thrilled (again)

Sunday, November 30, 2008

love you - card design #4

First up, I am thrilled (to pieces) this morning because my good things come collage print was shown & mentioned on my absolute favourite design blog Poppytalk. You can check out me - there - here. Wink. I won a give away (bonus !) that she was having - 81 entries - and she took the time to come and check out 29 Black Street including my etsy shop. Now you can't tell me that M. Universe didn't have something to do with this.

Hey ! who doesn't love cabbage rolls ? I love cabbage rolls although I am usually deterred from making them as they are kinda fussy and time consuming to make. This recipe however is for cabbage rolls ... pas de rolls. Uh Huh. Simple, easy and delicious. Adapted from this little's village's home & school fundraising cookbook.

Cabbage Roll Casserole

3 cups chopped cabbage
1/2 cup brown rice
2 onions chopped
1 lb ground meat (I used 1/2lb chicken and 1/2 lb beef)
1 large leek chopped (optional - I had leek gifts that needed to be used)
1 large can of diced tomatoes
1 cup of chicken broth
2 tbsps. brown sugar
1 tsp. italian blend seasoning
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/8th - 1/4 tsp. ground cloves (to taste)
a good pinch freshly ground nutmeg

Saute onions (and leek) in a bit of oil until translucent remove from pan and put aside. Brown meat in the same pan, add brown sugar and spices. Stir until sugar melts, add tomatoes, raw cabbage and raw rice, onions and leeks. Stir until everything is mixed well and pile into a large casserole. pour chicken broth into all the nooks and crannies.(with a lid or cover tightly with foil). Pour chicken broth into all the nooks and crannies. Cover (with lid or tight foil) and bake in a 350 oven for 1 - 1 1/2 hrs or until rice is cooked. * I think next time I would pre-cook the rice and then bake the casserole for 30 -40 mins as I found the cabbage was almost overcooked with the long cooking time. It's delicious and the cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon and brown sugar are what really make it ... says she.


thanks - card design #5


Saturday, November 29, 2008

bon voyage greeting card design #1

Do you remember way back when, back in September when I was madly getting ready to submit card designs to Great Arrow. A goal that had been on my list of want-to-do's since October of '01. Well I didn't hear anything back from them ... and that's OK - it was, after all, my first time submission. It was however, a totally worthwhile exercise as I managed to work out this looser, more fun (I think), illustration style that I'm really quite happy with plus I crossed off a huge big item that's been hanging around on my master list of goals & dreams for far, far too long. Thought I'd share three of those card designs with you this early morning.

My desk is still a total mess, my second cup of coffee and you guessed it - my buddy Sweet Oliver are both here by my side as I type away. It's mild and fresh this early morning and the sounds of melting snow are the only sounds coming in my open window. Lavender bubbles are waiting and it's another busy day of drawing here at the teak topped desk. I do plan a break after lunch to take in the Tree Fest (30+ theme decorated Christmas trees from local businesses and organizations, amidst a tiny café setting avec coffee, tea, sweets (!) and seasonal tunes from The Travellers (a senior men's chorale group of which Harry's dad Andy is a member). I hope to take lots of festive photos at this event.

Miss D and I have a 9am date with Deb and Maggy Sue for our first of the season big walk at the golf course. And we can hardly wait. Miss D and I do enjoy our leash walks around this village in darkness and solitude but there is also nothing in this world more wonderful than the sight of dogs running ... flat out ... chasing squirrels, smelling stuff, partners in crime as they race around together enjoying the wide open (and safe) space at golf course. Deb and I walk and chat and Maggy Sue & Winnie, they do their thing. It's perfect.

Sounds like a pretty good day to me.

Chowder Hour at the curling club and the Dessert Extravaganza at the senior's lodge last night were both excellent. Not particularly photogenic events, either one of them ... but delicious, no question !

holla greeting card design #2

you rock greeting card design #3


Friday, November 28, 2008

our walk along the harbour's edge at sunset

Miss D and I walk in darkness these winter days. Our scheduled walking times (and you can be sure this girl has a schedule) are morning - as soon after 6:30 am as we can hit the streets and in the evening any time after 5:15 - I like to be home again by 6pm - when excellent radio begins once again on CBC 1 - The World at 6 and As it Happens - just in case I have to be back at the teak topped desk for an hour or two.

I love to stroll the streets in darkness, especially with the company of my most excellent companion Winnie Dixon. This is a very quiet little village and rarely is there any traffic at all. It seems at those times of the day everyone else is still tucked in their beds or busy preparing dinner. So we walk the streets mostly in still and silence. Miss D. usually trots ahead of me taking full advantage of the entire length of her retractable lead although she never pulls beyond this length. Her little toe nails clicking along the pavement, seagulls and waves lapping the shore often the only sounds we hear. She uses this time to practice her, twice daily, intense nasal investigations so there is much stopping, and standing and waiting and I use this time to practice remembering to breath deeply, and sometimes to look up at the sky and the stars or to peer into the lives of well lit windows. She lets me know when the coast is clear and it's time to move on to the next enticing scent station along our way. There are some areas along our route seemingly devoid of interesting smells when we actually get walking at a fairly good clip ... although that never seems to last long.

