My Week So Far/ or Screen Printing and Self Help

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I’m not even sure what to write for this weekly dispatch. My brain seems to have congealed into a sticky, overheated mess.

I’m pretty sure that I’ve done quite a lot this week, my body certainly feels like it has done a lot, but my brain feels as limp as a jellyfish, and refuses to produce any kind of analytical or organized thought about the week. I don’t even feel like making a list (shock, horror!!).

I’m just so very tired.

I’m recovering from a nasty virus, I have some gnarly bruises from a recent attack of clumsiness, my husband is abroad, and school, work, and life has chosen this exact time to keep throwing curveballs at me. So before I get any more bloody emails announcing impromptu parent/teacher conferences, t-shirt suppliers that have gone bankrupt and can’t fulfill my orders, or school events that I signed up for many moons ago while drinking a Merlot, let’s get this thing written!

Ooh, I just realized that I actually have photographic evidence of the fruits of my labor! Let’s look at some pretty pictures that prove that I actually did some work this week , and remember the shiny, pretty parts of the week.img_5194img_5195img_5197img_5204img_5205img_5207img_5230img_5232

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Yup, that did it. I managed to print some pretty sweet stuff this week, and by the way, screenprinting is one of the most therapeutic activities ever. Feeling stressed? Come and print with me. Even looking at screen prints makes me unwind a little.
The kids made me some lovely hand made valentines presents, and my Neil Gaiman book finally showed up (I knew Neil wouldn’t forsake me on Valentines day). The kids and I watched Muppets in Space (my turn to pick the movie), baked a tudor almond cake, listened to a lot of punk rock. I managed to do some drawing in my sketchpad, and the little one confided to me that he wanted to live in the library “in the audiobook section where old people work on laptops”. Sometimes just remembering a few good things can spur other happy memories to come flooding out of your brain.

Okay I’m still tired, but maybe a tiny, teeny bit less grumpy… maybe. Luckily enough, the weekend is right around the corner, and it’s a long one …ahhh the sweetness of that thought.

 

 

Playing Hooky at the National Gallery

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On Tuesday, I decided to take a day off from work, the suburbs, and my constant worrying, and caught the Metro into DC with a friend.
We seized the surprisingly sunny day and went to check out the newly renovated East building of the National Gallery. I’m here to officially state that it is gorgeous, full of amazing art, and definitely  worth a visit. It’s a perfect place to take kids, because the building itself is so engaging and full of beautiful open spaces, balconies, and spectacular views. I’m hoping to take my kids over the weekend, I think they will particularly adore the Calder room, and it’s adjoining outdoor terrace that is home to a larger than life cobalt blue rooster (what’s not to like?). My daughter will love the Rothko room and the large sculptures on the concourses, and my son will love the views from the balconies and those Wayne Thiebaud cakes. Add to this the space age travelator, the amazing kids’ bookshop, and the fact that that the cafe sells Eccles cakes, and we have a winner.
Spring is just around the corner (don’t argue with me, it is), and I’m going to take my kids to as many galleries as possible starting with this one.

In retrospect, I’m so glad that I threw caution to the wind and took a mental health day, because, as it happens, I’m spending the rest of the week at home with a sick six year old. Carpe diem my friends.

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Janine Antoni’s Lick and Lather
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Huge Jean Dubuffet sculpture that made me very happy
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More Dubuffet
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Henri Matisse – The Palm
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From the Rothko room
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Objectivity – Sol LeWitt
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Wayne Theibaud’s cakes
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The Calder Room
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The Calder room
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Views from the terrace

Climbing Out Of 2017 Malaise

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Time for a fresh start

So far, 2017 has not shaped up well on a professional level (as well as so many other levels). I have had two months of uncertainties, working on projects that may not ever come to fruition, waiting for people to make decisions that may shape the rest of my year, nay the rest of my life (no you’re being dramatic), not knowing what I will be doing this time next year.

