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"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!~!

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!~

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,

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

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,

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!~


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!~

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!~

A Cozy All Hallows

  One thing I love about the Traditional Church Calendar is that there are so many occasions to make merry. While for some, festivities began and ended with Halloween on Friday, for others it was just the beginning--- All Hallow's Eve (Halloween), All Hallow's Day (All Saints Day) on Saturday and All Souls Day on Sunday. It's a time of remembering, of celebrating family and friends, and getting ready for the approaching season of winter and Advent.

   Just in time to help celebrate, the weather turned more fall-like with a chilly and blustery edge. We took advantage of Saturday to really work hard to make our yard ready for the coming season of sleep; I planted an Autumn Blaze Maple that I just may be a little bit in love with, and also hacked away at a monstrous Forsythia that was so hulking and brambly that it didn't bloom anymore. 

  Of course there was also some important art business to take care of--- ordering the Christmas post cards! And I am happy to announce that they have all been ordered and in a couple of weeks I should have them all back--- and will mail out the preorders and also put some smaller card packs in my etsy shop. In the meantime, I will add some of last year's cards to the shop and also add a couple of original paintings I've got ready for holiday sales.

  I also need to dust off the old sewing machine and get to making some ornaments! It's so amazing that I plan all year for the holiday season, and when it comes back around I feel like "Already!?!"

   Well, back to work for me! And back to baby.....its a gray breezy day, a good day to cuddle in and work away inside!~
   Thanks for visiting me today!