{a NEW mini-series: “How I live a creative life,” featuring five personal tips from Gussy // tip #1}

last week i asked the question, “how do you live a creative life?” and had five blog friends share their unique perspectives along with a few tips/challenges for you to consider for your life. see the five guest posts here: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

some of the perspectives included creating more structure, being open to a messy/adventurous life, framing everyday occurrences in a beautiful way, and living with less to receive more from life. each perspective was powerful for me and i’m hoping you felt the same way. i know how easy it is to feel discouraged, whether from a professional standpoint — “i won’t ever be at that level with my career/that’s a dream i’ll never achieve”, or from a creative standpoint — “nothing i do is good enough anymore”.

here’s my challenge: stop feeling that way and start believing in yourself. find the charm in NOT knowing how to be discouraged so you never feel discouraged. when i look back ~ some of my bravest moments were from a time in my life when i didn’t know how to not be brave. being brave is a powerful action and what’s truly amazing is we can all be brave, this doesn’t require a college education or money or the right outward appearance. being brave is a wick waiting to be lit, and you hold the match.

but guess what i’ve learned? to live a creative life i have to be brave, and my guess is that applies to you, too.

last week we heard from five guest bloggers on how they live a creative life. all this week i’m going to share with you five tips on *living* a creative life ~ different applications i currently use and how they’ve transformed my mindset into something incredibly inspiring and freeing.

are you ready? :D

* * *

tip #1: cook delicious meals

three weeks ago i come home from a weekend with friends at the Nester’s. i had known for some time that Nester liked to create a simple weekly dinner menu but i didn’t quite get what that meant until our little Party at the Nest weekend of amazing amazing-ness ;D

but i get it now! once i was back home i took about 20 minutes to pick out a few meals that required similar ingredients so i wouldn’t have wasted food/ingredients at the end of the week. then i cooked these meals for my people {zack + alyssa, our cuz}, they were utterly delicious, AND I FELT GIGANTIC AMOUNTS OF HAPPINESS! and as the weeks passed i continued to feel super happy, which made me even happier to be cooking dinner.

suddenly i was really excited to step away from work for the evening and spend time in the kitchen cooking dinner. i bring my laptop into the kitchen ~ i turn on french-inspired music. i gather all the ingredients for the dish, most of which come from the fridge which makes me feel super great. fresh ingredients, sooo tasty! and then i reference the recipe on my laptop while i’m cooking.

zack usually is home from work by now and so we share our day with one another while i’m continue to make dinner. then everything goes to the dining room and we sit down and share even more.

cooking a delicious meal has been transformational in nearly every area of my life: my need to feel creative, my need to be nourished, my need to feel accomplished, my need for rest, my need for inspiration. basically, i’m working towards putting my best self forward.

up until a few weeks ago i more often than not felt discouraged with cooking dinner. i knew i liked to cook but i wasn’t liking what i cooked often enough. leaving my studio or desk to then work in the kitchen — unsatisfied! — wasn’t something i looked always forward to. and because i wasn’t excited about cooking i wasn’t eating healthy, i wasn’t getting enough rest {cooking is really calming + relaxing for me} and i wasn’t feeling inspired to produce good work once it was time to work. my creativity was really low and i knew that was really bad. i needed to find a change.

cooking has been a total full-circle experience for me and it revolves completely around our need to be nourished {and nourished well} while allowing me to be creative in a totally new way.

now, i must add that once i start dinner in the evening i don’t go back to work once dinner is over, which has really helped me continue to rest into the evening. i know this may not work for everyone, and there was a stretch of time when i had to work evenings to stay caught up, but right now it’s been a great motivational tool to help me stay focused during the day so i can have a work-free evening.



HOW ABOUT YOU? what’s your take on cooking dinner, do you love it or hate it? do you have a favorite cookbook? is cooking relaxing for you? what would help you to enjoy dinner time more if you don’t enjoy it right now? share with us below…

Comments

  1. 1

    says

    I think you know how I feel about cooking dinner! It is almost my favorite part of the day! The hubs tries to help but our kitchen is too small, so I bought a sweet little green stool for him to occupy that is in the kitchen where we can talk, but out of the way of me cookin’! ;) It is a great time to unwind and I have to focus on nothing but the food so I know it will turn out how I want. I use it to focus and get in the zone for the rest of the evening (which involves me working on my signs and whatnot after my 9-5er). Preparing a meal and then eating it together is so IMPORTANT to our relationship as well! It gives us a complete hour together every day that (usually) isn’t interrupted by phone calls, computer checks or twitter. ;) Definitely a great way to keep in love, focused and motivated (not to mention full of yummy food!) xoxo

    • 2

      says

      hubs and i will sit at the table for a few hours after the kids leave the table and talk and connect. i love that you have a stool for him to sit on. that’s awesome. i have dinner ready when he walks in the door. not sure why that is, it’s just always been that way! yes we leave our phones (iPhones) away from the table.

