Bonjour, Mes Amies


   Bonjour, Mes Amies....
           Hurry, come in! Let's chat! I've got the kettle on and I've brewed up some tea (Twinning's Chai tea today, with a bit of milk and honey) and I want to tell you all about this french mood I've been in lately...

      I have this habit of falling down rabbit holes, its true; things catch my fancy and I have to wring out every last drop of it. This past week my mood has been...en francaise....oh, dear, you know, the French way of life!

   I think it started innocently enough when I picked up the book "In A French Kitchen" by Susan Herrmann Loomis at the library, and a few days later snatched up "French Women For All Seasons: A Year of Secrets, Recipes and Pleasure" by Mireille Guiliano.
   I am fascinated by people who enjoy their food and life as well as the French, and these books have been quite the cozy introduction to the French way of living a life with good food, within the seasons, and with joy. I haven't finished either of them yet (ha, story of ma vie....are you tired of the french vocab slip-ins yet? Surely not, right??!)


    My love of France and its laid back way of life goes waaaay back. Back to Junior High. When I took French I and fell in love. Remember how in foreign language class in school you could choose a new name for yourself? Mine was Juliette. Oh, I loved being Juliette, and was for my entire french high school career.
   When you're awkward and shy and a little bit freckled and still waiting for most of life to happen, being Juliette and speaking such lovely French words is so thrilling. To me, French people (oh, those funny French kids in the 1980s videos we had to watch! Where are they now, I wonder? And do they still wear such brightly colored oversized sweaters and name everything in the supermarche with such delight?) were so confident, so fun loving, so mature, so at ease in the world. All things I wasn't, but could pretend I was if I was Juliette.
   Being in French class, with an alias and all, was great pretend playing. The words so much more romantic and beautiful than the regular old English we spoke the rest of the day. Oh la la...
    Some of my favorite style icons and actresses were Catherine Deneuve, Audrey Tautou, and Sophie Marceau. I watched their movies and loved looking at their outfits. I may have even named a child Audrey, you know.... ;)

   But, ah yes, back to the kitchen. And french life. and french food. Oh I do love cheese and do love bread! And I love learning little tricks in Herrmann Loomis' book about how the french manage in the kitchen, how they plan amazing dishes that (according to Mireille Guiliano, at least!) makes them not fat!
   I imagine myself donning a floppy hat and a striped shirt and riding my bike down own this summer to the farmer's market and filling up my little basket and being OH. SO. FRENCH. Can't you??! Isn't it precious?! Wanna come??

   Hehe...and so...yes, in my mind, it is a very french time. No one's eating snails yet, but it's only Monday. And Im always up for eating just about anything if it's cooked well.

   I have been inspired to cook with more basic fruits and vegetables though, and remember to bring my cloth bags to the store like a good French lady would. I'm even a little inspired to sort out my pantry, and get back into my "everything must go into a glass jar" phase. All of this is done to the Madeleine Peyroux pandora channel playing in the background, naturally. ;)



   I'm also interested in challenging myself to go to the store and purchase less plastic, which is its own little tangent. It is HARD! Yesterday I went to the butcher area of the grocery store, hoping that if I got my meat there it would be wrapped in paper instead of plastic...nope....that was packed up in foam and plastic too. Sigh. But, well, I like a challenge sometimes ;) And oh, I could bake my own bread again! How does one make a baguette? So many questions....my mind is always racing....

  Well, back to my books and getting my kitchen all sorted en francaise. Before I go though, I'm leaving you with this video that cracks me up every time.....reminds me of those French videos we watched so much in class...

    au revoir mes cheres!~


Cozy

Hello friends, and I'm so glad you've come for a visit! I was so delighted at your support for getting back to 'cozy' with blogging. I am so ready for cozy and quiet, aren't you?

   Luckily, I've just cleared away the lunch dishes and have turned the kettle on. I am still enjoying my tea-- this afternoon I'm hoping for a sweeter tea. I'm trying to be good...maybe the tea will be all my sweet tooth needs, eh?

  This weekend out here in the prairie part of the world was beautiful-- temperatures like the spring and clear blue skies. Of course I chose that time to come down with a double ear infection! But I am doing much better-- lots of reading, knitting, tea, and a dash of antibiotics had me fixed right up!

