Wednesday, March 30, 2016

March 30, bits and bobs

So today started like that. Golden early sun streaming through my window, gilding everything with colour. This time of year I can really notice the shift in the light, it is starting to feel like warmer days ahead!  I sat and soaked it up for a while, planning my day.
I had a busy day today. One of those days where I microwaved the same cup of tea about 7 times! Still haven't finished it. Haha. 
I took advantage of the sunshine and prepped these wooden supports for a painting workshop I am teaching on Sunday.
I had ordered a large shipment from Deserres last week forgetting that Easter was tucked in between then and now. I couldn't take the chance they might not arrive by Friday so popped to the downtown store to purchase more supplies again! Had a hard time finding 15 brushes of the same 3 different sizes so my participants will have an interesting lesson in making do. Fingers crossed shipment WILL arrive.
I also just prepared this! I'm roasting brussel sprouts, carrots, cauliflower, onion and some garlic cloves. Found a recipe where you lightly toss them in balsamic vinegar and maple syrup when done. Mmmm. Sounded good to me. Will let you know how they turn out:)
And then there is THIS! My first workshop was sold out so I am putting on another one April 24th. We will be painting a lighthouse at dawn..... You can register HERE if you so desire:)

If you are reading this blog on the Haligonia site,you can pop over directly to my blog by clicking HERE!

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Feeding the wolves....

I am trying to be a better person. I think we all are. Life sure does make it difficult at times! We dodge unexpected blows, jump hurdles we didn't know existed, arrive at dead ends, get confronted with bad news and do our best to keep going in a positive and upbeat manner. It it boils down to decision making doesn't it. 
The way we choose to react to a situation determines the outcome for ourselves. It is how we move forward. The space between the event and our response is where it all happens.  Our thoughts direct the show. We need to pause. I am working on trying to see the positive and larger picture instead of quickly reacting emotionally. It is difficult.
It’s so much easier to do things like complain, begrudge, procrastinate, dismiss, put down, bemoan or ignore. The lazy way out. Those things take almost no energy because they don’t require real action of any kind and don't change anything; inside or out. It is hard to rise above but the benefits are boundless...... a challenge I am fighting daily.

A girl said to her  grandfather, “It feels as though there’s always a fight between two big wolves inside my head”
“The first wolf is full of anger, self-doubt and enviousness. The second is full of hope, empathy and courage.”
The grandfather said, “That same fight is going on inside all of us.”
The girl thought about that and then asked, “Well grandfather, which wolf will win?”

The old man simply replied, “The one you feed.”
Photos taken at Chebucto Head, Duncan's Cove

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Bloomin lovely!

I received these luscious tulips from my daughter. Thank-you! So bright and positive. Bursting with the promise of Spring!

Paint Day with Shelagh Duffett April24

My first workshop on April 3 sold out quickly. I am very grateful. Thanks. A second one has now been added.... we will paint a lighthouse and dawn sky. You can REGISTER HERE at Eventbrite.

Thursday, March 24, 2016


Rumi. He makes me think. He gently nudges my perspective. His beautiful words carry messages of love and hope. Timeless thoughts....

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Painting ....

So today is an all day studio day. Lovely! I have been very busy organizing my upcoming painting workshop, (which only has one spot available, hooray) and a few workshops to follow, finishing commissions, preparing orders for shops, purchasing supplies, post office, contacting people,  researching, social media promoting, blogging, planning...all the usual busy stuff that comprises my life. Today is just music and colour and getting some much needed painting done! I have practically no stock and people, shops and galleries waiting. Yikes! I am very grateful for that.
This is Monty, my studio assistant when I work at home. Actually a picture of him as a kitten, he is now a fat middle aged man, Ha!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Water water everywhere and not a drop to drink...

Today is United Nations WORLD WATER DAY. March 22.
Some facts for you....
1 in 10 people lack access to clean water (That equals the entire population of the United States)
Women and children spend 125 million hours each day collecting water. Average weight of a jerry can is 40 pounds. 67% of families rely on the women to collect water. Girls lose out on school time to collect water.
Every 90 SECONDS a child dies from a water borne illness  Diseases from dirty water kill MORE people every year than all forms of violence, including war.
1 in 3 lack access to a toilet

Today, be grateful every time you turn on a tap! We are the fortunate ones. We are ridiculously water wealthy and we never think about it. We waste it. We take it for granted. Be mindful today.

Here are a few organizations trying to help
the WaterProject 

( the painting is by S. Duffett, (me) Black Rock Beach, Point Pleasant Park)

Monday, March 21, 2016

March 21

It's spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you've got it, you want—oh, you don't quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!” -Mark Twain

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Catalphabet!! A Book in the Making....

