Friday, October 21, 2016

2017 Tea Towel Calendar

Today I'm delighted to share the design I created for Spoonflower's 2017 Tea Towel Calendar contest.

tea towel calendar, surface pattern design, watercolor, garden, kitchen garden, Spoonflower, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

The design coordinates with my Summer Bliss fabric collection*

and it also echoes my desk calendar designs.**

2017 calendar, art print calendar, watercolor art print set, watercolor calendar, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

I created this tea towel with the intention of capturing the beauty and joy of the kitchen garden, filled with glorious bounties, rich colors and fun visitors.

I would love for you to hop over to the Spoonflower website and vote for my design. You can vote for as many designs as you like (but can only vote once). There are over 200 designs in the contest and for each voter the designs are randomly assorted; you might have to scroll a bit to find mine.

As summer comes to a close for the year this design and all that it represents is especially sweet to me. It's a good reminder to savor each day.

I hope you are finding much to savor. Have a lovely weekend!

*all of the patterns are now available in two design scales and some are available as gift wrap and even wallpaper!

**now available in both my shops

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Sketchbook Conversations -- a Chat with Jaime Haney

This week's Sketchbook Conversation is with Jaime Haney, an artist residing in the rural area of New Harmony, Indiana. She describes herself as "a mom, gardener and an artist who paints visual stories: a mix of fantasy added to fairly realistic stylings and sometimes abstract backgrounds".

Jaime is one of my early blogging friends and I'm delighted to have her here sharing her long history with sketchbooks:

I was introduced to sketchbooks as a child. I got my first one from my dad at the age of 14 for Christmas. I remember him telling me what I should do in them: always date my pages, always draw in my books or tape in drawings and anytime I had an idea to jot it down before it was gone.

sketchbooks, Sketchbook Conversations, Jaime Haney

My dad is an artist (still) and he always kept sketchbooks himself. Before I even had a sketchbook myself, I remember him showing me his drawings going back to his childhood.

To be honest, for me years sometimes go by without me sketching in my books. In all the years I’ve drawn in a sketchbook (31 years!) I only have 3. 

sketchbooks, Jaime Haney, Sketchbook Conversations

My dad was committed to drawing in his constantly and I always kinda felt guilty about not being that way myself. I guess it didn’t bother me too much, because I never really picked up the daily habit. Now, I use it as a tool mostly for ideas for paintings or block prints.

sketchbook, Sketchbook Conversations, art process, Jamie Haney

Jamie Haney, Paintings, Scorpio Sun, Sketchbook ConversationsJaime Haney, Painting, Aquarius Moon

For many years I worked as a graphic designer for an ad agency. I drew out ideas on lined paper or copy paper and never put them in my sketchbooks because I just never really thought about it as MY art - that was work stuff. After work, when I went home a busy life as a wife took over and my relaxing time was spent on the couch without a sketchbook. I felt all my creativity had been drained by the agency.

After my son was born, I decided to stay home with him. I remember the exact day while I was at my mom’s house visiting her that I drew again in my sketchbook. Asher was 2. I guess the urge had been stirring because I had started to carry my sketchbook again and had it in my diaper bag. My first sketch was of my son sitting on her living room floor. Then I drew a lamp, then a corner of a fancy table, crazy faces lips and cat eyes. It was bad, but the rusty wheels started to turn again. That was 2008.

sketchbook, cartoon characters, Sketchbook Conversations, Jaime Haney

Time went by and in in February of 2011 along with a friend I met through the blogging community, I started a traveling sketchbook with 11 other artists I named it “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Sketchbooks”. We each bought a sketchbook and the idea was that once a month, we would create a spread in another’s sketchbook and then mail it on to the next person. So every month for just over a year we had a different sketchbook. We all posted about them on our various blogs. You can see my blog posts about them hereWe even shared our pages through a dedicated page on Facebook. These were more polished and finished drawings and paintings, not sketches.

