The La Maison Boheme 2018 Holiday Gift Guide

The La Maison Boheme Holiday gift guide is here! I’m doing things a little differently this year. I’ve dedicated the 2018 gift list to homesteaders and rural folks! Why? Because I’m living in a remote and woodsy part of Eastern Oregon now and my focus has shifted. Here are my top ten gifts for the people in your life who live rurally and have lots of contact with nature and the changing seasons.

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ONE

Phoebe Wahl’s fabulous moon calendar for 2019. Its always so wonderful to know what moon cycle you’re in! You can purchase one HERE.

TWO

For your rural friend braving the ice and sleet this time of year, there is nothing better (or safer on the ice) than a pair of Yak Trax. Seriously. These are life savers when you’ve got to work outside on the ice. They’re available from all sorts of sources - just do a quick internet search for Yak Trax and lots of purchase options will pop up.

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THREE

Whether they’re making a home brewed ale or brewing Kombucha, your homesteading friend will love a set of clean fresh brew bottles! Purchase them HERE.

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FOUR

For your gardening friends, they love these sweet seed savers envelopes from the Taproot Magazine shop. Purchase them HERE.

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FIVE

A dear friend of mine gave me this Excalibur Electric Food Dehydrator this year and it is a fabulous addition to my kitchen. This summer I dried pears, apples, peaches, and apricots. You can get one HERE.

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SIX

Wendel Berry’s “The Mad Farmer Poems” is a beautiful collection of poetry, perfect for the homesteader who needs a little fireside reading material for the long, icy winter ahead.

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SEVEN

I bought this wood ring for myself last winter and I just love it. Its beautiful to look at and holds a lot of wood. We’ve got it on our front porch under the awning so on cold mornings we can bring wood right into the house without slogging through the snow to our wood shed. Buy is HERE.

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EIGHT

This linen apron is so beautiful that I’d wear it on the town. (Of course my town is a tiny one-street wonder, consisting of one-grocery, one-bank, and 280 citizens. So maybe no one would find it all that strange if I wore it on the town). You can get this apron HERE at Not Perfect Linen.

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NINE

Folks who are living off the land usually don’t make their own chocolate. Tomatoes and organic greens are pretty easy to come by, but if you’re living above the equator, cacao beans are a bit tougher to grow. My sister-in-law bought this Classic Hot Chocolate for me last Christmas and it has since been my family’s absolute favorite. This chocolate isn’t powdered. It’s shaved. We like to sprinkle it on top of coffee drinks and ice cream as well!

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TEN

You all know that I'm an incense lover. And I am always on the hunt for warm, woodsy, earthy scents. This scent is one of my old favorites. It's a beautiful blend and it's the right price for gift giving. And personally, I think its perfect regardless of gender. It's called Woodstock from the West Third Brand Modern Apothecary. It has classic incense notes of sandalwood, patchouli, cedar, coumarin, musk, benzoin, olibanum with hints of vanilla. Its a dreamy, heady, perfect winter scent. Find it HERE.

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Giving Thanks

Oh dear readers! I have been away from the blog for SO long. I’ll tell you why in another post, but I had to dip in to say hello and a very happy Thanksgiving holiday to you and yours. I hope today brings nourishment, community, and peace to your world.

  Love Language , 10 x 20 inch acrylic on canvas.

Love Language, 10 x 20 inch acrylic on canvas.

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Storytelling and Coalition Building - Statera's National Conference is HERE!

Goodness, its been a while since I posted. There is a very good reason, though! I am the Creative Director for Statera, a non-profit dedicated to gender equity in the arts, and we are hosting a HUGE conference in Milwaukee this weekend. And as you might guess, I have been a busy girl.

If you’re interested in knowing more about the Statera Foundation National Conference, you can head over to our WEBSITE and check it out! We have an astonishing line up of speakers as well and two incredible performances. I’ll be back after the 9th of October to resume usual art and design content. But until then, I’m off to smash the patriarchy through storytelling and coalition building with other artists! Wish me luck!

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Singing at Pine Fest

Here in Halfway, OR we have an annual music festival called Pine Fest. Its a two-day celebration in September featuring music from all over the region. In between the big acts, local musicians take the stage for short 20 minute sets. My husband and I joined our neighbor, Curt, for a 6 song set that included some Joni Mitchell, Tom Petty, Indigo Girls, Bonnie Raitt, and The Beatles.

