A seed of Mischief … a handmade sketchbook

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Yesterday I said to Chloe that I wanted to get a new sketchbook to take with me to visit Nick and Joyce Bantock this weekend.

I told C that it has to be a Goldilocks sketchbook…you know…not too hot, not too cold, just right. But I couldn’t find anything Goldilockish enough. Mole sketchbooks are beautiful, but common. Other sketch books had bad covers, or too thick paper, or not smooth enough paper…basically either too hot or too cold and not just right.

Now it’s no secret that I have a huge crush on Nick and Joyce and admire their work, and, as I was running thru Nick’s books in my mind, I had a thought, “Wait a minute, what do you bring when visiting the Artful Dodger, the Trickster, when walking into the Forgetting Room?”

A handmade sketchbook. πŸ˜€

Anyway, how hard can it be?

So, in the art store, I bought a couple 5.5″ x 8″ black cover essential sketchbooks, (which just happen to have lovely smooth Goldilocks paper), and at Booklovers, my favourite used book store, I found the perfect Goldilocks old book.

I took the black covers off the essential sketchbooks and started taking the pages out of the old book.

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I separated the two sketchbooks into six bundles of 8-10 pages. (Apparently the bundles are called signatures! Now you’re in the know…lol)

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At first I thought I would keep two or three original pages at the beginning and end of the book, you know, to pay homage to the book and author, but the subject was so tragic, that soon all the pages, except for the endpapers came out.

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Then I used a makeshift bookbinding stitch and heavy cotton thread to bind the six bundles signatures together.

At this point I looked for a way to attach the paper back inside the covers. The only advice I found included using an awl to pierce the spine and sewing the paper back in. That was a nonstarter with me. I really didn’t fancy piercing that beautiful spine, so I decided to just glue it in. Now the advice was to use a bookbinding glue…which I don’t have…so I improvised with a cement type of glue. I also included a length of black ribbon as a book marker.

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Anyway, what’s the worst thing that can happen? The paper will start to come out and I’ll go and invest in a good bookbinding glue…lol.

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Then I clipped my book together, stood it on its spine and weighted it down with some iron weights, and left it on my silversmithing bench in the garage overnight.

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This morning I ran to the garage to see how it worked. Oh my gosh! IT WORKED!!! πŸ˜€

Look at the spine of my beautiful new sketchbook. Isn’t the title just perfect?

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Look at the beautiful pages inside.

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The stitched together bundles signatures seems to be holding firm inside the covers.

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But I still wanted to pay homage to the original book, so I composed myself a little love letter from the old pages.

This was a bit harder to do that I thought because the book is about a tragic heroine, the French Revolution, guillotines, death, hopelessness, but after searching thru almost all of the 200+ pages, I got somewhere.

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So here we go.

From the inside cover:

“What kind of nonsense is this?
“Oh, it’s a long story.”

Seed of Mischief
the book
painted by
me
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“So I made an original Lovely! book
with paper a dream and love
“It has occurred to me that it would be a good thing
“That doesn’t do any harm,”
true,
“Why?”
“I have a good eye for beauty, art a gift

So Why not? Why wouldn’t it work?
Why didn’t I think of that earlier?”

“I know.” “I don’t think so either,”

“Is there anything else to it.

“Take my word for it, Creation is the jewel of living

And
“Because you have the bravest eyes
“good child, good child,”
“How about you?
Come on, I’ll write it for you.”

How does that sound to you?
“Now let me read it,”

what is living about?”

“Perhaps I can find that out. Do you want me to try?”

Now the story I heard is on the pages of the book.”

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Announcing a new Drawing Challenge: the Trickster

Announcing a new Drawing Challenge: the Trickster

the Trickster

I’ve been a long-time fan, (and friend) of Nick and Joyce Bantock, (and also a repeat offender in Nick’s courses.)

In honour of Nick’s work, and to celebrate a weekend visit over to the island to catch up with Nick and Joyce I’m calling a DC with the theme: the Trickster.

The Trickster’s Hat, A Mischievous Apprenticeship in Creativity is incidentally the title of Nick’s new book.

Let’s all have a mischievous apprenticeship in creativity this week. As usual, I’ll post the DC post and links on Friday (May 15th), and we’ll all go visit each other over the weekend.

Please say yes and brush up on all your tricks. πŸ˜€

Will you draw, paint, sketch, write a poem, make some jewellery, stitch a pillowcase? All manor of creative endeavour welcome.

