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Summer, inside and out




  Here it is, the last day of June! And the sweltering bright days of summer are here for a while. Earlier we walked down to the post office to send some prints to their new homes, and that was about all we could muster for outside time. Being outdoors is now best done in the morning or evening--- that's just life out here, I guess ;) 
   I'm trying to keep the garden going though and I'm so happy to see the zenias starting to bloom! I sprinkled zenia seeds all over this yard in the spring--- and its no overstatement to say they're now coming up everywhere! In the lawn! In the cracks of the old rock garden! It's marvelous--- zenias are my new favorite. So dependable, hardy and easy.
   When the sun is high in the sky and its a little too hot to go outside, we can still enjoy nature from out our big old windows--- and lately the funniest little squirrel has been entertaining me out in the cedar tree just out our dining room window. I snapped a photo of him lounging on a low branch, resting his chin on a nut. He's not above doing a branch belly flop either, slinging himself across a branch and eating a nut while his tail dangles!
  As for me, I'm making good progress on the large commission Im working on and looking through books for, yes, Christmas art inspiration. And also thinking about what I will do with the new studio space! I cant wait to get moved over and spread out over there. I have no fear that I will be able to use every inch, ha! I cant wait to share the progress with you!
   Well, off for now! Will be back later---
H

A studio for Audrey Eclectic


    When we bought our house last year, we were thrilled to find that it also came with a wonderful, quirky, and full-of-character old carriage house. The bottom of the carriage house is a very long and narrow (by today's garage standards) garage area with a few dark and mysterious storage rooms (remind me to tell you the harrowing tale about how an old sink out there broke during the winter and hot water went streaming up to the ceiling and left  me standing in the water, trying to hold a broken knob on the spouting knob and call everyone I knew to "help me!" and it was 15 degrees outside. It's one of those 'funny after the fact stories ;) )

   Above the garage is an apartment, full of old timey details and many little rooms. Since we moved in last year, my brother has been renting this apartment from us, living there with his two big dogs, a German Shepherd and a Weimaraner-- known at our house as 'the Germans,' while my spaniels are 'the English.' As you might imagine from your history books, the Germans and the English are best kept separated! 

   We've loved having them just across the yard, and Jordan was pretty much a model tenant. However, he's decided he'd like to move on to more modern digs and so.....I am soon to have a lot of extra space (which I wont complain about!) and although I'm sad to see my brother and his pups go, I am nervously excited for what this new building will mean for Audrey Eclectic Folk Art!

   I don't know specifically what I'll do until I actually get myself moved in and start working in this new space. I do know that it will be really nice to get all my painting stuff and craft show supplies out of the house-- as my painting methods seem to turn into 'total wreck of art supplies' in a record amount of time!

   I'm planning on using the two back rooms with the big bank of windows for my painting space. There is also a bathroom and kitchen, and then three other room used for....well, to be determined! I think one would make a good storage and shipping room. A good change from packing up prints on the dining room table! That will leave me two more rooms though, and so I'm thinking of perhaps using them as display rooms-- and perhaps doing special open house days for people to come and shop.

   Something else I'd love to shoot for-- especially since Im not going to be doing shows this year-- is a St. Nicholas Day Open House, since St. Nicholas Day falls on a Saturday this year, so it seems just too perfect to pass up.

   There is a ton to do to get to that point though. But these are the ideas that I'm mulling over. The studio wouldnt be moving over til August, so there is time. I wanted to share this with you though, and share my excitement! I feel so lucky to have this opportunity to grow, and can't wait to see what the future brings!~

   Well, off to start the day!~
Talk soon,
H

Tasha Tuesday: Spinning and weaving




    Last fall I was able to visit the Tasha Tudor Museum in Brattleboro, Vermont and took these photos of Tasha's spinning and weaving equipment. It was fascinating to see these old pieces, antiques when even Tasha acquired them, and imagine all the hours she sat in quiet consentration spinning fibers into yarn or weaving threads into beautiful cloth.

