Saturday, May 30, 2015

Working Less, Living More - Our Lazy Summer

I recently made the following post on my Facebook account: "I've been pretty mum about this because it's so exciting, but for the first time in five years, I will not be working in summer!!!! Whoop whoop! That doesn't mean I won't be busy however; two university courses and about a dozen projects - one is testing this Ylva Li sweater pattern by Saga Hein, which I'm very stoked about!"

And here is the beautiful sweater...
A friend made the following comment: "2 University courses and a dozen projects, being a Mom, knitting plus the normal day to day necessities is a "lazy summer?" I had to laugh! I suppose it sounds busier than I imagined because normally I do most of those things along with working a full 40-50 hour workweek. And I'm not complaining, not at all. This is normal life for us, and it's a good one because I've found a balance between it all. However, it is somewhat both thrilling and intimidating to have a full summer off. While the freedom will be amazing, I'm accustomed to additional income during the summer months, so choosing not to work will be a bit of a sacrifice...but it's time to enjoy a summer just for us. 

Summer is the only time I can indulge in a dream I never accomplished, which is being a full-time mom and homemaker. Yeah, it doesn't sound very feminist, but I've grown to see that when it is a choice made with the best interests of the family at heart, it can be a beautiful thing. The distraction of work can be tremendous to a parent. The first five summers of my son's life, I totally indulged in being home with him for those months. They were sacred; I wouldn't have dreamed of working. By the fifth summer, however, I was feeling the financial pinches of raising a child solo. I began teaching summer camps because I could take my son along with me. The extra money helped, we were able to travel and do many fun things...but the summers would slip away, caught up in a stream of balancing fun with work, feeling like regular weeks.

I don't regret any of it. We traveled abroad, had amazing experiences, and I was able to take my son along with me to job sites. As this summer rolls around, however, I'm wildly excited by the prospect of the one thing money can't buy - time. Precious, amazing time to simply live. Be. To devote myself to my family and home. The older I get, the more interested I become in simple living. When talking with a co-worker earlier this week on this subject, I expressed it as 'learning to live on less so that I can work less and live more.' It's a process I've been doing for quite some time, and this summer is the first real experience in exercising that philosophy.

And this philosophy will be the gist of my summer blog postings. I recently ordered the book The Spiritual Tasks of the Homemaker by Manfred Schimdt-Brabant and am waiting anxiously on it's arrival. Learning to see the day-to-day as a spiritual, zen-like experience of being alive in this world is, I believe, a first step off the rat race that has us believing we always need to be doing, seeing, experiencing and accomplishing more

I'm excited to see how our lazy summer unfolds; thanks for joining us for the ride!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

A Migraine Day, Natural Dyes and Tasha Tuesday

First coffee of the day at 3pm usually means one thing - I'm recovering from a migraine headache.

Migraines make for such wasted days, or so it can seem at times. I don't get them so often in the last decade as I did before I had my son, but when I do get them, it's brutal. I try everything in my holistic cabinet to curb them when I feel that hazy, odd sensation of one coming on. If nothing helps, however, I call out the big guns of modern medicine. Migraine is one of the very few things I take modern medicine for, and I think that is okay. I believe holistic and modern medicines can co-exist for optimum health. 

Another thing that must co-exist, at least to me, for optimum health is creativity and nature. I'm a big fan of Audrey Eclectic's Tasha Tuesdays because let's face it, who doesn't love Tasha Tudor? Her art and life are so inspiring, especially the love of nature, simplicity, and being creative. With Tasha in mind, a few weekends ago I decided to try my hand at some natural dyeing experiments! Since Dandelions are one of the most prevalent flowers in my area (and full of healing goodness!) I decided to try these first. So Mother's Day morning, we took a long walk to gather dandelion blossoms, which I was so very glad to do after a few weeks of limited distance of walking due to surgery on my foot (all healed up now!)

 It was a beautiful morning to be out in nature, in a favorite nearby meadow. We came home with yellow-stained fingers and happy souls and began the process of boiling the blossoms. I was testing the dye on a white cotton tee I've had for some time and am quite fond of. It was soaking in a water and vinegar mix while the 'brew' readied on the stove.

After a bit, I strained out the blossoms and put the shirt in the liquid to soak overnight. The results? Not very impressive. My blinding white tee was now a dingy color; however, it did take the dye! I just needed about three times the amount of dandelion blossoms that I'd used to accomplish the soft, buttery color I was going for.

Because I couldn't toss a perfectly good, albeit old, tee for being dingy when I'd made it that way, I decided last weekend to save it with some black dye that I've had and never got around to using. Partner that with rubber bands and voila! A few other things went into the mix as well!

I was disappointed my experiment wasn't more successful, but at least I know the dandelion blossoms will work as dyes! It's going to be a lot of trial and error, but we'll have fun with it this summer. I follow some awesome gals on Instagram who are always inspiring me, and I've learned just this week that you can dye with avocado pits! And goodness knows, as much as I love avocados, there are enough pits around here! So soon I'll be visiting my LYS (Local Yarn Shop for all you non-knitters out there!) and picking up some natural homespun to experiment a little more with!

Nature + creativity...there's no end to where it can take you! There is so much wonder and magic and new fun things to always be trying out! I think Tasha would certainly agree!

