Paint Elsewhere

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Besides a sketchbook, you can paint on canvas…

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…or on wood…

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…or on a birdhouse made of wood…

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…that has been sitting around your house for years…

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…but was painted an ugly green all over. I like it much better now. Don’t you?

I am now eyeing a piece of furniture in my house.

It could be the next target for the acrylics.

But I’d have to buy A LOT more paint! 🙂

Books to Inspire!

InspiringBooks

Every now and then I post about a book I’m reading that inspires me. Last year, around this time, it was Mark Hearld’s artwork and book. But it seems lately I’ve had a passel of books that I just love and I’d like to share them with you, in case you might be interested in one or two of them. Most of these I’ve read in the past two months. One of them I’m reading right now. And one I keep re-reading, even though I got the book last year. I’ll give you the titles and authors with a brief reason why it is inspiring to me.

Arne & Carlos’ Knit and Crochet Garden by Arne & Carlos: There were several patterns that interested me, but what I love most is the weaving of yarn works in and around one’s personal life…in this case their garden! I also loved the blend of knitting and crochet–not being a book with just one or the other featured. I am currently knitting two of the mice patterns from this book, one girl and one boy mouse, along with their clothes. You can follow me on Instagram to view the progress on my Mortimer and Millicent!;) It’s impossible to leave this book without wanting to go find a garden to sit in and knit!

Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett (author) and Jon Klaussen (illustrator): This is the one I purchased last year when it won the Caldecott Honor Book Award. I pull it out and read it every few weeks because I love how knitting can change a life, a town, a world. Fabulous illustrations!

Journey by Aaron Becker: Oh my. Words cannot describe the delight I have in this wordless picture book. It speaks volumes to me of how my humble crayon can (and does) take me on wondrous adventures and introduces me to dear friends. Purchased this year as it was a Caldecott Honor Book Award winner.

Paris in Love by Eloisa James (book not pictured): I actually felt like I was with her and her family while they lived for a year in Paris. Laughed my way through the book, and savored the wonderful descriptions of an American woman living in France. This book was on loan to me from a friend and I gave it back to her before I took the above picture.

Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim: I’ve watched this movie (note the VCR version in the photo) many, many times (it may be my all-time favorite!) but have just recently begun to read the book on my Kindle! I love every word of it, the wonderful old-fashioned “voice”, and finding out just how true to the book the film is. Lovely. And FREE on Kindle!!

The Illuminated Life of Maud Lewis/ Capturing Joy/ The Painted House of Maud Lewis: I gave the first book listed here to my mom for her birthday so I didn’t have it for the picture. But I have read all three of them and am so inspired by this artist’s life and work. Though it is a bit painful to read of her debilitating disease and nowhere-near-perfect marriage, it is an amazing account of the human spirit refusing to be squelched by anything! Capturing Joy is a children’s book version of her life and artwork and I plan on sharing it with my students next year!

The Yarn Whisperer by Claire Parkes: Marvelous, wondiferous short essays on life and knitting! Very witty, clever and insightful. This is fast becoming my favorite genre of reading…books about knitting written by knitters.

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi: I started to read this as my youngest daughter Maddie is reading it for her 6th grade english class. She asked me to read it at the same time she was, only a chapter at a time. I. Could. Not. Put. It. Down. Though some of the scenes were ghastly, it is nevertheless an intriguing (if not scathing) commentary on what it means to be civil and civilized. Wow. A Newbery Honor Book.

Surviving the Applewhites by Stephanie S. Tolan: A friend and fellow artist (who is a retired Middle School Media Specialist) gave me this book at Christmas because she said it reminded her of the tales I had told her of my family growing up. Such a delightful read!! And oh my…quite close to home!;)

A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd: I’m a follower of the Nerdy Book Club and a lover of Young Adult Fiction. So when this one came across the Nerdy Book Club recommendation post, I got it to read on my Kindle. I found myself purposefully slowing down so I could savor this book for as long as possible!! Every single word was a snicker of magic to me! I relished and delighted in this book from cover to finish. I want to live in Midnight Gulch! Can’t wait for other books by this author, as this was her very first one!!! And I fear that I shall “need” the paper copy of this book: when I fall in love with a book, I really want the physical version to hold, look at, flip pages, etc. That’s the only downside to a Kindle.

