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Tasha Tuesday

Well I am happy to report-- it's finished! The Tasha Tudor shawl has been completed, and it's even still winter! How about that? I think it came out well for a first time shawl. It's pretty much even, at any rate, and I love the soft lamb/alpaca blend that the yarn was made of. This shawl used two skeins, although I think the next shawl I make will be bigger, this is a nice shoulder warmer that falls to the middle of my back.

The pattern was super simple and basic. You start with two stitches and the on the next row you yarn over the first stitch and yarn over the last stitch. You yarn over every other row and not only does it increase in a triangle shape naturally, it creates a simple sort of ruffley-scalloped edge.

I'm pleased that the color and shape are very reminiscent of the shawl Tasha was often photographed in. It'll be good for having to go outside first thing on chilly mornings. My animals have no patience when it comes to getting their breakfast!

So, what do you think? Have you ever knitted a shawl? What are your favorite things to knit? I think one day I'd like to knit up some mittens. I'll have to wrap my mind around it first though :)


Edgar & Alice

Well, here they are, Edgar and Alice. I think they're a dashing pair, don't you? Everything can't be all sweet and spring time all the time, can it? Gotta throw a crow and black dress in there to mix things up ever so often, right?

This was the painting that was on my desk a couple of posts ago when I was still working on it. It's been a long time since I painted a crow....and I did this one a little differently than I used to, what with it's wide and curious eye, but I like it. Sure, it's a lot of black, but it's not foreboding, right?

I put this painting up on etsy so it can find a new home. Maybe with you?

There once was a cowgirl...

They say that all girls love horses, and I think that for my girl, that is especially true. She's always loved playing with little toy horses and coloring them in her color books, and seeing them put to pasture as we drive down country roads.

Yesterday we got to see the real live animals when we spent most of the day at a local ranch for a friend's birthday party. All the kids loved seeing these huge, beautiful, gentle animals. And I confess, I got in my snuggle time with a particularly gentle horse or two. Suddenly I felt five again as well and was a little sorry I didn't get a chance to ride!

Audrey was terrible excited by it all and not the least bit shy or afraid of the animals. She plopped right up in the saddle and sat tall and regal as any little rider would. She trotted around on two large horses and then wanted more. This is how being a cowgirl begins, I suppose.


The High Kings - Will Ye Go Lassie Go

Sure, they're technically talking about foliage...but finally! Finally a song that mentions my name!

Vindicated by a Scottish melody :)

Friday plans

Good morning!~
Well, here it is friday, the end of the week. I hope you have some fun planned for the weekend.
Also, thanks so much for all your niceness in the last couple of posts. I am feeling better about things. It also helps that every day more little bulbs sprout up, the weather warms and the sky gets springtime blue. It's almost here, and as much as I love the quiet hibernation of winter, the arrival of spring is always such a happy change.

I'm working on a couple of paintings right now that have utterly nothing to do with springtime ;) isn't that always the way? On my Audrey Eclectic facebook page I was chatting with you all about whether you like the spooky or sweet art best, and overwhelmingly you all said spooky! So I thought it was high time to add a little spookyness to the repertoire, don't you think? You can't go wrong with crows, right?

Well, I've got some house cleaning to do and a few errands to run, and then I'll sit down to paint. If you haven't been in to check, I've added several new original pieces to my etsy shop as well as several new prints. Hope you stop in to browse!

Have a good weekend,

These are a few of my favorite things...

When the dog bites! When the bee stings! When your house doesn't sell....

Thanks for indulging me a bit yesterday. I've just been really down about the house situation, but I do know that I am very lucky for so many reasons, and there are so many things that I love that are around me all the time that I need to enjoy instead of fretting. Things like....

1. Fuzzy little creatures! At the moment we have 3 rabbits and two dogs. This is a photo of one of the tiny rabbits from our litter last winter. Audrey is holding him, this was the little gray one. What a sweet boy he was! I was glad, though, that all the baby buns except the one we kept found good homes.

2. Good books. The only downside is that there will never be enough time in life for me to read all the wonderful books there are, as well as reread my favorites. I can always give it my best shot, though! I am enamored with the Brontes, and love my copy of The Secret Garden illustrated by Tasha Tudor. Right now I'm reading a biography of Lucy Maud Montgomery and its fascinating. I love old timey ladies and old timey books.