Sketchbook Conversations, sketchbooks, sketches, Jaime Haney, bird sketches

Except for when I first got my sketchbook and drew a few finished drawings that filled the page, I mostly considered a sketchbook for sketching. If I’m going to make a finished drawing then I might as well do it on paper that is easy to frame or package up. I can be very practical; it’s the Taurus in me.

Jamie Haney, Sketchbook, Sketchbook Conversations, art process

Poppycock, rooster painting, poppies, Jamie Haney

In my sketchbooks I just use pencils usually, and pens. I especially like the Pilot Razor Point pens and the soft Faber Castell Design Ebony Graphic Design pencils. I keep Prisma Colors (colored pencils) handy if I want to add color. When I’m out and an idea hits me then anything is open game. I’ve used ball point pens on gum wrappers, receipts, napkins, even painted paper placemats with tea and a straw if I had something waiting to escape my mind. That’s when you tape it in with magic tape. That way the idea isn’t lost.

sketchbook, sketches, cat sketches, Jaime Haney, Sketchbook Conversations

If you're just starting out I'd give you the same advice my dad gave me. Date every drawing or sketch. Use your sketchbook as much as possible. Anything that you do often, you’ll get better at. Tape in various drawings that you make outside of the sketchbook. 

Don’t wear out that eraser. You’ll notice my pencil doesn’t even have an eraser. I usually don’t bother erasing anything. I draw over it until I get it right or I’ll make many sketches on the same page to try and get it right. To see your mistakes is good, you learn from those. The eye can usually tell right away if something is out of proportion or off. If you’re having a hard time, look at it in a mirror or upside down - then you’ll spot it right away.

sketchbook, sketches, bird sketches, Jamie Haney, art process, Sketchbook Conversations

raven painting, The Potter, Jaime Haney

Also, know that you don’t have to share your sketchbook with anyone but yourself. I’m usually self conscious when someone wants to look through mine. I do however enjoy going over my sketches from over the years… it shows how far I’ve come and sometimes it surprises me to look back and think wow that teenager me was actually pretty good!

Remember you don’t have to follow any rules. If you want to make perfect, finished drawings in each page then do so. If you only pick up your sketchbook when you’re feeling down or perhaps only when inspired, that is perfectly fine. YOU are the only gate keeper to your imagination.

Thank you, Jaime for sharing your sketchbooks and your story with us today.

You can find Jaime:



Instagram: JaimeHaney

Twitter: artsyfartsyme

You can catch up on the other Sketchbook Conversations posts and find more sketchbook inspiration here

And if you're an artist who works in sketchbooks and would like to be featured, please contact me and I'll send you the details.

*Photos in this post © Jaime Haney. Used with permission.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Joy List Monday -- Moody Autumn in the Garden

autumn, sunflowers, sunflower seed heads, cloudy sky, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

It's a cloudy morning, but incredibly warm today. The garden is still holding on in spite of the freezing temperatures of last week.

roses, miniature roses, autumn, garden, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

There are little surprises everywhere.

autumn, garden, pansy, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

Flashes of beauty and delight.

nasturtiums, nasturtium flowers, autumn, garden, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

I think the cold temperatures brought about the unusual colors in these nasturtium flowers.


You never know what you might discover if you're paying attention.

woodbine, virginia creeper, autumn, garden, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

Joy List Monday: 

a weekly ritual
a reminder to stop and pay attention to the little beauties and graces that make life magical and to set aside time for gratitude each day

Today's list:

  • beauties from the garden
  • potato leek soup and freshly baked bread
  • pumpkins on the front steps
  • warmer temperatures
  • grasshoppers leaping in the grass near a meadow on our walk
  • cozy bed
  • being featured on the Skillshare blog as an "up and coming teacher"
  • the crunch of fallen leaves and the rustle of dry leaves still in the trees
  • quiet mornings in my studio
  • stillness
What's on your Joy List today?

