Book Review: The Green Ember by S.D. Smith

One of my favorite reads this year has been S.D. Smith’s The Green Ember, and I had to share my review with you. If you have young children and are looking for your next read-aloud, look no further.

This is a wonderful story full of adventure, friendship, betrayal, and redemption. That the characters are Rabbits only adds to the delight, and the pacing sweeps you into a worthwhile tale not to be soon forgotten.

Picket and Heather, a brother and sister who live in a peaceful wood, are beginning to learn about their family history in their Father’s bedtime tales. But when their home suffers a perilous attack from wolves, their family is separated. Heather and Picket have to fight for their lives, and soon they are guided to a safe warren. Here they gain loyal friends, but also more than a few cold skeptics.

While finding their place in the community, Heather and Picket’s family connections add to the rising tension in the warren. Rumors of a coming attack from the wolves, the unsettled longing for King Jupiter’s heir to rise, and the whole community’s yearning for their true home all collide into a test of loyalty and character.

Some of my favorite characters and imagery included Heather the budding Storyteller, Smalls, the Gardens, Maggie O’Sage, “The Mended Wood,” the stained glass windows(!!), Uncle Wilfred’s faithfulness, Emma’s journey to becoming a doctor, and of course the flaming crown jewel, the Green Ember. I also love the importance placed on craftsmanship, the necessity of art, and everyone’s skill having weight within the community. (And I hope we get better acquainted with Picket and Heather’s parents in a future book!) The whole book is a gem I can’t wait to share with my children someday.

The styling, character arcs, pacing, and imagery are all artful and compelling. Beautiful scenes of home, purpose in one’s work, and loyalty are deepened by the honest depictions of exile, the consequences of treachery, bitterness, and fighting for one’s home. Not only a book of action, it’s a thought-provoking tale that glories in the good, the true, and the beautiful.


Listening to the audiobook I missed the illustrations, so I loved getting to linger over them when I got my hard copy. Zach Franzen has done a lovely job with this book, and I’ve so enjoyed learning from him, especially in this article.

Directed to middle-grade readers, it’s a book the whole family will enjoy as a read-aloud. Having just finished the audiobook, I’m already starting it again to better savor the details and characters I love.

You can find copies of this delightful book in paperback and softcover at Story Warren Store. Edit: And the Kindle version of the prequel, The Black Star of Kingston, is free today! (I’m in no way compensated for this review; it’s purely for sharing the delight.)

The Green EmberThe Green Ember by S.D. Smith

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



A fall afternoon in the studio

Sweet autumn’s days of sun and extended summer benediction are nearing to a close…


Elephant sketches! Can’t say a lot about the current book project just yet, but it does require watching videos of baby elephants.  Tough job.  Some animals are more challenging than others, and somehow elephants are one of those!  The leg joints are especially tricky, but studying their bone structure has been a big help.

Another work in progress: A prototype for a new planner – in an old Moleskine!


For a few years I’ve tested out Moleskine daily planners, my little black notebook, and this year I’ve been using NeuYear‘s Dominator (which are all worth-while tools).  But the the Dominator’s daily columns ended up being too narrow for my style, and while I just loved Moleskine’s thin paper, I missed the monthly calendars.  So, I’m back to a plain notebook, but this time in a larger size with extra writing space whenever I need it.  Drawing my own calendars still holds it’s irresistible charm over me as it did the previous two years, so here’s to a new venture!

I love learning about others’ planning tools and work flow.  Systems, y’all.  It’s an INFJ thing.

And speaking of systems, I’m currently inspired by illustrator Christopher Denise’s work process:
Read his interview on All Creativelike
And on his blog he shares about his latest book’s development. I’ve ordered my own copy and can’t wait to soak up every illustration.

Also enjoying:
Audrey Assad on YouTube, and Two Benedictions
How to Discourage Artists in Church, from the Gospel Coalition

Sally Clarkson and Kristen Kill’s new podcast! (Great for single ladies as well as mothers!!)

What work inspiration have you been enjoying lately?

A little reminder


Some days I need a little reminder from my friend, Mani:
“Perfection is the enemy of completion.”

Sometimes we creatives want to finish a piece and make it “presentable.” Knowing that other people are going to see our work somehow puts pressure on us. What we end up doing is wasting time “improving” something that was most beautiful at it’s first blush. That sketch? It already has a life of it’s own.

Learn to stop the fuss and step away. You’re done. You’re welcome.

Book recommendation: This summer I read Austin Kleon’s “Steal Like an Artist” and “Show Your Work“—I highly encourage you to read them both. If you’re looking for ways to improve your creative side and share what you’ve been making, these are for you!

Revisiting the Library


I sold my last “Library” print two weeks ago and it *almost* feels like the end of an era. I’ve had a stack of this print from when I first started my Etsy shop back in 2008, when we were using a local print shop. Has it really been seven years since I first painted “The Library”, and six since I started the shop? And now we’re printing from our home, using a beautiful, watercolor-like paper that honestly rivals the originals.

“The Library” has been a faithful piece, and well-loved. I think I’ll really miss the dear old thing. But no fear, “The Library” isn’t gone for good. While we won’t be seeing the old version, I’m creating a new one in the same spirit, just a jolly little revision and soon it will be back in the shop!

