Category Archives: General

Authentic RedBarn Holiday Imperfections

“It is the heart always that sees before the head can see.”  -Thomas Carlyle-

Holiday hustle of gifts, music, decoration, creative adventures, family coming in the front door loaded down with presents, excited to stay the night.  Add in the amazing food that will be shared.   It’s tempting to paint the town red and live in the glory of Christmas all year-long.  Somewhere someone does that, don’t they?  The perfect Christmas!

No secret; the world is full with woe and friends I know well are fighting off sadness during this season of good cheer.   There is no ‘perfect Christmas celebration’ and it seems the best gift we can give each other is to acknowledge that.  Keep our hearts and heads open for whatever the days, and years, happen to bring our way and love one another through it all.

 My sister and I talked about just that topic last night on the phone.  I was stressing a little about recent visits with friends who find the holiday season to be a reminder of  ‘life not turning out how they wished it would have.’  She has faced down some hard situations and has had plenty of practice in learning how to  push onward.  I love how I can feel a big-sister story beginning to brew even before it comes into my ear.   One past year her husband(left in an orphanage at a young age) was moping and  expressing his disdain for any Christmas celebrating to be held in the home.    While she felt sympathetic, she also felt there was nothing to be gained by constantly reliving  the hurts of yesteryear and expecting all in the house to  do the same.  It was starting to look as if a sad sort of Christmas tradition had taken them over.   So what did she do?  When she had  heard enough she declared, “The kids and I are going out to buy a tree.  It’s up to you.  Should we set it in the corner of the living room or should we rent a hotel room and have our Christmas there?”   At moments like this I’m never sure what the moral of the story is.  Maybe we each must take our own.   I am sure that her big-sister lessons……. fill my heart with strength, give me  new perspective and always give me a chuckle!  Thanks, Sis!

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 Here’s where we eat!  I’ve been making gift baskets, mixing a new batch of potpourri and writing cards.  This is table # 2….table #1 looks worse.

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When they say “don’t believe everything you see on Facebook”…. believe that!  This caramel recipe turned out terrible and I completely wasted two hours of my time.  The cream cheese sugar cookies are really good though.  I’m thinking the cherry on top is as close as I’m going to get to serving fruitcake.  That makes who sad?

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I have a few spots decorated half way and it’s OK.  A little greenery around the leftover jars of Crab Apple jelly from the fall batch.  Not a bad look.

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And the angels appeared.  At my house one has a glued on wing, one is missing her wing  altogether and the other  surely must have something she could be sad about.   These girls have seen alot of years but somehow  keep showing up to smile and bless us through the season.

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Every container in this whole house seems to end up holding some sort of creative project leftover.  Do I clean them out or cover with a Christmas plate?   These 3 cute little monkeys are coming to visit…..and bringing the fun with them.

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Who put all of that stuff on top of the refrigerator?  Planning to read the new book my friend Liz is talking about.  Something about making your life better by tidying up and ‘getting rid of’.   She might have to come and help me get started.  How do I toss the cool ‘Voyageur Brewing Company growler from the August trip to Grand Marais?   The red tea-pot that I love and never use? The old ceramic hen?

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The start to a holiday arrangement.  I can see the smile on the face of my granddaughter as she ran to hand me the found branch and knew I would love it.    We talked about adding more to the jar.   Today it feels quite complete just the way it is.

20151221_102103_resized Decorating the mantel and taking hold-steady-now greeting card worthy  shots for my card biz is way fun.   Another day.  In this little moment of ‘being RedBarn authentic’ it gives me great pleasure to reveal that I often must share this best place in the house to dry  gloves.

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Does setting an owl under the tree distract from the fact that I only have 4 gifts wrapped?  If you are between 9 and 11 and love nail polish you know I’ve started with you this year.

20151127_204019_resizedI’ve always loved high fashion.  I’m not even kidding.  We do have our dress-up look that mostly hangs in the closet and I suppose we could have taken something off of the hanger for the Christmas photo.  We didn’t.  And feeling well, kind of ‘authentic’ with the whole matching husband and wife photo.   A long and lingering fall(now that’s a perfect gift in Minnesota)gave us some  no-place-like-home evening bonfires and extra time to get the RedBarn acreage tidied up before real winter set in.   It’s here…brrr.

Best wishes from the RedBarn:  ‘May you have a perfectly imperfect Christmas season and may you find that you like it that way.  No hotel rooms, please!  May you  find the will to grab onto the moments of authentic happiness amongst whatever else comes your way.  Or, may you write your own story and fill it with the good you find.”   Merry Christmas-2015!!   BRB

An Ortonville Day-On-The-Town

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Beautiful, happy people enjoying the Ortonville uptown scene!

