A diary of the projects, hurdles, rewards and family life at we recorded at Wise Acres, our former homestead in Horsefly, BC. (Careers and teenagers have forced us back into the city, at least for a little while.)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Our Creative Family

Due to a combination of some rainy weather and being inspired by this book...

our house has been a whirlwind of creativity just lately. The book is written by Amanda Blake Soule...who also writes an excellent blog called SouleMama. She posts the most beautiful photos and I find her posts about crafting and general parenting to be joyful and inspiring. The book is really a collection of gems from her blog, with a lot of how-to's for various activities thrown in.

In particular, she makes a few points that really resonate with me:

1) "Less is more" - in so many things but specifically, she is talking about the toys, activities, crafts etc that we do with kids. I couldn't agree more...although my kids have often lobbied for the toys that make a lot of noise and do all kinds of things...the things that they have got the most from ( and usually last the longest) are toys that require them to use their imagination e.g. a cardboard box, our old clothes, scarves, wooden blocks, fabric, wool, toilet paper rolls, etc, etc.

2) "Investing in a little together creative time reallys pays off" - I have found that nothing draws kids (usually away from the TV) more quickly than Mom sitting down at the table with a pile of art supplies. She makes the point in her book that when children are 'filled up' in terms of their needs for parent-to-child time, they are more likely to go off and be content doing their own thing. I have found just recently that we have been spending our mornings doing craft projects together and by the afternoon, the kids are off doing their own thing, leaving me time to work on my socks...

or make bread or get dinner going or write a blog post.

I liked this too:
"I began to notice that when I was able to fit a bit of creating into my day, I was more centered, at peace, and fulfilled. All those things made me a calmer, more patient, and more mindful parent. My needs were getting met and I was therefore able to meet the needs of my children even better." I discovered the same thing, when I picked up knitting a few years ago.

3) Keep good quality art supplies within reach for when inspiration strikes - I have recently done a reorganization of our art supplies and have put our essentials ( e.g. beeswax, beeswax crayons, pencils, pencil crayons, paper, scissors, glue and a mixture of pipecleaners/straws etc) in kid friendly containers out on shelves.

I have also put out some baskets for handwork projects we have on the go - right now these are some finger knitting, a few embroidery hoops and some hand knitting. All these items are getting much more use than when they were contained in the cabinets behind closed doors.

A word about quality - Amanda makes a point that children should use good quality art supplies and I have to agree. We have gone through more crayola crayons than I dare to imagine over the years, but last year I bought G. some quality art supplies, beeswax block and stick crayons, some beeswax pencil crayons and some nice watercolour paints and paper.

These crayons have never broken, the pencils sharpen perfectly and the paper just displays their work so beautifully. The kids also know that these are special supplies and to treat them that way.

So with all of that on my mind and the Horsefly Fall Fair coming up...this is what we have been up to...

These are drawings the girls will be entering in the fair...

"A Merry-Go-Round and a Choo Choo Train" by M. Age 2

"The Purple Train Ride" by V. Age 5

"Carnival World" by G. Age 8

G. is also working to complete this little knitted chicken she started a while ago...

We have all just started to learn embroidering, from a Klutz book we got as a gift. It's quite a nice activity because it has a varying level of complexity, i.e. V. can do a basic design,

and G. , who really likes sewing, can also do a more complex design or create one herself, as she did here...

and here...

One of the challenges of having three children of varying ages, is finding something that they can all participate in, that fits their various abilities. M. has been wanting to get in on some of the needlework that has been going on around here and I found the perfect activity for her in The Creative Family...homemade sewing cards...we made these today from colouring sheets I found online...

Now M. can 'sew' to her heart's delight. It also fits with her current interest in anything related to farm animals, her favourite being the 'moo cow'.

Painting is also a hit with everyone. We collected these rocks from the Horsefly River a few weeks ago and when there was a break in the clouds, we headed outside to paint them...

I found a great recipe for play dough...which is another craft that seems multi-generational...

it's made with drink crystals and it looks and smells great!! Here's the recipe...

Smelly Play Dough

1 up flour
1/2 cup salt
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 cup water
1 tbsp cooking oil
Unsweetened drink mix )three flavours for three different colors)

Combine flour, salt, and cream of tartar in saucepan. Stir in water and cooling oil. heat, stirrin, until very thick and hard to stir (The mixture will resemble mashed potatoes). Remove from heat. Let cool 5 minutes.

Turn out on a lightly floured surface. Divide in 3 equal parts. Add 1 tspn. unsweetened drink mix to each part. Knead until pliable and an even color. Wrap in plastic wrap to keep fresh.
From "Jazzy Jars - Glorious Gift Ideas" by Marie Browning

And finally...there's nothing better than crafting in your pajamas...

Do something creative...today!


  1. I love G's purple heart embroidery, it's so pretty. What a nice job she has done. I've been wanting to learn how to embroider too. Will you be making the felt crowns from that book?

  2. What a great post! Yes, I've noticed that when I get the craft stuff out on the dining room table, the kids take notice and spend hours creating. Glad to see there was some knitting in there.

  3. I have nominated you for the Brillante blog award. Please see my blog.