Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy New Year To One and All


It's incredible that another year has already passed and we're about to embark on a new one. The fairy lights are lit up outside as the the sun finally nestles itself behind the foothills. As I sit here with my feet propped up, the smell of buttered toast lingers in the air while I sip from my creamy latte. Mr. Toast is now home and we're cozied up for the night to begin welcoming in the new year.

There are so many things to be thankful for and I'm looking forward to the new journey ahead in 2016. With that said, here's wishing you a wonderful new year, filled with peace, love and joy. Happy New Year!
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Monday, December 28, 2015

Something special lingering in the air


The sun has almost set here in our nestled town. Although the holiday festivities have ended, our colored fairy lights continue to glow from under the beautiful, glistening snow. In a way, it still feels like Christmas at our home. In our living room, you'll find paper chains and bunting dangling up above while our table-top Christmas tree glows next to the sofa. Something special always seems to linger in the air for awhile during this time of year.

Every holiday season, my heart swells up with various emotions. Christmas doesn't reside there just because I thoroughly love it. It also exists because that special feeling gently reminds me of the blessing of where I am today. Coming from a tragic childhood, it sometimes seems all too surreal to be sitting in the comfort of a lovely home with an amazing husband and wonderful children by my side.

This time of year seems fitting to reflect back upon life and take note of every blessing we've been given. Too often, we find ourselves stumbling down a path of wanting more when so many around us have less...and need more. This year, my heart not only ruminated about all the events of 2015 and how blessed I am but it also brought to mind a bit of sadness. Such as really missing my father this particular Christmastime; my younger brother once again on the streets and homeless in San Jose; our sweet neighbor and her daughters going through a challenging time in their lives, my step-daughter hoping to have a precious baby, and so forth.

As the year comes to a close, let us remember, life is too short to take for granted those we love and what we've been given. My hope for the new year is to be a bigger blessing to those around me, near and far, through my art and blogging.

With that lingering feeling in the air, challenging us to look at our lives and how to do better, may I ask each of you one thing? How do you hope to touch the world next year?
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Saturday, December 26, 2015

Wishing A Happy Christmas To All...


Good morning and Happy Christmas to everyone. May this holiday season touch your hearts in a special way. Mr. Toast and I will be celebrating with the children this afternoon with a lovely holiday lunch followed by opening pressies. We're all looking forward to the festivities. On top of that, we're expecting another sprinkling of snow!

Enjoy this quick illustration of the outside of our cozy home and our adorable Scottie, playing with his new stuffed snowman...err..what's left of it already! Hee

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year! xx
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Saturday, December 19, 2015

Sunday Sketches: Happy Christmas to Everyone!


It was so lovely and appropriate to end this weekend with sharing one of my recently illustrated children's books, Mia's Magical Christmas Eve at one of our local downtown bookstores. The children were wonderful and had fun helping me sketch the red bags and pressies around Mia's Christmas tree. Hayden, pictured above, was such a doll and eager to help me draw!

As you can see above, I've added yet another piece to my ongoing polar bear series. I've been in love with these little guys from the very beginning. If you've yet to see them all, you can visit my website for the special page I've set up for these fellas. If you're really loving them, you can visit my shop for originals and/or printed cards. :)

With that said, I must part for now as our oven is still in need of a full scrub so we can begin baking and making all of the delicious English goodies for our annual Christmas party at our home tomorrow evening. Michael and I will be sure to post photos, so you can feel like you've been a part of our wonderful, holiday festivities. From homemade mulled wine to authentic English scones and shortbread, everyone is sure to have a good time.

Until then, HAPPY CHRISTMAS! Enjoy the holidays and we'll resume on Sunday, January 3rd to not only ring in the new year but to celebrate 6 years of Sunday Sketches!

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Sunday, December 13, 2015

Sunday Sketches: Dream A Little Dream With Me..


It's been a lovely, snowy holiday weekend thus far. Between the freshly fallen snow, Christmas lights, my first holiday children's story-time at one of our favorite local bakeshops, it's been utterly cozy and magical! To add that final touch to our Saturday, I painted the darling polar bear looking up into the sky and dreaming. Once again, it really brings home so many of the reasons why I love this time of year.

Most of my [good] memories as a little girl are during Christmastime. I was just telling Michael today how I would pretend to fall asleep on my grandparent's sofa while visiting them, just so my parents would leave me there for the night. My favorite part of all was waking up in the wee hours of the morning, lying there watching the giant colored lights glisten in the dark. One of the many memories I'll cherish for life.

