Thursday, August 15, 2013

Three New Paintings and Five New Pounds

We've been back home from the Cape for three and a half weeks now and have attended to a lot of things during this time.

I've managed to finish some paintings, mentally begin planning our Hawaii trip, and gain about 5 pounds. If I really tell the truth it might be more than five. Are french fries and ice cream really that bad for you?

A bit different than most of the work I've done so far. I've turned this painting into cards. 
I saw these three snorkeling ladies at a beach park in Kauai last October. They just looked like a fun group, I had to try to capture them in watercolors.

A little rowboat sitting waiting at a little hidden harbor in Truro, Massachusetts.
I imagine sitting in this little rowboat, drifting through the harbor on a quiet Tuesday morning. Why Tuesday? The weekend is too busy, Monday is too close to Sunday. By Tuesday things would certainly be quieter, right?

A large stately beach house in Falmouth, Massachusetts, looking out to sea.
This house that sits directly facing the ocean has large covered porches. Wouldn't it be nice to sit here with a quilt as the October chill settled in? Or on a foggy November morning with a hot cup of tea? I love the ocean in the 'off season'.

We still have more on our to do list here, appointments, celebrations, projects, before we head back to Cape Cod for another visit. This one will be shorter, but most likely not our last.

For now....

Friday, June 21, 2013

Slices of Summer Life on Cape Cod

Bike rides and beach days, lobster rolls and fried clams, farmers markets, art galleries and concerts on the lawn.

What a blessing it is to spend the summer slowly exploring Cape Cod. Growing up and raising my own family in Massachusetts, I spent plenty of time on the Cape over the years. But the visits were short, a weekend here, a day trip, maybe a ten day stretch once or twice.

But now it's different. As the saying goes, "for every thing, there is a season." This season is more than summer. It's summer, plus retirement, plus a seasonal campsite on Cape Cod.

Our not too fancy summer home.

This summer will be low key, with no real agenda. There is no need to feel rushed to fit in all that this special place has to offer. Sure, the summer will still fly by, it always does when you live in a northern climate.

Our camper, set up for the season in Truro, will be our home. The dogs have adjusted and have even found new friends at the local doggie day care. Periodic trips back home to New Hampshire for picking up mail, attending to business and minor household needs will happen of course. And as quick as can be, we will be making our way back across the bridge to the ocean.

Here is a taste of what draws visitors to the Cape year after year.

Walkway to Corn Hill Beach, Truro, MA

Vendor's cart at the Wellfleet Farmer's Market . Every Wednesday behind Preservation Hall.

Wellfleet Farmer's Market.

Oyster beds at Rock Harbor, Orleans.

Coast Guard Beach, North Truro, just a mile from our campsite.

Happy dogs at Coast Guard Beach.

Whatever summer means to you, and wherever it takes you, enjoy!


Read Our Summer Cape Cod Chronicles Here...

Monday, June 3, 2013

Cape Cod Camping and 115 Pounds of Wet Dog Smell

It's 5 am Monday morning on Cape Cod and I awake to the sound of rain beating down on our camping trailer. The sound is unmistakeable and always brings me back to my childhood.

The first camping trip that my memory held onto was in a pop-up camper with a hard top roof. To me and my five siblings the sound of raindrops hitting the camper roof sounded like an enormous batch of popcorn being popped. We didn't mind being huddled inside, playing board games, or trying to fall asleep snug inside our sleeping bags. And when I say we, I don't include my parents here for obvious reasons.

I think back to having a camper full of kids, and the rains came. Or a tent full of kids, and the rains came. Perhaps this is where patience, or the ability to tune-out, is learned.

Fast forward almost fifty years from that first camping trip. The sound of popcorn on the camper means something different now. It means by 5:30 am I give up on trying to get back to sleep. It means searching for the poncho that I know I saw hidden in some little nook or cranny. It means taking two dogs outside on a leash to do their morning business. The 14 pound Jack Russell is sure to find a spot quickly so she can get back inside. The 100 pound Lab/Wolfhound mix will wander around and around, barely feeling the rain on her thick coat, as though we had all morning to sniff the grass, investigate the birds, and find a delightful spot on which to empty her bladder. After all this, the rain also means, Wet Dog Smell.

