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Audrey Eclectic Reader Survey!


    As it is with many of us, the end of the year is a natural time of reflection for me; what a year 2014! I am so grateful for the all the opportunities and friends that came my way, as well as new family members---especially my little Robbie!

  With 2015 almost upon us, I can't help but think of what this new year will bring for my art work, and Audrey Eclectic-- it's 8th year!

  I thought that a good way to make sure I head in a good direction would be to chat with you all, my readers and friends, about what you'd like to see here in the coming year. What are your favorite types of art? What are you looking for in art, cards, etc? What appeals to you about folk art? I thought it would be very interesting to find out and share with you as well.

  And so, if you have a spare moment, I'd SO appreciate it if you could look over the questions and give me YOUR answers! Feel free to just copy and paste them into the comment box and fill out from there.

  Thanks so much for making 2014 a great year!~ Here's to 2015!

Survey:

1) Where are you from?


2) How did you find out about Audrey Eclectic Folk Art?

3) Which art themes appeal most to you? (family, faith, historical, literary, Scandinavian)

4) What kind of items would you like to see offered in the etsy shop?

5) Do you have a favorite painting?




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Ok! That's it! Thanks so much for your help! This will help me glean a better idea of what to focus on and to offer in the coming year. I havent painted in a few weeks now because of the christmas rush, and I'm itching to get creating again!~
Happy New Year!
heather

Happy Christmas!~


    Happy Christmas, friends! I hope you had a wonderful Christmas Day! And now it is the 3rd day of Christmas! I may have just eaten pecan pie for lunch. Ah, but we are still feasting, yes?! ;)

   I hope you had a peaceful, joy filled day. It's been quieter around here than I intended, with our internet and cable unexpectedly going out on Tuesday and today is the first day I've been able to sit down to my computer and have it all work! Perhaps it was the work of Christmas Spirit, getting us all a little less 'plugged in' so we could focus on each other. I'm going to think of it that way, at any rate!

   
   We are still celebrating, as my husband's family are coming in today for a little Christmas, and this morning we received a totally unexpected snowfall! It was not something we thought would happen at all--- honestly, as kooky as Oklahoma has been lately with earthquakes and all, volcano ash falling would have made as much sense as snow ;) 

  Just another example of Mother nature pulling one over on the weathermen, who mentioned nothing of this sort--- and to think, we went out walking yesterday and didn't even need coats. 

  This morning I went outside to feed the outdoor creatures (our rabbits, the wild birds) and it was just quiet perfection. When I got to the bird feeder, a mourning dove stirred and cooed in the cedar boughs, and I just stopped for a moment to enjoy it. Something about snowfall just distills the peace of winter, I think. I know I always enjoy this rare treat here on the prairie.


     The quiet part of winter is now upon us, although we are still considering it Christmas until January 6 when we have Epiphany. I had hoped Robbie would be born on Epiphany....but he came 4 days later. Which reminds me me--- we're going to have a one year old in this house very soon!

  I'm looking forward to these quieter days of "Christmas" and the coming new year, for sure. The new year is always like a new chapter. I can't wait to see what 2015 brings. Hopefully more art, and more wonderful adventures! If all goes according to plan, there will be another New England adventure in my future for 2015! I can't wait!

   And so....must go for now, but thanks for stopping in! Wishing you a wonderful Christmas, friends!
heather

Christmas At Our House









    Christmas has now come out in full splendor at our house--- well, three feet and up, that is. We are not doing our big tree this year because, well, 11 month old. I don't need that kind of stress in my life ;) so the big tree and all those breakable little things...will snuggle in the attic for another season.

   We were still able to get out a lot of our favorite festive things--- like a new Tasha Tudor Advent Calendar sent to us by our friend Patricia, and we created our own Advent table top wreath out of candles we already had on hand and greens from the backyard strung with some berries I got at Michaels last year.