I feel like a lucky girl and blessed to have a husband in my life who loves Christmas just as much as I do. From our little drives at night to look at the area homes decked out in lights with a hot cocoa in hand to decorating our own home in beautiful lights (2nd photo above) - nothing could be more perfect.

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Saturday, December 12, 2015

Ringing in the Holidays With LOVE


We're finally settling in for the Christmas season here in our cozy little home. It all began last weekend with our annual family trip to the cabin with the kids. After traveling down to town on Saturday to pick out our family ornaments (See top picture), we spent the afternoon cooking and baking together. Nothing could have been more perfect than being cozied up in the mountains in a comfy cabin, celebrating family, life...and Christmas.

Now, the family tree is up and Mr. Toast has adorned the outside of our home with the perfect colored fairy lights. It's going to be incredibly magical when we receive the next Colorado snowfall. My heart is blessed beyond measure to have such wonderful things in my life. Happy Holidays, my lovely peeps!

What do you do to celebrate the holiday season? Any special family traditions you hold to each year?
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Monday, December 07, 2015

Sunday Sketches: 12 Days of Christmas


This is short as we're away with the kids in the mountains on our annual trip to the cabin for Christmas. Enjoy a part of my 12 Days of Christmas and I'll check in soon.

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Saturday, November 28, 2015

Sunday Sketches: Having a child-like faith


Thanksgiving has passed and in just a few days, the Christmas season will officially begin. Growing up, my family always put up the tree and decorated it every Thanksgiving. My mother was a fan of those once popular silver icicle tinsel and covered our tree head to toe with them! My younger brother loved his little ceramic snowman ornament adorned with a knitted red/blue hat. For me, I simply loved to sit on the floor in the dark watching the colored lights sparkle and reflecting off the frosted windows. Being a little girl seems like ages ago...yet, I've never lost my child-like heart for Christmas.

In fact, I've always felt it important to hold on to our child-like faith, no matter how old we are. That faith will not only bring us hope through some of the most challenging times in life, but it will also bring us joy at all the right moments as well. With that said, my heart has felt that little girl's faith welling up inside me, directing me towards doing a polar bear series, capturing a simple child-like wonder in each. These two darling bears are the beginning and I'm simply in love with them.

How about you?  What does having a child-like faith mean to you? I'd love to know. Happy SS!

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Saturday, November 21, 2015

https://www.facebook.com/bluechairdiaryillustrations/photos/a.390193061055250.91043.256163354458222/955413287866555/?type=3&theater

As the sun begins to set, we grab our hot water bottles and tuck ourselves in on our comfy sofa. We're finally getting back into a normal groove, including being on somewhat of a regular sleeping schedule. Sadly, it's been a little more challenging getting a hold of my creative mojo after being away from the studio for almost two weeks.  However, I did manage to create this beautiful tribute piece for the recent Paris tragedy while also completing the darling holiday penguin in which I started last year! Oh dear me. :)

With the fourth children's book wrapped up and launching next week, there's now some time to relax and enjoy the rest of this year with my husband and our family. In fact, Mr. Toast and I will be celebrating our wedding anniversary next month and a few days later, we'll be off to the mountains for our annual Christmas in the Cabin with the children.

Stay tuned over the next several weeks as I'll be making some special announcements of the new projects I'll be diving into next year, including a children's book Mr. Toast and I will be collaborating on together! Eek!

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Sunday, November 15, 2015

Sunday Sketches: Falling in love with Sponge Cake


While away in London the past few weeks, Mr. Toast and I had the opportunity to visit a few new tea shops and one of them was Cooplands Secret Garden Cafe. Needless to say, we not only fell in love with the Secret Garden Cafe in Scarborough but I fell head over heals for their chocolate sponge cake! Oh dear me. Thus the inspired illustration above of a recipe for the absolutely delicious and divine sponge cake.

With that said, we're home safe and working on getting settled back into a routine of sleep and such. For that reason, I'm posting Sunday Sketches early in case I/we fall asleep again! Hee Hee I"m looking forward to catching up with everyone. You've been missed dearly!

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Sunday, November 01, 2015

Sunday Sketches: On a Jet Plane

If you're reading this, Mr. Toast and I are now across the sea with his family in London. I've pre-scheduled this post to go up as I don't know when I'll get the chance to pop on but wanted to ensure everyone else could sign up with their wonderful art. When the time allows, be sure to know I'll be hopping online to read what everyone else has been up to and provide an update as well. Until then, wishing everyone a lovely weekend!

