Thursday, December 29, 2016

2016 Christmas JOYS

With the 12 days of Christmas just beginning (Traditionally December 25th - January 6th), Michael's father arriving from out of town and just wrapping up 25 days of illustrating something every day, it seems appropros to take a break this week to enjoy family, friends and some good food!

During my time away, enjoy this fun collection of photos of some of our 2016 "Christmas JOYS"...from top left, moving across, to the bottom right.... 1) Michael and I on Christmas Day 2) My favorite Christmas ornaments 3) Our beautiful, magical Christmas tree 4) Our puppy and his new toys 5) Us holding the brand new grand-babies 6) Me icing my triple-layer red velvet cake 7) Me with my completed cake!
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Sunday, December 25, 2016

Happy Christmas Day 25: (Joy & peace to all!)

Michael and I would like to wish each of you a HAPPY Christmas! May your day be filled with unexpected joy, love and peace! We appreciate and love each of you! I'm postponing Sunday Sketches this week so we can enjoy our family and friends. See you back here next week! xo
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Saturday, December 24, 2016

Countdown to Christmas Day 24: (A Woodland Christmas Journey)


Ohhhh, it's just under 24 hours until Christmas morning! These little woodland creatures are on a special journey for Christmas Day. I wonder where they'll end up at? Well, just a few more pressies to wrap and then we'll stuff the stockings. It's looking and feeling quite Christmassy here. What's it like at your home on Christmas Eve?
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Countdown to Christmas Day 23 (Hedgehog Christmas Dreams)


Quickly catching up with yesterday as today's (Christmas Eve) and tomorrow's (Christmas Day) are going to be utterly magical. Thank you for all of your lovely, sweet comments over the past few weeks regarding my countdown to Christmas illustrations. You've blessed this creative heart more than you know.
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Thursday, December 22, 2016

Countdown to Christmas Day 22 (Santa's Delivery)


Well, Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without a little visit from Santa! Uh huh. Let me tell you just how happy the woodland creatures were when he arrived with a present for each of them. (wink) Do you like a little surprise visit from Santa each year?
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Countdown to Christmas Days 20 & 21 (More Christmas Magic)

Ohhh it's 3 days until Christmas and I'm finally catching up with my daily illustrations. Goodness me! Please enjoy days 20 and 21. Both sweet in their own way. Mr. Snowman looks like he's quite enjoying his bright colored, stripey scarf and who could resist a little family of English robins, making strands of berries to hang on their trees? Are you ready for Christmas? We're pretty much ready here.
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Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Countdown to Christmas Day 19: (A Little Rabbit Christmas)


Here I am scrambling once again to catch up with my daily advent. Regardless, enjoy day #19 which is a darling wintry scene of a "Little rabbit Christmas". This one was a bit challenging as I had to do some work a bit our of my comfort zone, but I did it! I LOVE love how the frosty windows turned out. The entire piece feels Christmassy and utterly magical. Do you have a favorite wintry scene during the holidays? I truly enjoy hearing all about your stories and traditions.
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Sunday, December 18, 2016

Countdown to Christmas Day 18 (A Woodland Christmas)

While creating my daily "Countdown to Christmas" illustrations, I'm finding that this style is definitely my favorite. I've always been a fan of Beatrix Potter - a woman and children's illustrator who's been my main influence for the past several years now. Her work is filled with the most wonderful characters and captures the heart of children in every possible way. That is my heart's desire. Therefore, I'm feeling this internal creative itch to focus on this style of mine more often. It's certainly magical and captures the true meaning of this time of year.
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Saturday, December 17, 2016

Sunday Sketches Day 17 (Angel Snow-globe)


We're quickly winding down to just a week until Christmas! This week I wanted to share with you an illustration of a snow-globe that's been in my family for quite some time now. Admittedly, I almost tossed it out as I didn't really like how it looked when I finished painting it. After a few hours of "editing" it in Photoshop, then adding the snow within the globe, I'm now SO in love with this finished illustration.

Happy Sunday! I'm looking forward to cozying up on the sofa with a cup of tea in hand, to see what everyone has been up to this past week. Are you ready for Christmas?

