Tuesday, December 31

Seeing the world through a whole new lens!

Oh, yes I did. I finally caved - thanks to Boxing Day goodness - and purchased a new, fancy DSLR camera. I went with the Canon Rebel T3i. It came in a kit with a bag and an extra lens; and luckily James got me a huge SD memory card for Christmas! Did he foresee this or what?! It just came in the mail last night, so of course I took a million photos of nothing, a million times. Just playing with the settings and such. I am used to setting manual techniques on my little point-and-shoot camera - which I know is nothing compared to this; but it has given me experience scrolling through, and there are some general settings that I already know that I like more than others. I also purchased a tripod with it. This will allow me to do so much more in terms of creative photography, and it will also allow me to film!

I hope to check in with my photography on a weekly basis. Things will look a little worse before they look awesome. But being a painting artist, who uses photographic references most times for inspiration, this seemed a natural progression. The better I can capture a moment, the better I can carry that moment with me into my studio :)

Wednesday, December 18

Festive Art Studio

Just a quick pop-in to say 'hello' today :) Life has been a whirlwind this month, and I just wanted to share with you a a festive piece that has been sitting in my art studio. You saw the sketch I used for it a couple days ago, and here is where the painting stands. I haven't had much time to work on it - I have been busy packing and mailing out orders (Thank you everyone!!!!!!! :) But I hope to get back to it when time calms down - there's so much to still paint on it. It's too late for this year, but I might look into making this a greeting card for next year. 

Monday, December 16

Christmas Lights

I just love Christmas lights, and so I was so excited this year because we have our own house to put them on! We tried just to use what we already had from previous years, but ended up buying a little more to go around the front of the house, we were just short a bit! 

And of course, Randy - the Christmas Rex - is set up as well, looking festive as always! He got bumped around a tiny bit during the move, so we had a little adjusting before setting him up - like attaching his present again.

James did all the lights, and I think did a wonderful job! It just looks all so pretty!

Tuesday, December 10

My Tacky Snowman Christmas Sweater

The perfect ingredients to Christmas sweater goodness!
On an annual basis, we have been attending an "Ugly Christmas Sweater" party. The first year, I wasn't able to find anything I liked, so I made my own. I decided on the same path this year. Although, I have to say this sweater (vest) isn't exactly 'ugly'...just a little on the tacky side...but wait...

It lights up!! Yup! That's right! I wired my Christmas sweater. It also plays music, but that part is only cool for the first couple minutes, then I just switch it to lights on...the repeating two verses wear on you after awhile.

 I'm so happy how this year's vest turned out :) So super cute! Now, if you ask me how I did this all you may laugh. I don't own a sewing machine, and I haven't the patience for hand sewing this much - especially during this very, very busy time of year. So it was completed and created with a glue gun. Yup, it's all glue gunned into place. I've become quite handy with it; and it does the job just right for me :)

Friday, December 6

Christmas Baking Part 1

So first off, I'm going to just say what needs to be said - I lied. Today was supposed to be my 'tacky Christmas sweater' post...but it didn't get finished yesterday with everything else going on, so it's not happening today. We did get a lot done - so much holiday stuff that I felt that we were living in one of those warm and fuzzy Christmas specials! Christmas lights are done (and look fabulous!), presents to go out west were wrapped and dozens of Christmas cookies were baked...all of this to the tune of holiday music :)

So I thought, I'd share with you today the recipes that I made yesterday! None of these are my own (I'm not that handy in the kitchen, yet), but I did make some tweeks here and there; and as well some pointers.

Cherry Almond Shortbread Cookies
First, are the most impressive looking of the batch! Cherry Almond Shortbread Cookies (recipe here by Flamingo Toes blog). These look super impressive, but they were so easy to make! A perfect choice for cookie exchanges, as they will all think you slaved and slaved over these! My adjustments to this recipe, which you will find at the link - I don't want to repost something that isn't mine, is that I added some red gel food colouring to the mix to make it a little more red, and instead of the white nonperials; I just used regular Christmas sprinkles (of the circular variety). This was mostly because it's what I have in my cupboards, and they worked just as well and look super festive! 

Now, when melting the chocolate - if you find that it doesn't set well: put it in the freezer, or somewhere cold - I put it out in our cold garage. It will set, and it will stay set. The shortening just makes it take a little longer. As well, make sure that you are not using more shortening than is asked for. It just makes the chocolate smoother for dipping; but might affect how it sets. If in doubt, use less. It should be 1/2 tsp. per 2oz. of white chocolate. 

 This recipe made me 3 dozen.

