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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.

 

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.

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.

Vintage Inspired Lifestyle Marketplace

Chris and I are on our annual snowboarding trip to Vermont.  I am currently in Stowe as I type this, SO lucky aren’t I?  We are having a great time except we are both a little sick so couldn’t hit the mountain today :(  We are hoping tomorrow will be the day.  Anyway, one of the reasons I love coming is our stop in Burlington on the way to hit the antique stores.  I just had to share this AMAZING place I discovered in Burlington called the Vintage Inspired Lifestyle Marketplace.  It closes at 5 and I was totally trying to rush to get there before it closed.  It was a must see on my list and boy was I not disappointed.

Check out the little nook above the door, I couldn’t wait to go in.

First thing I saw when I walked in were these awesome yard sticks.

Then these paintings which are by a local artist Sienna Fontaine.  I found out she was having a show there that night and they would be open till 9.  We didn’t need to rush after all.  I wish we would have had more time to stay for it.

This place was filled with so many unique things and there was something for everyone.  Here is a part of the vintage clothing section.

A view of the main room as you walk in.

Chris had kind of gotten ahead of me as I was going slow and taking it all in.  It was total sensory overload as I was amazed by all of the cool stuff (We don’t have stores like this in Ottawa, btw).  He came back to get me because there was something I needed to see and man was he right.

I am totally in love with old letterpress wood printing blocks.  I had picked some up in Paris years ago and have never come across them in person again.  I couldn’t believe the stash she had.  I wanted them all!!!  I settled for enough to spell PEABERRY (and a couple more which I will share at a later time).

There were so many pretty little vignettes everywhere, it was hard to know where to look next.

Old globes and maps are things that we share a love of and there were plenty of those to look at.

More eye candy.

I picked up a block and a couple other little goodies to take home.

The owner, Mary (whose focus for the shop is “vintage goods for an inspired lifestyle”) was the sweetest.  We complimented each other on our great taste and became fast friends.  We exchanged e-mails and she agreed to hook me up via mail if I needed anything as I couldn’t possibly have taken everything home that I wanted.  (We wouldn’t have been able to eat for the rest of the weekend, hahaha!)

Although, Chris did tell me about these ceramic dolls that I missed and it sounds like they would have been perfect for little assemblages.  We may have to stop there again on our way home, tee hee.

Weekend Recap

To say my November is busy is a complete understatement.  Teaching, birthdays and craft fairs, I am having a hard time catching my breath but enjoying every minute of it.  This past weekend was a perfect example so I thought I would give a little weekend recap.  Two birthday celebrations and I was in an Art & Craft fair on Sunday.  I have realized that the trick is to be present in the current moment and try not to worry about that never ending to do list (it will always be there :) or what is next on the agenda.

On Saturday I got to spend the afternoon with my girlfriends in the Gatineau Park to celebrate Rachel’s b-day.  We went for a nice hike on the sugar bush trail in Chelsea.

Here we are starting out.

Jen brought her beautiful munchkins.  Made me wish I had of brought my girls.

It was such a gorgeous sunny day.  Here is some bright green moss I found on a tree.  I kind of wanted to take some home to put in my terrarium but wasn’t sure if that was kosher.

I found an old tree leaned on another with a giant knot in it that went through the entire tree.  Super cool.  Would have been nice to take that home too, for my garden, haha.

 We started to get a little cold so figured it was time for some warm drinks.  I was super excited to check out the new coffee shop Biscotti’s but unfortunately they were too busy and there wasn’t enough space for all of us.

So, we went to one of my favourite places, the Chelsea Pub.  They put on a new addition to an old heritage building and did a great job keeping with the esthetic.  Also gives them a lot more space which they greatly needed.

They were all decorated, Christmas is in the air.  Looking forward to decorating our house.

On Sunday, I was in the Sandy Hill’s One & Only Craft Fair (more on that later) and we also celebrated another important birthday, which was our little Ava’s.  Well, she isn’t so little anymore.  She turned 8.  Next thing you know she will be driving off to go hang out with her friends, haha.  Through all of the chaos I wanted to make sure that she got a home baked birthday cake.  It is something I try to do for all of the girls on their birthday.  They at the very least get home baked cupcakes.

I know, pretty sad isn’t it?  It certainly isn’t my best decorating job but Chris thought I was crazy to attempt any of it at all with everything going on.  Here she is while we sing to her.

Finally blowing out the candles as she took her time making her wish.  I wonder what she wished for?????

Well, this post was a little less of my art and more of my soul but one must keep a balance.

