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Spooky New England: The Salem Witch House

   Happy, Happy Halloween!~ The day of frightful delights is finally here! And in the spirit of ghosts and goblins and things macabre, I thought I would take you on a little tour, if that's fine with you!

   How about the Witch House in Salem, Mass.? It's not too spooky, but the things said and done within its walls may give you the shivers. It is the last remaining structure that was around during the Salem Witch Trials of 1692 and 1693-- and also home to one of the infamous trials' judges--- Judge Jonathan Corwin. Within its very walls talk of witch craft and the devil were discussed, and most likely warrants for arrest-- leading to the death of 19 innocent people--- were signed. Come in and take a peek, if you dare....

  Once you step inside the Witch House, you are immersed in the history of the 17th century--- and the structure has been lovingly and diligently restored to reflect the time in which Judge Corwin and his wife and children would have lived within the house.
    And while it may seem modest to modern eyes, it was really quite the lavish dwelling for its time--- the Corwins were well-to-do and pillars of the Salem community.

    The witch house was one of my favorite locations to tour because it was so open for people to roam and look at, to photograph and to ask questions about. One of the house guides sat quietly in the corner knitting, happy to answer any questions one may have--- a pretty good gig if you ask me!

   It's also so easy to imagine women gathering around the hearth, cooking supper and tending to the fire, and also whispering about the strange things happening in town. Were they fearful? Were they suspicious? Were they accusers or even the accused?

   Aside from its dark association with the witch trials, the Witch House, is such an interesting place, a window into a way of life long past, yet familiar. Children's trundle beds slip out from beneath their parent's bed, a cradle stand in the corner; ingredients for the day's meal sit at the ready beside the hearth, chores are to be done, letters to be written.

   If you find yourself in Salem, I highly recommend a visit. There is also a little gift shop beside the house, and I came away with a little black cat for my girl at home, and this book about the Witch Trials, which is supposed to be an interesting read.

   And of course--- wishing you a merry Halloween! Enjoy the day-- and of course, the night!~!~

Tasha Tuesday: Homespun Spooky New England

        Last night Audrey and I were cuddled up reading some stories and we got out Tasha Tudor's "A Time to Keep" about old timey celebrations of all the holidays and special days around the year. Of course our favorite section had to do with October and, of course, Halloween!

   Making cider, carving 'pumpkin moonshines', bobbing for apples, going to Halloween parties and getting scared on a foggy autumn night all make it as highlights to October in Tasha's sweet little book. It was also sweet to have my own little one read the pages to me, as her reading gets better every day. I know she'll be reading tons of Tasha books and many others to her little brother when he arrives this winter....

    What's your favorite old-timey Halloween activity? Will you be indulging in some apple cider or attending a spooky party come Halloween night?
    Whatever you do, hope you have a wonderful time! The night of fun and spookiness grows nearer!~!
   More New England spookiness to come....

Spooky New England: Here Lies the Body...

      Oooooh, its foggy and gray and cool today--- with bright autumn leaves fluttering to the ground and something mysterious in the air--- it's the week of Halloween, of course!~
    In honor of this merry spooky time, I thought I'd share with you some frightfully lovely highlights from my New England trip--- because no place does spooky and beautiful quite like New England!
   So-- I'm going to have "spooky New England" week here on the blog! Sound good? Well, get on your walking shoes and a nice comfy sweater, because we have some graveyards to explore....

    First up--- The Old Burial Point in the middle of town in Salem, Mass. This was the first cemetery Alyson and Emily and I rambled through and really explored well. It was funny, we'd all fan out without a word and start exploring quietly on our own. I was in awe of seeing tombstones that were so old--- and the art was so interesting and of course, melancholy.
   No "witches" buried here--- they were not permitted on sacred ground. But Judge Hathorne was in residence. Bet he had some explaining to do when he met his maker!

    We also visited the nearby town of Marblehead, Mass. which had one of the most beautiful old cemeteries I'd ever seen--- complete with a view of antique homes and the harbor full of boats.
   Old Burial Hill was also home to some beautiful old stones--- I was often awed at the thought of who were these artists who made their living in this way? And how many generations had trudged up that rocky hill to put loved ones to rest? The idea of centuries of well worn paths and heavy hearts was almost too much sometimes. But it was also incredibly peaceful--- even restful-- in these quiet places.