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Friday, December 16, 2016

Countdown to Christmas Day 16 (Magical Mouse House)


Happy 16th day of December! This little guy is cosied up on the sofa with his stuffed bear, waiting for Christmas to arrive. This is how I feel pretty much every night during the Christmas season. I absolutely love this time of year. The magical feeling in the air, beautiful Christmas light displays, dreaming of wonderful things to come in the new year, and hopes for more love in the world around us. Do you have any special wishes during this time of year?
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Thursday, December 15, 2016

Countdown to Christmas: Day 15 (Mr. Owl's Tree)


It's hard to believe we're just over a week away until Christmas! Mr. Owl finally had a moment to put up his tree and decorate with colorful baubles and a bright shining star. Ohhh, how I love the magic this time of year brings. It's like being a child again. Every night I cosy up on the sofa and simply gaze at the bright lights, handmade ornaments and Michael's favorite...English robins. His collection is growing! What about you? Do you have a particular theme with your tree or a tradition for adding ornaments each year?
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Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Countdown to Christmas Day 14 (Reindeer Kisses)


This darling little reindeer is waiting for his first holiday kiss. Won't you be the first to make his holiday wishes come true?  We've not had the tradition of hanging a mistletoe in our home but we're considering it this year. Have you? Do you have any favorite holiday traditions you do at Christmastime?
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Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Countdown to Christmas (Gingerbread House)

Since I was already planning on doing a gingerbread house of some sort for my daily Countdown to Christmas Illo Advent, it seemed fitting to hop on board with the current theme of hubby's bi-weekly online art co-op, Creative Tuesdays. I had so much fun illustrating this idea and am quite pleased at how it turned out. From my gingerbread house to the candy cane fence...it's perfect! Now, I must give my hand a try at a real gingerbread house for the holiday season.

For more wonderful Creative Tuesdays contributions, make sure to visit this fabulous online art co-op here.
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Countdown to Christmas Day 12: Ugly Christmas Sweater

Countdown to Christmas Day 12 - Mr. Lottle is enjoying his "ugly sweater" given to him by his great aunt last year for Christmas. Hee Hee. What do you think of his fuzzy tree sweater? Do you have an "ugly sweater" story you would like to share? I'd love to hear all about it.
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Countdown to Christmas Day 11 (Snowy Wishes)


I'm quickly trying to catch up with my daily Countdown to Christmas as I know many have left comments or sent messages, sharing with me how you love them. We had a pretty crazy weekend but all is better now. So, enjoy Day 11 - Cynthia's wish for snow is coming true! I created a little GIF to make it a bit more magical today.
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Saturday, December 10, 2016

Sunday Sketches (Day 10)

I'm dreaming of a (white) Christmas...and so is Mr. Fox. I wonder what he is hoping to find under the tree this year? It's amazing that we're just over 2 1/2 weeks until Christmas Day already! Goodness! Tell me, is there anything special you're hoping to get for Christmas this year? For me? Simply being with our family, children and grand-babies. I feel like we have all the tangible things we could ever want. So, celebrating life and love is the greatest gift when no one is promised tomorrow.
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Friday, December 09, 2016

Countdown to Christmas Day 9 (Circle of Love)

This little family of bears are celebrating by dancing with joy around their decorated Christmas tree. What a lovely sight to see! Have you put up your tree, yet? If so, what is your family tradition for putting up/decorating your holiday tree? Enjoy today's Countdown to Christmas illo advent day 9.
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Thursday, December 08, 2016

Countdown to Christmas Day 8 (Grandmas House)

This little wintry scene developed from reminiscing about the last house my grandma lived in before she passed away in 2005. I loved spending time there. We had some of the most wonderful moments and every year at Christmas, I'm reminded at just how much she played such an important role in my life growing up. I spent a good portion of my childhood days with her, crocheting and baking cookies. Some days, it's still hard to believe she's gone. To me, she was invincible. Her love for me and others was/is something to always keep close to heart - a great reminder for this holiday season. Enjoy my Countdown to Christmas, Day 8.
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Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Countdown to Christmas Day 7 (Holly & Berries)

It's hard to believe we've been home from England for just 3 weeks! Michael and I were chatting the other day at how it feels like it's already been several months. Crazy! So, how fitting to reflect back upon our stay this holiday season than illustrating one of the many, many English robins I saw, twittering around in the garden outside my studio in Scarborough. Happy Christmas....day 7!
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Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Countdown to Christmas Day 6 (Puppy Love)