So…what have YOU been reading that has inspired you in some way? Do share!! I’d love to create my next reading list based on your recommendations!

Bread

BreadDrawing

A few things:

I am not a cook.

I assemble (and draw) food.

But…

I love bread.

Sourdough, biscuits, rolls, yeast breads, pumpkin/apple/banana breads, etc.

I especially love crusty exterior with soft interior bread.

My love for yummy, hot-out-of-the-oven bread overcomes my dislike of and ineptitude at cooking.

Years ago, I used to make sourdough loaves all the time. Fed the “critter” in my fridge. Gave loaves to friends. Served family this beloved bread.

But it has been years since I’ve made sourdough bread. And I also have a “bread angel” who gifts us with sourdough bread (many many thank you’s!).

I now have a new love.

European Peasant Bread.

Thank you Kay for the recipe! (Even though I’m ashamed to admit that this is how long it has taken me to make the bread you so generously gave me and then wrote out and gave me the recipe!)

I share it here [with my added changes in square brackets due to not having exact items on hand, but it still turned out fantastic!]. (Kay’s notes are in rounded parentheses).

White European Peasant Bread OR 5-Minute Bread (ok…so right here I must tell you that I made a combo white/wheat bread. Amounts included below. Turned out great! But I think it will rise even more when I make it all white bread. AND…5 Minutes? Well. Maybe 5 minutes to stir up the ingredients. But then 5 hours for it to rise. And then 40 minutes for it to cook. So all totaled, mine was 5 hours 45 minutes.:)

6 1/2 cups unbleached flour (5 lb. bag will make 2 recipes) [OK. So. I did not have unbleached flour. I drove to Target to get this item. They do not have anything but bleached flour. I was too impatient to go to numerous places to find this. So home I went and used the Bread Flour and Wheat Flour I had in the pantry. I used 4 1/2 cups of white Bread Flour, and 2 cups of Wheat.]

1 1/2 T of Kosher salt. [I just had regular salt, the kind with the girl with an umbrella on it. Worked fine. However, Randy said he thought the bread tasted a bit salty. I didn’t notice. But I might cut back the amount of salt next time. OR, perhaps the Kosher kind will taste less salty…??? I told you, I’m not a cook. ]

1 1/2 T yeast (rapid rise or regular). [I had rapid rise yeast in packets. I measured this amount out and I used 2 packets plus a bit of a third. Does this come in a jar form? Might be easier.]

3 cups warm water. [Easiest part. Ran warm water from tap. Even I can do that. 🙂 ]

2 cups finely shredded cheddar cheese (optional). [To me, this is not optional…it is soooo delicious!]

*Makes 3 loaves or rounds. [Personally I love it in the round form!! Looks all peasant-like to me!]

*Dough is good for 2 weeks in fridge in an airtight container. [Really? It’ll last 2 weeks? Not in my house! I have baked all three loaves in the span of two days. And it is all gone!]

*Make dough: Throw it all in and stir just until mixed. Don’t over stir [pretty sure I did!]. If using cheese, add it last.

*Put dough in 5 qt. container. [Kay uses 4.7 qt. Sterilite from Walmart. I couldn’t find 4.7 or 5 qt. containers at Target, so I came home with a 6 qt. container. Seemed to work fine.]

*Let rise on counter 2-5 hours til it fills container. Leave lid askew [don’t you love that word?] to allow gases to escape. (If it doesn’t fill container in 5 hours, go ahead and put lid on tight and refrigerate.) [Mine did not fill the 6 qt. container, but I went ahead and baked a third of it anyways.]

