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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A New Little Painting

As promised, a new little painting. This is one is dedicated to all my favourite tea/coffee date people...Maria, Jon, Judit, Mom, Becca, Lisa...there are many.
This painting is a mixed media on canvas and there will be a print of it in the shop shortly. I also wanted to share this cute photo Jonathan took of Hazel the other day...this girlie sure does love her parsley...
Tis' all for today. I will not be posting tomorrow but join me Friday for an update on my brother's latest and greatest tattoos. Be Well and Happy Creating.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Christmas Image & A Day With My Dad

Good Tuesday Everyone. I am having a 'weird' and somewhat slow week this week which I won't get into at the moment, as I do still intend to keep this blog primarily focused on my art, my artistic journey and my creative inspirations. So I'll just say I am feeling 'off' and I'll keep plugging away.
There will definitely be a new little painting tomorrow but for today, because it's been feeling abit 'xmasy', let me show you one of my favourite illustrations. I did this xmas image a couple years ago and made it into a greeting card, it's one of my most popular ones but only people who have bought the cards or seen me at craft/art sales have seen this image as I never did get around to posting it on my website and only now just on this blog. So enjoy it as much as I enjoyed making it.

A print of this image will be available over at the shop very soon.

We had a very quiet but good weekend. Saturday we did not step foot out of the house which was nice for a change because it seems like the last couple of weeks one of us has had to go out on some errand every single day. My battle with sinus congestion and daily headaches throughout the whole weekend unfortunately. On Sunday I ended up spending some time over at my parents in the wood shop with my dad. My dad was helping me cut some wood and gave me a lesson on the scroll saw where I successfully cut out my little intricate bird pattern, so I was really happy about that. I have ideals for a whole new series, very unlike anything I've done before involving wood and knowing that I'd be comfortable enough to cut my own pieces makes the whole ideal seem that much more do-able and approachable. I can't remember the last time I spent some time in the shop with my dad like that so it was really nice, nostalgic and cozy for me. As a kid I always hung out in my dad's shop, it's a very comfortable place for me. I remember him giving me lessons on the band saw or drill press, I'd throw wood in the stove to keep the shop warm, I'd help him with simple things. Even when I got older, I always would pop in to see what he was working on. I guess that's why I am just as comfortable hanging out and shopping in a home depot as I am in a Pier One Imports, ha ha...Thanks for your help dad.

So until tomorrow....Be Well Everyone...and yes indeed...Happy Creating! XXOO Mandy.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Just Popping In

I am just popping in on this cozy Friday to say that I won't be posting a new illustration today. The headache & sinus congestion has continued since I last wrote, it's been present and annoying all week long and well today I just don't think I can force myself to get the picture done in time for today's post.
So here is a photo I took recently which I love...just a snippet of our living room and a little ceramic butterfly I painted up this past summer...and yep, that's one of my teeny weeny lino cut prints as well.

Also today, I just wanted to quickly thank the people who have written me to tell me that my recent post on buying cruelty-free products has inspired them to follow suit and change their habits and think about the animals more. That means so much...even just to have one person think about it makes me feel so good, so thank you for your thank yous, ha ha. I was also so happy to receive a nice little email from someone over at Peta Prime, thanking me for putting them on my blog list...well Peta Prime, it's my pleasure and your very welcome, thanks for writing me. It's exciting to me to think that someone over at Peta is visiting the blog.

So I am off to attend to my poor throbbing head then later this afternoon I must drive out to South River to gladly pick up "At First Light" which didn't sell unfortunately, that's okay, I wasn't expecting it to at that venue...but I am more than happy to have it framed up so beautifully and back home for awhile again. I just wanted to send a quick Thank You out to my friend Julie, who was willing to drive all the way out there just to see my piece in the show, that was really sweet Jules. And of course to my talented Jonathan who made me the lovely frame.

I have some friends travelling to exciting places this weekend...Costa Rica, Isreal, Italy, etc...I'll just be here, home with the bunnies and my honey but I wish you all Safe journeys and much inspiration.