    • 5

      says

      i love so many things about your comment, skye! love that you have a little seat for your man to rest while you prepare dinner, love that you use dinner time as another way to have time with your man — it’s like a daily date ♥ !!! thanks so much for sharing a bit about how you incorporate mealtime into your daily life!!!

      • 6

        says

        Skye, oh how I love Pastor’s wives. Yes, true, your man is on call ALL. THE. TIME! I leave my phone in the car when we go out to eat etc, cuz I’m not as important or on call like my man either. LOL. He’s a bossman so he has his with him a lot too.

  2. 8

    says

    i normally love to cook but then there are nights that hubs works late & the kids and i are happy with just a bowl of cereal. my oldest is gluten free, has been for almost 3 years. so i always make gluten free dinners that we all can eat unless it’s pasta night, then i make 2 different kinds. there was a learning curve in this diet, but now it’s life.

    i cooked a lot this weekend since it was easter. i had to learn how to make my husband’s grandma’s apple pie before we got married. 15 years later, his grandma has mother have since passed, it’s perfected and i’m the only one that can make it.

    my favorite things to cook are desserts & soups.

    i use allrecipes.com and i have a recipe box on the sight and i use several recipes consistently.

    if i have a recipe, i can make anything!

    • 9

      says

      mealtime looks different for everyone ~ that’s for sure! even though we have different visions i appreciate that you took some time to share with us what yours looks like :) we can all learn from each other and there are probably other women that need a little nudge of encouragement that it IS possible to create two different types of meals nearly every day. what a great support you are for your family to do this for them!!!!

      “if i have a recipe, i can make anything!” ~ that’s pretty much my motto, too! i used to try and wing recipes with basic ingredients we had on hand but i never ended up liking them. they were too simple and i wasn’t impressed, hah! cooking has given me tons of little tips on how to make a simple meal spectacular — i love that!!!

    • 10

      says

      My other half is gluten free and I think his allergy has motivated me to be a more adventurous cook. In the past few years I’ve gone from hating cooking (and pretending I didn’t know how in order to avoid it) to enjoying cooking and having the confidence to experiment a bit in the kitchen.

      This year I made our meal for Easter. Not only was it my first holiday preparing a meal, but I made it gluten friendly for Shane. I have had such a huge boost of confidence since setting everything out on the table yestereday (still hot, nothing burnt) and knowing that my whole family enjoyed the meal and for once Shane didn’t feel a bit left out because he had to eat gluten free!

      • 11

        says

        Kasey, that is awesome! I’m sure he’s so thankful for your commitment to the diet & your devotion for cooking properly for him. It’s a tough diet for sure! I tried to do the breads & cakes but I order them from a bakery that is close to me & I freeze it all and have it on hand. Including pizzas. My son is 12 and he’s very careful about what he eats. He has a wheat allergy so it’s not full blown celiacs disease which is very serious!

        • 12

          says

          Shane has the allergy – not celiacs – too! I’m a terrible baker and am much happier to give up bread with him rather than try to bake it. (I don’t have a gluten free bakery option near by.) However, my grandmother recently gave us a bread maker (yard sale find!) and Shane loves to experiment with it. We had some very good itanlian season and parmesan cheese bread recently.

          I’d love to hear how your son deals with social events like birthday parties [people seem to get offended when Shane says he can’t have cake] holidays, etc.

          • 13

            says

            i use to order bread from sami’s bakery in florida. their bakery is online. my son loved it. and then the one close by opened and i go there. the bakery is also specializes in gf cake and cupcakes, so i buy dozens at a time & freeze them, then when we go for parties, i take one with. if the party or gathering is having pizza, i throw a gf pizza in the oven and take it with us too. if we have dinner plans with friends at their house, i call ahead and find out what they are having and i bring something similar for my son.

            if in a crunch and i have forgotten his gf goodies, then i allow him to have a small piece of cake if he chooses. he knows how gluten makes him feel so most of the time he avoids it.

        • 15

          says

          Well it was [mostly] true! I didn’t get good at cooking until I enjoyed it. But I may have exaggerated my inability to boil water, preheat an oven, or you know make mashed potatoes (they are SO finiky, can’t we just roast the potatoes?!)

