This Creative Family: Karen Bannister + Slow Cooker Spaghetti and Meatball Recipe

Hello Creative Family This Creative Family Interview with Karen Bannister plus a recipe for Karen's Homemade Slow Cooker Crockpot Spaghetti and Meatball Recipe

Hi Everyone! I’m very excited to reveal our new monthly series to you! Our This Creative Family interview series!

I first started my life in the “blogging world” on Tumblr with a Tumblr account called She Is Sew Creative: Those and That Which Inspire Me, I was enthralled with the idea of other people’s creative processes and how they became “creatives”. When I started Sew Creative I had a regular interview series called “She Is Sew Creative” where I interviewed my friends about their etsy stores, their creative spaces and how they came to sell their handmade products online. 

When Karen and I started talking with each other and others about rebranding Sew Creative to be Hello Creative Family there was an idea that everyone reacted to:

Creative parents raise creative kids, but often adults lose their creative self when they get married and have children. We want to help parents ignite their creative spark so they can raise their children in a creative, homemade, handmade, heart-made home. 

I have no doubt that the reason I am creative today is because my parents were both creative. Not only did they do creative activities with me, but I also witnessed them being creative during their solo time– My mom sewing, drawing and baking, my dad woodworking in his shop.

They say that children are more likely to read for pleasure if they witness their parent’s reading for pleasure and I believe that children are more likely to be creative if they witness their parents being creative. For me, being told that I or my children are creative is one of the greatest compliments I could receive. Creativity is what makes this world such a fascinating place to live!

The idea of interviewing parents about their creative homes is fascinating to me– To learn what creativity means to them, to hear who they credit their creativity to, to see if their children have started to develop any creative passions of their own. That’s the idea behind This Creative Family. I thought it would also be fun for each interviewee to share one of their favorite projects or recipes with us that you can try at home. I hope that you end up loving this series as much as I do!

I couldn’t think of a better person to interview first than my partner in creative– Karen Bannister. Karen’s writing has inspired me since I first met her. The words that spill out of her are real, raw, honest and beautiful. I wish that I could express myself in writing the way that Karen does. 

So without further ado, I introduce you to Karen and her creative family.








This Creative Family: Karen Bannister + Slow Cooker Spaghetti and Meatball Recipe

Thanks Crystal! I am so happy to be the first Creative Family feature and to have this opportunity to introduce you to my beautiful creative family. 

Karen Bannister, Publisher of

Name: Karen Bannister

Your blog or website address:

Your social media handles: 

Twitter @hellocreativef, @kabannister

Instagram @hellocreativekaren, @hellocreativefamily

Pinterest @hellocreativef

Facebook @hellocreativefamily

In 2-3 sentences, please share with our readers who you are: Hopelessly idealistic introvert and lover of all things beautiful, including a well-crafted sentence. A writer – of essays, poems and a book under my own name, as well as pieces I’ve ghostwritten for clients of my business Arrow-Ink Communications – I admire eloquent novelists and people who can rhyme on the spot. Mother to three gorgeous children, an aging Labrador Retriever who gave up listening to me, and wife to the world’s most supportive, generous, patient husband. Type-A… I like to run fast. Sometimes I break the rules…and write 4-5 sentences ;)

When we say creative, you say: personal expression.

What or who do you credit yourself being creative to? My parents, for being creatives themselves, for telling me I can do anything, and for making me believe there was a lot of powerful stuff inside of me.

Have any of your children started to express themselves in a creative way? All three of my children express themselves creatively, and in different ways. Jack, my oldest, loves to build with Lego and has come up with his own unique designs. He is a future architect or engineer, though science has his heart at the moment. Eleanor, my middle child, has been coloring within the lines since she first picked up a crayon. I am super excited because I think she inherited some of my Dad’s artistic talent. Her ability to pair colours in vibrant combinations blows me away. Isaac is 2.5 and very rough and tumble. He has an incredible imagination and is the kid you’ll find off to himself acting out the last episode of Paw Patrol. He is my thespian. I studied drama, so that warms my heart.

What is your greatest creative accomplishment: Believing that it is yet to come.

Life can be challenging at times. When you think of some of your greatest challenges, how do you feel your creative energy has helped you move forward. Have these challenges inspired any of your creative work?

