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Sorry, the name just had to be capitalized, it’s that exciting.  Meagan and Sasha, the dynamic duo of meagsashaunderbridgeWonder Thunder, were kind  enough to answer some questions for me.  It gets a bit silly, but for me, that just makes it that much better!

1.  What did you have for breakfast this morning?

8 grains. Home brewed yogurt with honey. Coffee.  Blood of the innocent!

2.  What do you find most inspiring about where you live?

Mountains and the ocean.  Flannel.  Nirvana.  No, we mean nature, salmon, and eagles!  Deserts, volcanos, and soft pine forest floors. Combine demolition derbies!

3.  What kind of music are you into lately?

We could go all day on this question!  Tallest Man on Earth, Loney Dear, Dr. Dog, Alela Diane, First Aid Kit, Tom Petty, The Band, Handsome Furs, Paul Simon’s Kodachrome, M83, Animal Collective, Built to Spill, Fleet Foxes, A.A. Bondy, Blue Oyster Cult.

4.  Is etsy/creating your full time business?  If not, what do you do in real life?

No, if only our dreams were real.  Maybe one day.  But our day jobs aren’t too bad.  Sasha works in the art department of Sub Pop.  Meagan makes jewelry for a local designer.  We like what we do.

5.  What’s the story behind your awesome shop name?

This is a hard question.  It just sort of appeared in the brain and stuck.  We like that it rhymes, evokes wonder and unexplainable forces of nature, and we noticed people like to yell it at us as a collective name for two.  WONDER THUNDER!

6.  Was there someone in your life who was a creative inspiration for you?

Our parents!  All four of them have some creative bones.  Sasha’s dad makes screen-printed ceramics and his mom spins, knits, dyes, and weaves.  Meagan’s mom is a metalsmith and her dad builds things like houses and contraptions.  We also had great art teachers in high school which is a rare thing these days.

7.  What else do you make other than art that you’re great at?

Food. Pickles, yogurt, sauerkraut, lacto-fermented vegetables, immmaculate conception of taco salad.  Other than food, fossil and herb research, the pythagorean theorum, stick and rock collecting, tea making, and sinning.

8.  When did you first start creating things?

It’s hard to say really, we’ve always made things, it’s just what happens as we live life.  We could say that it started as kids, but all kids are creative.  We just happened to keep doing it.

9.  What is your creative process like?

Bacteria growth is a good example.  It starts as a little cell and soon enough you’ve got an infection that no known antibiotic can cure.  We started with one idea of a mischievous carrot and before long we had a handful of buck toothed trouble making characters.  We usually draw on napkins while eating to get some ideas.  Once we find something that is funny to both of us we match that image to an item we’ve been wanting to make.

10.  What’s a cool thing that you think everyone should know about?

You can get water stains out of wood floors with tooth paste.  Insomnia and stress can be cured by drinking valerian tea, an herb that smells like old dirty socks.   Pistachios are a poor substitute for cat food.

11.  What’s the craziest thing that’s ever happened to you?

We were born!  Honest!  Thank god for the miracle of life.  Trip on it, like, forever! Or at least until tomorrow. . .

12.  Where’s your dream vacation spot?
A cloud forest.  A tree house.
13.  What’s the last thing you bought online?

25 spools of thread.

14.  In a perfect world without the constraints of reality, what would you be doing?

Floating in space.  Generating psychedelic rainbows out of my laser eyes.  Living a daydream on mars.

15.  Do you make a signature dish?  What is it?

Taco salad with bbq tofu.

16.  What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Get a job. Take a shower. Get out of bed.

17.  What’s your most treasured possession?

Our diamond encrusted relationship.  Without it Wonder Thunder would be but a wisp in a cloud!  Also our cat, Fatty.  And lots and lots of handmade things from friends and family.

18.  Do you have any pets?

One baby raptor penguin monkey cat.  Fatty Senior.

19.  What’s your best garage sale find?

A framed photograph of a squirrel eating a piece of pizza.

20.  What are you most passionate about?
Waking up and going to sleep! And our lives!
I have to say, I just love creative people who have a sense of humor, as well as making some pretty rocking stuff.  Thanks so much to Wonder Thunder (the dynamic duo!) for answering my questions!  Until next time…
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I’ve recently discovered the work of Dan Jackson, and i have to say, I have a crush on his photographs.  Irreverent pictures of little people doing everyday things with food, what’s not to love?  He was kind enough to answer some questions for me, and I’m here to pass the answers along to you!

1.  What did you have for breakfast this morning?

Two slices of toast with butter on and a cup of tea.

2.  What do you find most inspiring about where you live? Erm. Not sure to be honest. I don’t think I am really inspired by where I live, most of the inspiration comes from things I see online, on TV and mainly just in my funny old head!