          To this day I am not very good at chopping veggies and am the VERY LAST person you would like to help you with a veggie platter, chopping onions, or dealing with any kind of pepper ;D

          I have learned from both my [very hard working and very accomplished] parents that if you do not want to be called upon to do something don’t master the skill. My mother will never be responsible for setting up the DVD player [because 3 remotes is just way more then she wants to learn] and my father will never be asked to type anything up though the man spends ALL DAY at a computer.

  3. 16

    says

    I don’t always love cooking but I love what cooking brings: family togetherness. We stop. We look at each other’s faces. I’ve been working on keeping a menu plan and I find I’m much more restful about dinner when I’ve actually PLANNED it. Thanks for the tip!
    Catherine Denton

  4. 18

    says

    Wow! This post was so inspiring! I love to cook too, but so often I feel caught by life and unable to get a handle on cooking and eating healthy. You’ve inspired me to start planning again and to focus on staying productive throughout the day. Thanks!
    Alesha <3

    • 19

      says

      …right?! if i’m not prepared to cook dinner then i am miserable the rest of the night! sadly, that’s really true. i like to find similar recipes so if i need green onion, for example, for one recipe i can use the rest of the green onion for a second recipe. that way we use it all up and i don’t have to throw out wilted green onion a week later because we didn’t use it.

      buying/eating fresh produce can be tricky because it usually comes in larger quantities but i think i’ve found a way around this. good luck this week! start out simple, plan 2-3 meals and check back with us — share how you did! :D

  5. 22

    says

    I constantly struggle with making dinner. I have been working retail for quite awhile and after standing on my feet for 8 hours, the last thing I want to do is stand in a kitchen after work. Now I have a new baby and toddler in tow and it is challenging to get anything done, really. Dinner is pretty much thrown together and simply as possible these days.

    • 23

      says

      what about baking fresh bread on saturday or sunday {or any day!} like Nester does (see her post here) and then you can add to it soup, stew, hearty salads, grilled wraps, etc.? you could buy grilled chicken breasts from the store and cut it up/add it to salads. or you could use the meat for stew, or add fresh salsa and chicken and lettuce and avocado to make a grilled wrap?

      you know your schedule and family life best. what things would be super easy AND super tasty? my man likes to have meat with every meal so i know that’s important when meal planning. usually i wash + cut up lettuce for a salad at the start of the week. then every night it takes like 2 minutes to throw together a few yummy salads to accompany our meals. i have craisens, feta, sliced almonds, raspberry vinaigrette dressing on hand at all times. avocado, crewtons, nuts (almonds, pecans, walnuts), fresh fruit (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, peaches) would be tasty as add-ons, too!

      how about using your crock pot more? if you made bread at the start of your week and had a salad prepared this would help put dinner together quickly.

      or what if you grilled more often? that’s pretty healthy. you could marinate the meat before going into work and then toss the meat on the grill once you’re home? the kids can play in the yard while the grill is on and then everyone inside QUICK for a super tasty dinner :)

      i guess what i’m trying to say is keep the focus on what works best for your family and work with that. good luck + thanks so much for leaving a comment!!! xoxo

  6. 24

    says

    I absolutely adore cooking and baking. I think it’s such a fun way to express creativity. When I bake, it’s fun to focus on the “science” of making something beautiful, and when I cook, I like experimenting. For me, my time in the kitchen has become like time in the shower or making copies (I’m a teacher): I come up with some of my most creative ideas when I’m doing it! It’s a fun way to focus on something else and let my mind wander.

    P.S. I’m loving your creative life series!

    • 25

      says

      oh my goodness, yes! i love quiet activities like cooking where i can think about other ideas or events. i’m so glad you commented because i forgot that’s another reason why i’ve come to love cooking more :)

      …or when i’m ironing. i love the repetition of tasks like this — they are super for coming up with ideas. same for in the shower, hah! ;)

      thank you SO MUCH for commenting! xo

  7. 26

    says

    I LOVE to cook! For me, it’s very a therapeutic time. Nothing like destressing over chopping veggies! I get paid once a month at my job (totally stinks), but my husband gets paid every 2 weeks, so I usually sit on the Saturday after his paycheck and go through the blog recipes and pins that I have accumulated over time and pick out 2 weeks worth of meals – usually with input from my daughter. Then I take those recipes and put them in a folder on my computer. I make a grocery list with the ingredients I need and do a quick pantry and bathroom closet/laundry closet check to see if I need any staples. I pin the menu to the fridge and then the night before or in the AM I ask my family which meal they want to eat that day. It has REALLY helped keep my grocery bill down because I don’t buy things I don’t need and it takes the “crap, it’s 5:00 and I have no idea what to cook for supper today” off my stressors list. And because it’s 13 meals, plus usually a pizza night, we have a wide variety to choose from. I also try to make sure that the meals I choose include several REALLY EASY ones for the nights I am just not as inclined to make anything that’s real time consuming.