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Sunday, October 25, 2015

Sunday Sketches: Puppy Love

It continues to be a crazy busy time filled with illustration work and prepping to head out of town for a family funeral. With three children's books launching for publication, I've been pretty busy wrapping up the final details for all of the projects. This one is another snippet from the third book, "The Adventures of Chopper & T". It seemed fitting with the Halloween season upon us. Hee

Here's to a lovely weekend to all of my wonderful peeps. I'm looking forward to catching up with each of you.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

WOYWW: Blessed by invisible disabilities

Most of you know I've been diligently working behind the scenes on several children's books. Let me say just how blessed I've been to have these multiple opportunities to touch the lives of children across the world. My studio table has been filled with paints, brushes and a lot of watercolor paper these past several months and all of the hard work is coming to life!

The illustrations above are a peek at a very special children's book releasing in a few weeks called, "The Adventures of Chopper & T". This darling adventures is a true story about a little girl named Tiana Hope, and her dog, Chopper.  The story and illustrations capture the special bond of true friendship between the two, while touching upon 'invisible' disabilities, such as the brain disorder Tiana and her parents face each and every day.

Life always brings us unexpected challenges and what I've learned through this book is to never take for granted the little things we're surrounded by each day. Yes, life can be hard and unfair. But if we take a step back and look at it through the eyes of an innocent, precious child, such as Tiana - maybe then we would learn to take hold of life with a grateful heart knowing tomorrow isn't promised.

For more WOYWW studio tables and work, visit Julia's lovely page: Stamping Ground.
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Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Incredible Peace for a Journey of Courage

It's been a quiet week here thus far. With all that's been on our plate the past few weeks, it's been nice to have a few minutes to sit down and reflect upon the beauty of this time of year. It's so easy to get caught up in the list of to do's of our daily life, forgetting the important things and people around us.

Today, I was reminded of my step-daughter, Rachel, who faces so much every single day and still chooses to rise above regardless of what comes her way. My prayer for her is that any day she may feel weary on her journey, the most incredible peace would shower down upon her in ways she could never imagine. In the end, rejuvenating her heart and soul to continue forward on her Journey of Courage.
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Sunday, October 18, 2015

Sunday Sketches: Bundling Up, Part 2

 
Good morning and terribly sorry for posting just a tad late this weekend. Mr. Toast and I had a wedding to attend and arrived home late last night. You should have seen him kicking up his feet on the dance floor. He was quite the chap, all dashing, smiling & laughing, twirling me around on the floor. Hee

With that said, I'm about 3 days behind on my inktobers but pushing through. Here are the last two sketches in which I tried my hand at something new each time. As you can see in the polar bear sketch, I decided to add a new ink color. In the bottom one, I reversed the colors on his scarf, using black as the main foundation and adding white on top. These have been so much fun and look forward to posting the others along the way.

Happy Sunday Sketches!

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Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Creative Tuesdays: Postage Stamps

My love for penguins has infiltrated my illustrations over the past few holiday seasons now and thought it fitting for the current Creative Tuesdays' theme: Postage Stamps. For those of you following along my inktober journey this month, you'll see I took my day 13 sketch and took it a step further by coloring it in.

Typically, my illustrations are all hand-painted using watercolor and ink. However, tonight I thought it would be fun to take a stab at coloring my illustration via Photoshop for the first time. Last Fall I took a class online but have never really attempted to do anything since then. It was certainly enjoyable overall, watching it slowly come to life, but my poor hand was cramping horribly, practically curled up in a ball when I finished! Oh dear me.

I'm looking forward to turning some of my inktober sketches into cards in the future. Especially this little guy!
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Sunday, October 11, 2015

Sunday Sketches: Bundling up with more Inktobers

My daily inktobers continue to come alive on a small 4x6 sketchbook from Barnes & Noble. Each day I'm challenged to not only come up with a new character but new patterns for each scarf as well. So far, it's been quite fun and am surprised with what I come up with. My favorite one so far has to be Olaf, the fisherman (top photo). Hee Hee

Here's to a fabulous weekend and Sunday to each of you. I'm looking forward to catching up with everyone!

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Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Creativity birthed in the wee morning hours


Yesterday, Mr. Toast and I awoke in the early morning hours. Um, seriously way weeeeeee early morning - like 3:30 am! I'm not sure why we were awake and restless but we took advantage of the time and made our way to a new local coffee shop just a few minutes down the road from our cozy little home. It was utterly magical to arrive before the sun was up and snuzzle up in the corner by the window to sip on our favorite lattes.