Pistachio  Cherry Christmas Trees
I picked these Pistachio Christmas Trees recipe, mostly because it called for Pistachios, and I live with someone who loves them. They are originally referred to as Pistachio Cherry Meltaways, on the blog "I Heart Nap Time", but I made them into little trees, so I altered the name for my purposes :)

My alterations were some green gel food colouring to make them really green. And then instead of rolling into little balls to bake, I rolling them into a triangle log, and then sliced them into my dear little trees. An important step of the recipe is to make sure to 'dry up' all the cherry juice after cutting - this is a very, very important step - do not skip!

This recipe made me 3 dozen.

Peppermint Oreo Krispie Treats
Every Christmas cookie platter should have a rice krispie treat, and these Peppermint Oreo Krispie Treats, by GlouriousTreats.com, is a totally festive addition! The trick is to find the peppermint Oreo treats - which we found at Walmart, and then it's just like any other rice krispie recipe. The smashed candy cane and drizzled chocolate should not be skipped - they finish up the piece so well!

Store bought snowmen
 Lastly, are these dear little snowmen cookies. There is no recipe for them - go to the supermarket, and purchase a package of these Pillsbury darlings. Some of you made be shaking your heads that I've included these not-so-handmade cookies. But I love them, and they are too easy not to pass up. They remind me of previous Holidays - some where I was a student, and was only able to make these. So I include them :)

A package makes 2 dozen.

So there you have, the first part of my Christmas Cookie Extravaganza! I baked these all in one afternoon, even starting late as I was running errands. These 8 dozen cookies, plus squares, took maybe 4 hours to put together and bake. The trick is to do other cookie mixes while others are baking, and definitely clean up in between!

I'll be back with part 2. Hopefully this weekend. There are 3-4 more recipes that I'm going to make. :) Happy baking!

Thursday, December 5

Painting the Holidays

I've been a lucky duck, and got today off!! A nice little break in the week - back to work tomorrow, and then the weekend off as well. It will be a busy one too - we have a "Ugly Christmas Sweater" party to attend - and I will share the tacky creation I came up with for this party with you all tomorrow - I cannot resist not making my own sweater for such an occasion, hehe.

Today is no relaxing day off though - there are errands (we need more Christmas lights now that we have a larger house!); and I'm starting my super long list of Christmas baking. As well, we have to start wrapping gifts to send out to Manitoba this weekend (James' sister lives there), and lots of orders to pack! 

I got home late last night, after the post office was closed, so I was not able to grab stamps until this morning. So, I took a moment and worked on a holiday themed mixed media painting. It was nice to just play with all my art supplies - it has been so long, being busy with new house stuff, and then holidays. My dear feline, Oreo, is of course the star of this piece! He was just too cute when we were putting up decorations - I don't think I've ever seen his pupils so large from all the tinsel hanging around!

Sunday, December 1

Holiday Manicure

I saw these super cute nails on Pinterest the other day, and just had to give them a try! I used a white french manicure pen to paint these on. Just so much fun!

Friday, November 29

Our Home - Before and After Our Painting Extravaganza

It has been a winter wonderland at our house this past week - we have gotten  a lot of snow. Which is good - soon it is snowboarding season!! So excited!! Even more exciting is that we are now all done the painting in our house, finally! Below are all the after pics, enjoy :)

Master Bathroom After: We painted is a lovely  grey-purple. The blinds were already there.
A few future upgrades will be a nice mirror, and maybe the blinds.
Master Bedroom After: a nice, deep turquoise. It goes wonderfully with our brown
linens, and painting the trim / doors white made a world of difference! 
Our hallway After
Upstairs Bathroom After - a nice, light sea foam colour
Living Room After - we kept the green idea, and just picked a bit brighter of a colour.
It's a very empty room, I know :) All our actual living room stuff from our
other house is in the downstairs living space (couches, larger tv, shelves, ect)
The view going into the kitchen.
Kitchen After: It's the same blue as in the bathroom, but with all the light it
looks more vivid blue in this picture than it really is. There is still painting mess all in
this picture on the counter (tools and such)...oh well lol. 
Our kitchen "nook" - just so much natural light, I love it! But it makes it
hard to get a nice picture of it :)
We are so happy that this fairly large project is done, and our house is now more our home. It wasn't just painting walls - we had to paint doors and trim - so it was quite the project. But it's done, and now we get to enjoy our labours :D We didn't paint the downstairs, as it was more recently painted by the owners, and the colours were more suited to use - so that cut an already large project down a little bit. 

