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Postcards from the weekend





    Just peeking in to say hello to you from a Sunday afternoon. Hope you're having a good weekend. I think I'm finally getting over this cold I've been fighting with for the past several days, and things are getting rather bloomy around here.


   On Saturday I tried a recipe--well maybe more 'method'-- that I saw on the blog October Farm where you cook your premade  cinnamon rolls with a waffle iron. I just put the raw rolls on the iron, shut it for 3 minutes (that's my particular iron's time for waffle making) and voila, waffle cinnamon rolls! And they came out perfectly too, no burnt bottoms! And so quick. I think I'm pretty spoiled now with a way to bake cinnamon rolls in under 5 minutes, and the waffle pattern is perfect for storing melted icing!~


  I am also still slowly getting out some of my things I stored away when the house was for sale, and I am happy to have my pretty Halloween Nicol Sayre dolls out again! I love her creations so much, especially the Halloween ones. The tall witch is standing on my vintage 1940s boxed set of Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre. Happy to have them out again too!


   My garden is also starting to fill out, I planted a new little pot for the porch and stuck some Sweet William into the front bed in white and salmon to accent my big apricot rose which is really being a show off at the moment. Ten huge roses as big as my hand are reaching up to find some sun, but found some afternoon rain today. Of course it rained just enough to drive me in from working in the yard. Perhaps God's way of telling me not to get too overzealous trimming up the little trees. It's just so hard to stop once you start lopping, isn't it? ;)


  Looking forward to getting back to work on my paintings--- I am still painting, but at the moment it's all commission work and you know what that means-- can't tell you about it-- yet :) I did come across the most gorgeous old photo of two girls though, and I really want to paint it. It's so beautiful.


   Well, enjoy your weekend, and have a good week!~
~h

Project Art Fairy


   So I had an idea for a special project. And after thinking and thinking on it, I've decided to put it into action. I'm calling it "Project Art Fairy" and it's something I need your help with! The idea came from wanting to use my art in a way that was positive. We often get bogged down in the details of 'doing good' and thinking it has to be a grand gesture of epic proportions. But often times, small gestures are just as important. Who knows what good we can do, in very small ways, that will ripple into something bigger. So here is my idea:


   I would like you to think about the people in your life who are doing something, or going through something, where they could use an unexpected treat. Anyone from a child, to an adult, to an elderly person. Going through a life transition, doing good deeds in their community or family, dealing with a personal struggle, there are thousands of ways that people are going through life and perhaps need a little unexpected gift to remind them that they are loved and appreciated. That's where you--- and I come in.


  If you know of some such person, you can enter them (confidentially) into the Art Fairy Project and they will be eligible to receive a free print out of my shop. All you have to do is email me their name and mailing address and a bit about why you feel they should be part of the project and once a month I will choose a person out of the people you submit and send them a free print. The recipient of the print will always remain confidential, and the details of project will be limited to me, the nominator, and the recipient. I will let you know, of course, if your entry has been chosen.


   You are welcome to look through the prints in my shop and let me know which one you think  your nominee would prefer. You are also welcome to have your name included with the print as the nominator, or it can remain completely anonymous, your choice. 


   I hope with this little project, we can do a little good and put a positive ripple out there in the world, where so many times it's a struggle to find glimmers of hope and support. I am eager to get started, so send your submission in today! I look forward to playing the art fairy :) let's spread some joy~




~h

Ballet Pink




    Lately I've been admiring the dainty color of ballet pink. I don't seem to paint much with it. This time of year, I always think "why don't I use more spring colors?" I'm thinking I need to :)


   I've also been admiring ballet art, especially since my little one is quite the dancer. I think, perhaps, she's found that thing that makes her heart sing, something she's been so natural at since she could toddle. We were always amazed at her sense of rhythm, and she's always had a flair for the dramatic.


   I've always admired dancers and ballerinas. I long loved the Degas dancers, and admire the art of ballet so much. I also love that dancers love knitwear, haha. Have you seen the film The Dancer on netflix? Its on instant queue now. The dancer features wears an entirely knitted body suit. I keep thinking "If I didn't have an ounce of body fat, I'd totally wear that too." :) I imagine as Audrey gets older I will be her little mama in the corner of the studio knitting leg warmers. Pink ones, of course.


