Be Thankful

The last couple weeks have been hard. There's no getting around it. Most of us sat at home New Year's Eve with a glass of something sparkly, breathing a reserved sigh of relief that we could walk away from 2020 and into something new, even if it was a measly blank page on the calendar. A new year usually feels full of hope and the possibility of change and clean slates and . . . . well, you know what happened instead.

If you're alive right now, you've probably had to make some hard decisions like I have about group gatherings, when to speak and when to zip it. You've had to pay attention and look for ways to make your kids feel safe and find footing for yourself emotionally, mentally and spiritually. You've had to decide who you want to share space with. I hope you've had someone to talk it all out with, someone who makes you feel safe. I've been studying Colossians, and yesterday, after a sob fest had hanging over my journal at the dining room table, I read a passage that became a flat and sturdy place to take a step and hoist myself up.

This is Colossians 3:15-17

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts since as members of one body, you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Today I admonish myself and my brothers and sisters in Christ to live out our calling to be peacemakers (also to read the rest of this chapter, because it has some real no-brainer "ideas" for how to be a decent human). In his 1934 book, "The Cross of Peace," Sir Philip Gibbs writes (and Martin Luther King Jr. later echos) "Modern progress has made the world a neighborhood, and God has given us the task of making it a brotherhood." It seems to me that Paul believes the best posture to assume while doing this work is one of gratitude. I like how he makes a full stop in that passage, emphasizing "And be thankful."

I've been working on a little project the last couple of weeks that I thought was going to be a gratitude notepad, but after pricing out the printing, it just doesn't make sense to put the time into it. Instead, I'm giving you the file as a gift. Print out several sheets and keep them by your bed, in your journal, on the fridge. Write down what makes you grateful, especially when it's difficult.

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Click Download Gratitude.list.2up to download a PDF file with two copies

 

I chose a quote by Anne Frank for this piece: "Thank you God for all that is good and dear and beautiful." It's not the profound use of language here that makes it cut to your heart. It's knowing that she gave thanks in the midst of the darkest dominion of evil that modern history has witnessed.

I know this isn't the feel-good, fluffy type of post you're used to here, and a gratitude list is not a revolutionary idea, but this is what I can do right now with my brush and my "pen." I hope it's an encouragement to you today. Be thankful.

 


Teatime Treat for Summer

Jump to Recipe

My sister in law has been experimenting with making ice cream, and our family has been the lucky tasting panel. I am a big fan of Earl Gray tea and London Fog drinks - Earl Gray with cream, vanilla and honey- so when I saw a recipe for London Fog ice cream in Taste of Home Magazine, I passed it on to her right away. In a few days I had the most fragrant, creamy tea-spiked confection in my freezer speckled with beautiful little bits of real vanilla. When I tasted it, I imagined how good it would be served with a little tea cookie (or "biscuit" as they would say in London) to add some more sweetness.

So, on my last trip to the big grocery store (after two months of quarantine shopping at our small-town grocery store), I picked up a package of Pepperidge Farm Chessman cookies for a little experiment.  I'm not sure if it's the fancy packaging, or the fact that mostly grandmas eat Pepperidge Farm cookies, but they have such a special occasion feel to them, don't they? I've seen a few recipes using the Chessman for banana pudding, which sounds amazing too. They taste just like the Danish butter cookies you get in those round blue tins at Christmas time.

Since it's summer, I started envisioning a fun tea-party kind of way to combine the London Fog ice cream with the cookies, and I decided on a little sandwich. How cute would these be served with an iced version of Earl Gray, some fruit and finger sandwiches for tea on the patio under the umbrella?! Or maybe just for sneaking out of the freezer a couple of times a day when nobody's watching without too much guilt, because they're really small.

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You'll find the recipe for the ice cream below, or get a talented SIL to make it for you. To assemble, soften the ice cream a little at room temp (or bring it out of the freezer before fully set), spoon about 2 tablespoons onto one cookie, top with another and give a gentle press. Use an offset spatula to scrape the sides flush and place in an airtight container lined with parchment paper. Refreeze for at least 30 min or until firm.