  This morning I was happy to see that my friend Patricia and my recollections of our tour of Corgi Cottage (Tasha Tudor's Homestead) have been posted in the Tudor family newsletter. Going on that tour--- and with such wonderful friends and my daughter-- was a high light of my life. To see her painting table and little chair...all her little brushes...my heart just swelled! You can read the article HERE if you'd like.


   This afternoon, it's just us chickens. Well, honestly...chickens, me, dog, sundry of cats. Who know how many cats are on the premises. Bailey the cat is upstairs, probably asleep on someone's bed. We wont think about how many little mouse souls might be hiding in this old house....surely Bailey has taken care of all that?

   Things are blustery but bright today, and I'm hoping for a walk after some good studio time. I finished some custom work, and my little Candlemas painting, which I am thrilled with. And hoping to do a few saints to offer very soon. One thing I love about painting with the seasons is there's always something new to catch my interest. Even though garden--- dormant with dried leaves and old seed husks, is beautiful. I cant wait for it to be rose season again, but they'e got to rest....they need their beauty sleep.

   Ah, so, I'm back with my tea now, and chose for my 'dessert' glazed lemon loaf tea from Tazo. It really does taste lemony and buttery! Which sounds perplexing for a tea, but trust me--- it's good!

  Giving it a good stir and then heading over to paint a bit. I hope you have something sweet and cozy today too--- what are you up to? What are you knitting, or drinking, or watching lately? What soothing things have you found to combat the anxiety of the things going on outside your door?

  I've got a heap of English gardening books just in from the library--- and anxious to look through them. And so many knitted things to work on too!

   Hope you are well. Thank you for your visit today! I love having you here!
See you soon,
H

One of my favorite cozy winter songs:: Winter, Fire and Snow

In the Bleak Mid-Winter


   Today is bright but bitingly cold. We are keeping ourselves indoors, I'm finishing some little doll ornaments I'll be bringing to a class I'm teaching next month in Eureka Springs and all I hear at the moment is my littlest playing softly in the other room and the ticking of the old clock on the book shelf.

   It's that cozy time of year when I feel so lazy and just want to hibernate, although I am trying to paint when I can! Also curling up with sweet books, like my favorite 'feasts and festivals' book Cattern Cakes and Lace and our new copy of The Complete Brambly Hedge. Also copious amounts of tea....we are all on a tea kick in this house as of late. My oldest loves her tea time too. Today Im drinking the Salted Carmel tea from Bigalow Teas, and considering switching over to tea entirely from my morning coffee, which hasnt really been doing it for me lately taste-wise....and I had to choke back a sob yesterday morning when I'd realized I'd bought decaf!

      On my knitting needles I've started--- another--- shawl.... Its the Simple Shawl from Hedgerow Yarns (evidently Im all about the hedges these days!) and I'll show you more once I get it going a respectable bit!

    It is my little wish to get back to just a simple, chatty, day-to-day blog like I used to have in 'the old days' haha....not too terribly exciting, but I miss those nice blog days, do you? When we'd all comment and visit, and show each other what we were making and cooking and thinking in a nice leisurely post? I'm eager to start that again....which is why I've made my little blog here in this new space so I can do all my 'official art' posts on the Sleightholm Folk site. This will be the little chatty spot....where there's always a tea kettle going, knitting beside the chair, a cat to cuddle up with and just a simple respite from all the heaviness out there. We are "taking joy" here, after all!

   Bit at the moment, nothing too momentous is going on....it's like that lovely little carol 'In The Bleak Midwinter.' We are in that time, arent we? But I dont mind. I turn on the little stove in the living room, make some tea, grab some knitting. I told you....I am a bit of an old lady. But I relish it! I'd rather be home than anywhere. I'm a 'stay at home sort of bird', as Glady Taber would say. Oh, she's another one to read at this cozy time of year.....must go look in the bookshelves....

   How are you this bleak midwinter? Stay Warm! Stay Cozy! Take Joy!~
H

"In the bleak midwinter" Choir of Kings College, Cambridge

Take Joy


Take Joy!
 
