Creativity: What Inspires You?

Because my work/life situation isn’t as conventional as most, I have the opportunity to use my surroundings a lot more than the majority of the population.  Although I have an office that I love to work in every day, I’m not chained to it and can shuffle between a few different spaces to maximize my grey cells.  Being able to have the freedom to choose where I’m working (even if it is just my bedroom, my garage, or my office) helps my creativity a great deal.  And since I work out of my home I can have my friends and family over whenever I’d like to host workshops for or bounce ideas off of.  Freedom – it’s an amazing catalyst for creativity.

For us, everything we need is right here because we’re a family unit of four; we all work together to achieve our goals.  For organizations with more employees, it’s a little more difficult to harbour a family-like environment in an office with walls of separation dividing everyone.  Until now.  In the early fall I was introduced to a company called WeWork, they’re huge proponents of “do what you love” and the basis of their company is to promote flexible, enriching environments for small and large businesses so resources are better utilized for entrepreneurial spirit, creativity and advancement.  They’re creating the family unit environment in offices in major cities all over the United States and Europe and organizations are knocking down their doors to get in on the action.

For entrepreneurs or freelancers that are only required to be in one place temporarily and don’t want to tie up funds with permanent office spaces, WeWork is the perfect solution.  They’re offices are accessible 24/7, they have a range of desk options to choose from as well as health benefit offers, and they co-brand with companies like Zipcar (the world’s largest car sharing company) and offer it to their customers at a reduced rate.  In a world where e-commuters are steadily on the rise, WeWork is an ideal solution for any business that requires flexibility.

All of my employees are four-legged so right now I’m not in need of these services but when I heard about it I loved the idea so much I had to share.   Just look around, maybe four walls isn’t what’s good for your business anymore.  Do you want to be inspired?  Maybe it’s time for you to leave it behind too.

Since I’ve been home and really embraced my role as the Farmer’s Wife, I’ve been working more and more towards my goals of live to work and not work to live just like WeWork does.  Living to work means loving what I’m doing and what I love is being creative.  And I’ve been told I don’t suck at it either.  I think it comes partly from genetics but partly from being able to look around and come up with more than one purpose in everything I see.

Example.  In the spring, I came across this old house.  It was abandoned but still had so much character.  The siding was painted red and all the doors and windows were intact (for the most part).  I’d guess it was built in the 1940’s or 1950’s, small a-frame with a quaint front stoop and 45 degree ceilings upstairs; I could just see a Farmer’s Wife from bygone days ringing a dinner bell on the porch.  I’ve always loved anything with character and antiquity that’s well-crafted so I wanted to save a little bit of this farm history.

We live in a small community so it wasn’t hard to track down the owner.  I found out the little house was scheduled to be demolished.  I would have loved to save it all but that was impossible so I asked if I could at least have the window frames and doors to repurpose and the owner agreed.  I didn’t know what I wanted to do with them yet but I just knew they had potential and I wanted to save them; there were many years left on their lives and I didn’t want a backhoe to cut them short.

The Farmer, Papa and I went there in June with crowbars and hammers and took them all out.  I brought them home and put them away because I wasn’t quite sure what projects I was going to make with them yet.  I spent most of the summer in the tractor but also was able to take in a lot of things in Alberta and BC on vacation.  I took in a lot of beauty and learned a lot of tricks that this fall I was ready to try out.

Antique Door

With mild difficulty, I brought the old door up to my garage workshop.  It’s solid wood and weighs around 80 pounds so it was a loooooong walk up here with it.  The backside of the door was discoloured from cigarette smoke and the outside was chipping, splintering and cracking from sun damage.  There was one broken window from an obvious “I forgot my key” incident, there were three extra holes drilled in it to house deadbolts and handles that were more burglar proof than the ones originally installed and both the escutcheon and original doorknob were MIA but I could not look past how beautiful the door was and just wanted to display it somewhere; I decided to turn it into a welcome sign and showcase it on our porch.

Welcome Door

 When I was in Radium for the car show this year, I stopped into a quaint, inviting shop in Invermere called The Painted Porch and met the owner, Teresa.  She was incredibly helpful and obliging and told me all about her secrets, techniques and tips for using chalk-style paint.  She repurposes and creates with anything and everything and also retails The FAT Paint Company – a Canadian born company out of New Westminster, BC that’s perfected chalk-style paint and come up with an amazing brand of their own.

I asked Teresa about shipping because I’d never seen or heard of FAT Paint in my area and although she does ship, she told me about Twila from Marmie’s Empty Nest in Camrose, AB.  I called her up when I got home and my BFF and I took a workshop from her at the beginning of October.  I came out of there with all the supplies I needed to transform my door into the vision I had in my head for it.

I started by sanding down the door and then washing it with hot water and vinegar.  I had to scrape a lot of old paint off the windows that had been there from any one of the white, blue, green, or grey paint jobs the door had gone through over time and when that was done I washed it all again.  I puttied the extra holes up so it looked as close as possible to it’s original condition and then I sanded once more.

