Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The End of April

And so the end of National Letter Writing Month arrives and with it, two more delights in my mailbox. A cute little teacup card from Laurie, with an actual teabag tucked inside.  A two page, newsy letter from Carol tucked inside a pretty lighthouse envelope made from a calendar page and enclosing, what a treat, the new songbirds stamps which I hoped to buy on my last morning in Florida but which weren't available at the local post office.  Thank you, ladies, for these treasures!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

April 29th

National Letter Writing Month ends tomorrow but luckily for me, there is still exciting stuff arriving in my mailbox.

I came home very late from work tonight, after 8:30 p.m. to be exact.  Hadn't had dinner yet, feeling very tired and very hungry.  Wasn't sure I had the energy to stop on the main floor of my apartment building and check for mail.  But since it's still April, I thought it just might be worth the trip and sure enough, it was.

Barbara sent me this postcard with a super sweet drawing of a mailbox - love it!
I got a little package from Sarah in San Diego containing a button necklace,
a cute little pendant made out of a piece of a wine cork
and this pretty pair of earrings (unfortunately damaged in transit but easily fixed by one such as myself who has also been known to make jewellery and just happens to have her own extensive stash of buttons!).
Last but not least, a letter from Audrianne with some stamps and postal-themed post-its - how did she know I might like to make some art with these lovelies?!
I especially love how she signed her letter, "peace, love, mail":

Thank you, Barbara, Sarah and Audrianne, for this mailbox magnificence!  Just what I needed after a long and tiring day at work on a rainy Tuesday at the end of April.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Motel Postcards

As National Letter Writing Month draws to a close, I thought I'd share some of the vintage motel postcards in my collection.

The descriptions on the back of the postcards are just as cheesy as the some of the images on the front, like the one below (which actually has very pretty architectural drawings on the front) advertising the Jacumba Hot Springs, a "health resort and town on paved state highway 80..." - because a paved road is a wonderful thing, isn't it?  They have "accommodations and prices to suite all classes".
San Diego County, CA
The "auto courts" and the pools seem to be the features of these hotels that get the most advertising when it comes to a postcard.
Holiday Inn, Hot Springs, Arkansas
This one of the pool and parking lot of the Quality Courts Motel Mercury in Nashville, Tennessee is one of my favourites.  Look at those vintage cars!!

I keep thinking I'll send these postcards out to someone some day but so far, I haven't.  I had the idea that I would like to send them to someone who hails from that particular town or area but strangely enough, I just can't bear to part with any of them just yet.

There are more cards like this to be found on this website:, you might want to check them out too!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Haiku My Heart: Nesting

Nesting has begun;
She keeps the eggs warm while he
stands guard over them all.

I was excited to realize this morning, as I parked my car in our office parking lot, that a pair of Canada geese have made themselves a nest on the property next door.
View from my office
It seems rather a strange location for a nest, tucked up next to the concrete curb in the middle of a parking lot.
Then again, it's probably pretty quiet there on weekends and during the day when most of us are inside at our desks.  It's probably only busy in the early morning, at lunchtime and for a couple of hours at the end of the day, as people walk by on their way to the bus stop on the next street.
I'm looking forward to watching this next for the next 30 days or so until the goslings hatch.  For now, I didn't want to get to close to her (which, I hope, explains the not so great photos). I didn't want her to feel threatened in any way.  Hopefully others will feel the same and leave them alone to get on with the business of hatching their little ones.

You can read more about Canada geese here.

Haiku My Heart is hosted by recuerda_mi_corazon.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Plaster and Wax 101

When I was in Mexico last year, I had the pleasure of spending a week with a group of amazingly talented women.  The very first one I met on that trip was Kathie Vezzani.  We both arrived at the Houston airport for our connecting flight a few hours early. After exchanging messages via Facebook, we met up in a restaurant in one of the airport terminals and sat and talked together for more than an hour before the others started to arrive. From the moment we first met, we recognized each other as kindred spirits and we were friends immediately.

One of the very first things we talked about was encaustic art - using melted beeswax, in its natural state or with pigmented colour added, to add depth and texture to your artwork.  Kathie has had lots of experience with it and I've always wanted to learn more about it, I had a lot of questions for her.  So far, I've only had one short class in it and I haven't done anything with it since then and I can't remember much about what I was taught in that class.  It has been in the back of my mind for a while now that I'd like to explore this medium more.

