Friday, April 26, 2013

::this moment::hibbledy-hobbledy::

Joining in with Amanda's "This Moment"
Have a lovely weekend!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

thursday morning

She always wakes up on time to kiss her big brother and sister goodbye when they head off for school.

But first she shows off how well she can push herself up, wonders about her bedhead, and is so completely soft, warm, rosy, and kissable that I can hardly crawl out of bed.

I hear the ritual whines of "I don't waaaannnnaaa go to school" from this one, who perks up after a bite to eat. We wrestle through the ritual hair brushing, the ritual refusal of whatever clothes I picked out of the clean laundry pile last night, and the ritual reminder not to give her the "hot" toothpaste. Dressed, brushed, teeth cleaned, she's excited to head out the door. But first, she winds herself in "mommy's blankie" and growls at anyone who comes near.

He talks to his beloved baby sister as he waits for his toast to pop, and tries to ignore the bickering that has already begun at the kitchen table. He'll eat, then wander around looking for his Star Wars figures instead of brushing his teeth and getting dressed, until I play my prescribed role and say my line: "If you don't get ready now you won't be taking any figures to school with you!!" He knows I'm bluffing. I've got a soft spot for a kid who loves Han Solo.

In a flurry of coat-layering (it's below 0 degrees here first thing in the morning, then soars into the teens by noon), spit-washes, double-checking of backpacks, and hurried kisses, they're off down the lane way.

I'm left with my two littlest girls. The one who woke me up an hour ago is ready for her first nap in the sling, and the other wants me to cuddle in to watch Tinkerbell with her. My drop spindle beckons, abandoned before I even got my hands on it last night when the baby woke up just as I sat down.

Coffee in hand, baby in sling, drop spindle in the other hand, I'll say yes. Just this once.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Yarn Along: Sun and Snow

I'm joining in with the Yarn Along over at Small Things.
I'll admit, I haven't participated in the Yarn Along for awhile because *gasp*...I've been off knitting! I just haven't felt inspired, and I have such limited time these days. I actually packed up my knitting basket and prepared to move it upstairs to the attic for the time being...but couldn't do it. I've been doing a bit of embroidery when I have a moment and it's satisfied my itch to create.

But yesterday, I finally had a friend teach me to use a drop spindle. I'm afraid that my children and housework may be neglected for the present. There truly is magic in the alchemy of the wool-to-yarn transformation, an energy that vibrates through your fingertips when you've achieved just the right amount of twist. I love that moment of adding a new piece of roving, when you pinch just below the join...then release it, and zip! The twist travels quickly up creating an almost seamless strand of beautiful yarn.

I'm addicted. Just like that. There is no sipping aloud when it comes to's more of a chug-a-lug, at least in my (since yesterday) experience.

Reading will be taking a backseat for now, I suspect. I enjoyed Anita Rau Badami's Tell It to the Trees, a tale about isolation, both physical and emotional, and the lengths to which a child will go to salvage her patchwork family. Now I'm reading Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimimanda Ngozi Adichie. 1960s Nigeria, and Biafra's struggle to establish an independent state. 

The children have enjoyed The Adventures of a Nose. The artwork is original and clever and the story is inspiring, all about fitting in and sticking out.

Monday, April 22, 2013

two people in love

45 years ago, these two were married. They created and raised four children. This past weekend, they renewed their vows to one another. We gathered as a family to celebrate, and got a rare family photo with just their children: my siblings and me!

12 years ago, these two people met, and married three years later.

And now we have four of our own. Isn't life marvelous?
(and isn't Norah's mischievous face hilarious as she tousles her big brother's hair?)

Friday, April 19, 2013

::this moment::split rail fence::

Joining in with Soulemama's "this moment""...
Have a weekend full of splashing and climbing stuff in rubber boots!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

a dancer with bruised knees

Imagine travelling before the 1960s, when people carried suitcases! There's such romance in the click of the clasps, the tiny key hole, and the little rack on which to suspend clothes on hangers. Imagine travelling with clothes on hangers! I have a stack of these old cases, and my girls have taken to playing with them.

