Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Illustration Friday ~ Invention

"Eureka!" he exclaimed as he revelled in the invention. And the fish soared higher and higher - finally experiencing the wind against their gills.

Great topic this week! I really had a blast painting this one. Of course my flying fish had to make another appearance ;-)

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Tiny Shiny Art

Hello blog friends! I'm so excited to give you a peek at one of the Christmas projects I've been lucky enough to work on this year. I have some very talented entrepreneur friends who invited me to create original illustrations for their latest endeavour called - drum roll please....

I met Kay and Jeff through work - we are all artists working under the same big corporate roof. They always have some creative project on the go and this time I'm so thrilled to be a part of it! A couple months ago, they ordered and recieved a button maker which magically presses cute little one inch buttons - and since it arrived, they have been unstoppable! This creative duo have made fabric buttons, limited edition illustration buttons and even some originals that they've painstakingly painted/drawn/collaged at the teeny weeny 1" scale.

I've contributed some illos for Christmas and here they are as a finished product - their packaging is so slick and professional! Unfortunately my camera is rubbish, so it does nothing to display what it looks like in person; but, fortunately, they will be updating a website and since Kay has a background in photography, there will be no lame photos!

Here are the scans of what the illustrations actually look like. The buttons are so cute and I'm totally pleased with how they turned out. The big debut of all the buttons will be at a local craft show here in Coquitlam, BC on Dec. 1st, 2nd and 3rd. Check out tiny shiny art for the details if you are in the area - you do not want to miss out! They also have big plans to build up a website so everyone can shop for these gems - and they even plan to expand with other shiny product lines. I'll be sure to keep you posted.

So, there you have it folks. My big excuse as to why I have been so inconsistent with Illustration Friday and creative posts in general. I'm knitting away for some xmas gifts and I'm even sewing some ornaments for family stocking stuffers. I just really hope I can finish everything in time - the countdown has officially begun. Tick tock!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Welcome November

Well, it finally hit me that winter has arrived. We just got back from a weekend at the in laws in Grand Forks and we were struck with a dump of snow there and back. The lower mainland is experiencing major downpours, but the interior of BC is definitely seeing the white stuff.

I can't say the weather has brought on any sort of Christmas spirit - I regret to disappoint anyone, but I'm really not the most festive person when it comes to this holiday season (I know... bah humbug). I love the time with family and friends - all the eating and drinking...and eating some more. But it is such an exhausting time. Already I am overwhelmed with lists of things to do before December 25th.

But here we are, suddenly it is November. And time is certainly not slowing down for anyone. Last week we got the shocking news that Hubby lost his job (it looks like his boss is selling the business). This was difficult information to process, but now that we've had the week to mull it over - I feel surprisingly calm and hopeful for his future; our future. Sometimes we need to be pushed out of old comfort zones in order to move ahead in life.

And on the subject of being pushed forward...tomorrow brings another birthday for yours truly. *Sigh*...where does the time go? Last year was the big 30, and I was so traumatized about falling into the next decade that I didn't really pay attention to any aging that was affecting my body or mind. But I have to say, I do feel the age this year. I'm pulling out a lot more grey hairs and I notice that I shop for eye cream that contains anti-aging remedies. Also, I don't seem to keep the brownies or chocolate off my hips the way I used to and I noticed a frightening sag in the skin just below my chin (am I getting jowls??). Yikes! Did you know that every 7 years our bodies regenerate all new tissues so that we are completely different persons? How bizarre!

But I shouldn't dwell on the negative changes. I do notice that my thought process has definitely matured, and I have become MUCH more patient than I ever used to be. I still feel like I'm trying to figure myself out, but I am trying to be more open when I'm faced with the ups and downs of life. What I learned in Europe was that I really want to experience each moment for what it is and not be so obsessed about what is going to happen next. That is a tricky one for me since I am probably the biggest worry wart out there. But, there it is and that's all I have to say on turning 31. Except that some new art supplies will be the most excellent b-day gift ever and I plan to hit the store this weekend. Yay!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Illustration Friday {Smoke}

I think one of the cornerstones of the Parisian diet is a fresh cafe au lait and a long cigarette. The French people are so glamorous and the air is so...hazy.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Embroidery for Swap

I'm so frustrated with my camera...I can never get decent pictures when they have a lot of white. Alas, here is an embroidery that I sent off last weekend for this swap . I've never participated in any sort of online anything before, so this is all new territory. I started to click on the links of other people who have sent something away and I was so totally impressed by every blog...gulp. I hope they like my little patch. The photo also looks crooked, but actually it is completely square - I just don't have the time to doctor it up in photoshop.