   Lately I've gotten interested in fiber arts myself and would love to make my own art yarns for knitting. I think weaving is beautiful but seriously--- look at the size of that loom! Not exactly something you could keep in the hall closet! From what I've heard, Tasha would find these old pieces in barns, take them home, reassemble and repair them and put them to work. Looms are amazing pieces of early machinary (I learned recently that watching the function of a loom inspired the idea for binary code--- wuuut???!?) and seeing them work, especially on this large of a scale, is really impressive.

   In the bottom picture, you can see a piece of small blue and white cloth, which was the last piece of cloth Tasha worked on before her death. I love the design and color--- I'm a sucker for blue and white stripes! I'd love to try it someday, which of course means I'll add it to my ever-growing list of 'things to get into' in the future. There just isnt enough time to do 'all the things', is there!?

   Thank you for your visit today! I've got some more news to share with you as well! Exciting stuff :D so hurry back!~ 
   Talk with you later--
H

This week in my kitchen




    Hello my friends, on this gray and wet morning here in Oklahoma! I thought I would take part in the fun blog hop going on at Beauty That Moves. It's the "this week in my kitchen" blog hop, and so I will share a bit from my kitchen--- check Heather's page to see what others are doing in theirs!

   In my kitchen I finally got myself together enough (and the baby napped enough!) to make some banana bread. I was in the mood to make it a little fancier though, so when I mashed up the banana (just using THIS recipe found online) I diced up some peaches and mashed them in with them. 

   Ohhh goodness, it is so good! The bread came out very moist too, which I love. Cut of the end (I love corners and crusts! Anyone else out there love a good bread heel?) and put on some butter and made some vanilla chai. Perfection for a rainy day.

   Another thing I love about the kitchen is the good view of the bird feeder, and I can keep track of the goings-on outside under the cedar tree. This past winter I potted some little succulents to put on my window sill to enjoy when it was still cold and brown outside. After Audrey's birthday party with the pony cake, I put the cake bunting in one of the flower pots--- so festive, don't you think? :)

  As for art around here, I'm working on a large commission and also thinking about Christmas art. I hope to have a great selection put together for you all once the holidays roll around! One painting at a time, though...one painting at a time!~

   Have a wonderful day!~ And thanks for stopping in my kitchen!
H

Tasha Tuesday: Bird Love

 Tasha Tudor and her pet grey parrot play a trick on dinner guests

    Around 5 a.m. here at our house, baby rouses for his 'first breakfast.' It is still very dark with the curtains drawn, but I know a sliver of dawn has started to lighten the sky because I can already hear them--- the birds have woken.
   One thing I love about our old house here in the old part of town is that it is so full of big trees and the life that goes with them. There are several families of birds living and nesting in our yard-- and the feeder under the big cedar tree is usually drained within the hour. It is so fun to watch them living their little birdie lives just outside our windows; learning to fly and flit, twittering and trilling, foraging the yard and eluding the cat.


    Judging from her art and life, Tasha was also a big fan of feathered friends. Not only did she keep doves, parrots, chickens and little finches, but she used them constantly in her artwork. Little birds are constantly appearing in her paintings, which I also love to paint. They are either a central subject or a little detail peeking out of a border, part of nature and of home.

   Tasha also named her little make-believe postal system "Sparrow Post", where all the dolls and animals exchanged letters with her children. I love that idea--- so full of make believe and imagination! How Tasha found the time to keep up with all her correspondence AND an entire imaginary postal system (and do all the other labor intensive things she did!) I'll never know. But its a wonderful tribute to her imagination.
  

   And while I can admire Tasha for all her bird mothering, I am content to watch my feathered friends in the wild. They never cease to entertain, and their constant song is the backdrop for our summer. At our house, we love to see the cardinals and robins. Sometimes a pretty purple finch or yellow finch will stop by for a snack. We also love the mourning doves, who come by to sing us their low mellow song.