I've been working away on a children's book recently. An alphabet primer called Catalphabet. It  has been a really fun project and harder than one might imagine. Alliteration that is interesting, not too simple and relates to the pictures takes work:) Fun though.
I made a VERY rough mock up to see if it might actually work as a book and yes, I am pleased with it. I've shared it with a few people and they have had positive things to say. With an editor and proper layout it will look great! I am trying to decide whether to self-publish, look for an agent or contact a publishing company directly. Wondering if any of you reading have experience or advice? I have talked to a few people already and am still weighing pros and cons. Any advice??
ALSO.....this is happening in two weeks! People are registering (Yay!) so if you want a spot, act soon!!! REGISTER HERE  or email me if you prefer not to register online or have any questions.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Sweet Potato Mash Lentil Shepherd's Pie!

I posted this a few years ago but I'm making it tonight to take to a dinner so thought I would repost:again. So delish! )Even better the next day. Just like a Shepherd's Pie but with lentils, peas and mushrooms. Fat free and loaded with fiber.
Sweet Potato Lentil Mash
Ingredients (serves 6)
Top layer 
2 12.75 ounce cans sweet potatoes ( I used 2 large sweet potatoes)
1/4 cup almond milk
3 T maple syrup 

Bottom layer 
Frozen apple juice concentrate for sautéing, or red wine. ( I did not have any so used some red currant jelly!)
1 cup diced onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 carrot, minced
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced ( I didn't have any but I think it would be even better with them)
10 ounces peas, fresh or thawed
1 package Trader Joes pre-cooked vacuum sealed lentils (or about 2 ½ cups cooked lentils). If using canned lentils, drain and rinse before cooking ( I used canned)
½ cup red wine or broth if you don't have any
2.5 T low sodium tamari
½ tsp thyme
1 tsp oregano
dash of hot sauce
8-10 ounces baby spinach, chopped ( I used kale becasue I had no spinach)
I drizzled maple syrup on top before baking  instead of mixing it in with the potatoes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Using a hand mixer, blend sweet potatoes, almond milk and maple syrup until smooth.** I did not mix in the maple syrup, I drizzled a bit of it on top before baking* Set aside.

Sauté onion and carrot on medium heat in a little frozen apple juice concentrate until soft, about 8 minutes. Add garlic,and mushrooms and sauté another 5 minutes.

Add peas, lentils, wine, tamari, thyme and oregano. Mix well. Simmer about 8 minutes.( add dash of hot sauce if desired)

Add spinach in batches until it is wilted.

Spray the bottom of an 11 x 7 or 8 x 8 Pyrex dish. Pour lentil mixture into pan. Spread sweet potatoes on top of lentils. Bake 35 minutes. ( Iused a small square pyrex casserole dish) You could increase the ingredients by a third and put it in a 11 x 13 dish.

Hard to make a mushy dish look tasty but it was! It would be even better with mushrooms!

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Happy Saint Gertrude's Day!

Patron Saint of cats, travelers, mental illness and gardeners. Meow.... Strange assortment. Connection somehow? There is a saint for everything!  Even the internet.... Saint Isidore of Seville Sactus Isidorus Hispalensis! 

 The wee picture at the top comes from Marys Prayers.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Close Your Eyes, Breathe....

Oohmmmm. I don't say that when I meditate. I just sit quietly. Eyes closed. I have started to do it as a practice again and already I feel the benefits. 20 minutes. That's all. I feel calmer, and a stillness pervades me that was absent for awhile. I welcome it. It is a contentment born from mindful focus on being present whenever I think of it. The meditation is helping. It is an oasis of peace that I am creating 20 minutes at a time. Me time. Universe time.
“I said to my soul, be still and wait without hope, for hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love, for love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith, but the faith and the love are all in the waiting. Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought: So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.” -T.S. Eliot
  There are many ways to meditate. I do mine very simply. I find a spot and sit in a comfortable position. Sometimes in a chair, sometimes on a low stool with back straight and legs tucked under me. I set the timer on my cell phone for 20 minutes. Close my eyes, take a deep breath and settle in. I don't focus on my breathing because it distracts me. I breath normally and as I relax and spend time sitting, it deepens naturally. I try to empty my mind and listen to the sounds around me. I don't label them but listen to them, wind, the furnace whirring in my house, cars outside, creaks in the house, the cat, voices in the distance, even the ringing in my ears...

   If I find myself thinking, I note that I am thinking and clear my thoughts and settle to stillness and listening, until I am aware I am thinking about something again and I have to clear my thoughts once more. It is a conscious thing and one has to do it over and over. Eventually the gaps between thoughts become longer. That is the oasis. As you sit you become more and more relaxed, the body and mind slow down. I stop listening. When the alarm goes off sometimes I am quite surprised, and would like to have sat a bit longer....

