Thursday, January 26, 2012

OhMyAmpersand Goes East!

I'm such a huge fan of my sister's jewellery, I asked her if I could bring some back to Nova Scotia and represent her work at the Seaport Market. She liked my idea and hopped on board! 
Handcrafted necklaces by OhMyAmpersand. Image and Design © OhMyAmpersand, 2012
I'm thrilled to announce that OhMyAmpersand's necklaces and brooches are available at my Halifax Seaport Market booth, and will also be available in Seaforth on the evening of February 11th at the Sunset Twilight Valentine's Market from 5pm-8pm.

Each piece is hand-crafted using local wood, woodburned, and bejewelled with vintage glass beads.
You can find OhMyAmpersand on Twitter and soon her Etsy Shop will reopen with new work.
OhMyAmpersand and Art By Daina at the Halifax Seaport Market. Image and Artwork © Art By Daina, 2012
Rainy night. Necklace by OhMyAmpersand. Image and Design © OhMyAmpersand, 2012
Hello brooches by OhMyAmpersand. Image and Design © OhMyAmpersand, 2012
Necklace by OhMyAmpersand. Vintage white glass pear shape drops and brown flower button beads. 
Image and Design © OhMyAmpersand, 2012
Chevron Mountains. Necklace by OhMyAmpersand. Image and Design © OhMyAmpersand, 2012
All images are copywrite © OhMyAmpersand, 2012

Friday, January 20, 2012

Good Morning Yoga Flow & Homemade Oatmeal Recipe

Some of the best ways to feel younger is to stretch, exercise, and eat well. It's great advice we hear all the time and know it to be true. Yet somehow the excuses not to take care of ourselves can fill an endless well. I know, I've been there. Half the battle is just getting ready to start. Here's a tip from the best-selling book "Eat That Frog": get yourself a journal. First write down your vision of who you want to be. Write it in the present tense. Next, write a list of 10 goals that you wish to attain this year. Of those 10 goals, choose 1 goal that would change your life in the best possible way. Now write down a time line of how you will make this happen, and all the things you need to do to get yourself there. Commit to this goal. Take it one step at a time, and it won't feel so overwhelming after all. 

There is something about yoga that is immensely challenging and calming, helping to bring focus and clarity.
DVD available here
This morning I started my morning with a 70 minute DVD called Shiva Rea's Flow Yoga for Beginners. It's labelled for beginners, but most of her DVDs are quite advanced so I find this one isn't exactly easy. It is challenging enough to make your muscles quiver and burn, and your body break a sweat, all the while moving at a turtle's pace and holding poses that feel incredibly awkward and graceless in comparison to Shiva's fluid movements. But still, in a nutshell, I love this video.

Before I began my yoga session, I added ingredients in my rice cooker for a delicious hot oatmeal that was ready for me when I finished.

Here is my recipe. It's really just a hodgepodge of my favourite ingredients, so feel free to change it up.
  • 1 part blend of Speerville Flour Mill's Organic 12-Grain Cereal and Organic Scottish Oatmeal to 2 parts water
  • 1 cup of frozen mixed berries
  • 1 Tbsp of maple syrup
  • 1/4 Tsp of real vanilla extract
  • 1/4 Tsp of cinnamon
When it's finished cooking, add 2 Tbsp's of Holy Crap "Dragon's Blend" cereal or your own blend of organic chia seeds and raisins. Let it sit for a few minutes, and enjoy!

The ingredients to the most perfect hot breakfast
The best wedding gift we received!
A small rice cooker.
Here is Shiva Rea's Sun Salutation... "Yoga's sun salutations are among the most refined and effective movement meditations for health and well-being ever created. Originally practiced to connect to the sun's vitality—this precise combination of forward bends, backbends, and inversions awakens the breath and promotes circulation and inner balance through the flow of prana shakti—our creative life force. On Sun Salutations, internationally acclaimed vinyasa flow yoga teacher Shiva Rea presents a complete at-home course."

Tomorrow morning I invite you to set your alarm 15 minutes early, unravel your yoga mat, put on some comfy clothes, take off your winter slippers, and press play... Deep breath, open heart, big sky mind...

What gets you out of bed and jump-start your morning? Besides a hot cuppa java!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

My Love Affair With Books

This month's shopping spree!
From my earliest memory as a child, I loved books. I remember walking around the house with my favourite children's storybooks pretending to read them, convincingly so, because I had memorized every page. I still have many of those classics.

Mom used to read to my older sister and I most nights. And sometimes Mom or Dad would set out our record player in the hall between our bedroom doors, and play one of our stories on record, for us to relax and fall asleep to. I remember one of my favourite stories Mom read to me was The Hobbit.

