Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Fairy Tale Note/Sketchbook Giveaway

I am so excited to be a part of Carla Sonheim's 2014 Year of the Fairy Tale online class, and have begun gathering some of the supplies we will be using. But I'm going to need some help making a choice and that's where you get to play!

Imagine my delight when I came across a wonderful green linen portfolio with a clipboard and solid backing to sketch, write and drawn on, AND four separate roomy sections to store finished artwork or work in progress. A magnetic closure holds it all together. It is in beautiful condition and only cost $ 2.99 at the thrift store!


I began to look through my stash of note/sketchbooks for something that would complement it. I figured at least one for notes would make sense, and pulled out a simple one that looked very efficient and matched the portfolio perfectly. Slim, lined paper... it would do the job.

Then I found a "Butterfly in Spring" note/sketchbook with smooth, unlined cream paper that takes writing and sketching well. A ribbon acts as a page marker, there is an envelope at the back for keepsakes and a sturdy elastic keeps it all together.

I came across another one a friend gave me quite a while back simply because it reminded them of me (a lovely thought and much appreciated.)  It has a thicker, smooth, cream lined paper, and a ribbon to mark the pages too.

Last but not least is a 2013 diary another friend gave me last Christmas. The paper is lined, cream, acid-free, rich and velvety to write on. It has an sturdy envelope at the back and two ribbons to mark the pages.

I'm spoiled for choice! Which one do you like the best? 


Leave me a comment below, and tell me which note/sketchbook you would choose, and why. On January 15, 2014 I will randomly select a name as the winner and send them the following as a "Thank You" for joining in the fun ~

*  "Butterfly in Spring" (approx 3 1/2" x 5 1/2") note/sketchbook 
(the one of the left of the photo) 
* One of my "Wild Things" (in the colour scheme of their choice)
because inside each and every one of us, 
there is still a wild spirit... dancing


Friday, 27 December 2013

Time between the Years

I love these last days between Christmas and New Year's - quiet, gentle days of nothingness, of introspection... what I call the "time between the years..." when I look back on what this past year has been, and gaze forward into the delicious possibility of the year ahead.

What do I want 2014 to be about? How do I want it to feel? Some of the year is already scheduled: the first two months a hard slog to bring to completion eight months of bookkeeping that took over my life last summer. It will be good to have that behind me (and I am still working on being grateful for all of the many lessons and insights it has given me...)

I am signed up for Carla Sonheim's Year of the Fairy Tale which I am beyond excited about, thrilled to devote an entire year towards illustration and story telling with a wonderful teacher and some fun and inspiring fellow artists. It may be just what I need to finish my Children's book now...

I am fine-tuning some other art goals, returning to some, expanding on others. Keeping a Visual Journal of the year as usual, which in turn helps me improve my sketching skill I'd also like to re-learn the basics of watercolour painting for sketching purposes.

I'm considering working through all of Julia Cameron's books back-to back, starting again for the umpteenth time "The Artist's Way" while all the time acknowledging the sheer enormity of the task I am considering setting for myself...  still one of my greatest life lessons... pacing myself...

I am still searching for my word of the year... although I know that HEALTH is ultimately what it will be about. But the word alone feels incomplete, it doesn't have enough action in it. I still don't own it and thankfully I have a few more days to deliberate. Walking, stretching, juicing, drinking lots of water, and healthy, homemade meals are just a few of the things that will inform my days.

Yes, there are still priorities to set and decisions to be made. Thank goodness I have five more days...

But in these in-between days, when one year is undergoing completion and the other not yet begun, I am deliciously suspended in time, and free to let my thoughts wander and pick and choose from the myriad of possibilities of how I want the next year of my life to unfold,  while all the time knowing, whatever plans I make, none will be as wonderful as what life truly has in store for me in the year ahead...

What lies ahead for you? What are your dreams for 2014? What do you want to feel?
I'd love to know...