3.  What kind of music are you into lately?
The King Blues new album is great. www.kingblues.com
4.  Is etsy/creating your full time business?  If not, what do you do in real life?
No, not at all. I work in insurance claims full time Mon-Fri. I handle people’s claims after they have accidents in their cars. Been doing it for about 7 years now.
5. What on earth gave you the idea to photograph little people working on food?
I was inspired by the work of Slinkachu – www.slinkachu.comA London based street artist who makes his own “little people” and places them in little scenes on the streets. He photographs them and then leaves them there for people to find. The food ideas came from some other websites I had stumbled across showing that people other than me and Slinkachu were doing similar things with models of little people.
I generally buy the models first and THEN think of what situations I am going to put them in.
6.  Was there someone in your life who was a creative inspiration for you?
I suppose I got my love of photography from my mother. She’s always been into taking photos. The rest of it  comes from my strange little brain!!
7.  What else do you make other than art that you’re great at?
Other than my little people, I take all sorts of photos of scenery, animals etc. I also make a nice chicken salad!
8.  When did you first start creating things?
I first started taking photographs about 7 years ago when I got my first digital camera. Because it was so easy to take shots and discard them with digital I found this a great way to get into photography as you could take loads of shots and not worry about printing costs if 90% turned out to be awful.
The little people range of shots has been very recent. I only started taking them about 6 months ago and only started selling them online in December.
9.  What is your creative process like?
I don’t have one! Honestly. 99% of the time I don’t even think about new ideas. I just wait till they pop in my head. Sometimes I’ll see something on TV or in a shop that might give me a brainwave. But generally, I let the ideas come to me rather than go looking for them.
10.  What’s a cool thing that you think everyone should know about?
I have the same name as one of the main characters in “Stargate” but because I have had people telling me this for years I have made a point of never watching it. Therefore I am probably the only male in my demographic who has never seen Stargate!
11.  What’s the craziest thing that’s ever happened to you?
xxxxxxxxxxx
12.  Where’s your dream vacation spot?
Probably a remote island, somewhere warm, with hardly any people, a nice hotel or villa. Peace and quiet and cloudless skies.
13.  What’s the last thing you bought online?
A pair of hiking shoes for our trip to Scotland (£15) a screen protector for my new iPod Touch (£2) and a USB card reader (£8)
14.  In a perfect world without the constraints of reality, what would you be doing?
Not have to work. Just laze about all day playing on my PC / Xbox / PS3 etc. Although I’d probably get bored, it’s 1000 times better than work isn’t it??
If we’re really stretching the bounds of reality, I’d love to be a racing driver!
15.  Do you make a signature dish?  What is it?
Not really. I experiment with stuff. As I said before I am making chicken salads a lot at the moment, with goats cheese. Very healthy! I have a go at cooking anything, usually with varying degrees of success.
16.  What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
“Whatever you do, DON’T stick THAT in THERE”
17.  What’s your most treasured possession?
My camera probably. Otherwise I wouldn’t be here answering these questions!
18.  Do you have any pets?
Yes, one dog. Casper. He’s a German Shepherd crossed with something (we don’t know what) He’s a lot smaller than a German Shepherd but mad as a bag of cats!
19.  What’s the best gift that anyone has ever given you?
My camera! Or perhaps my 30th birthday present last year which was a trip to New York where we stayed in the Ritz for 5 days then went on a cruise to the Bahamas.
20.  What are you most passionate about?
I am too laid back to be “passionate” about something! I do enjoy Formula One though and get quite excited if there’s good, close racing. So probably that.
I wouldn’t say I was “passionate” about my photography, I enjoy it a lot and enjoy the reactions and comments I get, but it’s a past time, not a passion.

Thanks to Dan for answering my questions!  You can find more about him here.

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My interview this week is with the lovely Joon.  You’ve probably seen her (or her adorable daughter) gracing the pages of Etsy, with her many shops (joonbeam, joonwalk, and flying housewife).  I’ve continued to be inspired by her work and her attitude, and it’s always nice to learn more about her!  She was kind enough to answer some questions for me, and I  hope you’ll enjoy reading her answers as much as I did.
1.  What did you have for breakfast this morning?
My current favorite is toasted Bays English Muffin with unsalted butter & Jif.  A small OJ is nice.

2.  What do you find most inspiring about where you live?
The genuineness of the people and the culture.  It amazes me everywhere I go.  I feel like I’ve fallen into a time warp.  It’s enchanting & uplifting, both of which I need in large doses.
3.  What kind of music are you into lately?
I’m listening to a lot of Seal, the Wall~E soundtrack, Pandora’s Chopin, Debussy or Gershwin mixes, John Denver in Concert, and always, always Elton John, Broadway Musicals and Film Scores & Josh Groban.  For the past 7+ years we wake up to 2 hours of Josh Groban’s first CD.   I think The Prayer duet by him and Charlotte Church may be one of the most perfect songs ever recorded.  Here is the best live performance I could find:  http://www.veoh.com/browse/videos/category/music/watch/e178773nqtJcxMz

4.  Is etsy/creating your full time business?  If not, what do you do in real life?
I’m not a business person.  I consider myself to be a professional housewife & mother.  Even though it is an extremely challenging vocation, especially in our culture, I hope I never have to trade it.  It’s me.

5.  How did you start working with the materials that you do?  Where do you find such awesome things?
In the mid 1990s, after my brief foray into the outside world as a 2nd grade teacher, we moved to Eugene, OR.  Scout was a tot and, although I have always frequented & loved hand me downs & yard sales, I’d never lived in a town big enough for thrift stores before.  I loved them and became drawn to beat~up picture frames.  I started collecting 10 cent castaway magazines at the library sales and began my collage art venture, Bumblelina’s Boutique.

When we moved to New Hampshire, the thrift shops were even better.  And there were church and fire department rummage sales, which were not only fun, but like digging for vintage gold.  I started selling finds on eBay and enjoyed it.  I added a booth in a flea/antique mall.  But the market changed drastically after 2001 and so did the eBay community, ruining all the fun and ending that era for me.

In 2003, at age 9, Scout serendipitously created these adorable monkeys.  I became inspired to teach her how to start a tee shirt business, ‘Monkey’s Way’,  with her designs.  That’s when we trademarked the joonbeam name.  I made a video of our trip to the state house.  (She was adorable.)   We wanted some lower priced items and she was making those sweet Peek-a-Boo matchboxes.  I’d gotten a new sewing machine and started making some small paper & fabric crafts out of recycled things.  We did a few small holiday shows.  It was nothing much, but easy & a good experience for her.   We also made our ‘famous’ caramel popcorn and granola bars.  We met nice people and made new friends.  Good memories.  My current creations and the launch of my Etsy venture began here.

In Boston people throw away obscene amounts of everything.  The sidewalks are stacked all the time.  We even got our beautiful couch ~ A classic 1960s red pleather Castro Convertible off a sidewalk, where it had been put out for the trash truck.  One family, all those years.  The woman was ecstatic we were taking it. We surprised her with a photo Valentine of it in use.  She surprised us, too … handmade us one and sneaked it through our door mail slot.  You can’t buy experiences like that.    A lot of it is fate, chance, luck.  But, most of my finds involve hard work, diligence & patience.  You have to know vintage and when to say no.  You have to spend time digging through a lot of junk to find the treasures.  I enjoy that because it’s all about curiosity to me … who owned these things, where have they been, what have they seen, how did they get here, and most of all, who loved them and what are their stories?  Having OCD tendencies doesn’t hurt, either.

