Friday, December 18, 2009

Preparations - the One Week Countdown to Christmas



Last night, we began putting up the Christmas tree, yes, a fresh one! Still holding out and not using an artificial tree. This is one part of the world where commercial Christmas tree growers still rely on sales for their family businesses, and the fresh smell of the tree is so much a part of the holiday 'senses' in our house. The lights are now on the tree, and this weekend we will decorate with so many ornaments collected from travels, and hand-made, including all the macaroni and glitter creations that the children have made at preschool, grade school, brownies and other activities throughout the years. Christmas is a magical time for us, as this is time of year we were married....we are celebrating our 27th wedding anniversary today!

Last year, I baked so many cookies, I think everyone in the family gained weight, especially me! This year, I haven't baked one single recipe, yet, although I plan to bake this weekend, just a little for my family arriving home on Monday, Winter Solstice. So here is a recipe I would like to share with you, from Canadian Living magazine. These shortbread bars are super easy to make, and they taste fantastic.

Meanwhile, I am still maintaining good eating habits, following the "Good Mood Diet", you can check that out on Amazon if you like. It's working really well for me. The protein component of each meal is keeping me sated and the absense of sugar and white carbs are something I have been wanting to try for a long time.

Merry merry Christmas preparations are fully underway! Enjoy the cookies and please let me know if you enjoy the recipe!


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The 12 Days of Christmas Preparation!

12 days until my nearly grown kids come home....and that gives me 12 days to scurry around trying to get some of the secret surprises done. Well....here is one of the very nostalgic projects I am working on. I have managed to save many of my family's Christmas wish lists in crazy places all over my office...I have gathered them up, and am making a visual journal of all these great letters to Santa.....

For anyone with little ones, you might think of keeping those precious notes, and doing something like this when your children are off at college and you are really feeling that empty nest!

I am trying all sorts of different journaling techniques and backgrounds in this project. I'll try and post a photo or two soon.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Place I Want to Get Back To



The Place I Want To Get Back To
by Mary Oliver
is where
in the pinewoods
in the moments between
the darkness

and first light
two deer
came walking down the hill
and when they saw me

they said to each other, okay,
this one is okay,
let's see who she is
and why she is sitting

on the ground like that,
so quiet, as if
asleep, or in a dream,
but, anyway, harmless;

and so they came
on their slender legs
and gazed upon me
not unlike the way

I go out to the dunes and look
and look and look
into the faces of the flowers;
and then one of them leaned forward

and nuzzled my hand, and what can my life
bring to me that could exceed
that brief moment?
For twenty years

I have gone every day to the same woods,
not waiting, exactly, just lingering.
Such gifts, bestowed,
can't be repeated.

If you want to talk about this
come to visit. I live in the house
near the corner, which I have named
Gratitude.
"The Place I Want To Get Back To" by Mary Oliver, from Thirst. © Beacon Press, 2006.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The First of December in Beautiful White Rock, BC, Canada


Oh how the seasons change...I heard the "s" word used for the first time today, the possibility of "snow" exists for us on Thursday, and we had a lovely frost this morning. On the West coast, we tend to get very little snow, but last year was the one exceptional year to that rule, with snowstorm after snowstorm after snowstorm. It was horrible for holiday travel, and for my kids trying to make it home from University and from Britain, and definitely put a damper on lots of our family plans for Christmas. Hopefully, any of that white stuff that we see this year, makes a very light appearance and is quickly washed away by rain, as that is how it should be here on the West Coast! Here is a photo from the beach during our snowy season last year. It is beautiful, though, isn't it? The above photo is of the white rock at White Rock beach, in beautiful British Columbia, which is where I live.

*On another serious note--please join me in saying prayers for my JournalFest friend, Barbara, who has been in a very serious accident and is facing a lengthy and intensive recovery following multiple surgeries. Our prayers are with you Barbara.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thankful for Grace and Abundance




Today, on this day of giving thanks and appreciating the abundance in our lives, I am grateful for a warm and loving home, and supportive husband, and two healthy (grown-up) children, who are out in the world, doing amazing things with their lives. I am thankful for two fat, beautiful lazy cats, and the freedom to learn and appreciate and grow. I am astonished at the vastness of the sky and the earth and the oceans, and breathe in their spell-binding beauty.