    I loved your post today. I hope you continue to find joy in the kitchen! :)

  8. 27

    says

    Cooking is so therapeutic for me! I don’t always cook every night though because I’m either not home or I don’t want to eat leftovers for a week. But this year I’m getting a partial CSA share so I’ll be cooking more and using better, fresher ingredients consistently. I keep thinking that I need to halve recipes so I’ll only have one or two portions. This might be the motivation I needed, Maggie!

    • 28

      says

      i’ve started halving recipes, too! it’s ridiculous how helpful it is — i have to make the full batch anyway, might as well half it and save it for later so it tastes better! :)

  9. 29

    says

    I need to be inspired to cook. In the summer, I just want to have a turkey sandwich and fruit for supper! It’s already so warm out and cooking is the last thing I want to do…but we’ve still got to eat…and try to eat healthy. I’m going to try a new recipe or 2 this week and see how it goes!

    As always, thanks for the positive attitude!!!!! :)

    xoxoxo

  10. 30

    says

    Menu-planning for me usually takes a little longer, but I’m so glad when I’ve made the decision earlier in the week, and can just go and cook. Yum!

  11. 32

    says

    I love this post! In the past I have literally hated cooking. I liked nothing about it besides being able to sit down as a family and eat. But as I found more and more recipes and found that if I’m actually focusing on the process of cooking instead of thinking of the million and one other things I need to be doing – that I actually do like it. I like preparing meals and hearing my husband and boys say “This is so good.” It makes it all worth it.

    We use to be really good about eating dinner as a family – but lately hubby has been working late so it’s just the boys & I and Hubby eats when he gets home but during that time I still sit and talk with him about his day and how work went and vise versa. It’s so relaxing to just sit and talk as a family or with just the hubs and I – to share a meal together. I love the togetherness of it. :)

  12. 33

    says

    I totally get what you are saying about being nourished by the food we cook. I also love using fresh ingredients. But I get in funks, with kids they don’t always want to eat the healthy good stuff I crave to make and eat, I refuse to be a short order cook, and I also refuse to do the hotdog, Mac and cheese, chick nuggets all.the.time.
    It becomes a game of balance in our house. I’m the cook and the planner and the shopper, but I also want my kids to have a healthy love for food, not because they had to eat it…
    I am so Minnesotan, I love me some hot dish! But when it comes to summer, I love salads. And grilled, just about, anything! I’ve been watching you…I heart PW and her meals SPEAK to me, or rather call to my stomach in the dead of night! I also love everyday food, that has great recipes…or pinterest…
    I am going to have to introduce you to Chiati Grill’s bruschetta. It is to.die.for! Course I’m not brave enough to try and replicate it, so I just go eat it there!
    Happy Monday, and good eating!

  13. 35

    says

    PS – put your left over green onion bulbs in some water near a window. If you make sure to keep changing the water they’ll be very happy for a week or two!

    • 36

      says

      Not where I meant this comment to appear…oh dear. Well if anyone else has issues with left over green onions this is my personal solution!

  14. 37

    says

    Thank you for posting this! I can relate. My husband works swing, it’s just me and the kids. I default to lazy quite a bit. What’s funny is, my son will always ask “what’s for dinner?” when he gets in the car after school. I think there is security there for them as well as me.

    I have a tendency to always feel like I *should* be working, because I never feel productive enough during the day. I am always saying it and then I burn out and my husband burns out listening (my creative work and my real job are both from home). Turning work off after dinner is awesome!

    The Nester talking about ordering groceries online – brilliant! It is only $3.95 extra if I time it right. NO BRAINER. Delivered to my door.

    • 38

      says

      just recently i stopped letting others tell me what i should or should not be doing with my business. sounds silly — may sound a bit childish to know i had to take back that responsibility — but it’s the honest truth. i don’t have to work in the evenings just as much as i don’t have to be on twitter or facebook all day. ohhh girl, i could write a whole post just on what i should or should not be doing, sort of a follow up to what i wrote here :: whose path are you on?. i’ve become really passionate lately about doing things that work well for us individually verses what works well for the industry as a whole.

      working a lot verses working well during work hours are two different things, and i’m super thankful to know the difference. xoxo!