Until next week, thanks for popping in and Happy Creating, Happy Relaxing, and well see you all next week. Mandy XXOO.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A Change of Plans & A Mushroom

Well I popped out of my rabbit hole long enough to spend close to 10 hours on Tuesday and Wednesday painting the horse. In doing so I realized how inspired I was in being around the other carousel painters, it's such an inspiring, upbeat and supportive group and I walked away both days just feeling a part of something great and lovely. This week the people I was surrounded by gave me the energy, willingness and the wanting to dive into my work and to spend some time clarifying my dreams and future with 'lists' and 'plans' to ensure things happen, even though they may be long in coming or fruition. I am going to hang on tightly to these positive feelings.
First order of things, a change of plans, instead of sequestering myself off in my own little world for awhile till I 'feel like I am back on-track' (whatever that means), I am going to do the opposite of what I would normally do and I am going to continue to open myself up. I am going to try inviting people and friends in to witness and share in my topsy turvy little creative world instead of trying to hide it from everyone. Hopefully I'll be brave enough to do so tommorow and the day after and so on...we'll see!
So bring on the week day studio breaks, lunch dates, coffee breaks at the cafe, the creative breaks to just chat and 'be', etc...because they will inspire and only make me rush back to my easel & drawing table with even more gusto and charge.
Thank Yous are in order...yous may not realize it but your being so loving, and warm, your openess and honest insights and life experiences shared are beautiful to me...and for all of the unexpected, appreciated and uplifting hugs and willing ears....thank you, thank you, thank you.
So yes, I still plan to simplify...to just work work work, yogify, run, cook, be with Jon and the furry babes, have more tea dates with my mom, and work some more...but now I am adding in abit of socializing too. Trust me, usually when things aren't going my way, when I am unsure of myself etc, I close off from people...it's time to try the opposite and instead open up to people even more.

(this mushroom is growing on the fence post out at the Callander Gallery, I enjoy it every time I pass by and it just says to me loud and clear "Look at me, I shouldn't perhaps be here, but I am because I am different and therefore I am suppose to be here. And the mushroom also visually says to me 'Stick- in- there' . Ha ha, see even mushrooms can be inspirational)

I apologize for missing my post yesterday when I said I'd be there, but this has been a bad week for insomnia and headaches and after painting the horse in an awkward position and being near the turp fumes for so many hours I came home with a screaming head and could do nothing but lay down on the couch cuddled in blankets with the sun embracing me deliciously and hot water bottles surrounding my whole head, I dozed off in a matter of minutes. And I am not a gal who sleeps easily so that told me that I needed a midday nap. I awoke to my sweetheart, putting a glass of ginger ale on the table near me because he knew I'd be nausea, then I fell asleep again and next time I awoke about an hour later, I felt so much better and rested and my sweetheart was putting a plate of delicious food in front of me...homemade spaghetti sauce & perfectly cooked pasta, yum yum and breaded and lightly fried zucchini slices drizzled with mozzarella...mmmmm mmm m.

The past couple weeks have just been such a reminder that though there are constant stresses and worries and though things may not be going exactly as you'd hope or planned, there's always still so much to celebrate. For me, it's just our simple and cozy life, I've just loved meeting up with Jon after work and doing our own cozy little evening routine, cooking together, watching tv in bed, playing some games, it's been so delicious and relaxing and well just what I had expected and hoped the fall had in store for us.

Today is just a fairly quick update and hello because though I do have another headache and my sinuses are making my head feel twice as large! I am anxious to get onto the treadmill and then dive into the studio. Be well and until tomorrow, when I'll have a new little painting to show you I hope!....Happy Creating.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Popping Down Into My Rabbit Hole

Today I just wanted to share one of my favorite photos I took this summer whiles visiting another artist's studio. I am constantly inspired by other artists, but it's not so much in their artwork that I find inspiration but in their daily practices, tenacity and creative strength to move forward. Some of us are luckier than others but in the end that doesn't matter, if your a true artist your going to create despite the paycheck or outcome at the end. Why? because we creatives have too, it's as simple as that, to make things is just as much a part of us as anything else. Breathing is a natural function for our bodies, and creating is a natural function for our souls. As one season closes and opens up to another I am feeling reflective over the past summer and I can indeed say it's been a wonderful if but a slightly quiet one. And I must admit that I am not 100% happy with the amount of work I got done. I've been too idle and well I am happy winter is on it's way because it's in winter that I usually buckle down and get things moving.
As I traverse many of my favorite blogs and websites, I am struck again and again by how many artists are still feeling un-centered and 'lost' or just in need of a creative break. I myself am feeling quite the opposite these days...I am feeling un-centered in sorts but I know my way back is through diving into my work, I haven't been doing that enough lately...I've been allowing the headaches and migraines and the computer and marketing etc to suck up all my time and well that eats into my creative juices...so I am now admitting that I am retreating into my beloved 'rabbit hole' (as my closest friends like to describe it). If I feel lonely, I work on a painting because that painting gives me great company. If I feel tired, than I paint some more because eventually that painting will give me energy. If I have a bad headache then okay I go between painting because it can momentarily take me away from the pain and I visit my heat pack often! Right now, my answer is to just keep things simple; yogify, blog, be cozy at home, cook, clean, take care of my honey and our bunnies and just paint without worrying about each pieces future...to do so is a constant struggle for me but I am determined to get better at it. So yes dear friends, I'am retreating into my beloved little 'rabbit hole' but don't worry, I'll poke my head out again soon...I have a certain number of pieces in mind that I want to accomplish and finish before I re-enter the 'normal' world so visit me here on my beloved blog as I plan to keep posting as usual...yes there is a computer just for blogging down in my rabbit hole, ha ha. Until tomorrow, Be Well and Happy Creating!

