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Waiting For The New Year

      This morning I was looking through some of my photos from this year to find one that seemed to look like how I feel on this last day of the year---- and this is what I chose. I took this photo at Old Sturbridge Village this summer. What a pretty, quiet scene. The woman standing in her doorway looking out, watching quietly as life streams by her garden gate. 

   I'm feeling this sort of mood--- quiet and watchful. 2015 was full of such wonderful things, but I'm ready to close this chapter and set sights on the New Year. Someone in the house has had a cold or cough since before Thanksgiving too....so that probably has a lot to do with my mood of 'lets get on with the show, onward and upward!'

   I wanted to say thank you as well to all of you who made this the best year yet for Audrey Eclectic. I am so glad to have chatted with you, to have mailed you pieces of art to places far and near. It makes me so happy when something I've made can have meaning and bring joy to others. That is SO wonderful!

   Now that the Christmas mailing rush is done, I'm getting a little rest and thinking about what I'd like to do this coming year. I really want to do more publishing projects this coming year. And its my hope that more inspiring travel is in my future as well!

  I'm also wanting to do a little more blogging and writing here on the blog, and I hope all of these things will be interesting and fun for you to come along on.

  Thanks so much for coming to visit me here, I appreciate it so much! I hope you have a wonderful New Year, may it hold wonderful things for us all!~

See you in 2016!~

In search of 'hygge'

     This morning when I woke up the light was that pale, light blue of winter. Light made only when its coming in through bare branches and snow on the ground. There was nothing to do for the moment but snuggle in further under quilts and blink awake. 
   "It's snow!" The baby chirped, pointing out the window. And yes, our first snow of the winter has arrived, a little surprise at the end of a three day deluge that soaked this prairie through with wet and bitter cold.

   So here we are, on the other side of Christmas Day. And I'll confess....as much as I love Advent and Christmas Day, I was ready to be here. As the holiday barreled towards us, we all came down with colds and a hacking cough that still lingers. My head was so stuffy and ached on Christmas Eve. Time with family was lovely, and the Christmas Eve service at church so beautiful, but I just wanted to lay down in some little corner and close my eyes.

   Luckily I felt better Christmas Day, but by December 26, "The First Day of Christmas", I was dismantling the tree and the trimmings because I just wanted calm. I keep thinking of the concept of "hygge", the Danish word (pronounced 'HUE-guh') that envelopes the feeling of warm coziness and comfort. 

  Now, capturing hygge (but do you capture it? No, you probably sink down into it....like into a pile of furs with a cup of cocoa in hand by a fireside....) is fleeting here. Currently my children are howling as they pretend to be wolves and my 'clean house' disappears as fast as is if I were trying to sweep up the desert in a sandstorm. But I'm trying. I'll take it where I can get it.

   Some things that help--- lots of hot tea and coffee. The tea I take steaming and whorled with honey to calm this cough and scratchy throat. Also piles of new books from family and friends that I am so excited about: "Tasha's Delightful House" showed up on our doorstep all the way from Japan on Christmas Eve. The package, so very exotic, was waiting for us, propped up on the porch, when we returned from that night's church service.

   "Pioneer Girl" was also a fun surprise waiting for me under the tree, the annotated volume of the manuscript Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote about her life before she started her Little House series. I've spend some time curled up with this and trying to soak it all in. What I love so much about the series is that its, obviously, set out here in the prairie. So much of it is familiar and like home.

  Friends gave me some wonderful books as well--- like a beautiful edition of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" complete with a handmade bookmark from Patricia up in New York State and Natasha give me a signed (thrill!) copy of "In The Heart Of The Sea" by Nathaniel Philbrick, who I first got to know when I read his book about Nantucket when I was looking into my ancestors who settled that beautiful little island.

  And so--- I have plenty of good books, and furry creatures, and little people to cuddle up with as I search for my year end's hygge. I'm looking forward to the new year with new projects and new adventures. Here's to a wonderful 2016!

