Thursday, June 29, 2017

Throwback Thursday: Book Pages

Book pages are super fun to use in sketchbooks - there are so many things you can do with them! Here's a page where I used paint and doodling to highlight a few choice words.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Sketchbook Pages: Week 25

As I mentioned last week, I set myself the challenge of actually using my vast quantity of supplies. Specifically, I have TONS of paper - all sorts, from pretty scrapbooking paper to magazine pages to vintage papers and ephemera. So I'm using that up this week (at least until Friday, when I left for vacation).

6/18 Summer sunshine

6/19 Scattered mosaic

6/20 Iceberg

6/21 First day of summer

6/22 Where

6/23 Vintage circles

Materials used:
  • various papers (scrapbooking paper, book pages, magazine pages, ephemera)
  • stickers

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Recipe: Sheetpan Lemon Chicken

Quick and easy meals are always welcome on a busy weeknight. Whether you're just getting home from work or have bath- and bedtimes to manage, spending time in the kitchen is not always a luxury one might have. I've seen many variations on "sheetpan chicken" - chicken and vegetables cooked together on a baking sheet - here's mine.

Sheetpan Lemon Chicken


2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into smaller pieces
1/2 large onion, cut into quarters
3 cauliflower florets, approximately 1/3 of a head, broken into bitesized florets
8 asparagus spears, woody stems removed and roughly broken into bitesized pieces
handful of cherry or grape tomatoes
1 lemon, half cut into small wedges, the other half sliced
salt, pepper and seasoning of choice


1. Preheat oven to 425F.

2. Lightly grease your baking sheet with oil. I've used both olive and sunflower - any neutral vegetable oil will do. Usually I will lay down foil before oiling; parchment paper would likely also work, with or without oil.

3. Place chicken, cauliflower, onion and tomatoes on the baking sheet, tossing to coat lightly in oil. Squeeze the lemon wedges over the chicken and vegetables, then add them to the pan.

4. Season with salt, pepper and herbs of choice (dried or fresh), tossing again to distribute evenly. I used oregano, basil, parsley and garlic powder. Top chicken pieces with lemon slices.

5. Roast for 10-15 minutes. Add the asparagus and toss, making sure the chicken pieces get turned over. Cook for another 10-15 minutes, until chicken pieces are cooked through.

6. Serve with rice, grains, potatoes or bread to soak up those tasty juices.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Sketchbook Pages: Assorted Collages

For the last month or so, I've been cleaning up and organizing my craft room; we've been using it as a sort of junk room and it was getting out of control. It's finally at a point where I can sit down at my desk and paint. Success! I can also sit down at my other desk and sew, or I can sit down and exercise on our rowing machine. There's still tons of work to be done, but it's so nice to have this room in a more or less usable state!

Anyway, this week I went a little crazy down there (my craft room is our basement) and worked in an assortment of sketchbooks, mostly creating mixed-media collages. I have SO much paper and ephemera that I gave myself a challenge to just use as much of it as possible. No more "saving" special papers. No over-thinking. Just play.
I found this sketchbook with one final blank page... done. It felt good moving it from the "unfinished" pile to the "finished" shelf.

I also found another wide, green sketchbook. It is nowhere near full - I think I was saving it as a "good" sketchbook. No longer. In the first page I show below, I used up some extra special papers I've been saving for a long time.

Lastly, I have this handmade watercolour sketchbook that I use to lay down any leftovers as I work on other things: paint, collage papers, whatever. Here's what I have from this week - the purple paint and collaged tissue paper are from a page I'm working on in my Amber art book (more on that later). The green I added for fun.
I have no idea where this page will go... and it doesn't matter. I'm enjoying the process right now and completely letting go of any "final" products. It doesn't matter what it looks like in the end - the point is to create art for the simple sake of creating. And I'm loving it.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Throwback Thursday: Ombre Diamonds

Like last week, here's another sketchbook page where I used up some scraps of pretty papers. This time I pieced together a fun ombre pattern for a really neat effect.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Sketchbook Pages: Week 24

I'm trying to push myself to create in my sketchbook daily but came across a roadblock: my glue stick ran out and it was my last one. So... no quick collages. There are no rules stating I have to collage each day, but I wasn't feeling inspired to do anything else. So I challenged myself to create a few pages without paper. They aren't my favourite pages, but they made me stretch - I subsequently pulled out some wet glue for the final page (and then found myself at my craft desk, collaging in multiple sketchbooks... it was glorious).

6/13 Ray of sunshine

6/14 Golden hour

6/15 Purple graffiti

6/17 Introduction

Materials used:
  • various papers (scrapbooking paper,magazine pages, book pages, ephemera)
  • stickers
  • washi and masking tapes
  • Pilot Precise V5 pens (various colours)
  • Sharpie paint pens (gold)
  • Sharpie pens (black)
  • pencil crayons

Saturday, June 17, 2017

My Garden Box

Last spring, Pat built me a raised bed to use as a garden in our backyard. I was all gung-ho about it until we left for our week-long vacation out East. The garden got a little crazy with neglect, and since I had it covered with a net, I just sort of left it for the rest of the summer. This spring, I was pleasantly surprised by some unexpected perennials, including both herbs and flowers. It has me excited about my garden's potential again - I want to nurture it this year and hopefully the bounty of my perennials next year will be even greater.

Here's the state of my garden on May 28th, after cleaning it up and pulling weeds:
At the front, I have lemon balm and chives and near the back there are 3 flowers growing (I don't remember what they were, only that they came as a pack of 4 purporting to attract butterflies). I also had thyme and lemon thyme plants growing in pots that happened to survive the winter too.

I decided I wanted my garden to be more of a perennial herb garden with a bit of space for tomatoes and flowers. I transplanted the thyme, moved one of the flowers over a bit and added a few new plants: oregano, rosemary, one tomato plant and a bunch of Swiss chard. Here it is on June 11:
Since I over-crowded last year, I was a bit more conservative this year. But I forgot: something eats the lettuce and Swiss chard I had planned for the left side of the box. I haven't seen what's eating it, but pretty soon, the whole thing was garbage. So I did some re-planning - some of the herbs got shuffled around because I hadn't considered height when I first put them in. I also picked up 2 more tomato plants as well as lavender and chocolate mint (!) at the farmer's market. Those went in last weekend and here we are today:
I really need to harvest some of that lemon balm - it's growing like crazy! And I can't tell you how excited I am about the lavender and chocolate mint. They're going to make great additions to my perennial herb garden!
I'm so looking forward to watching my garden evolve over the summer - and I absolutely cannot wait to see where things stand next spring!