A K is for Kahlo Giveaway Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month


It's September 16, the second day of Hispanic Heritage Month!

As an ex-Kindergarten teacher, the September-October time of year was always one of my favorite. There's so much going on, so much to celebrate. The kids are just getting into the swing of things, fall swirls through the crisp air, it seems like apples and pumpkins are everywhere, and the curriculum is rich for reading and learning and experiences. I used to love the free candy that would come with Halloween time--'confiscating' what the kids weren't supposed to have and promising I'd give it back later...which really meant I'm gonna eat this in the boring faculty meeting after school next week after we've both forgotten you were trying to sneak a laffy taffy into your mouth in line at the bathroom.

Another reason I used to love this time of year during my teaching career was celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month, or Latinx Heritage Month as some are now using. I'm partial--some of my favorite people on the planet are Latinx. My best friend from college, Elizabeth Amaro, who is an artistic genius in her own right and is responsible for me becoming a bilingual teacher as she and her family gave me full immersion experiences in the Spanish language, introduced me to Frida Kahlo. We used to watch the film starring Frida starring Salma Hayek ad nauseum, which led to countless inside jokes and random quotes we still use today. Nearly 20 years later, here I am with my ninth book published through The English Schoolhouse...

K is for Kahlo by me, brilliantly illustrated by Howell Edwards Creative

You may be having trouble focusing on the book cover because of one of the following three distractions:
-my awesome afro
-my poppin' lipstick
-the incredible floral crown I have adorning my crown

Well I inherited the afro, the lipstick is Mac's Ruby Woo, and if you wanna know about the gorgeous floral headband, you're in good company. I'm not the only one who loves my high school friend Vashelle's creations...she's attracted the attention and business of some pretty big names--




Model/Actress Denise Vasi & her daughter Lennox
Love this one.
Celine Khavarani's baby shower, celebrity relations VP for Marc Jacobs

So a few months ago I was at home in Rome pregnant with my fourth kid (still am), and I saw the last pic and decided to reach out to Vashelle for my own headband. And I love it. (Fun fact: it gives a nod to my soon to be born child's moniker, and Vashelle made it just for me.)

When I was wearing it around the house recently and caught a glimpse of my book K is for Kahlo, I thought it'd be cool and relevant for us to do a collaboration/giveaway in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month.

I sent Vashelle some questions, and she responded candidly. Check out the woman behind these floral crowns below in this interview...and keep reading until the end to find out how to win a copy of K is for Kahlo AND your very own headband! We're giving away two of each.

Viva Frida!
Viva read alouds!
Viva la arte!
Viva headbands worn as crowns!

Wishing you all a gorgeous weekend and upcoming week.

Here's the interview:

     Hey Vashelle, thanks so much for taking the time to answer these questions. I adore what you're doing and am so excited to share your work with anyone who reads this blog. So we'll just jump into it. 
     We're from a small town in Texas. How, if at all, do you think your upbringing affects your creativity? 

       I spent most of my lifes time in Texas, but Ive also lived in 8 states and one foreign country. Having moved every one to three years to completely different places (in terms of landscape, culture, etc.) definitely affected my creativity. I carry each and every place in my spirit, but I think Arizonawhere I was born and where my family is fromand my three years in Germany have influenced my creativity the most. Arizona for my life experiences, family history, culture and overall mysticism of the Southwest, and Germany for the forests, museums, history and so forth. The town I lived in still has a standing hexenturm, a tower for the purpose of hanging alleged witches. If that doesnt set a childs imagination ablaze I dont know what does.

To what extent does Frida Kahlo's art influence you? 

To be honest, Fridas art challenges me the most in my writing and personal life. When you read her poetry, her letters to Diego, and look at her art, the most admirable thing about her was her honesty. She had no qualms about being vulnerable by sharing her pain and shadow with the world. Thats the kind of writer and human I want to be, but I cant say I always have the courage.

How'd you get the idea to do the floral headbands? 

Id made one here and there in the past, but after I moved to Maryland from Oahuwhere there was only one overpriced craft store and my creativity was in the pitsI went kind of crazy making all sorts of things. I started making and selling jewelry on Etsy and added a couple of headbands on a whim. I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly they sold, so I decided to keep making them!


Vashelle's lovely daughter

Which design that you've created is your favorite? 

I dont really have designs in mind when I make the headbands unless theyre custom orders and my customer is looking for something specific. I tend to lay out all the pretty florals Ive collected and arrange them in ways that appeal to me. If I think back, one of the prettiest was a simple Iris arrangement. It was all-white and looked like something suited for a bride. Maybe thats what it was used for! I may never know.

Where have your headbands been featured? 

