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.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Algerian Sables

Valentine's Day is just around the corner! I wanted to share this recipe for Algerian Sables because I think they would make such  perfect Valentine cookies! 

Some of you may be wondering why I'm back to blogging here at Blackberry Rambles. I had hoped to take up blogging on my website, but, unfortunately, Wix does not yet have a sophisticated enough blogging platform to allow comments other than from "website members." So, I'll just continue on here for the present time.

I'm working on the next edition of my newsletter in which I will announce a special set of workshops coming up and some exciting travel plans. And because I can't resist "real mail" I think I'm going to randomly pick three newsletter subscribers to send a postcard copy of one of my winter sketches. If you want to sign up for my newsletter, just fill out this form:

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And now for the recipe:

Algerian Sables
adapted from a recipe by Um Safia

1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla extract

3/4 cup strawberry jam
confectioner's sugar to sprinkle

Preheat oven to 350F.

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla.

In a separate bowl combine flower and baking powder. Add flour mixture to the butter mixture slowly until a soft dough forms. Dough will be soft but not sticky.

Roll dough on a floured surface to a little less than 1/4-inch thick. Cut into rounds. Cut holes out of half of the rounds. 

Place cookies on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet and bake for about 8 minutes until set but still white. 

When cookies are fully cooled, heat jam until bubbling and remove from heat. Sprinkle cookie tops with confectioner's sugar. Spoon jam onto the cookie bottoms and place a cookie top over the jam. Allow to set before storing.

Makes 2-3 dozen.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Book Recommendations from Literature & Larder

Books are one of the great subjects of my Literature & Larder class, but they are also where I go digging for the information I share with my students, and the way I keep myself inspired to teach. I thought you might enjoy some of these as well!
This is the record of Queen Victoria's travels in Scotland in her very own words. She and Albert loved to escape to the beautiful, wild countryside of Scotland. Together they bought and rebuilt Balmoral Castle which became the Scottish home of the Royal Family.

The by-line of this book sums it up quite well: "uncovering the rural backdrop to her life, her letters and her novels." This book gives insight into daily life at the rectory where the Austen's lived, including the farm their family ran to supplement their income. The book also talks about the county of Hampshire they resided in, what a rural, farming year looks like, and some of the unique joys and trials of living in the country. The book includes period drawings, paintings, and sketches.

Take Courage: Anne Bronte and the Art of Life by Samantha Ellis
This was a fun, biography-like book which explored the lives of all the Brontes, but particularly focused on Anne, author of "Agnes Grey" and "The Tenant of Wildfell Hall." Ellis' premise is that Anne may be the most talented of the Bronte sisters, even though the others tend to get the most attention. The book explores the family dynamics and relationships that cause us to see the Brontes the way we do now. (Ellis turns the book almost into a memoir by adding some of her own life story as she explores Anne's life, which is not my favorite part. Otherwise the book is enjoyable and very helpful.)

This is a full-length biography, and a well-written one for those interested in exploring at length the life of Charles Dickens. Close examination of a person's life usually reveals things that bother us, and this will be the case with Dickens. Understanding where a man or woman comes from is of great help in understanding their works, and Dickens' life, especially his childhood, informs his writing in every way.

Louisa May Alcott served as a nurse for six weeks in a Washington, D.C. hospital during the Civil War. These "Sketches" chronicle her time there in the hospital and the things she experienced. Those six weeks would have a life-long impact, emotionally and psychologically, but also physically.

A Passion for the Impossible by Lillias Trotter
This book tells the story of Lillias Trotter, a talented Victorian artist who decided to take her paint box and move to Algeria to become a missionary rather than pursue becoming England's "greatest living artist." The story of Lillias is one of tender yet steel-strong faith in God and how that faith was worked out in years of ministry in a foreign land.

A Blossom in the Desert by Lillias Trotter
This book contains quotes and artwork from Lillias Trotter. Lillias used watercolor and gouache to capture the beauty of the Algerian landscape and her paintings are breathtaking. The excerpts from her diary give a glimpse into the faith God built into her heart over the years.

House of Dreams: the Life of L. M. Montgomery by Liz Rosenberg
This recently published biography of L. M. Montgomery is aimed at young adults and thus is a very readable telling of Montgomery's life story. It's fascinating to see how so much of Montgomery's own life ended up in the characters she created such as Anne of Green Gables and Emily of New Moon.

The Landscapes of Anne of Green Gables by Catherine Reid
The next best thing to traveling to Prince Edward Island is opening this book and jumping into the natural world of Anne of Green Gables. Filled with picture after picture of the lush beauty of PEI, this book also gives glimpses into L. M. Montgomery's life and extended family. If you love Anne, you'll love perusing this book!

Dennison's biography is recently written and kept to a length that is easily manageable. Beatrix Potter's life is always fascinating and I particularly enjoyed reading about the literary influences in her younger years that formed her imagination and fueled her own writing.

Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life, by C. S. Lewis
This is an easy-to-read autiobiography in which C. S. Lewis tells about his childhood and the people and ideas that influenced him. If you enjoy the Narnia books, you will enjoy seeing how specific events, interesting people, and good books, gave Lewis the inspiration for what he created.

Becoming Mrs. Lewis by Patti Callahan
This work of historical fiction tells the story of Joy Gresham, the woman who eventually married C. S. Lewis. The book is fascinating and well-written, and even praised by Joy Gresham's son, Douglas. It is a delightful way to learn more about C. S. Lewis and the intriguing relationship that formed between him and Joy. It was one of my favorite reads in 2018.

J. R. R. Tolkien Artist & Illustrator by Hammond & Scull
Few people realize that Tolkien was an artist as well as a writer. In fact, he illustrated the first printing of the Hobbit! And, he wrote Christmas letters to his children each year complete with painted stamps on the envelopes and drawings in the letters! This book will introduce you to Tolkien the artist!

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