Wednesday, August 31, 2016

2016 Goals: August

I can't believe it's the end of August! Where did the summer go? While I am looking forward to cooler temperatures, it would be nice if things slowed down a bit. I have so much to do before the end of the year!

16 GOALS FOR 2016:
  1. Read 30 books. 26/30 (August was by far my most prolific reading month so far! I'm going to crush this goal!) 
  2. Try 16 new Ottolenghi recipes. 5/16
  3. Try 16 new (loose-leaf) teas. 16/16 
  4. Put up shelves and organize craft room. Make it inspiring. (Organization ongoing - need to kick this in gear to make more room.)
  5. Finish Amber art book - this year I WILL! (Only a few pages left!)
  6. Work in sketchbook daily. (Not daily, but I definitely dabbled in there more this month than the first half of the year.)
  7. Blog weekly. (Best month yet on this front!)
  8. Finish 2 cross-stitch samplers. (Finished the September square of the woodland sampler & started November. I will finish this before the end of the year as I want to frame it for the nursery.)
  9. Travel somewhere new. (Eastern Canada)
  10. Sign up for and pass my SOCRA certification.
  11. Make an inventory of all my books. (This has been on my to-do list for so long.. I really want to get it done this year!)
  12. Wake up earlier and practice yoga every morning evening. (Nope. Too hot after walking home in the sun... fingers crossed for cooler weather soon!)
  13. Make a weekly meal plan and prep veggies on the weekend. (Keeping up with this one pretty consistently.)
  14. Get rid of junk we never use (i.e. downsize our "things") and organize storage and spare spaces. (Need to get on this one...)
  15. Work on making the backyard nicer (plant flowers, landscape, garden). (My garden is growing like mad! Still need to work on the rest, probably in the fall.)
  16. Set reminders in my phone to make me check in on my goals at least monthly (and blog about it). (7/12 monthly reviews - missed June.)
This month I will tackle numbers 4, 8, and 14.

What goals have you crossed off your list lately?

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Collections: Royal Doulton Dolls

For my 30th birthday, my mom gifted me with the newest addition to my collection of Royal Doulton dolls: Nicola. The name isn't significant for our family; she was just too lovely to pass up. Like all my other dolls (except for the small white one, Amanda), she is a vintage doll. Delicately hand-painted, the vintage girls are just so much prettier, with finer details, than the new ones.
I think she looks perfect with the rest of my collection - the flowers are a similar shape to the one's on Victoria's dress and the yellow/green colours match perfect with The Last Waltz. They are a bit crowded all on the top shelf though - I may have to do some rearranging in my cabinet!
Thanks mom! I love her (and that little dove! So cute!)! The perfect addition to my girls!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

18 Weeks

First, the bump. For the best comparison, here I am at week 5:
And at week 16, the last photo I shared:
And now, at week 18 + 3 days (taken on my birthday in the same skirt):
Not a huge change, but definitely some growth! It is so much fun comparing these photos - I just don't notice the day-to-day changes.

A few days later, we had a different kind of photoshoot:

This was our anatomy ultrasound - scheduled between the 18-20 weeks recommended by our doctor.... except, the technician said that the baby should be at least 20 weeks. Also, our peanut was measuring in at just over 17 weeks, so everything (like the chambers of the heart) was just a bit too small to have reliable measurements. All this to say - we get to go back on September 10th for another go at it! So excited I get to see our baby again!

As I mentioned yesterday, we also found out the baby's sex. This made it all that much more real for me - I can really start picturing myself with our little one, planning the room and picking a name. I'm SO excited! I can't wait for the (not too elaborate) gender reveal! Once I have the card designed and made (and delivered to the intended recipients), I'll share it here.

Based on these photos though, what do you think we're having? Boy or girl?

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

My Birthday Flowers

I celebrated my 30th birthday this weekend - nothing crazy, no big party, just a nice day being spoiled by my loved ones (especially my husband). We went out for lunch at one of my favourite places, did a bit of shopping, had a nice nap and then went out for dinner at an excellent Italian hole-in-the-wall. He topped it off by picking up tiramisu from the awesome bakery around the corner and surprising me with flowers:
I had a great day! But even more exciting for me was Tuesday, when we saw our little one again. We were able to find out the sex at this ultrasound and I'm looking forward to the "reveal" (again - no elaborate party here, just a homemade card I've been designing in my head and will soon put to paper). We'll be heading North to see our families on the long weekend (just over a week away), so that's when we plan on telling them. I'll post the coveted bump and ultrasound photos tomorrow.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Sketchbook Pages: Whimsical Birds

As I mentioned, after sketching lots of birds, I decided to create a few more "finished" sketchbook pages. I had a few whimsical ideas, placing my birds in fun situations.