      • 39

        says

        I read that one. I think it started the whole process for me, then the consultation with you, etc… my sister-in-law and I call it *The Should*. You Should do this, you Should do that, the other one we talked about was *because that is the way it has always been done*. There is no more *should*. Just *doing*. Living a *Should-Free* life. Now there’s a post for you! LOL.

        I’m terrible, I feel like I need to get permission, THEN it is a valid idea. This is not the same as seeking advice, it’s after I’ve researched/read, etc, I am so not a trigger-puller. It’s not childish, I think it is something so many of us struggle with.

        working a lot verses working well – amen.

  15. 41

    says

    I am not much of a cook to be honest the kitchen has always intimidated me. I was blessed when I married my hubby he has been working as a cook for 12 years (but he just recently changed careers) so has done most of the cooking. We have found over the years that he would not really feel like cooking after cooking all day for hundreds of people so we would resort to eating junky food or eating out both were not healthy. We were nothing feeling yuck physically, had low energy, and had little motivation to do our daily routines.

    Recently we have made a few changes to our diet. We have also made a change to our grocery shopping technique we are now purchasing our meat in bulk and portioning it into meal sizes and freeze it. This has been very important and helpful for us because now we are able to look in the freezer and decide what we want to eat a couple days before pull it out and allow it to defrost. We shop for produce weekly which allows us to ensure we aren’t throwing things away because it’s gone bad we have scheduled this trip to the grocery store into our weekly schedule which has seemed to work well for use because it’s a quick stop into the store. The other things we have been doing that has worked for us is to prepare some meals on the weekend that are freezer friendly and put them in the freezer for those nights when we need a quick meal or don’t feel like cooking. These changes have made a world of difference for us to be honest we have saved a large amount of money because we aren’t eating out, we feel energized and we have even lost some weight (unexpected bonus!).

    Oh the other things we do is find meals that can be prepared in 30 minutes or less (not including cook time) we found when we had meals planned that took longer we wouldn’t make them.

  16. 43

    says

    Cooking is so wonderful! I love the simplicity of making a big batch of soup on the weekends and then heating it for lunch during the week. So healthy and satisfying. In the summer I make cold salads and it’s just so nice to have “real” food (I don’t consider sandwiches as real food. I never feel full when I eat them and end up gorging on snacks afterward) all the time and for a fraction of the cost. Yum!

  17. 47

    says

    I love being in the kitchen, but best thing I have ever started has to be menu planning!

    Our kitchen looks into the rest of the house, so I am still connected to the monkeys while I’m prepping. My hubby and kids like it too, since they snatch veggies as I chop. I’ve gotten into the habit of chopping extra for them to swipe. :)

    Seeing a beautiful plate of nourishing food makes me super happy and knowing all of us are getting a good meal isn’t bad either!

  18. 48

    says

    My mister is so amazing in the kitchen, that I rarely try to cook for fear that it will never be as amazing as what he could toss together. But I have wanted to learn how he can just toss things together & know that those flavors will combine to something magical. Of course I’ve been making an effort to be his sous chef so I can learn from him, probably asking more questions than a 5 year old too! If I’m going to help out with the cooking when he starts college full-time, I have to start learning some time. So now sounds pretty good to me!

    Baking is my specialty, which the mister won’t touch…but since we are looking to lose some weight (for health reasons) that isn’t something I can do every day, even if I had the time.

  19. 49

    says

    Recently because of the weather being warmer our weekends have been really busy, so for the past few Friday evenings i have been coming in from work and preapring a large meal in the slow cooker (crock pot for the US peeps) last week it was a chicken curry (recipe i will be posting on my blog next week) and the week before was Beef Stew. I cook it over night on the setting that cooks from high to low and the meal lasts for saturday and sunday for the 3 of us. No cooking on the weekends, for lunches i usually do wraps containing chicken and salad and cut up some fruit.

    I read a great post recently about setting up snack stations http://www.snack-girl.com/snack/snack-station/

Trackbacks

  1. […] I’m really beginning to think that some of the blogging geniuses are reading my mind. Before Erin, there was Gussy with the start of her new mini series about living a creative life. Last week she invited some amazing blogging friends of her’s over to share how they live their creative lives. I have to say that I really learned a lot & started thinking about how I could make a few tweaks to my way of doing things to prepare for when I reach my dreams. This week, Gussy has been sharing a tip a day on how to live a creative life. She is actually what got me to thinking about learning to cook, thanks to this post. […]

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