Christmas Blessings,

Art With Heart: Crisis Pregnancy Outreach

     Can you believe it?! It's the fourth week of Advent. Christmas is almost here! It is also the fourth week of the 'Art with Heart" series here on the blog, where $10 from a specific print in my shop is donated to a different charity each week.

   This week's charity is a local charity that makes an impact to young woman across the nation. Crisis Pregnancy Outreach is an organization in the Tulsa area that helps women and girls dealing with unplanned pregnancy as well as make plans for their future and their baby's future.

    Crisis Pregnancy Outreach began in the 1980s in association with Christian Chapel Church in order to provide a meaningful and practical alternative to abortion to young women who found themselves experiencing an unplanned pregnancy. The organization is 100% volunteer run, and has now grown to include a transitional home, counseling services, medical partners, mentoring, parenting support, and a fully licensed adoption agency.
   CPO's solid reputation has spread not just from Oklahoma, but around the country, and they take in girls from around the U.S. What I find so inspiring about their work is, not only do they work hard to provide a good life for the babies who are brought into the world under their care, but they also turn around the lives of the women and girls who come their way.

   Many of the girls who find themselves at CPO are in high school, junior high, or even middle school. Others come from turbulent home environments.  Most are unsure where to start when it comes to caring for a newborn. 

   What they all have in common, however,  is their hope to turn a scary situation into something beautiful and positive. And through this organization, their unplanned pregnancy can be a turning point to a brighter future.

   I am also thrilled to know that a wonderful couple I know are about to become first time parents through CPO, and not only are they eagerly awaiting a new baby, but they have welcomed the birth mother into their lives and home and created a relationship with her that is simply beautiful.

    And so, if you'd like to help me support Crisis Pregnancy Outreach this coming week--- its easy! The print I'm offering for the $10 donation is "Madonna and Child in Blue." With each purchase of this print, I will donate $10 to Crisis Pregnancy Outreach so they can continue their important week.

  Thanks so much! And Merry Christmas!~

Christmas Blessings!~

       I can't believe it, Christmas is almost here. This happens to me every year....I spend months thinking about it, painting it, and then it arrives and it all rushes by so fast! Things have been busy around here, mailing out orders (thank you all who ordered--- SO MUCH!) and doing the Advent events at church, work and school functions, getting things done before the day actually comes.

     There have been times this month where I had to force myself to slow down, to let some things go because well, you just cant do it all! So much happens, seemingly all at once, this time of the year. And we totally miss the point of Advent--- watching and waiting--- when we're scrambling around trying to do as much, and buy as much, as possible.

   And so, I have decided--- I am going to be still. The post office rush is done. There are no more events or commitments until Christmas. All I have to do is sample all the holiday goodies. And I am oh so good at that ;)

    And so, in these last days of Advent, I'd like to just send you good wishes and many Christmas blessings. I hope you have a wonderful holiday, however you choose to spend it. 
   And may there be 'peace on earth and good will toward men."

Merry Christmas!~

Art With Heart: Rosie's Love

   Hi Friends!~
      This week's "Art with Heart" print is Madonna of the Blossoms. I chose this piece specifically for a special charity named after a very special girl--- Rosie! 
    The charity I'm highlighting this week is Rosie's Love. Since its inception in 2000, Rosie’s Love has been dedicated to providing emotional, practical and financial support to those who need help in dealing with childhood cancer in the Albany, NY area. Their mission is to make a difference in the lives of those affected by childhood cancer, including patients and family members. Rosie's Love provides assistance where other sources fall short – from providing fun activities for children receiving in-patient treatment to family getaways that provide a break.
    Every summer, Rosie's Love provide a house on a private lake in the Adirondacks to children and their families called Camp Hakuna Matata.  This house is provided entirely free from the cost of the stay, to food, and passes to local attractions such as the Adirondack Museum. We also provide fishing poles and access to canoes and kayaks.  
   Every holiday season, Rosie's Love opens their annual "Holiday Shop" at Albany Medical Center.  The children can choose gifts for their parents, siblings, special friends, grandparents, etc.  All items are provided for the children including gifts, gift wrap, and cards.
  Every September school supplies and backpacks are provided to any child who needs supplies.  
   Rosie's Love is a non-profit, 501 (c) (3) charity.  It is named after Rosemary (Rosie) Frances Johnson, who lost her battle with Neuroblastoma at the age of 2 years and 11 months.  Rosie loved other children and never entered the hospital without a big smile on her face. 

