new year's eve: one little wish

Some of you might remember that I accidentally became an ordained minister.

(Trust me, no one remains more shocked about this than I am.)

Since I have this title (really), every now and then, I feel like I should do something with it.  And what better day than today?

So -- if you would like me to say a little prayer for your peace, joy and prosperity for 2012, please just leave a comment below.  I'm about to light a little prayer candle in my house, and I'm happy to include you in my thoughts and wishes.

Happy New Year's Eve, everyone.  Have fun tonight, and be careful out there!

 

merry christmas, friends

Photograph by the inimitable Maile Wilson.

 

WELL, THEN.

The 12 Days of Chookooloonks is officially over.  That was a whale of a time, yes?  I can't tell you how much I loved discovering all that talent on the web, and sharing it with you.  I want to sincerely thank all the incredible artists who helped make this 12-day giveaway such a blast -- their generosity was overwhelming.  Every last one of the artists who participated in this little event offered their amazing work while asking for absolutely nothing in return.  I'm so grateful to them all.

So for those of you who enjoyed learning about these talented people, please consider giving them the holiday gift of patronizing their sites.  Again, no one has asked me to say this, but all of the people who were featured are small businesses, and I'm sure they would appreciate your support of their work.  They are:

AnnGeeDee Photography * Bel Kai Designs * Bella Bookmarks * Epiphanie Bags * Gabriela Herman Photography * GWB Design * Igloo Letterpress * Jason Parker Quartet * Jen Lee * Kal Barteski * Katy Keuter * Kelly Rae Roberts * Khristian A. Howell * Kristine Mays * Lara Allee Photography * London vs. Paris * Mondo Beyondo * Sage Brousseau Photography * Superhero Photo * Susannah Conway Photography * The Good Ol' Boy iPhoneography * Your Toy Portrait

And now, to even more important business:  youThanks to all of you who continue to visit Chookooloonks day after day, sharing your thoughts and comments and encouragement with me.  This year has been incredible -- simply incredible.  And I'm acutely aware that so much of it  -- the travel, the opportunities, the connections -- would never have happened without your sweet spirits and generous support of my work.  So thank you.  I really cannot express to you how fully grateful I am, but trust me when I tell you I say a prayer of gratitude every night for your kindness.

With your indulgence, I'm going to take a break from blogging for the rest of 2011:  I'll be spending my non-blogging time with my family and getting ready for the new year.  Also, I'm hoping to cook up lots of new goodness for Chookooloonks when I return, so stay tuned. 

And already I know that I can't wait to get back.

With that, happy holidays, everyone.  Know that our family is wishing you all the joy, kindness, love and peace the season has to offer.

See you in 2012, friends.

 

 

SongHave yourself a merry little Christmas, as performed by Diana Krall

on the 12th day of chookooloonks ... the giveaway to bring joy to every woman-photographer's soul

Maile is a photographer and a blogger, and a few years ago, she grew tired of carrying around industrial-looking camera bags, particularly to events where she was required to dress nicely.  So she decided to do something about it: she did all the research she could on what it would take to design and manufacture her own line of women's camera bags that looked like high-end handbags -- and thus, Epiphanie Bags was formed.

I met Maile about 2 years ago at a blogging conference, when the first samples of her bags were being introduced to the market.  Since that time we have become incredibly close:  she is one of my dearest friends in my offline life, our husbands enjoy each other immensely, and our kids get on like a house on fire.  In fact, this past weekend, Marcus, Alex and I drove to San Antonio to spend the weekend with Maile and her family, where we ate too much, drank too much and laughed far more than the law should allow.  They are wonderful, wonderful people.

Besides all of our holiday-type celebrations, Maile also took me to visit the relatively new headquarters of Epiphanie.  The space is spectacular, and a far cry from her garage, where her business was first conducted.  I kept walking around in awe, staring at and photographing everything she showed me.

I'm so very proud of my friend.

 

 

 

 

 

* * * * * * *

 

Well, folks, here we are:  the very last day of the 12 Days of Chookooloonks.  And because it's the last day, I thought we'd go out with a bang -- featuring the items I think every woman photographer should have.  Strap in, friends:  this is one big, fat, photographer's giveaway.

 

Image courtesy Epiphanie Bags

Clearly I make no secret of my love of Maile, but the truth is that I'd be passionate about her bags even if she wasn't one of my best friends.  Epiphanie bags are seriously beautiful -- you can see for yourself in their catalog -- but even more impressive is how strong and durable they are.  I have several of them, and I love each one more than the last.  And wonderfully, Maile has agreed to contribute an Epiphanie bag of your choice to the winner of today's giveaway.

I told you she was awesome.

Here's more about Maile and Epiphanie:

Artist's statement:  Maile has been a professional photographer for fifteen years. Originally from Maui and California, she now resides in San Antonio, Texas with her husband and three adorable children.