As a kid it was such a treat to spend hours in a book store with my family, browsing the lifetimes of knowledge at my finger tips, excited at the idea of learning something new, or having my imagination swept away by a wonderful story. Even after all these years, I'm just as content to spend an afternoon in a book store.

Yesterday I visited Dartmouth Book Exchange, Coles, and Chapters with a list of books in mind that I wanted to check out. I couldn't resist buying a few (see photo to right)! Last night I started reading Eat That Frog by Brian Tracy and love it already.

In the past year, 2 books I read stand out for me in a powerful way. They are Breath by Tim Winton, and Crazy for the Storm by Norman Ollestad. There is a beautifully moving trailer for Breath. I hope this becomes a movie some day. Watch it here...

My journals ~ for my notes, thoughts, and sketches
Journals have endless possibilities, too. I have a book for everything- to record all my sales in at Seaport Market, and what I need to print or order for the following weekend. One journal is where I sketch all my new painting ideas in, especially if I'm planning a large solo show and I want to capture a certain theme. I have a journal that is specifically used as a "guest book" where my fans can share their contact info and comments. A tiny journal is kept in my car to keep track of my mileage and gas for my business. I have a notebook where I write my daily/weekly/monthly "to-do" lists, plans, and notes. And finally I began writing in a journal every night before I go to sleep to help clear my head and energy. I've found this to be my saving grace, lightening my spirit, allowing my creativity to flow more freely.

In my living room on an antique table sits my atlas books and globe, a huge stack of surfer magazines, and some great handy reference books.
My living room
At the top of the stairs overlooking my living room is a wide open hall, that we've converted into a library with floor to ceiling shelves to house my growing collection of books.
My "reading room" in the upstairs hall, overlooking the living room.
A glimpse into my collection... from travel books to novels, anatomy, art history, how-to's, and yoga.
Here is a lovely YouTube video to leave you with called The Joy of Books...

What's in your treasured collection?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A Collaboration with Homegrown Skateboards

Last week I hopped in my Matrix with my oldie, Daizy, for a road trip down the South Shore to Lahave, Nova Scotia. Our destination? Homegrown Skateboards. I was on my way to meet Jesse Watson, a huge supporter of local arts and alternative youth culture, best known for redesigning the local definition for skateboard entrepreneur. 
Jesse Watson, skating in the custom indoor
Homegrown Skateboards bowl.
Photo by Heidi Jirotka Photography
HG is a grassroots skateboard design and manufacturing company unlike any other. It was founded by Jesse Watson in 1995 on the 3rd floor above his parents' famed Lahave Bakery, and continues to grow and impress on a local and international level, gaining rave reviews. 

Jesse's thriving HG business does it all- his R&D team combines their skate experience in the Woodshop to shape and individually mould the highest quality decks available, using 100% East Coast rock maple. The same materials that are shipped across the world to mass-manufacturers, are grown and processed just a few hours' drive from HG's shop. Each deck is hand finished using locally sourced materials, and screen-printed using limited edition designs from Guest Artists.

Many of the same sweet designs are made available in their own Men's and Women's Clothing line and the guest artists also have limited edition art Prints for sale.

Homegrown Skateboards is also a venue for alternative culture where the public can skateboard in the custom indoor bowl, play music on the stage, and take part in the visual arts. On the 2nd floor, just below the HG shop, is a huge empty room where Jesse organizes art shows, all ages dances, and anything else he can think up that brings the community of Lahave together for a night out of good old-fashioned fun.

During my visit, Jesse hooked me up with 6 skate decks for me to paint on for an upcoming spring solo art show titled Ocean Playground (destination is a surprise!), celebrating our maritime life in unconventional style. HG doesn't supply wholesale, however they made an exception in my case because of how I plan to turn their beautiful decks into wall art, connecting our cultures for the pleasure of all to enjoy. I'm really looking forward to seeing how this exciting collaboration unfolds...

Jesse in the HG woodshop.
Photo by Anna Duckworth, | Read article
Finished decks in the dry room, awaiting L.E. designs.
Mould press
Screen-printing and design department
Showroom and Gallery
Stage and Skate Bowl
Homegrown Skateboards' public skate bowl, top floor showroom in the Lahave Outlet.
See more pics of the bowl development and completion here.
Shop and Showroom, with Men's & Women's clothing and Skateboards for sale
2nd floor Gallery space
The Lahave Outlet on the South Shore, Lahave, Nova Scotia.
The Lahave Bakery
The Lahave Bakery's Bluenose replica on display in the front window.
Before I turned around and drove home toward the eastern shore, Jesse recommended we continue on to visit Crescent Beach and Rissers Beach. We did and was it ever beautiful...

