How We Fill Our Home With Art {Part One}

This post is sponsored by Art.com. Love your space more. This is the first of two posts on how I fill my space with art.

I love having art in my home. How about you?

Milestone pieces by my children, brilliant bursts of creativity from my artsy friends, and carefully selected pieces by inspiring artists energize me as I move through my day.

My home is filled a mix of my family’s art, art by my friends, and purchased pieces, but I do have the personal challenge of fitting all the things I love into our small cottage. To keep our space light, I try to limit what I show, group small pieces together, and only display what I love. I’m attracted to work that’s upcycled, illustrative, graffiti-covered, and kid-made. Where does your art come from? And what inspires your choices?

When I choose pieces for my walls, I try to answer two questions:  Do I love it? How does it balance or effect the room? If I answer “yes” to the first question, then I look around the house for the best place to display it.

I don’t show the “background” of my home here very often, and look forward to taking you on a little tour of my art-filled spaces. Today I’ll start with some of living areas. If you like what you see, be sure to come back tomorrow for more.

First, the kids’ art area. This table has moved around the house numerous times, but I really like it in its current spot. There are two kid-made pieces above the table: a watercolor painting by my older daughter and the first drawing made by my younger daughter. The frames are from IKEA — high quality and very easy to use.

rex ray collage in my home

Next to the kids’ art table is my newest piece, a print of a Rex Ray collage, Agua Fresca, from Art.com. Art.com has an amazing collection of traditional and contemporary art, and I was thrilled to discover that they have multiple choices by Rex Ray, one of my favorite local artists.

I usually prefer owning original works of art because I like to see the brush strokes and rawness of real art, but Rex Ray is waaaaaay out of my budget and this print enables me to bring a favorite artist into my home. It also looks great and Art.com did an amazing job framing it and shipping it without a scratch. I chose the frame to compliment the previous two, and they tie together beautifully.

Below the Rex Ray is one of our recycled textile trees by San Francisco artist, Suzanne Husky. I own three of them (how could I stop at one?), and I’m inspired by their resourcefulness and whimsy. Click on this installation of Suzanne’s these trees at the de Young Museum.

graffiti painting san jose artists

Across from the art table is this grafitti-inspired mixed media painting is by my friends Gwen and Joey ReyesI worked with Gwen at the San Jose Museum of Art, and her work reminds me of Los Angeles, my childhood home.

My girls make a lot of art in preschool, and the school smartly sells these useful frames that have a slot in the back that can hold up to ten paintings. I like the raw wood, but I’m thinking about painting the frames white or staining them. What do you think?

rex ray print

Across from the preschool frames are these two pieces: I made the collage on top and beneath it is a Rex Ray stretched canvas print, Acapulco One, from Art.com. (I love this mid-century chair, but it’s desperate for new upholstery — any suggestions?).

That’s it for today. Come back tomorrow for a peek into my bedroom: How We Fill Our Home With Art {Part Two}

What’s on the walls of your home? Do you have trouble picking pieces or does it come naturally to you?

This post is sponsored by Art.com, but all opinions are my own.

Kiwi Crate Summer of Giving {St. Jude}

This post is for all the parents who struggle to set up enriching hands-on projects for their kids, grandparents on the search for a unique gift for their grandkids, and anyone who wants to donate hands-on fun to children with pediatric diseases.

 

For one week only, Tinkerlab is teaming up with the hands-on project company, Kiwi Crate, and eleven kid-friendly blogs to give you the opportunity to sign up for a Kiwi Crate subscription while also helping a child in need. For every crate subscription purchased through my link this week (June 16 – 22, 2012), Kiwi Crate will donate a crate to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. 

How awesome is that?

Why St. Jude? St. Jude is a non-profit that puts saving the lives of children at its core. With our support, St. Jude can provide families with everything they need to get them through hard times as their children face the unthinkable. One of the most amazing things about St. Jude is that they freely share the research and learning in their hospitals to help save the lives of children around the world.

Summer of Giving

This summer, Kiwi Crate is committed to giving back to the community by reaching out to children who might not normally have access to fun and enriching crafts and activities. So they reached out to me and a few of their favorite bloggers and charities to launch the Summer of Giving.

During this program, for each new subscription ordered, Kiwi Crate will donate one crate full of arts, crafts, and science activities to St. Jude.

Kiwi Crate is a suscription service that delivers a beautifully packaged thematic crate of hands-on projects to your home each month.  In each box are 2-3 carefully designed and kid-tested projects, which cover a range of developmental areas and subjects, including art, science, and imaginative play.  All the materials and inspiration to encourage creativity and curiosity are included – you just supply the kid!

The materials are high quality, the learning packets are painstakingly assembled, and every review I’ve read about Kiwi Crate (including my own) has been outstanding.

