Life Talk

Creative Distractions

I saw this title as a blog prompt, and thought it a great idea. There are times when the writing just isn’t working, for whatever reason, or my brain just needs a break. So what to do that still keeps the creative juices flowing, but is completely different from writing? Here are a few of my favorite non-writing creative endeavors.

  • Quilting. This is my biggest non-writerly hobby right now. I started back when I was a teenager, hand-sewing a baby quilt that eventually went to my best friend’s first baby. I made a few more quilts, but didn’t really get into it until a few years ago, when another friend whom I’d given a quilt to for her first baby called me up and asked me if I could teach her to quilt. Nothing like teaching somebody else how to do something to get thoroughly involved in it yourself! I’ve taken it up in earnest since, and I love it. I’m not at all artistic, and quilting gives me a great outlet to test different forms of creativity. I’ve even started creating my own patterns, which don’t always turn out so well, but are so much more satisfying than following somebody else’s. Right now I’m hand-quilting one quilt for a friend’s baby, planning another (my friends seriously need to stop having babies so close to each other; I can’t keep up), and hoping to get a quilt done for my little Grace, who moved to a “big girl” bed this winter, and who has been sleeping under a drab brown comforter until I can get her sunshine quilt made. Then, of course, Carl has been after me to make the quilt I’ve been promising him for years for our bed … I even have all the fabric, just haven’t had a chance to cut it out yet!
The first quilt I ever made – all pieced by hand!

Grace’s baby quilt. I loved adding ribbons to the blocks for a touch of whimsy!

The most recent quilt I completed, made for a friend with fabric from Africa!

  • Cooking. This is another fairly recent discovery. A love for cooking runs in my dad’s family, and apparently I inherited that gene, because I have been taking great joy in the last couple of years in finding and trying new recipes, both for baked goods and meals. My absolute favorite thing in the whole world to make is homemade bread. It always reminds me of my grandmother, who made the best bread in the world, and my mother, who never really enjoyed cooking but always made sure to have homemade bread on hand for my sister and me (we, ungrateful children, always wished we could have Wonder Bread like the other kids – until we tasted it and realized it had neither flavor nor texture, and was somewhat like eating air). Plus, there is something both soothing and stimulating about kneading bread dough. I need to get a batch whipped up today, as a matter of fact!
Oatmeal Cinnamon Chip Cookies, our favorite treat

Two loaves of french bread that melded into one during baking – they didn’t look very pretty, but the taste was fine!

One of our favorite easy-but-special meals – pasta carbonara, homemade focaccia, and roasted asparagus. Delicious, especially with a glass of white wine!

  • Scrapbooking. I don’t do this much anymore, but I would like eventually to finish both Joy and Grace’s first year scrapbooks, and maybe even eventually get around to putting wedding photos in a nice scrapbook. I think once the girls are older and I don’t have to worry so much about them getting into my supplies this might become more fun again!
  • Music. This is something else that runs through my dad’s family. Unfortunately, though I inherited the love for it, I did not inherit the knack (that gene went to my sister instead, who also got the cooking gene – talk about unfair!). I can read music, and play a little on the piano and the guitar, and I took voice lessons for three years, but I’d never be considered an expert. It’s still something fun I like to work at when I get the chance, though. I keep promising myself that someday I’ll take piano lessons again, maybe actually memorize the bass clef properly this time around.
  • Photography. I’m a complete amateur at this, but I do so enjoy taking pictures, and not just of my littles! My digital SLR is a constant companion on all our family hikes and outings, and I love getting unusual shots that most people wouldn’t consider. So fun!
So there you have it – I joke that I am a “Jack (Jill?) of all trades, master of none,” because I have so many hobbies, and only dabble in most of them. Writing is my true passion, but I’m glad I have so many other ways to express myself!
What are some of your favorite creative distractions? Do you quilt? Have you ever become better in something because someone asked you to teach them how to do it? Do you have a sister who is disgustingly good at everything she does (love you, Beth!)? Do I have too many hobbies?

Also – do you prefer to read blogs that always post on specific days, or ones that just go up whenever the blogger feels the urge? I’m trying to decide if I should set myself a blogging schedule, or keep following my own sweet whims.

8 thoughts on “Creative Distractions”

  1. I made several quilts but haven't done any in a long time.My favorite non-writing creative activity is gardening. There's nothing like getting dirt under your fingernails for dealing with stress (at least, for me).

  2. Wow, you do have a lot of interesting hobbies. You're really starting to inspire me. I don't have a preference for scheduled blogs. I think it's whatever you prefer. If you have the discipline, go for it.

  3. The first thing I thought of was playing the piano. I think it helps because it's creative but it uses completely different parts of the brain from writing. (I'm singing along and often dancing to the background music pretty much constantly. Not really to take a break from anything!) I'm also known to color psychedelic pictures. But I also love to garden and I sometimes get on cooking binges, but I don't think of this as alternate outlets of creativity for me so much. Before kids I got into sewing– the piecing together of things, mostly, not so much decorative sewing. I liked designing my own patterns based on pieces of other garments/items/whatever. But that has REALLY slipped to the wayside post-kids. The sewing machine and all that equipment is just NOT something I like dragging out when they're around!

  4. I quilt, but most of my quilts have been massive full or queen size quilts that were gifts for people. I'm so impressed you do it by hand–it takes me hours and hours and hours and hours and HOURS to put a quilt together when using my sewing machine! I hand-sewed the borders on a few quilts using the fabric on the back of the quilt as the border (I rolled the back fabric up to look like a border and used a hidden stitch to keep it in place), and it took more hours just to do that.I like baking. I totally know what you mean about kneading bread–I love the smell and feel of kneading bread dough.I've never become a musical expert, either, but I've dabbled in a couple of instruments and singing. ;)

  5. Elle – Thank you! I agree, we all need more than one passion to balance our life out.Connie – I have a tendency to kill whatever I grow, but of late I've been feeling a pull toward gardening. Hopefully in the next year or so we'll live in a place where I can give it a shot, and see if I can manage to not-kill my plants this time around.Kirsten – thanks for commenting! I'm happy to think I might be able to inspire someone :-)Rockinlibrarian – My 3yo looked at me the other morning and said "Mamma, please stop singing that song." I hadn't even realized I was singing, but apparently my children prefer not to eat breakfast accompanied by whatever tune is currently in Mamma's head. Strange! I can sew clothing, but it never looks the way I want it, and frustrating usually abounds during the process, so I've given it up in favor of quilting these days.Laura – I've mostly given up piecing by hand by now, because you're right, it does take a ridiculously long amount of time. I still like to hand-quilt baby quilts, because I can do it in a reasonable amount of time, but when I do the queen-size for our bed, I'm using my new machine quilting foot!

  6. Laura – the only way I am ever able to pursue my interests is one at a time, and letting the house go to rack and ruin while I do so. Sad but true! And I hear you on the expense of scrapbooking. It can be really ruinous after a while!

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