Strawberry Mine!

See this oil painting of a strawberry flower come to life in 2 minutes (time lapse)

Guess what’s ready to eat already? I had the most delicious vibrant red fresh strawberry with a bit of whipped cream, MMMM! But you know what’s the most delicious of all? The fact that I get to keep my strawberry plant and enough of my garden that I’m not losing my garden after all! I sold about half of it and there’s still an abundance left for our family. The house we’re buying has a nice sized yard in back- plenty of space for gardening!

The strawberries seem to taste even better knowing that after such a long journey we will no longer be renting a temporary place, and even though this move was unexpected and not our choice of timing or process, we will soon be home! And I’m keeping my garden! 😀

P.S. If you remember the peach tree story, we are bringing that too! It will be challenging though, as it is now quite tall.


No Word Yet

Watch oil painting “Generational Tree” come alive in just over 2 minutes (time lapse)

Our weather here is now beautiful, after being cold or raining for quite a stretch. I’m feeling like my tree landscape oil painting above- clear skies, rooted in positivity. There’s hope that things will all work out.

No update yet on the pre-approval financing for us to buy a house, so we’ll have to wait until Monday. We’ve been busy today though, as this weekend is a community yard sale event and we are very motivated to participate! I’m attempting to sell most of my garden and outdoor swing, potting table, etc. I was doing container gardening so the plants are in portable/sell-able pots and grow bags. I don’t want to burden ourselves with moving too many plants. I hope my sale goes well!

We also have some other things- many other things, as it turns out- that we can sell to lighten the load which saves money, while also raising some cash to help pay for the cost of moving everything we decided to keep. The timing of the community sales event was perfect! It’s been a lot of work to throw it together, but I’m glad we’ve had the opportunity. Good vibes that people will come out in droves and shop! It’s a beautiful day in the forecast- why not spend it buying someone’s well loved garden?


Losses

See oil painting “Come to the Garden” come alive in 2 minutes (time lapse)

Well, we’ve made some progress on decision making after yesterday’s shocking news. Talking with a mortgage officer put some numbers into our heads. There’s good news and bad news. The good news is, after my husband graduates and starts his job, we should be able to qualify for the mortgage range we were hoping for and can start house hunting! The bad news is that we have to vacate this house in about two months and that’s not enough time for him to graduate at the end of this term, take his licensing exam, and start work. We’ll miss the move-out date by two or three months.

Qualifying for a mortgage ahead his job would require a lot of hoops that are discouraging, and would involve a co-signer, higher interest rate, and other disappointing factors. We’d also have to find a house we’d like to make a big commitment to very quickly, from the few homes that are randomly available during this short time frame. So, I highly doubt we will try to push a door open that really isn’t ready yet.

We’re now looking at rental listings. It’s depressing to see how much more money we’ll be spending per month than our current rent. It’s not fun at all to look at the photos and imagine living in yet another place that isn’t ours, is temporary, and where I don’t want to be.

And, my garden! I used portable grow pots and containers, but even so, I can’t move the entire garden to a new location. I have many vegetables and annuals growing in many, many pots. It would be insane to spend a lot of money and physical labor to take them all. And I doubt a homeowner or housing association would be happy with my many, many grow bags. As it is, I don’t want to let go of my potted peach tree, evergreen trees, blueberry bush, grape vines, roses, etc. that are perennials. They are investments in our future.

My trees and flowers will one day flourish at our future new home (assuming they can handle all the moving), and we’ll have a history with these plants; it won’t feel like we don’t have any connection or memories in our new space. So, I’m committed to those and it’s already too much heavy lifting and quite an investment in moving plants- I can’t bring my whole garden! I spent weeks growing the garden and now I won’t get to see it through to harvest. I’ll be having a plant sale to try to recoup some of my losses and fund some of the move. I’ll sell pepper plants, zucchini, eggplant, cucumber, green beans, peas, watermelon and more.