Monday, October 20, 2008

A New Illustration, Another Sunset and A Great Card

Good Monday everyone. I want to make this post a quick one as I am anxious to begin a productive and busy week in the Bijou's Whimsy Studio and also out at the Callander Gallery hopefully finishing up the carousel horse. Here is a new illustration I just finished up. It is coloured pencil on waterford-saunders which I am just realizing isn't perhaps my favourite paper for coloured pencil...not since discovering stonehenge recently that is.
A print will be available through the shop in a few days...once I get caught up on some scanning. I also just wanted to share with you all, another of our beautiful and breathtaking sunsets this past week.
And I can't help but show you the great Halloween card that my mom sent us this week. The Wizard of Oz is one of my favourite all time movies, I grew up with it and I still love it just as much so I thought it was great when my mom picked out this hilarious card for me...
When you open it up it plays the winged monkey song from the movie, it's too funny and cool... Thanks mom:D Well, that's about all for today. Until tomorrow, be well and Happy Creating.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Where I am Today & This Weekend

So for all of today and this coming weekend I plan to spend my days and evenings here.... (aside for some hours put into yard clean up and perhaps a movie here and there!)....
...in my cozy little upstairs studio which I share with Hazel and Jinny and which I just rearranged and cleaned. I just really want to dive into some new pieces, some smaller and a couple bigger ones, I've been itching to get to them for awhile now. I am sure to be surrounded by; my honey cooking in the kitchen; The jazz & Sky fm stations playing; the bunnies napping; the sunshine shining; my beloved paints and brushes...I will be cozy, I will be creating and I will be happily being...may you be having a wonderful weekend also...Happy Being and until next week. XXOO Mandy.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

A New & Quick Watercolour, Bored Bunnies and A Beautiful Sky

So the past 4 or 5 days have been such a blur of activity and stress that I didn't have time to get into anything serious in the studio, but I did manage to do this quick little watercolour. I didn't realize till this morning when I went to take a photo of it that I had also recently done a very similar drawing as an acrylic on wood!
So with the seasons changing, our hands are somewhat full with the bunnies...they are depressed and bored because the doors are not open quite as much now so this is a common but cozy and heart-lifting sight these days...
Our beautiful Roo and Ella-Luna...snuggled up keeping one another warm and happy. Ahhhh a sight for sore eyes:D ha ha.
Hazel and Jinny aren't too happy with me this week since they have decided to start a burrow under the lovely boardwalk that Jonathan just finished! I agree with them, it is the perfect spot, they are very intelligent to have picked this spot, however...they are next to impossible to get out when they do decide to go in and dig and well if we don't stop them they will cave in the supports that Jonathan painstakingly laid so they are not allowed outside until we get a chance to block it off from their busy little digging loving paws! Here is Hazel sneaking under...
The sunset the other night had me thrilled, it was so beautiful. I didn't realize until this morning when I was downloading some photos off my camera that Jonathan had indeed snuck outside to snap some shots...thanks babe...
I love the sky from our house, I think it's because we are so close to the lake maybe that we get these fabulous views...this shot is from our front yard. Ahhh...another site for sore eyes. Until tomorrow, Be well, Happy Creating and may you take the time to enjoy any beautiful sunsets being had your way. XXOO Mandy.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Carousel Horse Update

I thought that for today's post I'd show you all how the carousel horse is going...here are some of the latest shots...
Arlie's dappled skin is looking great so far and my saddle designs are harvesting alot of nice compliments. This past week I came up with the last two designs...one to go onto the red part of the saddle and the last is a king's crest design which will be made to look thread on the blue blanket. We are anxious to get it done in time for the end of the carousel exhibition, as neither of us really want to drag the horse to our studios and are ready to get onto new projects. Until tommorow, be well and Happy Creating.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A Wonderful Weekend & Much to Celebrate

