Monday, April 26, 2010

Creatively Green

My family just returned from a whirlwind trip to the States. Prior to going I had started getting really intrigued by the term "green smoothies", a term I'd stumbled upon several times recently among the various blogs that I regularly read.

At first I felt really intimidated by this term: Green Smoothies. Green Smoothies? GREEN Smoothies? Green SMOOTHIES? GREEN SMOOTHIES?!?!? I got the concept but didn't quite get how to implement. The two words just didn't quite seem to go together, and I was convinced I would mess up, needlessly wasting some fabulous produce in the process. And so, more research ensued.

I discovered that any type of leafy greens could go into my smoothie, but that for a novice like me I might prefer to avoid the stronger-tasting ones. So, things like lettuce and spinach were in, and things like arugula and dandelion were out (for now). A higher fruit-to-veggie ratio would also be more palatable to begin, but that a ratio of 1:1 is what to aim for in the long-term.

Finally I reached the point where the next action item was simply to give it a try.

I had my fruits: frozen berries, a banana, a pear, and a few forgotten grapes.

I was a bit hesitant about the greens because my blendering tools are limited to the stick variety. I wasn't sure that had enough power to obliterate the greens to shreds. I got around that easily enough by using frozen, shredded spinach (I let it thaw first) and that worked beautifully.

The results from this first go-around were... mediocre. Not great enough that I sang Green Smoothie Praise form the mountain tops, but enough to keep me intrigued. When I got to the States, two things changed: 1) I retrieved our powerful blender from my parents' basement, confident that it had what it would take to show regular leafy greens who's boss; and 2) Whole Foods beckoned me.

Armed with loads of fresh greens and my mighty blender, I went to it. I'm super proud of my creations, and here are the two that stand out to me:

Mega-Variety Combo: apple, orange, banana, lemon, lime, raspberries, cherries, kiwi, blueberries, blackberries, chard, spinach, mixed lettuce greens, beet greens, cilantro, parsley. My hint: If you're adverse to an off-color smoothie, be sure to add enough red and purple berries!

Green Supreme: lemon, lime, orange, banana, avocado, kiwi, pear, frozen peaches, cilantro, parsley, spinach, romaine, beet greens, chard, ginger. This is not overly sweet and very refreshing.

I drank a big pitcher of Green Smoothies every day for a week and I loved it. Perhaps it was only psychological, but I'll take it! If you're interested in learning more about Green Smoothies, this is a great place to start, and there are many more blogs and websites with various tips and tools of the trade out there as well. Enjoy!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Color Craze

I stay pretty connected to the color industry because it’s so important to my job (well, my currently non-existent job). Yes, there is a color industry, believe it or not, with a set of people that sit in a room (actually, it’s a pretty arduous process, so I’m sure it involves many rooms!) and they decide the hot colors for the upcoming year. (Believe it or not, by this time right now, they have already decided what colors will be popular in 2011, and are almost done with 2012.) It’s a complex process because they are dealing with selecting just the right pantones (numerical C, M, Y, K color values) that can be duplicated on any computer. But I’m boring you.

Anyway, my point is, if you’ve ever wondered why many stores all offer similar shades of fabric hues each season, it’s because of the color industry. It’s because designers of textiles, clothes, home goods, etc, all pay close attention to the swatches (expensive swatches at that!) that come from the color forecast. This year’s hot hot color (some of you probably already know) is lavender! Check out some of my favorite purples this spring, as well as two other hot colors of summer: aqua and gray.

Monday, April 5, 2010

changing my mindset to creative

Okay, who's been horrendously delinquent around these parts lately? C'est moi. I've been feeling particularly undercreative these last few weeks, and - coupled with being a bit short of time - that's the reason for my absence.

Makes me wonder a bit about how people who are creative for their livelihood deal with creative droughts. What happens when a writer gets blocked? When a singer/songwriter stops singing and songing?

The more I contemplate this, however, I realize that inspiration isn't simply limited to creative expressions; no matter what one does, it's so much more enjoyable to feel inspired while doing it, to be working towards a goal. And, as I think about a bit further, I realize that "creative expressions" aren't simply limited to "the arts" - meaning those performed and those visualized - but that everyone can have their own art even if they are in banking, or law, or education.

I am realizing that being creative has far more to do with how I see the world, and not the specific tasks I apply my creativity to. Most of you probably figured this out a long time ago, but I think I am just starting to give myself permission to do this, to stake my creative claim in my dad-to-day.

Here's to this week's task: identifying my creativity in the nooks and crannies of my life.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Design Doctor

Can I just vent for a moment today? You won’t mind if I have a bitter moment, will you? Today I am going to vent about the curse of being an interior designer, what seems to plague me from time to time (i.e. today):

People are always asking me for design opinions off the cuff, without more specific info. I won’t talk about today, but take this experience, for example. One Christmas dinner, some people my husband and I were sitting with said, "We were thinking of painting our kitchen cabinets baby blue. What do you think? Would that look good?" It was crazy to ask me that when there are about a hundred different tints, shades, and tones of baby blue, I had never seen their kitchen or the style of the cabinets, and didn't know what look they were going for, didn't know what kind of lights they had, or the scale of the room and what colors would be around it, or what the texture and type of wood the cabinets were.

When people ask me if something will or won’t work, it’s a hard one to answer without seeing the space or talking to them a lot more about what they’re going for… So I often feel irresponsible giving an opinion, and end up sounding evasive or put-out…. not too intelligent! Really, I like everything in its place and within a certain specific context that it may work within. Part of being a good designer, I think, is being able to appreciate the merits of every style, of every color, and of every individual item... Certainly everything can be good within a certain context, and bad within another context. Maple syrup is great on waffles. Not so great with chicken soup.

Part of me likes being able to give advice. It’s flattering when someone asks. The part of me that still owes thousands of dollars on my student loans gets a little frustrated, though. It’s hard wanting to do something professionally (meaning making a living for oneself) but wanting to help out friends or others that ask you for bits and pieces of help here and there. I am nowhere near being a doctor, but I feel for them, because they must constantly have the same problem! People wanting advice without offering money or particulars! Sigh. Good thing that if that’s the biggest problem I have in life, I’m doing pretty well!