Jul 26, 2011

Connecting with Creators


Click HERE to get FULL details!!

July 28, 2011:
This is a new and additional announcement to this posting! This contest was just announced today and the contest will end at 11:59 on AUGUST 4th! That is why I am sticking it at the top of my post in red and not my usual grey.  To get full details about how to enter, the rules, and how you may win TWO free passes plus hotel accommodations to The Creative Connection Event, click above. Don't know what in the world I am talking about, or why I am so excited? Read on, and the post will fill you in plenty! Oh, and if you keep on reading...I am having my own little contest giveaway myself. But you have to read the post to find out what it is...you will love the giveaways...that I am sure! 

Who would have thought that tearing strips of fabric and tying them around a lamp shade could make someone so happy? Well you looking at her, or rather reading her blog. But that is what I did a few nights ago. Yup, I finally redid my living room, and tearing and cutting linen strips while sitting on our new sofa apparently gave me a very contented look upon my mug. As my barber husband commented the next morning, he said, "It was so nice watching you tear up fabric last night..." He didn't get exactly why I was so happy with my strips of fabric, but he was just happy to see me happy. 

I had no idea he was even watching me. You see, we got a new sofa, he was snuggled on one end, legs stretched out, and I was happy on the other end, snipping away, and apparently entertaining my hubby. But I guess, my contentment showed - and all it really took was some strips of fabric and a pair of scissors. 

And that is what I want to talk about today - contentment and joy in creating. And while my barber husband may not have understood why I was so happy snipping away at fabric, there are a lot of people who do and I get to meet them this September at St. Paul, Minnesota, at 

(Okay, don't think I don't know you are waiting to see my living room photos, and feeling ripped off that I told you about redoing it, and then just go on like I never mentioned it...I'll get back to it. Now, do I know my readers, or what?)

This coming September 15, 16, 17th.

Click HERE for more details!

If you have no idea what this is, I will briefly go over it, but you really need to just go to the fab website and read all about it and then just sign up and go! This event is like no other. I have been helping with writing the website for months and learned so much about the event, I am very impressed with the level of talent and dedication! 

Basically, Jo Packham, the co-founder of this event saw a need for crafters to connect. She also realized that crafters and foodies are so busy doing what they do best, that it is difficult to get their products known. That is where The Creative Connection Event  (TCC) comes into play. Networking, cyber world, blogging, it all comes together with the crafting and food world. And business women who have been-there-done-that and have taken their passion and turned it into a way of life are there to connect us all!

Here is just a SMALL SAMPLE of what TCC has to offer:

Key Note Speakers: 

Click HERE to read about all the speakers!
I personally cannot wait to meet these women and hear about their adventures. BlogHer is a big participant and sponsor that is offering a lot valuable information for those of us who create and blog. If you aren't familiar with BlogHer (I wasn't until I met the fabulous, Loralee, last summer on my photo shoot to Pioneer Woman's ranch, who introduced me to the BlogHer world), then BlogHer is another huge treat that TCC will introduce you to! 

In short, BlogHer supports and encourages women bloggers. The founders of BlogHer are pioneers when it comes to blogging and the information they have to pass on is valuable to anyone wanting to take blogging to the next level, or wanting to learn about blogging, maybe considering taking their passion more public, or even to the possibility of making a living at it. TCC is the place to connect and do this. The people who attend this event would totally, totally get my glee at sitting on my sofa, completely content with my strips of fabric and scissors. And somehow, at TCC, I would probably learn how to make a friggin living at how to snip my strips, blog about it, and make a living...not bad, when I think about it.   :-)

In fact, Jo is so passionate about getting women connected, sharing our passions, and helping women to network with one another, that when I asked her if I could blog about the event she offered to give away a year's subscription of Where Women Cook and Where Women Create!  

So, I decided to have a little CONTEST and GIVEAWAY from now until September 15th.  Below is a button and if you grab the button and post it on your blog's side bar until September 15 and leave me a comment that you did so, then I will put your name in a hat (and it will be a really cute, vintage hat, at that). When I return from the TCC event, I will pull a name out of the hat, and two savvy gals will get a one year subscription to either WWCook OR WWCreate. 

I don't think I have ever done a giveaway before, so I am excited to do this and want to thank Jo for offering this for my readers. If you wish, you can thank Jo as well on her blog, or Facebook page and let her know you appreciate it too. Very cool that I can giveaway something that I love so much.