The past 4 days have been a crazy blur of activity for Jonathan and I. Friday included a mad dash to clean the house for any impending company. An interview which required some studying and caused some stress but went really well. A wedding rehearsal since my honey Jonathan was the Best Man. And the day also included a late rehearsal dinner and party at the wife and husband to be's house. Saturday was started very early with Jonathan doing last minute Best Man chores, including the frenzied decorating of the wedding party vehicles in our driveway and the groom chilling out and relaxing at our house for abit before Jonathan and he began to get ready. Of course they forgot the flowers! so I had to make a mad dash back to the house with just enough time to spare before the ceremony started. The wedding was lovely and as the back up photographer, I was busy as a bee running around taking photos...and photos I did take...almost 1000 of them and I am so so happy with them, I think I got many beautiful and candid shots. So I'll be spending some time this week getting those ready to transfer to discs etc for the bride and groom and immediate family members. So anyhow because of all the best man duties to wrap up, the wedding party ended around 1am but we didn't get back home till 4am and after cleaning up the bunnies not into bed till 5am. But it was an excellent night and lovely wedding and my honey did a fantastic job as best man. I was so touched that regardless of all of the stress, busy-ness and tasks that Jonathan had to worry about over the past couple of days he was such a complete gentleman and took such good care of me, always making sure I was okay and comfortable (which meant extra much since I had a massive migraine all day and all night over the Saturday and Sunday!). Jonathan, you never fail to amaze me. Sunday was the bride and grooms gift opening which was nice because the weather was beautiful and we were all able to sit outside and have our lunch and open the presents out there. Sunday evening included a really nice dinner at my parents with my brother and his family. My mom made us the lovliest and yummiest Thanksgiving dinner vegetarian style, that we've had yet. So as you can see we've been busy so when Monday rolled around we were happy just to stay home, eat, nap and watch a couple movies. Oh did I forget to mention that Saturday was also Jonathan and I's 16th anniversary of being together. People always say 'ohhh that's a long time' but really to me when I think of it, it doesn't seem long at all. So in celebration of our anniversary I thought I'd share these photos...
A beautiful little collection of the teeny weeny tomatoes Jonathan and I grew together....they may be small but they are delicious and there would have been more but every time I went outside with the bunnies I would snack on a handful! Also last week, Jonathan and I spent some time one evening doing some canning together which I just loved, we had fun and were all excited because we've never canned anything before. We just tried small batches for now, if these turn out we'll do bigger batches of more things. Here is our pickled green beans and fresh pured tomatoes....
Today is so beautiful, the wind is strong and full of warmth and energy...to celebrate a lovely day where one season is most obviously changing into a new one...to celebrate a day where I plan to open all the doors and windows wide open and let that wind caress the house one last time until next season....Cheers, It was a great summer.
I am taking today off but will indeed be here tomorrow with a new post. Don't forget to vote!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

A New Shop Print, Rabbit Treats and a Song

Hi everyone, this new print will be added into The Shop today.
It is an old coloured pencil of mine called "Joyful Bird on Birdhouse" and I think the print of this image looks really sharp in square frames such as the one shown above. I hope you enjoy!
Before I get to work for the day let me show you one of our simple pleasures. We enjoy making the bunnies their favorite snacks and treats, which consists of fruits and vegetables we dry in our own dehydrator (we avoid the dried fruits in the stores because most of them have sulfur dioxide in them)...
...This month's batch included apples, oranges and mangoes. I have taken to carrying a little container in my purse full of the same treats, so when we go to the pet store, the store bunny Jax can have some too. He's starting to recognize my bag for as soon as I put it down so I can kneel down to pet him or pick him up, he zooms over and sticks his adorable little head in my bag to look for his treat containers...I just love that. Today I also have to share with you one of my favorite new songs by Emmy Rossum called "Slow Me Down"...Click Here to listen and watch the video on YouTube. It just gives me chills and thrills and is so so beautiful. Actually the whole album is fantastic...very much like Imogen Heap which is another group I just adore. This week my studio has been smelling sooooo good...it's a mixture of the fresh bowl of apples I have sitting out, the cinnamon sticks I just got and scattered throughout the room, the incense sticks that I have grouped together in a jar on my drawing desk and bundles of fresh lavender I just cut from the garden which are hanging all over the room....wonderful...remember it's the little things....with that in mind, go forth and have a full and fantastic day. Love M. XXOO.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

