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a serious monkey-toaster (the preferred term for multi-tasker)

The Lion and the Unicorn

April 9, 2014


Unicorn waiting for her glitter to be added

Let me tell you something about myself.

Maybe some of you know this already, but part of my mind is permanently stuck at five years old. I vividly remember being this age – like it was yesterday. I remember my emotions and opinions, I remember what mattered to me the most then, and what upset me the most. I remember being five in technicolor with surround sound, and this is why I do what I do. I based my life and business around kids, because I like and understand them. I am the kind of adult who gets seriously excited about a game of hide and seek followed by a bike ride.

A while back I had an impromptu brainstorm …with representatives from my target market. Every business mogul out there spouts advice about really knowing your target market, and getting feedback from them, so I did just that.

Armed with cookies and a lot of wipes, I asked my son, daughter and their buddies what they wanted to see on my shirts this spring/summer  - “unicorns, definitely unicorns - maybe with sparkles” said the seven year old girls, ” flowers” said the five year old girls, “Rooaaaar!” said my three year old son. ” I don’t like shirts” said his friend. My eyes lit up. A sign had been sent to me from my past …


The lion and the unicorn
Were fighting for the crown
The lion beat the unicorn
All around the town.
Some gave them white bread,
And some gave them brown;
Some gave them plum cake
and drummed them out of town                                                                                                                                                                                                
That was a  British nursery rhyme that I used to love as a child – ahhhhhhhhhh sweet serendipity.
I’ll post pictures of the finished shirts when they are done.

Form-filler’s Lament

February 25, 2014



I am many things: Art-maker, Story-teller, Cart-pusher, Butt-wiper, Pen-stealer, Tea-lover, Tantrum-soother, List-writer, Number-cruncher, Library-loiterer, Pot-scrubber, Cookie-monster, Lesson-planner, and Head-honcho, to name just a few.

If it is labels you are after, then I could go on and on. Some labels are more desirable than others; Story-telling and Library-loitering are two of my happiest activities. However, over the past week  I have been stuck with a most undesirable label…


On my sliding scale of great to terrible labels, Form-filler falls just below Butt-wiper (but slightly above Tantrum-soother). I do not like forms, I do not enjoy poking around looking for lost details about my life and work, and I am incapable of remembering dates and numbers.

Well actually that last part is not completely true. I am actually really good at remembering dates and numbers, just not ones that are actually useful when filling out a form. For example, I know when the Locarno treaty was signed after the Great War (October 1925), and I know that the Munich Putsch happened in 1923, I know that Nirvana released Nevermind in 1991, and I can still remember my British National Insurance number, but I can’t remember my Social Security Number…. ever.

I’m just not a Form-filler.
Nonetheless, January and February are form filling time, especially for me. February is when I apply to take part in all those lovely Craft fairs that happen in Summer and Fall. Somewhat perversely, it is also the time when I start enrollment for my Spring and Summer camps, and send other people forms to fill out (Noctiluna forms are mercifully short, and do not include questions such as “Why do you think, you would be a valuable member of this camp?“).

As you can imagine, Form-filling uses up a lot of valuable Art-making time, so I have no images of fresh artwork to show you today. However, this morning the forms will be done (well, almost) and I am planning to get started on designing new shirts. I look forward to posting pictures next time!

Elementary, my dear…

February 6, 2014


Lesson on Line

Unfortunately, today’s blog will not be about my favorite TV series, Sherlock, or the splendid Mr Cumberbatch, I just like a good play on words.

I have mentioned before that I am a trained middle and high school teacher. Teaching middle and high school Art is something I adore doing. I especially revel in the glorious messiness that is middle school teaching (believe it or not, it is a rare thing to like, you know?). In turn, the job of teaching middle school  has somewhat affected my level of maturity (my family would know!).
I thought I had found my place; middle school and I, we are a match made in heaven, and when I started my business, I thought I would specialize in middle and high school Art…

…but life has a funny way of making you push that reset button over and over again!

Being the parent of a 2nd grader means that you know more parents of elementary school kids, than any other demographic. So, it follows naturally that, I have a lot of students from lower elementary grades. Back to the books for me then.

It has been an enlightening experience, and one that I am really enjoying. There is much more to elementary school Art than meets the eye. I teach a little drawing class on Wednesdays, that has been a learning experience for me as well as my students, and we all know that the best kind of teaching involves learning!

Also, there are clear advantages to teaching this age group:

1. I know them. Do not underestimate the advantages of being the parent of a 2nd grader, when it comes to teaching their peers.

2. They have great imaginations. It takes much less needling to make them to break loose with their ideas.

3. They love magic. Yep, dragons, unicorns, castles, huge ice-cream sundaes, what’s not to like?

4. My 3 year old looks up to them. They are not too big to intimidate him, and he often toddles into the room, grabs a pencils and makes a drawing alongside them. Not something he would ordinarily do. Bliss.

