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Audrey Eclectic: A Year in Review

















   And so another year is coming to a close. It's a bit hard to believe, isn't it? It doesn't seem that long ago that I knitted that gray seed stitch scarf. But I love seeing the photos of my garden looking lush and green. And all the pumpkins of autumn. And the best of this beautiful Christmas season.

   There were lots of wonderful opportunities that came out of 2012--- gallery shows (Shades of Brown, Raw) and magazine features (Somerset Life, The Anglican Digest) and some great craft shows (Indie Emporium and The Little Craft Show)

   I really felt, this year, that I grew a lot and found my niche. To be honest, there were a few times early on in 2012 when I wondered where I was going with all this. If this was truly my purpose, or if I was just kidding myself. Now, at the end of 2012, I feel like I finally know where I'm going. And I'm excited and hopeful about it!

  Thank you for your help in support of this little painting endeavor. Your comments, purchases, and friendship has made creating for Audrey Eclectic so satisfying and wonderful. I cant wait to get up in the morning and start painting. And I'm proud that my skills and ideas can help put food on my table, pay for dance lessons, or fund little trips for my family. I couldn't do that without you all! So thank you so much, friends!

   I can't wait to share 2013 with you.

  Let's get started!~
On to 2013~~~
H

A review and givaway!


   Hi friends!~
     Just wanted to let you know that I'm featuring a great book over on Scandinavian Folk today-- and you can win a copy! Learn more about the book and see an interview with the author, Linda K. Hubalek HERE!

   Have a great weekend,
~H

Afterglow





    We are in the lazy afterglow of Christmas now. All seems to be quiet, the busy last minute rush of shipping out orders has passed. No getting up for school. Just laying lazy in the middle of the bed working on knitting with a pup and a girl watching cartoons. It's nice to indulge ever so often :)

   With the help of some Christmas money and a good sale at Loops, I have been knitting like a little busy bee. I completed my first set of mittens for Audrey and a matching hat (I'm very proud of the pom pom!) and I'm working on a pair of salmony pink mittens for myself. For someone who has such a love of red, I'm really getting into the coral colors lately. Hopefully that bodes well for spring-themed paintings!

   It's so hard to believe that 2013 is just around the corner! The year has really gone by so fast (except for that lull of the never ending hot as you-know-what summer) and I know in no time the daffodils will be popping up. Before then though, I hope we get a proper snow. And I hope that this two year drought lets up. And I hope to get lots of lovely knitting done, and good times spent with family and pups.

   ~h



~Merry Christmas~

 Dear Friends,
     I hope you have a wonderful Christmas today, full of peace and happiness and lots of time to do things you love. I full intend to cuddle in with some new books and a pup or two with a fire going-- whether we get the snow or not!
    I wanted to let you know how happy I am that you've come to visit me here over the past months (and years!) and how much I appreciate those of you who made Audrey Eclectic part of your holiday celebrations!
   Thank you, and may we all look forward to a happy and prosperous 2013!

   Til then, have a wonderful day and a wonderful winter season.
~H

Cozy Christmas





"The stockings are hung by the chimney with care" around here and we're settling in to the last few days until Christmas.
 It's cold and bright out at the moment. They say we might get snow Christmas night-- or might not. It changes every few hours it seems like. I'd love to see some snow though--- we didnt really get any last year and we're long overdue for any sort of water falling from the sky :)
We recently got some fresh wood and have been enjoying a nice toasty fire. There's nothing better than curling up by the fire with some music playing and a little family puttering around the house, and lazy dogs scattered around, enjoying the warmth.
I hope you and yours have a safe and lovely holiday. This time of year is full of such introspection, isn't it? I hope that 2013 brings an abundance of good things. I've got lots of plans, to be sure!

I'd also like to invite you to my new little Scandinavian blog-- Scandinavian Folk. It's going to be so much fun! Hope you'll stop by and join in :)

Til then, safe travels and happy holidays!~
~H

Tasha Tuesday: Becky's Christmas


    If there was ever a Christmas balm for the heart, a pretty and old fashioned story to nestle into and loose yourself in, It's Tasha Tudor's book "Becky's Christmas."
   Becky's Christmas is featured in the Tasha Tudor Christmas-themed special "Take Peace", and since hearing the excerpts and seeing the pictures there, I've wanted a copy of the book. The only problem was, it's out of print and costs a pretty penny. However, some times you can find reasonably priced used copies on Amazon, and that is finally what happened ($15!) It's a Christmas miracle!


     "Becky's Christmas" follows a little girl named Becky as she prepares for Christmas-- secretly making presents for her family, going out to the snowy forest to collect greenery for decorating the old farm house, making a creche in the fire place, baking cookies with her family, and the general anticipation of the holiday in a very sweet and simplistic way.

   You know Becky's never been to Toys 'R Us or the mall. And you love her for it.



   This story is of a pretty good length, just shy of being a chapter book. There's a lot of text and a lot of detail in the story, which I love, but which might also be a little long for young readers. For a little one like mine, who is a kindergartener, it might be a story you'd want to break up to read for two or three nights. But for an older child, who is mastering longer stories, I think this will be a real treasure. I know I would have loved it when I was about 8 or 9.