Specializing in family portraits, she has photographed many of the local San Antonio news staff at WOAI TV, as well as celebrities such as Brooke Burke, Eva Longoria, and Tony Parker. Her studio is operated out of San Antonio TX. She travels around San Antonio, Austin, and is increasingly commissioned by clients around the world.

Epiphanie bags are a stylish and functional way to transport your camera every where you go. No need to lug around an extra bulky geeky camera bag or wrap your camera in a hand towel, sweatshirt, or diaper and shove it in your purse.  Epiphanie bags blend function with versatility. These bags are practical enough to use during a photo session but also versatile enough to bring to a ballet recital, concert, or a girls' weekend out.   Whether you're a professional photographer, or just a girl who loves to take pictures, our bags make it easy to bring your camera with you everywhere!

 

 

Image courtesy Susannah Conway

When it comes to photography, my friend Susannah Conway is a true artist:  besides the fact that she has one of the most solidly technical backgrounds in the art of anyone I know (she studied fine art photography at university), she's also one of the most intuitive and expressive photographers I've ever met.  And I say this with knowledge:  I've been a fan of her work for years, and I watched her in action when my family went to Bath a month ago.  This woman is the real deal.

Susannah also provides gives several online courses on various aspects of photography, but her most well-known is her flagship course, Unravelling:  Ways of Seeing My Self.   And so generously, Susannah is contributing a spot in her upcoming course to the winner -- how great is that?  Class starts January 2nd, 2012!

Here's more about Susannah and her work:

Artist's Statement:  Susannah Conway is a photographer, writer and the creator of the Unravelling e-courses. A Polaroid addict and very proud aunt, her first book, This I Know: Notes on Unraveling the Heart (Globe Pequot Press), launches in June 2012. You can read more about her shenanigans on her blog at SusannahConway.com

The Unravelling e-course is an 8-week online class designed to help you heal the way you see your self and your world, using photography and journalling to access hidden thoughts & dreams and encourage personal realisations, all in the safe space of a like-minded community.

 

 

Image courtesy Bel Kai Designs

Also, because I'm still really excited about my latest collaboration with the awesome Bel Kai Designs, the winner of today's giveaway will receive a choice of one of the Beautifully Different bracelets from Bel Kai Designs, with an added moonstone charm.  Your bracelet will be carefully packaged, adorned with an additional gift:  a LoveBand bracelet inscribed "beautifully different" from Mudlove.

 

You'll also receive a signed copy of The Beauty of Different, inscribed to whomever you'd like, and

 

And of course, you'll receive a 2012 Chookooloonks desk calendar (comes packaged in a fold-out CD case), featuring 13 of my favourite images from 2011.

 

See?  BANG.

As always, for a chance to win ALL these gifts, simply leave a comment below, saying whatever you'd like, before 12:00 a.m., Saturday, December 24th, US Central TimePlease leave only one comment.  Also, it doesn't matter where in the world you are.  I'll choose a winner at random using Random.org, and update this post when that person is chosen.

(And of course, understand that there is no guarantee that you will receive any items before Christmas.) 

Good luck!

 

(And once you've left your comment, please head on over to Bliss Your Heart to get a good look at what I've been grateful for this week.)

 

* * * * * * *

AND THE WINNER IS:  According to Random.org, the winner is Gee, who said "may you and your family have the merriest christmas and the happiest new year :)"  Congratulations, Gee!  Please keep a lookout in your inbox for an email from me with instructions on what to do next.

Thanks to everyone who participated in the 12 Days of Chookooloonks -- it was such a great time sharing these artists with you, and seeing your response to them all. Also, thank you all so much for your incredibly kind words.  I appreciate you all.

SongSuddenly I see by KT Tunstall

on the 11th day of chookooloonks ... texas representing

Texas is sort of known for producing beauty queens. 

In fact, we have so many, our coffeehouses are teeming with them.

 

* * * * * * *

 

Welcome to Day 11 of the 12 Days of Chookooloonks!  There was no way I could let these 12 days go by without featuring the truly astounding work of two Texas photographers.  Texas is known for its beauty queens, but it's known for its scenic beauty, as well -- and these photographers do a great job of showing exactly what Texas beauty is all about.

 

Image courtesy AnnGeeDee Photography

I love Angie Dornier's work.  I love that her images are simple, whimsical, and show the easy beauty here in Texas.  So when she contacted me to offer an unframed 11x14" original print of the image above for my little giveaway, how could I possibly say no?  That image is as much about sunny optimism for the new year as it is about the boundless and untamed wildflowers of Texas.  Truly spectacular.

