Magical Meadows, Rocket Stove and Eggs!

Hiking Schoolhouse Gap to White Oak Sinks!

by Rachelle Siegrist

tall phlox in smokies.jpg

It’s that time of year again, so this past Wednesday, we headed up Schoolhouse Gap Trail to see if the Tall Phlox were blooming. It was a beautiful morning, as occasional clouds passed overhead and the sound of springtime birdsong and gentle breezes filled the air!  As we started our descent into the woodland meadow area, clusters of the delicate lavender flowers started appearing, proving our timing was perfect!  Soon we found ourselves surrounded by a sea of lavender and their soft sweet fragrance filled the air! We found the perfect lunch spot, a big log with plenty of room for the four of us, and we were delighted to have this magical meadow all to ourselves!

A Swallowtail enjoys the Tall Phlox, Shooting Stars and Squaw Root

After lunch, we decided to hike up to a sinkhole where Virginia Bluebells bloom each year.  It’s tricky knowing exactly when they’re blooming, so we weren’t sure what to expect, but were thrilled to find that they were indeed at peak, and absolutely stunning! It was decided that it was a wonderfully peaceful place to just sit awhile, enjoying the beauty and quiet!

white oak sinks trailSoon it was time to start hiking back, and while winding our way through the woods, we heard what sounded like thumping on a large hollow log, growing in intensity and tempo as it went along.  Having an odd sound, it also seemed too slow for a woodpecker, so at first we thought perhaps it was a Ruffed Grouse. But after researching online, we concluded it was most likely a Pileated Woodpecker, since Grouse do the beating with their wings while standing on a log. However, I also discovered that it sounded somewhat like the tapping on a hollow tree made by Sasquatch!  Being a huge fan of Bigfoot, I decided to go with that theory in the end, thinking perhaps he was watching us from up on the surrounding hillside somewhere and was tapping out a “Howdy!” to me!  We strolled back down the path, and just before reaching the trailhead, we stopped for a short wade in the river, finding it most refreshing and a great way to end the hike!

rachelle siegrist hiking school house gap trail
Obviously Tom didn’t get the red shirt memo!

Yesterday was the perfect day for hunting Easter eggs with our little friend Chance, and so he, along with his grandparents and several others, spent time in our front gardens hiding and hunting the multi-colored eggs. Of course it all started with the guys hiding the eggs, while us girls kept him entertained with bubbles, a favorite pastime of his!

rachelle siegrist yard.jpg
Always fun playing with bubbles!

Soon the three dozen or so eggs were carefully tucked in secret hiding places and the hunt began!  Chance was having a ball locating the eggs and putting them in his red bucket, but stopped several times to watch the Swallowtail Butterflies that kept flitting above, occasionally landing to drink nectar from the abundant Azalea blossoms!  Each time he would sweetly say “Hi butterfly“, then proceed with his search for eggs.

siegrists gardens.jpg
Looking for more eggs!

Upon finding them all, we hid them for him again, so he could enjoy the experience all over again.  Having worked up an appetite, our group headed to Pizza Hut for a tasty supper and ended the fun evening relaxing on the back porch while enjoying Sharon’s yummy chocolate cake!

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Found another one!

Wes recently discovered rocket stoves in a magazine and after doing some online research, built us one, for free no less!  Upon using it the first time, we were totally amazed, so he built another one right next to it the very next day!  Using small amounts of sticks collected from the woods, it concentrates the heat in one area, thus cooking food efficiently and for free!  A day or so later, he built a table nearby to set things on, so our outdoor kitchen is now complete and works great!

wes siegrists rocket stove
The initial rocket stove in action

Celebrate Easter . . . For He is risen!

~ Fresh off the Easels ~

Wes painted two landscape paintings this past week featuring gorgeous settings from our beloved nearby Smoky Mountain National Park.  Just a few minutes drive from our home, we love hiking in this area, and of course painting it for you to cherish and enjoy!

landscape smokies painting by_Wes_Siegrist
Wes’ “Still Waters”
lanscape waterfall painting by_Wes_Siegrist
Wes’ “Cascade Colors”

I have almost finished one of my current commissions which I will share with you soon, and started this commission “A Mule Full” featuring four precious little doggies belonging to dear collector friends!  As you can imagine, I’m having a ball painting this one!

dog commission in progress
My latest dog commission in progress

commission a painting by wes siegrist, landscape painting of the virgin islands

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Until next time . . .

