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Fiber Christmas in July

    On Friday morning I stumbled bleary-eyed into the kitchen searching for my morning cup of coffee. "Merry Fiber Christmas!" My husband greeted me-- and oooooh, it was! ;) 
    Ever since I heard about it a few years ago, Fiber Christmas in July has been something I look forward to every year with sort of a bright eyed, yarn crazed, anticipation. a room full of yarn and fiber enthusiasts--- handspun goodies, raw fleece, art yarns, and people who love the same things I do--- yes please!

      I was able to chat with some talented friends who all had booths at the show--- including Denise at Lost City Knits, Vicki from Hardcastle Folk Art and Jane from Angora Jane (who also helps organize the event!) I loved seeing all their beautiful fiber works and hearing about what they've been up to. There's nothing quite so nice as getting to be around kindred spirits--- and yarn, ha!

    I had Robbie in his Tula and carried him around like a little kangaroo while I petted all the yarn in sight. I got some really beautiful yarns-- including some pretty art yarn from Two Window Dye Co.and the perfect 'dala horse red' yarn from Brooks Farm that I plan to make into a beautiful hat.

   I'm so glad we have this event here so close to home (literally just down the road a bit!) and that these vendors, even ones from out of state, travel here to Oklahoma to share their wares with us. It's great to meet people who are passionate about what they do, and it's neat to be able to buy things from the person who made them--- and many times actually own and care for the animal that the product is made from-- it makes the finished product that you create with your own hands that much more special.

   And now that Fiber Christmas is over, I am planning my own Christmas creations that I'll start making with them. The fun just wont stop, hehe ;)

    Off to start the day!~ 
Til next time--

Original Painting: Country Nativity

     I'm in the midst of Christmas painting, which honestly--- I love! Even though its July and its going to be 100 degrees today, my imagination is swirling with snow and evergreens. This latest painting is called "Country Nativity" and was inspired by the idea of children playacting the nativity in the every day surroundings of the family farm. Mama looks on from the distance, and the farm animals all decide to join in or at least watch (or cuddle up!)

    There is something very sweet about children making their faith part of their imaginary play. I can remember my heart positively melting a few years ago when I overheard Audrey giving communion to her little toys in the bath. And not long ago, as she was holding her little brother during church, she sang quietly along with the priest before communion. It's at those times that you realize--- your child is noticing these special things, internalizing them, letting these things spark in their imagination.
    It was that idea, combined with the idea of putting something holy in the context of a setting that was so 'every day' that inspired Country Nativity.

 I wanted to paint a wild and wooly sheep in the scene--- and I love how this one came out. Although Audrey told me he looks like a hedge hog- surely not!? Ha! And of course I couldn't forget the winter birds, eating the seeds left out in the snow--- and there are little bird tracks flecking the snowscape if you look close enough. Footsteps in the snow also connect the house to the nativity scene, a subtle connection between home and faith.

    I couldnt resist a red and white quilt again like I have in my painting Woodland Madonna. I thought a star quilt would be fitting for the nativity too. The children wear their nativity costumes (perhaps they are practicing for the church nativity play?) but also have on their mittens or shawls to guard against the winter cold.

   Right now the original painting is listed for sale in my shop! It is my plan to offer prints and hopefully postcards as well when the holidays get closer.

  I hope you like this piece! And that you dont mind a little snow in July!~
Have a great weekend,

Art as Charity--- UPDATE!

    What a difference a week makes! Wow guys. I am so happy that we were able to do our donation project through the print sales. And it went above and beyond my expectations! If you'll recall, last week there was an issue about illegal immigrant children that was really weighing on me. The only way I could think of to help was to offer a portion of print sales to donate to Catholic Charities, which is the organization appointed to aid these children find a safe transition and new home. I thought, perhaps, we'd raise maybe $50. I'd be happy with that. We reached that goal in about a day! I grew more and more excited as we edged up to $100. Then guys--- you bought every charity print I had! And we raised a total of $120! That is amazing!!

