It is always a delight to connect with another parent who delights in celebrating the simple, reliable, and joy-filled traditions of the past. The more I get to know Rae Grant, the more I find myself delighting in this inspiring woman and her gorgeous work.
Rae is the author of Crafting Fun: 101 Things to Make and Do with Kids and Cooking Fun: 121 Simple Recipes to Make with Kids. When these books arrived for our review, I gushed to my husband about how visually stunning they are. Her studies and training in fine letterpress printing, bookmaking, collage, and design all culminate in two books that captivate and enchantment grown-ups and children alike.
Each book draws from the simple, practical, and useful ideas of a less complicated era in time. The recipes in Cooking Fun invite families to use basic, healthy whole foods to create meals that many of us probably remember from meal times with our grandparents. The instructions are carefully written to be easily understood by the youngest chefs.
Crafting Fun features projects divided into four seasonal categories – Rae has even gone so far as to suggest projects month-by-month. Here you’ll find crafting projects that range from very easy (like the Waxed Paper Leaves pictured below) and Dandelion Bracelets to the slightly more involved projects like kite-making and Rolled Beeswax Candles.
Notably missing from each of the books are photographs of the finished projects and recipes. I found this to be so liberating. Oftentimes when working with children, grown-ups form a picture in mind of what the result “should be.” With only charming illustrations to guide the process, the outcome of each project or recipe will be as individual as the family who is doing the creating.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Rae and she shared with me some insights into her inspiration:
SK: The artwork in your books is simply stunning. What served as your visual inspiration?
Rae: Thank you! I’m a collage artist and a book designer. I like to work with a variety of images and colors and try to tell a story within the story, so Crafting Fun and Cooking Fun (as sister books) have many narrative images. I also wanted kids to get a sense of what it was like to be a kid when family life was a little simpler (and fun) for many people.
SK: Tell a little about your own childhood. Were you raised in a craft-friendly, kitchen-helpers home?
Rae: I grew up in a large family in a smallish town in the Midwest. Our house at the time was 200-years old and said to have been part of the Underground Railroad. There were lots of stories and imaginings about who lived in the house over the years and we were always trying to uncover its history. I also had grandparents who were born at the turn of the century. They lived long lives and were a big part of my life. My grandmother was a talented homemaker, cook, baker, and organic gardener. We grew up eating very well at her table, and learned so much from watching her cook, preserve food, and garden. My mother on the other hand was a creative spirit. Music, dance, the arts were always plentiful in our childhood. She had a sewing room and sewed all of our clothes for school and gave us free range in the kitchen for baking as long as we cleaned up after ourselves. She too was a very good cook.
SK: Do you have a personal favorite of the recipes and/or crafts?
Rae: Well, I actually like them all. I was able to present classic crafts and foods that I thought kids and families could relate to and that were charmingly simple to make. I do like the Baking section in Cooking Fun. Banana Bread is a recipe we make regularly. The Spooky Cheesecloth Ghosts that we made last year are really funny and cute. I saved it for this year. The nature crafts also are a favorite. I like to take walks and collect leaves and acorns and also watch birds.
Be sure to be back on Thursday when I’ll share more of my interview with Rae as well as more pictures of what my family created from these books. In the meantime, take time to browse through Rae’s websites for each book craftingfunforkids.com and cookingfunforkids.com where you’ll find many more looks inside each book as well as what other families have created based on Rae’s inspiration.
I’ll leave you with a look at our first fall project – Waxed Paper Leaves.
“Reading” the instructions:
Arranging the leaves and shredded crayon bits (we couldn’t locate our pencil sharpener to make proper crayon shavings!):
We carefully used an iron to melt the crayon and wax paper together:
We’ll place all of our Waxed Paper Leaf projects on the windowsill to bring the beauty of autumn inside:
Do you have a favorite “vintage” recipe or project you’ve created with your children?