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Summer Art Camp

These last three weeks I have been playing in Carla Sonheim's online Summer Art Camp. Immersed in creativity, inspiration, ideas, exercises, amazing teachers and fellow artists. Sheer, wonderful fun! It has awakened the part of me that has been laying dormant as I slowly re-learn how to regain my life in a healthier, more balanced way.

Not only am I looking at the world through wide-open artist's eyes again, my mind is brimming with new ideas, enthusiastically embracing new art forms and best of all, gradually bringing order to the chaos that my loft studio has degenerated into since it was abandoned last winter.

I am organising in a completely different way now. Gone are the days where everything has to be in sight. Everything is being sorted and housed away, labelled for easy access. Surfaces are being cleared completely so that I can begin any project, in any medium at a moment's notice. Boxes are being brought out of storage and used for specific purposes. I picked up two old metal tackle boxes yesterday, one at least to be repainted and requisitioned for art supplies, the other for sewing tools and accessories.

I can't wait to share with you what comes out of this space, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually...

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Growing Old Graciously

A while ago Tony brought me back a magnificent bouquet of tulips from the garden of a client where he was working. The tulips began as tightly closed buds and transformed, day by day, into luscious opulent blossoms basking in fully glory in the sunshine streaming through the window.

Each day brought a new beauty, until slowly, one at a time, each flower, having held itself in complete openness for what seemed like would be forever, gradually began to shed its petals, one by one. And in the latter days a newer beauty emerged from the skeletal lines created by the stalks and the starkness of the remaining petals drying on the stem.

I will leave the flowers on the table until their life cycle is done, because, as I myself begin to become more aware of the changes in my body and the signs of aging take place amongst myself and my friends, I am acknowledging that we too have a certain beauty at every stage of our lives. Maybe not the expectancy of youth, or the bursting forth of our stellar years, or the bloom as we come into maturity, but still a quiet and majestic beauty all of our own, if we are willing to see, and celebrate, it.

Monday, 22 April 2013

20 Steps Outside my Door

As the early dawn light chases away the shadows of the night, there is a far away look in the old gnomes eyes. seeing back into the world he left behind...

 "There is another world,
But it is in this one."
- William Butler Yates

Here are some of the other bloggers doing the same challenge...
why not check them out and join in the fun !

Sunday, 21 April 2013

From one Journaller to Another

Sometimes the most beautiful gifts come to you when you least expect it, and you had no idea until they do, how much you need it. Sifting through Facebook this evening a post came up with my name on it. Below was this photograph:

Strangely enough I recognized the kind of notebook immediately. They were the ones I used to teach my Journalling classes to kids. As I read what was written, tears began streaming down my face... and then I started sobbing. I don't even know why, but I couldn't stop.

Journalling has always been my saving grace over the years. It's where I go to write about my days, to plan and organise, to make lists of things to do, to capture images and ideas. But it's underlying purpose is a safe place to go to discover what I feel, to sift through the confusion, try to figure things out, pour out the pain and a haven to shelter from life's storms. It's where I go whenever I am lost and I need to find me. My journal is my most precious belonging and it goes everywhere with me, and is always, always there for me.

That a seven year old's first entry into her new journal twelve years ago be about a nice lady that she met at a garage sale, is quite lovely. That the nice lady that she met happened to be me... I don't have the words to say what this means to me today. But I know that it is precious beyond belief.

Thank you, Teagan, Thank you. You will never know how much I needed to see this. I didn't, but I do. I would be lying if I said that I completely remembered you. My fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue has put paid to many finer details of my memory these last ten years. But I can promise you that I will never forget you now.

And know that I will be writing about this, tonight, in my journal.

Friday, 19 April 2013

Herb Gathering

Wandering around the property, foraging for young, tender dandelion leaves and digging roots, gathering pepper cress for tonight's salad and looking for the elusive yellow dock for tomorrow's class. Time for some lemon balm tea...

Monday, 15 April 2013

20 Steps Outside my Door

"Can also be used as a Finger Bowl..."
Any guess as to who's the culprit???

