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Just a smidgen’s Barbara Bamber: Creating beauty in the everyday

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If you're a fan of beautiful things, Barbara Bamber's award-winning blog should find its way into your bookmarks. “I’m drawn to beauty and find it everywhere—in my children’s eyes, hoar frost on branches, the turn of a phrase or melodic notes.”

Blogging became a natural fit for this realtor and mother of two because it gave her a quiet place to share what she loves. She started “Just a Smidgen” in 2010, an award-winning, visually arresting blog that follows her creative experiments at homefrom new recipes in the kitchen to redesigning her home office. 

As part of our series on great Canadian blogs, we asked Barbara about her love of beautiful things and the importance of being an optimist.

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What made you decide to start blogging? 
The idea of blogging began after I compiled a binder full of family recipes for my children that they could have when they moved out on their own. I discovered blogging was an easier means for recording recipes that could then be accessed online. From there my blog simply blossomed into so many new avenues. I discovered still life photography was a great companion hobby for blogging. Food writing allowed me to also share bits of my life, random thoughts and observations about the world that I thought my children might turn to when they were older. I began volunteering and sharing my baking creations. Then crafting and decorating seemed like a natural new extension. In time the actual construction, layout and design of the blog became a passion as well. Maybe someday I’ll take a website design class!

Why “Just a smidgen”? 
Growing up, my mother June Barry and I often baked together and she would always tell me to add “just a smidgen” of a certain ingredient. My mom was a source of inspiration for me, growing up I watched her develop into a talented painter. As a blog name, I also thought it would reflect sharing “just a smidgen” of the beautiful in my world. These days, I dabble in so many artistic endeavours that each post is also “just a smidgen” of some new creative inspiration. I’m a pretty small person as well, so… 
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It’s clear that you are an optimist. What makes you decide to write about the beautiful things in life? 
I love that my blog is perceived that way, because sometimes I feel that I am not optimistic enough. My blog began as a bit of a journal of gratitude. Every new project has at its centre some sort of personal inspiration that is meaningful to me. It might be the soft touch of a flower’s petal, a photograph, a memory, or just a feeling that “insists” on being expressed through a poem. So blogging brings into focus that joy and optimism I long for.

You experiment with recipes, redecorate your home, write poetry and are trying to learn the cello. What do you love most about undertaking creative projects? 
The idea that anything is possible! It would also have to be that moment of inspiration, the excitement of a new undertaking. There literally is a little voice in my head that says “I think I could do that.” Even if the outcome isn't exactly what I’d hoped, the process of creating is exciting. Someone once told me I couldn't learn to play the cello, that I was too old. I believe anything is possible, for anyone, it’s just a matter of patience, practice and time. I love that my cello playing inspired another blogger to take up the violin!

What do you love most about writing? 
I started writing short stories in grade 4, journalled in junior high and began writing poetry in high school. These days, inspiration often comes in the wee hours of the morning. Words materialize in my thoughts and I tiptoe downstairs to get them put down in a poem before they vanish. Whether it has any value outside of my blog or not is completely irrelevant. I think poetry is a very personal expression, not something that is put out there for others to judge or evaluate. I write because I’ve always written and because I love the process. Digitally, you can superimpose a poem on top of photographs. I love reading other poets and writers as well and the blogging platform removes all intermediaries and publishers. You get to instantly connect with the writer and his/her work.
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What's your advice for aspiring bloggers? 
I think blogging is a wonderful way to create, connect and share your world, no matter your passion. The platform is quite easy to learn if you begin with a pre-formatted wordpress.com website. Read other bloggers’ work and leave them nice comments, then they will visit you. Most importantly, find your own voice and be true to yourself. No one wants to read a blog that is “just like” the rest. Every blogger I read has a very distinct and unique style of writing and a blog theme that's their own, which makes them a joy to connect with. Write often, create often, celebrate your life!


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