One of the perks of getting up so early is getting to dive into my illustration work earlier than planned. So far, I've been able to keep up with the daily inktober 2015 challenge, while also finishing up some upcoming book projects. Stay tuned for a special, upcoming announcement in regards to my ongoing children's illustration projects.
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Sunday, October 04, 2015

Sunday Sketches: Story-time & Rabbit Doodles

It's been a wonderful Saturday filled with reading, coloring and sketching - and a fabulous one, to boot. Today was my story-time event at the Wolverine Farm Publishing Bookstore for the recent children's book I illustrated, Peanut Butter & Pumpernickel. Not only was the cozy loft filled with children from the area but even a handful of adults popped in to say hello, hanging out to take part in all the fun. While reading the book, the children colored, pointing out each character along the way. Afterwards, I sketched Peanut Butter the pug on a giant drawing pad and then each child came up one by one, adding their own little doodles. So utterly precious!

After finally arriving home later in the afternoon, Mr. Toast and I cozied up on the sofa with hot water bottles and began putting to paper our daily inktober sketches. I've posted mine above and you can view Mr. Toast's over on his Instagram. I'm curious if anyone has picked up the two re-occurring themes for mine, yet. Any guesses?

I'm looking forward to catching up with everyone. Happy Sunday Sketches!

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Friday, October 02, 2015

Embracing the new when seasons change

It's early here on this cloudy and cool Friday morning. The changing leaves dance in the breeze, eagerly waiting for the first Autumn raindrops to fall. Occasionally, feelings of excitement well up inside. As I sit here sipping on my hot cuppa I begin to ask myself why Autumn captures my heart as much as it does. This late season promises many things such as [more] tea, scarves, hot water bottles, the smell in air, the gentle touch of the Autumn breeze - the list could go on! However, the one thing that stirs my heart the most is the symbolism of life ending and beginning.

Most of the time, we think of Autumn as the season that represents the end of summer. The leaves slowly die and fall to the ground. Grass that was once green, caressing the bottoms of our feet, dries and brown. The snow comes and blankets everything with it's white coat of magical wonder. Autumn -  it's also the beginning of new life. It's a time of year where we learn to let go of the past and begin to focus on the future; a new year. How much more joy would we find life if we approached Autumn as a time to renew our hearts, letting go of the old and embracing change?

Autumn excites me! Life slows down and with it, a unique opportunity to embrace something new in the palm of our hands.

With that said, enjoy day 1 of my Inktober2015 contribution. If you've not heard of this, individuals are challenged to sketch something in pen every day for the month of October. I'm looking forward to all of the new illustrations that will come to life from this.
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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Creative Tuesdays: GIFTING...


For the past few months, I've been wanting to hop back on board Mr. Toast's online art cop-op, Creative Tuesdays, but for one reason or another, time would fly by and I'd never get the chance to paint something. Well, hello Mr. Hedgehog! Look what I squeezed out this afternoon!

This little guy was inspired by a brand new Christmas children's book I'll begin work on after the first of the year of a Hedgehog family who live in London under the Westminster bridge. Isn't he the cutest? It kind of resembles Mr. Toast, don't you think, with the fancy scarf, perfect hair and lots of pressies to give away! Hee Hee

With that said, let me grab my hot cuppa and cozy up on the sofa this early, rainy Autumnal evening to visit all of you wonderful peeps! Happy Creative Tuesdays!
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Hello Autumn. Welcome to Our Home.

Autumn is officially here in our cozy little town and for Mr. Toast and I, it's our favorite time of the year. Well, that and Christmas! In fact, we might as well say we love the last three months of the year! For those of you who know us well, we're all about enjoying the simple pleasures that only Autumn and Christmastime bring. Things such as perfect cups of tea (or lattes!), sleeping in later, the fresh, crisp smell in the air, the colorfully painted trees before their leaves tumble to the ground, hot water bottles wrapped in soft covers, homemade baked goods...and more!

Recently, we stumbled upon a brand new coffee-shop, Bindle Coffee, located only 7 minutes from where we live. It's perfect! The owner is wonderful, the baristas rock the lattes and the music is gentle to the ear. All of these things wrapped together create the perfect place, constantly tugging at one's soul to be a part of on a daily basis.

We're excited to have a place closer to home when the heavy traffic doesn't allow us to travel downtown to our favorite spot during the week, the Little Bird Bakeshop. They are a 100% from scratch bakery, sharing their passion for food and community. We've met so many wonderful people there and love the tiny 'family' we've experienced from such a lovely, inviting place.

