Category Archives: Lifestyle & Leisure Blog

A Guide To Summer Fun At Art Festivals

SOWA FairSummer is officially here, and art festivals are in full swing. Rain or shine, close to home or away on vacation, art shows are a great way to spend quality time with friends and family. These fairs allow you to get outside into the fresh air, enjoy some light exercise, and support independent artists all at the same time. Art festivals can be hugely varied, and are usually kid and pet friendly, so they really provide something for everyone. Sometimes the shows will have live entertainment, such as street performers or musicians. Balloon animals and craft tables are often available for the kids. And after spending a few hours perusing the artists' booths, you might grab a bite to eat at a food vendor's stall or truck. You can easily find information about local art festivals in the newspaper, on local news and events websites, in tourist information pamphlets, and by word of mouth. If you follow a favorite artist, you may even get a newsletter telling you what shows they will be at this season.

Getting Ready to Go

When preparing to visit an art show, be sure to account for the weather, how long you plan to attend, and any purchases you might make. Art festivals are great in either rain or shine, but be sure to dress accordingly. Bring sunblock and a hat with a brim if it's sunny out, and an umbrella or rain jacket if it threatens to rain. (Make sure to close your umbrella when you enter a tent, so as not to drip on the artwork.) A bottle of water is another art show necessity, especially if it's hot out, and you may also want to bring snacks if no food vendors are at the show. Unless there's a place to wash your hands, avoid eating anything sticky or greasy, since you'll be handling art and crafts. Of course, you'll also want to prepare for purchases – many vendors will accept credit cards, but you should bring some cash as well. Don't count on being able to pay with a check, many vendors don't accept them. Also, consider bringing along a reusable shopping bag for your purchases.

Friends at Art Show

While You're There

Once you're at the art show, it's time for the fun to begin! Fun activities for kids might include a crafting table, face painting, or balloon animals. If street performers or musicians are scheduled, the show information booth can tell you when and where to catch the acts. In the meantime, head over to the main event – the artists' booths. Whether you're looking for a specific piece or just browsing, take the time to interact with the artists. Art festivals are a great opportunity to learn more about the people behind your favorite arts and crafts. Artists typically welcome questions about their process or about a specific piece. Some even do live demonstrations, which can be a lot of fun to watch. As you shop, you're sure to find a few pieces to purchase as gifts or for yourself. If you're not ready to buy on the day of the art fair, ask the artist for their card – local artists may have other shows you can attend, or a shop or studio you can visit. Even if you're traveling, most artists today have websites where you can purchase items online.

Art Booth

Dos and Don'ts

Art shows are pretty casual affairs, but there are a few rules of etiquette you should follow. The main thing is to respect the artist and their work. So, if you have kids or pets in tow, keep an eye on them and make sure they're behaving properly. Older children should handle art or crafts with care, and you may want to ask the artists' permission before allowing young children to touch. Pets should be well trained, able to sit or stand quietly while you browse. If your pet is bit too excited, simply keep them outside of the artists' booth so nothing gets damaged while you shop. Finally, if you are interested in photographing the artists booth or their work, always ask permission first. Some artists may not allow you to take pictures, since they have to protect their trade secrets and copyrights.

Of course, the most important thing at any art fair is to have some good summer fun! Some of the best shows in my neck of the woods (Southern New England) are the SOWA Open Market, the Providence Open Market, and the Festival Fete shows. Do you have suggestions for art festivals near you?

Photos: SoWa Sundays, Creative Commons 2.0; oddharmonic, Creative Commons 2.0; Jeff Marquis, Creative Commons 2.0

18 Ways Kid Can Stay Cool This Summer

Summer is a wonderful season for spending time together as a

family. It can also bring some of the hottest weather, and unless you have access

to a pool or live near the beach, staying cool in the heat can be a challenge.

Our area even restricts the days you can turn on the sprinklers and use the

hose. Here are 18 ways you and your kids can beat the heat.

Freeze It!

1. Freeze a large bed sheet and take it outside for picnic; perfect

for really hot days or those without

air conditioning.

2. Freeze grapes on skewers. See how Marie of Make and Takes

did it.

3. Freeze your favorite cookies and crumble them over ice cream for

something a little different.

4. Freeze tubes of flavored yogurt. Cut them in half for little

mouths to eat.

5. Freeze banana halves and smother in melted chocolate. See

Craftzine for details.

6. Freeze toys into a block of ice and let kids use a hammer to

get the toys out.

Giving Is The New Receiving

Giving

Weddings are a time for

celebrating two people coming together and starting a new life and a new

family together. And I think it’s safe to say that most girls start dreaming about their

wedding day way before they actually walk down the aisle. But there are some who feel like this will never be a reality for them… even after they’ve

found the one they love. But don’t fret! While celebrating your own wedding, it's possible to help others celebrate theirs.