3. I love the Ozarks and this is my favorite haunted hotel. Yes, I do have a favorite! If it were possible to do wedding do-overs I think I'd have a halloween wedding here. We actually visited this place on our honeymoon and took the ghost tour on Halloween night. Did I mention that my husband is a very good sport?

4) Downton Abbey. Of course. I admit, this is my go-to self medication for a bad mood. The clothes! The house! The colors! The love stories! The social portraits! I love it all. Sure, it is a soap opera. But its the best made soap opera I've ever seen. And the characters are so well written and played. No one is a flat 'good guy' or 'bad guy.' They've all got their good and dark sides. I find myself rooting for O'Brien and Thomas to find their way, get over themselves, and be happy and behave. And thank goodness Mary and Matthew got together. One less thing to fret about ;)

5) Spooky stuff. I love spooky stuff. A little sweet, a little macabre. I love slightly creepy old photos. Vintage style halloween decor. I don't much care for gruesome, but I do enjoy something a little spine tingling. That's why I love halloween. That's why our wedding was so close to that holiday, in fact. So we could always enjoy it!

6) Homey things. I love wild vines, cottage gardens, laundry on the line and a nice clear blue day. This photo was from over the summer, its so nice to see my backyard in its lush and green state. Now the gourds that were on the fence have been picked and are hanging on the porch to dry. They're coming along nicely!
7) A good book and nice hot drink. I admit, I can drink cocoa and coffee year round, at any time of day or night. There's just something so nice and comforting about it. I also enjoy curling up with a nice big book with beautiful photos and writing. I'm a visual person, so I think it's so inspiring.
8) Knitted pretty things. I love to knit. I wish I was better at it. I make a lot of mistakes. But I love yarn so much. I always have high hopes for what it will become! I'm still working on my shawl, hopefully I'll finish it before its the middle of summer! I love the soft gray of this yarn and the scarf is one of my favorites. Love a good seed stitch.
I also love being able to come here to this little blog and share with you the things I create and the things that capture my fancy and imagination at the time. The truth is, I'm a bit of a shy person. But that doesn't matter when I'm sharing with you all here and you're all so nice and supportive. It's a pleasure to talk with you and share with you. I wanted to let you know, too, that I plan to make more of an effort to respond to each of your comments on each particular post. I've done that for the last couple of posts and I intent to keep it up as best I can. I think we'll have an even better rapport then.

And as always, thank you for stopping by to see me. It makes me happy. Come again soon!~

The Truth of the Matter

One of my pet peeves are blogs where the writer or artist attempts to make it sounds like everything is fantastic and wonderful and full of epiphanies and loveliness at all times, when you know that can't be the case. But on the other hand, I do like to keep my whining to a minimum on here because that's not really what this blog is about.

I just wanted to be truthful and real with you because I'm having a hard time. It is of course of my own making in deciding to try to sell our house in the middle of winter, really because I couldn't take one more moment without some sort of change.

For better or for worse, I tend to be the type of person who when they're done with something, they are done. For about two years now I have been 'patiently' (which means not patiently) waiting for the terrible mess of the housing market to improve. Well, it never did. So I decided the reckless route would be good enough, so I cleaned this place like my life depended on it, packed away so many things, and crossed my fingers and waited. And waited. And waited. That seems to be where this story stalls.

I spend a lot of time redesigning make-believe old houses and gardens in my imagination. I ponder new color schemes and new adventures. I think I crave a new adventure and my "do it right now" personality grates against the terrible waiting game that this has become. I know that this is probably supposed to make me a better and more patient person. Perhaps our 'dream home' isn't ready to be ours yet, so we wait. But I am such a worrier. I am also impetuous, so all this sitting around thinking about it all drives me a little crazy.

Not that there's much to be done about this. But its where I am now. And I wanted to be frank about the bitter with the sweet. Because it's there, for all of us. Thanks for listening. I'll be more upbeat tomorrow~

Tasha Tuesday

Like clockwork, it never fails. It gets to be late February and the promise of approaching spring has me digging through my gardening books and dreaming of a summer when everything isn't burning to bits in the relentless heat--- but green and lush and bountiful. It's the time to lose myself in Tasha's garden.

