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!