A New Illustration Made on a Wonderful Day

So whiles I am in the process of working slowly and finding my footing whiles on a new path, the day called for nothing serious and just a simple and colourful image. I was thinking of my brother after I finished up this one because I think it would make an excellent tattoo.
This illustration is called "Joyful Fish" and is only 6" x 6", done with collage, watercolour pencil and ink. A Print will be available in my Etsy Shop over the next few days. I am excited about a new product I'll be introducing to the shop soon...custom orders will be available for any print of your choosing, and the prints will be mounted on birch...they are looking great and I can't wait to show you all the first batch. This Joyful fish image will be in the first group I introduce into the shop.
So I took a few shots from my day and it was a beautiful day. One where I had one of my favourite sky.fm stations on...it wasn't too cold or too hot so all the doors in the house were open and the rabbits spent the whole entire day outside. Jinny has discovered a favourite new game which is 'Let's see who's faster' and the winner gets to hide and dig under the boardwalk for hours on end!!! So whiles I waited for the little bugger to come out...is when I got "Joyful Fish" done.
Here is Hazel just about to join her sister under the boardwalk! Hazel seems most comfortable outside when she knows I am close by, so having me sitting there close working away suited her just fine.
Here's my favourite shot of the day...Jinny sitting by the tree and ferns, in the sun...she looks so peaceful and therefore so was I. It was a good day. And to top it all off, we got the most beautiful pumpkin for carving and soup at the grocery store later in the same day and a full tank of gas for free:D Happy day. Be Well All and Happy Creating. XXOO Mandy.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

My "Roaming Rabbits" Treasury

I have finally been able to create my own Treasury on Etsy. The Treasury system seems to be a very popular feature so I am happy today that I was finally able to create my own list and show some of my current favorites.
Click here to visit the page, and leave a comment if you do indeed pop by...the Treasury should be listed until this Friday. It's a lovely fall day here at the Studio of Bijou's Whimsy and I am just popping in to say a quick hello and I am now popping back outside again...all the rabbits are outside, so that is where I too must be (yes, I am channeling Yoda alittle bit here, ha ha). Be Well.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Sticking to My Moral Compass With a Long But Very Important Blog Post

