Tasha Tuesday Interview & Giveaway with Susan Evans McCloud

EDIT: This week’s winner is BECKY ADELMAN!

Hello friends, and welcome to another Tasha Tuesday! This week we continue to celebrate the beloved author, illustrator and lifestyle icon in the month that she would have turned 105 years old.

Each Tuesday this month, I will have a new Tasha Tuesday post, chatting about something Tasha Tudor related, and also a little bonus treat– I will be giving away a Tasha Tudor related prize each week as well. To enter to win the prize, you just leave a comment here on my blog, and/or on the corresponding instagram post on my instagram feed! You are welcome to comment in both places to increase your odds of winning. I am also so so thrilled to announce that I have a wonderful partner in these giveaways– Anokhi— who make gorgeous authentic Indian block printed scarves like the ones Tasha was famous for wearing. Anokhi is also a small, family run business that is now in it’s second generation. I know you will love them, I have several, and they are all beautiful!

Read through to the end to see what this week’s prize is, and a special thanks to Anokhi for being a part of Tasha Tuesday!

This week I have a VERY special post, an interview with a lovely friend of mine who was also a friend of Tasha Tudor’s for many years. Susan Evans McCloud is a prolific author of more than 50 books, including works of fiction, mysteries and biographies. She is also the author of two songs in the Latter-day Saint hymnbook, a mother of 6, grandmother and great grandmother. You can find our more about Susan and her work at her website, susanevansmccloud.com

Author Susan Evans McCloud

Susan formed a warm friendship with Tasha Tudor when Tasha visited Utah in the late 1980s that lasted for many years. After meeting at a doll museum event, Tasha sensed a kindred spirit in Susan and invited her to visit at Corgi Cottage. Today Susan has graciously joined us to share how she came to know this remarkable woman so many of us admire, and what she learned from her in the many years they shared a rich correspondence and also during Susan’s visits with. Susan has also kindly shared some of her personal photos of her time at Corgi Cottage here with us today, which are such treasures! I am so grateful to Susan for taking the time to chat with us, sharing her memories and her photos.

Without further ado, lets settle in with a cup of tea and a treat and chat with Susan Evans McCloud….

On Meeting Tasha Tudor

“I met Tasha Tudor in the spring of 1988 when she came to speak here in Provo, Utah. We had an enchanting Doll Museum here, with a little shop in the front that sold amazing reproductions of books, paper dolls, small toys, etc. The museum houses several large collections of dolls, was two stories high, with a portion in the back as well that housed larger toys.

“The woman who owned the museum, and the lovely old carriage house it sat in, is now dead — but in those  halcyon days it was a very grand place, and Shirley tried time and time again to get Tasha here, and finally came up with the idea of having her doll write to Tasha’s doll. That did the trick! Tasha was already scheduled to speak in Denver, Colorado, so she worked Utah in as well.

Susan’s photo of Tasha Tudor’s precious dolls, Captain Thaddeus Crain and Emma.

“Tasha spoke in the old tabernacle here, and it was thoroughly delightful. Afterward she signed books, but Shirley, being a friend, and my daughter, Heather, working for her at times in the museum, invited us to come to her house, where Tasha was staying and have her sign some of our books. I felt awkward and unsure, though she was very gracious. We did not stay long, as it was late and she was tired.

“However, the following day we all drove up to Salt Lake (about an hour from here, if you go all the way into the city), and I took Tasha on a tour of Brigham Young’s BEEHIVE HOUSE, as I was a docent there. She kept remarking: “Oh, I have one of those”, or “this is just like mine,” but in a nice way. Very enchanting experience, and she loved the quality of the restoration of the home.

“I gave her two or three of the books I have written, and that was the last I saw of her. UNTIL . . . a few weeks later when my phone rang and she was on the line! My son had answered it, and when I came on she said, “Susan, do you know who this is?” (TASHA HAS A LOVELY, MUSICAL VOICE WITH AN ENGLISH TYPE ACCENT, NOT NEW ENGLAND, AS HER CHILDREN HAVE.) Of course, I knew who it was! She praised my books, especially my poetry, and invited me to come and visit her in Vermont. I could scarcely believe it–she hardly knew me! but –that was the beginning. I had a daughter living in Boston at the time, so I was able to go to Jennie’s house, and she drove me the three hours or more to Brattleboro!

Staying At Corgi Cottage

 “It was truly, in every way, like stepping backward in time. We arrived on a stormy night, walked through the barn and storage rooms, the usual route, opened the door into, well, an area unlike anything “modern”–and not like a”cabin”, just a home that was built after a late 1700’s pattern, and everything in it useful, but somehow cozy.

“My two daughters were with me, and we all ate a little something, then went upstairs to sleep — each daughter in a separate little room,and I in the nice guest room.  Dark. No lights. Chamber pots which she expected to be used. My youngest daughter took her flashlight, made it to my room, and cuddled in with me! Good sleeping, though.

Susan in the antique bed of Tasha’s guest room at Corgi Cottage.