   On Friday I organized all the orders and got them packaged up and shipped out--- so if they haven't already arrived for my buyers, they will very soon. Then it was time to make the donation, and we gave the $120 raised to Catholic Charities of OKC, earmarked for the children of Ft. Sill. 
   It turned out that the OKC diocese wasn't set up to accept paypal payment, so I made the donation through my own checking account. I'm showing you a portion of the receipt email here, edited because it also contained part of my checking account info, so please pardon the cropping ;) 

   So....yes...THANK YOU to everyone who was so kind as to buy one of my special charity prints. I knew it was a great cause, I just hoped that one of my prints was enough of a incentive for people to make a purchase. So you can't imagine how gratifying it was to sell each and every one! 

   It's just proof to me that when we work together, we can do more than what we could imagine doing alone. And you've helped me to know that there are good people out there in the world--- that compassion and giving is alive and well in this world, even if it works quietly and behind the scenes.

  I hope our donation can help make a real difference in these children's lives. I have a feeling the spirit behind it will carry on to do even more good in the world!

Thanks SO much,

Tasha Tuesday-- On Wednesday

   So it wasn't that I forgot Tasha Tuesday yesterday. It was just that I never got a chance to come here and celebrate it. Ah well, that's how it goes. There's a lot going on around here these days, and my mantra has to be "I'll get it done when I get it done."

   One thing I did get to do yesterday--- even though it too isnt finished--- is work in my garden. It has been terribly neglected this year because, as it turns out, having a newborn really gets in the way of your gardening, ha! I would look out my kitchen window and just sigh in sadness over the weedy jungle growing out in my garden.
   However yesterday a cold front (in July!!) came through and the morning was just deliciously cool and perfect for yard work. I was able to get some time on my own to weed out some of the things that had me sighing and let the plants I actually wanted out there breathe.

  Of course its all very humble out there now, especially compared to Tasha's garden. I envy her talent and her climate! I'd love to have a garden as lush and mature as hers. I also think that working in her garden--- and it is some good, dirty work--- kept her fit and sharp. I hope I can have just a fraction of her garden success and health when I'm older!

   Today it is gray and still cool, and a drizzle is falling. It is the perfect weather for an English cottage garden, if only it would stay! But this isn't Vermont, and it certainly isnt England either!

   I'm hoping I can get out to do some more work soon-- as I've only done a small dent. And dream of next year's garden, when its a bit easier with baby to get things done.

   How is your garden doing this summer?
Happy Tasha Tuesday....er, Wednesday!


PS--- Thank you SO MUCH for your awesome response to Monday's post! We've already raised $60 at last count! I hope by friday I can get even more funds together, and I'll make the donation on Saturday.

Art as Charity, a new project

     I dont know about you, but sometimes reading about the current news makes my heart hurt. Especially as a mother, I am shocked and saddened at the violence and cruelty there can be out there in the world, and even in our own countries, states and towns. It is so easy for me to feel helpless and overwhelmed, which, if you know me, are two feelings that I really hate.    

    Recently, there has been a lot of talk on the news here in Oklahoma about the large wave of illegal immigrant children who have flooded into the US from Central America seeking refuge from instability and violence in their own countries. Many of these children have been detained by the government and have been temporarily housed in a handful of army bases, one of which is Ft. Sill in Oklahoma, to figure out where they should go and if they have any proper US guardians they can be sent to.

    In many of these cases, the children have been sent alone, under dangerous circumstances with people who probably don't have their best interest at heart, to a foreign country, whose language they don't speak. Many times, these situations do not end well--- they end up in human trafficking where they are abused and exploited. In some cases, they don't survive their circumstances. Yet they are fleeing from situations in their home countries that are even more dire. Can you imagine, as a parent, playing these terrible odds on your child's life? Of being so scared of what will happen if your child remains with you, that you are willing to send them off, maybe to never see them again, into situations that are extremely dangerous, in the off chance that they'll survive? I can't fathom it. My heart just aches. That is every parent's nightmare.

   Yet, knowing this, the welcome these children have received in my home state has been anything but compassionate in many instances. I've decided I wont go into my opinion on that here. It's not the place. Where my place is, though, is to speak up about how compassion is never the wrong thing to offer. How there before the grace of God go I, or my child. I read an article recently that pointed out that Christ himself was an immigrant child fleeing violence. And that it was the kindness of those along the journey and in the safety of Egypt, that helped him and his family survive. Or lets think about Moses, getting floated down the river in a basket. What a terrifying gamble his mother had to make for his life. Were these moments of compassion worth it? I'm going to have to say: yes.