I begin this new post and this new week with invigorated strength and hope as I set forth on a new and somewhat blurry path. I am allowing myself to slow down and I am trying to listen to my inner voice more. The one thing that keeps coming back to me is something my friend Brian said to me a few days ago, which was "Although we are short on time, there really are no deadlines..." and he's right...so if things fall into place much better for me when I work slowly and I allow myself to enjoy all other aspects of my life, not just those of being an artist, than I am for the time being going to let myself move forward slowly. I think this is smart for anyone who still needs to move forward but is not 100% sure of where they are going. I refuse to work quickly and in bulk just to have new work to show people. I need to make quality images, and yes sometimes a quick little fun image is exactly what the day calls for, but I realized recently that I can't be a slave to this blog or the whole daily painting style, it just isn't me and trying to do so just hasn't been working 100% in all honesty, which is why you've been seeing more prints in the updates as opposed to brand new imagery, sorry! On a more important matter however today, I've recently had reason to remember and re-adjust to my moral compass. I had the opportunity to remind myself of one of my biggest ethical beliefs...which is to buy cruelty-free products & leave as little a footprint on this earth as possible. We continue to grow and learn better ways to do these things all the time, and that's the beauty in it...that there's always ways to improve. As a woman obsessed, in love with and connected with rabbits...and rabbits being the #1 test animal in cosmetic labs etc, how can I not try to live a 'cruelty-free' life...especially when I have supreme and cute little beings like this surrounding me constantly...
You see, on Thursday night I had a panic, which reminded me of my ethical and moral compass. On Thursday night, I went to get my hair cut. I hadn't had my hair cut in ages, I was just excited to be out finally doing so, I was enjoying my chat with the girls, etc and well it wasn't until the end of my appointment when I realized, I had forgotten to check if they used Cruelty-free products. When I asked I got this reply "Oh well now, I don't know...we've never been asked, but ya know I don't think they are". Okay so panic and guilt set in...it was my fault that I forget to ask prior to the usage. I soon after quickly canceled my appointment to get highlights the following week because I wasn't sure if the hair dyes they'd be using on me would be cruelty-free or not... I wouldn't be able to rest my head against our bunnies, or even look them in the eye knowing that I took that chance....sure millions of other woman colour and style themselves everyday without giving it a second thought...but for me, it's wrong not to care and not to think about it. It's wrong to not think about the beautiful and precious rabbits and animals stuck in labs and tortured, blinded, killed and worse, in various ways, just so I can be prettier or have fancier hair. Happily however, later today, as I was rewriting sections of this post my friend Julie, a former PETA activist and fellow rabbit lover, sent me a link about how good Redken is and how not a single product of their including their hair dyes has ever been tested on animals...and this is what they used on me at the salon...yeah:D Here is the link Julie sent me on www.animalfair.com. Jules thanks, your right I was feeling really worked up about it and was being hard on myself...your info really made my day and eased my guilt and now I don't have to boycott the salon and can rebook my appointment:D Yeppee! Jonathan and I are living as clean a life as we can, we are far from perfect and there's always more we can do but we constantly try and that's what's important. We reuse and recycle everything that we can...we compost like crazy(currently with 3 big composters and plans for more...we buy organic when we can, we conserve, we've never used pesticides, we've replaced our plastic shopping bags with recycled and reusable cloth bags; we have containers under the kitchen sink for light bulbs, batteries and old medicines, so we can dispose of them properly; we are vegetarians...we hang our laundry to dry in the summers, we don't have an air conditioner, etc...we have lessened our garbage input, where as 2 years ago we'd have 3 big containers at the road each collection day, now we only have 2 small and often just one can. We have completely given up bottled water and are not buying any juices etc that are in plastic, our rabbit litter is recycled and biodegradable and everything from our dish soap, laundry soap, cleaners of all kinds, make up, shampoos, toothpaste, underarms etc are all cruelty-free. It's so easy to do, one just has to look abit harder and sometimes that makes it more fun. And if your unsure as to which companies do or do not test on animals....go to any of these websites for an extensive list, it'll help your maneuver around all the evil crap out there; Veg Family; Caring Consumer; Choose Cruelty Free; Uncaged; Global Action Network; Peta 2.com; Cruelty Free Companies. It's always good to check a couple of the lists...companies and brands that I have 'heard' and trusted before that didn't test, do indeed test so I just make a vow to myself to never buy that thing again. Writing letters to the companies telling them why you won't buy their products is paramount...it just takes a few minutes to send off an email. If you simple switch products the companies won't know why and it's important to voice the reason for your change. Mentioning this to you all, reminds me that I have a pile of such letters to write this month! I also suggest that people join advocacy groups such as PETA (you can find all 3 PETA websites on the right hand side bar). Jonathan and I are supporters and members of PETA. They are the people who are strong enough and brave enough to fight the fights where the rest of us are too weak hearted. There is always going to be difficult situations to decide upon. For one, I used to buy from the Body Shop once in awhile. Now however, L'Oreal owns The Body Shop and L'Oreal is on the 'naughty' list...so do I continue to shop at The Body Shop, does my continued patronage show them that I support the cruelty free side and which will hopefully force the whole company to follow suit! or do I boycott all of L'Oreal's subsidiaries....I am at this point leaning towards the latter. Though there are many animal lovers out there who won't know that The Body Shop is now under L'Oreal'....so it's always a tricky thing to navigate. Another example is The Healing Garden products, I've loved their stuff and their major draw is cruelty-free, naturally derived, paraben free products however their parent company is Coty, another big player on the naughty list. Or Aveeno products, well they just look natural and kind don't they? but infact the Aveeno products are a double hit because Aveeno is on the naughty list and the parent company is Johnson and Johnson which is another horrible company....so this last example just shows that we shouldn't assume or get suckered in by packaging! Jonathan and I love brands like Jasons Naturals, Avalon, Got2beme, Giovanni, The Method...there are so many. We have a list on Jonathan's blackberry so if we are unsure we take a minute out, scroll through the list and see who's naughty and who's nice if we're unsure. If you don't have a blackberry, create a list for yourself that you can keep in your bag. Or, just don't get that desired product in til you can research the company or check one of the lists, chances are you'll be back at that store before you know it and then your making a conscience and informed purchase. Don't panic, if you learn that one of your beloved products is bad, you don't have to just throw it away...use it up if you really want to and then just never buy it again...plain and simple, again making a conscientious and ethical choice for your future. This past Saturday was 'Worlds' Pet Day'...extend the sentiments of that day....picture your beloved pets in a testing lab...think about switching your lifestyle over to a cruelty-free one. You can do so slowly, you can do so all at once, it's up to you but what matters is that we stop just sitting back and letting things be as they are...things are changing...but we need to keep pushing and voicing whats important to us...which is what I am doing here today and which I plan to do more often, through my life & choices, through my blog, and through my art. That's all for today....I really wanted to bring this all up since it is vitally important to me. Think on it if you don't already and next time your out shopping instead of buying your tried and true brand please look for a cruelty-free alternative if yours already isn't'. I am so so very sure that your conscience will feel better. I wish I had the nerve to post abunch of pictures hat I know would instantly make people switch to Cruelty-Free but my methods are gentler and though shock and awe is sometime the only way to get someone attention and ignite change, I don't want to do that to my readers since some imagery can indeed haunt you! Thanks for reading...this week I might be taking abit of a blogging break, we'll see...I am trying to spend abit more time away from my computer...until next time be well. Love Mandy XXOO