Just grab the button below. 
Place button on your blog sidebar just until Sept 15th. 
And leave me a comment that you did so.

There will be Two winners:
One will get a year's subscription to Where Women Create
One will get a year's subscription to Where Women Cook

Click HERE for details!

Between keynote speakers, panelists, event meals, workshops, networking, shopping at the Market Place, watching cooking demos, getting autographs from authors (yes, Jo asked if I would participate in the autograph party, which will be an honor, but sort of feel a little weird at the same time...don't ask me why, but it does...but it's a good weird) but between all those activities, Jo will also be launching her new book 

New Book:
Where Women Cook Celebrate!

Click HERE for more details!

I am extra proud of this book because for several months, I was hired to help interview and assist in writing about some of these extraordinary chefs. I got to talk with them and learn about their diverse backgrounds and honed my skills on writing with deadlines, within strict word counts, and edit and re-edit again. It was a great job that I would love to do again anytime! The book is different from Where Women Create magazine in that each chef has a particular celebration and recipes to go along with it. One particular chef I remember interviewing (and still stay in contact with) is Sandy Coughlin, better known as The Reluctant Entertainer, who has one of the most informative chapters with all kinds of entertaining tips. There are organic chefs, French chefs, chefs who started out just cooking for a hobby...and more. It is a fantastic and fun cookbook, even if I say so myself :-)

Okay, besides TCC having tons of classes, workshops, networking (which is the coolest part - make sure you bring lots of business cards with you, you will meet tons of very cool, creative women - and men - Matthew Mead will be there teaching!) there is one more really cool event I will mention in this post that is super exciting that TCC is offering.....

Pitch Slams!

Have you heard of them before?  In short, these are events in which professionals in certain industries (usually the publishing industry, but in TCC's case, much more) will sit and listen to your idea and give you feedback. And in some cases, some ideas are picked up on the spot! 

Some Pitch Slam events are very expensive to attend and almost all are very limited in number. Most have strict rules on how long you may speak, what you may bring, and what you may leave behind (if anything) to the industry representative.  It can be super intimidating, and pretty white knuckling, but TCC is here to make this Pitch Slam professional, but a really positive experience for you so you can walk away with some expert advice. It is a chance to get the full attention of an expert and show your idea - something that is really hard to get!

So for example, if I wanted to pitch my book, and if there was a publisher being represented at a pitch slam event that I wanted to pitch to, then I would sign up, pay my fee, and pitch the best pitch possible in the hopes that I would "wow" them so much that they would shake my hand and hand me a huge contract right then and there! Okay, actually, it doesn't really happen that way, except in my head, but in practice, you do want to "wow" them in the few minutes you get, and at least get them to remember you enough to want to follow up with more information and so on.

Well, TCC is having a Pitch Slam event for all sorts of creative industries....if you have an idea for cookbook, or children's book, or let's say you always wanted to be a designer for a craft or paper company, there will be an industry rep at the TCC Pitch Slam! How many times have you gone to a craft store and rolled your eyes and thought, "Geeze Louise...I could have made that in my sleep!" Well, now you can pitch your ideas and maybe get picked up to design for a craft company in your sleep! 

Or maybe you always thought you would be a great gift designer for a company and have a zillion ideas but no where to take them to...now you do! Or a textile designer? TCC has an industry leader looking to hear your design ideas on that too. Or how about a guest on a TV show? How many times have you thought you would be a great guest on a TV show, but you are not sure how to pitch your idea to the network? Now you can try it out and get professional feedback. Remember, these professionals have "been-there-done-that" and most are still doing it. There's lots to do to prepare and get ready. And many more industries that I didn't even list.  A limited number of spaces are available and some rules you need to know, so I am going to send you to two places to get all the info you need to visit and read up on. Spaces are filling up, so get going!

First, the official website that tells you all you need to know just click below:


Click HERE for PITCH SLAM Details!


The TCC blog has tons of good ideas about lots of stuff, but just the other day, they put out some really good advice on Pitch Slams, so here the info from the blog as well: 

Click HERE for TCC blog details on Pitch Slams!

