We first learned about Jaime in our Cookie days, when she and her husband Jeff (both artists), collaborated with family and friends to create the Rugh Family Workshop, which produced amazing posters (see below) to promote autism awareness. We’re fascinated by her handmade projects, her blogs, her ideas, and the way she raises her family.
Tell us about your background: I grew up outside Philadelphia in my parents’ gourmet food and gift shop, and in some respects, a lot of my childhood was spent doing similar things to what I do now; making stuff, beading stuff, weaving, sewing by hand and cooking…but now with children in tow, I’m the “shop keeper”, a mother, a teacher…
In my life before kids I wore many different hats working as an artist, artist’s assistant, florist, shop buyer, and shop decorator. I’m restless and usually self-taught. I make tremendous amounts of mistakes while learning new skills! I’ve been called everything from a renaissance woman, to more recently, a child trapped in a thirty-four-year-old woman’s body!
I love being a mother and find that I am well suited to motherhood despite all the twists and turns. I was certain that all babies met the world in awe of the new and were wired to be social, but quickly realized my assumptions were incredibly narrow. Curiosity has always come with overwhelming caution and fear for my daughter. I’ve taken an unconventional road seeking what works best for her and adore the way she experiences the world. She’s the best reminder that I have to slow down and pay attention.
I am an artist as well and on my studio desk sits piles of ideas, small models, scraps of paper, found objects, collections of rocks, seashells, glass and so on. I feel incredibly slow in my art-making practice as I put much time into caring for my children, but I’m finding I’m more productive as they get older and enjoy keeping track of all our adventures on my blogs. On the Fringe is a picture blog I use as a reference space where one could look for jumping off points with regards to homeschooling or playing with children in general. It’s simple. Found While Walking is more a personal record of my days and interests. I use my love of walking in tandem with my thinking, productiveness, health, spirituality, artwork and so on.
(above pic: Jaime’s desk!)
Who cooks? Jeff and I both enjoy cooking, and fortunately, we’re good at different things. I like making bread, frittatas, sides, salads and desserts. He makes main course type of foods like meat and pasta, and he makes a great pie.
What’s a typical weeknight? Not exciting! I eat dinner with the kids since Jeff is not back from the city until at least 7:30. He then plays with them in the attic playroom, gets them ready for bed and reads to them, allowing me time to decompress. I spend a little time individually with both kids before they fall to sleep. Some nights I walk my treadmill or work in my studio although many nights I fall into bed early.
Any food-based family rituals? Jam in the summer.
Regarding screen time, would you say you’re very conservative or easy breezy? I’m easy breezy in general. Although, I’m not a television watcher, I don’t have a problem with my kids watching television or similar stuff like playing with the apps on my iPhone. They like all those things and I tend to think the more you fuss or don’t allow it, the more they want it and so I’m okay with everything in moderation.
Tell us about how you celebrate birthdays in your house: We make cakes, cards, gather flowers…and we like making and buying gifts. If we’re throwing a party for the kids, Jeff or I will make the invitations. I love making a big fuss over my kids birthdays. Thinking about their amazing presence in my life makes me go a little nuts wanting to make the day special for them.
Do you like or resent the goody bag phenomenon? I think giving is a nice part of celebrating.
What websites inspire you?I love sites like etsy and big cartel and the outlet they provide for craftspeople. I’ve bought wares from people with really strong skill sets but who are retired or at home caring for children and I love that they have a place that’s far reaching to show off and sell what they do. I also do read a good amount of blogs and am always inspired by Hanna’s blog, Karen Barbe’s, and as of late feel a kinship to Journal de Jours.
Tell us about a typical weekend: I try to get away some on one of the weekend days even if it’s only an hour walk alone in the woods or a few hours in my studio. Since the kids and I spend so much time together I think it’s healthier for all of us to have time apart. I like when dad’s in charge! We do make weekend family dinners and often times go on driving adventures.
Any family rituals you carry on, or that you have created? Jeff and I started making New Years cards back in 2002—it’s a rather labor intensive but exciting ritual.