I want to go where she's going...a place where essentials include a top made of gold coins, a silver shawl, things made of lame and sequins and beads and fringe. And wings and a wand. She tells me ballet school is her destination.

She decides at the last minute that packing a feather pillow makes her suitcase too heavy, and shifts her clothes into a smaller case covered in old stickers from France, Spain, Switzerland, Portugal.

I kiss her goodbye and wish her well, and even though ballet school is just in the kitchen, I feel a twinge of trepidation at the thought of her heading out the door for real someday, a back pack full of dreams and the things she finds essential (even though she assures me today that she will work as an ice cream girl and will live with her mom and dad forever).

 The night before she leaves, I'll slip courage, curiosity, common sense, and a kiss into it to send her on her way.

But for now, I'll follow her into the kitchen, where I'll be magically transformed from mama to ballet teacher.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

You know what's fun?

(Besides wearing tutus all day, with optional snow boots, of course)...

A plateful of shaving cream, that's what.

Silence the voice in your head that is whispering "But the mess!!" It's really easy to clean up; it just wipes off with a wet cloth! It's worth the entertainment value...I got two hours, easy, of no-fighting, lots-of-giggling play time out of these two little women. 

Shaving cream mustaches and beards. Shaving cream polka-dots on arms and legs. Scoop it into smaller containers, then add water and stir till it looks like whipped cream. Spread it back on the plate and put it in the wood stove oven like a pie. It's so delightfully squishy.

If you have a little one who is learning letters and numbers, you could even spread it on a baking sheet and have them write in it. So. Much. FUN!

And the post-shaving-cream-play bath was fun, too.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Practiced Values

The pale blue blankie in the background is Violet's. And don't you forget it.

About one minute out of our driveway, Violet realised she'd forgotten her blankie. The timing of our trip was carefully planned, and I calmly told her we'd get it when we got home. This resulted in a full blown tantrum.

I resisted the urge to threaten her with the classic, "Don't make me stop this car..." line. I did ask her calmly if she wanted me to stop at a neighbour's house and have daddy pick her up, as I didn't have time to drive her home to get the blanket. In hindsight, I probably did have time, and probably should have turned back, but had dug myself into that "follow through" hole by declaring that I was NOT going to turn back.

For twenty minutes, she screamed, I want my blaaaaaaankiiiiieeeeee!! in her most shrill voice.  Jude had his fingers in his ears, I turned the radio up a bit, and breathed deeply through my nose. So many responses floated through my head. Yelling, screaming, threatening, coercing, and bribery all raised their hands as possible choices.

However, I've just finished reading Brene Brown's Daring Greatly, and something really stuck with me about wholehearted parenting. She writes about "aspirational values" vs.
"practices values". For example, if we want our children to understand that it is wrong to hit others, we shouldn't slap their bum when we're mad. Seems like a no-brainer, but I'm uncomfortable admitting how often I fail to model the behaviours I encourage in my children.

I may be a dog who is getting older, but it's always helpful to learn new tricks in this circus we call parenting.

 I talked Violet through her feelings, listened to her, responded calmly, for twenty whole minutes (yes, I was watching the clock). I talked with her about what she loves about her blankie, about how she feels when she holds it, and offered her my scarf as a substitute. We talked about how we can only control how we respond to disappointment and "bad things", and that sometimes we can't control what happens to us. We talked about our 5-days-of-rain camping trip last summer, and how we had to make the best of it because we couldn't change the weather.

I felt like the most amazing mother in the world! 20 minutes of patience, and voila, her spirit was intact, the blankie was forgotten, and I'd modelled how to process our feelings and deal with disappointment! I was already picturing the moment where I was handed the bouquet of roses while a tiara was placed on my head as I received the Mother of the Year award.

Then I realised my bank card was at home.

Oh, Brene Brown. Thank you for writing your wonderful book.