   Our mantle is one of my most favorite parts of this old house, however the top is cold hard stone; to be able to hang our stockings, and to give the whole thing more homey warmth, I've put an old crochet table cloth that belonged to my husband's grandmother on the mantle and hung the stockings with these fancy things called....paper clips ;)

  I also love getting out my Nicol Sayre Santas, the majority of which I've gotten from Bayberry Cove. My mama always collected santa when I was little, and I think I've caught that interest. The fabric "St. Nick" with the red cape is one I made myself and he was in Prims Magazine last winter (although he very modest about it with the other santas, hehe)

  With a week left til Christmas, all our gifts are now bought and I'm just ready to cuddle in and enjoy some simple festivities while avoiding the holiday craziness. As I get older and more opinionated and set in my ways, I'm beginning to feel like the frenzy part of this time of year is not truly Christmas. I'm beginning to resist the idea that we 'must consume' and stimulate the economy in order to show those we love that we love them.  And just between you and me, I'm sort of looking forward to the sudden quiet that comes with January.....I know for many the second half of winter feels like a cold and dreary let down, but I'm going to do my best to appreciate the quiet and much slower pace. I'm also going to take part in the Hibernate retreat over at Beauty that Moves. Heather is so good at creating an environment of intentional focus and gratitude, I can't wait for it to start!

  Well, as usually happens, the baby has lost his patience with me sitting down and not giving him all of my attention. So I will sign off for now!

  Just know I appreciate you coming here to visit--- and a HUGE Scandinavian "Thank You!!" TACK!! for those who participated in the St. Lucia Blog Procession! It was our best yet and I LOVED reading all your posts! Thanks so much! And a very merry Christmas--- God Jul!~!

Merry Blessings,
H

St. Lucia Day Blog Procession


    HAPPY ST. LUCIA DAY!
   Welcome to my second "St. Lucia Blog Procession" here at Audrey Eclectic! I'm so glad you could stop in to visit--- and please join us in the procession if you'd like to! (you can add your blog link to the linky tool at the end of this post)


      Something about the story and tradition of St. Lucia and Scandinavian Christmas in general has always spoken to me. Blame it on the Kirsten Doll I got in the second grade, but I've always loved the home spun sweetness of a Scandinavian Christmas!
   
    Here in the US, where we are very far from the land of reindeer and the Northern Lights, we still have our Scandinavian elements. Many Scandinavian immigrants came out to the prairie that I call home, bringing with them their customs of straw ornaments, good food, and tales of a beautiful saint bringing light and sweet goodies on a dark winter's night.


   A couple of years ago we were able to visit Lindsborg, Kansas for their St. Lucia Festival (you can read all about it in my 2012 Saint Lucia Procession Post!) and it was so magical to see the Scandinavian culture and heritage through the lens of American pioneers.

   The simplicity and love of nature inherent in a Scandinavian Christmas are also very appealing to me--- and I love gathering recipes and craft ideas for things to do during the holidays from my favorite Scandinavian Christmas books--- like these by Trine Hahnemann and Hege Barnholt:


    One thing that I LOVE about Scandinavian Christmas is that nature is so close at hand. In Lindsborg we bought sheaves of wheat to leave out for the birds, according to custom. But this year-- far from Lindsborg and no wheat fields to gather from, we took inspiration from the book Handmade Scandinavian Christmas to make ''bird cakes" for our feathered friends this winter.


    Audrey was very eager and willing to help out with this project--- she loves watching the birds outside our windows just as much as I do, and this was a great project to get a little gooey and creative with.
   The ingredients for the bird cakes were simple; we used birds seed and lard. Yep, lard. Or you can say 'rendered fat' if that makes you feel fancier. I know it does for me ;)


 
    Making these little bird cake ornaments were so easy and so fun. All we did was put some big dollops of lard in a bowl, mix in some bird seed so that the lard was pretty well covered in seeds, then we rolled out the 'dough' to cut with cookie cutters, or roll into shape like play dough.
   To be honest, the rolling method was easiest. The concoction was just a little too fluid to work well with the cookie cutters, although we had more success with some shapes than others.
   In the end, the best ways to make the cakes were to roll the dough into balls, or mold it into hearts.
  With some of the ornaments, I poked a hole through the middle with a wooden skewer, although some I just left whole.
    When we had all the ornaments we needed, we put them on a tray and stuck them in the freezer. When they'd set (they were harder but still a bit sticky) we tied them with string to make into ornaments!


    Once we had them all secure with the string (I used cotton yarn you can find for just a couple of dollars at the craft store) we took them outside and hung them on our little maple tree to entice our little feathered friends!


