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Oklahoma Autumn

   Good afternoon, and Happy Halloween!
      I hope you're having a beautiful day where ever you are. Here, we are at full autumn color, and it looks like we're going to have a wonderful day for the Open House at Blue Heron this weekend!

   The other day I went for a little drive to see the landscape. The light was bright and beautiful and I wanted to make sure I enjoyed the color while I could. I took along my camera and wanted to snap some photos of the pretty things I saw around here....I wanted to look with fresh eyes, for myself, at this place I call home.

   Where I live in northeastern Oklahoma, the landscape is a little different than what you might think of as Oklahoma. We have open fields that are beautiful, but we also have densely treed hills and shaded valleys, since the last fingertips of the Ozark Mountains are in this area.

   I drove down country roads familiar to me, the car ride to school, the old road near my grandparents house....trying to take it all in and enjoy.

   I've noticed that Oklahoma is not one of those 'must see destination' states. Many articles I read about it seem to be pleasantly surprised that there's anything to see here other than cows and a tumbleweed ever so often (and we dont really even have those!) Our history, aside from that dark time when many Native Americans were forced to walk here on the Trail of Tears, is not taught much in school-- even our own schools.  And I started wondering if maybe I could help change that perception, and reveal some jewels about this place where 'the wind comes sweeping down the plain...'

   So that is my mission this autumn. To see the beauty here and enjoy it. To share it here, with you.

    Because there are some very lovely, and interesting, and breath catching moments out here....in the landscape, and in my own garden, on my own little porch (with a kitty or two for company...)

    So I hope that I can share more with you. And in the process, I can fall a little more in love in this place I call home.

Autumn blessings, friends!~

Holiday Shop Update on November 1st

Hi friends!~
    Just wanted to let you know--- I am hard at work on a BIG holiday shop update that will go live in my etsy shop on Thursday, NOVEMBER 1st. I'll have a lot of new things to share with you--- including original art, prints and Christmas cards! November is always my busiest shop month, and Im so glad to be ready! And I hope you like the new things I've got coming your way....

check back soon!~

Cooking with Tasha Tudor: Apple Crisp

   Hi there friends!~
         And here we are, ready for another Cooking with Tasha Tudor post! This one is special because we're not just cooking with Tasha Tudor, we are cooking with Mary Mason Campbell.

    In the late 60s/early 70s, Tasha and one of her friends came together and put out four books, all about New England cooking and culture and traditions. The first in this series was "The New England Butt'ry Shelf Cookbook", and it is a jewel of a little book. It follows the seasons and gives little stories and recipes for special things to cook through the year from a New Englander point of view. Mason Campbell did the writing and recipe collecting (although she also says 'receipts' like Tasha, and I have no doubt they inspired each other) and Tasha illustrated.

   The first recipe--- receipt-- I tried, was the apple crisp dessert. It was a different recipe than I'm used to making--- and included the addition of lemon rind and juice, which gave the whole dessert a tart and fresh taste which was really good!

   The whole dish was simple and easy to make, especially if you've got several apples on hand, which is very likely this time of year! I baked it in a pie pan, with the apples sliced on bottom and the 'crisp' just dumped on top. Its not a picturesque dish when it comes out of the oven, lol, but it's nothing a dollop of whipped cream cant make fancy, and is good to eat both warm or cold!

   The book this recipe came from, and all of the Mason Campbell/Tudor books, are now out of print. BUT, you can find used copies pretty easily on Amazon (thats how I got mine.) There is also The Butt'ry Shelf Almanac and Kitchen Gardens, and A Basket of Herbs. It appears that both women had a lot in common and enjoyed working with each other, and I love the idea of their finding each other in 1960s New England (or earlier, I'm not sure when they met) and finding a kindred spirit.

   Mary Mason Campbell was a fascinating woman in her own right, and I relate to her because she was also originally from the prairie, having been born in Nebraska.