My normal reaction would have been to shout, swear, cry, and talk angrily to my kids when they whined about the promised french fries that we'd no longer be getting.

I may have said one or two swear words. I'm not perfect yet.

Then I asked for a few moments of quiet so I could try to figure out a way around our problem. I drove to my mom's friend's house to use her phone. She wasn't home. I found a pay phone and called my husband to get him to transfer money to my Visa, just in case. The process wouldn't go through till the next day. I drove to an ATM on the off chance that I could fool it into letting me use my Visa instead of a debit card. No such luck. Darnit, those ATMs are smart!

I gave up, and headed back out of town. Then I thought, why don't I go to the grocery store and see if they'll run my card through just to see if I could access any funds. I wound my way through the downtown, and finally arrived at the outskirts on the other side. After the subtle  JANET TO CASH TEN!! announcement over the PA system, I almost-tearfully explained the situation to the manager. She told me they don't even accept VISAs.

 My kids were taking in all my optimism and deep breathing, all the while crossing their fingers for French fries. I told them we couldn't get anything. I was Debra Winger in Terms of Endearment, except John Lithgow did not step up to rescue me. Then the kids had to pee.

So, I did the walk of shame to the grocery store restroom, praying that I wouldn't run into anyone I knew because I figured I'd burst into tears if anyone talked kindly to me. I had a bit of time to think about why I felt shame...just in case Brene ever reads this.

We headed home then. I told Violet that I felt inside like she had when she realised she'd forgotten her blanket. I felt like crying and screaming and whining and kicking things. But I knew it wouldn't change things. My head was throbbing with the effort, I can tell you. I got us all home, sniffing back tears at the waste of time, at the fact that I'd used up two hours of the kids' weekend, at the idea of having to go out again to get groceries later in the day.

But I didn't freak out! I wish I had Brene Brown's phone number. She'd be so proud to know that her book had such a profound effect on one little family. 

When we got home, Robin hugged me as I whispered, "I need to figure out how to release the pressure that's building in my head!" (cue the waiter arriving with a gin and tonic, a cigarette, and a whole lot of chocolate...I recognized that wish as a desire to numb my feelings. See Brene? I get it!) I washed the dishes, then called my dad who made me laugh, and poof, it was gone.

It just became a story to tell, and no longer held the power to upset me. And I also have a reference point to share with Violet the next time she freaks out. 

Do you hold aspirational values that you find hard to practise? 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Shifting Focus

I was going to write a post about how insane our weekend was. A playful wrestle that ended with Margot mashing her face into the floor (and a fat lip, squashed, swollen nose, and scraped forehead). 5:30 am wakeups. A baby that will only nap while being carried in a sling. My much-anticipated,carefully orchestrated (nurse the baby, run to town, shop, and run back, all in 2 hours) twice monthly trip into Renfrew for a "big grocery shop" that came abruptly to a halt (after driving forty minutes and promising the kids french fries when we were done) when I realised I didn't have my bank card on me. Arriving home with my head feeling like it would explode with subdued frustration, only to have my late lunch interrupted by Margot getting stung by a wasp upstairs. Then Violet getting stung moments later. A sweet kitten scratching Margot's cheek.
But I didn't take pictures of any of those moments. 
I only took pictures of our kitchen ballet class, taught by Violet in her incarnation as Miss Diamond, teaching her student, "Lily". I took pictures of the kittens napping on a discarded tutu. I also took picture of Jude after the girls coerced him into a pink tutu, but I'll respect his good-natured soul by not sharing those here.

I took pictures of their impromptu tea party, civilized and full of pleases and thank yous, complete with fake British accents.

I took a picture of my lightbulb moment, as I raced back into town for groceries later in the day, and passed the local chip stand. French fries for Sunday dinner? Pourquoi pas?

Eating French fries for Sunday dinner with a kitten in your arms (scratches, swollen nose, and fat lip notwithstanding)...even better.