I am thankful for dear friends, and for the health of my extended family. I am thankful for the joy in connecting with others in so many ways, in person, by letter, through technology, and through prayer.

I am ever thankful for this beautiful life and for the awareness of our fragility in the world.

Amen.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Extreme Craftiness



Today while we are experiencing a heavy rainfall and high winds, I am happy to pull out my lovely gift bag of fabrics from Marty from JournalFest....this juicy colourful blend of colours helps to counteract the gray dreary day. I am inspired to pull out other vibrant and funky pieces of scrap fabrics.....I wonder where this will all lead?

Thank goodness for this rainbow of colours....I need it today!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Vancouver-Whistler 2010 Olympic Games



Vancouver is getting ready to welcome the world to the Olympic Games in February. I am so excited to be a volunteer for the games! Last weekend, we ventured into the city to see how the preparations are beginning to look...here are a couple of photos from the downtown area. Things really seem to be shaping up!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Creative Craftiness for this Weekend




Creative Crafty-Goodness for this weekend...don't miss my friend Nicci's Creative Finds Craft Fair at Sullivan Hall in South Surrey on 152nd Street....She personally ensures every vendor in her craft fair has unique and high quality goods from around Vancouver. Hurray for shopping local!

From lovely jewelry to hand-made cards and prints, fibre crafts and wood-turnings, paintings, yummy eats and more!

11-11-11


I belong to a creative artist group called "Eleven-–A Creative Artist Collective", with the name based on the significance of the number "11". Many people believe that when you see the number "11", it means STOP and pay attention, and it has many associations with creativity and spirituality. One of my friends from my group was married on the beach on November 11, at 11:11am. May all the good associations and happiness from "eleven" carry forward to Joanna and her new husband, Mark. The sun came out and many friends and family celebrated this happy day. We were able to capture some beautiful photographs of the lovely bride and groom. Best wishes for a wonderful life together, Joanna and Mark!

To find out more about my photography, you can visit Solstice Design and Photo Studio at Solstice Design and Photo Studio

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Birthday Girl




Today is my birthday....I'm off to play as it is a holiday here in British Columbia, Canada.....and the sun is out! I believe the beach is calling my name......

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Finding the Beauty in Spite of Mistakes



When I shoot photos, I'm not afraid to fail, I shoot a lot, try to capture what I see as well as what I envision, but sometimes the photos turn out to be something I am not happy with. But they are not a total loss. Pump up the contrast, correct the exposure, and play in PhotoShop, and something that was destined for the trash, becomes a piece I actually like. Like this photo above. It was underexposed, way too dark, but now.....I kind of like it.

Art is like that, take the risk, try it anyway, and work with it until it becomes something you are happy with. And that is my plan for today...take a risk, try it anyway, and make today something I am happy with.....

Monday, November 9, 2009

Finding Yellow - A Colour Walk

It's a gloomy and dark November day today.The wind is powerful and whipping the branches every which way. Most of the leaves have now fallen.

I wish to hang on to the vivid autumn yellows and golds.I'm not ready for endless rainy and gray days. So here are a few photos from my "Finding Yellow" walk from Port Townsend. If you look hard, you can find colour everywhere. It just seems to pop out once you are open to it. I told myself...look for yellow...and this is what I found.

A yellow fire hydrant.

In the distance, A yellow lab in a park photo shoot.


First yellow winter pansies.


Autumn leaves...


Looking skyward.


Drifting on the ground.


Yellow Fungi embedded in the tree bark.


A flaming torch in the middle of the park.


Everywhere yellow for me to hang onto, to carry into the depths of winter.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Lovely Gifts Make My Heart Full



I was SO excited for a couple of things this week.....first, I received a wonderful response from people who actually commented here! Thank-you Violette, Wendy Lee, Jonna (hi Jonna, we did meet briefly, when I was admiring your amazing little journal that you made on the first day!), Maj....I was pretty happy to hear from each of you sweet souls.

And I got two followers, also pretty cool, I'm not entirely sure how the "following" works, but thanks "TxFunLadi"....this is all so new!

