Dec 31, 2010

My New Year's wish for you

May you find joy in the simple things in life
A very Happy New Year to you all!

feline model: my cat Ninja

Dec 30, 2010

What if I could fall in love with my body?

detail from collage in progress

Lately I've been feeling like I'm floating along without 'purpose'.
I'm not working due to disability and not volunteering for the same reason.
Although it doesn't come out a lot on this blog, I have pretty bad depression most of the time (though it has improved a lot since August when I had an amazing Energy Medicine session... when I do my homework the improvements are even better :)

I've tried to make my art my Purpose and it doesn't quite fit.
My art is one of my major Passions and I've always liked the idea of having my Purpose be one of my Passions... I'm not sure why it's not working. I wonder if it's because my art doesn't have big goals?

I had a very powerful dream recently in which I saw myself from behind, doing pull-ups/chin-ups in a backless top. I could see muscles and strength!
I can't even do half of a chin up in my waking life :-)
At the same time that I was seeing my body from the outside, I could also feel what it felt like to be in that strong, powerful, healthy and fit body. It was wonderful!
I've always hated exercising and have never had a body like I had in my dream and I awoke thinking, "What if I could have that?"
I wonder if I would hate exercise less if I thought of it as working toward a goal I desire, rather than a chore I feel I 'should' do?

I felt inspired and motivated and began going through magazines to make a collage, wanting to capture that motivation in a visual form that I could hang on my wall as a reminder. I hope to finish and post it soon.

In the process of cutting collage pieces, I found myself suddenly thinking, "What if I could actually fall in love with my body?"
It seemed inconceivable. Yet enticing!
For many, many years, my body has been a source of frustration and suffering, either not being able to do what I want it to or having all sorts of symptoms I don't want it to have. I feel that I have no control over my body, that I'm powerless.

I've decided to try and change my relationship with my body.
Perhaps if I start falling in love with it from the outside, it will sense that love and begin to balance on the inside.

created at

Dec 16, 2010

Handmade Christmas Cards

In a bit of a flurry, I realised this week that I had delayed too long, as usual, in sending cards out. I have store-bought cards I can use, which would have saved time, but my memory dances all over the place and I can't recall which ones I sent to which people last year! I don't really want to send anyone the same card 2 years in a row so I decided to make some by hand. After a few tries, I came up with a design I liked that didn't take too long to complete:
The background is done using the markers & plastic wrap technique I posted about a while back. It's an easy way to get slightly textured looking backgrounds in a snap without using paint. It doesn't warp paper like wet techniques do.

The balls were made by colour copying my red and green paper weaving, using a circle punch and attaching with glue(stick). The 'strings' are sparkly red gel pen.

I decided to brighten up the back of the envelopes using hand-carved eraser stamps. This snowflake is my most recent carved stamp and I am totally in love with it! It was a project that I was daunted by and doubted I could do... and so put off doing for a long time rather than try and fail. When I finally tried it, it worked out wonderfully! I never know when something may turn out to be much easier than I thought it would. :-)

Video of a hawk behind my house

I filmed this short clip yesterday during some snow flurries and posted to Youtube for anyone who would like to take a peek :)  You get to see it take flight at the end  ~.~
Things like this really make my day!  It was wonderful to see.

Hawk In Tree

Dec 14, 2010

Add Character To Envelopes

I love decorating envelopes before mailing them to people.
I try to keep the decorations simple and quick to do so that if they get damaged in the mail, it's no big deal :-)

Here's an example of one I made recently before sending to a friend who likes blues, turquoises and spirals:

On a piece of paper, I used stamping ink pads for the coloured background, silver pen for the spirals and silver star stickers leftover from my holiday sticker garland project.  Then I glued the piece of paper to the envelope with a gluestick, trimmed the edges, taped the envelope closed and addressed the other side.   All set to go!
It was quick, easy and fun and I hope that it will brighten some postal worker's day.