   "Becky's Christmas" is, quite simply, some of Tasha's finest work. The story is rich in detail and simple excitement. There's not a lot of gushing or fluff, but it's easy to feel Becky's anticipation, her excitement at mastering new things so she can create gifts for her family, her joy in being part of her family and the simple happiness of the holiday.
   If you are in search of simple ways to celebrate Christmas, I think this book would be a wonderful addition to your evening reading! Definitely a book to cherish and come back to year after year~


A happy Tasha Tuesday to you~
~H




   I sent my baby to school this morning with a bit of a wobbly heart. She, of course, was all smiles and ready to go. A new sequined hat ("so fashion!" as she says) and time to play with her friends. She doesn't know about the things on grown-ups minds today. Why we take little faces in our hands and look for long moments or give extra kisses. Why we'll be imagining them, safe and secure all day, as if by doing so, we can will it so. For our lucky little ones, it's another bright day, another day closer to Christmas.

   It's tricky business, writing my post, because I don't want to dwell on sad things-- yet I don't want it to seem as if I'm just marching happily on, ignoring any sadness in the world. So I'm going to find the middle way-- and dwell on the hope there is out there. The light that insists on shining in the darkness. The knowledge that while one person acted violently and maliciously, many many others acted nobly-- selflessly, and still others reach out with compassion, generosity, and sympathy.

   I believe that there is so much more good in the world than bad. Because no matter how many times bad happens--- good always shows up.

   May we all be surprised by goodness in the coming days. May we take this bad moment and shatter it with positive action-- renewed love for our families and neighbors, more patience and love shown to our children, looking with new eyes on this holiday season and seeing the real meaning-- the simple meaning. 

   Wishing peace to all today~
~H

Celebrating the holidays around the country!~

   First of all--- thank you so so much to my friends who took part in the St. Lucia Blog Procession! It was so much fun and I loved each and every post! You all did a fantastic job, and I hope everyone had fun visiting the various blogs! It was so much fun, and something I hope we can do each St. Lucia Day!~

   Speaking of St. Lucia and all the other holiday pieces I've done, I have some fun news to share with you all. Audrey Eclectic artwork could be showing up at a church or a shop near you!~

   Several of my paintings have been lent with my permission for various churches around the country to use for special event programs, and I thought I'd take a moment to highlight those paintings being used and the churches they will appear at:


St. Lucia
Grand Rapids, Michigan
Smorgasbord and St. Lucia Procession 


Madonna of the Blossoms
United States 



Madonna and Child in Blue
Christmas Eve service
Washington, D.C. 



Saint Nicholas

Saint Nicholas Day Festival
my church in Oklahoma

St. Nicholas Day
Washington, D.C.


And to top it all off, I have some great shopping news--- you can now find my cards for sale at Dala Bird, a new sweet little shop that focuses on Scandinavian items in Northfield, Mass. After the holidays, it will also have an online presence that anyone around the country (and world, I'm sure!) can shop at.

  I'm very happy to be sharing this wonderful news with you all. And so glad that so many of you have embraced my artwork and chosen to make it part of your Christmas. It makes me feel humble and thankful. Thank you, so much, for your love and support!

Wishing you a merry and peaceful Christmas,
~Heather

A Prayer


Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for your love's sake. Amen.




The St. Lucia Blog Procession!~

     Hello there, my friends! And welcome to what I hope will be the first of many St. Lucia Blog Processions here at Audrey Eclectic! This is a special day-- not only because it is "Santa Lucia Day", but also because it is a chance for us to get to know each other a little better and indulge ourselves a bit in Scandinavian culture, heritage, baking, crafts, paintings, books....you name it! At the bottom of this page (complete list of participants are in the side bar) you will find links to all the other blogs who are participating in this world-wide procession. Please grab yourself a good cup of hot coffee, a yummy pastry, and follow the procession as we all share our love of all things Scandinavian!


    Now for my post in the procession.....

       This past weekend we indulged in some serious Swedishness. I tried my best not to clap my hands and screech, play it cool, you know. But there were Lucias and tomtes and pastries everywhere you look! We went Saturday morning to the Lucia Fest in Lindsborg, Kansas a sweet and beautifully little town nestled in the midst of the Kansas prairie. It still has cobblestone streets and beautiful old houses. And there's not a McDonald's or Walmart to be found! 
     I think Lindsborg is such an interesting place, so embracing of its strong Swedish heritage and drawing Swedes,Swedish-Americans and Swedish-lovers  alike to walk its quiet streets and pop into their little shops.
   The Lucia Fest was a special day though, and two Lucias were featured that day--- the first (and the one I got photos of) was the elementary school Lucia and Star Boy and later the high school age Lucia was crowned.

   There was candle light (both real and battery operated) and lots of singing. I was impressed at how well those kids could fill up Bethany Lutheran Church there on Main Street with their little voices. Afterward, Audrey and I (and maybe even Will?) couldn't get the Santa Lucia song out of our heads! It's so very sweet.