"Life isn't long enough to do all you could accomplish. And what a privilege even to be alive. In spite of all the pollutions and horrors, how beautiful this world is. Supposing you only saw the stars once every year. Think what you would think. The wonder of it!” ― Tasha Tudor

Monday, May 18, 2015

The SimpleTruth About Shoes + Giveaway Winner

It's spring cleaning time here, which I actually enjoy a lot more than I should admit. I love homemaking, and find a zen-kind of joy in keeping our space tidy and pleasant. I especially love sorting and purging and making more space in our tiny little home.

Yesterday, while rummaging through a closet, I couldn't help but marvel over how many pairs of fancy shoes we had stashed away in closets, under beds, etc. I want to be a fancy shoe wearing family, I truly do. There is something about sleek shoes that pulls an entire outfit together. But here's the simple truth: these are the most used shoes in our home...

Yep. And I had to laugh when I took into account that they are always neatly in their place, because we're changing into them just about every day. When an occasion calls for fancy shoes, I'm often upstairs in the closet, reaching far back into to dark, trying to find the mate to a purple faux snake-skin pump that might have been worn twice, maybe three times, in the five years I've owned them, or clamoring to find the shiny silver summer sandals I bought deeply discounted last fall. However, Mucks and Crocs and the eternal Southern staple of footwear, flip flops, are always right where they were shed the night before.

It's funny, how we like to see ourselves, and how this can often conflict with the simple truth of who we are and what we actually enjoy. Today, I'll be donning a pair of the above shoes immediately after work, because the garden needs weeding and if the rain holds out again today, watering as well. It's no mystery to anyone who knows me how much I enjoy being outdoors, working the soil, making things grow, or joining my son for his favorite warm weather activity - wading in the nearby creek.

Not exactly opportunities for fancy footwear....and I'm perfectly alright with that.

I'll close this by congratulating Grace on winning the spring giveaway! Thanks to everyone who entered and commented on social media sites, shared the post, etc. I'll be needing your address for shipping, Grace!

Have a wonderful week everyone!


Monday, May 11, 2015

Spring Give-A-Way!!!

I spent this Mother's Day morning gathering dandelion blossoms and wildflower bouquets with my son in a nearby meadow while a pair of hawks circled overhead.

Pure bliss.

I'm using the dandelion blossoms for some experiments with natural dyes and the wildflower bouquets, well, we just love them. Spring was late arriving in the South this year but she has finally sprung and it's been a lovely season.We can feel the pending steady heat of summer in the air some days, but the cool mornings and evenings of spring are still holding fast.

In honor of spring, I am hosting another Give-A-Way! My Autumn Equinox Giveaway was such a fun success that I can't wait to see how this one goes! What's up for grabs? A signed 11x14 limited edition print of one of my most popular works, She Walks Two Worlds.

This is one a piece with a lot of history and personal meaning! It was featured on Susun Weed's Share the Talking Stick in 2011 and was the title piece in my 2012 solo show, She Walks Two Worlds: Exploration of Eco-Feminism. Winners will receive this print along with a few other goodies. It's easy to enter! Simply

  • Follow my blog by email
  • Share this post on Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media feeds
  • Follow Pan Pan Studios on Facebook, Twitter and/or Instagram (@PanPanStudios)
  • Comment below to let me know you've entered! Find this image and accompanying post on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and comment there also for extra chances to win!
I will choose a winner at random Sunday, May 17! That's a week to participate, so have fun! Remember shipping is free worldwide! 

I hope you are enjoying spring in your corner of the world as much as we are here! I've so much fun and exciting things to share with you in the coming weeks! 

Have a great week,

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Hyvää vappua! May Day Weekend Festivities and a new Giveaway!

As many of my readers know, I have a longtime love affair with Finland.

Here it is!

I don't know much about past lives, but whenever I see images of Finland - or Norway or Sweden - I feel a deep stirring, like my soul is remembering home. And for that reason, I borrow many Scandinavian traditions, especially on holidays like May Day and Midsummer, which really have no particular tradition here in the Southern US. This is okay to me, however, because the Finnish custom of making sima and munkki for May Day are wonderful and wonderfully easy to do...

...only I didn't get around to doing them this year. It's been a busy time, with work and freelancing and taking courses at University and of course, being the mom of an active boy! Our days are full with school, home life, lots of time exploring the woods and now, our large garden, which is fully planted for the summer growing season. So while sima and munkki sadly took a backseat, we did manage to celebrate May Day by gifting bouquets to others...

...enjoying doughnuts, the closest thing to munkki in these parts...

 ...dropping by our local spring festival...

...and lots of time exploring our beloved woods.

I have such a thing for mushrooms, I don't know why, but it's an interest shared by most of my Finnish friends, who harvest them wild and make all kinds of yummy things, including, odd as it sounds, a tea! This mushroom intrigued me so much, sticking up like a buried bone! But I digress... short, our May Day weekend was wonderful and amazing, and I want to celebrate that with a giveaway! My 2014 giveaway was a great success and I'm hoping you'll enjoy participating in this one just as much! Stay tuned for details on the giveaway as well as updates from our 6 week vegan challenge! We're beginning week two now, and I've never felt more energetic!

Wishing you a happy start to your week!