Thursday, November 24, 2011

Let the Christmas Crazies Commence

Today was American Thanksgiving which brought on the beginning of the Christmas rush at the Michaels store that I work at. There were some great coupons and sales on which made lots of customers come out to take advantage of that. I got a $100 Ott light for $18!!!

So after a busy day at work, I want to share something humorous and Christmas-related.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Books Were Harmed in the Making of This

I've been having a lot of fun reading Kelly Rae Roberts' book "Taking Flight" and trying out her projects and techniques. One of the projects that caught my eye was the one where she uses a vintage book to create a photo frame. It is such a cool idea, especially for someone like me who loves going to second hand book stores. Any excuse to go, really.

I managed to get a pretty good stack of old hardcover books last weekend at one of my favourite secondhand shops, and I've been a busy beaver this week; chopping and cutting up these books to give them a new life (please don't feel sorry for them- they were in their final destination in the shop before heading to the recycling bin).

It was a really fun project to work on and I am loving the results! Below is a picture of one of them, but I made many more of them and you can find them in my shop. I also plan on taking a few of them to a craft sale I am doing December 3.

This is the example that was in Kelly Rae Roberts' book and was the inspiration for my books.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Artsy Bookmarks

I was super excited to introduce hand painted bookmarks to my Etsy shop a few weeks ago. I think they are turning out beautifully and I'm quite proud of them. They are made of real canvas and I turned them into pieces of multimedia artwork with pieces of scripture from a Bible and other good things like glitter, gold leafing, paint pen, paint, and varnish.

Well, the first one I listed, has just sold! I am so excited to be sending this one off to its new home in Australia tomorrow! (My first sale to Australia too!)

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Write or Die

I saw this link on twitter and it linked me to (write or die). You write in a time crunch and if you don't write, it punishes you. This was my first go with it. The results were entertaining.


I have to write! Quick! But I have to get the oatmeal out of the microwave too and eat...or I'll be late for my shower...and then late getting ready...late getting out of the door which will make me late for rehearsal. I hate being late for rehearsal!!

Okay. Going to get the oatmeal. Please don't hurt me!

123 ......go!!!!!!!

AAAAAAAh. It's punishing me! With Hanson's MMmmbop. I thought it was my roommate's phone but no. It's my computer. I'm going to have that song stuck in my head now. And just the chorus too. Ugh. Good thing I have an orchestra rehearsal to go to . Beethoven 6 will take the Mmmbop right out of there and replace it with Bugs Bunny.

Ok- now must eat and type between spoonfuls.


And funny maneuvering. I'm trying to eat out of a bowl with a spoon and type on a laptop whilst sitting on a sofa. Should have done this at the kitchen table!????

Okay bite #2... red warning screen.... keep chewing... one handed typing... more gulping... and one handed typing... the cats are watching. I can only imagine how painful this is to watch. It probably borders on the pain I used to feel in horn lessons when my old teacher would end off an email. His hunt-and-peck-with-2-fingers style was cringe worthy.

I need to eat faster! It's past 8 am already. I find it so hard to eat when it's still dark out. Is it just me? Like my eyes are attached to my stomach? Or maybe I'm still full from last night's Book Club Pot Luck. There was a lot of yummy food there (it was Spanish themed).

Chewing. Typing. My mind is running out of words.

Hey! I managed to grab the bowl that has no chips in the rim. 1 in 6 chance of that happening. Woo! Guess it will be a good day today.

2 and a half minutes left. This borders on ridiculous. Almost. Done. Oatmeal.

And we have oatmeal eating success!

wordcount 370 (including this)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

This Book Will Make Your Family Feel Normal

I've had a chance to do a bit of reading over the past few weeks; managing to finish something like 4 or 5 books which is a lot for me! I love reading but with little free time and a habit of reading only a few pages before I go to bed means that books get read very sloooooowly.

I recently finished this book called The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls. Oh. My. Word. What a fantastic and yet crazy book. And to top this, the book isn't fiction- it's the memoirs of the author's childhood.

