Thursday, August 27, 2015

My Favourite Recipe

Mushroom Tart
© Carolynn Anctil

Living in the country the way we do, I find that we eat a lot less convenience foods and I spend a lot more time in the kitchen poring over recipes and preparing meals. 

I recently purchased a new cookbook by Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen and this Mushroom Tart has become a new favourite. It's a little time consuming to prepare, but well worth it in flavour.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Studio Time

"Corps de Ballet"
"Pink Summer Dress"
"Yellow Slicker"
"Laundry Day"
Original Watercolour Illustrations
© Carolynn Anctil 2015

I've been making a concentrated effort to spend time in my studio illustrating and I'm happy with the results of the increased practice. 

It's also my intention to reproduce several of these images as prints. As soon as I have that worked out, I'll be announcing it here and making those available for purchase.

It feels like Autumn is rapidly approaching. Nights are very cool, although the days are still hot and humid. I'm beginning to harvest fresh produce from my garden and the dinner menu is dictated by whatever is ripe.

Are you seeing signs of the changing seasons where you are? I'd love to hear.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Sweet Delights

Dubble Bubble Gum
© Carolynn Anctil

I grew up on this gum. I was always chewing it. I don't see it around much anymore, but when I do I can't resist buying a couple for old time's sake. The scent alone takes me back. The cartoons contained inside the wrapper still suck, but that's part of its charm.

Funny, it's only today that I noticed it's not spelled "Double".

What sweet memory from childhood do you recall? I'd love to hear.

Monday, August 17, 2015


"Waiting in the Wings" © Carolynn Anctil

It's been too long since I've done any sketching and I feel out of practice. I was inspired to create this piece by a photograph I saw in a magazine by Toshi Otsuki.

There is something very exciting unfolding that I was asked to be a part of. I hope to be able to reveal more to you soon! 

Sunday, August 16, 2015


© Carolynn Anctil

I love lanterns. They exude a soft warmth and harken back to a time when things were simpler. While I've admired lanterns for years, this is the only one I own. I could easily become a collector of these.

What are you drawn to collect? I'd love to hear.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Favourite Smell

Lavender Bee
© Carolynn Anctil

Today's photo prompt is Favourite Smell. I have lots of favourite smells and the scent of fresh lavender ranks right up there with the aroma of freshly baked bread and the first cup of coffee in the morning. 

I've had some small success with growing lavender this year and it thrills me to no end that the bees are enjoying these delicate purple flowers, as well. 

Do you have a Favourite Smell? I'd love to hear.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Last Year

First on the Ladder
© Carolynn Anctil

About this time Last Year, our little flock of hens were settling into their grown-up home in an old grain shed The Frenchman had renovated for them. They were growing up fast and we were soon to discover that Pearl was not a girl, after all. 

What was happening in your world Last Year? I'd love to hear.

Monday, August 10, 2015


Saskatchewan Pyramid
© Carolynn Anctil

From a distance, the mound of earth at a local gravel pit looks remarkably like an ancient pyramid.

Saturday, August 08, 2015


© Carolynn Anctil

This is the fireplace hearth my husband made out of spalted maple. He hand sanded the surface to bring out the spectacular grain that appears to ripple and move even though it's perfectly flat. Honey golden, it practically glows when the sunlight falls on it. Unique and beautiful, it's one of my favourite things in our home.

Do you a favourite thing in your home? I'd love to hear.

Friday, August 07, 2015

Five Facts About Me

Morning Coffee
© Carolynn Anctil

Today's photo prompt is 5 Facts About Me.

1. My morning cup of coffee is a ritual I look forward to and thoroughly enjoy.

2. I take my coffee black.

3. My coffee of choice is Starbuck's Guatemala blend. It's a medium roast with a hint of cocoa. I've tried lots of other coffees and always come back to this one.

4. I always reach for the same coffee cup. I like the slim line, thin lip and narrow handle. 

5. If I'm sick, coffee is the first thing to go. I know I'm feeling better when I want to start drinking it again.

What are 5 Facts About You? I'd love to hear!

Thursday, August 06, 2015


© Carolynn Anctil

It's been months since I've written in my journal. Julia Cameron calls them morning pages and I first started the practice while reading her book, The Artist's Way. Today's photo prompt felt like a nudge to take up my pen and begin again. 

I have beautifully bound notebooks, all neatly stacked and sitting empty. I can't bring myself to mar those pristine pages with my hasty thoughts. I prefer inexpensive, spiral bound journals with lined pages and my pen of choice is equally modest. The ink flows freer on these simple sheets and my thoughts seem to follow suit.

Do you have a journalling practice? I'd love to hear.