Our goal is to donate 100 crates to St. Judes. Will you help us? If you’ve ever wanted to try out Kiwi Crate, now is a great time to give it a spin. YOU get a crate and a child who’s facing a terrible illness gets a crate too. Win – Win.

To learn more about the Summer of Giving or to donate a crate, please connect to Kiwi Crate here. You can also make a donation to St. Jude with the Donation Code: STJUDE

Kid-friendly blogs that are participating in this week’s Summer of Giving:

Creative Family Fun  .  Edventures With Kids  .  Famiglia and Seoul   .  Glittering Muffins  .  Make Do and Friend  .  Mama Smiles  .  Plain Vanilla Mom  .  Playdough to Plato  .  The Golden Gleam  .  The Good Long Road  .  Tinkerlab  .  Train Up a Child

Note: I’ve been an advisor to Kiwi Crate since May 2011, but I have not been compensated for this post. 

 

We Are Art {Art.com Has a New Look}

I’m excited to share that I have a brand new partnership with the popular art-shopping- hub-o-the-web, Art.com.

we are art

Art.com *just* launched a radically new website designed to offer easy access to the world’s largest selection of handpicked art images.  If you’ve ever been to the site before, definitely pay it another visit — it’s a whole new experience. Very cool, lovely eye candy, and easy to use.

Isn’t this cute? You can find it, and other preschool-related happiness, in the preschool category on their site.

This new Art.com is filled with original content featuring art and design inspiration, curated collections by designers and tastemakers, social and sharing features and great new tools to help people find the art they love so they can love their space more.

What kind of art do you like? We all have different tastes in art, and mine leans toward whimsy, irreverence, and abstraction. 

The old Art.com site was a great spot to find the traditional art (still is!), so I was delighted to find some quirky surprises like this knee-high wearing deer.  Isn’t he funny?

I started a public gallery on the site called Happy Go Lightly where you can see more of my whimsical curated picks, including those I’m featuring here .

I was invited to choose one piece of art from the collection for my home, and the decision was so hard. Our house is tiny and most of our walls are already full of art, but there’s one spot in our dining area that is begging for something fresh. When I found a whole series of mixed media collage prints by San Francisco artist, Rex Ray, I knew I had to choose one for this spot.

I first fell in love with Ray’s work at Michael Martin Gallery in San Francisco and have since seen it all over town at The Slanted Door restaurant in the Ferry Building, Rosewood Hotel in Menlo Park, and Gallery 16. What attracts me to Ray’s work is his use of layered paint, textures, and color.

The room is currently swimming in blues and greens, and I think this will bring it all together.

All this talk about hanging art reminds me that I have a Pinterest board called “I Heart Art.” If your taste aligns at all with mine, you’ll probably dig some of my selections over there too. Art.com put this great video together that you’ll want to watch.

What kind of art do you love? Is there a spot in your home that’s begging for a piece of art? Where is it?

 

Camp Sunny Patch Honor Counselor

Hey friends…Guess what? I’ve been asked to partner with the well-loved toy company, Melissa & Doug, as an Honor Counselor during their virtual summer camp, Camp Sunny Patch. How fun! I’m a fan of M&D and I get to put my camp counselor skills to work (no surprise that I was once a camp counselor, is there?).

Does Melissa and Doug play as big role in your home as it does in mine? In our little corner of the world, we love Melissa & Doug for their wooden play food, numerous wooden puzzlesWooden Take Along Tool Kitstamp sets, and sticker books. Soooo, I’m obviously delighted to have the chance to bring this super-duper company in front of you, my readers.

How Camp Sunny Patch Works…

At the beginning of each summer month (June, July, and August) Melissa & Doug will post a calendar of easy-to-implement activities that you can do in your own home or backyard. Here’s the June calendar that’s already underway. If you save corks or know someone who does, this week’s Camp Counselor Allie from No Time for Flashcards is leading us in a cuddly animal-cork craft. You can follow the complete Camp Sunny Patch Guide here.

To participate in any of the activities, you can easily download and print the month’s calendar and your child can earn badges for completing each project. The projects range from crafts to high energy play, they don’t require a lot of materials, and they aren’t difficult to implement. You can download weekly play activities, camp badges, and more at blog.melissaanddoug.com.  It’s summer camp, but without all the extra costs and it’s right in your own home or backyard.

If you’re a fan of Melissa and Doug products and you don’t want to miss out on the latest M&D news, you can also sign up for their newsletter.

Keep your eyes open for some summer camp fun from me in the next few weeks.

Note: Tinkerlab is compensated for participating in the Camp Sunny Patch program. All ideas and opinions in this post are my own. Thanks for understanding that this helps keep this blog running!

How Climbing Trees Builds Creative Thinking

Have you ever climbed a tree? Do your kids like climbing trees?