And always, watching this wild world of our family swirling noisily around her, this baby clings to her parents like the tiny mammal she is, learning what it is to laugh (finally) in the face of plans that change as quickly as she does.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Giveaway and Interview:Stephanie of the Knitty Gritty Homestead!

Today I'll be putting myself in the hot seat by answering the same questions I asked my other interviewees! 
Tell us a bit about yourself! What is your favourite book? Music? Food? Where would you love to travel? Anything to help us "know" you better...

My favourite childhood book was "The Root Cellar" by Janet Lunn. My favourite books as a teenager were a "collected works" of Tennyson's poetry, and "The Mists of Avalon" by Marion Zimmer Bradley. I have too many favourites now to list. I love books by Alice Hoffman, Diana Gabaldon, Adriana Trigiani, Anita Diamant...and on and on. These days I read a lot of magazines because of the pace of my life, and am really enjoying Taproot. Music is a bit like literature for me: a deep and passionate love. I love world music, especially traditional Irish music and Middle Eastern music. I love Blossom Dearie, and also the scores from Broadway musicals. We listen to a lot of folk/singer-songwriter stuff. My favourite singer is my husband, Robin! I love coffee, chocolate, red wine, pasta, potato know, the major food groups. I would love to travel to Greece, Rome, Germany, and Iceland. And then I would go somewhere hot and tropical where I could sleep in a hut by the ocean and drink beverages containing coconut milk, fruit juices, and booze.
Pink Roller Skate

What aspects of your childhood inspire your art? What did your parents do to foster artistic expression in your home, and to encourage your creativity and talent?

My mother and her mother (my nanny) were endlessly patient with me. I wanted to learn everything, and they taught everything they knew. I knit, embroider, cross-stitch, quilt, and paint because mom got me the things I needed, and showed me how. She still does that if a creative whim grabs me when I'm visiting her...goes up to her sewing room and finds me everything I need to create. Some of my earliest memories are of standing on a kitchen chair while my mother pinned up the hem on a homemade dress, the sound of her sewing machine, and always having scraps of fabric around. Mom and nanny didn't play with us per se, but always got us involved in what they were doing, whether it was making pickles, baking bread, crocheting, or whatever. 

I was also inspired by my mother's collections. Blue Willow-patterned dishes, old mismatched tea cups, quilts, wallpaper, fabric, antiques, jars of buttons and notions. I love bright colours, bird prints, floral patterns, vintage children's storybooks, pottery, and textiles of every kind. I'm also inspired by the everyday beauty of household objects: oil lamps, mason jars, footwear, utensils...
Margot's Owl Family

Did you have a teacher/mentor who inspired you?
In addition to my mother and nanny, I can remember many people who have inspired me over the years. Our local tourism board organizes a "rural ramble" every year where you get a map and can drive around the countryside, visiting working artists and farmers. I remember meeting Joanne Pratt, a local artist who created beautiful soft-sculpture dolls. I have always felt excited and inspired to see craftspeople making a living from their creations, but never felt that I could do the same. I often wonder what I might have done if I'd opted to go to art school instead of university. I was always passionate about creating things out of fibre/fabric, but never thought of doing it as a "real" job. 

Just before Jude was born, I met Agnes Klassen, a local woman who had been making and selling wool socks for years. She lived a true "back to the land" lifestyle, and until a few years ago worked on her little homestead, making soap, socks, sweaters, wine, beer, and all her own food. She was also a master gardener, and when she eventually moved "to town", she helped Robin and I get started on our own garden. She sold me her sock "auto knitter", and mentored me in their creation. My sock-knitter has been in the attic for a few years now but I still plan to dig it out and make socks when my life allows for it.

What were your favourite places to dream, read, create? And now?
My favourite roost when I was young was up in my neighbour's tree. It had been planted too close to the house, so several limbs grew horizontally. Two were perfectly placed: one to sit on, and the other placed just above and ahead of it: ideal for leaning my elbows on as I held my book! I always loved being outside and remember many happy hours imagining Wee Folk among the blades of grass, pretending that snowflakes were millions of fairies swirling around me, and that I could speak hidden languages (a variation of pig latin, if I recall) of people who lived underground. I also loved reading in bed, preferably with a feline friend.