First, I drew a birdy birthday party:
I love how he has a less-than-impressed expression! Perhaps the cake was the wrong flavour?

The next bird has a peace offering to cheer him up:

I wanted to combine a bird with one of my girls, so I drew a friend on her shoulder:

I love tea, so I thought I'd share a mug:

The last page I'll share today was inspired by a different lesson in Alisa Burke's Beautiful Birds class - this one had us fill the birds with doodles instead of more realistic feathers:
I particularly love how this one turned out! The design gives it a more artistic feel.

All of these pages started with a pencil sketch and were refined with a black ink pen. Colour was added in with pencil crayons. Birds are such a delight to draw, don't you think?

Sunday, August 7, 2016

My Pregnancy

Now that I'm safely into my second trimester, I've started announcing my pregnancy. We told our parents when we first found out, right around the long weekend in May. I also told my gramma (and then my mom had to tell my aunt because my gramma couldn't talk to her without spilling the beans!). I was 5 weeks pregnant.
Please note: I no longer fit into these yoga pants!

Around the 12 week mark, right at the end of my first trimester, we told the rest of our family. Luckily, we had just had out first ultrasound, so we had a photo to show! It wasn't a very good one though... but since that ultrasound was for prenatal screening, and the baby was just a bit too small to take the measurements, we went back a week later (at 12 weeks and 5 days) and got this:
In the first ultrasound, the baby was wiggling around like crazy! This time around, our little peanut was probably sleeping. But the ultrasound tech was able to coax him/her around to get this great shot. Both times, we saw the pulse of a heartbeat. SO in love!!!

While we were on our trip, Pat took this photo of me in the ocean at nearly 14 weeks:

At our 16 week appointment on Thursday, we got to hear the heartbeat. So neat! Our doctor counted it out to 140-150.

And after work on Friday, I was feeling pretty good about how I looked, so I got Pat to snap some pictures at 16 weeks + 1 day:

I've had an amazing pregnancy so far - no morning sickness and minimal discomfort. It's been great! Lately, my "worst" symptom is that I'm hungry, ALL the time. Luckily, I've only gained about 5 pounds so far - well that, and a cute little bump!

Our due date is January 19th. We have our next ultrasound at the half way point, in about 4 weeks. I can't wait to see our little one again! So so so happy!

Saturday, August 6, 2016

My Creative Space: I Loved You Before I Met You

I finished a very personal piece last week that I wanted to share here as a sort of announcement. Before the big reveal, I'm going to take you through the steps I took to make it.

First, I started with a collage. This is very typical for me - not only does it add great texture, but it helps to provide a good base, a colour scheme. Plus, I really love the look of some of the patterns peeking through the layers of paint added on top. Here, I used book pages, scrapbooking paper, magazine scraps, a brown paper bag and tissue paper.

I haven't been creating much lately, so for this piece I wanted to use some techniques I haven't used in a while. With that in mind, I added the first layers of paint with a brayer. Here it is with the first layer of pink (I mixed gesso with naphthol red medium and permanent red violet) - I added a bit of gesso on top of this before moving on to stamps.

I haven't pulled out my many stamps in a while, so I went a little crazy with blank, brown and red inks. I used a bunch of different ones to add some texture, mostly around the edges.

Now that I was happy with the background, I started on my figure. I created a stencil using cardstock (you can see it in the left of the next photo), sketching the outline and cutting it out. I then used a palette knife and oxide black paint to fill her it - I needed two layers for optimal coverage. This photo is after the first layer.

I didn't include hair in the stencil since that was a bit trickier to cut out than a bald head. Once I had the outline down though, I painted in her hair. Since I did all the following steps in one go, I didn't take any more photos until the piece was complete... but basically, I darkened the edges of the figure and page with Faber-Castell Pitt pens (light and medium flesh for around the figure, and medium flesh and raw umber around the edge) and Gelatos (metallic melon). I stamped the sentiment on watercolour paper, cut out the individual words and inked the edges of each piece before glueing them down. My final step was covering the whole piece in a protective layer of glossy medium.

Once dry, I removed the tape from the edges of the completed piece and realized I had done the collage before taping... but I actually really like how it looks.
And there it is! SOOOOOO happy with how it turned out. This one deserves to be framed I think.

And yes, if you haven't guessed it by now, I am pregnant! So happy and excited! More in a future post.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Sketchbook Pages: Beautiful Birds Sketched

Since taking Alisa Burke's Beautiful Birds class, I've been sketching a lot of birds. If I'm at home, I use my Golden Field Guide - Birds of North America for inspiration. Occasionally, if I get to work extra early, I'll take a few seconds and fill a page inspired by a google search. Here are just a small selection of those sketches:
Some are quick sketches, some are simple line drawings (either sketched with pencil first, or not). I'm finding my "bird style" - you'll see a few more "finished" sketches in my next post.