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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.

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.

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

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

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

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A well aged first aid kit.

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

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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.

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

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

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

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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.

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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.

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 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.

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

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 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.

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

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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.

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

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

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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?

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 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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Upstairs Antiques, a must stop

Hello all, happy hump day!!!  The sun was shining today, made me want to head to a patio and have a couple drinks.  I remembered I hadn’t shared my little visit to Upstairs Antiques while I was in Vermont.  I make it a point to always stop as there are always some good deals to be had.  It is also two seconds away from my other favourite antique place.

This was a little school desk that greeted us upon our arrival.

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The welcoming flag flying in the wind.  Check out the chair hanging from it.

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I really wanted to take this garden bench home for our front porch so I could load it up with pillows and sit on it in the mornings to have my first cup of coffee (and second, third…).

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Quirky collection of framed photos.

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This to-die for map cabinet is worth going back for I think.  Hopefully it is still there in May and I can convince Chris that we need to take it home.  It looks a little lonely don’t you think?  Needs a good home :)

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I was thinking this cool anchor could be turned into some industrial looking chandelier.  I wish I could weld or something, haha.

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This elegant looking Queen Anne style couch was totally adorable.

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Definitely worth a stop if you are in the area.  A lot of stuff you might not have any idea what it is, but there is always something you have to take home.  I left with an old axe, steel iron and some vintage photos.  I will likely share my goodies once everything is entirely unpacked.

Scrappy Sunday – Donna Downey Class

Happy Easter everyone!!!!  Last weekend I was lucky enough to be able to attend a Donna Downey class at Scrapbook Centrale in Montreal.  I was beyond thrilled.  I love going to Montreal for any reason but to be taking a class from Donna while there was pretty special.  We packed up the family and made a weekend out of it.  We even got to visit my cousin and her family.

We made a gorgeous little mixed media scrapbook album.  Here is the charismatic Donna in action.

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The album was filled with linen, burlap and book pages.  Three of my favourite things.  I brought pictures of our last anniversary snowboarding trip to Stowe, Vermont.  I printed them all in black and white on plain paper so I could wrinkle and distress them.

The framed picture on the cover is of Chris in front of the covered foot bridge in the village.

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The album was filled with Donna’s canvas goodies, some of which are no longer available like the letter titles.

Chris and I strolling around the village trying to take a picture of ourselves.

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The awesome watch piece is a Tim Holtz Pocket Watch.  I loved the feather wings and NEED to get my hands on some more of those.

The picture is of me at the Burton factory being inspired to go snowboarding, haha.

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Before adding all of the goodies we applied gesso to the cardboard pages.  I didn’t apply it evenly because I wanted some of the cardboard to show through which you can see a bit of on this page.  Isn’t that ruffle great under the title?  It is made from cash register tape, that Donna, so creative.

This is a picture of our favourite coffee shop that we head to every morning we are there.

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Donna is all about the masking tape and shipping tags which she calls “brown holes”, haha.  I am not daring enough yet to start using masking tape so when I got home I used washi tape here and there to ground the pictures a bit.

  The pic is of snow falling on the gondola at Stowe Mountain.  It was a beautiful day and trip.

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I never have any problem going to any of the classes by myself as everyone always tends to be pretty friendly.  They usually sit the “singles” at the same table as well so most people are in the same boat as me.  I was seated with a great group of ladies.  Here is one of my table mates Katerine.  She was pretty adorable as this was the first class she had ever taken and it was with Donna Downey, so lucky.  She seemed to enjoy herself and did an amazing job.

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Donna kept everyone laughing and thoroughly entertained.  Here she is helping another person at my table who was also from Ottawa.

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I forgot scissors so my lovely neighbor Nancy loaned me a pair.  Thanks lady!!

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Here are some more Ottawa ladies.  You might recognize the one on the left.  It is Stephanie Pouliot who used to teach at the Scrapbox.

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It was such a pleasure to meet Donna and her husband Bill.  I realized after I left that I hadn’t gotten a picture of him :(  True salt of the earth people.

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If you ever get a chance to take a Donna Downey class I highly recommend it.  You won’t be disappointed.

Hope you are having a great long weekend!  Don’t forget to get some creative time in to nourish your soul!

DIY Easter Eggs – Just in time for Easter

I’m sure everyone is looking forward to the amazingly long weekend ahead (for those that get both Friday and Monday off).  No getting up early or making lunches, woooo!!  These DIY Easter eggs are a great little holiday project to do with your kids or by yourself.  I picked up some foam eggs from the dollar store. All they had were the small ones but I wasn’t fussy.

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I grabbed some tissue paper that I had in my stash and ripped it into smaller pieces…

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I then applied a layer of acrylic medium (you can use Modge Podge or Decoupage, whatever you have) then put the tissue paper over the eggs and another layer of medium over top to seal it in.  I wasn’t super careful applying it or anything as I love all the wrinkles and texture it makes.  This is a bit of a messy job and you can’t over handle them because the tissue will start to stick to your fingers.