It was a blast playing with my partner for our sweet little community. The audience was very appreciative and said all sorts of nice things afterwards, which made me feel like a million bucks. The takeaway from this whole weekend is that my partner and I want to keep playing together - just for fun. Just for us.

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Late Summer Snap Shots

Summer is ending here in the Pacific Northwest and the early hints of Autumn are tapping at the window. Cooler mornings, yellow-tipped trees, corn and peaches everywhere I look. And the telltale sign that summer is over? My kiddos are back in school. If I could write an ode to free mornings without kids, I would.

My kitchen is overflowing with amazing local, organic produce. We are swimming in goodness - mostly gifts of food from neighbors and friends. And because of this bounty, everything in my kitchen seems to be in a state of light decay, screaming "Do something with me right now!!"

I have spent hours upon hours in the kitchen this month canning and freezing food for the winter. And you know what? I love it! I get downright giddy when I see all those beautiful jars of peach butter and apple and pear sauces tucked away in my basement cold storage. My freezer is full of pitted apricots, cherries, peaches, and more. I'm so grateful. 

Today I walked around my home with a camera. I wanted to capture a few snapshots of our house when it is not perfectly tidy but rather when it's in a state of use. This is when I find my home to be most beautiful - pillows squished beneath the weight of resting bodies, countertops covered with projects, tea jars sitting in the sun. Today, I give gratitude for a full pantry, the changing season, and the home that shelters my dreams. 

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What is inspiring you lately?

I've been finding all sorts of inspiration in the most unlikely places this month. I've included a bevy of images below, all of which have been cut out, or saved in my inspiration file. What will I use them for? I'm not sure. They may make their way into my writing, onto a painting, or into a conversation. What is inspiring YOU lately? I want to hear all about it. (Leave a comment!)

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  THIS  dining room.

THIS dining room.

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  THIS  kitchen

THIS kitchen

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 This painting by  Hester Berry

This painting by Hester Berry

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Video Tour of the New Studio

I created a video tour of my new art studio for my supporters on Patreon, but I thought I'd share it with you today as well! This space has been months in the making. And while there is more to do (trim work, painting the floor, etc.) I am all moved in! 

This studio truly has everything I need. The best part is that it completely adheres to the manner in which I work. I think, as women especially, we are taught to take up as little space as possible - and to have a room of my own encourages me to spread out, get messy, experiment, work multilaterally, and take up space!

I hope you enjoy the tour. And if you're interested in supporting my work in a more structured way, I encourage you to visit me at Patreon. A small monthly pledge connects you to the art-making process in a visceral way. If you are moved by my work and want to participate in its creation, then consider this your invitation. I'd love for you to join me.  

Featured Artist | Hillery Lay

I had the pleasure of viewing some of Hillery Lay's paintings in person last month during The Little Big Show in Baker City. Hillery is an artist based in Eastern Oregon (my new home) who describes her work as 'contemporary rural painting'. The collage-like, pop-art, color-block quality of her work is so unique. Her colors are always bright - neon even - with washes of gold uniting the heart of each piece. I'm riveted. 

Hillery Lay uses her art to engage in a really beautiful dialogue with her surroundings and with the ups and downs of events that affect her immediate natural environment. I can't wait to see what she makes next! 

Want to know more? Take a look at her BLOG and follow her on INSTAGRAM.

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Harvest is Here

One of the beautiful aspects of moving to a rural place without restaurants, drive-thru coffee joints, and convenience stores is that we have to make all our own food. And now that its harvest season in our valley, I'm up to my ears in fruits and vegetables. I have been madly drying, canning, freezing and baking my way through the month. 

I'm a big apple butter fan, so when I came home with 40 pounds of peaches this past week, I looked into creating peach butter. Good Gawd! It's my new favorite. I've canned 24 pints of peach butter since the first of August using this recipe. I omitted the sugar because these peaches are so lovely, they need to be preserved as is. We can always add sugar later if we like. But I love the pure, slightly tart taste of the butter sans sugar. 

