Well, its been a ridiculously long time since my last blog post and a lot has happened since then! We’ve moved to a new state, had a global pandemic and I’ve become a working artist. We still homeschool, craft, create, still cook and bake and love spending time in our garden… that garden is just in southern Alabama now.
For a while I consider shutting down this blog. I felt like I was going in a new direction and maybe this just didn’t fit anymore. But, as I painted and shared snippets of our life, our garden and my art… it statred to feel like maybe instead of an ending for this space it was a new beginning, a new chapter, a new season.
So here we go! Hi, my name is Lauren and I’m so happy you’re here. I’m hoping to post at least once a month, maybe more. My heart is to share more of my art in this space plus some tips I’ve gleaned on fulfilling your creative calling while mothering your precious ones. I will defiantly still be sharing crafts and recipes, because creativity doesn’t stop when I walk out of the art studio.
While the world has felt like its raging around us, even right outside our doors at times, the creative rhythms of home and art have kept us grounded and focused on beautiful things, things above. I hope you will find encouragement and inspiration here. I hope you will ask questions and share tips and advice too, because if months of lockdown has taught me anything, its just how very important community is!
When I started painting years ago one of the first things I did was paint through my wildflower field guide. I’d pick a page and paint in watercolor every flower on the page. Later, after my daughter and I discovered nature journaling we would head out on hikes with said field guide and paint the flowers we saw, making notes on where and when they were blooming in our journals. Asters had never really peaked my interest until one warm September day standing in the slightly chilly creek at beloved park that I noticed how beautiful and delicate they are, and how whatever butterflies were left after the scorching August heat seemed to love them too. I painted them for the first time that evening at home and feel even more in love.
After our move I found a little sprig of asters tucked away in one of my old nature journals. Most likely left over from that warm September afternoon, and my love for the little late bloomers was rekindled. It inspired my aster crown painting, and several other aster studies done in oils this time, not watercolor.
Here’s a little time lapse series I did adding a little gathering of asters into my sketchbook. If you are inspired to paint some please send me some pictures or tag me in your posts! My favorite messages are always from other creatives who’ve been inspired to paint along when I post videos!
And now a line from one of my favorite poems about asters……
I end not far from my going forth By picking the faded blue Of the last remaining aster flower To carry again to you.
These last few years making time to do crafts with my Della has been a bit of a challenge. I decided this year to be more intentional about setting aside time for just the two of us to create together. We both spend a lot of time working on individual projects and dreaming up our own creative ideas…. but there’s just something kinda magical about the conversations that happen around paint, brushes and snacks. I know that as she gets older and busier I’m going to have to make time and space for her to share her heart with me. I need to be intentional about making time for us to connect in order to keep our conversations open and flowing. Crafting is defiantly a way to provide that space and give her my undivided attention.
One of our most recent craft endeavors has been making matchbox houses. I started making these last winter in the evenings while I was listening to Charles Dickens “Our Mutual Friend”. After being inspired by one of the dearest characters in the book, I quickly set to work creating a little matchbox English village complete with the tiniest pegs dolls. After I made that initial little set, I set aside an afternoon to make some with Della. We’ve made little dress shops and tea shops, sweet houses complete with gardens and even turned some into ornaments! They have all been so fun to create with my sweet girl. We have plans to make a spooky village for Halloween…. and I’m sure it will be joined quickly by a Christmas Village.
The beauty of the little matchbox villages is they take up no space, and can easily slip into a pocket or purse for a little entertainment while out and about. They are also sweet gifts kids can make their friends… maybe themed in a favorite book series or as a memento from a special vacation. The possibilities are just about endless! The most delightful part of these afternoons spent painting little boxes has been the conversations with my girl. I tend to sit back and let her steer the talking, and eventually we get around to some topics she wouldn’t have probably brought up if I hadn’t set this time aside just for her. I hope you find a little time to make some of these with your kids, grandkids, nieces or nephews. If you do, we would love to see what you guys come up with! Post some pictures on instagram and tag us in them.
Always start with snacks and tea… its a crafting must at our house! We painted our matchboxes the same light base color, then sketched out our basic house design… placing windows and roof lines and deciding on front door styles. Next you’ll want to determine if there are any shops or bakeries or butchers in your village. I like to add in details like window boxes full of flowers, potted plants and trash cans. Della always adds in a cat or dog. We like to go all the way around our houses with details, but you could easily just decorate the fronts. Once we have the exteriors all sorted out we design the interiors, with bedrooms and sitting rooms, maybe the shop becomes a dress shop and there’s piles of pretty fabric! After the paint all dries I love to go back over the details with a micron pen. Della usually doesn’t enjoy that 😉 When you’re finally finished with all the house or shop stuff, then it’s time to paint the miniature peg dolls that will live inside. We simply use the same craft paint and try to make each doll match the house or shop, but again this is a wonderful place to let the kids be free! Maybe the dolls resemble their sweet makers, or a dear friend, or the beloved characters from a favorite book. Most importantly remember to enjoy every second with your precious makers, and keep setting aside that special time to focus on them!