6.  Was there someone in your life who was a creative inspiration for you?
Apart from kindergarten, I led an artless childhood.  When I returned to college, at age 31, I took a Kiddie Lit course.  To have even a chance at an A, you had to write a children’s book.  There was my inspiration.   I never had any art training.  But I designed and wrote that book, illustrated the entire thing, by hand, using crude methods and when she handed it back to me, I could barely sit through class without crying.  I couldn’t find a grade or comment.  Nothing.  Being me, I approached her immediately after class.  And it turned out she loved it so, that she feared marking it so she’d lightly penciled inside the cover ‘You should polish this up and see about getting it published. – A’

7.  What else do you make other than art that you’re great at?
Food and children.   I’ve been a little old lady since the day I was born.

8.  When did you first start creating things?
I’ve always been resourceful, but I don’t think I was a creative child.  As children, my sister and I did make elaborate storied houses out of who knows what.  They leaned against the foot of our beds.  My favorite Christmas gift was colorforms.  I could rearrange those forever. I also loved coloring books.  I still do.  I’ve been cooking since I was a pre-teen.  I had home ec and learned sewing basics in HS.   I married very young.  I had no money, but I’d cut out a wedding dress from a Bridal Magazine.  I modified the design and talked an adult friend (poor woman) into making it for me.  It was wonderful, though.  I think it cost me $35.00 total.  One day, with no forethought, I made my 5 month old son a really unusual blanket out of odd fabrics while he was napping.  I was 20.  I have photos of his taking to it instantly.  That thing has been around.  I made a lot of his clothes.  A few years later, for a brief moment in time,  I designed clothing and accessories with appliques for tots that I called  Dinky Duds.

9.  What is your creative process like?
I cannot describe it.  It’s beyond spontaneous.  Most times I’ll be mending, clipping, straightening up or organizing and something catches my eye, springs an idea and off I go.  Everything is a total surprise to me.  I do wish I could jot things down in the shower because God only knows how many of my ideas are now alligators in the sewers.

10.  What’s a cool thing that you think everyone should know about?
* The Herald Square Hotel in NYC.  http://www.heraldsquarehotel.com/

* Your library internet reserve and loan system.  You will need this for cool things #6 & 7.
* Yes! Paste.  http://www.amazon.com/Gane-Yes-All-Purpose-Stik-Flat/dp/B000S10SNU/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=home-garden&qid=1236866724&sr=8-1
* Junior League Cookbooks
* That Walgreens has organic cotton socks for 2.49.
* The Watts Towers.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Watts_Towers
* Reading Rainbow from whence hundreds of cool things like The Watts Towers can be experienced wonderfully. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reading_Rainbow
* The Wuggie Norple Story by Daniel M. Pinkwater & Tomie Paola.  It’s a rare OOP little book. http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://farm1.static.flickr.com/44/113283337_60071c4011.jpg%3Fv%3D0&imgrefurl=http://flickr.com/photos/japanamanda/113283337/&usg=__BlgoOuNfITL0kw-bXm4VkUwp1LQ=&h=294&w=400&sz=53&hl=en&start=2&um=1&tbnid=i6s2xcl7dMQBwM:&tbnh=91&tbnw=124&prev=/images%3Fq%3DWuggie%2BNorple%26hl%3Den%26client%3Dfirefox-a%26rls%3Dorg.mozilla:en-US:official%26sa%3DN%26um%3D1
* making your own vanilla
* craftopolis search to see if you’re in treasuries or gift guides  http://craftopolis.com/

11.  What’s the craziest thing that’s ever happened to you?
Oh heavens.  There are enough to fill a book.  Here’s a sampling:

* At age 5, I needed a tonsillectomy.  I had a boyfriend, Jeffrey Grant.  A few days before my surgery, my brother accidentally fractured Jeffrey’s leg playing neighborhood football in our yard.  A while after I arrived at the hospital – in those days you were admitted the afternoon before, left there, alone, in a crib in a giant ward, no less – a kind nurse came and said somebody wanted to see me.  So, we went hand in hand down the hallway and into a private room and there was my beloved, in traction.  Previously playing with Tinkertoys but now like the cat who swallowed the canary because they’d brought his favorite person to him.  He knew I was coming, but his was a total surprise to me.  It’s a crazy, but sweet, memory.  I can still see his smiling face.

* My family went to Disney World in Florida the first year it opened and I happened to turn Sweet 16 that day.  The entire (packed) population inside the Crystal Palace Restaurant started singing Happy Birthday to me.  Naturally, I embarrassed myself by sobbing from embarrassment.  (It’s a vicious circle.)

* My son, Dusty, was attacked by a cougar when he was 2 years old.  This happened at a trade show.

* I have moved 30something~ish times and am now residing in my 9th state.  We once lived at a Holiday Inn for 2 weeks.  The boys started school from there.

* I must preface this by saying I now adore NYC .  But in 1989 both my life and this trip there were oddly uncomfortable.  My peers had business tasks and I really wanted to make the best of the situation so I mustered up all my courage and I asked a hotel maid how far it was to Macy’s and if it was safe to walk there.  She was a petite, cute, shy, woman, with a voice to match.  This seemed to tickle her to death.   What can I say, I lived in the country and probably watched too much TV.  Well, skeptical, in a trusting way, off I went.   Hours later, while on one of their classic wooden escalators going up, I’m staring off into space, most likely fretting about walking back and what do I see?  That adorable woman on the down escalator!  WHAT???  And she just smiled that sweet amused smile.  I always thought she had to be an angel.  I mean, honestly.  How in the heck?

* A few years later, and at another a rough time in my life, I went on a spontaneous road trip with a friend to visit his North Carolina family for the weekend.  We met some relatives for breakfast at a local favorite Mom & Pop restaurant.  At the end of the wonderful meal, everyone was pleasantly chatting.  His niece, who was about 5,  I think, climbed up onto my lap, took my face in her hands and said ‘You’re a miracle.’  She was so delighted.  Of course, I thought I misunderstood her so I said, ‘What?’ and she was just happy as a clam and said ‘You’re just a miracle.’  My friend and I stared at each other.   ‘There you have it,’ he said.

