Our thinking shapes our experiences. Even obstacles have a value when you can recognize it. Develop convictions that will help you to feel happier and achieve more, regardless of the situation.
Consider these empowering beliefs that you can start using today to transform your life through the power of changing your thinking.
I understand my potential.
You can achieve amazing results when you put your mind to it. Feel excited about reaching your true potential.
I count my blessings.
List each thing that you have to be grateful for. Remember to include the smaller items, like warm socks or tart cranberries. Expressing your appreciation reminds you of how rich you are.
I learn from mistakes.
Make setbacks work for you by focusing on the lessons they contain. Messing up one project can teach us how to do better with the next one.
I find meaning in adversity.
Tough times can be the most rewarding phases in life. It is possible to emerge from any challenge with greater wisdom and courage. When you look back at the obstacles you've already overcome, it's reassuring to know you can handle what's ahead.
I embrace change.
Even when we want nothing to change, it's better to accept that life is a series of changes. Focus on the present moment, and prepare yourself to adapt to whatever circumstances come along.
I dream big.
Expand your wish list. Setting inspiring but attainable goals gives you adventures to look forward to each day. Believe that your dreams are possible, then take steps to get there. There is no other way.
I practice forgiveness.
Few things are more effective for lightening your load than clearing away resentment you're holding onto from the past. Set reasonable boundaries and respond with compassion when others disappoint you. Pardon yourself, too.
I give generously.
Sharing our blessings makes us all more powerful and joyful. Volunteer in your community or determine to speak kindly to each person you meet today. Buy coffee for your co-workers or give your sister a flower. Give cheerfully to someone in need.
What we believe has a powerful impact on what happens in our lives. If you believe that you can, or you can't, you're right. Adopting beliefs like the following will help make your life better.
I take responsibility.
You are in charge of your life. Hold yourself accountable for the outcomes you create. Celebrate the fact that you have the power to determine your own future.
I apply effort.
Figure out your definition of success so you know what is worth working for. Give yourself credit when you're making progress rather than comparing yourself to others.
I leverage my strengths.
You have your own individual strengths that you can draw on. Figure out what you're good at and what you want to do. Let that knowledge guide your choices.
I listen to feedback.
Ask for feedback so you can enhance your performance and show others that you respect their point of view. You grow faster when you gather solid input that you can translate into action.
I ask for help.
Build a sturdy support network. Work with a mentor. Divide up household chores with your spouse and children. Ask for help when you're stuck, or when you can't see the next steps.
I connect with others.
Moral support counts too. Surround yourself with loving and encouraging family and friends. Participate actively in your faith community. Join a club with members who share your interests, whether it is in solar power, photography, or badminton.
I recognize opportunities.
Stay alert for promising openings. You may meet a new friend while you're standing in line to buy your morning coffee.
I try new things.
Be open to experimentation. Go kayaking one weekend instead of playing tennis. Bake your own bread or knit a scarf. You may discover hidden talents.
An upbeat attitude increases your happiness and productivity. Question old assumptions so they can be replaced with a new sense of certainty about you and your future. Adopt empowering beliefs that build up your confidence and prepare you for greater success. Start today.
And my favourite:
I trust God.
Know that God loves you like you are his only child. He is good and only good and can be trusted all the time.
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Recently, I was musing about making some changes in my life and when I thought about certain things, I could actually feel a sensation in my body. It was like that feeling you get when you are startled by a knock at your door, or when it's your turn to speak a meeting.
What is this? I didn't want it to pass unnoticed, because I've learned over the years to pay attention to those visceral responses. They are useful indicators of what's going on emotionally under the surface.
I realized that the sensation I was experiencing was a little quiver of fear. Now, I consider myself to be a pretty confident—even fearless—person. Most things don't slow me down. However, as with everyone, there can be things under the surface of daily life that still have an emotional hook to something fearful.
This brought me to another question: What would my life look like if I weren't afraid?
This question is different than, what would I do if I weren't afraid? I want to know the end result, what my life looks like without that particular fear holding sway.
So let me ask you...
What would your life look like if you weren't afraid? "But I'm not afraid," you might protest. And in most situations, you're probably right. But see if any of these give you a little twinge.
