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Elsie and Jean, Side by Side

Before John and I bought our first home, we lived in several different apartments, moving around every year or so and getting a feeling of how we wanted to live. One of our favorite homes was a flat in South St Louis. It was easy walking distance to my parent's home, and I could visit my Mom most mornings. 

We really liked our home on Fillmore St. It had two bedrooms, so there was plenty of space to start our family. We lived on the first floor. Upstairs lived a very sweet couple of senior women, Elsie and Jean. They were very good friends for many years, and when their husbands passed away they decided to live together. Aside from the traditional front and back entrances, our flat had a side entrance. It provided access from both of our apartments to the outside and the basement for storage and laundry. As we got to know each other, we left the side doors open so that we could visit and help each other out.

Their flat was filled with all of the collections that represented women of their era. They had beautiful carved Old World style furniture with embroidered linens draped over the arm rests, backs of chairs and all polished wood surfaces. In the front room they displayed an enormous collection of Hummel figurines. To this day, if I see one, I think of the two of them.

The ladies wore pretty print dresses with hats. In the spring they wore hand knit shawls and in the winter, long coats.They started every day walking several blocks to early morning mass. They cooked lightly and served everything on the delicate china they both had collected. Elsie and Jean had a fondness for baked goods so many of their daily outtings were to local bakeries. They were charming, sharing stories of their own young lives. We liked them very much.

I only knew them for a short time. Elsie passed away on a winter morning.  It was cold out for walking, but she would not consider missing daily mass. Just a little while after she returned she died. Jean was beside herself with grief, and could not continue to live in the flat without Elsie. It was very sad not to have them upstairs any longer. 

I made the above painting from a photo one of my friends shared with me. The photo triggered the memory, as the two women in the picture so much reminded me of Elsie and Jean. I had not thought of them in many years - but a flood of memory returned as I made my painting. And how perfect to make them into a birthday card tribute to such a friendship! 

 My best memories always include you!

                                                                     Happy Birthday



Little Wonder Woman

I took a beautiful photograph of my niece, Rebecca many years ago. We were was getting ready for her 3rd birthday party. She was so excited, busy overseeing all the party preprations and anticipating an event about her. I thought she was just adorable in her wonder woman underwear and sponge curlers. When I decided last year to begin adding some younger women into my card line, I simply fell in love with this photo again.

I'm so happy she granted me permission to use the image in one of my greeting cards. She is an awesome adult - educator, wife and mother with her own little wonder woman (and son!)

Little Wonder Woman is a perfect encouragement card for any woman, young or old.

Find this card at retailers who stock my greeting cards, or in my shop




Fruit Strudel with Peaches and Cherries

 In the picture above is a recipe for Chop Chop steak that my mother-in-law used to make in an electric skillet. It is really very good, and even with out the San Francisco style Rice-a-Roni no longer available, long grain wild rice substitues nicely. On the right is my family's recipe for Hot Tamales. I can only slightly remember them at one of my uncle's homes. My mom had the recipe written down on the folded sheet above and then I copied it for myself 20 years ago. Making hot tamales is an all day affair requiring many tamale makers. It's a party that begins in the morning while assembling them, an all day simmer in a giant canning pot, and at the end of the party - serve tamales! 

My recipe cards are varied in style and shape. Some are worn from many uses. Some I inherited from my mother and mother-in-law, and even though I don't make all of them, I simply can't bare to toss any. Each recipe is hand written by my mother, a girlfriend or one of my grandmothers. When digging through them to search out a certain recipe, I often get caught up in the nostalgia of the whole thing - remembering what the food tasted like or a party it might have been served at. I can't imagine not having these memories tucked away in my kitchen drawer.

My mother-in-law, Jane made this cookbook for me. They were all of her family's favorite recipes. She typed them on her IBM electronic type writer. She placed a strip of linen tape on the pages so they wouldn't tear and then punched the holes for the ring binder. That's a lot of effort to make such a pretty recipe binder. All of her recipes that my husband loved are in this book! 

I have the book open to one of her Go-To desserts that became one of mine. It's fast to assemble and you can use just about any available fruit. Since I had peaches and cherries available that's what I used.

Arrange pitted cherries cut in half with sliced and peeled peaches in a butter 7 x 11 inch pan.

Mix the batter (recipe provided) and spread over the top of the fruit with a spatula. It's very thick so I usually drop small dollops of batter over the surface and then use the spatula to spread it out.

There it is, ready for the oven! Bake at 350o for 45 to 50 minutes until lightly brown.

Cool and then cut into squares. Serve upside down! Isn't that pretty? It's a great fruit cake served warm from the oven with ice cream!