Speaking of St. Lucia and sweet things, we also got a lesson in how to make proper St. Lucia buns and the different shapes they make. These buns are made with saffron, which gives them their yellow color. It is also, I learned, the most expensive spice in the world! $1,000 a pound. Yeah, that's why a tiny vial at the grocery store is $17. Stuff ain't cheap!
   According to our instructor at the bakery, the different shapes you can make a St. Lucia Bun in includes the traditional backwards "S" shape, a Lucia Braid, the Bishop's Locks (bottom left, looks like a beard!), Lucia's crown (bottom right) and the Julbock (above the Lucia crown, looks like a goat's face with horns.) 


Later that day some of the teens from town paraded down Main Street in their traditional dancing clothes and put on a performance in the middle of the street. We sat down on the curb and watched the folk dancing-- it looked like a lot of fun! And like it required some good upper-body strength! ;) 




  When we saw down we had no idea that we sat right beside Danzel, who is also part of the St. Lucia Blog Procession! Small world, isn't it? I wish I would have known! I'm curious to see her photos, I will be fun to see the day from someone else's perspective!

  Of course while we were there I shopped like it was going out of style. I figured I would not be in proximity to so much Swedish stuff for a good long time, so I stocked up! I bought some straw ornaments for my little Swedish Christmas tree, a julbock (straw goat) some Carl Larsson note cards (love him!) and a bouquet of wheat to hang from my fence post for winter birds to enjoy. Will and Audrey also got some Swedish treats, and I'm so glad we all had a good time on "mama's little Swedish holiday."

  If you'd like to learn more about the Scandinavian tradition of St. Lucia (Who is technically Italian...long story)
  Please visit HERE or read Wendy's great post about St. Lucia HERE.
  And if you have a blog post you'd like to attach to the procession, please feel free to add it and a graphic to the linky tool below!

  Everyone else--- I hope you will follow along with the procession (see sidebar for participants!) and enjoy this lovely holiday of the good-hearted Lucia and learn some more about our blogging friends around the world!

God Jul!~
Heather


PS: I've been working on a new project! And it starts today! It's called...Scandinavian Folk! And this is it: Scandinavian Folk. Check it out!~


A reminder and a sale~


   Just a friendly reminder! This Thursday, Dec. 13 is the St. Lucia Blog Procession! All are welcome to participate and read along as we take our procession around the world with lovers of all things Scandinavian!

  Also--- I just added some new originals to my etsy shop, and marked down prices on several more, just in time for Christmas! So if you've had your eye on an original piece....this is a great time to snap it up!

   Thanks so much for those of you who stop by to visit with me and also make Audrey Eclectic part of your holiday festivities! 

   Talk soon!~
~H

Tasha Tuesday: Capturing the art of Christmas

   In all her books and illustrations, Tasha Tudor was a master of all seasons, but to me--- Christmas is where she shines. In her winter and holiday pieces, she really captures something that speaks to the soul. It's quiet. It's homespun. It's filled with family and animals. It's of a time long ago yet somehow very familiar. It's like something you remember from childhood. And she manages to get that feeling across in every painting.



  What always amazes me about Tasha's art is the amount of detail. All the little pieces of kitchen utensils, the tools hanging from the fire place mantle, the little mittens and hats, the birds and cats and rabbits tucked into unsuspecting corners. It's a lot of inspiration for me as an artist, to look at her paintings. As a reader and mama, I enjoy the stories that come with them too.




  Do you have a favorite Tasha Tudor holiday book, or a particular holiday painting? Do tell!
And have a wonderful Tasha Tuesday!~
~H

* All illustrations in this post by Tasha Tudor.

* Who is Tasha Tudor? Click HERE to find out!

Back from Sweden (In Kansas)


        You know you've found someone who really loves you when they'll indulge you in your quirky passions. Or drive you 4 hours across the state line so that you can bask in the glow of all things Swedish Christmas. I am happy to report I have that kind of love!

    I saw all the pretty things I'd longed to--- Tomtes! Julbocks! Straw ornaments! Lucias! Lots of Lucias! Now I'm back home, trying to sort out my disaster of house (how does it get so dirty when we're not even home?) and catching up on orders. It's only fitting that so many of my Lucias were purchased when I was at the Lucia Fest!

   While there we had a lesson on how to make Lucia Buns, but the real love I developed was for Kringlers-- so much so that last night I made a batch myself, and they turned out pretty darn good! They are like fluffy pastries with a custard top covered in a simple icing and almonds. The whole thing is almond flavored and pretty dreamy when pared with a cup of hot coffee.

   I did take a ton of photos--- which I will be sharing with you all on Thursday for the St. Lucia Blog Procession! Anyone and everyone is welcome to take part, and I'm so excited to see what everyone comes up with. For more info, check HERE.

   Well, a very merry December to you. I hope things are nice calm, merry and bright. I know it is so easy to feel like we have to gallop through these days until Christmas....I'm trying to reign myself in and enjoy. It's HARD. But worth it.

God Jul!~
~H