what am i thinking?

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honestly, i have the strangest priorities sometimes.  because what am i thinking, breaking out the blackboard paint to finally make the blackboard wall i’ve been planning for the last – oh, i don’t know – three months?!  seriously, all of a sudden, there’s this urge to get.it.done.  never mind the gifts i’ve yet to make and the cookies we want to bake and the bathrooms i must clean. there’s a wall that needs painting!

i think the urge is in response to a behavior of mine that i don’t like…that i start projects and get distracted by the other.  it isn’t behavior i want to model for my kids, and that’s on my mind a lot lately.  but it’s easy to get distracted {tell me if i’m wrong}…the family responsibilities, the cleaning, the job, the self-care {what?  what’s that?}.  i had the best intentions when i began this project back in the fall. wood, check. blackboard paint, check. stain for the boards, check.  but, oops, if you stain pine, you need to prepare the wood first or else you end up with splotches {i ended up with splotches}. that was my first setback. it meant another trip to home depot for more wood, or figuring out a way to work with the boards i’d already screwed up.  i decided to work with what i had…but that meant a new stain with a new technique {which required research}, a trip to home depot for a certain grade steel wool. and then another trip to home depot for an additional grade steel wool {because, oops, i didn’t read all the instructions} {and various grades of steel wool? who knew?}.

so, you get the idea…i got sidetracked.  because in and around all that was, well, the rest of life.  i don’t really understand why i get so sidetracked in my projects, but i do.  i get excited, i get overwhelmed, i procrastinate, i change my mind, i screw up, i get overwhelmed…then there’s the laundry and a list of ten million {so it seems} things that need doing.  and here we are months later.  oy.  but i’m going to get this done.  first coat of paint is up as i type this; second coat to follow today; boards are stained and ready to go.  this project may have dragged out longer than necessary {i fully admit that}, but i’m doing it.

and then i’m going to start stitching and baking.  none of it crazy, mind you…i am holding to what i wrote here and here.  somehow it’s all getting done.  and crazy as it seems to be painting this wall just before christmas, it also feels like {almost} perfect timing.  it really does.

sending a little love your way, m

 

p.s. if you’re curious, i’m making a chalkboard like this one.  and i made my frame look {sort of} like this.

 

 

it can wait

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it’s friday already?  say what?!  seriously, i’m working on being present, and, mostly, i feel like i am present…but how can i get from monday to friday and not really know how that happened?  there were sweet bits to my week…much to appreciate.  there were also a few {parenting} hitches…i swear those hitches try my patience like no other kind of hitch.  it wasn’t a fast-and-furious kind of week, but as the week winds down and we round our way into the weekend, i’m sitting here shaking my head.

it’s friday already?  say what?!  i’ve determined not to get caught up in the holiday frenzy. and not that i’ve ever really done that, but this year, especially, i’m making an effort to keep things slow and easy.  so slow and easy that i still have a lot of things that need doing before that certain date rolls around {and i’m well aware that it will be rolling around mighty soon}. i’m not stressed.  but the fact that i’m not stressed kinda stresses me out.  know what i mean?

seriously, it’s friday?  what’s a girl to do?  here’s what she does.  she makes herself a cup of tea {or coffee, if that’s her thing} and maybe she writes a list, maybe not.  as the day progresses, maybe she crosses a few things off that list, maybe not.  but she does what absolutely needs doing and lets the rest wait.  because, in all honesty, there’s a lot that can really, truly wait.  and at the end of the day, she’s going to kick her feet up and sink into the couch and know that tomorrow’s another day. another day for the tea {or coffee} and the list. another day to do what absolutely needs doing.  another day to decide what can really, truly wait.

because we all know there’s a lot that can really, truly wait.
{yes, even during the holiday season}

sending a little love your way, m

 

