Inspiring places: The Country Living Fair in Columbus Ohio

Country Living Fair Ohio Village Columbus 2014I don’t know about you, but I get a lot of creative inspiration by going out and and seeing what other people are doing. After all, as Kirby Ferguson says, all creative work is a remix of things that have been done before–so embrace the remix!

If you follow Emmet Street Creations on Instagram, you already know that in September I had the chance to go to the Country Living Fair in Columbus, Ohio. Don’t let the name fool you; there is little about “country living” presented here. But, if you like handcrafted home goods, clothing and jewelry, original art, upcycled creations, old junk to repurpose yourself, handcrafted soap and body care products, this is the place for you. (And, if you like the primitive/cute country inspired look, there’s stuff for you, too!) Don’t believe me? Do a search on Pinterest for Country Living Fair and you’ll find a plethora of photos of the wares on display.

Held near the Ohio State Fairgrounds in Ohio Village (a really neat replica of a settlement-era Ohio town run by the Ohio Historical Society worth checking out), this event put together by Country Living magazine has become a fall tradition in Columbus (and has grown to a total of three locations east of the Mississippi: Columbus, Atlanta and Rhinebeck, New York).

My Mom and I spent several hours outdoors in the beautiful fall weather saying “Ooh, look at this!” and “Oh, that’s so cool!” we took home a few treasures and a lot of inspiration (pics below). I’ve got a few projects in mind for the long, dark days of winter…

Country Living Fair Columbus 2014 - Swag and Inspiration

Photos, clockwise (starting top left): Dried natural loofah (vendor unknown); Flying pig pillow, Eric & Christopher; Upcycled Scrabble pendant, The Scrabble Chick; Goat tote, Eric & Christopher

Here are some tips if you plan to attend next year’s Fair:

  • Wear comfortable walking shoes and clothes. You will be walking around a grass and dirt field for many hours. ‘Nough said.
  • Bring lots of patience. Because the Fair has become an established event that a lot of people look forward to, well, there are a lot of people there. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
  • Bring your own shopping bags. The vendors will appreciate you and you’ll appreciate having a comfy tote or granny shopping cart to haul your treasures instead of a plastic shopping bag that will dig into your hand or a paper bag that could have a blow out. (Note: If you buy large items, like furniture, they do have a large item pick up near the exit. The vendors arrange for your purchase to be taken there and then you can drive up to it when you leave.)
  • Bring cash. Because most of the vendors are small outfits, you may be able to negotiate a discount for saving them credit card transaction fees.
  • Bring a packed lunch. You will likely be at this event for several hours. You will get hungry and there are few food vendors at this event and even fewer healthy options. The lines for food are long and the healthiest food option had a two-and-a-half hour wait. I was going to skip eating, until I realized I was getting hangry and treating my companion poorly because of it (sorry, Mom!). Luckily, I found a shortish (meaning around a twenty-minute wait) line for a vendor selling overpriced sandwiches and fruit cups.

Now to you: What gets your creative juices flowing? I’m always looking for new sources of inspiration…

Keep smiling

Keep smiling

Image credit: Smile! by Kenny Louie, on Flickr. CC BY 2.0.

The other day while I was out running some errands, I used the time in my car to ruminate over some of life’s speed bumps that had come my way. I began to feel annoyed that I was letting these thoughts ruin the day and made a plan to turn my mood around.

I decided to treat everyone I met with the feelings I wanted to cultivate in myself: kindness, patience and gratitude. What I didn’t know was that The Universe was going to send me a clear message that this was the perfect choice.

As I got out of the car and headed to my next destination, I walked through the parking lot behind two twenty-something women who just couldn’t find anything to be happy about. In the two minutes I was behind them, they crabbed at the adorable little boy who was with them, cussed at a person they felt was not driving safely (by my observation, the driver was perfectly acceptable) and then completely ignored an elderly man who was trying to exit the store and almost ploughed him over.

As I approached the door, I could see the old man staring at them gobsmacked as they passed by them. The look on his face said it all: “You’re in the prime of your life. You’re young and beautiful; why are you so hard and angry? Appreciate this time, it will pass before you know it.”

I held the door open for the old man. I was determined to make eye contact to let him know he was not invisible to the world, say hello and give him the best smile I could muster.

He looked at me, slid a glance at the grouchy young ladies and shook head. When he got close enough, he thanked me, touched my arm, looked me in the eye and said, “Keep smiling.”

I kept smiling all day.

Editor’s note: Feeling invisible is a common complaint of the elderly, and can add to feelings of depression, uselessness and loneliness. It’s a simple act to smile and say hello to someone. Try it while you’re out and about. It doesn’t take much effort and you never know what a big impact it can make. 

Pausing for a little restorative time…

Some big news is coming soon, so we’re taking a little restorative time to prepare. In the meantime, enjoy this TED talk by one of my personal heroes Susan Cain!


Even Albert Einstein made mistakes

work in progress

I was listening to my local National Public Radio station when a wonderful reminder reached my ears: Everyone makes mistakes.

In this case, the interview subject was talking about Albert Einstein—revered for his genius and contributions to physics—and the errors researchers had found in an archive of Einstein’s work. In fact, researchers estimate twenty percent of Einstein’s drafts contain some type of mathematical error.

It serves as a humble reminder that when you’re trying to learn something new, you may not be a success the first time you try. In fact, you probably won’t. But, your success is a work in progress. You’ve got to keep trying; those stumbles aren’t failures, they’re learning opportunities. Learning what doesn’t work is valuable feedback, and necessary toward reaching your goals.

Think of all the great adventures you’ll miss out on if you let fear of failure hold you back. Facing challenges is like weight training for your brain—the more you work it, the stronger your fortitude becomes. Sure, it might be uncomfortable for a while, but eventually you’ll be able to use your failures to stimulate problem-solving ideas (like salvaging a failed batch of soap) and successfully executing a creative vision.

So, what challenge are you going to face today?