This has never been high on my list, even back in the nursery school days, but my 3 year old N has climbing in her soul and will climb just about anything: rock climbing walls, trees, jungle gyms, furniture, fences, etc. She seems to gravitate especially to trees that offer a challenging climb, and I like it because it gets us out into the fresh air and builds strong minds and bodies.

I love good ol’ fashioned play like this, and thought we could all use a visual reminder of how important free-range outdoor play is for kids.

outdoor play kids

The spirit of play is at the heart of imagination, creativity, and innovation. In playful environments, we’re prone to divergent thinking (generating numerous ideas about a topic) and are more inclined to push the limits of what’s possible into the impossible.

Climbing trees may not seem like highly cognitive work, but let’s take a look at what might be involved…

tree climbing kids

First of all, you have to map your idea (a will to climb a tree) with your reality (how will you climb that tree?). And then you have to send signals from your mind to your body to problem solve the execution. Our neighbor’s poor flowers were pelted by too many little climbers who have deemed this the most climbable neighborhood tree, so you might also have to navigate around the mini-flower-shielding fence that’s now in your way.

You might have to make room for a friend, which can build emotional intelligence and help develop spatial reasoning.

You might not yet be ready to climb a tree, but you’re building your confidence by climbing things that are within the zone of proximal development. Go you!

tree climbing kid

And when you reach that branch that always eluded you, the feeling of pride is beyond belief. You’ve accomplished something that only you could accomplish. You’ve tested your strength and your limits, and proven to yourself that you can achieve what you set your mind to.

I always watch my children closely and offer a lot of support when they first take on new physical challenges, but since my goal is to empower them I will step back once I get the cue that they’re comfortable without my assistance. I was talking with a friend today about free-range parenting (maybe you’ve heard of this movement?) and I follow this parenting philosophy to a great extent. I’m very involved in my childrens’ lives and everyday experiences, offer them a great deal of compassion and emotional support, but I’m raising them to be confident, independent thinkers who can make decisions for themselves without a lot of supervision.


I’ve partnered withGoGo squeeZ, the first squeezable, re-sealable, no-mess, 100% fruit, no-sugar added apple­sauce based snack for kids in the U.S, as a Playbassador, which means that I have more reasons to share fun outdoor activities that celebrate play and creativity. All opinions in this post are my own.

GoGo squeeZ believes in the simple mantra of “always play” and is putting this belief to work through the “Pass the Play” campaign with the goal of bringing the simple joy of play to those who need it most across the country.


Building Memory and Memories {Hallmark Giveaway}

Do you have any recordable books? If my children hadn’t received these as a gifts, I’m not sure I would have imagined that we would gain so much from them.

hallmark recordable books

When my older daughter, N, was one and half, her grandparents and uncle sent her recorded copy of The Night Before Christmas. They took turns recording the pages, mailed it off to us, and we all enjoy feeling a little bit closer to them when we hear their voices. They live far away on the other side of the country, and the clear sound of their voices helps us connect to them in between phone calls and visits.

Connecting with faraway family is a enough of a reason to get one of these books. What I didn’t anticipate was that N would learn to recite the entire poem, The Night Before Christmas, before her third birthday. This totally blew me away, and I’m sure it’s because she had control over listening to the passages of the poem at her own pace.

I’m not here to brag about my child’s brilliance — that’s not the point (although of course I think my kids are amazing!)– rather it’s one example of how the repetition of stories, poetry, and songs can get deep into a child’s soul, contribute to memory-building, and transform their imagination.

the night before christmasShe listened to this story over and over again, apparently soaking it all up and paying attention to Clement Clarke Moore’s complex and rich language and eventually repeated it back to the book, and then to my husband and me:

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,

When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,

So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,

With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.

So when Hallmark asked if I’d like to review a couple of their recordable books, how could I say no?

love you forever

I got the chance to record my voice on the books they sent while my kids sat on my lap (not recommended unless you like the ambiant sound of your kids asking you questions and making chirping noises), and my girls now enjoy opening them up to hear me tell a story.

And this brings me to a sort of cautionary tale. I was picking up twinkly lights in the holiday aisle of our drug store last winter when I saw a woman looking at a display of recordable books. Our eyes connected and I couldn’t help but share how much my kids have gained from these books. She agreed with me and then explained that her father just passed away and she wished she had asked him to record a copy a book for her kids just a couple weeks back. How could she have known?

Not one to end on a sad note, if you click on this page you’ll see a full list of all the Hallmark Recordable books. I don’t see any holiday books there, but perhaps they’re seasonal and we’ll see them again soon.

If you’d like to enter for a chance to win your very own recordable book, Hallmark has given me two books to give away. To enter for a chance to win one, please leave a comment with the name of the book you would most like to own and why, and I’ll select a winner through Random.org. Contest is open to US residents and closes on Sunday, May 13 at 9 pm PST.

I’m in no way affiliated with Hallmark; I’m just a happy customer who looks for opportunities to share the things I love with my readers.