Annie authors the 2010 Canadian Weblog Awards winner Imagination In Parenting, which placed 3rd in Crafting.
Why blogging? Why did you start blogging, and what drives you now?
I started blogging when my children were just about to turn two. When I started, it was mostly to document my efforts to be more creative myself. The Waldorf philosophy is one that I was really starting to learn about at this point in our journey as parents and I could really identify with the need to be creative as a person/parent in order to be able to give more of myself to our children. I wanted to document my efforts in making my days about slightly more than survival. I was in survival mode a long time after our twins were born. Now, I am quite driven in documenting our everyday lives. I want to remember when they started sewing by hand. I want to remember the first time they dyed a skein of wool. I want to remember their work in our garden, or in family gardens. I want to remember the big and small moments — moments that are shaping their lives. I want to be able to look back on this documentation when they're adults and see how it made them who they are.
I am a professional photographer (currently not working), and at the time I was also blogging professionally about my art. I wanted an outlet that was more personal.
Frankly, I am impressed with all that you manage to do between knitting, baking, being a mother to TWO four-year-olds while nearing the birth of your third child, blogging about all of the aforementioned at Imagination In Parenting, and generously doing an interview with us. How do you manage all of your creative pursuits? Do you keep to a schedule, or do you let things unfold organically?
Thank you. Crafting or cooking with the kids just happens. It's rarely planned, though I like to keep ideas ready, especially for when my daughter begs to do something different. I spend almost all my time with my children and I honestly do not know how else I would entertain them. We either craft together or along side each other daily. My knitting is always on the go (multiple projects at a time usually) ready to be picked up while the children work on a project of their own or play.
I am often asked where I find the time to craft with the kids or for the kids or even cook the way I do. When I'm knitting or sewing, it's either with the children around or my nightly unwinding time. When I'm cooking, it's very rare the children are not involved in some way. I want them to learn that these activities are not meant to be done in seclusion. Cooking WITH my family is a whole lot more rewarding than simply cooking for them. Children learn by imitation and I could not imagine not allowing them to imitate in any which way they chose to. It's not always easy having extra hands trying to chop up veggies while running late with dinner, but it's important. I try to remind myself of that when it gets more difficult.
Being an artist and having grown up sewing, crafting, and cooking probably makes it easier. It's normal for me to create with my hands and to share that with my children. It's who I am and what we do.
How does blogging affect your creativity?
I would say that blogging affects my documenting of our days more than my creativity. I pick up my camera to document our projects more in order to blog about something. Feedback is fabulous — and being led to amazing blogs via my comments can really trigger new ideas. That part is an amazing part of blogging.
Where do you find ideas for your content? If you are feeling less than inspired, where do you look for inspiration?
My content is inspired by daily life. I've usually got more ideas than time to document them. We craft a lot more than I share. I sew more than I share. I knit more than I share. When I started my blog I wondered if I'd ever have enough content and since then have had to realize that sometimes, I simply do not have time or energy to share it all and that's ok. Limiting my computer time can be incredibly inspiring at times and I've been working hard on being ok with not sharing 'everything'.
When I'm looking for inspiration, most often, I would say I look in the kitchen. I've come to realize that food, and where it comes from, is one of my greatest source of inspiration. I feel like I can right a wrong mood if I take the time to cook something wonderful or new. Most often, that will reset my all around inspirations.
Another source of inspiration is being in the forest. Deep enough to only hear and smell the forest. If all else fails, a sheet of negatives from a toy camera is sure to do the trick. Reading blogs or my numerous crafting books (many written by bloggers) can help as well, though oftentimes if I'm struggling with inspiration I find myself spending hours searching for something to make or do while being frustrated that I am not actually "doing".
This never happens in the kitchen, I never search for hours. I pick a thought and run with it — I look for a new recipe in cookbooks or online or pick from my every growing 'must try list' and go. With sewing or knitting or any other crafts, I tend to way over think the use of my materials and that can stump the creative process. With food, I never ever over think. I am only limited by what is or is not in my kitchen at that very moment. That is inspiring.
Are you open about being a blogger? How do people offline react to your online writing?
I've shared my blog with a few friends & family — though it took me a long time to do so. I write for ME. My blog is rosy — it's the good stuff. I write to remember the happy moments. It took me a while to share because I didn't want to be accused of portraying a life that isn't fully honest... It's honest, I honestly only share the good stuff and do so on purpose. I started sharing my blog when I was duplicating effort of sharing crafts or other things the children had done via email with family as well as on the blog. I didn't have time to duplicate my sharing efforts!
Which weblogs are your current favourites? Which weblogs have been most influential in the shaping of your own blogging?
SouleMama is a huge inspiration to me. I started reading her blog after I read her first book, The Creative Family. Reading her book was a changing point in my home. Toys were reorganized and crafting supplies made available daily. My children were still quite small at the time — and I was coming out of the fog of two tiny toddlers, but it somehow showed me what I needed to see at the very right time.
Other than that, some of my favorite blogs are written by moms sharing daily adventures with their families. The ones that blog, like me, for themselves. To name a few: Slugs on the Refrigerator, A Small Tribe, A Crunchy Life, and M comme Maman.
What advice do you have for new bloggers?
To blog honestly. The blogs I love to read are those that I can feel the writer is honest. And if you're busy and are doing this for yourself only, my biggest piece of advice would be to see where it takes you and not feel like you have to blog everyday if it doesn't work for you... the content suffers then and it becomes a chore.