Today's Countdown to Christmas illo advent was inspired by our darling and sweet fur baby, Brendel Joseph. Who could resist these oober precious puppy eyes, begging to be loved on and cuddled with? ;)
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Monday, December 05, 2016

Countdown to Christmas Day 4 and 5


...and here's to catching up with my Countdown to Christmas Illo Advent. Enjoy Hodge the Hedgehog doing a little caroling and Pieter the winter rabbit. What would you like to see me illustrate in my daily illo advents?
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Saturday, December 03, 2016

(Sunday Sketches) Countdown to Christmas: Day 3


Here's day 3 of my Countdown to Christmas illo_advent. This adorable winter (cat) scene came to life when reflecting upon our family Christmas tree hunting adventures awhile back. It was such a magical day - especially when huge snowflakes began to tumble down the moment we stepped out into the field to select our tree.

Well, I'm already 1 day behind. Day 4 will appear tomorrow, with day 5. We've been busy shopping for the holidays and celebrating our anniversary. Stay tuned for more advent illos!
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Friday, December 02, 2016

Countdown to Christmas: Day 2


As Mr. Toast and I are celebrating our anniversary today, I thought it fitting to incorporate it into today's illo_advent illustration. This adorable artwork features our actual scarves and my hat. It was a lot of fun illustrating this piece and create a special memory for our 2016 wedding anniversary. For those of you who missed day 1, you can check it out here.

So, happy anniversary, Michael! I love you to the moon and back! Here's to many more years together! x
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Thursday, December 01, 2016

My Countdown to Christmas (2016 Illo Advent)

This year, I thought it would be nice to illustrate our very own Christmas Illo Advent. I'm joining others, along with Penny Neville Lee who started this tradition. In fact, I've created my first illustration for this brisk and lovely December 1st and also converted it into the 2016 Illo Advent Icon on my sidebar, so peeps can keep track of each day I post via Mr. Linky below.

MY 2016 Christmas Illo Advent Adventures:
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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The adventures of hanging holiday lights

I love my hubby and I certainly know he loves me. Why? Well, for one thing...he's out in 40 degree temps and blustery winds, hanging our Christmas lights.  It was such a sight to see, let me tell you. (Queue chuckle) From climbing ladders (he's NOT a fan of heights) to swinging a long pogo stick through the air in order to toss the lights high up in the tree for me...that's my fab, loving husband. He makes my/our Christmas magical every year.  :)
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Sunday, November 27, 2016

Sunday Sketches...we're back!

It's so wonderful to be up and about once again. Today is the first day in weeks where I've been fully up and working on various things. We're almost settled in our new home here in Colorado. Much different than back in England but it's certainly cozy and inviting. In fact, we've just started to put up our Christmas tree and other various holiday decorations.

This week I'm sharing a winter scene watercolor painted just before flying out of London. I'm in love with the little yellow house situated among pine trees and fresh falling snow. We had our first snow earlier this week and it was quite lovely to see. Colder weather is moving in next week again so who knows...maybe some more winter magic will come our way! What about you? Do you like the winter season?

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Thursday, November 24, 2016

On the Road to recovery

(One of many pictures taken during our visit in York, North Yorkshire)

We've been home for about a week now and it has certainly been a journey already. It's been a whirlwind of many things. In less than a week we picked up our car, moved into our new home, had the puppy dropped off - and on top of it all - falling very, very ill. Michael and I were already sick prior to leaving England but thought we were over it all when heading home to the states. Apparently, the change of countries combined with all of the above going on, my body had enough and halted life for several days.

One week later, after 3 days of strict bed rest, antibiotics, a puppy sleeping at my feet, and a wonderful hubby taking good care of me, I can honestly say I'm finally on the road to recovery. Thank you for all of your well wishes. Now...we can begin to truly settle in to our new home and venture off to see the new grand-babies!

Thank you for your patience with being off-line for awhile, as well as having to postpone last week's Sundays Sketches (which is rare for me to do). I look forward to visiting everyone and catching up on all you've been doing.
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Saturday, November 19, 2016

Sunday Sketches Postponed

My dear lovely peeps. Please accept my apologies. There will be no Sunday Sketches this week as I've been too ill since we returned home to Colorado to do anything. Your thoughts and prayers are much appreciated.