   Do you have any favorite birds of summer? Or keep some as pets? Do tell!~
happy Tasha Tuesday!~
h

projects


    I am surrounded by projects. Things to do--- things I want to do, things I have to do. I always think "after I get the house swept and the dishes out of the sink, I'm going to do something fun." But somehow, those things dont quite ever get done, do they? Everything being done and put away is a brief, fleeting moment-- if it happens at all.
   I keep my knitting basket out and poised for action of a down moment happens to occur. I'm still working on that Ashburn shawl--- who knows, it might really be winter by the time its finished! I guess that will work out ok ;)
   How about you, my knitting friends? Are you working on anything this summer? I know sometimes its hard to get motivated for knits when its hot and steaming outside. I like to knit for the promise of autumn though ;) its true--- living out here where we will have days and days of over 100 degrees....I'm not a fan of summer. I am evidently just delicious to mosquitos. And you cant wear sweaters and there's no pumpking anything (gasp!)
   But we'll get through it, as well always do! There will be the autumn gathering! And fun things for Christmas! Lets all say a fervent prayer to the Patron Saint of Babies Who Take Long Naps (whoever that may be??) so that I can get going at a good pace for the festive season!
   Anyhow--- wishing you a restful Sunday and a Happy Father's Day to all those good daddies in the world. The daddies in my family are out playing golf at the moment! Then it will be time for good food and family. 
   Thanks for coming by today!~
h

Quiet Moments

It's a quiet morning here. Little ones are still sleeping and I've been able to enjoy my coffee while the birds sing and socialize outside my dining room window.

  These quiet moments are nice, so that I can take a moment and try to organize all the thoughts in my head. So, so much going on :) 

  Will took this photo of me and Robbie the other day. It was underexposed so we came out very dark against the window, but I edited it to be black and white and think it looks totally "Nell Dorr."

 I like it too because it conveys more of a feeling than specifics. My little one in his baptism bonnet-- he was being cranky and I was trying to sooth him. When he cries he bleats like a little baby goat. I swear, it's precious ;)

  But---yes--- back to projects! I'm working on a large commission now and also stewing over a project that is based on Advent. Yep, Advent. Because let's face it, once July comes and its miserably hot, thoughts of winter might be the only thing keeping me sane! Ha!

The other day Audrey said crankily, "It's too hot out here! I hate it! I wish it was winter!" Consider that apple fallen very very close to this tree ;)

   To pass the summertime with minimal moaning, I've decided to do something a little different--- I've been reading about homeschooling, particularly the Charlotte Mason method (I've mentioned this before, right?) and so I'm trying to instill a more purposeful routine and some learning time into our days. Taking advantage of the community of birds that flock to the old cedar outside our dining room windows, we checked out several books about birds and Audrey has started a 'bird journal' so she can draw what she sees and we can look them up in the books. We also got a workbook of second grade activities and learning cursive (which she is desperate to do) and so far "I'm bored" isnt something I've heard too often!

  Of course Robbie is mostly interest in eating and sticking things in his little mouth to chew on. Teeth are coming, we keep peering in to see if we see any pearly whites-- but none have broken through yet.

  Well, the morning is slowly passing so I should go for now! I know things have been much quieter here since the baby came, but know that I still appreciate every visit and comment! I'm slowly getting back to the work I love--- but I know I need to cherish these special baby moments too. Its a constant striving for balance around here. Some days are more successful than others, but I'm giving it my best!~

Til next time,
H

Tasha Tuesday: Baptism Blessings


     This past Sunday was the feast of Pentecost, and it was also a celebration in our family because Robbie was baptized! We'd selected the dates months ago, and as the day approached, a little package arrived at our door-- it was a copy of "First Prayers" illustrated by Tasha Tudor, sent to Robbie by my good friend Patricia (who you may remember from last week's installment of Tasha Tuesday!)

    I had not seen this book before, but it is so sweet. It is very small, perfect for little hands. And it contains short prayers with accompanying illustrations of children and animals.

   Going through Tasha's bibliography, there are several religious themed books, including a book of hymns and of course her Christmas themed books like "Take Joy". So if you're ever looking for a special gift for a baptism, confirmation, first communion, etc. I think there are several Tasha books that are appropriate. Tasha for every occasion! ;)

  As for Robbie's special day--- I couldnt resist getting him a little bonnet to wear with his blue and white romper, and sweet white shoes. That silly kid--- his feet are already too big for the little infant shoes! And when it came to his actual baptism, he slept through most of it, although he was a little put out when he got the water on his head.