I dream of a yard with trees. With pretty wild gardens and blooms in impossibly large heaps turning their faces to the sun. I love the dark earthy greens and browns offsetting the delicate yellows and pinks and blues.

For now I will enjoy the little pot of daffodils on the kitchen table, and watch as the fresh green leaves of my bulbs pop up in my little garden, and hope that perhaps the snows and hard frosts just decided not to come this year. It's uneasy to have a winter that never came. But I hope spring comes in full force. I am ready.

Happy Tasha Tuesday.

*Book photographed in this post is "Tasha Tudor's Garden"

Natural Beauty: Honey and Spice Mask

So for about a week now I've been keeping up my homemade beauty routine, which consists of drinking a cup of barley water a day (as in, just a tea cup full) and putting this rather lovely and goopy and literally tasty mask on each night. It's another recipe that I found on pinterest with the original post being found HERE.

I have to say, I think this mask is my favorite so far of my new beauty routine because you can see the results almost instantly. When I started using it my skin was dry and a little red and blotchy mainly from all that skin goes through in the winter. The mask is really simple-- you mix together about 2 tbsp of honey with about 1 tsp each of cinnamon and nutmeg and then smear it all over your face-- especially your cheeks, chin and forehead. Go ahead and take a taste, it's delicious! Can't say that about most beauty products!
You leave the mask on for about half an hour (you might want to check yourself in the mirror a few times to make sure you're not dripping, haha) and then just gently scrub it all off with a wet wash cloth.

The honey seems to sooth and moisturize the skin while the spices give a gentle exfoliation. So not only do you help with the dried out winter skin, you also decrease redness and sooth. Afterwards I use a homemade toner made of apple cider vinegar and water that you can read about HERE and moisturize. It's very gentle, very decadent, and very much within the contents of the average pantry. There's also not a chemical in sight, which is a very good thing :)

Next up I'm really interested in making up some homemade soap and perhaps even homemade lotion.

Hope you enjoyed a little more homemade beauty!~

Rowena from the British Isles

Lately I've been immersing myself in all things British, and not just because I'm a wee bit obsessed with Downton Abbey (it's just a symptom, if you ask me) My ancestry search has led me to the rural moors and dales of North Yorkshire on my husband's side, and my own side has revealed an urban Irish surprise with an Irish knight out of Dublin. I love the feeling of a quiet connection to lands and people far away, connections hidden behind a pale complexion and freckles and a soft spot for gray misty days.

With all this stewing away in my little brain, I've been painting quite contentedly to the Kate Rusby channel on Pandora and working on a couple of pieces-- the piece above, Rowena, being the first to share.

I wanted to paint something that someone could look at and feel an immediate and instant connection to their own past with. Perhaps there is a wild-haired redhead with dreamy green eyes in your past or mine. Who knows? Could be!

Of course when I painted Rowena, I did so with the idea that she would go to someone who really loved her. I hope she strikes a chord with someone out there, who never knew they needed her til they saw her. That's my favorite thing about painting, to be sure! If you're curious about Rowena, or would like to see other images of her, please visit her in my etsy shop.

Thank you for stopping in today. It's nice to have you here!
Til next time,

Natural Beauty: Barley Water

Lately I've been seriously looking into homemade and natural alternatives to beauty products. After last summer's horrific run-in with some laundry detergent I had a violent reaction to (I still have marks from it, and it's been 6 months now) I've been on a mission to find alternatives to chemicals I'm putting in and on my body.

My skin also seems to be at its worst in the winter--- drying out from heat and cold, and reacting badly to mad swings in the weather, and after trying several products from the store that didn't seem to help much, I decided to research some old-timey ways that women took care of their skin and their health. I thought it would be fun to talk about here, and so I wanted to share with you this rather ancient concoction-- barley water.