Wishing you a magic-filled week.

Friday, October 14, 2016

painting marigolds and a confession

I recently painted some marigolds from my garden. They're one of the few things that are still going strong. Although we've had a few nights below freezing, they haven't been affected yet.

My marigolds started as tiny seedlings like this:

And ended up as huge, sprawling plants filled with flowers.

marigolds, garden, autumn, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

It's funny how some plants take off in the garden (the lantana I shared on Monday is another one that just kept going all summer long) and other plants never seem to do much at all. It's different every year. Last year's marigolds weren't as nice as these.

I guess it's no surprise that with an abundance of marigolds in the garden right now I'd choose to paint them.

marigolds, inspiration, studio, painting, sketchbooks, botanical watercolor, botanical sketchbooks, watercolor, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

I love the ritual of mixing paint, sketching and testing out my colors in my sketchbook. My paint is always too wet to work with when I first mix it and so I work in my sketchbook instead. In my watercolor sketchbook I like combining drawings with paintings while also seeing how the paint I've mixed will look on paper.

The painting itself was an experiment. I was testing out some new (to me) watercolor paper by the company Sennelier. I use their pan watercolor paints (along with two other brands) but had never tried their paper. I liked the long, thin shape of this block and thought it would be fun to create compositions to fit within that space. I don't often use hot press paper, so this was an experiment on a few levels.

watercolor, painting, botanical art, botanical watercolor, painting process, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

Hot press paper is very different from cold press, and every brand has variations. This paper is very, very smooth with no noticeable tooth at all. I have two other hot press papers that I want to experiment with and of the three this is the smoothest of all.

It took some getting used to, but I let the paint do its thing, let it teach me.

watercolor, painting, botanical art, botanical watercolor, painting process, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

And I fully enjoyed the process.

watercolor, painting, botanical art, botanical watercolor, marigolds, watercolor marigolds, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

I bet by this point you're wondering about that confession.

I don't generally like to share my mistakes. Nobody does, do they? Well, I made a big mistake with this painting.

It was simple carelessness. Something similar happened when I was painting the nasturtium flower in my Skillshare class.

I thought about re-filming the Skillshare class, but then realized that sharing mistakes and sharing how to deal with them is a good thing. Pretending that I create effortlessly and without doing dumb things like letting a paint-filled brush roll onto my painting doesn't tell the whole story. It doesn't give a realistic picture of what art-making is like.

Beginners get frustrated when mistakes happen. I know I did. When I was starting out those mistakes would make me throw away a painting, but I didn't need to do that.

A couple years ago Holly Ward Bimba (aka Golly Bard) shared a painting mistake (and her fix) on Instagram and it struck me how inspiring that was. How brave. How honest.

When I work with watercolor I always let one area dry before working on any of the areas that touch it so that the paint stays where I want it to stay. For example I'll work on one petal and let that dry before painting any petals beside it. Often I'm working on a couple areas of the painting at once while I'm waiting for paint to dry. (Some people like to use a hair dryer to speed up the drying process, but I prefer to let the paint and paper and water do their thing naturally).

Working like this I need to pay attention to the wet areas, being careful that I don't accidentally set my hand on or smudge the wet paint.

I'm sure you can see what's coming. I'd just put the first layer of paint down for the little flower bud on the right when I brushed against the paper with my pinky.

In the finished painting there's no trace of that mistake, but believe me, it was ugly.

I worked swiftly, blotting the page with a dry paper towel and then wetting the page and blotting some more. This didn't get up all of the stain and so the bud in the final painting is a little fatter than the bud I'd planned (I extended it to the right a bit), but I'm happy that I was able to save the painting.

marigolds, botanical watercolor, watercolor painting, watercolor marigolds, botanical illustration, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

Never give up. We can learn from and fix our mistakes. Slow down. They're all good lessons to learn.

I hope your weekend is lovely, slow and free from mistakes!