   This pretty pale shade brings to mind elegance and youth. Springtime. Softness. So many times I overlook it with my love of its more daring cousin, red. But perhaps there is some ballet pink in my future. And as recital time comes upon us, I'm sure I will fall even more for this shade. 


~H

Tasha Tuesday



“If you look the right way, you can see that the whole world is a garden.” 

― Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden



   I can imagine, as an illustrator, being able to create the world of Frances Hodgeson Burnett's The Secret Garden was a fine project for Tasha. It combined so many thinged that she loves to draw--- especially children and flowers, as well as animals. It's such a timeless story, while at the same time so remotely set in a world and time very different than the one we're in today.


   I remember reading this book in the 4th grade. And then soon the film adaptation came out, which I loved. It was just so beautiful and the emotion to it was so dark and intense, for a children's movie. Or is it a children's movie? I admit, I find myself coaxing my girl to watch The Secret Garden instead of most of what's available to kids these days. I just love it, after all these years.


   I thought the book quote above was fitting not just for the story, but for Tasha too. I think Tasha would have no trouble at all seeing the world as a garden, or even creating a garden out of the world. What do you think? Do you see the whole world as a garden? Or is it a sentiment of children's stories? 


  I vote for garden....

*Lindsborg!*



  We came! We saw! We admired Dala Horses!
And what an adventure it was. More adventure than we'd bargained for in some ways, with our little one getting sick, but I'm so glad to to have finally seen this little town that I've heard so much about. And to see so. much. Swedish stuff! In one place! We were up to our necks in Dala horses and tomtes and Scandinavian flags. It was marvelous!

    Audrey was really excited to see all the horse statues around town, and was quite impressed with this epic-sized St. Lucia in front of Hemslojd on Main Street Lindsborg. Actually, most of the shopping in the town was in a neat 2 block area of Linsborg. It is a tiny little town, but packed full of such personality. The downtown streets are all brick, with wide lanes and sidewalks made for promenading. 

   When we arrived Saturday afternoon it was a beautiful day-- sunny and clear and a perfect temperature of not too hot, not too cold. Surprisingly, there weren't many people out shopping in town. I'm wondering if Lindsborg really shines during its festival times. There were many little shops, but also several that were inexplicably closed for business in the middle of a Saturday. But those that were open were very friendly and laid back and packed full of Swedish goodness (with a smattering of other Nordic country items for good measure).


    We stayed at the Swedish Country Inn right in the midst of downtown and I have to say I think this was probably the best digs in town. It's a B&B run out of one of the old buildings there in town, and it's beautiful. They've really done a great job giving the place the Swedish feel with lots of Swedish furniture, decor, and food. It was really clean and the service was good. Downstairs was a main sitting room with a fireplace and coffee and lots of books to browse through. We stayed on the second floor in one of the smaller rooms, a family of 3 sleeping in a full-size bed....but it was cozy :) and the room was nice:


   We were all pretty taken with the folding wooden shutters on the windows. What fancy contraptions! And everything had little folk art flowers painted on them. And you know I love that!


   After we settled in we went walking down town, visiting the shops, and I tried not to get too overwhelmed by instant access to all the random and kitchy things that I never dreamed I'd see all in one place. St. Lucias here! Tomtes there! You want straw ornaments, well, look right here! Carl Larsson-- a whole shelf! My family was very patient with me :)


  While exploring the town we also came across this little park set between the buildings with these huge St. Lucia murals painted on the building walls. They were heartwarming and pretty to look at. There's something so exciting about seeing other art celebrating the things you love, definitely wouldn't see these type of things around where I live, and I was honestly surprised to learn that such a large and lasting Swedish population existed so close to my home. I for some reason thought they were all in Minnesota, or thereabouts. I'm happy to be wrong!

  I'm just sad we had to cut things short after staying up half the night with a sick little one and then trying to get her home without any terrible incidents. So that meant we didn't stay to do more shopping or visit the dugout that we'd planned to see. But I think those things will be saved for a another visit.