You can also tell from the photos, that some of the spaces are quite "bare" - that's what happens when you move from a crazy small space into a huge space - you don't have enough stuff! LOL. But I'm okay with it. I know over time, we will accumulate items, and slowly decorate and build these spaces up. I don't want to rush into it too much, because I want to be sure. Shortly though, we will start hanging stuff on the walls - photos and paintings - and that will make a world of difference in itself :)

Tuesday, November 26

DIY Winter Wreath Tutorial: Frosted Succulents and Rustic Burlap

It that time of year, where wreaths are especially seen on doors! There is no reason for you to only have a wreath around the holiday season, and an easy way to ensure your wreath is appropriate throughout the entire winter - is to make a season-themed wreath, instead of a holiday-themed wreath :)

Firstly, you need to gather all your materials. Nothing is worse than starting a project and then having to stop because you don't quite have everything. I used a grapevine wreath pre-made from a craft store for my base. After that - only your creativity is the limit! I decided to use all "fake" items, so that my wreath lasts a little longer, and can withstand the harsh winter elements where I live. I started with bunches of silver dollars, glittered leaves, and pearl and red beaded plants. As well, I purchased a package of "frosted" succulents and some burlap.

Before you begin, just lay all your elements around on the wreath in different combinations until you find one that you really like. Above was one of those combinations - I didn't decide to do this one in particular, but it just demonstrates the thinking process. 

I begin by pulling some of my elements apart. I separate the silver dollars and glittered leaves into two stems - this may require heavy duty wire cutters depending on what you've chosen to use. The beaded plants just ripped apart easily into small stems. I will be tucking those into any area that need more coverage (all the "holes"), as well as around the succulents.

I once again place everything to be sure I'm happy before I attach them to my wreath base. And then I start using my trusty glue-gun to adhere everything very securely to my wreath. Plant bits with long wire stems are trimmed, and then "tucked in" to make them look like they are part of my base.

My order of "layers" on the wreath are silver dollars at the back, then the glittered leaves. Next, I affix the succulents at the bottom in a random order. Lastly, I take the little bits of beaded plants and insert them evenly at the base with the succulents, and a little upward.

Sometimes tucking in the larger parts make their upper component 'pop' forward. This is easily fixed by choosing a part of the stem, that is hidden by other foliage, and gluing it to the base with your glue gun. You may have to hold this until the glue is dry.

I'm going to take a second here to note as well - when you are using grapevine wreaths, they are messy. Please do not do this project on your carpet. A hard, easy to clean surface would be best...or else you may be finding little grits of wreath of some time after.

Next I make myself a burlap bow for my wreath. I thought about just putting it at the top, but there's just so much doing on, I use the burlap as a sort of wreath holder and then attach the bow to that.

I thought about just putting it at the top, but there's just so much doing on, I use the burlap as a sort of wreath holder and then attach the bow to that.

And there we have it! A winter wreath! It takes a little fiddling to place everything together. Remember: always place, take a look and then glue. This project took me about an hour and a half, but I didn't have the heavy duty wire cutters for my foliage, so I spent a lot of time fiddling with those, and trying to tuck the long wires back into the wreath.

The frosted succulents are definitely the star of this wreath! I love that I found them (at Michael's!). 

A little more of a close up of the finished wreath. I love the contrast of the rustic burlap against all the glittery / frosted foliage. 

And the lovely wreath hanging (we haven't taken out out holiday stuff yet, so I couldn't find my wreath hanging to show it on the door.

Saturday, November 16

Real LIfe Watercolour Tree

I just wanted to share this tree that I've been driving past on my way to work at one of my hospital sites. Once all the leaves dropped, and left all those apples on it, it immediately made me think of my characteristic watercolour trees! I think I may be painting this later on. I love the ombre / gradient effect of yellow to red throughout the tree :)

Wednesday, November 13

Unpacking my brushes

I was able to paint for the first time in my studio the other night, and with all the snow we have been having lately, I could not resist painting a winter tree!
"Goldfinch Frost" - Original watercolour painting
I just loved painting with all the different shades of blue in this piece! "Goldfinch Frost" is available for sale.

Monday, November 11

My New Art Digs

I'm so happy to say that my art studio is now a workable space! Hurray!! :) It will take a little more time to fully "settle" in to the new space, but for now at least I can create :) I really like that my easel is able to be closer to my desk - I hope it works out staying there. But it also has the option to be pulled out a little for much larger canvases. 

And I have that huge window right in front of my desk - can we also give another 'hurray' for so much more natural light?! I'm hoping to set up some sort of "filming-thing" on the left side - and if that fails, I'll put in some shelves, and Jimmy-rig it off of that :) Hmmm, or now looking at it, maybe off the top of the window...

Because there is so much more space, and I have a closet, the room seems so empty compared to my last space, but more organized. I'm hoping to get some shelves up, and maybe a deep ledge running along the long side of the room to sit various paintings on it. That will allow me to change them up as time goes by and paintings sell. A sort of 'interactive', ever-changing art display. It will be nice to be able to display more artwork in the room, instead of just having it stashed away in corners. 