Dearest Lila,  I adore your Uncle Henry carving! So good to see you.  Wasn’t it great fun being uptown in Ortonville for the little summer festival?  Shiny vintage cars lining the main street, artists set up showing their talents, businesses inviting us in for special drinks, food treats and conversation.  And the music….  I’d follow that Lee Kanten anywhere if he keeps singing those hot summer tunes to me.  Excited to see the new Lingonberry pastry shop opening up soon, aren’t you?  What a nice event that Miss Katie at the Big Stone Lake Area Chamber and her team put together!  I need a new camera.  Hubby gave me camera money for Christmas and I spent it on something else.  He says I always do this…don’t tell.  I better run.  You and John have a great trip to Norway this fall.                 Your friend,   Becky

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Courtney snaps a fun photo for two of the adorable kids in town today.
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How can one resist a tempting treat from these lovelies?  Hi Becky, Love Becky:)
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Julie and Susie(longest tongue)looking pretty in uptown Ortonvile.
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  Look at those old guys laughing…hopefully not at the old girl taking the picture.
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The people, the visiting, the light-hearted laughter…..best part of any day!
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Live music on the street corner….nice touch, Ortonville!
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I’ve got this thing about taking photos of people taking photos.  Hi  Vicki!
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Oh my gosh.  Heavenly!  Thanks for the invitation to visit uptown Ortonville.  It was sweet!

A ‘Shabulous’ Visit

I’ve started my summer shop-hop of special places to visit( and shop) in my own western Minnesota region.   First stop; an artist date with friend Bonnie Kleindl in her ‘Shabulous‘ shop on main street of Graceville.  Up the road and  3 country-songs-on-the-radio  away from the RedBarn.    Bonnie and I enjoy so many of the same decorating looks.  If it falls under ‘upcycled, repurposed, or banged back together’ most likely we could agree to love it.  Toss in some color, purpose and beauty for good measure!  Dear Bonnie set out some of my latest amazingly scented ‘Hillside Orchard’ Soy Woodwick candles for   her customers to try.  She’s already put out the new scent for fall…Pumpkin Pecan Pie!  All in a great, old cupboard that some lucky farmstyle-lovin’ girl is going to snap up and cherish in her home.  I’ll give you a little photo tour and share just a few of the items you might find at Bonnie’s always changing Shabulous Shop!

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Bonnie look!  My sweetheart filled in the new-old chair that you gave me the really good deal on since the seat was missing.  My dish pan herb garden fits perfectly.
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Loving my new patriotic  sign.  Just in time for July 4th celebrating!

20150610_151213_resized_1So excited to snap some photos that I left my purse and boxes right in the picture.  See, anyone can do this:) The new large and bright metal flowers are on my list for next shopping trip.   Graceville is a friendly town and look who stopped by(below) to say ‘hi’.  Nikki(left) works next door in her beauty shop and Jill(right) owns the local flower shop. Special delivery for lucky Bonnie!

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Look Who Came For Breakfast

January takes a bad rap!  In truth, she brings exciting new adventures and beginnings each time she comes around the calendar.  I was reminded of that today as I was the lucky one to join this group of  beautiful  woman for breakfast at the Inadvertent Cafe in our great little town of Clinton, Minnesota.

Each one of us shared a bit of who we are and what is presently on our radar for hopes and dreams…..how we find contentment in a Minnesota winter….what we are creating….. and plans ahead for each of us.

Trust among old and new friends is something you can feel.  And it’s such a good feeling. We quizzed and questioned, shared ideas and resources, encouraged and made plans with one another.      Really, we had come together to talk about known common interest and we did get to that after our good food and splendid introductions.   Wool/natural fiber soap making,  yarns, the beauty in creating, wearing and using natural products.  I loved hearing about the animals and how they are cared for in a special way so they can ultimately share their renewable goods.  It’s an exciting conversation.

An opportunity to show support for hard-working, talented, people who are producing products to seriously desire.  Right here in Big Stone County of rural Minnesota  in January, no less!

Becky, Kathy K., Kathy D., Tessie S., Pam S., Marcella Rose.
Becky S., Kathy K., Kathy D., Tessie S., Pam S., Marcella Rose.

Kathy Krier is the owner of ‘Calvins Goat Milk Products'(FaceBook page).  As luck would have it, she is planning an open house on her farm operation this next Saturday,January 17th.  It’s going to be a great chance to see her farm operation and give her beautiful goat’s milk soap and lotion a try!

