Oh Creative Lady: Meet Cristin from Artsplorers

Oh Creative Lady: Meet Cristin from Artsplorers

Oh Creative Lady - Oh Creative Day

Through blogging and Instagramming, I’ve been introduced to an amazing Virtual Sisterhood of Creative Ladies.

The Oh Creative Lady series is your chance to meet these incredible, kind-hearted, inspiring <insert ALL the happy, positive adjectives HERE> women.

Meet Cristin, beholder of not one, but two excellent blogs. At Artsplorers, she focuses on experiences involving the arts for kids in Sydney. Cristin’s passion for infusing the arts into the everyday for all children (not just the Sydney-based ones!) is contagious. There are so many points in this interview where I was furiously nodding my head like a crazy lady. People who don’t eat breakfast! Shower ideas! A world curated by Leslie Knope!

Cristin is originally from the US and shares her experiences of expat living on her second blog, Between Roots and Wings. I love, love, love having a sticky beak in to the lives of others and how they arrived at where they are. I adore how all of my Oh Creative Ladies are so open to sharing their pearls of wisdom. Prepare to add a few more pearls to your collection. Welcome, Cristin!

The Oh Creative Lady series is your chance to meet the incredible women I've met through blogging and Instagram. Meet Cristin from Artsplorers, a fab blog that focuses on arts for kids in Sydney.

I am… Hello! I’m Cristin. I like peanut butter, and folk music, and op shops, and Toni Morrison. I’m an insufferable politics sharer on Facebook. I make really good salsa. I don’t understand people who don’t eat breakfast.

I live in Sydney with my very nice husband and two sweet little girls, aged 1 and 5. We moved to Australia from the U.S. in 2010, and I feel like we’re probably going to stick around for awhile (I like flat whites, and health care and I definitely don’t like Donald Trump).

My background is in the theatre. I have a BFA in Theatre Management and an MFA in Dramaturgy/Theatre Criticism. After graduating, I was the Literary Manager at a theatre in Florida. When I moved to Australia, I found that there wasn’t an amazing amount of demand for someone with my professional background, so I spent a few years trying to carve out a niche for myself. I started a website where I interviewed Australian playwrights. I did an internship at Playwriting Australia (it was hilarious to be a 30 year old intern!). I did a project where I read 100 Australian plays in 100 days, and wrote about it for AustralianPlays.org.

But, once my daughter came along, my interest in doing that sort of hustle and working theatre hours really waned, as I focused on being a stay-at-home mother. I’d started an expat blog when we moved here, and that became my creative outlet when she was little. Then, a couple of years ago, I had a “shower idea” that I couldn’t shake, which was to start another blog about kids and the arts. I’d never seen anything quite like what I had in mind. I’d seen “out and about” blogs, and book blogs, and craft blogs, but I wanted to do something with an overarching theme about the importance of all of the arts being a regular part of children’s lives. So, my current project, Artsplorers was born. It focuses on the arts for kids in Sydney, with local reviews, a calendar of events, and a directory of area arts classes for kids; but, many of the posts are also relevant to parents everywhere.

The Oh Creative Lady series is your chance to meet the incredible women I've met through blogging and Instagram. Meet Cristin from Artsplorers, a fab blog that focuses on arts for kids in Sydney.

I find inspiration… I’m inspired by people who don’t try to hide their intelligence in a culture where being smart isn’t always considered the coolest thing going. I’m so over cynicism, being blasé, and not “rocking the boat.” I want to spend my time with people who think about things, care about issues, and are happy to share their wild, weird and wonderful passions because I’m always looking for the courage to do more of that, myself. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve also begun to refuse to give time, whether in real life or in the media I consume, to people who don’t choose compassion and kindness.

I guess what I’m saying here is that I want to live in a world curated by Leslie Knope from Parks and Recreation!

I am excited about … At the beginning of this year, I started a new monthly feature on Artsplorers where I’m reviewing children’s music (music that you can actually stand to listen to). I’m no music expert, but I’ve been discovering this whole world of Australian children’s artists who are so great, and are just hustling their tails off to get their music out there. It seems impossible to escape The Wiggles, but seriously, you have got to hear Angie Who and the Teeny Tiny Stevies, and all these other great acts out there who both you and your kids can love. Artsplorers is just little, but I love that I have a rooftop to shout out about something that not many people are putting a spotlight on.