   Anyhow, over all, it was good. I'm well stocked in Carl Larsson (for the moment) as well as Lingonberry preserves (yum!) and we even got a little wooden dala horse. It was such fun to see these pieces of art and culture that I've admired for so long being celebrated and being very much alive and a part of people's heritage in an every day way. Lindsborg is such a pretty little town. Even without all the Swedishness. It's clean and well kept and just really simple. They don't have a McDonalds. The grocery store is closed on Sundays. It's its own little place, and I can admire that. And I hope to admire it again!~

Custom portrait with some twang

Hello there!~
I am happy to report that one of my commissions is safely with its owner, so I can give you all a peek :) this was a fun piece to create for a young woman as a birthday present-- her step-mom sent me a photo of her playing guitar and I gave the piece a retro vibe, since I was told that was something she liked. Her favorite colors are also dark pink and turquoise, so I gave her a bright pretty dress and some dainty turquoise jewelry in the shape of a beaded necklace.

What was also fun about this project is that a few months ago I created a pair of custom portraits for her dad and step-mom, who are both talented musicians themselves (you can see those paintings HERE) so I painted this portrait to give a nod back to those paintings (same background and strawberry motif) but it also stands well on its own, and while the first portraits had more of a 1930s vibe, this is more 1940s/early 50s so she's the 'younger generation' :)

As always, you are very welcome to contact me if you're ever interested in a custom painting! It's always so nice to be able to create something special for someone. The range of portraits I've done in the past is pretty wide too-- not just family and child portraits, but also wedding portraits, ancestral portraits, even portraits for authors of their heroes and heroines! It's always fun to bring those ideas to life.

Well, that's all for now! Chat with you later,
~H

Tomtes & Dalas


Good evening! One late night post more before I head off to bed, I wanted to show you the finished tomte pair that I was working on the other day. I think they came out quite well, I love a good bearded man. I have one of my own :)

I think these two will be perfect for Christmas cards, and I envision doing a little group of Swedish themed paintings that I can sell as a set for the holidays. I've already got St. Lucia, and perhaps God Jul Sisters...just depends on which I like best when the time comes.

And to keep myself in a Scandinavian mood, I've been admiring a little dala horse ornament that my friend and fellow Nordic-Lover Christine Sharp Crowe of Weather & Noise (As well as the new shop in Tulsa, Made, where you can buy some of my art! But I digress...) I think it's so sweet and I like the blue color.

Oh, and speaking of loving Swedish things....we've sporadically planned that trip we've been meaning to take to Lindsborg and I am more than a little excited. The same day we decided, I got a catalog in the mail from Hemslojd, a store there that sells Scandinavian items and also has its own workshop and on-staff folk artists. I've been pouring over the pages and showing my (very patient and accommodating) husband photos of dala horse and viking cookie cutters, and other fun things. I'm just excited for a little adventure and somewhere new to explore and perhaps get some fresh inspiration. I hope when I return I'm full of new ideas and ready to paint!

Well, I'll turn in for the night for now. I seem to have caught the girl's sniffles. But better now than when we're traveling. So good night, sleep tight!~
~H

Tasha Tuesday




Americans have a complicated relationship with tea. Chalk it up to our turbulent beginnings, when we dumped it all in the harbor. It would be a little hard to embrace the tea service after such an act of defiance as that-- we stuck to coffee after that, and as if in supreme defiance, in the south we like ours iced.

Tasha Tudor, however, was an American who fully embraced the ritual of tea time. She was quite famous for it, and it was always a surpreme honor for people to be asked to tea with Tasha. I'm not sure if she was in this habit out of old-school Boston breeding (surely in Boston they'd be the most sensitive to tea!) or if it was just another one of those quirky things from the past that she picked up and made her own.

At any rate, I've always liked the idea of tea time and have been slowly dipping my toe into developing my own hot tea obsession. I drink it off and no, going through phases, and I'm deep in the midst of a chai tea episode at the moment. I tried it with a bit of milk and it was good, then I tried it with coffee creamer and oh. Goodness. So good.