 

what i want to remember

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this is what i want to remember today…putting up the christmas lights.  how my son took charge and pretty much did the whole job himself {well, okay, if you insist…}.  how he told me he wanted it to be perfect and wanted to do it all by himself {though he let me move the chair for him}, even when that meant redoing the last section…because this boy is not a slacker with the lights {unlike moi who would have totally made do with the way it came out the first time}. and how my daughter ran around the yard with the pup, shoes thrown off {no matter that it was in the thirties}, running through the near-frozen grass in her polka dot socks.  how she slipped her feet back into her shoes and climbed the tree {so high} {too high}.  how she snipped evergreen boughs and holly sprigs for the mantel.  and how i snipped a few more. and, after the lights were all strung, the three of us stood in the yard, facing the house.  and we smiled.  i didn’t look at either one of them {i was too busy looking at the lights} but i knew there were smiling…i felt it.  and i knew my son was proud, so proud. and my daughter too, for different reasons.  there was pride.  and contentment.  and then we gathered the boughs and sprigs, the extra cords, the pruners.  we went inside. and we waited for my husband to come home and see the magic worked.

sending a little love your way, m

 

 

an interview + a special gift = a whole lotta goodness {alisha hastings-kimball}

today, i’m excited to introduce you to a wonderful woman with whom i’m grateful to have crossed paths…online and in real-time. yes!  i’ve met alisha myself…we’ve hugged in person!  i first met her at squam, and, just this past summer, i managed to sneak away for a few hours {thank you to my sister for entertaining the kiddos meanwhile} to visit alisha in her home and studio.  she is warm and genuine and gentle {and she makes a delicious lentil salad}.  i’ve invited her to join us so that you can get to know her better…

{all photos credit of alisha hastings-kimball}

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can you tell us a bit about your creative work and business?

I have always loved making things ever since I was a child and have had a yearning to share my work with the world for pretty much as long as I can remember.

I painted for many years and pursued all sorts of creative endeavors, at one point I even wrote and illustrated a children’s book (it was never picked up for publishing, this was before self publishing). Around that time, I was playing around with polymer clay for fun and discovered I really enjoyed it and so even back then I always had an inkling that I might be good at ceramics. Fast forward to 1999 when a friend asked me to join her for ceramics class. After my first class I was smitten and came home that evening and declared to my husband that I needed a pottery studio and the rest, as they say, is history.

I started Songbird Studio about 10 years ago. I wanted a place where I could create things from my heart and then share these creations with the world. I also love that the studio is at my home in a converted barn so that I can also be there for my children.

you and i have had discussions about being an artist and a mother.  how does your creative work mesh with your role as mother?

I have spent a lot of time wrestling, figuring out and accepting how to mesh this life of artist and mother properly. It is truly a huge balancing act and one that I only can do because I have a wonderful supportive family who encourages me and I have so much gratitude for that. It is very hard to do both and do both well. Being both an artist and a mother means that I have officially become a recovering perfectionist, and I might not create as much work as often as I would like, but it also means I get to do things like filling my daughters room with balloons so the floor is covered with them when she wakes for her 10th birthday.  There are pros and cons to it all. But being an artist is in my blood, it’s a soul calling I can’t stop being a creative even if I wanted to. I’ve always been an artist even when I tried to deny that about myself so I’ve reconciled with myself that I am an artist who is also a mom. I wouldn’t feel as whole if I tried to just be a mom only. I think there is a real stigma in our society about choosing to do something besides being a mother especially if the thing you want to be is an artist. I think that it is seen by some as being selfish. Truthfully, I think being able to be an artist and sharing my work actually helps me to be a better mother. I appreciate my time in the studio as much as I appreciate my time being a mom because all of it is limited, special and helps bring into focus the need to be present and mindful of all the moments. Being an artist fulfills me in a way that brings me joy and happiness and that in turn ripples back to my family.

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do you prefer throwing on the wheel or working off the wheel?

I actually like both and I can’t say I have a preference to one over the other. It’s more for me about the ability to be able to create whatever it is I have in my mind. So that may require me to do some hand building and some throwing and combine both methods or it may require just one.

My love lines for example are all hand built**. Where as my mindfulness mugs are all thrown. But my sheep knitting bowls and minis are both thrown and handbuilt. A lot of times I’ll throw things and then I’ll add handbuilt sculptural aspects to my peices. Being able to do both allows me the most versatility.
**see next photo

do you have a favorite method of firing?  or favorite glazes?  what do you love making?

I mostly use my electric kilns and commercial glazes. I do also have a Raku kiln that my husband built for me. Raku is a completely different firing process where pieces are removed from the kiln while still glowing red hot and then placed in a container with combustible materials which interact with the glazes in very unpredictable ways. I’ve not done a Raku firing in a while but I’m hoping to do some more in the early spring. Also, I’ve recently started using porcelain and am in the process of developing my style with this clay. I am excited to be trying some new things out. Ceramics is a very precarious art form which is not for faint of heart. Its a very lengthy process and there are many steps along the way for the work to be destroyed. Ceramics has a lot a lessons to teach.

