The Collective Series: Ida Karelsen

Ida Karelsen grew up in Lambton County and spent a lot of time in her parents’ greenhouses. Her love of plants and design led her to landscape design. Ida worked as a landscape designer until the birth of her first daughter. Fast forward a few years, she is now the mom of four children all of whom are home-schooled.

Ida has always loved pottery and wooden things. Five years ago, her sons received jack knives, and she purchased the Big Book of Whittle Fun: 31 Simple Projects You Can Make with a Knife, Branches & Other Found Wood by Chris Lubkemann. “We all used the book to learn how to whittle and that led to carving which I absolutely love.”  

Four years ago, on a family holiday in Muskoka, Ida saw some beautiful wood cheese boards in a local shop. “I was looking at these boards thinking, ‘It can’t be that hard. I think I can make that.’”

When she returned home, Ida contacted her brother who had recently cut down a walnut tree. She bought some walnut from him and started watching YouTube videos to learn how to make a cheese board. “Or course the boards led to the discovery of spoon carving which I was determined to figure out.” In 2016, Ida opened board and spoon featuring hand carved kitchen art for everyday use.

Steph and I are big fans of Ida’s work, but as we have become friends we have learned about her thoughtful and intentional life.  

What started you on a simple and thoughtful journey?

When I started wood carving I became aware of how much time goes into making a piece and trying to sell it. I started to appreciate the things around me more because I could see how much time and effort went into them. For me there is such a different connection when I buy a pottery mug from the potter who made it as opposed to buying a mug that has been mass produced. So being a maker has made me more thoughtful about what I purchase.

I’ve also learned that the less you have, the less work you have. My goal is to slowly go through every space in our house to determine what is really important and what is not. What do we really need and and what can we do without. I find when things start piling up and there is clutter and mess and it’s harder to make everything calm.

Do you have a morning ritual/routine?

My morning routine is critical. I have to get up a couple of hours before my kids because I homeschool, the kids are with me all day. I have breakfast, do my devotions, go through my emails, and read. Time to read before my day starts is essential. 

Favorite Hot Drink? 

Coffee with a little bit of maple syrup. I try to eliminate a lot of sugar from my diet, so a little bit of maple syrup is my treat.

What’s your favorite season and why?

Summer! Through the fall, winter, and spring our family works on these lists we have to get done, so I love when that list is gone and it turns into a natural flow to the house. We live very close to Lake Huron, and we are beach bums. On hot summer evenings we love to just hop in the car without shoes and drive to the lake for a quick dip. 

What does beauty look like to you? 

Beauty gives me happiness, so the first thing I think of is seeing my kids with all of our farm animals who they love. They have decided that all of our chickens are British and speak in an English accent. They have conversations and create these imaginative scenarios with the chickens, and I love overhearing them and I think it is so beautiful. Play is beautiful. 

When I first saw my husband for the first time I thought he had the most beautiful eyes of any person on the planet and still does.

One of my sons is fixing up an old antique car with his dad. Seeing the two of them work together on it and then drive out the driveway for the first time was beautiful. I don’t find beauty in stuff but there are things about our life that I find beautiful.

Ways you weave love into your home? 

This is a tough one. I think that it looks different as your kids get older. Love when the kids are small is easy. It’s affection, being close, and reading. There are so many ways to show your love when the kids are small, but as they get bigger you know that love is instilling values and teaching them to work hard. 

As the kids get older it’s harder to let them know that we adore and love them. I want to show them I love them as I teach them about life. I’ve learned that doing things shoulder to shoulder or together connects us more than just sitting and talking.

One practical home good you couldn’t live without? 

Boards! Seriously, we use my boards all the time. My favorite thing in the evening, after supper and all the night time chores are done, is sitting down together as a family to watch a show together. This can be challenging with pretty big age differences in our kids, but can usually find some of the older classic shows. I put two or three boards out together on the table with cheese and crackers or nachos. 

I also love pottery, so that’s a close second.

Something that you are currently reading, listening to, or podcast? 

I don’t read too much right now. When we went on holiday this summer I took The Kinfolk Table. I’ve read it multiple times.

One of the books that completely helped me to be creative is The Hidden Art of Homemaking by Edith Schaeffer. I read it a number of years ago, and she did an awesome job of explaining that our creativity is in us because we are created by an amazing artist. If we are created in His image, then there is something in you that is going to reflect Him. 

So the idea of me making and selling things seems a lot more shallow if I’m doing it because I think I have this talent, and I’m going to make some money. If I believe that I am reflecting God when I create and make things I feel that I am giving Him glory. This book taught me that being creative is an important thing and it is not trivial. 

I’ve also been listening to Chris Ingram’s Living on the Edge podcast.

What does your ideal Sunday/Sabbath look like?

My husband and I don’t have a ton of time to go on dates, so we’ve always had an early morning breakfast together on weekends. We get up before the kids and have breakfast together, and that is our date. On Sundays, we have breakfast and then wake up the kids. We go to church and will often take a drive or go for a walk in the afternoon.

Sunday afternoon is also when I carve. Everything else is done, and I can focus and enjoy my carving. 

Is there anything you would tell your eighteen year old self? 

To not worry about each step, day, or year. To pray and know that God will direct me. To worry only about today and not all the days ahead which takes a huge leap of faith.