Quotable Tuesdays

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I have about a million ideas. I have a full-on site redesign in my head for this place. With a sweet logo and a hand-designed font. I want to rewrite the about page and better organize my links. I want to make this place more lively, easier to navigate, and all around more fluid. I lack a few things though. Time is an easy excuse. I’m also short a few notches of technical expertise, though a few dozen hours on WordPress forums and Adobe how-to sites might get me through that one. So in the end it’s doable. It just might take me a few years to put in place, hehe.

Until, then, I thought, why not try and add a weekly post? Something simple that I can put together without stressing over being witty or profound or having time to make a cake. Something people can rely on, to add a little something to their day. I’ve decided to let other people do the hard work for me, thus—quotations! I like quotations because they allow us to use others’ words to express our own ideas: the things that touch us, that change us, that encapsulate how we think. A body of chosen quotations can reveal much more about a person than their own words on a subject might.

Also, I’ve started stocking up good quotations recently, and I need somewhere to put them. 😉 Now that I’ve worked out the kinks of RGB versus CMYK versus a couple other things, and my colors come out about right (this image was a very pukey purple the first time I uploaded it), I’m hoping this can become a nice shared ritual for us all. I’ll do my best to be consistent. Happy Quotable Tuesday!

 

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Afternoon Adventures and Cinnamon Squash Cake

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Yesterday I took myself on a mini field trip. It was partly a failed attempt to buy a government stamp to pay for my visa (which has been issued—hallelujah! Can you hear the bells ringing? Because I can.) that I get to pick up in Perigueux tomorrow, but I turned it into a sweet little afternoon outing. I wandered through town reading the opening and closing times of various establishments and concluding that all errands should be done between the hours of ten and noon on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. I sometimes wonder how things get done in France. I stumbled onto a craft show that did happen to be open (and run by some British ladies), bought a felt owl to cover my phone, and strolled around snapping pictures with said phone. Later, I went down to the river to draw. And if you have Alison Krauss stuck in your head, I think it works because making things is a kind of prayer too, isn’t it? It’s a kind of looking for harmony and the internal calm and courage to let a thing or help a thing come into this world.

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I tried to take pictures by the river too, but I struggled a bit with my iPhone, which takes excellent photos when the light is perfect, and when the light is not perfect takes mostly overexposed nightmares or blurry frustrations. No luck with the river photos; I think the reflections puzzle my little Mac camera’s brain. But I did manage to get a shot of my favorite street in Montignac, which makes me chuckle every time I pass it, if only because the name feels a lot like my life a lot of the time: The Impasse of Sentiment. Feelings: you just have to live with them.

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My feelings lately are that I’m grateful that I have a little time to sit around and think about my feelings. To ask myself what images are for, what words are for, what food is for. To find out that my camera takes square pictures and knock myself out taking abstract-y photos of my feet and the tire marks in the town parking lot. I only posted one here—I don’t want to tire you guys out—but trust me, there are many. I’m grateful to get to stop and consider what this little internet space is for: what is does for me, what could be awesome if it does for others, what makes it work and what makes it not work so well.

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I realized that as much as time and organization keep me from showing up more or putting together posts that are more consistent or finished, there are also simple technical limitations. Like, as much I love my iPhone and its newfound capacity for square pictures, if I’m going to be subjecting people to my images all the time, I should maybe consider getting a decent camera. Not just for the viewer, but also for myself, to be able to construct a visual narrative more based on the story I’d like to share and less based on the few photos I managed to snap that are not atrocious.

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Ditto for food. While I admit that there is a diversity of reasons that keep me from posting recipes, two of the most frequent culprits are that my pictures are often deplorable and my recipes are hard to scale because I have very few pans that relate to anything standard. I’m learning a lot this week about how quandaries that feel complex in a busy mind can become rather simple when the mind is posed. As far as the blog goes, the basic prospect that arises is that if I really intend to develop this space as a platform for sharing and communication, I need to invest in it. Which is at once daunting and exciting (really good reasons to actually go to Ikea—buy a decent lamp for drawing. And a bundt pan!). Gonna let that simmer a bit more and see what comes to the top.

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Also, as you can see, I, um, cracked with my baking resolution. Butbut, I had to be in the kitchen for Lama anyway, and then Loïc brought home a potimarron from some one’s garden he’s helping with, and it’s almost starting to smell like autumn in the morning, and well, as much as I say I want to draw more and read more and study more and go outside more, and while away fewer of my hours in the kitchen, this cooking thing might be as ingrained in me as this art thing, and though I don’t really know what to do with that, I know that if you give me something that resembles pumpkin, you inevitably wind up with cake. Pre-autumny, afternoon snack-y, earthy, spicy cake.

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Recipe follows…

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Hazelnut Lavender Bites and Representing “Real Life”

IMG_0508I’m having stylistic questions. For instance, I just started this post with a conversational, self-referential statement. It’s friendly and easy and lots of days I feel like that. The ability to just start talking makes showing up here simple and manageable. And yet, some days I feel like I start to sound a little redundant. Blogging is a form of writing that has developed its own style, and friendly conversation is generally part of it. However, sometimes it makes jotting off an idea quick and dirty, instead of allowing or forcing the space to reflect and refine both my thoughts and my words a bit more.

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Lately, I have been discovering more writers who use the web as a place for deep reflection, storytelling, literature even. They inspire me. They also shed light on my own yearning for something…I dunno, more elaborate? More crafted and researched. Thus, I wonder, “What else or how else might I want to write?” and, “Is that writing a natural evolution of this blog space, or is it a new project that will happen somewhere else?”

IMG_0510Another big question that’s been coming up: what is the gap between real life and what gets represented here? This is a topic that many others have broached–recently and eloquently: Joy, Sarah, and Ashley. Related questions include…Am I interested in trying to close that gap? What would it even look like to try to represent “real life?”

As a genre, food blogging and lifestyle blogging tend to be about creating and expressing a life that is beautiful and satisfying. The light is always soft, the rooms are always neat, and everything looks delicious. While we all know that life (our own life, at least) isn’t this way, there is something comforting and inspiring about this kind of beauty. And, let’s face it, unless you’re cracking up on Cakewrecks, hideous, badly-lit pictures of life, food especially, are not that engaging. There’s a certain aesthetic minimum that goes along with blogging; pictures help to draw people in and keep them invested.

IMG_0545And yet, there’s something engaging about chaos and struggle, too. It’s not that I have a macabre fascination with suffering. It’s just that rough times do happen. Emotions get hairy. Sometimes, the kitchen is a mess and it makes me cry. Sometimes, the kitchen being a mess is the least of my problems. I am not interested in miring myself in pain and making more of it. I am interested in expressing a life that leaves space for frustration and hardship to arise with as little judgment as possible.

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IMG_0529Does putting artistic pictures of the madness that is my cupboards and the unfortunate consequences of that madness (Rule #3 of Jacqui’s kitchen: everything falls. Watch out.) achieve this? I dunno. It is, at least, a start to considering the question.

Maybe all that’s needed is are minor, nearly imperceptible shifts. I could choose this:

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That’s at least a slightly more complete vision of my dining room table and my life. Not lacking in objects I shove aside to photograph cookies or thoughts and things to do that I brush away, at least for a moment, to focus on prettier, more presentable aspects.

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At the same time, there’s something terribly sweet and fun about taking cute pictures of my beribboned hazelnut lavender bites and then taking them to friends. There is amusement, affection, and offering. And ribbon, ribbon is important! This is part of life too. I am trying to strike a balance, both in my life and in this space that I share, between striving to create joy and remembering to be patient with what is less than joy, when it arises.

Recipe after the jump…

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