We had so much fun making these ornaments--- and it was a pretty quick and easy project, that are good for nature as well! Since its so cold in the winter, these ornaments will keep their shape, yet they remain soft enough that the birds will be able to pick out the seeds.
   The lard (or suet if you'd rather use beef fat instead of pork) is actually very good for birds during the winter. It will help them keep warm and give them an extra energy boost that is so important in keeping them healthy during the cold winter months.
   You can use these little ornaments all through the winter and cool part of spring, but they are not recommended to be used during hot summer months.
 
   So perhaps if you have a gray winter day that needs a simple and fun activity, I highly recommend this one-- the birds will thank you for it!

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And so....thus concludes MY St. Lucia Blog Procession Post- but we're just getting started!
    I have many friends who are joining in the fun--- and you're welcome to join in too! There is a linky tool at the end of this post where other participating blogs are listed, please take a moment and give them a visit! Perhaps with some coffee and a Lucia Bun in hand? I know my friends out here on the internet have some wonderful things to share! And please, feel free to join in the fun!
Thank you for stopping by today!~!
God Jul,
Heather

St. Lucia Day Approaches!


  Can you believe it?! It's almost St. Lucia Day! And time for the St. Lucia Day Blog Procession! If you'd like to join in, just create a post on your own blog pertaining to the theme of St. Lucia or Scandinavian Christmas. I'd love to see what you come up with! And then we can have a little online holiday party of sorts :)
   I will post a linky tool on my post here on Dec 13 (saturday) where you can leave the URL of your post and an image. It should automatically add you to the list of participating blogs and we will all be able to see eachother's posts and visit each other!
  Definitely just something to have fun with, no pressure! And if you aren't able to post it Dec. 13, no worries! Feel free to add your post as the week goes on! And be sure to check back to see if there are any new additions! :D

Advent Blessings to you and yours!~
Heather

Tis the season of Giving


    So, you know I've been working on trying to have a quiet Advent and Christmas. I think a better word for it would be: Intentional. Trying to cut down on things that aren't absolutely needed ( please. Don't worry about the 11 month old! Right now he loves crinkly paper and spoons he steals from the dish washer!)
   When thinking about my own intentional giving, I wanted to do something in that vein through my shop, and I've decided on my sweet little "A Child's Prayer" as the piece with which to do some good with art.
   You might remember I created this painting this past summer and auctioned off to raise funds for International Orthodox Christian Charities. I was inspired to do so by the plight of the Christian and other ethnic minorities facing such terrible treatment and conditions in the middle east. They are being forced to flee their homeland of centuries, sacred relics and sites have been destroyed, families have been separated and people have been hurt or killed in the most inhumane ways.
   My heart is still with these people--- and thinking about what this Advent and Christmas season might be for them makes me want to do whatever I can to ease their stress, sadness and fear and bring any small comfort and joy. I think that is the true, distilled meaning of this season.

  And so--- my offer to you, if you'd like to help contribute-- is simple! For every purchase of this piece as a print ($18) I will donate $10 and for every purchase of a card set ($10) I will donate $5. That's all you'll need to do! I will collect the money until December 24 and then send the funds to IOCC earmarked especially for their middle east programs. Since the Christians in this area enduring this trauma or Orthodox, I felt that the IOCC was the most appropriate organization to support with these funds.

   Anyhow--- thanks so much for coming here today to visit with me! I hope you have a wonderful week!~
heather

   

St. Nicholas Day Blessings!


    Happy St. Nicholas Day! One of my favorite holidays of the year, and when the Christmas season really and truly begins to start! This is particular was a nice one, since I had treats from friends waiting for me, and I got out all my sweet little St. Nicholas things (my mama cross stitched the St. Nick sampler, and my sweet friend Winnie sent me the dutch clogs from her trip to Holland a while back!)
   Recently I saw this adorable little St. Nicholas doll from Shining Light Dolls and I knew...I had to make him mine! When its not St. Nicholas Day he will live with my best tea cups and the clogs and dala horses in my china cabinet. The doll comes with a prayer card and info about the saint--- they have a wide variety of dolls, including several international Madonnas.
   