I try to re-use and re-purpose as much as possible.  The piece of paper was scrap from the recycling bin and the envelope was re-used (hence my needing to tape it closed :)

Dec 8, 2010

A Fun and Frugal Holiday Garland

When I first began working on Christmasy projects a few weeks ago, I had a hard time deciding whether or not to post them on my blog.  I'm not Christian but I love so many things about this holiday.  Since I have a hard time with words, I'd like to borrow from Christie of Grace is Overrated, who perfectly expressed what I had been feeling on this topic.  In a recent post she said, "I didn't want to offend those who might celebrate differently than I do or not at all, for I know that Christmas is not a universal celebration.  Most of all, I want this to be a place where we all feel welcome and appreciated and included."
Thank you Christie, for saying that so well!
I hope that those of you who don't celebrate Christmas will not feel hurt or excluded.  If you'd ever like to adapt one of my projects to a holiday or event you celebrate and want ideas how, please contact me - I'd love to brainstorm.  :-) If you adapt a project and share it online somewhere, please let me know in the comments so I can link to it!  I would love that.
This project in particular lends itself well to any occasion one wants to decorate for.  I love it so much that I plan to make one in rainbows to have up at all times.  Not to celebrate anything (well, I suppose to celebrate my love of rainbows :)

I originally planned to make this garland by punching circles from cool paper and gluing to a string.  I quickly discovered that I didn't have the patience to get the gluestick on the circles and line them up on either side of the string before the glue dried... at least not for the time it would take to make 12 feet of it!  I had the circles all punched out and was very disappointed until I had a sudden brainwave...
No glue.  No punches.  EASY!  And best of all, FUN because I love stickers.

This holiday garland has some parts that could easily be done by children and some best for adults.


  • tape (I use painters tape because it is easy to unstick from walls, string, fingers etc)
  • 1 package of coloured circle stickers (any colours you like)
  • thread or string (any colour you like - I used silver because I like sparkly things)
  • Optional:  1 package of coloured metallic star stickers (or any sticker you like that is smaller than the circles)

I already had thread and tape on hand so this garland cost about $2 in stickers bought at a dollar store.  If you use only circles, it would be around $1

Step 1. (kid-friendly)

Stick the star stickers onto the circle stickers.  You can use contrasting colours.  I decided I liked how it looked best when the star was the same colour as the circle.  This photo doesn't show it well but when the light hits the stars, they reflect.
They don't need to be even - this step could easily be done by any age of child that could be trusted with stickers.
Idea: children could also draw on a few of the circles instead of putting stars on them.  They may enjoy later picking out their drawings as they look at the garland.  Another option is to spell out words - 1 letter per circle.

Step 2.

Tape a length of string between 2 walls in a corner.  You could also tape one end to a table and the other to a wall. If you leave the string attached to the spool, then you don't have to calculate how many stickers will fit on what length, just keep on sticking until they are used up!
If you look closely on the left, you can see that I experimented with having circles and stars alternate on the string - it was much too finicky to get the stars to match up evenly so I abandoned that idea.  You can also see that I didn't immediately think of putting the stars on the circles before attaching them to the string!  Trust me, it's way easier to do Step 1 first :-]

Step 3. (not so kid-friendly)

a) Stick the stickers to one side of the string.    I stuck one on the string, pressed the string firmly onto the adhesive and was able to let go while I got the other sticker from the sheet.  This may not work as well if you were using a heavier weight of string. It doesn't have to be in the exact centre.
b) Stick a matching colour of sticker to the other side of the string, lining it up as close as possible to the first sticker.  Don't stress out if they don't match up perfectly.  Once I hung mine, I couldn't even see the mistakes.
c) Decide how far apart you want to space the stickers and repeat steps 3 a) and b) until your garland is as long as you want!

I made a big long garland but this would also look very nice in many shorter strands hanging down vertically from a ceiling.  I used my experimental alternating star/circle piece to hang down from the centre of the garland.

To prevent tangling:
As you fill up the length of string you have taped between the 2 walls, you can loop the finished pieces and tape to the wall like this:
To store:  I will wrap it around a piece of cardboard that I've made notches in each end of, then put in a file folder or envelope.  You could also wrap it around an empty paper towel roll as shown in the photo on this blog: Polka Dot Garland

When made with thin thread, this garland is very light and airy.  It is held up to the ceiling with Scotch tape and has not threatened to fall down.  I doubt the entire 12 feet would hold with just 2 pieces of tape but I hung it in scalloped sections and it's holding well.

If you try this project, or a variation on it, and post online, I'd love if you'd comment with a link!

Happy decorating!

Dec 7, 2010

SNOWtographs and List It Tuesday

For today's List It Tuesday list, I decided to write a few things that I love about snow... since I'm a few days into one of the biggest snowstorms I've seen in my life!

