Monday, October 20, 2014

From My Heart

It's a celebration today and the garden still had a little bit more to give. I picked a sweet, tiny bouquet to celebrate my 3rd anniversary on Etsy.

I can remember the butterflies I had in my stomach as I set up my Etsy shop and then launched it in October of 2011.

My paintings, prints and cards have since made their way across Canada, throughout the United States, as well as to the United Kingdom, France, Australia, Germany, Greece and Norway. Each time I hear the 'cha-ching' of a Etsy sale notification, I feel the same excitement and then rush to check what was ordered and where it will go.

Etsy has gone through so many changes in the past three years. Behind the scenes, it's sometimes been a bumpy ride. Despite that, I am thankful for all of the good things that being on Etsy has brought me.

I am particularly grateful to everyone who has bought my artwork over the past three years. I have the nicest customers. I really do.

Thank you for the kind words you have shared with me in emails and feedback. When I read them, trust me, I am smiling back at my computer screen. Thank you for telling me the occasions that you are ordering for and taking the time to tell me how you connected with one of my images. It means so much to me.

As a thank you, I am offering 20% off anything in my shop with the coupon code 3THANKYOU up until midnight EST tomorrow (October 21).

❤  ❤  ❤  ❤  



Monday, October 13, 2014

Giving Thanks


This is the Thanksgiving long weekend in Canada. My vegetable garden has provided in a very sparse way over the summer but it must have felt a harvest celebration coming as it has ended the season quite splendidly.  My big tomato plants did not thrive this year but the vines against the house produced a big bowlful of sweet, tiny cherry tomatoes.

I brought the tomatoes in on Friday because of heavy frosts predicted over the weekend. For the plants on the ground, I have covered them with sheets the past few nights with the hope of prolonging the season a little longer. The temperatures are supposed to be quite mild this week so I'd like to enjoy the garden as long as I can.

Yesterday, we ate our Thanksgiving dinner and I was able to pick sage, parsley and this sweet bouquet of baby swiss chard to use. I also picked some turnips and was absolutely delighted to pull out a gigantic turnip heart! Isn't it magnificent? I couldn't stop smiling and then had to run into the house to show everyone.

We made a traditional dinner of turkey with dressing and gravy along with roasted carrots and turnips, shredded brussel sprouts and mashed potatoes. For Emma's vegetarian main course and a side dish for the rest of us, I made a 'Roasted beet salad with wild rice, goat cheese and chickpeas'. It was so good! You can find the recipe I used here. Did I mention that Emma was home from university for the weekend?!? We were also very happy that she invited one of her friends from residence, a student who lives near Boston, to share Thanksgiving dinner with us.

Emma made one special request when she confirmed she was coming home for the weekend. She asked me to make a pumpkin pie. I was happy to say yes as I love to make pie although I don't make it that often anymore. Was it a success? Um, well. It's possible you heard me yell 'Oh no!' as I pulled it out of the oven. The filling had swollen like a balloon and then returned to its normal level but not before cracking in a million places.

Was I disappointed? Yes. Very. I tried to think about Leonard Cohen's 'Anthem' lyrics as they help me sometimes.

Forget your perfect offering 
There is a crack, a crack in everything 
That's how the light gets in.

But here's the thing. Leonard wasn't singing about pumpkin pie. I considered remaking it but that wasn't an option as the turkey was already in the oven. Finally, I heard a murmur from the garden. What was that? Did someone say they could help me?  I do believe I heard the nasturtiums whisper something about coming to my aid. And they did.

So this Thanksgiving, I am giving thanks for my family, my garden and its harvest, with a particularly warm nod to my nasturtiums who saved the day (or at least the pie). Happy Thanksgiving to all who are celebrating this weekend!

Nasturtium original watercolour on Twinrocker paper
❤  ❤  ❤  ❤  

I did some research on pumpkin pie cracking and apparently it can be due to overbaking and/or cooling it too quickly. I might have done both. One suggestion is to slightly undercook it by five minutes and then to leave it in the oven, turned off, with the door propped open with a wooden spoon and let it cool gradually. I will definitely give that a try next time.  


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Happy October!

Despite the chill in the air this morning, there is still lots of prettiness in the garden! Best wishes for a wonderful month! 


❤  ❤  

I initially posted this with just the top photo but it seemed too bare. (I'm not a minimalist.) I've added a few more photos from my garden tour this morning. Now, that feels better. :)

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Sunny Days and Seashells

I didn't realize how very attractive sunflowers were to bees until two sunflowers seeded themselves near our back door this summer. I feed sunflowers seeds to the birds in our backyard so there are usually a few self-seeded sunflower gifts throughout the garden. These ones however are so close to the house that they provide the opportunity for close observation. As I have been going in and out of the door in the past few days, it is rare that I don't see at least one bee on the sunflowers.

Our garden has frequent bee visitors which makes me happy since I know that their population has been declining in past years mostly likely due to pesticide use, specifically neonicotinoids. In our garden, the bee magnets this year were bee balm (of course), lavender, salvia and the sunflowers.

While I love seeing bees everywhere, there is something particularly happy about seeing one on a sunflower. They look like they were made for each other.

Speaking of busy bees, I have been busy painting a series of small seashell paintings. I am painting three sets of three. If you follow me on Instagram, you will have seen their progress. I am now working on the last one. I love painting natural objects. I love the challenge of observing an object closely and conveying the detail while still maintaining a painterly look. 

The creation of this series is a bit of a story. I did the first three paintings two years ago after I received a gorgeous gift of shells from my Australian artist friend, Cindy Lane. I was experimenting with different papers at the time (I love doing that) and each trio of shells was painted on a different paper. 

That was great as an experiment but it meant that the three paintings didn't really work as a set to be sold together because of the different weight and textures of the papers. So I decided (with some encouragement from my daughter Emma) to paint three sets of three. Threes abound. I used Arches 140 hot-pressed paper, BFK Rives 280 gsm and Arches 300 lb hot-pressed paper. The shells I have used as my references for the paintings are a mix of the Australian shells I received from Cindy, ones I have collected on past visits to Maine and a piece of mother of pearl that was a gift from my friend Sonia in France.

While my favourite brush for just about any painting is my Isabey No 8 brush, these small paintings have had me using my 3, 1 and 00 brushes! Each painting is taking me several hours and sometimes more than one day. Each little shell, because there are no two exactly alike, presents its own challenges. I'll post a photo of the paintings once they are completely finished.





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