Wednesday, August 05, 2015


© Carolynn Anctil

Today's photo prompt was good timing, as I was already slicing lemons for a new batch of my Homemade Lemon Iced Tea.  I love the transparent quality of those juicy pockets of lemony goodness. So fresh and delicious.

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Photo Prompts

© Carolynn Anctil 2015

Monday was the last day of a hot long weekend here in Canada, so I'm doubling up on the Augustbreak photo prompts today.

The Frenchman and I took our dog, Willow for a drive and let her splash around in the shallow end of a local lake. She panics when her feet no longer touch bottom, so she's not much of a swimmer, but her long legs take her pretty far out into the cool water and she has a good time anyway.

© Carolynn Anctil 2015

What did you do this past weekend? I'd love to hear!

Sunday, August 02, 2015


Air 1
© Carolynn Anctil

Today's photo prompt was Air. That's a difficult subject to capture. Nevertheless, The Frenchman and I took a drive to the windmills located a few miles from our home. 

Air 2
© Carolynn Anctil

Stark and eerie, these monolithic structures are mesmerizing to watch as they carve the air with their elegant blades. With no other visible signs of life for acres and acres, they have an alien, otherwordly feel.

Are you participating in Susannah Conway's August Break 2015? I'd love to know!

Saturday, August 01, 2015

August Break Begins Again

© Carolynn Anctil 2015

I'm participating in the August Break photo challenge again, hosted by Susannah Conway. My plate is pretty full, so time and energy will dictate how engaged I'll be.

What was for breakfast in your house today? I'd love to hear.

Friday, July 31, 2015

The Calm Before the Storm

Prairie Farmhouse
© Carolynn Anctil 2015

We've officially listed our home for sale and our search for a new one in British Columbia has begun in earnest. It feels like the calm before the storm because, as anyone knows who has ever sold a house before, once things start happening, it takes on a life of its own.

It's a stressful time and The Frenchman and I decided to take a weekend off from everything "house" related last week and go exploring. We share a love for abandoned buildings and I was drawn to the starkness of this old homestead we happened upon. It must have been a hard life, living out here on the bald prairie. 

What's been happening in your corner of the world? I'd love to hear.

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

The House Where Pearl Lives

"The House Where Pearl Lives"
Photograph by Carolynn Anctil ©2015

I'm supposed to be painting trim in the house today. I just don't have the energy. Ever since we got sick earlier in the year, I've found that I have one good day followed by one not so good day.

On the good days I'm full of energy and can accomplish a long list of tasks. On alternate days, I'm lethargic and have to lay down. 

It's frustrating, but I'm listening to what my body needs and behaving accordingly. The painting will still be there tomorrow and these flowers were calling to me.

What's calling to you today? I'd love to hear. 

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Changes Afoot

Well, it's official.

We've enlisted the aid of a realtor to help us find a new home in British Columbia. We love our house here on the prairies, but just can't handle the weather any more. 

It's a land of extremes here, with temperatures dropping to -40 degrees Celsius in the winter (and that's not including the windchill factor) and soaring to the mid-thirties during the summer months. The wind is a constant on most days and it's relentless.

It's a move of choice, not necessity, so it may take some time to find the right place. In the meantime, we're preparing for a move.

I'm not exactly sure how it's all going to play out and just the thought of moving the chickens makes me hyperventilate. I'm praying for an easy transition. 

Wish us luck!

Anything new in your world that you'd care to share? I'd love to hear.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Mother Hen

We've had an extremely dry Spring this year and are currently experiencing a heatwave with temperatures in the mid-thirties Celsius. Naturally, it's the one time when we don't have a hint of a breeze to help give even the illusion of cooler temperatures.

It's at times like these that my Mother Hen comes out in me. Which is good for my animals, I suppose, but keeps me in a constant state of anxiety worrying about their welfare.

Because the hens ate every last blade of grass in their run last year, The Frenchman built a chicken tractor for them earlier this year so we can get them out on the lawn. It's been working really well, but with the soaring temperatures, we decided to let them free range yesterday so they could find comfort on their own. They behaved quite responsibly and stayed close to the house. It's also where the best shade could be found.

We kept several waterers filled with fresh, cool water and added electrolytes, as well. I also wet down the grass frequently to help cool their feet. 

Frozen unsweetened applesauce is an excellent treat for them in this heat and it also helps maintain proper gut bacteria. Our dog, Willow, enjoys it as well.

Speaking of Willow, both our dog and cat were extremely polite with the hens and Pearl, our rooster, didn't seem at all concerned about them either.

All in all, a good day all things considered.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Summer Pleasures

"Afternoon Tea", "Spring Harvest", "Hat Box"
Original Watercolour Illustrations
by Carolynn Anctil

Summers are busy, aren't they? Suddenly, there's so much to do outside, whether it's gardening, or yardwork, or visiting farmer's markets.