    I am so fortunate to include Rosie's mother Patricia as one of my cherished friends and love her sisters Mary and Alice and "Grandma Pat" who organizes "Rosie's Love" and runs the camp in the Adirondacks. My daughter Audrey was able to join Rosie's grandma and sister at camp last summer and had an amazing time.

  And so, in honor of Rosie and this season of giving, I am so happy to highlight Rosie's Love here on the blog. If you are so moved to contribute a little to this wonderful charity, I'd love to send you Madonna of the Blossoms and we can do some good together!~

Christmas Open House

    Things have been so crazy busy around here! But I wanted to let you know, we are doing our Christmas Open House this weekend in our studio! And we've got so many things to share with you--- not just creations from me and Natasha, but also many beautiful things made by friends! We've got pottery, live wreaths, linens, totes, handcarved kitchen utinsils and so much more! If you're in the Tulsa area, come see us!~

Adoptable House Tomtens!

   Ooooh, it's that time of year again! I have a collection of handmade house tomtens that need homes! I cant wait to share with you this year's special little guys--- and gals!

   What is a 'house tomten', you ask? Well, a tomten (or tomte, or nisse, or tomte-nisse, etc) is a Scandinavian gnome known for their shyness and devotion to their families and animals! In Swedish, Norwegian and other Scandinavian traditions, these friendly little beings live secretly in homes where they watch over their family, animals and property at night, all in exchange for a bowl of porridge. A classic tale about tomtens is "The Tomten and Fox" by Astrid Lindgren, who also wrote "Pippi Longstocking."

  I find that tomtens make the sweetest ornaments, and love to make some to offer to you here on the blog at Christmas time! All their little faces are handpainted and they're sewn by me with machine and hand stitching. Their hair is raw fleece that I get from a friend and makes the most beautiful tomten locks!

  If you'd like to welcome a little tomten into your home, these are the little friends I have available to adopt. If you'd like one, please leave the name/number of the tomten you like in the comments AS WELL AS your paypal email address. I will mark each tomten as "sold" as invoices are paid. At this time, I can only take payment via paypal.

Tomtens are $12 plus $2 shipping, so $14 total

 Here are the little friends available.... 

Adoptable House Tomtens:
1. Lars -- ADOPTED
2. Otto-- ADOPTED
3. Erik -- ADOPTED
4. Hans -- ADOPTED

4. Kristin-- ADOPTED
6. Linnea-- ADOPTED
7  Johanna-- ADOPTED

Art With Heart: Heifer International

    Hey there!~ Sorry for the delay--- we've been dealing with coughing and colds and just came from the dr's office with a diagnosis of bronchitis for Audrey. Sigh....tis the season!

    Anyhow---- we are now in the second week of Advent AND the second weekend of celebrating "Art With Heart!" Where $10 of a specific print goes to a great charity! Taking part is easy! All you do is buy the charity print in the shop--- you get the print, and I donate $10 per print to the charity of the week! 

   This week's Charity print is "Country Nativity." I thought this print would go perfectly with this week's charity--- "Heifer International."