Daizy frolicking at Crescent Beach, Nova Scotia

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Joel Plaskett's Scrappy Happiness

His musical story-telling and catchy tunes have been inspiring my creativity for years. Countless paintings have grown one stroke at a time to Joel Plaskett's albums, sometimes set on replay, always sung to as I paint. I think my favourite albums are Three and Ashtray Rock, but his talent is incredible in that EVERY song is great on EVERY album. This is unheard of. Get the latest single You're Mine, or go nuts and buy them all. You will be glad you did! Have a listen to them here.
Joel Plaskett Emergency latest album Scrappy Happines, 2012.
In December, Stefan and I were invited to a friend's house for some holiday cheer among a small group of family and friends, when Joel joined us with one of his special guitars in hand, ready to hang out and play a few tunes. We had such a great evening listening to his stories, chatting life, and his upcoming plans for his latest album, Scrappy Happiness.

Starting this week, Joel is releasing one studio recording per week from his new album for 10 weeks, starting with "You're Mine" (visit CBC Radio 2 to hear all about it!). Be sure to tune in at 5:15 on CBC Radio 1! Each week each new tune is available for purchase on the iTunes Store, and the full CD release will be available on March 27th. He'll be setting off on a Canadian tour with his Emergency band on April 27th. For more info check out his website at, his Facebook page, and Twitter.

Joel played "You're Mine" for us that night before Christmas. I shot a little video of it for him, and he liked the "work in progress vibe" enough to include it in his promo video for his new weekly release project. Check out the full video I shot here...


See his full promo video on YouTube here.

...and feel free to sing along with the lyrics!

You're Mine
Let’s make a racket for the old and young
For the desperate souls and the lucky ones
If we get lonely, if we get lost
Let’s rattle on until the wheels come off
Fumbling, tumbling, singing our songs
Making them up as we’re going along
Passing the guitar, passing the wine
Traveling time
We gotta choose the weapon for the town we take
“Celebrated Summer” for the Quarry Lake
Magic’s only magic until you know the tricks
But if this ain’t real, I don’t know what is
Shaking it, faking, never learning our lines
Making ‘em up for the nickels and dimes
Passing the guitar, passing the wine
The skies will turn from pink to blue, the years will turn to sand
The needles drop on Husker Du, they were my favorite band
I’m traveling through space and time to keep my love alive
It’s 1995
I am yours and you are mine
Every young band wants to build The Wall
But a real rock record’s like a wrecking ball
If anybody asks me why I came back here
I’ll say, “I’m picking up the pieces of a broken year”
Wondering, wandering, training my thoughts
Following, swallowing, connecting the dots
Passing the guitar, passing the wine… lots
The skies will turn from pink to blue, the years will turn to sand
The needles drop on Husker Du, they were my favorite band
I’m traveling through space and time to keep my love alive
It’s 1995
I am yours and you are mine 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Colours of the Rainbow

My wonderful, creative, and insightful artist friend, Shelagh Duffett of Alice in Paris, invited me to write her "Colour Interview". I've been thinking about rainbows a lot, and really feel like writing lately, so when she told me it would be good for me to do this, I whole-heartedly set about the task and was amazed at how easily my connection to each colour unfolded...
"Inverness Rainbow" by Eva McDermott of Eva McDermott Photography, Nova Scotia. Image from Tumblr link.
Red : Reminds me of beautiful flowers- poppies, tulips, hibiscus. And candy! I remember a cherry flavoured old-fashined lolly pop I used to buy at the Circle Smoke Shop in Kapuskasing when I was a kid. It tasted so good. I wish I could find them again but I think they were home-made. Red was the colour of the sun back in 1995 when I tree-planted in northern Ontario. A heatwave made temperatures soar to nearly 47 degrees Celsius and forest fires were everywhere. The heat turned the sun red that summer. 

Orange : My favorite winter treat is Maroc Star clementines, so juicy and sweet. A deep shade of orange is Burnt Umber, a golden shade of amber brown, the colour of my late dog Cozmo's eyes. They were so sparkly and bright and seemed to carry the miracle of life in them when he looked at me. Orange is wise and warm. The colour of the setting sun. The crackling comfort of a campfire in the summer, or sipping a glass of Port while sitting next to the fireplace on a cold winter's night.