Then, if that wasn't enough fun, I had TWO wonderful surprises in my mailbox....juicy, quilty, journal goodness from Marty of Seattle, and some gorgeous poems from Joan of Yakima. The idea to share poetry from our class came from Joannie and wow, I am swooning with her beautiful writing. The photo above is of Marty's very cool bag, which was inspired from FibreArtFest and I now hopefully am going to learn this great technique.

If I wasn't inspired already, (which I AM!), now I am even more jazzed. You ladies are the best. Thank-you! Thank-you! Thank-you!

Happy Friday......Sandra

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

JournalFest 2009 - Day 3 with Stephanie Lee


The deepest writing I did was saved for Day 3 of JournalFest....."Unraveling Word" with Stephanie Lee. My days were like a wonderful cookie sandwich, quietude creamy vanilla wafer on the outside with Lisa Cheney-Jorgensen, scrumptious scribbleous strawberry jam in the middle with Traci Bunkers (I LOVE her vibrant fibres and art), and satisfying soul-food angelfood cake on day 3 with Stephanie Lee. You see what I mean, softer days on the outside, and zingy high energy day in the middle!

But my heart is left so full after writing for a full day, my day 3. I cannot remember the last time I poured words on the page so freely. I've done writing partner sessions before, which probably helped me a little, but I was jazzed to jump right back in and GO. Just as a little warm-up exercise we did these acrostic name poems for fun.

I was so lucky to sit next to the "Whimsical, Energetic, Noteworthy, Dynamic, Yippee-Skippee.....Wendy Lee", for a great start to partner writing.

Wendy gifted me with "Sandra is....Sensitive/Solitary...Articulate/Astute....Nice/Nourisher...Dearhearted/Dedicated...Realistic/Reflective...Assuring".....

Thank-you Wendy! I had the chance to get to know Wendy a little better during our writing day and more as we shared the ferry ride across the sound on the way home.

The fun news from Stephanie is that she will be offering her writing course online, sometime very soon.

"Unraveling Word" with Stephanie Lee was the catalyst I needed for jumping back into my writing with both feet, wildly waving a banner exclaiming "hurray for my writing and journaling practice!".

Stephanie as an instructor is a joy... Her thoughtfulness and ability to create a positive, supportive environment was great, and created a writing day which became one of the best I have experienced. She brought a wealth of materials, background reference books and exercises, and structured the class in such a way, so that everyone felt comfortable to participate and to open up enough to share their personal writing.

The pace was appropriate and allowed for highs and lows throughout the day. Humour was encouraged, and whatever limb we crawled out on with our writing allowed us to take risks and try new ways of writing both together and individually, and then, she was able to reel us back in and move to the next level.

It is not easy to wrangle with a group of energized, creative artists and writers and draw out deep thoughts, but Stephanie accomplished that with ease, and I left the day feeling ready to plunge with renewed passion back to my writing.

The stellar idea that came out of the day, was that we give little gifts of art as trades, so why not gift little trades of our writing??????

So, we did that and the little trade that I received was as follows...

"Don't be afraid to be yourself. You are beautiful just as you are...and have much to give. Step out--be BOLD! You might find that it is easier than you think... I look forward to the changes in the world that your BOLD action makes possible!!!!"

Isn't that great? I LOVE this....everyone in the class seemed to receive a perfect little gift of writing that seemed destined to fall in the perfect person's hands.

So....here is the challenge, can you send a little piece of writing out into the world, maybe in the form of a "trade" that might just make someone's day?

JournalFest 2009 - Day 2 with Traci Bunkers


"Love and Fear" with Traci Bunkers, was a much faster moving workshop for me, than Day 1 was. After a lovely quiet first day, I was ready for more energy, and I got it in this workshop! We came prepared with lots of magazine images and photographs of various things to incorporate into journals, and we prepared triptych pages (double-page spreads with a single foldout). One of the best little tricks I learned during the day, was so simple!!!! Using baby wipes to apply acrylic paint makes AWESOME backgrounds, and very smooth and nice colour to work on. The basic premise of the day was to think of a topic, for example, goals and dreams, to write a list, and then from that list, choose images that speak to you, and begin to play with art materials. During quiet contemplation with the images and delving in deeply, to see what comes up for you during the process. Layer upon layer upon layer, we tried covering up words, adding words, adding images and much more.Or you could write a letter to yourself, and place it in a hidden envelope or pocket, using that a start for a page. We made a lot of pages throughout the day, it will be fun to go back and use these techniques. Traci shared so many of her amazing journals..... Overall, this was an awesome day!




