Thanks for stopping by my blog. Here I will be posting information about my creative process, inspiration, tutorials and day-to-day activities that make me who I am. I hope you enjoy it, come back often, follow, and invite your friends as well. Click on the painting to your right to be directed to my website.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
by Maya Angelou

A free bird leaps on the back
Of the wind and floats downstream
Till the current ends and dips his wing
In the orange suns rays
And dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks down his narrow cage
Can seldom see through his bars of rage
His wings are clipped and his feet are tied
So he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings with a fearful trill
Of things unknown but longed for still
And his tune is heard on the distant hill for
The caged bird sings of freedom.

The free bird thinks of another breeze
And the trade winds soft through
The sighing trees
And the fat worms waiting on a dawn-bright
Lawn and he names the sky his own.

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams
His shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
His wings are clipped and his feet are tied
So he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings with
A fearful trill of things unknown
But longed for still and his
Tune is heard on the distant hill
For the caged bird sings of freedom.

Friday, February 18, 2011


Solitude.  It's not really the same as being alone or lonely.  It's a chosen state of mind which allows one to reflect, grow, and reach toward something great. As winter nears an end (hopefully), I am using the last of it's quiet energy to reflect and embrace it's wisdom.  Solitude allows the quieting of the mind, and a connection to powers and forces greater than us.  It is in this quiet I am able to connect with myself on a more soulful level, and move forward into the spring with new life.

Originally, I couldn't think what to name this piece.  I have since decided on 'Solitude', as it reflects my current state of mind. The tree sits in rest, stillness, waiting for the warmth of the spring's sun to signal a readiness to blossom.  All the buds (ideas, groundwork) were formed last year, and have sat dormant over the cold winter months- now anticipating their growth, as the Earth Mother begins to bring her grand plan to fruition.

“Language... has created the word "loneliness" to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word "solitude" to express the glory of being alone.”

~Paul Tillich quotes

Monday, February 14, 2011

"Love, Your Valentine"...slush in my ear, and Chinese water torture

The history of Valentine's day is not entirely clear.  Some express that this day is named after a priest who served in the Roman Empire during the reign of Claudius II (around 270 AD).  Claudius believed that single men made better soldiers, and had banned marriage for young men in the hopes of building a stronger army.  This law did not prevent people from falling in love, however.  As such, Valentine took pity on the young men and married them secretly.  When Claudius found out, Valentine was sentenced to death.

Another version of the story (or perhaps more likely a continuation of the story) is that Valentine, while imprisoned, fell in love with the jailer's daughter.  Before being executed, he signed his last love letter to her, "Your Valentine". 

So why February 14th?  After Valentine's death, word of his story spread and people began referring to him as St. Valentine (I'm sure the story now is much more romantic a notion than what actually occurred, after all- nothing spreads faster than the story of someone else's tragedy).  By the Middle Ages, the Romans held a tradition where by on  a special day, young men could give notes of affection to the women they wished to formally see.  The month of February was already associated with love, and by this time Valentine (referred to as a 'Patron Saint'),was believed to over see (spiritually) the festival of love which was held every February 14th.  There have been valentine's found dating back to the early 1400's!
*heavy sigh* I love a good tragedy/love story.  The basis of the tradition of Valentine's Day is so pure and lovely, I do find myself a bit annoyed by the commercialism of it all.  That is why I help my children make their valentine cards.  In keeping with my 'going green' motto for the year, we baked cookies and decorated them to go with the handmade valentines. For my daughter's class, we made little paper envelopes to hold the cookies.  Foolish me, forgot that two children times two classes equals 50 valentines!!  We did it though- our very own little valentine sweat-shop.

Let me be clear.  The valentine process in this house took a few days.  It's been emotional to say the least, and by the time I washed the last of the icing off the wall last night (don't ask), I was exhausted...

Which reminds me of a brief tutorial for Valentine's Day.

I first saw these cubes with Victorian images, and thought to myself, "self, why not put images from your own family".  So I scanned and printed off wedding pictures and images from my ancestors.  I mean, why not celebrate the relationships that made ME possible?!

