Wednesday, October 31, 2007

2008 Calendar Sneak Peek (February)

(click image to enlarge)

As promised, here is a peek at the February illustration for my 2008 Calendar. (you can also see January's illustration here) I am very encouraged that the design and creation process is moving fairly quickly now. This design was in part inspired by all the lovely give-aways that I have seen in Blogland of late - the creative women out there who lovingly gather beautiful, yummy things to share as a thank you to their readers are very inspiring to me... Plus, I am trying to keep with my usual use of rich colors and lots of pattern - sprinkled with a bit of whimsy. Most importantly, though, are the Scriptures - they are the centerpiece of the Calendar - they are why I am doing this in the first place. And may I just say, to all of you out there who have come by here and shared kind thoughts and words with me...

"Your love has given me great joy and encouragement." Philemon 7


Onward to October 2008 - hopefully I can post that this weekend...

Monday, October 29, 2007

Illustration Friday: Trick or Treat

(click image to enlarge)

Well, I have no idea why the image of little giraffe dressed as a fairy princess getting treats from a masked monkey occurred to me, much less why I actually drew it, but here it is, my contribution to this week's Illustration Friday topic "Trick or Treat"...

If you're coming here from IF, you can read a post I did recently called "The Pumpkin Parable" where I share a little more about Trick or Treating...

Be safe out there on Wednesday...and save the M&Ms and Reeses Peanut Butter Cups for me!

Cool Stuff Coming...

I hate it when I'm too busy to blog and all the good stuff that is going on is PERFECT for blogging about but I can't stop long enough to take pictures and share it with you - argh...

Please bear with me for about another day or so and I will have PLENTY to share. Here's just a sampling of what's coming up in the next days and weeks:
  • The BEST Treasure Hunting weekend ever - it'll take a couple of hours just to take photos!! Lets just say that it was a perfect storm of the twice annual Woodlands Flea Market and finding an estate sale where the person was a collector - and his kids wanted everything gone....TONS of great bargains!!!

  • February and October on my illustration calendar will be revealed this week!!!

  • New Illustration Friday submission to share...

  • New photos of the kids, including Baby Hope of course - too cute!!

  • Makeover Monday - this is a great project!!

  • Workspace MeMe - photos of where I create

  • A Christmas Gift-Guide for Handcrafted goodies!!

  • And TaDa - my first ever give-away is coming up SOON!!!
Thanks for your patience as I continue to create like crazy in the background, work my day job, and be a newlywed....I'm having a blast!!! I am SO GRATEFUL for your kind comments and blog love shared 'round - what a lovely community of people - y'all are the BEST!!

HUGS to you all - see you REAL soon!!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Pumpkin Parable

I was reading over at Karla Dornacher's blog a couple of days ago (I LOVE it over there!!) and saw a cute photo of her granddaughters and their smiling carved pumpkins they had just completed. I read on and Karla relayed a parable I had never heard about the pumpkin as it applies to us as Christians. I don't want to restate it all here - she relayed it so well, and I love her commentary and prayer too, so I invite you to read about it here.

The next day, she posted a cute, cute coloring page for kiddos to go along with the parable - great idea!!

In the comment section from her first pumpkin post, another sweet gal shared a link for a tract she created that relays the pumpkin parable so well - I've included a link to it here too.

I really don't want to get into a big theological discussion about Halloween, it's origins, etc - I just wanted to share what I thought was a touching story that brings glory to God (which is my stated goal on the blog). I'll leave theological wranglings to others. By the way, here is another resource about the pumpkin parable over at Annie's Homepage. She has MANY other lengthy, good pages about Halloween symbols, etc - all thought provoking and thorough...and from a Christian perspective.

SO, all this pumpkin talk has me thinking fondly of Halloweens from my childhood - thought I'd throw in an old funny photo of me and my older brother circa 1969 (that's me under the sheet - I apparently was Casper the Slobbering Ghost :o) And my, that was a pretty decent candy haul!! I remember that year my Aunt gave us rocks (just for fun of course) ala "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" animated classic. Poor old Charlie Brown and his rocks...

Well, no matter how you do or don't celebrate Halloween, this one thing is true: "This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it!" Psalm 118:24 Every day belongs to Him!!