The book recalls moments and memories from Jeanette Walls' youth and tells them with the innocent approach to life that only a child can have. The events are recounted just as the author remembers them and are unspoiled by adult reasoning or any bitterness towards the past. You feel like you are a child alongside her experiencing all the craziness and taking life in stride. Her family was completely dysfunctional and they lived in absolute poverty but I couldn't help but laugh alongside the author as she told stories of dramatic hospital escapes and cardboard bunk beds. It will make you feel blessed by your own "normal" life. I seriously couldn't put this book down!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Bye Bye Tomatoes

Okay, I finally did it. I ripped out my tomato plants. Yes, they were already dying (dead!) but it's a step in my garden that means summer is officially over and I like to live in denial every autumn.

This year I planted a variety that I hadn't grown before called Lemon Boy. They are a fairly common yellow tomato. I think I got them at Canadian Tire of all places.

I had them planted in the large herb box on my deck where they got regular attention and sunshine. They had a bit of a slow start with our cool summer up til about mid July but eventually they took off and became very happy tomato plants. Here's a photo from when they were just starting to produce.

The fruit was a beautiful colour and had a great taste to it! My only gripe with them is that they took forever to make fruit and ripen. I planted them as 8" tall seedings back in April/May but they didn't really start to produce until late August and September. They should have been producing by late July so I think that the cool summer put them back by about a month.

Below is the info on the tomato variety.

Lemon Boy tomato
Indeterminate- 72 days
yellow flesh- 6-8 oz size
heavy producer

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Mmm Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

October is lovely for so many reasons; beautiful colours in the trees, fresh crisp air, a break after the craziness of summer and September, and PUMPKINS!!!!

I love driving by fields of pumpkins. There's quite a few of them on the island; especially on the highway towards the airport. They always bring a smile to my face. Green fields with orange polka dots are just so cute!

I, personally, am a fan of pretty well any recipe that includes pumpkin in it. Today, I have been trying a new roasted pumpkin seed recipe. I got this recipe from a friend at work and it's so delicious that I wanted to share it. Recipes are made for sharing after all so enjoy!

Jack-Be-Spicy Pumpkin Seeds


1 cup (250 mL) pumpkin seeds

2 tsp (10 mL) soy sauce

1 tsp (5 mL) lemon juice

3/4 tsp (4 mL) chili powder

3/4 tsp (4 mL) hot pepper sauce

1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt 1 pinch cumin


Toss pumpkin seeds with soy sauce, lemon juice, chili powder, hot pepper sauce, salt and pinch cumin. Spread on baking sheet; roast in 250°F (120°C) oven for 1 hour until dry.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

A New Mug for Tea

I had posted about this on facebook a while ago but finally got to blogging about it now--oops!
A few weeks ago, I went with my parents to the cute little artisan community of Cowichan Bay. I had never been there before and I loved what I found. This little seaside town has an awesome fromagerie (mmm cheese) and bakery, and a great pub, cute little clothing shops and lots of different artist studios.

One of these artist studios is a little pottery shop called the Mud Room. It's owned by a lady named Colleen, who happens to be my second cousin. I didn't know this until the day we went up there and it was really neat. I guess artsy-fartsy-ness runs in the family!

Colleen makes all kinds of wonderful pottery and her skill at the pottery wheel is amazing! The day that I was there, I came out with beautiful a new mug in Colleen's signature yellow colour (she mixes the colour for the glaze herself) with a dragonfly. I love it!

Someday, I would like to get a teapot and more mugs to match mine. Isn't this teapot just awesome? She is just so talented!

Photos from Mud Room website

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Blessings Painting

Okay, maybe I'm weird but when I create art, I tend to get a little attached to my creations. It's as though each piece of art holds little snippets of my life. Memories of places where I lived, or life lessons I was learning or emotions I was feeling at the time. To me, it's more than just a visual stimulation. There's stuff going on in the brain too. I don't know if that makes any sense. It may be one of those "it made sense in my head' moments!

