Creative Practice

Creating in response to life

On Labor Day I had the wonderful experience of going to a show at Red Rocks. A few days before, a friend generously invited me to go with her and a couple other friends. Despite living in Colorado for over a decade and going to Red Rocks for various events, I had never been there for music. We were there to see Patty Griffin and Amos Lee. While the music was incredible, I was really struck by the stories Amos told to introduce some of his songs. One of my favorite takes on life is Neil Gaiman’s speech to students graduating from University of the Arts where he implored them to “make good art” in response to whatever life throws their way. I was introduced to this speech when I was going through some significant changes in life and I appreciate this video being brought to my attention.

As Amos was about to sing some of his songs he would say how it was written in response to a person or event in his life. One of the songs he said he wrote in his 1989 Nissan Sentra. Sometimes we think we need the perfect circumstances or environment for us to create but what if we just created in response to whatever is striking us at the moment and wherever we might be? Taking that moment to feel and respond is possibly the best self-care available to us.

So, this gives me an opportunity to shout out one of my life dreams. Being a former social worker and art teacher (two separate careers), I feel it’s really important to be able to express your feelings, and all forms of art are a great, healthy avenue for this. I have this dream to be a part of or create an organization that makes learning to express yourself through the arts accessible to all. Now that I’ve said it, I guess I better find a way to work towards it!

My portrait of Amos Lee.


Revisiting and Refining

How much of our lives is spent doing the same thing over and over? Wake up, eat breakfast, brush your teeth, yada yada. The same can be said of our creative practices. How many of us get in the routine or habit of doing things the same way – even after it no longer fits or works as well as it once did?

When I had a yarn store, I would churn out patterns. They were usually simple, beginner level and I would just give them away to sell yarn. Well, I don’t have a yarn store anymore, and it has been over three years since it has closed. I’m still knitting and making my own designs here and there but haven’t been publishing them or giving them away like I did when I had the store. It’s something I miss. For my birthday weekend, I threw together 4 of my old patterns and put them in an eBook. While doing that I came across patterns I never published and ones that I did that could use better pictures and therefore new samples. So, I guess I have my knitting work cut out for me this fall! Be on the lookout for some new patterns and revisions of the old ones!

Thanks as always for your support in my creative adventures!

Creative Practice

The Challenge of a Creative Practice

People talk about practices in the world of yoga. Some people have a morning practice – their daily yoga and meditative time. Some people choose to do it in the evening. It’s basically a habit you develop with specific or more general things you do every day.

Like a lot of you, I struggle with consistency. Sometimes I have bouts of it – like the school year I ate PB&J sandwiches every day without fail or when I committed to 12,000 steps per day for over a month. My friend Amanda Gold recently published a YouTube video about working towards goals with baby steps. You don’t have to tackle some big thing at once. Sometimes it takes effort to build a practice. Sometimes it takes a challenge that someone else presents to you.

My most recent form of practice is based on an idea my friend Mystic Marni suggested – create a tarot deck based on Eudes Picard. He was a real weirdo back in the high time of occultists in the early 1900s! He outlined what should be on each card in the deck and from the perspective of 2019, it’s real weird – ghosts and roots and corn on one of the cards. At this point, I’m through the pips of the wand suit and have started the penny pips. This challenge has given me the opportunity to make a little painting daily. I do it in the morning each day before breakfast when my life is quiet and meditative.

So, what lights your fire and what practices have you created in your life – either now or in the past?


The Beauty of Music

What inspires you? For me it’s new experiences, seeing things I haven’t seen before, hearing new ideas, and music. Whether it’s something you’ve heard a million times before that gives you the feels because you remember a time or place or person, or something new to you that just speaks right to your soul, music is an amazing part of life.

Yesterday I was able to have two live music experiences in one day! How lucky am I? The first was an intimate recording studio experience at Alice 105.9. To be in the small space where I was able to feel the acoustic tunes and hear stories about what inspired him made this musical experience with Tyler Hilton wonderful.

The second experience was in one of Denver’s classic event venues, The Oriental Theater. We got there late and it was packed so while I didn’t have a great view, I had a great experience. I was there with my boyfriend who agrees to try out whatever event I suggest whether it’s an artist visiting his favorite local restaurant for the 300th time (literally) or driving into the mountains to enjoy a festival celebrating a dead guy who has been on ice for years or checking out a favorite musician who is in town to play for the night. We both have fond memories of listening to Matt Nathanson at specific times in life and like his sense of humor at live shows so we were primed to have a good time. To add to that I was lucky enough to see a dear friend I haven’t seen in years.