What would you life look like if you weren't afraid...
Obviously, there are more possible fears than I can list here. The point is, if your particular fear were not part of your life, how would your life be different?
If you can imagine or picture your life without that fear controlling your actions, you're well on your way to eliminating it and living a better life.
Fear is a Thief
If you think about how fear affects your life, you can easily see that fear is a thief, by any other name.
It steals your peace, your joy, your future, your choices, your happiness, your health, and your relationships. It robs you of confidence and ambition.
Fear is a Liar
Fear lies to you about your abilities and your future. It lies about how smart or capable you are. It lies about what people think of you and how much God loves you. It even lies about danger.
Fear is Destructive
Fear destroys your dreams, your compassion, your thought life, your sleep, and your health. It damages your ability to think clearly and make decisions that will enhance your life.
My life is like this...
If you've identified anything from the list above, or that you already know is causing you to hesitate and not to do what you would like to, take some time to imagine your life without that particular fear.
Where would you go?
What steps would you take?
To whom would you talk?
Where would you live?
What would your days look like?
What would you try?
This is a fun exercise because all it requires is a bit of imagining.
Close your eyes and picture the result you want. It's pretty easy but if you're getting resistance, just keep trying until you can see your life without the stumbling block of fear.
Daily joy is up for grabs so don't let fear steal it away. Go for the happy.
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One day I sat down to make a list of some of the things that make my life feel rich and full. There were very few things on the list that I didn’t already have and appreciate. But one item on my list was to buy fresh flowers regularly. For me, buying flowers had fallen into the category of money frittered away since flowers soon die leaving nothing to show for the money spent.
So buying flowers and having them around my home is a sign to me of my prosperity and luscious living, a sign that I have enough money that I don’t have to concern myself with such a small expense. With that exercise, I realized how very little is often required to feel rich and prosperous. Very often the problem lies in not identifying what gives us that delightful sense of joy, because we can be too busy to look.
If you were to create your own list of delights, it may not include buying flowers. Beautiful music, pleasing colours, pretty things give most of us a lot of pleasure, and surrounding ourselves with these delights makes life so much more lovely.
Our surrounding have a powerful impact on how we relate to other things in life. So it is important to fill our surroundings with objects that lift the spirit and soothe the soul.
Surrounding yourself with beautiful things is an act of self-care. When you treat yourself well, you are acknowledging that how important you are. You are one of a kind and very special. Take the time and care to add more beauty to your life to give your own soul delight.
Ask yourself if your home gives you pleasure to be in? Is your bedroom an expression of your beautiful self? If not, then take the time to identify those things that need to be removed, replaced, or revitalized. Adding beauty to your surroundings it can be as simple as placing a violet on your kitchen windowsill, to as elaborate as redecorating your whole house.
Whatever you choose, remember that our souls are nourished by beauty, so if you want a well-nourished and satisfied soul, be sure to surround yourself with more of it.
I had this thought: What if I did nothing at all today?
What if I didn’t strive for anything? What if I let myself off the hook?
I’m not saying I want to simply be lazy.
But…what would it be like not to feel driven? To get quiet and be led instead?
If I look around me, all I see has been provided one way or another, yet, I spend so much time and create so much disquiet trying to provide for myself. Don’t you? And trying to prove something that doesn’t need to be proven.
The world tells you that you have to hustle all the time.
Life can sometimes feel like walking down the street and having everyone shouting at you, demanding something from you, trying to get you to look this way, buy this, trying to convince you that only this thing will change your life - That there is only one way to succeed, and right now, you have to sign up, enter your credit card number, hurry, before it’s too late.
Please know, there is nothing whatsoever wrong with commerce. We all need to make a living and work is important.
But what if you and I were to turn the sound down for a day?
What if we sat in the sun and read a book for an hour, not talking?
Would the something terrible happen? Not likely. But I would have more peace today.
I have a passion for silence.
Sound is something we don’t really notice most of the time.
A neighbour starts his car and drives past, muffler growling.
A siren sounds in the distance. I pray for safety and healing for whomever is involved.
A small plane goes overhead, the sound of its engines reaching a crescendo before fading into the far distance.
