Friday, March 24, 2017

My Favorite Watercolor Supplies and Tools Part 3: Brushes

As I've already shared, having good paper and paint is important when you're creating with watercolor. And, of course, so is having good brushes. The type of brush will depend on what sort of watercolor paintings you're creating. For my detailed botanicals, I need to have brushes that will keep a nice point and allow me to paint sharp, careful lines and tiny details.

watercolor, botanical watercolor, nature watercolor, acorns, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

One of the things that frustrated me when I was first learning how to paint was that not only did I not have enough control to paint careful, fine lines, but my brushes also weren't capable of painting them.

watercolor, painting, botanical painting, gingko leaves, tiny brushes, art supplies, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

Upgrading your brushes goes a long way towards helping you and your art improve.

Choosing brushes is not an easy task. There's a dizzying number and variety of types and brands. Different sizes. Different shapes. Different types of hair. It's hard to know where to start.

watercolor, watercolor brushes, paint brushes, brushes, art supplies, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

I buy almost all of my art supplies online and one thing that's been helpful to me is reading product reviews (though I do take them with a grain of salt -- it's amazing how two people can give completely opposite reviews of the same product, but it does happen).

The brushes I use most often are what are called "pointed round" watercolor brushes with short handles, but there are many different types for use with different techniques. You can find a good overview that explains the different shapes of brushes here.

watercolor, watercolor brushes, paint brushes, brushes, art supplies, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

Quite a few years ago I purchased a set of round brushes from Dick Blick. I chose the Blick Master Series synthetic brushes in part because these brushes have a lifetime guarantee. They were also reasonably priced.

art supplies, Dick Blick, Blick Master Synthetic Brushes, watercolor painting, watercolor brushes, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

I was happy with my first set of brushes and have slowly bought more, both smaller and larger than the brushes in that first set.

art supplies, Dick Blick, Blick Master Synthetic Brushes, watercolor painting, watercolor brushes, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

I've also tried a few of the Blick Master Kolinsky Sable Brushes in the smaller sizes, thinking that the natural fiber would give a better point.

In truth, I wasn't entirely happy with how those little brushes held their shapes. My original size 0 synthetic brush had become fuzzy, too. The brushes are guaranteed for life, and knowing I wanted to write a post about brushes, I finally stopped putting off contacting Dick Blick to get replacements. I worried that it would be difficult -- I'd had the brushes for years already -- but I was pleasantly surprised by how easy and quick it was. After providing the order numbers and item numbers of the problem brushes, I was emailed a FedEx return label and given tracking numbers for my replacement brushes. They arrived the next day.

art supplies, Dick Blick, Blick Master Synthetic Brushes, Blick Master Kolinsky Sable Brushes, watercolor painting, watercolor brushes, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

Choose whichever brushes most appeal to you and your working style and make sure that they're of high quality. Cheaper brushes can have all sorts of problems. Low quality brushes won't keep a nice point. The hairs might even fall out (my big mop brush, a Michaels brand brush, sheds hairs). The ferule (the metal part that attaches the hairs to the handle) might be wobbly (or it might fall off). With the cheapest brushes I've even had problems with the varnish flaking off the handles.

There are more subtle problems, too. Cheaper brushes might not be as good at absorbing water and paint or they might be too absorbent and not so good at releasing the water and paint onto the paper. If you're doing a lot of lifting of paint, a cheaper, softer brush might not be so effective at this.

If you paint a lot, you'll probably adjust your painting technique to make up for your brushes' failings, but if you're new at painting, low quality brushes will needlessly frustrate you. As your budget allows, try a variety and see what you like and don't like.

Although I've tried a few other brushes, I keep coming back to the Blick Master Synthetic (I have no affiliation with the company, I just like the brushes!).