I thought I was helping my family avoid rising food costs and potential shortages, and boosting our nutrition, but it seems I just invested many hours only to invest more hours trying to sell these plants. Sometimes it feels like life beats me down whenever I start to see progress. But the truth is, I did enjoy planting the garden, even though it was work. It gave me a reason to be outside and get exercise. For part of that time, my daughter helped me and we spent good time together. On other occasions my family took my garden “tour” and we ID’d the plants by their seedlings. I did make memories doing this, and I’ve learned how to grow a large garden. I can do it again someday.

But not next season, because we’ll likely be moving again- to our own home! We’ll finally be home again after many years of transitional temporary living. “Temporary” turned out to be a semi-permanent condition. I’m a completely different person from who I was at the start of this. I prefer the new me.

I do wish we’d been able to stay here until next spring, instead of having to move again, but we will get through this. I don’t look forward to the move though, and I dread that first night in the next rental house, when I don’t feel like I’m home. Tossing and turning, smelling unfamiliar smells, possibly having asthma or allergy reactions, jumping at the strange sounds, and feeling disoriented about where things are in the dark- waking up throughout the night, remembering that I’m somewhere new, and wishing I wasn’t.

I will adjust eventually, and then adjust again when we move again. I’ve been through far worse than this. There were times when I wasn’t sure if we’d have any place to go. And there were times when I grieved so bad that I couldn’t imagine ever feeling that life would ever feel good again. Besides my past experiences, world events are incredibly dark and oppressive- my personal struggles are trivial in comparison. This is not a big crisis, and with the right attitude I’ll make the most of it. I will attack each day with positive energy, and even feel excited by the challenge. New adventures are good for us!

But right now, I’m tired from a long day. I’m sad I’m losing my vegetable garden, and other losses (things we can’t bring with us, more money spent on rent, deposit, the cost of moving twice, and more). I’m worried about how this will all come together, and how my family will adjust. Most of all, I just want to be home.

When things like this happen, even if the world is falling apart and others have worse problems, our struggles matter. Even if our past selves had bigger crises, this moment also matters. So I’ll give myself permission to feel disappointed with how things are going. On a happier note, I’m nearly finished with the dress I was making for the Easter show. I bought the basic layer and then built the dress up into an original creation- you’ll see! The show must go on. I’m looking forward to how the troubles of the day are forgotten while painting and singing.


Show Plans

See this 3 panel panoramic oil painting landscape for Easter Show 2020 come alive in 2 minutes

It’s that time of year again – I’m working on the new Easter Show 2022. The above painting was for my first holiday show, Easter 2020. Since then I’ve done several shows, including last year’s Easter Show 2021 (below):

This year’s Easter 2022 Show painting is planned, the songs are chosen, and I already have the start of my dress. I’m making the rest of it myself and I hope you’ll love it. I figured I better up my game and make one-of-a-kind gowns instead of missing an opportunity to be creative.

These holiday shows are separate from the new shows I plan to do on a regular (weekly is the plan) basis. Those have been temporarily postponed due a number of things that came up and bumped it off schedule. I will put it back on schedule as soon as I can. You might recall I mentioned an inspection I had to prepare for that came up without much notice, and I’ve been planting seeds indoors for my garden. I have limited space and need to use containers because I don’t own this property and can’t put anything into the ground. This makes for a good challenge, and I’m fine with that. Bring it on! I already have a lot of goodies sprouting. But, it is a lot of work to grow our own food and I have to fit it in quickly so I don’t miss the optimal window for our growing zone (8b). Anyway, I didn’t want you to think that the new vlog/green screen show I was talking about has been postponed indefinitely. It’s only on hold, especially since this has now merged with the Easter show prep.