But it gets better.  Part B: Shortly thereafter and overlapping this friendship,  Evan and I fall instantly, madly in love. … which is another crazy connection and story in itself, but long story shorter, fast forward ahead: now we’re married and have the boys and Scout and decide to move from Virginia to Oregon.  I collected Coca Cola things since age 14, so a colleague of mine said ‘You have to go to Atlanta and see the Coke Museum before you move so far away.’  So, on a whim, we decide to go for my birthday weekend.  Scout was 14 months old.  Off we go, tra la la.  She winds up being ridiculously ill in a matter of hours (image: inconsolable, endlessly screaming, burning with high fever baby) and we have to find a doctor.   On a Saturday morning.  In Atlanta.  We did.  And that’s another great crazy story.  Scout had strep and a nasty virus, both.  It was horrid.  But that woman was another angel.  She actually kissed Scout on her cheek.  A total stranger who just diagnosed the child with two contagious illnesses.  So — Atlanta is it as far as I am concerned.  But, I digress.  So, after a bizarre and exhausting weekend, we’re heading home and it’s getting dark.  At dinner time we’re looking for a small diner-ish place as we always do.  We leave the interstate and go into a small town and stop at a perfect looking place and I say something like ‘This looks familiar, but that’s impossible.’   After we’re inside for a few minutes I realize it’s the restaurant I was at with my friend on miracle day.

OK.  That’s enough crazy for now.

12.  Where’s your dream vacation spot?
A quiet house in a pretty place on or near a beautiful & sparsely visited warm beach.

13.  What’s the last thing you bought online?
The ball chain for my new necklaces in joonwalk.

14.  In a perfect world without the constraints of reality, what would you be doing?
I’d be in one of my two simple, but beautiful and loaded with history, residences, one being a NYC apartment.  I’d be writing, (either my own non-fiction everyman bios and novels or for Letterman, 30 Rock or film) or producing my own independent film with Evan for my crew and Scout as a lead.  I’d be doing volunteer work and making superb progress, changing the world for the better in small ways.  I’d have a grand piano and be doing well with my lessons.  I’d have a commercial gas range/oven, my handmade mattress and access to a warm swimming pool.  And I’d have the best neighbors.

15.  Do you make a signature dish?  What is it?
Oh dear. My family has a long list of favorites.  I’ll say my lemon chicken, Hungarian goulash, potato salad and pickled beets.  They also love my pies, brownie pudding, angel food cake and a divine cheesecake, which Evan makes most of the time, now.

16.  What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
This one is the question holding up the works.  I have thought and thought.  Maybe you’ll have to add this to my crazy things list, but I have not received memorably good advice in my life.  In fact, I’ve received a sad amount of poor advice.  The only thing I can think of is my indirectly gained wisdom from seeing ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ at a young (too young) age and the lessons of ignorance, abuse, tolerance, childhood innocence/acceptance and injustice which have helped me keep going when I find my character standards and missions at odds with my peers or society.

17.  What’s your most treasured possession?
My memory keepsakes of my children’s lives.  All of our art, my tons of photographs, homemade videos, and the journals we used to keep that chronicle the time before Scout was born until she was about 5.  I wish we would have kept those up.  I’ve passed along most of the boys’ memories to them now.  It’s one of my happiest accomplishments.

I made a keepsake for my oldest son when he graduated from OSU.  I wrote to everyone I could who had played a role in his life – not just friends and relatives, but our family physician & dentist, all of his elementary teachers, some of his HS teachers, etc. –  and requested they send along a memory of him, photo, or even one line. I  received an overwhelming supply of surprisingly creative and touching responses, which I gathered and assembled into a huge binder.  It’s not as fancy as I’d like because I was recovering from surgery, but it’s still an achievement.  My favorite part is that I wrote to the doctor who delivered him.  This doctor was already in his 50s in 1977 and had been the small town’s sole OB doctor until shortly before we met.  He sent back a beautiful handwritten letter, detailing specific memories of Kristoffer’s delivery.  Mind you I had no contact with this man other than sending him a Christmas card that first year.  (We moved 5 weeks after I had the baby. ) This doctor, long retired, walked down to the new hospital, searched the microfiche files, found Kristoffer’s birth records – his apgar score etc. (which I didn’t even know existed) – made paper copies and included them in with his letter.  I’m not sure it gets any cooler than this.

18.  Do you have any pets?
Yes, I do, and I adore them.  3 cats: Besos (kisses in Spanish), Cricket and Ginny Weasley & a beagle, Chip.

19.  What’s your best garage sale find?
Wow.  This one might be impossible.   I have so many.  But two that you might find interesting:  I found a set of four heavy glass shelves from a department store display.  They are pale green tinted glass and have a design of lighter toned large leaves etched on them. They were $5 each!  They’re fabulous.  Everyone comments and covets them at first sight and deservedly so.

Once upon a rummage sale,  I found this groovy little pottery decor dish.  It was $4 which was way too pricey to me.  I was buying things for 10 cents each.  Well, on the bottom was this absolutely adorable little donkey and a signature.  I couldn’t resist so I said ‘Oh, what the heck.’  I researched and found out it was a mid~century Italian designer piece.  I sold it on eBay for over $400 and it went to a gallery in LA.  I could have gotten much more for it but I kept hanging on to it because I couldn’t decide if I could part with it and the market was already sliding.  But it’s still a cool story.  And a great return!

20.  What are you most passionate about?
Too much.  But first and foremost, my family.  I love my children and want them to lead self actualized, joyful lives from the start. I believe your first priority to your children is as teacher and advocate.   If someone causes my child stress or concern, or disrespects them, it gets addressed either on their own, with guidance or, next, by me.   Most issues can be resolved remarkably well.  The rest are minimized by the very fact that your child has witnessed your unreserved, earnest, heartfelt support.   These are wonderful opportunities to develop character analysis and learn conflict resolution skills.  My children love their Mom’s ‘run-in with Mr. or Mrs. Misguided’ tales.  Rarely humorous at the time, many become happy memories.  An added bonus is that these experiences have a ripple effect that spreads out from every involved party.  You’ll never know how your action changed people’s lives for the better.  Pondering this can give you strength for that next big battle, though.

I am overly sensitive to everything in my environment and it’s a mixed blessing.   Noticing and being affected by practically every single aspect of my surroundings can reveal delightful wonders.  It also can present overwhelming challenges.  But, apathy is a sad, sorry path.  One of my least liked cultural axioms is ‘Don’t sweat the small stuff.’  I absolutely believe the small stuff is exactly the place to start.  It all matters and if you take care of the small, there will be nothing big that isn’t better.   Large problems do not spring forth out of nothing.  Their foundation is built on many small neglected ones.   Besides, there is so much joy in little things.  Why overlook them?