   I found her obituary online and thought I'd share it with you here. I think its remarkable that Tasha Tudor is actually named in the obit, along with only Mary's parents and husband. Here is the dynamic biography of Mary, as written in her obituary:

  CAMPBELL, MARY MASON of Scituate died December 28, 2007. She was the widow of Douglas Campbell to whom she had been married for 52 years at the time of his death.

   Mrs. Campbell was born in Bloomfield, Nebraska, a daughter of Edgar H. and Margaret D. Mason. After graduation from Yankton College, she lived in Minneapolis, Chicago (where she was Executive Secretary to the Chairman of Pure Oil Company), Washington, DC, Salisbury, NH and Wickford and Scituate, RI where she made her home since 1971.

   She was the author of three books, The New England Buttry Shelf Cookbook, The New England Buttry Shelf Almanac, Betty Crockers Kitchen Gardens and co-author of A Basket of Herbs. All were illustrated by her dear friend Tasha Tudor. Mary was an accomplished weaver, quilter, rug hooker, an ardent gardener, gourmet, world traveler, Francophile, and a lecturer on herbs and Thomas Jefferson.

   Mrs. Campbell was a member of First Baptist Church in America, Salisbury Congregational Church, Providence Art Club, Squantum Association, Chilton Club, and National Herb Society and its New England unit.

  She is survived by many nieces, nephews and cousins in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Oregon, Nevada and England.

    After reading the obituary, I realized that she and Tasha passed away within 6 months of each other, as Tasha died in June 2008. It also reveals that at about the same period of time Tasha moved from the New Hampshire home she raised her family in to Vermont, Mary also made a big move and moved to Rhode Island. Evidently Rhode Island was special to Mary's heart, as she and her husband had loving restored "an acorn-sized fisherman's cottage" there. The home was built in 1802, and I am so curious to know if it is still there! I'm sure it was so sweet and snug, and right near the water. What a special place to retire to!

   The little glimpses of Mary from the 'about the author' section of the books and this obituary reveals a woman who was interested and passionate about so many things, and many of them where skills or knowledge from the past. I can only imagine the wonderful conversations she would have had with Tasha.....and perhaps one day with a cup of tea in hand they decided 'we should write a book!"

   I would love to learn more about her, but there doesnt' seem to be a lot out there on her. But she sounds wonderful, and I would have loved to have been friends with her. What I can do, though, is be inspired by Mary and Tasha--- both women who whole-heartedly and passionately followed their interests and made unique lives for themselves. They certainly were not following the trends of the times with their persuits--- weaving and rug hooking and expertise on Thomas Jefferson were not the hobbies du jour in the 1960s! But I totally understand....and have fallen down many of those same rabbit holes myself!
And so, I look forward to trying more recipes from Mary and Tasha, and enjoying their books! If you ever come across any of their books, I highly suggest snapping them up! They are absolute treasures!

I hope you've enjoyed this latest installment! And look for news coming about my big shop update for CHRISTMAS art! I have new original paintings, prints and cards coming!~! Can't wait to share!

Thanks so much, and come back again soon!
And remember--
Take Joy!~

October Love & Folk Art

   And here it is, fall has finally arrived! It always makes me think of that perfect autumn I spent in New England now five years ago! But it is my favorite season in any place, and I am enjoying seeing signs of it out here on the prairie too.

   The leaves are just starting to change....the hot temperatures have been swept away, and cold northern winds from Canada have swept down, jangling the wind chimes, rustling the leaves, sending little sweet birds to my bird feeder for treats to sustain them on their way south...

    Im sitting down to my art table this week to make some sweet little witchy dolls.....ladies who would be very much at home at this amazing Witch House in Salem, MA. Salem is an amazing place to while away an October afternoon, for sure! So much history, so much rich and beautiful landscape, lives and eras folded and mixed into each other--- just what I love best....