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The other thing about living so far from a good grocery store is that I cannot get a wide variety of breads. So, I've whole-heartedly thrown myself into the world of baking bread from scratch. My neighbor gave me a beautiful sourdough starter to work with. And another friend gave me the Tassajara Bread Book, by Edward Brown. This morning I made a Whole Wheat Sourdough Round using the Tassajara Bread Book. Isn't she a beauty? And it was so tasty!

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The Bath

Our new home has only one bathroom. Thank goodness its a pretty good size. We've already replaced the toilet (a must), and my Mama surprised me by doing a nice tile backsplash along the back of the sink. Its a sweet little space and I'm itching to paint it, or create a little no-money magic. Since I'm still not sure what I want to do, here are some inspiring bathroom photos to spur me along. 

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New Work for Choice Hotels

I have been working with Choice Hotels since 2015 on a series of coasters for their Cambria Suites & Hotel franchise. I create site-specific images for each of their unique hotels. There are four new hotels opening at the end of the summer, which means that I have four new coasters to share! Here's the latest: 

  Mount Pleasant, SC   |  Marina

Mount Pleasant, SC  |  Marina

  Omaha, NE   |  Downtown

Omaha, NE |  Downtown

  West Orange, NJ   |  Home of Thomas Edison

West Orange, NJ  |  Home of Thomas Edison

  Dallas, TX   |  Skyline

Dallas, TX  |  Skyline

Want to know more about this ongoing corporate project?

Check out THIS VIDEO.

Cottage Landscaping Inspiration

Now that my art studio is in place, my mind has wandered to landscaping the areas around the new structure. And as usual, I like to start with photos of spaces that speak to me. Lets get inspired! 

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The Little Big Show

The Little Big Show is an annual art show at the Short Term Gallery and numerous galleries throughout downtown Baker City that opens August 3rd and runs through the month of August featuring a multitude of local and regional artists.

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All works are 8 inches by 8 inches and are priced at $40 making The Little Big Show the perfect opportunity to discover and start collecting work by your favorite local Baker County and Northeast Oregon artists. I'll have 6 pieces in the show this year. Take a look:

 

 

 

New Work from the Studio

A few weeks ago, the owner of the local bakery here in Halfway, OR asked if I'd like to hang some of my work in her shop! Um... YES! 

They are now happily installed on the walls of Dry Creek Bakery, overseeing the daily coffee and maple bar trade. They are also for sale in my online shop. Enjoy browsing!

  Chosen Family   |  12 x 12 inch acrylic on canvas

Chosen Family  |  12 x 12 inch acrylic on canvas

  The World is Wide   |  12 x 12 inch acrylic on canvas

The World is Wide  |  12 x 12 inch acrylic on canvas

  Shy   |  3 x 12 inch acrylic on canvas

Shy |  3 x 12 inch acrylic on canvas

  The Blue Hat   |  12 x 12 inch acrylic on canvas

The Blue Hat |  12 x 12 inch acrylic on canvas

  Chosen Family   |  12 x 12 inch acrylic on canvas

Chosen Family |  12 x 12 inch acrylic on canvas

 

 

 

Featured Artist | Mary Davies Kerns

Today I had the supreme pleasure of meeting artist Mary Davies Kerns! She has three pieces hanging in an art exhibit called "The Wild is Calling". Its currently running at the National Oregon Trail Interpretive Center in Baker City, OR. (I have two pieces in that show as well.)

Mary grew up in Haines, OR and her work centers on the desert and ranch landscapes which make up that part of the country.  Her work is both pastoral and abstract, comfortable and unsettling. Seeing her pieces in person today knocked my socks off. Maybe it's her dynamic use of underpainting, her choice of pure saturated colors and dark shadowy contrast, or the confidence of her brush strokes - or are they palette knife? Whatever "it" is, I couldn't help but feel lifted and happy in the presence of her work.

If you don't already, you must follow her on Instagram - of course for her paintings but also for her lovely photos of eastern Oregon and western Idaho. She has a large body of work, but here are some of my favorite pieces:

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White Walls in the New Art Studio

Progress! I have now successfully painted two coats of KILZ on my new studio walls. I love the white. Its pretty traditional for an art studio and in this case, it makes the space feel brighter, lighter, and bigger. 