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Once they were thoroughly dry, I applied Titan Buff (which is an off white colour) with a bit of water (to make it more translucent) to all of the eggs.  For this guy I had started with an old dress pattern, then the paint, then blue ink and finished it off with a stamp from Tim Holtz’s line Stamper’s Anonymous.  I used this Little Labels set for all the eggs because the print size was appropriate for these little eggs.

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This one already had plenty of colour so I just added a bit of paint and some black text.  Don’t you just love polka dots??

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This one started with the cream swirly paper which was a bit dull so I added some yellow India Ink to it and the pointing finger from Tim’s line.  The circle stamp was from my basket of background stamps so I’m not sure where I got it.

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This one just had plain pink paper so I added a bit more paint to it then the others to tone it down a little and the black text.

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Here they are together in a vase with some raffia.  I will put a couple of these on my Easter dinner table on Sunday to spruce it up a bit.

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An easy and fairly quick (except for the drying time in between stages) project you can get done in time for Easter and they won’t stink up the house if one accidentally rolls under the couch and is forgotten.  Plus, you can keep them for next year!!  I would love to see pics if you try them yourself.

Collage Obsession Challenge – “I Can Fly!”

Since I hadn’t participated in a bit I thought I would head over to the Collage Obsession Challenge and see what it was for the week.  As soon as I saw that it was “I can fly”, it instantly made me think of the commission piece I needed to finish for this wonderful lady who can fly and often does.

Her word of the year is CHANGE.  Just like mine.  When she saw my finished change piece that I made to remind myself throughout the year, she asked if I could make her one as well.  I made the change on her piece much bigger.

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 This will serve as a little reminder for her that she CAN FLY on the days she is just not feeling it along with keeping her on track with the change she is wanting in her life for this year.  A little spiritual kick in the pants.  I think we can all use it sometimes.  The power of positive thinking is an amazing thing.  You can see the little caterpillar under the words, that change into the butterflies above.

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I used Golden Glass Bead Gel mixed with brown paint for this part.  I usually mix it with ink.  I am not sure which I like better.  Either way provides lots of texture but you can’t really see all the beads in this one.  Might just be the dark colour though.

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I can’t believe how quickly it came together.  Was able to finish it while the little muffin was napping, now that is quick.  I think that it helps that the person I was making it for is a pretty amazing and inspiring woman.

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I hope she enjoys it.  Now I just need to get it to the lovely Louise unless I keep it and switch it out for mine, haha.  I like this one much better :).

A Tour of Marie Antoinette & Co.

I was out looking around for a friend’s birthday present the other day and decided to stop into Marie Antoinette & Co. which is in Ottawa (in the Hintonburg area).  I had discovered this store a few months ago and was completely blown away by all the beautiful things.  When I popped in this time, there was even more stuff.  They certainly do not disappoint with all of the amazing eye candy.  I didn’t have my camera so had to use my phone but I knew I just had to take a few photos to share.

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They literally had items from floor to ceiling.  From awesome burlap pillows and clocks everywhere to…

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all different sized and coloured bird cages.  Swoon!!

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All the creamy blues and whites were just to die for.  Those white plates must find themselves into my kitchen cupboards.

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A little corner with red accessories.  Pretty burlap lamp shade with red ribbon.

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They had all kinds of French inspired journals with yummy vintage looking paper inside.  They would be great for wedding guest books or small art journals as well.  SO cool.  I will be back for one of those.

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Check out the ceramic statues, picture frames, candle holders and birds :)

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Look at all the goodies on this table.  Feels like Spring.

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If you are ever looking for inspiration, a gift or something a little special for your home, this is the place.  Every time I go in, things are changed around and there are new lovelies to look at.

Believe Art Journal Page

So, I have discovered that I frequently post my art journal pages on Monday, so it has now been officially changed to Monday Journal, haha.  I knew this week I wanted to do a BELIEVE art journal page.  I started with red lettering and a silver background.  I also added some vintage cigar bands I picked up at an antique store in Vermont, which you can see under all the ink and paint here.

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Once I got that down I was a little stumped.  I was looking for some inspiration so headed to Donna Downey’s site to check out Inspiration Wednesday.  Once I saw the inked circles with drippage I was off.  Thanks Donna!!  I pulled out a circle stencil and first sprayed them with a teal ink.  Once they dried, I put the stencil back on and covered the circles with another swirly stencil which I applied white paint to.

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Since the ink was water soluble I had to be careful and just dab on the paint with my fingers.  In some circles I just rubbed it in so it would reactivate the ink and combine with the white. ( I need to get my video camera set up so I can just do videos and show you exactly what I mean :).

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I wanted to add a little texture with the letters so for the L’s in “WILL” I used a fabric ribbon and for the last S in “PASS” I used a red India Ink.  I then outlined all the letters with my black pen.

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I then outlined all the circles with lots of black India Ink and tilted my book because I wanted lots of drippage.  You can see to the right of this pic the gorgeous vintage sugar package I also discovered in the loot of cigar bands I got.

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I am a pretty positive person but even I need a little reminder at times to “BELIEVE THIS WILL PASS”.