Now, my creative bits sit all around the house, wherever I left off. Most of my creating happens either at the kitchen table while my children draw/colour/create themselves, or on the couch after they've gone to bed and I've settled in with some stitching and a British drama of some sort. 

I have great plans for our big, open attic. Right now, those dreams reside in lidded bins (in the shape of yarn, fabric, roving, felt, and so on). Some day I hope to have it all out and at my fingertips, in a creative space that is always at the ready.
What advice would you give parents about giving their children room to create? 

Avoid offering evaluative comments. My daughters always ask, "Do you like it?" I throw that one back at them, asking if they like it. When they say "Yes", I ask them if they had fun making it. If the answer is also yes, I tell them that I feel happy to see them creating. Children are so programmed to seek approval; as musicians and artists, my husband and I know all too well what it is like to be sucked into wanting to create art or music that others will like. It really muddies the creative process, doesn't it? So, it's better to ask your child questions such as, "Tell me about your picture!" or "How did you get the idea to give the elephant five legs?" rather than evaluating it as "good" or "nice".

Another important bit of advice: say yes. I know, it's so hard. I remember my mother always saying yes (although I'm sure she often said no), and try to do the same. If they want to get into my precious peg dolls, it takes a special effort to let them go at it. But I do, as often as I can. I cover the table with newspaper, get out the paints and brushes and water and rags, and let them create weird, messy creatures. Then I laugh at the stories they tell with their creations.

Violet's "alien elephant", dreaming of love. 

And now, for today's giveaway:

Today I am offering one winner a piece of custom-work: 
an embroidered rendition of a special child's artwork
a small embroidered piece of your choice (think of something you love: red shoes? hedgehogs? old bicycles?) 

This will obviously take time to create. Once I've randomly selected a winner, we'll work out the details (you can either email me a photo or a scan of a simple child's drawing, and I'll embroider and embellish it in colours of your choosing, then will mail it to you (unframed) when it's done!)
To enter, simply leave a comment in the comments section below! Comment now closed!

And the winner is: Margje-Margo! I'll be in touch to arrange the details of your original artwork!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Third Anniversary Giveaway: Hand Knit Baby Socks!

Today I introduce my first mentor, the woman who led me down the path of all things crafty and handmade: my mother, Donna Keon!
My mother took up sock knitting after I pressured her into attending a magic-loop, toe-up workshop. She has knitted close to 100 pairs since then, and isn't showing signs of stopping. Her stash of sock yarn makes me drool, and my children have the warmest feet in Canada. 

Today, she generously offers one lucky winner a pair of hand-knit, one-of-a-kind baby socks! Even if you don't have your own baby at home, do enter...they make beautiful gifts!

To enter, simply leave a comment in the comments section below!
You can add additional comments if you:
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Comments will close at 8 a.m. EST tomorrow

The winner is Peggy! Please send me an email at keonrose(at)hotmail(dot)com so I can get your address and arrange details!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Third Anniversary Giveaway and Interview with Handmaiden Canada

I am thrilled to introduce the beautiful Becky DeCarle, of Handmaiden Canada. While raising her nine children, Becky creates gorgeous, colourful dresses, toys, and Waldorf dolls, and sells them in her Etsy Shop. You really must check out her shop to get an idea of the creative talents of this dynamic woman. I have the joy of hanging out with her from time to time, and she is one of those truly beautiful people, both inside and out. Her energy and vision shine in her face. Can you tell that Becky is someone that inspires me every time I see her? Read about her unique upbringing below, then enter for a chance to win one of her handmades!

Becky blogs at Heartfelt Mama.

What aspects of your childhood inspire your art? 