These two walks have become like a meditation for me. I've often felt the saddest early in the morning and it's been a chance for me to walk and breath in the crisp morning air (as good as a second cup of coffee) and let all those Tears come out before the sun is up. At the end of the day when lately it feels like I've been rushing since daybreak, it's a chance for me to finally slow down, to just be and enjoy the smell of the salt air and the quiet of Night arriving ...

and to be grateful for many, many things ... but especially for my girl Miss D.

tree trimming

Thursday, November 27, 2008

early morning cottages along crescent beach

I love this tall row of trees.

My desk is still messy this morning, I've cleared a little spot for my elbows and my cup of coffee. Sigh. It will make my day start off right if I take a few minutes to tidy my work area before beginning today's round of drawing, drawing, drawing.

Tomorrow our little village begins celebrating a two day winter festival called Christmas by the Sea. I have a date with BFF Harry, early tomorrow evening to take in Chowder Hour at the curling club followed by a Dessert Extravaganza (avec coffee) at the senior citizens lodge and then he and I will join in the walking Parade of Lights, a stroll from the high school holding flashlights & glow sticks, with carols a blasting, down a few of our village streets to end up at our little library park where the lighting of the big village Christmas tree will happen.

This afternoon I'll take a wee break from this latest, seemingly endless, project of frame drawings ($ wink ! Mr R. Canada's gonna be happy this December) to finish up a little graphic design project - card stock ornaments printed with photos of dogs and cats that have been adopted from our local animal shelter this past year (Jake, Winnie, Oliver & Gussie all were adopted from this shelter) and another pile of ornaments highlighting the names of local businesses who donated generously to our shelter in our latest & biggest annual fundraiser. Tonight I'll go with a friend (and fellow animal lover) and we'll trim the shelter Christmas tree with these ornaments (and other cat and dog themed decorations) for our tree in the village Christmas by the Sea- Tree Fest - local businesses and organizations each trim a tree creatively with themed decorations. Then a local church group puts on a café amidst these trees for the entire two days of the festival. You can sit and enjoy coffee/tea & sweets, listen to The Traveller's singing carols (BFF Harry's dad Andy is a member of this barber shop quartet) and view the 20+ themed trees.

Shut up ! Can you stand it ? Action packed, this weekend, here at 29 Black Street and in this little seaside village.

ocelot lure

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

ocelot lure
(or an instant cure for the glums, blues and/or blahs)

1 brightly coloured scrunchy kitten toy
2 boot length shoe laces

tie boot laces together, attach scrunchy brightly coloured kitten toy securely to laces. Drop the scrunchy end to floor while holding far end of long length of laces in your hand. Nonchalantly begin to creep around your house dragging the scrunchy toy very slowly behind you. Guaranteed to bring all dwarf ocelots out of hiding. For added enjoyment occasionally drag scrunchy toy, slowly, up and onto furniture. Continue until cheeks hurt from smiling. Repeat 3x a day before meals.

Had a bit of a slow day yesterday. You know one of those days when you just feel like your moving at half speed, the kind of day where you feel the total opposite of the super girl you always try to be. My desk is messy and disorganized this early morning, covered with bits of tracing paper, pencils and drawing pens are scattered everywhere. I'm still in the midst of the second 20+ frame project. I do all my drawings to scale in fine black drawing pen and shade, blend and smudge areas with HB lead (to show dimension). Then I scan and send (via email) these "clean" drawings which my customer often uses for presentation purposes. Once I've done that with all 20 something drawings then I begin writing all the technical, production instructions and measurements on each frame drawing, scan them again and resend to Customer No Uno these will be forwarded to the manufacturer. I expect to still be finishing up these 40+ frames (doing the tech instructions) into next week - December- Eek ! How can that be ?

Thank you all so much for the kind comments yesterday. I know that many of you have experienced the same loss - the same feelings of knowing in your head that you've done the right thing ... but your heart forever aches because of it. Many of you lived through this past year along with us ... and honestly I don't know if we could have made it without you. My blog friends and family who stopped by each day to check up on us and hold us up if we were beginning to sink again. I still can't read this blog from a year ago although I am enormously grateful that it exists. My own much treasured suitcase of memories. Sigh ... the best song.
Merci from all of us.

ocelet lure action shots below

guilt & grief

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Just felt like we needed a pop of colour on this cold and snowy Tuesday.