So, here's to a fabulous week, filled with unexpected blessings and tiny joys in each of our lives! Happy Autumn!
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Sunday, September 27, 2015

Sunday Sketches: Little Robin of Hope


It's late here and I've just realized one important thing to do - put up Sunday Sketches! Oh dear me! Mr. Toast and I have had an incredibly busy week with various things going on and am looking forward to a lazy day tomorrow. For now, enjoy this little robin of hope and I'll catch up with each of you in the afternoon! Happy Sunday Sketches!

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Saturday, September 19, 2015

Sunday Sketches: Hello Fall


It's been a somewhat lazy Saturday afternoon filled with a little shopping, a late morning cuppa and taking a short walk to smell the freshly fallen autumn leaves. Ummm...I can't tell you just how much Mr. Toast and I love Autumn time. Other than Christmas, it has to be our favorite time of the year. With that said, I thought it fitting to throw together a quick illustration sharing our love of Autumn.

Enjoy this little hedgie celebrating Autumn. I look forward to catching up with everyone. Happy SS!

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Sunday, September 13, 2015

Sunday Sketches: Our Little Heartbeat


We have the most incredible little doggie, Brendel-Jo. He is the most loving, compassionate and in-tune puppy I've ever had. When you're sad, he jumps up next to you and nuzzles his head under your chin, getting as close as he can. If you're not feeling well, he'll curl up at your feet and never leave your side.  Well, other than potty time! Hee When I'm home alone, working in the studio, he lays at my feet, licking my toes occasionally to remind me he's there. He is most certainly, my little heartbeat.  Who's your heartbeat each day?

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Sunday, September 06, 2015

Sunday Sketches: Waddling Around...

It's been a jam-packed week of work in the studio, wrapping up the final illustrations for "Mia's Magical Christmas". Yes, yes - still a bit early to be chirping about the holidays but in order for the book to get to the printer on time for this season, the work must be done by this weekend. I'm super excited and oober nervous! There will be more sneak peeks of the sketches soon, so hold on tight!

Until then, enjoy Mr. Hamish. He's been waddling around here this past week with the temps dropping into the low 40's at night. Brrrrr! I just might have to borrow his cozy scarf!

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Sunday, August 30, 2015

Sunday Sketches: Carnival Fun


It's been an intense week of non-stop illustration work as well as the launch of my latest online course, "Watercolor 101: My illustration Secrets". I'm excited about this course and the engagement of those who've signed up has been wonderful. The great thing about my online courses is that they're now always open. Meaning, peeps can sign up anytime they want and are able to take the course day or night, 7-days a week, with lifetime access. Woot!

This week I'm sharing with you a peek of the illustrations for one of my many upcoming children's books, "No Matter How Small". I've had a lot of fun developing the illustrations for this book, especially the carnival scene. Makes you want to hop on the merry-go-round, doesn't it? Hee

Wishing everyone a wonderful Sunday. Happy doodling! :)

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Sunday, August 23, 2015

Sunday Sketches: Mason Jar Love


One of the simple things I've fallen in love with over the summer is planting little plants in various mason jars we picked up at the thrift store a few months back. It was fun to spend an afternoon with my baby brother back in May, planting tiny plants into a few small mason jars. Now, they're growing leaps and bounds and look so cozy in our kitchen window. In fact, just a few weeks ago, I took a few seeds from a lemon we had, planted them in the last empty mason jar we had....now it's sprouting up like you wouldn't believe!

With that said, those little jars displayed in the window inspired this darling illustration above. As I sat at my desk in the studio, I started thinking about the various things one can use mason jars for.  Talk about finding JOY in the simple things! Hee I'd love to hear what you would do with a box of empty mason jars around your home. :)

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Sunday, August 16, 2015

Sunday Sketches: Christmas in July...err, August?



(Click on the book cover above to see the entire MAGICAL illustration in detail)

Over the past few weeks, I've been mentioning the various children's book projects on my plate, including a super secret one. Well, I've been given the green light to start sharing about it and if you missed the initial announcement earlier this week, here it is again, along with some super cute sneak peeks of the process.

Introducing, "Mia's Magical Christmas Eve", which will be available in November. This is another fabulous collaboration with award-winning author, Karen J. Roberts. I'm looking forward to sharing more with you but until then, enjoy this tiny preview during this little....Christmas in July....err, August!

I'm off to see what everyone else has been up to. Happy Sunday Sketches, everyone! 

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