After that, the fun part began.  I dry brushed the door in FAT Paint Bitter Chocolate and let it dry.  Then I sporadically added FAT Paint Tuscan Sun as an accent and finally, I painted the entire door in FAT Paint Parchment.  Once the last coat was dry, I started to sand it all back and expose the different colours.  FAT Paint is so versatile.  It can be painted onto virtually anything to give it a facelift and there’s a lot less prep work required than with regular paints and stains.  I didn’t need to strip the door of it’s many colourful layers, just sand it smooth and start painting!  The best part was that once I started to sand back the layers, the original white layer came through too adding one more dimension.

FAT Paint - Bitter Chocolate, Tuscan Sun and Parchment

Final touch was the doorknob and, of course, vinyl decals; I don’t do many projects that exclude WordPlay Designs.  I’ve been a consultant for almost 7 years now and I love it because it’s so versatile and can take any project from beautiful to AMAZINGLY WONDERFUL.  I added a custom “Home Sweet Home” graphic to the centre window and a personalized welcome greeting to the panel below the window.  The doorknob was a cool find from Winners a few months ago and adds a great finishing touch and then the entire piece was waxed with FAT Paint Natural.  

Welcome to the Ducherers'

After all that, all that was left was to get it onto the porch and set up the rest of my outdoor decorations.  There is no such thing as too many Christmas decorations at our house.  I love the spirit of this season so much, it warms my heart immensely.  The time I spend with our family and friends, the giving, the decorations, the music, the magic.

Christmas Porch

So there you have it.  An incredibly long post about creativity and how you can increase your creative juice flow.  I hope I’ve been able to inspire you a little bit whether it’s through DIY, upcycling or even corporately.  If any of this interests you, please check out the links embedded in the post.  They’re products I recommend and love to work with and I hope you will too!

Welcome Door

Christmas is upon us and what better time of year to take what’s around you and turn it into something meaningful and festive for the season?!  I wish you all happy creating and hope I’ve left you inspired.  Cheers!  Kim.

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Apple Cranberry Chicken Soup with Avocado

Today is a soup day up here.  It was +5C yesterday morning and today it’s dropped to -1C with wind and flurries.  The roads are getting bad and the air is colder so I wanted something to warm my soul up after I fed the sheep and checked cows this morning.

I follow this super cool chick on Instagram.  Her handle is @thebettyrocker and you can find her online at The Betty Rocker and a few days ago, she posted a recipe for creamy chicken soup.  I wanted to try it today and since I’ve had the rest of a roast chicken in my fridge for a few days, I looked it up.  It, of course, called for zucchini and cauliflower (both of which I didn’t have in my fridge) so I decided to come up with my own recipe with what I did have and it worked SO WELL.  It was easy, uses simple fresh ingredients and is really quick to make.  For a soup it’s not only filling but also has great proteins, micro-nutrient rich carbs and the avocado adds the perfect amount of healthy fats.  It’s something I’m really proud of actually, it tasted amazing!

Apple_Cranberry_Chicken_Soup

Apple Cranberry Chicken Soup with Avocado
Yield: 4 servings

3 cups chicken broth (homemade or store-bought)
1/2 onion, sliced
1 clove garlic
1 small apple, peeled, cored and diced
handful of fresh cranberries
2 cups roasted chicken, chopped
1 tsp thai red curry powder
1 cup milk
1 fresh avocado, sliced

Start out by boiling the chicken stock.  Add the apple, cranberries, onion and garlic and simmer on med-high heat for 10-15 minutes.  Pour the mixture into a blender or use an immersion blender to puree until smooth.  Add the chicken, thai red curry and the milk and simmer on low for another 10 minutes.  Slice the avocado thinly and top each bowl with 1/4 of the slices.

Dig in.  Enjoy the fresh, mildly sweet flavours and don’t forget to share!  I’m on Instagram and Twitter (@kimducherer), Facebook, and Pinterest – follow along.  Enjoy the snow, Kim.

Apple_Cranberry_Chicken_Soup

 

Remembrance Day – I Remember

There’s been a lot of controversy lately over Christmas decorations coming out right after the Halloween decorations have come down.  I don’t really have an opinion on it the because if you remember what Remembrance Day is all about, it doesn’t matter anyway.  I don’t take down my fall decorations and put up my Christmas decorations based on what the big box stores are doing, I do it based on my schedule and what I feel is important.

That also means I don’t allow what the commercial market is doing to overshadow one of the most important days of the year for all Canadians; Remembrance Day.  This day means so much to so many of us because without what our ancestors did, we may not have all the rights and freedoms we enjoy today.

Remembrance Day signifies the initial agreement to the ending of the first world war on November 11, 1918.  It was during the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month that the Germans and the Triple Entente (the Russian Empire, the French Republic and the Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland) signed the armistice to end WWI which began July 28, 1914.