Okay, that is it for now. As you can see, I am really excited about this event. Mainly, I am excited because so many of us work and do and do. And while the blog world is great, and without it, many of us would be pretty isolated when it came to our crafting and cooking only because so many of the people in our daily lives just don't get our passion. They love us, and they respect us, and they tell us how much they love our creations, but they really don't get how our juices just get flowing at 1AM sometimes - with just some scissors and strips of fabrics. And at The Creative Connection Event, well, there will be 100's and 100's of creative souls, for three whole days who DO GET IT, and are in all stages of their passion. Some are just barely discovering what makes them tick, and some have been ticking so long, that they are there to help other get ticking too, all while getting "rewound" and refreshed themselves! So I really hope I get to see you, meet you, and finally get to give you a hug.

And to refresh yourself a bit, here are a few photos of our living room. I haven't had time to take "real" photos. I am in the middle of a big shoot and I could barely squeeze in the time to do this living room, but I have put it off for so long. You know the saying, the cobbler's kids never get shoes....you'd be surprised at long it takes for me to get my own house done. Well, probably not, you are in the same boat, I am sure.

Oh, and I am still looking for the "after" photos of the kitchen. I didn't forget, but I am afraid I may have done what I always feared that I may do, but haven't yet - until now, maybe. I think, but not sure, but I think I may have downloaded them accidentally into a file I didn't mean to do. That means I have to hunt for them among thousands of photos. Hopefully this isn't the case. I will keep you posted.

But here are a few photos of our living room, and when it is all completed (not done yet) I will give you a tour...but for now, here are a few quick pics until I can take real photos...oh, and feel free to leave a comment even if you aren't grabbing the button - I always love hearing from you no matter what!

 From my house to your house,


Jul 14, 2011

Scissors, Soul, and Searching

Scissors: Who would have ever thought that such a simple, little invention could bring us such joy, engage our imagination, and steal hours and hours of contentment that may serve no other purpose than to feed our soul and escape our daily grind of reality. Particular seasons in our lives, that reality can be sometimes, well, just unbearable. 

But the quiet calmness of the "snip" and slow and careful cutting along the edges, allow us for a moment, to cut away some harsh realities and create a fresh beginning. 

Whether it is paper, fabric, cardboard, wallpaper, wrapping paper, newsprint, card stock, burlap, a pattern, a photo, a paper sack, a flower stem, a fuzzy pipe cleaner, or just about any number of things that a pair of sharp scissors can cut, we somehow get that little bit of joy from the very first snip.

That first, fresh cut is our invitation to start anew. To begin again. To try  just one more time....and besides, no one is looking and we have only ourselves to please. And when life gets hard (and it can get pretty crappy, I don't have to tell you that)  it is our creativity that comes out and saves us from ourselves. Creating helps us to breath easier and it helps us feel like we belong somewhere...

And this is where I would like to take a moment and introduce to you someone very special to me ....and even to you. See that button to the right on my blog? The one that announces that I will be attending The Creative Connection Event? I hope you have clicked on it and checked it out by now, and if not, then please do! In case you don't know what I am referring to, here is the button:

Click Here!
Jo Packham, co-founder and creator/editor of Where Women Create and Where Women Cook is the creative soul behind this fabulous event, The Creative Connection Event, or TCC. 

Jo Packham, Publisher, Friend, Co-Founder of  The Creative Connection Event
Creator and Editor in Chief of WWCreate and WWCook

Most of you know I have been very honored to have been featured in both publications (see my side bar of my blog) and have also worked as a photographer for both publications featuring other artists as well. I am also going to be in the upcoming issue of Where Women Cook in a regular feature called Art Bar and below is a sneak peek photo:

But back to The Creative Connection Event (TCC) and the person I admire so much: Jo Packham. In several upcoming posts I will be highlighting some of the most fabulous artists and panelists that will be teaching and speaking at this event (September 15 -17) and I really encourage you to check out the website and read all the wonderful classes and events - one will be an autograph party - which I will be in attendance signing the latest issue of Where Women Cook - as well as assisting with the event - I can't wait! The TCC site has all the details!

But what makes this event so unique and special is that it culminates what Jo has worked and created for almost 30 years. She inspires and encourages women artists/crafters/foodies to take their talents and passions to a level they never really dreamed of. She inspires us little people, who craft after working all day, on our dining room tables, or only on weekends when we are abled. She is REALLY and TRULY proud of us and she wants us to know that creating is truly good for the soul and how much SHE admires YOU. She has told me many times  how she is just amazed over and over again with all that she sees with just us "regular" people.  

