Author Archive

Danielle Daniel at Sugar & Spice

Where do I even begin?  I was so fortunate to get the instructors in the order I did at Sugar & Spice.  I couldn’t have planned the way everything unfolded any better.  I felt like I was completely stripped raw, then built back up again before being sent back out to conquer the world.

I had the gorgeous Danielle Daniel on my first day and she completely tore us down to reveal our true inner selves.  She had a series of quick & dirty questions to help get us to our core and focus inward.  This was brilliant as it had us starting our retreat and painting immediately from a place of truth.  I think it also made us all realize that our stories are important, which is something Danielle is a huge advocate of.

 I don’t have too many photos of Danielle as she isn’t a fan of having her photo taken but here she is with her vivacious personality teaching up a storm.

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She brought some of her beautiful pieces to inspire us.  You can totally see her Metis heritage bursting out of them.  So lovely.

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My backgrounds on watercolour paper, which I totally enjoyed doing.  This is where I started warming up to the florescent colours.

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Danielle completely took me out of my comfort zone.  She pushed me more that day than I have been able to do with myself.  I was totally uncomfortable with what I was doing most of the day.  I don’t paint faces, ever.  I do girls who remain faceless.  I have always had this perfectionist side of me that felt if I am going to do them, they must be perfectly proportioned, so I just stayed away.

This was my first girl and my first girl ever with a face.  Even before I added the word, Danielle came over and told me that she looked very strong.  I was quite pleased that is how it came across even though I wasn’t entirely happy with how her face turned out.

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For this one I was channeling “love” and thinking how lucky I was to have found it.  Weird thing is, when I got home, out of every single piece I did, Chris picked this one out as his favourite even before hearing her story.

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This one is entitled “free”, free from the labels I was given or gave myself as a child.

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To me, this was more than just a day of art, it was a day of healing and I can’t possibly thank Miss Danielle enough.

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So happy she is Canadian and even lives in Ontario.  I am trying to make it out to her retreat in September.  Perhaps a little birthday present to myself.  Anyone want to come join me???

Sugar & Spice Art Retreat

Wow! Is the first thing that comes to mind when I think about my adventure to Port Townsend for the Sugar & Spice Art Retreat hosted by the lovely Anna Nasset.

It was such an amazing experience that I have been struggling to capture it in words.  When a group of like minded people get together something magical happens.  We just “get it” and each other.  I know our families and friends get us as well (hopefully), but this is entirely different.  This is the stuff that feeds our souls.

I shall get into the art portion of the retreat in another post (I have so many pics) but I thought I would first share pictures of the trip and of beautiful Port Townsend itself.

Here are the beautiful Cascades from the airplane before landing in Seattle.

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From the front of the ferry, crossing from Seattle to Bainsbridge.

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My first night there, after checking in, I found this adorable restaurant.  I pulled up a stool at the bar and asked the bartender for something sourced locally and preferably from the ocean.  I got this delicious bowl of oysters and clams in an amazing tomato, garlic and basil sauce.

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My hotel was this gorgeous historic building with 20 foot ceilings called the Palace Hotel.  It even came with it’s own ghost.  They say room 4 is always the last to rent as it has a spiritual resident who likes to provide travellers with a bit of trouble, haha.  Luckily I got to room with Ginger (of Red Pear Creative), whom I had never met before this retreat.  Such a calm and centred gal.  I am so glad it worked out as well as it did as she was awesome and I feel very fortunate to now have her in my life.

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The opening night was held at the AOT Gallery which is owned by Anna.  Here is one of our teachers Danielle Daniel, Nancy and Sylvan.

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Two more of our teachers Juliette Crane, Mindy Lacefield and Ruthie (who I will later find out is one of the most vivacious 73 year old I had ever met, haha.  Although that wasn’t really her age, she just told people that so they would tell her how amazing she looked-she was every bit as awesome as she sounds-)

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Here is who everyone is listening intently to, Anna, our lovely hostess.  Filling us in on what we can expect over the next few days.

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The Q & A held at the Cellar Door with the artists.   Where I had a yummy risotto.  This place had great ambiance as well.  A few of us went back for a drink on our last night.