~two milk cartons per cube (same size, I used 1 litre cartons).
~white glue, a dish, water & old paint brush
~acrylic paint (I used red and burnt umber)
~gel medium (optional)
~spray varnish
~crackle medium (optional)
~masking tape or packing tape

  1. Measure across the bottom of the carton.
  2. Starting at the base of the carton, measure up the side the same width as the bottom and mark.
  3. Cut the carton all the way around.
  4. Repeat for the second carton.  You should have two pieces that are as high as they are wide.
  5. Set one carton into the other so that you create the cube (you may wish to put rice or dried beans in the cube to weigh it down).
  6. Tape the edges closed.
  7. Mix equal parts white glue and water in an old dish and apply strips of newsprint (paper mache) over the entire cube to add strength.
  8. Allow to dry, then paint desired base colour.  Set aside.
  9. OPTIONAL: you may wish to use crackle medium at this point (as per product instructions) and apply a second colour of paint to your block.
  10. Trim the images to the desired size (I printed my images on to photo paper to make them water resistant).
  11. Using either glue or gel medium, attach images to the cubes.  Let dry.
  12. Spray with clear varnish.  Let dry.
  13. OPTIONAL: you may also apply crackle medium at this stage.  Once dry, use a brown colour to rub over the surface to give an aged appearance. You may also wish to apply another coat of varnish over this antique finish.
That's it! 

...So this morning, with their school bags bulging with cookies and valentines, my children set off to celebrate the day with their schoolmates, but not before first taking pity on their poor ol' Mum and agreeing to be MY valentines.  After an emotional roller coaster of a week, I was glad to see them off smiling and happy.

It's a wet snowy/rainy day here.  I gleefully waved goodbye to my daughter as her bus drove off (my son walks) and started off to get the mail and to buy milk.  With a smile on my face, a lightly walked up the street, through the slush with wet snow sticking to my face.  It is warm and my heart was full of love, so it didn't bother me one bit.

As I was approaching a teenage boy walking toward me, I saw his face fill with alarm.  He tensed up.  He turned his body and lifted his one leg.  It was all happening so fast...I suddenly heard the sound of a bus coming from behind me and felt the cold 'splat' of slush hit the entire left side of my body (and then saw it hit the entire right side of the boy).  There was no where to go.  Our options were wet snow bank, or slush in the ear. Thankfully, I was wearing a long, waterproof coat and despite the warm weather had put on a toque (honestly, I was just too lazy to do my hair).  My thought while this is happening- "crap".  We each froze in our tracks, looked at each other, and then laughed.  After the valentine fiasco, if I didn't laugh I'd cry.

It was one of those moments where a person has a choice.  I could get angry about something that has already passed, I have no control over, and cannot be 'fixed', OR delight in the fact that it is warm enough to have puddles and slush, I'm alive and well enough to be walking in it, and for that brief moment, shared laughter with a stranger.  Not really a difficult choice at all, really.

I continued on my walk, chuckling at myself and the situation.  I got to the store, where my previous puddle experience made the store owner laugh (as she observed the 'splat' marks up my jacket).  In that moment I was so glad I chose to see the humour in the situation, in doing so had brought laughter to someone else.  I was, none-the-less, much  more cautious on the way home of on coming traffic.  Having dodged a few more potential slushy disasters, I confidently walked under the branches of a large tree which somehow managed to drip large fat drops of water exactly in the same hole of my knitted cap, in the centre of my forehead, 5 times in a row as I walked.  How is that even possible?  It was like Chinese water torture.

I eventually made it home. My paints wet up past the ankles, my coat dripping (at least on one side), my smile slightly fading. Then I opened my mail...

I received two lovely valentines, from artsy ladies I've never met.  What an absolute delight.  People, in another country, spent the time lovingly creating mini works of art, and then mailed them to a stranger, for the sole purpose of spreading a little love.  Wow.  Isn't that what the day is about? Just as I had shared a story to bring a smile to someone else, people had shared their efforts with me.

I suppose the moral of my story is this: even if your day sucks, even if you're feeling exhausted, drained, tired, and fed up, even if you have slush in your ear or have been a victim of water torture, see the joy and share it.

Your Valentine.

Friday, February 11, 2011


I'm not a huge egg fan. 

With that cleared up, I would like to share a little something with you...

The other day, a friend and I (and her beautiful, sweet, perfect, baby girl) went for coffee and a late lunch.  To my surprise, the cafe that we went to had a variety of gluten free options and the owner seemed very informed as to what I should and shouldn't eat with my sensitivity.  All the food is made on sight, and everything looked delicious.  I finally settled on the quiche.  What was interesting about this particular quiche is that she used potatoes for the crust. 

Maybe this is not a novel thing. Maybe everyone in the world is aware of this except my friend and I.  Needless to say, when Friday night came and my tired (and emotional) children returned from school, I decided to attempt the potato-crust quiche myself.  I looked in my 'end-of-the-week' refrigerator (code for  I need to get groceries) to see what exactly I would be working with.  I managed to throw the following together.

2 large potatoes
6 eggs
2/3 cup grated extra old cheddar cheese
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
a few sprigs of fresh thyme, stem removed
1-2 leaves fresh sage (finally chopped)
1/4 cup cream
salt & pepper to taste
butter (mmm...butter...)

