The past few weeks I’ve been preparing for the new show series “Inspired by Natalie” vlog, uploading my painting videos to YouTube (not done with that yet, still have many more to go- I added this owl video today), re-organizing my space, learning new video editing software, purchasing upgrades, etc. But finally, I got back to work today on the actual PAINTING part of what I do!
I’m finishing the holiday themed painting I started before Christmas and set aside when work was intruding too much on family time, baking treats, etc. Since the holiday break ended weeks ago, it was a bit hard to get myself motivated to finish that one, but this afternoon I managed to put myself into the cozy and sentimental holiday mood to work on it. Tomorrow should be the final session.
After that, I’ll be on track to resume work on the 2022 collection, beyond Christmas related art. WHEW! Having that leftover holiday painting sitting on my easel is a bit like leaving the Christmas tree out too long!
It feels good to be back to work and making progress in 2022. LOL! I had to edit this blog post because I typed 2021 everywhere that 2022 was supposed to go! Hopefully winter will go by fast and we’ll soon be in a more positive season (meaning that spiritually as well as weather). Tomorrow is the middle of the week. Let’s make it a good one!
This year I wanted to step things up and create a personal and special Christmas that includes things that I made myself. I’ll share those projects with you. Maybe these ideas would work for you sometime (not necessarily for Christmas, but whenever you need a more personal touch to your gift giving).
First, the hair accessories! I got a sewing machine recently and taught myself how to make scrunchies. First I made Christmas themed ones that they could wear to class before Christmas, but I was secretly practicing to make everyday fashion ones in their favorite colors as stocking stuffers.
They liked the ones when I combined two coordinating fabrics into one scrunchie. I was rather proud of that idea! The other handmade gifts are food related.
I used a mortar and pestle to crush candy canes. I rolled large marshmallows over them. This is a fun topping for warm beverages.
These are streusel coffee cake loaves, set on top of their presents. Can you see the Christmas tree imprint on the loaf on your right? There are different designs on each loaf.
I made one for myself as well, as I LOVE coffee cake. Mine had a bell imprint. I enjoyed this personal sized cake very, very much! It was a wonderful treat on Christmas afternoon when I was sleepy from a happy morning and ready for a break in the festivities.
The homemade Christmas gifts were well received and were such a joyful surprise that I will do more of this in the future. I’m happy that I pushed myself to learn new things and to work harder to live richer. I started baking my coffee cake loaves at 5:30AM on Christmas morning. It was worth it! I then made Christmas doughnuts and a big breakfast. And they want to make Christmas breakfast a tradition.
It is my wish for myself and for you, to push ourselves to give more of who we are. Learn new ways to share and love those around you. Believe that you can do special things, and you are a special soul. Be loved, be of love, and be free. Enjoy the rest of your holiday season. God bless you and keep you, this day and always.
One of the surprises I was most looking forward to being revealed, was a custom branding iron that I got for my husband. I collaborated with my oldest daughter who created the art I wanted for the logo. We decided that an osprey was a good choice, since he loves seeing ospreys fly over our yard, especially the time when we saw one catch a fish. So, we captured that in a logo and added “Wood Crafted by …..” his name. We worked with a Russian craftsman online to get this to come together. It was a very fun experience and special. I couldn’t wait for him to see this!
He does beautiful projects, like original musical instruments. See this dragon shaped violin he made for our youngest daughter.
I will show you more of his work in future blog posts. But this is enough to show you that he really needs to stamp his work with his own logo and name, as these pieces will be heirlooms and are very special to us, as he is special to us!
I hope that you too had Christmas surprises that are meaningful and joyful. I will share a few other things later. Enjoy your holiday break and make many wonderful memories!
You might remember this funny story I shared about a vagrant frog who took up residence in our garage, and my drum set? It was in blog post “LOL! What happened today“. The frog actually got more play time than I did. I finally got the chance to play my drums, but the intention was to only tap out a little rhythm. I was a bit too gleeful for the girls’ attempts to sing while standing right next to me (see the ending of this video especially). 🙂
Next, an update on our Secret Santa chef game. It was my oldest daughter’s turn and she made paninis. They were very good! We greatly enjoyed them and there were no leftovers.
Today’s clip (video at the top of the blog) is from the 45 minute Christmas Show 2021. If you’ve not yet seen the show, I hope you can make time for it. I also hope that you are enjoying lighthearted moments and are making good memories this holiday season. Christmas is now only four days away!
This was last year’s painting from Christmas Show 2020. Tomorrow I plan to launch Christmas Show 2021. This year, there are TWO featured paintings as well as a variety show format of other entertainment- singing, dancing, merriment and holiday sentiment. Please tune in tomorrow and share our special show. It is a longer show and I hope that you will enjoy it.
This has been a wonderful day. I’ll tell you all about it tomorrow. I’m sleepy and will soon go to bed. If you celebrate this holiday, I hope you had a joyous day. And even if today was a regular day for you, peace and good wishes to everyone.