I created a blog when I was diagnosed with Postpartum Depression (after the birth of my first child). I wrote raw pieces about the things I was experiencing – including the thoughts that I was having (those that scared me the most, and those that pulled me up a little bit closer to the light). I always seek an outlet for my most complicated feelings, and for me, I express myself better in writing than I do in speech. And when words don’t quite do it, I find music or art can bring me to a better place. I think because of my experiences, and my creative flow in those dark moments, I can see the pain behind some of the world’s most beautiful and complicated works of art. 

Who inspires your creative energy the most? How do you use that inspiration in your everyday life?

I am in awe of the creative energy of those around me and I think they inspire me to be true to my own spirit. Probably the best gift they give me, when I am really listening, is the reassurance that creativity is personal and everyone can and should express themselves in their unique ways. My mom makes my kids the most beautiful bags and pillows and she is probably the world’s best cookie maker (really, you won’t believe how good they are!). I am downright jealous of my father’s artistic talent, he is a gifted painter and woodworker; I am afraid I just didn’t inherit this talent! My husband sees things in a way that I often can’t; he’s a computer programmer and his creative is in rules and equations – it is an intricate and fascinating world. And Crystal of course, my partner in crime, makes me laugh because she “whips” this up, and that up with such grace … and my kids, each creative in their unique way they show me what is possible.

How did your childhood impact where you are today in your creative journey?

I grew up around creativity; my grandmother was an amazing cook and every Sunday after church we gathered for her fresh buns (she’d get up at all hours of the early morning to create them). She also made her own candy and, influenced by the hard times they lived in, could really make great meals with whatever was available. She was my mother’s mother and I think my own mom inherited the creative spark. My mom loves to bake and sew and makes both seem effortless.

I’d like to share a recipe my mom adapted from my father’s mother, and which I have in turn changed over the years that I have been making it for my own family. I am quite known for my meatballs, so it seemed like the perfect project! The thing I love about food, if I can be sentimental, is that it brings people together. At my wedding I had a cookie buffet. My mom baked several of my grandmother’s cookie recipes and we put them out, along with the recipe cards, for people to enjoy. My grandmother had passed on and it was my way of honoring her, celebrating in that sadness and showing how important nostalgia, where you come from, and family is. 

But really, the most impactful thing from my childhood is something my father says to me – still. “You can be anything you want to be.” I believe that.

With the interview done, here’s the great Lehtovaara (my maiden name) meatball recipe. I am sharing my mom’s version.

Homemade Heart-made Slow Cooker Spaghetti and Meatballs Recipe

Ingredients for Sauce:

  • 1/3 cup chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1 tin mushrooms or 1/2 cup fresh
  • 28 oz spaghetti sauce (homemade or your favourite store-bought kind)
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • pepper, to taste
  • 8 oz tomato sauce
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Directions for Sauce:

  • In a sauce pan over medium, heat a bit of oil. Add the garlic and onion and cook until the onion becomes translucent. Add the mushrooms.
  • Stir in spaghetti sauce, tomato sauce and spices. 
  • Add 1/2 the sauce to a slow cooker, reserve the second half to pour over the meatballs.

Homemade, Heart-made spaghetti and meatballs on

Ingredients for Meatballs:

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1/2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup grated or powdered parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup fine bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup milk (my mom wants me to tell you that canned milk actually works best. No skim milk here!)
  • 1 egg
  • pepper to taste

Directions for Meatballs

  • Put all of the meatball ingredients together in a bowl and mix with your hands (best way!), Form into balls about the size of a golf ball. Place these on top of the sauce in the slow cooker, and then pour the second half of the sauce over top. 
  • I cook my meatballs all day, as much as 8 hours. You could check them after 6 and see how they are doing. One of the things I love about this recipe is it really is just a starting point. 


Homemade Heart-made Spaghetti and Meatballs on 

Thank you for giving me this chance to share with you my creative family. 

This Creative Family: Karen Bannister, Publisher of


Publisher & Creative Director of Hello Creative Family. Crafty girl who loves to write about homemade, handmade, heart made projects. Mom, bookworm & professional tea drinker. Hoarder of colored sharpies, fabric and mason jars. Motto: Live life creatively!

'This Creative Family: Karen Bannister + Slow Cooker Spaghetti and Meatball Recipe' have 2 comments

  1. December 13, 2015 @ 9:59 pm Victoria Ess

    That recipe sounds delicious! I’ll definitely be trying it!


  2. April 25, 2016 @ 12:33 pm Emma Sterling

    I think everyone should check out this family organizer,! It’s made planning and organizing my family so much simpler. I absolutely love it!


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