1. What were you doing before you became a SAHM and how has the transition been?
I have been working for years in the advertising and marketing industry and was Director of Strategic Planning for an office of McCann Erickson. When I had my first daughter I cut back to part time and inched back the hours again after the birth of my second daughter, until I finally decided after the birth of my third daughter, to stay home full time. The transition hasn't been too difficult. It was frustrating to be unable to contribute at work the way I had when I was working full time-I went from being on the executive team to working exclusively with one client, and while that was still rewarding in many ways, I felt I was sacrificing too much at home. It has been a relief to be able to focus on raising my children-it's such an amazing, important job and ultimately I think more rewarding. I probably am able to appreciate it more because I had worked for so many years-children came later than I would have planned.
2. How did you get started blogging?
I was aware of blogging as way to keep in touch with far flung family and friends, but it wasn't until a friend of mine started showing me design and craft blogs that I became inspired to try it myself. I loved the idea of participating in that community of creative women and being my own "publisher." I love being able to design the look as well as do the writing on the blog--I have always loved combing the two but the opportunities to do so are infrequent. Once I got started I was hooked. My blog is really a creative journal of the things I make. I am a list-maker and it provides a very satisfying way of marking a project completed!
3. How would you describe your design style and what inspires it?
Oh, I don't know! I haven't thought much about that-I would love to hear how someone else describes it. When I started painting again my sister, also a painter, would see my work and say, "that color palette is so you!" I think much of one's style is innate: it didn't matter what I experimented with in painting-subject, or color style, or whatever-the paintings still looked like mine! My home is contemporary with an emphasis on natural materials: dark woods, concrete, angora, glass tiles, cork, etc. The living spaces are pretty open and flow together. When it came to my girls' rooms I ended up going a bit more traditional. I thought I could get away with that because they are tucked away upstairs, and it was fun! They each have their own personality. Whether decorating or creating clothing nothing is more inspirational to me than textiles. Fabric stores of all kinds get me so excited! But of course now that I have three little girls they are truly my muses. It is so fun to create things for them. There aren't many things I enjoy more than dressing them in something I've made. While I like some of the more boutique looks for girls-lots of ruffles and bright prints-I've found that I prefer simpler lines on my girls (vintage patterns are a great resource!) and I tend to gravitate towards a narrower color palette, or even a monochromatic outfit. The skirt and sweater I just made for Audrey (http://www.aestheticnest.com/2011/02/sewing-couture-skirt-tutorial.html) is a good example of something I've made and thought, "that's it."
4. Where did you learn to do such beautiful sewing, knitting and crochet work?
My mother taught me to sew. She made all my dresses until I started making them as a teenager. She also taught me to knit, but she didn't have as much experience with that and I didn't really do it until I was in my early thirties and took a class. I learned to crochet as an adult too-about ten years ago. It was very interesting to try to learn that sort of skill at that point in time. It's not often that we, I at least, take on a completely new challenge like that. I think it must be good for the brain! I was thinking about the fact that my mother sewed and created in all sort of ways, and both my grandmothers sewed as well as knitted and crocheted. I feel in some ways that it's an inheritance.
5. You and one of your three sisters gave birth to baby girls on the same day in the same hospital, a happy event so unusual that the local news media brought in TV cameras. Has it been fun for the girls to have a "twin" cousin?
Very fun! It was so nice to go through the experience of pregnancy and childbirth with a sister. In fact all three of us were pregnant at the same time-I was having my first, and though they are younger, my sisters were having their second and third babies. The twin cousins have celebrated their birthdays together every year, they were in the same preschool class, and now they are best friends. I hope it stays this way!
6. In addition to the adorable birthday parties, we love the Golden Books baby shower you helped throw, and your fabulous fiesta forty party. Can you share some of your favorite tips for making a party special?
