Friday, May 10, 2019

Artist in Residency

I am beginning my Artist in Residency program today! I'm excited to be spending a week at the beautiful home of TC Steele -- sharing about his life with others, his love for nature, and hopefully inspiring many adults and children to record their own nature observations for future generations.

The Saturday workshops are filled, but there are drop-in workshops beginning at 11am on Wednesday, May 15 and Friday, May 17. 

I'll look forward to sharing more about this adventure when it's over!

Special thanks to the Indiana Arts Commission for their grant which makes this all possible!

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Spring Catch-Up

Spring seems to be here! It feels like I do most of my nature observation as I drive to and fro in my van. It's amazing how much can be noticed! What I saw today (the blooming trees, the fully formed leaves on the bushes, the green haze in the trees) tells me there is no more waiting. The season has changed and with it the calendar just seems to explode with action.

Rachel came home for her spring break two weeks before the rest of us had ours. It was great to have her back with us. She and I managed to find a moment to run to a local coffee shop for the best almond milk lattes and a few St. Patrick's Day treats.

We had our church youth group over for Sunday lunch in March. It coincided with St. Patrick's Day so we had a themed lunch as well as a St. Patrick quiz. The Banoffee Waffles were a hit!

I started a daily nature journal project on the first day of spring. This is in preparation for my Artist in Residency program next month. It's been wonderful to practice this skill each day and I love how much more aware I am when I know I've got to record something in my journal.

Some days I think there won't be anything new to notice (especially with my limited ability to saturate myself in nature). Something is discovered everyday despite my fears.

We had our spring break the last week of March and first week of April. Dear friends from Michigan came down to spend a few days with us. We made sure to visit Eagle Creek, Goodwill Outlet, the Art Museum, and this time we explored Ikea.

We have a brand new trail near our house that takes us right to the edge of Eagle Creek. We tried it out with our friends. If only time allowed this to be walked every day!

Our spring certainly came late, again, this year. I'm watching to see how fast things will catch up.

Spring break also held the funeral of a dear friend and mentor, Dr. Roy Blackwood. Of all the influences in my life, he and his wife have had the biggest influence outside of my immediate family. Part of my grieving involved baking a few pies for the funeral luncheon. It was the final thing I could do for him -- the final pies in a long history of many pies made for Roy over the years. I made his favorites -- the berry pies. Oddly enough, it was the same day that I spent eight hours proofing The History of Christmas. It was Dr. Blackwood that fostered my love of church history, taught me for four years, allowed me to be his "graduate assistant." I wished he could have seen the fruits of all his investment in me.

Spring break also contained a fun birthday party at which I was asked to lead the girls in painting unicorns. Oh it was fun to get back into teaching young children art! The girls did an amazing job -- all 13 or 14 of them!!!

And we did have one more snowfall on March 31! Just to show us how crazy our weather is!

Then April came around the corner and we started to see some true signs of spring.

I continue my work at the flower shop. I loved these two bouquet colors. I've got to figure out something for this Monday -- Easter colors.

We made it to the zoo with cousins! The tiger thought Arthur would be a nice lunch.

The animals were fun but I kept looking for the flowers in bloom since these were my first daffodils to get up close to this year.

And I learned to recognize Siberian Squill and started seeing it everywhere!

Our Art Museum has a Pop Up Tea House right now! How fun is that??!!! We went to celebrate the last day of spring break. David and Laura may be headed off to Christian school in the fall and my days of homeschooling will be over. It's all good, but also I need to savor these last six weeks of our homeschool.

I've been working on three large pieces of art for the flower shop. The last one is on the art table and it is a collection of peonies.

I love peonies, and I'm excited to see this poster when it is done!

By the way, I hope to send out my next newsletter soon and I'll be including some form of peony giveaway in it for my subscribers. If you want to receive the newsletter, and get in on the giveaways that happen each time I write, fill out the little form on the left sidebar of this blog.

One last sweet cousin picture here. Olivia is nearly two! She's a joy to us all.

Easter is just a week away for most of you! I hope you enjoy the rest of this season!

Thursday, March 21, 2019

The History of Christmas Book

For those of you who have not heard elsewhere, my mom and I have collaborated on a book, coming out early this summer: The History of Christas: 2000 Years of Faith, Fable, and Festivity. I've written the words, and my mom's painted the illustrations!

In 12 chapters, this book will take you on a journey from Christ's birth in Bethlehem through 2,000 years of church history to our modern day celebrations. It covers all the stuff: the biblical account, the  pagan festivals, the decision for December 25 (or not), the development of Santa Claus, etc. And, it includes discussion questions, suggested Scripture readings, activities and recipes!

The book is filled with my mom's wonderful illustrations!

We hope our book will give you valuable information, entertain you with stories and pictures, enlarge your heart in the knowledge of Christ's love for us, and inspire you to show love to others.

We'll be sure to let you know when this book is available on Amazon! To receive news and updates first, be sure to sign up for my newsletter (form in sidebar).

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Book Review: Alternative Baker

I found a new gluten-free cookbook I am all excited about. Alternative Baker by Alanna Taylor-Tobin is filled with delectable desserts of just the sort that my family loves to enjoy. The best part is, the recipes are created using flours other than just the plain old rice or coconut or almond flours one typically uses in the gluten-free world. Oh, those flours make their appearance, but they come as an add-on here and there rather than being the main focus.

