Inspiration is a funny thing. It can come from anywhere, any time and relate to pretty much anything that you want to be inspired about. People ask me all the time where I get my inspiration for all of my stamp designs and products and home decor and project ideas. This is such a difficult question to answer because inspiration truly is everywhere. The font, the shape, the color, the phrase, the texture, the composition…opportunities to be inspired are literally all around us.
However, if you like to create like I do then you know that inspiration can sometimes allude us. Rarely do fabulous ideas (from anyone) come 100% from our own heads. I don’t magically get amazing ideas popping into my mind out of the blue – in fact, if someone told me that the opposite was true for them I wouldn’t believe it for a second. Great ideas are always influenced by the sights and sounds we experience, the tastes and smells we take in or the things we see and touch. “New” inventions always stand on the shoulders of giants as they simply take an idea further and into unexplored territory.
That is what’s great about creativity – there will never be a shortage of fresh ways to look at something to create something new. Just when I think I have run out of ideas, I see something that sparks a thought in my head and sends me down a different artistic road. Allowing ourselves to be inspired gives us the jumping-off points needed to design the life we love.
As you know, I am not your go-to gal for cooking or baking ideas. Not my creative territory. But I am very inspired by others who are good in the kitchen (click here for my friend Brooke’s new gig as “Chef Mom” on sheknows.com). About a month ago I was sitting at the kitchen counter while my friend, Angie whipped up a ham and cheese braided bread thing for her family’s dinner. As I watched her, it actually looked easy enough for me to try and I was inspired enough to make a trip to the grocery store for the few ingredients needed to get the job done. (note: these photos are after we already ate half of our meal since I didn’t know I wanted to write this post till the next day.)
Here’s what she did:
1. Roll out a defrosted loaf of Rhode’s dough into a rectangle shape – place it on a greased baking sheet.
2. Using kitchen shears, make cuts down the two sides of the dough about every inch or so (here’s a sketch to get the idea):
3. Spread Thousand Island dressing down the middle of the dough.
4. Layer sliced ham and cheese down the middle of the dough. Top with sliced tomatoes.
5. Now comes the part that sounds tricky but actually is very easy: fold the end of the dough up over the top of the ingredients. Next, take one dough strip and fold it up and over the top of the ingredients and do the same with a strip from the other side. Keep criss-crossing dough strips up and over the top of the ham and cheese so that it creates a braided look. Finish off the other end of the dough by folding it up and over the ingredients before securing it with the final two strips of dough.
6. Cook it for about 20-25 minutes at 350 for a tasty meal.
OK, now here’s the thing. She told me that she got this recipe from a friend but that it actually called for pastrami and sauerkraut. Since her family likes ham and cheese instead, she adapted it to fit her needs.
I made it just like she did.
Jason is not a fan of Thousand Island dressing.
He didn’t like that part of the recipe.
So I adapted it again.
This time, when I made it last night, I mixed mayo and mustard together and spread it on my dough first. Then I added my ham and cheese and tomato slices.
Jason, my ham-lover, said, “So this is really just like an awesome ham sandwich?”
Yep. Adapted twice so that it no longer even resembled the original pastrami and sauerkraut recipe except that you braid a loaf of bread around the ingredients.
Although I know that this is not the most earth-shattering dinner idea you have ever heard of, it is still creativity in action. This is how inspiration works to create something new.
So, when you think that you might be in an “idea funk” and feel like you aren’t creative, remember that most artists don’t either. They just recycle old ideas and present them in a new way or apply them in a new situation. They see their inspiration differently – and we call it creativity. So why can’t everyone fit into this category? This is one time that I am going to encourage you to label yourself. Tell yourself, “I am inspired, therefore I am creative.”
Whether it is choosing a paint color for the bedroom, sewing a fabric flower for a headband, making dinner, figuring out the best parenting skills to use, or crafting a scrapbook page, we have the opportunity to glean from the ideas of others. To tweak them and change them to fit our needs or our stash of supplies, our personality or our budget, until we end up with our own creative version of that original idea. This is what I love about inspiration.
What are you going to fill your bread braid with? Go ahead. Inspire us.