I think of parties as experiences I'm trying to create for my guests, and of course the guest of honor. It's an excuse to pull out the stops and do something a bit out of the ordinary. I like thinking about all the dimensions of the experience, starting with the invitation, which really sets the tone, so I prefer mailing something tactile rather than using electronic invitations. A clear color palette can help make a party visually impactful: I like to think about vignettes in the space-creating multiple areas of visual interest to engage the guests and keep them moving around. Fabrics can bring a lot to this, or a creative use of paper, such as the pervasive tissue pom-poms. Then of course guests need good things to eat and ideally something to take home to extend the experience. It can be simple or it can be elaborate but for me the key is to make it well curated. For the Golden Books baby shower it was so much fun to go through the things my sister and I had and pick those that perfectly suited the color palette and vintage theme.
7. Years after your parents sold your childhood home, you and your husband were lucky enough to buy it back from the interim owners. How have you updated and made your family home your own?
While the bones are the same, we have literally redone every surface in this home. It's funny, because my parents did the same thing when they purchased this home. I love that homes can retain history and still be transformed.
8. What has been your most satisfying renovation project?
Probably my first home. I bought it while single and it had only one previous owner. It was a cute little bungalow but needed a complete overhaul. I think there were thirteen layers of wallpaper in the living room. Because I didn't have to negotiate with anyone else I dove in! New roof, new porch, new wood windows, new landscaping, new plaster on the walls, great modern kitchen and bath with tile from floor to ceiling! I went way overboard, so while it was satisfying it wasn't the best investment!
9. With three little girls at home, when do you find the time for your creative projects and the Aesthetic Nest?
At night. I think we all make the time for things that are important to us, but it's always a trade-off. There are lots of things I'm not doing right now, for instance I'd love to play tennis, I don't read like I used to... Sometimes I find a free hour during naptime but usually I get started after the girls are in bed and the kitchen is cleaned up. It's usually nine o'clock. I certainly have more ideas than time. I wish I didn't need sleep!
10. What kinds of crafty projects do your girls enjoy doing with you?
Coloring is a default. The whole family colors together during Monday "family nights." I have set up my daughter Audrey's easel next to mine and we have painted together during the other girls' naptime-that was really fun and needs to be a more regular thing. We enjoy cooking together. It's pretty great to be in the kitchen with Audrey and Scarlett on stools helping me pour in ingredients. The girls like to play with yarn when I'm knitting or Audrey will pin together fabrics while I'm sewing. I can't wait to teach them all to sew and knit and crochet!
11. We see that you've transitioned your 4-year old daughter's room into a "big girl" room. What recommendations do you have for decorating a nursery so that it artfully ages into an older child's bedroom?
Don't be shy! My nurseries started with finding good fabrics in the colors I had in mind. They are prints I won't tire of too soon. The color palettes were not really "baby" to begin with. I had black, white and red in mind for Audrey's room but ended up using gold, turquoise, red and a bit of black. Scarlett's is a bit more girly but the fabrics will work well for her as a big girl too. When you find a good fabric buy it in quantity! Who knows if you will find it again. I lucked out and found the fabric I used on Audrey's crib bumper and skirt when I was ready to do her bed. When I got to Scarlett's and Tess's rooms I bought enough fabric for beds right from the start!
12. What unexpected pleasures has blogging brought you?
It has been so great to connect with other women who share my interests. It's amazing to make these connections across the globe-I get glimpses into so many different creative lives. I suppose I could do that whether or not I blogged myself but it is richer if it goes both ways. One surprise has been that I think blogging has compensated a bit for the loss of my mother four years ago. Of course nothing can really compensate, but she was my biggest cheerleader and was equally enthusiastic about a great fabric, or dress pattern, or child's room. I miss that so much so it has been nice to find others who can celebrate some of those things with me.
13. You have always been a talented writer, artist and über-crafter. We are all very fortunate that you've found blogging as a way of sharing your creativity. Is there anything else you hope to do?
You make it sound better than it is! Thanks. I am just so happy to be able to make some time for creativity. It's worth it to me to make the time and I hope I'll be able to continue through the phases of my daughters' lives. I want to paint more seriously. I'd love to author a book sometime. I'd also love to design children's clothing-either as sewing patterns or a produced line. Not sure which of those might be possible but it's fun to think about!
Image Source: Aesthetic Nest
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