Sunday Journal – Circus Theme and Play

So, the other day my lovely friend Angie took me for an early birthday dinner to Play.  What is Play you ask?  It is this amazing wine and tapas restaurant.  The atmosphere is very welcoming and the staff is amazing.  You can find tourists in jeans mingling with women who look like they just stepped off of the pages of Vogue.  I was told to order a bottle of wine, my choice, to celebrate.  Hrm, very difficult in a place like that, where they pretty much have an entire page dedicated to red wine.  Up walks Grayson, their sommelier, to save the day.  He asked me what I liked, I said “definitely red, dry and oaky”.  So, he suggests Petite Petit, which is not on the menu.  The moment I saw the label, I was sold, haha.  It had a circus theme to it.

Thanks to my love of esthetically pleasing things and Grayson’s knowledge, I was not disappointed.  The wine was delicious and inspiring.  I asked to take the bottle home because I really wanted to create something with it.  Luckily they obliged (even put it in a gift bag so I wasn’t walking the streets with an empty bottle of wine looking a bit seedy).  When I got it home I pulled out my art journal and off I went to the open crop night at The Scrapbox.  The creativity just flowed and I did the entire thing in one sitting, with a bit of drying time in between.  To get the red striping effect (just like the big top) I used masking tape and acrylic paint.  I then dripped india ink down the full length of the pages.

I added a flag banner with my trusty Stampin Up! punch.

This is with the back side of the insert.  You can see my lovely elephant and cute pierrot riding atop.

Now, a close-up of the label and inspiration, which I stuck right in there.  Isn’t it adorable???

So satisfying.  I think I might just do a circus theme canvas series, I had so much fun.  Now, I must head to the LCBO and try get my hands on a few bottles of this stuff as it is a vintage so once it’s gone, it’s gone.

Bay of Fundy

I am currently on vacation on the East coast and having a blast.  We spent a bit of time in the picturesque Quebec city on our way through.  I will share photos of that later as there are way too many to sort through on the road.  Then we headed to the Bay of Fundy, home of the highest tides in the world.  The views were breathtaking (more on those later as well).

Of course we are useless without our coffee so we claimed this artisan café in the town of Alma as ours for the time we were there…

There was such character in this place, they had a sign that read “please loiter”.  There were great nooks and crannies to sit and enjoy your goodies and a back deck.

They also had a jamming area set up for local bands.

The owners were glass blowers so they were selling the coolest things.  They reproduced the old glass buoys fishermen used many years ago.

I wanted to pick one up but was hoping to find an authentic one in our travels.   Lucky for me Chris spotted the exterior netting part on a beach we were driving by so stopped to pick it up.  Such a score.  I did end up getting the inner glass ball part at the store.  So, I now have a semi-authentic one which is good enough for me as the original glass balls are almost impossible to find.

On our drives through the country, we found the glass blower’s studio and house.

They even had alpacas and looked like they grew a lot of their ingredients they used for the café.

On our drives we came across a one room school house…

It even had an outhouse towards the back of the lot.

An old community centre…

This adorable old house…

The lighthouses were pretty cool…

There were so many cute little studios tucked into country roads all over the place.  One of which was this Studio on the Marsh.  I was pretty jealous of most of the artists having studios in such a beautiful area of the country and so close to the ocean.

I was especially so for this space as the view behind was amazing.  Maybe one day.

Well, just wanted to share a little of our amazing week.  I am feeling so refreshed and inspired that I wish I had brought a little art kit with me so I could create on the road.  Although I am enjoying taking all of these pictures, which is also a creative outlet.  I think it is important to do something creative every day.  It nourishes the soul.  The rest of this week has been spent with family and showing the kids some of my favourite places growing up.  Unfortunately, it is all over tomorrow.  Hope you are all having a great week!!

Burlap Coffee Bean Bags

I made an awesome discovery the other day.  Chris was heading to Princess Auto and I of course wanted to go along.  Why? you ask.  I know I am generalizing here but I am sure most women enjoy a trip to Princess Auto about as much as our men love shoe shopping.  I use to think that way, but no longer.  I am a huge snooper and discovered this strange corner of the store that has a few aisles of all kinds of different odds and ends.  Which have nothing to do with autos, or princesses for that matter.  Every time I snoop through that area I always come home with some kind of treasure.  This last time was the ultimate score as I found Guatemalan burlap coffee bean bags.  How random hey?  There were only 4 on the shelf which I snatched up immediately and proceeded to scour the store looking for an employee to find me more.  No such luck, that is all they had.  She even said I was lucky to get 4 as there were only 2 listed in the computer.

I love the earthy look of burlap and couldn’t wait to get some projects started with it.  The first thing I did was to recover this chair…

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I also made some burlap canvases, which I used to make this small flowery mixed media piece.

I am also experimenting with making flowers out of it, which are turning out pretty cool.  I am sure those will be turning up very soon.  So what is the lesson of the day?  Don’t pass up the opportunity to explore a new store, you just never know what you will find.