The snow began innocently enough about a week ago and I danced around all excited at the first snow of the year, taking photos like this boring one that I'm now glad I kept for comparison:
First bit of snow
It snowed gently here and there for the first few days and then, within 2-3 days, almost as much snow dumped down on us as fell throughout the entire winter last year!  Snowly moly!  Apparently the reason just one small region can be hit is due to something called The Lake Effect.

Same shed about a week later!

Gracefully shaped snow overhang

I love the way the snow hangs over... seeming to defy gravity

Watch where you walk!

It looked magical last night... I'm looking forward to tonight after another 24 hours of snow!

* * *
I apologise for the big spaces between photos.  They don't exist when I create the post and Blogger won't let me edit them out!

Dec 1, 2010

Christmas-y Wordle

Have you played with Wordle yet?
I love it. :-)
Basically you go to the Create page, type (or paste) text, hit the Go button and edit how you'd like the words to appear (horizontal, rounder edges, random shape, font, colours etc).  You can edit a custom colour pallette like I did with this Holiday-themed Wordle.  The more times a word appears in your piece of text, the larger it will be.  Therefore, if you want different sized words, you will need to have some words appear more than once.

You can write your own text or play around with copying and pasting poems, songs or writing from online sources.
click to see larger image

One of the few things I don't like about Wordle is that it doesn't make an image file you can save.  I got around this by using the ridiculously easy screen shot tool in Windows Vista called the Snipping Tool (which I just discovered today and am very excited about :)

Nov 30, 2010

Christmas-y Things I Want To Do: List It Tuesday

I've been intending to take part in Aimee's fun List It Tuesday for a while but I never seem to get around to writing a list by hand, photographing it, uploading, editing... and then posting here.
So I decided to make a list in Windows Paint today instead.  It's a real bugger to work with so it helps me to relax, knowing that my drawings will look amateur no matter what I do :-)  Somehow that stops me from being too perfectionist.

Here's my list of Christmas-y things I'd like to do:

Nov 25, 2010

Hand Stamped Wrapping Paper

I had so much fun decorating the wrapping paper for this gift and wanted to share a picture with you of the final result.
I'm normally too much of a perfectionist and it gets in the way of me enjoying some artsy/craftsy things.  This time I somehow turned off the inner critic and just had fun!  Nothing is really even, the wrapping job is a bit lumpy... and I don't care LOL!

The stamps: the star stamp was hand-carved from an eraser.  The rest were store bought from Michaels.
The ink: inexpensive dye-based stamp pads - also from Michaels.  The silver dots on the trees were added by hand with a new gel pen I am loving.
The paper: I have supplements shipped to me by mail and I always save the packing paper to re-use.  It is not very strong so I doubled it up to make sure it wouldn't rip when the gift was handled.

Nov 22, 2010

I Love Paper Weaving!

I spent almost the entire weekend with the computer turned off and was impressed with (but not surprised by) just how much more time it felt like I had.

I recently read about using a paper shredder to make paper strips for crafts instead of having to cut them all by hand... what an awesome thing!  So many types of paper (please see disclaimer at bottom of post) can be fodder for the shredder - magazine pages, the cool patterns on the inside of security envelopes, sturdier wrapping paper, paper bags, drawings, paintings, colouring and art journal pages you don't need any more, coloured envelopes you receive in the mail, construction paper, sheet music (which you can photocopy if you want to keep the original - thank you S. for that awesome idea and for sending me sheet music in the mail! :)

The strips of paper can be used for many different crafts but my favourite is paper weaving.  If you have a paper shredder and think you may like paper weaving, I encourage you to try it out!
I tried coating them in glue afterward and the one that used about 50% construction paper did very well and stayed flat.  The one made entirely with thinner paper warped but I will try putting it under some heavy books to see if it will flatten out.

Here are some photos:
Christmas-y colours.  I will likely cut this piece up to decorate cards or make ornaments with.  This is the piece that had construction paper and survived the glue very well.

Music weaving start.

Music weaving finished.

I found it a bit boring all white and black and decided to try stamping on top of it... not very happy with the results but I find it interesting enough that I will try this method again :-)

An abstract watercolour painting on paper was the source for this weaving.

If you experiment with paper weaving and post online, I'd love if you'd include a link in the comments section!  I love seeing other people's experiments :-)

*disclaimer and warning*
I have no idea if any of the paper suggestions could jam your paper shredder... please proceed with caution! :-)  With the shredder I used, the super thin, flexible papers ended up shredding in a slight curve and were not straight-edged.

Nov 19, 2010

BlueBird of Happiness - detail from art journal page

This small piece is one of my favourite parts from a larger art journal spread that I've been puttering with over the months.