Not knowing, it’s the not knowing that is the most troubling thing. I dislike uncertainty almost as much as I dislike holding hands with a child who has just been picking his/her nose. If you can take any more of my whining, here is a brief review of what is causing my pain right now:

  • I have lost the location that I was going to run this summer’s camp at (something to do with imminent sewage works), and have restarted the long, arduous search for a suitable location. I have no idea when I will find one.
  • I’m not sure whether I’ll be teaching full time next year, and I’m not sure how ‘full’ full time will be.
  • I’m not sure what my summer will look like (because of the first two points).
  • I’m not sure how many shows to sign up for (because of the first two points).
  • I’m not sure what the future holds for Noctiluna (BECAUSE OF THE FIRST TWO POINTS)

All of the above has frozen me, and I have felt blocked creatively and unable to make any moves at all. Part of me really just wants to give up on doing anything and binge read Harry Potter on my sofa, whilst wrapped in a soft blanket – aah sweet escapism. But that won’t do, I need to snap out of this funk fast.

I tried writing a pros and cons list to bring some clarity, but that didn’t work, it just made me more sulky and contemplative. Noctiluna V full time teaching, working for someone else V working for myself, talking with colleagues V talking to myself, commute V sweatpants, structure V flexibility, teaching dream V artist/teacher/kick ass entrepreneur dream, chai V coffee, Hufflepuff V Griffindor…aaarrrgggh!

Nope. I guess the only way to becoming productive again is to just be productive. So I’m not going to think about anything, I’m just going to do (Nike was right).

 

The Plan

I’ve started making stuff again, I’m drawing, and embroidering drawings – something I’ve always wanted to try.
A shipment of onesies landed on my doorstep yesterday, it’s a sign, I’m going to make some screens and start printing this week. I’m going to knock on the door of every church and school in Vienna to find a spot for the camps, and at some point over the next two weeks, I’m going to start a new canvas. Tomorrow, I’m going to a gallery to get inspired, (and to see other humans).
Interestingly, this fresh new start is also coinciding with my husband’s two week trip abroad, maybe I can be more productive in the evenings without my lounge-mate around? Who knows? I’ll be back with evidence of my productivity in the next post, and maybe even some clarity about the rest of the year.
Fellow self-employed artists with small businesses, I salute you, it is not for the weak of heart.
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January Slump – Survival Tips For Artists and Other Humans Who Work From Home

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It’s January and all I want to do is wrap a blanket around myself and whisper sweet nothings to my sofa. I am not a Winter person, I find it difficult to be productive and ebullient when I am cold. Heck, I find it difficult to even get out of bed when I am cold, and working from home does not help.

Many of you are probably thinking “how wonderful to not have to commute on frigid winter mornings” and rightly so, I can’t argue with that. However, there are those times when I do wonder whether a cold slap in the face from a morning commute would actually help me perk up a bit every day. The grass is always greener, folks!
The truth is, my house is darker, gloomier, and chillier than usual, and the moment my kids leave for school, it takes a huge amount of self control to not tip over in slow motion while making a long groaning noise, and land balled up on my sofa for the day. Have you ever felt this way?

Well, I have worked from home for eight years now, and I have worked for myself for all of those years, so kicking my own butt into action has become routine for me. Over the years I have formulated a kind of action plan for times like this, to stop me from the slide into complete inertia. Most of it is just common sense, but I’ve heard that cold weather can kill common sense, so read on if you will:

 