When I’m in a creative slump, I… A few years ago, I had this epiphany that whenever I’m about to break something open creatively, I always go into this awful existential crisis funk for a few days. I go into a complete grump, and I just want to wall myself off, and not talk to anyone. Such an introvert! And then, I get myself out for a really long walk in the sun, and suddenly things just break wide open with a new idea or way of looking at a problem. I’d love to figure out how to get myself unstuck without the terrible mood first!

The Oh Creative Lady series is your chance to meet the incredible women I've met through blogging and Instagram. Meet Cristin from Artsplorers, a fab blog that focuses on arts for kids in Sydney.

I’m really proud of… Is it too cliche to say that I’m proud of my kids? Seriously, though, raising little people is tough stuff, and I think my girls are coming up pretty ace, so far.

Getting my Master’s degree at Brooklyn College was probably the hardest and most rewarding thing I’ve done. I sometimes miss those days of deep diving into Shakespeare, Ibsen, Brecht, and all the great writers, plus getting to do so much collaborative, creative work, all while surviving on Chinese takeaway, pizza slices, and almost no sleep or money.

And, I suppose moving half way around the world to a place I’d never been with a two suitcases and my boyfriend was a pretty big leap.

Someone once told me… The most influential thing I’ve ever read has been the work of mythologist Joseph Campbell. I always go back to his words when I need to take a step forward or understand something. He explained how our need for stories and metaphor is a universal human experience, across all times and cultures. They teach us how to live. His most famous quote is, “Follow your bliss, and the universe will open doors where there were only walls.” Follow your bliss has never steered me wrong in my life.

The Oh Creative Lady series is your chance to meet the incredible women I've met through blogging and Instagram. Meet Cristin from Artsplorers, a fab blog that focuses on arts for kids in Sydney.

My advice to you is … Take your kids to a museum. Make something with them. See a play. Talk about street art when you pass it. Pick out gorgeous picture books to read with your little ones, and give them as gifts. Show them a famous dance company on YouTube. Listen to a lot of different types of music. Have a dance party in your living room. In short, support the arts and make them part of your life every day. We all have busy days, and the arts are the heart and soul that make our lives rich.

You can find me at …

Artsplorers blog
Artsplorers on Facebook
Artsplorers on Facebook

Or on my expat blog
Between Roots and Wings
Between Toots and Wings on Facebook
Between Toots and Wings on Facebook

We Are the Memory Keepers

We Are the Memory Keepers

All photos in this post are by Sharon Troy-Baldwin.
Sharon gifted us a “Day in the Life” session.
Thank you, Sharon!

How do you record family memories?

The year ends.
I start creating a family photo album, sifting through photos from the year that was.
What happy snaps make it into the hallowed photo album Hall of Fame?
Photos of birthdays. Christmas. First times riding bicycles.
The Big Moments.

As a parent, the photo album task is one that I commit to with a strange fervour.
We are the Memory Keepers.

Parenting is a roller coaster of contradictions.
Uplifting. Defeating. Joy-filled.
Bone-crushingly exhausting.
Days filled with memorable moments.
Days filled with mundane moments.

Whilst I love our family photo albums as a record of all the Big Moments, what about those in-between mundane moments?
Those fleeting, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it, I’m-gonna-miss-this-one-day moments?

That moment when the sun filters through the back window, catching my golden-haired child as he is immersed in play.
I want to remember that.

The way my eldest arranges her “treasures” into seemingly haphazard collections. In her eyes, however, they are meticulously organised.
I want to remember that.

The way my babe vacuums down food despite only having one tooth.
I want to remember that.

The calm and chaos that bath time brings, signalling the march towards bed time.
I want to remember that.

The way our living space sometimes feels overwhelmingly overrun with little people, pencils, books, emotions and needs.
I want to remember that.

Those little everyday moments.Sharon Troy-Baldwin is a Sydney-based family photographer who offered to capture some of my family’s little everyday moments.
She offers “Day in the Life” sessions that document families just doing their thing. Living their lives. Dealing with the tantrums. Dishing out crackers and apples for the 65th time that day. Being audience to impromptu living room dance performances.