Recently, I've tried some Princeton Velvetouch brushes with a couple different shapes.

watercolor, painting, art supplies, watercolor brushes, brushes, paint brushes, Princeton Velvetouch Brushes, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

I like how they perform (that tiny spotter is my smallest brush and paints a nice, sharp fine line) and they're very reasonably priced, too. I haven't tried any of their round brushes, but I like that they offer round brushes with both long and short tips.

No matter what brushes you choose, it's important to take good care of them so that they'll last as long as possible. Never leave them with the bristles down in a jar of water for any extended period. Wash them after each use (plain water is usually fine, but if they're very dirty you can use a little soap). Store them with the bristles pointed up.

watercolor, art supplies, paint brushes, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

I hope that these art supplies posts have been helpful to you. I'd love to know what other questions you might have or what topics you'd still like me to cover.

Have a wonderful weekend!

(P.S. Thanks for all the birthday wishes! I had a perfect day.)

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Annie Glacken -- a Sketchbook Conversation

I wasn't sure I was going to have a Sketchbook Conversation today. It's is my birthday and I considered giving the series a week off. When I mentioned that to Annie Glacken, whose Sketchbook Conversation was next in line for this week, she told me that her birthday is tomorrow. I figured we'd celebrate together by chatting about sketchbooks. Here is Annie's story:


Why Do I Keep A Sketchbook Journal?

Many of us are living such extremely busy lives that we don’t notice the everyday gifts we receive from our Creator. What are these gifts? Some that come to mind are a child’s smile, a beautiful sunrise, a flower, a butterfly, or maybe a sentimental item. Taking the time to sketch or paint these gifts is like unwrapping them. It forces me to slow down and pay attention. I begin to notice and remember so much more than if I merely took a photograph.

Annie Glacken, watercolors, watercolor sketchbook, sketchbook journals, Sketchbook Conversations, My Giant Strawberry

As I record these in my journal I am creating a treasured keepsake to pass down to my children and grandchildren.



Annie Glacken, watercolors, watercolor sketchbook, sketchbook journals, Sketchbook Conversations, My Giant Strawberry

I am a watercolor artist and teacher by profession but I began keeping a sketchbook journal about four years ago as a way to take a break from “serious painting” and just play. When I am working in my sketchbook, I don’t place the same expectations on myself with regard to all of the “art rules.” I merely record the moment in ink and then splash on some color.

Annie Glacken, watercolors, watercolor sketchbook, sketchbook journals, Sketchbook Conversations, My Giant Strawberry

As far as materials, I prefer using artist grade watercolors such as Daniel Smith or M. Graham which I put into a Heritage Folding Palette by Alvin. The brushes I use when in the field are the Jack Richeson Travel Brushes. They come in a very compact leather pouch. My favorite pen is the Pilot Metropolitan Fine Nib. I have two of them: one is black and the other is a bronze color. I use the black pen to hold gray ink and the bronze pen to hold brown ink. That way I can tell at a glance which pen to pick up. I prefer DeAtramentis Document Brown ink for sketching landscapes and the Noodler’s Lexington Gray ink for everything else. You can find the pen and the ink at Goulet Pens.


Annie Glacken, watercolors, watercolor sketchbook, sketchbook journals, Sketchbook Conversations, My Giant Strawberry

The photos below are from a historical journal that I am working on.

Annie Glacken, watercolors, watercolor sketchbook, sketchbook journals, Sketchbook Conversations, My Giant Strawberry

Annie Glacken, watercolors, watercolor sketchbook, sketchbook journals, Sketchbook Conversations, My Giant Strawberry

I have found that I prefer to make my own sketchbook journals because I can customize them to the paper type and size I prefer. Plus it makes your journal just that more special when you made it yourself. Below are two journals I made. For the journal on top, I used the Longstitch method and for the journal on the bottom, I used the Coptic stitch.


Annie Glacken, watercolors, watercolor sketchbook, sketchbook journals, hand bound books, Sketchbook Conversations, My Giant Strawberry

My advice to newbies to sketchbook journaling is to just sketch, sketch, and sketch some more. This is the best way to strengthen your skills. Don’t be sidetracked by your inner critic.  Just let it be a time to experiment and play. 


