Saturday, December 20, 2014

5 Days and Counting

Was anyone else shocked when they noticed the date on the calendar this morning? Christmas has really snuck up on me this year. I've done very little to prepare, have only sent a present to my mother, and have written no Christmas cards. 

Perhaps it's age, could be wisdom, most likely it's a form of apathy. In any event, I'm not overly worried about it and have decided to relax and just let the season wash over me like a gentle breeze. 

We've been blessed with mild-ish temperatures the last few weeks. Even the chickens have had several outdoor days. 

I decided to pick up my camera, blow the dust off it and take Luna and Willow for a little stroll around the property today.

I was delighted to discover that Mother Nature has been busy decorating.

How are you coping with the approaching holiday season?

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Change is in the Air

I've been going through a period of upheaval in my life lately. Change is afoot and I'm not completely on board. It's too early to divulge any of the details, many of which haven't even been determined yet. The bottom line is, I'm not ready. And, therein lays the problem.

So, I do what I do in times like these. I ask for divine guidance, I watch for signs, I eat comfort foods.

I don't know if the approaching solstice has anything to do with any of this or if the Universe has simply determined that I've become too complacent and content with my life as it is. All the recent emotional turbulence has had me reflecting on the word I chose for 2014, though - Gentle.

For the first time since starting this practice 5 years ago, I don't feel that I've really lived into my Annual Word. There have been moments of gentleness, sure, the truth is though, I don't feel I can honestly lay claim to Gentle as my word for 2014. At the close of 2013, I waffled a lot, choosing and discarding 2 or 3 other words before finally settling on this one in late January. Upon reflection, I don't feel I really had a guiding word for 2014, after all. 2014 will have to be recorded in my personal annuls as a Wordless Year.

All of which has me approaching the practice of choosing an Annual Word with some trepidation. Please, God, don't make it too hard.

I'm interviewing candidates, looking for a word I can wrap myself around, chew on, and digest in 2015. There are a couple of worthy contenders and, interestingly enough, they have similar meanings. Even (and this is where it gets really interesting), when I close my eyes, and randomly choose a word from the dictionary. Freaky. 

I'll continue to cast my net in the coming days before partnering up with and committing to an appropriate muse for the next 365 days.

Did you have a word in 2014? Have you chosen a new one for 2015? I'd love to hear.

Monday, December 01, 2014

Crystal Chandelier

I took this photograph in a restaurant we visited while on vacation in Vancouver this past May.

I loved this playful, creative take on the traditional crystal chandelier. Don't you think that would be a lovely way to display those mismatched crystal glasses that seem to accumulate in our cupboards?

* * * 

And so we arrive at Day Five of my 5 Day Black and White Photo Challenge.  I've thoroughly enjoyed this exercise. It requires a different eye and a different thought process to photograph in black and white. I think I'll be doing more of this style in the future.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Elegant Beauty

I reworked this photograph I took last year into a black and white image. I love the stark and dramatic sculptural quality and texture of this flower. Even in death, it still offered itself up to the wild birds that came to feed in the dead of winter and there's an elegant beauty in that.

* * * 

Day Four of my 5 Day Black and White Photo Challenge.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Luna Black and White

I love this girl something fierce. My constant companion, she's equal parts intrepid explorer, playful imp, deep thinker, accomplished hunter, loyal friend, and cuddler extraordinaire. And, she doesn't seem to mind having a camera in her face.

* * * 

Day Three of my 5 Day Black and White Photo Challenge.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A Melancholy Scent

The other day, I caught the unmistakable scent of pine tree when my husband and I approached a local big box store and I felt a little melancholy. 

I love the wide open spaces of my new prairie province and miss the grandeur and majesty of my home province of British Columbia. 

This pine cone is one of only a few that I brought with me when we moved.

* * * 

Day Two of the 5 Day B&W Photo Challenge.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Black and White Christmas

As November swiftly draws to a close, I find my thoughts turning to Christmas and, as they do every year, I dream of days spent in cozy comfort. A fire blazing in the fireplace, a cat snoozing beside me, and a fresh dusting of snow gently carpeting the landscape beyond our windows.

* * *

I've been nominated to participate in the 5 Days of Black and White Photo Challenge on Facebook and will share my images here, as well.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

A Taste of Summer

What does this look like to you?

I'll bet it looks a lot like an oasis in the desert to my chickens; a short vacation in the sun. 

I'm looking forward to watching them sink their little toes into this grass while they enjoy a tasty treat today.

May the day bring unexpected joys your way today!