I have been planning a post titled Grief, Guilt & Hemangiosarcoma (bet you can't wait). It's about euthanasia and the terrible wracking guilt that often comes along with it and of finally feeling as if I know for sure what was ultimately wrong with my best friend Jake. The thing that was so terribly wrong that I chose, in my traumatized f&cked up state after enduring a month of his severe ups and way, way downs, to end his life 10 months ago today. I've never stopped, obsessively at times, researching on line - attempting to diagnose his illness, hunting for reassurance that yes I did do the right thing and at the right time. What if I could have had more time with him ? Maybe he might have rallied one more time. Those questions and doubts have haunted me, and combined with Sadness and Loneliness - and just plain Missing him, have made this year one of the hardest of my life. You see I've never loved anyone as much as I loved that dog - and I know that sounds strange, maybe even sad to some of you - while human love has eluded me - canine love has surrounded me. The absolute, no holds barred, love of my life (thus far) is, has been, a big red lug of a dog. Who loved me back with the same, constant, wide open, often goofy, exuberant intensity. For that I consider myself a very lucky girl and ... no wonder I miss him still, so much.

Sunday I found, in my ongoing googling around, a chat forum where others shared their stories and experiences of Hemangiosarcoma, an often sudden and extremely deadly form of cancer especially common in senior Golden Retrievers. Deadly in that by the time the dog shows symptoms the tumours are usually very large and have metastasized. The symptoms they described, the ups and downs, the weakness, collapses and loss of appetite and then suddenly out of the blue seeming totally fine again, were all too familiar to me. It talked also about how stoic dogs can be - they're still wagging their tails and smiling at you when they're actually very sick and often near death. Many of the dogs were much younger than Jake, some only 8 and a few even younger. He could have had exploratory surgery as a last resort, possible a splenectomy (removing his spleen and any tumours attached to it) ... I did consider it but putting him through all of that was never really an option, my biggest fear, for my just past 13 year old dog, was that I would end up saying goodbye to him on an operating table ... and I couldn't bear that.

Hemangiosarcoma is a disease which Jake was actually diagnosed with way back in April of '07 when he quite suddenly became very ill, had a battery of tests and xrays and after three consecutive days at the vet was given a best guess, Hemangiosarcoma, 2-weeks-to-live prognosis. Days past and we gratefully began to believe it was a mistake, a wrong diagnosis. He didn't die, he got better and had another fun and amazing retrieving filled summer. I believe now, through all my reading and researching, that he lived another healthy, full of beans, 10 months beyond that initial diagnosis - was a gift - he knew, I'm sure of it, that I needed more time to get myself ready for life without him in it.

Thank goodness I kept hunting and thank goodness that I found this site. I feel like a weight has been lifted. Ache, Sadness & Longing (to bury my face in his furry red neck) will be with me awhile, maybe even always ... but Guilt and Grief I think and hope, are finally riding off into the sunset.

Love ya Noodle ....

bon amis

Monday, November 24, 2008

best friends Winnie D and Bleet

I want (need) to get an an early jump on this early Monday morning, this brand new fresh week. I had somewhat of a lazy day yesterday, that happens sometimes on Sunday's. I have my big long weekly chat with my sister Sandra, putter around, cook a little, do laundry and the next thing you know I'm snugged in the nest with a at least two cats, Miss D, a big stack of December magazines and a pot of orange pekoe tea. My batteries needed to be charged up again and now, today, I must make up for a little time lost yesterday. I also spoiled myself yesterday with a big order from Lush (my favourite smelly bath stuff) an early Christmas gift to moi. They have two specials on right now - free shipping over 100.00 and an extra gift (value 20.00) when you spend 50.00 - 2 (too) good to pass up. Wink. It has been an extremely frugal year (or more) for me and this holiday seems a good time to treat myself to a few things :

- a new fleecy sweater or jacket (full retail - not my usual second hand thrift shop)
- new Cavallini wall calender - sigh. Vintage maps ... I sure do love a map
- 100.00 gift certificate at (some creative inspiration pour moi)
- new socks and underwear
- a jacket for Missy D and little boots for our strolls on salt covered streets
- and kitten treats for les Chats (Bleet, Oliver & Gus)

What's on your holiday wish list ?

I decided to dine vicariously at Balthazar last evening avec MLou & Lorna. I started with the Balthazar Salad (with haricots verts, asparagus, fennel, ricotta salata and truffle vinaigrette) then their famous Steak Frites with Bernaise Sauce, to finish perfect coffee and for dessert a toss up between Pavlova and Caramel Banana Tart. A must do on my next adventure to NYC.

hearts & berries

Sunday, November 23, 2008

hearts & berries painted sketch

One of two Christmas card ideas that I designed and painted yesterday, between cooking leek & potato soup, scooping kitty litter, doing dishes, drawing more full sized frames enlarged from tiny thumbnails and shoveling snow. This hearts and berries design will not make the etsy shop cut - it's pretty, but by the time you factor in the envelope, cellophane sleeve, mailer and shipping costs - well it's just not that spectacularly pretty. Pas de wow as they say. The other design, who's finished look is very firmly planted in my creative imagination (how it will look exactly, and the feeling that it will evoke) also did not make the cut yesterday, although I still feel it's design concept is very strong - I'll just need to try painting it again or perhaps use cut paper to illustrate it instead of gouache. Due to the holiday time constraints it will likely only make it to la shop in an art print form (it's part of the red dog yellow dog series of illustrations) and will hopefully (if all goes as planned) end up being my snail mail Christmas card. So secretive. wink.