A Sale for Mother’s Day

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Mother’s Day is just around the corner!  To celebrate, we’re having a sale at The Breezy Tulip Studio shop! There are also some new prints available. (The one above is still in progress!)

Use coupon code MOTHER15 at checkout to take 20% off your order. Sale ends tonight at 11:59 pm!

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Above are two new prints, “Good Morning, Piggy!” and “We Will Serve the Lord.” Hop on over the The Breezy Tulip Studio’s shop to take a peek!

Daybook: 12 February 2015

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Thursday, February 12

Outside my window… The sunlight, wide and warm across the field, mixes with patches of darkness from the clouds. The atmosphere has that clear, hopeful brilliance of coming spring but the snow, which gives the appearance of melting, belies the thermometer: it’s a mere 22 degrees!

In the kitchen… In the evenings I’ve been making hot chocolate for mum and myself.  When your work is always nearby, it’s the perfect incentive to call it a day and pick up a good book.

I am creating… copies of Pauline Baynes’ style of pen and ink, practicing my own style of miniature drawings. Her thoughtful details on such small scale are captivating!

2015_2_pauline baynes_study

I am reading…
“The Bird in the Tree” by Elizabeth Goudge
“Morning and Evening” by Charles Spurgeon
“Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less” by Greg McKeown

I am thinking… about adding color to my blog design

I am visiting (online)…
The thought-provoking Audio Library at the CiRCE Institute
The oh-so-delightful Read Aloud Revival Podcast
Karen Andreola’s blog, “Moments with Mother Culture


Around the house…
Dad is finishing up remodeling the bathroom, and mom has started the spring cleaning.

I am looking forward to…
a St. Valentine’s event this weekend with the girls!

And the winner is…

There were 176 entries in the art print giveaway, and so many wonderful traditions people shared in their comments! I loved reading them, y’all, it was inspiring and really gets one in the spirit of Christmas. And a big thank you to Sew Mama Sew for the giveaway week! It’s always so much fun to find other creatives and enter their giveaways.

This morning after the giveaway had closed, I used to select the winner.  And the comment number selected was . . .

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Number 118: Afton from Quilting Mod!
Afton’s favorite Christmas tradition? “
I love decorating gingerbread houses.”

I’ll be sending you an email and you can pick your favorite art print our of my Etsy shop!

Thank you, everyone, for entering! It’s been a lovely time getting a peek into your homes and traditions this wonderful season. I hope you all have a beautiful, restful Christmas and a joyful New Year! God bless!

It’s a giveaway!


It’s Giveaway Day at Sew Mama Sew!  And guess what– the giveaways are going to last all week so we’ll have plenty of time to browse and enter.

I’ll be giving away one print from my Etsy shop, The Breezy Tulip Studioyour pick!  Take a look through my Etsy shop and see what you like!

To enter, leave a comment about one of  your favorite Christmas traditions!  I love this time of year, and I’d love to hear about the ways your family makes it special.

This is an international giveaway.  The giveaway will be open through Friday 12/12 midnight, and the winner will be announced and notified on Saturday 12/13.  Best wishes!


This Giveaway is now closed!

It’s Black Friday!

Hello, everybody!  I’ll be sure to update you soon on our lovely Thanksgiving and the new projects (or at least what I can say about them for now), but in the mean time….

We’re having a Black Friday through Cyber Monday sale!  Check out our shops’ sales below–

Clementine Pattern Co.: Save 20% on your entire order by using coupon code GRATEFUL at checkout. (Ends Tuesday, December 2nd)


The Breezy Tulip Studio is also having a Black Friday sale: Save 20% on your entire order by using coupon code GIVETHANKS14 at checkout!  (Ends Tuesday, December 2nd.)  Here’s the two new prints in the shop:

“Preparing for Christmas”

“Home from the Sea”

Noble Rose Press products are on sale as well!
Our coloring book and Paper dolls are $7 each!  And the Titanic paper dolls, “Audrey Bunny,”
and “For Such a Time as This” are $12 each.


It’s almost here!


The last time I wrote about the storybook bible, I was still drawing thumbnails.  Now, after months of hard work, prayer, and waiting,  “For Such a Time as This” is headed to the bookstores and is available for pre-order on Amazon!

“For Such a Time as This” has been a wonderful project to work on.  I have loved exploring ancient Israel and imagining what daily life looked like for women of the Scriptures like Sarah, Abigail, Mary, Priscilla, etc..  All the study behind it gave me a close look into what they might have experienced, much like an adventurous inductive Bible study, if not actual time-travel!

Here’s a book trailer for “For Such a Time as This”!



October 1st is the big day when it appears in book stores!  LifeWay Christian book stores, Barnes and Noble, Noble Rose Press, and others are where you’ll be able to find it!

I’m so thankful for the opportunity the Lord has given me in being involved with this book.  Our hope is that it will give girls (and their parents!) a greater love and curiosity for the Bible, that they will want to dig deeper, grow more in love with Christ, and to be transformed into His likeness.

(Thank you, Emily Rose, for the photography, as well as all the additional work you put into the book!)