Without silence or quiet, our souls become agitated in ways we can’t even recognize. How can you listen to the still, small voice in your heart, when noise is all around? It is possible, if you are tuned into it, but it takes practice to learn how to hear God.
I live in a quiet small town, in a quiet neighbourhood. When I go to the city, while it is fun and exciting, by the end of the day, I can’t wait to get home to the relative stillness.
Being still allows me to notice things that otherwise are missed in the hurry and striving and noise that fills most days.
Being still gives me the time to be thankful for the good things in my life. Do you know that every good and perfect thing in your life ultimately has come from God?
Listen to this verse from the Bible: Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.
No variableness means no here today, gone tomorrow. No wishy-washy. No turning away from giving good and perfect gifts, not even a shadow of it.
When I take the time to sit in stillness, the beauty around me becomes more evident. I see better, the good and perfect things in my life.
Some of those gifts are physical, like health and ability. Some are material—a car to drive, a home, nice clothes. Some are mental—peace of mind, clear thinking.
And many are spiritual - knowing that God loves me, and that he always provides for me.
I am also thankful for the talent God has given me, and thankful that I have been able to develop my skills in art and watercolour, and with words, so I have the opportunity to bless others with beautiful things from my hands.
Of course, I sell things featuring my art in my store because I too have bills to pay. But ultimately, I believe that making life pretty is an admirable goal as it makes life better. Beauty lifts the spirit and soothes the mind.
I hope you take the time to visit my store at Summer Bay Studio.com. It’s full of pretty things featuring my watercolour art.
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Once you have logged in to the Lesson Library, download and print the Maple Leaf drawing.
You will notice that some of the lines represent the outline of the leaf and its veins, while others outline the shadows around the leaf.
TIP: The light source for the image is from straight on, which is why you see shadows on both sides of the leaf. As you know, when leaves dry in the fall, they tend to curl so our leaf is not lying flat, and the shadows indicate this to the viewer.
As an artist and a writer, love art and words, and I especially love them together. When I designed my series called Sea Dreams, I wanted not only to evoke the feelings we have about the sea with soft, fresh colours, but also to incorporate words.
I chose to keep the words simple, using only the names for each shell pictured in the watercolour. While the words were simple, choosing a font was not.
Generally, I have an idea in my mind's eye of how I want the whole image to look but often once I create it, I find that I'm not happy with how it turns out. That's when the experimenting begins.
Over the years, I have added a lot of decorative fonts to my font "basket" because I create decorative work. The process of choosing a font and the appropriate colour is one of trial and error. First I type the word, then scroll through my fonts for likely candidates.
Some fonts get rejected as soon as I see them on the artwork. Others are definite maybes. I will make a copy of my word or words, and change the font on the copy so I can compare the two. I continue with this process until I have several possibilities.
Several considerations go into the choice:
I place each font style on the artwork, size it, work with the colour, and gradually eliminate fonts that don't convey the look and feel that I want for the art. It can take many hours to get just right! But that's all part of the fun fun.
SEE ALL SUMMER BAY STUDIO'S COLLECTIONS HERE.
Recently I was talking with a friend who expressed how unhappy she was in her work situation. I can appreciate that sometimes conditions can be intolerable for a variety of reasons, however, my friend has a habit of rehashing her day as soon as she gets home. She goes over everything that went wrong, all the ways things didn't work out, and recounted whatever anyone said or did that rubbed her the wrong way.
Whoa! If you want to stay miserable, doing this is guaranteed to help you with it. Looking for the negative is an easy, and bad, habit. To change how you habitually think, you have to…change your thoughts.
A good way to begin to do this is to choose to appreciate the good things you already have.
Here is my list of great deals on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca for creatives and artists (even if you just want to be one.)
Simply click the links for the products that interest you and it will take you right there. If you're not already a Prime Member you can sign up for a free 30 day trial for Amazon.ca (Canada) HERE.
Click on any image below to get started. You can check out these items, or browse for others once you're there.
Sign up for Amazon.com (USA) HERE. Click on any image below to get started. You can check out these items, or browse for others once you're there.
You know how it goes. You have plans and everything in noted in your planner. Then you get sideswiped by the unexpected. The car breaks down. Someone near and dear passes away suddenly. The transaction that was supposed to have been cleared up months ago, finally needs your utmost attention, just when everything else does too.