I_Remember

People wear red poppies in remembrance because during WWI they grew across some of the most dreadful battlefields in Flanders, Belgium and their bright red colour became a symbol for the bloodshed of the war.  On May 3, 1915, a Canadian physician active in the war, Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, wrote the poem In Flanders Fields after presiding over the funeral of a friend and fellow soldier.

In Flanders Fields
by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae

In Flanders fields the poppies grow
between the crosses, row on row,
that mark our place; and in the sky
the larks, still bravely singing, fly
scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead.  Short days ago
we lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
loved and were loved, and now we lie
in Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe;
to you from failing hands we throw
the torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
we shall not sleep, though poppies grow
in Flanders fields.

As a tradition, the poem In Flanders Fields is recited during Canadian Remembrance Day ceremonies around the country and in Ottawa it is sung by choir after the Royal Canadian Air Force completes a 21-gun salute.

In 2000, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was erected at the war memorial in Ottawa and at the end of the official ceremony for the general public, people remove their poppies and place them on the tomb as a sign of respect and gratitude.  Veterans Affairs Canada recognizes the significance of this date as “remembrance for the men and women who have served, and continue to serve our country during times of war, conflict and peace”.

The majority of the younger generations will never know or understand what times of war were like.  Try to imagine sending your husband, brothers, fathers, or sons to a land divided, handing them weaponry they’ve never fired before, corresponding via letter mail, waking up each day not knowing if they’re still alive.  Left behind, your wives, mothers, sisters homes are no longer their jobs, they’re sent to work in factories with all the other bomb girls to assemble guns and ammunition in less than desirable working conditions where one slip could blow the factory sky-high.  In the countries of war, your backfields become battlefields and your lives are turned upside down.  No where to call home, no one to enjoy it with.  Makes no cell phone reception seem incredibly minuscule doesn’t it?

To learn and know this history and pay respect to the many people that fought for our freedoms and lost their lives is something I am happy to do each and every year and I will teach the daughters about it as well.  Don’t forget about November 11, the war veterans that risked and gave their lives so their children, their grandchildren, their great-grandchildren could live without the threat of war deserve our respect and recognition.

If you see a member of our armed forces or a veteran retired from the line of duty, please thank them and on November 11, at 11 am please observe 2 minutes of silence for all the fallen that never made it home to their families.  In remembrance, Kim.

I_Remember

Martha’s Applesauce Pancakes

Applesauce pancakes?  Holla!  One of my fave people in this world is Martha Stewart.  She’s so damn crafty and has some of the most amazing ideas.  I used to subscribe to her magazine and still have every single copy in my library because I love flipping through them for inspiration every now and then.

I subscribe to her Facebook feed too so when I saw these pancakes come up I knew I had to try them.  I used to despise pancakes when I was little, waffles I loved, but pancakes were my nemesis.  My sister loved them so we were usually at breakfast odds when she got to choose what we were eating.  I hated having flour lumps in my pancakes – that was the one thing that really made me dislike them – so when I found these pancakes I was pleasantly surprised after making them because the batter is mixed thoroughly and they cook up more like a crepe.  I never really understood the whole “don’t overmix the pancake batter, it should be lumpy” cookbook instructions because if it’s lumpy that means there’s unmixed ingredients in there.  I understand if you overmix something the leavening agent can be overworked and then they won’t rise as much but personally, I’d rather have a slightly less fluffy pancake than one with a nasty lump of flour or baking powder in it.

That concludes my flour-lump speech for the day.  My point is that if you’re looking for a really thick, fluffy pancake don’t make these because these aren’t them.  They’re more of a dense, moist pancake that I eat with nothing on top.  They have a really amazing smell and fruity flavour and there’s nothing better than to eat them hot off the griddle.

Applesauce_Pancakes

The original recipe is on Martha Stewart’s website.  It calls for Martha’s Pink Applesauce but I had some blueberry applesauce I wanted to try instead so I substituted that as well as the butter for coconut oil because it adds to the flavour profile nicely.  I usually half this recipe because I like the pancakes fresh so the halved recipe is posted below.  I found an easy way to make these is to just mix all the ingredients in my blender so I save myself some dishes.  I do enough of those already with 2 kids and a husband so I like to save myself the work whenever I can.

Applesauce Pancakes
Yield: 10 medium size pancakes

1 egg
1 cup milk
1/3 cup applesauce (one small container of a kids flavoured applesauce is what I use)
2 tbsp melted coconut oil or butter
1 cup flour
1 & 1/2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt

Combine all the ingredients in order in your blender and mix on low until combined (usually 30 seconds max).  If you prefer to use a mixing bowl then combine all the dry ingredients in one bowl, the wet ingredients in another and mix them together.

Cook over med-high heat on a non-stick pan or pancake griddle and enjoy!  Happy Fall Y’all!  Kim.