Monday, November 17, 2014

My First Art Show

Some of you have asked how it went at the holiday show I participated in this past weekend.

It was something I'd never done before and I didn't get a lot of advance notice, so I only had a small offering of my work to display. This is a photo I took with my phone of my little shop that I set up in a corner of the gallery.

It was a bitterly cold day and that may have accounted for the low attendance. Nevertheless, I sold a few cards and generally had a good experience. I met a few artists and a fellow who is building a non-profit business that supports local artists in my area. They host art shows and will be partnering with some established events next year, so I became a member. 

Interestingly enough, I found that I experienced more stress and anxiety after the show than I did before or during it. Someone told me that Brene Brown calls that a 'vulnerability hangover'. I think that's a pretty accurate assessment.

All in all, I'm happy - I showed up, I did my best, and I had some fun. 

***Contrary to what I've indicated in my settings, Blogger has put word verification on my comments. Please bear with me, while I do my best to rectify that.

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Simplest Scarf You Ever Did See

The other day I got this overwhelming urge to knit something. Perhaps it was the sudden drop in temperatures outside, or the need to create, or simply the desire for something new to wear. Whatever the reason, I was moved to dig out my knitting needles and some yarn and knit.

Now, I'm not a knitter. I pick up stitches, lose count, and sizing? - forget about it! So, the challenge was for me to find a way to satisfy my need to knit while not wasting my time completely.

It's been years since I last attempted to knit something, so I needed a refresher on a few of the basics. The Knitting Help website is an excellent resource, with short, easy to follow instructional videos that'll have you knitting like a pro in under 5 minutes. 

I decided to knit myself a scarf because I figured it couldn't get any easier than that and since I didn't have a pattern, I simply made it up as I went along. 

For those of you who are equally challenged with knitting needles, I humbly present the instructions for The Simplest Scarf You Ever Did See so you can create your own: 

The Simplest Scarf You Ever Did See.

I used 5 1/2 mm. knitting needles, approx. 2 balls of 50 g. (1 3/4 oz.) cotton yarn, wool needle, and ribbon. *I made the scarf long enough to be able to wrap it around my neck once. You can adjust the width and length according to your own preferences.

Cast on 35 stitches
5 rows stocking stitch (a row of knit, a row of pearl)
3 rows reverse stocking stitch (the opposite of above)
3 rows stocking stitch
3 rows reverse stocking stitch
Repeat previous 4 steps 2x
14 rows stocking stitch
3 rows reverse stocking stitch
3 rows stocking stitch
3 rows reverse stocking stitch
Repeat previous 4 steps 10x 
14 rows stocking stitch 
3 rows reverse stocking stitch
3 rows stocking stitch
3 rows reverse stocking stitch
5 rows stocking stitch
Repeat all 2x
Bind off.

Thread a length of ribbon on the wool needle and weave it through the stocking stitch section between the two rows of reverse stocking stitch. Tie off the ends and leave them to hang loose slightly beyond the border of the scarf.


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

First Snowfall

Winter has arrived in our little world. How do I know this? Because my feet are perpetually cold.

That, and we got our first snowfall of the season yesterday. It was hovering around 0 degrees Celsius (32 degrees Fahrenheit), which isn't bad, but the wind was what they call "breezy" here - gusts of 55 km/hr (34 mi/hr) and that makes it feel significant colder.

I kept the girls inside all day, the first full day of confinement since they were mere balls of fluff. They managed to keep themselves occupied and it was a good test run for the harsh weather yet to come.

Today, the weather is still hovering around 0 degrees Celsius, but there's no wind to speak of, which makes it an altogether different experience. Everyone was eager to get outside and get some fresh air. They didn't seem too fazed by the white stuff and proceeded to scratch and peck around, as usual. 

The temperatures are predicted to rise later this week, for which we will all be very grateful. I'm praying for a mild season.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Taking a Leap

Abandoned Wagon
Original Photograph
© Carolynn Anctil 2014

I've committed to participating in an exhibition/sale on the weekend of November 15th, hosted by a new gallery in town. I have no idea what to expect, however the gallery owner described it to me as an "Open House/Craft Show/Tea and Cookie type day. Low key, meet the artists, buy holiday gifts, see the space" type of event.

I feel completely out of my depth. Eeeeeek!

And, I'm going to do it anyway.

It's terribly short notice, so I'm scrambling to prepare. I've elected to work with a new printer/framer who lives two hours away from me - (everything is 2 hours away here, it seems, but that's a story for another day). I sincerely hope he lives up to my admittedly high standards. 