Life just goes like that. At least, mine sure has lately. However, in the midst of a bunch of stuff that I won't go into, I've managed to create eight new watercolours I'm calling Summer Bay Farm. These cuties are appearing first on a set of coffee mugs, then I will be rolling out several other great products.
Here is a peek at my new coffee mugs. There are eight animals in the series, and I think they're all adorable. This is Mrs. McQuacken.
The remainder are loading on my new store and will be available to purchase later this week.
There are days—we all have them. It seems like the weather has been grey and cold for weeks, and the sun went south for a holiday.
Motivation to do, well, anything, is worse than at low ebb. It's hardly more than a drop to dampen a fingertip on.
It's easy to lose sight of your goals, why you do what you do, or why you ever thought it was a good idea in the first place. The refrigerator and the sofa are calling your name.
It is time for a pep talk.
If you have someone to go to, that's great. But you can give yourself a pep talk any time you want.
Here are a few tips:
1. Remind yourself out loud what your goal is. "This is what I'm doing..."
2. Say why you want this. "I want to do this because..."
3. Imagine yourself doing it, or achieving it. See how that feels. "It feels fantastic now
that I have..."
4. Congratulate yourself on your progress so far. "Wow! Well done, (your name)!"
5. Celebrate with something special, or do a happy dance in your kitchen.
Little steps like these can completely change your mood and your motivation and will keep you on track to getting you where you want to go.
You can do it!
The months of spring are sliding by so quickly, it's important to keep an eye on the calendar. The way I work, I sometimes lose track of what date it is because I become so focused on my work.
This spring is a little different because I've created a few designs for upcoming holidays and gift-giving occasions. The next up is Mother's Day.
Mother's Day is next month. Tell your Mom she's the Best with my new coffee mug design.
More new designs coming.
Early last year, I decided to do something that had been on my mind for some time. The idea of the somewhat lost art of writing personal letters intrigued me. As a child and young teen, I had pen pals and I remember eagerly awaiting letters in the mail.
As soon as one arrived, I raced to my bedroom and wrote a reply. I wanted the letters to keep coming.
Later, when family members moved far away, we communicated with each other by writing letters. Long distance phone calls were infrequent and expensive then, but getting a letter in the mail was a delight.
With these and other memories in mind, I began creating The Letter Box, providing subscribers with a beautiful, illustrated letter every few weeks. It was exciting and fun, and my subscribers loved it.
Little did I know when I began that 2017 would turn out to be such a difficult year. Lots of big and tragic events came along. By late fall, I was finding it hard to keep all the balls in the air and it was with regret that I had to stop writing and illustrating the regular installments of The Letter Box.
Now, my life seems to have righted itself again. (What a relief!)
But guess what! After all that letter writing, you wouldn't believe all the beautiful pages I have. I am so excited to tell you that I have gathered them all together and put them in a book! I have also added more letters that even the previous subscribers have never seen!
The Letter Box - An Entire Year of Illustrated Letters is now available to purchase.
Isn't it pretty?
And here is a special surprise: A peek inside!
I made some changes to some of the original letters, adding more of my watercolours and keeping everything current.
My goal with this book of letters is to shine a light on the beautiful things that are around us every day, and to help us all find enjoyment in the sweet ordinary.
The letters are personal with details about my life, including travels and discoveries.
The Letter Box also has lots of great tips and ideas, from recipes and decorating ideas to advice on cleaning closets and enjoying summer days (not at the same time, though).
I have a loyalty card for the grocery store where I usually shop for healthy stuff like broccoli, and other things such as shampoo, exercise pants (which rarely see the light of day), and new small appliances that I don't buy because my counter space is already full—of other small appliances. I can redeem my accumulated points for any of these delights and more: make-up, snow shovels, baby clothes, bacon, taco chips, and live lobsters.
I also have a loyalty card for a drugstore chain that gives me points, like the other card does, that I can redeem for cool stuff like more lipsticks than a mega-church ladies group needs, magazines, or canned soups. This store has some of the same stuff as the grocery store, minus the lobsters (thank goodness).