Alexandra x
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Sunday, November 13, 2016

Sunday Sketches (From England)

It's the last week for Sunday Sketches....from England, that is. It's been lovely hosting it from overseas these past several months but it will also be wonderful so be back home with our family and friends as well.  Starting next week, we'll return to the regular Sunday Sketches!

Above is a quick illustration I put together, joining other illustrators, authors, teachers and librariarians across the world to encourage children that regardless of who they are....the are SAFE! If you'd like to join in, simply create a piece of art with a safety pin, post it to your social media page and tag it with the #kidlitsafetypins.

Michael and I are boarding the train early Sunday morning for London. With me being very sick and on a 2-hour ride, it might be later in the day or tomorrow before I can visit everyone. I will do so as soon as I'm able.

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Friday, November 11, 2016

Keep your Head Up. Keep Your Heart Strong

We've created some wonderful memories here in Scarborough. Not just with our family but new people we've met and now consider our friends. In fact, both Michael and my niece (who's lived here for over 2 years) are amazed at the various individuals in whom I wave and say hello to when pottering down high street for coffee or errands. It warms my heart and yet it's hard to believe we'll be leaving here this Sunday morning. Our friends here have become such a special part of our life and as much as we're looking forward to returning home to Colorado, it's going to be hard to say goodbye.

But life continues to move forward and so must each of us regardless of the change(s) touching our lives. Some will be good while others, not so great.  This is how life must be for us to (continue) learning and growing...even as adults. We'll celebrate together the good and we'll cry/hold one another during those challenging and difficult moments. That's kindness, love, forgiveness and acceptance, regardless of who we are.

In closing, for anyone out there who feels you're utterly alone with no family or close friends. No one to lean on. I've been there. NEVER give up! YOU are LOVED! Always remember that and always remember to keep your head up and your heart strong.
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Tuesday, November 08, 2016

The reinvention of Daily Life

Routines. We all have them. Some we follow every day for years. Others, come and go, depending on life circumstances. For us, we reinvented our daily life routine when moving here to England back in July. It wasn't easy at first, but we certainly did it and I'm in love with that (new) routine! I love our early morning walks down to the coffee shop where we cozy up with lattes in hand, catching up from the day before and all that lies ahead for the day at hand. Bliss. Utter bliss to have that needed and wanted time with my husband - a man in whom I've had the opportunity to learn even more about while tucked away in Northern Yorkshire with him and his family over these past few months. He's an angel and he's my rock.

In less than a week we're returning home and are faced with reinventing that daily life routine once again. Add to that, other new things as well. Such as, a new home. Although we absolutely loved our darling yellow town-home where we built many memories together as a couple, with the kids and our friends, we made a tough decision before leaving the states to leave it behind. We'll be building new, cherished memories in a new home - and that's OK! We're looking forward to reuniting with our family and friends, meeting our new neighbors, cuddling our 3-week old grand-babies...and more! Life is filled with adventures and changes. Embracing them is the best thing we can do. Finding ways to reinvent daily life when those changes come allows us to always find joy in the journey.
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Sunday, November 06, 2016

Sunday Sketches (From England)

I'm feeling like a little nap-time is in order here. Thus, influencing the above illustrations and a brand new series to fill my shop over the next week or so. With the cloudy weather and gusts of wind/rain, it seems fitting to simply stay under the covers with hot water bottles, drinking continuous cups of tea! But who could resist the beautiful seaside weather and smell of the ocean air today? Not I! Especially when we'll be boarding a train in just one week, returning to London for the holiday lights and then flying home to Colorado a few days later. We'll be reuniting with family and friends we've not seen or hugged in four months!

We've been spending the day cozied up in a few of our favorite coffee shops, sipping on lattes/tea, nibbling on the occasional cake and tucking our scarves snug around our necks in order to stay warm on this soggy Saturday. With Michael knee-deep into work and me working on a special Christmas project announcement, it's been quite the productive yet, relaxing day. Life can be crazy at times, so I'm thankful for days such as these.