 "There is another world,
But it is in this one."
- William Butler Yates

Here are some of the other bloggers doing the same challenge...
why not check them out and join in the fun !

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Nature's Abundance

In the last few years I have often thought fleetingly on the sheer glut of food that nature provides free for the taking. Just here on the small island I call home, succulent blackberries, elderflowers, salmonberries abound. Huckleberries are prolific. Apple laden trees display their fruit to people passing by. Plum trees hang swollen, ripe for the picking.

Yet seldom do we take advantage of it. Preferring instead the ready-made, vacuum-packaged items at our local supermarket, or occasionally buying from farmers' markets and roadside stands.

I used to wonder at what point Nature, so ignored, would simply not bother anymore. But I know better. Nature, unlike us, keeps giving. Regardless. Season after season. Year after year whether anyone notices or not.

As I wander further along my path of learning about the medicinal properties of the wild plants of Coastal British Columbia, I am amazed at just how much more giving and abundant nature is than I first imagined. It's impossible to learn about the medicinal properties of a plant without venturing into its nutritional aspect. All of a sudden, the much-maligned dandelion has tremendous health benefits, it's young leaves delicious in salads, its sunny yellow flowers a culinary delight as pan fried fritters!

The nasty nettle, cursed for its sting, is much sought after for many medicinal uses. The leaves provide an abundance of healthy dishes from soups, to steamed greens and scruptious nettle spanakopita. And that's just the beginning.

Venturing into edible plants of the area, weeds become gourmet salad, the budding maple trees food for the table, and then there is the ocean, full of nutritious seaweed.

There is so much to learn. So much to explore. And so very, very much to be grateful for...

Monday, 8 April 2013

20 Steps Outside my Door

I just got back from being away on Mudge Island for 3 1/2 weeks and the first thing I did today was take a walk in my garden. When I am working amongst the plants with the sun on my back and my hands deep in rich, fertile soil I feel I am in another world.

 "There is another world,
But it is in this one."
- William Butler Yates
Here are some of the other bloggers doing the same challenge... why not check them out!

Thursday, 4 April 2013

A Year of Healing with West Coast Herbs

Last Saturday I attended the second month of Heather MacLeod's "A Year of Healing with West Coast Herbs." What a simply amazing day! We came together over nettle and blackberry leaf tea, sharing our previous month's experiences, and how already the course was having a profound effect on each of us. We then looked over the excellent handout detailing the wild plants and homework for the month ahead. Weeds were on the menu, in more ways than one.

Piling into Anne's van we took off, high in spirits and drunk on the sunny weather, in search of the perfect nettle patch. A kind gentleman had offered his land for the taking. Gathering nettles in the sunshine, sharing feelings with fellow gatherers, to the gentle sounds of Patsy Kline coming from the landowner's radio, will not soon be forgotten...

Bags filled to the brim, we made our way back to class. Heather had suggested a pot luck lunch this time around. While snacking on goat's cheese and Anne's honey wafer crackers, and Linda's delectable smoked salmon, capers and cream cheese pita breads, we chopped and sliced, sauteed and stirred.

For the very first time I learned the proper way to use Phyllo pastry. Seven women in a kitchen and not a cook too many! Soon the Nettle spanatopika was ready to go in the oven. 

Back outside into the sunshine, this time to learn about, identify and harvest common weeds for a nutritious salad.

Lunch was simply delicious... I had brought a coleslaw to which Heather added a delicious dressing made from Anne's blackberry vinegar...

Judy brought homemade pie casing with a jar of her mother's homemade lemon curd, a perfect end to a perfect feast! Unfortunately I didn't get a photo, so maybe she'll make more for next month... we certainly hinted enough...

But the day was not over. Gathering the plants we had harvested during the previous month we learned how to put together the makings of a tincture, and then all worked together to make a wonderful, soothing healing salve.

Just like the day was to my spirit...