*Take out 1/3 of dough with floured hands and floured surface. Don’t knead but work down on all sides [in a kind of arc from center of bread to the edges]. Then turn and do the same all around dough. This is called “cloaking” the bread. [Very cool!]

*Put in a greased and floured pan (round or loaf). (Kay notes that she hasn’t been flouring the stone/pan if it is round/flat; but that she would flour if baked in a loaf pan.)

*If dough has been in fridge, let it sit in pan 1/2 hour. If making it right away, skip this step.

*Bake @ 450 degrees for 40-45 minutes, until thermometer reaches 180-210 degrees. [Mine got to 206 degrees after 40 minutes!:) ]

*As you take dough out of airtight container, cover the remaining dough with plastic wrap.

So. I know it took you longer than 5 minutes to read all that! But it is so worth any time needed to make this bread!! I don’t know that mine turned out exactly the way it should’ve, so I will be attempting to “perfect” it. An excuse to have to make it many, many more times!! My family is glad of that!! I think you will be too!

Awesome quote I found today on this amazing blog!

“To err is human. To loaf is Parisian.” Victor Hugo

Not sure that “loaf” is meaning the bread kind, but it works both ways really well! 🙂

Snow-capped Bales

SnowCappedBails

Snow-capped Bales. Watercolor. 9″x12″.

Mr. Whicker had some hay bales dropped off on the wide end of his field up on Silver Dapple Lane. Seeing as how I LOVE hay bales, I just had to draw them with their snow hats on. As I walked in the freshly fallen snow last Wednesday, Mr. Whicker came down the lane in his blue tractor. He stopped to chat for a bit on his way to pick up one of the bales to take to his cows there in the field behind his barns. He said he hoped the cows like it. When I inquired about this, (not realizing that cows can be quite particular about their hay), he said he took some of this hay to cows of his on other land and they didn’t take to it right away. He’s hoping this group of cows will have a liking for it. I guess, cows get used to the same ole same ole, and actually prefer it to something new.

Unlike me, a new fresh bale of hay does NOT seem *magical* to cows.

**Both the above and the previously posted watercolor painting have been added to my Etsy Shoppe! 😉 **

Thoughts on this Gray Dreary Day

LightonaHill

Sun of Yore

 

I woke and sunshine filled the room
Though dark, memories of sun pervaded the gloom
For yesterday, the world was bright
Warm rays danced on all in sight.

 

Yet as I stepped outside my door
A tinkling sound heard too often before
Ushered in the gray of winter days
Snuffing nearly all my inner rays.

 

Would that I could keep the sun of yore
No matter what greets me outside the door.
I’ll set what spark I have upon the hill
And gaze intently with all my will.

 

-jpe
1/14/2014

Angels Unaware

AngelonourTree

On this Sunday in Advent, when the candle we light is the Angel candle, I catch my breath as I remember.

Not too many months ago, I felt much like a poor shepherd out in the field being visited by not one, but many angels.  These angels wore scrubs, not robes. They wielded not swords, but needles and medicines, scalpels and anesthesia.  Among the angel troops I had the privilege of meeting those weeks in the hospital, were those who transported me from hospital room to X-ray, and to surgery and back again, twice. One particular angel was named Stan. A normal everyday guy who took pride in his work, carting folks in and out, to and from where they needed to go next. He was the one called upon to wheel me to my first surgery to remove a colon so inflamed it was about to burst.

As he and my husband made small talk on the way to surgery, I had a particular scripture running in my head. I wasn’t making myself remember this. It just came into my head and played over and over. They were the words of Mary, the mother of Jesus, “Behold the handmaiden of the Lord…be it unto  me according to Thy will.” Over and over it ran until we reached the room where I would be relieved, not of a baby, but of a burden that was truly killing me.