Just out of the land of bubbles with lemon & orange, wrapped up in my teddy bear soft bath robe and here we go again another busy day at 29 Black Street.

Miss D is waiting patiently for me to get dressed, and get bundled up so that she and I can crunch along narrow snow packed streets, then home to finish shoveling the driveway and thus freeing the 97' teal coloured Ford Escort wagon. We had a lot of snow come down yesterday ... sticky, wet, heavy as bricks snow. Sigh


Saturday, November 22, 2008

Miss Winnie Dixon

We're in the midst of our very first snow storm. Miss D and Bleet are still curled up snug in the nest, I've stoked the fires and poured my second cup of coffee and Sweet Ver, well you can guess where he is - he's here just hangin' with me at the teak topped desk, in his Buddha boy position - basking in the light of my desk lamp - oh how I love that cat.

Just checked my email and another 21 frames (yipee !) so that's 43 frames from these last two projects. Which, let me tell ya is excellenté !! 22 frames from the baby group and now another 21 (and maybe more to come) from the more decor-ish grouping (if you recall I made a request to Monsieur Universe for at least 22 frames s'il vous plait). I guess I know what I'll be doing this stormy day.

I have a few other items of like-to-do's on les agenda this weekend

St. Anthony has been whispering to me that perhaps my (3- eek!) pairs of missing eye glasses might be found in the crawlspace (s). This old house while lacking in closets like other houses of it's era, has two large crawlspaces with sweet little wooden doors. They run the entire length of my bedroom on either side and under the eaves. Fantastic and much needed storage for all those things that I, at this point in life, am remiss to part with. All the maybes and undecideds live here along with seasonal items, luggage, etc. I want to retrieve the few Christmas Holiday decorations that I have, specifically twinkling sparkling lights, wreath etc so this venture should be a good time to practice several rounds of trash bag tango and dare I hope to dream to find les missing spectacles.

make a big pot of leek & potato soup.

draw and paint 2 (well 1 for sure) Christmas card designs for my etsy shop

tidy and clean at least 1 room in this old brick house - the kitchen - it's terrible. How can it be that I am so neat and immaculate in many aspects of my life ?? - anything to do with my work I am a complete & total neat freak yet I let my home go to hell in a hand basket and let me tell ya - she's in hell. I keep hoping and dreaming that one day that other girl, the neat girl, will begin spreading her obsessive perfection into the areas of my life that involve, vacuuming and scrubbing, polishing and spitting. I need a valet or better still a team of invisible mute valet's. wink.

and of course more of .... draw, draw, draw ... frames, frames, frames.

Happy Saturday ! and Bon Voyage to MLou ! who is jetting off tomorrow with a friend for a wee NYC visit. One of my most favourite places, second only to the City of Light ... Sigh. Jealous. Two shows to see, shopping and museums and Sunday dinner reservations at Balthazar. However, she has promised to take copious notes and report every tiny detail so that I may thrill along vicariously, here from my little village by the sea.

oops and another item for la list - shovel paths in the snow

clear, crisp & calm

Friday, November 21, 2008

who's that cat ? running around with you ?

Sweet Oliver

If all goes as planned - she says with bated breath I hope to have Christmas cards avec red envelopes with plans to ship immediately, and also a few new prints in my etsy shop by early next week. I have been SO busy here at the teak topped desk drawing Cute, Sweet & Happy baby themed frames that my busy and often tragic mind has been totally preoccupied. For the most part Ache, Tears, Sadness, Worry & Fret - the whole gang of them have been away (4 wheeling to the camp with many a two four I suspect). I know they'll sneak back at sometime but I've been enjoying this lovely reprieve from angst-filled living and I've been sleeping well.

The big, black velvet chicelet has arrived here atop the teak topped desk and sprawled his chubby fat Nessie-ness body in front of me (and my keyboard). He's come back inside a little early this morning due to a very vocal kitty altercation with a neighbours cat at the end of our driveway. As you may know already whenever Bleet comes inside, from his travels around and adventures outside in our gigantic yard and garden, no matter if he's been gone 15 minutes or several hours. A giant fuss must instantly and dramatically be made. He'll purr madly while I rub and scratch, pat and cuddle and ... simply adore him, because surely we've been sick with longing at his absence. Missy D even gets in on the action which Bleet of course, totally loves.