I think the free flowing, brightly coloured, eclectic clothing my parents wore and dressed us in has definitely made a permanent imprint on my brain. I love colour. Lots of it.  
I also love natural materials which may come from spending so much time enjoying nature as a child, but also from my mother's own love of them. 
The doll obsession? Hmmm... well I did have dolls of my own when I was small, and I loved them and treated them like they were real babies. I had a "mama instinct" from a very young age. I used to watch my mother care for my younger siblings, and I would sit beside her with my baby imitate her. I would nurse my baby, change her, and carry her around on my hip just like she did.  Dolls were my first introduction to motherhood, and will always hold a special place in my heart. 

What did your parents do to foster artistic expression in your home, and to encourage your creativity and talent?
They let us play. Our backyard, with a creek running through it and a forest surrounding it, was ours to roam and explore for hours on end.

They let us make a mess. We were allowed to build forts in our living room and sleep in them. We worked side by side with mom and were taught how to follow a recipe and bake a loaf of bread of our own. The amount of flour on the floor at the end didn't matter. We were encouraged to delve into my mother's big wooden trunk of fabric scraps and sew whatever our little minds could dream up. It didn't have to be didn't have to work was all part of the creative process. So was tidying the sewing room at the end of the day, when all our creativity was used up.  

We saw them using their creative gifts. My dad was a luthier in my early years. I used to love traipsing into his workshop after breakfast and quietly watching him turn rough planks of wood into gently curved, sanded smooth, and ornately inlaid guitars. It was magical.  I would then wander into the kitchen and watch mom rinse sprouts, knead bread and make granola. I watched her patch my overalls, sew up a quilt for our new baby, and knit tirelessly. I fell asleep most nights to my parents singing and playing guitar, their sweet harmonies bringing such comfort. 
What were your favourite places to dream, read, create? And now?

My bedroom. Being the eldest of eight children, I got quite used to sharing. We had a busy house, always a lot going on and I am, by nature, very social, but at times I craved solitude. I remember hanging blankets over the sides of the bunk bed my sister and I shared, so that I could have a small nook to call my own. Here I would read, draw, and savour the quiet. I am very much the same now. I love my big boisterous family of nine children, one husband, an undefined number of cats, and a goldfish, but at times I need to just get away from it all. I have a little space of my own in our basement where I have all of my sewing and knitting things. There I love to look at the fabrics all stacked up on my shelves, and go through the yarns gathered in baskets, and just dream.

What advice would you give parents about giving their children room to create? 

I would say give your children a place to create, and the supplies they need. Give them some guidance, but just enough to get them started on their own journey of discovery and artistic expression.

What advice would you give to people who are wanting to take the leap towards following their creative dreams  (by selling locally or online, for example)?

Dream big, but start small. Trying to do too much all at once is overwhelming and you may become defeated before you really try. I started out by just making little things for my family and friends. Perfect place to test out new ideas. Then I made a few things to try and sell online. I mostly used supplies I had on hand already. That way it was no real risk if they didn't sell. Then when those items sold (yes, they did sell), I started to buy supplies for bigger projects. I still remember placing my first order for supplies to sew my first Waldorf doll. I was terrified, and yet so excited at the same time! The first one I made for my daughter, so there was no real risk there. She would love anything mommy made. I made a few more for family and friends, and then I took the plunge and started to try and sell them online. It took some time, but eventually my first one sold! And that gave me the confidence (and money) to order more supplies and make more dolls.

And now, for today's giveaway:
Becky is generously offering one lucky winner one of her Bunting Babies! Your baby will be one-of-a-kind, and will vary from the colours above.
To enter, simply leave a comment in the comments section below!
You can add additional comments if you:
  • become a follower of this blog
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Comments will close at 8 a.m. EST tomorrow. Comments now closed!

And the winner is Tricia! 

"We gave our daughter one of Becky's dolls, a beautiful custom Waldorf doll that is so special! Lovely interview with a talented artist :)"

Please contact me by email so we can arrange the details!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Third Anniversary Giveaway and Interview with Genevieve Townsend

Today's Blogiversary Giveaway and artist interview features the wonderful Genevieve Townsend. I met Genevieve last summer at our local farmers' market, and fell instantly in love with her work. Robots with kites, fairies with fruit, and beautiful winged things, Genevieve's imagination is limitless. Her mom, dad, and sister happened to be with her that day, so today's interview focuses on Genevieve's upbringing, exploring how her childhood experiences shaped her as an artist. You can visit the blog she writes with her sister here.

