Sunday, April 13, 2014

Bits and Bobs

These are not porn stars...I practicing nudes for art class

Tree Cozy

Building a room around these doors.

Sunoco gas bar. Pick up a coke, gum or a stun gun
I drawing bodies for art class. Lucky for me as I hate sketching clothes, drawing nudes is a great way to practice drawing.  I do lack a model, so I'm using my imagination. The second girl clearly has fake boobs and a scary eye, but the first one is making eye contact. One thing I can't draw is hands, so I just left them out.

We're building a  sunroom in Florida. Nothing started yet, but the entire addition is going to be worked around these 100 year old Indian doors. Contractors going to love me.
If you are ever in St. Petersburg, take a gander through the Dali museum of course, but then wander up Central Avenue to explore what the art community has been up to.
Our trees in Canada could have used sweaters this Winter.

While you're paying for your gas, pick up a coke or a stun gun...they work! 

Saturday, April 5, 2014

A birthday in the house.

Henry Francis and I share a birthday. 
I've been Nannie-sitting him this week and Girl Child asked me if I could snap a birthday photo of him in a party hat (for the album you know).

A boy hat was not to be found around the house, but I did have a Cinderella crown. Which made him feel very silly, but totally adorable.

Of course he tried to lick the cake when he blew out the candles.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Painting a day

I read that you have to paint 120 paintings before you get any good. I've given myself a challenge to paint a painting a day for 30 days. 

Over the past few days I've been practicing with not much success. After reading a lot on the matter, I pared down my efforts for simpler subject matter and have taken the time to sketch them first with simple drawings showing the light values. The tulips turned out OK, but this is after I scraped the paint off the flowers twice. Daily routine. Sketch. Shade. Paint.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Artist Wannabe


Once in a while someone will the question at a party (usually after a bit of liquor) about what your dream job would be. I was asked it recently, and since then I've given it lots of thought lately because I'm dead bored of selling rugs and furniture and even the decorating side of my business if dulling me out. The truth is I've always wanted to paint. I not a good technical drawer so abstract and impressionist painting strikes my fancy. 

I found an art course that wasn't sold out, but the problem was it was for Level 2...not beginners, do I guess I have to fake it. Off I went to the art shop, pretending I knew what I needed and though together a basic painting kit. I've done color theory classes so know how to mix colours from primary blue, red and yellow, as well as white and black. The first painting one was a disaster. Part way through it looked really good, then I did what I've come to realise is my fatal flaw. I keep going and going until the paint is as thick as butter cream. My second try was a wee bit better, but again, I used far too much paint.

Yesterday, I watched a few You-Tube tutorials and ended up with my first piece that I actually like. It probably could use a few finishing touches, but I've left it well enough alone because I don't want to over do it.  

Tomorrow I start my lessons and I plan to post my classwork and any pieces I do at home.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014


Unknown- March 11, 2014

Best friend of Gracie
Thought she was a dog
Best Cat Ever
Loved greatly by our family

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

New stock in Shop

I've spent the past week photographing new stock of Sno of Sweden jewelry. The latest trend is a big stack of bracelets on the arm. I love experimenting with all the pieces to find interesting ways to wear them. Personally, I prefer them worn in color matched groups. A cluster of snowy white pearls, beads and silver bracelets look amazing with a soft winter white sweater. Or a dark, smoky grey collection to add sparkle to your dark winter grey and black clothes.

Right now I am offering Free Shipping plus 20% off all stock until the end of January. Use coupon code JANUARY.  Here is the link to my website

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Late start

Christmas Breakfast Table

Sofa and chair in Tampa cafe

pretty light fixture

fun ride

All you really need

Company for dinner brought wine and an old school flamingo

When in St. Petersburg, try Mazzaro's for lunch

A late start to the blog I know....Christmas and New Years at home, our first without boy child. We braved that well, knowing we would all be together with the baby for new years and then a full week in Florida with the whole gang. The cool weather in Florida didn't dampen our spirits and we delighted in watching 9 month old Emma take her first dip in a swimming pool, as well as having a full week of baby time, snuggles and smiles. Baby proved to be an A-1 flyer despite being in 4 airports in 4 hours instead of 2. We were happily enjoyed a lovely dinner  and nighttime swims while Girl Child fell victim to the Polar Vortex and was held captive at the Toronto Airport, first on the runway, then in the baggage claims, where one could feel somewhat relieved that several plane loads luggage never came, not just yours.