New rust free oil tank will be installed today by men who call to say that they're coming, actually do arrive and give precise estimates ... sigh, be still my heart.

Clear, crisp, calm and a billion stars in our dark sky.

OMG - Stephen (swoon) Colbert is on Martha Stewart today - cue up the VCR


Thursday, November 20, 2008

from the land of perfect walks

Images from a few weeks back, a sunny low tide weekend early morning. This early morning we awoke to our first snowfal. The first early morning that Bleet stuck his little whiskered nose out into the fresh cool air at 4:50 am and said emphatically No ! I think I'll go lie by the fire instead. Yesterday was a wild and windy cold rainy-turned-to-snow wicked day. A day that aside from our very early morning stroll around this village in darkness Miss D and I chose to stay tucked inside with a fire blazing.

I with my favourite HB mechanical pencil, tracing paper and kneaded eraser and she with her collection of slightly chewed raw hide treats. At 4pm we moved all of our stuff downstairs to the first floor office - a lovely giant old table set up in my living room/dining room space, complete with two luxo lamps and near the fire and television to continue the drawing marathon avec the company of Oprah, Ellen and my recent, totally obsessed, favourite Jon & Kate + 8.

I have a few new lofty goals that I've been rattling around in my head - I do so love a lofty goal, in fact the loftier the better.

1). to put something new in my etsy shop each and every week- a new mini illustration or collage print 2). to change the chapters on this blog's sidebar to read images and to go back to the beginning and change the labels accordingly to describe the images rather than the text. Even though I do babble on everyday about something or other I do think of this blog primarily as a visual journal 3). this one's daunting - even to a girl who excels at, and thrives on, feeling daunted. To create a large format landscape size (coffee table) book here at Blurb with photographs and text (much taken from this blog's history) of my boy Jake, and of course a chapter for Em, Ernst & Lulu, but really mostly about the big red dog who I think about, still, a billion times every day, the dog who changed my life and forever stole my heart. Daunting because I know how I will fuss and labour over every little decision and detail and the book I'd like to create is 40 pages of decisions and little details - but oh what a lovely tribute and what a beautiful keepsake. Sigh.

lavender & patchouli bubbles, down and fleece, mittens and winter boots.

pink skies

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

pink sky in the morning ... sailor's take warning

It's a quiet morning here at 29 Black Street. It's windy and colder. Wintry.

a few odds and sods

50 things you might not know about Barack Obama - he is SO cool
Stephen Colbert (love him) is on the cover of the latest Spider Man comic book
Stephen tries to lure Barack Obama on the show with a signed copy (in Canada)
Fake New York Times - from CBC radio 1's Q
And ... I love this song from the new CD by Las Vegas boys The Killers
Missy D and I have spotted SC and 8 painted plywood reindeer with colourful blinking and twinkling mini lights while out on our evening stroll - 'tis the season.

draw, draw, draw - cute, cuter, cutest new baby themed frames here at the teak topped desk


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

"hey, is there a photo shoot going on" says Mr. Inquisitive and oh so photogenic

Oliver. Almost daily I'll notice the light somewhere inside or outside and I'll grab my camera, begin to fuss and arrange, I'll be focusing and framing and adjusting dials and settings, and just when I'm ready to take a photograph ... I'll say to myself hey, is that a cat in my picture ?

And once again I'll stop to think Merci Mr. Universe. Thank you for sending me the sweetest, funniest, kindest, gentlest, makes me smile all the time cat - Oliver. I didn't pick him - did you know that ? I had recently lost (euphemism for euthanized) my very sick and senior handsome, tabby cat Ernst and my friend Jean at our shelter had a wee kitten available for adoption that was also a perfect striped tabby (Gussie). I decided I might as well adopt two little boy kittens at the same time and Jean chose Oliver (as the second) and delivered both of the kittens to my door. It just shows me that the Universe does have your best interests at hand - even thinking to send me a much needed design & photography assistant. I often think what if both kittens had had personalities like Mr. Aloof - terribly stand off-ish, we barely ever see him (we think he has his own apartment in the basement), he's the fussiest cat ever and would prefer that I always feed him chicken poached lightly in broth or lean cuts of beef cooked just so. But oh ... on those very rare occasions when he does seek out a little bit of my affection, head butting me and slamming his lean soft body into my arm or hand with deep and instantaneous purrs, he's gentle and so handsome, he's like a sleek and miniature striped ocelot, and of course ... we love Gus too. I'm just happy that he arrived here at 29 Black Street with Oliver in tow.

I cut a few branches from the last tree or shrub in our garden that managed this week to still have leaves clinging to it. A big overgrown smoke bush very close to my front door. The shapes and colours of the leaves are beautiful and the light coming in the front door window yesterday made me stop and grab my camera.