A little more about Angie:

Artist's statement: I am a photographer in Houston, TX offering individual and group instruction, portrait sessions, and fine art prints. Photography is my passion and I shoot from the heart.  I have recently been given the opportunity to pursue what I love and I'm eager to share my enthusiasm with my clients.  I have been “the friend who’s into photography” or “the girl who always carries her camera with her” since sometime in early 2005. And now, after all that practice, I’m ready to play*.  (*Play: I love everything about photography. The exactness. The capturing of a moment. The frustration of trying to get it just right. The angles. The perspective. The hours spent learning and trying and learning and trying again. It is a labor of love. That’s why I call it play.)   I shoot with a Canon 5D, a Canon Powershot SD780, and my iphone 4S.  Find me at anngeedee.com, and on Flickr and Instagram as anngeedee. 

 

 Image courtesy The Good Ol' Boy iPhoneography

I am flat-out no good at taking photographs with my iPhone; I accept this.  This is why I'm always so impressed with people who know what they're doing with their cameraphones.  And this is also why I am absolutely blown away by the work of Joey Garcia, The Good Ol' Boy.  His work, featuring primarily Texas scenery, is nothing short of stunning, and shot with his iPhone, no less!  Happily, Joey is contributing one 12x12" canvas print of the winner's choice of any image from his siteSuch a great gift.

Here's more about Joey:

Artist's statement:  Working the oil fields of the Texas plains, Garcia — otherwise the cool diesel-driving good ol’ boy — has a natural eye for capturing the sublime from the banality of the everyday. Using just his iPhone and digital filters, Garcia’s images evoke a pseudo-impressionistic aura where light awakens the architecture and composition of his subjects. There’s a nostalgic story in each of his images that’s unlocked by the onlooker. That would be you.  ~ Joel Luks, Culturemap.com

 

And as always, you'll receive a 2012 Chookooloonks desk calendar (comes packaged in a fold-out CD case), featuring 13 of my favourite images from 2011.

 

As always, for a chance to win these gifts, simply leave a comment below, saying whatever you'd like, before 12:00 a.m., Friday, December 23rd, US Central TimePlease leave only one comment.  Also, it doesn't matter where in the world you are.  I'll choose a winner at random using Random.org, and update this post when that person is chosen.

(For the duration of the 12 Days of Chookooloonks, please note that there is no guarantee that you will receive any items before Christmas.) 

Good luck, friends!

 

* * * * * * *

AND THE WINNER IS:  According to Random.org, the winner is Catherine, who said "So much beauty! Thank you for sharing it all with us. :)"  Congratulations, Catherine!  Please keep a lookout in your inbox for an email from me with instructions on what to do next.

Thanks for participating, everyone -- tomorrow is the very last day of The 12 Days of Chookooloonks.  And it's a doozy.  Go take a look.


SongThat's right (you're not from Texas) by Lyle Lovett.  I'm not a huge fan of country music, but this song gets me every time.

on the 10th day of chookooloonks ... on expressing your story

The one thing that blogging (and following blogs) almost every day for so many years has taught me is that we all have stories:  really interesting, wonderful, hysterical, touching stories.  Every one of us.   And there's something to be said for writing them down -- recording them -- for posterity.  Whether or not our words will be read by thousands, or stored in an attic somewhere, unread for hundreds of years, there's something very powerful about making experiences tangible. 

It's why I love journaling.  It's why I love photography.

 

* * * * * * *

Day 10 of the 12 Days of Chookooloonks, friends.  Today, two courses that will help you immensely to tell your story.

 Photograph courtesy Jen Lee

Storyteller Jen Lee has been instrumental in teaching me how to record my own story:  it was she who first inspired me to begin journaling.  Since that time, Jen has become quite the force in the New York City storytelling scene, and she has kindly contributed her latest course, Telling Your Story, for my little giveaway.

But Jen tells it best:

Artist's statementJen Lee is an independent media producer and a performer in New York City’s storytelling scene, including The Peabody Award-winning Moth Radio Hour and The Moth Podcast.  She works with emerging icons--pioneering new frontiers, crossing thresholds and stepping into greatness.

Whether we are entrepreneurs, activists or artists, we are learning more and more the importance of employing a story-based approach when communicating about our work to the world. And yet, most of us don't know where to begin, how to select the stories that really matter and pull it all together into powerful presentations. Telling Your Story was created to guide participants from all walks of life step-by-step through this essential process. 

 Telling Your Story includes:

-  3-CD set in an 8-panel digipak: Telling Your Story Sound Studio featuring Jen Lee's full audio workshop, along with extensive interviews professionally recorded with story pioneers and mentors Peter Aguero and Ophira Eisenberg.
-  125-page interactive, 3-ring bound home study curriculum with black and white photography and line drawings by artist Liz Kalloch throughout.
-  8 entryways into discovering your own formative or forgotten stories
-  60 pages of exercises to walk you step-by-step through the journey
-  24 composition pages to insert wherever you need them

 

Then, of course, once you're comfortable with recording your story using words, it's time to begin recording your story using images:

Image courtesy Andrea Scher

I've been a fan of Andrea's photography since we lived in Trinidad -- she has always been one of my photography inspirations.  In addition to her work being technically awesome, she is one of the most expressive photographers I know -- which is why it's so great that this year, she began offering a photography e-course.  What's even better?  She has offered a place in her upcoming course (beginning January 9th) to the winner of today's giveaway.  Score.