Recently, these two stores amalgamated their loyalty programs, which required visits to both stores, a new card to replace the previous two, and registering online so I can be informed of all the deals. My previous sign-in information didn't work, so new password, new login, a lot of frowning and resetting...you know the drill.
In the meantime, I visited the drugstore and forgot new my card at home on my desk, while it was waiting to be registered. Now I have to go back and see if what I spent yesterday can now be counted as points. I'm so close to getting something fabulous with my amalgamated points.
Life is full of little details like this and as a creative person running a business, the details seem endless. Not only are there lists of must-do tasks every day, but the lists of would-love-to do projects looms large. New ideas are all so enticing that no matter what I'm currently working on, when a new concept pops into view, I want to add it to my stack of projects. Believe me, it takes serious discipline to make those ideas wait until I finish something.
Which brings me to this:
The book will be in full colour and in a large format so it is easy to read and the images are nice a clear. I have everything almost ready but then...
My forward progress was interrupted when my husband booked a week off work with the intention that we go away for a few days break. Lovely, I thought. But only days before our departure, our daughter and her two wee ones took sick, too sick for her to recover while nursing a baby and caring for a sick three-year-old.
So being the good parents we are, we scooped them all up and brought them to our little house for the week. As an aside, I also caught the cough bug, but not nearly to the degree that my kids got it. To top off the week, my computer coughed up its graphics card and went into a coma.
Life can get so muddled.
It was great fun having my two little g-babies here for the week. After all, who could resist a face like this?
Getting back to my original thought, don't you find that life is often a muddled mess? Things don't always go as planned, no matter how tight the plan. Our vacation getaway got postponed for another time; our house became a jumble of scattered toys, spit-up cloths, and bouncing children.
By the weekend, my daughter and her children went home, much improved. My computer issues are in the process of being resolved, mainly because I'm muddling through figuring out more new things. It is important to remember that the muddle is normal. Sometimes, things go swimmingly. Sometimes they don't, and no matter how much we fret and fuss, it won't help.
The only way to handle it is to, as my late father-in-law used to say, "Bash on, regardless."
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HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Where I live, in Canada, the start of a new year is always synonymous with cold winter weather, even though I live in the most temperate part of the country. This year is no exception.
The day after Boxing Day (December 26th) the storm blew in, first with snow then ice rain, followed by a blizzard. Beneath the hip-high snow deposited by the most recent snowfall lies a skating rink of ice. In fact, the ice coated everything—cars, trees, roadside grasses, blackberry bushes, and houses—in more than a half inch of glass.
It's beautiful but treacherous!
The snow buried the neighbourhood and many are still digging out. Not far from here, power lines were downed by the weight of ice and the blast of wind, leaving hundreds without electricity for many hours.
Whatever plans we had for the holidays had to be cancelled until we could get out of our street. So what do you do when this happens? Have some fun, of course. Sure, you can lounge in front of the television and binge watch whole series on Netflix, each junk food, and live in your pyjamas. I did briefly consider that...
Instead, I published a pair of books that I've been thinking about for a long time. In fact since I last blogged (I know, it has been too long!) I've created and published several books that have been on my to-do list for some time.
Rather than list them here, I have updated MY BOOKS page where you can see everything in one place. The links are included so you can look inside and go ahead and purchase if you like what you see.
Click anywhere below for a closer look.
I wish you a wonderful, healthy, and prosperous 2018!
And if you're not already on my email list, be sure to grab my free gifts when you join.
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No one can deny that great things happen in our lives all the time. A new baby arrives, you get the dream job, the house renovation goes perfectly. But awful things happen too, and though we wish they wouldn't come along, or that we could somehow minimize the collateral damage, usually we just have to get through those times and keeping putting one foot in front of the other.
This year, 2017, has been fraught with blows, one after the other. Unbelievable as it seems, a total of ten of our friends and family have passed away this year. Still reeling from one shock (losing my mom in January), the next ones hit without even time to regain my footing.
It was definitely time for a rest.
So in September my husband and I went to Quebec. The weather was perfect, full-on summer the entire time we were there, with just a dusting of fall colours in the red maple leaves.
We stayed with my sister and brother-in-law, and toured here and there in little day trips to see the sights.