I've also placed my printer a little further from my desk, and have all the printer paper under it and more accessible. This is pending that I can set it up to print wireless via it's Wi-Fi capabilities. I'm sure I can, but if for some unlucky reason I just cannot do it, I might have to move it a little closer to my desk for the printer cables. 

I've almost finished the redesign of the blog too. I'm stepping away from the designing part for a couple days, so that I can look at it with a fresh mind, and see what else needs doing :) It's amazing what a little photoshop and CSS coding can do for a blog!

Saturday, November 9

Slowly as trees grow...

Just a quick 'hello' this weekend. Painting continues to take over our lives. This project has turned into a monster - always there, lurking. I know I make it sound like a surprise, but we sort of knew it would turn this way. I think we were just in denial before, and excited to get not-so-pretty colours off our walls. Since we have been working a lot of shifts, it seems we work, come home and paint and then sleep. But we are making progress. We just want it perfect, so it is a little more slow going. All the colours we have painted already look fabulous, and I can't wait to put away all the drop sheets and painting clutter and make everything neat and pretty again to really see how wonderful it looks. I will admit, since we choose a lot of colours, as opposed to different shades of neutral and whites, I was a little worried that some of them might be too overbearing. It's so hard to tell from a little paint chip. But so far, so good!

And, my new little (larger than before) studio is top on the list to be finished, so that I can get back to a normal at-home-work routine with my artwork, shop and blog. So hopefully, fingers crossed, it will be all finished and arranged by the end of this weekend! All that is left is painting the trim, which is a time-sucking process, but we are getting there! :) I will take this time to share, that we are painting pretty much all the trim upstairs, as a lot of it is 'coloured' - blues, burgundy, ect. - and I grew up in a very white-trim-loving world. This will probably take more time than painting the walls lol. 

Also, I have some little DIY projects that I want to share with you all on the blog, but those will have to wait until the studio is done so that I can actually create them - all the supplies are just sitting in bags dying to be played with. They are all winter themed, and could even carry into other seasons - so very versatile projects! I'm also setting up my art studio so that I can film more, and maybe even present a weekly art-film. I'm still working that all out, but there is positive progress on that front.

On one last note, you will notice my blog might look a little different from day-to-day. I am working on a re-design, as a break from painting here and there. Since my "office" is the kitchen table until my studio is done, all I can really do is dabble on my lap top and print / pack orders. So, I figured it's something to do between drying paint layers, and it's due for a little 'paint job' too :)

Happy weekend!

Sunday, November 3

Tomorrow is Painting Day!

Our dining 'nook' / kitchen - will go from a pastel green-brown to a
country / dusty blue.
 Tomorrow we paint! I've been very much looking forward to this day. Normally I would get up bright and early to get a head start on a big project like painting the entire upstairs.... you know, so it gets done in one day. But I am working night shift (Saturday), and so the earliest I think I will be able to function on Sunday is at noon - that gives me 4 hours of sleep. And unlike all you lucky ones who are getting the extra hour of sleep from going back to normal time from daylight savings - I just have to work an hour longer. Oh, boo!

We really liked the green in the living room, but there was a lot to
patch up, and so it definitely needs repainting. We are painting it a bit brighter of
a green, with less brown in it.
It took a long time to pick out all the colours, and I cannot wait to share them with you - once they're on the walls! I really hope I'm happy with them, I'm sure I will be. It's just so hard picking colours - especially with some open concept space - making sure they all work with each other - and not knowing how precisely they will look on the walls.

The hallway space, and one guest bedroom, is being painted a nice light brown
(The weights hanging on the banister were to hold it down to let glue settle as
we had to fix it upon moving in).

This is the room I'm most excited about! I know, it's only a bathroom...
We will be painting this a lovely, rich purple with a hint of grey. It is the
master bathroom, and I think it will make it look so romantic! We are also
painting the bedroom a nice darker teal. We sleep during the day when working nights
so having a dark room is very important to us.
My art studio room is being painted a nice, lovely light teal. I really like
how it looked in other artist's studios. It will really freshen up whatever was
supposed to be going on in here before.
So, we have our work cut out for us, that is for sure! We also have a lot of trim to paint white, but that will be for another day after all this wall paint has dried and cured thoroughly. I really cannot wait to get the art studio room painted up, and then I can really set up my art supplies and get back into the groove. Packing orders in a haphazard unpacked room is not the easiest, not to mention the mess is just way too distracting for anything creative to happen.

I cannot wait to share you pictures of all the new colours :)

I promise, once the studio is set up, I'll be back to sharing artwork here and not so much house stuff. :)