On this Good Friday, as Stan turned to leave, he said, “I’ll be praying for you Mrs. Edwards.” To which I asked, “Would you pray with me now?” His eyes glowed in joy at the request and out came his well-worn sword as he bowed his head.  He prayed two Scriptures for me that day: one was that I, like Christ, was in my Gethsemane, wishing that this cup would pass from me. He prayed that I would have the strength to say as Christ did, “…not my will, but Thine be done.” And the next prayer blew me away—“Lord, Mrs. Edwards is like Mary today. Grant her the courage to say, as Mary, your Mother did, ‘Behold the handmaiden of the Lord. Be it unto me according to Thy will.” And he sheathed his sword as he said, “Amen.”

I had not uttered a word on the way to that room. There was no way he could have known I was hearing that verse run in my head as I faced surgery. Only angels know these things.

Whatever it is you believe about angels, we have it on good account that they show up when needed most. The shepherds in that day needed the angels as much as I did on Good Friday, in March of this year. I am so grateful for angels (though they are completely unaware they are one!) who come bearing Good News, wielding swords of all kinds and wearing various uniforms.

Be glad with me today! An angel has brought us the best news we could ever hear: A Savior has been born! And that news brings healing in our bones and joy for our souls.

Out of the Garden Project 2013

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This year’s Honor Card for the Out of the Garden Project was created specifically for them. I am honored each year to have my artwork grace their Honor Cards, given for each $5 donated to their amazing work of providing food for school age children and their families throughout the Triad. You can read here and here about the last two Honor Cards and more about their work in Guilford and Forsyth counties. Like them on Facebook and sign up to receive their emailed newsletter. You will love getting involved in this organization!!

OOTGPCard2013

The director, Don Milholin, contacted me and asked if I would write a piece for their newsletter about this year’s Honor Card image. I was delighted to be asked and it was sent out on Monday of this week. I’m including it here for you to read, in hopes that you will join me in supporting this worthy cause–providing much needed food for children and their families who would not otherwise have it. The Honor Cards are available year round, but make a fabulous gift for teachers, co-workers, and friends on your Christmas List!

Gardening

My husband says that I’m a “planter.”  I like to dig a small hole and place in it a fledgling plant, water it good, and whisper sweetly to it—grow! Then I walk away and return in a few weeks fully expecting the plant to be thriving. He, on the other hand, tends and nurtures the plant day after day. He weeds and waters. He churns up the soil around the plant to allow it to breathe. He is a “gardener.”

This whole beautiful earth is the garden in which we live and move and have our being. Each of us is invited, even called, to tend and nurture this garden of ours. To see to it that it thrives. To not just poke something in the ground and walk away, but to daily encourage its growth and vitality.

This year’s honor card is a very simple depiction of this garden we live in. The children you see in and amongst the corn, tomatoes and sunflowers are every bit the vegetables and flowers that grow here in our earth-garden.  It is an image of children thriving and happy, with their basic needs met, allowing them to frolic and play in the beauty of the garden. It’s an illustrated version of what we want to see as reality for each and every child.

Yet, sadly, this is not reality for all children or their families. We are all aware of hunger’s devastation in countries overseas.  We may not be so aware of the hunger that grows like an aggressive weed right in our own backyard gardens!  I know of no better way to tend and nurture my small earth-garden patch than to participate with the Out of the Garden Project.

When my husband goes out to tend our garden, it doesn’t seem to take too much of his time. A bit of weeding, daily watering, picking off suckers from tomato plants. But it’s an ongoing work, small bits of time tending to the needs of the garden.  And when I join in it with him, the burden of effort is even lighter. That’s the beauty of our task in tending to the hunger issue here in the Triad: many hands make light work! Each of us, as we give to OOTGP, as we volunteer at the warehouse packing bags of food, as we help with the mobile pantries … any way we can donate a small (or big) amount of our resources in time and money will add up to huge growth in the vitality and thriving of the children here in our garden.

Won’t you join me, as I learn to be a gardener and not just a planter! It may not seem like we’re doing much. It may, at times, feel like the hunger weed just won’t be eradicated. But together we can achieve a thriving in the hearts, minds and bodies of children around us by even the smallest of efforts to help the Out of the Garden Project!

