Raccoons in a tree

I’ve had a nice piece of tree bark in my craft cupboard for a couple of years now, so I decided to finally do something worthwhile with it. I had originally shellacked it to protect the bark.

I’d been tossing around the idea in my mind of painting it to look like a couple of raccoons were looking out of a hole in a tree, so had to figure out a way of making a circle in the center that would be smooth enough for painting.

With hopes that I wouldn’t make a mistake and destroy the entire, delicate piece of bark, I jumped in with both feet and used a heavy-duty retractable utility knife to carve the outline of a circle, then gently picked away at pieces of bark in the circle to clear it back to the rough wood. Then I used some sandpaper to gently sand inside the circle until it was about as smooth as I could get it without rubbing right through.

Next, I used fine black marker to sketch a rough outline of the raccoons in the circle. If I do this again, I’ll use a dark lead pencil instead, because the marker outline was hard to eliminate, even after painting over it a few times. The marker lines kept reappearing right through the paint. Live and learn.

Once I had my outline, I painted the black background, then just started painting the raccoons with a combination of black, dark and light grey, tan grey, and cream coloured acrylic paints. While I worked, I was paranoid that I was going to mess it up somehow and would then have to scrap the whole thing, but it ended up turning out ok. Not perfect, but good enough for my skill level.

The main thing here—it’s always exciting to embark on a new challenge and watch it take shape. I’ve dabbled in art on and off throughout my life, so I’m nowhere near being professional at it, but I’m finding that the more I do it, the more I learn. And the more I learn, the more I love doing it.

Going outside of your comfort zone is almost always a good thing, and it’s truly the best way to learn. I move out of my comfort zone every time I start a new art project, because I never know if it’s going to turn out, and it’s always in the back of my mind that I may be wasting my time (maybe that’s a confidence thing?). But it’s never been a waste of time. I always learn something from the experience. And 99% of the time, it works out!

So here’s a challenge for you: think of something you’ve never done before, and make the decision to take a chance… move outside your comfort zone by trying to do it.

You’ve got nothing to lose because I guarantee that you’ll learn some valuable new lessons. And even better, taking that step might just start you on a whole new path!


Otis could use a margarita…

Otis relaxes in his basket by the window, wearing his Mexican sombrero as he dreams of white sand beaches and tequila shots.
Happy Sunday!

Hmmm… What to do with some plain old rocks?

Why not turn them into colourful owls!
First, I drew a pencil outline on each rock.
Next, I used acrylic paints to fill in my outlines.
Then I outlined everything in fineline black marker.
Next, I used my paints and a fine brush to fill in each area with doodles and dabs.
Once the paint dried, I sprayed each rock with a matte preservative.
Now, what to do with those painted rocks?
Really, you can put them anywhere—on a table, in a garden, etc.
I decided to frame mine.

Since the owls themselves are so “busy,” I decided that the background should be plain.
I painted a black tree silhouette on a plain white canvas.
Once dried, I used heavy-duty construction glue to glue each owl in place on the canvas.
Again, to keep the focus on the owls, I used a plain black frame to box them in. And there you have it. Instant art from rocks picked up on the Lake Ontario shoreline.
As always, my little partner in crime hung out with me to “help.”

Your Purpose

I’ve long wondered about the force that drives my passion to write. I can’t recall a time in my life when I haven’t had the concept of a story brewing in my mind. Am I destined someday to write a narrative that will touch others? …that might inspire one soul to take a different path? Could my words help influence a decision? …offer a bit of cheer in a life that needs brightening?

I believe that each and every one of us were assigned special gifts—gifts that make us as individual as our fingerprints. Some of us have yet to realize our signature abilities, but they do exist, nestled deep in wait until the time is right for them to surface.

There are those who are verbally gifted. A kind word to someone in need, an inspirational anecdote to raise the spirits, the comfortable chatter that binds a friendship.

Some are blessed with a keen ability to listen. There is no better salve for a troubled heart than the undivided attention of a good listener who truly cares.

Some are gifted jesters. A hearty dose of laughter fertilizes the seeds of lightness and healing to help them take root in the soul and flourish.

Then there are those who, with a swipe of brush across canvas, create wondrous visuals to remind us that beauty exists in the simplest of things…it’s all around us, all the time—there to be seen with open eyes and minds.

And there are those blessed with musical gifts. They have the power to mist our eyes with tears and our souls with joy, simply by unleashing their acoustic ingenuity.

But not every person’s gifts are so clearly defined.

The healing touch a parent uses to soothe a child.

The love that seasons a meal prepared to bring others together.

The smile that lights up a city block.

Every life on earth has meaning. And every living creature has been designed with a master plan.

I believe that our special abilities are tools we’ve been given so we can add a bit of magic to this world and help make it a better place.

So share your gifts and feel your purpose. If you can positively influence even one soul in this lifetime, whether or not you realize it, you will have made a difference.

This gives new meaning to the term “Smart Ass”

My inventive but batshit crazy friend, who I’ll just call “S”, shares with me a love of making crafty stuff… but as you’ll see below, she has taken repurposing clothing to a whole new level.

Here’s a picture of her wearing her new homemade mask.

I’m just hoping she salvaged it from clean laundry.


Happy Easter from Otis the Ragdoll Cat

Hello everyone… although I am writing to wish you all a Happy Easter, I am not so very happy right now.

Not after my mother-person tried to force me to wear a dumb pair of bunny ears that she made. Honestly, how incredibly insulting is that to a handsome creature such as myself?Of course, I refused to wear them, making sure to kick and shake my head so that they would not stay put.
Eventually, my mother-person gave up and let them just rest on the floor. I glared at them, thinking that I might like to rip them to shreds.
And what’s with that dumb stuffed bunny she put behind me? Sometimes, she just drives me crazy. But I do love her anyway.


The cat isn’t going to like this one!

I used a ball of Bernat Pop! yarn in a vibrant pink and grey striping to make some basic 12” x 12” granny squares (you can find granny square patterns in the hundreds online). I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with them, but I usually make things up as I go along.

After completing four squares, I had the idea that they would be perfect to turn into an “Animal Lovey Blanket” for a child, so I seamed them together into one large square.

Then I used the grey portion of the yarn to make a mouse head. Basically, I just crocheted rounds of sc (starting with ch 4; sl st to first ch to close; sc in each ch around, sc/2 sc alternating around, etc.) that were narrow at the beginning, then increased as I went along to make a conical shape, as you can see in the pictures. Then after completing her face, I stuffed the head with Polyfil, then crocheted the back closed. (You’ll notice in the photo that there’s a pink spot on her forehead. There was a flaw in the yarn, so I’m just calling that her “birthmark”!)

For the ears, I crocheted two rounds of dc, then sewed each to the top of the head. For the face, I used black yarn to sew on her nose and eyes.

Last, I sewed the bottom of the head to the center of the blanket.

Voila! You have the Miss Mouse lovey blanket.

Repurpose your hoodie

Add a device pocket to your hoodie

I discovered another old cross-stitch project that I’d finished and tossed into a storage bin years ago, so I thought I’d put it to good use.

I turned it into a device pocket for my favourite hoodie, so now I can carry my Kobo eReader around in it… if I can ever go out again in the near future 🙂

Carrying around an eReader with a good book on it can be a blessing when you’re stuck in a lineup or sitting in a waiting room… which I hope to be doing again someday…

Well, I’ll be prepared just in case, anyway.

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