By Charlotte Hubbard
When we sold our St. Paul home on March 10th of this year, we had no idea about the scope of the pandemic or how it would change so much in our everyday lives—not to mention the real estate market and the moving process. After 30 years as a novelist, I’m no stranger to working at home, but I sensed I would need something more than writing my Amish stories to keep my spirits up during all the stress moving to a new home would entail, and over the long haul of dealing with the public health issues and the stay-home restrictions we’ve been facing these days.
Like Rosetta in my Promise Lodge series, I plan for happiness! I’ve learned that if you don’t schedule fun activities—or if you let other people make all the arrangements, or tell you what to do or how to feel—your emotional needs often get swept aside. When something as unpredictable and unfathomable as Covid-19 threatens to change our lives for the unforeseeable future, you’d better be ready to hunker down in your happy place.
So what’s my personal cure for the pandemic? Color. Lots of color, intentionally chosen to boost my mood and make me happy every single day, everywhere I spend my time. And what better opportunity for a fresh palette than a new home?
After months of online house hunting, we found a wonderful place in Omaha—probably the most “move-in ready” house we looked at, repainted a couple of years ago. But the colors on those walls aren’t my colors. Fortunately, we’ve hired a guy who’s coming in to paint all the rooms before the moving van arrives with our furniture. I’d already decided this was going to be my “blue skies and sunshine” home, so I handed the painter my color chips: a light blue called “Atmospheric” for most of the walls, a darker “Bluebird Feather” for the accent areas and master bedroom, and our offices and the guest room will be “Sunny Veranda” yellow.
The blues are cool and soothing, and they center my soul. The yellow is cheerful—and did you know that legal pads are yellow because that color stimulates thought and brain activity? It’s the perfect shade for the office where I create my stories! I’m going to include splashes of cobalt, cranberry, and sunflower (primary colors for adults!) all over the house. Just so happens my everyday Fiesta dishes include those colors, and so do the Mary Engelbreit prints I’ve always hung in my office. We also have a lot of family pieces—crocks and a ceramic water cooler—that are a clear, deep blue, so my decorating’s almost done before we even arrive at our new address!
Because I decided months ago to include a lot of blue in this home, I’ve been embroidering a fresh set of kitchen towels. The “Retro Fruits” pattern in the photo lends itself well to the colors I love, so I’ve spent a lot of enjoyable hours working on them—especially during the road trips between St. Paul and Omaha! (I buy my blank towels and iron-on patterns online from Colonial Patterns—www.colonialpatterns.com. It’s a family-owned business and they carry a bazillion embroidery patterns you can’t find at craft stores!)
We’ve also been culling out some furnishings that have seen better days, and a couple of my office bookshelves were on the “outgoing” list—until I got the idea to paint them! Neal built the larger shelf for me years ago, and the small one dates all the way back to my grade school days in 1962, when it came with my set of Americana encyclopedias!
Both shelves were stained wood, so I sanded them and tightened all the screws. I used a foam brush, because you have fewer brush marks that way, and I applied four coats of paint to each piece. These shelves got quite a facelift, don’t you think? They’ll really perk up my yellow office when I fill them with my books again and hang my colorful Mary Engelbreit prints.
In late July, when Morning Star kicks off my new series, The Maidels of Morning Star, I’ll be celebrating this book’s release in my new Omaha home! Meanwhile, #2 of this series, First Light in Morning Star, is in the editorial pipeline, and I’ll be sending in the manuscript for #3, Christmas Comes to Morning Star, to meet my August 1st deadline. What a monumental summer it’s been! I’m amazed—and very grateful—that I’ve been able to keep up with my writing during all the recent life changes we’ve been through.
I want to thank you for your interest in my Amish novels, and I hope you’ll enjoy discovering Regina Miller’s secret life as she leads the way in this new series set in Morning Star, Missouri! She, like the other four maidels you’ll meet, believes she has a hidden past or a serious flaw that means she’ll never marry. But oftentimes, God turns our tragedies into triumphs and our foibles into fulfillment, and that’s exactly what happens for Regina. Regina and her four friends start this series by renovating a dilapidated stable and turning it into The Marketplace, where Amish crafters sell their wares. It’s a great place to find quilts, handcrafted wooden toys, fabulous furniture, fresh-baked goodies, and other delights—and I think you’ll want to visit!
During these unsettling times, I hope you’ll experience your own triumphs and fulfillment—and I hope you’ll find new ways to plan for happiness, too! Thanks for spending time with me today!
When five maidels join forces to turn an abandoned barn into an Amish marketplace, the unmarried women have community in mind. But their fledgling enterprise promises to reap surprising rewards for each in turn, including the gift of unexpected love . . .
For Regina Miller, the new Morning Star Marketplace is a chance to share her secret work with the world—without revealing herself. Old Order Amish forbid the creation of art without purpose, but without a husband, Regina has been free to explore the joy of painting in her attic. Yet when Gabe Flaud’s curiosity leads him to speculate that Regina herself is the painter, the full weight of their community’s judgement falls on her shoulders.
When Gabe stands up to defend Regina, questioning the Order’s restrictions, he reveals his own guilty secret and is shunned along with her. Forced to turn to each other for companionship, the young couple must learn to balance their own needs with their deep faith . . . and a love that will show them all things are possible.