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Beginning a-fresh

Starting a blog always feels like an Anonymous meeting:

Hello, my name is Tara, I am a creator.

I have entrepreneurial aspirations and a degree in French.

But my current passion is creativity. It's a word that's used so much, maybe overused, but the concept fascinates me.

As for my own creative and entrepreneurial endeavors, in July 06 I launched Blonde Chicken Boutique. I started by selling handpainted earth-friendly yarns on my website. I limited my suppliers to those who could assure me that the yarn was created from either recycled or organic materials because it's important that my monetary choices reflect my beliefs.

In the last year, Blonde Chicken Boutique has went through some changes:

I focused more efforts on spinning than on dyeing and have researched eco-friendly yarns which are still incredibly hard to source. When I’m looking at a yarn, I consider it’s impact on the environment in it’s creation (the sheep’s environment or if it uses recycled material) and in it’s distribution (if it has to be shipped from across the globe). This has led me to cut back on the whole “sourcing” thing and focus on finding local resources and low-impact dyeing.

During this period of research, I stopped selling dyed yarn online, for a few months, in order to properly keep up with my local orders, as I was asked to sell handpainted and handspun yarns at the local art gallery and supply shop. In conjunction with this, I held knitting and spinning demonstrations at the monthly gallery nights in March and April. Just last week, I posted some yarn online for sale, on our Etsy site.

Personally, I’ve gone through some changes too. We opened the shop just 15 days after moving to a new state and a new life. In the interim, my husband has become a full-time student. I changed ‘careers’ (if you can call 2 years out of college a ‘career’) and now work in an office: 8-5. I’m employed by the University that my husband attends, and as a benefit I can to take classes for free. I’m currently enrolled in Pre-MBA programs and am researching the possibility of entering an MBA program next fall.

More than all that, I’ve spent the last year searching and pursuing a definition of what it is I want to be doing with my life. I went through some times of deep confusion and real frustration. I spent much of my free time reading and writing and talking, and my knitting, spinning, dyeing and designing all fell behind. After all this, I still don’t know what I want to be ‘when I grow up’, but I do feel a real sense of purpose before along with a bit of clarity about what I want from BCB and from this blog.

Which brings me to what I’m doing here tonight:

The clarity I reached came unexpectedly. After over a year of reflection and confusion and anger at all the unknowns in my life, I had calmed down, told myself to be more zen, to take what comes. I was laying in bed on a Sunday afternoon, reading A Whack on the Side of the Head, reading about the various ‘creative geniuses’ of the world have had vast interests, specialized in nothing, learned about everything. Reading that being creative was putting together a lot of disparate concepts into one new idea and it was then, reading this silly book, that I felt a whack of my own (well, maybe it was a slight tap). I’ve spent a lot of time trying to ‘narrow my options’ and figure out what one thing to commit to. Every time I come close (yes, I’ll be a French Professor or yes, I’ll own my own business) I get distracted by something else (ooo, fiber art or ooo, theology). My interests are simply not narrow and I don’t enjoy trying to limit myself to one thing. All of my other interests center and circle around one (or two) concept(s): Creativity. And Learning New Things (what would you call this? Knowledge…Wisdom…Education?)

Literature, Theology, Language, Art, Craft, History, yes: even Business: they are all about humanity’s innate desire to be creative and to express one’s view of the world. The activities I enjoy also reflect this desire for learning and expression: creating (spinning, knitting, writing, dyeing); researching, analyzing, talking. The area of Business may not seem to fit in, but trust me, it does: what is an entrepreneur doing but creating something that acts as a reflection or extension of herself?

So, my new mission is to stop obsessing over what I’m going to be doing, what I should be doing and just start researching the things I love, analyzing what I find and sharing it here. I hope to share the books I’m reading, interview people who’s creative careers I admire, study some history of creativity and the history of crafts.

Pumpkin loaf

breakfast with Stephanopoulos

The pumpkin loaf, it is DI-vine. I altered it a bit (because that's how I roll) and so this is my take on it:

2 cups white sugar (I will be using cane sugar)
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup fresh ground flax seed (it substitutes 1:1 for oil, did you know that? I didn't!)
2/3 cup water
4 eggs
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (actually, I might have forgotten the 1/2 cup, I got distracted)
1 cup wheat flour

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/4 cups miniature semisweet chocolate chips (After I measured 1 cup, there was just a bit more left, so I tossed it all in…and really, it could have used even more!)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour 2 loaf pans (the original recipe said 3, but I found it just made 2, sort of flat, not filled to the brim loafs…next time I'm gonna make it in just one, so it has that puffy, super-full look)

In a large bowl, combine sugar, pumpkin, flaxseed, oil, water, and eggs. Beat until smooth. Blend in flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, and salt. Fold in chocolate chips. Fill loaf pans 1/2 to 3/4 full.

Bake for 1 hour, or until an inserted knife comes out clean. Cool on wire racks before removing from pans. (I never wait this long, we dug in about 15 minutes after it came out of the oven)

Slice and eat. Or warm up and spread some cream cheese on top. Or some peanut butter. I like it for breakfast (the chocolate chips don't count due to the healthful benefits of canned pumpkin!)

Let me know if you make it!

The beginning

3/13/08 Edited to add: this was my first post of my first knitting blog, I've moved it here for posterity's sake!

But I did accomplish something today! I dyed yarn! I'm going to use it this for this Buttonholde bag (you might have to scroll down a bit to see the pictures on that site).
Koolade dying yarn is officially my favorite new Sunday afternoon activity (so much more fun that trying to set up my blog!)

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