May DIY + Business Book Club + Giveaway – 2015

May DIY and business book club on Dear Handmade LifeLately I’ve been thinking a lot about being present and how busyness is the arch enemy of presence. Being truly present is something that I have a hard time with. I’m pretty much always doing something and usually I’m doing several things at once. When I walk my dog in the morning I’m normally also catching up with friends on the phone. While I’m driving I listen to podcasts. Dinnertime often doubles as a chance to get caught up with TV shows. It’s rare that I’m ever just sitting and doing nothing else.

Being present in the moment is such a struggle for me that I made presence my word of the year for 2015. The last few months have been a blur of just trying to get through our next big event and mostly ignoring my word of the year. I always fall prey to thinking that as soon as one of our events is over I’ll take time to recover and recharge. I forget about all the wrap-up work. I also fail to recall that the spring is our busiest time of the year and that as soon as one event is over, we’re jumping right into the next one.

I know full well that a busy mind leaves no space for creative thoughts or innovative ideas. If your mind is occupied, there’s no room for new concepts to fit. I know how important downtime is not only to recharge but also to make space to analyze the present, plan for the future and birth new ideas. I know all of this… yet I still need a reminder more often than I’d like to admit.

Last night I was reminded of how important time for reflection and presence is for creatives. Several of my chef friends (including my husband) had been raving about a new show on Netflix called The Chef’s Table. I’d been avoiding watching it, thinking that it would be another cutthroat competition show or a program that just made me feel bummed out that I wasn’t a famous chef who got to travel the world eating and drinking with interesting people in strange places. The first few minutes of The Chef’s Table forced all of my objections out the window.

The show is shot beautifully with slow up-close shots of dishes that force you to realize that cooking is truly a form of fine art. I watched the episode where Nikki Nakayama owner of n/naka in Los Angeles talked about her relationship to food, her path to finally creating the kinds of dishes that feed her soul and how imperative the relationship that her customers had with her food and her restaurant was to her. I was also super excited to see Delilah’s bestie Evan Kleiman being interviewed and talking about Nikki’s cuisine. I’m absolutely NOT a chef and I don’t express myself through food BUT listening to Nikki talk about her artistic process, coming to terms with her passion and truly owning and embracing her art was awesome and universal. Anyone who creates something whether it’s an event, a handmade product, a meal, a story, a business or anything that is a product of your heart, soul and intellect coming together to create something to share with the world understands the importance of balance, passion, originality, determination, self-awareness and innovation. Without taking time out for all of those things you won’t be able to make it happen.

We all have the same amount of hours in each day and yet some people seem to use those hours more wisely and get more done. We’re always wondering how they do it. The answer is that they just do it. They constantly do whatever needs to be done. Sometimes what needs to be done is creating a spreadsheet or accounting and sometimes it’s coming up new ideas or creating with a five-year plan or sometimes it’s taking a walk or spending the day in bed reading. If we take the time to figure out what we need and then give it to ourselves we’ll be a billion times more productive than we would be if we just went blindly into the night creating and checking things off to-do lists without putting the effort in to create thoughtful to-do lists that include essential self-care tasks.

There are tons of great books in the world that will help you do this. We’ve featured several of them in our book club. This month we’re including The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp which is the perfect title to get you started on your creative journey and being present. Tharp bridges the gap between artists, writers, chefs, dancers, entrepreneurs, makers and any other creative beings and helps all of them find presence in their lives. She reminds of how important it is to take the time to observe the world and ourselves. If (like me) you struggle with being present or you just want to recharge your creative process, this book is a must! If you’re ready to tap into your creativity and make something, our DIY titles this month will start your journey.

We’re beyond excited to feature these awesome titles this month:

1. Nature Anatomy by Julia Rothman

2. Quilters by Jo Packham

3. Modern Paper Crafts by Margaret Van Sicklen

4. Famous Frocks: The Little Black Dress by Dolin Bliss O’Shea

5. The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp

Good news for you… we’re giving four of these away!

-Nicole S.

To enter the contest:

If you want to win four of these books: Nature Anatomy, Quilters, Modern Paper Crafts and Famous Frocks: The Little Black Dress just leave a comment on this post telling us about what you do to feel more present or how you care for your creative self. Post your comment by May 22nd at midnight to be entered to win. Make sure to include your email address so we can get your address and ship you some lovely things to read.

The contest is now closed. Congrats to our winner Brittany!

May DIY and business book club on Dear Handmade Life May DIY and business book club on Dear Handmade Life May DIY and business book club on Dear Handmade Life May DIY and business book club on Dear Handmade Life


  1. I care for my creative self by journaling.Long walks in the park also help me recharge my batteries.

  2. I think the most important thing I do to be present is to turn off my phone entirely while I’m trying to focus on a task. It’s so simple, but that’s my biggest distraction. My voicemail fills up sometimes, but I need the freedom of taking off my digital leash.

    And since my friends are a huge source of creative inspiration for me, fitting in time for even a quick 5 minute call always recharges my creative battery.

  3. I think stepping away from a project does my creative self so much good. My craft is my outlet so I have to make sure that it is still fun and I am not burning out because of frustration. Even if it is just walking my dog around the block for 15 minutes or getting a cup of tea, just the act of getting up for a moment clears my head and often presents new solutions.

  4. I have tried to be gentler with myself, and not require something productive every moment! If I feel like a 60 minute bath with my latest book, I’ll give that to myself. I always have to remember to be as gentle with myself as I would be with a friend. Self-care for me is permission…

    Shine on!

    PS My birthday is the 21st; what a wonderful gift these books would make! (but no pressure!lol)

  5. My favorite method of recharging my creative self is to go hiking or for a run even if I have little time. I also try to journal every day and read whenever I have time! Reading is almost therapeutic for me because I can take a step back from the busy world.

  6. Something about a trip to a new place or a hike in a forest do wonders to inspire my soul to write something new.

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