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INGREDIENTS

2 cups whole milk

2cups half-and-half cream

6 Earl Grey tea bags

1 vanilla bean

1 can (14 oz.) sweetened

condensed milk

1/4 tsp. salt

4 large eggs, lightly beaten

  1. In a small saucepan, heat milk and cream to 175°. Remove from heat; add tea bags. Split the vanilla bean lengthwise. Using the tip of a sharp knife, scrape seeds from the center into pan; add bean. Cover and steep 1 hour. Discard tea bags. (I'd suggest steeping for half the time for a more subtle flavor)

    2. Reheat the cream mixture just a boil; stir in sweetened condensed milk and salt until dissolved. Whisk a small amount of the hot mixture eggs. Return all to the pan, whisking constantly. Cook and stir over low heat until the mixture is just thick enough to coat a metal spoon and a thermometer reads at least 160°stirring constantly. Do not allow to boil. Remove from heat immediately.

    3. Strain mixture through a fine mesh strainer into a large bowl; place bowl in a pan of ice water. Stir gently and occasionally until cool, about 5 minutes. Press plastic wrap onto surface of the custard. Refrigerate custard several hours or overnight.

    4. Fill cylinder of the ice cream maker no more than two-thirds full; freeze according to the manufacturer's directions. (Refrigerate any remaining mixture until ready to freeze.)

    5. Transfer the ice cream to freezer containers, allowing some headspace for expansion. Freeze ice cream until firm, 2-4 hours.

 


A Springtime Printable Recipe Just for You!

Hi friends! It's been ages since I've checked in here and gabbed about art and stuff. Covid-19 quarantine (and some April snow flurries) has given me a little time to create just for fun and get my watercolor wheels turning. I thought it would be a good time to share a freebie, so I've teamed up with my friend, Ann, from the Madison Road Artisan Market, to bring you a springy illustrated recipe from her kitchen and my studio! 

If you're not already following Ann's personal account on Instagram, you should head over pronto. Her beautiful photography and amazing recipes are going to make you want to rush to the kitchen and cook up some new family favorites. I love her cooking style - it's a little bit old-fashioned and a little bit modern family.

So without further ado, I present to you Ann's recipe for Lemon Poppyseed Loaf. Just click on the image below to get to the PDF for printing directly to your printer or downloading. You'll also want to head over to Ann's Instagram account to see the cake "in person" and get her tips on making it a successful "bake," as Mary Berry would say. Thanks for remembering that this download is for personal use only and may not be reproduced in any format for commercial gain.

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Finding Home

As a young professional artist, I spent a lot of time and paint recreating travel photos I'd taken or borrowed from family and friends: the missions of San Antonio, a Puerto Rican garden, an English lake. They were all well and good, but they weren't my voice. In our early twenties, I don't think there are many of us who even have a story yet! It's an advantage we do have in our middle and late years, so that's what I'm embracing lately.


An artist friend of mine recently helped me to "see" a thread running through my work.  A light went on in my head when I realized that it's the concept of "home." Since that conversation, I've begun seeing this entire "period" of work as one that explores what it means to be sheltered by a place, to be part of a community and to be shaped by everyday objects that we normally overlook. For me, this means creating work that reflects my Midwestern-ness, my love for the cocoon that is my tiny house, the anxiety and reward that comes from living beside other broken people, and the wonder that I find in my big backyard. 

Jason Bouwman, author of the book, "Just Thinking,"recently had an Instagram post that stopped me in my scroll. It was the word "belongings" with the letter "s" crossed out. Wow! What if we began eliminating belongings and started focusing on creating more belonging? Are we brave enough? What would we miss? What makes us feel a sense of belonging? How do I balance my tendency to collect pretty things (and sell pretty things) with my longing to live more simply? So many questions! I hope you'll follow along with me as I explore these musings through my work in the coming months. 

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Above is the painting I'm currently working on. I'm thinking about calling it "Narcissus with Supplies." My instagram description for it went like this: 

"Sometimes we worry waaaay too much about our image. Maybe we do it consciously by meticulously crafting a persona for ourselves, maybe subconsciously after many years of trying to protect ourselves. Either way, I'm convinced that we need to dig deep, find our true selves and risk looking or sounding like a fool once we're comfortable in our own skin. Even if we feel humiliated at the end of the day, God can use that to help us extend Grace to other broken brothers and sisters."