Happy journaling!



Thank you, Annie, for sharing your story with us today! (And happy birthday a day early!).



Dear readers, you can see more of Annie's art and more of her sketchbook journaling tips on her blog: https://www.annieglacken.com

You can also follow her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/AnnieGlackenWatercolors

And take a look at her second website: https://www.annieglackenwatercolors.com



*Photos in this post © Annie Glacken. Used with permission.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Looking for Joy -- Joy List Monday

It's Monday, again.

And it sure feels like it.

We all have days like this, when the joy gets eclipsed by everything else that isn't joy. Nothing big. Nothing important. Little things that are irritating. Or annoying. Or frustrating.

But the joy and beauty are still here.

The other day I read something that was a good reminder of this. I don't remember where I read it, but it went something like this: even on cloudy days the sun is still shining -- we just can't see it because the clouds are in the way.

Although we don't have any control over the literal clouds in the sky, we can control our reactions and perceptions. When all the other stuff clouds our view of life's beauty and joy we can pause and look for the beauty and joy.

Orchids, cats, Studio, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

I started Joy List Monday for just this reason. Some weeks I don't need it as much as others.

This is one of the others.

Joy List Monday: 

a weekly ritual
a reminder to stop and pay attention to the little beauties and graces that make life magical and to set aside time for gratitude each day

Won't you join me?

  • Stopping to watch a robin in the birch tree in the back yard and taking time to listen to his singing
  • A fun outing with my parents
  • Getting my studio organized
  • Seeing more of the photos from the Handmade Joy Exchange
  • Lying on the sofa covered with cats 
  • Working on my first assignment for MATS Assignment Bootcamp
  • Homemade pizza (made for me by my sweetie)
  • The first day of spring
  • Noticing pansy flowers emerging from the melting snow
  • My birthday coming this week (and plans for taking the day off)
I hope your week is filled with joy.

watercolor, watercolor palette, color, paint swatches, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

Friday, March 17, 2017

My Favorite Watercolor Supplies and Tools Part 2: Paper

I'm back sharing more of my favorite watercolor supplies, this time talking about paper.

I think paper might be even more important than paint when it comes to painting with watercolor. High quality paper makes a huge difference. Watercolor paint needs to flow across the paper while also staying in just the areas where the paper is wet. The paint needs to absorb evenly into the paper. With the wrong paper the paint might pool in one area or spread unevenly. The edges might bleed. Lower quality paper won't be able to withstand water, layering and lifting of paint that are all part of working with watercolor. Some papers will start to disintegrate or crumble (I've also heard it described as "linting"). They'll buckle. All of those things will ruin your painting and they'll also needlessly frustrate you.

Good watercolor paper is expensive and I know how hard it is to feel that you're wasting something that costs so much (again, I believe the only wasted supplies are those that sit unused). One way around this is to cut larger sheets into small pieces and use those to practice. (Sketchbooks are another alternative -- so far I haven't found a watercolor sketchbook that I like as much as my favorite papers, but I'm still looking). During my month of finishing a painting every day, I worked mostly on scraps (and pieces that I cut purposely to be small), some of which were only 2 inches wide. 5" x 7" or 4" x 6" are great sizes to work with.

There are MANY types and brands of watercolor paper and just like paint, paper is available in professional/artist or student grade (and there is a spectrum within each designation).

The main types of paper are cold pressed, hot pressed and rough. Cold pressed has more tooth than hot pressed, which is very smooth. Rough has the most texture (I won't be discussing it here because I haven't used it myself). Watercolor paper is measured by weight. I like to use 140 lb paper. Less heavy papers don't stand up as well. The highest quality papers are made from 100% cotton fibers.