A beach towel to dry off as much of the two critters as possible and a pot of hot coffee for me and we are back in business. But Wet Dog Smell remains.

Fortunately for us though, we are at a time in our life that allows for flexibility. Do we really want to spend a day cooped up with two dogs in tight quarters? Especially with one of us fighting the remains of a nasty cold? Don't forget Wet Dog Smell. They will need to go out several more times during the forecasted All Day Rain. In a few hours we can be back at home, and make plans to return to the Cape in a week's time.

The camper can air out the Wet Dog Smell. We can gather the rest of our 'must have' items for an enjoyable summer season camping in Truro, just a mile from the beach. Items like a bike that is sized for a 5'4" female, a hammock for long naps with the ocean breeze on your skin, and a season supply of beach towels and lavender spray. Wet Dog Smell is sure to return.

Read our Cape Cod Summer Chronicles Here...

Friday, May 10, 2013

Find One Thing and Do It Well

Find one thing and do it well.

I'm corralling the horses, focusing the lens, setting aside the extraneous.

This is the plan, however loosely laid out, to stretch myself to my personal limits and then try to step beyond. I rediscovered painting a few years ago, but have not given it the attention it is due. I've dabbled. I've not focused.

I'm trying to avoid the "Jack of all trades, master of none" syndrome. Not that there is anything wrong with enjoying a wide array of creative pursuits. But at this point, for me, I know I am not focusing because I have not been willing to step up to more challenging work.

"Do one thing every day that scares you." Eleanor Roosevelt.

New online Etsy shop, Double Nickels Studio, filled with art; originals, prints, and cards.

This new direction has also meant changing my online shop to focus on art related items, taken from my paintings and illustrations. 

No longer will I maintain The Shop Up North on Etsy, in which could be found a wide number of different offerings, from art prints to vendor aprons to vintage books. 

My re-focused online presence, still with Etsy, is Double Nickels Studio. I hope this change will be more encouragement to focus on my art, and help me stretch my boundaries a bit. 

None of this will happen overnight, old habits and all. And it certainly doesn't mean that I will abandon the occasional flea market trip (Wellfleet Flea Market, I'll be there this summer!) It's more of a simplifying or cleansing. Feels okay when I put it like that!

Have you found your one thing?

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Imagine a World....

Dear Friend,

I am participating in a local American Cancer Society Relay for Life event with members of my family. You probably know that this event raises funds to fight cancer, both by research and by offering programs to help patients and families during treatment.

I am walking for many reasons, some very close to my heart.

  • I want my grandchildren to live in a world free from cancer. I bet you do too.
  • I never want to see the look of despair in a loved one's eyes again.
  • I want all children to have a childhood full of swing sets, baseball games, and school dances. Not hospital rooms, IV tubes, and lost hair.
  • I walk because patients and families need the support of the ACS to cope with the long and difficult road that a cancer diagnosis brings.

At times it may seem insurmountable, like cancer is just too big for us to fight and win.  But it's not. Together WE ARE STRONGER. Advances are being made all the time, in large part because people like you and me, and events like the Relay For Life.

I imagine a day that my grandchildren look back at this time and say "Oh, I remember that Relay for Life thing.  That's when there was still cancer.  Glad they finally found a cure!"

If you have cancer, or you love someone that does, I walk for you. I hope you will consider a donation to my team. Thank you.


I will periodically post information about some personal fund raising I will be doing. I hope you will help by sharing my links when possible!

For now, you can go here to my personal American Cancer Society Relay for Life page!

We are the Imperial Walkers. 

Can you tell that our team captains (my two sons) are Star Wars fans?

Thank you all!

***UPDATE: I am thinning out my book collection and selling the books on Ebay, the proceeds are going to our team. Take a look if you would! Ebay Book Sale!