Visit my shops often for updates.
joonbeam.  we put the heart in art.
joonwalk. one small step for handmade. one giant leap for mankind.
flying housewife.   from me.  to you.  with love.

saving the planet through art. one step at a time. …because environment is everything.

Thank you to Joon for being patient and answering all of my questions!

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The lovely Ms. Teske set a follow up yesterday to her interview.  She had demurred from answering one of the questions, saying that too many crazy things had happened to her (!) but she came up with a story, and I think it was a good one!  Her story follows below.

Also, in the meantime, there’s a new recipe for Southern-style sweet tea that you can find here.   It’s starting to get warm here in Arizona and I’m dreaming of summertime!  This is the perfect refreshment for when it’s warm outside, or when you want to get start thinking about spring.

Here’s Tiffany’s craziest thing!

“In 2002, while traveling in a VW bus in Australia, which they call Kombi vans, I may have had the craziest thing that has ever happened to me happen (although I had three other stories I could have told you….). I was traveling with Andre, my then boyfriend, now husband, and our friend, Dan. If it was not crazy enough to agree to live in a van for 8 weeks with, at times, stinky and annoying boys (although I was also both of these things at time) I had no idea what we were in for. After traveling up the east coast of Aus, over about 5 weeks, we decided to head into the Outback. Here kangaroos are EVERYWHERE (3 million kangaroos are killed LEGALLY in Australia each year by Roo hunters), and sometimes it is 250 km between towns on a one lane road. When cars meet they each have to put their two outside wheels off into the ditch, or get off the road completely when meeting a tractor trailer, which can be a “road-train” with three containers! Well, on one of these lovely roads, in the middle of no where, or actually specifically somewhere between Longreach and Jundah, a truck passed us, completely in the ditch, then came back in front of us, and as it got back on the road, it threw a giant rock into our “windscreen” (or as we say in North America, windshield). Now, in vehicles made today, it may have cracked it, or even shattered it, but it would have stayed intact… not so in a 1970 something VW van. The windshield literally shattered, in a million cracks we could not see out of and then stayed that way for about 5 seconds at which point blew into the van. Dan, who was driving, thankfully had “sunnies” (sunglasses) on, but had to pick bits of glass out of himself, and even though I was the furthest in the back I had to, too. We were now in between two towns with VERY LITTLE traffic…. and we had already been through Longreach (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Longreach,_Queensland), gone to Jundah, had van trouble, changed spark plugs in a dirt lot in Jundah, headed back to Longreach to go to a garage, and were now headed back to Jundah to continue our trip. Since we knew there was not a garage in Jundah that could work on VWs, we knew we needed to go back to Longreach FOR A THIRD TIME. We drove something like 90 km, without a windshield, which is NOT a picnic, in fact, there is a good reason we have windshields. We had to drive really slow, and at one point we almost hit a calf which could have flipped up into the van… the sun went down during all of this… I was never happier to reach a destination. Long story short, and it is a long, funny, and agonizing story, we spent 8 days in Longreach… a windscreen needed to be sent from the coast, and they only make two types of windscreens, but we got the wrong one sent to us the first time, and needed to wait something like 6 days for the right one to arrive! In the meantime, we befriended most of the town. The first day we got there, no one would talk to the crazy hippies in the Kombi with surfboards strapped to the top, and no windscreen, in the middle of the Outback. But, by the end of the 8 days we had befriended the VW mechanic, all the kids who played in the local park, and most of their parents who hung out at the biker bar in town. I went to every little hole in the wall museum in this 4,300 person town. We had little money, but did spend one night in a motel so we could shower, eat take out pizza, and watch movies. Our last night, to top it all off, was also pretty crazy… we went to the biker bar to see a band called The Lees. The bar was crawling with locals, including little kids. And The Lees (http://www.thelees.com.au/bandHistory.php) turned out to be a family band much like The Partridge Family. Mom played bass, Dad played guitar, brother, about 14 played the drums, sister about 17 sang, sister about 12 sang, and sister about 7 sang, played, and worked the lights…. it was crazy, awesome, amazing, and when the oldest daughter sang Alanis Morissette, a fellow Canadian to the guys (I am from the states) we decided to started talking to them on a break and told them our sad story. They hung out with us into the night, and even gave us one of the rooms attached to the bar, which they were staying in as the featured band. The next day, they gave us their coordinates in the town of Broken Hill, along with an invite to come and visit AND our new windscreen arrived! It was Andre’s birthday, and Dan’s birthday the next day…. Happy birthday, guys! The mechanic installed the screen, we headed to Broken Hill, and stayed with the family band for 3 days before heading home to Canada. Steve and Tracey, and their 4 kids, Raechel, Jarod, Faith and Savannah, are still friends of ours, and have come to visit us in Canada. Nothing could quite be crazier….

Thanks for the trip down memory lane. Now, I should take a class on how to write true life stories without rambling…”

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Today’s interview is with one of my great craft friends, Tiffany Teske.  In addition to doing some excellent Polaroid

The Lovely Lady Herself..

The Lovely Lady Herself..

transfers, she is a wonderful photographer and a great crafty inspiration.  I loved getting to know more about her – now’s your chance!

1. What did you have for breakfast this morning?

Homemade crepes with butter, lemon, & real Canadian maple syrup. Crepes are a favorite in our household. My 2 1/2 year old likes hers with pecans, cinnamon, & syrup. Hubby likes them with just butter & syrup. Fresh berries are always nice, too. If you would like the recipe you can get it on my blog at this post, http://tiffanyteske.blogspot.com/2008/11/our-classic-crepe-recipe.html.

2. What do you find most inspiring about where you live?

I live in Banff, in the Canadian Rockies. It is a tourist mecca for people from all over the world. The mountain landscape is very inspiring in a way I can’t really pin down. You just feel good when you see all that beauty. And I love that most of the people who are visiting are on holiday, either for R&R or to work here, so they are happy to be here. And they are walking around seeing what I see each day, with fresh eyes. It is fun. There are lots of venues for creativity, galleries and shops, movies, library, plus the world reknown Banff Centre for the Arts, so we get lots of great artists, musicians, dancers, comedians, etc, who come to perform and show their work there.

