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

~ To Commission A Painting by Us Click Here!

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Until next time . . .

~ Rachelle

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Objects of Beauty

By Rachelle Siegrist

Miniature Paintings As Objects of Beauty

waterfall painting spruce flats falls

Objects of beauty . . . what may be beautiful to one person, appears totally ugly to another. It’s definitely a matter of personal taste, uniquely fitted to each individual. Wes and I consider many paintings objects of beauty, obviously being partial towards miniatures! I personally cannot imagine a home void of paintings. Special places created by paint, where one’s mind is allowed to wonder and imagine being there. Perhaps it’s a beautiful landscape where you can walk through fields of flowers or sit under a large shade tree, while looking out over a herd of cattle or flock of sheep. A painting of an old barn, that lets your mind imagine what stories it would tell. A beautiful bird or animal or a precious pet that you share or did share your life with, that holds a special place in your heart. Somehow miniature paintings seem to intensify this experience of imaginative travel, as you are drawn into their tiny intimate worlds, their own universe of sorts.

Birds As Objects of Beauty

bluejay gathering spanish mossB.J. gathers moss for his nest

male cardinal with birdhouseA male Cradinal near the Tufted Titmice nest box

mourning doves with azelea flowersThree Mourning Doves amongst Azelea blooms

Birds . . . what kind of world would this be without them? I personally cannot imagine that! Such an array of colors and sizes, each equipped with it’s own unique song. Filling the trees with a splash of red, yellow or blue, and the skies with assorted shaped silhouettes as they soar above. Watching a parent patiently trying to catch a bug to feed hungry babies, or tenderly share with its mate. Seeing the gorgeous red iridescent feathers of a Ruby-throated hummingbird, or listening to the melodious song of the Wood Thrush lingering in the heavy early morning or late evening air. Beauty, plain and simple, and free to those who’ll take time to enjoy them!

Flowers As Objects of Beauty

bearded iris bloomA Bearded Iris

dianthus flowersDianthus blossoms by our split rail fence

wild geranium bloomAn iridescent fly works a Wild Geranium blossom

Flowers . . . they fill our world with so much color! From the cool purplish blues of Virginia Bluebells to the warm yellows of happy-faced Pansies, each one unique in its own way, filling our gardens and our world with such vibrant life! From a field of large-headed, golden-petaled sunflowers to the single, vibrant red of a miniature rose, each serving its unique purpose while creating beauty for us to enjoy! What a delightful treat it is, to take the time to walk through one’s flower gardens, admiring the vast array of colors represented in assorted shaped and sized blossoms, while listening to natures symphony composed of birdsong, crickets and the occasional bee or hummingbird buzzing by . . . this is truly an experience of beauty!

The Latest Painting From the Siegrist’s Easel

Wes finished his painting of an adorable otter playfully floating on it’s back, while I’m still painting on a Longhorn Steer.

Otter painting by Wes Siegrist“The Backstroke Made Easy”