Monday, December 29, 2014

Art Gallery Wall!



I finished it! 




And boy!  It was no small task.


But I’m sooo glad I did it. 


I love seeing the girls’ artwork on my way up and down the stairs to their rooms.  (Noah had a special one he wanted included, and so it was!)


I started with an assortment of frames, collected over time and from different places.  Some I’ve had for a while, others not so long.  Some I gilded with gold Rub-n-buff, and others I used a silver leaf technique.  I sprayed them first with an adhesive, then added paper-thin sheets of silver leaf, using a small artist’s paintbrush and my finger, to gently rub the silver into the crevices in the frames.  Next I wiped some old stain I already had onto the frames.  Not too heavily, but just enough to tint the shine of the silver so it looked more aged,  I wiped it on and off in small sections with an old sock.  Once that dried, I sprayed with a few coats of clear polyurethane to keep the silver from flaking off.


To determine placement on the wall, I outlined each frame with a pencil, onto pieces of white packing paper, and then taped them to the wall.  I started with the biggest frame in the center, and then just kind of eye-balled it one by one, hoping to create something like haphazard symmetry.

Do you think there is such a thing?


I also wanted to have an uneven amount of silver to gold frames to give it less a planned look, but something that looked like it was added onto over time, yet still with a semblance of cohesiveness.


I hung some of the frames with nails and wire, and others with Command sticky back velcro tape.  And I used Glenn’s level with each of the frames, to help me straighten them up the best I could.

Each of the girls did 3 portraits, and all were finished by the time I was hanging the frames, except Olivia.  I got down to the last two frames and asked her to go and draw two pictures for me.  :)  Instant art.  It didn’t matter to me whether it was their “best” artwork, I just wanted examples that represented where they are now. 


They all love to draw and so not only was it fun for them to “help” with the project, but they thoroughly enjoy seeing their drawings hanging where they can look at them every day.


And I really think it makes our home look more “lived-in”, as though we didn’t just move here 2 1/2 years ago.


In addition to all those frames, I thought the wall just to the left of the doorway on the landing needed a little something.  I had seen a large wooden sconce at our Goodwill for months, and now it seemed like just the thing that might work.

It was definitely not in my color scheme:


But after some white paint, slightly sanded, and some gold Rub-n-Buff applied deliberately to a few places, to help it coordinate with the frames on the wall, I loved it.


I tried to make the gold look as though it had been worn down over time.


We have lit the candle a few times and the girls are just thrilled to go up and down the stairs with an actual candle lighting the way. 


I think it makes them feel a little like they are living in “olden times”. 



So there you go!  A very long post about a project that took a very long time. 

But was well worth the effort.


Have a great day!



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Mod Mix Monday

Tuesday, December 23, 2014



It may seem odd that I have picked such a theme for this post.  And the day before Christmas Eve, too!  But I have been reading a book written in 1645 by a very wise man.  The book, The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment, is one I’ve read before.  And it’s one I hope to read many more times throughout my life.

It is a small book, composed of sermons preached by Jeremiah Burroughs to his congregation in the mid-1600’s.  Yet its theme, contentment, is one that has immense benefit for anyone, no matter what time period.

I highly encourage you to read it, but until you do, I hope you won’t mind if I share an excerpt from it that the children and I have talked about more than once, especially as they have grown older. 

The knowledge of our own hearts. 

Burroughs exhorts us that if we do not learn this, we will never learn contentment. 

Why?  Listen to his words:

“By studying your heart you will come soon to discover wherein your discontent lies.  When you are discontented you will find out the root of any discontent if you study your heart well.  Many men and women are discontented, and the truth is they do not know why;  they think this and the other thing is the cause.  But a man or woman who knows their own heart will soon find out where the root of their discontent lies.”

He gives the example of a child who is fussing and whining.  A stranger in the house could not possibly know what is the matter with the child; why he is fussing.  But the nurse, or nowadays, the mother comes into the room, knows the temper and disposition of the child, and therefore knows how to calm them. 