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The Cannery, which was the hub of the retreat.  Amazing building, right on the water and there was nothing like looking up from your art to a view of the ocean to stir up some creativity.

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One of the many docks in the town which was right behind the Cannery.  Love the colour of the old wood.

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All of the gorgeous girls.  Everyone got along so well we all had dinner together most nights.  Such a great time getting to know each other.

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Such a special little town that had everything you could possibly need, an ice cream shop, book stores galore, tons of shops and even a diner…

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 But not just any diner, it had a back deck on the ocean which is where we had dinner on our last night.

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 The view, from most places was incredible.

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At our closing, the talented and cutie patootie Joyelle (of Joyelle Brandt Creations)surprised us with her amazing singer/song writer skillz.  The moment she opened her mouth, all of our jaws dropped and goose bumps ran up my arms.  This girl should have never given up on music which can be found on Itunes btw, under Sonicjoy.

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Here I am with my soul sisters (as Ginger so aptly named us).  Joyelle, Andrea (of Poppet Art Studio) and Ginger.

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I feel so fortunate to have been able to experience this retreat and meet every single woman who attended.   They will all hold a special place in my heart.  It truly was magical.  Well done Anna!!!

I will share the art parts of my week over the next few days but I felt the teachers were so great that they each deserved their own post :)

P.S. I was lucky enough to have an afternoon in Seattle at Pike Place market on the way home, you can check out those photos here if you would like.

BeYOUtiful Souls Art Retreats

I have news!!  As some of you may know, my word of the year for 2013 is CHANGE.  Little did I know when I chose this word how much change my life would actually go through this year and it is barely June.    By the end of the month, I will be laid off from my job that I have been at for 6 years.  This is a very scary prospect for me as I have pretty much always worked.  I started working at the age of 15 I believe (if you don’t count the paper route I had at the age of 12).  But, in my usual “let’s make lemonade from lemons” mentality, I am going to take this opportunity to jump into my art and creative business with both feet…


Besides being creative my whole life, another constant has been my love of being a hostess.  I am constantly throwing birthday parties for the girls, hosting Easter or Christmas dinner and volunteering to help out with showers.  I love to show people a good time and to make them feel welcome in my home.  So, I thought it was about time I combined the two.  This is something that has been calling to me for quite some time but I guess I have been too afraid to leap.

In comes my dear and fellow artist friend Lauren of Layered Creations.  We have been friends for many years and have been on a parallel path to making our dream come true of being full time creatives.  We sometimes creep each other out we are so similar.  We even bought each other the same pjs for Christmas one year and we live clear across the country.  But I digress, we were chatting on facebook one day and both kind of blurted out that we really wanted to start hosting retreats.  We chatted for hours over the next few days, then BeYOUtiful Souls was born.  We are both beyond excited that we are doing this, her out West and myself in the East.  I will be heading out to Red Deer in October to teach at her first retreat and hopefully she will be coming to Aylmer in March of 2014 to teach at my first retreat. Maison Bruyere2

I am hoping to offer retreats in March, June and October of every year and I have found an amazing and serene venue which is just minutes from my home.  The Maison Bruyere has so much beauty and history that when I walked through it for the first time and laid eyes on the grounds, I knew I had found the place.

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This old convent has a sense of calmness about it and I can really picture people rejuvenating their heARTs and souls there.  The old furniture is beautiful and there is even an old theatre.  You know me and all things old, I have totally fallen in love with this place.

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I hope one day that you can join one of us on our new adventure to show you an amazing artsy time that is all about you.  To help you forget about the day to day tasks and worries and focus on yourself for an entire weekend.  You need to remember that YOU are WORTH it.  We all do!!

Workshops at the Savoir Faire

Hi there, The Savoir Faire is quickly approaching.  It is this Sunday, June 2 from 10:30 to 4:30 at the Aydelu Centre in Aylmer, Quebec.  There will be over 35 talented vendors with gorgeous jewellry, funky clothing and yummy treats.  I also wanted to fill you in on some workshops that are going on. 

 The first workshop will be given by Krysthle Poitras of Krysthle Designs.