If you’ve followed me for a while, you know that I say what I mean, do what I say. I will deliver the show I promised soon. Until then, new paintings as I finish them, and in a little over a month I’ll launch the Easter show. Busy times. It helps us escape the gloom and doom of this world when we focus on positive, productive, happy things. But I can’t always measure up, and some days I’m just in a nasty funk. Today was sort of like that. I got it together by the afternoon, partly because I was looking through our Easter song choices and it’s hard to stay sullen and resentful when seeing such beautiful lyrics of hope and promise.

Stay strong. God bless you and yours. Spring will be here soon! May the new season bring peaceful times for this dark world.


Hymn Medley

Natalie singing a hymn medley

The song from the oil painting video I shared yesterday in blog post “Planting Seeds” has been running through my head. So I decided to throw together a medley of the first line of a few hymns, ending with the song featured in my painting “Come to the Garden“. These hymns have been popularized by mainstream singers over the years, but they are also old church songs so they might bring back childhood memories if you attended church with your parents or grandparents.

If I look tired, it’s because I am. You might remember I mentioned an inspection I had to prepare for? I worked hard to prepare for it and we passed! But I’ll keep this short because it’s been another long day and I need to eat dinner. Happy Thursday and I hope you plan to enjoy your weekend ahead.


Planting Seeds

See oil painting “Come to the Garden” come alive in 2 minutes (time lapse)

I started planting seeds indoors to prepare for my new garden. So far, about half the seeds have already germinated and are now bright green seedlings! There’s such a feeling of hope when I see new plant life spring up from the dark soil. Today a vivid red cardinal was at the bird feeder, looking right at me while munching on a sunflower seed. He is my competition. It’s a good thing that my new seedlings are indoors because he has stolen some of my pea seedlings that are outside! So I hope he’s content with the sunflower seeds in the bird feeder. If his favorite seeds run out, he makes a nuisance of himself until I notice him. Then I go out and put more seeds in the feeder. He has me trained.

I hope you are looking forward to spring and can let go of the news of the day. Focus on simple things as often as you can. God bless and keep you strong, and your heart at peace, no matter how dark and chaotic the world is.


My Christmas Presents!

See 3 surprises in less than 30 seconds!

Sharing one of the presents from each family member of this theme: the nature that I love and share with you all here, through my oil paintings and stories. The above video shows the gifts my husband and oldest daughter gave me for my garden and the images below show the bird and butterfly related gifts from my younger two kids.

My son gave me this beautiful cardinal
It came with a very nice sentiment on the attached tag
And these special butterfly hair clips are from my youngest daughter

It feels good when the people we love understand who we are and what makes us happy. I loved receiving presents to help me enjoy my garden and beloved birds and nature. It is a Merry Christmas indeed! God’s world is a gift for everyone. JOY TO THE WORLD!


Feeding the Birds

Watch this sunflower painting come to life in 2 minutes

(time lapse)

As part of my new homesteading adventure, I have a vertical garden on the small patio, a salad bar of microgreens. Microgreens are tiny plants eaten at the young tender stage for very fast harvest. Not all plants are suitable for this, as some greens/vegetables are toxic at early stages, so it requires research or purchasing from a seed company that has great instructions. 

These fresh greens make a tasty salad and are more interesting than the typical mixed greens found in boxed salads, like sunflower seeds. Sunflowers grow quickly and can be harvested in just a few days. Small fresh shoots with a couple of green leaves on them make a hearty salad with a mild flavor. Unfortunately, we are in competition with the birds!

We’ve been feeding the birds sunflower seeds for the past few years. We have a large family of cardinals who seem to be raising five active, silly, and hungry offspring. They discovered the sunflower seeds in my vertical garden and they will pick the plants to get at the partial seeds that remain on the leaves. While the seeds are germinating, the planter is covered (it’s part of the growing process, but I realize that if I hadn’t covered them they’d have eaten ALL of the seeds!). But, after the plants start to grow it’s time to uncover the planters so that they will receive sunlight. Sometimes a few seed parts are still clinging to the emerging leaves, and there may also be a few seeds that hadn’t yet germinated.