” The next morning Tasha fed the girls with us, and sent them on their way. She had already fed her “goat girls” and other animals — when staying with her I would arise about seven, but she had already done a lot before that. In the mornings I would do the dishes –lots of dishes, for she and I ate our dinner very late — between nine and ten at night. We ate in the BEST PARLOR with at least twenty candles lit, but no electricity. Our food plates sat on a low coffee table type table, or we held them on our laps. It was pure magic. We recited poems to each other, and she was delighted that I knew so many.

Susan and Tasha often dined by candlelight in Tasha’s “best parlor.”


“I had evening dishes, breakfast dishes, and “barn dishes” from feeding the new little goat children. I was careful — for in addition to the milk bottles for the babies and such, there were tea cups without handles — which she told me were pre-1830’s. I like to work, and I worked well, and that pleased her. Sometimes we would sit in the large back room by the fire, have tea and little cookies, and talk. She knew so many famous people — and her parents knew more. One amazing story after another.

Tasha’s vast collection of books at Corgi Cottage

“At times we had tea in the garden and we worked there — cutting dead blossoms,watering in places. Her gardens have been written up in articles and books, and they are amazing–looking natural, as if flowing here and there where they are supposed to, or standing in beautiful order in other places.
“We had small lunches. Actually, all her meals were small in portion. We “ate” often: breakfast, morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner. But I never rose from one of her meals really “full”–and I always lost weight when I was there.
“She showed me things of interest in her home, she showed me all the treasures in the attic! Twice we actually drove into Brattleboro and went to the grocery store, she dressed in her period work dress, with a kerchief over her hair, and people seemed to not notice her at all.”

Advice From Tasha

“Tasha loved life. She told me often, “Oh, wait until you get older. It is so much better.”

She seldom went into details, though at times she would say something like, “You can do whatever you want!” That sort of thing. She did say, “Oh,Susan, just wait until you are eighty. It is delightful.”  Because she talked that way, and looked at things that way, she made me just appreciate life and the simplicities that we often take for granted or, worse, do not really notice at all.”

A corgi peeking out the screen door to Tasha’s back porch.

Lessons From Tasha

“NAPS — I have six children, and I had never before napped. We would go upstairs every afternoon for an hour at least, usually longer. Well, I would go upstairs, Tasha back on the main floor to where her bedroom was. I would sometimes read in her father’s published poetry book (with the introduction written by Hawthorne’s son), or write in my journal — or rest and sleep! It was lovely indeed.

Tasha’s “best parlor” in Corgi Cottage

“I use many of her recipes,  or “receipts”, as she called them. Macaroni and cheese,of course (most of these are published in her cookbook). But I love Tasha Tea, which may not be there. You take a tall glass, squeeze 1/2 each of a lemon, and a lime, pour in about an inch of cold tea, fill up the remainder with ginger ale. Lots of little things like that. And thin tea sandwiches (with the bread sliced through lengthwise, so each slice is reduced to half. A bit crazy, but that’s how she always made sandwiches.For a long time I felt I was incorporating just a more gentle way of doing things.One other example. Tasha had her lovely green house, so at Valentine’s day she would bring in plants and  “fresh flowers” to festoon the room along with the Valentines. I do not have that, but for years I copied her example — even if I had to buy small flowering plants and hot house flowers. With ribbons and scattered valentines, old and new, it really did create a bit of a wonderland that my daughters loved.”

A table set up with summer treats on Tasha’s back porch.

Artistic Inspiration From Tasha

  “Being a writer, which was a little different from art work, I yet partook of this almost child-like wonder and delight in everything! I began to look even more closely than I had before at the simplest of things around me. I learned to be more free with my expression of my feelings and delight, not worrying about what others may think. I learned to be myself, and to use the beauty around me in all that I did — not only in my art.”

Tasha’s work table where she created many of her beloved paintings.

Susan’s Personal Advice To Women Pursuing a Creative Career While Raising A Family

“This is incredibly difficult to address, because every person is so very, very different; in what they are inside, what they desire, how they see reality, how they work (nights or mornings), what conditions help or hinder them, how slowly or quickly they work.

“I will try — by saying first: do not “slight” your children. Do not resent the time you have to spend with them. If you do, there will be no inner harmony within you–the harmony you need to create. Try different patterns until you see what works for you. I had a somewhat rare “open door policy” with my children. If I was writing and they needed me, they would come to the door and come in (my door was usually open) and I would interrupt myself. If I had just starting writing a section I’d been struggling over I would put my arm up or shake my hand at them and they knew not to interrupt. They would either stand there for a few minutes and wait, or run off and come back a bit later. It worked so beautifully with me, but it might not work with all for others.

“Some scheduling, if possible, I think is important: certain times of the day, or at least certain amounts of time each day. I often had a contract before my book was written, so I had a time constraint, and I knew I had X amount of pages to write that week. This also left me some flexibility. If there was a school program, if I wanted to sit and read for half an hour or go see a friend, or go off with my husband, I could do so — and then figure the amount of writing I would have to make up each day for the rest of the week.
“Love what you are doing. Have faith in yourself. Sometimes both of those are hard.
“I think of myself FIRST as a creator: before I was a spirit, before I can down to earth and got a body as a woman, before I became a mother — and yet — REMEMBER that your children’s lives are more brief than you think, and more precious–and eternal in nature: you are helping to form and nurture an eternal being. No work is more important than that. ” 

Looking out across the barn and out-buildings at Tasha’s home.

