I come from a long line of sign writers and am happiest with a brush and some paint! Add
paint to fabric and I get really excited!!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Ryan: CAKEventure Part I - a series

“My eyes are starving for beauty! “ Andre Leon Talley to Vera Wang, The September Issue (2009)

My name is Ryan, and I am Jennifer's nephew, have been for all my life.

I, like my aunt, like my family, come from a long line of painters. There is a story to that, a story that may get corrected as family stories do by each generation, both those before and those after, but we haven't always been sign painters... go back far enough, to the origins of our family name and it means “Small House with Shingles and or Shutters”... which I take to mean that we were not rich, but we were by no means poor (I am sure shingles and or shutters were very expensive back then). When my family came to this country we were building carriages, and as the times were prosperous carriages became fancier and fancier and our family started to do hand pin stripping on the sides of the carriages. This began a passion for the brush, a passion for making and creating that still has not work its way out of our systems through all these generations.

As times are changing so much, I think we all find ourselves expressing these passions in different ways. It was my mother's choice (and gift to me) that I would not follow with the family business and be a sign painter like so many before me. She really gave me a gift to dream. To be anything I want. To express myself in so many different ways... so much so that somedays I think it will take a life time just to figure it all out. And with such a wonderful and support family I had the talents and love to do anything.

Although I do love to paint, I have been taught many family crafts from baking, to sewing, to furniture making (everyone remember that white leather sofa I made? Sure it had some nails sticking out of it here and there, but you couldn't see them from the front!) . I love to learn and try new things.

My current passion (I don't like to call them phases because they all build on each other in some way... even that brief stint with Live Art Performances.... oh, only in Montreal) is Cakes! Well, I should say, Cakes, Cupcakes, Cookies... you get the idea. So I decided that in order to bring some worlds together for myself I would enrol in a “WILTON CAKE DECORATING COURSE”... and I say that with all of the Marketing that backs it up... cause that seems to be a sizeable part of it.

It seemed neat. I had looked over a bit of information online about, and had done some deep soul searching (was I ready for cakes? *thoughtful pause*  Was I ready for a structured learning environment? *pensive pause*  Was I ready to give up regular Tuesday Night TV? *dramatic pause* At least for four weeks? I guess I was), so I tried to enrol in the class... the website had said something along the lines of “Show up the day before to enrol for the Class” like a friendly neighbour telling you to just drop by when you have the time. How much better could it be? Anyway, after finding that classes were booked up for the next two months I finally got into a class which started this week.
I am actually just back from my first class. It was a bit of a rush to get home from work get all my supplies and hustle myself off to class but I got it all done (sandwich in hand running out the door). Its late here now so I will have to try to make another entry in the next couple of days to tell you all about it.

Thanks to my wonderful and beautiful Aunt Jennifer for giving me this opportunity to guest blog my CAKEventure.

- Ryan

Monday, August 13, 2012

In the spirit of the Olympic Games, I am passing my blogging baton to my incredibly talented nephew, Ryan while I take a small blogging hiatus.

Ryan is one of those people who thinks in color, dreams in color and can paint and draw with color. Actually he fills the room with color when he walks in. If you have not met him before, in no time at all, you will love him just as the rest of us do. He is bright, articulate, outgoing and just downright huggable. And in our circle, huggable is everything!

I was lucky enough to be around when he was born and to watch him grow up. When he was old enough, he was my children’s first baby sitter. He baked with them, created with them, sang with them, drew with them, played games with them. I am positive Ryan was a contributing factor in their early reading skills and in helping them develop as such creative thinkers. 

For 4 years I was lucky enough to have Ryan live in the same city my daughter was studying in. Now I am lucky that he lives and works in the same city as my son.

Once again he is helping me out and lending me his time! Thanks, Ry! Love you like no other! xoxox
We refer to it as “the most fabulous trip ever”....and for very good reason. 

I was just finishing up my first year at Acadia University in Wolfville, NS when my dad called and said I needed to get home as soon as I could to help pack. Help pack? Yep! We are going to England!

To back up a little, my family had been living in a century home in downtown Charlottetown for a number of years and I was flabbergasted that the property had been sold. When we purchased it, it was my dad and I that viewed the property for the first time only days before we took ownership. The two sisters who lived there had left the home and the convenience store located immediately beside the house in the exact same condition it was the day their father passed away. In essence, the store and house were an amazing glimpse into the past. The house was so beautiful; full of original moulding, hardwood floors, fireplaces in every room, a back kitchen and maid’s quarters. We all loved this house and the history that came with it. My sister ran a very popular weaving studio and craft shop in the adjoining building.

