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Last weekend my daughter and I went to Camp l'Estacade with Harmonie Verdun, a fantastic music school for children. My daughter plays clarinet, and I went along as support/kitchen staff to help make sure all the rug-rats were fed and happy.

The camp is situated along the Richelieu River in southern Quebec. It was still pretty cold out, snow on the ground turning to mud in the sunshine and back to ice at night. Parts of the river were still frozen enough for ice fishers to drive their 2 ton trucks on, which we saw on the opposite shoreline.

I found a little time to do some quick sketches of some of the kids - mostly the guitar players because they practiced close to the kitchen where a handful of parent volunteers were hard at work.

We had a great time and the kids were all so wonderful and talented (aka, dedicated and hard working).

Early spring and late fall are two crucial feeding times for bees. In early spring, the colony is small and hungry and needs access to food quickly for a strong start to the season. In late fall, many plants have died off and winter looms. Bees have less foliage to chose from and have to contend with neighboring colonies, and thievery of their honey stores from other insects, like yellowjackets and even other honey bees if other food sources cannot be found.

Sadly, my bees did not survive the winter, despite my supplementing their food stores (I suspect it just wasn't enough, and they starved - I don't suspect disease). So, I made this handy infographic to show which plants are good for these crucial feeding times, and which provinces these plants grow well in. We can arm ourselves with knowledge and do our part to help provide these magnificent creatures with as many food options as possible.

Bees need both nectar and pollen to be healthy. I've indicated, below, what each plant offers to the bees.

Find out other province specific bee friendly plants for the entire growing season, here:

Why Window film? Well, because you can have natural light, great design and privacy too.  Even beyond these reasons, there are other benefits like energy savings and added security and safety, depending on the type of product you choose.

I recently did some work for a Niagara based, high-end, window film company, Evolution Window Films.  You can check out their blog about it here.

They install window film in your home or office, back it up by a great warranty and have been known to go as far as the wild west (Alberta) to do so.

If you want a custom design - this is where I come in - let's chat.

Who knew window vinyl could be so much fun?

 I did these mock-ups in photoshop. The original photos came from here, here, and here.
Two things that both mystify and entertain me in slightly unsettling ways. It's a mash-up.
I'm taking an Illustrator class. This is the kind of thing I get to do for homework.

Ok, so maybe my client said, "not a full wrap" .... So, a half wrap?  I think it's one of those things that she has to see to fully decide. And while I've done vehicle door panel decals and, in my youth(ier) days working at a sign shop, even physically applied vinyl graphics to vehicles, I've never designed a vehicle WRAP per se.

First thing, find a template!  I looked for way too long for a template. It is ridiculously hard to find template for a 2008 Dodge Ram 1500 MEGA CAB. And it's the Mega Cab part that just ruined my life for two days. The only company I could find who had it, Pro Vehicle Outlines, offered it based on a subscription and seeing as how I rarely do vehicle ad designs, I couldn't see paying for an expensive subscription.  So, round and round the internet I went, looking for a template, free, or one I could buy individually. I contacted the sign company my client had chosen and they didn't have it either.

At the end of my rope,  I decided to call Pro Vehicle Outlines, and sweet as they are, they informed me that they give the first template free.  Great!  How many days of searching did I just save you right there? They will send you the first template free. Yeehaw!

So, gleefully, with a printed copy of the template in hand, I began researching, collecting inspiration images, and then sketching ideas.

Next stop - find a tutorial on the most efficient way to work with this template.

This site has a great walk through.  At this point, I'm at  #3 and 4.   I used Photoshop CS6's quick mask function to select my vehicle (see how to do that here).

My client lives on the other side of the country, so she took photos of her truck and sent them to me. I designed right on top of them - so really, at this point, I'm not even using my hard won template for this stage of the design. That will come soon.

This is as far as I got today. I've sent it off to my client for consideration and expect to have some adjustments to make. She may even want less than this half-wrap. We'll see. My true nature has always been to over do it, then edit, edit, edit.  The challenge here is to try and create an airy spa-like feeling, consistent with her branding, on a black paint job.

I'll iron out the rough spots after I hear from her, and then move onto using the template from Pro Vehicle Outlines, importing it into Illustrator. 

That's it for today. Stay tuned for part 2. 

Have you done vehicle wraps? Leave me some pro-tips in the comments (pretty please).

So, my dog has decided that she'd like to help out our environmental initiatives by dragging bits and pieces out of the recycling bin, whisk them away to her house (her kennel) and unashamedly tear them into tinier bits and pieces. We used to get after her for it. But really, she's just entertaining herself. It's winter. There's not a whole lot to do around here. And she just looks so triumphant as she prances off toward her house with a giant cereal box in her mouth.

Her house is in one corner of my studio/office. You'd be able to recognize it right away as our internal recycling facility. The cat bed is in the opposite corner, basically taking over half my drafting table - which may as well be the entire thing -  it's become pretty much useless as a drafting table, also holding my stacks of sketch books and manuscripts.

Over the cat bed is one of the few windows in our 90 year old urban row house.  I've put plastic over the window to fend off the wrath of Jack Frost. Well, that's just a cat's opportunity for a good time. Can I please just show you what the window looks like?

This began the DAY I put it up. I'd been taking the scotch tape to it every morning, patching punctures and tears. But I gave up. Whatever. Cat wins.

And those are the animals I to try and keep up with.

I also have three children. We homeschool. We have SO MUCH STUFF. I can't really lay all the blame on them. I personally have so much stuff in the form of art supplies, fabric and notions and sewing machines and dressforms, and computers and gadgets, and a really large printer,and so many documents and inspiration, and bake wear (I can't even get started on the kitchen), some of which I NEVER USE. But, one day I might. Right?

And I do put effort into de-cluttering. It seems like a never ending process. But it's been in my face, all the clutter, because our home has very little storage. In fact, we had only one closet in the whole house and we recently got rid of it during a much needed renovation. So while de-cluttering is not my absolute top priority, it's in the forefront of my mind many days, and much headway has already been made.

The Paradox.  On one hand, I'd love to have that idealistic, picture perfect, non-cluttered space to live and work in. I imagine how lovely and creative and productive my life will be when that day is here.  However, it seems to take so much effort to get to and MAINTAIN that idealistic space, that the process of maintaining throws a huge snag in my work flow and creative processes. If it were just me I was picking up after, I think I could manage to have and keep that ideal space, but otherwise, managing a kind of Grand Central Station of the coming and going of stuff, I think it's time I stopped beating myself up over not being able to keep up with it all, and accept that messes happens. And they will continue to happen, despite my best efforts. Can I please just let myself press on with what I'm passionate about? I can deal with letting the house go to crap while I lose myself in my work (but, let's be honest, at this station in my life as mom, homeschooler and freelancer, losing myself in creativity happens as often as just plain old losing my marbles).  Losing myself in creativity actually looks more like a deliberate application of myself to the process, not a whimsical moving of the spirit. And that works, too.

Somehow we still have home-cooked meals and treats, and clean clothes, and a good education. So, while it may not look pretty, stuff gets done and training kids to pick up as they go along sticks, some of the time. Closing your eyes and meditating all of the crap away helps significantly too. Free your mind and the rest will follow ....

I'd been living in this beautiful mess, going from self loathing, to whatever-ness, and I read this post by illustrator Holly DeWolf, and was inspired to share my own experience.  And then came this post by author Fran Cannon Slayton, where she talks about mental clutter. Also inspiring.

Do you work from home?  Ahem, is it a little less organized than you would prefer?  How do you keep focused in your cluttered world?