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    Fermenting Magic

    Over a decade ago when I was pregnant with my first child, I discovered fermented foods in my neighborhood health food store. There’s no telling how much fermented salsa, kimchi, and sauerkraut I ate during that pregnancy! It was a far better choice then the pickled foods in grocery stores that are pasteurized and intentionally kill off the healthy micro-organisms that are present while also destroying vast amounts of valuable nutrients. But the health store prices made me hesitant to indulge as often as I’d like so I decided to learn to make it myself at home. Much like sewing, I’m convinced that fermenting is another skill one masters over years and years of practice, never to exhaust all the possibilities in one lifetime. Continue reading

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    It’s a Good Day to Have a Good Day

    If there’s something seemingly big keeping you from your joy, focus your attention on something small. There are little miracles everywhere in nature just waiting to distract us from our thoughts of ourselves and our worries. Every day may not be good but there is something good to be found in every day if only we decide to see it… Continue reading

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    Family Day at The Black Fort

    Less promoted than the islands main attraction Dun Aengus Fort, the Black Fort offers as much and more.  It’s less visited and one can easily wander off in any direction that catches their whimsy rather than having to stay on … Continue reading

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    From the Garden of My Mind

    Just as common sense doesn’t grow in everyone’s garden, neither are we all born with a green thumb when it comes to cultivating a vision for the future. To cultivate anything requires an attention to detail, knowledge of what is being nurtured, a bit of patience, and a smidgen of resilience (for when things don’t go as expected). .. Continue reading

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    Wreathed in Love & Wrapped with Care

    Wreaths are stand-alone decorations that are quite versatile.  They can be large or small, indoors or outside, ornate or modestly adorned, hung vertically or placed flat on a table top, and definitely not exclusive to holiday time. They need not even be … Continue reading

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    Autumn Wreath for the Birds

    This tutorial was picked up by HomeFarmer Magazine by way of twitter and printed in their online publication.

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    Pride of Place

    A wonderful place for children It is often said how fortunate an upbringing the children of the island have and I wholeheartedly agree with this sentiment.  I grew up in a small community, but there is something about island living that makes … Continue reading

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    Sandy Toes and Salty Kisses

    It’s the first week of July and despite having mild temperatures and sporadic sunshine here on Inis Mor, many visitors are filling the roads and exploring the island on foot, bicycle, pony & trap, or in guided bus tours. Summer homes are … Continue reading

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    Garden To Table: How To Make Orzo Salad With Aran Island’s Goat Cheese & Ground Dillisk Seaweed

      Quick and easy, filling and nutritious.  Loved by both children and grown-ups.  Such a great recipe I couldn’t help but share it, after all, this recipe is asked for everywhere I bring it. It is made extra special with … Continue reading

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    How Well Do You Know Your Sewing Machine?–Beginner Sewing Worksheet 1

    As I prepare to post Beginner Sewing Project 3, I realize there is something else that I incorporate with my classes–info worksheets.  Understanding sewing machines, tools, and terminology is important to become an independent sewist.  This first worksheet explains the very … Continue reading

Puss in Pants

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Greta makings use of the lower half of last year’s scarecrow. Have a fabulous Thursday everyone. 🙂

Create Without Limits

I think it’s understood by all who read this blog that there are six other creatives behind the scenes of The Aran Artisan that contribute in each their own means. If I had my way, everyone in our family would participate in the writing; they know they are more than welcome to. Johnny takes quite a few of the photographs and helps with the editing and I know he is happy with that role. I’ve encouraged the children to consider writing book reviews, poetry, or short stories but it just hasn’t been the right time for any of them to do so and that’s just fine with me. They certainly contribute plenty of material through their daily living for me to shape my writing around. My family is the heart and soul of this blog.

Yesterday my eldest child, Margaret Maeve, turned thirteen years old. I’ve mentioned her Instagram art account Create Without Limits before and several of you support, encourage, and follow her and for that I thank you. Her birthday seemed just the time to do something that we’ve talked about for a few months now, adding that account here on the blog. So that’s what I’ve done, here in the widget section on the right-hand side, you’ll find her most recent posts →January 2017 cardyestercolor.jpg

Above is a thank you card made using a drawing of hers. It’s drawn from a photograph and is the first grandchild of the cousin who sent the children their telescope at Christmas.  They each wrote a message of thanks and it’s been sent on its way to America. I’m both proud and happy to feature her here and hope the other children also eventually add their own personal touch to the pages of our blog.

Card’ is the photo word this week for the One a Week Photo Challenge hosted by Sandra and Cathy. Yes, I’m a day late with my entry. Again.

 

“We build deep and loving family relationships by doing simple things together.”  Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Believing Something Great Is Out There

Did everyone see the brilliant full moon last evening? All in my house went to bed while it hung directly out our east facing window and woke with it directly out the one facing west. This amazed my children. While we lie sleeping, the earth was revolving around the sun as the moon revolved around the earth; they know this fact. Yet, it was still an altogether beautiful discovery this morning.

They gazed at the morning moon through a telescope received for Christmas from cousins in America. A treasured new gadget for their curiosity toolbox. An extension of their eye and of their imagination that gives a view to endless possibilities. They can’t get enough of it. Outside, inside, upstairs and down. ‘Are there stars out tonight?’ Sadly most nights have been cloudy so they’re practising patience while anticipation is building. This is a good thing.

Yesterday we had a light brushing of snow. I honestly saw none remaining on the ground within fifteen minutes of it falling for it was washed away by the drizzle that immediately followed. Don’t you know, hours after the snowfall when my children returned home from school, it took them no time at all to pack a half dozen large ziplock bags full for storing in one of our chest freezers.

