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program as a way to both satisfy my ken for travel and teach without staying in the Midwest. A year later I was leaving for Japan. Long story, but as Bugs Bunny would say, "You aaaaasked for it!" Then he would throw a pie in your face."

What do you like most about living in Japan right now? Least?

"I clearly have a hard time choosing anything. More than the food, the proximity to other countries, the history, the socialized health care, the trains, the scenery, the friends I've made and people I've met, my current favorite thing is how accomplished living abroad makes me feel. I've learned traditional Japanese calligraphy, play taiko, earned a black belt in aikido, and can have half a conversation in Japanese. Moreover, I've learned self-sufficiency and the value of taking my self lightly. Operating in a different culture and language is humbling on a daily basis. The language barrier is always frustrating (I'm a college graduate but a functioning illiterate!). Even after four years I constantly make mistakes. It's my own fault, though. I don't study much on my own. On the upside, the Japanese people who've known me since I arrived have commented on how much I've improved. Plus, I no longer feel like I'm misrepresenting all of America if I have to ask the waiter to read a menu to me.

I hate winter. That is why I will not stay another year in this job, is because of winter. Winter is the worst, all day, all the time. There is no insulation in the buildings and no central heating in schools. They have smelly kerosene heaters that they don't drag out until about December 1st, so I teach with stiff fingers and three layers of tights. I do not exaggerate. Winter. Sucks. Yeti balls."

Would you define yourself as a goal-setter? What do you believe about setting goals in general?

"Oh boy, am I a goal-setter, and how! I'm just not a goal finisher. I'm very easily distracted and often set goals that aren't feasible in the time I've set. My father once advised me to set a timer for 20 minutes, and to stick to one task until the timer goes off. Then I can decided whether or not to move on to something else. That works. Otherwise my general philosophy is to set small goals that lead to one larger, but to let go of some goals when circumstances change. Example A: I'm preparing to move halfway across the world again in ten months. I had thought that I'd stay in my hometown for a few months while looking for a job in France, but after my parents ran into some health problems I decided to put living in France on the back burner. I know I'll get there someday, but I'll wait until I've spent some quality time in the Midwest.

Example B: I was determined to make five billion necklaces from a complicated original design and be famous for my incredible taste and style. I would be jeweler to the stars!!! Before I had finished even one of the original design I saw that my multi-strand necklaces were gaining more attention than anything else in my shop. I like making them and they're less labor intensive than the original design concept. So that's my new focus. I'll do those original designs when I have time, or in short sections like on the Elegant Breast Cancer Awareness necklace."

What do you wish more people knew or understood about what's involved in creating handmade goods?

"The time it takes! I've blogged about why I set my prices "so high." For every hour I spend making a necklace you can bet I've spent another hour trying something that didn't work. I've been messing with a skein of yarn for the last two weeks, trying to figure out how to string some heavy agate on it without bending the necklace out of shape. Then there's the time it takes to get a good photo or ten, editing the image file, tallying up the cost of materials and labor, etcetera. Just posting an item on Etsy takes me at least 15 minutes; usually closer to 30. How do I get visitors to want my stuff without sounding like an ignorant tween or a douchebag? It takes thought and revision."

What is one jewelry creation you are currently the most proud of?

Always the last piece I sold. I feel like Sally Field. "You like me! You really like me!"

And it's no surprise why so many people like Petunkalunka...who wouldn't? She has style, she embraces life and laughter, and she encompasses what it means to be a Joyful Creatrix.

Please stop by Pentunkalunka's shop on Etsy and keep up with her latest adventures in Japan on her blog, Handmade Something Or The Other. Trust me, you'll be glad you did.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Be Your Own Work of Art

“What strikes me is the fact that in our society, art has become something which is related only to objects and not to individuals, or to life. That art is something which is specialized or which is done by experts who are artists. But couldn’t everyone’s life become a work of art? Why should the lamp or the house be an art object, but not our life?”

- Michel Foucault