Although Mother's Day has come and gone, I'm celebrating crafty mamas all month with the Month of Mamas series (moms should be celebrated everyday, right?). This week our crafty mama is Vanessa Rough from Silly Eagle Books. Vanessa is a stay-at-home mama of two girls Juliet (4) and Lucia (7 months). Vanessa is one of my favorite bloggers not only because of her awesome crafty ideas, but she also has a love for children's books (we're big book-lovers in our house)! She regularly posts about her favorite kid's books (they check out 30 books a week!), along with book-inspired crafts, and even birthday parties. If you're ever looking for a book to read with your own little ones (or a perfect book for a birthday gift), Vanessa is the mama to turn to. And she also has some practical tips on how to build your home library on a budget.
It's hard to remember exactly when I came across Vanessa's blog, but one of the first projects I fell in love with was her bottle cap spiders last Halloween. Right now she's working on a flower of the month project, and I'm loving her tissue paper tulips from last month. Here's my interview with Vanessa:
What came first for you, craftiness or mamahood? How have they impacted each other?
Craftiness came first. I've always enjoyed making things with my hands. As a child, I always loved art class the best. I wouldn't say I am particularly artistic, but I do truly enjoy making things. I remember buying a big bag of wooden beads on summer break from college one year and made all my brothers and all their friends cool, manly necklaces. They thought it was great. I just enjoyed having a project to work on.
When I became a mother, I quit my job to stay home with my daughter. I guess all the time on my hands was just naturally filled with craft activities and projects. Once she was old enough to join me, we started doing projects together. It's fun for both of us.
Most of the crafts on your blog are inspired by the books you read with your girls—how do you think up such creative ideas?
I have to give credit to the beautiful books we read. Mostly, I don't think of the ideas at all--I just copy something I see in a book. For example, there's this book called Witches Four that I had as a child. In it is an image of "frog-eyed soap." I was always fascinated with that and one day I just decided to hot glue some googly eyes on a bar of soap to recreate it. My daughter loved it.
Other times, I am just inspired by an image or a particularly fun detail of a story. I don't really know where the ideas come from, I just think of them and try to make them happen. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't, but it's always fun to try.
What does a typical weekday look like for you?
Our days revolve around mealtimes and nap times. We wake up, eat breakfast, play a little, then it's usually time for the baby to take a nap. During that time, we will watch some TV/check the blog/ play outside/ do a craft/ read a book, etc. It really just depends on what we feel like. I do try to do something hands-on (craft/art-related) a few times a week, but not every day. When the weather is nice, we like to go outside as much as possible. After lunch, it is more of the same until bedtime. We are at home a lot, so we do have a lot of time for reading and crafting and running around in the yard looking for caterpillars. It's a simple life, but I like it that way.
What are your biggest challenges as a crafty mama?
Space! I don't have a "craft room", so there is no place to store half-finished projects. I do all my projects on our kitchen table, which obviously is needed for meal times 3 times a day. Also, I have no place to store the supplies, so they reside in the pantry with all our food. It's pretty crowded in there. There are usually two or three projects drying, waiting, or just hanging out on the kitchen counters--it drives my husband crazy.
How do you “find the balance” between blogging, crafting, and spending time with your family?
It's hard. Sometimes I find myself working on the blog too much. I used to have a lot more time when I only had one kid. Now that there are two to take care of, I find my free time has shrunk drastically. But it's just a part of the season of life I'm in. I know that one day, I'll have all the time in the world and I'll probably miss these days when my kids were young.
What advice would you give to other crafty mamas out there who would like to be more crafty with their kids?
Just go for it! You don't need much and the final outcome is not as important as the process--the fun--of making something together. You don't need a bunch of fancy supplies, either. Just some old magazines, glue, scissors, paint, items from your recycle box, etc, and the world is yours. You can make anything out of that stuff. I find so many great ideas on other people's blogs. Just hunt around and when you see something that looks fun, give it a try! Don't compare yourself to other people that you may think are "craftier" than you. Just be yourself and have fun--your kids will love it.
How do you see your crafty projects changing as your girls get older?
I think I'll have more time to work on projects for myself--maybe they'll be less interested or perhaps even more interested, I'm not sure. I don't want to force them to make things--I just want to do it as long as it is fun for them. Maybe they won't be "crafty" people and that's okay. Right now, my oldest daughter's favorite craft activity is peeling glue off her hands, so who knows?
What are you working on now?