Creative Family Series | Salsa Pie
When you meet Caroline Urdaneta, it’s hard not to fall in love. She’s warm, friendly, a great story teller and crazy smart. Oh and she has this glow that radiates from within. I’m not even kidding, she’s that cool.
There’s lots to love about Caroline. One of my favorites is how she inspires others to embrace their creative side, adults and kids alike in such an affirming way that you’re left feeling like you could do anything. That, and I suspect she really does believe you could do anything. It’s like she’s your own personal creativity coach cheering you on from the sidelines. Pretty awesome, no?
But you don’t have take my word for it. Let’s hear from Caroline herself.
How would define creativity?
I think being creative can mean anything from making-up a song in the shower to painting a still life. I always hear people say, “Oh! I am so not creative!” And then I watch as they cook the best meal I’ve ever eaten. Or, they’ll sew an amazing outfit for their child. Or, they’ll figure out an ingenious way to keep some creaky old step from creaking. Everyone just has a different way of being creative, but creativity is not exclusive.
Have you always considered yourself creative?
It’s weird because I was definitely creative when I was a child (I was always entering school art contests and I was very involved in theatre) but I went through a phase right before college where I didn’t feel very creative at all. But, I think it’s pretty normal to have lulls in our creative lifespan. In my early twenties, working as the assistant curator at a sculpture garden and being surrounded by so much creative energy reinvigorated me. I started painting again during that time period of my life and really rediscovered my creative self. It was like a reunion with an old friend.
How do you nurture your own creativity?
Quiet time. Which is rare because we have four children! But actually, our children absolutely inspire me creatively. I’ve considered motherhood the most creative phase in my life. With children, there are so many creative needs to fill. That in itself is inspiring.
Did you grow up in a creative household? If so, what were some of the ways your parents nurtured your creativity and curiosity?
I’m definitely coming from a creative family. My great grandmother wrote for Harper’s Bazaar in the 1930s and was a talented artist. She walked around the house with pencils stuffed in her bun in case she had an idea or wanted to sketch something. Her creativity (and embracing of it) influenced just about everyone in my family. My mother is very artistic and on the other side of my family, my father’s mother loved to paint and she was very prolific with her work.
Growing up, my parents nurtured my creativity by giving me the freedom to create. They let me build forts all over the house and decorate my room however I wanted. There weren’t too many rules regarding what I could make and what I couldn’t. One time, I remember just randomly deciding to make cheese in the kitchen. I was probably 10 years old. I made a huge mess with the cheese cloth and milk everywhere. But, when my mother walked into the kitchen, she was proud that I was being creative and she never got upset at me for making a mess. As a mother myself now, when I look back at that I have to give her so much credit. She didn’t want to squelch that creative spirit in me and she didn’t.
How do you nurture it in your children?
By giving them the freedom to create and imagine. I’m a big believer in not helicoptering around the the kid’s creative time. Not every project should look like it belongs in a magazine. In fact, the most interesting and brilliant things my children have created are normally crafted from duck tape and plastic butter tubs with Q-tips sticking out. Children are usually less concerned with the outcome of a project. They tend to be fascinated by the process and that can be a huge lesson to artists everywhere.
What are some of your favorite ways to spend time together as a family?
My husband is from Venezuela and salsa dancing is a hugely popular there. He’s influenced our family a great deal in that way. We spend a lot of time as a family dancing in the kitchen. We salsa or we just do really goofy robot moves if we’re in that kind of mood. We play music from artists like Ruben Blades when we want to salsa and the kids really love it when we play Sérgio Mendes too. Dancing is so universal for all ages it’s a great family activity. Also, on the weekends when we don’t have anything going on, we plan “family days”. We pick an activity like going to the zoo or a nice park and we just spend the day together with no major agenda.
How have you been able to integrate work with pursuing your creative passions?
Blogging is the perfect way to incorporate my creative passions into work. Bloggers write, photograph, create or do all three. In my case, I do all three so it’s very fulfilling to me. I also love the feeling of a connection when I share an idea. I offer ideas and I embrace ideas. I like to see blogging as a dialogue. Sharing is a valuable part of the expression of any art form. An artist would paint and leave his work in a dark closet if he didn’t want anyone to see it, right?
Tell us how you got into blogging?
One day, I literally googled “rainy day craft projects for kids”. After I searched, I realized that many of the projects I found required a bunch of supplies I didn’t have. With small children at home, I didn’t have the time (or budget) to run around shopping for craft supplies (especially not in the rain). So, I thought to myself, “there needs to be a blog or website that encourages creative time using what you have around you.” Later that day after the kids and I had randomly covered some paper in glitter, I opened up a Blogger account and started blogging about it. Salsa Pie turned into something of a hybrid of crafts for the kids, DIY projects and sometimes even a spot for me to share my thoughts on motherhood. It’s kind of still evolving but at the core of it all, I hope I can encourage people to be more resourceful. We can’t teach our children to be innovative if we aren’t.
What are you working on now?
Keeping myself organized! I could always use some pointers with that! I do have a few fun things coming to fruition. Off the top of my head, I’ve just been asked to be a regular contributor to one of my favorite community craft blogs called SIDAC. I also have a project I worked on potentially coming out in magazine this summer. I’ll know more about that later. I also have plans to rejuvenate the recipes portion of my blog and have it focus on kids cooking in the kitchen. I’ve waned a little with my creativity in the kitchen recently but I plan to concentrate a little more on that throughout the remainder of this year. My kids love to cook so that inspires me.
From time to time everyone’s creative juices wane. How do you handle that? Does it cause you any anxiety or do you just let it pass?
Oh yes! That definitely happens to me. I find that when I have a lot of stressful things going on, I have trouble with lightbulb moments. I normally just let the lulls pass on their own. I’ve learned when I have creative juices waning, that is usually an indication I need to focus on something else. I tend to be more reflective in those periods which is an important precursor to creativity.