The photo above is in the the town on Knowlton where author Louise Penny lives and where she fashions her mysteries in Three Pines.
So many things are old, like this little covered bridge built in 1861. I've lived in western Canada my entire life, except for a short stint in Europe, so I'm not accustomed to my neighbourhood being more than 150 years old.
All the villages are charming and pretty, and stone churches and graveyards show up around nearly every corner.
This lovely Presbyterian church is literally out my sister's back door. It's a nice little commute across the lawn on Sunday mornings.
This antiques and craft market, held in a farmer's field, attracted lots of visitors. What a temptation these beautiful cushions presented, but alas, my luggage was full.
Notice the crabapple tree, above, loaded with fruit shading the displays.
This area of Quebec, near the New York border, is apple growing country and what a perfect time to visit! These beauties were ready for picking and guess what—the next day they were gone, loaded into crates and on their way to markets.
Things have been quiet on my blog for a while and I'll explain why in a minute. But first I want to let you know the the smoke from the forest fires around the province did finally clear giving us brilliant hot summer days that looked like they'd go on forever. Instead, August whizzed by in a blink and suddenly it's September. And the smoke is back!
There is a cost to having a rainless summer and the cost has been high in terms of the damage done by wild fires both here and in the western US states (their smoke also blows in our direction some days). This is what the sun looked like this morning.
I realized that as the sweet days of summer slid past, I wasn't enjoying them nearly enough. Instead, I felt overwhelmed with work. Something had to change. So I briefly examined what I was having the most difficulty completing and my gaze landed on blogging regularly. Now, don't get me wrong, I love blogging, writing, creating posts, and sending emails. It's just that sometimes the plate gets too full.
So I took a break. I wanted to work on an art project (A big one!) that I've had in mind for some time but hadn't been able to get to. You know how frustrating that can be!
Well, I've finally finished the first tiny phase of it only yesterday. I'm super excited about it, and about all the plans I have in mind for lots more.
Here is a peek: (Click on the images for more.)
I've created a series of six designs that wrap around the mugs. The series is called RV Happy - Colour Me, because these particular ones can be coloured with markers or ceramic paints. If you thought a colouring BOOK was fun, you're going to love colouring these cuties. The six themes are Dockside, Beach, Glamping, Western, Desert, and Cottage. Get the entire set, or choose the ones that reflect your favourite vacation destination.
My next move is to create the watercolour versions for those who don't want to do the colouring themselves. After that I plan to roll designs out on a multitude of products in several design themes. So watch for goodies such as fabric (for quilting and decorating), clothing, jewellery, accessories, and more.
Be sure to join my email list to hear about the new products and designs coming soon.
This has been a hot, dry summer where I live, which is just the kind of weather I love. The down side of it is, in a province that's mostly forest, fires are inevitable. And there have been lots of really bad ones this year, so bad that the smoke from those distant fires has covered much of the landscape, including here in our valley.
This photo was taken at about 7:15 in the morning, a few days ago. Most evenings, the setting sun looks like a neon pink ball suspended in the sky. It's pretty, but the smoke is thick.
That means it's a good time to stay inside and get some work done. As I've mentioned before, I working on getting my art designs on a host of new products that I'm launching a few at a time. (Basically, as I get them formatted and loaded to my shop sites.)
I'm excited to introduce the latest piece in the Cheeky Collection, the "I'm the Queen, I make the Rules" necklace. When it comes to being "The Queen", either you are one or you know one. Click on the image to see the details.
I have years of designs hidden away in my "vault" that will soon be on all kinds of cool things for your house, or to wear, and more.
When the smoke clears, I'll still be here creating.
For the past couple of weeks my daughter has been on holiday from her job. She planned a "stay-cation" but then suggested we go away somewhere. Since I couldn't get away for more than a few days, a big trip wasn't feasible.
Instead, we took a day last week and went shopping across the border in Washington. We had a great day but since we don't live that near each other, and I was doing the driving and had to drop her off before coming home, I didn't get home until after midnight. Long day!
However, we had so much fun that she talked me into going again, only this time staying overnight. On the first day we walked our feet to the bones at a big outlet mall but only bought a few things. I finally found the perfume that I love, Tommy Bahama St. Barts!