You can click on the image to see a larger version (hopefully it works - this blogger feature has been causing me some problems lately).

I find art journalling so healing and therapeutic.  I often begin by laying down a background of words or images that express a difficult emotion I am processing, then when I have kind of 'gotten it out' I continue adding layers and transform the 'negative' into a viewpoint I'd like to have that is more positive.  It's rare that I art journal without realising something very important about myself.

The nice thing is that when I go back months later and look at a page, I usually can't recall the angst that began the page - I only recall the positive message/learning that came out of it!

Tip: the lid from an old toothpaste tube can be repurposed into a fun stamp that makes two circle sizes depending on which end you use.  I like the frilly edges it makes.  The border around the bird's 'nest' is made with a hand carved eraser stamp.

Nov 15, 2010

New Camera Excitement!

I am so excited!
I have a new camera... finally!
The Fujifilm Finepix S1800 which has a clever enough Auto Mode that I can take nice pictures easily and flexible enough manual settings that if I ever learn more and want to adjust them on my own, I won't feel trapped by too simple of a camera.

My favourite part is that the Macro function is easy to use (simply press one button) and it works.  Pictures are actually in focus - something that has been an issue with the macro function on all of my previous cameras.
Equally exciting is that fact that it has a Super Macro function (simply press the button twice)... I didn't even know about this before purchasing so it was a lovely surprise.  The Super Macro function can take pictures as close as 2cm or around 0.8 inches!  So awesome :-)
Come spring and summer, you will likely see many flower, plant and hopefully bug close ups here on the blog.

What I find very interesting is how much more aware I am of nuances in my surroundings now that my creative mind is looking for 'photo-worthy' images.

Batteries are charging as I type this and I will be posting photos soon!

(the camera takes 4 AA batteries which is another thing I love about it - I use rechargeable NiMH batteries and they have saved me so much money over the years as well as being more environmentally friendly.)

Nov 3, 2010

Lovely Autumn Shadows

On sunny mornings lately I have been loving the shadows on my dining room wall.
They are created by the sun shining through dried up flowers outside my patio door window... and also a few butterfly 'window clings' I have on the glass.

I still don't have a camera so these are taken with a video camera that has just one quality setting: 'sure-to-make-you-wish-you-had-a-real-camera!'.  That's not the official name of course... but it should be LOL!

Here's the view looking out the window showing what's creating those shadows (in the background you can see the pink sweet peas that have only succumbed to cold weather in the last couple of days!):

I also enjoy these shadows created by brass bells amidst leftover morning glory vines.  I played around a bit in my photo editor to give it an antique look.  Sometimes it doesn't look like shadows on a wall at all to me but rather objects seen through heavy fog:

One of my cats likes to 'help' with the photos  >^..^<

Sep 28, 2010

Mandala Drawing 1

As you can see, I love colouring so much that I can't wait until a drawing is 'finished to begin to colour it in.
The only thing I don't like about this is that I would love to make copies of entirely black and white drawing and be able to use them later as colouring pages.
I'm trying to discipline myself to do some drawing without colouring as I go along... for the express purpose of being able to copy them... and maybe share them here in case you'd like to print some out to colour in too!

early in the process

later in the process
I actually kind of prefer how it looked before I drew all of those lines around it (the ones filled with pink and greens).
Oh well!  :-)

I just have to say, again, that I am in love with Pigma Micron pens. (No financial interest)  I just love how they don't smear when I colour on them with marker (or watercolour paint).

Sep 25, 2010

A Poem: Weeding and Shedding Old Skin... and a Poll

Today my 'creative every day' endeavour was writing.
For those of you who enjoy poetry or prose poetry, I've posted a new piece over at my writing blog called Weeding and Shedding Old Skin (as well as a photo of a wonderful snake letting me stroke it's soft skin).

I've also created a little poll here on Divinity Withinity.
I'd love it if you'd take part and let me know what type of posts you enjoy most here!
It's my first try at creating a poll so hopefully it will work!
It's on the upper right hand side of this page. :-)

I hope you're having a great day!
It got cold overnight here in southern Ontario.
The giant garden toad has burrowed into the dirt with just it's head sticking out... very wise.

Sep 24, 2010

Critters in the Gardens

I am a person who can get over-the-top excited and happy about a bug.
A praying mantis to be precise. (if you're freaked out by mantises, scroll down to the tiny amazing gold beetle instead :)
A few weeks ago I was having a very glum day and sat down on the steps outside.  Something made me look down to my right and I gasped!  A beautiful praying mantis was sitting in a plant less than foot from my leg!
I put down my hand and it crawled on.

