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Glittering Shards

Glittering Shards: December 2009

Glittering Shards

Thursday, December 31, 2009


Resolution is a funny old word, so overused and then berated at this time of year.

I like the word intention. In my mind it conjures up a concentration of energy that causes inner and outer movement. It is the opposite of 'stuckness' (not to be confused with stability, stillness, 'in-between-ness') a miserable, confining state.

I am pondering what to do intentionally in 2010: what I will set my mind to; where I will concentrate my energy, my resolve, my will, my head space, my heart space, my days, my 20 minute chunks of time which make up my days.

I want to get that beautiful balance between living intentionally and yet being flexible enough to respond to what life throws up which I have no control over - fresh currents of opportunity and those rocky obstacles. Yes, that is the difference between intent and stuckness - it feels like a river not a swamp.

Here's to 2010 - children and family loving, home-making, rhythm setting, mosaic-creating, creativity-igniting, crafting, community-celebrating, writing, contemplating, drawing, making, photographing, beautifying, growing, discovering, dreaming, believing. 

Thank you to all of you who have become friends and watchers here in 2009 and for those who have left comments and given me so much encouragement in person too. Thank you for joining me on my journey.

Buon Anno!


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The story so far...

How has your Christmas week been so far?

Ours has been a mix of the beautiful and the exhausting.

Beautiful:  parties, people, food, gifts, mystery, contemplation, carols, cups of tea with friends, gatherings, singing, dancing, being together, hugs, kisses, hand-holding, snuggling under fleecy blankets, candlelight, watching great films and funny programmes, talking about the future.

Exhausting: tidying, clearing, picking stuff up, cleaning, tantrums, tiredness, things out of place, things without a place, stuff, noise, break of rhythm.

Oh, its good to see that the beautiful list is longer than the exhausting one!

Yesterday was my birthday and it was filled with lovely moments. A walk on a frosty Tooting Common to feed the ducks on a blue sky day with my family (can anyone tell me the name of the big birds in the tree I snapped?),

An hour in the Champagne Bar at Harvey Nichols with my beloved  (those bubbles have magic in them, they do!)

Being sung Happy Birthday to by my kiddies, with candles on the cake they made with their dada (an artists palette and paintbrush, Isabella's idea). Good good friends round in the evening, sharing food and wine and their favourite tracks. Love it.

Now, dreaming of the freshness of the new year, plotting and planning my intentions...

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Thursday, December 24, 2009

New Entertainment Company send special message on Christmas Eve!

Toby and Isabella Entertainment Inc. are sending this special Christmas message to bring you some Christmas cheer and jollity - click below!

May all that is good about the Christmas season visit your household!

Peace and love from our family to you and yours.


Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Nativity Week 4!

Last week it was the shepherds and sheep. This week saw the arrival of wise men, cattle-a-lowing, sheep-a-baaing and angels, lots of them. They sing "Hallelujah" to the Leonard Cohen / X-factor tune in our house because Toby and Isabella love that song.

Here are the latest pics of the Nativity. The star path is nearly gone and the sky is full of stars, which means its nearly Christmas day!

Tonight, we launched into Christmas with our neighbours and friends party. Each year there are new additons - new neighbours, new friends (and neighbours who have become friends) but also new little ones. At one point we counted 18 children (not including babes in arms) and around 40 adults in our home - all at the same time! Oh my. It was fun - tiring, fun and oh so worth it for all the wonderful connections and community that is created and strengthened by being together with food and wine. Its truly the stuff that makes life good.

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Thursday, December 17, 2009

All I want for Christmas...

This year, more than any I can remember, I am just sooooo excited about having two weeks with my lovely husband at home and all of us together, no work, no school. Just being together. I guess the first three Christmases of us being parents have been blurred by deep-boned tiredness and at last, that fog has lifted and we have two gorgeous little ones who are just so fun to be with.

I discovered last week, thanks to Kirsti's Homemade Christmas, that you can bake salt dough in the microwave (about 4 mins for several small decorations) so we got stuck in and made pretty things for the tree, including initials for each of our names.

This year has been the first time that the children have helped decorate the tree which was...interesting as far as Christmas tree decorating experiences go! They were so enthusiastic that I just had to let them get on and do what they were doing - particularly amusing when Toby hung 7 baubles on the same little branch (strategically re-distributed later!). Isabella looked like she had discovered treasure when I opened the box with all the Christmas decorations in and promptly set to decorating the house according to her own unique style. I cannot bring myself to touch her blu-tak bauble arrangement on the walls!

I loved this post on Simple Kids. It just about sums up how I'm feeling about Christmas this year.

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Saturday, December 12, 2009

Awe and gratitude of an immense kind

Four years, almost exactly to the day, this picture was taken by my friend Salli. I asked Salli to do this photo shoot because I wanted to cherish forever, in my heart, mind and pictures, the utter amazing-ness of having another human come to life, grow and be carried inside me. I am still in awe, four years on. I cannot get over the fact that she is. That she is here. That she is here with us. I am full of gratitude for the gift of this precious girl, my firstborn.