We drove out to Whidbey Island and spent the night in Oak Harbor.
We stayed at the Auld Holland Inn that I booked through Booking.com. (Disclaimer: I joined the Booking.com affiliate program because I love their service. I've got so many great deals there.)
The hotel was super cute with little character touches like the pretty front entrance with hanging baskets. It's so easy to add pretty touches with only a few changes. After checking out the shops in historic downtown Oak Harbor, we carried on to Coupeville, one of my favourite villages.
Coupeville could give lessons on how to do cute. This is one of my favourite stores, Collections. It was the setting inspiration for my short story, Brown Santa, in Sweet Christmas Love.
The owner, Cheryl Nunn, has done such a perfect job of making her shop (above) pretty, inside and out. Be sure to stop in next time you're in the neighbourhood.
Just up the street is Aqua Gifts, another example of over-the-top pretty. Oh, my goodness! Take a look inside. For a beach lover like me, this is a little bit of heaven.
I found lots of ways to pretty up my house in the room overlooking the water.
La Conner was the next stop on our cute town shop-a-thon. It was getting to be mid-afternoon by the time we stopped here and, given how late I'd arrived home the previous week, I didn't want to spend too long before the big drive ahead.
But really, folks, you can't take La Conner quickly. Its prettiness alone demands that you slow down and enjoy all the delightful touches.
This is just one example of how pretty this town is. I bought a couple of lovely cotton summer tops that I'd been looking for everywhere—and got them at half price!
Then to top off the day, it was time for rocky road ice cream which we shared, sitting in the sunshine and overlooking the channel. You can see the map of La Conner here, too.
The perfect ending to a perfect little getaway.
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Earlier this year, I went looking for a planner to use for my business, projects, and appointments. Because I'm a visual person attracted to fun images, the ordinary "strictly business" planners that you can buy at an office supply store just don't do it for me. They bore me so much that I don't look at them, forget to write things in them, and consequently find them no help at all.
Then I discovered the Happy Planner! This planner is like recess and art class rolled into one. And because it's so much fun, and the visuals are so eye-catching, I use it all the time, and have become much more organized as a result.
There is so much I can do with my planner. You can buy pads of stickers to decorate the pages, or to highlight important events. Naturally, I loaded up on those, and then some.
This week I had an idea (brilliant, of course). A few years ago, I had painted a series of miniature watercolours that I framed and made into fridge magnets. You can see the originals, above and below.
My idea was to create planner stickers from all these pretty mini watercolours. It takes a little while to re-size and tweak them in Photoshop so they're printable, but I've made an entire sheet of stickers that are now available in my shop. I started with the flowers series and created 20 different stickers from the original eight images.
I'm ever so pleased with how they turned out and can't wait to format the other categories for you: Container Gardens, Fruits, and Vegetables.
All you need is some sheets of sticker paper, your printer, and you're ready to go. You can use these pretty stickers for your scrapbooking projects, to make quick gift tags or cards, or to label things around the house. Click here to see more now.
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My shop on this site is slowly starting to take shape. Over the years I've created dozens of pieces of artwork and decided it was about time I shared some of them with others who love watercolours and pretty things.
It's clearly time to organize my original artworks. I keep them all in an antique chest with shallow drawers. It's perfect.
I was looking for my original for the Seashell designs that are now in the shop.
This painting has always been one of my favourites. I've re-created it with a beautiful message in the shop where you can download and print it instantly.
While I was sorting through my paintings, I found a few others that I'd kind of forgotten about. The amaryllis is part of a Christmas series and will appear in the shop and on other products in due time.
I'm so excited about all the new things and plans I have for my site and my art and writing. For now, though, please visit the shop and have a look around. For a limited time I've got FREE flag banners to create for Canada Day and US July 4th. Go download them right away. They won't last.
Be sure to have a look at how beautiful this painting is with its uplifting message. Print it, frame it, hang it, love it, or give as a gift.
For a limited time only, Canadian and US flag banner kits are FREE in the shop.
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I confess that I'm a fan of cuteness. (Like you didn't know.) I especially love cute towns and villages, shops, and streets. So when I go to the coast of Washington state, I always take a side trip to Seabrook Village. It's what I call a pop-up village because it didn't grow organically; it was conceived and created on purpose.