Can you believe I now own this amazing bowlful of soft, natural, beautiful ,handspun, Minnesota grown yarn?  I'm so excited about it and you guys, I don't even knit!
Can you believe I now own this amazing bowlful of soft, natural, beautiful, handspun, Minnesota grown yarn? I’m so excited about it and you guys, I don’t even knit!  Eddie looks happy about it too, although I know he wouldn’t leave a cap on.
Tessie has the gorgeous, handspun yarns for sale.  You can take a closer look on her website at www.arachneyarn.blogspot.com
Tessie has the gorgeous, handspun yarns for sale. You can take a closer look(ok, this photo is pretty close) on her website at www.arachneyarn.blogspot.com

Big Days At The RedBarn

It’s that time of year when the RedBarn gets spiffed up to welcome the Meander Artists and visitors from near and far!  A very happy first weekend of October ,full with beautiful offerings of hand-made art and happy-to-be-out-in-the-countryside visitors.   Going on year number eleven for hosting Meander in the RedBarn.  It’s a pleasure!  Rain or shine, snow forecast or heat wave the visitors to our Big Stone Lake Area find us and stream in with a smile.  We are ready at the RedBarn for the joyful days of Meander to begin once again!

Welcome to the RedBarn for Meander October 3rd, 4th and 5th.
Welcome to the RedBarn for Meander October 3rd, 4th and 5th.
A bit of pumpkin love.
A bit of pumpkin love.
Time for a photo by the old car?  Get inside and take a little spin?
Time for a photo by the old car? Get inside and take a little spin?
Sweet Colin and Charlie have been pressing cider.  Our lucky guests we be getting a hot cup of spiced cider as our treat this year!
Sweet Colin and Charlie have been pressing cider. Our lucky guests will be served a hot cup of spiced cider as a treat this year!
Autumn gets into your soul....if you let it.
Autumn gets into your soul….if you let it.

 

 

Apple Season Along Big Stone Lake

Love, love, love apple picking season at our old orchard tucked in along the shores of Big Stone Lake.  I’m saying, “It is ooooold in the life of an apple tree.”

My dad started planting apple trees as his retirement project in the late 1970’s.   Some guys simply don’t like that word…retirement.   Or possibly, they do like it so much that they become inspired to act on the thing  they have always wanted to do but could only find the will to dream.  Dad fell into that thought somewhere and proceeded to plant, tend, graft, experiment with, pick and love up on over 1000 apple trees during his 25 years of ‘retirement’.  Many of the trees have gone to wherever old apple trees go to retire.  Nearly 400  of the hardy,beautiful, loaded-with-apple trees are still doin’ their thing in the peace-on-earth prairie acreage known locally as Hillside Orchard.    It’s a joy to pick, press cider, sell and use the apples.

If we do by chance utter the word retirement near the brave trees still bearing in the orchard…..we hold it down to a whisper.

Picking apples and pressing the most amazing apple cider with my son Charlie...he's in charge this time.
Picking apples and pressing the most amazing apple cider with my son Charlie…he’s in charge this time.

Art Night Big Stone Lake Area

You are SO lucky to live in a community where the arts are important to people.”   That’s what I hear often from friends in other locations.    Technically, I’m in my own little world out here at the RedBarn (until October when hundreds of happy people eagerly stream up my short driveway to pull the big RedBarn door open and shop for one of a kind local art creations).   I know what they mean and I sincerely agree.   Early this week I attended a Big Stone Arts Council meeting where big things are happening.  I’ll have to tell you about that sometime soon.  Last week I heard from a talented, new-on-the-scene jewelry artist in our area.  Ooooo, I can’t wait to see what she is making!    This week also held the opening of a new art exhibition at Java Jules Coffee House and Bistro in Ortonville,  MN.     For sure,  I am very lucky to know so many rock star creatives, share in their happy creative world and the life that it brings to the whole; little towns, big(wait, we don’t have any big towns), country folks, us crazy-about-the-lake-in-summer peeps and all of our many visitors to the area.    An evening  spent among artists who are sharing their work , and supporters who appreciate them , is simply one of the happiest summer evenings out of the house.   Thank you, creative friends!