     Heifer International is a great charity to give to that does good all over the world. We have had gifts given in our name to this organization in the past, and we feel like its time we got in on the giving fun!
    The idea behind Heifer International is that they provide a means for families all over the world to support themselves by helping them gain the means to start their own business through raising animals. According to their website, Heifer International explains that "Giving an animal is like giving someone a small business, providing wool, milk, eggs and more. Animal donations can provide families a hand up, increasing access to medicine, school, food and a sustainable livelihood."

   Depending on the amount given, you can buy a 'share' in an animal, a whole animal, or a whole start-up flock of various animals that will help a family start earning a decent living wage and feed their family. Animals that can be bought include ducks, chickens, rabbits, sheep, goats, pigs, llamas, and even honey bees!

   As a fiber art lover, I'm partial to the idea of helping someone get a sheep--- they can not only harvest the wool, but also use the meat to sell or feed their family. Sheep are such a dynamic animal to raise (plus, lets face it, they are fuzzy and cute.)

   If you are feeling the urge to give a little this Advent, i would be so honored if you'd help me support this very worthy cause! And I'd love to send you a print in the process!~!

   Thanks so much, and wishing you a Blessed Advent!~

*Photos used in this post come from Heifer International

Behind The Paintings: St. Lucia

     Hi there, friends! Hope your week is going well. I am enjoying an afternoon of getting things done and preparing for our open house at The Prairie House on December 12 and 13!
   I thought I'd take a little time to sit and relax my Mama brain and we could chat about art. Are ya game?

   One of my most popular--- if not THE most popular pieces in my shop is my red background St. Lucia.  I created her in 2011 and prints and postcards with her on the front always sell well, she's actually when I know the holidays are here. All the St. Lucias are heading to the post office! So I thought since she's so well liked, you might like to hear a little about her....

     This painting started pretty modestly and I had no idea that she would become as well loved as she in. In fact, the original painting isn't that large. It's 6x9". Which is pretty impressive since I have prints of it as an 11x14" and it enlarges fine. She's obviously "the little painting that could!"

   I painted her almost as a sort of 'afterthought', one more Christmas painting to do before the season was done. The inspiration for her was, of course, the rendition of the Swedish tradition of the girl dressed as "Sankta Lucia" with the crown of candles and a tray of Lucia buns. I knew all about this tradition because of, well, my Kirsten doll!

   Were you a lover of the American Girl dolls like I was? Back when it was still Pleasant Company? I had a friend with Samantha and once I saw Kirsten in her pioneer garb, ooohhh, my heart was captured. I got her for Christmas in the second grade and loved that doll so much she lost a leg and had to be sent to 'the doll hospital.' She came back in a doll hospital gown, which I thought was just the neatest thing.

   So, from that childhood beginning I always had a love for Swedish folklore, traditions and the like. I knew about "St.Lucia" the Swedish girl long before I knew about "St.Lucy" in a religious context. And when I did start learning more about the saints, St.Lucia/St.Lucy was like an old friend waiting for me.

   And so....one Christmas, I decided to do a little painting of her. And I liked it so much it became one of the few paintings I kept for myself (she's watching me now from the good china cupboard!) and as I shared her at craft shows and here online, I found that others loved her too!

   It's been so wonderful to meet so many others--- literally all over the world--- because of St.Lucia. When people see her and read the "god jul" (Merry Christmas in Swedish) they just know what the context is--- Scandinavian Christmas, tradition, family, hope. St. Lucia is 'the bringer of light' and in the Scandinavian tradition (other countries do this too) the daughter in the home wears the lighted wreath and brings the family coffee and the special "Lucia cakes" in the dark before morning. 

  December 13 is the Feast of St.Lucia and according to old Scandinavian custom, is the darkest night of the year. So St. Lucia, to them, signifies the return of the sun, the return of the light, and dovetails of course with religious themes.

  And so....each year I look forward to sharing this Lucia and St. Lucia paintings that came after (such as St.Lucia Morning and Forest Lucia) with fellow lovers of this little saint. 

  I hope you enjoyed learning a little more about her. :D
God Jul!~!