Monday, November 17, 2008

the blues of our early morning, sun's not up yet, walk along the water's edge

The blues of the sky and the water and fortunately not necessarily the blues of me and my thoughts. I'm no bluer than I am on any given day, there's always a little twinge of blue in there rattlin' around but today I'm just sippin' my coffee and getting myself mentally geared up for another tres busy and oh so productive week drawing and designing here at the teak topped desk.

I have my week at a glance day planner in front of me (I also have a day at a glance daily planner because we planner types - we can never have too many places to plan), this brand new week, still empty and fresh, waiting for me to fill in all my perfect & neat little jottings of to-dos, must-dos, want-to-dos, dreams, goals and weekly & daily aspirations. Sigh. I'm a girl who could make a full time job out of planning - I love a plan. I love to plan. Wink. So it's back to the nest this early morning (Miss D's sleeping in), with a favourite No. 03 black ink drawing pen, my coffee and this week's still empty pages.

Of course the number 1 item for each day is draw, draw, draw ... and happily draw, draw, draw, but I need to also fit in some of the other quick little bursts of like-to-get-dones - like a 10 min. trash bag tango each and every day, I need to make an appointment to have my eyes checked, order new mats for my upcoming etsy shop prints, scan the PBS weekly schedule to see if there are any documentaries or shows that need recording on my VCR, stack some more wood ....

Check out this week's blog of the week - Sharon Montrose Photography ... sigh

And two videos from another Canadian singer/songwriter gem - Serena Ryder.
I love both these songs and couldn't make up my mind between the two ... (thought Alex might like to add Weak in the Knees to her repertoire - what do you think Alex ??). And me ... well I'm still, and always will be, I'm thinkin', very weak in the knees for that big red Noodle dog.

merci mlou

Sunday, November 16, 2008

early morning walk along the harbour's edge

Sleepy yawn. Big shoulder shrugging stretch. My second mug of coffee and a bath with bubbles and head clearing mint, rosemary, lavender and eucalyptus. Sigh ... I'm tired this morning yet I willingly bounced out of bed at 4:30 am (??) I do believe a glorious and well deserved Sunday afternoon nap avec latest good book is most definitely in order.

It's totally amazing what two girls with a plan, a large maroon borrowed pick-up truck and a wheelbarrow can accomplish in a day... and all the while deep in ongoing, always stimulating, never miss a beat conversation. We removed three large pick up loads of branches and logs and yard debris from my front garden and took them to the place that you take such things - the transfer station (la dump). A neat and organized large open space with a sweet and funny caretaker man - a place where people can bring their yard debris, old wood, shingles and such (and not nearly as scary and testosterone wafting a place as I had pictured in my oh so fertile, ever self conscious, single gal imagination).

A long and fairly leisurely lunch with lots more chat and then onto the 2 remaining cords of fire wood. By 5:15 another cord of wood was beautifully stacked, high and dry inside my sun porch ready and waiting for many a toasty and cozy fire and the remaining cord was totally tucked in, safe and dry, completely covered with the requisite (in these parts) extra-large bright orange tarp.

Post Yard & Garden Tidying/Winter Prep Extravaganza Part II, Miss J and MLou took a stroll with Miss D and I down into the park and along the harbour's edge just as the evening's darkness had begun to settle in, then they packed up the car ready to begin their two hour drive back to the city. A bit more lingering chat at curbside, big hugs and thank you's and a kiss for Miss J and off they went into the night. My guardian angels. Merci MLou

It's another tres busy week beginning today here at 29 Black Street - turning up to 44 (if wishes and dreams all do come true) picture frame thumbnails into full size production drawings. Sigh. We'll be happily ensconced, drawing away, all week long - here at the teak topped desk.

that girl

Saturday, November 15, 2008

cover of the new Land's End catalogue

Perfectly simple and oh so clever. The hallmarks of great graphic design and advertising. Sigh. One of the many, many things that girl and I have in common is a love (love, love) of fleece. We love the colours, we love the softness and we love the warmth and coziness so this image seemed a perfect one for today - and of course we also share a love of the oh so simple and tres clever design. Sigh.

Yes that girl's arriving again for another visit. Uh Huh ! MLou is due here at 29 Black Street along with Missy J and sugar donuts oh anytime past 8:30 this morning. She's putting her husband on a plane, back once again to his job overseas and since the airport is located kind of, sort of, on the way to our house it's about (1/10th of the 2 hour drive in the proper direction) and she knows that this busy designer girl has recently had another 2 cords of fire wood dumped in her front garden.

She and I pitched and stacked 2 cords of wood in 2.5 hours two weekends ago and that with a fair bit of chatting thrown in for good measure. Her rational for today - she's in the car, Jigs is with her, she's pointed in the right direction and she's up very early and drinking coffee - so why not keep on drivin', have a visit and pitch and stack a little wood, ensuring that there's another large item removed from my ever long list of winter prep must do's ... how could I argue with that I ask ? We also have the loan of my neighbour Roger's big maroon pick up truck, if we like, so that we can load up all the neatly piled and bundled small logs and branches (yard and garden debris) from les recent chainsaw extravaganza.

