Wednesday, July 29, 2009

20 Questions with Amy Palanjian

1. Name and location.
Amy Palanjian, Des Moines, IA
2. Please describe yourself.
I’m a 29 year old single woman who grew up in New Jersey (where I spent a lot of time canoeing and building sand castles), went to college in Los Angeles (where I learned that I love the scent of jasmine and hiking), spent a year as an AmeriCorps Member building houses with Habitat for Humanity in Durham, North Carolina (where I found my top-notch hammering skills), then eventually moved to NYC to work in magazines. I just moved to Des Moines in May (wondering why? see below!)
3. What is your current occupation?
I am the Deputy Editor of ReadyMade magazine. It rocks.
4. Describe a typical day for you.
On a typical weekday, let’s say a Wednesday, I do an hour or so of yoga (Dave Farmar podcasts are pretty stellar) in my living room, then breakfast and off to work, on my bike when it’s nice. Work, work, work, sometimes with a lunch break in the gardens outside my office, then more work, meetings,ichatting and tweeting with my cohorts, then around 7 I head home. Wednesdays are one of my favorite days of the week because some of my new friends hold “Cake Night”. They, Karen and Arin of Ephemera Stationary Studio have resolved to bake a cake each week and share it with their friends. My kind of girls!
Saturdays start with a trip to the farmers market where I inevitably buy too much produce, then a long bike ride and miscellaneous crafting, cooking, and socializing.
Sundays look pretty much the same as Saturdays except swap in the Sunday NYTimes for the farmers market.
5. What inspires you?
Other creative people, the forest (I love trees!), pink flowers, bright blue skies and thoughtful food.
6. What items do you possess that you can't live without?
My cell phone, whatever quilting project I’m currently working on, and lately my bike.
7. Favorite music
Neko Case
Erotica Trio
Indigo Girls
Bon Iver
Band of Horses
I’m notoriously bad with knowing names of musicians I like, so this is by no means a comprehensive list.
8. Favorite books
Time Travelers Wife
A Homemade Life
Dive from Claussens Pier
Huck Finn
Atlas Shrugged
Prodigal Summer
Three Cups of Tea
The Color Purple
Mountains Beyond Mountains

The Red Tent
On Beauty

How to Cook Everything

The Moosewood Cookbook

Super Natural Cooking
9. Favorite websites
Smitten Kitchen

My Google Reader with all of my favorite blogs:
Sprouted Kitchen
Design Sponge
Apartment Therapy
In Good Taste
Anna Maria Horner’s blog
10. Favorite word
Confusement. I made it up one night playing trivial pursuit with friends. I tend to, as they say, “lose my words” when I’m overly tired, but I think this one is a keeper. It’s more of a state of being bewildered than what confusion speaks to. As in “I’m suffering from a total state of confusement.” See, I told you it’s a keeper!
11. Biggest turnoff
Intolerance, impatience, and lack of curiosity.
12. If you were on death row, what would your last meal be?
A cheeseburger with caramelized onions, cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, and a lot of ketchup, with a wheat beer (like 312 Urban Wheat) and a well-dressed salad. Plus not-too-sweet apple or peach pie, depending on the time of year, with vanilla ice cream for dessert.
13. If you were a superhero, what superpower(s) would you possess?
Unlimited energy, with the ability to also sleep soundly. Oh also to fly back and forth from Des Moines to NYC or NJ without passing through airport security or dealing with flight delays.
14. If you could "try on" another occupation or job for a day, what would it be?
A vegetable farmer or the owner of a quilting shop, like Purl Patchwork.
15. What is your idea of fun?
A long bike ride or hike in a somewhat remote area, followed by a long shower and dinner outside with friends.
16. Please share a milestone or turning point moment from your life.
Last summer I climbed 14,000+ foot Mt. Shasta. It was part of a fundraiser for
Summit for Someone, an organization that funds backpacking trips for inner city youth. It was the biggest physical goal that I have ever set for myself and as it was my first time mountain climbing—using an ice ax, starting a climb at 2 am in the dark by the light of my headlamp, glissading down most of the mountain on my butt—I didn’t know what to expect. It could not have been more amazing. The day was about 13 hours long and I learned a lot about perseverance, working through discomfort and just how much you can achieve if you give yourself the chance. It was all about feeling the fear and doing it anyway.
During the hike back out towards civilization, I realized that I was so much happier in the woods, so I decided that I needed a two year plan to get myself out of NYC. At the time, I wasn’t sure how to live outside of Manhattan and continue to work in publishing. But I wrote myself a business plan and set some real goals. Some I met, some I didn’t, but it made me push myself harder to make things in my life start to change. I may not have wound up in the mountains, but less than a year later, I moved to Iowa for a job I am thrilled about and I have so much more access to nature on a daily basis. It’s been a pretty awe-inspiring year.
17. If you could change anything about yourself, what would it be?
I have a horrible memory when it comes to books and movies and I tend to be difficult to cook with—it’d be nice if I could figure out a way to let someone else help me chop!
18. What hobbies or other interests do you pursue?
I’ve been quilting for about 7 years and I mostly do it all by hand. Which means that each one takes about a year (or more) to finish. Some might say that sounds tedious but I really enjoy that I get to see the results of my efforts in a very real way as I go. Plus, nothing beats the immense sense of accomplishment when I finally do finish.
19. Do you employ any self help/improvement practices in your daily life?
For me, spirituality is tied into who I am. My mom used to be upset that I don’t go to church anymore (I was raised Catholic) but I truly feel that my connection to something greater comes through the way I choose to live my life. Whether that be through yoga, through the way I try to nurture my friendships, my wonder at nature and my need for quiet time, to me, it all counts. I am a very optimistic person by nature but I if I had a mantra, it’d either be “How I do anything is how I do everything”, which helps me remember that it’s all important.
20. What's next for you?
I’m going to continue to explore my new home state, including checking out the State Fair in August (butter sculptures!) and finding some good tree-filled spots. Work will be super busy from now through mid-December as we work on refining the magazine and we hope, the website, which is completely exciting. I’m trying to get a bit back to basics in the kitchen, so I’m going to see what I can do about making more of my weekly staples, like bread, crackers and granola bars both to save some money and to have more control over what I’m eating. I just need to find a better recipe for crackers (the ones I make always turn out a little chewy and stick to the baking sheet, though they are salty which I like) and granola bars. I’m experimenting with variations of whole grain bread and figure the more I bake, the better it will be! I’d love suggestions if anyone has a favorite recipe for any of those three things!


Check out Amy's blog: The Things We Make

Like reading interviews of interesting people? 20 Questions will be a regular fixture on this blog. A new interview will be posted every Wednesday.

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