Step One:
Peel and wash potatoes.  Slice thinly (as you would for scalloped potatoes).  Layer in a large, greased pie pan. Dot with butter.

Step Two:
In a large bowl, combine eggs, cream, onion, green peppers, salt & pepper,  and chopped herbs.  Whisk well.

Step Three:
Pour egg mixture over potatoes, top with grated cheese, and bake in a moderate oven for approximately 50 minutes (or until egg is cooked through and potatoes are soft).

Step Four;
Stuff your face.  It turned out really well, and my children gobbled it up (even having seconds).

The possibilities are as unlimited as with a regular quiche recipe.  This would taste great with feta cheese, red peppers, and any number of other ingredients that aren't in my fridge on a Friday afternoon.

Try it out, and enjoy!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

One Thrifty Gal!

It has been ages since I stepped foot in a thrift store.  Not sure why, I actually find them interesting.  I was fortunate enough to go on a day without my lovely children.  This, of course, meant that I actually got to LOOK at what was there. 

I didn't go in with any expectations.  More of an opinion that if I am meant to find something, it will present itself.  That said, I was a bit disappointed (at first) to see how picked over some of the shelves had been.  In the back of my mind I was silently hoping to find some accessories for my dining room, specifically decanters and the like (of which there are USUALLY many).  Alas, none to be found. However....

I did find a lovely hand-carved teak bowl and some little carved wooden bowls that I decided wanted to come home with me.  You may be thinking to yourself, "wooden bowls make me think of Grandma's rec room".  You would be correct in thinking that, only because they were so popular in the 70's.  However, over the years I see them cycle back into the home style magazines, and figured at $8 for the lot, mine (especially the $4 teak bowl) were a great deal.

Along the way I managed to snag a big bag of wooden beads for $1- no intended purpose yet, I just never seem to have them when I want them.  I also found a heavy duty winter jacket which looks brand new (which I DID need) for a whopping $35.

Now, before I reveal my next find, I need to tell you a little bit about myself.  I never throw away magazines. Seriously.  Home and garden magazines and 'How To' books are my absolute favorites, and I (for some unknown reason) commit nearly every image and technique to memory.  This is, admittedly, a sad reality and such information is taking up valuable real estate in my grey matter- evidence of which can be found in the fact that I have a hard time remembering my phone number and postal code.   That said, a few years ago, when 'shabby chic' was all the rage, I had purchased a book entitled, 'Flea Market Make-Overs'.  I ended up finding the book somewhat useless, since my luck at flea markets, garage sales, and thrift stores had never yielded me such treasures as this author...that is until yesterday.

From the book, 'Flea Market Make-Overs'
Whilst poking about this large thrift store, I found something that made my heart stop...the stuff of thrift store legends...the breakfast tray.  (What?! You were expecting something more exciting?)

I KNEW in my mind, I had seen something very similar in one of my books...and sure enough, here it was.  Page 136- 137 in the above mentioned book, is the breakfast tray I had committed to memory in hopes of one day finding. I've scanned the image (and claim no rights to it, please don't send me to jail).

Today was my day!  I found the following bamboo breakfast tray for $5, and have no intention of painting or refinishing any part of it. I actually like mine a bit better, but maybe it is the fact that I actually found it myself.
...and now to convince my children to make me breakfast in bed.

Thursday, February 3, 2011


Big surprise- it snowed in Canada! *sarcasm*

What IS different is that it was quite a wallop, we easily got close to two feet where I live (in one day), and it was all that lovely fat, fluffy snow (which I affectionately refer to as Christmas card snow).  Today is a brilliant day, the sun is shining, and it isn't too cold- perfect for using my snow shoes...or so I thought. 

My Newfoundland Dog, Mabel, followed me around the house in excitement when she saw me holding my pink snowshoes.  She loves the snow.  I layered up, and eventually stepped out the front door looking a bit like a snowman.  After strapping myself into my snowshoes at the edge of my porch, I took a step off- into the snow that is now level with it.

What I quickly found was, though beautiful, the snow was so light and fluffy, I sank right to the bottom.  I'm not a tall woman, by any stretch of the imagination (lucky if I'm 5'), so it made for an interesting trek.  My large, rather pregnant dog, was excited to join me, but she too was looking exhausted about half a mile in to our walk.  Worried that neither one of us could drag the other home, we decided to turn around. Pity, because it IS such a lovely day.

Oh well, much to do here! I've been working on a new painting in acrylics (not my usual medium), and look forward to posting it soon.

Where ever YOU are, I hope the sun is shining, too!