The best bit about the whole experience was that there was no “Look at the camera. No, just look at the…. where are you going? Hands away from your face! Please just smile.”
Completely natural. Unscripted. Unposed. No matching outfits. No forced smiles. Just us being us.
Colouring in our 17th Paw Patrol picture for the day (amongst other stuff.)

How does a shoot work?

The day before our shoot, Sharon and I had a quick chat on the phone about what to expect.
Sharon is super flexible and easy-going. Initially she offered to come and hang out at our place for 8 hours to capture our day.
However, we are still in the glorious season of life where my kids take day naps.
So we decided to opt for a 4 hour (ish) afternoon session, post-naps.
Capturing what happens here most afternoons- some play, dinner prep, bath time, chores, some TV time.
Nothing exceptionally glamorous.


What do you do?

You can choose to have Sharon follow you on a big day out, down to the shops or spend the day at home.
The emphasis is on your day simply being documented. We chose to hang at home because we do a lot of it, we’re really good at it and have you tried to get 3 little people out of the house?

Are these photos an honest depiction of our daily life?

Yes.
Except for the fact that I did actually get out of my pyjamas, I brushed my hair and my house was a tad bit tidier than usual.
But this is not a photo session where you need to wear your Sunday best, have your hair done and a full face of make up on.
Sharon’s advice is to come as you are. (Although I made the executive decision that none of you needed to see me in my pjs.)
I adore the fact that I have photos of me putting laundry away whilst balancing a wriggling babe on my hip. This is our life.
This is absolutely an honest reflection of this season of our lives. But if anybody has tips on organising linen, please holler.

What’s it like having a photographer/paparazzo in your home?

In our pre-shoot chat, I mentioned to Sharon that our preschooler likes to be in charge.
READ: Doesn’t always respond well to instructions from people she doesn’t know well.
We had a formal photo shoot last year where the photographer issued instructions to Miss 4.
Miss 4 then refused to have her photo taken. Fun times. Those photos now hang on our lounge room wall and make us laugh.
It looks like Happy Families but the behind-the-scenes involved some painful parenting moments.
I wondered how Miss 4 would respond to someone on her home turf, taking her photo.

Miss 4’s response blew me away. I completely attribute it to Sharon’s gentle approach that put the preschooler at ease.
Miss 4 was keen to show Sharon her room, her treasures, her favourite dresses, her dance routines.
The memories of this part of the experience are actually some of my faves.
Sharon really does a marvelous effort of putting you at ease.
You just go about your day and she’ll capture it. Simple.

I adore how our photos capture our story. Our everyday. Our love-soaked memories.

Follow Sharon on Facebook or find out more about her documentary photography packages on her website.

Sharon provided the shoot and images free of charge.
All opinions expressed here are my own and honest. Cross my heart.
We choose not to share clear photos online of our eldest 2’s faces. Sharon takes exceptionally rad photos of visible faces too (just in case you were wondering.)

Prawn on the Barbie Summer Craft

Prawn on the Barbie Summer Craft

Grab the free prawn printable for this summer craft and throw some (felt) prawns on the (cardboard) BBQ. Go on. Throw another prawn on the barbie.

This post contains affiliate links.
Thanks ever so much for your support!


When I think of summer in Australia, I feel the searing heat of the sun on my skin. Salty lips. Beach hair. Lazy days. Backyard BBQs. Prawns.
Yes, prawns. Because I can’t think of a BBQ without hearing the phrase “throw another prawn on the barbie.”
And that, my friends, is how this summer craft came about.
Create some felt prawns, a BBQ out of reused cardboard, make use of some velcro and you’ve got yourself a backyard summer game.

What You Will Need:

For the BBQ
Cardboard (we reused a box)
Craft knife / sharp scissors
Pencil
Black paint
Bowl to trace around
Velcro (Hook tape fastener)
Grey / silver spray paint

For the prawns
Free prawn printable
Felt in colours of your choice
Thread and needle
Fiberfill / stuffing
Googly eyes
Pipecleaner

How To Make the BBQ:

Grab the free prawn printable for this summer craft and throw some (felt) prawns on the (cardboard) BBQ. Go on. Throw another prawn on the barbie.Raid your crockery cupboard, find a big bowl and trace around it onto cardboard.
Add handles if you wish.
Cut your round BBQ shape out.
If using a craft knife, use a mat and be careful! (Yes, mum.)