There is something simple and satisfying about putting the kettle on. Especially when its a red kettle like the one I recently acquired. I do love red, and this kettle is so nice. Very sturdy and easy on the eyes.

How about you? Are you fond of tea? Or are you squarely American (if you are American, we're rather international around here!) and stick to coffee? What's your favorite flavor? And do you have any tricks of the tea drinker's trade? I'd love to hear them :)

Well, just me and the pups today! Time to paint!~
~H


She was in love with roses...

Oh, my little readers-- are you sick to death of pictures of roses yet? Please, indulge me one more time (I'd say last, but who am I kidding...) it's like every spring they bloom and it's like I've never seen them before. Nothing like a gray monotonous winter to make you want to photograph every blooming thing you see like you were in love with it.

Everything looked so pretty this morning when I went out to feed the rabbits. That rolling green pasture (there's a creek in the middle of it, though its hard to tell) is where I like to pick a nice breakfast salad for the buns, which sounds romantic, but is filled with nervous thoughts of "please, don't let a spider be in this patch of clover..." ;)

It was just so bright and pretty and bursting with springtime, after all these days of gray storminess, that I had to snap a few shots.

Well, today I have a little one home with a stuffy head from allergies. Probably wont get much painting done, but I'll try to sneak a little time. That's how I used to do all this when she was home with me, now I've been spoiled by long blissful school days! Hope your week has started well, and that you get a little treat at some point in the day.

I just got the new Kate Morton book at the store too. Obsessed? Of course! She makes me want to paint gardens, perhaps I'll take a break from my diligent Christmas work and snatch a moment to paint some flowers....

~H

*Sunday's Work*

It's funny to look out the winter and see spring in full swing and be inside listening to Christmas music and painting Christmas characters, but that is what is at hand this afternoon here at the little house!

I can't truly forget its spring of course, especially with the spring storms swinging through the area. This weekend has been plagued with heavy and severe storms, although the area I'm in has been pretty unscathed by anything bad. Just lots of rain, thunder, lightening, everyone piled up in the bed together and snuggling it out. I think the next few days will be relatively quiet though, and hopefully still on the cool side so I can enjoy some afternoon walks between painting snow and holly :)

The piece I'm working on this afternoon is a pair of tomtes (or tomtenisse. Or Nisse. Or Tonttu depending on what area of Scandinavia you hail from). Tomtes are mystical little creatures, much like a gnome, in Scandinavian folk lore. These little folk often protect homes and children and sometimes finish farmers' work for them in the dead of night. In the last few centuries this little magical character has evolved to be the bringer of gifts at Christmastime, and so I've painted a jolly tomte couple who will be holding a festive 'god jul' banner.

I'm still very enthralled with learning about Scandinavian art and culture and using it my own art. I'm hoping a visit to Lindsborg, Kansas happens sooner rather than later, and we're looking into a little family trip. I'd also love to hear from any of you, my lovely readers, residing in Sweden, Norway, Finland, etc. I'd love to hear about your town, your traditions and every day life. If you're so inclined, my email is audreyeclectic@gmail.com. As always, I love to hear from all of you, no matter where you reside!

Well, there's rain again outside.It's pattering against the window and the Christmas carols on Pandora are coaxing me back to my work.

Til next time~
H

*Books, Flowers, Ships*

You guys were so right. The Forgotten Garden is such a good book. I'm really enjoying it and trying to savor the mystery and all the old timeyness and restrain myself from plowing straight through it. I'm glad this author has other books out too, because I know I'll have to get my hands on those too! It's the perfect book to read when the gardening is waking up from its slumber. My rose shrubs are coming into full flower now, and I don't feel bad making a little cutting from them.

Things have been a little quiet around here lately, mostly because I'm working on a couple of commissioned pieces and I don't like to show those things until they're safe at home with their owners. I don't want to ruin their surprise!

