Pick a Pepper

I have four sons, and one daughter.  She may be a minority, but she makes up for it with a mighty personality, full of vision, creativity, leadership, and goofiness.  I am so lucky.

This weekend, she found a leftover pepper on the counter.  She noticed it looked like a flower.  I shared an Edward Weston book from my stash with her, and she spent the morning doing this:

Like mother, like daughter:  there are at least 20 more pepper pix from her shoot.  We like to be prolific.  (By the way, she got the tulip image from a big stack of ripped magazine pages she’s saving.  – She’s not yet on Pinterest!).

When I watch her I see someone who gets an idea and just does it, in a somewhat fearless way.  I see someone who isn’t constrained yet by ideas of what things “should” be like.  I see someone who knows what she likes, responds, and engages it.

I am so grateful that my house is filled with pepper installations, tin-foil cities, stuffed animal schools and a million half-finished projects.  (A quarter of those are mine…)

Is anyone else inspired by their kids’ creativity?  Tell me about it!  I want to be inspired too. 🙂

Interesting People: Christin Sorensen of Crafty Goodness


She’s got a hot pink glamour tree in her front window, heavy metal playing in the background, and she’s cutting out Christmas stocking for newborns at the local hospital. Christin Sorensen is a sweetheart patron saint to upstart artists, and a eyes-on-the-prize entrepreneurial go getter.  Last March, she opened up Crafty Goodness in Lakewood, Ohio, and this weekend I dropped in to talk to her about her newest venture.

artist entrepreneurWe sat down in the back of the store to talk – and as it turns out, only I sat down.  Christin was on the move: finding scissors, stacking fabric, checking to see who was at the door. At first I thought this was because she was a little a little nervous or uncomfortable about being interviewed. As time went on, I realized this was not the case.  The woman simply doesn’t sit still.  Case in point, check out the chronology of events leading up to her store…

  • October 2009 – Participated in a small craft show  (her first.  ever.)
  • November 2009 – Launched “Crafty Goodness”, Christin’s show for edgy crafters
  • November 2010 – Hosted “Crafty Goodness II”
  • Early 2011 – Opened Crafty Goodness flagship store in Lakewood

lakewood ohio artlocal arts and craftslocal artWait a second…  She did one show, then she started her own show, then she opened her own shop.  It would take a different kind of woman years to take even one of those steps!

So what kind of person is Christin? 

“Apparently, one who moves very quickly” she says.  “I don’t like to wait around… I mean, yes, you need to plan.  You just have to be realistic and see if it is something you can feasibly do, and if it is, you have to go for it.  If you plan and plan and plan, I don’t know if things ever get done.  You just need to be a doer.  That’s the only way things happen.”

Before you get a picture of Christin that she’s a trail blazin’, taking no names kinda chick, I need to share something else I’ve noticed about her.  She really likes people.  Her store is filled with work from artists and crafters she’s met on her journey, and she acts like a mom and a teacher and a mentor to lots of the vendors in her store.  She has a determination to see local artists have a place to show their wares.  This extends to moms who are sewing at their dining room tables between meals, college kids who are just testing the waters of their creativity, and the occasional senior citizen who is a beast with polymer clay.

More than a Store

Since people are important to Christin, community obviously is too.  This gets to the heart of two of the other ventures she’s led as a shopkeeper:  Crafting for a Cause and See. Shop. Learn.

– Crafting for a Cause

Every month, Christin has collaborated with a local non-profit and local artists/ crafters/ regular-people-who-want-to-make-things to create items that are later donated or sold to benefit the non-profit.  While I was in the store, several women stopped by to pick up stacks of cut patterns that they would take home to sew as gifts for Metro Health newborns. Earlier in the year, Crafty Goodness did a benefit for a women’s shelter, women diagnosed with cancer and an animal rescue.  She’s come up with a way to contribute to her community, and to build community at the same time.  I love it!

– See. Shop. Learn.

The idea that Crafty Goodness would not only be a store, but a gallery and a working studio space has been woven into its concept since the beginning.  A variety of artists and makers come into the store and host “make and take” nights for groups of friends, girls scouts, birthday parties, etc.  This is a highlight, says Christin, especially when her patrons are kids.  “Some of the moms get alarmed (when kids are starting to paint their hands) but you have to let kids express themselves.  I love that they’re not shy about their ideas.” Besides, moms, Christin is there to clean up the mess!  Paint on!

Sage Advice

Before I left Crafty Goodness and headed home, I had to ask Christin what she would say to other dreamers, schemers and makers who would like to take their passion to the next level.  Her thoughts:

  1. “Do things as affordably as possible.  Even if the idea is perfect, don’t run out and get in over your head for it.  If you don’t have the capital, don’t do it right now.  You don’t need a lot of money to get started…  My store is eclectic.  I don’t have a lot of fancy fixtures, and I really try to keep it affordable.
  2. Once you realize “I can do this”, you need to know that it’s something you enjoy. You have to be passionate about it – you’re doing whatever the idea is because you want to have fun, branch out, not do the 9-5 – so make sure you are having fun.
  3. Then just do it.”
If you’d like to check out Crafty Goodness, and meet Christin yourself, she’s at 15621 Madison Avenue in Lakewood, Ohio every day except Sundays and Mondays, starting at noon.