  • Get out of your house
    Just leaving the familiar surroundings of your home will make a difference, trust me. I write this while sitting in my local library. I have a favorite spot tucked away in a corner of the audiobook section, right by a big window and a heater. The library has other people – quietly industrious people, and much better heating than my home. I come here for a change of scenery, and to avoid succumbing to my sofa’s siren call. It doesn’t have to be a library, if you have work that is portable, then go and work somewhere else.
  • Only work in work zones
    Some people can work in bed under their quilt, some people can work lounging on their sofa. I find that I need to be in a quasi professional setting to be able to click into work mode. I have to work at a table, away from home comforts like the TV, or my bed. Things get messy, when you work from home, and it’s important for me to draw a line between work and leisure time. Hence, I have designated certain spots as work zones (dining table:okay, spare room:okay, bed:not okay). Of course, I break this rule from time to time, but snap back into it when I feel things getting sloppy.
  • Set yourself automated tasks
    I make myself paint and draw every day. I set myself assignments in a planner, and give myself time blocks to do them in. I have found the book below really helpful, when I need ideas for tasks to keep my creative juices flowing.
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  • Give yourself an audience
    I use social media to record the results of each day’s work publicly,  so that I can be held accountable for my work. If I haven’t been documenting my work, then there is something wrong, and I realize that.  Blogging is part of this, the weekly blog helps me take stock of myself, and keeps me moving. Work breeds work, and sometimes just keeping the ball rolling is enough for me to come up with the next great idea.
  • Develop an interesting inner life…
    …yes, I actually wrote that. A downside to working from home is the potentially crushing lack of human interaction. While getting out of your home, and taking the time to meet up with other people for an occasional lunch date can help to an extent, let’s be honest, it’s not enough. It’s important to make peace with that, and find ways to enjoy your own company. I keep myself on a soul strengthening diet of good books and audiobooks (see below for suggestions), podcasts, and music, and practice yoga regularly.  I visit inspiring art exhibitions when I can. Find what keeps you ticking and thinking, stay passionate, and fit it into your schedule however you can.

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    My happy list this week; I recommend The Muralist, The Muse, and Hold Still for getting inspired to create.
  • Let it go
    When my kids get home I stop working. If I need to, I’ll work an extra hour after they go to bed, but I try to be present with my family in the evenings. I set myself boundaries, no looking at work emails at breakfast, no worrying about projects during dinner. It is okay to type emails while sitting outside your kids’ Tae Kwon Do classes, but it is important to step away from work at certain times everyday. It is so tough to do this when you work from home, but somehow you need to find a way.

These are just some of the things that help me stay motivated, semi-sane and productive. They may not work for everyone, and I am always looking for new ideas, so if you have any, do throw them at me please!

Paintbrushes v Toothbrushes: A Peek Inside My Artist’s Home

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Have you ever wondered what it’s like to live with an artist? Maybe you already live with one, and are thinking up a few choice expletives to write in the comments section below? You have my sympathies, really.

My family love what I do, and my kids are proud of having an artist mom. They point out all the artwork leaning against walls in my house to their friends and get lots of “wow“in return. Also, they have a mom who doesn’t freak out when they want to break out the paint for school projects (but not glitter – NEVER glitter).
My husband also likes the bohemian aspect of the house, and gets excited about my work every day….but maybe not so excited with the mess that it ‘sometimes’ involves.
Disclaimer here: this is not a post about a dream house. In my dreams, an artist’s house is an exotic outlet for their passions, a reflection of their aesthetic tastes, like Frida Kahlo’s exquisite home in Mexico. My house is more like a giant, ever changing storeroom for my many unfinished projects, and sometimes it can be an infuriating place to be, because…

I don’t have a studio, I work at home.

At first, this meant that I took over the spare bedroom upstairs, depriving my husband of his workspace, he took that graciously, but it wasn’t enough. My work got bigger, and more messy, I started screen printing on the dining table, washing screens in the bathtub, painting against the far wall in my bedroom, storing paints in kitchen drawers, heck I even painted on my family room wall one rainy day. Walking around my house yesterday, I noticed just how much my work and it’s tools have encroached onto our home spaces. It seems so normal to us, but I’ve noticed guests’ amused chuckles when they discover paintbrushes next to toothbrushes in the bathroom. So I started documenting this gradual spreading out with some photos, nothing fancy, just my trusty iphone.  If you are an artist/designer, this may all look very familiar to you.