But, a new bank manager had taken over and he “called” Dad’s loan with no notice. Dad felt he had no choice but to sell and move on. When the bank called the next day to say there had been a huge mistake and to say that the loan did not have to be repaid immediately as first indicated, it was too late. The property had sold in less than 24 hours and Dad had already moved on to the next step in his life. No regrets. Just accept it and move on. My parents secret to life. 

The next 6 weeks were spent on a trip of a lifetime! We rented a flat in London, got British train passes and lead a crazy, whirlwind life exploring England! My father is a huge history buff so we were regaled with detailed and fascinating stories of what came before. Once the month was up, we all piled into an RV - all 6 of us - and lived out of it for another 2 weeks as we explored some more remote areas of England, as well as Scotland. Ahhh, the fun we had!

I know we all have our favorite memories and we still laugh over some of them. Like the day Dad took us to Kew Gardens and insisted we go to the left to find the entrance. Turns out the entrance had been only 20 feet to our right and we ended up walking the entire perimeter of the gardens in order to gain entrance! The day my brother-in-law and brother were horsing around and my brother went right through a plate glass window in the flat, backside first (sustaining no injuries except to his pre-tenn pride!). Walking the ocean pier in Brighton, playing antique penny arcade games and sampling cockles and mussels, alive, alive, ho....The day my brother-in-law and I climbed the dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral and clambered out onto the roof of the cathedral to the most spectacular view of London, fog and all. Buying fresh bouquets of flowers from street vendors and sugar cookies from the bakery; we dubbed the cookies chickie/duckies because no one could figure out what animal they were meant to be! Visiting the museum in York where whole London streets of the past have been painstakingly recreated. Visiting Westminster Abbey! Seeing cathedrals built on sweat and blood and sometimes even the bodies of people whose whole lives were given to these projects. Tasting TCP for the first time for a sore throat - this syrup was to become a staple in our medicine cabinet - not a wholly pleasant or unpleasant experience. Watching my brother-in-law stalk fields and fields of sheep as he tried and tried to photograph them and was continually outwitted by them.

When it was time to leave, my parents rented 2 Daimlers - yep! the same car the queen rides around in - to take us to the airport. Our arrival in Canadian customs was a nightmare for the officers as they processed 6 of us with a total of 18 pieces of luggage. We were waved through...lol....Piled into the family car, a Pacer, we drove off. With a total of $34.00 left in my parents pockets, we made our way home to what had been up until now, our summer cottage. And 36 years later, this is still where we refer to as “home” and is where my parents live a quiet, peaceful life with no regrets, but oh, so many wonderful memories.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Fleeting Summer

I don’t know about you, but when August arrives, I usually start to take just a little more time to really pay attention to the fleeting days of summer. I try to focus on working on my projects, but it seems being outdoors wins most times. Going for walks, riding our bikes, finding a beach or a river for swimming....when you live in Eastern Canada, the time you have to do these activities is limited. 

I also like to take advantage of recording the beauty and mystery of summer with photographs. Looking at these images is usually what will carry me through the coldest and most desolate of winter days. So, yesterday I visited my Mom’s quiet little garden and captured some summer for later inspiration.....

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Happy New Brunswick Day!

Oh what a summer it has been!! I don’t remember experiencing such a stretch of hot, dry weather in a very long time.

It feels as though we need to store up this glorious sunshine and heat, so my hubby and I spent the past long weekend making the most of the great NB outdoors. One day we swam and snorkelled at a favorite spot in Cap Pele, where we spotted starfish, schools of cutters and even a school of striped bass who were so social, we could swim right up to them!

We celebrated New Brunswick Day doing that most Canadian activity - canoeing.  I always feel very patriotic when I canoe.....tonight I told my hubby when they finally opened up a canoeing category for mixed couples (old mixed couples he added...lol) in the Olympics, I know he and I would be on the podium!

This is the view on the section of the Cocagne River that we were exploring. It doesn’t get much better than this.....

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Rainy day funtimes!

Practice, practice! There are definitely benefits to taking the time to practice and every piece offers more areas to learn. Today was a rainy day - and although I know there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing - I took the opportunity to stay indoors with the Olympics playing in the background on the TV and my F55 humming!

I know there are lots of errors on this piece - or perhaps areas to improve upon - but it is amazing how much more comfortable you get with the process from the beginning to the end of each piece!

Tomorrow I am taking the plunge and loading a single bed quilt!! Woot! Woot! Wish me luck!

I am linking to The Needle and Thread Network. There are lots of things happening with creative Canadians - check it out!