Hello there, my dear friends! Greetings to you from this very hot and steamy prairie! I hope you are well and having a wonderful summer holiday. Summer has found me, for the most part, home. And Im not wasting any time— I am thinking about Autumn, Christmas and Saint art! My big trio, my favorite things.
I recently finished this saint portrait— can you guess who she is? She’s rather obscure….but so meaningful to me! This latest painting is St.Audrey— or St Etheldreda as she’s also known– saint of Britain, princess, queen and abbess. She was a jewel of a woman! Audrey is also my oldest’s name, and so you know I love her…
St. Audrey (or Etheldreda) is not that well known now….although there’s an old Catholic Church in London called St Etheldreda’s that you can STILL visit! And the Cathedral of Ely is also special to the story of Audrey, as Ely is where she founded her own abbey.
To me, the name Audrey is so French…reminding me of the actress Audrey Tautou who played “Amelie” and of course the striking European beauty Audrey Hepburn, who was an icon of French style when adorned with the likes of Givenchy.
But no! Audrey is a very British saint and one I’m happy to add to my portrait gallery! The original is now listed in my etsy shop, and I hope to have prints soon.
But, that doesnt mean that my heart hasnt been entirely take up with a bit of France….(cue La Vie En Rose…)
These last few weeks (or years) have been rough in our national and global landscape. It makes my heart hurt and I am someone who wants to fix it all right now. But the things I can fix are very modest…I can donate money and time to worthy causes, but I’ve also learned I need to protect myself, and fill my ‘well’ with things that bring me joy and calm my spirits so that I can do the most good for my family, community and world.
One of my indulgences at the moment is…..c’est vrai….all things French! French books! French music! French food! Rick Steves trotting around France! It all brings me joy.
Two books I’ve really been enjoying lately are “Home Sweet Maison: The French Art of Making A Home” by Danielle Postel-Vinay and “In a French Kitchen” by Susan Herrman Loomis. I love learning about new places and different cultures, and I also love being home and eating food! So both these books have been wonderful reads. Postel-Vinay’s book goes into detail about why the French do what they do with each room in their house– beginning in the entry way which is like an intimate preview of the homeowner’s personality and private life.
Reading that they also enjoy filling the space not just with visuals but also scent, I’ve been inspired to have a luscious candle burning for no-good-reason, just to make my home smell nice and cozy and oh-so-french.
Herrman-Loomis’ book, “In A French Kitchen” is an absolute favorite of mine, going deep into the methods and traditions of cooks and food fanatics of France (and they all love their food!). Feeling total solidarity with all those French cooks out there working with dull knives and a weakness for bread. Moi aussi, girl, moi AUSSI.
“In a French Kitchen” also comes with lots of recipes of amazing french dishes, and I finally tried one that looked pretty easy, an old fashioned French comfort food called Matafan. This dish was so easy but so, so good. Basically, its like a cross between a pizza and a quiche. Flour and egg are mixed to create the ‘cake’, and this recipe has it topped with bacon and gruyere cheese. I paired it with a simple kale salad and everyone has loved it, even the snooty kids who prefer hot dogs to fine French cuisine. In the past week I’ve made this no less than three times– twice for us, and one to send home to my grandparents. Its quick and easy and I imagine there’s a million ways to make it so that its sweet or savory. A new favorite! Can’t wait to try more recipes from this book.
Delving into this book has gotten me more interested in cooking, which I admit I get uninspired to do in the summer. Its just so hot outside, the last thing I want to do is turn on the oven and make something hot.
But thanks to my backyard birdies, I have a lot of eggs that I need to do something with, and these recipes have me interested in trying new things. I also made a plum cake the other day since plums are in season…..sadly we wont have any peaches this year because of a late frost. But the plums are good, especially with homemade whipped cream. If you’re interested in the plum cake recipe, I’m planning on sharing it in my next newsletter, if you’d like to sign up!
My little chicken yard is just as entertaining as ever, and we’ve got a few babies that are growing up, the shared brood of two mama hens. This is Dolly, my Silkie hen and one of the babies– Im pretty sure she’s going to be a Polish Chicken and I am loving watching her little mohawk grow in! Since we dont have a rooster, whenever my girls get broody and want babies I go to the feed store and adopt them some babies. Last time our feed store had a variety of fluffy footed bantam babies (my favorites!!) but then this little one with an interesting poof on her little head. At first I thought that mean she was a silkie like my Dolly, but conferring with friends who are my ‘chicken experts’ we realized she’s a Polish…..and Im so delighted! I’m sure I’ll share more as she grows. But these chickens…provide me with endless entertainment with their play, their personalities, their livin’ the chicken life. And of course, they also provide me with lots of eggs, in all shapes and sizes, from tiny green ones (that’s from Queenie, the bantam Easter Egger) to large chocolate colored eggs (from Charlotte, the Cuckoo Maran)
Well, its time for me to get started on my day. After a little bit of a lull, I’ve decided to consolidate things and keep my blog and art updates in one place, this blog site. I hope you come visit me often! Cant wait to share all my new creations and little adventures with you.
Looking forward to chatting with you again,