Monday, May 2, 2016

Of cats and roses

My "Lady of Shalott" David Austin rose bordered with perennial blue salvia, pansies, and spent tulips.

"Lady of Shalott" roses up close

Our little stone shed-turned-playhouse framed with some salmon colored roses. These were here when we moved in and were such a wonderful surprise!

Our cat Lucy out amongst the salvia. I also planted cabbage and lettuce in this flower bed, I think its neat to mix decorative and useful plants

A shady patch of our garden is home to oak leaf hydrangea, azaleas, some roses, a small Dogwood tree and a while flowering mystery shrub whose name I dont know!

Little Snowflake sitting on the stair ledge just above an Oak Leaf Hydrangea. She was one of our foster babies!

A yellow climbing rose outside the door to the studio

   The garden is awake! This is one of the best times of the year in the garden. The roses are in full bloom, everything is green and lush, and there's been plenty of rain! I am particularly thrilled with how my David Austin rose out front is doing--- I've actually moved it a couple of times trying to find 'that perfect place' for it. And I think she's found her home! This rose--- which is called Lady of Shalott (after the English poem) has the prettiest delicate coral colored blossoms with the sweetest faces. They also keep their color and shape longest when cut, out of all my roses. I'm so in love with this rose that I may have gotten another David Austin for Mother's Day....the flowers are so pretty I get teary eyed. I guess that means I like it very much!

   The kitties have been enjoying their newly lush green world as well, and its not uncommon to find a little pile of fur curled up and sleeping under hydrangea leaves or taking a sip out of a bird bath. And any time we plant something, there is an entire feline committee on stand-by to inspect and sometimes, ah-hem, inaugurate a freshly dug hole if you're not careful ;)

  This garden is wild and rambling, and so is the yard. We've let the lawn go wild, which I think is good because its natural and chemical free, and the most interesting things are popping up in it, like tiny wild strawberries! Our three rabbits also provide plenty of free fertilizer, and its good stuff--- did you know rabbit pellets can be put directly in the garden from the hutch without any rest time? Evidently its gentle stuff and my roses sure seem to love it.

   So that's what is going on with the garden these days....its full of roses and critters ;) just like I like it!

   It will make a wonderful place to sketch this coming weekend for the sketchbook club! If you're local, you're welcome to come! You can find out more HERE.

   Hope you're having a great start to your week, hope its full of pretty flowers and cuddly creatures.

Thursday, April 28, 2016


   When I was a kid I remember reading a book where there was a 'birthing room' in the house. I've long forgotten the book, but the idea of a special room, set aside just for birth, always fascinated me and stuck in my mind. How special, i thought, to have a room just for this momentous occasion, where generations of family members came into the world.

   That concept, and the happy deluge of little babies and expected babies I am so thrilled to see coming into the world inspired this latest painting, "Born At Home." The feeling behind this piece is one of happiness, joy, and the sanctuary of home. I love how, even if our babies arent actually born literally at home, the concept of simplicity and family environment has started making such a comeback in our culture. There is a push back against making pregnancy and birth seem like an illness and something to view in a clinical light. I love the concept of raising a family naturally, simply, without a lot of fuss and pressure.

   Those feelings, and the images of home birth, the powerful tenderness of the mother, the skill of another wise woman alongside her to help guide her, and the active support of her spouse and even other children--- that is what this painting is all about.

    I often think back to my own ancestors when I think about my own life as a mother in these modern times--- which are in many ways easier, and in other ways harder, than what they experienced.  I'm only a couple of generations removed from women who were birthing and raising babies in little cabins in the Ozarks without running water. I decided to use the names of these women in the community quilt that I have laid on the bed of the scene---- Mary Jane was only about 15 when she had her first child on New Years Eve in the early 1900s. Emma Delilah, her daughter, gave birth to a baby, my grandma, who was so little that the midwife wrapped her in a blanket and sat her in a pot to warm in the oven. Minnie Fayetta and Pansy Lenora, whose names are a bit hidden, were also strong and lively women who had daughters at home. Minnie finally got a son after 5 daughters--- and his name was Robert!

