The Gift of Creativity

Every few months we’ll get a brown package delivered to our home. When we notice the return address, we squeal, jump, flail our arms, or twirl. Yes, both of us. Don’t judge.

You see, if you have a person like Shalene in your life, you understand. Shalene, Daniel’s stylish younger sister, sends us incredible, delectable care packages for Birthdays or holidays.

Each one of Shalene’s packages is unique and makes us feel happy. Think miniature garden gnomes,  Theo Chocolate bars with seasonal flavors (in this month’s package? A fresh bar with coconut + curry infusions), and prints or products from artists like Nikki McClure. How does she do it? Well, Shalene is a buyer for a small boutique in Seattle called Portage Bay Goods, which abounds with witty and whimsical  products by local artists. If you stop by, give Shalene a hug for us!

Despite that Shalene is the best shopper ever, the most amazing gift we’ve ever received from her was something she made herself. From concept to creation, these are Shalene’s original, one-of-a-kind works:

Yes, those are matryoshka dolls, also known as Babushka dolls or Russian nesting dolls. Except, Shalene painted them to look like sea creatures!! Here’s the view from the back:

We display these prized creatures in a vintage Japanese étagère, which belonged to my Grandmother. This seems to match the elements of the matryoshka dolls: colorful, with both classic and modern elements.

On the top shelf, you’ll notice another set of matryoshka dolls in the form of glasses, which were an earlier gift from Shalene. The bottom shelf grounds the quirkiness with traditional china teacups.

Here’s a closer look at the matryoshka doll glasses:

Anyway, back to Shalene’s amazing sea creatures! The most fun part about matryoshka dolls is that you carefully pull them apart, one by one, to discover the treasure inside. Usually, its a bigger Russian girl with progressively smaller Russian girls inside. But Shalene is creative, so she started by painting the cutest octopus you’ve ever seen:

Next, comes the walrus! Seriously, its so fun opening these to find another creatures inside, like a hidden treasure.

Inside the walrus, a lovable lobster…

Which has an adorable baby seal nestled inside of it…

And the matryoshka doll is complete with a teeny-tiny jellyfish in the middle!

So, here’s how Shalene pulled this off. She ordered plain wooden matryoshka dolls (made in Russia), which she then painted herself after conceptualizing the creatures. The dolls are hollow to leave room for the nestled creatures within:

And that, my friends, is one of the most unique, creative gifts we have ever been given.

We posted today in hopes of not only showcasing an awesome gift, but also to inspire creativity in all of you. Whether through photography or paining matryoshka dolls there are countless ways to be creative.

How are you expressing yourself creatively? We’d love to see in your comments below!

We believe that creative expression is therapeutic, relational, and life-giving. Photography has literally changed our lives. Through our photography, we’ve gained treasured friendships, witnessed powerful moments, and been humbled as others welcomed us into their lives to celebrate their love. Capturing unforgettable memories and emotions is something that we wouldn’t trade for the world. And we hope that you experience that joy as well.

And that, my friends, leads us to… our big announcement!

Daniel is now offering personal photography lessons!

If you resonate with any of the following scenarios, you may want to consider photography lessons:

  1. You want to take better pictures of your children, significant other, or pet pig Olivia.
  2. You want to develop your creative eye and and hone your photographic instincts.
  3. You want to learn what those other camera dials, knobs and buttons do.
  4. You are looking to learn from someone with a great deal of patience and the heart of a teacher.

By the way, a personal photography lesson is also a fantastic gift idea! Or—better yet—a great date idea!

If this post inspired you to learn to take better photos and you’d like some help, click the ‘Contact Us‘ button right below this post. We’d love to hear from you!


daniel + megan

Shalene - February 23, 2011 - 10:55 am

Aww, thanks, guys! What a great compliment. I’m glad you’re enjoying them. :)

Brittany Machado - February 23, 2011 - 11:28 am

So wonderful!!! this is great news!!!

Mom Lundgren - February 23, 2011 - 12:50 pm

What a wonderful tribute to your talented sister!
Brought tears to my eyes…

Melanie Dosen - February 23, 2011 - 12:56 pm

Those are soooo lovely! I am a big sucker for matryoshka dolls, and really anything Russian! I’ll make sure to visit your sister’s shop if I ever venture up to Seattle!

Lisa Pileggi - February 23, 2011 - 1:12 pm

That was such a lovely blog; I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. Isn’t being creative so therapeutic? I think I may pick up pottery again in the summer. :)

daniel + megan - February 23, 2011 - 11:32 pm

Lisa, thanks for reading! Pottery sounds incredibly therapeutic – I hope you do take it up again this Summer. We had a professor in grad school who taught entire lectures on the similarities between throwing a pot and providing therapy.

daniel + megan - February 23, 2011 - 11:34 pm

Melanie, we thought of you when we posted this (knowing your love of all things Russian)!

daniel + megan - February 23, 2011 - 11:35 pm

Hi Mom!
Yes, Shalene is very talented. We’re grateful.

daniel + megan - February 23, 2011 - 11:36 pm

Thanks for your support Brittany! We love when you comment on the blog!

daniel + megan - February 23, 2011 - 11:36 pm

Thanks for being wonderful!

Melinda Lundgren - February 24, 2011 - 10:56 am

Creative expression these days includes:
~working up some magical massage recipes sculpted to relax, inspire, evoke an open heart, and empower the receiver
~honing my cat-communication skills
~dance dance dance to the Dubstep!

Melinda Lundgren - February 24, 2011 - 10:59 am

P.S. I love my nesting dolls too! Shalene gifted me with some of my totem animals: Whale, Moose, Horse, Owl, and Bee. Thank you sister! And thanks D & M for this post. Love it!

Carolyn Lundgren - February 24, 2011 - 1:59 pm

I love the matryoshka dolls that Shalene painted! Very creative!!

daniel + megan - February 24, 2011 - 9:30 pm

Carolyn, Yes, she is is creative! Thanks for checking out our website, too!

daniel + megan - February 24, 2011 - 9:34 pm

Melinda, thanks for sharing your current creative outlets. Those sound wonderful.
We saw a photo of your nesting dolls from Shalene! Its amazing how different she made each of ours, each one truly unique. We hope you + Dave are well!

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