Friday, October 3, 2008

Just Popping In, Some Bunnies & A Print

Hi everyone, I wasn't sure if I'd have time to post today but I thought I'd pop in quickly to say hello... and to offer some cute rabbits faces which will brighten any day....
(photograph starring Jinny & Hazel)
also I stopped in to offer this new print at The Shop.... "Apples & Oranges" is a print from one of my original watercolours. This image is also one of the images in my greeting card line, Enjoy! Happy Happy Happy Being...and Hug a Bunny if you can...

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The PieBird, The Megan Jerome Trio and a New Print

So I start this long post with a new print being offered over at the Etsy Shop.
"Night Time Bird On Fence" is a old coloured pencil of mine and though it's not one of my favorites, some people seem to enjoy it so I thought I'd put it in the shop just in case anyone wants it as a titled and signed archival print.
So I can't go any further this week without mentioning our excellent night last Saturday. We went to "The Piebird Bed & Breakfast" for dinner and a house concert and it was such a superb night. We were not sure what to expect, because though we've been to over 30 B&B's in our travels so far, we've never been to one for dinner, a concert and not to sleep! I feel so enthused and happy about discovering this place and we are quite sure it will be a place we frequent.
(thanks for taking this photo Jonathan)
Yan and Sherry, the hosts were/are wonderful...Sherry met us out on the front porch and warmly invited us to head over to the pasture and garden to meet the rest of the group , Yan and the goats. I must add here that I LOVE goats...for some reason I've always wanted to have one as a pet, so I loved meeting the Piebird goats, watching them happily munch on some freshly cut tree branches and seeing the large roaming space they had. Near the goats pasture is where we first met Yan, and I must say, this lovely man had such a warm and happy smile that reached his eyes and his hand shake was equally as warm and inviting...you could feel his good energies and I just instantly knew we had found a special place. We all proceeded into the beautiful 1900's house and gathered around a fire (which Jonathan expertly stoked) whiles Sherry finished off dinner preparations. As we all happily waited, we were served tea and coffee and fresh organic carrots with a sunflower seed pate. At first I was honestly uncomfortable, just slightly though I might add, there was just Jonathan and I mixed in with a group of 6 woman on their 'girl's night out' but they all seemed very lovely and included us into the conversation easily. This whole evening was a good reminder of how I do love to meet new people. We were content also however when Sherry and Yan told us that Jonathan and I would be eating in the kitchen with them and the musicians of the evening, Megan and Mike. Firstly the meal was great, Sherry and Yan being vegetarians, offer an all vegetarian experience, with organic ingredients mostly grown right there on site in their garden. The meal was a delight and the company couldn't have been better. Jonathan and I were both so very happy to meet Mike and Megan, warm and talented and funny and excellent people and musicians from Ottawa. Another nice surprise was when we were having our dessert, coffee and tea and a knock at the door introduced a couple from Italy, just 2 weeks new to Canada and also looking for a warm place to rest with a vegetarian meal. So they joined us in the kitchen (I admittedly forget their names!) and well I just loved the atmosphere of the whole place and evening, it was just very open and calm, friendly, and relaxed. After dinner we all cozily squeezed into two rooms to listen to The Megan Jerome Trio...consisting of Megan and Mike (the 3rd of the trio lives in New York) but these two weren't missing anything at all..the concert they gave us was wonderful and so fun and excellent and what I think I would desribe as a folky jazz mix. When I had seen the advertisement for the event in the local paper, the vegetarian meal part is what caught my attention first but then I looked up the band and I listened to just half a song before I was calling and booking our spot for the evening. Click here to listen or here on the cbc3 for more of their music. Jonathan couldn't help but snap a couple shots of Megan and Mike..... I love the 1st one because they are blurred, we just couldn't get a clear shot because whiles they were playing they were swaying and moving to the music as the rest of us were and as one couldn't help doing. I love the 2nd photo because it shows their lovely and friendly natures so well I think. The music was quirky and unique, fun and clear, with sweet lyrics that Meagan writes herself and which are so endearing and funny and neat to listen to because they more often than not hit home with the listener. I should stop here, ha ha...I am by far not explaining their music quite right I am sure...so let me just say they were wonderful and we are hoping they come to play in town again soon. In the meantime we plan to buy their two cd's offered here at CD Baby or here on Chapters. (Megan and Mike, it was wonderful and lovely to meet you...we'll defiantly call when we're in Ottawa and we've brainstormed about more venues..Jonathan will email the list soon I am sure.) Yan and Sherry at the Perfect "Piebird" thanks for a great evening and welcoming us in and feeding us a beautiful meal. Everyone check out their very nice site here...just browse around, I am sure you'll be wanting to book your stay soon. Also, Sherry is a nutritional counselor with another business/website called Heal Thy Self, where she offers nutrition counseling but also courses on making the transition to vegetarianism easier, it's a nice site, check that out too. Also today I wanted to mention my friend Liz Lott...she just sent word and is very excited about having her photography used on the front and back covers, as well as several image on the inside of this book. Liz also has a local boutique with some pretty cool stuff and where I am hoping to bring some 'earth-friendly cards in soon. Congrats Liz, you deserve it, your photography is beautiful. That's all for today everyone...Arlie and I will be busy painting the horse tommorow so I am not sure if I'll have time to post or not. If not, then I'll see you all on Monday. Be Well and Happy Creating. XXOO Mandy.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A New Print and Remembering That Strength Surrounds Us