One of my favorite musical things is hearing covers of well-known songs. Tyler Hilton treated us to a cover of a Rihanna song that’s also on his new album. Matt Nathanson sang several great covers but ended the show with one of my absolute favorites, “Romeo and Juliet”. One of my favorite versions of this song is by The Indigo Girls but Matt Nathanson did it so well!

So, whether it’s music or something else that gives you the feels and sparks your creativity, dive in today and create!

Creative Spaces

Making A Space For Your Creative Practice

We all have spaces in our homes and workplaces dedicated to certain activities – bedrooms, bathrooms, offices, kitchens, desks, etc. When we walk into these spaces our brains are cued as to what activities we’re supposed to do there. A dreamy bedroom makes us want to relax. A kitchen with pots and pans, appliances, and spices all ready for us to cook inspires us to make delicious dishes. A bathroom with a beautiful tub and soaps encourages us to find time to soak.

Living in a one-bedroom apartment, I don’t have a spare room for my creative activities but I have turned a part of my living space into a creative studio. It’s a space dedicated to painting and drawing. There is storage space for some of my supplies as well as a table and easel for working spaces. There’s a large window for natural light and other lighting for when I create in the evening or early morning. I try to keep it cleaned up so that I can always just settle in and create. I also make sure supplies that I use often are readily available.

Where is the space dedicated to your creative activities? What does it look like? How does it make you feel? If you thought of a dream space where you would create your masterpieces, does your creative space line up with that? If not, what could be changed to make your space more inspiring? Sometimes it is a change as small as placing all your paintbrushes or guitar picks in a cup or mug.

If you decide to post a pic of your creative space on Instagram, please tag me! @createmoreoften



Making Friends on the Plane

A week or so prior to my trip to visit my parents for Thanksgiving, my friend Beth was winding a ball of yarn by hand at our Tuesday morning stitching group. I had been considering what to take for an activity on the he plane and remembered how somebody told me that they wound yarn on the bus as a meditative activity. So I packed an unwound skein of yarn and a knitting pattern for said yarn.

Winding the yarn by hand did prove pretty calming and helped me forget how claustrophobic the seating was on my flight. It also sparked a conversation with my neighbor for the plane ride. She is an amazing writer man named Kathrine. She moved from Germany to Manhattan in the 1960s when she was 18 and eventually moved to the Philly area after living in New York for almost 10 years. We talked about knitting, our families, houseplants, our men friends, baking and bunch of other things. The flight went by so quick with all of our conversation, and I walked away with a pie crust recipe!

My mom was so excited about the recipe that she took my journal and made a copy. I had told her that the recipe was a German recipe and she thought that her copier/scanner/printer translated it into German when she mistakenly copied my knitting pattern rather than the recipe!

My new friend Kathrine had told me how unimpressed she was with American pie crusts and that she preferred the pie crusts from her northern German childhood. If you’ve ever tried out a German recipe you’d see that it requires weighing the ingredients rather than using cups and teaspoons and such. Kathrine had been looking for an American version of this German recipe for years and eventually came across one that was easy to use and remember. She told me about different tips for the pie, like brushing egg over the crust to keep the filling from making the crust soggy and that Trader Joe’s frozen wild blueberries make a great filling.

My mom and I talked about the differences between pie crusts she’s made and this version as we were making the pies. Kathrine had given me the German name for the crust, and while the pies were baking I did some research. Apparently it’s more of a shortbread crust that can also be used for cookies and makes the pie more of a tart.

Here’s Kathrine’s recipe for Murbeteig (or Mellow Dough in English):

  • 1 stick of unsalted butter
  • 1 cup of white sugar
  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1 egg (reserve a little bit of egg white if you’d like to keep the crust from getting soggy)

Knead together all ingredients with your hands. Roll the dough flat with a rolling pin – or if you don’t have one use a wine bottle. Place the dough in the bottom of two pie pans or place half in the bottom of one and use the other half for the top. If you’d like the crust to not be soggy, brush it with the reserved egg white.

The filling is up to you. If you decide to use frozen fruit, allow it to thaw a bit and mix about 1 1/2 teaspoons of cornstarch to thicken the juice. You could also pour some maple syrup over the fruit if it needs some sweetening. My mom prefers to slice up several types of apples for a more full flavor. She also coats the apples with a little sugar, flour and cinnamon. If you don’t cover the fruit with half of the pie crust, you could combine some brown sugar, flour and butter for a crumb topping. It’s all up to you!

Bake the pie at 350F for up to 45 minutes depending on the thickness of the crust. Just keep an eye on it from about 30 minutes on. When the fruit or topping starts browning, it should be done.

I hope your pies are as delicious as ours!

Keep on creating!