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Sunday, October 30, 2016

Sunday Sketches (from England)

It's been fun experimenting and playing around with my paints and planner these past few days. In my last post, I mentioned starting a new routine of planning out my days to better stay on track of my illustration goals, as well as my life in general with being a wife and mother. This week, I'd like to share a little more about it with you.

On April 18th, 2014, my life was flipped upside-down after being hit by a car while sitting at a stop light. When reflecting back to that moment, it all rolls through my mind as if it happened just yesterday. All-in-slow-motion. I lost everything, except my life. The 10 months that followed were the most excruciating days of pain I had ever experienced. After arriving home, the couch became my bed for almost a year, while my husband and step-sons helped care for me. It was hard for me to face reality for awhile that life - well, it changed.

With that change came a lot of emotion and a (rising) determination to find a way through this unexpected heartache once again. I had already gone through and overcame some pretty crazy stuff growing up. This? This should then be a piece of cake! It was a far too familiar territory emotionally and was something I needed to do again. For myself and for my family.

The past two years or more have been spent carving out a new career for myself. Although I still deal with a lot of physical pain in my neck and shoulder, and am often limited to how long I can work due to intense head pain, I've managed to create a magical, creative world of work for myself. It wasn't what I had initially planned to do with my life but after putting in a lot of hard work (and still doing so!) I've been able to build up my small illustration business into a place where I can honestly say I'm truly happy with what I do. The best part?  The opportunity to bless others with my work along the way.

Planning A Better Life (Part I)
I've had to learn some new things along this creative journey of mine and one of them is planning better. I found myself over-committing, barely making deadlines, and running myself thin because I was too afraid to say "no" at times. Today, I'm OK with it and have learned to limit myself, carrying a better workload that's more suitable for me and my home life. Having a solid, planning process is important and recently learned about a specific one while taking an online children's book conference. Let me tell you just how much I love it! I combine practical planning with a few doodles, bringing joy and (more) pleasure to the daily tasks that can seem daunting at times.

Above is a peek at what I'm now doing. In my next post, I'll dive deeper into the brilliant planning book itself, my thoughts behind actually reviewing my planner every day and some tips on how you can make your daily planning just as fun and pleasurable! Until then, happy Sunday Sketches! I'm looking forward to popping in to each of your bloggie homes to see what you've been up to this past week.


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Thursday, October 27, 2016

An Ode to Rejuvenation

© amacvean Helmsley Castle Walled Garden

Do you ever feel a bit weary at times? You know, plugging along from day to day, feeling like you need a bit of something to refresh you within, but that mean ol' monster of guilt creeps in making you feel unworthy of taking any sort of break? I'm sure all of us feel this way at times. I certainly do. Being an illustrator requires a lot out of one both physically and emotionally. Throughout my creative journey, I've learned many things and one is making sure to take time out of my often busy schedule to simply care for me - and to be OK with it! Rejuvenation is important for the creative heart and soul. One cannot simply function (creatively) in this world without it. Learning to give ourselves permission, that gentle nudge to step away for that much needed rest from time to time is so important to live life to its fullest.

Taking in the small things around me every day has pretty much become a daily ritual for quite some time now. However, it can be easily forgotten or taken for granted when buried knee-deep in deadlines of various sorts. With a major book deadline completed and behind me, I'm now spending some time enjoying more of the little things in life. We've only a few weeks left here in England, so cherishing every morning at the coffee shop with my husband in this quaint, seaside town is even more important to me. Since being here, I've discovered everything and every place has something unique and often, beautiful to offer. Thus why I desire to soak it all in as much as possible.

I've also started a new routine of planning out each day more accordingly, including making a special list of everything I'm utterly grateful for - like family (near and far), old & new friends, a safe place to lay our head at night and so much more. This has been truly refreshing, bringing to light how I can better manage my day as an artist, wife, mother and friend.
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Sunday, October 23, 2016

Sunday Sketches (From England)

Now that I've finished a recent children's book project, I've been spending the past week or so just simply being and enjoying North Yorkshire. With the completed timeline, it's allowed me to visit various local villages with my sister-n-law and it's been absolutely lovely!