I'll be sure to post the finished product on my Instagram feed pretty soon. Stay tuned!

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You'll have the opportunity to see and purchase many of them at an upcoming event in Elkhart, IN, this May. The next ArtWalk will be held downtown from 5 - 8 pm.  I'll be in the Edward Jones building on the corner of Main & High Streets. The theme is "Flower Power", so I'll be in seventh heaven! Hope to see you there!


Get Out!

Today is a snow day, and we're cooped up inside again. I'm naturally an introvert and an anxious homebody. I went to my daughter's choir concert last night and, honestly, I wanted to pull that grandpa scarfing Doritos and Resses Pieces out of the auditorium by his ear and then just sneak home to the comfort of my fuzzy slippers. I'm not sure how my kid and hubby would have gotten home, but they would have figured it out. This year I've realized that no matter how many t-shirts and coffee mugs are made to celebrate these awkward tendencies, it's not a healthy state of being to get stuck in. 

2018-02-09 11.25.07 1The more time I spend with creative friends and working with people who are not like me, the more I learn about new places, techniques and people, the more interesting my world becomes, the bigger my heart grows, the deeper my art goes.  Sounds a little Dr. Seuss-y, doesn't it? 

A couple of specific ways I'm doing this are:

  1. . . . scheduling meet-ups with my artist friends and acquaintances. We share coffee, chat about our daily practices, check out each other's tools, share challenges and solutions and get inspired! If you're an introvert, I encourage you to power through the temptation to stay in your safe place and get out to that show opening or keep that one-on-one lunch date. It will be worth it. Here's a pic of my sweet friend, Holly, and me with her baby, Penny, after a recent visit. 2018-01-31 11.51.12 1
  2. . . . doing something totally unrelated to art. I started helping teach an English class to Spanish speakers once a week. I have this soft place in my heart for people in our community who are living here in the most extreme "out of their comfort" zone. When I'm sitting in my pastor's office with this precious group of resilient, brilliant adults, I'm experiencing some serious humility and vulnerability on my part, because my Spanish is so poor, and I feel like a fool. Miraculously, it's one of the bright spots in my week. I'm able to teach something I know second-nature, and everything else in my little privileged world is forgotten for 90 minutes. Plus, I'm learning a little Spanish too!
  3.  . . . taking a class. I'm taking an illustration course via MakeArtThatSells.com, and it's been another humbling experience, because there are SO MANY talented, experienced, professional artists in the group. I'm gonna be real- I like to be the best. I'm NOT one of the stellar students in this class. . . but, for some reason, after each assignment, I'm left feeling like I can do amazing things next time! Wooo! Here's a piece I completed for the "all about tea" assignment. 27747625_10211803336978686_2642407957243264371_o
  4. . . . consuming new art forms and random bits of information:
  1. My copy of Lori Hetteen's new collection of "Haiku-ish" poetry just came in the mail yesterday. Get your hands on this, if you want to be astounded and delighted by the power seventeen syllables of the English language can have. You'll also want to start following Lori on Instagram STAT. She's been such an encouragement and inspiration to me, and I know you'll love her. 2018-02-09 11.25.09 1
  2. Sign up for Austin Kleon's newsletter. I read his book, "Show Your Art," several years ago, and it's such a  fun, short, creative, informative read for artists. His weekly newsletter is full of random bits and pieces of culture, from ideas on how to get unblocked to music playlists and links to interesting podcasts, books, and interviews. So. Many. Great ways to get out of your own head and get rounded! This morning we followed his link to a great song by Señor Coconut and started off our day with a wacky dance. I think my daughter filmed me, but you won't be seeing THAT!
  3. A friend on Facebook just tipped me off to the new printing of "Werner's Nomenclature of Colours." I ordered it from Amazon immediately. (It just dropped $5 today!). This book was first published in 1814, and includes hundreds of color swatches corresponding to the most obscure things found in the natural world, like the shade of Prussian blue of the "beauty spot on the wing of a mallard duck." I can't wait to dig in to it! Werners-nomenclature-of-colours-2

I'm just loving this winter for all of these reasons. It's such a wonderful time of learning, reflection and growth. I hope you're feeling the same. Let me know how you're taking advantage of nature's sabbatical in the comments. I'd love to connect!