  Above all though, I like my halloween a little more sweet than too terribly spooky--- and you'll find lots of examples of that in my artwork! My etsy shop is now stocked with originals, prints, and note cards to get you in the spooky sweet spirit and they're all ready to ship!

   What is your favorite thing about Autumn and the beautiful month of October? And how do you like to celebrate this bewitching time of year?
  Hope you're having a wonderful week!~
Take Joy,

Autumn At Home

  Good morning!~
        I thought I'd do a little post this morning showing you some of my season decor in my home. Granted, I live with children, so its looking nice and neat is fleeting! But they're at school and well, I'm feeling festive!

    Autumn is one of my favorite seasons to decorate for. During a trip to Eureka Springs for our first anniversary years ago, I discovered Nicol Sayre dolls and have collected them through the years. I've also been a collector of antiques for many years, usually gathering my treasures through family, antique malls and estate sales. I often hear older antiques collectors bemoan the fact that 'the young folks' aren't into antiques. Well, I am here to say that I am! Collecting antiques is tricky though, because they can be so expensive. That's why I have to really hunt for pieces I can afford.

   One of my favorite estate sales pieces is this winged back chair that I snagged at an estate sale and was so excited to tote home. I saw it tucked into the entryway of a beautiful old home in Tulsa and it was one of those 'I know I'll never see something like this again that I can afford' situations. The old rocking chair behind it is a family heirloom that is so beautifully made....the arms are at the perfect height to comfortably rest while you knit. The spinning wheel beside you, I'm sure you've seen it in many photos, is my prized spinning wheel that also was an estate sale find. I mean.....God bless estate sales! Especially on 50% off day!

    I've also collected lots of little holiday pieces that I love to bring out during the autumn season. Many of them were gifts, or special items I've collected piece by piece over the years. The two little dolls above in the white dresses were handmade by my friend Christine Crocker, who makes beautiful Queen Anne style dolls.

   For me though, I love Halloween when its spooky sweet and old fashioned. I've always been drawn to ghost stories and perhaps even a dash of the macabre (I do love to go exploring a beautiful old cemetery, especially in New England!). Im not into the gory or the frightening, but the cozy and homespun.

        On the living room trunk I've usually got a stack of my favorite books, and these are my current favs. The giant Grandma Moses tome was another great Antique Mall find ($5! Cheap antique mall books may be my weakness....just ask my many bookcases....) I also found this sweet book of American Folk Art from the Museum of American Folk Art in NYC, which I would love to visit one day. I've also been savoring Nora Murphy's Country House Style, which just came out and is amazing.

    And so, that's a little peek at things around here. Doing a little laundry and picking up while everyone is at school or work for the day, and then hoping to paint later. Im hard at work for art for the coming Open House at Blue Heron Antiques (November 3!) and creating art for Christmas.

   Thanks so much for coming by today!~

Cooking With Tasha Tudor: Hot Chocolate

    Good morning!~
           And happy October! Isnt it wonderful to be in this month? Here's hoping the weather cooperates. We've been sitting in the 80s here in OK and frankly, not feeling very autumnal. But the colors are starting to change, and moody, rainy skies have blown in. The temperatures are falling into delicious 60 degree marks, and I am so ready for those cute sweaters and boots!~

    The perfect cozy drink for a cool autumn night is, of course, hot chocolate. So we cooked up a pan of it yesterday evening (we were so good! We had salad for dinner! We earned it!) and enjoyed the first hot chocolate of the season!

    Big sis was working on some math homework, so the littlest and I were in the kitchen cooking up the treat. The recipe is found in the cookbook "Tasha Tudor's Cookbook" and is one I've never tried before.
    When it came time to add the chocolate, I was surprised that it was a relatively light hot chocolate in color, but we were eager to get it dished into mugs and smothered with whipped cream....