The Silver Lining in the Snow

January 28, 2014


Yes. This is really how crazy things can get.

I apologize for the snow days.

Yes, it was in fact my fault, and I won’t do it again.

About two weeks ago, I strutted online and proudly announced that I was back on track and ready to get into my work routine again, thus tempting those pesky gods of fate to dump large amounts of the white stuff onto us.  I’m officially apologizing to all of you (that is, if there is more than one of you out there reading this!). I’m sorry.

About those snow days -

I found myself, as I do quite often nowadays, surrounded by children. ‘No problem there’ I hear you say, after all I often choose to be in that very same situation for weeks on end as part of my job. However, this time I was quite unprepared for the onslaught. I had mentally readied myself for a week of organization – planning out camps, researching and writing curriculum, getting a couple of design projects off the ground – it was all very promising until…. “Mommmmmmmyyyyy! There’s no schooool todaaay!”

An interesting few days followed, where my younger child decided to break his own record for spilling things in strange places and not telling me, and the seven year old kept asking “what should we do next?” over and over again, until her friends turned up and then they did EVERYTHING over and over again (don’t ask me to elaborate).

We built a fort, made Valentines day decorations, and whenever their backs were turned, I actually managed to work on a few old neglected canvases! Something I would never have done otherwise. The pictorial evidence is below:

The kids are back at school now, so I wonder when the canvases will actually get finished. I’ve learnt my lesson about making those kinds of promises publicly, but I do want to say:  Ha! Pesky gods of fate. Ha!

2014 – The First Blog

January 15, 2014



I wanted to call this blog “I’m Back Baby!”, but then settled on a less bragging, more sedate title. Well let’s be honest, I have made that claim more than once over the past year, and have had to eat my words within a month.

I do actually try to be steady work-wise. I would like my business, and my blog, to charge ahead full steam, like the Hogwarts Express, no stops until the end of the line. However, in reality, it is more comparable to a little canoe paddling along gently through a quiet stream, every now and then caught up in a rush of waves, sometimes coming briefly to a full stop in the shallows.

It is very telling that I write the first blog of this year on the 15th January, instead of the 1st. After two weeks of snow days, sick kids, and a bout of single parenting, this is in fact my first ‘working’ day of the year (pour that champagne, Jeeves!), and what have I done so far, I hear you ask?

Well, I’m glad you asked. I have accepted the fact that working from home, part time, with two kids makes for unpredictable outcomes, and realize that I will be steering a canoe for another year. However, I have planned out the year in my own way, and here is what you will be hearing about from me over the coming months…


I have already started planning out Spring break and Summer Art camps (I can almost hear the screams of children, and smell their discarded lunches :)). I’m also starting a bit of Art tutoring in the evenings starting tonight  (I will be teaching mark making, drawing skills, and general silliness to a kindergartner.)


I have been researching the coolest fairs and markets in this part of the universe, and will be signing up for Spring and the Holiday season. I’m planning to go back to my textile design roots and stretch myself beyond my usual handmade wares…but more on that later.


This one I’m going to need a lot of poking and prodding on. I really want to self publish a book this year. I’m almost there, the book is pretty much done, I just need to fine tune it – anyone interested in being a proof reader?


I’m determined to stay motivated. In an ideal world, I would have a Mr Miyagi style mentor and a padded cell, but in reality  it’s just me and my poor,straying mind. So I have surrounded myself with reminders, and motivating images, and have actually started using my icalendar (groan). Let’s see how that works out for me.

Have a fantastic 2014. Let’s hope for a beautiful, productive year!

Sewing Machines, Sparkly Bibs, and a New Fair

November 13, 2013


Tuxedo bibs :)

Oh dear, my blog has fallen onto hard times. Sorry for the long silence…again.

I have been quietly industrious for the past few months. Most of it has been child related; some, I’m happy to note, Noctiluna related.

I’m slowly starting to carve a routine of sorts out of  the buttery chaos that is my current life. Most recently, I taught myself to actually use a sewing machine, and can now sew labels onto clothes without tears (no mean feat, considering the fact that I was the only child in my school craft club who would routinely sew her work to her skirt, and have to be unpicked by a teacher every week!).

Armed with this new, and powerful skill, I have produced a few dressy bibs and onesies for the holiday season. They are appropriately sparkly, and  I am going to take them to my first holiday fair this weekend along with a suitcase of other goodies. I haven’t taken many photos of finished work, but once I do, I’ll post them here!