Here are some things you will find in my home:

  1. Printing screens stacked alongside towels and sheets in the linen closetimg_4923

2. Paintings (both mine and the kids’) lined up against my bedroom wall (aka my painting studio)img_4932

 

3.Brayers drying in the guest bathroom, next to kids’ clay projects that have no home, and paint drips on the wall, because my students need to touch every surface on their way to the sink.img_4922

 

4.Paintbrushes drying alongside toothbrushesimg_4943

 

5.Eye wateringly bright colors everywhere, courtesy of the kids and I.img_4934

 

6.Postcards from art galleries stuck all over the kitchen, some in a terrible state.img_4935

 

7.More paintbrushes, this time next to fresh produce!img_4936

 

8.That elegant console in the living room? It’s actually crammed with printing tools.img_4940

 

 

9.Stacks of paper and sketchbooks all over the place. I think they are breeding.img_4937

10. An impulsive mural in the family room, created on a rainy day.img_4945

11. Bookshelves mostly filled with kids’ Art books
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12. Finally, a defunct work room that is really more of a storage room!img_4924

I could go on, there is a huge ‘Thank you’ banner hanging in our basement from last year’s summer camp students, and our windows are covered in glass marker drawings…. etc, etc.

Working from home is a messy business when you are an artist, even more so when you are an artist and a parent. All my quotidian tasks cannot be ignored, and all too often the business of making art gives way to the bigger role of being a parent. But there can be real beauty in the moments where the two intersect. Our house may be messy, but it is a monument to my many loves, and the very , VERY fuzzy line that separates them.

 

Reflecting on 2016

Before I move on and start outlining my hopes for 2017, let’s put this baby to bed properly!

In 2016…

  • I turned forty (finally, after waiting a whole forty years for this to happen). It’s strange to explain but, forty has always seemed like the perfect age to be, for me anyway. I have always expected to be more together, more substantial, more content at forty, I don’t know why, I just have. So has this happened? Well, believe it or not, actually, yes… in a way….sort of.
    Something changed within myself this year, it was a slow but tangible change that I felt deeply. It has maybe taken me longer than most, but turning forty forced me to accept adulthood, to be comfortable growing older. I actually do feel more relaxed, more reflective, less self conscious, and more content in my skin. Sounds cheesy, but I am liking it so far.
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  • I took my family to Paris.  What a landmark trip, The hot chocolate, the old apartments, the Seine, the relaxed mood of my husband. This is just the start of my travels with my family. The kids enjoyed Paris enormously and were little cultural sponges, and I realized that there are so many places that I want to share and explore with them. My husband and I are in talks about this Summer, so watch this space for more travels.

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    Lounging on the banks of the Seine
  • I got nostalgic meeting up with many old friends in London, and realized that we could pick up exactly where we left off. It’s been a tough old year for Gen-Xers, with the loss of so many formative role models in 2016, and my visit to the city I grew up in felt more poignant than ever. My love affair with the city has endured well, no matter how much it changes. Post London/Paris,  I have realized, that being in a city, any city, will lift me up when I’m down. So there will be a lot more Metro-ing in 2017img_2253
  • I started painting and drawing more. I plan to continue painting without a purpose through this year, hopefully I’ll get a little better at it. img_4406
  • I started voicing my opinion more. Nowadays, when I see a stranger with a great haircut, I tell them that they have a great haircut, and it makes them smile. I speak out about other, more worrying, things as well. If the 2016 elections have taught me anything at all, it is to be vocal about the injustices you see. Life is too short, and too important to not stick up for those who need your support.

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  • I fell off the wagon when it came to the gym, ate more, but somehow got back into my Yoga practice. I need to get back into shape, but I’m not freaking out about it. I guess that’s just the Yoga talking!
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    Giant macarons
  • I developed an obsession with books written by Neil Gaiman and Jessie Burton. Getting into a good book is my favorite thing in the whole, wide world, and I think I’ve found my favorite soulfood. Sigh.img_4912
  • I finally found the perfect location for my summer camp, and it was a huge, rollicking good time. The camp makes me realize how much I love teaching every year, but last year especially so. The bigger spaces, and extra help meant that we could be extra ambitious with our projects. Hence, my many Parkour related injuries.
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  • I got off my backside and visited more museums and galleries. Nothing like it for oiling those cogs in your brain. This has kept me motivated to keep producing work at a steady rate.