My friend Jenny sent me
this link the other day about the beauty benefits of barley water, which I later learned has a whole host of other benefits, including everything from kidney and stomach health to infant nutrition. The article on barley water was submitted as a beauty trick out of Ireland, and as the girl in the photo has coloring almost identical to my own, I thought I'd make it. I followed the instructions of the article in boiling half a cup of barley for a little over an hour and then added several oranges and a couple of lemons. The article suggests adding a bit of brown sugar to sweeten, but I chose to add a little bit of honey for my sweetener and it came out fine.
After some finagling with a strainer and a second pot, I scooped the fruit out of the water and then strained the barley out separately. Its a shame to waste the barley, so I saved it to use in making some bread or adding to a soup. I added the fruit back into the mixture and poured it in a pitcher and set it aside to cool. It is very hot when it's first made. The article explains that you can save the barley water in a container in the fridge and have a cup each day.
Honestly, I wasn't sure what barley water would taste like. And I was surprised at the punch it packs--- I'm not sure if it's due to the addition of all the fruit or if barley on its own is naturally tart, but the barley water tastes almost exactly like grapefruit juice. Which I like! I think it's better actually, because I have a hard time drinking citric drinks like grapefruit juice and orange juice. So the barley water was a good balance of tart but not overwhelmingly.

I'm looking forward to seeing if I see improvement with my new old wive's tale brew, and all the health benefits barley has. If you make yourself a batch of barley water, I'd love to hear what you think!

Til next time,

Sailor's Valentine

Wishing you a happy and sweet St. Valentine's Day filled with tea and chocolate, and a pirate's treasure worth of loveliness :)

I'm painting sailors today and enjoying a quiet day with the sun finally out shining. My sweetheart says he'll bring me dinner and watch Downton Abbey with me. What more could a girl want?

Happy St. Valentine's Day,

Snow Day

I peeked out the window at dawn today and wondered if this was going to be our brief interlude with winter. A little crust of snow fell in the night, and school was cancelled due to slippery rural bus routes. It's very gray outside, and chilly. I still need to brave the morning to go out to feed the rabbits. But it will be in the 50s tomorrow, so the thaw isn't far behind. Wondering if this will truly be
it, before spring comes to stay.

I still have the red shawl to knit and a small dog always ready and willing to cuddle. There are things I need to do of course, but its so hard on a cold and sleepy day. Especially with my girl home from school.

Hope you're safe and warm today. Perhaps you even have snow?

Now that my daughter is nearing 5, I decided to see if she'd like to start reading the Little House books. So the other night I asked her about it and we settled down with Little House in the Big Woods to start with.
It's interesting to be the Mama in the reading of these books. I was an older child when I got into them, and could read them to myself. It was a little funny then, because I hadnt remembered how Little House in the Big Woods really starts out--- mainly, the first chapter is all about animal slaughter ;) killing dear, saving a pig from being eaten by a bear, and then turning around and killing the pig and the gory details of how all the pieces of the animal are made into food. I'd be lying if I said I didn't skip around a bit as some of it was...a little much for a 5 year old ;) and one who for better or for worse, isn't intimately familiar with where her chicken nuggets come from, or that people actually eat deer. Those pretty little doe-eyed creatures that frolic in fields or pull Christmas time sleighs... To Audrey, deer are more or less decorative. I hope Little House in the Big Woods wasn't too much of shock ;)

But I suppose it wasn't because she asked to read more the next night and thankfully Laura moved on from a play-by-play of critter killin' and eating and went on to other things like Jack Frost and close-calls with panthers. I hope she continues to like the books though, because then she'll have much more fun when she's dragged to various Little House sites. I hope that it will become something we can love together, because that would be so much fun.

And speaking of Little House things...I did finish that painting that was shown as a work in progress the other day...

This is a little school scene with Laura and Carrie. I always related to 'big sister' Laura because I too was a big sister. I think having Carrie to protect and look after made Laura more brave and determined. And I admit, I always wished for a time when the only supplies I needed for school was a tablet and maybe one book instead of a backpack that weighed 50 pounds. It seemed more romantic....and easier on the back, lol. At least I never had to tramp home from school in a blizzard, though. Although Laura made it sound so exciting, didn't she?

Hope you enjoy the latest painting...have a good weekend,

False Spring

It's February turned April around here. Although it is a bit colder now, I've got bulbs sprouting and last year's lettuce that I've been neglecting seems to be out in full regalia. The rabbits have lived comfortably all winter in the hutch my dad helped me make them out of an old dog house. They lounge and watch the birds in the yard and probably make snide comments under their breath when those silly dogs come out to frolic.