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Part of my Process

At the beginning of the year I joined Carla Sonheim's wonderful "2013 - Year of the Giraffe" course - an amazing opportunity to immerse ourselves all year long on one subject, exploring it in as many different ways and with as many different mediums as we could. I was beside myself with excitement. I couldn't wait to get started...

 Blind Contour
Gesture Drawings

Then, true to form, I deliberated. A lot. Okay, an awful lot. This time it was months... For the right sketchbook. I freely admit that this is a particular neurosis of mine, and finally, after a very long time and due to the kindness of a my dear friend, Janie, have come to accept that it is in fact, in her words: "part of my process." 

 One Liners

During the previous three months, a few odd (please note this is a figure of speech... and not a critique of my sketching skills... I hope) sketches did find their way into some of my pre-existing (and equally deliberated at the time) sketchbooks and journals, but honesty dictates that I cannot really count them as they were not, as such, in THE Giraffe Sketchbook. But thought I would include them, you know, as "part of my process."

 Random One Liner a.k.a. "So that's where the Xmas lights went..."

  So how long are their necks, anyway?

  When in doubt... add another one!

I do this... I take forever to get started on something, and I quite often abandon projects without giving them a further thought, mid-stitch or stroke. Ignoring them blithely for weeks, months, even years on end. Then one day... they resurface and give birth to a myriad of inspired pieces without further ado. It's "part of my process..."

"Just checkin' in..."

Anyhow, today I sat outside on the deck in the sunshine and started my Year of the Giraffe... I will, as I have with everything in my life, go at my own pace, doing things in my own way. And I will learn, and enjoy and be inspired again... and again... you see, it's part of my process!

What's your part of the process?

Monday, 1 April 2013

Picking weeds for supper

I spent last Saturday having a wonderful time with an amazing group of women led by Heather Macleod teaching the second month of my "A year of Healing with West Coast Herbs" course. I'll write about it in more detail later, but tonight on the way back from the beach I thought I would pick some young dandelion leaves to put in my salad. The search led me to some Pepper Cress... and there right beside it I found some Miner's Lettuce! Lo and behold in searching for more I soon came across some Chickweed... and suddenly I had a bunch of nutritious, tasty, mineral filled greens for my supper...

Last night we had steamed nettles with olive oil, pepper and grated Asiago cheese... I could get used to this wild crafting and eating!

20 Steps Outside my Door

I have decided to continue with the theme of last week's blog photo challenge, here is another world I found when stepping outside my door, here on Mudge Island which is my home... my world, for another week.

"There is another world,
But it is in this one."
- William Butler Yates
Here are some of the other bloggers doing the same challenge... why not check them out!

Thursday, 28 March 2013

A Year of Healing with West Coast Herbs

A little over a month ago Tony and I were at our local library and I noticed that there was a Herb Talk beginning shortly. The speaker was Heather Macleod, the wonderful teacher who I spent evenings with in her home last winter for a series of talks about the healing properties of herbs. Tony and I decided to stay for her talk. We had a wonderful evening and, before I knew it, two days later I was attending the first in a year long series of workshops designed to learn about, identify, harvest and process 50 wild plants of the West Coast of Canada.

One of my life-long dreams has been to connect more fully with the land and learn how to treat and feed myself, my family and later on, those in need. And here it was, opening up for me. And I remember: Good things take time... Great things happen like lightening.

Each month, we learn about new plants, go on a walk to identify them, learn when to harvest them for their strongest properties, and how to do so ethically to ensure their continued growth for future generations.

We learn to dry and store them for later use, making teas, infusions or decoctions.

During the month we harvest our own plants and then learn how to process them into tinctures, salves or creams at the next class.

The last week I have spent foraging to gather what I need for this weekend's class. I head off into the forest, savouring the fresh earth smalls all around me, the dappled sunlight on my body, the breeze in my hair. I marvel at the sheer glory that nature reveals when we take a moment to pause, and wander, and appreciate.  An hour or two passes. Unnoticed. I am where I belong. At home with myself.