Here's more about Superhero Photo:

Artist's statement:  The Superhero Photo course is all about creating a new way into joy, gratitude, and appreciation. Andrea will guide you through 6 weeks of lessons, photo prompts and activities that will transform how you take photos and bring more color and magic into your life.

We will hone our technical skills while opening our eyes to the beauty all around us.

We will find ourselves in that sweet spot where creativity, play and aliveness intersect.

We will have more access to joy.

 

And of course, you'll receive a 2012 Chookooloonks desk calendar (comes packaged in a fold-out CD case), featuring 13 of my favourite images from 2011.

 

As always, for a chance to win these gifts, simply leave a comment below, saying whatever you'd like, before 12:00 a.m., Thursday, December 22nd, US Central TimePlease leave only one comment.  Also, it doesn't matter where in the world you are.  I'll choose a winner at random using Random.org, and update this post when that person is chosen.

(For the duration of the 12 Days of Chookooloonks, please note that there is no guarantee that you will receive any items before Christmas.) 

Good luck!

* * * * * * *

 

AND THE WINNER IS:  According to Random.org, the winner is nwillamon, who said "Oh the stories I could tell!"  Congratulations, nwillamon!  Please keep a lookout in your inbox for an email from me with instructions on what to do next.

Thanks for participating, everyone -- only 2 days left!


SongPut your records on by Corinne Bailey Rae

on the 9th day of chookooloonks ... dreaming big

This time of year makes me itchy.

I love Christmas and everything about it, but that's not what's doing it.  It's the fact that I'm champing at the bit for the new year.  Right about now, I start dreaming about the things that I want to manifest in the next 12 months:  what sorts of things I want for my family.  The kinds of goals I want to set for myself professionally.  Distant lands I'd love to travel to. 

I also start dreaming about my word of the year around this time, as well.  Earlier this fall, I thought I'd found it (ABUNDANCE), but over the last couple of weeks, another word keeps coming up:  EVOLUTION. 

See?  Itchy.

In any event, this time of year, I'm predictably introspective, but also wildly hopeful.

This time of year, I dream big dreams.

 

* * * * * * *

On the home stretch, friends:  today is Day 9 of The 12 Days of Chookooloonks.  Today, I'm so thrilled to feature items which will help you dream big for 2012:

 

Image courtesy of Khristian A. Howell

Khristian A. Howell is a textile designer and an artist, and I've been impressed with her work and reading her blog for some time now.  So needless to say, I was quite flattered when she contacted me and offered to contribute 3 of her "jotters" (shown above) for my giveaway.  These pocket-sized journals would be perfect for capturing your mondo-beyondo-type dreams for 2012. 

Here's more about Khristian:

Artist's statement:  I am a color + pattern expert who is in love with color, travel, and anything French. If you were to ask me what I couldn't live without, my answer would be olives. As a designer, my collections always start with a color story because that's the main source of my inspiration.

 

And speaking of mondo-beyondo-type dreams....

 

Image courtesy Mondo Beyondo

Want to dream big, but don't know where to begin?  Have I got the online course for you:  Mondo Beyondo, led by artists and dreamers Andrea Scher and Jen Lemen.  These two ladies have been wildly successful in helping people overcome their fears and dream big: and they're offering a place in their upcoming course, beginning January 9th.  Are you in?

Here's more about Mondo Beyondo:

Artists' statement:  What happens when you give an unspoken wish a place to become a dream come true? How do you gather the courage required to help a new found dream soar? Join seasoned dreamers Andrea Scher and Jen Lemen to explore Mondo Beyondo -- the powerful point of view that transforms our deepest dreams into practical realities.

 

And again, you'll receive a 2012 Chookooloonks desk calendar (comes packaged in a fold-out CD case), featuring 13 of my favourite images from 2011.

 

As always, for a chance to win these gifts, simply leave a comment below, saying whatever you'd like, before 12:00 a.m., Wednesday, December 21st, US Central TimePlease leave only one comment.  Also, it doesn't matter where in the world you are.  I'll choose a winner at random using Random.org, and update this post when that person is chosen.

(For the duration of the 12 Days of Chookooloonks, please note that there is no guarantee that you will receive any items before Christmas.) 

Good luck, friends!

 

* * * * * * *

 

AND THE WINNER IS:  According to Random.org, the winner is Sarah, who said "this is a mondo beyondo giveaway!!"  Congratulations, Sarah!  Please keep a lookout in your inbox for an email from me with instructions on what to do next.

