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Spring Snapshots

    Hello there! I feel like Im peeking out from under a little stone to suddenly see that it's spring and there are flowers and green things all around. It is spring, it is here! Even with Easter so early, the world has bloomed!

   The kids and I went out for a little ramble at Woodward Park in Tulsa recently, and took some spring photos before the rain moved in. Im so glad we did---- who knows what those beautiful tulips look like now after a pummeling thunderstorm!

   We saw squirrels busy unearthing last autumn's acorns and even saw a baby squirrel peeking out of a most perfect nest in the knot of a tree. It was a nice and calm morning, and I am so happy to see the blooming season here again.

   Lately I've been working on some art when I can snatch the time--- Ive gotten woefully behind in creating. I need a good run of painting time to get on track. Im eyeing you, Thursday and Friday! Here's hoping things come together for some finished art! Last week I got so frustrated with a painting I completely painted over it and started over. There's nothing quite so terrifying--- and exhilarating, as a brand new start....

 Well, off I go this morning to get started on a new painting and a new day. Talk with you again soon!~

Behind The Paintings: Madonna of the Blossoms

      Hi there, friends!~
    I was thinking it was high time I did another "Behind the Paintings" feature, this time with a more spring-themed piece. Of course, that brought to mind one of my most popular ladies--- Madonna of the Blossoms.

   If I remember right, this might be my FIRST painted Madonna, but it's definitely one of the very first. This was another "first toe dip" into more religiously themed pieces, and I wanted to do something a little different than Madonnas I'd seen before.

   I chose a spring theme, with pink blossoms and roses in the background, set against a turquoise blue background, still one of my favorite colors to infuse into the scene. It's both vibrant and soothing.

   Of course when you think of Spring, you think of Easter, which is more of a Sacrifice/Resurrection image. To sort of allude to that, I've placed a lamb in Mary's arms. The baby, cuddled with the lamb, is sort of an encompassing of the beginning and end of the story of Jesus.

   I added lots of flowers and a flower crown to surround Mary though, to give her not only beauty but earthiness. Her expression is peaceful and reassuring. I try to make art that will give people peace and comfort and joy to have displayed in their home. And I hope that all of you who have purchased this image from me have felt this intention as you bring this piece into your home.

  This piece is also special to me because she's a 'cover girl.' It appeared on the cover of The Anglican Digest a few years ago on their Christmas issue. It was such an honor and such a pleasure to be featured there!

  Since this print is so popular, I now offer it in two sizes. The standard 8x10" print and a large, 11x14" print which makes a great focal point for a main wall or a mantle area. You can find both these prints in my shop now!

  Thanks so much for stopping by, and have a Blessed Holy Week!~

Holy Week

   And here it is, Holy Week. We are taking it quiet and slow here at our house. Although it has already been good-- Audrey was an acolyte for the first time during the Palm Sunday Service. She did such a great job and was such a big kid. I was so proud of her!

   At home, we tuck our new palm crosses in with the icons. Last year's palm crosses got buried in the garden, under the peony bushes....hopefully to give them blessings and the urge to finally bloom this year! It might take an Easter miracle... ;)

  We set up a little Easter/Spring altar on an old dresser we recently moved into our living room by the front door, and we love the look of it. The dresser used to stand in the entry of my father-in-law's childhood home, which evidently was an old craftsman like ours. It held decades worth of hats and mittens previously...and now it will do it again!

   The book we chose to display for our altar is "A Time To Keep" by Tasha Tudor, which is an absolute favorite. We also put out a well loved baby duck from Old Sturbridge Village (which is named....Baby Duck), a small framed Lord's Prayer and a nest with a wooden egg inside. In the center we have a battery operated candle sitting in a wooden bowl. The theme of this altar is "If the toddler snatches it up and throws it on the floor, it has good chances of survival." And so far, so good!

  And so much good reading going on too, me falling down a happy rabbit hole with Simplicity Parenting that is so good I'll probably do a post just for it. It's led me to do other reading about simple play, basic toys, and being more conscious about what toys and 'things' we bring into the house to live with us. Not just consuming, but enjoying. It's made me more thoughtful on so many levels. One level being Easter baskets, which will be very basic, with a bit of candy and one gift that will be useful inside--- not something thrown aside into an abyss of a toy box and forgotten. Our massive playroom clean out is still very fresh in my mind!