Doing everything right

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Today was one of those do everything right days.
Do you have those days? Do you know what I mean?
It’s one of those days you imagine having in your mind, you know, those kinds of days you know that you should strive to have every day in order to be healthy, productive, in love, successful, (fill in the blanks)… etc.

Today I made time to be with R on our daily phone calls. Really be with him, listen Β to him, joke, sympathise, be there; really tried to take care of my love and build our relationship.

Today I treated my art seriously. I went to work in the morning. I went to work and I worked! Started a large map. Decided on the map, decided on kestrels, composed them, drew them, started to paint.

Today I took a lunch break, away from the computer, away form the studio, away from work. Took a lunch break and played with Morgan, did a little gardening, walked around my garden read a little, and then went back to work.

(Morgan gave me the death stare when I picked her up.)

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Today I stopped work and went to my yoga class.

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I got there a early, took 20 minutes of meditation and then got into the class. I connected with my body, flowed thru every pose in the most graceful way I could, thought about every muscle, breathed into every tightness, released, let go.

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Today I finished a nourishing soup from a bone broth base and served it for supper. After my winter (with that nonsense we will not talk about), I was instructed to make bone broths to rebuild collagen and muscle tissue. For me, this generally involves boiling the left over roast Sunday diner organic chicken carcass with some organic beef bones for 24-36 hours in a slow cooker, then I strain out the bones and use the broth for soups. To this I added tons of organic vegetables: kale, carrots, cabbage, sweet potatoes, onions, celery…basically what ever I have on hand, plus a good cup of mixed beans and lentils and herbs from the garden.

Knowing that everything I eat is healthy and working to make me strong and to prevent any future nonsense is so important to me. Even though some days it’s just too easy to pop that frozen pizza into the oven and be done with dinner, taking that extra effort, and actually making a pizza from scratch, better yet, making that pizza with a cauliflower crust, is such a good way for me to say, “I love you body, and I’ll take good care of you.”

Thank goodness I brought my children up with really good nutritious foods, so C loves the kale rich bone broth soups.

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Today is a shining example of what I strive for every day.

Will tomorrow look like today? I doubt it. A 12:45pm dentist appointment x town will seriously cut into my day and will make me feel like a poor baby, so I can pretty well guarantee I’ll be more stressed with Robbie, want to stop at Sbux for a green tea lemonade, and try to skip out of yoga class…although I’ll probably go.

But for today I feel I should celebrate. Pat myself on my back and say well done.

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I met C when she came home from a day out rollerblading with Bryson and having tea with her friend Kat, and the first thing she said was, “nice Pippi Longstocking braids mom!” And I say, “What? Braids are over at 13? I don’t think so!”

So go out there and strive to live your best life, day after day. Try to do your best and forgive yourself when you don’t. I will, and you can join me. We can rock it together.

And for all those about to rock, I salute you. πŸ˜€

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Hello from Sunday night

Well then!
I’m feeling terrifically accomplished and successful and even am getting this post up on Sunday night! πŸ˜€ …although I’m hopelessly behind on commenting, visiting and replying to my comments. Boy, blogging is hard work. And to think that today I told Robbie that he really has to have his own website to showcase his brilliant designs. (What a rotten girl I am making more work for him!)
He said his YouTube and his forums were enough for now…unless I want to write his blog posts! 😯

But it’s been a wonderful weekend round here for us. C and I went climbing on Friday, instead of our usual Wednesday, and I was very pleased that I got to the top of two of the easier routes. (And to think I was doing this on cliffs 30 years ago. Oh well, I’ll work up to it again.)

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Saturday I stopped at my favourite nursery, Southlands, and had to take a photo of these brilliant signs Thomas put out. Yes, that’s my cart, those are my beautiful plants…hands off you pleb! LOL

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There was a plan to go to Costco. You know, that soulless, breathless, black hole of a box store, but neither C nor I could face it and so, citing hunger as our excuse, we drove past it to Ikea…OK, another soulless, breathless, black hole of a box store, but much more fun!

We had a little lunch and then walked thru it sitting on all the furniture, testing it for comfort and exploring all the rooms…(you know you love doing that)…

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…and having a general gigglefest. At one point, we made a video of C riding one of those huge shopping carts and bumping into the stacks of prefab boxes and sent it to R. Made him laugh.

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And then, we drove in exactly the opposite direction from Costco and ended up at the George Reifel bird sanctuary!