By the way, these marigolds are now available in my shop.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Sketchbook Conversations -- A Chat with Lizzie Christian

Today's Sketchbook Conversation is with Lizzie Christian, an artist based in Minneapolis who focuses mainly on block printing. I'll let Lizzie take it from here in her own words:

Lizzie Christian, Rare Press, sketchbooks, Sketchbook Conversations

I’ve kept sketchbooks (and written journals) since I was a kid. I always enjoy finding giant books of newsprint in the storage room, filled with charcoal drawings from college figure drawing class. It’s fun to revisit previous themes or mediums and potentially get inspired that way; sometimes I forget all of the subjects I’ve experimented with over the years.

Lizzie Christian, Rare Press, sketchbooks, block printing, Sketchbook Conversations

I keep sketchbooks because I have many ideas storming around in my head; doodling or sketching visualizes ideas that would maybe otherwise disappear. Sometimes I’m proud of my sketchbook pages and I’m excited to share them. 

Lizzie Christian, Rare Press, sketchbooks, Sketchbook Conversations

Other times, the drawings are really embarrassing (I may never be able to draw a profile of a face!) and I keep them to myself. I’m always tempted to rip out the terrible drawings and keep only the “good” pages, but keeping the imperfect work is helpful for keeping track of progress and changes.

Lizzie Christian, Rare Press, sketchbooks, Sketchbook Conversations

I feel most comfortable as a printmaker (mainly blockprints made with rubber blocks), so some of my sketches end up as carvings, and then prints. 

Lizzie Christian, Rare Press, sketchbooks, Sketchbook Conversations

Oftentimes, I use my sketchbooks for practice with different media (brush pens, Sharpie, Caran d’Ache Neocolor II wax pastels [my mom’s favorite!], gouache, or soft lead pencils. 

Lizzie Christian, Rare Press, sketchbooks, painting, Sketchbook Conversations

Recently I’ve checked out library books featuring photography, or women in a fashion context, and I find references like these really helpful for expanding my drawing practice. I struggle with drawing the human figure so photographs are especially useful for this.

Lizzie Christian, Rare Press, sketchbooks, Sketchbook Conversations

Motivation and inspiration often come from Instagram; seeing others’ hard work pushes me to do the same. I find that I might have a flash of an idea, I need to get started on it right away; if not, the idea either goes away or doesn’t appeal anymore. And usually, these ideas persist so much that I finish a project (such as a carving and print) in one or two evenings. It’s a positive sort of pressure and I always appreciate when it happens! 

Lizzie Christian, Rare Press, sketchbooks, drawing, block printing, Sketchbook Conversations

For someone starting out sketchbooking, I would recommend just jumping in, and draw what you like. Don’t worry about showing anyone. Even treat it like a journal. I think it should be a fun practice, and pressure-free (even though it’s easy to put pressure on yourself!) It’s rewarding to have a collection of sketchbooks to look back on; it can read like a really interesting and honest personal history.

Lizzie Christian, Rare Press, sketchbooks, Sketchbook Conversations

Thank you, Lizzie for sharing your sketchbooks and your story with us today.

You can find Lizzie:
on Instagram: @rarepress

*Photos in this post © Elizabeth Christian. Used with permission.

Monday, October 10, 2016

the habit of gratitude and joy list monday

I've been battling some negativity lately. I think a lot of it has to do with the weather (we had an unusually cloudy and rainy summer that carried over into autumn, too); any day that the sun was out, I noticed an amazing shift in my mood.

sunflowers, autumn, seeds, garden, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

It's not just the weather, though. There are other factors, situations that are making me take a step back and do some (perhaps too much) thinking.

I know I've written about negativity and moods before and not too long ago shared some ideas for battling them, but since then I've been doing something else that has helped tremendously. Each morning as I'm waking up I lie in bed and practice gratitude. I push away all of the other thoughts and instead, give thanks. Listing as many things (situations, feelings, people, thoughts) as I can. It's a good way to start the day.