It is someone like Jo, who views people like us, who craft, blog, create, cook, and who sees our passion, can connect with us. She doesn't "poo-poo" our time spent doing these things as time wasted, she understands us because she is one of us. She was WAY AHEAD of the game years ago, way before HGTV, way before the Internet, way before Facebook, way before it was cool to be a "book scrapper"....she was the "oddball" 25 years ago for actually taking women seriously who seriously loved to craft. And her positive attitude about our passion affected us all. In more ways than you could imagine.

And while I will go into way more details about TCC, Jo, my involvement (and some neat news as well) in the next post, (as well as a contest!) for now, I want to begin my TCC series with a letter that Jo received from a woman in which this woman expressed just how much Jo's publications and how creating saved her during a very painful time in her life.

If you are not one to really read blogs, but rather just look for pretty pictures, I ask you this one time, if you could, to PLEASE stop and take a moment to read the following, heart-wrenching letter. My throat got so tight, I thought I couldn't breath for a moment. 

This letter says it all. Jo passed it on to those of us working with TCC to remind us all why we work so hard to provide such events as The Creative Connection Event - because creating and connecting is a lifeblood and it is in our soul.

The following letter that was sent to Jo by a fellow creative soul. It touched my soul deeply. I wanted to share it with you because if you are visiting my blog it is likely you were searching for either some inspiration, or something beautiful, or a little encouragement, or maybe just not to feel so alone. This letter does all those things and more. This letter connects us all so beautifully - and that is what Jo does with The Creative Connection Event...she connects us, our passion, our talent, and our souls... 

Thank you for allowing me to share this letter. It is long, but so worth the reading...

The next post, I will introduce you to some the most interesting people you will ever meet...but wait...you can meet them in person! You can sign up to go to TCC and stop by and say "hello" to me (I would LOVE that!) while taking some cool, (super cool really) classes and listen to great speakers and even pitch an idea or a book or a design to a publisher....more on the next post. (And I haven't forgotten about updating you on other things as well...so much to do!)

For now...the heartfelt letter that brought tears to my eyes and made my heart swell with pride to be a part of the creative world....and a part of your world as well...

Dear Jo,

Things have a funny way of working out...so that is the reason I am writing this letter to you...

I recently gave a talk at a Women's Spring Brunch, in which I talked about your inspiring magazine and what it had done for me....

I received a lot of wonderful feedback, but most of it was wanting to know more about your magazine and was I going to write to you and let you know my story.

So, here it is... I do have a story and I wanted to share it with you...

I have included a copy of the talk I gave, but here is the background information so you can fully understand it.

On June 9th, 2010 we buried our 20 year old son, Ethan who fought an epic battle with cancer. He was and is a 'rockstar' in our opinion... he taught us so much about life and how to make every day count. This was his third battle with cancer; the first two took place when he was just three years old.

That shifty disease came back when he was 19 and on top of the world. You would think that he would be angry and feel cheated, but not so.... Ethan told me that he had lived a wonderful life.

Our family of seven faced this battle united, with lots of support from family and dear, dear friends. Ethan felt that the Lord was either going to heal him here on earth or in Heaven and he was okay with either way.

We had the most amazing, cheerful and colorful funeral (no black allowed). We celebrated a life well lived!

My story however, is about healing. My story is about how beauty and creativity play an essential role in the healing process.

Your beautiful magazine is so full of life and encouraging words... one cannot help but to be touched in a deep interior way... page after page of eye candy, story after story of encouraging one another... what a thoughtful and refreshing concept!

Thank you for helping me in the healing process... I just thought you would like to know that if this is what you are trying to accomplish, you have done a great job, indeed.

Thank you again from the bottom of my heart.

Best regards and many blessings,

Nancy Mills

Here is what I shared at the Spring Brunch:
This sharing is about possibilities, opportunities and about simple beginnings...

This sharing is about God The Father, as the Master Creator, The Master Artist who made all the animals on the earth, all the fishes in the sea, the snow caped mountains, the green hills, all the stars in the sky...

He is responsible for every single color that we appreciate in the flowers, the trees, the fruit we eat...

It was He who invented beauty, the concept of it, the glory of it...

It was God who knew that humans would so need His beauty...

It was His beauty that would bring us back around to Him...

God knew that women would love beauty... He knew that we would revel in its magnificence... that our hearts would respond to it and that there could actually be healing in it...

After Ethan died, I was just so incredibly sad... nothing seemed to be able to touch it...

I tried to pray it away
I tried to sleep it away
I tried running away

and although all those things helped a great deal... I still had this enormous gaping hole in my heart.