Kathie and I shared a table that week for the art courses taught by two lovely human beings, Judy Wise (no stranger to encaustic wax herself, being one of the teachers at Encausticamp) and Katie Kendrick. Some of the art we made that week involved using strips of plaster as a substrata for our paintings. I loved the effect that resulted, it made me think of all those fabulous frescoed walls and ceilings you see in Italy.  Plaster with paint and then wax layered over top - sublime!

Sitting with Kathy, I had the pleasure of seeing her creations come to life up close and personal.  She made it look effortless and everything she drew, painted and waxed was fabulous.
Kathie and me
I am excited to share the news that she is about to teach what I believe is her very first online class, Plaster and Wax 101.  The course is being hosted by Jeanne Oliver Designs.  Jeanne is another one of the amazing women I met on that week in San Miguel de Allende - also incredibly talented, also a lovely, lovely person, who just happens to have a website full of incredible courses.  I like to think of her as a conduit of art - bringing artists and teachers together via technology.
Alexis, me, Jeanne and Kathy in Mexico - Oct 2013
- four amigos!
If (like me) you've always wanted to learn how to use plaster and wax in your artwork, I encourage you to sign up for this course.  It's available at the early bird price of only US$29 until May 1st only (after that, the price goes up to US$35).  It's a 2 week course that begins on May 19th but the course content will be available for a full year.

Why not join me (and Kathie!) in having fun and learning something new? I know I can't wait to get started, how about you?!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

3 x Cool In My Mailbox

I received three very cool things in my mailbox today.

#1 = a postcard sent by one of my fellow Canadian participants in the National Letter Writing Group that made me laugh out loud.  She's from Edmonton but was vacationing in Florida.  Her husband picked it out for her.
Ironically, she mailed it on April 15th, the day last week that we had snow here in Toronto!! Katarina, how did you know??!!  And considering today was a chilly spring day with a windchill of minus 3C when I headed out to work this morning, bundled up in my winter coat, scarf and a pair of leather gloves, maybe I shouldn't be laughing at this postcard!?

#2 - a redecorated postcard that has been forwarded twice so far, I'm the 3rd recipient. How cool is that? I am now contemplating how to add on to it and forward it on.

#3 - a letter from a first grader.  One of the NLWM participants is a teacher and arranged for 17 of us to receive letters from kids. Thinking of something special to send back.

Such magical stuff being delivered to my mailbox this month!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Mail Love

Thought I share some pictures of some of the beautiful and oh so creative artwork that has been arriving in my mailbox the past few weeks.

This pretty card came all the way from Catherine in England:
while this gorgeous one arrived from Letitia in Italy.

Funny how both of our 2 international participants both chose people with umbrellas for their artwork. Perhaps they're thinking of those April showers? (of which we haven't had too many so far this month, although there was a light rain as I headed off to work this morning)

My very thoughtful designated penpal Christine from Alberta made me this lovely fabric covered journal
and included some fun-in-the-sun style stickers to use in my Florida journal.
Some people have been making envelopes out of magazine pages. I love how this one has a bit of text washi tape that reads "Clanging Cyn" (the rest of the letters that make up the word "Cymbal" was cut off, quite perfectly, says this Cynful Cynthia!).
Some cards have been handpainted or drawn, like this pretty floral one from Sandy in Louisiana:
Others have sent collaged postcards, like this one from Jackie in California.
Stay tuned for more peeks at the mail art I've been receiving in tomorrow's post.

Monday, April 21, 2014

My Mailbox is Full!

Full of wonderful, amazing, delightful, beautiful cards and letters from my fellow participants in National Letter Writing Month, that is!  I was away in Florida for the first 10 days of the month and came home to find a whole stack of deliciousness waiting for me.  My cat sitter was very impressed with all the colourful mail she was collecting from my mailbox each day!
Since then, there has been at least one and usually 2 or 3 pretty things in my mailbox each day (don't worry, I'll share photos in future posts).  A special thank you goes out to the people who sent these reminders of spring, which arrived on the day it snowed last week - I really needed something to cheer me up that day and these wonderful pieces of mail definitely did the trick!
Many thanks to everyone who has written to me so far.  I'm keeping all of this year's treasures in a stamp collecting book I found at the thrift store.
I've been putting them in the book in order of date received.
I'm a little bit in withdrawal right now, since there was no mail delivery on Good Friday or today, Easter Monday, but at the same time, it has given me a chance to catch up on my responses, as I always write back to anyone who writes to me.  Looking forward to checking the mail tomorrow!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter 2014

Happy Easter and/or Passover to those who are celebrating.  Happy Spring to all! (thank goodness it finally feels like it again here in Ontario - let's hope this warm weather stays!)  For many of us, this is a time to spend with family but for mine, April has become a bittersweet month, as my dad passed away on April 19th nine years ago.  I have learned that the grief fades over time but the sadness remains, you never quite stop wishing your loved one was still here, especially when holiday celebrations are taking place.