So, I’ve been feeding the birds in both their regular feeder and in our vertical salad garden. This has been a bit vexing, and hilarious. They act “naughty” when they pluck the seedlings from my garden and they seem to know when I’m displeased. They’ve grown up in our patio space and are almost like pets. I can’t teach them not to eat the food from our table though! That’s why I won’t be ordering any more sunflower seeds for a while.

For the sunflowers that grew too fast for us to eat them, I’ve been collecting them and transplanting them into pots. If they grow to full maturity, they will be fun and decorative to look at. We might even get to harvest their seeds, but I doubt it. I think we’ll just be feeding the birds!

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BAD DAY

Well, there must have been a bad moon a’rising because today was a horrible day. The close on our house was cancelled, and then thankfully

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Happy Day!

Today we had the opportunity to bring the kids to the house we’ll be closing on. Until now, they’d only seen the pictures and video.

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Bandits!

These birds have been coming around and stealing our strawberries! What a disappointment! I was enjoying a fresh berry with Cool Whip as a snack

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Easy Going

This painting was a “free paint” project, in which there is no reference, plan, or agenda other than to let the paints flow. I start

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Update to “Downsizing our Dreams”

A bowl of peaches painting in 1 minute (time lapse)

I shared this peaches painting in the blog post “Downsizing our Dreams“, and also showed you photos of my new peach tree. The update: remember that there was only one peach on the tree, and I wasn’t sure if we’d actually be able to eat it? Well, that single peach stayed on the tree and turned from small and green to this gloriously beautiful reddish orange peachy peach! 

It was a bit under-ripe so it had the taste and crunch similar to an apple, but I didn’t want to risk not being able to try it at all (sometimes critters get into our garden before we have a chance to eat the food!). It was still very good, and amazingly fresh. The peach was so big that we all got to try it, plenty to go around. The texture was wonderful! I look forward to future harvests with our peach tree… hoping for more than one peach next year!

If you remember the blog post, the peach tree is also a spiritual metaphor for starting a new chapter in our lives. This felt like a burst of encouragement, this solitary beautiful peach, that one day there will be a bowl full of peaches, just like my painting. When we take one day at a time, the days add up. Seasons change. We then find ourselves in a new place and it will feel like a long time ago that the peach tree was small.

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BAD DAY

Well, there must have been a bad moon a’rising because today was a horrible day. The close on our house was cancelled, and then thankfully

Read More »

2021, We’re all Grieving

You might remember when I talked about this painting before, from an artist perspective: Painting Nostalgia. This art has no video, and I’m relieved that it doesn’t. It was an emotional experience to paint this art of my parents’ wedding day. Both of my parents are deceased: one died young (age 37) and the other died older, but still too young. Both have been gone a long time.

We cannot choose if and when we’ll experience events that cause grief, but we can choose how we respond to it. The year 2021 has brought grief to all humankind worldwide. Grief doesn’t always come from the loss of a physical life, such as when a loved one dies. Sometimes we grieve the loss of the life we once had, as in the way that we used to live, and who we believed ourselves to be. We may not be that person any more and in a mental, emotional and spiritual sense, this is a death that the world is collectively grieving, whether aware of this or not.

When my dad died, people told me that he wouldn’t want me to be sad, he’d want me to be strong. He’d want me to go on with my life. And this was true, but the push for normalcy went too far and was dysfunctional. It was considered a badge of honor that I went to school as normal on the very day he died. He died at 2:00AM and I was on the school bus just hours later. Some of my students were shocked by this, and wondered if the rumor they’d heard that my father had passed away in the night wasn’t true. Why would I be in school if he had? Why, indeed.

 I didn’t cry at his memorial service. I made it through the whole excruciating experience, which is a story for another day. Fortunately and blessedly for me, I also had people in my life who were concerned about my robotic reaction to the passing of my father, and encouraged the opposite: talk about what happened. 

