End of Summer Entertainment

This is the last week before my kids go back to school. Usually, I’d be out shopping for school clothes and taking them to the beach since it’s over 100  degrees here everyday and a bit oppressive to do much else. This year I’ve been forced to occupy myself with more sedentary things since breaking my ankle. I’m not particularly proud to say that I’ve allowed my kids alot more TV and video game time than I usually do, but I decided to just relax for this week and reinstitute the usual rules come Monday. So while they busy, I am taking the time to reinvigorate my creative juices and do research for my newest set of designs. Broken ankle or not, I am truly ready to get back to routine, and work is sounding like an attractive reprieve at the moment.

I’ve watched a few interesting documentaries on Netflix – and I am NOT a documentary kind of person. Usually I prefer a James Bond film or a Jennifer Lopez romantic comedy to dry documentary material. But there were two I found especially entertaining and inspiring, and therefore worthy of sharing.

The first was Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf’s. Bergdorf’s is known for it’s window displays in New York, and there is plenty of inspiring imagery in this documentary related to those, as well as interviews with the artists who create them. Other highlights include designers discussing the impact being carried in Bergdorf’s has had on their businesses, and the history of the store and its owners. Although I can’t afford to shop in a place like Bergdorf’s, I do truly appreciate any company that tries to give up and coming artists and designers a chance with all the big players.

The other series I enjoyed is called Chef’s Table, which was another gem I was surprised to find, considering I’m not particularly a foodie. This series follows chefs who create art with their food and presentation. It traces their inspirations and influences, showing you their background, often with beautiful footage of their home country. They talk about all these things, so perhaps this is why I enjoyed it – you are listening to the person who does the creating instead of nonstop narration. And regardless of which industry you’re in, people who are passionate about what they do are also very inspiring.

When I’m not knitting, crocheting, and watching the above-mentioned TV, I’ve been reading. My favorite of all my recent library checkouts was a book about the Hungarian Gold Train called Love and Treasure by Ayelet Waldman. I have been researching Hungary for a new collection of designs I’m working on, and I realized how little I know about the country, despite the fact that one of my closest friends is Hungarian. I was interested in learning about more than just Transylvania and all the vampire mythology, although I do enjoy a good vampire movie as much as the next person. This book falls into the category of historical fiction, but according to the rest of my research, it accurately depicts the events and circumstances related to the Hungarian Gold Train. It is sad (although given what happened, how could it not be?!), but it was a well-written book I couldn’t put down once I started reading.

Although my kids return to school on Monday and I plan to get off the couch as much as possible, I do still have a few weeks left of limited mobility. If you have inspiring books or shows to recommend, I am open to and appreciative of suggestions! And I hope you enjoy my recommendations.

My Week in Links

My kids are ready to hit the surf!

My kids are ready to hit the surf!

I’ve been going through a burnout of sorts. All creative people deal with block at some point or another. I’ve found that mine usually happens when I’m especially stressed or worried about something, which has been the case for a few months now. Apparently, it has caught up to me. The good thing is I’ve found that it usually does pass, and there are things to do to help manage it and reinvigorate.

My first solution is usually to take a break, which I did the other day. I took my kids to the beach and had a lovely day with them and my family away from family. There is something about watching and listening to the waves roll in that always clears my head. My absolute favorite thing about living in LA is being near both the ocean and the mountains. I was so happy to see that my favorite beach (Zuma in Malibu) got great grades! This site has a long list of cities, so if you need a break, perhaps you will find something equally helpful on this site!

This is a great list that I think applies very well to maintaining creativity. My usual second solution to feeling burned out is to give myself some time to read or draw, visit museums, or otherwise soak in some new inspiration and reestablish routines. I relate to most of what is on this list, and would recommend these ideas to any creative person.

And of course, there’s no better way to relieve stress than to just keep doing what you love, which in my case is to knit and crochet. I finished a bag as a gift for a friend (photos to come soon), and I realized I’ve never learned how to line a knitted item with fabric. I’ll be referring back to this Craftsy blog post as soon as I’ve had a chance to go pick out some fabric.

Have a lovely weekend friends!

Countdown to Summer

I’m in the countdown for summer. My kids are finishing up their last few weeks of school, and I’m trying not to lose my mind before that first day of summer vacation. I’m not sure why this happens every year, but we always end up cramming too much into the very end. To be honest, I could do with a few less school activities and ALOT less burnout. But for whatever reason, every year ends with a full calendar, and I find myself “storing up” things to look forward to once summer hits.