Yellow : Bananas and pineapples and lemons, some of my favourite fruits. Homemade lemonade on a summer day is so thirst-quenching and refreshing. I think I could live off these 3 fruits! Mom made the best Lemon Meringue Pie, and my mother-in-law makes the best Lemon Genoise cake. My mom's favourite flowers are daffodils, and I remember them growing in my Grandma Lehtisaari's garden. Sunflowers are one of my favourite flowers. Yellow also reminds me of the centers of Daisies, full of pollen for the bees to make delicious golden honey with. The Sun is yellow and the giver of life and happiness on Earth. The Moon is soft and calming, controlling our tides and cycles.

Green : I think of fresh earthy smells like moss and the sweet scent of Spring and fresh cut grass. Green makes me think of life. I remember my childhood where I spent summers in the forest around my home imagining little miniature villages of faeries and Smurfs living under leaves and mushrooms. Green is the first growth in Spring, and the colour of Spring Peepers (frogs). It's the colour of water as light shines through the crest of a peeling wave.

Blue : The smell of fresh salty-sweet ocean air fills my senses, and the calming sounds and images of gentle waves and crashing surf fill my mind. Together with green and yellow, water is also a life-giving element, the colour of our Earth, the "Blue Marble". Turquoise is my favourite colour. I look at it and it makes me happy. I love how it pops next to orange and red! It reminds me of vintage surf posters.

Indigo/Purple : Midnight is indigo, lit up by the stars and moon. It's the colour of amazing sunsets and sunrises, spring Crocus flowers, and the deepest depths of the ocean. I once met a woman with one eye indigo and one eye brown. It was beautiful and haunting at the same time. My old Japanese Fighter fish from when I was a little kid was indigo and purple. He was mean and ate all my goldfish.

Violet/Pink : Red Violet oil paint is one of my favourites to work with, especially when I mix it with yellow, or pair it with orange and turquoise. Pink is the uniform of choice for all my 4 nieces. An outfit without pink is one not worth wearing. Pink reminds me of Bubblicious bubble gum, rosy cheeks from a day playing in the snow, and rosy skin from a day in the sun. Pink is the colour of health.

What do these colours mean to you? I would love to know!

Heather Brown's "Juicy Sunset" matted print, available on her website Here.
These colours also remind me of the kid's song "How We Love to See a Rainbow", written by Suzy Gazlay. I had never heard this song before until 2 weeks ago when my 5-year old niece Ellie sang it to me. I thought it was beautiful. 

How we love to see a rainbow
Telling us the storm is through;
Made when sunlight shines on raindrops: Here's a rainbow just for you!
Red -- the top, the highest colour;
Orange -- we'll find it just below;
Yellow follows, bright and sunny;
Green -- the middle one, we know.
Blue comes next, like sky in summer;
Indigo is purple-blue;
Violet, the bottom colour: There's a rainbow just for you!

Rainbow Bridge

Website for this image is here. Artist unknown (if you know
who painted this, please let me know)
And then just yesterday I was sent the poem Rainbow Bridge by some friends to help me through my dog's recent passing. It is such a heart-warming poem, full of hope and peace, in memory of our beloved pets.

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together.... 

(author unknown)

Suddenly I feel surrounded by rainbows! It's a nice feeling... Thank you everyone for all your kindness and support. ~ DS xo

Monday, January 9, 2012

My Dear Cozmo (09/13/1998 ~ 01/04/2012)

Cozmo Scarola (09/13/1998 ~ 01/04/2012)
Our little family of four had a very tough Christmas season and New Year. My 14-year old dog, Cozmo, was happy and healthy, but then he suffered from a grand mal seizure on December 21st that he spent 2 weeks trying to recover from, followed by 3 seizures over 20 hours on January 3rd that left him overwhelmed with terror and confusion for hours between each event. He died peacefully in his sleep at 9:30am on January 4th in my arms... The memory of his beautiful, warm, sunny spirit will stay with me always.
Cozmo and Daizy at Conrad Beach in Lawrencetown, Nova Scotia. Summer, 2010.
Cozmo, only 1 hour old, bottom left.
He is survived by my husband and I, and his 17-year old mom Daizy. I'm so grateful that I was there with Daizy for Cozmo's first breath, and with Cozmo for his last breath. And I'm forever grateful that I was able to fulfill my promise to him that I would take him to the beach one last time. The day before he died he had a couple hours where he seemed to feel normal. I drove him and Daizy to Conrad Beach where we were met with the most beautiful and unusual sunset. Somehow I knew this would be his last. I forgot my camera but I absorbed every moment, every expression of joy, for the hour we were there.