Grab the free prawn printable for this summer craft and throw some (felt) prawns on the (cardboard) BBQ. Go on. Throw another prawn on the barbie.Paint your BBQ black and set aside to dry.
Grab the free prawn printable for this summer craft and throw some (felt) prawns on the (cardboard) BBQ. Go on. Throw another prawn on the barbie.My hook fastener came in a roll.
I ran strips from one end of a box to the other end and then spray painted the strips.
Ensure that you spray paint in a well-ventilated area.

Grab the free prawn printable for this summer craft and throw some (felt) prawns on the (cardboard) BBQ. Go on. Throw another prawn on the barbie.

Once the paint on the BBQ and the velcro strips has dried, peel the backing away from the velcro strips and stick onto the BBQ.

How To Make the Prawns:

Grab the free prawn printable for this summer craft and throw some (felt) prawns on the (cardboard) BBQ. Go on. Throw another prawn on the barbie.

Print and cut out the prawn template. (I used the larger size.)
Place your template on two pieces of felt and cut out your prawn.
I used a simple running stitch to sew the two pieces of felt together.
Before sewing up the whole prawn, be sure to add stuffing.

Look, we don’t judge around here.
If the thought of sewing gives you heebie-jeebies, then use a hot glue or fabric glue to seal the felt together.

Grab the free prawn printable for this summer craft and throw some (felt) prawns on the (cardboard) BBQ. Go on. Throw another prawn on the barbie.

Embellish your prawns as you please. I just glued on a googly eye.
I made antennae with pipe cleaners and then pushed the pipe cleaner between a gap in stitching.

Now the fun part. Determining the rules of the game.
Do different zones of the BBQ bring different points?
Do you earn extra points for “flamboyant” prawn-throwing?
Do you have to stand a certain distance from the BBQ?
So many possibilities.

Grab the free prawn printable for this summer craft and throw some (felt) prawns on the (cardboard) BBQ. Go on. Throw another prawn on the barbie.

 

 

We also made medals for the Grand Throwing-a-Prawn-on-the-Barbie Champion.
We traced around a lid to create the medal.
Using the smaller prawn on the template, we decorated them with paint sticks and collage materials.
Then we glued the prawn onto the BBQs, punched a hole and strung some yarn through.
Voila. Medals!

Pin for later:

rab the free prawn printable for this summer craft and throw some (felt) prawns on the (cardboard) BBQ. Go on. Throw another prawn on the barbie. www.ohcreativeday.com

 

rab the free prawn printable for this summer craft and throw some (felt) prawns on the (cardboard) BBQ. Go on. Throw another prawn on the barbie.

 

 

Oh Creative Lady: Meet Karla from Blastastic Day

Oh Creative Lady: Meet Karla from Blastastic Day

Oh Creative Lady - Oh Creative Day

Through blogging and Instagramming, I’ve been introduced to an amazing Virtual Sisterhood of Creative Ladies.

The Oh Creative Lady series is your chance to meet these incredible, kind-hearted, inspiring <insert ALL the happy, positive adjectives HERE> women.

It is such a pleasure to kick off the 2018 series of Oh Creative Lady with this gorgeous mamma, Karla from Blastastic Day. We met via the old Instagram (I feel like all my stories begin this way.) I was captured by the way this lady so obviously makes the time to creatively connect with her little one. No mean feat when she also works full-time and runs 2 Etsy stores. My love for Karla has been completely affirmed by her admission of loving carbs. I love the way she gently gives us an insight into her life here and shares the advice she gives herself. Introducing Karla from Blastastic Day!

Through blogging and Instagramming, I’ve been introduced to an amazing Virtual Sisterhood of Creative Ladies. Meet Karla, from Blastastic Day.I am… Karla, but you can call me Karlita. I’m a mama, a wife, a friend, an introvert, a twin, a carbohydrateholic, a cat lady, a daydreamer, a designer, a maker and a wannabe art teacher.

I’m lucky to share my life with my favorite people, my husband, best friend and boyfriend for 17 years, Angel, our 4-year-old son, Lennon, and our cats Rita and Maxwell. (We’re big Beatles fans in case you haven’t figured it out by the names of our son and cats!)