Bracelet Workshop

RHINESTONE BRACELET AND CHARM-  10:30am to 12:00pm at a cost of $35.00

This is a beginner jewelry workshop where you will learn the techniques to make a beautiful 24K gold-plated bangle with charm.  In this workshop, you will learn how-to use rhinestone chain to create beautiful bangles and how to use crystal clay to create crystal encrusted charms.  All materials are included and tools will be provided for the workshop.  (Please note that the finished project might differ slightly from picture).


The next two will be taught by yours truly, ME!!

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ART/WORD JOURNAL – 12:30pm to 2:00pm at a cost of $35.00.

We all have a story to tell.  Whether it is through the written word, art or a combination of both, one must have a beautiful book to contain all of this brilliance.  We will be turning a vintage book into a journal and work of art.  Everything will be supplied.  If you have an image that you feel represents yourself, please bring it.

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VINTAGE DOILY 12X12 CANVAS – 2:30pm to 4:00pm at a cost of $35.00.

Come join me in making a wonderful textured creation using vintage plastic doilies and all kinds of mixed media goodies.  We will be slapping sludge, modeling paste and paint onto to a 12×12 canvas for you to take home and display with pride.  Come lose yourself for a couple hours.  Everything will be supplied.

 You can head to the website to sign up under the Workshops tab.  Hope to see you there!!

Monday Journal – Fly Mixed Media

I guess this didn’t post last night so here is me trying again…

This week’s Monday Journal was inspired by nature.  We were camping over the weekend with our girls.  It was our first weekend out and it was great, except for Sunday.  It rained ALL day which meant we were all in the tent trailer together for most of the day.  2 adults, 1 puppy, 1 two year old, 1 eight year old and 2 thirteen year olds (Milah brought a friend).  I am sure you can imagine how much we wanted to scratch each other eyes out by the end of the evening, haha.  I really wished I had brought a portable art kit with me.  I really must put one together that I can grab on the go.  I am exaggerating a tad as it actually wasn’t that bad.

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I knew I wanted earthy colours and leaves.  I started with my 2inch circle punch (cause I love circles) and covered my pages with them.

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I then circled the punches with silver and orange paint using my finger.  I also applied modeling paste with punchinella, being careful not to cover my circles.

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I didn’t have any leaf stamps handy but I did have feather ones so that is what I used.  I bunched them together to give the effect of leaves and I embossed them using an American Craft Zing! Aqua embossing powder.

I then stamped some butterflies (another of my favourite things) onto a patterned paper and cut them out.  I also threw some buttons on.  Here is the first side…

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And the other.  Voila, the Fly mixed media layout.  The one word “Fly” was inspired by the Collage Obsession challenge for this week.

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I hope you are taking the time for yourself and getting your art on.

Visit to Almonte – Part Deux

 To continue my post from yesterday, here is Almonte’s historic town hall.  The tulips were starting to come out.


 I have been dying to visit the Tin Barn Market so that was on my must see list.


 I was super excited and I hadn’t even stepped foot in the store yet, haha.  Can you blame me, look at the stash.


We were greeted with this adorable message on the biggest chalk board ever.


A well aged first aid kit.


They had a great collection of old cameras and bottles and… so many things.


So much awesome stuff everywhere.  They have done such a great job with the displays and choices of items.  I certainly was not disappointed and hope to be back soon.


Before we headed out of town we took a little walk behind city hall across the foot bridge.


Such beautiful sights, this town truly is very picturesque and shall add it to my list of places I wouldn’t mind living in.


I leave you with my Friend Jen’s daughter, striking a pose for the camera, too cute.



Visit to Almonte – Part One

I had been wanting to head to Almonte and tour a few stores for a while now and luckily I managed to get my friend Jen as excited about it as me.  With Handmade Harvest going on last Saturday I figured it was the best day to head out for a girls day.  So we packed up the kids and off we went.


It was at the impressive Agricultural Hall.  We were hoping to be one of the first 50 to get one of the famous swag bags but no such luck.  There was a HUGE line-up to get in when we got there.


 My first purchase was made at Infinite Purpose Jewellry.  Her stuff is made from vintage flatware.  I bought a leather bracelet that had a silver piece attached which reads “Bravery” to remind myself to be brave during this year of change.


 Her pendants are classy with an edge to them which will make them timeless I think.