While there are some paintings that I will never ever sell, I've decided to put my Blessings painting up for sale in my Etsy shop. I really like this painting, and as much as I may feel an attachment to it, I feel that if it can bless other people then that is more profound than if I just keep it selfishly for myself. So, here it is, listed at HornCat Creations with some more photos and a better description. Feel free to have a look!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Some New Paintings

I've been reading Kelly Rae Roberts' book Taking Flight and getting my creativity engines going. I promised a few folks some pictures of my latest creations so here they are! (Apologies for the darkish photos. I didn't want to wait until tomorrow morning to take photos with natural light.)

The first project is an altered book that I've been working on. I'm enjoying this project. I like making artwork that is somewhat functional as well as different from the norm. I'm still not decided on whether or not I will keep the book when I'm finished or if I will try to sell it.

I used the theme of a robin and the word Believe. I realize that these are a bit unseasonal right now seeing as it's autumn but lots of my friends have been commenting lately on how autumn is their favourite season. I agree, the colours outside are very pretty but spring is my favourite season. I love how everything comes back to life and quietly promises that summer will soon follow.

The second project was done on a canvas that I got from work. The canvas had been labeled incorrectly and the front was splattered rendering it unusable for our projects at the studio. I took it home to do something creative with it. I kept with the robin theme and used the word Blessings and some Bible passages.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Fondant Class

For the last 3 1/2 weeks I've been taking a weekly Wilton fondant class at Michaels and I can't even say how much fun it was. It really surprised me how much I liked it. I enjoyed the first course too, which is a prerequisite for doing the fondant course, but it involved a lot of piping and mixing different consistencies of icing. Working with fondant was a lot more tactile; at times it reminded me of working with clay or sculpture.

The first three weeks of the course covered a lot of flower-making. We made all kinds of pretty flowers: daisies, roses, calla lilies, carnations and mums. We also made a large bow, like what you'd see on a birthday present and covered a cake board in fondant.

For the final class, we learned how to cover an entire cake with fondant. I really wanted to take advantage of having a Wilton teacher present so I brought in a square cake which is slightly more difficult to cover than a round cake. It ended up not being as hard as I thought it would be. After rolling out the fondant and flipping it on to the cake, I had to start with the corners of the cake (not the sides). And then trim along the bottom.

It's amazing what a coat of fondant will do to a cake! I wish I had taken a photo of before and after. My cake had had a little accident before the class so it was a little lopsided, plus the butter cream icing was starting to melt (not to mention that I hadn't smoothed out the butter cream icing very well and in some places it wasn't thick enough). Throwing on a coat of fondant made it look so smooth and pretty!

Here it is after decorating!

Some final thoughts after the course... I would never put a cake directly on to a fondant covered cake board again. It sucked all the moisture out of the bottom layer of my cake. Also, if I ever do a ball border again, I would prep the balls ahead of time. It took 45 minutes to get all of that border done and then I ran out of time to finish my flowers.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Taking Life's Reins With a Book and Some Coffee

This morning, I am quite happy because I have coffee again. I didn't have coffee in the house for a week and I missed it. I've been substituting it for tea but it doesn't work. Coffee to me means "It's morning and time to greet a new day." whereas tea is something that should be shared socially with friends. I can recall numerous conversations I've had with great friends over cups of tea (especially when I lived in the UK), but coffee is what helps me greet the morning (I'm not a morning person).

Anyways, today I have a cup of coffee in my favourite Eeyore mug and I am sitting out on the deck in the sunshine and reading a book. Life is pretty good.

The book I'm reading is called Taking Flight. I'm only a few pages in but so far I really like it. I've been needing to read something like this. I need to get my creative energies back and take back the reins on my ridiculously busy life.

At the moment, I am working 3 jobs, trying to play in 3 musical ensembles, attend a regular small group and have a social life, and go to church on Sundays. Let's face it. My life is crazy. It needs some balance. Fortunately, I have time today to take a step backwards and get some perspective.