~ Rachelle

Spring’s A Comin’ and New Miniature Paintings

This past week has seemed rather uneventful after last week’s dangerous adventure of driving home in the ice storm, but I must say it’s been relaxing to not have to deal with and travel in such conditions. Several days this past week were quite nice, with blue skies above and the sun warming things up a little, making it where we even got to ride bikes a couple of days. The spring peepers continue to sing their cheery little song in the woods behind our house. However, the temps plummeted to 20 degrees two nights ago, and a dusting of snow fell, turning much of the ground white once again, and sadly that morning I heard no cheery song from the peepers. Later that afternoon, I finally heard the song of one hearty little fellow, who had obviously thawed out and was able to sing once again, and by that evening, was joined by all of his buddies! Not only is the peepers song filling the air, but the Daffodils are also blooming, a sure sign that spring is drawing nearer, thank goodness! The Canada Geese are pairing up, and the Chickadees and Bluebirds are checking out nest boxes, as they sing their delightful spring songs! The male House Finch is starting to court his significant other, and is entertaining her with song and dance. One in which he sings rapidly and jumps around and up and down, raising his little crest, dancing and performing excitedly, while she mostly just ignores the poor little fellow and continues eating. He always reminds me of the male Bird of Paradise, which pulls out all of the stops, putting on a most spectacular performance, although the finch’s performance is a bit more subdued and obviously lacking all of the bells, whistles and fluff! Nonetheless, I always love watching his impressive and entertaining little display. I’m still making numerous trips out daily, to refill the buffet for the birds and feed Stubb’s, the titmouse, and Peedeepeeps, the wren, their own special treats! Sometimes it’s just the three of us there, and at those moments, time seems to stop.

snow in the smokies
Oh-No! Not again!!!

We enjoyed having our friends, Kit, Fred and Barb over for supper one night this past week. I made homemade baked ziti with salad and garlic bread, and we ate while Wes and I recounted stories from our icy trip home from Tulsa. Then I brought out my sweet treat, to which everyone responded to with “Ooooo’s” and “Ahhhh’s”. It was a piece of my homemade Dreamsicle Angel Food cake, which is an angel food cake with added orange zest, vanilla and coconut, on which I drizzled orange cinnamon glaze. I topped it with a small dollop of whipped cream in which I placed one of my abstract chocolate swirl creations! It was as much fun to look at as it was to eat! We spent the remainder of the evening laughing our heads off while watching old Dick Van Dyke episodes! Wes and I also spent time deciding which miniature paintings to send to upcoming shows, and then got them packaged up and sent out. We both happily spent quite a bit of time at our easels as well.

dreamsicle angel food cake
Mmmmmm . . . my Dreamsicle Angel Food

~ Fresh off the easel ~

I finally finished my latest miniature painting in our visiting the masterpieces series. It’s titled: Admiring Stevens’ “A Portrait of A Group of Parisian Celebrities”. Goodness, I thought part way through this painting! Why on earth did I choose one that seemed to have 100 teeny tiny faces in it! Nonetheless, I conquered and finished it and now am very happy I choose to paint it! Wes spent about 8 hours on the painting I posted in progress last week and then decided he didn’t like the way the water was looking or the overall composition so he decided to start fresh. He finished his painting Natural Abstraction this past week.

Rachelle Siegrist miniature painting Admiring Series
“Admiring Stevens’ “A Portrait of Parisian Celebrities” by Rachelle
Alligator painting by Wes Siegrist
“Natural Abstraction” by Wes

~ Currently on the easel ~

I am painting a very, very fat Siamese cat, which lives at the sponge docks in Tarpon Springs, FL. He appears to obviously eat lots and lots of fish scraps! It will be one of my miniature paintings featured in the “Feline Fine II” exhibition.

Rachelle Siegrist cat painting in progress step 2

EXQUISITE MINIATURES continues on exhibit at the beautiful Wildlife Experience in Parker, CO through April 6th 2014


PARKS II Siegrist Miniature Paintings


March 16 – April 13, 2014: Premiering at the Ella Carothers Dunnegan Gallery of Art, Bolivar, MO

Visit our website schedule and come see the artwork in person at our exhibitions!

Cherish your loved one or a beloved pet in miniature ~ Commission Us!

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Until next time ~ Rachelle