"There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear..." 1 John 4:18

Monday, October 22, 2007

2008 Calendar Sneak Peek!

I think, just maybe, for 2008 I'll actually finish creating artwork for a calendar. I've been sketching and dreaming of and planning a calendar for forever - the photo below shows just a few of my calendar ideas sketches from the last couple of years - I pulled all of them out a while back and looked through all the old ideas, sketched some new ideas, and finally decided on a format, theme, style, etc....

And here is the finished art for January...

(click image to enlarge)

The calendar will be called "Words of Encouragement", and each month will feature a key word, like "comfort", "faith", "laughter", etc, and will have a Scripture verse and design to illustrate that word. I will be creating the artwork digitally using Painter, and it will be a sort of blended style between my whimsical "cut-out" look and my more painterly, realistic rendering. The plan is to self-publish these designs in a calendar format using CafePress and give some as Christmas gifts as well as offer them for sale at my CafePress store - then I plan to send some out to art directors as a promotional piece... I just hope I can actually follow through this time and finish these designs by mid-December... God-willing, I will do just that.

So, if I occasionally skip an Illustration Friday or don't post for a few days, please know that I am likely painting away on June's "Joy" theme or September's "Splendor" perhaps. I do plan to share my progress from time to time as well as a few more finished designs, but hey, I don't want to spoil all the surprises...

Here's to 2008 being a very good year!!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Belated Blogging...Awards!

I was the recent recipient of two lovely awards and I have been such a slacker in both acknowledging them and in passing them on. First off, my blog-buddy Heather (Madame Rubies) from way back in my earliest days of blogging, awarded me this "You Make Me Smile" award. Aww shucks Heather - right back at 'cha! Your wit, intelligence and warmth have made me smile are such a wonderful writer - keep using that God-given gift girl!!

I also received the "You Lift Me Up" award from one of my newer blog-buddies, Becky (Sweet Cottage Dreams). She was gracious enough to pass that on to me and sweet Lallee for sharing Bible passages on our blogs and for "taking the time to open their hearts to the world and for making my heart and soul feel better." Thanks Becky!! Your warm and inviting cottage(this home you gotta see) and heart have been open to me since I first met you an I have loved being welcomed there so openly! Your joy in the sweet simple things in life is contagious! Hugs to you!

So now, I will pass these 2 awards jointly to the following inspirational, smart, thoughtful women and their beautiful, uplifting blogs:

  • Toni (A Spattering) - Toni is an INCREDIBLE artist/calligrapher/naturalist and all around wonderful lady I have the privilege of knowing through blogging for quite a while now. Check out this gorgeous butterfly painting as just one recent example of her awesome talent. Thanks Toni for sharing your view of the world with all of us!
  • Erin (White Shoes) - I am so glad to have found Erin Sherman's little home on the web through our joint affiliation with Illustration Friday. Her art is so fresh and cool (and CUTE) - Check out the detail in her latest work for IF's "Grow" topic - love all those neat textures! And here's an ode to absolute cuteness! But it's as much the message behind the images that inspires me, and for that, Erin, I thank you!
  • Tracey (Notes From a Cottage Industry) - This entrepreneurial genius of a woman is a real inspiration to me in so many ways! She can turn ordinary junk into fabulous treasures with such grace, and she is very generous with sharing her tips and tricks. And from her kid's weddings to the Tumbleweed Cotillion - this gal can plan an event - my oh my - the glorious details! On top of it all, she always takes the time to reflect with her weekly "Words to Live By". Thanks Tracey!
  • Geninne (Geninne's Art Blog) - This incredible, colorful artisan and craftsman scatters delight and sunshine with everything she creates. From her elegant watercolors to her finely sewn crafts, Geninne's work always inspires and uplifts! This latest commissioned trio of Scripture-inspired images is my kind of art - LOVE them! And an extra-special congratrulations to Geninne, who's artwork for "Open" was selected as one of the top 25 illustrations for an Illustration Friday gallery show in November...apparently there are a lot of other of Geninne's peers who think her work is awesome! Congrats Geninne, and thank you!


Those are just a few of the many, many wonderful men and women who inspire me daily out here in the wonderful world of Blogland - please explore my ever-growing set of links for lots more! And thank YOU for taking time out of your busy day or night to stop by here and look in on my little spot out here in the universe - it truly means the world to me!! Hugs and blessings to you all!!

Becky S.

Belated Birthday Blessings!

Happy (Belated) Birthday Baby!!

Johnny at 4 (too cute!!)

