Friday, November 28, 2014

Haiku My Heart Friday: A Celebration

Candlelit magic
The welcoming glow signals
a celebration.
Photo from

53 today
Each passing year a surprise
Still feel young at heart.

You'll find links to more Haiku My Heart Friday poems on Rebecca's blog.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Arriving in Mexico

I have started downloading my trip photos, all 1600 of them.  I told myself I wasn't going to photograph anything I took a picture of when I visited San Miguel de Allende last year and for the most part, I think I was successful in achieving that goal. Nevertheless, there was lots of prime subject matter. Here are some photos from the first day.

The flight down was uneventful, although getting on the plane took a lot longer than I have ever experienced before. My flight was at 6:30 am so I arrived at the airport about 4:40 a.m., expecting things would be quiet. Instead, there were lineups everywhere. Apparently, they had just started processing everyone at 4:30, so the backlog was huge.  By the time I got through customs and security, it was 6:10 and they had already started boarding the plane! On the plus side, clear skies all the way to Dallas and then on to Leon, Mexico.
Our first stop after meeting our driver, Luis, at the airport was the drive-through liquor store (which is built very much like our car washes - you drive in and there are stand up glass fronted coolers lined up inside filled with all manner of bottled cold drinks, both alcoholic and non).  I've only ever seen this type of facility in Australia.  The only difference being in the land of Oz, you're just there to pick up supplies.  In Mexico, they open the bottles for you and you can drive off consuming same if you so desire.  Lucky for us, Luis only wanted a bottle of water. :)
But that's not the only thing that's different in Mexico.  It always surprises me to see people riding in the back of pickup trucks, especially when they are young children.
The Xmas reindeer are already on display, lined up along the street as you drive through a certain small town, there to entice potential shoppers.  These dogs certainly seemed to find them of interest!
I remembered this sign from last year's visit and tried hard to get a photo of it.  As you can see, it's not easy to do from the back seat of a moving car, I wasn't overly successful.
My rudimentary knowledge of Spanish made me wonder exactly what a sign pointing to "Canada of the Virgin" might be but according to Wikipedia, it is a pre-Columbian archeological site. One of these days, I hope to visit there to see the ruins.

We arrived in San Miguel de Allende in time for dinner on a nearby rooftop terrace just as the sun was setting.  The Parroquia looked just as beautiful as I remembered it in the setting sun.
Joey, Pat, Bonnie and Beatriz
After we ate (famished after as many as 12 hours of travelling with little or no food - when did they stop having food available on airplanes?!), we strolled over to the Jardin (pronounced "hardeen") to see what was going on. It was the start of a holiday weekend and the locals were out celebrating, socializing and enjoying the pleasant evening weather.
Then we headed back to Casa Carmen, where we were staying for the week, to enjoy a fiesta in the courtyard.  The fountain looked beautiful, decorated with candles and flowers.
The staff made tortillas, which we washed down with margaritas.  Very tasty!
We listened to music provided by two very talented local musicians and danced up a storm.
All in all, a great way to begin our adventure in San Miguel!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A Store Called Mixta

I don't quite know where to begin sharing my photos of last week's trip to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, so I'll just start with this place which has been on my mind for the past several days.

It's the building that houses a store called Mixta.  The store itself is quite interesting, a fascinating mix of clothing, artwork, vintage furniture and artifacts, novelty gift items, household furnishings and jewelry.  Quite a delightful shopping experience, as you can see from their website.  I also found this blog post written in 2012 by a woman named Robin which provides a bit of the history of the building as well as several photos of the store itself.

When we visited there this past Saturday morning, I wanted to take all of these items home with me, especially the wooden four seater:

But what I really love is the building itself, which dates back to the late 1700's, according to the store's website.  Like many places in San Miguel, the beautiful entryway
(complete with a stunning mosaic tile floor)
leads into an even prettier inner courtyard.
There are several rooms that open off the courtyard, most of which are open to the public and are to display the store's various wares and some of which are not.  Pretty doors like this one lead who knows where.
This room has the most amazing artwork on the walls. I'm pretty sure the design is painted on, rather than wallpaper (but I could be wrong!).
Next time I go back, I'm hoping to have more time to explore this fascinating building. And of course, check out whatever goodies the store has to offer!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Home From Mexico

I'm home from my trip to San Miguel de Allende last week and back to work but still not quite back in the groove of real life.  I have a long list of things I "should" be doing (finish unpacking, laundry, catching up on emails, etc.) but so far, I'm not really feeling like doing any of them.

Instead, I've been doing things that seem to eat up a lot of time in the evening but don't qualify as accomplishing anything on said "to do" list, like watching cute cat videos on YouTube.

I don't know how I ended up there last night but I somehow found a video on YouTube about two cats named Shorty and Kodi, also known as "ShoKo".  Turns out, there are 216 videos about these two posted and I watched several of them.  Went back tonight for a second helping.  Most of them are short and cute, with several laugh out loud moments included.