I am currently finding myself in a season of blackberry fever. The symptoms so far have presented as sketching and painting blackberries on any surface I can find. There has also been outbreak of baking and cooking all the blackberry dishes my heart and family can handle. Let’s not forget reading all about the plant itself and the little and sometimes large creatures who enjoy blackberries as much as we do. Who knew there was so much to learn! For instance, did you know the cluster of berries or fruits is called a drupelet, how cute is that word? Spending time learning about the animals that make the most of these bushes has become my new hobby these last few weeks as we anticipate the arrival of blackberry season in Tennessee.
Over the last few weeks the image of the darling creatures brining their specific needs to the brambly bush, and it supplying what each visitor needs so fully and individually keeps playing out in my mind. There’s so much hope found in that one scene. How many different scenarios can we apply that to? I know for me, I can think of God, motherhood, friendships, church… the list could literally go on and on. The provision of the one thing so greatly anticipated by so many, to meet so many different needs, is just so beautiful. This certainly makes me think of you Mommas with multiple kids. Your ability to provide for your individual kiddos needs is amazingly beautiful, not to compare you to a bramble, but you know what I mean!
I had a conversation with my daughter recently discussing why some things work for some people and not for others. Homeschool math was the exact topic. However my recent study of all things blackberry helped me talk her through some tough emotions. I explained to her that the beautiful cardinal makes a nest up in the branches of the blackberry bush, usually in the center, and the precious chipmunks live underneath the bush in the protection of the lower branches and thorns. If the subject of math is represented by the bush, and two different learning styles by the animals, then wouldn’t it be silly for the chipmunk to try and live in the cardinals home when she was created to nest and burrow under ground . Of course this is a simple metaphor and we could always go deeper, but she totally got it and didn’t feel bad about the math program that wasn’t right for her anymore. I am so thankful I took some time with this subject because a good, timely metaphor is always helpful with parenting!
So after finding myself fully immersed in the subject of blackberries I have a new favorite recipe to share with you, and just in time for berry season! This recipe is an icing that would be lovely on top of cupcakes (that’s how I served it), or maybe on a lemon cake! It would be so yummy sandwiched between two oatmeal cookies, or you could even just layer it with granola and yogurt…. you can literally just eat it with a spoon (and we did some of that too). Its light and dreamy…. it freezes well for a few weeks so you can make a big batch and keep it handy! I hope you enjoy it and make it your own, change the berry if you don’t find yourself as enamored with blackberries as I am currently. Enjoy!!
Blackberry Mascarpone Icing
8oz Mascarpone cheese (let sit out a few minutes before using)
3/4 cup powdered sugar ( more if you want a thicker texture )
1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 & 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
3/4 cup blackberry preserves ( or any type of jam or preserves )
Handful of fresh clean berries to decorate with, or pressed edible flowers like violets
In a medium bowl stir together the mascarpone cheese and vanilla, then once the cheese is smooth and slightly runny, sift the powdered sugar over the top, and stir well. Next stir in the jam or preserves and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer ( or with a hand held mixer) whip the cream until stiff… usually about 3 minutes on high. Gently fold in the berry mixture until completely incorporated. Use immediately or refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour if icing is too soft. This recipe will also freeze for at least 3 weeks… maybe longer but we couldn’t wait!
Well… this is me stepping way out of my comfort zone and trusting God! Over the last few years I’ve felt a creative aching in my heart, an aching that has literally had me losing sleep. The feeling that I’m not doing something I’m supposed. I have painted, sketched, crafted and baked my way through that feeling. I found with each project I still had that nagging in the pit of my stomach.
Then one quite morning, while reading my bible study I finally got it! I was the servant in the parable Jesus taught about who had buried their talents in the ground and not risked them to gain more for the Master. I was keeping it all safe and tucked up in my heart. I was keeping my light under a basket.
Now please understand, I am not an unbelievably talented artist or a creative genius of any kind. I’m just a homeschool mom who loves to create, bake, cook, and write….. and sometimes I do those things with my little bobble, Della! I do not assume that this little tiny dot on the internet will be full of profound wisdom and world changing posts, but I whole heartedly believe what Mother Teresa said, “If you want to change the world go home and love your family”, so here I am… sharing how I do that and maybe some craft projects and recipes sprinkled around for good measure! Oh, the bunny… I should probably prepare you to see a ton of our best guy, Mr. Jupiter Bunny! So check back in from time to time to see if I’m still being brave!