In case you couldn't read Jane's recipe, here is one printed on one of my new recipe cards!
Feel free to copy and print this

Just in time for the holidays I now have a collection of 5 different recipe cards. All of them can be purchased in my shop. Here's an easy link to the recipe cards 

My family's favorite version of Fruit Strudel is with apples, in season right now, with cinnamon, sugar and nuts sprinkled over them. Served warm from the oven with a scoop of vanilla on top.  I think it's a perfect autumn dessert! Hope you enjoy Jane's fruit strudel recipe. 



Quilted Women series

I am just beside myself with pleasure over these new greeting cards. I've been working on this series of paintings for a very long time. I spent a lot of time thinking about how I wanted to present women in an artful and joyful way. Actually I made lots of written notes with my early sketches. Women as icon was writen on the first joural sketch. So many cultures have celebrated women in iconic styles that everyone is familiar with them: 

  • Goddess in flowing Grecian gowns
  • Native American women wrapped in tribal blankets
  • Japanese women in beautifully embroidered robes
  • Gustav Klimt's exquisitely patterend Venetian women in his paintings

 All of these images represent a reverence for women through culture, and give the artist an opportunity to create beautiful design in the garment.  I truely believe you must paint what you know and therefore I needed to make more a contemporary presentation. If you read my blog or follow my art, its pretty clear hown much I love color and pattern. Because I have quilted a little bit, I am always happy to cut patterns up and reassemble them. I do it with my paintings all the time, always thinking the reassembly is exactly like making a quilt. 



The quilts from my family are assemblages that represent the women who made them. They have bits of older dresses, or beautifully embroidered squares incorporated into them They are made with care and love of fabric, and they are a pleasure to hold. I just can't imagine how anyone could not feel the love and connection to the quilter when presented with one of these beautiful treasures.  I wrote about them in one of my first blog entries when I began my series series Women I Might Have Known here 


Once I was certain I would be using the quilt, I had an image in mind right away. One of my favorite "quilt" books I have read is How to Make An American Quilt by Whitney Otto. It is about the quilters who assemble to make a wedding quilt. I remembered the young bride walked in the early morning wrapped in the finished quilt, enveloped in the love and comfort of others. It was an image that returned to me when I started the sketches in my journal. 

There are many more images of women seeking comfort, warmth, and protection that came to mind and filled my sketch books. All of them featuring interesting patterns and layers of color. I made lots of petite paintings from these ideas. LOTS OF THEM! I made bigger paintings and picked 5 of my favorites to feature as greeting cards.

And here they are, girlfriends! TA DA!

I hope you enjoy them as much as I did making them. 

They are all 5 in my shop right now where you can order them. 




Butterflies, a tutorial 

I used to write a painting blog, The SMALL Art Project, but I have found that it is too hard to have multiple places I post art. So over time I'll be incorporating a lot of the previous entries into this blog and the will be found in my blog roll under ART TUTORIALS. I really enjoy sharing my painting process. Always at the end of my tutorials are a list of discoveries.


What do you do with paintings gone bad? I am an advocate of cutting things up, and in this case, I think the project is so much fun that you might be inspired to make a painting TO cut up!

My painting started out on 90 pound cold press watercolor paper. It was a painting of poppies. I was so terribly disappointed in the painting I decided to just have a bit of fun with it. I added more watercolor and acrylic in bright colors. I painted swirls,  dots, and stamped small images across the surface making sure everything was covered. Don't forget paints like Lumiere or other beautiful metallics to add rich layering and a light catching elements.  I turned the painting over and cut it into squares about 3x3 inches square with my straight edge. I always do this from the back to ensure the randomness of my final image.

Aren't these pretty! I flipped all of my images over. I think you can see a few of the poppies. I was still thinking I might reassemble this painting into a collage however, I'd been thinking about butterflies.

I drew only half of a great butterfly, and cut it from fairly stiff card stock. Although I like to work from the back so that I am surprised by my results and I can see my pencil lines better, I've done this from the front to help you see the method. One side of the butterfly is outlined. Flip it over lining up the end points from the first drawing and outline the other half of the butterfly. Cut your butterfly out. Bend the wings up along the length of each side of the body.

Don't throw the scraps away because there is always a new perfect something to use them for!

I've popped stacks of butterflies and glue dots into envelopes and mailed them to friends for celebrations. I've covered gift boxes with them. I pasted them all over the walls in my studio to help think of Spring. And I would love to see  your butterflies.

  • Discovery:
  • No painting is a waste. And no art supply is a waste.
  • Tiny images in mass can be really beautiful art
  • "Everything looks better with Lumiere. "quote from my sister, fiber artist, Nancy Shriber




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