Just yesterday I (finally) switched my Joy List writing to the end of the day, keeping my Joy Journal (and a pen) on my bedside table (I'd been meaning to do that for a while). So now my day is bookended with gratitude and thoughts of joy.

pineapple sage, autumn flowers, autumn garden, salvia, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

We're all in this together. All trying to find our way. Make meaning of our lives. Connect. I truly believe that there's so much we can learn from one another. I share my stories here, with the hopes of inspiring you. Inspiring you to live a more joyful and creative life.

Helping you to live a more joyful and creative life is why I've been doing the Artist Interviews and Sketchbook Conversations, too. I hope that they do. Help you. Make you think. Inspire you.

Recently Dana Barbieri has been painting what she calls Joy, Gratitude, Appreciation lists. You can see them on Instagram (this, this and this are some examples) and on her blog (here and in a video here). What a beautiful, creative, active way to celebrate and be thankful.

Perhaps I will work on painting a list, too. But it's also gotten me thinking. Joy, Gratitude, Appreciation... there are so many ways of honoring it. If you're musical you could sing it. Your gratitude, joy and appreciation can be infused in anything you do. Exercise. Cooking. Cleaning. Gardening. Walking the dogs... All it takes is awareness. And practice. Any new habit takes time.

lantana, autumn garden, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

I hope today you'll take the time to create your own Joy List, your own meditation on gratitude and appreciation, in whatever form works best for you.

Joy List Monday: 

a weekly ritual
a reminder to stop and pay attention to the little beauties and graces that make life magical and to set aside time for gratitude each day

My list:

  • a sunshiny morning (3rd day in a row!!!)
  • the lingering beauties in the garden, spared so far from frost
  • a fun dinner at a newly re-vamped restaurant in town with my parents and Matthias
  • bringing my houseplants (and a few geraniums) inside for the winter and taking cuttings of a other things, too
  • painting and my newest watercolor (more on that on Friday)
  • being inspired by other creative people
  • a weekend of cooking and eating (and lots of garden fresh produce)
  • putting the finishing touches on my Autumn Newsletter (JOYletter!)
  • walks with the dogs
  • wearing layers
cuttings, plant propagation, impatiens, fuchsia, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

Have a lovely week!

Friday, October 7, 2016

An Interview with Sarah Owens

Today I’m chatting with Sarah Owens. In 2015 Sarah released her first book, Sourdough, a gorgeous cookbook focused on creating fermented, thus easily digestible, foods. This book won a James Beard Award for Excellence. Her second book is due out in summer of 2017. I think you’ll agree that Sarah has had an interesting journey and I’m delighted to have her here sharing it with us.

ab: Hi, Sarah. Thanks for joining us. You have worn so many creative hats over the years, but you started out as a professional ceramic artist. Can you share a bit about that? Did you go to art school? What sorts of ceramics did you create? How has that first career as an artist influenced your other endeavors (and do you still create with clay today)?

so: I originally enrolled in Bellarmine University in Louisville, Kentucky for International Business. As a liberal arts school, I had to fulfill a few requirements and quickly preferred being in the studio more than my economics, accounting, and statistics classes. My ceramics mentor, Fong Choo, is an excellent example of a working artist who is very active on the craft circuit and who taught me what it meant to be a professional. I learned how important it is to master a technique or skill before having the confidence and aptitude to make my own impression on any medium. This, along with learning how to maximize resources and accept failure as opportunity, was a fundamental lesson that would serve me well as a horticulturist and later as a baker.