In my misery, I cried out to the Lord to send me a lifeline... and do you know what... He did it...

my lifeline was not just one thing... it was actually several things...

It was daily Mass.

It was 'front porch' girlfriends not excepting my “Oscar” quality acting skills,with me saying... “Oh yea yea... I'm doing just fine”...

My lifeline also came in the form of a brand new magazine on the market called “Where Women Create”.
My sweet sister, Monica, just on a whim, sent it to me, cuz she thought I would like it...

And finally the last lifeline happened to come in a random conversation I had with a dear friend...she said the most simplest thing, but it was as if she had a megaphone pointed right at my ear... We were conversing on facebook and I was asking what she was up to and she said, “oh, it's a crafting day”... she said “you know, I'm always the happiest when I'm making something”.

I sat there and looked at my computer screen for the longest time...

I remember thinking... “Oh,Ethan has been hard at work, I see... he's been working on getting his mamas heart healed...

You see, Ethan loved artsy-fartsy things... He was my biggest fan when it came to making things or trying new techniques... he knew I loved creating stuff...

… so I said good-bye to my friend, turned off my computer and just sat a while...

I started piecing things together and saw that this whole thing was beginning to make sense...

I said, “Okay, Lord... I'm beginning to get the picture... (No pun intended)...but, am I understanding you correctly... that you intend to heal me through stickers, and tape, and paper, and scissors, and glue and paint”? I mean, who am I to question You... but really?... :)

So, I got up, went to my craft cupboard and decided it was time to unpack a few things...

The first thing I saw was that magazine that my sister, Monica sent me... I figured now was as good a time as any to sit down and enjoy it...

I opened it up and to my extreme delight, it was filled with beautiful, inspirational pictures of artists, their work, their stories and the places where they create...

I was overjoyed with what I was seeing...

My heart, at that very moment, started to fill up, started to heal... I was actually happy... really happy... I remember saying to myself... wow... this is awesome!”

As I read all the Artists stories... I realized that their stories were really not that different from mine...

It seems that sorrow, grieving, and sadness must find a way to exit the body... and it seems that there are all sorts of ways for those emotions to do this...

what happened next really took me by surprise...

I started crying...

You need to understand that during my life, I was never much of a crier...I just didn't do it... I remember that I never cried at all when Ethan had his first fight with cancer at age three...and over the last year of Ethan's life, I was too busy being brave and strong for Ethan and everyone else... so no crying then...

As I was reading this magazine,which was so full of beauty and inspiration, the floodgates opened and I wept for hours... I cried about everything I could remember, for every single little thing I could think of... when no more tears would come, I was so exhausted that I slept for the entire rest of the day.

Beauty and emotions are related... one effects the other..

since then... I think I have cried every single day... I allow the tears to come as they may... so be it...

So,as the sorrow and grief were finding their way out … the desire to create was finding its way in...

I kept saying to myself... “what on earth am I going to make?... what is it going to look like?... is it going to be dark and morose?... ugly and sad?... pitiful and pathetic?...”

I decided to be brave, to explore the possibilities and to simply...begin....

what came out of me was amazing... it was bright, beautiful, cheerful, happy, positive...

there were moments that my eyes were just watching what my heart was telling my hand to do... I felt like my hand and heart knew how to paint, but my brain didn't.... it was an amazing experience...

it was then that I started feeling the warm, peaceful, quiet, healing process and it was wonderful.

The thing that I had in common with those artists in the magazine was that “something”, some issue, situation or experience in their lives brought them to a point that they must create something. It was a restlessness in their spirit or a small voice telling them that it was time... they felt compelled to create and in doing so... helped the Master Creator heal what needed healing in their lives.

Creativity encourages happiness and happiness encourages healing.

When you create, you feel calmer, happier, more reflective , more in a position to heal.

I know it was the Holy Spirit, guiding me.
I know it was Ethan's prayers... so wanting his mama peaceful and happy again...

In preparing for this sharing, I found this quote...
"When our eyes see our hands doing the work of our hearts, the doors of our souls fly open and love steps forth to heal everything in sight”.

In closing...

Is your spirit sad like mine was?

Are you experiencing a restlessness deep inside you?

What is the Holy Spirit saying to you?

Is He calling to you?

What matters most is that you listen,that you pay attention to that small quiet voice deep within you and then simply... begin....

May this day be the day your spirit is lifted and you find a pair of scissors and just simply begin...

From my house to your house, 

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