3. What kind of music are you into lately?

I feel like I have been in a bit of a musical rut. I used to keep up on new music, but have always loved all kinds of music, so old music is as good as new to me. I recently borrowed a copy of a friend’s Turkish Grooves, which is excellent. I love world music. Hard question…

4. Is etsy/creating your full time business? If not, what do you do in real life?
I am a professional photographer/artist complete with an associates and bachelors from the University of Maine. I have worked for myself for about 10 years. I do portrait work, lots of pregnancy and babies, I do fine art photography for galleries and Etsy, I craft a lot. I do work outside my home one day a week at my friend’s kid’s boutique. I can bring my 2 1/2 year old and it is a fun environment. I will probably stop this in June when I have my new babe, who is said to be a girl.

5. What got you into polaroid transfers? And what are you going to
do without the film?!
Ahhhh, Polaroid transfers. I fell in love with them in University, but could not really afford the equipment of film. About 5 years ago I was able to buy all the stuff I needed, and got really into it. I have taught the process quite a bit, at various art centers and independently. It is a bit strange, because every seems to think I would be lost without Polaroid film, but from the day I found out they had ceased production of 669 for transfers, I felt it was ok. I have had a good run with Polaroid transfers. If I can never make one again, I am happy with what I have made. I have documented everything I have done. And I still have many originals. I guess I will start selling prints, which I don’t like as much, but many people don’t like the small size of the originals, so it may be a good move. I also think that if there is not anymore Polaroid film, it may help artists who have worked with Polaroid to gain a bit more respect for their work. But, I feel that this day in age, that anything can happen. I still feel like Polaroid did this on purpose, to get people to rally, to come forward and say they want the film. And if that was not the intention, that is still what has happened, which is impacting other people as to whether they should start making the film. Fuji makes a film you can work with, in a different way, so all is not lost if I was to continue to work with instant film. I will just have to adapt, which is something I love to do. I like change. It is good for creativity.

6. Was there someone in your life who was a creative inspiration for you?

Growing up it was my Aunt Helen, my dad’s sister. My parents are not terribly creative. They are both in the dental field. And my living grandparents were pretty much “buyers” not “makers”. My dad’s mom was said to be eccentric and creative but she died when I was under 3 years old. Helen is her daughter, and she never had kids, actually doesn’t like them much, but we hit it off from my birth. She took me everywhere as a kid that kids don’t go; galleries, plays, the ballet, fine restaurants. She also took me to lots of kid places, like fairs, libraries, art groups. She is awesome! However, I never really had someone who taught me anything hands on artistic. No one taught me skills. But being with Helen inspired me to learn.

7. What else do you make other than art that you’re great at?

Oh, you are so kind. I try to make everything. I love to cook and bake when I have enough time to enjoy it. I love working with papers and with fabrics, although I am not very good at sewing. It is something I want to concentrate on in the near future. I studied ballet for about 12 years, and sometime I still teach it to preschool kids.


8. When did you first start creating things?

I think I have always had that in me. My daughter is the same, she always asks “what are we making today” or do we have a “project”. As a kid I was given lots of kits for making things, and took a lot of classes. My mom didn’t really do the things with me. As for photography, I was bit by the shutterbug at 7 years old. I was given a 100 camera to document a family trip. I have loved making photographs ever since.

9. What is your creative process like?

Hmmmm, this is a difficult one to put into words. I spend a lot of time kind of brewing or percolating… ideas come to me like breathing. I can come up with millions of things I want to do. But then I need time to think on them, to process them. It is not even a conscious thing all the time. Sometimes I feel like I forgot about an idea, but then it comes to me all ready. Poof. A lot of my process is mental. Living with the idea. If it is photography, I may then make the images, and then work in the process I have chosen for printing, displaying, etc. Or I may have made the images years ago, so I find them, then work with them in mixed media. Most of my artwork is photo based. As for something I am making that doesn’t use my photographs, I may collect the materials, then experiment. I am not really much of a planner for making art. I just kind of start making. The exception to this would be if I am using some kind of technical process for printing, something that needs to be done an exact way, such as some darkroom processes.


10. What’s a cool thing that you think everyone should know about?

Etsy. And Spoonflower is pretty darn cool. You can design and print your own fabric! How cool is that? I want to try it sometime. http://www.spoonflower.com. Ah, so many cool things in this world… I also like the Craft Daily newsletter, because it keeps me up on art, craft, food… sign up here, http://blog.craftzine.com/archive/2007/02/get_craft_daily.html. I also think blogging is a cool thing everyone should know about because everyone has something to say and that they are interested in, and you can meet amazing people via blogging.

11. What’s the craziest thing that’s ever happened to you?

Well, I have traveled the world so many crazy things have happened to me…

12. Where’s your dream vacation spot?

Everywhere, no seriously… ok, I will try to pick. Fiji, Alaska, Scotland, Italy, Greece, Belize, The Galapagos, Kauai, Egypt, Morocco, Japan….

13. What’s the last thing you bought online?

A hardbound photobook of a photo essay I worked on.

14. In a perfect world without the constraints of reality, what would you be doing?
Great question. I would be doing lots more of everything I love, which I try to do a lot of anyway. I would be traveling with my family, creating, collecting all things vintage, cooking, taking workshops, reading, and I would have like 6 kids. As it is now, I will soon have two, but we will probably stop at 3. However, if life bent to my every whim, I would have more kids.

15. Do you make a signature dish? What is it?

If you can’t tell by now, I am more scattered than focused and embrace change, so I cook all the time but can’t really come up with a signature dish. They are always changing. When I think of things people request for me to make they are crepes, veggie burritos, and these oatmeal ginger cookies that people go CRAZY for.

16. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Listen to your heart, follow your dreams, trust yourself, you can be anything, but you need to work for what you want, nothing will be handed to you on a silver platter.

17. What’s your most treasured possession?

Is it weird that I had to think about that one? I would have to say family photos and books and cameras. But, I strongly believe that as much as I love objects, that if I lost everything but still had the people I love, I would be fine. No object can last forever, and I think maybe I am a bit supersitious that if you hold on tightly to something you will lose it.