I was born in Mexico and moved to the US (against my will!) to attend college in El Paso, TX. I studied graphic design and in my last year at university I got an internship opportunity in Knoxville, TN with Scripps Networks, the parent company to a handful of cable TV channels like HGTV, Food Network & Travel Channel. That opportunity lead me to my current job with the company as a graphic designer… that was almost 10 years ago!

I spend a good part of my day in front of a computer pushing pixels left and right, that at the end of the day all I crave is to do things with my hands. I run two Etsy shops KAANG and KAALEN and this year I’m working on my Blastastic Day Etsy shop. @blastasticday is my Instagram account where I share creative projects I make with Lennon. I’ve always loved to make and create and to share this passion of mine with my son is everything to me. It is my favorite way to bond with him and to keep our creativity going. Starting my separate creative Instagram account has been one of the best things I did last year, it is something that I had been wanting to do for a couple of  years and I have gained so much out of it. I have met so many incredibly kind and creative people (like you, Shannon!) through the Instagram community. It inspires me daily to check my feed and see what everyone shares.

Through blogging and Instagramming, I’ve been introduced to an amazing Virtual Sisterhood of Creative Ladies. Meet Karla from Blastastic Day.

I find inspiration… The internet is my main form of inspiration, it’s where my heroes “live.” I get so inspired by people who work hard to follow their dreams. I love reading inspirational books from my internet heroes, my current favorites are: Steal Like an Artist, by Austin Kleon, Things Are What You Make of Them, by Adam J Kurtz and The Crossroads of Should and Must, by Elle Luna.

I also get very inspired by picture books. I love them and can’t get enough of them! It’s hard not to be inspired by the genius books from Hervé Tullet, the beautiful illustrations of Christian Robinson or the brilliant work of Eric Carle.

I am excited about … Tomorrow, the future. There are so many things I want to do that it will take me another lifetime to do it all.

When I’m in a creative slump, I… like to go outside for a walk, nothing beats some fresh air to clear your head. If I’m in front of my computer I like to listen to music or podcasts like Out of Line, Creative Pep Talk and Design Matters. If I have the chance, a trip to Barnes and Noble or Target always help me get inspired. Browsing through books, enjoying beautiful designs and illustrations. The internet is great but being able to touch things and hold them totally beats any screen inspiration.

Through blogging and Instagramming, I’ve been introduced to an amazing Virtual Sisterhood of Creative Ladies. Meet Karla from Blastastic Day.I’m really proud of… Working hard to overcome my shyness. I have always been a shy person but I had learned little by little to overcome it and it has not been easy. But it has been so fulfilling and it have opened many doors that before I would feel so intimidated to knock upon.

Someone once told me… It’s a quote that I love and I live by about gratitude…

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” William Ward

My advice to you is … I don’t like giving advice. But I can share with you the advice I gave myself on my past birthday. 

Through blogging and Instagramming, I’ve been introduced to an amazing Virtual Sisterhood of Creative Ladies. Meet Karla from Blastastic Day.

You can find me at …

Blastasticday website

Instagram

Facebook

Twitter

Behance

Pinterest

Etsy – Kaalen or Kaang

Oh Creative Lady: Meet Riikka Jantti, author of Little Mouse

Oh Creative Lady: Meet Riikka Jantti, author of Little Mouse

Oh Creative Lady - Oh Creative Day
This post contains affiliate links.
Thanks for your support!
We are huge fans of the Little Mouse books by Riikka Jantti. In fact, just last week, Miss 4 insisted on taking all 3 of the series to preschool for News. The genius of these books lies in the way young readers empathise with Little Mouse discovering the world, whilst parents empathise with the ever-patient but slightly weary, Mummy Mouse. Little Mouse is exploring the boundaries of his world and asserting his independence whenever he can. I recognise so much of the curious and spirited Little Mouse in my own littles. The latest book, Little Mouse’s Christmas, is a delightful glimpse into a Scandinavian Christmas. My children strongly identify with Little Mouse’s impatient wait for Christmas and the temptation of all those Advent windows! It is such a treat to have Little Mouse author, Riikka Jantti, as an Oh Creative Lady.
It is such a treat to have the author of the Little Mouse series, Riikka Jantti, as an Oh Creative Lady. We are big fans of the Little Mouse series here.
I am… a 45 years old writer and illustrator. I live in Helsinki with my daughter and my father, so there are three generations in our household. This is very handy, we like the arrangement very much. My daughter goes to pre-school, she is six, and I make childrens’ books. My father mostly plays solitaire.
I find inspiration…
My greatest inspiration, when talking about ’Little Mouse’, is of course my daughter. She is funny, and she challenges me every day by being very strong and self-willed. Most of the stories tell quite accurately about our daily life. Our favourite moment is the reading session in the evening, when I read her the bed-time stories.
I am excited about …
I’m happy to have a job I love, and a few good friends. I like cooking, I often invite my friends to eat. I’m now working on Little Mouse -book number four. It tells about Mouse’s and his mother’s trip to their summer cottage.
When I’m in a creative slump, I… read comic books. Especially Asterix and Lucky Luke (classic comic books made by French and Belgian artists). Just reading the best comic books there are, often gives me the creative spark again. It’s like meeting old friends.
It is such a treat to have the author of Little Mouse, Riikka Jantti, as an Oh Creative Lady. We are big fans of the Little Mouse series here.
 