I still need to trim the windows, install switch plates on the outlets, and paint the floor and ceiling. But since I probably won't get to those things for a month or so, I'm hanging some decorations and getting cozy. Here are some recent shots of the space! 

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First Artworks From the New Studio

My new art studio is far from finished, but I've moved in and started painting anyway. Last weekend, my Mama and her amazing husband finished insulating the shed and installed the OSB board walls. My next job is to caulk the joins, paint the walls and trim the windows and doorways! 

As soon as the walls were up, I got to work on a new series depicting some of the wild rivers and waterways that surround my new home in Eastern Oregon. They are currently on display at the U.S. Bank in Baker City, Oregon from now until January 2019. 

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"I would love to live like a river flows, carried by the surprise of its own unfolding." - John O'Donohue

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My river series will be on display at the U.S. Bank, 2000 Main Street, Baker City, OR 97814 from now until January 2019. If you're in the area, stop by and take a look!

Savoring Summer

The past two weeks have been filled with friends, fresh food, and lots of beautiful weather. And most of my days have been spend outside. Whether I'm on the porch, taking a walk, tending the garden, sitting around a bonfire, working in my neighbor's orchard, or visiting my Mama's place - I am savoring my summer by getting out of the house. Here are some of my favorite photos from the past two weeks:

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Slowing Down is Hard

 Above: Working as part of a planting team in my neighbor's help field. 

Above: Working as part of a planting team in my neighbor's help field. 

Slowing down is hard.

When I was young, I was taught that doing something fast meant that I was successful. The more I did and the faster I did it, the more I was praised. I learned quickly that overachieving on a deadline was GOOD. And I also learned that anything done slowly was BAD. That doing something slow was not worth doing. Slow meant "lazy and unfocused". 

I've been living in my new home for 6 months. December 13, 2017 marked my first full day in the new house. At that time, I thought I'd have my art studio up and running in a matter of weeks. I thought I'd have a final draft of my new play done by February. I thought I'd have a million and one things done by June. Things have gone differently than I had planned. 

I see now that my expectations were... in a word... silly. The purpose of this move was to slow down and to discover my real pace. I knew I needed to slow down, but I didn't know how to do it.

 

How do you interrupt a lifetime of FAST habit energy?

 

"Frenetic, yet productive" was my norm in the big city. And it was normal because everyone around me had embraced the same fast pace as "normal". Out here in rural Eastern Oregon, things move slowly. I moved my family here to partake of this slower pace and the peace I imagined it would bring.

The journey of the past six months can be encapsulated in one sentence: Allow the natural pace of your environment to inform your own pace. Eastern Oregon is working on me. I've resisted and allowed my inner editor to hurl accusations: "You lazy idiot. Why aren't you working? You're missing opportunities left and right! How will you stay afloat if you're not making money every moment?" But the natural pace of this serene place is stronger than my old habits. SLOW is chipping away at the walls. SLOW has opened the windows and invited a breeze. SLOW has turned on the taps and allowed cool water to flow. 

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I don't have a final draft of my new play. I don't have a completed art studio. Which means I don't have completed art pieces. I haven't met commission deadlines. I haven't delivered the goods. What I DO have is peace. Peace doesn't put food on the table or pay my electricity bill, but it does allow me to feel whole and to express gratitude.

SLOW is helping me to come home to myself in a way I never considered possible. SLOW is allowing me to say no to opportunities in exchange for time - that most precious commodity. SLOW is allowing me to help my neighbors. SLOW is allowing me to learn the patterns of local birds. SLOW is allowing me to notice my inner yearnings. And most important of all -  SLOW is allowing me to prime the pump of my own creativity. 

Even in the face of my own internal resistance, I can feel the shift. By embracing SLOW, I am investing not only in the quality of my day-to-day life, but also in the quality of my creative work. SLOW is ultimately allowing me to be more connected to the work I produce. The work is not yet ready for an audience, but I can already feel that the work is of higher quality than that which came before. 

Perhaps that is a the real lesson here. Embracing SLOW will actually help me to achieve MORE in the end. 

 Above: The Powder River near my home in Eastern Oregon. 

Above: The Powder River near my home in Eastern Oregon.