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Inward, Summer Days

    Good morning, friends!~
               I'm sitting at my dining room table writing to you today on a beautiful, sunny morning where the sky is a perfect robin's egg blue, with no clouds. This sun is so welcome after rain and clouds all yesterday, and storms throughout this spring.
            I'm getting off to a slow start this week.....although I am trying to keep to the housekeeping routine that I set for myself a few weeks ago. This summer has had me feeling the need to go inward....to quiet my mind and my life and to try to cut out all the noise I can, and not juggle so many plates.
         I've been thinking so much about my great-granny Emma, who lived just a couple of blocks down my very same street, and how she might have organized her days. She's been gone over 3 decades now, but we all remember her so fondly....she was the glue of her family. So naturally as I contemplate being more intentional in how I keep my home and the food I prepare (it is SO HARD to try to make authentic, wholesome, natural foods these days.....it's become a project in and of itself, and I cant say that Im 100% succeeding, even with trying to be intentional) I find myself thinking of her.
   The other day I was at an antique shop on our day-trip to Independence, KS, and found this fun little cookbook. From the cover art, I suspect that it was published in the late 20s, but more likely the 30s. There's no publishing information in it. I love it because it assumes you know absolutely nothing about cooking, and its good to start from square one! There are recipes as simple as making coffee and toast. Then there are main meal dishes, desserts, and even suggestions on what to pack in lunches for people going off to work or children going to school. There are even recipes to give people who are sick (toast water!?!?!) and I have found it completely fascinating!

   I have found myself cooking more and trying to make more from scratch. I am trying to pace myself and make myself a schedule that makes room for these things, because it's taking a whole change in my mindset. Usually, things like making slow cooking meals or bread, etc. seem like a huge time suck. I often would find myself looking around my house at the 5,000 things that needed to be done and feel a huge anxiety attack coming on. WHEN was I supposed to tackle all this? How on earth could I keep up?
   I embarked on a week or so of a massive clean-out, each day devoted to a specific room. When I got most emergency things under control, I wrote myself out a schedule of which room to do for 'upkeep.' Today is the dining room and living room. I've noticed that I feel calmer working within this daily rhythm and Im not sure why Im surprised by this--- since I know that kids do better with a daily rhythm too. We all need to know what the day holds for us, as much as we can....what we need to get done, and also what can wait.
   And although I initially felt like it would take time away from my painting, I've found that it really doesnt effect it....I block out time for it, and when I finally sit down to paint, I can do it with a peaceful mind and know I have a certain amount of time where its my only concern. That's been really, really nice.

   I've been making bread, and also some 'treats', as I find that the snacky things in our house are where we tend to eat the most processed food. So my idea has been to make treats that, while not diet food--- are still more 'whole' food than the processed bars and cookies I've been getting at the store. One such treat was making "Dady's Brownies" from the Tasha Tudor Cookbook, which came out nice!
   They are a very old fashioned brownie....cakey and not as dark and rich as most brownie's we we eat these days. Tasha suggests frosting them with a fudge recipe also found in the book, but since I didnt have time to make fudge as well as brownies, I just made a simple chocolate glaze, and that worked fine.

   I feel like these brownies do need some sort of glaze or frosting though to be at their best--- or perhaps that's just the chocolate fiend in me talking ;) The recipe makes two square pans worth of brownies, so a good amount. I made one with nuts and one without. They didnt last long!

    Well, off to start my routine! Hope you are doing well. I have a new painting to show you that I finished last week, and I can't wait to share it with you. I'm still on my Scotland kick--- but this time, there's SHEEP! Stay tuned :)

And of course,
Take Joy!~

New Art: A Highland Walk

 Hello there, friends!~
    I am back with new art....although these last couple of weeks have been...crazy! Just after school was out, the weather got rough here in OK. One evening a tornado tore through my hometown, and we suffered some pretty terrible damage in the yard--- luckily the house was fine aside from some repairs needed to the roof. All in all, we were really lucky, but it was traumatic. And it's not something I want to dwell on too long at the moment, so instead let's go to Scotland :)

   This was one of those rare paintings where I sat down and painted it in a day! That rarely--- RARELY-- happens! But this lass wouldn't wait! The inspiration for this piece has come from some daydreaming a friend and I have been doing about Scotland....she wants to see her ancestral castle, and I am always willing to fall in love with a place and go on an adventure!

   I love the landscape of Scotland, the tradition of fiber arts--- they are amazing weavers and knitters! And the wild beauty of the land.

   Out of curiosity, I began to scan my own family tree to see if I had any traces of Scotland, and lo and behold! I found 3 times great-grandmother named Millie McGregor! Let's just take a moment and enjoy how fantastic that name is...you know she had to be spunky! She was from the Kentucky region and married a Van Winkle, which was my maiden name. I have her grandson's wedding photo framed and hanging above my mantle. How thrilling to find my own Scottish line, and to discover that the McGregors were a very old and prestigious clan. Their motto is "royal is my race."
    'nough, said, right? ;) 

    Perhaps I am a descendant of beautifully freckle-faced Celtic princesses? I mean, stranger things have happened, right? It's thrilling to think about! One of the things I love about genealogy is that it is so much more than dry dates and names, they are stories--- stories that literally run through your veins. Sometimes those stories are happy, and sometimes those stories are very sad. But they are worth learning about, and learning from. I am very curious to know more about my McGregor ties....and their story of coming to America. Everything I've found online has had them coming sometimes around the American Revolution, but I know you can't trust everything you read online (ha, understatement!)But there IS a story there, somewhere. And perhaps one day I'll get to know it!

   In the meantime, I've had lots of fun painting this pretty Scottish girl, wandering through a highland meadow picking a bouquet of heather and tramping through the thistle. I even added the Scotch pine, especially since it is the 'plant badge' of the McGregor clan (I've always loved pines! Is it genetic?! hehe)

  This painting is currently available in my etsy shop, and in need of a good home!
Thanks for coming by and have a wonderful week--
Take Joy!