My plan for today:
-drink coffee
-read some of my book
-bake and ice a cake
-do some cleaning (my parents are coming this week)
-make art

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Need to Create

“Artists reach into their colors or to the notes of a musical score, into the developing solution in a darkroom tray or to the flow of words on a page, they are interacting with the eternity God has placed in their hearts. They are trying to be significant in their universe — trying to mean something more than a random collision of molecules. Though modern philosophy tells them they are nothing, their hearts tell them something else. Because their minds cannot fathom what their hearts know, they feel the weight of the God-placed burden. Art often seems irrational, because the heart is reaching beyond the mind. A modern art museum displays the heart reaching beyond what the mind knows, trying to find the meaning of its existence.”
~ John Fisher

I finally have some free time this weekend (yay for Labour Day long weekend!). I haven't had any creative time for myself in a while so my plan is to spend most of the weekend crafting or painting. Funny how making art is like an addiction or an itch that needs to be scratched. I read this quote by John Fisher not too long ago that I thought explained my own need for creating perfectly.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Cutest Bumble Bee Ever!!

I am frequently blown away by the quality of artwork that the kids at my workplace create. There are not very many places where a person can teach and create art on a daily basis and make a bit of money doing it. It truly is an awesome job and every time I'm there I feel very lucky. If you're interested in the franchise that I work at, check out Maybe there's one near you!

One of the tasks I worked on today was stretching canvases for some of the kids that have been coming to our summer camps. When I unrolled this painting I was absolutely in love with it. What a priceless piece of artwork- and too good not to share. So here I am, sharing this happy little bumble bee, which was made by Abby, age 3.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Cake Decorating

For the last two weeks, I have been taking a Wilton Cake Decorating Class at Michaels. It was really fun and I'm glad that I did it together with my good friend Melissa.

For our last class, we had to bring in a cake to decorate. My friend, Megan, had just recently shared a recipe with me for a Mocha Coffee Cake and I'm so glad I made it. That recipe is delicious!!! I shouldn't be surprised really; Megan got it from her mom, who used to be a home economics teacher. She has all the good recipes!

Anyhow, we learned how to make roses and lettering in our last class and then we spent the remainder of the class decorating the cakes we had brought. I decorated mine with roses, star flowers, daisies, and a scallop edge. I must say, I am quite proud of my little creation. Sure, it's no Ace of Cakes, but I'm quite pleased!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

An Evening with Robert Bateman

Although this happened a couple weeks ago, I really wanted to blog about my meeting Robert Bateman because it was such a cool experience! If you are not familiar with his work, he is an incredible Canadian artist and he was one of my heroes when I was a teenager (I was obsessed with painting very realistic-looking animals in my late teens).

My boss is an alumnus of Royal Roads University in Victoria and she was able to get tickets for myself and a colleague to see Robert Bateman. It took place at Royal Roads (where they filmed X Men). It was a great setting for the evening. The old castle is such a neat building.

Bateman did a two-hour talk called 'The Mind of Bateman'. He admitted that the title was kind of pretentious but what he was aiming for was to show and tell about the things that happened to him when he was young. He wanted to explore the events and experiences that shaped his life and ultimately led him up to the point where his career became very successful. I found it very interesting and it seriously didn't feel like 2 hours!

He spoke about many different things; what he did in the free time of his childhood, where he grew up, different 'clubs' he was in, his first jobs, and what his early drawings looked like.

He is a fairly opinionated man. This didn't bother me too much; probably because I pretty well agreed with everything he said. Besides, if I had all the experiences that he has, I would probably be the same. I like to think that at age 81, I will have earned the right to express my opinion. :)

He gave us his opinions and perspectives on a variety of topics including Native peoples of North America and their culture, separatists groups, the short attention spans of today's youth, loss of natural habitat, etc.

It was a very good evening and I took home a book of amazing artwork that he graciously signed for me. Cool hey?!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Veggies in Newspaper

The veggies in my planter box are coming up nicely and I just wanted to show off something different that I tried this year when I was planting.

I didn't have any peat pots to start my plants in so I used newspaper instead. I'm really happy with the results! It was so easy.

First I folded the paper over a few times in the same direction to make a long rectangle. Then I wrapped the rectangle around my right hand to make a shallow tube. Next, pinching where the end of the paper was with my right thumb, I folded half of the tube inside itself with my left hand to form the bottom of the pot.