I've been in a bit of a reflective mood lately as we approach 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. When I was a kid a friend of mine had a large coffee table book full of photos of wreckage and stories about the survivors on that ill-fated trip. She'd invite me over to play Barbies, and I really just wanted to get lost in that book, full of such mystery and strange heartache. I still remember a photo of a fragment of some long-ago little girl's ceramic doll, there at the bottom of the ocean. It still gives me a shiver to think about.

One thing is for sure though, I will remain firmly on dry land today and try to get some painting done. Thanks for visiting me here today :) let's both look for a lull in the day when we can curl up with a good book, sound like a good plan?

~H

Tasha Tuesday: Cottage Gardening

Every year like clockwork, I find myself taking out one particular tome from my book collection and hoping high hopes. Oh, to have a real English cottage garden. Or one like Tasha Tudor. I try each year with varying degrees of success, but here where the sun bakes and things get all wilty and crunchy come August, it's a hard goal to attain. But I keep dreaming.

One of my favorite gardening books is English Cottage Gardening for American Gardeners by Margaret Hensel and forward by, perfectly enough, Tasha Tudor. The book is packed full of gorgeous photos of the greenest, rambliest, bloomiest gardens you ever saw. On both sides of the Atlantic. Tasha's Corgi Cottage garden is featured, completed with a detailed map of the grounds, and it makes it all seem within reach.

However, this year, I'm determined to be more sensible about my cottage garden. I'm going to plant more things that are drought resistant and sun tolerating. I admit, I did have a weak moment yesterday and bought some fox glove hoping just maybe they'll take. But I'm thinking things like lantana, zenias and other more hot loving plants will be my base annuals this year. Because there's nothing more sad than an English cottage garden all burnt up.

Do you have big plans for your spring planting? Do you have a favorite type of garden? Is there something you wish you could grow but can't seem to get it going?

My garden-mania has even spilled over into my latest reading, I picked up The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton yesterday and can't wait to get lost in it. It sounds intriguing. And the Arthur Rackham illustrations inside the cover sold it for me. Love him.

Well, next for me is to clean out the vegetable bed and get a few things put in. Our frost date in Oklahoma is April 15, so we're nearly in the clear!

Happy Tasha Tuesday~
h

*bloom*

Everyday things get bloomier and greener around here. Everything is waking up, and blooming where it was planted, a sentiment many of us seem to share, if my last post is any indication :) there is a nice calmness to routine, to growing where you've always been. And maybe even improving, bit by bit, right where you started. I appreciate all your encouragement and your own personal stories about your little houses. I think you are so right about the cozyness, and how it feels much more like a 'home' than some grand place. I always enjoy learning about how others live and so you've inspired me, and made me even more motivated to settle in and bask in the littleness :)

One of the many little things I like about my house, are my flowers. I've spend several years now planting perennials and trying to stuff the gardens full so that they are always blooming and brambled. The other day my first rose opened up, just off the back porch. I love this rose so much because it is so decadent and ladylike, so old fashioned. Just the palest of pinks with so many layers of petals they appear to bloom as a ruffle. I bought this rose at a local herb festival a few years back, and I had to carry the whole potted bush plus a small child across the whole festival to get back to my truck. It was no easy task, and I ended up getting help from a few kind strangers. But I got it home, got it planted, and here she is! I've been feeding my roses some rose food as they've come back to life after their winter sleep, and I hope it helps them bloom into epic loveliness. I love this time of year!

Til next time,
~h

Home All Along

Big decisions made this week, although I'd honestly come to terms with them much sooner than this. The fact is, the grand move to a bigger and lovelier and older home that I had so longed for....isn't meant to be. As it turns out, we're already home. And we always had been. The house is no longer for sale, and all those little things that showed my personality have come out of storage and back on the walls.

It was not an easy thing to decide, this staying put. I had thought if I hoped and believed and cleaned and prepped hard enough, selling this house couldn't help but happen. But it didn't. Although you hear a lot about people downsizing and realizing that they don't really need that McMansion, they still don't seem into the idea of 1100 sq. ft of epic adorableness. And that's what I have to offer.

And so that's what I'll keep. This house, while small, is like an art project. I painted and stenciled and planted and created vignettes like the one above out of digging through antique mall booths and family heirlooms.