We're having a bit of a rough week here in Sallyland, but I still want to finish an illo for's coming along, just not as well as I had hoped. Anyways, I'll try to post it tomorrow night.

One quick note: I just wanted to thank you all for your lovely comments on my travel posts. I had forgot to mention that I survived the flights pretty well - much better than expected. We all had our own personal tvs which was a huge help, especially on the way home when dealing with overwhelming impatience to get to my own bed. But thank-you for your concerned emails and comments! You guys are the best :)

Friday, November 03, 2006

Europe - Part II

Warning! This is a very loooong post - I'll wake you up when it's over :)

Holland - where we found a sense of home...

What else can I say about Holland except that I think it could easily be my second home. I love this country. I know, we were only there for a brief period of time, but of all the places we travelled though, I found this country resonated the strongest for me. Bicycles, canals and rows upon rows of tall, teetering houses - seriously, I felt like I was in some sort of fairytale when we arrived in Amsterdam. I think the dutch people are fantastic, they keep gorgeous homes and obviously value family and community. Harry recieved an email from one of his writing mentors saying that the difference between Canadian cities and many European cities is that they are planned around people, rather than cars. This is so true about Amsterdam, but we felt this even more when we visited Harry's relatives, Ben and Nel, in Utrecht. They took us on a tour of the countryside, and made a stop in the tiny village of Cohten. This was a very special stop since it is the town where Harry's mother was born and where the Van Leur family originated. We toured a windmill and the church that his family attended.

Our sightseeing highlights in Amsterdam:

  • NightTrain to Amsterdam - talk about close quarters! VanGogh gallery and RihksMuseum (original Rembrandts, Vermeer and Hals as well as the history of Holland)
  • A visit to the Anne Frank house
  • A walk through the Red Light district - oh, how naughty!
  • Daytrip to Utrecht and Cohten
  • Bicycling through Utrecht - I really MUST get a bike. This was defenitely a highlight of the entire trip.

While in Holland, I learned that Gouda is defenitely a superior cheese and that a panekoek is best with apples and sugar - mmmm... I also found out that the government has made home mortgage tax deductable - how cool is that!
I had a wonderful time getting to know Harry's relatives, learning more about life in Holland. I have come back inspired to simplify my life and really focus on to the things that mean the most to us. Ben and Nel are both incredibly creative people - they keep a simple, beautiful home; filled with the warmth of home cooking, music and art projects. When I had a conversation with Nel about my life and work at home, she just said to me; "I hope you find something to do creatively in your daily work." She was so genuine and adament about this simple statement that I found ringing over in my head throughout our travels.

And onward to Brussels

We were NOT ready to leave Holland. The train ride to Brussels was quiet and reflective as Harry and I mentally prepared for a new unknown city. Our first impressions of the city were quite mixed. We both found this to be a strange contrast of rich history against fast emerging business and commerce. We both agreed that it felt like the city didn't feel comfortable with it's past; perhaps they were just impatient to get on with the here and now.

At any rate, here are the highlights:
-Walking through the Grand Place and area for shopping and eating
-Musee des Beaux-Arts
-Musee de la bande dessinee - comics! with lots of TinTin
-Antique browsing in Sablon and a visit to famous Belgian chocolatier
-Palais do Justice - impressive architecture!

We had a bit of a rough go with Brussels, but I have to say you cannot get a better gaufre chaude with whipping cream, strawberries and chocolate - delicious! Also, where else would you be able to find a cherry beer except in Belgium. I did appreciate all the treats that were offered here. Also, the architecture really was something to marvel at - particularly the palais de Justice. For a couple Canadian kids who consider an antique some item from the 50's this city was quite the eye opener. Wow!

Paris! Leaving Europe with a bang...or, was that more like a fizzle?

Oi, we were exhausted by the time we got to Paris. We were getting seriously worn out from the days and days of walking and we really needed to do some laundry and slow down to conserve energy. First day in this magnificent city we spent in our rented apartment doing laundry, watching bad french cable and eating a home cooked meal. Ah, the simple pleasures in life. The rest of our time was fairly typical of any tourist. We hit all the main attractions, enjoyed the shopping and holy cow, let's not forget about the unforgettable cafe au lait! Perfection!