*******************************************************

Thanks again to Susan for sharing so much with us today for Tasha Tuesday! I hope you all enjoyed our visit with her, and check out her website and instagram page!

And now, for this week’s PRIZE!

This week’s prize includes a beautiful Indian block printed scarf from Anokhi and gorgeous muted tones of gray-green and salmon pink, as well as three notecards featuring Tasha Tudor’s artwork that are printed by Tasha Tudor and Family.

To enter to win, simply leave a comment on this post! You can also comment on the Sleightholmfolk instagram account on the corresponding photo to increase your chances of winning!

Winner will be chosen FRIDAY, which is also Tasha’s birthday! I am planning to another special Tasha post then! So please check back 🙂

And of course— Take Joy!
H

23 thoughts on “Tasha Tuesday Interview & Giveaway with Susan Evans McCloud

  1. Thank-you Heather for this wonderful interview post with Susan! It was beautiful to be able to hear first hand what it was like being a friend to Tasha and personally experience life with her. During the entire interview, I kept imagining myself trailing along observing and taking it all in, like little shadow. It is hard to imagine having that incredible friendship too. There seems to be no real mystery about Tasha’s ways, but rather a deep belief and dogged determination to live what felt like an authentic approach to living. She made no apologies for her differentness which also fueled her inspiration in her art. What an amazing and beautiful person Tasha was and how lucky people close to her were. Thankfully we have her books and art to treasure!

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  2. This is an absolutely beautiful post. I loved hearing about Susan’s experience visiting Tasha, but I also took a lot from Susan’s own words and advice. Thank you for sharing!

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  3. Thank you so much for providing this interview, and to Susan for sharing her experiences and photos. It gave me more insight into Tasha’s life and relationships. I can see I will be re-reading a lot of her work, and Susan’s as well, once the snow flies!

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  4. Oh, what a great post. I really enjoyed these descriptions of what it was like to be around Tasha and the things that Susan learned. I’m so going to try Tasha Tea! Thank you for this wonder adventure into Tasha world.
    blessings
    ~*~

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  5. I loved Susan’s comments on being creative while raising children. I’m not a mother yet, but she inspires me to think about the kind of mother I’d like to be!

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  6. I’ll have to try that lemonade recipe! This post nearly reads as if I was sitting with my great grandmother in her own way. Wonderful!

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  7. What a wonderful interview, thank you so much for sharing! I love what she says about parenting! This is the philosophy I have also used raising my son solo, working full-time and making time for creativity and homemaking!
    And I need to nap more!

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  8. I napped daily also for about 20 years of children! haha — I liked the advice about not resenting children – this is SO crucial for family relationships and I am glad that she shared it

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  9. I am one of Susan’s daughters neighbors (Morag). I have heard stories about Susan and have listened to her speak. I didn’t know she was friends with Tasha Tudor but it totally makes sense. They both seem to lead enchanting lives! I loved the interview. Thank you!

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  10. Thank you so much for educating us on this lovely woman. I have always loved her art, but now I feel that I love her, too.

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  11. I grew up hearing about Tasha Tudor I think from my mother, but it’s not until I picked up her cookbook that I’ve started to learn more about her. I’ve had the privilege of visiting Susan’s home a number of times and it has an old world feel itself, as of you’ve stepped back in time. I think you can definitely feel the subtle influence of Tasha there but with Susan’s own charm. Such a lovely article and a wonderful giveaway prize!

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  12. I grew up hearing about Tasha Tudor I think from my mother, but it’s not until I picked up her cookbook that I’ve started to learn more about her. I’ve had the privilege of visiting Susan’s home a number of times and it has an old world feel itself, as of you’ve stepped back in time. I think you can definitely feel the subtle influence of Tasha there but with Susan’s own charm. Such a lovely article and a wonderful giveaway prize!

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  13. oh how lovely this post is~!!! (I loved reading it and taking in every word!) What a wonderful way to celebrate Tasha’s 105th birthday! Well done Heather!!! And what a LOVELY last give-away. You’ve given me a lot to enjoy this August because of your posts! thank you so much dear one!

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  14. I seemed to spend more time creating when i had children around, it was easier to organise the days.You had to be at set places by set times, once the children were home from school unless i had a deadline, creating changed to children time.i loved that and having them around i still tell all mums enjoy your child, you have them with you for such a short time and time with them is so important.

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  15. What amazing recollections! Moving into the busy autumn and winter seasons, it’s a good reminder to cultivate some gentler ways doing and being.

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  16. Magical! Thank you for sharing this interview with Susan. I grew up in the same town as Susan and her doll collecting friend, Shirley. (My mother knew Shirey.) I have always been enchanted by Tasha Tudor and oh, how I would have adored knowing her! I feel like I do a little bit after reading this sweet post. Thank you!

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  17. Oh man, can you imagine being a guest at Corgi Cottage? What a dream. I have been to that doll mueseum in Utah she was talking about.

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