I’m really proud of…
I think my greatest achievement is that my books have been translated in other languages. That little kids around the world are reading them.
Someone once told me…
In high school I had a very good Finnish teacher. She encouraged me to write more, and gave very good feedback. I still hear her voice in my head when I write.
My advice to you is … the world is nicer when you are nice yourself. And us artists, we should make the world a little more beautiful, rather than ugly.
The awesome kids over at Scribble Kids have given me a copy that I’ll be giving away next week over on Instagram. Make sure you pop by to enter!

The images and titles of each book will take you to the Australian based online bookstore Booktopia. As a Booktopia Affiliate, purchases clicked through from my blog result in a small commission. You do not pay any extra for your books! Commission is used to maintain Oh Creative Day. For more information, you can read my Disclosure Policy here.

Not Australian? The Amazon links will take you to Amazon. I am also an affiliate with Amazon and will receive a small commission. You do not pay any extra for your books. Thanks for your support. Happy reading!

Grab a copy of my "12 Oh Creative Days of Christmas" eBook. Creatively connect with your children through art, craft and play this festive season. 70+ pages featuring… 12 projects with detailed tutorials | Loads of tips, tricks and inspiration | 13 pages of templates, play dough mats and printable prompts.

 

Oh Creative Lady: Meet Amanda from barley and birch

Oh Creative Lady: Meet Amanda from barley and birch

Oh Creative Lady - Oh Creative Day

It has taken me way longer than usual to organise this Oh Creative Lady post from Amanda of barley & birch. Mainly because throughout this interview, Amanda recommends so many interesting and ace things that I became very distracted (Google the Christmas cards of Hilma Berglund! Subscribe to the Making Oprah podcast! Check out Smudge!)
Amanda’s suggestions, her words and her insights into her life all confirm something I’ve suspected for awhile now- Amanda is one insanely rad lady.
In the grand scheme of online FanGirl relationships, we haven’t been InstaBuds for that long. But y’know when you come across somebody online and you think “how has this person not been in my life for longer?!” Well, that.
(You may recall we recently celebrated 80s Week together.)
Enough with the gushing. Introducing the very fabulous Amanda.

Oh Creative Lady barley and birch

I am… Amanda Eldridge, hi! I run barley & birch & put together small modern art collections by day, just started teaching creative workshops for kids & families by night, and quietly tinker with various side projects in the background.

Currently, I live in the Midwest with my very large, extremely huggable Golden Retriever, Thor. I love traveling and LOVE (in caps!) moving to new places, so also enjoy living fairly simply. When I picture my perfect life I have a 1988 Jeep Wagoneer, a rehabbed trailer, my dog, art supplies, and a camera – and we just motor from place to place around the US. I’m skeptical this would actually go at all well in real life, but I love daydreaming about it!

I’ve lived in NYC, Chicago, Cleveland and San Diego, and Southern California will always be one of my favorite places – a big part of my spirit is forever a California girl! I love being outside, especially being near (or in!) the water, and take every chance I can to get out and play. I’ve tried my hand at quite a few different professions – reinvention is one of my favorite things! I love experimenting with all different kinds of art mediums and am outrageously jealous of the abilities of good illustrators, but am trying to practice more. I’m a digital and visual tinkerer, I can easily spend a day playing around on my computer editing designs, figuring out some little trick in a program, or moving 2 pieces of paper around to determine how they’re going to look best together.