  Of course, my hope is that when people see this painting, they create their own story for it. Often times, when I paint, things just come to me. Like the Annunciation painting above the bed-- that wasnt planned until it was basically coming off the paint brush. It seemed so fitting though. Perhaps it will speak to someone in a way I can't even imagine.

  This original painting is now in my etsy shop. If you're looking for a unique gift for mother's day, or perhaps for a midwife, I think this would be pretty perfect!~ Im sure I'll do prints later as well.

  Thanks for coming to visit me today!~ Have a great week, and Blessed Holy Week to my Orthodox Friends!~

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Original Art

    I'm perched here this afternoon on a chair in my studio, watching a spring storm roll through. Luckily I just got back from the post office before it began to pour, but the thunder was rolling....I felt a bit like Marianne in Sense and Sensibility: "You always say it wont rain and it always does!"

   I'm finally feeling feisty again though, after weeks of being under the weather. I kept thinking if I just toughed it out and pushed through I'd get over the constantly aching head and ears and stuffiness....but no. It took a trip to the doctor for me, and later one for the baby and now we're finally getting back to our old selves!

   I just finished up this painting above called "Born At Home" Which I've just finished and listed on etsy! You can find it HERE. I'll write more about it in my next blog post, I'm very pleased with how it came out! I've also listed my little painting "A Kiss For Saint George" which is a popular print--- now someone can have the original! :D

   Also---- dont forget! If you're local, we're having our first "Sketchbook Club" meeting on May 7! Would love to have you join us!~

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

New post on Grow Christians!~

   Good morning!~ I wanted to share with you some exciting news--- Grow Christians, which started out as a pilot program for Lent, is going to continue on through the next few months, and I've been asked to continue to be a contributor!
   My latest article is about simple ways to bring the Easter season into your home--- and you can read the entire article HERE.
  This is exciting news for me, as I havent been a 'real' writer in several years. Time to dust off my pen, er, keyboard! :D
  Hope you're having a great week---

Monday, April 11, 2016

Sketchbook Club!

   Hi Friends!~
     Well spring is here and it's time to dust things off at Prairie House, my studio that I share with my good friend and fiber artist Natasha Ball from House Sparrow Fine Nesting.
   We are starting to host more events in our common space and wanted to invite you to take part in a "Sketchbook Club", a monthly get-together for artists or budding artists of all ages and abilities.

   I'm hoping for us to meet monthly to bring our sketch books to share with eachother--- see what other artists are doing and get some great feedback and support from fellow artists.

   Club members can also take some time to sketch small still-lifes set up around the studio, or sketch in the garden around the studio (weather permitting.) After that, we can come together for a pot luck tea time to chat some more and have some yummy treats.

   There is no charge for attending, just bring your sketching supplies, good attitude, a simple snack to share with the others.

  Our FIRST meeting will be SATURDAY May 7 from 2-4ish pm.

Prairie House is located at:
120 E. McKinley
Sapulpa OK 74066

PLEASE RSVP if you plan on coming so I'll have a general idea of how many artists to expect.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Books on my night stand....

   Ah, well, obviously my idea to review the books I've read for the month at the end of the month was a case of wishful thinking. Getting myself together in a timely fashion has proved....not the easiest thing to do! But I still really want to talk good books with you! So, hey, lets do it now--- shall we?

   The last few weeks have been really interesting. I've been reading some really great books that are helping me with some major confusion as to the state of Oklahoma's public schools. Slashed budgets have been slashed again. Parent's are being asked to fill out surveys about what core services or classes we'd be "least/most upset" about having cut out of our children's education. It's worrisome, and has me thinking I need to beef up things at home, and not just for education's sake, but for the sake of doing some fun things with the kids in general.

  Some great resources for this endeavor have been Amanda Soule's books--- The Creative Family, Handmade Home and The Rhythm of Family. Amanda is known the world over for her blog Soule Mama and magazine Tap Root, but these books are some of my favorite of her writing. Lots of projects for little hands, ideas for lazy summer afternoon crafting, and starting a more handmade approach to life in general. You know I like that!