Last year I taught a college hand-building course at Kentucky College of Art and Design and really enjoyed being a mentor for the incredible students I had the opportunity to teach. It was the first time in eight years I had spent any considerable time in the studio but was surprised how quickly I felt comfortable with the medium again. I believe the tactile memory of working with clay has just been reimagined in sourdough. So many of the foundations are the same: time, temperature, humidity, and observation. Although I do prefer working with dough now, I have a true fondness for handmade ceramics and they are featured prominently in my new book due out next year called Toast & Jam.

ab: How long did you work in ceramics before deciding to move on? What sparked your decision and how did you choose horticulture as your next venture?

so: My ceramic work was very informed by organic form and texture. I grew up in a rural environment where the streams, woods, and fields were my principle forms of entertainment and fueled my imagination from a young age. My family always farmed as well so our food was very much a reflection of the seasons. It followed suit that my first job was on a landscaping crew and I continued this on and off for almost fifteen years, alternating with restaurant gigs in between. I have always felt very comfortable with the elements of nature influencing my daily activities as an artist, a gardener, and in the domain of the kitchen.

After moving back to the area where I grew up in east Tennessee and building a studio, I quickly realized how isolating production studio life can be and felt very much at odds with the economic uncertainty of working as a creative. When I chose to return to school for horticulture in 2007, it was a decision based on what seemed logical – a related field that would provide a steady source of income and benefits without sacrificing passion.

ab: It was during your time at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden where you specialized in the organic care of their roses that our paths crossed on Instagram. I’d love for you to tell us about your time there. Was it a hard transition from artist to horticulturalist? You always seemed so passionate about your roses; are they your favorite plants and flowers? Do you still tend a garden today?

so: Transitioning to living in New York City was one of the most challenging things I have done as an adult and included some experiences in that first year that truly tested my character and strength. So when I was hired at BBG, it was a relief even though I was taking on a new directive with an incredible amount of responsibility for this very historic and unique collection.

Roses were never a plant I thought would be my specialty. My mother was quite the rose grower and collected many of the showier cultivars over the years. But her garden was where I was sent when I had misbehaved, often at the hottest, muggiest, weediest, buggiest times of the year. So my association with roses was one of discontent. When I was assigned to the Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden renovation at NYBG however, I realized what a diverse group of plants they are with so many beautiful characteristics and historical considerations beyond their flower including gorgeous foliage, unique and edible hips, and various growth habits. My personality has an aptitude for specialization and it was easy to transfer this new investigation into an all-consuming career.

Although I left the Brooklyn Botanic Garden two years ago, I have continued to work as a freelance designer who oversees installation of mostly private gardens. It is not nearly as rewarding as public gardening however and I have been increasingly turning my attention more to baking and cooking professionally. I have always had a personal garden though and am looking forward to stewarding a larger, public space next year full of culinary curiosities! It is part of a larger business plan that includes opening a wholesale bakery in the Rockaways where I currently live by the sea.

ab: While you were working at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden you founded your bakery, BK17, a community supported subscription service which, as you state on your website, was “a way to bring back real bread to Brooklyn”. Can you elaborate on that?

so: I came to baking with natural leavening as an alternative to eliminating bread completely from my diet. At that time in New York, gluten free products were all the rage and it was very difficult to find a naturally leavened loaf of bread made with long fermentation. When I founded my business, it was in response to demand for this style of baking and filling a need for bread made with mindful ingredients and technique. It isn’t always the best way to maximize profits but that isn’t a dominating consideration of my approach.

ab: There’s a long road between starting a bakery and writing a book – how did your book project come about? Had you always wanted to write a book? How did you handle the demands of your job at the Botanic Garden, your bakery and your writing?

so: It wasn’t long before my small business gained its own momentum and was taking more of my attention. As more people had a chance to try my bread and also understand the digestive and flavor advantages of sourdough, there were a number of articles written about my story. Coleen O’Shea, an amazing literary agent who came to represent me, saw my publishing potential and nudged me toward writing a proposal. Coleen was the perfect coach for the proposal that was also visually informed by Ngoc Minh Ngo, the talented photographer that I ended up collaborating with for Sourdough and also my forthcoming title Toast & Jam. The idea for Sourdough was a non-traditional cookbook drawn from my experience as both a gardener and baker inspired by the seasons. The key was finding the right publisher who could appreciate and embrace this. Having a literary agent who understood my motivations was paramount and she connected me with an editor at Roost Books. In our first conversation, I remember thinking ‘YES! This publisher gets it!’ which was not the case with several others with whom I had interviewed.