Look at those amazing segmented antennae!

I was in heaven and just sat there for ages looking at how incredibly delicate and intricate it's body was.
It never ceases to amaze me that such an effective predator can be so calm and gentle with humans!  I have caught and held mantises (mantii?) since childhood and have never had one show aggression toward me though I have heard it can happen.  The word 'caught' is actually misleading because when I put my hand in front of them, they simply crawl onto it. :-)

tickly little feet :-)

It also kind of amazes me that I can enjoy such a big bug and not get creeped out.
Mantises enjoy crawling up which meant that it wanted to crawl over my face to sit in my hair.  Except for a butterfly, there is no way I would let any other bug that big do such a thing!  And not many small bugs either.

Also seen in my garden recently was an amazing tiny beetle that looked like it was made of liquid gold.
Unfortunately, the macro function on my camera didn't work (it has since been taken to the camera graveyard) but I'll include this picture anyway in case anyone can help me identify this shiny little bug:
To be honest I think it is the one that has been chewing huge holes in my morning glory leaves but I don't mind. :-)

UPDATE: I found out that this beetle is the fascinating Golden Tortoise Beetle - it can actually change colour!  So cool :-)

The day before yesterday I was sitting on the steps with my (indoor) cat, giving him some fresh air.  We were lucky enough to see a big grey mouse run around the corner and disappear under the steps below my feet!  In broad daylight.  Very happy cat ;-)

Then yesterday, most wonderful, sitting in the same spot... we saw a HUGE TOAD.  Likely the biggest toad I've seen in my life.  As big as my fist, more than 3" long, about 2 feet away from my feet and not minding our presence one bit. (once again my cat was pretty happy about this)
It was feasting on big flying ants that have been all over the place recently.  Toads are so cute and funny when they eat.
No photos I'm afraid.
A neat toad fact I hadn't known before today: when growing, toads shed their skin!  Every few weeks!  (and they shed it in one piece and eat it... ick).

I get so excited about critters in the garden

Sep 21, 2010

The Magical Forest - returning to my heart

Yesterday during a meditation I was reminded that painting is the pathway to my heart... in a way it is my heart.
I have been drawing, sewing, doodling and more but haven't painted in over a month.
It takes a bit of prep work to begin and once I do, a time warp occurs and I emerge finding hours to have passed!  So I'm more likely to take an 'easier' or 'faster' creative path.

Yet when I do take the time to paint my spirit soars!
I am more in the moment than any traditional meditation can bring me.
I feel free, joyful, excited and immersed in a state of wonder at the beautiful colours and shapes that blossom.

I'm calling this piece The Magical Forest after the woods that live inside of me with my heart at their centre.
The heart is not seen directly here but the glow from behind the trees is from it.

The Magical Forest

Apologies for the photo quality.  When I get a camera upgrade, I will update the photo. :-)

Technical stuff for those interested:
I didn't use watercolour paper for this because I wanted some of the paint to be more diffuse and spread into the paper itself (watercolour paper has 'sizing' added to help prevent this).
I used 135lb smooth drawing paper.  Acid-free.
Tape paper on all sides with green painter's tape, pressed down firmly onto a metal clipboard.  can use masking tape but it is more likely to rip the paper when removed.
Wait more than 12 hours to remove tape.
The wait is worth it - it may feel dry to the touch and you may despair at how it's still warped but if you leave it long enough, this weight of paper will shrink almost flat again if the tape is pressed down well (and didn't get horribly soaked by water or paint).

Sep 10, 2010

6 Random Things About Me

Random piece in progress

  1. I never get tired of Terry Pratchett books (NFI) - they are the one thing guaranteed to make me laugh out loud every time.  I love laughing out loud :-)
  2. I love storms - whether white-out blizzards or torrential rain.
  3. I hold back from trying to draw/paint/create more than 75% of the things I want to because I know I will not be able to make them 100% symmetrical.  The thing I do create never are symmetrical and no one else seems to mind... I so want to get over this!
  4. I still don't have my driver's license (I'm 34).
  5. Unless I have guests, I eat cake and pie right out of the pans I bake them in (I'm thinking a lot about baking yummy things now that it's cooling off enough to use the oven).
  6. I sing to my cat... and he loves it   >^..^<
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