    Well, its another cold gray here today, but all the pretty Christmas things and music have me feeling festive. Tomorrow is the St. Nicholas Day festival at our church, and there's also Lessons and Carols. We'll also take part in Las Posadas and a living nativity later on in the month. It's my hope that the things we do to celebrate the season will be the meaningful things--- the rest I can do without! I don't remember where I heard it, but the saying "saying no to one thing means saying yes to another."
   We might say 'no' to some activities, but that just means we're deciding to spend our time and effort on something else. That 'something else' might be knitting in bed with hot chocolate, but hey-- to me that's time well spent ;)

   Wishing you a wonderful weekend full of simple things that make you happy---
Til next time
H


PS-- Don't forget YOU are invited to join me in celebrating St. Lucia Day with a blog procession on Dec. 13! All you'll need to do to take part is create a blog post somehow tying into St. Lucia or Scandinavian Christmas, then come here and add your post web address to the list I will provide! Cant wait to celebrate with you!

New postcards, and Quiet Christmas





     I am very, very pleased to share that I have some new holiday postcard sets in my etsy shop right now! New designs include Winter Knitting, Stille Nacht, A Child's Prayer and a mixed collection of some old and new images. Perhaps there is a set that speaks to you?

  I wanted to say thank you too for your comments and emails on my last post. I appreciate it, and its good to know that I'm not alone in my longing for a quiet Christmas. I am making good steps towards it-- although it takes a decided effort. The world wants everything to spin out of control, but I have learned to turn off the tv, step away from whatever is grating on my nerves-- be it the radio, the internet, whatever, and find somewhere quiet to be.

  Around here the weather has been wet,moody, overcast, and perfect for this quiet Christmas endeavor. This morning baby and I packed up the stroller and did our post office run, and it was so drizzly and gray--- but about 65 degrees, so it felt nice. All the gardens and yards are brown and wet with faded autumn, the birds are out scouting for food, and things are pretty quiet aside from the handsome decorations on the old mansion by the post office and the wreathes and christmas lights on all the houses along the way.

   These little things are what make me happy--- that and some fresh gingerbread cookies with coffee! Or pretty candles on a dim holiday mantle, and Christmas music (the soft kind) playing through the house.

   Wishing you a little bit of quiet time this Advent and Christmas. And if you've made Audrey Eclectic a part of your holidays, please know I appreciate it so so much!~

~H

  It's so strange....I spend most of the year preparing for Christmas. I paint snow and nativities when its 100 degrees outside. And then suddenly, the world joins in and it feels like the rush is on.

   Today Baby and I took a walk after we did our post office errands (art is on its way! :) ) and it did me good to try and calm my mind. It's only December 2 and I feel like I need to make real effort to keep things quiet and calm, at least within my door. The world is all a-frenzy--- we are told to buy and do, and be merry and be together, even if you don't feel like being or doing much of either!

   I admit, this time of year brings out the antisocial stay-at-home bird in me. I even wished for a little bit of that Thanksgiving snow you all got in the northeast, the perfect excuse for cuddling in and staying home! As for me, I try to go out strategically, when the least amount of people are out. And as it gets colder, I just want to stay indoors and paint--- maybe go for a quiet walk, but that's it; just the birds, animals and a baby in tow.

   Speaking of babies....this one here has been very clingy and fussy lately. New teeth are coming (do babies REALLY need so many teeth? I think we're good with what he's got...we need a teething break!) It's hard to have a coherent thought, much less paint something, when someone is constantly clinging to your legs whining and crying. 
   The other morning he woke up at 4 a.m., ready to go and start the day. Wearily I got up, made myself some coffee and looked out the curtains at the dawn decidedly not coming. It was dark and cold outside, and I just longed for my bed. 
   It wasn't long though, before thoughts of all I need to do started coming. It is frustrating when a chore list that would have taken me 30 minutes to complete a year or so ago now takes all day. I'm still a dishwasher load behind since Thanksgiving. 
   I decided to light a candle on the mantle while I sat on the couch with my coffee and the baby babbled and crawled, quite satisfied with his early rise. Sitting there watching the flame flicker, however, was calming. It's something we loose with all these electric lights. 
   As the flame danced, my mind relaxed and my teeth unclenched. Suddenly, I didn't feel the urgency or hurry. And it was really nice. 
    