Linking with
Mercantile Muse

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

January....You've Been a Roller Coaster

The January Roller Coaster.

We are just about ready to close out January 2013. How quickly it has passed.

For me January has been a roller coaster of energy and lethargy, of creative bursts and black hole sludge, lofty project goals and 'can't get out of my own way' days.

Maybe it's the New England cold, or the extra few pounds that are hanging on for dear life. Maybe I need to accept the fact that each new year brings an adjustment period. Is it this way with you too?

January, you've provided me enough time to adjust to some new things, new ideas, new challenges. The question is this: will February be the start of rising to those challenges? Or still find me fumbling around in the black hole?

A quick look at some of what is in store for 2013.

(The following images are from
Love Laugh Crafts
My hubby and I have just gotten on board with a wonderful new program at our church.

Beanie Bird
Our sixth grandson will arrive in April! Can't wait for you Jack!

N Hayes Designs
Our youngest daughter will be married in May!

Brandi Fitzgerald
We hope to spend more time this summer (unlike last summer) at the camper that we 
share with my brother on Cape Cod.

I hope to do more painting, more exercising, less mindless snacking, more praying, more sharing, more playing, less worrying.

Is it too late to say Happy New Year? Twenty thirteen, I'm ready now. 

Keep Shining!

Friday, December 7, 2012

You Don't Need a Million Bucks to Make Someone Feel Like a Million Bucks

A Dozen Ways to Brighten Someone's Day on a Budget...or....

You Don't Need a Million Bucks to Make Someone Feel Like a Million Bucks

This is the time of year that hopefully brings out the best in people. But sometimes the stress of the season can do just the opposite. Taking a minute from your day and giving thanks for the blessings you have can do wonders. It also may inspire you to pay a small kindness to a friend, acquaintance, or stranger. Sometimes just a small gesture is all it takes to brighten someone's day. Here is a dozen ideas to get us started!

1. Have a hot cup of coffee and a muffin waiting for the bus driver that picks up your kids for school.

2. Give a handful of subway tokens to the receptionist in your office building.

3. Save someone from a parking ticket by inserting some coins into a ready to expire parking meter.

4. Bring the coupon booklets from the Sunday paper to the supermarket and put them in the shopping baskets.

5. Bring your gently read paperbacks to a senior center.

6. Pay for a coffee for the person behind you at the drive through. My daughter does this :)

7. Promote a local business on Facebook, mention the owner or salesperson that helped you. Posting a photo of what you bought is even better!

8. Write a letter to a company to let them know about an employee that gave you outstanding service.

9. Anonymously mail a supermarket gift card to a neighbor or co-worker who is struggling financially. Enclose a note that just says 'thinking of you'.

10. Expecting a UPS or FedEx delivery? Tie a package of cookies to the door and label it "For my UPS driver! Thanks a bunch!" With tracking numbers, you pretty much know when to expect a delivery.

11. Take an elderly neighbor out for coffee some morning.

12. Help out a single parent. Invite the kids over some night for a Christmas movie and popcorn, so Mom (or Dad) can get some gifts wrapped.

I hope you feel the warmth and inner joy of the Christmas season today!

Blessings and light to you!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Shop Local, Shop Handmade

Tis the season to shop local and shop handmade!

I'm out and about visiting craft fairs and small local shops in my area. It's nice to explore and find little out of the way places to buy gifts for those on my 'Nice' list.

Today's find was The Craftworker's Guild in Bedford, New Hampshire. This was only a 25 minute drive from my home. They have a great shop behind the library. It also is a group I may join and therefore be able to display and sell some of my artwork. I love chatting with the shopkeepers and other artists and crafters. I find that we have so much in common.
Craftworker's Guild of Bedford, located behind the Bedford NH library.
I purchased two handmade puppets for two of my grandsons. For real imaginative play!

The other part of exploring new places is the ride home. I try not to take the interstate, but instead I navigate through the back country roads and find the trip much more enjoyable.

