What inspires me the most? First and foremost, family.


My grandfather “Cal” or “S.A.C” kept meticulous diaries. I have stacks of them. He was funny, handsome, charming and brilliant. He also worked incredibly hard. I found this old resume of his that is sort of hilarious. He was quite old by the time I was born, but I did catch some of his stories. My mother always lamented that she wished that I had spent more time with him when he was younger. He and I would have been great travel buddies.


My mother was one of the most influential people in my life. She exposed my sister and I to art and played music that normally we wouldn’t have found on our own. We had some crazy pieces from my grandfather’s collection, as a child she would ask her father where a new piece came from and he would say “It was in the free room at the MET.”

When I hear awesome gospel music I am incredibly moved and I remember going to these tiny churches with her in the south when she would have meetings with workers she met in factories, amazing world beat music and of course the Pretenders, Prince, Miles Davis and Talking Heads endlessly remind me of her. Purple Rain was one of the first movies she took me to! Hello! Not for kids!

I remember her fighting for everyone, everywhere. Even years later, there was a janitorial strike at the university she taught at, she went down there, with her father’s old army helmet ready to protest alongside the janitors. She was this tiny woman (5’1″) and had this enormously beautiful singing voice. According to her oldest friends she was a real “firecracker”.

She was a great calligrapher, her handwriting was so crazy that when she wrote me notes excusing me from school some of the teacher’s didnt believe that she had written them. Her illustrations were great, she was so bashful about them and didnt take them seriously. I wish that I had saved what she called “doodles”. I also treasure the photos she took of my sister and I as children. Her endless support of my sometimes insane travels and ideas made me exactly who I am.


She was a labor organizer in the south when I was young and then went on to teach. She taught me the value of people and their work. I have always as a result tried to take care of others. When I lost her, it was one of the most horrible events in my life. I often read a poem that she wrote years ago when I miss her. It really pulls me through hard times. You can too, right over here.


Camp Llewoh. My great grandfather built this house in 1906. It is sacred to my friends, family and myself. It is old and creaky with 5 bedrooms, big wrap around porch, private lake and just 1 hour from NYC. We bubble up with Dr. Bronner’s on the dock and jump into the water to take baths. I adore it. We got married there, 150 plus people, no electricity, no running water, just southern bbq and a jug band. It was awesome. The name is Howell (family name) spelled backwards. My friend Jenene is an amazing photographer and always takes the best pictures of Camp Llewoh and of my son Henry.


A lot of reading happens, a lot of scrabble and a lot of long, laborious and lovingly prepared meals happen. Without electricity, there is no internet, only propane lights, stove and fridge and no television. It’s pretty great.


Dogs, obviously are welcome.


Of course these guys. My son is endlessly inspiring. Mostly when it come to my design for children.


These are two of his favorites and maybe mine as well.


My husband, K.Thor Jensen is hilarious, handsome and so talented as a writer and cartoonist. I love these boys more than anything in the world. They both inspire me to work harder, to maintain a good life for my family and everyone who surrounds us.


I love feeding people, seriously it’s almost a problem. I worked in the food industry in my younger years. I love Tastespotting. It’s like a gateway drug to other food sites. If you haven’t been to Tastespotting yet, I warn you, don’t! You will get trapped. It is a constant inspiration for dinner and cookies in this house.
Photo from tastespotting via Nordljus.


Also, this couple is amazing. Naomi and Jeffrey travel and collaborate on cookbooks together. There are stories and beautiful photographs. This book has such simple and tasty recipes. I never thought I could make my own dumplings and have them taste good. A great great book! Beyond the Great Wall.


Photos from Public Radio Kitchen and Walrus Magazine. I also regard the book How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman, as my kitchen bible. If I could have two husbands, I would totally marry this dude. Thor is okay with it. Seriously, this book is something you have to have.

I urge you to get these cookbooks! They will make you happy!


