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.
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!

Picking blackberries in Morden, Surrey.
Morden Hall Park

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

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


Weekend Book Picks For All Ages

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….

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.


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.

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 .



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.


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

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:

Happy weekend, my lovelies!