This is a new print which will be put into The Shop today. The print is from a coloured pencil which I did last year specifically for my greeting card line.
This print is called "The Harvest You Reap", head over to view it in the shop for details. It seems funny to write this post now feeling so much better, positive and more focused, after the other day's post which was on the more negative side. I think Monday's post was an accumulation of what I've been feeling these past few weeks with things just building and building to a crescendo...which was when I let it out and wrote about it...which in turn helped me get back on track and to my more positive and usual sense of self.
Being around my adopted grandpa and beloved fellow artist Arlie Hoffman, has been very therapeutic and soothing to me. I love our conversation as we work on the horse together, some sessions we just touch on everyday and simple things. Other days, and more often than not now it seems we have good chats about all kinds of stuff and well they are just conservations that I never got to have with my real grandparents and I just feel like I am soaking up and basking in this lovely relationship. Also I have to thank my Jonathan...my forever supportive and unflinching Jonathan. How lucky I am to have this remarkable guy as my partner...well 'wow' is all I can say because any other words I write will just seem inadequate. Jonathan has been saying "Do what feels right to you...go for what you want..." but he always finishes off his pep talk with 'no it's not time to quit, it will never be time to quit..." or last night when I was complaining of one thing after the other falling through, he simply said '...then your going to just have to try a hundred more times than aren't you...". I need these quick little reminders and he always offers them with such simplicity and belief that I can't help but feel better and that's exactly his plan...to pass along his concrete belief in me, back to me. Also I can't forget Maria. My lovely and beautiful and special forever friend Maria. All artists, whether they admit it or not, need a strong support system...well everyone, not just artists need that of course. Over the last year my support circle has increased with some amazing people and Maria is one of them. We met through an unhappy circumstance, but the old adage 'every cloud has a silver lining...' well that was true in this case and Maria was my silver lining. As a writer and reporter for our local newspaper, she came to my studio to interview me and we became fast friends. Anyhow, this Friday, Maria came out to visit with me and Arlie as we painted the horse...in she walked with a beaming smile holding a big plate of goodies. She brought cookies and chocolate, crackers and cheese and strawberries and grapes...what a treat this wast not only to our taste buds and slightly hungry bellies but to my heart as well. I think Maria ended up staying with us for over 2 hours and I just loved her company. Maria is a writer and I am an illustrator, both of us avid aunties, both with a love for rabbits and all things cute and quirky , so we are cooking up a project together. I think with our talents intermingling will make it a fantastic project indeed, if perhaps but a bit slow in coming. I am very excited about it. Maria...if you read this..thank you oodles and oodles, your visit and sweet treat the other day was the tonic I needed. and I can't help but show everyone the awesome napkins Maria brought with the snack... So I think this past Friday was just a really great day and it was a reminder that strength and good people surround us constantly. We just have to lift our heads and hearts enough to reach out to them if we're feeling alone. Because the true friends, despite their own dramas and hardships will reach right back out to you. I needed this reminder...Arlie, Jonathan and Maria....thank you thank you thank you, I love you guys. So my dear readers, thanks for stopping by...I hope you are all well and that your enjoying what I am doing here. I know some bloggers are tuned out right now and taking some mental space from other blogs, etc...we need to do this once in awhile for sure...but I hope that you do come back to me soon. Till tomorrow...Be Well and Happy Creating.