 I was very attracted to Amanda McBain’s Assets and wanted to take a few pieces home with me.  Her upcycled creations were so much fun.  I had made a rush for a chair with this funky orange fabric on it but as I was about to put my hand on it, a sold sign was being stuck to it.  I wasn’t fast enough.


I picked up a few goodies from Jennifer at Soul Sister Designs.  I think she was being a little camera shy.


Amelia was being quite difficult so unfortunately I had to get her outside for a walk.  So, I wasn’t able to take any more pictures and had to almost run through the rest of the show.  I was more than a little sad.  Chris told me to leave her with him but I figure if we don’t take her to things she won’t get any better.  The show was amazing and for the next one there will be no packing up of the kids, haha.

We went down to the river and took some photos before heading to our next stop.


Then headed to Smitten which is owned by Colleen, one of the organizers of Handmade Harvest.  Love the name, love the store.


Such great stuff and check out that clock, I think it would look great in my studio :)  Isn’t mother’s day coming up????


Across the street is the Heritage Café I believe.  Can you imagine getting to work in that store and look out at this beautiful building all day?


 Almonte is such a pretty little town.  I shall share the rest of my day there with you tomorrow.


I am still standing – Things I am grateful for

My apologies for this lengthy and intense post but today I am struggling.  This is something that is very hard for me to write, hell it is hard enough for me to say it, let alone write it.  In print, for all to see and forever look back on.  I am the strong one, the one people can lean on when they need to talk, vent or cry.  That is my thing, forever a part of who I am and part of what drives me.  Lately, not so much.  I feel as though I have come a little undone.

I have gone back and forth about writing about the details of my ordeal that happened a couple months ago, even if just to get it off my chest and hopefully start to lay it to rest.  I just haven’t figured out where and how to begin.  You see, I am not an eloquent writer and have no witty and entertaining way to write about what happened to me, to us.  So, I guess I shall just share it, as I did with my friends.  Break the silence so to speak as today, May 5, is officially I AM STILL STANDING DAY after losing a child or infertility.

Both of my pregnancies resulted in emergency C-sections due to pre-eclampsia.  So, Chris and I took some time to decide to have another, an entire year to be precise.  We both love kids and would likely have had many more if it wasn’t for my darn body and pregnancy issues.  We had pretty much decided we were having another but hadn’t officially pulled the trigger yet (tee, hee).  We were on our way to our annual snowboarding trip to Vermont (for our anniversary) and I received a text from one of my best friends that was a little suspect.  After a little prodding I managed to get it out of her that she was pregnant.  I was SO excited for her!  We had talked about how amazing it would be to be pregnant together.  That was the green light for me.  I knew we were getting pregnant that weekend.  So much so, that I bought an antique letter press #6 while we were there at my favourite antique store.  Chris and I, our three girls plus baby = 6.  It would go in the nursery.  I remember thinking while buying it that maybe we would have a boy and Chris will finally have more testosterone in the house and someone to complain to about how much toilet paper we go through every week, haha.

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I was right.  Fast forward to 8 weeks later, I am crawling around on the floor in horrible pain.  Chris insists we go to the hospital as I am pregnant and he says “you just never know”.  Not wanting to put anyone out or traumatize the sleeping kids, I tried to change his mind.  Didn’t work, thankfully, as I found out later had I stayed at home, I likely would have died.  Can you imagine hearing that come out of a doctor’s mouth?  I found out that night that I potentially had an ectopic pregnancy.  I am not going to bore you with all of the details but doctors and specialists went back and forth all night as to what the next course of action would be while I lay there in disbelief and wanted them to be damn sure that was what was going on before they did anything that might harm the baby.    The morning ended with two doctors, a nurse and Chris running to the OR with me on a bed, writhing in pain watching the lights and ceiling tiles quickly streaming past.  I felt like I was in a movie and it wasn’t really happening to me.  I had a ruptured ectopic pregnancy which resulted in a blood transfusion, my fallopian tube and a bit of my uterus being removed.  Our baby was gone and so were the hopes of another.