   One tip I learned from Simplicity Parenting is to have a small selection of choices for the kids available and not a barrage--- so in the living room near our Easter altar we have a little basket with just a few Easter/Spring themed books tucked in. So when Mama or Daddy says "Grab a book and let's read!" It's a much shorter time of selection, and I've already parred it down to books that make sense for the season and what we're doing at home and church.

  And with that, we are in a bit of a quiet "just before" time, just before Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Vigil and Easter Day. I am looking forward to the Vigil, which is such a special and beautiful ceremony, perhaps the most important service of the church year. The toddler might have to sit this one out (a toddler late at night + fire makes this mama tired to just think of it) but my girl is big enough to come along and understand. And that's a wonderful thing.

  Wishing you a very blessed Holy Week!~ And a wonderful Easter too---

A Visit to St. Joseph's

My family outside St. Joseph's Church

   I have a bit of a soft spot for St. Joseph. He's the quiet, steady, "dad"--- the level headed 'get things done' practical figure of the Nativity Story. He is often times off to the side in images of that Holy relationship between Mary and baby Jesus. And he's totally ok with that. He's confident and kind, he doesnt need the fuss. I love that about Joseph, and some other bearded guys I know and love.
Bearded dads + babies
   Joseph is the earthly father figure to Jesus, teaching him the practicalities of life--- how to use his hands, how to read and study, how to be a part of the community and a man in general. From what I can tell, he did a fantastic job!

   This past summer we sort of wandered upon a little stone church tucked into the downtown area of the beautiful Berkshires town of Stockbridge, Mass. The church was called St. Joseph's, and behind it was an amazing grotto set up with a stone alter.

  All around was lush, pristine nature and it was such a quiet, holy place. We wandered around as a gentle rain fell and it was a wonderful way to begin that day filled with time with good friends, good food, and gorgeous surroundings. 

Stone grotto behind the church

    The idea of a Holy space created within nature is so alluring to me. I'd like to try to make something special outside with the kids. Of course, I dont have any sort of grand set up like this--- but I'm sure we can find some little rocks and maybe a small cross. Wouldn't that be so fun to do? I'm tucking that idea back for later.....we will see what comes of it! I do plan on making a little Marian Garden again, and you can see the blog post I wrote about that last year HERE.

  Anyhow, I just thought today of all days was the perfect time to share these little photos, and to remember St. Joseph this weekend. Hope you enjoyed a little peek, and have a great weekend!~


Garden Goals

Photo from Old Sturbridge Village last summer....this is me gardening, in my imagination.....

      It's that time of year. I want to "plant all the things!!!" After a winter's hibernation, I feel like, yeah, I could totally plant a year's worth of organic food! I'll even can it! We'll have a salad every night from our own yard! I'm ready to get back to the land!"

   But I know.... I KNOW......by July, half my crop will be dead, choked out by weeds, stepped on by little feet, or murdered by the brutal Oklahoma sun. Every August I think "ok, next year--- I will not do this. I will ONLY plant what we will realistically eat. I'm not going to waste time and money again." 

  And then, enter spring.....

  So. This year I am trying to be good, be smart. I am not making grand plans to make yet another flower bed. I am cleaning out the ones I have and am only going to plant what I know we'll eat. But it's HARD!

   I come from a long line of women who like to dig in the dirt. Some of my earliest memories are of being in my great-grandparents' garden, which seemed so massive, running around in the sunshine in a world filled with flowers, bees and birds. I think, too, I want that experience for my kids. I want them to be outside, doing their own thing, using their imagination. 

  So perhaps it's not about growing our meals--- but growing a wonderful place to be. That is my goal for this coming growing season.

   I cleaned out the garden shed, making it a better place to play than a place to store garden shovels and rabbit feed. We also got our rabbits a new hutch that will make them easier to play with, and also be a better place for them to live in general.

   And I'm not going to sweat growing meals--- but I'll do my best to keep the garden a nice place to play-- and yeah, probably grow some pizza toppings ;) I've learned that you can never grow enough basil, and this year we're going to try growing some corn since we discovered how amazing grilled corn is last summer. 