I don't know who was behind the concept, but they've done an exceptional job of creating a pretty village on a rise above the beach on the Pacific.
Every house is different from the ones next door and all are styled after coastal designs from days gone by and villages that have been around for a long time.
Seabrook Village was originally planned as a vibrant community but most houses have been purchased as vacation homes and many are available for rental.
We got lucky and the sun came out. As we visited prior to the Memorial Day weekend, and during the week, things were pretty quiet, but construction was marching on.
I enjoyed seeing the variety in architectural styles. Don't you love that line up of white rocking chairs on the veranda?
My ex-house painter husband couldn't help but mention the upkeep of all those window frames but I think they're so pretty.
This little beauty looks pure east coast but would be fun to stay in. I'm betting there is a view of the sea from the upstairs window.
Gravelled walkways meander through the village and flags flutter from covered porches. I told you it was sweet.
What's a good seaside house without a veranda? Okay without, but better with. Imagine soft summer evenings visiting with friends, a cool drink in your hand.
Every home has its own character. Look at all the windows climbing up that west-facing wall. You'd never be without a view of the ocean on your way up to bed.
This cute cottage looks like it was transported from Cape Cod—not that I've been there, but you know, I've seen pictures. The life preserver on the outside wall is a nice nautical touch.
And the picket fences...need I say more? I didn't think so.
Even when the styling is similar it's not the same. I love diversity, and red garage doors? Nailed it.
Of course you want your blue bicycle handy for tootling around the village. And nautical touches like loops of ropbe are perfectly fitting in this seaside town.
The village continues to grow and each phase seems like it's cuter than the last one. Some houses now perch on the very cliff overlooking the ocean. Huge sighs, here.
There is even a farm, plus this row of charming cottages where you can spend your vacation, or a month working on your novel.
Since we arrived early in the season, some of the shops were closed but it looked like more were scheduled to open soon. If there's one thing I love, it's darling gift shops.
Speaking of which, I'm in the process of creating my online shop on this site. Be sure to take a look and to drop back often as I'm planning to add lots of my artwork, and much more, in the days to come.
It took a while to materialize but taking a week off finally happened. May 22nd was a holiday here in Canada—Victoria Day, celebrating the Queen's birthday. I convinced my husband to use some of his vacation time for a short getaway.
Since we live close to the US-Canada border, we have often vacationed in Washington state. This time was no exception. We packed up the car and headed south. The first couple of nights, we stayed in Everett, which is on the north end of Seattle area. Our ultimate destination was Ocean Shores but first we (uh, I, actually) needed a shopping stop, hence the city stay.
Then we caught the Edmonds Ferry across Puget Sound to Kingston, which is on the Olympic Peninsula. If you're a travel fan like me, a map is always a necessity. I like to know where I am on the planet.
This will give you a better idea than if I try to describe it. The blue dotted lines indicate where the ferries sail.
Biny-man never leaves home without his trusty binoculars. You never know when you'll have to investigate a passing sailboat or an airplane.
We like to take the back roads and hardly ever get lost. We don't really care if we do, and we're not afraid to ask for directions, even my man!
But this is one of my favourite signs to find, wherever we are. The trail leads off through the beach dunes where black-tailed deer live and the wild strawberries were in bloom. It's going to be a good season for those tiny, succulent berries in not to long a time. I may have to make a return trip.
We stayed at a lovely hotel, the Morning Glory that I booked through Booking.com. (Full disclosure: I've become an affiliate for Booking.com because I love their prices and service.)
And then...there it is. The first glimpse of the wild Pacific Ocean.
I made it to the beach. And it was COLD! I'm wearing layers and my wind-proof jacket while my hair nearly blows off. Still, it's exhilarating just to be there and hear the pounding surf. It's spectacular and this beach seems endless—wide and miles long!
I know you probably wish you could be here too, and I wanted to bring back a little taste of the ocean for you. I couldn't get my videos to load here so I'll just post another photo of a day at the beach.
When we travel, we like to explore so in my next post, I'll take you on a little jaunt to Seabrook Village. You'll swoon.
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Where I share creative ideas, uplifting thoughts, and spread sweetness to help us all make life pretty.