 There are days when it is very difficult to quiet the mind. So much to do, so many thoughts. Those 20 minutes seem like a lifetime. I have those days, but am glad for the sitting break....
and feel better for it. If you cannot find 20 minutes, find 10:) 

 You can meditate in 30 seconds! Right now. Stop. Pause. Become aware of your hands, the one holding the phone or on the computer mouse or laptop. Put your attention on your hands.  Feel them.  Be aware of them.  Breathe. See?  Your whole world just stopped for a second and you were present.....
 All photos copyright Shelagh Duffett 

I'm hosting a one day fun painting workshop! Sunday April 3. Find out details HERE>

Monday, March 14, 2016

PAINT DAY! WORKSHOP with Shelagh Duffett

Hey! My first painting workshop! 
 Fruition Cafe, Coburg Professional Centre 
6389 Coburg Rd, Halifax. (Corner of Oxford and Coburg Road.)
 A bright sunny space with lots of room. It will be closed for the day.
Wheelchair accessible, with gender-neutral and accessible washrooms on-site. 

Sunday April 3 from 10 am until 4pm 
A day of painting , chatting, good music and lunch!  We will be recreating this painting!
We will be using Acrylic paint on an 11 x 14" wooden canvas with 1.5" sides. You can use as much artistic license as you please to make it yours. I will guide you through it step by step:) No experience needed but if you do have experience and want to join us for a fun day, all the better!

We will stop around 12 for a lunch break. Soup and a grilled wrap, quiche or sandwich. You choose when you get there. Tea and coffee available but only dairy free milk options. 

Please bring an apron or wear something an errant drop of paint might enhance. Casual comfortable,crafty clothing encouraged.


Registration in advance is required, space is limited. Please sign-up by popping by my upstairs table ( Alice in Paris) at the Seaport Market on Saturdays or purchase your ticket online at Eventbrite Here

ALSO>>>BONUS..there is a private FacebookGroup set up for workshop participants only.

If you have any further questions, please email me:

15 Min. Corn/Veggie Chowder!

Ok. Quick comfort food. Something to tuck into this week's arsenal of meals:) My version is fat free and still tastes great but if you want to sauté the onion and garlic (and peppers, celery if using) in some butter or olive oil first that's fine too!

15 minute Corn/Veggie Chowder
1 carrot grated
1 large onion chopped finely 
1 large potato cubed in 1/2" squares
1 red pepper chopped finely (optional)
1 stalk of celery, finely chopped (optional)
1-2 garlic cloves minced or 1 tsp. garlic powder (I didn't have any real garlic)
1 can of corn, drained
1 can of creamed corn
Veggie broth or bullion cube
Almond milk, soy milk or regular milk.

1.Put everything except milk and creamed corn into a heavy pot. Add veggie broth or water/bullion cube to barely cover the top of veggies. 
2. Cover and simmer until potatoes and veg are cooked.(about 10-15 min)
3. Add creamed corn, salt and pepper to taste and heat.
3. I add the milk at the end, not much,  just to make it the consistency I like. I sometimes just leave it up whomever I'm serving it to to add the milk directly to their bowl instead; my daughter prefers real milk and I like almond milk:) 
You could  not add the milk at all to make it more of a brothy soup if you like. 
I add some smoked paprika and a dash of Siracha cha cha sauce to mine:). Yum. Enjoy!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Say Cheese!

I collect quirky old photos from junk shops and yard sales that catch my fancy. This one is a favourite of mine! Such fun. Especially the  bag lady in the back row! Heh. 
Wish I knew what year it was, where it was, who they were, what the event was.........

But that is what gives these photos some of their allure, isn't it? The mystery. The untold story. A moment captured and preserved on a piece of paper. The current of life frozen for a second and visible forever.They were all so chuffed with themselves. Well, most of them...the girl at the lower right is a bit pensive. 

We get to imagine the details. Create a story for them. 

Here are the  names listed on the back of the photo.I wonder how many of them are still alive.....did they have happy lives? 

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Saturday musing

Isn't this a cool photograph? I took it one afternoon in my kitchen because the light was so compelling. It kind of looks like an old masters painting except that it's a random photo of what happened to be on my counter that day:) Light can make everything beautiful. 
I'm typing this on my phone at the Seaport Market so the formatting might be off. I think the type is centred but I can't change it. Oh well.  

So how are you today? I  used to write all the time and felt grounded in this blog. I took a break for a couple of years. (Did you miss me? Did you know I was gone?)  So here I am, back again! The place is a bit dusty, needs a bit of spring cleaning. I'm posting frequently to push out the cobwebs and fill the place with life once more! It takes time out of my day but it is great creative and mental exercise! I hope you enjoy it too. 
Are any of you reading this now original readers of this blog? Just curious. The blogging world has changed so much.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Sea Breeze, Original Painting (sold)

Finished this painting a couple of days ago. 15 x 13 x 1.5" The sides of this piece are painted iridescent gold to compliment the soft sky. For sale in my etsy shop here.
If you live in the local area, message me and we can bypass etsy and save on shipping etc.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Ch ch changes....