Thanks for participating, everyone -- only 3 days left!

 

SongDreamin' by Amos Lee.  'Cause that's just good end-of-year dreamin' music, right there.

on the 8th day of chookooloonks ... art & music

So, here's something:  even though I've been doing photography (first as a hobby and then eventually as a full-time gig) for something like 17 years or so, I have only been comfortable calling myself a "photographer," for say, the past three years.

I've been able to consider myself "creative" or "artistic" for only about 2 years.

And I've only had the courage to call myself an actual "artist" in, maybe, 6 months or so.

Why is that, you think?  Why are we so scared of calling ourselves "artists" or "artistic," when there's no denying that we create art, be it by using words, or cameras, or paints, or fabrics, or yarns, or music (or even mathematics or science)?  Is it because we buy into some sort of insulting stereotype about what an "artist" is supposed to be, or we think that artists aren't supposed to be taken seriously unless they are prodigies like Picasso or Mozart?

Or is it just because we're afraid that people will judge our work harshly?

And even if all of those things are true (and they're not), would we stop creating art? Could we?  Should we?

Anyway, my point is that all good things in life happen because of creativity. And artfulness.  And artistic innovation. 

So if you create art in any particular way, I say own it.  Say it strong, say it loud: you're an artist, and you're proud.

* * * * * * *

Last week, Alex called to me from her room.  "Mom, I need a favour."

"What's that?"

"I need you to make a video of me.  I need you to put it on your blog."

So I grabbed my camera, not knowing what she had in mind.  And I recorded the following, unedited 1-minute video of Alex explaining her latest piece art.

I'm not sure why it was important to her for me to share it with you, but far be it from me to deny her request.

Enjoy.

 

 

Man, I hope she never stops experimenting with art.

 

* * * * * * *

So friends, here we are a Day 8 of the 12 Days of Chookooloonks!  Today, I'm giving away the work of two artists who use some of my most favourite mediums to create their art.

 

Image courtesy Katy Keuter

When Katy Keuter contacted me about contributing one of her original paintings for this giveaway, I was only too thrilled to accept.  Katy's images are vibrant and bold and she's not shy about using crazy colour in her acrylic paintings -- just the kind of art I have all over my own home.  And now, the winner of this giveaway will receive the original painting shown in the image above.  How really awesome is that?

Here's Katy's description of her work:

Artist's StatementI have a small shop because each item is truly one of a kind, each handmade item is made by me and me alone with care and love. This year I added vintage treasures to my shop which I am excited about. A big moment to date was last year when I sold two paintings to a curator at the Guggenheim museum in New York, so I actually got to address my paintings to the Guggenhiem museum...they were not shown there but still just writing down the address brought tears and a huge crooked smile. Other big moments are the ones that happen when I am sending out my work around the globe, whether it is something small or big it means something to me...the support that comes from places I never thought it would...well it is humbling to say the least. I feel we are all born to create and the word "create" is not about creating something just in an art form, no it is much bigger than that...a mother, a father, a gardener.... each one is creating something special.  When I create my world feels just right.  Spreading love...that feels right too.

 

Images courtesy The Jason Parker Quartet

I have a real soft spot for The Jason Parker Quartet.  Not only are Jason Parker and his fellow musicians incredibly talented, they also were the main feature of the most fabulously awesome book reading I have ever done:  in January of this year, I read passages from my book while they accompanied me with their jazz stylings, to a very kind audience in an awesomely cool wine bar in Seattle.  It was one of the highlights of my year and my career.  And now, Jason Parker is contributing not one, but all four of their CDs -- their entire collection -- to one lucky Chookooloonks reader.

Here's more about this amazing group:

Artist's statement:  The Jason Parker Quartet is a jazz band with an indie mindset. These four Seattle musicians have carved their own path, honoring the jazz tradition by bringing their own passions and personalities to bear on the music. You’re just as likely to hear the JPQ play their own compositions as you are their signature arrangements of jazz standards or their favorite rock songs from Nick Drake, Elvis Costello and Paul Simon.

The JPQ has been honing their tight swinging sound for three years, which shows in the way they interact with each other on stage and the deep bond that results. Each member of the group pours his passion and excitement into the performance making a Jason Parker Quartet show both musically and visually exciting. More info at http://jasonparkermusic.com

 

 

And as always, you'll receive a 2012 Chookooloonks desk calendar (comes packaged in a fold-out CD case), featuring 13 of my favourite images from 2011.

 

For a chance to win these gifts, simply leave a comment below, saying whatever you'd like, before 12:00 a.m., Tuesday, December 20th, US Central TimePlease leave only one comment.  Also, it doesn't matter where in the world you are.  I'll choose a winner at random using Random.org, and update this post when that person is chosen.

(For the duration of the 12 Days of Chookooloonks, please note that there is no guarantee that you will receive any items before Christmas.) 