I love making it all truthfully… But if I had to say right now, I am really especially enjoying see my mindfulness mugs and bowls getting out into the world. I think because I especially like the idea behind them.

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you use words on many of your pieces.  from where does the inspiration for that come?

Mostly my inspiration comes from my own journey of self-discovery, self-love and a sprinkle of play thrown in for good measure. I make things that come from my heart and that are inspired by love. I make things that I think personally would be useful, beautiful and bring that love in my heart out into the greater world.

A couple of years ago I found out about this scientist, Masaru Emoto, who did these amazing experiments with water. His results and photographs inspired me to create my mindfulness mugs. We are all coming to understand more and more about how all of life is interconnected and that our personal thoughts have far greater impact on one another then we’ve ever realized. I created these mugs and bowls with the idea that whatever they were holding was infused with the message imprinted in the clay.

All my work with words is meant to help you stay mindful and infuse your life with the spirit of our interconnectedness.

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now for a few fun ones…

what did you eat for breakfast? 

I usually get up early in the morning and have a nut bar and then later I have a true breakfast/lunch meal with a cup of tea, and today it is a navel orange and a peice of homemade zucchini casserole.

do you have a favorite day of the week? 

My favorite day is Saturday because that’s when my family is all together

what’s your favorite color to wear? 

I love wearing shades of purple and lavender… It’s my favorite color.

if you close your eyes right now, what word comes to mind? 

Peace

and finally
alisha has a special offering for you.  read on…

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When you purchase a beautiful piece from Songbird Studio between Dec.5th and Dec.31st, you’ll receive an exclusive “Songbird Studio Heart Print ” designed for your altar, or to carry as a talisman in your pocket, give to your sweetie as a reminder of your love, keep on your desk or window sill as a beacon of love. The choice will be up to you. Simply use promo code “HeartPrint” at check out. Only while supplies last.

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Alisha is an ceramic artist who loves creating unique beautiful environments. She is also a wife and mother to two incredible children and one wonderful kitty. When she’s not getting her hands dirty with clay she also enjoys photography, painting, sewing and writing. She is always looking for ways to embrace creativity in the everyday moments of life.

you can find alisha at songbird studio
and on her blog, news from the nest
on instagram
and on facebook

twenty-five in december

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it’s december.  {i know you know.}  and i want my kids to focus on things other than the 25th. i want to focus on things other than the 25th. because december is full of days, 31 to be exact. and so i’m making my kids a little countdown of sorts…not with gifts or candy {although they have a candy ribbon countdown that their grandmother made} {how can i resist?}.  but this year, i wanted to do something…more.  and so each day they will open a little envelope that’s clipped on some twine and pull out a slip of paper with a note written on it.  a gentle challenge, a prompt of sorts.  here’s what we’re going to do…

give extra hugs today.  say thank you {and really mean it}.  do a secret favor for someone. write a love note and leave it on someone’s pillow. tell someone something you really like about them.

tell a silly joke to make someone laugh.  donate a book to the library.  make something for someone {a card, a piece of toast…anything.  it doesn’t have to be fancy}.  help around the house without being asked.  feed the birds.

listen really closely to others and try not to interrupt.  make a card for your grandparents.  be patient.  donate food to the local food bank. make daddy’s lunch for tomorrow.

share extra cuddles with kona {our pup}.  give out candy canes at co-op.  play a game that you know someone else really loves.  tidy your bedroom {help your sibling if help is needed}. hold doors open for other people.

donate a toy.  cook dinner for the family.  write a letter and tell your sibling why you love him/her.  if you love someone, tell them.  take a few minutes to think about the goodness of your life.

maybe you want to play too.  {you might want to tweak some to fit your life better.}  just promise me that you do this only if it feels good.  this is not about creating things that need doing.  for me {and, i hope, for my kids} it’s about sinking into our days…days that happen to fall in december.  and there happen to be 25 envelopes, but it’s about much more than a number.  it’s about the spirit of our days.  together.  in december.

sending  a little love your way, m