"The World is but a Canvas to the Imagination"
~Henry David Thoreau~

April's Tender Nest....
Where the Creative Spirit is nurtured and cared for.

April Martin-Ko
Creativity Consultant, Holistic Life Coach and Educator.

Tea Time at April's Tender Nest

Tea Time at April's Tender Nest
Tea Time at April's Tender Nest

Friday, February 18, 2011

hearts, flowers and fairy tale moments: a valentine epilogue

my friends and family would confirm without a doubt, i am a hopeless romantic.  i blame it on my early exposure to movies like "gone with the wind".  but i think wistful thoughts of romance will always be a part of who i am.... as a girl they were carefully acted out with my barbies, of course.

i was watching one of those daytime television programs the other day, they were featuring a special relationship expert for valentines day. she talked of an interesting study about women's misconceptions and unrealistic expectations regarding romance.  the example she gave was one of a survey done on a group of women who watched the romantic comedy 'serendipity'.  these women were asked a week later about their belief in the idea 'there is only 'one' person out there for you'; they all agreed and said yes. they were compared with another group of women who had not watched the movie, these other women expressed they did not believe in 'fate', or the idea that there is only one true love out in the world for them. interesting..... life thus far has definitely taught me we can love in many forms; however, i have to admit this will not cause me to no longer believe in finding one spellbinding true love....i'm much too romantic to give up on this belief.

i think this is just part of the world vision i hold...  that our lives do indeed follow paths based on opportunity, chance and fate. when i met my true love it was serendipitous, so many circumstances presented themselves to us that caused us to stop in our tracks and give our heads a little shake. our story is one of magic. this leads me to the other point the relationship expert made.... life is not a romantic comedy or jane austen novel, but we can relish in those fairy tale moments when they happen, like when my love and i were dancing our toes off the other night, or when i opened up a box beautifully embellished with birds and flowers to reveal a turquoise raw silk cheongsam; a family heirloom..... or the look on ed's face when i gave him my carefully stitched valentine.  these enchanting little flashes, like dreams or tiny films in our minds are ones we can return to when we hear a familiar tune, catch a wift of a particular aroma, or brush our hand across an acquainted piece of fabric.

Thursday, February 3, 2011


well, today is officially the start of the new year....because my spouse is chinese and i hold to the traditions of jewish and celtic calendars the lunar new year represents more significance in our household. in chinese culture this is the year of the metal rabbit. the rabbit year is to be one of peace, calm and love. metal in chinese philosophy is associated with the planet venus, intuition and yin energy; yin energy is marked by sensitivity and a readiness to receive. it is  a very quiet symbol, linked to thoughtfulness, resting. according to feng shui it is about looking west, round shapes and the colour purple (this may explain my fascination with this colour recently).  overall, the bunny year is one i feel very ready to hop into.

whenever this time of year comes i reflect on my beautiful chinese 'long dress' ed gave me when we had our first lunar new year together....the cheongsam.  I had always loved the cheongsam, so elegant and classic. the cheongsam's history is one from shanghai during the 1920's where women, in so many words... wanted to look more chic.  some of my favorite images of the cheongsam are the old chinese advertisements of the 1930's; paintings of women so delicately portrayed, known as shanghai ladies.  in the early decades of the 20th century, advertising came to china. beginning mostly with foreign companies that wished to sell their products more effectively in china, advertising posters became a fad among many corporations. these posters were usually produced by in-house art departments and given away free as calendars or wall hangings to clients around chinese new year. (fr. squidoo.com)  reproductions of these are easily found in china town shops today.

the other images of the cheongsam that have also inspired me came from watching wong-kar-wai's film in the mood for love and the portrayal of hong kong during the 1960's. these cheongsams are accentuated so beautifully in his film by his choice of colour pallet, sets and use of lighting in the cinematography. 

adaryn received a new fuscia cheongsam this year. the original one ed gave me is a more non-traditional blue colour but with lucky gold and red.