I asked them why they wanted to save it. Aside from it ‘being cool’ it was also ‘to help us remember’. The last time we had any significant snowfall on the island was seven years ago so most of my children have little or no memory of it. At their current ages, they’ll surely never forget this adventure. But lest they forget the emotion of that afternoon’s mudlarking (or should I say snowlarking), they’ve bags of frozen-fingered memories at the ready.

Earlier tonight, while clipping my son’s fingernails and listening to him explain how he was writing a new season to the Lego Ninjago cartoon series, I praised him saying ‘The skies the limit!’ His reply? ‘No, it’s not Mom. There is no limit.’ Well, he certainly set me straight didn’t he?!

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This photograph of a rainbow over our next door neighbour’s house was taken this afternoon from an upstairs window of my own home. I was thinking to frame it (sans quote) and gift it to them. What do you think of that idea?

An Island Anecdote & Traditional Irish Soda Bread Recipe

I couldn’t believe my good fortune one day many years ago when a born and raised islander came up to me in the Spar parking lot offering me milk kefir grains. I had been wanting them but didn’t want to buy them. Just like plants for the garden, they’re much more special when received from a loving space which they’ve outgrown rather than purchased from a shop.

Because fermenting cultures reproduce and eventually one has to either give them away, throw them out, compost, or feed to one pet or the other, I believed they’d eventually come to me fortuitously. So, this was my day and when she said ‘Someone told me you might like these’ (I had told no one I was seeking them), I squealed with delight and gratefully accepted. Never did I dream someone on the island had any or I certainly would have made my desire known. Anyhoo, my hobby of fermenting was no secret and now I had kefir grains so I immediately put them to use. Continue reading

Things Are Looking Up

This sign caught my eye whilst I was in Boston’s North Station waiting for the train to my beloved home state of Maine last November. It’s a very large train station and there were several of these signs on the ceiling above.

While I’m betting that there’s a logical reason for it, I can’t think of any plausible explanation. Spiderman dropping by? Unlikely. Perhaps Lionel Richie or Fred Astaire, after all, it say’s do not walk on ceiling’; there’s no danger in a little dancing. 😀

I’m joining in with my interpretation of ‘ceiling’ for the One a Week Photo Challenge hosted by Sandra and Cathy.

It’s Entirely Up To You

With five children under the age of 12, superheroes are alive and active in my home and there’s no shortage of doubtless belief in their own abilities to achieve anything.

This amazing self-confidence is not strictly limited to moments of accomplishing great feats through imaginary powers while engaging in battles that aren’t real. My children, for the most part, exude extraordinary happiness. They know how to make chores not seem like work at all but rather games or fun challenges.

I could observe them forever- admittedly sometimes from another room when I insist that they either quiet down or take it elsewhere- and I’m taken back to when I too was fearless, daring, mighty, incredibly trusting and curious about everything. I wouldn’t mind feeling that way again.

Of course, there’s a difference between an adult being childlike and being childish. Childlike behaviour is not immature while childish is. It can be a hard balance to maintain as an adult; to think of oneself first without seeming selfish, to live out loud without seeming a nutter, to speak your mind without coming across as rude, having no filter, or being over assertive. But it is entirely possible to be that person again, to live life not with the purpose of always being productive and living off a list, not being overly concerned about money and reputation, but rather to live without these mental limits and instead in the moment more often than not.

I write this with a huge sense of relief for having made an overdue decision after months of worrying how others would be affected, disregarding my own needs and gut instinct.

I have a loving and supportive husband. I have adorable and caring children. I have kind and understanding friends and family. But no one is going to take care of me better than me (my mantra all these months despite my paralysis). It is, was, and will always be entirely up to me.

So I let go of my fear (truth-I did it afraid), dusted off my imaginary cape, took a leap of faith, and have been soaring ever since. It’s not so surprising that I feel uplifted since I took back my power and used it responsibly to do what I knew was right. Although not a resolution, it was a most brilliant way to start off the new year and I feel super!

“Life doesn’t give us purpose. We give life purpose.” — The Flash

What makes you feel Superpowerful?

Creative Support For The Homeless

As mentioned in my last post, our family rented a table at this year’s Inis Mor Craft Fair where we sold our homemade crafts with the intention of donating all money raised to Galway Simon to show support for their work to end homelessness in our neighbouring mainland community. Here are some photos of our creations and the day itself. Continue reading

Expressly Ourselves From Creation to Donation

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I could count on one hand all the things I’ve ever created that have no purpose other than to just be. Because of this, I’ve felt less like an artist and more like a crafter, my thinking being that functional things were mostly created by crafters, and ‘things of beauty’ by artists. That thought probably says more about my urbanity than my ability as a maker, a direct reflection of my rural roots.

While admiring my star wreath and thinking how it was one of the few things I’ve made that has no practical function, the thought occurred to me that maybe functional objects that also communicate individual ideas are the very definition of arts & crafts/artist & crafter. As a well-paired couple, maybe it’s a case of them working hand in hand, not one or the other.

It’s not called ‘arts or crafts.’ Continue reading

The Wonderful Warmth of Winter

No more children sitting on their feet and no more cold bottoms because I finally made padded covers for the metal stools that surround the island in our kitchen. It seems noteworthy to tell you that we’ve nicknamed this seating area Inis Meáin, which translates tothe middle island’, and is the same name as our island neighbor here in the Aran Islands.

Most meals are eaten here in the kitchen. The dining room table is a hub for crafting, game playing, Lego and sorting clean laundry. As the chalkboard sign in the upper left corner so well documents, it was our 163rd monthiversary, ♥ 163 months married ♥, it was the 24th of November. Continue reading

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