I'm still doing my best to eat more simply and healthfully with less meat. My favorite soup of the season seems to be french onion soup which is so, so easy. It also involves cheese, which is also a plus! My good friend Jenny gave me this large mug with Forget-Me-Nots on it for Christmas. When I saw it, I thought "now there's a soup mug!"

I had meant to be packing the store full of originals this year, and that's still my goal! I've just had some other projects come up first thing. I did add one of my favorite little paintings, Adalaide, to the shop yesterday though. She's very pretty and so perfect for spring. I try not to have favorites when it comes to art, but she really is. She's got light springtime colors, but there's also a rich darkness to the piece as well, with lots of good aged crackle (you know I love the crackle. You can see more about the painting HERE.

Anyhow...Good news! I'm going to pick up the Little House prints today, plus more that I will add to the shop as well. Can't wait to share all the new things with you!~

EDIT: New prints now listed in the SHOP! Including the Little House prints! :D

A January Commission

I thought I'd share with you one of the secret commissions I worked on during January, this one a painting to celebrate a couple's anniversary. It's always fun to incorporate little details that mean something specifically to the person the painting is meant for--- flowers from their wedding bouquet, scenes depicting their honeymoon spot, a tiny brooch with a special character, and tiny bees for a nickname.

I hear it went over well, and that always makes me very happy! In fact, having someone love something that I made is probably the very very best part of painting. I am just so happy when that happens!

I have another commission finished and ready to send and another one to start on. So this new year is starting out with a customized bang! I also just finished my third Little House painting and expect to be able to offer the first two in print form very soon.

Thanks for stopping by to visit!~ Have a good week,

A Little House Musing

Oh, it's a double feature today! Looks like this Tuesday is going to be an epic celebration of two of my favorite old timey ladies.

Not sure if you had this marked on your calendar or not (lol) but today would have been Laura Ingalls Wilder's 145th birthday. That childhood deep in the Big Woods just gets farther and farther away, doesn't it? But Laura seems forever young.

The birth date seems to come at a time when I am totally immersed in all things "Little House" as I work on the painting series and move my more homestead-y themed entries from the old blog to this one.

Leafing through my books for some art inspiration, it occurred to me that Garth William's illustrations seem to be unconsciously burned into my brain because these are like my girls, my drawings. It's amazing what loves and obsessions from your childhood stay with you, no matter how un-hip it may be to keep loving them. Some people keep their legos. Others maintain a pretty steady love of all things Star Wars. Me? I just cant keep from being smitten with the sunbonnet culture of little wagons and little houses.

And while many children love the Little House books, my love was a bit hardcore. I mean, I was ordering calico-clad dolls from the Mansfield museum as a kid, wearing plastic jewelry that depicted the home site, collecting all manner of random bios and books and even dutifully trying to read the works of Rose Wilder Lane although they went way over my 12 year old head. Still, I tried!

I just finished reading The Wilder Life by Wend McClure the other day, and I instantly felt a kinship to her kooky story of being a grown woman with a little house obsession and the hilarity and contemplation that ensues because I am so there with her. I think many of us feel like Laura is ours, that we have a special and intimate connection to the stories that lead us on road trips to rural towns we would have never gone to otherwise, after a childhood of penning our own pioneer tales in notebooks with horrific spelling and illustrations of wonky pioneer girls on some amazing adventure through epic amounts of grassland.

I know now that Laura wasn't really all mine, and she'd in fact 'belonged' to decades of children before I was even born. And now I'm pretty glad for that, since it seems to mean that there are now decades worth of people who 'get' the paintings I make, who enjoy seeing paintings inspired by a distant past that we somehow all share. I think that's so wonderful.
Above is a little painting I'm working on today. It's a walk-to-school image. To be honest, I had a hard time sitting down and thinking through a painting because all of the Little House stories can get to be a little overwhelming. So much happened. And Williams' illustrations are so iconic, that I at once want to compliment them and do my own thing. I want the paintings to be mine, but its hard when the illustrations are as embedded in your brain as the words. But I'm trying my best!

Anyhow...I suppose I better get back to painting. And just wanted to say I'm so glad so many of you are as into this subject matter as I am. These stories are so simple, yet deceivingly complicated. And I've found out that so is trying to capture them with paint. But I keep trying!~ Thanks for coming along!