You can purchase papers as single sheets, in pads (bound on one side) or blocks (bound on four sides).  Test a variety to see what you like and don't like.

watercolor paper, watercolor blocks, art supplies, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

 I prefer working with blocks of paper.

A watercolor block helps keep your paper flat so you don't need to stretch and tape it down before painting. Unless you're using a lot of water and saturating the paper, it remains fairly flat once removed from the block.

Because the paper is bound on all four sides, a watercolor block helps keep your paper flat. You don't need to stretch and tape it down before painting. Unless you're using a lot of water and saturating the paper, it remains fairly flat once removed from the block.

Probably my favorite paper to work with is Arches Cold Pressed, 140 lb watercolor paper  (the video on their website cracked me up, but it was interesting to see the paper being made).

watercolor, art supplies, painting supplies, Arches watercolor paper, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

This paper has a definite tooth to it, is very durable and is easy to work with.

botanical watercolor, botanical painting, watercolor painting, cold pressed paper, Arches watercolor paper, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

(The beautiful design of the block's cover is often visible in my process photos as seen in this painting of coneflowers from last summer).

One thing that I've noticed is that the texture and color of watercolor varies a lot between brands. Here are a couple examples of cold pressed watercolor papers:

watercolor paper, art supplies, cold pressed watercolor paper, paper, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

Arches is the rougher of the two in this photograph.

I find that the texture of cold pressed paper is useful when painting botanicals. The paint naturally reacts with the paper to give your work an added organic element.

Another paper I just started using is L'Aquarelle Canson Heritage (although I haven't listened to the sound of the paper like the artist in their video, the feel of the sheets in my hands is truly lovely, especially the hot pressed). I've tried both the cold and hot pressed paper and so far I'm really enjoying them. One of the things that I noticed is that pencil lines erase much more easily than with Arches. I don't yet have a lot of experience with it, but so far, so good. The orchid wreath I painted in January was done on the cold pressed paper:

watercolor, botanical watercolor, L'Aquarelle Canson Heritage Cold Pressed Watercolor Paper, Orchids, watercolor orchid, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

A much cheaper alternative to both of these higher-end papers is the cold pressed watercolor paper from the Strathmore 400 Series (it also comes as a block). It's considered an "intermediate" level paper. I haven't painted with it for a while, but I used it a lot when I was starting out. It's a great choice for practice (and even for finished paintings) and won't leave you frustrated by poor performance.

Hot pressed watercolor paper is much smoother than cold pressed, though, again, the texture varies from brand to brand.

watercolor paper, art supplies, hot pressed watercolor paper, paper, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

The smoothest I've used is the Sennelier paper. I used it to paint this marigold painting.

botanical watercolor, botanical painting, watercolor painting, hot pressed paper, Sennelier paper, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

The color seemed especially intense with this paper and I liked working with it.

I'm fairly new to hot pressed paper, so it's hard for me to give a good assessment of the different brands.

If you're used to cold pressed paper, it can take a while to figure out hot pressed. Water and paint don't react with it in the same way as they do cold pressed. With some papers it seems as if the paint and water don't want to absorb as readily. Others seem to absorb too fast. I've also found that the color tends to spread across the paper evenly evenly, giving you a more uniform color distribution. If you want a gradation, you might need to work with the paint a bit more than you're used to doing with cold pressed paper.

The smoothness of hot pressed paper, once you're used to working with it, can be lovely. (It makes scanning and digitizing your art a lot quicker, too, something that I'll be sharing in my next Skillshare class -- look for it to come out soon).

The only real way to know what will work best for you is to play with different types of paper. And don't just try a paper once and write it off. It might take a few (or more) tries to get the hang of it. Keep an open mind and see what happens. Have fun and remember that the only way to learn how to paint is by painting.

Let me know how it goes and if you have any questions you'd like me to answer, please leave them in the comments or contact me here.

Next week I'll be back talking about brushes.

Have a joy-filled and creative weekend (today it feels like spring here! The sun is shining and our snow is melting!).




