Meet the Author
Hey there, can you introduce yourself?
Tell us a bit about the book?
Handmade Gatherings is a book about seasonal, collaborative entertaining. In other words, potlucks! The book contains 16 gatherings, 4 for each season. Every gathering focuses on a particular seasonally available food item, look, and feel. In addition to recipes, there are also suggestions for crafts/activities and decor for guests to do together. This way, a host can have a beautiful, bountiful get-together without being the sole individual responsible for pulling it off, both in terms of finances and labor. The projects involved are simple yet lovely seasonally themed concepts. For instance, at the "Apples to Apples" potluck (all about, yes, apples!), guests will each bring an apple-based sweet or savory dish to share. Then I offer a suggestion and how-to for creating apple pomanders at the gathering, to adorn the feasting table and dining areas, as well as for making your own spice blend sachet to use in hot apple cider. Guests will contribute to the food, as well as bring apples and spices for the crafts/projects. It's shared responsibility/shared entertaining, and people really seem to bring their A-game to that concept!
What was the inspiration behind it?
My husband Glenn and I love to entertain, and I've been entertaining, as well as potlucking, since junior high school (my debut potluck was a New Kids On the Block potluck, wherein guests arrived dressed as their favorite New Kid, bearing their favorite New Kid's purported favorite food; later, for senior prom, I hosted a potluck at my house before our motley crew of rag-tag eccentrics headed to the formal prom). We also cook with a seasonal focus. Uniting those loves of seasonal cooking and collaborative entertaining in book form just made sense, and so "Handmade Gatherings" was born!
Which is your favourite project?
Oh, goodness. What a difficult choice! I loved them all so much. Three immediately come to mind. Dyeing eggs with patterned silks in "The Good Egg" gathering caused such excitement and elation in the children when the silks were removed and the transferred pattern was revealed. Making corsages and boutonnieres with wild foraged botanicals in "Wild Things" (a gathering focused on wild foraged edibles and decor) was so very beautiful. Lastly, the gift exchange and signs made for the cakewalk at the "Southern Comfort" gathering really brought out the creativity of the guests (and the dancing and antics that appeared during the cakewalk itself were hilarious!).
What is your craft space like?
My writing space is all over my house, quite literally. I work on my laptop, and might be found writing at our dining room table, outside on our patio, in a rocking chair out on our covered porch, in bed at night, in front of the wood stove at my 3 year-old son's "little guy" table when it's cold outside-like I said, everywhere! I do have a "real" desk, upstairs in our guest room/craft room/office. I also write there sometimes, but find I like the flexibility of being able to work in whatever space my mood and the weather dictates (upstairs is often cold in the winter, as our home is heated by a wood stove and warm in summer, as we don't have central a.c. in our 1930's bungalow).
Have you always been creative?
I have been interested in food for as long as I can remember. I began baking around age 7. My long-suffering mother choked down many a dry petit fours and barely edible cookie as I was discovering the pleasures of the kitchen and oven. In tandem with a longstanding culinary interest, I've been preoccupied with home decor and entertaining forever. I constantly tweaked and curated my bedrooms as a child. Even when quite young, I could walk into my room and immediately tell if someone had been there, as I had everything very deliberately placed just so. As a high school student, I became interested in school theater, as well as journalism, for the school's newspaper. I also engaged in a number of "renegade" or "rogue" art projects in school, like writing notable quotes and sayings in permanent black marker on the women's bathroom stall doors, or making wild collages and posting them in public places at school, watching to see how people would react (I did all of these things anonymously). So, I suppose you could say I've been nurturing my creative side for some time now!
When did you first start crafting?
I still have a challenging time thinking of myself as a "crafter." Which is to say, the type of crafting I enjoy most primarily forgoes the use of things like glue guns, sewing machines, or glitter. I love natural, simple crafting, looking to the natural world for beauty and inspiration. To that end, I've been crafting with natural materials and repurposed materials for some time. My earliest crafting memory involves using a hammer and nail to create a holiday motif on a used canning lid, transforming it into a Christmas tree ornament!
Who are your crafty heroes?
Martha Stewart has long been a favorite of mine. Ever since she became a grandmother, she seems to have especially taken an interest in more natural crafting, recipes, and decor, which I very much resonate with. I also love Amanda Soule, who blogs at www.soulemama.com, is the founder of Taproot magazine, is a three-time author herself, and who also happens to be a personal friend. Marcie Cuff, of the blog Mossy and book "This Book Was A Tree" is a similarly nature-based/minded crafter that I adore.
Where do you find inspiration?
Outside! Truly, I look to the seasons and the materials of the natural landscape for cues, prompts, and ideas. I'm also smitten visually with the blogs www.theyardpdx.tumblr and www.localmilk.com.
What's next for you?
I have a book coming out this coming October 15th. Entitled "Quench", it's about homemade beverages, running the spectrum from alcoholic to non-alcoholic drinks. I'm quite excited about it! I'm also currently working on a book about creative ideas for food, crafts, and activities at picnics. Both books publish from Roost (the picnic book will be out in 2016). In and around all of that, I've got some ideas for children's literature, more non-fiction, a television show, and more!
Celebrate the seasons and connect with your community through parties to
throw in collaboration with your friends. Handmade Gatherings offers:
∙ 16 seasonal party ideas ∙ 52 recipes ∙ 32 crafts and activities
From the décor, to the entertainment, on down to the recipes themselves, Handmade Gatherings presents inspired suggestions for thoughtful, flavorful, festive communal dining. Here you'll find sixteen parties built around the rhythm of the seasons. Frosty winter fetes, lush springtime soirees, sultry summer get-togethers, and crisp autumn affairs--it's all here. Food, décor, crafts, and more are part of each event, all collectively assembled and executed. Throw memorable gatherings with your loved ones, enjoy the food, connect with your community, and get caught up in the splendor of it all.