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    from the Bingata exhibition, The Textile Gallery, DC

 

Writing this list has helped me realize what I want to do more of in 2017. I want to teach more, paint more, travel more, reflect more, worry less, snack less, and engage with other people more. Whatever you want from 2017, I wish you the best in this New Year.
Now I’m off to clean out my workroom, whilst listening to the sonorous voice of Neil Gaiman. 😉

 

Thank You 2016, Now Bugger Off

Well, I’m not sure how to start this. I’m imagining a set of weighing scales, and placing all the good and the bad things about 2016 on them. No matter how hard I try to look on the positive side of things, the bad side always tips the scale. I guess that’s because the last few months of the year have been particularly horrible. This year has been a slow slide into despair and anxiety. Aleppo, Brexit, the election, the loss of so many childhood heroes, DAPL, the disturbing headlines just keep on coming. I’m not naive, I know that 2017 will have it’s share of problems, but 2016 really did seem as if a dark cloud was hovering over it and refusing to budge.

Despite all of the above, it would be churlish of me to not admit that this year has had it’s good moments as well, and I would like to remember those.
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This was the year I turned forty, and drank my own weight in chocolate in Paris.
This was the year that I caught up with family, and so many old friends in London, and didn’t want to leave.
This was a particularly fantastic year for the Noctiluna Summer camps, and my first, clumsy try at Parkour.
This year I got back into Yoga and meditation, calmed down a little, and noticed more.
This year I got into some really great fairs, sold lots of shirts, and started painting and drawing more.
This was the year I visited Wonder at the Renwick gallery, and it blew my mind.
This was the first year that both my kids started to go to the same school, and my life got a little bit less complicated and more content.
This was the year that my small town in the suburbs of Washington DC held a rally on it’s town green, and took a stand against against hate and bigotry, and made my heart swell with gratitude.

Below are some pictures of the the good things from this year.
Here’s to fresh starts, always fighting for what’s right, and recognizing the good things in life.

Happy New Year!

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Paris
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Paris
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Paris
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Paris
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Picking blackberries in Morden, Surrey.
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Morden Hall Park
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London
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London

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Wonder – Dale Chihuly piece that my kids named ‘The Hornet’s Nest’!
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Wonder – Gabriel Dawe – Plexus A1
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Wonder – Janet Echelman – 1.8

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Camp 2016
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Camp 2016
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Camp 2016
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Camp 2016
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Camp 2016
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Camp 2016
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Spring/Summer collection
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Fall/Winter collection
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Fall/Winter collection
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Grump show

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Weekend Book Picks For All Ages

Illustration of Maria Montessori from Rad Women Worldwide - Kate Schatz

It’s going to be frigid this weekend, so go ahead, curl up on your sofa with a hot cup of tea, some cookies, a good book, and a blanket (or small child – both are equally cozy).

My closest and mostest friends know that I love to read (in fact, some of my closest friends are actually books). I’m raising two avid readers as well, a ten year old, and a six year old. My husband has no choice but to follow our lead – majority rules.

Every week, my family reads it’s way through a pile of books (now that the little one doesn’t eat books anymore), usually bought home from our lovely local library. Here is a look at what we have been reading this week, there is something for every age group on this list….
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The Graveyard Book  (Youth)- Neil Gaiman
This is a great fantasy book about a boy who can cross over between the realms of the living and the dead. Even though it is aimed at young readers (middle school and up), I thoroughly enjoyed every second of it. I’m a Neil Gaiman fan, and have read almost all of his books. He manages to infuse the spookiest stories with an irreverent wit, and lots of interesting nerdy, historic detail. Neil himself narrates the audiobook version of this and, I don’t say this often, he is a cracking narrator.

The Poe Estate (Young Adult)- Polly Shulman
Another spooky fantasy book, this time for young adults. I’m not a young adult (well, not physically), but I love the series that this book comes from. I have to admit that I prefer the first two books in the trilogy, The Grimm Legacy and The Wells Bequest, their storylines were a lot meatier, but these are great books for young fantasy and sci fi fans. Also, they have the added bonus of introducing you to other books and genre along the way. I’m thinking of buying the series for some teens in my family.

