getting creative

I never considered myself as being a particularly creative person.  My sister is the artist in the family doing everything from making gorgeous handbags to painting and photography, able to make the most dull object look like a masterpiece through the lens of her camera.  I on the other hand have always been the plain, scientific one, focusing all my attention at school on biology, chemistry and physics.  I have, however, had a minor revolution in my life in the last few years of living in Estonia…

When I grew up in the UK, crochet, knitting and gardening were definitely relegated to the retired and elderly.  It may be that I have aged a little but I am definitely not in that department yet!  I am however, surrounded by incredibly down to earth and gifted people to whom knitting and gardening are life skills needed for getting through harsh winters.  Their skills are passed on to their children and grandchildren as a matter of course and are still taught in school.  I know plenty of young mums who crochet and knit with such skill that I have often been asked if their items are machine made as they are so consistent.

I never thought I would be party to this kind of activity but then two things happened,

1) I miraculously produced a daughter who is incredibly creative and loves working with her hands! When I first realised her skill I have to admit to being dismayed that I was simply not,  ‘that kind of mum’ and wouldn’t be able to help or inspire her.  She has been so desperate to learn…. so I have had to learn too!  We have both been learning to crochet side by side and have been experimenting with knitting looms and sewing machines. It has been quite fun learning how to recycle old t- shirts and jeans to make all sorts of useful accessories. The possibilities are endless! She was so delighted when for her ninth birthday she received her very own pink polka dot sewing machine and made her very own cath Kidston hand bag! (See the photo below)

2) secondly, during the sad time of my mum’s passing away I discovered that working with my hands and with yarn was incredibly therapeutic.  It uses a different part of your brain to that used for critical thought and it definitely worked for me, bringing a moment of soothing and calm during a stressful and sad time. Funnily enough my mum was an incredibley gifted and creative person, able to sew beautifully, knit, crochet, create beautiful flower arrangements as well as create a beautiful garden from nothing. It seems my daughter has inherited her skill.

Whether anyone is from a particularly creative family or not, I believe there is something inherently creative in every one of us. You might not think so, but maybe you haven’t found, ‘your thing’ and need to try something new, whether it be baking, gardening, painting, woodwork or writing a book…there are so many forms of creativity.

My sister and daughter have inherited their skills from various creative lines in our family tree but ultimately you can trace these things back to the very one who created us — in who’s image every one of us is made. As I am writing this, my son is absorbed together with his dad, in a nature programme displaying the most wonderful images of the natural world. The variety and imagination used in creating these is beyond our comprehension….From the majestic eagle soaring in the skies to the whales of the deepest parts of the ocean feeding on tiny krill. Man’s creativity and imagination can be impressive — but God’s is awesome! I look at a star lit sky and think how twinkly and tiny they are, only to find that they are hundreds and thousands of times bigger than our planet with incredible individual beauty….and then I look through the lens of a microscope to discover a world of beauty that I wouldn’t know existed with my naked eye….speechless.

We are creative because He is. It is the genetic blue print of our Father written into our being.

I am going to leave you with a beautiful video clip from the BBC. Oddly enough the man who narrates it, who’s voice we all know and love, has failed to see the signature of The Creator on every masterpiece, but I still think it is pretty neat
what a wonderful world…enjoy 🙂

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An Estonian Childhood

One of the most common questions I get asked by folks back in the UK is, “what’s it like bringing your kids up in Estonia?”. My answer is always a very positive one as I think there is a lot going for this country. We have three children, two boys and one girl aged, 10, 8 and 6. Our first born was ten months old when we moved here and the other two were born in the Viljandi hospital shown below,

20130414-081304.jpg It’s a rather austere, soviet looking building but actually a very happy and peaceful place to enter this world. Having been born here, our kids have never really known anything other than life in Estonia except for extended trips to the UK during the rather long three month school summer holidays. Belonging to two countries definitely adds a bit of extra flavour to their lives!
Neither my husband or myself are native estonian speakers, so we’ve had to, ‘learn on the job’ as it were, while our children have been thrown in at the deep end by entering the estonian kindergarten system at three years old and learning the language while playing along side their friends. There is no question about it, children take to language learning much more easily than adults. They are like little sponges who just absorb all the information; while us adults struggle to get our heads round grammar rules, they just use it! Not fair!
So two of our children have graduated from kindergarten and taken the huge leap of 40 meters across the road to the local school. Both buildings can be seen in this picture, the kindergarten being the large building at the back left and the school on the right where they stay until they are sixteen years old

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Not a very large existence to grow up in but a secure one. We live in a town where everybody, knows everybody and you still find unattended babies sleeping outside shops in their prams!

I like the estonian education system. Starting pre-school at 6 and real school at 7 makes much more sense to me, allowing younger kids to learn through play and just be ‘young’! The school day is short, allowing time for other activities like craft and music school which is really big in Estonia. And guess what, even with this low key approach, Estonia does really well in the international statistics for education! So a good system all round I say! And where else would our kids learn to cross country ski from seven years old…

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Having said that, five months of snow is way too much for anyone and the kids get fed up being cooped up for so long during the coldest months and long for spring and warmer weather. There are only so many snow men that one can be bothered to build…I rather liked this one, though not our own!

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But summer does come in the end and the long days and three month summer holiday lend themselves to happy family camping holidays in unspoilt nature, bike rides along quiet roads and time to swim in the lakes…..bliss!

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Soul Therapy

Everyone needs some soul therapy once in a while, a getaway, a source of pleasure in a world of demands and general busyness; whether it’s a walk through autumn leaves or crisp white snow or something more dramatic like sky diving!
So what does a mother of three lively children do between cooking meals, cleaning up mess, organising kids and youth events, having meetings in her home amongst a multitude of other things….Well, I have a place of solitude, a bit of ‘me time’ that I like to have once in a while when the opportunity presents itself. It takes place about fifteen minutes drive from my home in the lovely village of Olustvere, where in the grounds of an old Germanic manor house I find a few of my favourite things…

Number one…horses

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It might not do it for you, but for me, when I am around horses or ponies, something inside me says, “aaaaah, that’s better…!” I think it’s the memory of childhood, mucking around stables, and spending every spare moment on horse back. I have to say that I have tried to get back in the saddle, but having been out of it for so long I now find the experience too excruciating, so I just opt for their general presence! But there is more than horses at Olustvere, and in my bid for escape I have now opted for something less painful and more sedate, found here, in the sanctuary of the Olustvere pottery…

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It is here that I spend a pleasurable couple of hours with my friend Kaie, who is more than just your average potter, (see the photo below). She does the really good stuff, whereas I enjoy playing around with bits of clay hoping that something worthwhile comes out of it! There is something very earthy and therapeutic about the whole process, kneading, pounding, spinning and smoothing this substance into something useful. I find it fascinating when Kaie tells me that clay has a memory, and that no matter how much you smooth it and remake it, what you have done previously leaves and impression in the clay that affects the final outcome…amazing and thought provoking when you consider the similarities with our own lives. As for the glazes they seem to have some inexplicable rules of their own which always add a touch of surprise to the final item.

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As with all mums my ‘me time’ doesn’t often remain my own as I have a budding little artist in the family who, at the drop of a hat will accompany me to my destination. She has a natural aptitude for all things ‘crafty’ and I don’t think she does badly at all for a what was then seven year old…

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As for me, I am pleased to say that there have been a few successes ( and a few flops!) along the way, and I have managed to produce one or two useable items for our own home which I am very proud of! So the next time you buy something from our etsy shop you may find a little item in your package made by myself as a little thank you for stopping by. It isn’t much but I did enjoy making it for you which is the best bit.

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