So, I was grateful for a few days of quiet and solitude last week. The peace and serenity I enjoyed was reflected in my artwork, as well, I think.

What summer pleasures have you been enjoying? Do tell.

Thursday, June 18, 2015


"Christopher Croc", "Boxed In", "Goldie"
Original Watercolour Illustrations 
© Carolynn Anctil 2015

I'm slowly beginning to return to the land of the living. The trouble with being sick for so long is that things tend to pile up and I was faced with a long list of things to do once I started to feel better. I took my time weeding my garden plot and planting a few things that have been successful in the past. It won't be a big garden this year. After the demoralizing harvest we had last year, hailstorms notwithstanding, I wasn't going to wear myself out over it. I still tire easily and am approaching it as a lesson in self-compassion by resting when I need to and generally cutting myself some slack.

I've started to spend time in my studio again and, while I haven't committed to another 100 Day Project, it is my intention to establish a daily practice. 

I have a ritual of sorts I employ when I sit down to create. I bring a cup of freshly brewed herbal tea with me, light a candle and invite my muse to join me, along with whatever agents of good would like to enter into my company. I highly recommend this TedTalk by Elizabeth Gilbert.

I've also gotten into the habit of listening to the Harry Potter audiobooks when I sit down to illustrate. I never read the series and do enjoy the imagination of J.K. Rowlings. It also seems to occupy my left brain so my right brain can be free to create without critique.

What about you? Do you have creative rituals you engage in? I would love to hear.

Monday, May 18, 2015

What a Year It's Been So Far

Self Portrait
Original Pencil Sketch
by Carolynn Anctil

All in all, 2015 has been a disappointing year, so far. 

My husband and I have been struggling with our health since February and we now have Walking Pneumonia. We're on our second round of antibiotics and resting as much as we can. It's sapping our energy and we have barely enough to accomplish the simplest of tasks. Walking up a flight of stairs has me huffing and puffing like I've run a marathon.

Consequently, my plans for this year have been severely curtailed until I recover. I was unable to keep up with the daily drawing and set it aside in favour of afternoon naps. I did enjoy the practice and I will begin anew .... when my health returns.

In the meantime, my priorities are all about getting well and looking after my animals. I'll check in from time to time and hope to have better news soon!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

My Week in Drawing

The drawing continues. I'm starting to fall into an uneasy rhythm. I say that because most days, I feel like this is just one more thing that I have to get done in an already busy day. That said, I'm determined to make time for it.

Even if I only have time to toss off a quick sketch on the back of a shopping list, as I did the other day when we took a day trip out of town. The hawk in the top right was the result, hastily drawn at a restaurant table with what I had on hand in my purse before our meal was served.

All of that aside, I'm enjoying this project. I'm enjoying the discipline and the creative process as much as, or more than, the finished project. I'm also pleased to see a body of work forming in my sketchbook. 

And, you? What have you been up to lately? I'd love to hear.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

10 Days In

It's been a busy week. In addition to my regular responsibilities, there was a thorough Spring Cleaning, that included washing doggy nose prints off windows, baking and, of course - drawing.

I'm 10 days into the 100 Days of Drawing project and there have already been days when I feel like the creative well has run dry. Nevertheless, I sit down at my desk, light my candle and put pencil to paper. Amazingly, something comes out.

This quote has been a big source of encouragement to me this past week:

"Don't think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they're deciding, make even more art."    Andy Warhol, Artist.

What has your week been like? I'd love to hear.

I'm participating in the 100 Day Project

Monday, April 13, 2015

The Clouds Are Parting

With the sporadic return of warmer weather, I'm finally beginning to rise out of the dark funk I've been in for the past several months. Blame it on the winter season, the flu or some other thing, it doesn't really matter, the result was the same. Inertia.

One of the things I've committed to doing in an attempt to revive my creativity is to take part in the #100DaysofMaking project. 

I've chosen to Draw every day for 100 days. No pressure. No expectations.

Without going too far into it, I feel that I had become too concerned with outcome. If I was going to spend my time on artwork, it had better be worthwhile, I'd better be making money at it. Sound familiar...? That, I believe, has been a major reason for my descent into the creative abyss.  

Just create has become my new mantra. Release attachment to outcome. Just have fun. 

Some days I'll only have time for a quick sketch. Other days I'll be able to spend more concentrated time on it.

The point of the exercise, as I understand it, is simply to show up and honour my commitment. To this. To me.

I've been using a sketchpad that is completely inappropriate for watercolour, as you can see. I think this was another way in which I had been undervaluing myself and my efforts. 

Beginning today, I'll be using the expensive, good quality, watercolour paper for my sketches. 

I'll be back to share my progress with you periodically. 

If you're interested in participating, it's not too late. Follow the link above or go here to read about the project from its originator, Michael Bierut.
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