Yet another two more potential contractor handy men (what am I up to now ? 5 or 6) have fallen by the way side . They say that they're coming although they never, ever will give you a firm when (which is completely irritating when you yourself are a busy person working always to deadline) they don't show up, they never call and they're unable to give you even a ballpark estimate of the cost of the job. Who needs them ? I think to myself ... imagine if I ran my business that way. I shudder to think. I have decided from now on - I am only working with contractor - handy men types who conduct themselves in a professional manner. Who run their business as I run mine. Two strikes and they're out. I am SO tired of having to pester and beg people to do work for me ... or to have to call and remind them of my job. If my job isn't important to them ... then ... Zzzzzzz! I will zap them with my disappearing ray gun and they instantly will be gone forever from the dark recesses of this ever busy mind. Smug smirk.

So ... this early morning I say a big Amen and thank goodness for friends and neighbours, do-it-yourself guides and for the one or two handy men contractor types that run a tight ship - with a big shout out to Vinney our local Chimney Sweep. You rock Vinny !

... and Shari is the winner of our most recent giveaway. Congratulations ! Please email me and let me know which item from les shop you would like. Happy Saturday all.

new stuff !

Friday, November 14, 2008

red dog, yellow dog, teeny black kitten

Jake, Emma Jane Louise, Bleet

love ... love ... love

Hey ! there's new stuff in my etsy shop and a special gift with purchase promotion - by any two illustration prints, photo art print cards or combo of and receive a miniature Tiny Life - Big Heart print as a gift, a tiny token of appreciation.

I know for sure (not that I ever doubted it really) that I am SO doing what I'm supposed to be doing 'cause I could not wait to get up this morning. Couldn't wait to sit here in the dark and tell you all about the new stuff in my etsy shop, and how thrilling it is to finally get some of my illustrations (in print form) up and out there. I can't wait to have my bath of bubbles and scent and grab Missy D to scoot around this little village in darkness as she partakes in her most favourite and always intense, early morning, nasal investigations - hmmmm ...who's been here through the night ? I suspect she's wondering hmmmm ... allow me pause awhile to smell the ground for several minutes. I can't wait to get back home, do up last night's dishes, tidy up the kitchen quickly so that I can rush back up to les office and settle back in at the teak topped desk. Sigh.

I'm also excited because I have oh, just a few bazillion other ideas for new paintings and collages which I cannot wait to create and get even more illustration prints up in les shop. Customer No Uno picked 23 frames from my recent massive collection of baby themed thumbnails (uh huh !) - I wish I could show you but they, of course, are top top secret - they are SO sweet - if I do say so myself and will be so fun to draw into final full size frame drawings (that's 23 x final frame drawing fee !$! uh-huh, uh-huh) And ... I'm in the midst of creating another big bunch of thumbnails (with an end of day today deadline) for another collection of frames that's even way more up my alley and hoping (please) for at least another 22 final frame drawings (remember mon request Monsieur Universe). Mama's gonna be tied, contentedly, to the teak topped desk for awhile now.

So ... I'm feeling Pretty Proud of Moi ... that this week I also managed to squeeze in a few new etsy listings, order necessary supplies to go with (cellophane sleeves and larger mailers), sent some $$ to quiet Mr. R. Canada, created 2 very well received full colour petite posters (one for our Animal Shelter Holiday Fundraiser and another for our little village's Christmas by the Sea Festivities - my client BFF Harry who's the unofficial mayor of this wee seaside place. He and I traded - I created a poster for him and Le Petite Chamber of Commerce and he's going to help me clean out my basement - no question I got the better deal on that one (smug grin).

Big, happy, sigh ... I do declare I'm on a freakin' roll ... there's no doubt about it.

* and hey ... don't forget we're having a giveaway ... today's the last day to leave a comment here (or email me) to enter. Any item (including new stuff) from les etsy shop could be yours ! Miss D and Sweet Oliver will draw a name very early tomorrow morning.

detail from 8.5 x 11 print - Good Things Come

St. Anthony

Thursday, November 13, 2008

still life avec treasures

Sleepy sigh. Hhhhmmmm. Big swig of coffee with lots of milk and a tiny bit of sugar. Patchouli and citrus bubbles and scent wafting around the second floor of this old brick house - it's another early morning here at 29 Black Street.

I have lost, or misplaced not one but two favourite pairs of glasses, and not just favourite pairs but actual pairs - you know proper prescription and all. I'm a nearly needs bifocals gal and I'm very nearsighted and because of these particular eyes of mine I need to take my glasses off to do any close work and thus am taking them off and putting them down somewhere, oh - a bazillion times a day. And this is how I've lost not just one but two pairs of glasses. Currently I am wearing an old (5, 6 years maybe more) pair of wire frames that are so bent that they sit on the bridge of my nose in a tres askew fashion only further accentuating my exhisting What Not To Wear ensemble. Sigh. Yes, trendy cool designer -ish frames are on the lam somewhere, someplace in this old house.