These weren't amazingly sturdy, but that didn't matter because I tucked them all into a shallow cardboard tray (box) and filled them with soil. The weight of the soil and the squishing of all of them in that tray, made them strong enough to start my plants in. After a couple of weeks of regular watering and sunshine, the veggies were ready to be transplanted into my garden, newspaper and all!

I can't say I'd recommend this for all veggies. It's not good for root vegetables like onions, carrots, potatoes, turnips, parsnips, etc. But for other veggies, it's worth a try. It was a fun little money saver!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Spring in Full Swing

Spring seems to FINALLY be underway here on the island. Until recently, the weather has been very cool and rainy but the May long weekend seems to have brought the sun along with it. I've been busy gardening. Here are some photos from what's been happening in my little yard.

These are the bulbs I planted a few months ago in pots (previous post: ). Last time I posted a photo of them, they were just poking their heads out of the soil. Now they are in full bloom and looking beautiful. I especially love the tulips (Luca Banja).

This is a rhododendron that a friend gave to me. It never bloomed for her and we hoped it would be happier in my yard. As it turns out, the plant liked the change and we now know what colour it is; pink! The rest of the bed is still a work in progress but I am happy with how it is turning out.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Artistic Angst

Sometimes life throws painful situations at us and it's up to us on how to deal with them. Last week, one of my favourite uncles passed away suddenly. He had been ill for some time but his autoimmune disease was under control. Unfortunately, a complication from a regular in-out procedure stole him away from us. His death feels so crippling to me, but I have been trying to use my grief as an "excelerant" for creating artwork.

I've been playing with an old hardcover book for a while; toying with ideas and occasionally doing something on a few pages. Last week, I started using the book as a means for expressing grief. I suppose most people call it 'art journaling'. I'm simply using it like a visual diary and I'm really liking it. I'm not great at expressing myself verbally, and this is turning into a great way of getting stuff off of my chest. It is especially good when most of my thoughts feel like lumpy gravy and trying to articulate them is like trying to get the lumpy gravy through a fine strainer. It's not always a good scene!

The first painting I did in the book was done last week when I was feeling quite angry. I just did the second one the other day. I am starting to feel a bit better about his passing now.

"Life Without Love is Like a Tree Without Fruit"

The memories of your love and your laughter will live in our hearts forever.
You will be missed. Rest in peace Uncle Len.

Monday, April 4, 2011

A Peek Outside

I looked out on my deck today and guess what I saw?! The bulbs I had planted at the end of January have come up! I was beginning to think that they weren't going to come up- assuming that they had succumbed to death by drowning- but no, these little bulbs are persistent.

They were bulbs I had gotten on sale at Superstore for $0.75 a bag and at the time they didn't look very promising, but I figured I'd give them a shot. The pot closest holds tulips (Luca Banja). The other pot holds chiondoxa forbesii. I had put a twig into one pot, so I'd know which was which. I guess I can take the twig out now!

These bulbs are quite late (most of the other bulbs in the city are blooming or have finished blooming already) but I am happy and will make more updates as I go along.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A Beautiful Day...

... for digging a hole!

One of the great things about the place I've moved to is that the back yard is just lawn. It is a blank canvas just waiting to have plants put into it and I am so excited about trying to garden in Victoria this year!

So today, I got out my shovel and started digging out a flower bed. It's in a corner of the yard where the fence is the highest. My plans are to turn it into a shade garden. I think it will be a mix of perennials and some annuals. I might add a shrub or two but I want it to have mostly perennials: some hostas and ostrich ferns and definitely some plants that I've never tried before.
I won't have as many weather-related challenges here in Victoria as I did on the prairies, and I'm going to be able to try out plants that are new to me; so basically anything higher than a zone 3. I guess a trip to a garden centre is in order!

The weather today was absolutely amazing. I hear that the prairie provinces still have snow but that is definitely not the case here in Victoria. The sun was shining and the temperature was close to 20oC. People were out mowing their lawns and the mail carrier was wearing shorts... AND I had the gardening bug! What a great day :)

Sunday, March 6, 2011


Yesterday evening, I tried out the sport of curling for the very first time. I think the sport gets a bad rap because it isn't exactly fast-paced but boy oh boy is it ever fun to play! I didn't get any pictures of myself playing, but my teammates all look like they're having fun.