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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Children's Art Gallery

For over 3 years I have been adding the kids artwork to the dining room wall - from the first scribble and brushstrokes to handprints, the numerous collages and more recently, their gorgeous representations of people and animals. The trouble is that I was running out of wall space and it was looking messy, with corners peeling off the walls as the blue tack lost its stickiness.

The inspiration for the gallery came from a mixture of Ikea (those cheap frames again!), Mister Maker ("Lets frame it!") and Amanda Soule's book, the Creative Family (see sidebar) where she talks about doing an annual exhibition of her children's artwork. I want so much to honour my children's creativity. Framing their work was a way of conveying this and I think the resulting gallery is gorgeous.

I used a staple gun to connect a series of pictures with some rustic string. I like the flow that is created by hanging the columns of pictures at varying heights and the fact that you don't have to put lots of nails in the wall. There are more pictures waiting in the wings (I ran out of frames!) and it will be easy to add more to the bottom of each column of pictures.

My intention is to have an exhibition, as suggested in Amanda's book, and allow the children to give some of their artwork to friends and family. Sweet!

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Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Mosaic presents for kids to make

This year I have been focusing on finding mosaic actvities for very young children to do - for fun and to learn some of the basics of mosaics (you are never too young...!). I have tagged them all under "pre-schoolers", "children" and "craft" if you want to search the blog archive and the first 3 are part of a series so its worth reading them in order.

Here is another activity we have just tried which works well and makes a lovely gift. As with the one posted last week, I tried this with my nearly 4 year old and at the second Christmas fair where older children and several teenagers got well into the activity (making mosaics is just soooo engrossing!).

Mosaic Picture Frame

You will need:

*Mosaic tiles - you don't need expensive ones, just ones from B&Q / tile shops - ask for sample sheets
*Glass gems - available in pound shops and Ikea as well as craft suppliers
*Picture frame - yup, those good 'ole Ikea ones come in handy!
*White glue

1. Stick tiles to frame. Make sure you use a nice blob rather than spread the glue too thinly, but not so much that it squeezes between the tiles.

2. It's worth testing out the spacing of the tiles before sticking them so that you allow the gap between each one to be even. If you want, you can also paint the frame beforehand so that the colour between the gaps adds to the final look.

3. Stick the gems to the tiles - as many or as few as you want. White glue dries clear so don't worry if a little seeps out.

4. Add photo ready for gift to granny / grandad / auntie / best friend!

Have fun!

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Sunday, December 06, 2009

Nativity Week Two

It's been a good but tiring week as have been battling a chest infection. I had my second attempt at doing the Christmas Art Fairs on Friday. Looking back on these two experiences, I am still mulling over if  'Fairs' is one of the places where I will  put my work out to the world. From a selling point of view, they were not very satisfying. However, evaluating from a criteria of getting great feedback on my work, meeting people and promoting what I do they were both worth the effort. I was a bit glum after Friday evening, but I have since reflected that this year has always been about me exploring what I want to do and where I want to place myself. All these experiences are like little pilots to see what I like, what works and where I want to go with my creativity. It is such a vastly different world to social / training work in terms of how you engage your efforts with the wider world...I think it will take me a while to find my feet and my 'modus operandi'.

Anyway, to more simple stuff...! We have been doing "Mary's Walk" every evening before bedtime and tonight we added more to our nativity scene. Enter Joseph, some trees, moss and pine cones. The kids are loving this simple ritual (and so am I!). It is so easy to connect with it - the path getting shorter, the sky more twinkly, the act of moving the figures and then sticking the stars in the sky is so engaging for little ones.  Neil and I did have fits of uncontrollable giggles however, as we tried to sing the song (from the book where the idea came from). Neither of us can sight read music and the result was...interesting! So, now we just make it up every night - the kids don't seem to mind!

I did another mosaic activity at the Christmas Fair on Friday and this was really popular. I will post it this week as its a good one for making Christmas presents!

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Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Children's Christmas Mosaics

Here's a simple children's activity for making some pretty decorations with a mosaic theme. I did this activity at an art and craft fair at the weekend and found that children from 3 upwards really enjoyed it and got absorbed in it. More mosaic activities for kids to make as presents coming up next week too!

You need:

- Foam glitter sheets (if you can't get these, buy some ordinary foam, cover with glue then glitter and allow to dry). The foam gives it depth so it looks more like a mosaic but you could always use glitter paper too.
- glue
- card
- scissors

1. Cut the foam glitter sheets into small pieces - a variety of triangles, 5 sided and square shapes is good

2. Draw an outline of a Christmas symbol onto card. We did stars and candles but any simple design will be good (holly, Christmas pud, snowflakes...). If you are doing this with a group, you can photocopy to save time.

3. Stick pieces of glitter foam onto the shape (our glitter foam had a sticky back but a glue stick will do the job). If the children are old enough, they can use scissors to cut shapes to fit tricky spots.

4. Two important tips to help make it look like a mosaic: firstly, line up the edge of each piece with the edge of the picture so that you create a defined line around the shape. Secondly, leave a small gap between pieces.

5. When you have filled the whole space, allow to dry then cut round the outline of the shape and hang!

You can make the effect of the mosaic even better by using black card so that the black background shows through the gaps and doing both sides if you want it to twirl round.

Have fun!

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