Saturday, April 25, 2020

Lavender Chai

Hello, friends! I hope everyone's still sane out there. The children have finished 4 weeks of Room School. Were they much younger, so that their learning were still very much parent-helped, I might have called it House School. The reality, however, has been much more like three separate classrooms from which the respective children emerge for lunch and bathroom breaks - or to locate and kidnap a cat for company and moral support. Occasionally, I get invited into their lessons in a consultant role, or I hear the muffled conversations from a videoconference with classmates. Otherwise, school proceeds in spite of me or their Dad, and for those few morning hours, when the house is still, it feels almost like the World Before.


Life has been very, very strange. Some of it has been hard on the kids. We learned today that we will not be returning to school this school year. My heart aches for the graduating seniors - 5th, 8th, 12th graders, and the preschoolers preparing to transition to kindergarten. But also for students in all the other levels, for their own missing milestones and hijacked opportunities. I've heard the murmuring on social media: no closure, no rituals, no defining rites of passage. It's abrupt and anticipated all at once. Grief is a complex, gnarly thing. And it is both disconcerting and comforting that we are all experiencing it together (while obediently spatial distancing, I mean).

Aside: I have grown quite weary of hearing the term "social distancing". I've decided to call it "spatial distancing" instead. It feels more hopeful: we're simply spaced apart while still being connected socially.

But I digress. Let's return to the children and their new routines. One thing they've said they do like about their new school arrangement is how quickly they can be done with their schoolwork most days if they stay on task. This translates to free afternoons and evenings for random pleasurable pursuits. Bike rides around the neighborhood and slime-making in the garage, for instance. Lots of baking and even some cooking. And experimenting with new media. Like gouache paint, which Emily has been enjoying. 

This was new to me, so in case it's new to you, too, gouache (pronounced 'g-wash') paints are like watercolors but more opaque, so you can layer them over each other like acrylic but they're re-wettable after they dry, like watercolors. 

Emily's had so much fun with them that she's made mini kits and mailed them to her friends to share the love. Mini paintings, Emily says, are more accessible than larger ones - particularly if you're new to watercolors, a full-size painting can feel a little intimidating. But anyone can finish a little one like this (they're the size of Polaroids), and they're so cute. 

See? Eee!

We now have two very exciting announcements:

One, you can now buy these mini gouache paint kits! Because . . . (drum roll) 

two, Emily has a brand new Etsy store Lavender Chai

Some of you might remember that she and her good friend Sophie launched their joint Etsy store Owl & Hedgie last year. That's where they've stocked their traveler's notebooks which they'd worked on together. Lavender Chai is Emily's second - and solo - store, and where you'll find her gouache kits.

Come on the tour!

Each kit comes with a palette with dots of gouache paint, a blank 2.75" x 3" watercolor-paper card, and instructions. The watercolor card comes edged with removable painter's tape to help the paint stay within the frame.

Don't be fooled by the tininess of the dots - if you're familiar with watercolor, you'll know that a small bit goes a long way. The combinations were endless, but Emily picked four to start -

ocean, rainbow, sunset and potted plants:

They're so easy to paint with - all you need are a paint brush (any kind) and a container of water. 

Dip, wet and paint!

Here are some sample pictures she painted,

with the four color palettes.

They're only $4 each and if you're in the US, the shipping's on us! Everyone from little kids to adults can use them, and they'll make thoughtful and creative gifts. Send a couple to friends stuck at home like Emily did. Surprise a creative mom (or grandma!) with one of these tucked into a Mother's Day card. Or a favorite teacher to say thank you for holding the fort. Or just save one for yourself - if you've ever wanted to try watercolor or in this case, gouache, this is a perfect chance to give it a go.

Come visit Emily's new Etsy store! We'd love to put a set or two in the mail for you! 

Also check out Lavender Chai on Instagram @ lavenderchaico to see more pictures of paintings and the kits in action. 


  1. How clever! If I were in the USA I'd be ordering.

  2. What a brilliant shop idea!

    I discovered gouache in France, where they teach you to use them in school. It's such a delightful substance to paint with. I only discovered last year the difference between gouache and watercolors - for decades I thought it was just a word for watercolor paint that came in a tube!

    1. And I hadn't heard of it till Emily told me!

  3. I was so busy playing with a three year old that I missed out - but I'll be back when you've restocked. Congratulations Emily!

  4. I call myself "physically distant, socially engaged" :)

    1. Quinn: yes. SO much better than socially distant.


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