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All the Light We Cannot See –  Anthony Doerr
I loved this book. It was tough going to start off with, but if you stick with it, it is a beautiful, poignant story. The book is historical fiction, set in France and Germany before and during the second world war, and examines the lives of two people whose lives are connected in an unusual way. I would recommend reading the book, rather than listening to the audiobook (mispronounced words in German, French and English), but then again I am very hard to please where audiobooks are concerned.

A Wicked Boy – Kate Summerscale
This is a contemporary examination of an actual Victorian murder case and it’s trials. Fascinating for all its socio-historical and cultural context, and pretty gruesome too. It’s not something I would normally pick to read, and I’m getting through it at a relatively slow pace, however I’m hooked on the psychological angle, this is a crime committed by a child, and the way children were regarded, portrayed, and treated in those days.
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Rad Women Worldwide – Kate Schatz
I got this awesome non-fiction book out for my ten year old daughter, so that she can read about groundbreaking women, and how they have made their mark on this world. When my son is old enough, I will get it for him too. Over the past few months, I have been increasingly aware of a need to educate my children on gender and race equality. This book is a great window into the broader world around us, and a wonderful resource for teaching about tolerance and empathy .

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Mother Bruce – Ryan T Higgins
Bruce is a grumpy bear, who unwittingly adopts a flock of goslings. My six year old loved this book, and I absolutely loved reading it to him. It has the type of humor that adults will find funny as well as kids, and hilarious references to current consumer trends.

The Mercy Watson Series – Kate DiCamillo
Okay, my kids are nuts about this series. If you have a kid who is beginning to read chapter books, get this out of your library. Most early chapter books are kind of dry and pedantic, but this one is hilarious, and has illustrations on each page for kids who are squirmy readers. Each book has a different madcap adventure involving a pig, who loves buttered toast. Enough said really.

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Oh No George! – Chris Haughton
I took this book out of the library when my son was a preschooler, he spotted it again last weekend, and checked it out. George the dog is such a lovable and mischievous character, that pretty much everyone in my family fell in love with this book. Great for animal lovers, readers who like to do silly voices, and kids who are working on their self control.

Ned The Knitting Pirate – Dianna Murray
This book is written in verse, and is about a pirate who likes to knit. I don’t think I need to say anymore. I love doing pirate voices, it’s a winner.

Books are really the key to everything. Relaxation, imagination, creativity, empathy, happiness, therapy, and more.

Have a lovely weekend, and read something!

 

 

 

On Chocolate Chips, Weekends, and Other Things That Concern Me Greatly

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It’s going to take a lot of strength to not eat my way through that packet of chocolate chips on the counter today.

Thank Frigg it’s Friday (in case you were wondering, Frigg is an actual Norse goddess – look her up, she’s pretty amazing, you can trace her name back to the Sanskrit feminine noun Priya, I am not making words up again).
Last week’s three day week has spoilt me. This week feels unbearably long, and has been marked by an annoying lack of productivity. I like the three days work/four days rest ratio, or at the very least a four day work week/three day weekend?? Our current week seems terribly unbalanced and a little mean, who’s bright idea was it anyway?

Three chocolate chips and a few clicks later

Okay, according to this article in the Atlantic, the five day work week is a relatively new, twentieth century phenomenon, albeit an outdated one according to yours truly. I think it’s time for a change, or at least a little pull back when it comes to working hours. I think we could actually afford to work less hours, and I’m not the only one. Apparently back in 1928, John Maynard Keynes predicted that technological advances would lead to a 15 hour work week within 100 years! Why hasn’t this happened? Well, one reason is that we just can’t get enough money, enough stuff, enough to keep up with the Joneses.  This snappy article got me thinking (and eating more chocolate chips).  It also raised a lot of questions in my mind about time travel, the future, and the upcoming election, but more of that some other time, I digress…

Boy, did I take a long diversion to get to what I actually wanted to show you.