Malcolm Gladwell wrote a book called The Tipping Point. It is about how things change from one state to another. Life, business, health, anything really.... "that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire. Just as a single sick person can start an epidemic of the flu, so too can a small but precisely targeted push cause a fashion trend, the popularity of a new product, or a drop in the crime rate.." 
In our personal lives, it's that small change that tips you over from making excuses to taking action! How do we do it?
One example in the book comes from a study of tetanus education at a university. They were interested in learning if creating fear about tetanus would encourage more students to get vaccinated against it. The fear education program didn’t seem to make any difference in students getting vaccinated, BUT when they made one surprising change, it did!  Adding a map of the university campus showing the health center and the times vaccinations were available increased the vaccination rate from 3% to 28%! That is huge.
Takeaway from this.....

If you make a tiny change that makes it easy enough to take action , you’ll actually follow through.

So, how can we do it in our lives
Here are a few examples to get you thinking (I do these)...

Want to floss more? Buy a LOT of floss, put in discreet places, somewhere near where you watch TV, in your purse, briefcase, next to the computer. If you see it, you are more likely to do it.

Want to exercise first thing? Put your gear out the night before and put it on first thing. (Also set an intention before you sleep,mentally tell yourself tomorrow I will exercise:)

Want to drink more water? Fill a glass and keep on your kitchen counter, drink every time you see it, on your desk, in a water bottle. 

Stay on top of ideas? Buy a small notebook and pen, put elastic around to keep em together( so you always have a pen), and carry with you. I tend to be a "real" notebook person rather than a smartphone note person, but if that works for you, great!.....key is remembering to jot them down!

It is all about making things you want/have to do, easier to do and using visual reminders as cues when you can.  Are there any that you do?

All photos copyright Shelagh Duffett.The sculpture of the man and woman above can be found at the North End Library in Halifax

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Bits and Pieces

Now that I have your attention!
Ha so good and soo bad... this was taken at the Chickenburger in Bedford. An institution that's been going strong  since 1940! I love onion rings but try my best to stay away:)

Next up is this!  A Show of COSTUME in Honor of His Royal Highness Prince Arthur, The Military Ball of 1869. Tickets available HERE It is my daughter's graduating class event! She chose to create a gown for Fanny Westphal McNab, who married Sydenham Howe (Joe Howe's son). They had to research the person, write a paper and create an historically accurate outfit from undergarments outer garments using historically accurate materials. She had to make the patterns too! They each model the gowns they created and......with their partners they will dance a Viennese Waltz for us! Exciting!

These two paintings of mine are available at Made in the Maritimes Artisan Boutique  in Bedford. I will be switching them out soon so if you are interested, pop out and see the shop, it is full of gorgeous things! (in Sunnyside Mall)

I've been reading a lot about happiness and focus lately. Alan Watts argued that the root of our human frustration and daily anxiety is our tendency to live for the future, which is an abstraction.To be truly happy,we have to live here and now because that is all that exists. We all know this, don't we. He writes:
The “primary consciousness,” the basic mind which knows reality rather than ideas about it, does not know the future. It lives completely in the present, and perceives nothing more than what is at this moment. The ingenious brain, however, looks at that part of present experience called memory, and by studying it is able to make predictions. These predictions are, relatively, so accurate and reliable (e.g., “everyone will die”) that the future assumes a high degree of reality — so high that the present loses its value.
But the future is still not here, and cannot become a part of experienced reality until it is present. Since what we know of the future is made up of purely abstract and logical elements — inferences, guesses, deductions — it cannot be eaten, felt, smelled, seen, heard, or otherwise enjoyed. To pursue it is to pursue a constantly retreating phantom, and the faster you chase it, the faster it runs ahead. This is why all the affairs of civilization are rushed, why hardly anyone enjoys what he has, and is forever seeking more and more. Happiness, then, will consist, not of solid and substantial realities, but of such abstract and superficial things as promises, hopes, and assurances.
The real reason why human life can be so utterly exasperating and frustrating is not because there are facts called death, pain, fear, or hunger. The madness of the thing is that when such facts are present, we circle, buzz, writhe, and whirl, trying to get the “I” (ourselves) out of the experience. We pretend that we are amoebas, and try to protect ourselves from life by splitting in two. Sanity, wholeness, and integration lie in the realization that we are not divided, that man and his present experience are one, and that no separate “I” or mind can be found.
To understand music, you must listen to it. But so long as you are thinking, “I am listening to this music,” you are not listening.
The photos are all taken by me unless otherwise credited....