Shopping handmade online would be easy if only I could decide among the hundreds and hundreds of cool, one of a kind, beyond the ordinary items that I have found. 
From Eight Little Fingers Shop

But I did decide on this adorable set, again puppets. It must be my theme this year. It's from Eight Little Fingers shop on Etsy.

From Aleksandra Nagrant, Etsy shop.

And this adorable dragon hat is from the craft fair that  I participated in. Aleksandra had a space across from me. Her crocheted hats are adorable! She also has an Etsy shop.

I've still got a few items that I am currently working on to add to my collection for Double Nickels Studio.
From The Shop Up North

I've also put some of my items in a new collaborative handmade shop in Concord NH, called Wonder Made.

Wonder Made, artisan collaborative, Concord, NH.

These hard working young women are determined to make this new shop a success!

So where are your holiday dollars going this year?

Here's to 
Shop Local - Shop Handmade!

Linking to :

Enjoy the season!

Friday, November 16, 2012

DIY Display Panel for Art or Craft Fair

I stepped a bit outside my comfort zone recently and participated in my first craft fair.

Since I delayed making a decision to do this fair, I was left with only a week to prepare my artwork, cards, and a display of some sort.

I definitely did not want to just lay my framed artwork on a table so I searched for an affordable display set up that I could put together myself.

Lucky for me I happened upon Feathers and Fern Studio. Clever lady! She put together panels using wooden screen doors from Home Depot. Definitely check out her tutorial. I followed it, but changed a few things to make it work for me.

I also gathered insight from Pam at Mercantile Muse. She put together a two part post about Making the Most Out of Fairs. Good reading for sure, and lots of photos for examples. Nice job Pam!

Wooden screen door from Home Depot $20
Hardware Cloth from Home Depot 36" x 15' , $16. I used this instead of metal screening for two reasons. Weight and cost. I was only going to make two panels to start with and this was the perfect size. It's plastic, but very strong.
Staple the Hardware Cloth to the frame of the door.
Here are two panels after stapling black felt around front and back. Use drapery hooks to hang your work. The sharp pointy end will go nicely through the felt and hang onto the plastic mesh screen.

And if, like me, you are cursed with white dog hair in your home, prepare to spend days with a lint roller. In fact, bring one with you to your event to keep your display looking tidy!

The two panels hinged together were fairly sturdy, but I put the corner of a small table next to one side just for added security.

One note:
I may actually cut this down by about 8 inches because it is a bit too long to fit in my car. I had to use a bungie cord to keep the hatch of my 'crossover' vehicle down. Unfortunately that meant that the "door open dinging" alarm never shut off the entire drive to the fair. Thankfully, it was only about a 10 minute drive! It came home in hubby's truck.:)
The best part of the craft fair was having my sister hang out with me for the day! Since she lives far away, it is something we don't get the chance to do very often.I was happy that I sold some note card sets and some framed artwork. All of these are available in my Etsy Shop* too, as well as art prints and other upcylcled items.
So now that I have taken the first step, I am likely to take another soon. And I will be ready.

In the meantime, I've linked The Shop Up North and this post with the gathering of blogs and Etsy shops at:

*Update: since this post I have made changes to my Etsy shop, renaming it to Double Nickels Studio and limiting the items to art pieces. And I've changed the packaging on my cards as well. 

Pop on over!
Let Your Light Shine!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Looking for Simplicity

It's a work in progress. Simplicity, that is.

I'm in the midst of trying to create a studio/office space that is both soothing and functional.

It is no easy task. The letting go of 'stuff' can be difficult. But it also can be exhilarating! 

These are the four questions I ask myself when faced with the decision to toss or keep:
1. What is the worst thing that could happen if I toss it and should have kept it?
2. What would be the cost to replace the item (if possible) if I ever should need it again?
3. If it's a memory keepsake, is there another way to keep and honor the memory without having to keep the 'thing'?
4. Is there someone (person or organization) that could benefit from having this instead of me hanging on to it needlessly.
Most of the time the answers to these questions are clear, and the decision is therefore easier.

I'm taking the first step, I'm learning to let go. A work in progress.


Let your light shine,