First, I had to figure out how to keep my balance on some incredibly slippery ice (there's a machine that sprinkles a layer of water droplets on top which makes it even more slippery than the ice you might find in a parking lot or ice arena)!

After that, I tried to throw a 42 pound rock across the ice. The most confusing thing for me was figuring out which way to point my thumb and which way to rotate the rock when I was throwing to get a curve across the ice. I did get it in the end.

Sweeping, I'm sorry to say, came to me fairly naturally but I didn't realize how HARD you have to scrub the ice sometimes to get that stone to move! It's quite a work out!

The best thing is that while you are doing all this, you are on a team and socializing with people the whole time. I think it is a great way to get out of the house, get a little bit of exercise and a good way to meet people too. I definitely want to give it a try again sometime!

Monday, February 28, 2011

Some Thoughts on Working/Shopping at American Companies

The other day at work, a colleague and myself were given the task of "cleaning" one of the rooms at work. It wasn't a great experience.

I put "cleaning" in quotations because according to this business, "cleaning" means that we had to make sure that all supplies in the room were according to company policy. Basically, some people in Texas have decided what supplies should be in that particular room. What happens to all the items that aren't on the company-assigned list? It gets thrown in the dumpster. That's right- straight into the trash.

This is where my sense of good morals start to kick in. All of the supplies in this room were, at one point, assigned to that space by the company because of various projects done there. Any left over materials were kept for future use. But now, we are throwing them out.

These items are in great condition and some of them are even brand new! It pained me and my colleague to throw these things out. We asked if we could donate some items to schools or other charities. The answer we got was, "No."

Someone had told me it was because this is an American company. In the USA, items cannot be donated because if a person harms themselves with a donated item, then the person who donated the item is liable to be sued. In order to prevent this, companies simply throw items out and make it their policy. In many American chains, such as the one I am working at, policies are kept the same across the border.

It has really made me think twice about working and shopping at American companies.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Some Sad News

I know it's been a little while since I posted. It's been rather crazy around here with work, moving, company, getting internet, etc. I think everyone can relate to how life can seem to just get away from you and fly, but sometimes the reality of life comes back and knocks us to our senses and makes us realize how fragile it really is.

I received some sad news that a fellow coworker from the garden center that I worked at last spring passed away from a brain aneurysm. She had worked there for many years and in a family-run business, all of the staff were like extended family and quite close.

She was one of the healthiest people we knew. She exercised every morning, always brought a home-cooked lunch (which always included a glass of banana-milk which we thought was weird) and always brushed her teeth after every meal. We used to tease her about bringing her toothbrush to work.

To me she was a fellow crafter and lover of music and a good teacher as well. We would have crafting nights and she make embroidered cards. At the store we would play 'name that tune' and dance around to whatever was on the radio. Most of what I know about growing veggies, I learned from her. She was always in good mood and we shared a lot of laughs.

I remember that just before I moved, I went to the store for something. I don't even remember what I had to go for but I was looking for the store manager. The store was quite empty and instead of finding Gail, I found Deb in the stock room. I chatted with her and said goodbye not realizing it was for the last time. Now I'm glad I had the opportunity to say bye.

Deb you will be sorely missed by all of us xx

Monday, January 17, 2011

January's Half Over?

Time has been flying by and I can't believe it's the 17th of January already. It's ridiculous!

I hope everyone's Christmas holidays were jolly and I hope that normal life has returned too. I, personally, am breathing a sigh of relief for life with some normalcy to it! Over Christmas I was busy moving house, pet sitting and house sitting, visiting with international company, skiing and working. I was quite tired so I don't know how you moms with kids do it. You are AMAZING!

Anyways, I wanted to share a couple of photos from something we did New Year's Eve. We went to the Butchart Gardens to see their "12 Days of Christmas" display. It was my first time going there and true to the rumours, it was absolutely gorgeous. The Christmas lights were so tasteful! No gaudy Christmas here (unlike the neighbourhood on my street!).

Gorgeous Walkway

Three French Hens

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