I’ve been worried about the world’s bees these past few years, and was so pleased to see the hawthorns, and all other blooms, buzzing with bees.

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We were so happy to see babies at the Reifel! Can you resist the yellow, baby bums? I can’t. So far one pair of Canada geese have three chicks and one pair of wood ducks have five. The breeding cranes lost their first egg clutch to a bastard mink, but they are sitting on a second egg. Fingers crossed.

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While I was up in the observation tower, I heard a strange bird call. No idea what it was, so decided to go investigate. The marsh is wet and boggy and no way to get off the paths, but I met a birder, an older gentleman, who told me it was probably a Virginia Rail. Then, on the way back, we met the sanctuary biologist, (who took a shine to C), who sang the call back to us and told us that the Virginia Rail chicks are much cutter than the Canada geese chicks. Impossible we said. He said, “take the goslings, multiply that by cuteness X 100% and make them a ball of grey-black fluff and give them legs which are miles too long for them.” Oh man! Now I want to find one!

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And then for something completely different! By 4pm, Costco was out of the equation, but groceries still had to be bought, so we had to stop at the store and I found this sexy thing! I took some photos for Robbie and put one up on Instagram. My son commented, “Eewwwww…Plymouth Prowler…C’mon mom!” and tagged me on a “real” rat racer! πŸ˜€ I’m like “what?” πŸ˜€ And had to tag him back on some brilliant photos I took of some rat racer earlier in the year. “Better” he said. πŸ˜€

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Saturday night C and I heard fireworks and ran upstairs to the studio and watched a lovely display on the downtown waterfront. Lucky us!

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Sunday morning I had a decision to make. I stopped at an antique shop on Saturday and found a beautiful journal. Someone who had a laundry business in 1949, then pasted pay stubs over the laundry lists in 1960. I love that waste not want not mentality and thought some of these pages would be wonderful as a canvas for some paintings. So I could paint. On the other hand, there were all the seedlings I still had to plant waiting on the porch…and a whole week of rain ahead and a garden show to get ready for.

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So planting it was, and gardening, and then, because one thing leads to another, then cleaning out the garage and organising the silversmithing bench.

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I had an inspiration.

Last week, I asked my friend Margot, (who has two horses), if I could have some straw for my strawberries. She told me that she has a whole hay bale that her boys won’t touch and I can have it. We made a date for today and I drove over to the stables.

My biggest mistake was bringing C along who immediately ran up to General for a nuzzle.

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And then to Levy. Last time she saw them was in Princeton.

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Margot and I moved all the hay bales off the one General and Levy didn’t want and put it into the back of my Highlander, and I looked around for C.
Where was she? At the end of the paddock making friends with the Clydesdale!

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Oh boy there’s a lot of hay in a bale! But I spread it around my strawberries, arround the raspberries and blueberries…

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…and then around the garlic, kale, peas and potatoes too.

I’ve never gardened with hay but figure it can go two ways, either horribly wrong or brilliantly successful, (or somewhere between). There’s only one way to find out. πŸ˜€

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While I was cleaning out the garage, C came by and found her professional fire hula hoop, (which will never be lit again), and gave it a whirl and left it outside. After spreading out the hay, I had a go with the hula hoop. WHAT FUN!
OK, now I want to hula hoop every day. Very surprised that I can keep it going for longer than two seconds together!

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And as a brilliant finish to this lovely weekend, at the end of the garden, past the strawberries and blueberries, under the Japanese anemones, I found a lovely display of lily of the valley. I collected a small handful and had a search for the perfect vase.

Really, what else could you ever put in this little vintage treasure?

Now on my bedside table for sweet dreams. πŸ˜€

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Sharing with Judith and the mosaic Monday bunch.

Drawing Challenge: Grass

Because little things are practice for big things, I decided to roll around in the grass at the house next door, (which is about to be torn down), and count the clouds! To me, little things and baby steps are key. They are a form of reassurance.

grass

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Art: watercolours, inks, watercolour pencils on (shock) Arches white paper! πŸ˜€

Come visit this lovely spring grassy group: Becca, Tammie, Renee, Marian, Ariane, Carole, Renilde, Viola, Nadine, Β Eric,Β Emily,Β Patrice, Renee, and Melodye.

Announcing a new Drawing Challenge: Grass

I’d like to call a new Drawing Challenge: Grass

grass
How about it? Is it fresh and spring where you are or still under a foot of snow? Is it blue and musical, or greener on the other side of the fence? Full of weeds like mine, (actually, just misunderstood flowers), or a pristine, evenly cut carpet? Do you play golf, croquette, polo, Badminton or tennis on it? Do you love it stacked into hay stacks or do you love to lie in it chewing the ends of the stocks and counting the clouds?