   It was such a special day, and I'm so pleased that we'll have this little book that he can look at and one day read, and remember "you were given this for your baptism!"

  Wishing you a happy Tasha Tuesday!~
H

Tasha Tuesday: A Visit To Corgi Cottage

       Hello there, fellow Tasha Lovers! I am thrilled to share this post with you and to let you know--- Tasha Tuesdays are back in session! Our first post is so special--- it's a peek inside Tasha's home and garden through the eyes of my good friend Patricia, who was recently able to do the home and garden tour at Corgi Cottage!
   She has been so kind as to write up her thoughts and impressions so that we too may stroll along with her as she gets a peek inside Tasha's world.....

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   I can’t remember a time when Tasha Tudor was not a part of my life. She seems to just have always been there, sitting on my bookshelves waiting for me to pick her up on a regular basis and read her stories, look at her illustrations, and learn about her lifestyle. 
     In the late 80’s, when I went away to college in Vermont, I knew Tasha lived somewhere not too far away, but I never really knew exactly where. This was many years ago, before Google! 
     I would drive the back roads of Vermont, just certain that I would stumble across her home; I’d knock on the door, she’d let me in and, recognizing a kindred spirit, we’d become fast friends. 
  I was always fascinated by the life that Tasha led and the way she lived it on her own terms, in the manner she chose. I read anything I could get my hands on about Tasha. 
    I remember the joy of getting The Private World of Tasha Tudor and being able to pour over the photos of her home and life. I still have that original copy that I bought over 20 years ago. I always hoped to have the opportunity to see her home, but never really thought I’d be able to.

     Heather and I have spoken about Tasha many times since we’ve become friends- it was nice to finally have someone to share my love of Tasha Tudor with! Last October we were able to go to the Tasha Tudor Museum together, and since that time we’ve had a lot of conversations about going on the house and garden tour together (for some reason this always involved the two of us in prairie outfits hanging out of a tree with binoculars- I guess we never thought we’d actually be able to go properly!)
     Through a series of serendipitous events, spurred on by Heather, I recently had the good fortune of being included in a private tour of Tasha’s home and gardens with a wonderful group of people who also share our love and interest in all that was and is Tasha Tudor. 
    I was very nervous before going. I kept viewing it as “before Tasha” and “after Tasha”, certain that I would never be the same again after having seen for myself where Tasha had created her world. I am also a very shy introvert, so just the thought of meeting a group of other people, including Tasha’s own family, brought on a bundle of nerves. 
    But I could not have had a better experience. The group that I met up with were kind, interesting, and welcoming people. Tasha’s family were very welcoming to us all.
     I also realized as I arrived that I would never have found Tasha’s home all those years ago! It is truly off the beaten path and you feel like you are arriving in another world; indeed a quieter, kinder, gentler world.
    We were separated into two groups, and my group was led by Tasha’s son, Seth. He was very down to Earth with a great sense of humor! He made us all chuckle several times with some of his stories about life with Tasha. 
     Walking into Tasha’s home was surreal. It is not a museum; it is most definitely a home that was well lived in and loved. They do ask you not to touch anything, as everything was left exactly how Tasha left it. 
    There are pencil, chalk, and ink drawings on the walls that Tasha did herself. Seth told us how she always had the habit of writing down the dates of her dogs, goats, and chickens births and deaths on the kitchen walls. She also wrote quotes, phone numbers, and notes to herself on the walls and doorways. There were dates of the first and last snowfalls, quotes that were meaningful to her, and even a small notation about the death of her brother, which Seth had only himself noticed that week.
     I found it very charming that written on a door in black marker was the notice “Very Important Don’t Open this Door- chicken.” 