    So now, that is what I want for Advent. Light the candles; be together. Don't let the flip side of holiday merriment--- which is worry, frenzy, disappointment and frustration-- take hold of the season. Find the quiet where you can. That perhaps imperfect, but much needed quiet. And a little light in the dark.

"Holiday at Home" SALE


    I don't know about you, but the weekend of Thanksgiving--- for me--- is all about cuddling in and getting ready for the holiday season! I think there is nothing better than a holiday at HOME! That doesn't mean you can't get any of your Christmas shopping done during a nap time or while you wait for the cocoa to heat up!

  If you've had your eye on a special little something in the shop, or need something unique for a holiday gift, I've got a holiday sale code for you to use, so no need to put on those snow boots or head out into traffic! Oh, I do love a good excuse to stay in my nest :)

   From now until DECEMBER 2 you can use the etsy coupon code JOY2014 and get 10% off your entire purchase! Just use the code at checkout. 

  Wishing you a blessed and lovely holiday season!~!
~H

Ready to Give Thanks


    I just wanted to stop in and wish my American friends a Happy Thanksgiving! I've been busy getting ready, and being my grandpa's apprentice! My Grandpa is the family cook--- was one of 5 boys and the one his mama taught all her cooking secrets too.
   We cooked the turkey yesterday, and are boiling the bones for broth to make the dressing tomorrow. Looks like we will be all set to go for my first time to host the feast tomorrow! I feel suddenly so grown up ;)

   This time of year is also a great time to count blessings, and I have so much to be thankful for. My family, wonderful friends, a beautiful home that we will grow old in (and perhaps garden every square inch of the yard??? Or most of it?) healthy happy kids and an amazing partner to share it with. 
   I am also so thankful that I get to do this and share it with you. Being able to paint the things I love is such a wonderful gift and I don't take it for granted. I'm also so grateful that others enjoy the things I make. I am truly, truly thankful for all of it.

  So--- thank you--- for helping make this dream of mine be a reality! I appreciate every order, every commission, every sweet comment that just warms my heart. You are lovely. Thank you :)

   May you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!~
~H

House Tomtens to Adopt!


    Last year my little House Tomten ornaments were such a success, that I knew I had to offer more for you this holiday season! Last year I only made boy tomtens so this year, I knew what I needed to add were...lady tomtens!

   What are tomtens, you ask? Why, they're marvelous little things! "Tomtens" "tomte" "Nissen" "Tomte Nissen" or "Nisse" depending on which Scandinavian language you're using, are little nordic gnomes who are very industrious and very good to have around! They secretly live in homes and farms, and come out at night to guard the house, the barn, and all the inhabitants and animals during the long and cold winter nights.

   One of our favorite little books about tomtens is "The Tomten and the Fox" by Astrid Lindgren (of Pippi Longstocking fame)-- it is a very quiet and magical tale about a tomten who protects his farm from a hungry fox by sharing his porridge with him.

   And so, if you think one of these little creatures is just what you need for your Christmas tree, I have several that are handpainted on cotton with felted raw wool hair, all in need of homes and ready for adoption!


    Now, for simplicity's sake, these little tomtens are going to be sold here on the blog, first come, first serve. You can either leave your paypal email in the comments section here on this post for me, along with the number and name of who you'd like to come stay with you--- or email me at audreyeclectic@gmail.com

    Each tomten is $10 plus $2 for shipping. So you will be invoiced for $12. I will list all these jolly little tomtens below, and also note who has and who hasn't been adopted.

   Oh, they are all so excited! Will they live north or south? Will they have a cold and snowy Christmas, or a bright and sunny one? They are ready to meet their new families and hang proudly on their tree!



Adoptable Tomtens:

Gentleman Tomtens:
1. Sven SOLD
2. Olaf SOLD
3. Erik SOLD
4. Carl SOLD

Lady Tomtens
1. Linnea SOLD
2. Ingrid SOLD
3. Sonja SOLD
4.Karin SOLD



Thanks so much! And don't forget, you are cordially invited to take part in our St. Lucia Day Blog Procession coming up on Dec. 13~!