The Artists Next Door

Bethy and Emily came over yesterday to show me their latest polymer clay wares, and to get some advise about pricing for a show this weekend.  As their next-door neighbor, I’m so excited to see this creative duo in action!  They’re outside the box high school sisters with chutzpah and lots of creative energy.  It’s my pleasure to introduce you to them!

polymer clay ideas

Who is that mustachioed stranger? (Oh, it's my neighbor, Bethy!)

polymer clay art

A mug full o' polymer clay fun

polymer clay action figures

Yes, they're Marvel fans...

young artists

The cheeseburger ring is a. ma. zing!!

high school artists

Emily and Bethy of Pandora's Heart

This dynamic duo has a new Etsy shop. Check out Pandora’s Heart to find out more of what these girls are up to.  – Enjoy!

Be Creative Today.


Creativity Quote by John Updike

photo: “Massachusetts – John Updike", 1962. ©Dennis Stock / Magnum.

“Any activity becomes creative when the doer cares about doing it right, or doing it better.”
John Updike

I am thinking about this today as I try to approach my (huge) to-do list with creativity and vision instead of dreariness and dread. So much of life is mundane; why shouldn’t I see these tasks as creative opportunities? We were made to be creative, I believe, so why not unleash it every day?

Look out, dishes. You are going to be extra shiny today!

And The Winner Is…

I’m so excited to announce the winner of the first ever Mish Mash Make blog giveaway! Yahoo!  Thanks to everyone who participated.  I like to give people things, and am looking forward to doing it again soon.

Our Super Top Secret Scientifically Calibrated Random Picking Machine

Here you can see my highly scientific method for choosing a winner.  I put the names on paper, cut them up, and my 6 year old, Miles, closed his eyes and pulled out a name.  One name only.  And that name is  (dah-dah-dahhhhh)…


Laura!  Laura is a Finnish blogger who writes about living a beautiful country life.  (Her blog can be translated with the click of a button – how cool is that?) Laura, I’m so glad you won! I hope that you really enjoy both of the books, and that they spur you on in your creative journey.

If you didn’t win, but are still interested in these books, click on the thumbnails to purchase a download.

This is Miles.  Today, he is dressed up as Super-Bat-Ninja-Man.  We promise that he closed his eyes while picking the name, and did not use his x-ray vision.  🙂

Fellow Creatives: How Do You Choose a Good Idea?

Juggling too many things

This is Not Chaos, *Lisa Telling Kattenbraker - available on Etsy

After learning about my frequent flirtations with Good Ideas, many readers responded that they, too, find themselves in creative overload. They are either overcommitted and overwhelmed, or just fruitlessly moving from one idea to the next.

  • To what extent is an abundance of good ideas paralyzing to you?
  • How do you weed through all the wonderful ideas, schemes, projects and plans that come your way?
  • Do you have people in your life (possibly of a different temperamental disposition) who help to constrain and focus you?  How does this work, and how do you respond?
  • Do you have priorities that guide what you do?  If so, what are they?

Short of starting a support group, let’s come together and share what works (and doesn’t work) for us as we strive to be makers and creators.

Join the Conversation!



*Lisa Telling Kattenbraker is a batik artist. She works on cotton fabric, using traditional methods and tools, combined with experimental approaches to create vibrant, contemporary american batik. She lives in Washington State with her artist husband, children, chickens, cat and puppy.

She says of her work, “The process of batik is, in many ways, a contrast to my daily life. It’s slow going, it’s meditative. I’m drawn to that process part of it…the journey.”

Steve Jobs Inspired

I read this cartoon today.  It’s true.  There was something about Steve Jobs, highlighted by his death, that speaks to the heart of our culture right now.  Certain symbolic qualities, thrown into high relief by the dismal state of our economy and the blah, blah, blahing of political maneuvering, seem to take on an even greater importance.

Rebellion.  Simplicity.  Art.  Competence.  Connectivity.  Precision. Dreams.

Comic Riffs: Quick sketches on deadline. (Cavna - TWP)

Tributes are pouring in from every corner of the blogosphere.  I’ve rounded up some of the art that is being generated, although I’m sure this is just the beginning – I”ll add to this post as I find more.  My favorite of this grouping is the graffiti.  Rebellious. Simple. Art.

A tribute to Steve Jobs

Graffiti by Taker, photo AZso

Tribute to Steve Jobs | We are orphan...

photo by Dominik Fusina, Flickr

Stephen Edward Graphics, Etsy

tribute to steve jobs

Picture: Mint Digital/PA, The Telegraph


Steve Jobs 2011 (black)

Illustration by Charis Tsevis

“Picasso had a saying. He said, ‘Good artists copy, great artists steal. And we have always been shameless about stealing great ideas and I think part of what made the Macintosh great was that the people working on it were musicians and poets and artists and zoologists and historians who also happened to be the best computer scientists in the world.”
— Steve Jobs in PBS’s “Triumph of the Nerds: The Rise of Accidental Empires” (1996)