Ive had two high-profile customers (which was amazing and totally unexpected). One ordered a few for her daughters Frida-themed birthday party (for herself, her daughter and photo booth for guests) and the other for her flamingo-themed baby shower. Ive had a couple of people, unrelated as far as I know, wear my headbands to Frida Fest at the Dallas Museum of Art. Ive had someone order one for herself and her mother for their mother/daughter trip to Mexico for Dia de los Muertos. Ive had a little girl wear my one of my headbands when she dressed like Frida Kahlo for Dress Like an Artist Day at her school in suburban Massachusetts. That one might be my favorite. A part of me wants to ask every single customer what theyre using the headband for and if they can send me a photo. Ha!  

Who is your favorite artist of all time? 

As much as I want to say Frida or even a Medieval painter (did I mention I like dark?), Id have to say Salvador Dali. I have an insanely active and intuitive dream life, so much that I used to mix up my dreams with reality when I was a kid. I grew up all the way to my mid-20s thinking my family and I went on a cruise when I was little. I brought it up one day and my mom was like, What cruise? We never went on a cruise. I was thinking damn, how many of my other awesome childhood memories are a lie? Haha. But yes, Dali because of his paintings strange, dream-like quality. I have an innate understanding of them, almost like my mother tongue.

What other creative ventures do you have going on? 

I write when I can, and I facilitate a writers group that I started as soon as I moved here over two years ago. Ive been lucky enough to be published several times in various (print) magazines, but my writing passion is the personal essay. Id like to write a collection of them. Or maybe a collection of vignettes disguised as fiction since Im still working on the courage part.

Beyond that Ive found my passion is silversmithing. I have to force myself to go to sleep at night otherwise Id be in my garage working at the bench until I pass out. Thats how much I enjoy it. It combines my mental creativity, love for nature (I use natural crystals and stones in my silver pieces) and need to get dirty and tactile. The feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction after finishing a piece is unlike that of any of my other creative ventures.


Where can readers find more about you and your designs/follow you? 

I am most active on Instagram. I have three accounts: my personal account (@itsvashelle), jewelry account (@revel.designs.by.shelly), and headband account (@floral.crowns.by.revel.designs). Id love to see everyone on any and each of them! Im a social butterfly in real life so social media is really no different for me.

Do you create full-time? What are some of your other interests? 

I believe I do! Even when Im not actively creating something I am thinking about it. I write essays in my head all the time thinking Ill remember most of when I finally get to sit down and write, but then I dont (my short term memory is awful, but I can still remember some conversations you and I had in high school. Ha!). I think about crafts, headbands, jewelry, silversmithing, home projects all day long. I struggle a lot with feeling like theres never enough time in a day for all the things I want to do. To take it a step further, I often worry my life will be cut short before I master the creative things I want to master, learn all the things I want to learn, see all the places I long to see.

My other interests include forest-bathing, museum-going, historical site-seeing, library-meandering, old cemetery-visiting, antique-hunting, wine-tasting, cheese and meats-eating, and wanderlusting.

Anything else you want to add?

Im so glad weve connected. You have a distinct position in one of my memories from 20 years ago, right after a pivotal adolescent moment Ive pinched into a corner of my mind. The saying, They may not remember what you saidbut they will remember how you made them feel, comes to mind. I was a lost soul. And you were kind. You might see your name in my collection of personal essays someday. <3

SO HERE'S HOW YOU CAN WIN A COPY OF K IS FOR KAHLO AND A HEADBAND FROM VASHELLE'S REVEL DESIGNS BY SHELLY:

ON FACEBOOK:
-FOLLOW THE ENGLISH SCHOOLHOUSE & SHARE THIS GIVEAWAY POST 
-TAG YOUR 2 FRIENDS AND YOUR FAVORITE LIVING ARTIST
-TELL US WHY YOU'D LIKE TO WIN THE K IS FOR KAHLO BOOK AND A FLORAL HEADBAND.

ON INSTAGRAM:
-FOLLOW @TAMARAPIZZOLI & @FLORAL.CROWNS.BY.REVEL.DESIGNS
-TAG 2 FRIENDS AND YOUR FAVORITE LIVING ARTIST
-TELL US WHY YOU'D LIKE TO WIN THE K IS FOR KAHLO BOOK AND A FLORAL HEADBAND.

WE'LL BE POSTING EVERY DAY THROUGH SEPTEMBER 23, AND YOU CAN SUPPORT AND SHARE DAILY. THE MORE YOU DO, THE BETTER YOUR CHANCES TO WIN! WE'LL PICK ONE WINNER FROM INSTAGRAM, AND ONE FROM FACEBOOK.

HAPPY HISPANIC/LATINX HERITAGE MONTH!








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