"My name is Genevieve Townsend and I am a practicing and exploring artist and craft person living in the town of Eganville, Ontario, Canada.  I've been drawing or painting or making something since my earliest memories and this has morphed into my everyday job -- which I love".

What books/music did you love when you were growing up?

Books and music were a big part of my childhood.  My parents had quite the vinyl record collection and my sister and I spent hours exploring the stash.  A lot of Beatles, Gordon Lightfoot, BTO ...the list is long and varied.  My parents really enjoy music and would and will buy a record because they are curious. So, I know Patsy Cline, Stompin' Tom, Streisand etc. etc. Books are like music for me.  A story and an inspiration.  My little sister and I spent hours drawing while my mom read to us. Favorites back then were anything by Roald Dahl, Douglas Adams, all works of L.M.Montgomery, and of course the Little House on the Prairie series.
What aspects of your childhood inspire your art?

When I got my first library card I personally borrowed every illustrated book I could get my hands on and examined them in great detail.  I had very specific "likes" and "dislikes" and did my best to try my hand at the styles I liked.  And Nature. Though my work is imagination- based, I do a lot of looking - soaking in the natural world around me.

What did your parents do to foster artistic expression in your home, and to encourage your blooming talents (I believe your sister is also an artist, right?)

My sister is a wonderful artist and we do a blog together to help each other stay motivated(she being in California and me in Canada).  We've always done lots of differing but creative things and our folks always gave us space and supplies.  We did different wood work projects with my Dad. And we tried a lot of different crafts and mediums with my mom --she also would read to us(often full books at a shot)while we sat beside her drawing.  There was never any pressure to grow up and get serious.

 Were you ever encouraged to pursue a more conventional career as a fallback? If yes, how did that work for you?

The joke was that I'd become an accountant if the art thing didn't work out. Actually, there was never any pressure to pick one career.  Both my parents had tried different things until they found what suited them.  I've done varying jobs myself and am finally putting that work ethic I learned while working for others into my own business.  It is still a work in progress, but I feel contented.

What were your favourite places to dream, read, create?

There was this beautiful Katulpa tree in my backyard that I'd climb everyday and dream in.  I knew every handhold, the initial jump required and my perfect perch.  Besides my favorite tree, anywhere that I had a little place to sit and draw was good for me.  Truthfully, I learned to read quite late. Mom had always read quite advanced books to us and learning to read the books at my level was less than interesting. But when my sister, who is a year and a half younger, started to learn I knew I had to get serious, too.  After that initial hiccup, I am an avid reader. I love love love books!

 How did school affect your developing skills/creativity as an artist?

School was a real trauma for me.  Though I have made lasting friends and I always loved learning the environment was very harsh for a little shy girl.  I do have the experience of being taught in three differing learning environments -- I attended a Waldorf school in Toronto starting in grade one, was home schooled for grade 5 and grade 10 by my mom(along with my sister and younger cousin) and finished my high school years in a public school.  I'd have to say that each were perfect for me at the time. And I did get great creative opportunities in each.  But I was so happy when I was done.

Did you have a teacher/mentor who inspired you?

My public school art teacher, Mr. Perkins, was great!  We still keep in touch.  Being an artist himself, he designed his classes to be challenging and informative and with lots of space for creative expression.  Art class was the main reason I got through high school.  I did well in all my subjects but art class was the one I looked forward to. Being a sensitive kid in the big broil that is high school, art class was my little haven.