Art, clearly inspires me. From a drawing that Henry has made of what he thinks is a “pie” or something so simple it’s brilliant to me. Or an amazing painting with such incredible detail and skills that are beyond me. These paintings are by someone I went to elementary school and highschool with. Matt Brackett was that kid who was an amazing artist from birth I swear. I still also have vivid memories of him being really good at that super early computer drawing program (logo?) and being in total awe. Also, he is just a really nice person.


Clearly, I love painting because I am lousy at it.
I love these pieces by my friend Laura Greengold.

Nick Nixon did this great project taking pictures each year of his wife and her sisters. For a couple of years he took pictures of my sister and I. I need to find those. I’ve moved too much.


Next up is David Newsom and his ethereal photos, I love his water photos and his photos of Los Angeles (People are always shocked when I say that I love LA). We love his book Skip, too. His wife (and one of my oldest and dearest friends) Siรขn Heder is equally amazing. Check out her short film Mother. Seriously great stuff.



I’m suppose I am drawn to really peaceful imagery since mine can be so insane I guess. In general I post crazy color explosions, but I wanted to share a different side of me.
I could go on and on and on here but, I’ll just save the rest for another post.

Please also check out my friend Matt Logelin. We donate a portion of each sale from my site to the amazing Liz Logelin Foundation.

Thanks for stopping by! Check out the Blog It Forward Schedule on sfgirlbybay blog. Thanks for organizing this Victoria!

Oh and don’t forget to check out my contest that I posted about earlier today!


  • Aww, reading this makes me miss you. Your wedding day was so special and your mom’s spirit was there with all of us for sure. ๐Ÿ™‚
    Ezra Jack Keats is one of my favorites, too!

  • Holy Mackerel. This is an amazing post. I have now bookmarked pretty much everything/one you’ve linked to. Just lovely…

  • Thanks Shayna and Cornelia! Im still so sad that we couldnt make it to your wedding Cornelia!

  • I absolutely love the progression from blk/white old photography to the color illustrations and then end n with the
    photo with such etheral qualities.

  • Your mother was so much! Miss her. Miss you.

  • Really amazing photos. I’m jealous of your family cabin by the lake; that’s what my husband and I want to create for future generations of our family! Thanks for sharing all of this beautiful stuff with us!

  • Friday

    You are such a talented person. I loved reading this – so touching and full of love. Sometimes you follow someone on Twitter or whatever, and you don’t really know the depth of that person. Thank you for revealing such a touching portrait.

  • what a great post! you have such an amazing family – you’ve clearly inherited so much from them. thank you for sharing with us! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Thanks so much for putting up with all of us and putting it all together. I dont know where you find all the energy!

  • love all of this. you’ve got some great stories, i especially love the resume! inspires me to get back to keeping journals & writing things down. i also love the photograph of the girl (you?) and the big dog! how could a cute pup like that NOT be welcome ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • That photo is me, my mother took it. I should take pictures of all the journals of my grandfathers and post them. We wrote them in several languages.

  • your post was awesome, i could relate to a lot of what you said in the beginning of it, your mom sounds like she was a pretty amazing woman!

  • Your grandfather’s resume has officially blown my mind.
    Incredible post Sara. Seriously, WOW.

  • Just discovered you via Shilo’s twitter.
    Found that resume to be incredibly interesting – especially since I curently live a few blocks away from “48 St. Marks Place, St. George, Staten Island, New York.” ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Heather, I would LOVE it if you could take a picture of the building! Please! I wont be back in NYC until July.

  • Sara – of course I could take a photo for you. I’m pretty sure it’s a house… where can I send it?

  • Oh that would be great!
    lostbirdfound at the gmail! Thank you so much!

  • I love the photo of you as a child, it says so much about you and what kind of childhood you must have had!

  • Don’t know what is wrong what is rite but i know that every one has there own point of view and same goes to this one..

  • We would certainly want to have some slack in the food system so that unexpected drops in production in a particular region can be compensated by production from other regions.

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