One of these occasions was when I was at a friend’s house and her study partner just happened to be there at the same time. My friend urged me to talk about Dad and I did, as an emotionless storyteller. But her study partner was full of emotion, so much so that he shed tears for me. This simple display of empathy touched my heart so deeply that I later asked my friend about her kind study partner.

My friend was delighted to play matchmaker and one thing led to another… that kind boy and I became high school sweethearts, and have been married for decades. The point of me sharing this is to illustrate how being open to reacting to grief in a healthy way can lead to something positive, perhaps so wonderful that it results in a permanent life change that will affect generations to come!

If I had remained closed and spiritually stubborn, I may have refused to answer my friend’s questions about my father- opting to say very little and change the subject. But questions were asked and I was open to answering them. That one simple decision led to everything that happened in my life, my husband’s life, and our children’s life since. Obviously without that moment, my children would not exist.

Now, I’m not going to promise you (or myself) that responding to 2021’s grief events in a positive, spiritually open way will impact generations to come, but it might. It will at least impact OUR lives for many years to come. What is your response to the changes that have come to you, to the changes in the world that you may not have expected or wanted? When our lives change, there is a grieving process- the bigger the change, the more profound the grief.

If you’ve been greatly impacted by 2021’s events that continue to unfold, how do you channel your fears, anxieties, and sorrow? Do you deny your situation, are you closed to it, are you walking around the best you can as if everything is normal? Or, are you open to hearing your own voice speaking the truth about what has happened?

We don’t have to rely on fate, serendipity or miracles to randomly drop into our lives, like an unexpected stranger appearing with our friend, who later becomes our spouse and parent to our children! No, we don’t have to rely on these rare events. We can manifest positive changes for ourselves, simply by choosing to be positive and strong. We can then act in ways to be that person: a strong and positive person.

Rather than abusing substances, feeding other types of addictions, or sliding into an apathetic, morose, state of inaction, we can channel our grief into positive actions. This past year I chose certain areas of my life that I had planned to develop but hadn’t committed to. I then committed to several projects and worked steadily to make these things happen. 

One of the things I did was build up my immune system by creating something productive to do outside, like starting the garden I’d talked about but hadn’t yet done. A garden would improve my nutrition, push me to get more exercise, and I’d get my fifteen minutes of sunlight as well. What held me back was that we are currently renting a small house with only a patio area for a yard. I kept some flowers, but no food. I had no room for that.

But the limitations I placed on myself are nonsense! With enough determination I can overcome this challenge and plant an impressive garden on a small footprint. I knew this all along, but the truth is that I didn’t WANT that type of garden. I wanted one like I used to have before we had to sell our house. I didn’t want this “new normal”.

When I got over my spiritual and emotional stubbornness, I researched my options and committed to the investment of grow bags with handles. I can move them around and can even move them to our new house when that day comes. There is no excuse for not starting a garden, unless of course the real reason for not doing it is something else. Laziness? Apathy? An undisciplined lifestyle? Not really committed to change?

I’ve blogged quite a lot about my thriving garden that brings me great joy, with its greenery, food, and habitat for beautiful birds. So if you’ve been following me for a while, you know how this story ends: my garden is a positive lifestyle change that continues to evolve. One thing led to another and I’ve learned how to make my own spices, compound butter, tea, daily microgreen salads (it’s like an outdoor salad bar!), and other happy homesteading goodness that I never knew existed.

That’s just one area of positive change, and I could talk about it for many more paragraphs. But I’ll stop here. I only wanted to give one example of something we can do to change our lives and channel our grief into something positive, that may evolve into ever widening circles of change… good change. Life is changing, whether we want it to or not. When we direct how we want that change to go, we can manifest blessings from grief.

Blog posts relating to my garden, and spiritual journey:

Downsizing our Dreams

I’ve Joined the Butterflies

Bunting is Real

Hummingbird Swing 

You’ll love the videos I took of the painting bunting, and especially the adorable hummingbird on the tiny swing! Nature is so funny, wonderful, and healing.

 

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