This painting is of a peach pie, but today my firstborn daughter baked a pumpkin pie for tomorrow. I baked ahead the homemade macaroni and cheese. My youngest daughter made a green bean casserole. The two hot dishes will be on a heating & warming tray tomorrow. In the morning I’ll prepare and roast the turkey. We’ll have a flurry of activity in the kitchen when it’s time for making all of the other parts of the feast: stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, vegetables, yams (I don’t count them as vegetables and I won’t eat any, I don’t like yams) and heating the french bread my husband baked. My son will open a can of cranberry sauce and slice it. I won’t eat that stuff either, but he sure will.
I put matching turkey and harvest themed tablecloths on the tables, finished making festive potholders, and washed the pretty new holiday apron my daughter gave me. I’m ready! I’ll be up very early to finish thawing the turkey, going outside to cut the fresh parsley and rosemary to stuff the turkey, as well as a lemon, orange, onion, and apple. This is a new variation I’m trying, based on tips I found online. I like to try new ways to prepare the turkey. Every year it seems to be “the best turkey ever!”
I wish you all a happy day tomorrow, and those of you who celebrate this holiday, may you have a joyous Thanksgiving!
You might remember when I shared this painting in September, and now nearly two months have passed by. Autumn is going fast. Didn’t it feel like such as short time ago when summer ended? But here we are, and the holiday season is soon upon us.
My Christmas show is coming along. I hope that you will enjoy it and share it far and wide. We need as much joy as we can get! Well, that’s all for tonight. I had a busy Monday, did you? I’m tired. Good night, dear friends.
You might remember when I first shared this painting when I finished it in April? Here we are, five months later, and I’m guessing you are feeling a lot of the same emotions that I am. When spring came upon us, I felt hopeful that the change of seasons would bring positive developments along with the blooming trees and sunny skies. Then we slipped into summer, and my optimism waned. Now we are entering autumn. With fall leaves changing, soon we’ll be hibernating again in a deadened world of shorter days, longer darkness, bare trees, and the emotions that come with the reflections and reminiscing that ring in the holiday season.
I don’t have extended family who visits, nor do I visit anyone, but I enjoy the time I spend with my own little family (my husband and kids). I’ve shopped early this year and their presents are already stashed away, long before Christmas. I want to make sure that we can celebrate so brightly that our happiness and gratefulness outshines anything dark that may be upon us in December. I’m also investing in new baking projects and food ideas, party plans (even though it’s just us, we are a party!), and of course the big holiday show that I’ll be sharing with all of you. I want to encourage you to think ahead about how you want to spend your holiday season and prepare for it in a way that is bigger and brighter than you’ve ever done before, even if it’s just you alone.
I will be here with you, same as always. I am committed to blogging every day. So even if it seems that “no one” is around, someone always is. Stay strong, stay positive, and plan for happiness.
Inspired by my family… that’s me in the red and my husband across from me. Our son in the green, and our two girls nearest to you. Of course this doesn’t look like us exactly, and is out of proportion and perspective, but it captures the warmth and love I feel when I cook for my family. The candlesticks are inspired by real ones I have that were my parents. Dad brought them back from the war and Mom would save them for “good”, which means that she didn’t actually use them. Both my parents died young. I have decided never to save anything for good. Every day that I am alive is a good day.
I spent today cooking up a feast for my family. The plan was to cook up a variety of meats and then use those in different recipes. A full day of cooking and baking that will provide meals for the week ahead. So, I made three dishes from sausage: an egg, red pepper, and sausage scramble for eating inside warm tortillas, a baked pasta dish, and as topping on a homemade pizza. I made three dishes from ground beef: meatballs with egg noodles and gravy, a second topping for the pizza, and part of a second baked pasta dish. And so on. I made cookies also, thumbprint sugar cookies with jam baked in.
The pizza was absurd! It was so heavy because I crammed it with enough toppings to be a meal all by itself: fresh mushrooms, red bell pepper, chopped sweet onion, sliced red onion, sausage, seasoned ground beef, ham, bacon, pepperoni, fresh mushrooms, tomato sauce mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. All of that on a hefty thick homemade yeast crust.
Cooking in a large batch like this can save time and money because each single package of meat was stretched into three or more meals. I plan to start my next painting tomorrow and I won’t have to set aside time to cook. My kids often cook for themselves, but that ties up the kitchen and makes a lot of noise behind my head. My “studio” is just the back wall of the kitchen.
So, there are practical reasons to occasionally take a day for cooking multiple meals ahead, but… the best reason is that the day of cooking means that all of these meals are fresh from the oven at once, like a giant feast. When my family walked in the door after a long day, much of it spent in heavy rains, they were happy to walk into a kitchen bursting with food. They said it smelled like a pizzeria in here.
Holiday times are a wonderful escape. Feasting with family and friends can feel like nothing else matters, and the stress of our lives is far away. Every now and then an ordinary day comes along, and there’s no holiday in sight, and it’s too long to wait for a season that’s months in coming. Why wait for the right time? Why wait for permission, convention, or a date on the calendar? The only day that matters is today.