May 2016

Since 1997, May Day has had particular significance for me. On May 1st 1997, my father Joseph Lawrence MacMartin died from complications of Alzheimer's Disease. He had been sick for a long time, so his death felt like mercy. Sad, yes, but a relief to have him freed from the prison of his body.

He was a creative guy, my dad. This picture here captures him perfectly: jeans and sneakers, perched on a log, concentrating on getting his sketch just right.  

I learned how to lead a creative life from Dad. Although he worked at a sales job he did not love, he made up for that with the many hobbies he enjoyed, including sketching, watercolor painting, and woodworking. 

In my early 20s, I worked in a bookstore that was very close to my father's office. He would drop by occasionally, in his trench coat and fedora hat, which he would doff to me and my coworkers. He would always ask "how is business?". It was fun to chat as two business people, not just father and daughter. As I type this, I just realized that I do that too--not the hat part but the inquiry, when greeting fellow small business owners Linden Hills and beyond. 

Although my dad was long gone when I opened Heartfelt, I often feel his blood in my veins. I inherited his extroversion, his willingness to speak up, and his artistic sensibility. I have a feeling he would love the shop--I wish he could stop by to sketch and paint! 

Crafting with Kids

March 2016

Recently, two of my staff commented separately that they were feeling more comfortable with all the different craft projects we offer each month. They need to know how to make everything we offer--it can feel daunting at first but like anything, the more you do it, the easier it gets.

Now that my business is well established as a place to bring children to create, one of my goals this year is to invite more adults to take part too. Whether they make something along with their children/grandchildren, book a private skills class, or plan a private party with friends, making things with our hands can be trans-formative for us grown-ups too. If we can get out of our own way.

This week, a grandmother decided to make our Felted Chicks in a Nest project, while her granddaughter made the Bunnies & Hutch.The eight year old dived confidently into her project, choosing paint colors quickly to suit her vision. 

For her grandmother, it was a much more difficult process. She found fault with her first chick (too big), sighing that she would have to make the remaining two the same (too large) size. She made the nest, then took the chicks home to add eyes and beaks. She bought additional wool, so she could make additional sets for her other grandchildren, saying that she likes to practice on her own to get things right. My hope is that she can find some pleasure in making these gifts for her grandchildren, rather than the judgement and perfectionism I witnessed, all too aware that her granddaughter heard it all. 

This is by no means uncommon when adults work with their hands. What happened to us that we judge ourselves so harshly? Why must we worship at the altar of perfection? I have written about this before, so it's not something new. And some children have these tendencies too, crying when something doesn't turn out the way they wanted it to. But mostly, children enter into the making with confidence and joy. We can learn something from this, if we are relaxed and open enough to let it in. Let's try.

February Snow

Beautiful snow! It's freshened up the landscape considerably and greatly improved sledding and skiing prospects, that's for sure.

I am fortunate to live just eight blocks from the shop; my four-minute commute home on Tuesday took seven minutes instead. I took advantage of the quiet day at the shop to catch up on various tasks, while watching the blowing flakes through the big front windows. 

Around 3:30, I noticed a group of youths huddling under the entry overhang. I poked my head out the door and asked them to come in. Four teen boys piled in the store, SWH sophomores. They had waited 40 minutes for the city bus home to Uptown before giving up and walking to Linden Hills.No boots of course, nor hats/gloves that I could see--but at least they weren't wearing flip flops! 

 One boy called his mom and they settled in to wait for their ride. Polite kids, they chatted with me a bit and talked with each other, while staring into their ever-present cell phones. Around 4:15, a van pulled up and they were off, thanking me, and tripping over their feet a bit like adolescent puppies. I enjoyed their company, and especially getting a glimpse of the men they were becoming. Welcoming folks who visit Heartfelt is so rewarding for me and my staff. Amazing conversations and connections often stem from me asking "how is your day going?". 

April Showers

What shall we call this season we are in? Spr-inter? W-ring? The 2012 "ice out" date on Lake Harriet was March 18th. And I had planted pansies in the pots at the store by the end of March 2012. That was a rare year. This year is more normal, I guess--dang it! I love spring whenever it decides to come. My rites of this season include buying product for the store at the Gem Show (more rocks will be ready for you by this weekend!), attending the Shepherd's Harvest Sheep and Wool Festival (Mother's Day weekend--more info to come) and making all kinds of fairy crafts. Now that the snow has melted, I plan to install a fairy house and garden under the Linden tree in front of the store. Watch for progress as May approaches.


I opened Heartfelt on the last day of April in 2011--these two years have flown by! I feel really happy with the way the shop is evolving. We are getting busier too so others seem to share that feeling. Looking ahead to summer (it will come), I am considering expanding store hours once school is out; this would include being open Mondays and all day Tuesdays and possibly extending our close time to 6 pm. Let me know what you think about that!