this year my modern ways have lead me to a velvet shorter version (though red) found at a vintage shop. i hope it will bring me luck as i wear it to welcome the year of the rabbit.

gong shi gong shi.

an interesting link with photos and uses of the cheongsam

history of the cheongsam

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

new moon

it seems appropriate that i would be entering my moon time on the new moon; a time to reflect, shed away the old and start new projects.

i always think of the book the red tent by anita diamant when my moon time arrives....this book is a favourite and i even gave a copy to my cousin for her bat mitzvah this last summer; seemed an appropriate gift to give a younger cousin as she enters 'womanhood'. many see this book as the old testament written from a woman's perspective, but what i loved about it was the celebration and ritual of what it means to be a woman regarding menstruation, birth and really bonding through gathering.  i wish it was a part of modern society's mores that women could take time off to work to rest, take care of body, mind and spirit during moon time; gather the important women around her so they may impart their wisdom and allow hers to open.  in aboriginal culture women are not allowed to take part in smudges or sweats because she is seen as 'too powerful' during her moon time.  but alas, our modern culture sees taking time away for this as a weakness, worrying that we may be viewed as frail in comparison to men. these days when a woman enters her moon time she is lucky if she can squeeze in an extra hour of sleep with all the demands and pressures put on her.  so as i mourn the loss of these rituals no longer integrated into our daily lives, i carve out time in my life to pitch the canopy of my own red tent.... baths with clary sage and geranium, herbal teas, chocolate, as much sleep as i can fit in, intimate talks with my women friends and lots of time to reflect... think about how i can be wiser and more powerful as i move through life.

"finally, she spoke with careful words about the moon. she told me how much she loved the white light, and how she spoke to the moon and called her by name every month. Leah said the moon was the only face of the goddess that seemed open to her because of the way the moon called forth the filling and emptying of her body. "my sister is wise" said zilpah. "she stopped and faced me and took both my hands in hers and asked, 'are you ready to swallow the moon at last?'

excerpt from the red tent by anita diamant

willow and ruby

last night our cat willow was on the prowl...keeping us awake. she wanted to go outside, because i think she heard some of her frenemies skulking about. since moving to our new abode willow as enjoyed the freedom to go outside, meandering about on the roofs, in the backyard and sometimes getting into scraps with our neighbours' big black cat downstairs, rupert or puff daddy as he is sometimes called.  lately its been a little white and grey cat from next door who keeps making an appearance at our window and putting willow into a hissing frenzy.  willow is a bit of a sensitive cat, scaredy cat some would say. but i think she had a hard time in her early years, which may be a clue to her bent little tail.  another reason why willow is tiring of the young cats around town coming to bother her might be her age....she is approaching retirement age now and may just want to live a peaceful existence here on out. willow will be 11 years old this year, adaryn tells me that is 65 in cat years, which i have never been able to figure out how to calculate. willow has been through some dark times with me and was a cozy comfort, sleeping with me in the curve behind my knees, purring and vibrating healing love. she would give me a gentle tap on the nose in the morning, no claws, just the soft pad of her paw waking me up to give her some food. willow is a russian blue cat, and they are said to be shy of strangers, but bond with their owners and family members.  they say  it takes time for them to adjust to change, but when they do they become happy and playful. some people say a person will choose a dog because it looks them or matches their personality. perhaps that is what happened to me when i went to the spca 11 years ago after reading a story to children about a cat whose fur was the colour of a pussy willow. i found willow and she found me.  adaryn has noticed willow doesn't always want to be friends with other cats; we thought we should make a cat with whom she might have a chance of accepting and so we created.... ruby.  willow didn't hiss at ruby or try to scratch her. when they first met she sniffed her, rubbed up against her and then went back to sleep.

ruby is a poised cat who loves flowers, the colour purple and is feels grateful willow is around so the other neighbourhood cats won't get the best of her.