I read once while trying to find others that have gone through the same thing as me that “grief has a way of getting all up in your business” especially when you least expect it.  I wish I remembered where I read it so I could give her credit and return to read more of her wise words.  I just remember reading it and thinking how true that was.  At that moment and now.  Just when I thought I was doing fine and making strides with moving past it, today, grief has gotten all up my business.  The loss of what was and could have been.  People keep saying, you have three beautiful healthy girls you should be happy. I agree, I am totally grateful and always will be, but at the same time, I realize what I am missing out on.  What WE are missing out on.  It is tough.  Most days are good and I realize how precious life is and am grateful for the reminder of what is truly important in life.  Today it is tough.  I fear this has opened a part of me that I can’t ever close.  A me that will occasionally burst into tears at seeing a women who is as pregnant as I would be right now, a me that is so emotional and can cry at the drop of a hat, a me that has been a little impatient, when patience has always been one of my qualities I have been most proud of.

The rational side of me knows better.  I just need to get over the trauma of it all.  As I am grateful for my girls, I am also grateful to Chris and my friends for being so supportive even though they might not get what all the fuss is about.  I am also grateful for my art as it truly does help heal.

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Monday Journal – Vintage Mixed Media

The beginnings of my vintage mixed media art journal layout…

I went to the grocery store the other day to find some veg to go with our dinner and was super excited to find local beets for sale.  I grabbed a bag and threw them in my cart.  When I was home and slicing them up (to toss in olive oil and spices then grill in the oven), my hands of course became bright red from the juice.  I immediately thought, hey I could use this as a stain.  So, off I went to pull out my art journal.  Dinner would just have to wait a moment, haha.  I immediately opened it up to the page I was building on and rubbed the beet ends all over which gave it a redish purple stain effect that I quite liked.

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This helped me decide to use red and blue for these pages, I already knew I wanted it to be an ode to vintage.  I then slapped on the paint quite thickly in random spots and then pressed punchinella into it to create texture and pattern.

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I love the pattern it created on my hand.  Nothing like getting messy = happiness.

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I wanted to keep this one fairly simple, all I did after was cover it with vintage images and rub-ons.

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The girl with the umbrella is one of my favourites from the Graphics Fairy and so is the bike.  The cute little chair was a Micheals rub-on.

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I usually outline everything in black but because the background was fairly dark I decided to outline everything in white.  I used a Stabilo coloured marking pencil (they write on anything).  Here is the image once I outlined it.  Not a huge difference, but I like it better.  I am a details person :)

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I added an image of an old clock I pulled from a vintage photography book.

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On the insert I used the punchinella as a stencil.  Then more rub-ons and a title “the Good Stuff” because the old stuff really is the good stuff.

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Birthday Workshop – Community Mixed Media

Last weekend I had the pleasure of teaching at Marie-Pierre’s (MP) 30th birthday party.  She was very involved in the planning of the piece which I LOVED.  That way I knew she was going to get something she liked.  Sometimes it is hard trying to decide on a piece when you don’t know a person very well.  I could tell that her relationships were important to her so I did a community mixed media piece.

Here is everyone jumping right in.

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 I was pretty excited and surprised to find out that half of the guests were guys.  That has never happened.  I am lucky if there is one male and he is usually a brother or a spouse who has been forced into it, haha.  Not with this crowd.  This was a very creative crew who didn’t need to be coerced at all.

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So very focused and precise, awesome!!

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The guest of honour…

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and her piece.

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MP and her sisters.  They were all so sweet and supportive of each other, it was adorable.  (Made me wish I had a sister :)

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Here is Sean (Mr. Ravenswing himself), hard at work, or play I should say.

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He was the first one done.  Here is his gorgeous piece.

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Everyone was so thoughtful in creating their canvases.  Here is another quote on Bruno’s (MP’s spouse) piece.

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The photogenic couple.

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Here is what it looked like on their couch before I took it home for the finishing touches.

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Here is what it looks like now after I outlined everything and tied it all together.

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It is so great because you can see the personalities behind each one.  The bottom is the birthday girl’s and the top is her sister Christine’s crazy haired girl.

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The bottom right corner of this one is Alice in Wonderland themed.  All of the people have roots for feet to represent MP establishing roots as an adult.

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Such a great bunch, they were staying and continuing the party with some drinks, yummy food and karaoke.  So fun!!