   It is the name of this blog and the motto for life that I learned from one of my very favorite artists, Tasha Tudor. The phrase comes from a beautiful piece of writing made by Fra Giovanni many centuries ago. The original text reads:
"No peace lies in the future which is not hidden in this present moment. Take peace! The gloom of the world is but a shadow; behind it, yet within our reach, is joy. Take joy!"

  These are words I take to heart when things seem dark and grim, and also when I pick up my paint brush to create. The gloom of the world is but a shadow--- we must choose to take joy. And so I try my best.

   That is also what I want to leave for you here-- simple words, pretty images, and food for the soul that brings us both joy.
   
   I've written extensively though the years about my love of Tasha Tudor (you can find those posts HERE) and was lucky enough to get to tour her home a few years ago. She continues to inspire me daily as a mother, as an artist, a crafter and as a woman looking to find inspiration and home in this world.

  I've collected so many books by her and about her over the years. I've even got a couple of books from Japan (I cant read them, but the pictures are nice!) If you've never heard of Tasha, I highly suggest starting with this book. But beware-- you'll fall in love!
   

  And so with Tasha as our little artsy God mother, I'd like to start a simple blog here....full of art, gardening, knitting, crafting, seasons, celebration and simply-- JOY. You'll be able to find my more business oriented posts at my main site, Sleightholmfolk.com, although Im sure painting will come up here often, as it is my main love!

   Thank you for your visit, and I look forward to getting to know you more! Please leave a comment and your blog address if you have one!~
Talk more later,
H

Hello There!


Hello there, and welcome.
 With this new year I thought I'd make a fresh start with a new blog! And here it is, and here you are...so shall we begin?

   Starting out with a fresh journal, as it were, has me feeling a little bashful. I imagine if you're reading this you know me already, but if not, well, lets have a quick introduction...

   I'm Heather. I'm a wife and a mama to two. I live in a little prairie town in the middle of the United States, a place rather wind-blown and sweltering in the summer, chilly and also rather windblown in the winter! Several years ago we bought an old house in the heart of downtown, a sturdy old craftsman that will be 102 years old this year. I love its big roomy porch, all the original floors and pretty old doors, the high ceilings, the long flight of creaking, well worn old stairs. Old spaces suit me best, as I've loved 'old timey' things all my life. And really, I do my best to bring in as much old-timiness to our lives here as I possibly can!

  In the back we have a bit of an urban homestead, with our chicken coop and an old shed I've made into a chapel. From my kitchen window I can look out at the old brick carriage house, which in my imagination is like Jane Austen's little cottage home. In real life however, the first floor of it is our garage--- full of the mundane things garages usually get packed full of --but above it....above it is my space, my studio....a rabbit's warren of little rooms that make up an old apartment. And that is where I paint.

  My life as an artist has always just been my life. I have drawn and painted and doodled ever since...well, forever. I was always taking art class in school and then in college, and painted just to entertain myself as a young mother when our first child was born. I started a folk art business called Audrey Eclectic, named after her, but have switched over to being Sleightholm Folk Art in the last few years. Seemed only right to let her do what she will with her own name!

   My interests and techniques have changed over the years as I've gotten more confident as a painter, but what seems to suit me best would be to describe what I enjoy as 'the sacred and  the homespun.'  My little family does our best to live out the seasons of the liturgical year according to our Anglican faith, and I love to explore the traditions of faith and culture around the world. I have a soft spot for the saints, the feasts, and the unique traditions that filter down to us from centuries long past.

   I also love homespun things--- and over the years I've learned to knit and spin and am so enamored of fiber arts. I am also a lover of tea time and a good British murder mystery....I am, quite happily, a little old lady at heart!

    I do have a site where I list all my art news, such as new listings, events, classes, etc. But I've decided I'll have all that over here, and do more of my little ramblings here on this blog. I'll have them attached in the side bars, to its easy to switch between the two. And it is my hope that we can get to know each other a little better here on this more chatty blog, where I can go on more of a ramble.

   And so, that will be my introduction for now. I'd love to know a little about you! Are we friends, having known each
other for years and years? Or new kindred spirits saying our first hello? Whoever you are--- welcome--- cant wait to get to know you~

~H