    There were many gravestones that tugged on this mama's heart--- especially those of children, and many times multiple children, who all passed so young. Perhaps the most gripping and sobering headstone, however, was this one on top of a burial mound in Deerfield, Mass.
   It paid homage to the 48 men, women and children massacred in an attack on the town during the French and Indian War. It really hit home just how vulnerable these settlers were, and what a dangerous time it was-- for all on all sides.
  Sadly, Deerfield would be victim to more raids than just this one, but the town remained and became a beautiful and peaceful settlement. Sometimes we forget, however, just how dangerous and violent those times long past truly were.

   Of course, the cemetery that wins the prize of "most who's who" in residence would be the Granary Burial Ground in Boston! Not only are Benjamin Franklin's parents here, but also such notables as Sam Adams, Paul Revere, and John Hancock (with a headstone as large as his signature on the Declaration of Independence!)
   It was a rainy cold day when Alyson and I wandered through this place, with leaves falling and little brown sparrows hopping everywhere, unconcerned with the people milling through. It was beautiful and still, even though it was literally in the heart of the bustle of Boston. 

.....And so, we've come to the end of our little jaunt. Time to head in out of the rain and cold, and back to the comforts of indoors. Hope no wayward spirit followed you home.....

   Til next time,

A Quilt for a Boston Boy

    I just had to show you this pretty little baby quilt my friend Briana made for my little one! It's all nautical inspired, and the best part is--- the nautical elements all mention Boston, which is so appropriate-- baby and I stood together (Russian stacking-doll style, haha!) at Boston Harbor and toured around the old parts of the city for a day with Alyson on our trip. This pretty quilt will be a sweet remembrance of that time, and perfect for a little boy who will soon be arriving!~
    You can read more about the quilt and its creation on Briana's blog Bifftastica. It's called the Robbie quilt because that will be the baby's name! We've decided to name him after both our fathers, using both of their middle names. I think both our dads are proud as peacocks about it :)
   I received this quilt last weekend at a handmade baby shower given to me by the gals from Make Tulsa-- a group of local crafters, and all their gifts were so special because they're all so talented. I was so excited to see all their creations, and it was even better that I got to have them all! (Well, Robbie does, but still...) hand crocheted wash clothes and hand-sewn stuffed animals, adorable books and little hats and a teething necklace...all such sweet treasures.
   A big thank you to all you crafty ladies--- so glad to have you in my life!~

Christmas Art: Hanging the Stockings

     Although it is only October according to the calendar, I know the Christmas season will soon be upon us and it will be Christmas Postcard pre-order time again! So since my return from my trip to New England, I have been dreaming up some new holiday art, and I am so thrilled with how this one turned out-- Hanging the Stockings.

    I loooove a good New England style fireplace, with the little nooks and crannies and shelves and ovens for baking right inside (if we ever built a house, I'd build a salt box with just that kind of fireplace in the kitchen!)
    And as you know, I love Tasha Tudor, and she was the queen of cozy fireside paintings, and so I think this piece is sort of an ode to her, New England, and all that is sweet and good about Christmas.

   I also have a love of red and white textiles, and so I couldn't resist wrapping up the baby in a beautiful red and white quilts. Quilts are difficult, I am not known for my exactness, and I am often in awe of the geometric skill that goes into quilt making. 
    And I dont know if you noticed--- but Papa is also in this family scene, bringing in the Christmas tree from the woods, perhaps to decorate while the children are sleeping so they can wake up surprised on Christmas morning.

  I think this will make a very sweet Christmas card, and that is my hope for it! I may try to squeeze in one more painting to offer for pre-ordering cards, and then set to work on that. My goal is to have the preorder start in early November so that they can get printed up and shipped to their proper places in time for holiday card exchanges.

   I love Christmas cards,and the beautiful art that often have. Im so excited I get to make them, and that people all over the country (and world!) choose to use some of my paintings to wish those they love a merry holiday season.

   Well, off I go to start the day--- hope you enjoy this little piece of holiday cheer!~

Vermont: The Snapdragon Inn

     During our whirlwind tour of New England, Emily, Alyson and I were lucky enough to be invited up to a friend's inn in Windsor, Vermont. We set off in the evening, so it was the dark of night when we finally got to Vermont--- beautiful at night but we knew it would be spectacular in the daylight!