The weather had turned a bit grey and cold shortly after we got there and this concrete city began to look quite melancholy. I had so many expectations of what Paris would be like, but somehow it fell short. Don't get me wrong - I was totally blown away by the art, architecture and style of everything around us. But, perhaps it was the overcrowded streets, the unending tourists, the overpriced everything - I don't know, but we had certainly had enough by the time the week was over. Also, it was unfortunate that Harry picked up some sort of virus while we were there which started out as flu symptoms and escalated to something much worse when we got home. So, I suppose our Paris experience is not the best in the world, but it certainly was memorable.

Overall this trip was worth every second and every cent! We discovered a lot about ourselves as travellers and how we relate to each other as a couple. I know I couldn't do this trip without Hubby - it was so unbelievable to share all those moments with him. I feel happy to be home, but even happier that we have so many memories between us. (Now I better stop before it gets too sappy!)

[Clap Clap!] OK, you can wake up now! The slide show is over :) Hope I didn't totally bore the pants off you, but if I did it's a good thing you can just stop reading! Ha! Now it's back to normal routines. I'm anxious to get going on Illustration Friday again as well as some Xmas projects. Stay tuned - I'll keep you posted!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Back to Familiarity

Sigh..big sigh...Yes, we are back at home. We were happy to be off the plane on Sunday night and into our own warm cozy bed. This was totally an adventure of a lifetime for us since neither Hubby nor I are world travellers and I honestly don't think either of us is cut out to do the long backpacking treks. We are still nursing individual levels of exhaustion and unfortunately Harry caught a horrendous virus in the last few days in Paris, so needless to say he was done with travelling and just wanted to go home. Done like dinner.
I like to think I could handle longer travels - perhaps an extended trip through Italy, then Greece and Turkey. Or maybe something more exotic like an African Safari or some sort of expedition through the Australian Outback. But really...who am I kidding? I can handle about 3 weeks and then I'm dreaming of being back home, cooking in my kitchen, watching tv, lazing on the couch with all my knitting projects.

But here we are...and today was my first day back at work. I had been dreading this since Monday - thinking it is going to be so awful to get back into the routine of being in an office. Blah, boring and completely uninspiring. This was all I thought after experiencing so much beauty in each new place we visited. I was in for a surprise though. I am happy to report I have been assigned to a new project which promises a lot more creativity than what I've been working on in the past. This industry changes all the time so I don't know if this will be permanent. But for now, I am hopeful and content.

As we settle in, I'm noticing that a lot of things about this trip are finally starting to sink in. Many travel days passed like a whirlwind and at dinner I'd think...what did we do yesterday? Then I'd draw a complete blank. Luckily I kept a travel journal. Somewhat cryptic; with doodles and thoughts randomly jotted all over the page. But it makes sense to me, so it's all good. I'd like to share some of my thoughts about each place we travelled to, along with some of my journal pages and perhaps more photos. But don't worry, it won't turn into one of those painful travel slide shows that you are convinced will never end. I'll be sure to break it up into a couple posts to keep you from nodding off ;) So, here goes...

Our first stop was Augsburg, Germany to visit our good friends Colin and Marlene. They moved here 5 years ago to start Colin's international career as a professional tenor singer.

Our sightseeing highlights:

  • Schloss Neuwanstein (the castle that Disney based his signature castle)

  • various cathedrals in Munich and Bavaria

  • an afternoon shopping and wandering around the MarienPlatz

  • a visit to the concentration Camp memorial in Dachau

Bavaria is so beautiful - it so reminds me of home with the green landscape and mountains in the distance. The weather was amazing the entire time we were there - we were even wearing shorts to accommodate the heat. This photo was taken from the castle window when we did the tour. I'm sure it could be found in some story book - it did feel quite magical to be there. Although it wasn't anything like Disneyland...

We had many wonderful times visiting with our friends. We caught up on lots and heard all the plans for the baby they are expecting. I learned that Germany has got a kick ass health care system and that it's worth paying to use a public WC. We also enjoyed excellent cooking by Miss Marlene. They are impeccable hosts and it is times like these that I am so very thankful for generous friends. We are incredibly lucky!

I'd have to say that the visit to Dachau was the experience that stuck with me most. This place is haunted by the atrocities that took place during the war. I was overwhelmed by the barren spaces, an open gravel field where the prisoner barracks once stood. There were so many of them. So many people who suffered. Honestly I don't know how respond - I am still speechless after having time to absorb it. In my journal I just called this a big open space of sadness.

Well, that was our short visit to Germany in a blur and a nutshell. We were only there for 3 days and then it was off to Amsterdam, Brussels and finally Paris! But I'll keep that for the post tomorrow!