“It is just the same here:  when we are strangers to our own hearts we are powerfully discontented, and do not know how to quiet ourselves, because we do not know wherein the disquiet lies, but if we are very well versed in our own hearts, when anything happens to unsettle us, we soon find out the cause of it, and so quickly become quiet.”

So “this knowledge of our hearts will help us to contentment, because by it we shall come to know what best suits our condition.”

And why is this helpful?…  The next part is so revealing..

“A man who does not know his own heart does not think what need he has of affliction, and for that reason is uneasy, but when God comes with afflictions to the man or woman who have studied their own hearts, they can say, ‘I would not have been without this affliction for anything in the world, God has so suited this affliction to my condition, and has come in such a way that if this affliction had not come I am afraid I should have fallen into sin.’”

We have affliction.  We all have had trials given to us by God, which aren’t comfortable, which stretch us, or which cause us to squirm.  Sometimes I have wished just to hurry time along, so that the trial would just be over and done with.  But then, I would not have learned more about my own heart. 

Some of my hardest trials have been miscarriage, financial burdens, strife with friends or family, and probably the most difficult… knowing that the life of one my children has a thread more fragile than most.  I have seen her at death’s door several times, helpless to do anything for her.  Except pray and trust.

I don’t know what your trials are, but I am sure you’ve had them.  Maybe even now.  But I hope you find Burroughs’ words as comforting and helpful as I do. 

What is the blessing of knowing your own heart?  Listen:

“By knowing their own hearts they know what they are able to manage, and by this means they come to be content.”

I can look at the trials God has given to me, and clearly see things I needed to know.  Ways I needed to change.  And I can see how those trials were the perfect way to bring about change, to work sanctification in me.  To help me think less of myself and more of others.  To help me see the ways I had been insensitive, and how I could be more considerate.  To help me understand better how to be a source of comfort when I see another in a trial I have known especially well.

And of course it isn’t finished yet. There are still times I am surprised by my heart.  And not especially in a gratifying way.  But I am learning to be a student of my heart.  I am learning what I can manage, and what I can’t.  I am learning to be content.  And it is a very good thing.

I pray you have a wonderful Christmas with your loved ones, and that you too are learning like I am, to be a student of your own heart.  To learn what it is to be content.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Exuberance of Life


December has been a busy month! 

And it isn’t finished yet. 

Some wonderful memories are just ahead of us, about to be made. 

But some we’ve already had!

It’s been difficult to find a moment to sit and post something to our little blog, but I know I have a few nieces and nephews who, I’ve been told, wait anxiously for news from our corner of the world.

(Hello Cousins in Markleville!)

So I thought I would take a minute and post a few very random pictures to show a little of what life has been like here at Kenilworth, just since the beginning of December!


Alix found a few treasures while taking a little jaunt with Promise to the tiny creek just down the road.  Believe it or not – this is a glass goblet!  She found it covered in the mud, but miraculously unbroken! 


(can I say she is a ‘chip off the old block’?)


We picked out our tree, a Frazier fir, the first weekend in December.  And then it sat for 5 days ( a record for us!) because we were too busy to decorate it



But finally!  We did!



It snowed!  We got all excited about it – even though it didn’t last long.  We know there will be more.



I started this gallery wall.  It is taking me forever to get it done!  But I am getting there.  Frame by frame.



We have 3 birthdays in December.  Kate’s was the first – she turned 15 on December 9th.  We celebrated in our usual ways:  She and I went to lunch, and Glenn met us there this time! 



And as usual Grandma and Grandpa came for the evening festivities.



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Luke received his first promotion at work!  We were so happy for him!



Kate has continued to draw when she has time.  She has done several commissions this month, (and has several in the dock) squeezing them in between school and ballet.  A few we can’t show until after Christmas!  ;)  But here is one she did, while trying to decide what to enter into the Scholastic Art Contest.  We had a bit of a rush to get it done and submitted – and lots of online paperwork and a run to the post office – but somehow it’s completed.


