One of my favorite things to do before, and while I'm writing, is research. I can't imagine what it was like for authors before the Internet. With a touch of a few keys, I can be in another world of fashion and design. I can then describe my character's surroundings, clothing, and sense of style. I use what I see to project myself into another world, so when I write I feel as though I am actually there.
I often get asked, 'where can I see that house?' 'What city were you writing about?' 'Where are those little shops?' Most of which are in my imagination, but not without help from visual aids such as clothing patterns and song lyrics. I also love reading old letters as they give me a peek into another person's private life. I have used several of my father's letters from WWII and some of my great-grandparents' love letters and musings about daily life. I guess I'm a true time-traveler at heart.