Relaxing on a beach is always top of the list, of course (why live in LA if you don’t like the ocean?!), but summer also gives me time to weed out the house and hopefully have a little fun changing things up. I bought this book a few weeks ago, started reading it, and decided to give up until I have enough free time to actually enjoy it and think about how the projects included would apply to our living space. Kristin is a fun writer, and even though I didn’t make it far into her book yet, I could feel her joy in what she does. Her blog has the same upbeat vibe, and I’m counting down the days until I can revive my own creative spirit again.

My Closet In Sketches

As you all know, I’m a big proponent of drawing. I’m not a talented illustrator by any means, so I try to cut myself slack and focus on sketching design ideas as a record to refer to at a later date. I very rarely show people my drawings, as I don’t feel they’re very good, and most of the time, they’re not “finished”. So you can imagine how much admiration (and yes, a little jealousy) I have for someone who can whip out finished drawings at such a rate they can run an entire blog around them. Of course, I don’t draw every day, and the advice I received throughout art school was to do just that. I’m too busy knitting and crocheting every day, and am not currently in possession of enough free time to add another daily learning habit. But I hope people get as much enjoyment out of looking at the results of my knit and crochet habits as I get out of looking at someone else’s daily sketching. Enjoy!

For the Sake of Passion

Some of us city folk have very romantic ideas about what it would be like to retire to some remote location in Maine to take care of a farm and animals and slow our pace. For me, this scenario usually looks most attractive on weeks where I’m overwhelmed, realize I’ve overbooked myself, and find my life a little too full of obligations that aren’t particularly bringing me joy. Knitters and crocheters are especially prone to these fantasies because of our appreciation for the animals who provide our fiber.

However, there are those folks who take the next step and actually make that jump, and as they say, there’s no teacher like experience. Cinnamon Girl of Maine gives in-depth descriptions of her life and challenges on the farm. She cringes at being called “inspiring”, which I’ve carefully NOT done here, and makes the point that this lifestyle is a choice to make when you’re truly passionate for it, as you will need the passion when the romance wears off. And for those of us who really are city people at heart, the point to have a passion still rings true. Pursue yours, whatever it is, and when you need an escape into someone else’s reality, a great blog helps!

Grace Coddington

Over the holidays, I read Grace Coddington’s memoirs. In case you are not familiar with who she is, allow me to give you what you need to know for the purposes of this post: she is Vogue’s creative director, which basically means that much of the imagery you see in Vogue is directly related to her. In her book, she recounts her growing up years in Wales and how she entered the world of fashion, as well as her working relationship with Anna Wintour. I read the book out of curiosity, but I found myself relating to her much more than I expected. She talks in great detail about how she grew up feeling extremely shy, and how, even today, she still struggles to deal with crowds or having to speak in front of people. She says there is nowhere that makes her happier than being at home with her cats and she has no desire to be running to glittery parties and fashion events.

My daughter struggles a great deal with being shy and doesn’t like to be in front of people. Both myself and my husband have always been “backstage people” too. In fact, this seems to be a common trait with lots of creative people. It is unfortunate that most of the time, kids are constantly being told they need to overcome their shyness, and that society seems to expect everyone to want the spotlight. The truth is, everyone is born with their own personality, and while we do have  to work on our weaknesses so that we can succeed, we shouldn’t ever be trying to change ourselves into something we’re not. It is OK to be shy, and in my opinion, a good thing to learn to be happy without needing to be in the spotlight.

For this reason, I try very hard to respect my daughter’s feelings. I don’t push her to be the star of school plays or choir, etc., and I try to be careful to not even imply that she should want the solo parts when she’s just simply happier not being on a stage at all. The funny thing is, I’ve never heard a complaint from her about having to stand in front of her class to deliver a book report or similar things, so I am confident that her shy personality is not to her detriment. It is too bad that in general, society seems to condemn quieter personalities, because the truth is, some of us shy people are way stronger than anyone thinks.

I admire Grace Coddington very much for being at the top of her game, but especially for not trying to change herself into someone else while she was getting there. What a great message for all artists and creative people out there! Celebrate your creativity, put in the hard work, and you just never know where you’ll end up – even if you’re painfully shy!

Making Time

The writer of this blog calls it minimalism. I call it making more time for the things you truly love to do. Regardless of label, I seem to be feeling a theme this week in terms of wanting routine, organization and simplification. I thought this site was so soothing to browse, plus I love the ideas in the 30-day challenge and couldn’t resist sharing. The wardrobe and styling ideas are also indepth and worth the read, especially considering that us crafty types spend so much time making special pieces for ourselves. If you’re feeling a bit stressed and overwhelmed, perhaps it will speak to you as it did to me.


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