My painting "Picking Dinner" which is available as a print in my etsy shop

   So, that is this year's garden goal. To make a beautiful, interesting place to play and just be. And bonus points for things we can eat! 

   How about you? Do you have garden goals for this coming spring? What are some of your favorite, and easiest things to grow? I'd love to hear about it!~

Til next time....

Easter Treats Around The Web.....

   Hi there, friends! Can you believe that Palm Sunday is this coming Sunday? How is Easter coming up so fast?!?! Spring is here and I'm getting the shop ready for Easter/Pascha celebrations. I just replenished the stock of several spring/Easter designs--- including "Preparing the Easter Basket", "The Easter Egg Tree" and "Madonna of the Blossoms!"

   There's also some fun things going on around the web with my art--- Shower of Roses has gathered a massive treasure trove of wonderful Catholic Easter gifts and basket stuffers in this post. There is also a chance to win some amazing and unique items--- including my print "Preparing The Easter Basket" shown above.

   I've also got a coupon code available for readers at "A Knotted Life!" If you go visit Bonnie, you can get the code and get 15% off your entire shop purchase!

   Happy Easter shopping! Wow, I need to get started on this myself! :D


    Suddenly spring is here! I have been so sick for the last week and a half...and in that time it seems like winter has started to fade and spring has come! I couldn't be happier about this development...as much as I love autumn, there is something so pleasantly surprising about spring, isn't there? The greens are so green. The flowers so delicate and lovely. Every little blossom is worth celebrating. The kids and I like to look the yard over and see what's woken up with each new day. There's something so exciting and reassuring about it all~

   Curled up on the couch not feeling good has meant not much work has gotten done. Some days it was all I could do to get the dishes washed. Still working on that laundry. But I did get lots of thinking done, which is always nice! Also a little bit of reading (like that sweet little reader I found at an estate sale! I love the illustrations in "This Is Our Parish." Oh, what a simple 1950s life that family had! All with perfect hair and gloves and flouncy dresses and suits! We're lucky if we get out the door for church in matching socks)

  A good friend also gave me a pretty little Russian doll, who carries her little doll baby. I love the color, all the pattern, all the layers. Colors and layer, just like I like to paint!

  Which reminds me....I've got a lot of work to catch up on. But I just wanted to stop in fast and chat with you. I hope you are well and looking forward to a beautiful spring!~!
Til next time...

An Easter Egg Tree

     A few days back I pruned our little peach tree so that it will be ready for another harvest this summer, and I had a great idea. A few months ago when I interviewed Tovah Martin, I was looking through her book "A Time To Blossom" and there was a feature about forcing flowering branches to bloom. 
   As I was picking up the remnants I decided to keep a few back and stick them in a big jar to see how they would do; and lo and behold....they started budding and blooming!

   Just a few days of constant warmth and water and the branches began to burst forth with life in the loveliest little pink blossoms! It seemed pretty perfect for an Easter Egg tree, so I bought a little package of papier mache hanging eggs and the kids put them on the branches. It was a pretty easy project and inexpensive too (All I bought were the eggs) and I believe that the concept works with any blooming tree. So you could have an Easter tree from an apple. pear, dogwood, crab apple, redbud....or even a bouquet of several trees, wouldn't that be something?

   Another traditional tree to make an Easter Tree out of is the Pussy Willow, although we do love the fun of watching for blooms to opens. I've been told if you put a plant hormone in the water of the branches, the peach branches will even take root! Not sure I'll go that far, but wouldn't that be a fun Easter project? You could positively grow your own orchard over time! It's amazing what life can come from such humble beginnings, isn't it?

   Well, off to start the day and paint!~ 
Thanks for your visit!

Spring in the Shop!

"Emma Woodhouse"

     Sorry for my absence around here....Winter is leaving our house with a tremendous winter cold that has knocked us all off our feet and Mama, of course, gets the grand finale! I've been spending some time curled up with gardening books while I try to take it easy-- and am thrilled to see little signs of spring popping up every day! 

  So it seemed only right to showcase my more 'spring themed' pieces that are now available in my etsy shop--- as prints, postcards or both! Here are some of my favorite pieces:

Home From Pascha

The Easter Egg Tree

Madonna of the Blossoms

The Annunciation

Preparing the Easter Egg Basket