The whole month of July seemed to be a time of inspiration--almost too much. I found new magazines and blogs and books to fuel the creativity I am slowly rebuilding in my life. It had kind of fizzled when I burned out from my job, and looking back, it seemed like I was just blocking a lot of it. My job pulled so much out of me. Plus it was institutional/corporate interior design so I stopped reading the magazines and authors that inspired me to choose interior design in the first place. But now, all that creative energy is back. Some of the magazines were those I bought on my free day, like the July issue of Martha Stewart Living and Fresh Style. I also found a magazine called Mollie Makes which is great, full of craft ideas and directions and just amazing pictures. Sometimes just the pictures are enough to give me a new idea or be able to take a fresh look around. All of these blogs listed over here to the right are also great fuel, especially Whatever and all those with the buttons down at the bottom of the list. I'm starting to take a look around to see what supplies I already have to start making something.

My inspiration boost is not limited to designer/artist in me (although I hate to draw arbitrary boxes around myself). I have found some great books about the spirit of hospitality, such as Open Heart, Open Homes and more recently, Radical Hospitality. It was actually through Radical Hospitality that I finally understood this whole interior design piece of my life. I always struggled with it, because it seemed so superficial and consumer driven. But I realized that through interior design, I was constantly striving to make the physical environment better for all those who entered it, both visitors and the workers. I was creating space for the other and welcoming the stranger through the design of the interiors. I'm still not ready to go back and do that at the contract level--I get heebie jeebies just thinking about the amount of work and minute details required to do that. Yikes. But I can rebuild and learn more at the other end of the spectrum, the part that I never got at school--the decoration, the staging, the final touches, whatever you want to call them. All of these blogs help me with that too.

Another tie between hospitality and design that has really gotten me excited is the idea of "Crafternoons." I had loved the idea of a craft retreat weekend, but did not have the energy to do such a thing for the women at my church at this time. I stumbled across the book Crafternoon though and was hooked. I could invite people over for an afternoon and learn a new craft skill--and of course share yummy food together. I'm still working on some details but hope to do one every other month starting this fall. This will also tie in with what I hope to be doing with my children, although most of the time I plan to have these parties without them.

The Cloister Walk inspired me to read two chapters of Psalms every day, one in the morning and one at bedtime. I had been praying about what to study more in-depth and now plan to do that with Psalms, using the 5 P's method I learned from Priscilla Shirer. Since I have been reading a lot of Eugene Peterson, I plan to read his book on the Psalms as well as a Brueggeman book one of my professors recommended. I also hope to build in a better system in my life to help me memorize verses. Consistently. I have found a few and tried a few. And I'm still looking.

And then the Charlotte Mason thing. I'm not sure how I got there. Maybe from suggestions on A Holy Experience or Tsh at Simple Mom. I read one book from the library. Interesting but kind of old timey take on the whole thing. I don't plan to homeschool my children, but I do make sure they learn at home. Both are read to every night and have been since birth. Charlotte's ideas just helped me see some other areas that I could weave into our time at home, such as picture study (to learn artists and their works), composer study, handiwork, life skills, and nature walks. Some of this I was already moving to--her ideas and those who use her methods helped me see how to do it. I got a different book called When Children Love to Learn and it made a world of difference in my appreciation of her ideas. I am reading Charlotte's own books now (I know, I'm doing this backwards), starting with Home Education. The website is great too, and even has some book suggestions, curriculum guide, ideas for working with preschool age, and some great links to books for the various studies. It even shows me which ones are in our library! The parts we are adding to our lives can be done as a family and fit into our lives. They need the extras--and so do Shannon and I. After all, those kids in the GT classes in elementary school still have that in them when they get older and thrive on learning and exploring new things. Isaac has been super excited with what we have done already, unlike when I have him practice handwriting once a week. He has helped me work out the monthly schedule of composers, artists, poets, and crafts. It is mostly just reading a book here and there, listening to music, and making things--stuff we already do. We are just being a bit more intentional with it for now.

From all this, I finally got enough inspiration to tackle one of the items on our Summer List with Isaac--making bread. He mixed it up while I started dinner. I finished the last bit of stirring since the bowl was getting full and did the kneading and last few parts to prep for baking. He also did some kneading until he got tired. It was an easy, yummy recipe from the Fleischmann's Yeast website. He chose the white bread. If I make some more this week, I will do the whole wheat version and with honey instead of sugar.