Ybor City in Tampa proved to be a fabulous spot to get a feel of the Latin Quarter of Tampa, Even though a man made a hand gesture of a gun shooting at me, I enjoyed my visit there. A family walk at Lettuce Lake Park disappointed the alligator hunters of the group, the scenery was beautiful. A dead dolphin on the beach saddened us during our walk as the boys had kite boarding lessons.

Our Florida neighbors met our kids and grand baby, all of whom we love to show off. We're proud of our kids! A few dinners and drinks with neighbors have kept things lively between bike rides along Coffee Pot Bayou and walks around town.

Our hopes were dashed for a sale of a property we hoped to sell, and my plans for a sun room addition in Florida are on hold once again.

Still obsessed with the housing market in St. Petersburg and wish I had money to invest. I walk the neighborhood and love the historic old homes and gorgeous tropical gardens. Still great bargains for those wishing 260 days of sunshine a year.

2014 goals are simple.

paint the rooms in the house that have needed painting for 8 years.
save more
spend less
invite more people to visit us in Florida
see a couple of shows
walk more
bicycle more
take more photos
buy a kayak
knit something

pool at night

Henry Franics by fire


family love

Lettuce Lake Park, Tampa

Ybor City Tampa

Friday, November 29, 2013

Sno of Sweden Holiday Jewelry Sale

If you are looking for Christmas gifts, I have just added a TON of new stock to my Sno of Sweden jewelry online collection. Living very close to the Sno sales headquarters in Canada allows me to make frequent buying trips and hand select the items I wish to put in the shop. To make room for the new stock, I have marked down many items and am also offering an additional 10% off all orders. Every items comes in a sating drawstring bag, boxed and tied with pink stain ribbons. FREE SHIPPING in Canada and USA.  To see the whole Sno of Sweden collection click HERE. Use the coupon code HOLIDAY.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


I have searched a long time to find the right table for my front hallway. It proved to be quite elusive. I have tried no less than 8 tables since I've lived here. Some too small, some too large, wide, formal etc. I think I've found the right one at last. My house is tiny and the hallway quite dark and cramped. I bought this new, but old looking saw horse table, and it fits nicely into the space, still allowing just enough space for Sweet Mama's wheelchair to pass through. Smack in the middle of this wall is the door bell box and a light switch, making it impossible to hang most mirrors. I found this tall, skinny mirror in a second hand shop and it worked really well there. I balanced the space with a pair of photographic prints of Cuba and a pair of found antlers. Baskets are a must n this house to store boots and shoes, dog leashes, dog toys etc. These came from Home Sense and work well to contain the "stuff".  I have removed all the carpet on my stairs and, given I have an old cat and dog, I opted NOT to re-carpet or fork out for new wooden stairs, opting instead to sand the old builder grade stairs and paint them with White porch paint. It's looking much cleaner and fresher and the costs is $40.00 for the paint plus my time. 

Speaking of the house being small....the dining room is very narrow and with a large cabinet and table and chairs, it becomes a frustrating squish into the room when entertaining. We moved the cabinet to the other side and have pushed the table over to the right. The plan is to add banquette seating on the wall under the blackboard so 3 or 4 people can sit on that side, giving ample room to walk about the room. The bench design is in the works. I don't have a drawing yet, but it will be tufted and it will be PINK.

Monday, October 21, 2013

An Elephant on a stool

I went to the circus with my kids when they were little. Being so young and unaware of the real habitat of the gracious animals, they loved it. It almost brought me to tears. There is nothing sadder than an elephant sitting on a stool. I vowed that I would never take my children to see captive elephants EVER again. Or tigers, or whales.....the list goes on. My children gained NOTHING of importance from seeing those circus elephants, except perhaps in hindsight they will look back and regret seeing such beauty in such an awful circumstance.

I was born in Kenya. We saw elephants in the wild. Once we were travelling by car to Mombassa and there were elephant on the road. With lights out and fearful quiet, we waited until they passed, respectful and fearful of these powerful animals in the wild. 