Finding these missing eye glasses has finally given me the impetuous to clean up my messy house. Don't know if any of you saw Oprah yesterday. Peter Walsh (declutter master & guru) has a 6 month plan to help you, me ... all of us that need help to "Clean Up Your Messy House" and hopefully along the way find my most beloved glasses in the process. Says Peter "If you stick with us for six months, I guarantee that you will have a clutter-free, organized home that is the sanctuary and haven that you deserve." Here's a link to sign on to the 6 month plan. Beginning with 10 minutes a day ... now come on ... who doesn't have 10 minutes a day. Set a timer.

You know a few of the rooms in my house are quite neat, fairly organized, are painted beautiful colours and really only contain things that I love and they do feel very sanctuary-esque and oh I do so love that feeling. Who wouldn't want to feel that in every room of your home (not to mention how much better this lovely old brick house will show when she finally goes on the market next spring for I SO want her to find a new owner who will love her as much as I have). I'm planning to achieve that sanctuary, haven feeling everywhere and (a bonus) to find both pairs of missing spectacles, especially my dark brown, smaller frame eye glasses. The ones that have the snap-on sun glass frames so I'm not always squinting in glaring sunlight and therefore accelerating les wrinkling process immensely, (wink) the glasses that perch perfectly up in my hair when I take them off so there is never a need to lay them down, somewhere, someplace where they will become lost again ... or stepped on.

I've called in a little extra help from St. Anthony the Patron Saint of Lost Things.

Something's lost and can't be found
Please, St. Anthony, look around.

Here's the perfect tune to sing while you're doin' your 10 minute Trash Bag Tango - toss (or even better), recycle and donate.

illustration love

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

pages from two children's books recently loaned from our little library

More illustration love & inspiration - this time by artist, author and illustrator J. Otto Seibold. His books also have lots of very groovy, simple hand drawn type. I am a huge fan of both his quirky, silly and always fun illustrations and amazingly whimsical hand drawn typography. He illustrates and co-authors children's books along with Vivian Walsh. A selection of those titles can be found here.

I must really get cracking this early morning, bundle up and grab Miss Dixon and head out for our stroll around this little seaside village in darkness. Well actually the sun will begin to come up while we're out. Sigh. Another big, juicy, completely up my alley and with potential mega numbers of frame drawings, project begins this early morning on the teak topped desk. I'm just going to throw out the number 22, I would like to get at least 22 final frame drawings from this next project Mr. Universe ... if you're listening (*note when making a request to the Universe it's very important to always state the words at least - you never ever want to cap a request to the Universe, you always state a minimum amount, as of course, any amount over that then becomes a lovely and always appreciated bonus).

I'm having lunch out today. Shut up ! No you shut up ! Yes, it's true I'm actually leaving this old brick house for something other than a walk with Miss D and I am very much looking forward to it. Helen & I are going to a little seafood-ey place in the next village up along the coast, a 15 minute drive from here. I hope to be back at the teak topped desk before 2pm this afternoon.

Buddha boy (Oliver) is here hangin' with me this early morning. He's in his usual spot, sitting right beside me in the pool of light coming from my small desk lamp, eyes closed, purring softly and looking oh so handsome. He has the softest calico coat and he always smells just like fresh laundry.

Merci Universe for sending me such a wonderful sweet cat.

* and hey ... we're having a giveaway ... be sure to leave a comment here to enter.

unspeakable love

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

an early morning walk around our little village

There is a sacredness in tears.
They are not the mark of weakness, but of power.

They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues.
They are messengers of overwhelming grief...and unspeakable love.

Washington Irving

After more than eight straight days of uninterrupted and fairly unbridled happiness and contentment (but who's counting) Tears came back home along with Ache & Sadness. I always get lulled into thinking that this time they're gone for good.
Silly me. I don't know why I can't just learn to live with them.

It's a bit of a chicken or egg situation. I'm never sure which comes first - it's either I'm missing that dog which then makes me feel sad or maybe I'm feeling sad which of course then makes me miss that dog (Mr. big red comfort & joy). I love you Noodle and oh how we miss you (Miss D and I, and Nessie too - 'cause remember Bleet's lost his Mama).

Lots and lots of drawings on the teak topped desk, turning my crab apple syrup into ruby red jelly today, getting artwork ready to send to the printer - I'm adding 4 new illustrated prints to my etsy shop later this week and we'll be pausing at 11 am to remember all the soldiers who fought in the wars all over this world.

* and hey ... we're having a giveaway ... be sure to leave a comment here to enter.