My Hubby the Hunk

My Baby the Drummer

Well, my sweet Hubby has been so sick with a terrible cold and cough, and now I am sick too, so it's not been the most fun Birthday season ever, but I didn't want any more time to pass without sharing a special Birthday Blessing for Johnny with all of you! I am so crazy about this guy!! He is not only a very talented drummer, singer, songwriter, electrician, mechanic, carpenter and all around super-handyman, but he is a wonderful Dad and "PaPa John" to his kids and grandkids, beloved son-in-law and brother-in-law to my family, and a good-looking, hopeless romantic, ultra-gentleman, best friend and super-sweetheart to me. Best of all, he loves the Lord and loves His Word with all his heart! I just wanted to take a moment to brag on him to all of you and let you know how very blessed I am to have found this incredible man!!

Happy Birthday Baby!! Here's to many, many more birthdays together!!

Johnny and I at the Conroe Cajun Catfish Festival

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Illustration Friday: Extremes

The topic this week for Illustration Friday ("Extremes") was a bit of a tough one in my opinion - but I finally struck upon an idea that seemed to fit: the seemingly never-ending struggle to achieve balance with food. My tendencies in the past were to go from one extreme (eating just about anything) to the other (starving myself). Neither extreme is healthy. So, for me, balance is the key to healthy eating. Crazy diets and deprivation tactics may score some quick results, but are not sustainable long-term. So, what I'm striving for is to hold the line on the eating extremes and make healthier choices one day at a time. It's tough, but it is doable with God's help...

Well, all this drawing and writing about food has made me hungry - I'm thinking pizza and a cupcake are sounding pretty good right about now - HELP!!


"I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength."

Philippians 4:11-13 (NLT)


And just for grins.....


“A balanced diet is a cookie in each hand”



"Probably nothing in the world arouses more false hopes than the first four hours of a diet.”

Dan Bennett


“Vegetables are a must on a diet. I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread, and pumpkin pie.”

Jim Davis


“The second day of a diet is always easier than the first. By the second day you're off it.”

Jackie Gleason


"The only time to eat diet food is while you're waiting for the steak to cook”

Julia Child

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Illustration Friday: Open

(Please click image to see detail)

This is a special week for Illustration Friday participants - the topic is "Open", and for the first time ever, viewers will be allowed to vote for their 5 favorite designs! The top 25 overall will get to show their illustrations at an exclusive IF show at "Open" - an art gallery and bookstore in Long Beach, California opening on November 3rd. The voting will be open for 2 weeks. Click here to read more details and get in on the fun! There are a LOT of really great pieces this week - don't miss out!

When I saw that the topic was "open", I thought of everything from the mundane to the sublime, but it was ultimately the word "wonder" along with "open" that provided the initial inspiration for this piece. We are surrounded by wonder and beauty in everyday things and ordinary people - if we would just open our eyes to see it. Likewise, possibilities for our lives are wide open if we would just open our minds to them - dare to dream, take a chance... Finally, many times, from fear or lingering pain, we close ourselves off from love - it's too fraught with peril, too risky we say... but if we would open ourselves up to love - to receive it and to give it, we would find that the rewards FAR outweigh the risks!


"There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear..."
1 John 4:18

"We love because he first loved us."
1 John 4:19

"Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart."
Psalm 37:4

"What a wildly wonderful world, God! You made it all, with Wisdom at your side, made earth overflow with your wonderful creations."
Psalm 104:24

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Hope-lessly Addicted!

Yep - I am one Hope-lessly addicted Grandma!! :o) Mommy Jill just sent new photos of Princess Hope in her LSU cheerleader outfit!! Too cute!! So I played around with the image and made this little cheerleader layout- fun!!
I am also now hopelessly addicted to LSU football - (we're the number one team in the nation!! ) Not only are all the kids big fans (living just 20 minutes from Baton Rouge), but John's 2nd daughter Tanya is a senior there. Sooooo - Geaux (that's Cajun for "go") Tigers!!!!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Illustration for Baby Hope

(Click image to see a larger version)
Just wanted to share a scan of the illustration I did for Baby Hope (see previous post for the latest photos of that sweet little beauty). Each of the characters/designs in the illustration correspond with a letter in her name. I've done this type of design before and it is so much fun to do (especially thinking up the items to draw for each letter)! I did this on an 11"x 14" piece of illustration board using pen and ink and colored pencil. We had it framed in a creamy white shabby-style frame and it now hangs in Hope's bedroom. (I completely forgot to take a photo of it framed...of well) Since I have a good scan of the image, I can also head over to Cafepress and put it on a little baby t-shirt, a bib, a mousepad, a mug, etc - oh the possibilities!
Ain't being a grandma fun!!