   Tasha’s home was homey, cluttered , cozy- the type of home you want to curl up in with a cup of tea and a good book. 
   LaVonne, one of the women on the tour, had given us all notebooks when we arrived and I filled nearly every single page with notes about my impressions of each room of her home as well as the barns and garden. I had written on the first page “very dark, chilly but every room has a fireplace…cluttered with china and candles and lots and lots of books….”
   I keep rereading this description I wrote and I realized that, for me, it is absolutely the description of the perfect home. Every room had books, pretty floral china, lots of candles and all manner of candle holders. As you can imagine, the entire home is old fashioned and filled with antiques and old things. I spent quite a long time in her bedroom, where I felt I had to write down every single book on the shelf. I had to know what books Tasha kept close to her in her bedroom. 
   Whereas most of the other books scattered about the house were a mixture of literature, flower books, herb books, gardening books, and books about New England, in Tasha’s bedroom they were all literature save for a well-worn copy of the Bible. Her bedroom books included titles by Jane Austen, George Eliot, William Thackeray, Washington Irving, and Louisa May Alcott. 
    I was absolutely thrilled that she had what appeared to be an original copy of Irving’s Old Christmas, one of my all-time favorites to read during the holiday season. It made my heart happy that a woman I so admired had similar taste in literature as I have.
     Just outside of Tasha’s bedroom is her dollhouse. It is a three story high, “L” shaped glass fronted cabinet style house. The kitchen was at the top floor, the living room was in the middle, and the bedroom was at the bottom.
     It was a wonderful sight to see, with its tiny versions of real life items. I’m a big fan of Tasha’s Sparrow Post, so I was delighted to see several small letters on a desk in the dollhouse. 
   In Tasha’s library was a small clay nude sculpture. Seth told us that Tasha always said it was of her, that she had unwillingly posed at the age of 16 for an artist friend of her mother’s.
    In what was referred to as the winter kitchen was a large loom that still has the orange cloth on it that was the last weaving project Tasha worked on before her death. In this room is also the famous painting of her brother, Frederic, painted by their mother, Rosamond Tudor. 
    I will admit that I was more excited to see the painting of Frederic in Tasha Tudor’s home then I was when I saw the Mona Lisa at the Louvre! 
   Walking down the long hallway to the barn that was attached to the house, we were able to see where Tasha milked her goats and where she kept her doves. The canoe she has been pictured in on the pond was hanging from the ceiling. 
   We all got a bit of a smile out of seeing a dead mouse in one of the large barrels- mainly because as any Tasha Tudor fan will know, Tasha would have scooped that mouse out of the barrel and posed and painted him! 
   Seeing her home was so overwhelming that I was genuinely shocked when we were led outside and informed that Winslow would be taking over to do the garden tour. I had absolutely forgotten there was more to come! 
   Spring came late to Vermont this year. There wasn’t an abundance of flowers out yet, but there were tons of forget me not’s and violets scattered throughout the entire property. I never realized how wonderful those flowers truly are until I saw them in that setting, in that abundance.
    We were shown the pond and the vegetable garden, the redone pinks garden and the peony garden that Winslow is currently restoring. We were shown the greenhouse with its gorgeous large pots of roses and the bay tree and the secret garden, full of forget me not’s.
    As someone who is only now just learning to garden simple and basic flowers, it was truly awe inspiring. It definitely made me want to go home and reconfigure my own garden areas! 
   All too soon it was time to leave the property and head back  century. We were given lemonade, fruit, and cookies after the tour but I’m afraid my to the 21stbrain was so full of trying to remember every single detail, I’m not sure I really took in much after getting back to the Rookery! 

   There is no photography allowed, in fact they ask you to leave your cell phones in your car, so I have no photos of the day to share. 
   After being on the tour and seeing her home, I am absolutely grateful that this is the rule. I think having people snapping away would disturb the magic of the place and I heartily agree with leaving the cameras behind. I was truly overwhelmed by the wonderfulness that is Tasha Tudor’s home. If you ever have the opportunity to take the tour, I highly recommend it.

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Thank you SO much for sharing all this with us, Patricia! I am so thrilled for you that you got to make this dream come true! And I hope some day you and I can go together! 

   Til Next Tasha Tuesday!~...... ~H