I am proud to announce that Toronto no longer has elephants. That's right. The 3 remaining elephants from the Toronto Zoo left Toronto last Thursday for a 4200 KM journey on a flat bed truck to the PAWS sanctuary in California. After years of planning, debate and training the elephants to get in and out of the huge crates they would later be trucked in.

The convoy arrived yesterday evening safely in California, greeted by Bob Barker who funded their journey. They will spend the rest of their days freely roaming the 2500 acre sanctuary with other elephants. 

The controversy over captive elephants is not a new one and slowly elephants are being removed from the world's zoos and finding refuge in a sanctuary.  If you want to watch a documentary about freeing elephants there is a fabulous one HERE

I hope that elephants in zoos and circuses are going to be a thing of the past. While our children may not ever see a live elephant, they will grow up learning that these beautiful animals live in far away lands and be able to learn about them from video, not seeing them parade in a circus or zoo.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A King's Feast

Henry Francis on the mysterious King's Chair, Bronte Ontario

Henry Francis in his new Camo print harness.

It was Thanksgiving here in Canada yesterday. Best of all the kids were here, including those from Montreal with our sweet grand daughter Emma. What joy she brings the entire family. She's at the stage of Peek-a-boo and other little games that make her laugh.

We celebrated with Sweet Mamma, now recovered from her hospital emergency, and the rest of family over a feast of ham and turkey with all the trimmings. I've given up on cooking a whole turkey, instead I get a double turkey breast pre-stuffed from the butcher. So much easier than a whole bird. My sister also does ALL the veg and potatoes and brings them pre cooked and mashed and ready to heat up. I can't tell you how much easier this makes preparing a feast. I also farmed out desert so my work load was minimal. 

Frenchie, our Lab rescue has adjusted to the crazy puppy-ness of Henry Francis, who is such a sweet boy and this weekend hinted at liking the boisterous little King
We posed Henry Francis on the King's Chair-a chair mysteriously carved in the forest along the walking path.

I think we all felt like Kings and Queens this weekend with all the blessings we shared this Thanksgiving.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Adios Florida. Adios Raccoons.

On Central Ave. Pet portraits on wall

My Brother In Law built us these lovely shelves. 

The handle of my bag made with a Thai sash

The bag is made from a vintage textile...piece of a traditional baby carrier. From Etsy.

The light fixture was an anniversary (28 years) gift from the Raz Man. We call it the Maharaja's Lamp. Because of the proximity to the pool (and a cement block house) we had to mount it with no electrical. We plan to convert it with an LED light.

Add caption

We left Florida on Wednesday. Saying goodbye to our friends, house and garden is always a sad moment for me. I have come to love it so much there and count the days until we return. This time we battled raccoons swimming in the pool.  We caught the pack having a swim on our security camera. And they don't just swim in there. We had to close the pool twice for 24 hours, backwash it, super chlorinate it and change the filter ($85.00). We ended up hiring a critter control trapper and caught 2 babies who were relocated. For the next 8 days there was no sign of the rest of them. Raccoons carry parasites in their poop that is very dangerous. You can read the CDC info HERE on how serious this is. We also did a lot of research and discovered that a raccoon will not jump into water, they walk in. After 3 days of creative thinking we made a barrier for the steps that covers the entry. It easily snaps off and on for night time use. If you have a similar problem, email me and I will tell you how we made it. The Raccoon Blocker Net is pictured below.

We arrived home with 2 ours to spare before my Sweet Mamma had emergency surgery. Warned again by the doctors on how fragile she is, she once again sailed through it with no complications. One day I will tell the story of how we were told she was brain dead, only to have her come out of her coma and talk like the Queen. Thank God for the timing of the surgery. I would have hated not to be there for her.

Wishing you all a good weekend whether restful or adventurous.

Racoon Blocker Net

Attaches to pool deck to safety net anchors. Covered in double layered mesh to prevent potential poop dropping through. We secured the mesh with plastic grommets because we did not have a swing machine. You could also sew a mesh sleeve and slip it on.  Plastic coated metal grid (closet shelving) 15" wide covers the first and partially the second step and all of the first, so raccoons cannot step into the water.