Good luck, friends!

 

* * * * * * *

 

AND THE WINNER IS:  According to Random.org, the winner is AppleTree, who said "Ampersand!"  Congratulations, AppleTree!  Please keep a lookout in your inbox for an email from me with instructions on what to do next.

Thanks for participating, everyone -- only 4 more days to go!

on the 7th day of chookooloonks ... simple pleasures

I make no secret here of my love of journaling:  in fact, I journal every weekday morning I can.  The way I do it, it's more of a brain dump:  just a way to get all my thoughts out on paper, and clear my head. 

And in this same vein, someone on twitter sent me a link to this:  why you should have a weekly appointment dedicated to thinking time.  An excerpt:

Being an indie software developer, developing products and running the business, takes lots of time. I work during normal working hours and then often have a "second shift", when the family, or at least the kids, fall asleep. Still, I have enough planned stuff to do, when I'm near my Mac, to fill months of work. And most of this better be done sooner than later.

I'm pretty sure that if you're an indie software developer, a designer, a business man or almost anything where you have some control over your time and work, you know what I'm talking about.

In this state, we may become so reactive to the tasks that need to get done that we just don't stop, take a step back and reflect on the whole situation. We may just forget to think deeply, strategically about the business and even about the work tasks themselves.

Be sure to read the rest  of the article -- in defense of just unplugging and thinking.  It's a great reminder that sometimes just getting back to simplicity is the best way to reinject our lives with awesome.

 

* * * * * * *

Happy Sunday, friends, and welcome to Day 7 of The 12 Days of Chookooloonks!  Today we're giving away the work of a photographer who clearly gets the simple things in life.

Photograph courtesy of Sage Brousseau Photography

When Sage Brousseau contacted me to contribute to the 12 Days of Chookooloonks, I have to admit that I was unfamiliar with her work -- but man, I do love what I saw.  Sage's images are crisp and clear, and leave you feeling like you're witnessing a moment that perhaps wasn't meant to be seen -- something fleeting and perhaps even insignificant, yet undeniably beautiful.  So I was happy to accept her offer to giveaway an 11x14" print of any one of her images on her site -- she does beautiful work.

Artist's statementSage Brousseau is a Boston-based creative lifestyle photographer and artist. Inspired by nature and the beauty of the ordinary, she strives to create images that are simple and evocative, derived from memory and personal history. Her work can be viewed on her website: sagebrousseau.com and on Flickr (www.flickr.com/sagebrousseau). She can also be found on Twitter (@sagebrousseau) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/sagebrousseauphotography).

 

You'll also receive a signed copy of The Beauty of Different, inscribed to whoever you'd like, and

 

A 2012 Chookooloonks desk calendar (comes packaged in a fold-out CD case), featuring 13 of my favourite images from 2011.

 

For a chance to win these prices, simply leave a comment below, saying whatever you'd like, before 12:00 a.m., Monday, December 19th, US Central TimePlease leave only one comment.  Also, it doesn't matter where in the world you are.  I'll choose a winner at random using Random.org, and update this post when that person is chosen.

(For the duration of the 12 Days of Chookooloonks, please note that there is no guarantee that you will receive any items before Christmas.) 

Good luck!

* * * * * * *

 

AND THE WINNER IS:  According to Random.org, the winner is Jen, who said "Love this today! Me & my husband are in the process of filling our house with original art-and Sage's work is precisely what I love! It gives me a sense of the moment that I adore."  Congratulations, Jen!  Please keep a lookout in your inbox for an email from me with instructions on what to do next.

Thanks for participating, everyone -- we're halfway through, and still 5 more days to go!

on the 6th day of chookooloonks ... a good book & a cuppa

In June of 2002, I was living in London, engaged to Marcus, when my employer decided it was time for me to return to Houston.  It was unexpected and sort of a shock:  we were about 8 weeks away from our wedding, and while we hadn't yet determined where we were going to live (Marcus was living in Dublin at the time), we hadn't even considered that we would be moving to the United States.  But we made quick arrangements, and before we knew it, we were scheduling the movers to come to both London and Dublin to transfer our stuff.

One day, the weekend before the movers were supposed to arrive at my flat, Marcus and I were walking on the King's Road in London, which was a block away from where I lived.  There was a tiny boutique there that sold really unusual furniture, and Marcus was immediately drawn to the ridiculously oversized wingback chair you see above.

"Karen, I have to have this," he said, sinking into the seat.  You see, Marcus is 6'5" tall -- and it's a rare chair that can comfortably accommodate his frame.  "This chair was made for me."