Each of the paintings I shared in this post is available to purchase from my website. You can find them by following the links above or visiting my shop here.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Lauren Kelly -- a Sketchbook Conversation

Today's Sketchbook Conversation is with Lauren Kelly:

My name is Lauren. I am the illustrator, designer and maker of Thistle and Fox fabrics, home decor and fashion accessories. All the prints and patterns available on fabrics, paper and products in the Thistle and Fox shop are illustrated by me using pencil, watercolor and digital painting. 

Lauren Kelly, Thistle and Fox, Sketchbook Conversations, My Giant Strawberry

I've been drawing since I was a very young child. And having always had a love for animals (the result of a childhood living on a farm) they have been featuring in my work for as long as I can remember. I grew up in the Orara Valley, NSW Australia. I live here now, though I've moved around quite alot in recent years I always come back to this place. 

Lauren Kelly, Thistle and Fox, Studio, Artist Studio, Sketchbook Conversations, My Giant Strawberry
Lauren Kelly, Thistle and Fox, Studio, Artist Studio, Sketchbook Conversations, My Giant Strawberry

I'm now settled in my own studio space, which is the main room of my 1 bedroom cottage that my parents and I recently finished building on their land, overlooking a beautiful creek, farms and the rainforest that feeds my imagination. 


Lauren Kelly, Thistle and Fox, Sketchbook Conversations, My Giant Strawberry

So why do I keep a sketchbook? Sometimes its the only thing that stops my head exploding with all the images that just keep piling up in there.


Lauren Kelly, Thistle and Fox, Sketchbook Conversations, My Giant Strawberry

To be honest, I sketch less often these days than I used to as I'm usually working on a few projects simultaneously with limited time I tend to now put my ideas straight into a digital canvas and start working on the finished idea. 


Lauren Kelly, Thistle and Fox, Sketchbook Conversations, My Giant Strawberry

Even if I just jot it down with a few scribbled lines and save it for later, its better to get it out of my head for a bit of 'breathing space' before I can think what to do next. The sketch will be very rough to start with but after a few hours of painting and layering photos and textures, it will have transformed into something resembling the idea that sketched itself inside my head while I was driving to work, assisting in surgery (not a convenient moment to start sketching) or while I'm busy with the dreaded housework. Yes, I live a double life... or triple life as an illustrator, fabric designer and vet nurse. 


Lauren Kelly, Thistle and Fox, Sketchbook Conversations, My Giant Strawberry

Occasionally ideas will come to me just before I go to bed so I keep a tiny notebook where I scribble a few words and very basic diagram sketches to plan out how I'll go about making something or what I need to research to get a project going. Lately though, with my bedtime stretching out to midnight and beyond by the time I get to bed my head will have finished buzzing with ideas so I've been taking my sketchbook to work with me instead. During the day, if there's a quiet moment between phone calls and vaccinating animals I'll be scribbling down all the mess in my head, trying to make sense of my constant thoughts of creative possibilities. 

Lauren Kelly, Thistle and Fox, Sketchbook Conversations, My Giant Strawberry

I feel I'm motivated by a very demanding personal need to be constantly creative... I don't necessarily need to finish every project I've started (apart from the paid projects of course) but I do need to keep my hands busy and part of my brain seems to always be designing... even if my hands don't have the skills yet to achieve something. For example, I'm not a wood worker by any means but I've had this idea stuck in my mind for ages of sculpting a series of ethereal heads & faces out of beautiful timber, smoothing off some of the rough edges but keeping some of the bark and moss.... how I would do this I have no idea...and it would make more sense for me to express the idea using a medium I actually have access to (paint for one!) Perhaps one day.