After I signed the contract and began writing and photographing the book, it was difficult to balance this new creative journey with a full-time job, my subscription baking business, and freelancing as a horticulturist. That year definitely took its toll but also forced me to evaluate my priorities. The professional atmosphere I was working in had become very heavy and it was not long before I decided to go freelance full-time and give more priority to baking. It has not been an easy or clearly defined path since but I am a much happier and healthy person. This self-directed strength allows me to more positively affect the lives of others, something that is very important to me.

ab: Because my focus is on choosing joy over darkness and because I believe there’s so much we can learn from one another, one of the questions I like to ask in my interviews is how you deal with stress, bad moods and negativity. You convey such a sense of calm; you’re a very down to earth and rooted person. What are your favorite techniques for keeping a positive outlook and finding joy in difficult situations?

so: The answer has always been the same: seek solace in nature or gain perspective by sacrificing your time and resources for others.

Returning to the elements of the outdoors and the practice of natural fermentation pulls me out of whatever dire straits I think I’m suffering. In reality, most of us have few worries when we consider the larger context of the world. The concerns that preoccupy our thoughts such as bills or boyfriends, are often fleeting. It is important to dedicate yourself to something bigger than you are and practice that surrender on a regular basis. For some this practice is yoga or meditation. For me it is interacting with nature through foraging for edibles, scuba diving (the only hobby that hasn’t become my job yet!), or acting as an agent for the rhythms of natural fermentation.

ab: You now live in Louisville Kentucky and are working on your second book. How would you describe the book you’re working on? After that, what’s next on the horizon for you?

so: After I resigned from the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, I moved back to Louisville for less than a year to launch a project that was awarded a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. It was an incredible experience but in reality, I think that I had this romantic vision of what it would be like moving back to the South. Louisville was where I built my foundation as a creative but I evolved into an adult in Brooklyn, where my opinions on lifestyle and priorities have been influenced by an integrated, multi-cultural aesthetic. After about 6 months and many pilgrimages back north, I decided NYC was truly where I needed to be.

It was during this transitory phase that I wrote Toast & Jam, my forthcoming title that is informed by my experiences in Kentucky, the ingredients of my travels, and the cultural diversity and pull of New York City. It is a book of baking and vibrant flavors and is a call to personal empowerment through scratch cooking. Visually it has a very different feel than Sourdough and I wanted it to be a bridge between that project and my third title that is now being crafted.

Living in the seaside village of the Rockaways has allowed me to foster a deep connection to the power of nature but with accessibility to the creative stimulation and economic engine of the city. I have felt more at home by the ocean than anywhere I have lived and am very inspired to continue building community here. I am working with a business partner to solidify a humble wholesale bakery and event space and am super excited to reach more people through wholesome, naturally fermented breads and seasonal foods. My third book will be a direct reflection of this experience, the spirituality of following an uncharted course, and the culinary garden I am building to service the business. Learning to listen and accept your destiny takes time and trusting the path takes guts. When you do, there is no doubt you will fulfill your true potential and this next year will be an intense leg of that journey!

Thank you, Sarah, for chatting with me today.

Dear readers, I hope you've enjoyed today's interview, meeting Sarah and learning more about her creative endeavors. You can learn more about Sarah, her book and her bakery on her website. And be sure to check her out on Instagram, too.

*Photos in this post © Ngoc Minh Ngo (1, 4, 5, 6, 8, 11) and Sarah Owens (2, 3, 7, 9, 10, 12). Used with permission.