The Anticipation of Advent

 
      Advent is my favorite time of year. In it's purest form, it is quiet; it is about anticipation. Being with family and a season of reflection. 
   Of course, this is really hard to do in this world where, as of October, we're being bombarded with messages of "you must buy this now!!!" and the feeling that if we aren't frantically piling our schedules with holiday 'merriment' we're somehow doing it wrong.
   That's when I like to turn off the tv, or walk out of the frantic atmosphere of the store I'm in and just....let it go, Elsa style ;)


    Last year I was very very VERY pregnant at Advent. Talk about a personal experience of weary expectation ;) and now I'm headed into Advent with a spider-monkey mobile baby who is currently corralled in a bouncer, giving it all he's got, while babbling at the top of his lungs. And this is what this past year has taught me that I can use for Advent:
    
     - You're not going to get it all done. Be at peace with that. You can do what you can do. Of the 15 things you want to do, be satisfied if you can accomplish 5. Choose carefully what is most important to you, and do those things, and try to do it with a peaceful heart. If you listen to the world around you--- this is a season and a world that wants you to do all the things, no matter what. But all that will lead to is an exhausted mama, and probably a tantrum or two from an over-tired child. Cue Elsa ;)

   -  It's not about the stuff, it's about how you celebrate. Last year I heard some pretty unbelievable things from people when they found out I was due just weeks from Christmas. A highlight was "your kid will hate you if it's birthday is on Christmas!"
    Usually I'd just give them a confused smile and move on; "thanks for the warning that I need to brace myself for my child's future counseling!"
    But I also rebelled against the idea that having a birthday during the most beautiful time of the year would be a cause of sadness. Sure, people might be gathering with family when it's your birthday-- causing a birthday party to be put off a few days; sure, some people might give you a birthday/Christmas gift combo (seemingly the worst thing, ever).
   BUT--- you also get a birthday when there is an almost palpable sense of hope and beauty like no other time of the year; there are songs and treats and special activities going on all around you;  the story of the birth of the Christ Child and your birth are also linked in a rather special way; and yes, mama and daddy will give you things for Christmas AND your birthday, just like they do for your sibling.
   All will be well ;)


    And so, that is my hope for Advent--- for you, and for me. It's funny, I've begun to notice that a lot of my art centers around quiet things. Staring up into the snow filled sky, rocking a baby by the Christmas Eve fire, lighting candles in front of an icon. These, I suppose, are the actions I find meaningful for the season.
    These are the moments that I enjoy, with the most anticipation, during Advent. I hope you get a few of these moments too.

    Til next time,
~H





Join Me! St. Lucia Blog Procession Dec. 13


   Perhaps it's the snow on the ground, but I'm already thinking about fun things to do here on the blog for the holidays! One thing that we had so much fun doing the year before last was the "St. Lucia Day Blog Procession" and I think it's high time to bring back that tradition!

   How does this work, you ask? Well, it's LOTS of fun! And a great way to make merry together! If you'd like to take part, all you'll need to do is make a St.Lucia and/or Scandinavian Christmas themed post on your blog. 
   Then, you can come here to my blog--- where I will have my post, complete with a linky tool embedded at the end, where you can also enter your blog post web link. Trust me--- it's very easy :) and it will create a nice listing of everyone taking part so that we can all go visit each other's blogs, say hello, and celebrate this special day!

   If you'd like to see the last blog procession post I wrote, you can view it HERE. (note, the linky tool has expired on that post, so it wont show up)

  I would LOVE to have you join me! Munch on some Lucia cakes, make some steaming fresh coffee, light some candles, and celebrate the feast day of this lovely saint celebrated around the world!

   St. Lucia brings the light, and also an opportunity for great friendship and merrymaking! :D
~H

Snow and Christmas Cards


     Sitting here this morning at the dining room table looking out at a sky that is heavy with snow. I can feel it in the air, almost smell it. Snow is coming!
    Although our autumn foliage here has just peaked and we still have some leaves on the trees, winter is hot on autumn's heels. And it's that time, you know....to start thinking about Christmas cards!


      I've added a few of last year's designs to my etsy shop and they are ready to purchase now. I am, (sigh), still waiting on my order of the 2014 designs. Half my order arrived earlier in the week totally unusable. It's been a mad scramble to get them reprinted and pressing that I need them "ASAP" in a very nice way. They are being reprinted quickly though, and I should have them all (fingers crossed, knock on wood, say a prayer) next week. 
    Then I will send out all the pre-orders and stock the etsy shop with the remainder of the cards. 