It's a freakishly steep learning curve I'm on, right now, and that's both exhilarating and terrifying. I'm doing my utmost to breathe and not succumb to panic. Unfortunately, I won't have a lot to display, however, I will have a portfolio on hand and, if nothing else, I'll have gained some experience and shown my work to a wider audience.

It's also forcing me to address a few organizational details of my fledgling business that I put aside to deal with later.  This past summer was all about chickens and gardening and my creative pursuits were placed on the back burner. Consequently, there's a lot to do between now and then and my checklist keeps growing instead of shrinking.  

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

New Prices Coming Soon!

Good Morning, Sunshine
Original Photograph
© Carolynn Anctil

It has recently been brought to my attention that I have been pricing my artwork too low. Consequently, over the next few weeks, I will be re-pricing my original photography and watercolour illustrations at significantly higher prices. 

If you've been sitting on the fence, thinking about making a purchase, now would be the time to act to get it at current prices.  I would be more than happy to produce prints from anything you've seen here on my blog, however, they will reflect the new pricing.

Don't hesitate to contact me if you have any questions. My e-mail address is listed on the sidebar.

Thanks for your support!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Monster Eggs and Other Musings

I'm going to go ahead and flatter myself into believing that anyone has noticed my absence here recently. Both my husband and I have been experiencing a general malaise lately, a lack of initiative and a great deal of lethargy.  I think we're fighting off some kind of virulent disease that's being spread around. I've chosen to just go with it and enjoy a bit of down time to read and relax and nap, if I feel the urge to.

Our hens, however, have been laying in earnest and one of them is laying Monster Eggs. This one weighed in at a whopping 2.8 oz. They're marvelous creatures, these birds.

To hop back to my original thought, I just finished reading The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, on the advice of friends. I found it to be thoroughly engaging and uniquely creative. The author's skill with word manipulation was a delight, as well. I will be reading it again, at some future date.

I've turned to Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods for my entertainment pleasure next and am enjoying it immensely. I'm about half way through and I can already say with a great deal of confidence that I'm very glad he and his pal Katz elected to walk the Appalachian Trail, because there is no way in hell I will ever do it.

If you have a favourite book(s) you'd like to recommend, please share it in the comments section. I'm always on the lookout for a good read and we have long winters. Just sayin'...

I hope to be back in good health, full of vim and vigor, soon. In the meantime, for all my Canadian friends, Happy Thanksgiving. All others, have a great weekend wherever you are with whatever you're doing.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Vintage Season

With autumn's undeniable arrival, I'm feeling a distinctive turning inward.

My creative interests, left to lay dormant during the warm summer months, are beginning to stretch and yawn their way into my daily life again.

I'm feeling a pull to sit quietly and write and illustrate and make things.

I'm very impressed with the hardy nature our chickens are already displaying. Even on the coldest, most blustery days, they're out in the run pecking and scratching and enjoying dust baths.

We're consistently getting a minimum of 4 eggs a day now and as many as six. They're still small, but it's unbelievably thrilling nonetheless. Pearl, for his part, is proving to be very protective of his girls.

What personal shifts are you noticing as the seasons transition again?

Monday, September 22, 2014

Weekend Sights

The Frenchman and I loaded Willow into the car on Sunday and went exploring. We were delighted to discover that autumn has been painting the landscape with a warm and lively palette.

"When before the beauty of a sunset or a mountain, you pause and 
exclaim, "Ah", you are participating in divinity."
Joseph Campbell

"If you go out and watch nature closely, 
you will find something so joyful that it will completely fill you."
Marjolein Bastin, Artist

"Let us spend our lives chasing the tiny moments of grace, that hide in borrowed breaths, 
stolen glances, and the last instance before smiling lips come to rest."
Tyler Knott Gregson

Happy Monday. Go have a fabulous week!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Happy Birthday, Willow.

Our Willow is 3 years old today. She had a rough start, what with the trauma surgery she underwent at 4 months of age that left her with a scar that stretches from her belly button to her chest. We're proud to say that she made a full recovery and has never yet had to wear the cone of shame.

She's grown into a lovely young girl. Sweet natured and playful, gentle and intelligent, we love her more than she will ever know. 

Happy Birthday, Willow.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

We Got an Egg!

I'm happy to announce we got our first egg late yesterday afternoon.  I don't know who the proud momma is, but I did hear her proclaim her accomplishment to the world at large.

It's a pullet egg, so it's quite small, but I think it's perfect in every way.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Our Fresh New House

It seems that I'm more motivated to cocoon when autumn begins than I am to spring clean. When the weather beckons, I'm more likely to head outdoors and visa versa.