Although we thought she was beautiful, we weren’t sure she was right for this contest, so Kate did a second one..


And that was the One!

Due to the large number of entries – I think there were over 20,000 last year! – results won’t be for several months. 


We were blessed (and nervous) to sing in a Christmas Concert in Delphi.


Alix passed her driver’s test with flying colors!! 

And drove by herself for the first time to the neighbor’s barn to feed the horses.


Umm… no, I wasn’t nervous at all as I watched her drive away..



We’ve been practicing singing Christmas carols – for our annual caroling of friends!



The kids built our traditional Gingerbread House.  This year they were completely on their own – and did a terrific job!




Glenn brought home this chocolate casket, which he purchased in the company’s gift shop.  Did I mention he works for a casket company?  Anyway, we have laughed and laughed about this chocolate casket, wrapped specially in gold.  We can’t help but wonder……  when would this ever be appropriate to give to a bereaved person?!


(Isn’t it funny the way the utensils cast a shadow on the wall?  I think it looks like an old person with a pointy chin, sharp nose, and hair kind of like a rooster. What do you think?)


And I don’t have the pictures to show of the great times we have spent with friends and family, too…

we went with dear friends to our first Holy Walk,

watched Courtney and Erica perform in the Nutcracker,

and have spent time with family and friends at gift exchanges and dinners.


And the fun isn’t over yet!  We still have the twins’ birthday next week… and Christmas!!! 


I hope your December, so far, has been filled with special family times, and memories. 

Lots of good, delicious memories!



See you soon!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Sing We Now of Christmas




The days are bustling with activity here!!  We are busy with school, ballet, time with friends and family, birthdays, and singing Christmas Carols.

We have gradually decorated for Christmas and found a beautiful Frazier fir tree at the Christmas tree farm.  I’ll try to post some pictures soon!

I’m also squeezing in time for a new art gallery wall. I’m excited about it and hope to finish it in the next couple of weeks.

Hope you are well and enjoying the blessings of each day!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!




Happy Thanksgiving!!




Come ye thankful people, come! 

Monday, November 24, 2014

A Squishy Family


I walked into the girls’ bathroom yesterday and casually flipped on the light.


Instantly my eyes were drawn to this sight:



Is it obvious what they are?


Maybe not, unless you have little children who are fond of balloons. 

And water. 

And water-filled balloons.

And Sharpie pens.



From left to right, they are:

Squeezey, Squirt, Squishy, and Strawberry.


Aren’t they delightful?!

Although they are limited in where they can be played with – since they tend to leak no matter how tightly they are tied – this little “family” has already provided hours of enjoyment and fun to my little family.

They have been well loved. 

And often squeezed.


And even though their time with us is most likely going to be brief, since water-filled balloons do not last forever, the time they have here will not be lacking in fun and frivolity.  Fond memories are being made.

They are also a sweet reminder of the “real” friends and loved ones we love to be with, and with whom we are making fond memories day after day.  The ones we are thankful for every day, and especially this week when we are celebrating our blessings with special Thanksgiving.


And I think it’s true…

we all need a little bit of “squish” now and then, don’t we?

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Post Art Exhibit Wrap Up


What a weekend! 

It was more than any of us expected. 

Friday night was the most crowded night, with people practically shoulder to shoulder for the first two hours.  There was someone playing an old black upright piano throughout the night, there was punch and a table filled with delectable appetizers, and there was art. 

Beautiful, colorful, diverse, glorious art.

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Kate and her friend Laurabeth were thoughtfully placed together (most likely by the art show director who realized they were friends).  They were both happy about that, chatting and drawing throughout the evening, as well as walking around a little to look at the other artwork.


Well, that is when they weren’t being asked alot of questions by other artists and patrons.  (Kate did turn her chair around so people could see the portrait she was working on.)