This week, we ventured off to York, Helmsley, and Pickering. All bundled up in our warm coats, fluffy scarves and woolly mittens, we set off to visit adorable quaint, local shops and yummy tea rooms while enjoying the autumnal color along the way. The photo above is the Rose Inn situated along the canal in the middle of Pickering. The second view is an adorable little sandwich store on high street in Helmsley. Both villages will be a part of my very own written and illustrated children's book titled, "The House On Rabbit Hill." (Thus the quick practice doodle in my sketchbook!)

Happy Sunday Sketches! I'm really looking forward to seeing what everyone has been up to. Only 3 more weeks of Sunday Sketches in England and we're back home in Colorado!

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Sunday, October 16, 2016

Sunday Sketches (from England)


As I was putting up this post, I was reminded how Michael and I are just under 4 weeks before we return home to Colorado. As you know, we've been here since the end of July helping his sister take care of his mother. I can't believe how the time has flown by but we've been able to accomplish all we set out to do on this trip.  I know Michael very thankful he was able to relocate for awhile, despite any challenges and grief given along the way. He'll certainly not regret doing so.

I've not done much art this past week due to taking a break from actual art work since my recent illustrated children's book has been completed. It's available on both Barnes & Noble, as well as Amazon. I plan to take the remainder of the year off and a few months into the new year, to simply settle back in to our (new) home in Colorado, unpack, cuddle the puppy and visit with friends and family we've not seen since earlier this summer.

With that said, happy Sunday Sketches! I'm off to rest more as I've not felt well off and on the past few days. I promise to visit everyone when able.


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Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Yay Coffee! Let's Celebrate!

Tucked underneath a dental office with other store fronts alongside in the seaside town of Scarborough, one can find this darling and magical coffee shop, Yay Coffee! Celebrating today their first year of being open, owners Charlotte & Rob are thrilled with how far they've come on this joint venture of love for one another....and, of course, for all things coffee! It's a fabulous place where their family and friends (old & new) can come find caffeinated happiness in their home away from home.

From the happy orange colored walls to their cushy chairs and fairy lights, Yay Coffee offers a wide variety of coffee, tea and yummy nibbles, including gluten free options. Trust me, you won't be disappointed. Come and experience their journey of getting to where their business is today after viewing the Polaroids strung along a wall in their cozy room in the back.

You can see why Michael and I adore this place. Who wouldn't? From amazing coffee to their inviting hearts and contagious smiles, you too will want to be a part of their day in this lovely town.
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Sunday, October 09, 2016

Sunday Sketches (from England)

It's been an incredibly arduous week of long hours, working a little magic to finalize everything for my latest children's' book, "Ladybug! Ladybug!" Come Tuesday, you'll be able to purchase this darling book of poetry via Barnes & Noble and Amazon. Exciting! I've been working on this book for 11 months now and it's thrilling to see it finally come to life.

On that note, here's my recent (5.5" x 5.5") sketchbook illustration. I've been challenging myself to incorporate more detail in my daily warm-ups. This one is another childhood memory of my second oldest brother, Bob. He and I loved to play in the Autumn leaves in grandma's backyard. Of course, I just had to incorporate our Scottie dog to make it picture perfect.

Enjoy your Sunday! I'll be in and out today so will visit everyone when able.


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Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Creative Tuesdays: Little Red Riding Hood

A very quick illustration for this round of Creative Tuesdays. The theme to choose from was either Little Red Riding Hood or Show White. As you can see, I chose the latter and decided to add a bit of a twist to it by simply pushing myself a little outside of my comfort zone with my illustration style. Enjoy!

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Sunday, October 02, 2016

Sunday Sketches (From England)

Last weekend we took a drive with Michael's family through North Yorkshire to take in the beautiful countryside. The view was absolutely incredible. My favorite part of the trip was visiting a handful of English villages along the way. My creative heart and mind were captivated by the intricate details of the various cottages, including the foliage. It was like walking through a real-life fairy-tale seeing the colorful ivy meandering its way up and around each home, stone walls smothered in bright green spongy moss and creeks flowing alongside the edge of the cobblestone streets. My child-like heart began to overflow. There's been a notable difference in my last few illustrations and I'm sure it's from the magic that filled my heart on that very day.

Here's to a fabulous weekend and a happy Sunday Sketches to each of you!

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