So go roll around in some grassy ideas and we’ll wash the grass stains off later!

Let me know you’re in and I’ll link everyone in Friday April 10th and we’ll all have a visit over the weekend. πŸ˜€

Drawing challenge: The Key

I took a little time to think about this one.
I discussed it with Robbie, who’s imagination is wilder and more wonderful than anyone I know, and he suggested a colour wheel. Then we somehow got to a bunch of colourful budgies around a bird feeder, like a colour wheel! Isn’t it amazing when you have someone who understands you to talk to? πŸ˜€

And the end result…finally, way late into the night last night…is this:

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May I explain?

To me, this fully represents the key to my art.
– An old map of Hawaii, not particularly valuable at all, unwanted, recycled to the thrift shop.
– The colour wheel and colour theory, each bird borrowing a bit of colour from the one beside it.
– Conservation, saving an old document, an old piece of paper.
– Awareness, choosing to paint an endangered plant, the Hawaiian Acacia Koaia.
– Birds! I know I paint almost anything and everything, (well, I’m pretty naff at portraits, so try not to paint those…lol), but I just love the birds.
– A community. A community of artists, all of you who I’m so grateful to know and love, a community of friends and acquaintances, either here, or in my personal life. Everyone who I have the privilege to interact with. You all support me, criticise me, help me grow and learn. Thank you, I treasure you all.
– And finally, it’s a large map which requires talent, materials and the space and time to create something.

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Come fly away with this flock and join us if you can.
Becca, Roberto, Carole, Tammie, Tania, Sus, Eric, Sharmon, Patrice, Marian,Β Joke, Ariane, Nadine,Β KatrinΒ and Stefanie.

We love anything artistic, (writing, painting, sketching, sculpture, collage, photos…decorated cookies…anything at all you can think of.) πŸ˜€

A bespoke pencil case

Here’s some terrific fun!

Recently, I booked us a week away in Mexico, and, having C’s children’s art class self portraits and Frida Kahlo on our minds, we thought we’d make a couple pencils cases to take with us. After all, how hard can it be?

So we got a little bit of raw canvas, cut four identical rectangles, and got to work.

We drew our designs in pencil, traced over with a sharpie, and filled in with acrylics.

frida

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front and back

It took a couple of days, but by this afternoon, when the sewing machine was transferred from the craft room into the studio, it looks like a bomb went off in here! πŸ˜€

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I’m not a very good seamstress, and so had to look at a couple of videos about fitting a zipper, but, in the end, it wasn’t too difficult.

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Bless the person who invented sergers!

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A few final snips and…

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Ta-da! A bespoke pencil case!

I love it. Now to finish C’s. πŸ˜€

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Birthday cake, Katrin’s drawing challenge, and a little tutorial

I have three children and they were all born as very special presents to me. Jonathan, my oldest, was born in July, and I took him home from the hospital on my birthday. Kerstin, my middle child, is a February baby, and I took her home on Valentine’s Day, Chloe, my baby, was born on Easter Sunday. All three had their favourite birthday cake which I always handmade for them. For Jonathan it was usually tiramisu, for Kerstie, it was fruit flan, and Clover wanted black forest cake.

But it’s still February, so we will focus on Kerstie’s birthday and and I’ll tell you what I used to always do for her.

Kerstie’s favourite flowers are violets; so much so that she named her middle child Isla Violet, and, here in the West Coast, they come up around her birthday. As a special treat, and if spring was threatening to be late, I used to cover and force a few buds, pick them, and candy them to add them to her birthday cake.

You all know that loads of flowers are edible, don’t you? And you all know how dead easy it is to do this, don’t you? Of course you do, you’re flower savvy like that. πŸ˜€

So it’s been years since my girl has been home for her birthday…she’s the mom of my three precious granddaughters and rather busy these days, but because it’s February, and because it’s tradition, I decided to candy some violets anyway for the next time I see the gang.

So here we go, this is all you have to do: Grab some violets from the garden. Equally easy to do this with violas, pansies, rose petals, borage, calendula…the list goes on. Grab a very fresh egg, and some super fine sugar. Grab a small paintbrush and your manicure scissors.