18. Do you have any pets?

No but have had fish, a bird, a gekko, a turtle, a hamster, cats, and dogs. Never trust someone who doesn’t like kids or animals…

19. What’s your best garage sale find?

Oh man, I am a collector, there have been SO many. Between garage sales, thrift shops, and Freecycle, I have found some amazing things. I guess the things I love to find most are very old photographs and slides, cameras, and vintage books with illustrations.

20. What are you most passionate about?

Making art, helping others (I have been to Haiti and Nicaragua on humanitarian missions, as well as working in the communities I have lived in), for all women to have the choice of natural child birth (I gave birth under the care of a midwife in a birthing center with my daughter and have a planned homebirth with a midwife for the second daughter), our environment, good health.

If you’re interested in learning more about this lovely lady, you can check out her etsy shop here.  She’s also showing on trunkt, and has her own website for her photography business here.  If you want to get more in-depth, she has two great blogs – one about “going green” and one about art and her life.  They both feature awesome ideas, great recipes, wonderful pictures, and awesome insights.  So stop in and say hello!

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This week I got to interview amazing artist (and creative friend) Robayre. I really, really love her work, and would have bought everything in her shop already had I managed to scrounge up the cash. It’s really just too hard to pick, everything is amazing! She also always has some great fun project going, which I always think is fun to follow, and is inspirational as well! She was nice enough to answer some questions for me, so here goes!


1. What did you have for breakfast this morning?
Um, truth? Well, I’ll have to admit it was marshmallows, but this morning was not a typical morning. Normally I’ll have cheerios in a cup on the way to work, or a raisin english muffin, or something portable and on the go. This morning I didn’t have to go to work, so I went to my best friends house where we made homemade marshmallows.

2. What is some of your favorite music of the moment?
I’m a huge music fan! I’ve been to way more concerts than I can count, and I have a very large music collection. Sadly, ever since I bought my first ipod I mostly listen to shuffle. BUT, there has been a CD in my car that I have been listening to constantly for about a month, and surprisingly I haven’t gotten sick of it yet. That CD is Sia’s Some People Have Real Problems. I bought the CD at the beginning of the year when it came out, but didn’t really get into it until I saw this video and thought, “Oh my gosh, that is totally me when no one is looking, and I’m singing along to music by myself!” I had to break the CD out again and have been obsessed ever since.

3. Of all of the creative things you’re doing at the moment, if you only had to choose one, which one would it be and why?
This question is like asking a mother to chose their favorite child, and those who know the way I work would understand. I have my hands in EVERYTHING. As soon as I start working on one thing my eyes roam and I want to be working on something else. I always admire the type of person who works strictly in one medium. But I’m just not like that. I always want what I don’t have.

4. Do you prefer watercolors over acrylic paints?
Hmmm, this is hard to say. I guess I gravitate toward using watercolor more often than acrylics.

5. Is etsy/creating your full time business? If not, what do you do in real life?
With 42 sales in my shop, I’m far from supporting myself with etsy, but wouldn’t that be wonderful? I work as a graphic designer and have been in the field since 1994 at the beginning of my senior year in high school. I love what I do, but as wonderful as the dream is, I fear that my artwork may not feel as special if I was forced to support myself on it.

6. Was there someone in your life who was a creative inspiration for you?
Well, both my parents are hobbyists. My mother is a quilter and crafter, and my father is like myself, having his hands in many areas of interest, from collecting saki cups to being a ham radio enthusiast. I feel like their parenting brought me up to be a person that wants to make and create and do, do, do. As a kid I was constantly desperate to be making something and I think my mom did a great job of feeding that fire by providing supplies and ideas. I often hear people my age and generation say that they grew up without crafts because their mothers were against the typical “womanly crafts”, and I can never relate to that because my parents were very much DIYers back in the day.

7. When did you first start creating things?
I’ve been making stuff since before I can remember. It’s just part of me. I know as a small child I loved art and it was probably when I was in second grade my grandmother paid for me to have private art classes.

8. What is your creative process like? Where do you get your inspiration, and what do you do to keep yourself inspired?
I keep a sketchbook, which gets filled with about 25% sketches and about 75% ideas and inspiration. I feel like I am a font of inspiration, so much so, that I unfortunately struggle with finding time to execute most ideas. Boredom is rarely a word in my vocabulary. I think I can thank my art group (The Makers http://www.themakersargroup.blogspot.com ), my blog and my online communities (flickr, Create A Day, etc.) for keeping me inspired. These things keep me driven to create and share what I am working on the most.

9. What is one cool thing that you think everyone should be checking out right now?
That would definitely be Found Art Tuesday ( http://rosamurillo.squarespace.com/found-art-tuesdays/ ) which just recently started it’s own flickr group that can be seen here ( http://www.flickr.com/groups/foundarttuesday/ ). I’d like to encourage and invite all readers to join there. I feel this project, started by my online friend Rosa Murillo, has so much potential to become something huge. It’s like crossing the idea of pay it forward (doing something good for others without asking for anything in return) with street art. Everyone has the opportunity to add beauty to the world and just imagine if each person participated once a week how exciting life would be. Easter egg hunts all year round.

10. What’s the craziest thing that’s ever happened to you?
Well there was this one time when I was supposed to be watching my baby brother and he was kidnapped by the Goblin King. I had to maneuver my way through this enchanted world to save him, meeting all sorts of strange characters along the way. Finally I defeated the King, who happened to be David Bowie, and brought my brother home safely where I then had a huge party with all my new friends. Oh wait, that didn’t really happen to me, that’s the movie Labyrinth, lol. -That was totally my sister’s idea, she is a bad influence on me, lol.

11. Coke or pepsi?
Thai Iced Tea. I don’t drink pop, it burns my throat and makes me hiccup something fierce.

12. Do you make a signature dish, and what is it?
Well, my boyfriend and I have a favorite meal that we make frequently. It is like the Tuscana Soup from Olive Garden. We got the recipe from that book of famous top Secret recipes and we make a huge batch in the crock pot.

13. What is your favorite thing about where you live?
If you mean in northern Illinois then it would be that we have four seasons, although I wish that the spring and fall seasons would last just a little bit longer. I am definitely in the minority here, and can feel the glares burning holes in me when I state I love snow. If you mean in my city, then I would say that it is because of its relative closeness to one of the world’s largest, greatest cities (Chicago) and yet it is a pretty safe community. If you mean my new house, then it would be that I finally have my own studio room where all my supplies are and all my artwork is made.