    And so thinking about this, I kept wondering "what can I do to help?" I don't speak spanish. I don't have any legal expertise. But I do have art. And through art, I can donate money to the organizations helping these kids, and countless other vulnerable people in the world who could use the no-strings-attached kindness of strangers.

   So I read up on the issue, and found out that it is Catholic Charities of Oklahoma out of Oklahoma City that is organizing aid for these children to ensure that their next steps in their journeys are towards somewhere safe. As I explored the other charities they offer, I noticed that they aided a variety of really worthy causes--- such us disaster relief, aid for homeless women and their children, aid for women with unplanned pregnancies, legal aid for immigrants, refugee resettlement and social justice. All in all, some wonderful programs that I am excited to help in some way.

  My way of helping, of course, will have to come through my art--- and you can help! I've decided that for the next few days (or until my supplies run out!) I am going to donate $10 of each print of "Lamb of God" and "Madonna of the Blossoms" (which has just been freshly restocked in the shop!) to Catholic Charities of Oklahoma. If you'd like to purchase a print to help with this cause, all you need to do is buy your print in the shop as usual, and at the end of my offer I will make the donation to Catholic Charities of Oklahoma. According to their site, they can take the donations via paypal and I'll post a receipt of that donation here on the blog so we can see how much we can raise.

   Suddenly my feelings of sadness have lifted, and I feel good. I'm grateful that I'm in this country where I am safe, where my family is fed, clothed, dry and warm, and that I am able to use my own gifts to help others. 

   And if you'd like to buy a print, you can find there freshly posted in my etsy shop:

Thank you so much--

Lakeside Independence Day

    Last week we snuck off to the Ozarks, and enjoyed a perfectly calm clear and cool day at the lake. My husband's parents live off of Table Rock Lake and on the 4th we went for a drive in their boat and for a little swim. The lake was swarming with others enjoying the day-- but we had our own fun too!

  It was good to get away and unplugged. Sometimes being to 'plugged' gets overwhelming. I felt like I was in a rut and just needed a change. It is always good to be informed, but in this everything instant day and age, with connection from the outside infiltrating at every turn....it just makes my mind buzz sometimes.

  So it was nice....We drove by countless fields full of Queen Anne's Lace, and the summer wildflowers were out in full force along the rural roads. We wound through the dense trees of the Mark Twain National Forest, so thick and dim, with roads so winding and ear popping. When we got to the lake we went on slow-time. It was good.

   Of course, as soon as we got back I got terribly sick. I need to take better care of myself and this was an alarming reminder. Thankfully I'm feeling much better now and trying to channel the lull of the lapping waves and those bits of summer that are soothing and lovely (which is hard for me, since I am no fan of summer....its just so hot and bright. But I'm trying to be positive here!)

  A few things summer is good for though is lazy days....curling up with a good book, a big glass of iced tea. Drawing the curtains to the swelter of the hot part of the day and taking an all-house nap. Those are the things I enjoy about summer...how about you?

Til next time,

Tasha Tuesday: Nell Dorr Portraits

    A few weeks ago I was able to borrow the book "Mother and Child", which features the work of American photographer Nell Dorr within its pages. Dorr was a pioneering photographer, who loved to create photos of families-- especially mothers and their children. She also happened to be a very close friend of Tasha Tudor and her husband-- and Godmother to her children.

   The photos span several years, and feature Dorr's own children and grandchildren. There is no rhyme or reason to the photos, but they are all very moody and heartfelt, full of nostalgia and sweet scenes, for sure. Several of the photos are recognizable from the film "Take Joy" about Tasha's life.

   This last photo of Tasha with her hands in little Bethany's hair just kills me. It is so sweet, and that look on Bethany's face of a little girl admiring herself in a mirror, taking in her pretty dress....this is the stage I am in life right now with my girl. Its so bittersweet and lovely to see a snippet of Tasha at that time too.

   Well, friends, it is nearly 10 pm on Tuesday. Im sorry its taken me so long to get this post up! But, well, life and babies...what can I say? I made it, just in time though--- right?

Til next time--