    When we pulled up to The Snapdragon Inn, we knew we had come to be somewhere special. Michelle, the innkeeper, had the lights on for us and we walked up to this beautiful early 1800s brick home practically giddy with how gorgeous it was.

   We ooohhed and aahhed over all the beautiful details and restorations that the Larsons have put into their family business. The home, which was once owned by the editor of such literary heavy-weights as F.Scott Fizgerald and Ernest Hemmingway and dates back to about 1815, has been so beautifully restored.  Each room (and especially the pillowy beds!) is gorgeously decorated and comfortable, and the common areas such as the dining room and parlor are so homey and inviting.

   We spent a lovely and restful night there at the Snapdragon Inn, then had a leisurely breakfast on the back porch overlooking the lush lawn with its amazing trees and little garden paths. What a sweet little treasure this place is! I'm so glad we got to experience some time in such a historic place that is obviously so well loved. 
    I admit, all the Larson's hard work in bringing this nearly 200 year old home back to perfection had me inspired to come home and get to work on my own old house! Each room was just beautifully renovated, combining modern comfort with the beauty of the original integrity of the home.

    I count the town of Windsor and especially the Snapdragon Inn as the beginning of our romance with Vermont. What a beautiful place to start our adventure in that gorgeous, gorgeous state. 
   The inn itself is worth a visit to just have a leisurely rest and enjoy the scenery and spa services they also include. Or its an amazing home-base for leaf peepers or explorers looking to see the best of Vermont. It was within just a small distance from other picturesque Vermont towns such as Quechee and Woodstock. We also had some pretty amazing food right there in Windsor--- at the Harpoon Brewery (where I got my first taste of poutine!) and the Windsor Station Restaurant & Barroom
    If you're ever in the area, I highly recommend a visit. What better way to get to know a beautiful part of America than to stay in the home of the locals? And its a terrific way to support small business. Thanks so much to the Larsons, especially Michelle, for their hospitality and for sharing this beautiful place for all to enjoy!~


Tasha Tuesday: Baby Moments

  This week I rounded the corner into my third trimester--- and as I get bigger and wobblier and feel more kicks and stretches, I can't help but have babies on the brain!
   As the mother of four little ones, I admire Tasha Tudor and all she was able to do and create even more. She had said that many of her earlier works were done with a baby on her lap. I will soon be testing the theory of that work method myself!
   In the film "Take Joy", about Tasha Tudor's life and work, they show several sweet photos not only of her mother and child paintings, but photos from her own life.
   I am always struck by the tenderness and beauty of those personal family photos--- little bed-capped babies cuddled up in a fluffy bed, Tasha nursing a little one much as women have done for for hundreds of generations, but so sweet and snug in their 19th century method of life.

Of course I am all for running water, central heat and air, and a washer and dryer as I prepare to become a mother to a second little one. But I've also been thinking of the sweetness and quietness of the old fashioned ways of welcoming a baby into the world.
   It will be the heart of frosty winter when my boy comes, and taking Tasha's advice to not believe in hurry--- I'm going to take my time with resting and getting to know him and not pushing myself too hard to get back to life and work as before. I know it is a luxury these days to not be mandated by work or insurance about how long I get to be with my baby. With Audrey, I was required by my insurance to return to work within 6 weeks of her birth. There was a lot of hurry in that, and the stress of how to go back to work and juggle caring for a newborn and trying to nurse her at the same time.
   That wont even be a concern this time around and I am so grateful for that. So, winter will be a quiet time here at Audrey Eclectic-- as I take Tasha's advice, and the advice of all those early mothers who were able to have a proper 'lying in' after the birth of their child. I know my brain will be full of painting ideas, and my little one, much as Audrey has been, will surely be a source of inspiration.
   I know it will all be a big adjustment and there will be many tired and exhausting days and nights ahead. But I will try to 'take peace' and find joy in all the little things that will come to make everything richer and better, in art and life.