BSAC 'pres', Becky Parker, welcoming artists and guests.
BSAC ‘pres’, Becky Parker, welcoming artists and guests.
Jim sharing some wonderful shots taken at the nearby National Wildlife Refuge.  Yes, we are very lucky to enjoy that in our community also!
Jim sharing some wonderful shots taken at the nearby National Wildlife Refuge. Yes, we are very lucky to enjoy that in our community also!
If this piece is missing some day please don't come looking in my living room right above the side table where it would be perfect.
If this piece is missing some day please don’t come looking in my living room right above the grey side table.  Thanks, Rick!
Erlys, always the one with the marvelous fiber-art contributions.
Erlys, always the one with the marvelous fiber-art contributions.
Miss Neva gets jazzed about her local art groupies asking her what she is painting next.  Here it is!
Miss Neva gets jazzed about her local art groupies asking her what she is painting next. Here it is!
Oh boy, I have a new artist in my RedBarn neighborhood.  I think I heard him pounding this handmade frame together last week one night;)
Oh boy, I have a new artist in my RedBarn neighborhood. I think I heard him pounding this handmade frame together last week one night;) ‘Welcome’, John!!!
Beeeuuutiful water colors, Rosemary!
Beeeuuutiful water colors, Rosemarie!
Patty, your bird is lovely!  The crazy little owl painting is by yours truly.
Patty, your bird is lovely! The crazy little owl painting is by yours truly.
Featured artist, Naomi!!!  She's new in the area!  Sometimes it takes years before you no longer feel 'new'.  It's our job to say 'welcome. . . .and get over that fast, will ya'?    LOVE her watercolor style!
Featured artist, Naomi!!! She’s new in the area! Sometimes it takes years before you no longer feel ‘new’. It’s our job to say ‘welcome. . . .and get over that fast, will ya’? LOVE her watercolor style!
Rob discovered 'Prairie Smoke'.  Nice!
Rob discovered ‘Prairie Smoke’. Nice!
Happy faces loving summer and the arts!
Happy faces loving summer and the arts!

 

Recycled Creativity

A big day of ‘finding joy in the creative journey’!  I’ve accepted the challenge of creating new holiday greeting cards with as many recycled and old materials as I can possibly find.  Paper is 100% recycled fiber, sparkly(washed)aluminum foil, thrift store finds of yarn, ribbon and even glitter!   The pearl finish photo paper was rejected by a large print house but works fine printed up into bunnies, birds and winter scenes for the RedBarn card line!

Thinking thankful thoughts(and having pumpkin pie day dreams)to honor Thanksgiving while racing ahead to get things made for the Christmas season. Oh joy!

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Vivid

The word is vivid.  We’re living the autumn days of visual feast, served up to each  one of us, by the vivid foliage theatre playing live in our circle of life.   Take your ticket and enjoy the show.

Each ordinary path becomes a lane of color.
Each ordinary path becomes a lane of color.
A magical feel when we come upon a fence in the woods, don't you think?
A magical feel when we come upon a fence in the woods, don’t you think?
Vivid, the treasured colors of fall.
Vivid, the treasured colors of fall.

 

Splendid Maples with tones of gold and red
Splendid Maples with tones of gold and red

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Bit of Shopping Therapy

True confessions!  I’ve said many times, “I’m not really a shopper.”  Who am I trying to convince?  I suppose it’s my broke-in-jeans country-girl side talking. . . .knowing there are important soulful thoughts to think,  a bounty of natural materials to create new decor with, my beautiful and large family to love,  cards to be written out and popped in the mail, friends to be cherished, called and met for lunch, exciting  happenings on the art scene in my Big Stone Lake area. . . beautiful places to be visited and sweet country roads I have yet to turn onto. . . . calling my name.

So many more important things in my heart than shopping but. . . . .once in a while the desire pops up and must be fulfilled!  It’s a delightful moment (when I finally do it) and you wouldn’t believe all of the wonderful things that one can shop for in a rural area.   Don’t  want to scare folks off so we can’t say it  often;  here goes, “Not even a single stop light in this whole county.”

The cat’s out of the bag . . . .I do like to shop. . .now and then.   It’s double fun  sharing  our finds with each other, isn’t it?  

Fall Mum plant fix for Becky!  Totally in love with my new iron basket! Vintage means you don't have iron the little tablecloth you drop inside, right?
Fall new- plant fix for Becky!(you’re not going to peck this one up Chickerooos) Totally in love with my new iron basket!   ‘Vintage’ means you don’t have to iron the  tablecloth you drop inside, right?

 

Beautiful Tammi, at the Ortonville Flower Shop, helped me do my shopping.  When Tammi asked me if I wanted a bow on my new plant  I said, "No thanks, but can you stick that "grow" sign in  to remind the plant that it is supposed to last until at least the end of the month?"  She did!
Beautiful Tammi, at the Ortonville Flower Shop, helped me do my shopping.  When Tammi asked me if I wanted a bow on my new plant I said, “No thanks, but can you stick that “grow” sign in to remind the plant that it is supposed to last until at least the end of the month?” She did!