This weekend, while visiting my mother, my sister and I were delighted to have the opportunity to help her go through some family treasures, including a collection of old photos from when my father was a young child.  I don't remember seeing many of those pictures before, so it was a real treat to look through them.

Much to my delight, Mom let me bring home some of Dad's artwork he had painted as a young teenager, including this Easter-themed painting:
It has always been a bit of a joke in our family, the fact that the bunny is coming out of the egg and not the duck.  Even when he was alive, Dad never really had an explanation for why he painted it this way. We'll just call it "artistic licence"!  Nevertheless, it has always been a favourite of mine.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Haiku My Heart Friday: Patience

She sits on her nest
Waiting for the eggs to hatch,
Teaching us patience.
Tri coloured heron (with breeding plumage)

Haiku My Heart Fridays are hosted by recuerda_mi_corazon.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Birds and Iguanas

I've slowly been going through all the photos I took in Florida last week, close to 2,000 in all.  Still liking the bird photos from Wakodahatchee Wetlands the most, with the birds from the aviary at Butterfly World coming in a close second.  Now in the process of trying to identify the birds.  Like this little guy with the big yellow feet and striped neck:
A very lonnnggg neck when extended!
Update: I have since discovered the bird above is known as a least bittern, described here as "A tiny heron, furtive and surpassingly well camouflaged, the Least Bittern is one of the most difficult North American marsh birds to spot."  Sounds like I was pretty lucky to see this fellow!

And this pretty bird with the plume on his or her head:
Update:  This is a tri coloured heron with breeding plumage.

Both places had identifying signs posted, like this one:
which have been quite helpful to me after the fact, but the ones from the Wetlands don't show every bird that we saw that day. Which means I am Googling things like "bird with striped neck", hoping to match a name to the picture.

I went looking for "duck with orange beak" for this photo
and one of the results was (no surprise) this:

but it was quite easy to find out that these ducks are black bellied whistling ducks, thanks to this post by Kelly of Red and the Peanut (she has some great closeup shots of this breed).

What I didn't notice until I cropped this photo to get a closeup of the ducks was that there was a huge iguana in the grass right behind them, how cool is that??!
The same iguana we'd seen in a nearby tree earlier? Or a different one? Who knows? I did observe that they puff up that bit of skin under their chin when they are disturbed, as the one on the branch below only puffed up like that when a grackle landed on the end of the branch he was sitting on.
Before that, that piece of skin was nowhere in sight.
If you recognize either of the birds above, please leave a comment to help me out with this identification process! In the meantime, I'll keep looking.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Musical Pages

Here at the rest of the journal pages created by my fellow Journal Junkies, as revealed at our monthly meeting held at Bizzy B this past Monday night.

Laura's page contained all of the musicals she has seen performed live:
She also did a page of lyrics and read them out for us to see if we could identify which show they were from. We got most of them right and of course, had to sing the words!
Helen's page focused on Gilbert and Sullivan:
As usual, Marilyn did several journal pages.  One of her "Musicals" pages was based on The Wizard of Oz:
The second was devoted to musicals in general
and featured this image from the Internet of the first show ever performed on Broadway, "The Black Crook":
She also did a couple of pages using the alternate theme for April, fruits and vegetables:
My favourite was this one, "lettuce turnip the beat" - she is so clever!
Kelly's page was wickedly good:
Louise did Jesus Christ Superstar. Man, I loved that movie. I'm sure I wore the grooves out on that soundtrack, I played it over and over again back in the day.
Heather's pretty page featured The Sound of Music:
Donna's page had to do with an opera called "Tales of Hoffman".
Many thanks to Heather as well for bringing book pages for all of us to use in our artwork - much appreciated!

The theme for May is "accessories".  Can't wait to see what my artist friends come up with for that theme!