Favorite activities for when you’re stuck indoors, or do you not let the elements get in the way? I try not to stay inside all day, any day, no matter the circumstance. Since I home school, a snow day isn’t much different than any other day. In general, we do a lot of baking, reading, storytelling, learning by doing all sorts of things.
What kind of music are you into? I need music to motivate me to walk the treadmill and lately I’m listening to Mumford & Sons, Willie Nelson, Ryan Adams, Arcade Fire, Kate Nash…
What’s the thing that always stays on your to-do list and never gets crossed off? To make a to do list! It’s not my style but I know I’d have less on my mind with regards to the household if I just put it on paper.
Top 3 favorite books—for your kids, top 3 for yourself? The kids and I have so many favorites but here are a few…
Mud Pies and Other Recipes by Marjorie Winslow
Simon and Adele or anything by Barbara McClintock
Sally Goes to the Vet by Stephen Huneck
Morris’ Disappearing Bag by Rosemary Wells
I read mostly cookbooks. I’ve been reading and loving all books by Diana Henry, most recently, Plenty.
Your favorite family trip ever? I prefer trips on the road with a few destinations in mind, good places to stay sorted out but where we’re free to pace ourselves and stop off if we want. I particularly liked one of these trips we took around upstate New York and Western Massachusetts last summer. I suspect the Southwestern road trip we take this summer will be right up there.
Do you have any personal a-ha tip that you want to tell us about? I often hear that I’m so serene and calm and deal with the occasional trials of parenting in a fairly unaffected way. I’m very passionate about what I love but kind of unfazed by all the rest. Some of it’s my general demeanor, although, all the books I’ve read on coping with childhood anxiety have probably been beneficial to me. I teach by example and think not stressing about stuff, or taking deep breaths helps my children see that some things are not worth getting all riled up over.
You feel your best when? I walk every day.
Favorite clothing item and why? I love floral patterned shirts and mixing larger floral patterns with smaller more dainty ones or polka dots. I really kill my clothing and shoes and being fairly impulsive, I often just go, no matter what I’m wearing. I’ll walk the treadmill in my jeans or day shirts or walk miles in the neighborhood in sandals. Needless to say, my wardrobe bares the marks of it and floral patterns are a great camouflage for the rustic way I live.
Proudest moment in parenting? Respecting my daughter enough to take her out of a stressful school situation, and try something (homeschooling) everyone told me was the wrong thing to do.
What are your days like? Charlie is at home full time and Max goes to preschool a few days a week. In general, we spend a good part of our day out on an adventure. I like to “teach” in nature and think my kids learn best through observation. Sometimes the adventure is just to the market. I usually have a thought/theme in mind or take a cue from the kids and then we go out into the world to find illustrations of it. The latter half of our day, we are homebodies, sometimes working on things like reading or math but mostly just playing games together or meeting up with friends.
Why did you start putting weavings in trees? Two years ago, I started weaving again after a long hiatus. I wanted to use the most basic form of weaving knowing how limited my time was and I started working on handheld looms to make small squares. I needed a sense of accomplishment artistically even though it was mostly just mindless and peaceful work for me.
One day when my daughter was feeling particularly down, I took her to see cherry blossoms blooming in Newark and we hung a small weaving on the branch of the tree. I told her to make a wish and that we could look forward to coming back and checking on the weaving to see how it aged and weathered.
Randomly, a few weeks later I gave a friend a weaving who in turn put it in on some beaches roses a few hours away. I then started making more squares and giving them away here and there.
A year after we started, I met Karen Barbe who told me about some text she had read about folklore and medicinal plants. She said “that reciprocity must be observed when picking plants for medicinal use and how you must ask permission to the owner of the plant or tree and talk to the plant itself explaining why you needed it. It was important to leave something for the plant, like some coins, yarns or a piece of woven.” Given what we had been through as a family, this made good sense to me and I still keep weavings on me to give away.
What do you feel you could be better at? Anything related to organization, scheduling, and planning! Putting things away from the clean laundry in the basket to emptying our bags when we return home from an adventure. Removing anything tucked into my windshield wipers. I could drive around for three months with a valet ticket stub! And I don’t drink nearly enough water each day.