I've been busy with a paintbrush the last several days and I will have given nearly every wall a fresh coat of colour. We've used Benjamin Moore paint throughout.

Let's begin in the kitchen. The previous owners put a deep, warm yellow on these walls and we opted to keep it. Even though most of the kitchen is white, the rest of our decor would have to complement this choice. (Dijon CC-210)

We chose a pale shade of yellow for our living room, although the colour changes dramatically during the day and with different lighting. (Jicama AF-315) We also wanted to introduce a different colour and elected to pull a rich green out of our area rug for a feature wall. (Hancock Gray Kaki HC-97) (The artwork above the fireplace is a print by Northwest Coast artist, Susan Point.)

We wanted our bedroom to be cozy, so we brought the green into this room, as well, and combined it with the pale yellow we chose for the living room. The cheerful bedspread brightens it up, provides continuity with the rest of the house and adds a shot of poppy red accent.

All in all, we're really pleased with the results. 

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Battle Stations

Everything was going along swimmingly and then...Mother Nature had a hissy fit.

I finally (!!) found the 'right' paint colours for the main floor of our house. What was supposed to be a winter project - last winter - morphed into an autumn project. I am presently in the midst of repainting and by "midst", I mean, furniture is helter skelter in the rooms, paint supplies occupy every available counter space, and normal routine has been effectively shelved for the foreseeable future.

It was the perfect time to get this project underway, really. Until the weather suddenly went from hot and dry to cold and wet. Really wet.

And, if that's not bad enough, there's snow in the forecast. My plans to winterize the chicken coop have been pushed forward by two months and, frankly, I'm not ready.

Last week, a farmer friend 'gifted' us with 13 bales of barley straw. I packed it in the utility side of the coop and was feeling pretty smug about my winter stash of emergency bedding and nesting box material. That is, until I went to use some of it this morning only to discover that it's wet inside. He must have baled it while it was still damp and it may all be completely useless. I dragged the bales out into the wind and sunshine today and prayed a fervent prayer that they'll dry before the next downpour that's expected in a few days time.

In the meantime, I'm going to have to get in my garden sooner than anticipated, to harvest what I can before it rots in the ground. 

Never a dull moment around here, folks.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Silent Sunday - Autumn's Arrival

"There is beauty, heartbreaking beauty, everywhere."

Edward Abbey

#augustbreak2014  Prompt: Morning

Saturday, August 30, 2014


For several weeks now, the girls have been losing their baby feathers and sprouting a grown-up wardrobe. 

I absolutely love the delicate perfection of each one. I can't resist collecting them and it's become something of an obsession. 

#augustbreak2014  Prompt: Soft

Friday, August 29, 2014


We had an abundance of dragonflies this summer, flitting about with their wings that are reminiscent of intricate stained glass windows. So fragile in appearance, they put me in mind of faeries.

#augustbreak2014  Prompt: Nature

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Scent of Autumn

What is it about the scent of wood smoke in the air that makes Autumn feel so close? I built a fire outside in our fire pit early this morning. The sun, shining in a cloudless sky did little to dispel the chill that compels me to hunt for sweaters in the back of my closet.

Our furnace has come on in the house the last two mornings, luring us out from beneath the heavy quilts that we've burrowed under in bed.

Autumn is typically the saddest season for me. It's the time of year when I experience a distinct, if intangible, sense of loss. In an effort to self-soothe, hot baths replace showers, candles are lit to lend a warm glow to rooms made prematurely dark by an early dusk.

This morning was different. This morning, with the sweet scent of wood smoke in my nose and the crack and pop of the fire, I felt immensely blessed. The morning felt unhurried as I listened to the geese honk in the neighbouring fields, feasting on tailings from the farmer's recent harvest before seeking warmer climes. With my little flock contentedly scratching and pecking nearby, a fresh cup of coffee, and my dog and cat napping beside me in the morning sun, I felt little need to rush about my day. 

May your day be filled with moments of calm and may you find much to be thankful for.

#augustbreak2014  Prompts: Line and Shadow

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

My Goddess Year

"A crown is merely a hat that lets the rain in."
Frederick the Great

I've been participating in Stacy Reck's Living a Goddess Year for the last couple of months where we explore what it means to live a goddess life. 

One of our recent assignments was to create a crown* for ourselves. This is mine and I have to admit, I'm quite fond of it. I've decided to put it on display in my studio where its playful magic will be near at hand.

*If you'd like to create a crown of your own, you can download templates here.

#augustbreak2014  Prompt: Adornment

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