A New Painting

Over the last few weeks I have made an effort to draw regularly in my sketchbook, as promised to myself. When I get an idea in my head I try to at least mark it down so that I will remember it later. So far I have drawn a lot of turtle shells and practice calligraphy. On the first page of my book (must have been in December or January) I drew a composition reminiscent of the fox I painted last year. It was still in my mind and I wanted to try a different approach. The drawing was pretty complete so I kept it in mind to paint later. Today felt like the day.

Foxtail Oak Butterfly

I am a bit confused about the way I decided to paint the acorn top, on a whim. It seems more abstract than everything else, but I guess it ties in with the zig zags on the wings. I had started a few pictures with latin quotes {like the mountain} and that was the intention here but I haven’t decided what to write yet.

What do you think?


Wordless Wednesday

Actually, the words that come to mind are Soft kitty, warm kitty, little ball of fur…



Purr, purr, purr…


Soaps and Solid Shampoos

When I packed for BC, I left my bottled body wash at home in favour of a bar of soap, to save my clothes from a messy spill. It got me thinking about packaging, and how many bottles I go through just for beauty and hygiene products (let alone food packaging and everything else). So I decided bar soap was the way to go, there are lots of great products out there that use little or no packaging. I bought some bars from Purple Urchin Soap; their soaps smell incredible and feel really smooth on the skin. They are also local, they use biodegradable packaging, and they delivered my order to my doorstep.

I also decided to try a solid shampoo for a change. After all, it’s just glorified soap! I went into LUSH: as a store I find to be overly scented and I have found some of their bath products to be fairly greasy. I do love their Karma scent though, and they had a Karma shampoo bar which fit the bill for my experiment. So far it is great; I wash my hair fairly regularly and it doesn’t make my hair feel “too clean,” i.e. stripped of its oils. Also, when you take the bar away from the store, the scent is a perfectly pleasant patchouli, not overwhelming.

I'm also trying their Jungle Conditioner bar, but so far I have mixed reviews about it. I think you need to soak it before using it, which doesn’t work in the shower so much. I have heard of using Apple Cider Vinegar or Baking Soda as a shampoo. Has anyone tried this?


Why the picture of frogs? Why not?

{from the Vancouver Aquarium}


Happy Valentine’s Day!

We are still in the cold grip of winter for a little while longer. I took these pictures in Vancouver last month; I am so jealous that their flowers start to open in January, regardless of the snow they got.

Here’s some PINK for you today:






Sweet Cake

A couple of weeks ago we baked a Walnut Cake for my Dad’s birthday. We happened to have in-shell walnuts, and I thought it would be fun to make some little candles to go on top. I remember making them when we were kids, and this post refreshed my memory.

I cracked the shells very carefully and set the nuts aside for the cake. I melted a couple of beeswax candles I had {I never burn candles, but I love the smell of beeswax} and poured them into the shells. I reused the wicks, which worked well except that they took longer to light because they were coated with wax.


DSC_0003 copy

And the cake was delicious. The recipe was similar to this one, with chocolate ganache poured over it. YUM!


Two Swans, Three Ways

I took a couple of photos of this Mute Swan, who was completely engaged in preening and oblivious to me and my camera. I was able to get pretty close- they truly are elegant birds, with their long necks and snowy white feathers.

It was a fairly bright day, as you can see the warm light of the late afternoon sun in the ripples of the water. But since this picture was taken in the shade, I lightened it in Photoshop. I have a few Photoshop Action Presets which I have never really mentioned here. Mostly I use them for efficiencies like adding light to an image with one click. I use The Pioneer Woman’s presets quite a bit.



I downloaded a few presets from Florabella and CoffeeShop a couple of years ago and they are a lot of fun to play with. I like the image as it is, but the subject is so feminine and I felt that it needed softening and warmth. One of the presets is called frosting, which essentially adds a pale, opaque wash of pink over the image:

Mute Swan Soft 1

Mute Swan Soft 2

Then of course I had to try it in black and white. The Pioneer Woman has a high contrast black and white preset that works well on certain images, but on others it can make the white overpowering. There is so much white in this image that I had a feeling it would give it and interesting advantage: cleaner lines and fewer shades of gray:



I have learned a lot using these presets, most of them are left open so that you can adjust the layers and levels yourself. Of course I could do a hundred things differently~ the possibilities are endless! What are your thoughts on the process? Do you use presets? Which ones do you like best? Which of these effects do you prefer?

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