 What advice would you give parents about giving their children room to create?
Every kid is different, what they are good at and what they are interested in, but I would say that hands on creative time helps grow the brain in a different way.  Kids are going to get a lot of organized and structured education but having time to freely be creative and explore helps with a more abstract point of view which will apply to many other aspects of life.  And the fact that there is truly no right or wrong way to create art is an important point. Art is about expression and exploration. For myself it has always been both a joyful activity as well as a path to understand myself more clearly.  In my 33 years of life, I'd say that those where I had space to be creative have been the brightest times. This is the main reason that I'm pursuing a creative career despite the "starving artist" line I've been told over and over(and sometimes tell myself).  I believe, and it has proven true so far, that where I put my passion and energy is where things come together and happen.

And now, for today's giveaway:
Genevieve is generously offering three cards featuring her enchanting artwork!
To enter, simply leave a comment in the comments section below!
You can add additional comments if you:
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Comments will close at 8 a.m. EST tomorrow. Comments now closed!

...And the randomly selected winner of this giveaway is Kim Corrigan-Oliver. Congratulations!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Third Anniversary Giveaway and Interview with Natural Suburbia!

This week I'll be celebrating three years of blogging! Please join me daily for interviews and giveaways!
Linda Dawkins, who blogs at Natural Suburbia, is a knitting, spinning, pattern designing, homeschooling mama who lives in South Africa. I love to visit her blog, where she shares wonderful free patterns, colorful photos of the flora and fauna of her homeland, and her many beautiful works in progress. Linda has a Ravelry group where people can share their creations. She took the time to answer a few of my questions. Enjoy!
Tell us a bit about yourself! What is your favourite book? Music? Food? Where would you love to travel? Anything to help us "know" you better...
I am a homeschooling mom to four beautiful children and married to a lovely mountain biking man called Richard. Next month we will have been married for 17 wonderful years and I love him more each day. I can honestly say that I really love what I do. I never thought when I was younger, that I would be spinning my own wool on a spinning wheel, knitting toy animals and designing my own patterns! What I like most about my ‘job’ is that it doesn’t really feel like work at all because it gives me such joy and allows me to stay at home and be close to my family. I can also work anywhere, if we go away on holiday; my work is easily packed up and taken along with me. My fovourite book is Pride and Prejudice and I love classical music. As far as travel goes, I would love to travel to Alaska and see more of Europe one day.
What aspects of your childhood inspire your art? What did your parents do to foster artistic expression in your home, and to encourage your creativity and talent?
My mother taught me to knit when I was 5 years old. I used to always watch her while she knitted, she knitted all of our school cardigans and also knitted cricket jerseys for her brothers. I asked her to teach me and she did. She was so patient and showed me over and over again until I got it right. She also encouraged me to knit along with her when she was busy with a project and therefore I learnt quite a few complicated techniques at an early age.
 What were your favourite places to dream, read, create? And now?
I love the outdoors; this is where most of my inspiration strikes. Living in South Africa, we have many wide open spaces and plenty of wild life and this helps to fuel my creative process.
 Did you have a teacher/mentor who inspired you?
My grade 10 art teacher was wonderful! While I was at school, I looked forward to each art lesson, learning new techniques and about the history of art and the various artists. She was an inspiration.
 What advice would you give parents about giving their children room to create?
I personally feel that children should be given the freedom and the tools to be creative and parents should allow their children's creativity to develop naturally, gently guiding them along the way, allowing them to flourish in their own individuality.
And now, for today's giveaway:
Linda has generously allowed me to offer a sweet knitted horse (shown above, designed by Linda and handmade by me!) to one lucky winner! In addition, the winner will be able to choose FIVE patterns for the animals of your choice, from Linda's Etsy shop. To enter, simply leave a comment in the comments section below!
You can add additional comments if you:
  • become a follower of this blog
  • share this giveaway on Facebook
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Comments will close at 8 a.m. EST tomorrow. Comments now closed!

And the winner is: Lynne! Congratulations! Please send me an email so I can reach you and send off your little horse, as well as give details as to how to get your patterns!

Friday, April 5, 2013

::this moment::the stable::

Joining in with Soulemama today!

Please stop by next week for five days of Blog Anniversary Giveaways!