Happy Tasha Tuesday~

Published! Prims Magazine

    There are few things as sweet as spying a magazine in the ocean of publications at a book store, picking it up, flipping through and finding YOUR creations inside! This lovely experience happened to me just yesterday with the latest issue of Prims! And I was equally delighted to find my name on the cover and photo of my St. Lucia in the table of contents!
   I am so thrilled about the whole thing--- it seems ages ago since I made the dolls and wrote the articles, and they are now home with me. But its so sweet to be able to be in such a beautiful magazine and share what I love to do! 
   Here's a peek:

   A great big thank you to the people at Prims, especially editor Jennifer Jackson, for being so sweet about my work and featuring me in this beautiful magazine! It's such a pleasure to be included! Thank you, thank you!~


Tasha Tuesday: The Tasha Tudor Museum

 Good morning, my friends! Since it is autumn now I thought there was no better season to bring back Tasha Tuesday here on my blog!
   And for those of you who love Tasha as much as I do, I have a very special treat-- photos from the Tasha Tudor Museum in Brattleboro, VT!
   I was so thrilled to be able to visit the museum during my New England trip,and it was made even more special by getting to visit with friends.
  We drove to Brattleboro from New Hampshire on a picture perfect autumn day-- the scenery was breath-taking! And arrived at the museum in the mid morning.
   The Tasha Tudor Museum in housed in a handsome brick building in the main part of downtown Brattleboro and is surrounded by beautiful trees and homes.
   The museum itself is small and snug as the family searches for a more large and permanent location, but it is packed with Tasha Tudor jewels!

  The current exhibit (which only lasts through the end of the month before the museum closes for the winter!) was all about the world of Tasha's dolls, and included original art, examples of her beloved 'Sparrow Post', dolls and handmade doll clothes, all fashioned by Tasha herself.

   There was also a large collection of books by Tasha that you could look through and enjoy, some of the titles I hadn't even heard of! I was especially excited to see an illustrated copy of Little Women, it was just beautiful. And I'd been to Orchard House just a few days before! So many beautiful books, its amazing all the projects that Tasha did!

   There were also several displays of tools that Tasha used for her fiber works-- such as her spinning wheel and flax, and also one of her looms. That loom was huge, obviously weaving is not just a commitment of time, but space too! To be able to see the whole contraption and all the little pieces that went into making a piece of cloth was impressive. And to think Tasha taught herself how to do it herself--- Tasha's talent and determination were not just confined to art, for sure!

    The little striped piece of cloth on the right was especially touching to see--- it was the last bit of cloth that Tasha was working on before her death. And for a total Tasha geek like myself, it was just a pleasure to be able to see and touch so many of the things that Tasha worked on, and pieces that were part of her life and work.

    There was also a nice gift shop section of the museum, and you better believe that I loaded up on Tasha goodies--- from an Advent Calendar to note cards to cookie cutters to a copy of  A Time To Keep that I brought home to share with Audrey.

   I was just so thrilled to be there--- as Emily, Alyson and Patricia can attest too! I'm sure I was grinning like a fool. Being able to visit this little place was definitely a highlight of the trip. Not only was able to see Tasha's Vermont, but was able to peek in at a bit of her life and work. It was truly a wonderful day!~

   Hope you enjoyed this little visit to the museum!~
Happy Tasha Tuesday!~


   One morning during my trip my brother called me and asked, "what are you doing?"
"Oh, I'm sitting beside a covered bridge and a river in Vermont, what are you doing," I answered.

   It was funny to me, because when does anyone ever get to say that? But one day, I did!

   When we first crossed the New Hampshire state line into Vermont, it was already dark. We pulled up to our bed and breakfast (which was so adorable it will get its own post!) and had no idea what lay around us--- all we knew that it was probably charming and picturesque!

And boy was it! Vermont is beautiful country, especially in the autumn when the leaves are changing and the rolling hills all around are bright with brilliant hues. Of course Vermont is the land of Tasha Tudor, and I was so thrilled to get to visit the Tasha Tudor Museum (which I will talk more about!). We also visited Woodstock, VT. and Quechee, VT.

It was in Vermont too when I first tried poutine, evidently a special dish out of Canada! It consisted of french fried covered in brown gravy with cheese curds dolloped on. Whodathought, huh? I may have taken a couple of sips of Pumpkin Cider as well as we sat outside taking in the gorgeous landscape at Harpoon Brewery (I also had an excellent "Vermonter" sandwich there, complete with green apples on it! I loved eating my way through New England!)

In honor of bringing back Tasha Tuesday-- I thought tomorrow I would take you on a little tour with me and some friends to the museum! I was so excited to be able to visit--- and you know I went a little crazy shopping. But who could resist a corgi cookie cutter? And I've given you a little sneak peek--- that beautifuly orange maple pictured just above? Its right outside the museum! I know Tasha would have loved its brilliant color....

Til tomorrow!~