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!

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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.

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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

~ To Commission A Painting by Us Click Here!

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Until next time . . .

~ Rachelle


Tis’ Better To Give Than Receive!

Giving At Christmastime And Always!

by Rachelle Siegrist

“In Between Meals” 

Isn’t getting something you’ve really wanted for a long time most exciting?  As exciting as it may be, I really believe many times giving is better!  When I think of the joy I have brought to family and friends through the years by giving something, usually a painting or drawing of something or someone special, it brings me indescribable joy! Especially when it’s of a child, grandchild, beloved pet or a favorite bird, flower or place, and the sheer delight of receiving it is written all over their faces!

“A Winter Cascade” 

I was taught to give while growing up, and many times it included acts of service.  Some of my fondest Christmastime memories are wrapped up in giving of my time and myself to others.  I remember spending countless hours, contentedly wrapping donated toys for underprivileged children, and it always made me feel so happy knowing how those simple toys were going to brighten their Christmas!  Handing them out to the children in the park and seeing their excitement and smiling faces, was always such a gift to me in return!

“In My Happy Place”

Serving meals to the homeless in a local mission, was another highlight for me as well, and I considered myself blessed to be able to participate in doing so!  As a teenager I even bought canned goods for one homeless gentleman in particular,  leaving them in a certain location where I knew he would come and get them, and I looked forward to doing that quite often, as it became a very important to me.

“Ocean Compliments”

Hayrides were also a part of our Christmas traditions, and were even better when our youth group started making up gift baskets overflowing with food, delivering them to elderly people and shut-ins that couldn’t get out easily or afford much.  The surprise covering their precious faces, when our carol singing group knocked on their door and handed a basket to them, was priceless and filled us with such joy!  Our youth group also went to the nursing homes every Christmas where we would sing carols for the residents, knowing the entire time how much we were brightening their day.  For me personally, this was most important and enjoyable, since older people have always held a special place in my heart, thanks to the important role my Grandparents, Great Aunts and Uncles played in my life!

“A Herd Of Deere”

So this Christmas I challenge you to experience the true joy of Christmas . . . Giving!  Be it something special for that special person, or inviting a friend or neighbor who will spending Christmas alone this year, over for dinner.  Do something for somebody else . . . it’s the greatest gift you can give yourself!

“A Tennessee Farmstead”


~ Currently on the Easels ~

We’re currently in the beginning stages of one commission, where different compositional sketches are done for the collector, from which a favorite will be chosen and hence the painting process started!  Wes has made much progress on the other commission, and our collector is greatly enjoying seeing the painting come to life, as Wes sends him images of the latest progress on the painting.

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The latest progress on Wes’ commission “A Bad Day At The Office”

Is there something or someone special that you would love to have as a painting to enjoy and cherish? ~ Contact us!


~ To Commission A Painting by Us Click Here!

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Until next time . . .

~ Rachelle