And while it did hurt my feelings a bit (a lot) to have people turn their nose up at my little house and act like it wasn't even possible to live in this small of a space (although somehow we've managed to) it has also made me a little ( a lot) defiant. I will embrace the littleness. I will fill this house with more personality than any 2500 sq. ft house could even attempt to hold. I will realize that most people in the world live quite comfortably in homes this small or even smaller. I will be content that I am where I need to be and that dreaming of other homes and other people's opportunities don't do anything but hold me back and make me ungrateful for what I have.

I will be home in the Little House :)
~H

A New Painting


You'll have to forgive me....in an effort to be really efficient with art this year, I've already started thinking about Christmas 2012. Really, it seems like December blurred by so fast last year that I didn't get much of a chance to enjoy it, so I'm going to be leisurely about it this time around.

My love of Swedish folk art is still alive and well, and you'll find me at school pick-up reading books about Scandinavia or looking up tomtes and Swedish shops in my spare time. Really, I think I've got the Nordic fever.

Something particular I love from Sweden is the art of Carl Larsson. He was an amazing man and an amazing artist. He used his large family and his home as models for countless illustrations depicting holidays or family life. They are always colorful and beautiful and gentle. They are like snapshots into a daily life that was a very happy daily life.

So Carl is the inspiration behind this painting. I wanted to show a tender indoor holiday scene similar to something he might have set up, although my scene is much simpler than his and done in my own particular style. But I wanted that same 'feeling' of home and holiday.

This painting is called "God Jul Sisters" (God Jul is Merry Christmas in Swedish) and depicts and older sister lighting the candles on a holiday table while her younger sister looks on. This is another piece I will file away for epic Christmas plans, and I hope you like it :)

And speaking of Swedish sisters....I have totally fallen in love with the Swedish sister duo First Aid Kit. I love their music. They've been filling my little art room with their beautiful melodies as I've painted. If you haven't heard this one, I think this cover they did of another favorite band, Fleet Foxes, is a perfect introduction....

Til next time,
~H

Spring Print Sale!~

With spring now here and Mother's Day fast approaching, I thought it was high time for a sale! I've marked down many of my prints in my etsy shop to make for you good shopping--- because if you're buying for Mom you might as well buy one for yourself as well, right?

Please stop by and take a look! All the prints perfect for spring are now on sale. I also marked down the 2011 Saint Lucia Christmas Posters because I have a few left that need homes! They printed up beautifully! And when I put out the 2012 Christmas Posters later this year, you'll have the whole set :)s

Thanks again! Happy April!~
h

::April::



Good Morning!~
Here we are, in April! I'm glad to see it, it means we've decidedly entered spring. Things are getting awfully springtimeish around here. My tulips are opening up and the living Easter basket (well, bowl) we planted is starting to blossom.

We've also been letting the rabbits out of their hutch to frolic and lounge. The photo above is our daddy-rabbit, Mr. Darcy. He looks a bit like a chocolate bunny, doesn't he? He's our sweetest one. Its those ornery girls who are always hatching escape plans. When they broke out of their hutch last time, he remained behind, uncertain of jumping out the back door, I'm sure.

How is your spring gardening going? Isn't it interesting to watch a garden wake up after winter? Although we really didn't have any snow...and some of my perennials just stayed green and quiet all winter, its good to see blooms. I've been feeding my roses some rose food in hopes of creating some monster blossoms when they finally open. They're budding now, can't wait to see the first one.

This time of year I always have epic plans about gardening. I've decided that our back patio will be an ode to Arizona, which we have visited a few times for my husband's work. Last time we drove, with Audrey in tow, and it was a big adventure. We really had a lot of fun. I always came back painting in really bold and desert inspired colors. I bought a few fancy potted aloe this weekend (blush and alligator, whodathought!) and put out my puny little cactus I bought in Scottsdale. I hope to add more desert plants, and I know that they at least wont fail me if it gets to 114 again this summer.

But anyhow....errands today and hopefully a little bit of painting! I'm glad you all are liking the newest folk art pieces! I can't wait to make more!~

~H