    And so....I get back to thinking about Christmas things and waiting for snow. I'm making some little ornaments as well and will list them just as soon as they're all ready! Readying for Christmas with a baby under foot is tricky, but we're getting things done!~
    Wishing you a wonderful weekend,
H

Commission: Madonna of the Romanian Woods

   I just recently finished up a really fun commission for a very talented artist friend. Nancy asked me if I would consider revamping my painting "Woodland Madonna" in a commission that would reflect her Romanian heritage. She even shared with me a beautiful family photo with the family dressed in intricately designed Romanian textiles--- and I knew I had my inspiration for this Madonna!~

   In this painting, the Christ child's blanket and Mary's dress are done in my take on traditional Romanian textile patterns and colors. Nancy's family photo was in black and white, so I had to make my guesses on the colors, but from my research into the patterns, bright reds, blues and dashes of white and little floral patterns are very common in Romanian folk dress.

   I was so happy to be able to do this project--- one part research project, one part painting project. The best of what I love to do, especially with some Eastern European folksy flare. 

  I'm happy to report that Nancy loves her painting and will be hanging it in her own studio where she does some amazing work, including icon writing. I hope her new Madonna of the Romanian Woods will offer her lots of inspiration!~

   ~H

Putting the Garden to Bed


    Yesterday this ornery little gnome and I went outside and planted about 70 bulbs in our side yard. It was the last warm day before the cold front moved in last night--- now many of us in the US are having a cold and shivery day! Hard to believe yesterday we were in short sleeves.

   The past few days have been all about putting the garden to bed for the winter, although Im still not done. This past year was terrible for gardening--- basically, I couldnt do it--- and so a lot of my big plans didn't come to be. Honestly, MOST of them! Gardening is like a bad boyfriend sometimes ;) you think "that's it! It isnt worth it! You've disappointed me for the last time!" and then the roses appear and your heart softens and you're...ok...maybe ONE more try ;) However, I highly recommend a garden over a bad boyfriend ;)

   So now I'm back in the love stage, haha, with big plans for next year. I found out recently that a man who lived in this house for 40 years grew epic tomatoes in the back garden. His grandson was kind enough to share some memories with me about the place. So yes, next year we must have tomatoes. And I feel like the back rock garden and the garden for the carriage house is just aching to be a traditional English cottage garden. Wisteria is on my short list for things to get next spring, along with planting heaps and heaps of hollyhock, cosmos and zennias.

   I've also gone a tangent of researching bees--- not honey bees, but more like Orchard Mason Bees-- which are great pollinators and very gentle, they rarely sting, and then only if being hurt. I like the idea of bees, but I dont want to mess with them, if you know what I mean. Looking at these type of bees, I think they're a perfect fit! I'd like to make a bee house for them to move into during the early spring and lay their nests. Then we will have epic tomatoes again here on our corner lot.

  So yes.....quite strange things to be thinking about in November, aren't they? Sometimes there's no rhyme or reason to what captures my attention. But there are so many interesting things to learn about and try in this world. I feel like I learn more now than I ever did in school! 

  Speaking of school, there's a little girl who needs her breakfast so she can be off to class--- talk later! Thanks for coming by!~
~H

FREE! Printable Advent Calendar


    Ive had this idea for a free, printable Advent Calendar for families to download and make their own for months now, and I'm happy to share that I've been able to get it done! Even with a crazily mobile baby underfoot!
   You can find the calendar here on the blog in the "printables" page (tab is located at the top of the blog under the banner.) I had to upload it as a JPG file, but if you'd prefer a PDF I have that as well--- just email me and I can send it to you if that's what you prefer!


  Audrey helped me out by coloring the first sheet for me so I could see it all fancy and bright. I think she did a great job and made a beautiful St. Lucia!

   And as I said--- this is a free gift from me, to you! You can use it as a fun home project, for Sunday School or homeschool, however it may be of use. Just not for profit, of course :)

  This has been so fun. I think there will be more color pages in my future! Suggestions welcome!~
Enjoy!~
h