Lauren Kelly, Thistle and Fox, Sketchbook Conversations, My Giant Strawberry

If you were to take a good look inside my craft storage cabinet you would find just about everything you need to do almost any art/craft activity. I am prepared with a lifetime of collected craft supplies and a growing variety of tools. Aside from the twenty or so boxes of fabric, there are lino cutting tools, acrylic paint, polymer sculpting clay, yarn, cotton cord, ribbon, stacks of card stock and handmade envelopes, jewelry findings, paper flowers and just about every possible thing you would ever need to start a sewing workshop. Perhaps I should start holding art & craft classes here in my 'free time' ha! 

Lauren Kelly, Thistle and Fox, Studio, Artist Studio, Sketchbook Conversations, My Giant Strawberry

Lauren Kelly, Thistle and Fox, Sketchbook Conversations, My Giant Strawberry

I've been asked a few times by budding creatives whether I have any advice for how to get started in a creative career... well, I actually don't feel that I qualify to give this kind of advice. Creativity is my life but its not how I pay the rent. I've worked as a part time vet nurse since I finished my education in Equine Science... yep, not really what you thought I would have studied right? Well that's another story. I was a horse mad girl but after a stopped bouncing when I had riding accidents and instead started smashing myself into pieces every time I went near a horse I had to rethink my 'career' path a bit. You never know what life will throw at you My day job is full of very practical tasks, formulas, facts, science and every afternoon when I get home my creative brain takes over and I'll be drawing, designing, sewing and making things until my eyes tell me its time to sleep. 


Lauren Kelly, Thistle and Fox, Sketchbook Conversations, My Giant Strawberry

So I guess my 'advice' is follow your passions. 


Lauren Kelly, Thistle and Fox, Sketchbook Conversations, My Giant Strawberry

Don't be afraid to try something new which may take your creativity somewhere you never thought it could go.


Lauren Kelly, Thistle and Fox, Sketchbook Conversations, My Giant Strawberry

Be yourself. Learning from other creatives by studying their technique is a great way to learn (with so many video tutorials and online classes these days its so easy to access the talent of creative professionals!) but don't copy. The reason people employ creatives is because they are DIFFERENT and have their own special style or skill to offer. Embrace what makes you different from others and practice! 

Lauren Kelly, Thistle and Fox, Sketchbook Conversations, My Giant Strawberry

Keep practicing. You'll always be learning, improving your craft, skill, or speed at drawing, which can be extremely useful and brings me to my next bit of advice... 

It's very common for artists and creatives to under value their work and their time. Please don't do this. I know its difficult when you start out...it may take 50 hours of drawing to finish an illustration you were paid $500 for. While you might love drawing in your 'free time', your time is more valuable than $10/hr. Business sense, particularly how to price artistic work is not something that most creatives feel comfortable with (I know I don't!) yet speaking from years of experience you need to get serious about pricing your work appropriately to work to your benefit. I'm still working on this myself...

Lauren Kelly, Thistle and Fox, Sketchbook Conversations, My Giant Strawberry

The fact that I'm still awake at 1am working on my illustrations when I need to be at work tomorrow morning is evidence of a work-life balance that isn't working as well as it should!


Lauren Kelly, Thistle and Fox, Sketchbook Conversations, My Giant Strawberry

Thank you, Lauren, for sharing your story with us today!

Dear readers, you can find more of Lauren's work:
on Instagram: @thistleandfox 
*Photos in this post © Lauren Kelly. Used with permission.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Joy List Monday

We had a snowstorm overnight. About five inches and it's still snowing a bit. Before this all the old snow had melted. We had rain and thunderstorms last week. I'd been spying the greenery of tulips and daffodils starting to peek out of the ground. But this is March (in Wisconsin) and snow isn't unexpected.

amaryllis, striped amaryllis, flowers, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

Inside, though, I have flowers blooming. More and more each day. I think I'll have to get going mixing up some paint to capture them on paper. I have a vision in my head of my next painting.

orchids, moth orchids, phalaenopsis, peach orchids, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

Diving into a project, especially a joyful project, helps shoo away my Monday morning crankiness. Lighting a fragrant candle and plugging in my twinkle lights help, too.