14. What is the last thing you bought online?
A felted necklace from artmind.etsy.com

15. In a perfect world where you didn’t have to pay bills or do anything you didn’t want to be doing, what would you do?
Haha, this is funny and deserves a bit of a back-story. A couple weeks ago my family was playing a game where a person asks a question and everyone else has to guess how you’d answer. My question was exactly this same question. It was surprising to me how unanimous it was that everyone knew my answer would be “nothing”. I guess I’m pretty vocal about how if I weren’t required to do anything I wouldn’t do anything. Let me clarify.

You know how you hear people say if they won the lotto and didn’t ever have to work another day in their life they would still get a job? Well, I’m not one of those people. I think those people are people who are easily bored and I am not. I can always think of plenty of fun things to do to entertain myself and that is exactly what I’d do. If you want to get specific, doing nothing equals a lot of artwork. Not that artwork is nothing.

16. Do you have any pets?
Yes, I have a house rabbit named Theo. She is a blonde dutch and is litter box trained. You can see some pictures of her here ( http://flickr.com/photos/robayre/sets/785357/ ).
17. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Everything will be all right. Time to get some Bob Marley in this interview. I get stressed easily and frequently and I try to remember when I start to feel that way how my mom would be able to calm me down. She’d let me know that everything will be okay, especially if you can share what you are stressed about with others.

18. What’s your best garage sale find?
I’m not sure what my best garage sale find is, but I might have just bought it this morning. I scored a Polaroid Color Pack II, Land Camera from my best friend’s grandma’s estate sale. Oh man, it’s so beautiful and almost brand new. I was a little cautious in getting too excited because of Polaroid’s announcement that they are halting production of instant film. BUT, I just found out that Fuji still makes instant film packs that can fit this camera and just ordered some right now.

19. Fill in the blank: if I couldn’t be creating, I would….
probably be dead. I just watched the Diving Bell and the Butterfly ( http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0401383/ ) and the premise is that the main character has a stroke and is fully paralyzed aside from the ability to blink, he then proceeds to write a memoir that is transcribed through blinking. I’d like to think in the most hopeless of situations I’d still be able to create as well.
20. What are you most passionate about?
New projects. When I get really into a new project I want to tell everyone about it.

This was a really great interview! I really enjoyed hearing about someone who’s creative instincts are similar to my own, as it makes me feel as if I’m not totally crazy. Thanks again to Robayre for her patience and for her enlightenment, and happy creating!

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Each week, I’m going to do an interview with an awesome Etsian, illustrator, artist, writer, whatever. Someone who I find interesting and want to pick their brain, but would otherwise not have an excuse to do. I find people’s stories interesting, especially people that inspire me! So we’re going to kick off this week with awesome jewelry designer PiperJ.

PiperJ’s jewelry is understated feminine chic. Delicate and yet daring, it walks the fine line between everyday and special occasion jewelry. You could wear it in any circumstance and not feel self-conscious about it. She uses wonderful materials like gold and sterling silver, and has great taste in semi-precious gemstones. Combined with delicate findings and a great eye for color, her work definitely stands out. Plus, she names all her jewelry after different drinks! She was nice enough to answer my barrage of questions (20, to be exact) and this is what she had to say! So, in no particular order, some questions with PiperJ.
1. What is your favorite color?
My favorite color changes, right now I would say its yellow & brown.

2. If you were stuck on a desert island, what three creative supplies would you bring?
Paper, a paint brush and watercolor paint.

3. What’s a cool thing you think people should be checking out right now?
Agave cactus nectar, I use it as a sweetener instead of sugar or Splenda.

4. What is your signature dish?
I rarely make the same thing twice, so I don’t think I have a signature dish. Lately I have been eating a lot of fish, scallops and mussels.

5. Did anyone inspire you to start creating? Could you share a story?
While my parents and I always made jewelry, Donna Kirsh gave me the opportunity to get into jewelry professionally drilling pieces of glass for pendants in her lofted studio. I was probably 16. Donna was a bit of a free spirit who couldn’t focus so I got to everything from store displays, to packaging to ordering supplies to designing new lines & creating & shipping orders. My well rounded experience working with a professional artist made me hope to one day support myself in a similar manner.

6. What’s the craziest thing that’s ever happened to you?
I got left in Mexico by my high school sweet heart.

7. One pillow or two?
One under my head & one over my eyes. It smells of lavender and knocks me out in a jiffy.

8. What did you have for breakfast today?
Same thing I have most days, yogurt and coffee. Note that it was Horizon organic yogurt.

9. Is Etsy your primary business? What else do you do?
Yes, but on the side I am a consulting engineer in computational mechanics. I am what you would get if a computer scientist, mechanical engineer and applied mathematician had a love child.

10. What’s your idea of a perfect Sunday?
Morning shenanigans with my boyfriend in bed, a big home cooked breakfast followed by some kind of out door activity, then a very nice dinner with family and friends finished off with more shenanigans & some reading / crafting time

11. What color eyes do you have?
Blue with yellow specks.

12. What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
“Take More Math” – Dr James Curry chair of applied math at CU Boulder and personal friend

13. What is your favorite food/color/texture?
kabob kubedeh and everything Persian.

14. What is one interesting thing about you that no one knows?
No one on Etsy? This question is stumping me. No one on Etsy knows I danced ballet for nearly 10 yrs.

15. What are you most passionate about?
Family.
16. What is your best garage sale find?
I have a collection of vintage, antique & Murano art glass. Most of it has come from garage sales and junk stores.

17. What is the last thing you bought online?
Crafting supplies and a hot stone massage kit.

18. Where is your dream house located?
Dream houses … plural … right now I am working on house number one which will hopefully be located on a few acres in the Colorado foothills.

19. If you didn’t have to worry about money or anything else, what is your ideal life like?
Volunteering at animal shelters and spending more time with friends and family, maybe working part time some place fun like a jewelry supply store, & lots and lots of travel.

20. What is your biggest pet peeve?

My boyfriends smacking while he eats.

Many thanks to PiperJ for letting me ask her lots of personal questions! More interview to come, so check back soon. If you have someone you’d like me to interview, please let me know! I’m always eager to talk to anyone that people find interesting.

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