It is only my second time taking part in the Etz Hayim expo. It is a pretty small, neighborhood holiday fair, but some really good craftspeople take part in it. Last year, my favorite stalls were Arlington Sock Rescue - which made the cutest stuffed animals out of neglected and abandoned socks, and an amazing ceramicist, whose name I regrettably can’t remember, who made beautiful, Japan-inspired objects. And of course, they have a little bake sale: which is a major draw for my kids.

Here’s the link:

Summer photos

October 23, 2013


Photo Jul 26, 10 59 36 AM

I realized, after banging on about the Noctiluna summer camps so much, that I never posted any pictures of the camps.

Here is a slideshow of the madness, and the great work it spawned…


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Learning to Slow Down

October 9, 2013




One of the big reasons that I write this blog is to clear my head of all the fluffy nonsense in it, and keep focused on the stuff I need to focus on (rather than ‘100 cutest winter coats‘, and that episode of ‘Lost’ that I watched last night).

When I don’t blog for a long period of time, one of two reasons are to blame. I’ve listed them below.

1 – I’m ridiculously busy, and barely have time to eat, let alone blog.

2 – I’ve slunk into a confused mess, and have no idea what I’m doing.

Funnily enough, this time both reasons are true.

After a truly productive summer which yielded my “bestest summer camps ever” (quoted by an enthusiastic 2nd grader covered in paint), and a spate of successful outdoor fairs, the school year began and my routine was turned on it’s side.

Last year, when the kids went off to school I worked in a frenzy until they got home. This year my 3 year old has been placed in a short morning program, followed by speech therapy sessions that I escort him to. My work hours have been dramatically cut down to 2.5 a day, and I have spent a month in what can only be described as shock.

It has taken me a while to adapt to my new lifestyle. This morning I dropped my son off at school and headed to the library to write this post, as a way to think clearly and move forward. Here is what I’m going to do (well of course a list is necessary!)…

  • Make the most of my time with my son, and enjoy his adorable company.
  • Take a deep breath and accept that it is going to be a slow year for Noctiluna.
  • Understand that this is temporary, and stop being so dramatic.
  • Pick and choose my projects carefully.

So, I will be doing a little online teaching with, and two winter fairs. I may run an after school art class, and in the winter months, I’ll focus on that book I’ve been talking about for years.

Aaaaaaaaaaah. I feel better already. Thanks!

My partner in crime

My partner in crime

Preschool Genius

August 7, 2013


“Children are human beings to whom respect is due, superior to us by reason of their innocence and of the greater possibilities of their future.” – Maria Montessori


Over the past few weeks I have been running summer camps for 1st and 2nd graders; I love working with these children, and they constantly surprise and amaze me with their talents and abilities. Furthermore, my eldest child is enrolled in these camps, and I have the added pleasure of keeping her with me every day. Pretty amazing deal, huh? But what about my three year old son? Finding any quality childcare for him has proven difficult for me so far.

Well, that is until Ewelina turned up, and revolutionized our household. She is a close friend and freshly squeezed Montessori teacher with whom I had arranged a trade – I had her girls in my camp, while she spent two weeks taking care of Bun.

This was always meant to be a mutually beneficial arrangement, but even so, I am astounded with how much it has benefited my son, and myself. I am trained to teach older children, and come armed with an bag full of strategies to keep them engaged and on task, but when it comes to toddlers and preschoolers I have no superpowers. I, like any other parent, am basically winging it.

For two weeks Ewelina gave Bun her undivided attention, and got to know him really well, and I saw him develop in amazing ways. He seemed so happy with her, she observed him closely and listened to him carefully.  She recognized the magic in his universe – mundane everyday items would be turned  into amazing tools for sensory learning  (Bun would sit happily pushing pieces of spaghetti into the holes in an old herb bottle – an ingenious way to develop his fine motor skills). In fact, she left me full of ideas of how to set up a stimulating Montessori environment at home. When this camp is over, THIS will be my next big project.

Ewelina is not here this week, but I think of her approach towards learning all the time. I went to the grocery store today and came back with a small colander, bubble mixture, a salt shaker, and a packet of toothpicks for Bun.
She is opening her new preschool, Jollyplace, in January. If I were you, I’d go stand in line for a place. See you there!

A Summer Discovery

July 10, 2013


Photo Jul 07, 9 22 44 AM

I have just spent a relaxing weekend by the sea, comfortably ignoring all of my tasks and deadlines, and focusing on just swimming, eating, playing with the kids, and wandering around. While ambling along thus, I happened to stumble upon a beautiful little shop – The Main Street Shop and Coffeehouse – in Chincoteague VA.
The owner has an amazing eye for well made crafts, and bits and bobs, and really good taste in baked goods. The shop has a lovely, bright and cheery atmosphere, the perfect place to have an afternoon snack and get inspired.

Dare I send her pictures of my work??


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