I’m grabbing my gardening gloves and spade … see you in the Garden!

Jennifer Edwards

jenniferedwards.com

***Don’t forget to enter the giveaway for one of my recently published books! Info here! Entries close at midnight tonite!

Poem from a Christmas Past

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A Dickens Eve

A gentle waterfall
spilled up and o’er the rim
finding age old crevices
to follow towards my chin.

‘Twere just a play!
a staged apparition…
Well, actually there were three
nay four! after intermission.

What magic did befall me
as costumed sorcerers did brew
with lilting incantations
and lovely music too.

Had I not sat here
a couple times before?
Yet a fortnight of years
since last I heard this score.

A fortnight of years
is enough to deepen
the heart crevices
touched here by Dickens.

As Past waves her hand
for Scrooge to view his childhood,
My own leaps up before me
memories dancing, ill and good.

Then Present laughs hearty
as I sit here with my Three-
I know the richness I’ve been given
I can scarce contain it merrily.

For that dearest family Cratchit
‘tis my own sweet family too!
The crevices are deeper now
‘tis why I see this anew.

My senior girl beside me
is poised to leave the nest
Four years at college
and then who knows the rest?

My middle boy full of life
and a heart that breaks for all
His character becomes a man
How did he get so tall?

My youngest also sweetest thing
a deadly disease has hold…
Were it not for money and medicine,
her future could not be told.

All three have known less at table
though nothing like the meager here.
Fewer clothes are in their closets
Yet the Cratchits are wearing theirs.

Though my life is abundance
in comparison with these…
Do I still hoard and miser
all I have, to live in ease?

The jocund, piercing work of actors
has undone my heart this night.
The waterfall I cannot stop
melts what I’ve held tight.

Live freely with hands held open
Give money, joy and love!
And ring throughout each blessed moment:
God Bless Us Everyone!!

-jpe
2 December 2011

Christmas Mugs

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A Mutiny

The cupboard cannot hold them
these merry mugs of cheer.
For sweetly drinking Christmas,
Out of boxes pulled each year.

I cannot fit them with the rest
so tumbled out I’ll leave them,
spilling Christmas nog and joy
with every chance I see them.

They wink as I drink my morning cuppa
And froth piping hot at noon
Then steam sweet with friends at evening
And swirl my kids with chocolate spoon.

‘Twill be with sadness to tuck them away
at end of yuletide season.
One shall resist the packing day
To declare, against Christmas’ end, its treason.

-jpe

***I bet you have certain mugs you pull out each year at Christmastime like I do. I love these festive vessels for drinking in the season’s cocoa or russian tea! I’ve been enjoying my big red-with-white-polka-dot mug each morning with coffee and lots of cream in it! Our favorite desserty drink these days is hot cocoa with peppermint mocha creamer in it and a dollop of whipped cream on top! Yum! What are some of your favorite hot drinks? Do share!

This really happened!

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Akimbo

Sitting slightly askew
a star on the mantel for show…
He felt that he should right it.
But little did he know.

“Oh I liked it catywampus!
Please don’t change my decoratin’
You see, things do look best
When they’re arranged a bit sigodlin.

Now furniture all chockablock
Well that’s against the law.
But to add a touch of whimsy…
You place stuff whoppyjawed!”

His saucered look began to melt
When our eyes did finally meet
And with a twinkled smile he said,
“This, I gotta tweet!”

-jpe

6 December 2011

I looked up the spelling of catywampus, sigodlin, and whoppyjawed.  It is interesting to note that all three of these words do not show up in Webster’s dictionary, but are considered “southern colloquialisms” in some other, urban dictionaries.  I also discovered that whoppyjawed is supposed to be: whompyjawed.  But since I never said it that way, and having whoppyjawed in MY dictionary, I’ve left the spelling here.  Chockablock actually appeared in Webster’s dictionary.  It’s only meaning was “full”.  I grew up knowing it to mean “everything placed side by side in too much uniformity”.