   However, hands down my favorite book to read this past month has been Simplicity Parenting. I literally read it with highlighter in hand. The timing of this book coming into my hands has been nothing short of perfect. I believe I read an article about some of the concepts in the book the Monday after we'd done one of those massive clean-outs of the kids room and little playroom.
   I was so tired of hearing "I'm bored" from amidst a mountain of stuff, and of tripping over stuff and picking up stuff and just generally dealing with stuff that didnt seem useful so much as just the things always in our way. 
  Pair that with a freshly minted 9 year old declaring that she was done with toys and didnt want all the stuff anyway and well, it was quite the haul we made to Good Will.
  Something amazing happened afterwards though--- not just that rooms were clean, but you could see those special items again--- the dollhouse, the few beloved dolls or toys that had once been hidden under mounds of junk. The mood of the house changed, it was calmer, less chaotic. Picking after play became manageable, quick.
  Then starting this book made things come together even clearer--- in the book, Payne describes the palpable anxiety that comes from too many things--- how the clutter of activities and entertainment add to this as well. 
  He wrote "the process of simplification-- a shifting of a family's core axis-- is usually driven by a parent's simple desire to protest the ease and wonder of their child's early years." and continued:" as distractions fall away, a sense of ease takes hold and expands. There's more time for connection, room for contemplation and play."

  Some of my highlighted bits from the books include these points:

- Too much stuff deprives kids of leisure, and the ability to explore their worlds deeply

- A protected childhood allows for the slow development of identity, well-being and resiliency.

- Simplification is not just about taking things away. It is about making room, creating space in your life, your intentions, and your heart. With less physical and mental clutter, your attention expands, and your awareness deepens.

- When children are given so many things, nothing has value--- the only option is 'more.'

- The less a toy can 'do', the more they can 'become', in play

- Meaning hides in repetition: we do this every day or every week because it matters. We are connected by this thing we do together. We matter to one another.

- Its not just what you make of your time, but whether you have the time to make it your own.

- Love something for it's own sake--- not for its potential for fame, glory, scholarships, awards.

- Through the noise and bustle of daily life, a parent's words can help shape the way a child sees the world and themselves.

  Reading this book has triggered a yearning in myself to give my children a more natural, uncluttered home life and childhood. I think back to my own early years--- and my earliest memories are of being with my great-grandparents, who took care of me while my parents worked. I have flashes of memories of blue skies and towering plants in a vegetable gardens, of watching birds, grass under bare feet, singing songs, sitting on the kitchen counter while granny worked at the sink. 

   What is so interesting to me about these memories are that they aren't totally unreachable to my kids, because granny didnt live in the bucolic countryside. She literally lived on the same street we live on now. She had created that garden and home in an ordinary suburban lot in town, yet it was a world all her own--- at least to a little one like me.
   Lately I've been finding myself walking by that little house--- because it seems so very little now--- and gazing at that yard that was a magic wonderland to me and thinking "I want that for my kids."

  And so, coupling those memories with my reading, I've been working hard to make our yard a more kid friendly area--- moving the shovels and spades to the garage so that the shed can be a playhouse, incorporating the care of our animals in the routine of even the littlest's day--- making garden time a family event, listening to simple music that is kid friendly-- searching out the soothing instead of the busy.

   It hasnt been perfect, but its a work in progress that I'm really excited about. I feel like this book is one of those books that will go down as an absolute favorite and go-to source for inspiration. I think if you're feeling some of these same things I am, you'll find it an invaluable source too.

   Now--- are are we tossing out all the toys and the tvs and electronic time over here to sing in harmony around a campfire? No....not quite ;) but I am being more mindful about our interactions--- even as I mess things up. But we keep on keepin' on, keep trying, keep improving and looking for ways to have fun simply. And make art, of course!~

And so--- these are the books on my mind right now. Maybe you'd enjoy them too? What have you been reading? Do you have any great books about childhood that you'd recommend I put on my list? I'd love to hear!~ Let me know in the comments!

Hope you're having a great week!~

Thursday, March 31, 2016

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!~