Photos to Share: Our Fabulous Weekend in Louisiana!

Huge oak trees arching over the road in Plaquemine, Louisiana


Hubby and I had a WONDERFUL trip to Louisiana this past weekend to see the kids and grandkids! On the way down last Wednesday after work we stayed at the gorgeous new farmhouse (on 7 wonderful acres) of some dear friends of mine, Connie and Buddy, whom I have known since High School. Since their home was on our route and Buddy had not yet met John, it was a perfect opportunity to make introductions and spend some quality time with them. Alas, I was so caught up in visiting that I completely neglected to take any photos of their place or their lovely family...but I certainly will the next time we go. (you GOTTA see their place!) But as a form of introduction, you might be interested to read the ongoing saga of their current project in their side-business (buying and restoring homes for investment property). Connie is writing this as a multi-installment article for, a cool virtual collecting and home design magazine. Her series is called Reno-Nation and her writing style is hilarious! She's in the process of planning and starting a blog, and as soon as that's up and running, I'll be sure to link to it - can't wait!


Then Thursday we were on our way again - looking forward to finally getting to see and hold and smell (ahhh baby smell) little Princess Hope - the star attraction of our visit. Isn't she just lovely! And she's such a good baby!!

Proud "Papa John" (as the grandkids call him)


I just had to share a few silly photos I took at breakfast on Friday morning. We ate at Earl's place, the Wag a Sac in Plaquemine...

I took so many, I had to make a little montage... (I think the folks in there thought I was from the Health Department the way I was snapping away with the camera - but we set them straight)

That was one incredible breakfast - not for the faint of heart nor for those watching their cholesterol!!! The biscuits were unbelievably huge and incredibly delicious! And the grits - to die for!!!

Then, there was an old cookbook in a kettle that caught my eye (you can see it in the montage above), so I had to get a closer look - it was called "How to Cook Everything" by Mark Bittman. "Everything, huh?" I said to myself - "Let's see". So I opened it up and flipped through - once I saw this recipe for Grilled Octopus I thought "yep, that about covers it!"...

Don't say I never share recipes on this blog! :o)


Well, Friday night we got together with all the kids and grands and had a wonderful joint celebration for Kane's (Hope's brother) and Papa John's birthdays. (John's actual birthday is next week, but this was their only opportunity to celebrate with him until Christmas)

Kane enjoyed his cake (or should I say his icing) immensely...


Saturday morning, we headed over to see Drayk's soccer game (Drayk is Kane and Hope's older brother). His team won 7 to 0!!!!! Go Drayk!!

I was so impressed by Jill, the mom of these 3 beautiful children - she handles all the pressures of having 3 little ones with such grace...she is amazing...(so is Daddy Ryan, but he was working overtime this Saturday)


There was much more that happened this weekend- lots of family stuff that I don't have photos for or room to share here (tour of Travis' Paint and Body shop, Lunch with Tanya, lots of BBQ, Leah's plans to open a Pet Boarding business, the upcoming soap box derby, gandkids' various activities, etc). Suffice to say, a big vibrant family has a lot going on...

I am so blessed to have married into such a wonderful, beautiful family!!

My cup runneth over...

Monday, October 01, 2007

Illustration Friday: The Blues

I got the "Too Many Blues to Choose" Blues...

Since this week's Illustration Friday topic was "The Blues", I thought I would illustrate a bit of my current frustration at picking a blue paint color for the walls in our bedroom. There are just too many blues to choose from - "Nordic Ice" to "Rainforest Sky", and every conceivable shade in between! I think I have it narrowed down to about 3-5 swatches now - but that could all change once I start painting them on the wall - they always look different on the wall...

Here are some of the blue accessories I have been collecting in anticipation of having a blue bedroom - you can see the massive swatch collection too...HELP!!

And here's an illustration I did for Illustration Friday in 2005 for "Blue" - it combines some of the shades of blue that I really love along with some of my favorite things...

Finally, here's some inspiration that's sure to help you shake the blues...
"You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand." Psalm 16:11

"Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God." Psalm 42:11

"Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days." Psalm 90:14

"When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul." Psalm 94:19

"Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy." Psalm 126:5

"A cheerful look brings joy to the heart, and good news gives health to the bones." Proverbs 15:30

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." Romans 15:13