I looked at the price tag. "No way," I said.  (Incidentally, this has been the general refrain for most of our marriage:  he sees something I think is unreasonably expensive and exclaims "WANT!" and I respond back "NO WAY, CRAZY." Between his tendency to extravagance and my obsessive frugality we probably end up about where we should.  But it's a battle every time.) "Marcus, we have to buy a house in a few weeks.  And then, we don't even know what furniture we're going to need.  Buying something just because you think it's cool doesn't make sense right now."

"You're right," he said reluctantly.  "Man, it's too bad, though. I love it."

We walked away and continued our day.  But I kept thinking about the chair, and finally reason got the better of me:  we did, after all, need to buy furniture.  And he did love it.

So when the movers came to pack up my stuff, I made them circle over to the little boutique, and I bought the chair without telling Marcus.  He didn't know what I had done until months later, when my shipment arrived in Houston, and the chair was unloaded into our house.

I'm so glad I bought this chair -- because, my friends, this is definitely Marcus' chair.  Whenever he has a quiet moment, he takes a cup of tea and reads in this chair.  He does art in his journal in this chair (Marcus is an incredible artist).  He naps in this chair.  In fact, no one else really uses this chair but him.  It's come to be completely associated with him.

A friend's 5-year-old daughter called it the "Fe Fi Fo Fum" chair.  It so is.  But it belongs to a gentle giant, so it's all good.

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So here we are on the 6th day of the 12 Days of Chookooloonks giveaways!  Today, I'm sharing things that would be perfect for you to take to a quiet corner of your home, along with a really good cup of tea.

 

Image courtesy GWB Designs

So, if you've been reading Chookooloonks for any length of time, you know I'm a tea drinker.  I love me a good tea, and drink it all day long, in one of my 2 or 3 favourite mugs.  But you know what's annoying about drinking tea out of a mug?  The issue of what to do with the spent teabag.   It seems ridiculous to dirty a saucer for something as small and insignificant as a teabag, but then carrying it dripping to the garbage can has its own issues.

As you can see, sometimes I concern myself with not-particularly-profound things.

Anyway, I was so happy when Gloria and her daughter Tameshia contacted me about participating in this giveaway, because look what Gloria makes:  ceramic teabag holders!  Actually, she makes a lot of things (available at her etsy store, GWB Designs), but the teabag holders, sized perfectly to hold the bowl of a teaspoon or a teabag, completely charmed me.  And so, she is offering a set of three ceramic teabag holders in navy blue (or green, your choice) for you to place your spent teabags (or, if you're not a tea drinker, your spare change, your rings, or whatever).  Adorable yes?

Here's more about Gloria: 

Artist's statement:  Though I have been a potter for 20+ years I have never defined myself as an artist until recently.  I am an artist and combine jewelry making, masks and pottery to create my own style of art. I enjoy clean, organic pieces with unusual combinations. I love the creative process and the ability to create one-of-a-kind items. It brings me joy beyond what can be put into words and consistently draws me to create, to grow and to evolve as well as to assist others in finding their creative spirit.

 

Image courtesy London vs. Paris

I make no secret of my love for London, and Paris is one of my favourite cities in the world -- so it's not that shocking that the photoblog London vs. Paris is one of my favourite spots on the internet.  The brainchild of London photographer Xanthe Berkeley and Paris photographer Irène Nam, the blog is sort of photographic scavenger hunt, presented as diptychs:  London on the left, Paris on the right.  It is pure, dreams-of-travel-to-romantic-places heaven.

Xanthe contacted me when I put out my call for photographers, and telling me they'd love to contribute their lovely postcard set, featuring some of their favourite diptychs.  Since they look like exactly the perfect medium to write an unexpected note to send to a friend you haven't spoken to in a while, I was thrilled to accept.

Here's more about the beautiful London vs. Paris:

Artists' statementLondon vs Paris is blog between two photographers, Xanthe living in London and Irene living in Paris. They go on a photographic treasure hunt to capture the ordinary things found in their cities, and compare the similarities and differences. They have never meet each other in person but have been pleasantly surprised by the serendipity of some of the diptychs, that seem so similar in terms of composition, colour or content, that they almost look planned. They are not planned and this is the beauty of this project....  Their first product from London vs Paris shop is a set of postcards, with plans for more things is 2012.

 

Also, because cozy nooks required something to read, you'll receive a signed copy of The Beauty of Different, inscribed to whoever you'd like.

 

And finally, you'll receive a 2012 Chookooloonks desk calendar (comes packaged in a fold-out CD case), featuring 13 of my favourite images from 2011.

 

For a chance to win these prices, simply leave a comment below, saying whatever you'd like, before 12:00 a.m., Sunday, December 18th, US Central TimePlease leave only one comment.  Also, it doesn't matter where in the world you are.  I'll choose a winner at random using Random.org, and update this post when that person is chosen.

(For the duration of the 12 Days of Chookooloonks, please note that there is no guarantee that you will receive any items before Christmas.) 

Good luck, friends!