Cozmo & Daizy's favourite driving spot, perched on the back seat shelf of our old '94 VW Jetta, 2003.
Every day of Cozmo's life I told him I loved him, and I still do. Every night before I go to bed I curl up in his comfy faux swede donut bed where he died and I talk to him and tell him I miss him and love him so much. I find this comforting and somehow my tears hurt less and less. His scent still lingers, but is almost gone. I know I'll feel so desperate all over again when I can't smell him anymore. I kissed him ever day countless times. My favourite spots were on his cheeks, between his eyes, and behind his ears. When he died I was overcome with grief I never experienced before. I had lost all my grand-parents, a university friend, two dogs and a cat. But my grief from losing Cozmo was severe. I've never cried like that in all my life, and I'm sure my parents and sister can attest to that since I had to call them several times to help me through it.
Conrad Beach, 2010.
Cozmo was a kind, gentle, sweet, loving soul. He taught us to be patient and understanding, to be aware of his subtle language and needs. Since he was 2 years old he had to deal with extensive food and environmental allergies, skin and ear infections, and thus deal with countless vet visits, tests, supplements, pills, diets, and eventually allergy shots which enabled the last year and a half of his life to be healthy and relatively vet-free. We know that with our love and care he lived much longer and happier than nature would have allowed, but still...

I want to remember him always. When he left us, a piece of my heart died with him. I don't know what happens when we die, but I want to believe that when my time comes, he will be there to welcome me. I want so badly for him to visit me from time to time in spirit. I think he visited me in my dream the night before last. He kind of got plopped in the middle of an adventure dream, and I remember suddenly being aware consciously that he was with me. I could smell him and feel him and hug and rub him and tell him I loved him. It was a brief moment where my senses were heightened, and then he was gone.

Canoe trip at Kejimkujik National Park, Nova Scotia, 2004.
I remember the first time we took him to Point Pleasant Park, our local off-leash dog park in Halifax. He was only 3 months old. Cozmo was so scared to walk through the gates. He would take a few steps, then look back at us. And so it went, and we were delighted as his confidence grew and he enjoyed himself.

We took him there every weekend until Hurricane Juan devastated the park. We took him to the beach more often after that, where he ran, swam, played with other dogs, and gorged on a seaweed and crab shell buffet.

The first time he saw a rabbit I was walking him on our street. The rabbit hopped in an empty lot along the road. He tucked his tail between his legs and ran all the way home.

I remember the year I fell in love with him. He was 6 years old. I remember wondering why it took so long, and how I came to love him so much... Suddenly as I write this I'm surrounded by his warm scent. I know he's with me now. I inhale deeply...
Conrad Beach, October 2011.
Cozmo was also game for any adventure. He went on more road-trips and camping trips than most maritimers probably do.
He even climbed the highest mountain in the Adirondacks when he was 10 years old, braving beams and ladders over rocky terrain along the trail. When he was 11 he almost died of hypothermia and drowned when he fell through the ice in the river leading to Conrad Beach. My friends physically held me back as I struggled and fought them to let me run in after him. Fortunately an emergency fireman team rescued him and he recovered after a few days! He loved to go for runs, bike rides, canoe trips, and cross-country skiing, but I think the beach was his most favourite place of all.

Hiking in the Adirondack mountains, NY, 2008. Our view to the left.
As Cozmo grew older, he grew closer to me, and I to him.
Resting on "his" couch, 2011.
When I went to bed, he came with me. He slept next to me on the floor in his bed. When I got up, he got up. If Stefan fell asleep on the couch, he jumped up on our bed and took his spot next to me. When I painted, he lay below my easel. When I worked on the computer as I am now, he lay beside me on the rug. His favourite treat was carrots. He never fussed when I had to nurse him, when I had to give him pills, clean his ears, wash him, administer ear drops and needles. His tolerance, patience, and acceptance of my care always amazed me (though it might have been because of his carrot treats following each session!). After I fed him, he always came to thank me, resting his head in my lap and giving me a very soft kiss and a gentle tail wag. To our dismay, every day, many times a day, he would ask to come up on the couch with us, even though it was his spot and we always invited him. He would stand there and look at us quietly until we tapped the couch and said "come on up!". If Daizy was sleeping in his way, he would never hop over her or walk around her. Until the day he died, Daizy treated him like her son, he respected her like his mother, and loved us all so deeply.
My dear, sweet Cozmo, we will love you and miss you always. May your time beyond the Rainbow Bridge be full of joy, health, and peace. And one day, when my time comes, I hope to see you again...

Lawrencetown River, 2011.
Cozmo's art wall, in his memory...