    The recipe calls for hand whipped cream, which I was all set to do until I realized I had two cartons of half and half and no whipped cream (and I'm no math genius, but I figured if I added the two together it would not, unfortunately, make whole cream....ha...mom joke...I digress...)
   But luckily for us, we live very close to a Braums, which is a beloved Oklahoma dairy institution, and Daddy was very obliging to duck out the door and get us some whipped cream from them. After that, we were all set....

      After a few careful breaths to cool it down, we all enjoyed our cocoa, and it was really nice! It was light and sweet and I'm glad we added the cream as well. Tasha suggests it as a fun drink for around the campfire, but for us 'indoor cats', it works just as well around the dining room table while you finish your math homework! It is a recipe I would recommend, and one that I can see making throughout the coming evenings, and for festive occasions!

     What are you looking forward to making as the weather turns cooler for us in the northern hemisphere? Do you have a favorite autumn drink?

   Will sign off for now, thanks for coming by! Be sure to check out the other Cooking With Tasha Tudor posts, and let me know if you have any suggestions or requests from her cooking work!
PS: I am planning an Open House on November 3 at Blue Heron Antiques in Jenks! See THIS POST for more details!

Sleightholm Folk Art Show on November 3!

   Hi friends!~
     Well this year my annual open house is going to be a little something different! It's an art show with a very talented friend at a beautiful antique shop in Jenks, Oklahoma!

   On November 3, my friend Terri Hamilton and I will be bringing lots of new and beautiful items to Blue Heron Antiques in Jenks, OK for an afternoon of sharing, treats, and visiting! You are welcome to bring your own knitting or stitching and come explore the beautiful shop that has been Oklahoma's premiere Primitive Antiques shop for over 30 years.

  The art show will last from 12-5 pm at Blue Heron, which is located on 111th Street in Jenks, and very reachable from the Creek Turnpike. This location wont be quite as far of a drive for my Tulsa friends, and I cant wait for you to see this beautiful shop and all the treasures that Carol and Missy have there!

   Hope to see you in November! Now I gotta get back to painting!~

Cooking With Tasha Tudor: Oatmeal Bread

Good morning, and welcome to a fresh week of "Cooking with Tasha Tudor!" This week I am featuring a recipe with which Tasha Tudor won first prize at the Danbury Fair when she was fifteen years old! And I am happy to report that this bread has stood the test of time! It makes three loaves of a very moist, delicious bread that can be enjoyed in ways both savory and sweet.

   With this recipe, I had some help from my son who is a very enthusiastic bread kneader! I gave it my all, and then while I rested, he gave it a go ;) this dough makes up very wet though, so have lots of extra dusting flour on hands. Although little boys do enjoy it when it gets a little gooey....

   After all the kneading, rising, kneading and a final rising were completed during the afternoon, it was time to bake our three loaves! We made this bread to go with our Michaelmas Feast that we enjoyed with some friends. Along with the bread we had roasted chicken, carrots, mashed potatoes and gravy. My friend Joanie then made homemade apple dumplings with blackberry sauce, perfect for the feast of St. Michael and All Angels!

      We had a table full of hungry kids, and they all enjoyed Tasha Tudor's bread! And when little boys eat something happily and hungrily, I count it as a great success!

    Since this was a 'feast' I wasnt sure how much bread would survive the night, but each loaf was a good size and despite eating one at dinner and sending a bit home with our friends, there was still enough bread left for me to enjoy the next morning with some butter and jam for breakfast.

   Not only that, but the next day I made chicken noodle soup with the leftover broth and meat from the birds from the feast, and the bread paired nicely as a savory addition to that! So it works in many ways! Tasha also notes in her recipe that it makes an amazing BLT sandwich as well!

  And so, this week's recipe when MUCH better than last week! And I'm so glad! I would highly recommend this bread to you if you're looking for a recipe that is very versatile and rich in taste. It does make a large quantity of bread, and takes a lot of flour aside from just the flour going into making the bread, but its one of my favorite breads I've made and I highly recommend it!

This recipe can be found in The Tasha Tudor Cook Book! 

Until next time,
Take Joy!~