Charitable organizations like

Separation Anxiety And Your Child

Little WorriedThere was a little tap on

my shoulder. “I am so sorry, but I think you need to come and get your son. He

just won’t calm down.” I walked into our church nursery to see my little guy,

red-faced and crying. Letting out a big huff, he reached out his chubby little

9-month-old arms for me. I scooped him up and we headed home. He had never had

a problem leaving me before. In fact, I had been leaving him in the church

nursery since he was two weeks old. Still, the separation anxiety he was

experiencing ended up lasting about a month. And it turns out that separation anxiety

Babies And Pets Can Get Along

No

matter if your baby comes first, or your pet, it's important to take steps to

ensure that the two live together in harmony, and that your baby is safe at all

times. Here are my tips for how to make this happen.

Let The Two Get to Know One Another

Babies

and pets are naturally curious, so let them explore one another. Dogs and cats

may want to smell your baby; this is fine as long as you have control of the

animal in the event that she lashes out at the baby. Animals can be very

jealous of babies, especially if they were in the house first. You want the pet

to become accustomed to your baby, but make it clear that she no longer rules

the roost.

For

babies who are beginning to crawl and grab, let them feel your pet gently, and

show them how to touch softly. You want to teach your baby early on how to treat

your pet (not as a tiny horse).

  • Don't put your baby on the floor when

    introducing her to your pet, nor up high if you have a dog. Put them at the

    same level.

  • For cats, it's sometimes best to let them

    observe from a distance until they're ready for an up-close meeting.

  • Restrain animals for their introduction to your

    baby.

  • Always monitor interactions between the two

    until they develop a relationship.

Signs Things Aren't Going So Well

If

your animal shows signs of aggression, it's wise to back off on the bonding

between baby and pet. Cats may push their ears back to show you they're not

happy, and both dogs and cats may growl or make unpleasant sounds. These are

warning signs, so heed them before your baby gets scratched or bitten.

Cats

are finicky, and may show their displeasure in other ways, such as using the

toilet in places other than the litter box. Your cat may do this to show she's

in charge. In this situation, keep the cat away from the baby until she

adjusts, and make sure to pay plenty of attention to the cat to show you still

love her.

Building the Relationship

This

will be an ongoing process. Gradually let your pet and baby spend more time

around one another, even if from across the room. Give plenty of attention to

your pet in front of your baby to show your pet that you don't devote all your

attention to what she will see as a new

alien. Teach your baby about boundaries and discourage her from putting her

hand or face too close to your pet's face, as well as avoiding any other areas

the pet doesn't like to be touched. Monitor the relationship until you feel

confident the two have bonded and won't hurt one another.

Pets

can greatly enhance a child's life, and growing up together can mean a long and

healthy relationship. Just do your part as the parent (of both!) to keep the peace.

Photo:

A Handmade Life Meet Laura Treloar Jeweler

Laura TreloarWelcome to the Handmade Life series, where artists and artisans share their stories, giving us a glimpse into today's creative world. In this installment, I am pleased to interview Laura Treloar of Specimental, a talented jeweler who makes gorgeous, modern jewelry using chunky crystals and rough gems. Her work has a raw, authentic quality that really draws the eye and sets it apart as something special.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your art form.

I am a single mom to three little children, ages 7, 6, and 4. I am also

a full-time high school art teacher. Between all of this, I keep a

studio in my East Vancouver home, where I create my pieces and store my

specimen collection. My background is in visual arts, with a focus on

sculpture. I became interested in metalsmithing about two years ago,

and it is by far my favorite medium.

What is it about jewelry, particularly the materials you use, that attracted you to it?

I have a mineral and gem specimen obsession, so my work gives me a good

reason to collect every interesting piece I can find. I have hundreds

upon hundreds of them in my studio.

Quartz Charm Earrings

What's your favorite part of creating your work?

My favorite part is finding a new client who has a unique idea for a

piece they would like to work on with me, it is such a challenging and

rewarding way to collaborate.

What's the most challenging part of creating your work?

Without a doubt, trying to find the time to get everything done in my life

that needs to be done is my biggest challenge. I get by on very little

sleep and extreme time management.

What's your current favorite product, and why?

I would have to say that my current favorite is my pearl and raw

diamond collection. The pieces are quite popular, and each one is a unique

creation. I am currently collecting more unique diamond specimens, and

am eager to get to work with them. I have two black diamond cubes that

are burning a hole in my studio, so to speak.

Pearl and Raw Diamond

Can you share some tips on how to combine multiple elements into a single piece of jewelry?

When combining elements such as different mineral specimens, I am

usually attracted to a color combination, or to a compelling

juxtaposition of textures. I mostly fabricate my pieces, which means

building jewelry from sheet and wire. I strive to find different ways

to form and texture these precisely milled materials, thus creating

something organic and unusual from them.

Feather Bib Necklace

Laura certainly succeeds in creating organic and unusual pieces. Her jewelry is breathtaking. Considering color combinations or the way textures go together seems critical in any jewelry design, especially when working with the intricate forms of crystals and gemstones like she does. To learn more about Laura or to see more of her work, visit her Etsy Shop, Specimental.

Mobile Apps For Genealogy

Smart phone

If sketching out your

family tree on paper is too archaic for you, there are a variety of genealogy

applications for mobile phones and tablets on the market these days. Here are a

few that can help you dig into your family's past digitally.

1. Ancestry App

(Ancestry.com)

This app is for the

iPhone and iPad, and lets you show off your family photos and tree on a

visually appealing platform. The Ancestry