JournalFest 2009 - Day 1 with Lisa Cheney-Jorgensen



All i can say, is that Lisa is just the sweetest instructor ever....what a quiet and gentle start to the whirlwind of classes. The class was entitled "With One Stone", and we concentrated on drawing techniques, including pen and ink and watercolour, with touches of colour pencil. We also practiced some image transfers. Basically, the idea of slowing down, really trying to "see" and draw what we see, but in pen rather than sketching with pencil. No erasers allowed!

After lunch, we brought in an object to draw, and began a single journal page. Of course, the leaves were irresistable, and I came back with a beautiful leaf. I think sometimes journal pages can be too complex, too many images, too many thoughts, so I liked the idea of keeping it very simple and concentrating on just one thing.

Following ink drawing, came watercolour, cross-hatching, layering of colours with colour pencil, and a relaxing afternoon hanging out with everyone in the class drawing and listening to iPods.




Only lettering left to add at this point....

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Tomorrow

Tomorrow I will post some photos from the classes I took, and some other thoughts I have about the things I loved about JournalFest.

The Most Amazing Fall Colour






I had no voice when I arrived at the Fort, as I was fighting off the end of a very bad cold, so I had lots of time to wander and shoot solitary photos while I tried to get better. This made it a little difficult to meet people, because I just wasn't feeling the greatest, and didn't want to pass on any stray germs that were still hanging on. But the colour of autumn was everywhere, and it was SO GORGEOUS, and I think I learned that even if I wanted to be all happy and sociable, this time, it was OK just to be introspective. be quiet and learn. But next year I will have my normal energy and then......woohoo!!!!

Arrival at the Fort - Unlocking the Past



I arrived on my own at the Fort very early on Wednesday afternoon and wandered down to the beach to explore. There were windswept vistas and raggedy trees. I ambled into the very deserted old bunkers with my camera. This was a contemplative visit for me, as I had so many memories of being here when I was just 12 years old, for my first "art and writing" retreat. I was amazed at how much I actually remembered. I remembered the "artist-in-residence", we called him Mr. Trethaway, and he led us on so many adventures through these old bunkers, he called it his "secret" place. We sat on bluffs and sketched and wrote poetry. I have vivid photos in my mind of producing our silkscreen and woodcut prints in the centre teaching rooms of dorm 225. How cool is that? I felt like a ghost of my own past. Wandering, soaking up the memories, seemingly nothing has changed. It somehow seems very important that I re-visit these memories, this place.




More from Fort Worden - My Cute Little Room




This was my room in Dorm 225. A nice little single room with a desk and chair, dresser, and bed, and clothes rack for hanging up things. It came with sheets, 2 blankets, a pillow and towels. I took the advice of other attendees from ArtFest, and brought some extra warm blankets to put on bed, a big towel, and a little bedside "booklight" which all came in really handy. Since I drove to JournalFest, I also brought a kettle and mug for tea, along with a few snacks. I was very comfortable...the only thing I had to buy were earplugs as the walls were VERY THIN!!!!!!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Happy Howl-O-Ween







To all the little ghouls and goblins....have a SAFE and fun Howl-o-Ween......now that my little ones are grown up and out of the nest, I had to resort to dressing up the cats.......they didn't seem to mind too much!


Now...if I could just resist eating all of the 'Oh Henry' bars out of the Halloween loot.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

JournalFest 2009 - Coming Back to Earth


JournalFest was a blast.....learned lots of new techniques, received inspiration and positive feedback, but most of all, it was WAY cool to be surrounded by so many other people who think that journaling is an important part of daily and artistic life. Everyone single person there had something to share and graciously did so...more photos to be posted soon. First, I've got to unpack all my new art stuff!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Port Townsend Photo Montage 2




A few more photos taken mostly around Port Townsend. I'm still working on putting together my "trades" for JournalFest. If you click on the image, you can download and save a larger image to cut and use in your journals.