Here's an example:

Do yourself a favour.  Go to and type "shoko" into the search bar.  Make sure you have some free time cleared, you're going to want to watch a lot of them.

In the meantime, I'll get busy downloading my photos from Mexico and try to wean myself off the cute cat videos!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Greetings from Mexico

I woke up this morning to the realization that I hadn't blogged for a few days. I must be on vacation because honestly, the thought hadn't even crossed my mind before now. 

Here's a few photos:

The biggest church in town, apparently not a cathedral because there is no bishop there. 
Pretty glass tiles on the floor of my room. 
The courtyard of where we are staying, where we make art during the day. 
There are lime trees. 
It's so beautiful here!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Haiku My Heart: A Gift to Myself

Bags packed, ticket bought
Ready to fly away south
Art and warmth await.

Actually, truth be told, my bags aren't actually packed yet and not just because Suzie has decided the lid of my suitcase makes an ideal nap spot (a spot which all three of the other cats have since tested and enjoyed as well!).

It has been a busy couple of weeks. I've been running errands and trying to get things done in the evenings after full days at work, taking care of all the little things that need to get done before one goes away for any length of time.  Laundry, keys to cat sitter, stocking up on cat food and litter, etc.  Because my birthday is coming up in just a few weeks time, there are also things like driver's licence and health card renewals to be sorted.  Last weekend's art classes with Limor Webber were great but consumed the entire weekend, with little time or energy left to do anything else and certainly not to prepare for this trip.  Plus I haven't been sleeping well lately, averaging only about six hours a night, as my mind whirls with details and lists, while still adjusting to the switch to daylight saving time (anyone else lost an hour's sleep every night since then?!)

All of this added up to a stressed and worn out little old me, I've been feeling tired and run down and grumpy about anything and everything. I woke up yesterday morning feeling bone weary, not sure if I could even get through the day. Definitely feeling like I need a vacation but not wanting to arrive at my destination frazzled and cranky.  So I decided to give myself an early birthday gift. I am taking one extra vacation day (my last one for 2014!) and using it today to slow down, relax and putter as I pack. This extra day gives me time to savour the process of choosing what items I'm going to take with me, try on different outfits and challenge myself to take as little as possible while still being prepared for all the eventualities of Mexico in November (warm days, cool nights, very little rain expected).  I'll have time to play with my art supplies as I choose which ones I want to take with me. Time to finish a journal I've been making that I want to take with me to record the week.  Time to double check my lists and make sure the wheels won't fall off any of the carts while I'm away. Time to go to bed early before getting up at oh-dark-thirty to get to the airport in time for my 6:30 a.m. flight tomorrow, instead of being awake until past midnight hastily cramming too much stuff into my suitcase in a last minute scramble to make sure I have everything I might need.  Such a treat.

By dinner time tomorrow, I'll be safely arrived at my destination, relaxed and enjoying a margarita with a couple of old friends and meeting new ones, ready for whatever adventures await us in the week ahead.

Looking forward to spending time with Orly Avineri and Rebecca, the one who brings us all together with these Friday haikus at recuerda_mi_corazon.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

This Week's Sketches

My Sketch365 project continues with this week's sketches:

No 8 - a toy car
No 9 - "a" is for apple
No 10

No 11
No 12 - when you're too pooped to sketch!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

A Weekend With Limor Webber

Enjoyed taking three classes taught by Limor Webber at Bizzy B this past weekend.  It's not often we get a Canadian instructor in mixed media but Limor hails from Edmonton, just a short plane ride away.

In the Friday night class, we made this gorgeous butterfly painting called the "Fly Away Mixed Media Canvas".
Lots of layers, lots of paint and new techniques and getting our hands dirty - loved it!
Here's the class with our finished canvases:
Saturday was all day class, spent making two abstract canvases.  We painted two 20 x 24 inch canvases, very large, very intimidating - especially when faced with the blank canvas at the beginning!
This one was the first one I painted and it seemed to take forever to finish but eventually I did, thanks to Limor, who helped me over the rough spots and was full of encouragement and assistance whenever one or the other (or both!) was needed.
Here's our group at the end of the day - as usual, completely different results from each artist but using the same techniques!
This second canvas took less time but was still somewhat challenging.  Thanks to Limor's suggestions, it looks less busy than it started out to be.
The group with their finished paintings:
The fun part was that the whole thing was painted not with a paint brush but with a palette knife! Here's Limor giving us a demo, with her own painting in the background.
In Sunday's class, we worked on two layouts on canvas that could just as easily have been done on paper.  Unfortunately, we didn't have time to finish either one but I'm looking forward to getting back to them at some point in the future; will post photos when they're done.  Here's Limor and I at the end of the three days, happy but weary!
Thank you, Limor and Bizzy B, for a fabulous and very artful weekend!