The book includes more than 100 recipes for cakes, pies, tarts, scones, muffins, oven pancakes, skillet cakes, and hand pies with titles like Maple Teff Apple Pie, Chai-Spiced Nectarine Skillet Cake, Blackberry Cream Scones, and Maple Bourbon Peach Cobbler.

Here is a blueberry version of the blackberry scones:

What makes these creations so toothsome is the absence of the gritty, white rice flour. These scones use millet flour, oat flour, and sweet rice flour. It makes me so happy to have something more nutritious than white rice flour in my baked goods.

I was also very excited to try a new, gluten-free pie crust:

This crust incorporates the three flours in the scones plus ground chia seeds, arrowroot, and tapioca flour. I just love its nutty flavor.

The book is not refined-sugar free, nor dairy free. However, it is fairly simple to replace refined sugars with honey or maple syrup or maple sugar. Some dairy substitutions could be made as well.

If you do a lot of gluten-free baking, check this book out! It's nice to have some new ideas to add to one's repertoire!

Please note this post contains affiliate links.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Welsh Cakes Recipe

Yesterday, being March 1, was also St. David's Day and that reminded me that it's the best day of the year to make Welsh Cakes! You see, St. David is the patron saint of Wales, and St. David's Day is a day on which the Welsh celebrate their country (daffodils are usually involved too, since daffodils are the representative flower of Wales). Welsh Cakes are one of the delicious treats that the country of Wales is known for.

makes about 3 dozen tiny cakes

2 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. mixed spice (or pumpkin pie spice)
1/2 tsp. baking powder
8 Tbsp. butter
1/3 cup currants
1 egg
milk to bind

Mix the flour, sugar, spice, and baking powder in a food processor. Cut in the butter and pulse until small crumbs form. Tip the mixture into a bowl and add the currants and beaten egg. Pour in enough milk to make a stiff dough that can be rolled out on a flour-dusted counter. Roll dough to a 1/4-inch thickness. Cut out cakes. Cook cakes on a griddle (I use my electric pancake griddle) for about 4-5 minutes per side.

I make these gluten free by substituting gluten free flour.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Indiana Arts Commission Grant

I am excited to announce that I have been chosen as a recipient of the Indiana Arts Commission's Arts in the Parks and Historic Sites Grant. This means I will be Artist in Residence this May at the T. C. Steele Historic Site in Nashville, IN and will be conducting two workshops entitled "Nature Journaling in the Footsteps of T. C. Steele," as well as painting and nature journaling on site for one week in May.

T. C. Steele became Indiana's most famous painter and built the House of the Singing Winds in Nashville, IN as a place to live and paint.

During the two nature journaling workshops we will learn about the significance of T. C. Steele's life and art and his particular love for nature and painting outdoors. We will hike on the property, visit his studio, and tour his home. Here are the workshop details:

Nature Journaling in the Footsteps of T. C. Steele Ages 8-12
Saturday, May 11, 10am-2pm
T. C. Steele Historic Site
Cost: Free
$25 art kit will be provided

Nature Journaling in the Footsteps of T. C. Steele Ages 13-Adult
Saturday, May 18, 10am-3pm
T. C. Steele Historic Site
Cost: $20
$25 art kit will be provided

At this time all slots for the adult class are taken but we are putting names on a waiting list. If you would like to have your name put down on the waiting list, please email me as soon as possible.

There are a few slots left for the children's workshop as well as a waiting list available. Please email me if you are interested.

 During the week that I will be in residence, I will be staying in the Artist in Residence cabin and spending the days painting around the site.

If you can't make it to one of the workshops, I'd love to have you stop by during the week I'm there! The T. C. Steele site is a beautiful place, so peaceful and full of nature's beauty.

Special thanks to the Indiana Arts Commission for sponsoring this grant and making these workshops  available to the public!

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Valentine's Day 2019

Mid-February has come and gone! I find Valentine's Day a great distraction from mid-winter and a way to add a little hope to the dismal days.

We enjoyed having a valentine party last Sunday after church. We had a simple lunch of soup, salad, and bread, followed by a decadent dessert of waffles!

It was very easy to host this gathering since everyone brought something! I provided the soup, the Grandmas provided the salad, a friend brought bread, and everyone pitched in with the waffle toppings.

We all brought valentines to share. The table looked so festive before dessert after everyone had "delivered" their valentines to the respective plates.

It's so fun to show love in this simple, almost child-like way. My heart was especially warmed by a friend who took time to create valentines with watercolors -- she attended one of our summer watercolor workshops and although she is quite new to this art medium, and painting is not something she does often (yet), she took time to paint each person a personal valentine.

Here's a look at the waffle bar and the delicious toppings we had:

I sewed the little girls hearts out of repurposed cashmere -- so cuddly and soft.

And a close-up of the waffles are needed:

Lunch provided a wonderful opportunity for conversation and getting to know each other better.

Monday was my chance to participate in the Valentine flower fever at my Monday job. The shop was fit to burst with all the flowers. I made 40 bouquets before I left.

The flowers were just so beautiful.

And those roses were exquisite -- I felt compelled to smell almost everyone I used! With my eyes closed I could imagine myself in a far away rose garden.

And there just happened to be a red brick wall outside the flower shop! Perfect!

 My sister tells me the flowers sold out!!!!

Thanks to the snow day we had a few weeks ago I had time to make some homemade valentines of my own this year. I enjoyed them so much.

As I grow older the cold of winter becomes harder to bear and I am eager for the warm weather to return, though just not quite ready to let go of these few weeks that seem somehow quieter and less busy.