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AND THE WINNER IS:  According to Random.org, the winner is Agnes, who said "What a beautiful story about the chair!"  Congratulations, Agnes!  Please keep a lookout in your inbox for an email from me with instructions on what to do next.

Thanks for participating, everyone -- we're halfway through, and still lots more awesome to come!

 

SongPirraça, as performed by Vanessa da Mata

on the 5th day of chookooloonks ... peace, love & colour

Houston is not known for its fall foliage -- unless by "fall foliage" I mean "sad brown leaves." And this year, with the droughts and the wildfires, leaves have been browner than usual, far earlier than usual.

But last week, we had an unusual cold snap (highs in the 40F's!), and this week ... well, I could be wrong, but ... it seems like a lot of trees have decided to use the cold snap to make like we're in New England.  I'm seeing lots of yellows and reds and oranges and even golds lining the streets.  I mean, don't get me wrong -- this is nowhere near Vermont in October -- but .... there seems to be a change.

So earlier this week, in the middle of the day, I went outside and took some photographs.  The neighbourhood was peaceful and very quiet (all of my neighbours must have been at work), and all I could hear was the wind through the trees under the grey skies.

And it was really, really nice.

(Incidentally, and as always, I'm talking about everything I'm grateful for (including the fall foliage) over at my gratitude blog, Bliss Your Heart today.  Please head over to Babble.com and check it out.)

 

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Welcome to Day 5 of the 12 Days of Chookooloonks, friends.  Today, I'm sharing with you the work of two artists who are epitomizing peace and love.

 

Photograph courtesy of Lára Allee Photography

I was so thrilled when Lára contacted me, offering her beautiful work for my giveaway:  her photography is crisp and the colours are vibrant, and represent exactly what I try to achieve myself when I photograph flowers and other wildlife.  Lára has graciously offered, not one, but three of her photographs -- 3 individual images above, each 8x10" and unframed, representing three stages of a lotus opening in bloom.  And since the lotus represents peace and enlightenment, how could I resist?

Here's more about Lára:

Artist's statement:  Lára Allee is a recovering Theater major who has found her creative home in photography.  Specializing in nature and macro photography, she lives in Arlington, VA with her husband of three years. Lára received her first camera at the age of 10, and has been a fan ever since.   She believes that photography must be in the blood, as both her parents are avid photographers and gave her an early crash course in composition.  Lára began selling her work on Etsy last year, after a few inquiries from friends.  More of her work can be seen here. She also enjoys traveling to far off lands, good food, and reading on her kindle.

 

 So once we have peace and enlightment, it's only fitting we add love:

Photo courtesy Kristine Mays

I love Kristine Mays' art.  I love the way she uses wire in a seemingly chaotic fashion, yet yielding typographically-perfect letters and other astonishing forms.  I love it so much, in fact, I purchased a "K" for myself years ago, and it sits in a place of honour in my studio office.  So when she offered her awesome "LOVE" letters (shown above) for the 12 Days of Chookooloonks giveaway, I didn't skip a beat in accepting.  These letters would be awesome in literally any room in your home.

Here's more about Kristine:

Artist's statementKristine Mays is an artist from San Francisco, CA. She creates life-size sculptures of garments from hundreds of pieces of wire. In creating garments out of wire Kristine Mays has managed to create the essence of the person wearing the garment as the invisible occupant is revealed among the folds and shapes that give life to the sculpture. The viewer is given the option of focusing on the physical or seeing the “soul” that has been captured.”   Kristine has exhibited her work in the San Francisco Bay Area and Northern California over the past 18 years. She has raised thousands of dollars for AIDS research through the sale of her work, benefiting local and global efforts. Collectors of her work include an eclectic mix of people, with her work hanging in many Bay Area homes and many private collections throughout the United States. You can see here large-scale sculptures at www.kristinemays.com.   A few years ago she started the tiny treasures project, selling small pieces that she created when resting from working on her larger sculptures. This project grew from a desire to make her work accessible to people all over the world.

 

 

And again, you'll receive a 2012 Chookooloonks desk calendar (comes packaged in a fold-out CD case), featuring 13 of my favourite images from 2011.

 

As always, for a chance to win these gifts, simply leave a comment below, saying whatever you'd like, before 12:00 a.m., Saturday, December 17th, US Central TimePlease leave only one comment.  Also, it doesn't matter where in the world you are.  I'll choose a winner at random using Random.org, and update this post when that person is chosen.

(For the duration of the 12 Days of Chookooloonks, please note that there is no guarantee that you will receive any items before Christmas.) 

As always, good luck!

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AND THE WINNER IS:  According to Random.org, the winner is Kate, who said "Love it all!"  Congratulations, Kate!  Please keep a lookout in your inbox for an email from me with instructions on what to do next.

Thanks for participating, everyone -- 7 more days left!

 

Song:  Peace, love & happiness by G. Love & Special Sauce