Hi to all and thank you for taking time to visit my web site.
My name is Karen Challender and I am the owner/creator of
Karens Kottage, online since May 2003..
Here's a little bit about me:
I worked in office positions for over 20 years...I always longed to make a living doing something I loved, but I never had that opportunity until I met and married my husband, John... He has been very understanding and patient with my need to do this... Whenever I have a problem with a product, he's right there trying to figure out how we can make it work.. He has patiently taught me how to use a bandsaw, a table saw and a sander. He makes cuts for me, builds work benches for me and runs me all over the place trying to find a certain fabric, the right size screw or anything else I happen to need. He's been nothing short of a blessing to me and I appreciate his support and understanding more than he will ever know.

When I started my web site, I was 49, looking at 50 just around the corner and knew that there had to be more out there than working 9-5 for Corporate America... I have now crossed that big bridge (the 50 year old one) and still feel the same way about not working for Corp. America... As most crafter's realize, making a living selling your crafts is a very up and down process... some months are great...some slow.... it's a lot of hard work, takes up a lot of your time, but most importantly, it's rewarding,it's fun and you can't beat it!!  It's amazing to me that when I worked for Corp America, I couldn't wait for that magic time to go home at the end of the work day... But now, I start working when I get up in the morning, work on projects off and on all day long and usually end up working till midnight.. I never get tired of this.

How did I become so interested in arts and crafts? I come by it naturally! My grandparents both oil painted, my mother is very creative in many ways.. She does beautiful pencil drawings, sews, knits, paints and for the last couple of years, she's been doing wonderful wood carvings.. I don't think my dad really thinks he's contributed to my sisters and my creativity, but he really has. My dad built their home 50 years ago by himself... He's always thought of ways to make good use of small space, he figures out very clever ways to fix problems and he's always working at updating something in their homes... He's really a very creative person. Being brought up by two creative people created 4 creative daughters!

I have 4 grown children and 7 grandchildren (soon to be 8) and they are all creative in their own right, especially my oldest grandson, Zach, who is 14 and very, very artistic. I've added a piece of one of Zach's art work below. He drew it when he was only 7..He doesn't copy pictures, he doesn't trace, he just gets an idea in his head and draws it. Notice how the bear is walking away but turns to see the fish. How does a 7 year old know how to draw that??

My husband has 2 grown sons and 3 grandchildren. We also have 2 daughter in laws, a girlfriend in law and a son in law (who we are very proud to say is in the U.S. Army)....so between us, we have a very large family!!

I was born and raised in Michigan, and other than a few years spent in Ohio and Indiana, I've spent the majority of my life here. Michigan is a beautiful state, all year round, and a great inspiration for an artist. We have gorgeous summers, beautiful falls, wonderful white winters and springs that make us feel like we're blooming all over again. If you'd like to read some interesting information about Michigan, please be sure to click here

Over the last few years I've learned more than I ever imagined possible from other web site owners, found out the hard way what you have to do to get your web site moved up in the ranks and realized it is anything but simple!! I've had some frustrating days, but it's been worth every minute of it...
It's been a great adventure and I hope to keep at this for a very long time....

I've met some incredibly nice and interesting people, via cyber space, over the last 7 1/2 years.... That's probably the nicest part of having a web site...exchanging emails with people from all around the world!!

My husband is in supervision/management in the automotive industry. His plant lost 2/3 of their job orders in December 03, and 2 weeks before Christmas, he and many others were put on an indefinite layoff.....When they didn't start calling anyone back by January, he knew it would never happen ...Within a month, he was offered a job at a company "Up North"... We weren't sure we wanted to move that far away from our family members, didn't really want to sell our home we loved but didn't see much in the way of job opportunities in our area, so we decided to make the move..

When we first moved up here, we couldn't find the home we really wanted so we ended up renting a house on Higgins Lake. Six months later, we found a rental house that was much bigger, much better suited to our needs and in a beautiful wooded location...so we moved twice in a 6 month period...One year later, quite by accident, we found the perfect home for us located in a very private, wooded location with State forest land all around us. By this time, we were in love with the peace and tranquility of Up North living, so we purchased the home and moved yet again! I love to remodel and this house was like a blank canvas, so perfect!! We've turned our home into, what feels to us, like a rustic get away we get to live in every day...

After so many moves, some major health issues for my husband and his retirement from the automtotive world (yeah!), we are finally at a point where we feel like our lives are back to normal again... The big plus is, it is absolutely gorgeous up here....We have deer that come right into our backyard to eat the food we leave out for them. We've had numerous large flocks of turkeys coming here over the summer with their little baby's, so we've been able to watch them grow from little guys to almost as big as their mom's, we have cute little chipmunks who sit on our deck and watch Tomi with as much fascination as he has for them.. We have squirrels who come up to our screened in porch and peek through the screen to watch us...we think they may be people watching!!  We've had a family of "Storks" visiting our little garden pond this summer, undoubtedly, looking for gold fish! We have woodpeckers and birds galore eating from our feeders, not to mention a big black Michigan bear who spent a couple of weeks visiting us at night and cleaning out the bird feeders this past summer.. It even made a special appearance one evening right outside our screened in porch where he and our dog, who is also named Bear, were nose to nose with just a screen between them...

Life moves at a slower pace up here and almost seems like we've stepped back in time 10 years or so... People don't lock their doors or worry about unwanted intruders... It's a much simpler way of life! The water that comes out of our faucet is pure and tastes like the spring water we used to pay big bucks for, the air smells fresh and clean and other than Holiday weekends, there isn't much traffic to deal with...

I look forward to many future years of working on the website, meeting new people from all over the world and seeing where this adventure takes me.

I hope you enjoy looking through my website. You will find my oil paintings, handmade dolls, handpainted candles and cat lovers gifts and accessories, including cat tents, cat box privacy screens and my new website dedicated to just Karens Kids...I've also added a couple of new items including Special Angel Doll's (for kids with special needs), Sweet Pea Girls and Sweet Pea Doll Clothes.

Please come back anytime! I'm always here.... 24/7....and my internet doorway is always open!
Karens Kottage
Art From The Heart
A little bit about me
Art work by Zachary Brown, age 7