orchids, moth orchids, phalaenopsis, yellow orchids, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

And in case you need a little extra boost for your Monday morning, I thought I'd share some joyful, inspiring and fun things that I've come across recently:

  • This little video snippet from the Possibilitarian Podcast mentions how the beauty of nature can help anchor us to the present moment and it also shares how the (untrue) stories that we tell ourselves, that create the rules that we follow, don't need to hold us back. I'm not sure about you, but I'm constantly confronting these untrue stories and challenging these "rules". 
  • Have you seen the newest issue of Blossom Magazine? I haven't yet taken the time to read through the whole thing, but what I've perused so far is as gorgeous and inspiring as the other issues. Not familiar with Blossom Magazine? It's a publication by Amy Butler with this mantra: "Create Love, Be Kind, Express Beauty".
  • Kayla Haupt, part of the mother-daughter team I interviewed earlier this month just published a post on the Willow and Sage website sharing instructions and recipes for all natural make-up. Truly lovely.
  • And speaking of artist interviews... the lovely Lisa Estabrook (whom I interviewed in February) is clearing out the last of her 2017 Journal/Calendars by giving them away when you purchase her gorgeous Plant Spirit Oracle Deck. Simply put both a Journal/Calendar and an Oracle Deck into your cart and use the code: FREEJOURNAL at checkout. I just received my order and both are so lovely. I'm planning on using her oracle cards in my morning meditation and journaling practice (something that is so easy for me to skip, but which I'm determined to re-embrace). The calendar/journal is the perfect size to slip in my purse (me not being a digital calendar sort of gal).
  • Last Friday was the 20th anniversary of the airing of the first episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Yes, I admit, I love Buffy, though I never watched the show when it was on air (I made fun of it, actually, thinking it was cheesy and fluffy -- which it is not). Strong women, good vs. evil, word play, vampires... what's not to love?
  • At some point in the last few months I noticed frozen Gino's East pizzas in the grocery. Pizza is one of my favorite foods, and although both Matthias and I love to make our own, it's nice to have a tasty option that doesn't take much effort. Being able to get a Chicago style deep dish pizza here in rural Wisconsin (that I don't have to make myself) is a bit of a dream come true.


What have you discovered lately?

greyhounds, rescued greyhounds, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

Now, in case you're still feeling like curling up with quilts and pillows*, how about a Joy List?

orchids, moth orchids, phalaenopsis, white orchids, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry


Joy List Monday: 

a weekly ritual
a reminder to stop and pay attention to the little beauties and graces that make life magical and to set aside time for gratitude each day


orchids, moth orchids, phalaenopsis, yellow orchids, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry


My list:
  • Getting a big (and exciting) painting commission finished and mailed out
  • Receiving the photos of the handmade joy being created for the Handmade Joy Exchange and imagining all the packages that are beginning to travel the globe
  • Cheese
  • More and more orchid flowers opening on the plants in my studio
  • Our vet and all the people who work in her office -- they're caring and skilled and we trust them (which sadly wasn't the case with one we had in Cleveland)
  • Kindred spirits
  • Trying new recipes, even when they don't quite work out the way I hoped they would (like this one, which when made for me I really liked, but when I made it didn't turn out quite right...)
  • Kitty snuggles, kitty antics, kitties shadowing everything I do (yes, I'm completely smitten)
  • Knowing that spring is just around the corner
  • Taking the time for a quick road trip with my sweetie which mostly involved lots of food
  • Farkle
  • Listening to the audiobook version of this book and reading about E. B. White in this children's biography of him

What's on your Joy List today?

Anne Butera, cats, black and white cats, adopt don't shop, My Giant Strawberry




*Since we brought the cats home, Jude has been sneaking up to snuggle on the love seat in the living room. We know that the dogs get up on the furniture when we're not home, but they don't usually do it when we are. Somehow I just can't shoo him down.