Laughter is my own best medicine and I love making other people laugh. I’m a movie buff (new and old), a habitual Bette Davis quoter, and armchair singer/dancer during musicals. I’m an extroverted introvert, so love being with people, but need my alone time and privacy on the regular. Revealing anything about myself on social media still feels very, “ohhhh gaaahhhhd”- it’s been a challenge, but I’m slloooowly wading in…!

Oh creative Lady barley and birch
I find inspiration…
Anywhere and everywhere. All the classics: nature, art, books, working with kids. Those are the big ones. Some *extremely* specific things I’ve found inspiration in lately, just for fun: The podcast Making Oprah (and *actual* early ’90’s Oprah) Jim Henson, the Christmas cards of Hilma Berglund (google them!) the artwork I made when I was little, the designs and illustrations of Olle Eksel.

I’ve been really into learning more about creating art materials from nature this year, and I’ve found amazing inspiration in the IG feed of The Toronto Ink Company – the colors, the textures, the layers – don’t even get me started. I also subscribed to some monthly newspapers and zines from small independent presses this year – one called the Smudge has become the highlight of my mail and is absolutely jam-packed with things I pull ideas from.

Another hobby (or…maybe more accurately a hobby I like to daydream about) is film-making and animation. You’re either a Wes Anderson fan or you’re not, and I AM. There are so many scrumptious details in Anderson’s style, aesthetic and process that have given me ideas for kid-related projects or concepts. Instagram is also just an endless fountain of inspiration for me – everyday I find a new person to follow or see something that I HAVE to save.

I am excited about … So many things! In addition to my art work and planning some new things for barley & birch, I’m also teaching some very small family creativity workshops. This is my first time teaching kids, and I’m still slightly terrified before every class, but as soon as we start working on something that melts away, and we’re all just making something together. That’s exciting to me.

I’m also thrilled about the new people I’m meeting through barley & birch! For anyone who works from home, I think the lack of physically-present work peers can be a challenge in that it sometimes feels lonely and isolating. Every time I make a connection through b&b’s social medias I have the sense that I’ve gained another “coworker” and I find myself buoyed by the community (so many of you!) almost every day.

Oh creative Lady barley and birchWhen I’m in a creative slump, I… On a good day, I take my dog for a walk or bike around for awhile. We tend to walk the same routes, and I’ve resisted succumbing to the boredom of it by becoming a stellar observationist. Doing anything over and over and over again is a great way to learn to appreciate the smallest of things! I think it’s also helped my brain to stay on its toes, observe everything, appreciate sensory changes and practice the ability of seeing one thing in a variety of ways. It’s also just refreshing to walk away for a bit!

Of course, those are the good days – on a bad day I pound coffee and lose myself online, or just give up and stream Mad Men for hours at a time.
For what it’s worth, I think days like that have their place too.

I’m really proud of… To say I’m a commitment-phobe is probably an understatement, so when I stay committed to anything for more than 2 hours I am more proud of it than I deserve to be. I have worked really hard to stay committed to barley & birch, finding helpful purpose in what I do and using my imagination every day. All three require the others to function successfully as a whole – that’s been a magic combination for me, so I’m MOST proud I never gave up on finding it.

Someone once told me… One of my favorite books as a kid was Miss Rumphius – if you haven’t read it, the main character is advised to “go to faraway places, live by the sea and do something to make the world more beautiful,” and that’s hands-down some of the best advice I’ve ever heard.

Another important one for me was being told to “sit down and do the work”. As a lifelong serial procrastinator, I’ve spent quite a bit of my adulthood working at “doing the work”. More good advice: listen and observe as often as you do anything else.

My grandma would say we should all lay out in the sun more, and to be completely honest, I think that’s rock-solid wisdom!

My advice to you is … Come at life with as much informed optimism as you can. It’s under-valued, under-appreciated and often the hardest choice. People have a tendency to write it off as silliness, naiveté, or even willing-ignorance, but the truth is that it’s hard work that’s totally worth it and always ten times more productive.

Oh Creative Lady barley and birch

You can find me at …

barley & birch

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Or just say hi! Send me your hellos at amanda@barleyandbirch.com