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You only use the egg white, but what’s the point of separating the egg for the infinitesimally tiny amount you use? And, besides which, you’re going to scramble that delicious egg for breakfast tomorrow anyway, aren’t you?
Just get your brush and brush a bit of the egg white on the flower. It doesn’t have to be all Martha complicated….sheesh!

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Now sprinkle some super fine sugar on it. Don’t have/can’t be bothered with super fine sugar? No problem, use ordinary sugar, just not icing sugar or you’ll obliterate the violet.

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Now put it on a dry plate and snip off the stalk.

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It takes almost no time at all, since we’re all a crafty and clever bunch, to get a whole plate full of sugared violets.

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Now they just need to go in the cupboard overnight to dry. Then they can go into an airtight container where they’ll keep for a while. Not sure how long because they just never last round here. They look and taste so great on everything from ice cream to creme brulee.

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But wait! This is a drawing challenge. πŸ˜€

I’ve been dying to do some more lino cutting. I’m not that good at it, and the more I practice, the better it gets, so, in honour of Kers’ birthday, violets it was and a hand made birthday card to go with the cake.

I drew some little violets on a piece of transparent paper, copied them to the back of the paper, and traced them onto a piece of lino. The pencil mark really transfers easily.

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Then came the hours of cutting and decision of crossed lines and how to handle the edges…etc.

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Then the exciting part: the first inking and pressing to see what I got!!! πŸ˜€

I’m always so anxious and excited to do this. Like a kid in a candy store!

Aaannd…there it is: mistakes a plenty. (shrug)

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But, after all, this is a handmade birthday card, so out came the inks, my funky plastic tray, requisitioned for an ink mixing surface, and my small roller.

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Please bear in mind that I have very little idea of what I’m doing…and I should really go and bug our Patrice for some advice…either that or learn reduction lino cutting…but I have a very limited amount of patience…and inks, and so I decided to mix a few inks and go for a sort of green.

Then I decided to wipe off the green from the violet blossoms.

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Now what? I don’t have a super small roller, can’t be bothered with figuring out how to make a mask, so I dragged a firm oil brush into some purple ink and applied it to the blossoms.

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AND: Voila!

One ink mess on the tray, one bespoke violet birthday card.

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Come help blow the candles out on Katrin’s cake and wish her a happy birthday and then stop by the gang and share a slice!

Happy birthday dearest, thank you for a fun and wonderful challenge. May this next year bring you happiness and joy. πŸ˜€

The important thing is the rhythm.

Always have rhythm in your shaking. Now a Manhattan you shake to fox-trot time, a Bronx to two-step time, a dry martini you always shake to waltz time.

But our annual grow your blog time…that has a rhythm of its own!

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Hello everyone, my name is Veronica. Welcome to my world.
It’s full of art. All kinds of art.

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I was born here in Prague,

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and now live with these two: Robert: mad genius, inventor, engineer, builder of brilliant machines which race at 200 mph, and Chloe, communications expert, saver of the world, bilingual blogger extraordinaire,

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in this quirky 1950s cottage in Oxfordshire, England,

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and this 1920s cottage in Vancouver, BC, Canada.

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That means I log a lot of travel time, can pack a suitcase in my sleep, and am experienced in the fine art of jet-lag survival.

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I photograph pretty images for stock agencies, but all the photos you see here on my blog are all for you. I’m big on sharing.

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I’m also big on learning, and love of learning and sharing means that I post a lot of how-to posts. Everything I’ve tried, from enamelling to silversmithing to wood carving, every one of the practical classes or lessons I’ve taken can be found here, usually under the “Try This, a Tutorial” tag. If you find that you want more info than what I managed to show in a post, then just ask. I’ll tell you everything I know.

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I have a love for vintage, exploring, gardening, and often you’ll find us somewhere far away at some car boot sale, thrift store, specialty rose grower, botanical garden…museum and so on. I also love anachronistic British cars, and, with Robert’s generous help, have restored a vintage Austin mini, and a series 3 Land Rover, (which were both saved from the scrap yard). I love to drive my cars.

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And, along with saving bits of the past, I save old papers from the recycling bin, and give them beauty and new worth thru art.

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Mostly I like to use paper which is close to or more than 100 yrs old, but in reality, I’ll paint on just about anything, and, when I get my act together, you can find little bits of art or silver in my Etsy shop.

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So won’t you stop by for a cup of tea with me and say hello while you’re here? That way I can come visit you too.

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I’m here most days. πŸ˜€

2014 grow your blog link
2013 grow your blog link

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