We have had workmen at our house all week, fixing our insulation, popping into view suddenly to ask questions like “Is it okay that we made this hole in your bedroom ceiling?” and “Would you like us to fix this switch plate that we broke?”. This, combined with a number of school and medical appointments vying for attention, and an Iphone that died (do not venture near the Apple store in December, just don’t), has meant that I have not been able to get as much done as I wanted to this week. Oops, a few more chocolate chips found their way to my mouth.
However, this is what I have done: I have been working very slowly on a picture book, or maybe I should say reworking a book that I started years ago. The book is my labor of love, and I’m pretty sure that it will be a long while before I am satisfied with it enough to send it to a publisher. I have also been working on another canvas, with the hope that I will have a series ready by next summer.  All of this has been happening while I listen to The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman , which  the workmen seemed to enjoy as much as I do (it’s a great read). Next week, I go back to getting ready for a holiday market, but here is some visual evidence of this week’s work:

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Happy weekend, my lovelies!

Staying Thankful Through It All

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My kids like Thanksgiving a tiny bit more than I do.

Hey, I grew up in England, so I have no rosy childhood memories connected with the holiday. I have many rosy memories connected with Bonfire night, Harvest festivals, and May Day, but not Thanksgiving. I never learned about it at school, or took part in any pageants dressed as a chubby little turkey (you know I would have been the turkey).
When my daughter first came home with the story of the first Thanksgiving, that sweet story about sharing, love and pilgrims wearing huge buckles on their shoes, I automatically felt sad for the indigenous people of America, who paid a huge price when the European settlers arrived;  I am too old to listen innocently to that story. Let’s be honest, Thanksgiving for me has always just been a blip on my calendar, a little distraction from my Christmas shopping, Christmas decorating, and cookie baking. I have always treated it as a non-day, a day of lounging.

Until This Year

“But I want a proper Thanksgiving!” Yelled my son last night. It’s a big deal to him it seems.His friends are eating turkey and inviting family over, and thinking hard about what they are grateful for in life. Well, we are vegetarian, so homemade pizza will have to do, but giving thanks for all the good things in our lives, well that does sound like something I can get behind. This year, we will make our own traditions, and celebrate Thanksgiving in our own way. Pizza, fiery hot jalapeno cornbread, family, low maintenance sweatpants and slippers, board games, Harry Potter movies, group hugs (my idea), and really, really,  thinking about what we have to be grateful for. I’ve been thinking about this already, here are some obvious, and not so obvious ones:

My family  (this is one of the obvious ones) who are gorgeous in so many ways that I can’t even begin to put them into words, so I won’t.

The new(ish) friends that I have made over here, that have made me feel welcome, and been a comfort over the past few weeks, when truth be told, I crumbled a bit.

The old friends who, even though I only see them once a year or less, when I visit England, still pick up where we left off, and make me feel more ‘me’ again.

My British Indian childhood, that prepared me for my life as a smart ass, sarcastic, and outspoken woman, bridger of cultural gaps, stereotype breaker. It made me sensitive to the next generation of children growing between multiple cultures. It taught me to keep an open mind about people, and never take anything for granted.

Art and design, for giving me a language that makes communication so much easier, and for giving me succour and direction.

My studio, it may be a tiny half bedroom with a broken closet packed with art materials, but it is still mine, and I’m lucky to have it. I’m lucky to have the beautiful house that it is in as well.

My ‘otherness’. My background, race, multiple nationalities and career choices mean that I have always been a minority, and have often felt, and been perceived as ‘other’ wherever I go. This is not necessarily a bad thing, I think it has made me more empathetic and helps me see things from many perspectives. I hope my children discover this about themselves too.

People who will stick up for others. The rabble rousers and dreamers, the outspoken people who care so much about what is right, and want to change the world for the better. Thank goodness for them, we can all take a page out of their books. Speaking of which…


Books
JUST BOOKS. I am a bibliophile, and so are my kids, books cheer us up, make us smart, make us laugh and cry , teach us so many, many things. Thank you books.

Goodness, I could keep going, but I’ll save it for my adorable family, who love to listen to my long impassioned rants. Happy Thanksgiving everybody, stay thankful and spend the weekend (and your lives) being kind to one another.

 

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