Because it was Kate’s first year as an exhibitor, she was allowed two portraits to be hung. 

“The Russian Girl” was on the wall to the left as you entered the exhibit. 

She looked beautiful.


She drew a good deal of attention, and since Glenn and I spent most of our time walking around, trying to give Kate some space, we were able to see how many people stopped to admire her.  Throughout the evening, I saw small groups of people going into the room where the girls were sitting, and many times I heard, “Only 14!!”, exclaimed, as they came out or were walking around. 

Laurabeth’s beautiful zentangle cards were in great demand –  they sold like hotcakes.


Amazing, aren’t they?!

I loved her beautiful zentangle vase.  It was incredible!



The first two hours of the exhibit were for the sponsors only.  These are patrons who have pledged a dollar amount and their intent to purchase something at the show.  Although they may certainly buy as much as they want, they are given a red card which they can give to the artist of their choice, with the words “Purchase Award” on either the artwork or at the artist’s display table.  Kate received two awards! 

One was given by the patron who bought “the Little Dreamer”





and the other was for “the Russian Girl”. 


We were so excited for Kate! 


Glenn and I were able to talk with many artists and patrons throughout the weekend.  We learned a great deal about all different kinds of art, and we also realized more fully that Kate does indeed have a unique gift.

It was one thing when we looked at her drawings at home, and they would make the breath catch in our throats.  But it was quite another thing when artists and art teachers were telling us that they can’t draw people the way she can.  That she has a unique ability not only to draw proportions and details accurately, but that she captures something of the spirit, or “essence”, of the subject in her portrait.  Something which they said just can’t be taught.



By the end of the weekend, I think we all felt a little overwhelmed. 

Inspired and encouraged to be part of something which promotes beauty and creativity, in a way that crosses the boundaries of time.  Warmed by good conversations and engaged by excited artists eager to share their gifts.

One slightly older gentlemen who told Glenn and me he has been an artist all his life, and draws and is active in the art world, said that in his wildest dreams, he will never be able to draw like Kate does.  And he said it makes him mad that she is only 14!  :)  Another artist told Kate her work is already on a professional level, and yet another art teacher told Kate that she could pick the art school she wanted to attend. That if she gathered up her portraits and took them to the art school, they would accept her immediately.  And so many more gave her words of encouragement and approval and told her to “trust her instincts.”

The older gentleman talked to us for quite a while.  He talked about how after WWII, the appreciation of beautiful art – which had always been considered “Good” art, was turned upside down.  And that “perversion, brain junk, and ugliness” became “Good” art.  He named a couple of artists, whose names I forget right now, which led the way in this trend.  And he talked about how art schools have followed this trend, essentially not teaching that what is beautiful is “Good”.   He said what Art needs is artists like Kate.  Artists who will be exposed to “bad” art, yet have the strength to not follow along in the trend which has prevailed.  But instead, to continue to pursue and create beauty in their art, and turn the tide in the art world so that once again, what is beautiful, is good.

It was a vision for the future. 


Kate was interviewed by a journalist from the paper that night.  After several questions, he asked if there was anything else she would like to say. 

She paused.  Then she said, “I know that any ability to draw I have is a gift from God.  I want to do my best to always draw in a way that will bring glory to Him.”


By the end of the weekend, Kate had sold 3 of her portraits, and another was bought by the library for their own art collection!   They said they had a small budget allowed and so many people loved Kate’s work, they decided to buy one for themselves while they could still afford her.  She was invited to participate in another art exhibit next April at a Plainfield gallery, her business cards and flyers disappeared, and especially exciting was the offer by a famous Indiana painter, Rena Brouwer, to display both Kate’s and Laurabeth’s work in her art gallery in Delphi.  Ms. Brouwer wants Kate to do a demonstration in December, and she plans to promote the girls and their art.  She is sending a contract for Kate to sign.

And what about “Chelsea”? 


In the end, Kate couldn’t bring herself to part with her. 

She will stay with us.