Spring Break

Greetings from Moab, UT. My husband and I are vacationing here, attending the Easter Jeep Safari. Jeep drivers from across the USA gather to participate in group drives over offroad trails here. It's more my husband's thing than mine, truthfully, but I always welcome the opportunity to be out in nature, gathering fairy house fixin's! So far, I have a sack full of pretty little pinecones (they look like flowers) from the pinyon pine trees that grow in the La Sal mountains. plus lots of interesting twisted pieces of wood. And the red rock formations are truly dazzling so I plan to gather some interesting pebbles for fairy garden pathways.

Moab Feeling a bit like a fish out of water with all the Jeeps and free flowing testosterone, I found my way to the knitting shop in town, Desert Thread. A very cute place, with pretty yarns and interesting local fibers for spinning and felting. I had a good chat with one of the owners, sharing project ideas and came away with a bag of nice fibers (Icelandic and Polworth sheep) and a very soft baby Alpaca yarn. It's good to be open to totally new (and sometimes strange!) experiences but it also good to know what makes one happy and pursue those things too. To that end, we plan to take a break from the group trails now and strike out on our own to the amazing Arches and Canyonlands National Parks.

Bunny Tales

I have always loved bunnies. As a child growing up in Canada, many storybooks featured rabbits in English meadow settings, sometimes clothed, sometimes not. When I was a bit older, a favorite read was Rabbit Hill by Robert Lawson, a charming chapter book that won the Newbery Award way back in 1945--it is still a wonderful timeless story.

Sometimes bunnies can be problematic of course--I remember the day I decided to leave my lettuce crop in the garden for one more day of growing. The next morning, my beautiful mesclun had been chewed off as precisely as if a lawn mower had run through it!

Spring Plans

Easter fast approaches, with Spring break, the end of snow (here's hoping) and new growth. My husband is so excited--we depart soon for the Easter Jeep Safari in Moab, Utah. Those who know me well also know that the Jeep is my husband's thing (the more gear the better) but I tag along happily for the nature immersion that off roading provides. Our usual destination is Colorado in the summer so this will be new and so interesting--the landscape will be totally foreign to someone raised near the Great Lakes and northern forests. Expect photos and a bit of a travelogue.

Slowly Warming

Even with snowshoeing, getting out walking again and the occasional trip to the woods to scrounge wood for fairy houses, I confess that I (maybe like you?) have pretty much had it with winter. My husband LOVES winter and has a big grin on his face whenever we get storms like today's. And Zorro, well he loves everything and everyday. Snow, no snow, he is always so happy. So what to do? Hang in there, start working on April craft samples, continue to dress cozy--and wait. Even the snow today is melting fast on the sidewalk in front of the store. Winter is no match for the warming as the Earth turns us towards the sun.

Winter Walks

After several weeks of winter mood doldrums, I have finally  gotten back to taking lake walks in the mornings. Once I got out there, I couldn't figure out why I had stopped--it was so incredibly beautiful! Laziness probably. Seasonal depression certainly. Movement and being in nature are antidotes but getting out there can be a real challenge. It helps that my husband loves winter--I just need to follow in his wake as he heads out the door. Zorro too is a positive influence--if we humans got half as excited as dogs do at the prospect of a walk, we would all be healthier for it!

And the days are getting longer, the quality of light changing as we inch towards spring. Come see our window with new woodland cutouts, our baskets of wooden eggs and little birds' nests. Even the cold days don't feel quite so cold when we hold the hope of spring in our hearts.

Fabulous February Crafts

I have always loved Valentine's Day--it seems to come at just that point in the winter where the snow is drab grey, the temps (and my mood) are bottoming out and it seems like spring will never come. Rosy hearts and love poems are the perfect antidote and a great excuse for crafting.

When I was growing up in the 60s, I loved those big books of punch out Valentines, with their corny sayings and vintage illustrations. When my daughter was young, her Waldorf school requested homemade Valentines only, and one for every classmate. Yay! Off to Butler's Drug for paper and stickers and doilies and glitter, then our card making "sweatshop" got underway. Over the years, we added paper punches, stamps and ink pads, edging scissors and more to our Valentine supply box.

For several years, I was employed by a large retailer, working in marketing at their head office. Valentine's Day coincided with an annual business trip to New York for the Toy Fair and this rather put a crimp in my seasonal crafting with my girl. I remember making heart shaped cookies the day before leaving, prepping frosting and sprinkles and leaving detailed written instructions for my good sport husband so he could help our daughter decorate heart cookies for her friends at daycare.

Now as an almost empty nester, my Valentine crafting energy is satisfied creating with the children that visit my shop. Their pride in their handmade projects is inspiring to me and a reminder to view the world with some of their childhood wonder.


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