Tasha Tuesday

I don't know if some of you have seen this, but this is a Japanese film featuring Tasha Tudor's garden. It's about 10 minutes long and really interesting! Did you know that Tasha has a really strong Japanese following?

A little muesli on the prairie

It's a rainy day today, and the truth of the matter is we're being a little lazy. My husband told me yesterday to "take some PTO", which really never occurs to me, but I thought I'd try it. Obviously, my staff is already indulging themselves in some time off ;)

I found myself hungry for some homemade muesli, which has become one of my favorite snacks to indulge in, especially since it's more good for you than bad. And in the new spirit of combining my "Ma Ingalls" blog with this blog, I thought I'd share with you this very easy, very natural, and very basic recipe that uses whatever all-natural ingredients you may have on hand and magically turns them into a delicious and healthy treat.

Although I always thought of Muesli as something from New Zealand, it was evidently created by a European doctor to increase the health of his patients. It combines grains such as oats with granola, nuts, seeds and dried berries. You can eat mixed like that as if it were a cereal, but I like best is to cook up a pot of honey (about a cup or so), butter (about 2 tablespoons) and peanut butter (a nice liberal tablespoon) and then stir in the oats, nuts, seeds and dried fruits. it's literally something you put together with whatever is on hand.

Mix it all together, and then cover a glass pan with wax paper and pour the mixture in, patting down hard so that everything packs together and starts to congeal as it cools. When it has cooled down you can cut it into little squares and voila, you have a homemade granola bar-type snack with no additives, artificial sweeteners, or chemicals. Just good and basic things we all need in our diet but sometimes don't know how to add.
I like to eat mine with a cup of milk (I added some nutmeg to my milk in the photo) I'm trying to reaffirm my mission to eat more healthfully and naturally. We just signed up to join a food co-op and I've been reading up on new vegetarian meals to incorporate into our routine and getting more fruits and greens into the things we eat. I don't like the idea of taking things away, but rather adding better stuff in what we're eating daily. And the more local you can buy your food, the more you're supporting your own community. That is, after all, how they did things in 'the olden days.' And I think this may be one way of doing things where the old way was, in fact, better.

Art at Shades of Brown

This morning I packed up a large group of original paintings and some prints and headed down to Brookside in Tulsa to hang at my favorite little coffee shop, Shades of Brown! If you've never been there, it's such a nice place to go and hang out, and you're fully expected to just sit and talk for hours. The furniture is old and worn and mostly velvet, so you know I love that!

So after a morning of wielding a hammer in a coffee shop, the art is all up and if I say so myself, its looking rather nice! The art will be up through the entire month of February and can be bought right off the walls. If you're in the area, I hope you stop by! And if you do, i suggest the heath mocha or the grasshopper :)

Aside from doing this show, I've been thinking about some other Audrey Eclectic stuff. As regards to my painted mugs, you may have noticed they're not as prevalent in my shop. I am so happy and grateful to have sold so many, but the 'paint to order' mug system started to wear my down after a while. I'd like to get more creative and spontaneous with them, and not have to worry about the need to have a large supply of mugs so that they're all the same shape and size.

What I think I will start doing is painting custom ceramic pieces that are more originals and one of a kind to offer in the shop. That way I can be more creative in what I paint on and dont have to worry about whether I can get my hands on the exact same mug for dozens of cups and months to come. I hope that sounds good to you all! I think that will make the pieces more fresh and inspired as well.

And while I'm talking of changes, I'm going back and forth about my Ma Ingalls blog. As much as I like the idea, it always come a very distinct second to this art blog and I feel like my inattention is not making it what it could be. I've been thinking of just moving the whole 'love of little house' over to this blog, especially since I've started the Little House art series. I hate to bum anyone out about not doing that blog, but I feel like dividing my attention is not giving it the quality I'd like.

So. Those are the latest mission statements for 2012 :) It's February now, can you believe it?! And I do have daffodils and hyacinths popping up in my garden. Oh, I have a feeling they'll be in for a surprise at some point...poor confused little bulbs!~

Thanks so much for your support and your reading here!~ I appreciate it!~